Beyond shark week, pop culture is just as obsessed with sharks as we are. It’s no surprise that sharks are reoccurring villains in science fiction and horror films. Some species of sharks, like the ghost shark, have outlived the dinosaurs, so their rigid survival skills would seemingly allow them to withstand multiple genres of comics, books, shows, movies and video games. Sharks are such persistent antagonists in the media we consume because, though the reality may be different, they look like real-life monsters, and it’s easy to get anxious about these enigmatic marine predators.
A mouth full of jagged teeth and monstrous size aren’t the only things sharks in popular culture have. Unlike the real sharks in the oceans, pop culture media has transformed these prehistoric ocean dwellers into something even more overpowered — and that’s a tough feat to accomplish, given that sharks have millions of years of experience being crazy strong predators. From making sharks bigger and smarter to more technologically advanced, pop culture has concocted several recipes to make an innately overpowered animal even more impressive. Even after the iconic Jaws franchise made us leery of going to the beach, many movies since have managed to make sharks increasingly powerful. Like the amateur shark biologists that we are, CBR ranked the most overpowered sharks in pop culture history, based on their most intimidating adaptations, strength and overall brute force.
21 GETTY IMAGE SHARK (AQUAMAN)
The great white shark in the Aquaman poster gained social media notoriety just for being a Getty image. However, the Getty image sand tiger shark in the Aquaman trailer is an even more powerful ocean beast. Within the first moments of the trailer, the shark manages to do some major damage to the aquatic enclose. Not only is this shark able to crack marine aquarium glass, he’s also able to stop bullying.
Stopping a bully isn’t a simple accomplishment, which shows just how impressive this shark is. In the first few moments of the trailer, this sand tiger shark is able to stop bullying and crack a thick panel of glass. Multitasking is an implied powerful skill for any pop culture creature.
20 THE HORDE (WONDER WOMAN CONAN)
In Wonder Woman Conan #2, Wonder Woman falls prey to amnesia in the Hyborian age, where she’s forced to fight Conan in the arena. Once the duo decides to team up, they’re faced with insurmountable challenges: slave trade, shapeshifters... and sharks!
Struggling to work together, they have to find common ground to survive multiple persistent shark attacks. Though a few sharks might not seem like a challenge for these two overpowered characters, these creatures appear stronger when pinned against Wonder Woman as she’s still trying to remember who she is. And hey, it can be hard to fight anything when you don’t have the typical finesse of your powers.
19 GYORGS (THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: WIND WAKER)
Gyorgs are fearsome sharks in The Great Sea, who tend to use their bodies as battering rams to a try to toss Link off his boat. These purple sharks become even more powerful in groups because they use their sheer numbers to circle in on Link. Fighting a swarm of sharks can be disorienting, but dealing with continual hits and bites can leave Link unconscious.
In the open waters of The Great Sea, these creatures are incredibly common, just like their attacks. However, their hordes might make them seem more powerful than they actually are. Seeing as the Gyorgs still have weaknesses -- i.e. any projectiles -- they aren’t ranked higher on this list.
18 TIGERSHARKS (THUNDERCATS)
Tigersharks are a powerful species that can use their human and shark characteristics to their advantage. These adaptive creatures are hybrids that can interchangeably morph into their human or marine form using the Fish Tank, which means they can use the strength of sharks coupled with the scientific know-how of humans.
Plus, their marine forms are still humanoid in nature. Their arms and legs allow them to partake in intense hand-to-hand combat underwater. Few fighting sequences are more intimidating than a shark who can sucker punch you. Enduring a hit from the character Mako might make a bite from an actual shortfin mako shark seem like a paper cut.
17 THE ROGUE GREAT WHITE (THE SHALLOWS)
Sharks are the natural enemy of surfers. Establishing a realistic scenario combined with this predator’s real-life hunting habits is what makes this shark so overpowered — because this shark attack is ingrained, mostly, in fact. While sharks don’t typically hunt humans, they will grab a bite out of a living, moving animal, even in the face of an easy snack like a whale carcass that’s pictured in the film.
Still, there are some unrealistic elements to this shark. Great whites don’t typically breach outside of temperate waters, so this shark’s leaps might seem uncharacteristic, given the tropical environment. Regardless, a super-sized shark is an OP foe to begin with, but with scientific accuracy, this shark seems scarily real.
16 CHOMPS AND CHOMPS JR. (DONKEY KONG)
Even in earlier Donkey Kong gameplay history, they aren’t very prominent, but these sharks are powerful. Though Chomps don’t have excessive speed, Chomps Juniors are nimble enemies that can cause Donkey Kong to rack up damage.
