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Hydras are a type of giant, multi-headed reptilian monster, often possessing powerful regenerative abilities.

Fictional hydras trace their roots to the Lernaean Hydra, which inhabited the Swamps of Lerna in Greek myth until slain by Heracles. Like many monsters with mythical origins, hydras are often A Kind of One — the original Hydra of Greek myth was a singular named monster, but the name is now typically used for entire species of multi-headed reptiles fashioned after the Greek Hydra.

One of the most iconic characteristics of hydras is their ability to regrow severed heads; sometimes they will simply regrow a new head whenever an old one is cut off, but they can often grow multiple heads (traditionally two) for every one lost. As a result, most obvious ways of dealing with these beasts tend to be useless at best and actively counterproductive at worst, requiring would-be hydra slayers to get creative with their methods. Even when hydras can't grow back heads, they'll often have some form of Healing Factor.

Like the original Greek beast, hydras are very often swamp-dwellers; so they can easily be the resident Swamp Monster in a Swamps Are Evil setting.

As the original hydra was typically described as a many-headed water snake, modern hydras often display ophidian traits to greater or lesser degrees. They may be depicted as limbless, snake-like slitherers, but it's also very common in modern media for them to be four-legged creatures instead, generally resembling some sort of lizard or dinosaur with a writhing tangle of heads sprouting from their torsos.

While not overwhelmingly common, it's not unheard of for a link to be made between hydras and dragons. Some works will treat the two creatures as distinct but similar or related species, while others have hydras as a specific sub-type of dragons. If a Breath Weapon is present, it's common to have each head possess a different breath weapon, similar to Tiamat from the Dungeons & Dragons franchise. Works which define hydras as a form of dragon are the likeliest to give them traits such as legs, stubby wings, horns or the like, in order to increase their physical resemblance to what dragons are usually shown as looking like.

See also Hydra Problem, describing any case where harming an enemy in a straightforward way only makes it stronger, Reptiles Are Abhorrent and Multiple Head Case. Compare Orochi.


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  • An ad for Red Bull features a six-headed Hydra, to whom Hercules offers the advertised drink as a gift. The Hydra is bested as the six heads fight over the one can and knot themselves up. Hercules then takes back his offering, to the Hydra's disdain.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bakugan has two examples: Exedra, the legendary warrior of Darkus, and Hydranoid, the Guardian Bakugan of Masquerade and later Alice. Hydranoid is an interesting example, as he started with one head and gained a new one each time he evolved.
  • Berserk: One of the first exterior signs that Griffith has brought the material and spiritual realms together is the appearance of a massive hydra chasing a herd of unicorns and followed by a flock of harpies. While it's undoubtedly reptilian, the shape of its skull makes it heads look disturbingly humanlike.
  • My-HiME: Shizuru's CHILD, Kiyohime, is a biomechanical beast with six serpentine heads and an octopus-like body, and can spray avid from her mouths.
  • Saint Seiya features the Hydra Cloth as one of the Bronze Cloth owned by Ichi. Modeled after a large serpent, the armor includes sets of poisoned claws that can pop out of the armor and sink in the opponents' flesh and will reform if broken or removed, as a nod to the regrowing heads. However, Cygnus Hyoga easily puts a kibosh on that and uses his ice powers to prevent the regeneration. Supplemental material implies that the Hydra armor can grow more heads if the user is strong enough, and the Omega series include the Hydrus Cloth as a Silver Cloth.
  • Tweeny Witches: Hydra fairies resemble snails made of dark purple muddy water.
  • Ushio and Tora: Western Serpent God Shibumori is an unusual spin on this, being apparently a giant single-headed serpent (coiled around the body of a monk) who can split its head in four segments, allowing him to attack from multiple sides like a Hydra. He's also Made of Iron but it's unknown if he can regenerate, as his opponents end up swallowing him whole to defeat his defense

  • Marie de' Medici Cycle: A many-headed hydra shows up to get slain in "Reconciliation of the Queen and her Son", struck down by Divine Providence and symbolizing the end of Marie and Louis's conflict.
  • Stanisław Szukalski's sculpture "Rooster of the Gauls" shows the titular creature — an unofficial national symbol of France — in battle with a three-headed hydra, representing Nazi Germany. The sculpture was made as a tribute to La Résistance during World War II. The sculpture that exists was actually supposed to just be a proof-of-concept miniature for a truly monumental one he wanted to build, which he was hoping to get the United States to fund as a gift to France, reciprocating the gift of the Statue of Liberty. Sadly, the government turned down his proposal.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Hydras are the iconic creatures of Green, the color of nature, instincts, and the wilderness, playing the same role for it that angels do for White and demons do for Black. Their heads can number anywhere from four or five to a full dozen. Most are quadrupedal, but some have only two limbs. Many have mechanics themed around increasing their strength when they're dealt damage, symbolizing new heads growing from the stumps of severed ones.
    • The hydras native to Dominaria and Rath are Red- rather than Green-aligned, and live in mountains and volcanic badlands; as these were the first hydra cards printed in real life, this is an artifact from before the hydra creature type settled into its current identity. Occasional Red specimens still turn up in Dominaria in modern sets, such as Shivan Devastator, a winged, fire-breathing Dragon Hydra.
    • Several hydras, such as those from Tarkir and those from Amonkhet, are snakelike to the point of explicitly having cobra hoods and heads, and are typed as both Snakes and Hydras.
    • Due to the association with Green magic, Plant Hydras are relatively common. Ravnica is home to phytohydras, serpentine carnivorous plants that only grow back more and more energetically the more they're cut back. Briar Hydra is a tree-like beast with roots for feet and wooden necks and heads. Genesis Hydra appears as a normal hydra with wooden flesh and leafy manes. Rampant Rejuvenator is a living, branching vine with glowing pods for "heads".
    • In the Theros block, the planeswalker Elspeth Tirel has to fight Polukranos, a hydra that is dubbed the World Eater with very little apparent hyperbole, which used to lair in the realm of the gods before literally falling to earth as a result of a battle between two deities.
    • The fairytale plane of Eldraine is home to turtle hydras modeled after the Tarasque, Steelbane Hydra and Thunderous Snapper, which resemble giant, multi-headed turtles. They inhabit the Wilds outside of the main realms and are frequent foes of wandering knights.
    • Unusual hydras include the Apex Devastator is a Chimera Hydra with the heads of five different creatures including a lion, a bird, and a goat, and the Whiptongue Hydra, which resembles a five-headed chameleon.
    • Alara has Progenitus, the hydra avatar of the reunited plane. To reflect Alara's reborn state as a plane with all five colors of magic, Progenitus is also a five-colored creature.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics:
    • The Monster Society of Evil has a literal Hydra created by Mister Mind, which, when it loses a head, grows it back with the head of another animal. At first, it resembles a kangaroo with a human head, but the new heads it grows are those of a dog, a lion and an ox.
    • Wonder Woman faced one of these fairly early in the George Pérez run of volume 2; she overcame it through the fairly Boring, but Practical tack of tying all its heads together with her unbreakable lasso, then piercing its heart with arrows.
  • Godzilla: Rage Across Time: In Ancient Greece, Godzilla battles the Hydra. He defeats it by blasting Mount Olympus and letting the Hydra get crushed by the falling rocks.
  • The second volume of The Loud House graphic novels features a story entitled "10-Headed Beast", in which Lincoln imagines himself as a barbarian fighting a hydra version of his sisters.
    • It got a short adaptation with an extended plot in 2020.

