Creepy Centipedes

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Commentor 1: Arthropleura was only 3 meters in length and ate only ferns.
Commenter 2: ONLY? YOU DON’T DESCRIBE SOMETHING THAT TERRIFYING WITH “ONLY”. I mean, valid point, BUT DON’T USE ONLY TO DESCRIBE MY NIGHTMARES!
Two random Youtube Commentors upon seeing this video

For many people, spiders are scary and disgusting. For many other people, snakes are scary and disgusting. So, what happens when you combine the two?

In fiction centipedes, caterpillar and similar creatures are sometimes used as a fancy alternative for the everyday Giant Spider or Scary Scorpions, even moreso in eastern fiction. Sometimes, a human-centipede hybrid will appear, usually sporting multiple limbs and venomous bite. In Video Game settings, expect to see it detatch its own body parts and/or cutting one body segment at time, as if it's some kind of organic train. Another apparent power is their ability of curling up like a wheel/ball and roll over their foe. They are particularly prevalent in Japanese media, due to centipedes being an everyday common problem there.

Compare Big Creepy-Crawlies, Attack of the Killer Whatever and Segmented Serpent. Also Bug War if they come in mass.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Astro Boy goes up against a robot monster known as Gadem in various continuities. He's usually a Combining Mecha made out of 47 headless androids, but in the 2003 series he was redesigned as a collection of gold and jewels morphed into the shape of a centipede by a powerful electromagnet.
  • Loly's release in Bleach is called "Escolopendra", and gives her poisonous Combat Tentacles looking like giant centipedes.
  • The very first Youkai appeared in InuYasha was the Mukade Joro (Mistress Centipede), who was partially woman. Several huge centipedes appears as recurring Cannon Fodder among Naraku's hordes.
  • In Naruto Sasuke kills an oversized centipede in the Death Forest. Later he realize that they're trapped in an illusion when he recognize the same dead bug. Also, one of Pain's summons is a colossal centipede... who's offed by Sakura.
    • In the anime he summoned numerous centipedes, one of which fought Shikamaru.
  • After Jubei in Ninja Scroll: The Series splits a random giant mook open with his Razor Wind, it turns out that it had a giant centipede inside it. Then Jubei uses his Razor Wind again and that's that.
  • Epoida from One Piece is a minor character who appears to be able to turn in a giant caterpillar-man. One of the movies shows a huge centipede-like Sea Monster amd several of the recurring Sea Kings have a centipedean design.
  • Yaiba meets a Centipede-Man during the Underworld Arc, wielding several swords at once. However, despite his fierce look he was a mere Elite Mook.
  • In Toriko, Tommyrod of the Gourmet Corps can also breed and spit out of his mouth several centipede-like monsters to fight for him, specifically a winged one called "Butterfly Worm" which gruesomly kills Yun's parents and is killed with a certain difficulty by the combined effort of Toriko, Takimaru and Match. Other huge centipedes/millipedes monsters exists in the world of Toriko, though they're rarely seen.
    • Another member of the Gourmet Corps named Boneless wears a centipede-like bug on his head and all around his body and can apparently sprout legs all over his body.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, Kaneki comes to be associated with them as his Animal Motif starting with the Aogiri Arc. Many chapters of that arc feature a seemingly-random shot of a centipede, leading up to Yamori sticking one in Kaneki's ear while torturing him. After the timeskip, he begins wearing an Eyepatch of Power with a centipede pattern on it and is given the alias "Centipede" by CCG after developing an insect-like partial Kakuja form.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann the giant submarine mecha Daigankai controlled by Aidine the Elegant resembles a giant centipede, though one that fights underwater. Fitting, considering that Aidine's own mecha can turn into a scorpion form.
  • The very first Taboo encountered by Ageha Yoshina in Psyren resembles a giant centipede with a humanoid torso whose head sported a mouth full of tentacles, as if it wasn't creepy enough.
  • In Ushio and Tora the first serious threat, the Stone Eater, is a demon in the form of a large stone samurai concealing two large centipedes. As a nod to Tawaratota's myth, Tora states that they can only be killed by stabbing their eyes with something made wet with saliva.
  • Just like in her Video Game, Bayonetta from Bayonetta: Bloody Fate summons a massive demonic centipede called Scolopendra to crush a car-shaped angel to death.
  • An episode of Yo-Kai Watch featured the Mukamukade, a centipede Youkai that is basically a living Berserk Button. It uses its angry influence on Nathan's mom, causing her to become instantly annoyed at every little thing.
  • In the original Dragon Ball anime one of Korin's magic pots houses an immensely long centipede that bursts out when Goku opens it, coiling itself around him before the pot shows Goku visages of his past, present, and future.
  • On the desert planet of Rudeeze in Dragon Ball GT there are the gargantuan Sandipedes, Mix-and-Match Critters of centipedes and scorpions that have a Breath Weapon of sand. One in particular named Scorpulon attempts to kill Pan while she's suffering from heat exhaustion.
  • The Chairman from Assassination Classroom has centipedes as his animal motif. One particular scene is when he fires Takaoka, multiple centipedes are visualized entering Takaoka's throat as the Chairman stuffs the termination letter into his mouth.

