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The Fair Folk
They will not go gently into the night; they are the night.

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen
We dare not go a-hunting
For fear of little men.
The Fairies, William Allingham (1824 - 1889)

Modern society has lived with the Disneyfied version of Fairies for so long — the Fairy Godmothers of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, Tinker Bell in Peter Pan — that it seems hard to imagine that some would consider Fairies evil.

And yet, some of them were. The Fairies of old weren't cute little bewinged Pixies who fluttered happily around humans. Elves didn't make children toys or live deep in forests with no interaction with mortals. At best, they would interact with humans with either no thought to the consequences of their actions (Little People who put Rip Van Winkle to sleep)note  or delight in the mess they're making of mortal lives (Oberon, Puck, and the rest in A Midsummer Night's Dream). At worst, they're like The Joker with magic; otherworldly horrors who kidnap humans for torture and rape — or sometimes even worse things ("Tam Lin"). The Fair Folk almost always live in the Land of Faerie, and may be depicted as an Inhumanly Beautiful Race.

For more information, including much of what used to be this page's description, please see the Analysis tab.

In a manner of speaking, the old version of the Faerie has been replaced with Alien Abduction. In both cases, you have creatures who are ineffable and don't understand humanity, who randomly abduct humans, play with them, and return them with Time Loss and occasionally strange powers/afflictions. Periodically, there are tales of those who have dealt with them and benefited, but for the most part, mundanes are merely their playthings.

Frequently found in concert with Grimmification. Compare and contrast Fairy Companion, Witch Species, Our Elves Are Better, Our Fairies Are Different, Our Goblins Are Different, Our Mermaids Are Different, and All Trolls Are Different. See also Changeling Tale, a specific subtrope having to do with fairy abduction, doppelgangers, and the like. Not to be confused with Changeling Fantasy, which is a type of Cinderella Situation.

The Wild Hunt is an often-overlapping trope from Celtic Mythology. Youkai is a rough Japanese equivalent. The Greys is more modern trope with many similarities. An extreme example may be an Eldritch Abomination or Humanoid Abomination, not least because "eldritch" originally meant "elven".


Examples:

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    Anime And Manga 
  • Durarara!! subverts this trope with Celty Sturluson, an Irish Dullahan desperately searching for her missing head. At first she may look intimidating and a little bit sinister, but soon we discover she is genuinely a very kind, gentle, and caring person. For an Unseelie Fae she is actually one of the most friendly and affable characters in the series. She is also afraid of space aliens. As Shinra points out, part of this may have to do with the fact that Celty's an amnesiac Dullahan. She might not have been so nice if circumstances were different (quarter-Dullahan Ruri Hijiribe, for example, is a serial killer with a monster fetish).
  • The Guardians of the Tower are known in the legends as Fae. Not only are they all sorts of weird looking (Headon is a bipedal bunny with eyes in his Slasher Smile), they can be rather manipulative and are implied to plot the destruction of the current ruling system.
  • The Diclonii from Elfen Lied are heavily influenced by the Fair Folk and are in fact the "elves" from the title. They reproduce by secretly altering humans so that any children they have will be born as diclonii, and they are all very beautiful or handsome. In feudal Japan, they used to live like nobles, ruling over normal humans until they were hunted almost to extinction. They are not particularly evil, but when they grow older, they develop telekinetic abilities with which they almost always accidentally kill their human families and only survive by becoming deadly killers. Except the only remaining queen, Lucy, who can give birth to pureblood diclonii and has the unstoppable instinct to Kill All Humans.
  • Kaori Yuki's Fairy Cube is probably best example of this trope being used properly in manga. From the protagonist's Fairy Companion debating whether or not to eat him in the beginning, to a Tuatha Dunann being weak to a pair of scissors (and being unable to cross fresh water), to the presence of changelings replacing children, a lot of classic fairy-lore is involved. Granted, some of it is modernized (said fairy companion is played as more of a non-romantic Tsundere, for example), but the effort is easily appreciable.
  • Berserk plays this trope dead straight with Rosine, a fairy-like Apostle who likes to carry kids off in order to turn them into her creepy little pseudo-elves in a rather twisted version of the Changeling Fantasy. The real Elves of the series, such as Puck, are more the benevolent version.
  • In Saint Seiya, Fairies are malevolent butterfly-like creatures who dwell in the Underworld and work alongside Hades and his army.
  • Spirited Away has all the usual elements; abductions, curses placed upon mortals who eat the food of spirits, evil beings who enslave mortals by stealing their names, basic stuff. (Well, it's a spectacular movie that expands on the basic themes, but the themes are still there.)
  • In Ah! My Goddess The Movie, the local Dark Magical Girl Morgan Le-Fay is explicitely mentioned to be a fairy. She is also The Dragon to Celestine, the anti villainous Big Bad. Though she's more lonely and broken than properly evil.
  • In One Piece, the so-called "fairies" of Dressrosa go around stealing people's valuables and causing property damage in urban areas. They are actually a race of little people called the Tontatta, who do their best never to be seen, and the Living Toys who also inhabit Dressrosa created and perpetuated the belief of the fairies. Their intentions are to observe and gather supplies needed to fight Don Quixote Doflamingo, the dictator of Dressrosa, and the Tontatta and Toys are allied with each other. The Tontatta provide the military might while the Toys manipulate the public image of their actions.

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman by Neil Gaiman reinvigorated this trope for the modern era. The Sandman directly crosses over with a number of other comics, meaning that nasty elves also play a part in The Books of Magic, Hellblazer, and several other DC Universe series.
  • The female fairies in Proof look like cute little green people, but act like ferocious predators with huge appetites (e.g. after mating, the butterfly-sized female eats the male, who's about as tall as a house). Fortunately, these fairies are non-magical and an endangered species.
  • Hellboy. "The Corpse" has Hellboy exposing a changeling and performing a number of difficult tasks for it so that The Fair Folk will return the baby he replaced. The story ends with the fairies discussing how few children have been born to them lately and how they may eventually fade away, which likely inspired in part The Golden Army — see below under Film. Said changeling, seeking vengeance against Hellboy, becomes the driving force behind an army of fae seeking to restore the glory days. Restoring the good old days, or going out with a bang, they don't seem to be picky. Resurrecting an ancient sorceress named the Queen of Blood (aka, Nimue) to lead the army adds destroying the world to the list.
  • In Marvel Comics, the fairy residents of Otherworld are similar to the DC versions. In particular Wisdom and Captain Britain and MI-13 feature Oberon's daughter Tinkabelinos (yes...), who resembles a foul-mouthed cross between Boudicea and a punk rocker.
  • The Sheeda from the DC miniseries Seven Soldiers — fairies who live at the ass-end of time and who Time Travel back to raze human civilization and plunder its profits whenever humanity reaches a certain tech level.
  • Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things: the eponymous girl lives in a strange neighborhood, where abducted children are sold by goblins to the rulers of the Twilight Kingdom.
  • A late issue of Shade, the Changing Man focuses on a group of actors filming the type of Disneyfied, Bowdlerized fairy tale made for children, shot on location in Ireland. They get together at a pub to express contempt for the film and the irresistible amounts of money that compelled them to take part in it, and the older Irish natives talk about the terror and brutality of the real fairy tales they grew up with. When Shade arrives and enters a fairy ring, his madness amplifies the effect across the entire country, with results deadly and deranging. The madstorm also wipes out the entire film production, to the relief of the surviving actors.
  • The Fair Folk pop up from time to time in Tarot, although the miniature pixies/goblins are more common. Notably, they don't seem to have any of the weaknesses listed at the beginning of this article.

    Fairy Tales 
  • "Rumpelstiltskin": Rumpelstiltskin helps a young woman spin straw into gold, but then demands her first-born child as payment.
  • It's never explained in-story who or what The Pied Piper of Hamelin was, but some theorize he may have been one of the Fair Folk.
