Cephalopods in popular culture

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Cephalopods, specifically pertaining to octopuses, squids, and cuttlefishes, are most commonly represented in popular culture in the Western world as creatures that spray ink and latch onto things with their tentacles without releasing.

Examples of representation[edit]

The following sections of this article are meant to give an approximate sample of the many forms of representation of cephalopods in popular culture:


Possibly the most notable uses of a cephalopod in an animated program is that of Squidward Tentacles from the Nickelodeon series SpongeBob SquarePants, and to a lesser degree Squilliam Fancyson, a character from the same cartoon.[1] The cartoon series Oswald revolves around the life of the titular blue octopus and his friends. The character Eight-Armed Willie from the animated series Flapjack, as well as the Hanna-Barbera character Squiddly Diddly are both cephalopods. In an episode of the computer animated series The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, entitled "Nightmare in Retroville", the main character transforms into an octopus.[2]


Doctor Octopus and Lady Octopus are two supervillains from the Marvel Comics universe; another villain is Zitzbath Zark, otherwise known as the Octopus, from the hardboiled comic Spirit.


20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is one of the most well-known examples of a cephalopod in cinema; the plot follows a crew that encounters a giant squid. The Beast and Deep Rising, though being unrelated films, both feature squid. It Came from Beneath the Sea, Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep, Octopus, and Octopus 2: River of Fear all focus on horrifically monstrous octopi. Tentacles, is another such film, and is one of several films made to capitalise on the success of the 1975 thriller Jaws. Octopi have also been depicted in cinema as hybrid creations, such as in Octaman, which features a mutated humanoid octopus, as well as Sharktopus and Monster Shark, two films featuring shark-octopus hybrids. Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus is another film to feature a destructively large cephalopod.

An octopus appears in the films Wake of the Red Witch, Bride of the Monster, and Ed Wood; the octopus prop was used for all three. Cephalopods have also been depicted in animated features such as Finding Nemo, which includes a flapjack octopus among its cast of aquatic characters, Toy Story 3, in which Whoopi Goldberg voices a toy rubber octopus named Stretch, and Shark Tale. In the 2015 film Jurassic World, it is revealed that Cuttlefish genes were used in the creation of the hybrid dinosaur Indominus Rex, resulting in its camouflage ability.


Cthulhu is a fictional deity created by H.P. Lovecraft and first appearing in the short story The Call of Cthulhu. Cthulhu is portrayed as a malevolent being that is part human, part dragon, and part octopus. Cthulhu appeared in the three-episode arc of the series South Park that began with the episode "Coon 2: Hindsight". Another prominent example of a cephalopod in literature is the giant squid from Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. In the Harry Potter franchise, a benevolent giant squid lives in the Black Lake, located next to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.


The Beatles song "Octopus's Garden", the Syd Barrett song "Octopus", and the Bloc Party song "Octopus" all incorporate octopi in their song titles or lyrics.


In the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, "cuttlefish" is the third item on a list that listeners are instructed to memorize.


Main article: Octopus wrestling

Paul the Octopus is an octopus that correctly predicted the outcomes of eleven out of thirteen football matches from the UEFA Euro 2008 Championship and the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Al the Octopus is the mascot of the Detroit Red Wings.

Video games[edit]

Octodad, a freeware independent game, and its upcoming sequel, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, feature a fatherly octopus as their protagonist. In the sandbox game Minecraft, squids are passive, non-playable characters that carry obtainable ink sacs. In the media franchise Pokémon, Octillery, Inkay, and Malamar are all cephalopod-like organisms. Splatoon, a game by Nintendo released in 2015, features shapeshifting squid-children as the player characters.

See also[edit]