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The biological equivalent of UFO sightings, cryptids are legendary beings and mythical creatures which are 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 (Algonquian wendigos, Navajo 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.

Those cryptids that haven't received heavy media attention, so cannot be classified under the sub-tropes listed below, may have works of fiction in which they're featured listed here on this page. 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.

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Subtrope of All Theories Are True. Compare Our Monsters Are Weird, which is for creatures that are too bizarre for even cryptozoology (the study of cryptids) to claim they're for real. Also see Fearsome Critters of American Folklore.


Specific cryptids with their own pages:


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Examples in fiction:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Comics 
  • 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.
  • Kaijumax: One of the major prison gangs is the Cryps, Kaiju-scaled versions of classic cryptids.
  • 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.

    Film — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • 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.
  • Harry Potter: Many cryptids in the series 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.
  • In The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes investigates the Baskerville family curse — a "gigantic hound" that has, according to the family doctor, recently accounted for the life of Sir Charles Baskerville. It's actually a very big dog painted with phosphorous to make it glow in the dark.
  • 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.
  • Jackie and Craig utilizes an entire armada of cryptids as the worshipers of the incomprehensible Eldritch Abomination Jykunne.
  • Monster: The title character is a freelance Cryptobiological Containment and Rescue Services worker, i.e. a dogcatcher for cryptids.
  • Simon R. Green stories:
    • Secret Histories: 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.
  • Vampirocracy: The main character and his friend took a cryptozoology course in college as a prerequisite for mythozoology.

    Live Action Television 
  • One episode of Drop the Dead Donkey saw Damien going down to Cornwall in order to try and fake a sighting of the Beast of Bodmin Moor. Truth in Television, as a number of big cat sightings in Britain at the time were exaggerated (and in some cases quite possibly faked) by the media (see "Real Life" below for more details).
  • Face/Off: Season six has a cryptid-themed challenge.
  • Lost Tapes features plenty of cryptids in its stories.
  • Monster Quest and Destination Truth are cryptozoology-themed programs in the style of ghost-hunter shows.

    Magazines 
  • Fortean Times is devoted to the investigation of anomalous phenomena. It absolutely loves this one.

    Music 
  • The Legend of the Dogman: The titular monster is a huge bipedal dog roaming the forests of Michigan. While originally a prank, it became popular enough to become a bona fide Urban Legend.
  • 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.
  • "Black Shuck" by The Darkness is about the mythical phantom dog that is said to haunt parts of the band's native Suffolk.
    In a town in the east
    The parishioners were visited upon
    By a curious beast...

    Tabletop Games 
  • d20 Modern:
    • The system 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).
    • Cryptids make up a large part of the Dark Matter setting, and several have their origin with the alien races that populate the settings.
  • 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 (who are harmless squirrel eaters who cannot predict disasters) and Reptoids (who are shy, timid creatures who cannot shapeshift and have no plans for world domination).
  • Pathfinder makes use of a variety of cryptids, including sasquatches, bunyips, chupacabrae, water orms and death worms.
  • 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 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).

    Toys 
  • Keetongu of BIONICLE is a legendary, fully sentient and sapient humanoid beast whose existence became a legend after his kind had been exterminated. Part of the 2005 story is about the search for Keetongu, with some characters doubting he exists. He was originally intended to be a nod to King Kong, being far larger than the rest of the cast and even climbing atop a tower only to get shot down (though Keetongu's tough enough to survive), but his height was decreased when LEGO decided that they'd only sell one figure of him rather than two: his to-scale model from the "Tower of Toa" playset was removed and replaced with another giant beast, so Keetongu was only released as a standard-sized Titan figure.

    Video Games 
  • Barrow Hill: Bracken Tor 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.
  • Bigface Marsh Madness is an indie horror game featuring a monster that is a parody of Bigfoot who can only be warded off by recording him.
  • Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow includes several cryptid monsters that the player will encounter and must defeat during the game.
  • Disco Elysium features Lena and Morell, an elderly couple of "Cryptozoologists" (as well as their assistant Gary, the "Cryptofascist") who are in town searching for the Insulidian Phasmid, a giant psychic stick-bug-like creature. You can ask Lena about various other cryptids, much to your partner Kim's consternation.
  • 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 unlocks the Infinity Face Paint on a New Game+. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker also has a cryptid Otaku used to justify the Crossover with Monster Hunter.
  • 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.
  • Shadow Hearts: From the New World: Natan's personal sidequest 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.

