Ever since the first trailer for Tears of the Kingdom was released back in 2019, we’ve been speculating about the return of Ganondorf and what that might mean for the story. That mural in Breath of the Wild has become the center of conversation once again in recent weeks, with fans trying to understand the identity of the male character. Is this Link or is this Ganondorf? Today I want to have a look into that mural once again, now we know Ganondorf is going to be in the game, plus look at the story implications if he is indeed the hero from 10,000 years ago.
Ganon has always been the bad guy in Zelda games, dating back to the very first game on the NES. Skyward Sword introduced us to the concept of the repeating cycles in the the Zelda franchise, with Demise cursing Link, Zelda and Ganondorf to an eternity of life, death and rebirth. In many versions of the Legend of Zelda, Ganon is the embodiment of pure evil, Princess Zelda has been rescued and Link is the hero. Breath of the Wild took that to the extreme by introducing us to Calamity Ganon, a literal beast made from Malice.
In the recent final pre-release trailer for Tears of the Kingdom, Ganondorf was confirmed to return, having been absent from the series since Twilight Princess in 2006. He’s also starred in series greats such as Ocarina of Time, and Wind Waker. How Ganondorf returned is a detail we don’t yet know, given it appears his body was under Hyrule, kept in a zombie-like state being used for Malice production, potentially to keep Hyrule under control.
Given we see Ganondorf in the trailers it’s fairly safe to assume he’s going to be the antagoinst in Tears of the Kingdom, much like he’s always been. However, the trailer may have been cleverly cut together by Nintendo and actually they have different plans for Ganondorf this time around.
To dig into this theory a little further, we have to go back to Breath of the Wild and the tapesty that details the battle of the great calamity from 10,000 years ago. We can see who we presume to be the beast Ganon in the middle, to the left we see a female character who looks similar to Princess Zelda. Then to the right we can see a male character, weilding a sword. The identity of this male character isn’t obvious. On one hand it could be Link, or one of the first incarnations of the hero. On the other hand, the image looks very much like a male Gerudo, long red hair and a distinctive Gerudo nose. If this is a depiction of Ganondorf battling against the demon beast during the original Calalmity, then perhaps the evil Ganondorf we known started out as a hero, and not a villian.
Looking at the mural again, rather than Princess Zelda on the left, that could be the godess Hylia. Rather than Link on the right, that could be Ganondorf, and maybe that’s not Ganon in the middle, that could be Demise. Demise is the one that set the curse cycle in motion, with the endless life, death and rebirth.
If this is true, then it has some major story implications for Tears of the Kingdom. It could mean the game is played out against two timelines; one in the present with Link, the other in the past set against the backdrop of the first great calamity with Zelda and Ganondorf. In the last trailer we did see another female character who looked very similar to Princess Zelda. Is this the female character we see battling the Evil on the Mural from Breath of the Wild?
It could be the people of Hyrule have misread the mural from the past, and Tears of the Kingdom aims to tell the truth about the great Calamity from 10,000 years ago. I believe we’re going to be battle on two fronts, in two timelines. Nintendo recently released a commercial saying The Upheaval is coming, which could be the name for the modern day calamity, in the time when Link is fighting alongside the champions. When I first saw Ganondorf in the latest trailer, I assumed he’d be in Links time in the present, but perhaps the Ganondorf we see is in the past, and we get to see the events of the mural play out.
If Ganondorf is in the past, and he does battle against a great evil and wins, then perhaps he gained the support of the Zonai tribe, who themselves worship powerful beings. Something then could have happened, which led to the Zonai turning on Ganondorf, trapping him underground and turning into this Malice production. That would explain him mummified state where Zelda and Link find him, held in place by a Zonai arm, helpless but for the production of Malice.
Tears of the Kingdom could tell the story of the fall of Ganondorf. Once a male Gerudo, likely celebrated by his local community given only one male Gerudo is born every 100 years. Ganondorf could have started out as a hero, but in his battle against the evil forces of Hyrule, was somehow forced into an eternity of evil.
We do have an interesting shot from the final trailer. This could be Ganondorf covered in Malice, or an evolution of Ganondorf in some way. However, this shot from the back looks very similar to Demise. Last time we saw Demise was at the end of Skyward Sword, facing off against Link in a one on one battle, before Demise cursed them all into this everlasting cycle. It’s likely to be Ganondorf, however, it would be the ultimate Zelda game that told the story of Ganondorf, being corrupted by Demise. Ganondorf, once a celebrated hero from the Great Calamity of 10,000 years ago, turned to the dark side by Demise.
Whatever happens in the story in Tears of the Kingdom, we’re certainly set up for a great adventure. All the pieces are there to make for a very compelling story, one that could tie up some loose threads we’ve been speculating about for over 6 years. I’m all for finding out more about Ganondorf. Yes, he’s evil, and we’ve spent plenty of games fighting against Ganondorf to save Princess Zelda, and probably Hyrule too. But I would like to understand why Ganondorf is evil, and look into his motivation. Was he born that way, or did some cataclysmic event happen that made him the way he is? I am hopeful that Tears of the Kingdom will provide this back story, and if this plays out against a couple of timelines, then all the better as some of the best Zelda stories involve the manipulation of time.
Let me know in the comments what you think about Ganondorf in Tears of the Kingdom, and let me know who you think is in that mural from Breath of the wild.