|The Legend of Zelda character|
|First game||The Legend of Zelda (1986)|
|Created by||Shigeru Miyamoto|
|Voiced by||Mark Berry (1993)
Seizō Katō (1995)
Takashi Nagasako (1998–2003)
Hironori Miyata (2006–2008)
Len Carlson (The Legend of Zelda and Captain N: The Game Master)
Ganon (ガノン?), anglicized Gannon in early materials, and also known as Ganondorf (ガノンドロフ Ganondorofu?), is a fictional character in Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda series. He is the final boss of most games in the series. He was first given a back-story in A Link to the Past. The English version of the A Link to the Past instruction manual adds the surname Dragmire and the alias "Mandrag Ganon," which means "Ganon of the Enchanted Thieves".
In the games, Ganondorf is the archenemy of Link and the leader of the Gerudo, a race of desert brigands, until he embarks on an evil quest to conquer the kingdom of Hyrule, and seeks godlike power to facilitate this.[nb 1][nb 2] His specific motives vary from game to game, but most often they include capturing Princess Zelda and planning to achieve the domination of Hyrule (and presumably the world beyond it). To this end, he seeks the full Triforce, a powerful magical relic, which will grant whatever wish the bearer desires, and usually manipulates several other villains to accomplish his plans and ambitions.
In most games he already possesses the Triforce of Power, which gives him godlike strength and boundless mystical power and makes him invulnerable to all but the most powerful holy weapons such as the Master Sword. However, Ganondorf's lust for power can never be satisfied, and he seeks the complete relic to grant his wish of world domination. The character has been very well received by critics and fans alike, becoming one of the most popular and recognizable villains in gaming.
Ganon was originally known as "Hakkai" during development of the Nintendo Entertainment System video game The Legend of Zelda, in reference to a humanoid pig character known as Zhu Bajie (Cho Hakkai in Japanese) from the famed 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West. For the development of Ocarina of Time, Ganon was conceived by character designer Satoru Takizawa. Takizawa had imagined Ganon as a "crooked and complex thief, who was basically an all around abominable human being". However, script director Toru Osawa claimed that this image was "not the case". He began to speak of how Ganondorf was meant to have "parts where he is rather good", comparing him to the character of Raoh in Fist of the North Star. With this idea in mind, Takizawa created a tentative model of Ganondorf based on actor Christopher Lambert. The end result of Ganondorf was very different from this model, with three forms of the character being created: one of Ganondorf in the beginning; one of Ganondorf seven years later, with long hair; and one of Ganon in the end. Since Ganon was a pig-like creature, Takizawa decided that Ganondorf should transform into such at the end of the game, despite the opinions of other staff members. He decided on making Ganon a beast "with the feeling of a pig" to reference A Link to the Past.
Ganon has two basic forms that appear throughout the series: one bestial, and one humanoid. In The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, Oracle of Seasons, Oracle of Ages, and Four Swords Adventures, he is a blue, porcine biped wielding a trident. In Ocarina of Time, he bears more resemblance to a giant Minotaur, and wields two large swords. This game also marks the first appearance of his humanoid form: an armor-clad but unarmed Gerudo with dark green skin and red hair. Special traits in his human form include muscular and powerful physique, sharp canines, yellow eyes, a somewhat long nose, and elongated eyebrows connecting with the hair. Ganondorf is 230cm (7ft6) and towers over Link and other characters. His human form reappears in The Wind Waker with a cloak with two unnamed swords and in Twilight Princess with thicker armor, with a white glowing wound in his chest, and a purple sword which he can wield with one hand.
Ganon is named inconsistently throughout the series. In the Japanese versions of the first three games, his name is anglicized as "Gannon". This spelling appears in only two Western releases: the original game, and the noncanonical Zelda's Adventure. Since The Adventure of Link, the name is given as "Ganon". A Link to the Past uses "Ganondorf", as does Ocarina of Time, aside from a few exceptional uses of "Ganon". Nintendo's current convention is to use "Ganon" for his beast form and "Ganondorf" for the character's human form. Gregory Lee Kenyon played Ganondorf in the live-action Zelda trailer produced by Rainfall films. It took five hours to complete the makeup for Ganon, which included layers of latex prosthetics, a full wig, a beard, and a set of eyebrows.