Even in aquatic terrains, these similar foes are relatively sparse, but they can hurt Donkey Kong simply by coming into contact with him. Even in the Donkey Kong Country comic, Chomps are so powerful that they coordinated a police task force to apprehend their dreaded ape-like nemesis. Even if you discounted their bite or their limited weaknesses, Chomps are powerfully organized when it comes to defeating Donkey Kong.
15 ABOVE-AVERAGE GREAT WHITE (JAWS)
If anything, the larger than average great white sharks in the Jaws franchise have an overwhelming appetite. Although snacking might not seem like an overpowered attribute, these sharks’ persistent hunger drives their attacks.
The original great white in Jaws could be considered an overpowered force just from its influence on the science fiction and horror genres. The film not only inspired multiple sequels within the franchise, it also spawned hundreds of shark-themed movies that later expanded into fresh water horrors, like Piranha. In that way, Jaws truly set the standard for aquatic-based nightmares, which, no matter how big the fish, will always be the most terrifying.
14 TINY (BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY)
The shark in Jaws was the original oversized and overpowered marine enemy. However, Tiny in the Batman: Arkham City game makes its toothy predecessor look like a minnow. Living deep in Penguin’s base in the Institute for Natural History, the shark feeds on anything.
Beyond Tiny’s appetite, the size of his mouth gives him an unfair advantage. After all, who can compete with jaws that can engulf a full-sized human with one chomp? At the size of a miniature Megalodon, Tiny is a tough challenger even for Arkham’s roughest vigilantes. However, Tiny isn’t the only shark in Arkham, which makes us skeptical that it might not be the biggest fish in the game.
13 ROBOTIC SHARK (FAR CRY 3: BLOOD DRAGON)
The Far Cry game franchise is no stranger to sharks, but fighting the cyber shark in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon can be an ambitious task if you're in the water. With a hardened metal coating, this shark’s skin is difficult to penetrate. Somehow, the franchise found a way to make the canon bull sharks more frightening.
Granted, this technologically advanced version of the creature isn’t very common in the game, and can only be encountered in the "Mind the Teeth" quest. However, it isn't too strenuous to defeat this bull shark cyborg if you use aim from a distance or use an explosive weapon of sorts.
12 UNDEAD BITERS (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN 5)
A plethora of zombified sharks have risen to the top of the OP shark pool, especially in indie science fiction films, but the undead sharks in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales are a bone-chilling threat for Captain Jack Sparrow.
Evading two living great white sharks and a hammerhead could be a typical endeavor for pirates. However, these ghoulish sharks have the fearless energy of an ordinary zombie along with the strength of a typical cinematic shark. In other words: even an undead pirate would be overboard in this match. Faced with Sparrow’s inexplicable luck, this trio still isn’t as powerful as other sharks in pop culture.
11 NEPTUNES (RESIDENT EVIL GAMES)
Speaking on undead sharks, Neptunes are a more aggressive contender. At the Arklay Laboratory, a team of researchers injected a specific strain of the t-virus in several great white sharks. Hoping that they could use prehistoric creatures to cure the virus, the experiment failed when the sharks exhibited delayed symptoms of the t-virus.
Unlike in-game humans and dogs who become undead when exposed to the virus, sharks become mutated. B.O.W.s’ experiments inevitably gave these creatures increased strength, durability and size. Acting as a glorified power-up, these infected sharks are difficult to fight. Thankfully for players, a Neptune’s increased stats drastically shorten their lifespan, so they live approximately eleven days after they’re born.
10 STREET SHARKS
On the surface level, Street Sharks is a glorified Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles clone. The series features a group of teenagers mutated into walking, talking sharks who can rollerblade, and they all have their own wildly effective skills and strengths.
Ripster’s teeth are so durable they can saw through steel. Big Slammu’s powers are indicative of his name because he can create seismic activity just by hitting the ground. Then there’s Jab, who transmutes into a hammerhead shark so he can head-butt his foes. All the sharks in the series have their own abilities reminiscent of the shark appearances they take on, but their strengths are strangely amplified by their genetic transformation.
A mutant who’s able to transform from her super-powered human form into a shark is the definition of overpowered. Along with being a member of the formidable X-Force team, and formerly the X-Men, Iara Dos Santos of Earth-13729 apparently shares a few abilities with her Earth-616 counterpart.
Beyond shapeshifting into a shark, transitioning into a shark-human hybrid and exhibiting super strength, she can keep her human consciousness and memories so that she can put her human intuition to good use as a finned hero. However, she does still have her pitfalls. As a shark, she’s still susceptible to instinctual behaviors, so if she smells blood then her allies and any nearby fish could be in trouble.
