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Alluring Anglerfish

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Deep-sea anglerfish are fishes well-known for their luminescent lures, used to attract prey amidst the ocean's dark depths. They, or creatures with similar lures on their head, are often used in media because of the surprise value: the lure seems nice and pretty at first, but turns out to be a trap set by a horrifying creature with More Teeth than the Osmond Family. (It also helps that Real Life deep-sea anglerfish are one of the more hideous-looking deep-water beasts.)

Anglerfish are easily susceptible to an Animal Gender-Bender, as in real life the deep-sea varieties possess one of the most extreme cases of Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The image that most people think of is actually the female anglerfish; males of this sort have no lures, and are smaller than the females ... much smaller. At one point in history, scientists even believed them to be separate species. The male's life consists entirely of locating a female, then attaching itself to the female's body like a parasite, turning into a spare pair of gonads so that the female can reproduce. Now you know.

Frogfishes, monkfishes, and sea toads are also anglerfishes, but they seldom appear in the media, as these species live in shallower waters and their lures don't glow in the dark, making them less visually-intriguing (they are considered just as ugly by most people though).


For Video Games, see also the Chest Monster, a creature that lures unsuspecting players through an attractive disguise of its own.

Sub-Trope of Fiendish Fish. Related to Bioluminescence Is Cool. Usually found in the Eldritch Ocean Abyss.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • One of the earliest enemies in Bleach is a hollow nicknamed "Grand Fisher" — he has a monstrous body that could hide very well and a long feeler that could take human shape to serve as bait.
  • The Puuchuu Queen in the horror film episode of Excel Saga, except her light was another Puuchuu. She also looked like the Alien Queen from Aliens.
  • Sisters Mimi and Sheshe from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch ARE angler fish. And considering the description of males above, that explains why they're lesbians...
  • One Piece: On their way to Fishman Island, the Strawhat pirates met a gargantuan angler named Ankoro ("anko" in Japanese means "angler fish").
  • Shinkaigyo no Anko-san tranforms this hideous anglerfish into an adorable little mermaid girl. It's implied that her species does "fuse" to reproduce, as mentioned above, and her lure normally looks like a big round shiny pearl capable of stunning people with its light, though in one chapter she reveals it can also split apart into a cluster of smaller tentacles tendrils, each tipped with its own glowing lure. In this state, it practically hypnotizes people into embracing her, much to Anko's embarrassment.
  • In Yaiba, we have Yakitori, one of Onimaru's Shitenno in the Onimaru's Fortress arc. It actually has a Japanese paper lantern attached to it, and he's very proud of it. Oh, and don't call him "Toadstool"....

    Comic Books 
  • Empowered has a supervillain called Anglerfish (and his son). Anybody who looks into their lures sees their greatest desire (Anglerfish claimed that his son only ever used it to get laid).

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: One cartoon has a man peering into an alley at a giant set of jaws with a tongue shaped like a beer bottle.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Erik the Viking has a scene where the Vikings see a glowing, swaying globe that they think is the sun (which they've never seen because Fenrir the wolf swallowed it). Turns out that what they're actually looking at is an anglerfish-type lure attached to the great Dragon of the North Sea.
  • The moorwen in Outlander operates like this, hiding in the darkness of the woods, flourishing some of the lights on its tail and skin to attract prey. When it goes red, somebody's dead.


    Live-Action TV 
  • The angler fish was crowned as The Most Extreme in "Oddities" (the male), "Appendages" (again the male), and "Night Lights".
  • Ultraman Leo: Flying Saucer Creature Hangler was an angler-like kaiju that hid underground with only its lure and maw disguised as a traffic light and a tunnel to lure unsuspecting drivers into its maw. If that didn't work, its Vacuum Mouth would do the trick.

  • The Agonist's song "Dead Ocean" mentions one in its lyrics: "The moon mocks you with a knowing grin. Or is that the lure of a distant angler fish? Was your role fulfilled? Was that it? Are you face up or face down?"

