Gabe: It's not gay if it's an elf.Male elves are often portrayed as feminine or androgynous, in range from Pretty Boy or Bishounen to Ambiguously Gay. This is often used to cause dumbfounded confusion on reveal. Occasionally, elves of both genders will be portrayed as androgynous, but usually the male androgyny is part of a broader tendency to portray all elves as particularly feminine, making the female elves anything but androgynous. "No facial hair" clause helps, but it's only a little part of the image — other beardless peoples are immune to this even while wearing braids and beads and being one of the prototypes for elves. One of the probable reasons why feminine qualities of elves are played up is the intentional contrast between Elves and their traditional opposites, dwarves, who are basically hypermasculine: stout, muscular, hairy, axe-swinging drunks (which depending on the portrayal may apply to female dwarves as well). Remember that elves and dwarves contrast along several lines: Slobs vs. Snobs, Harmony Versus Discipline, Romanticism Versus Enlightenment, and especially nature versus technology. Thus it makes sense that races that fit so well into the Mother Nature, Father Science trope would even match the trope's gender implications: elves are feminine because nature is feminine, and all dwarves masculine because technology is masculine. This dichotomy also helps the both of them contrast against the mundane humans, who fit quite neatly between the two on all of these spectrums, including gender expression.
Tycho: I'd love to know why you have a rule for that.
Tycho: I'd love to know why you have a rule for that.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Isekai Maou To Shoukan Shoujo Dorei Majutsu: Upon being ambushed by elves, Takuma assumes that they're all flat-chested women until he notices that one of them has an adam's apple.
- Hungarian-British illustrator Victor Ambrus has averted this when he drew his version of the Middle Earth Elves of J. R. R. Tolkien. His male Elves are notably masculine, often with lined faces and distinct features, as opposed to the more known Elf-drawings of Allan Lee, who was chosen as codifier for the movie Elves. His version of Legolas should be noted. As a sidenote, his Elves even lack the traditional pointed ears. The "elvishness" is explained by drawing a kind of sparkles around them, and very bright eyes. His female Elves are distinctly delicate as opposed to the more masculine roughness.
- Averted with Magic: The Gathering's burly Eighth Edition Elvish Champion.
- Played straight with the elves of Lorwyn / Shadowmoor. Their society revolves around the virtue of beauty, and they punish transgressions with disfigurements. The other folks don't like them.
- Treated as a special ability in Berserker Halflings From the Dungeon of Dragons—the "Way Too Pretty Elf" is male, but is affected by cards that normally work on females.
- The elven men of Herezar in The First Dwarf King look only slightly more masculine than their female counterparts.
- In Wyrd Sisters an actor who plays a girl too well was asked whether he by chance has some elf up in the bloodline.
- Parodied in John Brosnan's Have Demon, Will Travel where elves are an entire race of Camp Gays.
- The two principal characters of the Nightrunner books are Aurenfaie. Both are repeatedly described as pretty, and Seregil disguises himself as a woman without much difficulty.
- Elves in Quantum Gravity tend to be thin and delicate-looking. Do not mistake this for weak. Elves still fulfill the archer archetype fairly often, and the author does recognize how much strength it takes to draw a decent-to-large-sized bow.
- In A.R.R.R. Roberts' parody of The Hobbit, The Soddit, Wood Elves and High Elves become Wild Elves and Coward Elves. The accompanying illustration makes it clear that the Wild Elves are based on Oscar Wilde, and the Coward Elves on NoŽl Coward.
- Played with by J. R. R. Tolkien. While his elven women are quite feminine, his elven men are stated to be manly. They are handsome but they are also mighty warriors and kings. This leads into Our Elves Are Better. The Film of the Book makes the male elves (particularly Legolas) look somewhat androgynous. This gets Lampshaded in the extended cut of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, where Kíli mistakes a male elf for a maiden.
- Orcs use the phrase "Flowers in the blood" when referring to elves.
- In the short story The Fairy Coney-Catcher, the male protagonist is given a boon by the the Fey Queen and requests an elven "lass" who caught his eye for his wife. Upon attempting to consummate the marriage, he discovers that his wife is in fact a man. Unsettling Gender Reveal is promptly averted when he says that he'll love and honor his wife regardless.
