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GARGOYLE, n.

A rain-spout projecting from the eaves of mediaeval buildings, commonly fashioned into a grotesque caricature of some personal enemy of the architect or owner of the building. This was especially the case in churches and ecclesiastical structures generally, in which the gargoyles presented a perfect rogues' gallery of local heretics and controversialists. Sometimes when a new dean and chapter were installed the old gargoyles were removed and others substituted having a closer relation to the private animosities of the new incumbents.
~The Devil's Dictionary~

In Real Life, gargoyles are statues of grotesque humans and animals designed to ward off evil spirits and channel rainwater from rooftops and spit it out, (hence gargling) away from the building to prevent damage from erosion. Most commonly found on large buildings such as cathedrals.

Fiction, however, has decided that they'd make a great species, so they often appear in fantasy settings (Urban or otherwise) as a race of Winged Humanoids that have a penchant for perching on high terrain. Given their origins, They also tend to have an ability to turn to stone, voluntarily or not.

Another common feature is that any damage done to them while animated can be repaired while statuefied, but destroying the statue kills them permanently.

Traditionally, in folklore, they were benevolent, despite their appearance, which was framed as being frightful to scare demons away from churches, but meeting their gaze was dangerous. This is less common in modern fiction.

Fun fact: the technical term for a gargoyle that doesn't include a rainspout is a grotesque - this means something different on this wiki, although the two can coexist.

Examples of Our Gargoyles Rock include:


Collectible Card Game

  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has a few gargoyle-themed cards, such as the Ryu-Kishin, which even has a Monster Clown variant.
  • ~Magic: The Gathering~ has a a Gargoyle creature type, which has appeared in several sets. They are depicted as creatures made of animated stone, and often flavored as guardians of some sort.
    • Fitting with the set's theme of playing gothic, horror, and gothic horror tropes to the hilt, Innistrad's Manor Gargoyle fits the description above--normally stone, inanimate, and indestructible, it can be animated and becomes vulnerable (though still fairly hardy) and becomes indestructible again once it returns to stone.

Film

  • Gargoyles (1972) has only one of these green, devilishly featured creatures with wings (the other gargoyles we see look more like Lizard Folk). Spawn of the Devil, they work to destroy humanity by kidnapping human women, killing anyone who knows about them, or plotting world conquest for Satan. The Gargoyles makeup effects was done by Stan Winston.
  • The Movie of Tales from the Darkside has a female gargoyle which can turn into human.
  • Curse of the Talisman (2001) has one (rather small-3ft tall) stone gargoyle revived to its life form by a magic talisman which tries to re-awaken the rest of its kin with said talisman.
  • Cast a Deadly Spell (1991) features a Gargoyle which perches on the evil warlock's mansion like an ordinary statue. However he can bring it to life and send it out on missions to spy on people or kill his enemies.
  • Gargoyle (2004) featured a larger than average (10ft tall) demonic entity which was trapped in stone centuries ago. It (and its asexually produced offspring) can only be slain by holy weaponry (specifically a crossbow).
  • Reign of Gargoyles (2007) features Gargoyles as Sealed Evil in a Can that are awakened by Those Wacky Nazis.
  • Rise of Gargoyles (2009) has the monsters as Sealed Evil in a Can (noticing a pattern yet?) in their stone forms.

