Zalgo is essentially what happens when you combine a Lovecraftian Eldritch Abomination with modern-day Internet Memetic Mutation and a dash of meta sensibility. Its origins are two strip hacks, one of Nancy wherein she invokes him to get out of "walking Aunt Fritzi's turds," turning her and a boy with her into monsters, and another of Archie whrerein Mr. Lodge tells him and Veronica to be wary of Zalgo and the end times, with a final panel of his pupils dilated, against a black background, screaming "ZALGO!"
The idea behind Zalgo is that he/she/it represents corruption. Corruption of innocence, corruption of normality, corruption of the world as we know it, the list goes on but you get the idea. Zalgo is the embodiment of that which is right decaying grotesquely into something very wrong.
The internet meme is to have corrupted text indicating his approach. We won't burden you with the font on this page, but you can see it here. This site will let you easily Zalgo-ify text. If your browser has trouble rendering the Zalgo text, try here or here.
Tropes associated with Zalgo:
- Apocalyptic Log: Many Zalgo incidents take this form.
- Body Horror: What is implied to happen to most Zalgo victims.
- Canon Welding: This blog seems to be an attempt to fuse Zalgo with The Slender Man Mythos. The blog is not alone, as comes this video series where Zalgo followers claim he will escape and end the world soon.
- Crippling Overspecialization: According to a comic by the meme originator, his powers are restricted to affecting cartoons and comics.
- Eldritch Abomination: The general assumption of what Zalgo is supposed to be. And yet he's too young and too nerdy to join the Great Old Ones.
- Eyeless Face: Zalgo is said to have no eyes. Most of the victims reflect that by either having no visible eyes or by having their irises and whites drain from their eyes.
- Eye Scream: What seems to happen to most things when he comes.
- Face-Revealing Turn: Happens in a lot of Zalgo comics.
- Generic Doomsday Villain: The reason that SCP Foundation refuse to take Zalgo as an SCP.
- Hive Mind: More than once, Zalgo has been described as "the Nezperdian Hive-mind of Chaos".
- Interface Screw: As you can see on the Self Demonstrating page, this is typically present in text representations of Zalgo.
- Knight of Cerebus: Considering that he usually corrupts lighthearted comic strips and cartoons, Zalgo could be considered a meta version of this.
- The Man Behind the Man: Some have suggested that the Slender Man answers to Zalgo.
- Mind Screw: Zalgo text may appear different depending on your browser.
- Musical Spoiler: Zalgo incidents are sometimes preluded by strange otherworldly sounds or music.
- Rule of Scary: This is the sole reason for Zalgo's existence.
- Shout-Out: Parts of the Zalgo creepypasta are adapted from Penny Arcade's infamous "I Hope You Like Text" strip.
- Spikes of Villainy: A combination of this and Red and Black and Evil All Over is the most common pattern of Zalgo's fan designs.
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Pretty much a given with the Lovecraftian similarities.
- Ur-Example: See first paragraph.
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Also goes along with being like Lovecraft.