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Sea Serpents

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"An appalling head reared itself out of the sea. It was all greens and vermilions with purple blotches — except where shell fish clung to it — and shaped rather like a horse's, though without ears. It had enormous eyes, eyes made for staring through the dark depths of the ocean, and a gaping mouth filled with double rows of sharp fish-like teeth."

Enormous worms and serpents who rise from the deep to drag down ships in their crushing coils, sea serpents are perhaps the most famous and easily recognized type of Sea Monster.

They're usually strictly reptilian creatures, but may be portrayed with more piscine elements such as rayed fins and gills or even entirely fishlike heads. In some cases, they may be outright very big, long-bodied fish—essentially gigantic eels. They're typically limbless, but may possess fins or flippers; articulated limbs are rare.

Sea serpents are often simply oversized snakelike beasts, but some works may link them with other monsters such as dragons. In these cases, sea serpents may be portrayed as a related but distinct species or specifically as a kind of seagoing dragon. Links can also be drawn with lake serpents, in which case they may be portrayed as related creatures. When this is so, either kind may be modeled after the other, either with lake serpents being portrayed as more snakelike than they usually are or sea serpents gaining features such as flippers and plesiosaur-like necks.

Unlike regular snakes, sea serpents are rarely directly associated with poison, but are almost always constrictors; indeed, a common stock pose for these creatures shows them coiled around an unfortunate vessel about to be crushed to flinders or dragged down into the depths. Even when they do possess poisonous bites, they're still likely to be portrayed as crushing prey in their coils.

Their exact placement on the Food Chain of Evil can vary, although they're usually fairly powerful creatures. Depending on the work in question, serpents may be among the most dangerous things in the sea or themselves prey to even bigger and more dangerous monsters such as the Kraken and Leviathan.

Overlaps with The Great Serpent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: A sea serpent with an almost crocodile-like head and jaws lined with barbels appears during the Elf Island arc as one of the many creatures that were brought into the physical world after it merged with the spirit world. It lunges out of the water to snap up a seabird, but is itself devoured by a monstrous whale.
  • Claymore: Ophelia looks like a giant sea serpent after becoming an Awakened Being.
  • Digimon: The Seadramon family is a line of aquatic -dramon Digimon depicted as serpentine, legless and exclusively marine. Seadramon is a fairly typical sea serpent, MegaSeadramon is largely a bigger take on this with a sword-like horn, and MetalSeadramon and GigaSeadramon are cyborg versions of this trope, with GigaSeadramon in particular being modified to serve as a living troop carrier.
  • Inuyasha: Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon shows Mizuchi, a demon who resembles a giant sea serpent.

  • The Carta Marina shows, alongside a riotous collection of other sea monsters, an immense serpent off the coast of Norway in the act of coiling around an unfortunate ship. Olaus describes this creature as being 200 feet long and twenty thick, and as dwelling in the sea caves in the nearby coast. The most well-known print of the map colors the creature bright red. Its appearance is a bad omen, and portends an imminent war or change in rulership.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Serpents are a creature type dedicated to this sort of beasts, and distinct from regular snakes. The vast majority are marine, but they can be found in swamps, lakes or rivers, typically in planes were seas aren't present — the Egyptian Mythology-inspired plane of Amonkhet, for instance, has serpents living in the mighty Luxa River. Notable examples of serpents include the lionfish-like Frilled Sea Serpent, the classic Sea Serpent and Serpent of the Endless Sea, which gets bigger and stronger the more Island lands you control. Notably, they're almost always Blue, absurdly huge and little more than ravening predators, despite the Blue color being based on anything but brute force. They typically occupy the penultimate rung of Blue creatures by size and power, being tougher than most other marine monsters but smaller than krakens and leviathans. Kaldheim, a setting based on Norse Mythology, brings us Koma, Cosmos Serpent, unsubtly based on Jormungandr. Although ostensibly "only" a 6/6, more powerful than some dragons, that's implied to be just the head of the titan. Parts of its tremendous body can split from it to act as separate creatures, and as long as the head remains alive, each turn brings more and more of them into play as the monstrosity unfolds itself further and further.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Certain Monster cards - especially of the Aqua-type and Sea Serpent-type - fit this description.
    • Giant Red Seasnake (Exactly What It Says on the Tin)
    • Kairyu-Shin (creates giant tidal waves)
    • Levia-Dragon — Daedalus (huge, monstrous, and partially armored)
    • Roaring Ocean Snake (massive and monstrous)
    • Water Dragon (huge, powerful, and made of water)

