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Multipurpose Tongue

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Multipurpose Tongues can do a lot more than taste, such as grasp, sting, or bash objects. A great variety of creatures could possess this kind of tongue, but they're usually reptilian or amphibians. Many characters add an Animal Motif based on their ability.

A Multipurpose Tongue is sometimes fully prehensile, allowing characters to grab and carry things solely with their tongue. Less prehensile variants may be coated in some sticky substance, or have tiny suction pads like an octopus's tentacles. Alternatively, a Multipurpose Tongue could be covered in a slimy substance, allowing the character to escape a grapple hold with their saliva. Particularly in the case of stinging Multipurpose Tongues, the appendage may have a venomous component (or skin-contact poison) that causes paralysis in the target.


Power Perversion Potential abounds. Can fall under Bizarre Alien Limbs. Usually, this trope needs an Overly Long Tongue just to function.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Naruto: Orochimaru has a snake motif; one of the most unsettling applications of this is his repeated use of his tongue as a weapon, which he does so efficiently that he was still able to defend himself when he was briefly deprived use of his hands. All of this, of course, invokes Yamata-no-Orochi, the so-called "Japanese Hydra."
  • The Pokémon Lickitung (and his evolution, Lickilicky) uses its tongue to gather food, and to fight enemies, either by wrapping them up, or licking them.
  • Tsuyu Asui of My Hero Academia being a frog girl thanks to her Quirk, she naturally has an Overly Long Tongue which she can use in a variety of ways, from attacking to carrying people and items, among other uses.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • Toad uses his long, prehensile tongue in combat as one of his primary abilities.
    • Amphibius, also from X-Men, has a long tongue he uses to capture people.
  • Anole, also from the Marvel Universe, uses his prehensile tongue as a weapon and to reach distant objects. And considering that he's gay, naturally fans have taken this and ran with it.
  • Sugar-Man, from Generation Next, uses his long, razor-sharp tongue as a weapon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In La lengua asesina (The Killer Tongue), a woman gets a giant tongue that speaks and kills people. At first, the woman wants to get rid of it, but eventually learns to use it as a weapon against others.
  • Gungans have this feature, which was Played for Laughs in The Phantom Menace.
  • One of the creatures from Evolution has an extendible tongue tipped with a second, predatory head.
  • The iconic Alien is famous for the jaws on its tongue, and the above-mentioned Evolution creature is likely a Shout-Out to it.
  • Alice in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen tries to kill Sam by impaling him with her robotic tongue.

  • Expedition, a science-fiction book by Wayne Douglas Barlowe, features many strange creatures including the Arrowtongue and Bolt-tongue, which use their retractable tongues (or rather the appendages in their mouths that resemble tongues) to subdue prey. An Arrowtongue usually uses its tongue to pierce its victim's skin and inject digestive juices.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • According to The Wildlife of Star Wars: A Field Guide, a Bantha has a long prehensile tongue that it can use to hold objects and communicate with another Bantha.
    • Galaxy of Fear's Enzeen look like Rubber-Forehead Aliens, but while they do have human-style mouths, they eat exclusively through their long, powerful nutrient-draining tongues. Usually those are kept neatly retracted.
  • Murasaki includes one alien species whose tongues also function as sexual organs. The human visitors have been known to cause scandals now and then by opening their mouths in public.
  • In Larry Niven's Known Space Verse, the two-headed puppeteers use the long, dexterous tongues in their mouths as hand-substitutes, together with the mobile, fleshy knobs on their lips.
  • In Jack Sharkey's "Arcturus Times Three", a xenobiologist's consciousness is projected into alien organisms to observe them. One is an ambush predator with an extensible tongue, which is actually its own conjoined, budded offspring. When this "tongue" catches prey, it eats and grows larger, eventually becoming too big for its "parent" (now dying) to retract. It then sprouts a juvenile "tongue" of its own, and the process repeats.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
  • In Farscape, Luxans have long tongues, tipped with knock-out venom. However, D'Argo has also used it for dangling off ledges and snatching objects in a hurry- though it takes a lot of practice to perfect.
  • Juken Sentai Gekiranger: Mele can use her tongue to stab people, or hit their pressure points and disrupt the flow of their chi.
  • A minor character in one episode of Space Precinct used his to remove a bomb stuck to the hood of the car he was in.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arduin: An ibathene's tongue is long, prehensile and very strong, and their owners typically open fights by wrapping them around their targets, attempting to both crush them and drag them towards their mouths.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade vampires using the discipline Serpentis (which are almost exclusively the Followers of Set and their bloodlines) are able to turn their tongue into a serpent's tongue, which can be used in as many ways as one can imagine, including in a fight and for drinking blood — during said fight, at that. Mortals are said to find the touch of the Setite's tongue pleasing.
  • Changeling: The Dreaming: According to their splatbook, some sluagh have prehensile tongues. In combat, such a sluagh can lick an opponent, and, contrary to the Setite's tongue, have the opponent utterly overcome with revulsion.
  • Some Dungeons & Dragons monsters can attack with their tongues, such as the froghemoth or mohrg.
  • Steeds of Slaanesh from Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 have whip-like tongues several meters long, which are coated with a paralyzing poison. The Steeds use these tongues to attack their enemies, immobilizing the opponent so that they are helpless against their rider's tender mercies.

