Follow TV Tropes


Tentacled Terror

Go To
"Squid, cuttlefish, and other similarly baleful creatures are all members of the cephalopod family, characterized by HUGE EYES, BEAKS, INTELLIGENCE, and AMBITION. ... They're jet powered, did you know that? They're jet-powered animals and their heads are covered in PREHENSILE TENTACLES. They're carnivorous and most are cannibals!
T-Rex, Dinosaur Comics

Octopoids and other tentacled creatures are often depicted as terrifying monsters.

Squids and octopi dwell in the deep ocean where they can sometimes reach immense sizes, they move strangely with their incredibly non-human anatomy, and they are remarkably intelligent. But mostly, they have tentacles. These are usually seen completely alien and disgusting: they are slimy, have a whole lot of suckers, and move in an incredibly unnerving fashion. Given all these factors, it is only natural to see many works of fiction featuring creepy octopi as scary monsters the hero has to fight.

But it doesn't have to stop to mere cephalopods: some have noticed that cephalopod's tentacles are so creepy and unnerving that they could considerably crank up the horror meter of other monsters, and decided that they could be used on creatures even more menacing than actual cephalopods. Cue the various Mix-and-Match Critters like cecaelias, Cthulhu-like Eldritch Abominations and a plethora of monsters with entirely gratuitous tentacles.


Super-Trope to Giant Squid. The Cthulhumanoid and Octopoid Aliens rely very often on this trope as well. May overlap with Stealthy Cephalopod when evil cephalopods are sneaky masters of disguise. Contrast (or sometimes overlaps with) Funny Octopus. Frequently overlaps with Combat Tentacles and the "Kraken" part of Kraken and Leviathan.

Examples of Scary Squids and assorted cephalopods:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, the Hideauze are aggressive squid-like monsters engaged in a long war against the Galactic Alliance of Humankind. They are also the descendants of humans who genetically altered themselves to survive in the vacuum of space.
  • Octagon, the first enemy destroyed by Kirby in Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, is a gigantic, sheep-eating, flying, fire-breathing octopus.
  • Pokémon:
    • In the Pokémon X and Y series we had a villainous Mamalar (which is basically a squid turned upside down) as one of the Arc Villains, and a pretty menacing one at that.
    • Bea's Grapploct is an unstoppable opponet who crushes Ash's winning streak for the season, and causes him to become depressed and go on a losing streak. Its presentation underscores its intimidation factor; when it appeared for the "Who's that Pokemon" Eye Catch of Episode 39, the cheery music for the first half was replaced with a Scare Chord, and then in the second half it got a somber piano composition leading into the ensuing rematch, where it brutally beats Pikachu with its tentacles over and over.
  • Franken Fran: Chapter 53, "Octopus", revolves around a mimic octopus that Fran had been tinkering on that can mimic people's appearances. After Fran lost it, it was found by a young man who had recently lost his little sister; the octopus took on the form of said sister to fool him. It eventually mates with him and uses his body to host its thousands of eggs.

    Comic Books 
  • Watchmen: Ozymandias destroys New York using a giant squid at the end of the book. The movie, however, removes the squid in favor of an energy machine that sends highly destructive blasts of energy to not just cities around the world.
  • Diabolik had to fight octopi twice: the first time was when a millionaire, expecting Diabolik's visit, put his jewels in a chest and the chest in a pool containing seawater and a giant guard octopus (Diabolik planned to poison it, but found himself in a hurry and had to jump in and knife it to death), while the second time he was peacefully swimming when a wild octopus attacked him.
  • Tons in the early horror stories (and especially on the covers) in the Warren age of Vampirella, note  e.g. #3, "Blast Off To A Nightmare", or #17 "Lover of the Bayou" (an interesting find - "lover" as in redlink trope warning, but it's not the slightest titillating, but pure horror). They quickly realized that the trope was dated even then, and began to subvert (in "Celia" the humans don't act less monstrous), invert (in "Fleur" the monster is horrified by the butt-uglyness of the victim - long story) and spoof ("Orphee" is completely harmless and just has to play a monster in a B movie) it to hell and back.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW) introduces Mimic the Octopus, the Arc Villain of the Tangle & Whisper miniseries. A not-so-Funny Animal Psycho for Hire formerly in the employ of Dr. Eggman, he's an expert assassin skilled in dirty tactics and capable of transforming into other characters.
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: In "Fangs of Black Fury" (Zoot Comics #9), the villains import octopuses from the ocean and plant them in the river where they attack and drown members of Rulah's tribe.
  • Simon Dark: Everything about the eyeless razor toothed former human tentacle monster Suzie is designed to be horrifying and dangerous, but she's really a sweetheart under it all even if she'll happily jump to murder under certain circumstances and is functionally immortal. She'll also eat people and their minions if they try to bind her in a familiar contract, so avoid endangering kids or practicing anything remotely like slavery and she's much less dangerous.

