The Demons are a recurring race in the Legend of Zelda series. Demons are monstrous entities who typically have malicious tendencies and hatred of other races, though this is not the case of all demons. Though other entities similar to demons (such as Acheman and Majora) have appeared throughout the series, they have not been officially confirmed as demons themselves.
Though most appear humanoid, demons often possess monstrous physical attributes; for example, Chancellor Cole possesses horns, Batreaux appears to be a humanoid bat, and Demise has hair made of fire. Demons can appear in a variety of different forms such as a Demon Train (a demonic locomotive), Ghirahim (a demonic sword spirit), and The Imprisoned (Demise's sealed form).
Due to their dark nature, demons usually possess a natural affinity to dark or black magic. Some demons like Malladus are capable of using demonic possession to possess the body of another, even other demons as shown by his possession of Chancellor Cole. Demons also possess the ability to summon monsters and powerful demons, an example being Ghirahim who regularly summoned powerful enemies like Scaldera in boss fights.
Demons also produce a demonic aura that attracts lesser monsters (such as Keeses and ChuChus) and is capable of transforming other creatures (such as Remlits) into demonic forms. This aura is apparently stronger at night as shown with Batreaux, who's demonic aura caused Remlits to turn into feral beasts and caused Keese & ChuChu to appear in Skyloft at night, forcing most of the inhabitants of Skyloft to stay in doors during late hours. Lesser demons seem to have little control over the effects of their demonic aura, as the benign Batreaux had no control over it. As a result, even benign or benevolent demons like Batreaux can have a negative effect on their environment via their demonic aura. The same may not apply to all demons however, as Batreaux is the only known demon with this condition.
Depending on how powerful they are, demons can possess a variety of abilities such as levitation (though demons that possess wings like Batreaux can fly naturally), teleportation, materialization and de-materialization of objects, and manipulate dark (possibly demonic) energy. The Demon King possesses powers on a scale greater than other demons and their power is often great enough to allow them to oppose other powerful beings such as Deities, Dragons, and guardian spirits.
Often a Demon King's power is so great that even powerful deities such as Hylia and the Spirits of Good are only able to seal them away rather than outright defeat them. These measures are usually temporary at best however, as the Demon Kings usually bide their time, waiting for the seal to weaken and/or their loyal servants to free them. Yet, even Demon Kings are not invincible, as they are often susceptible to divine weapons such as the Light Arrows, Master Sword, or Lokomo Sword. Although they are considerably vulnerable in such cases though, there is still a dangerous possibility that a Demon King may actually prevail from an attempted attack (that was done by an artifact of the same caliber as the ones noted above), as shown in Twilight Princess when Ganondorf survived his execution by the Holy Sages and killed one of them in return. This further proves the lethal potency that a Demon King wields. Very few have actually managed to truly overwhelm Demon Kings in combat, as the only known individuals to have achieved such a feat is Link, Zelda, and Midna; with Link being the only one to do so on his own.
While Demons are vulnerable to being sealed which weakens their power, they can still be a threat and/or use some of their abilities. Demise for example took the form of The Imprisoned after being sealed by Hylia when he was trying to break his seal completely. Ganon has been sealed at times, though this does not prevent him from sending his minions to free him and in the case of Breath of the Wild his influence could still be felt despite being sealed within Hyrule Castle by Zelda and could even resurrect slain monsters and Yiga Clan members during a Blood Moon when his power reached its peak as well as possess Guardians.
Relationship to Humans
As shown by Batreaux, it is possible for noble or benevolent Demons to become Human (or Hylian) by obtaining a number of Gratitude Crystals which are produced by feelings of gratitude. However since they can only be seen by certain people such as Link, the demon will require the aid of such a person to collect enough crystals to do so. Once enough crystals are obtained, the Demon will lose their demonic aura and become a mortal, though as shown with Batreaux they will retain some aspects of their demonic form while losing their more monstrous features such as wings (and thus their ability to fly).
The primary demon race to appear are the powerful demons who come in many different shapes and sizes, these include the likes of Demise (a large black flame headed demon), Bellum (a huge squid-like demon), Chancellor Cole (a humanoid demon), Skeldritch (a skeletal demon) and Malladus (a giant blue skull-shaped demon).
Non-demonic entities can be transformed into demons, as shown by the Gerudo Ganondorf becoming Ganon, the Minish Vaati becoming Vaati's Wrath, the Twili being transformed into the Shadow Beast demons and the Knights of Hyrule being transformed into base creatures of magic. The Dark World will transform any who enter who possess impure motives into demons.