  • Joseph Jacobs's "Kate Crackernuts", the prince is forced to leave his bed every night to dance at the fairy hall, and is deathly ill because of it. (One notes that this was a folk explanation of TB — the victims wasted away because they got no sleep by night.) The same thing, albeit gender-flipped, happens in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
  • "Sleeping Beauty" is gifted by six fairy godmothers with beauty, grace, wit, and great skill in music, singing and dancing, then cursed out of spite to prick her hand on a spindle on her sixteenth year and die by a seventh fairy. The curse is softened, but cannot be completely removed, by the final fairy.
  • In the fairy tale "Childe Rowland", Burd Ellen is kidnapped by elves when she inadvertently runs around a church "widershins", and two of her brothers attempting to rescue her are trapped and enchanted by the King of Elfland, until Childe Rowland saves them.
  • In "The Jezinkas", the Jezinkas have the charming habit of gouging out men's eyes.

    Fanfiction 

    Folklore 
  • A lot of classic Scottish fairy tales have these, but just as easily have helpful fairies. They're probably most frequently seen in stories involving Changelings, but are seen as being somewhat interchangeable with trolls.
  • Medieval ballads have a whole subgenre dedicated to the fair folk. In a Scandinavian ballad, the hero denies the Elf-maiden's request to dance, because he is preparing his wedding. The Elf-maid then strikes him down, with fatal consequences.
  • The Curupira from Brazilian folklore looks like an amalgam between indigenous nature deities and European faeries. Regardless of his origins and his role as a fierce nature guardian, he is generally perceived as a wicked, demonic and sometimes downright sociopathic entity with beautiful red hair who can (and will) do anything to protect the animals and forests of his domains. He is particularly infamous for shape-shifting into attractive forms to lure abusive hunters and woodcutters deep into the forest. The footprints of his backward feet will ensure anyone who follows him will never find the way out from the woods and there he promptly starts a Wild Hunt, hunting the men down with a giant wild boar and ultimately destroying them.
  • Púca/ Pooka of Irish mythology. In the original mythology Púca were sociopathic shape-shifters, whose favoured form was a huge, black demonic horse with glowing yellow eyes and whose other forms always had dark colourations/clothing and were suitably wrong, who only behaved themselves one night of the year (the first of November, when they are tired after running riot at Samhain/Halloween), and couldn’t enter any dwelling uninvited or stand the touch of iron, but could stand outside your home and destroy your crops if you angered them and refused to come out and face them. When not riding along the hills and woodlands terrifying honest travelers, they blighted any crops left un-harvested after a certain amount to time. Or they demanded a share of all crops, newly made beer, or newly gathered milk, and if they didn't get it they’d trample fields, sour beer, render cattle barren (or used their shape-shifting ability to impregnate them with mutated offspring). In their horse form, they lured young men who were drunk on pilgrimage or profaning the Sabbath into trying to ride them out of machismo, at which point the Púca horse vanishes and the young man is either never seen again or changed forever, and tried to lure solitary milkmaids or other naive, lonely maids to an undisclosed fate in fairyland.
  • Despite modern depictions of them as undead, Ireland's local psychopomps, the banshee (more strictly bean sidhe) and dullahan, were actually faeries. At least the banshee was only interested in warning whatever clan she was associated with that one of their own would soon die. The dullahan? He actively chases you down. So, you have a Headless Horseman, probably riding a Headless Horse, carrying his necrotic-looking head under one arm and using the other to snap a human spine as a whip, dousing any would-be spies with blood (which marks them as next to get dragged to the afterlife), and whose mere presence makes every gate and door unlock, unbar, and open on their own, seeking you out. Hope you have some gold handy (a gold pin is enough), because that's the only thing that will save you (they're terrified of the stuff).
  • In a vein much similar to the above banshee and dullahan, there's also the Germanic wight which, contrary to its modern protrayal as an undead being, was originally a kind of dwarf or imp-like Fey.
  • The Tylwyth Teg of Welsh-Celtic folklore spent most of their time cheerfully kidnapping human children, presumably by way of recreational activity. According to ancient folk wisdom, the best way of killing a changeling child was to pop it in the oven.
  • The Nuckelavee of the Orkney Islands was an Eldritch Abomination of the purest sort. This sea-fairy resembled either a centaur or a horse and rider fused together, looked as if it had been flayed alive, had black blood coursing through distended yellow veins, fins for feet, one eye & a perpetually gaping mouth, was enraged by the scent of drying kelp (among other things), and rampaged across the land, killing crops, infecting livestock & eating people. Its one consistent weakness was an aversion to fresh water.
  • The Hulder of Scandinavian folklore, usually female and known for abducting young farm boys. Some of the hulders married mortal men, and lived with them, sometimes showing off badass strength, like straightening horse shoes. When vexed or betrayed, they could punish their suitors and maim them for life. Featured in the Norwegian movie Thale. She is usually wearing a cow´s tail (and is usually called a troll).
  • Early Icelandic law ruled that ships should take down their figureheads upon approaching the coast lest The Fair Folk be disturbed.
  • Legend has that there is a people, Huldufolk or underlings. The male huldre was apt to abduct young girls, even from an early age.
  • The Redcap/Powrie. A maliciously murderous fae who lived along the old Scots-English Border, he amused himself by randomly murdering people, sometimes devouring them, and all just so he could dip his hat in their blood. On the other hand, powries needed to keep their caps blood-suffused, lest they die. Possibly justifies the actions, but not the glee they take in them...
  • The caoineag is a Scottish version of the banshee. The problem? She also has a bit of the dullahan's philosophy—meaning she sometimes seeks out and kills people on her own initiative.
  • Stories of the "Little People" pervade the legends of many North American tribes. The Cherokee in particular have many legends surrounding them, and group these fairy-like beings into three clans; the Rock People, the Laurel People, and the Dogwood People. The Laurel people were considered to be friendly and playful, and often played games with children. The Dogwood People were stern, serious, and preferred to be left at peace. The Rock People, who dwelled in caves far away from human settlements, were feared, as it was believed that disturbing them would provoke their wrath, and whomever did so would have some horrible calamity befall them. Cherokee in more isolated regions to this day still believe in the legends, and it is said that if a child has an Imaginary Friend, this is actually the Little People playing with them.
  • The Seminole have stories of little people who live in hollow logs out in the woods. When lightning strikes a tree, it is thought to be the gods trying to fry the mischievous little things. They are best known for leading people astray in the woods, and you are never supposed to call to a companion who is out of sight. It is likely to be the little people responding to you in their voice to lead you astray.
  • Among the Yup'ik Eskimos, the word "ircinrraat" (singular ircinrraq) covers many beings which are like the European Fair Folk. The word also covers a specific species, about three feet tall: if you fight an ircinrraq, it is advised to fight them until they offer you a gift, which you should accept. They also like to mislead travelers, which can be a matter of life and death. One story involves a village of ircinrraat and a village of humans which were in close contact, so the humans were invited to an ircinrraq potlach of food, fur and dog feces. A particular poor family was advised by an ircinrraq friend to collect dog feces they found alongside the path. As they neared the village of the ircinrraat, the dog feces became fur and food, while the fur and foods of their neighbors transformed into dog feces. Another notable legend involves a man who saw the ircinrraat dancing, and watched for what seemed like a few minutes. When he looked away, a year had passed, just like in many European stories where joining a dance of the Fair Folk causes a great deal more time to pass than is experienced by the protagonist. An interesting aspect of ircinrraq stories is that many of them mention how, if you encounter these people, your mind will specifically refuse to acknowledge them as ircinrraat: this goes a long way towards explaining why the humans in these stories never act the way the other stories warned them to.
    • Qamulek is an individual creature in Yup'ik mythology, which can be inadvertently summoned by the best hunters. He is a bit of an Eldritch Abomination, with a face that cannot be described, and constantly drags a sack behind him. If a hunter kills the Qamulek, he will be warned not to look into the sack, with good reason: great hunters who look into this bag will become quiet, humble men until the day they die. They will retell the story of their encounter with the Qamulek, but never describe what they saw within the bag.