    Other Sites 
  • SCP Foundation
    • SCP-968 ("Tar Baby"). SCP-968 hunts humans by altering part of itself to mimic a baby or small child to lure in rescuers.
    • SCP-1305 ("Cat Lure"). SCP-1305 can create a lure that appears to be one of its past victims, such as a cat or a human being. It uses the lure to draw human beings close to it so it can attack and eat them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Warhammer Gaiden Game Dreadfleet introduces the Orb Leviathan, which is basically a combination of an anglerfish and a whale that is big enough to swallow a massive warship whole. Its lure glows green, which causes some to mistake it for warpstone.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • A magran is a big, ethereal "anglerfish" (actually a legless reptile) native to the Ethereal Plane. Its light is visible farther than it has any right to be in ethereal fog and creatures who sees it are entranced and thus become easy morsels; the critter itself is not only hideously tough, but turns invisible at will (cannot extend this to freshly swallowed prey, though).
    • One old Dragon article of fan-submitted monsters included a predatory fish-creature with a dorsal fin that, unfurled at the surface, resembled a drowning woman struggling in the waves: ready Schmuck Bait for a passing potential rescuer.
    • Another monster that hunts similarly to an anglerfish is the wolf-in-sheep's-clothing. It looks like a small fluffy rabbit-like creature, but that is only its lure. The monster's real body is disguised as a tree stump.
    • Lantern sea serpents have anglerfish-like lures on their heads, which presumably help them use hypnotic pattern to incapacitate prey.
  • Exalted: One of the mini-comics depicted a Wyld-mutated anglerfish hunting humans using a baby as bait. Exalted is weird like that.
  • Kingdom Death, being the kind of game it is, has two monsters with anglerfish-like lures: the Gorm, which otherwise looks like a cross between a pachyderm and a giant baby, and the Spidicules, a Giant Spider with a humanlike face, which uses the torso of one of its victims as a lure. Sometimes, said victim isn't dead yet.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The game has a Phyrexian Horror called "Tangle Angler". It's a biomechanical anglerfish mounted on many deformed, stiltlike legs, with the gameplay rule that any creature it targets must block it, symbolizing it being taken in by the angler's lure.
    • The Return to Innistrad block includes the card Grizzled Angler, which transforms into Grisly Anglerfish as a result of the Eldrazi titan Emrakul's Body Horror. The latter is an enormous, monstrous anglerfish with a living human head for a lure, and the rule that any enemy creature that can attack must attack.
    • The Khans of Tarkir block has unleashed another called "Gurmag Angler", a zombified version which lives in the swamps of the Sultai Brood and uses a fleshy lure shaped vaguely like a human being in order to eat the Sultai's zombie slaves that populate the area.
    If everything in the Gurmag Swamp hungers for human flesh, what bait could be more effective?
  • Monsterpocalypse has a Kaiju-size one named Anglax, trained by the Atlanteans to attack human coastal population centres so they can sink them and move in. Monsterpocalypse is weirder like that.
  • Numenera: Spiny schisans, eel-like predators found in the ocean depths, are a variation. While they do have a glowing lure at the tip of a stalk on their chin, their main way of attracting prey is with the kite-shaped, red and yellow fin at the end of their tail. Through their low-level telepathy, they make it seem like something a viewer swears they recognize from somewhere. The resulting psychic call lures passersby in to investigate and stumble right into the schisan's mouth.
  • Ceratioidi in Pathfinder are humanoid anglerfish. They can use the lure growing from their heads to mesmerize other creatures. Someone entranced by a ceratioidi's lure will stare at it in stupefied fascination, even if there were fighting its owner moments before, until the ceratioidi actually attacks them. Like the real creatures, the humanoid is the female, while males are intelligent parasitic eels the size of a rat. Combined, they can use both their minds to share the body, which means they can wield two weapons with no penalties and have an easier time multiclassing.

