It's basically just a huge freaking shark. Carcharocles megalodon lived from 15.9 to 2.6 million years ago, was at least 15m long at the very minimum and almost certainly grew up to 18 metres, weighed 75 tons (making it stand alongside Livyatan as the largest undisputed apex predator of all time), and was an apex predator that reigned for 20 million years (20 times longer than most others), specialized in killing whales. The cause of the titan's extinction is debatable, 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. 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.
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.
- In the Doraemon film "Nobita and the Great Mermaid Battle", the royal merpeople keep a living megalodon which they feed criminals to.
- In One Piece, the mermaid princess Shirahoshi has a pet megalodon named Megalo. He is actually very tame, so much so that Luffy later smuggles Shirahoshi out of the castle by hiding her in Megalo's mouth.
- Megalodons are seen living in the waters around Themyscria during Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman. Steve Trevor reacts appropriately when one lunges at him.
- Justified, as Themyscria is home to many extinct, or supposedly mythical, creatures.
- Aquaman summons an entire army of them in the New 52, to the the point of memetic levels.
- In The Swarm of War, the new Overmind make a swimming Zerg unit which is one of these. It is even called the Carcharlisk.
- The Meg centers on one actually two of these emerging from a hidden deep-sea refuge in the present day. Naturally, chaos ensues.
- 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.
- 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 even 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.
- 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. Of course, it was destroyed by a megalodon, which ends up assaulting the sub and causing general death and destruction.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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—basically, 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.
- 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.
- Extinct by Charles Wilson (one which was almost made into a TV miniseries)
- The Shark Wars series by EJ Altbacker stars a megalodon named Gray.
- 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.
- A megalodon features in two episodes of Sea Monsters.
- Megalodon gets its own episode in the National Geographic Channel series Prehistoric Predators.
- 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.
- 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 even went out of its way to debunk a number of common misconceptions surrounding the shark.
- 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.
- Mastodon's second album, Leviathan, particularly the song "Megalodon".
- "Megladon (sic) Jaw" by underground Seattle rapper P-Wrecks.
- A djent band from South Africa is named after this behemoth.
- Slamming deathcore band Guttural Slug release an album called so.
- There are two American doom metal bands sharing this title, with one's logo typified as the mammoth in question.
- 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.
- 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.
- Scion: Megalodons appear as part of the monstrous fauna that the Drowned Road, Titan of Water, controls.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Scribblenauts has a megalodon as one of its summonable creatures.
- The Ocean Hunter uses Megalodon as its version of Leviathan, the boss of the second stage.
- Champions Online features a giant mutated shark named Megalodon. It was planed to be a boss, but has not been implemented as one so far.
- 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.
- 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!
- Depth lets you play as a megalodon against a team of divers in a 5v1 game mode called Megalodon Hunt.
- Guild Wars 2 has at least two timed group events with champion zombie megalodons.
- ARK: Survival Evolved: Megalodons are very common in the oceans of the game, though their size is based on the minimum estimates. They're tameable too, but not the most dangerous creature one can encounter under the sea when you've got giant mosasaurs.note
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Schlock Mercenary mentions out of hand that megalodons were genetically recreated sometime between the 21st and 31st centuries, then hunted back to extinction. Then, real-time years later some mad scientist on a resort planet clones a bunch of different species of sea predator, including a megalodon that eats two of the Toughs on vacation (fortunately the second one was wearing his armor).
- Manly Guys Doing Manly Things:
- How does Commander Badass end the survival derby? By making a Dynamic Entry riding a megalodon wearing a sweater, of course!
Jones: Is that a megalodon? Did you knit that sweater for it?
Commander: CORRECT ON BOTH COUNTS, JONES.
- The megalodon's later seen waving goodbye to the Commander after the derby ends. And yes, it got to keep the sweater.
- How does Commander Badass end the survival derby? By making a Dynamic Entry riding a megalodon wearing a sweater, of course!
- The Real Ghostbusters episode, Play Them Ragtime Boos, features a scene where the group are transported back in time to the Cenozoic Era in the middle of the ocean, where a hungry megalodon eyes them for lunch. Said megalodon actually looks more like a mosasaur.
- Another "megalodon" that looks like a mosasaur appears in the first episode of Dino Squad.
- The Secret Saturdays: V.V. Argost, the Big Bad, wears a bulletproof cape made from megalodon skin.
- The Deep: In one episode, two of the Nektons end up stuck in the gills of one of these after nearly being eaten by it.
- Atomic Puppet once fought a villain named Megalo-Don, though this one's a tiny shark-lobster hybrid who can consume lava to become bigger and stronger.
- One of the unaired Pilot episodes of Kenny the Shark is a music video about Megalodon, misspelled as "Megaladon".