Elves have Pointy Ears and live for a very long time out in the magical forest. Dwarves live underground, dig up jewels, and are short and like to grow long beards. Merpeople live underwater, have sea-creature features, and sing. And Trolls...
Err? Well, they're always big, ugly, brutal, and stupid, right? Except when they're small, Ugly Cute and friendly.
Should they be giants with scaly green skin that rapidly heal from any injury except fire or acid? Or something that's literally made of rock and gets smarter when it's in the cold? Or are they
grey-skinned aliens that can use computers and wear glasses? Or perhaps something that guards bridges from errant goats?
All right, let's admit it. Trolls are diverse. It's not even a matter of everyone wanting them to be different; there are so many clashing ideas of trolls in mythology itself that it's hard to decide what they are. So, really, you can't blame modern creators for putting their own spin on trolls. If there is any consistency, it is that the less cute the troll, the meaner the troll, but even that tends to be subverted.
Quite a few depictions of Trolls have them as being vulnerable to fire. Some fictional interpretations give them ridiculously fast regenerative powers, such that they can heal themselves even as you're cutting them down making them frighteningly invincible. In these interpretations, fire is the only way to prevent their injuries from healing and thus the only way to defeat them. Others have them harmed or petrified by sunlight.
Many of the differences stem from language barriers. When translating a myth from another culture, it was common habit for a previously unknown creature to be stamped as a troll. The names Ogre, Giant, and Troll were also interchangeable for many storytellers, resulting in further confusion.
Even within Scandinavian folklore trolls are extremely diverse, and range from magical mischievous goblins to huge dumb giants who roamed the forest and could sniff out a Christian man's blood. Part of this comes from the isolated nature of Scandinavian communities; localized versions of monsters destroying crops and eating your porridge appeared. The word troll in Norse languages, similar to trolleri/trylleri which means magic, is basically a blanket term for any creature that's strange, unusual, poorly understood, seemingly supernatural or vaguely inhuman, similar to the Japanese concept of youkai.
Has nothing to do with trolling (which is actually named after a method of bait-fishing), exceptwhen it does.
See Our Orcs Are Different, Our Goblins Are Different, Our Giants Are Bigger, and Our Ogres Are Hungrier.
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Anime and Manga
The trolls from the Berserk manga series are nasty, nasty predatory monsters straight out of the Qliphoth, a nightmare realm connected to the astral world, that have taken to carrying women off from villages for breeding purposes. Like many of Kentaro Miura's monsters, Berserk's trolls are Mix-and-Match Critters, and in their case look like a hairy cross between a rat, a monkey and a pig.
Trolls in Slayers (likely based on the ones in Dungeons & Dragons) are rather primal creatures, around twice the height of the average human and come in a large array of colors. They posses an incredible Healing Factor that allows them to recover lost limbs in a matter of seconds. Some people are capable of making deals with them, but most avoid them; a rather good idea, seeing as they go in a ravenous frenzy of pillaging and destruction the second Shabranigdu is unleashed into the world, which happens quite often, it would seem.
One of the friendlier youkai that appears in Dororo is called a troll, at least in the English version. Here it's a green-skinned humanoid with a swollen head that points the way to buried treasure.
Would you believe that "Totoro", in My Neighbor Totoro, is actually a mispronunciation of troll? Totoro is the leader of a family of friendly forest monsters, and he looks like a big, furry cat-owl-rabbit thing.
Gold Digger Trolls are green-skinned tall and strong humanoids who heal fast and grow larger and stronger with age. Young ones of both sexes are often quite attractive. They've got something of a reputation as being less civilized, but that's largely because of prolonged wars with the elves that wrecked a lot of their old civilization; there are plenty of smart trolls including martial artists and archmages and as a species they come off no worse than the other humanoids. They have a grudge against elves, but that goes both ways and isn't universal. There's some evidence trolls and elves are even distant relatives.
Poison Elves trolls are like taller, uglier elves with horns and the ability to reproduce by bleeding. In the case of Dark Trolls they are also 15 feet tall. They were created to destroy all life. Elves were made from trolls with the evil burned off by mystic flames to make a counter force.
Sojourn features Trolls who look more than a little like the Uruk-Hai from the Lord of the Rings films, being human-height but bulky, green- or brown-skinned, with glowing green eyes and often with massive horns. They were first an Always Chaotic Evil mook army, and eventually became a Proud Warrior Race who were more attuned to nature than humans.
At least two different kinds of trolls have appeared in the Marvel Universe. The first are Asgardian trolls, exemplified by Thor-villains Ullik and Geirrodur. Asgardian trolls very much resemble the Scandinavian trolls mentioned below, but are superhumanly strong - Ulik is on par with Thor, for example. The second kind were a group of myriad-seeming humanoid creatures of various colors who, among other things, hunted a young mutant for his ability to transmute elements; this group has had two story appearances to date spanning four comics.
A third "troll" type exists, but he is an alien, not a mythical creature. Pip Gofern (aka Pip the Troll) is minor royalty of the Laxadazian race, and more resembles a short, hornless, potbellied satyr than a troll - including in his appetites.
One-time Thunderbolts member Troll is half-Asgardian, half-Asgardian troll, and looks like a teenage human girl with Wild Hair.
The trolls of Lanfeust are 7-8 feet tall fur-covered humanoids that live in their own villages. They eat anything that comes their way, can survive just about anything you throw at them, and smash first, ask questions very rarely.
In Golden AgeCaptain Marvel Jr. comics, trolls were a race of cute, tiny magical people. The guys were just funny-looking, but the girl, Ny-O, was very pretty, albeit having a head the size of a bobble-head doll relative to her body.
Finnish comic book Ontot Kukkulat ("Hollow Hills") features trolls who used to be Neanderthals until their Eldritch Abomination god transformed them to save them as a species. They are seven-foot tall humanoids with jet-black skin, wild mane and wolf-like jaws and claws. They can use illusions to appear like humans or anything else they want, or even turn invisible, but any reflection or shadow reveals their true form. They are practically immortal unless killed, in which case they dissolve into crude oil ("black blood of Mother Earth"). They have a fairly civilized society in danger of being wiped out by modern humanity, but they have fair helpings of Blue and Orange Morality, for example being obliged to ritually mutilate and eat all humans who end up in their underground homes.
At the climax of the graphic novel Foiled, this is revealed to be Avery's true form.
In Soria Moria Castle, they have three, or six, or nine heads, own swords and magic potions because the swords are too heavy for anyone to lift without the potion, and live in castles with no one in the lands about except the princesses they hold captive.
Like Harry Potter, in Alexandra Quick, Trolls are are none too possessed of smarts, making them ideal for dull, monotonous work. Hence Wizarding America employs them in tollbooths for the Automagicka.
In Under The Northern Lights, Tarandroland is home to trolls called Stalu (after a Sami myth in real life). They are huge, mishapen cervines who live deep in forests and use forest lakes for gardens. They are infamous for eating reindeer. They are actually moose, driven to hiding after the genocidal efforts of the reindeer. While they might be hostile in self-defense, they most certainly don't eat people.
A Future of Friendship, A History of Hate: The second challenge Twilight has to pass in order to rescue her friends from Ruinate is a bridge guarded by Craggle, a troll made out of rock — specifically, a mineral that blocks magic (keeping her from just teleporting past him). He's rather dimwitted, but also seems to have an honor code, as he not only gives her a fair chance to get past him, but when she saves him falling to his death upon his defeat, he not only lets her pass, but saves her from a pack of shalehounds.