    • Orcas are often considered to be a variety of ircinrraat. It is warned that, if a man kills an orca, a member of his family will sicken and die within the year- the omen of death is similar to the banshee or bean nighe of Gaelic mythology, but the human has a more active role. It's also said that, if you're in the sea when a pod of orcas catch a beluga, you can give them an offering: if they accept it, they will give you a perfectly square slab of beluga oil in exchange.
    • The Cingssiigat are a variety of ircinrraat which are about a foot tall. They lurk around abandoned sod houses, and also have very useful objects that can be taken.
    • The Egassuayaq are a variety of ircinrrat with vertical eyes and sleeves that touch the ground. Their main activity is stealing fish from human trals.
  • Many other legendary monsters of Native American peoples would have fit in with the "fair folk" of older European folklore, but are more likely to be listed as monsters, giants or spirits in anthropological sources, which are still strongly rooted in Victorian-era European concepts.
  • Baba Yaga displays many qualities of Fair Folk in Russian storytelling, though is often referred to as the "Witch of the Iron Forest".
    • A lot of the less human friendly Russian nezhit and nechist such as the leshay, the vodyanoy, the kikimora and the like are quite similar to the less fair kinds of The Fair Folk.
  • Korean folklore has a class of supernatural beings called dok'aebis, who have unusually many similarities with the Fair Folk as shown in European folklore. They are ruled by an incomprehensible sense of ethics and a desire for general fun, as frustrating as that might be for poor human victims. Many surviving folk legends depict them as benevolent tricksters, but historical accounts still suggests that they were also seen as monstrous forces as heartless as natural disasters. The translation convention for dok'aebis used to be "ogres" due to their aesthetic association with Japanese oni, but because of their characteristic, terms such as "goblins" or "fae" have been taking over recently.
  • Merfolk can have some of these traits for folk along the coast.
  • In The Discarded Image C. S. Lewis used as a general summation of creatures from this tradition the term Longaivi (Long-Livers becaused they well... lived a long time). One thing interesting he pointed out was that that in later eras they underwent Grimmification to the point where they were little different from demons while the earlier Medieval ones could be benevolent as well as malevolent in their erratic behavior. The later cute fairies, according to this were in fact a reaction to a reaction.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Beauty and the Beast the prince is turned into the Beast and his household servants into animated objects because he wouldn't let a disguised fairy stay the night and laughed at her payment of a rose. Said fairy was disguised as a poor old woman in the dead of winter. The prince's lack of hospitality and compassion would have been a death sentence if she'd been what she appeared to be. Her punishment was designed to correct his character flaws, never mind that his staff didn't deserve it, or that the prince was so young.
  • The Leafmen from Epic, while not malicious, are heavily influenced by them. Chris Wedge's motivation to make the film came from seeing a museum painting of tiny fairy folk in a forest.
  • Aisling from The Secret of Kells. Though she turns out to be much nicer than how the Fair Folk are usually portrayed, she still doesn't take kindly to those who intrude in her forest and initially even threatens to set her wolves on Brendan if he doesn't leave.
  • Even though she's usually called a witch these days, Maleficent, of Disney's Sleeping Beauty, is actually a "wicked fairy". While the previous Kingdom Hearts games had gone with the sorceress description, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep rightfully lists her as a fairy.
    • Discworld: To quote Nanny Ogg's Cookbook: "How hard is it to invite her along, give her plenty of drink and a plate of ham rolls all to herself, and keep her out of the way of your posh auntie? Play your cards right and you could be ahead by an extra good wish."
    • Even the supposed good fairies have elements of this. They certainly mean to help, but the way they go about things is a bit reckless. While brainstorming on how to keep Aurora from pricking her finger, the fairies thought it was absolutely brilliant to turn her into a flower. The only reason they didn't was because they realize Maleficent could cause a frost and kill her that way. Then there's the part where they put the entire kingdom under a sleep spell so that the king doesn't find out about Aurora, though Flora said that the sleep spell will be lifted when Aurora awakens.
    • The spells they throw after Maleficient's raven turned it into stone. Given Maleficient's reaction when seeing this, it's not reversible...
    • Maleficent's own movie seems to be adding some more examples to the Sleeping Beauty world.
  • Spirited Away is a Japanese Youkai Fairy Tale that portrays them as acting very similar to The Fair Folk.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Labyrinth:
    • When Sarah reaches the outer wall of the Labyrinth, she finds a gardener killing Fairies with a bug sprayer. She calls him a brute, and picks up one of the not-quite-dead Fairies, who rewards her actions by attempting to bite off her finger. When she expresses her amazement and that she thought Fairies did "nice things, like granting wishes", the gardener simply scoffs and says "Shows what you know."
    • Jareth himself and his Goblins; the film is essentially a changeling tale.
    • And the Fieries. They're playful rather than evil, but they have unfortunate gaps in their understanding of human physiology...
    • Also the brownie that screws up the marks Sarah's using to get through the maze. From his perspective, she's defacing his flagstones.
  • Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth features a fairy world alongside the real world. The main character is brought into the world by a fawn and occasionally guided by benevolent sprytes. There are malicious denizens of the world, however, such as the Pale Man. It's left ambiguous whether the world is real or just the girl's imagination.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army, also directed by del Toro, establishes that the magical world is at odds with humanity. The magical world is ruled by the royal line of Elves. There are also trolls, goblins and Tooth Fairies, who can devour a person whole.
  • In Ridley Scott's Legend, the Gump and Oona are essentially friendly to Jack, but are still quite pre-Victorian in behavior. Mercurial, occasionally vindictive, and more than willing to bring punishment down on a foolish mortal like Jack (who's only spared because his misdeed was done out of love, possibly also because he's a "Faerie Friend").When they're stuck in a cell in Darkness' stronghold, Gump is unable to pick the lock because it's made of iron. "Iron is trouble for fairies."
  • Queen Mab, the Lady of the Lake and Frik in the Merlin TV-movie/miniseries certainly apply. Mab is the Big Bad of the story, and is depicted as a sociopath who means well, but cannot comprehend the consequences of her actions, the Lady is on Merlin's side, but she is fickle and unpredictable, and on a whim gives Merlin an impression that Mab killed his mother (she only arrived just after she had died of childbirth), and Frik simply does whatever he finds most amusing, when he isn't bossed around by Mab - until he gets turned into a mortal, anyway.
  • The eponymous creature from the Leprechaun slasher film series could be considered one of these.
  • The title character from the horror film Rumplestiltskin .
  • The Goblins from Troll 2 would count, given their enchanted food with nasty side effects, their posing as humans through glamour to lure humans to their doom, and their love for all things plant and hatred of man.
  • The Guardian, a 1990 horror movie about a dryad who poses as a babysitter, abduct babies, and feeds them to her tree.
  • Were the World Mine, a musical adaptation of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', about an outcast gay kid cast as Puck in the school play who ends up making a magic flower and causing people to fall in love with people of their own gender, essentially becoming Puck, often in musical sequences that are vague about whether it's a fantasy or not. The English/drama teacher, as well, is implied to be a fairy, complete with magic that makes the townspeople bend to her will. Granted, this is to give Puck/Timothy a chance to fix everything, but it's still not quite right from a human perspective. Overall, the fairies depicted are very sympathetic, but there is definite selfishness and laughing at the trouble being caused to mundane people going on.
  • Del Toro does it again with Don't be Afraid of the Dark. No wings or sparkles here, the creatures (officially known as Homonculi) look more like evil hunchbacked lemurs.
  • The deranged, fickle and bizarre inhabitants of The Sixth Dimension from the movie Forbidden Zone share lots of traits witt the Fair Folk. Of Course, ''everyone's'' deranged in this movie, but the inhabitants of The Sixth Dimension layer on top a slice of Fleischer-style surrealism to make them look even crazier.
  • King Brian and the other leprechauns in Darby O'Gill And The Little People.
  • The troll in Absentia is mostly an extradimensional horror, but it has definite shades of this. It enjoys making deals and is insistent on paying what it owes, even if the other party doesn't want it. It seems reluctant to attack anyone who makes a deal with it, but it also attracts it's attention to others around you.
