Characters / Shoebox Zoo


Marnie McBride

An eleven-year old Scottish-American, Marnie finds her troubled life turned upside down when a shoebox containing living toys comes into her possession. She is prophesized to find the Book of Forbidden Knowledge created by Michael Scot and restore the Shoebox Zoo to their human forms. However, she refuses the call, filled with angst from the recent death of her mother. Mopey and cries for most of the series, but with good reason.
  • Alliterative Name
  • Angst: Poor Marnie goes through some trials. Her mother dies of cancer three months prior to the series' events, and her father Ross whisks her away from her home in Colorado to Edinburgh in a matter of weeks. Marnie's grief is a major part of the series' narrative, going through the five stages to tearjerking lengths and takes a walk on The Dark Side for a while. Also doubles as Age-Appropriate Angst.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Often reminded it is her destiny to find the Book, something which Marnie is not thrilled by.
  • Big "NO!": During Wolfgang's death, and when Toledo steals the Book from her.
  • But Now I Must Go: At the end of the series, Marnie leaves the Shoebox Zoo in the American junk shop her mother found them in years ago, so other people can inherit them.
  • The Chosen One: Michael's 1100-year old prophecy predicted she would find the Book, based on the significance of her birthday (11/11/11/11).
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Described by the narrator as to become "older and much, much wiser". Marnie has to make a lot of difficult, adult decisions in her quest, and has to deal with her grief as well.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Quite a lot.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Her desire to see her mother again takes her for a walk on The Dark Side.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come / Dreaming of Times Gone By: Marnie has dreams of the past in the first season, and dreams of the future in the second.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Corrupted by the Book's dark magic and driven by her own grief, Marnie turns evil with the plan to resurrect her mother and performs a lot of cruel acts. She eventually has a Heel–Face Turn after having a talk with Ross.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With the Shoebox Zoo and Kyle.
  • Fish out of Water: Doesn't take well from moving from American to Scotland.
  • The Hero: As chosen by an eleven-hundred year prophecy.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: When Toledo snatches the Book before Marnie's eyes, and she ends up taking her grief-stricken despair out on Ross, though this leads to her Heel–Face Turn.
  • Heroic Spirit: Eventually gains this trope.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Marnie acts like a real bitch towards others, particularly towards the Shoebox Zoo, but this mostly stems from her angst and not wanting more weight on her shoulders. At heart she is a kind girl and becomes very wise despite only being eleven.
  • Like Is, Like, a Comma: She is an American teenager after all.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Marnie's necklace is one of Edwin's tail feathers, once owned by her mother. It is actually magic and source for her powers in the first season, and reacts in the presence of evil.
  • No Macguffin No Winner
  • Perpetual Frowner: Often moody and bothered by the quest, and her mother's death has not helped her mood.
  • Rain of Arrows: Uses the Bow of Wisdom and Arrow of Truth to destroy the Book, firing the arrow over a waterfall to magically hit it.
  • Refusal of the Call: Takes half the first season and chats with both Michael Scot and Toledo to convince her to do her duty.
  • Screw Destiny: Really doesn't want to be a hero, and decides to take a neutral stand in the last episode of the first season which ultimately works in her favour.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Told both Michael and Toledo where to stick it.
  • Stock Superpowers:
  • What the Hell, Hero?: When she terrifies Becky by using her magic to revive a dead crow, sealing Bruno into a rock, framing Kyle for stealing the Arrow of Truth, torturing Wolfgang's spirit, trying to resurrect her mum, disintegrating Nathaniel. Yeah, Marnie does quite a lot of bad things in the second season, but has a Heel–Face Turn and becomes The Atoner.
  • When She Smiles
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: According to the Storyteller and Michael Scot.

