The H.P. Lovecraft Wiki

In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.
~ H. P. Lovecraft , "The Call of Cthulhu"

This subject contains information from the "Lovecraft Circle" Myth Cycles, and while guided by HPL are not based on his work alone. This subject contains information from the Derleth Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly. This subject contains information from the Expanded Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly. Cthulhu is a fictional cosmic entity created by H. P. Lovecraft for his short story "The Call of Cthulhu". First appearing in the February 1928 issue of the pulp magazine Weird Tales, he is depicted as an octopoid Great Old One of enormous power who lies in a death-like slumber in his sunken city of R'lyeh beneath the Pacific Ocean. He is the namesake and the best-known element of the Cthulhu Mythos, appearing in the works of numerous authors following Lovecraft and frequently referenced in popular culture.


The most detailed descriptions of Cthulhu are based on statues of the creature. One, constructed by the young artist Henry Anthony Wilcox after a series of baleful dreams, is said to have "yielded simultaneous pictures of an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature [...] A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings." (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu") Another, recovered by police from a raid on a murderous cult, "represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind." (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

Cultists believe that the activities of Cthulhu and his Star-Spawn (referred to as the "Great Old Ones") are closely linked to the configuration of the stars, that when the stars are "right" they can move through space to colonise new worlds, but when the stars are "wrong" they cannot live, although they can't die either, instead entering a sort of suspended animation or stasis, "preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu". (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

In Lovecraft's works, the only description of Cthulhu himself, as opposed to his stone idols, comes from the narrative of Gustaf Johansen, the lone survivor of a group of sailors who stumbled upon a portion of sunken R'lyeh after it briefly emerged from the sea due to cataclysmic tremors in 1925. Johansen's testimony emphasizes the gargantuan size of the creature, which is compared to a walking mountain. The seaman describes Cthulhu as a "gelatinous green immensity", with "flabby claws" and a "squid-head with writhing feelers". Johansen's phrase "a mountain walked or stumbled" gives a sense of the monster's scale. This is corroborated by Wilcox's dreams, which "touched wildly on a gigantic thing 'miles high' which walked or lumbered about". (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

Johansen recounts that two of his companions died of sheer fright as they saw it, while three more "were swept up by the flabby claws" of the monster. As the others tried to escape, a man named Parker "was swallowed up by an angle of masonry which shouldn’t have been there", part of the mysterious alien geometry of R'lyeh. William Briden, who managed to reach the ship, lost his sanity as he saw the massive creature swimming after them in pursuit and "kept on laughing at intervals till death found him one night in the cabin". (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

In the stories of August Derleth, Cthulhu's physical appearance is portrayed somewhat differently. Derleth's Cthulhu is far more protoplasmic than most other depictions, a shapeshifting mass with myriads of tentacles sprouting from its body, and a single eye on its face. (AWD: "Something in Wood", "The Black Island")

In the Titus Crow series, by Brian Lumley, it is suggested that the creature encountered by Johansen wasn't actually Cthulhu, but merely one of his Star-Spawn, thus implying that the actual Cthulhu would be even more formidable and difficult to escape from.


After Johansen rammed the Alert into Cthulhu, the creature's body was ruptured like an "exploding bladder" and turned into a "blinding green cloud", which soon started to reform itself. (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

In other stories, Cthulhu has managed to survive the detonation of an atomic bomb (AWD: "The Black Island"), although in Robert Bloch's novel Strange Eons, his physical body is indeed destroyed by the bomb, and he only survives by being reborn in another body.

Since Lovecraft establishes that Cthulhu can never "really die", it's possible that the destruction of his body wouldn't result in permanent death in any case, but something akin to banishment to another dimension or location, as has been demonstrated by other entities of the Mythos, such as Chaugnar Faugn (CIRCLE: The Horror from the Hills) and Byatis (EXP: "The Room in the Castle").


