Anyone familiar with the mind-bending cosmic horror contained within the works of H.P. Lovecraft might be surprised to learn that creatures from his books have a tendency to show up in cartoons meant for children. There is actually a pretty simple explanation for this: because Lovecraft died in 1937, his work has entered the public domain. It should be clarified that not all creatures in the Cthulhu Mythos were created by Lovecraft however, as other writers added to it over the years (such as Hastur, who will be familiar to fans of the first series of True Detective as the King in the Yellow). There is some outstanding litigation about who exactly owns all of the copyright, but that hasn’t stopped people from throwing Cthulhu and the other Elder Gods into their work seemingly without fear of reprisal. Even just changing a letter or two in the name is all it takes to unleash the fury of the dark deities on your favorite Saturday morning cartoon heroes.
7 – The Justice League Kills Ichthultu
As powerful as Cthulhu is, the Justice League probably have a good shot at taking him down (cue fan outrage followed by formulas of exactly how much money and prep time Batman would need to deal with Cthulhu on his own). It might seem like an unusual opponent to put the DC heroes against, but that is exactly what happened in the Justice League Unlimited two-parter named “The Terror Beyond”. The sorcerer Dr Fate gathers together Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Aquaman, and Solomon Grundy in order to battle against a pan-dimensional squid monster named Ichthultu (who is an obvious homage to Cthulhu) and his army of tentacle monsters who resemble other creatures from the Mythos.
So how do they beat him? By punching him right in his stupid squid face! It only takes five members of the Justice League and a C-List Batman villain to stop the Sleeper of R’lyeh right in his tracks. Despite being portrayed as the ultimate evil with unlimited power, Ichthultu is finally taken down by Solomon Grundy, who is often portrayed as a third-rate copy of the Incredible Hulk (even though he precedes him in existence). This proves that Cthulhu is ever wimpier than Loki, who at least withstood a barrage from the real Hulk in The Avengers.
6 – Scooby-Doo vs Char Gar Gothakon
Scooby and the gang are the last people you think would even encounter creatures from the Cthulhu Mythos, considering most of their enemies are ghosts and haunted suits of armour (which almost always turn out to be dudes in costumes). The 2010 series Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated became infamous among fans for having taking a new approach with the series, having a long running narrative and a more adult tone than the previous seasons. It also made lots of references to modern horror such as Twin Peaks and Nightmare on Elm Street, and among these shout-outs was an episode dedicated to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, or as he is known in the series, H.P. Hatecraft.
In the episode called “The Shrieking Madness”, the mystery is around a place called Darrow University where a squid headed monster named Char Gar Gothakon is attacking people with what appears to be supernatural powers. The monster is actually from a book series written by H.P. Hatecraft, who has disassociated himself from his work and lives in seclusion. The villain is revealed to be a man named Howard E. Roberts (a play on Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian), a man who is obsessed with Hatecraft’s work and believes it to be real. He takes on the Char Gar Gothakon persona in order to make others believe that the monster is real, and it’s up to Scooby and the gang to stop him.
5 – Dagon Digivolves Into…
Chiaki J. Konaka is a famous Japanese writer who is best known for creating the series Serial Experiment Lain; he also worked as a screenwriter on the series Digimon Adventure 02. As he was a huge fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft, he decided to do a short story arc in the series that crossed over with the Cthulhu Mythos.
In the episode “His Master’s Voice”, the Digimon cast arrive in a dimension known as The Dark Ocean, a bleak world filled with grey mist and a massive black ocean filled with evil creatures. They travel to the town of Innsmouth (another Lovecraft staple) and encounter creatures called Scubamon who are similar to the Deep Ones. These Scubamon all worship a creature called Dragomon who is only seen briefly at the episode as a red eyed silhouette in the dark ocean, where he looks exactly like the descriptions of Cthulhu.
Dragomon was planned to appear again, but the episode received a mixed reaction in Japan and he never returned. What made the episode so unique is that it had long moments of silence that were meant to build an unsettling mood, something that was removed completely in the dub (where the characters are constantly talking and making jokes throughout). Dragomon has since made appearances in the Digimon video games, where you too can summon the unspeakable god to battle against creatures that are just regular animals with -mon on the end of their name.
4 – The ’80s Lovecraft Toy Monster
The Inhumanoids is a lesser known cartoon series from the eighties, whose only purpose was as a promotional vehicle for selling action figures. Inhumanoids had a different approach when it came to promoting its toys however; rather than having two sides of opposing man-sized forces, Inhumanoids focused on the villains who were giant monsters that battled the army using a dynamic similar to the Godzilla movies. Having these bigger toys meant that they could charge more at retail for them. This tactic backfired, however, and the toys ended up selling poorly, killing any future prospects for the series.
Among the Inhumanoids is a monster named Tendril, who is visually very similar to Cthulhu. Despite the fact that he is technically made from plants, he has a tentacle face and warped green body that greatly resembles Lovecraft’s official description of the god. It is a shame that Inhumandoids is not more well known, as it was incredibly dark for a kid’s show and a Cthulhu like monster would have fit right in with its grim atmosphere.