[[caption-width-right:338: [-Admit it, they really do look gorgeous [[FeatheredFiend when they're not trying to break your ribs...]]-] ]]

Ask a lot of folks what the most beautiful bird is, and they're very likely to say "swan." And really, why wouldn't other answers come up as often? Maybe it's because of their pure white plumage, their graceful movements, the legendary song they're said to make when they die, [[BreadEggsMilkSquick or the fact that their wings can break human bone.]]

Yes, you heard right -- ''[[SickeningCrunch their wings can break human bone.]]''

A lot of portrayals of swans in the media paint them as beautiful, peaceful birds, which isn't surprising considering that they're [[HerbivoresAreFriendly nigh-exclusively herbivorous]]. That said, however, peaceful they ain't -- thanks to media depictions of them as almost angelic in behavior, not many people realize swans are very territorial birds and that a pissed-off swan will ''[[KillerRabbit mess you up.]]'' Nonetheless, that hasn't stopped folklore and fiction from portraying swans as symbols of purity, because their imagery is very similar to that of angels, and that includes the white feathers, and everyone knows that LightIsGood. They have also been used as symbols of love, due to their monogamous habits and the heart shape their necks make when two swans face each other. Many {{Shapeshifting Lover}}s are swans. The meme of the swan as graceful on the water and somewhat otherworldly has been influential on human minds, specifically those who dwell in riipine cultures: witness the existence of SwanBoats in many cultures.

On a side note, expect all swans you see in pop culture to be white. [[PaletteSwap Black swans and black-necked swans]] do exist, but they're only native to Australia and South America respectively, which explains why Western culture never even heard of them until around the 18th century or so. In fact, black swans were for a good while used as metaphors for something which could not exist, and later for [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory something whose existence couldn't be predicted but is later rationalized as predictable]].

Swans are the largest members of the duck family, Anatidae.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Anime/PrincessTutu'' borrows a LOT of swan imagery: Her costume is based on [[Theatre/SwanLake Odette's]], {{Muggles}} see her only as a giant swan, and since [[VoluntaryShapeshifting she's really a duck]], there's an element of Literature/TheUglyDuckling, too. Also, although she's technically a "raven", [[DarkMagicalGirl Rue/Princess Kraehe]] is often compared to Odile, the Black Swan. Neither of them are really fighters, but it's easy to forget in light of their epic [[DanceBattler Ballet Battles]].
* In ''Anime/ScienceNinjaTeamGatchaman'', Jun from the FiveManBand has a uniform based on a swan. She's just as tough and fierce as the bird itself.
* Hyoga from ''Manga/SaintSeiya'' has Cygnus, the Swan, as his patron constellation. This leads to a lot of swan imagery as well as a lot of [[AnIcePerson ice-elemental attacks]] accompanied by [[DanceBattler remotely ballet-esque movements]], [[FanNickname affectionately known by the fandom as the "swan dance"]].

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Zig-zagged by ComicBook/WonderWoman villain the Silver Swan. The three women to have worn the identity are all fairly dangerous individuals armed with a deadly [[MakeMeWannaShout "Swan Song"]], but all of them fall under TragicVillain to one extent or another, having their insecurities manipulated by worse (usually male) villains.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* In ''ComicStrip/RoseIsRose'', two swans say Jimbo and Rose are not so graceful as swans, but they are as romantic.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSwanPrincess'' is based on the ''Theatre/SwanLake'' ballet. It also has six sequels as of 2017. Interestingly, Odette is a former TomboyPrincess who's still brave and tenacious, so she actually combines the traditional image of swans with their real-life ability to fuck you up.
* Not swans ''per se'', but the Pegasi from the "Pastoral Symphony" in ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'' evoke their imagery when they land on a lake and glide along its surface.
* ''Disney/PeterPan'': Peter Pan briefly landed on a pair of swans and rode on them as if they were waterskis while taking the Darling children to Neverland during the song "You Can Fly!"

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/HotFuzz'', [[TheAce Nick Angel]] makes it his personal mission to track down a rogue swan and bring it to justice. During the climax of the film, [[spoiler:[[BrickJoke it attacks]] [[BigBad Frank Butterman]], stopping him [[JustForPun single-wingedly]].]]
* Averted in Ang Lee's ''Film/SenseAndSensibility''. According to Emma Thompson's diary on the making of the film, a pair of beautiful white swans floated into shot during a lakeside love-scene. Ang Lee reshot the scene, [[RealityIsUnrealistic believing that the whole thing looked too contrived]].

