->''"Zurück vom Ring!" (Back from the ring!)''
-->-- '''Hagen'''

''Der Ring des Nibelungen'' ("The Ring of the Nibelung"[[labelnote:Translation note]]this is sometimes mistranslated as the plural "Nibelungs," but the singular is correct -- the Nibelung referred to is Alberich. The name "Nibelung" (literally, "mist-descendent") refers to the race of dwarfs to which Alberich belongs. This particular noun is declinated in German, which results in the ending "-en".[[/labelnote]]) is a cycle of four operas by Music/RichardWagner (hence the alternative term, the "Ring Cycle," which is sometimes applied to the whole).[[note]]Wagner himself eschewed the term "opera" as applied to these works, preferring to refer to them as "Bühnenfestspiele", "stage-festival-plays"; the term "music-drama," though also rejected by Wagner himself, is generally preferred by his followers.[[/note]] The cycle premiered at the Wagner Festival Theater in Bayreuth, August 14th-17th, 1876, though the first two sections of the work had already appeared at the Munich Court Opera in 1869 and 1870.

''Der Ring des Nibelungen'' consists of

* Prologue: ''Das Rheingold'' ("The Rhine-Gold")
* Day I: ''Die Walküre'' ("The Valkyrie")
* Day II: ''Siegfried''
* Day III: ''Götterdämmerung'' ("Twilight of the Gods")[[note]]this is sometimes stated, especially in older references, as '''''Die''''' ''Götterdämmerung'', "'''The''' Twilight of the Gods," but Wagner never used the article in his references to the work.[[/note]]

For a recap of the plot, consult our [[Synopsis/TheRingOfTheNibelung synopsis page.]]

The [[CentralTheme fundamental theme]] of ''Der Ring des Nibelungen'' is the opposition of Power to Love. Wagner's original intention in the work was suggesting that the plutocratic society of 19th century Europe could be fundamentally improved by rejecting the desire for the domination of others[[note]]principally through money, which is why the Ring of Power is forged from the '''Gold''' of the Rhine[[/note]] and embracing instead redemption through universal love. As for the means of achieving this, Wagner originally leaned towards anarchism and social revolution (Siegfried single-handedly bringing down the rule of the gods and burning Walhalla is a barely-disguised metaphor for the anarchist destruction of the feudal/capitalist establishment in Europe); however, as his philosophy developed, he came to reject love as leading to social improvement, and suggested instead that the only possible "redemption" would come through a compassionate rejection of '''all''' personal desires, including the desire for societal amelioration, to achieve a Buddhistic Nirvana -- or what Wagner called the „''wunsch- und wahnlos, heilig Wahlland'', the desire-free, illusion-free, holy chosen Land."

As the vehicle for this symbolic drama, Wagner radically adapted the ancient legend of Siegfried the dragon-slayer, as it was preserved in ancient German and especially [[Myth/NorseMythology Scandinavian sources]], such as the ''Literature/{{Nibelungenlied}}'', the ''Literature/VolsungaSaga'', ''Thridiks saga of Bern'', the ''Literature/PoeticEdda'', and the ''Literature/ProseEdda'', as well as other, lesser works. He also found much suggestive detail in the scholarly writings of antiquarians such as Simrock, Rühs, and Creator/TheBrothersGrimm. Wagner composed the text in the style of ancient Germanic poetry, in the alliterative verse form called ''Stabreim'', as, for example, in ''Walküre'':

-->''Waffenlos fiel' ich''
-->''in Feindes Haus! ''
-->''Seiner Rache Pfand’''
-->''raste ich hier! ''

-->Defenseless, I found
-->my foeman’s house!
-->Fall’n to his revenge,
-->remain I here!

Wagner shows a tendency in his verse to employ an excess of superlatives ("Deepest love’s holiest need") and unusual or archaic words and constructions („''neidlich”, "emulable" (?); “der Recken Zwist'' “of war-men the strife", and so on), which gave his text rather a stilted sound even in the over-blown [[UsefulNotes/GermanLanguage literary German]] of his time. Dramatically, however, his text is masterly in its construction; his situations highly suggestive, and his characterization vivid and deep in psychological insight.

The staging of the work proved problematic. Wagner had the typical Teutonic and 19th century fascination with history, and instructed his scenery and costume designers to emulate as closely as possible the Ancient Germanic setting of the original legend.[[note]]which, oddly enough, despite the cycle's [[TheTimeOfMyths legendary]] setting, can be dated ''historically'' pretty exactly to the year 437 A.D. by the destruction of the Rhine-based kingdom of Gunthaharius (Wagner’s Gunther) by the Huns[[/note]] Unfortunately, that particular period was (and still is) a particularly obscure one in terms of social history, and Carl Döpler’s designs, though in accordance with the [[DatedHistory best knowledge of the time]], were largely based on ceremonial costumes, in some cases extrapolated backward from much later sources.[[note]]The effect is somewhat like trying to imagine the civilian costume of George Washington from looking at the dress uniform of George S. Patton.[[/note]] Hence the rather silly looking HornyVikings costumes[[note]]which Wagner’s wife Cosima famously compared to "[[BraidsBeadsAndBuckskins Red Indian chiefs]]" [[/note]] and settings that still inform most people’s mental image of the ''Ring''. Furthermore, the spectacular scenic effects that Wagner intended, his dwarfs and dragons, gods and nixes, his bear and rams and serpent and ravens and wood-bird, even his rainbows, mists, rivers, caverns, and mountains, have afforded nightmarish problems from the very earliest presentations of the work. (Legend has it that the dragon’s neck was unavailable in the first performances, having been sent by mistake, not to Bayreuth in [[UsefulNotes/TheSixteenLandsOfDeutschland Bavaria]], but to Beirut in UsefulNotes/{{Lebanon}}.) Nevertheless, Wagner’s dramatic technique was highly influential, to the extent that it colored the general public’s very conception of what "opera" is.

