Beware These Hideous Creatures: 20 Mythical Monster Legends for Kids

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

Mermaids, dragons, and fairies are among the beautifully magical creatures we see in movies. One true thing we know about them is that they are not real. They only exist in fictional pages of the world’s great mythologies and legends. However, one fact that not a lot of people are aware of is that these seemingly friendly creatures are, in fact, hideous. They are among the most gruesome mythical monsters in legends and fairytales. 

A mythical monster is a non-real creature in old books of legends and folklore. Every culture has somehow created its fair share of mythical stories that keep passed down from one generation to another. At some point, the origins of some stories were long forgotten, leaving many people believing in mythical monsters’ existence. 

A mythical monster doesn’t have a specific appearance. Most of them are created through vast imaginations by mixing the forms of animals and humans, resulting in an eerie being that doesn’t exist in real life. These creatures are usually characterised by great power and valour. Most fairytale creatures we see in movies are mythical monsters.

So, let’s go through this exciting list of every mythical monster known in books and movies and learn where they come from. You will definitely come across ones that you already know and might be shocked by their truths. However, there will be other monsters you will be interested in learning about and enjoying their legendary stories.

1. Mermaids

Mermaids have always been those dreamy creatures with beautiful faces and long smooth hair. No. That is what the new portrayals of mermaids have become, but they were initially mythical monsters in every mythology. They do not look like Ariel the Little Mermaid. In Celtic mythology, mermaids were known as merrows. 

These creatures may appear friendly, but according to legends, whoever crossed paths with them was deemed unlucky. They would strike people with great terror and fear. In some tales, mermaids lured sailors with their enchanting songs to kill them in the most terrible ways. They are often confused with sirens.

Mermaids for Kids
Mermaids for Kids

2. Gorgons

The gorgons are mythical monsters in ancient Greek mythology. The word ‘gorgons’ comes from the Greek word ‘gorges,’ which means terrible and grim. They were three sisters with appalling appearances. Their skin was scaly, and their hairs were venomous snakes. They also had gigantic fangs and long scary tongues.

Medusa is the most famous gorgon and one of the three sisters. Some legends claim she was born before but was transformed into a mythical monster by Goddess Athena. Gorgons are also immortal creatures; however, Medusa was said to be the only mortal sister the great Perseus killed.

Medusa the Gorgon
Medusa the Gorgon

3. Banshee

A banshee is a mythical monster in Irish folklore. A female always dresses in white and has long silver hair. In some cases, it transforms into a crow, weasel, or even hare. Although a banshee looks like a monster, no legend professes it as being violent or evil. Some people believe they are the spirits of women who had a hard life and died terribly or died at birth. 

This woman produces a howl-like sound that warns people of upcoming death. According to legends, she appears to people whose family members are about to die or to the person themself. In Ireland, many people believe that every family has its own banshee that warns them of imminent death. 

4. Leprechauns

When we see leprechauns, green is the colour that pops into the minds of everyone. Leprechauns are a type of fairies, male fairies, actually. However, they don’t match the ideal description of cute fairies with pixie dust and good intentions. In fact, they are mythical monsters present in Irish mythology. 

Leprechauns are short old men with beards who always wear buckled shoes and green hats. They are famous for being tricksters. Some people confuse them with elves, given their heights, but unlike elves, they live alone. Leprechauns are good at many things, including shoemaking and dancing, but they are also good at stealing and deception. In some cases, they murdered people who displeased them.

5. Dragons

Dragons are some of the most famous mythical monsters that some people mistakenly believed were real creatures that lived in China and other Asian countries. This is where the legends of dragons started, in the Asian region. 

Despite what many animated movies can tell you, dragons are not creatures that can be trained. According to legends and folktales, they were powerful monsters who looked like giant lizards with wings and could breathe fire.

Dragons for Kids
Dragons for Kids

6. Fairies

Fairies are mystical creatures that folktales describe as petite, winged females with magic powers and have close relationships with humans. Tinkerbell is deemed a fairy if we follow the description of different mythologies. However, they also claim that fairies are mythical monsters rather than good creatures.

