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Tentacled Terror

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Cephalopods (octopuses, squids, etc.) and other tentacled monstrosities depicted as abhorrent.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Morgenthaler on Jun 24th 2016 at 11:13:38 AM
Last Edited By:
Jubileus57 on 6 hours ago
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope
Psychosquid really lives up to its name.

Octopoids and other tentacled creatures are often depicted as terrifying monsters.

Squids and octopi dwell in the deep ocean where they can sometimes reach immense sizes, they move strangely with their incredibly non-human anatomy, and they are remarkably intelligent. But mostly, they have tentacles. These are usually seen completely alien and disgusting: they are slimy, have a whole lot of suckers, and move in an incredibly unnerving fashion. Given all these factors, it is only natural to see many works of fiction featuring creepy octopi as scary monsters the hero has to fight.

But it doesn't have to stop to mere cephalopods: some have noticed that cephalopod's tentacles are so creepy and unnerving that they could considerably crank up the horror meter of other minsters, and decided that they could be used on creatures even more menacing than actual cephalopods. Cue the various Mix-and-Match Critters like cecaelias, Cthulhu-like Eldritch Abominations and a plethora of monsters with entirely gratuitous tentacles.

Super Trope to Giant Squid, Cthulhumanoid, and Octopoid Aliens. Contrast (or sometimes overlaps with) Funny Octopus. Frequently overlaps with Combat Tentacles and the "Kraken" part of Kraken and Leviathan.

Examples of Scary Squids and assorted cephalopods:

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    Anime And Manga 
  • In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, the Hideauze are aggressive squid-like monsters engaged in a long war against the Galactic Alliance of Humankind. They are also the descendants of humans who genetically altered themselves to survive in the vacuum of space.
  • Octagon, the first enemy destroyed by Kirby in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, is a gigantic, sheep-eating, flying, fire-breathing octopus.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • Diabolik had to fight octopi twice: the first time was when a millionaire, expecting Diabolik's visit, put his jewels in a chest and the chest in a pool containing seawater and a giant guard octopus (Diabolik planned to poison it, but found himself in a hurry and had to jump in and knife it to death), while the second time he was peacefully swimming when a wild octopus attacked him.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • The Lord of the Rings has the Watcher in the Water (a huge squid-thing that guards the gates of Moria).
  • Michael Crichton's Sphere had "Jerry" summon a swarm of impossible squid, and later a giant squid (an homage to the one from 20,000 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.''
  • Ian Fleming's Dr. No has a giant octopus at the end of the obstacle course that the eponymous villain puts James Bond through.
  • The H. G. Wells 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.
  • Not evil of themselves, but put to a nasty use: The murder weapons in The Night Season are blue-ringed octopuses, whose fatal poison has no antivenom.

    Live-Action TV 

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Kraken from the northern legends, though in the first incarnations it was more like a Turtle Island thing.
  • The Oodako (great octopus) is the protagonist of a sad Japanese legend where he forces a girl to marry him.
  • In the Hawaiian creation myth, the sun was imprisoned in the ocean by a gargantuan octopus, who was slain by a god.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • A rather 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.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Kraken creature types, which includes the Polar Kraken, one of the biggest creatures in the game.
    • The Cephalid, a race of squid-folk portrayed as physically weak but sneaky and conniving.
    • Zendikar brings us the first true legendary octopus: Lorthos, the Tidemaker.
  • Munchkin has the Level 18 Squidzilla monster (outright called Cephalopodzilla in French).
  • The Old World of Darkness had a cephalopod race called the Chulorviah, who could parasitize humans and had plans for world domination.