Note that it is largely Carl Emil Döpler's costume designs for the {{Valkyries}} in the 1876 Bayreuth production of Wagner's ''Ring'' that has established the popular image of the fat, [[HornyVikings horn-helmeted]], [[ChainmailBikini breast-plated]] operatic soprano, though it may be noted that Döpler's Valkyries actually wear [[NiceHat winged helmets]]. The common expression "The opera ain't over till the [[BrawnHilda fat lady]] sings" may well derive from productions of ''Götterdämmerung'' in which Brünnhilde sings a lengthy monologue just before the conclusion (the actual last words are those of the [[ClassicVillain villain]] Hagen) or from ''Tristan und Isolde'' which actually concludes with a lengthy monologue from the opera's heroine. (The lady in question being fat because the huge soprano voice required to sail over a Wagnerian orchestra is not often found in petite women.) [[spoiler: In both operas, the hero has died in the previous scene, so an uninformed audience member might well have assumed the opera would be over at that point.]]

Most important, of course, is Wagner's music. In the ''Ring'' Wagner's ''{{Leitmoti|f}}v''[[note]]Wagner invented neither the use of the ''Leitmotiv'' nor the name; the symbolical use of melodies or melodic phrases can be traced back to TheMiddleAges, and the word itself was invented by Wagner's disciple, Hans von Wolzogen, to describe what Wagner himself called "melodic moments of feeling."[[/note]] method is used in its most developed and sophisticated form. The score is by no means a simple patchwork, with (say) a "Wotan" motive[[note]]Note that "motive" is the Anglicization of Wolzogen’s „''Motiv''“ preferred by Wagnerian commentators from Creator/GeorgeBernardShaw and Ernest Newman up to Deryck Cooke, rather than the Frenchified ''motif''[[/note]] sounding every time Wotan appears on-stage. Rather, it is a symphonic development of fundamental musical ideas, varied, combined, split, and developed in a complicated psychological counterpoint to the symbolism of the stage action. Frequently the music reveals the unspoken thoughts or feelings of a character; equally frequently, it comments ironically on the action. For the rest, Wagner’s music is characterized by the preeminence of harmony, making rich use of chromaticism in the service of mood-setting and picture painting -- hence his importance as a dramatic composer, and his influence on later composers, particularly for the cinema, which has lasted to this day.
!! Tropes occurring in ''The Ring of the Nibelung'':