8 GRIZZLY SHARK
Image Comics’ Grizzly Shark innately has the upper hand because he’s a shark that can travel on land, flatten trees, and has the advantages of being an overgrown great white. The gruesome comic doesn’t just feature this shark, who towers over the tree line. Multiple other sharks effortlessly travel and hunt on land.
Like Grizzly Shark, these finned creatures have minimal weaknesses. Even Sea Bear, who is obviously a marine bear, loses some fights with Grizzly. In ideal situations, the human characters in the series outlast and out-hide the formerly marine monsters because it’s pointless to fight something that doesn’t have many shortcomings. Unlike the sharks in the Sharknado franchise, Grizzly doesn’t need a natural disaster to cause havoc in his comic.
7 THE SHARKNADO
These sharks have gained some form of resistance after surviving and thriving within a spiraling natural disaster. Normal sharks need to move through the ocean to breathe, but the sharks within the vortex apparently don’t need water to survive. After enduring high-speed winds, the only thing more tenacious than their storm preparedness skills is their hunger.
Outside of the tornado, these sharks persistently crawl to their prey, which is a testament to their fin strength. In Sharknado 5: Global Swarming alone, they withstand lightning within the tornadoes. Throughout the franchise, most of the sharks also survive explosions and falling to the ground from towering heights.
6 THE TRI-HEADED SHARK
Since 3-Headed Shark Attack, the franchise has created sequels that feature more sharks with even more toothy heads. This marine Cerberus has three individually functioning heads. In addition to having more mouths to hunt with, it has the power of regeneration. During a scene in the movie, the beachgoers find a way to remove one of the heads, but the mutated shark grows three additional heads in place of the one it lost.
The shark also has the ability to play dead. When it’s beached, it finagles its way to grab a human snack and leisurely scooch its way back into the ocean.
5 THE SUPER-SMART SHARKS (DEEP BLUE SEA)
This movie sets up the quintessential sci-fi scenario for what happens when scientists make a dangerous animal even more lethal. With their newly augmented intelligence, these sharks systematically destroy the research facilities from the inside-out, leaving the humans inside susceptible to their attacks.
Beyond dismantling the research center so they can escape into the open ocean, the sharks seem to have improved recollection skills and use their memory to seek out vengeance on the scientists who’ve used them as test subjects. From the beginning of the suspenseful film, one of the Makos targets Jim, who’s conducted multiple extractions on the sharks.
4 KING SHARK
As the son of the God of all Sharks Chondrakha, King Shark doesn’t live in his father’s shadow. Not only is he armored with the strength of a demi-God, he also has the security of working with several supervillain allies within the Secret Society of Super-Villains. When he isn’t singing about being a shark in his multiple comic book appearances, he’s vigorously eating people and attempting to make a superhero sandwich with the Lantern Corps.
In his television debut on The Flash, King Shark becomes stranded after the breaches close, and he uses his above-average strength to effortlessly rip the roof off Barry Allen’s family home. Though King Shark is a more apt fighter in water, he still has enhanced capabilities on land.
3 MEGALODON (THE MEG)
Revitalized from Steve Alten’s novel, The Meg features a Megalodon that is all but extinct. While prehistoric whale species probably wished the Megalodon was just a fictional creature, this oversized shark is naturally overpowered due to its size. During its reign in the Early Miocene era, the Meg had multiple natural predators because it wasn’t even the biggest shark at the time.
Although several species of megatooth sharks outweighed and outcompeted this mid-sized prehistoric giant, it’s still a formidable threat in the film’s setting. After all, the film is set in modern times, and there’s little that can fend off a 70-foot-long shark.
2 SHARKTOPUS (SHARKTOPUS)
Making a shark scary smart is, well, terrifying. However, combining a massive great white with another enlarged dangerous sea creature is nearly the perfect weapon. The octopus-shark Chimera is a dangerous antagonist in any production. Of course, it wouldn’t be a deep sea film if this catastrophic creation wasn’t born from a scientific mission gone wrong.
In the film, the hybrid leisurely uses its lengthy multiple appendages to grip onto its prey, which makes running seem pointless. The movie itself might not be one of cinematic artistry, but fighting off a half-octopus, half-shark being is an unfair fight just from the ideation.
1 KNIFEHEAD (PACIFIC RIM)
Kaiju aren’t Earth-born animals, let alone sharks. However, Knifehead does share some similarities with a shark. Since this list already has a few bipedal sharks, it wouldn't seem fair to exclude him from the ranking. For a kaiju, he’s gigantic. Being the largest category three kaiju from the first film, he claws through Gipsy Danger and simultaneous puts other kaijus’ fight scenes to shame.
While the humans have the tech to combat him, he’s still able to anticipate the moves of his technologically-advanced foes. With his built-in body armor, extra set of arms and heightened strength, it’s nearly impossible to imagine a shark contender fit to face Knifehead.