    Video Games 
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • In Super Mario RPG the first boss of the sunken ship is a Giant Squid that goes by the name, King Calamari. He has 800 Hit Points and his left tentacles have 200 Hit Points while his right tentacles have 260.
    • King Kaliente from Super Mario Galaxy is also of the evil cephalopod bunch. Though like most Mario enemies he's also pretty comical.
    • Brigadier Mollosque-Lanceur III Dauphin of Bubblaine, is a monstrous purple octopus with fancy clothing with a mustache and hair curls that appears as the boss of Bubblaine in Super Mario Odyssey.
    • Paper Mario series:
      • Thousand Year Door has the first boss battle against a Blooper.
      • Super Paper Mario features a boss battle against a giant Blooper during Chapter 3-2.
  • Some of Ecco the Dolphin's more random enemies include giant octopodes called Eight-Arms. The Prehistoria levels have plenty of pointy ammonites, too.
  • The first boss of Ratchet & 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.
  • The main character in Octogeddon is a mean-looking, giant octopus with a Hair-Trigger Temper which goes on rampage in various cities around the world, causing major destruction wherever it goes.
  • In Insaniquarium, Psychosquid, unlike what his name suggests, is a red octopus alien carrying a meat cleaver, a pitchfork and a flyswatter which can invade your aquarium in several later levels of the game.
  • World of Warcraft. 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. He's also the bastard who sinks your ship at the start of the zone. Suffice to say, killing him feels good.
  • The giant octopus boss of Quaria in Bug!, which stays in the background, grabs fish with its tentacles, and throws them at you. You counter by whacking them back at his head, after which he will come up close and personal, using his tentacles to hurt Bug directly.
  • Mega Man X
    • The series has Launch Octopus and Squid Adler/Bolt Kraken. Though they are anything but squishy- the former launches homing missiles and can drain X's life, while the latter makes liberal use of Shock and Awe.
    • Sequel franchise Mega Man Zero brings us the cryokinetic Tech Kraken, who attempts to cause an earthquake by drilling a suicide submarine into the ocean floor.
  • 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.
  • Despite being a game that's extremely lighthearted, Squid Ink features some very evil squids as the Arc Villains of some of the squids' mission storylines. General Wobniar started a civil war in the past, Your Grace is a tyrant usurper of a ruler who has 0% Approval Rating, and Evil Chronos is an evil alternate self of Chronos who uses Time Travel to Make Wrong What Once Went Right.
  • Kirby series:
    • 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.
    • Kirby and the Rainbow Cursehas the Claykken, a pirate-like pipe-smoking squid which attacks Kirby with its long and spiky tentacles.
  • 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. Its pre-evolved form Inkay is more timid and less overtly malicious, but it's still a Dark-type.
  • The single-player story mode of Splatoon features the octopus-based Octarians, who fought the Inklings in a previous war and have seemingly returned for revenge. It turns out their habitats were falling apart and running out of power, and they stole the Great Zapfish to try to fix it.
  • The Kraken of Evolve invokes this. Its mouth is a series of fangs set in the midst of some tentacles, it had tentacles growing out of its back and head, and its 'wings' are essentially tentacles on the ends on normal limbs.
  • The aptly-named Squid, a Dummied Out monster from Unreal, is an octopus which rams and slaps upon its enemies.
    • Some custom maps for the game play with the properties of the creature, increasing its size and HP, giving it ranged attacks, and turning it into a boss or level hazard.
  • In one of the last levels of the Wii Play: Motion minigame Treasure Twirl, a giant octopus can be found at the bottom of the ocean and it tries to stop you from getting back to the surface with it's tentacles. When it' first comes after you, it's a borderline Jump Scare.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising has the humongous Space Kraken which unexpectedly takes over as the boss of Chapter 8. It mainly attacks with it's finned tentacles but can also fire a huge laser beam at Pit.
  • Ohdarko, in The Wonderful 101 is a giant robot octopus piloted by Vijounne. It has six tentacles, each armed with a deadlier weapon than the last.

  • Cucumber Quest: Splashmaster is a monster resembling a Giant Squid who terrorizes the Ripple Kingdom, and the only cephalopodian character seen there.

    Web Original 
  • Zigzagged in Neopets: Tiny Giant Squids are kept as pets, Small, Large, and Giant Giant Squids are eaten, but Tyrannical Giant Squids are seen as dangerous.
  • In Hector's World, a squid is an evil Con Man and leader of a criminal gang. Octopi are also seen as antagonists when characters imagine shady people.

Examples of other Tentacled Terrors:

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    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man's foe Doctor Octopus. Not really squishy, though.
    • Spidey has a lesser foe called the Squid who really is all squiddly diddly.
  • Octoboss, a minor Invincible villain, is a horrifying anthropomorphic octopus who straddles the line between Humanoid Alien and Starfish Alien. His head and hands are all masses of super-strong Combat Tentacles. Since Invincible is in part a Spider-Man homage, Octoboss is probably based loosely on Doctor Octopus.
  • There's also Shuma-Gorath, a recurring enemy of Doctor Strange, who can best be described as a pile of green tentacles with a giant eye in the middle. As the name and appearance might suggest, he's a lovecraftian chaos entity residing outside our dimension, and is constantly trying to find a way in. He is very unpleasant to deal with to say the least.
  • The Ogdru Jahad from Hellboy, being a mix of Lovecraft and Babylonian myths, are often portrayed as enormous tentacled masses beyond our universes borders. They're also the Big Bad of the entire setting, are responsible for the creation of Hellboy and have intended for him to bring them into our reality to usher in the End of Days.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Little Mermaid, Ursula the wicked sea witch is part cephalopod. Her first designs had lower bodies based on scorpion fishes and manta rays, but the designers decided to base her on an octopus instead since tentacles would add a "seductive yet scary aspect".

