King Ghidorah (Showa)
|King Ghidorah incarnations|
The entire human race will perish from the Earth. Where the monster Ghidorah passes, only flaming ruins are left.
Having been featured in four films and a television series, the Showa King Ghidorah is the incarnation of the character with the most onscreen appearances to date. An evil extraterrestrial three-headed dragon, King Ghidorah attacked Venus over 5,000 years ago, effortlessly eradicating the planet's advanced civilization. In the 20th century, King Ghidorah arrived on Earth inside of a meteor and prepared to do the same to it. However, Mothra was able to convince Godzilla and Rodan to join forces with her to fight King Ghidorah off and send him back into outer space. In the year 196X, King Ghidorah was now terrorizing Planet X, and was known by the native Xiliens as "Monster Zero." The Xiliens convinced humanity to allow them to bring Godzilla and Rodan to Planet X, where they fought and defeated King Ghidorah once again. However, the Xiiens had double-crossed mankind, and unleashed King Ghidorah, Godzilla, and Rodan on the Earth under their mind control, demanding the planet's surrender. A group of scientists and astronauts were able to sever the Xiliens' mind control and defeat the invaders, while the now free Godzilla and Rodan fought King Ghidorah off once again. Sometime later, King Ghidorah was now under the control of the M Space Hunter Nebula Aliens, and was sent to Earth alongside their cyborg monster Gigan to assist in their invasion. Godzilla and his ally Anguirus both escaped from Monster Island and battled Gigan and King Ghidorah in Tokyo, with the battle eventually moving to the Nebulans' base of operations at World Children's Land. With the assistance of a group of humans, Godzilla and Anguirus were able to send King Ghidorah and Gigan retreating into space. King Ghidorah next returned to Earth as a pawn of the Garogas, and was fought and defeated by the hero Zone Fighter. At the end of the 20th century, the Kilaaks deployed King Ghidorah to battle the legion of Earth's monsters at Aokigahara after their mind control over them was severed. This time, King Ghidorah would not escape with his life, and the space demon was brutally and decisively killed by Godzilla and his allies.
The "Ghidorah" (ギドラ part of King Ghidorah's name comes from the Japanese word for "hydra" Gidora) (ヒドラ, which shares two of its three katakana characters with "Ghidorah." It also, coincidentally or not, sounds very similar to the Hidora)Russian pronunciation of "hydra" (Гидра, ˈɡʲidrə). The addition of "King" (キング) to his name may have been influenced by King Dragon (キング・ドラゴン, the name given to Kingu Doragon)Zmey Gorynych, upon which King Ghidorah's design was based, in the Japanese version of the Soviet film Ilya Muromets.
King Ghidorah's name was pronounced several different ways in the American English-dubbed versions of his first three films. King Ghidorah was referred to as Ghidrah in the American English-dubbed version of Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, presumably because it sounded more like "hydra." In the American dubbed version of Invasion of Astro-Monster, he was called "King Ghidorah," with the "o" syllable unemphasized. He was simply called "Ghidorah" in Destroy All Monsters, again with the unemphasized "o."
In official books, the Showa King Ghidorah is given the subtitle Space Super Monster (宇宙超怪獣 Uchū Chō Kaijū) or Emperor of the Cosmos (宇宙の帝, Uchū no Tei) while the Japanese trailer for Godzilla vs. Gigan gives him the subtitle Evil Companion (悪い仲間, Warui Nakama) in reference to his alliance with Gigan. In Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Maas Doulina Salno at one point refers to King Ghidorah as Venus Hellfire (金星の業火, referencing his destruction of the planet Kinboshi no Gōka)Venus. In Invasion of Astro-Monster, the Xiliens refer to King Ghidorah as Monster Zero (怪物０ Kaibutsu Zero). In Zone Fighter, King Ghidorah is given the subtitle Space Super Terror-Beast (宇宙超恐獣, Uchū Chō Kyōjū) and nicknamed the Supreme Ruler of the Cosmos (宇宙の覇者 by the Uchū no Hasha)Gold Garoga.
The King Ghidorah in Godzilla vs. Gigan and Zone Fighter is sometimes referred to as the Second Generation King Ghidorah (二代目キングギドラ in official books, Nidaime Kingu Gidora) which apparently place the events of Destroy All Monsters, where King Ghidorah is decisively killed, before those of subsequent films. However, the majority of sources do not make this distinction, and the same King Ghidorah is generally accepted to have been featured throughout the Showa series.