    Fan Works 
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Chapter 8 of the sequel Diplomat at Large introduces Squirk, the gigantic and monstrous octopus who once ruled what is now Aquastria as a tyrant before the merlions locked him away, liberating the local seaponies and mermares in the process.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The dianoga from A New Hope, the one in the Death Star trash compactor, happens to be octopus-like. They're also called "garbage squid". And they will invade toilets.
  • Ray Harryhausen's Mysterious Island based on Jules Verne's novel features a giant ammonite that attacks the characters when they're working to float a sunken ship the end of the movie.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: THE KRAKEN! Its master, Davy Jones, could be considered this too. His head is basically an octopus with tentacles for a beard and a back of the octopus for the back of his head.
  • Prometheus: The Fetus Terrible super-facehugger thing.
  • Sharktopus combines this with Threatening Shark.
  • The Italian movie Tentacoli (or Tentacles in its U.S. release) features a giant octopus that was stirred up by an underwater tunneling project, and developed a taste for humans.
  • Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The famously scary giant squid that attacks the Nautilus underwater and fights its crew on the surface.
  • Godzilla: Oodako is an octopus Kaiju. However, it isn't a very dangerous one compared to some others.
  • Space Amoeba: The first creature infected by the space amoeba Yog is a gigantic monster cuttlefish called Gezora.
  • It Came from Beneath the Sea: The titular "it" that came from beneath the sea is a giant octopus animated by Ray Harryhausen.
  • Octopus (2000): A TV movie featuring a giant octopus grown to giant size via exposure to radioactive material that was spilled into the waters off Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis, attacking submarines and naval vehicles off Cuba's coasts for almost forty years until it's finally killed while unwittingly interfering in a U.S. attempt to defeat a terrorist cell and that cell's effort to rescue their captured leader. A sequel, Octopus 2: River of Fear, was released a year later and features another giant octopus wreaking havoc in New York Harbor.
  • The Tripods in the 2005 adaptation of War of the Worlds use long, roping tendrils to search out places that the Humongous Mecha can't reach, to lift people (and vehicles) off the ground, and on one memorable occasion to drain a victim of blood for use in growing the aliens' Red Weed.