Ganon is depicted as the ultimate embodiment of pure evil and hatred. His roles range from savage beast to Machiavellian tyrant to godlike entity, sometimes in the course of a single game. The book Hyrule Historia reveals that Ganon's hatred is so intense that he can survive even the total obliteration of his body and remain conscious. Despite these negative traits, he does show some knowledge of the fine arts, since he can play his own leitmotif on an organ in Ocarina of Time. Ganondorf is incredibly arrogant, believing himself to be completely invulnerable. Because of this he never considers anything to be a threat and appears to put minimal effort into fighting. Unsurprisingly, Ganondorf is often in total disbelief when he is defeated.
He is portrayed in Ocarina of Time as an ambitious, cunning manipulator, gaining the king's trust before betraying him and tricking Link into opening the Door of Time, which allows him to access the Triforce. In Twilight Princess, Ganondorf is stated to have been known as a demon thief and an evil magic wielder renowned for his ruthlessness. When he obtains the Triforce of Power, then he develops a conscienceless god-complex, believing himself to have been chosen by the goddesses who created Hyrule to be its ruler.
Ganon is a formidable sorcerer,[nb 3] able to use magic to attack as well as shapeshift,[nb 4] and he is skilled enough a swordsman to combat Link.[nb 5] Despite his size, Ganondorf is incredibly agile, and is not only capable of dodging sword attacks but arrows as well. The Triforce of Power, a magical relic of the Golden Goddesses, makes Ganon stronger, also granting him powers such as transvection,[nb 6] teleportation,[nb 7] and superhuman strength.
Further, the Triforce piece grants him immortality: he never shows signs of aging and is invulnerable to everything but his own magic and the light arrows, even then Ganondorf can only be dealt the final blow with the Master Sword. He has survived injuries as severe as having an entire castle collapse on him[nb 8] and being impaled by a sword. Once drastically injured, he can be magically imprisoned by divine intervention, but this is often not effective, since he can escape. If he is actually killed, his followers may resurrect him.[nb 9] Even if his followers are not able to revive him, he may reincarnate. Only sacred weapons such as the Master Sword can hurt Ganon, however it is possible to harm Ganondorf by deflecting his own magic back at him in Ocarina of Time.[nb 10]
Ganon has appeared in most games in the series, some of which hide his existence until late in the game. Ganon made his first appearance in The Legend of Zelda. Ganon invades Hyrule with his minions, stealing the Triforce of Power. To protect the world from Ganon, Princess Zelda breaks the Triforce of Wisdom into eight pieces and scatters them across the land, but is then captured. She sends her nursemaid, Impa, to find someone to defeat Ganon. Impa discovers Link. He gathers the Triforce pieces and defeats Ganon, reducing him to a pile of ashes and recovering the Triforce of Power. Afterwards, he brings both the Triforces of Power and Wisdom to Zelda. Ganon makes no major appearance in the sequel Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, as it focuses on his minions' attempt to revive him by killing Link and spilling Link's blood over Ganon's ashes. If they succeed, Ganon's silhouette appears on the Game Over screen accompanied by his laugh.
He later appeared in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System game A Link to the Past, trapped in a place called the Dark World—formerly called the Sacred Land, before Ganon corrupted it. The game focuses on Ganon's attempt to escape from the Dark World and conquer the Light World, utilizing minions such as the wizard Agahnim to sacrifice the seven descendants of the sages who sealed him away, in order to break the seal. Zelda summons Link to rescue her, but she is captured and sent to the Dark World. Once Link defeats Agahnim, he is sent to the Dark World, where he rescues the seven maidens, defeats Agahnim yet again, and pursues Ganon into his lair, where Ganon is eventually defeated. Link finds the completed Triforce, and uses it to undo everything Ganon has done. In Link's Awakening, Link battles Dethl, a physical manifestation of the Wind Fish's nightmares. During the final battle, Dethl assumes several forms, all of which are based on creatures from Link's past. One of Dethl's forms is "Ganon's Shadow" and is constructed from Link's memories of his battle with Ganon in A Link to the Past.
