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The Worm That Walks

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Worms? Worms? I hate worms. They drive me crazy.

Buffy: You and bug people, Xander. What's up with that?
Xander: No, but this dude was completely different than praying mantis lady. He was a man of bugs, not a man who was a bug.

Sometimes, when you want a really scary monster, a giant insect just won't do. They've been done to death and look really cheesy to boot. But you still want a bug monster — what do you do?

Well, you call this guy. He isn't just one bug — he's millions! Millions of tiny creepy crawlies make up his body, as if his entire body is composed of Synchronized Swarming controlled by a Hive Mind. Sometimes it's worms, sometimes it's insects — bees are always good — and sometimes it's just any creepy thing you can think of.

Villains like this aren't always the most lethal but are often very hard to hurt. Trying to punch one is like trying to punch water (only far more disgusting). In some cases, they are almost impossible to kill, because if even one of the creatures that makes up its body survives, there is the possibility that it will return (though it may take a while). Kill It with Fire is often your best bet.

In real life, these are called colony organisms or superorganisms.

Could be considered an extreme of the Totem Pole Trench. At times the members can retain their individuality and are just really well-coordinated. This trope is almost always combined with Healing Factor or even From a Single Maggot. Just don't confuse him with The Worm Guy, or Earthworm Jim, or the Ghost Who Walks. One to Million to One is a variant where a creature can become The Swarm, but it isn't its common form. See also Combining Mecha for the mechanical counterpart of this trope, and Body of Bodies for the vertebrate one. One justification for a Pest Controller.


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  • An ad for The BBC had a head made of disembodied heads. People complained.
  • This Duracell Ultra commercial accidentally evokes this trope. In some of those shots, those little pink Duracell Bunnies look more like a mass of squirming maggots.
  • There's a Prius commercial that centers on a human made out of dozens of tiny humans. That "people person" gets out of bed, brushes its "teeth," etc.
  • A public service announcement from the USDA APHIS regarding accidentally bringing in invasive species was spoken by a man made out of various insects wearing gentlemanly clothes. He talks to the camera about his desire to spread himself elsewhere, then lifts up an arm and disperses the insects it's made of. This was intentionally played for creeps. He's basically the Affably Evil spokesman for their "Hungry Pests" campaign.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk: The Godhand do not have bodies that exist in the material realm, so when they want to affect things, they need to take preexisting materials to make bodies from. Slan once made a body from troll guts, and Conrad made one from a mass of rats.
  • Delicious in Dungeon: For the longest time, it was an accepted fact that Living Armor was ordinary suits of armor that had been enchanted to move, but then Laios noticed an egg sac on the shield of the 'leader' of a group of them. After bringing the leader down and inspecting it closer, he learned the truth: Living Armors are colonial organisms made up of metallic-shelled mollusks all linked together in a humanoid shape. Much to his delight, they can, in fact, be eaten.
  • Gambon's mooks in Fist of the North Star have a specialty called the Centipede Fighting whereby they hop on each other's shoulder to form, well, centipedes.
  • In chapter 24 of Franken Fran, the Wandering Jew shows up. Despite being immortal, his original body except for his skeletal structure has long since rotted away. His curse of immortality solved the problem by constantly summoning insects to replace his body. He's essentially an undying skeleton with bugs for muscles and organs. Amazingly enough, this chapter actually has a happy ending for the poor guy.
  • Dokubachi in Get Backers is the Bee that Walks (and flies and philosophizes and uses ki attacks...) whose body is a bizarre, super-specialized honeycomb that gives him all manner of bee-related abilities. Unusually for this trope, though, his final form looks completely human.
  • The "Carriers" from Infection are basically colonies of maggots nesting within corpses of their victims, multiplying in such numbers that they burst out whenever the corpse opens its mouth. The problem only gets worse when they start growing in size as well.
  • Naraku from Inuyasha is composed of a giant, writhing mass of youkai, most of which are a mixture of snakelike, bug-like, and slimy in nature.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • In King of Thorn, the Medusa manifestation of Peter Stevens's psyche takes on this form.
  • Naruto:
    • Shino Aburame and the rest of the Aburame clan are not made of bugs, but house swarms of energy-draining beetles in their bodies since shortly after their birth, perhaps even more disturbing than simply being composed of the insects — in short, they are basically human hives. A "Bug Clone" technique also exists, in which the user creates a clone of himself out of those beetles, truer to this trope.
    • Orochimaru's true true form (yeah, he seems to have a lot of those) is that he's made of snakes, while being a giant snake himself. What do the snakes look like? Well, they certainly don't do anything to take away his reputation as a creepy boy watcher. Even before that was revealed, it was evident he was made of snakes when he got cut in half and had them spring out of his halves to pull them together.
    • Tsunade's Summon, Katsuyu the Slug, can dissolve into many smaller slugs, each of which talks and behaves like the original.
  • In Tales of Wedding Rings, the party encounters a Giant Spider which is really a colony of countless tiny, silverfish-like monsters that have joined together to form a single entity. Cutting off its limbs is nearly pointless, since the severed appendages will break apart into their component critters and swarm back into the main body, letting it regenerate.
  • Tommyrod from Toriko gives off this vibe but is actually an aversion, as he is not literally made of insects. He just stores eggs in his esophagus and vomits the newly hatched bugs at the enemy. This is somehow even more disturbing than the alternative.
  • Zazie the Beast from Trigun. In a metaphysical sense, yes, Zazie is "the worm who walks", but both of its bodies are perfectly normal humans. Zazie's mind is made of insects — it's the current interactive hub for a Hive Mind of the native Sand Worms.
  • The☆Ultraman: Zamiba's default form is a mass of cave-dwelling critters which attack via Zerg Rush on victims. However, when push comes to shove, they will merge together into a massive Kaiju, which they do at the end of the episode to battle Ultraman Joneus.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • The Birds of Prey foe Entity was a nanobot swarm that consumed an industrial spy and maintained his basic humanoid shape.
  • Bone: The Hooded One turns out to be a woman who was cut in half then had her body put put back and held together by the Lord of the Locust's insects.
  • In Countdown: Arena, there's an Alternate Universe version of Blue Beetle called the Scarab, who is a vaguely humanoid mass of blue scarabs. It eats its opponents, sometimes from the inside. Oddly for such a Nightmare Fuel creature, it's supposed to come from the Funny Animal world of Earth-26.
  • Daniel X: Alien Hunter: Played straight with Number 7, a human-alien being made up of a colony of ants. Not only was he partially responsible for the deaths of reality warper hero, Daniel X's, family, he also is the grandmaster of an interplanetary game where alien hunters kill innocent aliens for sport, resulting in the extinction of a peaceful, furry species whose culture is based on color. The utter subversion comes from Kilgore, who happens to be Number 7's "son". Much to his "father's" chagrin, Kilgore is a sweet, loving, trusting, and very geeky alien who becomes fast friends with Daniel X. When he "dies" by being reabsorbed back into his father, this unleashes Daniel X's berserk button, and he kills Number 7 by releasing a potion that disrupts the pheremone bonds the ants use to communicate in his body.
  • Clone Wars Adventures: Kit Fisto comes across one such organism in Fierce Currents. The Moappa seem like harmless little critters living on the Mon Calamari seabed at first, but can combine into a being capable of matching wits with a Jedi master. The best Fisto can do is disperse them with the Force for a few hours, while advising the Calamari to start getting along with both the Quarren and the Moappa.
  • This was the first enemy of Vicki Montesi and the rest of the Darkhold: Pages from the Book of Sins.
  • The first storyline of the Marvel comic spinoff series Force Works had the alien Scatter as the enemy. The Scatter resemble armored humanoids, but as US Agent discovers, they're actually a swarm of sapient insects controlling the armor. It gets worse when he describes how he found this out, he was watching the Scatter climb out of the armor and eat the nearby civilians alive!
  • Shinomura from the Godzilla (2014) tie-in comic Godzilla: Awakening, consists of a mass of much smaller, single-celled organisms.
  • In The Goon, chugheads are small Undead Child-type monsters who can combine together into huge amorphous horrors. This is key to the resurrection of Labrazio, one of the villains, who appears more-or-less human but whose dead soul has actually been transferred into a pile of chugheads.
  • In one of his earlier adventures, John Constantine, Hellblazer fights the hunger demon, Mnemoth, who manifests as a swarm of flies forming the shape of a giant fly. A similar creature, shaped like a man, appeared in The Movie, but was not identified by name.
  • Murder in Hoax Hunters is something like this. He was an astronaut whose consciousness was split among a murder of crows when he died; the crows now share a hive mind and inhabit a space suit.
  • Immortal Iron Fist: The character "The Bride of Nine Spiders", who, when she lifts up her stripperiffic outfit, reveals a mass of rotted, webbed flesh swarming with spiders that she can use to Zerg Rush her enemies. She's an unusual Dark Is Not Evil example of this, as she's a neutral-to-good Perky Goth. Still not somebody to upset, though.
  • In The Savage Dragon comic, one of the supervillains is Horde, a body possessed by worms. It's later revealed that this is the wizard Fon~Ti (who granted Mighty Man his powers) who was taken over by one of Mighty Man's enemies, the Wicked Worm.
  • She-Hulk also fought a similar villain, Cockroaches!
  • Spider-Man:
    • The one-shot villain The Thousand was an entitled school bully who discovered Spider-Man's true identity and tracked down and ate the corpse of the spider that gave Spider-Man his powers to try to gain the same powers, but ended up becoming a swarm of spider in a suit of skin. He wanted to devour Spider-Man and wear his skin to get his powers because he was convinced he deserved them more.
    • So was Ms. Arrow, "The Other".
    • And The Swarm, a Nazi scientist made of bees. Marvel loves their worms that walk.
      • Averted with Swarm's counterpart from an unnumbered Noir Earth, Madame Swarm, who is a mutated bee-woman who can telepathically command other bees, although she does like to surround herself in a bee swarm molded to form a larger body.
      • In a 2020 storyline in Ant-Man, Swarm gained three rivals, created by a mutated insect named Macrothrax, who forced Swarm to rebuild the device that originally turned him into a sapient bee-swarm to grant the power to assume humanoid form to three Hive Minded insect swarms it had created. Thus was born Vespa ("The Specter of Hornets"), Thread ("The Silkworm Ghoul") and Tusk ("The Rhino Beetle Hulk"). In what Ant-Man notes is incredible irony, these three entities look down on Swarm and regard him as impure, due to his consciousness being a transplanted human mind, rather than one crafted "organically" from the swarm itself.
    • Spider-Gwen plays with this, as while she definitely isn't this, her symbiote presenting itself as a colony of spiders whenever she changes in-and-out of costumes makes people who meet her assume this to be the case until she explains.
    • On Earth-11580, the local Spider-Man is named Spiders-Man, resulting from Peter Parker falling into a huge colony of radioactive spiders instead of being bitten by just one; he was seemingly devoured by them, but actually his consciousness (or possibly just his memories — it thinks the former, most people who talk to it suspect the latter) was assimilated by them and they became a Hive Mind continuation of him. It frequently talks about eating people ...And That Would Be Wrong.
  • The Shredder was killed in the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Mirage). Every subsequent appearance is actually a colony of worms that were scientifically and magically conditioned to take on the mind and physical form of whoever they ate.
  • The Purple Ants in Jon Lewis's True Swamp kill a man and use his skeleton as a framework to become one of these.
  • Vampirella: A recurring trend in the Dynamite series:
    • The giant worm god Yad-Ath Yermellus manifested itself as a swarm composed of thousands of worms during a Battle in the Center of the Mind.
    • The resurrected Von Kreist appears as a giant made of human skeletons in another mind sequence.
    • The demon Botis appears before a Vatican strike team in the physical world made up of hundreds of dead rats.
  • The second X-Force once met a "spectre of death" who looked like a giant monster made up of worms and maggots, with some skulls and bones thrown in as well.
  • Zombo: Zombo at one point has to go up against "ZomBee", who is a giant mass of flesh-eating bees in the shape of a zombie.

