The Giant squid's elusive nature and fearsome appearance have long made it a popular subject of legends and folk tales. Its popularity as an image continues today with references and depictions in literature, film, television, and video games.
Often, the giant squid is represented as being in dramatic, evenly-matched combat with a sperm whale. This powerful image is no longer considered accurate given the evidence that exists for a simpler predator-prey relationship between whale and squid, with the whale being the predator and the squid the prey.
- Chapter 59 ("Squid") of Moby-Dick details the Pequod's encounter with a giant (or perhaps colossal) squid.
- Captain Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus, fights a band of seven giant squid in Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
- H. P. Lovecraft frequently used tentacled, squid-like monsters in his Cthulhu mythos.
- In J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the Fellowship come up against the Watcher in the Water, a monster that lurks in the waters of the Sirannon, beneath the western walls of Moria. Although Tolkien's description is vague, the creature is frequently depicted as a giant squid or kraken with varying (often exaggerated) numbers of tentacles, and appeared as such in the 2001 film.
- James Bond fights a giant squid in Ian Fleming's book, Dr. No.
- John Wyndham's book The Kraken Wakes depicts an invasion of squid-like aliens.
- Jaws' author Peter Benchley's novel Beast features a giant squid terrorizing Bermuda. A TV movie (IMDB entry) was also made. However Benchley's description of the Beast (with clawlike teeth in the center of its suckers) more accurately describes the Colossal Squid.
- The River Moth, which flows through author Jeff VanderMeer's fictional city of Ambergris, is inhabited by giant squid. The city is named after ambergris, a substance secreted by sperm whales.
- A giant squid is a key player in Michael Crichton's novel Sphere, as well as in the film version.
- A giant squid acts as a minor character in Charles Sheffield's novel The Web Between the Worlds.
- A giant squid also dwells in the lake at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series of books, and sometimes acts as a lifeguard when students swim or fall in the lake.
- In one of the Animorphs books, two of the group morph sperm whales, and all six morph giant squid.
- In Arthur C. Clarke's novel Childhood's End, one of the characters stows away on an alien spacecraft by hiding inside a model of a giant squid battling a whale.
Film and television
- The Doctor Who episode The Power of Kroll (1978) features a carnivorous monster resembling a giant squid (the largest monster ever seen in the series) which lives at the bottom of a swampy lake, and is worshipped by the natives (despite the fact that it sometimes eats them).
- In the Futurama episode The Deep South, Fry and Umbriel cheer at a fight between a sperm whale and a giant squid.
- In the Family Guy episode Death Is a Bitch, a giant squid appears as an uninvited and threatening guest in the Griffin home that they choose to "just ignore and pretend it doesn't exist."
- The title of the film The Squid and the Whale refers to the popularly imagined combat between sperm whale and giant squid, specifically as depicted in the diorama at New York's American Museum of Natural History, which the main character visits in the last scene of the movie.
- The Beast, a 1996 film (with William Petersen, Karen Sillas) is about a giant squid terrorizing a Pacific NW Island, based on Peter Benchley's novel.
- At the end of Rugrats Go Wild, Nigel Thornberry & the Rugrats see a live giant squid.
- An episode of the TV show Invader Zim which was unaired in the United States called "Zim Eats Waffles" shows Dib watching Zim battling a "Giant Flesh-Eating Demon Squid" to the disbelief of his colleagues.
- The Squid becomes a contender in Animal Face-Off against the sperm whale
- In the The Replacements episode The Means Justify the Trend, a giant squid can be seen attacking a submarine.
- The documentary series The Future Is Wild depicts certain species of squid evolving into land-based, air breathing forms culminating in the tall, 8 ton "Megasquid" 200 millions years in the future. Other squid species include an ocean-dwelling, long "Rainbow Squid" capable of highly sophisticated optical camouflage and color alterations, and the small, arboreal "Squibbon", highly agile terrestrial squid which spend their lives swinging through the branches of massive lichen trees of the future. It is implied that the Squibbon may someday evolve into Earth's next sapient life form.
- The giant squid was #3 in the Most Extreme episode, Body Parts. The reason it was #3 was because its eyes are as big as basketballs. in fact, the giant squid has the largest eyes of any living animal.
- A giant squid fighting a sperm whale is shown on the album cover of They Might Be Giants' Apollo 18.
- A song by the heavy metal group "Tourniquet" titled "Architeuthis" is about the mysteries of the giant squid.
- The indie group Modest Mouse sold shirts on tour in the year 2001 featuring a giant squid fighting a sperm whale.
- Folk Rock Singer/Songwriter Jonathan Coulton's EP Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow includes a song, "I Crush Everything," about a remorseful giant squid.
- Squid in general - and giant squid in particular - are mentioned in several songs written by Robyn Hitchcock, notably the Soft Boys' song Underwater Moonlight
- Large squid-like monsters called Bloopers are common enemies of the video game character Mario. In a few games giant Bloopers serve as bosses.
- In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, mind-controlled giant squids are one of the most powerful naval units in the Soviet arsenal.
- In the Sega Dreamcast game Skies of Arcadia, the main character fights (in a ship battle) a giant squid named Obispo.
- In the game Soulcalibur III, the character Nightmare gains a "giant" squid as his joke weapon.
- In the game "Jaws Unleashed", the shark encounters a Colossal squid in a level called "the Deep". Juvenile Colossal Squid can be encountered in free roam mode. The squid in the level "The Deep" is very exaggerated, if JAWS is in the game then the giant squid is at least .
- In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, Sly and the gang attempt to subdue the legendary giant squid known as "Crusher" in order for them to defeat Blood Bath Bay's main antagonist, Captain Lefwee. After an arduous battle between Crusher and Sly's crew aboard a pirate ship of their own, they are able to subdue the giant creature and possess its mind with the help of The Guru for use in their operation.
- In BioShock, when entering the fictional city Rapture aboard an underwater elevator, a giant squid can be seen for a fair amount of time before it moves away, either fleeing from the elevator, or from the whale seen almost immediately afterwards. Later in the game, a dead giant squid can be seen in a display case.
- In Endless Ocean for the Wii, a giant squid can be found in the Abyss, along with a Sperm Whale.