Artwork of Ganondorf in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
|First appearance||The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (comic adaptation, 1992)|
|Latest appearance||The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023)|
|Species||Gerudo / Demon|
Ganondorf is the main recurring antagonist of The Legend of Zelda series. He is the holder of the Triforce of Power and a reincarnation of the hatred of Demise. Oftentimes, he appears as a beastly boar known as Ganon, although "Ganon" has also been used to describe his humanoid form. Ganondorf was initially known as the "Gerudo King of Thieves" and like most other members of the tribe, he has dark skin and red hair, although after becoming the "King of Evil" his skin became closer to green. He is both a skilled warrior and dark sorcerer, having extreme physical strength and magical ability by default, both of which are augmented even further with the Triforce of Power. Additionally, Ganondorf is intelligent, sneaky, and manipulative, and despite his insatiable greed for more power, never has his judgement clouded by it. However, he often underestimates his opponents, though he is normally merely amused when they exceed his expectations for them. Unlike most other characters that appear throughout the series, Ganondorf has only been shown reincarnating once in the main series, specifically in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, with his other appearances being the exact same person surviving to different time periods.
Ganondorf was the first male born to the Gerudo tribe in a century, and, in accordance with their laws, he was made the king of the tribe, with Twinrova as his surrogate mother. While growing up, he resented the hostile conditions of the lifeless desert he was the ruler of, instead coveting the lush, beautiful parts of Hyrule the other races lived, particularly the Hylians. It was with this desire that Ganondorf began to devise a plot to depose the King of Hyrule and seize these lands for himself.
The Legend of Zelda series
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Ganondorf is mentioned by the maiden of the Swamp Palace when she is rescued by Link. He is a thief also known as Ganon who rediscovered the Golden Land, but did not know how to return to the Light World. The manual for the Super NES version elaborates further. According to legend, Ganondorf was the leader of a gang of thieves that found an entrance to the Golden Land by chance, and fought his own followers over the Triforce. When he reached it with his blood-stained hands, he heard a voice tell him that his desires were to be granted, creating the threat to Hyrule known as Ganon, the evil King of Darkness. The English translation of the manual also gives him the surname "Dragmire" and claims that he was known by the alias "Mandrag Ganon," meaning "Ganon of the Enchanted Thieves," although this never recurs in any of the games. These details were removed in the manual for the Game Boy Advance version, possibly because it was altered in later games.
In the comic adaptation, a vision of Ganondorf is shown when a talking tree tells a sleepy Link about him in Chapter Six: A Fool in the Shape of a Tree. The appearance of Ganondorf greatly differs from later titles, with light tan skin and scruffy hair. Manga adaptations depict him as a silhouetted figure closer to the games. The sole exception to this idea were the adaptations by Junko Taguchi and Akira Himekawa. In the Taguchi manga as well as the novel Katsuyuki Ozaki, Ganondorf is shown with a design radically different than what he would later be seen, depicted as a Hylian with fair skin and blonde hair. In the novelization, he is shown as a redhead, making him resemble Groose. In the Himekawa manga, Ganondorf is shown with his design from Ocarina of Time, partially obscured by the shadows.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
- “Geh heh heh! Excellent work! As I thought, you held the keys to the Door of Time! You have led me to the gates of the Sacred Realm... Yes, I owe it all to you, kid!”
- – Ganondorf, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Ganondorf first appears in his Gerudo form in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, after brief mentions in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. He initially appears in a prophetic nightmare Link has in the opening, where Princess Zelda and Impa are fleeing him on horseback, followed by him attacking Link with magic. Acting on his plan to conquer Hyrule, Ganondorf, while evading suspicion from all of the royal family except for Zelda, attempts to gain access to the Sacred Realm, where the Triforce is kept. To do this, he attempt to attain the Ocarina of Time and the three Spiritual Stones from the Great Deku Tree, the Gorons, and the Zora, but each refuse. As such, he punishes each, by infecting the Deku Tree with a parasitic Gohma, re-filling Dodongo's Cavern with hostile Dodongos, and infecting Lord Jabu-Jabu with a parasitic Barinade. Zelda comes up with a plan to deal with Ganondorf alongside Link, involving using the keys to the Sacred Realm themselves. After Link deals with the problems Ganondorf caused and attains the Stones, Ganondorf attacks the castle, leading to the events of Link's nightmare. During her escape, Zelda throws the Ocarina in the moat, and Link recovers it and opens the Sacred Realm. However, when he does so, he unwittingly allows Ganondorf access while he gets trapped for seven years, allowing him to gain the Triforce. However, due to his lust for power outweighing his courage or wisdom by a significant amount, the Triforce of Courage and the Triforce of Wisdom disappear, leaving him with solely the Triforce of Power.
