To celebrate my 50th post for the site, I decided I would revisit certain roots from when I first started writing for Zelda Dungeon: character analyses and editorials. So, I decided it would be worthwhile to talk about how we could see an old character in a new light: Ganondorf. While not as exhausted as his alter ego, Ganon, we have seen Ganondorf in several games, and in every case he is always seeking out the Triforce and trying to obtain its full power. I’m not saying that he should be good, or that he should have a different goal, I just think that there could be another way that Ganondorf could be presented in a future Zelda game.
Following the general rule of trilogies, we can see Ganondorf’s development as a character. In Ocarina of Time, we saw his origin. Ganondorf was the Gerudo King of Thieves, and, with help from his sadistic surrogate mothers, had plans to steal the Triforce and use its power to rule Hyrule. Because his soul was unbalanced, he only managed to claim the Triforce of Power, as it was the virtue that he best represented. Using its power, Ganondorf became the Evil King, transforming the Sacred Realm into the Evil Realm and ruling Hyrule for seven years while he waited for the other two Triforce peaces to fall into his hand so that he could have ultimate power.
But as we all know, this didn’t go quite according to plan for Ganondorf. In a trilogy, the second instalment usually shows a character’s adaption to life after the events of the first instalment. In the Zelda series, Ganondorf’s adaption is shown three times over. When the boy in green, known as Link, challenged the Evil King, three alternate outcomes were created, in the form of the Downfall, Adult, and Child Timelines. None of these outcomes were particularly beneficial for Ganondorf, as you will see.
In the Downfall Timeline, Ganondorf’s adaption is seen in the events of A Link to the Past. Ganondorf transformed himself into Ganon, and after killing Link in this form, attained the full Triforce. However, the Seven Sages quickly sealed Ganon within the Evil Realm. Within the seal, Ganon transformed the Evil Realm into his idea of Hyrule under his rule: the Dark World. However, Ganon was not satisfied with ruling only the Dark World, knowing that Hyrule still flourished. In time, evil power began to flow from the portal to the Dark World, enticing men to follow the scent with hopes of taking this power for themselves, only to get sucked into the Dark World and become a minion in Ganon’s steadily growing army. Finally, Ganon invaded Hyrule with his army and attempted to claim it for himself. After nearly wiping out the Hylian race, Ganon was resealed in the Dark World by the Seven Wise Men, descendents of the original Sages. This then lead to a series of returns, revivals, resurrections and a resurrection attempt, all of which make up the Downfall Timeline.
In the Adult Timeline, Ganondorf’s adaption is seen in the events of The Wind Waker. After Link defeated Ganon, he was reverted to Ganondorf and sealed within the Evil Realm, much like the start of the Downfall Timeline. However, unlike the Downfall Timeline, Ganondorf was still only in possession of the Triforce of Power. Still wanting the complete Triforce, Ganondorf soon broke free of his seal and once again attacked Hyrule. When the Hero of Time failed to reappear to protect Hyrule, the people prayed to the Goddesses. The Goddesses instructed the people to flee to the mountain tops, before sealing Ganondorf and his army in Hyrule and flooding it.
Ganondorf somehow managed to escape this seal, and then began to scour the islands of the Great Sea for the bearers of the remaining two Triforce pieces. After finally reassembling the complete Triforce, Ganondorf was about to make his wish, when King Daphnes (who was also sealed along with the rest of Hyrule) made his wish first, requesting that Hyrule be washed away and Ganondorf along with it. Fuelled with anger, Ganondorf attacks Link in the hopes of killing him before he can escape, only to have the Master Sword plunged into his skull, turning him to stone; a stone that was presumably destroyed and washed away with the rest of Hyrule.
And finally, in the Child Timeline, Ganondorf’s adaption is seen in the events of Twilight Princess. Ganondorf was put on trial before he could attempt to claim the Triforce, found guilty of treason and sentenced to execution. However, during his execution, the symbol of the Triforce of Power appeared on the back of his hand, and he used this newfound power to survive his execution and even kill the Sage of Water. In panic, the rest of the Sages banished Ganondorf to the Twilight Realm.
Twilight Princess probably demonstrates the best example of Ganondorf adapting to the events of Ocarina of Time. After being sealed in the Twilight Realm, instead of simply escaping and going after the Triforce again, he employs a pawn in the form of Zant. Zant desires to be the King of the Twilight Realm, but to get there, he makes a deal with Ganondorf; Ganondorf gives Zant some of his power so that he can take the throne, and in exchange, Zant invades and takes over Hyrule.
