List of fictional tricksters
The trickster, in later folklore or modern popular culture, is a clever, mischievous person or creature, who achieves his or her ends through the use of trickery. A trickster may trick others simply for their amusement, they could be a physically weak character trying to survive in a dangerous world, or they could even be a personification of the chaos that the world needs to function.
An archetypical example is of a fairy tale of the King who puts suitors for his daughter to the test. No brave and valiant prince or knight succeeds, until a simple peasant arrives. Aided only by his natural wit, he evades danger and triumphs over monsters and villains without fighting. Thus the most unlikely candidate passes the trials and receives the prize. Such characters are a staple of animated cartoons, in particular those used and developed by Tex Avery et al. during the Golden Age of American animation.
Hynes and Doty, in Mythical Trickster Figures (1997) state that every trickster has several of the following six traits:
- fundamentally ambiguous and anomalous
- deceiver and trick-player
- messenger and imitator of the gods
- sacred and lewd bricoleur
Tricksters in folklore and fiction
- Anansi - The spider trickster of African origin
- Amadan-na-Briona - The Fool of the Forth
- Br'er Rabbit - A slave trickster of African American origin.
- Coyotes in various native North American mythologies.
- Curupira - A Brazilian folklore (male) jungle genie that protects the animals and the trees of the forests. It has red hair and backwards feet to confuse hunters and lumberjacks.
- Dionysus - Greek God of wine, madness, and ecstasy. More than any other Greek God, he is associated with shape-shifting and taking on other identities (which is part of why is also associated with actors). A thoroughly ambiguous person, in personality, but also in his androgynous figure, you never know exactly what he will do next.
- Eris - Greek Goddess of chaos in Greek mythology.
- Eshu/Eleggua/Legba - One of the primary orishas in Yorùbá religion, patron of roads (especially crossroads), doors, and travelers, as well as a spirit of chaos and trickery.
- Hermes - Messenger of the gods in Greek mythology (or Mercury in Roman mythology), inventor of fire, and patron of travelers, boundaries and thieves.
- Jack - (best known from the story Jack and the Beanstalk) is a young boy who uses his wit to outsmart characters in many stories.
- Jack Mary Ann - A folk hero from the Wrexham area of north Wales whose fictionalised exploits continue to circulate in local folklore.
- John the Conqueror - Character who appears in many stories from the African American tradition. He is a slave that is so much smarter than any slave-master, he simply cannot be controlled.
- Kitsune They are described as "tricksters" with no care for the concept of right or wrong.
- Kuma Lisa - A fox and trickster figure in Bulgarian folklore.
- Loki - A shape-shifting, troublesome giant and citizen of Asgard in Norse mythology.
- Māui - A Polynesian culture hero famous for his exploits and his trickery.
- Pan - God of shepherds and flocks. He is a satyr: a creature that has the upper body of a man and the legs of a goat. In many stories, they talk of Pan, or just satyrs in general are known to play tricks on people, especially children, for their amusement.
- Panurge companion of the Giant Pantagruel in the books of Francois Rabelais
- Puck/Robin Goodfellow - From Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, plays tricks on a group of humans who stumble into a forest. His final monologue explains the nature of tricksters.
- Puss in Boots - A magical cat who tricks a king into raising a low born miller to the station of a great noble.
- Reynard - A red fox and trickster figure who plays a central role in the moralistic fables of the Reynard cycle.
- Saci - A Brazilian folklore character, a one-legged black or mulatto youngster with holes in the palms of his hands, who smokes a pipe and wears a magical red cap.
- Satan - In some interpretations of Christianity, Satan could be seen as the ultimate trickster whose role is to corrupt humanity. Satan was sometimes depicted as a trickster in English miracle plays.
- Susanoo - Amaterasu's brother, Trickster of Japanese mythology.
- Till Eulenspiegel Trickster of German folklore
In movies, television, animation, novels, short stories, comics, and video games
- Aang - The hero of Avatar: The Last Airbender enjoys tricking and playing jokes on his foes. Most of the Fire Nation thinks of him as a child because of this.
- Anna (Fire Emblem) - She appears throughout almost every game throughout the series even over thousands of years and the change of setting to different continents and different worlds. "She" is actually cursed, her whole family is, to only give birth to identical Anna's. They use this curse to place themselves in places of power throughout the series, such as the Outrealm gatekeepers and owners of various shops throughout the ages. They use this ability to gain cash and profit, something all Anna's seem to love. Her playable class is called "Trickster".
- Bart Simpson - From the animated TV series The Simpsons.
- Bartimaeus - A cheeky djinni, and the main character of the book series by Jonathan Stroud The Bartimaeus Sequence. He is a shape-shifter, and a humorous and arrogant character with a high intelligence.
- Beetlejuice - From the Tim Burton Movie, he is a Poltergeist from the Underworld, who can change shape and make things appear out of nothing. He is obnoxious and devious and is a perfect example of a trickster.
- Bugs Bunny - A rabbit trickster, in some respects similar to Brer Rabbit.
- Clopin - King of the Gypsies and Master of Ceremonies at the Festival of Fools, from the Disney Film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, he is a brightly clothed jester who is devious and has a dark humor.
- Discord - An antagonist of Season Two of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, and a protagonist in Season 3. He is a chimera-like creature known as a "Draconequus" and the spirit of disharmony in the world of Equestria.
- Cugel - From Cugel's Saga by Jack Vance
- El-ahrairah - The Prince of Rabbits, or the "Prince with the Thousand Enemies"; the trickster folk hero of the rabbits in Watership Down.
