The biological equivalent of UFO sightings, cryptids are creatures rumored to exist in Real Life, in isolation or in hiding, yet unrecognized and regarded as implausible by mainstream science. Some may be relict survivors of species believed to be extinct, or known organisms displaced into inappropriate habitats; others are unlike any known species, with characteristics that border upon the supernatural. Folk legends tied to specific cultural traditions (Native American wendigos and skinwalkers, Japanese youkai, Irish aes sídhe, etc.) aren't usually considered cryptids, nor are other overtly supernatural entities like ghosts. Aliens usually aren't either, unless they've been on Earth long enough to "go native" and be sighted in the wilderness.
Whatever their theoretical origin, all cryptids are mysterious by definition. Some of them are, however, sufficiently well-known from legend as to merit their own tropes:
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti
- Fearsome Critters of American Folklore are tongue-in-cheek variants.
- The Jersey Devil
- Living Dinosaurs
- Some varieties of Lizard Folk
- Sea Monster
- Stock Ness Monster
- Yowies and Bunyips and Drop Bears, Oh My
Those cryptids that haven't received heavy media attention, so cannot be classified under the subtropes above, may have works of fiction in which they're featured listed here. Works that feature a wide variety of cryptid types, or follow cryptozoologists' attempts to investigate them, also fall under this trope. Series that only have a Cryptid Episode usually leave their existence open to question, whereas cryptid-themed works generally do reveal their creatures to the audience (if not the characters), sooner or later.
Anime and Manga
- Kagewani has this trope as the main theme of the show. Each episode centers on Banba investigating claims of a cryptid attack on civilians from his and the victim's perspective.
- Engaged to the Unidentified has cryptids as part of its main cast (Hakuya, Mashiro, their mother Shirayuki and a few more), though while they are called many names, including "demons", "Youkai" and the like, they look and mostly behave like ordinary humans. Mashiro is also a fan of cryptids and collects figurines; one of the show's Running Gags is that she somehow always ends up with lots of Nessies, but not much else.
- Kemono Friends features a Tsuchinoko Friend. How exactly she came to be isn't stated, since Friends are created when a living animal or their remains come in contact with Sandstar and to date no physical evidence of the Tsuchinoko has ever been discovered.
- The Perhapanauts follows the exploits of a team of cryptids and other otherworldlies within a super-secret intergovernmental agency known as BEDLAM investigating other cryptids and other otherworldlies.
- Angus Og had Kelpies, Mermaids, and various other cryptids, all exist in Scotland's Western Isles. Thanks to water purification, the Kelpies even turned up in the River Clyde running through the middle of Glasgow.
- One of the major prison gangs in Kaijumax is the Cryps, Kaiju-scaled versions of classic cryptids.
Live Action Film
- The Mothman Prophecies centers on the lives of people who have had encounters with the legendary creature, and are experiencing odd occurrences.
- King Kong is the story of a group of filmmakers in search of the eponymous creature based on rumours, so Kong himself could be considered a cryptid. It's worth noting that King Kong itself was inspired by the discovery of a cryptid-turned-real — the Komodo dragon.
- Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend is about the Mkele-Mbembe, an alleged surviving Dinosaur Lake Monster living in Africa.
- In The Spy Who Haunted Me, the rival spies are tasked to investigate several well-known tabloid-style mysteries, including the Loch Ness Monster and an Arkansas Bigfoot-sighting. And subverts them all, by attributing them to unnatural forces indigenous to Green's Verse, rather than whatever cryptozoologists assume them to be.
- Cryptids in general tend to crop up in Green's Urban Fantasy series, from pet chupacabra being taken for walkies in the Nightside to Mongolian death worms trying to gobble down Secret Histories agents.
- InCryptid by Seanan McGuire is all about a family of cryptozoologists who look after cryptids who exist but are still thought to be rumor by the world at large.
- Many cryptids in the Harry Potter universe are acknowledged to be magical creatures, including the Yeti (a troll-like monster) and Nessie (a shapeshifting Kelpie disguising itself as a sea serpent). Funnily enough, the wizarding universe has its own cryptids, such as the Nargles and the Crumple-Horned Snorkacks, in which nobody believes except for Luna Lovegood.
- Jackie and Craig utilizes an entire armada of cryptids as the worshipers of the incomprehensible Eldritch Abomination Jykunne.
- One Encyclopedia Brown mystery involved Encyclopedia investigating a "Skunk Ape", the Idaville version of an abominable snowman. Of course, it's only Bugs Meany again.
- The title character of A. Lee Martinez's novel Monster is a freelance Cryptobiological Containment and Rescue Services worker, i.e. a dogcatcher for cryptids.
- Vampirocracy: The main character and his friend took a cryptozoology course in college as a prerequisite for mythozoology.
- MonsterQuest and Destination Truth are cryptozoology-themed programs in the style of ghost-hunter shows.
- The X-Files used dozens of cryptid-based stories, and may even have started a few legends about them.
- Lost Tapes features plenty of cryptids in its stories.
- A lot of Syfy Channel made-for-TV movies are based on examples of this trope.
- Season six of Face/Off had a cryptid-themed challenge.
- Fortean Times is devoted to the investigation of anomalous phenomena. it absolutely loves this one'.