Most demons are members of the Demon Tribe, which is a tribe made primarily of demons and monsters that serve the Demon King, though some such as Batreaux do not. If the Demon King is incapacitated (usually via being sealed), other high ranking demons usually takeover as leader of the tribe, such as Chancellor Cole in Spirit Tracks and Demon Lord Ghirahim in Skyward Sword. Usually these high ranking Demons are loyal minions of the Demon King, who seek to unseal or resurrect the Demon King, usually aided by legions of monsters that serve the Demon Tribe.
One hundred years before the start of the game, the Demon King, Malladus, led his demonic hordes in a war against the first settlers of New Hyrule, but the mortals ultimately prevailed through the intervention of the Spirits of Good, who sealed Malladus beneath the ground through mystical shackles, using the Tower of Spirits as a lock and leaving the Lokomo to watch over New Hyrule as they returned to the heavens. Over the years, the shackles became known as the Spirit Tracks and were used as railroad tracks, and the war eventually became little more than a legend among the people.
In the present day, one of Malladus's remaining minions, Cole, worked undercover as the chancellor of New Hyrule while secretly plotting to destroy the Spirit Tracks and resurrect his master with the help of Byrne, a rogue Lokomo. He eventually succeeded in ridding the kingdom of the Spirit Tracks, and in a confrontation with Link and Princess Zelda, the latter of whom had become suspicious of him, used dark magic to separate Zelda's spirit from her body and stole her body, intending to use it to resurrect Malladus.
However, Zelda survived as a ghost, invisible and inaudible to all but Link and the Lokomos, and together with Link, managed to restore the Spirit Tracks and the Tower of Spirits, though they were too late to stop the ritual, and Malladus was reborn within Zelda's body. Byrne subsequently asked Malladus for the power he had always wanted, but Malladus instead attacked him before departing with Cole on the Demon Train, a massive sentient locomotive, to wait for Malladus to adjust to Zelda's body.
Link and Zelda, with help from Byrne and Anjean, eventually managed to track Malladus down in the Dark Realm, where they used Light Arrows to exorcise Malladus from Zelda's body, which Zelda proceeded to reclaim with the help of Byrne. In retaliation, Malladus killed Byrne and possessed Cole instead; though Cole's body began to reject Malladus's spirit, Malladus vowed to destroy the world before that happened; however, Link and Zelda successfully managed to destroy both Malladus and Cole for good.
Eons before the beginning of the game, the Demon King Demise led his armies in a bloody war to obtain the Triforce; in response, the goddess Hylia sent the remaining Hylians into the heavens upon a massive land mass before uniting the Ancient Robots, the Gorons, the Kikwis, the Mogmas and the Parella against Demise's forces, sealing away the Demon King within the Sealed Grounds. However, knowing that Demise's followers would free him, Hylia had the Goddess Sword created, discarding her divinity to be reborn upon the residents of Skyloft.
One such servant, Ghirahim, later revealed to be the embodiment of Demise's sword, attempted to kidnap Zelda, the reincarnation of Hylia, with the intent of sacrificing her soul and life force to free Demise from his prison; though Link eventually succeeded in obtaining the Triforce and using it to destroy Demise, Ghirahim simply captured Zelda and traveled back in time to resurrect his master, succeeding in doing so despite Link's best efforts to stop him. Upon his return, Demise, both surprised and impressed to see a Hylian who was not afraid of him, agreed to a final duel with Link, during which he was ultimately defeated. However, with his last breaths, Demise cursed the bloodlines of Link and Zelda, declaring that an embodiment of his hatred and the curse of the Demon Tribe (in the Japanese version) would be reborn and torment the descendants of the two for all time, before being sealed inside the Master sword. Sealing Demise then subsequently revives Zelda, who is shown to be unharmed.
A friendly demon named Batreaux also dwells within Skyloft, where he recruits Link to gather Gratitude Crystals to make him a Hylian and allow him to socialize with the citizens of Skyloft.
In Breath of the Wild, Link encounters a statue in Hateno Village called the Horned Statue by the local villagers. Mistaking it for a Goddess Statue, Link prays before it and it houses a dark entity. This entity reveals itself to be a Demon that was sealed within the statue by Hylia as punishment for making faustian deals with mortals. The demon however reveals that it has no intention of changing its ways and has been biding its time for someone like Link who is capable of hearing the statue's voice. He steals one of Link's Essences (Heart Containers or Stamina Vessel) and offers to return or trade it for a different essence as part of a service where Link can swap Heart Containers for Stamina Vessels and vice versa. The demon himself is shown to be benign and business minded, as he only steals Link's essence to show off its services in the hope of building a long term business relationship with Link. Interestingly despite sealing this demon, Hylia herself does not intervene or try to prevent Link from using the Horned Statue's services, though this is likely due to the Horned Statue being little threat to Link.
