Animalistic Abomination

"This was no chicken, it was evil manifest."
Kahlan Amnell (on the Chimes of Death), The Sword of Truth: Soul of the Fire

It's big, powerful and nasty. It's not humanoid, but familiar all the same.

This trope is for Eldritch Abominations that either naturally resemble (somewhat) ordinary animals, or else possess Animorphism and spend a good deal of time in the animal form.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Arts 
  • This article from Bogleech point out that dragons were depicted with this trope until very recently.
  • To say nothing of the original unicorn (WARNING: Potential Nightmare Fuel)
  • Many paintings by Salvador Dali are famous for depicting horses, elephants and similar animals with spindly, enormous legs and other nightmarish features.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Thing, the monster spends most of its time as an Alaskan pack dog. You catch a glimpse of what it really is, before it proceeds to eat all the other dogs. It also appears very much like a spider/insect-like organism in the prequel and in Carpenter's movie it still retains arthropod features like random insect legs. More horrifyingly, in the novel that inspired all of this, it is also heavily implied it assimilated an albatross, so it can now fly. That said, there's no way of knowing what it really looks like, if it even has a "true" form at all, rather than being purely amorphous.
  • King Ghidorah, archenemy of Godzilla is what happens when the villain of a Cosmic Horror Story comes in the form of a giant golden dragon with three heads and a penchant for exterminating entire planets.
  • The eponymous monster from Lair Of The White Worm is a giant snake-like dragon (the word "worm" meant dragon originally) and is worshipped by a race of reptilian vampires.

    Gamebooks 
  • Many monsters in Lone Wolf would fit this. Most notable is Demonlord Tagazin, who appears as a huge sabertoothed jackal.

    Literature 
  • Mogget and the Disreputable Dog from the Old Kingdom trilogy. Respectively, Yrael and Kibeth the Bright Shiners.
  • Clark Ashton Smith's "The Seven Geases". The Cthulhu Mythos deity Atlach-Nacha resembles a huge, hairy and hideous black spider. From the same author, we also have Tsathogghua and its extended family, who tend to have batrachian looks.
  • From Sword of Truth, the Chimes of Death, for whatever reason, take the forms of chickens.
  • In The Silmarillion Ungoliant is equal parts Giant Spider, Mother of a Thousand Young, and Eldritch Abomination of eternal hunger and an Unlight darker than total darkness. Same goes for her daughter, Shelob. In the Trope Pantheon, she's the goddess of this trope.
  • It's second-to-final form is a spider. This is only because the spider is the closest humans can come to comprehending the Deadlights — its true form — and stay sane.
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: One possibility behind the Cheshire Cat's reality-warping abilities, and the fact that he seems to have powers that other Wonderlanders don't. He's a more benevolent example, though. Just don't ask him for directions.
  • The Inheritance Cycle has Shruikan, Galbatorix's dragon who has grown to immense proportions and power through dark magic. When he flies overhead before the final battle, he blots out a large portion of the sky. And he's an Omnicidal Maniac and a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • The Last Unicorn: The Red Bull is older than the Unicorns, isn't confined to a set shape or size, and is utterly indestructible and its origins are completely unknown. Its only weaknesses (so to speak) are a mild aversion to sunlight and that it's bound to serve anyone who is utterly without fear. It seems, however, that if the opponent is strong enough to oppose it successfully, it will instead retreat. Though few ever do.
  • Ahab certainly believes Moby-Dick to be more than a mere sperm whale, so much so that he believes by killing the White Whale, he will have imposed his own will over the universe.
  • In Neverwhere the Beast of London is believed to have started life as a runaway pig from a butcher; centuries of feeding on sewage and its own vileness has made it much, much more than that.
  • Thunderclasts (giant dog-shaped monsters of living stone) and Midnight Essence (animated smoke contained within a skin vaguely like that of a weasel) in The Stormlight Archive: Also possibly the chasmfiends, enormous creatures like carnivorous lobsters the size of a largish apartment building. They are natural creatures (aside from having to use a bit of magic to get around the Square/Cube Law), but still nasty and scary.
  • Dragons from A Song of Ice and Fire. No, really: particularly if you go with the "fire made flesh" idea that has been posited in-world. These dragons can feed on human breast milk. They need to eat cooked meat rather than raw (it's not just a preference). They have a protracted "childhood" in that, well, they never really stop growing or developing unless imprisoned. And, if you step back and don't charge in like Leeroy Jenkins on a bender, can actually be understood, be trained and bond with (preferred) humans far better than you'd expect for creatures that look so magical and reptilian. In short: their psychology isn't an exact match... But, it's far closer to "social ape" than you'd assume at first glance. Lost Targaryen lore might just have boiled down to a good book on how not to screw up around dragons (also, how to fit them on a naughty step, time your bribery and incubate their eggs properly), rather than anything particularly esoteric. Minus the mystic bonfire with blood-sacrifice and death aspects involved in egg-hatching or the whole "blood of about the temperature of molten copper" kind of things, of course.
  • The titular "Sun Dog" from Stephen King's Four Past Midnight is closer to this than a dog. A Magic Camera will produce pictures only of the dog, and each one is slightly different. It becomes clear that they form a sequence; the characters can flip through them like a flipbook and watch the dog move, and they can even be transferred onto film to create a short movie. Either the dog or the camera is able to exercise More Than Mind Control to trick users into taking more and more pictures, and the more pictures that are taken, the closer the dog comes to escaping... and the less like a common dog and more like this trope it becomes.
  • The main characters of Dean Koontz's The Taking encounter several monsters that look like various types of animals, but the only one that actively threatens them is a giant insectoid horror lurking in a church basement.