* [[spoiler:Ingrid]], the Swan, is a character from Creator/GraemeBase's ''The Eleventh Hour''.
* E.B. White's ''Literature/TheTrumpetOfTheSwan'' is a children's story about a trumpeter swan who, having no voice, wants to play a literal trumpet.
* ''Literature/TheBlackSwan'' never misses an opportunity to mention how lovely the poor maidens are when swimming as swans.
* There is a running gag in ''Literature/ShadesOfGrey'' involving swans of various sizes being very dangerous.
* In ''[[Literature/{{Redwall}} Mossflower]]'' Martin and his companions see swans and are very careful to get away unnoticed, knowing how dangerous the birds can be. However, the {{mook}}s who are tracking them are somewhat less informed on swans' nature, and it does not go well for them.
* ''Literature/TheForgottenBeastsOfEld'' has The Black Swan of Tirlith, who once carried a king's daughter from the stone tower of exile. Larger and stronger than an ordinary swan, the Black Swan is unafraid of mere men.
* In ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', the Fellowship sees a flock of swans flying by while boating down the river. They are also mentioned to be black swans, which seems to disturb Aragorn.
* In Creator/JohnCWright's ''Literature/CountToTheEschaton'', Larz invokes this beauty and elegance to describe Rania as a Swan Princess.
* Creator/HansChristianAndersen:
** The literary fairy tale "Literature/TheUglyDuckling" tells the story of a cygnet ostracized by his fellow barnyard fowl because of his perceived homeliness. To his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a graceful swan, the most beautiful bird of all.
** The tale "The Wild Swans" is similar to "Literature/TheChildrenOfLir". The king has eleven sons and one daughter, named Elisa. The evil stepmother [[BalefulPolymorph turns the eleven brothers into swans]] and banishes Elisa, an interesting exception to the tradition of swan maidens.
* In ''Literature/HarryPotterAndTheOrderOfThePhoenix'' Cho Chang, who is noted to be beautiful and graceful even if she is an emotional wreck that year following the murder of her boyfriend, manages to learn how to produce a corporeal Patronus and discovers that hers is a swan, a nice reflection of her beauty and her willingness to fight.
* In Creator/PoulAnderson's ''Literature/ThreeHeartsAndThreeLions'', the heroine is a swanmay -- one of the forces of Good, despite the tendency of this world to have TheFairFolk.
* One Creator/PGWodehouse ''Literature/JeevesAndWooster'' short story includes a scene where Bertie and another man end up trapped on the roof of an island gazebo by an angry swan.
* In Creator/SusanDexter's ''The True Knight'', the prince was turned to a swan. [[spoiler:And found a mate, who tracks him down grieving. He finally escapes back into that shape.]]
* In the variants of the ChivalricRomance ''The Swan Children'', the bride is more or less clearly a swan-maiden; she gives birth to children who are first [[MosesInTheBulrushes exposed]] and then [[InvoluntaryShapeshifting transformed into swans]] by removing the chains they wear about their necks. When this is discovered, the children are changed back by restoring them -- except that one chain was melted down, trapping that child in swan form.
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}''
** In ''Discworld/WitchesAbroad'', Nanny Ogg compares palaces to swans; they look as if they glide gracefully through history, but only because there's a hell of a lot of work going on beneath the surface.
** ''Discworld/{{Maskerade}}'' has a brief scene where Death visits a swan who is presented as an arrogant noble of the waterfowl world, and is also quick to add that he can break a man's (or AnthropomorphicPersonification's) arm with a blow of his wing.
* The elegant swan ballerina Madame Bella Swanna makes a brief appearance in the background of "Punchinello" in ''The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast'', and gets her own poem in the sequel ''The Peacock Party''.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* In ''Series/KamenRiderRyuki'' and ''Series/KamenRiderDragonKnight'', the one female Rider (Femme and Siren, respectively) is a swan-themed DistaffCounterpart of TheLancer (who himself has a bat theme).
* Sieg, one of several heroic [[MonsterOfTheWeek Imagin]], who gives ''Series/KamenRiderDenO'' the ability to transform into the powerful Wing Form. In-series, he's actually based on ''Theatre/SwanLake''.
* And ''Series/KamenRiderFourze'' has the Cygnus (the swan) Zodiarts, an enemy based on that constellation (for more info on that constellation, go to the link in Real Life). Though it initially fights for good. Then it secretly beats people up who questions it.
* In ''Series/ChoujinSentaiJetman'', Kaori Rokumeikan is White Swan.
** Similarly, [=DekaSwan=] from ''Series/TokusouSentaiDekaranger''.
* In ''Series/TheTudors'', after Anne Bolyn's beheading, King Henry is depicted breaking apart a roasted swan and devouring it. It [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic probably means...something]].