    Fan Works 
  • The Element of Time: Hydras have two legs and inflexible tails, and always start out with three heads but can naturally grow two more for every one that gets cut off without the wound getting immediately closed off somehow. They also have immensely acidic and toxic blood capable of dissolving most metals, and the one Naruto summons is capable of spitting the stuff thanks to DNA from Alex implanted into it during its creation.
  • Ice and Fire (Minecraft): Hydras are three-headed serpents found in swamps. They fight by shooting streams of poison and can only be killed by being burned to death. They fangs can be used to craft powerful poisoned arrows and their hearts give regeneration when held.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: During Season 1's Beach Episode, Dib and his friends discover a sea serpent slumbering offshore; when fought, it's quickly determined that it's a hydra, which grows new heads every time one's cut off or mortally damaged. And then, when they try using the "cauterize the stump" trick, the fire causes it to mutate into a demonic form, with Dib noting that demon sea hydras are ridiculous even by their standards.
  • Saga (Metroid): While it's not clear if "Void Hydra" is a term actually used by Viper's species or if it's an exonym, due to Viper's origins being a near total unknown in-universe, Viper is described as a hydra more often than anything else. Unlike most examples of the trope, some of the heads are on their tail. Also noteworthy is that Viper has fur and takes after mammalian creatures such as deer as much as they do after serpents.
  • The Sword of Justice and the Shield of Time: One new Witch takes this form, being a large three-headed serpent. Unlike the hydra of myth, it doesn't split off new heads after getting them blown off by Homura's missiles, but it does regrow them without issue. Sayaka and Homura are forced to destroy the glowing red core inside its body to finally kill it.

    Films — Animation 
  • Hercules: Hercules faces the iconic multi-headed serpent early in his hero career. The creature's face is rather disturbingly humanoid and it drags its bulky body with its only two birdlike talons. The Hydra starts out with only one head, but three new ones grow in the place of each cranium lost. This happens after Hercules is initially swallowed whole by the Hydra, in which the hero slashes his way out of the monster's throat. Soon the Hydra has thirty heads. The multi-headed monster is eventually defeated when it pins Hercules to a cliffside and the hero uses his super strength to cause an avalanche on top of the monster.
  • Hercules (Pure Magic): Hercules hallucinates fighting and losing against a Hydra (pronounced "heedra") after being poisoned with Hades' nectar, destroying Thebes and injuring Deianira during his stupor. Shortly after, King Eurystheus reveals that Deianira is fated to die unless Hercules can slay the real Hydra. The Hydra serves as a Disc-One Final Boss, and each of its heads has a different power: one can spit green slime that hardens like concrete, one can turn into weapons and fly separated from the body, one breathes fire, one shoots lightning from its eyes, and the final one is immortal and can regenerate any of the other heads that have been destroyed, although the number of heads it regrows is equal to the number it lost rather than greater.
  • Monsters University: One of the professional scarers seen at work is a reptilian creature with three heads. Terri/Terry, the two-headed member of the Oozma Kappa team, is particularly excited to see a fellow multi-header working for Monsters, Inc.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla: King Ghidorah, Godzilla's Arch-Enemy, is partly inspired by the Greek Hydra and the Japanese Orochi as well as the Slavic dragon Zmey (specifically by way of its appearance in the Soviet fantasy film Ilya Muromets). The name "Ghidorah" comes from the Japanese pronunciation of "hydra".
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Ghidorah takes the hydra similarities further by having heads that can grow back when destroyed (though they thankfully stay at three). This version of Ghidorah is also specifically referred to as a hydra at one point.
  • The Loves of Hercules, despite ostensibly depicting the hydra from Greek myth, seems to have combined it with Cerberus. This hydra is a quadrupedal dragon with three heads, guarding the gates of the underworld. Strangest of all, when Hercules cuts off one of its heads, it simply dies, rather than regenerating.
  • Jason and the Argonauts: The Hydra appears as the guardian of the Golden Fleece and is killed when Jason stabs it in the heart, bypassing its traditional ability to regrow severed heads, and its teeth are later used to animate skeletal warriors. It's effectively a Composite Character of the actual Hydra, the Colchian dragon (which guarded the Golden Fleece in the original myth), and Cadmus' dragon (whose teeth grew into fierce soldiers when sown).
  • Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb: A Living Statue of Xiangliu, the hydra's counterpart from Chinese folklore, turns up as a minor antagonist. Since the statue is made of metal, Larry takes it out by using a defibrillator to give it an electric shock and knock it down.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: In The Lightning Thief, a hydra disguised as five janitors attacks our heroes at the Parthenon replica in Nashville when they attempt to retrieve the second pearl from the statue of Athena. The monster breathes fire from its middle head and is able to sprout two new heads when one is cut, but is ultimately defeated by Grover who uses Medusa's head to turn the hydra into a harmless statue.
  • Variation Hydra, a 2020 Chinese DTV monster movie revolving around a film crew's investigations of the legend of a nine-headed giant snake monster living in the mountains. It turns out All Myths Are True, and that there's more than one of them...