* AccentAdaptation: Of Germanic (thus including Norse Mythology). Wagner uses the attested German names for the Gods, thus Wotan (Odin) and Fria (Freyja). The other names such as Donner (Thor) is [[MeaningfulName German for thunder]] which is realted to the old German name Donar. All these words mean thunder in their respective language. Erda (Jord) is Old High German and means earth much like Jord. Froh (Freyr) means glad but originates in the [[OlderThanDirt Proto-Germanic]] word frawaz and is also related to the word Frö which means lord. Froh is thus actually a misstranslation from Wagner's part that should be Frao since Freyr is the masculine form of Freyja and means lord.
* AchievementsInIgnorance: Siegfried succeeds in reforging Nothung, for the very reason that he ''knows not'' fear. Literally. Never mind that Mime with all manner of skill in smithery can't do it, Siegfried can somehow do it just from having complete ignorance of the concept of fear.
* AdaptationalVillainy: Hagen in his original appearances. He may have killed Siegfried (in the Nibelungenlied, in the Volsung Saga he and Gunther seem equally responsible in telling their younger brother to do so) but he is ultimately loyal to Gunther. Here Hagen is acting out of desire for the ring and ends up killing Gunther.
* AddedAlliterativeAppeal: The libretto of the ''Ring'' is written in ''Stabreim'', the ancient Germanic verse-form that was based on alliteration. Thus the opening of ''Rheingold'':
-->„''Weia! Waga! Woge, du Welle! Walle zur Wiege! Wagalaweia! Wallala weiala weia!''"
* AmazonBrigade: The Valkyries.
* AncestralWeapon: In ''Walküre'', Brünnhilde gives the fragments of Siegmund's sword to Sieglinde; Siegfried duly forges them anew into a sword in his eponymous opera.
* AntiHero[=/=]AntiVillain:
** Wotan. Though he ''is'' trying to establish a world of order and laws, his actions are nearly always self-serving.
* ArtifactOfDoom: The Ring of the Nibelung. Mainly because Alberich cursed all those who would have it after him, but not only due to that. The misery and hatred that it brings is implicit in the very act of making it, since the condition for doing so is the [[PoweredByAForsakenChild renunciation of Love]] (in the broader sense that includes ''all'' affections). Plus, pretty much any item that gives its bearer power over the whole world will end up with a pretty bloody trail behind it of those who sought it out.
* AssholeVictim: Mime. He used Siegfried as a pawn to get Fafnir's treasure, originally the treasure of Mime's brother Alberich, and intended to kill Sigefried once through poisoning him once the boy had killed the dragon. Naturally, very few feel anything for evil-hearted Mime once he has been killed by noble Siegfried.
* AsYouKnow: Every single opera contains all the relevant exposition which makes it possible for them to be performed separately. Interestingly, this was not Wagner's intention: he was adamant that the four operas should be performed on four successive nights.
* AttackItsWeakPoint: How Siegfried defeats Fafner.
* AtTheOperaTonight: The ''Ring'' operas rank among the favorites for characters to attend, as in Nicholas Meyers' SherlockHolmes novel, ''The Seven Per Cent Solution'' (''Siegfried'').
* BadassBaritone: Or Bass-baritone. Alberich, Wotan, Fasolt, Fafner, Donner, Hunding, Hagen -- Gunther is the only weakling at the deep end of the pool.
* BadToTheBone: The WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes series is very fond particularly of the Nibelung and Giant [[{{Leitmotif}} motifs]] in heralding any sinister doings.
* BatmanGambit: Wotan tries to manipulate Siegmund into killing Fafner and getting the ring to Wotan by his own free will. Doesn't work. In fact, it backfires on all the ''Walküre'' cast except Fricka.
* BastardBastard: Scheming Hagen, murderer of Siegfried and his own half-brother Gunther.
* BattleCry:
** The Valkyries' "Hojotoho! Hojotoho! Heiaha! Heiaha!"
** To a lesser extent: Hagen's "Hoiho" in ''Götterdämmerung''.
* BavarianFireDrill: How Hagen summons the vassals in ''Götterdämmerung''
* BearsAreBadNews: As Siegfried demonstrates by letting one loose on Mime.
* BedTrick: Actually occurs in Wagner's sources for the ''Ring'', but softened by him into a temporary exchange of identities by Siegfried and Gunther; Brünnhilde's certainty that this trope '''has''' been invoked leads to the disaster that follows.
* BeneathTheEarth: Nibelheim.
* BestKnownForTheFanService: Following the ''Venusberg'' scene in ''[[Theatre/TannhaeuserUndDerSaengerkriegAufWartburg Tannhäuser]]'', Wagner was no stranger to this:
** ''Das Rheingold'' opens with the Rhine Maidens frolicking underwater in a scene that scandalized many in the 1870s. One critic referred to it as ''das Hurenaquarium'' ("the whores' aquarium"), which angered the husband of one of the singers who had been in that scene so much that he took the critic to court. In one more recent Bayreuth production the singers were required to perform in the nude and sing while swimming in real water.
** Act 1 of ''Die Walküre'' closes with long-separated twins Siegmund and Sieglinde about to have sex, just when (in the words of Wagner's stage instructions) "the curtain falls quickly". Compared to that, even the much-loved "Wotan's farewell and fire magic" at the end of act three faces tough competition.
* BigScrewedUpFamily: As Deryck Cooke remarks, "Those who derive amusement from making fun of ''The Ring'' will be delighted to realise that one of Wotan’s problems is 'in-law trouble.'"
* TheBlacksmith: This is the normal occupation of the Nibelungs. ''See also'' UltimateBlacksmith, ''below''.
* BookEnds: ''Das Rheingold'' begins with the Rhinemaidens singing their chorus as they guard the gold at the bottom of the Rhine. Guess how ''Götterdämmerung'' ends.
* BornWinner: Siegfried.
* BrawnHilda: Brunhilde is the TropeNamer - but not InUniverse, the trope naming came from stage performances, in which Brunhilde was played by a large woman because they are usually the only ones who can play her part.
* BrotherSisterIncest:
** At the beginning of ''Die Walküre'', Sieglinde is married to Hunding. A mysterious stranger arrives. The mysterious stranger and Sieglinde fall in love, and Sieglinde drugs her brutish husband. At the end of the act it is revealed that the mysterious stranger is Siegmund, and he is Sieglinde's long-lost brother. The brother and sister ecstatically declare their love at the end of the act. Their child, Siegfried, will be the hero of the eponymous next opera in the cycle.
** And then there are multiple productions that include chemistry between Froh and Freia in ''Das Rheingold'' and/or Hagen and Gutrune in ''Götterdämmerung''.
* BSODSong: Notably, "''Als junge Liebe''" in ''Walküre''.
* ButtMonkey: Mime is victimized by both Alberich and Siegfried.
* CainAndAbel:
** In ''Das Rheingold'', Fafner kills his brother Fasolt, and in ''Götterdämmerung'', Hagen murders his half-brother Gunther.
** Then there is the rivalry between Mime and Alberich.
* TheChessmaster: Wotan likes to ''think'' he is this, but actually is easily outgambitted by Fricka and even (in a way) Siegfried. However, at least one contemporary production (the spectacular Copenhagen Ring, for this and other reasons nicknamed the Feminist's Ring) plays it straight with ''Brünnhilde'' of all people: she not only manipulated Wotan into accepting her terms of punishment, but chose her future husband in doing so -- who is not even born at this point, but has already been named by her. Talk about long-term thinking.
* {{Chickification}}: Threatened by Wotan as a horrible fate for the Valkyries; Brünnhilde comes to embrace it.
* TheChosenOne: Siegfried is the hero destined to recover the Ring and rescue Brünnhilde from the ring of magic fire.
* CleverCrows: A pair of these are intelligence gatherers for Wotan, bird-watching whom proves fatal to Siegfried.
* CompositeCharacter:
** Odin and Volsung are combined with the latter being a mortal guise of the former.
** The dwarf in the original myth was named Andvari, Alberich is the name of a completely different dwarf.
** Sieglinde is a combination of Signy, sister of Sigmund with whom he had incestuous relations, and Hjordis, wife of Sigmund and mother of Sigurd.
* ConceptAlbum: The ''Ring''
* ConflictingLoyalty: What the Ring cycle is all about. The characters are divided and scattered between their desires and duties. ''Die Walkure'' especially tackles this well, since Brunnhilde states that she is serving Wotan's deepest desires of his heart (helping Siegmund and Sieglinde) while disobeying his commands (kill Siegmund) which he is forced to do by Fricka. Wotan is forced to punish Brunnhilde and remove her from the Valkyrie even if she is his favorite daughter.
* TheConsigliere: Hagen in ''Götterdämmerung'' pretends to be this, but he's actually TheChessmaster who suffers from ChronicBackstabbingDisorder -- or, at least, makes ''others'' suffer from it.
* CoolHelmet: As a result of Döpler's costume designs, in which helmets are adorned by various varieties of horns and wings.
* CoolSword: Nothung ("Born of Need"), Wagner's equivalent to the ''Literature/{{Nibelungenlied}}'' 's "Balmung" ("Destruction") or ''Volsungasaga'''s "Gram" ("Wrath").
* CreepyCrows: A pair of these are intelligence gatherers for Wotan; bird-watching them proves fatal to Siegfried.
* CurbStompBattle: The first act and a half of ''Siegfried'' is spent building up to what ought to be an epic battle between the fearless Siegfried and Fafner the dragon. The actual fighting only goes on for one minute before Siegfried runs Nothung through Fafner's heart, and is set to rather perfunctory music.
* DarkAgeEurope: Though really more TheTimeOfMyths. The Jahrhundertring averted this by updating the setting to the UsefulNotes/IndustrialRevolution. The forges and dark mines of the Nibelungen becomes a mine-shaft and factory setting. This was based on the fact that the Ring cycle was contemporary to this era.
* DeathByFlashback: Happens to Siegfried in ''Götterdämmerung''.
* DecompositeCharacter: Fasolt and Mime both take the role of Regin, the former as Fafnir's brother and the latter as Siegfried's evil-hearted foster father.
* DirtyCoward: Mime, though some directors try to soften his character considerably in modern productions.
* TheDitz: Freia in ''Das Rheingold'' has her ditzy moments. When she is bought free, she is touched and says: "Do you really think I am worth all that gold?" Evidently she doesn't realize that Wotan mostly just want to keep her for her magical apples, and she also missed Erda's long speech about how Wotan should give up the Ring.
* DivineDate: Siegfried and Brünnhilde, since the latter is a daughter of Wotan.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: Wagner's Nibelung dwarves (particularly Mime) have been claimed as {{Fantasy Counterpart Culture}}s of the [[SpaceJews Jews]]. While this is not entirely [[EpilepticTrees far-fetched]] (Gustav Mahler, both a Jew and an admirer of Wagner, accepted Mime, at least, as a Semitic caricature), it is a theory that can be pressed too far.
** Others have pointed to the noticeable physical resemblance between Mime and Richard Wagner himself.
* DragonHoard: Fafner kills his hitherto-bro Fasolt for the Rhine-Gold and is later found transformed into a dragon lying on the gold, until Siegfried kills him and takes the treasure.
* EasyAmnesia: Brünn-''who''-lde?
* EndOfAnAge: Or you could even call it a ''Götterdämmerung''.
* TheEpic: ''Der Ring des Nibelungen''. Performances range between 13 1/2 (Böhm & Boulez) to 17 hours (Goodall).
* EvilCounterpart:
** In the end, Wotan and Alberich aren't too different. Wotan even refers to himself and Alberich as "Light Alberich" and "Black Alberich" at points.
** Siegfried and Hagen are both illegitimate and both being used to recover the ring, Siegfried by his Grandfather Wotan and Hagen by his father Alberich.
* EvilLaugh: Alberich gets one when he steals the Rhinegold from the maidens.
* EvilSoundsDeep: As with Alberich, Hunding, and Hagen. On the other hand, the well-intentioned, if weak, Gunther is a baritone, and on the ''other'' other hand, Mime is a squeaky tenor.
* EvilVsEvil: Alberich and Mime. However Mime can easily come across as too pathetic to be evil.
* EyepatchOfPower: Wotan.
* FaceHeelTurn: Alberich does a decidedly abrupt one of these, starting as a [[ExtravertedNerd inept lover]] but quickly transforming into an EvilOverlord and staying that way for the rest of the cycle. This also sets the entire rest of the plot in motion.
* {{Fanfare}}: Several of Wagner's ''{{Leitmoti|f}}ve'' (''e.g.'', [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iArAhOIzIRM Siegfried's horncall]]) have the character of fanfares. At Bayreuth, certain motifs are [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXup8Aw4CO4 played as fanfares]] from the balcony of the ''Festspielhaus'' to announce the beginning of an act.
* FearlessFool: Siegfried has never learned what fear is until he meets Brünnhilde. (No, you're ''not'' supposed to laugh.)
* FlamesOfLove: Siegfried and Brünnhilde meet and fall in love against a backdrop of fire (the RingOfFire that she was imprisoned in) and their story also ends in fire, with them being reunited in death on a funeral pyre.
* ForgedByTheGods: The magic sword Nothung, created by Wotan [[note]] or, at least, appropriated by him[[/note]] and wielded first by Siegmund and then Siegfried.
* ForgingScene: In ''Siegfried'', the eponymous hero reforges his father's shattered sword Nothung, while singing an address to the weapon, „''Nothung! Nothung! Neidliches Schwert!''"
* ForWantOfANail: Wotan spends the whole saga trying to keep the ring from falling back into Alberich's hands. Except that all he had to do was return the ring to the Rhinemaidens, which he couldn't do, because he had to pay Fasolt and Fafner for building Valhalla by giving them the ring. And the main reason he built Valhalla was because Fricka hounded him into it. And the only reason she did that was to keep him home and hopefully stop him from running around cheating on her. So in the final analysis, the whole mess could have been avoided if Wotan had just kept his dick in his pants.
* FromBadToWorse: Combined with NiceJobBreakingItHero. Siegmund tries to help a girl who's forced into marriage. In doing so, he kills her brothers, breaking her heart, and then the girl, still weeping over the bodies, is in turn killed by vengeful clansmen.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: Alberich is just a [[ExtravertedNerd lovesick dwarf]] until he gets hold of the Rheingold and makes a ring which makes him [[TookALevelInBadass a threat]] [[BigBad to the gods themselves]].
* FullPotentialUpgrade: Siegfried has a habit of contemptuously snapping Mime's swords in two until Siegfried finally reforges the invincible Nothung.
* GambitRoulette: In ''Götterdämmerung'', it is unclear to what extent Hagen has a masterplan and to what extent he is winging it. If we are meant to understand that he has masterminded the whole affair, then it is definitely this trope.
* GigglingVillain: Mime is often played this way in ''Siegfried''.
