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[-[[caption-width-right:331:image: ''Wise Owl'' by Cornelis Bloemaert II]]-]
There is a long-running tradition of using owls as a symbol of knowledge. This might be because their eyes resemble NerdGlasses, or because they are silent and mysterious. Most likely, though, it's because of their [[ShapedLikeItself importance in various ancient cultures]], especially [[GreekMythology the Greeks]], where the owl was the bird of Athena, the goddess of, among other things, wisdom. Ironically, Athena's bird was the owl not because the Greeks themselves saw owls as wise, but because Athena's patron city Athens (and its environs) swarmed with wild [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_owl little owls]].

In any event, owls are usually depicted as wise and honorable and serve as {{mentors}}, teachers, and [[AuthorityTropes advisors]]. Be aware, though, that they tend to share traits with the AbsentMindedProfessor and the TVGenius, so take their advice with a grain of salt. There is also a tendency for owls to act as [[ExpositionFairy narrators/storytellers]].

Contrast OminousOwl. Compare to CleverCrows. See also AnimalStereotypes and WoodlandCreatures.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Advertising]]
* The owl from the classic '70s animated Tootsie Pop commercial, as a subversion. Or possibly not, since he's the only one in those commercials ever willing to just say, "I don't know."
--> [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzhB0gF5GTI&NR=1 "Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?"]]
:: He's also the only one to suggest the application of the scientific method to the question. And then use that suggestion to get free candy.
* In a live-action 1970s Esso commercial for their auto service that has a takeoff of ''[[Literature/AesopsFables The Tortoise and the Hare]]'', the tortoise makes a pit stop with an owl as his "mechanic."
* There's a Geico commercial that subverts. A wife asks her husband if he knows that there are some owls that aren't that wise. The scene then cuts to two owls in a tree -- another wife and husband pair, and the wife chats about a co-worker of hers, but the husband just keeps asking "Who?"
* Woodsy Owl, the anti-pollution mascot.
* ''Wise'' low-cal potato chips feature a stylized owl's head on their bags.
* A short animation from Spain[[note]]Sponsored by "Danone" yogurt, known as "Dannon" in North America.[[/note]] features an owl trying to convince "Las Tres Mellizas" (the title characters of an animated series, also from Spain) why they should go to bed.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Anime/NegimaSecondSeason'', Yue ([[TheSmartGuy The Smart Girl]]) transforms into an owl as her suka/dud form.
* Ash's Noctowl in ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' was said to be very intelligent in the episode in which he captured it, but it wasn't really mentioned later.
* The owl of the Forest of Death in ''Anime/WolfsRain'' falls between straight and subversion. The wolves are creeped out by it because it doesn't have a scent (maybe it's a ghost), and its utterances don't ''seem'' to make sense. On the other hand, it turns out that they not only ''do'' make sense, but eventually lead the wolves and Cheza out of the forest to (temporary) safety.
* Old Man Owl from ''Anime/SonicTheHedgehogTheMovie'' is a fairly slick aversion; maybe he was at one point, but emphasis on the fact that he's known as ''Old Man'' Owl. The guy's senile as a head of Wensleydale and his vision is so bad even those cokebottles he wears don't do him any good.
* In ''Manga/{{Yaiba}}'', on their way to the Seven Orbs, Yaiba and the others met a huge, wise-looking owl and asked him for directions. He wanted to [[OminousOwl be paid.]] They eventually resorts to bind him and taking him with them.
* Used InUniverse for ''Anime/LupinIIITheWomanCalledFujikoMine'', the Frulein Eule uses the Owl as their symbol for the connotations of knowledge and science. As a work, however, the frequent images of [[OminousOwl Owls are a creepy]] AnimalMotif.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comics]]
* In many Disney comics, a judge that both Donald and Mickey have dealt with is an owl (not certain if it is meant to be the same person, or if being a judge is just a thing that comes naturally to anthropomorphic owls) -- which is obviously meant to be symbolic, as it is rare that the {{Funny Animal}}s in the comics are easily identifiable as anything but generic "birdpeople" or "dognoses".
* Otero and Liebber in ''ComicBook/{{Blacksad}}'', who are both anthropomorphic owl scientists during the cold war.
* Harvey Who, an extremely minor character from ArchieComics' ''ComicBook/SonicTheHedgehog'' series is this as a member of the Kingdom of Acorn's Secret Service. However, King Max portrayed him as a CassandraTruth sayer, ignoring his advice and leading to the downfall of his kingdom [[note]]Unless it's retconned out, Max admitted back in issue 58 or so that he and all previous kings had bonded with a magic pool called "The Source of All", essentially a counterpart of [[StarWars The Force]], to guide their actions so he probably wasn't as skilled at the whole king thing as he thought.[[/note]]. He sees Max's son, Elias, as a worthy holder of the crown and is working to help him get it back.
