The Watcher is the titular main antagonist of Disney's 1980 horror film The Watcher in the Woods. It is an alien-like ghost being that came to Earth after Karen Alywood's disappearance.
An Anglo-American family, Helen and Paul Curtis and their daughters Jan and Ellie, move into a manor. Mrs. Aylwood, the owner of the residence, notices that Jan bears a striking resemblance to her daughter, Karen, who disappeared inside a chapel near the village 30 years previously. Jan begins to see strange blue lights in the woods, triangles and glowing objects. Eventually, Ellie goes to buy a puppy she names Nerak (an anagram of "Karen"). After seeing the reflection of the name "Nerak" ("Karen" spelled backwards), Jan finds out about the mystery of Mrs. Aylwood's missing daughter.
Several strange occurrences appear, beginning with Mrs. Aylwood saving Jan after she falls into a pond looking at a blue circle, and ending with Jan finding a man named John, who explains that Karen did disappear, but has not died. He tells her that in a seance-like ceremony, Karen disappeared after lightning struck the tower and a bell fell on top of her. They find out that the disappearance of Karen is linked to a solar eclipse. Jan figures out she needs to repeat the sequence through the strange possession of Ellie. In the chapel, something possesses Ellie and explains the accidental switch that took place 30 years ago. Ellie explains that Karen was taken to another dimension, while an alien-like being, the Watcher, came to earth. The Watcher then appears independently as a pillar of light, fueled by the "circle of friendship". It engulfs Jan and lifts her into the air, but Jan's friend Mike Fleming intercedes and pulls her away before the Watcher disappears. At the same time, the eclipse ends and Karen, still the same age as when she disappeared, reappears – still blindfolded. She removes the blindfold as her mother enters the chapel.
In the alternative version, the Watcher appears in its alien ghost form approaching inside the chapel where Jan and Mike were. It attacks Mike before the Watcher captures Jan with its wings and both of them disappear in a flash of red light. Inside a spaceship, the Watcher returns to its planet and releases Jan, showing her that Karen is inside a ray of light. The Watcher was never seen again after Jan brings Karen back to Earth and back in the chapel.
- An alternate version of the film opened entirely with a different prologue. The Watcher scares a little girl in the woods, who drops her doll. A blue streak of light strikes the doll and it bursts into flames. The opening titles play out of the image of the melting doll's face. Although the footage has survived, it does not appear in DVD prints.