    Video Games 
  • Yoshi invokes this trope quite a fair bit in some of his games. Although a lot of his skillset revolves around eating living things, he can use his tongue for other things, especially in Yoshi's Story, where Yoshi can use it to nudge bubbles around if need be, and use it to hookshot his way onto red ! balls.
  • Gex uses his tongue for several things, especially volleying out fire, ice and slime when he's eaten a powerup, as well as to grab ledges in lieu of his hands.
  • Sting Chameleon of Mega Man X uses this for two of his primary attacks. His melee attack comprises of a painful metal tongue lash, but he can also hang from the roof with it to cause spikes to rain down from the ceiling.
  • This is the main mechanic of Chameleon Twist.
  • The Resident Evil games feature the Lickers, who often use their elongated tongues to decapitate or impale people.
  • Smokers in Left 4 Dead will use their elongated tongues (which may or may not actually be their intestines) to grab survivors at long range and pull them close in order to beat the crap out of them. It's especially nasty if the Smoker has the high ground over you, since you will be hanged and lose health more quickly than if he was beating you up. It's even worse if he drags you into a Bottomless Pit for an instant kill.
  • In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, the Headhunter's lizard form will attack Soma with its tongue. In Dawn of Sorrow, capturing the soul of a Cave Troll will enable Soma to use a tongue attack himself.
  • Final boss Mondu's stomach mouth uses its tongue as an attack in the aptly named Tongue of the Fatman, rereleased under the name Slaughter Sport on the Genesis.
  • In Heroes of the Storm, Dehaka from StarCraft has the Drag as one of his basic skills, which makes him use his tongue to grapple onto opponents and drag them along as he moves.
  • Tahm Kench in League of Legends. His tongue is his weapon. But that's not the real threat.
  • Yooka of Yooka-Laylee utilizes his tongue as a whip and grappling hook.
  • The Luring Slurker in Hey! Pikmin can use its tongue to squish enemies. It also has the ability to drain its preys and water from their heat.
  • Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus has the Fleeches, slug creatures that use their long tongues to ensnare their prey a'la frogs, as well as grappling hooks to navigate their environment.
  • Frog from Chrono Trigger is, well, a giant frog, and able to use his tongue in combat offensively and defensively (he can heal allies by licking them). In fact, he actually thanks the man responsible for his transformation, as he'd never have made it this far without his new abilities.

  • In Schlock Mercenary the Frelenti have prehensile tongues. Legs, the Toughs' Frelenti member, uses hers when piloting shuttlecraft or to wield a pugil stick as part of the Toughs' combat courses (and despite the pugil sticks normally being communal use, she has her own with her name written on it because of this fact). It's also hypersensitive. Legs can track by taste nearly as well as Schlock can, but dislikes doing so for sanitary reasons.
  • In tinyraygun, baby alien Doppler can wrap its tongue around objects and yank 'em with enough force to snatch it out of a grown brute's hand.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Nanase, while in a gecko form, uses her tongue to attach to a switch in midair which allows her to flip it despite failing to grab it with her hands.
  • The frog in the protagonist's party in Blue Moon Blossom is seen using their tongue as an appendage- first to grab the rabbit spirit, and second to tip a mug full of drink into their mouth. It's a good thing they can do this, since they have no other appendages.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Mystique Sonia from Hero: 108 has several uses of her long tongue.
  • In The Secret Saturdays, Drew Saturday's Evil Twin from another dimension has a prehensile tongue that she uses as a whip.
  • In The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, Bubbie's tongue is sometimes shown as being prehensile.
  • One of the antagonistic alien species in Men in Black is a sort of six-foot-tall anthropomorphic lizard-salamander thing. Apparently their tongues can be fired from their mouths with enough force to knock out a human being, among other uses.
  • Tung from Dex Hamilton: Alien Entomologist often uses his elastic tongue as a weapon or an extra arm.
  • In Family Guy, Gene Simmons is often portrayed as having a multi-purpose tongue that he can extend at will.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Between Dark and Dawn" introduces Mr. Tortoise-Snap, a colossal tortoise that can deploy its long tongue with the speed of a whip to coil around objects. It's coated in sticky saliva and strong enough to uproot a full-grown tree before bringing it to the ravenous beast's beak.
  • The eponymous character of Kaeloo, being a Funny Animal frog, has used her tongue to snatch objects in certain episodes as a sort of Furry Reminder.

    Real Life 
  • This trope technically applies to humans, as we use ours not only for processing food — the default job for tongues in the animal kingdom — but also for the completely unrelated task of shaping and modulating our speech.
  • Forked tongues of snakes and monitor lizards are that way because they help the animal smell things. Each tip of the fork picks up molecules from the air, which are drawn into the oral cavity where their vomeronasal organ can "sniff" it. Whichever tip smells more strongly of prey or danger, that's the direction the reptile moves towards or away from.
  • Cats have bristled tongues to maximize their usefulness for grooming purposes, as well as helping in scraping every last bit of meat from the bones of a kill.
  • Giraffes and okapis possess long, prehensile tongues strong enough to tear small branches off of trees to transport the leaf-covered sticks into their mouths.
  • Prey-capture is a very common secondary purpose to which animals put their tongues:
    • Chameleons have enormously long tongues (anywhere to half again as long as their owners to more than twice as long as the rest of the chameleon) made up of a complex springlike system of muscle and collagen, which they famously use to catch prey. When they do this, their tongues don't just stick to the target — they physically grab a solid hold of their prey and wrench it back into the chameleon's mouth.
    • Many amphibians also use their tongues as prey-capture appendages.
    • Specialized predators of ants and termites, particularly aardvarks, pangolins and anteaters, use extremely long slender tongues to collect large numbers of insects from their nests with every lick.
    • Woodpeckers and other birds adapted to feed on bark-boring beetles and grubs usually sport tongues coated with back-pointing bristles, with which to hook insects out of holes in wood.


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