Tears of the Kingdom Trailer Hints at the Surprising Return of Classic Zelda Villains

Tears of the Kingdom's latest trailer suggests that one of the most important villains in Zelda history could be returning to the franchise.

Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom
Photo: Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom‘s second trailer unsurprisingly stole the show during the latest Nintendo Direct. While a lot of the talk surrounding that trailer so far has focused on Ganon (and what appears to be Ganon’s unexpected voiceover), some Zelda fans are more interested in the returning villains the trailer only hints at.

Before we dive into any of that, please know that (to the best of our knowledge) much of this information is largely speculative at this time. Since we could end up discussing potential spoilers, though, it’s best to turn away now if you’d like to go into Tears of the Kingdom knowing as little as possible. Alternatively, you can also watch the Tears of the Kingdom trailer we’ll be referencing throughout this article.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about some of the classic villains that the trailer either briefly showcases or strongly hints at.

The first is none other than Demise: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword‘s biggest bad. Demise was an ancient evil who is basically the evil equivalent of Legend of Zelda‘s Golden Goddesses. In Skyward Sword (the first Zelda game from a chronological perspective), we watch as Link and Zelda battle Demise and thwart his attempts to secure the Triforce. Demise is defeated and sealed away in the Master Sword by the adventure’s end, but Demise warns Link that he will live on through incarnations of his hatred that shall be reborn for the rest of time.

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That’s actually the first potential problem with the “return of Demise” theory. As Ganondorf/Ganon is widely believed to be the reincarnation that Demise warned Link of, you could argue that Demise has reappeared every time that Ganon has appeared. If you want to dive deeper, you could even argue that all evil is descended from Demise in some way.

That said, Tears of the Kingdom does include a few visual hints at a more substantial role for Demise than what we’ve seen in any other Zelda game aside from Skyward Sword.

The first is the Master Sword itself. Nearly every shot of the Master Sword we’ve seen so far in Tears of the Kingdom (including the one used for the game’s logo) suggests that the sword has somehow been broken and corrupted. As you may have guessed, some theories suggest that the sword’s broken state can be attributed to the spirit of Demise either trying to emerge from it or having already emerged from it. That’s a little loose, but given how prominently the Master Sword has been featured in Tears of the Kingdom‘s promotions, it will certainly seem to play a big part in the game’s story.

Other visual hints of Demise’s return include a hieroglyphic that strongly resembles a scene in Skyward Sword in which Zelda is almost sacrificed to revive Demise. Now, that could just be a tease of Hyrule’s history, but given that Zelda certainly appears to be in a precarious situation at one point in that new trailer, it’s not crazy to add that visual to the ever-growing Demise evidence pile.

Again, this whole conversation becomes significantly more complicated when you consider the nature of the Demise/Ganon relationship, but it really does seem like Tears of the Kingdom will at least reference Demise more overtly than some other Zelda titles have.

The other notable returning villain in Tears of the Kingdom is significantly less speculative. Early into the trailer above, we watch in horror as red comets fall to the ground and eventually produce a small army of masked creatures. Well, one of those creatures certainly seems to be a variation of a ReDead: a zombie-like monster that famously terrified players in Ocarina of Time.

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While ReDeads have appeared in Zelda games since Ocarina of Time, they’re not guaranteed to make an appearance in each new installment. Actually, they were notably absent from Breath of the Wild, though it appears that the cataclysmic event we see in Tears of the Kingdom‘s trailer has brought them back into the world. That also raises additional questions about Tears of the Kingdom‘s (and Breath of the Wild‘s) ambiguous place on the greater Zelda timeline.

Some are also taking the ReDead’s appearance as a sign that Tears of the Kingdom may feature more traditional Zelda dungeons. After all, those creatures have historically lurked in such places. However, given that the ReDead in the Tears of the Kingdom trailer appears to be lingering in the shadows of that red moon, I’d sooner guess that they can exist in the world following whatever event we catch a glimpse of in that trailer. As with all things Tears of the Kingdom, though, we’ll know for sure as we draw closer to the game’s May 12th release date.