King Ghidorah's name is composed of "King" (キング?) and "Ghidorah." The "Ghidorah" part of King Ghidorah's name comes from the Japanese word for "hydra" Kingu (ヒドラ?), which is spelled very similarly to the HidoraJapanese katakana for Ghidorah.
King Ghidorah was referred to as either "Ghidrah" or "Ghidorah" in the American versions of his first three movies, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Invasion of Astro-Monster and Destroy All Monsters, presumably because they sounded more like "hydra." He wasn't referred to as "King Ghidorah" in an original American release of one of his movies until Godzilla vs. Gigan.
King Ghidorah is a golden dragon monster with two legs, three heads on long necks, giant bat-like wings, and two tails. King Ghidorah's multiple heads were inspired by Yamata no Orochi, an eight-headed dragon from Japanese mythology.
King Ghidorah was brought to life on the movie screen by a stunt actor inside an elaborate three-piece suit, with a team of puppeteers to control the suit's many appendages allowing realistic movement. His design was mostly created by Eiji Tsuburaya based on a minimal description in the script: "It has three heads, two tails, and a voice like a bell."
King Ghidorah's roar in the Showa era is very much akin to laughter, albeit at a higher pitch.
King Ghidorah does not have much of a developed personality because he is under someone's control in most of his appearances. The only times he was not under mind-control throughout most of the film were Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Rebirth of Mothra III, and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.
He temporarily was free of mind-control in Invasion of Astro-Monster, Godzilla vs. Gigan and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah. In each instance, he became confused due to no longer receiving commands from his masters and was overwhelmed by Godzilla and his allies, eventually trying to retreat. It seems that each of King Ghidorah's heads can think for themselves separately, although the middle head appears to be dominant which could easily be a cause of not being coordinated.
In Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, King Ghidorah was said to be evil, and he destroyed civilizations on several planets for unknown reasons. He tried destroying Earth and its civilizations, but he fought the three monsters that got in his way and retreated eventually.
King Ghidorah has traditionally been depicted as an evil destructive creature from outer space, although his origin has varied throughout his appearances.
In the Showa series, King Ghidorah is actually one in a species of three-headed alien dragons capable of traversing through outer space. At least two Ghidorahs are known to exist in the Showa continuity. The first Ghidorah was said to have attacked Venus under his own power many thousands of years ago, wiping out the planet's entire civilization. He later attacked Earth in 1964, but was repelled by Earth's monsters. He was then taken control of the Xiliens and later the Kilaaks in the two races' individual attempts to conquer Earth. The second King Ghidorah was much weaker in terms of both agility and fighting power, and attacked Earth on two occasions also under the thrall of two extraterrestrial races, first by the M Space Hunter Nebula Aliens alongside Gigan, and again by the Garogas. The Garogas later claimed to have created the Ghidorahs, but whether this is true or not is never definitively explained, given the monsters' ancient history.
HistoryVenus, eradicating the planet's advanced civilization and rendering Venus an uninhabitable wasteland. The few Venusians that survived the monster's attacks fled to Earth, where they interbred with the native humans and gradually began to lose their identity.
In the present day, a meteor shower was visible in the skies above Earth, with one meteor crashing down in the Kurobe Valley in Japan. A scientific team led by Professor Murai traveled to the valley to examine the meteor, which exuded a strange glow and even produced its own magnetic field that fluctuated in strength. After several days of study, Murai and his colleagues observed that the meteor was actually growing in size. One day, the meteor began producing an extremely powerful magnetic field before splitting open and launching a ball of fire into the sky above. The fireball exploded several times before finally taking the form of King Ghidorah, having come to do to to Earth what he did to Venus in the past.
