- Type 1: Only the limb/tentacle is shown and interacted with, but the rest of the body remains a total mystery.
- Type 2: While the whole creature is shown later (thus killing the suspense part), its appendages are shown before and moving independently on their own, as if they were a different monster altogether.
Type 1 Examples:
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- A Farmers insurance commercial shows various property being threatened or destroyed in bizarre ways, including a brand-new minivan being crushed by a gigantic furry paw.
- The cover for a Dylan Dog/Martin Mystere crossover features our heroes ensnared by the tentacles of an unseen monster/machine.
- The Lure in the Greyshirt mini-series: a spinoff from Tomorrow Stories.
- In a Swamp Thing tie in to Crisis on Infinite Earths, a group of the DC's most powerful magic users, including the god like Spectre, do battle with the Original Darkness, a vast, alien being that existed before the universe. They all fail to impede it, and they eventually make a horrifying discovery: they haven't been fighting the Darkness. They've been fighting it's thumb.
Films — Animation
- In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar When Jafar brings Abis Mal to the bottom of the ocean (It Makes Sense in Context) he's almost instantly snatched by a large tentacle.
- Bambi Meets Godzilla: Bambi meets one of Godzilla's feet, the only part of Godzilla we get to see.
Films — Live-Action
- Conan the Barbarian (2011) has said barbarian fighting the tentacles of an unseen Eldritch Abomination
- The 2007 film of The Mist contains a scene in which a single large tentacle attacks several people in the loading dock of a grocery store. In the end they see a huge four-legged monster sporting a bunch of these tentacles all over his belly/downside area. Note that these two weren't linked in the book, which had the tentacles but in the end only a monster so large, the mist prevented them from seeing the legs end.
- In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, eventually we see the whole Kraken, but most of the time it's just tentacles rising from the water. A half-version is used in the first film, where a normal-sized appendage (an arm) gets removed from its owner and proceeds to attack Governor Swan on its own.
- In The Cabin in the Woods, writhing branches reaching out of an elevator is all that's seen of the Evil Molesting Tree. The final shot of the film shows a monstrous arm reaching out of the ground, which is all that's shown of the Ancient Ones that are rising to wipe out humanity.
- Star Wars has done this a few times.
- In A New Hope, there's the garbage monster, the Dianoga. We only ever see one of its eyestalks pope out of the rubbish, and then one of its tentacles, the latter of which grabs Luke and drags him underneath the surface. Shown in the EU to be a squid-like monstrous alien octopus.
- In Return of the Jedi, when Threepio is being led down into the dungeon, something's tentacle emerges from a cell and grabs his neck. One of the Gamorrean guards escorting him beats the thing back. Return of the Jedi also features the Sarlacc, which is only ever seen as a giant, tentacle-filled mouth (and in the Special Edition an inner mouth with a beak) that grab victims and drag them down into the mouth to eat.
- The Reveal of "Under the Pyramids" by H.P. Lovecraft is that the five-headed creature that the narrator sees crawling out of the abyss (and which is implied to be the inspiration for the Sphinx) is merely the forepaw of some vastly larger Eldritch Abomination.
- Stephen King's The Mist: Some of the men decide to go outside to try to fix the generator. As soon as the door opens, a very much one-sided fight ensues with several tentacles before they snatch their prey and sink back into the mist. Also at the end of the book the survivors encounters a giant animal so big that only his legs are visible in the mist.
- The Swamp Monster from The Sword of Shannara. Unlike other examples what seems to be his body does surface, but we never get a good look or description.
- The Lord of the Rings has the Watcher in the Water, of which only tentacles are ever seen. Gandalf and Frodo aren't even sure whether it's one creature or several. (The trope is averted in Peter Jackson's film adaptation, where we see more of the creature.)
- One of the Choose Your Own Adventure books features a heated battle against a giant land-dwelling tentacle initially disguised as a barrow. In the middle of a monster-infested fortress. Even after its defeat you can't know what was that.
- Bel-Shamaroth from The Colour of Magic. While he's mentioned from the beginning, only his tentacles are shown, and about the rest of his body, we only see a glimpse of his gigantic eye.
- The My Teacher Is an Alien series introduces "Big Julie", a massive alien who fills an entire room. Opening the door will reveal nothing but a massive eyeball filling the whole door frame. However, Julie is able to maneuver to some degree, as it can turn around enough to put its mouth at the door instead, allowing it to be fed buckets of swamp water.
- Lone Wolf: One of the monsters found in Castle Death is a giant verrucose fist occupying most of the passageway, which crushes Tavig to death. The full monster is never seen.
