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"My garden's full of pretty men, who couldn't stay away..."
Heather Dale, Medusa

Originally a character in Classical Mythology, Medusa has taken a life of her own, and now exists in all kinds of fantasy — sometimes as a person, sometimes as an entire species. Medusa's main characteristics are snakes for hair and that people turn to stone just by seeing her face. So don't look at that illustration. note 

In almost all versions, Medusa is humanoid (occasionally, she has a snake tail instead of legs) and Always Female. In some versions, her hair-snakes are venomous. In others, they are not literal snakes but rather hair that supernaturally behaves as if it were made of living snakes. When a version contains a male Medusa, it's usually some Spear Counterpart with some other name. Medusa's appearance varies depending on what source you're reading. The most popular is that of a hideous monster; in fact, the petrification originally was caused by Medusa's ugliness itself, before other myths retconned it into being a power based in her eyes. Other myths say that Medusa retained her mortal beauty, as a cruel Irony. And then there are some that offer a compromise and state that she was both beautiful and terrible at the same time.

The oldest story known to feature Medusa is the adventures of Perseus. In this story she is a powerful monster whom Perseus defeats by decapitating her (and later using her head to petrify enemies) without looking at her — he sticks to looking at her shadow or looking through a mirrored shield, depending on the version.

Myths and stories with background for Medusa were added later. There are two different such prequel myths regarding the origins of the original Medusa. When Medusa is used in fiction as a unique being rather than as a species, she is typically given either one of these two origins, or no origin at all.

The ancient Greek origin is that she and her fellow Gorgons were simply created/born that way. In this origin, the Gorgons are typically three sisters, the other two being Stheno and Euryale. Their progenitors are not always specified, although Hesiod had them as the primordial sea gods Phorcys and Ceto. The Greek word "gorgon" means "horror". Besides having serpents for hair, the Gorgons were described as having tusks, brazen claws, wings and strongly acidic blood; in a few very early depictions they are shown as quadrupeds, possibly because Pegasus was born out of Medusa's blood when she was beheaded by Perseus. Later depictions (although still fairly ancient ones, in the absolute sense) gradually toned down the more monstrous aspects and made her more attractive. Note that the Erinyes (Furiae) were depicted very similarly as hideous snake-haired women.

Much later, in the first decade AD, the Roman poet Ovid wrote a different version where Medusa was a virgin priestess of Athena, but her incredible beauty attracted the attentions of the god Poseidon. Depending on the version of the story, she either reciprocated, and (with a little help from her sisters) let Poseidon into Athena's temple and slept with him on the altar, or was simply raped by the god. In both versions, Athena, pissed that her priestess not only broke her vows but did the nasty in her temple, punished her by turning her into her new hideous form and banished her to a desolate island until Perseus slew her.

Medusa's popularity is somewhat Newer Than They Think. She doesn't appear that often in media made before The '80s. Clash of the Titans (mentioned below) featured her as one of the monsters — and it has been said that modern generations owe their knowledge of Medusa to the film. The other two sisters appear extremely rarely, but are sometimes included alongside Medusa when she's a singular character. The Gorgon sisters as a whole are the Trope Namer to Gorgeous Gorgon.

See also Snake People.


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  • The 2021 Amazon Prime commercial in which Medusa buys sunglasses, and becomes the life of the party (but doesn't hesitate to petrify someone who is annoying her and her new friends).

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ayakashi Triangle: A medusa is one of the few non-Japanese ayakashi we see, which snuck into a crate full of art shipped from abroad to Lu's house. It's a giant fanged head covered in snakes, mostly seeing through their eyes and only exposing the main eyes to use its petrifying vision. The medusa acts (mostly) feral and territorial, turning ever human around in stone to make a nest. Lu figures they could reflect its power back at it with a mirror, but it simply smashes it before they can try.
  • A later book in the Bakemonogatari series is titled "Nadeko Medusa", which focuses on Nadeko imbibing the remnants of a snake oddity and transforming into a Snake Goddess, complete with snakes for hair.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Great Adventure into the Underworld have Medusa as one of the demon lord Demaon's most powerful minions, which Demon sends after Nobita and Doraemon after the two of them are the only heroes who escaped from his army. The 2007 remake of the anime gives Medusa the Related in the Adaptation treatment by making her the heroine Miyako's long-lost mother, a former human corrupted into becoming a gorgon after being tained by the powers of darkness.
  • Dropkick on My Devil: One of the characters is a gorgon devil named Medusa, appropriate enough, though is oddly more decked out in Egyptian wear than Greek related and doesn't have the snake hair. However she can still (temporarily) turn humans to stone if she gazes at them. Why? Because she's too adorable!
  • Kagerou Daze: Azami, an immortal being as old as the planet whose long black hair grows as snakes. She can petrify people with eye-contact, but she controls when/if that happens. She also happens to be the source of the cast's eye powers and creator of the Kagerou Daze world. She and her descendants (daughter Shion and granddaughter Mary) are called 'medusae' as a species, and regarded as monsters. Shion and Marry also inherited her abilities, but they get weaker as the medusa-blood is diluted (Shion is a Half-Human Hybrid, hence her daughter is only 1/4 medusa) — by Marry's generation, the most she can do is freeze people in place for a few minutes at a time and make her hair wiggle like snakes when highly emotional.
  • The little known 1978 anime film Metamorphoses, which is based on The Metamorphoses by Ovid, features Medusa as a blonde girl who can change her appearance into a hideous, fanged monster. It is her decapitated head that turns into Pegasus, not her blood as in the myth. Oddly, Pegasus is also depicted as a hybrid between a horse and snake.
  • One Piece: Boa Hancock and her two sisters earned the title "Gorgon Sisters" after they allegedly slew a Gorgon, who left them with eyes on their back that will petrify anyone who sees them. Hancock has the ability to intentionally petrify anyone who feels lust toward her, while her sisters can transform into snakes, with one of them being able to transform her hair into snakes. In reality, their powers come from Devil Fruits, and the story about the eyes on their backs is intended to hide their slave marks.
  • Medusa is the main villain in Pygmalio. The protagonist Kurt goes on a journey to defeat her after finding out his mother Galatea was turned to stone along with an entire village. Medusa here is described as the greatest of all demons, second only to the God of Evil, and has an entire army of demons serving her. In addition to the standard snake hair and petrifyint gaze, she's also gigantic in size. Anyone who drinks her black blood will become a demon himself.
  • Rosario + Vampire has Hitomi Ishigami, a Mad Artist who turns unsuspecting people to stone for her private collection. Her snake hair bites people and the venom slowly petrifies them.
  • Saint Seiya: The Silver Saints of Perseus, Algol, has a cloth which includes a shield featuring the head of Madusa (just like in mythology). It can turn people into stone when they look into its eyes. Shiryu tried to defeat Algol with the mirror trick it was believed to have been used against the original Medusa but the Silver Saint, already knowing how she was defeated, didn't fall for it. Shiryu had to pierce his own eyes.
  • One of the first major villains faced by the heroes of Shinzo is Gyasa, a reptile Enterran with snake hair and the complexion and demeanor of the Joker. He turned Yakumo to stone before dropping her off in an acid lake (it's later reversed) and could shed his skin to avoid getting killed, growing stronger each time.
  • Medusa from Soul Eater is a witch with a pronounced snake theme (including having magical snakes stored in her body and a snake-like "vector arrow" attack). Even though she still looks "human" she still strongly resembles a snake especially when she gets her Game Face on.
  • In GO-GO Tamagotchi! episode 23b, Mametchi and his gang are searching their school for ghosts to capture and think they have encountered Medusatchi, a Tamagotchi version of Medusa. They all worry as they think they're about to be Taken for Granite... except it's just Tamagotchi School's nurse Mrs. Houtaiko rather than Medusatchi.

