Netflix’s DreamWorks-produced animated fantasy series, Tales of Arcadia, is thrilling young audiences, but its timeline is far more complex than may be expected – what order should the installments be watched? Created by Guillermo del Toro, Tales of Arcadia functions somewhat as an anthology series, with different characters in the same setting exploring their magical world. With the stories and characters of Trollhunters, 3Below, and Wizards interacting together, it is difficult to know which subseries to watch first.
Tales of Arcadia features a world of magic and wonder hidden just outside humanity’s view, centered on the unassuming town of Arcadia. Trolls live in the Trollmarket, located just beneath the Earth’s surface, while magic-users and wizards of Arthurian legend exist hidden among common people. Even aliens from distant planets wind up in Arcadia, bringing intergalactic stakes to this already bustling world. Much in the MCU crossover style, the individual heroes and villains of this world don’t exist isolated from everything else. Trollhunters help wizards and aliens, united against the cooperating forces of evil.
There are many aspects to the Tales of Arcadia series that draw audiences; the action and humor are abundant, and the animation is excellent, particularly in the intense battle scenes. Most of all, Tales of Arcadia has a uniquely complex story for a youth-geared audience. This takes full effect in Wizards and the climactic Rise of the Titans, the series’ film finale, as characters across all stories are fighting together in a unified story relating to each of their arcs. With that in mind, here is a guide to Tales of Arcadia’s timeline, and the best order to watch the shows.
Trollhunter Watch Order – All Shows & Movies
It is exciting to see favorite characters returning in stories outside their own, and each story benefits from overlapping one another, allowing Guillermo del Toro’s Arcadia vision boundless potential. However, while this intertextuality does create thrillingly high stakes for the final two installments, it may seem confusing to new viewers where to begin watching. Here’s the best order to watch Trollhunters:
- Trollhunters: Part 1 (2016)
- Trollhunters: Part 2 (2017)
- Trollhunters: Part 3 (2018)
- 3Below: Part 1 (2018)
- 3Below: Part 2 (2019)
- Wizards (2020)
- Rise of the Titans (2021)
Tales of Arcadia In The Trollhunters Timeline
Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia centers around the story of James “Jim” Lake Jr., a fifteen-year-old high school student who stumbles upon a magical amulet. This inadvertently causes him to be chosen as the next Trollhunter, a hero that defends the worlds of trolls and humans from evil forces. Though he is initially reluctant to accept his new responsibilities, Jim grows to understand and fulfill his heroic destiny as the Trollhunter.
Trollhunters: Part 1 takes place from the fall of 2016 through the winter of 2017, in which Jim amasses his team from allied trolls and his friends, Toby Domzalski and Claire Nuñez, and attempts to recover Claire’s baby brother from evil trolls. In Trollhunters: Part 2’s spring of 2017, Jim gets rescued from the Darklands, and is subsequently put on trial for violations against the troll law, secretly a plot orchestrated by the evil sorceress Morgana. Trollhunters: Part 3 concludes in 2017’s midsummer, freeing Claire from Morgana’s possession, culminating in the final battle between Jim, Morgana, and series antagonist Gunmar.
3Below In The Trollhunters Timeline
3Below: Part 1 takes place during the events of Trollhunters: Part 3. In this part of the series, royal alien siblings, Aja and Krel Terron, crash land in Arcadia while escaping a coup on their home planet. While they avoid numerous attempts by bounty hunters to locate them, the siblings attempt to build a ship to travel their way home, ultimately finding themselves trapped on Earth.
3Below: Part 2 takes place over the remainder of summer 2017, during which Aja and Krel get introduced to the troll world, getting assistance from Trollhunters’ Toby Domzalski. The series’ primary antagonist, Morando, gains long-sought power and attempts to destroy the siblings for good. In the end, it is only by a surprise sacrifice that the galaxy and the Terron siblings are saved.
Wizards In The Trollhunters Timeline
The Wizards installment of Tales of Arcadia is where the timeline gets complicated. Although the first episode, “Spellbound,” does mainly occur immediately after the events of 3Below: Part 2 the bulk of the series is in 12thcentury Camelot, far before Trollhunters. Apprentice wizard Hisirdoux “Douxie” Casperan is the central figure in this series, though characters from Trollhunters and 3Below play significant roles here.
