Initially appearing as a vengeful ghost, Samara's appearance is always the same -- a young eight-year old, brown-eyed girl with long brown hair that usually covers her face, although it can often turn a dark black. She wears a white, short-sleeved dress and at one point wore black shoes. Samara appears quite pale and rarely talks, she is scary presence. In her cursed form, Samara is very haunting in appearance, resembling a Japanese onryō spirit, a spirit focused on vengeance. Her hair is now dark and soaking wet, hiding her waterlogged and deformed face which has turned somewhat grey in colour and she has sunken, nearly colorless eyes. Her skin has become an unnatural moldy colour, although when she climbs out of a television, her skin appears a murky grey. Her white dress becomes tattered and soaked with water, turning it brownish-yellow and grey.
Samara is shown to be an innocent victim seeking some form of attention, particularly after her death and the creation of the video tape, so the world can know of her pain and suffering. She is very otherworldly, hardly talking and being unsocial, and spends hours on end standing around and staring at items of interest without moving. Wanting the world to know of her suffering, Samara designed the tape to be passed on to other people so they learned of her life, and emerges to kill people after seven days, likely under the belief that they did not care to aid her and to emphasise how her life ended, and will approach her victims in a slow and tormenting manner.
She is quite reclusive, spending a lot of time alone, although this is not helped when her adoptive father Richard Morgan forces her to live in the Morgan Horse Ranch's barn. As a baby she was nearly drowned by her mother Evelyn, and then neglected by her adoptive parents and then killed by Anna, Samara lacked any proper parental figures and after being freed by Rachel, Samara saw her as her beacon of hope and ultimately decided to make Rachel her new mother, possessing Aidan Keller's body to get close to her. She becomes quite aggressive to anyone else aside from Rachel whilst in Aidan's body, believing she needs no one else aside from a mother, despite being abandoned and killed by her previous two. Samara is shown to be quite needy, repeatedly making attempts to claim Rachel as her mother. Although brutal in her vendetta against the world, it seems that her penultimate goal is to be heard, found, pitied and possibly loved.
Samara has a number of supernatural abilities, although most do not appear until she becomes a spirit. Her signature ability is Nensha, also known as thoughtography, projected thermography and psychic photography. Samara sees various images in her mind and can project or burn them onto objects like walls or paper. Sometimes they are perfectly burnt onto objects that cannot be damaged so easily. It seems that Samara has no proper control over the images, but can rather aim or focus them. She can project the images into a person's mind, causing them great pain and torment, although it was at first an accident when around the Morgans. Samara later used her nensha powers to drive the ranch's horses to insanity and eventually suicide when she realised that her parents loved the horses more than herself.
She most notably created the video tape using images and memories she had experienced. As a wraith, she could use nensha on those who watched the tape to experience flashbacks into her life and even see her in dreams. She can also physically harm people by leaving burn marks on their bodies, but they can vanish over time. The curse of the video tape makes supernatural experiences happen to the victims based on Samara's own experiences.
As a spirit she wanted to kill everyone, Samara gains more abilities. Her spiritual presence seems to terrify animals like horses or deer, causing them to panic or attack the victims of the tape or people related to Samara, although it may be an extention of her nensha ability. How she killed Katie Embry and her friends and indeed all her victims remains unknown as her method of killing is never shown. It seems she kills victims by scaring them to death by revealing her distorted face. How her victims faces become rotten and disfigured is also unknown. It is possible that making eye-contact with Samara causes the victims to die and have their face warped. After the seven day deadline, Samara can invade a television set and emerge from the well in the tape's inner world and displays the ability to defy the laws of physics to crawl her way out of the television into the real world, but remains as a flickering, distorted figure like the video tape's quality. In Rings, victim Jake attempts to escape Samara by breaking his television screen but she manages to escape and attempts to attack him by emerging through the screen on his video camera, hinting that she can emerge from other electrical sources.
It has been questioned by fans how did Samara kill Katie's other friends when two of them were driving in a car and the other was on a rooftop and supposedly jumped off, although it is possible she can appear via water or maybe caused some sort of event that caused the group to die. Numerous questions have been asked how she appears if the victim is not anywhere near a television.
