King Ghidorah (キングギドラ, Kingu Gidora) is a giant three-headed dragon hydra and Godzilla's arch-enemy. Ghidorah first appeared in the 1964 film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster and since then has become one of Godzilla's most famous recurring enemies.
King Ghidorah is a large, three-headed, wyvern-like kaiju with two large wings and two tails. He is usually shown to be bigger than Godzilla in size. In the Showa era, King Ghidorah is 100 meters tall with a 150 meter wingspan and weighs 30,000 tons. In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, he is 150 meters tall with a 175 meter wingspan and weighs 70,000 tons. In Rebirth of Mothra III, Ghidorah is 60 meters tall with an 80 meter wingspan and weighs 50,000 tons. In GMK, he is 49 meters tall with a 93 meter wingspan and weighs 20,000 tons.
The origins of King Ghidorah vary from film to film, but he is most often depicted as being an otherworldly creature of malicious intent. In the Showa era, Ghidorah is an evil space monster responsible for wiping out all life on many planets across the universe. Earth is just one of his targets, but he is usually opposed by Godzilla, as well as other monsters like Mothra and Rodan. In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Ghidorah is the result of three genetically engineered creatures from the future called Dorats being fused together in a nuclear explosion. In Rebirth of Mothra III (1998), Ghidorah was said to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, and in modern times attempted to feast on humanity's children. In Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), Ghidorah is an ancient Yamata No Orochi guardian meant to protect humanity alongside other guardians like Mothra and Baragon. In Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019), Ghidorah is once again an extraterrestrial being who came to Earth to destroy all life, but also to usurp Godzilla's position as king of the monsters.
Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
King Ghidorah came to Earth in a meteor in 1964, intending to wipe out all life on the planet. Ghidorah emerged from the meteor and flew across Japan, ravaging city after city with his gravity beams. Mothra attempted to stop Ghidorah, but she was beaten by the powerful dragon. Godzilla and Rodan witnessed the battle and decided to put aside their differences to help Mothra stop Ghidorah. Together, the three monsters forced Ghidorah to retreat back to outer space.
Invasion of Astro-Monster
A year later, Ghidorah fell under the control of an alien race called the Xiliens, who intended to use him in their plan to colonize Earth. The Xiliens pretended that their planet was under constant attack by Ghidorah and asked to "borrow" Godzilla and Rodan from Earth to stop him. The Earthlings agreed, and Godzilla and Rodan were taken to the Xiliens' home planet of Planet X. Godzilla and Rodan defeated Ghidorah there, leaving the humans satisfied that they were seemingly rid of Godzilla and Rodan. However, the Xiliens soon released all three monsters on Earth under mind control and demanded that Earth surrender to Planet X. Fortunately, the humans were able to defeat the Xiliens' forces and free Godzilla and Rodan from mind control. Godzilla and Rodan joined forces once again and drove Ghidorah back to space.
Godzilla vs. Gigan
In 1972, the aliens from the Space Hunter Nebula aliens took control of King Ghidorah, along with their own cyborg monster, Gigan, and sent them to Earth to conquer it. Godzilla and his ally Anguirus teamed up against Ghidorah and Gigan and after a difficult battle forced the space monsters to retreat.
The next year, Ghidorah was an agent of the Garoga aliens, who sent Ghidorah to Earth once again. Ghidorah was driven off by the alien hero Zone Fighter on multiple occasions.
Destroy All Monsters
In the year 1999, King Ghidorah was under the control of the Kilaakian aliens. The Kilaakian sent Ghidorah to kill the Earth monsters when the humans sent them to destroy the Kilaakian's Earth base. Despite his size and power, Ghidorah was helpless against the combined forces of Godzilla, Anguirus, Rodan, Mothra, Minilla, Gorosaurus, Manda, Kumonga, Baragon, and Varan. Ghidorah was knocked to the ground and stomped to death by the Earth monsters. Ghidorah's lifeless body then fell into a fissure in the ground and exploded.
Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah
A group of radical terrorists from the 23rd century traveled back to 1945 to Lagos Island, a Godzillasaurus' home before he was exposed to radiation and became Godzilla. The Futurians removed Godzilla from the island and in his place left three genetically engineered pets called Dorats. The Dorats were fused together into one gigantic three-headed monater by the Castle Bravo nuclear bomb test. The monster was then known as King Ghidorah and in the present day, became the pawn of the Futurians. King Ghidorah destroyed Fukuoka and brought the Japanese government close to surrendering to the Futurians' demands before Godzilla suddenly appeared, still in existence despite the Futurians' time tampering. The Futurians ordered Ghidorah to kill Godzilla. Godzilla was nearly defeated by Ghidorah until the Futurians' control over him was interrupted. Godzilla seized the opportunity and defeated Ghidorah, decapitating his middle head using his atomic breath and blasting out his wings, sending King Ghidorah plummeting into the ocean.
In the 23rd century, Emmy Kano, a former member of the Futurians, converted Ghidorah's preserved body into a cyborg known as Mecha-King Ghidorah. Mecha-King Ghidorah was sent to the present to battle Godzilla, who was attacking Tokyo. Godzilla and Mecha-King Ghidorah battled once again, this time with Mech-King Ghidorah gaining an advantage over Godzilla and carrying him into the air. Mecha-King Ghidorah carried Godzilla over the ocean, but Godzilla blasted out his wings and sent both monsters plummeting into the ocean. Although Mecha-King Ghidorah was destroyed, Godzilla would arise yet again.
Rebirth of Mothra III
King Ghidorah arrived on Earth at the end of the Cretaceous period and caused a catastrophic extinction event, which ended the age of the dinosaurs. Thankfully, a race of giant advanced moths drove Ghidorah into space. Ghidorah returned millions of years later to feed on the human race. He began to trap children in a giant dome and absorb their life force. Mothra Leo, the last living descendant of the ancient moths that drove Ghidorah away, tried to battle Ghidorah, but was easily defeated. The Elias transported Leo back in time, hoping that he could defeat Ghidorah's younger form, Cretacious King Ghidorah. Leo destroyed Ghidorah in the past, leaving only one tail intact. When Leo returned to the present, King Ghidorah was still there, having regenerated his entire body from the tail. Leo transformed into Armor Mothra and battled Ghidorah again, this time destroying him for good.
Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack
King Ghidorah was once a Yamata no Orochi, a legendary eight-headed dragon from Japanese mythology. Ghidorah was slain by ancient Japanese warriors and laid to rest in a cave. The warriors prayed for Ghidorah's soul, believing that he would return one day to protect Japan, along with his fellow guardian monsters Mothra and Baragon.
In the present day, the prophet Isayama awakened the three guardian monsters to stop Godzilla, who returned after almost 50 years. Ghidorah was the last guardian to be awakened, and only had time to regrow three of his heads. Ghidorah flew to Yokohama, where Godzilla was doing battle with Mothra. Godzilla easily handled the weaker Ghidorah, knocking him unconscious before destroying Mothra with a blast of his atomic breath. Mothra's spirit entered Ghidorah, reviving him and turning him into King Ghidorah, the Thousand-Year Old Dragon. King Ghidorah deflected Godzilla's beam back at him, knocking Godzilla into the bay. Ghidorah flew over the bay and engaged Godzilla in battle. Ghidorah bombarded Godzilla repeatedly with his golden gravity beams, angering and hurting Godzilla. Godzilla managed to absorb the energy from the beams and combined it with his atomic breath, unleashing a powerful blast that completely destroyed Ghidorah. However, the combined spirits of all three guardians entered a wound on Godzilla's shoulder, eventually causing Godzilla to blow himself up with his own atomic breath.
Godzilla Anime Trilogy
Godzilla: The Planet Eater
In the past, an alien race known as the Exif discovered Ghidorah, a destructive monster that existed in another universe. The Exif came to worship Ghidorah as a god, referring to him as The Golden Wings of Destruction, and developed a sacrificial ritual to summon him, believing destruction at his hands to be salvation. After Ghidorah destroyed their home planet, the surviving Exif spread out across the universe, looking for other races to convert to their religion so that Ghidora might feed on them as well.
