Flies, especially house flies, are attracted to the smell of rot. From garbage to feces to corpses, they love the stuff. And their babies love it too! As such, something gross can be easily be pictured as even grosser if swarms of maggots are covering it, while characters that happen to be maggots have this gross trait often magnetized towards them in their personality.
However, as mentioned as Somewhere, an Entomologist Is Crying, maggots are rarely used to play actual maggots. In their place, mealworms, a type of feeder beetle larvae, are often used.
Compare Flies Equals Evil for their grown-up form's brand of stink attraction. See also Scavengers Are Scum for other corpse-eating animals depicted in a negative light, and You Dirty Rat! for similarly gross animals.
- In a chapter of Franken Fran, Fran comes up with a maggot-like cocoon that allows human babies to gestate outside the womb, preventing many pregnancy-related problems (while the people she presents it to are squicked out by the idea, another one steals the idea and markets it). Unfortunately, people are a lot more careless with the cocoons than with a pregnant woman, and most of them suffer Family-Unfriendly Deaths (eaten by cats, infested by insects, squashed flat...), and even worse, it's implied the process was faulty as one baby that emerges normally is insectoid in appearance.
- Horror mangaka Hideshi Hino (of Panorama of Hell fame) uses this trope a lot, alongside festering sores, sometimes in combination.
- The Corpse Bride has a talking maggot (who is modeled after Peter Lorre) living inside her skull. Despite the creepiness of it all, both she and the maggot are very friendly.
- Flushed Away: Roddy has prepared a meal with Rita's supplies.
Rita: This is quite tasty.
Roddy: Thanks. I don't think it's too bad, considering I only had an apple, four raisins and a box of rice.
Slug: [singing] What is that urge from deep inside? The need to hurl can't be denied. That isn't rice, that's maggots you're eating.
Maggots: Larva, larva, larva, larva... [Roddy tosses the maggots away]
Roddy: Well, that explains why it all went to one side when I put salt in it.
- Grave of the Fireflies: Seita's and Setsuko's mother is gravely injured by the opening bombing raid and spends the last moments of her life as a Bandage Mummy. The audience learns that she is dead when we are treated to a shot of her maggot-infested body being carried away.
- In Battleship Potemkin, the crew of the Potemkin is forced to eat rotten meat full of maggots. When the captain is thrown overboard during the mutiny, a shot of the water roiling after his fall is intercut with a close up of the wriggling maggots that led to the mutiny.
- Blood Bags: When Tony and Alex are rooting around in the house at the beginning of the movie, the camera cuts to the inside of a jar with maggots crawling around inside it.
- Blood Widow: While in the crawlspace underneath the school building, Laurie is scared by a dead body with maggots crawling on it.
- When Gary goes looking for Karen in Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain, he finds her murdered body in the shed with maggots crawling out of her eyes and mouth (despite the fact there would have been barely enough time for flies to lay eggs in her body, let alone enough for them to hatch).
- The Fly (1986) has a notorious nightmare sequence where the female lead is in hospital, seemingly having a miscarriage, but instead she gives birth to a writhing, blood-soaked maggot the length of a man's arm.
- In Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, when Tommy digs up Jason's grave to cremate his corpse, we get a Gross-Up Close-Up of Jason's rotting corpse full with coffin fly maggots, earthworms, cobwebs and other things found in a 10-day old coffin.
- Ghost Ship: Dodge and Munder find canned food which somehow didn't rot after forty years of being in the ship and proceed to eat it. Except it turns out that it did rot and they have been eating maggots all along.
- Gladiator: after he's taken into slavery, Maximus wakes up to find a fellow slave putting maggots into the open sword wound on his shoulder. Justified, as the slave explains the maggots are eating the dead flesh, cleaning the wound.
- Mealworms appear in Hellraiser in the filthy remnants of Frank's kitchen as Larry and Julia move into his abandoned house. Much later on, while Kristy is hiding from Frank she discovers a dead body overflowing with maggots. The second film features a mental patient who hallucinates that maggots are eating him alive. Then someone hands him a straight razor...
- I'm Thinking of Ending Things: Jake tells the young woman a story about his parents' pigs being infested with maggots while alive. The janitor later hallucinates said pig, bleeding onto the school floors as it walks.