When Zant invades Hyrule, he covers it in a cursed twilight, turning all inhabitants into spirits, though they are not aware of this. As we can see from the fact that the power of the Triforce manages to retain Zelda’s physical form, and the Triforce of Courage transforms Link into a wolf, Ganondorf would’ve easily been able to return to Hyrule and keep a physical form of some sort. This way, Ganondorf would’ve been able to seek out the bearers of the other pieces of the Triforce with very little resistance, and with a better means to do so, having Zant’s army of Shadow Beasts on his side. However, Ganondorf missed one lesson from his first attempt to get the last two pieces of the Triforce: not to go after it alone. Ganondorf once again seeks out the Triforce bearers himself, and upon facing Link in a one-on-one duel, is killed due to Link’s courage being stronger than his evil power.
In a trilogy, the third instalment revolves around the redemption of a character. So far, we’ve seen Ganondorf’s origin and three different ways he adapted to the events following his origin. Next time Ganondorf appears in a Zelda game, if he appears, I believe the game should show Ganondorf’s redemption. But how would we see Ganondorf’s redemption? He’s died in every timeline, so how can he redeem himself?
While the original Ganondorf can’t redeem himself, I believe his reincarnation can. In Four Swords Adventures, Ganondorf is reincarnated. This Ganondorf is not said to be after the Triforce, but he does absorb the powers of the Shrine Maidens and attempts to use these powers to rule Hyrule. Once again, this Ganondorf used a pawn to get so far in his plan. This time the pawn was Vaati, the Wind Mage, but after Link kills Vaati, he goes after Ganondorf, who has transformed himself into Ganon, and manages to seal him in the Four Sword.
So in the Child Timeline, a reincarnation of Ganondorf still lives. So going back to how Ganondorf could redeem himself, firstly, he has to succeed where his predecessor failed. To do that, Ganondorf would have to attain the full Triforce, establish his rule across the land, and defeat Link. This Ganondorf doesn’t appear to want the Triforce, nor does he even know it exists. Some might say that for Ganondorf to succeed, he would only need to achieve his own goals, but that’s all he would be doing: succeeding; he wouldn’t be redeeming himself.
In success, Ganondorf would redeem his honour, but not himself. Demise desired the Triforce, and it was his goal to obtain it, in addition to destroying the goddess Hylia. So if Demise’s hatred for Hylia is found in every one of his reincarnations, wouldn’t it make sense that Demise’s goals were also common with the goals of his reincarnations? Demise’s first confirmed reincarnation, the Ganondorf of Ocarina of Time, desired the Triforce, just as Demise had. So if this second Ganondorf in Four Swords Adventures was to become aware of the Triforce, he’d want it, too, wouldn’t he?
A sequel to Four Swords Adventures could see this second Ganondorf learning of his predecessor of the same name, learning of his goals and attempts for the Triforce, and this second Ganondorf could vow to succeed where his predecessor failed. That is how Ganondorf could redeem himself. Of course, this could also be done with a reincarnation of Ganondorf in either of the other two timelines as well, but given Nintendo’s recent tendency toward new villains, I feel that it isn’t likely to see another reincarnation of Ganondorf.
However, there is another issue with Ganondorf redeeming himself: it would mean that evil succeeds; the Hero of the Goddesses fails. This idea was explored thoroughly in the Downfall Timeline, but it is unlikely that Nintendo would demonstrate this in-game. As such, I believe that Ganondorf’s redemption could be executed in a similar way to Ganon’s appearance in The Legend of Zelda: he is already in power, and has been for an undisclosed amount of time. The difference is that Ganon in The Legend of Zelda once again only had the Triforce of Power.
So in conclusion, to see Ganondorf’s redemption, I believe it would have to be in a sequel to Four Swords Adventures, at a time when Ganondorf has defeated a Hero that rose up to challenge him, acquired the full Triforce and currently rules over Hyrule. This game would most likely feature Ganondorf’s defeat or death at the end, but as long as he has redeemed himself before his death, it is a redemption nonetheless.
Do you guys think it would be good to see the redemption of Ganondorf? If so, how do you think it should be executed? Let me know in the comments. But before I go, fun fact: this is actually my 51st post! It was going to be my 50th, but my previous post went out first, so this one got pushed back to being the 51st. But still, this is still to celebrate 50 posts, so the point remains! Until next time, Zelda Dungeoners!