The Legend of Zelda series is remarkably dark and downright creepy at times, especially for a series billed as for all ages. Sometimes, Zelda provokes a creeping feeling of unease, while at others it just outright creates nightmares. Though a surprising number of creepy Zelda scenes and scenarios exist out there, we’ve whittled them down to the best of the best. So turn the lights out, grab your blankie, and get ready for the seven creepiest moments in the Zelda series.
Wind Waker’s ReDeads
Any scene with ReDeads is a candidate for the creepiest Zelda moments. They scream really loudly, try to kill you, and sometimes get a bit too close on Wednesdays. Ocarina of Time likens ReDeads to zombies of some kind, corpses in the Shadow Temple, gravewalkers, and Ganon’s victims in Hyrule Castle Town. Wind Waker‘s ReDeads carry on with this theme, only they make it even worse. Its ReDeads lurk in the Earth Temple’s darkness, in catacombs full of coffins, just waiting for their next tasty snack. And they look a heck of a lot scarier in Wind Waker than ever before.
OoT’s ReDeads wear masks to cover their faces and just look anonymous, which, yeah, is kinda creepy. Wind Waker’s ReDeads look straight at you, though, with deformed faces and penetrating eyes full of malice and hatred. What’s more, these twisted creatures apparently used to be human. Some Majora’s Mask lore says these were once a troupe of performers serving the royal family. That likely explains why they dance if the Hero of Winds is wearing certain masks. But if anything, it just makes ReDeads even creepier — dancing one second, shuffling towards you with hungry, murderous intent the next.
Oracle of Ages: Nayru and Ambi
You might think older hardware can’t do creepy very well — and you’d be quite wrong. The Oracle games are fairly cheerful overall. But Oracle of Ages gets pretty dark for its time and conveys a definite sense of unease with its simple color and sound swaps, especially where Nayru and Queen Ambi are involved.
Old Labrynna’s soundtrack sounds slow and decaying, and everything’s washed out. You know things are going wrong and something must be done, but you’re always one step behind. The person at the center of this is Queen Ambi. The formerly gentle and kind queen has turned harsh and obsessive, determined to complete her tower at all costs — except it isn’t really hers. Nayru, possessed by Veran, is twisting the good Queen Ambi with her malice, encouraging Ambi down her dark path towards the world’s ruination and taking advantage of a bereaved soul.
And Veran gets away with it too. Apparently, the people of Labrynna don’t understand having creepy pale blue skin and laughing in a villainous way are signs of trouble, but we just chalk that up to the dangers of living in a video game.
Twilight Prison and Hyrule Castle
We’ve seen Hyrule Castle in many forms over the years. However, the first time we were really able to explore the castle interior since A Link to the Past was in Twilight Princess, and the castle is definitely looking its creepy best.
In fact, Twilight Princess’ Hyrule Castle is arguably more of a hellscape than the Blighted form in Breath of the Wild. It’s been pulled into the Twilight Realm, so everything’s ethereal and illusory. Signs of a battle still exist, though, and you know people have died there. Adding to the sense of shock and detachment is Link stuck in wolf form. In short, everything is wrong, which is a key ingredient for making the best creepy scenes.
And on top of all that, it’s the first time you really get to grips with the bizarre Twilight creatures as they roam the battlements and the skies. The flying ones are the worst of the bunch. They’re faceless and take the form of a decapitated bird (eww). Plus, they emit one of the eeriest sounds. If headless birds chasing you in an alternate reality full of dead people doesn’t count as one of the creepiest Zelda moments, you’re certainly made of stronger stuff than we are.
Ocarina of Time’s Dead Hand
Ocarina of Time has a lot of creepy moments, but by far the creepiest — possibly even the creepiest Zelda moment full stop — is the fight against Dead Hand. It’s an eerie, disturbing boss capping off an eerie, disturbing jaunt through creepy dungeons that may or may not have hosted torture and murder sessions, depending on how you interpret those bloodstains. Dead Hand’s color palette, freaky mouth, and manner of moves and attacks are just straight-up nightmare fuel.
On top of the boss itself, there’s everything Dead Hand represents as well. Its world is full of the undead, not too far beneath the surface of Hyrule. What happened here, and why does no one ever talk about it? It existed before Ganondorf’s plan succeeded, so there’s obviously more than one hidden darkness in Hyrule. It lived long before, and it will live long after, waiting for fresh victims to sustain its hideous hunger.
Or something like that.
Happy Mask Salesman
Majora’s Mask’s Happy Mask Salesman is another good example of creepy made creepier with context. The mask man himself is unsettling, with his wringing hands, insincere smile, and lightning-fast change in temperament. He’s the kind of person you’d try to stay a few steps away from if you met him on the streets somewhere. You certainly wouldn’t want to meet him on your own in a dark alley — or a dark sewer. But you do meet him. Worst of all, you’re entirely on your own and defenseless when it happens.
Well, that’s not technically true. The actual worst part is the Happy Mask Man was apparently down there already. Waiting. Just for you.
How could it not be one of the creepiest Zelda moments? It’s top-drawer freaky stuff. Then there’s his somehow knowing you’ve changed form and essentially threatening you when he demands you find his mask. It isn’t even as if poor Link is in a position to say “no” at the time. Call us crazy, but somehow, we think it’s a bad idea to do favors for creepy men who hide in sewers, then shake you and scream at you until you say yes.
Donning a mask in Majora’s Mask
The Nintendo 64 Zelda titles just do creepy really well, as their frequent mention in this list probably indicate. Majora’s Mask is a much darker tale than its predecessor in general, focusing on death, destruction, and the helplessness of being caught in a fate beyond one’s control. Link takes on the persona of different characters at key points and sometimes learns about their dark, sad lives. According to Nintendo, he experiences all this a lot more closely than we first thought too.
When Link dons a mask, the world goes dark and he screams. Why? Because he’s experiencing all that spirit’s sorrow and anguish as if it were his own. Basically, Link’s not only communing with the dead, but he’s taking on all their misfortune, regrets, and lingering negativity. It’s a slightly disturbing exercise in walking in someone else’s shoes, and it’s no wonder Link screams. We’d probably scream too, and we definitely won’t look at donning someone else’s mask in Majora the same way again.
The Twili origin story
Twilight Princess was intentionally designed as a darker game, and there’s no doubt Eiji Aonuma and his team succeeded in their task. One of the absolute creepiest Zelda moments is the Twilight Princess version of the Triforce’s creation. It’s the Twili people’s creation story and also pretty much “tale of the Gerudo 2.0.” Ocarina of Time’s backstory scene has bright colors and powerful goddesses. Twilight Princess‘s has friends murdering each other and bodies falling from the sky — y’know, totally normal stuff.
It’s not just creepy and gruesome for the sake of it, though. The story focuses on the Twili, but Link and his friends are shown for a reason. The idea is this can happen to any of us. Even good people (like Queen Ambi, for example) can let their dark sides take control under the wrong circumstances. That’s especially true where power and status are involved. It’s dark material indeed, especially since most of us don’t really like contemplating the idea of our dark sides waking up and betraying those we love.
We’ve only just scratched the surface of creepiest Zelda moments. There are certainly plenty of other disturbing and unsettling scenes lurking underneath the series’s characteristic charm. What are some of your favorite creepy Zelda moments? Let us know in the comments!