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Dreadful Dragonfly

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Those are darn big darners.

Sometimes, authors become bored of the overwhelmingly common Giant Spiders and Creepy Centipedes and try to get a little more creative with their Big Creepy-Crawlies.

Dragonflies can fill the role to perfection. After all, they combine high-speed flight, toothed mandibles and gigantic, compound eyes, and this places them among the most formidable predators among the insects, being able to prey upon even small fishes. They are also quite big for insects and their younger life stages as just as deadly: dragonfly larvae are aquatic predators with extensible mandibles that burst out to capture prey, and habitually prey on tadpoles and other small vertebrates. As such, giant dragonflies would be an incredibly terrifying sight for hapless humans, who would have no hope of outrunning them and surviving their teeth.

Subtrope of Big Creepy-Crawlies, and subsequently of Dire Beast.


Examples:

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    Films — Animation 
  • In the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment of Fun and Fancy Free, Mickey, Donald and Goofy make their way across the giant's moat when they see a swarm of giant dragonflies flying overhead. Donald teases them by making machine gun noises, and one of them attacks. They are saved when a giant fish eats the dragonfly.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla vs. Megaguirus has the titular Megaguirus herself, the gigantic queen of the Meganulons, which are smaller, but still big by human standards versions of this trope.

    Gamebooks 
  • Lone Wolf, book 19 Wolf's Bane: Upon being sent to the moon Avaros, Lone Wolf find himself in a tropical jungle of humongous flowers populated by giant insects. Among them are giant dragonflies; Lone Wolf can use one of the smallest as flying steed thanks to his Animal Control, only to be attacked during flight by a gigantic one.

    Literature 
  • In the Past Doctor Adventures novel Island of Death, the Doctor mentions the Sclaponian Dragonflies. Not much is known about them, but since he nearly lost an entire leg to such a creature, one can imagine how humongous those insects are.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, giant dragonflies appeared as a new monster in module EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror and later in the Monster Manual 2. They are man-sized, have up to 64 Hit Points, and are very hard to hit in combat. They are known to attack human beings, and can kill a normal human in a single combat round.
  • Pathfinder: Giant dragonflies are a fairly rare type of swamp-dwelling giant insect that grow to be around the size of a horse. They're fast, agile and voracious hunters, and quite willing to hunt and eat humanoids as regular fare. Their nymphs also appear as statted monsters, but are, naturally, smaller and flightless, and thus less of a danger.

    Video Games 
  • Alice: Madness Returns has the annoying Bolterflies, big dragonflies made out of nuts and bolts. They attack Alice by latching on her and draining her energy, immobilizing her. Bolterflies live in nests and spawn indefinitely until said nests are destroyed.
  • Among the new weapons introduced in Bayonetta 2 was Kafka, a giant, dragonfly-themed bow. It's summons are Carnages, giant dragonfly demons with particularly large maws. These are also summoned in the against Malicious in one of the most brutal Torture Attacks in the series during which the poor demon gets Eaten Alive by the darners.
  • Bug has a Dragon-Fly, who is Bug's mount that only appears in the end-of-world Bonus Levels. It resembles a dragonfly with a dragon's head! The first boss of the sequel Bug Too! is a dragon-fly — this time, an actual dragon but with dragonfly wings.
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has giant acid-spitting dragonflies as enemies.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest introduced the Flitters, big blue dragonflies from the Kremling Krew that patrol definite paths and hurt Diddy and Dixie should they touch the darners. Fortunately, they are quite weak.
    • The Monocle Monicas from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze are huge dragonfly-like creatures approximatively the size of Donkey Kong. They quickly move forward and backward from a point A to a point B and contact with them will harm Donkey Kong.
  • Don't Starve: The Dragonfly is one of the three Giants — enormous boss enemies that each appear and attack during a specific season — introduced in the Reign of Giants DLC. It's considerably bigger than the players or most other enemies in the game, and will attack the moment it sees you. It's also a lot more reptilian and pyrokinetic than dragonflies usually are, being a literal dragon-fly.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has the tall, threatening-looking Dragonflies. Their tails are charged with electricity and they attack Link by swinging said tails at him.
  • Pikmin: Subverted with the Nectarous Dandlefly in Pikmin 3: while much bigger than the characters, these damselfly-like insects are completely harmless to the Pikmin, and carry precious nectar on their body segments.
  • Pokémon has the Yanma line. While Yanma, introduced in Pokémon Gold and Silver, is already quite big with its 3'11, it's quite cute and not all that scary. Then Pokémon Diamond and Pearl gave it an evolution: the monstrous Yanmega. Not only does it have a very intimidating appearance, it stands at a whopping 6'03 in length, making it the biggest Bug-type Pokémon until Scolipede stole the title. Even worse, the Pokédex states that it has powerful jaws that can bite foes and prey in half (and it is quite fond of doing this) and that it can create shockwaves with its wings. To top all of that, it is very fast. One wouldn't want to get on its bad side...
  • Dragonfly badniks have appeared in the Sonic the Hedgehog series:
    • Sonic the Hedgehog CD has Tonbo in Tidal Tempest, which just flew back and forth and didn't really try to attack.
    • Sonic & Knuckles has the aptly named Dragonflies in Mushroom Hill Zone, who notably have spiky abdomens with which they skewer their foes. These same badniks also reappears in Sonic Mania's Press Garden Zone.
  • In Super Paper Mario, Planet Blobule is the home of strange dragonfly aliens called the Choppas. They are as big as Mario, have very unpredictable movement patterns and can freely flip between dimensions, making them dangerous enemies.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has Chykka, the boss of Torvus Bog, in its second form. It simply rams you and spawns smaller versions of itself to attack.

    Real Life 
  • Some species of dragonflies are rather big insects (although nowhere near the fictitious ones). The biggest one is the Giant Petaltail, which has a wingspan of 16 cm (over 6 inches). Thankfully, they are harmless to humans.
  • Prehistoric dragonflies, from the Meganeura genus, were even bigger, with some reaching a wingspan of 65 to 70 cm (up to 2'08). Try to imagine those monsters flying into your room... A bit of a borderline case, as Meganeura and its relatives (such as Meganeuropsis, which is thought to have had a slightly larger wingspan overall) are not thought to have been true dragonflies, but rather a distinct — and extinct — group of insects dubbed "griffinflies", very large relatives of modern dragonflies and damselflies.

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