Cthulhu in Pop Culture

Cthulhu’s had a heck of a run.

After some eighty plus years, Ol’ Squid Face has seeped into pop culture in many different forms. Let’s take a look at a few examples.

But first, did you know what other popular character was introduced in 1928? Mickey Mouse. That’s right Steamboat Willie was released in theaters the same time that “Call of Cthulhu” was freaking people out in print. Makes you wonder what the world would be like had the Big C been as popular as the Mouse. Steam Boat Cthulhu? The Cthulhu Club? Cthulhuteers?

Perhaps not.

1. Music

Call of Ktulu by Metallica – Yeah, this song has been mentioned on this blog before, but it bears repeating. It introduced a lot of black-shirted, long-haired teens to Lovecraft’s most famous creation.

And Metallica didn’t stop there. On their next album, Master of Puppets, they had another Cthulhu inspired song, “The Thing that Should Not Be.”

2. Animation

The Collect Call of Cthulhu – On TV’s animated series The Real Ghostbusters, the big guy was the subject of his very own episode of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. Lovecraft and Saturday morning cartoons, a match made in Ryleh?  Hey, it was the ’80s and the Ghostbusters were up to the challenge, taking Cthulhu on with the help of a roller coaster and lightning. Science! All the episode needed was Elizabeth Hurley.

This episode has a couple classic lines about the Dread Cthulhu:

WINSTON: Cthulhu…I’ve heard of him. He’s bad news, right?
EGON: He makes Gozer look like Little Mary Sunshine. [Gozer was the destructive god in the first film. – DJH]


PETER: [referring to Cthulhu’s appearance] Anything that looks like Godzilla wearing an octopus hat shouldn’t be hard to find.

3. Games

The Call of Cowthulu – Munchkin Cthulhu. Even Cthulhu isn’t safe from the satirical barbs of the Munchkin game series. In this wacky card game, Cthulhu is spoofed as a giant winged cow, udders and all, with a face covered in feelers. Just don’t drink the milk.

Scribblenauts – In this game for the Nintendo DS, you solve puzzles by writing the names of objects, be it “jetpack,” “laser” or even Cthulhu. That’s right, you can summon the big guy just by writing his name. It’s all fun and games until someone lets loose an Elder God.

4. Comics

The Last Christmas – Penny Arcade.  The Great Lord Cthulhu was the star of his very own Christmas tale thanks to the guys at Penny Arcade. He shows up and eats…well, everything and everyone. Who’s the nut-job that asked Santa for an Elder God?

Hello Cthulhu – You know something has reached the peak of pop culture when it is paired up with the likes of Hello Kitty. It boggles the mind.

There are but a few examples of how Cthulhu has worked his way into popular culture–what are some of your favorite examples? Feel free to share in the comments.

It is amusing how Cthulhu, a character that embodies destruction, death and insanity, has reached the point where he is used as a comedic device or portrayed as a lovable, happy cartoon character.

And on that note, I leave you with this, The Adventures of Lil Cthulhu. Happy Cthulhu Month!

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