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You know what fish are — those scaly finned things with the big fin for a tail that live in various bodies of water... except for these things, which forget that last part.
For some reason, in fiction — especially Video Games — one can encounter fish that float in the air. Given sufficient animation, in fact, they will clearly be swimming through the air. These creatures are typically found on beaches and around waist-deep water — but not always. The next most common habitat for the Flying Seafood Special is the desert.
As for what the reasons might be for such beings to exist, two stand out as primary — it allows the characters to interact with them (typically by fighting them) by the path of least Willing Suspension of Disbelief, or alternately it works as a touch of surreality.
This also happens in nearly every Mons series ever. OK, now since there are more aquatic creatures than any other kind on Earth, obviously you're going to have to throw in some Mons based on fish somewhere. Except the problem is, 90% of your game takes place on the land (because Atlantis Is Boring). Hrm. Well, just have them act like they're swimming through the air. Not Quite Flight, just hovering ever so slightly over the ground at all times. Problem solved! Nobody would question that!
Related to If It Swims, It Flies. Compare Space Whale. Not to be confused with Shamu Fu. Can be a type of Airborne Mook. Fish People are similarly air-dwelling sea-creatures (and if their culture has a Horse of a Different Colour, expect it to be something like this - most likely a seahorse).
Anime and Manga
- Bleach anime Bount arc. The Bount Sawatari's doll is the giant rock-like fish Baura that can fly through the air, as well as under the ground (by phasing through another dimension).
- The released form of Unohana's zanpakutou. Sure, it's got only one eye and it's green, but it's shaped like a manta ray and has baleen in its mouth.
- It also has a foot.
- The released form of Unohana's zanpakutou. Sure, it's got only one eye and it's green, but it's shaped like a manta ray and has baleen in its mouth.
- The flying coelocanth shadows in Angel's Egg.
- The Sand Rays in Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.
- One of the things Haruna had sketched and brought to life in Mahou Sensei Negima was a flying manta ray she used to get away from one of Fate's minions. Nodoka proved to be quite adept at piloting it too.
- One of these is the summon beast Clef uses to collect the main characters upon their first arrival in Cephiro in Magic Knight Rayearth.
- Mega Man NT Warrior inexplicably pulled this out when a virus Navi infected the robot fish in an aquarium. All of them suddenly floated right out of their tanks and took to the streets.
- In Transformers Robots in Disguise, Sky-Byte transforms into a shark which can fly (as well as burrow underground).
- There are fish that fly through the air like birds in Fairy Tail... that turn out to be inedible, even if prepared by a decent chef.
- Renascentist painter Hieronymus Bosch included a few floating fish in his paintings, among other things...
- On a semi-related topic, this is actually how recent comics have tried to explain Sub-Mariner's flight power in the Marvel continuities - he doesn't fly so much as he condenses the moisture around him so he can swim through the air. Ascended Fanon.
- Delirium's fish in The Sandman, which are usually used to symbolise madness, are always seen swimming through the air (or rough equivalent, in areas where there's no clear sense of place, such as her story in Endless Nights).
- The air whales in The Maxx.
- Betta George in the Angel comics.
- The Communist Airborne Mollusk Militia from the Hellboy / The Goon crossover are octopi who actually use hot air balloons to fly.
- A throwaway gag in The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck has Scrooge witnessing trout swimming by at shoulder level because it rains so hard.
- The Big Bad's plot in Creature Tech is to revive a long-dead giant space eel using the Shroud of Turin. The book opens and ends with splash panels of giant eels flying through space.
- In "Tell Me Again Why I Can't Be A Manta Ray" from Further Notes On My Unfortunate Condition by Nick St. John, the protagonist-as-manta ray soars through the sky, "drifting from town to town, from house to house."
"And I am Undulating Away Through the Night Air"
- The Henson movie Mirror Mask has these.
- The Aiwha (Air Whale?) from Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.
- Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. A 50-ton Megalodon shark leaps up to cruising altitude to chomp a Boeing 747. It is not explained how this is possible.
- Probably because no explanation would help it make sense.
- One of the numbers in Fantasia 2000 features flying whales.
- The sequel to Piranha features, you guessed it, flying piranhas.
