Follow TV Tropes


Festering Fungus

Go To
In The Cursed Earth, shrooms are on YOU.

"Mushrooms grow on dead things."

The Festering Fungus is a fictional lifeform usually based on a mold or a lichen, known for its rapid growth rate and destructive tendencies.

The effects of the fungus will vary. The Lighter and Softer versions will usually just cause structural damage to buildings, cars and trees, while the nastier versions start growing on people, resulting in all sorts of Body Horror. Ingesting the spores of this lifeform is to be avoided at all cost.

This type of lifeform tends to make for a good Monster of the Week, when it doesn't cover Swamp Monsters. After all, it's usually nonsentient, so you can finish it off for good without feeling guilty about it. The protagonists will usually find a way to stop it by the end of the episode, often with the aid of some fantastical fungicide or by dropping the temperature so that it can't grow.

In a comedy series, expect it to have crawled out of someone's refrigerator. See also: Alien Kudzu, Fungus Humongous, The Virus. Mold-based variants may overlap with Blob Monster, Muck Monster, or Meat Moss. People infected with one of these may become Poisonous People and/or Mushroom Men, if not zombies. Often a Puppeteer Parasite.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • En from Dorohedoro has the ability of "Mushroom", his smoke grows mushrooms of various sizes and can transform basically anything into said fungus. He can then also use these mushrooms to fight, with devastating results.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, the sociopathic doctor of Passione, Cioccolata, possesses a Stand known as Green Day, that releases mold spores which eat away at a person's flesh rapidly. The caveat is, Cioccolata needs to be at a high enough elevation for the effects of the spores to be completely lethal to those below him.
  • In the story "Mold" from the Junji Ito Kyoufu Manga Collection, the protagonist finds his house becoming rapidly overrun by a strange fungus after letting his old science teacher's family rent it. As it turns out, said science teacher had a passion for mycology, and created a super-fungus that eventually consumed him and his family some time before the protagonist returned home. Shortly after finding their bodies in a room that was sealed by mold-induced warping before the door rotted off, the protagonist succumbs to the mold as well.
  • Jōjū Senjin!! Mushibugyō: the Anthill arc features the Fungus Garden, a room normally found in real life anthills where ants gather dried wood to feed fungi and regulate the temperature and humidity of the whole nest. Since this nest was made by giant bugs and heartless bugmen, the nourishment for the fungi consist in people, with horrible, fungi-covered dried carcasses all over the place. Everything is made worse by the sight of a poor farmer who's still barely alive but so consumed by the fungal matter that he can only weakly drag himself forward.
  • In the episode "The Sound of Rust" of Mushishi, A fungus-like rust infects a girl's vocal cords, and whenever she speaks, rust spreads like lichen across her village, and even on the skin of the other villagers. The girl becomes a pariah to her people due to her connection with the plague.
  • My Hero Academia: Kinoko Komori of Class 1-B has the Quirk "Mushroom", which allows her to grow mushrooms anywhere and everywhere. Despite her cutesy appearance, she's one of the more dangerous members of 1-B, taking down a chunk of 1-A (including Tokoyami, one of the heavier hitters in that class) during a training exercise. Her Quirk can also be used as crowd-control, which is the reason she is one of the few students to put in a frontline of the villa raid team during the war between the Heroes and the Paranormal Liberation Front.
  • Episode 229 of Naruto Shippuden titled, "Eat or Die! Mushrooms from Hell!" had multicolored mushrooms called "Moulding Mushrooms" overtake the ship on which the team is sailing. Upon being eaten, the mushrooms sprout from the eater's skin and influence their actions. This is probably yet another "The Voice in the Night"/Matango Homage.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind prominently features "The Sea of Corruption", a toxic jungle of giant, mutant plants and fungi that exude clouds of noxious spores that infest and kill any normal plants, animals and people they come into contact with. In the manga version it's actually inverted towards the end as it's revealed that the Sea of Corruption was genetically engineered to clean up the radioactive fallout and other pollutants left behind by the apocalyptic war known as the Seven Days of Fire and restore Earth's environment. The reason it's dangerous to "humans" is because they've also been genetically modified to be slightly radiotrophic in order to survive in the irradiated, post-apocalyptic wasteland. In truth, the fungus isn't trying to "infest" people, it's trying to "purify" them. It's simply an unfortunate oversight that it does this by tearing them apart on a cellular level in order to get at all those nasty radionuclides their bodies are saturated with.
  • In One Piece, after Luffy got sent to Amazon Lily, he finds several shrooms called "Body Mushroom" and eats much of them for a snack. The mushrooms instantly knock him unconscious and they grow over his body, but with help from The Kujas, the mushrooms were quickly removed.
  • In Toriko, Aimaru can use a special Gourmet Mold fungus to track down certain delicious ingredients by following the trail of said mushroom. It also acts as a Foreshadow for Joie's real powers, which allows him to brainwash people by using a special fungus to alter them, as well as using said fungus to rot his opponents to death.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first Hellboy miniseries, one of the Ogdru Hem (which mutates humans into frog monsters) is defeated and killed with fire, or so the heroes think. In the B.P.R.D. spinoff, this monster grows back and is revealed to be a fungus. Its ability to mutate humans turns out to be an effect of its spores.
  • Judge Dredd: In a 1980s story, Judge Dredd encountered an alien fungus in the Cursed Earth which infected people with its spores, causing their bodies to be consumed by the creature so it could make more of itself. The 2022 Megazine story "Death Cap" returned to this setting.
  • Poison Ivy (2022): Poison Ivy's Evil Plan consists of spreading the spores of a deadly fungus able to grow on human beings, producing much Body Horror and eventual death for the victims.
  • In Rivers of London: Black Mould, a killer, sentient, living fungus goes on a rampage of vengeance using its victims' worst fears against them.
  • Spirou and Fantasio: The Count of Champignac is a mycologist who uses a very fast-growing mutated mold as a bio-weapon. In one instance, said mold destroyed a city-sized secret base in just a few minutes.
  • Morrigan Lugus from Supergod is a superhuman entity made up of three unlucky astronauts fused together with alien fungus to form a sentient mycological supercomputer. The facility it's kept in has to be cleaned over with bleach almost constantly to prevent mushrooms from growing everywhere, and before the science team started taking anti-fungal medications, several of them died and during the autopsy it was discovered that their lungs were filled with fungal growths that looked like deformed human faces.
  • Tom Strong had a story in which an obnoxious dotcom billionaire who decided to play-act as a pirate got killed by a group of real pirates who had become infected and preserved by a "Voice in the Night"-style mould.
  • Vampirella: A story from Warren times, "Fungus". (Slightly special - it was a photocomic. An Archie Goodwin classic.)