- Master: Gail is the first female black "master" of a residence hall and a professor at one of the US's oldest universities. She is horrified to find a drawer full of maggots and has her home fumigated. Later on, she finds that a portrait of her (an oil painting) has maggots spilling out of the mouth. This is her clue that there is something rotten going on at Ancaster.
- Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight: When Julek finds a partially-eaten deer corpse, it's shown to be covered in red maggots. There are also maggots present on the corpses in the basement of the twins' home.
- One Missed Call: While the female lead is searching the Abandoned Hospital, she comes across a phone-holding corpse which has maggots all over it.
- In Poltergeist, one of the parapsychologists investigating the house goes to the kitchen to get something to eat. He gets a chicken drumstick from the refrigerator and starts eating it. When some supernatural hijinks start, he spits out the chicken leg and sees that it's crawling with maggots.
- In Strange Nature, one shot is of a dead frog with maggots crawling all over its exposed innards.
- In Suspiria (1977), When the girls dress up for dinner, maggots starts raining from the ceiling. when the staff goes to the attic to investigate it, it turns out to be rotten food that's sent from a 'reliable firm that we thought to be honest.'
- One of the Dark Forest cats in Warrior Cats is named Maggottail. He's not a very nice cat, and one popular fan theory suggests his name came from his tail being infested with, well... The narrator also notes that he's quite repulsive, noting his "stinky breath and baleful eyes".
- In Ian Banks' note novel The Wasp Factory, a child is thought to be severely retarded — it's revealed that a fly has slipped under his protective covering and there is a seething mass of maggots where his brain ought to be.
- One segment in 1000 Ways to Die is centered around a morbidly obese, wheelchair-bound con artist who lives in complete squalor. His lack of cleanliness is so bad that maggots have infested his kitchen, and have spread to the point where they're starting to feed off of his bedsores. Surprisingly, it's not his lack of hygiene that kills him. Instead, he drops dead from massive heart failure due to his junk food diet and lack of exercise.
- American Gods (2017): As a zombie, Laura keeps coughing up big wet chunks of white stuff that turns out to be maggots.
- One episode of Garth Marenghis Darkplace opens with Garth reading us an out-of-context snippet of his novel Slasher.
Mike stared in disbelief as his hands fell off. From them rose millions of tiny maggots. Maggots? Maggots. Maggots. Maggots. Maggots... all over the floor of the post office in Leytonstone.
- Masters of Horror: In the otherwise psychological horror-themed episode "Sounds Like", the main character's wife disappears halfway through the episode. At the end, the cops burst into his house when he goes fully mad, finding her rotting, maggot-eaten corpse in the bedroom.
- Red Dwarf: In "Demons and Angels", Kryten modifies a teleporter to act as a duplicator, creating two copies of the original, which he tests upon a strawberry. However, the device unintentionally splits all the good and bad qualities, so whilst one strawberry tastes incredible, the other is rotten and crawling with maggots, a fact Lister doesn't discover until after he's taken a bite of it.
- Something like this is a cordon bleu delicacy for Klingons in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Commander Riker spends time as an exchange officer on a Klingon ship and is presented with a dish of seething maggots; recognizing this is a test, he eats up without batting an eyelid.
- One round of "Newsflash" on Whose Line Is It Anyway? (where random footage is green-screened behind an unknowing player that has to act like they are filming a news broadcast) was a loop of various writhing maggots, much to the groaning disgust of the audience.
- In Australian Rules Football, the term "white maggot" was a common insult directed at umpires... until the umpires stopped wearing white uniforms. Just "maggot" is still sometimes heard, though.
- One of the absolute grossest golem variants in Dungeons & Dragons is the simply named "Maggot Golem", which debuted in the Ravenloft setting. Existing as a kind of cross between a golem and The Worm That Walks, the core of a maggot golem is an enchanted mass of perpetually rotting meat, which attracts flies; these breed profusely, creating an enormous swarm of maggots that then twist themselves into a repugnant caricature of the humanoid form and attack anything they are directed to - or which happens to be made of meat, which they seek to absorb into their rotting central mass. Because of the magic, the meat "core" of the golem regenerates pretty much as fast as it's eaten, so as maggots age, they pupate, turn into flies, then lay their own eggs in the morass, creating a perpetual cycle that ensures the maggot golem will never die. Aside from just being plain disgusting, the most central features of the maggot golem tend to be a vile stench so overwhelming it can kill, obfuscation from the protective swarm of mother flies, and causing even worse attacks against the Sanity Meter than the standard flesh golem.
