March 20, 2004
This plot summary is not the one I originally wrote, but my later revision from the Chrono Trigger Wikipedia article. I was a much better writer by then, so I've ported it here. Enjoy reading the magnificent events that began the Chrono series and sealed Chrono Trigger's status as a classic in the annals of video game history. For old time's sake, the original is at Original CT Summary.
Chrono Trigger Plot Summary
From the Beginning to the End of Time
Chrono Trigger's story begins with the Millennial Fair of 1000 A.D., a celebration of the millennium since the founding of the Kingdom of Guardia. The protagonist, Crono, is awakened by his mother and proceeds to Leene Square, where the fair is being held. After accidentally bumping into a girl named "Marle", they quickly become friends and visit the main attraction of the fair, a teleportation device constructed by Crono's inventor friend, Lucca. An eager volunteer, Marle disappears when the demonstration goes awry and reacts with her pendant, teleporting her through a mysterious portal. Determined to find his new friend, Crono retrieves the discarded pendant and Lucca activates the machine once more, sending Crono through the same portal. He reappears in a forest grove, and upon finding a nearby town learns that he has gone back in time four hundred years. At Guardia Castle, he soon discovers Marle dressed in royal garb, and she reveals that the queen of Guardia in this era, Leene, has gone missing. A search party found Marle, and — mistaking her for the queen — brought her to the castle. A moment later, Marle vanishes once again and Lucca arrives, having created a device called the "Gate Key" that allows her to open nearby time portals. Lucca determines that Marle is actually the princess of Guardia in 1000 A.D., and that the death of her missing ancestor could cause Marle to never exist. With the help of a talking, humanoid frog called "Frog", Crono and Lucca discover that Queen Leene was kidnapped by the "Mystics", intelligent animals and demonic creatures who worship the wizard Magus. They then rescue her, save Marle and return to their own time
There, Crono is placed on trial for allegedly kidnapping Marle. Through the manipulations of the king's chancellor, Crono is sentenced to death, but later breaks free from his prison. While making his escape, he locates Lucca and Marle, and the three flee into a nearby forest, where they are cornered by royal soldiers. There, the king asks Marle to return to his side, but she refuses due to his ill consideration of her friends and personal wishes. The three adventurers then stumble into a time gate activated by Lucca's Gate Key, and escape to a future era. There, they are shocked to find a devastated world filled with the ruins of advanced technology. While investigating a large dome structure, they discover a video recording of the destruction of the game world's surface, caused by a creature called "Lavos", who had been dwelling inside the planet's mantle until 1999 A.D. Determined to stop Lavos before it can destroy the world, the group enlists a robot from the future called "Robo" and — via another "time gate" — arrive at the End of Time, where an enigmatic old man offers advice to the player for the game's quest. Additionally, various time gates located here allow access to all eras significant to the storyline.
Forward to the Past
Crono and his friends return to 1000 A.D., and soon discover that Magus apparently created Lavos during the Middle Ages. They return to 600 A.D. and learn that they must obtain a sword called the "Masamune" in order to defeat Magus, but that only the legendary "Hero" can wield it. After helping Guardia's knights defend against an assault from Magus' army, they climb the Denadoro mountains and discover from its guardians, Masa and Mune, that the Masamune is broken. It is soon revealed that the legendary Hero is actually Frog, who keeps the hilt of the Masamune, and that the sword was made by Melchior, a swordsmith living in Crono's time. Returning to 1000 A.D., Melchior informs Crono and his companions that they require Dreamstone, a rock only found in ancient times, to repair the Masamune. The player must then guide the adventurers to 65,000,000 B.C. via a time gate at the End of Time in order to locate the mineral. There the party meets the cavewoman Ayla, who gives Crono Dreamstone after he wins a drinking contest with her. However, the Gate Key is stolen the next day by Reptites, advanced humanoid dinosaurs who are at war with humans, whom they refer to as "apes". Ayla helps Crono retrieve the Gate Key, and he and his friends return to Melchior's hut. With the aid of Lucca and Robo, Melchior repairs the blade, and Frog agrees to accompany Crono to Magus' castle and wield the Masamune against him.
