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Cerberus at the gates of the underworld. Have your tickets and passes ready.

Cerberus, Greek: Κέρβερος (Kerberos), is a massive three-headed dog that tirelessly guards the domain of Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. The dog is a figure of Greek mythology, much like Angela Merkel standing on the doorstep with an open checkbook.

Thus, Cerberus is part of the Greek pantheon’s border patrol. Not only does he keep the dead from escaping the underworld, he also keeps out Mormon missionaries and the homeless. He also hails cabs and carries packages for visiting gods for which he is given a small gratuity.

Cerberus is typically depicted with three heads, none of which are of a registered breed of the American Kennel Club (AKC). With three heads, he can multitask, necessary when dealing with situations like the arrival of the Bee Gees. This just proves he is mythical whereas mortals in threes are more like The 3 Stooges.[1] Some writers note he has one head to fifty heads, a serpent for a tail, plus other terrifying optional accessories. Historian and visiting future hell resident Bernie Madoff countered that those writers were wrong and just needed glasses.

Hades oversees installation of new dance floor.
For those without comedic tastes, the self-proclaimed experts at Wikipedia have an article about Cerberus.

More specialized tasks include working as doorkeeper and bouncer on underworld rave nights at Club Hades. He approves female entrants based on boobage, as well as artfully pretending to check entrants' fake IDs. Cerberus attended ITT Tech for intensive training on the blacklight lamp used to check handstamps for readmission (switch up for "on", switch down for "off").[2] The monstrous canine states that there are many who decide to stay after an event, figuring they belong there, anyway. Sneaking in drugs and alcohol is a problem, though Paris Hilton is responsible for 90% of it. She is officially allowed some slack since she will be a resident soon and will be bringing lots and lots of her friends. Troublemakers are summarily dealt with by eating them.

The giant dog claims to know just about everyone in the underworld. "After a few thousand years, you get to know a lot of people, though it’s mostly through them trying to talk their way out. Obviously, all the politicians, bankers and lawyers are here, as are all the jihadis with their raisins."[3]


Cerberus was born at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, the son of Echidna and GCh. Wigglesworth Ellison Markington Honeybunny Typhon III. The "brazen-headed dog" has an older brother Orthrus who works in the cattle business and a younger sister, the Lernaean Hydra, creator of the AOL CD-ROM.[4]

Hades dropped by one day looking for a guard dog. He saw Cerberus playing with other puppies, snapping their spines and crushing their skulls. The already-massive puppy immediately tore off Hades’s hand and the god knew it was a match made in hell. The Lord of the Underworld adopted Cerberus soon after coaxing the dog to give back his hand. It is reported the god refused an offer of 100,000 shekels for the brute from Michael Vick, yet another brute.

Even before toilet training, with some saying because of toilet training, Cerberus was always placed at the entrance to the underworld. Scribes who jokingly noted that the giant dog was there just "doing his doody"[5] were subsequently torn to shreds by Cerberus and were condemned to the Milton Berle Towers in the Bed-Sty section of Hell level 10.

Heracles incident

Surviving poster.

As part of his twelve tasks, Heracles (Hercules to the Romans) was sent to capture Cerberus.[6] The hero had earlier gained fame by inventing the ultimate Davy Crockett hat, made from the Nemean Lion, worn over the back and between the legs. By obtaining and throwing the Never Falling Stick of Thebes, Heracles tricked the massive dog into the surface world.[7] Attempting to sneak a peek at the underworld, he came across Theseus and Pirithous, bound together by serpents in the Chair of Forgetfulness.[8] Heracles, seeing this, laughed uncontrollably for an estimated half hour before freeing Theseus, who stormed off. Heracles then returned quickly to the land of the living by taking the "E" train and transferring to the crosstown express. He then triumphantly claimed his game show prize of one million drachma.[9] Heracles, changing his name to the catchier Hercules, later went on to become a star on stage, screen and television, even managing to make himself two-dimensional and star in several cartoon series.

Meanwhile, a worried Hades posted a reward for his faithful servant, tacking up posters all around the major cities of the known world.[10] Not long after, Cerberus was found wandering the streets of Sparta by Diogenes, who saw the "lost dog" poster and dutifully returned the massive dog to hell. Hades was overjoyed, and promptly paid the promised $300 reward, throwing in a requested lantern for free.