Like in past games, Ganon retains his status as Demon King, going through a cycle of resurrection (likely the result of Demise's curse mentioned in Skyward Sword) and being sealed by various incarnations of Zelda and Link. Over time Ganon became known as Calamity Ganon due to the calamity he brought to Hyrule with each resurrection and apparently shed or lost access to his original humanoid Gerudo form, Ganondorf. 10,000 years before the events of Breath of the Wild, the Sheikah developed powerful technology to aid the Hero and Princess in combating Calamity Ganon who was defeated and sealed. However 100 years before the events of Breath of the Wild, a prophecy foretold of Ganon's return forcing the Royal Family of Hyrule to prepare for Ganon's return. They excavated the ancient technology used to defeat Ganon in the past, as it had been buried by the Sheikah after the people of Hyrule came to fear their technology causing the Sheikah to be banished, leading to a schism within the Sheikah with some breaking away to form the Yiga Clan which swore loyal to Ganon over their people's mistreatment by the people of Hyrule. The rest of the Sheikah remained loyal and heeding the people's fears, buried so it could be used to combat Ganon in the future. However having learned from his past defeat, Ganon turned the tables on the Champions and forces of Hyrule by creating four phantom scourges which he used to take control of the Divine Beasts and kill their champion pilots. Ganon also corrupted the Guardians and send them to rampage across Hyrule. Link was injured while fighting Guardians, forcing Zelda to have her Sheikah allies put Link into suspended animation to heal, while she sealed herself and Ganon in Hyrule Castle for the next 100 years. 100 years later, Link awoke with no memory of his past, before learning his destiny and embarking on a quest to free the Divine Beasts and defeat Ganon. Calamity Ganon tries to reincarnate himself after Link awoke but was interrupted before he could complete it by the time Link confronted him in Hyrule Castle forcing him to fight in an incomplete state. After Calamity Ganon is defeated, he pulls together his remaining malice to transform into his bestial Dark Beast Ganon form, though in this state he is consumed by Malice and all he knows is a desire to destroy and rampage. However he is defeated once again by Link, ending the threat he posed to Hyrule at least for the time being according to Zelda, indicating that he may return presumably as part of his cycle of resurrection.
Ghirahim appears as a playable character and The Imprisoned appears as a giant boss. The game's main antagonist, Ganondorf holds the title of Demon King and transforms into the Dark Beast, Ganon. Though Demise only appears in his imprisoned form, he is referenced by Ganondorf's Swords of Demise and Trident of Demise. Ghirahim's Demon Blades are said to be weapons forged by the Demon Tribe. The Demon Tribe lead by Ghirahim is also represented by Ghirahim's Forces.
Relationship to Humans
It has also been implied that this may work in reverse as well, allowing an evil mortal to become a demon. Ganon may be an example of this, as he was originally the Gerudo King Ganondorf, before he stole the Triforce (or the Trident in Four Swords Adventures). Though Ganon has never actually been confirmed to be a Demon in the canon series (save for Twilight Princess in which Ganondorf is referred to as a Demon Thief by the Ancient Sages; though it is likely that they were speaking metaphorically), in the Hyrule Warriors series, Ganondorf/Ganon holds the title of Demon King.
The Triforce of Power may allow an evil mortal that possesses it to become demons, reflecting the evil within their hearts. Of course, it should be noted that Ganondorf is implied to be an incarnation of Demise's hatred and the curse of the Demon Tribe, indicating that he may have already possessed a latent demonic nature that was awakened by the power of the Triforce (or Trident in the case of Four Swords Adventures), transforming him into a true demon: Ganon. However as shown in both Twilight Princess and Hyrule Warriors, Ganon is capable transform between his Gerudo form (Ganondorf) and demon form (Ganon), indicating that it may simply be an alternate form like Wolf Link or Sheik.
Several entities, enemies and boss within the series have a demonic appearance and/or traits similar to demons, yet have never been confirmed to be demons themselves.
Majora has many demonic qualities (as it enjoys causing chaos and destruction). One possibility is that it is the demonic spirit of Majora's Mask, similar to how Ghirahim is the demonic spirit of Demise's Sword.
|Anjean · Byrne · Chancellor Cole · Link · Malladus · Princess Zelda|
—Full list of characters
|Stagnox · Fraaz · Phytops · Cragma · Byrne · Skeldritch · Demon Train · Chancellor Cole · Malladus|
| Fire Realm · Forest Realm · Ocean Realm · Sand Realm · Snow Realm|
—Full list of locations
|Forest Temple · Snow Temple · Ocean Temple · Fire Temple · Sand Temple · Tower of Spirits|
|Lokomo Sword · Rail Map · Recruit's Sword · Recruit Uniform · Spirit Flute · Spirit Tracks · Spirit Train · Stamp Book · Tears of Light|
|Boomerang · Whip · Whirlwind · Bow · Sand Wand · Bow of Light|
|Anouki · Demon · Goron · Hylian · Lokomo|