* GodsHandsAreTied: Why Wotan cannot just kill the giants and take the Ring for himself. It is often thought this is a deconstruction of the idea of divine laws.
* GiveMeASword: The weaponless Siegmund voices this sentiment when he sings his aria „''Ein Schwert verhieß mir der Vater''". At the end of the act he pulls Nothung, which had been planted there by Wotan, out of the ash tree that supports Hunding's roof.
* HatOfPower: The Tarnhelm, which grants the wearer invisibility, shape-shifting, and teleportation.
* TheHeavy: Hagen in ''Götterdämmerung'' is perhaps the most typical example.
* HeavyMithril: It may be classical music and OlderThanRadio, but it's still a textbook example.
* HenpeckedHusband: Wotan feels this way with his wife Fricka. Their introductory scene is Fricka waking him up while he's fast asleep. This aspect is closer to Greek Myth (Zeus and Hera) than Norse myth.
* HeroicBastard: Siegfried, presumably; his father Siegmund however refers to Sieglinde as his "wife", though Fricka, Goddess of Marriage, refuses to recognize it.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Oddly enough, Gunther, who is based on an actual 6th century Burgundian ruler, Gunthahari.
* HopeSpot: Occurs notably in ''Walküre'', when Siegmund sees the gleam of the sword that his father has promised him. The hope proves delusive, of course.
* HotBlooded: Siegfried is rather... excitable.
* HuntingAccident: Hagen claims that Siegfried has been slain by a wild [[FullBoarAction boar]]. It lasts about five seconds before Brunnhilde unmasks him.
* IconicOutfit: Brunnhilde's look from the original production-- a [[BrawnHilda large woman]] in [[HornyVikings Viking-like armor]] with a helmet, a round shield, and a spear-- has become visual shorthand for the entire genre of {{Opera}}, especially in a ShallowParody.
* IdiotHero: Siegfried ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer.
* IgnoredConfession: In the final act of ''Götterdämmerung'', Gutrune confesses that [[spoiler: she created the LovePotion that made Siegfried forget Brunnhilde.]] However, Brunnhilde doesn't seem to hear this ([[HeroicBSOD or be able to register it]]) and continues wondering why [[spoiler: Siegfried had betrayed her.]]
* IllegalGuardian: Mime serves as this to Siegfried, in the hope that the boy will kill Fafner for him.
* IncestIsRelative: Apart from Siegfried's parents, Siegfried has a relationship with his aunt Brünnhilde, as Wotan is her father.
* IneffectualSympatheticVillain: Mime. When he is first seen his brother Alberich is tormenting him. Then Mime raises Siegfried to kill Fafner so he can get the ring, however Siegfried is such a jerk to him you can easily feel sorry to him. Mime does try to kill Siegfried, but this certainly seems understandable.
* ItMayHelpYouOnYourQuest: In ''Siegfried'', after the eponymous hero kills Fafner, he can understand the forest bird's song telling him to take the ring and helm. He doesn't know what they really are, but it keeps them out of the hands of Alberich and Mime. (Too bad that the ring is an ArtifactOfDoom...)
* KarmaHoudini: The Rhinemaidens, who are generally treated by the story as good guys and innocent victims even though it was their cruel taunting of Alberich that drove him evil.
%% ** Alberich.
* {{Kiai}}: The Valkyries use the well-known cry „''Hojotoho! Hojotoho! Heiaha! Heiaha!''"Naturally, their cry is a significant musical {{Leitmotif}}.
* KickTheDog:
** Alberich's cruel mistreatment of the enslaved Nibelungen in ''Das Rheingold'' is probably there to convince the viewer that Alberich is evil, so we don't feel sorry for him when the gods steal his ring.
** Hagen's mockery of Gutrune after Siegfried's death (in ''Götterdämmerung'') seems pretty uncalled for.
* KillEmAll: ''Götterdämmerung'' culminates with Siegfried's death, prompting Brünnhilde to make a HeroicSacrifice that burns down Walhall with all the gods and heroes inside.
* LadyOfWar: The Valkyries, particularly Brünnhilde.
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: In ''Götterdämmerung'', Siegfried is drugged to forget that he ever met Brünnhilde, but remembers killing Fafner and all his other early deeds. Later, he steals the Ring from Brünnhilde, but promptly forgets this.
* LastKiss: Wotan [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKgYLDDkIek memorably]] gives this to Brünnhilde in ''Walküre''.
* {{Leitmotif}}: The Leitmotif technique, if not invented by Wagner, was certainly perfected by him. In his operas, not only would every character have his/her own motif, but also objects, places, and even abstract ideas, all of which would be woven into a complex symphonic whole, in which the variations of the motifs have a psychological effect far more significant than a mere announcement of a character's presence.
* LightIsNotGood: Done rather subtly in the ''Ring'', in which often the only difference between Wotan and Alberich is that Wotan somewhat regrets his actions -- but does them anyway. Wotan actually refers to himself as „''Licht-Alberich''" ("Light-Alberich") and to the dwarf as „''Schwarz-Alberich''" ("Black-Alberich").
* LoveAtFirstSight: Plenty of examples in the ''Ring'':
** Long lost siblings Siegmund and Sieglinde quickly fall in love in Act I of ''Die Walküre.''
** Siegfried instantly falls in love with Brünnhilde after he braves the magic fire and awakens her with a kiss.
* LovePotion: Where it also induces EasyAmnesia in Siegfried.
* TheLowMiddleAges
* MeaningfulName: As when Siegmund ("Victorious Protection") calls himself „''Wehwalt der Wölfing'' -- ("Sorrow-ruled, son of Wolfe").
* MoodMotif: One of the basic functions of the ''{{Leitmoti|f}}ve''.
* MusicOfNote: The "[[Music/RideOfTheValkyries Ride of the Valkyries]]" is the StandardSnippet.
* NamedWeapons: The principal sword in the ''Ring'' is named Nothung.
* NiceHat: Those winged (and {{horn|yVikings}}ed) helmets.
* NoPlansNoPrototypeNoBackup: It has been asserted that when composing the ''Ring'', Wagner at one point intended for the operas to be performed three times in a purpose-built opera house. Afterward, all copies of the score and all the props were to be burned, along with the ''entire opera house''. Obviously this did not happen.
* OnlyTheChosenMayWield: The sword in the ash tree, which can be only pulled out by Siegmund, as he does in ''Die Walküre'' Act I.
* OrchestralBombing: The ''[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V92OBNsQgxU Walkürenritt]]''.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent: As a matter of fact, the dragon (Fafner) is a transformed giant, possibly through use of the magical Tarnhelm. Alberich briefly becomes a dragon using the Tarnhelm, too.
* OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame: Except for Alberich and Mime, the Nibelung dwarfs are pretty much [[PunchClockVillain Punch-Clock Mooks]].
* PlayingWithFire: Loge.
* PopCulturalOsmosis: An astonishing number of Wagnerians have been attracted to his music via ''Film/ApocalypseNow'' and WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes cartoons.
* ThePowerOfLove: In the ''Ring'', though Sieglinde is rescued from Hunding, and Brünnhilde from the [[Music/JohnnyCash Ring of Fire]], Sieglinde's love does not save Siegmund, and Brünnhilde's actually leads to Siegfried's death, and both the ladies (like everyone except the Rhine-daughters, and possibly the Nibelungs) die under rather unpleasant circumstances. (A monologue in an early version of the text, in which Brünnhilde specifically invoked ThePowerOfLove before burning herself to death, was deliberately cut by the composer because it no longer represented his philosophical ideas.)
* PublicDomainArtifact: Averted; the Ring (or rather, any of its prototypes) was not a well-known artifact before Wagner.
* ThePunishment: Alberich, in the ''Ring'', must renounce all love in order to steal the [[MacGuffin magical Rhine-Gold]] that will make him [[EvilOverlord ruler of the world]].
* ReforgedBlade: Nothung, in ''Siegfried''.
* ReluctantGift: Wotan is hesitant to give away Alberich's Ring as payment to the giants for the building of Valhalla. Erda has to convince him to do this.
* "Music/RideOfTheValkyries": The {{Trope Namer|s}} comes from ''Die Walküre''.
* RingOfFire: Brünnhilde is imprisoned in one at the climax of ''Die Walküre''.
* RingOfPower: The central symbol of ''Der Ring des Nibelungen'' is an inevitably corrupting, incorrigibly evil ring inscribed with flaming runes.
* SacredHospitality: Invoked by Hunding in ''Walküre'' with the words „''Heilig ist mein Herd -- heilig sei dir mein Haus!''" ("Sacred is my hearth -- sacred to thee be my house!") Despite realising Siegmund is the man who was hunting for killing members of his clan he says he will let him stay the night. Then Siegmund elopes with Hunding's Wife.
* SadlyMythtaken: Or sometimes Willfully Mythtaken. Wagner enraged folklorists from his own time to the present for adapting ancient myths and legends with abandon, and in the process, [[AdaptationDisplacement ousting the originals]] from the minds of most of the public.
* SelfImmolation: Brünnhilde.
* SerialEscalation: Where Wagner took opera -- I mean, ''Bühnenfestspiel''.
* ShockAndAwe: Donner.
* SmallReferencePools: The "Music/RideOfTheValkyries" is one of a select group of classical pieces known to practically everyone who knows classical music only from PopCulture references. Likewise, the ''Ring of the Nibelung'' itself appears whenever opera is mentioned, but only if "Viking" helmets are involved, and usually ''without'' any of the Master's music.
* SpaceJews: The Nibelungs have been claimed by some to be stand-ins for the Jews. ''See'' DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything ''above''.
* SpeaksFluentAnimal: Siegfried can do this after tasting the dragon's blood.
* SpiritAdvisor: Alberich seems to fulfill this function for Hagen in ''Götterdämmerung''.
* StandardSnippet: The "Music/RideOfTheValkyries". "Siegfried's Funeral March" from ''Götterdämmerung'' has also been used for funerals in the real world.
* StarCrossedLovers: Falling in love is generally not a good idea in a Wagner opera:
** Siegmund is killed by Hunding (after Wotan shatters Siegmund's sword), Sieglinde dies in child-birth.
** Siegfried is speared in the back, Brünnhilde burns herself to death on his funeral-pyre.
** Gutrune apparently dies of grief.
* TheStarscream: Mime, in his relationship with Alberich.
* StockholmSyndrome: In some versions of ''Das Rheingold'', Freia is shown to develop sympathy for the love-stricken Fasolt.
* SurpriseIncest: Subverted, Siegfried and Sieglinde realises they are siblings but go ahead.
* TenorBoy: Invoked with Siegmund and Siegfried -- the more "boyish" Wagnerian rôles, though perhaps subverted by Mime.
* ThemeSongReveal: One of the basic uses of the {{Leitmotif}}, as for instance when the Walhall motif plays when Sieglinde describes the old man who thrust the sword into Hunding's roof-tree.
* TheTimeOfMyths: The setting for the ''Ring'' Cycle.
* TrashTheSet: If everything goes according to Wagner's plans, the cycle is meant to be staged in a temporary wooden building that is to be set ablaze at the story's end.
* TrickingTheShapeshifter: Loge captures Alberich by daring him to transform into something small, whereupon Alberich becomes a toad.
* {{Twincest}}: Siegmund and Sieglinde in ''Die Walküre''.
* {{Ubermensch}}: Nietzsche saw Siegfried (and, indeed, Wagner himself) as the type of the new man who would transcend outworn moralities.
* UltimateBlacksmith: Alberich, Mime, and Siegfried all have claims on the part.
* {{Valkyries}}: It is Wagner's version that most people think of when imagining these mythological "Gatherers of the Slain" -- however, it is worth noting that unlike the popular conception, Wagner's original Valkyries did '''not''' wear horned helmets, but winged ones; did '''not''' ride winged horses, though they were aerial ones; and, though intended to be rather manly, ungentle women, were intended to be statuesque in the 19th century manner, rather than grossly obese.
* VerbalBackpedaling: In ''Siegfried'', the dragon's blood acts as a reverse TruthSerum, allowing Siegfried (and the audience) to hear through Mime's lies. Several times, Mime lets his malicious intent slip; Siegfried questions him; he objects that he didn't say anything untoward, then continues in a soothing tone telling Siegfried [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness He Has Outlived His Usefulness]].
* VoiceOfTheLegion: Fafner, after he becomes a dragon, is subject to various kinds of technological vocal amplification -- originally just a speaking trumpet, but using higher and higher tech ever since.
* WeCanRuleTogether: Hagen asks his father Alberich who will inherit the "eternal power" (''ewige Macht'') of the Ring if he gets it back from Siegfried. Alberich says: "I... and you!" He can't fool his son though.
* TheWeirdSisters:
** In ''The Rhine-Gold'', the Rhine-Maidens are three water-women who guard the magical Rhine-Gold, but lose it to Alberich who forges it into a magical ring. In Act 3 of ''Gotterdämmerung'', Siegfried, the present owner of Alberich's ring, accidentally encounters the Rhine-Maidens who warn him about the curse of the ring and urge him to return it to the river. When Siegfried dismisses the warning, they predict Siegfried's death, which comes to pass.
** In the beginning of ''Gotterdämmerung'', the three Norns are seen weaving the thread of Destiny, and sing a song which predicts the burning of Valhalla and the end of the gods. The thread snaps suddenly, foreshadowing that their prophecy will come true by the end of the opera.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: At the end Alberich is still around, however this is appropriate as only he and the Rhinemaidens survive and the Ring Cycle started with them. Some versions don't make it clear what happened to Gutrune, though she is supposed to face DeathByDespair.
* WomanScorned: For Brünnhilde, it is not enough that her husband, Siegfried, completely forgot her due to a love potion and married Gutrune, he also kidnapped her in the form of Gunther, and took her wedding Ring.
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: The first step in bringing forth the fall of gods and man? Three beautiful women scorning poor, ugly Alberich until he is so bitter that he renounces love.
* WorldOfHam: "Wagnerian" has become practically a synonym for this.
* TheWorldTree: The ash tree trunk in Hunding's house (which older sources call an oak or apple tree) may be an attempt to invoke a connection to Yggdrasil.
* WreckedWeapon: Happens twice, once when Wotan shatters Siegmund's sword Nothung with his spear, and again when Siegfried symmetrically shatters Wotan's spear with the {{reforged|Blade}} Nothung.
* YouAreWorthHell: Siegmund rejects eternal glory in Valhalla rather than be separated from wife/sister Sieglinde. See above trope, {{Twincest}}.
* YourCheatingHeart: Fricka is not upset with Wotan's affair with Erda which resulted in the birth of the Valkyries, and also Siegmund and Sieglinde, both of whom are his illegitimate children.
!!Works which adapt or cite ''The Ring of the Nibelung'':