King Ghidorah flew over Japan, leveling cities effortlessly with his gravity beams. As the cosmic terror approached the Mount Fuji area, Mothra tried to convince her fellow Earth monsters Godzilla and Rodan to cease their fighting and join forces against King Ghidorah. The monsters refused, forcing Mothra to take on King Ghidorah by herself. King Ghidorah blasted the larva with his gravity beams, arousing the anger of Godzilla and Rodan, who finally entered the battle. While King Ghidorah was more powerful than the three monsters individually, he was no match for their combined might, and was beaten into submission and covered in a silken cocoon. As Godzilla pelted King Ghidorah with boulders and threw him off a cliff, King Ghidorah finally retreated and flew back into the void of outer space.Fuji and Glenn arrived on the newly-discovered Planet X, they encountered an intelligent and technologically advanced alien race called the Xiliens. The Xiliens' leader, the Controller of Planet X, explained that his people lived in constant terror due to the attacks of a horrific space monster known as Monster Zero. The Controller showed the two a video feed of the creature, revealing it to be none other than King Ghidorah.
The Controller explained that he knew Godzilla and Rodan drove off King Ghidorah when the monster attacked Earth, and asked that his people be allowed to "borrow" the two monsters to fight off King Ghidorah on Planet X. When the two astronauts returned to Earth and received the support of the world's leaders, the Xiliens revealed themselves, having already been operating on Earth in secret. The Controller apologized for the secrecy, but thanked Earth's leaders and ordered the Xiliens' UFOs to transport Godzilla and Rodan to Planet X, with Glenn, Fuji and their superior Dr. Sakurai accompanying them to oversee the mission. When the monsters were placed on Planet X, King Ghidorah flew overhead and attacked them. Godzilla and Rodan joined forces again, and managed to force the space monster to retreat. The Controller remarked that this was a triumphant day for Planet X, and provided Glenn and Fuji with a tape he claimed contained the cure for cancer. The Controller sent the astronauts on their way, keeping Godzilla and Rodan on Planet X.
When the astronauts returned to Earth, they found the tape was actually an ultimatum demanding that Earth surrender to Planet X and become a colony. King Ghidorah had actually been under the Xiliens' control the entire time, and now both Godzilla and Rodan had become their pawns as well. When humanity refused to surrender, the Xiliens released the mind-controlled Godzilla, Rodan and King Ghidorah on Earth to destroy its major cities. Thankfully, Fuji and several Earth scientists discovered a device capable of breaking the aliens' control over the monsters. The device was activated, while the J.S.D.F. assaulted the Xiliens' hidden base.
The Xiliens lost their control over the monsters, while their forces were defeated by the J.S.D.F. When Godzilla regained consciousness, he woke up Rodan and the two attacked King Ghidorah once again. During the battle, Rodan grabbed Godzilla and carried him in the air, slamming into King Ghidorah and sending all three monsters plummeting into the sea below. After a few moments, King Ghidorah flew out of the water and retreated back to outer space, while Godzilla and Rodan disappeared beneath the waves.Moonlight SY-3 destroyed the device the Kilaaks were using to control Earth's monsters, Godzilla and his fellow monsters assembled near the Kilaaks' base at Mount Fuji, preparing to assault it. The Kilaaks proceeded to unleash their trump card, King Ghidorah, to defend their base.
King Ghidorah descended and attacked the Earth monsters, managing to hold his own against several opponents. Anguirus bit down on King Ghidorah's neck, causing him to take flight and send Anguirus falling to the Earth. King Ghidorah landed and stomped Anguirus into the dust, then reentered battle against Godzilla and his allies. Anguirus, undeterred, got back up and attacked King Ghidorah again. As King Ghidorah battled Godzilla and his allies, Gorosaurus landed a devastating kangaroo-kick on his back, knocking him to the ground. Godzilla proceeded to stomp on King Ghidorah's necks, causing him to cough up blood. Minilla fired a smoke ring that choked King Ghidorah's remaining head and caused it to fall limp to the ground.
