The Dark Crystal Wiki
The Dark Crystal Wiki
First Garthim

The first Garthim

No Gelfling ever escaped from my deadly Garthim.

The Garthim were artificial lifeforms animated by the power of the Dark Crystal, intended to act as the army of the Skeksis Empire. They were created by skekTek during the late Age of Division, by grafting the corpses of a Gruenak and an Arathim Spitter.

Their name, which was always pluralized,[2] was both a portmanteau of "Gruenak" and "Arathim", and a derivative of "Garthic".

Originally created to quell the Gelfling resistance, the Garthim were repurposed as an extermination force during the Garthim War after the Skeksis had learned of a prophecy that a Gelfling would reverse The Great Division and end their rule.

Appearance and traits[]


Garthim guarding the entrance to The Castle of the Crystal

The Garthim were roughly twice the height of an adult Gelfling and were protected by obsidian armor plates.[3] Their design was based on sea creatures native to the urSkek homeworld,[4] though they still possessed trace elements of the two species they were created from, such as a Spitter's carapace and limbs and a Gruenak's head shape, torso, and arms. Each Garthim sported up to twenty legs, which grouped together to give the illusion of bipedalism.[3] Armed with powerful claws and monstrous strength, they were capable of smashing through stone walls and destroying anything regardless of their construction, including Aughra's observatory and orrery.

Aughra expressed doubt as to whether or not they were truly killable, and J. J. Llewellyn theorized that they were essentially thought projections that could spontaneously materialize when seen even in the form of an illustration, thus prompting him to keep artistic depictions of them to an absolute minimum in his annotated translation of the Book of Aughra.[4] Nevertheless, the utility of the Garthim was limited due to their ponderousness. While effective in guarding the Castle, raiding villages and sowing destruction, their lack of agility prevented them from jumping,[5] and the rattling sounds they made when in motion would give away their location.[3] Their intelligence was also extremely limited, with Aughra describing their stupidity as "incalculable",[4] as they lacked autonomy and were incapable of strategizing outside of pre-established orders.[2]

They were implacable enemies of the Landstriders which, although vastly outnumbered and outmatched in physical strength, could use their speed to swiftly cripple the Garthim.[4] The Garthim's sole purpose was destruction, and would follow orders from their Skeksis overlords without question. It was unknown whether or not they could kill a Skeksis if ordered to do so by another, but skekUng planned to test this when he suspected skekTek of betrayal. They could also be controlled by the urRu to a limited extent. The Crystal Shard could harm the Garthim, as Jen used the Shard to force a Garthim to release him during the Garthim's attack on Kira's village.[2]


My lords, my lords, all is not lost! I have found a solution to all our problems. An ingenious combination of Gruenak and Arathim. I call it... GARTHIM!

Garthim attack - Marvel

Garthim capturing Gelfling during the Garthim War

As the Gelfling resistance intensified, skekSil, having learned of the risks involved in entrusting the Skeksis' security to unreliable allies, proposed the creation of an army of "soulless, fearless, instruments of death", engineered to be completely loyal to them. SkekSo approved of the project and entrusted its realization to skekTek, providing him with all resources necessary, including a Spitter carcass to use as a template.[6]

While the other Skeksis went to fight the Gelflings at the Second Battle of Stone-in-the-Wood, skekTek found that he was unable to revive the dead Arathim and determined that he required a stronger source of connective tissue. He subsequently beat one of his Gruenak slaves to death and incorporated some of its anatomy onto the Arathim.[7]

More Garthim were eventually made before skekUng became their master and were later repurposed an extermination force during the Garthim War. In the time between the war and Jen's quest, the Garthim's use was largely limited to raiding Podling villages for slaves. When not in battle, the Garthim served as sentries in the corridors and pits of The Castle of the Crystal, motionless until given a command. When Jen healed the Crystal and purged it of darkness, the Garthim were reduced into heaps of empty shells.[2]

Jen later learned he could use skekUng's Scepter of Office to reanimate the Garthim and place them under his command. When the Second Great Division occurred and the Skeksis were freed, Jen used the Garthim to apprehend the unruly creatures to restore order in his court.[8] They were ultimately all destroyed when attempting to cross the Great Divide whilst pursuing Kensho and Thurma.[5]

