One of the core pillars that the Legend of Zelda franchise is known for is its impressive boss battles. Every entry shakes things up with a new cast of powerful and unique bosses to take down at the end of a dungeon. While there are a few that have shown up across multiple entries — we’re looking at you Ganon — even when they’re repeated, fighting them is never the same experience.
The best bosses are ones that test the player to think critically, almost like solving a puzzle, offer a new way to play, are massive spectacles, or all three at once. With dozens of fantastic bosses across all of Link’s adventures, narrowing down the best ones was a tough fight on its own, but we’ve survived and can now present our list of the best Legend of Zelda bosses of all time.
Twinrova (Ocarina of Time)
We’re kicking this list off with an often-overlooked boss that is arguably the best in a game packed with memorable bosses. While this isn’t the only Ocarina of Time boss we’ll feature, it is our favorite. Twinrova is the boss of the Spirit Temple and is an absolutely perfect example of how a boss should work in Zelda. Initially, you’re facing off against two witches — one wielding fire and the other ice. Using the mirror shield, which you’ve been practicing with the entire dungeon, you need to reflect the beam one shoots at you to hit the other as they fly around the arena. Phase two has them merge, and now you need to absorb three blasts of the same element to shoot back without resetting your charge by absorbing the opposite element. Everything makes sense, is fun to figure out, and is completely unique.
Goht (Majora’s Mask)
There really are only five bosses in this game, and while they each offer something new, it’s Goht that got our adrenaline pumping the most. As the boss of Snowhead Temple, this beast is basically a chariot race battle. You must use your Goron form to roll after it around the circular arena, dodging lighting and falling stalactites, until you build up enough speed to create spikes on your exterior you can use to ram into Goht to damage it. It’s high-speed, high-octane fun in a way that no other boss in the series had created. It’s simple, but so effective and memorable.
Dark Link (Ocarina of Time)
What could be a more terrifying opponent than an evil version of yourself? Dark Link first sent chills down our spines in Zelda 2, but his surprise and unsettling appearance in Ocarina of Time’s Water Temple is what everyone remembers. Able to mimic all your moves, and even jump and land on your sword for a counter, Dark Link feels nearly impossible if you go in swinging. You will need to bring out your other tools and items to outsmart and outplay this formidable foe.
Helmasaur King (A Link to the Past)
2D boss fights are hard to make memorable outside of strong visual design due to the more limited nature of the perspective. That said, we had to pay some credit to Link’s 2D roots, and Helmasaur King stands as one of the best examples of those classic bosses. What makes this boss fun is that you need to use multiple tools to overcome it. You are unable to damage it until you use either bombs or the hammer to destroy its mask, at which point you can switch to more conventional means to finish it off.
Koloktos (Skyward Sword)
Many were skeptical about motion controls in a Legend of Zelda game, but Koloktos proved the system offered a lot of depth for the series. This six-armed robot thing must be dismantled arm by arm with your whip to expose its core. This is one of the first times we actually felt like it was our own ability, not just using the right item, that won the battle which is an amazing feeling to get out of a boss.
Stallord (Twilight Princess)
Honestly, the Spinner item felt like a gimmick item we’d use for the dungeon and never think about again in Twilight Princess. The way it is used in the Stallord fight made it unforgettable. Somewhat like Goht, you need to ride the Spinner, changing tracks on the wall to dodge and move in to attack this massive skeleton. The final phase of using the Spinner to ride up the central pillar is one of the most exciting set pieces in the series.
Gohma was the first boss we faced in a 3D Legend of Zelda game but made a return as the first boss in Wind Waker. Being the first fight, it isn’t meant to be all that challenging but is above anything else fun. The process of beating this firebreathing spider isn’t too hard, you just need to use your hookshot on Valoo to open Gohma up to sword attacks, but it all just feels satisfying to do. And who doesn’t want to squash a giant spider?
Vaati (Minish Cap)
How could we not sneak in another 2D title, especially with Minish Cap being the last traditional 2D entry in the series? What makes it so unique is the villain Vaati, without a single hint or mention of the usual big bad Ganon. As far as his boss battle goes, it’s a perfect final test to prove you’ve mastered the game. You will need to use every ability you’ve learned and acquired to win, such as splitting into four and shrinking down. It is the fantastic culmination of the game’s progression to cap off in one epic final boss.
King Bulbin (Twilight Princess)
Epona has been Link’s trusty companion through many adventures, but it wasn’t until King Bulbin’s battle she could actually lend a hand (or hoof) in a boss battle. It feels like something that should’ve happened much earlier, and yet we’re almost glad it didn’t because of how well it works here. The first phase is a hectic mounted pursuit while fending off other riders, but things get really intense when you get to the bridge. The fight is over in just two successful hits, but in such a narrow arena, the tension is at an all-time high as you both ride at one another.
Monk Maz Koshia (Breath of the Wild)
For everything amazing that Breath of the Wild does, bosses weren’t the highlight. It took the DLC to add in a special one, and it nailed it. This fight comes at the end of the long quest line and feels as epic as a true final boss. Koshia is fast, teleports, and changes up their attacks an insane four times during the fight. This is a gauntlet of a fight and test of skill that feels worthy of coming after beating the main game.