- Tales from the Darkside: At the end of the episode "Seasons of Belief", two monstrous arms break through the windows of a room, killing a husband and wife in front of their two young children.
- Thing from The Addams Family. Averted in the films, where Thing is nothing but a disembodied hand and wrist.
- In the "Salvation Fuzz" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus (aka "Church Police" or "Bishop on the Landing") after the police pray for God to reveal the culprit, a giant hand comes down from on high to point to the culprit. Sometimes when they did the sketch during live shows the hand didn't point to the right person.
- Angel: "Supersymmetry" has a mass of tentacles that pops out of a portal and picks up Angel and Fred. We never see if it had a body, but each tentacle has its own pincer mouth on the end.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Multiple Head Case Hellmouth Demon seen in "Prophecy Girl" and "The Zeppo".
- In Tremors: The Series, only part of the giant shrimp-monster is ever seen above the water.
- Doctor Who:
- The first thing we ever saw of the creature inside a Dalek was its claw peeking out from under the cloak that it was wrapped in. In the TV episode, the claw was a gorilla glove with Vaseline smeared over it; in the later Peter Cushing movie, it was far more reptilian.
- For that matter, the first view of a Dalek ever was a POV shot of one's suction-cup arm ominously approaching a horror-stricken Barbara. Cue audiences frantically discussing what might be at the other end, until later scenes turned it into a Type 2 instead of Type 1.
- Ravenloft has the Eldritch Abomination Gwydion, who/which appears as a mass of tentacles emerging from a dimensional rift. Even Word of God has stated that what lies behind is a complete mystery.
- Dungeons & Dragons module G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King. If a certain specific ceremony is carried out near the altar of the Elder Elemental God, that deity will send one of its tentacles out of the altar to grab the closest living creature as a sacrifice.
- Call of Cthulhu's Dreamlands setting, adventure "Yellow Sails". When Mironim-Mer activates the Oracle Mirror, the wendigo demon possessing it sends out a tentacle to grab him.
- There's a few monsters in the Munchkin series like this, such as Squidzilla, the Unspeakably Awful Indescribable Horror, and the Big Ole Planet Eater Guy. Also "Big Foot" for the humanoid limbs variety.
- In Battle for Wesnoth there's a monster who's basically this: the tentacle of a larger, unseen underwater monster.
- In Warcraft III the Faceless Ones can summon huge, spiky tentacles at will from the ground. In World of Warcraft, they and their Old God masters continue this. The Old Gods are buried and of unknown size, so what tentacles are part of what creature, and what these creatures look like, are mostly unknown. Cataclysm adds massive mouth creatures that we never see all of.
- Legacy of Kain: Defiance has some spiky tentacles pop out of the ground in order to drag Raziel to the other world.
- In the Diablo II expansion Baal can summon a trio of tentacles to harass the player during the final battle.
- Dragon's Lair featured a room which is gradually filled by the green tentacles of a massive monster from upstairs. Also the "Eyeworms" in the moat behaves much like tentacles.
- In Rayman 2: The Great Escape there are some giant skeletal limbs in some level which will drag you inside their coffins.
- Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle actually have Green and Purple Tentacles as living, independent tentacle-people.
- One monster from Dragonquest VIII is a hand made of mud, said to belong to a larger mud monster who lives underground.
- The Echidna from Legendary: The Box appears as a massive green tentacle/s who appears three times during the game and tries to drag the hero underground, where it can devour him. Considering that the original Echidna was a Snake Woman that might be her tail.
- Dead Space has a a huge tentacle that pops out at least three times on the Ishimura and tries to drag Isaac towards a gruesome doom.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a hand reaching out from underneath a bathroom asks for your help. The owner of the hand is never seen.
- In the 1983 Dino Eggs game, if you didn't have a fire burning the dinosaur mom (whose eggs and hatchlings you were stealing) would try to stamp you flat with her leg. You only ever saw the leg, not the dinosaur mom herself. Watch it here.
- In God of War II and God of War III there are the Arms of Hades: a swarm of (left) hands coming out of the ground to pull Kratos into the depths of Hades.
- In Banjo-Tooie, there is a dinosaur in Terrydactlyland whose only visible portion is its foot, as it's too large to depict otherwise. It constantly tries to stomp you if you wander into its "Stomping Grounds."
- In Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance, there's a unidentified, huge green arm in a section of the castle. By pulling a lever you squeeze it under a giant spiked press and use the blood in order to reach the upper floor.
