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A common household device, sometimes employed as a symbol of vanity
, but with much deeper roots: combining the reflective and symbolic properties of flat, still water and the portability and delicacy of glass, mirrors show a character their reflections, and often much, much more...
A common staple of fantasy literature and movies, the Magic Mirror is exactly what you think it is
: A mirror with magical powers. Like a Crystal Ball
, they can be used for seeing the future or communicating with or spying on
someone at the other end, but a mirror is much
more versatile; other possibilities include the mirror being used as a portal
, or even into a Mirror Universe
, and a Crystal Prison
to trap foes. A mirror may even be used to reveal the true nature
of one of the main characters or the villain. They are the standard tool for a Vain Sorceress
who wants to know who is the Fairest of Them All
Often, the Magic Mirror itself may be sentient; if it is, it's usually evil
, or at the very least quite fickle
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Anime and Manga
- Atsuko aka Akko's mirror in Himitsu No Akko-chan, which makes her a Master of Disguise
- Sailor Neptune's Deep Aqua Mirror in Sailor Moon, one of the talismans that summons the Holy Grail. It can be used to see other locations and reveal illusions, not to mention it shoots water out of the glass.
- Also Nehelenia's mirror in Super S, which corrupts her younger self into the Vain Sorceress she grew up to be. Later, in the first part of Stars, Nehelenia used mirrors and crystal shards to brainwash some people (including Mamoru) and traps the Senshi in others until Usagi, The Messiah, talks her out of it.
- The two mirrors in Mugen Densetsu Takamagahara Dream Saga. They're both based on Amaterasu's mirror.
- Kanna's soul-sucking mirror in Inu Yasha. It's also a crystal ball for the Big Bad.
- One of The Slayers movies is about a Dungeons & Dragons type Mirror of Opposition, except that it doesn't work quite the way the villain thought it would... He thought it would spawn a Lina and Naga that would be willing to serve him and kill their duplicates. What it opposed turned out to be their personalities - it spawned a Lina and Naga set who were both extremely shy and nervous (and in Naga's case, ashamed of her outfit).
- We see another in Slayers NEXT. Aqua the Dragon uses it to show to Lina the horrible consequences of invoking the Lord Of Nightmares through her most powerful Black Magic spell
- Ichika's adventure in Uta Kata starts when Manatsu appears in an old mirror and promptly exits it with a cool light show.
- Haunted Junction gives us the Mirror Girl or Kagamiko, a female ghost with the looks of a Moe Moe girl who resides inside of a floating mirror. In the manga, she also has the power of showing the other characters what's reflected in other mirrors and also can use her mirror as a teleport device.
- The Lilith Mirror in Rosario + Vampire has the power to return any monster disguised as a human to its original form if they gaze into it, as well as liberating their suppressed primal instincts. Strangely, when Moka is affected, she does not revert to her usual form; instead, she splits in two, each of them representing a different form. The mirror has a mischievous pixie-like spirit residing in it which, upon being set free by Kyoko (Tsukune's cousin), goes off to wreak utter chaos around Youkai Academy, thus weakening the barrier which separates the youkai world from the human world.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle has several uses of reflective surfaces for scrying or magical communication, but the most classical and recurring example is the giant mirror that the Big Bad uses like a Crystal Ball.
- The character, Mirror, in the series Sisters Grimm. Doesn't just show you what you want to see, but will take you there it is within his power, and is the guardian of a never ending warehouse of magical items and artifacts.
- In The Tokyo Pop published Manga The Dreaming, the use of a Mirror in a Bloody Mary-style ends up with one girl walking out into the bush, and being found dead and the twin characters started to have different dreams, with one of course ended up being possessed by the Headmistress' dead twin, permanently. The more superstitious of the twins berated the other - reciting the common mirror superstitions listed above.
- One of the Clow Card in Cardcaptor Sakura is "The Mirror", but it's more of a Master of Disguise and shape shifter. In her human form, she's a White-Haired Pretty Girl in robes who holds a mirror in her hands.
- In Monster, the God of Peace has the reflection of a demon.
- Shinigami's very large mirror acts as audio/video link to any of his staff or students provided they have a mirror (a pane of glass works, too). He can, however, use it to watch over people without such an aid (he's seen watching several missions from a vantage point where no mirror can be), though the mirror apparently cannot see everywhere (Asura and Noah have not been found via the mirror). Shinigami seems to use it for convenient transportation into the Death Room, but it's unclear where he's coming there from.
- There's also the Death Scythe Tezca Tlipocta, whose weapon form is a mirror that allows him to reflect people's souls.