  • Perseus holding Medusa's cut off head is a recurring motif in European art since The Renaissance. The most famous is perhaps the Benvenuto Cellini version, which is located in the Loggia dei Lanzi at the Piazza della Signoria in Florence.
  • Caravaggio's Medusa portrays her cut off head.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering The Gorgon creature type, while not a staple one, is far from rare. Most gorgons have some variety of Deathtouch, which destroys any creature that they attack. Physically, some have human legs and some are Snake People — it varies from plane to plane.
    • One that deserves particular mention is the Xathrid Gorgon which is the only one to actually petrify its enemies.
    • Gorgons have a particular presence on Theros, a plane directly inspired by Classical Mythology, where they have the lower bodies of enormous snakes where other gorgons would have humanoid legs. One Therosi gorgon, Hythonia the Cruel, is shown in her card's art as reclining on a large throne made entirely of her petrified victims. Pharika, the goddess of poisons and medicine and the progenitor and chief deity of the gorgons, herself takes the form of an enormous member of their kind.
    • One card, Evolutionary Leap, shows a giant python shedding its skin to become a snake-bodied gorgon.
    • Special mention also goes to the gorgon planeswalker Vraska, a major character in storylines relating to the City Plane Ravnica. Like other Ravnican gorgons, she has serpent tails, rather than heads, for hair.

    Comic Books 
  • In issue four of The Avengers which featured the Silver Age return of Captain America, Cap encounters an alien who turned the other Avengers to stone with a special ray. The alien had been stranded on Earth for thousands of years living in a cave and Cap surmised that the alien's wild hair, made him look like a woman in the shadows and was the basis for the myth about Medusa. Cap got the alien to change the Avengers back and helped him leave Earth and return home. The alien would turn out to belong to the D'Bari, whose planet was later destroyed when the Dark Phoenix caused their sun to go nova.
  • The Man-Serpents from Marvel's Conan the Barbarian comics are an unusual variant, having a medusa's head on the body of a giant snake. They can't petrify, but do have a paralytic gaze.
    • An art piece from Conan Saga #56 features an usual interpretation of Medusa that plays with the trope's tendency to overlap with Cute Monster Girl, Butter Face and Snake People. This medusa looks like a shapely humanoid woman with scaly skin (complete with diamond-patterned markings on her back) and prehensile snake tails for fingers and toes... then you get to her head, which is the head of a giant snake, but still sporting the iconic mane of small snakes. In this particular example, however, Conan has decapitated the creature and is holding its head aloft triumphantly as her body slumps at his feet.
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: In "The Stone Menagerie" arc, The Untouchable Trio (Plus One) encounter a medusa at the cenre of a labyrinth. Much arguing and rules-lawyering ensues as the players try to justify why their character should not be the one who winds up being Taken for Granite.
  • The Marvel Universe used to feature a supervillain/superhero named Medusa. Her superpower was long hair that could be used as tentacles to grab people. She was in the Fantastic Four for a while. She was eventually Put on a Bus to go and live in space with her fellow Inhumans, and mostly appears in Marvel Cosmic books these days.
  • Masters of the Universe featured Snake Face, a male medusa-like character with snakes popping out of his eyes rather than hair. The main power, turning people to stone, was the same.
  • Wonder Woman (1987):
  • Wonder Woman 600: The Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert and Rod Reis collaboration depicts Diana standing above Medusa's decapitated head, her eyes closed and the snakes still snapping at her.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side cartoon captioned "Medusa Starts Her Day" featuring one of his dowdy, bespectacled women showering, wearing a shower-cap through which a snake has poked its head. Another cartoon has Medusa growing up (her snake hair becoming Girlish Pigtails, braids, beehive...).

    Eastern European Animation 
  • Averted in Long Live Perseus!, a short from the Soviet/Russian animated anthology series Happy Merry-Go-Round. People describe Medusa as an evil flying medusa-like (we mean, jellyfish-like), but in fact it's a UFO.

