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The characters of a story are confronted by a large tentacle or appendage of an unseen, bigger monster who's threatening them or binding them where they stand. However, may it be for deliberate suspense or lack of budget the tentacled monster will never appear, even if the heroes manages to hack off/harm the tentacle.

This is usually played, as said above, for suspense and possibly horror. Of course it's not strictly limited to tentacled monsters: It can be played with a gigantic arm or leg belonging to an unseen beast, but usually Stock Ness Monster types are quite popular. Sometimes it even looks like the tentacle is the actual monster. In case of giant Man-Eating Plant the plant itself may act as a tentacle of sort.

This can occur in two different forms:

  • Only the limb/tentacle is shown and interacted with, but the rest of the body remains a total mystery.
  • While the whole creature is shown later (thus killing the suspense part), its appendages are shown before and moving independently on their own, as if they were a different monster altogether.

Sea creatures often have these, especially Krakens and Leviathans. Super-Trope of Giant Foot of Stomping and Giant Hands of Doom; Sub-Trope of Organ Autonomy. See also Combat Tentacles and Tentacle Rope.


Type 1 Examples:

Comic Books

  • The cover for a Dylan Dog/Martin Mystere crossover features our heroes ensnared by the tentacles of an unseen monster/machine.
  • The Lure in the Greyshirt mini-series: a spinoff from Tomorrow Stories.

Film

Literature

  • The Reveal of "Under the Pyramids" by HP Lovecraft is that the five-headed creature that the narrator sees crawling out of the abyss (and which is implied to be the inspiration for the Sphinx) is merely the forepaw of some vastly larger Eldritch Abomination.
  • Stephen King's The Mist: Some of the men decide to go outside to try to fix the generator. As soon as the door opens, a very much one-sided fight ensues with several tentacles before they snatch their prey and sink back into the mist. Also at the end of the book the survivors encounters a giant animal so big that only his legs are visible in the mist.
  • The Swamp Monster from The Sword of Shannara. Unlike other examples what seems to be his body does surface, but we never get a good look or description.
  • The Lord of the Rings has the Watcher in the Water, but only in the books and in Bashki's movie.
  • One of the Choose Your Own Adventure books features a heated battle against a giant land-dwelling tentacle initially disguised as a barrow. In the middle of a monster-infested fortress. Even after its defeat you can't know what was that.
  • Bel-Shamaroth from The Colour of Magic. While he's mentioned from the beginning, only his tentacles are shown, and about the rest of his body, we only see a glimpse of his gigantic eye.

Live Action Television

  • Tales from the Darkside: At the end of the episode "Seasons of Belief", two monstrous arms break through the windows of a room, killing a husband and wife in front of their two young children.
  • Thing from The Addams Family.
  • In the "Salvation Fuzz" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus (aka "Church Police" or "Bishop on the Landing") after the police pray for God to reveal the culprit, a giant hand comes down from on high to point to the culprit. Sometimes when they did the sketch during live shows the hand didn't point to the right person.
  • Angel "Supersymmetry" had a mass of tentacles that popped out of a portal and picked up Angel and Fred. We never saw if it had a body, but each tentacle had its own pincer mouth on the end.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The Multiple Head Case Hellmouth Demon seen in "Prophecy Girl" and "The Zeppo".
  • In Tremors: The Series, only part of the giant shrimp-monster is ever seen above the water.

Tabletop Games

  • Ravenloft has the Eldritch Abomination Gwydion, who/which appears as a mass of tentacles emerging from a dimensional rift. Even Word of God has stated that what lies behind is a complete mystery.
  • Dungeons and Dragons module G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King. If a certain specific ceremony is carried out near the altar of the Elder Elemental God, that deity will send one of its tentacles out of the altar to grab the closest living creature as a sacrifice.
  • Call of Cthulhu's Dreamlands setting, adventure "Yellow Sails". When Mironim-Mer activates the Oracle Mirror, the wendigo demon possessing it sends out a tentacle to grab him.
  • There's a few monsters in the Munchkin series like this, such as Squidzilla, the Unspeakably Awful Indescribable Horror, and the Big Ole Planet Eater Guy. Also "Big Foot" for the humanoid limbs variety.