During the time Link is imprisoned, Ganondorf with the Triforce of Power becomes far more corrupt, leading him to become the demonic "King of Evil," and making Hyrule far worse for most of its inhabitants. Hyrule Castle and the area around it is destroyed and replaced with the foreboding Ganon's Castle, and Hyrule Castle Town is left in ReDead-infested ruins. In one display of force, he attempts to feed the Goron tribe to a Goron-eating dragon he resurrected, Volvagia. Additionally, he seemingly freezes Zora's Domain and drains Lake Hylia. Another high authority in the Gerudo tribe, Nabooru, is brainwashed by Twinrova due to attempting to stop him. Link encounters Phantom Ganon, a demonic puppet of Ganondorf, in the Forest Temple. After Link defeats it, Ganondorf congratulates Link for his skill, but warns him that his further challenges will be much harder, before sending the phantom to "the gap between dimensions." Ganondorf is not heard from directly again until Sheik reveals herself as a Triforce of Wisdom-bearing Zelda in disguise, at which point he traps her in a crystal and tells Link to come battle at his castle, thus bringing him the Triforce of Courage he holds.
Ganondorf is found in the highest room of his castle, playing his theme music on a large pipe organ. Once Link arrives, he turns around, shows the Triforce mark on the back of his hand (with the proximity causing Link and Zelda's to glow as well), and turns the room into an arena to battle, and begins to float over the center of the room, with the dark energy not allowing Navi to target him. During this fight, Ganondorf can punch the floor, causing certain tiles to give way, leading to the room below (which is full of item-replenishing pots). He can also throw balls of energy, which can be bounced back with the sword or, as part of a series running gag, an empty bottle. However, he is also capable of knocking them back at Link. Once Ganondorf fails to knock one back, he will be temporarily stunned, allowing Link to hit him with the evil-piercing Light Arrows, which hurts him, brings him to the floor, and temporarily gets rid of the evil aura, allowing Navi to target him and Link to damage him directly. He can also throw a much larger ball of energy, but this takes longer to prepare, giving Link another opportunity to hit him with the Light Arrow. After he takes enough damage, Ganondorf will be defeated, after which he throws up and falls to the floor.
The room and crystal holding Zelda are then destroyed. Zelda expresses some sympathy for Ganondorf due to the power of the Triforce corrupting him, but with his last breaths, he attempts to magically destroy the castle, thus killing Link and Zelda as well. However, they escape, and Ganondorf is seemingly crushed by the rubble. However, he emerges, his eyes fully yellow and demonic, and uses the Triforce of Power to become the beastly Ganon, knocking the Master Sword away. After Ganon is defeated, Ganondorf is sealed in the Sacred Realm himself, and promises to kill Link and Zelda's descendants when he escapes. After this, Zelda uses the Ocarina of Time to send Link back to before Ganondorf's takeover, allowing him to be stopped beforehand.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
- “My country lay within a vast desert. When the sun rose into the sky, a burning wind punished my lands, searing the world. And when the moon climbed into the dark of night, a frigid gale pierced our homes. No matter when it came, the wind carried the same thing... Death. But the winds that blew across the green fields of Hyrule brought something other than suffering and ruin. I coveted that wind, I suppose. It can only be called fate. ...That here, I would again gather the three with the crests. ...That I should lay my hand on that which grants the wishes of the beholder... That when power, wisdom, and courage come together, the gods would have no choice but to come down... The power of the gods... The Triforce! He who touches it will have whatever he desires granted! Already, the crest of wisdom is mine... All that remains... Do not fear. I will not kill you... I merely have need of the power that dwells within you. Now! Let us put an end to that which binds us together! Gods! Hear that which I desire! Expose this land to the rays of the sun once more! Let them burn forth! Give Hyrule to me!!!”
- – Ganondorf, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Ganondorf appears again as the main antagonist of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. In the future of the time where Ganondorf's takeover still happened and he was defeated, Ganondorf eventually breaks free and terrorizes Hyrule once again. This time, no hero emerged, and the gods flooded Hyrule to seal him away. Eventually, Ganondorf makes his way to the surface, and sets up his base in the Forsaken Fortress, having the Helmaroc King kidnap girls to try and find Zelda's descendant. He additionally has Laruto and Fado, the sages of the Earth Temple and Wind Temple killed. However, the current Link's sister Aryll is kidnapped while he attempts to grab Tetra (the real Zelda), leading Link to begin his quest. Once Link initially finds Aryll, the Helmaroc King grabs him and takes him to Ganondorf, who wordlessly orders him to throw him across the ocean. After this, he attempts to attain the pearls from the three holders of them. He sends a Gohma to injure Valoo, infests the Forbidden Woods with various evil creatures, and destroys Greatfish Isle. After Link finds the Master Sword in Hyrule's remains, Ganondorf's minions under the surface become active again, having been immobilized.