[[folder:Animated Film]]
* One of the planned sequences for Creator/WaltDisney's ''Disney/{{Fantasia}}'' was the "Music/RideOfTheValkyries."

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Manga/GiantRobo''
* ''Manga/TheLegendOfKoizumi'' features a [[StupidJetpackHitler reincarnated cyborg Wagner]] as one of ThoseWackyNazis whom our heroes battle, complete with [[CallingYourAttacks attacks]] based on his operas.
* The ''Anime/YuGiOh'' character, Siegfried von Schroider, is derived from the Wagnerian character, and one of his cards is even called "Nibelung's Ring." Moreover, he has a Valkyrie deck, which is a reference to ''Walküre''.
* The foundation for The World in the ''Franchise/DotHack'' series is based off of this and Norse mythology in general. Several characters also are references.
* ''LightNovel/TrinityBlood'': Melchior von Neumann's favourite [[RobotGirl Auto-Doll]] is named Sieglinde.
* ''Anime/PonyoOnTheCliffByTheSea'' also references the Ring. Ponyo's original name is Brunhilde, and like the character of the same name from the opera, she's a supernatural being who defies her father and falls in love with a human. In case someone thought all this is coincidental, the connection is further emphasized when her leitmotif is orchestrated as a pastiche of the "Ride of the Valkyries" during the climactic tsunami scene.
* Creator/LeijiMatsumoto wrote a manga titled ''Harlock Saga: The Ring of the Nibelung'' that retells the story using characters from ''Anime/CaptainHarlock'' and his other works.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheMightyThor'' #294-299 (1980) Roy Thomas and Keith Pollard adapt the Ring as an event that happened in the past with Thor as both Siegmund and Siegfriend in addition to himself and Valkyrie and Brunhilda. It is the only adaptation in this folder that is rated for everyone. Each opera was told over the course of two issues, sometimes ending in the middle of an issue where the next one would then begin.
* Roy Thomas and Gil Kane produced a direct comic adaptation of the tetralogy, the four-part graphic novel ''The Ring of the Nibelung'' (DC, 1990). Each opera got one issue to tell the story resulting in this being a CompressedAdaptation. Due to nudity and violence this is for mature readers.
* A sumptuous complete adaptation based on the translation by Patrick Mason, ''The Ring of the Nibelung'', was produced by P. Craig Russell (Dark Horse Press, 2000-2001). "The Rheingold" and "Gotterdamerung" were told over the course of four issues while "The Valkyrie" and "Siegfried" were told over the course of three. This adaptation is for readers age sixteen and up.

