The Gorgons were three sisters: Euryale ("far-roaming"), Stheno ("forceful"), and Medusa ("ruler"). Their origins vary in myth; according to some authors (including Ovid), due to Medusa's disrespect in Athena's temple, the three sisters were turned into terrifying creatures, while Pseudo-Apollodorus and Hesiod opined that the sisters were born, not cursed, and were the children of Phorcys and Ceto, making them sisters of the Graeae amongst others.
The Gorgons are described as monstrous creatures with impenetrable scales, living snakes for hair, hands made of brass, sharp fangs and a beard. They are said to live in the ultimate west, near the ocean, guarding the entrance to the Underworld.
Medusa, the youngest of the sisters and the only mortal, copulated with Poseidon in Athena's temple. Outraged, Athena changed Medusa into the ugliest monster imaginable. Her gaze could turn anyone she looked upon to stone. Her sisters went to Athena demanding that she turned their sister back, but Athena only turned them into monsters as well.
Medusa was later beheaded by Perseus, with the aid of Hermes and Athena. From the blood of her neck came Pegasus and Chrysaor. As the head retained its power to petrify, Perseus later used the head to defeat Cetus, a sea monster sent by Poseidon to punish Cepheus and Cassiopeia by devouring their daughter Andromeda. It was also used to turn Atlas to stone in an act of mercy, thereby forming the Mountains. He later gave the head of Medusa to Athena, who affixed it to her shield (the Aegis) as a protective ornament, referring to the apotropaiac function of gorgoneia (carvings or engravings of a gorgon's head used to deter evil).
- In the Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated episode Night Terrors, a gorgon was one of the many illusions located in a library/hotel.
- In the season two episode of Sleepy Hollow called "Magnum Opus", a gorgon appeared as an antagonist to the characters Ichabod Crane and Abbie Mills in their search for a sword with which to kill Moloch and prevent the Apocalypse.
- In the season one series of "Yu-Gi-Oh!", a trap card called "Gorgon's Eyes" was shown to turn monsters in defense mode to stone, which were then destroyed. The card was clearly based off the Gorgon.
- The Gorgon Medusa has been shown in films such as both Clash of the Titans and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.