- In Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, maggots are strongly associated with Nurgle, the Chaos god of disease and decay, who delights in filth and corruption. One of the reasons is that Nurgle is actually a Friend to All Living Things- it's just that vermin, maggots, and bacteria are living things too.
- Flush Force subverts this with Monstrous Maggot. Despite being a maggot living in a dump, he is very fussy, and a giant germaphobe, explicitly preferring his garbage to be "clean and tidy".
- The Grossery Gang, following in the footsteps of its successor, The Trash Pack, uses maggots as decoration on the characters to signify their rot. Unlike The Trash Pack, they are included in their models in the webseries, as a separately-animated animation asset. Series 4 of the franchise later introduced Maj. Maggots, an evil living maggot that used a rotten chicken drumstick as his weapon.
- The Trash Pack, being based in a garbage dump and having mutated insects as part of the line, includes a few maggot characters. These include Manky Maggot, Squashed Maggot, and Mucky Maggot. Mucky Maggot, in particular, is so big, that he has adult flies covering his body. Some non-maggot Trashies use maggots as "decorations" to increase their gross factor as well.
- CarnEvil: Among the many nauseating horrors in the Freak Show level are maggots with humanlike faces.
- Maggots in Darkest Dungeon are very weak but come in fours and have an attack that can hit anyone, can stun, has a high critical rate so the hero will receive critical damage and stress, and worse, inflicts diseases.
- In Hollow Knight, maggots are weak, harmless creatures who are hated by every other bug and are forced to do menial labor (and, in some cases, are consumed as food). Namely, one maggot had enough of it and steals an armor of the Mighty Hegemol, one of the Five Great Knights, and, now known as the False Knight, uses it to protect itself and its maggot family, smashing anyone on sight.
- One Achewood strip has Cornelius about to make breakfast when he notices what looks like shredded coconut in the skillet. It turns out to be maggots that fell off the corpse of a rat in a trap.
- Awful Hospital:
- One of Fern's allies is Maggie, a maggot wizard that is encountered in one of Fern's own corpses. She is able to conjure swarms of flies as her spells.
- A later ally introduced is Magdolene, made to be an Anthropomorphic Personification of Biodebridement Therapy, also known as maggot therapy. Instead of being a single maggot, her body is made up of a swarm of maggots wrapped around a skull with flies for hair.
- Neopets has a variety of foods that are either maggot-infested or straight up maggots. A majority of this food falls into the "Gross Foods" category. Oddly enough, the "Fly and Maggot Pizza" is considered a standard Pizza category food, while the "Maggot Pizza" is labeled under "Gross Foods" instead.
- Reddit had a story on r/TodayIFuckedUp about someone who copulated with a coconut for around a week, before discovering the coconut was filled with maggots, due to him not washing it out.
- A villain of Ben's introduced in Ben 10 (2016) is a mad scientist that invented a "Maggo-O-Net". It attracts massive swarms of maggots to form a giant monster that's incredibly destructive and hard to stop.
- Freaky Stories:
- One of the hosts of the show is Maurice the maggot. He's constantly dripping slime and is ridiculously gassy.
- One episode features a new girl taking a shine to the biggest loser in the school, happily trading her candy bars for his disgusting lunches. Eventually, he starts giving her random scraps of garbage instead, which she still accepts for the candy bars. In reality, she has been harvesting the trash to use as a breeding ground for maggots, the main ingredient for her experimental candy bars.
- One Monster of the Week in Martin Mystery is the Boogeyman who uses portals made of swamp slime and maggots to teleport between Earth and his home dimension to kidnap children.
- Metalocalypse loves this trope, as whenever a corpse that wasn't freshly killed is shown, it will be infested with maggots; with "Dethrazz" having the worst example, with Dr. Rockso seeing a dead guy with a literal mouthful of them.
- Averted by maggot therapy. Certain types of blowfly larvae are used in medicine to clean out dead tissues within a non-healing wound. The larvae are inserted into a wound, eat the tissues, then secrete liquid which disinfect the wound. Yes, it sounds horrific, but the therapy can be done much faster than regular surgery because, through myiasis, the larvae reproduce fast and can work out the wound in a day or two. The therapy is ancient and was first recognized as a tried-and-true method during World War I.