- The boss Balor in both Sorrow games is never seen in full; all we are ever shown is his face (because his trademark attack in myth is Eye Beams) and one giant hand.
- Monster Bash has the livid hands coming out of the walls in order to toss knives at the hero.
- The Kraken in Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict appears as long tentacles that move on their own.
- In Prince of Persia (2008), you fight the Final Boss Arhiman from his point of view, and you can only see his huge, dark hands.
- In the fan remake of King's Quest II if you choose the wrong books in Calduar's library, two green tentacles appear from the library and take you away with them to be eaten.
- "Reapervines" (and similar tentacles) in the Metroid Prime series are stated to be appendages of some larger creature, but said "larger creature" is never actually encountered.
- One of the obstacles in Half-Life is a mass of gigantic alien tentacles sticking out of a rocket silo. Your guns only slightly annoy whatever it is, so you will need a bigger weapon. like the rocket in the rocket silo.
- One of the high-level summoning spells in Dungeon Crawl opens a portal, out of which appears a multiple-space-long tentacle that attacks your enemies. After a time, the portal closes, severing the tentacle, which then turns on you until it dies a little while later.
- Ecco the Dolphin had type one in the first game. Some of them just slapped at you and drained your health as you went by, but others actually latched onto you and could drive you nuts trying to escape before you ran out of air (unless you'd found the secret debug menu and invincibility mode, in which case they just annoyed you until you either escaped or got bored and pulled the 'switch off immortality to die'option.)
- The second installment of Fatal Frame has ghosts that grip on the twins and attempt to drag them away. They mostly appear on the bridge that connects to the Kurosawa residence and, even though Mio can photograph them to make them go away, they only appear as hands phasing through the bridge. The first installment also had ghostly hands coming out of the floor, but they were extremely rare-to-see entities.
- In The Binding of Isaac, you never see the whole Mom Boss. Instead, you only see her legs, hands and eyes, And later inner organs and heart.
- Tales of Symphonia has Coffin Masters: little hooded guys that resemble Jawas from Star Wars with huge coffins on their backs. Whatever is inside is clearly way too big to fit in there and never steps out, but can do everything from kick with a cloven hoof, whip with it's lizard tail, and yank a party member inside to do God only knows what with it's huge arm.
- In the SNES game based off of The Pagemaster, the gigantic fist of Frankenstein's monster will emerge from holes in the wall to try and pound Kevin into oblivion. Only the big fist is ever seen, never the entire monster, and, judging by the hand's scale versus that of Kevin, the whole monster must be big enough to fight King Kong!
- From [PROTOTYPE] we have the Hydras, wich are enormous tentacles with giant jaws that they use to throw objects (Most commonly cars and trucks). Anything below the tentacle is a mystery, but there are hints they are somehow connected to Elizabeth Greene or at least the giant bloody entity she uses to fight against Blackwatch and Alex.
- In Space Quest II, if you get too close to the occupied prison cells on Vohaul's space station, the monster hands crush you.
- Resident Evil has vines of Plant 42 that emerge from the floor in the guest house. Similarly, in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, there are large tentacles in the Antarctic Base that are actually part of a T-Veronica mutated plant controlled by Alexia.
- The Order of the Stick: Vaarsuvius' "Evan's Spiked Tentacles of Forced Intrusion" spell.
- Both type I and II in the webcomic "Stand Still. Stay Silent". We see a tentacle breach the train, as well as act independently (Which is explained, as said tentacle has a working brain separate from the whole that needs killing), while it is guaranteed that there is a MUCH bigger variety of monster, complete with many more tentacles.
- "The thing with no name" that resides in a lake inside a cave where the Truffle Trolls live in The Smurfs episode "A Mere Truffle".
- Cecil from Beany and Cecil was never shown in full. This was justified when it was a puppet show, but it was kept when it became an animated show. Word of God is that Cecil's body was kept a mystery on purpose.
- Squid can shoot their two longest tentacles out a considerable distance from their bodies to grasp prey. Films of them grabbing bait from in front of underwater cameras often resemble this trope, particularly in murky water.
Type 2 Examples:
Anime and Manga
- In FLCL, the first enemy that Canti is seen fighting is pretty much just an arm, albeit a strong one. The next episode, we see the rest of the robot, using an undersized replacement arm.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Deep Rising: At first the monsters attacking the ship seem to be a patch of giant, carnivorous tube-worms. It's later revealed that they're just the tentacles of a colossal octopus monster.
- IIRC, in The Giant Claw, we only see fuzzy photographs and what turns out to be the monster's feet for a few scenes before seeing the full creature. The studio likely wanted to downplay the monster's appearance because it was so low-budget.