After humanity's return to Earth, Exif priest Metphies summoned Ghidora once more. Ghidorah fought with Godzilla Earth and proved to be nigh invincible, able to bend space to deflect Godzilla's atomic breath, phase through physical attacks, bypass Godzilla's shield, and siphon Godzilla's heat-based attacks. Once Metphies was defeated by Haruo Sakaki, however, Ghidora lost its anchor to the universe and became vulnerable, and was quickly dispatched by Godzilla. With his dying breath, Metphies confirmed that, despite seemingly being destroyed, Ghidorah still lived, watching and waiting to be summoned again.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Ghidorah, translated by Dr. Ilene Chen to mean One Who Is Many, was believed by ancient civilizations to be a god who fell from the heavens eons ago. In actuality, he is an extraterrestrial being from an unknown world. Sightings of the three-headed dragon throughout history became the inspiration for mythologies, such as the Lernaean Hydra of Ancient Greece or the Yamata no Orochi of Japanese mythology. Cave paintings and hieroglyphics depicted Ghidorah and Godzilla as having once been rival alphas battling for dominance over the world. At some unknown point in time, Ghidorah became imprisoned in the glacier of Antarctica, where he laid dormant for countless centuries. He was only discovered by Monarch shortly after the San Francisco incident of 2014 and was believed to be an alpha among titans similar to Godzilla. Fearing his power, Monarch kept his exitance off-book, dubbing him 'Monster Zero'.
In present day, Ghidorah is finally awoken from his slumber by Monarch scientist Dr. Emma Russell, who believes she can control the titans into reestablishing a natural balance. Unfortunately, Ghidorah hijacks this plan by taking control of every titan in the world, commanding them to recognize him as their alpha and terraform the planet into his kingdom. This upsets the natural order of the world and attracts the attention of Godzilla. With the combined effort of Mothra and the full force of Monarch's military, Godzilla confronts Ghidorah in Boston in order to put an end to his reign and take back the throne. Amidst the chaos, Mothra sacrifices herself so that Godzilla can absorb her life force and become stronger. Through a series of concussive nuclear blasts radiating from his body, Godzilla melts Ghidorah away until he is nothing but a severed head, which Godzilla proceeds to devour alive before incinerating with his atomic breath. With Ghidorah defeated, Godzilla reclaims the mantle as king of the monsters.
- Gravity Beams - King Ghidorah's signature attack is his ability to spit powerful gravity beams from his three heads. Ghidorah's gravity beams can singe Godzilla's skin and level entire city blocks in one hit.
- Durability - King Ghidorah's scales are incredibly thick and cannot be pierced with conventional weaponry. Even Godzilla's atomic breath cannot pierce through the scales, only burn them.
- Supersonic Flight - King Ghidorah can fly at mach 3 on Earth, and presumably is able to fly at light speed through outer space.
- Hurricane Winds - Ghidorah's wings can produce powerful hurricane force winds capable of blowing away buildings with ease or knocking enemies like Godzilla over.
- Thunder Spark - King Ghidorah can withhold his gravity beams and release a strong electric surge through his bite.
- Energy Shield - Ghidorah can surround himself in a golden energy shield that can absorb projectile attacks and fire them back at their source with increased force.
- Light Barrier - King Ghidorah's scales can manipulate light from energy-based attacks and form a protective barrier.
- Wing Lightning - King Ghidorah can fire six bolts of powerful lightning from his wings.
- Dome - King Ghidorah is able to create a gigantic dome which can pull lifeforms inside of it with tentacles. The dome drains its victims' life force and transfers it to King Ghidorah, making him stronger. The dome is completely impenetrable and has a corrosive effect on anything that tries to escape it.
- Meteorite - King Ghidorah is able to encase himself within a meteorite which has magnetic properties and travel to planets while inside of it.
