WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
File:Badroaches 303.png

We all know bees can be horrible, centipedes terrifying, and flies just annoying. But cockroaches are perhaps the biggest household pest of them all.

They crawl, they swarm, they eat leftover food, they stink, and they scatter when exposed to bright light. Roaches are also incredibly hardy -- some being able to survive without food for about a month -- and very adaptable to many environments, preferably those that are warm and moist. Often times this is exaggerated in fiction in that they are able to survive a nuclear war (though roaches can withstand radiation poisoning for a long period of time, they are not immune to its effects). They're also used as a symbol of filth and decay in fiction.

This trope is dedicated to all things roachy (no, not that kind of roach, or that kind of roach, or even Clock Roaches).

Examples of Creepy Cockroach include:


  • Commercials for Raid bug spray often featured cockroaches, which get killed dead by the product.
  • There was once a laundry detergent commercial that played out normally, when suddenly a cockroach began crawling around on the screen. Eventually, an Orkin Man sprays it dead. This commercial was withdrawn after Orkin was sued by a man who threw his shoe at the TV set and broke it, thinking the insect was real.
  • Roach Motel bait traps: Roaches check in, but they don't check out!

Anime and Manga

  • In anime, women are often deathly frightened of cockroaches in much the same way Western fiction has them scared of mice.
  • In the second episode of Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh, Jin frightens Maria with what turns out to be a rubber roach.
  • Azumanga Daioh has the infamous cockroach scene where Tomo smashes one with her workbook.
  • Nichijou has a segment where Nano has a cockroach trapped under a bowl, but is too terrified of it to lift the bowl to kill it (or let someone else do so).
  • Roaches, among other bugs, are featured on Franken Fran. They have built a human-like society within Fran's mansion.
  • In the Fruits Basket manga, Haru tells a scary story about a young man who innocently gulps down a glass of iced coffee on a sweltering summer day... and discovers a single black cockroach in the glass when he's done.
  • In Parasyte, the first sign that Shinichi is becoming as cold and emotionless as the parasite inhabiting his left arm is when he nonchalantly and unflinchingly grabs a particularly large cockroach his mother was frantically trying to kill with his bare hands and throws it outside right into the mouth of a flying crow.
  • Digimon had the Roachmon brothers in the second series. They only attacked the main heroes because they fell under the control of the Digimon Emperor's mind control Dark Rings.
  • Taken Up to Eleven right past the Uncanny Valley with the cockroach martians in "Terra For Mars", who were inadvertedly brought to existance when the governments of an overpopulated Earth tried to terraform Mars by releasing a type of moss and cockroaches into its atmosphere to increase carbon dioxide emissions around the planet by having said cocroaches barely survive in the martian environment by eating the moss and expanding it across its living area and some other Techno Babble. Fridge Logic aside, somehow the cockroaches, or "black organisms", mutated into creepy, towering Blackface looking humanoids with huge staring eyes with oversized black pupils whose only indications of their cockroach heritage is their antenna and cersi located on their backside. When one of a pair of cockroach exterminators (who only expected to exterminate ordinary cocroaches) attempt to make contact with one of the cockroach martians, said martian greets them by nonchalantly snapping the female Love Interest's neck


  • The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics had some side comics about a roach society which inevitably ended with some getting smashed, but the king laughing it off because "there's plenty more where they came from."
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures had the villain Scumbug, an exterminator who mutated into a roach-like being thanks to the mutagen. He eventually found his way into the original cartoon.
  • In Bloom County, Milo's grandfather considers the cockroaches that live in his boarding house to be annoying pests and tries to kill them whenever possible. Subverted with Milo's grandmother, who treats them like adopted grandchildren. One particular cockroach makes repeated appearances later, and while he is a well-mannered fellow, everyone tends to be disgusted by him and try to crush him.


  • In Ozzallos's Ranma-x-Sailor Moon crossover The Best Of Times, as part of an epic prank war between Ranma and Pluto, Ranma covers every inch of Setsuna's apartment in cockroaches.