  • Cthulhu Mythos: 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. Of course, the Old Gods aren't actually cephalopods or anything else that resembles terrestrial life, its just the closest approximation of their true appearance that our brains can understand.
  • The evil Martians in The War of the Worlds are distinctly squid-like octopoids.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, Daleks are pretty much brains with tentacles in personal tanks.
  • The sex education video in Hyperdrive shows (fortunately not to the audience) the dangers of Interspecies Romance with such creatures.
    "This crew member 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."

    Tabletop Games 
  • In addition to the actual cephalopod examples listed above, Dungeons & Dragons has 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 tentacles, 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.

    Video Games 
  • In Sunless Skies, if you spot an innocuous-looking locomotive suddenly sprouting black tentacles, flee: this particular ship had been invaded by Guests, tentacled monstrosities that can invade space locomotives and are drawn to the warmth associated with places that had been lived in. And as their stolen home grows cold, they will frantically search for a new locomotive to take over. Like yours.
  • The Queen of Hearts in American McGee's Alice and its sequel is a monstrous mass of blood red tentacles looking like arteries. The Queen is the embodiment of Alice's madness, her tentacles spreading through her mind and Wonderland, corrupting the latter into a nightmarish version of its original self.
  • The Ceph, and evil cepalopod-like race 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.
  • 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.
  • Mass Effect brings us the Reapers. An entire race of horrifically powerful squid-shaped starships bent on perpetuating a cycle of extinction on the entire galaxy every 50,000 years, as they have for at least the past 37 million years. And that's 740 cycles! 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.
  • As well as the Watcher from the book, The Lord of the Rings Online has a giant tentacled terror in the sewers of Carn Dum.
  • In Path of Exile, the influence of the Eldritch Abomination known as The Elder on maps in the endgame Atlas of Worlds is represented by a swirling mass of tentacles. Inside Elder-influenced maps, patches of grey tentacles appear on the ground, tentacled monsters can spawn, tentacles can emerge from the ground and slam the player, and tentacled portals can spawn and spew forth a stream of monsters until destroyed. Elder Items have a tentacled background.

    Western Animation 
  • In Chaotic, the M'arrillian Tribe is hostile sea food at the lower-rungs, but the higher rungs, like Chieftains and Aa'une himself, are mostly eyes and slimy tentacles that don't look like anything. Aa'une's One-Winged Angel form with multiple mouths and a dozen tentacles now makes him by far the ugliest creature in the entire series.
  • In the pilot episode of Justice League, something called "Imperium" appeared, a big, night-loving blob with tentacles.

Feedback: 91 replies

Jun 24th 2016 at 12:46:55 PM

There's another YKTTW going on called "Monsters With Tentacles'', covering exactly the same idea.

Jun 24th 2016 at 5:23:01 PM

  • Pokemon:
    • Keeping with it's games incarnate, the anime features a band of evil Malamar that recurrently try to take over the world, making them rare intelligent and actively malicious Pokemon. Zigzagged as their second appearance bothers to point out not all Malamar are evil, a group of peaceful Malamar in fact end up saving the heroes from their evil counterparts.
    • Also zigzagged for Inkay. The most prominent Inkay in the anime is a member of Team Rocket, meaning it's a villain, but with the standard Noble Demon qualities of it's comrades, so much so that it abhors the evil Malamar.

Jun 24th 2016 at 11:59:42 PM

^^ Not quite. That trope idea is related (though I've come to think it's a bit of a trope clump), but it's the idea of giving anything tentacles to make it creepier. I think there's even an example of a wolf with tentacles in that YKTTW.

Jun 25th 2016 at 1:08:26 AM

Jun 26th 2016 at 1:06:00 AM

Should be noted that the terror here needs to explicitly be some kind of cephalopods. That's why title needs to change

Aug 3rd 2016 at 7:18:34 AM

Western Animation

  • Near the end of the Tom And Jerry cartoon "The Cat and the Mermouse," Tom Cat gets snagged by one tentacle of a large, glowering octopus. As a second tentacle grips the frightened cat, the mermouse attempts to pull Tom free, but fails. A third tentacle lashes hold, a sure sign of doom ... until the sequence is revealed to have been All Just A Dream, or more precisely, a delirium.

