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For something is amiss or out of place
—Theodore Roethke, "The Bat"
Bats are creepy for many people. They often seem rats with wings to us, they are thought to spread rabies, and apparently like to hang out in all sorts of dark, foreboding places (caves, bell towers, abandoned houses, castles, crypts, etc). Three species (out of over 1,000!) are infamous for drinking blood, and have led to a strong association between bats and vampires. As such, bats frequently show up as antagonists in horror themed media. Can be roughly divided into a few types:
- Normal bats: Frequently depicted as The Swarm; a shrieking mass of menacing wings, regardless of whether or not they pose any actual danger to the cast.
- Dire Bats: Larger and more vicious than normal bats, and menacing even without The Swarm to back them up.
- Were Bats: Monstrous, anthropomorphic creatures with a mixture of bat and human features.
- Robo Bats: Robotic bats
Vampires can sometimes transform into these.
In Real Life bats aren't actually all that bad, and probably among the most unfairly maligned animals. Most bat species only eat insects or fruit, and many species are very useful to mankind as pest-eaters, pollinators and so on. The "shrieking" is often closer to benign chirping/clicking. And they may even look cute.
The part about them spreading rabies is sort of true, though; the species is a natural reservoir for the virus (and also for the SARS virus), and if a bat's found in somebody's living space it's standard protocol to treat them for rabies just in case, especially since it's possible for a bat to bite you without you noticing, particularly if you're intoxicated or asleep. Only about 0.5% of bats in the United States actually have the rabies virus, but the small yearly number of human cases in the country can basically be divided into people who got bitten by mad dogs and people who got bitten by infected bats.
This is not Goddamned Bats (which is about any kind of annoying video game enemy), but the two categories frequently overlap.
Not to be confused with the album by Meat Loaf.
- The Chiropterans in Blood Plus take the vampire/bat comparison and run with it (check out the name). Even the humanoid chiropterans get batlike features when they go One-Winged Angel.
- Ulquiorra Schiffer from Bleach is one of these.
- In Yaiba, the strongest of the Hakki is the Batman (or Bat-Guy in the anime). See also Our Vampires Are Different.
- Minor demon Blackie in Wedding Peach is a bat.
- Magic: The Gathering has a few bats of the huge and monstrous variety under the domain of Black, such as the Blind Hunter and the Grimclaw Bats.
- Batman chose the bat as his symbol due to its fear-inducing properties (because bats specifically scared him a child, and/or the superstitious nature of criminals in general). One of his villains, Man-Bat, is a Were Bat.
- The Batcave is appropriately named, not only because of its owner but for the many, many bats that live down there. Gotta wonder how Batman keeps the place clean with one butler...
- His 'Heroic Brutality' in Mortal Kombat versus DC Universe is attaching a sonic device to his foe's chest that attracts a swarm of bats to torment them.
- He also does this to some Thanagarian mooks in Justice League when they attack the Batcave.
Thanagarian: Your weapons are pitiful!
- He did the same to a large crowd in broad daylight as early as Batman, Year One.
- There's also Batman/Dracula: Red Rain, in which Batman becomes Vampire Batman.
- The Marvel Comics version of Dracula could transform himself into a giant bat, or a bat/human hybrid.
- Marvel also has Batwing, who manly showed up in Untold Stories of Spider-Man. A Man-Bat homage by Kurt Busiek.
- Dracula and his wives in Van Helsing can turn into a werebat. Their children were also bat creatures.
- Marcus Corvinus of the Underworld series is the very first vampire, and significantly more bat-like than every other vampire. However, this is only after his corpse ingests Lycan blood, and his becoming a hybrid was overridden by his vampire genes, making him able to change into a batlike form.
- The latest King Kong film features a cave of Dire Bats.
- Technically, A Natural History of Skull Island identifies these creatures as winged carnivorous rodents, not true bats. Their looks still play off the killer-bat-from-hell trope, however.
- Fern Gully's giant bat was actually a normal bat who just looks huge in comparison to fairies. He's also friendly, if a little addled.
- The giant bats in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom were actually real bats—but not vampire bats, contrary to what Indy says.
