[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/red_sonja.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:300: BringIt.]]

->''"Know also, O prince, that in the selfsame days that [[Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian the CIMMERIAN]] did stalk the HYBORIAN KINGDOMS, one of the few swords worthy to cross his was that of RED SONJA, warrior-woman out of majestic HYRKANIA. Forced to flee her homeland because she spurned the advances of a king a slew him insread, she rode west across the TURANIAN steppes and into the shadowed mists of legendry."''
-->-- '''The Nemedian Chronicles'''

Red Sonja, the She-Devil with a Sword, is a fictional character, a low fantasy sword and sorcery heroine created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith. She first appeared in ''Comicbook/ConanTheBarbarian'' #23 (MarvelComics, February 1973). The character was loosely based on Red Sonya of Rogatino in Creator/RobertEHoward's short story ''[[http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Shadow_of_the_Vulture The Shadow of the Vulture]]'' (''The Magic Carpet'', January 1934), which Roy Thomas rewrote as a Conan story for the Marvel comic.

The character now appears monthly in her own series, as well as a series of mini-series and one-shots, all published by Dynamite Entertainment. The main Red Sonja series features a wide array of cover artists as well as the regular creative team of writer Michael Avon Oeming and artist Mel Rubi. The monthly series is currently being written by Creator/GailSimone, with a four-issue spin-off, ''Legends of Red Sonja'', in publication, featuring a wide array of well-known female fantasy writers from Creator/MercedesLackey to Creator/TamoraPierce.

Red Sonja has become the archetypical example of the fantasy figure of a fierce and stunningly beautiful female barbarian in the utterly impractical ChainmailBikini.

Red Sonja lived with her family in a humble house in the Western Hyrkanian steppes (modern Ukraine/Russia). When she had just turned 17 years old, a group of mercenaries killed her family and burned down their house. Sonja survived but she had been brutally raped by the leader of the group, leaving her in shame. Answering her cry for revenge, the red goddess Scathach appeared to her, and instilled in her incredible skill in the handling of swords and other weapons on the condition that she would never lie with a man unless he defeated her in fair combat. (The "fair" part is sometimes not included.)

Sonja has been featured in several novels by David C. Smith and Richard L. Tierney with covers by Creator/BorisVallejo:

# ''The Ring of Ikribu'' (Ace 1981) (Adapted to comics by Roy Thomas and Esteban Maroto in ''The Savage Sword of Conan'' issues 230-3)
# ''Demon Night'' (Ace 1982)
# ''When Hell Laughs'' (Ace 1982)
# ''Endithor's Daughter'' (Ace 1982)
# ''Against the Prince of Hell'' (Ace 1983)
# ''Star of Doom'' (Ace 1983)

On television, Red Sonja makes an appearance on the ''Conan'' TV series, in the episode, "Red Sonja". She is on a mission to rescue a young wizard who was kidnapped. When one of Conan's partners sarcastically asks why the village didn't send their best warriors, Sonja replies, "They did send their best warrior, mulebrain!" She was played by Angelica Bridges.

She was played by Brigitte Nielsen in the 1985 film ''Film/RedSonja'', which also starred Creator/ArnoldSchwarzenegger as Prince Kalidor (a Conan clone)[[note]] Indeed, it was originally supposed to have been a third Conan movie (following ''Film/ConanTheBarbarian1982'' and ''Film/ConanTheDestroyer''), but things happened...[[/note]]. The film was directed by Richard Fleischer. It performed poorly at the box office, and was also widely panned by critics but gained a cult following throughout the years from its VHS release.

A remake of Red Sonja is reportedly in the works. It was to be produced by Creator/RobertRodriguez, directed by Creator/DouglasAarniokoski, and actress Creator/RoseMcGowan would have portrayed Red Sonja. Recent developments, however, indicate that the project is [[DevelopmentHell on ice]].

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!!The series provides examples of:

