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Ganondorf in Twilight Princess was not an example of poor writing, but instead a story element

Joined
May 6, 2015
First and foremest is a bit of background for the YouTube audience. Assuming you know about Demise's reincarnation and the Split Timeline, then skip around to the "quote" in this post if you want to read still after watching.

We already know a lot about Ganondorf, whose appearance takes place in the Legend of Zelda in 3 Main titles: Ocarina of Time, the Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess. This means the interesting thing about Ganondorf as a character is how we can analyze him in two alternate universes, as those games span both the Adult Timeline and Child Timeline respectively.

That's what leads me to call Ganondorf's character "Three in One". Like so many other things in pairs of three in this series (three stones, three pendants, three orbs, the TRIforce...) Ganondorf's full person, what he is as a character, is really only shed light on after taking a look at all three games, and with a little help outside of the game from Skyward Sword. As his role is so important in these three games (less so in Twilight Princess as he was kind of shoehorned in, but still big nonetheless) we also learn a bit more about the world of Zelda and the franchise as a whole.

In Ocarina of Time Ganondorf is painted as a fairly simple villain. He's the dark clouds from Zelda's dreams, and really not much more than that. All the information we're given is that he's a Gerudo (the sole male born every 100 years) who has mystic powers, courtesy of Kaepora and Gaepora, and desires the whole Triforce for its ability to grant any wish. Thus, he basically fills the roll of a "bad guy archetype", as far as Ocarina of Time is concerned; killing the Deku Tree, starving the Gorons, diseasing Jabu-Jabu, reviving volvagia, freezing the zoras over, and draining lake Hylia via the water demon Morpha is just a list of some of the evil acts he did in an effort to gain the triforce.

Now in the Child Timeline, taking place after Link had gone back in time to warn the King of Hyrule of Ganondorf before his evil deeds happen, the next major appearance of Ganondorf is in Twilight Princess. We don't really meet him until the end of the game, where Zant reveals he was really just a fanatic because Ganondorf posed as a god for Zant.

We learn truly of how Ganondorf was attempted to be executed for the evil acts he committed in Ocarina of Time, prior to the events of Twilight Princess. For some reason, he has the Triforce of Power (even though Link hadn't yet opened the gate of time) and is able to survive a stab of the "warlock blade", break his shackles, and kill the sage of water with his bare hands. In a last ditch effort Ganondorf is sealed within the Twilight realm, ensuing the events that unfold.

Anyway, it's pivotal to remember that Twilight Princess happens in a universe where Ganondorf never had his chance to try out the totality of his plan, stealing the princess and luring Link to him, thus gathering all three pieces. From a story perspective, Ganondorf is shown to be trapped in his fate, and this explains why Ganondorf plays such a similar character in Twilight Princess, and doesn't really add as much to the story as he could have. Twilight Princess's look onto Ganondorf is seen as especially shallow when we compare it to Wind Waker.

In Wind Waker we actually feel for the man, the person of Ganondorf, as opposed to just seeing him as another villain like the other two games. We know that he longs for his home country, and he originally doesn't even desire to kill Link. He wants to break the shackles that bind him to his fate, and this quote is important-

Now! Let us put an end to that which binds us together! Gods! Hear that which I desire! Expose this land to the rays of the sun once more! Let them burn forth!

I know I'm not the first person to touch on this subject but I think we can mostly all agree while his means may have been evil, his intention was much more righteous in Wind Waker. It shows him more as a person, fighting for his country rather than himself. This is a stark contrast to Ocarina of Time or Twilight Princess where he is really just a villain figurehead.

Now the reason behind this depth of character in Wind Waker is not just that "TP Ganondorf is poorly written in". That's a relatively true statement I'd say in my opinion, but there is a story reason. Ganondorf is clung more tightly to the bonds of Demise in Twilight Princess. We see his Triforce of Power surge in the execution scene as he breaks his shackles and kills the Sage of Water. Furthermore, in the Child Timeline he hadn't been defeated by Link after trying to lure him out, so he's still naive to the original plans he felt ensnared by Demise.

We know that Demise reincarnated into Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time. This theory is as strongly confirmed as Kaepora Gaebora being Rauru, or the "lost friend" from Majora's Mask being Navi. Thus when Ganondorf goes into Twilight Princess, he's still deep under the control of Demise. However, in Wind Waker, it seems he is much less so, considering he wants to "put an end" to the "binds" he faces of fate.

