For many of us, The Legend of Zelda series was our introduction to gaming and, as a result of this, it has become one of the most beloved and iconic series in the world. Its story line and bosses are quite memorable and influential. The Legend of Zelda series has been instrumental in the shaping of both platforming and role playing games; for better and for worse. From the original The Legend of Zelda to Breath of the Wild, the bosses are among the highlights of the series. We all remember how frustrating some of those bosses were and how terrible and cheesed others remain after all their incarnations.
Gimmicks, tropes, and all manner of things have allowed The Legend of Zelda games to remain a cultural staple in the gaming world. Those bosses from across the myriad of games, only a small number are recurring characters and they are usually the more powerful ones. Among these are the recurring villains like Ganondorf, Moldorm, and various others. Unfortunately, not every representation of these perpetual menaces can be as tight as others; in fact one of the reasons some bosses are never repeated is because of how bad they are. Not all games have an equal distribution of this phenomenon, but that does not stop anyone from really enjoying any of the games.
Since each game has its own unique feel to its gameplay, it is difficult to narrow down a list of the absolute strongest and weakest nemeses of the series in a precise order. Due to this, here is a list of some of the weakest and most powerful villains in all of the franchise up to this date.
20 Weakest: Kalle Demos
Kalle Demos is one of the weakest bosses in The Legend of Zelda, as you can kill it without ever raising sword or boomerang against it! The giant overgrown weed of the Forbidden Forest is a boss which you can cheese with the greatest of ease! The way which this boss from The Wind Waker can be beaten so easily is through dumping the magical forest water on the wannabe Audrey II. This single action makes it one of the easiest bosses in the entirety of the series. Someone might ask if this is only possible on the original release, however, Kotaku reported that this trick works in the Wii U HD remaster. There are more ways in which players can beat the boss without raging up a sweat. However you choose to fight Kalle Demos, you should have little concern of it somehow coming out on top of you.
19 Strongest: Twinrova
The Sorceress Sisters are among the best bosses in the series. Koume (Sorceress of Flame) and Kotake (Sorceress of Ice) are a pair of hags who stand in the way of Link. Their most memorable appearance is in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time where they are revealed to be partially responsible for Ganondorf being the way he is. The twin witches are leaders of a Gerudo tribe. The Gerudo are a race which is partially inspired by the Garuda of the Dharmic faiths. When Link starts to battle them in their first in-game appearance, Koume and Kotake initiate a two stage battle.
The two stage battle begins with Link having to use the Mirror Shield to deflect the attacks of one sister towards the other in a platform-styled area. After the conditions are set to move on to the next, the twins will merge into Twinrova, a much more difficult opponent. The Mirror Shield will remain 100% necessary to winning as it will cause her to fall to one of the platforms. Once she is downed, Link will be able to dispatch her with his sword, winning the fight.
18 Weakest: Moldorm
Worms, creepy crawlies, and other giant beasts often serve as filler because of deadlines, lack of creativity, or to give players a weak boss to help them better understand the mechanics. Moldorm is a massive worm-like creature who sits atop the Tower of Hera in the game A Link to the Past. The 1991 version of this particular boss fits into two categories of bosses, the first of which is that he is completely annoying to fight and the second is that he is an easy boss to beat.
The giant worm can be killed in just a few strikes of your sword and he has a simple weak spot to hit. The Link to the Past version of Moldorm is saved from being among the weakest bosses on this list thanks to one thing, the environment in which you fight him. A lack of borders and small combat area make it easy to fall off the map, forcing the player to start the fight over and over until they finally win.
17 Strongest: Thunderbird
The Thunderbird boss from Zelda II: The Adventure of Link is one of the most memorable enemies for a plethora of reasons. First of all, the bird-like Thunderbird is annoying to fight and rewarding to beat. As this game is a side-scrolling platforming game, unlike its predecessor, this allowed for new enemies to be fought in a variety of new ways. One of the things which sets the Thunderbird apart from previous bosses is that it flies and you must use magic to kill it.
The strategy to beat this particular boss requires the player to have a lot of magic saved up just to cast Link's thunder magic. First you'll need to learn to cast it from the old man in Kasuto. Although the spell will expose the one weak spot of this boss, actually hitting it remains a challenge. As the Thunderbird flies around, it's shooting fireballs at Link, which can only be repelled with magic. As the Thunderbird reaches half its health, it will begin to quicken its movements. This boss is one which we love and hate to fight.