Newspaper Comics

  • One Family Circus exploits this: while the family is visiting a public beach, Billy has been told to apply sunblock on his sister, Dolly. He does so, remarking that the lotion is oily and slippery. Dolly wonders why oiliness is a good thing, and Billy replies, "So octopuses can't get a good grip on ya."

Aug 3rd 2016 at 5:39:03 PM

The Big Bad in the Flipper And Lopaka animated series is an octopus named Dexter who seeks to rule the sunken city of Questo.

Aug 3rd 2016 at 9:30:38 PM

Aug 4th 2016 at 4:40:04 AM

Film - Animation

Aug 4th 2016 at 7:58:55 AM

Film-Live Action

  • A deleted scene from The Goonies had the kids tangle with an octopus while swimming to One-Eyed Willy's ship. They defeat it by popping a Walkman into its mouth. Although the scene was deleted, a later reference to it ("The octopus was really scary.") was not.

Aug 4th 2016 at 1:54:51 PM

Real Life

  • Humboldt squid, which are pack-hunters and grow to 6 feet in length, have behaved aggressively towards divers when feeding (such as grabbing the masks or regulators), and several fatalities are reported. However, outside of feeding times, they seem to be docile, if curious and fearless.

Aug 4th 2016 at 1:56:11 PM

  • Zigzagged in Finding Dory. A giant squid is an early antagonist who nearly devours the heroes, but the octopus Hank is a helpful, if grouchy ally.

Aug 4th 2016 at 2:02:14 PM

That was a Humboldt squid not a giant squid.

Nov 22nd 2016 at 3:43:16 PM

Morgenthaler, I'd like to take this draft over too, if it's okay with you.

Nov 22nd 2016 at 5:23:25 PM

The write-up mentions The War Of The Worlds twice: in its own entry and parenthetically in the entry for 'The Sea Raiders'.

Jan 27th 2017 at 5:51:53 PM

Will it be necessary to change "Cephalopod" to "Octopus" in this title too?

Jan 27th 2017 at 9:08:57 PM

  • Freefall: Sam Starfall alternates between this and "annoying comic relief" depending on whether he's wearing his environment suit.

Jan 27th 2017 at 11:15:56 PM

BIONICLE: Kalmah is a member of the villainous Barraki and was mutated by Pit Mutagen into a squid-like humanoid, with five tentacles on his head that allowed him to sense movement and another tentacle on his left hand.

Jan 28th 2017 at 12:56:52 PM

Anime and Manga:

  • One of the most recurring themes of Hentai is about girls being raped by tentacles or monsters with them.

Video Games:

Jan 29th 2017 at 12:13:11 AM

  • Zig-zagged in Shantae Half Genie Hero. The world-ending horror Hypno Baron is summoning is hinted to be one of these. Then he actually finishes the summoning ritual and gets Squid Baron, a Funny Octopus, instead.

Jan 29th 2017 at 12:24:48 AM

^^^ Scary Squids, for alliteration? Or Tentacled Terror, if this does cover tentacled creatures that are not obviously cephalopods (such as Cthulhumanoids and all sorts of monsters with tentacles for scary effect).

Jan 29th 2017 at 12:26:51 AM

Also, under Literature The War Of The Worlds is listed twice.

Jan 29th 2017 at 9:47:43 AM

Well, now I'm confused. There's another draft called Monsters With Tentacles. It covers the idea of "scary tentacled creatures that aren't obviously cephalopods", yet it includes characters who are cephalopods. And some of the examples are written word for word as they are on this draft. Looks like we'll have to find a way to distinguish them better.

Jan 30th 2017 at 4:41:01 AM

^ Yes, we need to either distinguish the two things better, or clump them into the same trope.

If we go for separate tropes, I say let's call this one Scary Squids (or keep the name Terrifying Cephalopods, but that's a bit of Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness), and call the other one either Tentacled Terror, or Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles - and explicitly point out the difference between the two in both Descriptions (and remove the examples that fit the other category better).

Jan 30th 2017 at 9:06:05 AM

^ I love the name Scary Squids for this one, although I would keep it singular.

Jan 31st 2017 at 10:07:30 AM

I renamed that other draft to Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles for now. We should move examples of actual evil cephalopods here and have that just be for tentacles themselves as a source of horror.