Other continuities[]

In the continuity established by Legends of the Dark Crystal, the Gelfling Lahr discovered that they could be defeated by stabbing at weak points in their armor. In several engagements, the Garthim showed signs of fear upon seeing their comrades fall.[9] The Gelflings eventually manage to destroy the entire Garthim army during a siege of the Castle of the Crystal, forcing skekUng to rebuild from scratch.[10]

Behind the scenes[]

Frank Oz with prototype Garthim

Frank Oz filming a prototype Garthim puppet

The precursors of the Garthim appeared in The Mithra Treatment, where they had yet to be named. Jim Henson described them in the following terms:[11]

The army of Reptus is malicious, violent, and brutal. It is the enforcer of the rule of the Reptus. Its barbarity has no bounds whatsoever; offenses are inflicted not only upon others, but within its own ranks. It is common practice among the soldiers of the army to consume each other as a just punishment for violation of specific rules. Their bodies are encased in metallic, armorlike uniforms. This casing slowly shrivels upon their death. There is no awareness of what physical characteristics are under their uniforms.

Jim Henson

They were finally named in Frank Oz's 1978 outline, The Crystal, though spelled "Garthem". Oz's outline also included Jen finding a magic cloak that protected him from them.[12]

The final design of the Garthim was based on the carapaces discarded from Brian Froud and Jim Henson's lobster dinners. Construction of the Garthim costumes was supervised by Fred Nihda, who began work in December 1979 and concluded after nine months. Each suit consisted of 590 interlocking fiberglass pieces weighing a total of 80 lbs. The claws were made of sharp metal, which permitted the performers to destroy set pieces during action sequences.[13] The suits were so heavy and prone to overheating that special harnesses were constructed to suspend the performers from the ground in-between takes in order for them to recover.[14]

The Garthim that appears in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was a puppet used in the film that was best-preserved. Kevin Clash recalled "The foam had disintegrated and it needed repainting, but it was unbelievable how well it still worked," and "The Garthim operated in exactly the same way it had on the original.".[15] It was played by performer Daniel Dewhirst.



  1. Henson, J. & Oz, F. (dir.); Henson, J., Kurtz, G. & Lazer, D. (prod.); Henson, J. & Odell, D. (writ.) (December 17, 1982). The Dark Crystal (Motion picture). New York City, NY: Jim Henson Productions.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Smith, A. C. H., & Odell, D. (1982). The Dark Crystal. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 0030624363
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Cesare, A. & Compiet, I. (2020), The Dark Crystal Bestiary: The Definitive Guide to the Creatures of Thra, Insight Editions, pp. 76-77, ISBN 1683838211
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Froud, B. (2003) The World of the Dark Crystal. Pavilion Books. ISBN 1-86205-624-2
  5. 5.0 5.1 Spurrier, S. & Kennedy Johnson, P., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #10, Archaia, USA, January 2018
  6. Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "The Crystal Calls". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  7. Age of resistance logo Age of Resistance – "A Single Piece Was Lost". Netflix. August 30, 2019
  8. Spurrier, S., The Power of the Dark Crystal, #3, Archaia, USA, May 2017
  9. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2007) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 1: The Garthim Wars. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167014
  10. Kessel, B. R. & Arnhold, H. (2010) Legends of the Dark Crystal Volume 2: Trial by Fire. TokyoPop. ISBN 1598167022
  11. Jim Henson, The Mithra Treatment [DVD special Feature]. The Dark Cyrstal: Collector's Edition, Dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz. 1982. Colombia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2003. DVD.
  12. C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, p. 35, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  13. C. Gaines, The Dark Crystal: The Ultimate Visual History, Titan Books, 2017, pp. 102-105, ISBN 1-78565-592-2.
  14. Making-of. The World of the Dark Crystal. Dir. Jim Henson & Frank Oz. 1982. Colombia Tristar Home video, 1999. DVD.
  15. Wallace, D. (2019), The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance - Inside the Epic Return to Thra, Titan Books, p. 132, ISBN 978-1-78909-387-2.

External Links[]