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I tried looking in various areas, however I left empty-handed. We know that the first human fell down during 201X, however are there any more specific clues about when the barrier was created to trap the monsters underground?

4 Answers 4

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There are only three important eras in Undertale.

  1. When the barrier was created (when the monsters were trapped underground).
  2. When the first human fell down.
  3. When you 'fell' down.

The first one is unsolvable since the only evidence we have for it is in the intro sequence, where it says how it was created after a long battle a long time ago.

The second one is given to us on multiple occasions, these including (SPOILERS):

-The intro sequence

-In a calender in Asgore's house. In genocide, Chara says "The year I came here"

-A calender in Toriel's house that says it's from the beginning of 201X

Also shows up in other more vague locations.

The third one is never told to us, directly or indirectly. After 201X though, 6 humans other than you are said to have fallen, and Toriel says a human has not come here in a long time.

We only have an exact time for when the first human fell down, and that is not to say that is the same time they died and Asgore declared war on humans again.

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TL;DR: Circa 1990-2009, assuming that Gerson is not much more than ~120 years old. But we don't actually have evidence of Gerson's age, so it could be longer than that. Possibly a lot longer.

I am going to disagree with the accepted answer here. There is actually quite a bit of additional useful information in Undertale which, taken together, paints a vague but not completely opaque picture of the overall timeline here. Let's go through some specifics:

  • This timeline posits that it was "sometime before 100 AD" on the basis of a single line from Bratty in the post-True Pacifist epilogue (referring to "millenia of being imprisoned"). Personally, I'm inclined to view this conclusion with skepticism, because Bratty and Catty are prone to speaking hyperbolically and I'm not willing to take this line completely literally (i.e. "millenia" = "at least 2000 years"). But we can raid that timeline for other evidence, much of which is more robust than that.
    • In fairness to the person who created that timeline, the note underneath explicitly acknowledges that "millenia" might be hyperbole.
  • Toriel and Asgore are both unaging (according to Gerson's post-True Pacifist dialog). So we can't use their apparent ages to conclude anything. However, this dialog also implies that this property is exclusive to Asgore and Toriel; other monsters age normally.
  • The monsters initially lived in the city of Home (which is now the Ruins). It is strongly implied that Toriel, Asgore, and Asriel all lived in Home together, in the building which is now Toriel's house. For the bulk of this period, Chara was not yet present, so it was mostly or entirely pre-201X.
    • Sources: The history book on Toriel's bookshelf tells you about the monsters living in Home. Toriel's house has three chairs at the dining table, one smaller than the other two. Additionally, the house has a child's bedroom, with one bed, as well as some striped shirts and other items which may have belonged to Asriel. There is a conspicuous lack of evidence of a second child living there.
  • At some point, the monsters decided that they "fear[ed] the humans no longer," and moved out into the rest of the Underground, ultimately settling in New Home. The royal family, now consisting of four members, lived in New Home. So this was post-201X (Chara had been adopted by the Dreemurrs), and Chara's presence might be the reason that monsters stopped fearing humans. Regardless, Chara was widely known to the monsters of the Underground, and (in general) the monsters approved of the royal family adopting them.
    • Sources: The history book in the Snowdin library mentions "fearing the humans no longer" and resettling in New Home. It also mentions Snowdin, Waterfall, and Hotland in passing (but without giving their names). The house in New Home has four chairs at the dining table, of which two are smaller. It also has two children's beds, in the same bedroom, and a number of items which probably belonged to Asriel and Chara. Finally, the story told in New Home emphasizes that Chara's presence caused the Underground to be "filled with hope."
  • The previous two bullets tell us that the war was probably not much later than the 2000's or so (Asriel was old enough to sleep in a regular bed, sit in a regular chair, etc. when the royal family left Home - and he was also old enough to help Chara walk in 201X, as seen in the True Pacifist ending cutscene). So now the question is, how early could the war have been?
  • The overall amount of time that elapsed between the war and the events of Undertale cannot be too lengthy, because Undyne claims (over the phone) that Gerson fought in said war. He's still alive (if rather old).
    • Several monsters have UnderNet usernames which are suggestive of their birth years. In particular, Papyrus is CoolSkeleton95 and Undyne is StrongFish91. If those are birth years (which seems likely to me, but might be debatable), then we must either assume that Undyne and Papyrus were born in 199X (and were around for all seven humans that fell before the events of Undertale), or that they were born in 209X (so Chara died long before they were born). Undyne's dialog on meeting the protagonist in a neutral route suggests that she has never met a human before, favoring the latter interpretation. This also tracks well with most of the monsters in the Underground failing to explicitly identify Frisk as a human (e.g. the shopkeeper in Snowdin), with Sans's (possibly hyperbolic!) claim that Toriel hadn't heard a good joke in "a hundred years," and with Toriel's claim that Frisk is "the first human to come here in a long time." All of those things together point to a very long timeline, which the 199X interpretation doesn't give us.
    • Many decades have elapsed since 201X. Either Gerson is positively ancient, or Toriel and Asgore had Asriel shortly after the war. Allowing for time for Asriel to (partially) grow up, and for Undyne and Papyrus to (fully) grow up (and assuming that all three monsters age at the same rate as humans), we've already accounted for well over 100 years of Gerson's life. So I'm disinclined to put the war too much earlier than 2000, maybe a decade or so at most.
    • However, this is a matter of interpretation as we don't strictly know how long Gerson can live (or indeed, how fast monsters age in general). In Deltarune, neither his tombstone nor his memorial bench have a birth or death year on them (but their presence suggests that he is at least capable of dying of old age, since Hometown is not exactly a violent place).
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  • So you're not trying to answer the question Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 22:05
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    @RayWu: Care to elaborate? The question is "When did monsters get trapped underground in Undertale?" and my answer starts with a pretty narrow range of years. I'm a bit confused how that comes across as "not trying to answer the question."
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 19, 2021 at 22:21
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Here's what my guess is according to what we can see in Undertale's lore.

So, in the opening sequence, we don't see any guns used at all. Meaning that the monsters were sealed underground at least before 1288, when guns were first invented. One may argue that the humans in the war just didn't have access to guns, although they already may have been created. But this is a false statement due to the Human-Monster war being something that all humans of all countries would most likely participate in. Meaning that guns would be at least partially available.

My next point is that if the first human fell down in the 2010's (We know this due to the opening scene describing the fall as during the year 201X) than it couldn't have been any earlier than 1288 because any longer would be a significantly lengthy period of time for no humans to fall down. Although over 700 years of no humans falling underground may also seem long, the explanation for this is the fact that until 201X, Mount Ebott was probably guarded, so no humans were ever able to disappear before than.

In conclusion, the monsters were most likely trapped underground in the year 1287. Because that was the year prior to the invention of guns, and because any earlier year would seem too early.

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There are many clues but no one has confirmed when the barrier was created

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