Ganondorf is not seen again until Link frees the girls from Forsaken Fortress and destroys the Helmaroc King, at which point Link attempts to confront him with the Master Sword. However, due to the deaths of Laruto and Fado, the sword is powerless. Ganondorf also reveals that in pulling the sword, Link broke the seal keeping his evil magical abilities in check. Tetra then attempts to attack him to save Link, but Ganondorf effortlessly overpowerss her. He then realizes his Triforce of Power is resonating and deduces Tetra is really Zelda. Tetra is not aware of this, and he assumes her confused protests are lies, beiginning to choke her. However, the pair then gets rescued by Quill and Komali, with Valoo burning away Ganondorf's hideout while he simply stands, smirking.
Once Link helps Medli and Makar awaken as sages and recovers all of the Triforce Shards, Zelda is kidnapped and taken to Ganondorf's castle. With the sword re-powered and the Triforce of Courage restored, Link is able to get to Ganondorf's castle. Initially, Ganondorf appears watching Zelda sleep, and notes she is simply dreaming of endless oceans. He tells Link that the reason Hyrule was sunk was the people being abandoned by the Gods, then seemingly turns into Puppet Ganon. After Puppet Ganon is defeated, Ganondorf reveals he is perfectly fine, telling Link to confront him on the roof. Once he does so, Ganondorf wistfully regales the story of how he resented his tribe's home and the deathly wind it carried growing up, leading him to conquer the neighboring Hyrule and its wind full of life for himself. He then forcefully takes the Triforce of Courage from Link and assembles the full Triforce, preparing to wish for Hyrule to be restored for him. Before he can make his wish on the Triforce, however, King Daphnes appears and wishes on the Triforce himself to give Link and Zelda a better future and wash away the old kingdom, causing the still-intact areas beneath the Great Sea to start flooding fully. At this, Ganondorf goes insane and laughs maniacally for several moments, gleefully telling Link and the now-awake Zelda he will show them their "future" as he draws his swords.
He engages Link in a swordfight, with Zelda using the Light Arrows. Link must distract Ganondorf by attacking him and parrying his own blows so Zelda can shoot him. Otherwise, he leaps away. When he is shot, he becomes paralyzed for a few moments, allowing repeat attacks. After a few shots, Ganondorf backhands Zelda over, and Link must continue to stall him while she recovers. Once she does, they continue, though Ganondorf is now much more wary about her shots and will even use his swords to counter parries to his back and head. After enough of this, Zelda calls to Link that she will shoot into his Mirror Shield. Link reflects the arrow into Ganondorf, paralyzing him one last time, then leaps up and plunges the Master Sword through his forehead gem. Ganondorf stays alive a few more moments and states that he can feel "the wind" blowing before turning to stone. He is them buried under the Great Sea's water along with the King, ensuring neither will ever return, while Link and Zelda are returned to the surface.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
In the backstory of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, Ganondorf is reborn in the Gerudo tribe, and begins his aspirations for conquest anew, breaking the tribe's laws and going to the pyramid to steal the trident. However, he never appears in this form, instead only being shown as Ganon, like in A Link to the Past. This reincarnation of Ganondorf is depicted in Akira Himekawa's manga adaptation of the game, showing him in a design similar to the original Ganondorf as he appeared in Wind Waker.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
- “Your people have long amused me, Midna. To defy the gods with such petty magic, only to be cast aside... How very pathetic. Pathetic as they were, though, they served me well. Their anguish was my nourishment. Their hatred bled across the void and awakened me. I drew deep of it and grew strong again. Your people had some skill, to be sure...but they lacked true power. The kind of absolute power that those chosen by the gods wield. He who wields such power would make a suitable king for this world, don't you think?”
- – Ganondorf, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Ganondorf is the true main antagonist of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In the future of the time where Ganondorf was not allowed to take over in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's epilogue, Ganondorf was to be executed by the seven sages for his crimes. However, when Link was sent back in time, the Triforce pieces went to their owners' past counterparts, leading Ganondorf to have the Triforce of Power, which the sages considered darkly to be some manner of "divine prank." He survives getting impaled by them, takes the sword, and kills the Sage of Water, leading them to activate the long-dormant Mirror of Twilight to seal him away. However, this leads to him leaching off the Twilis' long-seated anguish and discovering the resentful Twili Zant, whom he manipulates into helping him take over Hyrule under the guise of a god (using the form of a giant, fiery version of his head).
