The dullahan is a headless rider, usually on a black horse who carries his or her own head under one arm. The head's eyes are small, black, and constantly dart about like flies, while the mouth is constantly in a hideous grin that touches both sides of the head. The flesh of the head is said to have the color and consistency of moldy cheese. The dullahan uses the spine of a human corpse for a whip, and their wagon is adorned with funereal objects (e.g. candles in skulls to light the way, the spokes of the wheels are made from thigh bones, the wagon's covering made from a worm-chewed pall or dried human skin). When the dullahan stops riding, that is where a person is due to die. The dullahan calls out their name, at which point they immediately perish.
There is no way to bar the road against a dullahan—all locks and gates open to them when they approach. They do not appreciate being watched while on their errands, throwing a basin of blood on those who dare to do so (often a mark that they are among the next to die), or even lashing out the watchers' eyes with their whips. They are frightened of gold, and even a single gold pin can drive a dullahan away.
In popular culture
- In the second episode of Lost Girl, titled "Where There's a Will, There's a Fae," a Dullahan mercenary is present.
Anime, light novels, and manga
- In the Durarara!! light novel, manga, and anime, a Dullahan named Celty Sturluson is featured as a main character.
- In the The Devil is a Part-Timer! (Hataraku Maou-sama!) light novel, manga, and anime, Devil King Sadao's mundane bicycle is referred to as "The Dullahan".
- In the Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou manga, a young Dullahan named "Lala" makes unsuccessful threats against the main protagonist of the series, but ends up moving into his house.
- In chapter 54 of Cathedral by Nelson DeMille, the Dullahan is mentioned in the following passages: "You're from the north, and you've heard the caoine-the funeral cry of the peasants. It's meant to imitate the wail of a chorus of banshees." "...We'll I've heard the actual banshees' wail, Father, whistling through the louvers all night..." "...And I've seen the coach-a-bower. Immense it was and black-polished, riding over these rooftops, a red coffin mounted atop it, and a headless Dullahan madly whipping a team of headless horses...and the coach drew past this window, Father, and the coachman threw in my face a basin of cold blood."
- 2 September 2010 in the book Skulduggery Pleasant: Mortal Coil by Derek Landy, a Dullahan appears to take Stephanie to Dr. Nye so she can have him seal her true name.
- The 1959 Disney film Darby O'Gill and the Little People does not mention the Dullahan by name, but portrays it as the headless driver of the Cóiste Bodhar.
- In the 1999 Hallmark movie The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns, a troupe of leprechauns has a brief encounter with a very depressed Dunlang the Dullahan.
- Several Castlevania games feature the Dullahan figure, although as undead rather than faeries:
- 1989 first featured them in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse for the Nintendo Entertainment System as "Headless Hunters", and again under the same name in Super Castlevania IV for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
- They appear in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, this time adopting the name "Dhuron", which was most likely a phonetic mistranslation.[original research?]
- The Dullahan was featured as a "boss" enemy in the Japanese-only PC Engine game Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, as well as the more widely distributed Super Nintendo game it inspired, Castlevania: Dracula X (Castlevania: Vampire's Kiss in Europe), and the Nintendo DS game Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin.
- More recently, the character was featured in Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, Castlevania: The Arcade (only in Japan and Europe), and Pachislot Akumajō Dracula II (only in Japan).
- Beginning with 1990's Final Fantasy III, the Dullahan makes several appearances as an enemy in the Final Fantasy series of games.
- In the 1997 real-time strategy game Seven Kingdoms, one of the monster races is known as the Dullahan. The Dullahan are heavily armored headless creatures.
- First introduced in the February 1999 game Monster Rancher 2, one of the recurring creature types in the Monster Rancher franchise is the Durahan, named using a Romanization of the Japanese pronunciation of the word "dullahan." Although typically appearing as a spectral suit of armour, the flavour text of the creature references the dullahan myths.
- In the December 1999 PlayStation game Strider 2, a Dullahan appears as a Stage Boss.
- In the 2000 Vagrant Story video game, the Dullahan is a boss that the protagonist, Ashley Riot, encounters early on.
- In the 2000 game Valkyrie Profile, the ghost of the decapitated King Barbarossa is fought as a boss, taking the form of a gigantic Dullahan. A variation of this boss is found as a normal enemy later on the game with a different name.
- In the 2001 Golden Sun franchise, Dullahan appears as a powerful boss monster and ally that can be called by the Necromage class.
- In the 2002 game Ragnarok Online, there is a creature named the "Dullahan" that removes its helmet when attacking to reveal that it has no head.
- In the 2006 game Blue Dragon, the Dullahan is a robotic headless centaur who is the mini-boss on the Road to Jibral.
- In the 2006 game Seal Online, the Dullahan is a headless monster; it is generally considered to be weak.
- In the 2007 game Elsword, the first boss in the Feita area is a headless giant called the Durahan Knight, the spelling changed slightly due to language differences.[original research?]
- In the 2013 addition to the Touhou Project series, "Double Dealing Character", the theme music for a yōkai named Sekibanki (who can detach her head at will) is "Dullahan Under The Willows".