The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (2024)

Quick Links

  • The Gerudo In Ocarina Of Time

  • The Gerudo In Majora's Mask

  • The Gerudo In Breath Of The Wild And Tears Of The Kingdom

  • The Gerudo In Spin-Off Media

  • The Gerudo's Relations With The Kingdom Of Hyrule

  • The Relevance Of Ganondorf To The Gerudo

  • The Unique Culture And Language Of The Gerudo

The Legend of Zelda is a storied series, spanning tens of games over more than three decades. Across such a vast library, it would be impossible not to have introduced a wide cast of eccentric, varied characters. Zelda has many recognizable races, from the feathered Rito to the rock-eating Goron.

RELATED: The Legend Of Zelda Timeline, Explained

The Gerudo, meanwhile, are the least prevalent of these mainstay races, despite being one of the most important in the lore. Yet, even with such limited appearances, they've made a strong impression, getting their largest development yet in Breath of the Wild. Their history isn't incredibly long, though it is indeed storied.

Updated July 6, 2023 by Hilton Webster: With the launch of Tears of the Kingdom, plenty of new information has been given on the Gerudo people and their history within Hyrule. With Ganondorf's long-awaited return, the Gerudo return to the forefront of Link's adventure, presenting the people of the desert in a new light.

The Gerudo In Ocarina Of Time

The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (1)

The first appearance of the Gerudo Tribe was in Ocarina of Time, and with them came most of their established lore as well.

Until Breath of the Wild, the Gerudo had little development and even fewer in-game appearances. The core of their culture is established here in their first appearance. They are solitary, living a life distinct from many of the other people of Hyrule.

They are shown to be a tall, dark-skinned tribe made up exclusively of women. They are situated deep within the desert of Hyrule in the aptly named Gerudo Valley. Here, they make a living, as the Zelda Encyclopedia puts it, as noble thieves. They rob, yes, but only to support their livelihood.

However, their leader, Nabooru, has been brainwashed by the Gerudo twin witches, Koume and Kotake, to follow the will of Ganondorf. This in effect causes a civil war amongst the Gerudo people, of those who support Ganondorf, and those who oppose him. With Ganondorf's ultimate defeat, Nabooru returns to lead the Gerudo people.

Ganondorf is initially seen visiting Hyrule Castle as a goodwill gesture from the Gerudo people in Ocarina of Time before unveiling his evil desires.

The Gerudo In Majora's Mask

The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (2)

In the sequel to Ocarina of Time, the Gerudo make another appearance, though not as a full tribe.

Instead, in Majora's Mask the Gerudo depicted are pirates, looting the coastline of Termina along the Great Bay. They have much less importance here than they did in Ocarina of Time, though their presence is still relevant to Link's own journey.

The Gerudo are distinct here in how they show the cultural drift between various Gerudo tribes. Those of Gerudo Valley follow more solid traditions and have roots, while those of Termina are living a more carefree, villainous life with no such prophecy of a male king to tie them down.

The Gerudo In Breath Of The Wild And Tears Of The Kingdom

The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (3)

Outside of minor appearances in spin-off media, the Gerudo people do not reappear as a group until Breath of the Wild, where they are given a major spotlight alongside the other races of Hyrule. Deep within the Gerudo Desert, they have set up a permanent settlement known simply as Gerudo Town.

Like in Ocarina of Time, the Gerudo people live separate from the other peoples of Hyrule, being socially isolated outside of their own people. Likewise, they are once again a tribe of exclusively women, this time with a young woman, Riju, governing them as chief.

Though geographically isolated, the Gerudo people are still welcoming to traders, and even permit other women to enter Gerudo Town.

The prophecy of a male Gerudo born to the otherwise female tribe is still a present history, one that the Gerudo are painfully aware of.

Ganondorf is a distinct part of their history, with their various chiefs, the previous Champion Urbosa amongst them, working tirelessly to prevent his return.

In Tears of the Kingdom, we witness the revival of Ganondorf, and the Gerudo people, their chief Riju especially, views this as their issue to fix. Taking up her place as the Sage of Lightning, Riju and the Gerudo people pledge their strength to the defeat of Ganondorf, their long-missing king.

The Gerudo are a proud, self-sufficient people who, in this appearance, more than any other, show how culturally different they are as a result of their isolation. However, we also see the guilt they hold over Ganondorf, the man that heralded many of Hyrule's darkest days.

The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (4)

Outside of mainline games, the Gerudo only have three major appearances. The first of these is in Four Swords Adventures, where the Gerudo have been exiled from Hyrule as a result of Ganondorf's deeds.

As a result, they have travelled far to the east of Hyrule to untamed deserts and renounced their former king. They become more open to the people of Hyrule in hopes of fostering stronger ties.

In these new lands, there is also a Great Pyramid to which they pay reverence, one that Ganondorf disgraced in his pursuit of power. They still guard this place, only granting Link entry to retrieve the trident within due to the pure nature of his task.

The second, and much briefer appearance of theirs is in Cadence of Hyrule.

What can be considered canon in Zelda is dubious at the best of times, though it is worth looking at Cadence of Hyrule with a pinch of salt since it is a crossover game.

Here, the Gerudo are once again depicted within the Gerudo Desert, though as a more technologically advanced people.

In a unique scenario for them, a woman known as Barriara is leading them as their young prince is not yet of age. Though not explicitly mentioned, this can be assumed to be Ganondorf in his fated appearance. In the future depicted in the DLC, we see that indeed the Gerudo people are following the rule of Ganondorf.

The third is in the Oracle games with the twin witches Kotake and Koume, collectively known as Twinrova. Here, they guide the villainous Veran on a mission to light legendary flames necessary to revive Ganon. As per usual, they are defeated, ultimately sacrificing themselves in a vain attempt to revive Ganon.