- Felix the Cat - A "transgressor of boundaries" (in the most literal sense).
- The Great Gazoo - A resident of the planet Zetox, Gazoo arrived in Bedrock to annoy Fred and Barney in The Flintstones.
- The Great Milenko - A character in the Insane Clown Posse's joker's cards series who performs illusions on individuals. His role is to tempt individuals into performing evil acts by showing them illusions. These can be the mental way we block the truth of our actions or specific lies that convince us to take improper action. Then, right before he kills the person, he shows them the complete truth of how evil they have been.
- Gregory House - A genius, antisocial doctor who leads a team of diagnosticians as Head of Diagnostics in a fictional New Jersey hospital. "House" uses his unique talents to manipulate others for his own amusement. He unravels the most difficult medical mysteries while not seeming to work at it, spending his time getting what he wants from everyone around him (his team, boss, only friend, and patients). His tricks win the childish interactions that "interest him" and makes others uneasy. Once, to replace his missing team, House coerces a hospital handyman to do differential diagnoses and help test and treat a patient. In almost every episode House comes out on top by using intellect and manipulative tricks.
- Harvey the pooka, a large anthropomorphic rabbit who can be seen only by the protagonist, from the play and film bearing his name.
- Impossible Man - An amoral, childlike, shapeshifting extraterrestrial from the Fantastic Four comics.
- Jack Sparrow - A notorious pirate captain from Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean film series. Sparrow uses wit and deceit to attain his goals, preferring to end disputes verbally instead of by force.
- Jareth - King of the Goblins from Jim Henson's Labyrinth, who changes forms and uses magic to cajole the story's heroine through a series of puzzles.
- Joseph Joestar - Protagonist of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2: Battle Tendency. He defeats most of his opponents through clever tactics and tricks.
- The Joker - The chaotic counterpart to Batmans strive for order displays several characteristics of the trickster. Inscrutable, unpredictable and a defining obsession with gags and pranks that are sometimes harmless, sometimes deadly.
- Kyprioth the Trickster - A character first mentioned in the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce and is a main character in the Daughter of the Lioness duo by the same author. He is head god of the Raka of the Copper Isles and has a direct tie to George Cooper and Aly. He is the god of thieves and tricksters.
- Loki (comics) - From the Marvel Comics series, and from the new Marvel movies Thor, The Avengers and Thor: The Dark World. He is based directly off of the trickster god Loki from Scandinavian mythology.
- The Mask - Wears a mask imbued with Loki's powers and lack of inhibition.
- Michigan J. Frog - Chuck Jones' famous cartoon character
- Mister Mxyzptlk - An imp from the fifth dimension featured in the Superman comics.
- Peeves - A troublemaking poltergeist in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series who haunts the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
- The Pink Panther - A character featured at the start of the film and the animated series of the same name.
- Puck from Gargoyles - The Faerie trickster from A Midsummer Night's Dream, he plays a major role in the Disney animated Television show "Gargoyles".
- Q and fellow members of the Q Continuum - From the TV series Star Trek.
- Sam - The main character of Roger Zelazny's novel Lord of Light, he created Buddhism on the colony world to oppose the dictatorship of impersonators of Hindu gods who ruled the planet.
- The Doctor - The title character of Doctor Who. Certain, if not all, incarnations of the Doctor can be seen as tricksters, particularly the second, fourth, seventh and eleventh Doctors. They use their skills of trickery to escape using force to win a battle, escape villans, and/or repair the space-time continuum.
- The Trickster (Constantine) - The main antagonist of Thief: The Dark Project, he masquerades as an eccentric noble named Constantine, and apparently has the ability to shapeshift. His disguise serves to trick Garrett into giving him a powerful artifact that will return the world to a wild state.
- Trickster- From the 1994 horror film "Brainscan" starring T. Ryder Smith as the Trickster.
- The Trickster (Gabriel) - An antagonist of Seasons Two and Three of Supernatural, who often plays tricks on Sam and Dean. In Season Five, it is revealed that he is the archangel Gabriel who came to Earth to get away from the fighting between his angelic brothers in Heaven, and that he took on the name of Loki and masqueraded as a pagan god once on earth.
- Wile E. Coyote - Featured in the Road Runner cartoons and based on a traditional Native American trickster figure, Old Man Coyote. An argument might also be made that Wile E. Coyote's nemesis, the Road Runner itself, is also at least as great a trickster as Wile E. himself.
- Woody Woodpecker - "A less complex version of the Trickster."
- Hynes, William J. and William G. Doty. (1993). Mythical Trickster Figures, (pp. 34-42). Tuscaloosa:The University of Alabama Press.
- Characteristics of a Slave Trickster, Emerson College. Retrieved on July 11, 2007.
- DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan (2007-09-06). Interview: Avatar's Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. Interview with Eduardo Vasconcellos. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- Grand Valley State University Trickster World Mythology Course (Eng 104). Retrieved on: 2007-07-20.
- The Incarnation of a Trickster, Retrieved on July 11, 2007[dead link]
- Patricia Vettel Tom. (1996) "Felix the Cat as Modern Trickster" American Art, Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring, 1996), pp. 64-87. Retrieved on July 11, 2007
- "Pirates Dead Man's Chest: Depp's Iconic Role". Emanuel Levy. 2006. Retrieved May 31, 2007.
- Terri Windling. Wile E. Coyote and Other Sly Trickster Tales. The Endicott Studio. Retrieved on July 11, 2007.
- Tina Blue. (2001) Traditional Themes and Motifs in Literature. Retrieved on July 11, 2007.