Films — Animated
A Troll in Central Park had a friendly troll who was a tiny with big ears, a tail that ends in a tuft of fur, and a literal "Green Thumb" that could make plants grow. He's the only troll that looked and acted like this in the movie though, and all the other trolls are ugly human-sized flower-hating monsters with warts, large thick tails, and a thumb that turns objects into stone.
In the Norwegian dub of Shrek, the word "ogre" is replaced with the word "troll". Apart from the fact that he is green and does not have a tail, Shrek looks like the Scandinavian idea of a troll, anyway.
In the fourth movie, a troll is seen briefly, being mistaken for Shrek. They're slightly taller and bulkier than ogres. Or at least, that particular one was anyway.
This is interesting because the Tie-In video games had already brought in Trolls as a type of enemy. Of course, they looked completely different.
In the Swedish dub (which is almost the same language), Shrek is a "swamp troll".
The trolls in Frozen are small, have rock bodies, and are very friendly to people going as far as to use their magic to help them.
Films — Live-Action
The troll in the film Troll is a small, ugly, hairy creature that used to be an elf. He turns other people into other mythological creatures
The trolls in the infamous Troll 2 aren't trolls at all, but goblins. There are no trolls whatsoever in the movie, and it has nothing to do with the original.
As if to prove a point or something, there are two different films called Troll 3 and a Troll 4, and not a one of the sequels has anything to do with the original Troll film. Truly, All Trolls are different.
Trolls in Willow are smelly, vicious apelike brutes who hate Nelwyns.
In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, creatures of every shape and size are seen at the Troll Market. At least some of them aren't trolls, but the one creature explicitly identified as a troll was spindly-limbed and hairless, casting a glamour to make her look like an old human woman. She also eats cats and is terrified of canaries.
In Ernest Scared Stupid, Ernest faces off against a troll named Trantor who his ancestor Phineas Worrell sealed under a great oak tree long ago. Trantor was big and ugly and liked to go after children, who he turned into little wooden dolls which gave him his power and who could use the voice of anyone he turned into a doll. He could only be stopped by "the heart of a child and a mother's care," which turned out to be unconditional love and... milk.
The Norwegian film The Troll Hunter shows off this trope like a peacock displaying his feathers. Let's see, you've got a very large three-headed forest troll, a big aquatic brutish troll that lives under a bridge and has a taste for small woolly hoofed mammals, a whole pack of large furry cave trolls, and a colossal mountain troll who looks like what would happen if Clover was romantically involved with Gaius. All of them react badly to sunlight (or, more specifically, UV radiation) and can smell Christians.
The troll in Cat's Eye is a vicious, small creature who emerges out of children's bedroom walls to kill them by stealing their breath. While intelligent, it can't talk, but does have humanlike clothing and a small knife for defense.
The Moomins are among the best-known friendly trolls. Moomintrolls are fuzzy and rather resemble tiny hippos.
They occasionally interact with their ancestors, who live behind the stove, which are just called trolls. They seem to be smaller, darker, hairier and very feral.
There seems to be different continuities, since this troper remembers an old Moomins story where they discover their mummified ancestors, who are very tall, stretched versions of the standards Moomins, and naturally come to life during the story.
Trolls in Terry Pratchett's Discworld are made of rock, with silicon brains and diamond teeth. This helps explain their natural rivalry with dwarfs: if you're a race made up entirely of miners, and you see a nice sleepy rock with diamonds in it, you're going to take a swing, right?
Terry Pratchett actually uses the silicon brains to explain the "stone in sunlight" element listed above: as the temperature rises, a troll's brain can't work so well, so they practically go comatose in daylight in some regions. The opposite is also true in that trolls get smarter in cold weather; this is taken to its natural conclusion when the troll Detritus nearly comes up with a Grand Unified Theory when stuck in a magic meat locker.
Trolls also act as a version of computer-driven robots - they can only properly count in binary, have thought processes running on silicon brain-chips, and can overheat, causing them to shut down.
The book Thud! introduced Mr. Shine. Other trolls say of him, "Mr Shine, him diamond," which is true; Mr. Shine is a rare troll composed entirely of diamond. Since diamond trolls can regulate their body temperature by reflecting heat, Mr. Shine's brain works far better than regular trolls', even in high temperatures. As a diamond troll, Mr. Shine is the rightful king of the trolls, but isn't interested in ruling; rather he invests his energies into his efforts to bring about peace between trolls and dwarfs.
Other gemstone trolls also exist, and their composition may likewise entail high status among their kind. In Snuff, the viceroy of Mr. Shine, now the new Diamond King, is of black ruby.
There's also the Gargoyles, which seem to be some sort of city-adapted troll, though a variant that's recently adapted to eat organic food such as pigeons. Earlier generations of gargoyles had to live off what they could filter-feed from the water in the gutters, which is why they'd spout water.
Neil Gaiman's short story Troll Bridge features a troll with a nose keen enough to "smell the dreams you dreamed before you were born". And it eats a person's life and takes their place, and leaving them, in exchange, to take the place of the troll.
In Edith Pattou's North Child, based on a Scandinavian fairy tale, trolls are tall, beautiful humanoids with ridged white skin and the ability to use magic, who live in the North Pole.
In Robert Lynn Aspirin's "Myth Adventures" series, the male inhabitants of the dimension Trollia are trolls. The females are trollops. While the male trolls fit the big and ugly (but not the stupid) stereotype, trollops are gorgeous.
Trolls in Holly Black's Modern Tales of Faerie are slightly larger and much uglier than most faeries, with greenish skin, protruding teeth, and black-and-gold eyes. They turn to stone in sunlight, but will recover when no longer exposed. Troll blood breeds true even when mixed with human. Ravus, the one major character who's a troll, is a little intimidating but a genuinely good guy, although it's indicated in other books that this isn't true of all trolls.
Trolls in The Spiderwick Chronicles are massive, vicious, hideous swamp-dwelling monsters. Arthur Spiderwick himself has got... a bit of a beef with them.
The trolls who appear in Jan Brett's picture books are little furry people with onion-shaped heads and long, lion-like tails. They're mischievous but nice guys.
Trolls in Jim Butcher's Dresdenverse are apparently haggish, mostly stupid creatures that haunt bridges in dark corners and apparently have dominion over "naughty children" according to the prequel short story Restoration of Faith. Also, when a troll is mortally wounded, its skin collapses and a veritable army of ant-sized trolls spill out, which then apparently need quite some time to grow up back into a full-sized troll and the majority of which will be killed off by other natural and supernatural predators, keeping the troll population from growing too much.
Dresdenverse plays this trope perfectly, as the Winter Fae "trolls" are much more like the traditional D&D trolls. However, their intelligence is greater and they are accomplished smiths.
The Winter Fae trolls are also high-ranking enforcers of the Unseelie Court. Their opposite numbers in the Summer Court (literally; among their main jobs are to counter one another in the event of a fight) are gruffs, who work in threes.
Trolls in Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series are mindless subterranean predators with retractable talons, venomous tusks, dreadlocks, and horns. And they are big.
Trolls in Teresa Edgerton's Goblin Moon and The Gnome's Engine are a crossbred or cursed offshoot of humanity, who resemble humans but sport bizarre, often bestial deformities. Their disfigurements are unique to each individual, which means that some can pass for human if they wear the right concealing clothes; it also means they hate their own looks. Trolls are carnivores, sometimes cannibals, and are fond of human flesh, yet they're superficially very cultured and educated (particularly in black magic). Male trolls believe it's good for their health if they trick a human maiden into marriage, then drink some of her blood each night; this belief, which may just be a troll superstition, becomes a major plot point in the novels.
In Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls, the eponymous creatures are intelligent, massive, hairy, matriarchal people. They are often at war with their viking neighbors to the south, but somehow seem to be on good terms with them regardless. Also, for no particularly sensible reason, human/troll hybrids are Voluntary Shapeshifters.