- Kagami no Kuni no Harisugawa
- One youkai in Natsume Yuujin Chou was looking for a mirror that could heal her friend. It had broken into fragments and one of them was in Natsume's eye.
- Toyed with in Onegai Samia-don (the anime version of the novel Five children and it). There's a whole magical world behind each mirror, but it cannot be accessed from the outside if not via magic; therefore, we only get to see it when a depressed Anne asks the Psammead to send her there. The episode ends in a borderline Tear Jerker as the last spot in the Mirror World is one that contains Anne's earliest memories, including those of her deceased mother... and when she's about to unlock them, Psammead's magic wears off since it's sundown.
- In Peter Pan No Bouken, Queen Sinistra has one. Wendy gets thrown inside of it, finds a world behind the crystal... and has to face the Face Heel Turned Princess Luna.
- More than one of these is featured in Hell Teacher Nube. In a variation, there are two who aren't inherently magical, but Kyoko and Miki perform a sort-of spell to follow an urban legend that says mirrors let you see the future...
- The mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a recurring character in Fables, and yes, "recurring character" is the right description; it appears to have human-level intelligence. It can show whoever asks it almost anything they ask for, but seems to prefer that the request be in the form "Mirror, mirror, [description of mirror]/[Question that rhymes with the first line]." We see it getting snippy with Jack at one point for not bothering to make his request rhyme (Jack tries to defend himself, saying it's free verse but the mirror doesn't buy it).
- More obliquely: Kay still has bits of the Snow Queen's Mirror stuck in his eyes even though he is freed of them in the story he comes from.
- Despair from The Sandman has a domain full of windows. Each represents a mirror in our world, and she can look through them to watch the suffering of humanity. Sometimes she'll catch the eye of a person looking in a mirror and he'll experience dread and heartache.
- Mirror Master doesn't so much have "magic" mirrors but he uses them for all sorts of different things up to and including a mirror gun that turns people into mirrors.
- In New Mutants, Magik's scrying glass was one of her most powerful tools and was even stronger than Cerebro. Its shattering made painfully clear that she had lost control of Limbo, and during Inferno, rebuilding it signified that she was back in charge just in time for her Heroic Sacrifice.
- Rather common in Western myths and legends, including:
- "Snow White" (later made into a Disney movie, where the Mirror - exact and unflattering - epitomized the all-consuming vanity of the queen).
- "Beauty And The Beast" (likewise, in which the mirror shows the user whatever he or she asks to see).
- "The Snow Queen" has a mirror that shows only the ugly things in the world, and it's in possession of the titular Queen. It gets broken and one of the shards ends up in a boy named Kai's eye, turning him into a cold and unfeeling Empty Shell. From then on, it's up to his best friend Gerda to save him.
- The many Real Life superstitions surrounding mirrors are, one might say, an extension of this trope. These include
- Breaking a mirror results in seven years' bad luck (probably, from when glass was very expensive, because you have to then pay off the debt).
- This was actually based around the idea of a soul renewing itself every so often.
- A lot of mirror folklore stems from the idea of the reflection as a manifestation of the soul: covering mirrors in a dying person's room prevents the departing soul from being trapped, soulless creatures (such as vampires) don't cast reflections, etc.
- Using a mirror to summon some malevolent force, such as "Bloody Mary."
- Divination using mirrors is called Catoptromancy. Some legends held that a catoptromancer could also use mirrors to reflect magic back on the practitioner.
- Mirrors can be used for scrying in both of Tamora Pierce's universes, but none of the main characters have a particular affinity for this means of divination.
- The Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter shows you Your Heart's Desire. This can border on Lotus-Eater Machine in some cases - Harry sees his deceased parents and extended family, and Dumbledore has to warn him not to spend all his nights staring at it.
- There are also linked mirrors that wizards can use as the equivalent of walky-talkies (or, you know, Skyping). Sirius and James used them at school, and Sirius gives one of the set to Harry when Snape starts teaching him Occlumency. Not wanting Sirius to get in trouble for his sake, Harry stuffs it away. This comes back to bite him when he does urgently need to contact Sirius and forgets the mirror.
- Even standard mirrors have a habit of talking back to their users (one tells Harry that attempting to straighten his hair is a losing battle).
- In The Mirror Of Her Dreams by Stephen Donaldson all magic is based on mirrors and all mirrors are magical. Each mirror functions as a window to somewhere, in the same universe or not, and it is possible to transport things in and out of the mirror. Clever use of mirrors can achieve a wide variety of effects.
- In Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice enters another world magically through a mirror.
