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Wendigo

The Wendigo, the Wendigo
I saw it just a friend ago
Last night it lurked in Canada
Tonight on your veranada!

Also spelled Windigo, Weetigo and Wetiko among others (depending on the language and region), the Wendigo is a human being turned into a cannibal monster in the belief systems of several Algonquian peoples.

The causes of this transformation and the Wendigo's general appearance vary from region to region. Some lores have it that eating human flesh is what makes you turn into one, but in others you can become one just by coming across a Wendigo or by being possessed by the spirit of a Wendigo. Its most common description is a dreadfully skinny giant of ice devoid of lips and toes. The more it devours, the larger it grows, and thus it can never find enough food to satisfy its hunger. In the mythologies of several Amerindian Nations, the Wendigo can revive if you don't destroy its body entirely, which may lead to Kill It with Fire. More info on the Other Wiki.

A potent source of Nightmare Fuel. Not to be confused with the Bigfoot/Sasquatch, though some writers connect the two anyway. Also not to be confused with the Slender Man film of the same name.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Wendigomon is the villain for the first Digimon Adventure 02 movie (though it is never identified as such). It is a corrupted evolved form of Wallace's Chocomon (infected by a virus, and referred to solely by that name in the movie), compared to Turuiemon, named for the Festival of Rabbits. It's a Wendigo with stretching arms, ice breath, and giant laser cannons that burst out of the flesh in its chest. Early American Bandai materials mistakenly called it Endigomon, while it Japan it is known as Wendimon.
  • One of Chopper's transformations looks oddly like this, only with prongs and a top hat. It still manages to be terrifying, even for the cutest character of the crew.

    Comicbooks 
  • In Marvel Comics, anyone who eats human flesh in the frozen north becomes a Wendigo. The creature is best known as a villain of the X-Men and spinoff team Alpha Flight, but has tangled with Spider-Man and others. In fact, he seems to be the standard villain for superheroes visiting Canada. It's well-known for shouting its Catch Phrase: "WEN-DI-GOOOO!"
    • It's a common Incredible Hulk villain too, having made its first Marvel appearance in his book. (And its second story in that book was the first appearance of Wolverine, giving the association more historical weight than it might otherwise have.)
    • In Earth X, Multiple Man is transformed into one when he eats one of his own doubles to survive. He doesn't lose his self-duplication powers.
    • Todd McFarlane infamously used the Wendigo as a poor, misunderstood victim during his Spider-Man run.
    • An issue of Amazing Spider-Man, pencilled by Charles Vess, featured a demonic spirit called Wendigo who descended upon New York during a fierce blizzard. No relation(that we are aware of) to Marvel's regular Wendigo.
  • A run of B.P.R.D. involved a Wendigo curse being transmitted from person to person.
    • This one is a particular Tear Jerker, since the Wendigo retains his memories as a family man, though he had been unaware that his family thought him dead and had moved on. He is told that he will eventually lose his humanity, and when he asks Abe and Hellboy to kill him, is told that it won't work, since the only way to break the curse and let him die peacefully is to kill someone else and pass the curse on. HB and Abe regretfully inform the Wendigo that they have no choice but to lock him up. The last shot of him curled up in his cell with nothing but a photo of him with his family for comfort makes this example something of a Woobdigo, particularly as it's clear he'll eventually forget who they are, and may be starting to already.
  • In Don Rosa's "War of the Wendigo", Scrooge McDuck investigates reports of wendigo attacks at a lumber mill of his in Canada. Said wendigo turn out to be the Peeweegah Indians from "Land of the Pygmy Indians" by Carl Barks, who once again have to teach Scrooge a Green Aesop.
  • Ithaqua from the Cthulhu Mythos makes an appearance in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen when it accidentally takes over Allen Quartermain's body while he's astral-projecting. Ithaqua was perfectly happy to be a nightmarish mass in an infinite void of space, and isn't particularly pleased to be in Quartermain's disgustingly alien, human meat-body.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • The 2001 American horror movie titled Wendigo. The Wendigo in this is a deer-headed man that may or may not exist. The movie leaves it up to the viewer but the more likely explanation for the cannibals in the movie are real psychological problems. See the Real Life section below.
  • The Wendigo Myth features prominently in Ravenous. In the film, eating human flesh is addictive and gives you super-strength.
  • The same author/director of Wendigo used the wendigo in his 2006 film, The Last Winter.
  • Ghostkeeper, where an insane woman keeps the Wendigo that was once her son locked in the basement.