There, they fight Magus' generals — Ozzie, Flea and Slash — and an army of Mystics before facing Magus himself, who was in the process of casting a spell involving Lavos. Upon his defeat, he reveals that he did not create Lavos, but merely intended to summon it, and that the creature lies within the planet, siphoning its energy. The interruption of Magus' summon spell causes a massive time gate to open, swallowing Magus' castle and everyone within. Crono and his friends awaken in 65,000,000 B.C. once again, and after helping Ayla defeat the Reptites for a final time at their central fortress, it is revealed to the player that Lavos is an extraterrestrial life form that arrived on the world during this era. Discovering a new time gate at Lavos' impact crater, they visit the ancient, enlightened Kingdom of Zeal in 12000 B.C., where they learn more about the creature. This floating kingdom had recently discovered Lavos, and — seeking to drain its power — constructed a conduit for the energy known as the "Mammon Machine" and a facility to house it called the "Ocean Palace". A mysterious prophet in Zeal warns the kingdom's queen about the adventurers, and they are forced to return to 65,000,000 B.C., with the time gate they used then sealed. Unable to return to Zeal via the time gate, they go to the End of Time for advice and learn of the Wings of Time, a time machine constructed by Belthasar, a Guru of Zeal sent to the far future. Locating the machine in 2300 A.D., they rename it "Epoch" and return to 12000 B.C., where they learn that the Ocean Palace is soon to be activated. Rushing to the facility, they witness Lavos awakening, disturbed by the Mammon Machine. At this time, the prophet reveals himself to be Magus and attempts to destroy Lavos, but is defeated and his powers drained.
Journeys Across Time
Crono then challenges the creature, attempting to save the lives of his companions, but Crono is killed, his body vaporized by the monster. Lavos then destroys the entire kingdom, transports its prince, Janus, to the Middle Ages, and sends the three Gurus — Melchior, Belthasar and a man named "Gaspar" — to various places throughout time. Before the remaining party members and Magus can be killed, Schala, Zeal's princess, saves them by transporting them out of the palace and to the only remaining human settlement while she remains behind. However, Crono's friends have little time to grieve before Dalton, a former leader of security in the kingdom, arrives at the village and declares himself ruler of the world. Having saved the Blackbird — an ornate airplane — from destruction, he interns the party aboard and takes to the sky. Additionally, Dalton impounds the Epoch, and has his henchmen give it flight capabilities. The party soon escapes, however, and defeats Dalton in a battle atop the redesigned Epoch, which the adventurers then use to accidentally blast the Blackbird while they escape. Distraught over Crono's death, they meet with Magus, who reveals that he is Janus Zeal, and grew up in the Middle Ages waiting for a chance to get revenge on Lavos. Moreover, he offers the party members the opportunity to settle their feud in a final battle, and informs them that Gaspar could possibly help bring Crono back. Should the player refuse to fight Magus, he then joins the party. Visiting the old man at the End of Time, the player learns that he is Gaspar, transported here during Lavos' destruction of Zeal. He gives them an egg-shaped device called the "Chrono Trigger", which he explains allows for a special form of time travel. Following his instructions, they soon use the device to visit the moment of Crono's death and freeze it in time, extracting him from the moment just before he would have been killed.
With the team reassembled, the group visits Gaspar once again, who relates various issues affecting the world across the eras. He suggests that participating in these optional sidequests will help the party prepare for Lavos. Traveling to 600 A.D., they defeat a creature named "Retinite" who caused a forest to become a desert. To help cultivate the forest and ensure its survival, the party leaves Robo behind, and he spends the next several hundred years working to maintain the land. Returning to pick him up in 1000 A.D., the group holds a campfire reunion in the forest and speculate that the gates through time were created by an entity other than Lavos, who wished for the adventurers to travel through time and fulfill a specific purpose. After the group falls asleep, a mysterious red time gate appears, which Lucca enters. Traveling to 990 A.D., Lucca has the opportunity to save her mother from the accident that cost her the use of her legs. The incident prompts Lucca's younger self to take up an interest in machinery so that she can prevent any future accidents. Additionally, the party confronts the few remaining members of Magus' army in 600 A.D. His former generals, now realizing that he was only using the Mystics, attack the group once again, but die in the battle that follows. In 2300 A.D., the journey takes them to the facility where Robo was constructed. There, they discover that the programming of his AI creator, Mother Brain, has become corrupt, and that she is using the facility as an extermination plant for humans. With much regret, Robo destroys both his creator and reprogrammed friend, Atropos, shutting down the facility's system. Later, in 1000 A.D., the party learns that the ghost of Frog's friend, Cyrus, is haunting ancient ruins near a town. Traveling there, Frog visits the grave he had constructed for his friend, and helps his spirit find peace, even if he did not kill Magus.