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm has magical cordyceps, altered to be capable of infecting and weaponising humans, as one of the many horrors of Project Pegasus. It's so lethal that it takes Gambit charging their mist around and above the heroes, causing an explosion so large it literally blows the roof off of Pegasus, with a fireball visible from miles away, to cleanse it when the spores start raining down - and they still infect Deadpool, whose Healing Factor is at least temporarily overcome.
  • Kaiju Revolution: The Guilala are fungaloid kaiju created using Biollante's cells, they can also be used for mind-control like a cordyceps fungus.
  • Natural Histories: A small patch of slime mold in "The Fountain", growing on a magic-soaked rowan log, becomes tainted and twisted by sorcery and soon grows into a vast, hungry tide of yellow slime, creeping over and consuming entire groves of trees as it spreads mindlessly through the forest.

    Films — Live Action 
  • The plot of Agent for H.A.R.M. centers on a biological warfare compound referred to as "spore" that converts living flesh into green, pulsating fungus. The villains plan to dust American crops with it, destroying the U.S. population.
  • Gaia (2021): There's a fungal infection in the forest in which the film is set, which may or may not be the work of "God." It prefers homo sapiens, causing small fungal growths to bloom on their body, eventually fully converting them to a Mushroom Man.
  • In Matango (which is based loosely on "The Voice in the Night", below), the island is unusually plentiful with mushrooms, which the shipwrecked crew and passengers eventually turn to for lack of any other available food. Unfortunately, those who consume the mushrooms turn into humanoid walking clusters of mushrooms that attack uninfected humans in a drug-induced madness.
  • The king in Super Mario Bros. (1993) the movie became this due to the Devo-Chamber, being turned into an enormous, city-wide fungus that chokes the city. It's worth noting despite that his horrifying transformation he managed to keep his sapience and good nature and that he subtly helps the Mario Brothers through the film in order to defeat Koopa.
  • The mummy and his sarcophagus in Time Walker are both infected with a fungus that rapidly destroys human tissue. It spreads even faster when triggered by X-radiation, which is bad news for one fungus victim who goes into an X-ray machine in the hospital.

  • The title city of Ambergris is prone to this, and positively swimming in it by the time of Finch. Related to rule by the Graycaps, who live in constant symbiosis with fungus and allow themselves to be infected with various kinds that have beneficial effects to their physiology. They can communicate telepathically by blowing spores over each other and their flesh is so riddled with fast-growing fungus that small wounds close almost instantly, making them difficult to kill.
  • The short story "Black Train" by Jeff Mariotte is a Weird West tale where two cowboys find a stopped train completely overrun by a black mold that infests people and animals, turning them into zombies. They rescue a man named Franklin from the train, who turns out to be the Mad Scientist who created the mold (as a bioweapon), and has devices that can kill it. Unfortunately, Franklin turns out to be more interested in getting revenge on his family than stopping the plague, and the cowboys have to take matters into their own hands before it can spread further.
  • Byrus from Stephen King's Dreamcatcher looks like a red mold and grows across any surface it's exposed to, whether inanimate or living. Internal exposure can result in the growth of a fatal parasite called a byrum (or more colloquially a "shit weasel"), but most never reach that level, and many of the infected have a good chance of survival.
  • The often-mentioned, never fully-explained "mold demons" from The Dresden Files that ate all the organic matter in Harry's car. Including the seat cushions. But hey, at least the floorboards are really clean now.
  • Expedition Venus by Hugh Walters has Earth threatened by a fast-growing mold brought back to Earth by an unmanned space probe. Includes some disturbing descriptions of what happens when it grows on people. (As the trope description says, it's a Monster of the Week — this is the fifth novel in a series — and the heroes sort it out by the end of the novel.)
  • The Fungus by Harry Adam Knight (author of Carnosaur and Slimer). The book concerns the takeover of the world by genetically engineered fungi. The cover for the original Star paperback features a man enduring something similar to the page image up above, with various fungi growing out of his nose and mouth.
  • The 1923 story "Fungus Isle" by Philip M. Fisher concerns the survivors of a shipwreck who wash up on a strange island where they have to defend themselves from a group of hideous Weed-Men.
  • Like in The Last of Us, the "hungries" in The Girl With All the Gifts are caused not by a virus but by the fungus Ophiocordyceps, which strips them of all but the most basic instincts like hunger and sex. The protagonist of the novel is a child who is infected with the fungus and partially immune to it, due to being the child of a hungry and thus having a symbiotic relationship with the fungus. In the end, she ensures that the fungus is spread throughout the entire world, so that the partially-immune hungry children will inherit the Earth.
