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"The Pool is up to the wall at the West-gate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin."
from the Book of Mazarbul

The Watcher in the Water was a horrifying and mysterious beast with many tentacles living in a stagnant pool or lake near the West-gate of Moria, which was described by J.R.R. Tolkien as "... a dark, still lake" created by the damming of the Sirannon river. The water had gradually grown deeper and crept closer to The Doors of Durin, leaving only a narrow walkway where once The High Road allowed traffic between Ost-in-Edhil and Khazad-dûm many years before the Second Age. Some said it was the creature itself who created the dam over many decades.


The Watcher was thought to have emerged from beneath Moria, as Gandalf noted that "older, fouler things than Orcs" dwelt in the deep places of the world. During the attempted recolonization of Moria by the Dwarves, the Watcher killed Óin when his reconnaissance party visited the West Gate.

When the Fellowship arrived by the pool of water, many immediately began to feel an evil feeling emanating from the water. As they pondered the riddle of the Doors of Durin, Boromir threw a rock into the water. After Gandalf opened the gates and the Fellowship moved towards the entrance, the Watcher attacked Frodo, using its many long tentacles to grab hold of his legs. Sam slashed at the tentacles that were grabbing his friend, managed to injure the monster and it released the hobbit. Gandalf then commanded that the Fellowship run further into the gate to escape the Watcher's wrath. The enraged monster's tentacles tore down the ancient holly trees which stood on either side of the doors, the Gate, and many boulders, thus trapping the Fellowship inside the darkness of Moria.[1]

The Fellowship (including Óin's nephew, Gimli) later learn that the Watcher was responsible for Óin's death, after Gandalf read the account written by Ori in the Book of Mazarbul.[2]

Portrayal in adaptations

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

The Watcher going after the Fellowship with its tentacles in The Fellowship of the Ring (film).

The Watcher in the Water is seen in Peter Jackson's rendition of The Fellowship of the Ring as a very detailed computer-generated creature. In the movie, the Watcher is disturbed by Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, who threw rocks in the water to pass the time while Gandalf tries to figure out the password to gain entrance to Moria. (This differs from the novel, in which it was Boromir who disturbed the water by throwing a stone.) In either case, by the time the riddle of the Door is figured out ("Speak 'friend' and enter." - by Frodo in the film and Gandalf in the original novel), the Watcher is already provoked. It catches Frodo and lifts him in the air, despite Samwise Gamgee's attempts to defend him. The rest of the Fellowship, who attempt to injure the many serpentine tentacles of the Watcher, save him. The Watcher drops Frodo when it is injured and he is caught by Boromir. Legolas shoots the Watcher in the eye as the Fellowship of the Ring retreats into the Mines of Moria. Just as they make it inside, the Watcher tears down the doorway, and the way out is blocked by falling rocks. After the gate is blocked, the Fellowship is then forced to travel into the darkness of Moria.

During the scene in the Chamber of Mazarbul, the fact that the Watcher killed Óin is omitted from Gandalf's reading of the Book of Mazarbul.

Although Tolkien described the creature to have twenty-one tentacles, Peter Jackson instead gave it twelve visible tentacles (this was due to the effects team finding that twenty-one tentacles were difficult to render properly). In the game adaptation of the novel, the Watcher is depicted as a Nessie-like creature with many arms.

Video games

The Third Age

In The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, the Watcher in the Water is the first real boss that Berethor's party has to face. Its attacks consist mainly of tentacle attacks and "Reeking Spout", a gust of foul breath and slime that deals significant damage to the whole party. After a brief but fierce battle, Berethor's company is able to anger the Watcher enough to clear the way for them to enter Moria. Shortly after, they end up fighting the Watcher again, this time in a huge lake that has flooded part of Moria. This time, they kill it for good.

However, this game is non-canonical to the book, and even to the movie, so the Watcher's fate is still unknown.

The Battle for Middle-earth II

"The Watcher in the Water" in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II.

In EA's The Battle for Middle-earth II, the Watcher in the Water is a power to use in Isengard and The Goblins in the Evil Campaign or in a Skirmish. When it attacks, it uses its tentacles to smack any surrounding enemies. When picking up an enemy with one of its tentacles, it eats it and its health heals. It is a commander on the Good Campaign in Missions 2, 6 & 8.When it dies or its time is done it goes back into the water pool where it goes to its home until it is summoned again. In the Evil Campaign it cost ten power points, while in a Skirmish it costs 15.

