Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods

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The one-eyed alien Dianoga will consume anything. Isn't it cute?
"Squid, cuttlefish, and other similarly baleful creatures are all members of the cephalopod family, characterized by HUGE EYES, BEAKS, INTELLIGENCE, and AMBITION. ... They're jet powered, did you know that? They're jet-powered animals and their heads are covered in PREHENSILE TENTACLES. They're carnivorous and most are cannibals!
T-Rex, Dinosaur Comics

This trope is about octopodes, squid, cuttlefish, and nautiloids.

Something about these animals is just plain alien. Few Earth natives can lay claim to having anything like Bizarre Alien Biology, and cephalopods are among them—they have two gill hearts, one systemic heart, and blue blood. They are invertebrates without carapaces, yet unlike worms and their mollusc kin snails and clams, they move with purpose and have large, staring eyes with Hellish Pupils. There are suckers on their tentacle-arms, and a few species like the giant squid have hooks.

Their mouths are beaked and positioned strangely, their bodies look weirdly like heads, they expel clouds of ink to distract their predators, they move strangely, and some can leap out of the water like flying fish. Many of them can change colors and even the texture of their skin. Some species have donut-shaped brains. And of course, they are bizarrely intelligent.

In fiction, sometimes they're horrible, mysterious denizens of the deep. Sometimes they're cute and funny. Largely this is a matter of size, but it's also true that generally the east favors the comical cephalopod while the west favors its big, evil cousin. Cephalopods live in every ocean.

See Flying Seafood Special if they can fly, and Fishmen if they're Half Human Hybrids.

Expect Combat Tentacles, Tentacle Rope, and in racier fare, Naughty Tentacles. Bigger ones can apply for Giant Squid status, and from there it's not that big a jump to Kraken and Leviathan up to Eldritch Abomination. Not to be confused with Cephalothorax—those also have large heads and limbs spawning off them, but they're humanoid.

Examples of Everything's Squishier with Cephalopods include:

Comical Cephalopods[edit | hide | hide all]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

Comics[edit | hide]

Film[edit | hide]

  • Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster makes use of a prop octopus that gets Bela Lugosi in its clutches (though Bela has to toss the tentacles over himself for the effect). Supposed to be "evil" but clearly in the "comical" category.
  • The Thermians' true forms in Galaxy Quest.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Terry Pratchett's Nation features arboreal octopodes that are smart enough to count. Definitely awesome.
    • Real cephalopods are smart enough to count too. But they definitely don't live in trees.
    • Before these Counting Squids came to be, there were Curious Squid.
  • Harry Potter features a Giant Squid in the lake at Hogwarts. It eats leftovers people chuck into the lake (Harry's toast in Goblet of Fire), occasionally tosses out students who fall in (Dennis Creevey in the same) and has been around for at least a generation, if what Lily Evans tells James Potter ("I wouldn't go out with you if it were a choice between you and the Giant Squid!") is anything to go by.

MMORPGs[edit | hide]

  • Gaia Online's Aquarium Cuttlefish are as difficult to please as they are adorable. One of the items they can drop when they die suggests that they are Emo. In addition, the Squid set and The Experiment play Naughty Tentacles for laughs.
    • The Yemaya's Pearl item has a pose in which purple tentacles replace the wearer's legs. Yeah.
  • You can become one in Champions Online. There's a "tentacle" mouthpiece, hand item (tentaclely fingers) and foot item (tentaclely toes... About 8 per foot.) In the underwater zone, there's a few squidly enemies to boot.
  • Illithoids in Lusternia, which are something like a cross between Illithids and lampreys. Psychic lampreys, descended from an Eldritch Abomination.
  • City of Heroes gives us Lusca, a tremendously huge octopus that pops up occasionally in Independence Port. So giant, its head and each tentacle individually count as a Giant Monster-class creature. Strangely, "Kraken" is a Giant Monster from another enemy group, but looks more like Swamp Thing than anything to do with squids.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Henry the Octopus, a supporting cast member of The Wiggles. Known for breakdancing with all his legs.
  • A nice one at any rate, in Ringo Starr's "Octopus's Garden". He'd let us in, knows where we've been. On a vacation in Greece, Ringo was told of their penchant for collecting objects to put around their homes.
    • Truth in Television. Aquariums often report that if they do not give their octopus shiny things to play with, it will often escape and steal them.

