King Ghidorah, sometimes spelled King Ghidrah, King Ghidra or King Ghidora, is a daikaiju featured in several of Toho Studios' Godzilla films and (in derivative forms) in their Rebirth of Mothra trilogy. Ghidorah is among the most powerful giant monsters in daikaiju eiga with a reputation that has earned him the title "The King of Terror". He is considered Godzilla's arch enemy. Godzilla is often required to ally himself with another kaiju, even several, before engaging the three-headed monster in battle, most often with Mothra, Rodan, or Anguirus. The exception to this theme occurred in the 1991 film Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, which resulted in Godzilla defeating King Ghidorah on his own, as well as severing Ghidorah's middle head. King Ghidorah is also one of the daikaiju most often mind controlled; he acts completely autonomously in three movies, in other appearances being controlled for most of its screen time by aliens.
Created as an opponent for Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra in 1964's Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Ghidorah is a golden dragon-like space alien with two legs, three heads on long necks, large fan-like wings, and two tails. It was said to be 100 meters tall with a 150-meter wingspan and to weigh 30,000 metric tons. King Ghidorah was brought to life on the movie screen by a stunt actor inside an elaborate three-piece costume, with a team of puppeteers to control the beast's many appendages. Its alarming shrieks (a different ringing pitch for each of its heads) are among the genre's most recognizable sound effects. Its design is due to special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya based on a minimal description in the script: "It has three heads, two tails, and a voice like a bell."
In recent films Ghidorah has undergone several revisions to its origin and appearance. For instance, a 150-meter tall irradiated triplet of genetically-engineered pets called Dorats with a Rodan-like cackle in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, and a 49-meter-tall guardian monster in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. He has been realized via CGI as well as traditional suitmation.
Initially, King Ghidorah was said to have come from outer space, an ancient evil responsible for destroying the civilizations of many planets, including Venus. Though his origins in the Godzilla series are left enigmatic, a later appearance in episode five of Zone Fighter he was claimed as a creation of the warlike Garoga aliens. Arriving on Earth in a magnetic meteorite, Ghidorah devastated much of the Japanese countryside before being repelled by the monstrous team of Godzilla, Mothra, and Rodan. In the follow-up movie, Invasion of the Astro-Monster, it was revealed to be a mind-controlled pawn of beings from Planet X, a newly discovered planet in Jupiter's umbra, who called it "Monster Zero". These "Xians" coveted Earth's water resources and took control of Godzilla and Rodan in an attempt to conquer Earth. Earth intervened by freeing the monsters, and after a fight with Godzilla and Rodan, King Ghidorah flew back into space.
King Ghidorah made two more appearances in the Shōwa Series, both times as an agent of alien invaders. In Destroy All Monsters, controlled by the Kilaaks, it fought and was killed by the combined might of ten of Earth's daikaiju. There is some confusion around this event because in Godzilla vs. Gigan, King Ghidorah returns. However, Destroy All Monsters was set in the year 1999, while Godzilla vs. Gigan is set in the 1970s. So, chronologically, Destroy All Monsters takes place after Godzilla vs. Gigan, and is the last film of the Showa series, instead of Terror of Mechagodzilla.
Ghidorah also appeared in two episodes of the tokusatsu superhero TV series, Zone Fighter. He appeared in two back-to-back episodes, and was one of the few monsters to survive defeat at the hands of Zone Fighter.
The daikaiju was revamped for 1991's Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, third in the Heisei series. Time-travelers from the 23rd century (called "Futurians") released three genetically-engineered creatures called Dorats onto Lagos Island, the location at which a Godzillasaurus was to be exposed to radiation and become Godzilla. Instead, the irradiated Dorats fused into King Ghidorah, which the Futurians then used to devastate present-day (1992) Japan. The marauder was defeated by a reincarnated Godzilla; this newer Godzilla was larger and more powerful than ever because he was placed where a cold war era nuclear submarine ended up sinking, exposing him to more powerful radiation than the bomb tests had done to the original Godzilla. Even so, Ghidorah appeared to be winning the battle until its controlling computer was sabotaged, allowing Godzilla to use his atomic ray to decapitate Ghidorah's middle head and burn a hole through its left wing. Ghidorah fell into the ocean, where he remained comatose for hundreds of years.
