Cactus people are, as the name implies, Plant People based on cacti.
Cactus people are typically found in deserts. Unlike other Plant People, they're thus rarely associated with verdant wildernesses or Green Thumb powers. Instead, they're a stock inhabitant of fantasy desert lands and are also associated with Wild West- or Mexico-inspired settings, due to the ubiquity of cacti in American deserts. Their harsh environment may also lead to them being depicted as self-reliant, hardened survivors.
Their most notable trait, besides environmental preferences, is the fact that, as cacti, they're covered in spines. This provides them with a number of unique options in combat situations, such as by adding dozens of painful pinpricks to any melee attack. Their needles will also factor into defense, as anybody trying to directly attack a Cactus Person will expose themselves to their spiny coat; this may not directly prevent damage to the cactus, but will punish anyone trying to fight them up close. They may even be a Spike Shooter with the ability to launch their spines as a ranged attack.
Cacti are also known for retaining large quantities of water that travelers can drink to survive in the desert. Thus, Cactus People may also have a sort of watery blood that other creatures can drink. This may be something that they offer freely, or else it may drive others to hunt and exploit Cactus People for it.
- A series of ads for the Oasis soft drink had a pregnant teenager on the run with her cactus boy lover, Cactus Kid.
- Crayon Shin-chan: My Moving Story - Cactus Large Attack has Shin-Chan and family being relocated to Mexico, and inexplicably being involved in an ancient prophecy which culminates in sentient, man-sized living cacti attacking the town.
- Togemon is a humanoid cactus with boxing gloves and three round holes for eyes and a mouth. It attacks by shooting sweeping volleys of its thorns.
- Ponchomon is the ghost of a Togemon, and resembles a floating version of its previous form wearing a poncho and a large sombrero.
- Gregory Horror Show: Cactus Gunman and his sister Cactus Girl are anthropomorphic cowboy cacti.
- Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: The Heedra are mutated warriors resembling humanoid cacti, equipped with three eyes and an extreme capacity for regeneration, who serve as the guardians of the Crypt of Shuwa.
- Outlaw Star: There's a sapient cactus that can control people's actions by vibrating its quills.
- Pachimon: The "Cactus Man" is a living giant cactus that attacks Polynesia, and also one of the few original monster ideas in the series (which isn't made from ripping off existing kaiju media).
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: "Cactus Bouncer" and "Cactus Fighter" are both Level-4, EARTH-attribute, Plant-Type Monsters who look like short anthropomorphic cactuses. Curiously, despite their similar designs and stats, they are not a part of the same archetype.
- West Coast Avengers: Cactus is an artificial being created from a saguaro cactus and given humanoid mobility and intelligence by the latest incarnation of the Dominus computer on Earth. It's encountered by the Avengers with others of Dominus' minions, but is ultimately defeated. Cactus looks like a vaguely humanoid saguaro, and possesses at least a basic intelligence.
- The Dandy: One of Desperate Dan's enemies is the Cactusman, a humanoid walking talking cactus who loves committing crimes.
- Bas-Lag Cycle: The cactacae are a species of towering humanoid cacti, known for their strength and resilience to harm — their fibrous flesh and thin, wooden bones are difficult to damage with normal weapons, as blades and bullets pass right through them with little effect. The cactacae themselves use a type of crossbows that fire spinning metal disks when fighting one another. The mostly live in the cities of Shankell and Dreer Shameer in the Cymek Desert, but many also live in New Crobuzon inside a huge greenhouse.
- Master Flea, by E. T. A. Hoffmann: partially subverted, partially a poetic version where George Pepusch, a friend of the protagonist, suddenly says in a conversation to be a Cactus Zeherit, the most beautiful cactus and fated to marry the princess Gamaheh. At the end of the book George Pepusch and Doertje Elverdink marry, disappear and the gardener finds a giant flowering cactus tangled by a tulip.
- The Aquabats! has a living cactus enemy in one episode titled Night of the Cactus!
- Doctor Who:
- "Meglos": The villain is a cactus-like alien from a desert planet. His default form looks pretty much just like a cactus, without a face or much in the way of limbs. During the story, he uses technology to develop a humanoid form as a disguise; when the disguise is working properly he looks fully human, with smooth pink skin, but at several points the disguise glitches and his skin goes green with spikes sticking out of it.
- In "The End of Time", the doctor identifies two Vinvocci, green aliens with spikes across their skin, undercover on Earth. It's not clear if they are plant-based or not.
Wilf: God bless the cactuses!
The Doctor: That's cacti.
Rossiter: That's racist!