  • The Lord of the Rings has the Watcher in the Water (a huge squid-thing that guards the gates of Moria).
  • Michael Crichton's Sphere had "Jerry" summon a swarm of impossible squid, and later a giant squid (an homage to the one from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) to attack the undersea station.
  • The 1957 French novel Niourk by Stefan Wul features amphibious, hyperintelligent mutant octopuses.
  • John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes is about the invasion of Earth's oceans by a race of alien cephalopods. (Or at least the organic weapons they deploy are somewhat squid-like; it's never revealed what the actual aliens look like.)
  • Victor Hugo's novel The Workers of the Sea depicts at one point a fight between a sailor and a huge octopus.
    A greyish form drifts in the water; big as an arm and half a yard long; it's a rag; this form looks like a closed umbrella without a handle. This rag slowly moves towards you. Suddenly it opens, eight spokes swiftly spread around a two-eyed face; these spokes are alive; there is flamboyance in their dance; it's a wheel of sorts; opened up, it is four or five feet in diameter. Frightening blossom. This thing throws itself at you.
    The hydra harpoons the man.
    This beast crawls over its prey, covers it, ties it in its long coils. Below it is yellowish, above it is dirt-toned; nothing could adequately express this eerie dusty shade; it seems a beast made of ashes that would live in water. It is spiderlike in its shape and chameleon in its coloration. Angry, it turns purple. Horrifyingly, it is soft.
    Its knots strangle; its contact paralyzes.
    It evokes scurvy and gangrene; it's a disease made monstrous flesh.
  • Ian Fleming's Dr. No has a giant octopus at the end of the obstacle course that the eponymous villain puts James Bond through.
  • The H.G. Wells story "The Sea Raiders" is about some giant squid who migrate to the English coastline and start eating people. They can even walk about on the shore a bit.
  • Not evil of themselves, but put to a nasty use: The murder weapons in The Night Season are blue-ringed octopuses, whose fatal poison has no antivenom.
  • The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks: Referenced during the first book, when Michael stays up late to watch a monster movie featuring a giant octopus (and also a mad scientist).
  • In Pagoo, an illustrated children's book about the life story of a hermit crab, the final predator from which Pagoo must escape is an octopus. It's normal-sized, but since Pagoo is about the size of a human fingertip, their encounter is plenty terrifying for the young crab.
  • Beast by Peter Benchley (writer of Jaws) has a giant squid that is not only 100 feet long (double the length of the outermost realistic estimates) but Ax-Crazy besides, explicitly described as killing purely For the Evulz.