  • InCryptid:
    • The prologue of That Ain't Witchcraft features Annie and Sam destroying a Corn Blight. The spores of this fungus are carnivorous and consume the victims which get close to it. The corn blight then gains half the intelligence of its victim allowing it sentience. It spreads by killing its victims and then converting its victims bodies into extensions of itself to allow it to move. They become fungus-wrapped, corn-swaddled zombie like monsters which have decaying flesh and hunt for more victims. The more victims it consumes, the more intelligent it becomes.
    • The Alice and Thomas prequel shorts feature the Alkabyiftiris slime, a Puppeteer Parasite that takes over the nervous systems of animals and effectively turns them into zombies, similar to the real-life Cordyceps.
  • The vampires in the Necroscope series are created by an alien fungus infecting a human body.
  • Old Man's War by John Scalzi features an evidently sentient slime mold which wipes out an entire human colony off-screen. When the Colonial Defense Forces arrive to investigate, several of the soldiers are killed when the mold suddenly leaps off of the walls into their mouths before releasing a corrosive substance inside of them.. Notably, they are not only not the villains of the story, but in fact only show up in one chapter, as part of a montage of scenes explaining the wide variety of life in the galaxy and how dangerous settling the galaxy or serving in the CDF can be.
  • The Medusoid Mycelium from A Series of Unfortunate Events, a fungal bioweapon which kills its victims by growing inside of them until their breathing passages are blocked off. Thankfully it does have a pretty simple "antidote" in the form of horseradish.
  • Dean Koontz's The Taking has bizarre self-repairing mushrooms in the tavern restroom. They also grow out of the eye sockets of several reanimated corpses in the local church. There are also tumorous-looking pale fungi attached to various surfaces in buildings and walking around town on insect legs. These ones eat souls.
  • Robert Westall's Urn Burial has harka, a fungal mould created by the Attock which primarily infects the females of species and kills young developing in the womb. In adults it just eats away their flesh and strips them down to the bone. The only way of killing it is to teleport the infected into stars.
  • The Ur-Example may be the 1907 short story "The Voice in the Night" by William Hope Hodgson, in which a shipwrecked couple is stranded on an island covered by an extremely fast-growing fungus that can infect humans and gradually turn them into mushroom zombies. A similar story by Hodgson was "The Derelict," in which a flesh-eating fungus has taken over an abandoned ship discovered by the protagonists.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alien Worlds (2020): Eden is home to a species of fungi that have a complex parasitic relationship with the animals living there. The forest's primary grazers feed on the fungus, but during autumn this releases clouds of spores that infect the grazers and removes their fear responses. This allows local predators to easily catch and eat them, but the spores still in the grazers' bodies quickly poison and kill them. After the predators die, the next crop of fungi grows from their bodies and the cycle begins again.
  • The Future Is Wild: The last segment, set in Earth 200 million years in the future, showcases the slithersucker, a slime mold that can adopt the shape and color of a fruit so that it will be eaten by a passing megasquid, a terrestrial squid the size of an elephant (squids fill the niche of mammals by that time). The slithersucker escapes digestion and divides in two group of cells: one moves to the "noses" of the Megasquid, the other to its brain. The one in the brain takes control of the Megasquid's actions, moves it around to a suitable location and then makes it "sneeze" to facilitate the dispersion of the cells in the respiratory system of the Megasquid, while the cells in the brain are ultimately eliminated by the Megasquid's inmune system once dispersion has been completed. This is inspired by modern day fungi that infect snails and arthropods, as detailed in the Real Life section. However, in spite of their name, slime molds are not a fungus — nor are they even a monophyletic group, and their natural behaviour is not parasitic in the slightest, unlike fungus'.
  • Hannibal: Invoked by an insane pharmacist who put victims into a diabetic coma, buried them alive with attached life-support tubing, and grew mushrooms in their living flesh.
  • Primeval features these in the third season. They take over the victim and turn them into a rather creepy monster that requires freezing or heating to kill. (Heating the fungus causes it to explosively scatter spores everywhere, which will start growing again if you Just Add Water.)
  • Suspicion 1958 features an episode based on the William Hope Hodgson story "The Voice in the Night".
  • The X-Files: These things are in the spotlight of "El Mundo Gira". The guy who is infected is spreading the fast-growing deadly fungus to everything he touches.