    Literature 
  • "The Wendigo" by Algernon Blackwood, which introduced the legend and influence the modern version of this trope.
  • In the Cthulhu Mythos, Ithaqua is a Great Old One who lives in the North and was inspired by the legend of the Wendigo. Blackwood's short story was the inspiration for The Wind-walker.
  • The second book in the gory Monstrumologist series is called Curse of The Wendigo. It has been confirmed that a super creepy version that is "neither living or dead version of the Wendigo" will be the main antagonist....
  • One of Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. In that story, the Wendigo is more of a spirit of wind and frostbite, although there are still cannibalistic overtones (the two men are starving). The Wendigo calls you out of the tent with its eerie, windblown song, and makes you run until your feet burn away, and makes you keep running after that.
    Oh, my fiery feet! My burning feet of fire!
    Diego lifted up the hat, and screamed. There was nothing beneath the hat but a pile of ashes.
  • The Wendigo is discussed, and it is ambiguous as to whether it's actually encountered, in the novel Bonechiller. The dad of the protagonist's love interest describes to them a legend about one.
  • The Indian burial ground, and the path leading to it, from Stephen King's Pet Sematary were frequented by the Wendigo. (Whether this was the cause or the result of the curse on that area isn't made clear.) At one point, the protagonist nearly meets the Wendigo, but it's a foggy night so he's spared from seeing it.
    • The burial ground having "gone sour" is connected to cannibalism. Later, it's heavily implied creatively euphemized that the resurrected Gage engaged in this.
  • Two well known poems address the wendigo. Ogden Nash's "Wendigo" uses the legends as a source of humor but Louise Erdrich's "Windigo" is more serious, claiming the only way to kill a windigo is to melt its frozen heart.
  • Such a creature is mentioned in Michael D. O'Brien's novel Eclipse of the Sun by a young boy called Arrow.
  • In The General by David Drake and S.M. Stirling, the Skinners, descended from French Canadians, refer to Raj Whitehall as the "Gran' wheetigo," translated in-story as the "Big Devil."
  • The Wendigo myth features prominently in the novel Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden.
  • Wendigo, a horror novel by Graham Masterton.
  • The Mercedes Lackey short story "Ghost in the Machine" in "Trio of Sorcery" featured a MMORPG enemy infected with a Wendigo spirit.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Showed up in the second episode of Supernatural. Par the course, it's formerly human, feeds on human flesh, and lives in the woods. It also only feeds once every 23 years, and keeps some of its victims in storage.
  • One of these possesses a man in the Fear Itself episode "Skin & Bones".
  • One of these appeared in an episode of Charmed, entitled "The Wendigo", in which it bit Piper and she proceeded to turn into a Wendigo herself. However it was a Wendigo In Name Only, more of a case of Our Werewolves Are Different.
  • Done on Blood Ties.
  • A Wendigo is the titular Monster of the Week on an episode of Lost Tapes in the form of a lost hiker who kills and eats a severely injured friend, before killing and eating the other friends on the trip.
  • A Wendigo is often referred to and hinted at in Twin Peaks, but we never see it clearly.
  • In Grimm, Wendigos are Wesen who eat humans and hide their remains under their lair.
  • In Hannibal a deer with raven feathers is used as a recurring Animal Motif in Will Graham's dreams and hallucinations, and Word of God confirms that it represents a Wendigo. Given who the title character is it's fairly obvious who the Wendigo is supposed to be. In the season 1 finale, Will hallucinates that Hannibal is a humanoid Wendigo, with a black, emaciated body and antlers. The humanoid Wendigo then continues to symbolize Hannibal in Will's dreams and hallucinations in season 2.

    Magazines 
  • Boy's Life had a story about a story that was told by a kid to his friends to scare them. It's implied the story teller falls victim to one a later night as they hear the moan it was described to make around the time he disappeared and was never heard from again. One of the kids even saw a giant shadowy figure in the distance looking down on him while trying to find the lost boy and concludes that they were so scared of the story they brought it to life.