    Fan Works 
  • Dćmorphing: Kelbrid are hive-minds of thousands of bioluminescent worms.
  • Sharing the Nation: Fluttershy post-ascension straddles the line between this, magical possession, and a form of Animorphism. Most of the time, she retains her regular pre-ascension body, but she also mentally inhabits all animals within a considerable range of herself and can burst apart into a swarm of smaller critters when injured or pressed, which can afterwards reassemble into her usual body.

    Films — Animation 
  • A heroic variation in Batman Ninja, first with a bunch of monkeys in golden armor making a giant monkey to face off a mech, and then that fuses with a large legion of bats to form a giant Batman (with said monkeys forming the belt). Because why not?
  • In Coraline, the Other Bobinsky in his second appearance consists of nothing more than rats that have infested his old clothing.
  • One of the pink elephants from the "Pink Elephants on Parade" sequence in Dumbo is made up of multiple elephant heads piled up to form limbs and a torso, with three heads on top.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie Boogie, the only inhabitant of Halloweentown who, though comedic, is outright evil instead of just playfully scary, is made of sackcloth sewn together over thousands of insects, spiders, scorpions, and a snake.
    Oogie Boogie: My bugs! My bugs! My bugs...
  • In The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, a bunch of mice get inside a Hazmat Suit and walk around posing as a human.
  • In Princess Mononoke, a demon in the beginning appears as a giant, moving mass of worms. You don't want to touch it. Technically, all demons are forest gods corrupted and covered with the snake/worm things. May still apply though, since the things almost seem to compose the body of the demons.
  • In Ralph Breaks the Internet, the Ralph clones created by Arthur join up to become one giant Ralph which performs a "King Kong" Climb.
  • In The Amazing Maurice, the Boss Man in charge of the ratcatchers is actually a swarm of rats in a coat and hat, controlled by the Rat King. This being Discworld, this is sometimes terrifying, sometimes hilarious (they aren't very coordinated) and sometimes both at once.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Syfy film The Bone Snatcher has a swarm of demonic ants that achieve a rudimentary humanoid form using the bones of people they've eaten.
  • Candyman: When the Candyman opens his coat, he's revealed to be little more than a skeleton wreathed in the many thousands of bees that killed him.
    • In Candyman (2021), this becomes a thematic point. There's a mild Adaptational Backstory Change for Candyman, making him no longer a single ghost but a composite of several ghosts of black men who fell victim to white racist violence and especially Police Brutality, which the swarming bees now represent.
      "Candyman ain't a he. Candyman's the whole damn hive."
  • In Constantine (2005), the title character is attacked by a demon made entirely out of various bugs (and at least one crab). Even its face, with nose and mouth and eyes. In a bit of hilarity, it's killed by being run over and splattered all over a car. Let's hope that driver has good wind-shield wipers.
  • Critters 2: The Main Course has the ever-hungry alien pests gang up into a huge mouth-covered ball that rolls over a victim and leaves a stripped skeleton behind.
  • Chitti from Endhiran starts out as your standard Terminator robot with Matrix effects, then he makes magnetized copies and becomes a macro-nanobot snake made of guys, taking the forms of a sphere, a cobra, and a giant, among others.
  • The Ra'azac in the movie version of Eragon are composed of a variety of vermin and one eyeball.
  • In Fright Night Part 2, the undead... thing... Bozworth spends most of the film catching, identifying and then ingesting insects. When finally killed, he bursts open to reveal he's pretty much skin, skeleton, and lots of squirming little bugs.
  • Destroyah from Godzilla vs. Destoroyah is a truly massive example, although as its component creatures are microbes, it appears solid to the naked eye.
  • Inverted in The Human Centipede. There, you have a large borderline insectoid made up of three humans.
  • A character in the film Prince of Darkness delivers an unpleasant message to the protagonists before falling apart and collapsing into a heap of large black beetles.
  • In Rats: Night of Terror, Taurus gets infested with rats and becomes an example of this trope as a method the rats use to trick the gang.
  • Reedman from Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen actually transforms from thousands of tiny sphere-like Decepticons (described by as "Bakugan balls") puked up by Ravage.