When Godzilla found the Kilaaks' base and destroyed it, it caused a huge fissure to open in the ground, with King Ghidorah's lifeless body falling into it. With King Ghidorah defeated for good and the alien invasion thwarted, Godzilla and the other monsters returned to Monsterland to live out their days in peace.Earth, the M Space Hunter Nebula Aliens took control of a second, much weaker King Ghidorah and allied him with their own cybernetic monster, Gigan. Controlling the two monsters from the Godzilla Tower located in World Children's Land, the Nebulans unleashed Gigan and King Ghidorah in Tokyo. The space monsters razed the city and withstood all of the J.S.D.F.'s attempts to stop them, leaving humanity helpless. Thankfully, Godzilla and Anguirus became aware of the invaders' scheme, and swam to Tokyo to battle Gigan and King Ghidorah. However, King Ghidorah and his cybernetic ally proved to be more than a match for the Earth monsters. Godzilla was badly wounded by Gigan's hook-tipped appendages and the Godzilla Tower's laser beam, leaving Anguirus at the mercy of both space monsters. Fortunately, a group of humans managed to destroy the Godzilla Tower, severing the Nebulans' control over Gigan and King Ghidorah and leaving them confused. Godzilla and Anguirus regrouped and assaulted their foes once more, seizing the upper hand. Gigan eventually retreated, allowing Godzilla and Anguirus to double-team King Ghidorah. Godzilla held King Ghidorah still from behind while Anguirus rammed him with his spiky carapace. King Ghidorah soon retreated as well, leaving Godzilla and Anguirus victorious and the Earth safe once again. Garogas, who claimed to also be his creators, and was deployed to Earth. While on Earth, King Ghidorah was confronted by Zone Fighter, who defeated the space demon after a vicious struggle. King Ghidorah managed to escape with his life, something few of Zone Fighter's enemies, not even Gigan, managed to do.
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. His different forms in the different movies have their own abilities.
King Ghidorah is usually portrayed as being extremely durable and resistant to damage, often to an extent close to Godzilla. He withstands conventional weaponry with no noticeable effect, and can even shrug off point-blank blasts from Godzilla's atomic breath.
King Ghidorah tends to use his durability to his advantage, as he often prefers to escape from a battle that he can't win before he suffers more injuries than necessary.
King Ghidorah is able to fly up to speeds of mach 3 in the Earth's atmosphere. He exceeds this speed while flying through space. In Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and Rebirth of Mothra III, King Ghidorah can encase himself within a meteorite while traveling from planet to planet. In Godzilla vs. Gigan he encases himself in a large diamond-like structure while traveling through space.
King Ghidorah's most famous ability is the golden lightning bolt-like gravity beams he spits from his three mouths. These beams are roughly equal in power to Godzilla's atomic breath, and are capable of causing large-scale explosions when fired at buildings. King Ghidorah's younger form from Rebirth of Mothra III, Cretaceous King Ghidorah, spit fireballs from his mouths instead of gravity beams.
King Ghidorah can produce hurricane-force winds by flapping his wings, which are capable of blowing away buildings and knocking other kaiju off their feet.
In Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, while encased in the meteorite, King Ghidorah had the ability to generate what appeared to be magnetic fields that varied in strength from time to time. While it was never stated directly what purpose they served, it was stated that they were somehow connected to its powers.
It seems possible that King Ghidorah used them as a form of levitation. In the Game Boy Advance video game Godzilla: Domination!, the space monster King Ghidorah has two new, never-before-seen fighting abilities: first, the ability to emit devastating magnetic beams from his mouth, and second, the ability to produce a powerful magnetic pull around him which will draw nearby monsters closer and injure them. King Ghidorah is able to maintain the presence of his magnetic pull for roughly ten seconds before halting the attack and needing to recharge in order to reuse the attack.
Though more than a match for Godzilla in a one-on-one battle, King Ghidorah tends to become overwhelmed when facing multiple kaiju at once. This proves to be his downfall in Destroy All Monsters, where he is killed in a battle against all of Earth's monsters at the same time.