  • Avernus from Embers in the Dusk has the Life Eater Fungus, the greatest danger in the Everglades region and a weaker analogue of the Life Eater Virus used in the Imperium's Exterminatus weaponry. It can rapidly transform organic matter into a volatile mass before exploding.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Blue Planet: Fast fungus (Vindexa spp.) can digest most carbon-based compounds, alive or not, and can be found almost everywhere. Modern medicine can usually stop it from eating people if treated promptly, but the only way to protect equipment is adding antifungals during construction and regularly cleaning afterwards. The most virulent strains from the Sierra Nueva Cluster can eat through boat hulls in less than a day; milder ones are used for graffiti.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: All kinds of dangerous molds and fungi are common.
    • In 5e, Druids have a Spore Circle subclass. This gives Druids fungal abilities, including the ability to infest a recently killed creature with spores to animate it.
    • Elders of the fungoid subterranean race of Myconids can emit spores that reanimate dead bodies as zombies under their control.
    • Gas spores reproduce by spreading clouds of aggressively parasitic spores, which infest living beings, rapidly turn them into piles of mush, and grow a new clutch of gas spores from their remains.
    • In 5e as deep dragons age, their use of their spore-based breath weapon causes large growths of fungus to develop on their heads and necks.
  • Magic: The Gathering has the Thallids, a group of sentient fungus created by elves as a food source. Unfortunately for the elves, the Thallids spread faster than the elves could kill them and eventually overran their creators.
    • The lands claimed by the Golgari Swarm on Ravnica tend to be full of this, as the Guild practices a unique combination of nature magic and necromancy which makes them more adept at sculpting and manipulating fungus than normal plants. Fungus-based monsters, such as saprolings or zombies animated by a coating of fungus, are a big part of their defensive line-up.
    • There's also the extremely old card Mold Demon from the Legends set, only notable for being a serious contender for one of the most worthless cards in the entire game.note 
  • Planescape: Egarus is a fungus from Abyss that was accidentally introduced on a Prime world when an adventurer brough back a little bit on the tip of his shoe. The fungus quickly covered the shoe, and the adventurer's house, and his village — and then the wind started carrying it farther out. Ater discovering that they couldn't kill it — egarus doesn't burn, it can't be poisoned, and magic does little to it — the natives begged the gods for help. The gods open gates to the Quasiplane of Vacuum, where nothing can survive, and the locals shoveled every last bit in before closing the gates behind it... and it survives there. The fungus learned to feed on nonexistence itself, and reacts to the presence of matter or energy in its environment by rapidly disintegrating them.
  • Talislanta: When disturbed, the Scarlet Sporozoid releases a cloud of tiny spores that will devour organic substances of any sort. Once the victim is dead, new scarlet sporozoids begin growing from the host's remains.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Orks are actually part fungus, which explains their green color and limited Healing Factor (they're able to survive decapitation if the head is quickly reattached to another ork). In addition, they release spores when they die which grow into various fungi, before producing animalistic squigs, goblin-like grots and eventually new orks. As all these species generate the same spores, allowing a new horde to regenerate almost from nothing, orks are effectively impossible to get rid of once they land on a planet.

