While it might seem like a cheery adventure game on its surface, the Legend of Zelda series is host to its fair share of haunting foes and terrifying enemies. Join us as we dive into our personal ranking of the 10 most bon-chilling Legend of Zelda enemies to see the true terror this franchise conceals within.
Breath of the Wild, Tears of the Kingdom, & others
Lynels are formidable, centaur-like creatures that have been part of The Legend of Zelda series since its inception.
In the first Zelda game, they appear as lion-like beasts that roam the overworld, launching sword beams at Link. Their presence in A Link to the Past, meanwhile, sees them as fierce, half-lion half-human guardians of Death Mountain, further solidifying their reputation as challenging adversaries.
However, it is in Breath of the Wild where Lynels truly become the stuff of legends. Towering over Link, these beasts are equipped with a range of deadly weapons and possess an agility that belies their size, making them capable of rapid sprints, devastating charges, and even breath attacks.
Their intelligent combat behavior, which includes reading Link’s movements and countering his attacks, makes every encounter unpredictable and intense. Visually, with their menacing lion faces, rippling muscles, and varied, ornate armors, they exude a sense of raw power.
Encountering a Lynel, especially for the first time, can be a harrowing experience; their sheer strength and aggressive tactics make them one of the most challenging enemies in the game. Throughout the series, Lynels have evolved from mere overworld nuisances to embodiments of pure combat prowess, ensuring that players approach with caution and respect.
In Majora’s Mask, mysterious aliens invade Romani Ranch on the first night of the three-day cycle, and they are simply referred to as “Them” by Cremia and Romani. These extraterrestrial beings have an eerie appearance, resembling gray aliens with elongated limbs and large, vacant eyes.
Their objective is to abduct the cows and even Romani herself from the barn. The challenge of repelling “Them” is intensified by the eerie glow they emit, the fog that shrouds the area, and their relentless march toward the barn. Adding to their creepiness is the game’s subtle implication that their presence is just another unsettling consequence of the falling moon and the impending doom it brings.
The event’s aftermath, if the player fails to fend off the invaders, is disturbing, with Romani appearing traumatized and her memory seemingly wiped.
The combination of their otherworldly appearance, the atmospheric setting, the high stakes of the encounter, and the disturbing consequences of failure make “Them” one of Majora’s Mask’s most memorable and spine-chilling opponents for you to overcome.
8. Shadow Beasts
Shadow Beasts are menacing creatures in Twilight Princess, serving as minions of the Twilight Realm’s dark forces. With their hunched postures, elongated limbs, and helmeted faces that hide all features except their glowing eyes, their design is inherently eerie.
What makes them particularly unsettling is their sudden appearance, usually emerging from portals in the sky in a swirl of dark energy. When they land, they let out a distinctive, echoing howl, which not only alerts players of their presence but also casts a gloomy atmosphere over the surroundings.
One of the most tension-inducing mechanics associated with Shadow Beasts is that they often attack in groups, and if a single one is left standing, it can resurrect its fallen companions. This means players must strategically defeat them, ensuring they can eliminate the last remaining beasts simultaneously. Their ability to plunge areas into twilight, converting them into zones of darkness and shadow, further emphasizes their role as harbingers of dread.
Throughout Twilight Princess, encounters with Shadow Beasts are moments of heightened tension as their formidable nature — combined with their haunting aesthetics and the urgent, dramatic music that accompanies them — creates a sense of threat and foreboding.
Breath of the Wild
Guardians in Breath of the Wild are remnants of ancient Sheikah technology, originally designed to protect Hyrule but later corrupted by Calamity Ganon. Their spider-like design, combined with their massive size, makes their very appearance intimidating.
What amplifies their threat is their agility, as they can rapidly move across terrains and even scale obstacles. The laser targeting system they employ locks onto Link with a piercing blue light and sound cue, signaling an imminent and highly damaging laser blast. This mechanic often forces players into a tense split-second decision to either evade, deflect, or take cover.
The haunting piano notes that play upon their activation serve as an ominous warning, immediately heightening the player’s alertness. The ruins of Hyrule are littered with dormant Guardians, and the uncertainty of which might spring to life adds a layer of tension while exploring. Their resilience and powerful attacks make them formidable foes, especially early in the game when players are less equipped.
The combination of their eerie and ancient design, sudden activation, and relentless pursuit make Guardians not only a challenging adversary but also one of the most atmospheric and fear-inducing elements of Breath of the Wild.
6. Like Likes
Ocarina of Time, Tears of the Kingdom, & others
Like Likes are distinct enemies in the Legend of Zelda series, known for their peculiar appearance and unnerving behavior.
Resembling large, wriggling tubes or bags, these creatures move slowly but are notorious for their ability to engulf Link, threatening to consume not only him but also his valuable equipment. The threat of losing precious items, such as the shield, to a Like Like adds a layer of urgency when encountering them.
Their looks are unsettling enough, with a hollow, gaping mouth ready to envelop anything that comes too close. But the way they silently and slowly inch toward Link gives players a sense of unease, especially in contrast to other, more overtly aggressive enemies. The process of being swallowed and then forcibly ejected by a Like Like is not only visually unsettling, but also poses a gameplay challenge as players must quickly recover and retrieve any stolen items.
