The Legend of Zelda's 5 Scariest Moments, Ranked

This year marks the 35th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda franchise, with Nintendo's epic fantasy franchise thrilling gamers across virtually every major console in the company's history as players defend Hyrule and other vast kingdoms from the forces of darkness. While The Legend of Zelda has always been a family-friendly video game series, it is not without its terrifying moments, and some nightmarish sequences have stuck with players for years as they experience the greatest horrors Hyrule has to offer firsthand.

Here are all the scariest moments across The Legend of Zelda franchise, just in time for players looking to revisit the franchise for the 35th anniversary and perhaps experience some Halloween thrills as Link saves the day once again.

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5. Wallmasters

One of the oldest and most terrifying Zelda enemies are the Wallmasters, disembodied hands that patrol dungeons and forcibly teleport Link back to the dungeon's entrance if they manage to take hold of him. Introduced in the original Legend of Zelda on the NES, the Wallmasters would continue to menace Link through virtually every subsequent installment of the franchise.

When The Legend of Zelda made the leap to 3D gameplay with 1998's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64, the Wallmasters were reimagined as a much more horrific creature, swooping from the ceiling to seize Link, with an eye on their severed stump to peer around. Ocarina of Time's Wallmasters are perhaps the scariest the creatures have ever been, debuting in the Forest Temple shortly after Link awakens seven years in the future, with later appearances making the monsters invisible, exposed only by the Lens of Truth.

4. Yeta's Transformation

As a game that has Hyrule and its denizens divided between the normal and Twilight Realms, 2006's The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the GameCube and Wii is one the darker installments in the franchise and the first game in the series to receive a T-rating. The game involved Link and his new companion Midna traveling between the two Realms to recover shards of the Twilight Mirror to save Hyrule.

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One of Twilight Princess' dungeons had Link explore a giant mansion, Snowpeak Ruins, within Hyrule's wintry, northern mountains. Link found two yetis, aptly named Yeta and Yeto inside, with Yeta escorting Link to a mirror shard but gazing into it too long before transforming into a monstrous, fanged version of herself and shrieking at Link, in one of the franchise's most effective jump scares.

3. Ikana Valley's Music Box House

Ocarina of Time's direct sequel on the N64, 2000's Majora's Mask, is a sadder, stranger installment in The Legend of Zelda franchise. This perhaps at its most apparent when Link enters the desert region of Ikana Canyon, complete with an expansive cemetery, a long-dead kingdom and an abandoned town in the middle of the valley, with the Music Box House prominently nestled by the town's dried-up well.

While the Music Box House is normally locked by its inhabitants, Link can access it if he lures the little girl outside, finding her father in the house's cellar transforming into an undead Gibdo. The jump scare sets the tone for Link ahead of the hero venturing into the town's monster-infested well and the ruins of Ikana Kingdom as he realizes just how haunted this corner of the kingdom of Termina truly is.

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2. The Origins of the Twilight Realm

In Twilight Princess, after cleansing the Lanaryu Province of the Twilight Realm's corrosive influence, Link receives a vision that reveals the origins of the Twilight Realm and those that live inside of it. As the vision continues, it goes from a seemingly innocuous look at the alternate realm to taking a nightmarish twist.

Link encounters doppelgangers of himself and his childhood friend Ilia, with the doubles containing blank eyes and twisted smiles as they advance on Link with daggers and a sinister laugh. While the vision is just a quick glimpse into the dark nature of the Twilight Realm, it provides the franchise with one of its most surreal, scary sequences to date.

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1. Dead Hands

Ocarina of Time has perhaps the biggest source of nightmare fuel in The Legend of Zelda franchise ever with the fearsome Dead Hand, a sub-boss that Link encounters as both a child and adult over the course of the game. With one lurking at the bottom of Kakariko Village's well and another inside of the nearby Shadow Temple, Link must face off against the twisted monster in a confined room filled with its undead hands that tightly grasp Link if he gets close.

The Dead Hand is terrifying in that Link can only watch as it bursts from the ground to methodically work its way towards him before unhinging its jaw while bending over to take a bite. It's truly one of the scariest experiences Zelda has to offer, and one of the only ways to get the Dead Hand to reveal its true form to fight it -- likely traumatizing an entire generation of gamers.

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Sam Stone is a 10th level pop culture guru living just outside of Washington, DC who knows an unreasonable amount about The Beatles. You can follow him on Twitter @samstoneshow and ask him about Nintendo, pop punk, and Star Trek.

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