Cthulhu, in the original story "The Call of Cthulhu", is not very impressive. Its plot ends with it

being defeated by being ran over by a motorboat

and the general moral of the story seems to be that

while the evil, ancient being can be defeated, the foreigners, minorities and people of other races and cultures will always be out there to get us in horrifying ways we cannot imagine.

It's feeble (by the old gods standards), it's simplistic and I don't think it's even all that popular; I was never a huge Lovecraft afficionado, but I have an impression that some other gods, like Shub-Niggurath, Hastur or Nyarlathotep were used more often. So why was it chosen to represent the entire mythos? Surely one of the others would be more representative?

  • 2
    Because Cthulhu is the only one with a defined (unlike Hastur or Azathoth), but unique (unlike Nyarlathotep) appearance, at least as far as Lovecraft's original writings go. Lovecraft even sketched Cthulhu, so there is a definite symbolic image associated with it, and so Cthulhu became by far the most portrayed and hence the representative of Lovecraft's mythos.
    – DavidW
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 16:51
  • 10
    You may want to re-read the story; the spoiler hidden event is not a defeat in any real sense, more of something that allowed for a physical escape. (The elder god was fine -- Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn.) That said, even Lovecraft regarded the story as 'rather middling' -- it's remembered not for it's quality or value but as the start of something that grew into a significant mythos.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 17:15
  • @K-H-W I mean, obviously Cthulhu wasn't defeated completely and permanently, but in that particular encounter he was beat up and forced to let the protags go.
    – VienLa
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 13:33
  • 2
    @VienLa Cthulhu wasn't beaten up, he (?) just gave up the chase, just like a human would give up a chase after an ant that managed to bite you and run away - it's a waste of effort. The characters in the story end up dead or insane exactly that - they know that Cthulhu will return and there is nothing that can stop him. It might be better visible in the movie - imdb.com/title/tt0478988
    – Yasskier
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 20:40
  • @Yasskier Oh. I guess I didn't read it in quite a while.
    – VienLa
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 6:06

1 Answer 1


By reading your spoilers I think you should give the novel another read. The "plot end" is totally not the one you wrote and the morale should change the first "can" with "cannot". Keep in mind that a lot of work around the Mythos was made from other authors. For istance, Shub-Niggurrath appears only in one novel, Hastur is only briefly mentioned once.

Why Chtulhu Mythos?

The was coined by August Derleth, a contemporary correspondent and protégé of Lovecraft wich expanded the universe of HPL, that's it. Lovecraft himslef used the term Yog-Sothothery to describe the Mythos.

  • So I take it that after Lovecraft's death some major developments by other authors changed the setting a lot? IC. I wasn't too familiar with that, just read most of the original stories a long while ago. Thank you so much for including the term "Yog-Sothothery".
    – VienLa
    Commented Oct 10, 2020 at 13:36

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