The Legend Of Zelda: 10 Scariest Dungeons In The Series, Ranked

Fans are excited to see what The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has in store for its May 12, 2023 release, including its new dungeons to explore and defeat. Since the beginning, dungeons have been an important part of The Legend of Zelda franchise. They provide a new challenge for Link as well as tell their own history.

Usually, dungeons are fun or epic in scale, but Nintendo has always gone the extra mile by delivering a dungeon that is more akin to something out of a horror movie. From undead enemies to the souls of the dead manifesting as demonic monsters, these dungeons have haunted the players since they first played the games.


10/10 The Fire Temple

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (1998)

Link encountering Sheik in the Fire Temple In The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

The Fire Temple dungeon is filled with a red mist from the lava that's always beneath Link's feet and enemies such as Like-Likes, Flying Tiles, and flaming skulls that fly add a creep factor to the location. The Fire Temple is also a large maze that gives a sense of claustrophobia as well as the feeling that Link could be burned alive at any moment.

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What really delivers on the creepiness, however, is the music that is slow and ominous. It gives the idea that something is going to pop around the corner and scare the player. It gets even scarier when some copies of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time have an alternative track that features a terrifying chanting.

9/10 Ghost Ship

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)

Split image of Link fighting ghosts aboard the Ghost Ship in The Legend Of Zelda Wind Waker

Considering its more cartoony cel-shaded art style, the now-beloved The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker should be the last thing to scare any player. However, Nintendo managed to still bring the nightmare fuel with a mini-dungeon floating upon the Great Sea: a ship haunted by the spirits of its last living voyage.

The Ghost Ship effectively emulates the old stories that sailors would spin ages ago that would influence stories such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Upon entering the ship, there is fog on the ground filled with souls, there are skeletons roaming it, and everything is eerie in design.

8/10 The Shadow Temple

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (1998)

Link entering the Shadow Temple in The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

This cursed location is filled with a surprisingly dark history featuring the Sheikah guard of Hyrule. This led to it becoming the Shadow Temple, a place filled with invisible threats, dark monsters, skeletal warriors, an aesthetic that even Clive Barker would be impressed by, and plenty of other things that go bump in the night.

With The Shadow Temple, Nintendo became a little obsessed (in a good way) with introducing a new type of threat every few minutes. Hazards that can only be seen with the Lens Of Truth, Floormasters that drop from the ceiling, and using Hover Boots to traverse perilous areas.

7/10 Snowpeak Manor

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)

Snowpeak Manor from The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess

These mysterious ruins atop the snowy mountains in Twilight Princess are an example of using the environment to tell or at least hint at a history. Snowpeak Manor is a large luxurious mansion, yet it is inhabited by yetis even though the pictures on the walls show humans of high class or even royalty.

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The lack of a clear explanation combined with the dark winterly visuals gives an eerie vibe as well as a strange feeling of isolation. This dungeon is made even scarier when the kind yeti named Yeta is possessed by the Mirror Shard and turned into one of the game's most terrifying enemies.

6/10 The Forest Temple

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

The four Poes separating inside the Forest Temple of The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time

The concept of a Forest Temple would immediately give someone the assumption of a serene location with plenty of majestic creatures. Instead, Ocarina of Time diverts from expectations and makes the Forest Temple into a haven for ghosts, giant spiders, and skeleton warriors.

Very fittingly, haunting is the best way to describe the Forest Temple. The Poes that guard the dungeon and act as a miniboss for Link to fight provides a classic haunted house experience, especially with the overgrown look of the temple. The final boss against Phantom Ganon adds more to the fear factor due to him coming out of any painting to attack.

5/10 Arbiter's Grounds

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)

Big Poe introduction in The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess

Similar to the Forest Temple, the Arbiter's Grounds from Twilight Princess also take advantage of roaming spirits that haunt the location. However, instead of having a cartoonish design for the ghosts, the Poes in Twilight Princess are some of the Legend of Zelda's most terrifying enemies.

On its own, Arbiter's Grounds doesn't seem that bad: a barren desert location. A little ominous but nothing scary until Link turns into his Wolf form and sees the hidden twilight version of the grounds where all of its twisted and pitch black atmosphere comes out. Even the final boss which is a kaiju-sized skeleton adds to the scariness.

4/10 Ancient Cistern

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (2011)

Koloktos boss fight in The Legend Of Zelda Skyward Sword HD

Nintendo really deceives the player with this dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword by first introducing it as this glamorous and golden dungeon that is as beautiful as it is fun to explore. That all changes once Link is sent to the lower level and the player learns that this dungeon plays with the theme of opposites.

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The upper level is the yin and the lower is the yang: the lower level is filled with poisoned waters, undead bokoblins, and the entire temple is being held together by a skeleton. Koloktos, the Ancient Cistern's boss is the perfect example of light and dark; its outer shell is shimmering gold armor while its insides are a dark blob-like creature that lets out a creepy child's laugh when it dies.

3/10 Ikana Castle

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (2000)

The King of Ikana Valley inside Ikana Castle in The Legend Of Zelda Majora's Mask

In general, all of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask is either creepy, depressing, or both. Ikana Castle is a perfect example of both with the entire dungeon being filled with a plethora of undead enemies that are all cursed to serve their skeletal King, unable to move on.

Every second of Ikana Castle has a foreboding atmosphere from the visuals to the music and that carries into all of Ikana Valley as well. Even the King and his advisors are unnerving due to their skeletons looking anything but human in design with so much expression and glowing eyes.

2/10 Thyphlo Ruins

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)

Link fighting Hinox in the shadows of Thyphlo Ruins in The Legend Of Zelda Breath Of The Wild

What makes this dungeon so refreshing yet terrifying to even take a single step forward in is the lighting. In most games, there is always a perfect amount of ambient light to allow the player to see but not with the Thyphlo Ruins in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Everything is pitch black and requires a torch to navigate through the maze-like ruins.

Enemies can appear out of nowhere and one of them happens to be one of the all-too traumatizing Guardians that have haunted players since Breath Of The Wild was released in 2017. Trying to solve puzzles and complete the dungeon with the constant threat of something coming out of the shadows is a simple but effective method of keeping the player scared. Though Hinox is not one of the hardest enemies to fight in Breath of the Wild, it is still a challenge due to the darkness.

1/10 Bottom Of The Well

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (1998)

Dead Hand attacking Link in the Bottom Of The Well in Ocarina Of Time

Where most dungeons force Link to be in his young adult form to play through, the Bottom of the Well forces the player to control the child version with less weaponry at his disposal. As a result, many of the elements that make the Shadow Temple so terrifying are amplified here.

The Bottom Of The Well also introduces the scariest enemy in not only Ocarina of Time but in the whole The Legend of Zelda franchise. The Dead Hand is this demonic creature with a long neck and series of hands that traumatized many longtime Zelda fans. The music, the atmosphere, and the rest of the enemies are all great additions to a chilling dungeon.