Initially, Samara appears as a pretty (although withdrawn) and young girl with brown eyes. In addition to these features, she had long brown hair and fair skin. She wore a white nightgown.
In her cursed form, Samara is very haunting in appearance, resembling a Japanese onryō, a spirit focused on vengeance. Her hair is now black and soaking wet, hiding her waterlogged and deformed face which has turned somewhat grey in colour with sunken eyes. Her skin has become an unnatural moldy colour, although when she climbs out of a television, her skin appears a murky grey. In addition to this, her white dress becomes tattered and soaked with water, turning it brownish-yellow, grey, and black.
She helped popularize the "string-haired ghost girl" horror trope in Western cinema, although the trope has long existed in Japanese culture. She is portrayed by Daveigh Chase in The Ring, Kelly Stables in Rings (Short Film) and The Ring Two, and Bonnie Morgan in Rings (2017 film).
In 1970, a woman named Evelyn Osorio was held captive in the basement of a sexually perverted priest named Burke. Burke raped her under captivity which eventually impregnated Evelyn. Evelyn escaped captivity after eight and a half months and fled to a Christian hospital to give birth.
Evelyn soon gave birth to a baby girl named Samara, who ceased to cry and was born with strange supernatural abilities. It is unknown where these abilities came from since both of her biological parents were fully human but it was most likely that she was a human incarnation of a demonic spirit that resided within the waters, which Evelyn lived in constant fear of.
Shortly after her birth, Evelyn claimed to hear voices in her head telling her that the only way to get rid of the evil spirits residing within Samara was by drowning her. Whether these voices came from her conscience or from Samara telepathically telling her to do so is unknown. Evelyn eventually decided to drown the baby girl in the fountain outside the hospital but a group of nuns intervened and seized the baby away. Samara was put up for adoption whilst her mother was institutionalised.
Eventually, Samara was adopted by Anna and Richard Morgan, who were prize-winning horse breeders in Moesko Island. A book dedicated to Samara, which was written by Evelyn, was stored in the basement of the Morgan ranch despite Samara having little memory of her own biological mother. Anna loved Samara dearly as if she were own child due to her several miscarriages between 1963 to 1969 and Samara loved her back in return. As Samara grew up, she developed strange supernatural powers known as nensha, which enabled her to unintentionally burn gruesome images into her parents' minds whenever she was around.
Having no knowledge over her powers, her powers unintentionally spiraled out of control as Samara grew up. This caused her to be the perfect scapegoat by the local community who blamed her for the island's misfortunes such as not being able to catch enough fish etc. In addition, Anna became more mentally unstable and distant towards Samara, due to the gruesome images that Samara unintentionally burnt inside her head. Living as an outcast, Samara spent most of her time alone on the swings outside the Morgan ranch. Ironically, she developed a phobia of water despite the fact that she may actually be the human incarnation of a sea demon.
Anna consulted Dr. Grasnik, the local doctor, about the gruesome images in her head but being unable to help her, Dr. Gransnik referred both Anna and Samara to Eola Psychiatric Hospital. Under 24/7 surveillance, Anna was treated for depression and suicidal thoughts whilst Samara's powers were observed by a psychiatrist named Dr. Scott. During her stay in Eola Psychiatric Hospital, Samara was unable to sleep and displayed her nensha by burning images onto transparent film which Dr. Scott uses as evidence for her powers.
Dr. Scott records the psychiatric session on camera and asks Samara on how she was able to perform her powers but she gives cryptic answers such as "I see them... and then... they just... are." He also presumes that Samara doesn't truly want to hurt anyone with her powers but Samara sinisterly confesses to him that her powers are too strong and that she won't stop hurting others, indicating that she is slowly becoming a sociopath. The recording abruptly ends on static and it was presumed that Samara killed Dr. Scott with her powers. His murder was further hinted when Samara mentally compares him to be a centipede, viewing him as a pest that needed to be exterminated.
The footage becomes missing soon afterwards. To prevent Samara from harming anyone else with her powers, her father Richard locked her in the upper level of the horse barn with only a TV set to entertain her. Samara struggled to fall asleep every night due to the noises that the horses made. In a fit of psychotic rage, Samara burnt gruesome images into the minds of the horses and drove them to commit suicide by causing them to jump off a nearby cliff.
The mass suicide was considered to be an epidemic and the Morgans later became the center of unwanted media attention. According to several news reports, about 36 horses were killed in this bizarre mass suicide. The horse barn was quarantined by the authorities but none of them were aware of Samara's presence. Depressed over the loss of her horses, Anna was sent back to Eola Psychiatric Hospital. Anna was eventually released from the hospital five days later and as a way to relieve themselves from the recent tragedies, the family decided to travel to Shelter Mountain Inn for a vacation.
Whilst Samara stood beside a well in Shelter Mountain Inn, Anna finally snapped and suffocated her with a black, garbage bag and threw her down the well, in order stop her from mentally tormenting her and the horses. Anna later became horrified by her actions and committed suicide by jumping off a nearby cliff out of remorse. Meanwhile, Samara tried to crawl out of the well but broke her fingernails in the process as a stone lid slowly covered the top of the well, sealing her fate. She eventually died due to drowning after spending 7 days in the well. After Samara died, the horses in the Morgan ranch returned to normal but Richard decided to stop breeding them. She was about 10 years old at her time of death. Meanwhile, the rest of the citizens on Moesko Island seemed to be relieved that they won't have to encounter Samara's troubling presence ever again. Dr. Grasnik even admitted herself that "things have been better" ever since Samara's death.
But this was not the end. Samara died, but she didn't leave. After dying in the old well, Samara created a videotape using her psycho-photography powers which curses anyone who watches it, resulting in their death after 7 days.
The video contained cursed images and clues to Samara's past. The only way to survive the curse is to give it to someone else by creating a copy of the video and showing them before seven days pass.
- She is noteworthy among other horror villains, for she wields no distinctive weapon, often kills her victims off-screen, and her killing methods are purely psychological in nature rather than physical and remain completely enshrouded with mystery and speculation.
- Samara's name means "protected by God" in Hebrew, alluding to her biologically supernatural origins. Noah, the name of one of her well-known victims, was also Hebrew in origin and interestingly, a Biblical figure named Noah appears in a narrative that mainly involves a great flood (a nod to the recurring theme of water in the films). Due to her demonic nature, her 7-day curse could be a mockery of the 7-day God took to create life on Earth.
- A theory about how Samara kills her victims is that she mentally projects all of the images from the cursed videotape into the victim's mind all at once, causing an intense mental overload which literally causes them to internally explode, leaving their external body seemingly rotten and "dried" out as a result of the overload. This is why the victims receive a heart attack before dying, their mouths are horribly disfigured despite no sign of physical attack and a series of screenshots from the cursed videotape briefly flash moments before they die.
- In a deleted scene, local fishermen tell Rachel an alternate version of Samara's beginning. They claim that Samara is Richard and Anna's biological child, and that a doctor from overseas helped them get pregnant. It is assumed that they made deals with demonic forces as the fishermen tell Rachel that Richard and Anna often "messed with nature" before they finally gave birth to Samara.
- Samara was born on January 2nd, 1970.
- Samara's alternate fate was much more brutal than the one shown in the official film. Whilst suffocating Samara with a black garbage bag, Anna struck her head with a rock several times before throwing her inside the well.
- Sammy appeared as a cameo in the 2018 movie called Blood Fest.