"Squid, cuttlefish, and other similarly baleful creatures are all members of the cephalopod family, characterized by HUGE EYES, BEAKS, INTELLIGENCE, and AMBITION. ... They're jet powered, did you know that? They're jet-powered animals and their heads are covered in PREHENSILE TENTACLES. They're carnivorous and most are cannibals!
This trope is about octopodes, squid, cuttlefish, nautiloids, and ammonites.
Something about these animals is just plain alien. Few Earth natives can lay claim to having anything like Bizarre Alien Biology, and cephalopods are among them — they have two gill hearts, one systemic heart, and blue blood. They are invertebrates without carapaces, yet unlike worms and their mollusc kin snails and clams, they move with purpose and have large, staring eyes with Hellish Pupils. There are suckers on their tentacle-arms, and a few species like the colossal squid have hooks.
Their mouths are beaked and positioned strangely, their bodies look weirdly like heads, they expel clouds of ink to distract their predators, they move strangely, and some can leap out of the water like flying fish. Many of them can change colors and even the texture of their skin. Some species have donut-shaped brains. And of course, they are bizarrely intelligent.
In fiction, sometimes they're horrible, mysterious denizens of the deep. Sometimes they're cute and funny. Largely this is a matter of size, but it's also true that generally the east favors the comical cephalopod while the west favors its big, evil cousin. Cephalopods live in every ocean.
See Flying Seafood Special if they can fly, and Fishmen if they're Half Human Hybrids.
Expect Combat Tentacles, Tentacle Rope and, in racier fare, Tentacle Rape. Bigger ones can apply for Giant Squid status, and from there it's not that big a jump to Kraken and Leviathan up to Eldritch Abomination. Not to be confused with Cephalothorax — those also have large heads and limbs spawning off them, but they're humanoid.
While you're here, also remember to introduce yourself to Great Cthulhu, the appointed spokesperson of the Cephalopod Nation. He gets very upset if people do not properly acknowledge him.
The Kraken Surume of One Piece. He starts off as the legendary ship-devouring monster one would expect, but upon taking a beatdown from the Straw Hats, he ends up befriending them and turns out to be pretty amicable. And Adorkable.
Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster makes use of a prop octopus that gets Bela Lugosi in its clutches (though Bela has to toss the tentacles over himself for the effect). Supposed to be "evil" but clearly in the "comical" category.
A stock-footage octopus (and one prop tentacle) make a cameo in the Crosby/Hope comedy Road to Zanzibar.
Harry Potter features a Giant Squid in the lake at Hogwarts. It eats leftovers people chuck into the lake (Harry's toast in Goblet of Fire), occasionally tosses out students who fall in (Dennis Creevey in the same) and has been around for at least a generation, if what Lily Evans tells James Potter ("I wouldn't go out with you if it were a choice between you and the Giant Squid!") is anything to go by.
The Grel from Doctor Who spinoff Bernice Summerfield are a race of squid-headed humanoids whose hat is data collection, going so far as to engage in space piracy to get it. The nicer ones are kind of adorkable.
Gaia Online's Aquarium Cuttlefish are as difficult to please as they are adorable. One of the items they can drop when they die suggests that they are Emo. In addition, the Squid set and The Experiment play tentacles for laughs.
The Yemaya's Pearl item has a pose in which purple tentacles replace the wearer's legs. Yeah.
You can become one in Champions Online. There's a "tentacle" mouthpiece, hand item (tentaclely fingers) and foot item (tentaclely toes... About 8 per foot.) In the underwater zone, there's a few squidly enemies to boot.
City of Heroes gives us Lusca, a tremendously huge octopus that pops up occasionally in Independence Port. So giant, its head and each tentacle individually count as a Giant Monster-class creature. Strangely, "Kraken" is a Giant Monster from another enemy group, but looks more like Swamp Thing than anything to do with squids.
Henry the Octopus, a supporting cast member of The Wiggles. Known for breakdancing with all his legs.
A nice one at any rate, in Ringo Starr's "Octopus's Garden". He'd let us in, knows where we've been. On a vacation in Greece, Ringo was told of their penchant for collecting objects to put around their homes.
Truth in Television. Aquariums often report that if they do not give their octopus shiny things to play with, it will often escape and steal them.
Octoman from F-Zero is the comical kind, while his anime counterpart is mostly the western evil octopus but also has a comical side.
Blooey the Blooper from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is of the comical variety. Unlike Mario's partners, who followed Mario out of respect or another benevolent reason, Blooey, as well as the rest of Luigi's partners (excluding Hayzee), follows Luigi around out of a desire for revenge after Luigi accidentally threw him into lava.
"Crusher" from Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves; a gigantic squid that attacks the gang during the pirate level and later aids them in taking on the big bad of the level.
The first game has squid-inspired mooks in one level and the second game has octopus-like tentacles the player has to deal with in one level.
Kingdom of Loathing includes familiars like the Cuddlefish and (obtainable only on one day, ever) Emo Squid. Also, adventuring in the Octopus's Garden risks a fight with (naturally enough) an Octopus Gardener.
Tex Avery has a very helpful exemplar: "They went that-a-way!" (points in 8 different directions)
Preschool character Oswald the Octopus is an extremely cute and friendly octopus. With a literal wiener dog for a pet, who wears a hot dog bun. Yes.
Otto the octopus, who is known for stunts like juggling hermit crabs, throwing rocks at the glass, or totally rearranging his tank's scenery. His best prank involved shorting out the lights of the aquarium by shooting water at them (they have since moved the lights so he cannot do that anymore).
Paul the Octopus, who successfully predicted the results of the 2010 Football World Championships in Germany.
Spidey has a lesser foe called the Squid who really is all squiddly diddly.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
"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."
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 arms, 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 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.