New Media[edit | hide]

  • A Memetic Mutation, but cephalopods nonetheless: try Googling "Takoluka" and see what you get ^^
    • Specifically, a parody illustration of one of the newer Vocaloids, Megurine Luka, as a very cute octopus.
    • Maria's head in the Umineko no Naku Koro ni anime ended up looking exactly like Takoluka with a crazed look. Creepy? Perhaps. Adorable? Absolutely.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • The pet squid in the comic strip Lio is a good example, inasmuch as he's supposed to be so cool primarily because he's a squid.
  • The giant squid in Sherman's Lagoon is Sherman's Sitcom Arch Nemesis.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Octoman from F-Zero is the comical kind, while his anime counterpart is mostly the western evil octopus but also has a comical side.
  • Blooey the Blooper from Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is of the comical variety. Unlike Mario's partners, who followed Mario out of respect or another benevolent reason, Blooey, as well as the rest of Luigi's partners (excluding Hayzee), follows Luigi around out of a desire for revenge after Luigi accidentally threw him into lava.
  • Give it my best shot, to keep myself red hot!
  • The aliens in Sonic Colors resemble squid or octopodes.
  • Ultros from Final Fantasy VI. He's kinda evil, though.
  • "Crusher" from the third Sly Cooper video games; a gigantic squid that attacks the gang during the pirate level and later aids them in taking on the big bad of the level.
    • The first game has squid-inspired mooks in one level and the second game has octopus-like tentacles the player has to deal with in one level.
  • Kingdom of Loathing includes familiars like the Cuddlefish and (obtainable only on one day, ever) Emo Squid. Also, adventuring in the Octopus's Garden risks a fight with (naturally enough) an Octopus Gardener.
  • Octodad.

Web Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Banana-nana-Ninja! Baninja's sworn enemy is an adorable land-dwelling squid. In one episode it uses its jet powers to actually fly through the air.
  • Deep Fried Live with Tako the Octopus

Web Comics[edit | hide]

You capture and cage CUTTLEFISH by the thousands for their own good, and also because they are funny and colorful and you love them. They often swim through the bars of their cages, but that is fine.

Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Evil Cephalopods[edit | hide]

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Spider-Man's foe Doctor Octopus. Not really squishy, though.
    • Spidey has a lesser foe called the Squid who really is all squiddly diddly.
  • Ozymandias destroys New York using a giant squid at the end of the Watchmen book. The movie, however, removes the squid in favor of an energy machine that sends highly destructive blasts of energy to not just New York, but cities around the world, and makes it look as if Dr. Manhattan was responsible.

Film[edit | hide]

Literature[edit | hide]

  • The octopus-headed star spawn, and their leader, the Dread Lord C'thulhu, Master of R'lyeh.
    • And the Whately twins.
    • Also Hastur.
    • In fact, H.P. Lovecraft had a strange thing about tentacles and invertebrates in general. Even the Great Race of Yith kinda resemble cephalopods (though the limbs don't seem quite like tentacles). There's always, always tentacles, and the word "polyp" shows up often enough. It might be because he was both violently allergic to pretty much all seafood and had something of a phobia about them. The reason there's such a strong "slimy creature from the sea" motif in his monsters is because, to Lovecraft, marine creatures were among the most vile and disgustingly ugly animals in the world.
    • Chthonians, which look like a cross between a squid and a worm.
  • Lord of the Rings has the Watcher In The Water (a huge squid-thing that guards the gates of Moria).
  • Michael Crichton's Sphere had "Jerry" summon a swarm of impossible squid, and later a giant squid (an homage to the one from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea) to attack the undersea station.
  • The 1957 French novel Niourk by Stefan Wul features amphibious, hyperintelligent mutant octopuses.
  • John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes is about the invasion of Earth's oceans by a race of alien cephalopods. (Or at least the organic weapons they deploy are somewhat squid-like; it's never revealed what the actual aliens look like..)
  • Victor Hugo's novel The Workers of the Sea depicts at one point a fight between a sailor and a huge octopus.