  • In the beginning of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie meets a superstitious old peddler who recites line from the poem by William Allingham posted as the Trope Quote, clearly believing that the "mysterious workers" who work in the factory have something to do with the Fair Folk. (Of course, this is a subversion; the Oompa Loompas are friendly, harmless creatures, and are not fairies.)

    Literature 
  • While The Chronicles of Narnia aren't specifically about this trope, it does make an indirect reference to the Fair Folk in the Magician's Nephew where the villianous Uncle Andrew, mentions his aunt, Mrs. Lefay, who has fairy blood in her.. In addition to strongly implying she is villianous, C.S. Lewis is refering to the older traditions of fairies in which these creatures are not tiny, but the size of human adults This makes them more ominous.
  • The fey of Greystone Valley seem to be comprised of just about every fair folk from real-world mythology.
  • The fey of Maggie Stiefvater's books Lament and Ballad are exactly this - entirely devoid of empathy, governed by rituals and care only about their own pleasure, thinking of humans as little better than playthings. Nuala, being a leanan sidhe is an exception; she is very close to humankind and is thus capable of human feelings. However, even she has a distinctly cruel and exploitative side... (it goes with the territory considering what type of faerie she is.)
  • In The Once and Future King, the Faeries appear, led by Morgan Le Fay. While it was an Unbuilt Trope at the time the book was written, the Faeries are much more the alien and malicious type. Although Robin Hood and Maid Marien argue whether they are Faeries or not.
  • Arthur Machen went back to the earliest folklore and legends and created a particularly nightmarish version he called the Little People. They appeared in his famous stories "The Shining Pyramid" and The Three Imposters.
  • Certainly, Brian Froud belongs at the top here. Modern audiences must have had a shock when his collaboration with Alan Lee, Faeries, hit the shelves. It was one of the first books to include as many scary Fairy stories as nice stories. Froud has vocally emphasized that, while there are indeed evil Fairies and good Fairies in mythology, the vast majority of them are neutral. He actually apologizes, in the introduction, for the self-contradictory title of his follow-up book, Bad Faeries/Good Faeries.
  • In Aaron Allston's Doc Sidhe the Fair Folk are just as morally varied as humans are. Furthermore, the Fairy World has advanced at the nearly same rate as the human world, so fairies in the 1990s have 1930s level technology, mixed with magic (which is no longer called magic because it can be studied scientifically). And they've interbred with humans so many times as a result of changelings and other visitations that most are nearly human height. And one of the fairies is a Captain Ersatz of Doc Savage.
  • The Moorfolk in The Moorchild fit the description to a T. They've an aversion to holy water, Rowan wood, St. John's Wort and other yellow flowers, iron (in the setting, ALL iron is Cold Iron), and salt. They kidnap children and replace them with their injured, elderly, and misbegotten (the protagonist herself is a changeling left in place of a human child for being half-human), they play pranks and steal from mortals constantly, and while life in the Mound is happy and carefree, they have no concept of love, hate, or empathy.
  • In the works of Poul Anderson:
    • Three Hearts and Three Lions features a lot of these.
    • The Queen of Air and Darkness riffs on this trope by having telepathic aliens on a frontier world use the legends of Faerie against the human settlers, right down to kidnapping children to use as changeling warriors.
    • The Broken Sword is a fantasy novel about Dark Age Europe coexisting (unknowingly) with amoral elves, trolls, etc. Poul includes a squicky passage wherein an elf lord creates a changeling using an enslaved she-troll. The changeling gets even, kind of. Several of Poul Anderson's other novels and at least one short story also deal with the Fair Folk.
    • One of his story inverts much of this trope: an iron-allergic member of the Fair Folk pretends to be an alien emissary to infiltrate and destroy the Real Alien Multi-Species Conspiracy who have infiltrated and are abusing human society - using a nonferrous spaceship barely able to make orbit as his Alien bona fides. Oberon et al. show up on the last two pages.
    • "Fairy Gold" has an elf get a human to kill a troll in return for fairy gold. It does the usual effect of vanishing — except that by the time it does it, it has moved full circle around the town, making many people happy by letting them buy somthing by selling something they were encumbered with. There's laughter when it vanished, but it's not quite clear whether the elf lord appreciates what he did.
  • Although Tinker Bell from Peter Pan is often included as one example — if not the exemplar — of modernized, sanitized, Bowdlerized, Disneyfied fairies, she was mischievous and rather possessive of Peter, to the point that she was perfectly willing to casually engineer the death of a perceived rival, even in Uncle Walt's rendition. J.M. Barrie's book explains that the fairies are too small to contain more than one emotion at a time, so when Tinker Bell gets jealous of Wendy, it utterly consumes her being. Peter himself in the novel is great example of this trope — re-reading it as an adult, the Pan comes off as a sociopath, due to his being raised by Fairies. He can't remember who Wendy and the boys are from day to day, in battles between the Lost Boys and the Pirates he'll switch sides and kill (yes, kill) Lost Boys to make things more entertaining, and is pretty unsympathetic and selfish—almost a male Haruhi Suzumiya. His character has suffered far more bowdlerization in adaptation than Tink's.
  • Played straight with both Peter and the inhabitants of Avalon in Brom's adaptation of Peter Pan, The Child Thief. Only Tanngnost the troll comes off at all sympathetically.
  • The Fairies in Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Age books are, to a one, murderous, untrustworthy, and prone to double-crossing if not properly bound — and those are the sympathetic ones. (Makes sense, as the first book in the series is, among other things, a riff on the "Tam Lin" ballad, and Bear enjoys playing with legends and genre tropes.)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi) feature a number of fae creatures, along with the ways to deal with them and/or protect oneself from them. Spiderwick's daughter, in her unknowing youth, accepted food from the fae and as a result has no desire to eat human food...she would starve to death if the tiny faeries didn't bring her food regularly.
  • Holly Black's Tithe trilogy fits this trope, but sort of inverts the Seelie/Unseelie dynamic. The fairies are as nasty as any monster, but the higher-ups have slightly reversed roles: The Seelie Queen is a master of political games, while the Unseelie Queen is straight with her court. That said, the Seelie fairies won't kill you on sight. These books also use the Tam Lin plotline of a sacrifice every seven years— the Seelie fairies will just spirit away a talented human, while the Unseelie fairies will murder the first person they can find.
    • Interestingly the Unseelie court is shown to work to the benefit of humanity: as the sacrifice every seven years binds all unaffiliated fairies in Unseelie territory to the Unseelie Queen's rule, it means she can control the Free fae and stop Kelpies and Redcaps and the like murdering people on a daily basis just because they feel like it. One Kelpie specifically says "We, who are not the rulers, we must obey those that are. Mortals are a treat for the Gentry, and not for the likes of you and me. Unless, of course, they are willing."
  • Emma Bull's War for the Oaks has the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court. The Seelies are at the least, tolerant of humans, and usually kind and friendly — as the Fae would define it; (The Pouka, who is more familiar with humans than most, does say they have been "unkind" to mortals in the past). They're even capable of falling in love with humans as humans would recognize love. The Unseelies are malicious and nasty, and think nothing of twisting a mere mortal to their ends.
  • The fae in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files are like this.
    • They're split into the Summer (Seelie) and Winter (Unseelie) Courts, ruled over by Queens Titania and Mab respectively. Summer is generally more benevolent, while Winter is more malicious. They're obsessed with obligations— everything, from food and drink to information, has to be traded for, and there is no going back on a deal with the Fae. Accepting gifts from the Fae is a very bad idea, as it means your are in undefined debt to them, and giving them a gift is seen as a horrible insult. They are very vulnerable to anything with iron in it, and see its use as incredibly cruel. They Cannot Tell a Lie, but that's far from saying they're truthful; very careful attention needs to be paid to Exact Words when dealing with the fae, since they love Loophole Abuse. note  Any Fae can also be summoned by speaking its name three times. They will answer the summon, but may not be the happiest of beings to be summoned.
    • Even the Summer Fae have a rather alien outlook on things like morality.