Michael Scot

The Great Wizard of Scotland, Michael Scot is an 1100-year old mathematician, scientist, alchemist and wizard who created the Book of Forbidden Knowledge. His pride and arrogance led to turning his four students into toys after they stole the Book, and he follows a prophecy that one day a Chosen One will find the Book.
  • Alchemy Is Magic
  • Ambition Is Evil: His desire to create life using the Book's magic led to the Shoebox Zoo stealing the book.
  • The Chooser of The One: As decided by the prophecy he creates.
  • Grumpy Bear: More moody than Marnie.
  • Historical-Domain Character: He is based on a historical mathematician of the same name.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Develops one of these in the first season. Apparently immortality does not come with immunity to illness.
  • Jerk Ass With A Heart Of Gold: Grouchy and blunt most of the time, but has a softer side to him, sharing his grief over Marnie's mother dying.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: Michael places the Shoebox Zoo in a number of junk shops during his search for the Chosen One. Marnie finds them in a junk shop in Edinburgh, that mysteriously disappears after Michael gives them to her. It is later revealed that Marnie's mother Rosemary found them in a similar shop in Denver, Colorado when she was eleven. Her concerned mother took them back to the shop when Rosemary became a bit obsessed with them. Marnie later returns the Shoebox Zoo herself to the Denver store so other people can help them.
  • Magic Staff: A long black one. Despite being the most skilled magician in the series, he is the only character who uses a staff.
  • The Mentor: Very much so. He is Marnie's mentor, but also has a beard, and wears a hooded cloak. Later dies, and then comes back as a ghost.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Killed by Toledo in the second season.
  • My Greatest Failure: The creation of Toledo, and being unable to save Rosemary from her cancer.
  • Pride: Michael's Fatal Flaw. His pride and desire to master alchemy, magic, and science nearly corrupted him, to the point that both his students and servant McTaggart stole the Book to prevent it from destroying him. Michael then punished them all by turning his students into toys, and imprisoning McTaggart in his dungeon for eleven years then making him immortal until the book was found. It's only centuries later does he become The Atoner.
  • Really Eleven-Hundred Years Old
  • Spell Book: The Book of Forbidden Knowledge, which contains all of his alchemical research but also great dark magic.
  • Wizard Classic: Wears robes, has a beard, carries a magic staff, lives alone, associated with wisdom.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Over eleven-hundred years.

William McTaggart

Michael's manservant. Eleven-hundred years ago, he stole the Book of Forbidden Knowledge from his master to protect him from its evil, and shortly after it disappeared. As punishment, he was made immortal until the Book was found. By the time of the series' beginning, McTaggart works as a mole for Michael, acting as a servant for Toledo.

Ross McBride

Marnie's father. Ross works as a librarian at Edinburgh University Library, and struggles to care for Marnie after the loss of his wife. He remains unaware of the magical goings on around Marnie, believing her strange behaviour is due to her age or grief.
  • Adults Are Useless: For the most part, Ross is oblivious to Marnie's quest and the Shoebox Zoo, although he does note some oddities like meeting Michael several times, and even follows Marnie into her magic locker but is frozen in time by Toledo, yet in the second season he seems to have completely forgotten that experience. He helps Marnie with her grief in the second season.
  • Always with You: Tells Marnie that her dead mother is always with them in a very moving scene.
    Marnie: You said that you'd do anything to bring Mom back. Did you mean it?
    Ross: No, sweetheart. I didn't mean it. Mum's gone. She can't come back. No matter how much we want her to. But she's here (pointing to his heart). Right here. Forever.
  • Bookworm: Really loves his books.
  • Good Parents: Ross is a very good father despite being a recently made widow, supports Marnie through-and-through, and even comes to rescue her when she stands at the edge of a waterfall having crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Identical Grandson: Resembles his ancestor Angus McBride, though that maybe because they are played by the same actor Jason Connery. Angus found the Book of Forbidden Knowledge and gave it to Chief Stonebear of the Lakota people as a gift to marry Stonebear's daughter.
  • Papa Wolf: Cares for Marnie deeply.
  • Romancing the Widow: The Toledo-possessed Aurora tries to seduce Ross, and even claims to Marnie that they are lovers, to which Ross is shocked by and denies.

