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.
Specific cryptids with their own pages:
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti
- The Flatwoods Monster
- The Jersey Devil
- The Mothman
- Spring-Heeled Jack
- Stock Ness Monster
- Yowies and Bunyips and Drop Bears, Oh My
Examples in fiction:
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.
- 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
- Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend is about the Mkele-Mbembe, an alleged surviving Dinosaur Lake Monster living in Africa.
- 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 in-universe. It's worth noting that King Kong itself was inspired by the discovery of a cryptid-turned-real — the Komodo dragon.
- The Mothman Prophecies centers on the lives of people who have had encounters with the legendary creature, and are experiencing odd occurrences.
- The MonsterVerse predominantly centres around the secret international cryptozoological organization Monarch, whose task is to keep up the Masquerade against cryptid organisms (up until 2014, when it became The Unmasqued World). In this universe however, cryptids are Kaiju such as King Kong and Godzilla. A few Freeze Frame Bonuses in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) show the names of some kaiju we never see in person, which include Bunyip and Mokele-Mbembe, and the novelization links Behemoth - - to the South American cryptid Mapinguary.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tensou Sentai Goseiger's second villain faction, the Yuumajuu (Spectral Demon Beasts), are all based on various cryptids, combined with terrestrial invertebrates for a good measure. Its leaders are a globster/earthworm, a Sasquatch/tarantula, and a Chupacabra/house centipede. Additionally, "Yuumajuu" is a play on "UMA" (Unidentified Mystery Animal), another word for "cryptid".
- The X-Files used dozens of cryptid-based stories, and may even have started a few legends about them.
- Fortean Times is devoted to the investigation of anomalous phenomena. It absolutely loves this one.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ben 10 features an alien called Big Chill whose appearance is based off 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 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.
- 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.
Komodo Dragon: Very large lizard. How its existence was deemed a myth is beyond us.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 assumed to be just the work of a rogue taxidermist.
- Descriptions for these two animals are as follows: