Giant squid in popular culture

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Giant squid sculpture in Seattle, Washington, USA

The giant squid's elusive nature and fearsome appearance have long made it a popular subject of legends and folk tales. Its popularity as an image continues today with references and depictions in literature, film, television, and video games.

Often, the giant squid is represented as being in dramatic, evenly-matched combat with a sperm whale. This powerful image is no longer considered accurate given the evidence that exists for a simpler predator-prey relationship between whale and squid, with the whale being the predator and the squid the prey.

Books[edit]

An illustration from the original edition of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea depicting a giant squid.
Fighting the squid on the Nautilus.
Captain Nemo viewing a giant squid from a porthole.
  • Chapter 59 ("Squid") of Moby-Dick details the Pequod's encounter with a giant squid.
  • Captain Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus, fights a band of seven giant squid in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. In the 1954 film adaptation, there was only one giant squid, which was played by a large prop and served as the film's antagonist.
  • In H. G. Wells "The Sea Raiders", a voracious swarm of giant squids (fictitiously referred to as Haploteuthis ferox) slay a total of eleven people in boats and even attack a man on shore.
  • H. P. Lovecraft frequently used tentacled, squid-like monsters in his Cthulhu mythos.
  • In J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the Fellowship come up against the Watcher in the Water, a monster that lurks in the waters of the Sirannon, beneath the western walls of Moria. Although Tolkien's description is vague, the creature is frequently depicted as a giant squid or kraken with varying (often exaggerated) numbers of tentacles, and appeared as such in the 2001 film.
  • James Bond fights a giant squid in Ian Fleming's book, Dr. No. The scene is absent from the film adaption.
  • John Wyndham's book The Kraken Wakes depicts an invasion of squid-like aliens.
  • Jaws' author Peter Benchley's novel Beast features a giant squid terrorizing Bermuda. A TV movie (IMDB entry) was also made. However Benchley's description of the Beast (with clawlike teeth in the center of its suckers) more accurately describes the Colossal Squid.
  • The River Moth, which flows through author Jeff VanderMeer's fictional city of Ambergris, is inhabited by giant squid. The city is named after ambergris, a substance secreted by sperm whales.
  • The creature used by Ozymandias in Watchmen resembles the likeness of a squid.
  • A giant squid is a key player in Michael Crichton's novel Sphere, as well as in the film version.
  • A giant squid acts as a minor character in Charles Sheffield's novel The Web Between the Worlds.
  • A giant squid also dwells in the lake at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series of books. It seems to be quite friendly towards the students, and sometimes even acts as a lifeguard when they swim or fall in the lake.
  • In Book 27 (The Exposed) of the Animorphs book series, Rachel and Tobias morph sperm whales to find a giant squid, and then the rest of the group morphs the one squid to find the Pemalite ship.
  • Arthur C. Clarke used giant squid in many of his works. In The Deep Range, a squid of exaggerated size is captured and exhibited. In the short story "Big Game Hunt", a device capable of controlling the behavior of invertebrates is used in an attempt to capture and film a giant squid. In Childhood's End, one of the characters stows away on an alien spacecraft by hiding inside a model of a giant squid battling a whale.
  • The giant squid specimen currently housed in the Darwin Centre at London's Natural History Museum forms a key role in the plot of fantasy author China Miéville's 2010 novel Kraken.
  • Many giant squids are mentioned in Tentacles, the sequel to Cryptid Hunters, by Roland Smith. The character of E-Wolf is hired to capture a giant squid for the Northwest Zoo and Aquarium. Smith portrays the squids as pack hunters.
  • A giant squid is mentioned in the book Andrew Lost in the Deep by J. C. Greenburg.

Film and television[edit]

  • A menacing giant squid briefly appears in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
  • The Doctor Who episode The Power of Kroll (1978) features a carnivorous monster resembling a giant squid (the largest monster ever seen in the series) which lives at the bottom of a swampy lake, and is worshipped by the natives (despite the fact that it sometimes eats them).
  • In the Futurama episode The Deep South, Fry and Umbriel cheer at a fight between a sperm whale and a giant squid.
  • In the Family Guy episode Death Is a Bitch, a giant squid appears as an uninvited and threatening guest in the Griffin home that they choose to "just ignore and pretend it doesn't exist."
  • The title of the film The Squid and the Whale refers to the popularly imagined combat between sperm whale and giant squid, specifically as depicted in the diorama at New York's American Museum of Natural History, which the main character visits in the last scene of the movie.
  • The Beast, a 1996 film (with William Petersen, Karen Sillas) is about a giant squid terrorizing a Pacific NW Island, based on Peter Benchley's novel.
  • At the end of Rugrats Go Wild, Nigel Thornberry & the Rugrats see a live giant squid.
  • An episode of the TV show Invader Zim which was unaired in the United States called "Zim Eats Waffles" shows Dib watching Zim battling a "Giant Flesh-Eating Demon Squid" to the disbelief of his colleagues.
  • The Squid becomes a contender in Animal Face-Off against the sperm whale
  • In the The Replacements episode The Means Justify the Trend, a giant squid can be seen attacking a submarine.
  • The documentary series The Future Is Wild depicts certain species of squid evolving into land-based, air-breathing forms culminating in the 12-foot (3.7 m) tall, 8 ton "Megasquid" 200 millions years in the future. Other squid species include an ocean-dwelling, 120-foot (37 m) long "Rainbow Squid" capable of highly sophisticated optical camouflage and color alterations, and the small, arboreal "Squibbon", highly agile terrestrial squid which spend their lives swinging through the branches of massive lichen trees of the future. It is implied that the Squibbon may someday evolve into Earth's next sapient life form.
  • The giant squid was #3 in the Most Extreme episode Body Parts because it has the largest eyes of any living animal. It was #5 in another episode-Monster Myths, because it's not a sea monster and can't sink ships
  • The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (a re imagining of the franchise in the 90's) featured an entire episode dedicated to the giant squid, although the squids in the episode were as large as buildings.
  • A giant squid and a colossal squid both made an appearance in Wild Kratts.
  • On the Cartoon Network show The Secret Saturdays, a show about a family of cryptozoologists, the parents (Solomon "Doc" and Drew Saturday) are telling their son, Zak Saturday briefly in one episode about how they spent their last anniversary in the stomach of a Giant Squid. This is impossible, as neither a giant squid nor even a colossal squid can swallow a human whole. However, as they are cryptozoologists, this may be a reference to the massive kraken, a huge squid that pulled down ships and could have swallowed them. It could also be referencing Giant Octopi.
  • In the film The Pagemaster, Adventure, looking for a book to help Richard get past his fear of heights, picks out 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and turns to a page with an illustration of a giant squid. Immediately water gushes out of the book, and the giant squid's tentacles slowly emerge, as Richard and Adventure ascend a ladder to escape.