  • Sorcery! have an encounter where you battle a hydra with the heads of gods. It's a Hopeless Boss Fight where you do not have a single change of beating it, but as it turns out you're supposed to let the hydra hit you - it's actually an illusion, and getting hurt by it removes the illusion immediately.

  • Bofuri: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense.: Maple faces a Hydra with three heads and poison breath. With judicious timing of Health potions, she tanks its breath attacks until she gains an immunity to poison. When it tries to constrict Maple in one of its necks, she finds that she can't hurt it with her attacks. so she eats it instead.
  • Book of Imaginary Beings: The Lernaean Hydra, the child of Typhon and Echidna, was a many-headed monster — most writers gave it seven heads, but some said fifty or even a hundred — which in some accounts were human. Two heads sprouted for every one cut off, and one head was immortal. It lived in the swamps around the lake of Lerna until killed by Hercules and Iolaus, who prevented its regrowth by branding its wounds with a burning iron and burying its immortal head under a rock. The head is still alive and lies under that rock to this day, hating and dreaming.
  • Dracopedia: Hydras are a family of dragons distinguished by possessing multiple heads per body. Typically, hydras are born with two and grow more as they age and become larger; they can regrow severed heads, but this takes them about a year and thus isn't very useful during combat. Their multiple heads allow the animal to remain constantly aware of its environment by taking turns sleeping, but their small size compared to the rest of the body mean that hydras are notoriously small-brained and unintelligent. They mostly live around bodies of water, such as swamps, rivers and the sea, and use their long necks to fish for prey. Most possess stout, dinosaur-like bodies, but others are snakelike and limbless. Notable species include the European bull hydra, considered the archetypal hydra in-universe; the salamander-like Japanese orochi; the three-headed, short-necked cerebrus [sic] hydra, often kept as a guard animal, which unlike other hydras never grows additional heads; the stout-bodied medusan hydra; the winged hydra; the Indiana hydra or naga; the snake-bodied Lernaean hydra, which ambushes prey by hanging from tree branches; and the marine hydra of Melanesia, which spends most of its life in the sea.
  • The Dragon With a Hundred Heads and the Dragon With a Hundred Tails, a Jean de La Fontaine fable, is about a man who saw a hundred-headed hydra try and fail to pass through a hedge, while the dragon with a single head and a hundred tails easily pushed through, respectively as allegories for the many disparate forces of the Holy Roman Empire and the unified army of the Turks. This is supposedly based on an even older story told by Genghis Khan on why he could easily beat the squabbling tribes of Mongolia though they outnumbered him.
  • Fablehaven: A fifteen-headed hydra named Hespera is the first guardian of the Dragon Temple in Wyrmroost.
  • Fate/Apocrypha: Kairi Sisigou notices a preserved baby hydra in a jar while discussing the Holy Grail War at the Mage's Association and asks for it as part of his advance payment. He later uses it to create an antidote to the poison used by Semiramis, allowing Mordred to finish their fight and cripple Semiramis for the rest of the war.
  • Goblin Slayer: The dinosaur-like Mokele-Mbembe is stated to be a hydra; it's just young, and the extra heads have yet to come with age.
  • How Not to Summon a Demon Lord: The Force Hydra has four heads and though the heads don't multiply when cut off, they do regenerate instantly. One head breathes fire, one breathes ice, one breathes wind, and one breathes sand. It can only die if a tiny core in its body is destroyed, but the core constantly moves around. Diablo kills it with a really huge lightning blast that completely incinerates it.
  • The Labours of Hercules: Poirot investigates a rumor that a village doctor killed his wife to marry his dispenser, the metaphorical hydra being that every time one source of the rumor is tracked down, a new source appears, allowing the rumor to persist.
  • Les Dieux S Amusent features a parodic retelling of Hercules' labors in which the author holds that instead of cauterizing the stumps (because why should a Healing Factor that can fix decapitation fail against mere fire), the hero instead grafted a sheep's head on each neck, not only preventing the chopped head from regenerating but causing a septic infection that killed off another head, allowing Hercules to kill two heads for every head he added.
  • Ology Series: Dragonology describes hydras as a species of dragon native to the shores of the Mediterranean and Black Seas, where they lair in the ruins of dead civilizations, and distinguished by their multiple heads (generally between three and seven, but sometimes more), atrophied wings and a bipedal, birdlike stance. In addition to being able to regrow lost heads, the actual severed heads can regrow new hydras of their own — indeed, this is their main way of reproducing. They also feed primarily upon other dragons' young, but are quite happy to eat humans when baby dragons aren't around.
  • Overlord (2012): Saryasu keeps a pet hydra named Rororo he reared from a hatchling, which looks like a Brachiosaurus with four snake heads and necks.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Hydra from Classical Mythology appears in the second book of the series. Like all monsters, it has Resurrective Immortality and is the only one of its kind. It appears as a massive water serpent with an initial nine heads. Unlike most monsters, its life force has been magically tied to a doughnut shop, and a new location of the franchise magically opens whenever it regrows two heads. Annabeth scolds Percy when he cuts off one of its heads, as even he knew what would happen. Before they can figure out how to deal with the beast, Clarisse vaporizes it with a cannon.
  • Redwall: Invoked in Triss, where a trio of newly-hatched adders had their tails entwined by the flail of King Sarengo, the rat who'd gotten in a Mutual Kill with their mother. As they grew into adulthood, the chain remained wrapped around them, so they had to learn to move as a team. They are horrifying in close combat, and for most of the book, terrorize characters by their mere presence, the raw and rotting flesh of their tails giving off a sickeningly sweet odor.
  • Star Wars Legends: Battle hydras are creatures resembling traditional Western dragons with two heads mounted on long, snake-like necks, although some have more, and with tails tipped with poisonous stingers. They were created by the Sith Lord Exar Kun as war monsters during the Great Sith War. They're normally fairly reclusive creatures that avoid contact with sapient beings but are easily dominated by Dark Side users. After Exar Kun's defeat, they largely retreated into the wildernesses of Yavin 4.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Hydras appear as threats to the heroes at various points through this series and its spinoffs. They're all descended from the original three-headed Lernaean Hydra, which was killed by Hercules and Iolaus.
  • Discussed in Kaamelott as a kind of monster one can encounter while Dungeon Crawling:
    Léodagan: A room full of bags of gold — and to guard the whole thing, a six-headed hydra.
    Arthur: A six-headed hydra?!
    Léodagan: Yes, your majesty! Myself, I've already done a four-headed one, well it wasn't a walk in the park, I can assure you.
    Arthur: I've done a six-headed one, once.
    Léodagan: Ah yeah? And so...
    Arthur: I nearly got wasted.
    Léodagan: Oh?
    Arthur: And we were three. You're sure about this?
    Léodagan: Well, to tell the truth, I asked for something hard, so we could gloat a bit when we'll be back...
    Arthur: Yeah, but with a six-headed hydra, we aren't going to gloat for long, I can tell you...