    Video Games 
  • Aquaria has some particularly nasty ones in The Abyss, which, other than trying to attack you, consumes the other benign creatures that normally help you (or at least look pretty).
  • Giant angler fish live in the deep oceans of ARK: Survival Evolved. Both sexes have glowing lures and are large enough to put a saddle on and ride. They have an increased gather rate for pearls, but are slower and weaker than many of the oceans' other denizens. The Aberration DLC also has the Bulbdog, a friendly dog-like mutant with an anglerfish-like face and glowing lure which can be used for light and to ward off darkness-loving creatures.
  • Banjo-Tooie: Lord Woo Fak Fak is the boss of Jolly Roger's Lagoon, being a gigantic anglerfish with some luminiscent weak spots, and can be found in Davy Jones' Locker (itself found in the deepest region of the sea). His lure contains a Jiggy.
  • The Battle Cats has an anglerfish enemy named Henry, but it's otherwise not an example. Instead of luring anything with his light, Henry uses his light to shine a beam on far-away Cats, freezing them in place.
  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, the Lady of the Crypt is a massive arthropod with a woman-shaped appendage on its forehead. The "woman" serves as a relatively simple opponent in the first stage of the fight before the main body reveals itself for an epic Colossus Climb.
  • Champions Online includes both a single angler lure, and a DUAL angler lure as optional costume parts when designing characters.
  • The Siren in Darkest Dungeon has a lure on her head, and is able to enchant your teammates and use them against the rest of the party.
  • Devil May Cry 4: The boss Dagon (as well as his identical brother Bael and entire species), has the ability to create darkness and disappear into it, leaving the only part visible his antennae/lures-which resemble beautiful, naked nymphs called Rusalka who play with each other to entice victims to get within striking range. Nero, being the serious-minded one of the protagonists, doesn't have much of a reaction to their attempts at seduction. Dante, on the other hand, provides one of the more hilarious scenes in the game when he comes across them.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest: Glimmer, although it's a subversion in that it's not hideous-looking and actually helps the Kongs by providing light. There is a similar tadpole character in Donkey Kong 64.
  • Don't Starve: Depths worms are enormous subterranean predators who spend most of their time buried just underground, with only their stalked, luminescent berry-like lure visible in the darkness of the caves. When someone comes along to investigate, seeks shelter in the light, or tries to harvest the "berry", the depths worm bursts from the ground and attacks.
  • In the Cambrian stage of E.V.O.: Search for Eden, you can evolve to have an Angler Horn, which lures prey closer to you.
  • One of the new creatures in the Fallout 4 expansion Far Harbor is the Angler, which appears to be a mutated anglerfish. It hides in shallow water, where its lure looks similar to lure-weed plants. Rather than trying to lure people in, they just try to wait until unsuspecting prey passes by, then pop out of the water and start spitting fireballs at it.
  • Subverted in Feeding Frenzy 2: Shipwreck Showdown, as while Edie the Anglerfish uses its esca to hunt down smaller fishes, they are not attracted to its light.
  • Final Fantasy VI is a partial example, as while its "Angler Whelk" is a giant snail, it has an angler fish's lure, from which hangs a treasure chest.
  • In Gem Smashers, the boss of Poseidonia is an anglerfish. To damage it, your character must hit the lure when they are both the same color.
  • Grandia featured one of these as a boss — a giant fish, with a generically pretty mermaid on a feeler as a lure. It had a tendency to cast a charm spell on the male main character.
  • The Sea Monster from Heroes of Might and Magic IV's appearance is inspired by an angler fish. It is also one of the single deadliest enemies in the game, and one of only two creatures that cannot under any circumstance end up as part of the player's army in the original game. Its special ability is an instant kill attachment to an already powerful normal attack which swallows several victims whole, barring resurrection, which is quite a hindrance for otherwise incredibly powerful hero units.
