Created By: Noaqiyeum on April 16, 2013 Last Edited By: Morgenthaler on September 6, 2016

Monsters with Tentacles

Monsters are given tentacles to make them more terrifyingly alien.

Name Space:
Page Type:
YKTTW now sponsored by Morgenthaler per Up for Grabs rules.
Rolling Updates

A place to put examples that are currently shoehorned into Eldritch Abomination and Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods. Needs a Better Description.

Supertrope of Cthulhumanoid. Uses Combat Tentacles by default, and many other things for which tentacles are useful. In many ways, this is the contemporary version of Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever.


    open/close all folders 

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Kraken creature types, which includes the Polar Kraken, one of the biggest creatures in the game.
    • The Cephalid, a race of squid-folk portrayed as physically weak but sneaky and conniving.
    • Zendikar brings us the first true legendary octopus: Lorthos, the Tidemaker.
  • Munchkin has the Level 18 Squidzilla monster (outright called Cephalopodzilla in French).

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man's foe Doctor Octopus. Not really squishy, though.
    • Spidey has a lesser foe called the Squid who really is all squiddly diddly.
  • Octoboss, a minor Invincible villain, is a horrifying anthropomorphic octopus who straddles the line between Humanoid Alien and Starfish Alien. His head and hands are all masses of super-strong Combat Tentacles. Since Invincible is in part a Spider-Man homage, Octoboss is probably based loosely on Doctor Octopus.
  • Ozymandias destroys New York using a giant squid at the end of the Watchmen book. The movie, however, removes the squid in favor of an energy machine that sends highly destructive blasts of energy to not just New York, but cities around the world, and makes it look as if Dr. Manhattan was responsible.
  • Sonic the Comic has Chaos' final form which is squid-like, unlike the draconic form Chaos went for in the games.
  • Diabolik had to fight octopi twice: the first time was when a millionaire, expecting Diabolik's visit, put his jewels in a chest and the chest in a pool containing seawater and a giant guard octopus (Diabolik planned to poison it, but found himself in a hurry and had to jump in and knife it to death), while the second time he was peacefully swimming when a wild octopus attacked him.
  • There's also Shuma-Gorath, a recurring enemy of Doctor Strange, who can best be described as a pile of green tentacles with a giant eye in the middle. As the name and appearance might suggest, he's a lovecraftian chaos entity residing outside our dimension, and is constantly trying to find a way in. He is very unpleasant to deal with to say the least.
  • The Ogdru Jahad from Hellboy, being a mix of Lovecraft and Babylonian myths, are often protrayed as enormous tentacled masses beyond our universes borders. They're also the Big Bad of the entire setting, are responsible for the creation of Hellboy and have intended for him to bring them into our reality to usher in the End of Days.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Cthulhu Mythos: The octopus-headed star spawn, and their leader, the Dread Lord C'thulhu, Master of R'lyeh. H.P. Lovecraft had a strange thing about tentacles and invertebrates in general. There's always, always tentacles, to the extent that anything with tentacles will for better or worse be compared to a Lovecraftian horror. It might be because he was both violently allergic to pretty much all seafood and had something of a phobia about them. The reason there's such a strong "slimy creature from the sea" motif in his monsters is because, to Lovecraft, marine creatures were among the most vile and disgustingly ugly animals in the world. Of course, the Old Gods arent actually celaphods or anything else that resembles terrestrial life, its just the closest approximation of their true appearance that our brains can understand.
  • The Lord of the Rings has the Watcher in the Water (a huge squid-thing that guards the gates of Moria).
  • Michael Crichton's Sphere had "Jerry" summon a swarm of impossible squid, and later a giant squid (an homage to the one from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea) to attack the undersea station.
  • The 1957 French novel Niourk by Stefan Wul features amphibious, hyperintelligent mutant octopuses.
