- "The Pool is up to the wall at the Westgate. The Watcher in the Water took Oin."
- —the Book of Mazarbul, The Lord of the Rings
The Watcher in the Water was a horrifying and mysterious beast with many tentacles living in a pool near the Westgate of Moria in Middle-earth. The Watcher in the Water lived in a lake that was described by J.R.R. Tolkien as "... a dark, still lake" which was created by the damming of the Sirannon river, which was located on the west side of the mine of Moria. It attacks the Fellowship outside of the entrance to Moria.
When the Fellowship arrives by the pool of water, many immediately begin to feel an evil feeling from the water. Boromir, disturbed by the water and frustrated by Gandalf's failure to open the gates to Moria, threw a rock into the water, to which he was reprimanded by Frodo. After Gandalf opened the gates, the Watcher later attacked Frodo and scared away Bill the Pony. Sam Gamgee wanted to stop his pony from running away, but his loyalty to Frodo was greater. Sam slashed at the tentacle that was around Frodo, and managed to injure the monster into releasing the Hobbit. Gandalf then commanded that the Fellowship run into the gate to escape the Watcher's wrath. The enraged monster tore down trees and boulders and barricaded the Westgate of Moria, thus trapping the Fellowship inside.
Portrayal in adaptations
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Watcher in the Water can be 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 throw 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, the Fellowship is then forced to travel into the darkness of Moria. Although Tolkien described it 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.
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. When they fight it this time, they kill it for good.
This game is non-canonical to the book, and even to the movie, however, so the watcher's fate is still unknown. His head could have been crushed by the falling boulders.
The Battle for Middle-Earth II
In Battle for Middle-earth II, the Watcher in the Water is a power to use as Isengard/The Goblins or in the Evil Campaign or even 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 Evil campaign it cost 10 power points while in a Skirmish it costs 15 power points.
Lord of the Rings Online
Upon beginning Volume 2, the Mines of Moria in earnest, 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 a series of quests you may enter Moria. However, the first expedition goes wrong, and the watcher takes Broin (please correct this if this is incorrect). While Broin 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 1 (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.