    Fan Works 
  • Bad Hair Day, a Discworld fic by A.A. Pessimal, expands on the throwaway canonical mention of a Medusa as a Watchwoman, explores the particular day-by-day trials of a gorgon policewoman, and expands on the Discworld's Fantasy Counterpart of Greece, Ephebe.
  • Here Be Monsters: This is what Violet Parr is transfigured into — although referred to as a gorgon, Word of God name-drops Medusa and her origin myth when giving the reasons for this choice of monster form. Violet's gorgon form is based on Clash of the Titans (2010)' take on Medusa, being a Gorgeous Gorgon with her long, dark hair replaced by live snakes and a rattlesnake-like tail instead of legs.
  • Ice and Fire (Minecraft): Gorgons, resembling women with snake torsos and snakes for hair, live in the basements of overgrown Grecian temples found on beaches. They can turn all mobs that look at the them to stone, including players; fighting them requires the player to wear a blindfold, which limits their perception to a few blocks around themselves. When slain, they drop their heads, which are a one-use item that can transform any one mob into stone.
  • Powers of Invisibility has Madusa, an akuma modeled on Medusa, who turns people to stone via Eye Beams.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Medusa is one of the exhibits in 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, played by Tony Randall. (The film is based on the novel The Circus of Doctor Lao.)
  • Clash of the Titans (1981) included Medusa as an obstacle for Perseus to overcome — cutting off her head so he can use it to petrify the sea monster Andromeda is about to be sacrificed to. Her backstory about being cursed is included, though by Aphrodite rather than Athena. She's made even more monstrous than usual — with a rattlesnake tail that she uses to scare people when she's off screen. She also becomes an Adaptational Badass who is pretty nifty with a bow and arrow, hunting down Perseus's comrades one by one. As noted above, this portrayal brought Medusa into to pop culture, in no small part thanks to the Stop Motion special effects creator Ray Harryhausen used to bring her to life.
  • Clash of the Titans (2010) — a reboot of the 1981 version — retains the change of Aphrodite as the responsible party for the curse and also follows the compromise of Medusa being beautiful and terrible. She's a Gorgeous Gorgon here, but has a Game Face whenever she petrifies people. She also becomes far more sadistic — cackling cruelly whenever she petrifies someone.
  • The Gorgon: A small village is terrorized by the eponymous beast and its secret is the Driving Question. In this case, the titular Gorgon is a lot like a werewolf, who transforms at night and is human during the day. It was notably made before Medusa's pop culture popularity — as the Gorgon in this version is named as Magaera (who was one of the Furies).
  • The Medusa Touch doesn't have much to do with the Gorgon, but a copy of the famous Caravaggio painting of her cut off head is seen several times, including for the ominous title card of the film.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In the first film, she's played by Uma Thurman. So, not so much hideous. When she discovers that Percy is the son of Poseidon, she snarks "I used to date your daddy."

  • Medusa is one of the exhibits in The Circus of Doctor Lao.
  • A gorgon joins the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork in the Discworld book Unseen Academicals. She wears sunglasses to avoid turning people to stone when she shouldn't. (In an earlier book, Vimes is very pissed off about citizens interfering with his job by demanding certain kinds of people not be let into the Watch and he says that at this point he'd hire a gorgon. Guess what.)
  • In Dante's Inferno, Dante and his guide Virgil are initially barred from entering Lower Hell at the Gate of Dis in Circle Six. Those at the gate threaten to bring out Medusa to turn Dante to stone; Virgil, not trusting Dante to keep his own eyes closed, covers Dante's eyes with his own hands while they wait for divine aid to come to let them pass through.
  • Medusa is the Alpha Bitch for Athena in the children book series, Goddess Girls.
  • A Hippie in the House of Mouse: Disney releases a film about Medusa in 1996 roughly taking the place of Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame which diverges heavily from the original myth, starting with giving Medusa a heavy dose of Adaptational Heroism and having a romance with Perseus instead of being slayed by him.
  • Thomas Ligotti has a short story called "The Medusa" about an Author Avatar who worships the titular character. Guess what happens.
  • Ology Series: Gorgons, native to Europe, Africa and the Americas, resemble human women with huge, batlike wings and snakelike hair. Their gaze is hypnotic rather than petrifying, and they use it to keep prey still while they spray it with poison from their "hair".
  • Percy faces Medusa (or Aunty Em, as she's called) as one of the monsters he battles in Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
    • Later in The Heroes of Olympus. Percy meets the two other Gorgons, Stheno and Euryale. They can't freeze people though, they're also a little touchy about it so don't bring it up. Apparently they had faded away but were restored by a demigod googling their names.
    • Percy also confronts the forgotten other son Chrysaor, embittered at being ignored in legend, who honors his heritage as a son of her and Poseidon by becoming a fearsome pirate. He wears a golden mask modeled after her face and trounced Percy in combat, hard.
    • Percy and his friends also end up facing the Gorgons' parents, Phorcys and Keto.
  • Piers Anthony's Xanth book The Source of Magic has a Gorgon with snakes for hair. Any man who looks at her face is turned to stone. She is treated sympathetically since she does not want to do this and is forced to live alone; later she marries the Good Magician Humphrey after he fixes her problem by turning her face invisible.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Atlantis: Medusa is initially a normal young woman with whom Hercules falls in love after the heroes rescue her from the cult of the Maenads.
  • Big Wolf on Campus: Medusa is the Monster of the Week in an episode. She looks like a regular human, and can turn people or objects to stone by making eye contact. Merton falls victim to her.
  • Blood Ties (2007): In "Stone Cold", Medusa is a club owner who turns men who fall for her beauty into stone. She is a love interest of Mike's, until Vicky saves the day.
  • Charmed (2018): The first season has an interesting approach to the myth, where Medusa actually turns those who won't look at her to stone. Macy "defeats" her by acknowledging her pain.
  • Land of the Lost (1974): In "Medusa", a version of Medusa who calls herself "Meddy", appears as a beautiful young woman at first, before her hideous true form is revealed. Her stone gaze only worked in her true form, but it worked on anything she looked at, even plants. She could control vines around her garden (eventually turning them to stone out of anger for letting the heroes escape). She also had a mirror where her reflection could move on its own and talk to her, but she could only confront it in her pretty form so she would not turn herself to stone. Her reflection constantly scolded her because of her vanity and ego, telling her to just turn Holly to stone right away instead of trying to beautify her or waiting for the others to arrive. Jack defeats her by finding the mirror and showing it to her in her true form. Right before she turned to stone, her reflection commented that she should have listened to her warnings.
  • Legends of the Hidden Temple: One of the later rooms is Medusa's Lair, where contestants have to properly place snakes into Medusa's head.
  • In Li'l Horrors, Medusilla Venimski is a pretty monster based on (and named for) the youngest of three gorgons, Medusa. Very vain as she often admires her beauty, which does not turn others (or herself) to stone, unlike the ugliness of her namesake. Her hair can talk as well, as evidenced in several episodes.
  • Once Upon a Time: Medusa is present in the Enchanted Forest. It turns out that her head can't be cut off, but she also isn't immune to her own gaze. Petrifying herself also seems to restore her other victims back to life.
  • Robot Wars once had a robot called Medusa 2000; the design spec called for a flail at the back, to look rather like snake hair. Unfortunately, the weapon idea fell through, so all that was left was the name and the picture on the top of the robot, which never was shown clearly on TV.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: The episode "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" features a race known as the Medusans. Their appearance is a madness-inducing Brown Note for most humanoid races. They're not bad guys.
  • Swamp Thing: In one episode, Swampy and Dr. Arcane both encounter Medusa in the form of a beautiful woman — that is, she's only beautiful as long as she keeps her sunglasses on. When she takes them off we see glowing eyes and part of a monstrous face. She can't petrify Swamp Thing, as he isn't made of flesh, but she can (somehow) turn him into dry bark. Arcane is a scientist to the core about the whole thing; in one scene she partially petrifies him, and he spends the entire time clinically describing the sensation of his soft tissues being turned to stone.
  • Tales from the Darkside: "Miss May Dusa" involves an amnesiac woman discovering that she is Medusa.

