->''"Humour is tolerant, tender; its ridicule caresses. Wit stabs, begs pardon and turns the weapon in the wound."''
-->-- Taken from one of Bierce's late essays.

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce (June 24, 1842 circa 1914) was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist, and one of American literature's most intriguing, and most overlooked, luminaries... and a man who scared [[Creator/HPLovecraft Lovecraft]].

Ambrose Bierce (later nicknamed "Bitter Bierce" and the "Old Gringo") was a journalist and editorialist from Meigs County, Ohio, whose deeply cynical opinions on the world [[HumansAreFlawed and the people living in it]] led him to create his now-famous series of short stories and other fiction pieces, most notably ''An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge''[[note]]Adapted as a French short movie, which was then aired as a ''Series/TwilightZone'' episode[[/note]]. Bitter Bierce never gave anyone a reason to wonder about his nickname: he was aggressive and fond of war (though also an anti-imperialist), fascinated by death, ''very'' cynical about love and religion, and perplexed by women. His works are notable for their [[DarkerAndEdgier dark, troubled, and haunting]] tone and subject matter. He would have made a fine bedfellow for [[Creator/EdgarAllanPoe Poe]] and [[Creator/HPLovecraft Lovecraft]], but sadly, and certainly not for lack of talent on his part, he never achieved their notoriety.

Later in his life, when the Mexican Revolution was raging down south, Ambrose Bierce decided to leave the United States and contribute to the war effort in Mexico, hoping to meet up with and fight alongside Pancho Villa. After a couple of months (during which time he did indeed meet up with Pancho Villa), his letters to his friends in the States abruptly ceased. He was never heard from again. He may have had something of a death wish; see the Quotes page. The book (and TheFilmOfTheBook) ''Old Gringo'' speculates on what might have happened to him after his famous disappearance, but no one knows what happened for sure; he openly boasted to one friend that "No one will ever find my bones," and thus far has been proven correct.

Lovecraft enthusiasts should be familiar with ''An Inhabitant of Carcosa'', his contribution to the Franchise/CthulhuMythos.

!!Works by Ambrose Bierce with their own trope pages include:

* ''Literature/AnOccurrenceAtOwlCreekBridge''
* ''Literature/TheDevilsDictionary''

!!Other works by Ambrose Bierce provide examples of:

%%* AndIMustScream
* BlackComedy: "Oil of Dog", "My Favorite Murder", "An Imperfect Conflagration".
* BreakoutCharacter: ''Haita the Shepherd'' included a reference to a benevolent deity named ''Hastur'', and ''An Inhabitant of Carcosa'' featured the titular city. Later writers [[Literature/TheKingInYellow borrowed]] [[Franchise/CthulhuMythos the names]].
* BuriedAlive: Combined with GraveRobbing in "One Summer Night".
* DeadpanSnarker: Heavy on the deadpan and the snark, and usually in very mean-spirited (but funny) ways.
* DeathEqualsRedemption: Bierce was a strong proponent of this trope, at least when it came to the deaths of soldiers. This attitude is best demonstrated in essays such as "A Bivouac of the Dead" and the poem "To E. S. Salomon".
* EekAMouse: In "The Cat and the Youth", one of the retellings in ''Aesopus Emendatus'', a cat transformed into a human woman proves the success of the transformation by doing this. [[spoiler: She also ticks off the man she was trying to woo.]]
* ExactWords: In "One Kind of Officer", a captain tells a lieutenant "it is not permitted to you to know anything," having received a similar insulting order from his general and wanting to take it out on a subordinate. He comes to regret this.
* ExcuseBoomerang:
-->"There's no free will," says the philosopher;\\
"To hang is most unjust."\\
"There is no free will," assents the officer;\\
"We hang because we must."
* FictionalColor: The story [[spoiler:"The Damned Thing"]] features a monster that is invisible because it is a color that humans can't see.
* {{Fractured Fairy Tale}}s: ''Aesopus Emendatus''.
* HumanityEnsues: In "The Cat and the Youth", one of the retellings in ''Aesopus Emendatus'', a cat becomes a human woman after falling in love with a young man.
* {{Humans are Flawed}}
* {{Humans are Morons}}
* HurricaneOfPuns: His poems take the cake.
* InvisibleMonsters: [[spoiler:The eponymous creature in "The Damned Thing".]]
* MercyKill: A particularly horrid (and ultimately futile) version takes place in "The Coup de Grace".
* OurGhostsAreDifferent: "The Death of Halpin Frayser" .
* RashomonStyle: "The Moonlit Road" is an early example.
* RobotRebellion / TurnedAgainstTheirMasters: "Moxon's Master"
* ShootTheShaggyDog: "Chickamauga".
* {{Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism}}: Overwhelmingly on the cynical side.
* SpoofAesop: ''Fantastic Fables.''
* UndeadAuthor: In "The Stranger", a troop of Union soldiers on an exploration quest through Arizona is approached by a mysterious man who narrates the story of four previous explorers who died nearby. When one of the soldiers challenges him on how he knows the story when he claims there were no survivors, he disappears into thin air.
* {{War is Hell}}: Bierce was 19 when he enlisted in the Union Army and many people claim that this is what inspired the more nightmarish images in his stories. This trope features quite frequently in his Civil War stories.
!!Appearances in fiction:

* ''Old Gringo'' by Carlos Fuentes
* In Creator/RobertBloch's story "I Like Blondes" (originally published in ''Playboy'', 1956), the alien tells Shirley that "the body I'm using right now. Its name was Ambrose Beers, I believe. [Ril] picked it up in Mexico a long time ago..."
** That was a GeniusBonus reference, for sure.
* It's hinted that Bierce was a patron at the very exclusive restaurant in Stanley Ellin's "Specialty of the House". [[spoiler:And eventually the title dish.]]
* Creator/JasperFforde's ''[[Literature/ThursdayNext The Well of Lost Plots]]'' claims that he became a book-jumping agent of Jurisfiction.
* Creator/PhilFoglio's ''ComicBook/StanleyAndHisMonster'' miniseries claims that his horror stories were based on truth, and he staged his own disappearance to avoid an EldritchAbomination that was coming to complain about his depiction of it. Oddly enough, it also used him as an {{expy}} of [[ComicBook/{{Hellblazer}} John Constantine]].
* Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Lost Legacy'' has him going underground and working for a benevolent AncientTradition.
* Creator/RogerZelazny's ''Literature/{{Roadmarks}}'' concerns a Road that stretches from the past into the future, and the people who travel along it; Bierce is mentioned in passing as one of those who, having found the Road, settled farther along it and never returned to his own time.
* Shows up as an old fangless vampire who aids the protagonist in ''Manga/DanceInTheVampireBund''.
* ''Film/FromDuskTillDawn3TheHangmansDaughter''. Oddly, the vampires don't get him in the end.
* ''Literature/BackInTheUSSA'' depicts the death of Bierce, at least as it occurred in that particular AlternateHistory.
* In ''Literature/{{Illuminatus}}''-trilogy, although he isn't directly named, it is easy to figure out from the context that he is one of the people that Fission Chips sees when St. Toad throws him between dimensions.