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.
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 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. (It's pre-evolution on the other hand, is the really cute and innocent-looking Inkay)
Some characters in The Secret World believe that the Dreamers are extra-dimensional cephalopods.
In Old Boy, the main character, after spending 15 years locked up, goes to a restaurant and orders "something still alive". He's served an octopus, which he proceeds to chew down while its tentacles squirm all over his face. Watch it here.
Actually, live octopus is a genuine South Korean dish (called sannakji), but the critter is supposed to be cut up before serving. In the movie, he just ate it whole.
Stephen Baxter's novel Manifold: Time has humans breed squid for intelligence, then use them to man space probes. These squids colonize an asteroid; their species actually outlives most of humanity.
In the X-Wing Series, Loka Hask, the man who killed Wedge's parents, survived being shot down, but in the process a Corellian limpet got attached to his face, covering an eye and an ear and reaching tentacles into his mouth and nose. Corellian limpets look like vaguely jellyfish-ish eyeless, lumpy octopodes. Loka's limpet serves as a Red Right Hand, drawing a couple of circles around his evilness.
Ian Fleming's "Octopussy" features an octopus as a pivotal story device. It kills a major character, but not in any "evil" malice.
Similar to the Discovery Channel instance but much creepier: near the end of the Earth's life in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, cephalopods appear to have finally gotten around to invading the land. One of them crawls out of the ocean towards the time machine as the atmosphere begins to snow out around the traveler.
In The Exposed, twenty-seventh book in the Animorphs series, the gang uses sperm whale morphs to capture a giant squid, and then all six morph it to access a ship in the deep ocean.
Sergey Pavlov's Aquanauts feature an absolutely tragic take on the trope, when the protagonist, a deep diver who's recruited to help to investigate the strange events at the automated underwater mine (one of two operators disappeared and the other had a nervous breakdown), finds what's really happens there. When he comes down, he finds there a mysterious giant squid that messes around with the equipment, and apparently shows signs of the intelligence. It turns out that the squid got injected with the consciousness of his girlfriend who recently died in an air crash, but whose brain was used by her father as a matrix for his AI research. When the plane carrying a prototype crashed near the mine, the prototype rewrites itself over the squid's brain, thus somehow awakening the girl's self-awareness. She, however, cannot cope and eventually commits suicide.
In the Discovery ChannelThe Future Is Wild project speculates on the Earth of 200 million years into the future; the ecological niche primates once occupied is now filled by tree-swinging, quasi-sapient "squibbons". It is strongly suggested that the squibbons will go on to form a civilization.
100 million years earlier, a variety of marsh-adapted octopus uses its color-changing abilities to hunt among reed beds, and rears its young in puddles trapped by gigantic lotus flowers.
The NHL's Detroit Red Wings typically celebrate the NHL playoffs by letting fans throw octopuses on the ice, a tradition that began in the 1950's (the octopus' eight arms signified the 8 wins—two best-of-seven series—needed to win the Stanley Cup in those years). The animal has been long associated with the team as a result, with even the team's mascot being one (Al the Octopus).
Paul the psychic octopus was a resident of a German aquarium known for having correctly predicted the outcome of every game that Germany played in the 2010 World Cup, plus the final.
Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the Vampire Squid from Hell.
In South-East Asian countries (particularly Singapore and to a lesser extent Malaysia), there is a saying "blur like sotong", meaning someone is inattentive or easily confused. The thinking is the association with blinding ink and being confused and distracted. However, as pointed out elsewhere on this page, cephalapods are very intelligent animals capable of complex thinking processes, and the ink confuses their enemies, not them.
Several cultures worldwide ascribe mystical properties or religious significance to Ammonite fossils; most notably Hinduism, where they are a symbol of Vishnu.
The Cephalids of Otaria that showed up in the Odyssey block as a replacement to merfolk (kinda... Laquatus was still running around). They were almost humanoid squid creatures that were neutral to most of the events on the mainland, and involved in their own civil war, between the Emperor and Empress no less.
The d20 version of Gamma World had Octhofuses — a sapient race of octopodes, their name resulting from applying simulated linguistic drift to the original animal's name, like most creatures new to the d20 version. Most of them were actually friendly and curious — although there was a large, primitive, warlike subrace, roughly to them as orcs might be to humans in a fantasy setting — and they're considered a valid Player Character option.
One of the starting morphs in Eclipse Phase are "Octomorphs", uplifted octopodes. Depending on the background you pick and your "fluff" choices, a character with this morph might be an actual octopus, another animal with an octopus body, a human with an octopus body, or an AI with an octopus body.
The Delegation is a mysterious cuttlefish and Zoofights competitor who is ostensibly from Japan (the fact that it arrived three days before the invitations were sent out notwithstanding). The Delegation is later revealed to be just one of many bodyguards of a massive squid who was nicknamed The Representative and referred to itself as SeaNet.
Orion's Arm: Has an entire planet populated by cephalopods aptly named Cephalotopia. Some of the stranger examples of intelligent species are Bitenic Squids and PsySquids, neither of which are particularly friendly to humans.
This story, about a Mimic Octopus who can imitate Humans (albeit unconvincingly), and then another or possibly the same one who's learned to do it well. While the octopus does try to kill the protagonist, he seems to eventually come to have some small degree of sympathy for it, since its actions were apparently the result of its habitat being overfished by Humanity.
The Kraken in The Adventures of The League of S.T.E.A.M. short, "Tall Tails", is a cephalopod, although since only its arms are seen it is unknown if it is an octopus, squid or something else.
Stretch, one of Lotso's henchmen in Toy Story 3, is a stretchy, sparkly octopus toy voiced by Whoopi Goldberg. Not evil, seeing as she abandons Lotso with the others when they learn of his past and see him for what he is.