  • "Medusa" by Anthrax is a Thrash Metal song with a very straightforward description of Medusa that's fairly accurate to the original myth.
  • Whitney Avalon released a song in late 2020 called "Plaything of the Gods" which tells Medusa's story from her side, lampshading the ancient Greek & Roman tendency for the gods to inflict serious punishment on innocent (or at least non-antagonistic) people as a way of soothing their own egos.
    "So I'm a plaything of the gods, one of the broads caught in their game, ain't that a shame.
    One day they'll use my head, but cleave and leave the rest of me behind, which seems...unkind."
  • The song "Medusa" by folk artist Heather Dale (which provides the page quote) describes a Medusa who has chosen to own her identity as a monster in the face of other people's scorn.

  • Since this is a trope about a mythological creature, see the trope description above for the most common versions of the mythology.
  • Some interpretations argue that Medusa was a Libyan goddess who was equated with Athena before the Greeks defeated them and demonized her as Athena's enemy and inferior.
  • Another origin is that Medusa and her sisters were so beautiful that they angered Athena by bragging about being more beautiful than the goddess, in any case, Athena turned them into monsters so hideous men would turn to stone if they looked at them. A slightly different version of this origin is that they were still beautiful, but they couldn't be looked at without the beholder turning to stone, making their beauty pointless.
  • A slightly different version of the second origin is that Medusa was willingly seduced by Poseidon rather than raped. In some versions, we'll never know if it was consensual. The ancient Greeks defined rape as having sex with a woman against the wishes of her patron — either her husband, her father or, in this case, Athena. The woman's decision is entirely inconsequential.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arduin: Chaeronyx are medusa centaurs, pairing the typical snake hair and petrifying gaze with a horse's body in place of human legs.
  • Banestorm has a race of Medusas, with the traditional features (including a petrifying gaze weapon — just looking at one is okay, which may be just as well given that they tend to be quite good-looking). They are always female; they interbreed with humans, elves, or orcs to produce more Medusas (or occasional male babies with recessive Medusa genes). Unfortunately, the petrifying gaze thing means that they are widely treated as monsters, which may in turn be enough to explain their mostly negative view of other races. One online article describes an island village on this game-world ruled by a noble family whose womenfolk are all, unbeknownst to the outside world, Medusas.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Medusas have always been a species, but they have undergone some changes between editions.
    • In 2nd edition, medusas are a race resembling elven maidens with serpents for hair and the ability to petrify with their gaze, even affecting creatures on the Ethereal or Astral Planes (into which they can see). Approximately 10% of the females are "greater medusae", who have super-toxic blood and a giant snake's body in lieu of humanoid legs. There are also male medusas, called maedar, who appear as bald muscular elven men. Maedar are ridiculously rare; whereas female medusae produce 2-6 medusa daughters by mating with human men, the result of a medusa/maedar coupling is two to six offspring, with 25% being male and the remaining 75% being female. Only 1% of the males are maedar; the rest of them, and all of the females, are pure human. In addition to lacking the hair-snakes, maedar have no petrifying gaze; instead, they are immune to petrification, paralyzation and medusa venom, can walk through stone, and can undo petrification with a touch. Medusa/maedar pairs often use this to keep food fresh — the medusa petrifies victims, they smash the statue, and the maedar turns chunks back to flesh when the pair wants to eat.
    • In editions 3 and 3.5, medusas are an Always Female species with a humanoid body but scaly skin, glowing red eyes, and gaunt faces with flatted, almost non-existent noses. A petrifying gaze attack as well as poison bites from the hair snakes come with the package. Medusas can procreate with any humanoid species, with the offspring normally being medusae themselves. Petrification is permanent by default, but advanced magic can reverse it. In Savage Species, several intelligent monsters including medusae are made into playable races. If you wanted to play a medusa under the standard rules you have to start at level 10 or higher, but with Savage Species you can start as a level 1 immature medusa who has not yet developed her full potential. The same expansions also introduces a feat that allows medusas to enable and disable their gaze attack at will or to focus it at specific opponents, allowing others to see their faces without being turned to stone unless the medusa wants to do so. Sadly, like most monsters in the book, medusas are Cool, but Inefficient due to losing so many class levels to normal player character races and because their two main powers (petrification and poison) are things that are extremely dangerous to normal PC races but something that many monsters are immune or highly resistant to.
    • In fourth edition, medusae are a species in the usual sense, with both males and females. The female are the classic medusa, pretty much the same as in the previous edition except that she can now un-petrify her victims by applying a drop of her own blood. The males have different powers, in that they're bald (so no snake-hair attacks) and they can poison with their gaze rather than petrify, rather like certain mythological depictions of the basilisk. Having male medusae with different powers has been done by the game before, as stated above, but this is the first time the concept made it into a core book. Both sexes resemble the scaly humanoid from 3rd edition, though with less haggish features.
    • In the fifth addition, medusae look like humans with snakes for hair, have males with identical powers and are cursed to turn into medusae on an individual basis.
    • Eberron: Medusae have a unique culture largely based around avoiding looking someone in the eyes — they're not immune to the petrifying gaze of other medusae, so its kind of the only choice. They were created by the daelkyr, but broke free when the creatures were sealed away. Oh, and there are explicitly males as well — where do you think all the baby medusae come from?
    • Scarred Lands: Medusae were created by the titan Mormo. In this setting, pretty much everything was created by the Titans, including the gods. Two centuries ago, the gods rose up against them in what came to be known as the Titanswar or the Divine War. The medusae were initially an important force at the titans' side, but they switched side to serve the Gods, particularly the neutral evil goddess Belsameth.
  • Godforsaken: Gorgons are mortals cursed into hideous shapes by gods whom they offended. They have the upper body of beautiful humans, the lower bodies of a giant rattlesnakes, and nests of snapping, hissing serpents instead of hair. Their gaze can turn any creature to stone.
  • In Nomine: Gorgons are children of humans and ethereal spirits — which can include anything from animate dreams to efreet and valkyries to the surviving pagan gods — who changed to be born as warped, terrifying monsters. In essence, they're the ethereal equivalent of the celestial-born Nephallim. Like the Nephallim, most live in isolation, hunted by angels, demons, and humans, but they're not more inherently evil than any other mortal.
  • Pathfinder: Medusas are rather tragic, as they are not innately evil, but rather are driven to pursue their dark desires out of spite, scornful of those who shun them for their curse. They can mate with any race capable of reproduction with humans, although their children are always female and always bear their curse. They also have literal hearts of stone that are constantly petrifying and un-petrifying themselves, and the places they live tend to be blighted because their petrifying gaze indiscriminately wipes out the local wildlife (including pollinators such as birds and insects).
    • Medusas normally have entirely human bodies, snake hair aside, but medusas who mate with powerful humanoids give birth to brazen medusas, who have the lower bodies of giant, bronze-scaled snakes.
    • First Edition's 6th Bestiary introduces the euryale, an epically powerful medusa variant supposedly representing ancient medusa sages corrupted by the demon goddess Lamashtu. They have the lower bodies of giant serpents with stony plate-like scales, and are enormously powerful — Challenge Rating 20, which is just behind things on the level of Demon Lords and Archdevils! As well as the spellcasting abilities of 18th level Oracles, they have a wide array of extra abilities. For starters, not only can they turn the petrified corpses of their victims into animated statue defenders, but if those corpses shatter, they can "consume some of the victim's essence" and restore health by doing so. Perhaps not coincidentally, they also have several powerful sonic attacks, in the form of spell-like abilities for Greater Shout, sonic analogues of Fireball, and even the "kills you if you hear it" Wail of the Banshee spell, and a special trait that makes it easier for them to shatter petrified creatures with their sonic attacks. Their venom and their serpents are much nastier than those of their little sisters, and they can turn any blunt weapon they wield into a Rod of the Viper — an enchanted item consisting of a live and angry serpent they can use to simultaneously beat someone to death and bite repeatedly with venomous fangs. Oh, except their version can also spit fangs like poisoned darts.
    • Second Edition's 3rd Bestiary introduces sthenos, a race that emerged about a century before the setting's present day when an euryale named Stheno, resentful of the constant nightmares plaguing her kind thanks to Lamashtu's "blessings", prayed to the goddess Shelyn for help. Lamashtu's jealous rebuke slew Stheno, but Stheno's will and defiance caused each of the one hundred snakes that made up her hair to become a new being; these newborn people took the name of sthenos after their progenitor and went out into the world. Modern sthenos almost completely resemble medusas but lack their petrifying powers; their hair snakes are alive and semi-autonomous, although they share their host's emotions. Sthenos are a scattered and spreading people, without a homeland or a unified culture, and mostly keep their numbers up by mating with humans — the children of human/stheno pairings are always either human or stheno, more or less randomly.
  • Warhammer: Bloodwrack Medusae are former Dark Elf sorceresses who were twisted into monstrous shapes by the goddess Atharti when she grew jealous of their beauty. Their hair turned into writhing tangles of snakes, their gaze deadly, their teeth into fangs and their legs into serpentine trunks with secondary snake bodies branching off of their lengths.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Medusae are a type of psychic parasite that can take over mortal hosts, creating a fused being notable for a gaze that can kill those that meet it.

    Theme Parks 

  • Monster High: One of the characters is a son of Medusa, Deuce Gorgon. He has a snake mohawk and normally wears sunglasses to protect his friends from his petrifying gaze (which wears off after 24 hours). He also has a cousin, Viperine (Stheno's daughter), who has (mostly) normal hair and lacks the ability to petrify people.
  • Monster in My Pocket: Medusa is part of the toy line and also appears in the Licensed Game. She is the boss of the fifth level with four other copies in a Doppelgänger Spin and returns in the Boss Rush.