  • "Bang A Gong (Get It On)", by the glam rock band T. Rex, contains this cryptic line:
    You've got the teeth of the hydra upon you

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology:
    • Greek mythology is the Trope Maker through the Lernaean Hydra, a monstrous nine-headed snake that lived in the swamps of Lerna and guarded one of the entrances to the underworld. A creature of poison, its breath and blood were both fatally toxic and, in some versions, even its scent was deadly. The creature was a daughter of the primordial monsters Typhon and Echidna, like many of the other multi-headed or hybrid monsters of Classical myth, and was eventually slain by Heracles during his second labor, scorching the stumps of the Hydra's heads to keep them from growing back and burying its last immortal head beneath a rock. He then dipped his arrows in the Hydra's blood, turning them permanently poisonous. One interpretation of the original hydra myth was that it served as a symbol of the Lernean swamp itself, where plugging up one spring would cause another to spring up shortly after.
    • Heracles would later encounter Ladon, the dragon of the Hesperides, which was sometimes described as having a hundred heads, though these heads did not regrow after being destroyed.
  • Slavic Mythology: represented by Zmey Gorynych (wyrm of the mountains), something of a fusion between a "traditional" western dragon and the classical hydra. In addition to the four limbs and wings of a traditional dragon, Gorynych typically has three heads. In some tales, he is, however, the first and weakest member of a family of multi-headed monsters with 3, 6, 9, and 12 heads. Unlike the Hydra, the Zmey is often sapient and always associated with fire, possessing fiery breath and often a fiery finger. This finger is used to reattach removed heads and must obviously by removed by the hero fighting the monster.
  • Chinese Mythology: The Xiangliu or Xiangyao is a monstrous, nine-headed snake demon that brings flooding and destruction. It was originally portrayed as having all of its heads cluttered on a single neck, but modern depictions show it as having each head resting on its own separate neck, much like the classical hydra. According to the myth, the Xiangliu terrorized ancient China spreading pollution and decay wherever it went and spoiling water with its breath before it was slain by Yu the Great.
  • Japanese Mythology: Yamata no Orochi is a gigantic, eight-headed, eight-tailed dragon that was killed by the storm god Susano-o, who found the sword Kusanagi hidden inside one of the serpent's tails. One commonly depicted weakness of the Orochi is intoxication, as the legend had Susano-o feed it eight barrels of sake, and slew it as it was passed out drunk.
  • Guaraní mythology: Teju Jagua, the first son of Tau and Keraná's cursed matrimony, is described as a draconic creature with canine traits that can shoot fire from his eyes. One version claims he has seven heads, giving him a strong resemblance to the hydra, but others claim he only has one huge head. All versions agree in that he has very limited movement and as such prefers to spend all day resting in his cave, rolling over his collection of jewels and treasures while eating fruit and honey.
  • The herren-surge of Basque folklore is a seven-headed serpent which is able to fly without any wings. It dwells in caves and behaves much like the usual Western dragon.
  • Albanian mythology has the Ljubi, a feminine serpent-like demon associated with water and storms. She is described as having multiple heads, up to hundreds depending on the version, and, just like her Greek counterpart, if one is cut, another grows in its place. She's also said to have a particular fondness toward human meat, especially the flesh of little girls. There's also the Kulshedra, a semi-divine multi-headed female dragon that is capable of spitting fire and unleashing natural disasters such as thunderstorms, earthquakes, flooding, and droughts among others. To stop her, she must be assuaged with a Human Sacrifice. Because of the similarities between both figures, some scholars believe both may be one and the same.
  • Zanzibar folklore has the Neeo'ka Mkoo' from the tale of Haamdaanee, which is a humongous seven-headed snake tyrannically lording over people in a town. Gales of dust kick up whenever he comes around to eat and drink his fill, which happens to be once every other day at noon!
  • The seven-headed dragon of Kanlaon is a myth in Philippine mythology of a dragon with seven heads that came regularly to a kingdom to devour its maidens. It was slain by the folk hero La-On, who, with his ability to summon and speak to animals, sent ants and bees to bite and sting its underbelly and eagles to peck its eyes, allowing him to slay it as it was distracted. Its corpse was buried where it fell, which became the volcano Mount Kanlaon: "the mountain that breathes fire like a dragon."