Ganondorf is absent for the first half of the game, initially only appearing in the sages' recounting of his failed execution midway through. He finally appears in person in the conquered Hyrule Castle, where he taunts Midna and initially possesses Zelda's lifeless body. After he is defeated, Midna uses the Fused Shadows to extract Ganondorf's soul, after which he becomes Ganon. After he is defeated again, Zelda's life is restored. However, Ganon changes into his burning head form, and Midna teleports Link and Zelda away before summoning the Fused Shadows again to fight him. After Link and Zelda are deposited in Hyrule Field, an explosion rocks the castle, and Ganondorf appears triumphantly on his horse, crushing Midna's Fused Shadow. Zelda uses the power of the four Spirits of Light to create the Light Arrows and Bow of Light, and a horseback battle commences.
For this battle, Ganondorf spends part of the time riding away from Link and Zelda, and part of the time charging back at them. He summons lines of Phantom Ganons to charge Link off Epona as they chase him, and when passing, he uses the Sages' sword to knock him off. However, he does not attack Link when he is down. To damage Ganondorf, Link needs to stay close enough without being attacked for Zelda to shoot Ganondorf with a Light Arrow. This stuns him and allows Link to attack him with the Master Sword.
Once he is defeated here, he falls off his horse, laughs, and conjures up a force field and fights Link directly in sword combat. He is able to use many techniques, including standard slashes and stabs and even the spin attack. He also may lunge and kick at him. He walks very slowly and often stops to taunt Link, but will often jump to get behind Link to attack, and will jump out of the way of most items or jump attacks. His only weak point is the wound from the Sages' sword, and he parries most of Link's attacks to it. He is also able to block many of the hidden skills, even the Mortal Draw. However, he does not parry all of Link's standard attacks successfully. As part of the same running gag as in Ocarina of Time, Ganondorf will be distracted by Link's Fishing Line if he withdraws it, allowing for an opening to attack several times. Sometimes, Ganondorf charges at Link to slash at him, initiating a "chance" command that allows Link to enter a blade-lock with Ganondorf by pressing, holding, and releasing the button at the right time. In this blade-lock, Link can overpower Ganondorf by continuing to tap the button repeatedly, and allow another opening for repeated attacks. After enough hits, Ganondorf is knocked onto his back briefly, and Link can use a "finish" command to leap onto him and drive the Master Sword through the wound, prompting him to scream. Even impaled and in great pain, Ganondorf stands back up and promises to continue battling. However, the Triforce of Power fades from his hand, signifying it leaving him. After this happens, a brief cinematic of Zant cracking his neck occurs, signifying Ganondorf's death. Ganondorf dies still standing up in the field, sword through his chest, and a blissful look on his face. His death is what finally breaks the curse on Midna.
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Ganondorf is alluded to in the gallery of Hyrule Castle, where the story and backstory of A Link to the Past are told through five pictures. He is referred to as "a simple thief" who became Ganon after he attained the Triforce. Yuga is indicated to be his Lorulean counterpart, and resembles a much more effeminate version of him.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Ganondorf is briefly alluded to in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, when Urbosa mentions to Vah Naboris that legend states that Calamity Ganon once took the form of a Gerudo, and muses that that will make its defeat all the more satisfying due to being more personal to her.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
- “Rise, rise my servants! Sweep over Hyrule! Eliminate this kingdom and her allies! Leave no survivors!”
- – Ganondorf, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (February 8, 2023 trailer)
In the initial E3 2021 trailer for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Ganondorf is shown as a mummified undead corpse leaking malice, with a glowing blue hand emerging from a cyclone of Gerudo script reaching into his chest. A painting of him appears on the walls, riding his horse and wielding a trident. In the February 8, 2023 trailer, he provides a voiceover where he commands his minions to destroy the kingdom, and is later shown writhing and awakening.
Super Smash Bros. series
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, Ganondorf uses his design from the Spaceworld 2000 tech demo, being based on his past appearance from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Ganondorf uses his design from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, he uses his future appearance from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Initially, Ganondorf was a slower but more powerful moveset copy of the F-Zero character Captain Falcon. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, one of Ganondorf's moves was altered, and he was made much slower to differentiate them, though he was given more speed again in later installments.