    Video Games 
  • The Adventures of Lolo games have a bust of Medusa as an enemy. It paralyzes and kills Lolo if he steps into its line of sight. The only way to get past the busts is to block their line of sight with an egg or Emerald Framer.
  • Age of Mythology:
    • Choosing to worship Hera when you advance to the Mythic Age lets you train Medusae at your temple. Yes, Medusae, plural. As expected, their special ability lets them turn one enemy unit into stone (except Siege Weapons and Heroes). Their scientific name is Gorgon chrysaorus (while the genus is obvious, the species derivates from Chrysaor, her son with Poseidon).
    • Hades players can get Perseus as a hero in the Mythic age. He carries a Medusa head that he similarly uses to petrify enemy units.
  • Astalon: Tears of the Earth: A group of Gorgons are the main antagonists, represented as giant stone heads containing their true, abominable forms that are served by the Black Knight. Medusa herself is their effective leader.
  • In Castle Crashers, Medusa appears as a level boss. Snakes jump from her hair and attack the player, and she has an attack that can turn players to stone. When she's defeated, Medusa herself is turned to stone.
  • Castlevania:
  • Dark Wizard has the Medusa Head as an item that can be used to petrify enemies. There's also Gorgon's Tails, which are the antidote to petrification.
  • Day Dreamin' Davey: Medusa is one of the Gorgon Sisters that Davey must defeat in one Ancient Greece stage.
  • Desktop Dungeons: Medusa is the boss form of the Gorgon enemy.
  • Dota 2 features Medusa as a hero that can be picked. She is notoriously one of the hardest carries in the game, capable of 1v5ing entire enemy teams if sufficiently decked out with items. Her ultimate ability, appropriately named Stone Gaze, petrifies anyone who looks at her when activated. Her lore, however, is a variation of her myth: Medusa has an unnamed mother and her snake form wasn't because the curse from Athena or Poseidon flirting with her (in fact, the two didn't exist in the Dota-verse despite Zeus existing) but some raiding humans attacked her home island and captured her sisters because they're immortal, and yet she's left behind due to her mortality and she asked her unnamed mother for power to rescue and avenge her sisters, leading to her snake-woman form.
  • Dragon Unit has Medusa as a boss in the third stage, where she resembles a giant snake-woman with green skin.
  • Dragon's Crown has Medusa as the boss for Route B of the Ancient Temple Ruins. Here, she has the lower body of a snake, scaly green skin, and monstrous clawed hands in addition to the traditional snakes for hair. In addition to her petrifying gaze, she could also summon snakes and shoot Eye Beams. Completing the Request to defeat her solo reveals her history. Combining both of the classical Medusa origin stories, this Medusa is the youngest of the three Gorgon sisters who desecrated the resident Athena Expy's temple by meeting with men there, whereupon she was turned into a monster as punishment. She then hid herself away with her sisters, who stayed with her out of pity, until she started showing up again at the temple.
  • Dungeons & Dragons games with medusas as monsters include Curse of the Azure Bonds, Gateway to the Savage Frontier, Pool of Radiance, Pools of Darkness, Neverwinter Nights, and Secret of the Silver Blades.
    • In Neverwinter Nights expansion pack Shadows of Undrentide, the Interlude introduces a medusa who inflicts an inescapable case of petrification on the heroes. The Big Bad of the campaign is the medusa Heurodis, who served as an apprentice to one of the few mages to survive the fall of the ancient empire of Netheril, the lich Belpheron. With Belpheron destroyed by the Harpers, Heurodis now intends to reclaim the empire's power for herself so that she can Take Over the World.
  • Fate/Grand Order, in addition to Medusa as Rider (see below under Visual Novels), also brings on her two sisters, Stheno and Euryale, as Servants, both of whom are capable of Charming male enemies.
  • Final Fantasy:
  • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones depicts Gorgons as Snake People with snaky hair. They hatch from eggs and use petrification attacks.
  • Medusa shows up in the first God of War. Her sister Euryale was also a boss in the second game. In both games, Kratos chops off their heads and uses them as weapons to petrify enemies. Other Gorgons appear as Mooks, have the same petrification ability, and won't hesitate to shatter Kratos afterwards.
  • In Hades, the heads of dead gorgons persist in the Underworld, haunting the Fields of Asphodel where Zagreus may occasionally encounter them as an enemy. They hover over the river Phlegethon, and launch projectiles that petrify Zagreus on hit. Nyx also employs a much friendlier gorgon head, called Dusa, as a maidnote  in the House of Hades, who can be interacted with between runs. It's strongly implied that Dusa is really the severed head of Medusa herself, but her past is unknown and Dusa will only make vague comments about how she's a very different person than she used to be.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic III and IV had Medusas as minions of the Dungeon faction. II had them as neutral (recruitable) creatures. Several of the Might and Magic games also had medusas. VII even used the same sprite as Heroes III.
  • Holy Umbrella has a villainess named Donderadusa, who, aside from magically turning people into stone, looks and acts much more like a stereotypical Cat Girl than a classical Gorgon.
  • Kid Icarus: Medusa is the Goddess of Darkness and in opposition to Big Good, Palutena the Goddess of Light. She serves as the Big Bad in the first game and in Kid Icarus: Uprising — or at least for the first part of the latter game.
  • King's Quest III: To Heir Is Human features a Medusa antagonist in the desert. The hero needs a mirror to defeat her. He also needs to face away from her, or else he's petrified instantly. If he has the mirror and the player types "use mirror" fast enough, the Medusa will see herself and be turned to stone. If he doesn't have it, or doesn't use it quickly enough, she will catch up and force him to look at her. The AGD Fan Remake adds a new wrinkle. She is in a cave instead of the open desert, and there is more than one way to solve the puzzle — the traditional mirror, or a test of character.