* In ''ComicBook/PocketGod'', Klik's SpiritAdvisor, Nox, is shaped like an owl.
* Howland Owl from ''ComicStrip/{{Pogo}}'' is actually a parody/subversion of the trope, as his idea of intelligence is [[SesquipedalianLoquaciousness using big words]] and spouting LittleKnownFacts.
* ''ComicStrip/PaulusDeBoskabouter'': Oehoeboeroe is a very stoic owl, who usually remains solemn and calm at all times, providing words of wisdom and using very old-fashioned language.
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[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* Owl from ''Disney/WinnieThePooh'' is a subversion, as some of his advice makes no sense.
* Archimedes from ''Disney/TheSwordInTheStone''.
* Subverted with Friend Owl in Creator/{{Disney}}'s ''Disney/{{Bambi}}'', who initially appears to be wise but turns out to be a KnowNothingKnowItAll.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNimh'': The Great Owl. As in the novel, he is both [[OminousOwl creepy]] and wise.
* There is Big Mama, an owl, in ''Disney/TheFoxAndTheHound'', who functions as a mentor figure to Tod.
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[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* The owl voiced by Creator/JennaElfman in the film ''Film/DrDolittle'' starring Creator/EddieMurphy.
* In the original version of ''Film/ClashOfTheTitans'', Athena gives Perseus Bubo, a clockwork duplicate of her own owl companion built by Hephaestus, which becomes Perseus' guide. (It makes [[MythologyGag a small cameo appearance]] in the 2010 remake, where he finds it in the armory, but leaves it behind.)
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[[folder:Literature]]
* Owls in the ''Literature/HarryPotter'' {{Verse}} seem to be unusually intelligent, at times seeming to almost be able to understand humans, and have the uncanny ability to find anyone in the world, as long as they have something addressed to that person. (WordOfGod says that wizards in hiding can enchant themselves to be untraceable by owls, though.)
* Subverted in the Literature/DoctorWhoNewAdventures novel ''Sanctuary'', by David A. [=McIntee=]:
-->"[The Doctor] is very much like the owl, I think," said Guy, half to himself.\\
"Wise, you mean?" Benny had heard several people comment on such a likeness. Perhaps it was his eyebrows and keen gaze.\\
"What has wisdom to do with owls? He is comfortable in the darkness, as they are, and I think he is equally as adept at hunting down prey in cold blood."
* Merlin's owl Archemedes in ''Literature/TheOnceAndFutureKing''.
* Owl in ''Literature/WinnieThePooh'' stories, where he's an outright KnowNothingKnowItAll.
* ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfNarnia'': ''The Silver Chair''. The Parliament of the Owls.
* The ''Literature/HankTheCowdog'' series has Madame Moonshine, the witchy little owl. She often provides magical assistance to Hank when it suits her, although she does have some odd mannerisms, like referring to him as "Hank the Rabbit."
* Subverted harshly in the Creator/JamesThurber fable ''[[http://www.k-state.edu/english/baker/english320/Thurber-The_Owl_Who_Was_God.htm The Owl Who Was God.]]''
* Subverted in ''[[Literature/LandOfOz The Patchwork Girl of Oz]]'', which features a pair of minor characters called the Wise Donkey and the Foolish Owl, who are just that.
* In ''Literature/TheBelgariad'', the philosophical and wise god Aldur has the owl as his [[AnimalMotifs totem]]. The sorceresses he taught, Poledra and Polgara, also favour that shape when they need to transform.
* ''Literature/GuardiansOfGaHoole'' has varying degrees of this, and some aversions, depending on the character in question.
* Owlstar from ''Literature/WarriorCats'' was a wise and just leader of [=ThunderClan=] who is FamedInStory. He isn't actually an owl, but he copied his skills from one, and has an obvious owl theme. It's what made him badass.
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[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Circuit, from ''Series/PowerRangersTimeForce''.
* Referenced in a ''Series/SaturdayNightLive'' sketch, with a commercial for Literature/TheBible reenacted with birds. The three wise men are depicted as parrots, confusing the boy reading it and upsetting his father when he claims owls would be more logical.
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[[folder:Music]]
* The original trope name ("Wise Old Owl") comes from a nursery rhyme:
-->''A wise old owl lived in an oak\\
The more he saw the less he spoke\\
The less he spoke the more he heard.\\
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?''
** This was later appropriated by the U.S. Army to encourage soldiers to keep their mouths shut (loose lips sink ships).
** It was also written on the walls of the Owl Bar in Baltimore as a code for ordering alcohol during Prohibition -- when booze was available, an owl lamp above the bar would blink.
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[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* Owls, of course, are the emblem of Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom. They were also apparently very common in Athens; in several languages, "Carry owls to Athens" means doing something pointless. Though the last part may be referring to Athenian ''coins'' stamped with an owl motif (Athena being, of course, the city's patron goddess, and the commonness of owls in Athens being the likely source of the association) rather than actual birds.