Over the course of the series, the unexpected challenges they introduce and their unique, off-putting design have solidified the Like Like’s reputation as one of the most unusual and creepy foes in the Zelda universe.
5. Silent Realm Guardians
In Skyward Sword, the Silent Realm presents players with a trial that tests Link’s courage and wits. The most daunting aspect of the Silent Realm is the presence of the Guardians (not to be confused with the ones from Breath of the Wild), statuesque beings that remain dormant until Link is detected.
Initially, the realm seems serene with the Guardians in their inanimate state. However, if Link steps outside the protective circles or takes too long to collect the sacred tears, these towering figures awaken and relentlessly pursue him.
Their sudden activation is accompanied by a dramatic change in music and atmosphere, immediately ramping up the tension. Their large size, glowing eyes, and swift, unwavering pursuit of Link create a palpable sense of dread. The contrast between the realm’s initial tranquility and the intense chase when the Guardians awaken further heightens the fear factor.
Moreover, the fact that Link cannot fight them — only evade — adds a layer of vulnerability, making every encounter a nerve-wracking game of cat and mouse.
The Guardians serve as an omnipresent threat, transforming the Silent Realm from a peaceful place of reflection to a landscape of fear and urgency, making them some of the most memorable adversaries in the game.
A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, & others
Wallmasters are notorious enemies in the Legend of Zelda series, known for their sudden and unexpected appearances. Originating as large disembodied hands, they stealthily descend from the ceiling, aiming to snatch Link and often return him to the dungeon’s entrance or a previous room, undoing progress.
Their presence is typically preceded by a shadow growing beneath the player, creating a looming sense of dread as players race to evade the descending hand. This sudden appearance disrupts gameplay flow, turning safe spaces into areas of tension. The subtle audio cues that accompany a Wallmaster’s descent, combined with the player’s sudden realization of the growing shadow beneath them, creates moments of panic.
In some games, they can even emerge from walls, catching players off guard. Their relentless pursuit and the potential setback they represent make them not just enemies to defeat, but environmental hazards to be constantly wary of.
The combination of their surprising attacks, the impending doom of being caught, and the unnerving aesthetics make Wallmasters some of the most unsettling enemies in the Zelda series. The knowledge that they can appear at almost any moment keeps players on edge, turning even familiar dungeon corridors into places of anxiety.
Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker
ReDeads are among the most unsettling enemies found in the Legend of Zelda series, making notable appearances in both Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker.
In Ocarina of Time, they are depicted as humanoid, mummy-like figures that dwell in dark places like the Royal Family’s Tomb and the Shadow Temple. Their most chilling feature is their haunting scream, which paralyzes Link upon hearing it and allows them to slowly approach and latch onto him.
In Wind Waker, the ReDeads take on a more zombie-like appearance with wooden masks but retain their eerie nature. The cel-shaded art style of Wind Waker contrasts with the grim appearance of the ReDeads, making their presence even more jarring.
Their gaze can freeze Link in place, followed by a bone-chilling shriek that adds to the suspense of encounters. Their slow, methodical movements, combined with their sudden lunging attacks, make them unpredictable and terrifying.
The atmosphere they create, along with their uncanny appearance and sounds, has solidified the ReDeads’ place in the memories of many players as one of the most fearsome and creepy enemies in the Zelda universe, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
2. Gloom Spawn
Tears of the Kingdom
Gloom Spawn in Tears of the Kingdom present a formidable and nightmarish challenge for players navigating the vast expanse of Hyrule and its ominous Depths. Their arrival is by an unexpected Blood Moon, a phenomenon that bathes the world in an eerie red glow, even in broad daylight.
These horrifying entities manifest as a multitude of hands, each with a chillingly singular eyeball, that erupt from the ground with a sinister intent. The hands swarm Link, latching onto him with a fervor, their grip sapping his vitality and converting his hearts into gloom hearts. Their persistent and relentless grabbing not only damages Link but also immobilizes him, rendering him vulnerable and impeding his ability to counter-attack.
The sheer unpredictability of their appearance, combined with their relentless aggression, makes them one of the most anxiety-inducing foes in the game. Even if players muster the skill and courage to fend off this terrifying onslaught, their relief is short-lived as they are then confronted by the menacing Phantom Ganon.
Gloom Spawn, with their overwhelming numbers and relentless pursuit, stand out as a masterclass in horror and suspense within the game’s lore.
1. Dead Hand
Ocarina of Time
The Dead Hand is found in Ocarina of Time lurking within the gloomy depths of the Bottom of the Well in Kakariko Village. Its appearance alone is enough to unsettle players: a pale, blob-like body with a wide, toothy mouth and holes for eyes. Further enhancing its eerie presence are multiple elongated, disembodied hands that protrude from the ground around it.
When a player approaches, these hands reach out and grab Link, immobilizing him while the Dead Hand slowly lumbers toward him for an attack. The ghostly ambiance of the Bottom of the Well, combined with the chilling music, amplifies the sense of terror when facing this creature.
Many players remember the Dead Hand not only for its unnerving design, but also for the suspenseful nature of the battle where getting caught can spell doom. Its slow, deliberate movements, contrasting with the sudden lunge when it’s close enough to attack, make it unpredictable and terrifying.
The Dead Hand has since become infamous in the Zelda community for its unique brand of horror, standing out as what we believe is the most genuinely creepy enemy in the series.
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