    • Aurora thought it was a good idea to let the Courts destroy one another for the sake of breaking the balance between them, despite the massive destruction and death this would cause, because it would mean the end of fairy meddling in mortal lives forever... once there were again such a thing as mortal livesnote .
    • Titania has no problem ordering her soldiers to destroy Dresden even while she is technically indebted to him, purely for the sake of preventing Dresden from saving Marcone on Mab's instructions; from Titania's perspective, if Mab wants Marcone saved, she wants him not to be saved (although there is also the fact that she has little enough love for Dresden in the first place since he killed her daughter, even though she was trying to destroy the Sidhe). The best way to sum up the Summer morality is that while it can include kindness, it is by no means defined by it.
    • Among the Winter Court... Well, sure, the Leanansidhe wants to turn her poor beleaguered godson into a dog, but that's because as far as she's concerned he'd be much safer and happier as one of her hounds than he is at the moment. (She might have a valid point there) And Maeve once ordered monsters to attack Chicago as part of a Batman Gambit because she was worried that the Faerie Courts hadn't moved against the Red Court because of Mab's bizarre behavior, leading to a chain of events that saved a significant portion of the White Council. As Harry says in Changes, "Even in Winter, the cold isn’t always bitter, and not every day is cruel."
    • The biggest example of how the courts can defy type: according to the author, the Erlking, leader of The Wild Hunt, is Summer. Santa Claus is Winter. The one mention of Santa so far says trapping him in a circle is something nobody would ever dare try, but it in no way suggests that he's a Bad Santa. (But it makes perfect sense - He's known to be active on December 25th, and the Courts' power shifts with the seasons, after all. The power it would take to be Santa, or to be the reality that Santa is based on... a Summer fae would never have it four days after the winter solstice.) Santa represents generosity in a time of bleakness. Further said, Kringle is Mab's King and Erlking is Titania's King. Within them, they show the traits not often seen in their Queens (Kringle's benevolence against Mab's cold demeaner and Erlking's love of hunt to Titania's compassion.)
      • Cold Days has shown that Santa Claus is also the Norse god Odin and he participates in the Wild Hunt.
      • Also, while the author has referred to them as Kings of Summer and Winter, they are not part of the Courts. They are in no way obligated to follow Mab or Titania. Instead, they're Wyldfae lords of their own domains.
    • The best way to sum it up might be that style is more important than substance in this case; for example, two fairies come across a hobo, and in a fit of benevolence, decide to help him. One gives him a banquet, a bath, some nice warm clothes, the works. The other harangues him, makes his life hell, and forces him to clean himself up, get a job and stand on his own two feet. In this case, both have made an effort to help him, but the first one would be called to Summer in a time of war, while the other would be headed Winterwards.
    • A bit more insight into the nature of the fae is revealed in Cold Days. The purpose of the Winter Fae is to fight off incursions by Outsiders, and without them all reality would be destroyed. The Summer Fae in turn protect reality from Winter.
    • It should also be said that even mortals can become a Fae. Mortal women anyway. If a woman has a heart that is closely aligned to either Summer or Winter and one of the six Queens (Queen Mother, Queen, and Lady) is permanently killed, the mantle could travel into her if one of the Queens of that side is not close or the Queen picks that woman, she will become the new Queen, even if she doesn't want to.
    • On the matter of one's house, in Cold Days it is said the Fae can enter a person's home uninvited. However, they are bound by the laws of Hospitality and so cannot leave the estate in a worse condition than when they entered (Harry's brownie cleaning service entered to clean his untidy home and do laundry many times). Even if they are attacked by the owner of the house, they cannot attack back. The Fae would likely leave and wait until the owner is not protected and then respond to the attack.
  • In Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments,
    Simon: They can't be worse than vampires, and you did all right with them.
    Jace: All right? By which I take it you mean we survived?
    Simon: Well...
    Jace: Faeries are the offspring of angels and demons, with the beauty of angels and the viciousness of demons. A vampire might attack you, if you entered its domain, but a faerie could make you dance until you died with your legs ground down into stumps, trick you into going for a midnight swim and drag you screaming underwater until your lungs burst, fill your eyes with faerie dust until you gouged them out at the roots—
    Clary: Jace! Shut up. Jesus. That's enough.
    Jace: Look, it's easy to outsmart a werewolf or vampire. They're no smarter than anyone else. But faeries live for hundreds of years and they're as cunning as snakes. They can't lie, but they love to engage in creative truth-telling. They'll find out whatever it is you want most in the world and give it to you — with a sting in the tail of the gift that will make you regret you ever wanted it in the first place. They're not about helping people. More harm disguised as help.
  • The Fairy Servants in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, particularly "The Gentleman With Thistledown Hair." A footnote in the book explains that there are two faculties in both men and fairies: a faculty of reason and a faculty of magic. Men possess a greater share of reason than magic, and the fairies are the exact opposite. The book also describes the three classes of supernatural beings — angels, demons and fairies — as being "eternally good", "infernally wicked" and "morally suspect" in that order.
  • In John Connolly's short story The New Daughter, a family settle in a house built next to a "fairy fort." The hive of fairies imprisoned within are eyeless monsters that attack anyone who sits too close to the roof of their fort; the eldest daughter falls victim to this — they bury her alive and replace her with a changeling, who converts the rest of the family and releases them from the fort.
  • The Fair Folk in The Bitterbynde trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton for the most part are masters of gramarye (Functional Magic), beautiful, arrogant, and cruel. Several Faeran characters appeal to the idea that their moral code is merely different to that of mortals, and that they cannot be considered evil. It's not entirely convincing when you hear tales of their awful retribution for meaningless and unmeant "crimes" perpetrated by mortals.
    • In a twist to this portrayal of the Fair Folk, (the following is a HUGE spoiler, so don't read this if you wish to enjoy the books) the main character falls in love with the Faeran High King, who is anything but cruel, yet still adheres to the "Our morals are different" mantra when the mortal maiden questions the actions of his kindred.
    • There are other magical beings in the books, collectively called Wights. These fall into the Seelie (benevolent to mankind) and Unseelie (malevolent to mankind) categories, but the Faeran have no such distinction.
  • Unsurprisingly, Fairies tend to be pretty unsympathetic in modern day versions of "Tam Lin", such as Pamela Dean's Tam Lin and Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock. In Dean's version, the Fairies are described as absolutely alien: "like linear A. They look as if they ought to mean something, but you can't tell what it is."
  • The Fair Folk in Tom Deitz's Tales of David Sullivan are completely unable to comprehend human morality. They have a very strict code of honor, and show signs of honest affection for others, but they are truly immortal — if they are killed, they simply come back. They fight wars out of sheer boredom. This leaves them without any understanding of human death, and thus extremely careless of consequences. They also have very little sense of human social mores: to start with, one of the secondary characters has sex with a selkie, both in humanoid forms and in seal forms. They are very clearly the old gods of Ireland, with all the capriciousness one would expect from having read any Irish mythology at all.
  • The Others in A Song of Ice and Fire are a cross between elves, vampires, and cold elementals. The children of the forest are a diminutive, woodland folk with great power. Although they warred with mankind, they eventually made peace, then dwindled away as civilization swept through the continent.
  • Tad Williams seems to like this one, as he uses variants on it in several of his works:
    • In Memory Sorrow And Thorn, you have the Sithi (benevolent, but still alien and unpredictable and with little love for humans) and the Norns (their arctic, Always Chaotic Evil cousins). Physically, they resemble eerily beautiful and graceful humans with Eyes of Gold and white hair, but Sithi have golden skin and dye their hair various bright colors, while the Norns have chalk white skin and leave their hair its natural color.
    • In The War of the Flowers, "fairy" can be used to describe any intelligent inhabitant of the Magical Land the protagonist gets stuck in, but specifically refers to the humanoid aristocracy, who are (almost) always evil.
