Though other threats face Hyrule, Lorule, Termina, and everywhere in between, Ganon is clearly the biggest and most prominent adversary Link faces over the course of the Legend of Zelda series. He's the ultimate evil that necessitates the perpetual rebirth of the legendary hero. Since Ganon takes several incarnations over the course of the games, we decided to rank his various appearances in the Legend of Zelda franchise.
Before you proceed, be warned: this list contains spoilers for all the games listed, including Breath of the Wild.
For this list, we excluded Demise from Skyward Sword, as that isn't Ganon, as much as it is the evil force that will eventually create Ganon. We also left Hyrule Warriors Ganon off, as that version exists outside of canon. His appearance in Phantom Hourglass is also limited to a short recounting of the events of The Wind Waker, so that version is also left out.
Check out our rankings below and let us know your rankings in the comments section. For more Zelda rankings, check out our pre-Breath of the Wild ranking of every game in the series.
11. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Ganon doesn't appear in gameplay, which solidifies this appearance as his worst. However, in the story to the series' first sequel, Ganon's minions are trying to resurrect him after his death in the original Legend of Zelda, but they need Link's blood to do so. Following that logic, Ganon only appears when Link dies. It's a small role, but it's menacing enough to remind players what is at stake… plus, since Zelda II is one of the more difficult entries in the series, players see the screen pretty often.
10. Link's Awakening
Link's Awakening is a different beast from other Zelda games. It leaves Hyrule behind in favor of Koholint Island, and Ganon is not the main threat. At the end of the game, a nightmare takes the form of the evil beast, and Link must fight a formidable shadow of his biggest enemy. Because this isn't truly Ganon, and he isn't the main antagonist of the game, this version ranks low.
9. The Legend of Zelda
Ganon's premiere showcased him as a great evil, but the battle does not amount to the climax it does in other titles. The large, pig-like Ganon warps around the room, launching fireballs Link's way and only appearing for a brief moment for Link to strike. Eventually, Link is able to land the final blow and Ganon explodes into a pile of ashes. The battle is over quickly if you know what you're doing, but it still establishes Ganon as the big bad for the franchise.
8. Oracle of Ages/Seasons
The Oracle games are quite different from one another, but if you manage to complete both adventures, Link is able to face off against Ganon. His hidden nature requires you to complete both games and makes the battle feel like a special reward. The fight is also no walk in the park. He phases in and out of visibility, and appears even more massive than any 2D game before. The face-off is a solid reward for completing two underrated adventures.
7. Four Swords Adventures
For much of the game, you don't know Ganon is the main adversary of Four Swords Adventures. Later on, it's revealed that he is in fact the main threat. The final battle sees Link constantly sent to the Dark World, which is shown with a pop-up Game Boy Advance screen. Ganon is an imposing creature to face off against due to his massive size and diverse moveset. He also features a cool death sequence thanks to the enhanced visual effects.
Head to the next page for our top six incarnations of Ganon – Remember… spoilers for recent Zelda games ahead!