- Sesame Street: The song "Here We Are" is sung by two anthropomorphic cacti who want to be "there" (someplace different) instead of "here" (the desert).
- Ultraman Ace: One episode's Monster of the Week, Sabotendar, is a giant humanoid cactus kaiju with the ability to turn into a regular succulent, Spike Shooter powers and a prehensile tongue. It can also curl itself into a massive spiked ball to execute a Rolling Attack.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Saguaro sentinels, introduced in the desert-focused Sandstorm supplement, are a variant of Treants resembling huge, humanoid saguaros. They're True Neutral rather than Neutral Good, but guard and protect forests same as other treants — they just watch over cactus forests, specifically. Since they're covered in sharp thorns, they're effectively immune to melee attacks; they can also shoot out these thorns in painful volleys, but lose their melee defense from them until they grow back.
- Needlemen are plant creatures resembling emaciated humanoids bristling with spines, which they either launch as projectiles or use to enhance the damage of their melee attacks.
- Cactus leshies are diminutive humanoids created when a nature spirit is bound into a body formed from a specially grown cactus, and exist to protect and nurture desert flora. There are also pesh leshies, or "peshies", a variant whose bodies are crafted from the pesh cacti that the setting's main narcotic drug is derived from and who are known to aid pesh farmers in their trade.
- Saguaroi are a naturally occurring species of humanoid cacti, visually distinguished by the numerous saguaro-like growths and branches sprouting from their backs, upper arms and heads; these are generally inert growths, but elderly saguaroi can learn to move the larger ones like extra arms. They're a reclusive folk and lead nomadic lives in the deep desert, but sometimes agree to aid travelers or even grant them a drink of their watery lymph to stave off dehydration. Their spiny bodies grant them protection against physical blows, and they can also fire bursts of their needles as a ranged attack. Each saguaroi sprouts a large flower once a year, which eventually produces a seed that can be planted to create a new saguaroi child.
- Rifts: The Cactus People of the Arizona desert are a reclusive species of humanoid succulents who largely avoid contact with animal-based sapients, especially as the latter often seek to harvest or consume their highly nutritious, watery "blood".
- Battle Pets has Spiner, a sentient cactus with a face, as one of the titular Battle Pets.
- Brawl Stars: Spike is a short, humanoid cactus who fights by tossing cactus-shaped grenades, which explode in bursts of spikes when they hit.
- Final Fantasy:
- Cactuars are enemies, usually found in desert areas, resembling stylized humanoid saguaros, with limbs resembling saguaro branches with a single right-angled joint each and faces consisting of two round holes for eyes and an elongated one for a mouth. They grow continuously over their lives, and particularly old and large ones, known as Gigantuars, appear from time to time as bosses. They're covered in needles, and fire them by the thousand as their signature move. Final Fantasy XIII also has them transform into Flowering Cactuars and flee from battle if not killed within a turn.
- Final Fantasy XII has Cactides and Cactoids, creatures resembling short cacti with stumpy legs and long, thin, ribbon-like arms; they're distinguished by the two stacked cactus lobes growing from a Cactoid's head, which Cactides lack. They're docile and won't attack unless struck first, and drop bundles of needles and cactus fruits on death. There's a stronger variant, the Flowering Cactoid, which despite its name is a Cactide with a flower on its head. This one is hostile, and unlike the regular ones can shoot volleys of needles as an attack.
- Mario & Luigi: Dream Team: Caccacs are humanoid cacti found in the Dozing Sands, which attack by tossing cactus parts at the bros.
- Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes has the Original Generation character named Amingo, who is a sapient cactus man and a walking National Stereotype of Mexico. He has a truly bizarre design and fighting style, and is able to morph his arms and body into a large variety of weapons.
- Mega Man Zero: Glacier le Cactank's Punishment form resembles a giant cactus. He was originally built as a large armored water tank that could bring water to remote areas before Dr. Weil corrupted him. His cooling system allows him to freeze water, hence his ice theme.
- Moshi Monsters has a species of talking, purple cacti called Tickly Pickles.
- Cacnea is a Pokémon resembling a round cactus walking around on two conical stubs, with a yellow flower on its top, a series of round holes for a mouth and pair of long arms ending in rounded tips studded with more conical spikes. Its evolution, Cacturne, loses the flower and is more fully humanoid. They're found in deserts and attack by shooting volleys of quills (represented through them learning the move Pin Missile). They get by in deserts by storing large quantities of water in their bodies, and Cacturne in particular spends the days standing still to save energy and water, becoming active at night as it stalks travelers exhausted by the desert sun.