    • Largely subverted in Shadowmarch; the Qar (fairy) races are alien and hostile to humans, but on the whole are no more or less prone to evil than mortals, and the real villains are the mortal Evil Overlord and the Trickster Archetype god who's manipulating him. Lady Yasammez, the most overtly menacing and hostile of the Qar, actually ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The fairies in Charles de Lint's The Blue Girl have no sense of empathy and are very mischievous. The ghost in the book was a lonely nerdy boy who they befriended because he could see them. They told him they would make him able to fly and when he jumps off the school roof they let him fall to his death for their amusement. They don't really understand why he's so mad when he comes back as a ghost. They didn't lie to him, they can actually make him fly and they were doing so but they just decided it would be funny to let him fall.
  • The Alternate Universe version of Tir Gwyngelli in Teresa Edgerton's The Grail and the Ring is Fairyland - the version of Tir Gwyngelli popular in many travellers' tales.
  • Raymond E. Feist's 1988 book, Faerie Tale, where the good elves are dangerous and the evil ones are planning a genocidal war. When an ordinary family accidentally move to a home with an elf hill on the property things go rapidly downhill.
  • The Merry Gentry books by Laurel K. Hamilton is one of the most comprehensive list of faerie mythologies, in between the sex scenes. Both modernizing and explaining in detail a version of the Seelie and Unseelie courts of the sidhe, which are essentially depicted as elemental beings given flesh, or elves (though the idea of their pointed ears is supposedly only true of mixed breeds). Though in Hamilton's world the Sidhe are the ruling race of faerie, there are plenty of brownies, goblins, pixies, and so on. Despite their names, both courts of faerie are shown as having their good sides and bad... namely that while the Seelie sidhe are much more civilized and friendly, they're completely preoccupied with appearances and willingly embracing pretty lies to cover ugly truths, and while the Unseelie sidhe are more comfortable with flagrant sex and torture, they're also more accepting of people or creatures regardless of looks or species, having an official open-door policy for all of Faerie kind. Overall the world of Faerie is expressed as one that's neither good nor bad, but simply primal, from the slaugh ("The nightmares of Faerie kind") to the sidhe.
  • John Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci.
  • Katharine Kerr's Deverry series has both the Tolkienesque style Westfolk, and the Guardians, who are typical Fair Folk.
  • Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill is more pleasant than most. Still, Laser-Guided Amnesia features.
    Can you wonder that the People of the Hills don't care to be confused with that painty-winged, wand-waving, sugar-and-shake-your-head set of impostors? Butterfly wings, indeed! I've seen Sir Huon and a troop of his people setting off from Tintagel Castle for Hy-Brasil in the teeth of a sou'-westerly gale, with the spray flying all over the Castle, and the Horses of the Hills wild with fright. Out they'd go in a lull, screaming like gulls, and back they'd be driven five good miles inland before they could come head to wind again. Butterfly-wings! It was Magic - Magic as black as Merlin could make it, and the whole sea was green fire and white foam with singing mermaids in it. And the Horses of the Hills picked their way from one wave to another by the lightning flashes! That was how it was in the old days!
  • R.A. Lafferty's The Reefs of Earth gives us the Puca, a composite Fair Folk depicted as part alien colonists, part goblins, and part Irish Travellers, with hints of Nephilim and Neanderthal about them as well. The mature Puca in the novel are quite mellow, but their charming and precocious children sincerely want to kill every human on the planet.
  • The Chronicles of Fairie, a series by O.R. Melling, fits this trope nicely. The trope is subverted, though, in that fairies you meet are sympathetic...to a degree. They're willing to go to almost any length to get what they want.
  • Andre Norton examples:
    • Dread Companion. It's a Science Fiction novel with interstellar travel and settlements. Nevertheless, the beings who try to lure away the children are clearly The Fair Folk.
    • Here Abide Monsters. A Speculative Fiction novel including flying saucers. Nevertheless, the people of Avalon - the Alternate Universe into which the protagonists stumble via a Cool Gate - are The Fair Folk.
    • In the short story "The Long Night of Waiting", Lizzie's description of the people in the Alternate Universe in which she and her brother were trapped clearly indicates The Fair Folk, although they seem well-intentioned. "Lizzie" is also the name of one of the girls in Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market.
  • The Elves of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, as seen in Lords and Ladies and The Wee Free Men, are callous, even sadistic, sociopaths of the worst kind. However, while they are powerful and cruel, they tend to be thick and unable to learn, and aside from the Queen and select Lords (and they tend to be highly unimaginative), seem to be almost incapable of forming much original thought.
    Granny Weatherwax: You call yourself some kind of goddess and you know nothing, madam, nothing. What don't die can't live. What don't live can't change. What don't change can't learn. The smallest creature that dies in the grass knows more than you. You're right. I'm older. You've lived longer than me but I'm older than you. And better'n you. And, madam, that ain't hard.
    • In addition, Gnomes are not evil but can channel six feet worth of cynicism and violence into six inches of height, while their cousins the Pictsies — well, shrink a battlefield full of extras from Braveheart, strip off most of the civility, replace it with larcenous intent and moonshine whiskey, and you'll have the Nac Mac Feegle, at which point you should run away very fast. They love stealing cows and are extremely good at running off with one — one Pictsie per hoof.
    • Winged fairies seem to be fairly mindless and vicious creatures, somewhere between insects and the more aggressive kinds of songbird.
    • The dryads, who employ dangerous Wild Magic, would've executed Rincewind for slightly injuring a tree (which he was falling out of at the time), and whose males — yes, they exist — are built like Vin Diesel built of solid oak.
  • Terri Windling's Bordertown anthologies have a mashup of various fae types. There are elven street gangs, half-elves, fae wannabes, fae-touched, and so on. And their behaviour toward humans varies accordingly. The Bordertown actually exists on the border of genuine, under-the-hill Faerie, and the river running through it is called the Mad River, because to humans one sip is instantaneously addictive and insanity-generating though it is possible to recover from Mad River addiction — Tick-Tick helped Orient get off the water.
  • Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted Edge series, and a whole host of other related works, are set in a world where the Seleighe and Unseleighe Sidhe are very real, both dwelling "Underhill", a sort of parallel dimension that is imbued with magic and touches on our world at "Nodes." They were driven there by the increasing preponderance of iron (which is hazardous to them) in the world, but some have adjusted and made a comeback.
    • Iron also causes their magic to go awry, sometimes shooting off in oh-dear-I-MEANT-straight-not-LEFT directions, although both they and their human allies have analyzed the whys of this effect and come up with clever ways to exploit it. To give some idea of just how thoroughly some have adjusted, the SERRAted Edge series itself is about a bunch of elves who drive race cars made of non-ferrous materials like aluminum and fiberglass.
    • These books very strongly feature the Seleighe/Unseleighe ("good"/"evil") divide among the Fairie. The Unseleighe make a living off evil, feeding off the psychic energy of pain and suffering. They also hold grudges millennia past their expiration dates and believe in returning all ills sevenfold.
    • The Seleighe have a huge soft-spot for children (explained by their own very small birth rate), and many books feature their efforts to protect abused kids, often by kidnapping them from desperate situations to raise as their own Underhill. For all their good qualities, though, even the Seleighe are often portrayed as supercilious, arrogant, and given to pettiness.
    • She also gives an interesting twist to why Sidhe lifestyles are so extravagant and decadent; they are completely incapable of creating anything of their own, instead having to "ken" or copy what they see and assimilate it into their own culture, likely using what they steal to amuse themselves and build an illusion of a glamorous life. Don't point out from where they stole their Hammer Horror-style castle throne room design from, though; they get a touch sensitive about being reminded of their attempted creative infringement.
    • Lackey also touched on this trope in an episode from the first Bardic Voices book, where Rune has to rescue her Bardic Master/love interest from an Elven king. She succeeds (luckily Elves are vulnerable to music) and forces the king to promise not to come after them or use magic or weapons against them. Sadly Rune isn't quite Genre Savvy enough; the enraged king ends up sending a huge-ass thunderstorm (weather being neither magical nor strictly a weapon) after them.