    Tabletop Games 
  • 13th Age: Hydras are massive serpents with at least five heads, and can sprout more when wounded.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Hydras are large, four-legged reptiles in all editions except the fourth, which depicts them as limbless, and can have anywhere from five to twelve heads, with two new ones growing in whenever one is lost. They inhabit swamps and other areas of stagnant water and are some of the most dangerous things living there short of black dragons, with whom they often compete when they coexist.
    • While hydras aren't dragons, some scholars believe that they share a common ancestor — a minor scholarly tradition that believes dragons to descend from wyvern-like creatures rather than having been created by the gods holds that certain ancient skeletons of multi-headed reptiles are the remains of mutated proto-dragons who later evolved into modern hydras. Fifth Edition changes it to them having been created by the shed blood of a primordial dragon goddess named Lernaea who was slain by Tiamat at the beginning of time, before the age of elves, humans, or dwarves.
    • Hydra body parts have a surprising number of uses: hydra tongues hung from a pole, for instance, will change color rather dramatically depending on the approaching weather, while hydra fat mixed with corn meal makes for extremely effective rat bait and powdered hydra bone is a potent desiccant.
    • A couple of variants exist, including cryohydras, which can breathe out clouds of icy mist, and pyrohydras, which breathe fire instead. Gulguthydras are magical hybrids of hydras and otyughs, with six heads and a pair of tails tipped with grasping appendages; they're ravenous devourers of anything organic, from humans and halflings to trees. Dracohydras are a variant created by magically combining hydra blood with the magic of chromatic dragons; they resemble winged dragons with multiple heads belonging to several different chromatic breeds, alongside several snake-like tails, and are voracious predators due to each head demanding a feast of its own when hunting.
    • Forgotten Realms: Nagahydras are a large variant of naga whose bodies fork into multiple necks and heads, each of a different color, which will grow back if severed unless the stump is seared with fire.
  • Earthdawn: Hydras were created when a human sorcerer stole a clutch of dragon eggs and fused the hatchlings into a single, many-headed monster. They've been breeding on their own since then, but dragons view them as abominations and believe they should be wiped out.
  • Godforsaken: Hydras are serpents with five or more writhing heads, each of which constantly exhales a venomous plume. They are well over six meters long from the tip of their longest heads to their thrashing tails, and can sprout new heads when wounded. Some are terrestrial, while others are aquatic. Most seem to have been set as guardians of important places by higher powers, which is probably why they're so difficult to kill.
  • GURPS: GURPS Fantasy Bestiary describes the original Hydra of myth as a unique monster with nine heads and four legs, but notes that GMs may redefine it as a whole species of creatures with varying numbers of heads. They can attack multiple times per round and cannot be stunned or knocked out, thanks to their multiple heads, and if one is cut off two more grow from the stump and reach full size in a few rounds unless cauterized with flame. The body instantly dies if all heads are severed, and the heads die quickly if the main body is killed. The text also notes the original myth having one immortal, unkillable head, and leaves dealing with such a thing as an exercise for the players.
  • Pathfinder: Hydras resemble giant, multi-headed snakes, are about as bright as dolphins, and have varying numbers of heads topped with bony crests used in signaling and intimidation. Besides that, their appearance can vary greatly between individuals — any given hydra's features may resemble snakes, crocodiles or even dragons. They have a Healing Factor on top of their regenerating heads, and the energy needed to fuel both things makes them constantly hungry and ravenous predators. They prefer to inhabit swamps and other wetlands, but can be found in any environment with easy access to standing water.
    • Their ability to regrow heads is also how hydras procreate. They constantly gestate embryonic heads at the bases of their necks, which quickly grow to adulthood if the neck they're growing in is severed. If they're not released this way, however, the gestating heads are either coughed up as slimy, egg-like cysts, which the parent hydra then incubates until swarms of snake-like larvae emerge, or just tear their way out of their neck, with the largest one grafting itself to the parent's body as a replacement head and the rest moving away as a swarm. Either way, hydras don't look after their young past hatching and the larvae set off on their own, with the strongest individuals eventually sprouting new heads and leaving their siblings to find territories of their own. Since hydras reproduce entirely asexually, other members of their species are only competitors to them, and hydras will typically fight when they meet.
    • Numerous varieties exist in addition to the common, swamp-dwelling, acid-vomiting kind, including fire-breathing pyrohydras whose flaming attacks make them very effective at countering other hydras' regeneration; ice-breathing cryohydras; three-headed schism hydras capable of splitting in half like amoebas; warden hydras geared, like the Lernaean one, towards protecting holy sites; grave hydras infused with necromantic energy; and extremely powerful, quadrupedal, twelve-headed miasma hydras, which have caustic blood and can breathe clouds of toxic gas.
    • Thessalhydras are not true hydras — they're typed as Aberrations rather than Magical Beasts, to begin with — but resemble monstrous and warped versions of their namesakes, being hulking, quadrupedal reptiles with stout tails ending in a giant crab pincer and necks topped with a gaping, jawless maw ringed with writhing snake necks capable of spewing intensely acidic spit.
    • Pathfinder also has the gorynych — a three-headed dragon from Slavic folklore. All three heads breathe fire. Although they are considered dragon-type creatures, they are no friends of the "true" dragons, and frequently feud with Green and Black dragons for territory and treasure, while weaker dragons — like wyverns and drakes — they may bully into servitude. They also love to magically disguise themselves as human to mess pick up humanoid chicks.
  • Rifts: Hydras are a type of aggressive, bestial Dragon. They typically have seven heads, and each has a different Breath Weapon.
  • RuneQuest: Hydras are Chaos monsters with reptilian bodies and multiple heads. They are divided into lesser hydrae, which usually weigh more than 200 kilograms, have between two and twelve heads, and cannot regrow lost heads, and greater hydra, which can be as large as small cities, can possess as many as seventy-two heads, and have many magical powers.
  • Shadowrun: Hydras are large, seven- or nine-headed dragon relatives native to Greece. They're fairly indiscriminate omnivores with a diet ranging from aquatic vegetation to cattle and humans. Of note, the different heads don't have distinct wills — the craniums only contain sensory ganglia; the real brain is at the base of the spine. There's a more aquatic species, the hydra-wyrm, which possesses gills and seal-like flippers on its hind limbs; while normally native to lakes and estuaries, it has been developing greater salt tolerance and spreading into the Aegean proper. The hydra-wyrm was the default hydra in the 2nd edition Paranormal Animals of Europe sourcebook that introduced hydras to Shadowrun, but was retconned into being a distinct aquatic variant in later material.
  • Star Wars d20: Geonosian hydras are immense winged insects with three heads, although some specimens have more. They live deep beneath Geonosis' few, small seas, occasionally emerging to prey on Geonosian hives.