- Midway through Lirael, Lirael finds the Dark Mirror, a handheld portal into the past, used specially for Remembrancers. By walking into Death and reciting the incantation, the user can see into past events. The farther back one wants to look, the farther into Death she must walk.
- The Mirror of Llunet is the object of Taran's quest in Taran Wanderer, by Lloyd Alexander. Taran wishes to know of his parentage and so seeks this mirror (actually a flat, still, shallow pool) which will show the truth.
- There's a mirror in the afterlife in the Detective Inspector Chen series that tells the souls of the dead what they are likely to be in the next life when they reincarnate.
- The Big Bad in the Discworld novel Witches Abroad has a mirrors-facing-each-other setup which multiplies her images, also multiplying her power.
- The Omniscope used by the wizards in several books is described as looking like a mirror surrounded by junk. It's basically a flatscreen crystal ball.
- The Patrician initially thinks it's just a piece of glass, since it's set to "here" and "now" so he just sees what's on the other side of it. Harry Pot... er, Ponder Stibbons resets the direction, which causes him to think it's a mirror until Ponder suggests that he wave at it.
- And the Demon King in Eric has one that answers questions, although not very helpfully.
- Tom Holt's entertaining but nonsensical novel Snow White and the Seven Samurai subverts this (as he does practically everything else) by introducing the "Mirrors 3.1" operating system which Snow White's Evil Queen Nemesis uses to pretty much control the whole fairytale world. Sort of. Since it's a parody of a rather well-known OS, you can imagine it doesn't work quite as well as the box claims.
- Galadriel in Lord of the Rings has a mirror that shows "things that are, things that were, and some things that have not yet come to pass." When the Fellowship visit Lórien she uses the mirror to show Frodo and Sam what will happen if the Ring is not destroyed.
- That's just what happened in the movie (though Sam wasn't present). In the book the Mirror shows what's going on in the Shire right at that moment, as well as glimpses to the history of the Ring. The Mirror itself is incidentally just water in a silver bowl. It's implied that all the power comes from Galadriel herself, or her ring.
- The light of the star Eärendil is also caught in the water of the spring, which Galadriel also uses to fill the crystal vial she later gives to Frodo, so presumably it has mystical properties, as well.
- Galadriel says that not all things the mirror shows will come to pass, and that some things the mirror shows will only come true if the person viewing them tries to prevent them. To sum up: it shows you stuff; the stuff may be true or not; changing your plans because of the stuff you see could make it come true or not come true, whichever you didn't want to happen. Aside from the sheer wonder of it all, it seems like mainly a liability rather than an asset. That's Elven philosophy for you.
- Parodied in book three of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Calling On Dragons, where magic mirrors are used as magical telephones. (You call someone by reciting the couplet "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, I would like to make a call".) A sign of the quality of the mirror is how polite it is to you; one mirror has quite the personality.
- In Robert E Howard's The Hour of the Dragon, Conan the Barbarian is shown to Xaltotun with a magic mirror.
- In the Kull story "The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune" — the mirror of Tuzun Thune.
- Clark Ashton Smith's Averoigne stories.
- "The Enchantress of Sylaire". The title character has a mirror that reflects reality as it really is, ignoring all illusions and enchantments.
- "The Colossus of Ylourgne". The magician Gaspard du Nord has a mirror that allows him to see distant scenes and places.
- Many of the godmothers in the Five Hundred Kingdoms have magic mirrors to help them.
- In The Sleeping Beauty Fairy Godmother Lily falls in love with hers
- There are several forms of Magic Mirrors in Septimus Heap, mostly of the portal type. Several of them become critical to the plot in Physik.
- The Dresden Files: Harry makes a point of not having a mirror in his home, as there are apparently a bunch of nasty things out there which can attack through them. For some reason he keeps the rear view mirror in his car, though. And McAnally's Pub has 13 mirrors, with no complaints. Maybe there's some other reason he doesn't own one?
- Harry himself uses a mirror as a key part of a spell in Blood Rites.
- In the Goosebumps spin-off "Horrorland", mirrors are banned because they are portals to Panic Park
- In Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series, in the first book - The Serpent's Shadow - the villianess has a magic mirror called a dark mirror (understandable, since this is an adaptation of the Snow White tale). Said mirror is horror of the And I Must Scream variety - she uses it to imprison the ghost of a man she sacrifices and tortures him constantly to insanity then slavish devotion so he can be useful to her. And she planned to do this to the heroine...
- The Otherworld Series has Whispering Mirrors, which are used for secure two-way communications between members of the Otherworld Intelligence Agency.