What I mention in the video is his fight with fate, and how he is always ensnared in it. I didn't want to add another layer of complexity on the video after it had already been 17 minutes, but by this fate I really meant the curse of Demise. Where in Twilight Princess he is bound to the curse of Demise in creating the cycle of hatred, Wind Waker Ganondorf breaks from this cycle. He wants to bring back the Land of Hyrule in his longing state, but after having learned from his failure in the past, he is no longer under such a trance by Demise.

This is why we don't see a Ganon-related boss after Wind Waker. Both Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks have Bellum and Malladus as final bosses. However, after Twilight Princess, Ganondorf's hatred manifests himself as Ganon in the final boss of Four Swords Adventures.

There's probably something to be said about the Defeated Timeline, but we don't see the person of Ganondorf so I don't think it has so much ground on this theory. All there is is Ganon, who was left undefeated at the end of Ocarina of Time, and continues to raid throughout the Defeated Timeline. Nothing here goes against what I've said so far.

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With that I hope you understood my analysis and that I explained myself properly. In being realistic, I doubt developers paid any mind to the thought of Demise in Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and probably not even Twilight Princess or Four Swords Adventures. However, I don't think it's too ludicrous to believe they always had some idea of an evil force that reincarnated itself- like, they had the image of Demise but no name to it yet. Regardless, that's canon now regardless of it's a retcon or not, and with this new era of canon since Skyward Sword I believe this theory ties what would otherwise be an inconsistent character across three games into a smooth continuity that actually makes sense. Thanks for watching + reading.
 

Jirohnagi

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I've always assumed when he says "Let us put an end to that which bind us" that he means he is sick of the pervese travesty that is his continual defeat at the hands of link and zelda and the fact they are doomed to repeat it constantly. I have always held the opinion that Ganondorf Mellowed out over the years like most beings with power tend to do if they live long enough, he's grown comfortable with his power and he only excises it on occaision or when a foe arises.
 

Cfrock

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I'm somewhat defensive of Ganondorf's appearance in Twilight Princess precisely because I've always felt that the character needs to be viewed across all three games to be understood properly. He very much is a "Three in One" character as you say. In Ocarina he comes across as one-dimensional, but when you add his story from Wind Waker you see his arc take form. Then comes Twilight Princess and he seems one-dimensional again, but that apparent lack of depth is given to us in a new context, that context being Wind Waker Ganondorf.

In Wind Waker, we see a Ganondorf who has known defeat, who has learnt the folly of his blind ambitions. He acts in a much more measured way. He demonstrates patience. He isn't side-tracked by things that would distract him from his goal, like killing Link. His goal itself shows a change in him. He doesn't want to conquer the world and reshape it in his image, he just wants it back. He probably has plans to be the king of the revived Hyrule but the sort of king Wind Waker Ganondorf would be is vastly different to the sort Ocarina Ganondorf was. I doubt Wind Waker Ganondorf would murder his subjects for sport.

In Twilight Princess, we see a Ganondorf who hasn't known defeat, who hasn't been bested. His plans unravel because of Link's warning to Princess Zelda and we can only speculate as to what the immediate consequences of that are. In Twilight Princess Hyrule the Gerudo don't exist anymore and there is a giant prison imposing on their desert. Hyrule itself is more militarised, with soldiers patrolling the streets of Castle Town and advanced military technologies like cannon and even bazookas exist. Ganondorf himself is wearing a more heavily armoured outfit when he is brought to the Mirror Chamber for execution. It's speculation, but my bet would be that Ganondorf went to war with Hyrule after Link's warning. No attempt at subtlety, no attempt to undermine the races individually, just all out war. And he lost. Badly.

How his hatred must have grown. Your theory that Twilight Princess Ganondorf is closer to Demise than Wind Waker Ganondorf strikes me as being right on the money. That connection has probably never been stronger than during Ganondorf's execution. Then he survives his execution because of a power not even the Sages understand how he got. Twilight Princess shows us a Ganondorf who has never known success, only defeat, so is it any wonder that he is such a blunt instrument of evil and hatred?