Kyle Stone

Marnie's best friend from America, Kyle quickly becomes her Secret Keeper and ally in the second season. Pragmatic and honest, Kyle comes from a long line of magical Native Americans but is reluctant to embrace his magical inheritance.

Nathaniel Stone

Kyle's grandfather. He is the Medicine Man of the Lakota people, and a descendant of Chief Stonebear. Nathaniel acts as a guide for Marnie in place of Michael, but advises her through words rather than action. Knows where the Book of Forbidden Knowledge is hidden, and believes it should remain hidden.
  • Badass Grandpa: A powerful magic user in his own right, able to keep the Book's dark magic at bay.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Very proud of his ancestry flaws and all, and carries their old tools in his medicine bundle.
  • Cool Old Guy: Pretty badass and very wise.
  • Fire of Comfort: Hangs around a spiritual campfire most of the time.
  • Magical Native American: The Medicine Man who can talk to spirits.
  • Nice Hat: Wears a cowboy hat.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Much more patient and calm than Michael.
  • Spirit Advisor: Is the medicine man of the Lakota tribe, and acts as a source of wisdom for Marnie and Kyle.
  • The Watcher: Doubles as a Mysterious Watcher.
  • Xanatos Gambit: He and his ancestors all knew where the Book was hidden, and Nathaniel by doing nothing that the evil forces who sought it out would be defeated, and it would never have to be found. However, as Marnie turns increasingly evil herself, Nathaniel decides to destroy the Book, only to act too late. He is disintegrated by Marnie, but gets better.
  • You Are Too Late: Tries to destroy the Book, but is confronted by Marnie and removed from the picture. He resolves to help do what he should have done years ago.

    The Shoebox Zoo 
The titular characters of the series. The Shoebox Zoo were the four students of Michael Scot, who stole the Book of Forbidden Knowledge to prevent it from corrupting their master, and they ultimately lost it. As revenge, Michael transformed them into living toys and placed in a form of sleep until the prophesized Chosen One awakens them. Only when the Book is found can they become human again.

Tropes shared by the characters include:

  • Animal Stereotypes: To an extent, the Zoo members match their animal counterparts - Edwin considers himself a noble being like an eagle if not pompous, Bruno is a friendly bear, Ailsa has a snake's cynical and cunning nature, and Wolfgang is lone wolf incarnate. Hunter exhibits the classic traits of a spirited but stubborn horse, though he is actually a horse spirit.
  • The Atoner: The four wish to become human again, but first have to admit they stole the Book.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Transformed into toys and placed in a shoebox in a state of slumber for eleven-hundred years until a Chosen One awakens them with their own magic. It is implied they were actually self-aware but could not move, knowing the Earth is not flat, knew wars and plagues had occurred, and even knew Marnie's mother as a child.
  • Fish out of Water: Edwin, Bruno, and Ailsa in particular. Usually played for laughs.
  • Funny Animal
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Give up their only chance to become human, by destroying the Book to save the world.
  • Immortal Hero: Subverted. The Shoebox Zoo have been alive for centuries, do not age, but aren't invulnerable to harm, or even death.
  • Living Toy: Edwin, Bruno, Ailsa, and Wolfgang were all once human. Hunter is actually a spirit who can inhabit the form of a wooden dancing stick shaped like a horse.
  • Really 700 Years Old
  • Sealed Good In A Shoebox: Placed in an old shoebox by Michael is a state of suspended but self-aware animation til the Chosen One awakens them.