- The video for The Automatic Automatic's "Monster" features the band as some bumbling would-be cryptid hunters searching for a lake monster, Bigfoot, and UFOs. The first two are overlooked via Failed a Spot Check and Missed Him by That Much, respectively; the latter is found, but promptly blasts them into Smoldering Shoes for their trouble.
- Cryptids make up a large part of the Conspiracy X and Dark Matter settings and several of them have their origin with the alien races that populate the settings.
- d20 Modern includes a variety of Cryptids from around the world on its "Menace Manual" book, including the Mongolian Death Worm and the Montauk Monster (a trans-dimensional hostile Energy Being race that was attracted to Earth by the Philadelphia Experiment).
- In Shadowrun, the Awakening brought many cryptids out of the closet, some as paranormal animals developed from normal ones (e.g. mermaids as Awakened seals) and others as previously shy beings that didn't feel the need to hide any longer (sasquatches).
- Pathfinder makes use of a variety of cryptids, including sasquatches, bunyips, chupacabrae, water orms and death worms.
- Demon: The Descent uses cryptid as a catch-all term for animals exposed to the energies of the God-Machine, used as agents by both the angels of the God-Machine and the demons that rebel against it. Example cryptids include mothmen and Reptoids.
- The Sentinels of the Multiverse character Chrono-Ranger was bounced from the Wild West to a future where cryptids had destroyed the human race, leading to him being sent back again to go and kill cryptids. Monsters in that future, the Final Wasteland region, include skunk-apes, chupacabras, abominable snowmen and the Mongolian death worm.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3, the members of Mission Control are all really into "UMAs" (Unidentified Mysterious Animals, the Japanese term for "cryptid", which is therefore apparently the normal term in English in the Metal Gear universe as well) and frequently talk about them to Snake. There is also a Tsuchinoko in the game which you can capture (or eat), and bringing it back alive is a much easier way of netting the Stealth Camouflage than completing a perfect Stealth Run. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker also has a cryptid Otaku used to justify the Cross Over with Monster Hunter.
- Bracken Tor, the sequel to Barrow Hill, will evidently involve cryptid sightings of mysterious predatory beasts in Cornwall. (That is, if it actually does get out of Development Hell...) The game's promotional website displays comments allegedly posted by people who've encountered these creatures.
- Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow includes several cryptid monsters that the player will encounter and must defeat during the game.
- Natan's personal sidequest in Shadow Hearts: From the New World involves hunting down and capturing different cryptids inside a special pot. Said pot is then taken to a shaman who uses the power held by the captured creatures to grant/power up Natans's skills.
- Sega's Seaman is said to be an ancient creature from Egypt discovered by French biologist/archaeologist named Dr. Jean Paul Gassé in the 1930s. Taking a sample of a seaman's eggs back to France with him, he started conducting research on the creature's evolution; the player is tasked with following his work in the present day, raising a seaman through all of its evolutionary stages.
- In the Strong Bad Email "myths & legends", Strong Bad does a Mockumentary that claims the cardboard cut-out of the Bear Holding a Shark is based on a real creature of mysterious myth (or possibly legendary legend) that lurks in the woods of Free Country USA.
- One episode of Bedtime Stories (YouTube Channel) covers the legend of Mothman, which terrorized residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia from 1966-1967.
- The whole premise of The Secret Saturdays was finding and dealing with cryptids. Creator Jay Stephens deliberately refused to use any of the more commonly-known creatures in the show, with the more popular cryptids only ever referenced as being past encounters at best.
- Ben 10 features an alien called Big Chill who's appearance is based off the legendary cryptid known as "the Mothman".
- Detentionaire features a creature known as the Tatzelwurm (sometimes spelled "Tazelwurm" or "Tazelworm"), based on the cryptid of the same name. They come in a variety of colours, with the red one being the rarest, one of which, nicknamed Taz, wears a sweater and is A. Nigma High's official school mascot. In one episode, Lee jokingly refers to it as "the Loch Ness Monster's first cousin".
- Gravity Falls occasionally featured investigations of cryptids and other alleged creatures in various episodes.
- While most monsters on Scooby-Doo have been made up from scratch for the franchise, the various series and movies have featured the likes of the Yeti, Loch Ness Monster, and chupacabra.
- Some of the creatures that the The Real Ghostbusters and their sucessors Extreme Ghostbusters face are cryptids, although most of the time are paranormal entities like ghosts and demons. Some examples of cryptids in the series are Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil and a Lake Monster.
- Globsters: These are unidentified organic masses of skin and organs that wash up on beaches from time to time. Globsters such as the "St. Augustine Monster" are often assumed to be cryptids, although necropsies may prove them to be known animal carcasses rendered hard to recognize by decomposition.
- The United Kingdom has a history of mysterious big cats of various sorts, usually attributed to pet big cats being released in the 1960s and 1970s after the laws were changed to stop people owning big cats and keeping them in their own homes. However, a lot of the stories pre-date that by quite some period of time (in some cases, centuries). They were mentioned a fair bit in the news in the 1980s and 1990s, but the stories have sort of faded in the last few years. They still crop up from time to time, though.
- A number of Real Life animals, such as the okapi or the Komodo dragon, were once thought to be this trope until their existence was verified by hard proof.