The Top 7… villains that never stay dead

Killed in: The Legend of Zelda, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Seasons, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, The Legend of Zelda:Twilight Princess.

One of the most iconic and long-lived villains in videogame history, Ganon is Nintendo’s most enduring baddie… next to Bowser, that is. But unlike Bowser, you won’t catch Ganon making nice with his archenemies (the non-canon Smash Bros. excluded). Nor does he play sports, take pratfalls, fly around in a giant clown-head or do any of the other goofy shit Bowser’s renowned for. No, Ganon is deadly serious, and he has been ever since his first appearance as a giant blue pig demon in the original Legend of Zelda.

Soulless, calculating and utterly fixated on power, Ganon is the only major Zelda character who never, ever dies. Link and Zelda have to be reincarnated in times of need, but while Ganon is repeatedly shot full of arrows, stabbed in the face and mutated into any one of a number of gigantic beasts, the most harm that can befall him is to be sealed away. Once that happens, it’s just a matter of time until he’s released again, almost always to kidnap another Zelda and fight another Link.

It’s worth noting that he didn’t really even get a backstory until he’d been around for a few years; until then, he hadn’t needed one. Pig-demon who lusts after power was really all we needed to know.

Above: Holy crap, brass knuckles? Ganon used to be hardcore

As we got to know Ganon (or Ganondorf) better, we learned that he’d once been a man. More specifically, he was the leader of a desert-dwelling tribe known as the Gerudo, and his lust for power came in part from his resentment at having to live in a barren desert while the people of neighboring Hyrule enjoyed a lush, verdant landscape. Knowing these things didn’t exactly make him sympathetic, but it went a long way toward fleshing out a villain who up until that point was just doing things to be mean.

Man or demon, the weird thing about Ganon is that he never adjusts his strategy; ever. His plans always revolve around snatching Zelda (who carries the Triforce of Wisdom, which he wants) and ignoring Link (who carries the Triforce of Courage, which he apparently doesn’t care about) until it’s too late. He never even betrays a hint of recognition or surprise when he sees the same face (or at least the same green cap) that’s put him down innumerable times; he just sneers a lot, maybe turns into a monster, and then gets smacked down again. We especially like the way this went down at the end of The Wind Waker:

Above: Yeah, he’ll come back from that, too. Bet on it 

Killed in: Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Castlevania: The Adventure, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge, Dracula X: Rondo of Blood, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Castlevania Legends, Castlevania 64, Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness, Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, Castlevania: Order of Shadows, Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia and almost every other non-Castlevania game to bear his name.

Murdered a whopping 17 times in the Castlevania series alone (not counting the many remakes of the first Castlevania, Rondo of Blood or Symphony of the Night), Dracula claims the No. 1 spot on sheer volume of deaths alone. Resurrected along with his ever-changing castle every 100 years (give or take, depending on the actions of his cultists), Dracula usually spends his few hours of consciousness raising an army of the dead and terrorizing Eastern Europe before inevitably being put down by some hero.

Usually it’s a whip-wielding member of the Belmont or Morris families that “kills” him, but Dracula’s also fallen prey to a werewolf, a couple of sorceresses, a former henchman, his own son and at least two little girls. Whoever they are, they always beat the shit out of Dracula, and like Ganon, he never learns a damn thing from the experience. Every time he comes back, it’s always, “I’ll summon a bunch of monsters, send them out into the countryside and then just sort of hang around my throne room waiting for someone from that one stupid family to barge in. Then I’ll probably grossly underestimate them until they throw a boomerang into my face.”

Above: “Then I’ll turn into, like, some huge monster, I guess?” 

While he never thinks to change his strategy, Dracula is always careful to update his appearance. When the series began, he looked like a 12-foot-tall Bela Lugosi with a cape full of fireballs, but since then he’s put together a much more elegant look that incorporates flowing white tresses and, more often than not, carefully trimmed facial hair.

