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Attack of the Monster Appendage

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The characters of a story are confronted by a large tentacle or appendage of an unseen, bigger monster who's threatening them or binding them where they stand. However, whether for deliberate suspense or lack of budget, the tentacled monster will never appear, even if the heroes manages to hack off/harm the tentacle.

This is usually played, as said above, for suspense and possibly horror. Of course it's not strictly limited to tentacled monsters: It can be played with a gigantic arm or leg belonging to an unseen beast, but usually Stock Ness Monster types are quite popular. Sometimes it even looks like the tentacle is the actual monster. In case of giant Man-Eating Plant the plant itself may act as a tentacle of sort.


This can occur in two different forms:

  • Type 1: Only the limb/tentacle is shown and interacted with, but the rest of the body remains a total mystery.
  • Type 2: While the whole creature is shown later (thus killing the suspense part), its appendages are shown before and moving independently on their own, as if they were a different monster altogether.

Sea creatures often have these, especially Krakens and Leviathans. Supertrope of Giant Foot of Stomping and Giant Hands of Doom; subtrope of Organ Autonomy. See also Combat Tentacles and Tentacle Rope.

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Type 1 Examples:

  • A Farmers insurance commercial shows various property being threatened or destroyed in bizarre ways, including a brand-new minivan being crushed by a gigantic furry paw.

    Comic Books 
  • The cover for a Dylan Dog/Martin Mystery crossover features our heroes ensnared by the tentacles of an unseen monster/machine.
  • The Lure in the Greyshirt mini-series: a spinoff from Tomorrow Stories.
  • In a Swamp Thing tie in to Crisis on Infinite Earths, a group of the DC's most powerful magic users, including the god like Spectre, do battle with the Original Darkness, a vast, alien being that existed before the universe. They all fail to impede it, and they eventually make a horrifying discovery: they haven't been fighting the Darkness. They've been fighting its thumb.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Cabin in the Woods, writhing branches reaching out of an elevator is all that's seen of the Evil Molesting Tree. The final shot of the film shows a monstrous arm reaching out of the ground, which is all that's shown of the Ancient Ones that are rising to wipe out humanity.
  • Conan the Barbarian (2011) has said barbarian fighting the tentacles of an unseen Eldritch Abomination.
  • The 2007 film of The Mist contains a scene in which a single large tentacle attacks several people in the loading dock of a grocery store. In the end they see a huge four-legged monster sporting a bunch of these tentacles all over his belly/downside area. Note that these two weren't linked in the book, which had the tentacles but in the end only a monster so large, the mist prevented them from seeing the legs end.
  • In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, eventually we see the whole Kraken, but most of the time it's just tentacles rising from the water. A half-version is used in the first film, where a normal-sized appendage (an arm) gets removed from its owner and proceeds to attack Governor Swan on its own.
  • Star Wars has done this a few times.
    • In A New Hope, there's the garbage monster, the Dianoga. We only ever see one of its eyestalks pope out of the rubbish, and then one of its tentacles, the latter of which grabs Luke and drags him underneath the surface. Shown in the EU to be a squid-like monstrous alien octopus.
    • In Return of the Jedi, when Threepio is being led down into the dungeon, something's tentacle emerges from a cell and grabs his neck. One of the Gamorrean guards escorting him beats the thing back. Return of the Jedi also features the Sarlacc, which is only ever seen as a giant, tentacle-filled mouth (and in the Special Edition an inner mouth with a beak) that grab victims and drag them down into the mouth to eat.
  • Grave Encounters has one scene where the titular ghosthunting crew is attacked by a series of ghostly black arms reaching out of the walls and ceiling. An earlier scene shows one of the characters being grabbed by an arm that bursts through a door window.

  • Lone Wolf: One of the monsters found in Castle Death is a giant verrucose fist occupying most of the passageway, which crushes Tavig to death. The full monster is never seen.
  • The Citadel of Chaos has a massive tentacle from an unseen, underground monster pretending to be a barrow in the courtyard of the titular fortress. Even after killing the tentacle, you're left in the dark about the nature of the owner.
  • La Saga du Prêtre Jean: One of the encounters in Temujin's abode in The Desert of Death is a fight against a mass of rubbery tentacles breaking the floor under your feet and trying to drag you to the watery abyss under the mansion.