The Futurian Emi Kano recovered the beast in 2204 and, from its body and futuristic technology, created the cyborg, equipped with solar-paneled wings, an entirely mechanical middle head, and several devices specifically designed for combat with Godzilla. This incarnation managed to stun Godzilla with its capture cables, grasp it with the giant machine hand, and carry it out to sea. Godzilla finally blasted the monster at point-blank range with his atomic ray, and both plummeted into the water. Godzilla would return the following year (Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth), but Ghidorah would not appear again in the Heisei series. The cybernetic remains of Mecha-King Ghidorah, however, would later be recovered by the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center (UNGCC) and the technology used to design and construct Heisei era Mechagodzilla (Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II) and MOGERA (Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla).
Rebirth of Mothra IIIEdit
King Ghidorah reappeared in 1998's Rebirth of Mothra III, resuming his world-destroying roots from the Showa era. Having come from outer space and responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, he returns in the present day. Using his Light Speed form, Mothra Leo travelled back in time and battled the younger King Ghidorah, known as Cretaceous Ghidorah, in prehistoric times in an attempt to negate the existence of the current-age Ghidorah. During the fight in the past Mothra managed to sever one of Ghidorah's tails, which then burrowed into the ground. Believed to be destroyed after Leo dropped him into the interior of Mt. Fuji, the younger Ghidorah reappeared in the present day in its adult form. Fortunately for the world, Mothra Leo had also entered a state of hibernation after fighting King Ghidorah in the Cretaceous, and reemerged with the ability to transform into a more powerful armored form which finally enabled him to destroy King Ghidorah once and for all.
King Ghidorah appeared in the third of the Millennium series of Godzilla films, 2001's Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. Ghidorah adopted yet another origin for this film, as one of three legendary guardians of the Japanese isles, similar to the eight-headed dragon Yamata no Orochi of Japanese mythology. But, the three-headed Ghidorah in this film is said to be underdeveloped, awakened from hibernation before it could grow all eight of its heads. Godzilla again attacks Japan and is repelled by the combined might of the guardian monsters (Baragon, Mothra, and Ghidorah) and the Japan Self-Defense Forces. This film was the first time that King Ghidorah was depicted as a hero, rather than a villain. It was also the first time that King Ghidorah was physically portrayed as being smaller than Godzilla.
When Ghidorah first awakens, his wings are underdeveloped and his only method of attack is an electrified bite from each of his three heads. Godzilla knocks him unconscious with relative ease and is about to destroy him when Mothra throws herself between them, sacrificing herself by taking the full force of Godzilla's atomic ray. After Mothra is killed, her energy flows into Ghidorah, which simultaneously awakens him, grants him the power of flight, increases his power to full strength, and triggering his growth into King Ghidorah. Godzilla fires his atomic ray at King Ghidorah, but the dragon blocks the attack with a force-field. King Ghidorah then gathers the energy of his force field and fires it back at the King of the Monsters in the form of a massive energy ball. The resulting blast was not only strong enough to send Godzilla flying out of Yokohama and into the sea but also inflicted a large gash in Godzilla's left shoulder.
King Ghidorah chased after Godzilla and after a brief battle underwater, took back to the sky where he bombarded Godzilla with gravity beams from his mouths. Although Ghidorah briefly appeared to be winning, Godzilla fired a supercharged atomic ray that completely obliterated the three-headed monster. But despite falling in battle, Ghidorah's attack ultimately proved to be Godzilla's downfall as the spirits of the guardian monsters possessed and weakened Godzilla, allowing a mini-sub piloted by the Japanese Self Defense Force to fire a torpedo into the wound inflicted by King Ghidorah that destabilized Godzilla's nuclear power, causing him to self-destruct when he next attempted to use his atomic ray.
Dorats are small, genetically engineered pets that become popular in the 23rd century. They're vaguely bat-like creatures with golden scales, cat-like faces and reptilian tails. They're apparently sensitive to the emotions of those around them.
Three seemingly harmless Dorats are taken by a group of people known as Futurians to the 20th century, to convince Japan to aid them in destroying Godzilla, so that Japan's ultimate destruction can be averted. The time travellers go further into the past to the Pacific war of 1944, with the intention of removing a Godzillasaurus from the atomic bomb sites that would mutate him into Godzilla. The plan is a success and the Godzillasaurus is transported to the Bering sea. Unknown to the present day collaborators, the Futurians left in the dinosaurs place the Dorats. The Futurians plan had been to remove Godzilla and replace him with a monster that they could control and use for their own ends. In fact, the atomic tests that would create Godzilla cause the three Dorats to fuse into one powerful creature, resulting in the creation of King Ghidorah.