- The 2008 3D Journey to the Center of the Earth has the protagonist batting flying fish around, apparently so the filmmakers could throw something at the audience in 3D.
- The Leviathan for some reason was actually revealed to have the ability to fly as seen in the prologue of Atlantis the Lost Empire. After Atlantis is destroyed, it starts to live underwater instead.
- Voyage of the Basset
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Horror Of The Heights."
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe adores these, mostly vast and in the form of flying whales. Alderaan was the homeworld of a huge variety of thrantas, which were also Giant Flyers. On Bespin there's the more rayfish-like velkers with 300 meter wingspans, which hunted the much, much bigger flying jellyfish called beldons, while on a much smaller scale rawks hunted tiny winged fish.
- The Demonray from Natural Selection, a flying, air-breathing, implausibly intelligent, tree-climbing carnivorous manta relative from the abyss. Oh, and it roars, too.
- For extra amusement, they actually try explaining (poorly) how it flies...
- The Leviathan from Leviathan.
- Justified, though, as it breathes hydrogen and has been genetically engineered for this purpose.
- During the long rain, One Hundred Years of Solitude depicts fish swimming through the incredibly water-saturated air in the house.
- Played for laughs in Sewer Gas and Electric, when the mutant great white Meisterbrau pursues a victim onto dry land, then spreads its oversized pectoral fins and swoops onto the unfortunate schmuck.
- Science fiction novella A Meeting With Medusa features a Jupiter inhabited by peaceful, cloud-grazing manta rays. Except that they're not — peaceful or cloud-grazing, that is. The "clouds" they feed on turn out to be enormous jellyfish which may actually be sapient.
- Used in The Kingdoms of Evil for a particularly fiendish form of transportation
- The Stormlight Archive has "skyeels" which are basically Exactly What It Says on the Tin, they apparently fly using gas sacs or something.
- Skywhales in Alien Worlds: Blue Moon.
- The Horde Of Alien Locust Flying Robot Stingrays in Doctor Who episode "Planet of the Dead".
- And the flying space whale in "The Beast Below".
- "A Christmas Carol", the 2010 Christmas special, is set on a planet covered in dense clouds and fog that fish can swim through using electrical pulses. There is a flying shark.
- The Flish from The Future Is Wild. Apparently a fish that would live on Earth 200 million years from now...
- Subverted for Vyvyan on The Young Ones, who once looked out the window, saw a shark passing by the glass, and declared it this trope and the most completely brilliant thing he'd ever seen. Then Mike spoiled it by explaining that London had flooded, meaning the shark was only swimming, not flying.
- Linkin Park's "In The End" music video had a whale flying in the newly greened desert.
- Tales from Topographic Oceans by Yes has a school of fish lazing through some kind of misty air-stream emanating from a distant pyramid on a starry night on the cover. Because Roger Dean, that's why.
- Warhammer features Screamers of Tzeentch, which amount to flying stingrays.
- Flying fish actually has existed for quite some time in Magic: The Gathering, but it's only recently that they actually have the creature type Fish (creature type being the relative equivalent of species). Case in point: As early as the year 2000, we have Cloudskate, a flying manta ray, and Amugaba, a flying eel, but both have the creature type of Illusion instead (perhaps as a Lampshade Hanging). Then there is also Mulldrifter, an Elemental (in Lorwyn, Elementals are amalgamations of many animals, and this one just happens to be part fish and part bird). Only recently we have actual flying fish in the form of Windrider Eel and Sky-Eel School, in addition to erratas which gives other sea-creature types to those that don't have them when they are printed.
- Dungeons and Dragons has the cloud ray; named such not because it flies in the clouds, but because you might mistake it for one.
- Eclipse Phase has whales that live in the corona of the sun. Since there is no material on the sun that isn't gaseous or plasmatic, its safe to call this flight.
- Said whales also happen to be humans. Eclipse Phase is that kind of game.
- Aion has sand whales.
- Final Fantasy games do this a lot.
- Many Underground Monkey variations of this exist in Final Fantasy IV — often literally underground, as there are many caves lined with water.
- Final Fantasy VI had crabs and stingrays, in the desert. There was also The Veldt, where all the creatures the player had encountered so far in the game (except for most bosses )had a chance to show up in Random Encounters. That included things like jellyfish sitting out in the savanna while suffering no ill effect.