They have the ability to change their form because they are caught between two worlds and two races; it appears all hybrids have this ability, as the half-kelpy in the sequel displays it as well.
In One King's Way, second volume of The Hammer and the Cross trilogy by Harry Harrison, a troll or "marbendill" is a large intelligent humanoid that sometimes feeds on human flesh, lurks in the water to pull unwary boaters under, but otherwise is rather likeable, actually. No, really. Distinguished from humans by, among other things, a much lower sex drive; human behavior in that regard rather amuses them.
The trolls in Rienne Poortvliet's Gnome books are nasty, ugly, foul, cruel — every feature every bad troll ever had lumped into one bloated hairy little monster. And there is a subspecies, the Snotgurdle, who is worse.
By contrast, in the animated series, the trolls are all of this but more like bullies than outright villains. David the Gnome actually rescued one of their children once. (Of course, the baby troll in question was abandoned by his mother and there were other... complexities, we'll say. But it's enough to note that the Gnomes were all for saving him anyway.)
Trolls in the Harry Potteruniverse are strong, large, and not too possessed of smarts. There's nothing really unique about them. The first troll we meet is depicted like a wild animal let loose, but we later meet trolls who are somewhat smarter (at least in that they can be hired as thugs). Apparently, a rather optimistic wizard once tried to teach trolls ballet. It didn't end well for him.
Trolls in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are pretty much the same in appearance, except they turn to stone when they're caught in sunlight. Once again, the first trolls we meet are just big bullies who threaten to eat our heroes, but later on they are full-fledged fearsome monsters. Sauron uses them as shock troops.
It's also implied that they are twisted copies of Ents in the same way as Orcs are of Elves, though whether this is biological or just metaphorical is unknown.
Treebeard says that the trolls were an imitation of ents, an attempt to create creatures of similar strength and durability, though they are much weaker than the originals.
It should be noted that trolls come in a few varieties, including Cave-trolls, and Stone-trolls such as Bert, Tom and Bill. There are also the Olog-hai, stronger and smarter trolls created by Sauron, that don't turn to stone in the sun. There are also references to two-headed trolls, as well as 'troll-men' at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, though it may just be a metaphor for ugly guys.
A few trolls appear in Brian Froud's books, such as Faeries. He mentions that the friendly, furry species of troll is sometimes called a "Trow" (the Shetland word for trolls) - right after explaining that human names for the various kinds of Faery creatures are arbitrary. Indeed, there doesn't seem to be a set "rule" for what creature gets to be called a troll or a goblin or so on.
Trolls in David Eddings's Elenium and Tamuli series are semi-intelligent, simian creatures who can't die of natural causes. They (and their gods) become very important in the Tamuli.
It's also interesting to note that it's later revealed that trolls and humans are related species, both evolving from creatures called Dawn Men, making them sort of analogous to Neanderthals.
Neanderthals ten feet tall with eternal youth, arrow-proof skin, fur, giant fangs and jaws strong enough to crack a skull, mouths large enough to bite a human head off, and arms long enough to knuckle-walk. So, maybe not exactly like Neanderthals. Maybe a much, much earlier hominid like Gigantopithecus, with magical overtones.
Should be noted that "Troll" is what the ersatz Vikings in the books call them. Their name for themselves is Qanuc
In Terry Brooks' Shannara books there are several different sub-species of trolls. Rock Trolls live in the deep northland mountains and are shown to be about 8 feet tall with thick black bark-like skin. While they work for the villain in the first book they are not depicted as evil and help the humans, dwarfs, and especially the elves in the latter books. They are a Proud Warrior Race, shown as incredibly loyal and brave, of normal intelligence, and have a good mind for battle strategy. In the 3rd book there is a race of creatures related to trolls, Mwellrets, who live in the northeast swamps. They are normally large bipedal reptilians but can change their shape rather easily. They are sinister, greedy, and crafty and are seen as godlike overlords by the feral gnomes that serve them. The remaining two that exist (the Forest and River Trolls) have little information given about them. Terry must have decided that trolls were too varied to make just one race.
Given their backstory of being horrifically mutated humans, it makes sense that there would be multiple kinds.
Trolls in John Ringo's Council Wars series are Elves that have been warped and Changed into brutish warriors, much as humans have been Changed into Orcs (His Elves are genetically engineered Super Soldiers).
Tanngnost in Brom's The Child Thief resembles a huge satyr and is apparently the Only Sane Man in Avalon. Although not called a troll, the short, squat, neanderthallic Moss Man who raises Peter and plays the role of Sink-or-Swim Mentor also fits.
In Johanna Sinisalo's Not Before Sundown trolls are a scientifically acknowledged class of mammal that live in the northern forests and tundras. They're so reclusive that they were thought to be legend until somebody found a real corpse. They're about human-sized, bipedal, combine feline and primate traits, and have sleek, black fur and whip-like tails. As it turns out during the story, their pheromones are strong enough to cause obsessive love, or even sexual attraction in humans in some circumstances. They're also sentient, and have just recently learned to use human firearms, and have started poaching for hunters.
Nero, the cliff troll in the first Fablehaven book, is an oversized humanoid reptile. He likes to make deals, and is quite a dangerous haggler.
In Dean Koontz's Frankenstein, Harker, one of the doctor's New Race, gives birth to a creature in chestburster fashion that resembles an albino dwarf and is dubbed a troll by Frankenstein's wife, with whom it strikes up an Odd Friendship based on their mutual hatred of their creator, her husband.
In Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear's A Companion To Wolves trolls fit into the "big ogrish" type physically. They can also move through rock and earth as easily as humans do through water and have a hivelike setup with a queen as the only fertile female, sterile female worker/soldiers and males whose only function is to impregnate the queen.
The Trolls of Tales of Kolmar are all long dead, and as such never get described. But as the Trelli they were one of the four sentient species - the others being Kantri, Raksha, and Gedri - who were asked to choose between order and chaos. It's mentioned that Trelli had "only the merest beginnings of speech" but still conveyed their wish to not be governed by these Powers, which was "the seed of their ending". Only their name survives - there is a place on that world called the Trollingwood.
In A. Lee Martinez's Monster this trope even applies in story. All trolls look different although there are a few common characteristics. They're all small, between about one and three feet tall, all ugly, all smell horrible and they're all Extreme Omnivores with however a particular fondness for candy.
In Terry Pratchett's The Long Earth troll is the name given to a race of large, hairy, dimension traveling humanoids by Lobsang. Their level of intelligence is uncertain but they seem to have a language consisting of trills and whistles and are talented mimics and quite friendly. A human adopted by them when he crossed over into their world during WWI mistakes them for Russians and never realizes his mistake.
According to the Old Icelandic Saga of Grettir the Strong, Grettir fought and killed two murderous trolls that haunted Bardardal in Northern Iceland. They were giant-sized, enormously strong, and presumably man-eaters.
Trolls in UrsulaVernon's universe are knobbly, semi-intelligent, generally benevolent, and related to goats.
Lady Catrina, the troll in the Merlin episode "Beauty and the Beast", is humanoid, but slightly shorter and fatter. She has a warty, ugly face with tusks, and is dirty and greedy, enchanting Uther to become queen and get his money. She loathes human food and prefers feasting in her nest on a diet of rotting fruit.
Trolls here apparently have powerful magic that has the ability to prevent a human from seeing their true form and allows the troll to control them when used to enchant an amulet that the troll then convinces the victim to wear. Their blood, which is green, is used to do this.
They can create a potion that allows them to take on human form temporarily.
The only way to break their magic is for the victim (Uther in this case) to cry tears of true remorse.
