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What happens when you combine Threatening Shark with Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever, and Prehistoric Monster? You get this monstrosity. Otodus megalodon lived from 15.9 to 2.6 million years ago, was at least 14m long at the very minimum and probably could grow up to 16 meters (Making it barely two-thirds the size of a modern blue whale), weighed 35-45 tons, making it the largest shark that ever lived along with being with the second largest apex predators of all time note . An apex predator that reigned for 13 million years, it specialized in killing marine mammals with a focus on medium sized baleen whales. It was like a Physical God of the animal kingdom, known by many as the Superboss of the entire Selachimorpha clade (which included every shark to ever evolved). It was an extremely fast swimmer (many paleontologists speculate anywhere between 5-7 meters a second at max speed), had an army of 276 serrated teeth, most the size of a human hand nested in its 10-foot-diameter mouth, had a bite force twice the strength of a Tyrannosaurus rex, and would likely split a school bus sized whale in half with one bite. The only rival it had as the top predator was a contemporary predatory whale Livyatan that was roughly the same size.

The cause of this living war machine's extinction is heatly debated even to this day, but one of the leading theories is that it went extinct due to the closing of the Central American Seaway, the migratory, breeding, and hunting grounds of it and its prey. Another, more recent theory is that megalodon is just another casualty of radiation released by a supernova (or series of such) 2.6 million years ago, which was particularly deadly to the largest of animals and to animals which lived in shallow water. It might have also itself been subject to pressure by a Threatening Shark. No not something bigger, but a type of mako shark evolved into the modern great white shark around this same time. Preying on the same food sources, great whites were faster, grew up quicker, smarter, and could handle colder water better thanks to a more efficient heating system. The rise of prehistoric orca whales was even more pressure.


Environmental factors in tandem with competition from newer, faster predators likely worked to drive the biggest predatory fish of all time extinct. However, in low grade schlock movies, it will be uncovered after being frozen in ice or lurking in deep-sea trenches and go on a superhunting rampage, tracking down our intrepid heroes all over the world before eating Boeing 747's in a single bite while flying.

The appeal is simple. As a giant prehistoric shark, it combines the audience-pleasing qualities of dinosaurs, sharks, and giant monsters in general. Evidently, this generation is the one who became film directors because of Steven Spielberg. On that note, it'll almost always be depicted as looking like a giant great white, but it's exact appearance in relation to other sharks is unknown, and most paleontologist suspect that this was unlikely.note 


Sub-Trope of Threatening Shark, Prehistoric Monster and Sea Monster. Compare Kraken and Leviathan; Giant Squid.

Probably deserves honorary mention among Stock Dinosaurs, though nobody would mistake it for one.

Note that "megalodon" is the animal's specific epithet, not the generic name, so it should not be capitalized.

Basically a Dire Shark.

Compare Tyrannosaurus rex.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 

  • In The Swarm of War, the new Overmind make a swimming Zerg unit which is one of these. It is even called the Carcharlisk.

  • A Megalodon is seen battling with a pair of prehistoric whales in the opening of Dino Dana: The Movie.
  • The Meg centers on one actually two of these emerging from a hidden deep-sea refuge in the present day. Naturally, chaos ensues.
  • Megalodon: A 2002 shark film about oil drillers near Greenland who uncover a huge deposit of surviving prehistoric animals (including the megalodon) which goes on a killing spree and crashes an airborne helicopter from deep below the surface which singlehandedly ruins everyone's day. At the end of it all one of the characters makes a Heroic Sacrifice and the survivors get away... until ANOTHER one pops out.
  • Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus: The titular Mega Shark of this film and its three sequels is a Megalodon, with one shark appearing in the first two films and two others of its kind each featuring in the third and fourth films.
  • Shark Attack 3: Megalodon: While the first two films in the trilogy featured mutant Great White Sharks, the third in this series features a non-mutant Megalodon.
  • In Shark Hunter, the main character is orphaned as a kid by a megalodon. As an adult, he joins a team going into a trench to figure out the fate of an underwater research station. It was destroyed by a megalodon, which ends up assaulting the sub and causing general death and destruction.