  • Animorphs:
    • The Nesk are ants that form themselves into larger bodies, as per this trope. Given that the same book includes a Historical In-Joke about broccoli being introduced from an alien world, it's entirely possible that normal ants on planet Earth are the descendants of the alien Nesk. This is, in fact, Word of God. Kinda puts the fact that ants were the morph that terrified the protagonists more than any others in a new light, eh?
    • Also the Valeek in the first Megamorphs book was a tornado made out of alien bugs.
  • Sort of in The Book of Lost Things. When the Crooked Man tears himself apart, bugs and worms fall out.
  • Carnival in a Fix: Late in the book, when the gang are faced with Rustlers in the old maintenance tunnels all under the park, Mr. O'Hare tries to intimidate them with a loud roar. It doesn't work, and in response, they come together to form an identical copy of him (made up of Rustlers) and roar right back. When the group turns tail and runs, they try to follow, but have to form their body into a snake to fit through the exit that they took.
  • The Vermiform in Steph Swainston's Castle Circle series is one of these.
  • In Neil Gaiman's Coraline, Mr. Bobo is a trainer of mice. In the Other Mother's world, The Other Bobo is a being made of rats. In The Film of the Book, the Other Bobinsky (as he has been renamed) ends up turning into this as Glamour Failure sets in:
    Coraline: You're just a copy she made of the real Mr. B.
    The Other Bobinsky: Not even that, anymore.
  • Discworld:
  • In Doc Sidhe, Duncan Blackletter's construct Adonis turns out to be composed (and animated) by a bunch of worms over an oversized humanoid skeleton.
  • Dream Park: In The Barsoom Project, the sins of humanity make an appearance in the Fimbulwinter Game as a swarm of monstrous insect-like vermin, which assemble themselves into four giant humanoid figures to put Humanity on Trial.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Skin Game we see Tessa can assume this form, and she uses it to great effect in one of the most horrific scenes in the series.
    • Side Jobs: In the short story Restoration of Hope, a troll is sliced open to reveal hundreds of smaller trolls inside a troll-suit.
    • Cold Days has the "rawhead". It is a huge beast made out of the discarded bones and flesh of slaughtered cattle and such, with no skin. The detailed descriptions are... horrific, although in this case it does seem to be a single sentient being rather than a hive mind, as the individual pieces are definitly not alive on their own..
  • The needle monsters (and people) in Eden Green.
  • The Stormlight Archive has Dysian Aimian, most heavily feature in Edgedancer and Dawnshard. They are creatures composed of hundreds, if not thousands of tiny crustaceans which the Hive Mind breeds to fulfill a specific purpose, like storing memories or seeing. They can function individually, even at great distances, and the Bizarre Alien Biology of the planet means that "cremlings" (a generic term for small crusacteans) are all over the place, meaning they can spy on virtually anyone at any time. They can even make up a basic human shape, although most of them are quite bad at it, with only a few actually being able to pass as humans up close, and even those tend to struggle to act like humans.
  • The Felix Castor series features loup-garous, human ghosts that manage to force their way into animal bodies and reshape them into human flesh. The first novel has Felix facing down a crime boss's pet were; when he manages to exorcise the ghost steering the body, it collapses into a swarm of rats. Even Felix is freaked out.
  • One of the heroes of the grail in Eric Nylund's A Game of Universe is a colony of insects which walks around in humanoid form, relatively.
  • The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: The priest of the God of the Lost is composed of innumerable wasps endlessly crawling over a yellowing, decayed human skeleton. The God of the Lost itself is also one of these, taking the form of a black bear whose innards are mostly comprised of wasps.
  • The Villain Protagonist team in The Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell has repeated dealings with worm monsters that infest and consume anyone they come in contact with, and take humanoid forms to attack when they aren't a raw swarm. Eventually it's revealed that when Morthul took over his kingdom, he turned the old king into this out of spite. The worms have been multiplying for centuries, underground and unnoticed, and they still hate Morthul for what he did to them.
  • In The Green Brain by Frank Herbert, humanity has reduced nature to just a few zones in the Brazilian rainforest. Nature fights back by evolving a race of bugs that can, in large quantities, imitate human beings. The story opens with one such Worm That Walks managing to con its way past the border guards so that it can enter and attempt to infest a clean zone.
  • He Who Fights With Monsters: Colin is a swarm of blood-sucking leeches that Jason can summon. "His" upgraded Bronze-rank form is much different than his previous Iron-rank form. Instead of a rolling pile of leeches, he shapes himself into a roughly humanoid shape, complete with a "cloak" of bloody rags.
  • Inside Straight, the latest novel in the Wild Cards series, features a rare heroic version of this trope, one Jonathan Hive. He appears utterly human until he disperses into a cloud of bright green wasplike motes; he can also detach as few as one at a time, and even tends to have a few wandering about misplaced.
  • Inverted in Clive Barker's In the Hills, the Cities, in which tremendous walking figures are constructed out of people. To put this in perspective, the constructed being's "teeth" are made from children's shaved heads.
  • The "throng-bear", an unintelligent variant from Iron Council.
  • Vaashka and their regressed cousins Tathas in Jewels Of The Dragon.
  • Kingdoms of Light by Alan Dean Foster features Khaxan Munderucu, an incredibly powerful giant evil spellcaster. He's really twenty-two goblin mages in a giant Totem Pole Trench, all combining their magic.
  • The assassin at the end of Iain M Banks Look to Windward is a swarm of nanotech bugs.
  • H. P. Lovecraft:
    • One common interpretation of the ending of The Festival, though it could just as easily refer to a maggot-infested corpse, or a single huge worm.
      Wisely did Ibn Schacabac say, that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth's pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.
    • In The Dunwich Horror, the invisible monster, while made visible for enough time to make a hapless witness go mad with fear, is made up entirely from either worms, or, as the character puts it, "squirmin' ropes" or "sep'rit wrigglin' ropes pushed clost together", all of slime or jelly.
  • An assassination attempt in Mordant's Need by Stephen Donaldson features human skins full-to-bursting with cockroach-like insects that puppet the skins and then break out of their husks in order to devour their new victims.
  • In The Mote in God's Eye, a bunch of "Watchmaker" Moties packed inside a spacesuit manage to briefly pass for human, with the help of a severed head.
  • In The Nekropolis Archives, Molog, the Demon Lord of Insects, has a body made out of millions of insects. The Watchers also tend to manifest in the form of insects, and gather together swarms of these component insects when they wish to assume larger forms.
  • Ygramul the Many of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, is a gestalt collective of toxic flying blue beetle-like insects that clump together in whatever arrangement suits their purpose best, from a giant spider-thing to a massive disembodied hand. Her deadly poison grants the dying victim the ability to teleport.
  • The Occupation Saga: The Roaches get their nickname from their insectile exoskeletons, which are really just machines they use to move about. They're actually colonies of amoeba-like organisms.
  • The Outsider (2018): the titular Outsider is strongly implied to be this. Mysterious red 'worms' come out of its head after Holly bludgeons him.
  • The flying nanobot swarms in the Michael Crichton novel Prey act like a computerized version of these — they even eat carrion, as per standard maggot behavior. As their intelligence develops through the course of the book, they learn to mimic human shapes, colors, and eventually speech. Turns into full body horror, when the main character discovers that the swarm has enveloped and taken over his wife. However, using an electro-magnet, the swarm dispels from the body, revealing his real wife (now a shriveled skeleton) who is still alive. She is able to relay her last words before the device breaks and the nanobots overtake her body again.
  • Railhead has the Hive Monks, small cockroach-like insects that gather into swarms around a human-shaped framework and don a robe and mask to conceal this. They're generally benevolent, just a bit creepy.
  • The Ravnica Cycle of Magic: The Gathering novels feature the Lupul, a shapeshifter. Its true form is a writhing mass of worms that devours people in order to steal their forms.
  • Florian Honeywell is a rare, openly heroic example, in Of Blood And Honey. He is a walking, talking beehive with honey for blood and honeycombed flesh. Fortunately for him, he at least appears normal on the surface. He's decided to use his ability to control the bees who live in him to fight crime, and is on his way to be a Kid Hero.