Some ideas for the description rewrite for Scary Squids:

Squids and octopi dwell in the deep ocean where they can sometimes reach immense sizes, they move strangely with their incredibly non-human anatomy, and they are remarkably intelligent. Something about these animals is just so plain alien that they easily make for scary creatures in fiction.

Jan 31st 2017 at 10:26:06 AM

The Thing should be moved over to Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles - it's not a squid, it's a monster with many different appendages, including tentacles.

Feb 2nd 2017 at 3:21:08 AM

Should Ursula from The Little Mermaid belong here or to Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles? She looks basically like a human woman with purple skin and tentacles instead of legs, so she probably belongs to the other trope, not this.

Feb 2nd 2017 at 7:25:31 AM

^ I've been trying to decide that, too. According to Disney Wiki, she is based on the mythical cecaelia, half-human and half-octopus. I'm not sure what to do.

Feb 3rd 2017 at 3:23:15 AM

Thinking a bit about it, there will be pretty few examples that are actual cephalopods and not just monsters with tentacles that are not already covered by Giant Squid. Is there any point to keep this?

Feb 6th 2017 at 12:00:27 PM

Will this end up being used at the name for the scary-octopus trope that Everythings Squishier With Cephalopods will be split into?

Feb 8th 2017 at 6:52:31 PM

Feb 8th 2017 at 7:37:54 PM

Web Original

  • Orions Arm has the horror story of the Bitenic Squid, an Uplifted Animal variant created to self-direct its psychological development, totally free of human preconceptions. Rousseau Was... very wrong: the one in a million who achieve coherent thought and communication are total sociopaths with Blue And Orange Morality revolving entirely around their solipsistic interests, and all the more dangerous for it when they find outsiders to exploit.

Mar 5th 2017 at 5:43:49 PM

^^ I think, the "Instant horror blablabla" should be the trope; i.e this draft could be merged into that one.

Mar 5th 2017 at 6:38:59 PM

^ I agree. So, are we good with discarding this once I make sure that the other trope page has all the information that this one has?

EDIT: I just checked, and "Instant Horror" seems to have all this page's information, and then some. I think we can discard this if we don't need it anymore.

EDIT: I was wrong, there's a lot of information in the description here that's missing from the other one. I'll add it now.

Mar 7th 2017 at 2:15:04 AM

This is the one we want to delete, and the "Instant Horror" one is the one we keep, right? I'll toss my bomb to mark this one for deletion.

Apr 8th 2018 at 11:20:42 AM

This still hasn't been resolved. Took back the draft, added an image. Let's fix this weird limbo-status that Everythings Squishier With Cephalopods is currently in.

Apr 8th 2018 at 2:12:33 PM

Video Games

  • In Insaniquarium, Psychosquid, unlike what his name suggests, is a red octopus alien carrying a meat cleaver, a pitchfork and a flyswatter which can invade your aquarium in several later levels of the game.

Apr 8th 2018 at 4:11:25 PM

^^ But what about the other draft about tentacled horrors?

May 15th 2018 at 10:54:30 AM

I agree with Morgenthaler, we've gotta get this situation figured out already.

I vote for discarding this one and keeping the "Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles" one.

May 15th 2018 at 1:15:18 PM

^ Yeah, that seems to b the consensus, except the other one should be renamed Tentacled Terror.

Oct 12th 2018 at 2:21:18 PM

This has been recently unlaunched in response to a rogue launch by someone who didn't even participate in the discussion. Please resolve the still standing issues before launching it.

Oct 25th 2018 at 10:19:21 AM

^^^I'm not noo much of a fan of merging this one with Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles mainly for two reasons:

  • Not every tentacled monster is a cephalopod
  • Not all scary cephalopods are frightening because of their tentacles.

There is also the fact that the Instant X Add Y snowclone reminds me of that dreaded Everything's X with Y family (which we are precisely trying to get rid of with this draft).

Oct 25th 2018 at 1:36:29 PM

^ I tend to agree. The Instant X Add Y and Everything's X with Y snowclones have tended to result in a lot of unfocused tropes boiling down to "there are [Y]s in this work". Everythings Squishier With Cephalopods is a very clear example of that, being openly a list of fictional squids and octopi by now — its sections are literally just "scary cephalopods", "funny cephalopods" and "other cephalopods"; it's essentially two unrelated tropes put in one page together with a list of fictional squid, octopi and cuttlefish. It's not a good page, and I don't like taking the risk of replacing it with more of the same.