  • John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes is about the invasion of Earth's oceans by a race of alien cephalopods. (Or at least the organic weapons they deploy are somewhat squid-like; it's never revealed what the actual aliens look like..)
  • Victor Hugo's novel The Workers of the Sea depicts at one point a fight between a sailor and a huge octopus.
    ''A greyish form drifts in the water; big as an arm and half a yard long; it's a rag; this form looks like a closed umbrella without a handle. This rag slowly moves towards you. Suddenly it opens, eight spokes swiftly spread around a two-eyed face; these spokes are alive; there is flamboyance in their dance; it's a wheel of sorts; opened up, it is four or five feet in diameter. Frightening blossom. This thing throws itself at you. The hydra harpoons the man.
This beast crawls over its prey, covers it, ties it in its long coils. Below it is yellowish, above it is dirt-toned; nothing could adequately express this eerie dusty shade; it seems a beast made of ashes that would live in water. It is spiderlike in its shape and chameleon in its coloration. Angry, it turns purple. Horrifyingly, it is soft. Its knots strangle; its contact paralyzes. It evokes scurvy and gangrene; it's a disease made monstrous flesh.''
  • Ian Fleming's Dr. No has a giant octopus at the end of the obstacle course that the eponymous villain puts James Bond through.
  • H. G. Wells' short story 'The Sea Raiders' is about some giant squid who migrate to the English coastline and start eating people. They can even walk about on the shore a bit. The evil aliens in The War of the Worlds are also distinctly squid-like.
  • The Martians in H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds are basically octopoids.
  • The Grim in Septimus Heap, which lives in the sewer pipes below the Port and which feeds upon animals falling in them. It's the initiation job (the Task) of Keeper Apprentices to cut one tentacle of off them without being eaten.
  • Not evil of themselves, but put to a nasty use: The murder weapons in The Night Season are blue-ringed octopuses, whose fatal poison has no antivenom.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • Daleks are pretty much brains with tentacles in personal tanks.
    • In Spearhead from Space the Nestenes create "a life-form perfectly adapted for survival and conquest on this planet"; it's basically an enormous squid.
    • The Power of Kroll has a squid with sixty tentacles, some of them half a mile long, all because it had eaten a Cosmic Keystone.
  • The Bane from the Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures are really squiddy things.
  • The sex education video in Hyperdrive shows (fortunately not to the audience) the dangers of Interspecies Romance with such creatures.
    "This crewmember had intercourse with a Glygonthian octopoid. Let's take a close look at his genitals. Pustules have developed, and on the pustules: warts. Soon, his entire groin explodes, leaving five baby octopoids, each with his face. Remember, Alien Sex is Danger Sex."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Kraken from the northern legends, though in the first incarnations it was more like a Turtle Island thing.
  • The Oodako (great octopus) is the protagonist of a sad Japanese legend where he forces a girl to marry him.
  • In the Hawaiian myth of Creation, the sun was imprisoned in the ocean by a gargantuan octopus, who was slain by a god.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons loves this trope.
    • The most popular example are the Illithids, also known as Mind Flayers. They are mostly similar to skinny grey humans but with heads that look like an octopus with four tentacles, which they use to get hold of their victims' heads and eat their brains. They are also parasitic creatures that reproduce by implanting their tadpoles into the brains of humanoids, where they slowly feed on the victim's flesh and grow around its skeleton, eventually completely absorbing and replacing the host. Any humanoids that don't get their brains eaten or have embryos implanted in their heads are used as slave labor.
    • And a more straight example would be the Krakens, a race of massive intelligent giant squids. That are also often wizards. They too like to enslave humanoids when they have the opportunity.
    • D&D also has the Aboleths, sort of giant half-fish/half-cephalopod things, with three eyes and psychic powers. Like Illithids and Kraken, they too enjoy enslaving humanoids.
  • The Old World of Darkness had a cephalopod race called the Chulorviah, who could parasitize humans and had plans for world domination.