* Inverted in Indian mythology, were owls are often protrayed as stupid because of their blank expression.
* Inverted in Finnish mythology, in which owls were seen as ''stupid'' animals. While the imported image of owls as a symbol of wisdom is now the more popular one, the Finnish word "[[InherentlyFunnyWords pll]]" is still used to describe stupid people.
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[[folder:New Media]]
* Do a Google search for "smart owl" or some variation thereof and you will find a plethora of pictures of owls in mortarboards.
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[[folder:Print Media]]
* OWL magazine, published in Canada, is a digest meant to get kids interested in learning. The name and mascot are owls, obviously playing to the owl's association with knowledge.
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[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* ''Series/MisterRogersNeighborhood'': X the Owl from The Neighbourhood of Make-Believe.
* Charlie Owl from ''Series/NewZooRevue'' wore a mortarboard, implying wisdom.
* Hoots the Owl from ''Series/SesameStreet'', who possessed the skills of saxophone playing and singing the blues.
* The Dutch children's show ''Series/DeFabeltjeskrant'' -- also known as ''I fablernas vrld'' ("In the world of fables") in Swedish -- used an owl called Meneer de Uil (Mr Owl, originally enough) as a narrator.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''
** The game links Owls to wisdom too. The wisdom-boosting spell in 3rd ed. and later is called "Owl's Wisdom".
** In ''TabletopGame/{{Planescape}}'', the Beast Lord of owls is one of oldest beings on his plane and is a part-time sage of godlike wisdom and knowledge. Noctral are LawfulGood supra-genius barn owls with 20' wingspan collecting (and dispensing to anyone capable of hearing) knowledge.
** Giant owls, along with giant eagles la Creator/JRRTolkien, are among the few "giant animal"-type monsters to have been sentient in all incarnations of AD&D. Some editions also feature normal-sized talking owls, a bird which is ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin; these are wise oracles of the forest that seem to be at least partially related to Fey.
** Basic/Expert/etc. ''D&D'' and the TabletopGame/Mystara setting have the hsiao, a Lawful race of giant owls with clerical (= Wisdom-based) spellcasting powers.
* A ''Magazine/{{Dragon}}'' article on personality types for ''TabletopGame/GammaWorld'' mutant animals suggested owl-people weren't any smarter than anyone else, but [[KnowNothingKnowItAll acted as if they were]].
* ''TabletopGame/{{Mortasheen}}'' gives us the [[http://www.bogleech.com/mortasheen/bemzuul.htm Bemzuul,]] which is essentially an owl with oversized, creepy-looking eyes. While not wise per se, it is capable of telepathy, photographic memory, and even MindRape. Bonus points for having a name derived from B.E.M., the acronym for "Bug Eyed Monster."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* [[ShallIRepeatThat That annoying owl]] (Kaepora Gaebora) in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'', ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaMajorasMask'', and ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaLinksAwakening''. Although the wisdom part may be justified here as the stones scattered around Hyrule in ''Ocarina'' seem to suggest that he was once one of the Sages, and ended up reincarnated. [[http://zeldawiki.org/Hyrule_Historia Hyrule Historia]] confirms that Kaepora Gaebora and [[Videogame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime Rauru, the Sage of Light]] ''are'' indeed the same person, watching over the Hero of Time.
* In ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVAbsenceMakesTheHeartGoYonder'', Cedric the Owl was ''intended'' to help guide the player through the game and offer insightful input. In practice he just [[StopHelpingMe hung around annoying you]], [[DirtyCoward left when anything dangerous might happen]], made [[CaptainObvious inane observations]] ("Look, Graham! A ''poisonous'' snake!") and when he said something that actually could have been a useful warning, it was always too late to avert the catastrophe. The key here is he was designed to give information; he just [[TheScrappy sucked at it]].
* The owl in ''VideoGame/MyWorldMyWay'' who gives advice and a few spells to the heroine.
* The [[SarcasmMode creatively named]] Owl from ''[[VideoGame/NightsIntoDreams Nights: Journey of Dreams]]'' serves as the game's ExpositionFairy.
* Hoothoot and its evolution Noctowl from ''Franchise/{{Pokemon}}'', while not exactly Psychic-type, can still learn a lot of good Psychic-type moves. The Pokedex also states that they're very intelligent -- Hoothoot's Platinum entry states that "Some countries consider it to be a wise friend, versed in the world's ways," while Noctowl's Silver entry states that "When it needs to think, it rotates its head 180 degrees to sharpen its intellectual power."
* The owls found all over the place in ''VideoGame/ZanZarahTheHiddenPortal'' serve as MrExposition.
