The Dogfish is first mentioned in chapter XXIV, when Pinocchio, whilst searching for his creator Mister Geppetto, is informed by a dolphin that he has likely been swallowed by the creature which "...for some days has come to wreak extermination and desolation in our waters". The Dogfish is later mentioned in chapter XXVI by Pinocchio's school friends on the Island of the Busy Bees (Isola delle Api Industriose), who tell him that the creature has been sighted on the coast, so to coax Pinocchio away from school.
The Dogfish makes its first appearance in chapter XXXIV when Pinocchio, recently transformed from a donkey back to his puppet form, has entered the sea to escape from his former handler. The Fairy with Turquoise Hair, in the form of a mountain goat, warns Pinocchio of the Dogfish too late, and the puppet is swallowed whole, along with a tuna whom Pinocchio befriends. Pinocchio discovers his father, who reveals that he has been trapped within the Dogfish for two years, surviving on ship supplies swallowed by the creature. The Dogfish is revealed to suffer from asthma, and to sleep with its head emerged from the water. Pinocchio carries Geppetto on his back and swims out of the Dogfish's mouth. When Pinocchio's strength begins to fail, the tuna helps them reach the shore.
In the Disney film
Main article: Monstro
In Pinocchio, the sea monster (named Monstro, the Portuguese word for monster) is portrayed as a sperm whale, and first mentioned when Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket receive a message from the Blue Fairy that Geppetto, while venturing towards Pleasure Island to find Pinocchio, has been swallowed by the creature. The two search for the monster, but are frustrated by the fear the various nekton display at the mention of his name. Upon their encounter with him, Monstro swallows Pinocchio, who discovers Geppetto in Monstro's throat, prompting both to escape. Pinocchio frees them by starting a fire and thus prompting Monstro to expel them from his mouth; whereupon Monstro becomes enraged and pursues them, but fails, and Monstro's fate is unrevealed. Monstro was animated by Wolfgang Reitherman, the go-to man for action sequences among Disney's Nine Old Men.
In Kingdom Hearts
The Disney version of Monstro also appears in the video game Kingdom Hearts as a supporting world, where Pinocchio and Geppetto temporarily live until being rescued. Within Monstro dwell many Heartless, including one called the Parasite Cage, which eats Pinocchio, trapping him within its cage-like stomach, and delivers the puppet to Riku, who wishes to use Pinocchio's heart to rescue Kairi. After Kingdom Hearts is sealed, Monstro presumably returns to his world. He later reappears in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, as a figment of Sora and Riku's memories. Monstro himself is not physically seen, but card rooms resembling his bowels are explored. In the Final Mix version of Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Monstro appears as a boss fight in the Mirage Arena. He reappears as a sub-world in his homeworld, Prankster's Paradise, in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
In Bonkers (TV series)
In addition, Monstro had a guest star appearance in a Bonkers comic story titled "Whale of a Tale", published in the December 1994 issue of Disney Adventures. In this story, he is not villainous, but rather a polite actor who was simply playing a role in Pinocchio and had not found work in the movies since then; he is duped by a gang of crooks, posing as a movie company, into breaking into banks for them to rob, and upon finding out the truth, helps Bonkers catch the criminals.
The Whale also plays a notable role in the Disneyland version of Fantasmic!, and also has a smaller role in the Dancing Bubbles scene in the Disney's Hollywood Studios version.
In other media
- In Giuliano Cencis 1972 adaptation Un burattino di nome Pinocchio, the Terrible Dogfish is portrayed very similarly to that of the book, the only difference being that it is not mentioned before its initial appearance.
- In Steve Barrons 1996 live action film The Adventures of Pinocchio, the Terrible Dogfish (referred to only as "the sea monster") is shown to be Mangiafuoco, who is named "Lorenzini", who also filled the role of the Coachman in the movie and played by Udo Kier, transformed after drinking the cursed water which turned children into donkeys.
- In the anime manga series MÄR, the Guardian ARM Fastico Galleon, is a giant whale-like creature based on Monstro from the Disney movie.
- In ABC's Once Upon A Time, it was long speculated by fans that Monstro became Dr. Whale when the curse brought the storybook characters to the real world. This was proven false in season 2, where it was revealed that Dr. Whale was the counterpart of Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Monstro makes a brief appearance in the season 1 episode "The Stranger", fulfilling the same role as the original story. His fate after the curse is yet to be seen.