Despite displaying a fear of water, Samara has control over it, capable of manipulating it to her desires. She can cause a bathtub of water to empty its supply up onto the ceiling, and displays a tendency to use water to scare a person, usually in the form of growing puddles of water that creep after victims. Samara can turn on televisions and electrical appliances, usually to escape out of them or use them to display her images. She can also use telephones to contact a person after they've watched a video. She even leaves an answer message on Rachel's telephone, directed at Noah.
In The Ring Two, Samara possesses Aidan Keller's body to a degree, capable of subjugating his conscience and taking over, although Aidan appears still in control in dreams. However, Samara has little idea of how to pretend to be Aidan and easily makes it clear that she is in control. She is exorcised from Aidan's body by Rachel when she submerges Aidan in water, causing Samara to flee into a television. When trapped in the well by Rachel, Samara displays inhuman movements and "spider-walks" her way up the well walls.
Samara was born to a woman named Evelyn in 1970. Her father's identity remains unknown, but it is possible she inherited her powers from him. Evelyn went to a hospital run by nuns eight months pregnant. She gave birth to Samara but found that her baby would not cry. Samara apparently told her that a demon was born inside her and the only way to be rid of it was to drown her in a pond outside. Whether or not this was Evelyn's own psyche or Samara's powers telling her to do this remains unknown. A nun spotted Evelyn attempting to drown Samara and led a group of nuns to stop her. Samara was put up for adoption whilst Evelyn was sent to an asylum.
Samara was eventually adopted by Anna and Richard Morgan and taken to live on their horse ranch on Moesko Island. However, as she grew older, Samara's powers began to develop and grow, unintentionally frightening her parents by burning images into their minds. The island's doctor sent them to Eola County Psychiatric Hospital for treatment. Anna was treated for depression and suicidal thoughts, whilst Samara was treated differently, examined and observed for hours on end. She displayed her nensha powers by burning images on transparency materials and film. Doctor Scott interviewed Samara who responded that Richard planned to leave her in the hospital. Doctor Scott eventually died, likely killed by Samara's powers. On the contrary, Richard eventually had Anna and Samara discharged and took them back to the ranch.
To prevent Samara from harming anyone, Richard moved her into the ranch's barn, turning the top floor into her isolated bedroom with a ladder as the only means of access. Left alone, Samara had only a television set for company. She also burnt an image of a tree onto a wall, hidden behind wallpaper. Samara was awoken at night by the ranch horses. Out of anger and jealousy, Samara mentally attacked the horses with her nensha powers. The horses went insane and committed suicide by running towards the ocean, drowning themselves. At least twenty-seven horses died, and the newspapers called it an epidemic. Anna was heavily affected by the deaths and was sent back to the hospital for several days. The ranch was quarantined for five weeks by health experts but they could not find any source of the deaths, unaware of Samara's presence.
Anna was released from the hospital five days later. To escape the chaos, the family visited Shelter Mountain Inn. Anna revealed ulterior motives for going to the mountain. One sunny day, Samara stood before an old stone well admiring a tree on a hilltop when Anna appeared behind her, commenting on how peaceful the place was. She suddenly produced a black plastic garbage bag and suffocated Samara with it and then knocked her out with a rock. Apologizing to Samara, Anna pushed her down into the well. Recovering quickly, Samara awoke to witness Anna sealing her in the well. It is unknown if Richard was aware that Anna planned to kill Samara. After the Morgans returned to the ranch, Anna committed suicide by jumping off a cliff. The horses later seemed to recover, but Richard eventually stopped breeding them.
Samara spent the next seven days trying to escape the well by scaling the walls, only to fail and break off her nails and fingertips in the process. She eventually drowned on the seventh day. However, her spirit lingered on, longing for help and attention. A set of rental cabins were built around the area, Cabin 12 built on top of the well. With a television and a VCR set placed right above the well, Samara managed to transfer her nensha abilities and likely her own spirit into a blank video cassette, creating the curse of the video tape.