    Music 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Shadowrun, a wendigo is an Ork (human variant) infected with the HMHVV (Human Meta Human Vampiric Virus). They were around 2.5 meters high, weighed 130 kilograms, and looked like a sasquatch (Bigfoot) with white fur. They had magical powers, and mentally influenced their victims into becoming cannibals.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, there is a werewolf tribe named after the Wendigo who worship the cannibal spirit as their tribal patron. Powerful members of the tribe can summon an avatar of the Wendigo to track down and devour their enemies.
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken, the Spiritual Successor of Werewolf: The Apocalypse, has the Lodge of Wendigo, where most of the members have a somewhat lax attitude towards the whole "don't eat the flesh of men, wolves, or werewolves" taboo. Especially since they have rituals that grant them access to special knowledge if they sample a bit of another's flesh.
  • As noted above, Call of Cthulhu includes Ithaqua as a possible menace for player-characters to run away from really really fast.
  • Native American legends? Check. Superstition and folklore? Check. Deadlands example? Check! Wendigos are something of a Stock Monster in the Weird and Wasted Wests. And no surprise, given that cannibalism falls under the direct purview of one of the Big Bads. Deadlands wendigos are created when a human eats the flesh of another human in the appropriate parts of the country; it can happen to Player Character types, and according to Word of God, it can even happen if the character doesn't know what they're eating. Not that a sadistic Marshal would ever trick a Player Character like that...
    • There's also a variant wendigo that is created not by cannibalism, but by food hoarding. If a hoarder causes others to starve to death because of his greed and selfishness, he runs the risk of being wendigofied.
  • The tamanous in Chill was a similar cannibalism-promoting Native American monster, which resembled a warrior's corpse partially covered in tar. The difference was that it couldn't just eat human flesh, it had to eat the flesh of a human who had themselves devoured human flesh, knowingly or otherwise. So that ought to make their lives difficult, right? Not when you consider their love of opening restaurants, or dining clubs, or just giving out free meals to anyone who looks hungry...
  • Somewhat Blackwood-esque Wendigos are adapted for Dungeons & Dragons use in the Fiend Folio. In their version, they like to pick one person out any group that enters their territory and stalk them until they're jumping at shadows, and they can turn people into more wendigos by draining their Wisdom points.
  • Pathfinder wendigos are directly inspired by the Algernon Blackwood version. They're as powerful as they're hideous.
  • In keeping with its Fantasy Kitchen Sink (and sci-fi kitchen sink, and horror kitchen sink...) Rifts has two types of wendigo: the "spirit" wendigo, wise supernatural hairy hominids friendly to the local Magical Native American tribes, and the wendigo demons who are truer to the original myths, if slightly underwhelming (it's a good thing they travel in packs, because a lone one wouldn't be much trouble for the average Rifts low-level PC group).
  • One old GURPS Horror adventure titled The Old Stone Fort riffed on the fiction of Manly Wade Wellman by using Cherokee demons and monsters as the villains, including a wendigo for the Big Bad.
  • In Edgewalkers a Wendigo is a Heinz Hybrid of the three monster races. It's what happens when a Sasquatch (A ghoul with lycanthropy) is infected by vampirism. Fear of becoming a Wendigo is the reason that Sasquatch's stay away from urban areas with a high vampire population.

    Videogames 

    Webcomics 

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Hearth's Warming Eve" features equine blizzard spirits called windigos that, however, feed not on flesh but hatred. Whether their origin is natural or closer to their mythological roots has thus far gone unaddressed...
  • The Wendigo character appeared in an episode of Wolverine and the X-Men where Nick Fury sent Wolverine to hunt down the Incredible Hulk in Canada after a team of his goes missing, only for Logan and Bruce Banner to find the Wendigo behind the disappearance and transformation of the SHIELD agents into Wendigo themselves. They eventually discover that the WENDIGO project was an attempt by SHIELD to create super-soldiers that went wrong and cure the victims. Logan figures out that Fury knew all along and shows his displeasure by punching Banner in the face to trigger his transformation for Fury to deal with. Even being knocked into the next county by the Hulk doesn't spoil his glee at one-upping Fury.

    Real Life 
  • The so-called "Wendigo psychosis" is a culturally specific mental disorder observed among several Algonquian peoples. It's specifically applied to cases where people kill and eat humans (often relatives) in circumstances where it doesn't make any sense, i.e. there's no famine whatsoever. This psychological category is very controversial, in part because Western society has cannibal serial killers too.
    • Note: Cases do not always involve killing. Often, its simply taking a bite out of someone, usually whoever is sleeping next to you. Not that that's much better for the people involved mind you, as they are alive when the bite is taken. It must also be noted that it is considered imperative to kill these "Wendigo" infected people, leading to the Canadian government taking them away from their groups and putting them in psychiatric care. They don't display any unusual traits, and are largely kept contained to protect themselves from the attacks of others, as cannibalism was a major taboo in Algonkian societies, even when threatened with starvation.
  • Some cryptozoology circles consider the Wendigo to be a cryptid just like the Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster.
  • The cannibalism aspect suggests the myths may actually be inspired by Kuru, Kreuzfeldt-Jakob or any other of a number of brain diseases transmitted by cannibalism. The brain damage these illnesses cause can sometimes manifest as violent psychosis, and may be more likely to manifest this way in cultures with a tradition of Wendigo lore due to the power of suggestion.


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