Literature

  • The gargoyles in Discworld are living statues that live on rooftops and feed on pigeons, and are named after where they're located ("Cornice overlooking Broadway", for example). They are frequently used as Watchmen and to man the clacks system - jobs where being able to stare at a single location for days on end and not get bored is a very useful capability.
    • Also, unlike many depictions of monstrous gargoyles, Discworld gargoyles retain their waterspoutish nature, using their ears and wings to direct rain through the back of their heads and out their mouths, filtering out anything potentially tasty that passes through (especially pigeons). This means that their mouths are always open and their speech is affected quite a bit.
      • It was mentioned once, by either Vimes or Carrot, that the gargoyle was a sort of troll evolved specifically to survive in the city.
  • H.P Lovecraft gives us Night Gaunts, denizens of the Dreamlands and straight out of his childhood nightmares. Humanoid, horned, bat-winged, with slick whale-like skin and no faces at all they often show up in flocks to capture hapless humans and take them to terrible places, tickling them mercilessly the entire way.
  • In Shanna Swendson's Enchanted Inc. gargoyles appear to be statues to the muggles but magical people see them as moving, talking creatures. They are still made of stone, can fly and can gain power from resting on the roof of a church.
  • In the Allie Beckstrom universe, gargoyles are merely statues animated by elaborate and expensive spells -- until Allie accidentally puts her magic into one. "Stone" then becomes a self-powered individual with the intelligence and personality of a dog.
  • In the Codex Alera series, all normal humans have Elemental Powers. Those with earth-controlling powers can sometimes summon and control animate elementals, or sometimes bind them on (or in) walls and buildings to serve as guardians. The physical shape of earth elemental guardians, like all elementals, varies depending on the individual elemental and/or the human controlling them.
  • In Laura Ann Gilman's Vineart War series the Guardian combines this with Our Dragons Are Different as it looks like a stone dragon. It also has considerable magic mojo as lon as it is on the territory it was created to protect.
  • "God Bless The Gargoyles", a children's book by Dav Pilkey, describes the original role of the gargoyle as a symbol of protection, then how people gradually forgot that the terrifying faces were meant to drive off evil and grew afraid of them themselves. The argument here being "for crying out loud show 'em a little love".
  • The Monster Hunters Survival Guide cribs it's Gargoyles mostly from the Disney series, with the Author expressly saying that they're not evil, and can even be allies.

Live Action TV

  • The Doctor Who story "The Daemons" has Bok, a gargoyle animated by Daemonic powers.
    • The Weeping Angels also share most characteristics with gargoyles. They don't usually perch on ledges, though.
  • Gargoyles in Charmed are creatures in statue form who come alive to ward off evil, and are so powerful that not even the Source can get by them.
  • In Special Unit 2 gargoyles are creatures that evolved from dinosaurs. They appeared in the first episode.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons gargoyles are ambush predators that lie perfectly still, passing for stone statues.
    • Unless you're playing the old Basic/Expert/etc version, in which they're constructs.
  • ~Vampire: the Masquerade~ had a vampiric bloodline of Gargoyles, created by clan Tremere as bodyguards.
  • Our Monsters Are Different example verging on In Name Only: Gargoyles in Warhammer 40000 are Tyranid air-attack creatures aka Hellbats. They can't turn into stone, but may have got their name from their tendency to perch atop a larger Tyranid flier called a Harridan.
  • In Rifts, Gargoyles come in five types: The standard Gargoyle, Wingless Gurgoyles, Tiny Gargoylites, and the Gargoyle Lords and Mages, who have the ability to turn to living stone for short periods of time. The largest concentrations are found as Mooks for the Demons of Hades and serving the Splugorth, but a large Empire of them is found in Europe, and is fighting the Human NGR with high-tech weapons and Humongous Mecha of their own.
  • In Changeling: The Lost, one possible character type is the lurkglider, explicitly stated to be gargoyle-like.
  • In Shadowrun there are two species of gargoyle, one four limbed and one Six limbed.
  • The Warhammer Fantasy board game Hero Quest has a gargoyle -- a large winged humanoid resembling a Balrog -- that is a Giant Mook and the toughest normal opponent in the game. Kellar's Keep completes its Moria analogy by having an end boss in the form of an especially powerful gargoyle.