    Video Games 
  • The Ceph from Crysis are as evil as these things come, waking up from their million-year hibernation to destroy humanity and take over the planet. They deploy terrible Freeze Rays and horrific flesh-melting bioweapons against population centers (such as New York) before invading and fucking the place up with their litho-ships.
  • King Kaliente from Super Mario Galaxy is also of the evil cephalopod bunch. Though like most Mario enemies he's also pretty comical.
  • Quest for Glory IV has cephalopod imagery all over to represent the Dark One, possibly a reference to Lovecraft or Czernobog of Russian mythology. There are also "hexapods", six-legged monsters that guard the monastery.
  • Mass Effect brings us the Reapers. An entire race of horrifically powerful squid-shaped starships bent on perpetuating a cycle of extinction on the entire galaxy every 50,000 years, as they have for at least the past 37 million years. And that's 740 cycles!
    • Some theories suggests that they might have been doing this for a billion years. And that's 20,000 cycles!
    • They're shaped like cuttlefish because they were created by the Leviathans, who are giant aquatic beings, and they remade themselves in the image of their creators once they Turned Against Their Masters and started killing everything.
  • As well as the Watcher from the book, The Lord of the Rings Online has a giant tentacled terror in the sewers of Carn Dum.
  • Some of Ecco the Dolphin 's more random enemies include giant octopodes called Eight-Arms. The Prehistoria levels have plenty of pointy ammonites, too.
  • The first boss of Ratchet and Clank 2 is a huge swamp-octopus thing. Its big brother also acts as a hidden boss.
  • Squiddicus from Donkey Kong Country Returns is a gigantic octopus that spends most of his time attacking ships in the background, but in a few levels he'll attack Donkey and Diddy, smashing platforms and swiping with his tentacles. And he's covered with small spikes, making him invulnerable.
  • Ozumat, the fiend from below, a massive spawn of the Old Gods who seeks to aid the naga and faceless with their campaign in Vashj'ir in World of Warcraft. He's also the bastard who sinks your ship at the start of the zone. Suffice to say, killing him feels good.
  • The giant octopus boss of Quaria in Bug!!, which stays in the background, grabs fish with its tentacles, and throws them at you. You counter by whacking them back at his head, after which he will come up close and personal, using his tentacles to hurt Bug directly.
  • The Mega Man X series have Launch Octopus and Squid Adler/Bolt Kraken. Though they are anything but squishy- the former launches homing missiles and can drain X's life, while the latter makes liberal use of Shock and Awe.
    • Sequel franchise Mega Man Zero brings us the cryokinetic Tech Kraken, who attempts to cause an earthquake by drilling a suicide submarine into the ocean floor.
  • The Xarquids from X-COM: Terror From the Deep. Essentially, they're Nautiloids fed on a diet of alien steroids and have a sonic beam shoved up they're tentacles. And they swim backwards.
  • Gohma Lashers from Asura's Wrath, designed to look like a combination of Octopuses and Shelled Cephalopods. They take this to an extreme, being an entire mile or more in length from the top of the head to the end of it's tentacle.
  • The second The Dishwasher game has Squidface, a katana-wielding sword master with an octopus for a head.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn has Capamari, the boss of Water World. During the first phase of his battle, he appears to be a squid until you unravel the knitted cap he's wearing, revealing him to be an octopus and triggering the second phase.
  • Malamar from Pokémon X and Y. Malicious-looking Dark/Psychic humanoid squids that are the Pokemon's equivalent of Mind Flayers. They can hypnotize others into doing their bidding, and it doesn't help that they are used by trainers for nefarious purposes. Its pre-evolved form Inkay is more timid and less overtly malicious, but it's still a Dark-type.
  • Some characters in The Secret World believe that the Dreamers are extra-dimensional cephalopods.
  • The single-player story mode of Splatoon features the octopus-based Octarians, who fought the Inklings in a previous war and have seemingly returned for revenge. It turns out their habitats were falling apart and running out of power, and they stole the Great Zapfish to try to fix it.
  • The Kraken of Evolve invokes this. Its mouth is a series of fangs set in the midst of some tentacles, it had tentacles growing out of its back and head, and its 'wings' are essentially tentacles on the ends on normal limbs.