In Wizards, the Arcane Order, a group of evil demigods, attempts to destroy the world in order to rebuild it. As the master wizard Merlin defends the Earth, Douxie and the trollhunters get sent to ancient Camelot. There, they struggle to secure the timeline while participating in King Arthur’s anti-magic war, before returning to the present to again combat the Arcane Order. While Douxie and allies appear able to defeat the Arcane Order, the Order’s leader survives, foreshadowing an act of coming revenge.
Rise of the Titans In The Trollhunters Timeline
Rise of the Titans: Tales of Arcadia occurs towards the end of 2018, during fall, about a year after Wizards. In this movie, the Arcane Order attempt to kidnap Nari, a demigod of the order who became good in Wizards. While the Order forces her to complete their ritual summoning enormous, world-ending Titans, Jim, Douxie, and Claire lead various missions to unlock Jim’s amulet, slow down the Order, and recover a time-traveling device called the Krohnisphere.
Nari, freed, manages to destroy one of the Order’s Titans, but sacrifices herself in the process. Jim figures out the secret to unlocking his amulet and combats the final Titan. Toby delivers an alien device that disrupts magic, neutralizing the final Order member and their Titan, allowing for Jim to end the battle, although Toby is crushed in the resulting debris. Using the Krohnisphere, the Trollhunters ending sees Jim return to the first episode of Trollhunters, where he allows an alternate version of Toby to become the hero Trollhunter, effectively resurrecting his friend and ending the series.
Chronologically, the Tales of Arcadia timeline does have some significant deviations from its release order. Put more simply, time-traveling Douxie initially leads his team through King Arthur’s war in Wizards. Thousands of years later, Jim discovers the amulet and initiates the events of Trollhunters. Also at this time, Jim resurrects Toby, as seen in Rise of the Titans. During the last part of Trollhunters, 3Below begins, ending its arc right before the modern-day episodes of Wizards start. Following Wizards, Rise of the Titans is the final event on the known Tales of Arcadia timeline.
Why Rise Of The Titans Is A Great Stopping Point For Tales Of Arcadia
Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans was the perfect ending point for Del Toro’s time with Tales of Arcadia. It finally brought the cast of all three shows together for an epic adventure and, by the end, had wrapped up pretty much all loose ends. Fans even got to see Steve and Aja have kids, since the 7th kiss with an Akiridions inseminates the male in the relationship, even if they’re human. Steve and Aja’s seven babies aside, though, Rise of the Titans finished with Jim resetting the Trollhunters timeline like Captain America returning the stones in Endgame. Not only was this necessary to save Toby, but it also meant the movie ended with Jim as the only person who remembers anything about Trollhunters, Arcadia, aliens, and magic. It’s insinuated that because of Toby’s sacrifice, Jim is setting up events in the renewed timeline so that it’s Toby, and not himself, who finds the Trollhunter amulet by the canal from episode 1 of Trollhunters. By sacrificing himself, Toby more than proved he’s the defender both Earth and Arcadia need, and Jim seems to be making sure Toby’s allowed to become the hero he should always have been.
The memory-wipe aspect means Tales of Arcadia’s stories could be retold by Guillermo Del Toro but end completely differently, and it also opens the doors for new stories. As every time-travel movie and TV show has proved, small changes have significant consequences for entire timelines. Toby finding the Trollhunter amulet, even if Jim’s intentions in the Rise of the Titans epilogue are good when he steers Toby toward it, might create a catastrophic butterfly effect. There are not yet any plans to renew the Tales of Arcadia properties, but Guillermo Del Toro hasn’t written off working on the franchise again and seems keen to do so. “I just pitched a crazy idea to DreamWorks,” Del Toro said in a post-Rise of the Titans interview when asked about the future of the franchise (via CBR), “which is to generate two shorts a year for the next four years where we continue capping these things and have fun. I don’t know if [it is] going to happen or not, but we wanted to have a choice.“
Even if Del Toro’s desire to continue with Tales of Arcadia doesn’t come to fruition, other directors and producers could step in to fill his shoes. Trollhunters‘ Pacific Rim reference numbered among some huge moments that had audiences coming back for more, and the Arcadia universe is far-reaching. It has many more stories to tell, even if it doesn’t reuse the characters from Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans. The final Tales of Arcadia movie only came out in 2021, which is still far too recent to write off a potential follow-up. There’s been no news of one yet, but if Netflix is ever looking to expand on their existing IPs, Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans ended the first chapter of Arcadia stories in a way that left fans itching for a second but also wrapped up the existing story in an ideal way.
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