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It's a Mesoamerican creature called the Ahuizotl.
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Some mythical creatures are well known enough to be recognized instantly. Cerberus the three-headed canine, the fish-tailed mermaids, and the fearsome dragon. Then there are those that one must assume were made up due to not being well known, such as the Nokk of Scandinavian folklore, the Cipactli of Aztec myth, and even a close sibling of the more well-known Cerberus, Orthros.

This also applies to other kinds of made-up creatures, such as cryptids (Ever heard of the New Jersey Mantis Man?), or depictions of famous creatures that are either more accurate (such as a siren being depicted as a half-bird woman rather than being an alternative name for mermaid, which most people would call harpies), or borrow from a different depiction than popular culture (there is some Greek art of a two-headed Cerberus, and a hermaphroditic hag called as a Lamia, a name more used for Snake People these days, and werewolves turning into vampires when dying).

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Similar to its sister trope Seldom-Seen Species, it's a Cyclic Trope by nature, though possibly not quite to the same extent.

Examples of this trope should be creatures of myth or folklore that are still seldom seen in media these days, or at least the depiction shown. Examples of older works that show these creatures or depictions that were rare in media at the time of the work's release but not that obscure now are also allowed. Gods and mythical figures can also count under this trope.

If a creature of folklore or mythology is given the name of another creature without any basis from the original source, then it's Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff". Often an example of Shown Their Work and/or Aluminum Christmas Trees. It should be pointed out that some creatures are more known some to others, such as the Nokk being well-known in Norway but pretty much is unknown in the rest of the world, but it should be pointed out the same applies to Seldom-Seen Species, possibly even more since that trope has a less likely chance to suffer Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff", or Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" in this case.

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Contrast Stock Monsters and Sadly Mythtaken.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen II: There is the Nokk, a water spirit that takes the form of a horse. When most media need a water-based horse from The Fair Folk, they tend to go with the Celtic Kelpie or literally calling it a "water horse" rather than being a Nokk, which is truer to this setting.
  • Fantasia: Appearing in the "Night On Bald Mountain" sequence Chernabog fits here though in a variant as he's not meant to represent the deity he was named after.
  • The Secret of Kells has the Celtic fertility god, Crom Cruach, as one of the main antagonists. While originally a more benevolent god, Crom has often been linked to human sacrifices and depicted as a serpent-like creature.

    Films — Live Action 
  • Clash of the Titans (1981): Before this movie, Medusa and the Gorgons were an obscure monster from Greek mythology. After this film they appeared everywhere, often in the form of the half snake people seen here, which isn't accurate to the myth.
  • The Hong Kong film Oily Maniac revolves around the orang minyak of Malaysian mythology, a shapeshifting Blob Monster made of crude oil whose Voluntary Shapeshifting abilities allows him to transform between human and oily man form at will. To date this is the only non-Malaysian movie that references the orang minyak mythos.

    Literature 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Let's be honest, you would have had no idea that the catoblepas (from Greek legend) even existed if it wasn't a monster in this game. Also, fun fact, the oddly named gorgon is a combination of this creature and another obscure creature of Greek myth (in this case the Argonautica) known as Colchis Bull, also known under its plural term Khalkotauroi.
    • Other examples include the peryton (a stag-headed eagle that needs humanoid hearts to reproduce) and al'miraj (a giant unicorn-horned bunny). The peryton plays on the "mythical"; its earliest mention dates back to 1957, and it's believed it was created as a joke along the lines of "people will believe anything if you say it's in a lost medieval bestiary."
    • And who would have guessed the Tarrasque is taken from mythology?
  • Pathfinder takes D&D's usage of obscure mythical creatures Up to Eleven, with the Bestiaries including countless Genius Bonuses taken from Celtic, Mesopotamian, Persian, Aztec, Inuit, Native American, Chinese, French, Aboriginal Australian, Japanese, Colonial American, and Bagandan folklore.
  • Warhammer: The Lammasu native to the Dark Lands are creatures based on the lamassu of Mesopotamian myth. A mutation of the more common Great Taurus, Lammasu share the appearance of their mythological inspiration, being giant, winged bulls with a human-like head. In contrast to the Mesopotamian lamassu, who were benevolent protective spirits, the Warhammer Lammasu are manipulative creatures that use their charisma and magical abilities to befuddle their enemies and compel other monsters, such as Wyverns and Griffons, to do their fighting for them. Lammasu are most often encountered as mounts for Chaos Dwarf sorcerers but many opponents question whether it is the rider or mount that is the master in their relationship.