- Many large bats in Real Life have been saddled with taxonomic names containing vampire references, so Indy might well have been misled by this.
- "DIE, DEVIL BIRD!!!" (No, it's not that the bats are actually creepy, but hell, his reaction is hilarious.)
- "TAKE THAT, YOU WINGED SPAWN OF SATAAN!!!"
- ...and for those who might actually have missed it, Ace loves all animals... except bats, which he fears and loathes.
- A giant bat steals Jeff Portnoy's bag of "jellybeans" (actually cocaine) in Tropic Thunder.
- In the 1999 horror film Bats, people start to die in a small Texas town and the prime suspects are bats. A specialist in bats is called in, and reveals that the bats have been engineered to be become a deadly human-hunting cooperative.
- A Direct-To-TV sequel to this film, Bats: Human Harvest, was made by the Sci Fi Channel in 2007.
- The "crystal bats" in The Dark Crystal.
- Turned around in the Argentine computer animated movie Plumiferos (free birds). Clarita the bat frightens Feifi the sparrow at first during her new life of freedom out of her cage, but the misunderstanding is cleared and they become good friends.
- Averted in the 1997 film, Anastasia. Bartok the albino bat objects to his master's heinous acts, and gets beaten up by demonic insects. He got his own sequel called Bartok the Magnificent.
- The rat-bat-spider creature in 1960 Sci Fi film The Angry Red Planet.
- The Gyaos from the Gamera films are giant man-eating bats.
- It should be noted, however, that the Heisei Gamera films refer to them as genetically engineered birds.
- One of the more prominent threats in the Monster Mash climax of The Cabin in the Woods is a tiger-sized batlike predator, listed on the betting board as a "doombat".
- Stephen King's Graveyard Shift has giant bats that actually are mutant rats.
- The film version did away with the stupid bat/rat connection, and simply had two unrelated kinds of giant mutant killer mammals in the toxic cavern.
- And a rabid bat starts all the trouble in Cujo.
- The King Bats in The Princess Bride novel. They're one of the few things of which Fezzik is actually afraid.
- Subverted in Spellsinger, where Pog the bat (oversized and intelligent, like nearly all animals in that world) is one of the nicer characters in the series.
- Completely subverted (and also played straight, if you think about it) in Silverwing - the protagonists are bats. The story is about bats. Bats are the good guys, with birds and land mammals (the traditional heroes) as villains or at least bad-tempered (with a few exceptions). Granted, the main villain is also a bat...
- However, in the third book, Firewing Griffin and Luna are literally bats out of Hell.
- The pair of giant mutant bats in Vespers. They are also accompanied by huge swarms of normal bats, which are driven to attack by the influence of the giants.
- Oddly averted in Redwall, which normally plays "good" and "evil" animal stereotypes straight. Mossflower's bats are perfectly nice, help the heroes, and speak with an odd nervous tic, nervous tic, nervous tic ... This is explained by Word of God as the bats having spent their entire lives listening to their voices echo in the caves they live in, so now they provide their own echo.
- Averted in the children's book Stellaluna.
- The Red Court vampires of The Dresden Files universe are large, slimy bat-creatures who hide behind idealised human flesh-masks.
- The Underland Chronicles subverts this, as Dire Bats are the humans' most valuable allies.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's fantasy series The Sharing Knife features "malices" which create monstrous servants by magically twisting animals into more-or-less human bodies, with at least some semblance of human intelligence. In Horizon (the fourth and so far final book of the series) a malice gets hold of an enormous cave-ful of bats (one character notes there are millions of bats in some of the caves in that region) and winds up creating a flying army of creatures somewhere between "Dire Bats" and "Were Bats", while the malice itself takes the form of an especially large and eerily beautiful Were Bat.
- Gilligan's Island episode "Up At Bat". Gilligan is bitten by a large, nasty looking bat and thinks he's turning into a vampire.
- The Future Predators, Primeval's answer to the Daleks, are highly evolved flightless bats.
- Appearently inspired on the flightless bats of After Man a Zoology of The Future.
- In one episode of The Office, a bat winds up loose in the titular office. Jim, playing to Dwight's usual Genre Blindness, convinces him that he was bitten and is turning into a vampire.