  • The Reveal of "Under the Pyramids" by H. P. Lovecraft is that the five-headed creature that the narrator sees crawling out of the abyss (and which is implied to be the inspiration for the Sphinx) is merely the forepaw of some vastly larger Eldritch Abomination.
  • Stephen King's The Mist: Some of the men decide to go outside to try to fix the generator. As soon as the door opens, a very much one-sided fight ensues with several tentacles before they snatch their prey and sink back into the mist. Also at the end of the book the survivors encounters a giant animal so big that only his legs are visible in the mist.
    • In King's short story "The Moving Finger" the protagonist is confronted and attacked by a bizarre, multijointed finger poking out of the drain in his apartment's bathroom sink. After cutting it of, he starts thinking about the creature to which it must have been attached. Eventually, the police arrive and something starts lifting the toilet lid. The officer goes to the toilet to investigate and the story ends.
  • The Swamp Monster from The Sword of Shannara. Unlike other examples what seems to be his body does surface, but we never get a good look or description.
  • The Lord of the Rings has the Watcher in the Water, of which only tentacles are ever seen. Gandalf and Frodo aren't even sure whether it's one creature or several. (The trope is averted in Peter Jackson's film adaptation, where we see more of the creature.)
  • Bel-Shamaroth from The Colour of Magic. While he's mentioned from the beginning, only his tentacles are shown, and about the rest of his body, we only see a glimpse of his gigantic eye.
  • The My Teacher Is an Alien series introduces "Big Julie", a massive alien who fills an entire room. Opening the door will reveal nothing but a massive eyeball filling the whole door frame. However, Julie is able to maneuver to some degree, as it can turn around enough to put its mouth at the door instead, allowing it to be fed buckets of swamp water.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Thing from The Addams Family. Averted in the films, where Thing is nothing but a disembodied hand and wrist.
  • Angel: "Supersymmetry" has a mass of tentacles that pops out of a portal and picks up Angel and Fred. We never see if it had a body, but each tentacle has its own pincer mouth on the end.
  • In the British No Budget sci-fi series Blake's 7, a giant claw reaches through the door to attack someone in the episode "Weapon".
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Multiple Head Case Hellmouth Demon seen in "Prophecy Girl" and "The Zeppo".
  • Doctor Who:
    • The first thing we ever saw of the creature inside a Dalek was its claw peeking out from under the cloak that it was wrapped in. In the TV serial, the claw was a gorilla glove with Vaseline smeared over it; in the later Peter Cushing movie, it was far more reptilian.
    • For that matter, the first view of a Dalek ever was a POV shot of one's suction-cup arm ominously approaching a horror-stricken Barbara. Cue audiences frantically discussing what might be at the other end.
  • In the "Salvation Fuzz" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus (aka "Church Police" or "Bishop on the Landing") after the police pray for God to reveal the culprit, a giant hand comes down from on high to point to the culprit. Sometimes when they did the sketch during live shows the hand didn't point to the right person.
  • The Munsters' pet dragon Spot. Usually, the only thing shown were his glowing eyes and teeth seen under the staircase. When he gets loose in one episode, all we see is the tip of his tail.
  • Tales from the Darkside: At the end of the episode "Seasons of Belief", two monstrous arms break through the windows of a room, killing a husband and wife in front of their two young children.
  • In Tremors: The Series, only part of the giant shrimp-monster is ever seen above the water.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ravenloft has the Eldritch Abomination Gwydion, who/which appears as a mass of tentacles emerging from a dimensional rift. Even Word of God has stated that what lies behind is a complete mystery.
  • Dungeons & Dragons module G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King. If a certain specific ceremony is carried out near the altar of the Elder Elemental God, that deity will send one of its tentacles out of the altar to grab the closest living creature as a sacrifice.
  • Call of Cthulhu's Dreamlands setting, adventure "Yellow Sails". When Mironim-Mer activates the Oracle Mirror, the wendigo demon possessing it sends out a tentacle to grab him.
  • There's a few monsters in the Munchkin series like this, such as Squidzilla, the Unspeakably Awful Indescribable Horror, and the Big Ole Planet Eater Guy. Also "Big Foot" for the humanoid limbs variety.