16 Weakest: The Angler Fish
Fans of the series may recall that the older games generally had some of the hardest bosses of their era, but the Angler Fish boss from Link's Awakening is one of those which we wish that we could forget. The Angler Fish is a monstrosity which is so easy to kill that some people have never seen its attack. The game this boss is from might be a classic, but where it failed, it failed hard.
There was a lot of promise when it came to there being an underwater fight and where it succeeded were the aesthetics, but the combat was completely miserable. Outside of the aesthetics, this boss just feels completely lazy. The name and utter lack of a foreboding presence make it so that the boss just feels incomplete. The fact that it is just an angler fish makes it not particularly fun or exciting. Remember, you can kill the thing without ever seeing what its attacks look like. Maybe this boss is meant to be underwhelming for some strange reason?
15 Strongest: Gyorg
Let's get to an actually good aquatic enemy in The Legend of Zelda series, Gyorg. The masked fish may not be the toughest of bosses, but compared to the Angler Fish, this one is Ganon-tier. This gargantuan terror from Majora's Mask starts out by stalking the hero before attempting to knock him from a high platform under the presumption that he's hungry (he is a giant carnivore after all).
The swimming mechanics and the Zora barrier make this such a difficult battle. The strategy which works best is to stun the fish with your arrows before diving into the water to go toe to toe with it. Using the Zora barrier will make the fight a lot easier. If you aren't competent with the swimming aspect, then death is more than likely to happen. While in the water, the overgrown fish will try and swallow Link before spitting him out; this attack causes two hearts worth of damage. Whichever way you look at this beast, it is a refreshing change of pace from the abomination that was the Angler Fish.
14 Weakest: Pumpkin Head
As much as we wish that this boss was the namesake of Stan Winston's masterpiece, Pumpkinhead, it is more like a Walt Disney cartoon than a proper villain. The Oracle of Ages is one of the less appreciated of the classic Zelda games, but it proved the handheld market to be sound. Pumpkin Head is the very first boss that you encounter in the game and is rudimentary at best.
This particular boss utilizes some of the most basic attacks. Although the theme of this jack-o-lantern faced creature is around ghosts, ghouls, and goblins, his attacks are fireballs and hoping around. All that you need to do when you run into him is slash his body, throw the head, and destroy the the little specter inside. All that it takes to do this is by slashing it a few times. Little to no damage can be expected from this boss, so it isn't worth fretting over it.
13 Strongest: Stallord
First of all, this boss is one of the absolutely most beautifully designed in the franchise. The intimidating look of a reanimated Twilit Fossil is something which many of us were thoroughly impressed by. The evil Zant brought these old bones back to life for the sheer purpose of stopping a hero like Link. One of the shining fine points of this boss battle are how it plays similar to a puzzle-platform game; it feels almost like Pitfall, except with a giant skeletal demon-thing trying to maul you to death.
Each attack from Stallord comes with high impact and leaves a large amount of damage. Once the second phase of battle begins, and Link is forced to climb the walls, Stallord's skull will try and knock Link down, to his death. This bestial being from Twilight Princess is definitely one of the most visually stunning of bosses, and one of the toughest.
12 Weakest: Fyrus
Giant monster? Check. Bad attitude? Check. Fire? Double check. The hulking behemoth Fyrus is chained to a set of pillars which held him prisoner in the Goron Mines. So what's the big problem with Fyrus? Well, the one issue with this boss is that he is thoroughly anti-climatic. This knock off Balrog had the potential to be one of the greatest bosses ever, but he has a generic "shoot him in the eye," type of weakness, or in this case rather, "shoot him in the glowing forehead jewel." The target on his head might as well be a stationary bulls-eye on the side of a barn because it is difficult to miss. Once Fyrus is struck with an arrow there, he falls; his terrible balance makes him one of the worst Tolkien-inspired monsters we've seen. Visually Fyrus is a formidable opponent. When it comes to game mechanics, however, he just doesn't make the cut.
