While bees have long been viewed as a friend to humanity, people have not, historically, had many reasons to like wasps. They're highly territorial and easily roused, even by mistake, in defense of their nests. People have therefore learned to associate them with angry swarms and impending pain.
As a result, wasps have developed strongly negative reputations in popular culture. Non-sapient wasps will be vicious, aggressive animals or roving swarms of droning pain; sapient wasps run the gamut from simple bullies to ferocious raiders and barbarians preying upon their fellow insects — or, if large enough, preying upon people. Wasp-themed characters, whether they simply use wasp imagery or are associated with actual wasps, are rarely pleasant people either.
Often found in the Hornet Hole. See also Unpleasant Animal Counterpart and Animal Jingoism for when villainous wasps are matched with Virtuous Bees or ants, and Bee Afraid for when the wasps (or bees) go out in force to sting and harass their victims.
This is not a list of all wasps in fiction. This refers specifically to wasps being portrayed as evil, villainous or monstrous.
- Daily Life with Monster Girl has Killa the Killer Bee. She's drawn far less human-looking than other monster girls and can control Japanese Giant Hornets. It's actually a subversion, as it turns out that she's actually not evil or even hostile to Kimihito. Her venom is actually quite weak and the only reason she got labeled a dangerous species is because when she was going through customs she stupidly tried to attack Rachnera in revenge for the latter having humiliated her years ago.
- As it turns out in FLCL Progressive, Haruko Haruhara is using A Form You Are Comfortable With, and her true form is a giant, monstrous wasp. She's also the villain of the series.
- Honeybee Hutch: The story is kicked off when a swarm of wasps attacks and destroys Hutch's beehive, leaving him stranded on his own.
- In Maya the Bee's two-part Grand Finale, Maya is captured by a nest of hornets, who are the mortal enemies of honeybees in real life, especially in Japan, home of the Asian Giant Hornet, and are plotting to attack her hive.
- Ninja Scroll: The ugly hunchback Mushizo, a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad, is a living hornets' nest. He communicates with and controls the insects, using them to gather information and as a weapon.
- The Ant Bully: The chief recurring danger to the ant colony, besides Lucas himself, are the wasps also living in the garden, who regularly conduct raids on the ants and carry off their caterpillar livestock — and sometimes the ants themselves — as food. Notably, they're far less anthropomorphized than the ants: while the ant characters are depicted with human mouths and eyes and as standing upright and using their foremost legs as hands, the wasps are portrayed much more realistically with no grasping limbs and with sideways-opening jaws and blank compound eyes, giving them a much more alien and menacing appearance.
- In Mr. Holmes, the titular character opines that bees are fundamentally good because they pollinate and create honey, which makes the wasps — as their natural enemy — bad. This is borne out at the end of the film when his young friend Roger is stung by a swarm of wasps and has an allergic reaction that nearly kills him.
- The Silence (2019): While the movie's monsters aren't wasps and don't particularly look like them either — they mostly resemble an eyeless cross between a bat and pterosaur — they're explicitly compared to wasps due to their aggressiveness and swarming behavior, and are named "vesps" after vespa, the Spanish word for wasp.
- The Wasp Woman is a 1960s horror film about, as you may guess, a woman turning into a monstruous wasp hybrid as a result of the experiments of a Mad Scientist who was fired from his previous job at a honey farm for his experiments with wasps. Remade by Roger Corman in the 90s for Roger Corman Presents.
- In the short story "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees", the titular wasps are tyrannical and imperialistic Fantastic Racists who, on settling in the area where the bees live, swiftly impose themselves on their fellow social insects, kill the envoys the bees send to parlay with them when these suggest anything beyond the bees' complete surrender to them and turn their hive into a tightly controlled puppet state, forcing the bees to give them heavy tithes of food and of larvae to raise as servants.
- In The Fairy Rebel the wicked fairy queen commands wasps and will sometimes imprison fairies who defy her inside wasps' nests, which is more or less a death sentence. Bees are stated to be reasonable creatures, since if they sting a fairy, they'll die as well. But wasps will sometimes sting fairies for the fun of it, just because they can.
