The Gill Man was a prehistoric half-man, half-fish humanoid living in the upper reaches of the Amazon in a tributary known as the Black Lagoon. The first fossil evidence of the Gill Man was discovered by geologist Carl Maia, but it was a living Gill Man that later came into Dr. Maia's camp and killed his two assistants, Luis and Tomas. Exactly why the Gill Man did this remains unexplained, but it is possible that he saw the assistants as invaders into his territory.
Later, the Gill Man inexplicably became attracted to icthyology student Kay Lawrence, a member of the second expedition to the Black Lagoon funded by the South American Instituto de Biologia Maritima. His efforts to 'court her', as it were, were hampered by the expedition's leaders, David Reed and Mark Williams: the former wanted to capture the Gill Man alive, while the latter wanted to stuff and mount him as a hunting trophy.
Ultimately it was Reed who won out, and the Gill Man was captured alive and kept aboard Lucas' boat, the Rita, but not before the creature had killed two of the Rita's crew, the brothers Zee and Chico. However he eventually escaped, injuring Edwin Thompson in the process, and blocked off the entrance to the Black Lagoon, trapping the expedition's survivors. While David and Mark struggled to free the Rita, the Gill Man attacked and killed Mark, then abducted Kay and took her to his underground grotto lair.
David followed and engaged the Gill Man in a fight, but ultimately it was Lucas and Dr. Maia who came to his and Kay's rescue, shooting the Gill Man with rifles. Seemingly mortally wounded, the Gill Man escaped and fell into the waters of the Black Lagoon, sinking to the bottom.
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Because of the Gill Man's amphibious nature, it was necessary to have him played by different actors on land and in the water. In all three Gill Man films, the creature was played by Ricou Browning when in the water, and on land he was played by Ben Chapman in The Creature From the Black Lagoon, Tom Hennesy in Revenge of the Creature, and Don Megowan in The Creature Walks Among Us.