aka: Snake Or Naga Or Lamia Oh My
Who are you calling limbless?
A Snake Person, Naga, or Lamia is a liminal being usually depicted with a human head, arms and torso with the added twist of a snake's tail similar in many respects to a mermaid
, and some genies
. Beings like this can also involve more exotic bodily configurations such as wings
or changing the ratio of snake to human. Also, for some reason, most examples are femalenote
Most of the time such Snake People are depicted as slithering upright like a cobra (as in, a cobra who's about to strike) instead of slithering face-down with their whole body.
depicted this way.
Snake People may have some aquatic ability as well, either being superior swimmers or actually able to breathe underwater, in which case they would be a subtrope of Unscaled Merfolk
, with the best of both worlds. They may or may not talk in Sssssnake Talk
. Similarly, they are often evil because Reptiles Are Abhorrent
, but like many other Cute Monster Girls
, Dark Is Not Evil
may come into play. Or they were already villains who just turned into snakes
Traditionally, Lamia was a Lybian queen who ate children, but John Keats
might have turned her into a snake woman even though she wasn't originally
, possibly combining her with Lilith, who was associated with the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
In Hinduism and Hindu Mythology
, Nagas (more properly nagin or nagini if a female) are a very diverse group of snake-related entities, ranging from nature spirits to gods. Perhaps influencing the number of Snake People who are Multi Armed and Dangerous
Compare with Lizard Folk
, The Reptilians
, and Gorgeous Gorgon
when the Snake Person is hot. Because Snakes Are Sexy
, this happens quite often even though snake people are, like mermaids, frequently subject to the Mermaid Problem
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Anime & Manga
- The title protagonist of Vampire Princess Miyu fights against a terrifying snake woman in one of the episodes of the TV series.
- The twins Kinka and Ginka, who have human-looking torsos and very long snake tails which end up encircling each other's. They are from a species of Youkai always hatching with two heads, but usually with the stronger one devouring the other head early on.
- The early villainess Mistress Centipede was a centipede variation
- In Pet Shop of Horrors, one of the very first "pets" was a basilisk that looked like a beautiful snake woman. This particular variety was albino — but looking into her eyes meant instant death.
- In Claymore, Ophelia's Awakened form looks like one of these, only she has what are like gigantic blades coming out of her human-looking back.
- In Naruto, Orochimaru, and later Kabuto as well.
- Panzer World Galient in the third OVA have Jashin-Hei and Humongous Mecha with half-snake part.
- Daily Life with Monster Girl is an Ecchi/Harem manga in which the main character has to be a host towards a female Lamia who constantly makes advances on him.
- The whole Ananta Sura Clan from Kubera is this... and manages to cover the whole spectrum of snakey-reptileness and peopleness, sometimes in one individual, depending on the age and type of Sura in question. The younger and lesser Sura are mode-locked in the snakiest forms, though.
- In Amatsuki the demon Byakuroku usually appears as half beautiful man and half white snake.
- Minor Spider-Man villain Yith.
- Hellboy's Hecate turns into one.
- There is an obscure Marvel Comics villain called Slither who is, as you might guess, a snake-man.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Fighting Fantasy
- One of the many oddities/dangers of Port Blacksand is the so-called Serpent Queen, a woman whose head and neck have been replaced with those of a giant snake.
- The supplement Out of the Pit describes the Caarth (and their elite warriors, the Serpent Guards), a whole civilization of Snake People living in the endless desert wastes of the world of Titan. They're rumored to be responsible of the curse laid on the Serpent Queen.
- In the Lone Wolf series, Darklord Taktaal is described as having the body of a snake, covered by disease-ridden hair. He also has clawed hands and a smooth, ice-white head with a muzzle filled with rows of razor-sharp fangs.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe has other lesser known snake-like races such as the Ipharian-Da'Lor, who have a similar body structure to the Thisspiasians minus the excess facial hair and second pair of arms.
- A naga-like one of these (called "Man-Serpents", having human heads with snakes for hair on purely serpent bodies, to differentiate themselves from "Serpent-Men", who have scaly human bodies with the heads of snakes) appears in the Conan the Barbarian story "The God in the Bowl," sent in a large jar to a man who dabbled with secrets he shouldn't have touched.