    Western Animation 
  • In the pilot episode of Justice League, something called "Imperium" appeared, a big, night-loving blob with tentacles.
  • In Chaotic, the M'arrillian Tribe is hostile sea food at the lower-rungs, but the higher rungs, like Chieftains and Aa'une himself, are mostly eyes and slimy tentacles that don't look like anything. Aa'une's One-Winged Angel form with multiple mouths and a dozen tentacles now makes him by far the ugliest creature in the entire series.

Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • April 16, 2013
    These sport Combat Tentacles by default.
  • April 17, 2013
    I unspoilered The Dunwich Horror entry. The story came out in 1929 and falls under our Handling Spoilers Statute of Limitations policy.
  • April 17, 2013
    Add a description... is this just "things with tentacles that normally don't"? If so, it's probably not a trope. If it's meant to indicate otherworldliness and terror (which I assume it is), that should be mentioned in the description and the examples need more context.

    Also, I'm yanking the second Naruto example since that's just... a giant squid.
  • April 17, 2013
    The latter. 'Unnatural horrors have tentacles', basically.

    (Also, oops. I was copying the current example list from misuse on Everythings Squishier With Cephalopods and missed that that example was separate.)
  • April 19, 2013
    It's a good idea to siphon some examples from Eldritch Abomination. Because tropers tend to slap "Eldritch Abomination" on everything unnatural and tentacled, regardless of whether it is outside the entire set of natural laws or not. Take, for examples, the Seekers from TES 5: Dragonborn. They are not Eldritch Abominations, because they are, in fact, Daedra, belonging to a class of entities with an estabilished place in the TE Sverse, the same sort of beings as scamps and clannfears. But they are indeed Tentacled Terrors.
  • April 20, 2013
    Yes, definitely - that was part of the inspiration for this. (It doesn't help that HP Lovecraft is considered synonymous with both Tentacled Terror and Cosmic Horror Story, and everyone seems to have such a vague idea of 'cosmic horror' that any Cosmic Horror Story must contain an Eldritch Abomination! Gah.)

    I haven't gotten around to mining the Eldritch Abomination pages for examples yet, though, because I've been busy with the YKTTWs for Monstrous Humanoid and Surreal Symbolic Heads. If you want to get started on that, it would help a lot!
  • April 21, 2013

    ...anyone there?
  • April 22, 2013
    John Carpenter's The Thing?
  • April 22, 2013
    ^ I'd say The Thing counts. One example was when the dog!Thing was attacking the other dogs.

    • The Fellowship of the Ring. The Watcher in the Water in the pool outside the gate to Moria, which sent out its tentacles to grab the members of the Fellowship.
    Gandalf: Something has crept, or has been driven out of dark waters under the mountains. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
  • April 22, 2013
    • The Colmillos enemies in Resident Evil 4 seem to be relatively normal wolves... until they spout several Combat Tentacles from their back which they use to stab Leon repeatedly.
  • April 22, 2013
    Becoming a Tentacled Terror may be a Lovecraftian Superpower.
  • April 22, 2013
    The Simpsons: Kang, Kodos, and the other Rigellian aliens which show up in Tree House Of Horror episodes are giant eyeballs with a mouth and tentacles which are used for locomotion.
  • April 22, 2013
    The Thing definitely counts. I'll also add the other examples in a bit.