  • In The Talismans of Shannara, Walker Boh is attacked by The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (well, actually monsters who have taken the form of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse). While Famine, War and Death are humanoids, Pestilence is just a swarm of infection-spreading insects moving about in a vaguely humanoid shape.
  • Played straight in Dean Koontz's Seize the Night, by the things that came back through the egg room in Hodgson's suit. They may have come from an Alternate Universe, or from the future via Time Travel, neither of which is a comforting thought.
  • In the Sequel Series to The Spiderwick Chronicles, a group of dragons have become this over the centuries as their tails have become stuck together by the filth surrounding them. The Hero defeats them by cutting apart the muck binding their tails. Since they've been used to existing as one creature for so long, they become confused after their separation and are easier for the helpful giants to defeat. These dragons were based on the legendary "Rat King" (see the section for Mythology and Religion below), and in homage to this inspiration, the third book in the Sequel Series is called The Wyrm King.
  • Star Carrier:
    • Earth Strike has the nonsentient "shadow swarmers" of Eta Boötis IV, a colony creature that separates itself into thousands of smaller creatures that resemble a cross between a leaf and a sand dollar. The smaller creatures range across hundreds of kilometers in search of food (carbonaceous rock formations), then alert each other with ultrasound when they find some.
    • Center of Gravity introduces the H'rulka, 200-meter Living Gasbags that live in the atmospheres of hydrogen-helium gas giants. They're sapient, and their name for themselves roughly translates as "All of Us".
  • In The Stormlight Archive the Sleepless are examples of this, being composed of a number of small cremlings called Hordelings, tiny bugs that can operate separately from the main entity, and even can be specifically bred to have things like extra eyes for the main consciousness to see things far away from itself. They are almost more or less immortal as individual hordlings are replaced, and killing an them means ensuring that almost the Hordelings are killed at once. Although people (understandably) find them very creepy they aren't villains or evil.
  • A benign example from Swimmy by Leo Lionni featured fish being eaten by a larger fish. They formed their school into the shape of an even bigger fish and chased it off.
  • In Those That Wake, Man in Suit has slimy, wriggling things inside of him; it's unclear as to whether they inhabit him or if they're what he's made of, or if it's all just part of Mike's dream.
  • In The Tractate Middoth by M R James, the ghost is implied to be a human spirit possessing a horde of spiders and shaping a human form out of them and their webs.
  • Un Lun Dun:
    • While not a villain, this contains a passing reference to a man made of bees arguing with a bear.
    • And Skool, who is a bunch of fish inside a wetsuit. He's also a rare heroic version of this.
  • Wild Cards: John Hive is turned into a sapient swarm of wasps by the Mass Super-Empowering Event.
  • Worm: The protagonist invokes this trope using her power to control insects. She surrounds herself with bugs both to make her harder to see and to intimidate people, and makes the insects around her buzz and chirp whenever she talks to complete the illusion of a giant humanoid insect swarm. She also picks up a trick of using decoys, piling masses of insects in a roughly humanoid form that looks exactly like she's pulling the previous trick.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gives us Hive, the Big Bad of Season 3. An ancient human that was abducted by the Kree and engineered to lead their armies, he rebelled against his creators and lead the Inhumans against them. However, he was so evil and terrifying that the Inhumans banded together with regular humans to banish him to a faraway planet, with HYDRA being formed as a Death Cult to bring him back. It's not entirely clear exactly what he is even at the end of the season, but as it goes on Simmons speculates that he's actually a swarm of many tiny parasites purposed to perform a variety of different tasks, such as reanimating dead bodies to serve as hosts, devouring proteins from living humans, and enslaving other Inhumans by drawing them into his Hive Mind. We see a brief glimpse of him as a worm-like creature when he exits Will Daniels' body to inhabit Grant Ward, but later information suggests that this form is also composed of many small parasites that collectively house his consciousness.
  • Andromeda: A guest turned out to be composed of nanobots.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Norman Pfister from the Season Two episodes "What's My Line, Part One" and "What's My Line, Part Two." He's a group of maggots that can appear like a man (but not for very long, as he starts to go all Uncanny Valley). Xander and Cordelia manage to kill him by covering the floor in front of a door with glue. He turned into maggots to get through the door, got stuck in the glue, and was promptly stomped to death.
    • The Swell's combined form in the Season Eight issue "Swell" (made up of all the individual Vampy Cat Play Friends).
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Vashta Nerada, who are normally a mass of tiny things that live in the shadows and devour meat. If they get inside a person's sealed spacesuit, though, the person will be devoured to the bone, and the Vashta Nerada will animate the spacesuit.
    • Davros' servant Colony Sarff is a collection of snakes coiled around each other to form the shape of a man. While there is one snake much larger than the others that forms the core, they are apparently a "democracy", and will occasionally have the individual snakes take a vote on their next move.
  • Extraterrestrial (2005): Hysterias are normally microscopic aquatic creatures, but when food grows scarce gather in large swarms that act and move like singular beings.
  • Farscape: One episode has a colony of horrible spider-like things that can do this and impersonates one of the regular cast.
  • Lexx: In the third movie, Eating Patterns, the crew of the Lexx stumbles onto an isolated colony of scavengers who are infested with wormlike parasites. The Queen Worm, which is roughly the size of a Sea Monster, creates fake people to act as its eyes and ears on the rest of the colony.
  • Power Rangers has done this to spice up the Monster of the Week.
    • In Power Rangers in Space, thousands of all-devouring monster termites could come together to make a monster, who was pretty hard to damage because hitting him just knocked loose a few of the pests.
    • Also, Craterites — holo-Mooks used in training simulations — came to life and terrorized town (and it wasn't the usual villains' doing.) Eventually, they came together to make a humanoid mishmosh of themselves that was Humongous Mecha scale.
  • Pushing Daisies: The season two premiere has a woman who claims she was killed by a man made of bees, which causes Chuck to ruminate on the possibilities of teaching her bees to form a human shape.
  • Reaper had an episode with a woman made of bugs.
  • A few Ultra Series Monsters of the Week, usually of the bloodsucking parasite variety for some reason.
    • Arindo from Ultraman Taro starts off as a swarm of giant termites, who can chew through metal and concrete, until they're driven off by pesticide fired by the ZAT. The termites responds by merging themselves into a building-sized kaiju that goes on a rampage through the city.
    • The Okorin Balls from Ultraman 80 are a species of bloodsucking ball-like aliens that invade Earth and attack humans. They are lead by a single giant member of their kind who commands the rest to merge with it, becoming a giant bipedal mass to battle Ultraman 80 and UGM.
    • Magnia from Ultraman Tiga are alien parasites spawned from a sentient meteor to find it food. When the space rock is endangered by GUTS' assault, the Magnia merge into a kaiju form, only to get their butts whooped by Tiga.
    • Maricula from Ultraman Dyna are mutated lake algae that merge themselves into a singular form after consuming enough blood.
    • The Dobishi from Ultraman Gaia, a swarm of alien insects that herald the arrival of Zogu, come in numbers so vast that they can create multiple Worms That Walnown as Kaiser Dobishi to overwhelm Gaia and Agul.
    • Chaos Bug from Ultraman Cosmos is a swarm of fireflies corrupted by Chaos Header into ravenous monsters that eventually join themselves with a pile of scrapped electronics into a kaiju form and battle Cosmos.
    • Peginera from Ultraseven X is a parasitic space organism made from thousands of tiny individuals answering to a Hive Mind. It took over the pharmaceutical company Nano Cybertech and sold each of its individual cells as a drug that enhanced human brain processing, in exchange for becoming Peginera's slaves.
  • One scene in the Walt Disney Presents episode "Mars and Beyond" shows a pursuing alien transforming from a swarm of insects back into his true form while chasing a secretary.
  • Super Sentai:
    • Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger Big Bad Genis is ultimately revealed to be a mass accumulation of Moebas, regarded as the lowest life form in the universe. His destruction of entire planets for the Blood Games is due to his self-loathing and desire to prove his superiority to other organisms.
    • Mashin Sentai Kiramager: The Big Bad Yodon is a mass of snakes clumped together into the rough shape of a person.

