Coyotes in popular culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The coyote is a popular figure in folklore and popular culture. References may invoke either the animal coyote (a wild canine native to North America), or the mythological figure Coyote, common to many myths of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Traits commonly described include inventiveness, mischievousness, and evasiveness.

In folklore[edit]

Coyote is a mythological figure common to many Native American cultures, based on the coyote animal. This character is usually male and is generally anthropomorphic. The myths and legends which include Coyote vary widely from culture to culture. He can play the role of trickster or culture hero (or both), and also often appears in creation myths and just-so stories.

In television[edit]

In the television series Grimm, which features Detective Nick Burkhardt exploring his identity as a Grimm, a man capable of seeing other races known as Wesen, commonly resembling animals in their 'true' faces, and hunting those that commit crimes against humans, one episode sees him dealing with a race of coyote-like Wesen called Coyotl, who live in tribes and commit violent actions, as they attempt to abduct the daughter of a former member of their group to prepare her for a violent coming-of-age ritual.[episode needed]

In literature[edit]

A one-person play, According to Coyote, is based upon the Plateau folk tales about Coyote.

Coyote appears as a mythological trickster character in Buffalo Gals by Ursula Le Guin, Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore - which features the Native American trickster god, and Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King, among others. In Summerland by Michael Chabon, Coyote is the primary antagonist, who tries to destroy the world so that he can change his status from "Changer" (trickster) to "Maker", and create a universe all of his own.

The character appears in stranger guises in The Nagasaki Vector by L. Neil Smith, as a cyborg who specializes in scent tracking, and in Sky Coyote by Kage Baker, wherein the role of "Sky Coyote" is taken on by the cyborg Joseph in order to convince a Chumash community in California to evacuate in advance of European exploration. Baker's Sky Coyote ties in the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, as well. In a series of novels by Michael Bergey, including New Coyote and Coyote Season, Coyote reincarnates as a genetically engineered coyote to learn how to use science as well as magic.

Coyote appears as an animal in The Book of Sorrows by Walter Wangerin, Jr., wherein scrawny Ferric accidentally sets in motion a chain of events that bring Heaven and Hell crashing down upon the land.

A pack of Arizona desert coyotes are portrayed as nuisances when they harass a cowardly Great Dane and his friends in Bill Wallace's children's book, Watchdog and the Coyotes. The same author also wrote Coyote Summer, in which a twelve-year-old boy rescues and raises an orphaned pup after hunters kill its family.

In the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs (such as the sixth book, River Marked), the eponymous main character is able to shape-shift into a coyote.

In The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne (particularly in book two, Hexed), Coyote is portrayed as a trickster god who intervenes on behalf of Native Americans to protect them from a fallen angel that escaped Hell in book one, Hounded. In the series, there exists a separate Coyote for each tribe who believes in him, and each can come back from the dead whenever he is killed. The Coyote featured in the series represents the Diné (Navajo).[1] Again in Tricked, the fourth book of The Iron Druid Chronicles, Coyote and Atticus make a deal that involves helping the endangered druid. Atticus then helps Coyote in a new endeavor for his people. Of course, things get out hand or paw as it is.[2]

In comics, manga, and cartoons[edit]

Wilber the coyote, an official mascot for GIMP, is often seen with a paintbrush in his mouth.

Coyote is a character in the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court. He is the mythological Coyote who moved to the United Kingdom and has been using his trickery on the behalf of fantastic beings. A cartoon coyote is featured in the Grant Morrison comic book Animal Man.

The Coyote comic series features a lead hero/trickster character similar to the mythical versions of the Coyote, as well as a modern interpretation of a half-man/half-coyote hero. The trickster-god Coyote appears in the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court, his actions having far reaching consequences in the story. The Sonic the Hedgehog comic book features Antoine D'Coolette, a cowardly coyote with good intentions, and Patch, Antoine's opposite counterpart from a mirror universe, known for being cunning, deceptive, and cruel.

The cartoon coyote Wilber is the official mascot for GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program), a free raster graphics editor. He was created in 1997.

Wile E. Coyote could be considered an instance of the buffoon version of the Coyote myth. Wile E. Coyote is a popular character in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons, distributed by Warner Bros., who is endlessly trying to catch and eat an extremely fast Road Runner with his tricks, many of which involve technology or Rube Goldberg machines. His efforts are always futile, and he usually harms himself in the effort. Other cartoon characters inspired by him include Calamity Coyote in Tiny Toon Adventures and Tech E. Coyote in Loonatics Unleashed.

In Music[edit]

In Gregory Alan Isakov's song 3 a.m., there is a lyric that goes "I ain't out there to cheat you, see I killed that damn coyote in me" referring to the traditional habit of the trickster god Coyote to cheat people according to Native American mythology.[3]

Canadian country music legend Ian Tyson recorded his comparison of the resilient coyote to the quintessential cowboy, in "The Coyote & The Cowboy", on his 1987 album Cowboyography.[4]

In Sports[edit]

The coyote serves as the namesake mascot for the Arizona Coyotes in the NHL, University of South Dakota and the College of Idaho. The on court mascot of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs is also a coyote.


  1. ^ Kevin Hearne's Official Page, Hexed
  2. ^ Kevin Hearne's Official Page, Tricked
  3. ^ Gregory Alan Isakov Lyrics, 3 a.m.
  4. ^

External links[edit]