The Noddy Shop had a family of trolls that were tiny, ugly-cute people. The mother and father were mischievous rather than outright mean, while the son didn't want to be that way.
At first, from Olaf being over two metres tall, it seems that Buffyverse trolls are very large - but we later find out that Olaf, a magically transformed human, was that size BEFORE he became a troll, and is by far the biggest troll his fellow villagers had ever seen.
In So Weird, a troll runs a Scandinavian restaurant at the base of a drawbridge. Disguising herself as an unassuming elderly woman, she transforms visitors into vegetables for failing to answer trivia questions.
Trolls in The 10th Kingdom are human-sized, ugly, with overdone mullets, and an obsession with leather. Especially shoes.
It isn't clear if the shoe fetish is a racial trait or not, all of the trolls who exhibit it are immediate family.
Despite their human size, they are incredibly strong. At one point one was hit by a car, leaving a deep indent in the front of the car but barely moving the troll.
Robert Troll, the Neighborhood of Make-Believe counterpart of Robert Trow, is a troll who could very well be a human without much difference; he's the same size and roughly as nice as any of them. He sometimes speaks in a kind of gibberish language called "troll talk", and even has a short song entirely in it. The best part - "Trow" actually means troll in some dialects of British English.
In Knightmare's first season the troll is huge (His head is larger than the dungeoneer), has horns and shaggy grey hair. He'll cheerfully eat people but is also suseptible to bribery and flattery.
Then there's Oakley who's a "Tree Troll" and is an Ent Expy.
In later seasons a third type of Troll appears who are pretty much human looking, made of living stone (making them look like statues when at rest), about twenty feet tall and not very bright. Their King, a particularly smart example "Has a vocabulary of twenty words, some of them pronouns and can count up to five."
And finally there are Mire Trolls described as even larger than normal trolls but "squishier."
In the "Flying Fairy School" segments of Sesame Street, trolls are squat fireplug-like creatures, completely covered with shaggy hair. As with other Sesame Street monsters, trolls are goofy but nice.
In Once Upon a Time trolls are of the large, ugly and greedy variety and yes, live under a bridge, at least the only ones we've seen so far do.
Antonio, the Troll in Charlie'sNightman play, is a disreputable landlord/pimp who demands a "Troll Toll" in exchange for access to his boy's soul.
Charlie: But, Frank, you keep pronouncing it boy's hole!
In a significant number of legends from the Orkneys and Shetland Islands, trolls (trowe, from the Scots word) are explicitly described as shorter than humans, or even really small. They are also both shy and mischievous, as well as possessing a fondness for music. Hypothesizing, this may be due to cultural cross-pollination between the British goblin and the Scandinavian troll.
Also, the word "trowe" is thought to be synonymous with old Norse's "svartalv", as they are depicted in nearly the same way.
As pointed out at the top of the page, a lot of myths paint contradictory pictures of trolls. Hence the trope name.
Depending on the myth, they range from well-meaning and friendly, but terribly dim-witted and sometimes inadvertently harmful creatures to cruel man-eating monsters that abduct and devour children. And that's just their disposition. Getting started on ranges in size, ability, and other attributes would take up the whole page.
Not just true of trolls, but of mythological creatures in general. Originally, the terms Dark Elf and Dwarf were used interchangeably for the same creatures. It wasn't until the late Middle Ages that they were widely differentiated.
Trolls are just particularly noticeable since most myths just have a couple versions of each other but can generally agree on most aspects of a given creature. Troll legends agree that they are roughly humanoid in shape. And nothing else, despite a tendency for malevolence.
In some Scandinavian myths trolls are pictured as roughly man-sized, hairy, swarthy and ugly beings who dwell in the mysterious forest. Sometimes they switch one of our babies for one of their own, so they can use the human baby as a worker; the changeling doesn't really fit with human society, so it returns to the forest at some point. Plus, the worse the troll baby is treated, the worse the real baby gets it. If you treat it good enough, you might even get your baby back.
And even this part varies. Some changeling stories instead say you should abuse the child, so that the troll will realize it made a bad trade and take its child back.
Icelandic trolls are considered the same as ogres and range from being about double the size of humans to being taller then mountains. They also eat children. Icelandic folklore is fairly consistent in that its trolls usually turn to stone if they are exposed to sunlight.
There is also a version that turns to stone at the ringing of church bells, which would explain why trolls are so rare nowadays.
The beautiful troll females described in the story above (as well as in the Foglios' Xxxenophile story, see the comic books folder) are known as Huldra. To further complicate matters, Huldra are considered to be related to both trolls and Fair Folk. They prefer human men, though.
This is consistent with actual Norse Mythology, in which a huldra (or huldre) is generally speaking a beautiful, if tempermental woman with a cow tail and unusual strength; they're both trolls, The Fair Folk, and confusingly, also a type of "Alf" (Elf, that is).
Another mythological creature comparable to trolls in their vagueness is the Bunyip, a creature in Aboriginal and Australian folklore. About the only common feature any rendition of the bunyip has is that it lives in swamps, and sometimes it's basically an Ultimate Evil.
Most traditional Norwegian trolls are very large — ranging from slightly taller than a man to twice as tall as a tree. They live in the mountains, generally near large forests. Some may seem moss-grown; most are dimwitted. Certain trolls also burst and turn to stone in the sunlight, which kills them. All trolls can be killed like any other creature, they are just very hard to kill because of their size and strength.
Besides these general characteristics, few fairy tales portray the trolls the same way as another. The most famous might be the one who lived under a bridge and tried to capture goats. One story has trolls with multiple heads. Another tells of a very stupid troll who was tricked into cutting his own belly open. Yet another troll kidnapped girls and took them into his own to marry them. (If they wouldn't he tore their heads off. Somehow everyone got better.) Trolls are truly diverse creatures.
In Skáldskaparmál a troll describes her kind as dwelling on the moon, sucking up the wealth of jotnars, destroying a sun, serving seers, guarding graves and swallowing a wheel of heaven. Given that previous paragraphs were about Thor spending all day crushing trolls with a hammer, little of this was likely true but does suggest they are extremely arrogant.
To make matters worse, in Norwegian myth the word troll can be applied to almost any member of The Fair Folk, of which some are more obviously troll-like then others, but when it comes to naming and separating those creatures it is actually rather consistent:
Plain "Troll" or "Rise": Large, often evil, humanoids living in mountains. Often have pieces of landscape (like moss or trees) growing on them, multiple heads and other deformations. Are more prone to be vulnerable to sunlight than other variants.
"Skogstroll" (Forest Troll): Similar to the above, but forest-dwelling and often smaller (still larger than a human though). Often considered the same as the English Ogre.
"Havtroll" (Sea Troll): Similar to those above, but lives in the sea. Its body is covered in sea-weed and its face is like that of a fish. Stories about this variant are increasingly rare.
"Nisse" or "Tomte"(depending on region): Small and friendly—thought somewhat mischievous—creature living in and near farms. Can be compared to more traditional depictions of Leprechauns. It's important to note that a "Nisse" or "Tomte" is considered to the personification of a farm or the spirit of the farm's original owner.
"De underjordiske" (the subterraneans): Small, usually evil creatures that live underground. Steal children either by swapping infants with one of their own (a “bytting”/changeling) or abducting lone children in the forest at night.
"Hulder" (hidden) or “Skogsrå” (forest lady): Beautiful women with cow-tails (and in some stories, a hole in their back. Somehow). Giving in to their seduction is usually not a good idea. Note however that "hulderfolk" is also used to refer to The Fair Folk in general.
"Nøkk": Shape-shifting water-dweller that lures people to lakes or rivers and drowns them. Always male. Usually sings too, but is not a siren.