    Live-Action TV 

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Kraken from the northern legends, though in the first incarnations it was more like a Turtle Island thing.
  • The Oodako (great octopus) is the protagonist of a sad Japanese legend where he forces a girl to marry him.
  • In the Hawaiian creation myth, the sun was imprisoned in the ocean by a gargantuan octopus, who was slain by a god.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: A rather straight example would be the Krakens, a race of massive intelligent giant squids. That are also often wizards. They too like to enslave humanoids when they have the opportunity.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Kraken creature types, which includes the Polar Kraken, one of the biggest creatures in the game.
    • The Cephalid, a race of squid-folk portrayed as physically weak but sneaky and conniving.
    • Zendikar brings us the first true legendary octopus: Lorthos, the Tidemaker.
  • Munchkin has the Level 18 Squidzilla monster (outright called Cephalopodzilla in French).
  • The Old World of Darkness had a cephalopod race called the Chulorviah, who could parasitize humans and had plans for world domination.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Krakens are gigantic, evil and highly intelligent Giant Squids who view the world as rightfully theirs and other creatures as either enemies to be destroyed or as potential slaves. One ancient kraken known as Kaktora was so powerful that the demon lord Dagon saw her a genuine enough threat to his rule over sea monsters to personally enter the Material Plane to kill her, while in the current day the kraken Zhanagorr took over the Tian Xian nation of Wanshou after saving it from a devastating typhoon — which he may or may not have been responsible for to begin with — and turned it into a rain-lashed quagmire ruled by evil sea creatures.
    • Devilfish are smaller — although still larger than humans — seven-armed squid-shark hybrid monsters (presumably modeled on the creature from the movie Devil Fish), supposedly created when Dagon's blood and life essence mixed with Kaktora's tattered flesh. They worship Dagon as their creator and live lives ruled by the urge to kill and feed. A more intelligent variant rules cities in the deepest abysses of the sea and regularly wars against other sea-dwelling races, but its intolerance for shallow-water conditions means that surface-dwellers rarely run into it.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing: Downplayed. As a Cranky villager, Octavian the octopus isn't quite evil, but still grouchy and jerky. He has a rather sinister look, with his bright red skin and very angry expression. With a design like that, in most video games, he would be an enemy species.
  • The aptly-named Psychosquid is an extraterrestrial cephalopod that serves as one of the many alien enemies in Popcap's Insaniquarium. He's fittingly enough, one of the hardest opponents you will face in your journey, as his tentacles allow him to hold multiple weapons which he can use to eat and murder a good deal of your fishies in a single gulp. The Final Boss and Big Bad of the game, Dr. Cyrax, ressembles a giant brain with four eyes and cephalopod-like tentacles.
  • Super Mario Bros.
    • In Super Mario RPG the first boss of the sunken ship is a Giant Squid that goes by the name, King Calamari. He has 800 Hit Points and his left tentacles have 200 Hit Points while his right tentacles have 260.
    • King Kaliente from Super Mario Galaxy is also of the evil cephalopod bunch. Though like most Mario enemies he's also pretty comical.
    • Brigadier Mollosque-Lanceur III Dauphin of Bubblaine, is a monstrous purple octopus with fancy clothing with a mustache and hair curls that appears as the boss of Bubblaine in Super Mario Odyssey.
    • Paper Mario series:
      • Thousand Year Door has the first boss battle against a Blooper.
      • Super Paper Mario features a boss battle against a giant Blooper during Chapter 3-2.
  • Quest for Glory IV has cephalopod imagery all over to represent the Dark One, possibly a reference to Lovecraft or Czernobog of Russian mythology. There are also "hexapods", six-legged monsters that guard the monastery.
  • Ultros from Final Fantasy VI. He's mostly comical, though.
  • Mass Effect brings us the Reapers. An entire race of horrifically powerful squid-shaped starships bent on perpetuating a cycle of extinction on the entire galaxy every 50,000 years, as they have for at least the past 37 million years. And that's 740 cycles!
    • Some theories suggests that they might have been doing this for a billion years. And that's 20,000 cycles!
    • They're shaped like cuttlefish because they were created by the Leviathans, who are giant aquatic beings, and they remade themselves in the image of their creators once they Turned Against Their Masters and started killing everything.
  • Oodako the giant octopus boss in Muramasa: The Demon Blade.
  • As well as the Watcher from the book, The Lord of the Rings Online has a giant tentacled terror in the sewers of Carn Dum.
  • Some of Ecco the Dolphin's more random enemies include giant octopodes called Eight-Arms. The Prehistoria levels have plenty of pointy ammonites, too.
    • Defender of the Future gives us first the giant octopus, and later a Giant Squid which involves a puzzle to defeat it.
