Charon in KQ6

Charon (aka the Ferryman, the Boatman and sometimes Death) is a grim and silent ghoul who carries the dead across the River Styx in the Isle of the Dead in the Green Isles and Hades, the River of Death in the Dimension of Death, and the Poisoned Lake in Kolyma. Known as Father Death in some of Daventry's legends he is an entity that comes to reap souls and cause death. In the Dimension of Death his boat takes on an incorporeal form. He has been in the service of Dracula, Pluto, Samhain, and Azriel.


There is a personage named Charon whose job it is to ferry souls of the dead across the river Styx to Hades (as he did in the time of the ancient Greeks). He was thought of as a silent, shrouded old man. In time, the image became synonymous with Death.[1] Charon has a scythe for reaping the souls of the dead, but doesn't carry it all the time[2]The scythe is perfectly functional. It has been whispered that to see his face is to look into the Abyss; but most would not want to look beyond his cowl.

He is the guardian of the River Styx (and other deadly waterways), and will ferry any man living or dead, across the Styx to Hades or Realm of the Dead or the Poisoned Lake...for a price. [3]In the Dimension of Death he and his boat take on a incorporeal form which can only ferry the souls of the deceased across the River of Death; not the physical. Hades lies beneath the Dark Forest in Serenia, and it is said that the forest is so thick, dark, and daunting that Death itself is said to have gotten lost inside of it.[4] It is said that Graham accompanied Death to Count Dracula's castle across the lake[5]

The shrouded, ghoul has been known servant and ally to Dracula and ferry the Prince of the Night and those who pay a price across the Poisoned Lake. Death ferried King Graham across the water, after the king donned the black cloak and the ruby ring, tricking the ghoul into thinking he was Dracula.[6] After Graham had killed Dracula, and received the last of the Magical Keys and the Tiara, the ghoul ferried him back across the lake. Some claim the grim boatman is death itself.

When Graham had been weakened by his heart attack, Father Death hovered near his bed.[7] The royal physicians could do nothing to help him. Rosella worried that he would take Graham's life if she didn't save her father in time.

Charon later gave Alexander passage across the river Styx in Underworld of the Realm of the Dead in his skeletal boat for the price of two old coins. After landing he exited Death's boat near the Living Gate.

Connor encountered him at the edge of the City of the Dead in the Dimension of Death near the River of Death. He inquired of the boatman if he could seek passage across the river in the boatman's boat, but was told that only souls of the deceased could embark thus. A living physical man could not use his incorporeal boat, but that he could seek out the Bridge of Life to cross the river.

Connor wondered where the souls were for transport. The boatman told him that the Azriel was imprisoned, and that all was chaos and that the land bleeds. Connor acknowledged the foul pools of blood he had seen in the land. The Sacred Heart had been wounded, and that the Deliverer must heal it.

Connor then asked him about the Deliverer, the mortal One who wouldn't be judged above all others. Connor then mentioned he sought to heal the Sacred Heart, and wondered if he might be the Deliverer that the boatman mentioned. The boatman then told him that the heart of the deliverer wouldst be judged on the scales of justice. Equilibrium must be restored. That he must attain perfect balance against the Feather of Truth. Connor said he sought to do so.

Connor then asked him about the where to find the Feather of Truth. The boatman told him to seek the hall or respite, and to judge the skulls on the left. Then he gave Connor a riddle that would help him find the river.

Then he asked where to find the bridge of life. The boatman told him it spanned the River of Death and that he should follow the river to the east. Connor told him he would go.

