Content Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the Netflix show Love, Death & Robots.
Fans of the popular Netflix anthology series, Love, Death & Robots, will be happy to know it has already been renewed for a fourth season. It will undoubtedly introduce even more fascinating, bizarre, or downright terrifying worlds and creatures. Its most recent volume has some eldritch monstrosities that left a lasting impression for horrifying reasons.
The most Lovecraftian episodes from the show often come with unsettling and spine-chilling beings meant to evoke cosmic horror. These moments from the series are pure nightmare fuel and can make viewers question their place in a universe that could contain inexplicable beings like the ones from ‘Swarm’ or ‘In Vaulted Halls Entombed.’
10/10 The Dump (Volume 1, Episode 9)
The likable character Ugly Dave lives in the titular location in ‘The Dump,’ but his daily routines are interrupted by the arrival of a city inspector. The visitor rudely persuades Dave to leave or face expulsion, to which he responds with a story about Otto. The creature in the wild tale makes an appearance soon enough and greets the inspector in a brutal way.
With its light-hearted atmosphere, comical moments, and charming animation, the episode is far from being the most Lovecraftian one in the anthology series. That said, Otto’s surprisingly violent actions and unexplained origins will still make viewers shiver and think twice the next time they underestimate a “dump.”
9/10 Fish Night (Volume 1, Episode 12)
What begins as an unlucky day for two salesmen soon turns into a magical misadventure in ‘Fish Night.’ It starts with their car breaking down in the middle of nowhere, with an arid desert all around them. The evening brings some unexplainable events, though, as glowing prehistoric ocean life begins to swirl overhead. One of the salesmen frantically joins them, ignoring the warnings of his companion until he’s devoured by a shark.
The mood of the whole episode is more fantastical than terrifying, with the strange glowing creatures bringing beauty and light to the hopeless evening. The lack of a proper explanation does make the situation somewhat fit into cosmic horror, which is certainly underscored by the hasty salesman’s death.
8/10 Sucker Of Souls (Volume 1, Episode 5)
The fast-paced episode ‘Sucker of Souls’ revolves around a group’s dangerous hunt for Dracula, who is not what they expect it to look like. Their gruesome encounter soon turns into a chase, which just leads them further into a cave full of similar beings.
The greater implication of the story is that there’s more than one Dracula, and they’re all hiding beneath some caves, waiting to come out and devour humans. While the episode’s anime-style visuals and comedic moments undercut most of the horror, it still leaves fans with some uncertainties about what could be lurking beneath the ground.
7/10 The Secret War (Volume 1, Episode 18)
Some of the most powerful creatures in Love, Death & Robots overrun the earth in ‘The Secret War.’ The episode follows a group of soldiers who prepare for a battle against a horde of demons, which were released as a result of a failed government project known as “Operation Hades.” They had hoped to use these monsters to turn the tide in the global war, but soon realize they can’t be controlled.
The episode is certainly one of the more nerve-wracking ones, as the soldiers’ desperation and the brutal events they endure are almost too painful to watch. There’s some kind of explanation about the creatures’ origins, but not enough to fully remove the cosmic horror that comes with the scenes of hordes of them running out of their huge burrows.
6/10 The Tall Grass (Volume 2, Episode 5)
A curious passenger onboard a steam train is at the center of ‘The Tall Grass.’ Laird ignores the conductor’s warnings not to go into the field while repairs are made on the train, but the protagonist can’t resist checking what the strange lights could be. They are soon revealed to be disgusting and dangerous monsters that almost kill Laird, with the conductor swooping in at the last minute.
What makes the episode loosely fit into the eldritch category is the conductor’s theory that the creatures are in the tall grass seeking a portal to another world. It’s unsettling to think that an innocent-looking patch of land could hold unspeakable horrors that lead to a whole new dimension, just waiting to be unleashed.
5/10 Bad Travelling (Volume 3, Episode 2)
When a murderous “thanapod” boards a ship in ‘Bad Travelling,’ Torrin draws the short straw and is forced to confront the creature. They end up striking a deal, but what follows is a series of betrayals and arguments among the crew that leaves all but Torrin dead. The thanapod soon meets its own demise after Torrin burns it and the ship before they could reach their destination.
The thanapod and its creepy offspring somewhat fit into Lovecraftian horror, particularly in the way the genre prefers slimy and visceral textures in its creatures. Its disgusting use of corpses to speak is just plain nightmare fuel, though.
4/10 Zima Blue (Volume 1, Episode 14)
One of the smartest characters in the show is introduced in ‘Zima Blue,’ as the titular artist finally agrees to an interview after years of reclusion. He soon reveals how different he truly is from everyone else, as he has transcended the understanding of humans and can fully grasp the cosmos. After everything he has learned, all he wants is to go back to being a simple pool tile cleaner.
While it’s not exactly scary, Zima’s experiences reflect a crucial aspect of Lovecraftian horror. The artist has reached an unfathomable position in the universe and found a level of comprehension of the grand cosmos no human has seen, which only prompts him to want to go back to not knowing.
3/10 Beyond The Aquila Rift (Volume 1, Episode 7)
‘Beyond the Aquila Rift’ introduces one of the most terrifying creatures in Love, Death & Robots, Greta. Initially seen as a friendly face who welcomes them to an unfamiliar part of the galaxy due to a routing error, Thom soon learns that Greta is not what she seems. The arachnid creature reveals itself to Thom, who’s actually stranded in its nest and is being fed a false reality over and over again.
It’s an episode that in true Lovecraftian fashion, makes viewers feel vulnerable, scared, and small. In the vast universe, Thom is stuck in an alien creature’s nest, believing its lies while his crew lay dead around him. With no way home, it’s likely he’ll be there until his last breath.
2/10 Swarm (Volume 3, Episode 6)
Far into the future, two scientists are researching the titular being in ‘Swarm.’ They believe that humanity can use it, so they betray their host by obtaining its genetic information. Soon, an intelligent branch known as The Swarm is born to defend the hive, with the being speaking through one of the scientist’s corpses. The surviving scientist accepts a challenge that probably leads to humanity being assimilated into the swarm like every creature that has come before him.
The grand and incomprehensible power of The Swarm is meant to inspire cosmic horror. The being itself describes how humanity is nothing but a blip when compared to everything The Swarm has endured. It’s not hard to imagine that it eventually absorbed human beings in that universe, and one can only hope it doesn’t come for this one next.
1/10 In Vaulted Halls Entombed (Volume 3, Episode 8)
If there’s one episode from the anthology series that shows Lovecraftian horror through and through, it’s ‘In Vaulted Halls Entombed.’ It follows a group of soldiers who find themselves going much deeper into a perilous cave than they intended, with a mob of spider-like creatures pushing them further in. From afar, the eldritch horror can already be heard, and it’s more spine-chilling up close.
Two survivors confront a Cthulhu-like monster that bores into their minds through its sight, forcing one of the soldiers to cut out her own eyes and kill her commander. The hair-raising ending shows her mutilated face and depicts her muttering in an alien language as she walks away from the cave. It’s disturbing cosmic horror at its finest, which viewers will hopefully get more of in future episodes.