Game Theory

Tears of the Kingdom May Turn Ganon Canon Upside Down

A new twist on the game’s longest-running theory could explain an infamous cave painting.

zelda tears of the kingdom rehydrated ganon swole
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Since the earliest teasers for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom hit the internet, an endless array of theories have arisen about the twists and turns the anticipated sequel might deliver. The perpetual antagonist Ganon has been the subject of many. Will Ganon be a playable character? Is he secretly a hero? One of the oldest theories suggests that a clue about the complex nature of Ganon may lie in a particular mural peppered through Tears of the Kingdom’s trailers.

Ganon’s role as antagonist dates back to the very first Zelda game. The entire Zelda franchise involves a series of repeating cosmic cycles: The evil Ganon captures the magical princess Zelda and the brave warrior Link has to rescue the princess and defeat Ganon, but even within the cosmology of the franchise universe, this is a neverending cycle that began in Skyward Sword.

In every incarnation, Ganon is the embodiment of pure evil that spreads darkness. Breath of the Wild takes this to the extreme by literally making Calamity Ganon a primal evil that has been around for thousands of years. But what if that wasn’t always the case?

Link is not the one wielding the Master Sword in this mural. Could it be Ganon?


The latest trailers for Tears of the Kingdom reveal that Ganon will be back, this time in his Gerudo form known as Ganondorf. Breath of the Wild revealed that Calamity Ganon was slumbering in a cocoon in Hyrule Castle in order to create a new physical form. Ganondorf’s presence suggests either that he succeeded or there is some time mischief going on. While the obvious belief is that Ganondorf will be an antagonist, as he always has been, one detail suggests otherwise.

There is a mural shown off in multiple trailers that depict an army of Guardians surrounding Ganon, with a Zelda-like princess to his left trying to seal him. To his left is a hero wielding the Master Sword, but it isn’t Link. Rather it is a large Gerudo male with red flowing holding the sword. Ganondorf is the only male Gerudo in Zelda lore, and the new official art of his Tears of the Kingdom design looks even more like the figure in the mural. But if that is true, then does that mean Ganondorf is actually a hero?

The mural itself seems to depict the Great Calamity, which took place 10,000 years prior to the events presented in Breath of the Wild. The Great Calamity was avoided thanks to an army of Guardians as well as the power of a woman wielding the Triforce and a hero welding the master sword. It was the event that sent Ganon into a slumber ... or so legend says.

Ganondorf looks fairly heroic.


Fans have theorized that while the narrative of the Great Calamity as we know it fits with the traditional arc of a Zelda game, the characters within it may not be the ones we are used to. The princess could be the goddess Hylia, the hero could be Ganondorf, and the evil could be Demise. The main villain from Skyward Sword, Demise is the character that set in motion the endlessly repeating cycle of the Zelda series. With so much time having passed since the Great Calamity, history could have misinterpreted who Ganon and Ganondorf really were.

If this is true it suggests two possibilities for Tears of the Kingdom. The first is that the game will take place in two timelines, with one set during the Great Calamity and revealing the truth of the events including that Ganondorf was the hero. It could also be that the Ganondorf we see is Demise possessing the form of Ganondorf in order to enact his evil will, and this possession has led Ganondorg to be transformed into the villain of history.

Ganondorf has different backstories in each Zelda game, but he tends to start in Gerudo or humanoid form before somehow gaining godlike powers and becoming the embodiment of evil. Tears of the Kingdom in many ways appears to take stock of the entire history of the Zelda franchise with the potential to subvert it. Turning its greatest villain into a hero who suffers a tragic fate would certainly be a twist. And it just may rewrite all of Ganon canon as we know it.

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