  • The Strange: Hydras are creations of Lotan with five or more heads, and assimilate the heads of their victims into their collective self if these possess useful knowledge or skills. A hydra will shed excess heads if it gains more than it can easily manage, which will braid together to form a new hydra.
  • Tails of Equestria: In addition to the swamp-dwelling kind from the cartoon, there are also gloombrine hydras, which have fish tails instead of legs and live deep in the ocean.
  • Talislanta: Kaliyas are dragons with up to seven heads. They are intelligent, breathe fire and smoke, and can do magic as well.
  • Warhammer: Hydras are immense, powerful and multi-headed monsters in the Dark Elf army roster. They're typically shown with five heads specifically, often topped by pointed, bony crests, and as having powerfully built, quadrupedal bodies, although models from the first few editions of the game show them as gigantic multi-headed snakes instead. They're seemingly entirely ageless, as no hydra has ever been recorded as dying of old age — all known hydras lived for centuries or millennia, never decreasing in strength or vigor, until being killed by something else. While only a few are left in the Old World, many still lurk in the Chaos Wastes and in the Dark Elven homeland of Naggaroth. Dark Elven war hydras are a distinct and especially fearsome breed, as their masters have spent millennia perfecting the already formidable beasts through magic and selective breeding. As a unit, their special rule Another Takes its Place allows them to randomly regenerate from damage at the start of each turn, representing a new head suddenly growing from a bloody stump. An article on White Dwarf #261 describes a couple of hydra variants further bred and magically modified by the Dark Elves: royal hydras are created from particularly successful war hydras through the dark magic of the dark elven king and have acidic blood and bony armor, while spellthirster hydras are highly resistant to magic at the cost of being physically weaker than the normal kind.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Mythology: Naturally Hydras appear as a myth unit for the Greeks. They're depicted as large quadrupedal reptiles which begin with only one head but can grow up to five as they kill enemy units. With each head grown the creature's attack power increases.
  • Age of Wonders: Hydras are giant, six-headed quadrupedal reptiles that can be recruited as high-end monsters by the Draconians in Age of Wonders 2. They have regeneration and immunity to poison in addition to the dragon descriptor, which they share with other dragons but which drakes and wyverns do not have, making hydras true dragons where these other creatures are not.
  • Bloodborne has the large Snake Balls in the Forbidden Woods. Like the mythical hydras, they're large, multi-headed, serpentine monsters with poisonous breath and blood. Unlike most depictions of hydras, they're land-dwellers, not sea creatures.
  • Crypt Killer: The Hydra boss looks more like a plesiosaur with eight dragon heads, rather than a serpent. It also averts the Hydra Problem — its severed heads don't regenerate, and after removing all the heads the boss battle then ends.
  • Digimon: Hydramon is a giant carnivorous plant with a body made out of tangled vines and three heads on snakelike necks. Its central head has four eyes and a split, snake-like lower jaw; its left and right heads are eyeless and have maws filled with glowing structures.
  • Dominions: Hydras are available units for the serpent-worshippers of Pythium and their Sauromatian ancestors. In the Late Age of Pythium, they have sacred status. Sauromatia and Late Age Pythium can also summon a unique hydra known as the Daughter of Typhon.
  • Dragon City: Hydra dragons are wingless, four-headed dragons described as having poisonous breath — although in practice their attacks are all electricity- or water-based — and are rumored to be able to grow back two heads for every one cut off.
  • Dragon's Dogma: Four-headed, very aggressive snakes. Their heads regrow if severed unless fire is used, but they do not sprout additional ones.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Hydras are megabeasts — extremely rare, gigantic and powerful monsters, a category also including rocs and dragons — described as dragon-like beasts with seven heads. While only around half the size of other megabeasts, they can attack with all seven heads at once, thus overwhelming single opponents or keeping multiple attackers at bay simultaneously. They also possess a strong Healing Factor, a rarity in the game, that allows them to heal a hundred times faster than other creatures can, although they cannot actually regrow lost heads.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy: 3, 4, and 5 feature multiheaded dragons (but only their heads fit on the battle screen, and only in 3 does the dragon have a body on the overworld). They're particularly dangerous because, in addition to strong attacks, high HP and defenses, at least one head will have healing magic, and in 5 you actually need to kill all three heads within a turn of each other or they'll revive one another indefinitely.
  • EverQuest: The Plane of Time is where Zebuxoruk, the "Un-god of Knowledge", is held prisoner by the other gods. As the mortal adventurers defeat each god that tries to stop them, the four elemental gods form together as a four-headed hydra named Quarm to serve as the last line of defense. Each head is made of a different element — earth, fire, water, and air. A head gets cut off at each 25% of its life taken off.
  • Final Fantasy: Hydras are recurring enemies typically found in swamps and rivers. Early games tend to portray them as many-headed snakes, but post-Final Fantasy V they're usually polycephalic dragons instead. Draconic hydras are usually wingless, but the ones in Final Fantasy Adventure and Final Fantasy Dimensions have dragon wings. They have only two heads in Final Fantasy IV, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and Final Fantasy Adventure — the hydras in IV are essentially giant two-headed snakes — and Orochis appear in several games as green Palette Swaps of hydras.
  • Flight Rising: There are two multiheaded dragon breeds; Emperors, who are massive undead made when dead Imperial dragons of different elements are left near each other; and Aberrations, a Plague breed who gained an extra head and tail after swimming in the Wyrmwound. There is also boss enemies in the Volcanic Vents area called Hydras, who look like huge, three-headed snakes, but they aren’t connected to the aforementioned breeds.
  • God of War features a hydra supposedly descended from the Lernaean one, which unlike the original is explicitly a Sea Monster.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Several hydra variants appear, essentially giant three-headed venom-spewing snakes whose unique ability is a triple bite attack (the strongest one, the Pyrodra, breathes fire as well). One, somehow formed from several cuttlefish-like monsters joining together, is fought as a boss.
    • The Doom Dragon is the three-headed final boss of Golden Sun: The Lost Age. While it doesn't respawn heads, it has an interesting mechanic to let it counter the Disc-One Nuke summon rush strategy (where huge damage is done in one turn, but leaves the summoner vulnerable and greatly weakened for several turns) where every head is treated as a separate battle, meaning any extra damage done to one head is wasted.
  • Guild Wars has three-headed Hydras which are fire-specialized Elementalists, with a signature ability being either Meteor or Meteor Storm. A group of Hydras can be very dangerous as they can chain-stun and kill the players in one round.
  • Guild Wars 2 calls back to the original's Hydras in the Path of Fire expansion. The Hydras are significantly larger and more dangerous, having gained a fire breath ability, universal access to Meteor Storms, and even the weakest being Veteran ranked or higher. In addition, at certain health break points one of the two side heads will be cut off and become a separate enemy which thrashes around and bites any nearby player.
