The Grue
A typical grue.

Grue Species

A Grue

Where it first appeared


From Zork?




Unique Details

Most likely will eat you impulsively.

A grue is a fictional predator from Infocom's Zork series of games.The word grue was first used in modern times as a fictional predator from Jack Vance's Dying Earth universe (described as being part "ocular bat", part "uncanny hoon" and part man). Jack Vance most probably took the name from a Scandinavian word meaning to feel horror, shudder, now most commonly encountered in the word "gruesome".

Dave Lebling, creator or Zork, introduced a similar monster, whose name was borrowed from Vance's grues, into the interactive fiction computer game Zork. Zork's grues fear light and are ravenous devourers of adventurers, making it impossible to explore the game's dark areas without a light source. Zork's were supposedly impossible to kill except by ancient king Entharion the Wise with the legendary blade Grueslayer

Due to Zork's prominent position in hacker history and lore, its grues have served as models for monsters in many subsequent games, such as roguelike games and MUDs.


Main article: Zork

Grues first appeared in Zork, together with the ominous sentence of "It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue."

The grues were preceded by bottomless pits, in the first Zork game. After the release of the first game, the producers decided that putting bottomless pits at unlikely places like attic bottoms and chimneys were undesirable and made a story out of it. In the end, it was decided that "a mage used a magic device and sealed up the realm's bottomless pits which were blocking his path". While doing so, he unwittingly forces out the myriad colonies of grues that have been nesting there, leaving them to wander the underground caverns searching for food.

The storyline about the mage was later adapted for the game Zork Zero, a game set before Zork 1, though released 12 years after.

Due to the success of Zork, the Grues continued to appear in Infocom's other games.


Grues are generally afraid of light, with the only exception being inSorcerer, when an evil villain manufactured dozens of light-resistant grues armed with weapons. Grues generally have fish-mouthed heads, razor-sharp claws and glowing fur all over them.

As Grues are so afraid of light, it was made out that nobody had ever seen them because of this, and whoever who sees a grue would most probably die to the grue. After all, when grues are exposed to the light, the "horrible, multi-fanged creature" would choose to run through the room "gurgling in agony and tearing at its fur".