King Ghidorah was designed by Akira Watanabe, based primarily on a combination of traditional Chinese dragons and the multi-headed serpent Yamata no Orochi (
Some early promotional stills for Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster reflect this coloration
The suit for King Ghidorah was a joint collaboration between modelers Teizo Toshimitsu, responsible for the monster's heads, the Yagi brothers Kanju and Yasuei, who were in charge of its body and created the inner model for the suit's necks, and Keizo Murase, who, in addition to painting the suit, also created its necks. King Ghidorah's scales varied in size across the different parts of its body, i.e. its necks; body; and legs, which was done in order to optimize its mobility. In addition to the suit, a 3-shaku (approximately 1 meter) prop was created for flying scenes of the kaiju, manipulated by a number of piano wires. Another, larger and more intricately built flying model was also created and used for certain scenes in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, such as the aerial battle between King Ghidorah and Rodan. This model was said to have been so elaborately constructed that it was indistinguishable from the suit at times.
Due to the popularity garnered from his debut in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, it was decided for King Ghidorah to reappear as the primary monster antagonist in Invasion of Astro-Monster. For his appearance in the film, King Ghidorah's original suit was reused, but had to be repaired in several areas. Namely, King Ghidorah's necks were repaired and lengthened, and the wings were reinforced at their bases as well as slightly altered in shape. The gold paint used for King Ghidorah's suit also began to corrode it, resulting in the shape of its heads beginning to wear.
King Ghidorah's heads were manipulated by piano wires, one for each head. In order to operate them, the practical effects staff had to climb atop double-layered scaffolding on the ceiling where lighting equipment would typically be hung from. In a similar manner, for certain scenes where King Ghidorah was required to leap into the air, the entire suit was rigged with piano wires and hoisted up by several members of the staff at a time. King Ghidorah's flying prop would also be employed again for Invasion of Astro-Monster, and would continue to be reused throughout all of the character's subsequent appearances in the Showa series. A mechanical puppet for King Ghidorah, as well as Godzilla and Rodan, were also constructed for long shots. For scenes of King Ghidorah flying while on Planet X, the prop was attached to two monorails on the ceiling of the set.
Three years later in 1968, King Ghidorah was again chosen to star as the main monster villain in Destroy All Monsters, intended to be the finale to the Godzilla franchise, and thus the original suit was further repurposed. A number of repairs were made to the suit by art assistant Jiro Shirasaki, including creating completely new wings around their original framework, made of Indian cloth; affixing new, die-cut scales to the monster's upper body; and hand-making new scales for the lower body and legs out of cut up rubber bicycle tires. The suit was also newly painted with a mix of gold-colored rubber adhesive.
By 1972's Godzilla vs. Gigan, the suit's heads required completely new sculpts to be made, which were created by Nobuyuki Yasumaru. A year later, the suit would be used one final time for the television series Zone Fighter, before being formally retired.
King Ghidorah is a golden, three-headed bipedal dragon. King Ghidorah's three heads sit atop three long necks, and are adorned with two horns, a crescent and a mane of hair. King Ghidorah possesses two large bat-like wings and two long tails tipped with feather-like projections. King Ghidorah stands mostly upright, but with a slight forward hunch. At 100 meters, King Ghidorah is the tallest kaiju featured in the Showa Godzilla series.
King Ghidorah is an evil destructive space monster, and is said to destroy entire planets simply for his own amusement. According to the book Definitive Edition Godzilla Introduction, King Ghidorah only thinks about how to destroy all other creatures. King Ghidorah destroyed Venus' entire civilization thousands of years ago, and attempted to do the same to Earth, only to be thwarted by the planet's monsters. In subsequent films, King Ghidorah was the pawn of various invading alien races who used him as a living weapon of mass destruction to attempt to conquer the Earth. Whenever his alien masters' mind control is severed or interrupted, King Ghidorah tends to become confused and easily overwhelmed by his enemies, forcing him to retreat. King Ghidorah does collaborate with Gigan briefly in Godzilla vs. Gigan without being under mind control, and the two kaiju seem to argue and strike each other in annoyance as they try to kill Godzilla and Anguirus. The 1992 book Special Graphix Godzilla vs. Mothra describes King Ghidorah as a "dignified villain," in contrast to Mechagodzilla being a "nihilistic killer" who is a "consistently coldhearted and composed professional" and Gigan being a "bloodthirsty, ferocious cutthroat."[note 1]
A malevolent space monster, King Ghidorah attacked the planet Venus under his own power thousands of years ago, eradicating the planet's entire civilization in only three days. In 1964, King Ghidorah arrived on Earth inside a meteorite, eventually emerging from it and attacking the planet's cities. After his initial defeat, King Ghidorah would be taken control of by various alien races, losing his history along the way.