  • Hollow Knight: Nosk the optional spider boss lures you toward its arena with a lookalike of your character attached to one of its legs. According to the Hunter's Journal and last thoughts of the corpses outside Nosk's lair, many of its victims thought they'd found long-deceased loved ones.
  • Inverted by Insaniquarium's Gumbo, who protects your guppies.
  • Deep Dive Deep, a level from Kirby's Epic Yarn, ends with the poor pink flufferoo escaping from the jaws of an anglerfish made entirely out of buttons and pipe cleaners. Its lure appears to be a grabbable patch. How evil. The first angler fish Kirby encounters in the game are harmless, one blocking the way to Deep Dive Deep.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • That valuable red Rupee standing in the middle of nowhere, ready for the grab? Most likely a shield-eating Like-Like's Rupee-shaped appendage.
    • One of these serves as a boss in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening.
    • Jabun from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker resembles a mix between an anglerfish and a catfish. His lure, which resembles a man-made lantern hanging from a tendril, appears to be purely decorative.
  • The Legends of Owlia: One of the enemy types you face in the game are anglerfish that float above the ground.
  • Lurerre the Abysroid, one of the Mega Man ZX bosses is based on an angler fish. Or rather, she's based on the light of an angler fish. Her lure half is a cute (though not really Humanoid), Mermaid-shaped Pseudoroid, while her fish half is huge, mechanical, ugly, and juuuuuust off screen most of the time. We're not actually sure which is technically considered her "true" body. This actually shows up in strategy for fighting her, because the "light" part is a weak point — and if you try to go for it, the monster will come out and get you.
  • Monster Eye has an underwater level where you battle a giant anglerfish (larger than most submarines) as a boss.
  • Monster Hunter 3 (Tri): The Gobul is largely modeled after actual anglerfish, most notably having a large lantern dangling off the front of its hit. Although it fits the trope, it interestingly does not use its lantern as the lure. Instead, it burrows itself into the soil and lures cow-sized herbivores in by disguising its catfish-like barbels as plants, and then it proceeds to swallow them whole with its enormous mouth (it will also casually inhale small schools of fish if they group around it). The lantern, meanwhile, is just used to blind its enemies with bright flashes.
  • Charybdis, the boss of the third level in The Ocean Hunter.
  • In Octogeddon, the Anglerfish tentacle continuously emits a powerful light beam which can reveal hidden enemies.
  • The inside of Dark Bramble in Outer Wilds has a thick fog, with the only way to navigate is to follow distant lights. Each light is either a portal or an anglerfish that will try to eat you.
  • Pokémon: Chinchou and its evolution Lanturn, although its appearance is also based on a dolphin. They happen to be the rare Water/Electric types. Unsurprisingly, one of its abilities is "Illuminate", which raises the likelihood of meeting wild Pokémon. They are, however, cute.
  • Shovel Knight has the midboss of the Iron Whale stage, it's huge and has a relic chest for a lure. After killing it, you can inspect the chest to find that it really is a relic chest with Chester inside.
  • The Abyss in SOMA includes an anglerfish that's been mutated by Structure Gel to the point that it's large enough to swallow a man whole. It also doubles as Schmuck Bait, as the player is supposed to follow a trail of lamps to cross the deep-sea terrain.
  • A blue bullet-shaped creature from Yoshi's Island DS has a green Yoshi egg hanging from the tip of its antenna.
  • zOMG!: the Robofish's appearance is based on anglerfish, only robotic.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad E-mail "animal", one of the ideas Strong Bad has for what he'd be if he were an animal would be "one of those deep-sea fangly fishes". Its lure was Homestar's head, which offered free puppies, ginger snaps, and pocket PCs. Since Homestar's head wasn't luminous, the fish had Christmas lights all over its body. And it had a back deck "for dinner and dancing", though after Strong Bad remembered he was re-imagining himself as the animal, he realized he couldn't really take advantage of that deck.
  • RWBY has a Kaiju Scary Scorpion having this effect on Jaune, who mistook the glowing stinger as the relic he was seeking.

