Geek Theories: What Happened to Schala in Chrono Trigger?

What a coincidence that a time-traveling hero would be named Crono...

As video games go, I’ve long been a fan of JRPGs. While many are far from perfect, they do tend to create fascinating, elaborate worlds that are fun to explore and reward the completest types like myself who want to explore every corner of the world. While most people worship the Final Fantasy series, and to be fair there are a lot of good games in it, my personal favorite is Chrono Trigger.

If you’re too young to have heard of Chrono Trigger, it’s a Super NES game which tells the story of Crono, a boy who, along with his friends Marle, a plucky princess in disguise, and Lucca, a shy but brilliant inventor, are catapulted across time itself through a combination of science and magic. When they learn that their world will be destroyed one thousand years after their time by an evil entity called Lavos, they set about trying to stop it by traveling through different critical points of history and making friends with people from those eras.

While I could certainly go on about how great the game is in general, that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to talk about two major loose ends left in the game which sent my teenaged self into paroxysms of madness trying to solve them. The major one is the character of Schala, and how her disappearance is never resolved. Her presence is in fact dealt with in the sequel Chrono Cross, but I personally consider Cross to be a far inferior game, and its resolution of the plot to be wildly unsatisfactory. Thus, I’ve devised my own.

"I'm the Time Devourer? And I'm blonde now? What the hell, Chrono Cross"
“I’m the Time Devourer? And I’m blonde now? What the hell, Chrono Cross”

Schala is the princess of Zeal, an Atlantis-style civilization led by the mad Queen Zeal, and powered by Lavos itself. In her quest for power, Zeal accidentally awakens Lavos, who destroys her civilization and hurls her closest advisors and children across the timestream, though Zeal herself becomes Lavos’s chief servant. All of this is made possible by Schala, who, despite being kind at heart, is easily bullied into carrying out her mother’s will. During the course of the game, we encounter all the characters from this time period that Lavos transported, except for Schala. The game ends with her brother, The Magus, hunting her across time.

So what happened to her? Well, assuming we reject the solution of Chrono Cross, which I do, Schala must have gone somewhere in the timestream, and must play some part in the story as it unfolds. There is another point in the game where something more or less unexplained is posited. There is a small arc in which Robo, the noble robot, spends 400 years rebuilding a forest, only for the rest of the gang to jump forward in time to find him having completed his task. When they do, Robo says that during those long centuries, he had a great deal of time to think, and it occurred to him that some Entity, a consciousness he could not describe, was guiding his friends on their journey. In a potentially foreshadowing move, the normally sullen and silent Magus asks who the Entity is, and through the course of the game, we are given no answer, with the Entity being briefly mentioned only one more time.

If you know how my tricky brain works, you’ve probably already figured out where I’m going with this. My theory is that Schala herself is the Entity. The various characters hurled through time by Lavos all ended up in different eras, but perhaps instead of ending up outside of time, as was suggested by Chrono Cross, Schala became somehow diffused across all the eras. What if she decided that, because much of what happened was her fault as a result of her being unable to refuse her mother’s mad requests, she decided to make things right? Therefore, Schala begins to guide the heroes of the game, about half of whom are either directly related to her (Marle, Ayla, and Magus), to fixing the evil she helped cause. The pendant used to begin the quest was hers, and when Marle used it to interact with Lucca’s teleportal, this ensured that Lucca and Crono were drawn in as well. The Magus, up to about the midway point of the game, is in fact a villain, driven to evil by his harsh life after being sent to the medieval era and his burning hatred of Lavos, so it seems as though Schala would have brought him into the quest to help save his soul.

This theory doesn’t have much in the way of hard evidence supporting it, especially since it is directly contradicted by the next game. For the most part, Chrono Trigger is an extremely tight game, and just about all the pieces work, but the ones that don’t or are simply incomplete do manage to fit together if one assumes that my theory is correct and Schala is the Entity. It answers the last two questions the game leaves hanging, and manages to provide a perfect capstone to everyone’s story.