  • Hades: The second boss is the Lernaean Bone Hydra, the skeletal remains of the legendary monster that now serve as guardian of Asphodel. Each time it loses a third of its health, it grows additional heads while the main one turns invincible, forcing you to kill all the other heads before you can keep damaging it.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic: Hydras are large, powerful monsters available to certain factions as high-tier units, and can usually attack multiple foes at once. They're explicitly many-headed snakes in the earlier games, but later installments depict them as quadrupedal creatures with elephantine gaits instead (Heroes of Might and Magic IV effectively splits the difference by having its hydras drag themselves along on only two sprawled limbs).
    • In the first two games, the hydra is spawned from the Swamp building; the third game changes this to the Hydra Pond.
    • The basic hydra in Heroes of Might and Magic V has only three heads, but can be upgraded to a six-headed deep hydra or foul hydra. They're thought to be bestial and primitive relatives of dragons and have been captured by the dark elves to serve as creatures of war. Foul hydras have dangerously caustic blood, seemingly from having fed upon large numbers of Giant Spiders.
  • Hey! Pikmin: The final boss, the Berserk Leech Hydroe, is a three-headed, four-legged monster that can fly and spit poison. However, it's a plant controlled by a parasite instead of a flesh-and-blood creature.
  • IDOLA: Phantasy Star Saga: The minor Idola "Hydra", a three-headed dragon creature that's a fan of spitting poison bile at your team. Its individual parts are just its separate heads, which disappear as you destroy them.
  • The Last Federation: The game's solar system used to be ruled by the Hydrals, a species of four-headed snakelike aliens.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The original game features the multi-headed wyvern Gleeok, whose heads thankfully do not regrow when severed, but burst into flames and fly about the room attacking while you deal with the remaining heads still attached to the body, making the four-headed variant an especially tough fight. This boss would not reappear in a main console installment until The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, almost 40 years later, having managed to develop Fire, Ice, Lightning abilities.
    • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past: The dungeon boss Trinexx resembles a four-legged dragon/turtle with three heads: a central one, one that spits fire, and one that spits ice.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Staldras are enemies resembling three-headed snake skeletons; all three heads need to be sliced off with one swipe to kill them, otherwise they simply regenerate and put the monster back to full health. Their name is a portmanteau of hydra and the stal- prefix associated with skeletal enemies in the series.
  • Lorwolf: Two different color morphs appear as companions, namely the Coral Hydra and Whirlpool Hydra. They're drawn as viper-like snakes with 3 heads and live in shallow water.
  • Spartan: Total Warrior has a uniquely insectoid take on the Lernaean Hydra, with multiple spider-like eyes and Predator-like mandibles on each head.
  • Pokémon:
    • Hydreigon (note the name) is a darkness-aligned dragon with three heads and six wings.note 
    • Hydrapple (also note the name) is a more traditional example that's also a subversion. Known as the Apple Hydra Pokémon, it looks like a multi-headed hydra (usually with one head by default but can grow four more), but is actually seven "syrpents" hiding in one giant apple made of syrup.
  • Quest for Glory V: The Hydra appears in one of the rites of rulership. It is described as a three-headed dragon, and its heads will regrow unless fire is used to cauterize the stumps.
  • The mythological Hydra itself appears as the first boss in Shin Megami Tensei V. This game depicts it with eyeless Xenomorph-esque faces and teeth, covered with masks decorated with patterns reminiscent of Greek pottery. Much like its traditional depiction, it has Toxic Breath as a unique skill.
  • Skylanders: A Hydra (or rather, a Hydragon) appears as the most powerful of Kaos' minions in the first game. This appears as a four-headed dragon, each head representing one of the four Eternal Elemental Sources Kaos tried to stop the player from getting and each head can use a different spell of Bullet Hell.
    • The Fire head has skin similar to cooled magma and summons moving fireballs that leave miniature volcanoes in their wake.
    • The Water head has a more fish-like appearance and unleashes a swarm of Doomsharks.
    • The Life head has leafy projections growing out of it and summons centipedes with orbs trailing behind it.
    • The Undead head resembles a skeletal goat and summons laser beams.
  • Titan Quest: The Lernean Hydra appears as a superboss in the swamps near Athens, though only on legendary difficulty. Smaller two-headed reptiles called Hydradons also appear as regular enemies.
  • To Arms!!: Due to the way unit mechanics work in this game, the Hydra enemy doesn't regrow heads; it actually regrows new hydras. The effect is the same, though; if you can't kill the spawning hydras fast enough, you'll get nowhere, and just end up with a deck full of hydras. They do at least provide some healing when they're fighting on your side.
  • Total War:
    • Total War: Warhammer: Hydras, gigantic, fire-breathing quadrupeds with five heads, are powerful monster units that can be fielded by the Dark Elves. They are far more outwardly snakelike than in the source material, having fully adder-like heads, forked snake tongues, and rattlesnake tails. There's also a Regiment of Renown version in the form of the Chill of Sontar, a legendary frost-breathing hydra with ice-blue scales. The Warden and the Paunch DLC additionally gives Greenskin factions the ability to temporarily recruit hydras in Waaagh armies when in Norsca, the Chaos Wastes or Naggaroth.
    • A Total War Saga: TROY: The Lernaean Hydra is a unique unit recruitable through a special quest. It's a massive, swamp-dwelling, nine-headed serpent with poisonous blood, toxic breath, and regeneration so potent that its last surviving head was able to regrow its entire body after being torn apart by Herakles.
  • Warcraft:
    • Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos: Hydras appear as neutral "creeps". They are three-headed, two-legged reptilian creatures. When a hydra is killed, two smaller hydras spawn from its corpse, as a variant on the usual regeneration. They also have high passive regeneration and will heal faster from wounds if left alone.
    • World of Warcraft: Hydras return as strong enemies and bosses, although they no longer split in two when killed. A distinct variant, with long horns and multiple eyes per head, is found in Outland, primarily in the fungal swamplands of Zangarmarsh. Their ancestors are found in the alternate timeline Draenor, and lack the Outland hydras' more alien features but are horned, quadrupedal and generally much more draconic in appearance than the previous types. Four legendary Draenor hydras are explicitly named from Greek mythology — Keravnosnote , Lernaea, Echidna, and Typhon.
  • Zeus: Master of Olympus:
    • The Hydra is a fire-spitting monster unleashed by Athena if she doesn't like you (although Ares sends it in one campaign), usually on marshy terrain, and is defeated either by building a Hero's Hall for Hercules or by sending lots and lots and lots of regular troops at it. It can talk but has a bad case of Sssnake Talk.
      Our ssstinging bitessss are our giftsss to you!
    • Scylla is depicted with a similar structure (but with human heads on snake necks, and it's aquatic), and the intro cinematic shows Typhon as having multiple snake heads as well before being buried under a mountain.

