This article is written from a Real World point of view.
"We do not impose our will on sentient species. The decision is yours. I have chosen you to decide, because only you, of all free humans, know what is happening. You must decide – to stay on Earth and fight a battle you are certain to lose. Or to leave this planet behind and form part of a new colony of humans."
―The Ellimist to the Animorphs[src]

The Stranger, published in April 1997 and written by K.A. Applegate, is the seventh book in the Animorphs series. It is the second book narrated by Rachel.


Official description

Okay. Rachel and the other Animorphs have finally found the new entrance to the Yeerk pool. They've even figured out a way to sneak in. The infamous roach morph. But they didn't count on roaches being a Taxxon delicacy. This time escape doesn't look so good.

And then everything stops. Everything. The  Taxxon, the human-controllers, the Hork-Bajir. Time. Now Rachel, Cassie, Marco, Jake, Tobias, and Ax are in for their wildest trip ever. They're going to get the chance to decide whether they want to stay on Earth and fight the Yeerks. Or go to another planet. And the guy giving them the choice says he can save them. Now all they have to do is make the choice...

Plot Summary

One night, Rachel and Cassie are at the circus with Rachel's dad, Dan and sisters, Jordan and Sara. After the show, Rachel and Cassie sneak around back where Rachel morphs into an elephant so that she could teach the elephant trainer a thing or two about mistreating elephants.

The next day, after some reconnaissance work, Marco and Tobias tell the others they found an entrance to the underground Yeerk Pool. The Animorphs decide to infiltrate the pool and to try to find the location of the Earth-based Kandrona by going in as cockroaches. Once inside the complex, however, they get caught on the tongue of a Taxxon. As they are about to be devoured, time freezes and they feel themselves being forcibly brought out of morph, where they discover they're in a cafeteria filled with Controllers. They run and meet Tobias, who has been rendered human once more. They are then introduced to an all-powerful being called the Ellimist, who is the cause of all this. He tells the Animorphs that he cannot interfere with other species, but when they are in danger of becoming extinct, he can step in and save a sample. He informs them that he wants to preserve part of Earth's beauty, along with some humans, because the Yeerks are going to win the war in the future.

Rachel bear animorphs jigsaw puzzle cover hq

Rachel in bear morph fighting a Hork-Bajir in a depiction from one of the Animorphs Jigsaw Puzzles.

The Animorphs ask how much time they have to consider the offer, but the Ellimist tells them that they must decide now. If they choose yes, they, their families, a few other humans, and a few Earth animals would be transported to another planet, but if they choose no, everything would be returned to the way it was before the Ellimist's arrival. The group puts the decision up to a vote, and during the deliberation, Jake and Rachel notice a dropshaft and a human frozen in the act of moving up in it. The Animorphs choose not to accept the Ellimist's offer and are immediately back in their cockroach morphs on the Taxxon's tongue, with Tobias back as a hawk outside They get swallowed, but start demorphing and Ax uses his tail blade to slice open the Taxxon's stomach, which gets the attention of all of the Controllers. They run as they begin to morph again and fight their way to the dropshaft, with Rachel morphing into a grizzly bear she secretly acquired the other night at The Gardens and goes into an uncontrollable rage. She snaps out of it and they all escape the Yeerk pool.

Later, Rachel has problems with making a choice of her own. Her dad is moving to another city in another state, and he wants Rachel to come along with him, but Rachel is overwhelmed by the decision of whether or not to go with him and return to a normal life, or to stay to continue fighting the Yeerks. Eventually, the Ellimist appears to the group again to give them the choice one more time. To aid in their decision, he transports them to a grim future in which the Yeerks have enslaved Earth, and they meet Visser Three, who is now Visser One, and a grown-up Rachel, who is now a Controller. Rachel notices, with some confusion, that most of the skyscrapers and buildings in the city have been leveled except for one: the EGS Tower. This tower stood at the base of a large, open Yeerk pool and was covered with a shiny dome. After they return to their own time, the Animorphs reverse their earlier decision and accept the Ellimist's offer. They expect to be immediately whisked away, however, nothing happens.