A greyish form drifts in the water; big as an arm and half a yard long; it's a rag; this form looks like a closed umbrella without a handle. This rag slowly moves towards you. Suddenly it opens, eight spokes swiftly spread around a two-eyed face; these spokes are alive; there is flamboyance in their dance; it's a wheel of sorts; opened up, it is four or five feet in diameter. Frightening blossom. This thing throws itself at you. The hydra harpoons the man.
This beast crawls over its prey, covers it, ties it in its long coils. Below it is yellowish, above it is dirt-toned; nothing could adequately express this eerie dusty shade; it seems a beast made of ashes that would live in water. It is spiderlike in its shape and chameleon in its coloration. Angry, it turns purple. Horrifyingly, it is soft.
Its knots strangle; its contact paralyzes.
It evokes scurvy and gangrene; it's a disease made monstrous flesh.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

"This crewmember had intercourse with a Glygonthian octopoid. Let's take a close look at his genitals. Pustules have developed, and on the pustules: warts. Soon, his entire groin explodes, leaving five baby octopoids, each with his face. Remember, Alien Sex is Danger Sex."

Mythology[edit | hide]

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

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • D&D loves this trope.
    • The most popular example are the Illithids, also known as Mind Flayers. They are mostly similar to skinny grey humans but with heads that look like an octopus with four arms, which they use to get hold of their victims' heads and eat their brains. They are also parasitic creatures that reproduce by implanting their tadpoles into the brains of humanoids, where they slowly feed on the victim's flesh and grow around its skeleton, eventually completely absorbing and replacing the host.
    • Aboleths are a related example, having bodies somewhat similar to sharks but possessing three eyes in a vertical row on their forehead, a lamprey mouth, and four long tentacles instead of fins. Like illithids, they mentally enslave humanoids they find and transform them into fish people to serve in their underwater cities.
    • And a more straight example would be the Krakens, a race of massive intelligent giant squids. That are also often wizards. They too like to enslave humanoids when they have the opportunity.
  • The Kraken creature types of Magic: The Gathering, which includes the Polar Kraken, one of the biggest creatures in the game.
    • Magic the Gathering also contains the Cephalid, a race of squid-folk portrayed as physically weak but sneaky and conniving.
    • Zendikar brings us the first true legendary octopus: Lorthos, the Tidemaker.
  • The Old World of Darkness had a cephalopod race called the Chulorviah, who could parasitize humans and had plans for world domination.