    Comic Books 
  • In Lucifer, one assassin antagonist is a demon with a humanoid torso on a centipede body.
  • In the Atari Force first series, Martin Champion fights with a giant alien centipede-like creature. It's a rather subtle Shout-Out to Atari's arcade game Centipede.
  • Made much less creepy (but not much less menacing) in DC Comics' own pack-in comic book for the Atari 2600 Centipede.
  • In Ultimate X-Men there was a sub-group of mutant terrorists called the Animal Evolutionaries who were all animal-based mutants, directly affiliated with the Brotherhood of Mutant Supremacy. Among their small ranks was Kathleen, a mutant who's head was that of a beautiful woman, but had the body (from the neck down) of a centipede.
  • Dial H For Hero has Floyd Bergson, a Super Villain called Centipede. Although he doesn't actually have any stereotypical centipede powers, he instead has the powers of Self-Replication and Super Speed. This means if you see him coming at you while he's using his powers, he looks like a fast-moving humanoid monstrosity of multiple limbs, much like a centipede. He does eventually don a giant centipede-head mask though, playing this trope more straight.
  • Minor Batman villain, the Witch Doctor named the Obeah Man, kept large carnivorous centipedes as 'pets'. Batman actually uses this fact to deduce that the Obeah Man was a Haitian cult leader due to their history for having an affinity for the insects.
  • Part of Wonder Woman's rogue's gallery in The Silver Age included the Crimson Centipede, an abomination of a man with green skin and 100 arms and legs with Guns Akimbo, created by Ares, the God of War.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Human Centipede, despite not involving a real one, brings the "Hybrid" concept to a new horrorific level.
    • The sequel does have a real one, though. One who the main character, Martin, uses to attack his mother with.
  • In Attack of the Clones, after the failed assassination attempt with explosives, Zam tries to assassinate Amidala with two centipede-like bugs.
  • There's a giant centipedes scene in the Peter Jackson version of King Kong (2005).
  • A centipede and some spiders appear for added creepiness when the hobbits are hiding from the first Black Rider in The Lord of the Rings. Although they're less creepy in themselves as it's more like the bugs are trying to get away from the Ringwraith.
  • The Sea Serpent in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader sports a centipedean body with lots of tiny legs.
  • The low budget B-Movie Centipede! involves a giant, mutated centipede along with her spawn dwelling in a cave in India.
  • Centipede Horror, in which we have an Evil Sorcerer who uses centipedes as killing tools, at one point making a woman vomit some.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Willie is afraid of reaching into a hole that contains a lot of bugs, including centipedes. Actually justified, as centipedes can be quite venomous.
  • In the American horror movie The Ring one of the scenes from the cursed videotape is of a giant centipede crawling out from under the table of the psychiatric hospital. What's particularly interesting is the original Japanese release of Ring didn't have any centipedes, despite the concept of centipedes symbolizing evil being much more commonplace in Japan.
  • In a Teaser Trailer for the Godzilla (2014) film, it featured a gigantic Centipede-Kaiju that supposedly Godzilla would have done battle with. However, when the actual movie was released, the Centipede-monster was no where to be found.