    Myths & Religion 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Shadowrun has a lot of these in the form of magical beings like the totem Spider which plots world domination and manifests as a huge spider in astral space, and the Sega Genesis game has Thorn, a dog or coyote-like malevolent spirit.
  • RuneQuest. In the Glorantha campaign setting one major empire has an enslaved Chaos god/demon/thingy called the Crimson Bat, which looks something like a giant bat.
  • Two of the Elder Evils from Forgotten Realms—Dendar the Night Serpent and Kezef the Chaos Hound (based on the Midgard Serpent and Fenris Wolf from Norse Mythology).
  • Pathfinder's Rovagug bears more than a slight resemblance to a centipede, albeit one large enough to undo creation.
  • Many behemoths in Exalted resemble gigantic monstrous versions of animals, which are implied to have come first; there are references to "animals and the behemoths they were based off of".
    • Most of the Yozis resemble gigantic environments with many also having forms that resemble strange and transcendent humans, but Isidoros usually has the form of a monstrous black boar with innumerable tusks, great many-lobed eyes and thick barbed hairs, so large that his hoof prints are canyons and his back brushed against the sun, moon and stars.
    • This is also a possible fate for chimeric Lunar Exalted.
  • Phyrexia has strange ideas about what constitutes a creature, Green-aligned New Phyrexia in particular. As a matter of habit, Phyrexia swaps and recycles body parts between organisms, living or dead, organic or otherwise, with little regard for whether or not what they're making actually needs those parts. For example, the Rot Wolf; if you look closely, you can see that it does not contain any actual wolf.
  • The Amkhata from Mummy: The Curse are what happened when somebody rather broken decides to make an undead servitor from the bodies of several animals, usually ones sacred to the lost empire of Irem. What they get is a chimeric monstrosity that can exist in and out of reality and endlessly hunts for Sekhem, the very energy that powers mummies.
  • Some of the Mysteries in Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine manifest in animalistic forms, most notably Typhon (a giant snake, not related to Chuubo) and Hedge the Fang (an eyeless, skinless cat). There are also the horses of the Riders, whose nature is unclear.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse says that, back in the old days, Banes would possess animals to create bestial fomori to serve as siege engines; this is where legends like the manticore came from. In the modern days, however, human fomori tend to be less conspicuous.