A reoccurring plot point in the Icelandic sagas where some of the lesser known gods are called trolls by people who do not recognize them but can clearly tell they are not human. The men that know better are sometimes able to get these gods on their side.
In Sami mythology, trolls are evil spirit invaders from another realm or basically another name for demons.
Irish mythology holds that humans had to fight a long bitter war to wrest control of the land of Ireland from a race of foul, lumpen, mis-shapen, not especially intelligent, creatures with no table manners called the Fomorians - trolls by any other name. Given the cultural interplay between Ireland and Scandinavia, it is possible ideas concerning trolls cross-fertilised each other's folklore and mythology.
In Dilbert, trolls are human-sized creatures who work in the accounting department, which for some reason resembles a castle dungeon. It's stated several times that the trolls were once humans who slowly mutated. This partially happened to Dilbert once.
There's various subspecies who may omit the vulnerability to acid and/or fire, or gain a new one (and with the right templates, can have no particular vulnerabilities). Such species include swamp trolls, mountain trolls, crystal trolls and war trolls.
Additionally, the Fensir, or Ysgardian trolls, have nothing to do with the above and more closely resemble the trolls from Norse mythology.
Trolls in Warhammer are pretty much the same, only adding on a ridiculously-caustic stomach acid, capable of digesting rock, that they like to vomit on their foes/victims. And even then, there are at least three kinds of trolls in the Warhammer universe.
Chaos Trolls are even weirder due to living so close to the Realm of Chaos. Their regenerating powers cause them to mutate even more than other races. What makes this even worse is the existence of Throgg, the Troll King. After having his head cut off, it grew back, only this time with a mutation giving him genius intellect. Suffice to say, he was a nasty surprise to the Empire, who were used to Trolls being complete morons.
And there are others out there in the sort of relatedWarhammer 40,000 galaxy, the most famous of which are probably the Ice Trolls of Fenris who are not made of ice but are vulnerable (slightly) to fire.
The trolls of Changeling: The Dreaming are big and strong and have horns... and that's mostly where the similarity to an "average' troll ends. They're not necessarily dumb or ugly, and they're some of the best warriors of Changeling society. Their major weakness is that they're bound by honor; if they break an oath, they lose their strength, and if someone else breaks an oath they made with a troll, well... they'd better get out of the way.
The spiritual heirs of the trolls in Changeling: The Lost are the Ogres, who can ramp up their strength and be more intimidating but aren't too strong against mental whammies. Thanks to the game's Kith system, they range from all-devouring maw (Gristlegrinder) to stone-skinned tank (Stonebones) to giant (Gargantuan) to river hag (Water-Dweller). One of the books in the line contains an actual Troll Kith that relies on both brute strength and cunning.
On the other hand, The Lost does feature Hobgoblins, bizarre hedge-dwelling monsters that explicitly fall under this trope.
Shadowrun's trolls are pretty much the embodiment of the Mighty Glacier — massive, powerful, built like a tank, but slow both physically and mentally. They also tend to have random horns, warts, and bony ridges all over their body. So they're big, ugly, mean... and pretty much the best guys to have on your side in a fight.
Daniel, Bear Shaman: If trolls were really as dumb as they're made out to be there wouldn't be too many troll runners. We'd all be dead of our own idiocy by now.
It's stated that trolls are literally slow-witted. They can be quite intelligent, but they just don't think as quickly as a human. The fact that the smartest humans are "smarter" than the smartest trolls is based on this deficiency, rather than lower intellect.
The tie-in novel Changeling—the protagonist of which was a brilliantrich kid who'd goblinized—went into detail on this. Once Peter adjusted to troll thought processes, it was clear that he was still pretty damn sharp (even if he did spend a lot of time playing it down).
In Runner Havens, a troll is on Hong Kong's board of directors. His name is Tai Kong. It goes without saying his nickname is "King".
In the supplement Dunkelzahn's Secrets, there is a list of candidates the dragon Dunkelzahn defeated to become President of the UCAS (what the USA became) - the republican candidate, Anne Penchyk, is a troll.
Earthdawn's trolls are this, with a dash of vikingian Sky Pirate. They make good wizards, especially Elementalists.
Magic trolls are also often hexproof—that is, unable to be targeted by opponents' spells.
The modern pattern for trolls is pretty consistent: Green, with regeneration, hexproof, or both. The hexproof part is so iconic (though primarily through the efforts of the previously-linked Troll Ascetic) that before it was known officially as "hexproof", the ability "cannot be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control" was often known by the Fan Nickname "troll shroud" (after the keyword "shroud" for "cannot be the target of spells or abilities [controlled by anyone]").
Dragon Dice has trolls who are one of the monsters for the Goblin race. Arguably one of the best units in the game, these trolls have the size and strength typical of fantasy trolls, but also have the somewhat unusual ability to regenerate units other than themselves.
Scion: Ragnarok has two mechanically-similar breeds of troll. One type are the children of the troll-wives; the other is the result of giving a giant's eitr (mutative blood) to a dwarf.
The Iron Kingdoms have the Trollbloods, which are split into several different kinds. You have the Dire Trolls (massive and stupid), the Full Blood Trolls (not too bright, still pretty tall), Trollkin (who basically take the role of Orcs in IK) and Pygmies (small but not as bright as trollkin). The Trollkin have been dicked over by pretty much every faction in Warmachine and Hordes. They regenerate like a number of examples on this page, able to grow back a limb that's chopped off. With Dire Trolls or Full Blooded Trolls, the limb that was dismembered may grow into a tiny troll called a Whelp (with an over-sized limb, hand, foot, or even a finger, depending on what they are regenerating out of), kind of like starfish. Trolls view their whelps a bit like kids, a bit like pets, and (for the Dire Trolls and full-blooded trolls) a bit like snacks.
In Polish tabletop steampunk RPG Wolsung, trolls are a playable race. The game uses all three basic stereotypes of a troll. Troll children are fairytale trolls - small, big-headed, tricksters with magical powers. When they grow up, they resemble huge, muscular humans with flaming red hair, have an obsession with honor, and tend towards very explosive personalities. A male troll technically grows larger through his entire life, and he gets meaner. Old trolls with every period of rage become one step closer to becoming monsters. And in women, emotion and compassion die, turning them into fairy-tale witches.
In a Brazilian RPG setting (called Tormenta), Trolls are Plant-people (well, maybe fugus people, can't remember), thus justifying they vulnerability to fire and regeneration. They are of the tall, mean and brainless monster variety.
There is also a monster race from another dimension, can't remember the name, but they share the extreme sexual differences from some Troll tales, the women are beautifull elf-like, and the men are big, brutish, with green hair and four arms, but both are good.
Trolls in Grimm all have wildly different, though hideous and roughly person-shaped, appearances, but they have a few things in common: They're all man-eaters who live under bridges, maintaining them and collecting tolls from those who pass over them. They have master knowledge of the structure and maintenance of bridges, but are weakened greatly if they stray too far from their bridge. They can also hum a wondrous soothing subsonic tune that helps persuade otherwise reluctant people to cross their bridges — cats can actually hear it, and intensely dislike it.
In Chronopia, the Blackblood Trolls have four arms, and are highly intelligent. They're not as aggressive as the other Blackbloods, but in combat they become a whirlwind of arms and blades.
GURPS Fantasy uses trolls as an example for a fantastic race. Deliberately sticking to the old myths, the trolls shown are huge, ugly humanoids who turn to stone when exposed to sunlight. The troll-women are weaker than their male counterparts, but possess powerful magic.
In the board game Bridge Troll players play as trolls who eat and extort the travelers who attempt to cross their bridges.