    Comic Books 
  • Arak: Son of Thunder: Arak's Viking band was wiped when their ship was attacked by a sea serpent while returning from an attack on a monastery. Arak and a prisoner monk were the only survivors.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In the Donald Duck story "No Such Varmint", Donald discovers that he is completely useless at everything except snake charming. This proves handy when the Ducks run into a gigantic sea snake which responds positively to Donald's musical talents.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In Azrael Annual #2, Azrael, his counselor Brian and the Joker are attacked by a sea serpent while they are making their way across a river to Gotham by boat. Although the Joker repeatedly tells the other two men not to whistle, as doing this will attract the monster, he does so himself at the first opportunity. He explains that he did so because he's "a nutty guy". Azrael is able to slay the monster with his sword.
  • Lone Wolf: In addition to the gamebooks, The Skull of Agarash graphic novel features a giant reptilian sea creature attacking Mazrah's fleet while sailing toward the Lakuri Isles, and sinking two of its three ships. Lone Wolf manages to inflict a deep wound to its neck with the Sommerswerd, and the serpent dives in the sea, presumably to die.note 
  • The Sandman (1989): A sea serpent appears in the story "Hob's Leviathan", part of the "World's End" arc.
  • Star Wars (Marvel 1977): The oceanic planet Drexel is home to enormous serpentine sea-dragons.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Manda is a marine, serpentine Kaiju and a rather draconic example (his species are outright described as dragons). His father was benevolent towards human seafarers, and he seems to be following the same route.
  • An Alchemist Abroad: A sea serpent described as an Asian-style dragon with one eye interrupts the battle between the Newtopian Navy, Western Toad fleet, and pirates of the Croaking Daughter in chapter 6.
  • Antipodes: A large sea serpent lives in the lake from which Jigsaw and Tiptoe's home bunker draws its water from, and attacks them when they head to the lake to repair the bunker's pumps.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In The High Temple of Crowned Death, sea serpents are mentioned as a more fearsome variant of sea monster than the one already seen.
    there are rumours of sea serpents that can grow to twice the length of the undead octopus you defeated so decisively. However, when judging by volume, the latter might still count as the larger of the two." Some of the eagerness disappeared from Torian's dream-like voice. "Unfortunately, the depths of the ocean are not a well-researched topic; there may yet be larger creatures completely unknown to us."
  • Ice and Fire (Minecraft): Sea serpents are giant marine creatures resembling colorful eels with draconic heads. They are hostile, and will try to pursue players on the shore. Elder sea serpents are absolutely gigantic, and are some of the biggest and most dangerous monsters in the mod.
  • Manehattan's Lone Guardian: Tiffany Polari, who lives in the deep water between Manehattan and the mainland. She's a 150-foot sea snake with a dragon-like head, midnight-blue scales, and a "tremendous mop of fruity red hair" done up in a Beehive Hairdo. She looks more threatening than she really is, and she's on friendly terms with Leviathan. It's all but stated that she's Steven Magnet's mother.
  • Oversaturated World: Oversaturation: "Light": As a reference to "Elements of Harmony", Mr. Magnet gets sea serpent magic, which appears to be some form of hydrokinesis and makes him look like a mermaid:
    Mr. Magnet, the drama teacher, had bodysurfed in on a wave of his own making, looking like the human seapony from that one Whinny movie.
  • The Palaververse:
    • Sea serpents are among the setting's sapient marine races, and the most likely to have dealings with surface-dwellers; this typically involves the serpents hiring themselves out as guides and guards during long sea voyages in return for surface commodities, but sometimes they'll go after these goods by directly attacking the ships carrying them. They're usually solitary, gathering only to mate and raise their elvers or when competition with other sea creatures forces them to gather into small shivers, and otherwise lead largely nomadic lives.
    • Cirein-croin, featured in Parlous, is a sea serpent of utterly mind-boggling proportions, with a vast, twisting body covered in silver scales, fins taller than warships and a serpentine neck that can rise to the level of the clouds.
  • Past Sins: In The Road Home, Shining Armor, Cadence and Twilight are attacked by a lake serpent with A Head at Each End that Twilight identifies as an Ouroboros.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Atragon: The sea dragon Manda (whose name is a portmanteau of the Japanese words for "mammoth serpent"), who protects the sunken kingdom of Mu and was later brought over to the Godzilla franchise. That said, he's not portrayed with any sort of dragon-like powers, because he was originally meant to be a giant sea snake.
  • The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms: Although the rhedosaurus is actually a revived dinosaur, it's shown to be extremely comfortable in water and is repeatedly referred to as a sea serpent. Characters discuss a number of folklore examples as well. It's not particularly serpent-shaped and has more of a lizard-like body however.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: Greatly expanded from it's cameo appearance in the novel, the sea serpent is responsible for the green mist that has been creeping across the Eastern Ocean, and to which Lone Islanders have been sacrificing their own people to appease.

  • Cretan Chronicles: A massive one can devour your ship as you attempt to sail across the Aegean Sea. However, if your patron god is Poseidon the serpent is a Skippable Boss.
  • Lone Wolf: The Xargath is a species of dragon-like sea monster from the Kalte sea, whose mere existence has rendered fishing impossible in those otherwise fish-rich waters. Lone Wolf encounters one at sea in Book 12, The Masters of Darkness. It can be killed with a well-placed arrow in its vulnerable ear, but otherwise it's a tough fight ahead; the Xargath has the highest Endurance score of any monster in the whole series.