In At the Mountains of Madness, the art work of the Antarctic Elder Things shows that the Star-Spawn of Cthulhu (and thus presumably Cthulhu himself) are made of a type of matter unlike anything on Earth, which allows them "to undergo transformations and reintegrations" that are impossible to life forms made of traditional matter, such as the Elder Things themselves.

Folklorist Albert Wilmarth believes that Cthulhu can exist as a gas and seep through solid rock. (CIRCLE: "The Terror from the Depths")

In Derleth's fiction, Cthulhu is portrayed as a malleable shapeshifter. (AWD: "The House on Curwen Street", "Something in Wood", "The Black Island")

Psychic Abilities

Castro, a Cthulhu cultist, reports that the Great Old Ones are telepathic and "knew all that was occurring in the universe." They were able to communicate with the first humans by "moulding their dreams," thus establishing the Cthulhu Cult, but after R'lyeh had sunk beneath the waves, "the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through which not even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse." (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

It is important to note that the creatures that Castro refers to as the "Great Old Ones" correspond only to the Star-Spawn of Cthulhu, not to any of the other entities referred to as Great Old Ones elsewhere in the Mythos. This is evidenced by Castro's claim that "They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R'lyeh". Elsewhere in the story, Cthulhu is also identified as the "priest" of the Great Old Ones. (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

When a portion of R'lyeh, believed to be Cthulhu's citadel, rose briefly above the surface in 1925, Cthulhu's influence was felt globally by psychically sensitive individuals, with artists and asylum patients being particularly susceptible. All over the world there were "cases of panic, mania, and eccentricity", up to and including suicides. (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

As with other Great Old Ones, statuettes of Cthulhu can serve as a "point of contact" that allow him to manifest himself physically and mentally through the idol. This is not limited to those idols made of extraterrestrial minerals brought to Earth by Cthulhu and his Star-Spawn, but has also been observed with wooden sculptures carved on Earth as well. (AWD: "Something in Wood")

Elemental Nature

In Derleth's stories, the Great Old Ones are portrayed as elementals, divided in four categories that correspond to the Aristotelian system of earth, water, fire, and air. Cthulhu in particular is associated with water (AWD: "The House on Curwen Street", "The Seal of R'lyeh"), and is the "leader of the elemental water powers" (AWD: "The Sandwin Compact"). This makes him inimical towards the forces of air, such as Hastur the Unspeakable, whom Derleth portrays as Cthulhu's half-brother (AWD: "The Return of Hastur").

However, Derleth also wrote that in at least one of the Great Old Ones' conflicts, Cthulhu sided with Ithaqua against Hastur and Cthugha (AWD: "The Black Island"). Given that Ithaqua is also an air elemental (AWD: "The Thing That Walked on the Wind"), this suggests that the alliances and rivalries of the Great Old Ones might not be always based on their elemental alignment.

Although Lovecraft established that Cthulhu is capable of swimming (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu"), he also stresses out that his Star-Spawn were strictly land-based, and built their cities on dry land long before their sinking (HPL: At the Mountains of Madness). The physical appearance of Cthulhu, at least as portrayed in his stone idols, is notable for combining the traits of sea-dwelling life forms (such as tentacles) with others more commonly associated with creatures of the land (such as claws) and the air (such as wings).

Albert Wilmarth's assessment is that Cthulhu "can go anywhere he wants through space, or air, or sea, or earth itself". (CIRCLE: "The Terror from the Depths")

Derleth himself has frequently described Cthulhu as "amphibious". (AWD: "The Dweller in Darkness", "The Watcher from the Sky", "The House in the Valley")

The water elemental B'Moth (ADJ: "The Scourge of B'Moth") is an avatar of Cthulhu (EXP: Ye Booke of Monstres II) that can manifest itself in water, fog or rain, but cannot manifest in the proximity of fire or heat. In common with Cthulhu, B'Moth is also identified as a giant prehistoric entity that lurks at the bottom of the ocean, and can communicate telepathically with its cultists throughout the globe. It feeds on the souls of men and wants mankind to return to the anarchy that existed before civilisation, the "law of the jungle" (ADJ: "The Scourge of B'Moth"), which is similar to how the cultists in "The Call of Cthulhu" claim that in the future mankind would be liberated from social laws and free to relish in violence and chaos.