* On the seventh day of "Music/TheTwelveDaysOfChristmas", my true love gave to me the TropeNamer, along with many, many other presents.
* For all their rarity in the rest of pop culture, black swans are surprisingly popular in the music industry.
** Gian Carlo Menotti in his opera ''The Medium'' named one of his most famous arias "The Black Swan", which is a "dark lullaby" sung by the character Monica.
** Perth rock group The Triffids released an album called ''The Black Swan'' in 1989.
** The American thrash metal band Megadeth released a song entitled "Black Swan" as a bonus track on their 2007 album United Abominations.
** Singer/songwriter Tori Amos released a song entitled "Black Swan" as a bonus track on her 1994 UK CD single Pretty Good Year.
** Singer Thom Yorke of the band Radiohead released a song entitled "Black Swan" on the soundtrack of the 2006 film ''Literature/AScannerDarkly'', and three days later on his debut solo album ''The Eraser''.
** The American alternative rock band Chiodos released a song entitled "Lexington" which references black swans in the lyric, "All the water in the ocean couldn't turn this swan's legs from black to white".
** The American avant-garde band The Blood Brothers released a song entitled "Giant Swan" in which a giant swan is used as a metaphor for society and war, until it is renamed in the lyric, "It's gonna sting like a raw sunrise when the Black Swan's gone."
** Finnish power metal band Sonata Arctica included a song titled "Fly with the Black Swan" on their 2007 album ''Unia''.
** American band Story of the Year released an album entitled ''The Black Swan'' in 2008.
** The American ambient band Amber Asylum released a song entitled "Black Swan" on their 2000 album ''The Supernatural Parlour Collection''.
** The German death metal/gothic rock band Lacrimas Profundere released a song entitled "Black Swans" on their 1999 album ''Memorandum''.
** The Japanese noise artist Merzbow titled the eighth volume of his 2009-2010 box set ''13 Japanese Birds'' Black Swan.
* Irish folk-rockers The Music/{{Horslips}} use the black swan motif in their remorse-and-regret laden ''Time to Kill'', which, (in the context of a protracted messy war), regrets the [[FightingIrish Irish national tendency to kill first without taking too much time to think beforehand]].
* UsefulNotes/RenaissanceMusic: Two prominent madrigal examples:
** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYvZvAihBP0 The Silver Swan]] by Orlando Gibbons, relating the myth of the swan that sings before it dies. The song also laments that nowadays "more geese than swans" are alive.
** [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XITlmDJ9-Hk Il Bianco e dolce Cigno]], by Jaques Arcadelt, ''also'' telling of a swan that sings before it dies. Here, the singer, also dying compares himself to the swan: "While he dies singing, I die weeping..."

[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* In Finnish Mythology, the swan is associated with Tuonela, the Underworld. Pretty much the only way swans represent LightIsNotGood. In the same mythology it's also forbidden to kill a swan. The AntiHero Lemminkäinen in Literature/TheKalevala dies after killing a swan. (He gets better, though) Swans (or occasionally other waterfowl) are traditionally viewed as holy in many other Finno-Ugric/Uralic cultures as well which might be a remnant of an ancient religion.
* Myth/ClassicalMythology:
** Zeus, the king of the Greek Gods, seduced Leda, Queen of Sparta, in the form of a swan.
** Apollo is sometimes depicted riding a chariot pulled by swans.
* Myth/CelticMythology:
** Swans also appear in Irish mythology. For example, the Irish legend "Literature/TheChildrenOfLir" is about a stepmother transforming her children into swans for 900 years. In another instance, in the legend "Literature/TheWooingOfEtain", the king of the Sidhe transforms himself and the most beautiful woman in Ireland, Etain, into swans to escape from the king of Ireland and Ireland's armies.
** Aengus Og fell in love with Caer Ibormeith, who was cursed to become a swan every other year. Her father said if Aengus could pick her out of 150 swans, the curse would break. Being the god of love, Aengus chose correctly--at which they ''both'' turned into swans and flew off to his castle to get married, singing such beautiful music that everyone fell asleep for three days.
* Swan Maidens - Common to mainland Europe, and Russia. The women (occasionally men too) in question are normally swans, but they leave their feathered cloaks behind when they bathe as humans. This has influenced many stories, modern and old, including the ballet ''Theatre/SwanLake'', Swanmays in ''Literature/ThreeHeartsAndThreeLions'' and ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'', Literature/AnitaBlake's Swan Men, etc.
** {{Fairy Tale}}s incorporating this in the Quest for the Lost Wife include [[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/swanmaiden/index.html "The Swan Maiden"]] and [[http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/swan.html#meier "The Three Swans"]].
** Fairy tales that end with the wife's escape include [[http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/swanmaiden/stories/sweden.html "The Swan Maiden"]].
* In the Lithuanian tale of [[http://www.fairy-tales.parnas.info/en/lithunian/swan-queen.html "The Swan Queen"]], the swan woman is treated very badly by all and sundry.
* In ''Literature/TheSixSwans'', the brothers are turned to swans.
* In Myth/NorseMythology, there are two swans that drink from the sacred Well of Urd in the realm of Asgard, home of the gods.
* Swans are revered in Hinduism, and are compared to saintly persons whose chief characteristic is to be in the world without getting attached to it, just as a swan's feather does not get wet although it is in water.
* Lohengrin, one of the [[Myth/KingArthur Knights of the Round Table]], was known as the Knight of the Swan and is often shown in a boat pulled by swans.