  • Men in Black features a giant roach alien who devours a human and uses his skin as a disguise. He also leaves swarms of roaches wherever he goes, and loves sugar (preferably in water).
  • The "They're Creeping Up On You" segment from Creepshow.
  • In Joes Apartment, Joe shares his apartment with some talking roaches. However, this is more of an inversion, since the roaches in question are friendly.
  • Played with in Enchanted's "Happy Working Song" scene, in which roaches pitch in to help the rats and pigeons clean up the apartment.
  • In Mousehunt, Ernie's restaurant gets shut down due to an incident where the mayor dies of shock after eating a cockroach head.
  • Very much averted in WALL-E, where a cockroach is possibly the only living animal on Earth, and manages to be cute.
  • Dr. Cockroach from Monsters vs. Aliens is actually quite nice, for a Mad Scientist with a taste for garbage.
  • Mimic is about giant roaches.
  • In Cornered, a junkie going through withdrawal finds himself continually harrassed by hallucinatory cockroaches.
  • One of Freddy's victims in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, who hates roaches, is turned into one in her nightmare and is then trapped in a roach motel.
  • The made for TV film They Nest had cockroaches that nested inside people.
  • The William Castle feature Bug has cockroaches that are able to set things on fire.
  • The Silent Hill film has cockroach-like monsters with screaming human faces on their underside.
  • In Hostel: Part III, a woman is sprayed with something that causes a cockroach swarm to crawl into her mouth, suffocating her.
  • Digit from An American Tail.


Live Action TV

  • The myth that cockroaches can survive radiation was busted on Myth Busters, since there are other bug species that can survive much longer.
  • ER had a woman who had a small cockroach removed from her ear. she immediately freaks out and stomps on it.
  • In an episode of The X-Files titled "War of the Coprophages", cockroaches were the Monster of the Week, and at one point one scurries across the TV screen (as if it's IN YOUR HOUSE!!!!).
  • Madagascar hissing cockroaches are a common source of an Eat That stunt on reality shows like Fear Factor.
  • Saturday Night Live featured a Parody Commercial of a Roach Motel-esque glue trap that does cruel things to the roaches as they lay stuck there, such as getting their legs pulled off by mechanical arms. It even contained a window so everyone can see.
  • One episode of the Animal Planet show Infested featured a roach-infested apartment building. The roaches actually came from the apartment of a man who was a member of the religion called Jainism, where it was against his religion to kill them. Jains believe that every living thing has a soul and must not be harmed.
  • An episode of CSI: NY feature jewel-encrusted Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches worn as jewelry, squicking out some of the team.
  • Cockroaches are a recurring motif in Heroes representing evolution and survival. This especially applies to Big Bad Syler, who is resilient and hard to kill. One graphic novel had a character ride a giant cockroach in her dreams.


  • Mexican folk song "La Cucaracha" features a cockroach who has lost two of his legs (or lacks marijuana to smoke).

Newspaper Comics

  • La Cucaracha stars an anthropomorphic roach named Cuco Rocha.

Tabletop Games

  • Invoked and lampshaded in Werewolf: The Apocalypse, where the Cockroach is the totem of the urban-dwelling Glass Walkers tribe. A discussion between the Glass Walker leadership on the spiritual powers of the cockroach devolves into discussing ways to keep cockroaches away without offending the tribe totem.
    • Successor game Werewolf: The Forsaken offers up were-cockroaches - the Unclean - as a playable option in War Against the Pure.

Video Games

  • Junk Man's stage from Mega Man 7 featured Gockroach S., robotic roaches that emerged from nests.
  • In Bad Mojo, you are the cockroach. In a Full Motion Video game with realistic graphics and settings.
  • Featured in Breath of Fire III as enemies.
  • They also appear as enemies in Earthbound and Mother 3. Apparently some of the ones in Mother 3 are robots...
  • Roaches (possibly alien) appear throughout the original Half Life. Surprisingly absent in HL2.
  • The Creeper monster appearing in both Silent Hill 1 and Silent Hill 2. They are said to be a manifestation of the town itself. Silent Hill Homecoming has a variation with the Swarm, a leech/roach hybrid.
  • Roaches hold the distinction of being the only monsters to appear in every entry of the Shadow Hearts series, Koudelka included. As a Genius Bonus, they are called Gregor in both Covenant and From the New World.
  • The first Scarecrow sequence in Batman: Arkham Asylum features a swarm of cockroaches crawling out of the floor grates.