- The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: After gorging on checkerberries and their leaves, and some beechnuts, Trish has a dream (or maybe it's not a dream) in which she is visited by representatives of three conceptions of god: the God of Tom Gordon, the Subaudible, and the wicked God of the Lost. While the first two are benevolent and look like her science teacher and her father respectively, the third one is hostile and has the form of a human skeleton completely covered in wasps. Earlier in the story, Trish is stung multiple times after accidently upsetting a wasp nest, so if the encounter is a dream, this explains why she imagined the evil god to look like wasps.
- The Hound Of The Durbervilles: In contrast to how Holmes practices beekeeping as a hobby, the evil Professor Moriarty breeds wasps.
- The Hunger Games: Tracker jackers are wasp-based "muttations" — genetically engineered animals developed by the oppressive Capitol as living weapons in the civil war seventy-four years before the novels. They act less like territorial animals and more like insanely aggressive living weapons. They can track targets for at least a mile, their stings instantly create agonizing plum-sized lumps, and their venom causes hallucinations that can drive a person insane. They were created to be an equivalent to land mines to be spread around rebel territories, and have been kept around by the Capitol as a symbol of their power over their subjects.
- Maya the Bee: The hornets are the sworn enemies of the bees and are portrayed as hostile and aggressive. They imprison Maya partway through the book, and the climax occurs when the hornets attack the beehive in force and disaster is averted only through Maya forewarning the bees of the hornets' planned invasion. The hornets are absent in the cartoon adaption, but are replaced by the wasps Stinger, Deeze and Doze, a recurring trio of bullies who regularly antagonize Maya and her friends and constantly try to steal fruit and honey for themselves.
- The Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky deals with the kinden, fantasy nations of humans patterned on the appearance, behaviour and abilities of various insects. The main antagonist of the first book in the series is the fierce and conquering "Empire in Black and Gold", a polity of humans based on wasp behaviour and abilities.
- Doctor Who: The Monster of the Week in "The Unicorn and the Wasp" is a Vespiform: a gigantic, blasphemous wasp driven to commit murder.
- Played for laughs in a season 2 episode of Hannah Montana, where a large wasp enters the family home and startles Jackson, causing him to kill it with his sister's childhood teddy bear. When he explains to his family why the bear was in pieces and brings up the wasp, the father also grabs the wrecked bear to use against the wasp.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Hellwasps are fiendish insects native to Hell. They're usually mindless if aggressive insects, but when they gather in swarms they form a Hive Mind intelligent and wicked enough to be Lawful Evil in alignment. They're avoided even by devils and have the habit of infesting the bodies of their victims, animating them like grotesque puppets to accomplish acts of evil they couldn't hope to accomplish on their own.
- Hellwasp devils are true devils in the shape of enormous, vaguely humanoid wasps, and unlike other devils can be Chaotic and Neutral Evil in addition to Lawful Evil. They were originally wasp-like demons before their demon lord was killed by the infernal princess Glasya, at which point they chose her as their new queen, were transformed into devils, and took residence in Glasya's Garden of Evil in Hell to serve her as guards and shock troops.
- Warmonger wasps are enormous, armor-plated biomechanical wasp-like constructs originating from the Abyss, the home dimension of the demons. They're quite literally Always Chaotic Evil, like everything else from the Abyss, and extremely aggressive. Some mutate over time into the more powerful massacre wasps, which command their lesser kin as they fight alongside the hordes of the Abyss.
- In the Wrath of the Righteous adventure path, the fallen paladin Staunton Vhane rides a demonic wasp of monstrous size.
- Among the many, many reasons life in the universe of Warhammer 40,000 absolutely sucks, we have the charming creature called the Psychneuein. These are nine-foot long psychically-attuned wasps which can turn themselves intangible at a thought, and have a taste for sentient creatures as prey. If you're lucky, they'll just eat you, if not, they'll implant their larva into you, which devours you from within until it tears its way free. They are also quite possibly sapient, and are capable of using the local space elf species' ancient Portal Network to spread throughout the galaxy, so it's theoretically possible to find them anywhere.
