Morlocks are a fictional species created by H. G. Wells for his 1895 novel, The Time Machine. They dwell underground in the English countryside of 802,701 AD in a troglodyte civilization, maintaining ancient machines that they may or may not remember how to build. Their only access to the surface world is through a series of well structures that dot the countryside of future England.

Morlocks are humanoid creatures, said to have descended from humans, but by the 8,028th century have evolved into a completely different species, said to be better suited to their subterranean habitat. They are described as "ape-like", with little or no clothing, large eyes and gray fur covering their bodies. As a result of living underground, they have little or no melanin to protect their skin, and so have become extremely sensitive to light.

The Morlocks' main source of food is the Eloi, another race descended from humans that lives above ground. The Morlocks treat the Eloi as cattle, and the Eloi do not resist being captured.

Since their creation by Wells, the Morlocks have appeared in many other works such as sequels, movies, television shows, and works by other authors, many of which have deviated from the original description.


Morlocks in The Time Machine

The Morlocks are at first a mysterious presence in the book. The Time Traveler, the main character, initially thinks that the Eloi are the sole descendants of humanity.

The Morlocks' physical features are the result of thousands of generations of living without sunlight. They have dull gray-to-white skin, chinless faces, large greyish-red eyes with a capacity for reflecting light, and flaxen hair on the head and back. They are smaller than Humans, presumably being the same height as the Eloi.

When he first encounters a Morlock, the Time Traveler begins to piece together a new image of the future world of the year 802,701 AD. The Morlocks and the Eloi have something of a symbiotic relationship: the Eloi are clothed and fed by the Morlocks, and in return, the Morlocks eat the Eloi. The Time Traveler perceives this, and suggests that the Eloi–Morlock relationship developed from a class distinction present in his own time: the Morlocks are the working class who had to work underground so that the rich upper class could live in luxury.

The explanation of their cannibalistic behavior is that there must have been a time when the Morlocks ran short of food. The hominids that later became the Morlocks started feeding indiscriminately on creatures such as rats. Eventually, the Eloi became their prey.

Morlocks in sequels and prequels to the Time Machine

When the Sleeper Wakes

H. G. Wells also wrote a novel called When the Sleeper Wakes. This centers on a man who somehow falls into a sleep for several centuries, and wakes in the early 22nd century to find that he has inherited the world. In this book, we find out that an organization derived from the Salvation Army has rounded up most of the world's lower classes, forcing them to work underground in horrible conditions for the sole benefit of the rich. It seems that these people will later evolve into the Morlocks.

When the "Sleeper" encounters these apparent proto-Morlocks, they appear as underground workers in horrible conditions. He notes that they seem to be turning paler, as well as developing their own dialect of English.

The Time Ships

The Time Ships (1995), by Stephen Baxter is considered by the H. G. Wells estates to be the sequel to The Time Machine (1895) and is officially authorized to mark the centennial of the original publication. In its wide-ranging narrative, the Time Traveler attempts to return to the world of the Eloi and Morlocks, but instead finds that he has changed history somehow and finds a completely different world in the future: one in which there never were Eloi. Instead, humanity has constructed a metallic sphere around the Sun where the Morlocks (along with several other versions of humanity) now live. These humans are physically just like the Morlocks, although they are a race of scientists, not monsters. They lack war, religion, and many other things common to most of humanity.

These Morlocks are a moralistic, civilized race who are not cannibalistic. Their sphere around the Sun consists of two sections: the outer section, where the Morlocks live in utter peace, and the inner section, where there is solar light in addition to entire floating cities composed of various non-Morlock humans of various types (some are Neanderthal-like, for example, and can design their own bodies) who are constantly at war with each other.

The Morlocks here live in a variety of nation-groups without conflict, and individuals may come and go between them as they choose. It is also worth noting that the Morlocks of the sphere do not reproduce sexually; instead, they physically "build" their offspring out of a clay-like substance.