He makes a major appearance in Ocarina of Time as Ganondorf; in the chronology of the series's story, it is his earliest appearance. Ganondorf swears his allegiance to the King of Hyrule, in order to betray him and conquer Hyrule Castle. However, the Zelda of the game asks Link to take the Master Sword, a mystical weapon used to defeat evil. After Link finds all the items necessary to take the sword, Zelda and her nursemaid Impa are chased from Hyrule Castle. Once Link opens the door protecting the Master Sword and takes it, he falls into a deep sleep, allowing Ganondorf to steal the Triforce of Power from the room. Seven years later, Link awakens as an adult, and finds Hyrule corrupted by Ganondorf. Link collects the power of the seven sages—including Zelda, who is kidnapped after she reveals herself. He encounters Ganondorf, defeating him and escaping from the castle with Zelda. However, Ganondorf uses the Triforce of Power to turn into his bestial form. Link defeats him with the help of Zelda and the other sages, and Ganon is banished to the Sacred Realm, swearing vengeance against Zelda, the Sages and Link. Ganon does not make an appearance in Ocarina of Time's Nintendo 64 sequel Majora's Mask, but was referenced under the word "Evil" in the prologue. His race the Gerudo also make a return.
Two Game Boy Color games, Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages, do not initially have anything to do with Ganon, but once both are linked together and both beaten, two of Ganon's minions, Koume and Kotake, seek to revive him by using Zelda and two oracles called Din and Nayru. Ganon is revived in his bestial form, but since Zelda was not sacrificed, he is mindless and is defeated by Link. Ganon does not make an appearance in the subsequent Game Boy Advance game Four Swords, which introduces the new recurring villain, Vaati, due to his past self (Demise) being currently sealed inside the Master Sword.
Ganondorf appears in the GameCube game The Wind Waker. Following Ocarina of Time, in an alternate timeline, Ganondorf escaped from the Sacred Realm. As the Link of Ocarina of Time is no where to be found, the Hylians pray to the Goddesses to save Hyrule. The Goddesses respond by flooding the land with endless rain in order to destroy Ganondorf, driving the Hylian people to the mountain tops. When he is confronted in his fortress by the new incarnation of Link, Ganondorf reveals his motives to capture Tetra, revealed to be the descendant of Zelda. After Link fails to defeat Ganon in their first encounter, Link finds the Master Sword and battles Ganondorf in the sunken Hyrule Castle. Ganondorf explains his resentment of Hyrule, describing his country as one that is filled with death and despair, and that Hyrule was rich with life—that being his reason for trying to conquer it. However, before Ganondorf can use the Triforce to revert the flood, the King of Hyrule intervenes and wishes his kingdom destroyed to make room for the future. Though Ganondorf attempts to kill him and Tetra, Link thrusts the Master Sword into Ganondorf's head, turning him to stone as Hyrule is buried underwater.
Ganon makes a late appearance in Four Swords Adventures. This is the only game in the series to feature another incarnation of Ganondorf. In the game's backstory, Ganondorf was to be the guardian of the Gerudo and the desert but his heart grew twisted with each passing year, and he became obsessed with obtaining power at any cost. Banished by the Gerudo, he retrieved an evil magical Trident from a Pyramid, which transformed him into bestial Ganon, and then began to usurp power from many others so that he could coat the world in darkness. He subsequently possessed the demonic Wind Mage Vaati for his own means. After Vaati is defeated, Link and Zelda battle Ganon and seal him away within the magical Four Sword. Ganon does not make an appearance in the Game Boy Advance game The Minish Cap, set earlier in the Four Swords series, due to his past self (Demise) being currently sealed inside the Master Sword.
In Twilight Princess, Ganondorf appears in flashback midway through the game, though he is behind all of the events of the story. Before the events of the game, revealed by the Hyrule Historia to be an alternate history where his deception is exposed, Ganondorf was captured by the Sages and condemned to death. As he was the bearer of the Triforce of Power, the Sages were unable to kill Ganondorf as he breaks his chains and kills the Sage of light while claiming the Sword of the Sages for himself. The Sages are forced banished Ganondorf to the Twilight Realm, where he presents himself as a demonic deity to Zant, delegating his power and persuading him to attempt conquest of the light world.  Ganondorf does not appear again until the end of the game—in the throne of Hyrule Castle, proclaiming it as his own. He is challenged by Midna, prompting Ganondorf to possess the souless Princess Zelda and attack Link before leaving her body and transforming into a feral version of Ganon. Midna recovers and teleports Link and Zelda to Hyrule Field before attempting to defeat Ganondorf when he reconstitutes himself, causing the castle to explode. But Ganondorf defeats Midna, appearing on horseback before engaging Link in a final duel where he uses the Sages' sword. Link defeats Ganondorf, impaling him through the wound in his chest with the Master Sword. After getting up and uttering a few words, the Triforce symbol on Ganondorf's hand disappears as he seemingly dies standing in place.