Almost thirty years on, Samara's video tape was eventually found by four teenagers who visited Shelter Mountain Inn - Katie Embry, Josh Turandot, Stacey Miller, and Scott Conroy. In an attempt to record a football match, they instead found and watched the video and were informed by the telephone that they would die seven days on. Unaware that they had to copy the tape to survive, the four eventually died a week later. Samara personally killed Katie, making her the first victim of the video. Stacey and Scott died in a car crash, whilst Josh supposedly jumped off a seven-story building, possibly influenced by Samara in a similar fashion to the horses. *It should be noted that Katie's friend Becca mentions the tape before Katie tells her that she has seen it, suggesting that the tape has already become a sort of urban legend, and therefore Katie and her friends are very unlikely to be the first victims of the tape*
The tape was found by Katie's aunt Rachel, an investigator, and was given the same seven day deadline to copy the tape. Rachel, Noah and later their son Aidan all watched the tape and worked together to track down the source of the video, discovering it was made by Samara. Samara herself appeared to Rachel in a dream and visited Aidan offscreen repeatedly, showing him images of her life and eventually harmed him by burning his hand like she burned Rachel's in the dream. This led Aidan to realize that her cycle of terror would never end, and that if her body was ever freed from the well, it would only become worse, which he later tells his mother.
Rachel visited Richard on the ranch but his memories of Samara's images eventually lead him to killing himself with electrocution. He said he never wanted a daughter. Rachel and Noah search Samara's room and find the image of the tree. Returning to Shelter Mountain, the two find the well under Cabin 12. Rachel is knocked into the well by the cabin's television and finds Samara's skeletal remains. Rachel has a flashback of Samara being dropped down the well. Samara's body is later taken away by the authorities.
However, the release of Samara's body is not enough for the zombie girl. Still wanting the world to know her pain, the curse continues. Samara appears in Noah's television, now a haunting spectre, and climbs out of his television onto the floor. Frightened, Noah tries to flee, but falls over and injures himself. Samara walks over to him and reveals her deformed face, terrifying him to death. Rachel finds Noah's body, and in a maddened rage she destroys the original tape and burns it. However, realising she survived by copying the tape, she helps Aidan copy the video to save him, sending the video off to continue the curse.
In the short film Rings, the cursed video tape has spread across America and perhaps the world as a cult, with groups of teenagers called "Rings" each watching the tape, recording what they see and putting it on a website, and if they panic they can hand the tape over to the next person in the ring. This allows Samara's goal to get attention to work but no one who watches the video understands what is happening, and their goal is to see if anyone can make it past the seventh day, despite being aware of the death penalty that awaits them.
Samara appears only in glimpses throughout the short, stalking victim Jake and others who survived or have yet to watch the tape. In a dream sequence, when Jake's seven day deadline ends, Samara attempts to materialise into Jake's house through his television. Jake breaks the glass of the television, but Samara still manages to appear before him. Jake uses a video camera to record her, but she punches through the video camera's screen to get to him. It turns out to be a dream and Jake contacts his friend Emily so she can watch the tape.
The Ring TwoEdit
The Ring Two continues straight on from Rings, with Jake trying to show Emily the tape and retreating into his kitchen as Emily watches the tape. However, upon seeing water stream into the kitchen, he runs back into the living room to find that Emily covered her eyes. Jake collapses before the television set as Samara emerges to kill him.
Rachel, who moved to Astoria with Aidan, finds his body in the back of an ambulance and is horrified by his deformed appearance. As she tries to zip up the bodybag he is in, Samara grabs her by the arm and pops up in the bodybag, proclaiming that she has found Rachel, revealing she always planned to haunt her, wanting to make Rachel her new mother due to her apparent caring nature towards her. Rachel locates the copied tape in Jake's house and destroys it. Afterwards, Samara tracks down Rachel's new home and disturbs Aidan as she appears in his television and attempts to drag him into the tape world, although this turns out to be a dream or a nensha vision. Yet there is a chance that the so called "dream" was actually real, yet filmed to make seem like a dream, or perhaps an illusion. In the movie as Aidan awakens from his nightmare of getting pulled into the tape world, it's possible that he was already possessed by Samara. The proof would be the sudden defensive reaction to Rachel's inquiry of his dream, and the wet ring left on the bed spread. The next day, Rachel and Aidan visit a fair, but Samara stalks Aidan, alerting some nearby deer to her presence. In a public toilet, Aidan grows suspicious and takes photos of himself in a mirror, the photos later revealing that Samara was behind him and entered his body. This causes Aidan to develop symptoms of hypothermia, reflecting on Samara's time spent in the well. Samara's presence causes Rachel to see Aidan as the girl, Samara using her powers to burn a giant tree image into the wall and ceiling of Aidan's room. Journalist Max Rourke becomes involved and learns of Samara's existence, although he is skeptical. Aidan is placed in a bath, but Samara attempts to fully take control of his body, causing the water in the bath to levitate into the air. Rachel saves Aidan after attempting to drown Samara, although Max sees her trying to drown Aidan. Max forces Rachel to hospitalise Aidan under the care of Doctor Emma Temple. Rachel investigates Samara's origins, meeting Evelyn who cryptically tells her that Samara must be imprisoned again. Aidan falls unconscious, allowing Samara to take control, quite obsessive with finding her "mommy". She influences Doctor Temple to kill herself with an injection of air and leaves the hospital, eventually wandering to Aidan's house. Max arrives and attempts to take a photo of Samara, but she catches on and kills him, somehow distorting his face without the use of the tape although the curse could extend from her own will. Rachel returns, finds Max dead in his truck and realises Samara has possessed Aidan. In a dream, Aidan tells Rachel that Samara must be removed.