  • League of Legends has a champion named Cassiopeia which is a snake-woman very similar to that in Clash of the Titans. She has snake hair and her ultimate ability is to turn enemies into stone in a cone in front of her. Her name is even tangentially related: Cassiopeia was the mother of the princess that Perseus was out to save.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons: The dungeon boss Medusa Head, fighting Link with petrification powers and damaging Eye Beams.
  • Majesty: Medusae are a type of enemy, who not only have snakes for hair, but are also serpent from the waist down. The Northern Expansion introduces the stronger Greater Gorgons.
  • Miitopia: Medusas are regular enemies, appearing as serpentines ladies with a Mii mouth on their faces and a Mii eye on five snakes of her hair. Of course, one of their attack can petrify Miis.
  • NetHack: Medusa is a boss.
  • A non-hostile Medusa appears in Planescape: Torment as one of the women in the Brothel for the Slaking of Intellectual Lusts. You never clearly see her as she's hiding in a dark room to avoid harming anyone with her petrifying gaze due to having lost the veil she normally wears over her face. Finding it for her is one of the quests you can complete inside the Brothel.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time has the Zombie Medusa from the Ancient Grome set of enemies. She comes in pushing a tough petrified zombie, and is capable of turning any zombies or zomboids facing her into durable stone obstacles, making her an Obvious Rule Patch against the otherwise-overpowered Caulipower (which hypnotizes zombies to fight the horde) and Zoybean Pod (which spawns zomboids). Fortunately, she cannot petrify plants, and in a case of Developer's Foresight, if the Snap Pea eats her and spits out her head, it'll turn any zombies near the impact into stone obstacles.
  • Pokémon Uranium: Arbok's Mega Evolution evokes this; it has multiple smaller snakes growing around its head, and has the Petrify ability.
  • Rings of Medusa does not feature any character with any traits of the mythological Medusa. While "Medusa" is the main villain, she never comes into play herself, and she doesn't have any traits beyond being evil, in a strictly Protagonist-Centered Morality sense of the word.
  • Scribblenauts: Medusas are among the creatures you can summon . True to the myth, they can turn other characters to stone. You can also summon only a Medusa's head, which Maxwell himself can use to petrify others.
  • Skull & Crossbones features Medusa herself (she's even named as such by the game) as the boss of the caves level. She's seen behind a cauldron in her quarters, full of her skeleton mooks, and after defeating her skeletons she then fights you.
  • Smite: Medusa, depicted here with a snake trunk instead of legs, is playable and, for once, able to go toe to toe against the ones who caused her misery: Poseidon and especially Athena (ironically, she's also an excellent partner to play with Medusa). She's not a Goddess, but gets the pass for being one of the more famous monsters in mythology (when they have already included monsters like Scylla or Demigods like Hercules). Medusa is portrayed here with a porcelain emotionless mask over her face that hides a more snake-like face underneath it. Like in Clash of the Titans (1981), she makes use of a bow (but can also loose vipers with it). Her snake heads can also spit out acid, and her ultimate is removing her mask to cause her signature effect to enemies, which damages and temporarily stuns all enemies facing her as she does it (doing less damage and slowing enemies facing away). Being killed by her ultimate leaves a statue of the dead god behind — these statues can be broken, interacts with her acid spitting by helping spread it over a larger area when it hits them, and even potentially (though it's very difficult and not very likely) break the line of sight for Medusa's ultimate for players to avoid it in a future situation. She has a number of alternate skins that play with her appearence as a gorgon, ranging from giving her a coral snake-like coloration to giving her wings or a fully reptilian torso and head or replacing her snake parts with centipede ones.
  • Total War:
    • Total War: Warhammer: Bloodwrack Medusae, former sorceress turned into monsters by a jealous goddess, are a type of monster unit in the Dark Elf army roster. Their deadly gaze is represented as a powerful magic missile capable of tearing through ranks of infantry. They're fairly typical snake-bodied medusae beyond having additional snakes sprouting from their lower bodies; while most have bright green scales, their unique Regiment of Renown, the Siren of Red Ruin, has coppery red scales instead.
    • A Total War Saga: TROY: Gorgons are a type of agents available to players who court Athena's favor. In Truth Behind the Myth Mode they're fully human, but cultivate deliberately horrific appearances and focus on sabotaging enemy units and morale, the implication being that tales of these women eventually morphed into the later myth of Medusa through centuries of retellings. In Mythos Mode, they're instead monsters with birdlike wings, a crown of snakes for hair, and reptilian faces with snakelike eyes, a leer full of tusk-like fangs and a long pointed tongue, and a "beard" of spikes. Among other things, they can pretty render a place's garrison to being nearly non-existent.
  • The Touhou Project fangame The Genius Of Sappheiros has them appear as the youngest of the Gorgon sisters responsible for the main game's incident, Litos Medousa Gorgon, complete with the ability to petrify with a gaze (and in fact, of all means of inflicting petrification in the game, she has the most powerful infliction effect through one of her Last Spells). Once the Gorgon sisters are defeated by Reimu's party, she and her sisters take on the role of guardian goddesses in Gensokyo. In the Lingering Summer Heat expansion, she is a member of the starting party, working to resolve the incident to avenge her sister, who was one of the victims.
  • Town of Salem has the Medusa as a role, aligned with the Coven. At night, she can choose to gaze, which will petrify anyone who visits her, making their roles and wills lost. When she gains the Necronomicon, she can choose to single out a target to petrify.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: One of the later levels of the game, appropriately titled The Three Sisters, have Xena battling Medusa and both her sisters one at a time in three consecutive boss battles. Each of the gorgon sisters are progressively harder than the previous one, with Medusa herself being the strongest.