    Video Games 
  • In Battle for Wesnoth there's a monster who's basically this: the tentacle of a larger, unseen underwater monster.
  • In Warcraft III the Faceless Ones can summon huge, spiky tentacles at will from the ground. In World of Warcraft, they and their Old God masters continue this. The Old Gods are buried and of unknown size, so what tentacles are part of what creature, and what these creatures look like, are mostly unknown. Cataclysm adds massive mouth creatures that we never see all of.
  • Legacy of Kain: Defiance has some spiky tentacles pop out of the ground in order to drag Raziel to the other world.
  • In the Diablo II expansion Baal can summon a trio of tentacles to harass the player during the final battle.
  • Ninja: Shadow of Darkness: During the graveyard/ghost city level, you're required to cross a bridge spanning over a river where underneath it, the scythe-like claws of some unseen horror lunges out from its bottom. You'll need to move fast to avoid getting sliced apart by the claws, but even after you completed the level you never get to see what kind of monster those claws are attached to...
  • Dragon's Lair featured a room which is gradually filled by the green tentacles of a massive monster from upstairs. Also the "Eyeworms" in the moat behaves much like tentacles.
  • In Rayman 2: The Great Escape there are some giant skeletal limbs in some level which will drag you inside their coffins.
  • Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle actually have Green and Purple Tentacles as living, independent tentacle-people.
  • One monster from Dragonquest VIII is a hand made of mud, said to belong to a larger mud monster who lives underground.
  • The Echidna from Legendary: The Box appears as a massive green tentacle/s who appears three times during the game and tries to drag the hero underground, where it can devour him. Considering that the original Echidna was a Snake Woman that might be her tail.
  • Dead Space has a a huge tentacle that pops out at least three times on the Ishimura and tries to drag Isaac towards a gruesome doom.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a hand reaching out from underneath a bathroom asks for your help. The owner of the hand is never seen.
  • In the 1983 Dino Eggs game, if you didn't have a fire burning the dinosaur mom (whose eggs and hatchlings you were stealing) would try to stamp you flat with her leg. You only ever saw the leg, not the dinosaur mom herself. Watch it here.
  • In God of War II and God of War III there are the Arms of Hades: a swarm of (left) hands coming out of the ground to pull Kratos into the depths of Hades.
  • In Banjo-Tooie, there is a dinosaur in Terrydactlyland whose only visible portion is its foot, as it's too large to depict otherwise. It constantly tries to stomp you if you wander into its "Stomping Grounds."
  • Castlevania:
  • Monster Bash has the livid hands coming out of the walls in order to toss knives at the hero.
  • The Kraken in Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict appears as long tentacles that move on their own.
  • In Prince of Persia (2008), you fight the Final Boss Arhiman from his point of view, and you can only see his huge, dark hands.
  • In the fan remake of King's Quest II if you choose the wrong books in Calduar's library, two green tentacles appear from the library and take you away with them to be eaten.
  • "Reapervines" (and similar tentacles) in the Metroid Prime series are stated to be appendages of some larger creature, but said "larger creature" is never actually encountered.
  • One of the obstacles in Half-Life 1 is a mass of gigantic alien tentacles sticking out of a rocket silo. Your guns only slightly annoy whatever it is, so you will need a bigger weapon. like the rocket in the rocket silo.
  • One of the high-level summoning spells in Dungeon Crawl opens a portal, out of which appears a multiple-space-long tentacle that attacks your enemies. After a time, the portal closes, severing the tentacle, which then turns on you until it dies a little while later.
  • The second installment of Fatal Frame has ghosts that grip on the twins and attempt to drag them away. They mostly appear on the bridge that connects to the Kurosawa residence and, even though Mio can photograph them to make them go away, they only appear as hands phasing through the bridge. The first installment also had ghostly hands coming out of the floor, but they were extremely rare-to-see entities.
  • In The Binding of Isaac, you never see the whole Mom Boss. Instead, you only see her legs, hands and eyes, And later inner organs and heart.
  • Tales of Symphonia has Coffin Masters: little hooded guys that resemble Jawas from Star Wars with huge coffins on their backs. Whatever is inside is clearly way too big to fit in there and never steps out, but can do everything from kick with a cloven hoof, whip with its lizard tail, and yank a party member inside to do God only knows what with its huge arm.
  • In the SNES game based off of The Pagemaster, the gigantic fist of Frankenstein's monster will emerge from holes in the wall to try and pound Kevin into oblivion. Only the big fist is ever seen, never the entire monster, and, judging by the hand's scale versus that of Kevin, the whole monster must be big enough to fight King Kong!
  • From [PROTOTYPE] we have the Hydras, wich are enormous tentacles with giant jaws that they use to throw objects (Most commonly cars and trucks). Anything below the tentacle is a mystery, but there are hints they are somehow connected to Elizabeth Greene or at least the giant bloody entity she uses to fight against Blackwatch and Alex.
  • In Space Quest II, if you get too close to the occupied prison cells on Vohaul's space station, the monster hands crush you.
  • Resident Evil has vines of Plant 42 that emerge from the floor in the guest house. Similarly, in Resident Evil – Code: Veronica, there are large tentacles in the Antarctic Base that are actually part of a T-Veronica mutated plant controlled by Alexia.
  • Dungeons: the sequel has a Demon trap consisting in a massive tentacle poking out of the ground, best placed in the middle of a 3x3 room, that flails at intruders for a while, and can be powered up into a more massive, shelled version. The expansion adds the Undead, who have a similar trap in the form of a gigantic skeletric arm. The following game has the tentacle as a researchable spell that blocks a corridor tile and lashes at heroes.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, a series of massive brown tentacles emerging from a canal reveal the presence of a giant octopus luring inside. After feeding it a crab, the tentacles will stop emerging, meaning that you can safely cross the canal.
  • In Yooka-Laylee, you never see the whole body of Trev the Tenteyecle; only tentacles and occasionally peeking eyeball.