Personality and traitsEdit

The boatman is a frightening character, a spooky, ghostly and skeletal ferryman; his hands little more than claws grip a long pole or scythe, and his face is often completely hidden inside of his hood.[8] The shade is often silent, and when he speaks its often cryptically. The apparition's stony silence, like death, grips the dusk.[9]Charon is unmoved by music. It has been long since he has had a good laugh, and tickling him would probably only make him mad. He often stands in his boat as he is the eternal ferryman of the dead. Charon's boat is one of his few companions and is apparently sentient in its own right (at least the boat he uses near the Realm of the Dead) as the other forms do not appear much more than simple wooden rowboats. Charon does not let travelers without fare loiter on the shores of his river; and will knock them over into the river if they wait too long and he is ready to cross.
Within the bounds of the Realm of the Dead and within Dimension of Death the phantom boatman appears to defer allegience to Samhain and Azriel, who are the Lords of Death in those realms (and are also known as Death). But he appears to defer allegience to Count Dracula in Kolyma as well (although the Prince of the Night does not appear to be a personification of death as well).

The ghoul appears to be truly evil undead[10], but appears to treat others neutrally as long as they have something to pay his required fare (only Dracula is given a free pass).  But he is possibly lawful as well, and is concerned with order and truth at least when it came to the Dimension of Death. But to say he is always 'evil' would be a misunderstanding. Perhaps his neutrality allows him to work with both evil and good; and it can be said that Death makes no judgements in the end he takes all.

While normally silent and only beckoning for his fare, he took special notice of Connor answering his questions in riddles, and revealing elements of the prophecy tied to Connor. Perhaps Connor's role as the Chosen One and the Deliverer confered special status on him so that the Boatman chose to open up to him.


  • Charon the Ferryman
  • Ferryman
  • Boatman
  • Father Death
  • Death
  • Reaper
  • Fiend

Behind the scenesEdit

Charon is based off the entity Charon in Greek mythology. His role from legend is actually not altered much for his appearance in King's Quest VI: Heir Today Gone Tomorrow; though his location is Realm of the Dead is different, and elements of the grim reaper are applied to him. In mythology Greek Mythology he is usually depicted as an old man rather than a cowled skeletal creature.

Charon was a brother of Thanatos (the actual greek personification of of Death and his sisters were the Keres the personfications of "Violent Death") in Greek Mythology; and was the ferryman of both the rivers Styx and the Acheron of Hades. Although Charon has often been associated with death in midieval legend originally that was the position of his brother (who also quite often portrayed as a grim reaper).

In order to pay Charon's toll across the river, ancient Greeks buried their dead with coins covering their eyes.

Charon may have been inspired by earlier Egyptian myths of Aken the ferryman.

KQ4 also makes reference to the traditional medieval interpretation of the the grim reaper in the title "Father Death". The reference to Father Death hovering over Graham's bed, and the physicians not being able to cure the king is a reference to the fairy tale Godfather Death (or Father Death). In the story he was the classic midieval personage of Death in Grimm's Fairy Tales.[10]

In the story the 13th son of a man becomes the godson of Death. Death took the boy into the woods when he became of age promising him he would become a famous physician. Whenever the physician went to a patient Death would come along, if Death hovered at the head of the bed, the physician would administer a special herb from the forest which would cure the sick person. If death hovered at the foot of the bed, any treatment would be useless and they would soon die. When the physician goes to see the King of all lands who was suffering from a grave illness that no other could cure, he noticed immediately that Death was standing at the foot of the bed. The physician felt pity for the king, and decides to trick Death. The physician then turns the King in his bed so that Death stands over the head. He then gives the King the herb to eat. This heals the King and speeds his recovery. This angered death but he was forgiven (but the second time the physician attempted it he died).

Death as a servant of Dracula is is a concept made popular in the Castlevania series of video games. It would seem the idea transfered over to KQ games as well. KQ2 predates the first Castlevania but the first edition of the Companion was published after the first few Castlevania games.

