Ganon (ガノン?), anglicized Gannon in early Japanese materials, and also known as Ganondorf (ガノンドロフ Ganondorofu?), is a fictional character who is the primary antagonist of 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 steals a piece of the triforce granting him the power of a God. With near unlimited power he became the king of all evil. 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.
In general, Ganon has been well received by critics and fans. Ganon was the runner-up in GameFAQs' "Got Villains?" Character Battle, losing in the final to Final Fantasy's Sephiroth.
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 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 extracanonical 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.
Since the Zelda series presents dialogue as text, Ganon's voice actors only provide nonverbal noises like shouts, grunts and evil laughter. The first instance in which a voice actor was used for the part of Ganon was in the cartoon series The Legend of Zelda, with Len Carlson as Ganon. Next was the spin-off title BS Zelda no Densetsu, which was broadcast exclusively to Japanese Satellaview owners. From the game's first broadcast in August 1995 to its last in January 1997, Ganon was voiced by Seizō Katō. The next time a voice actor would be used for the part of Ganondorf would be in Ocarina of Time, where he was voiced by Takashi Nagasako. Nagasako would also go on to voice Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros. Melee and The Wind Waker. Hironori Miyata performs the role in Twilight Princess and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
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.
Ganondorf was played by Anthony Padilla in the Legend of Zelda Rap video by Smosh who are a web based comedy duo and one of the most popular channels on YouTube.
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. In Hyrule Historia it is revealed that Ganon's hatred is so intense that he can survive even the total obliteration of his body and still be 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. Despite this, 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, allowing Ganondorf 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, he develops a God complex, believing himself to have been chosen by the goddesses to be the ruler of the world.
Ganon is a formidable sorcerer, able to use magic to attack as well as shapeshift, and as the king of the Gerudo is skilled enough a swordsman to combat Link. 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, teleportation, 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 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. Even if his followers are not able to revive him, he can 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.
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 protagonist Link and other human 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 sword which he can wield with one hand.
Ganon has been the primary antagonist of the Zelda series since its inception. As such, he 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 as the main antagonist. 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, the protagonist of the series. 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, Dethl, a physical manifestation of the Wind Fish's nightmares, fills the role of the antagonist. During the final battle, Dethl assumes several forms, all of which are based on antagonists and 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 in his humanoid form; in the chronology of the series's story, it is his earliest appearance. Ganon swears his allegiance to the King of Hyrule, in order to betray him and conquer Hyrule Castle. Princess Zelda 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 by Ganon. Once Link opens the door protecting the Master Sword and takes it, he falls into a deep sleep, allowing Ganon to steal the Triforce of Power from the room. Seven years later, Link awakens as an adult, and finds Hyrule corrupted by Ganon. Link collects the power of the seven sages—including Zelda, who is kidnapped after she reveals herself. He encounters Ganon, defeating him and escaping from the castle with Zelda. However, Ganon 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 the Nintendo 64 game Majora's Mask, but was referenced under the word "Evil" in the prologue.
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 Game Boy Advance game Four Swords.
Ganon appears in the GameCube game The Wind Waker, once again as the main antagonist. Following Ocarina of Time, Ganon escaped from the Sacred Realm. Link having disappeared, no one is able to defeat Ganon, forcing the Hylians to pray to the Goddesses, asking them to save Hyrule. The Goddesses respond by flooding the land with endless rain in order to destroy Ganon, driving the Hylian people to the mountain tops. When he is confronted in his fortress by the new incarnation of Link, Ganon reveals his motives, finding the three Triforce pieces by capturing both Link and Zelda (for the second time) who hold the Triforces of Courage and Wisdom. After Link fails to defeat Ganon in their first encounter, Link finds the Master Sword and battles Ganon in the sunken Hyrule Castle. Ganon 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 Ganon can use the Triforce to revert the flood, it is used to drown Hyrule Castle by the King of Hyrule. Link thrusts the Master Sword into Ganon's head, turning him to stone and drowning him with Hyrule Castle.