    Video Games 
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Witherfang, the giant wolf commanding a tribe of werewolves, is presented to you as one of these at first. It turns out, however, that it is merely a wolf body possessed by the spirit of the forest it lives in—and one of the most human characters in the entire game.
    • The Old Gods of the Tevinter Imperium count as these, especially after being transformed into Archdemons by the Taint. The Old Gods supposedly taught the Tevinter Magisters the secrets of Blood Magic, and making offerings at the altars of the supposedly long-dead ones still rewards worshippers with gifts of power. While the Archdemons look like a mix of Darkspawn and Dragon, they are something else entirely. This is why weapons that do extra damage to Darkspawn/Dragons are not especially effective against the Archdemon in the first game.
  • The Beast in chapter one of The Witcher is a huge dog-shaped manifestation of the collective sins of an entire village, materialized to haunt and terrorize them.
  • A lot of the monsters from Silent Hill resemble animals. Dogs, cats, bird-bat things, roaches, and a crocodile have all been demonstrated.
  • Spiders must be popular. Asura's Wrath gives us the Golden Spider, who's actually Chakravartin in disguise.
    • From the same game, the Gohma also qualify. They resemble demonic versions of various animals with black skin and massive red veins all over their bodies and the smallest and weakest one of them is a gorilla.
  • The Liir of Sword of the Stars resemble dolphins or whales with a number of features from other sea creatures (fur, tentacles, negligible senescence...) and Psychic Powers, but most of them are simply Starfish Aliens. The Suul'ka, on the other hand are bigger than most starships, feed on the life-forces of planets, are summoned from the black depths of space where they slumber by mass sacrifices, and have a method of "teaching" their followers via direct telepathic contact that is almost always fatal for the follower. They're actually incredibly ancient Liir gone mad with power who've decided to take the Galactic Conqueror route.
  • From The Legend of Zelda: A lot of the bosses are grotesque animal-like monstrosities created or warped by dark magic.
  • Many of the later legendary Pokémon, especially Dialga, Palkia, Giratina (who personify time, space and anti-matter) and Reshiram, Zekrom and Kyurem (who were once a single dragon who may or may not have come from space).
    • Mewtwo could also count, even though he's a bit more human-shaped than the dragons.
    • Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza started the trend. Mewtwo was astoundingly powerful and dangerous, but was of entirely artificial origin, while Ho-Oh and Lugia were, again, monstrously powerful, but while the former possesses abilities that certainly approached demigod territory, the latter was mostly just an exceedingly strong monster who stayed away from humanity. Groudon and Kyogre, on the other hand, are astoundingly old, slumber in places well beyond the reach of man, and can literally shape the world with their powers, and awakening them constitutes an apocalyptic event that could quite possibly wipe out all life on the planet. Rayquaza, meanwhile, is their mediator, which is to say that when those two have their squabbles, it swoops in to break it up and keep the planet from being flooded or reduced to a barren rock, and while it doesn't have the Walking Wasteland attributes of the other two, it's still frighteningly powerful and beyond the reach of man.
    • Xerneas, Yveltal and Zygarde from Pokémon X and Y are similar to Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza in that they also slumber and their awakening changes things in the world. However, Xerneas is a far more benevolent example then other examples listed here, although its appearance and powers are certainly "Eldritch".
  • The patron abomination of The Church of A'zqr, the Eternal Bleeding Jackal Skull as seen in one of the Parody Commercials in the Facebook version of You Don't Know Jack.
  • In Deadly Premonition, according to Word of God Willie the Dalmatian is an entity of the Red Room much like Forrest Kaysen.
  • In Kingdom Hearts lore, all beings whose hearts become tainted with the power of Darkness become Heartless monsters. Most Heartless are mindless beasts with no resemblance to their original self. Very rarely, a Heartless will retain its original form and mind. The two canon examples of this are the human Big Bad Xehanort... and, for some unknown reason, the lion Scar.
  • The Alpaca in Alpaca Evolution becomes increasingly Lovecraftian as it assimilates other alpacas, angels, and even God.
  • The animatronics in Five Nights at Freddy's, especially Golden Freddy, who might or might not actually be real. The sequel implies that Golden Freddy is, or was, real. They are robot animal mascots that are heavily implied to be possessed by the souls of murdered children. Golden Freddy, as well as the "shadow" enemies in the sequel are able to suddenly appear from nowhere, and fade away like ghosts, and can cause the game to crash, making it unclear if they are hallucinations, ghosts that look like the other animal robots, or are real robots like the others that have gained strange powers due to being possessed that the others didn't. The regular robots animals in the game have other strange behavior. Like the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who, most of them never or rarely move when you are watching themnote  until they actually reach you, as though they always know when you can see them regardless of if you are watching then in person or through the camera.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has Barbas, who looks like a big friendly dog. He also happens to be an aspect of the Daedra Prince Clavicus Vile.
  • Tangerine Tycoon has the "Tangerine Cat", which is a science-defying breed of black cat that spontaneously generates tangerines from thin air. Apparently, they don't sleep and are Uncanny Valley, according to the Thought Box.
  • While most of the demons in classic Doom, Doom 2, and Doom 3 are either humanoid or more abstract in form, the Guardian of Hell is outright reptilian in appearance. Word of God (The Making of Doom 3) has it that the idea behind its appearance was essentially a dinosaur's concept of what a demon would look like.
  • Fallen London: The Starveling Cat. It's practically Horror Hunger incarnate, it can and will rip off your hand effortlessly if you try to pet it, and while most of its more horrific moments are Played for Laughs, if you start seeking a certain being's name, you'll find the damn thing is connected to one of the most nightmarish entities in the Neath, and even takes some traits from it.

