The alien horde approaches. They don't necessarily enjoy giving us a Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong, or be The Virus and transform us, or what all... they're simply driven into adding biomass by whatever means necessary and as fast as possible.
Because the only purpose they have in life, the be-all and end-all of their existence, is their insatiable hunger, the conversion of all organic matter in the universe into more of them. They don't do diplomacy, because you don't bargain with lunch. This is, of course, always cause for a Bug War.
Most Locust Hordes use, or are, Organic Technology. However, Nanomachines can also become a Horde — the (in)famous "Grey Goo" scenario.
Compare To Serve Man and the slightly less extreme (as in, they are intelligent and only want inorganic resources) Planet Looters, and do not directly confuse them with Insectoid Aliens and Hive Mind, who may or may not be this trope. Horde of Alien Locusts is a common way to set up a Guilt-Free Extermination War or Creature Hunter Organization, since it's a fight between a group that wants to eat everything and the groups that don't want to be eaten. Not necessarily related to Giant Space Flea from Nowhere. Related to The Swarm and Planetary Parasite.
The trope is based, of course, on real-life locusts, which can totally destroy vast areas as they madly consume whatever they can before starving back to a sustainable population size. However, locusts are not actually an example, as the trope involves forces, species, or technology acting in an exaggerated parallel of real-life locust behavior.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
The Vajra from Macross Frontier are space-adapted monster bugs that attack without explanation. It ultimately turns out they're not out to destroy the Frontier fleet, but rather on a misunderstood rescue mission since they see Ranka as one of their own because she can communicate via fold waves through her singing. The whole image of a Horde of Alien Locusts was conjured by the conspirators from the Frontier and Galaxy fleets to hide their true goals, to take over the Vajra fold communication network and use it to control the galaxy.
Vandread has this for the Human Race of Earth, who kill entire planets of people that have colonized elsewhere so they can harvest them for their organs.
The Org of Plasm featured in Jim Shooter's short-lived Defiant Comics title Warriors of PLASM (italics and caps in the original) was a world-sized organism that had to feed to remain healthy. Its natives, the Plasmoids, used organic spacefleets to conquer other worlds and mulch their ecosystems into "gore for the Org."
An issue of Ms. Marvel features her fighting a dimension-hopping sorcerer. He intends to maroon her on an alternate Earth where a Horde of Alien Locusts descends upon the planet (in about five minutes...) and picks it clean in minutes.
The Cy-Bugs in Wreck-It Ralph, which are capable of assimilating objects they eat, for example, turning into a gun when consuming a gun. And they are not only programmed to fill this role in their home game, but they do it if given the opportunity to jump games as well.
Moties in The Mote in God's Eye are Explosive Breeders and technologically advanced enough to strip their entire solar system of resources thousands of years before the Empire of Man made First Contact. After finding out that they have to breed or they die and are very warlike the Empire decided the only option was to interdict their home system.
John Ringo seems to like this trope a lot, using it for:
The Dreen from Into the Looking Glass, unsurprising since they are essentially the Zerg of Starcraft fame. Planets that they have completely denatured are even shown in setting.
The Posleen from Legacy of the Aldenata don't convert all biomass into more Posleen, but they do eat other sentient beings (including other Posleen) as they move from world to world, in an endless cycle of invasion, industrialization, overpopulation, nuclear holocaust.
The Probes from Von Neumann's War, cowritten with Travis S. Taylor, and based on the self-replicating machines known as Universal Assemblers... theorized by Hungarian American mathematician and physicist John von Neumann.
The Swarm Mother from the Wild Cards shared-world anthologies
Greenfly, in Alastair Reynolds's Revelation Space 'verse, fall under the green goo variety. They enter a solar system, and quickly begin to break up all the mass outside of the star to turn into vegetation-filled habitats. A star overtaken by Greenfly will appear green due to the tens of billions of habitats orbiting it.
As one might guess from the page quote, Callahans Crosstime Saloon features an alien race nicknamed the Cockroaches who embody this.
The Vermicious Knids in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator are said by Willy Wonka to have caused the extinction of life on the Moon, Venus, Mars and many other planets. They are unable, however, to survive the friction caused by entering Earth's atmosphere.