Orpheus incident

In Cerberus’s words: "That was a strange one. I got the word from Lord Hades and Lady Persephone to let Orpheus and his wife go. So here comes Orpheus almost running, apparently ignoring his wife following behind. He flashes his Willy Wonka Golden Ticket at me and keeps going. Pretty soon, here comes his wife (Eurydice). Then I started to hear music, and along comes a full orchestra led by this guy I found later was named Offenbach.[11] They were playing a rather catchy tune that stuck in my head for a long time. Even better, they were followed by a wild bunch of French dancers in fancy ruffles. This Toulouse Something-or-the-other tried to sneak out in the confusion with them, but he got sent back. Eurydice somehow got sent back, too. I heard they’re shacked up somewhere on level 2."

Cerberus in later life

The giant dog proved to be very effective at his job. Hermes always noted that although he himself was naked except for a helmet, Cerberus would always do a thorough inspection before letting Hermes pass through the underworld. "I always had to leave my stash farther up the tunnel where I hoped Robert Downey Jr. wouldn’t grab it while I was gone."

With a well-deserved reputation, the massive dog was offered other positions, Below are some of the offers with Cerberus's reasons for refusal:

  • TSA search inspector ("Bite EVERYONE's head off? That’s just crazy.")
  • US Border Patrol Kinder egg Enforcement Program (KEEP) ("Just give the non-smugglers a chance to cross back and either give away or eat the eggs. They can come back with just the toys, no problem.")[12]
  • Russian Dissident Outreach Program ("All that traveling was too much.")
  • United Airlines Seating Planner ("Too cruel even for my taste. And I like Asian people, and not just to eat, either.")

Even with the expansion of the underworld into many levels, Cerberus has kept the job of gate guardian. He said, "I almost took the job of supervisor of the new lowest level of hell. That’s the one for people who take pictures of their food and post them on Instagram. Plus it includes people who write for that Uncyclopedia thing."

Early writings on Cerberus

  • Ovid wrote that his mouth produced venom, preceding Oscar Wilde by many centuries.
  • Horace wrote of music calming and charming the great beast.[13]
  • Euphorion of Chalcis told of him having many tails made of snakes, and his vomit bringing forth poisonous aconite plants.[14]
  • Homer wrote a song: "Here Cerberus! (whistles)/Come back, Cerberus!(dog barks)/Best doggone dog in the West."
  • Strabo complained that Cerberus would get bored watching one of the multi-part performances of Dontanthikos Abbey. The dog would distract everyone with one head barking while stealing all the popcorn with another and biting other theatergoers on the butt with the third.
  • Seneca wrote, "Great eBayer. Fast shipping. Would bid agai"[15]
  • Virgil described seeing Cerberus lying in a vast bloody cave filled with gnawed bones. Historians agree that this was just BBQ Ribs Night at the local Golden Corral.

Cerberus in modern times

Cerberus appears here in the video game Grand Call to Zelda’s Creed (foreground, lower right).

He is reputed to be the model for "Clifford, the Big Red Dog".

In the 1983 Westminster Dog Show, Cerberus swept the first three places in Best Ominous Breed/Gimme a Trophy or Else category. It is not known which head won which placing.

The "brazen-headed dog" has made many appearances in the Final Fantasy video game franchise. He also appeared in Dirge of Mass Effect and Hello Kitty Death Splat.

Cerberus has guested on Snoopy Come Home IV: The Final Reckoning (2006) and in uncredited roles in two episodes of Dog Whisperer With Cesar Millan. One of those episodes showed Millan in what appeared to be a furnished living room but turned out to be the inside of Cerberus's mouth. The giant dog was allowed to eat the furnishings after filming.

Cerberus should not be confused with Cerebus, a comic strip aardvark. Cerebus is also the nickname for the Trans-Canada Transit’s number 12 local from Prince Rupert, BC to Iqaluit, Nunavut. That line is well-known by polar bears for providing convenient roadside snacks.


  1. Why, I oughtta …
  2. This was the advanced course.
  3. Hey, guys! Fooled ya, huh?
  4. Hail, Hydra!
  5. They’re not all winners, folks.
  6. This came somewhere between the delivery of seven swans a-swimming and twelve lords a-leaping.
  7. See My Boomerang Won’t Come Back, Charlie Drake (1961).
  8. Better that than the Porcelain Telephone of Drunkenness -- call for Ralph!
  9. Before taxes.
  10. So around six, then.
  11. Down in front!
  12. Upon hearing this, the agency withdrew the offer.
  13. Thunderstruck by AC/DC (1990).
  14. There’s a stoner talking if I’ve ever heard one.
  15. Seneca always wrote this.

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