- Elven deities in Dungeons & Dragons are often noted to be "androgynous" in looks; the artist responsible for the picture of chief elf god Corellon Larethian from the Deities and Demigods sourcebook took this to its logical conclusion with a totally FABULOUS rendition◊ (two words: rainbow eyeliner).
- The Elves in Small World are depicted as overly thin, androgynous types carrying baskets of flowers.
- Blood elves and high elves (but not night elves) in World of Warcraft. Joked about at length, including the blood elf male flirt, "don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?", and Johnny Awesome being mistaken for a girl and called "Jenny" by a character in Hillsbrad. To be fair, though, male blood elves only look effeminate in comparison to the other mostly hypermasculine males in the game, especially their allies in the Horde. They were even more so in the beta for Burning Crusade.
- One of the quests from the Cataclysm expansion involves playing through a tale from an orc who describes how he supposedly chased Deathwing on his motorcycle while driving around with a "hot babe." You get to choose which one of those hot babes gets to hop into his sidecar for the chase and one of them happens to be a male blood elf.
- The Legion expansion adds the Shal'Dorei, a faction of elves who hid from the sundering in a protective magical shield. Dark skinned and white haired like the Drow elves, the males can often be hard to tell apart from the females. Many players have argued whether the Nighthold raid boss Star Augur Etraeus is a male or female.
- While not all Elezen in Final Fantasy XIV are feminine in appearance, Alphinaud deserves a special mention for the fact that he looks almost identical to his twin sister Alisae, not helped by the fact that they (Initially) wear virtually identical outfits, as well. This is lampshaded in the Flavor Text for the Wind-up Alisae minion, which states that they're simply Wind-up Alphinaud that were rebranded after changing the color of their hairbands and nothing else.
- Dragon Age
- Bisexual elf Zevran from Dragon Age: Origins mentions this as the reason he and other elves were chosen as assassins. Most humans found them pleasing to look at, which increased the chances they'd be successful in their jobs. Zevran himself is a prime example of this trope at work - drunken dwarf Oghren even comments that Zevran's got "small breasts for a gal".
- Similarly, Fenris of Dragon Age II. He's more masculine than some examples, but between the lean elven body model and pretty face, he hits the Pretty Boy mark. It's even lampshaded by Hawke's uncle Gamlen if a male Hawke romances Fenris.
"So, you're into elves, huh? I guess I don't have to ask which one of you's the girl."
- The character creator in Dragon Age: Inquisition takes this Up to Eleven. It is entirely possible to make a male elf with an extremely feminine face. Though due to the limited choice of two voice actors, the main difference of which is accents, your Elfeminate Male Inquisitor will still have a male-sounding voice.
- Averted for male Ancient Elves like Abelas or Solas. They have much more definitive masculine facial, skeletal, and muscular characteristics.
- Pillars of Eternity: Aloth the wood elven squishy wizard fits this trope, having a slim build, smooth face, long hair, and refined taste in wine and clothing. This gets him teased by some more manly party members, especially Durance. (Ironically, Aloth has a Literal Split Personality who is a woman. Double-ironically, she's even more manly than him.)
Durance: So, do you spend all your time hiding behind skirts? Or do you just like to wear one?
- Elves in Majesty are androgynous-looking, tend to have Gender Blender Names, and have voices somewhere between tenor and contralto.
- Lieutenant Yaha of Drakengard 2 is a Camp Gay Depraved Homosexual who is obsessed with party member Urick to the point that he gave up his ability to feel pleasure for the ability of charm. He spends his boss battle making creepy remarks towards both Urick and Nowe.
- More-or-less averted in Rift: Although smooth-faced and clearly intended to be attractive (even if Kelari are a bit eerie-looking), elven men are too sinewy and rawboned to be called Pretty Boys.
- Mostly averted in Dwarf Fortress by virtue of elves being nothing but a lowercase 'e' on the screen. However, their leadership positions are titled "queen" and "princess"... even when the elves in those positions are male.
- As shown in the page image, the community has a habit of portraying all elves as girly, tree-hugging, pansy hippies.
- Tera: High Elf males are Bishounen to the point of looking girly, just without breasts.