- There are no nagas in Harry Potter. However, the legend may be known — Voldemort's snake familiar is called Nagini, which is either a reference to the naga or to Kipling.
- Xanth, Fantasy Kitchen Sink that it is, is home to a race of Nagas, the princess of which ends up as a Love Interest to one of the characters.
- In the Star Trek Novel Verse, there's a race known as Resaurians, who are essentially snakes with upper grasping limbs. They're usually quite friendly.
- In The Echorium Sequence, one of the four races of "half-creature" are naga: half human, half water snake, and obsessed with shiny objects.
- The Nyissa, especially the queen, in The Belgariad
- Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
- Episode "The Wrong Path". The title character fights the She Demon, which has the upper half of a woman and the lower half of a snake.
- Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters (and specifically of the She-Demon) also appears half woman/half snake. Sort of, but it's a bit of a stretch. She had serpent tails/tentacles for her arms and legs, but she did have two of them coming out of her hips.
- One of these appeared briefly in Sanctuary, a cunning predator that had been accidentally released in the Sanctuary.
- Machida, the snake-thing from "Reptile Boy" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer counts... he has a humanoid head and arms, and the rest is all snake.
Myths & Religion
- The king of Nagas is either the Vedic god of storms, Varuna, or a being called the Nagaraja, and they live in the seventh underworld, Patala, its capital known as Bogavat. They are nature spirits associated with water — rainfall, lakes, rivers, wells, seas and springs — and will bring droughts and floods if provoked.
- Naga occur frequently in the Mahabharata. Even though the text proclaims them to be the "persecutors of all creatures" and they are powerful, poisonous creatures that are hellbent on biting other creatures, the naga we see in the story vary between good and evil.
- The Buddhist tradition, on the other hand, tends to associate the naga with whatever dragon-like deity exists in the local culture, such as the Chinese long or Tibetan klu. The Buddhist naga is usually depicted as a cobra, sometimes with several heads, or as a human with a snake behind its head, indicating that it shapeshifted into a human form. The most famous naga in Buddhism is Mucalinda, the naga that protected the Buddha. When you see the Buddha meditating under the hood of a coiled cobra, that is Mucalinda.
- Greek Mythology
- Echinda, the mother of all monsters, is something of this. She's depicted as having anywhere from one to two snake tails. She is technically called a dragon-lady or drakaina, but she comes close to being this.
- The story of Lamia, Queen of Libya, a woman driven to eat her children, sometimes depicts the title character as half snake.
- Also Kekrops, an early king of Athens who was depicted as being Closer to Earth by having the lower body of a snake.
- In Thailand, the Naga is a Pluto-analogue, an underworld deity associated with wealth. Another related being is a dragon that lives in the Mekong River, where the Naga Fireball phenomenon occurs.
- The Malay believe nagas are multiple-headed dragons.
- Laosians view the naga as sea serpents with beaks.
- Cambodians believe they are descended from the daughter of the King of the Nagas, a race of snake creatures with a vast empire under the Pacific Ocean. Seven-headed Nagas decorate Angkor Wat, hinting at this union.
- In Chinese Mythology the primordial goddess Nuwa, who created humans, is often depicted with the body of a serpent and the head of a woman.
- Speaking of the Chinese, there's always Madame White Snake and her sister. They even had a Western opera done up in Boston.
- Melusine was supposed to have been like this, though they are often depicted with two tails instead of the standard one.
- The snake-headed Roman deity Glycon, worshipped by Alan Moore, is closer to the trope, as are certain depictions of the serpent in the garden of Eden, sometimes shown with a woman's head.
- Nure-onna are Youkai in Japanese folklore that have a woman's face and a serpent's body.
- One of the aliens in Big Bang Bar is a giant serpent with a cartoonish humanoid head.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Nagas (snake with a human head) and Marilith demons (Always Female, human head and torso, snake tail, and six arms; pictured above).
- The yuan-ti mix human and snake features to a varying extent, ranging from almost entirely human with a few snakelike parts to being entirely snakelike.
- Their ancestors, the Sarrukh, from the Forgotten Realms.