The Stranger Illustration

The first page illustration of The Stranger featuring Rachel in her grizzly bear morph, with Jake in his tiger morph, and Marco in his gorilla morph, riding the elevator to the top of the EGS Tower.

Rachel is disconcerted by this and concludes that the Ellimist did not transport them because he wanted a different answer. While thinking on it, she realizes that only because of the Ellimist's first appearance were they able to see the dropshaft and know that there was a chance to escape the Taxxon's grip. She then determines that during the trip to the future, the Ellimist was once again simply trying to show them something that he could not overtly tell them without interfering. She remembers the EGS Tower, deduces that the Kandrona must be located there based on the Yeerks' near-reverence for the Kandrona- the future Yeerks leaving the tower standing in future as it was almost sacred to them- and gathers the rest of the Animorphs for a raid.

After a vicious battle just before dawn, the Animorphs manage to take the top floor of the tower, where Rachel uses her elephant morph and shoves the Kandrona out of the window, destroying it. The Ellimist appears to them again, and confirms Rachel's suspicion that even he cannot tell the future, and humans might win the war yet. Later, Rachel goes to see her dad off knowing she's not going with him and he understands. As he leaves, Rachel sees Tobias up in the sky, saying the others are waiting for them, and she sets off to meet with them.


Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


Other Characters:



Major/Highlighted Events

  • Marco enlists Tobias' help in performing a two-man reconnaissance mission without the knowledge of the other Animorphs. The surveillance reveals that there is an entrance to the Yeerk Pool inside a dressing room at The Gap, as the previous known entrance, the janitor's closet at their school, was sealed. While Ax is eager to visit the pool for the first time and launch an attack against the Yeerks, the other Animorphs are hesitant to visit the pool again, since their first time didn't go so well. Nonetheless, the Animorphs decide to pay the pool another visit, for the sole purpose of locating and destroying the Kandrona, which the Yeerks need for sustenance.
  • In preparation for their trip back to the Yeerk pool, Rachel flies into The Gardens at night and acquires a grizzly bear morph, in order to update her African Elephant and wolf morphs in terms of power and strength.
  • The Animorphs are introduced to a powerful being known as the Ellimist, who freezes time and is capable to reverting Tobias back to his human form. He declares to them that humanity will soon be extinct due to the Yeerks and offers them the choice to leave their planet along with their loved ones in an effort to preserve some humans, thereby abandoning their fight against the Yeerks. He first appears while the Animorphs are about to be eaten by a Taxxon, offering them the deal and claiming that if they refuse, the five would be back in the Taxxon while Tobias would be returned to hawk form. Not wishing to be strong-armed, and noticing a dropshaft exit, the Animorphs refuse.
  • The Ellimist once again uses his power to revert Tobias to human form again, this time transporting all six to an alternate future, where they have not only lost the fight, but they have become Controllers. The Animorphs, on the brink of despair after witnessing how the future will turn out, accept the Ellimist's offer, only for the Ellimist to remain idle. Cassie and Rachel realize that the Ellimist is the one who caused them to notice the dropshaft when he first interfered, and wonder what the purpose of his second interference was. Rachel remembers remarking that the EGS Tower was the sole remaining building in the alternate future, surrounded by Yeerks pools, and correctly deduces that the Kandrona must be located on the top floor.
  • The Animorphs launch an attack on the EGS Tower at five in the morning; this marks the first time the six Animorphs engage in life-or-death combat against the Yeerks and sustain near-fatal injuries as a result (ex. Marco having his stomach sliced open, a Hork-Bajir wounding Jake's tiger, and severing one of Rachel's paws.
  • The Animorphs successfully destroy the Earth-based Kandrona.
  • The Animorhs demorph from inside a Taxxon inside a cafeteria inside the Yeerk pool. The Controllers, both human and Hork-Bajir, notice the four humans and the one Andalite and chase them. Rachel and Jake both yell with the Controllers on their heels, with Jake even telling them to morph. Rachel is tackled by a human-Controller and nearly killed, and although Ax saves her, the Controller gets a good look at Rachel's face. Jake, in his human form, is also being chased down by Controllers, and they see his face as well as he refuses to leave Ax and Rachel behind. Rachel and Jake then morph into grizzly and tiger in front of the Controllers and fight them. Marco later states that some of the Controllers were knocked unconscious and not killed. With the Controllers having witnessed humans cooperating with an Andalite and two of those humans morphing, along with the fact that they were barefoot and most likely left footprints on the linoleum kitchen floor, Visser Three does mention to Ax in the next book, The Andalite's Gift, that his confidants in the Yeerk Empire believe that the 'Andalite bandits' might be human, although the Visser decides not to believe it since Ax, a genuine Andalite, is in front of him.
  • Rachel and Tobias' relationship is touched upon briefly. Rachel, needing someone to talk to about her problems, flies to Tobias' meadow in the middle of the night, wanting to share her troubles with him and him only. The next day, when Rachel sees Tobias in his human form again, she runs up to him and hugs him tightly. Rachel also describes Tobias' human form as dreamy and thinks about his human form when she's in the shower, considering the Ellimist's offer. During her trip to the alternate future, Visser Three's comment about frying Tobias (in his hawk form) and eating it with barbecue sauce is what prods Rachel into morphing into her grizzly morph and attacking the Visser. Additionally, when Rachel discovers the location of the Kandrona, she tells herself that she isn't ready to tell the others yet and heads straight for Tobias' meadow to share the news. Finally, at the end of the book, after informing her father that she can't move to the East Coast with him, she declines to travel with him to the airport in favor of spending the afternoon flying with Tobias.