    Web Comics 
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has dragons (intelligent technology users), Bigfeet (subterranean with a stone age culture), unicorns (animal intelligence, used as steeds by the Bigfeet because unicorns leave no tracks), and the Loch Ness Monster. Jean has spoken of exploiting Bob's verified Weirdness Magnet power to search for others like yetis and chupacabras and such.

    Web Original 
  • Bedtime Stories (YouTube Channel): One episode covers the legend of The Mothman, which terrorized residents of Point Pleasant, West Virginia from 1966 to 1967.
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10 features an alien called Big Chill whose appearance is based off The Mothman, and another alien named Shocksquatch who's based on sasquatches.
  • 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 features investigations of cryptids and other alleged creatures in various episodes, including a lake monster, the hidebehind and a crashed UFO.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: A number of cryptids and similar beings have appeared over the show's run:
    • Pinkie encounters a quadrupedal yeti while traveling to Yakyakistan in "Party Pooped", while a tri-horned bunyip appears in "P.P.O.V. (Pony Point of View)".
    • The Great Sprout in "Going to Seed" plays the role of an in-universe cryptid, ticking off most of the category's boxes — mysterious nature, highly elusive and difficult to catch or observe, ambiguously real and prone to causing divisive opinions regarding whether it actually exists or not.
    • The IDW comics feature several other such beasts, including a highly feline Chupacabra and a humanoid squash monster referred to as a "sass squash".
  • The Real Ghostbusters: Some of the creatures that the Ghostbuster and their successors 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.
  • Scooby-Doo: While most monsters 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.
  • The Secret Saturdays: The whole premise of the show 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. The only exception to this rule is the Yeti, which is the true identity of series villain V. V. Argost.

    Real Life 
  • 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 (officially known as "ABCs"note ), for example the Beast of Bodmin Moor, the Beast of Exmoor, the Cotswolds Big Cat and the Galloway Puma.
    • Some of the stories are centuries-old and may derive from phantom dog legends, such as the Yeth Hound of Dartmoor (which inspired The Hound of the Baskervilles) and the Black Shuck of Suffolk (which inspired a song by The Darkness).
    • A lot of the more recent (ie. late twentieth century onwards) ones are usually attributed to pet big cats being released in the 1970s after the laws were changed to stop people owning big cats, or animals that had been held illegally which escaped or were released when they became too difficult to manage. Some sightings might possibly be explained as domestic cats (or, in Scotland, wildcat-domestic cat hybrids) that were seen near to a viewer being misinterpreted as larger animals seen further away.
    • Big cat stories got a fair bit of media coverage in the 1980s and 1990s, especially in the tabloids which exaggerated the stories and may have even made some of them up. In 1995, for example, a large cat skull was found in Cornwall shortly after a government report had disproved the existence of the Beast of Bodmin Moor. It was sent to London to be examined by the Natural History Museum, which determined that it was the skull of a leopard that had been dead for several decades and had likely come to Britain as part of a leopard-skin rug — leading to the conclusion that it had likely been planted in order to keep the "Beast" story going following the government report.
    • Although there have been less of these stories in the last few years, they do occasionally still crop up.
  • The Salawa was a dog-like cryptid blamed for dozens of attacks on humans in Egypt in the late 1990s. Authorities at the time didn't consider it much of a mystery - police killed one of the animals which they identified as a hyena, and suggested other attacks were likely feral dogs or fennec foxesnote  - but the Salawa received a lot of press coverage painting it either as an unknown monster or even an incarnation of the Egyptian God Set.
  • Brazilian Folklore has a number of creatures that are relatively recent legends, and are mix-and-match of real animals, like the Capelobo and the Mapinguari.
  • A number of Real Life animals were once thought to be this trope until their existence was verified by hard proof. For example:
    • Komodo Dragon: Very large lizard. How its existence was deemed a myth is beyond us.
    • Mountain Gorilla: Great ape, cousin of the lowland gorilla Believed to be a native superstition until a German hunter killed two of them.
    • Okapi: Cross between a giraffe, a deer, and a zebra. Yeah, we wouldn't believe you, either.
    • Platypus: Like a beaver with a duck bill, except it also lays eggs and the males have venomous feet. Initially (and some would say reasonably) assumed to be the work of a rogue taxidermist.

Alternative Title(s): Our Cryptids Are Different

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