The front of King Ghidorah's necks are not covered in scales, and have been exploited as a weak point by Godzilla and his allies. Godzilla's atomic breath was able to sever Ghidorah's middle head by hitting him directly in the front of the neck. If Ghidorah is pinned down, he can be made helpless and attacked mercilessly by his enemies. Despite his great power, King Ghidorah has attempted to retreat from Godzilla multiple times when the tide of battle has been turned against him. King Ghidorah often relies on orders being relayed to him by his masters and when this communication is severed he is often left confused, giving his enemies an opportunity to attack him.
King GhidorahKing Ghidorah's base form is a golden dragon with scales, two wings, three long heads, and two tails.
DoratDorats are small genetically engineered pets from the future. Three Dorats were placed on Lagos Island in 1945 by time-traveling terrorists and later exposed to the Castle Bravo bomb test, which merged and mutated the Dorats into King Ghidorah.
Mecha-King GhidorahAfter being defeated by Godzilla in the present, King Ghidorah was resurrected as a cyborg in the 23rd century and sent back in time to fight Godzilla. In his cybernetic form, Ghidorah can fire gravity beams from his two organic heads and a plasma laser from his robotic head. Mecha-King Ghidorah possesses electrical capture cables and a massive machine hand it can use to grab and immobilize Godzilla.
Cretaceous King GhidorahKing Ghidorah's younger form was powerful enough to cause the Cretaceous extinction single-handedly. Cretaceous King Ghidorah retains his older form's powers except for his gravity beams, instead possessing the ability to spit fireballs.
King Ghidorah (GMK)After being awakened from his several thousand-year slumber, King Ghidorah emerged with his wings folded and without the ability to spit gravity beams. King Ghidorah's only major power is the ability to release an electric shock through his bite.
Guardian King Ghidorah (GMK)After absorbing Mothra's spirit, King Ghidorah's wings unfold and he becomes surrounded in a golden energy shield. In this form, King Ghidorah can spit powerful gravity beams and even breathe underwater.
King Ghidorah (MonsterVerse)
King Ghidorah came to Earth with the intention of terraforming the planet into his own kingdom and dominating the other titans. His abilities include rapid cellular regeneration, electrical and nuclear energy absorption, incinerating gravity beams, and hurricane generating wings, as well as twin tails that both end in a spiked club.
- King Ghidorah is one of three monsters besides Godzilla himself to appear in all four eras of Godzilla films, the others being Mothra and Rodan.
- King Ghidorah's name comes from the Japanese translation of the word "hydra", "hidora."
- King Ghidorah directly inspired two other monsters, Death Ghidorah and Keizer Ghidorah, that appeared in later Toho kaiju films.
- King Ghidorah is considered to be Godzilla's true arch-enemy, and has never teamed up with Godzilla in any medium.
- King Ghidorah was designed based only on Eiji Tsuburaya's instructions that "It has three heads, two tails, and a voice like a bell."
- King Ghidorah's design was inspired by the Hydra from Greek mythology, the Yamata no Orochi from Japanese mythology, and the Wyvern. Ghidorah was given three heads rather than eight because Tsuburaya felt eight heads was too excessive.
- King Ghidorah's original color scheme was a purple body with rainbow-colored wings.
- In Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah and Rebirth of Mothra III, King Ghidorah reused Rodan's roar rather than his own signature cackle.
- After the box office success of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Toho intended to make a direct sequel entitled The Return of King Ghidorah, which was also the name of an early draft of Godzilla vs. Gigan. In this film, King Ghidorah would be given an extraterrestrial origin similar to his origin in the Showa series. Instead, the film Godzilla vs. Mothra was made instead and King Ghidorah would not appear again until Rebirth of Mothra III.
- King Ghidorah's role in GMK was originally filled by Varan, but Toho forced Shusuke Kaneko to work King Ghidorah and Mothra into the film. Despite Varan being scrapped, some of his facial features were placed on Ghidorah's heads. This is also why King Ghidorah is a hero and appears so much smaller in GMK.