11 Strongest: Dark Link
Dark Link is among the most mysterious and difficult bosses to fight in the history of the Zelda universe. He has little dialogue and no backstory, but he gives players massive heart ache. In the sequel to The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Dark Link is listed as Shadow Link and has the most powerful attacks in the game. Once the Thunderbird is beaten and you move on to him, the shadow magic construction will charge you and unleash a flurry of attacks. When you think about it in the context of the original 1987 game, Link's shadowy doppelgänger is relentless and mirrors the skills of the player quite closely. After all the years since the game's initial release, people learned a few tricks to beat him, the main one being to cower in the left corner and stab him. Future games have been more lenient in interactions with the renamed Dark Link.
10 Weakest: Tentalus
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a critically acclaimed game, having received a 93/100 from Metacritic, a 10/10 from Game Informer, and a 9.5/10 from Destructoid. The game has a beautiful design and some beautiful game play, unfortunately some of its enemies were unable to match the general feel and look of the game. Tentalus is one of the weaker bosses in the game.
In contrast to the beautiful dungeon he resides in Tentalus is one of the more stale enemies. His eye, like most other bosses in the Zelda franchise, is his weakness. In the second phase of the fight against the love-child of Scylla and the Kraken, Tentalus begins to attack with its hair-like appendages which are easily repelled by Link's sword. Hacking off these hair-like appendages and blinding the creature are all too easy.
Although the boss is fairly weak, the real tragedy of Tentalus is the break in immersion. The lack of damage to the Sandship after the cut scene, missing holes in the hull when it attacks in the chase sequence, and just the general look of the creature quickly remove any sense of foreboding dread the player may have had.
9 Strongest: Odolwa
For those who have played Majora's Mask, they likely remember the blade dancer Odolwa from Woodfall Temple. This tribal behemoth is a formidable opponent to Link as his giant blade, his shield, and his magic all make getting close enough to cause damage extremely difficult. Odolwa has definitely earned himself a place on this list because of those traits alone.
The tactics which Odolwa uses to keep Link at bay are quite ingenious for an enemy in The Legend of Zelda series. One of the methods which he will use to trap Link is by creating a ring of fire around the hero, preventing him from moving. The fire will cause damage if touched. He may also summon insects to attack Link. His main weapon of choice is his gargantuan sword which is several times the size of Link. His weakness is when he is dancing or trying to summon his insects, this will allow Link to shoot him with his bow as well as his bombs.
Odolwa is one of the greatest villains to ever grace the gaming world. He is not only vicious, but very well designed. He is an absolutely frustrating pleasure to fight.
8 Weakest: Armogohma
Armogohma is just one of the many representations of Gohma throughout The Legend of Zelda series. For those who have arachnophobia, this might be one of the more fun bosses to beat. As fun as this boss may be, he is on the weaker side of things. In Twilight Princess, a game which was revolutionary for the Zelda franchise, there should have been more substance to this fight. Once again, the "get them in the eye" trope of the series is present.
The issue with this boss goes deeper than just his Armogohma form; it has been present since his first appearance. Gohma's representation in Twilight Princess is not as easy as the original, but it is close enough.
7 Strongest: Zant
Zant, the Usurper King is one of the most prominent villains in the Twilight Princess game, having a plethora of powers from the evil side of magic. Before we get into why Zant is a difficult boss in his own right, let's take a moment to first appreciate that he resurrected the Twilit Fossil Stallord. From what we've seen of his magic indirectly, it should be obvious that he would be a tough fight.
When the time comes for players to fight this puppet of Ganon, there will be a six stage battle. In each stage, Zant, the King of Shadows will mimic a previous boss fight. The cool thing about this boss is how he forces the player to remember details from each fight, making him functionally six bosses in one. After he is defeated, he will reveal that he is nothing more than an elaborate ruse from the real villain of the story, Ganon.
6 Weakest: Vitreous
This boss from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the lesser known bosses in the franchise. One of the main complaints of what makes these bosses so terrible is the "eye" trope; Vitreous is the logical extreme of this. The boss is extremely easy to cheese because you can hide in a corner and frantically do spin attacks when he summons his miniature eyes to attack you. He will summon these eyes in between lighting blasts from his giant eye. The most difficult part to handle in this fight is the increasing frequency of his lighting strikes which cause a fair amount of damage. Once everything has been expended, Vitreous will try and charge Link; this charge can be defeated with little effort.