  • The first boss of Ratchet and Clank 2 is a huge swamp-octopus thing. Its big brother also acts as a hidden boss.
  • Squiddicus from Donkey Kong Country Returns and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is a gigantic octopus that spends most of his time attacking ships in the background, but in a few levels he'll attack Donkey and Diddy, smashing platforms and swiping with his tentacles. And he's covered with small spikes, making him invulnerable.
  • The Martians from Metal Slug series, resemble squid or octopi.
  • Ozumat, the fiend from below, a massive spawn of the Old Gods who seeks to aid the naga and faceless with their campaign in Vashj'ir in World of Warcraft. He's also the bastard who sinks your ship at the start of the zone. Suffice to say, killing him feels good.
  • The giant octopus boss of Quaria in Bug!, which stays in the background, grabs fish with its tentacles, and throws them at you. You counter by whacking them back at his head, after which he will come up close and personal, using his tentacles to hurt Bug directly.
  • The Mega Man X series have Launch Octopus and Squid Adler/Bolt Kraken. Though they are anything but squishy- the former launches homing missiles and can drain X's life, while the latter makes liberal use of Shock and Awe.
    • Sequel franchise Mega Man Zero brings us the cryokinetic Tech Kraken, who attempts to cause an earthquake by drilling a suicide submarine into the ocean floor.
  • The Xarquids from XCOM Terror From The Deep. Essentially, they're Nautiloids fed on a diet of alien steroids and have a sonic beam shoved up they're tentacles. And they swim backwards.
  • Gohma Lashers from Asura's Wrath, designed to look like a combination of Octopuses and Shelled Cephalopods. They take this to an extreme, being an entire mile or more in length from the top of the head to the end of it's tentacle.
  • The second The Dishwasher game has Squidface, a katana-wielding sword master with an octopus for a head.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn has Capamari, the boss of Water World. During the first phase of his battle, he appears to be a squid until you unravel the knitted cap he's wearing, revealing him to be an octopus and triggering the second phase.
  • Malamar from Pokémon X and Y. Malicious-looking Dark/Psychic humanoid squids that are the Pokemon's equivalent of Mind Flayers. They can hypnotize others into doing their bidding, and it doesn't help that they are used by trainers for nefarious purposes. Its pre-evolved form Inkay is more timid and less overtly malicious, but it's still a Dark-type.
  • Some characters in The Secret World believe that the Dreamers are extra-dimensional cephalopods.
  • The single-player story mode of Splatoon features the octopus-based Octarians, who fought the Inklings in a previous war and have seemingly returned for revenge. It turns out their habitats were falling apart and running out of power, and they stole the Great Zapfish to try to fix it.
  • In the first King's Bounty game the Kraken sinks the ship of the pirate captain who lead you there. Later you have to face the whole beast, but you have to kill the tentacles.
  • Conan has a boss battle against a very Giant Squid at one point during the game.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: The space Kraken. Pit has to shoot down its tentacles while fighting it. Despite living in space, it can shoot water from its mouth.
  • Castlevania games have enemies called Dark Octopus, a mutated octopuses tormented by black magic. The monsters were introduced in Symphony of the Night and later reappeared in Order of Ecclesia.
  • A giant, red octopus awaits the player at the bottom of the ocean in Wii Play Motion's minigame Treasure Twirl. It seems harmless at first, but when you start reeling up with the treasure chests, it suddenly appears at the bottom of the screen and comes after you, trying to impede you way up to the surface. The scary jingle, as well as the suddenness of the aggression makes the whole thing very frightening.
  • The Legend of Zelda series:
    • Octoroks are among the enemies that Link has to face. They resemble octopodes.
    • Phytops, the third boss from The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, is a giant cyclopean octopus with thorned tentacles it uses to slam on Link and to impede his way around the arena. Thankfully, the thorns can be snatched with the whip and hurled on Phytops' single eye.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has the Sea Octoroks and Big Octos. While the River Octoroks are tame enough, Sea Octoroks are big, flail menacingly when you get close instead of hiding in the water, tend to come out of nowhere right in front of you and knock you out of your boat, have creepy yellow eyes and glowing blue spiked heads at night, and come in huge swarms. The Big Octos are building-sized, create storms and a whirlpool to pull you closer so it can suck you in and spit you out, have eyes all over their bodies which act as weak points and seemingly move around at random, and their location is marked by a flock of seagulls.
  • One of the many spectral abominations haunting the Shadow Isles in Legends of Runeterra is the Darkwater Scourge, a giant ghostly octopus big enough to pluck a small ship out of the water and snap it in half with its tentacles. Making matters worse, its mantle appears to be armoured with the same black spiky armour plating normally worn by the more humanoid fiends of the Isles.