  • In Julian May's Saga of the Exiles novels, mavericks who don't fit into the galactic utopia of the future are quietly allowed to use a one-way time gate to the Pliocene if they want to opt out. Unfortunately Pliocene Earth is already occupied by the psychic Duat aliens, whose Tanu and Firvulag subraces bear a startling resemblance to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and who fled from a utopia of their own so that they could continue their traditions of chivalry and romantic honour by waging an insanely bloodthirsty religious war against each other. The Tanu (seelie) accept psychic humans with the right attitude as their social equals and use mind control to enslave the rest as labourers, breeding stock, or expendable soldiers, while the Firvulag (unseelie) see the Tanu-human partnership as an almost blasphemous break with tradition and want to slaughter all the exiled humans so that their endless war with the Tanu can be fought "cleanly" and with honour. Not exactly nice fairies- and despite appearances, it's by no means clear that the Tanu are any better than the Firvulag.
    • What makes it even worse is that they're at least partially the direct ancestors of humanity. And the ostensibly "human" Mercy Rosmar, due to the high quota of Tanu genes, is a thorough ball-busting bitch.
  • Jack Vance's Lyonesse deals quite a bit in the fairy world. One character is a human who was raised among fairies and is kicked out to return to humanity when he's an adolescent. Fairies tend to be whimsical, mercurial, and occasionally malicious, but they can be helpful as well under the right circumstances.
  • The Mercy Thompson novels make this very clear in the third book, which features a kelpie that tries to eat Mercy. Plus the Grey Lords who consider killing Mercy for poking into their affairs, and only back off when they learn that killing Mercy would anger the Marrok and start a war with the werewolves.
  • The second Kushiel's Legacy trilogy introduces a human tribe of the Fantasy Counterpart Cultures Alba and Eire, who are described very like the Fair Folk: an old people who live in the wild, untamed areas, powerfully magical, and not malicious but adhering to a different moral standard. Some characters fear them and refuse to speak of them, while others welcome bargaining with them. Their Voluntary Shapeshifting and sympathetic magic play a vital role in the plot.
  • The third book in Kate Thompson's Switchers series, Wild Blood, features fairies like these. As the series was intended for children, the fairies aren't too malicious, but there are threats of violence towards the main characters (also children).
  • In Tales of MU, elves historically fell into this trope and some wild adolescent elves still live there. Faeries exist, too, and are the only thing that Badass elven hunter is afraid of (apart from bears).
  • Gene Wolfe's No Planets Strike has the Beautiful Ones of the planet Sidhe, who allow unlimited immigration in (supplemented by luring sailors off trading spaceships) but won't allow anyone to leave once there, kill those who try, and horrifically torture those who otherwise run afoul of them.
  • They featured heavily in Chivalric Romance. Such as Sir Orfeo, which starts with the king of Fairy kidnapping Orfeo's wife — although when Orfeo gets a promise out of him, he does keep it. They are particularly likely in the earlier ones. Such as Morgan Le Fay (Le Fay = the Fairy), who really was one of the Fair Folk in the oldest romances. The Lady Of the Lake was also a fairy who mutated into an enchantress. Still, they never quite left; the late romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight features the Green Knight who is overtly one of the Fair Folk.
    • In Sir Orfeo, the fairy king takes people at the moment of their death — or possibly after, there was a folkloric tradition of fairies being ghosts — and keeps them in his kingdom as they were then:
      Then he began to gaze about
      and saw within the walls a rout
      of folk that were thither drawn below
      and mourned as dead, but were not so.
      For some there stood who had no head,
      and some no arms, nor feet; some bled
      and through their bodies wounds were set
      and some were strangled as they ate,
      and some lay raving, chained and bound,
      and some in water had been drowned;
      and some were withered in the fire,
      and some on horse, in war's attire,
      and wives there lay in their childbed...
    • The fairy mistress was a natural for Courtly Love, with her magical ability to come and go secretly, and her magical taboos, which played nicely into the spirit of obeying one's lady no matter how capricious she was and how arbitary her commands were. In some tales, such as Parthenope de Blois, her fairy origin is only hinted but makes the events of the story clear.
  • A child's book called Wild Robin plays straight and then subverts this trope. The eponymous Robin runs away from home, falls asleep in a Fairy Ring, and is taken to the Realm of Faerie. He enjoys it for a while, then becomes homesick, and one particular fairy teases him. Then the fairy sees Robin's older sister crying, missing him, feels remorse and tells her the secret way to break the spell and free Robin. She does. Also, that irregular passage of time thing doesn't happen in this book.
  • The Warlock of Gramarye series by Christopher Stasheff has Fairies who are shaped from Gramarye's native fungus by the unconscious telepathy of the human inhabitants, more-or-less based directly on Medieval English fairly tales and Shakespeare, and Puck and the Half-Human Hybrid Brom, allies of the protagonist, can show a very dark side at times. The first meetings each had with Rod nearly cost him his life. The other Wee Folk only help out on occasion because Gwen and her kids have Fairy blood. They also have an inconsistent relationship with iron.
    • The Wee Folk of Gramarye also have to be placated; everyone who leaves out milk at night and avoids putting Cold Iron outside their house will be left alone. Those who don't... well, they go through a lot of milk on Gramarye.
  • Some short stories and The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany (Anglo-Irish, with a heavy emphasis on the Anglo portion) have elves and similar creatures to whom human life is an incomprehensible mystery. Even after living among humans for many years, they never quite get the hang of it.
  • In John Ringo's Council Wars series Elves, who are actually a product of genetic engineering are portrayed as holding themselves apart from humanity, including the eponymous wars except for one who is shown as good if mischievous and she's a different subspecies from the others. It's often hinted that the origin of Elves might be even older than thought and outright said that it's a good thing they hold themselves aloof, because if they ever chose to interfere in human affairs we wouldn't have a chance.
  • Coraline (again by Neil Gaiman) strongly hints that the Other Mother is one of the Fair Folk, with one of her victims saying her true name is the Beldam (a possible play on La Belle Dame Sans Merci, a poem where a knight is cursed to suffer eternally after having relations with a fairy maiden, although it's also just an archaic word for "witch").
    • To clear up the Beldam confusion: it appears this word originally signified "an old woman, generally an and ugly one". However this word seems to have mutated to, quoting The Other Wiki, "an old woman or creature, particularly an ugly one, believed to be evil and who enjoys child abuse. They are also considered a form of witch that specialize in causing resentment and white lies to give people false impressions like in prophecies or in people's minds." A rather accurate portrait of The Other Mother. Not much to do with faeries, however her hunting methods are reminiscent of those often used by the Fair Folk.
    • This might have to do with Hekkate (goddess of witches) calling the Weird Sisters (old lady witch trio) Beldams in Macbeth.
    • One of said victims appears to be a nicer sort of fairy — this is only revealed toward the end in the original novel, but due to the necessity of actually portraying them visually, shows up sooner in the Graphic Novel, and was dropped for the film version.
  • Elfstruck on Amazon's Kindle network.
  • Charlaine Harris in her The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries series would have it both ways with Claudine and Claude. The former aspires to be an angel and tries to do good whilst the latter is amoral at best but both chose to live amongst humans. Then there is Niall Brigant, the grandfather to the two and Sookie Stackhouse's great-grandfather, a fairy prince who has a benign but distant regard for humanity yet sees the benefits of tapping into human industries. Others of their kind have a distinct hatred for humanity and all that it represents. This tension over human contact and interbreeding leads to a civil war and some use mankind as its fodder.
    • The fairies that drowned Sookie's parents and later kidnapped and tortured Sookie by cutting her up and biting off chunks of her flesh. Yeesh.
  • The People (including various kinds of fairies, goblins, dwarves...) in Artemis Fowl are actually sympathetic, contrasted against the Teen Genius Villain Protagonist. They live underground, have highly advanced technology (ray guns, lots of ray guns), and do everything they can to hide themselves from humans. They also have some vampire-like weaknesses- they are extremely vulnerable to sunlight, and risk losing their magical powers if they enter a human dwelling without permission. What fits them for this trope is that they're quite frankly condescending towards humans, calling us 'Mud People'. Nobody's really called them out on it... maybe because they're the ones hiding from us, what do they have to be proud of?