Toys[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Ceph from Crysis are as evil as these things come, waking up from their million-year hibernation to destroy humanity and take over the planet. They deploy terrible Freeze Rays and horrific flesh-melting bioweapons against population centers (such as New York) before invading and fucking the place up with their litho-ships.
  • Ultros from Final Fantasy VI. He's mostly comical, though.
  • On the subject of Bloopers, most non-mook members of the species are evil or otherwise antagonistic; I'm pretty sure Blooey is the only exception.
    • King Kaliente from Super Mario Galaxy is also of the evil cephalopod bunch. Though like most Mario enemies he's also pretty comical.
  • Quest for Glory IV has cephalopod imagery all over to represent the Dark One, possibly a reference to Lovecraft or Czernobog of Russian mythology. There are also "hexapods", six-legged monsters that guard the monastery.
  • Mass Effect brings us the Reapers. An entire race of horrifically powerful squid-shaped starships bent on perpetuating a cycle of extinction on the entire galaxy every 50,000 years, as they have for at least the past 37 million years. And that's 740 cycles!
    • Some theories suggests that they might have been doing this for a billion years. And that's 20,000 cycles!
  • Oodako the giant octopus boss in Muramasa: The Demon Blade.
  • As well as the Watcher from the book, The Lord of the Rings Online has a giant tentacled abomination in the sewers of Carn Dum.
  • Some of Ecco the Dolphin's more random enemies include giant octopodes called Eight-Arms. The Prehistoria levels have plenty of pointy ammonites, too.
  • The first boss of Ratchet and Clank 2 is a huge swamp-octopus thing. Its big brother also acts as a hidden boss.
  • Squiddicus from Donkey Kong Country Returns is a gigantic octopus that spends most of his time attacking ships in the background, but in a few levels he'll attack Donkey and Diddy, smashing platforms and swiping with his tentacles. And he's covered with small spikes, making him invulnerable.
  • Ozumat <The fiend from below> in World of Warcraft counts, a massive spawn of the Old Gods who seeks to aid the naga and faceless with their campaign in Vashj'ir, he's also the bastard who sinks your ship at the start of the zone, sufficient to say, killing him feels good.
  • The giant octopus boss of Quaria in Bug!!, which stays in the background, grabs fish with its tentacles, and throws them at you. You counter by whacking them back at his head, after which he will come up close and personal, using his tentacles to hurt Bug directly.
  • The Mega Man X series have Launch Octopus and Squid Adler/Bolt Kraken. Though they are anything but squishy- the former launches homing missiles and can drain X's life, while the latter makes liberal use of Shock and Awe.
  • The Xarquids from X-COM: Terror From the Deep. Essentially, they're Nautiloids fed on a diet of alien steroids and have a sonic beam shoved up they're tentacles. And they swim backwards.
  • Gohma Lashers from Asura's Wrath, designed to look like a combination of Octopi and Shelled Cephalopods. They take this to an extreme, being an entire mile in length from the top of the head to the end of it's tentacle.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Other Cephalopods[edit | hide]

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • The 8-Tailed Beast from Naruto is a bull with humanoid arms and eight octopus tentacles for "tails". It used to be feral, but after being Killer Bee's host for enough he's calmed down. However, he's not really a comical octopus either, as he's more of a Straight Man. The island Killer Bee trains on also has a giant squid, that is also feral (it seems to attack anyone that comes near the island), which Naruto mistakes for an octopus and then for a transformed Killer Bee.

Film[edit | hide]

  • In Oldboy, the main character, after spending 15 years locked up, goes to a restaurant and orders "something still alive". He's served an octopus, which he proceeds to chew down while its tentacles squirm all over his face. Watch it here.
    • Actually, live octopus is a genuine South Korean dish (called sannakji), but the critter is supposed to be cut up before serving. In the movie, he just ate it whole.
  • Night at the Museum 2 features an octopus that befriends Larry after he provides it with water.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Stephen Baxter's novel Manifold: Time has humans breed squid for intelligence, then use them to man space probes. These squids colonize an asteroid; their species actually outlives most of humanity.
  • In the X Wing Series, Loka Hask, the man who killed Wedge's parents, survived being shot down, but in the process a Corellian limpet got attached to his face, covering an eye and an ear and reaching tentacles into his mouth and nose. Corellian limpets look like vaguely jellyfish-ish eyeless, lumpy octopodes. Loka's limpet serves as a Red Right Hand, drawing a couple of circles around his evilness.
  • Ian Fleming's Octopussy features an octopus as a pivotal story device. It kills a major character, but not in any "evil" malice.
  • Similar to the Discovery Channel instance but much creepier: near the end of the Earth's life in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, cephalopods appear to have finally gotten around to invading the land. One of them crawls out of the ocean towards the time machine as the atmosphere begins to snow out around the traveler.
  • The 'gods' of the Church of God Kraken.
  • Animorphs The Exposed has the gang using sperm whale morphs to capture a giant squid, and then all six morph it to access a ship in the deep ocean.
  • Sergey Pavlov's Aquanauts feature an absolutely tragic take on the trope, when the protagonist, a deep diver who's recruited to help to investigate the strange events at the automated underwater mine (one of two operators disappeared and the other had a nervous breakdown), finds what's really happens there. When he comes down, he finds there a mysterious giant squid that messes around with the equipment, and apparently shows signs of the intelligence. It turns out that the squid got injected with the consciousness of his girlfriend who recently died in an air crash, but whose brain was used by her father as a matrix for his AI research. When the plane carrying a prototype crashed near the mine, the prototype rewrites itself over the squid's brain, thus somehow awakening the girl's self-awareness. She, however, cannot cope and eventually commits suicide.
  • The Chronicles of Professor Jack Baling features a hyperintelligent cuttlefish named "Gwendolyn."