* Blathers, the curator of the Museum in the ''VideoGame/AnimalCrossing'' games. At the least, he's knowledgeable in most, if not all of the things you donate, and in the early games would [[MeaningfulName blather on]] about whatever fish, bug, or completed fossil you gave to the museum.
* Peepsta Hoo dream eaters in ''VideoGame/KingdomHearts3DDreamDropDistance'' use a fairly sound strategy: [[EnemyScan scan an enemy for its]] [[ElementalRockPaperScissors elemental weakness]] [[AttackItsWeakPoint and then ruthlessly exploit it]] with high-level magic and tuned attacks. A handy spirit to have in your party, [[OminousOwl but in nightmare form...]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''[[http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/500820 Lil' Hoots]]'': "Oh, Old Master Owwwww-wul!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* In ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' owls are related to the knowledge, albeit in a different way. [[spoiler:"[[RunningGag READ, or the owl will eat you]]".]]
* ''Webcomic/HarkAVagrant'' knows [[http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=258 what makes owls wise]].
* ''Webcomic/ThePerryBibleFellowship'' [[http://www.pbfcomics.com/?cid=PBF045-Wise_Shitashi.jpg reminds us]]: the hardest part is to find ''that'' owl.
* According to Jason Love's ''Snapshots'', [[http://www.jasonlove.com/cartoons/00136-daily-cartoons-owls.gif some owls more than the rest]].
* Political satire comic ''Webcomic/IDrewThis'' pointed out the falsehood of this on one occasion:
-->Owls have a reputation for being wise. But in fact, they're no smarter than they need to be. Larry King looks like an owl. But recently he asked the dumbest question anyone has ever asked on TV: "How can you out-and-out deny creationism, since if evolution is true, ''why are there still monkeys?''"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', Wan Shi Tong, the knowledge spirit who runs the greatest library in the world, is a giant barn owl (who crosses over into OminousOwl territory when he gets mad). His name, 万知堂 (wnzhītng) even [[MeaningfulName means]] "[[TheOmniscient He who knows ten thousand things.]]" In the SequelSeries ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'' however, he's shown to be poorly informed when it comes to human technology and easily swayed by [[EvilUncle Unalaq]].
* In the ChristmasSpecial ''Christopher the Christmas Tree'', a young owl runs away from home because he's tired of being taunted for not being as smart as the rest of his family (he can't fly or [[TalkingAnimal even talk]]). His smarter brothers are even shown wearing mortarboards, playing into this trope.
* Good-guy leader Leoric from ''WesternAnimation/{{Visionaries}}'' hsd a magic staff with the power of Wisdom, manifesting as a talking owl whose advice usually take a scene change to figure out.
* Professor Owl in the ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresInMusicDuology''.
* One of the teachers on ''WesternAnimation/TimmyTime'' is Osbourne, a kindly and patient owl. His son also attends, and clearly looks up to his father, emulating him whenever possible.
* The owl Zocrates from ''WesternAnimation/TheBluffers'' is not only [[NamedAfterSomebodyFamous named after an ancient Greek philosopher]], he is even dressed like a [[HollywoodHistory stereotypical ancient Greek]], complete with laurel wreath on his head.
* [[SpeciesSurname Owl]] from ''WesternAnimation/TheAnimalsOfFarthingWood''.
* The family of owls from the WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes short ''I Love to Singa'' is a family of classical musicians -- except for the youngest, who wants to be a jazz singer.
* Olivia Owl in ''WesternAnimation/{{Birdz}}'' is the nerdy type.
* Owlowiscious (pronounced the same as the even less phonetic Aloysius) in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' becomes the pet of [[BadassBookworm Twilight]] [[CuteWitch Sparkle]], and for a pet he's extremely competent, helping Twilight out at night when Spike is asleep. Enough so for Spike (a fully sentient dragonling who has been with Twilight for years) feels his position as "number 1 assistant" threatened by the owl.
* WesternAnimation/DoctorBubo from the Hungarian animated series of the same name is an owl. With a doctorate.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The owl is the unofficial mascot of the high IQ organization UsefulNotes/{{Mensa}}.
* Although owls have a much larger skull and brain size in proportion to their bodies than most other animals, owls in captivity consistently test among the lowest in bird intelligence, and owls in the wild have been observed to make life-threatening blunders not frequently witnessed of other birds.
* The FFA (Future Farmers of America) has the symbol of the owl for the Advisor (a teacher that helps organize FFA activities). To quote, from opening ceremonies:
-->'''Vice President:''' "The Advisor?"
-->'''Advisor:''' "Here by the owl".
-->'''Vice President:''' "Why stationed by the owl?"
-->'''Advisor:''' "The owl is a time-honored emblem of knowledge and wisdom. Being older than the rest of you, I am asked to advise you from time to time as the need arises. I hope that my advice will always be based on true knowledge, and ripened with wisdom."
[[/folder]]
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