  • The Music Video for "The Beeching Report" by iLiKETRAiNS features a colony of insects taking on human form and battling Dr. Beeching himself. The trope is then subverted in that Beeching is unafraid of the colony (which represents railway workers laid off because of the Beeching axe) and simply crushes the insects.
  • The music video for Rammstein's Links 2-3-4 has a horde of giant insects coming to destroy some ants. The ants then eat the giant insects, and then dance on their corpses.
  • The music video for Squirrel Nut Zippers' "The Ghost of Stephen Foster" (styled like an old Fleischer Studios animation) shows a giant rat doorman at the Hotel Paradise who is comprised of a group of much smaller rats who wield pitchforks.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Downplayed example: Azhi Dahaka, a three-headed dragon associated with the Zoroastrian apocalypse, has scorpions instead of blood.

  • In The Hidden Almanac, there's a running joke that the host Reverend Mord may be an example. He's never seen except in a full-body-covering Plague Doctor outfit, and his colleague Pastor Drom believes he's actually a swarm of beetles in a suit (but she's The Ditz, so that in itself doesn't necessarily prove anything). He's eventually revealed to be a miraculously animated plant attended by a swarm of beetles in a plague doctor outfit.
  • The Magnus Archives features both worm and spider versions of this in multiple episodes, most prominently Arc Villain Jane Prentiss, a normal girl who was taken over by an extradimensional worm swarm known as the Flesh Hive.
  • In Welcome to Night Vale episode 29, it's implied that the deer-masked subway representatives are this.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu: The name first appeared in the Shadows of Yog-Sothoth adventure "The Worm That Walks" as the name of a monster that was not made out of worms. An example called "the Crawling One" appeared in the original Chaosium version, in the Shadows of Yog-Sothoth adventure "The Watchers of Easter Island". It was based on a creature that appeared in the Lovecraft story "The Festival":
    [H]appy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For…the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth’s pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.
  • Carcosa: Weird Science-Fantasy Horror Setting. The Unquiet Worms monster is a horrid collection of worms that takes a vaguely humanoid shape and walks like a man. They're created when a Sorcerer dies and the worms that eat his brain gain his knowledge.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • The worm that walks, introduced in the 3rd Edition Epic Level Handbook and recurrent in the game since then, is a dead spellcaster that has become the Hive Mind for an army of worms, gaining insect-related powers and a great deal of additional resilience. Usually it's the evil ones that choose this method of life after death. Players can actually turn themselves into a Worm That Walks, although it carries a chance of failing and just leaving them as a rotting corpse. Later editions rename them larva mages, but keep the lore more or less the same.
    • The Elder Evils sourcebook features a unique Worm That Walks, a really big one: Kyuss, a would-be god that turned into something far, far worse and became the progenitor of a tremendous variety of worm-themed monsters, and serves as the Big Bad of an extensive adventure path titled Age of Worms.
    • The 3rd Edition Monster Manual 2 describes the Leechwalker, a bloated bipedal monster made of millions of leeches that have formed a hive mind, and which can drain a person of all their blood in seconds.
    • 4E introduces a number of monsters related to larva mages. Larva assassins are formed when the soul of a Psycho for Hire is given form through a swarm of hornets and centipedes. Larva snipers were Cold Snipers (or at least sadistic marksmen) in life, now an undead composed of wasps. Larva war masters were General Rippers, Blood Knights and similar depraved, insane warriors in life, their souls called back and thrust into undeath as the Hive Mind of a swarm of carnivorous beetles.
    • The lamia from 4th Edition is an evil fey creature which is a seething swarm of scarab beetles wrapped around the flesh-stripped bones of a powerful fey creature. Many lamias take the form of eladrin that they've hollowed out this way.
    • The great-granddaddy of all these D&D worms that walk is the cifal, a rather forgettable colonial-insect monster from the 1E Fiend Folio. ("Cifal" is actually an acronym that stands for "Colonial Insect-Formed Artificial Life".) Whom they just dumped into the recent version of Gamma World, along with all the other effed-up ''D&D'' monsters
    • A rare Good-aligned version appears in, of all places, the Eldritch Abomination-filled Lords of Madness 3.5 sourcebook, with the silthilar — sapient swarms with just a touch of the Mad Scientist when they fuse into their solid form.
    • Ravenloft has maggot golems. While disgusting, these golems have a clever design. The living maggots that make up the golem's body continually grow into flies (which swarm around the golem, constantly) and so long as the maggots and flies can feed on rotted meat (usually provided by creatures it kills) the flies lay eggs on the golem, which hatch more maggots, creating a continual cycle that give the golem a powerful regenerative ability.
    • Yet another version from 3.5, in the Exemplars of Evil book (for designing villains) is the former archmage of the Tolstoff family who researched the deceased god the Worm That Walks, learned evil spells, acquired foul magic items, and made pacts with dark entities. Eventually the deity noticed him and "rewarded" him with its filthy blessing, an attack of ravenous worms and maggots that ate his physical body but which absorbed his soul. Sealed in a vault within the catacombs beneath the mansion by his horrified daughter, he then proceeds to whisper and corrupt his grandchildren into evil servants who will stop at nothing to free him from his tomb. (He would later appear as The Dragon in the scenario for Kyuss (see above) in Elder Evils.)
    • The 5E version of this creature is the Star Spawn Larva Mage from Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. This version turns into a swarm of worms upon being reduced to 0hp. Unless this subsequent swarm is also killed, the mage will return to life in 24 hours.
    • The Tsochari are a race of Puppeteer Parasite aberrations that begin life as unintelligent worm-like strands that fuse together with each other form an intelligent colony. A tsochar can live forever even though the strands that compose them have a finite lifespan as long as they regularly fuse with new strands.
    • Forgotten Realms: Kezef the Chaos Hound is a legendary Hellhound in the form of a writhing mass of maggots clinging to a canine skeleton.
    • 5th edition sourcebook Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft has the wererat Darklord, Jacqueline Renier, from Richemulot using the state guard called the Casques Silencieux. The Casques Silencieux aren't human at all, in fact they're swarms of rats that are housed in suits of armor which they animate. Jacqueline has the ability to telepathically communicate and influence these rats, making them the perfect loyal enforcers.
    • The third-Party publisher Dreamscarred Press has released a sourcebook called Phrenic Scourges, who embody this trope. They're a hive-mind of worms that will be happy to convert you into fawning slave, or the next generation of worms, or both.
  • Earthdawn 1st edition lists a creature called Wormskull that is just that — a humanoid creature with a mass of worms as its head (a wormskull's body can look different, however, and is usually heavily armoured).
  • Eclipse Phase: One of the many Synth bodies resembles a swarm of robotic bees. They can move as a regular swarm, or combine into a roughly human-shaped mass. They're also fully playable, and far more affordable than those based around Organic Technology.
  • Exalted:
    • Wyld mutants with the "Hive" abomination. One rank in "hive" and they have a beehive or snake nest or similar somewhere on their bodies. Two ranks in "Hive" and the nest expands to include the rest of them, turning them into a hollow skin moved about by swarming creatures — whether the original being is still alive at this point is a highly dubious matter.
    • Scarab guardians, minor deities who serve as guardians of places that gods or powerful Exalts want never to be disturbed, manifest as swarms of black beetles that share a single mind. These beetles can come together to form a humanoid body, which the scarab guardian usually does when it needs to threaten people or warn them away from its charge.
    • Mursilis, one of the souls of the Yozi Oramus, is an odd example. Rather than being a hive-minded mass of bugs in the shape of a person, it's a hive-minded mass of bugs in the shape of a forest.
  • Gamma World: One of the possible character origins. Depending on your primary origin and your secondary origin, you could be anything from a swarm of cockroaches to a mass of nanomachines to a horde of sapient, hive-minded kittens.
  • Godforsaken:
    • Worms that walk, described in the setting-neutral worldbuilding section, are masses of psionic grubs squirming through a slush of salty ooze. Individually the grubs are harmless vermin, but together they're a sapient entity, a single psionic mind formed of thousands of tiny, maggot-like pupae.
    • The spiders of the Comerelk jungle are moved by a single Hive Mind. At need, this mind can gather up a few thousand bodies and arrange them into a single mass in the form of a colossal spider.
  • Grimm has this in the form of Rapunzel. Yes, that Rapunzel. Only this time around, her prince passed away, her children grew and she had nothing to do but return to the tower where she lived out the rest of her days. The tower, though, had developed intelligence and gotten lonely in her long absence and took measures to keep her there even after she died. Namely, having her corpse infested with a swarm of spiders that will kill and eat any who climb her hair to the tower. Keep in mind that the rules of the game are built specifically around children and boys are particularly drawn to the silky locks that still hang out the window. She's also one of the sample NPCs that made the transition when the game was converted to its own rules system.
  • Little Fears: Worms are monsters that gather into groups and mimic the forms of children. The problem is that they can't mimic eyes, so they have to actually kill children and steal their eyes to pull it off convincingly.
  • Magic: The Gathering: The Planeswalker Grist, the Hunger Tide. Technically, she's just a single insect with the power to control others of her kind (this is symbolized by her being considered a small Insect-type creature when she's anywhere but in play.) However, when she invokes her powers, she forms herself a humanoid body composed of multiple vermin all working together.
  • Mutants & Masterminds: Freedom City features a villain called The Collective, which follows this trope. As every other character in that entire setting, he is a Captain Ersatz of an existing comic book character, probably Marvel's Swarm (see comic section above).
  • Numenera: Naiadans are a species of beings whose bodies are entirely composed of thousands of tiny creatures called dyremmi, all acting together to form a larger individual being. There are also naiadapts, the descendants of humans modified to have colonies of dyremmi living in their bodies and acting as extensions of their beings. Naiadans and naiadapts can alter their bodies and abilities by simply removing some of the dyremmi currently making them up and exchanging them for new ones carrying a desired trait, altering themselves by manipulating the balance of their component creatures. "Wild" dyremmi also exist, some of which are reported to have developed individual intelligence and see the naiadans and naiadapts as horrific conglomerations that must be destroyed to free their "enslaved" dyremmi.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Worms that walk are creatures created when a dead spellcaster's soul takes control of the vermin that fed upon their corpse, shapes them into a serviceably humanoid form and claws their way out of their grave and back to life. Most are composed of earthworms, but specific areas and unusual situations can give rise to worms that walk made up of ants, wasps, cockroaches, locusts, and stranger things — fetal bats are explicitly bought up as a possible component.
    • The Archdevil Baalzebul is a Fallen Angel whose body was stripped away and transformed into a cloud of flies by Asmodeus.
    • The galvo is an aggressive, predatory aberration in the form of a humanoid made of squirming, ever-discharging electric eels.
    • Exaggerated by the ouroboros, a titanic extraplanar being that combines this trope with Droste Image: it's a gigantic snake whose body is made up of smaller snakes. Which are made of even smaller snakes. Which are made of, et cetera, right down to the atomic level.
  • Rifts: The Worm Wraiths in New West are evil Cowboy Worms That Walk. Also invoked by the Horseman Pestilence, which is actually a giant walking skeleton covered in bugs instead of flesh and skin.
  • Scarred Lands: One of the monsters described in Creature Collection II: Dark Menagerie are vermin hosts, former human vagrants who were cursed by one of the evil gods who was angry that they happened to pray to another god other than him to let them live another day in their dismal squalor. From this Disproportionate Retribution he had various vermin (rats, roaches, leeches, spiders) burrow into their skin, giving them Cursed with Awesome powers as they are able to use their new abilities to control their own swarm of vermin, turn into giant anthropomorphic versions of those vermin, and disintegrate into swarms to help escape enemies or commit espionage (which the spider vermin hosts do most of the time). As a side note, they're able to reproduce The Virus style by allowing one of their vermin to infect a person, whose whispers of power and whatnot usually cause them to accept them thereby summoning a larger swarm of that vermin which turns them into new vermin hosts while inheriting some of the memories of the previous ones. This is also squick because, mind you, the vermin are always moving under the host's skin to find more comfortable areas to rest. Remember one of those vermin are large rats!
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse: The Hollow Men, a breed of fomori (humans under the thrall of Demonic Possession). The Hollow Men specifically are humans who were killed and whose bodies were mostly emptied out (hence the name), the insides replaced by a swarm of small animals controlled by the demonic spirit in question. Doesn't have to be insects/arachnids; reptiles and rodents are also popular choices. They're capable of speech and can try to pass themselves off as fully human, but generally, even other fomori find them creepy as hell.
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken: The Azlu are spirit-like creatures that can do something similar. In their case, only one of the spiders is really "them", so they escape by using the weight of numbers — the odds of the real one getting killed are incredibly small. The Beshilu of the same game are similar. They're rats, not bugs, but can hollow out human bodies and control them like the Fomori mentioned above.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Dark Heresy: The Slaugth are an entire race of these. The trope is even mentioned by name.
      "The worm that walks has come for us all" Found carved into a bulkhead, Watchpost Hazeroth/Sentry 17. All hands lost, attacker unknown. 123.M40
    • Death Of Antagonis contains a truly disturbing inversion where a particularly nasty Chaos Daemon manifests itself in the form of a gigantic worm made out of the bodies of every human being on the title planet.
  • Warhammer: Apophas of Numas was a Nehekharan prince who murdered his family and was executed by being sealed into a coffin filled with Neheakaran Scarabs. His body was reduced to his skull, upon which a cursing rune was carved. In the Netherworld, he made a deal with the God of Death. He promised to bring him someone who was his equal to take his place. His soul was given command over the scarabs who ate him alive, and he scours the world for his equal. But, no two souls are truly equal, and he is damned to wander the world forever.

    • Zaktan, who used to be a singular entity and still retains a singular consciousness after becoming this trope. When his old boss tried to vaporize him, he was somehow able to pull himself back together as microscopic "protodites". In this new, permanent state, Zaktan can easily avoid attacks by turning into an insect swarm; change the shape of body parts; heal damage by filling the gaps with Protodites; and engulf a foe in an attack that must feel like getting hit with thousands of needles. Zaktan himself calls it a curse however, as his voice now sounds like a crowd speaking; and whenever he wakes up he can feel his body shifting "where there once were tissue and solid metal".
    • A heroic version shows up in the Legend Reborn movie. Team Pet Click (a beetle) summons and teams up with a swarm of fellow beetles to form a giant warrior that makes the evil army figuratively mess their pants.
  • The Vermillion Army in Ninjago. Unlike the Serpentine, the franchise's other race of Snake People, they're made out of multiple snakes held together within their armor, and as such multiple warriors can combine together to form a larger being.