Thousands of years ago, King Ghidorah attacked the planet Venus, 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.
When astronauts 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 (怪物０ Kaibutsu 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 JSDF assaulted the Xiliens' hidden base. The Xiliens lost their control over the monsters, while their forces were defeated by the JSDF 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.
When the crew of the 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. Mothra and Kumonga then covered King Ghidorah's carcass with silk and webbing. 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.
As part of their plan to conquer the Earth, the M Space Hunter Nebula Aliens took control of 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 JSDF'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. After some more fighting, Godzilla and Anguirus finally regrouped and assaulted their foes once more, seizing the upper hand. Gigan attempted to retreat and was shot out of the sky, 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 along with Gigan, leaving Godzilla and Anguirus victorious and the Earth safe once again.
King Ghidorah was later taken control of by an evil race of aliens called the Garogas, and was deployed to Earth to destroy a newly-developed invention called the Blue-Green device, meant to reduce carbon monoxide pollution. The approaching King Ghidorah was soon engaged by the Japanese Air-Self Defense Force, but their efforts proved futile against the space dragon. The Garogas held the scientists who invented the device hostage, intending for King Ghidorah to destroy the building, including the device and scientists inside. Luckily, Hikaru Sakimori and his siblings arrived just in time to stop them. Transforming into Zone Fighter, Angel, and Junior, the trio manage to ward off the Garogas.
Later, after the Garogas enacted their Dark Prism operation, planting a crystal-like prism for the Zone Family to recover and eventually leading them into a trap, King Ghidorah appeared once more. Hikaru transformed into his giant Zone Fighter form to combat the Terror-Beast, and attempted to lure him away from the research institute where the Blue-Green device was being held. However, Zone Fighter was greatly inhibited by the Dark Prism, which slowly absorbed the sun's light and left him unable to recharge energy. In this time of need, Hikaru's grandfather Raita unleashed the artificial cloud Bolt Thunder, which bombarded King Ghidorah with a barrage of lightning. Weakened by the Bolt Thunder, King Ghidorah's control over the Dark Prism was severed, and Zone Fighter was able to replenish energy once more. With his energy fully restored, Zone Fighter managed to lure King Ghidorah back into space.
While luring King Ghidorah to Venus, Zone Fighter realized that the monster had disappeared. He returned to Earth to protect his family from the Garogas, only to find that they had been kidnapped. After eventually rescuing his family members, Zone Fighter was given an urgent call to return to the research institute, where he found that several cars had been suspended in midair, deducing it as the work of King Ghidorah. Transforming into Zone Fighter once more, Hikaru rescued the passengers of the floating vehicles, and confronted King Ghidorah yet again. As the titans battled in the city, Zone Fighter was struck in the face by one of King Ghidorah's gravity beams, leaving him blinded. Unable to retaliate, Zone Fighter was forced to revert to human form as King Ghidorah decimated the institute. Returning home, Hikaru's vision was restored, and he decided to face off against King Ghidorah one last time. Successfully luring King Ghidorah to Venus, Zone Fighter managed to defeat the space demon after a vicious struggle, although King Ghidorah managed to escape with his life, something few of the hero's enemies, not even Gigan, were able to do.
King Ghidorah is able to fly up to speeds of Mach 3 in the Earth's atmosphere by flapping his gigantic wings, and exceeds this while flying through space, reaching a speed of Mach 400. He encased himself within a meteorite while traveling from planet to planet in both his original appearance and in Godzilla vs. Gigan.
King Ghidorah, travelling inside of a meteorite, crash lands on Earth in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
King Ghidorah takes off into the air after Rodan in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
King Ghidorah's arguably most famous ability is the golden, lightning bolt-like Gravity Beams (引力光線 Inryoku Kōsen) he spits from his three mouths, also variably referred to as Lightning Beams (電撃光線 Dengeki Kōsen) or Zero Gravity Beams (無重力光線. Mujūryoku Kōsen) 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 uses these beams to cover a large radius or strike multiple targets by firing them from each of his mouths. King Ghidorah can also fire these beams one at a time, demonstrated in Godzilla vs. Gigan when he turns one of his heads to blast Anguirus, who is attempting to sneak up behind him.
