Sensor Tentacle YKTTW Discussion

Sensor Tentacle
A tentacle or tentacle-like extensible mechanism is used as a sensory appendage
(permanent link) added: 2013-02-15 22:32:15 sponsor: SharleeD (last reply: 2013-08-04 13:20:39)

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Many people find the boneless flexibility of tentacles to be a bit unnerving, and fiction often uses this to make a scene seem creepy or otherworldly. While Combat Tentacles in action sequences are perhaps the most common example of this, suspenseful scenes can better evoke the same creepiness with the slow, serpentine, methodical movements of a Sensor Tentacle in search of hiding characters.

In scifi, a Sensor Tentacle is often a robotic probe on a tether that's deployed by Starfish Aliens, while in horror or fantasy it's usually organic and tipped with a recognizable eye. Either way, such appendages may be multifunctional as Combat Tentacles.

Sometimes combined with Bizarre Alien Senses, depending on what form of sensation the tentacles actually detect.


  • In Skyline, each glowing probe-arm of the Hydras does double duty as a Sensor Tentacle and a head-grappling device for brain collection.
  • In The Abyss, a tentacle-like construct made of animated water makes initial contact with the human explorers.
  • In the 2005 War of the Worlds film, a mechanical tentacle probes the basement where Ray and his daughter are hiding.
    • In the 1953 version, a viewing device attached to a long cable was inserted into the farmhouse where Professor Forrester and Sylvia van Buren were hiding. Professor Forrester knocked it down with a crowbar and escaped with it.
  • The dianoga from the garbage-compacter scene in A New Hope peeked out of the water using a single eyeball on the end of one of these.
  • The giant mole in City of Ember has large tentacle-like feelers around its nose to help the creature feel its way around in the darkness. Once these feelers touch the selfish Mayor of Ember, however, it's lights out for him.
  • Bob from Monsters vs. Aliens sometimes contorts his amorphous body to extend his eye on one of these, to look around corners or through openings.
  • In Monsters, the giant alien creature extends several tentacles into the service station to investigate its interior. It can apparently detect light with them, as the tentacles affix themselves to a working television as if fascinated, apparently mistaking its flickering light for bio-luminous communication from another of its kind.

  • The gyrosprinter in Expedition has these sticking out on either side of its torso - they're actually extremely sensitive balance organs, like the human inner ear.
  • In the Sime Gen series of novels by Jacqueline Lichtenberg and/or Jean Lorrah, the Simes were a mutated branch of humanity that could sense life energy (and often other things) via two pairs of retractable tentacles on their forearms.
  • Dragons in the Dragaera novels have sensory tendrils on their cheeks and chin that detect psychic energies.

Live-Action Television
  • In an episode of The Big Bang Theory when Sheldon is home sick Leonard runs away, but he forgot his glasses back at their apartment. Howard uses a remote-controlled camera-on-a-cable to see if the coast is clear before Leonard enters.
  • Remote camera-on-a-cable sensors or pole-cams are used in practically every episode of Flashpoint.

Tabletop Games
  • The otyugh, a filth-inhabiting monster from Dungeons & Dragons, has three eyes located in a long, flattened stalk that can bend and twist freely, rather than in its body.

Video Games
  • The Tentacles from Half-Life react to loud noises. They also appear to have a small eye near the end of each appendage, but they rely considerably more on their hearing than their sight.

Western Animation
  • The Nozzle was used in an Overly Long Gag on The Venture Bros., for an examination of Master Billy Quizboy. No one, not even the people using it, knew what it did.
  • Ĉon Flux: Trevor Goodchild used a tongue/tentacle/thing to diagnose an alien (that was actually a time-traveling human) like a tricorder.

Real Life
  • Snails and slugs have simple eyes at the ends of a pair of tentacles, also known as "eyestalks".
  • Tiny cameras on the end of flexible remote-guided cables are used by first responders for law enforcement or rescue work, and for laparoscopic surgery.
  • Catfish barbels and the nasal appendages of star-nosed moles are sensory structures that detect things by feel.
  • Insect antennae are sensory appendages used for touching and smelling in most species, and also "hearing" sound vibrations in some.
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