- The 10th Kingdom has lots of these. Besides the main set of mirrors that the Evil Queen has ("mirrors to travel, mirrors to spy, mirrors to remember, mirrors to forget, mirrors to rule the world!"), people can use them like videophones. The Huntsman even has a small pocket mirror that acts as a video cellphone!
- At one point, the heroes are shown to a mirror which answers questions, and finds that it's so old that not only is it half-deaf, but it won't understand a question unless it's spoken in rhyme.
- The Twilight Zone episode "The Mirror" features a mirror that supposedly shows a reflection of a man's assassins. A Central American dictator leaves it to the man who overthrew him, who becomes paranoid when he sees visions of his companions trying to do him in. Ultimately, he ends up killing himself.
- "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room" and "The Last Night Of A Jockey" feature the main characters' talking to their alter-egos through a mirror.
- Rod Serling's Night Gallery, episode "The Painted Mirror".
- Gideon of Charmed has a magic mirror that connects his world to a Mirror Universe.
- Several times on The X-Files.
- In "Syzygy" monster-of-the-week teen girls used a mirror to summon up Bloody Mary as described in the folklore section.
- "Elegy" had one of the messages written on the mirror in blood.
- Every crime scene in "Chimera" involved a broken mirror or shiny surface so that the MOTW could not actually see her true self when she was murdering.
- One of Gaia Online's more interesting Random Item Generators was a handheld Mirror called The Dark Reflection, that transported the user into a Mirror Universe. (Complete with Mirror NPCs and Mirror Items). The Mirror was released as an equippable item as one of the grand prizes.
Myths And Religion
- Found in Japanese mythology, with Amaterasu's Yata no Kagami, supposedly part of the Japanese Imperial regalia. Quite possibly the Ur Example, unless we can find an older one.
- Subverted in Mirror of Matsuyama. A dying mother who lived in the mountains of Matsuyama gave her little daughter a mirror and told her it's a magical one that would let her see her mom's ghost when she was out of this world. It was just a normal mirror, though, with no powers; the mother had said so to give the child some emotional support for when she died. It kinda worked, as the very sheltered girl believeed for several years that the image in said mirror was her mom's ghost, not her own reflection (sorta an echo of what her mom did when she got the mirror as a gift from her husband, too), but her father and stepmother were very confused as she didn't tell them anything and they mistakenly believed that either she was conceited and enamoured with her own looks, or was a witch who wanted to use the mirror for evil spells.
- In the Voodoo religion, mirrors are seen as powerful religious objects that makes it possible to see into the spirit world and for the spirits to see into our.
- Dungeons & Dragons has had a lot of magic mirrors through the years. Here are a few of them:
- Mirror of Opposition: when a creature looks into it, a duplicate creature appears and attacks the original. In one version, the duplicate's personality is the opposite of the original.
- Barlithian's Mystical Mirror: (1) when something is in front of it, the reflection shows the thing's true nature. (2) It can be used as a Crystal Ball. (3) It can repair any damage to itself.
- Mirror of Curing: can heal damage.
- Flaming Mirror of Tenh: allows travel to the Elemental Plane of Fire.
- Mirror of Life Trapping: any creature looking at its reflection is trapped inside it.
- Malto's Mirror of Retention: records (and can play back) events that occur in front of it.
- Not-So-Funny Funhouse Mirror: as a Mirror of Opposition, but the duplicate has a distorted body.
- Mirror of Recall: gives the user retroactive photographic and phonographic memory.
- Mirror of Reversal: allows passage to a bizarre dimension where everything is reversed.
- Skarda's Mirror: actually a portal to a mirror-walled pocket demiplane, described in its own adventure module.
- Mirror of Mind Switch: Swaps the mind of whoever looks into it with the person holding it. Actually a hand-mirror.
- Classic one is, of course, scrying mirror, which is also the second function of the Mirror of Mental Prowess.
- There was even a Shout Out — "Isolde's Answer" spell that allowed to see a scene in 5+ mile radius as an answer to one question using any scrying device. And yes, asking a mirror "Who's The Fairest of Them All?" * was one of examples *.
- Fetches from Changeling The Lost, as part of their very nature, have powers over mirrors and associated elements. They can produce a shard of glass that serves as a knife from any mirror, or force a changeling to perceive everyone as wearing their own face, or trap a changeling in a mirror world, or touch a mirror and produce a clone.
- Another New World of Darkness book, Proverbial Monsters, features a creature called a Miraree that gains access to this world when a mirror is broken, and can manifest through other nearby mirrors to drain people of their Life Energy.
- Featured multiple times in Kings Quest.
- In Kings Quest I, Merlin's Mirror, one of the treasures of Daventry, was a magical mirror, one of the three treasures Graham sought to collect.