Mind Control Disruption
King Ghidorah tends to become confused when the mind control of his alien masters is severed, which leaves him open and vulnerable to attack.
|“|| If Gigan is the hammer of the Vortaak invasion forces, then King Ghidorah is the anvil. King Ghidorah is the most physically powerful monster in the universe, and blends immense size, incredible strength, and near invulnerability into a unified engine of monstrous destruction. The Vortaak often hesitate to deploy King Ghidorah at all, lest he demolish their enemies and leave nothing to subjugate.|
King Ghidorah is at home in the vacuum of space, and travels between planets under his own power. King Ghidorah's wings allow him to fly in Earth's atmosphere, though his great mass hinders his aerial mobility. He naturally generates intense electrical energy that he unleashes as a powerful Triple Gravity Beam from his three heads. Despite all this, King Ghidorah's greatest ability is his asset to withstand damage-all known forms of attack splinter against his thick golden scales.
— Godzilla: Unleashed bio
|“|| This fearsome space monster destroyed a once highly developed civilization on Venus in mere days, earning it the name "Venus Hellfire" by the Venusians. It absorbs solar heat and cosmic rays with its golden wings and converts them into energy. It arrived on Earth via a meteor that landed in Kurobe Gorge. It began to ravage Tokyo, shooting gravitational rays out of the mouths of its three heads. Mothra, who sensed this brutality and the crisis facing Earth, convinced its former foes Godzilla and Rodan to intercept King Ghidorah at the foot of Mt. Fuji.|
In the Heisei series film, "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" (1991), King Ghidorah appeared in the form of a super dragon, an artificial lifeform equipped with a genetic mutation system and created by the Futurians before being warped back to the 20th century to fight Godzilla. Later, King Ghidorah became a mechanical cyborg.
In the Millennium series movie "Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" (2001), it appeared as "Ghidorah," on of the three sacred guardian monsters who protected Japan that had been stuck in hibernation under Mt. Fuji for 10,000 years, Once its energy was fully restored, it transformed into its complete form, the "Thousand Year Dragon King".
The original King Ghidorah was a full-body costume at first, with a blue body and iridescent wings. However, some of the crew mistakenly thought it was supposed to be golden, and special-effects director Eiji Tsuburaya liked the idea so much he gave the word, having the crew change the color right before filming. As the arch-enemy of Godzilla, King Ghidorah had a costume that required 25 people to operate its three heads and two tails.
— King Ghidorah Kaiju Guide bio
In this manga produced by Kodansya Comics, King Ghidorah is the first opponent Godzilla faces in the second and final volume, although he first appears in Volume 1 approaching Earth with Neo Gigan. He was either resurrected or acquired by Doctor Oniyama and utilised as one of the many kaiju in his collection, being named as King Ghidorah III, indicating that both the Showa and Heisei King Ghidorahs are present in the manga's continuity. King Ghidorah III fought Godzilla viciously, but was defeated after Godzilla tore off his auxiliary necks. King Ghidorah is also one of the genetic donors for King Godzilla, and his auxiliary necks and heads form King Godzilla's arms.
King Ghidorah appeared in the The Godzilla Comic Raids Again manga, being used by the Xiliens to take over Earth. Before reaching Earth, King Ghidorah encounters Biollante, who later becomes a King Ghidorah clone.Mechagodzilla. In the following three-way battle, Steven Woods fired Mechagodzilla's special weapon at both King Ghidorah and Godzilla, knocking out both monsters in the process. King Ghidorah did not appear again in the series and is presumed to be dead.
King Ghidorah later appeared in three issues of the mini-series Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths. Here, it is shown that King Ghidorah is a resident of Monster Island along with Godzilla, Mothra, Anguirus, and Battra.Dimension Tide, a device that could open miniature black holes. The AMF planned to use it on the alien duo and Godzilla himself. The two aliens were lured to Antarctica, soon were involved in a four-way battle between themselves, Kiryu, and Godzilla. At the fight's climax, the Dimension Tide fired and opened a miniature black hole. King Ghidorah and Gigan were soon sucked into the hole, with a heavily-damaged Kiryu following in suit shortly afterwards.
Mecha-King Ghidorah in issue #15 of Godzilla: Rulers of Earth. In issue #16, the Cryog leader Rhizon recalls discovering the badly wounded body of King Ghidorah following his earlier battle with Godzilla and Mechagodzilla. Rhizon ordered Gigan to slice off Ghidorah's middle head so that he could replace it with a mechanical head that gave him control over the entire monster.
