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A subset of Starfish Aliens, and a popular form for aliens to take in fiction. This kind of design works because octopuses already look alien enough to most people.

This kind of alien is especially popular in Japan (particularly of the Martian variety), replacing the Little Green Men and The Greys that are often seen as the archetypical aliens in American media. Japan's take on the concept usually has them with large octopus, squid or jellyfish-like Cephalothorax bodies, long tentacles usually used to stand or to hold things, and a funnel-shaped mouth.

Lovecraftian-inspired Eldritch Abominations often fall into this role, with giant tentacles (often of the octopus variety) sometimes being all you can see of the creature.

See also Cthulhumanoid. Very much often overlaps with Tentacled Terror.


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Examples

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Superboy and the Ravers: Shaar Q's race are essentially built like oddly shaped head/bodies with octopus-like siphons and a mass of smaller tentacles and one large one, though they move like Snake People, slithering along on their large main tentacle.

    Films — Animated 
  • Home: The Book have multiple tentacles in place of humanoid legs, an ability to change color that's often dictated by their emotions and an elongated pair of siphons from the tops of their hands called "nostricles". The follow-up series establishes other octopoid traits like having multiple hearts, being cold-blooded and their heads being capable of inflation through their nostricles like a mantle.
  • Lilo & Stitch: Pleakley, the one-eyed alien, has two arms, three legs, and a long, skinny torso that has a flimsy octopus-like quality to it. His design, however, is more comical than truly alien.
  • Monsters vs. Aliens: Gallaxhar is an evil extraterrestrial with octopus-like tentacles instead of legs and a large head shaped like a cephalopod's body.
  • Titan A.E.: Cale Tucker gets a serving of alien spaghetti and meatballs in the scrapyard's commissary: the spaghetti resembles boiled kelp, and the meatballs are small creatures that once had tentacles, but these were obviously chopped off. Despite this handicap, they hop around madly on Cale's plate, perhaps sensing their impending doom.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Arrival: The heptapods are very similar to giant octopus aliens, of course except that they have seven tentacles.
  • Battle: Los Angeles: Although the aliens look vaguely humanoid, this is only because they have a humanoid cybernetic frame that their bodies are wrapped around that lets them function on land. When their frames are damaged, their bodies are left immobilized on land and they resemble octopus-like creatures. They also seem to be far more at home in aquatic environments, even preferring to deploy their control systems inside the sewers of Los Angeles instead of on the surface.
  • Galaxy Quest: The Thermians have this as their default form, but they disguise themselves as humans so that the main cast will understand them.
  • Men in Black: J helps an alien to deliver a baby. During the process he is attacked by several tentacles, and when the mother finally gives birth to the baby, it looked like a grey and squid hybrid.
    K: (to the baby's father) Congratulations, Reg. It's a... squid.