In the tabletop board game Trollhalla players play as trolls who are sick of sitting under bridges extorting travelers for cash (or simply eating them) and instead go out for a seafaring adventure. To sack and plunder islands full of mortified monks, panicked princesses, and tasty pigs & peasants, of course.
Trolls in the World of Warcraft universe are almost as varied as the other examples on this page due to being split into several subraces. The constants are that they live in tribal societies, are tall with short blue or grey fur, have three fingers and toesnote (Two in the front, and a small, underdeveloped dewclaw for the heel.), speak with an Afro-Caribbean or Cuban accent, practice Hollywood Voodoo, have varied regenerative powers, and run the gamut from stupid to deadly cunning. Males have long ears, big noses, large tusks, and walk with a hunch. Females have slightly pointed ears, normal noses, small tusks, and walk upright.
Trolls are also typically savage, cannibalistic, and almost universally antagonistic with the notable exceptions of the Darkspear jungle trolls (the playable Horde race), Zandalari tribe (originally a neutral faction, now antagonistic as of Cataclysm), and the Shatterspear and Revantusk tribes (who are members of the Horde but non-playable). These tribes are typically depicted as more civilized and intelligent than their barbaric cousins.
Trolls first appeared in the Warcraft universe in Warcraft II when the forest trolls joined the Horde in a tentative alliance in order to crush their hated enemies, the high elves, staying with the Horde till Warcraft III. The Darkspear Tribe of jungle trolls joined the Horde in Warcraft III after the orcs saved them from a sea witch and have remained with the Horde ever since, becoming a playable Horde race in Vanilla World of Warcraft.
Trolls are high adaptable, and come in several subraces depending on their environments: jungle trolls are blue, typically lanky, and agile; sand trolls are grey, lanky, and practice mummification; forest trolls are often bulky and always green due to algae or moss growing in their fur; ice trolls are blue, bulky, and resistant to the cold; dark trolls were purple, bulky, lived underground, and are supposedly now extinct; and Zandalari trolls are grey and can be either bulky or lanky, being the original tribe from which all others descend. Note that "bulky" in these examples only applies to the males; female trolls of all subraces are slender.note (This may be due to laziness on the developers' parts rather than intention: all male trolls also used the lanky models of the player trolls until late in the game's first expansion, Burning Crusade, when the bulky models were created for the Zul'Aman raid, and later replaced most lanky male forest and ice trolls in Wrath of the Lich King.
Trolls are also the race from which night elves mutated from due to magic exposure from the Well of Eternity, who in turn gave rise to the high/blood elf, satyr, and naga races, making all of these races technically subraces of trolls as well.
Dire trolls(introduced in World of Warcraft) are sometimes treated as a subrace by lore sources, but they are actually a genetic anomaly where certain trolls grow to gargantuan proportions, and can occur in any tribe (or be created artificially).
Trolls are one of the oldest and most successful sentient races on Azeroth, having founded some of the world's first empires before most of the other native sentient races had even come to exist in the way that they are known today, and shaped much of early Azeroth's history by halting the advance of the Aqir Empire out of Silithus. The ruins of their empires can be found scattered across most of the world, and make for a significant proportion of the game's dungeons.
The Trolls are a street gang in City of Heroes who all have green skin and grow horns and super strength as they move up in rank. These are all side-effects of a super steroid that they abuse called Superadine. They also tend to have stunted speech, but this is just an extremely limited side effect of the Superadine — a Troll retains their basic level of intelligence, even if they do start talking like a stereotypical caveman.
And since the players can have green skin, horns, and the same superpowers, there are quite a few Troll heroes and villains out there. A lot of the player-made ones are cute monster girls since The Trolls are an all-male street gang.
The Elder Scrolls: Arena borrowed Dungeons & Dragons trolls. Unlike some of the other inconsistencies between Arena and later titles, this is never really addressed, beyond their more dramatic regenerative capabilities being written off as a myth.
Trolls in the Gothic series are huge ape-like creatures with massive arms and short legs, brown fur and incredibly tough skin, but no regeneration. A young troll is a tough fight for two skilled warriors, a fully grown troll requires the main character to be up to borderline-demigod prowess or competent at circle strafing, and the even bigger and scarier-looking black troll is stronger yet. Their punches will also send you flying. Luckily, there is a spell called "shrink monster" that will - well, you figure it out.
In Tibia, trolls are a weak race of hominids with no special powers, but with an apparent appetite for dogs. A clan of swamp trolls are seen worshipping a soccer ball. The Swamp Trolls are green, and can poison the player, regular Trolls are brown as are Island Trolls, which wield Marlins as swords. There's also a blue race called Ice Trolls.
Generally speaking, trolls in video games have a habit of allying themselves with orcs or goblins (Age of Wonders 2), or both (which was the case in Battle for Wesnoth and Warcraft II, in which the goblins left the Horde in the third game, even though they still have some ties with them as evident in World of Warcraft).
They also have an extreme tendency towards "regeneration", which depending on the game might just make them slowly regain health, might fully heal in a matter of seconds if not killed fast (especially if everything in the game regains health in real time), may make them rise from the dead, and is almost always hindered in some equally inconsistent way by fire (and sometimes, though not always, by acid).
Trolls in Nethack have a large chance of spontaneously reviving if their corpse isn't taken care of in some way, like being eaten, disintegrated, or thrown underwater (fire does NOT, by the way, really help in this case). However, they lose a level every time and have a chance of not coming back anyways. They tend to make decent pets for the careless.
Majesty took the regeneration of trolls very literally, having them ooze together in the middle of the city to wreak havoc and then melt into a green puddle when defeated. Their appearance clearly points to Dungeons & Dragons as inspiration.
Trolls in Final Fantasy XI are large, bulky, plate-armor wearing mercenaries. They, in the past, were allies of the player-friendly Empire of Aht Urhgan, but turned against them and are now in the employ of Moblins (Goblins with fancy armor).
The Locust in Gears of War are arguably a Not Using the Zed Word or Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" version of trolls, given some of the parallels to the "repulsive underground dweller hostile to man" version of trolls — including being considered legendary monsters. They vary from diminutive humanoids to enormous pseudo-arthropods, using teeth, claws, or guns — either scavenged from humans, or their own designs — and seem to actually be fairly intelligent.
Trolls in Sacrifice are large, green humanoids with a Healing Factor that lack heads and have their faces on their chests instead. They serve the goddess of life, Persephone, and are as such benign. Pyro has a creature known as a firefist, which is a troll with flamethrowers attached to its fists — due to the resulting burns, they do not regenerate. Both variants communicate purely through Hulk Speak.
In the 2004 game, The Bard's Tale, Trow (What people called Trolls on the Orkney Islands) are short, Goblin-like creatures that are an annoyance in the beginning. That is, until your average enemy becomes Clock-Work Knights and ten-foot tall undeadVikings.
Even then there are two varieties of Trow: Kunal Trow are the bigger, more violent type, while Peerie Trow are the smaller, cunning variety. A Kunal Trow'll rip your guts out, a Peerie will sing about it later.
Spellforce trolls are large, grey-skinned humanoids who speak entirely in "whine", can do marvellous things with rocks, and are about the only Dark race with decent missile attacks that don't count as magical. Their turrets are also ludicrously overpowered.
Trolls in Stonekeep are corrupted faeriefolk, and look as such (kind of like evil hobbits). They cannot cross iron spikes driven into the ground and have an aversion to faerie garb—if you equip yourself entirely in faerie clothing, you become completely immune to the attacks of trolls, even though you look very stupid doing so.