    Video Games 
  • Bug Fables: Zombiants are zombified ants infested with Cordyceps fungus. In Upper Snakemouth, there are also different kinds of Cordyceps-infested zombies, including bees and beetles, who were all created by a duo of Mad Scientists who wanted to find immortality. The strongest of the zombies, Zommoth, barely even resembles a moth anymore, having a lower half being replaced with a slug-like tail and the face with a stalk, and it ends up being the one who kills the scientists. It also has a failed prototype that ends up being thrown out and possessing Leif's corpse, eventually starting to believe itself to be him.
  • Control: The Mold is a particularly virulent extradimensional fungus that spread into the Oldest House through a Threshold. In large enough quantities it can emit a toxic vapor that damages Jesse if she gets too close to it, and humans who get infected by it turn into shambling zombies.
  • Darkest Dungeon: The Weald area has several enemies that appear to be once-normal humans now infected with a fungus.
  • Earth Bound: The mushroom enemies can scatter their spores to give you the annoyingly hard-to-remove "Mushroomized" status effect, which gives you a mushroom on your head and messes up your controls. One kid you can meet in Twoson has the same condition and thinks it's "actually kind of fun."
  • Fallout: Fallout: New Vegas has creatures called "Spore Carriers" and "Spore Plants" as the result of experimenting with genetically altered spores. They're found in Vault 22 and, in the DLC, Zion Valley and Big MT, where they were originally created. Worst of all is how you can find "Runts" in Vault 22 as well as baby carriages covered in spores. Terminal entries in Vault 22 states that the spores technically kill the host and reanimates the body to spread more spores but relies heavily on the reservoir hosts to be social animals for maximum dispersal. In Fallout 2's starting village, two spore plants can be found growing in gardens that suggest they either were cultivated deliberately or grew there as very belligerent weeds. Whether these also originated from the Big MT research facility, or evolved separately and just LOOK like the Mojave Wasteland version, is unclear.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics: Zigzagged. Mossfungus simply causes "Poison" in living people and is recoverable. However if one dies from it, presumably mushrooms either grow on or around the dead body. It's considered quite a bad omen when it's found on a grave.
  • Hollow Knight: The Fungal Waste is overrun by mushrooms. This includes not only sapient mushrooms, but Plague Zombies with mushrooms growing on them. They explode into orange gas instead of attacking directly. It's implied, however, they became spore carriers after they died and zombified due to the game's main and unrelated plague.
  • The Last of Us has a mutant strain of Cordyceps that infects humans and turns them into aggressive, zombie-like beings (eventually replacing their heads and most of their bodies with fungal growths) as the cause of the Zombie Apocalypse setting.
  • Metroid Prime: Phazon is most often encountered in the form of a highly radioactive, rapidly growing, seemingly sentient fungus that either kills or corrupts anyone or anything that has contact with it for too long.
  • Minecraft: The mod Thaumcraft features Taint, which covers the ground in toxic slime, melts trees into goo and turns any mobs that die from the poison into Tainted versions of themselves that either spread the Tainted Land biome or just attack untainted mobs. Tainted Land also features its own unique monsters, like swarms of stinging bugs or large tentacles that grow from the ground.
  • NetHack has a number of mold mobs, palette-swapped by how they hurt you.
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps: The corrupted Giant Spider Mora is afflicted by a Cordyceps-style fungus with a Sickly Green Glow.
  • Pikmin:
    • Pikmin (2001): The Puffstool is a walking fungus with tiny little legs. The Puffstool is liable to trip on them and tumble upside down, giving Olimar a quick chance to wail on it. But when it rights itself up it belches a cloud of spores turning Olimar's pikmin into Mushroom Pikmin that attack any Pikmin going for the Puffstool.
    • Pikmin 2: Patches of mold-like fungus can be found in several areas, where they must be destroyed to access the beneficial plants they grow over and smother. After a few days, the mold will begin to grow back and smother the plants all over again.
  • Pokémon: Parasect is a victim of one of these. Its pre-evolution, Paras, has a symbiotic relationship with a Cordyceps-like fungus growing on its back, but, when it evolves, the fungus takes over its body completely, leaving it a blank-eyed zombie bug.
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: Rather than the traditional viruses, the pathogen responsible for all the chaos is a "vicariant evolution fungus", referred to in one file as Mutamycete, which the Big Bad is symbiotically partnered with and can produce from their body. As a result, many locations are covered in thick sheets of grotesque black mold.
  • The Secret World: The Filth is already some incredibly nasty stuff, but its fungal form, created when terrestrial fungi were infected, takes it to the next level. This stuff has started evolving rapidly, producing bug-like crawlers, blob monsters, and even hulking humanoid forms that all spread the fungus, as well as infecting apes and turning them into monsters. You first encounter it in Transylvania, where it has overrun a good portion of the Shadowy Forest, and again in Tokyo, where a cargo ship from the Congo carrying the stuff wound up causing a second Filth outbreak in the city on top of the one created by the subway bombing.
  • Spirit of the North: The plague that destroyed the human civilization manifests as white and red bulbs and cups with black muck and vines spotted with orchids growing out of them, spewing red spores everywhere. When the fox dies in chapter 6, fungus and orchids rapidly grow out of its body.
  • Sunless Sea: Cutting and harvesting mushrooms all day in the fungus-infested Demeaux Island leads to spores getting into the workers' clothes, hair, lungs... until eventually, there's less person left than there is fungus.
  • Sunless Skies: Invasive mushrooms eerily referred to as "children" coming from the fungus-heavy Hybras (the "children"'s "Mother") are responsible for the wrecking of the Parzifal, spreading through the ship, killing almost all of the crew and putting the locomotive out of commission near Traitor's Woods.
  • Waking Mars: The two types of Cephad Spore can wipe out any other Zoa you might plant, including each other.
  • The Wandering Village: The villagers and the town-sized beast they live on are both fleeing a plague of toxic and parasitic fungi that's overrunning the land. Clusters of fungal growths are encountered periodically, and release spores that will infect plants, villagers, and the Onbu alike. Villagers and the Onbu grow ill and risk death, although the huge beast can endure being infected for a lot longer than the comparatively frail villagers, while infected plants become covered in fungal gunk that will very quickly begin to spread to neighboring ones. Left unchecked, a single infected plant can lead to most of the available land being overrun within days.