  • Animorphs: In Volume 15, Visser Three takes the form of a giant yellow sea serpent. In fact, it is simply an animal from an alien planet, but compared to the creatures of the terrestrial ocean, it still looks gigantic.
  • Cyrus the Unsinkable Sea Serpent follows a kindly serpent who only eats sardines and gets bullied by a shark because he doesn't sink ships.
  • A Description of the Northern Peoples describes a fearsome, black-scaled serpent that lives in the sea caves near the Norwegian city of Bergen, which comes out on summer nights to prey on livestock, sailors and marine creatures. It also possesses a hairy mane, unusually enough.
  • Dracopedia: Sea orcs (in archaic English, "orc" was a general word for "sea monster", and is derived from the Latin "orca") are marine dragons that typically grow very long and serpentine, with legs adapted into fishlike fins. They spend most of their lives in the sea, only returning to shore to lay eggs, and can grow to immense sizes. Notable species include the jormungander, which at over 150 meters is the largest sea orc species around and spends most of its life in the deep ocean; the much smaller frilled sea orc, which is a popular target for sport fishing; and the electric sea orc, which lives in the Amazon river and can channel electricity to kill prey. A subfamily, the Cetusidae, posses more compact torsos and well-developed limbs; named species include the Scottish sea dragon, which mostly inhabits Northern European lakes, and the sea lion, which possess a large mane and a single pair of muscular limbs.
  • The Essex Serpent: A mysterious sea monster, called the Essex serpent or Leviathan and believed by some people to have wings, is sighted in Aldwinter and seems to terrorize the coast: there is a mysterious death of a man on New Year's Eve, winter won't end, animals turn up dead, more people die or get lost... Cora is interested in fossils and Mary Anning's work, and therefore any news of a mythical serpent is like catnip to her. She supposes it could really exist, though she's sure much of the stories are exaggeration and caused by the general sense of panic and eeriness. She hopes she'll discover it and that it will be a living ichthyosaur.
  • Harry Potter: While they never appear in the main series, the spin-off book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them reveals that sea serpents do indeed exist in the Wizarding World and are among the biggest of all beasts. It's stated that, despite hysterical/exaggerated Muggle stories of their ferocity, sea serpents are usually docile and harmless creatures.
  • Johannes Cabal and the Fear Institute: The main characters glimpse one from a distance when sailing in the Dreamlands. They're titanic Lightning Bruisers; the captain cheerfully tells them that a ship's utterly doomed when in a serpent's path and perfectly safe when not, so there's no point in worrying either way. They are not reassured.
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth: Subverted. While sailing the inner sea, Hans sees a group of forty-foot-long animals fighting, including a turtle, a sea serpent, a crocodile, and a whale. However, Professor Lidenbrock quickly realizes there's only two, a Plesiosaurus and an Ichtyosaurus, which they'd mistaken for a tangle of different creatures.
  • Liveship Traders: Sea serpents feature prominently, as they're the larval stage of dragons. They live in the sea in this form for several years, before coming ashore, cocooning themselves and emerging some time later as newly formed dragons.
  • Meg: In Purgatory, 200-foot-long ocean-dwelling Titanoboa are added to the series' already-huge cast of prehistoric sea life.
  • A Memoir by Lady Trent: Sea serpents are dragon-like species that are common in the world's oceans. They're Isabella's primary subject of study in the third book, Voyage of the Basilisk.
  • Monsters Of The Sea, a nineteenth century book on sea monsters, includes an image of a very unusual serpent with a thick mane of hair.
  • Ology Series: The sea serpents in Monsterology combine reptilian and piscine characteristics, possessing mostly snakelike bodies in addition to fishlike fins and gills. They're large enough to prey on whales, but are themselves preyed upon by krakens and leviathans.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • A random sea serpent in the short story "Percy Jackson and the Stolen Chariot" from The Demigods Files.
    • The Heroes of Olympus: A few purple serpents appear in "The Mark of Athena" as part of Ceto and Phorcys' sea monster aquarium.
  • Redwall: Being that of Redwall a world of Talking Animals, the role of sea serpent is taken up by smaller creatures, generally snakes or eels:
    • In Salamandastron, the Deepcoiler is a monstrous lake snake longer than three shrew logboats.
    • In The Taggerung, Yo Karr is a huge cave eel worshiped by a tribe of pygmy shrews who regularly sacrifice one of their own to it so as to ensure a plentiful catch of migrating elvers. Tagg kills the monster to free the tribe.
    • In The Long Patrol, an unnamed yellow eel that lived in the well of Kotir Castle (on whose ruins Redwall was built) ends up fighting Skipper when he investigates a cave-in threatening the south wall. After a long subterranean battle, he and the eel's corpse are washed out in the river.
  • The Saga of the Jomsvikings: The ending relates that, long after the Battle of Hjórunga Bay, a serpent is seen in the bay, leading to speculations that the monster is the ghost of Búi guarding the chests of gold which he took with him to the sea-bottom, or maybe is "some evil spirit" which has taken possession of the gold (as is common in medieval folklore, "dragon" and "serpent" are here treated as the same thing).
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles Field Guide has an entry on sea serpents, described by Arthur Spiderwick as gigantic oceangoing monstrosities that can grow as long as a suspension bridge, are able to swallow a small boat whole, and are powerful enough to cause whirlpools and rogue waves as they swim. The accompanying illustration is a massive four-page foldout depicting a creature resembling a monstrous deep-sea eel, complete with bioluminescence and an expandable transparent stomach (with an unfortunate diver inside!).
  • Temeraire: Sea serpents are primitive cousins of the dragons, which they resemble save for their greater size and relative length, missing wings and webbed feet; some possess an additional set of slender, likewise webbed limbs in front of their forelegs, which are believed to be similar to what true dragons' wings evolved from. Those in the Atlantic are relatively small and largely avoid ships, but the ones in the Pacific Ocean are much larger and more aggressive, as the main characters discover when one attempts to crush their ship in its coils on their way to China. They're thought of as untrainable and animal-level creatures, unlike the sapient dragons, but there are indications that they may be far more intelligent than they're given credit for.
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: On its journey east, the Dawn Treader comes under attack from a sea serpent that almost manages to crush it in its coils.
  • The Witchlands has sea foxes, which are giant, carnivorous sea serpents with foxes' heads. They're attracted to the scent of blood in the water and can crush ships in pursuit of their prey. Most people consider them mythical, but Safi, Iseult and Merik encounter — and are nearly killed by — two of them when they're sailing to Lejna.
  • Wulfrik: When trapped on the coast of Ulthuan by vengeful elves, Wulfrik and Broendulf find that their ship has been smashed to kindling by a massive merwyrm. Wulfrik attacks the merwyrm, and, while he doesn't manage to kill it, he inflicts wounds severe enough that the wyrm goes away, allowing them to reclaim the prow of the Seafang and escape.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Encantadia: The prison of Carcero is inhabited and guarded by multiple bakunawas, a type of sea serpent from Filipino mythology.
  • The Greatest American Hero: In one episode Ralph wants to use the super-suit to go hunting for a legendary serpent, but gets diverted dealing with more human villains. At the end of the episode, the audience learns that the serpent does exist. (Well.. sort of, just barely...)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The Sundering Seas are full of dangerous creatures, one of them being the Wyrm, a sea-dragon that prowls the ocean to the west of Middle-earth, and is depicted on the maps of Númenor as a warning for sailors to stay out of its territory.
  • Primeval: New World shows a Titanoboa. Although this giant snake can move about on land, most of the time it is in the water.
  • Ultraman Dyna featured one named Dipras as the Monster of the Week. Bearing the Boss Subtitles of "Deep Sea Dragon", Dipras resembles a 155-meter long mix of a cobra and an anglerfish, able to fire bolts of energy from its ruby lure.
  • The X-Files: In one episode, Mulder and Scully drive to a lake that is said to be home to a large sea serpent. Mulder blames this sea serpent for a number of deaths at the lake during this period. However, as it turns out later, these deaths were attributed to an alligator. However, the last scene shows that this sea serpent actually exists, but is harmless to humans.