- Sesame Street: One Elmo’s World episode features a topic about sleep, and in Dorothy’s imagination, Elmo is a bat that sleeps hanging upside down. Get it?
- An episode of Married... with Children has a throw-away gag where Peg opens one of the cabinets in the family's kitchen to reveal a mass of cobwebs and a large bat flapping around. She wisely just closes it again.
- Very large bats called "deathgleaners" appear in The Future Is Wild, and are creepy-looking predators and scavengers.
- The album trilogy of the same name by Meat Loaf surely deserves a mention. All three albums include cover art of a demonic bat (perhaps Satan in a beast form) in a hellish background and a muscle bound hero on a magic flying motorcycle. The animated video for "The Monster's Loose" brings all three album covers together by telling the story of the man with the motorcycle who rescues his (literally) angelic girlfriend from a giant bat. She narrowly escapes Distressed Damsel territory by saving him herself at one point.
- The Camazotz of Mayan mythology was a bat-god associated with night, death and sacrifice. The name literally translates as "death bat". In the Popol Vuh, Camazotz are the bat-like monsters encountered by the Mayan Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque during their trials in the underworld of Xibalba. The twins had to spend the night in the House of Bats where they squeeze themselves into their own blowguns in order to defend themselves. When Hunahpu stuck his head out of his blowgun to see if the sun had risen, Camazotz immediately snatched off his head and carried it to the ballcourt to be hung up as the ball to be used by the gods in their next ballgame.
- The "Moon-Hoax", a series of fake articles published in the New York Sun in the mid-19th century, convinced gullible readers that a new kind of telescope had revealed life forms on the moon's surface. At the climax of the series, a race of intelligent bat-people were "sighted", and subverted this trope by being peaceful vegetarians.
- Mortasheen has three, created by vampires to protect their larder of humans. There's Bullysnag, a gorilla like bat that is trained to always go for the kneecaps when hunting, Clawsimon, a spotlight-like bat designed to stop escaping humans, and Chiraptor, who is the vampire equivalent of a hunting falcon. The actual bat vampire, Sinister, as it prefers to be left alone amongst its hordes of mind-controlled bats.
- Vampire Counts from Warhammer have several bat units, including Bat Swarms (regular bat), Fell Bats (bigger bats), and Varghulfs (frickin' huge bat-like vampire monsters!). Winged Vampire Lords and Strigoi are more monstrous vampires with bat-like characteristics.
- Dire bats, from Dungeons and Dragons.
- The Eyewing combines bat wings with a Faceless Eye.
- Several magical species of giant bat are found in the Forgotten Realms.
- Subverted by D&D 3E's desmodu, bat-like subterranean humanoids which are actually the good guys.
- One of the minor domain lords in the Ravenloft setting is a giant werebat.
- The mobat is basically a dire bat, only smart, with a spike on its tail.
- Averted in Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Of all the various breeds that exist, including spiders, sharks and dinosaurs, the werebat is not one of them, having been exterminated several centuries ago. Werewolf: The Forsaken, however, allows them in the form of "skinchangers".
- Mind you, the reason the Camazotz (the werebats) got eliminated in the first place is because the Shadow Lords who were part of the expeditions to South America took advantage of this trope. While the Camazotz served as Gaia's nocturnal messengers (not unlike the Corax, or wereravens), the Shadow Lords pointed out that anything with a shape like that had to be in thrall to the Wyrm.
- The Bat has a Serial Killer who uses images of bats as his Calling Card. At one point there is even an actual bat flying around.
- One of the trails in Disney's Animal Kingdom lets you bypass the bat exhibit—the bats alone among all the other animals.
- For perspective, this is the trail that walks you right by a KOMODO DRAGON without a similar warning.
- The Phantoka Makuta (Antroz, Chirox and Vamprah) are all physically based on and named after bats in Bionicle.
- In World of Warcraft, one quest has you kill a giant bat named Duskwing. Giant bats are common in lots of places, and some are used as flying mounts.
- Zubat and its evolutions in the Pokémon series, which are also literal Goddamned Bats.
- Gligar and Gliscor appear to be a a cross between a bat and a scorpion. Funnily enough, the anime used Gligar rather than Zubat for its Batman parody.