The Gerudo's Relations With The Kingdom Of Hyrule

The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (5)

In every game in which the Gerudo feature, they are somewhat separate from the rest of Hyrule. While all races retain their own cities and a degree of autonomy, they still exist within sociable degree of each other.

The Gerudo, however, are typically cut off by harsh deserts and deep valleys, allowing them to be culturally distinct but also have a more distant relationship with the Kingdom of Hyrule.

In their first appearance in Ocarina of Time, the Gerudo are the newest people to join the Kingdom of Hyrule, with their King Ganondorf agreeing to peace only after witnessing a chance to usurp further power through subterfuge.

Though his plan initially succeeds, he is eventually defeated by Link and Zelda. As their King, despite plenty of internal strife, the Gerudo people face the repercussions of his actions.

In later games, such as Four Swords Adventures, we see the Gerudo exiled from Hyrule as punishment for Ganondorf. In this instance, they settle in a far-off desert and attempt to foster greater relations with the people around them, forgoing their previous ethos of isolation. Even here another Ganondorf is born and attempts to ruin their new peace, though the Gerudo deal with this incarnation themselves.

We do not see the Gerudo again until Breath of the Wild, where they are again living in isolation, though are much friendlier to outsiders than in previous entries. However, the vast absence of the Gerudo people may further hint at their strained relationship with the Kingdom of Hyrule which hasn't mended until the times of Breath of the Wild.

Various Gerudo appear in other games, such as Ganondorf and Twinrova, though the Gerudo as a people have no mainline appearance between Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild.

In the past depicted in Tears of the Kingdom, we see Ganondorf again as the King of the Gerudo people, putting up a fight against joining the newly founded Kingdom of Hyrule. Though his people are on his side initially, after seizing the Secret Stone of Queen Sonia of Hyrule, they rally against him as well.

In sharp contrast to the actions of the Kingdom of Hyrule after Ocarina of Time, the Gerudo people remain a core people of Hyrule following Ganondorf's imprisonment, though retain their isolationism. Presumably, this is a form of atonement for the past actions their people have brought upon Hyrule.

The Relevance Of Ganondorf To The Gerudo

The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (6)

Notable in almost every appearance of the Gerudo people is Ganondorf, the core antagonist of the entire series. Though Ganon and Ganondorf are distinct entities, the latter is the human form of the prior, and is always born of the Gerudo people.

As is further revealed in Tears of the Kingdom, Calamity Ganon is the malfeasance of Ganondorf's power leaking to the surface over millennia, taking on a demonic form.

As the prophecy goes, a single male will be born to the Gerudo every 100 years and shall rule as their king.

To this end, we have seen Ganondorf rise to his position of power multiple times, though the Gerudo have denounced him each and every time. In Breath of the Wild especially we see him being actively despised, their chiefs working tirelessly to spot signs of his rebirth.

In two games we have seen Ganondorf ruling as the king of the Gerudo people. In Ocarina of Time, we see Ganondorf swear false allegiance to the King of Hyrule to foster closer relations so he can steal the Triforce and control the kingdom for himself. His people rebel against him, though it was a difficult task with his Triforce of Power.

In Tears of the Kingdom, we see a similar tale. Ganondorf battles against the newly founded Kingdom of Hyrule, confident he can keep the Gerudo people independent. Upon witnessing the Secret Stones, however, he acquiesces in an effort to obtain them.

The consequences of Ganondorf's rule are multiple for the Gerudo people, as his rule is also what lead to their exile from the Lands of Hyrule following the events of Ocarina of Time. And as we see in Breath of the Wild, part of their isolation is almost in part due to the historical rampage unleashed by Ganondorf. To make matters worse, many of Hyrule's greatest tragedies are brought about by him directly, or by those seeking to revive him.

The Unique Culture And Language Of The Gerudo

The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (7)

As a result of the self-imposed isolation, the Gerudo have developed dramatically differently from the other people of Hyrule. While all races are distinct, they typically have many shared factors as well. For the Gerudo, there are almost none.

For one, they have their own language and script, first detailed in Ocarina of Time and further described in Breath of the Wild. Also as a result of their prophecy of a single male king, they shun all outsiders, though men especially.

In Ocarina of Time, a special pass is required to travel through Gerudo Valley, and Link must dress in Gerudo women's clothing to enter Gerudo Town in Breath of the Wild, despite his otherwise renowned status.

Perhaps most distinctly, and shown most prominently in Breath of the Wild, are the differing religious beliefs. While most of Hyrule practices faith in the Goddess Hylia, the Gerudo do so very rarely, with a single statue of the Goddess hidden away in Gerudo Town.

Instead, they profess belief in the Seven Heroines, depicted in giant statues within the vast desert they call home. In Tears of the Kingdom, these Heroines are expanded, with stelae depicting their elements and even that of an Eight Heroine. Particularly of note is how one Heroine is depicted with an icon very similar to a Secret Stone, perhaps alluding to the Gerudo Sage of Lightning.

NEXT: How Many Zelda Games Are There?

The Legend Of Zelda: A Complete History Of The Gerudo (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Corie Satterfield

Last Updated:

Views: 6600

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (62 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Corie Satterfield

Birthday: 1992-08-19

Address: 850 Benjamin Bridge, Dickinsonchester, CO 68572-0542

Phone: +26813599986666

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Table tennis, Soapmaking, Flower arranging, amateur radio, Rock climbing, scrapbook, Horseback riding

Introduction: My name is Corie Satterfield, I am a fancy, perfect, spotless, quaint, fantastic, funny, lucky person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.