Death-like State

Although the details vary widely, most sources generally agree that Cthulhu and his Star-Spawn are currently in a death-like state of dormancy, possibly akin to suspended animation, aestivation, or hibernation, from which they cannot emerge without outside assistance from their cultists. The ritual to release them might involve the opening of dimensional gateways, as suggested in The Trail of Cthulhu series. In many cases, it is assumed that they can only return to life when "the stars are right".

This liminal state between life and death is illustrated in Lovecraft's statement that "dead Cthulhu waits dreaming", and rendered poetically in the (in)famous couplet of Abdul Alhazred:

"That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange eons even death may die."


It is unknown how large the throng of those who worship the dreaded Cthulhu is, but his cult has many cells around the globe. The cult is noted for chanting its horrid phrase or ritual: "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn," which translates as "In his house at R'lyeh dead C'thulhu waits dreaming." (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu") This is often shortened to "Cthulhu fhtagn," which might possibly mean "Cthulhu waits," "Cthulhu dreams,"[1] or "Cthulhu waits dreaming."[2] The phrase is often presumed to be in R'lyehian, a language that was brought to Earth by the Star-Spawn of Cthulhu, as stated in "Through the Gates of the Silver Key".

Cthulhu is depicted as having a worldwide cult centred in Arabia, with followers in regions as far-flung as Greenland and Louisiana. (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

There are leaders of the cult "in the mountains of China" who are said to be immortal. Cthulhu is described by some of these cultists as the "great priest" of "the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky." (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

The Cthulhu faith is not monotheistic. Being a devotee of Cthulhu doesn't preclude one from worshiping other (cosmic) deities. Abdul Alhazred, for example, was known to worship both Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. (HPL: "History of the Necronomicon")

Cthulhu cultists believe that, by the time Cthulhu and his Star-Spawn return, humanity will have become like them: an anarchic society free from all laws and morals, whose members dedicate themselves to "shouting and killing and reveling in joy". They also believe that the Great Old Ones will "teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom". The cult has been known to abduct victims and sacrifice them to their deity, although those who have been imprisoned insisted that their allies, the Black Winged Ones, did the actual killing. About the nature of the Black Winged Ones and their relationship with Cthulhu nothing is known, except that they are not the Star-Spawn of Cthulhu. (HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu")

In the past, Cthulhu was one of the gods worshiped by the earliest humans in the prehistoric continent of Mu. Michael Hayward's manuscript describes him as "mountain-tall Cthulhu of the Watery Abyss". (CIRCLE: "The Invaders")

Some sources suggest that Cthulhu was the inspiration for the biblical Leviathan, and that he and his Star-Spawn are the origin (or at least one of the origins) of worldwide legends about winged dragons and sea serpents, with the common motif of dragons and serpents with multiple heads originating as a misinterpretation of the creatures' facial tentacles. (EXP: Cthulhu Dark Ages)

Prof. Laban Shrewsbury, who has authored several books on the Cthulhu myth-pattern, draws attention to the similarities between Cthulhu and "Huitzilopochtli, the War-God of the Quechua-Ayars". According to Shrewsbury, the god Huitzilopochtli was depicted with "serpents issuing from various parts of [his] body", similar to how Cthulhu has tentacles over his body. (AWD: "The House on Curwen Street")

Cthulhu is also worshiped by the nonhuman creatures known as Deep Ones. Like the human cultists, the Deep Ones are also known to sacrifice victims as a "tribute" to Cthulhu (HPL: The Shadow Over Innsmouth). It's not known what kind of relationship Cthulhu has with Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, which are also worshiped by the Deep Ones. Some authors, such as Lin Carter, depict Dagon and Hydra as servitors of Cthulhu.

