By some definitions, Star Trek’s the Borg might themselves be considered parasites, since, with their assimilation nanites, they transform and co-opt organic beings into Borg.
But for this post, I’m going to concentrate on some memorable and gruesome biological parasites, rather than mechanical ones.
8. Prehistoric tape worm. This revolting creature appeared in the fourth episode of Primeval, which aired in March of 2007 in the UK.
Here, a flock of adorable dodos waddle through one of the series' colorful time anomalies into modern England, but a few of these extinct, flightless birds are carrying a parasite that can temporarily seize control of the host and act aggressively to assure reproduction. One of Connor's (Andrew-Lee Potts) friends, Tom (Jake Curran), is infected with the organism after a dodo bite on his arm. He soon suffers debilitating headaches, massive pain and increased paranoia as the worm inside him...grows. At one point in the episode, we see a high-resolution scan of Tom's skull, and this large, lively worm wriggling about inside it.
7. The Hellgramite. This parasite appeared in the third season of the first Twilight Zone remake (1985 – 1989) called “The Hellgramite Method.” In this tale by William Selby, an alcoholic named Miley Judson (Timothy Bottoms) realizes he risks losing his family if he doesn’t get off the booze permanently. Accordingly, he answers an ad for a cure for alcoholism and meets with Dr. Murrich (Leslie Yeo). The doctor, -- who lost his own family to a drunk driver -- gives Judson a red pill to swallow. Inside that pill, the drinker later learns, is a parasite called a Hellgramite: an unusual brand of tape worm that survives and thrives on alcohol. The more Judson drinks, the more the worm feeds and the bigger it grows. Now, Judson doesn’t even get the buzz of feeling drunk, no matter how much liquor he consumes! Eventually, if he keeps drinking, the Hellgramite will kill Miley, so the traumatized alcoholic must either starve the tapeworm and stop drinking for good, or let the thing kill him…
6. The Selminth. This parasitic creature appeared in the fifth and last season of Angel (1999 – 2005), in an episode titled “Soul Purpose,” written by Brent Fletcher and directed by David Boreanaz.
In this entry, Angel becomes trapped in a vegetative state while under the influence of a slimy worm-like creature called a Selminth Parasite.
This creature causes hallucinations in its host, and in the episode, Angel dreams that Spike has replaced him as the champion of the Shansu Prophecy. Here, the worm is used as a weapon by a sinister agent (Eve), and alters the very mind-state of the host. Angel must wake up and remove the parasite from his chest, or live in a a nightmare for the remainder of his days...
5. "Conspiracy.” In “Conspiracy,” a late first season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is warned by a friend, Captain Walker (Jonathan Farwell) that some kind of sinister agenda is afoot in Starfleet Command.
After Walker’s ship, The Horatio explodes in an apparent accident, Picard fears there might be some truth behind his friend’s paranoia. He orders the Enterprise back to Earth, and there discovers that the Admiralty itself has been infiltrated by parasitic aliens bent on conquering the Federation from within. These small, crab-like aliens enter human beings through the mouth, and then completely control all higher mental functions. The small parasites also report to a much-larger, dinosaur-like “mother” being that has found a home inside Commander Remmick (Robert Schenkkan). The parasites die without this mother being in close proximity.
4. The Ganglions. These skittering, slimy, multi-tentacled parasites appeared in the short-lived alien invasion series Dark Skies (1996 – 1997). The ganglions were first seen in the pilot episode, “The Awakening,” written by Brent Friedman and Bryce Zabel and directed by horror legend Tobe Hooper.
3. “Roadrunners.” An eighth season X-Files episode, Roadrunners,” by Vince Gilligan, introduces a parasitic creature that may or may not be of this Earth.
Here, Agent Scully (Gillian Anderson), sans partner, visits Utah to investigate a strange death. She soon runs afoul, instead, of a weird cult that believes a worm parasite represents the second coming of Jesus Christ on Earth.
In The X-Files, we are used to Mulder always having Scully’s back during a crisis. But here, Mulder is gone, abducted by aliens, and we don’t quite trust Agent Doggett (Robert Patrick) yet. Here, Scully is the most alone we’ve ever seen her, in real physical danger, contending with villains who can't be reasoned with. And she faces, clearly, a fate worse than death with that wriggling, monstrous worm in her back. In a truly upsetting scene, Scully is tied to a bed on her stomach, as the creature makes its subcutaneous approach.
2. The Invisibles. In a classic first season Outer Limits episode written by Joseph Stefano and directed by Conrad Hall, an undercover GIA agent, Spain (Don Gordon) attempts to infiltrate a secret and subversive society called the Invisibles.
Once inside the secret community, Spain learns that the strange group is led by hideous alien invaders: horrible crab-like creatures that attach themselves to the human spine and totally control minds. If the joining process goes wrong, humans are rendered deformed and nearly lobotomized.
1. Earwig. We never actually see the parasite in the classic episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery titled "The Caterpillar," but we certainly learn all about it.
Here, a nasty civil servant, Stephen Macy (Laurence Harvey) covets a co-worker's wife (Joanna Pettet) and attempts to off her husband with a parasite called an earwig. The murder scheme goes horribly wrong, however, when Stephen himself is exposed to the wee bug.