    Video Games 
  • Anthem (2019) has the Scars; essentially colony-swarms that imitate other forms of life, and they've decided that humanity is the best thing to emulate. They're not especially intelligent by themselves, but they're excellent scavengers and surprisingly good with technology. Swarms that grow old enough and large enough can become Escari — more intelligent, more cunning, and most of all, more ambitious.
  • Kelvin from Battleborn may appear to be a gigantic skeletal ice golem but in reality he's an entire microorganism civilization with a single consciousness.
  • Ananzi, from The Black Heart, is not quite one, but with the ease she produces spiderlings out of nowhere, she comes close.
  • Arakune from BlazBlue fits this trope faithfully. What makes him horrifying is that he used to be human before a hideous accident, and his current form is very much a case of And I Must Scream.
  • One of the 5 bounties in Bug Fables is the False Monarch, a cluster of mothflies disguised as one bug, and it uses said mothflies to attack Team Snakemouth.
  • The monstrous protagonist of Carrion is implied to be this. Severed tentacles slither away when it gets shot, if part of its body is severed by the environment those same severed tentacles slither back to it, and it gets the ability to discorporate into a horde of threadworms in deep water.
  • Throughout Castle Red, there are numerous scenes in which the hero is attacked and knocked out by strange hooded figures. If you avoid the first four endings and make it to the Very Definitely Final Dungeon, these hooded figures will become standard enemies who reveal themselves as this trope when damaged.
  • Castlevania
    • The boss of Stage 2 in Castlevania: Dracula X is a group of bats that come together to form one giant bat. It turns back to them when hit.
    • The boss of the Nostalgia Level in Dawn of Sorrow is Bat Company, a pack of red bats that assumes various forms as one. Dracula himself is often shown moving around as a pack of bats.
    • Also the reoccurring Boss Legion is a giant Sphere of Zombies covering a giant monster. In Symphony of the Night, it periodically sheds zombies that attack independantly.
  • Dandara: Eldar presents himself as a masked man in a suit, but he's really a massive collection of consumeristic thoughts, hence the name of his second boss form: "Them, Eldar: The Relentless Choir".
  • Dark Chronicle (aka Dark Cloud 2) had the Rainbow Butterfly boss that split into different-coloured butterflies the PC had to sneak up on and swat to death.
  • Dark Souls:
    • Gravelord Nito from Dark Souls is this made out of human skeletons.
    • Dark Souls II has a similar creature, The Rotten, except the bodies it's made of aren't skeletons yet.
    • The graveyard outside the Cathedral of the Deep in Dark Souls III is populated not only by lots of undead, but also creatures made out of huge carnivorous maggots they can inflict you with. They come both in free-roaming forms and bursting out of undead enemies' bellies The Thing-style.
  • The Dividers from the Dead Space series are actually a small colony of Necromorphs that bind together into a single, human-like entity. They fall apart once enough damage has been dealt to their combined form, requiring even more ammo to put the pieces down.
  • Scarecrow (arm), Scarecrow (leg) and Mega Scarecrow from Devil May Cry 4 are all basically burlap sacks filled with beetles with blades attached.
  • In Dominions, there is the spell ''Call the Worm that Walks". It is a powerful nature mage who escaped mortality by turning into this.
  • In the Fallen London universe, Sorrow Spiders are already dangerous on their own, what with being the size of cats and having a penchant for tearing people's eyes out. But when enough of them get together, they can form Spider-Councils, which are great, shambling masses of spider-flesh that are significantly smarter and utterly vicious. Small ones can give entire town districts a hell of a lot of trouble. Bigger ones, as seen in Sunless Sea, can get big enough to pose as dreadnought ships, sail them and become terrors of the sea on par with Mount Nomad. But it doesn't end there. In Sunless Skies, you can eventually meet the culmination, a Spider-Senate, which amounts to an Eldritch Abomination made out of billions and billions of spiders. The thing was imprisoned by the Judgements themselves because it was a direct threat to them, but they simply couldn't kill it.
    • Devils are a smaller scale version of this. Though each one acts like an individual human (or human-esque individual) they are actually quite literally bee hives in skin suits. Yes, hives.
  • In the PC Engine CD version of Golden Axe, Death Adder merges together from hundreds of snakes.
  • Halo:
    • The Hunters are composed of hundreds of orange-red worms called Lekgolo. Plated armor protects these worms from conventional weapons and a high-powered energy cannon of doom deals with their foes, though even without all that gear, they were enough of a match for the Covenant's Elites that they had to be orbitally bombarded to be forced to fall in line. Once a Hunter colony grows large enough, it splits into two separate ones that share a bond, becoming Bash Brothers who go out on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge if one of them dies within sight/hearing of the other. Since the individual worms aren't advanced life forms in the same way humans and the other members of the Covenant are, they're also immune to direct infection from the Flood. That said, while an individual Lekgolo is rather dumb, the Hunters themselves are actually quite intelligent. The Hunters are also somewhat unusual in that unlike most examples on this page, they're simply Punch-Clock Villain-Starfish Aliens, who are not especially malicious or sinister beyond being really good at killing you. In fact, when the Covenant breaks, many of the Hunters actually side with the human-friendly Elites.
    • In fact, the Hunters are only one of the many gestalt types that Lekgolo can form. The gigantic Scarabs from Halo 2 onward are partially comprised of a whole bunch of worms as well; the manual for Halo: Reach even implies that they are not so much true vehicles as much as massive suits of Powered Armor for the Lekgolo. Case in point: In the level "The Covenant", one of the two Scarabs that drop from orbit rears up and roars, while in Halo: Reach, one actually roars in pain when it's destroyed by Carter ramming his Pelican into it.
  • Atticus Thorn, the Big Bad of The Haunted Mansion video game.
  • The Guy Made of Bees from the Kingdom of Loathing, which is exactly what it sounds like. When you beat him, he drops a Guy Made of Bee Pollen. You can also pickpocket a handful of them.
  • Jalhalla in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is a giant Poe made up of twenty smaller Poes and a mask that seems to either control or coordinate them.
  • The first boss of the final levels in Mega Man X6 is called the Nightmare Mother, a pair of giant square-shaped masses composed of a large number of Nightmare Viruses.
  • The Pain from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. While not composed of bees, he is able to control bees by having them sting him until the bees think that he is one of them. To make matters worse, he grows, within him, Bullet Bees. These ones fly to your body and gnaw at your flesh slowly. And yes, he grows them within his body, launching them from his mouth. Keeping true to the trope, he can make a life-sized, fully voiced clone of himself, made of — you guessed it — bees. Or they can become a full-sized, working, wood-and-metal Tommy gun (for which the science behind the trick isn't explained until two games later).
    • Organ-replacing Parasites in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain act as the game's Phlebotinum, leading to several characters being this to a greater or lesser degree, including Skull Face, The Skulls, Quiet, and Code Talker. It's even implied that the supernatural powers of the Cobra Unit, including The Pain, are the result of parasite therapy.
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance: The Final Boss, Senator Steven Armstrong, is an Ambiguous Robot that somehow managed to hide his augmented nature from everyone despite being prominent in the public eye complete with presidential campaign, augmented by nanomachines in ways your team find unprecedented... except Doktor. He immediately starts theorizing it as a form of "Claytronics", with Armstrong being neither human nor a cyborg, but a thick morass of advanced nanomachines directed to shape, change appearance and harden at will: A huge, superpowerful heap of Grey Goo pretending to be a human being, or at least feeling the part.
  • The very first boss of Metroid: Other M is a swarm of purple bugs that form a body around a larger bug that makes up the eye.
  • In a more spiritual way, Ermac from Mortal Kombat is this. He is the gathering of souls lost during Outworld's various wars, brought together to serve Shao Khan. As a result, Ermac never uses singular self-referential pronouns such as "I" or "me", instead opting for "us" or "we", in a sense allowing his body to speak on behalf of all the souls that he carries.
    • D'Vorah, introduced in Mortal Kombat X is a more standard sapient insect colony. She takes the form of a woman with buglike features (chitinous skin, compound eyes, etc). Since she's a walking hive, she refers to herself as "This One" instead of using singular pronouns.
  • In the Forbidden Sanctum DLC of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire you're introduced to forgotten Archmage Fyonlecg. After the Watcher bests him in combat (the first time), they remove his mask only to find he has replaced himself with a body double constructed from a writhing mass of worms.
  • The Big Bad of Pathfinder: Kingmaker has one of these as a chief minion. Fighting the Wriggling Man isn't advised: colony creatures, he and all the high-level monsters he'll summon are immune to targeted attacks.
  • One of the Mythic Paths in Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous allows you to become this. It's even called the Swarm-That-Walks.
  • Pokémon:
    • Drifloon and Drifblim in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl are collections of wayward souls fused together into a form resembling a helium balloon and a hot air balloon, respectively. In the same games, there is Spiritomb, composed of 108 malevolent human souls bound to a (non-sentient) rock.
    • Pokémon X and Y:
      • The Legendary Pokémon Zygarde is actually composed of many smaller green creatures known as Zygarde Cells (too small and weak to individually be called Pokémon), as well as other small creatures called Zygarde Cores, which serve as the "brains". The form Zygarde takes is actually determined by how many of the cells it has gathered to itself — the serpent-like form encountered in the games is actually only its "50 Percent" Forme, and it possesses a much stronger Complete Forme resembling a bipedal mecha-esque kaiju.
      • Barbaracle is a humanoid mass of barnacles, although it downplays the trope a bit by being only seven creatures.
    • In Pokémon Sun and Moon:
      • The Water-type Wishiwashi is a small and individually weak fish that, through synchronized schooling with others of its kind, can become an enormous and powerful Sea Monster that is, on closer inspection, still composed of separate fish swimming together.
      • Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon introduces Stakataka (U.B Assembly), an Ultra Beast that resembles a brick building. Each "brick" is a separate life form that comprises the whole creature.
      • Palossand's Ultra Sun Pokédex entry mentions that each of its grains of sand has free will. As if that monstrous thing wasn't gruesome enough...
    • In Pokémon Sword and Shield, Falinks is an inverted version, conceptually speaking. This Pokémon consists of six small Waddling Head creatures that like to arrange themselves in a tight single-file formation and move in perfect synchronization. This results in them looking like a giant caterpillar.
  • Project Remedium have the Fattster enemies, fecal-shaped Giant Mook bacteria monsters. They're already there in the level you face them, but you can actually see regular-sized bacteria spores - dozens of them - merging into becoming an individual Fattster.
  • Rayman Legends has Hades' Hand, which is made of lots of Dark Creatures.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil 5:
      • Excella and at least two men become worm-people for a few moments and then just go straight to being masses of worms.
      • The game was originally planned to have the U-9 enemy, an eighty-foot mass of wriggling worms in a rough humanoid shape.
    • Resident Evil 6:
      • One enemy is made up of pieces of dead flesh that join together to walk towards the player. Once shot, though, pieces start to fall off... but all the pieces just keep on coming for you until they decide to reform and start all over again.
      • Gnezdo is a swarm of bees that assumes the shape of a human to attack. Luring out and killing the queen is the only way to kill it.
    • Resident Evil 0 has enemies Leech Zombies, which are swarms of mutated leeches that cluster together into a vaguely humanoid form and can even take on the shape of their creator.
    • Resident Evil: Outbreak: The Leech Man is a corpse controlled by many leeches (which have been mutated by the T-virus) attached to him.
    • Resident Evil Village: Alcina Dimitrescu's daughters are revealed to be this, as they are large swarms of sapient, carnivourous flies that can appear in a humanoid shape.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police: The Big Bad of Season 1, magician Hugh Bliss, turned out to have been a human-shaped sentient colony of bacteria in disguise.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Beelzebub is a massive fly concocted from a swarm of other flies. And incidentally, one of the best demon summons in the second game.
  • Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment features two friendly NPCs named Manny and Legion, each appearing as a group of little black creatures using a robe and mask to appear humanoid.
  • Stellaris: Each "individual" of a fungal race is actually a colony of fungi that have collectively achieved sapience. Younger colonies tend to be the ones travelling around exploring space, since colonies only grow larger with age.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • The first Luigi's Mansion game has Boolossus, which doubles as an Asteroids Monster. This monstrous ghost absorbs his 14 comrades to begin his battle. The Big Boo in the second game as well, absorbing 9 other ghosts.
    • The Rubber Band in Paper Mario: The Origami King is made from smaller rubber bands. He can use these to attack Paper Mario, but after you strip his smaller rubber band armour off him completely, the Rubber Band is revealed to really be one giant sentient rubber band controlling a bunch of smaller rubber bands to form a humanoid form.
  • Super Meat Boy has the boss of stage 4, Little Horn, made from a mountain of dead Meat Boys.
  • All the enemies from the Subspace in the Subspace Emissary mode for Super Smash Bros. Brawl are constructed of "shadow bugs" extracted from Mr. Game & Watch.
  • According to the Hybrid Organ Research Report of System Shock 2, Hybrids are partially comprised of a mass of worm-like symbiotes, that have taken over motor functions and decision-making functions. This leaves the human brain largely intact and aware.
  • The "Unknown" boss in Vanquish consists of a red core and pieces of robotic junk that assemble into various shapes.
  • Vandyke have a giant boss which turns out to be a horde of worms inhabiting a set of robes. You spend the entire battle fending off worm-like projectiles while attacking the giant, and as soon as it's defeated it then shrivels into a pile of clothing while dozens of gigantic worms remaining slithers away.
  • In Ys: Ancient Ys Vanished ~ Omen and Ys Origin, Vagullion is a demon composed of a swarm of bats.

