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Villain Overview
Kneel to your god!
~ Gargos' opening quote.
For centuries I have schemed, setting events in motion that would lead to this day. I have taken the memories of the one that guarded the gates, corrupted their worthless heroes, and manipulated those hungry for power. It is time. Begin the invasion!
~ Gargos in his Killer Instinct trailer intro.

Gargos, also known as Lord Gargos and the Shadow Lord, is a demonic warlord and the main antagonist in Killer Instinct 2 (as well as the N64 port Killer Instinct Gold) and the reboot Killer Instinct (2013).

In spite of being the villain of the sequel, he actually made his very first appearance in the first game, disguised as Jago's Tiger Spirit, manipulating him while under the guise of a benevolent and trustworthy figure.

Because of this and more, Gargos is often seen as the main antagonist and greater-scope villain of the entire Killer Instinct series, since he led and used Jago (and through Jago, Orchid) to defeat his rival Eyedol (the previous main antagonist) and then struck when the only one who could conceivably beat him was gone.

Similarly, but to an even greater extent, he's also responsible for nearly every event in the reboot, leading to the entire cast confronting him as a team.

Gargos is voiced by Edward Bosco, who also voiced the Icon of Sin, the Marauders, Kan-Ra, The Ghoulfather, Jagi, Devo, and Líf.

Appearance

Maya: I told you what I saw in the portal.
TJ Combo: Some kind of demon, right?
Maya: More than that. A king of demons.
~ Maya and TJ Combo in the Killer Instinct: Shadows at Dawn novella.
Gargos1996

Gargos' appearance in Killer Instinct 2 and Killer Instinct Gold.

In Killer Instinct 2, Gargos appears as a large, bulky winged gargoyle with reddish-brown skin and pupil-less yellow eyes. He has metal bracelets on both wrists, has pointy goblin-like ears and sharp claws on his hands and feet.

In the 2013 reboot, Gargos features a far more diabolical appearance. He now has reddish-purple skin, but also a tan chest and horn-like protrusions on his arms. His face has undergone a drastic redesign, giving him curled ram horns fittingly reminiscent of Satanic idols and figures, with devious green eyes, bared fangs and tusks jutting out from the sides of his lipless mouth. He has digitigrade legs with two large claws on each foot, and though he lacks the nose and pointy ears his classic incarnation had, he's kept his wings which now appear torn and tattered, and emanate a green aura from the ends along with his horns.

19 gargosart05

Gargos' classic appearance as his retro outfit and in-universe disguise.

Gargos' retro costume is very reminiscent of his original appearance in Killer Instinct 2, except that he perpetually bears a mocking grin on his face, and has become much taller and less bulky than his 1996 iteration to better fit with his reboot design's build. In Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords, it's revealed that this is just a disguise, and that his reboot appearance is his true form.

Personality

Pitiful creature.
~ Gargos' victory quote.
The original incarnation's personality was unclear, but he shared the cunning of his reboot counterpart as both drove Jago to do their dirty work for him while disguised as more benevolent figures, making both incarnations excellent manipulators.

In the reboot, he is no mere gargoyle or warlord, but a devilish and god-like entity with unfathomable power within its universe-sized astral domain, and profoundly corruptive anywhere else, the Shadow Lord and king of demons Gargos has a singular obsession: attaining the ultimate power in the universe and enslaving the bodies and souls of all sentient beings. He can be seen as a diabolical personification of dominance and abasement, as the Shadow Lord consumes all in his infernal path of conquest.

Showing off his sadistic nature even more, any who would wish to join him must kill their most loved or closed ones to prove their loyalty, such as when he proposed Mira to kill her sister Maya. In the comics, he has a particularly vicious moment when he is holding Jago and Tusk by their throats and stomping on Kim simultaneously, and as he ponders who to kill first, decides to go with Kim using the "ladies before gentlemen" protocol, asking the other two if they would like to hear her scream.

During flashbacks of Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords, Gargos is shown to be particularly focused on finding the most powerful of the remaining astral beings who escaped him in the ancient past, the holy dragon spirit Yeouiju accompanying Kim Wu, one of the reboot's main characters and among the heroes that eventually helps defeat him.

