Mythical motifs are similar to Animal Motifs
, but with mythical creatures being used as symbols. They, like animals, can be used to underline something important in the plot or to convey a character's personality. A particularly tough and quick-tempered character may be compared to a dragon, or a MacGuffin
or delicate-but-powerful or wise character may be compared to a unicorn.
It can also be the use of mythology as a motif.
Here is a partial list of mythical creatures:
- Basilisk and Cockatrice: Two related creatures, often related to a rooster and/or salamander; nobody knows what they look like because anyone who meets their gaze dies instantly.
- Dragon: (Western) Solitary, violent, fire breathing, greedy, dangerous. May eat people or guard hoards of treasure.
- Dragon: (Eastern) Power; strength; nobility; male; likes to play Hide and Seek with tigers; generally benevolent.
- Griffin: Part lion, part eagle; noble, generally. Symbol of kingship/holy power.
- Gorgon: Hideous monsters, causes people to turn to stone (from the Medusa myth).
- Hellhound: Either a vicious hunter, a vicious guardian or a Portent of Doom.
- Hydra: Many headed creature, where if you cut off one head, two more grow in its place.note
- Kitsune: Illusions, mystery, trickery, cunning and wisdom. Also associated with femininity, despite their reputation of being males who turn into attractive human females.
- Ouroboros: A serpent eating its own tail: Infinity, alchemy, death and rebirth; lives at the edge of the world or at its base.
- Pegasus (or winged horses in general): Freedom, high ideals, thought. Can be called "horse of the poets" thanks to his connection with Athena and the Muses, so is also linked with imagination, and writers in particular.
- Phoenix: A flaming bird capable of rising again from the ashes: Death and rebirth; fire; eternal life; (Eastern) female.
- Sphinx: Cunning, mystery, riddles, desires. Terribly mysterious.
- Unicorn: Purity, rarity, magic, power (which goes against tradition, 'cause in heraldry they are chained down because they're violent MFs). Usually the last of its kind. Often associated with virgins. Being a heraldic beast of the United Kingdom, they can be used to represent Englishness.
Anime and Manga
- In Mobile Suit Gundam, the Unicorn is the symbol of the Cool Ship White Base. Later on in life, Gundam pilot Amuro Ray adopts it as his own.
- Most of the guilds in Fairy Tail have a mythical motif in their name, including the titular Fairy Tail (fairies), Quatro Cerberos, Blue Pegasus, Lamia Scale, Grimoire Heart (Devils), Phantom Lord and recently Sabertooth and Mermaid Heel.
- From Kill la Kill, Satsuki and Ragyou Kiryuuin being associated with dragons, with the Japanese mythology of that being that dragons are perceived to be divine animals, the which either serve the gods or are gods themselves, especially in the case of Ragyou.
- Aside from Kuwabara, the members of Team Urameshi from YuYu Hakusho all have Mythical Motifs.
- The most obvious is Kurama having a connection to Kitsune as the guy actually was a kitsune in his former life before being reincarnated into a human. Kurama is quiet, secretive, cunning, and wise, with a feminine nature and appearance.
- Yusuke Urameshi has a Phoenix motif, with his spirit animal being a phoenix and his Battle Aura taking the shape of one when he decides to let loose. Yusuke first acquired his powers after dying and coming back to life at the start of the series.
- Hiei has a Dragon motif, with his attacks being named after dragons or to outright summon a dragon and throw it at his enemy. Oddly for a show so steeped in Eastern myth, his particular flavor of dragon is strictly Western; brooding, solitary, violent, and burning everything in its path. Hiei fits the motif like a glove.
- Takumi Kuzuryu in Tantei Gakuen Q uses dragon in many of his works. In-universe, he's depicted as a handsome, elegant, genius noble man, traits his known descendants, Ryu Amakusa for example, supposedly inherit. Those he considers legal descendants will contain kanji "Ryu" in their name, further solidifying the theme. This is a hint for the climax's reveal that King Hades, while being Takumi Kuzuryu's (illegitimate) son, is not Ryu's biological grandfather.
- HYDRA, the ersatz SPECTRE (who incidentally use the very similar motif of the octopuss), in the Marvel Universe.
- Phoenix from X-Men. She is a nurturing, subtly powerful figure with a hot temper, and holds untapped power that the others around her cannot quite match or comprehend.
- In a few different Batman stories, The Riddler tries to give himself a Sphinx motif; being a crafty and wise riddle-given who kills those that get it wrong. In the Year Zero storyline, Batman deduces that while holding the city hostage, The Riddler is hiding underneath a Sphinx statue at the Gotham museum.
- Depending on how you interpret Blade Runner, a Unicorn motif can be assigned to Rick Deckard, Rachael, or the both of them. Unlike the rest of the cast with regular Animal Motifs.
- Vlad and dragons in Dracula Untold, from where he, his clan and his castle take their names.
- The murders in Sherlock Holmes are based of the parts of a Sphinx, the migget-the face of a man, the Sir Thomas the tail of a bull, the American ambassador the wings of an eagle, and the British parliament the body of a lion.
- Mayland Long (Oolong) from Tea With The Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy.
- Several characters in The Circus of Doctor Lao.
- The Ordo Hydra, another conspiracy group, in the Inquistion War Trilogy by Ian Watson ( a series of Warhammer 40000 novels). They are a secret group in the already secret group of the Ordo Malleus who are already part of the "mostly ignored of by the general population" group, the Inquisition. They are really secretive.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire the Targaryen have a three headed dragon as their coat of arms. The dragon heads represented Aegon, and his sisters, as well as their three dragons. House Stark has a direwolf as their sigil, while House Manderly has a Merman. The old Ghiscari Empire had the Harpy as their sigil, the cities of Slaver's Bay kept it as their heritage.
- Invoked in Ender's Game. The various armies in the Battle School are given animal motifs (though there is mention of a Phoenix and Manticore armies), until Ender becomes old enough to command an army of his own. Rather than assigning him a preexisting army, the administrators create an entirely new one for him staffed with inexperienced soldiers and dub it the "Dragon Army." With Ender in command it soon takes on an unprecedented winning streak (despite increasingly-unfair odds) and invokes the hatred of every other army in the school. The Dragon army is both mighty and has hoards of would-be heroes trying to "slay" it.
- Especially common in Mexican Lucha Libre. It's hard to think where else Dark Unicorn and Mermaid Warrior would legitimately connect with crowds without aid of comedy or years of buildup.
- The Dragonmarked Houses in Eberron all have mythological beasts as their crests.
- The Alpha Legion from Warhammer 40,000 have the hydra as their symbol, representing the doctrine of autonomous operation and the ability to have multiple fronts who can act even without chains of command (the "head" being removed).
- The Thousand Sons, on the other hand, use the Ouroboros to signify their mystical nature.
- In the Iron Kingdoms, the Retribution of Scyrah fields myrmidons named after mythical beasts and often designed after the traits of their namesake ; the Phoenix is a perfect example with its regenerating force field and ability to bathe its surroundings in a roaring inferno.
- In Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, painfully isolated Laura identifies with her glass unicorn figurine of the horse-with-a-horn variety; when a young man dances with her and accidentally breaks off its horn, she states that he has enabled it to finally fit in with the other horses. Unfortunately, this Hope Spot is all too brief in the play (as with most Tennessee Williams plays).
- The title character of Decrypting Rita has dragons, primarily evident with Rita-1 (who dates Carol-1 in a dragon-like chassis) and Rita-3 (who is a dragoness).