The K'n-yanians are a humanoid species who worship Cthulhu (a.k.a. Tulu), alongside Yig. The K'n-yanians claim that it was Cthulhu who brought them from the stars to Earth long ago. They also worship the Tulu-metal, an unidentified extraterrestrial element or alloy which doesn't occur naturally on Earth, having been brought from the stars by Cthulhu. (HPL: The Mound)

"Great Cthulhu" is one of the gods that the Mi-Go and their human allies gave praise to in a ritual recorded by Henry Wentworth Akeley. (HPL: The Whisperer in Darkness)

Another extraterrestrial species, the Fishers from Outside, whose abandoned outposts are found in the African rainforests, are also connected to "the evil gods Tsadogwa and Clulu" (HPL: "Winged Death"), possibly hinting that the Fishers from Outside might have worshiped these gods as well.

According to Prof. Shrewsbury, the reptilian inhabitants of the Nameless City were originally an aquatic race that worshiped Cthulhu. (AWD: "The Keeper of the Key")


Cthulhu is an extraterrestrial being who arrived on Earth at some point in the Palaeozoic Era, along with his Star-Spawn. (HPL: At the Mountains of Madness)

Some sources describe Cthulhu in ways that appear to contradict information given in the most well-known accounts. For example, rather than including Cthulhu among the "Old Ones", a quotation from the Necronomicon says of the Old Ones, "Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can it spy Them only dimly." (HPL: "The Dunwich Horror") However, different Lovecraft stories and characters use the term "Old Ones" in widely different ways. In this particular context, the term refers to Yog-Sothoth's species. This might suggest that Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu are related, but not exactly the same type of being. In the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu, Cthulhu is a Great Old One, while Yog-Sothoth is an Outer God.

In At the Mountains of Madness, Human explorers in Antarctica discover an ancient city, the inhabitants of which are crinoid-like creatures, also known as Elder Things, who were at war with Cthulhu and his Star-Spawn. Curiously, in this novella, it is the crinoid-like Elder Things, not their enemies, who are identified as the "Old Ones" or "Great Old Ones" spoken of in the Necronomicon. The discoverers of the Elder Things were able to puzzle out a history from sculptural records:

With the upheaval of new land in the South Pacific tremendous events began [...] Another race–a land race of beings shaped like octopi and probably corresponding to the fabulous pre-human spawn of Cthulhu–soon began filtering down from cosmic infinity and precipitated a monstrous war which for a time drove the Old Ones wholly back to the sea [...] Later peace was made, and the new lands were given to the Cthulhu spawn whilst the Old Ones held the sea and the older lands [...] [T]he antarctic remained the centre of the Old Ones' civilisation, and all the discoverable cities built there by the Cthulhu spawn were blotted out. Then suddenly the lands of the Pacific sank again, taking with them the frightful stone city of R'lyeh and all the cosmic octopi, so that the Old Ones were once again supreme on the planet.
~ HPL: At the Mountains of Madness

William Dyer, part of the Antarctic expedition, also notes that "the Cthulhu spawn [...] seem to have been composed of matter more widely different from that which we know than was the substance of the Antarctic Old Ones. They were able to undergo transformations and reintegrations impossible for their adversaries, and seem therefore to have originally come from even remoter gulfs of cosmic space [...] The first sources of the other beings can only be guessed at with bated breath." He notes, however, that "the Old Ones might have invented a cosmic framework to account for their occasional defeats." (HPL: At the Mountains of Madness) Other stories have the Elder Things' enemies repeat this cosmic framework. (clarification needed)

In another account, there is a reference to "the fearful myths antedating the coming of man to the earth–the Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu cycles–which are hinted at in the Necronomicon." Wilmarth's account suggests that Cthulhu is one of the entities worshiped by the alien Mi-Go race, and repeats the Elder Things' claim that the Mi-Go share his unknown material compositions. Cthulhu's advent is also connected, in some unknown fashion, with supernovae (or possibly metaphorical stars, such as major historical figures): "I learned whence Cthulhu first came, and why half the great temporary stars of history had flared forth." The story mentions in passing that some humans call the Mi-Go "the old ones". (HPL: The Whisperer in Darkness)