- The two commentators Jim the Vampire and Bob the Ogre in the Cyanide adaption of the BloodBowl table top game game: Jim mocks Pro-Elf teams by pointing out that if he didn't know better he could have confused them for an Amazon team. Bob replies that this is silly since he's never heard of anyone fearing an elf.
- The Order of the Stick uses the Ambiguous Gender of the Elves as a Running Gag, to the extent that, in the subtitles, the Elvish children refer to their parental units as "parent" and "other parent" rather than "mother" and "father". Worth mentioning is that the Ambiguous Gender of Vaarsuvius (one of the aforementioned parents) has been a running joke for a long time (even if it wasn't meant to be ambiguous at first). Also, the children are adopted, so any of the four gender combinations for two people is possible for V and his/her spouse. As of 2016, two elves have established genders; The Order of the Scribble's Lirian and priestess Veldrina — the latter of whom was introduced years into the comic and was originally a fan-created character.
- El Goonish Shive poked fun at this too. Subverted later when Justin admits he likes his men manly.
- In DM of the Rings, Aragorn in particular seems to look at any Elf and think it's a woman, even when they're male. For the most part however he just plays it up to annoy Legolas' (a.k.a. Leggo Lass) player. Even invoked when he's trying to get laid with Éowyn, but the DM doesn't want to because he's having to play her:
Éowyn: This (Aragorn hitting on the DM as her) is just too weird.
Aragorn: Oh, come on, you said she was hot! "Tall, slim, and graceful, with golden hair", you said.
Éowyn: That's the same description I gave you for Legolas.
Aragorn: Like I said: hot!
- Played with in Drowtales where it's averted and seemingly exaggerated at once. The male Drow are masculine, larger than humans, and typically fairly attractive. They seem somewhat effeminate when compared to the Drow ladies, however, who are typically larger and stronger than the males, although still blatantly feminine.
- In Mindflayed a barman called an elf "missy". That's when we get to know the elf wasn't. Later an idiot paladin made the same mistake three times — the first time another member of the party held Lomylith back, but on the third, this guy had to leave a high tower via the window.
- Used to point up the gender stereotypes in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic: male high elves (who come from a gender-equal race) are swishy, while male drow (who come from a matriachal society) are masculine. However, male high elves are still manly enough to be jealous as all hell of a drow who "slept [his] way to this position".
- d20monkey has "the description of that elf NPC". Discovering that the elf is male rather... surprised Brett.
- Averted in Dubious Company, the sex of the elves in the series are easily distinguishable, except for Elly. He is mistaken as a girl at least once by everyone, and consistently by Marty. Tiren cursing him didn't help matters either.
- Done very specifically with Cale, but, in an aversion, not with elves as a whole. Note, that this is barely apparent to the readers, if at all.
- Elon and Rolan of Ears for Elves are both somewhat feminine, in particular in hairstyle. One has girlish bangs and ponytail, while the other has narrow braids in his long hair and multiple earrings. Tanna also asks whether someone calling "princess" is referring to Elon, much to his annoyance.
- Fredrik K.T. Andersson (the author of Pawn) has a mostly-NSFW series of drawings about adventures of "the bard who knocks up every critter in creation" (though evidently was too drunk at the time to remember half of those... encounters). Elves are the only beings with whom he has some problems: he needs to be told that the beautiful elf he was flirting with is a he◊. Also, he didn't realize for a long time that the (rather Stripperific but also flat-chested) female elf in their party is a girl◊.
- Dwarf Fortress Fan Art: "A common mistake when dealing with elves".
- Tales of MU subverts this in the case of half-elf Steff, who is genderqueer and dresses as a female. To humans and most other non-elves, she comes off as beautiful and feminine. To elves, she looks awkwardly masculine, like a bad drag queen.
- Dexter's Laboratory features a parody of evil anime bishonen (and Char), in the form of a literal space elf who looks, dresses, and poses like a woman... and sounds like Bela Lugosi.
- The Breezies from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, which are basically pony fairies, all look incredibly feminine. Just try and guess which one of these is male.◊note . The rest are anybody's guess.note
- Xandir from Drawn Together, who is also Camp Gay. Given the nature of the show, where EVERYONE is an Acceptable Target.