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The Groke (Finnish: Mörkö, Swedish: Mårran) is a fictional character in the Moomin world created by Tove Jansson. She appears as a ghostlike hill-shaped body with two cold staring eyes and a wide row of white shiny teeth.

In the book Who Will Comfort Toffle?, it is mentioned that she has a tail, but it has never been seen. Wherever she stands, the ground below her freezes and plants and grass die. She leaves a trail of ice and snow when she walks on the ground. Anything she touches will freeze: for example she once froze a camp fire by sitting down on it. She seeks friendship and warmth, but she is declined by everyone and everything, leaving her in her cold cavern on top of the Lonely Mountains.

On one occasion in a comic, however, she was hailed as a hero when she, in her constant search for warmth, extinguished a forest wildfire by sitting on it. The Groke is both a live representation of loneliness and a psychological depiction of very lonely people who have a hard time accepting and expressing love in the right way, making them seem cold and scary to others, which, in turn, only leads to more loneliness. She is quite scary to some readers.

Books she appears in

  • 3. Finn Family Moomintroll - This is the first appearance of the Groke, (except a very brief one in the Ny Tid moomin comic from 1947) and she is generally played as a frightening villain, though Sniff expresses a bit of sympathy for her, at one point moving himself to tears with a speech on how awful it must be to be so alone (in all fairness, his main goal is probably to put Thingumy and Bob in a bad light, after learning that they have stolen the King's Ruby from the Groke).
  • 4. The Exploits of Moominpappa - Here, several characters refer to the Groke eating people: The Joxter claims to have a cousin who was eaten by the Groke, and the young Moominpappa saves the Hemulen's Aunt from being eaten by the Groke. She is never actually seen to eat anyone, though, and since the book is written as Moominpappa's memoirs, it's quite possible (and quite in his character) that he exaggerated things a little in order to make himself look more heroic.
  • 6. Moominland Midwinter - The Groke makes a couple of cameo appearances, though she comes across as far less villainous and more to be pitied than feared. Too-Ticky even expresses sympathy for her when she wants to warm herself by the fire at the celebration for the sun, and ends up not only scaring everyone away but inadvertedly putting out the fire with her own coldness.
  • 8. Moominpappa at Sea - In this work, the Groke keeps on going to Moominpappa's island to beg Moomintroll to show her his lantern flame. This story builds on the new angle of the Groke that Too-Ticky offered in Moominland Midwinter, and is generally seen as the most sympathetic portrayal of her in the books, even containing short passages written from her point of view; constantly craving warmth and light but unable to get either.
  • Who Will Comfort Toffle? - Toffle bites her as he is saving Miffle, however it is not known whether she was holding Miffle hostage or not.

Adaptations

There have been various adaptations of the Moomin books on TV. The Groke appears in many of these.Tove Jansson

Moomin (1969 TV series)

This version of the Groke was all-black and resembled the 1990 Groke, but was far more comedic in nature, with one scene including her sticking out her large, green tongue and comically screaming at Moomin, only to then lick a strange thing he had on his face covered in mustard and screamed even more, because she did not like the taste of it. Here, she was refered to "Licky-Licky".

The Moomins (TV series)

The Polish series features the Groke in several episodes. She is portrayed far more menacingly, making creepy sounds that resemble loud uncanny hissing (Original Polish version) or growling (English broadcast). For the most part this Groke lacks her trademark smile and arms, that only appear when she's attacking someone or tries to grab something. The Polish Groke has large, black eyes with glowing pupils that change colour depending on the Groke's emotions.

Magician's Hat (1980)

The Soviet Magician's Hat has what is considered by many the strangest interpretation of Groke in Moomin history - this version of the Groke is much smaller than any others, has very long grey fur, a nose, and laughs and speaks. She also wears a hat, and can turn into a flower and even fly, making strange sounds while doing so. She also has very large feet.

Who Will Comfort Toffle? (short film)

This short film features Groke as very tall, grey, and having a very big nose, even larger than other interpretations of her.

Moomin (1990 Japan)

The Japanese anime series Moomin has her as a recurring character. Apart from her intimidating appearance the loud growling sounds she utters contributed to this effect as well as her malevolent theme music, which begins to play every time she appears. The Groke's primary introductions were in episode 6 and 20 of the series. Especially in her first episode, the dark image and her growling spooky voice was seen as too frightening for some children which might be why the Groke appears with brighter colours and a more relaxed expression in the next episode. It was not until episode 37 that children could start seeing the Groke more sympathetically.

Episodes

  • Episode 6, Tiny Guests: Thingumy and Bob hide from The Groke in Moominhouse and she appears at night.
  • Episode 7, The Suitcase: The episode starts with Moomin having a nightmare where he's chased by The Groke. The next night, right after her previous appearance, Groke comes back to Moominhouse, freezing flowers, rivers, and ground on her way. When there, Groke confirms that she's there for the suitcase Thingumy and Bob brought. Moominmamma trades Moomin's heart-shaped shell for her to leave them alone.
  • Episode 22, Moomin and Little My's Adventure: Moomin hears The Groke's voice in winter. Him and Little My encounter her from afar. Later, she a wants to ride a snow horse made for The Lady of the Cold but decides not to. Her chilling presence helps freeze the horse solid.
  • Episode 37, The Midwinter Bonfire: She comes up to Moomin and The Snork Maiden, seemingly trying to be social, but Moomin and Snork Maiden leaves because the cold would hurt them. Later, she's getting dangerously close to Alice after a near-accident. Moomin stops Groke and she leaves. Alice says Groke got mad when she mentioned Moomin, and it's implied she's got a crush on him.

In the end of the episode, she comes to the bonfire, chasing away all the shrews. When she tries to warm herself by sitting on the fire it extinguishes.

Trivia

In late 90's and early 2000's, when the 90's anime series - which is considered by many to have the scariest portrayal of the Groke in it - premiered in Poland, the Groke - known in Poland as Buka - caused a panic amongst Polish children. The Groke had different sounds - deep, eerie cold howls and moans preformed by voice actor Andrzej Bogusz. This, mixed with the darker colouring of the episodes (a trait shared with Finnish episodes and some other airings) and the fact that the Moomins were mostly played at night, in the Wieczorynka programming block caused the Groke to be widely considered one of the scariest childhood characters in Poland, both by 90's and early 2000's kids.

Many children were horrified by her, were scared to go to sleep because of her, having dreams of her chasing them or turning into the Groke (some examples of such dreams could be found on the myslalemże.pl portal before it got shut down around early 2010's). The defunct portal Grono.net even had an Anti-Groke forum called ANTY-BUKA, where people would share their childhood stories about the Groke.

Different visualizations

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