The Slaver Sunflowers, from Larry Niven's Known Space, are a vegetable version. They exist to turn all other life into fertilizer for themselves.
The Unclean from the Star Trek series "Invasion!". They need three things: warp cores, for energy; new DNA, to re-engineer themselves into useful forms; and BRAAAINS, for intelligence. (Why can't they just grow their own?)
The Vord of Codex Alera are a Captain Ersatz of the Zerg in a lot of ways, including following this trope. Their Hive Mind is actually highly intelligent, but its attitude towards other lifeforms can easily be summed up as "assimilate or eat".
The Grik of taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series are a modified version of this. First, they're reptilian, not insectoid. Second they're divided into two castes, the worker/soldier Uul who fit the locust swarm trope to a T and the aristocratic Hij who are the rulers and fairly intelligent and individualistic. As a whole they are no good at innovation, but are very good at reverse-engineering and copying.
Discussed in Excession in the context of out-of-control self-replicating autonomous spacecraft, referred to as "Aggressive Hegemonising Swarm Objects". A common enough occurrence in the The Culture for the galactic community to have set up various task-forces and organisations to prevent them becoming too big. However, it's more common for the Aggressive Hegemonising Swarm to be composed of self replicating machines, rather than living beings.
It also says something about the nature of Culture society when Hegemonising Swarms / Space Locusts are a common "villain" in Culture children's stories.
The Forerunners in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series were the first semi-biological creatures in the galaxy (possibly, the Universe). Composed of proto-matter encased in a magnetic bubble, they move in a giant swarm and consume all matter in their path, save for stars which are too hot. They reproduce by mitosis (i.e. division), and killing one usually results in the creation of several smaller ones. Like moths, they are guided by starlight but are smart enough to avoid getting too close. The Forerunners were responsible for wiping out three Precursor civilizations 3 million years ago, the descendants of only two of these still remain, mostly unaware of their former greatness. They were only stopped by the Heroic Sacrifice of an entire race of Fish People, who suicide-bombed stars to burn the swarm until all their stars were gone, but all the Forerunners were dead as well. Even their natural enemies the entriphages could not keep the Forerunners in line. When the humans later found several inert Forerunners, a Corrupt Corporate Executive decides to see if they can be useful and has them revived. They nearly wipe out two battle fleets before being destroyed for good.
The Forerunners are discovered to be malfunctioning biological machines, whose original programming got corrupted by a solar flare, leaving only their most basic functions (e.g. feeding, reproduction, self-preservation). They were created by the first sentient being in the Universe, an Energy Being forming in the magnetic fields of a gas giant. The Forerunners' original purpose was to carry copies of the creature to other star systems and galaxies in order to ensure its survival. Over time, many died, and their remains ended up on habitable worlds, where their DNA seeded life throughout the Universe. And yes, some people do indeed call the original creature God, even though the creation of biological life was a side-effect, and it doesn't care about us.
The Ifrits of the Corean Chronicles are a slow-acting version of this, leaning toward Planet Looters. They create bridges between their current world and a new one, which is terraformed and then populated with all forms of life. They produce beautiful civilizations and art. The catch? The entire time, they're feeding on the Life Energy of the world. Within a few centuries or millennium, they can suck an entire world dry of its energy before moving on to the next one.
They actually believe this is a service to the universe at large. By doing this, they allow the world to shine like a jewel for a brief time, rather than lingering dull and unimpressive for an eternity.
They might have started as Planet Looters, but they're slowly leaning more into the Locusts category now. Remember, it's clearly stated that after every world they colonize they devour more life energy more quickly. On the other hand this means they would have burned themselves out in another few hundred millennia if they hadn't been stopped in the books.
The Nesk in Animorphs in In The Time of Dinosaurs.
The Swarm of Night of The Chathrand Voyages is what happens when this trope meets Eldritch Abomination. An innumerable horde of tiny black insect-like spirits, its purpose is to patrol the borders of the underworld to prevent the dead from troubling the living. When released into the living world, however, it's drawn to massive killings (like mass battles) in progress, finishes them (by killing everyone there who's still alive) and drawing energy from that to increase its size. Once it reaches critical mass, it can eat a whole planet. The Big Bad released it to do just that, since the destruction of a world was the test his God of Evil patrons demand of any mortal to be judged worthy of elevation to their number.