    Web Original 
  • Aegeroth: A Checkered History: Zambor has mycelium growing out of her face, with one strand splitting her nose.
  • Creepypasta:
    • Slough (and the Runners series that it spawned) has a village infected with fungal spores that cause nymphomania and tissue necrosis. When the fungal infection reaches a certain point, anyone who doesn't screw themselves to death runs around with their bodies rotting away, and everywhere a gobbet of infested flesh lands, a mushroom grows.
    • Unrelated to the Runners stories is an untitled series about mushrooms with a Metamorphosis Monster life cycle: its spores come out as flies, who immediately rot into blood-like sludge, and anyone who is soaked by the blood or eats a mature fungus has them start growing on them. However, they start with damaged tissues, usually burns and the like.
    • Zombie Fungus starts with a guy's brother coming back from Brazil with a green rash and acting weird. He'd been infected by a strain of Cordyceps that has evolved to affect humans.
  • One episode of Game Theory presents the theory that the Mushroom Kingdom is largely populated by people infected with these (hence the mushroom heads), with the implication that Princess Peach is actually responsible for the outbreak, leading to her imprisonment by Bowser.
  • Hamster's Paradise has the shroomors, a fleshy, fungus-like lifeform that grows on decaying carcasses and is spread by scavenging animals. The twist is that it's actually a free-living cancer that descended from a type of transmissible tumor of the Always Chaotic Evil sapient race called the Harmsters, that was responsible for their extinction via Zombie Apocalypse.
  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-020 ("Unseen Mold"). It's a fungal organism that causes humans to become more sociable and invite people into their home, so that it can spread, and ultimately causes the deaths of those affected.
    • SCP-129 ("Progressive Fungal Infection"). Stages One through Four of SCP-129 infection mimic other diseases. Stage Five causes death in bizarre ways, such as causing the victim to blow up like a balloon and explode (spraying fungus all over the place) or being turned into a lump of fungus.
    • SCP-306 ("The Frogs"). SCP-306 is a fungus that turns infected humans into frog-like animals.
    • SCP-679 ("Eyerot"). SCP-679 is a fungus that infects victims, blinds them and replaces their eyes with the fungus. Afterwards, threads of the fungus move around on the victim's face in random patterns.
    • SCP-1294 ("The Laughing Fox"). SCP-1294 is a type of anomalous fungus that takes the form of a male fennec fox. It reproduces by mating with real female fennec foxes.
  • When the housemates of the eponymous Sex House realize they're unable to throw away their moldy food, they end up storing it in one of the unused bedrooms. The mold eventually takes over the room, and in episode 8, the repairman the cast takes hostage and chains up in there dies from it.
  • In The Sick Land, a researcher brings a mushroom with teeth growing inside it back from the eponymous Forbidden Zone. After he commits suicide, his zombified corpse implants it into his hand, and every time he's encountered (he's a pretty Nice Guy for an undead abomination and only shows himself to the protagonist, Alex), it's progressed a little further until it's devoured his whole arm, much of his face, and the wall nearby.
  • Smile Tapes: The Fantastic Drug named "SMILE" is made using the spores of an unidentified fungus. Those who use it develop a Slasher Smile and eventually undergo Facial Horror and Body Horror — during an autopsy on one of the patients, the morticians discover that he has fungus inside his brain.
  • 'Taerel Setting: The Umvera Kin'toni Clan ( ) grow a form of fungus from wounds on their bodies. They embrace the fungus that in time, kills them by clogging their arteries. This fungus sometimes would grow so large or in such an inconvenient place that they would lose some of the functionality of their bodies. Some would end up being unable to walk, talk, lift things, or even see as some of the fungus prevented them from being able to do so.

