Of all of the villains in the history of The Legend of Zelda, those that aren't named Ganon or Ganondorf tend to get overlooked. Zant may be the biggest example of this, as he seems to be the primary villain of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the first half of the game. There is a lot going on behind this leader of the Twilight and why he actually made a deal with Ganondorf in the first place.
Story behind Zant from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
In basic form, Zant is a Twili from a foreign realm in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princes. Zant lived in the Twilight Realm along with Midna, before she became an Imp. Both of them were potential candidates to be the new monarch of the Twili, but they feared Zant's lust for power. Therefore, they gave Midna the throne, a decision that would lead to everything that happens in the game.
Having lost the throne, Zant was livid. He was desperate for power, willing to steal the throne from Midna by whatever means necessary. It is at this point where he meets Ganondorf, who reveals himself in a fiery shroud to protect his identity.
As for why Ganondorf is in the Twilight Realm in the first place. Ganondorf was placed there by the Seven Sages of legend. High atop the Arbiter Grounds, the sages held a ceremony where Ganondorf kills the Water Sage out of spite. Afterwards, he is sent to the Twilight Realm, but he naturally still has designs on dominion over Hyrule.
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This is why, while trapped in the Twilight Realm, Ganondorf makes a deal to give Zant power over the Twili in return for helping him take over Hyrule. After this deal is made, Zant curses Midna, changing her into the Imp form which she is seen in throughout the game. Zant also gets a new helmet to signal his position, and he turns all of the Twili into Shadow Beasts subservient to himself.
After taking over Hyrule, Zant basically rules over the Twilight Realm until Link and Midna make their attempt to stop him. Before the end of the game, Zant has one of the most mysterious redemptions of any character in Zelda ever.
The game ends with Link battling Ganondorf over the future of Hyrule. As Ganondorf accepts his defeat, though, Zant appears again. Zant then tilts his head which seems to telepathically force Ganondorf to break his own neck.
After getting his revenge on Ganondorf, Zant presumably returns to the Twilight Realm. He can theoretically come back in a future game, though, whether that be Tears of the Kingdom or beyond.
Want more The Legend of Zelda lore guides? Pro Game Guides has you covered with Is Zelda dead in Zelda Tears of the Kingdom?.
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Who is Zant? – Legend of Zelda History