  • Cucumber Quest: Splashmaster is a monster resembling a Giant Squid who terrorizes the Ripple Kingdom, and the only cephalopodian character seen there.
  • Dinosaur Comics: T. rex's neighbors are a group of raccoons and cephalopods who practice some rather unwholesome habits, including self-cannibalism, and ask highly unnerving questions on the nature of "consent". According to God, they were not meant to be part of creation — they were simply there one day. Staring.

    Web Original 
  • Neopets: Zigzagged. Tiny Giant Squids are kept as pets, Small, Large, and Giant Giant Squids are eaten, but Tyrannical Giant Squids are seen as dangerous.
  • In Hector's World, a squid is an evil Con Man and leader of a criminal gang. Octopi are also seen as antagonists when characters imagine shady people.
  • Orion's Arm has the horror story of the Bitenic Squid, an Uplifted Animal variant created to self-direct its psychological development, totally free of human preconceptions. Rousseau Was... very wrong: the one in a million who achieve coherent thought and communication are total sociopaths with Blue-and-Orange Morality revolving entirely around their solipsistic interests, and all the more dangerous for it when they find outsiders to exploit. Their presence it outright banned on several worlds, and quite a lot of people consider their basic existence to be an atrocity.

    Western Animation 
  • Flipper and Lopaka: Dexter the octopus is proud of his attempts to take over Quetzo and bully its inhabitants.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: Squirk is a malevolent octopus who once ruled the world, he plans to flood all of Ponyland to retake the territory he considers his.
  • Silly Symphonies: In Frolicking Fish, the antagonist is an octopus that tries to catch and eat the other, happy, dancing sea creatures.

Examples of other Tentacled Terrors:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • Spider-Man:
    • Spider-Man's foe Doctor Octopus. Not really squishy, though.
    • Spidey has a lesser foe called the Squid who really is all squiddly diddly.
  • Octoboss, a minor Invincible villain, is a horrifying anthropomorphic octopus who straddles the line between Humanoid and Starfish Aliens. His head and hands are all masses of super-strong Combat Tentacles. Since Invincible is in part a Spider-Man homage, Octoboss is probably based loosely on Doctor Octopus.
  • There's also Shuma-Gorath, a recurring enemy of Doctor Strange, who can best be described as a pile of green tentacles with a giant eye in the middle. As the name and appearance might suggest, he's a lovecraftian chaos entity residing outside our dimension, and is constantly trying to find a way in. He is very unpleasant to deal with to say the least.
  • The Ogdru Jahad from Hellboy, being a mix of Lovecraft and Babylonian myths, are often portrayed as enormous tentacled masses beyond our universes borders. They're also the Big Bad of the entire setting, are responsible for the creation of Hellboy and have intended for him to bring them into our reality to usher in the End of Days.
  • Sensation Comics: The otherworldly man eating "octopus plants," which are depicted with eyes, maintained by "Creeper" Jackson have tentacles well over twenty feet long. The "plants" in question nearly defeat Wonder Woman while she is trying to save the Holliday Girls from them, she is able to figure out their weakness and shout it to Steve Trevor which allows him to help enough that she can defeat the things.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • In The Little Mermaid (1989), Ursula the wicked sea witch is part cephalopod. Her first designs had lower bodies based on scorpion fishes and manta rays, but the designers decided to base her on an octopus instead since tentacles would add a "seductive yet scary aspect".
  • Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure: Gazooks the sea monster is a giant, floppy, octopus-like monster who works for the evil King Koo Koo. Fitting with the movie's fabric toy aesthetic, Gazooks appears to be made out of clothes or scrap fabric.

    Films — Live Action 

  • Cthulhu Mythos: The octopus-headed star spawn, and their leader, Great Cthulhu, Master of R'lyeh. The eponymous monster in The Dunwich Horror is also said to be "all made o' squirmin' ropes", suggesting that he - and his father, the god Yog-Sothoth - qualify as this trope. H. P. Lovecraft had a strange thing about tentacles and invertebrates in general, owing in part to a seafood allergy, and this has become a bit of a Characteristic Trope, to the point where any tentacled monster will probably be described as Lovecraftian (whether the term applies beyond the superficial or not), and when a work of his that doesn't involve tentacles gets adapted - such as with the above Dagon, an adaptation of The Shadow Over Innsmouth - the adaptation will throw in tentacles anyway because that's what people expect.
    • The Shadow Over Innsmouth might even count as a defiance of this trope, as the narrator specifically points out his relief that the Fish People, frightening though they are, "had no more than four limbs". This may be part of why they're ultimately treated more sympathetically, with the narrator deciding to join them at the end. The fact that they resemble fish more than molluscs, in Lovecraft's mind, might have made them a bit more palatable.
  • The evil Martians in The War of the Worlds are distinctly squid-like octopoids, though most illustrations give them somewhat owl-like features as well.
  • The Grim in Septimus Heap, which lives in the sewer pipes below the Port and which feeds upon animals falling in them. It's the initiation job (the Task) of Keeper Apprentices to cut one tentacle of off them without being eaten.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, Daleks are pretty much brains with tentacles in personal tanks.
  • Hyperdrive: The sex education video shows (fortunately not to the audience) the dangers of Interspecies Romance with such creatures.
    "This crew member had intercourse with a Glygonthian octopoid. Let's take a close look at his genitals. Pustules have developed, and on the pustules: warts. Soon, his entire groin explodes, leaving five baby octopoids, each with his face. Remember, Alien Sex is Danger Sex."