Music[edit]

  • A giant squid fighting a sperm whale in space is shown on the album cover of They Might Be Giants' Apollo 18.
  • A song by the heavy metal group "Tourniquet" titled "Architeuthis" is about the mysteries of the giant squid.
  • The indie group Modest Mouse sold shirts on tour in the year 2001 featuring a giant squid fighting a sperm whale.
  • Folk Rock Singer/Songwriter Jonathan Coulton's EP Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow includes a song, "I Crush Everything," about a remorseful giant squid.
  • Squid in general - and giant squid in particular - are mentioned in several songs written by Robyn Hitchcock, notably the Soft Boys' song Underwater Moonlight
  • The post-metal band Giant Squid takes its name from the animal.
  • The Wizard Rock band "The Giant Squidstravaganza" takes its name from the animal, and its appearance in the Harry Potter series, and sings songs exclusively from the point of view of that specific giant squid, often expressing his love for toast.
  • Metal band "Engorged" have a song entitled "Architeuthis" from the album Where Monsters Dwell.
  • Deathcore band "Here Comes the Kraken" refers to a giant squid.
  • The artist " Allergic to Shellfishness" has written and recorded a song "The Great Vampire Squid"
  • Scottish pirate metal band Alestorm has a song on their 2011 album "Back Through Time" called "Death Throes of the Terrorsquid" about a band of pirates fighting a giant squid.

Video games[edit]

  • Large squid-like monsters called Bloopers are common enemies of the video game character Mario. In a few games giant Bloopers serve as bosses.
  • In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, mind-controlled giant squids are one of the most powerful naval units in the Soviet arsenal.
  • In the fighting game X-Men: Children of the Atom, a giant squid is visible in the background in Omega Red's stage.
  • In the Dreamcast game Skies of Arcadia, the main character fights (in a ship battle) a giant squid named Obispo.
  • In the game Soulcalibur III, the character Nightmare gains a "giant" squid as his joke weapon.
  • In the game "Jaws Unleashed", the shark encounters a Colossal squid in a level called "the Deep". Juvenile Colossal Squid can be encountered in free roam mode. The squid in the level "The Deep" is very exaggerated, if JAWS is 25-foot (7.6 m) in the game then the giant squid is at least 60 ft (18 m).
  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, Sly and the gang attempt to subdue the legendary giant squid known as "Crusher" in order for them to defeat Blood Bath Bay's main antagonist, Captain Lefwee. After an arduous battle between Crusher and Sly's crew aboard a pirate ship of their own, they are able to subdue the giant creature and possess its mind with the help of The Guru for use in their operation.
  • In BioShock, when entering the fictional city Rapture aboard an underwater elevator, a giant squid can be seen for a fair amount of time before it moves away, either fleeing from the elevator, or from the whale seen almost immediately afterwards. Later in the game, a dead giant squid can be seen in a display case.
  • In Endless Ocean for the Wii, a giant squid can be found in the Abyss, along with a Sperm Whale. Being a non-violent game, the giant squid will not hurt you and the sperm whale will not attack the giant squid. In its sequel Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep, however, the giant squid is too dangerous to continue the quest and the only way to proceed is to lure a sperm whale to fight it while you find the mini-sub.
  • In Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, the first boss of the sunken ship is a giant squid that goes by the name, King Calamari. Log from the former crew revealed the squid attacked the ship and the trapped it in the treasure room while the ship sank. It is capable of speech and when its mind is read, King Calamari states that the ship is his. It has 800 Hit Points and its left tentacles have 200 Hit Poiints while its right tentacles have 260.
  • In Super Metroid, the boss character Phantoon resembles a giant squid, as well as the Ozymandias squid creature from the comic series Watchmen.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King, one of the bosses you fight is a giant squid called Khalamari who uses two of its tentacles to act as hand puppets. It has attacked several ships but when it is defeated, Khalamari reveals he is friendly but was brainwashed by Dhoulmagus. After being cured, Khalamari gives you a Gold Bracer.
  • In World of Warcraft, the final boss in the Throne of the Tides dungeon is a giant squid called Ozumat.
  • In Kirby's Epic Yarn, the boss Capamari is what first appears to be a giant squid wearing a knit cap, but he then turns out to be an octopus.
  • In Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, encounters with a giant squid appears as an easter egg in both games. In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio can encounter a giant squid in the Assassin Tomb located under the Santa Maria Delle Visitazione. In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, pirate Edward Kenway can watch a battle between white sperm whale and a giant squid while driving the Antocha Wreck from the window of wreaked ship.

Miscellany[edit]

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