- It had a subversion, though - many of the aquatic creatures that could be found in the desert actually lost health every round. Considering that at least two of them have practically no health at all, and have some great items to steal, it turns them into a Metal Slime battle.
- And of course, Ultros. The first time everyone's favorite Octopus Royalty shows up, it's in a river. Odd for a saltwater creature, but believable. Then, in the rafters (and the main stage) of an Opera House. Then the bone-dry caves of a mountain. Then in a mid-air battle (the party is standing on the deck of an airship. Ultros is, uh, floating.)
- Final Fantasy VIII also has them in the form of Fastitocalons, which swim through both the air and the ground.
- Whale Zombies and probably more things from Final Fantasy IX.
- Pugils, and the much rarer Orobon, in Final Fantasy XI.
- Also in XI, in the area Al'Taieu (commonly nicknamed as "sea" by the playerbase) there are various types of enemies that somewhat resemble aquatic life (which in turn are also nicknamed as sharks, goldfish, etc.) All of them are capable of floating in the air. "Phuabo" enemies, which resemble blue manta rays, actually "hide" underneath the water until you walk over them, at which point they surface, glide into the air, and start to attack.
- The various types of sandfish in the sandsea in Final Fantasy XII.
- The first floating fish you encounter is in the sewers.
- Averted in Final Fantasy X. The various seafood only appear in specific underwater battles, in which only three out of the seven PCs can participate, and on one occasion, a previously flying snake creature ends up being an underwater boss for a second beatdown.
- Played straight in its direct sequel, however.
- In Final Fantasy I, once you get the ship, you can get into random battles while sailing. One of the first enemies you can encounter while sailing is sharks. The sprite doesn't seem to show anything special about them, other than their willingness to jump on your boat to eat you. They actually are one of the toughest, if not the toughest, enemies you'll first encounter sailing, so they must have some sort of advantage fighting on the boat.
- Perfect World has the new-ish mob Orbfish, appearing in the Tideborn Islands. They're basically orb-shaped fish with huge bulbous eyes that, if you tame it as a pet, can actually fly several hundred feet above the ground with no problem whatsoever.
- Infinite Undiscovery has one of these — with several different Palette Swap versions. Generally encountered on the beach, and in the desert (where they seem to swim through the sand as easily as the air).
- The Wind Fish from The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening is a whale example.
- Plus the Majoras Mask Zora Mask offers a gliding power... if you can exploit that bug.
- Majora's Mask's third boss, Gyorg, 'Mechanical Masked Fish', starts off the fight with a creepy first-person view as it sneaks up on you, followed with it jumping out of the water and stopping midair to pose for the camera. Whether it's a good thing or not that it doesn't have levitation powers like this after the introductory cutscene is debatable.
- Talking of Gyorg... Minish Cap has a boss which is two variants of the Gyorg species, which are flying manta rays. Which fly at about air craft level and whom Link must fight by standing on them and attacking. There's also the sand swimming variants in Spirit Tracks.
- Ocarina of Time has flying jellyfish. Electrified flying jellyfish.
- All of the fish in Skies of Arcadia's overworld. There are a few water fish in the Far East, but that's it.
- To further cement this trope's effect, if you fly your ship through a school of flying fish, you capture them with nets, and can then sell them for profit at the larger markets.
- There's an electric fish-like enemy in one of the Spyro games for DS. I forget the name though.
- Pokémon: All of the 3D games, particularly Stadium, Colosseum, XD, and Battle Revolution. Goldeen gracefully floats in the air then turns bottom-up when it's knocked out. Er, except for Magikarp. The poor bastard doesn't even get this power. In the games, you can pull out your anglerfish Pokémon and use it to battle armadillos in the middle of the desert, and it will have the advantage. Somehow.
- Gyarados, Mantine and Mantyke justify this, being Water/Flying types.
- In a strange reference to this trope, the Steel/Ground-type Pokémon Steelix also floats above the ground in the 3D games. Sand Is Water?
- This is notably averted in the Pokémon anime series where Water-type Pokémon without arms or legs, wings, or some way of psychokinetically floating themselves around actually DO flounder around helplessly on land. None of the characters in the cast have ever owned a Pokemon that falls into this category, except for Water-type specialist Misty. She had a Goldeen, and due to averting this trope it appeared in only about 3 episodes in any sort of role, and only during times where it Looked Like A Job For Aquaman.