Desghidorah is a kaiju creature battled by Mothra in the 1996 film Rebirth of Mothra. Compared to Ghidorah, Desghidorah was a black, quadrapedal (four-legged), three-headed dragon who could breathe fire and lava bolts and absorb energy from the planet it was destroying. Desghidorah was an extraterrestrial dragon responsible for the destruction of the civilizations of Mars and the extinction of the Elias (the tiny humanoids who served Mothra's species) before finally being defeated and sealed into a tomb by the ancestors of Mothra.
Desghidorah developed over the years following its defeat, eventually being awakened by a logging operation in Hokkaido. The beast had been sealed away by Mothra whilst it was developing, but the foreman removed the binding seal and thus alerted the wicked fairy Belvera to the discovery. Belvera secured the seal and released the monster, hoping to control him. Her sisters, the good Elias, soon arrived, summoning Mothra to again defeat the dreaded beast. But Mothra could not prevail against Desghidorah.
Sensing her distress, the unborn Mothra caterpillar emerged from its egg and came to its mother's aid. Even this was not enough, and Desghidorah drove both of his enemies away. The elder Mothra expired from wounds received in the battle. The younger sought out a mystic 10,000 year old tree, employing its ancient energies to transform into an even more powerful adult Mothra. The new Mothra, Leo lost little time in renewing the battle, handedly defeating Desghidorah and with the help of the Elias, once more imprisoning him within his mountain.
Monster X was summoned by the Xilians as their trump card against Godzilla, coming to earth inside a meteor. Godzilla and Monster X commenced battle, with Monster X holding an initial advantage, and then fought to a standstill. Mothra arrived to even the odds, and in response, the Xilians sent out the upgraded Gigan, who quickly dispatched her, and then assisted Monster X. Monster X and Gigan were briefly able to overcome Godzilla, when Mothra attacked once more and knocked both of them down. Gigan resumed his battle with Mothra, and both were killed. Although Monster X had the advantage Godzilla soon seemed to gain the upper hand as he knocked the other monster down and punched him multiple times. Finally they split apart and Monster X and Godzilla locked beams, causing a massive explosion which blew the kaiju off their feet.
Godzilla staggered to his feet, and looked up to see Monster X undergo a terrifying transformation; he dropped to all fours, grew wings, enlarged his bodily proportions, changed his white armor into a dark golden armor, and then finally, his neck elongated and his shoulder skulls filled out and became a pair of extra heads. Monster X had transformed into Keizer Ghidorah.
After Godzilla and Monster X battled to a stand still, Monster X transformed into Keizer Ghidorah. Godzilla, seemingly undaunted at the titanic beast that appeared before him, fired his atomic ray immediately after Keizer Ghidorah rose. Keizer Ghidorah returned fire with his gravity beams, forcing Godzilla's atomic ray back at him. Godzilla is thrown to the ground, left at the mercy of Keizer Ghidorah and his devastating beams. Keizer Ghidorah smashes Godzilla across the destroyed landscape, sending him crashing into crumbling buildings and slamming him to the ground with his beams. Eventually, Keizer Ghidorah stomps Godzilla, and kicks him into a building, before seizing Godzilla in his jaws and nearly absorbing all of his life-force.
It is at this point when the mutant soldier Ozaki, realizing Godzilla is their only hope at saving the planet, leaps into the main firing chair of the warship Gotengo and uses his own Keizer powers to transfer a massive amount of energy to Godzilla. The energy awakens Godzilla and recharges him. Godzilla proceeds to turn the tables on Keizer Ghidorah, escaping by using his nuclear pulse, decapitating his middle head with his atomic ray and cutting his right head off by its left head's beam at its right head's neck. He then pummels Keizer Ghidorah and hurls him to the sky, firing his red spiral atomic ray that pushes Keizer Ghidorah into outer space, where he explodes and is killed.
King Ghidorah consistently ranks as one of the most popular daikaiju in the Godzilla films, (after Godzilla and Mothra). This fame, coupled with the unimpressive box office run of Godzilla vs Biollante (1989), inspired Kazuki Omori to revive Ghidorah for the 1991 sequel.
Ghidorah (often also as Mecha-King Ghidorah) has appeared in several Godzilla video games:
- Godzilla: Monster of Monsters
- Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters
- Super Godzilla (also "Mecha")
- Godzilla: Battle Legends (also "Mecha")
- Godzilla Giant Monster March (also "Mecha")
- Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (also "Mecha")
- Godzilla: Domination (also "Mecha" though not playable)
- Godzilla: Save the Earth (also "Mecha")
- Godzilla: Unleashed (also "Mecha")
- Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash (also "Mecha" though not playable)
It is notable that, since Mecha-King Ghidorah was created, he has accompanied his organic counterpart in every single video game he has been in.