Morpher Morphs acquired Morphs used
Jake -- Cockroach, Siberian Tiger
Rachel Grizzly Bear African Elephant, Great Horned Owl, Cockroach, Grizzly Bear, Bald Eagle
Cassie -- Cockroach, Wolf
Marco -- Cockroach, Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim)
Ax -- Human (Main), Cockroach

TV Adaptation

The Stranger was adapted as part of the Animorphs TV series, which aired on Nickelodeon and YTV between the fall of 1998 and the spring of 2000. The seventh book in the series was covered by the twelfth episode, "The Stranger", along with the fourteenth and fifteenth episodes, "The Leader" (Part 1 & 2). The TV episodes did not follow the books faithfully, altering many aspects of the characters' roles within the Animorphs, the events in the war against the Yeerks, and added plot lines that were not present in the books.

Changes from Book to Episode

  • In the book series, the Animorphs rarely acquired morphs if they did not have a specific use for them. In the TV series, Cassie encourages this behavior, acquiring whenever they can.
  • Ax is captured by several Controllers with rope lassos; it is clearly established in the book series that it is nearly impossible to sneak up on an Andalite from behind. Ax would also be able to quickly cut through the ropes and escape his captors.
  • In the TV series, the Animorphs meet the Ellimist when they are captured in a net by the Yeerks in the forest, as they search for Ax. In the book series, the Animorphs were infiltrating the Yeerk Pool as cockroaches when they were suddenly swallowed by a Taxxon and about to be digested. Allowing Rachel to notice a human-Controller flying up a drop shaft is the Ellimist's subtle interference, allowing the Animorphs to escape the Yeerk pool once they burst from the Taxxon's stomach. The Ellimist shows the kids the future so that they may deduce the location of the Kandrona, atop the EGS tower; in the TV series, the point of showing them a Yeerk-controlled future is so that Rachel may bring a knife back to their reality, allowing them to escape the Yeerks' net trap. The Animorphs discover the location of the Kandrona by overhearing a telephone conversation between Tom and another controller regarding the new Kandrona's installation.
  • The Kandrona in the TV series, unlike that in the books, emits a visible red light ray.
  • The only non-Andalite to morph in "The Stranger" is Rachel, into a lion; the attack on the Kandrona that was a key plot point of the book occurs in the "The Leader (Part 1)". Cassie and Rachel are left to destroy the device, while Jake and Marco are aboard the Pool ship, a plot line from The Predator.


