Watcher in the Water

From Tolkien Gateway
Watcher in the Water
John Howe - Watcher in the Water.jpg
"Watcher in the Water" by John Howe
Biographical Information
LocationLake of Sirannon
Notable forkilling Óin; attacking the Fellowship at the western entrance of Moria
Physical Description
GalleryImages of the Watcher in the Water

The Watcher in the Water was a mysterious and horrific beast that lurked in a lake caused by the damming of the Sirannon river, beneath the western walls of Moria. The full shape of the creature is unknown; its visible parts were its tentacles, which were long, sinuous, pale-green, and luminous, with a fingered end.[1] There is very little known about the creature. Even Gandalf did not know what the Watcher was, or whether there were many of its kind.


In T.A. 2989 an expedition led by Balin attempted to reclaim Moria. Their activity attracted the attention of Orcs, who began to attack the Dwarves. In 2994[2] the Dwarves tried to escape from the mines but were stopped by the Watcher, who killed Óin. When the Fellowship of the Ring found the Book of Mazarbul they read that "...the pool is up to the wall at Westgate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin. We cannot get out."[1]

On 13 January T.A. 3019[3] the Watcher attacked the Fellowship just as they had opened the Doors of Durin to enter Moria. It grasped Frodo by the foot and attempted to drag him into the water. Sam slashed the arm holding Frodo, causing it to release him. The party retreated through the doorway, followed by several tentacles. The creature possessed great strength; after the escape of the Fellowship into Moria, the arms hurled the enormous stone doors shut and uprooted the trees which grew to either side, barring the doors. Silently Gandalf noted that it seized Frodo (as the Ring-bearer) first[1] suggesting an influence by the One Ring.

It is unknown what happened to the Watcher in the following centuries, but the Dwarves succeeded in retaking Moria in the Fourth Age.[4]

Portrayal in adaptations[edit]

The Watcher in adaptations

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

The Watcher is a green, multi-tentacled monster. Only the tentacles can be seen. It takes Bill the Pony and pulls the Doors of Durin shut once the Fellowship is inside the mountains.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Watcher in the Water was made to be slightly different than that in the book. In the book only green slightly luminous tentacles appear. In this film not only the tentacles but a massive head is visible. The tentacles of the Watcher in the Water have a sort of thumb and flat hand. In addition, there is a big sack on the back of the head that fills with air, making it look twice as big. In full form it resembles an octopus with a humanoid face. It has massive teeth in a small mouth, and great eyes set across from each other.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

The Watcher is depicted as a sea serpent-like creature, with several thick tentacles that shoot out of the pool. The player, in the persona of Aragorn, needs to shoot them with a bow to stun the Watcher while Gandalf attempts to decipher the password for the West-gate.

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (video game):

The Watcher in the Water appears in the mission "Gates of Moria", one of several missions in the game that portray events from the Fellowship of the Ring despite the game's focus on the events of The Two Towers. The Watcher is depicted virtually identically to the way it appears in the 2001 film The Fellowship of the Ring, though its tentacles are visible in the lead up to the Doors of Durin instead of solely harrying the party directly in front of the Doors. The player - who can be any of Aragorn, Legolas, or Gimli - must parry the Watcher's tentacle attacks, then slice off a parried tentacle, which will provoke the Watcher to rear its head above the water, where it can be actually damaged with ranged attacks. After a short period, the Watcher will dive back and under and attack with tentacles once more, and this process will repeat until either the player character or the Watcher perishes.

2008: The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria:

The Watcher in the Water first features in the Moria introduction, where it drove off the Dwarves of the Iron Garrison in their first attempt to enter Moria. The need to find a weapon capable of harming it which serves to introduce the player to the expansion pack's new Legendary Item system. After being driven out of the Black Pool before the Doors of Durin, it is encountered and driven off again in the Water-Works of Moria later in the Epic series. Its final appearance was in a twelve-man raid in which the objective is to finally put an end to the creature.

See also[edit]