Ghidorah also appears often in pop culture:
- King Ghidorah appeared as Godzilla's adversary in a special effects shoot depicted in Tim Burton's Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Burton is a Godzilla fan.
- It is also the namesake of both Daniel Dumile's alter-ego "King Gheedorah" and the Japanese rap group King Gidora.
- "Monster Zero" is referenced in Rob Zombie's "The Great American Nightmare".
- In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, an obvious spoof, named Kittyra who is a three headed mutant cat, fights with Cragera, a spoof of Gamera.
- Several games in the Final Fantasy series have a 3-headed monster named 'Ghidrah', apparently a nod to the famous monster.
- Stock footage of Ghidorah was frequently employed in the cartoon Courage the Cowardly Dog.
- In The Emperor's New School episode, Kronk Moves In, Yzma's alligator turns into the shape of Ghidorah because of her "Ghidorah potion" she threw by accident.
- In Nicktoons: Battle for Volcano Island, the villain the Mawgu transforms into a monster that resembles Ghidorah.
- In the Jetix show Shinzo, a Ghidorah-like monster appears named Grandorah, but instead of lightning, it has powers of ice and snow.
- Another Ghidorah-esque monster appears in Ben Dunn's Ninja High School comic, named King Gedorah.
- A child can be seen playing with a Mecha-King Ghidorah toy in one scene in the film Independence Day. The creators of ID4 would go on to write and direct the infamous American Godzilla remake.
- In 2003, MF Doom released a concept album about King Ghidorah (in this instance spelled Geedorah) called Take Me To Your Leader. Though Doom wrote, produced, arranged, recorded, mixed and mastered all 13 tracks, the album featured singing by Kurious, Jet-Jaguar and Mr. Fantastik. The album is told through the perspective of the 500-foot, three-headed, golden-plated monster. Says Doom, "I made it different on purpose. A blend of ill lyrics and instrumentals. To me its way iller than any of the wack shit out now." And of the concept, he explains that "This whole album is Geedorah's alien perspective on humans. This is done intentionally to show the listener a mirror image of his/herself and the way we see each other."
- In the video game "Ed Edd 'n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures" on the level "Edzilla" the level's boss (called the Kankerador) based on the Kanker sisters, closely resembles King Ghidorah, but is pink, has no wings (but arms) one tail, and the middle head has a short neck (unlike the other two heads). Also, instead of shooting lightning, the Kankerador blows kisses and makes earthquakes.
- "Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster" is one of the horrers David Drayton thinks might attack in the Stephen King novella, The Mist.
- King Ghidorah appears among the villains in an episode of South Park in "Imaginationland Episode II".
- In the Pokémon movie Pokémon: The Rise of Darkrai, part of the Pokémon Palkia's roar is mixed with King Ghidorah's roar (Unlike in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, where Palkia's roar is mixed with Godzilla instead).
- King Ghidorah was declared a winner in Maddox's book The Alphabet of Manliness.
- In the Super Sentai series, Juuken Sentai Gekiranger, the true form of its major antagonist Long resembles to Ghidorah in general.
- In 1990, a San Diego-based ska funk band named Monster Zero immortalized King Ghidorah in the song "Monster Zero".
King Ghidorah has had a number of changes made to himself over the years, but most of his traditional battle characteristics have remained the same.
Different incarnations have different types of attacks, some of which aren't used quite the same in battle. King Ghidorah, in most incarnations, is able to fire off powerful beams of what looks like electrical bolts of energy from each mouth, referred to as "gravity beams."
- The gravity beams live up to their name in Zone Fighter and Godzilla: Final Wars, where they were able to lift opponents and objects off the ground and throw them around or bring them closer.
- The beams were simply bolts of concussive thermal energy in GMK, where King Ghidorah fired bolts of electricity.
- In Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, after being converted into a cyborg, Mecha-King Ghidorah was able to fire a spiraling energy blast from his robotic head.
- In Rebirth of Mothra Desghidorah was able to breathe a stream of flames from its middle head, known as Hell's Flame, as well as spitting balls of energized magma.
- In Rebirth of Mothra III, Cretaceous King Ghidorah had fire breath instead of the regular energy bolts but this is likely because he was in his younger undeveloped form.
In Rebirth of Mothra III, Grand King Ghidorah was able to project six bolts of lightning from each of his wings.
Ghidorah has armored scales that provide him with some degree of protection. However, it does not guarantee total invulnerability.