- That may be because that Batman parody was during the Pokémon Johto arc.
- And Zubatman would be too obvious and easier to sue with. Also, Woobat and Swoobat.
- Woobat and Swoobat are subversions. In the games, Swoobat gives off ultrasonic waves that actually put people in a better mood.
- Gligar and Gliscor appear to be a a cross between a bat and a scorpion. Funnily enough, the anime used Gligar rather than Zubat for its Batman parody.
- The pure blood vampires in Blood Rayne are werebats.
- A giant bat is a classic boss monster in Castlevania. It was, after all, the first boss monster at the end of level one for the first game.
- Castlevania also had the werebat form for Dracula in a few of the games.
- Then there's the bat swarm boss in Dawn of Sorrow.
- Subverted and played straight in Symphony of the Night. The bats which attack you near the beginning are fairly weak enemies (ironically, the game has Goddamned Bats in many areas, but the actual bats aren't among them), and the giant bat boss appears, though it isn't a very strong boss. On the other hand, Alucard has a bat form (which you have to use to fully explore several areas and obtain various special items), and a bat familiar he can summon; bat-form Alucard can attack enemies with fireballs and sonar waves.
- Castlevania also had the werebat form for Dracula in a few of the games.
- Nethack, despite its deserved reputation, is another game that features bats who are fairly weak enemies. The offshoot Slash'EM includes some more deadly varieties.
- Resident Evil 0 had Billy and Rebbecca fight a giant bat and for bonus points it was in a church/graveyard.
- Resident Evil 5 also had some kind of giant bat/insect creature as the boss for the second mission.
- Castle Crashers had the ridiculously huge vampire bat, Pipistrello.
- In Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, Batman's
fatalityheroic brutality is apparently summoning a swarm of bats.
- Vespertillo Canor and Pteropus Canor from The World Ends With You.
- Saga Frontier has a Bonus Boss in the form of the Abyss Bat.
- A sort of Dire Bat exists in Final Fantasy XI, but they don't really swarm. The normal, small bats do, however: three small bats are actually considered one monster.
- The Winged Twilights from The Elder Scrolls are basically female were-bats.
- Browser-based MMO Nexus War has the Revenant class, which can summon a swarm of bats as a pet, turn into a small bat for faster travel, or turn into a werebat for increased strength and the ability to see invisible characters with echolocation.
- The Keese from The Legend of Zelda are pretty average sized...but can light themselves on fire! ...Or ice!
- Vampires in Adventure Quest normally turn into Werebats, and more powerful Vampires are always Werebats (except the queen). Werepyres are part wolf, part bat, but they look more like a bat than a wolf.
- The Mario series has a lot of giant bat type enemies (Swoopers, Swampires, Swoopulas, Fangs, etc), most being roughly Mario or playable character sized and in some cases, annoying as they either swoop down or drain Mario's health.
- Similarly, the Wario Land series has various kinds of creepy bats, from the annoying flying bomb-shaped bats which explode after attaching themselves to Wario, the bats in Wario Land 4 which turn him into a vampire just by touching him, the ones in Shake It which just swarm him, and whatever the heck Catbat is actually meant to be (some kind of flying cat thing with bat wings for ears, a mechanical bat head on it's head, that floats like a ghost. And that heads straight into Nightmare Fuel).
- Battle for Wesnoth's Vampire Bat line. Which are, handily enough, also Goddamned Bats.
- Somewhat subverted with Rouge the Bat. She's a Classy Cat Burglar (with rather improbable goals) and generally on the evil side (especially in spinoffs), but closer to True Neutral and often acting as an Anti-Hero. Shes a lot more like a real bat than usual, much like Korbat.
- Played straighter with Ixis Naugus, although he's one-third bat, one-third rhino, and one third lobster. Yikes.
- Classic enemy Bat Brain.
- Darksiders features not only enemy bats (occasionally fire breathing or using sound attacks), but also their mommy: Super-sized bat demon Tiamat.
- Riviera: The Promised Land featured a bat...as a weapon! You catch it and use it against your enemies.