    Video Games 
  • Ayakashi: Romance Reborn has several different types of Youkai. Alongside the more well-known ones (Oni, Tengu, Kitsune, Bakeneko and Nekomata...), there is also a Domeki (Oji).
  • Siren from Final Fantasy VIII, while not being completely on the ball on her inspiration, did depict her as a beautiful woman with bird-like characteristics, more in line with the winged bird-woman hybrid from original Greek myth.
  • Catoblepas is also a reoccurring Final Fantasy enemy, though depending on the game it suffers Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff".
  • Pokémon: There are many Pokémon with possible obscure inspirations, both mythical, and real-but-little known animal species. Without Word of God, it's hard to know which is deliberate and which is just coincidental similarities for some of these.
    • Gyarados, along with Magikarp, are partially based on a legend about how carp that leaped over the Dragon Gate would become dragons. Several waterfalls and cataracts in China are believed to be the location of the Dragon Gate. This legend is an allegory of the drive and efforts needed to overcome obstacles, which can be tied to the fact that Gyarados' pre-evolved form, Magikarp, usually takes a lot of drive and effort to legitimately evolve into Gyarados because Magikarp is incredibly weak with only useless moves. Gyarados also resembles the Inkanyamba, a giant, winged, eel that causes storms when angry, a trait Gyarados is famous for.
    • Blaziken and the rest of its line are obvious references to cockfighting roosters, but its part Fire-typing may or may not be a reference to the Basan, a fire-breathing chicken from Japanese folklore.
    • Ho-Oh is clearly a phoenix, which is not a rare or obscure myth at all, but it appears to based on a more specific variant called the Fenghuang, which is lesser known outside of Asian countries, and also appears to take elements from the Huma bird, which is also obscure.
    • Arcanine appears to be very loosely inspired by various guardian statues that combine feline and canine aspects, such as foo dogs. There's variants of these under different names, so it's hard to pin-point an exact one behind the inspiration.
    • Entei, while being a unrelated Pokémon and very different design wise, is believed to be based on similar sources as Arcanine. It's also a Fire-type that blends canine/feline attributes.
    • Espeon, despite possibly being a fox or vaguely ambiguously canine, is believed to be based on two-tailed cat yōkai, which are fairly little known in the West, and rare to see outside of anime or other Japanese works.
    • Umbreon's head has been interpreted by some fans as vaguely resembling a rabbit's head, which are associated with the moon in Japanese folklore, and some other cultures. However, a leaked demo has revealed Umbreon was originally intended to be a Poison-type, not a Dark-type, and thus most likely not originally intended to be associated with the moon when it was designed, so this is presumably just coincidental.
    • Meowstic is another Pokémon based on two-tailed cats.
    • Ancient Egyptians believed that all vultures are female, and they associated them with motherhood and virgin births (or, well, virgin egg laying). The vulture Pokémon, Vullaby and Mandibuzz, are always female, with a Pokedex entry mentioning no male has ever been found. Mandibuzz is somewhat associated with motherhood, as another Pokedex entry talks about it raising Vullaby, even lost ones that are not its own.
    • Sneasel and Weavile share some attributes with Kamaitachi, an Youkai portrayed as an sickle-clawed weasel that lives in cold areas. Sneasel and Weavile have large claws, are mentioned to live in cold areas, and are part Ice-type.
    • Meowth is based on Maneki-neko good luck charms. Meowth learn a signature move called Payday, which gives the player money when it is used in-game, tying into the prosperity, wealth, and good luck theme. Meowth is also shown beckoning in some official art and sprites, like the charms are always doing.
    • Charmander appears to be inspired by the mythological version of salamanders, which are associated with fire, although Charmander is a lizard or a baby dragon, and real salamanders are amphibians. Granted, salamanders look very lizard-like, and Charmander's Japanese and English names imply this to be true. Salandit and Salazzle also reference the same mythical salamanders and their association with fire.
    • Dunsparce is a Tsuchinoko, a bizarre, pudgy snake-like Youkai.