The Trolls found in Kameo are what most would consider to be "standard" Trolls, to the point of being generic. Brutish, violent, fairly dim and always spoiling for a rumble. However, there are some sub-species that are encountered along the way, some lethal (Fire Trolls, Ice Trolls and Shadow Trolls) and some not so lethal (small Trolls who hide in metal balls, Trolls that are part plant). The "normal" Trolls stand out from the magical folk of the game by having a unique affinity with machines; a trait which forged the foundation of a shaky truce until Thorn (a "cunning Troll") took control of the entire race and began yet another war.
In Bungie Studio's old Myth series of strategy games, there were the Trow (an alternate spelling of "troll") who were twelve foot tall giants with bodies like stone. The Trow are immortal unless killed, and incapable of reproduction (all existing Trow having been created by the god Nyx at the begining of the world according to the Trow's own legends.) They are capable of surviving anything short of dismemberment, and wear belts of skulls about their waists. When fighting creatures smaller than they are (which is to say, most creatures) their combat techniques generally involve kicking those creatures across the landscape with messy results.
Trolls in Castle Crashers are huge-eyed black humanoidish stick-wielding forest creatures possibly made of hair. They are produced from the mouth of an insane crying black fuzzy square face with legs called a Big Troll. Ostensibly, these are hairballs of the "Giant Troll," a weeping cat-like monster of immense proportions and questionable motivation has hair that resembles its supposed progeny's "fuzzy" make up. You can (with a bomb) unlock a "Troll Orb" as one of many circular "animal" spirits. It does allows you to slowly regenerate health, so there's that.
The common "troll", a basically sentient but slow-witted beast which Goblins sometimes use as living battering rams to break fortress doors and cause havoc. Description text tells that trolls are "huge humanoid monsters with coarse fur, large tusks and horns." Now that shearing has been implemented, they are also goblins' source of wool which combined with their gray fur and black skin may mean they look quite a lot like giant, monstrous, humanoid sheep. They also have cyan-coloured blood, for some reason. These trolls are slow learners, but over their 800-1000 year lifespans can acquire a skilled trade, leading to butchers/bakers/candlestick makers accompanying a goblin invasion. Though they function the same in gameplay, they're about as different as any other sentient race.
In Puzzle Quest, trolls are large, grayish creatures with the annoying habit of regenerating health, though they are still perfectly killable. During a sidequest, however, you are told something that basically amounts to them being able to regenerate even after being eaten, which can be prevented by ingesting poison.
In RIFT, trolls are fairly standard hulking, stony-skinned brutes. What makes them different is that they are former servants of an ancient race of titans, who are not intelligent enough to form language, but can understand psychic messages left behind by the titans. Some of them have chosen to obey the giants, who used to be the middle managers between the titans and the trolls. Also, Asha Catari has one for a bodyguard.
In Magicka, Trolls appear as large brutish giants with a small healing factor which can be counteracted by fire, but can still be killed with other elements. they also come in various Underground Monkey varieties, each with increasing levels of strength and speed. Their intelligence is debatable, as some varieties seem little more than animals, others use weapons advanced as BFGs, and the impressive ruins explored in the second to last chapter (which includes doors with magick based locks, some electronic equipment, and copius amounts of lava) was created by the trolls, leaving them as potential genius bruisers.
Trolls in Drakensang are large humanoid giants full of hair who likes to eat "sweet stuff", especially honey and "sweet dust" (sugar). Other than this, they're quite likeable. In the second game you can fight a two trio of troll, but they're very dangerous.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings gives a nod to the mythological notion of trolls being made of stone and petrify in sunlight. In reality, trolls are giant, butt-ugly humanoids, but made of flesh and blood all the same. According to the lore, they have a penchant for construction and alcoholism, and will often build bridges and charge travelers toll to cross them. The toll is always quickly blown on booze. Their relationship with humans residing in the area is often positive, as it is cheaper to pay the troll to maintain the bridge than to have other humans do it.
The Trolls of the AdventureQuest Worlds universe rule one half of the Bloodtusk Ravine (the other half being Horc territory). They have a love of literature and art, are quite adept in the use of magic, and in the art of combat are unparalleled strategists. Physically, they're not much larger than regular humans and have skin coloration ranging from a greenish blue to dark blue, with males having big ears and differently-sized noses and tusks depending on the troll, and females being Cute Monster Girls.
Trolls in Guild Wars are largely confined to the continent of Tyria. As a species they appear somewhat reptilian with a single eye and tusks. They're roughly humanoid but possess no neck. While they are all warriors, many have the healing ability "Troll Unguent" usually reserved for rangers.
Trolls in Dungeon Crawl come in a few different varieties of fast-healing unarmed melee brutality, each one nastier than the last: trolls, deep trolls, rock trolls, and iron trolls. Trolls are also a playable race, notable for being able to eat everything, needing to eat everything due to lightning-fast metabolism, and not being very good at any class or role except for aforementioned unarmed melee brutality. To their credit, though, they are amazing at it.
In Tales of the Questor Trolls are a type of toadstool, which live centuries, can eat nearly anything, and are capable of turning the average human warrior into a small red streak across the ground. They're usually too stupid to be good or evil, but they do tend to make good guards for the treasures of bad people.
Dungeon Damage had a number biological HandWaves for their regenerating trolls— body parts designed to survive disembowelment and dismemberment, including primitive auxiliary "lungs" in the sinus cavities to keep the decapitated head alive, an oxygen-absorbing fluid throughout the body that seals wounds and prevents infection and blood loss, arteries with peristaltic pumping action, and a nervous system that produces bioelectrical pulses to control limbs physically separated from the body. The author likes to show his work.
In Hereville, Mirka dreams about a troll which is a large bearded biped with too many eyes. Later she encounters the real one, which has a blob for a body, six stick-thin limbs, carries a handbag, and likes knitting.
Ursula Vernon's work features trolls that look like really rather adorable pudgey frog/goat things. Their eyes get huge at night, as the protagonist of Digger finds out. In Vernon's taxonomy, trolls and goats are actually descended from a common ancestor, which is why they're very embarrassed about that whole "billy goats" thing, and it's impolite to bring it up. Furthermore, the word "troll" also serves as a job title — meaning that the first "troll" we meet is actually a shrew.
In Errant Story the trolls were one of the original species (possibly the second after the dwarves) to inhabit the world, though their civilization was destroyed and their numbers devastated once the various elven races got together and launched a long, though ultimately unsuccessful campaign to exterminate them. They were likely created by Anilis and Senilis, the elven creator gods, though the elves believe that the mortal (albeit long-lived) trolls were failures and sought to wipe their creators' "failure" from existence. Humans and elves tend to have very little contact with them, considering trolls to be violent, unintelligent monsters. From what the audience has actually seen of the trolls they are large, strong, and matriarchal (as apparently only the women are able to use magic). They are cannibalistic, though it is more of a religious ritual than a survival mechanism, trolls don't believe in an afterlife and thus deceased individuals are eaten by their tribes so they may live on in another sense. They seem to mirror the Kroot of Warhammer 40k in this regard, but without the freaky genetics that make it actually true, and like the Kroot having your remains eaten after you die seems to be something of a compliment (they do it to humans only if suitably impressed). In fact, their culture's capital punishment specifically requires that the criminal's corpse be left for the worms. They consider cremation very offensive, and burning a troll's corpse will royally piss them off.
Also, despite the aforementioned cannibalism, they seem to have an Only Sane Man thing going compared to the other powers that be. Their reaction to the Woobie Destroyer of Worlds approaching them and asking for an alliance is to peacefully but loudly decline, then immediately decide to uproot their settlement and move to a place with less crazy.
In Serenity Rose, trolls are big hairy creatures with almost completely featureless faces, conjured by witches to defend the Inconsolable Wood from intruders, and are specifically designed to take orders from any witch.