* ActionGirl
* AmazonianBeauty: Definitely Nielsen in TheMovie. The comic character can be this DependingOnTheArtist.
* AndroclesLion: In ''Red Sonja: Beserker'', Sonja rescues a polar bear cub from a pair of sadistic hunters who were tormenting it. The bear stays with her through winter. Years later, Sonja has been sentenced to [[GladiatorGames die in the arena]] and a bear is unleashed against her. It turns out to be the same bear and refuses to attack her. The two team up and escape the arena.
* ArentYouGoingToRavishMe: In ''ComicBook/WhatIf'' v2 #16, a crossover with {{Wolverine}}, Red Sonja is beaten by Wolverine and essentially gives up and waits for him to rape her, but he walks away, disgusted by the idea and saying "Sorry, darlin', that ain't my style." Sonja is both perplexed and slightly insulted, so she follows him. After their next meeting he warms up to her, and she eventually becomes his queen.
* BarbarianHero : Rare female version.
* BatheHerAndBringHerToMe
* BeautyIsNeverTarnished: While she does get a few dirt smears on her once in a while, this is played straight to an extreme degree. Sonja has been slashed, impaled with arrows (albeit in the arms or legs), and even got got shot with a police revolver in her team-up with Spider-man. In no instance has she ever been scarred, lampshaded at the end of her Spider-man team-up, she wakes up lying on an altar somewhere in her own time period and finds the bullet she had been struck with. Most recently she contracted black plague and while one panel had her sprouting some boils on her face, these immediately disappeared the panel after.
* BestHerToBedHer: Former TropeNamer.
** LoopholeAbuse: As might be expected in a modern take on the story, deconstructing the exact wording and meaning of Sonja's vow has been attempted in her current series. Aside from the presence of the word fair (which can come and go, depending on the story), and for that matter the ''definition'' of fair combat, in issue 15 of the Dynamite series, [[spoiler:a demigod defeats her (''and'' two of her friends, which apparently made it a fair fight) in battle. However, he knows nothing of her vow. Later, they become allies, and she comes to admire him, so she allows herself the indulgence.]] In issue 31, it's revealed she can lie with any man she chooses if she permanently foreswears her blessed skills. It would also follow that she does not have to let a man rape her if he defeats her, but the option to sleep with him is there if he does. In addition, there is no provision against love, just physical affection--it is as much a test of Sonja's will to abide by her vow as it is a compact from her goddess. The wording of her vow also means that if she were to be raped, she would ''not'' lose her blessed skills in consequence.
* BlackMagic
* BlitheSpirit: Of the more violent sort. In general, the Hyboria is at least as patriarchal as the medieval times of our own world; when she passes through a town, though, some of the women tend to take inspiration from her example.
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: Roy Thomas has said that when he 'created' Sonja, he made her a redhead so she she be visually distinct from the other major women in Conan's life; the black haired Belit and the blonde Valeria. Of course, the original Red Sonya of Rogatino had red hair, and since he ripped her off this might be nonsense.
** Thomas has also said that when he first read ''The Shadow of the Vulture'' he thought Red Sonya of Rogitano would make an excellent foil for Conan. So it is likely that when he was casting around for another female character, he remembered Sonya and the red hair helped to clinch the deal.
* TheCaligula: When she wasn't killing evil sorcerers, Red Sonja was often killing mad kings, many of whom attempted to imprison her in their [[RoyalHarem harem]].
* CarnivalOfKillers: The Gray Riders, a group of twelve mercenaries and assassins hired to hunt down and kill Sonja in the ''Legends of Red Sonja'' mini-series.
* ChainmailBikini: Usually attributed to artist Esteban Maroto. Red Sonja is the TropeCodifier, if not the UrExample.
* ColorCharacter
* CombatPragmatist: Especially in Creator/GailSimone's run on the series. Sonja uses her ChainmailBikini to distract male opponents and in ''Legends of Red Sonja'' tells a former adventuring partner to spread lies about her cowardice and lack of prowess so a group of hunters tracking her will be caught off guard. When it comes to a straight-up fight, though, she's perfectly willing to put on a suit of full plate armor and pull out all the stops with her swordfighting skills.
* CoolOldLady: Gerd, the blacksmith and retired adventurer who gives Sonja her very first ChainmailBikini in a story by Rhianna Pratchett in ''Legends of Red Sonja''. She [[BigBeautifulWoman cut an impressive figure]] [[StoutStrength herself]] before she settled down.
* CrossOver: Red Sonja has crossed over with a number of others, from the obvious like ClawTheUnconquered, a BarbarianHero from a different publisher, to ComicBook/SpiderMan and ComicBook/{{Wolverine}}.
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu: EvilSorcerer Thulsa Doom slays an Elder God in ''Queen Sonja'' #20. Overlaps with DidYouJustScamCthulhu, as he first tricks it into giving him enough power to allow him to kill it.
** Sonja herself gets this alot, in one mini-series she kills Woden, Loki, the Fenris Wolf and the Midgard Serpet. She also became a Witchblade wielder in another mini-series and defeats a fallen archangel.
* DistractedByTheSexy: This is [[DependingOnTheWriter sometimes]] given as the reason for the ChainmailBikini.
* TheDogBitesBack: In the first arc of Simone's run [[spoiler:the queen of the king killed by the mad King of Zamora gets even with him by feeding him the very poison he'd used to decimate the countryside in his drink, resulting in an extremely messy death as all his organs fail at once]].
* DolledUpInstallment: Sonja's first appearance was an adaptation of Howard's non-Conan story ''The Shadow of the Vulture''.