Fairies appeared in a lot of traditional legends of different mythologies. Yet, it is said that the first fairy tale was found in Greek mythology. These little creatures lived in secluded places, hiding from human beings. However, some stories profess the other way around, that people avoided places where fairies lived, fearing their wicked nature.

Fairies for Kids
Shot of a little girl dressed up as a fairy and playing in the woods.

7. Golem

Do you know how ghosts and evil spirits are believed to be brought through specific yet peculiar ritual incantations in many cultures? The same goes for the golem, except that it comes alive from a lifeless substance. A golem is a mythical monster in Jewish mythology brought to being from dust or clay by enchanting Hebrew letters. 

Golem is a Hebrew word that means ‘something unfinished,’ it is also used to describe an embryo. The purpose of bringing golems into life was to help protect the Jewish community from being extinct. It also appeared in Norse mythology as a clay giant that fought Thor. 

8. Griffins

Griffin is a powerful mythical monster that has the head of an eagle and the body of a lion with wings. In some portrayals, these creatures are seen as wingless. This beast has a sight as sharp as an eagle and a powerfully strong body. It is also known as the griffon or gryphon. It is found in Greek, Egyptian, Minoan, and Persian mythologies. 

The griffin was a beast that kings owned to protect their valuable materials and gold. In Finnish folklore, the griffin is portrayed as a spirit that protects treasures found underground. They were also described as old wizards who shift into enormous birds to possess the might of large birds and protect the precious.

9. The Sphinx

The Sphinx is a prominent monument in Egypt and is an excellent symbol of the Pharaonic civilisation. It has a human head and a body of a lion. According to mythology, the Sphinx is a female, and she also has the wings of a falcon and was a famous mythical monster in folktales. Legends say that the Sphinx asked people riddles, and whoever answered wrong gets devoured instantly. 

However, Arabs, especially in Egypt, regard the Sphinx as a male, known in Egypt as Abu El Hawl, which means the father of terror. It is traditionally known to be the guard of the Great Pyramids, for it is situated before them.

The Sphinx
Sphinx and pyramid in the egyptian desert

10. Goblins

Want to hear about one more tiny yet mischievous mythical monster? We got you, the goblin, the evil kind of fairies. This creature is famous in both British and Germanic mythologies. Although they may differ from one mythology to another, they are always depicted as troublemakers. Goblins have a child’s height, pointy ears, and green-shaded skin.

Many people confuse them with trolls; however, they are more like devilish dwarfs with a malicious nature, a tendency to avenge, and a penchant for greed. They are also known to have short tempers. Goblins are more often portrayed wearing red attires, which also confused people with leprechauns who used to be drawn in red rather than green.

11. Chimera

A chimaera is a mythical monster that you may have seen adapted in some Japanese animated movies. It is a female monster that has a body of three animals, a dragon tail, a goat torso, and the neck part of a lion. She breathes fire and is characterised by great power and might. 

Chimaera also possesses the ability of venomous snakes to poison their victims. Combining all of these superpowers together left the chimaera invincible. People feared this monster, for it is nearly more robust than almost every mythical monster on this list.

12. The Hydra 

Hydra is a mythical monster that is typically associated with water, as the name suggests. It is commonly known as the Hydra id Lerna or the Lernaean Hydra, but people refer to it as the hydra instead. The name comes from the belief that this mythical monster had its lair in the lake of Lerna in the Argolid. 

Hydra first originated in Greek and Roman mythologies. It is an enormous water serpentine that has multiple heads. Its superpower lies in its ability to regenerate, so whenever someone cuts off one of its heads, two more heads grow, making the monster much mightier and stronger.

13. Ogre

Ogre has always been a hideous monster that is presented in folklore and mythology across the world. It is a giant monster with the appearance of a man yet unsightly features that scare people away. Ogres are depicted as giant creatures with aqua-coloured skins. Their drops of blood are blue, and they feed on human flesh. 

The female version of this mythical monster is instead known as an ogress. It has always been a mystery where this mythical monster originated from or in which mythology it first appeared. Yet, how an ogre looks across different cultures seems to be commonly agreed on. Shrek is a famous example of an ogre; however, his character is kind and humble, unlike how this mythical monster is portrayed in folktales.