The Lord of the Rings Online

Upon beginning Volume II of The Lord of the Rings, the player enters Moria with his/her legendary, which can be named and tailored to a specific play-style, making the new weapons very innovative and much more powerful than regular weapons. Before entering Moria, the prologue has the player at the walls of Moria. After completing Book I you may enter Moria. However, the first expedition goes wrong, and the watcher takes Bróin . While Bróin is not dead, several other Dwarves are killed and the group flees. Upon returning, you have been granted a legendary weapon, which is capable of hurting the watcher. After a prolonged fight of tentacle cutting and more hacking and slashing, the watcher retreats and you may enter Moria. In one of the playable dungeons (known as instances) you may kill the watcher, which gives one of the rarest and infamous trophies. However, it takes a large group to do this raid, or a group of high level players. It is recommended that before starting Moria you are level 50 and have completed Volume I: The Shadows of Angmar (in which you aid Gandalf and the Fellowship by fighting the False king of Angmar's forces). It is also noted that the killing of the watcher was never confirmed in the books.[3]

LEGO The Lord of the Rings

In LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game the Watcher appears in a role virtually identical to that in the films, though the events of its encounter with the Fellowship is added onto for gameplay purposes.


  • It is common for the Watcher in the Water to be featured as the Kraken Peter Jackson created - but it should be noted that Tolkien never described the creature's physical attributes aside from the tentacles.
  • The Watcher's species and exact nature is unknown - The Silmarillion specifies that all of Morgoth's servants loathed and shunned the water and would only venture on the sea in dire need, though the Watcher appears to be malicious; suggesting it may be operating independently of the Dark Lord, similar to Smaug and other dragons in the same Age.
  • In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor there is rumored to be another (seemingly larger) Watcher in the Sea of Nurnen.


Foreign Language Translated name
Afrikaans Bode in die Water
Albanian Vrojtues në Ujë
Amharic በውኃ ውስጥ ተጠባባቂ ?
Arabic المراقب في الماء
Armenian պահապան ջրի մեջ
Basque Uretan Behatzailea
Belarusian Cyrillic вартаўнік ў вадзе
Bengali পানিতে প্রহরী
Bosnian Posmatrač u Vodi
Bulgarian Cyrillic наблюдател във водата
Cambodian មើលនៅក្នុងទឹក
Catalan Observador en L'aigua
Cebuano Bantayan diha sa Tubig
Chinese (Hong Kong) 水中監視者
Chinese (Simplified) 水中的监视者
Croatian Stražar u Vodi
Czech Hlídač ve Vodě
Danish Iagttager i Vandet
Dutch Waker in Het Water
Esperanto Prizorganto en la Akvo
Estonian Vaataja Vees
Filipino Bantay sa Tubig
Finnish Veden valvoja
French Guetteur de l'Eau
Frisian Horloazje yn it Wetter
Galician Observador na Auga
German Wächter im Wasser
Greek Παρατηρητής στο Νερό
Gujarati પાણી નોંધક
Hausa Tsaro a cikin ruwa
Hebrew צופה על המים
Hindi पानी में चौकीदार
Hungarian A Tó őre
Icelandic Áhorfandi í Vatni
Italian Osservatore nell'acqua
Japanese 水中の監視者
Javanese Penonton ing Banyu
Korean 호수의 감시자
Latvian Vērotājs no Ūdens
Lithuanian Stebėtojas į Vandenį
Macedonian Cyrillic стражар во вода
Nepalese पानी मा हेरविचार
Norwegian Sjøens vokter
Vokteren i vannet
Pashto په اوبو کې څیړونکی
Persian نظاره گر در آب
Polish Czatownik z Wody
Portuguese (Brazil) Vigia na Água
Romanian Gardă în Apă
Russian Глубинный Страж
Serbian ватцхер у води (Cyrillic) Vidovita u Vodi (Latin)
Shona Mucherekedzi Mumvura
Sinhalese ජලය මුරකරු
Slovak Strážca vo Vode
Slovenian Stražar v Vodi
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Guardián del Agua
Swahili Mlinzi katika maji
Swedish Bevakare i Vattnet
Tajik Cyrillic нигаҳбонашон дар об
Tamil நீரில் கவனிப்பவர்
Thai ร้ายที่อยู่ในน้ำ
Turkish Sudaki Gözcü
Ukrainian Cyrillic спостерігач у воді
Urdu پانی میں نگہبان
Uzbek Сувда Қоровул (Cyrillic) Suvda Qorovul (Latin)
Uyghur ۋاتچھەر ىن تھە ۋاتەر
Welsh Gwyliwr yn y Dŵr
Yiddish וואַטשער אין די וואַסער