* In Pyotr Tchaikovsky's famous ballet ''Theatre/SwanLake'', the protagonist Odette is turned into a swan. Prince Siegfried, her lover, has to find a way to turn her back to normal again so they can have their BabiesEverAfter ending together.
* Rimsky-Korsakov's ''Legend of the Tsar Saltan'' (the opera "Flight of the Bumblebee" comes from) is based on a traditional story about a prince who saves the life of a swan princess.
* Creator/CirqueDuSoleil's ''Theatre/MichaelJacksonTheIMMORTALWorldTour'' costumes the duo straps performers for "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" as stylized swans: one white, one black.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' gives us [[http://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Swanna_(Pok%C3%A9mon) Swanna]], the [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin White Bird Pokémon.]] Sure, it's beautiful and it dances at dusk, but the creators also kept its KillerRabbit[=/=]FeatheredFiend status in mind. Of course, it should be kept in mind that Swanna's White dex entry claims that it attacks with its beak, [[GameplayAndStorySegregation despite the fact that the only move involving a beak it can learn is Pluck by TM]]. However, it CAN learn a fair few wing-based attacks, so it would have been more accurate if the dex entry had said that it administers punishing blows with its ''WINGS'' instead, as swans often do in RealLife.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Loom}}'', Weavers turn one another (or occasionally themselves) into swans, usually as a precursor to exile.
* In ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIVThePerilsOfRosella'', there is a landmark on Genesta's island: a bridge over a pond with swan heads carved at either end, as well as a swan swimming in the water. It had absolutely nothing to do with the game-play, but was one of the game's most striking images.
* Catherine-Marie Cygne of ''VideoGame/AviaryAttorney'' has the head and part of the neck of a swan. Described as 'sorry-looking', she's an impoverished flower-seller.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The second skit of the Warner Brothers [[WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes Merrie Melodies]] production ''WesternAnimation/ACornyConcerto'' features a sequence involving swans and an ugly duckling to the music of Johann Strauss's "The Blue Danube".
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'': Princess Bubblegum has a swan that she rides around on, that can [[FrickinLaserBeams shoot laser beams]] [[CrazyAwesome out of its eyes]]. She pulls a BigDamnHeroes moment and puts in a ''Franchise/{{Terminator}}'' ShoutOut along with it.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The swan (specifically, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whooper_Swan the whooper swan]]) is the national bird of Finland, and the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mute_Swan mute swan]] is the national bird of Denmark.
* During the ice ages, Malta was dominated by [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Swan giant swans]]. Taller than the native elephants (although, to be fair, said elephants were pony sized).
* Canadian royalty gives us the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Swans Royal Swans]]. Notably, the flock consists of both Mute and Black Swans.
* Swan Upping is an annual ceremonial and practical activity in Britain in which mute swans on the River Thames are rounded up, caught, marked, and then released. This is because swans were prestigious foodstuff in the Middle Ages, and by medieval law all wild swans in Britain belong to the Crown. This is still the case today. By Royal Charter, two City of London livery companies also have been granted the rights to certain populations.
* The Sydney Swans are an UsefulNotes/AustralianRulesFootball team based in Sydney, Australia.
** The UsefulNotes/AssociationFootball team based in Swansea, Wales is referred to as the Swans, and uses a swan as their logo.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cygnus_(constellation) Cygnus]] is a constellation. It also contains Cygnus X-1, which was the first object suspected to be a black hole. That's right, even in outer space, swans are still trying to kill you!