The gargoyle is a fantasy and horror monster inspired by the gargoyle architectural element. While they were believed in mythology to frighten away evil spirits, the idea of such statues physically coming to life was a more recent notion. Like golems, they are usually made of magically animated or transformed stone, but have animal or chimera traits, and are often guardians of a place such as a cathedral or castle. They can also be depicted as vessels for demonic possession, or as a living species resembling statues.
The notion of gargoyles as supernatural constructs brought to life by evil was introduced in Maker of Gargoyles (1932) by Clark Ashton Smith, where Reynard, a medieval stonemason, unconsciously infuses his hate and lust into two gargoyles that attack the town of Vyones and later kill him when he attempts to destroy them. In the novelette Conjure Wife (1943) by Fritz Lieber, a dragon sculpture is animated by a witch and sent to kill an archaeology professor.
The notion of gargoyles as demonic vessels was introduced in The Horn of Vapula (1932), where a demon familiar is bound into a horned and goatlike gargoyle. Gargoyles appear as horned canine statues in Ghostbusters (1984), where they are possessed by the demonic spirits of Zuul and Vinz Klortho. Gargoyles also appear as vessels for formerly human souls, such as the Marvel Comics hero Gargoyle, who later becomes able to transform back into a human.
The movie Gargoyles (1972) was the first to present gargoyles as a fictional race as opposed to solitary creatures, depicting them as being created by Satan to harry mankind. A species of Gargoyles also exists in Dungeons & Dragons. Movies featuring races of gargoyle-like creatures include Gargoyle (2004) and Rise of the Gargoyles (2009), where the creatures can lay eggs and turn into statues to blend in.
The notion of a friendly gargoyle was created by the Disney show Gargoyles (1994–1997), in which gargoyles battle monsters to protect humanity. It originates from the folk belief of gargoyles as protectors. Friendly gargoyles also appear in the Discworld universe, such as Constable Downspout in Feet of Clay (1996), and in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), as Hugo, Victor and Laverne, who embody Quasimodo's subconscious.
In popular culture
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