    Western Animation 
  • On As Told by Ginger, a plumber discovers a rapidly spreading mold growing behind the tiles when he removes a tile in Mrs. Foutley's bathroom. The house has to be fumigated in order to get rid of it, and the Foutleys have to temporarily vacate the house, only being allowed to take one treasured possession. Ginger chooses her diary. Mrs. Bishop's already fairly low opinion of the Foutleys gets even lower, although Mrs. Foutley is told that the mold was likely there when they moved in (so it doesn't have anything to do with her housekeeping skills/lack thereof.)
  • Bionic Six has an episode where Dr. Scarab attacks with a mutant fungus as the Monster of the Week. When his accomplice Madame O complains that she hates fungus, he says, "You'll come to love it! It grows on you!"
  • An alien plant/fungus has this effect on people after infecting their blood stream as explained by Elle in an episode of Men in Black: The Series. The alien spores are also of the Puppeteer Parasite variety.
  • The Owl House:
    • In "Eclipse Lake", Luz gets sick with an illness called the common mold. When it has subsided, Luz has a variety of fungi growing on her head, wondering whether it's permanent or not before quickly running as it crumbles off.
    • In "Watching and Dreaming", Belos fuses with the Titan's heart, and waves of Meat Moss rapidly begin spreading out from the epicenter of the isles. Unlike his previous goo-like appearance, this infection looks more like a hyper-aggressive fungus or lichen, if fungi and lichens were sentient and covered in eyes.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: "Fungus Among Us" features a rapidly-spreading fungus known as the "Ick", which can encapsulate a person's body in mere minutes, causing them either to break out in severe rashes, or in SpongeBob's case, be extremely deformed and spew out excess green pus.
  • A trademark of Dr. Viper from SWAT Kats.
  • Transformers: Animated: the space barnacles mutated by the AllSpark, despite their name, spread and grow rather like super-fast fungus. They are also a Puppeteer Parasite to both Mechanical Lifeforms and non-living machines which are best removed with extreme heat.

