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Deep-sea anglerfish are fishes well-known for their luminescent lures, used to attract prey amidst the ocean's dark depths. They, or creatures with similar lures on their head, are often used in media because of the surprise value: the lure seems nice and pretty at first, but turns out to be a trap set by a horrifying creature. (It also helps that Real Life deep-sea anglerfish are one of the more hideous-looking deep-water beasts.)
Anglerfish are easily susceptible to an Animal Gender Bender, as in real life the deep-sea varieties possess one of the most extreme cases of Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The image that most people think of is actually the female anglerfish; males of this sort have no lures, and are smaller than the females ... much smaller. At one point in history, scientists even believed them to be separate species. The male's life consists entirely of locating a female, then attaching itself to the female's body like a parasite, turning into a spare pair of gonads so that the female can reproduce.
Frogfishes, monkfishes, and sea toads are also anglerfishes, but they seldom appear in the media, as these species live in shallower waters and their lures don't glow in the dark, making them less visually-intriguing.
Related to Bioluminescence Is Cool.
Anime & Manga
- One of the earliest enemies in Bleach is a hollow nicknamed "Grand Fisher" -- he has a monstrous body that could hide very well and a long feeler that could take human shape to serve as bait.
- Sisters Mimi and Sheshe from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch ARE angler fish. And considering the description of males above, that explains why they're lesbians...
- The Puuchuu Queen in the horror film episode of Excel Saga, except her light was another Puuchuu. She also looked like the Alien Queen from Aliens.
- In Yaiba, we have Yakitori, one of Onimaru's Shitenno in the Onimaru's Fortress arc. It actually has a Japanese paper lantern attached to it, and he's very proud of it. Oh, and don't call him "Toadstool"....
- One Piece: On their way to Fishman Island, the Strawhat pirates met a gargantuan angler named Ankoro ("anko" in Japanese means "angler fish").
- Empowered has a supervillain called Anglerfish (and his son). Anybody who looks into their lures sees their greatest desire (Anglerfish claimed that his son only ever used it to get laid).
- The Far Side: One cartoon has a man peering into an alley at a giant set of jaws with a tongue shaped like a beer bottle.
Films -- Animation
- Finding Nemo: Marlin and Dory are chased by one while looking for the diver's mask. (See Picture Above)
- The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie features one whose lure is in the guise of an old lady selling ice-cream.
Films -- Live-Action
- Erik the Viking has a scene where the Vikings see a glowing, swaying globe that they think is the sun (which they've never seen because Fenrir the wolf swallowed it). Turns out that what they're actually looking at is an anglerfish-type lure attached to the great Dragon of the North Sea.
- The angler fish was crowned as The Most Extreme in "Oddities" (the male), "Appendages" (again the male), and "Night Lights".
- Exalted: one of the mini-comics depicted an Wyld-mutated anglerfish hunting humans using a baby as bait. Exalted is weird like that.
- Monsterpocalypse has a Kaiju-size one named Anglax, trained by Ultraterrestrials Atlanteans to attack human population centres so they can sink them and move in. Monsterpocalypse is weirder like that.
- Dungeons and Dragons has Magran -- big ethereal "anglerfish" (actually legless reptile). Its light is visible farther than it has any right to be in ethereal fog and creatures who sees it are entranced and thus become easy morsels; the critter itself is not only hideously tough, but turns invisible at will (cannot extend this to freshly swallowed prey, though).
- One old Dragon article of fan-submitted monsters included a predatory fish-creature with a dorsal fin that, unfurled at the surface, resembled a drowning woman struggling in the waves: ready Schmuck Bait for a passing potential rescuer.
- The Warhammer Gaiden Game Dreadfleet introduces the Orb Leviathan, which is basically a combination of an anglerfish and a whale that is big enough to swallow a massive warship whole. Its lure glows green, which causes some to mistake it for warpstone.
- Donkey Kong Country 2: Glimmer, although it's a subversion in that it's not hideous-looking and actually helps the Kongs by providing light. There is a similar tadpole character in Donkey Kong 64.
