The Legend of Zelda series is filled to the brim with fantastical characters, but there are none more important to the lore than the intertwining fates of three: Link, Zelda, and Ganondorf. While Link and Zelda manifest as different people in each installment, related only by ancestry, Ganondorf remains the same man, which allows for a metamorphosis of character through each game. While his alter ego, Ganon, appears in a majority of Zelda games to date, Ganondorf has only shown up in Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess.
Below is an analysis of the evolution of Ganondorf — from his ancient origin to his fallen fate, this is how the bandit king would become known as The King of Evil.
A Tragic Origin (Skyward Sword/Ocarina of Time)
Ganondorf was born into the Gerudo tribe of female thieves and raised by a surrogate mother/witch, Twinrova, to be their king. The Gerudos themselves are cruel and dangerous warriors and no doubt raised Ganondorf to share these very characteristics. It is assumed that, during the period when no male king is present, that Gerudos reproduce by using Hylian soldiers. Thus, Ganondorf, along with many other Gerudos born around the same time, has Hylian blood in him.
The desire to seize is a trait given to him through his Gerudo blood, but his craving for power is engraved into his fate. At the end of Skyward Sword, when Link defeats Demise, it is stated that an incarnation of him will follow the descendants of both Link and Zelda and torture the inhabitants of the land. This is an obvious reference to the constant threats of Ganon; however, it should not be assumed that only Link and Zelda’s descendants were punished for the killing of Demise. There was another person who had just as much to do with Demise’s fall as the heroes did.
If the conflict between Princess Zelda, Link, and Ganondorf were turned into a high school play, it would be like the rivalry between Link, Zelda, and Groose. Each character is analogous to their Ocarina of Time counterparts — Groose being the rival of Link while still displaying a great amount of strength, cunning, and motivation as he helps Link to defeat the Imprisoned. In fact, if it wasn’t for Groose, Demise would have awakened much too early for the heroes to prepare. Groose may as well be just as responsible for his death.
It’s not a coincidence that Groose plays such a vital part in Skyward Sword. With his darker skin, red hair, brute strength, and red jewel on his chest (a color representing Din, the goddess most recognized with the Gerudos), it could be that Groose is the beginning of the Gerudo line. Demise’s plan is also to punish Groose’s descendants by sacrificing one in particular to be the host of his evil spawn. Ganondorf is being punished by his ancestor’s original sin, so to speak, and because of Ganondorf’s actions, the entire Gerudo tribe is eradicated.
A Power-Hungry Fool (Ocarina of Time)
The first chronological appearance of Ganondorf is in The Legend of Zelda’s first venture into 3D. Ganondorf is the king of a tribe of desert bandits known as the Gerudo. Every 100 years, a male is born into the Gerudo tribe, which consists of nothing but female bandits, and he becomes their king. After the Hyrulean Civil War, Ganondorf forms a relationship between the Hylians and the Gerudos. By gaining the trust of the King of Hyrule, he enters the Sacred Realm through the Temple of Time (previously opened by Young Link’s possession of the Sacred Stones) and takes the Triforce of Power. Using his piece of the Triforce and his army of Gerudos, Ganondorf easily usurps the King. He remains in power for seven years until Link awakens to defeat him and banish all evil from the land.
In OoT, Ganondorf has a very arrogant and intimidating disposition. He is young, strong, cunning, and manipulative, and he knows he is destined for something great. He betrays the trust of the king to find his way into the Temple of Time. He attacks the kingdom at full force, knowing that the army of Hyrule is still recuperating from the Civil War that took place a few years before. Through all this, Ganondorf still sees his successful overtaking as destiny rather than fate — a fate set in motion ages before his birth.
Demise’s resurrection is fulfilled when Ganondorf uses the power of the Triforce to transform himself into a monster of unimaginable power, Ganon. This would be the beginning of the reoccurring plague that Hyrule would have to endure for ages. However, even with his share of the Triforce, the might of Courage and Wisdom proved too much for Ganon. Thus, Ganondorf was sealed in the Sacred Realm.
Like Demise before him, Ganondorf vowed revenge on Link and Zelda’s descendants.