  • The cover quote is, "This time there may be no way out...."
  • The inside front cover quote is, "A little something to bear in mind...."
  • Rachel reveals that "Animorphs" stands for "animal morpher".
  • This is the first book in which the narrator is the only person to acquire a new morph.
  • This marks the first time that the Animorphs time travel.
  • This was the last book to be released physically as a part of Scholastic's Relaunch initiative, with the series being cancelled due to poor sales. However, The Alien, slated to be released physically, was the last book released as part of the relaunch, albeit in online e-book format.
  • Rachel mentions that a few months have passed since The Invasion; however, the events of The Predator and The Capture are revealed to have happened fairly recently, with Rachel and Cassie wondering about Marco's recently changed attitude towards fighting the Yeerks and Jake still recovering from his infestation.
  • The Ellimist was inspired by the Star Trek character Q, and the novel Flatland.
  • The Ellimist briefly demorphs Tobias to human. This is the first time Tobias is seen as human since The Invasion, and shows the Ellimist has the power to alter the nothlit effects of morphing.
  • Rachel states that if they are in morph for two hours and one minute, they would be trapped. In The Encounter, it is revealed that the morphing limit is not exactly 120 minutes, as the Animorphs were able to demorph from their wolf morphs a few minutes after they had surpassed the two-hour limit. However, since Tobias had lied to them about the time, it makes sense that Rachel and the others would still believe that the two-hour limit is exact.
  • During their time in the future, it is stated that this timeline is actually an alternate future altogether rather than a possible future for the Animorphs' true timeline, as Rachel's Yeerk is confused by the presence of Ax and she and Visser Three refer to six humans coming into the future – the Visser even correcting himself to state that they are five humans and one Andalite – suggesting that this world is a timeline where Ax was never rescued, another person was with them when they walked through the construction site, and/or a human joined the Animorphs sometime later.
  • Cassie mentions she finds something off about the alternate timeline future. Cassie's ability to sense changes in alternate timelines is a plot point that is revisited in Back to Before.
  • This marks the first time one of the human Animorphs use thought-speak to communicate with a Controller; in this instance, Marco speaking to the security guard at the EGS Tower. This book also marks the first time that Rachel uses her thought-speak to communicate with someone other than the Animorphs, when she threatens Josep, the circus elephant trainer.
  • Rachel mentions that the aftermath of their destruction of the Kandrona was a story for another time; the aftermath is shown in The Alien.
  • The group's dynamics prior to the night they received their powers is revealed for the first time: despite being cousins, Rachel and Jake were never close, only seeing each other at school. Marco was Jake's best friend, but Rachel was never friends with Marco. Rachel was best friends with Cassie, who had reciprocated feelings for Jake, but Cassie herself was not friends with Marco either. Finally, Tobias was not friends with any of them, although he became acquaintances with Jake and Marco after Jake had saved him from bullies. Despite this, Rachel admits that she was well aware of Tobias prior to that night. However, they naturally became close to one another after gaining the power to morph, as they had no one else they could truly trust.
  • Starting with this book, the Animorphs became a monthly series. Animorphs was released every other month in the start before this, but due to high popularity, the Animorphs contract was bumped up to have a book come out every month instead, with a set number of special editions which would later turn into Megamorphs and Chronicles.