In the KQ Companion and in KQ7 Authorized guide the role of Boatman in KQ2 is said to be Charon or Death. Death is connected to Hades and is said to have gotten lost in the Dark Forest once. An entrance to Hades lies under the witch's hut and can be access through the crevasse that surrounds the hut. Death in the early KQ games is a mix of midieval concept of Death as a shrouded ghoul, the grim reaper, and Charon the boatman across the river styx.In the KQ2 manual a picture of the classic Death/grim reaper is shown in the section discussing the return of Edward's spirit to talk to King Graham from the Magic Mirror. Charon in KQ6 is associated with the grim reaper if you click the scythe on him. The Boatman/Ferryman in KQ8 is also inspired by Charon and shown to be the grim reaper in the maps (holding the scythe), and also called the 'Reaper' in the files. The River of Death is also known as the River Styx according to the KQ8 website.

In KQ2Edit

In KQ2 the character's name is not given, nor is any specific title. In the KQ2 Hintbook this character is referred to as the "shrouded ghoul". A traditional image of Death as a grim reaper appears in KQ2 manual, in a section discussing King Edward's spirit returning to speak to King Graham.

The character is usually described as a 'ghoul', 'shrouded ghoul', 'frightening ghoul', or 'fiend', 'shrouded fiend', 'silent fiend', 'spooky fiend' in the game. When interacting with it 'fiend', 'man' or 'ghoul' work in the parser.

The game does not understand 'boatman', 'ferryman',  'death', or 'charon' (it is the King's Quest Companion, or KQ7 Authorized guide, and/or the Official Book of King's Quest that gives the character those names or titles). This is not unlike the Pegasus appearing in KQ2, yet the parser does not respond to the word 'Pegasus'. It is possible to pay passage to cross the lake, with one of the Sapphire Jewels.[11] There is an extra "beckon" animation if you give him one of the treasures.

You only need to wear the cloak to get across free, however, wearing the cloak and the ring gives a more detailed description, and offers a background nod to Dracula himself.

In KQ4Edit

KQ4 makes a reference to 'Father Death' which is a reference to fairy tale Godfather Death which is a reference to the traditional Death as the Grim Reaper of midieval legend. Hovering over the bodies of the dying.

In KQ6Edit

Charon is used in its more traditional role; although the realm he appears in not Hades (which was ruled by Pluto); but a more original realm. Charon does rule over the river Styx however. Described as being ghostly ferryman (suggesting he is not entirely corporeal).

In the CD version, the narrator pronounces the name Charon with a SH. In Greek the CH should actually be pronounced like a K. In fact the pronunciation is similar to NASA's pronunciation for Pluto's moon Charon, based on the pronunciation and name given to the moon by James W. Christy, who intentionally pronounced it that way, in honor of his wife 'Charlene'.

Like Pegasus or Abdul Alhazred (and to a lesser extent Rumplestiltskin); the character Charon first appeared by name in the King's Quest Companion (in reference to the character in KQ2). But was reused by the King's Quest series.

In KQ8Edit

Known as the Boatman or the Ferryman (or Reaper in the files) the character ferries souls over the River of Death (aka river Styx according to the KQ8 website). Both the boatman and his boat appear incorporeal and are unable to move physical beings. Connor calls him 'sir boatman' and the 'good boatman'.

In King's Quest Companion & KQ7 Authorized GuideEdit

In the King's Quest Companion, the ghoul in KQ2 is referred to as the Boatman and also suggested to be Charon, or Death (off-hand remark in the novel, and also more specifically in the hints section). In most references in first two editions to 'Death' are in reference to a grim reaper style version of Death. The KQ2 novel section also describes the 'grim boatman' as being an apparition, shade, or phantom (also suggesting it is not entirely physical manifestation and is incorporeal).

Charon later appears in the third edition in the KQ6 chapter. The chapter also makes a nod to Charon as Death by referring to his boat as "Death's ferryboat", but the Lord of the Dead is also referred to as Death as well. Charon is described as both the 'ferryman of the dead' and the 'boatman of the underworld'

In the KQ7 Authorized Guide the ghoul in KQ2 is referred to as Death.

External LinksEdit

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