Black dog ghosts in popular culture

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The British legend of the ghostly black dog has appeared many times in popular culture.

General references[edit]

  • One of the most famous black dogs in fiction is the Hound of the Baskervilles from the book of the same name by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the book, the villain uses the long-standing legend of a ghostly dog that haunts the Baskerville family in his plan to murder them.
  • In Russell Hoban's novel Riddley Walker (1980), Riddley's post-apocalyptic quest is initiated by a dog sacrifice and a folktale, "Why the Dog Won't Show its Eyes." Death dogs are important in the "Eusa" story that guides Riddley's quest, as is a companion black dog later in the quest.
  • In Welcome To The Jungle The First Dresden Files graphic novel, a Black Dog in summoned to hunt down and kill Harry.
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling, Harry comes across what he believes is a Grim. He is told that it is a powerful omen of death. Actually it is his god-father, Sirius Black, whose nickname is "Padfoot", and whose Animagus form is the huge black dog seen by Harry.
  • In the Patrick Swayze trucker movie Black Dog, the legend is updated for the motorized 20th century as a beast that is seen "when you've been on the road too long and pushing too hard. When you get greedy, it comes to take everything away from you."
  • In Goethe's Faust, the Devil Mephistopheles first appears to Faust in the form of a black poodle which follows him home through a field.
  • In Supernatural episode 2 "Wendigo" they mention the possibility of a black dog being the creature that is killing campers. The two later encounter hellhounds which appear as black dogs to those they hunt, but remain invisible to all others.
  • The Moddey Dhoo is one of the many psychopomp "guides" to appear in the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court.
  • In Black Dogs by novelist Ian McEwan, a character encounters two black dogs that she believes to be evil incarnate.
  • Dracula transforms into a black dog to leap from the boat to land when he arrives in Whitby.
  • In the movie No Country for Old Men the main character, Llewelyn Moss, comes across a stray black dog immediately before running into a botched heroin deal.
  • In the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson one of the pirates is called Black Dog. He is the first to threaten and harass Billy Bones. As soon as the unwelcome visitor is gone, Bones suffers a stroke. Also Jim Hawkins' father dies shortly after Black Dog's visit.
  • In the movie The Omen, the Antichrist is guarded and protected by black dogs.
  • The video game Devil May Cry has an enemy similar to black dogs, they are called Shadows.
  • In Susan Krinard's 'Lady Olivia Dowling' mystery series one of the main protagonists is a 'were'-Black Dog (Kit/Old Schuck).
  • In Eva Ibbotson's 1975 children's book The Great Ghost Rescue the main character, Humphrey the Horrible, rescues a neglected, stray Black Shuck.
  • It's possible that the werewolves of An American Werewolf in London were based the stories of Black Dogs, because both monsters were portrayed as four-legged beasts and were in the description of "rabid dog" and "some sort of mad dog".
  • In Alan Moore's 1996 novel Voice of the Fire, characters throughout Northampton, England's history encounter black dogs (in one case, identified as a "shagfoal").

Barghest[edit]

Literature[edit]

In the novel by Bram Stoker, when arriving at Whitby aboard the ship Demeter, Dracula takes the form of a big and ferocious dark dog. The barghest is part of Whitby folklore, and may well have been Stoker's inspiration.

Also inspired by this legend, the barghest also appears in the children's book The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis.

The barghest is depicted as a shapeshifting beast in Sojourn, written by R.A. Salvatore. Most of R.A. Salvatore's literary inspiration comes from the pen and paper RPG Dungeons and Dragons.

In Roald Dahl's The Witches, it is mentioned as always being male.

Comic book publisher Barghest Entertainment takes its name from the legendary demon-dog.

In the novel Forge of the Mindslayers by Tim Waggoner, a Barghest is described as a lupine beast with blue tinged fur, a 'goblin-ish' face, and human hands. It can shapeshift into a goblin.