  • Nautilus Pompilius: The hero of the song "Sea Serpent" wants to become the one after his death.
  • On the cover of Asia's 1982 self-titled debut album.
  • Tears for Fears: In the "Closest Thing to Heaven" music video, a giant sea serpent is seen at the beginning and at the end. Although it roars at Brittany Murphy's character, it doesn't attack her, and later, it swims away from her sailing vessel.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Brazilian Folklore: The Boiúna or Cobra-Grande is a gigantic aquatic snake said to live in the watercourses of the Amazon rainforest, so big the trails it left on land formed some of the rivers of the forest. It can shapeshift into boats in order to lure and attack ferrymen.
  • Classical Mythology: Scylla is a many-headed, sharp-toothed serpentine beast that guards a narrow strait in the ocean (with her counterpart Charybis which is a monster in the center of a giant vortex, pulling nearby ships into her hungry maw). Multiple characters in various myths have to pass through the narrow channel and pick one of the two to deal with, which gave birth to the idiom between Scylla and Charybdis (= between a rock and a hard place).
  • Norse Mythology: Jormungandr the World Serpent, an immense sea snake so large that he wraps all the way around Midgard, holding his tail in his own jaws. He has a major rivalry with Thor, and plays a key role in Ragnarok.
  • Iroquois mythology features a horned serpent named Djodi'kwado' who inhabits the depths of rivers and lakes. Unlike your stereotypical giant water serpent, he's portrayed as sapient and can even take the form of a human man.
  • Saint Olaf is credited, among other miraculous acts, with having killed a sea serpent and thrown its body onto a mountainside where a slender, serpentine shape can still be seen today.
  • Sea serpents are a recurring motif in cryptozoology. Numerous reports of serpent-like sea creatures have cropped up over time, most of which are attributable to misidentified sea animals or debris or were outright faked.
    • The Cadborosaurus, sometimes given the pseudo-scientific name Cadborosaurus willsi, is a cryptid from the coastal regions of British Columbia, generally being described as long, serpentine creature with either multiple humps or an undulating body, a long neck topped by a horse-like head, front flippers and either hind flippers or a fan-like tail. It's generally thought to have been either an oarfish or a group of sea lions swimming in a line and mistaken for a single creature.
    • Chessie, the monster of Chesapeake Bay between Maryland and Virginia, is described as a giant snake between twenty and forty feet in length, which swims by flexing its body in a sine curve. Some reports also give it a pair of flippers.
    • The Stinson Beach Serpent was described as a long, snake- or eel-like creature that swam at tremendous speeds, arcing itself in an out of the water as it did so.
    • Some rather complex classification systems have cropped up over time. Most tend to include wildly divergent creatures, but gigantic eels, surviving prehistoric creatures (generally either sea reptiles or the giant, long-bodied archaeocete whales) and long-necked, short-tailed and finned sea lions strongly resembling the classic Nessie-like lake monster tend to feature in most.
      • In his 1969 book In the Wake of the Sea Serpent, Swedish cryptozoologist Bernard Heuvelmans used computer analysis of known sea-serpent sightings to group them into nine categories, each representing one or more unknown animals: the Long-Necked, a 60-foot sea lion with a plesiosaur-like neck; the Merhorse, a similar form with a horse-like head; the Many-Humped, a long-bodied primitive whale; the Super-Otter, a very primitive, otter-like whale that Heuvelmans thought had only lived around Greenland and may have gone extinct by his time; the Many-Finned, another primitive whale with finlike projections on its sides; Super Eels, one or more species of gigantic eels and similar fishes; the Marine Saurian, a surviving Mesozoic sea reptile or seagoing crocodile; the Father-of-all-the-Turtles, a huge marine turtle; and the Yellow Belly, a gigantic tadpole-like creature. He also dismissed several sightings as giant Venus' girdlesnote  and salp chainsnote .
      • Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe recognized a basic sea serpent with four limbs, a long body and numerous humps, possibly an archaeocete of some sort; a long-necked giant pinniped with maned males and females with snorkel-like nostrils, which was also found in freshwater lakes; a centipede-like creature much like Heuvelmans' Many-Finned; a late-surviving saurian; and a variety of non-serpentine sea monsters.
      • Bruce Champagne's system had two variants of long-necked sea lions; three eel-like forms, two reptilian and one cetacean; a long-bodied, humped reptile with a camel-like head and undulating movements; two large-finned forms, one a cetacean with a large dorsal fin and one of indeterminate nature with a sail-like fin; a creature with a plated carapace and oily hair; a saurian creature; and a very long-bodied, many-finned mammal.