    Visual Novels 

  • Awful Hospital: Magdolene manifests as an Impossible Hourglass Figure made out of maggots around a humanoid skull, with "hair" of tiny flies. In a variant, she can exist as a skull alone, albeit as a helpless amnesiac, and can reconstitute herself with any external source of maggots. To Fern's quiet dismay, she's also a Cuddle Bug.
  • Champions of Far'aus: Mr.X is a sentient magic crystal controlling a body made up of surglugs, which are slug-like creatures.
  • "N" of Charby the Vampirate turns himself into a swarm of cockroaches so often in his physiological torment of Blaine that Blaine recognizes a mass of the things in his room as the vampire even without seeing them while they are still in his shape.
  • While it isn't entirely clear, one of the Big Bad's lackeys in Dead of Summer may be one of these. He summons a swarm of insects seemingly out of nowhere (the art suggests they either come from around him or inside him) to attack Commander. He's swarmed and bitten so much his movements are slowed, and he screams that they're eating him alive.
  • Vance from Grrl Power claims to be a mass of spiders in human shape, but it's unknown whether he's telling the truth of just messing with Sidney.
  • In Kill Six Billion Demons, the God-Emperor Gog-Agog looks like a humanoid woman, albeit an Uncanny Valley-ish one. Then she takes a shot to the head, revealing the mass of worms that really make up her body.
  • This is one theory behind what exactly Ace of Ruby Quest is.
  • Utchi-Skafatka in Schlock Mercenary is a collective lifeform composed of countless flying insectoids. The protagonists first begin to realize that it is sapient when it copies Sergeant Schlock.
  • Gavotte, the head of the Skin Horse department, is a sPient swarm of bees. She (?) is surprisingly congenial and enjoys having a cup of tea with her employees, but they're often somewhat unnerved by the disembodied voice and the offers of free honey.
    • The storyline "Grillo Parlante" introduces Daisychain, a string of mice which, as the name suggests, are linked in series, and the hedgies, hedgehog-like plant-creatures that can assemble into a giant hedgie as a defence mechanism.
  • Laufian Slinten Pods in Spacetrawler are bunches of snakes who operate as a single entity by wearing an ill-fitting disguise of another alien species. It's implied the disguises are all of a specific member of said species, as seen when "Nogg, a Thelbiunn" meets "Nogathulbium".
  • In a Weregeek strip, during a D&D game, a helpful hermit reveals himself to be a "worm that walks". The player refers to the aformentioned Buffy episodes.

    Web Original 
  • Athyrmagaia has the Athyrmatherians, which, in a strange example of this trope, resemble familiar Earth animals like lions, gazelles and wildebeest: except that the head, thorax, abdomen and rump of each Athyrmatherian is a separate animal of its own, having metamorphosed from four separate sibling larvae that then proceeded to unite at adulthood.
  • The Bloody Urban animated special Human has a swarm of newts masquerading as a human by wearing funny nose glasses and a trench coat.
  • John Dies at the End:
    • A swarm of tiny insect-like aliens able to infest humans and walk around in their skin makes up the first abomination encountered, with the novel's characteristic sense of tact. "Just call me 'Shitload.' Because there’s a shitload of us in here." (A clever Shout-Out to Mark 5:9, we might add.)
    • Later, the narrator's Hyundai gets carjacked by a human-shaped pile of cockroaches.
  • In a non-vermin example, Linkara once fought a monster that was made up of all 52 issues of Countdown to Final Crisis.
  • It's technically "the swarm of frog fetuses that crawls", but Mortasheen's Ovulooge fits here like a glove. For a more traditional example (even though they don't quite look the part) are the Wormbrains. In their case, the creature itself is merely a (Usually formerly human) meat puppet for the billions of parasitic worms living inside of it.
  • New Life SMP: The Swarm origin, held by Gem in her first life, is described as being made up of a group of bees.
  • One article in The Onion is written by a pile of cockroaches pretending to be a human exterminator. The cockroachman attempts to convince people through the article it is writing to let cockroaches everywhere live and run free, but is unable to think of a compelling reason why. It also laments that it knows that After the End, cockroaches will rule the post-apocalyptic wasteland, but doesn't know when that will happen.
  • Orion's Arm has the Mucoid Empire. Living in Cyberspace and alien species of worm that can form hiveminds and superorganisms.
  • Questden's Last Of the Messengers: the power of Reality Warping Speech allows people to transform themselves into millions of tiny bugs, among MANY other things. And yes, they do breed with themselves to create more "cells". The main character becomes a collection of octopi.
  • SCP Foundation:
  • One of the cut final lifeforms of Serina is a descendant of ants that forms these, supported by the bones of their prey (which they seize with Combat Tentacles made from their own bodies) on which the ants themselves work as muscles. Fittingly, they're called shoggoths.note 

