In fiction, insects and arachnids can be associated with many things depending on their race. Spiders and scorpions are scary, centipedes creepy, cockroaches disgusting and flies annoying. The Mantis, however is on a whole other level.
There are many kinds of depictions of a mantis. Overall, mantises are not to be messed with, but for specific details:
Serene, stern and disciplined warriors, usually martial artists too. This stems from Mantis Style Kungfu in Real Life (see its section below). This kind is usually good or neutral.
There's a nightmarish mantis yokai in InuYasha who feeds on women innards and then wear their skins. She's offed by Miroku, but manage to cut is Kazaana open, putting him in danger.
In One Piece there are giant mantises with very sharp claws on Jaya island. Later a similar mantis with blades instead of legs is seen in Impel Down. Last but not least, the Tenth Movie has Don Kamakiriri, a bad tempered mantis capable of taking down a gargantuan octopus with ease.
The Mantis Man in Yaiba appears as one of Onimaru's minions. Subverted later when he's revealed to be a goofy Punch Clock Villain.
Son of Godzilla introduces Kamacuras (also known as Gimantis in a bad English dub)into the Godzilla franchise. Already giant prehistoric preying mantises they get mutated by radiation to grow even larger. However, while they do pose a serious threat to the humans and even Minya, Godzilla manages to take them out very easily. Kamacuras appears in Godzilla Final Wars where it now has a chameleon like camouflage ability and puts up a better fight but is still killed by Godzilla without much effort.
Discworld, the Assassins' Guild School has gone co-educational and now treaches young ladies how to inhume with style and grace. One of the all-female houses of study, supervised by Miss Alice Band, is variably described as Tump House and as Mantis House depending which side of the continuity error you're on. It evokes The Vamp stereotype above.
Subverted with the thranx from Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series; they look like giant mantids, but turn out to be the most peaceful, ethical, and community-minded race in the books. One prominent thranx character actually learned his martial arts techniques from humans.
In Perdido Street Station, the reMade rebel/terrorist Jack Half-A-Prayer was an escaped criminal whose arm had been replaced with a giant mantis claw. A militia spy he kills is found with the claw's pincer-marks on both sides of her neck.
In the Spellsinger series, the Plated Folk are ruled by a preying-mantis queen. She routinely eats courtiers who offend her, fail her, or simply can't get out of her way fast enough when she gets upset.
The Dresden Files: One of the Denarians, Tessa, has a mantis-like alternate form. She's up for whatever causes the maximum amount of chaos and suffering for humanity.
There also exists the Mantis Warriors, a chapter of Space Marines with a curious mutation that gives them supremely enhanced reflexes, but at the cost of irreversible tunnel vision.
The Lictor is a stealthed Tyranid unit with massive mantis-like claws.
Mantis spirits in Shadowrun are far from pleasant (though not really evil, just having a really weird mindset), as they share other bug spirits' need to possess human victims in order to perpetuate their kind. The fact they prefer to prey on other kinds of bug spirits makes them occasional allies-of-convenience for Ares and others campaigning against the bugs, however.
The 1st Edition Monster Manual II had the Giant Mantis. It was 12 feet tall and had 10 hit dice (10-80 Hit Points). It could grab and hold prey helpless, doing 3-12 Hit Points of damage per combat round until death. It could camouflage itself in order to perform ambush attacks.
Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. The Hollow Earth has giant mantises the size of a large horse. They will attack any creature up to their own size, lashing out with their forelegs at blinding speed.
In the default Pathfinder setting, Golarion, the mantis god Achaekek is the pantheon's resident assassin and the divine patron of all Professional Killers of the setting, particularly of the universally-feared Red Mantis guild that worships him.
BIONICLE: Takadox is mantis-like post-Pit Mutagen change, as his design was based on the mantis shrimp.
The giant mantis monsters in Titan Quest. They just roam into the chinese forests and viciously attack your hero when they sight him/her. You can also wear a special suit of armor (composed of helmet, greaves and cuirass) that makes you look like a mantis-man.
Dark Mantis and Deathtanz Mantisk from the Mega Man X and Mega Man Zero series respectively, they both use a series of quick attacks with their bladed extremities, and both curiously had law related jobs before became mavericks (Dark Mantis was a prison guard, and Deathtanz Mantisk was an executioner, but he isn't exactly thrilled with the job note then again it was before Weilturned him into one of his warriors), however, by the time you come to face them, they are far from being cooperative.
A Boss in Turok Dinosaur Hunter is a giant mantis that can spit acid.
The Zerg in Starcraft' have scytheish limbs that, along with their aggressive behaviour, chitinous shells and hive-mind makes the similar to mantises.
The Scyther line in Pokémon. Mostly harmless (unless provoked). The line Took A Level In Bad Ass around the Diamond and Pearl generation. Also, Kabutops who has mantis-like arms.
In World of Warcraft, the Pandarens' main enemy is an insect-like race known as the Mantids, introduced in the Mists of Pandaria expansion. While primarily enemies, you do quests for one particular faction of them.
Warcraft III: The Crypt Lords evoke this trope: their body has the same limb distribution as a mantis (four legs supporting and two huge claws), but is much thicker and stockier, like a beetle the size of a rhino.
The Empusa of God of War has claws for hands. Bonus points for Empusa being an actual genus of mantises.
Portal 2: Implied by Cave Johnson's messages over the intercom. Instead of being injected with praying mantis DNA, the test subjects are told that they will be battling an army of Mantis Men, presumably the result of said DNA experiment Gone Horribly Wrong (or right, one can never be sure with Aperture Science).
"Pick up a rifle and follow the yellow line. You'll know when the test starts."
Lost Planet: one of the primary enemy types is an Akrid that resembles a giant praying mantis full of glowy orange T-Eng. They come in an even larger, deadlier variety that is best fought in a Humongous Mecha. A yet larger variant serves as a Boss Battle.
A particularly bizarre example occurs on Homestar Runner during Strong Bad's reading of That Time Of Year by Leomard Sportsinterviews (found in the Decemberween Short Shorts cartoon.) Instead of reading "Decebmerween is almost here! Get ready," Strong Bad reads, "De giant mantis is almost here. Get ready to be pistol-whipped, snowman!" with illustration to match. The mention of pistol-whipping a snowman in proximity to a giant mantis suggests that this may be a really slight reference to the MS T3k version of The Deadly Mantis, in which a similar joke is made.
Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu (which, incidentally, is the style Toph's earthbending is based on,) is a very close range fighting style. Northern Praying Mantis Style (also known as Seven Star Praying Mantis Style,) is a style of unrelated lineage which utilizes much longer range techniques, including whipping, circular blocks and high kicks, as well as signature "mantis hook" hand techniques which use three fingers (imitative of a mantis's claws) to strike vital points.
Truth in Television. Mantis' are very Bad Ass, being able to kill prey many times larger than themselves, such as snakes, rodents, and even birds. One of the only terrestrial arthropods that can overpower and kill a scorpion in a fair fight.
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