Gargoyle (monster)

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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.[1] They can also be depicted as vessels for demonic possession, or as a living species resembling statues.[2]



Ancient Scottish mythology and people rated Gargoyles as protector divinities who protected human beings from evil spirits and evil men. The concept of Gargoyles with negative tendencies was introduced in 1932, thousands of years later.

Evil constructs[edit]

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.[2] In the novelette Conjure Wife (1943) by Fritz Lieber, a dragon sculpture is animated by a witch and sent to kill an archaeology professor.[2]

Such gargoyles also entered science fiction, such as in the Doctor Who episode The Daemons (1971).[2]

Demonic vessels[edit]

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.[2] Gargoyles appear as horned canine statues in Ghostbusters (1984), where they are possessed by the demonic spirits of Zuul and Vinz Klortho.[2] Gargoyles also appear as vessels for formerly human souls, such as the Marvel Comics hero Gargoyle, who later is able to transform back into a human.[2]

Fictional races[edit]

The 1908 children's book Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz featured a Land of the Gargoyles, wooden creatures with hinged wings. The movie Gargoyles (1972) depicted a fictional race created by Satan to harry mankind.[3] A species of Gargoyles also exists in Dungeons & Dragons.[4] 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.[2]

Friendly gargoyles[edit]

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.[2] 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.[2]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Kythera of Anevern (2009). Dragons & Fantasy: Unleash Your Creative Beast as You Conjure Up Dragons, Fairies, Ogres, and Other Fantastic Creatures. Drawing Made Easy. Irvine, CA: Walter Foster Publishing. p. 24. ISBN 978-1-60058-068-0. OCLC 424457245. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Weinstock, Jeffrey Andrew (2016). The Ashgate Encyclopedia of Literary and Cinematic Monsters. Taylor & Francis. pp. 248–251. ISBN 978-1-317-04426-0. OCLC 1018163370. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  3. ^ Sipos, T.M. (2010). Horror Film Aesthetics: Creating the Visual Language of Fear. McFarland, Incorporated, Publishers. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-7864-5834-9. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  4. ^ Slavicsek, B.; Baker, R. (2005). Dungeons & Dragons For Dummies. For dummies. Wiley. p. 307. ISBN 978-0-7645-9924-8. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  5. ^ Camille, M. (2008). The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame: Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity. University of Chicago Press. p. 343. ISBN 978-0-226-09246-1. OCLC 435630910. Retrieved May 11, 2018.