- Maractus is another cactus Pokémon resembling a humanoid prickly pear, with ear-like lobes each tipped with a flower. It's also found chiefly in desert routes. Rather than shooting needles, however, it's themed around shaking its limbs to make sounds like maracas. Its nutrient-rich seeds are also noted to be a valuable food source in the desert.
- The Korean online RPG Seal Online has a creature called a Samba Cactus, a sentient cactus flower with arms and legs. Curiously enough, it has flowers growing on it as well, which emits a sweet smell when it blooms.
- The 90s arcade game Saboten Bombers have players assuming the role of a living cactus plant fighting assorted enemies in a Big Fancy House. As a bit of a Bilingual Bonus, "saboten" literally translates as "cactus" in Japanese.
- Smite: The High Noon skin for Sylvanus, the diminutive god of forests and the wilderness, turns his Treant mount into a giant humanoid saguaro and Sylvanus himself into a Mexican Bandito.
- Time Zone: Anthropomorphic cacti appear as enemies in the Wild West zone.
- Wario Land 4 has a minigame called Wario Hop in which Wario jumps over random obstacles in a desert setting; these obstacles include living cacti in both male and curvy female varieties.
- West of Loathing has Cactus Bill, a man who drank too much cactus beer and became a man-sized potted cactus with a human face. He actually enjoys this condition, since he is constantly drunk from natural fermentation, but he is bored and will help you a bit if you entertain him. Just stick a newspaper on him. Despite being immobile, he travels from Boring Springs to Dirtwater and arrives two days after you. If you find a woman that will marry him, the Modular Epilogue shows them with several human and cactus children, whose number depends on player's actions with weather control.
- World of Mana has Li'l Cactus, first appearing in Legend of Mana. As the name suggests, he's very small with chibi proportions. He appears to be an ordinary inanimate cactus whenever the player character is around but as soon as they leave he gets out of his pot to write in his journal, revealing that he has roots for legs.
- vividlyASMR: The Cactus Girl looks like a green-haired girl covered in spines.
- SCP Foundation:
- An April Fools' Day prank had some of the SCPs rewritten as plants. SCP-096 became a cactus.
- SCP-2800, the "Cactus Man" is a man whose genome contains DNA of a saguaro cactus, and has cactus powers like growing spines, photosynthesis, efficient water retention, resistance to above-average temperatures and aridity, and empathy with cacti. He also suffers from Chronic Hero Syndrome and tried to be a superhero before Foundation capture, although he usually got beaten up by the thugs he tried to fight.
- Universal love, Said The Cactus Person, by Scott Alexander.
- Adventure Time: The Spiky People resemble brown, humanoid cacti with conical heads, and live in a desert land dotted with more regular succulents. Some have especially long spines on their forearms, which they use like swords.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: Carmen is a cactus with stick figure limbs and a simplified smiley face. She swells up with water in the rain, and doesn't shed tears when she cries because her body is meant to retain moisture. She's also dating a balloon, which usually ends just as well as you'd expect.
- Batman: The Animated Series: "House & Garden" features a rather frightening example thanks to evil botanist Poison Ivy. A big part of her scheme involves human/plant hybrid monster that start out looking like children but end up as grotesque, hulking plant-men with toxic cactus spikes on their bodies she uses to poison and blackmail rich victims.
- The Fruitties: Thorny is a sapient, dim-witted cactus, and thus also one of several Fruitties who aren't a fruit or vegetable like most of the others.
- Kidd Video: Ash is turned into one of these when a plant monster takes over the Kiddmobile and emits a pollen that induces Transflormations. (Carla is turned into a flower.) Fortunately, the effects are undone by the end of the episode.
- Merrie Melodies: The short "Flowers for Madame" features a parade of anthropomorphic flowers. One entry is a cactus who gets laughed at by the float judges, but saves the day when a wildfire breaks out.
- Sheriff Callie's Wild West: Toby is a fully sapient and anthropomorphic cactus otherwise surrounded by Funny Animals that include a cat, a bird and prairie dogs.
- Steven Universe: Future: In "Prickly Pair", Steven accidentally turns a Cactus sentient with his gem powers, and it imitates him in what he says, what he does, and how he looks, resulting in it being named Cactus Steven. Once enraged, Cactus Steven becomes an Implacable Man (which Garnet attributes to cacti's durability) that grows in size when it absorbs water and is very painful to make contact with.
- An Episode of Xiaolin Showdown features the awakening of the Heylin Seed, a living plant who can turn humans into assorted potted plants. The series' villain Jack Spicer notably becomes a potted cactus with a face and goggles.
- What A Cartoon! Show: Prickles the Cactus from the cartoon of the same name. She absorbs any water she comes into contact with and becomes engorged when she does so.