    • Bastiodon's head resembles a Nurikabe, an animated wall Youkai, although being made into a dinosaur is an original take on the idea.
    • Farfetch'd's concept is based on a Japanese saying about a duck carrying onions, which means "something surprising but convenient" because ducks are often cooked with onions. It has a double meaning in that "duck" is also Japanese slang for someone that is gullible or easy to take advantage of, which depending on how you look at it, could refer to the NPC who trades the player this rare Pokémon in return for a very common Pokémon, or the player themselves because that common Pokémon is overall more useful than Junk Rare Farfetch'd, who is a Crutch Character that many people only bother trading for to complete their Pokedex. This entire context is not easily translatable, but they attempted a slight Woolseyism with the English name "Farfetch'd."
    • Centiskorch and its Gigantamax form seem to be inspired by the Ōmukade, a colossal centipede Youkai who lives in the mountains and eats people.
    • Goomy and its evolutions Sliggoo and Goodra are dragons that resemble slugs and snails. They are based on giant snails, found in Medieval French folklore and artwork, that would scare knights. Fittingly, the line was introduced in games set in Kalos, the Pokémon World's Fantasy Counterpart Culture to northern France.
    • There are several other Pokémon based on Youkai.
  • Dragon's Dogma:
    • The game doesn't have any unusual monsters, but the designs of the monsters it does use feel like they came right out of a medieval bestiary, going for traditional depictions over modern alterations. Notable examples of these include ogres, which actively try to eat your party rather than just be orcish brutes, hydras which are giant, multi-headed snakes instead of something more draconic (and regenerating heads and weakness to cauterization are major elements of dealing with them in a reasonable time frame), and harpies that are large birds with the head and chest of a woman, rather than a woman with avian features.
    • Dragon's Dogma Online introduced the Lindwurm as a more obscure monster, while matching the sea-dwelling aspect and wingless, draconic form.
  • Given that the series is all about collecting creatures and beings from world mythology, naturally Shin Megami Tensei features some very obscure myths. In what other game would you see Hua po, Vodyanik, or Ubu, for instance?
  • Honkai Impact 3rd: Played with in that they're just monsters code-named after a mythical figure, but a few Honkai Beasts are named after more obscure figures. Such as "Ashvin" (a twin figure from Hindu myth) or "Tlaloc" and "Tonatiuh" (deities from Aztec myth).
  • One of the bosses Kingdom Hearts III is named, and rather obviously based on, Sköll, the sun-chasing (soon-to-be-sun eating) monstrous wolf of Norse Mythology, and even blacks out or "eats" the light of the sky by coating the sky in darkness, though it slightly more resembles it's twin Hati, due to the fight appearing to take place at night, though that could be the weather.
  • Castlevania loves this trope. Alongside famous horror monsters and mythical beasts, you’ll encounter much more obscure beings like spriggans, chonchons (called bitterflys), mushussus, wakwak trees, and several obscure demons.
  • The Bard's Tale features the Nuckelavee from the Orkney's islands folklore as a boss.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds: One of the playable characters is Tianhuo, a dragon-horse hybrid known as a Longma.
  • Touhou Project has a large menagerie of cute monster girls based on obscure species of youkai and sometimes specific Public Domain Characters that you've likely never heard of.
    • Imperishable Night: Keine Kamishirasawa is a were-hakutaku. That means that on a full moon, she transforms into the Bai Ze, a creature from Chinese Mythology whose name in Japanese is read as "hakutaku". Eirin Yagokoro is probably named after Ame-no-Yagokoro-Omoikane-no-Mikoto, an obscure Japanese deity only known having come up with the plan to lure Amaterasu out of her cave.
    • Mountain of Faith: The gods of the Moriya Shrine are based on the gods of Suwa-taisha. Kanako Yasaka is a Composite Character of Takeminakata-no-Mikoto and his wife Yasakatome-no-Mikoto, while Suwako Moriya is based on Moreya-no-Kami, the previous ruler of the land of Suwa, before being conquered by the aforementioned Takeminakata as well as the ancestor of the Moriya clan (Moreya being an archaic form of Moriya). Sanae Kochiya, meanwhile, is loosely based on a real person, Sanae Moriya, the 78th head of the same Moriya clan.