The demon locust horde from the Left Behind book Apollyon, whose resemblance matches those described in the book of Revelation, and whose main purpose is to go after those without the seal of God on their foreheads and infect them with a maddening delirium that lasts for five months.
In Out of the Dust, a swarm of grasshoppers devour the crops on the protagonist's farm, including the apples on her mother's trees.
The Ferrotophagous in Daniel Garro's El niño mariposa and Mi corazón de metal are big metalic insectoid iron-eaters that destroy civilizations.
Stargate SG-1 has the Replicators, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin: they consume technology and matter to make more of themselves. However, the Asurans of Stargate Atlantis start getting called by the same name. While they work exactly like the Replicators, their goal isn't "tear stuff up to make more."
Lexx had Mantrid's drones, little helper robots that he deliberately turned into a locust horde after he became fused with a member of an alien race that wanted to destroy all humans. Lexx being what it is, he succeeds in turning the overwhelming majority of the universe's matter into drones. So many that he was Hoist by His Own Petard: using almost all the universe's matter against the Lexx made gravity a problem and resulted in a Big Crunch (or "Big Collapse," as Kai called it.) After the Mantrid arc is over, the opening narration is removed because it calls the Lexx the most powerful weapon in the two universes - and there aren't two universes anymore.
Lexx also had the Lyekka aliens in the final season, a group of very hungry plants with a mother ship roughly twice the size of Earth's moon that would attach to a planet and strip it of all bio-matter to feed their insatiable hunger. This again being Lexx the aliens are only destroyed after eating a large number of worlds, killing billions and nearly eating the Earth (though it still blows up).
The Stingray creatures in the 2009 Easter Special "Planet of the Dead".
The Rachnoss, a reborn-from-near-extinction species that the Doctor murders in their crib in "The Runaway Bride", mainly because there is no way to talk them out of their instinct to consume the Earth and other planets, at least not while they are still children.
The alien bug in the Alien episode of Lost Tapes escapes at the end of the episode. There dosen't really seem to be too much of a problem seeing as there's only one... until the narrator notes that some bugs can reproduce asexually.
Star Trek: The Original Series has the Tribbles, cute, fuzzy animals that are "born pregnant," multiplying exponentially until they consume all available food sources and space.
An episode of Power Rangers in Space had one Monster of the Week that was like this (maybe not a pure example of the Trope, seeing as the swarm did the bidding of someone else, namely Astronema). In the plot of the episode, a female monster called Mamamite planted millions of her eggs around Angel Grove assuring Astronema they'd hatch into a swarm of creatures who acted like this; however, Astronema urged her to speed up the process, and she did her best with a drill-like device. The heroes were able to defeat her rather easily, but her spawn hatched nonetheless, resulting in a somewhat accurate version of this Trope, which could also combine into a stronger male version of its mother that called itself Termitus. Eventually, it was defeated by the Megazord.
The Tyranid Hive Fleets of Warhammer 40,000 have been encroaching on the 40k galaxy for centuries. If they take a world, they kill and devour every living thing (taking useful traits from the creatures to improve their hordes of bio-engineered monsters), eat the soil, drink the oceans and suck up the atmosphere. They also use The Virus in the form of the Xenomorph-esque Genestealers to destabilize potential opposition. The 5th edition rulebook (p. 166) says that they have consumed a dozen galaxies prior to coming to the one we know and love, and their current campaign of destruction is merely the next course. Largely inspired by the Xenomorphs from Alien.
And it's implied that the Tyranids are running from something — but what could scare a Horde of Alien Locusts? If it is something that can scare the Tyranids, a race literally built around the concept of Determinator and The Implacable Man, with some of the bigger beasts reaching all the way up to Juggernaut status, God only knows what kind of potentially unholy creatures they are, and if/when they will arrive.