In the Nintendo DS game Phantom Hourglass, Ganon appears in the opening sequence that summarizes the plot of The Wind Waker, but does not make an appearance whatsoever in its successor game Spirit Tracks although Malladus closely resembles Ganon.
While Ganon does not make an appearance in the Wii game Skyward Sword, his appearance in Ocarina of Time is foreshadowed. Demise, the main villain of the game, states before his ultimate destruction that his hatred towards the descendants of Link and Zelda will be reborn in an endless cycle. His reincarnation is none other than Ganondorf himself.
In the 3DS game A Link Between Worlds, Ganon makes a short appearance in his normal form, though his past actions and influence greatly affect the course of events throughout the story and serves as the inspiration for Yuga. Yuga summons him back from his seal with the power of the seven sages, previously trapped within paintings by Yuga, and absorbs Ganon to take his power as his own. Becoming Yuga-Ganon, Yuga reveals plans to complete the Triforce once again and remake both Lorule and Hyrule in his own image, but is defeated in this by Link. Ganon is also mentioned by several characters and old legends, which describe his actions during the events of A Link to the Past, and his prior invasion between the events of Link's Awakening and A Link Between Worlds.
Ganon appears in his "green boar" form in two of the three CD-i Zelda titles: Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Link: The Faces of Evil. In Zelda's Adventure, he is a large, muscular devil-creature. In the first two of these games, he only requires one hit to defeat, and appears to be a sorcerer of some sort with features based on his cartoon incarnation.
Ganon is an unlockable character in both Super Smash Bros. Melee (where he is based on his appearance in the Nintendo Space World demo, even wielding the large, cleaver-like sword in one of his victory poses though he cannot actually use it in combat) and Super Smash Bros. Brawl (where he is based on his Twilight Princess design). He is one of four characters from the Zelda series to be playable in the game. In Melee and Brawl, he is referred to by his full name and is a slower, heavier, and more powerful "clone" of Captain Falcon, performing mostly the same attacks and moves. Eiji Aonuma said that his design team submitted designs for Ganon based on Twilight Princess to the developers of Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Ganon appears in the single-player The Subspace Emissary mode, allied with Bowser and Wario as well as being a servant of Master Hand. His Final Smash is his "Dark Beast: Ganon" form from Twilight Princess, in which he transforms, charges across the screen, and then warps himself back onto the stage.
Appearances in other media
Ganon was the main villain of 1989's The Legend of Zelda cartoon, which was shown as part of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! in syndication that year. In the cartoon, Ganon was a brown-skinned anthropomorphic wild boar and a wizard. He was in possession of the Triforce of Power, and—despite having seemingly endless abilities and magical powers—lost every chance to steal the Triforce of Wisdom. He spent most of his time living in his subterranean lair, referred to as his "castle", which was located in the Underworld. He is disintegrated when attacked several times by Link's sword, Zelda's arrows, or the Triforce of Wisdom. He was voiced by Len Carlson.
In addition to the Zelda cartoon, Ganon (along with Link and Zelda) also appeared in Captain N: The Game Master, as a secondary villain in the episode "Quest for the Potion of Power". This was something of a continuation of Ganon's appearance in the Zelda cartoon. The episode uses elements from The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link. During the episode, Ganon is revived, double-crosses Mother Brain, and is killed again by the Reflect magic on Link's shield.
In the South Park episode "Imaginationland Episode III," Ganondorf is seen as one of many evil characters battling the good characters. In the Robot Chicken episode "Shoe," Ganon appears briefly but is killed by Link, who frees Zelda shortly afterward.
Ganon is one of the most recognizable and popular villains in gaming and has been met with positive reception over the years. In 2010, Nintendo Power named him the best villain in Nintendo history. In 2013, GamesRadar ranked him as the best villain in the entire history of video games. Nevertheless, Cracked.com has listed Ganondorf from Twilight Princess among the six most disappointing video game end bosses, writing "We went into this battle expecting Darth Maul, and what we got was C-3PO."
