Will Ganondorf ever return? This might initially seems like an odd question initially. Ganondorf is very visible in representing the game franchise. He is present as one of the Zelda representatives in Super Smash Brothers and likewise is the main villain for Hyrule Warriors games.
So too he is almost always chosen as the fan representation for the Triforce of Power within Zelda fandom. And, of course, the argument will be made that he was even the final boss of two of the last three mainline Zelda games, A Link Between Worlds and hugely lauded Breath of the Wild.
The distinction here is that in both A Link Between Worlds and Breath of the Wild, the character featured was Ganon. While in the overlapping and confusing three timelines of Zelda Ganon is the inevitable evolution of Ganondorf there is a unique distinction in how the two function within the stories of the games they are present within. Ganon is the start of Zelda villainy, a pig demon who serves as the final boss for the game and has appeared in one fashion or another in thirteen of the nineteen Zelda games with only one of these not being a fightable boss (The Adventure of Link).
Beyond the physical difference, the story function of Ganon is usually far more basic. In most of these instances Ganon is simply the largest, most powerful boss that must be confronted at the end of the game. In some instances he is the head of the army of monsters while other times he is simply just the final boss summoned up by someone else to use his power in attempt to kill Link. In both these situations though, Ganon has a tendency to be more mindless starting from the original Legend of Zelda all the way to Breath of the Wild. In many ways, Ganon is the direct equivalent to Bowser in Zelda’s sister franchise Super Mario.
Ganondorf on the the other hand appears as a much different character in the game’s narratives. The King of Thieves began to emerge as Zelda took on more and more narrative structure and moving away from the pure exploration that existed within the first game. Ganondorf Dragmire, the thief who stole the triforce and became the beast Ganon, was first referenced in 1991’s A Link to the Past. Coincidentally A Link to the Past was the first game where story began to take more of a focus. It was not until 1998 though that Ganondorf himself appeared in game when he presented the main threat in Ocarina of Time.
This portrayal was far beyond what had previously existed in terms of intelligence and scheme as Ganondorf deceived the King of Hyrule, and even Link and Zelda, to acquire the three sacred stones, enter the sacred realm and attempt to claim the Triforce for himself.In Ocarina of Time he directly converses with Link and Zelda on throughout the story, mocking, taunting or threatening them in a way he never had before.
Wind Waker brought the character to never before and never since matched heights with a more nuanced and somewhat sympathetic portrayal. It even explored his motives for the actions he takes.
With all this came a change in appearance. No longer was he a blue pig but instead a member of the human-like desert dwellers known as the Gerudo who possess gold eyes, long noses, brown skin and red hair.
While the beast Ganon would still appear in these games he would become merely a transformation, or even a puppet, for the Gerudo. For ten years this would remain the definitive representation of the Zelda villain for all major console release.
Ganondorf however only appeared in three games (Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, and Twilight Princess , and was then mentioned in three others (A Link to the Past, Four Swords Adventures, and Phantom Hourglass). Partially this was done after some backlash to 2008’s Twilight Princess, where the Gerudo came in part way through to take over the spot of the main villain from the Twili Zant. This was a fair criticism and it was well listened to. Ganondorf was absent from all games that followed and even Ganon was nowhere to be found. But the beast form has begun to return.
Ganon came back in A Link Between Worlds to be fused with the main villain Yugo to created the final boss Yuganon.
And finally Breath of the Wild returned the primordial Ganon to the sole center focus. But here, like so many of Ganon’s previous renditions, he was mindless and never talked with Link, Zelda or any other characters nor did Breath of the Wild’s Ganon display the same screaming intelligence Ganondorf is known for.
Ganondorf has certainly had his time away from the spotlight so by now the Gerudo king could make a very effective return. It would prove a bit of a problem timeline wise how he would return as in Twilight Princess he was impaled with the Triforce leaving him and in Wind Waker he was stabbed through the head, turned to stone and then had the sea cover him. But the Zelda series has never been shy of resurrection for Ganondorf’s piggy counterpart so there are certainly options for him.