Secondly, I also agree that not every tentacled monster is a cephalopod and not every scary cephalopod is scary because they have tentacles.

  • Cthulhu, the other Lovecraftian tentacle things and the tentacle things they went on to inspire — like the Horrorterrors from Homestuck — have little to nothing in common with actual cephalopods, for instance, and are good examples of the first point. So are a large number of tentacled D&D monsters like froghemoths and aboleths.
  • There are several works that portray cephalopods as scary, unnerving or otherwise unpleasant to be around due primarily to their intelligence and alien mindsets — homegrown Starfish Aliens, essentially — more than because of any tentacles they might have. Hell, that's half the reason Angels Devils And Squid is named what it is. The Reapers and Malamar already on this draft are good examples of this. Which reminds me:

Tabletop Games

  • Pathfinder:
    • Krakens are whale-sized squid whose immense magical and psionic power is matched only by their hunger for power, evil and disdain for other species. They are obsessed with rulership and power, are some of the few creatures capable of successfully contesting the equally evil and powerful piscine aboleths for rule of the oceans and storms follow them wherever they go. They are feared by sailors, coastal settlements and marine species alike, and nothing good ever follows a kraken's arrival.
      • Kaktora was an ancient kraken who became so powerful that the demon lord Dagon came to see her as a powerful enough rival for rulership over evil sea creatures to warrant coming to the Material Plane to kill her himself.
      • In recent times, the elder kraken Zhanagorr came to the nation of Wanshou after it was struck by natural disasters likely of his own making, demanding its rulership in return for saving it from destruction and, once firmly in control, turning it into a rain-lashed morass ruled by evil sea creatures.
    • Devilfish are seven-armed squidlike creatures around twelve feet long, and are aggressive and evil predators; although they're physically quite powerful, their most dangerous trait is their high intelligence: they're technically animals, but are cunning enough to set ambushes and craft complex traps. According to myth, the first devilfish were created after Dagon killed Kaktora, arising from the mixing of the demon lord's blood and the kraken's tattered flesh.


  • Dinosaur Comics: T. rex's neighbors are a collection of cephalopods and raccoons whom he is terrified of, and for good reasons. They're creepy and obsessive, practice a number of unsavory hedonistic behaviors — up to and including self-cannibalism — and, according to God, were not part of planned Creation. They were just there one day. Staring.
  • xkcd: One strip describes the many powers and abilities of cuttlefish — besides the tentacles, they're frighteningly smart, can see the polarization of light without mechanical aid, and have biological and incredibly versatile digital display screens for skin, among other things. One character has a nightmare where the biologists studying them realize this and begin breeding and teaching cuttlefish into creatures capable of flying and shooting deadly electric shocks, which they use to take over the world.

Web Original

  • Orions Arm: Bitenic squid are some of the most unnerving and disliked of the setting's many Uplifted Animals. They were created to be as mentally divergent from each other and other sophonts as possible, and to be ultimate survivors. The resulting sapient squid — enhanced by nanotechnology and designed to have their intelligence grow in ways entirely focused on their own desires and survival — are almost universally insane and obsessed by human standards and have no empathy whatsoever, although they're good at pretending they do. They have little society of their own — it's hard to have one when every potential member is effectively a sociopath — they often enhance themselves further into what become effectively organic and highly unpredictable AIs, and a good chunk of galactic society considers their creation and existence to be an outright atrocity.

Oct 25th 2018 at 1:13:04 PM

Oct 26th 2018 at 8:04:49 AM

I think that a living being whose anatomy is just one central largely featureless mass from which multiple non-jointed vaguely serpentine appendages project from is by default unnerving at the very least simply because its form is quite alien from the perspective of us humans, being used to the four-limbed and highly-feature-filled morphology that practically characterizes Vertebrata. This very same reason — the relative alienness of appearance — is a major part of why we are unnerved/grossed out by arthropods.

Nov 25th 2018 at 3:30:52 AM


I feel this one needs to be launched quickly lest it risks being forgotten. It is ready IMO and we really need to get rid of that horrendous Everything's squishier with snowclone.

Nov 26th 2018 at 2:34:13 PM

The last few examples should be added in and perhaps some tweaking of the description might be in order, but this does look pretty launch-ready by this point.

One minor example I just thought of and might as well put here:

Western Animation:

Jan 16th 2019 at 2:58:52 AM

Another bump. Could this be considered Up For Grabs?

Jan 16th 2019 at 3:06:46 AM

One of the cryptids killed by angry villagers in the first season of Kagewani is based on the myth of giant squids. The season suggests that the cryptid is created from abducting nearby humans and turning them into its own.