GameSpot counted his appearance in Ocarina of Time among the "Top Ten Boss Fights." GameSpot also included him in "Top Ten Video Game Villains". He was the runner-up in GameFAQs' "Got Villains?" Character Battle, losing in the final to Final Fantasy's Sephiroth. GameDaily ranked him the second on their lists of "Top Ten Nintendo Characters That Deserve Their Own Games" list. and "Most Persistent Video Game Villains of All Time". GamesRadar listed him second on their 2009 list of "The Top Video Game Villains who will Never Stay Dead". IGN listed Ganon as one of the "Top 10 Characters In Need of a Spin-Off" and ranked him third in their "Top 100 Videogames Villains" list.
- Ganon is the king of the Gerudo tribe in Ocarina of Time, and his given title as a boss in Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons is "Evil Gerudo King".
- In the Japanese versions of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, Ganon's human form is titled 大魔王 ガノンドロフ (lit. "Great Demon King Ganondorf"); in the latter, his beast form is titled 魔獣ガノン (lit. "Demon Beast Ganon"). The North American release of Ocarina of Time uses "Great King of Evil Ganondorf" for his human form and simply "Ganon" for his bestial form, and the North American release of Twilight Princess uses "Dark Lord Ganondorf" and "Dark Beast Ganon", respectively.
- He uses magic in A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, and The Adventure of Link, among other titles.
- He changes between human and beast forms in Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess.
- Ganon acrobatically dodges Link's swings in The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess. In the former, he dual-wields swords.
- Ganon flies in A Link to the Past, the TV series The Legend of Zelda, and Ocarina of Time. In Twilight Princess, he causes Princess Zelda to fly while possessing her.
- Ganon can teleport himself and others by various means. He visibly uses this skill in the TV series The Legend of Zelda.[further explanation needed] In Ocarina of Time, he encloses Princess Zelda in a pink crystal and teleports her to his castle. In Twilight Princess, while in beast form, he uses portals to evade attack.
- At the climax of Ocarina of Time, Ganon causes his castle to collapse in an attempt to kill Link and Zelda.
- Ganon's minions fail to resurrect Ganon in The Adventure of Link, but partly succeed in Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons.
- In The Legend of Zelda and A Link to the Past, Ganon can only be slain by Silver Arrows. In Ocarina of Time and Four Swords Adventure, Light Arrows and the Four Sword, respectively, are necessary to defeat him.
- Yoshiaki Koizumi (1992). "The Legend of Hyrule". Instruction Booklet (for The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past). Nintendo of America. p. 5. Retrieved 2014-08-01. "The name of this king of thieves is Ganondorf Dragmire, but he is known by his alias, Mandrag Ganon, which means Ganon of the Enchanted Thieves."
- Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (in Japanese). Nintendo. "Rauru: アタシたち 賢者は 六人そろえば 魔王ガノンドロフを 封印することが できるの。 ('If we, the six sages, come together, we will even be able to seal the Demon King Ganondorf.')"
- Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (in Japanese). Nintendo. "Ganon: おお…、俺は闇の魔王！！ ('Graah! I am the Demon King of Darkness!')"
- Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. Nintendo. "Princess Zelda: King of Darkness, ancient demon reborn. The wielder of the trident!!"
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- Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development (1986-02-21). The Hyrule Fantasy: Zelda no Densetsu. Family Computer Disk System. Nintendo Co., Ltd. Scene: title screen. "Many years ago prince darkness Gannon stole one of the Triforce with power."
- Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development (1987-01-14). The Legend of Zelda 2: Link no Bōken. Family Computer Disk System. Nintendo Co., Ltd. Scene: title screen. "Several years after Gannon was destroyed, Link learns from Impa about the another sleeping Princess Zelda."
- Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development (1991-11-21). Zelda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce. Super Famicom. Nintendo Co., Ltd. Scene: staff credits. "Level 8 Gannon's Tower"
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- Nintendo EAD (2006-11-19). The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Wii. Nintendo. "Zant: It was then, in the thrall of hatred and despair, that I turned my eyes to the heavens...and found a god."
- Nintendo EAD (2006-11-19). The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Wii. Nintendo. "Zant: My god had only one wish....To merge shadow and light...and make darkness!"
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