Investigations into the activities of the Esoteric Order of Dagon in Innsmouth, Massachusetts has revealed that Cthulhu is also worshiped by the Deep Ones. Although the 1928 government occupation of Innsmouth put an end to the Deep Ones' activities in the area, Robert Olmstead was convinced that "they would rise again for the tribute Great Cthulhu craved", and declared that "it would be a city greater than Innsmouth next time". (HPL: The Shadow Over Innsmouth)

The priest Kathulos of Atlantis (CIRCLE: Skull-Face) is Cthulhu (HPL: Selected Letters 3.421, The Whisperer in Darkness). In Robert E. Howard's Skull-Face, Kathulos is a high-priest and sorcerer from Atlantis described as a "Son of the Ocean", who has the power to mesmerise people and animals. The novella also frequently mentions Kathulos' metaphorical "tentacles", referring to his far-reaching influence via a worldwide secret society of loyal followers.

August Derleth's stories claim that Cthulhu is one of the Great Old Ones, or "Ancient Ones", who rebelled against the Elder Gods and were subsequently imprisoned by them or banished to several locations. Cthulhu in particular was imprisoned in submerged R'lyeh, the entrance to which was sealed by star stones. (AWD: "The Lair of the Star-Spawn", "The House on Curwen Street", "The House in the Valley")

Despite his imprisonment, however, it appears that Cthulhu can be summoned by his cultists, as he has been sighted in other locations, including an underground lake in Peru connected to the Pacific ocean (AWD: "The Gorge Beyond Salapunco") and even the coast of Massachusetts, near Innsmouth (AWD: "The Return of Hastur"). Laban Shrewsbury has dedicated many years of his life to try to locate and close down any "openings" in various parts of the world that might serve as avenues of escape for Cthulhu. Some Derleth stories suggest that R'lyeh is actually in the Atlantic Ocean (AWD: "Something in Wood"), or that it is an immense ring-shaped sunken continent connecting the Atlantic to the Pacific (AWD: "The Seal of R'lyeh"). Given its impossible geometry, it's also conceivable that R'lyeh itself might be interdimensional and accessible from many places, similar to the Plateau of Leng or the cavern of Y'qaa.

At some point in time, Cthulhu might have dwelt on the planet Saturn. (EXP: "The Guardian of the Book", "The Final War")

Family tree

Main article: Family tree of Azathoth

According to correspondence between Lovecraft and fellow author James F. Morton, Cthulhu's parent is the deity Nug, itself the offspring of Yog-Sothoth and Shub-Niggurath. Meanwhile, Nug's twin sibling Yeb is the parent of Tsathoggua. Lovecraft labels Cthulhu and Tsathoggua as the "first of their respective lines to inhabit this planet", and includes a fanciful family tree in which he himself descends from Cthulhu via Shaurash-ho, Yogash the Ghoul, K'baa the Serpent, and Ghoth the Burrower. (HPL: Selected Letters of H. P. Lovecraft 4.617)

However, other authors have expressed different ideas about the familial relations of Cthulhu and the other gods of the Mythos. Clark Ashton Smith, in his letters to R. H. Barlow, suggests that Cthulhu is the offspring of the androgynous Cxaxukluth (itself an offspring of Azathoth), and the brother of Hziulquoigmnzhah and Ghizguth, the latter being the father of Tsathoggua. In another letter to Barlow, however, Smith names Ptmâk as Cthulhu's "immediate parent" and uses the term "child of Nug". It's not clear whether Smith intended the "child of Nug" to be Ptmâk or Cthulhu. (CIRCLE: "From the Parchments of Pnom")

In Neil Gaiman's satirical story "I, Cthulhu", Cthulhu was born in the swamps of Khhaa'yngnaiih, a world with an immense moon that could fill over half the night sky, and a very old sun that eventually exploded. Cthulhu's father was devoured by Cthulhu's mother, who in turn was devoured by Cthulhu. Hastur in this story is Cthulhu's uncle (as opposed to Derleth's claim that Cthulhu and Hastur are half-brothers), and the King in Yellow is an unrelated entity (as opposed to an avatar of Hastur, as he's often portrayed).

In the history of the universe presented in the Unaussprechlichen Kulten of Friedrich von Junzt, it is claimed that Cthulhu is the child of Yog-Sothoth and a female denizen of the planet Vhoorl, in the 23rd Nebula. He also has at least two half-brothers, Hastur and Vulthoom, both sired by Yog-Sothoth on other planets (EXP: "The Horror in the Gallery"), which is consistent with Lovecraft's claim that Yog-Sothoth has fathered numerous children with the native inhabitants of other worlds (HPL: Selected Letters 5.875), as seen in "The Dunwich Horror".

The planet Vhoorl in the 23rd Nebula was first mentioned in "The Guardian of the Book", by Henry Hasse, in which it is the homeworld of a mathematician named Kathulhn, who ascended to a higher plane and made contact with "evil" cosmic entities. Although the nameless book of the story recounts the horrible death of Kathulhn, the alien Guardian of the book cryptically hinted at a connection betwenn Kathulhn and Kthulhu.

Cthulhu is generally presented as a male entity, referred to by male pronouns (HPL: "The Dunwich Horror", et al.), although some sources suggest that it might be androgynous. While the Parchments of Pnom take care to note that Ghizguth and Hzioulquoigmnzhah are male, they don't specify a gender for "Tulu" (CIRCLE: "The Family Tree of the Gods"). Albert Wilmarth once referred to Cthulhu as "he, or she, or it" (CIRCLE: "The Terror from the Depths").

In Neil Gaiman's "I, Cthulhu", the title character's claim that he will eventually die being devoured by his offspring digging out of him, as his mother was (as opposed to being devoured by his mate, as his father was) suggests that he might be biologically female or hermaphrodite. Cthulhu is also able to assume a female form in Dr. David H. Keller's story "The Final War". It is fair to note that both "The Final War" and "I, Cthulhu" are written as tongue-in-cheek pastiches.

Before he came to our Solar System, Cthulhu mated with Idh-yaa on the planet Xoth. His offspring are Ghatanothoa, Ythogtha, Zoth-Ommog (EXP: "The Horror in the Gallery"), and Cthylla (EXP: The Transition of Titus Crow). The Star-Spawn were also sired by Cthulhu on Xoth (EXP: "Papyrus of the Dark Wisdom").

Cthulhu also mated with his sister Kassogtha and sired Nctosa and Nctolhu. (EXP: Nightmare's Disciple)

According to the belief of the monks of Leng, Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep are avatars of the twins Nug and Yeb, a.k.a. Zhar and Lloigor, assumed only when the stars are in the right configuration. These avatars have also been known to walk among men in human form, Cthulhu as the Atlantean high-priest Kathulos, and Nyarlathotep as the Egyptian pharaoh Nephren-Ka. (EXP: "The Strange Doom of Enos Harker")


That is not dead which can eternal lie.

And with strange aeons even death may die.

~ HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu", Abdul Alhazred

They were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape [...] but that shape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to world through the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longer lived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R'lyeh, preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and the earth might once more be ready for Them.
~ HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu", Castro on the nature of the Old Ones

When the stars have come right for the Great Old Ones, "some force from outside must serve to liberate their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented them from making an initial move.
~ HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu", Castro on the Cthulhu Cult

[At the proper time,] the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from his tomb to revive His subjects and resume his rule of earth [...] Then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.
~ Castro, HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu"

The Thing can not be described—there is no language for such abysms of shrieking and immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order. A mountain walked or stumbled. God! What wonder that across the earth a great architect went mad, and poor Wilcox raved with fever in that telepathic instant? The Thing of the idols, the green, sticky spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right again, and what an age-old cult had failed to do by design, a band of innocent sailors had done by accident. After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.
~ HPL: "The Call of Cthulhu"