    Literature 
  • In one James Bond novel (Dr. No), the killer tries to murder Bond with a poisonous centipede. In the movie adaptation it was discarded in favor of a tarantula. Probably they thought that the audience ignored that centipedes are poisonous.
  • Newsflesh has a scene in Deadline wherein we discover that Rebecca "Becks" Atherton, who cheerfully goes into zones where zombies are still a threat, cannot deal with centipedes, even in closed-in lab setting. Just seeing them makes her flinch and twitch.
  • Averted with the heroic giant centipede in James and the Giant Peach.
  • Piers Anthony's Xanth series has nickelpedes. They're centipedes with 500 legs and pincers that can gouge out a slice of flesh the size of a U.S. nickel coin. They're very dangerous in large numbers.
    • There are also quarterpedes and dollarpedes, which are bigger, and dimepedes which are slightly smaller but gouge out twice as much flesh per bite as a nickelpede.
  • Prince Dhojakt from The Prism Pentad is part man and part cylops. That means that he has the body of a giant centipede from the knees down, and also unusual maws and bulging eyes.
  • The Taxxons in Animorphs.
  • The Hundred Eyed Demon King from Journey to the West is a centipede-based demon, who can master light and fire and fight with a sword. Sun Wukon is forced to summon forth Pilanpo Boddhisatva, to whom he surrenders.
  • In Wicked Bronze Ambition, the sorceress Tara Chayne conjures a black supernatural centipede to fight and spy for her.
  • Harry fights a gigantic centipede in Lea's garden in Changes.
  • Fu Manchu kills foes with a centipede that leaves a kiss-shaped blister where it bites (the Zayat Kiss) in his very first novel.
  • Doc Savage: In The Fantastic Island, the Big Bad uses venomous centipedes as his primary Animal Assassin. In one scene, Doc has to wade through a veritable sea of them.
  • One short story by Bruce Corville (IIRC) involves a young kids throwing a shoe at a rather short centipede in his room. Every time he sees it afterwards it's apparently grown longer and longer until one day he wakes to find every surface in his room covered in centipedes of varying length and he's strapped to his bed by them. The story closes out with the boy experiencing a Laughing Mad fit as the centipedes descend upon him.

    Live-Action TV 

    Music 
  • Knife Party has a song called "Centipede" which first opens with a nature documentary narration that explains their hunting abilities, and wobbling basslines that couldn't be any dirtier if they tried.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Oomukade (Great Centipede) from Japanese Folklore was said to prey on dragon's hatchlings and being as large as a mountain. It was slain by Hidesato Tawaratota who pierced his eye with an arrow made wet with drool.
  • Even normal sized centipedes scare Eastern Dragons, since centipedes like to crawl up dragons' nostrils to feast on their brains.
  • In general, large centipedes (in particular the Mukade, see Real Life below) are considered symbols of evil in Japan.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Calvin almost learns how creepy centipedes are the hard way while playing a game of Twenty Questions involving guessing what he has in his hands.
    Hobbes: Is it loathsome?
    Calvin: Yes!
    Hobbes: Is it some big centipede with poison pinchers?
    Calvin: ...Centipedes have poison pinchers?
    Hobbes: I think so.
    Calvin: [Climbing onto Hobbes looking very scared] Man, it's a good thing you guessed it so fast!

    Other Sites 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons features huge centipedes and also swarms of regular centipedes. They're pretty much on the top of the giant vermin heap thanks to their potent venom.
    • One of the earliest monsters introduced in Dungeons & Dragons is the Carrion Crawler, a bloated four-foot-long Eldritch Abomination centipede with eight drooling tentacles on its maw. Luckily, as their name implies they're normally scavengers ... but will attack adventurers if food is scarce or if its young is threatened.
    • The Dark Sun settings has a couple.
    • The stegocentipede from D&D 1st edition is a colossal monster with an armor-plated hide and dorsal spikes.
    • In 3rd Edition centipedes could grow up to 120 feet long.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth
    • The Arthropleura is 6 foot long, has 50 pairs of legs and a vicious bite.
    • The giant centipede grows up to ten feet long and two feet wide and has a pair of forcipules (poison-injecting pincers).
  • Arduin RPG, The Compleat Arduin Book 2: Resources. The Yellow Peril is a bright yellow centipede up to 27 feet long. It can have up to 63 Hit Points and its bite can inject venom doing up to 126 Hit Points of damage. It can spew out a Super Spit acid spray up to 30 feet long that does up to 31 Hit Points of damage.
  • Midkemia Press' Heart of the Sunken Lands. The Spotted Green Centipede will crawl onto a PC's body and bite them, injecting a lethal poison. The poison causes a high fever which reaches its peak 2-12 hours after the bite.
  • RuneQuest, Heroes magazine Volume I #3 article "Creepy Critters: Insects for RuneQuest". Centipedes can grow up to 20 meters long and their bite can inject a lethal poison.
  • Warhammer 40K gives us the Necron Tomb Stalker, a Creepy Centipede that can move like a Sand Worm.