  • While not a megalodon per se, The Adventures of Pinocchio is worth a mention for containing possibly the first "giant shark" in fiction. It has Pinocchio get swallowed by a giant sea creature known as "The Terrible Dogfish." "Dogfish" is in fact the literal translation of the Italian word for "shark", though it's typically depicted as being even larger than a megalodon. The Disney animated movie changed it to a whale.
  • Extinct by Charles Wilson (one which was almost made into a TV miniseries).
  • The Alan Dean Foster short story He is a fairly straightforward adventure story with some Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane elements, in which an oceanographer tangles with a surviving megaladon in the waters off one of the remoter atolls of American Samoa; it was first published in 1976.
  • In Peter Benchley’s Jaws Hooper compares the sharks size as “Damn near megalodon” and says that there could even potentially exist sharks that dwarf even the one they are hunting, which Quint dismisses.
  • Killer Sharks: the Real Story, a 1977 book by Brad Matthews (actually by novelist Nelson DeMille to cash in on Jaws). Towards the end of this Tall Tale, 'Captain Matthews' hears rumors that the Megalodon might still be alive, and follows them to a remote Pacific island where the natives feed and worship a giant shark god.
  • Steve Alten writes a lot of books with these; his novel Meg was about a megalodon that makes it to the surface after surviving down in the Mariana Trench. Hilarity Ensues. It was loosely adapted into the film The Meg. The novel and its sequels depict the megalodon doing such things as eating a Tyrannosaurus rex in one bite and fighting other (equally oversized) underwater predators. In many ways, Alten's books are the Trope Codifier for how the megalodon is perceived in pop-consciousness.
  • Megalodon by Robin Brown came out in 1981 before the prehistoric megashark became a household name, resulting in the novel being republished under the uninspiring name of Shark. The idea of megalodon being a shallow water predator is discussed, and while the book does have the shark surviving in a deep-sea trench, it goes out of its way to show how it's evolved and adapted to live there—it's become a slow-moving scavenger with highly sensitive eyes that can't tolerate bright light. Unfortunately the US Navy is sending down submarines to survey the trench with intent to mine its rich load of gold and uranium, at the same time that the megalodon family gives birth to a more hungry and aggressive offspring.
  • The Shark Wars series by EJ Altbacker stars a megalodon named Gray.
  • Captain Nemo vs. Megalodon by Flash Rex is Exactly What It Says on the Tin with the infamous captain from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in his Nautilus runs afoul of a living Otodus megalodon.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The History Channel series, Jurassic Fight Club, featured the Megalodon in an episode called "Deep Sea Killers". It portrayed a deadly battle between Megalodon and Brygmophyseter, a prehistoric sperm whale.
  • The titular shark was featured in Discovery Channel's 2013 Shark Week mockumentary Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives, a Spiritual Successor to Mermaids: The Body Found, which itself featured a Megalodon.
    • The following year Shark Week aired another mockumentary titled Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine which is a fictionalised account of an attack on a group of people in South Africa by a nearly Megalodon-sized legendary great white nicknamed “Submarine” which is believed (but yet to be proven) to be real.
    • In 2018, the network aired a second documentary about the Megalodon, titled Megalodon: Fact vs. Fiction. This one was a lot more down-to-earth and less sensational than the first one, and went out of its way to debunk a number of common misconceptions surrounding the shark.
  • Megalodon gets its own episode in the National Geographic Channel series Prehistoric Predators.
  • A megalodon features in two episodes of Sea Monsters.

  • Slamming deathcore band Guttural Slug release an album called so.
  • Mastodon's second album, Leviathan, particularly the song "Megalodon".
  • A djent band from South Africa is named after this behemoth.
  • There are two American doom metal bands sharing this title, with one's logo typified as the mammoth in question.
  • "Megladon (sic) Jaw" by underground Seattle rapper P-Wrecks.
  • Paleo-artist Ray Troll, who is also a musician, wrote a song featuring the shark.

  • One mode in Deadpool centers on the title character traveling back in time and fighting one of these.

  • Bedtime Stories You Tube Channel episode "There Is Something In The Water" mentions a Real Life incident where a Great White Shark that had been tagged by a tracker was killed and eaten by something much larger and fiercer than itself. Initially the marine biologists who were monitoring the tag thought the culprit was an orca, one of the few sea creatures that are known to willingly tangle with them, but some of the location data recovered from the rather battered locator indicated that the shark had been dragged to a depth far below the normal range for orcas or most other whales. The implication to all this being that it's possible that small numbers of megalodons are still down there somewhere.note .

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In First Edition, megalodons are up to 50 feet long and can swallow smaller creatures whole. As was often the case in D&D, swallowed creatures could cut their way out. Third edition megalodons are 100 feet long and are known to leap out of the water to snatch low-flying rocs or dragons.
    • The patron deity of the sahuagin race, Sekolah, manifests as a megalodon.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition. One of the most dangerous predators in the seas of the Hollow Earth is the megalodon, a shark that's more than 100 feet long and weighs more than 50 tons. They feed on whales and plesiosaurs, but avoid attacking the kraken.
  • A megalodon is one of the treasures that can be found in Salvage Hidden Treasures. It is very useful as it protects the player that owns it from any shark attack event.
  • Scion: Megalodons appear as part of the monstrous fauna that the Drowned Road, Titan of Water, controls.
  • In Shadowrun, a type of giant regenerating Awakened shark is commonly called "megalodon" for its resemblance to the extinct species, although its scientific name differs.
  • In Chaosium's Stormbringer supplement Demon Magic, the adventure "Sorcerer's Isle" had a megalodon that could sink ships by biting through their hulls and a giant whale-like demon named Lvthn.