Rogue Trader also has the Rak'Gol, eight-limbed alien monsters who can take on Space Marines in melee, and come in huge hordes. They are among the most dangerous creatures found in the game.
The Horde, which are an elemental (and Lawful EvilIn-Universe, ironically) race of insects which vary in size and shape from horde to horde, with all members of a particular horde being identical (i.e., sometimes they will appear as 20 ft. tall golden mantids other times they may appear as foot-long black beetles). They attack and consume anything that is not from their particular horde, even other hordes.
The Witchlight Marauders. A sequential bioweapon made by the Orcs during the Unhuman Wars with the intention of completely devastating entire Elven worlds via consumption and ultraviolence. After they kill every living thing on the planet they then turn on themselves.
For those interested, the cycles unfolds as such: The space marauders (1000' crocodilian heads with sails and tentacles) would launch primary marauders (200' ravenous slugs) at enemy worlds. The primaries would proceed to devour everything in their path and periodically eject 2-20 secondary marauders (20' tall vaguely humanoid monsters with metal teeth and claws) which were obsessed with killing anything elven. The secondaries, once full of hot fey meat, would then (you guessed it) birth 1-4 tertiary marauders (5' tall humanoid berserkers with swords for hands) just as hungry as their progenitors. Once the primaries got their fill of sylvan carnage they'd burrow deep into the ground and split into two new primaries to start the grisly cycle all over again.
The Clockwork Horrors, which are like the Witchlight Marauders except that they're tiny metal spiders with death rays and buzz saws.
Werewolf: The Forsaken has the Srizaku, or Hungry Children, which are Locust Hosts. In simple terms, this makes them demonic locust swarms that devour anything organic, with a fondness for human flesh, and are capable of reducing entire cities to picked-clean bones lying scattered amidst ruins. Fortunately, they're extremely rare because they are, obviously, not very good at being subtle.
Mass Effect this is (sort of) the Reapers' way of doing things, although they don't use natural resources, just sentient life forms.
In the X-Universe games, the Xenon are the mechanical version: being rogue terraforming robots, their only purpose is to build more of themselves, and to "terraform" everything in sight. They fit here from moonlighting as technological locusts as well. X3: Terran Conflict even calls them the greatest threat the galaxy has ever known due to their exponential rate of expansion and processing power.
The Zerg from StarCraft (based on the Tyranids among other things) have a fairly similar approach, including the assimilation of new species into the Zerg swarm based on their useful traits — although they were forced into this through Xel'Naga modifications, after previously being a race of docile, harmless worms. Though they infest and consume the resources of planets, their goal under the Overmind was actually the achievement of physical purity by genetically assimilating the Protoss. The sequel gives more background information on the Overmind, which infested Sarah Kerrigan to eventually relinquish control of the Zerg swarm to her. This would thereby prevent an Eldritch Abomination from using them as an army for universal genocide.
Smoke's ending in Mortal Kombat Armageddon has him fusing with his fellow Cyberninjas Sektor and Cyrax and doing the Nanomachine version of this.
The Flood from the Halo series are somewhere between Alien Locusts and The Virus.
The Drones probably qualify as well. If what they did to the New Mombassa tunnel system is any indication, they could probably rival in the Flood in numbers and environmental damage if allowed to run rampant.
The Frythans in Seven Kingdoms even gain one of their primary resources, Life Points, mostly by killing enemies, and it's required to breed more.
Jak and Daxter gave us the Metal Heads, who are a horde of alien locust/mammal/reptile things varying from small but rapid scorpion-things to colossal juggernauts that are nearly impossible to kill. While it isn't absolutely clear what their long-term goals are (or, for that matter, even if they have long-term goals), their rapacious swarming over everything within areas not heavily shielded and devoid of a handy One-Man Army puts them squarely within this trope.