Biography

Killer Instinct (1994)

Gargos was first mentioned in the original Killer Instinct as the "Tiger Spirit" which is worshipped by a reclusive order of Tibetan warrior-monks in the Himalayas. When a young Jago emerges as the order's most skilled combatant, the disguised demon lord bestows the unsuspecting monk a portion of his dark powers, and entices him to enter into the Killer Instinct tournament and slay Gargos' archenemy and eternal rival, Eyedol. Though Jago participated in the tournament and defeated UltraTech's first Fulgore prototype, it was his long lost half-sister Orchid who killed Eyedol in the story for the sequel, paving the way for Gargos' uncontested dominion over the human world.

In Jago's original 1994 arcade ending, Gargos appears to him in the guise of the Tiger Spirit and empowers his unwitting pawn yet further as a reward for Eyedol's destruction.

Killer Instinct 2

The Tiger Spirit, the Supreme Warlord, the Ultimate Servant of Chaos. He has had many names and many appearances to match, all equally deadly.

Purposefully returning to the ancient world with neither Eyedol nor those responsible for his banishment around to threaten him, Gargos takes his place once more at the head of his devoted cult amidst the shadows, with only a handful of potential opponents around.

Reviving the skeletal pirate Spinal to serve him, he finally and confidently tells his pawn Jago of his true intentions and begins his campaign to conquer the world from its past. Swiftly recovering the strength lost during his exile, he sets his sights on a reign of unopposed fear and brutality.

As the final boss, he can be defeated and destroyed forever or win, left unchallenged to conquer the world.

Killer Instinct (2013)

There is another dimension - the Astral Plane. It is ruled by the evil tyrant Gargos. Long ago the other Astral beings resisted this Shadow Lord, but he slew them all and stole their powers. Good creatures known as Guardians fled from Gargos and his minions, escaping to other dimensions, and they sealed the Astral Plane behind them so that the corruption of Gargos could never taint another world - until the sorcerer Kan-Ra re-opened that door, manipulated by Gargos' powerful mind control. Now Gargos is invading the Earth with his army of duplicate fighters called Mimics. This twisted demigod must be stopped, or he will enslave the human race forever...
~ The Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords opening narration, introducing Gargos.

Although Gargos did not yet appear during the first two seasons of Killer Instinct (2013), his presence already loomed strongly. Jago's story revolves around the warrior-monk searching for ways to cleanse his spirit of the demon lord's lingering influence, lest Gargos takes control over his soul and twist him into an agent of chaos and death.

439e52a8423f3cac83f7f9d1fb22d9f2

Gargos posing as Jago's "Tiger Spirit".

Shadow Jago, the hidden boss of Season One and a playable character since Season Two, embodies this grim fate, in which Jago's will has succumbed and he is possessed by Gargos' servant, Omen. When Shadow Jago activates his Instinct Mode, a demonic gargoyle's face rather than the image of the Tiger Spirit manifests, clearly meant to invoke Gargos.

In Season Two, the new character of Omen is introduced as the herald of Gargos, who has been sent to "prepare the world" for the return of his master. Omen sets out to achieve this by first possessing Jago, and then using the warrior-monk's body to assault two of the Earth's appointed guardians: the immortal Watchman known as Tusk and the young Dragon warrior called Kim Wu. As Shadow Jago, Omen attempts to murder them both and steal their consecrated weapons from them. While Omen succeeded in possessing Jago, he fails to assassinate either Tusk or Kim Wu, having to flee from Tusk and ultimately being defeated by Kim Wu.

In Season Three Gargos was subsequently confirmed as the 6th playable character and was officially released on May 27th, 2016. An unplayable version of Gargos, which boasts unique special powers and abilities, additionally features as the game's final boss in Shadow Lords mode.

Background

Gargos is an ancient creature spawned from the Astral Plane. Sadistic, vain and utterly megalomaniacal, this nightmarish entity rampaged across his own dimension, killing all who opposed him and siphoning their powers, eventually becoming the supreme Shadow Lord—a master of Shadow Energy.