  • In Oglaf comic "Bugfuck", a praying mantis female lies to lure a male into mating with her so she can eat him. In the epilogue comic, an anthropomorphic anglerfish in a bathrobe accurately describes the mating habits of her species, then mocks the reader for assuming every Funny Animals story is a thinly-veiled satire of the human condition. The male anglerfish is depicted with a glowing lure, but this might just be to verify that he's the same species as the female.
  • The Unspeakable Vault (of Doom): Even Cthulhoo knows how to use the trick, using a giant luminescent squid as lure.
  • White Dark Life: Nessie is an angler fish mermaid with a peculiar level of intelligence.

    Web Original 
  • Bogleech's Mortasheen section has a few fish... "things" with angler-like protuberances, such as one that looks like a comely woman, or one with fleshy, glowing "fruits" that enslave those who eat some so the monster has servants/bloodbags to use at its convenience. For those brave enough to go and explore the site: sweet dreams.
    • A variant of the "woman on a lure" also appeared in a sequence of zombie-related strips.
      • And again in one of the animated shorts.
  • Carmilla the Series Eldritch Abomination/fish god Lophiiformes (whose name is literally the biological family to which anglerfish belong).
  • Hank Green's "A Song About An Anglerfish"—a song that first appeared on VlogBrothers—is probably the only song in existence that details the mating patterns of anglerfish.
  • SCP Foundation has a horrific land-based variation. SCP-745, "The Headlights", are bioluminescent nocturnal predators that hunt in pairs, resembling the headlights of a car at a distance. Rather than luring their human prey in, they instead challenge them to a deadly Game of Chicken by sprinting at oncoming cars at speeds over 100 mph, running the panicked drivers off the road and leaving them vulnerable to attack.

    Western Animation 
  • In The Adventures of Puss in Boots, Puss tries to rescue a princess only to find that it is actually a monster that traps heroes with a princess-shaped lure.
  • Ben 10: Ripjaws has a lure on his head like an anglerfish.
  • In one episode of Bunnicula, the animals decide to hire a monster to give the humans in the apartment a supernatural experience. They end up settling on a ghost that just looks like a small sphere with a goofy face, because all of the other monsters were too scary. It turns out that the ghost ball is actually the lure of a giant anglerfish-like monster that can make the rest of its body invisible, who then tries eat the humans instead after being told he is not scary enough.
  • The Futurama episode "The Deep South" includes a gag in which Zoidberg spots a delicious-looking worm that turns out to be the lure of one of those non-phosphorescent lures mentioned in the trope description.
    • In a future year that ends with a 20 (351120 AD, to be exact), Farnsworth, Bender, and Fry see a watery wimp of a mermaid who is in fact part of a large, bloodthirsty shrimp.
  • In Season 2 of The Legend of Korra, Tenzin, Bumi, and Kya encounter one of these in the spirit world.
  • The Simpsons fell prey to an angler fish in one Couch Gag. (Its lure looked like a couch.)
  • Several anglerfish intimidate SpongeBob SquarePants in the episode "Rock Bottom" while he's waiting in line. He's never seen any fish like that before, because he's from much shallower water.
  • On The Tick, one of the denizens of the Absurdly Spacious Sewer is a kind of angler with "a living wallet" as a lure.
  • Considering the Kratt brothers' love of weird creatures, especially weird sea creatures, it's no surprise that Wild Kratts has featured anglerfish more than once. The current page image is taken from an episode about deep-sea creatures, while another episode featured "Rocketjaw" the frogfish, and showed off the frogfish's ability to swallow a prey animal faster than the eye can follow.

    Real Life 
  • Anglerfish are not the only animals that use a part of their body as bait to lure in prey. Snapping turtles have a tongue that resembles a worm which they wiggle around to attract fish into their mouths.
  • Although anglerfishes are most famous for doing so, there are lots of kinds of deep-water predators that use bioluminescence to attract prey: the deep-sea anglers are really only unusual in that they display their lures on such specialized appendages.
  • The cookiecutter shark even inverts this strategy, sporting photophores on its belly that conceal its body against the overhead brightness of the surface, except for a small patch on its chest that looks like the silhouette of a much smaller fish. When other predators investigate, the shark nips a bite from them.