- In the very early computer game Hunt The Wumpus, a giant bat can swoop down and carry the player to a new location in the Wumpus's cave.
- In Afterlife, one of the disasters that can attack the Fire and Brimstone Hell are Bats out of Hell, a swarm of bats who defecate on buildings.
- One level of Dragon's Lair has a swarm of bats, as well as a Dire bat.
- Donkey Kong Country Returns gives us the Squeeklies, which combine this trope with Goddamn Bats and take them both Up to Eleven. They are one of the major reasons the cave world is so reviled, particularly Crowded Cavern, which is chock full of 'em. There's even a giant Squeekly that's as tall as the screen (DK is only about an 8th as tall by comparison), whose sonic beams are THE one reason why the "Crowded Cavern" level is SO. FREAKING. HARD.
- A bat enemy by the name of Mr. Batty is a recurring Mook throughout the MOTHER trilogy. They seem to be more Played for Laughs, especially considering its battle theme in MOTHER 3 does a Suspiciously Similar Song version of the 60s Batman theme...
- Viva Pinata manages to invoke this with one of the wild and destructive sour pinatas. While sour it looks like a horror movie bat and makes other pinatas sick with its bite. Once you cure it (with garlic) it becomes... A rabbit-like thing with hilariously tiny wings.
- Several of the Might and Magic games have enemy bats. They are not particularily dangerous, but they are rather unfriendly (and in Might & Magic VII, the most dangerous variant can attack you with fire).
- On Neopets, Korbats are, in general, very cute. This makes them more like Real Life bats than usual!
- It's also played with in the case of the most prominent character who happens to be a Korbat, Lord Darigan. Introduced as the apparent Big Bad in the Champions of Meridell plot, we later learn that he and his people were victimized by the supposed "heroes," Meridell, when they stole the Orb, and cast a hellish curse on them, despite Darigan's kingdom being pacifistic. Despite looking like a mixture of Man-Bat and a lich, Lord Darigan and his people are merely fighting to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Although they won the war, a Diabolus Ex Machina ended with Darigan going Brainwashed and Crazy when the orb failed to work. Not only did King Skarl get away scot-free and earned a position in the Gallery of Heroes while Darigan was placed in the Gallery of Evil, Darigan's successor, Lord Kass, was far more monstrous. Fortunately, Lord Darigan returned from the dead and saved Meridell, forgiving them and trying to usher in a new era of peace. And yet Darigan's still in the Gallery of Evil with Kass and the like.
- Transformers: Ratbat, one of Soundwave's cassettes, turns into a bat (as his name belies). In the comics he was obsessed with using Energon efficiently.
- Giant Bat of Godzilla: The Series, a Kaiju-sized monster bat.
- Subverted in the Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers episode "Good Times, Bat Times": Yes, Foxglove is a bat. And yes, she is a witch's familiar. But no, she is anything but horrifying. Instead, she is a cute and lovable bat the size of a chipmunk and in love with Dale.
- The Emperors New Groove: When Kuzco and Pacha are attempting to climb out of the chasm they have fallen into, Kuzco (as a llama) rams his mouth and nose into a small cave opening, which is of course revealed to be full of bats. The bats all immediately attempt to flee, leading to... blech!
- The Thundercats 2011 version of Mumm-Ra is a type three bat humanoid, complete with leaf-nosed snout, gaining bat wings in his One-Winged Angel form.
- Completely subverted by fruit bats. If not for their wings, they look like tiny, wide-eyed foxes. To add a little extra "AWWWWWW", fruit bats love being cuddled and their favorite snack is banana smoothies!
- Subverted by the noble Spacebat.
- Spectral Bats, who have 3 foot long wingspans and are the largest carnivorous bat alive, will eat anything smaller than it and will hunt other bats as well. Except that bats with offspring are very good mothers and fathers. The male will even sleep with the mother and young in his wings.
- Real vampire bats avert this trope through their altruistic social behavior. Bats who come home with full bellies will regurgitate blood to feed hungry flockmates, even when the recipients aren't related to them.
- There was, during the Pleistocene, a species of giant vampire bat Desmodus draculae. They were roughly one and a half times as large as a modern vampire bat, or the size of a smallish fruit bat.