- This is especially bizarre in the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon sub series, since your characters follow behind you instead of being kept in balls. Let's go into a volcano and bring a goldfish with a horn on it with us. It'll do great! In an inversion, Pokemon that shouldn't have been able to breathe underwater could be taken on adventures in dungeons filled with saltwater at the bottom of the sea.
- Special mention should go to Wailmer and Wailord (yes, that one); the latter is the largest Pokemon there is, but surprisingly light for its size, because the two whale Pokémon also share characteristics of hot-air balloons and zeppelins.
- In fact, Wailord have either a density close to air (either just over or just under, depending on your estimates for all the measurements), or a density under hydrogen's density, depending if you take the Pokedex height as length or actual height.
- The Super Smash Brothers series has Poké Balls that can be used to summon random Pokémon; one of the random summons is Goldeen, which flops uselessly on the ground when summoned (a role usually reserved for Magikarp). However, later games introduce other fishy creatures that simply float (such as Wailord).
- Don't forget Kyogre who, uh..."flies" around the stage using Hydro Pump when released from a Poké Ball.
- Kyogre is basically a god. We should count ourselves lucky that it chooses to float rather than flood the stage.
- Pokémon Black and White gives us the pure Electric-type lampreys Tynamo, Eelektrik and Eelektross, whose Levitate ability literally makes them float. As such, this negates their only weakness to Ground and hence making them have no weaknesses at all (apart from Gravity/Mold Breaker).
- The sky whale from Grandia III.
- The flying mantras in the Shrine of Storm from Demons Souls.
- The flying manta rays on Dantooine in Knights of the Old Republic.
- Likewise, the mantas in the deserts of Aio in Rise of Legends. It's okay, they're magic. The Alin use them for their mounted archers, the Heartseekers.
- All of the fish-based Mons in Spectrobes.
- The Ogyo species in Monster Rancher, which are floating pink dolphins.
- All of the Aquatic Digimon. Unlike the other examples, they're shown doing this in some episodes of the anime, too. Seadramon and Submarimon achieved flight in some minor appearances.
- In Gotcha Force, this is played with in a very weird way - the Diver set of Borgs "swim" through the air via a bubble of water constantly around them that slows down any other Borgs who hop into it.
- Ecco the Dolphin: The Tides Of Time had future dolphins who had evolved to be capable of flight. There is also the giant flying jellyfish.
- Cave Story has jellyfish that can float in air. They later reappear in a water level, more appropriately.
- The Reavers and Nemacysts of Gears of War have a decidedly squid-like appearance, and no visible methods of flight. Yet they do. Fast.
- Some levels in Super Mario Bros.. will have Cheep-Cheeps jumping out at Mario as he tries to cross a broken bridge to the castle (with no visible body of water beneath them).
- The sequel (The Japanese Nintendo Hard one) throws flying Bloopers (Squid) into the mix.
- Nova-form Kheldians in City of Heroes resemble flying squids.
- In Beyond Good and Evil, there's a giant, flying manta-ray that you can take a picture of.
- Nether Rays in World of Warcraft are flying creatures that bear a resemblance to stingrays. They aren't actually fish, though-- apparently they're more closely related to insects than anything else.
- The majority of water element enemies in Mega Man Battle Network games are fish who bob up and down in midair. Since they comprise a quarter of the games' Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, you will find them scattered all over the place but focused in water-themed levels. In the fifth game one level forces Megaman to dive underwater to complete a level, and while he gets an air counter outside of battle, the random encounters have identical behavior whether they're in or out of the water.
- It should be justified, since Megaman.exe is a program accessing the internet and all, which just makes the entire "air counter" stupendously nonsensical.
- Earthworm Jim featured fish enemies which flew by means of attached rotor blades. Said fish could be found in a level set in the intestines.
- Eternal Sonata has enemies that resemble swordfish. They're just as much at home hovering over the sand as hovering over the water as hovering over a spiral ramp that plays music when you walk on it. It's all the same.
- In fact, there are several hovering enemies that resemble aquatic life in this game.