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In addition to the actual cephalopod examples listed above, D&D has the Illithids, also known as Mind Flayers. They are mostly similar to skinny grey humans but with heads that look like an octopus with four tentacles, which they use to get hold of their victims' heads and eat their brains. They are also parasitic creatures that reproduce by implanting their tadpoles into the brains of humanoids, where they slowly feed on the victim's flesh and grow around its skeleton, eventually completely absorbing and replacing the host. Any humanoids that don't get their brains eaten or have embryos implanted in their heads are used as slave labor.
    • D&D also has the Aboleths, gigantic tentacled fish with three eyes and psychic powers. Like Illithids and Kraken, they too enjoy enslaving humanoids.

    Video Games 
  • In Sunless Skies, if you spot an innocuous-looking locomotive suddenly sprouting black tentacles, flee: this particular ship had been invaded by Guests, tentacled monstrosities that can invade space locomotives and are drawn to the warmth associated with places that had been lived in. And as their stolen home grows cold, they will frantically search for a new locomotive to take over. Like yours.
  • The Queen of Hearts in American McGee's Alice and its sequel is a monstrous mass of blood red tentacles looking like arteries. The Queen is the embodiment of Alice's madness, her tentacles spreading through her mind and Wonderland, corrupting the latter into a nightmarish version of its original self.
  • The Ceph, and evil cepalopod-like race from Crysis are as evil as these things come, waking up from their million-year hibernation to destroy humanity and take over the planet. They deploy terrible Freeze Rays and horrific flesh-melting bioweapons against population centers (such as New York) before invading and fucking the place up with their litho-ships.
  • Mass Effect brings us the Reapers. An entire race of horrifically powerful squid-shaped starships bent on perpetuating a cycle of extinction on the entire galaxy every 50,000 years, as they have for at least the past 37 million years. And that's 740 cycles! Some theories suggests that they might have been doing this for a billion years. And that's 20,000 cycles! They're shaped like cuttlefish because they were created by the Leviathans, who are giant aquatic beings, and they remade themselves in the image of their creators once they Turned Against Their Masters and started killing everything.
  • As well as the Watcher from the book, The Lord of the Rings Online has a giant tentacled terror in the sewers of Carn Dum.
  • In Path of Exile, the influence of the Eldritch Abomination known as The Elder on maps in the endgame Atlas of Worlds is represented by a swirling mass of tentacles. Inside Elder-influenced maps, patches of grey tentacles appear on the ground, tentacled monsters can spawn, tentacles can emerge from the ground and slam the player, and tentacled portals can spawn and spew forth a stream of monsters until destroyed. Elder Items have a tentacled background.
  • In Haunted Halls, Dr Blackmore has disgusting octopus tentacles in place of his lower body. He sometimes use them to impede the protagonist's way.
  • Chairman McKraken is an evil squid-like Yokai that tries to take over the world in Yo-Kai Watch.
  • In Darksiders, the Deadly Sin Gluttony is a monstruous... thing that mixes the very worst aspects of both this trope and the Alluring Anglerfish . With entirely too many mouths and an insatiable appetite. Sweet dreams!
  • In Sundered, the various Eschaton creatures are amorphous masses of tentacles beneath their white masks and hooded robes. They worship Eldritch Abominations from the Cthulhu Mythos, and are implied to have once been human before something went very wrong.
  • The Elder Scrolls has the Dreugh, a strange race of octopus-like Beast Folk found throughout Nirn’s ocean. Supposedly, they once ruled a massive empire that controlled most of the sea, until centuries of protracted conflict with the Dunmer and the destruction of their homeland by Mehrunes Dagon caused their civilization to collapse. They’re still sentient, but are severely devolved and now generally avoid or act hostile towards other races. One weird trait is that, for one year in their lives, they undergo a process called “karvinasim” that causes them to mutate into crustacean-like, land-dwelling forms; during that time, they’re completely animalistic and wander about on land, attacking anything in sight.