If Cthulhu exists, then he (or she, or it) can go anywhere he wants through space, or air, or sea, or earth itself. We know from Johansen's account (it turned his hair white) that Cthulhu can exist as a gas, be torn to atoms, and then recombine. He wouldn't need tunnels to go through solid rock, he could seep through it—'not in the spaces we know, but between them'. And yet in his inscrutability he might choose tunnels—there's that to be reckoned with. Or—still another possibility—perhaps he neither exists nor does not exist but is in some half state—'waits dreaming', as Angell's old chant has it.
~ Albert Wilmarth (CIRCLE: "The Terror from the Depths")

Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!
~ Popular Cthulhu chant

In Other Media

Doctor Who

The Doctor first encountered Cthulhu in the novel White Darkness, although the god was only ever referred to as one of the Great Old Ones, and not actually identified by name until the later novel All-Consuming Fire.

In the Doctor Who universe, Cthulhu lies dormant in a cave under Haiti. (EXP: White Darkness, All-Consuming Fire)


The Ghostbusters fought against "Cathulhu" [sic] in New York City after the god was summoned by a ritual conducted by a group of cultists who stole the dreaded Necronomicon. Fortunately, the heroes manage to destroy the monster's body and banish it back to the sea by causing it to be struck by a lightning bolt, having learned that Cathulhu is vulnerable to electricity. (EXP: "The Collect Call of Cathulhu")

In the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu, there is an avatar of Cthulhu known as the Chorazin, a psychic manifestation of Cthulhu which is described as vulnerable to electricity, surprisingly similar to what the Ghostbusters fought in the episode.

The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy

In the animated comedy series The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, "Cthulu" [sic] resides in an otherworldly dimension and acts as a corporate executive, ruling over a company that employs humans transformed into monstrous creatures. The purpose of the company is to send telephone calls to contact more victims that will be transformed into monsters. (EXP: "Prank Call of Cthulu")

In the series, any direct contact with Cthulu is enough to cause madness, although Mandy circumvents this by using a mirror so she wouldn't have to look at it directly.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Cthulhu appears in And Another Thing..., the sixth and final installment of the comedy sci-fi series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, written by Eoin Colfer after the death of the series' original writer Douglas Adams.

In the book, Cthulhu participates in a job interview to become the god of the planet Nano, but the interviewer isn't impressed by his current status of being "dead but dreaming", and the position ultimately goes to the Norse god Thor instead. (EXP: And Another Thing...)

Interestingly, the novel claims that Hastur helped Cthulhu prepare for the interview, suggesting that the relationship between Cthulhu and Hastur is much more amicable in the Hitchhiker's universe than it is in Derleth's stories.


I must admit that I never thought a genius painter and an evil god collaborating could be possible. Honestly, I underestimated that advanced class in general. With those interesting abilities, my assessment of them has leapt skyward like a dolphin from the sea! ...Yes, I know it's actually an octopus...
~ BB Pele, aka Nyarlathotep (EXP: Fate/Grand Order)

Cthulhu (Fate-Grand Order)

Cthulhu appears as an Outer God in the Fate franchise by Type-Moon.

After being summoned by Raum, Cthulhu decided to use the Japanese ukiyo-e painter Katsushika Hokusai as a vessel. Unlike most humans, Hokusai did not succumb to madness from the encounter and was able to blend with the evil god so his drawings would evoke non-Euclidean geometry. Hokusai takes the form of a small floating octopus that is always accompanied by his daughter Katsushika Oui, with the two of them fusing together in their third Ascension. (EXP: Fate/Grand Order)

Another manifestation of Cthulhu was summoned by Gilles de Rais, using the "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh wgah'nagl fhtagn" chant from Prelati's Spellbook. Known as the Gigantic Horror, the eldritch monster attempted to devour the people of Fuyuki City but was defeated by Artoria Pendragon, after getting completely incinerated by her Excalibur. (EXP: Fate/Zero)

The Simpsons

In the episode "Treehouse of Horror XXIX", the Simpsons family go on vacation to the New England town of Fogburyport (a parody of Innsmouth) and Homer enters an oyster eating contest. However, it turns out to be a ruse, as the citizens are revealed to be Deep Ones who were planning to sacrifice them to Cthulhu. Cthulhu nearly devours Homer but spares him when Homer points out that he still owes him an eating contest. The citizens provide Cthulhu and Homer with a mountain of oysters, and Cthulhu loses. Afterwards, the Simpsons family cooked and ate Cthulhu as a reward.

