Innsmouth Shoggoths

Innsmouth by the very talented artist John Dunn (

As identified in At the Mountains of Madness (ATMOM), the Elder Ones created the Shoggoths.  I explored this relationship of the “creators” and the “created” in a number of earlier articles, as well as discussed the biology of both entities.  While the Elder Ones are alien, originating from evolutionary processes on another world, they are made of the same matter as us.  This is in sharp contrast to the Mi-Go and the Spawn of Cthulhu which HPL has cited a number of times, and in a number of stories, are composed of different matter and are from “outside” of our known universe (or dimension or reality).

The Shoggoths can be considered a form of artificial life or “biological robots” since they were created to function as slave labor and cannot reproduce unless they are aided in some manner by the Elder Ones.  However, the Shoggoths are a form of Terran life since they were created on Earth; the success of biological experiments run by the Elder Ones.  This is sharp contrast to the rest of complex life (eukaryotic) on Earth, including humans, which are considered by the Elder Ones as being a “joke or mistake.”ATMOM_1964Cover of the 1964 edition of At the Mountains of Madness & Other Novels by H.P. Lovecraft

While Shoggoths are usually associated with ATMOM, they were mentioned in several other stories and poems written by HPL.  Specifically, Shoggoths were mentioned in The Shadow Over Innsmouth.  When old Zadok is in a drunken stupor, talking to Robert Olmstead, who is never mentioned by name in the story but whose name HPL supplied in subsequent notes (see An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia by S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, 2001 by Greenwood Press), he makes reference to Shoggoths….

“Them haouses north o’ the river be-twixt Water an’ Main Streets is full of em’-them devils an’ what they brung-an’ when they git ready…I say, what they git….ever hear tell of a Shoggoth?” – The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Also, as the Innsmouth “change” was altering Olmstead he begins to have strange dreams which includes this…

“This was the dream in which I saw a Shoggoth for the first time and the sight set me awake in a frenzy of screaming.  That morning the mirror definitely told me I had acquired the Innsmouth look.” – The Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Shoggoth by Pahko (  To me, this particular Shoggoth looks like it is trying to imitate a Deep One

So were the Deep Ones were in possession of Shoggoths?  Did they serve as beasts of burden for the Deep Ones?  Or were the Shoggoths fellow citizens in Y’ha Nthlei?  Did the Deep Ones or the ones they worship (Cthulhu and his spawn) acquire the ability to create Shoggoths or was they some type of “exchange of technology” between the Elder Ones and the Spawn of Cthulhu after their cosmic war had ended?

This is a very tantalizing piece of information,  which is open to a number of new story lines.  One I recently read where Shoggoths come to play in Innsmouth is a story called “Once More, from the Top…” by A. Scott Glancy in The Book of Cthulhu II (edited by Ross E. Lockhart).  I would recommend that story and entire books as well to anyone who is a fan of Lovecraftian horror.  In my mind (my hypothesis) is that the Innsmouth Shoggoths are smaller and there is a bit of bonding between particular Deep Ones and their Shoggoths – Steve Maschuck and I explore this idea in some of our stories.

Tekekli-Li!  by Darth Ivann

To conclude, HPL frequently “cross-pollenated” his stories with ideas from other stories.  For example a small sculpture of an Elder One shows up in The Dreams in the Witch House.  Speaking of which, the next article will focus on Lovecraft and some of his ideas on mathematics and non-Euclidean geometry.  Thank you.  Fred.


9 thoughts on “Innsmouth Shoggoths

  1. When contemplating shoggoths, I have formed an opinion about the “joke or mistake” that produced life on earth. It is impossible for any creature to exist within an ecology without changing it, if only by devouring local foodstuffs, and depositing their wastes. The shoggoths are biological. Thus, they eat and cast off waste. And of course the spoor would itself be contain terrestrial chemicals altered into a new form by their digestive systems. As Elders and shoggoths are largely aquatic, the substances would have contaminated or seeded the oceans, introducing molecules that would not have arisen, naturally.