The trouble with all the miniature eyes can easily be avoided if Link has either the Magic Cape or the Cane of Byrna. If Link has those in his possession, he can immediately charge Vitreous and kill him for his heart container.
5 Strongest: Puppet Ganon
2002's Wind Waker was one of the more unique games in the series and its visuals brought new expectations to the fans; as one of my colleagues said, its refreshing look reminds us of a children's book. One of the highlights of the game are its highly memorable bosses, among which is Puppet Ganon. This puppet was made by Ganondorf to resemble what he looked like in A Link to the Past. This over-sized marionette not only connects previous games, but it puts up one hard fight.
When players fight against Puppet Ganon, they will discover that it is a three staged rumble. First, the puppet is in its Ganon form, then a spider-like manifestation, and finally a better looking Moldorm. In each of these phases of the battle, a number of weaknesses become apparent; the most prominent of these are the strings on his initial form. Something which is surprising of this is that his Moldorm form is harder than the original Moldorm to beat.
The Wind Waker is one of the best games in the series for quite a number of reasons and it is a thoroughly pleasurable experience.
4 Strongest: Digdogger
One of the bosses from the original Legend of Zelda, Digdogger is almost as boring of a boss fight as the Angler Fish. It's possible to defeat the first game's incarnations of Digdogger with a minimal number of hits. Should Link play the recorder, Digdogger will shrink into a small, easily manageable beast. This will cause the one-eyed monster to have such little health that one strike should do it. The second time that Digdogger is seen in the game, something similar will happen as he will become three miniature versions of himself. Unlike other bosses who make multiple appearances in the series, the creators have learned how to make him interesting.
In Oracle of Seasons, Digdogger is not only more interesting, but he is more deadly. The necessity of the Magnet Gloves are a double edged sword, so to speak. That is because the player needs to know exactly how much force to apply or else death is all but certain.
3 Strongest: Demon Train
The Spirit Tracks game is one of the more unusual entries into the series, for no other reason than it has one of the most cartoonish villains in the series. The Demon Train is one of the more unique bosses in the series for a few reason, the biggest of them being that he is a train. This unwholesome locomotive is from the Dark Realm and is called to help steal the body of Princess Zelda for Malladus. When Link confronts this abomination, he will need all the finesse and quickness in the world.
When the boss fight commences, Link will have to race against the clock in two phases of combat. First he will need to ride alongside the topsy turvy automaton, but he will have to disable its cannons; the cannons are on two separate cars. Once the train's weapons are disabled, he will have to destroy its face. If Link fails to complete a single part of the mission, Link will fall into the abyss and the central antagonists, Cole and Malladus, will be whisked away to safety. We wouldn't want that to happen, would we?
2 Weakest: Jalhalla
Few games will ever be perfect, and even the perfect ones will have points which are lower than others. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is one of the high points of the series but it fell flat on a few of its fights, one of the worst of those few failings is Jalhalla, the Protector of the Sea. In order to not be too negative, a few positive things will be mentioned. The first of those positive things is that Jalhalla is a pretty nicely designed boss, as its appearance is somewhat reminiscent of an overly engorged No-Face from Miyazaki's 2001 film Spirited Away. The second positive thing is that this is a fairly quick fight.
When you go to fight this Poe, all that you need to do is shine light on him before slamming him into some pillars and then you're pretty much done. The hordes of Poes he summons are quickly dispatched. Jalhalla is an optional boss, so if you absolutely don't want to fight a slightly better version of Pumpkin Head, you can skip it.
1 Strongest: Ganon
Ganon is a staple of the series. Having been the big bad villain since the earliest games, this villainous brute is someone who has caused a lot of rage quitting and heart breaking. In The Legend of Zelda, Ganon's ability to cloak himself with shields of fire, shoot fireballs at you, and destroy the borders surrounding you made him quite a foe. Killing him is something which has alluded some players as well; many of those who originally played the game did not know that the silver arrows were necessary to kill him. Having been depicted in 11 of the games in the series, Ganon has undergone a number of different re-imaginings and presentations. The one hallmark of each of Ganon's incarnations is that he is extremely difficult to defeat. The sense of reward that players feel when he is beaten causes a surge in relief that the ordeal is over.