    Western Animation 
  • "The thing with no name" that resides in a lake inside a cave where the Truffle Trolls live in The Smurfs episode "A Mere Truffle".
  • Cecil from Beany and Cecil was never shown in full. This was justified when it was a puppet show, but it was kept when it became an animated show. Word of God is that Cecil's body was kept a mystery on purpose.
  • In The Trapdoor, the many fearsome creatures which break through the titular trapdoor to inconvenience Berk and friends include a set of enormous, inquisitive tentacles, which briefly barge in to cause havoc.
    Berk: Who asked you in?

Type 2 Examples:

    Anime and Manga 
  • In FLCL, the first enemy that Canti is seen fighting is pretty much just an arm, albeit a strong one. The next episode, we see the rest of the robot, using an undersized replacement arm.

    Films — Animation 
  • Atlantis: Milo's Return features a Kraken in the first segment as the main antagonist. Its humongous, octopus-like tentacles are seen emerging from the water, but the whole beast is only shown in the climax of the segment, as the heroes fight it underwater and get to see its fish-like body and head.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Deep Rising: At first the monsters attacking the ship seem to be a patch of giant, carnivorous tube-worms. It's later revealed that they're just the tentacles of a colossal octopus monster.
  • In The Giant Claw, we only see fuzzy photographs and what turns out to be the monster's feet for a few scenes before seeing the full creature. The studio likely wanted to downplay the monster's appearance because it was so low-budget.
  • The Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean. However in both cases after seeing his body he doesn't get much more action.
  • Tremors:
    • Tremors: The first few times the Graboids attack, we just see their tentacles coming out from the ground and think the tentacles are separate snakelike creatures.
    • In Tremors 5: Bloodlines, it turns out they are separate creatures, at least in the African Graboid species (it's never explained why they were tentacles before and now they're not).
  • In Alien from the Abyss, the main creature (which the back of the DVD cover nicknames "The Big Claw") isn't seen until the very end of the film. Until then, it's Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a really, really big black crablike claw that randomly emerges from various places (usually from underground) to grab and snap at people.
  • In Island of Terror, our first glimpse of the Silicates are their tentacles. We don't see a full Silicate until after it's already appeared as a grasping tentacle from offscreen twice.
  • The Wampa in The Empire Strikes Back. In both versions of the film, it's glimpsed first as a suddenly appearing, roaring face with a mouth full of teeth, and then a big ol' arm that attacks Luke and then his Tauntaun. We later do see the full creature very briefly. The Special Edition shows more of the Wampa in its cave, as opposed to one decent glimpse the original version gave.