  • The Gamer's Alliance: Sea serpents are immense aquatic snakes that generally live beneath the sea but occasionally surface, usually with fatal consequences to sailors and ships who end up in their way.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Deadlands: After parts of California fell into the ocean, forming a network of water-filled canyons, water-dwelling Maze Dragons have become a major threat to settlers and prospectors.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Generally speaking, sea serpents have never been one of the game's core monsters, but different incarnations have sporadically appeared in the many versions of the game.
    • Sea serpents by that name were originally exclusive to the Mystara setting. They are immense marine predators with a powerful constricting attack and the ability to swallow smaller creatures whole. They often attack ships, and their lairs are often littered with the burst hulks of shattered vessels. They sometimes find their way to the Elemental Plane of Water, where the local genies use them as steeds and guardian beasts.
    • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition: The Monster Manual, in its entry on snakes, contains stats for giant sea snakes, which are simply just oversized versions of real-world sea snakes (complete with poison). However, they are large enough to be able to coil around an entire ship (even doing so in the accompanying illustration).
    • Al-Qadim has sea wyrms, which are a type of legless, wingless, long-bodied dragons that can breathe both air and water. They typically lair beneath the ocean, but can move on land by slithering like gigantic snakes. In addition to a sleep-inducing Breath Weapon, they also possess a power constricting attacks capable of crushing ships and can drag vessels as large as themselves beneath the waves.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition:
      • Introduced in the Fiend Folio are sea drakes, which are enormous, limbless, wingless, aquatic dragons. They are intelligent beings that dominate vast areas of the sea and use their strength to extort passing ships for vast sums of treasure, destroying any that fail to comply. They have a Healing Factor so long as they are immersed in water, and are also able to exude clouds of ink like an octopus.
      • Dragon #345 reintroduces so-named sea serpents, which it depicts as enormous sea snakes with a draconic head and two powerful arms and as an offshoot of the dragon family. All sea serpents are very greedy, but unlike their terrestrial cousins they only occasionally visit their treasure hoards, which they hide in undersea caves or treacherous reefs. They also come in several subtypes: crested sea serpents can hypnotize sailors with a song enhanced by the tubes and resonating chambers in their bony frills, lantern sea serpents have a glowing lure on their heads that presumably helps them use their color spray and hypnotic pattern spell-like abilities, and spiked sea serpents are covered in poisonous barbs they can fire at foes or use to rend enemies they're constricting.
    • Elder Evils describes the Leviathan as a giant version of this. It's believed to take the form of a massive serpent coiled around the world and its aspects likewise resemble less outsized, but still very large, draconic serpents, with long necks and tails and four paddlelike fins.
    • Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition: Sea serpents are described in Fizban's Treasury of Dragons as a seadwelling offshoot of the true dragons. They resemble immense, long-bodied fish with multiple fins, include a large dorsal one. They're some of the most feared monsters in the seas, a title they contest with their dragon turtle cousins, and attack prey with a combination of bites, constriction, tail lashes and a frigid Breath Weapon; elder sea dragons are particularly infamous for their habit of crushing ships in their coils to feed on stranded sailors at leisure. They usually lair in undersea caves or shipwrecks, and amass their hoards from the treasure carried by the ships they sink.
  • Exalted: Sea serpents live in the far Western oceans of Creation. They can reach upwards of fifty feet in length and have extremely venomous bites, and typically attack through a combination of constriction and venom. They often attack ships; with larger ones they simply attempt to pluck sailors from their decks, but smaller ones are crushed to splinters in their coils so that the serpent can collect the sailors from the water at its leisure.
  • GURPS:
    • GURPS Fantasy Bestiary describes sea serpents as legendary, solitary predators that will attack anything smaller than a whale. They will attempt to crush smaller targets in their coils, but can just as easily rear up to pluck sailors right from a ship's deck.
    • GURPS Dragons includes sea serpents as the oceanic counterpart of landbound dragons. Their basic template is simply a big animal capable of crushing a ship in its coils, but proposed variants include intelligent beings, as well as the Malay bena, a serpent that lives in estuaries, attacks fishing ships and sometimes probes up rivers. The section also proposes that, in a setting ruled over by draconic deities, a powered-up sea serpent might serve as the ruler of the seas.
  • Middle-Earth Role Playing: The Sea Serpents, or Lingwilóki, are a breed of dragon adapted for aquatic life. They are long and serpentine, with clawed fins instead of legs, deep blue or green scales, and a sonar organ in their foreheads. They attack by swallowing large quantities of water and forcefully expelling them from their mouths, and the largest specimens can grapple and crush small ships. They fear and hate fire and don't care for light, and consequently avoid shallow water; sea serpents are only found in the deep ocean and in subterranean waters.
  • Midgard:
    • A sea dragon has a shark's head that tapers off into a sleek eel-like body, and is big enough to hunt whales and entire schools of tuna.
    • The ikuchi is an immense, pale-blue, eel-like creature that measures just under a hundred feet long, native to the Plane of Water.
  • Odyssey of the Dragonlords: The sea serpent is a monstrous snake that makes its home within the ocean waves. Often mistaken as a dragon due to its massive size, it's actually descended from gargantuan, primordial snakes.