The Morlock Nebogipfel joins the Time Traveler on his travels through time. Nebogipfel's name comes from the main character of H. G. Wells' first attempt at a time travel story, then called "Chronic Argonauts." The character's name was Dr. Moses Nebogipfel. (The name Moses was also used in The Time Ships, though it is given to the younger version of himself that the Time Traveler meets on his journey.)

Morlock Night

In K.W. Jeter's novel Morlock Night, the Morlocks have stolen the Time Machine and used it to invade Victorian London. These Morlocks are much more formidable than those in The Time Machine - a clever, technological race with enough power to take over the entire world. They also get support from certain treacherous 19th century humans, especially a dark wizard named Merdenne. It is also revealed that the Morlocks living in their native time (the 8,028th century) have stopped allowing the Eloi to roam free and now keep them in pens.

The Morlocks are separated into two types, or castes, in the novel. One is the short, weak, stupid Grunt Morlocks, who are supposedly the kind that the Time Traveller encountered, and the other is the Officer Morlocks, who are taller, more intelligent, speak English, and have high rank within the Morlock invasion force. An example of the latter type is Colonel Nalga, an antagonist later in the book.

These Morlocks are always described as wearing blueish spectacles, which are presumably to protect the Morlocks' sensitive, dark-adapted eyes.

Other books involving Morlocks, by different authors

  • Die Reise mit der Zeitmaschine (1946), by Egon Friedell - translated by Eddy C Bertin into English and republished as The Return of the Time Machine. At the time of its publication, this was then the only sequel to The Time Machine. It describes the Time Traveller's further visits to the future, and the Time Machine's entanglement with the past.[1]
  • The Man Who Loved Morlocks (1981), by David Lake. This novel recounts the Time Traveller's second journey. This time, he meets the Morlocks again, but is equipped with a camera and a Colt revolver.[2]
  • Time-Machine Troopers (2011), by Hal Colebatch published by Acashic. In this story the time-traveller returns to the future about 18 years beyond the time in which he first visited it, hoping to regenerate the Eloi, and taking with him Sir Robert Baden-Powell, who will later found the Boy Scout movement in England. They set out to teach the Eloi self-reliance and self-defence, but are captured by Morlocks. It turns out the Eloi and Morlocks are both more complex than the time-traveller had thought. The story sets out to be an answer to Wells's pessimism, as the Time Traveller and Baden-Powell seek to teach the future world scouting and cricket. Winston Churchill and Wells himself also feature as characters.

Morlocks in other fiction

In addition to the books and stories directly based on The Time Machine, some authors have adopted the Morlocks and adapted them to their works, often completely unassociated with The Time Machine.

The Morlocks appeared in a story by Alan Moore titled Allan and the Sundered Veil, which appeared as part of the comic book collection The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume I. In the story, the Time Traveller takes some of the regular League characters into his future world, where he has made a base out of the Morlock sphinx. The party is soon attacked by Morlocks, who are fierce, simian creatures in this story. They are physically much more powerful than Wells' creatures, although they're similar to the Hunter Morlocks from the 2002 film.

J. R. R. Tolkien also wrote a poem about Morlocks, though these were substantially different from H.G. Wells' version.

In the X-Men series, there is a group of mutants who refer to themselves as the Morlocks. They are individuals who took to squatting in sewers and subterranean areas because their mutations made it impossible to pass for human.

Larry Niven included a version of the Morlocks in his Known Space books. They appear as a subhuman alien race living in the caves in one region of Wunderland, which is one of humanity's colonies in the Alpha Centauri system. Many of these stories are by Hal Colebatch in the shared spin-off series, "The Man Kzin Wars", especially in vols. X, XI and XII. They are also mentioned in stories in the same series by M. J. Harringtom.