    Literature 
  • Alien in a Small Town: All Jan have at least two tentacles, but members of the the Warrior Caste have six.
  • Armada: The Sobrukai are a race of aliens resembling squids and the antagonists of the Fictional Video Game. They reside in an underwater base on another planet.
  • The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids: The Wellsians are, as their name not-so-subtly suggests, versions of H. G. Wells's Martians (their name comes from the name they give their own planet, "Wellsia"). They are frequently described as "vampire octopuses", but look somewhat less like cephalopods than Wells's originals: their flesh is chalk-white, their tentacles are numerous and uneven (with some forking once or even twice like roots), and instead of beaks, they have almost human-like faces.
  • Cthulhu Mythos: H. P. Lovecraft may be the Trope Codifier with the description of the Great Old Ones and related creatures in his stories. Many of them involve tentacles of some kind, and his most famous character, Cthulhu explicitly has a face that resembles an octopus, albeit crossed with a human skull.
  • The War of the Worlds is probably the Trope Maker, as the Martian invaders are described as cephalopod-like creatures the size of bears who move around on land with their tentacles. Apparently, Wells came up with the idea by postulating that as the Martians advanced technologically, more and more of their bodies became useless and atrophied away, with the only parts preserved being their brains, their eyes and their hands (the "guide and teacher of the brain"). By the time they invade Earth, they're essentially reduced down to a head and a few manipulative tentacles. Oddly the creature redesigns for most of its adaptations (little creatures with multi-colored eyes in the 1953 version and three-legged The Greys in the 2005 version) actually seem less exotic by comparison.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Daleks' outer shells are essentially war machines functioning as life-support/transportation devices, but on the comparatively rare occasions the actual dalek creatures inside them are shown, they are usually shown as jellyfish-like blobs in the original, and many-tentacled brains with a single eye in the reboot.
    • The Ood appear as humanoids with a bundle of tentacles in place of a mouth, with a small forward brain they hold in their hands alongside a hind brain inside their heads and a giant central brain binding together the entire species. Although the complex social order created by the resulting Hive Mind can prove incomprehensible or even openly hostile to others, they are discovered to actually be quite trope-subvertingly benevolent once humans stop enslaving all of them.
  • Farscape: The extra-dimensional alien encountered by Crichton in "Through the Looking Glass" resembles a cephalopod dwelling in a strange non-aquatic medium.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • "Worlds Apart": Shortly after his ship crashlands on another planet, the astronaut Lt. Christopher Lindy's inflatable raft is attacked by a giant alien squid.
    • "The Camp": The Commandant keeps a sharrak, an alien creature resembling a giant squid that can split its tentacles in two, at the titular concentration camp. On occasion, he feeds disruptive prisoners to it. The sharrak is itself a food source as the New Masters consider it a delicacy.
  • Sesame Street: The Yip-yips are like benign, childishly curious versions of Wells's Martians.
  • Ultraseven: Chibu (sometimes Chibull) sorta looks like a giant brain with tentacles and a face. As his appearance suggests, he doesn't have a lot of fighting prowess, but he is definitely one of Seven's more cunning foes. Another alien of Chibu's species named Exceller appears as the Big Bad of Ultraman Ginga S.

    Podcasts 

    Religion and Mythology 
  • The Hawaiian creation myth posits that our universe is created and destroyed in cycles, and that octopuses are the sole survivors of the universe that existed before the current one.

    Video Games 
  • Duke Nukem: Octobrains (octopus-like alien brains with tentacles) are regular enemies in the games.
  • Ecco the Dolphin has the alien Vortex, who in the case of the drones have this look, with big heads and numerous tentacles and limbs beneath.
  • F-Zero: Octoman is a variation on the concept due to actually having a torso.
  • Gal Metal has the octopus-looking Octoid aliens.
  • Insaniquarium: The Psychosquid takes this trope rather literally: it's a red alien that looks almost exactly like an octopus, only with less tentacles and more weapons.
  • Jamestown: Legend of the Lost Colony: Mars' native civilisation is a race of floating betentacled creatures of varying size.
  • Metal Slug: The Mars People are (mostly) green octopoids that stand on their tentacles while wielding rayguns. They also occasionally curl up to float through the air.
  • Miitopia: The Alien enemies look a lot like octopuses. Laser gun-wielding octopuses.
  • Mother: Mooks are a race of aliens with octopus-like bodies.
  • Pokémon Sun and Moon: The first of the Ultra Beasts, Nihilego, is designed to evoke the stereotypical Japanese "jellyfish alien", but the positioning of its tentacles also causes it to resemble a long-haired girl with no face. They are implied to be one of the more common inhabitants of Ultra Space.
  • Rama: The Octospiders, so-named for being cephalopods with hair similar to a spider. They also communicate through colored light patterns, being deaf.
  • Rhythm Heaven Megamix: The aliens in the "First Contact" mini-game are jellyfish-like creatures.
  • Space Invaders: According to The Other Wiki, designs of the enemy aliens were based on the octopus-like ones from The War of the Worlds as well as in squids and crabs.
  • Super Mario Bros.:

    Webcomics 
  • Freefall: Sam Starfall is implied to look like an octopus or squid wrapped around a stick figure artificial skeleton under the environment suit that protects him from Earth-like atmospheres, and humans from going insane from looking at him.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Octopuses themselves are incredibly intelligent, displaying advanced problem solving skills and even tool use. However, this intelligence evolved along completely different lines than that of vertebrates such as mammals and birds. In fact, many regard them as the best example we currently have of an "alien" intelligence on Earth.


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