A monster doesn't need limbs or appendages to be great. No, sometimes all the being needs are ample curves to strike fear into the hearts of its foes. Here are ten of our favorite circular beings, and be forewarned that there's a NSFW creature or two among the bunch.
10.) Clifford Simak's They Walked Like Men (1963)
In this scifi novel, aliens that can take the form of bowling balls — among several transformations — end up rolling their way toward global conquest.
9.) Rudy Rucker's Sex Sphere (1983)
In this wonderfully weird novel, aliens assume the form of floating globs of genitalia to bond with human hosts. Once they connect, humans are thrust into an orgiastic fantasy world. This NSFW painting at left was created by Rucker himself. Truly an image that embeds itself into your skull. May or may not have inspired cartoonist Johnny Ryan's character Fuckball (also NSFW).
8.) The Guardian from Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Not only did this John Carpenter film have a smashing music video — it also featured a Beholder-like creature whose main job was to look disgusting while spying on a perplexed Kurt Russell. Two Big Trouble In Little China posts in one day! That's a new record for me.
7.) The Beholder from Dungeons & Dragons
One of the stalwart D&D monsters, the many-eyed Beholder is also the gold standard of freaky magical villains. I love this clip from the 1983 Dungeon and Dragons cartoon show in which all of the stupid yappy kids start losing their shit when the Beholder rolls up. That'll teach you to roleplay!
6.) Gantz (2010)
In this live-action adaptation of manga Gantz, the eponymous cyborg sphere teleports a new recruit to the film's team of alien-killing, recently deceased people. It's a long story. Watch what happens when Gantz introduces you to your new coworkers. Clip is NSFW, by the way.
5.) The Brain (1988)
In this Eighties Canadian science fiction film, an oversized mass of alien grey matter attempts to mind control the unwashed masses with the help of a TV psychologist. Also, it chases teenagers around warehouses, like any superior extraterrestrial intelligence is wont to do.
4.) The Pink Armadillo from Android Kikaider (1972-1973
In this clip from the Japanese giant monster show Android Kikaider, the nefarious Pink Armadillo hypnotizes a horndog trucker and then destroys his vehicle using her spherical prowess. Thanks to this clip, I'm mostly afraid of go-go dancers — as opposed to mountain lions — whenever I go hiking.
3.) The Atraxi from Doctor Who
Giant floating alien eyeballs who patrol the galaxy are definitely imposing. As are their Earth-shattering doomsday devices. But when it comes to staring contests with the Eleventh Doctor, these ocular space cops come up snake eyes. Yellow-bellied snake eyes!
2.) Mogo from Green Lantern
More charming than Ego The Living Planet, Mogo was a beloved Green Lantern despite his propensity not to socialize. Sadly, Mogo is dead in the Green Lantern comics nowadays. Honestly, Mogo's is the comic book death I've been most chagrined by in recent years.
1.) The Watermelon Monster from Drunken Wu-Tang (1984)
This is not only the greatest spherical monster in the history of fiction. This is the greatest monster in the history of fiction, period. Dracula? Unrepentant malarkey. Of course, my opinions don't necessarily reflect those of my coworkers here at io9, but just know that I will fund any and all Kickstarter campaigns for those of you building Watermelon Monster costumes.
Fuck me, I'm so riled up I'm making promises I can't keep. That's just what The Watermelon Monster does to me. In the Hong Kong kung fu film Gui ma tian shi, the Watermelon Monster guards a secret document from nosy intruders. During the course of the film, martial artists Cha Le and Rat Face duke it out with the rotund beast. Want to know why most movies are unwatchable nowadays? None of them star the Watermelon Monster.
Dishonorable Mention: Rover from The Prisoner. Totally ashamed I forgot him — I was so punch-drunk off of the Watermelon Monster — and I totally deserve the stink-eye for this. Seriously, throw rotten cabbage at your computer screen if it makes you feel better.
Dishonorable Mention, Part Deux: The alien from Dark Star, which I falsely remembered was more oblong than spherical. Blaming the Watermelon Monster for this one too. Thanks, ProgHead777.
Thanks to Annalee Newitz, Charlie Jane Anders, and Mr. Sardonicus for their input.