DS: The Lost Sanctum
In Chrono Trigger DS, at this point, the party visits the Lost Sanctum—a swath of land containing a Reptite settlement form prehistory that became detached from normal time and exists in its own dimension. The party clear out monsters in search of inhabitants, and the Reptites are grateful. They offer more tasks for the party, who travel back and forth from a prehistoric Lost Sanctum to a sanctum dating from the Middle Ages to accomplish their requests. They ward off prehistoric attacks and monsters, help a sickly child get better, find friends for a lonely Nu, and help complete a bridge in the Middle Ages sanctum to a haunted tower. They defeat the spirits in the tower and discover that the Reptites' "Heavenly Idols" are in fact statues of the party built by the prehistoric sanctum dwellers. Amused at their legacy, they depart and continue training for Lavos.
Preparations and Showdowns
On another journey, the party embarks to find the Sun Stone, a mythical artifact once used as a power source in Zeal. They locate it in a lost stronghold of the kingdom, uprooted from the sea floor in 2300 A.D., but learn that its power has burned out. Taking it to 65,000,000 B.C., they leave it to recharge over the course of millions of years, but later find that it was looted in 1000 A.D. In order to coax it from its captor, the greedy Porre mayor, they travel to 600 A.D. and teach charity to his ancestor by giving food to him and his wife. With the Sun Stone secured, in 600 A.D. they soon discover another legendary artifact, the Rainbow Shell. Located in the underground remains of the Reptite fortress — preserved since its destruction in 65,000,000 B.C. — the large shell is too large for the group to remove, so they procure the aid of the Middle Age's King Guardia XXI, who stores the large shell in Guardia Castle. However, when the party returns to 1000 A.D., they find that Marle's father, King Guardia XXXIII, is being put on trial by his own chancellor for allegedly attempting to sell the shell, now a royal heirloom. Crono and his companions soon publicly reveal the chancellor to be a Mystic imposter, defeat him and help Marle and her father put their differences aside.
Finally, the adventurers infiltrate the arisen Ocean Palace — now called the "Black Omen" — where Queen Zeal still resides, having survived Lavos' destruction of her kingdom and become a puppet to the creature's power. The party defeats the corrupted queen and destroys the Mammon Machine at the heart of the palace, causing the entire facility to be disintegrated. A final confrontation with Lavos itself follows, in which the party first penetrates the creature's shell, and then discovers that Lavos has been harvesting DNA on the planet in self-directed evolution while absorbing the energy produced. Presented with the results of Lavos' controlled genetics, they confront its true form and finally destroy the creature.
The actual ending of the game depends on when the player defeated Lavos, as well as some other choices that can produce minor variations. The first time through the game, team members say their goodbyes during the last night of the Millennial Fair and return to their own eras in time. Additionally, if Magus joined the party earlier, it is revealed that he now plans to search for his missing sister, Schala. Crono's mom then accidentally enters the time gate at the fair before it closes, however, prompting Crono, Marle and Lucca to set out in the Epoch on another adventure to find her while fireworks light up the night sky.
Chrono Trigger DS contains a new interactive ending showing further aftermath of the travels. The party's observation of these events are non-canonical, but the events themselves are. On a New Game +, the party discovers three dimensional vortices have formed in 12000 B.C., 1000 A.D., and 2300 A.D. The vortices are damaged places of space-time containing fragments of several eras. Inside, they discover that Dalton fell into the dimensional vortex after his fight atop the Epoch, and is planning to return to the present age to raise an army in Porre and destroy the Kingdom of Guardia as revenge. After the vortices are completed, the party ventures to the Darkness Beyond Time, where they find Magus after having defeated Lavos. Magus takes them to the Dream Devourer, a fusion of the defeated Lavos and Schala, who fell into the DBT at the Ocean Palace Incident. The party futilely fight the Dream Devourer, which repels them. Schala then awakens and tells Magus he cannot save her, and that he should live out his life before she completes the fusion and destroys all space-time. Magus, totally dejected, erases his identity and awakens in a forest in an unknown time period, feeling he must search for something.
For specific events that occurred during Serge's quest, check my the Chronology.
To find out what happened to the team after the adventure, read Fates of the Chrono Trigger Team.
Lastly, these charts, explained further in the article Principles of Time and Dimensional Travel, better depict the progression of timelines and dimensions:
Thanks be to the Compendium and its readers.