Above: Box art for Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (top, 1988) and Castlevania: The Dracula X Chronicles (2007) 

Dracula’s also one of the only villains who’s been around long enough to get bored of the whole “bad guy” thing and gone straight. After being “killed” for good and having his castle sealed away inside a solar eclipse, Dracula was reincarnated as fantastically effeminate schoolboy Soma Cruz, who – after recovering his old memories and powers – had a change of heart and decided he didn’t want to be evil anymore. Cue Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow, two of the best games in the Castlevania series, both of which essentially star a redeemed, non-vampiric teenage version of Dracula.


It didn’t last long, of course, as the four (chronologically earlier) Castlevania games since 2005’s Dawn of Sorrow have shoved Dracula back into his villain role, still hiding out in his high tower and still using (more or less) the same silly tactics.

Above: Dracula, now with working legs! 

And then there are all the other, non-Castlevania games Dracula has appeared and died in, but the less said about those, the better.

Above: OH GOD NO 

Apr 13, 2009


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Top 7


  • Xerxes667 - September 22, 2011 1:08 a.m.

    I'm sure had you written his a year later, Helios decapitation by Kratos in GoW III would've been top of the list, man that was awesome
  • Money - September 21, 2011 12:18 a.m.

    No King K Rool? Baaawwwww
  • Gsindahouse - July 30, 2010 9:29 a.m.

    What about Sigma from Megaman X?
  • INFINITYGAUNTLET - July 28, 2010 6:30 p.m.

  • Hotdiddykong - July 27, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    I agree with most, Ridley's always coming like a misquito on summer days. You guys shouldve added Bison because no matter what you do he'll come back in one of the million bison bodies he made XD
  • unholychazer - July 21, 2010 6:10 a.m.

    well, wesker is dead for good, you have to look real close, but the rockets actually decapitate him before they blow
  • chocolategenocide - July 7, 2009 1:27 p.m.

    hitler was in a jrpg!!!! wow
  • callofjaurezrulez - July 4, 2009 11:16 p.m.

  • CrashmanX - July 1, 2009 3:16 p.m.

    Sorry for double post, theres no edit button. This needs to be more like a top 21 list, there are far too many Recurring bad guys that just wont die.
  • FETALJUICE - June 7, 2009 3:35 p.m.

    Dr. Wily could fit in this list. That bastard just doesn't know when to give up after 9 Mega Man games.
  • KillerPotato - June 2, 2009 8:26 p.m.

    This top seven brings many questions to mind...
  • GameGod72697 - May 30, 2009 9:57 p.m.

    what the hells up with shang tsung. will he ever die.
  • steveo_justice - May 17, 2009 4:59 p.m.

    Uh, why is Kane not number one?
  • MooseKnuckle753 - May 14, 2009 12:42 a.m.

    STOP DON'T OPEN THAT DOOR, oh wesker, what a jackass
  • barNey - May 3, 2009 1:09 p.m.

    hitler should have been top 5
  • Dudeman47 - April 22, 2009 12:24 a.m.

    I love how all the villians come back, JUST to get the crap beat out of them time after time again. You have to admit; it's great fighting somebody you're familiar with. It's like encountering an old friend.
  • Apokalypse - April 20, 2009 5:45 p.m.

    Wesker is my No1 noo doubt!
  • CAPST3R - April 19, 2009 12:35 p.m.

    oh yeah, and 1 more thing: LEMMINGS! how could you have forgotten?
  • jorhorror - April 19, 2009 3:01 a.m.

    Gannon is badass. Ive always thought he was one of the best vilains ever.
  • BurntToShreds - April 19, 2009 12:44 a.m.

    I know he was only in one game, but [MADWORLD SPOILERS BELOW] . . . . . . . . . The Black Baron (stop starin') should at least have been an honorable mention. I mean, he comes back HOW many times after being killed by his, er, "employee"? Fighting him as the final boss, and Man-Darting him was pretty frikkin' awesome.

Showing 1-20 of 106 comments

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