Playing along with Samara, Rachel drugs her into unconsciousness. Taking Aidan to the bath, Aidan regains consciousness and agrees to go along with the brief submersion. A frightened Samara panics and is forced to leave Aidan's body, appearing in a watery apparition and sadly glares at Rachel before vanishing. Aidan survives, but Samara materalises in the television, and attempts to materalise in a second attempt to possess Aidan. However, Rachel approaches the television as Samara emerges and offers herself as a mother in place of Aidan. Samara silently agrees and pulls Rachel into the tape world and into the well. Seeing that well's lid has been removed due to being in the tape world, Rachel begins to climb out of the well. Rachel softly mentions that the lid is always open, implying that Samara may have always been able to escape from the well. Alarmed to Rachel's quick progression, Samara emerges from the water at the well's bottom and displays her true inhuman side, scaling the wall in an inhuman, spider-like fashion and quickly catches up to Rachel as she reaches the top. Rachel knocks out a stone in the well causing water to gush out and knock Samara to the bottom of the well. Rachel manages to climb out of the well as Samara angrily bursts out of the water and scales the wall again. Rachel begins to cover the well again like Anna did, but a distraught Samara calls out to her in a deformed voice as "Mommy!". Rachel angrily responds that she is not her mother and covers the well, imprisoning Samara like Anna did. Rachel then escapes the tape world by following Aidan's voice and falls off a cliff into the ocean below, guided by a vision of Anna's suicide. Samara appears to be permantely trapped, although if the Rings cult has numerous copies of the tape and a person does not show a copy to someone else before the end of the seven days, than Samara has a chance to escape.
Samara has appeared outside The Ring franchise. She has been parodied in Scary Movie 3 and Robot Chicken. In Scary Movie 3, which mostly parodies The Ring, Samara appears as a girl named Tabitha who was knocked down a well and drowned. In one scene, Tabitha emerges from a television set and gets into a physical fight with Regina Hall's character. Tabitha is played by Marny Eng.
Samara is also parodied in Robot Chicken. In the sketch, a man is watching videos for potential dates and finds the cursed videotape. Samara comes out of the television but suddenly speaks and comments that she likes "trees, dolls, and ponies". Here, she is voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar who starred in the American remake of The Grudge alongside Amber Tamblyn who plays Katie Embry in The Ring.
- Samara's two portrayers, Daveigh Chase and Kelly Stables, are also both known voice actresses. Daveigh Chase voiced Lilo in Disney's Lilo & Stitch and Chihiro in Spirited Away, and Kelly Stables voiced Will Vandom in W.I.T.C.H.. Stables also did stunt work on the first film.
- Academy Award-winning makeup designer Rick Baker worked on Samara's physical appearance in all three films.
- Samara bears a similiar appearance and characteristics to Alma Wade from the F.E.A.R video game series. Both are powerful psychics who use their powers to kill and haunt their victims. They both have long black hair which usually cascades over their face.
- Samara's first name means "protected by God", possibly a nod to her mysterious, supernatural father. Her last name Morgan means bright sea dweller and (almost) morning in german (i.e. MorgEn).