In Swiftriver, trolls are blue skinned, hairy, and sport horns. They tend to to be over six feet tall (not counting their horns) and have two rows of teeth. They are always of Norse or Scandinavian heritage and can project a glamour to make them appear human.
Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures doesn't have trolls as such, but does have the 'Mythos', which is a catch-all term for any Creature race that doesn't fit into any other category.
Erfworld doesn't exactly have trolls. It does, however, have twolls (along with dwagons, gobwins, and spidews). They're large compared to Erfworld "humans", but Parson (the protagonist, a human from Earth) is approximately the same size as a twoll. This is a source of some humor in the early strips. Twolls are ugly, strong, and not very bright. Parson is ... well, certaily not attractive, strong by Erfworld standards, and extremely bright but also very much a fish out of water, so guess what a lot of people meeting him for the first time assume?
Homestuck plays with the dual meaning by having internet trolls turn out to be actual grey-skinned creatures with horns. Further reveals have shown that they're Humanoid Aliens, with Bizarre Alien Biology implying that they're closer to insects than humans, divided into varieties with different blood colors that to some extent determine traits, abilities, and lifespan. They're a Higher-Tech Species whose society runs on Blue and Orange Morality and lots of violence. They're almost all bisexual (because gender is vestigial) and have weird forms of romance(troll reproduction requires this); many are either psychic or psychotic. Most of the less-savory aspects of their culture are not natural, but were engineered by malevolent outside forces. Prior to the pressing of an in-universe Reset Button, trolls were a peaceful species. Personality-wise, there's a great deal of variation within the 12 trolls in the cast (and their ancestors): from Anti Heroes to Anti Villains, Woobies to Smug Snakes, monsters to Messianic Archetypes. However, they are similar to mythological trolls in that they are nocturnal and sensitive to sunlight.
PvP: Skull. Blue, horned, fat, farts a lot, genuinely nice and adorkable. He's been with Scott Kurtz's work for a long time, serving as a mascot, comic relief and semi-Author Avatar since his Everquest-based comic Samwise in the 90's. His status in the comic as a mythical creature is subject to some Magical Realism restrictions; he was apparently assigned to Brent Sienna as an imaginary friend when Brent was a kid and just stuck around. Has recently struck up a friendship with The Freemont Troll (see below) since the comic moved to Seattle.
My Roommate Is an Elf features a troll named Dearg. He has green skin, yellow eyes, and ears similar to an elf's. He turns to stone when exposed to sunlight (but turns to flesh again as soon as he gets out of sunlight), and had to wear a cloak to attend a parade.
Trolls in Looking for Group are a warrior race of greenish-skinned humanoid creatures with glowing red or orange eyes who live in a rather primitive tribal culture and possess shamanic magic, and are quite intelligent (except for Tim, though his stupidity is a product of multiple head wounds). They are initially introduced as antagonists, until Cale helps recruit them into the Kingdom of Kethenecia. Although Benn'Joon, who has been described a number of times as being a troll, is most definitelynotugly. On the other hand, to say Benny's parentage is unclear is rather of an understatement, and she is universally recognized by other characters as a half-breed. Recent strips imply she may be the daughter of Captain Tah'Vraay, who appears to be of an Elven subrace.
Fairy Dust trolls are as large, strong and resilient as one can expect. They have a poor sense of personal hygiene and are usually content with their appearance no matter how they actually look. They are poor warriors, as most aren't very aggressive, and their low birth rate incites them to protect their youths' lives at any cost. They can tolerate sunlight, but are vulnerable to heat and prefer shade.
Animated troll dolls appear in the lonelygirl15 episode My Mom's A Freak!.
Trolls in Tales of MU are said to have been made by the gods out of leftovers, as they come in many different heights, limb arrangements, and numbers of heads.
Trolls have made cameo appearances on Gaia Online in various promo art, even having special troll items released. As Gaia relies a lot on internet culture for inspiration, Gaian Trolls are a bizarre combination of the bridge dwelling troll, and the internet kind.
The trolls in Arcana Magi work for a Evil Corporation. One troll is on the Board of Directors while another troll works as their technology tester.
The online Spec Evo project A Scientific Fantasy trolls are descended from the extinct primate Gigantopithecus, many different species are members of the Troll family: Satyrs, Minotaurs, Alpine Hunchbacks, Yetis and Sasquatches. Most species of Troll are semi-intelligent and Alpine Hunchbacks in particular will be found working in factories in what can essentially be called legalised slave labour.
The Grundles in My Little Pony are themselves very diverse in appearance. All of them are varying degrees of Ugly Cute and they all have very sweet personalities. A few other kinds of trolls appear in the series (such as Niblik from "The Magic Coins"), and pretty much follow the Grundles' standard.
One of the best variations we've found are the Stone Protectors. They were a toy line and short-lived cartoon series released on the heels of the troll doll revival in the mid-90s. These trolls were a literal Four Man Band who protected the Stones of Power from an evil troll using The Power of Rock.
On The Simpsons, Homer, Bart, and a few others group write a children's novel about orphan troll twins who attend a magical school under the Brooklyn Bridge called Underbridge Academy.
One rather odd episode has Homer become a jockey, only to discover that all the other jockeys are inhuman creatures that have various traits of elves and leprechauns, except that they are also evil and cannibalistic. Homer refers to them as "murderous trolls."
Barbie & The Diamond Castle featured a troll that looked just like a short, bald guy that happened to have greenish-brown skin, carried a scimitar, and threatened to eat anyone who couldn't answer his riddle.
In The Little Troll Prince trolls are small, ugly underground dwelling and Always Chaotic Evil but the title character gains redemption and is turned into a gnome.
Mustakrakish the Lake Troll from Metalocalypse is several stories tall with red skin, gangly limbs, claws, and fangs. It appears to hate (or enjoy destroying) modern technology, or at least high-tension electrical lines, and its only weaknesses seem to be lullabies (which put it to sleep in the bottom of a lake) and sharp objects lodged in its throat.
Trolls in Ugly Americans are big, green, not very bright, live under bridges and really, REALLY like telling riddles. There's some sexual dimorphism evident. Males have long noses, jutting tusks and are bald, females have snub noses, blunt tusks and hair (or they get nose jobs, file down their tusks and wear wigs).
The Trolls from David The Gnome are based on the Scandinavian troll myths, hairy, ugly, man sized creatures who turn to stone in sunlight, and are extremely greedy.
Trolls from Slugterra are blue skinned, large, and renowned for their engineering skills.
The trolls in Sofia The First are a race of benevolent but poor-reputationed small, green, hairy apes with pointy ears who live underground, like to make music with their clubs, and sometimes come outside to look at the stars. They are smart, friendly, love music and were banned from the castle due to a simple, knee-jerk misunderstanding. The show being what it is, it's up to Sofia to fix this mistake and introduce the trolls to polite society.
We can only assume that The TroubleMakers from Team Umizoomi are these creatures.
As mentioned briefly above, a number of years ago, it was something of a fad to collect small plastic humanoid toys that had large, brightly-coloured hair and were referred to as Trolls.
And even then, they brought out a toyline aimed at MEN. MANLY MEN. with muscular, barbaric trolls who (according to the wrapping) were the enemies of the cutesy girly ones. Though they still sported the same hairdos.
Original Scandinavian troll dolls were more Ugly Cute, and lacked the Anime Hair. They were created by a Danish fisherman in the 1950s.
LEGO brand building bricks depict trolls as either green men with tusks and red eyes that you'd be forgiven for mistaking for Orcs, or traditional troll-sized dumb brutes. Some of the giant trolls are tan, but they're still called trolls.