    In a deleted subplot that involved a Wampa running loose inside Echo Base before the Rebels managed to trap it in a side room, there's a literal interpretation of the trope name in the form of a Call-Back or Brick Joke (whichever you prefer), when some intruding Snowtroopers get tricked into going and opening the door. The Wampa's arm shoots out, grabs one (who we'll call Private Wilhelm), and drags him in, whereupon Private Wilhelm's companions quickly close the door, looking as confused as Faceless Mooks can look.
  • In Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, after Nancy grows all that it shown is her huge hand inside her bedroom. She is only seen in full after she breaks out to look for her husband, ten minutes before the end.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who: In "The Beast Below", the characters encounter tentacles growing through the floor in several places before The Reveal that they're all from the Star Whale that Starship UK has instead of an engine, and who is seen in full at the end of the episode.
  • Return of Ultraman: An episode involves Jiro being trapped in an abandoned space station, and constantly being threatened by the snapping pincers of some unseen kaiju. It turns out those are the pincers of the crab-like monster Yadokarin, who finally reveals itself in the final battle.
    • Mizunoenoryu from Ultraman Gaia first appears as separate dragon heads all over the city, which is later revealed to be part of the titular monster's separate tail.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Transistor: The Spine makes its first appearances with its stinger tail, before fighting it directly.
  • The Kraken from Shining Series as it appears in Shining Force II.
  • In Donkey Kong Country Returns, one level features a gigantic octopus first witnessed destroying a large ship in the background, which then uses its tentacles to destroy various platforms floating in the sea as the player jumps across. Later in the level it appears up close, wrapping its tentacles around walls to obstruct the player's movements.
  • In Drakensang 2: The River of Time one of the bosses is a Newt Kraken (a river-infesting giant squid if you're curious). While both his tentacles and his main body are seen onscreen, you can only fight the tentacles to damage him, as his body is too far away.
  • In American McGee's Alice one of the first thing you notice in the now Eldritch Wonderland are large, fleshy tentacles in some areas. When you fight the Queen of Hearts is revealed that all those tentacles belongs to her.
  • In a video game based on The Fellowship of The Ring you get to fight the Watcher in the Water. While his large clawed tentacles slams on you, his moray eel-like main body is completely harmless through the battle.
  • Sin, the giant monster from Final Fantasy X, is so huge it cannot be seen well at first and you can fight only parts of it, such as its fin. You only get to see it properly when you get the airship. Note that even after that, you get to effectively fight more of its parts when you get *inside* of it!
  • In God of War III you have to fight back several large water creatures known as Hippocampi. Later you find that that said Hippocampi are actually the tentacles of Poseidon's war form.
  • The Kraken (again) from Tomb Raider: Underworld makes its presence known when you run into a massive flailing tentacle retracting in a hole. You later get to witness the behemoth in all its squishy glory.
  • In House of the Dead 3 you face several tentacles in one level, later revealed to be part of the Sun boss.
  • In Super Mario RPG there is an underwater level where you fight tentacles, after defeating them you go on to fight a squid and its last remaining tentacles
  • The Great Mighty Poo from Conker's Bad Fur Day.
  • Before you fight the Medusa-Kraken-hybrid-like Tentalus in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, its tentacles attack the ship you're on, bursting through walls and such. Then you see Tentalus itself.
  • Before fighting Scylla in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, you first fight one of her snake-tentacles in a seperate boss room.
  • Resident Evil: Revelations 2: a bunch of long, root-like tentacles snatching a corpse and dragging it under a shack is the first sign of the massive, vegetal-based B.O.W. known as Durga, who's later fought by Barry in the same area as a boss fight.
  • In Deep Town: Mining Factory, each of the Elders are initially encountered as one of their appendages as a boss battle for the first 11 sections of an area. On the 12th section, you finally get to fight the full Elder itself.
  • In Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, Planet Oozla has a boss fight against a pair of large tentacles that emerge from the swamp. Once you get the Grave Boots, you can return to the planet and fight the whole monster as a Bonus Boss.
  • While visiting Halloween Town in Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days, Roxas is attacked by several "Tentaclaws" that eat Heartless. Eventually, he finds their main body, the Leechgrave Heartless. Exactly how the Tentaclaws connect up to the Heartless's vines isn't shown as they tunnel through the ground to get to their (fixed) locations. That said, if one does manage to swallow Roxas during the boss fight, he's seen moving up the nearest of the Leechgrave's vines via Dinner Deformation to be spat back out through its flower.

    Western Animation 
  • The crater vipers from Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, as seen in the series pilot The Adventure Begins: Initially appearing to be several eyeless, multi-limbed, serpentine monsters emerging from a series of holes, later those serpents are revealed to be the fingers of a kaiju-sized Slag Monster.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water: in the first episode, the Constrictus in Bloth's ship first seemingly consists in a bunch of fanged leech-like monsters emerging from the watery pit... then, after Ren sets the water surface ablaze with oil, the real one emerges, revealing that the first three creatures were the 'tongues' .
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In the episode "Sandy, SpongeBob, and the Worm", Bikini Bottom is threatened by an Alaskan bull worm. Sandy volunteers to hunt it down, arguing that her idea of big, and SpongeBob's idea of big are entirely different. She succeeds in capturing its tongue before realizing her mistake and making a run for it.
  • Kur from The Secret Saturdays is first seen as a giant snake, but it's revealed later that the snake is just one of its tentacles.

    Real Life 
  • The tentacles of octopuses function much like independent organisms, each having its own neural ganglia that operate almost as separate brains. When foraging, each arm probes the seabed for food independently of the other seven, to such a degree that they can even exhibit distinct personalities: some arms more curious, others more cautious, still others more aggressive or stubborn, etc.

Alternative Title(s): Independent Limb


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