- Lord Woo Fak Fak in Banjo Tooie. His lure contains a Jiggy.
- Pokémon: Chinchou and its evolution Lanturn, although its appearance is also based on a dolphin. Unsurprisingly, one of its abilities is "Illuminate", which raises the likelihood of meeting wild Pokemon. They are, however, cute.
- That valuable red Rupee standing in the middle of nowhere, ready for the grab? Most likely a shield-eating Like-Like's rupee-shaped appendage.
- In the Cambrian stage of EVO Search for Eden, you can evolve to have an Angler Horn, which lures prey closer to you.
- The first Grandia game had one of these as a boss -- a giant fish, with a generically pretty mermaid on a feeler as a lure. It had a tendency to cast a charm spell on the male main character.
- One of the Mega Man ZX bosses (Lurerre Abysroid) is based on an angler fish. Or rather, she's based on the light of an angler fish. Her fish half is huge, mechanical, ugly, and juuuuuust off screen most of the time.
- zOMG!: the Robofish's appearance is based on anglerfish, only robotic.
- The Gobul from Monster Hunter Tri is largely modeled after actual anglerfish, most notably having a large lantern dangling off the front of its hit. Although it fits the trope, it interestingly does not use its lantern as the lure. Instead, it burrows itself into the soil and lures herbivores in by disguising its whiskers as plants, and then it proceeds to swallow them whole with its enormous mouth. The lantern, meanwhile, is just used to blind its enemies with bright flashes.
- A blue bullet-shaped creature from Yoshis Island DS has a green Yoshi egg hanging from the tip of its antenna.
- Dagon, one of the bosses from Devil May Cry 4 (as well as his identical brother and entire species), has the ability to create darkness and disappear into it, leaving the only part visible his antennae/lures-which resemble beautiful, naked nymphs.
- Final Fantasy VI is a partial example, as while its "Angler Whelk" is a giant snail, it has an angler fish's lure, from which hangs a treasure chest.
- The Sea Monster from Heroes of Might and Magic IV's appearance is inspired by an angler fish. It is also one of the single deadliest enemies in the game, and one of only two creatures that cannot under any circumstance end up as part of the player's army in the original game. Its special ability is an instant kill attachment to an already powerful normal attack which swallows several victims whole, barring resurrection, which is quite a hindrance for otherwise incredibly powerful hero units.
- Champions Online includes both a single angler lure, and a DUAL angler lure as optional costume parts when designing characters.
- Aquaria has some particularly nasty ones in The Abyss, which, other than trying to attack you, consumes the other benign creatures that normally help you (or at least look pretty).
- Deep Dive Deep, a level from Kirbys Epic Yarn, ends with the poor pink flufferoo escaping from the jaws of an anglerfish made entirely out of buttons and pipe cleaners. Its lure appears to be a grabbable patch. How evil.
- Charybdis, the boss of the third level in The Ocean Hunter.
- Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad E-mail "animal", one of the ideas Strong Bad has for what he'd be if he were an animal would be "one of those deep-sea fangly fishes". Its lure was Homestar's head. And it had a back deck "for dinner and dancing."
- The Unspeakable Vault of Doom: Even Cthulhoo knows how to use the trick, using a giant luminescent squid as lure.
- Bog Leech's Mortasheen section has a few fish... "things" with angler-like protuberances, such as one that looks like a comely woman, or one with fleshy, glowing "fruits" that enslave those who eat some so the monster has servants/bloodbags to use at its convenience. For those brave enough to go and explore the site: sweet dreams.
- A variant of the "woman on a lure" also appeared in a sequence of zombie-related strips.
- Ben 10: Ripjaws has a lure on his head like an anglerfish.
- The Simpsons fell prey to an angler fish in one Couch Gag. (Its lure looked like a couch.)
- On The Tick, one of the denizens of the Absurdly Spacious Sewer is a kind of angler with somebody's wallet as a lure.