- And the Lillend, a rare explicitly good-aligned example, who has wings along with the female human torso & arms.
- Then there are the Salamanders, who are a fire-version of this (they have arms, reptilian heads however).
- The Jarkung in Dragon magazine #14 and #37. Snake-like body, 2 arms, long tail with a knob on the end.
- Medusae in 2e had a 10% female only minority who were of the "Lamia style"; human from the waist up, giant snake from the waist down. In 3e and 4e, though, they are fully humanoid Snake People, having no tails, but definitely reptilian features, scaly skin and, of course, snakes for hair.
- The Followers of Set in Vampire: The Masquerade acquire the power to become this at advanced levels.
- The Horror named Ysrthgrathe in the supplement Scourge Unending.
- Earthdawn also has its own Nagas, as seen in Creatures of Barsaive.
- The Lexicon (Atlas of the Lost World of Atlantis). The tropical jungle of Yallock had the Nagaraja, who were half human, half serpent.
- One of the races (and a former playable faction) in Legend of the Five Rings,the Naga are an ancient race of snake-folk. Despite their alien nature (and the assumption of many characters early on that they were demons) the Naga were dedicated to the destruction of The Foul (their race's term for creatures of the Shadowlands and Lying Darkness).
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Nagah weresnakes turn into this in their warforms. Unlike most examples, this is not meant to be sexualized; similar to other werecreatures in the game, their heads are fully snakelike, and their humanoid torsos have the same scale pattern as the rest of them.
- In Changeling: The Dreaming, merfolk from House Melsinee have the lower halves of airbreathing sea creatures, which can include snakes.
- Feng Shui has the Snake Men, just one of the many demons the Lotus like to summon, which are not to be confused with Ascended-style transformed snakes, which are descended from snakes which transformed themselves into humans.
- The Lemurians in the Freedom City setting for Mutants & Masterminds. Evil snake-men who worship an Eldritch Abomination.
- Bulldogs! features the naga-like Saldrallans, who are not only one of the core player races, but make up one of the setting's two rival empires.
- One of the very first Champions of Chaos for Warhammer was Dechala the Denied One, a Slaanesh-worshipping High Elf who had been corrupted into a very Marilith-like form (six arms, all carrying swords, and snake-tail for a lower torso). This very similar look to the Dungeons & Dragons creature and her absence from more recent editions of the game might not be unrelated.
- Lamia, the first boss in The Battle of Olympus.
- Deis/Bleu from the Breath of Fire series.
- EverQuest 2: The Nizari. There's also the Onaya and Ca'Na as aquatic variations.
- Warcraft / World of Warcraft
- Warcraft 3's naga are this. The males are more monstrous, the females more human-like with four arms. They show up again in most beachside zones of World of Warcraft.
- There are also venomlords, trolls who have overdosed on the mojo of their native snake Loa (animal spirit) and turn into a more realistic looking snake naga than the actual nagas (who look more dragon-like than snake-like).
- The Forgotten from Guild Wars Prophecies and the Nagas from Factions.
- Chrono Trigger has the Naga-ette. You can find an item called "Naga-ette Bromide", which is in fact an erotic photo of said creature.
- The Final Fantasy series occasionally includes Lamia as an enemy type.
- The upgraded version are often called Liliths.
- The very first game has the Fiend of Fire, Kary/Marilith as a powerful, multi-limbed snake person. It's the game's second Wake Up Call Boss (the first being Astos).
- A great deal of these exist in Shin Megami Tensei — naga (usually portrayed as male), lamia, gorgons... Shin Megami Tensei II even had Betelguise in snake-person form as a boss.
- The aptly named Snakemen from X-COM: Enemy Unknown. They are infamous among X-Com veterans, mostly in part of their race's terror unit, the Chryssalid.
- The Sanctuary faction introduced in Heroes of Might and Magic VI. Also Nagas and Medusas from earlier games.
- The RPG Arx Fatalis features a friendly race of snake-women who served as librarians and advisors to the king. They were not all good though: the human princess was demanded to join them without giving her (or her father, the king) much say in the matter.
- Age of Mythology depicts Medusa this way, and gives them a bow as well. That sounds familliar...