King Ghidorah fires his Gravity Beams at Godzilla in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
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.
King Ghidorah is extremely durable and resistant to damage, 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 also holds the distinction of being the only one of the Garogas' Terror-Beasts to survive his battles with Zone Fighter.
King Ghidorah manages to escape unscathed alongside Gigan, even after having been thoroughly beaten by Godzilla and Anguirus in Godzilla vs. Gigan
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 his powers.
In Zone Fighter, King Ghidorah seems to retain his control over gravity/magnetism, managing to suspend several cars midair above a research institute, though how he achieves such a feat goes unexplained.
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. King Ghidorah also tends to become confused when the mind control of his alien masters is severed, which leaves him open and vulnerable to attack.
- Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964)
- Invasion of Astro-Monster (1965)
- Destroy All Monsters (1968)
- Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
- Zone Fighter (TV 1973) [episodes 5-6]
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) [still]
- Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) [stock footage]
- Bye-Bye Jupiter (1984) [stock footage]
- Godzilla vs. 3 Giant Monsters (1984) - Microsoft MSX
- Gojira-kun (1985) - Microsoft MSX
- Godzilla: Monster of Monsters! (1988) - Nintendo Entertainment System / Famicom
- Godzilla (1990) - Game Boy
- Battle Soccer: Champion of the Field (1992) - Nintendo Super Famicom
- Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters (1992) - Nintendo Entertainment System
- Godzilla: Battle Legends (1993) - NEC/Hudson Soft TurboDuo / PC Engine Duo
- Godzilla: Great Monster Battle (1994) - Nintendo Super Famicom
- Godzilla: Giant Monster March (1995) - Sega Game Gear
- Godzilla: Trading Battle (1998) - Sony PlayStation
- Godzilla (2014) - PlayStation 3 and 4 [Kaiju Guide]
- Godzilla: Kaiju Collection (2015) - Android and iOS
- Godzilla Defense Force (2019) - Android and iOS
King Ghidorah in Godzilla vs. 3 Giant Monsters
King Ghidorah in Godzilla: Monster of Monsters!
King Ghidorah in Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters
- Main article: King Ghidorah/Gallery.
King Ghidorah's cackles were produced by an early Electone eletronic organ. His roar was later reused by Tsuburaya Productions for a sound made by Kemur Man in Ultra Q, as well as a telephone ringtone in Ultraman and Fight! Mighty Jack.
- King Ghidorah was the first alien monster to appear in the Godzilla series, as well as the monster that led Godzilla to begin his transition from a villain to a hero.
- Although some subsequent film incarnations of King Ghidorah possess different origins, the Showa King Ghidorah's depiction as a villainous space monster has become a popular trait of the character in non-film media, such as video games and comic books. He is depicted as an evil space monster again in the films Rebirth of Mothra III, GODZILLA: The Planet Eater, and Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as well as the Universal Studios Japan attraction Godzilla vs. Evangelion: The Real 4-D.
- King Ghidorah's appearances in Zone Fighter marked the first time the character appeared in a piece of media without Godzilla, as the latter was absent in these episodes.
- The Showa King Ghidorah's height of 100 meters is said to be 48 times that of a human, with his weight of 30,000 metric tons being equivalent to 7,500 elephants and his wingspan equal to 12.5 planes.
- Stock footage of King Ghidorah from Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster appears in three episodes of the Cartoon Network show Courage the Cowardly Dog; "Nowhere TV", "Courage in the Big Stinkin' City" and "The Tower of Dr. Zalost".
- If King Ghidorah is a dignified villain, then Mechagodzilla has the image of a nihilistic killer. Gigan has a similar image of a killer but his image of a bloodthirsty, ferocious cutthroat serves as contrast, as Mechagodzilla has a strong image of a consistently coldhearted and composed professional. This is because Mechagodzilla is a literal mecha, so its true feelings are unable to be seen. Thus is the charm of Mechagodzilla. / キングギドラを威厳に満ちた大悪役とするならば、メカゴジラはニヒルな殺し屋というイメージがある。同じく殺し屋のイメージを持つガイガンが血に飢えた凶暴な殺人鬼のイメージなのに対して、メカゴジラはあくまでも冷たく冷静なプロフェッショナルのイメージが強い。これはメカゴジラが文字通りメカであり、感情がまったく見えないからであろう。そこがメカゴジラの魅力になっているのだ。
This is a list of references for King Ghidorah/Showa. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
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