Edwin de Wyntor

Self-proclaimed leader and spokesperson of the Shoebox Zoo, Edwin is a pompous metal eagle dressed as a knight. A bit of an Upper-Class Twit bursting with British Stuffiness, Edwin is a Glory Seeker and wants to be the first person to touch the Book of Forbidden Knowledge.
  • Acrophobic Bird: A more literal case. Edwin learns how to fly in the second season, and his ego takes another few leaps.
  • British Stuffiness: Unabashedly pompous, snobbish, and a very stuckup person. He mellows out over time though.
  • Butt Monkey: Oh, definitely. Edwin is often the butt of other character's jokes, performs a prat fall once per episode, and usually the first to face Marnie's temper.
  • Cowardly Lion: Easily frightened but brave at heart.
  • Fish out of Water: More so than the other toys.
  • Glory Seeker: Believes glory is the key to earning redemption and gaining his humanity back, and wants to be the first person to touch the Book in eleven-hundred years. Toledo exploits this, briefly hypnotising Edwin into giving into temptation and opening the Book, releasing its dark magic.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Easily offended by just about everything Marnie says about him, his friends, or their past. Even if she pronounces something incorrectly or says a sentence in the wrong way.
  • In-Series Nickname: Marnie calls him "Eddie the Eagle", named after the famous British skier Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards.
  • It's All About Me: Most definitely, always wants to be the centre of attention, a complete pompous windbag, and has more hot air than a balloon.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Acts like a real jerk at times, but is loyal and caring beneath the pompous exterior.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Dressed like one, thinks he is one, doesn't really act like one.
  • Large Ham: The late Rik Mayall really hams it up.
  • Pride: His Fatal Flaw.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to the Blue Oni of the other Shoebox Zoo members.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Understatement.
  • Undying Loyalty: To his comrades.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Very proud, often looking down his beak at others, and speaks in a posh dialect most of the time. Rik Mayall described him as a "pompous git" in a behind-the-scenes look of the show.


A friendly bear made of stone, Bruno is The Heart of the group. Kind-hearted, and having the upmost faith in Marnie, Bruno may not be the brightest bear in the box, but he certainly very loyal.
  • Badass Adorable: Comes to Marnie's aid when Toledo disguises himself as a female psychiatrist to drain her powers, biting his hand to wound him, since Toledo can't touch the toys.
  • Beary Friendly: The nicest member of the group.
  • Bears are Bad News: Averted with him, but he is terrified of a real grizzly, a teddy bear, and a hippopotamus statue.
  • The Big Guy: The tallest and strongest of the group, though the latter doesn't count for much since he is a toy.
  • The Ditz: Enjoys life to the fullest, very fun-loving, but the brightest of the bunch. He doesn't even know that the Earth is round, and has trouble explaining or understanding things.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Criticizes Marnie when she uses her powers to scare Becky by resurrecting a dead bird, saying he'd rather remain a toy than become human via dark magic. Marnie then punishes Bruno by fusing him to a rock and abandoning him. He gets better.
  • Friend to All Children
  • Gentle Giant: Very warm and gentle despite being a bear.
  • The Heart / Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Very innocent and child-like, loyal to his friends, and the only one who firmly believes in doing the right thing. The only bad thing he has technically done was stealing the Book from Michael, though it was with good intentions and he has deep guilt for doing it.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: Imprisoned in a rock by Marnie, though she later frees him.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Marnie, believing she can accomplish anything, and is the first to always support her.


The sole woman of the group, Ailsa is a cynical golden adder with a distrustful nature about her. The oldest of the group, Ailsa is the most desperate to become human again and is more willing to do questionable things to get what she wants.
  • Anti-Hero: Aside from Wolfgang, Ailsa is willing to do more underhanded, questionable things to regain her humanity, and more shrewd and blunt than the other protagonists.
  • Brutal Honesty: Usually is, particularly on how she feels and whom she trusts.
  • The Chick: The singular female member of the Zoo.
  • The Cynic: It is never explained why is such a cynic, but has little faith in Marnie at the start of the series, though she gains a lot of confidence in her.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The most blatant example in the series.
  • Green Eyes: Has glowing green eyes.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Ailsa comes up with the idea that Marnie should user her mother's old necklace to talk to her ghost. The evil Marnie takes that idea, and plans to resurrect her mother all together.
  • Screw Destiny: Ailsa tries to convince Edwin, Bruno, and Wolfgang that saving the world is not worth it if their one chance to be human again is lost. Thankfully, Hunter comes over and talks some sense into the group, mostly through flattery and guilt tripping.
  • Smug Snake: Has her moments.
  • Sour Supporter: Not particularly fond of Marnie's bad attitude, and despite Ailsa's own moody and snappy personality, she puts her trust in Marnie and compliments on her tenacity.
  • Sssssnake Talk: But, of coursssse.