Jan 16th 2019 at 11:12:40 PM

The main character in Octogeddon is a mean-looking, giant octopus with a Hair Trigger Temper which goes on rampage in various cities around the world, causing major destruction wherever it goes.

Jan 17th 2019 at 1:18:54 AM

^^^ The last time the OP Morgenthaler edited or posted here was on April 8th, 2018. According to the rule on that page, this proposal became Up For Grabs two months later: June 8th, 2018.

Jan 17th 2019 at 12:00:04 PM

^ Then I'd like to grab it. Since I believe it's quite ready, is there any objection to a launch?

Jan 17th 2019 at 1:38:44 PM

^ I don't think it's ready yet. Not much has changed since the trope was rogue-launched several months ago.


Is this the same as Instant Horror, Just Add Tentacles? If not, what is the difference? If the distinction is "actual cephalopods" vs. "monster with tentacles", the description needs to note this. Also, many of the current examples here include tentacle monsters that aren't real cephalopods.

Reading through both drafts, it seemed like Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles was the one more people wanted to keep in the event of a merge. I agree that that name is a bad snowclone but many wanted to rename it to Tentacled Terror, which hasn't been implemented for whatever reason.

Jan 17th 2019 at 1:53:15 PM

^ Reading the draft of Instant Horror, Just Add Tentacles the description of the trope specifically mentions cephalopods in its description, so if anything the Instant Horror Just Add Tentacle draft has a widely inaccurate name.

Not to mention this draft is meant to get rid of one of these horrendous and vague snowclones, so it would be utterly pointless to replace it with another equally bad snowclone.

Though I agree that Tentacled Terror title would be the one that could englobe the aspects of both tropes. I'll try to import the examples of the IH,JAT draft on this one.

Jan 17th 2019 at 7:20:45 PM

Anime And Manga

  • In Gargantia On The Verdurous Planet, the Hideauze are aggressive squid-like monsters engaged in a long war against the Galactic Alliance of Humankind. They are also the descendants of humans who genetically altered themselves to survive in the vacuum of space.

Jan 18th 2019 at 9:07:34 AM

Something occured to me, when this is ready to launch and replaces Everything Is Squishier With Cephalopods, how do we erase the previous trope? It's not now I know, but I'd prefer to know beforehand.

Jan 20th 2019 at 12:56:03 PM

I think that things that are actually cephalopods, or at least based on them, as horrific and evil should be kept separate from other monsters and villains that have tentacles tacked on to make them more scary, even if "Instant Horror, Just Add Tentacles" really needs a rename.

Jan 22nd 2019 at 8:30:18 PM

^^ It would take a lot of work. We'd have to erase every instance of that trope and replace it with this one and Funny Octopus (if we haven't replaced all the funny examples with Funny Octopus already.) Then we would cut Everythings Squishier With Cephalopods.

^Maybe. I do think it's strange that we never got around to discarding this one in favor of "Instant Horror Just Add Tentacles" though. Wasn't that the plan earlier?

Jan 23rd 2019 at 3:50:14 AM

  • The aptly-named Squid, a Dummied Out monster from Unreal, is an octopus which rams and slaps upon its enemies.
    • Some custom maps for the game play with the properties of the creature, increasing its size and HP, giving it ranged attacks, and turning it into a boss or level hazard.

Jan 23rd 2019 at 6:52:07 AM

I though about maybe having both Scary Squid and Instant Horror Just Add Tentacle (with another name oc course)with the first one dealing with regular cephalopods depicted as scary enemies, and the another as a trope dealing with gratuitous entacles added to other creatures (humans, animals or imaginary things) just for the sake of making them creepier.


Jan 23rd 2019 at 7:01:16 AM

That's probably for the best, but for some characters, it might be hard to decide where to put them. Which one would Ursula fall under, for example?

Jan 23rd 2019 at 7:08:55 AM

^ I'd personally place Cecaelias and other tentacled humans in the Gratuitous tentacles - after all those are sorts of Mix and Match Critters and not full cephalopods.

Jan 23rd 2019 at 10:44:34 AM

^^^ If you do that, how many examples will remain that aren't already covered by Giant Squid, or Kraken And Leviathan?

Jan 23rd 2019 at 12:03:53 PM

^Hmm true. However none of these tropes cover the Scary Squids and likes that are not particularly giant.

