Legendary Carp

Carp have a strange tendency to appear unusually powerful in fiction, often being gigantic. Giant Carp are venerated for being colorful and allegedly wise pond dwellers, especially in Japan. Sort of like swimming parrots. They are known for their ability to jump many feet into the air and their long lifespan, something which is usually forgotten amongst their more domesticated, ill-kept brothers called goldfish. According to legend, a sufficently old and powerful carp that is able to climb a waterfall may even become a dragon.

Oddly, despite goldfish being a sort of carp, and supposedly being flushed down toilets on a regular basis, this myth rarely seems to cross over with the "giant alligator in the sewer" Urban Legend.

See also The Catfish, a more elusive kind of fish. If you searched for Legendary Crap, you either want Blatant Lies, a page that shall not be named on the Darth Wiki, or Toilet Humor.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Magikarp in the Pokémon anime usually appear as extras in underwater scenes and the badly-disguised wares of a Snake Oil Salesman, but occasionally have made a bigger impression:
    • In the episode "The Joy of Pokémon" one Nurse Joy had a giant Magikarp for a friend.
    • "The Wacky Watcher" had a direct reference to the legend — a huge school of Magikarp (which were color tagged by how old they were) attempting to climb a waterfall to prove they have the strength to evolve into the dragonlike Gyarados.
    • The episode "Ya See We Want An Evolution!" had a Magikarp and Feebas (its expy/foil) beating the snot out of Piplup and Ash's Pikachu almost effortlessly.

Film
  • Turns up in The Exorcist III, of all places.
    There's a carp in my bathtub, Father. And for three days it's been swimming. Up. And down. Up. And down. And I hate it. I can't go home until the carp is asleep. You've been standing close to me for some time now, Father. Can you tell? I haven't had a bath for three days.

Literature
  • According to Dave Barry Hits Below the Beltway, the Reflecting Pool in the Washington Mall is home to a legendary carp which has grown to 1900 pounds on junk food thrown by tourists and once swallowed a passing pedestrian (the Secretary of the Interior) whole. And yes, Dave Barry does mention in a footnote that "'Legendary Carp' would be A Good Name for a Rock Band."
  • In the story "Tunnel of Fish" from Kate Atkinson's short story collection Not the End of the World, on his birthday Eddie is taken to Deep Sea World where, in an undersea tunnel, he receives a message from a giant carp.
  • In Alastair Reynolds' "Chasm City", research involving carp produced the earliest immortality treatments. As a result, the postmortal upper class reveres carp in general, and there is also a specific carp which is also several hundred years old and therefore extra-revered.
  • In Keys to the Kingdom, one of the parts of the Will takes the form of a carp.

Mythology
  • Kintaro ("Golden Boy"), a character in Japanese folklore, was depicted as fighting a giant carp.
  • In Chinese Folklore, a carp that was able to jump over the Dragon's Gate would then transform into a dragon itself ("The Carp Jumping the Dragon Gate" is now used as an aphorism for any sudden success). This myth inspired Magikarp.
  • In Mercer Mayer's illustrated version of "East of the Sun and West of the Moon", a Legendary Carp is one of the beasts that assists the heroine on her journey. He gives her a ride across the sea on his back and a fish scale that proves useful later.

Radio

Tabletop RPG

Video Games
  • Double Subverted by Magikarp. It is a horribly underpowered Pokémon (stat-wise, very few are weaker, but those few can all learn better moves) which can do little else but splash around; it's said that it was stronger in the distant past. Also, it can pretty much be found anywhere. Its evolution, however, is the powerful, dragon-like Gyarados.
  • A Bonus Boss in Live A Live, Amulucretia, is a giant carp.
  • In one of the versions of Dwarf Fortress, the game's creator accidentally made carp far too powerful: their default bite attack did as much damage as a wolf's and due to a bug in the skill system, they could increase their stats by swimming, which, being fish, they did all the time. Undead carp were even worse: they can walk on land, so you were either screwed or very brave if you tried building a fortress near them. Later versions (happily or sadly) dialed their power back a great deal. Then aimed attacks were implemented, and fish became dangerous again (sturgeon are the new aquatic dwarf-killers).
  • Carp Armor and Carp Melee are a recurring joke between the fans and developers of City of Heroes.
  • Referenced in Sakura Taisen V with the giant carp missiles controlled by the Statue of Liberty.
  • Ōkami: Features demonic goldfish as enemies.
  • Ōkamiden references the above-mentioned myth with a giant evil catfish who convinced himself that he was a Carp that would turn into a dragon when he climbed up a waterfall.

Western Animation

Real Life
  • Benson the giant carp, formerly of Bluebell Lakes, England.
  • Because a fish's maximum size is based largely on the size of the body of water it lives in and the amount of available food, extremely large fish (including carp) are not only entirely possible in the real world but relatively common as well.