    Visual Novels 
  • Astoria: Fate's Kiss also features the actual Medusa. She is a Gorgon in the middle of a mob war with her sisters, and is a romance option. She has red hair and can turn people to stone with her red hair. However, she hates how people think of her in mythology.
  • Fate/stay night features the actual Medusa (or, more precisely, her Heroic Spirit, i.e. superpowered ghost) as the Servant Rider, under the backstory of having been born as an incomplete goddess that was mocked and cursed. While her eyes still turn people into stone, her "snake hair" is explained to be a negative exaggeration of her really long and luxurious hair... however, it turns out it would be more accurate to call this Medusa as the one before she became a monster. She also has the ability to summon her son Pegasus as a mount. One summonable version of her, an Avenger, in Fate/Grand Order (specifically summoning her as the Gorgon of legend) does have the snakes for hair (more accurately, "hair feelers" with snake head-shaped ends) and all versions of her can apparently shift to the monster she eventually became at the end of her life at the cost of her sanity, which can only be described as a giant monster made of snakes that can shoot lasers from its single eye. A third summonable version, a Lancer, appears in the form of a child that represents her time as a goddess, wielding Harpe, the weapon that in myth was used by Perseus to decapitate her. A fourth version, a Saber, looks similar to the Rider but wields the golden sword of her son, Chrysaor, which also grants her the ability to summon her granddaughter Echidna and through her, any of her great-grandchildren to aid her in battle.