  • Rachel goes to her room and locks the door after her father tells her that he is moving to the other side of the country. A few seconds later, her father knocks on her door and enters the room, despite it being locked. This is fixed in the reprint.
  • Rachel acquires a grizzly bear morph from The Gardens. The series is stated in The Answer to be taking place in California; however, zoos in California did not have grizzly bears until the late 2000s. The California grizzly bear, a subspecies of the grizzly native to California, was declared extinct in 1924. In the 1990s, when the series took place, no grizzlies lived in the California wild or in Californian zoos. However, series co-author Michael Grant later stated that he was aware of the issue but that Rachel needed a grizzly morph. Therefore, one should just assume that in the Animorphs universe, grizzlies are found in zoos.
  • When Jake says ‘answer’, which is split up between chapters, both are in quotes. However, they're divided to show that in the next chapter, they're back in roach morph. Thus, the other half should be thought-speak quotes. This is fixed in the reprint.
  • Cassie shows a scar she received on p104. Morphing should heal scar tissue, and therefore she should not have any scars.
  • Rachel has a flashback of Ax telling her that the Yeerk pool was the center of the Yeerks' lives and was like a religion to them. However, earlier in the book, while Ax did mention the part about the pool being the center of their lives, he never refers to it as a religion.
  • Right before the battle at the EGS Tower, Marco thought-speaks to a human-Controller, who is a security guard for the tower. Marco jokes that he has come from a masquerade party and is looking for Visser Three. This particular exchange should have made the Controller, at the very least, realize that Marco was not an Andalite.

2012 Relaunch Differences

  • The original edition, which describes Hork-Bajir as "Salad Shooters", is slightly modified to "SaladShooters" in the reprint.
  • "Dr. Doolittle" is changed to "Dr. Dolittle" in the reprint.
  • Rachel goes to her room and locks the door after her father tells her that he is moving to the other side of the country. A few seconds later, her father knocks on her door and asks if he could enter. In the original edition, he merely walks into the room, despite it being locked. In the reprint, this is modified to state that Rachel unlocked the door first in order for her father to enter her room.
  • When Jake says ‘answer’, it is divided to show that in the next chapter, they're back in roach morph. However, in the original edition, the quote ends with a quotation mark even though they are back in roach morph, and would be using thought-speak. The reprint rectifies this mistake.
  • Disney World is spelled as "Disneyworld" in the 1997 edition; the spelling is fixed in the 2012 reprint.
  • Rachel refers to the J.C. Penney logo as "Penney's" in the original edition; the reprint says "JCPenney".
  • The attack on the EGS Tower is stated to be occurring at "five-ten" in the morning in the original; in the reprint, it is changed to "5:10".
  • The original edition uses the spelling "adrenalin" while the reprint corrects it to "adrenaline".


US images

International Covers

International Back Covers

2012 Re-release Gallery

Main Series #1 The Invasion | #2 The Visitor | #3 The Encounter | #4 The Message | #5 The Predator | #6 The Capture | #7 The Stranger | #8 The Alien | #9 The Secret | #10 The Android | #11 The Forgotten | #12 The Reaction | #13 The Change | #14 The Unknown | #15 The Escape | #16 The Warning | #17 The Underground | #18 The Decision | #19 The Departure | #20 The Discovery | #21 The Threat | #22 The Solution | #23 The Pretender | #24 The Suspicion | #25 The Extreme | #26 The Attack | #27 The Exposed | #28 The Experiment | #29 The Sickness | #30 The Reunion | #31 The Conspiracy | #32 The Separation | #33 The Illusion | #34 The Prophecy | #35 The Proposal | #36 The Mutation | #37 The Weakness | #38 The Arrival | #39 The Hidden | #40 The Other | #41 The Familiar | #42 The Journey | #43 The Test | #44 The Unexpected | #45 The Revelation | #46 The Deception | #47 The Resistance | #48 The Return | #49 The Diversion | #50 The Ultimate | #51 The Absolute | #52 The Sacrifice | #53 The Answer | #54 The Beginning
Megamorphs The Andalite's Gift | In the Time of Dinosaurs | Elfangor's Secret | Back to Before
Chronicles The Andalite Chronicles | The Hork-Bajir Chronicles | VISSER | The Ellimist Chronicles
Alternamorphs The First Journey | The Next Passage
TV Tie-Ins Meet the Stars of Animorphs