* ''Film/ApocalypseNow'': In which, of course, the "[[Music/RideOfTheValkyries Walkürenritt]]" provides SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic. For further uses of that piece in films, please see [[Music/RideOfTheValkyries that page]].
* ''Film/{{Batman}}'': Siegfried's funeral music heavily influenced Danny Elfman's Batman theme.
* ''Film/{{Valkyrie}}'': Tom Cruise makes the [[{{Anvilicious}} obvious]] invocation.
* In a MusicalGag, the cavalry [[TheBlacksmith blacksmith]] in Creator/JohnFord's ''Film/SheWoreAYellowRibbon'' is named [[Music/RichardWagner Wagner]]; when he appears, the soundtrack plays the [[ForgingScene smithying]] {{Leitmotif}} from the ''Ring''.
* Excerpts from this cycle are a recurring theme in the Franchise/MarvelCinematicUniverse.
** Red Skull listens to ''Götterdämmerung'' as he's having his portrait painted in ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheFirstAvenger.''
** Loki makes a clever use of his leitmotif, choreographing one of his fight scenes to it in ''Film/TheAvengers2012.''
* In the beginning of ''Film/DasTestamentDesDoktorMabuse'', the film cuts from a fiery explosion (something that can be called a Feuerzauber in German slang) to Kommissar Lohmann humming ''Wotans Feuerzauber'' from the finale of ''Die Walküre'' and telling his secretary that this evening [[TemptingFate he at last has the time to attend a performance of that opera]]. Of course that is precisely the moment when the telephone rings...
* In ''Film/OneTwoThree'' the family doctor is called in to diagnose what is wrong with Scarlett Hazeltine, which causes him to miss the first act of ''Die Walküre''. After he reveals that she is pregnant, he cheerfully leaves, humming ''Music/TheRideOfTheValkyries''. That piece is then also used as background music to [=MacNamara=] and co. driving to East Berlin to spring Scarlett's husband from jail.