14. Unicorns

This may come as a surprise, but a unicorn is originally a mythical monster, not a colourful horse that appears in happy fairytales. Unicorns are said to have first appeared in Mesopotamian mythology and other Chinese and Indian folktales. It was usually depicted as we all know it, a horse with a single horn on the forehead. However, there were times when unicorns were actually goats.

Unicorns can either walk on their four legs like a horse, but they have the power to shape-shift and walk on two legs. Another ability that unicorns have is healing people by using their horns. This ability has also placed unicorns in a different category than mythical monsters since they were capable of doing good. 

Unicorns for Kids
decorative unicorn, teddy bears in cones and air balloons in decorated for birthday room

15. Zombie

We all know what a zombie looks like, and there are millions of movies about this odd mythical monster. The thing is, unlike other mythical monsters, zombies are not that popular in folktales, although they originated in Haiti and it’s popular in their folklore. Zombies are perceived as an idea or theory rather than a mystical creatures with legends in mythologies. 

Zombies are portrayed as human beings who were dead, and their corpses rose from their graves. They can also be regular people who haven’t died but were bitten by a zombie and got infected. Zombies are human beings that don’t have any supernatural abilities. They just survive without an actual conscious experience or even sentiment. Their sole purpose in life is to feed on other human beings.

16. Werewolves

Werewolves have always been the subject of many written stories and motion pictures. They even appear to be rivals to vampires. Like many of the mythical monsters on this list, werewolves come from Greek mythology. They first appeared in the Legend of Lycaon, the king that Zeus transformed into a wolf after learning he promotes eating human flesh.

This story explains why they are sometimes referred to as lycanthropes. As you may know, a werewolf is an ordinary human being who shifts into the shape of a wolf when the moon is full. They have mighty powers and great strength.

17. Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness is a mythical monster that originated from Scottish folklore. That is why it has the name of a region in Scotland known as Loch Ness, a freshwater lake in the Scottish Highlands. This mythical monster is often referred to as Nessie and is believed to have inhabited the Loch Ness region, hence the name.

The Loch Ness monster, or Nessie, is a marine creature. It is often pictured as an aquatic creature with a long neck and scaly skin, resembling sea serpents. Some people believe it to be an eel. Although no certain superpowers of these creatures were mentioned, it has been labelled as a monster for killing people who got into Loch Ness lake.

View of the Loch Ness in Scotland in the summer
View of the Loch Ness in Scotland in the summer

18. Centaurs

A Centaur is another mythical monster that populates the legends of ancient Greece. This creature has even made an appearance in Disney’s Hercules, known as Nessus. The latter is a mythical monster that is also known as the River Guardian. It was the monster that captured Megara and Hercules saved her from it. 

As the movie represented, the centaur is half human, half-horse creature. It has the upper body of a human being reaching down the torso and then the body of a mighty horse. Sometimes it is portrayed as half-elf instead of human, having ugly facial features that fit the standard description of a monster.

19. Bigfoot

Bigfoot is a mythical monster that has made a lot of appearances in animated films. It is commonly referred to as the Sasquatch and is pictured to be an enormous humanlike creature with a lush amount of hair covering all of its body, making it look like a giant ape. Many people believe it inhabits the forests of North America; however, there has never been a piece of hard evidence supporting that claim. 

Bigfoot is not a monster with legends in mythology. It is a theory that people believed in after finding imprints of large feet in the forests of North America. The size of this creature’s feet has led people to believe it to be a monster or a huge hairy beast. The idea of this mythical monster has only been around since the 50s, and we call it mythical, for actual sightings have never been reported.

20. Vampires

Vampires are mythical monsters that originate from Romanian mythology. Romania is home to Transylvania city, which has always been believed to be the original home of Dracula, the very first vampire. There is even a haunted castle, known as Dracula’s Castle, and it is a hot tourist destination that draws many tourists every year, especially on Halloween. 

Vampires are humanoid creatures with large fangs that they stick in human beings’ necks to draw blood. They feed on blood and are pretty allergic to garlic and sunlight. Some legends also claim that vampires can transform into bats and fly among the trees of lush forests. 

Vampires for Kids
Portrait of little girl masquerade as vampire

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