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Discovery Channel The Future Is Wild project speculates on the Earth of 200 million years into the future; the ecological niche primates once occupied is now filled by tree-swinging, quasi-sapient "squibbons".
    • It is strongly suggested that the squibbons will go on to form a civilization.
  • Sesame Street - And now...The Octopus!

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The NHL's Detroit Red Wings typically celebrate the NHL playoffs by letting fans throw octopus on the ice, a tradition that began in the 1950's (the octopus' eight arms signified the 8 wins needed to win the Stanley Cup in those years). The animal has been long associated with the team as a result, with even the team's mascot being one (Al the Octopus).
  • Paul the psychic octopus was a resident of a German aquarium known for having correctly predicted the outcome of every game that Germany played in the 2010 World Cup, plus the final.
  • Vampyroteuthis infernalis, the Vampire Squid from Hell.

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Cephalids of Otaria that showed up in the Odyssey block as a replacement to merfolk (kinda... Laquatus was still running around). They were almost humanoid squid creatures that were neutral to most of the events on the mainland, and involved in their own civil war, between the Emperor and Empress no less.
  • The d20 version of Gamma World had Octhofuses—a sapient race of octopodes, their name resulting from applying simulated linguistic drift to the original animal's name, like most creatures new to the d20 version. Most of them were actually friendly and curious—although there was a large, primitive, warlike subrace, roughly to them as orcs might be to humans in a fantasy setting—and they're considered a valid Player Character option.
  • One of the starting morphs in Eclipse Phase are "Octomorphs", uplifted octopodes. Depending on the background you pick and your "fluff" choices, a character with this morph might be an actual octopus, another animal with an octopus body, a human with an octopus body, or an AI with an octopus body.
  • You can also play an uplifted cephalopod in Transhuman Space.

Toys[edit | hide]

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Octoroks from The Legend of Zelda.
  • Minecraft now has squids that spawn in water. They're a neutral mob, though, and quite passive.
  • The Pokémon Octillery, which as the name suggests, is like a cross between an octopus and a cannon. (it evolves from a revolver fish). There's also Omanyte and Omastar, based on the extinct ammonite.
  • The Parodius series has Takosuke and other octopuses among the main characters. The subtitle of the original MSX game translates to The Octopus Saves the Earth.
  • Endless Ocean has octopi and squid who all act benign towards you, but the second game's giant squid can be periodically seen fighting with a sperm whale.

Webcomics[edit | hide]

Web Other[edit | hide]

  • PZ Myers loves cephalopods. There's even a Friday Cephalopod feature!
  • The Delegation is a mysterious cuttlefish and Zoofights competitor who is ostensibly from Japan (the fact that it arrived three days before the invitations were sent out notwithstanding). The Delegation is later revealed to be just one of many bodyguards of a massive squid who was nicknamed The Representative and referred to itself as SeaNet.
  • A land-based squid is Baninja's long-standing rival in Banana-nana-Ninja!
  • The rare and endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus (Octopus paxarbolis).
  • Orion's Arm: Has an entire planet populated by cephalopods aptly named Cephalotopia. Some of the stranger examples of intelligent species are Bitenic Squids and PsySquids, neither of which are particularly friendly to humans.
  • This story, about a Mimic Octopus who can imitate Humans (albeit unconvincingly), and then another or possibly the same one who's learned to do it well. While the octopus does try to kill the protagonist, he seems to eventually come to have some small degree of sympathy for it, since its actions were apparently the result of its habitat being overfished by Humanity.
  • The Kraken in The Adventures of The League of STEAM short, "Tall Tails", is a cephalopod, although since only its arms are seen it is unknown if it is an octopus, squid or something else.

Western Animation[edit | hide]