- The Showa era KIng Ghidorah's scales made him almost immune to energy attacks, but seemed to do little else. In Invasion of the Astro-Monster, Ghidorah withstood several blasts of Godzilla's atomic ray with no ill effects. In Destroy All Monsters, Anguirus used his tusks and fangs to lacerate one of the monster's necks.
- In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla was able to use his atomic ray to sever one of Ghidorah's necks and burn a hole through his left wing. Ghidorah's scales would later be augmented by cybernetic armor when he was reconstituted as Mecha-King Ghidorah.
- Desghidorah's black scales appeared to be a tough armor that could shrug off all but the strongest attacks, not just energy attacks but physical attacks as well.
- In Rebirth of Mothra III, Grand King Ghidorah had scales that were reflective and repelled even the strongest of Mothra Leo's attacks. However, when Leo reached his final armored form he was able to cut off one of Ghidorah's wings and finally completely destroy him with an energy tackle through the monster.
- In Godzilla Mothra King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, Godzilla drew blood as he bit down on one of King Ghidorah's necks. At the end of the movie, Ghidorah is incinerated by a point-blank blast of Godzilla's supercharged atomic ray.
King Ghidorah is able to create hurricane-strength winds by standing and flapping his wings, or by gliding over an area at a low altitude. Ghidorah can reach interplanetary velocities, although his atmospheric speed was said to be approximately Mach 4 in Godzilla vs. Gigan (this may represent a comfortable maneuvering speed for the monster).
Life force absorptionEdit
With the exception of GMK, King Ghidorah's various incarnations after 1995 each possessed the ability to drain an enemy's life force to be harnessed for the monster's own use; although the method varies depending on the particular version.
- In Rebirth of Mothra, Desghidorah generated a toxic gas that reduced the surrounding forests to barren wastelands.
- In Rebirth of Mothra III, Grand King Ghidorah could create a pulsating dome that absorbed the life force of whatever was encased within. After depleting a planet of its life force, these energies would be materialized around Ghidorah as a cocoon with which it would use to propel itself through space towards a new planet.
- Keizer Ghidorah was able to drain life force directly through its bite attack.
Assorted other abilitiesEdit
- The Showa-era King Ghidorah had the ability to generate magnetic fields, a power Godzilla imitated in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla in 1974. While the fields' purpose was never stated, it was said that they were somehow connected to his powers. It is possible that he used them as a form of levitation.
- In Godzilla vs King Ghidorah, King Ghidorah could use his powerful necks to strangle Godzilla. After being reconstituted as a cyborg, Mecha-King Ghidorah lost that ability but was equipped with several electrified manacles and the G-grasper, a mechanical harness mounted on its chest plate.
- In Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, King Ghidorah's immature form possessed an electrified bite. Its fully energized form was capable of generating a force field that absorbed the energy of an opponent's attack, combined it with that of King Ghidorah, and then discharged it back towards its enemy.
- In Rebirth of Mothra, Desghidorah had an explosive ability that allowed it to open fissures in the Earth's crust along with a bite attack that was capable of inflicting terrible burns on an opponent.
- In Rebirth of Mothra III, Grand King Ghidorah appeared to have a range of psychic abilities allowing it to teleport small objects and control minds, and telekinetic capabilities strong enough for Ghidorah to levitate himself.
Summary of Ghidorah Film and TV appearancesEdit
Showa King GhidorahEdit
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964) - In this film Ghidorah is an alien monster that comes to Earth in a meteor.
- Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965) - Ghidorah goes by the alias of Monster Zero and is mind-controlled by the Xians.
- Destroy All Monsters (1968) - Ghidorah is mind-controlled in 1999, this time by Kilaaks, and is killed by the monsters of Earth. This is the canonical death of the Showa King Ghidorah.
- Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) - Is mind-controlled by the Nebula Spacehunters.
- Zone Fighter (1973) - The Garoga aliens claim to have created Ghidorah and make him fight Zone Fighter.
Heisei King GhidorahEdit
In Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991) the Futurians attempt to change history so that Godzilla no longer exists and King Ghidorah is created in his place. While they fail to uncreate Godzilla, they do succeed in creating Ghidorah. In the same film we see the appearance and defeat of Mecha-King Ghidorah.
Millennium King GhidorahEdit
In Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) a new version of Ghidorah is introduced; somewhat controversial, this Ghidorah is noticeably smaller and weaker than traditional versions, has a different, legendary origin. In addition, this is the first and only time that the monster was portrayed as heroic causing the controversy of this incarnation.