Web Original

  • Homestar Runner has Gavin, an ordinary cockroach who is sometimes seen in Strong Bad's room.

Western Animation

  • Oggy and the Cockroaches is about three roaches named Dee Dee, Joey, and Markie who terrorize Oggy the cat, who wants nothing more to sit back, relax, and watch some TV.
  • Roach Coach from The Powerpuff Girls was a villain who controls a whole swarm of roaches. Who turned out to be a roach in a Mobile Suit Human.
  • In Capitol Critters, a cockroach husband and wife come for a short time to tour the capitol, and she leaves millions of eggs everywhere.
  • In Cat Dog, as the duo visit the city dump, Dog befriends and cares for a roach with a broken leg, much to Cat's dismay. Roachy here is an inversion, since he actually saves Cat's life near the end.
  • In King of the Hill, after Dale is forced to quit his job as an exterminator (due to all the poisons he exposed himself to) and gets a desk job at an adhesives company, his son brings over some roaches which eventually let loose and swarm the place. Dale then kills them all off.
  • In an episode of The Fairly Odd Parents, Wanda takes a day off at the Fairy World spa, and Timmy and Cosmo promise her not to make any wishes. This promise fails, however, as Timmy wishes for a roach to be smart enough to tell him what he's thinking as part of a school project. The roach -- along with several others -- proceed to take over the world. Eventually, Wanda poofs them away to the spa, as you can't really kill them.
  • From the Family Guy episode "Screwed the Pooch" (which provides the page image): As Brian and Sea Breeze move into a run-down motel, the owner warns them about the roach problem. They are encountered by some gigantic Hispanic-accented roaches in the bathroom wielding knives and wearing bandannas.

 Roach 1: Hey, you're on our turf, man!

Roach 2: Hey man, I cut you- I cut you up so bad, you- you gon- you gonna wish I no cut you up so bad!

  • On an episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, Buzz is teleported to what he thinks is a planet of roach-like aliens, but it turns out to be actual roaches in the local Greasy Spoon.
  • The Penguins of Madagascar once had to save some cockroaches from Officer X. It was especially hard on Private.
  • Futurama features an alien race called Cygnoids, who resemble roaches and eat like them, too.
  • Kim Possible offers a subversion and an inversion. A mad scientist uses a device to enlarge and mentally enslave cockroaches for his own private army, but they're no bigger than a small dog. Ron, who in that episode showed an intense fear of bugs, isn't that frightened of them, but Kim is. Ron eventually befriends one of the roaches who strayed behind, noting that, at this size, cockroaches aren't that scary-looking. Kim still stays freaked out, as does everyone else, as Ron and Rufus bond with Roachie. Ron even learns to speak Roachie's language, and Roachie saves the day by being able to communicate with the one actual giant roach the mad scientist created. He convinces the giant roach to make a Heel Face Turn and go after the mad scientist.
  • The short-lived Santo Bugito features a group of mariachi-singing roaches who occasionally narrate the plot and action.
  • Completely averted in one episode of Superjail where the two gay prison inmates, Jean and Paul, bred the world's strongest cockroach to win a Superjail Science fair. Not only does it save them when it's hit by the Warden's Growth Serum, but it's anthropomorphized behavior (lifting dumb-bells and smoking) make it more appealing than the assaulting mutant insects that grew and escaped from the Warden's terrorarium.
  • In one episode of Justice League, Superman gets thrown 30,000 years into a post-apocalyptic red-sunned future, where he and Vandal Savage have to infiltrate a nest of giant cockroaches to recover the power-source for Savage's time machine.

Real Life

  • In some places, giant cockroaches are kept as bizarre pets. These are usually not the same kinds of cockroaches you find under the kitchen sink.
  • Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are a popular pet for bug enthusiasts due to their inability to bite, docile temperament, and easy handling.
  • Russian idiom "tarakany v golove" ("cockroaches in one's head") means not quite sane, crazy, off kilter.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.