  • Palladium Books:
    • Palladium Fantasy: Sea serpents are large, aggressive marine reptiles found in the world's outer oceans, and prone to capsizing boats. A number of distinct varieties exist:
      • Horned ramrods have heavily armored heads and rhinoceros-like horns. They charge into ships like battering rams in order to break them open to get at the crew.
      • Jormund serpents are immense creatures, up to 400 feet in length, and highly territorial. They typically mistake ships as either intruders or prey and attempt to smash them to pieces, after which they devour any sailor they find in the water.
      • Northern stranglers are very ophidian serpents that kill their prey — large marine animals, including other sea serpents — by crushing it in their coils. They have also learned that ships are easy source of food, whether in the form of garbage pitched over the side, nets full of fish, whales caught on harpoons or sailors fallen in the drink, and will often follow larger vessels to glean such morsels. Smaller ships, of course, are just crushed to flinders from the get-go.
      • Snaggle-toothed gobblers resemble primordial sea monsters, with four paddle-like limbs, barrel-shaped torsos and thin, toothy mouths. Instead of sinking ships, they just snatch sailors right off the deck.
      • Viper serpents have long, clawed arms and the heads of deep-sea fish. Unlike other serpents, they kill for pleasure instead of just for food.
    • Rifts: Sea serpents are among the various creatures that were stranded on Earth when the Rifts came. They're common sea monsters in the setting's present day, and can reach immense sizes. Numerous varieties have been recorded in the oceans of the world, including some with stubby legs or tentacles capable of limited movement on land.
  • Pathfinder: Unlike in its sister game D&D, sea serpents are one of the core monsters of the game's rulebooks.
    • Sea serpents are immense, reptilian monsters with large fins framing their faces, and some of the most feared creatures in Golarion's oceans. Mystery Monsters Revisited, a sourcebook focused on cryptids and mysterious creatures, dedicates a chapter to discussing them and goes in some detail about their biology and habits. They never stop growing and aren't known to have maximum ages, and the largest and oldest sea serpents are powerful enough to prey on creatures as powerful as krakens. They're also frustratingly elusive creatures despite their immense sizes, and can be maddeningly difficult to track down between attacks. There are also deep-sea serpents, which resemble abyssal fish, live in the deepest reaches of the ocean and are almost never seen by surface-dwellers.
    • Ketesthiuses resemble sea serpents with wolf heads, fish tails and two front legs with webbed claws. They're most notable for possessing stomachs that are essentially pocket dimensions, which often become home to stranded ships and other sea monsters that the ketesthius swallowed whole.
    • Vydrarchs are fearsome, destructive and two-headed serpents with the heads of abyssal fish, which attack ports and sink ships simply for the sake of doing so.
    • Linnorms, evil relatives of true dragons with serpentine bodies and only two limbs, fit this trope quite closely through their marine varieties. Fjord linnorms, which nest along rocky shores, have webbed claws, fish-like heads, tails ending in piscine fins and a propensity for attacking ships; sea linnorms are instead provided with lionfish-like spines and glowing lures, and are apex predators living in the deepest underwater trenches of the world.
    • Ragadahn, a demigod of the sea and monsters who claims to be the progenitor of the linnorms and other dragons, takes the form of an immense, serpentine dragon adorned with large finds and with six flippers for limbs, and counts true sea serpents among his servants.
  • One of the cards in Res Arcana is the Sea Serpent, a large underwater serpent with scales, fins and a draconic head. It has the unique property of counting as both a Creature and a Dragon, and in the base game it's both the most expensive artifact to play and the one with the nastiest attack.
  • Shadowrun: Sea serpents are relatives of dragons resembling monstrous plesiosaurs with flexible necks and ridged or humped backs. They come in two distinct varieties: saltwater sea serpents are larger — up to twenty-five meters long — and are aggressive carnivores, feeding on cetaceans and other large marine predators; freshwater sea serpents are smaller — generally only up to eighteen meters long — herbivorous creatures native to large lakes.
  • They Came From Beneath The Sea!: The King Sea Serpents are genetically engineered giant sea snakes created by the iguanoids as a predator to control the Aquatepillars.
  • TimeWatch: A deep-sea serpent is a cryptid over thirty metres long, hard to photograph and capable of taking down whales for food and swallowing a half-dozen sailors at once.
  • Warhammer:
    • Gargantuans are sea serpents hundreds of feet long and up to thirty feet wide, and with large nasal horns.
    • Merwyrms are distantly related to dragons, and while serpentine they have four stubby limbs that let them move on land.
    • Sea Dragons are the degenerate descendants of dragons, no longer able to fly or move outside of water, but still among the biggest of the Dark Elves' war beasts, some even used to pull ships.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Monstrous sea serpents are among the numerous predatory beasts native to Fenris' ice-choked seas. They are often hunted by Fenrisian sailors for their tough, useful hides, but are entirely capable of hunting them right back.
    • Ithaka, the oceanic homeworld of the Iron Snakes chapter of Space Marines, is home to immense serpents up to 300 meters in length, which create storms that trail behind them as they swim. Chapter initiates are required to hunt one of these beasts in their initiation rituals, and the chapter also uses them to test accused criminals in the "Trial by Wyrm". This involves leaving the accused on a spit of rock in serpent-infested waters and coming back in six hours to check if they got eaten. If they're still alive then they're considered guilty and executed, since the Iron Snakes don't believe that the serpents would sully themselves by eating a criminal.