  • Dark Souls II has, deep in Black Gulch, vaguely hand-shaped tentacle monsters that lurk in pits of oil and devour intruders with a maw in the "palm". Fortunately for adventurers of a nervous disposition who dislike having flesh-crazed hand monsters burst out of the ground to attack them, once you learn which pits of oil they lurk in, you can use pyromancy to ignite those pits and fry the bastards.
  • The Witcher series:
    • The first game has a more clear example with the boss Zeugl, who is basically an Expy of the Watcher in the Water, except that instead of having a humanoid head, it has fish head. It also has elements of Dianoga as it lives in the sewers. Geralt fights it by combating its Combat Tentacles that act like they have a mind of their own.
    • The second game has the Kayran, an enemy that is a combination of this and a Giant Enemy Crab. It has tentacles from a crab-like monster. It is the first real boss of the game and lives in the swamps.
  • The Kraken of Evolve invokes this. Its mouth is a series of fangs set in the midst of some tentacles, it had tentacles growing out of its back and head, and its 'wings' are essentially tentacles on the ends on normal limbs.
  • Sonic Forces: Both forms of the Death Egg Robot prominently feature robotic tentacles, giving them a very creepy look. Its final form has many more tentacles than the first for maximum cephalopod-esque creepiness.
  • Subnautica features a surprising lack of these creatures, given its setting. Crabsquids are the closest, though their limbs are, as the name might imply, somewhat more crab-like than tentacle-like. The only other creatures with tentacles are the Sea Dragon and the Sea Emperor, and they mainly use them for propulsion rather than manipulating objects. And the Sea Emperor wouldn't count for this trope anyway: as scary as it looks, it's friendly.
  • Balan Wonderworld: Lance is an evil, supernatural entity who takes advantage of people in despair and turns them into monsters. Lance is a humanoid with tentacles, emerging from his back, that he uses to initiate these transformations. His hair resembles a mass of drooping tentacles as well.
  • The Borderlands series: The final boss of Borderlands 1 had tentacles, and is referenced in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!, when former player character, Lilith discusses her vault hunting days. "Too many tentacles".
  • BoxxyQuest: The Shifted Spires: The Eldritch Transformation of a boss results in a form that is all tentacles and covers the screen.
  • The Epic Battle Fantasy series has Beholders, whose main concept is "tentacle-based attacks".
  • Yooka-Laylee has Trev the Tenteyecle, the boss of Moodymaze Marsh. Described as an "Upset Kraken", Trev is a giant tentacled monster who lives in a shack, and attacks Yooka and Laylee for making him miss his favorite TV show. During the fight, Trev stays mostly hidden inside the shack, so that all the player can see of him are a large green eye, and a couple tentacles with smaller eyes on them.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Squoods are massive squid-like enemies that can be encountered while salvaging (Just about everywhere) or during fog. (In Tantal)
  • Game & Watch: The antagonist of Octopus is terrifyingly huge, or should be but your divers keep going back in the water with it and refuse to return to the boat if they are not holding treasure.

    Web Animation 
  • Chadam: Viceroy is able to give themselves long, inky-black tentacles, which can then be used to smother and kidnap people.

  • At the start of Bearmageddon, a dead bear with octopus tentacles is pulled from a sewer. Joel's group encounter several live ones while escaping the church through the sewer.

    Western Animation 
  • In Chaotic, the M'arrillian Tribe is hostile sea food at the lower-rungs, but the higher rungs, like Chieftains and Aa'une himself, are mostly eyes and slimy tentacles that don't look like anything. Aa'une's One-Winged Angel form with multiple mouths and a dozen tentacles now makes him by far the ugliest creature in the entire series.
  • In the pilot episode of Justice League, something called "Imperium" appeared, a big, night-loving blob with tentacles. There's also Ichthultu from "The Terror Beyond," a Lawyer-Friendly Cameo version of Cthulhu who, naturally, has tentacles coming out of his/its face.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: