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"...a kind of giant space-going shark, a moving appetite, a vast, fast, terrible eating-machine which saw its purpose to be turning everything edible in the universe into shark shit."
"You still don't understand what you're dealing with, do you? The perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility. ... I admire its purity. A survivor ... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality."
Ash, Alien

The alien horde approaches. They don't necessarily want to give us a Face Full of Alien Wingwong, or be The Virus and transform us, or what all... they're just into adding biomass by whatever means necessary and as fast as possible.

Because the only purpose they have in life, the be-all and end-all of their existence, is the conversion of all organic matter in the universe into more of them. They don't do diplomacy, because you don't bargain with lunch. This is, of course, always cause for a Bug War.

Most Locust Hordes use, or are, Organic Technology. However, Nanomachines can also become a Horde -- the (in)famous "Grey Goo" scenario.

Compare To Serve Man and the slightly less extreme (as in, they are intelligent and only want inorganic resources) Planet Looters, and do not confuse them with Insectoid Aliens, who may or may not be this trope. Horde of Alien Locusts is a common way to set up a Guilt-Free Extermination War, since it's a fight between a group that wants to eat everything and the groups that don't want to be eaten. Not necessarily related to Giant Space Flea From Nowhere. Related to The Swarm

Examples of Horde of Alien Locusts include:


Anime & Manga

  • In the manga version of Chrono Crusade, demons' bodies are built out of "legion", much like humans with cells, but they have the power to rebuild themselves to regenerate wounds. However, when Aion corrupts the legion, they are released into Earth's atmosphere and begin to eat away at humans. Aion's plan is to "rebuild" the world by using the legion in this way to destroy all life as we know it. He also says that those with a "strong will" can control the legion, which for them turns the legion into something more like The Virus.
  • The Vajra from Macross Frontier. Subverted in that it turns out that they're not out to destroy the Frontier fleet, but rather on a misunderstood rescue mission since they see Ranka and (to an extent Sheryl) as one of their own owing to the fact that she can communicate via fold waves through her singing. The whole image of a Horde of Alien Locusts was conjured by the conspirators from the Frontier and Galaxy fleets to hide their true goals, to take over the Vajra fold communication network and use it to control the galaxy.
  • Vandread has this for the Human Race of Earth, who kill entire planets of people that have colonized elsewhere so they can harvest them for their organs.

Comic Books

  • The Org of PLASM (italics and caps in the original) featured in Jim Shooter's short-lived Defiant Comics was a world-sized organism that had to feed to remain healthy. Its natives, the Plasmoids, used organic spacefleets to conquer other worlds and mulch their ecosystems into "gore for the Org."
  • An issue of Ms. Marvel features her fighting a dimension-hopping sorcerer. He intends to maroon her on an alternate Earth where a Horde of Alien Locusts descends upon the planet (in about five minutes...) and picks it clean in minutes.
  • The Ultimate Marvel version of Galactus combines this trope with Planet Eater.
  • Marvel Zombies turns the protagonists into this.
  • In Michael Moorcock's Multiverse, the antagonist served by the the forces of Law is the Original Insect - a creature which consumes entire planes of reality in order to process them into Singularity.
  • The Dan Dare story 'The Red Moon Mystery' featured "space bees" that would strip planets of organic life.
  • The Space Ghost comic miniseries has Zorak as the leader of a planet-ravaging horde of man-sized alien mantis'.

Fan Fiction

  • A fanfiction example in Brian Randall's Process of Elimination. Aforementioned horde is original flavor, and pretty imaginative. It's a Ranma 1/2 fiction.

Film

  "They're like locusts. They travel from planet to planet, their whole civilization. After they've consumed every natural resource they move on. And we're next."

  • The creatures in Battle: Los Angeles are apparently after Earth's water; they set up massive machines to drain the ocean and seem to be powering their devices, and even their own bodies, with it.

Literature

  • Moties in The Mote in God's Eye.
  • The Dreen from John Ringo's Into the Looking Glass novels
  • The Posleen from John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series.
  • The Probes from Von Neumann's War, by Travis S. Taylor and John Ringo. Ringo seems to like this trope.
  • The Swarm Mother from the Wild Cards shared-world anthologies
  • The Chtorran ecosystem from David Gerrold's The War Against the Chtorr
  • The Black Mass from the Star Trek: New Frontier book series
  • Slight variation used in the second of the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde, Lost In A Good Book: Thursday's time-traveling father discovers a glitch in the timeline that, if it comes to pass, will result in all organic matter on Earth being reduced to a strange and sinister pink goo. It turns out to be the result of nanomachines designed to convert inedible matter into food, only the nanomachines take over the planet. And turn us all into strawberry-flavored ice cream topping.
  • The Arachnid Omnivoracity from Starfire. Tabletop game and series of books co-written by David Weber.
  • The Klikiss from The Saga of Seven Suns.
  • The Hivers from Anne McCaffrey's Talents series.
  • Greenfly, in Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space 'verse, fall under the green goo variety.
  • The Primes from Peter F Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga.
  • As one might guess from the page quote, Callahans Crosstime Saloon features an alien race named the Cockroaches who embody this.
  • The Vermicious Knids in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator are said by Willy Wonka to have caused the extinction of life on the Moon, Venus, Mars and many other planets. They are unable, however, to survive the friction caused by entering Earth's atmosphere.
  • The Slaver Sunflowers. from Larry Niven's Known Space, are a vegetable version. They exist to turn all other life into fertilizer for themselves.
  • The Unclean from the Star Trek series "Invasion!". They need three things: warp cores, for energy; new DNA, to re-engineer themselves into useful forms; and BRAAAINS, for intelligence. (Why can't they just grow their own?)
  • The Vord of the Codex Alera are a Captain Ersatz of the Zerg in a lot of ways, including following this trope. Their Hive Mind is actually highly intelligent, but its attitude towards other lifeforms can easily be summed up as "assimilate or eat".
    • They start out that way, but by the end they have developed a willingness to use human slaves while still alive, if they can be reliably mind controlled, instead of just as food or after snatching their bodies. The queen even offers to let some humans surrender and she keeps them to play house with.
      • Though this is part of the fact that the Vord Queen is essentially defective. She is too human and her eccentricity is viewed as a critical flaw by all her daughter queens who quickly decide that she needs to be eliminated. Its actually part of the Vord programming as it were that their primary objective is to maintain their purity and singularity.
  • The Grik of taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series are a modified version of this. First, they're reptilian, not insectoid. Second they're divided into two castes, the worker/soldier Uul who fit the locust swarm trope to a T and the aristocratic Hij who are the rulers and fairly intelligent and individualistic.
  • Discussed in Excession in the context of out-of-control self-replicating autonomous spacecraft, referred to as "Aggressive Hegemonising Swarm Objects". A common enough occurrence in the "The Culture" for the galactic community to have set up various task-forces and organisations to prevent them becoming too big. However, it's more common for the Aggressive Hegemonising Swarm to be composed of self replicating machines, rather than living beings.
    • It also says something about the nature of Culture society when Hegemonising Swarms / Space Locusts are a common "villain" in Culture children's stories.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe novels have the Piranha Beetles of Yavin 4.
  • The Tour of the Merrimack series has the ravenous, all-consuming Hive, who are among other things the only known species that can digest protein of either handedness.
  • The Forerunners in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series were the first semi-biological creatures in the galaxy (possibly, the Universe). Composed of proto-matter encased in a magnetic bubble, they move in a giant swarm and consume all matter in their path, save for stars which are too hot. They reproduce by mitosis (i.e. division), and killing one usually results in the creation of several smaller ones. Like moths, they are guided by starlight but are smart enough to avoid getting too close. The Forerunners were responsible for wiping out three Precursor civilizations 3 million years ago, the descendants of only two of these still remain, mostly unaware of their former greatness. They were only stopped by the Heroic Sacrifice of an entire race of Fish People, who suicide-bombed stars to burn the swarm until all their stars were gone, but all the Forerunners were dead as well. Even their natural enemies the entriphages could not keep the Forerunners in line. When the humans later found several inert Forerunners, a Corrupt Corporate Executive decides to see if they can be useful and has them revived. They nearly wipe out two battle fleets before being destroyed for good.
    • The Forerunners are discovered to be malfunctioning biological machines, whose original programming got corrupted by a solar flare, leaving only their most basic functions (e.g. feeding, reproduction, self-preservation). They were created by the first sentient being in the Universe, an Energy Being forming in the magnetic fields of a gas giant. The Forerunners' original purpose was to carry copies of the creature to other star systems and galaxies in order to ensure its survival. Over time, many died, and their remains ended up on habitable worlds, where their DNA seeded life throughout the Universe. And yes, some people do indeed call the original creature God, even though the creation of biological life was a side-effect, and it doesn't care about us.
  • The Ifrits of the Corean Chronicles are a slow-acting version of this, leaning toward Planet Looters. They create bridges between their current world and a new one, which is terraformed and then populated with all forms of life. They produce beautiful civilizations and art. The catch? The entire time, they're feeding on the Life Energy of the world. Within a few centuries or millennium, they can suck an entire world dry of its energy before moving on to the next one.
    • They actually believe this is a service to the universe at large. By doing this, they allow the world to shine like a jewel for a brief time, rather than lingering dull and unimpressive for an eternity.
  • The Nesk in Animorphs in In The Time of Dinosaurs.


Live Action TV

  • The Stargate Verse has Replicators, which are Exactly What It Says on the Tin (at least, until the Asurans of Stargate Atlantis start getting called by the same name. While they work exactly like the Replicators, their goal isn't "tear stuff up to make more.")
  • Lexx had Mantrid's drones, little helper robots that he deliberately turned into a locust horde after he became fused with a member of an alien race that wanted to destroy all humans. Lexx being what it is, he succeeds in turning the overwhelming majority of the universe's matter into drones. So many that he was Hoist by His Own Petard: using almost all the universe's matter against the Lexx made gravity a problem and resulted in a Big Crunch (or "Big Collapse," as Kai called it.) After the Mantrid arc is over, the opening narration is removed because it calls the Lexx the most powerful weapon in the two universes - and there aren't two universes anymore.
    • Lexx also had the Lyekka aliens in the final season, a group of very hungry plants with a mother ship roughly twice the size of Earth's moon that would attach to a planet and strip it of all bio-matter to feed their insatiable hunger. This again being Lexx the aliens are only destroyed after eating a large number of worlds, killing billions and nearly eating the Earth (though it still blows up).
  • The Stingray creatures in the Doctor Who 2009 Easter Special "Planet of the Dead".
    • Also, the Rachnoss, a reborn-from-near-extinction species that the Doctor murders in their crib in "The Runaway Bride", mainly because there is no way to talk them out of their instinct to consume the Earth and other planets, at least not while they are still children.
    • In a way, this trope also fits the Daleks, except for them it's not so much instinct and hunger, but a deliberate choice. (Well, insofar as a species genetically designed to hate everything else has a "choice".) Their modus operandi is to exterminate other species, and then use their biomass and resources to make more Daleks, in order to exterminate more.
      • I think the aliens you are looking for here is "the Cybermen."
  • The Magog from Andromeda.
  • "We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance Is Futile."
  • An earthbound variant is the man-of-bugs from "What's My Line" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Tabletop Games

  • The Tyranid Hive Fleets of Warhammer 40000 have been encroaching on the 40k galaxy for centuries. If they take a world, they kill and devour every living thing (taking useful traits from the creatures to improve their hordes of bio-engineered monsters), eat the soil, drink the oceans and suck up the atmosphere. They also use The Virus in the form of the Xenomorph-esque Genestealers to destabilize potential opposition. It is implied that they have already stripped at least one galaxy of all available biomass, and their current campaign of destruction is merely the next course, and then confirmed (5th edition rulebook, page 166) that they have consumed a dozen galaxies prior to coming to the one we know and love. Partially inspired by the Xenomorphs from Alien.
    • And it's implied that the Tyranids are running from something--but what could scare a Horde of Alien Locusts? If it is something that can scare the Tyranids, a race with determination of an ant colony, some of the bigger beasts reaching all the way up to Juggernaut status, I shudder to think of what kind of potentially unholy creatures they are, and if/when they will arrive.
      • Universe's biggest flyswatter?
      • It might have something to do with the Necrons, as it's implied that Tyranids make a point of staying far away from Necron tomb-worlds. It would make sense when you consider that Tyranids and Necrons are polar opposites: the Tyranids exist to continually grow and expand until they're the only living things left, while the Necrons exist only to exterminate every single living thing for their C'tan masters.
    • Rogue Trader also has the Rak'Gol, eight-limbed alien monsters who can take on Space Marines in melee, and come in huge hordes. They are among the most dangerous creatures found in the game.
  • The Planet Eaters from Monsterpocalypse, as their name implies. The Savage Swarm aren't aliens, but they are Big Creepy-Crawlies with insatiable appeties.
  • The RPG Nightbane had Shadow Mantis/Locust which rather unsurprisingly are exactly this, except they eat inorganic material as well and are mostly wiped out nowdays.
  • 2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons contains a good number of these such as:
    • The Horde, which are an elemental (and Lawful Evil, ironically) race of insects which vary in size and shape from horde to horde, with all members of a particular horde being identical (i.e., sometimes they will appear as 20 ft. tall golden mantids other times they may appear as foot-long black beetles). They attack and consume anything that is not from their particular horde, even other hordes.
    • Spelljammer introduced the Witchlight Marauders - a multi-staged sequential bioweapon made by the Orcs during the Unhuman Wars for completely devastating entire Elven worlds via consumption and ultraviolence. After they kill every living thing on the planet they then turn on themselves. [1]
    • There was some fungus from Abyss that gradually eats everything. An attempt to get rid a world of the infestation destroying it by banishing all fungus to the plane of Vacuum only made it mutate further into Egarus - which is said to devour the existence as such: anything and anyone that was left close to it for too long simply vanishes.

Video Games

  • The Kha'ak in the X-Universe games. The Xenon are the mechanical version - being rogue terraforming robots, their only purpose is to build more of themselves, and to "terraform" everything in sight.
  • The Zerg from Starcraft (based on the Xenomorphs and the Bugs from Starship Troopers) have a fairly similar approach, including the assimilation of new species into the Zerg swarm based on their useful traits -- although they were forced into this through Xel'Naga modifications, after previously being a race of docile, harmless worms. Though they infest and consume the resources of planets, their goal under the Overmind was actually the achievement of physical purity by genetically assimilating the Protoss. The sequel gives more background information on the Overmind, which infested Sarah Kerrigan to eventually relinquish control of the Zerg swarm to her. This would thereby prevent an Eldritch Abomination from using them as an army for universal genocide.
  • Smoke's ending in Mortal Kombat Armageddon has him fusing with his fellow Cyberninjas Sektor and Cyrax and doing the Nanomachine version of this.
  • The Flood from the Halo series are somewhere between Alien Locusts and The Virus.
    • The Drones probably qualify as well. If what they did to the New Mombassa tunnel system is any indication, they could probably rival in the Flood in numbers and environmental damage if allowed to run rampant.
  • The Frythans in Seven Kingdoms even gain one of their primary resources, Life Points, mostly by killing enemies, and it's required to breed more.
  • The Vortex and Foe of Ecco the Dolphin, though with the Vortex it's more explicit.
  • One of the dreams of Mantis from Conquest Frontier Wars is to 'Mush terrans into a milky white paste and dance over the earth drunk on their liquefied corpses.'
  • The Strogg from the Quake series. On a couple of occasions, you get to see the inside of their factories.
  • Jak and Daxter gave us the Metal Heads, who are a horde of alien locust/mammal/reptile things varying from small but rapid scorpion-things to colossal juggernauts that are nearly impossible to kill. While it isn't absolutely clear what their long-term goals are (or, for that matter, even if they have long-term goals), their rapacious swarming over everything within areas not heavily shielded and devoid of a handy One-Man Army puts them squarely within this trope.
  • Locusts and Silicoids from Sword of the Stars each embody this in a different way. Silicoids, also known as 'Swarms' are scilicon-based space-bugs who live in asteroid-belt and are mainly pests - a Swarmer Hive will send out a Scilicoid Queen every 10 turns, aimed at a nearby planet with an asteroid-field, and establish a new hive there if it isn't killed on the way. That hive will send out a new queen 10 turns later, and so on. Attacking either a hive or a queen gets you a fight with a swarm of angry drones, so you better hope you remembered to bring point-defense systems. The Locusts, meanwhile, are not actual bugs but robots, and as such consume inorganic material, but they otherwise follow the trope to a tee (they're not Planet Looters because they're utterly mindless and attack in bug-like swarms). The Locust Hiveworld will move slowly and deliberately across the map, draining the resources out of every planet it comes across (rendering them functionally useless), and - once it has gathered enough resources in this way - it will spawn a second Hiveworld. Left to its own devices, the Hiveworlds will turn every last bit of resources in the galaxy into more of themselves. Most players would rather face the Deathstar-like System Killer than the Locusts...
    • The Von Neummans are an intelligent example: while they are certainly resource-hungry robots, they react to someone blasting them apart by sending an ultra-cool looking "berserker" to eradicate the colony (presumably so that they can mop up the pieces later), and if that fails, they send a Construct, because at that point, the potential resources from the soon-to-be annihilated planet just isn't worth the threat of the base on it. They even create their own homeworld in some games.
  • The Eaters from Chimera Beast are mindless aliens that eat everything organic to grow stronger, starting from their own planet. This time, though, you play as one of the Locusts.
  • The aparoids from Star Fox Assault qualify due to the fact that when you fight the queen at the end, she insists that the entire universe and everything in it would be consumed by them.
  • The Mycons of Star Control certainly qualify for this trope. Though they are a bit slower than other examples of this trope, they see it as their long-term goal to convert all "Non" to "Juffo-Wup". They turn out to be a terraforming biotech whose programming has drifted from its original purpose over thousands of years. Nice job breaking it, Precursors. Also the Slylandro Probes, which are a more urgent problem.
  • World of Warcraft has the Qiraji, insectoid monsters under the control of C'thun. While they don't come from space, they were sealed away from the rest of the world for millenia, giving their sudden reappearance a similar effect.
  • The titular Bio Metals are said to be this in the game's intro.
  • The Dom Z from Beyond Good and Evil.