    Video Games 
  • Blood Money have a level set atop Arctic seas, where occasionally gigantic blue serpents will pop out the water before going back down. These monsters can't be harmed, but they won't purposely attack you and only poses a threat if you collide with them by accident.
  • Bug Fables has the Tidal Wyrm, a serpentine Bounty boss that is fought in the depths of the Stream Mountain in the pond. In a Reddit AMA, Genow revealed that it is supposed to be a worm mutated by the magic of the ancient crystals.
  • Dead In Vinland: You can find the skeleton of a long-dead one washed up on a beach; it's implied to possibly be Jormungand from Norse mythology. Touching its bones will poison the character who collects them, but they're still useful crafting material (or dog treats, oddly).
  • Demon Hunter: The Return of the Wings: Gun finds scales of a Tetenga, a water dragon, and Evan sends him to get rid of it before it grows up to 30 meters. It's already too late and cue the first boss fight.
  • Disciples has a creature literally called Sea Serpent, occasionally plaguing the waters. It's a tough, heavy-hitting and quite fast bluish monster that looks like a cross between a serpent and a turtle.
  • Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze has some enormous, eel-like creatures leaping out of the water to give you a hard time, particularly in the level "Twilight Terror", in the African-themed Bright Savannah world. These creatures might be based on the Inkanyamba, a similarly eel-like monster from Zulu and Xhosa mythology.
  • Dragon City: Several dragons with the Sea element as primary, such as the Sea, Nessie, Leviathan, Monstrous and Twister Dragons, possess the serpentine bodies and reduced or absent limbs of these creatures.
  • DragonFable: The Hydrahok boss appears as a large serpentine dragon with fish-like traits. Unusually, it also has multiple heads, but it otherwise appears like a snake.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Sea serpents are immense marine creatures — some of the largest creatures in the seas, in fact — resembling serpentine dragons with flippers instead of legs. They spawn in savage oceans, although only one serpent will spawn in each suitable biome.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • One of the series' most recurring entities is Leviathan, a massive finned serpent who rules over the oceans. His (or in two cases, her) signature attack is Tsunami/Tidal Wave, in which Leviathan raises the oceans to send them crashing down on the enemy. Depending on the game, Leviathan may be a good-willed monarch, an evil dragon, a bestial creature, or something in between.
    • Jormungand (sometimes referred to as Midgardsormr) is also a recurring monster, but oddly enough it almost never appears in the ocean.
  • Golden Sun: The final Mercury summon is a huge serpent named Azul which attacks by trapping the enemy in water and then ramming through it.
  • Hero of Sparta 2 begins with your return to Sparta, only to be greeted by a powerful sea serpent who attacks you at the docks, followed by the revelation that monsters of the underworld are now swarming your kingdom. In a later stage you fight another serpent near some shipwrecks.
  • Horn of the Abyss: The Cove's level 7 creature, the Sea Serpent/Haspid, is a giant serpentine sea-dwelling being, based on the Sea Serpent line of monsters seen in Might & Magic VI.
  • Kingdom Rush: Origins: The Crystal Lake is home to the Grootslang, a large serpentine monster with blue scales and purple fins, which swims around in the background and periodically emerges from the waters to either use its Breath Weapon to encase your towers in crystal or use a sonic roar to shatter other crystals and open new lanes for other enemies.
  • Krut: The Mythic Wings, a game based on Thai myths, have a Black Naga (a giant serpentine monster from Thai folklore) serving as one of the bosses in the ocean levels.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: Deep beneath Great Bay's Pinnacle Rock lies a nest of giant sea snakes called Deep Pythons. Link has to fight them off in order to retrieve three of Lulu's stolen Zora eggs, which the Gerudo Pirates lost when they themselves were attacked by the Deep Pythons on their way back to their stronghold.
  • Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven has the Sea Serpent line of monsters, which are giant wyrms swimming around in the Eel Infested Waters oceanic region. The second tier ones are named Sea Monsters (the ones in the tier above that are Sea Terrors, so named because, in addition to being one of the most dangerous non-boss creatures in the game, their attacks also inflict supernatural fear).
  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate: Tidal Najarala, a subspecies of the terrestrial Najarala, is a Snake Wyvern that spends most of its time inhabiting icy lakes. It shares many attacks from its cousin, but replaces its sound-sensitive scales it throws from its tail with similar-looking scales that instead redirect the water globules the monster shoots at preys and hunters.
  • Cateracta from Octopath Traveler II is a powerful sea serpent and one of the three legendary beasts. However, it is killed by the one of the game's main antagonists before the event of the story. Its newborn child, Acta, can later turn into the same sea serpent when summoned with a full boost.
  • Pandora's Box (1999): In the world map, occasionally one will appear swimming in the oceans. It's green with triangular back spikes and a dolphin-esque head, though it cannot be interracted with and only serves as a cool visual decoration.
  • Pokémon:
    • Gyarados is a ferocious, destructive, and entirely fishlike sea serpent that can level cities, and evolves from the somewhat pathetic Magikarp. Gold/Silver/Crystal features a red Gyarados (most are blue) rampaging in the aptly-named Lake of Rage.
    • Milotic is considered the benevolent counterpart of sorts to Gyarados, due to the fact that it's also a serpent, it has a much calmer temperament, and it evolves from an equally weak Pokemon, although it is much rarer and famed for being incredibly beautiful.
    • Dratini and Dragonair are serpentine Dragon-types often found in watery habitats.
    • Pokémon Uranium, a fan game, has the Legendary Pokémon Baitatao, a giant serpent that can be found deep within the sea trenches of East Tandor.
  • The Sims 2: In Neighborhood View, a sea serpent can sometimes be seen randomly at the end of the river and swimming out into the bay.
  • Subnautica: Among the leviathan-class lifeforms, two have long, serpentine bodies. The Reaper resembles a 55-meter-long eel with two sets of Monstrous Mandibles around its head, and is known for its constant roaring screams (which is unfortunately a form of echolocation - if you can hear a Reaper, it can "see" you). Ghost leviathans are even larger at 107 meters long, and are distinguished by their softly-glowing, transparent flesh and hammerheads. Neither attack by coiling around prey, instead Reapers grab and crush victims in their mandibles before eating them, while Ghost leviathans ram and chomp on other creatures.
  • ULTRAKILL: The Leviathan is a titanic Supreme Demon that resembles a serpentine mass of flesh and stone. It lurks in the ocean Styx and it serves as the boss of Wrath.
  • Valheim: As if navigation wasn't hard enough, Serpents emerge at night or during storms and attack ships. Killing them is possible but difficult at sea (you can't steer the boat and attack at the same time), and doing so only gets you the meat. To get the scales, it's necessary to kill them near land, a process explained exactly nowhere in-game (you need to find a Leviathan, harvest the barnacles on it with a metal pickaxe, fashion a harpoon, lure the serpent to shore, harpoon it, drag it ashore, and then kill it in the shallows).

  • Champions of Far'aus has sea serpents, and one named Serpentus antagonizes the main characters when they need to investigate why he's expanding his territory.

    Web Original 
  • Codex Inversus: Sea serpents are a kind of leviathan resembling a cross between a whale and a snake, and grow to be about three ships' worth in length. They're filter feeders like real whales, using tentacled lips to catch schools of fish and shrimp. They are hunted for their lips, eaten as a delicacy, and for their amberblanc, a variant of ambergris that can be used to make fix magical effects in potions like ambergris can fix scents.
  • ''North of Reality" describes a curious habit of sea serpents — they swim in a sine wave pattern, arcing in and out of the sea, but only appear to exist above water, their bodies appearing as they breach and vanishing when they pass beneath the waterline. The article speculates that the Earth hosts multiple oceans, which only share their surfaces, and whose depths are mutually inaccessible to creatures present within one or another. Sea serpents are merely reptiles that happen to inhabit a different ocean from the one we can access, and we can only perceive one another in the surface we share — to sea serpents, mankind is likewise a species of insubstantial phantoms, vanishing the moment we dive beneath the water.
  • Sagan 4: Snarks and Hafgufas are large oceanic predators which often have long serpentine bodies.

  • SCP Foundation:
    • SCP-169 is the source of "the Bloop" (an unexplained undersea sound, now thought to the sound of fracturing ice), a sea serpent estimated to be somewhere between 2000 and 8000 kilometers long, believed to breathe once every three months, and to have originated in the pre-Cambrian era.
    • SCP-3000 is a giant moray eel estimated between 600 and 900 kilometers long living off the Ganges delta, exuding a substance that causes severe memory alteration in humans. The Foundation currently uses it to synthesize the substance to create its amnestics (by feeding D-class personnel to it), but it seems the creature doesn't actually digest the humans it eats to produce the substance.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • There's a reason why the Serpent's Pass is called such, which the characters find out firsthand when a giant sea serpent comes out when they try to cross.
    • When visiting Kyoshi Island, Aang encounters Unagi, a gigantic and aggressive lake-dwelling eel capable of spouting high-pressure jets of water from its mouth and quite willing to try to eat him.
  • Babar: "The Unsalted Sea Serpent" has a big menacing sea serpent and its baby offspring living in the local lake.
  • Beany and Cecil: Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent is a benevolent example.
  • Bozo: The World's Most Famous Clown: Bozo the Clown, Butchy Boy and the circus boss encounter a friendly sea serpent with a healthy appetite ("Can I help it if I'm a growing sea serpent?") in "Sea Serpent Seance."
  • Care Bears has a sea serpent named "Shaky" who needs work on his confidence.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: In "Serpent of Evil River", Courage and his owners cross paths with Carmen, a huge sea serpent who's much more interested in singing for them than eating them.
  • Gertie the Dinosaur: A sea serpent emerges from the lake and irritates Gertie on two occasions.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Elements of Harmony", one of the obstacles the main characters encounter while crossing the Everfree Forest is a river being churned into impassability by a weeping sea serpent. This particular serpent possesses arms, but no other limbs, and both cranial and facial hair; the loss of half of his beloved mustache is what set him off in the first place. He later returns in "Slice of Life" as Cranky Doodle Donkey's "best monster" during the latter's wedding.
  • Ninjago: The physical form of Wojira, a storm spirit who ruled Ninjago's oceans before being defeated by the first elemental master of water, is a massive sea serpent.
  • Porky Pig: Porky, as Kristopher Kolumbus Jr. (1939, cartoon of the same name) runs into a sea serpent while sailing to discover the New World. It scares him off, then the sea serpent is scared off by an even larger one.
  • The Secret Saturdays: The underwater kingdom of Kumari Kandam is built on the back of an enormous sea serpent.
  • Touché Turtle and Dum Dum: Or in this case the fresh-water variety. The episode "Lake Serpent" shows our swashbuckling duo tangling with a huge lake-dwelling reptile that shares traits with the Loch Ness Monster.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Sea Serpent


Wrath's Leviathan

Slithering in the depths of the Ocean Styx, the Leviathan is a towering Supreme Demon that absorbed countless souls of the damned, and serves as the boss of Wrath's climax.

How well does it match the trope?

4.85 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / SeaMonster

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