In The Subspace Emissary mode of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Ganondorf is working for Master Hand alongside Bowser. He initially is shown surveying Bowser's advancement on King Dedede's fortress, and then appears to take control of the R.O.B. army after the Ancient Minister decides to stop working with the Subspace Army. Once the Subspace Gunship is destroyed by Kirby in the Dragoon, he and Bowser retreat into Subspace. Ganondorf turns on Bowser, turning him into a trophy, before going to bow before Master Hand. However, when he sees that Master Hand is being controlled via marionette strings by another villain, Tabuu, Ganondorf attempts to stop Tabuu, only to be turned into a trophy himself. Later, after Bowser is restored, he takes out his anger by attacking Ganondorf's trophy. Link and Zelda then restore him, and he enters an uneasy alliance with them to defeat Tabuu, something that has notably never happened in the main series.
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Ganondorf is once again the true main antagonist of Hyrule Warriors. Before this game, his soul was split into four pieces, each hidden in a different time period. One fragment was kept with the time keeper Cia, another during Skyward Sword's events in the Sealed Grounds, another during Ocarina of Time's events in the Water Temple of Lake Hylia, and the last during Twilight Princess's events in the Palace of Twilight. The shard with Cia notices her nonreciprocable romantic interest in Link, and begins to manipulate and corrupt her, causing her to expel all goodness from her soul (this becoming Lana) and open up portals to each of these time periods to gain the power of the other shards. However, the shards come together, causing Ganondorf to be whole again. Realizing what she has done, Cia attempts to stop him, but is swiftly defeated, leading her to make one last attempt to force Link to be with her, which itself fails. During this confrontation, Ganondorf appears in the battle and paralyzes Zelda, causing Link to have to go defeat him. He retreats, and waits for Cia to be defeated, as she goes completely insane and attempts to destroy time itself. Once she is defeated, he begins his plan, summoning Zant and Ghirahim to Gerudo Desert to recruit some of the monsters there, after which he attacks Hyrule Castle. He successfully takes it over, and Lana re-summons Link's allies from the other time periods for a final battle. During the final battle, Ganondorf becomes Ganon, here clearly retaining his intelligence and sense of self, but is eventually defeated and re-sealed.
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda
In Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer featuring The Legend of Zelda, the Gerudo prince is strongly implied to be a young incarnation of Ganondorf, notably being around the same age as Link and Zelda rather than older like he usually is. If the player enters the Gerudo Village home guarded by Barriara, the Gerudo prince can be found practicing the organ with his back facing the player, though he still bears a striking resemblance to Ganondorf in other games. If spoken to, he will rudely chastise Barriara behind her back, obsess over the power of music, and cryptically remark that he will meet the hero again. During the final boss battle, Ganon has a similar hairstyle and is shown playing a similar organ. Ganondorf is also mentioned by name and is said to have found the broken Golden Lute, repaired it, and become corrupted by it to transform into Ganon. In the Symphony of the Mask DLC, the Gerudo prince is confirmed to be Prince Ganondorf.
List of game appearances
- For this character's image gallery, see Gallery:Ganondorf.
Names in other languages
|Ganondorf (possibly intended to be "Ganondrof" due to nonstandard spelling)|
Great King of Evil: / Dark Lord: / Demon King: Ganondorf
Dai Maō Ganondorofu
|Great Demon King Ganondorf|
- Ganondorf has concept artwork drawn for the Oracle games, depicting him in an angular robe and lacking the prominent forehead gem (instead having a large widow's peak), but this design was not implemented into the games, only ever appearing as a seemingly mindless version of Ganon.
- Johan, Zethar II, and David Butler. "A Link to the Past" Manual Comparison. The Legends of Zelda. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
- The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom – Official Trailer #2. Nintendo of Europe. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
|Playable characters and moves|
|Link||Bow • Boomerang • Spin Attack • Bomb|
|Zelda||Nayru's Love • Din's Fire • Farore's Wind • Transform|
|Sheik||Needle Storm • Chain • Vanish • Transform|
|Ganondorf||Warlock Punch • Gerudo Dragon • Dark Dive • Wizard's Foot|
|Young Link||Fire Bow • Boomerang • Spin Attack • Bomb|
|Non-playable characters||Dark Link • Four Giants • Like Like • Moon • Octorok • ReDead • Tingle • Turtle|
|Stages||Great Bay • Majora's Mask (Trophy Tussle 3) • Temple • Underground Maze|
|General items||Bunny Hood • Heart Container|
|Miscellaneous items||Deku Shield • Hookshot • Hylian Shield • Kokiri Sword • Lon Lon Milk • Master Sword • Triforce|
|Trophies||Goron • Marin • Majora's Mask • Ocarina of Time|
|Other||Gallery • Pre-release and unused content • Staff|