Ganon makes a late appearance in Four Swords Adventures, where he is revealed to be the main antagonist. Prior to the events of the game, Ganondorf was to be the guardian of the Gerudo and the desert. However, his heart grew twisted with each passing year, and he became obsessed with obtaining power at any cost. The Gerudo now shun him because he disobeyed their laws and fled to the sacred Pyramid. There, he took the Trident and was transformed into Ganon by its dark magic and is using the wind mage Vaati for his own means. After Vaati is defeated, Link and Zelda do battle with Ganon, sealing him away with the Four Sword.
Ganon does not make an appearance in the Game Boy Advance game The Minish Cap.
In Twilight Princess, Ganon appears in flashback midway through the game, though he is the true antagonist behind all of the events of the story. Before the events of the game, Ganon was captured by the Sages and was condemned to death. As he was the bearer of the Triforce of Power, the Sages were unable to kill him even with the sacred Sword of the Sages. Subsequently, in his rage, Ganon breaks his chains and kills the Sage of water before claiming the Sword of the Sages for himself. The Sages, desperate to stop the King of Evil, banished him to the Twilight Realm, leaving him with a glowing wound on his chest. In the Twilight Realm, Ganon presents himself as a demonic deity to Zant, delegating his power and persuading him to attempt conquest of the light world. Ganon 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 Ganon to possess Princess Zelda and attack Link before changing to beast form (in a more feral style than previous appearances, mirroring Link's wolf form). Midna recovers and teleports Link and Zelda to Hyrule Field before attempting to defeat Ganon, causing the castle to explode. Ganon appears on horseback, holding Midna's fused shadow and crushing it between his hands to show his victory over Midna. After a battle on horseback, Ganon requests a final duel, using the execution sword as his weapon. Link defeats Ganon, impaling him through the wound in his chest with the Master Sword. After getting up and uttering a few words, the Triforce symbol on his hand disappears, and Zant is shown snapping his own neck in a vision. Ganon gasps, his eyes glaze over, and he seemingly dies standing in place. However his fate is not actually disclosed.
In Phantom Hourglass, Ganon appears in the opening sequence that summarizes the plot of The Wind Waker.
Ganon does not make an appearance in the Nintendo DS game Spirit Tracks.
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 will be reborn anew again and again through a certain incarnation in an endless cycle to torment Link and Zelda's descendants and attack Hyrule. This implies that Ganondorf is the reincarnation of Demise and is the source of his demonic powers before obtaining the Triforce of Power.
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 as one of the main antagonists 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.
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," Ganon 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.
Due to the success of the Zelda franchise, Ganon is one of the most recognizable and popular villains in gaming and has been met with positive reception over the years. GameSpot counted one of his appearances among the Top Ten Boss Fights of All Time, stating "The final battle of every Zelda game sees Link and Ganon locked in a clash of wills, and the fight at the end of Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 was by far the most dramatic and epic one in Zelda history." A similar article went on to say "As it is, Ganon is one of the toughest bosses around, because of his epic appearances and his tough-as-nails nature. No pushover in any sense, Ganon earns his place in the archives as one of the gaming world's greatest villains." Ganon also received an honorable mention on Impact Lab's similar list: "Link's main adversary just missed the list, but that last fight with Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time (N64) still deserves a shout-out."
Ganon ranked in the second slot on GameDaily's Top Ten Nintendo Characters That Deserve Their Own Games list, explaining that he is the epitome of cool, and it would be enjoyable to plunder Hyrule instead of saving it. They also ranked him amongst the Most Persistent Video Game Villains of All Time. GamesRadar listed him second on their list of The Top Video Game Villains who will Never Stay Dead, stating that even though he has broken free from his many seals or even killed, he never seems to change his strategy. IGN listed Ganon as one of the Top 10 Characters In Need of a Spin-Off and ranked him 3rd in their "Top 100 Videogames Villains" list.