    Real Life 
  • Cordyceps are a genus of fungi that infect living creatures (mostly insects and other arthropods). They grow inside the infected bug until they kill it, at which point the fungus' fruiting body bursts out of the host's exoskeleton, spreading its spores. Even creepier is that some species of cordyceps actually affect the host's behavior. For instance, one species infects ants. The infected ants gain a compulsion to climb upward as far as they can before they die, which allows the Cordyceps to spread its spores further.
    • The really fun part is that it is commonly eaten by humans, and is even used in many medications such as the anti-rejection drug Neoral. Which makes sense: the fungus, itself, needs to suppress immune responses on the part of its host if it's to propagate.
    • Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is even worse: it doesn't take control of the ant's brain. According to this article published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the fungus surrounds not the brain but the muscles of the ant and changes the very genes of the insect, turning the host's body into an extension of the fungus itself.
  • Aspergillus niger and various species of genus Stachybotrys are molds that infest houses. Their spores (especially those of Stachybotrys) are harmful to humans and produce symptoms of respiratory diseases. Serious infestations in wooden houses are particularly hard to get rid of and require chemicals; in less enlightened times infested houses were burned.
  • Athlete's Foot is just one of a wide variety of fungal infections that can affect humans, being the main reason that people are discouraged from going barefoot in public showers and gyms.
  • It's perfectly normal to have living fungi (mostly Candida and Dipodascaceae yeasts) in your ileum and large intestine. Luckily they are harmless, even beneficial, so long as they stay there: it's your poop they digest, not your tissue.


Video Example(s):


Belos possesses the Titan

After hitching a ride in Raine's body, Belos makes his way to the castle, and despite Raine's best efforts, fuses with the Titan's heart in order to possess the entirety of the Boiling Isles. The entire island quickly becomes overrun by rapidly growing lichen, choking out and consuming all life, and Belos fashions himself a body that more closely resembles a dragon in order to "cleanse this perdition himself".

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (24 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheCorruption

Media sources: