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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 Expanded Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly. The Deep Ones are an ocean-dwelling race, as evidenced by their name, with an affinity for mating with humans.

They entered a contract with the people of Innsmouth to keep the fish plentiful in their area. They also seem to have a supply of gold artifacts of unearthly design. The Deep Ones worship Father Dagon and his consort Mother Hydra. (HPL: "The Shadow Over Innsmouth")


The Deep Ones are an amphibious race that primarily serve the two beings known as Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, but also have strong ties to Cthulhu. Locked in the timeless depths of the sea, their alien and arrogant lives are coldly beautiful, unbelievably cruel, and effectively immortal. They are a marine race, unknown in freshwater environments, and globally have many cities, all submerged beneath the waves; one is off the coast of Massachussets, near Innsmouth, called Y'ha-nthlei, while other sites, such as Y'lu-Y'loa (off the British Isles), K'toch (off Northern Europe), and Y'ha-gom-loa (off Antarctica) are said to exist.

Deep Ones are immortal until slain (so are any hybrid offspring), and may be worshipped by humans. From time to time, the Deep Ones establish and foster relationships with isolated human communities, offering to trade golden treasures from the depths of the sea, along with bountiful fish catches, in return for certain promises. Such communities eventually fall under the grip of the Deep Ones, and any dissent either evaporates or is fiercely dealt with. Such humans willingly accept the Deep Ones as their master, as the gift they bestow are wondrous (at least, at first), and their god's will is demonstrable in both tangible and beneficial terms - in comparison to human religions based purely on faith alone. Such targeted communities, already rundown and desperate, are eager to accept the riches, food, and promise of immortality offered by the Deep Ones, and, consequently, readily accepts the worship of Dagon, Hydra and Great Cthulhu. In Innsmouth, the Deep Ones' imposed religion was know as the Esoteric Order of Dagon, although elsewhere around the world the names of such orders may vary.

The religion offered by the Deep Ones usually takes the form of certain oaths, offered at rising degrees of "membership", that commit human worshippers to certain agreements. While appearing beneficial and relatively innocent at first, it is not long before the Deep Ones begin to demand more, even to the point of requesting human sacrifices. Such people devote themselves to the Deep Ones, with some eventually taking the Third One, entering into breeding rites to produce hybrid offsprings to further promote the Deep One race.

With such historic links with humanity, the Deep Ones have an extensive network of human (hybrid or otherwise) supporters, who act to further the will of the Deep Ones, which usually takes the form of "disappearing" those who would broadcast knowledge of the reality of the Deep Ones, ensuring human-hybrids can "find" their way to the Deep Ones when the "change" comes upon them, and planting seeds to foster new worship in out of the way communities.


The Deep Ones are humanoid beings with fish, human and amphibian-like traits, they are described as having grey-ish green, glossy and slippery skin with white stomachs. They have scaled, ridged backs, as well as webbed and clawed hands and gilled necks. Notably, they have heads similar to that of a fish, with mouths filled with sharp teeth and eyes incapable of blinking.

They move about in an inhuman fashion, by hopping oddly, and occasionally move on all fours. The narrator, Robert Olmstead, describes them as having abhorrent, croaking voices that spoke a language other than English. Their form was so horrid that their mere appearance caused Robert to lose consciousness for a while. (HPL: "The Shadow Over Innsmouth")

All hybrids are shown coming from a female Deep One and a male human. It is a safety measure based on the fact that both of those possess the limiting growth gene of their own species, otherwise the child would become much larger. It is similar to a liger, a hybrid born from a male lion and a female tigress who never stop growing until their maturity. (EXP: Providence, Alan Moore)

Deep One Hybrids


Deep One Hybrids are, in the main, the progeny of Deep Ones and Human mating. Although the offsprings of such unions are usually born as normal humans, changes in appearance and physiology tend to occur in late teens - commonly know as the "Innsmouth Look". Some are unaware of their heritage and, as the change begins to come upon them, they may feel draw to their birthplacem - Physical changes are accompanied by an awakening of new senses, strange dreams of undersea cities, and a longing to visit seaside locales - particularly ancestral homes or the individual's birthplace. By middle age, most hybrids display some form of gross deformity and such individuals retire to the privacy of their close-shuttered homes. Within a few years, the hybrid undergoes the final transformation into a full Deep One and embarks on a new life in the sea.

Typically, hybrids inhabit remote coastal villages, although they can be found farther afield (particularly in the initial stage of their transformation). As the final transformation takes place, the hybrid either learns to accept their monstrous heritage or goes mad in the process.

Deep Ones and other hybrids who have embraced their ancestry will attempt to lure hybrids to their lairs or places of safety, where they can supervise the final metamorphosis and ensure the hybrid is appropriately schooled in the ways of the Deep Ones. Around 10% of hybrids do not complete the full transformation and are doomed to spend the rest of their life as a half-human half-Deep One, while a further 10% do not undergo the metamorphosis at all, with the Deep One gene essentially skipping a generation - only to manifest in a future descendant (source?).

Deep One Hybrids Summary

As part of their pact with the Deep Ones, the residents of Innsmouth are forced to interbreed with them. Although the Deep One hybrid offspring are born with the appearance of a normal human being, they gradually assume the appearance of their Deep One ancestors. These traits include:

  • Shrunken/nonexistent ears
  • Glassy, bulging, unblinking eyes
  • Narrow, hairless head
  • Sharpened teeth
  • Rubbery, blue-gray skin
  • Clawed hands and feet
  • Folds on the neck which eventually become functional gills
  • Webbing between fingers

When the hybrid becomes too obviously non-human, they go into seclusion in ostensibly abandoned buildings until fully capable of living solely underwater. The rate of progression varies with each individual. However, it normally does not reach completion until the human middle age. Once this transformation is complete they are also functionally immortal. Apart from the physical change they also feel a scorn for humanity, an affinity for the Non-Euclidean artwork of the Deep One race, and an increasingly powerful desire to abandon the human world and go to the Deep One city of Y'ha-nthlei. Asenath Waite is a notable Deep One but she was killed before the transformation could finish.


  • In the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu it is explained that this habit is due to the fact that when an underwater city reaches a certain size, fertility decreases, as the females begin to eat their young.

In popular culture

  • Deep One-like creatures appear frequently in the Hellboy comic, with one of its protagonists, Abe Sapien, being one of a race called Icthyo Sapien. There is also a race of creatures referred to only as "Frog Monsters," which were created in imitation of Icthyo Sapien and closely resemble Deep Ones.
  • Deep Ones appear as enemies in the game Alone in the Dark.
  • The murloc species from the PC game franchise Warcraft are extremely similar to the description of the Deep Ones in The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
  • In the PC game The Witcher, a race of underwater humanoids called the Vodyanoi appears. Some of its members are Dagon worshippers.
  • One of the races that appear in the video game Etrian Odysey 3 and that act as antagonists are the Deep Ones. They live in an underwater city located at the foot of Yggdrasil and their goal is to free the "Abyssal God" (which in turn is a reference to Cthulhu).
  • In her series of novels The Innsmouth Legacy, Ruthanna Emrys uses and subverts the mythology of the Deep Ones and their involvement with the town of Innsmouth.
  • The Deep Ones, along with Father Dagon and Mother Hydra appear in the Fantasy Flight board game Unfathomable, where players are passengers on the ship Atlantica heading across the Atlantic to Boston. On the journey, the ship is attacked by Deep Ones and certain players will be Hybrids who are secretly working with them to sabotage the ship and ensure it does not arrive safely at its destination.

Gallery of Deep Ones

Main article: Deep One/Gallery

Links and references