    Mined from Eldritch Abomination so far:

    • In the pilot episode of Justice League, something called "Imperium" appeared, a big, night-loving blob with tentacles.
    • In Chaotic, the M'arrillian Tribe is hostile sea food at the lower-rungs, but the higher rungs, like Chieftains and Aa'une himself, are mostly eyes and slimy tentacles that don't look like anything. Aa'une's One Winged Angel form with multiple mouths and a dozen tentacles now makes him by far the ugliest creature in the entire series.
    • SCP Foundation:

  • April 23, 2013
    Tabletop Games
    • Stormbringer supplement Stormbringer Companion. The kyrenee is a huge cloud-like monster with long tentacles covered by a lethal acidic poison.
    • Call Of Cthulhu campaign Shadows of Yog Sothoth. If the Investigators haven't disarmed the Watchers on Easter Island, they will be attacked by the Messenger of the Gods while on the way to R'lyeh. The Messenger is a large amorphous mass that drops tentacles to attack victims below it.
  • May 3, 2013
    Grr and LOL - I was copying more examples here from cleaning the Eldritch Abomination pages, but they were lost because the reply mechanism couldn't handle so much text. XD I'll have to go through the page histories and find them again...
  • May 13, 2016
    Since it seems the OP has forgotten about this one, I'll take up sponsorship.
  • May 14, 2016
  • May 14, 2016
    Warcraft III: The Faceless Ones are humanoid giants that live underground and have tentacles sprouting from their face and shoulders. Even Anub'arak (the reanimated husk of a giant bug) is unnerved by them.
  • May 14, 2016
    The Rathtaurs of The Force Awakens have tentacles, not that they really need them considering as they also have More Teeth Than The Osmond Family.
  • May 14, 2016
    Web Comics
  • May 14, 2016
    Film Animated or Western Animation
    • Sinbad Legend Of The Seven Seas has the goddess of discord loose Cetus the sea monster upon the frigate of deuteragonist Proteus. Cetus is huge, vicious and has both tentacles as its limbs and lesser tentacles around its head, including a cluster of tentacles in place of mandibles.
  • May 14, 2016
    In anime, tentacled monster means fanservice. :P
  • June 24, 2016
    Maybe there's something... weird with long limbs that wiggle about wildly, which makes anyone who has them freaky.
  • June 24, 2016
    Do Cthulhumanoid characters count? In that case:
  • June 24, 2016
    • One of the most horrific outsiders of Pathfinder are the qlippoth, the Always Chaotic Evil denizens of the Abyss who predate demonkind. Most resemble tentacled insects of monstrous size, but the least of their kind, the Cythnigot, infect mortal life as a disease. Humans, horses, pigs and any other form of life under the sun can be infected, and the most obvious symptom is the spontaneous growth of writhing, attacking tentacles, which cause struck creatures to grow more tentacles, which then continue attacking.
  • August 4, 2016
    Tentacles Are Scary as the new title? I think it clarifies the meaning of the trope beyond "examples of things with tentacles that don't go in under tropes".
  • August 4, 2016
    ^ that or Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles

    And some examples here are actual octopus/squid. This trope doesn't count them, right?

    • Na Ruto: Gyuki, the 8-tailed Beast has a humanoid body, an ox head, and lower body consisting of 8 tentacles. Like other Tailed Beasts, he's a Humanoid Abomination who has a lot of strength and chakra. Somewhat subverted however in that he's rather friendly towards his Jinchuuriki, Killer B.
  • August 5, 2016
    ^^ Tentacles Are Terrifying, for alliteration's sake?
  • August 9, 2016
    ^^ There is an ongoing cleanup effort on Garnishing The Story-type tropes.

    ^ That could work.
  • August 9, 2016
    Since there's another trope in progress that focuses on evil cephalopods, maybe this one should focus on non-cephalopod creatures that are given tentacles to make them look more horrifying?
  • August 9, 2016
    ^ indeed, that's why I said this trope shouldn't have actual octopus/squid.

    And my example counts, right?
  • September 5, 2016
  • September 5, 2016
  • September 5, 2016
    New title proposal, based on similar trope proposal: Enemy Anemone
  • September 6, 2016
    ^ might be confused with actual anemones.

    Title should be Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles
  • September 6, 2016
    ^ Yeah, ok.