In Lyra's home world in both the "His Dark Materials" HBO series and the Golden Compass 2007 movie, aside from daemons in animal form, we only see bears which can talk and have human-like minds and personalities. We don't, so far as I can tell, see any "ordinary" animals such as exist in our world. Curiously, when Lyra sees a cat from our world (HBO series), she seems to take it in stride as "just a cat", even though the only cat-form we are ever likely to see in her home world is someone's daemon.

Do ordinary animals exist in the "daemon" world? If so, why do we never see any? Is it just lack of relevance to the story? If not, how can the daemons be understood as animal forms?

I'm asking in reference to on-screen presentations, not having read the books.


2 Answers 2


This is possibly due to lack of relevance, as you say. Both the movie and the series take a lot from the book, but have to cut a lot of things due to time constraints.

Wikipedia says this about dæmons and animals, though it does not provide a source:

Although dæmons mimic the appearance and behaviour of the animals they resemble perfectly, dæmons are not true animals, and humans, other dæmons, and true animals are able to distinguish them on sight. The faculty or quality that makes this possible is not explained in the books, but it is demonstrated extensively, and is reliable enough to allow humans to distinguish a bird-shaped dæmon within a flock of birds in flight.

The fandom wiki does cite a source in the second book (The Subtle Knife, Lantern slide 12):

When dæmons took the form of an animal, they were never really animals, all other animals would only be able to sense a human.


In the short story Lyra's Oxford, Lyra and Pan got entangled with various birds which are expressly real animals and got saved by a swan (real animal).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.