    Videogames 

    Webcomics 
  • In The Order of the Stick Pompey use a lesser Summon Monsters to call forth several giant spiders and centipedes. When Julia face them it quickly degenerates to a Shout-Out of Centipede.
  • In Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Commander Badass doesn't like millipedes thanks to multiple tours on the Millipede Planet during Millipede season. Highlights include swarms of millipedes in his bunk, swarms of millipedes in his boots, swarms of millipedes in his cereal box, and a giant millipede that vomited swarms of millipedes on his head. He's a good enough dad that he let his daughter buy a millipede despite his issues with them, though he wishes she would stop trying to make him play with her hideous new pet.

    Western Animation 
  • Koh the Face Stealer from Avatar: The Last Airbender looks like a giant centipede whose head was instead what looks like an eye socket with interchangeable faces inside of it, surrounded by a bunch of extra legs.
  • The first Steven Universe episode, "Gem Glow", introduces the acid-spitting gem monster known as the Centipeetle Mother. She makes a reappearance in the episode "Monster Buddy" as well, although a bit less creepy as Steven attempts to befriend her. To make her extra creepy, however, its revealed she used to be a fully sentient humanoid gem like the rest of the characters, but was corrupted over time and turned into a violent, semi-mindless monster.
  • Adventure Time introduces the Crystal Citadel, a space prison that houses the worst Cosmic Criminals in the multi-verse, one of which is a large, legless centipede creature. To quality to be imprisoned in the Crystal Citadel the prisoner has to be guilty of a crime ranging from mass-genocide and head-eating to vivisecting entire planets.
  • Godzilla: The Series featured a Centipede-Kaiju named Megapede, a creature with toxic barbs and an impenetrable exoskeleton. It eventually drops the centipede-motif when it cocoons itself and turns into a giant, flying Cicada, and its actually classified as neither a centipede nor a cicada, but a "mutated caterpillar". There was a second, unrelated and unnamed Centipede-Kaiju in another episode, this one fighting the Monster Arena.

    Real Life 
  • Centipedes and millipedesnote  are poisonous. It's just that most of them in the real world are tiny and so the bite contains a (usually) negligible amount of poison.
    • An exception is the Scolopendra gigantea, who's 30 cm long and can prey upon birds, even going so far as to prey upon things as large as bats.
    • Large centipedes called "Mukade" are common in Japan, and have an extremely painful bite, which would explain the prevalence of centipede monsters in Japanese fiction. Some common worries regarding the mukade include that they like to make homes in bed linens and in toilets, that they cling to ceilings and drop down on people, and that if they find a sleeping person they will like to crawl inside one of their open cavities (mouth, nose, ears, etc.) for warmth. And even worse, if you try to kill it by smashing or cutting it the body will release a pheromone that'll attract more of them, hot to boiling water is usually recommended as the best way of dealing with the mukade, although burning them works too.
  • Arthropleura, an arthropod from the Carboniferous period and the largest known land-dwelling invertebrate, is basically a human-sized centipede, thanks to the higher amounts of oxygen in its time period. Up to 8.5 feet in length, it's practically Godzilla when compared to modern centipedes and millipedes. The largest true centipede ever was Euphoberia, which reached a more modest three feet in length (but you still wouldn't want something like that living in your basement).
  • Certain tribes use millipede poison to tip their arrows with for battle.
  • And certain species of monkey will literally use millipede secretions to get high.
  • Subverted by small, harmless centipedes that live in libraries, as they prey on silverfish that eat book-binding glue. All but the most squeamish of librarians are usually happy to have a few of them around.
  • Regular centipedes not creepy enough? Meet the Scutigera coleoptrata (house centipede). It lives in your house, hunts at night and has long, spiderly legs. It's a SPIDER CENTIPEDE. On the flip side, it preys upon all your other household pests (bedbugs, silverfish, carpet beetles, etc), and spiders.


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