The game Undertale, released September 15, 2015, has legions of devoted followers. You play as a human who falls into the Underground, filled with monsters. The most determined being Undyne the Undying. She is the head of the royal guard in the Underground. Her task, eliminate any and all humans. But what exactly is the origin of Undyne?
From Nymph to Royal Guard
Undyne’s name derives from the word Undyne (also spelled Ondine), a mythical water nymph. The undine is an elemental spirit representing water. The Swiss alchemist, Paracelsus, invented the name in his book “A Book on Nymphs, Sylphs, Pygmies, and Salamanders, and on the Other Spirits” from 1566. The Latin root for undine is unda or “wave”.
No such fate would befall Undyne, her name a play on the word undying. She is committed to eliminating humans and stealing your soul — the last one needed to allow the monsters to escape from the underground.
A Determined Piranha
One theory about Undyne’s appearance is that she is a humanoid version of a piranha fish (specifically Serrasalmus Rhombeus).
Undyne is a fish-like monster with blue scales and a protruding maw of teeth. This matched the toothy grin of a piranha. Additionally, the Serrasalmus Rhombeus has red finned gills, matching Undyne’s red ponytail. Finally, piranhas have eyes with vertical slits, much the same as Undyne.
These fish also share Undyne’s personality, a ferocious determination to attack. However, piranha work in packs. Undyne needs no other help.