* EnigmaticEmpoweringEntity: The Lady
* EternalHero: After a story in which Sonja dies, the subsequent story has the character being reincarnated. This is later revealed to be a mystic line of reincarnation, [[spoiler:back to the days before humans used weapons--Sonja's original incarnation was the first to do so. Apparently being a FieryRedhead is actually the real power of the line, as her fury is what allows each incarnation a way of becoming a great warrior regardless of circumstances, but depending on how she does it, that fury means she can end up a great hero or a great villain.]]
* EvenTheGirlsWantHer: Happens from time to time.
* EvilAlbino: Trolus from ''Savage Sword of Conan'' #1.
* EvilCounterpart: Crimson Katherine from ''Giant-Size Red Sonja'' #2.
* EvilOverlord: Many of Sonja's enemies.
* EvilSorcerer: Kulan Gath, amongst many others.
* ExposedToTheElements: Sonja both averts this and plays this straight, depending on the writer and artist of the story. The better writers will have her wearing several layers of fur when she is in a snow-covered realm. The worst ones will have her marching through the snow in a ChainmailBikini without even as much as a fur cloak.
* TheFagin: Jubal
* {{Fanservice}}: What do you think the ChainmailBikini is for?
* FieryRedhead
* FullFrontalAssault: On a few occasions, Red Sonja has broken out of a [[RoyalHarem harem]] and fought while clothed only with shadow.
** In the third Smith/Tierney novel, ''When Hell Laughs'', her ChainmailBikini is torn off her in the middle of battle. She fights on, and makes no attempt to cover herself even when the danger is past. (For the remainder of the novel series she wears more practical armor, though the cover art keeps the bikini.)
** It also happens in the first act of ''Red Sonja: Blue''; during battle with a monster to save a young man from being a virgin sacrifice, her top is ripped away. [[ArmorIsUseless This, naturally, just pisses her off]], and after defeating the monster (berating the boy not to look all through the rest of the battle) skins it to wear its blue fur as a makeshift tunic.
* GirlPowered: The McGuffin in the film could only be handled by women. Men who touched it were instantly killed by bad special effects.
* GladiatorGames: Sonja is sentenced to the arena in the ''Red Sonja: Berserker'' one-shot.
* GoGoEnslavement: A frequent trait of bad guys. The King of Zamora is shown having multiple slaves of both genders from kingdoms he's conquered, including at least one queen whose husband he murdered.
* AHandfulForAnEye: Sonja pulls this trick on Raven in the ''Red Sonja: Raven'' one-shot.
* HeroicFantasy
* KangarooCourt: Sonja finds herself before one in the ''Red Sonja: Beserker'' one -shot after maiming two young hotheads who mistook her for a prostitute and then attacked. One of them was the son of the justicar who sat in judgement on her.
* TheLadette: Especially in Gail Simone's run. Sonja is not particularly modest, has an aggressive appetite for sex, booze and food, sings bawdy songs and has a mouth as foul as anyone else's she might encounter.
* LowFantasy
* ManEatingPlant: ''Savage Tales'' #5.
* MarkOfShame: In the first arc by Gail Simone, Sonja's face is marked with one after she contracts the plague.
* MistakenForProstitute: This happens to Sonja on a semi-regular basis; largely due to her habit of hanging around seedy taverns in her ChainMailBikini. Thus usually ends badly for the person making the mistake, although she always gives them the opportunity to apologise before kicking their ass. They seldom take it.
* OhMyGods: "By Ishtar and Mitra!"
* PirateGirl: Sonja has been a pirate from time to time.
* {{Pirates}}: Just as with ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'', pirates feature prominently in the Red Sonja stories: both as enemies and allies.
* PrivateMilitaryContractors: When she's not righting wrongs and helping the helpless (or getting into bar fights, or killing people for looking at her funny, or cutting her way through a few dozen guards of the latest guy to kidnap her and try to make her part of his harem and then making him wear his ass as a hat, or any of the other sort of violence she engages in), Sonja tends to make a living as one of these.
* PsychoLesbian: Not Sonja, but some of her foes fall into this category.
* RapeAsBackstory
* RapeAsDrama
* RedHeadedHero
* ReTool: The Creator/GailSimone series, with an eye toward {{Reconstruction}}.
* {{Retcon}}: Happened partially when Dynamite first re-introduced Red Sonja. While almost all the other details have been kept the same, her age had been reduced to tweeny-hood in her origin (perhaps to increase the believable length of her adventuring career). In the latest Gail Simone version, her origin seems to be partially retconned again, this time making her successful revenge against the killers of her family come from her own childhood skills as a hunter rather than being powered-up by a goddess.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Part of her backstory, but also like her SpearCounterpart Conan, would often find herself motivated to them, especially against foes that took particular delight in their crimes against women.
* SorcerousOverlord: Kulan Gath.
* SpikedWheels
* StatuesqueStunner
* {{Stripperiffic}}: Obviously. Probably the only major comic character who routinely wears less than her is [[TheSubMariner Namor]].
** Although semi-justified in the Dynamite Series as Red Sonja deliberately wears it to distract her mostly male adversaries. As she puts it "Men are easily distracted. Most don't even notice My Sword...until their head rolls off their necks."
* VirginSacrifice: Sonja saves a young man from this fate in ''Red Sonja: Blue''.
* WalkingTheEarth
* WaterfallShower: Sonja takes one (surrounded by strategic CensorSteam) just before she is captured by an EvilSorcerer at the start of ''Red Sonja Annual'' #4.
* WhenAnimalsAttack: Sonja sets the arena animals on their masters in ''Red Sonja: Berserker''.
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