- In Kings Quest II, the mirror shows the imprisoned Valanice to king Graham.
- In Kings Quest III, the mirror finally clears up after a long period of darkness has passed.
- In Kings Quest IV, the fairy Genesta first contacted Rosella through it, launching the events of the game.
- In Kings Quest VI, this mirror revealed to Alexander the peril of Cassima in the intro, again launching the events of the game; and yet another magic mirror is given to Alexander by the Beast from "Beauty And The Beast", and later used to win a duel with Death by making him cry. The mirror has a second use in the bare-bones ending, where it reveals the princess to be a fake at the royal wedding.
- In Kings Quest Mask Of Eternity, the mirror shows King Graham what transpires in the Realm of the Sun and later allows Connor his first glimpse of his enemy Lucreto.
- In the Extended Universe novel King's Quest: The Floating Castle, the mirror is clouded by the arrival of an Evil Sorcerer, and the sorcerer's castle also has a set of mirrors which can be used to view between or even travel between each other.
- Aside from the Mirror Shield which may or may not count, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past had a Magic Mirror which functioned as a Warp Zone between the Dark World and the Light World.
- Ōkami uses magic mirrors both as Save Points and teleportation nodes.
- The classical image of monsters and evil twins breaking out from inside a mirror is quite well-known. Case in point: Castlevania has a variety of animated skeletons and demons that emerge from mirrors.
- In The King of Fighters, Chizuru Kagura is the holder of the Mirror of Yata, which grants her Master of Illusion and Barrier Maiden powers. The Mirror is stolen by Ash Crimson later, and it's returned to her when Ash gets himself Ret Goned.
- She can give it the normal use if it's needed, though. In KOF: KYO she's seen watching over Iori and Kyo's Battle in the Rain through the Yata Mirror without needing to be there,
- In Quest For Glory I there is a magic mirror that can be used to reflect spells back upon the caster. It's of course an important object in beating the game.
- One house on the Glider PRO CD, "In The Mirror", is themed around these—some helpful, some harmful, others just cool-looking.
- In Ultima IX the destruction of Skara Brae could be seen by activating a red, smoky mirror in Lord British's chambers, after which the mirror shattered.
- The mirror from Snow White appears in Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep. For gameplay reasons, it is given the previously unseen ability to suck people into a pocket dimension within itself where the mirror's spirit can physically harm the protagonists.
- The opening scene from the 1936 Mickey Mouse short "Thru the Mirror", in which Mickey has fallen asleep reading Through the Looking-Glass and his dream self decides to go check out the mirror above his fireplace mantle, is used in the intro of Epic Mickey as an explanation for how Mickey ended up in Yen Sid's tower and accidentally created the Shadow Blot and caused the Thinner Disaster. The short itself is also featured as a 2D "travel zone" level in-game.
- In the Dragon Age franchise, these are called Eluvians - relics of elven culture before The Empire enslaved them. Their powers include seeing over great distances and acting as a portal between the physical world and the Fade - or somewhere beyond even that. An Eluvian cursed by the Darkspawn Taint features in the Dalish origin story, and the Grey Warden Duncan shatters it to keep it from claiming more victims. In the Witch Hunt DLC, Morrigan activates one and uses it to disappear on a mysterious mission. In Dragon Age II, Merrill's goal is to fix the one from the Dalish origin even if it means using Blood Magic. Circumstances ensure we never learn if it could have worked.
- The magic mirror in Shrek shows Lord Farquaad prospective princesses with which to marry and become a king, done in the style of a 70s dating game show. In the first sequel, it's used as a television set.
- Its appearance is the same as in Disney's Snow White, or a parody thereof.
- Xiaolin Showdown has the Reversing Mirror, which had the power to reverse the powers of any Shen Gong Wu it was used against. This was a rather loose definition, as its real powers could range from reversing effects (like heavy armor becoming light as a feather) to reversing the direction of offensive attacks (like a projectile or strike being turned the way it came) to whatever the plot required (rather than some magic glasses that showed the future showing the past, it showed a bizarro "opposite" future where the hero was evil).
- Gargoyles had Titania's mirror in an episode named, interestingly, The Mirror. Unclear exactly what it did, it mostly seemed to be a focus for Puck's power. It was also used for by Demona to summon and capture Puck, and it exhibited teleportation capabilities.
- In Disney's Beauty and the Beast, the Beast gives Belle a magic mirror that will show her anything she wishes.
- ReBoot's Hexadecimal had a mirror that was powered by her own viral energy. She used it for communication, spying on the Supercomputer, and when broken it released a web creature into Mainframe.