- Conker's Bad Fur Day: A queen bee is terrorized by a group of evil wasps who steal her hive away.
- Kirby: Triple Deluxe: The Big Bad of the game is revealed partway through to be Queen Sectonia, an enormous wasp Insect Queen. She was not always the gigantic insect she is now, but was transformed into a giant wasp after tampering with magic, and went mad in the process.
- Mega Man:
- Mega Man 9 has Hornet Man, a honeycomb-shaped Robot Master with the power to fire hornet drones. He was just a benign flower park manager until he was reprogrammed by Dr. Wily.
- Mega Man X3: Blast Hornet is a hornet robot who's one of the bosses. He used to be a good guy — part of the Maverick Hunters, in fact — but he gets infected by the Maverick Virus, does a FaceHeel Turn and goes on a rampage.
- Minecraft: The Biomes 'o Plenty mod includes Nether wasps, which are only found in giant hives in the Nether — Hell, for all intents and purposes — and unlike other animals are hostile and attack on sight.
- Fallout: New Vegas: Cazadores are giant mutated tarantula hawk spider wasps, created by gene-splicing experiments in a military research lab. They are incredibly fast and carry a deadly venom, making them one of the most formidable enemies in the game.
- The protagonist in the Interactive Fiction story Sting of the Wasp is repeatedly likened to one; it's both a pun on the acronym for "white Anglo-Saxon Protestant" (the game takes place at a country club) and to how unpleasant, vicious, and cruel the character is.
- RWBY: Lancers are Creatures of Grimm that take the form of huge hornets around the size of a person. They live among the floating islands of the Lake Matsu in Anima and attack any airships that attempt to travel through their airspace. They have the ability to use their stingers like grappling guns, hooking onto ships and reeling them in where they use their powerful mandibles to chew their way through the ship's hull. A small swarm of Lancers can be enough to overwhelm even airships that have Huntsmen on board. Queen Lancers, however, act alone; they're mammoth creatures, easily dwarfing cargo ships, and have the ability to fire darts that burst out of each side of their bodies, on top of being able to use their mandibles and tail stingers. A Queen Lancer is so tough she can easily survive an explosion caused by multiple crates of Dust igniting at the same time.
- Girl Genius: Slaver wasps are the most ubiquitous servants and forces of the Other, make up the bulk of its armies, and are the main threat associated with it in-universe. They come in two types: flightless warrior forms half the height of a man, with forelegs capable of impaling a human being, and the regular-sized slaver wasps proper, which true to their name work by flying into a person's mouth and turning them into a mind-controlled revenant to serve the Other as either a shambling zombie or a spy.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Future Vision", Steven asks Garnet about ways he could be hurt, one of which is getting attacked by wasps. The corresponding Imagine Spot portrays Steven being repeatedly stung by a pair of giant anthropomorphic wasps, which giggle and smile at his pain, until Steven swells up and explodes.
- Beast Wars: Waspinator is one of the evil Predacons, a group made of Transformers based on traditionally "evil" or unpleasant animals such as a scorpion, two spiders, a Ptero Soarer and a Tyrannosaurus rex. He's the least scary amongst them.
- Monster of the Week Queen Wasp from Miraculous Ladybug has this as her motif, being an evil version of heroine Queen Bee, with the ability to also summon swarms of wasps.
- The Craig of the Creek episode "The Climb" has the main trio coming across a swarm of wasps which they treat as The Dreaded. And for good reason too, as one of them ends up stinging J.P.
- The lifestyle of the ichneumonid wasps, which lay their eggs in live insects for their young to eat, was something that nineteenth-century naturalists and theologians struggled to come to terms with. Most notably, the wasps drove Charles Darwin to a Crisis of Faith, where he seriously questioned the idea that a world that contained such apparently cruel-by-nature animals could've been created by a benevolent God.
I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.
- A particular type of these wasps, mud daubers, have caused a few hundred deaths by building nests in airplane altimeters and air speed indicators, which have resulted in fatal crashes.