Wolfang Scot

A blue-and-gold painted wooden wolf, Wolfgang is a deceptive character with a shady past and even shadier motives. Has long-standing hatred towards Michael, and eventually acts as a mole for Toledo just to spite him and Marnie. Terrified of being set alight, likes the taste of butter, and hates being wood, believing everything tests of sawdust.
  • Anti-Hero: At first due to his contempt towards Michael and choosing Marnie over him as his chosen one. He mellows out towards the end of the first season and becomes a straight out hero.
  • Back for the Finale: Resurrected by Marnie's magic to destroy the Book.
  • Badass Beard: Has pointed curving facial fur and a goattee. Also had one as a human.
  • Character Development: Starts off as a deceptive and resentful wolf, but becomes a loyal and supportive guy after The Reveal happens.
  • Darkand Troubled Past: Wolfgang is Michael's son and grew to hate him when Michael denied his rightful heritage in favour of his own ambition and pride, even when he became a man. Wolfgang came to spite Michael, stealing the Book, and kicking off the whole series. Michael hides self-loathing for his own pride, but still damns his son as a traitor until Marnie makes them discuss their issues face-to-face.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Envious that Michael chose Marnie as his Chosen One. Makes sense when their relationship is brought into context. Michael denied Wolfgang his inheritance in favour of his own ambition, turning Wolfgang against him.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Jumps from Marnie to Toledo then back and forth for the rest of the first season.
  • Howling to the Night: Does this a couple of times.
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Thinks everything tastes like sawdust.
  • Killed Off for Real: Chucked into a fireplace by Toledo for betraying him. Comes back as a ghost, and then resurrected by Marnie in the finale.
  • The Mole: Acts as this for Toledo to spite Michael for choosing Marnie as his chosen one.
  • Noble Wolf: Becomes this.
  • The Power of Trust: Quite distrustful of Marnie, but due his own past of mistrust and denial. Eventually learns to trust her after getting over his emotional baggage.
  • The Reveal: Wolfgang is Michael's son, and his resentment towards his father for denying him his acceptance and inheritance led to the events of the whole series.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Marnie after The Reveal
  • Villainous Friendship: With Toledo, who calls him his "little wolfy".
  • Why Did It Have To Be Fire


A Native American spirit who can materialise as a horse-shaped dancing stick. Introduced in the second season. He is a friend to Kyle and Nathaniel, wild and excitable, but also honest and one for justice. Able to shapeshift into an actual horse.
  • Brutal Honesty: Perhaps not as sharp-tongued as Ailsa, but still very honest about a situation or character's actions/motives.
  • Cool Horse: As both a toy and as a real one.
  • Cowboy: Has some traits, and challenges Edwin to master him like a mechanical bull. Hilarity ensues.
  • Heroic Spirit: Easily excited by adventure and saving the world.
  • Magical Native American: A Native American spirit who served Nathaniel's ancestors among others.
  • Rousing Speech: Encourages the Shoebox Zoo to help save the world rather than screw it over to become human again.
  • Running Gag: Hunter always introduces himself via his many titles.
    Hunter: I am Sinquaki, Spirit of the Horse Dance, son of Wacangli, war horse of Chief Inkpaduta, pupil of Keeper of Many Secrets, loyal servant of Wankantaka, and the guy who just spilt red wine all over your table. I'm sorry. But you can call me Hunter.
  • Sixth Ranger: Becomes an unofficial member of the Zoo.
  • Spirit Advisor: Acts like one to Kyle.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Can transform back and forth into an actual horse.


