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Published:April 27th, 2014 12:29 EST
Seven Overused Monsters in Media

Seven Overused Monsters in Media

By Derek Sanders

Humans have always had a large fascination with the supernatural. Be it out of terror, awe, or affection, the monsters that have appeared in stories all over the world have captured our imagination. However, people have noticed that some creatures have been appearing in different media more than others. While some monsters have been receiving minor parts at best, certain ones have been getting several main features in stories around the world.

Vampires - First popularized by Bram Stoker`s Dracula, vampires are usually portrayed as bloodsucking monsters. Human in appearance, they have supernatural abilities. The weaknesses they are portrayed with vary between interpretation but the most common one is a fatal weakness to sunlight, which causes them to turn to ash. Some older works gave them the ability to turn into a bat, but this element tends to be looked over in more modern works. In modern times, vampires tend to be either the classic villainous bloodsuckers, tough action heroes as shown in the Underworld movies, or romantic sex symbols as in Twilight. 

Werewolves - Perhaps just as prevalent as vampires in media are their archrivals, werewolves. Though they are typically depicted as half-man/half-wolf creatures, how wolf-like or human-like they are varies between works, as does how their change is affected by the moon and how weakened they are by exposure to silver. Though they tend to be more animalistic than vampires, they too have been given the sex symbol treatment with recent productions like the Twilight series and the MTV show Teen Wolf. In addition, they have been featured in many works, like the Underworld series, where they are put in direct conflict with vampires.

Zombies - Seen across all forms of media in some way in the past few years, zombies have been seen so frequently that some people around the Internet think that zombie works count as their own sub-genre. As the creature most commonly associated with the term the living dead ", first popularized with George A. Romero`s 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead, they are generally the corpses of the recently deceased come back to life, usually via a virus in many modern works, to feast of the flesh (or brains) of the living and any living person that gets bitten by one will die after a short time, then come back as another zombie. Zombies have become very prevalent in pop culture with large franchises like Resident Evil, The Walking Dead, and Romero`s continuing works in the genre gaining mainstream popularity.

Ghosts - For as long as there have been abandoned places, there have been rumors about spirits that haunt them. Ghosts, said to be the spirits of people that have died but have not moved on to the afterlife, are popular topics in stories about the supernatural. They are often said to be able to pass through solid objects, disappear and reappear, and possess the living. The Paranormal Activity series is the most recent movie series to gain popularity by using undead spirits as its main antagonists and several shows on the Syfy channel have gained large followings through investigating haunted locations, most notably, the show Ghost Hunters.

Dragons - Dragons are easily one of the mainstays of fantasy works. Normally depicted as gigantic reptilian creatures that can use large wings to fly and have the ability to breathe fire, dragons have been referenced in the folklore of cultures all over the world from Europe to South America to China. Dragons have seen usage in many different works, some of the most popular being J.R.R. Tolkien`s The Hobbit, the Game of Thrones series, and the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. Dragons depicted in modern media can differ wildly from original depictions with differences in size, flight capability, breath weapon, intelligence, and morality.

Orcs - Portrayed as the main force of the evil army in The Lord of The Rings, orcs are humanoid monsters, said by some to be fiercer versions of ogres. They tend to be large, muscular, and aggressive creatures. Popularized in J.R.R. Tolkien`s The Lord of the Rings, orcs have appeared in several medieval fantasy works including Dungeons & Dragons, World of Warcraft, and The Elder Scrolls, serving as the brutish foot soldiers for an evil army.

Kitsune - Though not as common in Western productions, the kitsune, a multi-tailed demon fox, is very popular in Japanese ancient mythology and modern media, particularly anime and video games. The kitsune is one of many different types of yokai, Japanese monsters and spirits that run the entire range of behaviors from benign and helpful to evil and murderous to annoying and mischievous to simply wanting some peace and quiet. Usually regarded as a trickster, the kitsune is said to have multiple supernatural powers including shapeshifting, casting illusions, creating copies of itself, and controlling fire. Kitsune are featured in large parts in action anime series like Naruto and InuYasha and is the inspiration for several different creatures from the Pokemon series.