    • Subterranean Animism: Kisume is a tsurube-otoshi. Parsee Mizuhashi is the Hashihime, a character mentioned in various Heian-era texts, including The Tale of Genji. The sisters Satori and Koishi Komeiji are satori, simian youkai with telepathy, and also borrow elements from Frida Kahlo's painting "The Two Fridas". Utsuho Reiuji received her powers from the three-legged crow Yatagarasu, messenger of Amaterasu.
    • Undefined Fantastic Object: Nue Houjuu is, as her name implies, a nue.
    • Hisoutensoku: The catfish that Meiling fought in her dream is probably a reference to the belief that earthquakes are caused by a giant catfish that lies under Japan. It's actually an avatar of the Chinese god Taisui Xingjun.
    • Ten Desires: Kyouko Kasodani is a yamabiko, a youkai traditionally believed to be the cause of echoes. Seiga Kaku is based on Qing'e, a character from Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, whose name in Japanese is read as Seiga.
    • Hopeless Masquerade: Hata no Kokoro is a menreiki, a type of tsukumogami composed of masks. She's specifically based upon the masks that Hata no Kawakatsu, the legendary father of what would become Noh theatre, received from Prince Shoutoku — whose Historical Gender Flip, Toyosatimimi no Miko, is another important character in Touhou.
    • Legacy of Lunatic Kingdom: The initial antagonist of the game, Sagume Kishin, is the Touhou incarnation of the aforementioned Ame-no-Sagume, and explicitly related to Seija. Clownpiece is rather notable for being the first new character in over a decade to be based on Western mythology. Specifically, she's a lampad, a kind of nymph of madness associated with The Underworld in Classical Mythology. Junko is, in turn, referred to as a Fury in her boss theme and is based on Chún Hú, a figure from Chinese history and legend who conspired to murder her husband Hou Yi as revenge for his killing of her son Bo Feng.note  Finally, the Bonus Boss is, surprisingly to many, a Greek goddess. Which one, you might ask - Athena? Artemis? Aphrodite? Demeter? Hera? Nope, it's Hecate, or as she's known as here, "Hecatia Lapislazuli". (Admittedly, Clownpiece's presence did sort of foreshadow her appearance, as lampades in Greek mythology are Hecate's companions.)
    • Antinomy of Common Flowers: The Yorigami sisters are binbogami, Japanese deities associated with poverty.
    • Hidden Star In Four Seasons: Eternity Larva is hinted to be secretly Tokoyo-no-Kami, an obscure 7th century local deity whose worship was outlawed by Hata no Kawakatsu. Aunn Komano is a komainu, the Japanese variant of the East Asian guardian lion-dogs. Okina Matara may well be the highpoint of ZUN's worldbuilding efforts — she's based on Matara-jin, an esoteric deity of Tendai Buddhism who syncretised a truly staggering amount of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese deities including but not limited to: Mahakala, Mahakali, Dakini-ten, Benzaiten (Sarasvati), Hariti, Daikoku/Ookuninushi, Kunado-no-Kami, Shukujin, Dosojin, Ena-tenjin and also the aforementioned Hata no Kawakatsu, making her implicitly related to Kokoro and the Arch-Enemy of Eternity Larva.
    • Wily Beast and Weakest Creature: The first boss, Eika Ebisu, is based on Ebisu, one of the Seven Lucky Gods of Japanese Buddhism and the first-born child of Izanami. Yachie Kicchou is a jidiao, a Chinese turtle dragon. The final boss, Keiki Haniyasushin, is based on Haniyasuhime, goddess of soil and pottery and the last child of Izanami, making her the massively Stronger Sibling of Eika. Bonus boss Saki Kurokoma, meanwhile, is based on Kurokoma, the legendary flying horse owned by Prince Shotoku — the same Prince Shotoku that aforementioned Toyosatomimi no Miko is based upon.
  • Hades stars a pre-Dionysian Zagreus, a chthonic god so obscure that the surviving mentions of him in the Greek canon can be counted on one hand.
  • Smite has made it a bit of a mission to have obscure mythical figures be playable alongside more well known ones. This includes Bakasura (a gluttonous demon from Hinduism), Kuzenbo (the little-known king of kappas from Japan), Ah Puch (terrible god of the dead from mesoamerica), and the deities Olorun and Yemoja from Yoruban mythology, something that has scarcely appeared in any sort of media.
  • Segare Ijiri: When Segare reaches his house after he achieves the first milestone, his giraffe-headed mother will give you Kudan, a man-headed cow Youkai which is rarely mentioned outside Japan.