Toledo the Shapeshifter

The series' central antagonist. A mysterious, evil shapeshifter with a passion for white-coloured clothes and Spanish culture, Juan Roberto Montoya de Toledo is as old as Michael and seeks to obtain the Book to cover the world in eternal darkness and prove his superiority to the wizard. During the first half of season one, he disguises himself as an Evil Brit student named John Roberts.

Los Contrarios

The evil twins of the Shoebox Zoo created by Toledo to spite Michael's own students. Dark, blind and driven by evil thoughts, they spend most of their time growing in crystalline eggs until awakened by the opening of the Book. Their time on screen is short.

Aurora Dexter / The Dawn Queen

An television medium from Valentine, Nebraska, who communicates with the dead for viewers, but is considered a Phony Psychic. Mother of Marnie's childhood rival Becky. She shares the same birthday as Marnie, and is actually a prophesized Dark Messiah who will destroy the world by gaining the Book of Forbidden Knowledge and become the Dawn Queen. Toledo possesses her to fulfil this prophecy.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Her desire to escape her cheap TV show and get a bigger, better one leads to make a deal with Toledo.
  • Bigger Bad: Built up to be this, and eventually becomes this trope when the Dawn Queen persona takes over Aurora, demoting Toledo to the role of The Dragon.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The Dawn Queen certainly is this.
  • Dark Messiah: Destined to find the Book and use its darkness to destroy the world.
  • Fiery Redhead
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Gains glowing white eyes when she becomes the Dawn Queen.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Aurora likes collecting charms.
  • One-Episode Wonder: Aurora's second show lasts one episode before being canned.
  • Phony Psychic: Believed to be, but this changes when she makes brief contact with Wolfgang's ghost.
  • Psychic Powers: Has clairvoyant powers and can speak to ghosts. Her powers are taken Up to Eleven when she becomes the Dawn Queen.
  • Take Over the World: By corrupting everyone who watches her television show using the Book's black magic.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Poor Aurora is completely innocent in the whole evil department. She is possessed by Toledo after signing a magical contract that she thought was a deal to get onto a new TV channel, and then is turned into a monster, corrupted by the evil influence of the Dawn Queen persona. She gets better.
  • Woman in White: While possessed by Toledo she wears white.

    Supporting Characters 

The Storyteller

The series' Narrator. Does what is expected of a narrator, but brings a sense of wonder to his exposition.

Rosemary McBride

Marnie's late mother. Her death led to Ross taking Marnie to Scotland. She has quite the history with the Shoebox Zoo.
  • Break the Cutie: As a child, she could not awaken the toys, and then her mother secretly returned them to Michael.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Was very fond of the toys even though she could not awaken them.
  • Hero of Another Story: Could have been the hero thirty years before Marnie's birth if she had the magic to awaken the toys.
    • Rosemary, or a previous incarnation of her, was seen crafting the fake Book and tossing the real one into the sea.
  • Missing Mom: Her death hits Marnie pretty hard.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Rosemary materialises as a ghost, usually in a cloak, and gives cryptic advice to Marnie. Returns in the first season's finale, revealing the Book's forgery and instructs Marnie to remove a page from it for future events.
  • The Pollyanna: Described as being very happy and optimistic.
  • Posthumous Character: Died of cancer less than a year before the show's beginning.
  • Reincarnation: Somewhat implied. Rosemary appears in Marnie's dream flashbacks 1100 years ago, implying she might have been reincarnated in her present day life, and knew well ahead what was going to happen. It is never really explained.
  • The Unchosen One: For a time, Michael believed she might have been the Chosen One, but learnt she could not awaken the Shoebox Zoo. This broke Rosemary's heart.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Created a replica of the Book to destroy Toledo, and send Marnie to find the real world.