Morlocks in essays and other nonfiction

In Neal Stephenson's essay on modern culture vis-à-vis operating system development, In the Beginning... was the Command Line, he demonstrates similarities between the future in The Time Machine and contemporary American culture.[3] He claims that most Americans have been exposed to a "corporate monoculture" which renders them "unwilling to make judgments and incapable of taking stands." Anyone who remains outside of this "culture" is left with powerful tools to deal with the world, and it is they, rather than the neutered Eloi, that run things.

Morlocks in film and television

The Time Machine

In a movie version of The Time Machine directed by George Pal, the Morlocks are eventually defeated by the Eloi, who are motivated to fight by the Time Traveller. They are shown to be quite susceptible to blows. One of the differences of the movie Morlocks (who are blue-skinned, sloth-like brutes with glowing eyes) is that the divergence was created not by a varying caste system, but by being forced underground by a nuclear war that started in the 1960s and lasted hundreds of years.

The Morlocks in the film also have a system for summoning the Eloi into their sphinx by using a disaster siren. Supposedly, this was originally used to warn of bombing. Responding to the siren has become inborn, and the Eloi now do so like cattle. The Morlocks use whips to herd them.

In 2002, another film based on The Time Machine was directed by Simon Wells, the great-grandson of H. G. Wells. The Morlocks in this film, as well as the Eloi, have been changed in several major ways. The Morlocks have become physically stronger and faster, and are very ape-like now. In addition, they have split into several different castes. In addition to the "Hunter" Morlocks, which are muscular, gorilla-like hunters, there are also the "Spy" Morlocks who are more slender and agile but much weaker. The Spies shoot blowpipes at escaping Eloi, marking them with a pungent substance and making it easier for the Hunters, with their powerful sense of smell, to track and capture them.

All the Morlocks are controlled by a race of Über-Morlocks, who appear more human than the other two castes seen in the movies. Instead of having gray skin and patches of fur, the Über-Morlock that appears in the film has long, flowing white hair and white skin, the general physique of a human, and clothing. His brain is so large that it doesn't fit into his head, but instead trails down his back and envelops his spine. He is telepathic and telekinetic, articulate in English speech, and eventually ends up fighting Alexander Hartdegen (the main character of this film).

As explained by the Über-Morlock (in terms of the 2002 movie), the Morlocks originated from humans that sought shelter underground, after an attempt at constructing a lunar colony on the Moon sent fragments of the Moon crashing to Earth. They remained underground for so long that they developed bodies with very little melanin in their skin and very sensitive eyes that could not tolerate sunlight for long. As a result of the past catastrophe and the resulting strain on resources, the proto-Morlocks divided themselves into several castes, two of which (the 'Hunters' and the 'Spies') could survive in the daylight. They inbred within each caste until the Morlock race became composed of genetically fine-tuned sub-races designed for specific tasks.

The movie displays three of these races: the Hunter Morlocks that hunt down and capture the Eloi, the Spy Morlocks that shoot them with blowgun darts (so as to make them detectable to the hunters), and the Über-Morlocks that command the first two races telepathically. The Morlocks seen in the movie are destroyed when Alexander causes his time machine to malfunction and explode in their tunnels, but there are other Morlock colonies that remain and are unseen.


An upcoming television movie produced for Syfy and starring David Hewlett. Plot sees a time machine open a portal to the future allowing Morlocks to travel back to the present and wreak havoc.[4]

Television shows

In the Timelash episodes of the twenty-second season of Doctor Who,[5] the Sixth Doctor takes H. G. Wells into the future where they encounter an underground-dwelling, reptilian species called the Morlox (a homophone of "Morlocks"). The Borad, an evil ruler, accidentally becomes half-Morlox before the episode.

In 2003, Peak Entertainment relaunched Monster in My Pocket with former lead villain Warlock as the hero. The new villain became Warlock's evil twin, Morlock. The series was passed on by Cartoon Network and Peak's rights to Monster in My Pocket were revoked on December 22, 2004. With the series' limited distribution, it is difficult to say if the connection was more than a nominal one.