  • One of the girls in Eerie Cuties has snakes for hair, but is actually a Melusine.
  • A plot arc in Irregular Webcomic! concerns Medusa.
  • Last Res0rt: Kendril are an alien race who probably inspired myths of Gorgons, though unlike many examples their petrification attack isn’t projected from their eyes, but their split-mandibled mouth, which is usually covered by a mask or veil in mixed company.
  • The title character from Modest Medusa is a friendly medusa child named Modest, and is a member of a race of Medusas. Their gaze does not petrify, the venom of their snake hair does. It is eventually revealed that Medusas are the larval form of hydras. Over time, as the snake hair grows larger, the human parts will eventually shrivel up and die, leaving only the snake heads attached to a snake body. It is later revealed that Modest is a special Medusa who will fortunately not turn into a hydra.
  • Marina in Monster Pop! has snakes for hair and needs to wear sunglasses so she doesn't petrify anyone. This doesn't stop her from being completely cute, though.
  • She's one of the main characters in Nightmarish, portrayed as a stoner with eye obscuring bangs.
  • The Non-Adventures of Wonderella: Turns Wonderella to stone in one strip — but she's a Card-Carrying Villain at worst, can be nullified by the simple expedient of wearing sunglasses, and quite apologetically explains that the power to turn people into stone isn't under her control.
  • One of the Oglaf strips featured a man who survived a Medusa encounter by being distracted by her breasts. In the end it is implied that he got more than a Raging Stiffie...
  • The Order of the Stick has been known to throw in Medusas in the background, so far without ever being part of the plot. There is one standing in line for the ladies' bathroom in the first dungeon the PCs explore. One of the bonus strips in the Dragon Magazine book depicts Durkon meeting a medusa who is being employed by a dwarf to create cheap building materials. Not that there are many job openings for medusas:
    Melissa: I can't even practice my hobbies in peace! I spend two months carving a dog statue, and PETA is all over me.
  • Port Sherry: She is portrayed as a nice woman who just happens to have snakes for hair and petrification powers.
    • In "Stop cluttering my home please" she is dismayed that her powers result in heroic warriors being frozen in inconvenient places.
    • In "Just trying new stuff" Medusa is testing out new hairdos, much to the dismay of her snake-hairs.
      Medusa: Maybe braids...
      Snakes: No! No! No!
  • Tess in Seven Days In Silverglen is a gorgon. Gorgons in this universe don't seem to be able to petrify people at all; their snakes are just scaly limbs that can feel and taste. It is later explained that the only other special ability that gorgons have is sensing the density and properties of stone.
  • Skin Deep: Gorgons are a very rare species of Always Female, extremely long-lived magical creatures resembling human women with snakes for hair, scaly skin, brass claws and great feathered wings, as well as the famous petrifying gaze. The gorgon shopkeeper Madame U, the only gorgon character in the comic, is blind, and as a result does not have her deadly gaze any longer. The eyes and tongues of her snake hair still work fine, though, giving her a limited ability to see, feel and smell the world through them.
  • The Story of Anima has a little girl in a straight jacket with gigantic snakes for hair appropriately named Medusa, or "Medi", for short.
  • Wapsi Square: While Medusa herself has not appeared, her sister Euryale has, and she gives an amusing re-interpretation of the legend. Medusa's form was always that way; it was not a curse or anything, and the petrification was under conscious control. The deal with Poseidon in Athena's temple was consensual, and Athena put a price on Medusa's head as a result. Then, Medusa fell in love with this Perseus guy, so they conspired to fake her death at his hands and lived the rest of their lives selling statues.
  • The Wotch has Scott, who perennially is petrified (and turned into the opposite sex). On one occasion, this happened when his girlfriend was temporarily changed into a Medusa and looked at him, after he'd been turned into a female elf. They both got better. Naturally, it happens just after he says, after getting turned into a female elf, that at least he can still move this time.

    Western Animation 
  • All three gorgons appear in American Dragon: Jake Long. Aside from their snake hair, they generally look human, and are both good-looking and vain. In addition to their petrifying gaze (which they must intentionally activate), they're also adept at mind control.
  • Tasha plays this role in The Backyardigans episode "Sinbad Sails Alone".
  • Celebrity Deathmatch has Steve Irwin fighting against a Medusa. The fight ends with a Shout-Out to the ending of the original Clash of the Titans.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: The episode where Timmy, Cosmo, and Wanda visit ancient Greece and go to a party at Mt. Olympus features Medusa as a party-crasher.
  • Hercules: The Animated Series: Medusa is The Woobie, who makes a deal with Hades to make herself look like a regular girl.
  • Hurricanes: Stavros Garkos uses the name "Medusa" for some of his business ventures, named his soccer team "Garkos Gorgons" and his big sister once dressed herself as Medusa to trick people into thinking players from a rival team were turned into stone.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: In "Heroes", Jeremiah Surd makes his Quest World avatar turn into Medusa. In addition to the stone gaze, the snakes could detach and their venom could partially petrify. He manages to petrify Race and Jessie, and his snakes petrify Jonny's hand and foot. Jonny defeats him by making him see his own reflection, which turns him to stone and restores the others.
  • Justice League Unlimited: Medusa appears thanks to Wonder Woman connecting the Greek pantheon to this show. Batman and Zatanna have to be blindfolded in order to meet her as she arrives from her cell in Tartarus. For her good information Lady Justice notes she has shaved off three hundred years from her sentence moving it up to now 4010. Medusa also sounds like she was raised in New York.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): Played with. The show had Sedusa; a character with tentacle-like hair (wasn't snakes but definitely had a life of its own) whose specialty was to, yes, seduce men.
  • Robotomy: "Bling Thing": The gorgon is a huge alien monster kept as the main source of entertainment at "the Maul", where robots go to watch other robots being fed to it. It has a sluglike body, five arms, and a second set of eyes on its lower jaw, and farts corrosive gas.
  • Super Friends: In "Battle of the Gods", Wonder Woman is challenged by Zeus to steal Medusa's necklace. She eventually defeats her by showing Medusa her reflection with her bracelets, which turns her to stone and restores the Wonder Twins who had been petrified.

    Real Life 
  • One development stage of jellyfish is named after Medusa, and jellyfishes are called Medusa in several languages.
  • There exists a genus of horned dinosaur named after Medusa called Medusaceratops due to its horns snaking around. It also carries the species name lokii too, might we add.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Our Gorgons Are Different, Our Medusas Are Different


The Writhing Dread

The mythical gorgon Medusa. She resides in the Petrified Temple in the middle of a petrified forest on Lesbos.

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