    Web Animation 

  • The Order of the Stick: The party once fights a hydra that keeps growing heads past the normal limit of twice its starting number of heads. Elan and Belkar keep chopping off heads until it grows too many for its blood supply to support and passes out. Then an enterprising goblin finds it and starts selling barbecued hydra heads.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: The Chimera runs across a Hydra that has managed to tie itself to a tree. Once the Chimera helps get them unstuck, they immediately get into an argument about whose fault it was. The Chimera sneaks away and they muse on how their situation could be much worse.

    Web Original 
  • Codex Inversus: Hydras are animals mutated by the influence of the Infinite Woods, which occasionally cause creatures to be born with many repeating heads, each smaller than the previous. These creatures usually perish quickly, but some, most often snakes, survive and can become monstrous predators.

    Western Animation 
  • Krapopolis: One episode featured a hydra named Camille that becomes adopted by Tyrannis' sister Stupendous. Like most depictions, this hydra is described as a quadrupedal dragon-like monster. However, she is fully sapient and capable of speech, with each of her heads having the same personality. She is later used by the Krapopolites as a telecommunications system which soon goes out of hand.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: A giant four-headed hydra, bipedal but lacking forelimbs, appears in "Feeling Pinkie Keen", inhabiting Froggy Bottom Bog, and attacks the main characters when they ventured into the swamp. Its heads' personalities are distinct enough for them to laugh at each other's misfortunes and for one to be somewhat slower on the uptake than the rest. It's later mentioned in "Molt Down" that hydras are among the most prevalent predators of young dragons alongside Roc Birds and tatzlwurms.

    Real Life 
  • There's a real-life animal named Hydra after the mythical monster. It's a small freshwater creature that bears little resemblance to its fantastic namesake. It may have been gotten its name either because it has numerous tentacles that resemble serpentine heads, or because it possesses remarkable regenerative abilities, being able to regrow from a single tentacle and never showing any form of senescence. It belongs to the class Hydrozoa which also includes several species of jellyfish and the iconic Portuguese Man o'War.


Video Example(s):


Hercules' Hydra

Hercules faces the iconic multi-headed serpent early in his hero career. Its face is rather disturbingly humanoid and it drags its bulky body with its only two birdlike talons. The creature starts out with only one head, but ''three'' new ones grow in the place of each cranium lost.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / OurHydrasAreDifferent

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