In 2006, a new incarnation of Power Rangers, titled Power Rangers: Mystic Force, includes Morlocks as the enemies of the Power Rangers. Sources from before the show's premiere described them as "zombie-like foot soldiers", and it was also implied that they live underground below the town of Briarwood (where the show takes place) and plot to rise up and destroy everything. However, it has since been revealed that the Morlocks in the show are not simply foot soldiers; they comprise the entire group of enemies of the Power Rangers. The Morlocks in the show are entirely unlike those in The Time Machine, except that they still live underground and are villains. These Morlocks are not portrayed as a divergent species of humanity, but instead as an ancient, evil legion who were sealed underground centuries ago. The Morlocks have finally broken the seal and are planning to invade Briarwood, and later the world.

Specific Morlock characters

Although Morlock life has rarely been fully explored, and The Time Machine didn't depict individual Morlocks, various other sources (sequels by other authors, movie versions, etc.) have introduced characters belonging to the Morlock race. Examples of these include:

  • Nebogipfel - An example of an advanced, highly civilized Morlock race living in a different reality than the one in The Time Machine. The Time Traveller encounters Nebogipfel here, and learns about Nebogipfel's Morlocks. Nebogipfel joins the Time Traveller on his journeys through time. This occurred in The Time Ships, Stephen Baxter's sequel to The Time Machine.
  • Colonel Nalga - One of the generals of a Morlock invasion force trying to overrun England in 1892 in K.W. Jeter's Morlock Night. Nalga spoke English, unlike his Morlock brethren, and so dealt with the protagonists.
  • The Über-Morlock - In Simon Wells' 2002 remake of the 1960 film, the Über-Morlock, played by English actor Jeremy Irons, was the leader of the Morlocks, controlling them through telepathy. He had an incredibly large brain, so large that it protrudes from his skull, extending out of his head and down his back. Unlike his underlings, who are brutish, aggressive and bestial, the Uber-Morlock is human-like in appearance and physiology, highly articulate and extremely intelligent. The Über-Morlock is the main villain of the movie. He explains that without his guidance, the morlocks would be little more than beasts who would hunt their food source out of existence, showing the power he holds over the others of his kind. He questions Hartdegens' logic for why one human should be able to deem 800,000 years of evolution wrong. His way of explaining this involves referring to humans as food rather than people.
  • Morticon - In the children's show Power Rangers: Mystic Force, Morticon is the leader of a group of Morlocks, who, in the show, are cybernetic, undead creatures who dwell underground. He is the main villain of the series. Unlike traditional Morlocks, Morticon appears as a blue monstrous creature with bulky mechanical attachments which occasionally emit steam.
  • Curnwal and Valadar are Morlock leaders in Hal Colebatch's "Time Machine Troopers" Poddletench and Chubley are Morlocks killed by the time-traveller and Baden-Powell when trying to communicate with them.

The Big Bang Theory comedy show in the first season also brings the time machine and characters of morlocks which portrayed humor purpose. Sheldon succeeds in achieving the goal to reach the future through the time machine and there he attacked by morlocks "

See also

Book collection.jpg Novels portal


  1. ^ McDonald, John Q (1998-10-03). "Review of The Return of The Time Machine by Egon Friedell". 
  2. ^ McDonald, John Q. "Review of The Man Who Loved Morlocks by David Lake". 
  3. ^ Stephenson, Neal (1999). "In the Beginning was the Command Line". 
  4. ^ "Syfy's Saturday movies: Sharktopus is just the beginning". Blastr. 
  5. ^ "Timeslash". Doctor Who Classic Episode Guide. BBC. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 
  6. ^ Wolff, Larry (2003). Venice and the Slavs: The Discovery of Dalmatia in the Age of Enlightenment. Stanford University Press. pp. 126, 348. ISBN 0804739463.  (With a specific reference to H.G. Wells' Morlocks, p. 348)
  7. ^ Brookes, Richard (1812). "Morlachia". The general gazetteer or compendious geographical dictionary. F.C. and J. Rivington. p. 501. 

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