* In James Herriot's "All Creatures Great and Small" books, Siegfried Farnon got that name because his father was a fan of Wagner.
* In George C. Chesbro's ''The Beasts of Valhalla'', EvilutionaryBiologist Siegmund Loge (ha ha) is a fanatical Wagner fan.
* The main character of Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/TheCatWhoWalksThroughWalls'' also admits to cribbing the plot for one of his books from ''Der Ring des Nibelungen''.
* In Creator/JohnCWright's ''The Chronicles of Chaos'', there is banter mangling together ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'' and ''Der Ring des Nibelungen''.
* Stephen R. Donaldson's ''The Gap'' series is literally a SpaceOpera, being an adaptation of the ''Ring'' InSpace.
* Creator/GeorgeBernardShaw’s ''The Perfect Wagnerite'' is an analysis of the ''Ring'' from a Socialist point of view. It was a big influence on Patrice Chéreau's ''Jahrhundertring'', the production for the centennial of the Bayreuth festival in 1979.
* In Nicholas Meyer's SherlockHolmes {{Pastiche}} ''The Seven Per Cent Solution'', Holmes (who adores Wagner), Dr. Watson, and Sigmund Freud all attend a performance of ''Siegfried''; Watson and Freud fall asleep.
* In James Joyce's ''Literature/{{Ulysses}}'', Stephen Dedalus yells "Nothung!" as he destroys a lamp with his staff.
* In ''[[Literature/TalesOfTheFiveHundredKingdoms The Sleeping Beauty]]'', the little bird warns Siegfried not to take the ring or mess with Bruunhilde, saying it will be his "[[DoomyDoomsOfDoom DOOM!]]" After a book's length of other adventures, Bruunhilde is awakened by a completely different prince, tells Wotan exactly what she thinks of him and the entire story, and informs him that she took the Ring back to the river maidens herself and put an end to the whole silly misunderstanding.
* Creator/TomHolt's comic fantasy novel, ''Literature/ExpectingSomeoneTaller'', is, ''very'' loosely, a sequel, set in modern times.
* The novella ''Wälsungenblut'' ("Wälsung Blood", written in 1906) by [[UsefulNotes/DichterAndDenker Thomas Mann]] invokes ''Die Walküre'': Decadent Jewish twins [[PropheticName Siegmund and Sieglind]] Aarenhold decide to emulate the example of their namesakes after attending a performance of the opera.
* In ''Discworld/SoulMusic'' Susan, while doing her grandfather's Duty, has to visit a battlefield, where she meets a group of Valkyries in a scene that parodies the beginning of act 3 of ''Die Walküre''.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* On ''Series/{{Kingdom}}'' during a ChaseScene involving Peter Kingdom's CoolCar and a guy on a bike. Lyle [[DiegeticSwitch puts on]] the "Music/RideOfTheValkyries."
* In the Münster ''Series/{{Tatort}}'' Professor Karl-Friedrich Boerne is a great admirer of Richard Wagner, which led him to give his diminutive assistant Silke Haller the nickname Alberich. In the course of later episodes she acquired a dog called Wotan, which belonged to a murder victim [[spoiler: who turned out to be Boerne's near-identical half-brother]], and it was revealed that she lives in ''Rheingoldweg'' ("Rhine Gold Way").