Video Games

  • In Battle for Wesnoth there's a monster who's basically this: the tentacle of a larger, unseen underwater monster.
  • In Warcraft III the Faceless Ones can summon huge, spiky tentacles at will from the ground. In World of Warcraft, they and their Old God masters continue this. The Old Gods are buried and of unknown size, so what tentacles are part of what creature, and what these creatures look like, are mostly unknown. Cataclysm adds massive mouth creatures that we never see all of.
  • Legacy of Kain: Defiance has some spiky tentacles pop out of the ground in order to drag Raziel to the other world.
  • In the Diablo II expansion Baal can summon a trio of tentacles to harass the player during the final battle.
  • Dragon's Lair featured a room which is gradually filled by the green tentacles of a massive monster from upstairs. Also the "Eyeworms" in the moat behaves much like tentacles.
  • In Rayman 2: The Great Escape there are some giant skeletal limbs in some level which will drag you inside their coffins.
  • Maniac Mansion and Day of the Tentacle actually have Green and Purple Tentacles as living, independent tentacle-people.
  • One monster from Dragon Quest VIII is a hand made of mud, said to belong to a larger mud monster who lives underground.
  • The Echidna from Legendary the Box appears as a massive green tentacle/s who appears three times during the game and tries to drag the hero underground, where it can devour him. Considering that the original Echidna was a Snake Woman that might be her tail.
  • Dead Space has a a huge tentacle that pops out at least three times on the Ishimura and tries to drag Isaac towards a gruesome doom.
  • In The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask, a hand reaching out from underneath a bathroom asks for your help. The owner of the hand is never seen.
  • In the 1983 Dino Eggs game, if you didn't have a fire burning the dinosaur mom (whose eggs and hatchlings you were stealing) would try to stamp you flat with her leg. You only ever saw the leg, not the dinosaur mom herself. Watch it here.
  • In God of War II and III there are the Arms of Hades: a swarm of (left) hands coming out of the ground to pull Kratos into the depths of Hades.
  • The giant claw boss from Half Life. Though you can find its body if you look.
  • In Banjo Tooie, there is a dinosaur in Terrydactlyland whose only visible portion is its foot, as it's too large to depict otherwise. It constantly tries to stomp you if you wander into its "Stomping Grounds."
  • In one of the Castlevania games, there's a unidentified, huge green arm in a section of the castle. By pulling a lever you squeeze it under a giant spiked press and use the blood in order to reach the upper floor.
  • Monster Bash has the livid hands coming out of the walls in order to toss knives at the hero.
  • The Kraken in Shining Force Gaiden: Final Conflict appears as long tentacles that move on their own.
  • In Prince of Persia (the latest reboot) you fight the Final Boss Arhiman from his point of view, and you can only see his huge, dark hands.
  • In the fan remake of King's Quest II if you choose the wrong books in Calduar's library, two green tentacles appear from the library and take you away with them to be eaten.
  • "Reapervines" (and similar tentacles) in the Metroid Prime series are stated to be appendages of some larger creature, but said "larger creature" is never actually encountered.
  • One of the obstacles in the first Half Life is a mass of gigantic alien tentacles sticking out of a rocket silo. Your guns only slightly annoy whatever it is, so you will need a bigger weapon. like the rocket in the rocket silo.
  • One of the high-level summoning spells in Dungeon Crawl opens a portal, out of which appears a multiple-space-long tentacle that attacks your enemies. After a time, the portal closes, severing the tentacle, which then turns on you until it dies a little while later.
  • Ecco the Dolphin had type one in the first game. Some of them just slapped at you and drained your health as you went by, but others actually latched onto you and could drive you nuts trying to escape before you ran out of air (unless you'd found the secret debug menu and invincibility mode, in which case they just annoyed you until you either escaped or got bored and pulled the 'switch off immortality to die'option.)

Web Comics

Type 2 Examples:

Anime

  • In FLCL, the first enemy that Canti is seen fighting is pretty much just an arm, albeit a strong one. The next episode, we see the complete version of the robot.

Film

  • Deep Rising: At first the monsters attacking the ship seem to be a patch of giant, carnivorous tube-worms. It's later revealed that they're just the tentacles of a colossal octopus monster.
  • IIRC, in The Giant Claw, we only see fuzzy photographs and what turns out to be the monster's feet for a few scenes before seeing the full creature. The studio likely wanted to downplay the monster's appearance because it was so low - budget.
  • In the sequel of Atlantis: The Lost Empire the Kraken appears only as a mass of tentacles at first. During the climax we get to see the rest of the body of the massive monster.
  • The Kraken from Pirates of the Caribbean. However in both cases after seeing his body he doesn't get much more action.
  • Tremors: The first few times the graboids attack, we just see their tentacles coming out from the ground and think the tentacles are separate snakelike creatures.

Literature

  • Visser Three had a couple of tentacled morphs in Animorphs.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • The Kraken from the Shining Force series as it appears in Shining Force 2.
  • In Donkey Kong Country Returns, one level features a gigantic octupus first witnessed destroying a large ship in the background, which then uses its tentacles to destroy various platforms floating in the sea as the player jumps across. Later in the level it appears up close, wrapping its tentacles around walls to obstruct the player's movements.
  • In Drakensang 2: The River of Time one of the bosses is a Newt Kraken (a river-infesting giant squid if you're curious). While both his tentacles and his main body are seen onscreen, you can only fight the tentacles to damage him, as his body is too far away.
  • In American McGee's Alice one of the first thing you notice in the now Eldritch Wonderland are large, fleshy tentacles in some areas. When you fight the Queen of Hearts is revealed that all those tentacles belongs to her.
  • In a video game based on The Fellowship of The Ring's book you get to fight the Watcher in the Water. While his large clawed tentacles slams on you, his moray eel-like main body is completely harmless through the battle.
  • Sin, the giant monster from Final Fantasy X, is so huge it cannot be seen well at first and you can fight only parts of it, such as its fin. You only get to see it properly when you get the airship. Note that even after that, you get to effectively fight more of its parts when you get *inside* of it!
  • In God of War III you have to fight back several large water creatures known as Hippocampi. Later you find that that said Hippocampi are actually the tentacles of Poseidon's war form.
  • The Kraken (again) from Tomb Raider: Underworld.
  • In House of the Dead 3 you face several tentacles in one level, later revealed to be part of the Sun boss.
  • In Super Mario RPG there is an underwater level where you fight tentacles, after defeating them you go on to fight a squid and its last remaining tentacles
  • The Great Mighty Poo from Conkers Bad Fur Day.
  • Before you fight the Medusa-Kraken-hybrid-like Tentalus in The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword, its tentacles attack the ship you're on, bursting through walls and such. Then you see Tentalus itself.
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