In the comic story "Cthulhu? Gesundheit!", Bart finds a copy of the Necronomicon and uses it to summon Cthulhu to do his bidding. At first, he uses Cthulhu to get revenge on his enemies, such as killing Principal Skinner and some bullies, until Cthulhu goes out of control and starts eating everyone throughout the town. In order to stop Cthulhu's rampage, Bart and his friend Milhouse go back to the Necronomicon but Santa's Little Helper ends up eating the only page that can banish Cthulhu, leading to Bart getting knocked out by one of Cthulhu's tentacles. Shortly afterwards, Bart wakes up and assumes that it was all just a dream. However, this turns out to be not the case, as it's revealed that the entire Simpsons family had been transformed into Lovecraftian monsters, including Bart himself.

In the mobile game The Simpsons: Tapped Out, it's revealed that Cthulhu had a son named M'nthster, who was abandoned as a baby after being traded in for a pair of designer sunglasses.


Main article: Cthulhu/Gallery

Behind the Mythos

George Olshevsky named the nonconvex snub polyhedra after some other Great Old Ones, with the great inverted snub icosidodecahedron as "Cthulhu".

Cthulhu is also the name of a genus of microorganisms which live in symbiosis inside the guts of termites, helping them digest their food. Other life forms named after Cthulhu include a species of spider (Pimoa cthulhu) and a species of moth (Speiredonia cthulhui).


Lovecraft transcribed the pronunciation of Cthulhu as Khlûl'-hloo, although S. T. Joshi points out, however, that Lovecraft gave several differing pronunciations on different occasions. (EXP: The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories)

the first syllable [of Khlûl'-hloo is] pronounced gutturally and very thickly. The u is about like that in full; and the first syllable is not unlike klul in sound, hence the h represents the guttural thickness.
~ HPL , Selected Letters V

According to Lovecraft, this is merely the closest that the human vocal apparatus can come to reproducing the syllables of an alien language.[3] Long after Lovecraft's death, the pronunciation kə-TH'oo-loo became common, and the game Call of Cthulhu endorsed it.

Artistic imagery

Cthulhu has served as direct inspiration for many modern artists and sculptors. Prominent artists that produced renderings of this creature include, but are not limited to, Paul Carrick, Stephen Hickman, Kevin Evans, Dave Carson, Francois Launet and Ursula Vernon. Multiple sculptural depictions of Cthulhu exist, one of the most noteworthy being Stephen Hickman's Cthulhu Statue which has been featured in the Spectrum annual[4] and is exhibited in display cabinets in the John Hay Library of Brown University of Providence. This statue of Cthulhu often serves as a separate object of inspiration for many works, most recent of which are the Cthulhu Worshiper Amulets[5] manufactured by a Russian jeweler. For some time, replicas of Hickman's Cthulhu Statuette were produced by Bowen Designs,[6] but are currently not available for sale. Today Hickman's Cthulhu statue can only be obtained on eBay and other auctions.

External Links


  1. Will Murray, "Prehuman Language in Lovecraft", in Black Forbidden Things, Robert M. Price, ed., p. 42.
  2. Marsh, Philip "R'lyehian as a Toy Language - on psycholinguistics"
  3. "Cthul-Who?: How Do You Pronounce 'Cthulhu'?", Crypt of Cthulhu #9
  4. Burnett, Cathy "Spectrum No. 3: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art"
  5. Cthulhu charms on-sale in Russia
  6. "Other Lovecraftian Products", The H. P. Lovecraft Archive