    Web Comics 
  • Questionable Content has Randy the Bandicoot. He is eternal.
  • Becquerel and the G-Cat from Homestuck are First Guardians, giving them Reality Warper powers. Justified: They have the First Guardian genetic code, but were otherwise cloned from ordinary Earth animals. Trolls with the power to psychically command wild animals can use it on Bec and G-Cat.
  • Two Masters: The Master of Heaven, Yehveh. It's a Shining Noble Bird Of Prey, and a god In-Universe. [1] It also takes the form of a lady when... moving... [2]
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court Coyote, pictured above, may or may not possess a true form; when viewed in the Ether, he's an amazing technicolor mass of teeth, eyes and star-filled tendrils. According to him, he used to be an ordinary coyote before a delirious dying human saw him as a deity. Since (again, according to him) human belief can manipulate the ether, Coyote then became a deity for real.
  • Nature of Nature's Art has a rather trippy example suggested at the end of the Lycosa storyline. Gladicosa posits that Lycosa herself isn't a real spider, but an entity formed from the abandoned individuality of the members of Venom 8 as they formed their hive mind as the prototype for their information network and their abandoned maternal instincts as they surrendered their egg sacs to create the real thing.

    Web Original 
  • We Are All Pokémon Trainers has ♨č▒⢫╠␣☣ł₤舸▟, or the Glitch Nidorino, a representation of the fear of death that merely takes the appearance of the first being it encounters in the material world, in this case being Vinollo the Nidorino. Luckily unlike most other Glitches it's friendly if its mission isn't to beat the fear of death into you.
  • There Will Be Brawl: The final form of the not-of-this-earth Mr. Game and Watch is an octopus.
  • The SCP Foundation has contained a number of these, some of the most notable being SCP-1055, SCP-682, SCP-334 and SCP-953. Almost everything with the "animal" tag qualifies as one of these.
  • Whateley Universe: way too many of the animal-like things in "Tennyo Goes to Hell", given where the story takes place.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a couple of the spirits, including Koh, a giant centipede with a face that can change from human to animal to just about anything. And Wan Shi Tong, a giant owl with an extendable neck.
  • The Legend of Korra continues this trend with the spirits of light and dark, Raava and Vaatu, which resemble gigantic flatworms.
  • In Adventure Time it's eventually revealed that Jake the Dog is essentially this. He was born from a shapeshifting alien giving his father Joshua a Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong, which is why he has shapeshifting/sizeshifting powers.