In issue #24, it was revealed by Rhizon in a flashback that the Cryogs' homeworld was destroyed by King Ghidorah, and that the race's emperor, Karkaro, fled the planet when King Ghidorah arrived, prompting Rhizon to seize control of the planet.
King Ghidorah appears in Godzilla: Cataclysm Issue 1 locked in battle with Godzilla. King Ghidorah bites Godzilla and shocks him through his bite, but Godzilla lifts Ghidorah by his head and slams him to the ground. Godzilla then blasts Ghidorah at point-blank range with his atomic breath and defeats him. It is unknown if King Ghidorah survived the encounter or not. Arata's grandfather later recalls that some members of his village pray to King Ghidorah as a deity that brings rain.
King Ghidorah appears in the second issue of the series Godzilla in Hell. He appears after Godzilla defeats the Demon Varan and sends him into a whirlpool with his gravity beams. King Ghidorah returns in the fourth issue, where he and Destoroyah are seen, defeated by Godzilla, in the ruins of a city.
Suddenly, both kaiju heal and get back up, then relentlessly attack Godzilla together in a recreation of Tokyo in Hell, surrounded by a wall of flesh. Any time any of the three monsters were killed or mortally wounded, they instantly recovered and continued their assault. Godzilla eventually tricked King Ghidorah and Destoroyah into aiding him in escape by ducking when they both fired their beams and combining his beam with them, creating a blast powerful enough to destroy the wall. As Godzilla marched onward, King Ghidorah, Destoroyah, and everything else on the battlefield besides Godzilla disappeared into nothingness.
In Godzilla: Oblivion, King Ghidorah attacked and chased the humans visiting the alternate dimension in which he lived. Due to power problems, he was able to follow them through the inter-dimensional portal and began rampaging in their dimension. After emerging through the portal, King Ghidorah attacked the eastern United States for two weeks, completely destroying the cities of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and resisting all attempts by the U.S. military, NATO, and the United Nations to stop him.
Godzilla was eventually brought through to the original dimension to fight King Ghidorah. The monsters battled in Washington D.C., after which King Ghidorah grabbed Godzilla and carried him over the ocean. The military detonated a nuclear bomb in the vicinity of both monsters, which appeared to kill King Ghidorah but left Godzilla unharmed.
King Ghidorah's carcass laid still at the bottom of the ocean, missing its middle head and with shredded wings and a gaping wound in its chest. A group of humans reached the monster's location and raised him up to the surface using a giant balloon. They then brought King Ghidorah's corpse to a facility and mechanically modified it as Mecha-King Ghidorah in order to fight Godzilla and draw him back into his own dimension.
In other languages
- Spanish: Rey Ghidorah
- Russian: Кинг Гидора
- Chinese: 王者基多拉
- Cantonese (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, VHS dub): 大水怪
- Cantonese (Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, DVD dub): 三頭金龍王
- King Ghidorah can be considered the primary antagonist of the Godzilla franchise due both to his popularity and his film count of six.
- King Ghidorah is possibly the most potent of Godzilla's enemies. This is evidenced by how in every one of his appearances, Godzilla defeated him only with some form of assistance, either from humans or other monsters. The prime example of this would be when Godzilla teamed up with Rodan and Mothra to defeat him in Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster.
- King Ghidorah was the very first alien monster to fight Godzilla.
- King Ghidorah is one of few monsters to appear in all three series, the others being Mothra, Rodan, Mechagodzilla, Godzilla's son, and Godzilla himself. King Ghidorah has also been confirmed to be appearing in Legendary's Godzilla series, along with Mothra and Rodan.
- King Ghidorah, along with Mothra, were offered to TriStar to oppose Godzilla for the original 1994 American film, but the price they offered was too high, so it was declined by TriStar. Instead, the monster Godzilla was going to face was the Gryphon. This too was scrapped in favor of the 1998 film directed by Roland Emmerich.
