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The difference between Ganon and Ganondorf, explained

Here’s what you need to know about Nintendo’s iconic villain

Ganondorf screams in a screenshot from the third trailer from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom Image: Nintendo
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

Ganondorf, king of evil and newly anointed super hunk, will be making his return in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The villain last appeared in a game roughly 17 years ago, in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Now, he’s reborn — more hydrated than ever — and ready to take on Link and his friends in the upcoming Breath of the Wild sequel.

His return brings up general questions about his character, though. Those who played The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild might correctly point out that Ganon appears as the final boss of the game, as both Calamity Ganon and Dark Beast Ganon. However, Ganon isn’t (quite) the same as Ganondorf — so here’s the difference between the two terms, explained.

What is the difference between Ganon and Ganondorf?

It’s very simple: Ganon is used to refer to the villain’s beast form and Ganondorf is used to refer to his human Gerudo form. That’s it!

The distinction between the two is confirmed in The Legend of Zelda Encyclopedia entry for Ganondorf. The writers discuss the first time we see the Ganon form of Ganondorf in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. The book says, “In battle with Link for the other two pieces, Ganondorf tested the limits of his Triforce of Power and transformed into a demon in the form of the Dark Beast, Ganon.”

Throughout the history of the franchise, Ganondorf has had many forms as Ganon. His transformation often looks like a beast that resembles a hog, and generally has a bestial quality to it. Some games portray both Ganon and Ganondorf, whereas some just have one form. (In Breath of the Wild, we only see Ganon.) They’re one and the same — so let’s just hope that the Ganon form in the Tears of the Kingdom is as hot as his new human form.