Locusts and Silicoids from Sword of the Stars each embody this in a different way. Silicoids, also known as 'Swarms' are scilicon-based space-bugs who live in asteroid-belt and are mainly pests - a Swarmer Hive will send out a Silicoid Queen every 10 turns, aimed at a nearby planet with an asteroid-field, and establish a new Hive there if it isn't killed on the way. That Hive will send out a new Queen 10 turns later, and so on. Attacking either a Hive or a Queen gets you a fight with a swarm of angry Drones, so you better hope you remembered to bring point-defense systems. The Locusts, meanwhile, are not actual bugs but robots, and as such consume inorganic material, but they otherwise follow the trope to a tee (they're not Planet Looters because they're utterly mindless and attack in bug-like swarms). The Locust Hiveworld will move slowly and deliberately across the map, draining the resources out of every planet it comes across (rendering them functionally useless), and - once it has gathered enough resources in this way - it will spawn a second Hiveworld. Left to its own devices, the Hiveworlds will turn every last bit of resources in the galaxy into more of themselves. Most players would rather face the Deathstar-likeSystem Killer than the Locusts...
The Von Neummans are an intelligent example: while they are certainly resource-hungry robots, they react to someone blasting them apart by sending an ultra-cool looking "Berserker" to eradicate the colony (presumably so that they can mop up the pieces later), and if that fails, they send a Construct, because at that point, the potential resources from the soon-to-be annihilated planet just isn't worth the threat of the base on it. They even create their own homeworld in some games.
The aparoids from Star Fox Assault qualify due to the fact that when you fight the queen at the end, she insists that the entire universe and everything in it would be consumed by them.
The Mycons of Star Control certainly qualify for this trope. Though they are a bit slower than other examples of this trope, they see it as their long-term goal to convert all "Non" to "Juffo-Wup". They turn out to be a terraforming biotech whose programming has drifted from its original purpose over thousands of years. Nice job breaking it, Precursors. Also the robotic Slylandro Probes, which are a more urgent problem, and are also the result of faulty programming.
World of Warcraft has the Qiraji, insectoid monsters under the control of C'thun. While they don't come from space, they were sealed away from the rest of the world for millenia, giving their sudden reappearance a similar effect.
The titular Bio Metals are said to be this in the game's intro.
The Horde in Battle Realms, no one knows where they came from or what they are, other than they kill everything in their path, and leave nothing alive, not even trees.
The Kreegan of Might and Magic are in-between this and Planet Looters: their leadership is intelligent, but the common ranks aren't, and the reason indicated by someone that was around for the beginning of the Ancient-Kreegan War for why the Kregans continually travel, land and then conquer is that they rapidly outstrip the resources of their newly conquered planet due to their breeding cycle and need to move on to one or more other planets.
The Aurum from Kid Icarus: Uprising. They are a race of robotic aliens that are apparently beckoned by conflict and travel from planet to planet and consume each one. When Palutena calls them bees, and Viridi calls them parasites, Hades flat out says the apt term would be "locusts."
Aylee's species from Sluggy Freelance - aliens with the ability to alter their form to adapt to different environments and to emulate beings around them - view it as their holy duty to consume all other life and destroy worlds to spread themselves across the universe. From a more naturalistic point of view, this is probably just a rationalisation they've come up with for their nature as macroscopic equivalents of bacteria that infect and kill entire planets.
The Changelings give off this particular vibe as well, what with their less-than-subtle similarities with to Zerg. The only difference being that they feed on love instead of ponies themselves.
In Transformers we have the Insecticons, a literal swarm of alien locusts (and weevils and stag beetles). Unlike most Transformers, they don't live simply on energon. Instead they eat everything—including, in the comics, meat.
In the Xiaolin Showdown episode "Dangerous Minds", Jack Spicer accidentally releases a horde of Giant Spiders. According to the ancient legends, "The spiders are neither good nor evil. They are merely... consumers. They consume vegetation, animals, buildings, even the earth itself. They eat... until there is nothing left to eat."
There is also a Shen Gong Wu that releases a horde of stone locusts that luckily are solely herbivorous, but really quick at it. It was found in the episode in which the once-appearing villain was a plant, not stoppable in any other way.
In Godzilla: The Series, one episode shows a swarm of over-sized ants. Said ants almost destroyed an entire rainforest within a few days.
Hysteria from Extraterrestrial. Actually, more of a aquatic-based fungus made up of individual cells that can combine to form a deadly, venomous goo-like form.