- Every enemy in the Darius series is some form of giant mechanical sealife, with the occasional dinosaur, chameleon, or fetus thrown in for good measure.
- For bonus points, they don't just stick with the obvious like squids, barracudas, and sharks; there are half a dozen different coelacanth bosses, not to mention a cuttlefish, a tripod fish, a blue whale, and weirdest of all, a sea angel (look it up--they're pretty, harmless, and pretty harmless.)
- Parodied to hell and back by "Space Invaders '95" in the food level; among other things, before the boss fight, the screen flashes with Darius' trademark siren and "Warning! Dangerous warship SUSHI PLATTER is approaching!" Then you fight a giant sushi combo platter.
- Quest for Glory 1 had Mantrays, which are pretty much flying mantas. That cast spells. And live in a forest. In the game world's equivalent of the Alps.
- Ghost Fish in Ninja Gaiden for the Xbox and in Ninja Gaiden 2 for the Xbox 360.
- Castlevania gives us Forneus, flying jellyfish. They're actually modeled after the Solomonic demon of the same name, who is said to appear as a sea monster; the same demon appears in Shin Megami Tensei and spin-offs as a manta ray.
- Sector Y in the original Star Fox is an ocean in space, featuring giant space schools of fish, stingrays both small and large, squid and even amoebas. There's also a Space Whale but it's friendly and only appears when certain conditions are met. Oddly enough, the boss for the level isn't anything like that, instead a hydrogen harvester spaceship.
- To be fair, it does resemble a tentacled creature (and its name include "Hydra", a very small relative of the anemone).
- Morrowind has the netch, technically not "seafood" as they are land-based animals, but come on. They're giant floating jellyfish.
- In Dwarf Fortress, undead creatures don't need to breathe, and the game makes no distinction between land creatures and water creatures besides what they breathe. This can result in undead whales or carp moving across land to attack your fortress. The undead carp in particular are infamous for being Demonic Spiders.
- Rule of Rose. Justified since... well... Hoo boy...
- The old, surreal game Weird Dreams features these in the Desert stage.
- In Guild Wars factions, some Jade Sea creatures do this. (Irukandji and scuttle fish being the main ones.)
- Bio-Hazard Battle has you fight flying squid at the very start of the opening stage. Then again, pretty much all the animals in that game have been mutated and such by a virus.
- There is an enemy in Rune Factory Frontier that's something like a flying lamprey. Whale Island would be this if it weren't... well, an island.
- Quest 64's lack of being able to be in water is the only reason why the monsters appear as they do. The Magma Fish are made of lava, while the Winged Sunfish could justify it by their name in general. The other Water-aligned monsters don't have this problem, even the other two fish themself.(Fishman and Granagach)
- New Super Marisa Land has Scuba Fairies that act similarly to the Cheep Cheeps from Mario. They are much more dangerous, however, owing to the random intervals at which they leap from the water, and their arc.
- Pikmin features Jellyfloats, which are essentially hovering jellyfish that suck up their prey rather than sting it.
- Level 9 of Stinkoman 20 X 6 takes place in the sky, with Stinkoman in the Stinkowing (a ship that resembled Strong Bad's mask). The enemies include: shrimps, jellyfish, mantas, sharks, fish, clams, octopuses, anemones, and CORAL. To top off the weirdness, the boss (allegedly an octopus or squid) is a gangster with a tommy gun!
- George MacDonald included one in The Golden Key.
- The Sky Pirates in How to Kill a Mockingbird ride of the backs of flying sharks.
- There were also sky-dwelling fishes in the animated short film The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello.
- Albert from The Dreamstone. A fish that swims through the air and has the face and behaviour of a dog.
- In Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, Flora has a friend/pet named Brock, who is a flying/floating fish.
- In the Re Boot episode "Painted Windows", Hexadecimal's recreation of Dali's work had flying fish as well.
- Xerxes, Mozenrath's flying eel companion from the Aladdin TV series.
- Sirens, hippocampus like creatures from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
- Flying fishes in Sofia the First.
- Nessies from Happy Ness: The Secret of the Loch.
- Contraying to the name neither flying fish or flying squids count as this trope. Technically they both glide.
- And then there's this.
- A notable exception being the Holy Dragon
- And now you know.