Video Games

  • Gargoyles in Warcraft are bat-like flying undead creatures, who can turn into ground-based statues to regenerate health but cannot attack when they do so.
    • A trash mob in old Naxxramas, the Stoneskin Gargoyle, has become infamous as it possessed the ability to turn into stone at low health, regenerating health fully, ad infinitum. A raid group with too low damage dealing potential could remain stuck on one forever, unable to beat the cast time of the petrification.
  • The Golden Sun gargoyles are flying Winged Humanoids with very high physical defense.
  • The Bloodgoyles from Devil May Cry. They can't be harmed with a sword; it only causes them to separate into more Bloodgoyles, but shooting one with your gun turns it briefly to stone, after which you can smash it.
  • Gargoyles are a recurring enemy in the Final Fantasy series, resembling demonic Winged Humanoids. In at least one game, using a Soft (which cures petrification) on them will kill them instantly - because they're made of stone!
  • In Kingdom Hearts, the Gargoyles are vaguely bat-like flying Heartless that will either melee you or spit magic at you. The sequel introduced other types of Gargoyles that were basically the the stereotypical animated statues.
  • The first Diablo had gargoyles, which were statues until you got too close, and turned back to stone if they took enough damage, making them a lot easier to hit (and surprisingly not much harder to kill).
  • In Blood, there were the flesh gargoyles (stone statues that turned into fleshy demonoid-things) and the mercifully rare stone gargoyles, who stayed stone even after they animated (and were frigging hard to kill).
  • Gargoyles and Deathgoyles are enemy monsters fought in Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones.
  • Gargoyles Quest a Spin-Off of Ghosts 'n Goblins starring everyone's favorite Boss in Mook Clothing, the Red Arremer, known in his own series as Firebrand.
  • Rufus in A Vampyre Story certainly doesn't rock: he has to sit through all sorts of humiliations.
  • Stone Guardian in Guild Wars are found near Kurzick Buildings. They often start as statues that come to life when a player or enemy walks past. Unlike other examples on this page, they are human creations rather than separate species.
  • Gargoyles -- red-skinned, horned, winged humanoids -- pop up in the Ultima series, though in early games they are called "Daemons". Ultima VI reveals more about them: they are a good race living in the Underworld, who follow their own system of values, similar to the human system of virtues. They were enmies in the earlier games mainly due to cultural misunderstandings. The winged gargoyles are the leaders are guides of the non-intelligent wingless ones.
    • The previous installment in the series had a one-time instance of actual stone gargoyles coming to life and attacking you. They were one of the nastiest enemies in the game due to being hard as all hell to kill, and splitting in two when you strike them.
  • Castlevania. Though most of these are Palette Swap Underground Monkey varieties of other monsters, and merely fly and look grey, Order of Ecclesia has the actual turn from stone variety. One prominent example is Gaibon, who was fortunate enough to receive a recurring role, occasional boss status, a loyal teammate, and a position directly serving Death and occasionally Soma.
  • Killer Instinct 2 has a final boss named Gargos and styled after a gargoyle.
  • Gargoyles in Runescape are winged humanoids made of stone, that require a Slayer level to kill. If they're not smashed with a rock hammer once they get below a certain health level, then they're unkillable and regenerate health as fast as one hits them.
  • In Eternal Lands, Gargoyles are one of the weaker monsters.

Webcomics

Western Animation

  • In Jonny Quest TOS in the episode "The House of Seven Gargoyles," one of the gargoyles is a disguised acrobat.
  • Gargoyles is a cartoon in which 6 gargoyles, originally the guardians of a medieval castle in Scotland, are transported to modern-day New York. They Fight Crime at night, and turn into statues to sleep during the day.
    • They are also healed of any injury during their sleep, an extremely useful ability that comes into play several times over the course of the series.
    • This species of gargoyles had variations from all over the world, usually somewhat resembling the local legendary creatures, and always dedicated to protecting some location or population. As the main character explains a few times, it is a Gargoyle's nature to find a place to call home and defend it to the death. When the local humans APPRECIATE this protection, it can work out very well for all parties as the Gargoyles can offer superior strength and resilience to fight off invaders or other threats while the humans can protect them during their vulnerable daylight hours. When the nearby humans DON'T appreciate their presence... gravel supplies tend to swell... Most Gargoyles clans (of those few remaining by the present day) have given up on having anything to do with humans as a result.
  • The gargoyles in the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame come in two varieties: the Comic Relief trio of legless Winged Humanoids who can summon swarms of pigeons and talk, and the animalistic heads that adorn the roofs (one of which turns alive as Frollo clings to it). Turning into stone is only done when they sleep or show Quasimodo he's disappointed them.
    • Although it's questionable whether they're actually alive, or Quasimodo just has an active immagination (he's strong enough to move them around after all).
  • Chernabog in Fantasia is arguably a titanic gargoyle: he looks quite demonic and turns into stone during the day.
  • In the Space Ghost episode "The Gargoyloids", the title monsters are gargoyles - IN SPACE!
  • A flying gargoyle named Pazuzu appears in a Futurama episode, being lambasted by Farnsworth for running away after the Professor put it through college. Apparently it's a biological creature, as it's seen with its offspring at the end. Presumably it was bio-genetically engineered or something.
  • The Son from Star Wars: The Clone Wars can turn into a gargoyle.
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