    Is it possible that DNA and RNA are…shoggoth droppings? The Elders might have been surprised to discover that shoggoth spoor made of Terran substances were alive, and, after determining that it constituted no threat to them, allowed it to continue developing just to see what would occur. They could always “clean off” the planet if things got too rough, to borrow a Whateley euphemism.

    The “joke” element of the event would be a later interpretation of the event by man, himself. Nihilists might laugh a bit at the thought. They always thought that life was a piece of shoggoth-spoor, anyway. But what would some of the populace which, for example, was scandalized by Darwin think? “BLASPHEMOUS!”

    And if proof was provided? The rest would be madness.

    It might explain the high opinion Mythos creatures have of man. They knew us

    1. Hey Chuck:

      You touch on some very good points – some of which I addressed in some previous articles on the Shoggoths. There is the hypothesis that the Shoggoths are more “biological robots” or “super-eukaryotic” organisms, or possibly a community of microbial life all on their own, feeding on their own waste products. The fact that the planet is not covered with Shoggoths means they can not reproduce on their own; this creation of Shoggoths in the “breeding pits” must have been a controlled process overseen by the Elder Things. However, you make some excellent points. Samples of Shoggoths, humans and Deep Ones need to be compared to determine how closely related (if at all) we are! Fred

  2. Hi – Brian O’Connell here, just looking back at some of your older articles. This is all very interesting. I have a long theory of my own, so (if you dare to read it – I find mine pretty awful) pack your bags.

    Perhaps the Deep Ones granted the shoggoths some kind of special treatment in return for assistance (with making Cthulhu rise and obtaining human sacrifice)? We must remember that the shoggoths were very powerful and could use force against those who treated them adversely (poor, poor Elder Things!). And the Spawn of Cthulhu was never said to war against the shoggoths. Every alien body that came was turning on the Elder Things. Perhaps the Spawn learned from the mistakes of the Elder Things. Perhaps they took a few shoggoths. Perhaps the privileged them, gave them power in Y’ha-nth’lei and Devil Reef. If so…then the shoggoths might help in an infestation of Innsmouth. And during that night when Zadok Allen was a child, perhaps they were there. Perhaps the Deep Ones were going to bring them up again.

    There are other connections between Innsmouth and shoggoths. Asenath Waite (in “The Thing on the Doorstep,” which I always found creepy despite its maligned nature) is from Innsmouth, and Edward Pickman Derby later screams about a “pit of shoggoths.” Maybe she, too, was trying to bring up shoggoths for Innsmouth. Or Ephraim. Because they made the good ol’ switcharoo.

    Great article. Please excuse my long-ish theory.


    1. No problem – I enjoy your responses. This is one topic I have heard a lot of interesting hypotheses on. I thought that since peace was eventually established between the Spawn and the Elder Things – maybe there was a “sharing of technology”, which included the Shoggoths. However, it may be possible that some type of stronger relationship was established between the Deep Ones and the Shoggoths!


      1. These are very interesting discussions. I enjoy reading them immensely!

        All your points are very valid. There really is no right or wrong answer, since Lovecraft never makes anything very clear. So I really like sitting down and thinking about these things after reading your articles.


  3. Well i bring a new hypotheses. Im reading the stories in spanish languaje and theres a part in “at the mountains of madness” that could bring us the answer. There are references that some of the elder ones went to live underwater, making them evolve to adapt for the aquatic life but they preserve the ability to create the shoggoths.
    My hypotheses is that the deep ones are descendants of the aquatic elder ones and during the war against Cthulhu, the aquatic elder ones just surrender and join him. Thats why the deep ones have the power to comand over the shoggoths.
    I apologize if my text is not well written, I just need a little more of practice, but I hope to contribute something good to the discussion.

    1. Hey Carlos – thank you for your comments and very interested hypothesis. I believe, based on Lovecraft’s writings, that the Elder Ones created all of life on Earth, including humans, Deep Ones and Shoggoths. The fact that Deep Ones can actually breed with humans indicates that they are closely related genetically. If Deep Ones are descendants of the Elder Ones then maybe we are also directly related to the Elder Ones? This could be teased apart if we had DNA (or more appropriately RNA) from Elder Ones, Deep Ones and Shoggoths – assuming all use the same material for conveying genetic information!

      Thanks again for your comments!


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