Samara Morgan is the central antagonist of The Ring franchise, the American remake of the Japanese psychological horror franchise Ringu. Like Sadako Yamamura, Samara is a young girl who possesses powerful psychic abilities. However, her abilities unintentionally torment and even kill those around her, leading her parents to have no choice but to kill her by throwing her into a nearby well. Samara survived in the well for seven days until her eventual death. Returning to the world as a vengeful ghost, Samara created a cursed videotape that vowed to kill anyone who watched it after seven days. Even though it appears that her main goal is to inflict suffering upon humanity through her cursed videotape, she seeks for a mother (even though her previous mothers tried to kill her) to care for her via being reborn.
Samara (like a ghost) appears with a white dyed dress and long black hair that covers her face. When she kills her victim, her face is revealed to be terribly disfigured as a result of being in the well for so long.
Samara has a number of supernatural abilities,(liken killing mothers)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. When her psychiatrist says that Samara doesn't want to hurt anyone, she disagrees and says that she does, indicating a sadistic nature. 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 extension 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 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 is thrown into a well and makes a cursed videotape, often mistaken for a sex tape by other characters. In one scene, Tabitha emerges from a television set and gets into a comical 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 as Karen Davis in the American remake of The Grudge alongside Amber Tamblyn who plays Katie Embry in The Ring and Aubrey Davis in The Grudge 2.
Additionally, Samara is one of the main characters in the popular webcomic Erma by Brandon Santiago, where she is the mother of a zombie girl named Erma, a little girl with the ability to climb walls, change forms, raise the dead, and perform additional otherworldly feats. Her goal is to scare people, but ultimately she wants to be loved and accepted. The webcomic began in August of 2014 and runs weekly to the present day.
She appeared in a Disney Channel Jessie Halloween special episode as a girl named Abigail
- 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.
- Samara's Japanese counterpart is Sadako Yamamura from Ringu.
- When filming the scene where Samara walks towards the TV to kill Noah Clay, the producers filmed Daveigh Chase walking backwards then reversed the shot in order to create the creepy walk.