In Chapter 63 of Theodore Dreiser's classic novel, An American Tragedy, he references the spectre adjectivally, saying, "And at one point it was that a wier-wier, one of the solitary water-birds of this region, uttered its ouphe and barghest cry, flying from somewhere near into some darker recess within the woods. And at this sound it was that Clyde had stirred nervously and then sat up in the car. It was so very different to any bird-cry he had ever heard anywhere."

Steven Erikson's epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen, features a nomadic warrior people called the Barghast. Any possible relation to the mythological canine, aside from the name, is unclear.

Neil Gaiman's short story, "Black Dog" also uses the legend as its sources material. In this story, the main character from Gaiman's American Gods is visiting a small English village when one of the residents becomes menaced by Black Shuck. This story deals heavily with the concept of black dogs as bad omens and hellhounds.

In Bethan White's novel Downward, the protagonist Chris is accompanied by a black dog that only he is able to see.

Film and TV[edit]

The Barghest is the main villain in the children's TV series Roger and the Rottentrolls, which is set in Troller's Ghyll.

The 1978 made-for-TV movie Devil Dog: Hound of Hell features a barghest named Lucky.

In an episode of the BBC drama series Dalziel and Pascoe, a public house situated on the North York Moors which the episode's plot revolves around is named 'The Barguest', and features a large black dog on its sign.

Role-playing games[edit]

Barghests feature in:

Trading card games[edit]

In the Shadowmoor expansion of Magic: The Gathering, one of the creatures is called Hollowborn Barghest.

Video games[edit]

Barghests, or creatures similar to it, appear in:

Music[edit]

Barghests appear in:

  • The song "Barghest" by Patrick Wolf
  • The song "Barghest vs. Aged.A" by psychedelic rock band of Arrowe Hill
  • The EP "The Barghest of Whitby" by doom metal band My Dying Bride, where one is depicted prominently in the album artwork.[1]

Black Shuck[edit]

  • The Black Dog of Bungay and Black Shuck both appear in “The Kettle Chronicles: The Black Dog”, a novel by Steve Morgan, former vicar of Bungay, set in 1577. According to the children’s book The Runton Werewolf by Ritchie Perry, Black Shuck is a Gronk, a race of friendly shape-shifting aliens, the ancestors of which were accidentally left behind on Earth when one of them suffered from stomach troubles. Hector Plasm: De Mortuis features a one panel picture and reference to Black Shuck. Black Shuck also makes an appearance in Mark Chadbourn’s trilogy The Age of Misrule and is mentioned in Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights.
  • The dog is the leader of a group of mythological characters in the 2000 AD series London Falling. An episode of the children’s documentary series Mystery Hunters investigated the case of Black Shuck.
  • British rock band The Darkness included a song entitled “Black Shuck”, which describes the beast, on their album Permission To Land.
  • Black Shuck also appears in the Supernatural: Origins comics.
  • Black Shuck is the subject of the musical drama "The Storm Hound" by Betty Roe and Marian Lines.[2]
  • A dark hound named Black Shuck serves the champion of the Shadowdancers in the online role-playing game Lusternia.
  • Black Shuck appears as the hobgoblin Puck's pet/companion in the Sneigoski / Golden series, The Menagerie[citation needed].
  • The 1998 film Black Dog, starring Patrick Swayze, has a major plot point involving the Black Dog legend.
  • Black Shuck is a Cerberus-type boss in the Final Fantasy XI assault mission "Better Than One."
  • Within the Harry Potter series, specifically the novel Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry repeatedly sees a large black dog, referred to as the "Grim". According to Sybill Trelawney it represents death incarnate, and she believes Harry is doomed now that he has seen it. It is eventually shown that shapeshifter Sirius Black is the physical black dog that he had been seeing.
  • The "Hellhound" episode of Lost Tapes may have been an allusion to the black shuck. In this incarnation, the character Nora states that if you see the black dog three times, you will die.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.discogs.com/My-Dying-Bride-The-Barghest-O-Whitby/release/3211563
  2. ^ Roe, Betty (1996). The storm-hound : a musical fable for narrator, upper voices, percussion and keyboard / libretto by Marian Lines. London: Thames Publishing, now Music Sales Group.