    Visual Novels 
  • Shall We Date? franchise:
    • Mononoke Kiss, in which each suitor is a Youkai, has Raizo the Nue, though due to the way the game is translated, he, like the other suitors, suffers from Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff" (he's officially called a "humanoid beast" though the description of such clearly describes a Nue).
    • Shall We Date?: Wizardess Heart has a whole lot of relatively unknown mythical creatures. Nue appear again (though this time they're much creepier), and Nidhogg appears as one of the many mascot characters.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • RWBY has some of the Grimm based on various mythological beasts, most notably the Nuckelavee.

    Western Animation 
  • Something of note when it comes to My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic is that due to a lack of humans, some of these creatures suffer designs variations from their original depictions, at least one being also an example of Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff", but is still based off something obscure, a rare case of the tropes crossing over.
  • One of the best-known episodes of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy is the Halloween special where Grim's scythe is stolen by a villain named Jack O'Lantern, an immortal prankster who'd been beheaded and replaced his head with a pumpkin. This character wasn't invented for the show and is actually based on a relatively obscure mythical figure called Stingy Jack.
  • The Secret Saturdays deals with several of these, by the very nature of the show. Here's a few from its dedicated Shown Their Work page.
    • The Cameroon flashlight frog is based on the real-life cryptid, the flashlight frog, first written about by Karl Shuker in his 1997 book, From Flying Toads to Snakes With Wings. It's said to be a tree frog with a glowing nose and a tongue covered in toxic saliva, traits that both made it into the show.
    • The tapire-iauara is based on a folkloric creature from the Amazon rainforest by the same name. It's said to protect the forest from humans and attack people in boats.
    • Argost's Nicaraguan blood-sucking vines are a reference to the vampire vine/devil's snare, a cryptid plant that can supposedly be found in the jungles of Nicaragua, which sucks the blood of any victim it touches.
  • Mummies Alive! introduced Ammit partway through its run, a creature that was part lion, part crocodile, and part hippopotamus important to Egyptian funerary rites, as the bad guys' Team Pet.
  • In the "Home Sweet Homer" episode of DuckTales (1987), Scrooge and the boys encounter the very little known Scylla and Charybdis. The phrase "between Scylla and Charybdis" is quite well known, but exactly what Scylla and Charybdis were is considerably more obscure.
  • Hilda features mythological creatures rarely seen in cartoons, such a thunderbirds, vittra, lindworms, and nisse.
  • The creators of Victor and Valentino consider it a part of their show's mission to introduce all manner of critters from Mesoamerican mythology into popular culture.

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