    Video Games 
  • ARK: Survival Evolved: Megalodon (or rather, Ultramegalodon) is a common threat to players exploring the game's oceans. However, if you have the time and resources on hand, you can actually domesticate it yourself.
  • Battlefield 4 : In the Naval Strike DLC map, Nansha Strike, if you position at least ten players around the floating buoy in Conquest Large and wait a few second, a Megalodon will jump out of the water and return to the depths, killing everything in its way.
  • Champions Online features a giant mutated shark named Megalodon. It was planned to be a boss, but has not been implemented as one so far.
  • Depth lets you play as a megalodon against a team of divers in a 5v1 game mode called Megalodon Hunt.
  • EverQuest: Back during the beta period, the Megalodon was an absolutely gigantic shark found in Lake Rathe. It's jaw size was larger than a giant. Because the area itself is dotted with various islands, this made it extremely difficult for the monster to actually stay in the water, and it was eventually removed from the game right before the game went live. The Megalodon would later be put back into Lake Rathe as a special encounter boss battle during the 2nd Epic Quest for the Shaman class, but it wasn't nearly as large as the original was.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: You can catch one, but not as a trainable monster or anything — it's a fish and you catch one with a fishing rod. You can even turn it into a display piece for your house, and it's a great conversation starter for company-mates and visitors!
  • Guild Wars 2 has at least two timed group events with champion zombie megalodons
  • Maneater: The final growth stage of the titular shark is called "megalodon". Though as a bull shark, her relationship to the actual species Carcharocles megalodon is quite distant.
  • The Ocean Hunter uses Megalodon as its version of Leviathan, the boss of the second stage.
  • Scribblenauts has a megalodon as one of its summonable creatures.
  • Sea of Thieves: The expansion "The Hungering Deep" introduces the megalodon as a boss, which can be summoned or (in a later update) come across as a random encounter. That said, it more resembles some mutant monster shark rather than a megalodon, complete with Extra Eyes and Spikes of Villainy.
  • Stranded Deep: One of these serves as a boss battle. Since the game takes place in modern times and there is no real explanation, it can be excused by Rule of Cool.


    Web Video 
  • Documentary animator Julian Johnson-mortimer featured the megalodon in several of their videos. Instead of a bloodthirsty monster it's portrayed as a normal marine animal roaming about, with nursery grounds for smaller offspring. And it proves to be Not So Invincible After All when a Livyatan dispatches even a fully grown adult.
  • PBS Eons released a free online documentary that summarizes the biology and history of the megalodon in very up-to-date terms, while occasionally taking playful jabs at movies insisting they are still alive. The conclusion is a combination of climate changes, ecosystem reorganization limiting food, and competition with great white sharks likely worked in tandem to cause the megalodon's extinction.
    Kallie Moore: "It turns out while megalodon would be the biggest shark that ever swam, it would eventually be defeated by the greatest."

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Some older articles or books likely gave the species the full scientific name Carcharodon megalodon. This is because it was thought to belong to the same genus as, and possibly was the ancestor of, the modern great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias. This is because the two have very similar teeth and hypothetically similar habits, because they both prey on marine mammals. It turns out the megalodon and great white's physical resemblance was more coincidence and specifically because they were adapted to hunt the same prey, a process called convergent evolution. The megalon instead belongs to and was the last member of a now sadly extinct genus called Otodus, whereas the great white shark is actually a super-sized and burly member of the mako shark family. This means reconstructions (and plenty of low budget movies reusing shark models) of megalodon that make it look like a giant version of the great white might not be very accurate, and the real animal probably looked quite different.
  • It is important to remember that Otodus megalodon was a real animal and not a perpetually ravenous, all-powerful killing machine. Even in its heyday of the Pliocene, the shark did have serious competition from various types of predatory toothed whales. The largest of them, Livyatan, likely surpassed the shark in size and mass. It's probable it even hunting the shark from time to time, much like how orca hunt great white and tiger sharks. Not So Invincible After All indeed.
  • A lot of conspiracy theorists or cryptozoological circles push forth the idea that megalodon yet lives in the modern oceans, inspiring more than a few mockumentaries and movies. Sites like youtube get flooded with videos of claiming reasons the enormous shark yet lives. While a lot of arguments seem sound at first, pretty much all of them fall apart under some critical thought and studies on the ocean. Sad as it is to say, there are no Otodus megalodon swimming the seas and humanity missed its chance to see a live one by a few million years.
    • This video critically analyzes a presentation claiming for the megalodon's survive and very thoroughly debunks it.