- Dungeon Crawl has Nagas as one of the many playable species. They are semi-humanoid with a snake tail instead of legs, are stealthy, can spit and resist poison and are good at poison magic.
- Dark Souls has the snakemen in Sen's Fortress. Unlike most other examples listed here, though, these snakemen have the upper torsos of snakes and the lower bodies of humans.
- Shows up from time to time in Roguelikes as a playable class. Notable is the Echidna in Hydra Slayer. More fragile than a human character in a game where being able to kill a level-appropriate monster quickly - or at all - is never certain and the only source of healing is killing, too slow on their lower body to run without being brutalized every "step" of the way, and they start (like humans) only able to carry two weapons. But where any trained human is ambidextrous, an echidna is (as the page image would imply) multidextrous; their "basic attack against one target" can be executed with any subset of held weapons. With enough arms and a versatile set of weapons, this race can master the quick kill or stun.
- Some mentions of the Tsaesci describe them as this in The Elder Scrolls. However, thus far they have not appeared in the games, only in the lore (due to living on a different continent).
- Isis from Ragnarok Online.
- The Deceivers from Diablo III. They can even take the appearance of a human for a while.
- Monster Girl Quest is loaded with lamias of different varieties, most notably Alice, the lead female character and current Monster Lord who is distinguished by her purple skin.
- Several Dungeons & Dragons-inspired webcomics features the races of Snake People mentionned above.
- In The Wotch, both the title character◊ and the writer Anne Onymous have been portrayed as shapechanged into the form of a naga.
- Nagas (both armed and armless) are just one of the local species of Petting Zoo People in Crossworlds. Apparently both male and females have Non-Mammal Mammaries. All There in the Manual, or at least in the background information on the site: the naga have a caste system, and a naga's status is based on the number of arms, with the eight-armed being the leaders down to the two-armed being the peasants, and armless being an "untouchable" caste. Armless Naga gain telekinesis to allow them to manipulate objects and are commonly gifted with sorcery.
- Brooke from Eerie Cuties, of the shapeshifting kind. She's a Melusine.
- Zoophobia's Latika is a naga.
- In MeatShield, the inhabitants of Vedris, the City of Serpents. Extract from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia:
The Church of Vasra, God of Serpents and Secrets, is headquartered here. Long ago, a fundamentalist movement in Vedris prompted the faithful to undergo magical transformations into snake-human hybrids to prove their devotion. This magical alteration has bred true and now nearly 50% of the population are snakepeople.
- Karin-dou 4koma has Sara, a white snake youkai. She has the lower body of a snake and on one occasion gets slit pupils and a snake tongue while angry. Ironically, her boyfriend is a toad youkai, who's a little unsettled by Sara's regular, loving remarks about him looking delicious and wanting to eat him up...
- "Vampies" in Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends.
- Nagas appear in The Secret Saturdays.
- Conan the Adventurer had a naga that was less a human with the lower half of a snake, more like a large snake with small arms and a humanoid face. The Serpent-Men are examples of the rare "fully humanoid" version, having snake-like facial features (including fangs, tongue and breathing tube), scaly skin and legs, without any hint of a tail.
- There was a episode of Aladdin where Jasmine began turning into a venomous naga, and Aladdin had to go on a quest to find the cure.
- Batman Beyond has an Aesop villian become some kind of naga with stuff added before going Clipped Wing Angel.
- There is an episode of TaleSpin where the villain is a cobra fellow, which is interesting because he is this while clothed, but loses his outfit at the end, and ends up somehow just a big snake.
- Cedric, The Dragon from the first season of W.I.T.C.H., is one of these in his true form, though he spends a lot of his time shapeshifted as a human. Interestingly, his race all seem to be shapechangers, but aren't all Snake People- the only other one shown, Miranda, changes into an anthropomorphic spider.
- In an early episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Carl picks a mummy's headdress out of the garbage and shows it off to the other characters, completely unaware to the fact his legs have turned into a snake's tail.
- The skeleton mooks from Ninjago have been phased out in favor of Serpentine later in the series, which the name tells you everything you need to know. As of now, they've become trapped underground again by the next Big Bad.