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 A.D. 802,701 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 "almost antlike", because they slink about silently during the night to catch their prey.
Morlocks wear no clothing but are covered with fur. As a result of living underground, they have little or no melanin to protect their skin, and so have become extremely sensitive to light.
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.
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 Traveller perceives this, and guesses 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 Morlocks also live underground, tending machinery, and are seen by many to represent the "soul-deadening" effects of the Industrial Revolution.
The explanation of their cannibalistic behaviour is that there was 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, they chased the hominoids, who later became Eloi, for mating - but who over time became their prey. The Time Traveller suggests that Eloi and Morlocks are the only species that seem to exist during that time.
After he discovers the Morlocks, the Time Traveller becomes increasingly disturbed by them to the point of paranoia. He devotes more effort to fighting them, eventually creating a huge forest fire in the night.
At the end of the book, the Time Traveller proceeds further into the future and sees, on a desolate beach, giant crab-like creatures hunting after beautiful creatures that resemble butterflies. The Time Traveller theorizes that this is an eventual result of the Eloi/Morlock struggle. Of course it is undoubtedly a struggle for a slow-moving crab to capture a butterfly, and one might conclude that the butterflies are what have become of the Eloi, who have evolved to evade the Morlock crabs. However this is highly unlikely, since neither species have any Mammal Biology to support the theory that they have any Morlock and Eloi Ancestry.
Their most likely fate was extinction from both drowning and freezing to death, when their tunnels flooded and froze in the progressing eons, as mentioned in the cut chapter of The Grey Man.The Eloi however devolved into Rabbits, only to be hunted to extinction later by giant Centipedes, thus resulting in the Human extinction, before The Time Traveller travels further into the future, to the time of giant crabs and giant butterflies.
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.
These Morlocks are a moralistic, civilized race who are certainly 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 Traveller 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.)
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.
For some reason, these Morlocks are always described as wearing blueish spectacles, which are presumably to protect the Morlocks' sensitive, dark-adapted eyes.
The Time Traveller also calls the Morlocks by a variant name, "Mi-Go" (derived from H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos tales), and states that they are "known to other ages as Abominable Snowmen." They are implied to be fairly intelligent, as the Time Traveller talks of a suspicion that they are working for the malevolent forces which are attacking the time stream.
J.R.R. Tolkien also wrote a poem about Morlocks, though these were substantially different from H.G. Wells' version.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.
The assumption seems to be that the Eloi will manage to fill their heads with garbage one way or the other, so American culture exists to ensure that it is harmless garbage rather than the dangerous types that lead to disruptions, violence, wars, and inquisitions.
To quote Stephenson directly:
"But in our world it's the other way round. The Morlocks are in the minority, and they are running the show, because they understand how everything works. The much more numerous Eloi learn everything they know from being steeped from birth in electronic media directed and controlled by book-reading Morlocks. So many ignorant people could be dangerous if they got pointed in the wrong direction, and so we've evolved a popular culture that is (a) almost unbelievably infectious and (b) neuters every person who gets infected by it, by rendering them unwilling to make judgments and incapable of taking stands."
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. It is one of the ways that the Morlocks get their food.
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 hair of the same pure white color as his skin, has the physique of a human, and wears clothing. His brain is so large that it doesn't quite fit into his head, but instead trails down his back and envelops his spine. He is telepathic, 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 (if any) 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. 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 herd Eloi, the Spy Morlocks that shoot them with blowgun darts, and the Über-Morlocks that command the first two races. 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.
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.
The Morlocks in this show are apparently undead, with machine components built into their bodies. Their leader is Morticon, who often quarrels with his top warrior, Knight Wolf. The main area shown of the underground Morlock headquarters is a large throne room, with an audience of Morlocks who look down and cheer at Morticon.
Also, the zombie-like foot soldiers which were originally thought to be the Morlocks are actually called "Hidiacs", who are foot soldiers who serve the Morlocks. It is unknown whether they can be considered a variety of Morlock themselves.
In the videogame Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, the children of the Vampire Lieutenant, Turel, were known as Morlocks in the early stages of production. The first such Turelim vampire encountered in the game bestowed the Telekinesis ability upon the protagonist, Raziel, and has since been named Morlock in terms of canon.
In H. P. Lovecraft's story The Lurking Fear, the protagonist discovers that the (fictional) region of Thunder Mountain in the Catskill Mountains is inhabited by a population of ape-like, cannibalistic, degenerate humanoids who live underground. It is unclear whether these creatures are based on H. G. Wells' Morlocks, but they are remarkably similar.
In Orson Scott Card's Homecoming Saga, The fourth book Earthfall features the 'Diggers' who live below ground and terrorize the cattle-like 'Angels' who live on the surface. The Diggers share similarities with Wells' Morlocks.
In Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda television series, Magog are a violent furry species that prey on other life forms, including humans. In another thematic relation to Wells' theme of time travel, advanced Magog are brought back from the future by a super-genius engineer and crew member of the spaceship Andromeda Ascendant named Seamus Zelazny Harper.
In the movie I Am Legend, starring Will Smith, the Dark Seekers have many similarities to Wells's Morlocks, including an aversion to light, cannibalism, tribal nature, little to no melanin pigmentation, and the fact that they were originally human.
In the Warcraft series, the creature Murlock contains slightly similar features to the Morlock, and shares an almost identical name. There is also a creature called a Trog. A cannabilistic race that dwell underground and evolved from the same race that would become the dwarf.
Most of them were slaughtered in the Mutant Massacre, and the survivors later moved to Gene Nation, located in a parallel dimension. A later retcon made some of them the failed creations of the Dark Beast.
Also, in "Welcome to Death Ward Hospital", one area of the areas has a well which leads down to the Morlock habitat. Here, the player can meet Gorbertron—the leader of the Morlocks.
In "Homer the Moe" Homer is telling a story at the bar and summarizes a story he's been telling with "Eventually I become king of the Morlocks". Carl Carlson replies "But Morlocks are from the future!".