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatian Street: In "The Dog House", half of the pups attempt to disguise themselves as a human using a trench coat and fedora hat and a balloon for a head, and they use an app on a smart phone for the voice. They do this to try to protect themselves from getting taken away from pest control. It doesn’t go very well.
  • Action Man (2000): In the season finale, a rogue mass of Trilobugs assembles itself into the form of Alex's friend and rival Brandon, which stands about 100 feet tall. Brandon's consciousness, which had been removed from his body when Dr. X took it over, had implanted itself into one of the Trilobugs and had been taking control of the others.
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Jimmy meets some ridiculously cute aliens who hate good music and love bad music. Whenever they hear good music, they morph into nasty little goblin creatures. If they hear more good music, they fuse together into one huge alien monster.
  • Adventure Time: In "Little Brother", Kent fights the Rat King, who seems to be a giant rat head attached to a body made of rats. Oddly, Kent himself is literally a worm that walks, but doesn't fall under this trope (he just has legs and arms, for some reason).
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the heroes meet a huge swamp monster that consists entirely of vines and a wooden mask. Unusually for this trope, however, there's a guy inside, controlling the vines by bending the water in them. And that guy is a good guy; he's just using the disguise to scare away people who he feels are a threat to the swamp. Later on, when the Day of the Black Sun comes to pass, he comes back to aid the resistance, wearing a similar costume made from seaweed and the same mask.
  • In the first episode of Ben 10 (2016), the villain uses a machine to attract and form a colossus entirely out of maggots to attack Las Vegas.
  • In the Big City Greens episode "Welcome Home", Cricket sees a person on the subway only to find that it's actually several rats bundled together in a hoodie, and is understandably horrified.
    Cricket: Rats! Rats! He's made of rats!
  • Codename: Kids Next Door:
    • The episode, "Operation: C.A.T.S." had a villainous Crazy Cat Lady who surrounded herself with her thousands of cats and basically made a cat-shaped Humongous Mecha out of them.
    • In the episode, "Operation: C.A.K.E.D.-T.H.R.E.E.", an army of chicks form a giant suit of knight's armor to help Numbuh One defeat the Delightful Children from Down the Lane's Giant Birthday Present Robot.
    • The Delightful Reaper's face is made out of skulls that resemble the faces of those that it has assimilated.
  • The Deep: In one episode, the Nekton family encounter a species of octupus that cluster together and use their camouflage ability to mimic larger creatures.
  • Drawn Together: One episode has Vietnamese sweatshop workers assemble into a bipedal robot, anime-transform-sequence style, to attack Spanky Ham.
  • Family Guy: In one episode, an angry mob of wheelchair-users join together to form "Crippletron".
  • Futurama: In "Benderama", Bender assembles microscopic clones of himself into one giant Bender to fight an alien giant.
  • Goof Troop: In one episode, Pete gets turned into a fly and is forced to train with other flies. Pete's family gets him back to change him back, but before they do, the whole swarm of flies comes to the door wearing a trench coat to attempt to steal Pete back.
  • Gravity Falls:
  • Invader Zim: A bunch of baby-like aliens combine into a giant bipedal monster.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Tad Mulholland is a hive-minded colony of water bears that saturate an entire reservoir, can shape a body out of water, and operates and speaks as a single being.
  • The true form of Masters of the Universe villain King Hiss is that of 5 or 6 large snakes in a human shell. All of his toys have a "pop open his torso and see the snakes" gimmick.
  • In Max Steel, the villain Bio Constrictor was made of dozens of snakes after he accidentally got mutated by his own modified genomes, he can use this power to either shapeshift limbs into snakes, create snake mooks to fight for him and even shed his whole skin and hide snakes in them to make getaways.
  • One episode of ˇMucha Lucha! was about Rikochet, Buena Girl, and the Flea confronting a giant spider-themed wrestler named Black Widower, who has been beating several insect-themed wrestlers all over town, and is threatening to do the same to the Flea. At the end of the episode, the Black Widower is defeated, and as a result, his costume comes off to reveal the aforementioned insect wrestlers.
  • A variation (similar to the Gravity Falls gnome example above) occurs in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Unfair Science Fair Redux". The small Martians join into a big version of themselves when Candace decides she doesn't want to be queen of Mars anymore and flees.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998):
    • The girls once fought a bug-themed villain called the Roach Coach, who gathered all Townsville's cockroaches into a single giant warbug. The Roach Coach himself while not exactly a Worm That Walks, is nevertheless a bug in a Mobile-Suit Human.
    • In the Nanobots episode, the bots coalesce into a Monobot. Since the girls were at Nano scale at that moment, it was trouncing them, but it was also big enough that the professor could simply stomp on it, ending the threat.
  • In ReBoot, we have Nulzilla. We also have Enzo and Dot's father, who can regain a bipedal form and his ability to speak by making a sprite-sized body of nulls, with the null that used to be him as the head. Both creatures were made possible through the powers of Hexadecimal.
  • Rick and Morty gives us a rare heroic version in the superhero One Million Ants, who is... one million ants in a humanoid shape. It's later revealed that they somehow managed to impregnate the superheroine Supernova, only for the fetus to die in the womb due to being "half a million ants and half collapsing star".
  • One episode of Samurai Jack sees the titular Samurai and Ashi face off against a creature known only as Lazarus 92, a mass of slimy blue leeches that attack like a single organism.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: The Cicada Creature from "When the Cicada Calls".
  • In Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, the Swarm was an absolutely terrifying entity that consisted of a hive of bees that combined to create a sapient being.
  • Pandronians, introduced in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Bem" (a reference to an old sci-fi acronym meaning "bug-eyed monster"), are colony organisms who are humanoid in shape, but consist of three separate parts (head, torso, and legs) which can move and levitate independently of each other. Another Pandronian appears in the Star Trek: Lower Decks episode "I, Excretus".
  • Static Shock has had a couple:
    • One episode featured a giant carnivorous Blob Monster composed of billions of microscopic organisms that had been affected by the gas that created the "Bang Babies". Static and Gear remark that, while the creatures normally should just "blob around doing nothing", the affected ones "move like Soul Train dancers".
    • A minor foe Mmoboro was either a giant hornet who could dissolve into a swarm of tiny copies of himself or a swarm of hornets fond of forming into a giant copy of themselves. Mmoboro is actually an enemy of the African hero, Anansi, employed by his arch-enemy Osebo.
  • In the animated The Tick series, the hero first encounters a colony of angry ants when they steal stuff when using composite human form.
  • There's an episode of Timon & Pumbaa where Timon pays this guy to help Pumbaa. After everything he tried didn't work, he came back to the guy to get his money back, but the guy turned out to be a swarm of locusts.

    Real Life 
  • While they can't construct a bipedal form and go for a walk, South American army ants regularly form nests and bridges from their own massed bodies.
  • Blister Beetle Grubs form themselves into the shape of the female of a certain species of bee, in order to lure it into trying to mate with the bee-of-worms, which secretes pheromones to help the process along ("Hey, that doesn't look like a bee and *sniff sniff* Oh Baby..."). Then they cling to the male and transfer to the female when Real Bee-boinking goes on, all to hitch a ride to the female's nest, which is full of tender bee larvae.
  • The Portuguese Man o' War looks like a floating jellyfish, but is, in fact, a colony of four organisms known as polyps. Its tentacles can grow to twenty metres in length (ten is the average) with a sting that can be very painful. Definitely not something you want to get tangled up with, especially since Portuguese Men o' War are most commonly found in large groups.
    • The Portuguese Man o' War is one of a number of creatures in the order Siphonophorae, of which there are three suborders. Counted among them is the gigantic Praya dubia, which can grow to lengths of 130ft/40 metres, making them the second-longest marine organism on the planet.
  • Slime molds are essentially single-celled organisms that every now and again come together to form composite creatures, up to roughly 30cm × 20cm in extreme cases.
  • Animal costumes that require multiple people, the most famous examples being two-person horse costumes and Chinese lion dancers.
  • Evolutionary biologists believe that multicellular organisms are descended from single-celled organisms that formed 3-D colonies.
    • Likewise, eukaryotic cells probably arose when some oxygen-utilizing eubacteria set up housekeeping inside of anaerobic archaean bacteria, creating composite protists and fungi. When cyanobacteria joined the party, we got algae and (eventually) plants.
    • More in the now, multicellular life (yes, including you) tends to host multitudes of bacteria and other single cell-organisms to mutual benefit.
  • Tubifex worms, in the absence of soil, will cling to each other. And to walls, which gives an effect not dissimilar to both this and Meat Moss.
  • Sawfly larvae climb over each other in order to move faster as a group.
  • Tropical trees don't walk, but they harbor enough symbiotic fungi, encrusting mosses or lichens, clinging vines and epiphytes, and boring invertebrates to constitute colonial super-organisms.
  • Clonal plant and fungal colonies: basically plants or fungi made out of smaller plants or fungi. While the component organisms don't live that long, some colonies are estimated to be 12,000 years old or older and may never die of old age.
  • Fungus gnat larvae band together to emulate a snake.
  • The Rat King is a particularly nasty phenomenon that occurs when black rats get joined together at their tails by filth (which has also been documented to happen in squirrels). Thankfully, given rats' propensity toward grooming themselves, rat kings are rare to the point where some have speculated that existing taxidermies of rat kings are hoaxes.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Worm That Walks, Colony Organism


The Other Bobinsky

In the movie, at the end of his performance, all of the mice (rats in disguise) hop into his costume. The second time around, Bobinsky is revealed to be only made of rats. It's unclear whether he was all rats the whole time, or whether he was eaten by the rats and they assumed his body.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TheWormThatWalks

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