Thinking about it maybe we should go with the Tentacle Terror thing but separating cephalopods with any other tentacled things (monsters, chimeras, humans, etc) into distinct categories. Just like the Giant Enemy Crab trope.

Jan 28th 2019 at 7:15:51 AM

Unscaled Merfolk has some squid/octopus people too.

Jan 28th 2019 at 10:19:07 AM

It occured to me that we should maybe have a redirect from Scary Squids, since as the successor to Everything Is Squishier With Cephalopods it might be useful to have at least one Cephalopod in one of the trope's name.

Jan 29th 2019 at 2:40:16 AM

  • Path Of Exile: The influence of the Eldritch Abomination known as The Elder on maps in the endgame Atlas of Worlds is represented by a swirling mass of tentacles. Inside Elder-influenced maps, patches of grey tentacles appear on the ground, tentacled monsters can spawn, tentacles can emerge from the ground and slam the player, and tentacled portals can spawn and spew forth a stream of monsters until destroyed. Elder Items have a tentacled background.

Feb 5th 2019 at 7:49:40 AM

Do you all think this is ready for launch? Or is there other problems with this draft?

Feb 5th 2019 at 9:31:38 AM

I think it's good.

Comic Strips:

  • One strip from The Far Side features a boat captain who's confused by the long, steady pull his tethered diver is giving him. The image shows a huge mass of tentacles emerging from the cave enveloping (and likely eating) the diver.


  • Problem Sleuth:
    • Fluthlu from is a large tentacle-covered monster that emerges from certain windows when they are unplugged. Despite being described as an Eldrich Abomination, his size and general killability make him more of an Elite Mook.
    • When the Mobster Kingpin goes One Winged Angel and unleases his Demonhead form, he grows a ton of tentacles which are used to attack and embarrass the sleuths, turning into a sort of enormous and terrifying man-wasp-octopus hybrid.
  • Homestuck: The Gods of the Furthest Ring or Horrorterrors are an array of creepy, enormous tentacled monsters that live in outer space and whisper to certain players. While generally portrayed as unnerving, they're implied to be more Beyond Good And Evil, eating ghosts to maintain the balance of the multiverse, rather like a deep sea predator. Feferi's lusus, Gl'bgolyb, is implied to be one of the Horrorterrors, and is portrayed as an enormous mass of tentacles with a squid-like beak.

Feb 5th 2019 at 11:34:26 AM

Quick question though does anyone know where the picture comes from? The only link in this thread leads to an error page on Deviantart and I wouldn't want to use an image like this without persmission. I'll try to find another one.

Feb 5th 2019 at 11:53:27 AM

Combat Tentacles could use a mention somewhere in the description.

Feb 5th 2019 at 1:59:05 PM

  • Zigzagged in Neopets: Tiny Giant Squids are kept as pets, Small, Large, and Giant Giant Squids are eaten, but Tyrannical Giant Squids are seen as dangerous.
  • In Hectors World, a squid is an evil Con Man and leader of a criminal gang. Octopi are also seen as antagonists when characters imagine shady people.

Feb 6th 2019 at 1:28:06 PM

Does the Sentinels from The Matrix count? They're tentacled Starfish Robots and they're commonly played for horror.

Feb 6th 2019 at 2:03:46 PM

I don't like the image change

Feb 6th 2019 at 2:41:43 PM

^It is probably not final but at least this one has a clear source. As stated above, the previous one was seemingly taken from a disappeared Deviant Art and couldn't be credited.

Feb 13th 2019 at 1:24:31 PM

Not sure where this new image is coming from, but if that's the only problem, we can take it to Image Pickin' after launching. Aside from that, I think it's ready to launch.

Feb 13th 2019 at 1:38:35 PM

^ I drew it myself (the previous one arbiter099 commented on negatively was from Mario Galaxy). Posted it on my tumblr, too, but I'm not sure if I have to cite it.

I'll launch the trope this week-end then.

Feb 13th 2019 at 2:31:40 PM

^Oh. Well, good job. XD

I think you should definitely cite it. People are gonna want to know the image source.

Feb 13th 2019 at 7:49:16 PM

It's a very nice drawing, but I'm not sure if it really illustrates. The bright colors don't seem very creepy or menacing.


  • In Dinosaur Comics, T-Rex is very creeped out by his perpetually offscreen cephalopod neighbors, who make unnerving sexual and cannibalistic comments.

Feb 14th 2019 at 9:50:46 AM

Another Doctor Who example. The enemy of the missing serial "Fury From the Deep" is a semi-mobile seaweed creature which had tentacles.