GargosKillsEyedol

Gargos killing Eyedol and stealing his power.

For thousands of years, Gargos has attempted to take over other worlds, including the Earth; but he was always thwarted by the benevolent Astral beings known as Ichoriens.

These demigods sent Astral Spirits to aid humans in their battles against Gargos; and sometimes gave Astral powers to human warriors, like the immortal Barbarian called Tusk or the prideful (and later corrupt) Eyedol.

Gargos&TheGuardians

Gargos corners the Guardians, shortly before their escape.

Gargos finally vanquished the once mighty Ichoriens; and the last good Astral denizens, the Guardians, fled that plane, escaping to other dimensions. They sealed off the Astral Plane behind them so that Gargos could never taint another world with his corruption.

But then Gargos used his telepathic abilities to manipulate an Earthling—the nefarious sorcerer Kan-Ra into reopening the gateway between the two worlds.

Using Aganos' siphoned power, Kan-Ra opens the portal, and awaits his army. But instead, a lone being exits, a creature so old it makes Kan-Ra's immortal life seem like a grain of sand in an hourglass... and for the first time in thousands of years the sorcerer feels fear. He has brought about the age of a new God, and mankind has no place in it.
~ Kan-Ra freeing Gargos.

Now the Shadow Lord is bent on spreading his corruption across the globe, turning humans into his slaves for eternity or annihilating them.

Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords

In the Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords story mode, The Alliance, composed of the entire cast barring Gargos, unites in order to defeat the Shadow Lord.

It is possible for Gargos to win in the end, with the resulting cutscene playing if he does:

Gargos has defeated the doppelganger. Earth's heroes are conquered... And now he has mastered the Astral Plane. Now what should he do? (Gargos glares at the Earth from outer space with a vicious grin, then flies through one of his portals with a savage burst.) Rage on, Shadow Lord.
~ The narration of Gargos' victory in his Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords ending.
TuskKillsGargos

Tusk killing Gargos.

But canonically, going with the true ending of Shadow Lords and the continuation in the 2017 comics by Dynamite, Gargos is defeated by Tusk and his rune-powered blade Warg-gram in the final battle.

The gods of old made Gargos, but Warg-gram un-made him. DAH!
~ Tusk killing Gargos in Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords.
RebornGargos

Gargos reborn.

However, it is later revealed that Gargos had been prepared in case he somehow lost the final battle on Earth. His soul escaped into the Astral Plane and captured the Astral Spirits, siphoning their energy and slowly killing Earth.

Gargos was reborn but was once again defeated, this time by one of his ancient enemies, Aganos, who he had sealed within a soul gem and banished him from the Astral Plane long ago. In his true form, as the Light Lord, Aganos was able to fend off Gargos, sending him as far away from the Earth as possible.

Gargos vowed that he would return.

Powers and Abilities

Gargos draws his god-like power from the Astral Plane... But outside of his own realm, he is mortal. The spread of corruption transforms the Earth to feed Gargos' power. As this corruption spreads, so does the Shadow Lord's power increase.
~ The Narrator on Gargos.

In the original universe, Gargos had a more limited, but still powerful, moveset that included claw-based attacks and spewing fireballs at his opponents, even from the air, though he's generally not seen as being as powerful, dangerous or difficult as Eyedol was in the previous game, which could be explained by the fact that he was weakened due to his exile.

The reboot updated him into something far greater than a mere demon warlord, becoming a universal threat in the form of a devilish god.

As the tyrannical Shadow Lord of legend, Gargos has attained untold power by absorbing the essence, power or souls of the numberless mortal and astral beings he has slain, Eyedol being the only one that has ever managed to return thanks to external help. Most who have survived an encounter with Gargos have only done so from fleeing, rarely from being able to challenge his might as Eyedol, who had been stated to be the only one, did.

The numerous claims of Gargos being a god are no exaggeration, while inside the Astral Plane he boasts power capable of altering entire planets.

The recent emissions from the portal—lightning that seared the ground, altering matter and corrupting it by breaking down its molecular structure—gave chilling proof to that theory. Something was beginning to reform the Earth.