Web Comics

  • Aylee's species from Sluggy Freelance - aliens with the ability to alter their form to adapt to different environments and to emulate beings around them - view it as their holy duty to consume all other life and destroy worlds to spread themselves across the universe. From a more naturalistic point of view, this is probably just a rationalisation they've come up with for their nature as macroscopic equivalents of bacteria that infect and kill entire planets.

Western Animation

  • The nanomachine version is used in an episode of Justice League Unlimited. They species appears to be made artificially for a war from fifty-thousand years ago, and is meant to consume every planet they're sent to, spread to some other planets, and repeat until they're all dead.
  • In Transformers we have the Insecticons, a literal swarm of alien locusts (and weevils and stag beetles). Unlike most Transformers, they don't live simply on energon. Instead they eat everything--including, in the comics, meat.
  • The Matrix in Gargoyles was in danger of becoming an assimilation-happy version of this in nanomachine form until it fused with Dingo's Powered Armor...But there's always the potential for future hijinks!
  • In the Xiaolin Showdown episode "Dangerous Minds", Jack Spicer accidentally releases a horde of Giant Spiders. According to the ancient legends, "The spiders are neither good nor evil. They are merely... consumers. They consume vegetation, animals, buildings, even the earth itself. They eat... until there is nothing left to eat."
    • There is also a Shen Gong Wu that releases a horde of stone locusts that luckily are solely herbivorous, but really quick at it. It was found in the episode in which the once-appearing villain was a plant, not stoppable in any other way.
  • The Parasprites in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. They started off eating every edible thing that they could get their teeth on, until Twilight casted a spell to remove their hunger for food. Whereupon they started eating everything else instead.
    • The Changelings give off this particular vibe as well, what with their less-than-subtle similarities with to Zerg. The only difference being that they feed on love instead of ponies themselves.

Other

  • Hysteria from Extraterrestrial. Actually, more of a aquatic-based fungus made up of individual cells that can combine to form a deadly, venomous goo-like form.

Real Life?

Notes

  1. For those interested, the cycles unfolds as such: The space marauders are 1000' crocodilian heads with sails and tentacles, zapping everything that didn't run away with focused reflected light and explosive projectiles. They launch primary marauders (200' ravenous slugs) at enemy worlds. The primaries would proceed to devour everything in their path, up to mineral deposits, belch poisonous gas and periodically eject 2-20 secondary marauders - 20' tall vaguely humanoid monsters with metal teeth and (poisoned) claws - capable of climbing sheer walls and obsessed with killing anything that smells like an elf. The secondaries, once full of hot fey meat, would then (you guessed it) birth 1-4 tertiary marauders - 4' tall humanoid berserkers with swords for hands, very fast and as hungry as their progenitors. Once the primaries got their fill of sylvan carnage they'd burrow deep into the ground and split into two new primaries to start the grisly cycle all over again.
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