- The Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean. However in both cases after seeing his body he doesn't get much more action.
- Tremors: The first few times the Graboids attack, we just see their tentacles coming out from the ground and think the tentacles are separate snakelike creatures.
- In Tremors 5: Bloodlines, it turns out they are separate creatures, at least in the African Graboid species (it's never explained why they were tentacles before and now they're not).
- In Alien from the Abyss, the main creature (which the back of the DVD cover nicknames "The Big Claw") isn't seen until the very end of the film. Until then, it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a really, really big black crablike claw that randomly emerges from various places (usually from underground) to grab and snap at people.
- In Island of Terror, our first glimpse of the Silicates are their tentacles. We don't see a full Silicate until after it's already appeared as a grasping tentacle from offscreen twice.
- The Wampa in The Empire Strikes Back. In both versions of the film, it's glimpsed first as a suddenly appearing, roaring face with a mouth full of teeth, and then a big ol' arm that attacks Luke and then his Tauntaun. We later do see the full creature very briefly. The Special Edition shows more of the Wampa in its cave, as opposed to one decent glimpse the original version gave.
In a deleted subplot that involved a Wampa running loose inside Echo Base before the Rebels managed to trap it in a side room, there's a literal interpretation of the trope name in the form of a Call Back or Brick Joke (whichever you prefer), when some intruding Snowtroopers get tricked into going and opening the door. The Wampa's arm shoots out, grabs one (who we'll call Private Wilhelm), and drags him in, whereupon Private Wilhelm's companions quickly close the door, looking as confused as Faceless Mooks can look.
- In Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, after Nancy grows all that it shown is her huge hand inside her bedroom. She is only seen in full after she breaks out to look for her husband, ten minutes before the end.
- Visser Three had a couple of tentacled morphs in Animorphs.
- Video Game/Transistor: The Spine, which makes its first appearances with it's stinger tail, before fighting it directly.
- The Kraken from Shining Series as it appears in Shining Force II.
- In Donkey Kong Country Returns, one level features a gigantic octopus first witnessed destroying a large ship in the background, which then uses its tentacles to destroy various platforms floating in the sea as the player jumps across. Later in the level it appears up close, wrapping its tentacles around walls to obstruct the player's movements.
- In Drakensang 2: The River of Time one of the bosses is a Newt Kraken (a river-infesting giant squid if you're curious). While both his tentacles and his main body are seen onscreen, you can only fight the tentacles to damage him, as his body is too far away.
- In American McGee's Alice one of the first thing you notice in the now Eldritch Wonderland are large, fleshy tentacles in some areas. When you fight the Queen of Hearts is revealed that all those tentacles belongs to her.
- In a video game based on The Fellowship of The Ring's book you get to fight the Watcher in the Water. While his large clawed tentacles slams on you, his moray eel-like main body is completely harmless through the battle.
- Sin, the giant monster from Final Fantasy X, is so huge it cannot be seen well at first and you can fight only parts of it, such as its fin. You only get to see it properly when you get the airship. Note that even after that, you get to effectively fight more of its parts when you get *inside* of it!
- In God of War III you have to fight back several large water creatures known as Hippocampi. Later you find that that said Hippocampi are actually the tentacles of Poseidon's war form.
- The Kraken (again) from Tomb Raider: Underworld.
- In House of the Dead 3 you face several tentacles in one level, later revealed to be part of the Sun boss.
- In Super Mario RPG there is an underwater level where you fight tentacles, after defeating them you go on to fight a squid and its last remaining tentacles
- The Great Mighty Poo from Conker's Bad Fur Day.
- Before you fight the Medusa-Kraken-hybrid-like Tentalus in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, its tentacles attack the ship you're on, bursting through walls and such. Then you see Tentalus itself.
- Before fighting Scylla in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, you first fight one of her snake-tentacles in a seperate boss room.
- SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm, Bikini Bottom is threatened by Alaskan Bullworm. Sandy Squirrel volunteers to hunt it down, arguing that her idea of big, and SpongeBob's idea of big are entirely different. She succeeds in capturing it's tongue before realizing her mistake and making a run for it.
- Kur from The Secret Saturdays is first seen as a giant snake, but it's revealed later that the snake is just one of its tentacles.
- The tentacles of octopuses function much like independent organisms, each having its own neural ganglia that operate almost as separate brains. When foraging, each arm probes the seabed for food independently of the other seven, to such a degree that they can even exhibit distinct personalities: some arms more curious, others more cautious, still others more aggressive or stubborn, etc.