So what do we do?” asked Cinder, standing behind ARIA and tossing a blob of plasma in one hand as though it were a child’s ball. “Reports are coming in saying—”

“Yes,” interrupted ARIA. “I have access to all Ultratech communiqués. There are portals opening above every continent on the planet. Hundreds of thousands of people are already dead from these lightning emissions.”

~ ARIA and Cinder in the Killer Instinct: Shadows at Dawn epilogue.
Gargoswin.PNG

Gargoes flies over a portal leading to his future domain.

A wandering plague upon existence itself, the demonic half-god can create extremely deadly and destructive dimensional portals which enables him and his servants to bypass the limitations of physical space; travelling vast distances in an instant, summoning his minions to his location, and allowing him to reach for his victims out of nowhere. This ability to drain the powers of his prey typically manifests itself as "soul-stealing", causing Gargos to gain Shadow Meter.

JagoOrchidStone

Jago and Orchid, turned to stone.

Despite his size, being among the tallest characters in the KI series aside from Aganos and Eyedol (standing around 7 to 8 feet tall and 9' to 10' at the tips of his wings), Gargos' wings enable him to fly both great distances in order to close the gap between him and his opponent or to put distance between them.

His Instinct Mode allows him to transform his entire body into pure stone, making him impervious to the impact of his opponents' attacks (i.e.: no stagger or knockdowns on light or medium attacks) but at the cost of it greatly reducing his movement. He can then "erupt" his stone skin into shards which will inflict harm to his enemy and violently knock them back. He is presumably responsible for doing something similar to Jago and Orchid, showing that he can do it to others and not just himself.

ImmortalTuskGargos

The immortal Tusk claims only Gargos can kill him.

In the Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords mode, Gargos boasts many unique astral powers such as rapid healing, resurrection, immense damage output, ability to inflict full damage on a blocking opponent, permanent Instinct Mode, etc. These powers can only be countered by defeating the four Omens that herald Gargos' arrival on the Earth.

In the novella Killer Instinct: The Watchman Awakens, we also learn that he can speak a modified, dark and twisted version of the Ichoriens' language, similar to black speech.

One night, as he sat in front of the fire, he took out from his pouch the piece of silk he had found in the ice cave—the cloth that had been hidden under Warg-gram. Who had put it there? It was another annoying puzzle piece. A useless bit of nothing. Cursing, he tossed it on the fire; and as the cloth curled on the coals a strange vision unfurled before his eyes—a hideous winged gargoyle with glowing eyes… A cruel and vicious beast that mocked him. He could hear its harsh voice speaking in an ancient and evil tongue—a bastardization of the language of the Ichoriens:
Ashkal grood zel-ichor!
That is what it said, over and over again. Bellowing its hideous and cruel laugh.
I will flay your soul!
That is what the words meant. He remembered that much at least. This monster was no myth. It was real.
~ Tusk sees a vision of Gargos through a fire.

Quotes

How does it feel to meet your god?
~ Gargos to Jago in his trailer.
I can play your game too, machine.
~ Gargos to ARIA in his trailer.
Hahaha! Pathetic!
~ Gargos' taunt.
Your immortality ends here!
~ Gargos to Tusk in his trailer.
Why do you aid these pitiful Earth-beings, Jago? It is time for you to join your brothers by my side, and together, we can rule this universe for eternity.
~ Gargos to Jago in Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords.
You will kneel to me again, Jago... Now or later, it matters not.
~ Gargos to Jago in Killer Instinct: Shadow Lords.

Trivia

  • According to creative director Adam Isgreen, Gargos' personality for the remake was heavily inspired by Tim Curry's performance as the "Lord of Darkness" in the 1985 fantasy film Legend.
    • Gargos' tendency in the remake to grab his opponents and lift them helplessly up into the air likewise seems to have been derived from this movie's last battle scene.
  • Gargos' move "Reckoning" is similar to M. Bison's "Psycho Crusher".
    • Additionally, his Shadow Lord Exclusive move, "Resurrection", is similar to Gill's of with the same name.
  • One of Gargos' profile card taunts ("You are already dead!") is actually Kenshiro's famous quote from Fist of the North Star.
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