* Music/GraveDigger's ''Rheingold'' is a ConceptAlbum which is based on ''The Ring of the Nibelung''.

* In the aftermath of the Enron disaster, the Firesign Theater compared the Enron story to "The Ring cycle," with hilarious results. A video of that show can be found on the DVD of ''Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.''

* The great Creator/AnnaRussell hilariously parodied the ''Ring'' in routines like "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ve7wH-k8LgQ The Ring of the Nibelungs: An Analysis]]" [''sic''] and the PoirotSpeak-based "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPhFBE4UGvA Schreechenrauf]]."

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxFreelancePolice'' episode ''The Tomb of Sammun-Mak'', we know that [[LittleMissBadass little]] [[BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy Amelia Earhart]] listens to "The Ride of the Valkyries" as a lullaby.
* The ActionRPG ''VideoGame/OdinSphere'' is riddled through with Wagnerian references. There's even a character named Wagner!

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The third episode of Operavox is an adaptation of "The Rhinegold." Due to a thirty minute run time Donner, Froh, Mime and Erda were all omitted.
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/AdventureTime Adventure Time With Finn And Jake]]'', Billy's sword is called Nothung.
* In ''Toys/{{BIONICLE}}'', the music played when the Le-Matoran are preparing to attack the Nui-Rama Hive is the "Music/RideOfTheValkyries".
* In an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'', Mr. Burns gets to fight in a tank ("I've been waiting 25 years for this"), and he plays "Music/TheRideOfTheValkyries" as the SugarWiki/AwesomeMusic. He gets {{Rickroll}}ed.
* The ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' short, ''WesternAnimation/WhatsOperaDoc'' (and its 1945 precursor, ''WesternAnimation/HerrMeetsHare''), although most of the music in them is not from the ''Ring''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheRealGhostbusters'' had the episode "A Fright at the Opera," in which a performance of Wagner's work gets interrupted by a horde of real (if ghostly) Valkyries.
* In ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales1987'', Mrs. Beakley is playing Brünhilde in an opera performance - which results in her being kidnapped by actual Vikings...