- King Ghidorah was inspired by a Russian dragon of legend named Zmey Gorynych.
- It was confirmed in the Godzilla Dictionary: New Edition (ISBN: 4773087250) that the King Ghidorah featured in both Godzilla vs. Gigan and the Zone Fighter series is actually a separate individual from the one that appears in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Invasion of Astro-Monster, and Destroy All Monsters.
- King Ghidorah's made numerous appearances in media related to and unrelated to Godzilla. Such appearances are listed below:
- King Ghidorah appears four times in Courage the Cowardly Dog, notably two episodes when LeQuack turns on a TV with King Ghidorah on it, and shoots fire from the TV. Another time is when Courage opens a door and King Ghidorah is behind it giving a loud roar. Both clips were from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.
- In the film Independence Day, a young boy is seen playing with a King Ghidorah toy.
- In Growing Up Creepie, King Ghidorah was seen in a drive through movie screen, the clip was also from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.
- In one episode of the TV series T.U.F.F Puppy, Dudley Puppy, the show's protagonist, turned into a giant, 3-headed monster that could breathe fire.
- An episode of Histeria covering Ancient Rome described the strength of Roman architecture, but saying it couldn't stand up to Ghidorah. The segment ended with the host being crushed by Ghidorah's foot, similar to "Bambi Meets Godzilla."
- In the Cartoon Network television show M.A.D., there's a skit involving the Jonas brothers where a fan sends them a letter asking how they stay so close. They reply by saying they are a giant three headed monster and go on attacking a city.
- In the anime series Shinzo, a similar monster named "Grandorah" was the antagonist in a few episodes.
- King Ghidorah appeared briefly in a Crest commercial.
- In an episode of the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy titled "Giant Billy and Mandy All Out Attack", there was a parody of King Ghidorah called "Kitty Rah" and barfed hair balls as opposed to King Ghidorah's gravity beams.
- The Pokémon Hydreigon resembles King Ghidorah strongly.
- In August of 2014, the 1998 film was mocked by RiffTrax Live, which was created by and shares many of the former members of Mystery Science Theater 3000. During the riffing, they made witty references to King Ghidorah and Mothra.
- In the film Pee Wee's Big Adventure, during a chase scene through a movie studio, both Godzilla and King Ghidorah can be seen on a set during the filming of a movie.
- In the Cartoon Network television show Teen Titans Go!, The Twin Destroyers of Azarath were transformed into a giant 2-headed monster by Starfire's affection.
- In Tsuburaya Productions' original Ultraman series, King Ghidorah's roars were recycled as the ringtone for the Science Patrol's telephone.
- In the Nickelodeon animated series The Loud House, main character Lincoln Loud owns a green-colored toy of King Ghidorah which he has in his bedroom.
- In the videogame Cuphead, the dragon boss Grim Matchstick grows two additional heads in the final phase, making him resemble King Ghidorah.
List of appearances
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (First appearance)
- Invasion of Astro-Monster
- Destroy All Monsters
- Godzilla vs. Gigan
- Terror of Mechagodzilla (Stock Footage)
- Bye-Bye Jupiter (Stock Footage)
- Godzilla vs. 3 Giant Monsters
- Godzilla (Gameboy)
- Godzilla: Monster of Monsters
- Battle Soccer: Champion of the Field
- Super Godzilla (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla, King of the Monsters (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla (Arcade) (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla: Battle Legends (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla: Great Monster Battle
- Godzilla: Giant Monster March (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla: Archipelago Shock
- Godzilla: Heart-Pounding Monster Island!!
- Godzilla Movie Studio Tour
- Godzilla: Trading Battle (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla Generations
- Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla: Domination! (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla: Save the Earth (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- CR Godzilla 3S-T Battle
- Godzilla: Unleashed (Wii and PlayStation 2, also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash (also Mecha-King Ghidorah)
- Godzilla: Pachislot Wars
- Godzilla: Monster Mayhem
- CR Godzilla: Descent of the Destruction God
- Godzilla On Monster Island