We view Twilight Princess Ganondorf with the full knowledge of the man he could have become, the man we see in Wind Waker, had things been different. I feel it adds some depth to his character in Twilight Princess because we know something of what's underneath his evil and what it will take to draw that out. He appears not as a one-dimensional evil villain archetype, but as a prisoner to, as you put it, his own fate. Despite all his power, he can't break free from it. In both Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, Ganondorf, to me, is something of a tragic figure. And I feel his appearance shouldn't be dismissed as it so often is.

The most revealing bit of dialogue from Ganondorf is in Wind Waker:
My country lay within a vast desert. When the sun rose into the sky, a burning wind punished my lands, searing the world. And when the moon climbed into the dark of night, a frigid gale pierced our homes. No matter when it came, the wind carried the same thing... Death. But the winds that blew across the green fields of Hyrule brought something other than suffering and ruin. I coveted that wind, I suppose.
Here we see that he didn't seek to conquer Hyrule simply for dominance. He did so to help his people. We can condemn him for his methods but at the heart of it Ganondorf never was the one-dimensional archetype we see him as, not even in Ocarina.

Like Ganondorf himself, this quote takes on a greater significance in Twilight Princess, when you arrive in the Gerudo Desert. Before you stretches a seemingly endless field of soft brown sand. The shimmer of heat ripples on the rises and dunes and the sun bears down like a weight in the sky. You hear the scorching wind. You see the bleached bones of long-dead animals. Moldorm rise from the ground all around you, lethal to anyone not paying attention. The whole desert is a fatal wasteland, devoid of anything but pain.

But turn your head to the east and you will see the exact opposite. Lush green trees rising above grassy hilltops. The sparkling crystal of clear blue water. The refreshing surge of the river falling to meet the lake. You will see life. And rising above it all you will see the spires and turrets of Hyrule Castle. Who wouldn't covet what those Hylians have? Who wouldn't want to take it for their own people?

I've rambled on self-indulgently for a while now so I'll finish up. Ganondorf is an interesting character with depth and relatable motivations but this can only truly be understood when he is examined across all three games. Your theory of his relative connection to Demise fits in very well with Ganondorf's development over the series and offers greater insight into what makes him act the ways in which he does. It's easy to dismiss him in Twilight Princess because he's "introduced too late" (a claim I disagree with as Zant makes clear there is another villain behind him from very early on) but when considered in the context of Ocarina and Wind Waker, as well as with the world-building clues provided in Twilight Princess, he becomes a much more developed character than people tend to give him credit for.
 
Joined
May 6, 2015
Like Ganondorf himself, this quote takes on a greater significance in Twilight Princess, when you arrive in the Gerudo Desert. Before you stretches a seemingly endless field of soft brown sand. The shimmer of heat ripples on the rises and dunes and the sun bears down like a weight in the sky. You hear the scorching wind. You see the bleached bones of long-dead animals. Moldorm rise from the ground all around you, lethal to anyone not paying attention. The whole desert is a fatal wasteland, devoid of anything but pain.

That's a great point. Makes me wonder how the geography of the Zelda games is accurately represented. For example, is Ocarina of Time Hyrule 100% what Hyrule would look like in the Zelda Universe? I've heard the theory that it's merely representations, and that's how completely different biomes are so close together and the worlds look vastly different when comparing games like OoT and TP.

Also, I feel like another good indicator for Demise being more prevalent in TP Ganon is the Sages saying "Yet... By some divine prank, he too had been blessed with the chosen power of the gods." I feel that looking back now, the "divine prank" may be a reference to Demise.

I personally never thought it was bad writing. Kind of obvious that it IS a story elemen

Many people just like to bash on Twilight Princess regardless. I don't feel like it's the best game, and I do share part of the opinion that Ganondorf made Zant become really lame, but what's being talked about here (how he repeats his mistakes because it's the Child Timeline) is definitely not a fault of poor writing but rather integral to the story itself.
 
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While he does feel forced in, I do not consider it "bad writing". Afterall, something had to happen to him after OoT in the child timeline. It would have been lame to have such a powerful and fearful enemy just die in a war.

I feel it would have been worse if they didn't follow up with Ganondorf somehow. He did steal a bit of Zant's thunder though.
 
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That was so good. Im also working on a ganondorf video. Wind waker is thrice as good because of ganondorf.
 
Joined
May 6, 2015
Definitely, it's funny how well Ganondorf worked in favor of Ocarina of Time while in Twilight Princess it led to some of the game's biggest criticisms.
 

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