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🔀 For the pantheon of malevolent entities in the Doctor Who universe see Great Old One (Doctor Who).

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. This subject contains information from the Mythos Adjacent Works, and while share similar themes and features of the Mythos are not based on his work, or generally considered a part of the Mythos proper. 🐙 The Great Old Ones are a group of unique, malignant beings of great power in the fictional cosmology of the Cthulhu Mythos. Cthulhu, H. P. Lovecraft's famous creation, is described as a Great Old One. They reside in various locations on Earth, and once presided over the planet as gods and rulers.

In Lovecraft's Fiction

Lovecraft uses the phrase "Great Old Ones" in just two of his stories. In "The Call of Cthulhu," it's how the captured Cthulhu cultists refer to the entities they worship:

They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died.

More information on the Great Old Ones comes from Old Castro, one of the few sane members of the cult:

These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of flesh and blood. They had shape—for did not this star-fashioned image prove it?—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.

Castro looks forward to a time when humanity will "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."

In At the Mountains of Madness, the discovery of traces of evolutionarily advanced creatures in Antarctic sediments a billion years old prompts the Miskatonic University biologist Lake to "whimsically recall the primal myths about Great Old Ones who filtered down from the stars and concocted earth-life as a joke or mistake."

Dyer, the story's narrator, later declares that the starfish-headed crinoids known as the Elder Things are

. . . above all doubt the originals of the fiendish elder myths which things like the Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon affrightedly hint about. They were the Great Old Ones that had filtered down from the stars when earth was young—the beings whose substance an alien evolution had shaped, and whose powers were such as this planet had never bred.


In the broader Cthulhu Mythos, the Great Old Ones are often distinguished from the more cosmically placed entities such as Azathoth, Nyarlathotep, and Yog-Sothoth--known as the Outer Gods--and from alien but less godlike creatures such as the Chthonians, the Deep Ones, the Elder Things, and the Mi-Go. Yet this distinction is unclear at times, in part because the terminology is not always consistent; for instance, Nyarlathotep, despite his marked interest in Earth and its culture, is generally considered to be one of the Outer Gods instead of a Great Old One. On the other hand, Hastur has several avatars and is generally based in outer space, but he is still considered a Great Old One. There are conflicting views on the proper classification for Shub-Niggurath.

Very few people dispute that Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth are Outer Gods instead of Great Old Ones, although some accounts make them ancestors of a few Great Old Ones. This has led to the theory that "Great Old One" is the term for everything younger than Cthulhu and Tsathoggua, and "Other God" or "Outer God" to be everything older.

Known Great Old Ones

The Lovecraft Circle Mythos

Derleth Mythos

The Expanded Mythos

The Adjacent Mythos

In Popular Culture

  • In the Marvel Multiverse, the Great Old Ones (also known as the "Many-Angled Ones") are often confused with the Outer Gods (Azotharoth and Yog-Sothoth) and Other Gods (Nyarlathotep), leading to them being classified in the same group. H. P. Lovecraft of Earth-616 wrote about the True Fairies as the Old Ones.
  • The Great Old Ones also appear in the Doctor Who franchise. It must be taken into account that the notion of the Outer Gods doesn't exist in the Whoniverse. Therefore, those that are in the Cthulhu Mythos are listed as Great Old Ones instead. Likewise, the so-called "Elder Gods" in this franchise are the most active Great Old Ones in the universe, often playing cosmic games among themselves.
  • In the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen universe, the Great Old Ones (collectively known as the Lloigor) are the individual components or manifestations of an "idea-colony" known as Yuggoth: a metaphysical hive-mind that also functions both as a place and a deity. Despite being part of a greater whole, each of these manifestations has a name, distinct attributes, and an elemental species that serves them. (EXP: "Allan and the Sundered Veil")


Main article: Great Old One/Gallery