    • We're catching up fast, and have Artemis, who in the first book plans to extort from the elves. The brilliant part? It WORKS and he pulls a Karma Houdini and utterly gets away with filching a SHITLOAD of gold while managing to avoid any real negative consequences. It helps that he gave half of it back in a bargain to help fix his sick mother, but still....
    • Despite their relative benevolence, the People still tend to engage in Exact Words regarding "invitations." On the one hand, cries for help are generally accepted as invitations. On the other, Artemis's statement that none of them may enter his house while he is alive is interpreted creatively as an invitation to come in when he's dead. Though this ends up being part of his plan.
  • A book called The Changeling deals with this, and with an outcast of their own kind.
  • Melissa Marr's Faerie Court series is made of this trope; her faeries are divided into four courts: Winter, Summer, Dark, and High (with the occasional solitary fae moving freely among the courts). Each court has defining characteristics, but the fae themselves are very much individual people with distinct personalities. Most, to some degree, view humans as inferior; the extent of this can vary, with some seeing them as wayward children and others as expendable playthings.
  • Juliet Marillier's The Sevenwaters Trilogy features Fair Folk based on the ancient legends, and far from cuddly.
  • Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series has a brief appearance by a sidhe. Most of the time he looks like an evangelist, but when the main characters work out some kind of "true seeing" charm, he looks more The Greys. He had apparently been imprisoning and feeding on the psychic energy of vampires and werewolves, and one reasonably knowledgeable character seemed to think of him as an Eldritch Abomination.
  • The Name of the Wind features one of these as a boon companion for Kvothe in his "present-day" years. However, at the end of the book, he confronts the Chronicler and tells him they both know the truth about the demons roaming the countryside. There are no such things as demons; just very nasty fae. Despite the ominous hints, Bast still clearly cares greatly for Kvothe and seems to have a somewhat compatible sense of right and wrong...his perspective on the world is just very different, and he can be exceedingly selfish. That Bast looks fairly moral to the reader is largely because Bast's selfishness covers his love for Kvothe, so his actions are usually in Kvothe's best interests as well as his own. He shows something of a nastier side in The Wise Man's Fear.
    • Felurian in The Wise Man's Fear is closer to the Fair Folk classic trope. Essentially a leanansidhe or succubus figure, she's a creature of desire, almost like an Anthropomorphic Personification of seduction. She is described as innocent but caring little for right and wrong; she seduces men who pursue her into Faerie, takes them as lovers, and when she eventually tires of them they die or go insane for wanting to be with her. While sympathetic, something of a mentor figure, and certainly a strange and wondrous being, she is very dangerous, not out of malice but simply out of being so different.
    • And then there's the Cthaeh who is omniscient and always tell the truth. Problem is it enjoys telling the truth that will hurt the listener the most (it's omniscient so it already knows all of the listener's reactions to anything it says) and cause grand-scale disasters. There's a group of people who have dedicated their lives to killing anyone who approaches them.
  • Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom of Landover series runs the gamut from the fairies of the mists, who, while more or less benevolent, are also Eldritch Abominations, to the fairies who actually live within the Kingdom itself, who in turn range from Willow's mother, a wild, amoral free spirit, to Willow's father, who is sort of lawful goodish with serious jerkass tendencies, to Willow herself, who is clearly good and benevolent. Oh, and then there's Nightshade.
  • Fairy lore plays a part in Tana French's novel In the Woods. The mystery of what happened to Rob and his friends in 1984 is deliberately left ambiguous, but one valid interpretation is that the Pooka took the kids. In the sequel, ''The Likeness', it's hinted that Whitethorn House may have been a fairy stronghold and that the family at some point coupled or intermarried with the Fair Folk. (It's also possible that this is just nasty local rumor, in part meant to justify the village's ongoing dislike of the family.) Cassie is also spooked by unseen things scuttling around in the fields at night.
  • The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer. The elves kidnap toddlers, put them on leashes, and when they get tired of them, leave them for the wolves to eat.
  • In the Wicked Lovely series, the main plot of the first book has the main character dealing with being caught in between two faeries and in the other books almost all of the main characters are Fey. They fit very much within this trope. Even the ones that are rather nice don't tend to understand human emotions, some of them are downright cruel, and many have a Blue and Orange Morality going.
  • In the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning the Fae are definitely not cute or charming. At all.
  • Many of the characters in Elizabeth Hand's novel Mortal Love are implied to be Fair Folk. One of the main characters, Larkin, is even referred to directly as "La Belle Dame Sans Merci".
  • The Stolen Child is founded in the myth of the changeling found in European folklore (wherein the Fair Folk/fairies/hobgoblins/sidhe steal a human child and replace it with one of their own). The fairies/hobgoblins of The Stolen Child are not evil, per se, but they are wild and uncivilized creatures, given to theft, vandalism, all manner of mischief, and stealing human children.
  • David Brin's Those Eyes has faeries as 'aliens' who do traditional mischievous faerie and cow-mutilating alien things. Who are being driven to extinction by humans being more skeptical, seeing through their glamour.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, the elves are Fallen Angels who didn't fall all the way to Hell. Don't eat their food, don't offer them boons, don't accept gifts, etc. — though you can cope if you are careful enough.
  • Kiersten White's Paranormalcy plays this trope pretty straight. The Seelie Courts are the 'good' ones and the Unseelie are the 'bad' ones and they are all weak to iron and some extent silver... and get drunk on soft drinks. Neither side can resist a 'Named Command' but both twist the words of the command into something they like and don't obey the same laws as humans ("physical, social, emotional, traffic") and only work towards their own designs. The only difference between the two appears to be that the Unseelie will kill people for no reason, while the Seelie have some sort of justification: however neither side appears to have any problem with creating prophecies that predict the death of tens of paranormals (possible all of them) and creatures (Evie and Vivian) to carry out these prophecies and steal souls JUST TO SEE WHO WINS! Don't worry if you have trouble telling the difference between them, Evie thought her ex-boyfriend Reth was Unseelie. It's a very understandable given that he manipulated her, stalked her, kidnapped her, burnt her arm, stalked her some more, let a serial killer into the IPCA where it killed her best friend, held her new boyfriend hostage so he could get a new name, kidnapped her again, and then explained, vaguely, what was going on. He thinks the Unseelie are horrible.
  • Robert E. Howard wrote several stories, the best known of which is the Bran Mak Morn story "Worms of the Earth" featuring a race that lived in Britain before first the Picts, then the Celts drove them underground where they mutated from their already unpleasant orginal selves into reptilian abominations.
  • The Aelfinn & Eelfinn (Snakes & Foxes) of The Wheel of Time are very much the (unnamed as such) Fair Folk, complete with otherworldliness and Seelie & Unseelie division. They are also weak to iron.
  • Goblins are one of Clifford Simak's Creator Thumbprints. They may be from parallel dimensions, they may be creatures of magic, they may be alien colonists. They may enter our folklore if we contacted them in the past. The only thing that's sure is that they are just alien. And we shoulnd't really try to understand them, we can't.
  • The Phanfasms in the Oz book The Emerald City of Oz: Sadistic, creepy, illusion-slinging shapeshifters who have every intention of turning on their allies as soon as their mutual enemy is dealt with. Thank Lurline for the Fountain of Oblivion.
  • Used by Paul Kidd in his novelization Descent into the Depths of the Earth, where faeries are ancient, powerful, decadent, insular, isolationist, supremacist, given to truly byzantine machinations to get what they want, and most of them think physical reality is beneath them.
  • Surprisingly for a kid's book, many of the denizens of the Wildworld in L.J. Smith 's The Night of the Solstice fit this to a T.
  • The Hebrew translation of The Lord of the Rings (accidentally?) turned Tolkien's elves into the Fair Folk without actually changing anything in the story. Lacking a real translation for "elf", the older Hebrew versions called them "Shedim" (demons), "Shedonim" (imps or goblins) and perhaps most interestingly, "Bene Lilith" (Children of Lilith/Children of The Night Lady). Nothing about their actions or descriptions was really changed, but somehow simply being called "demons" turned all of their beauty, grace, and (supposed?) niceness sinister and creepy.
    • Realizing this, a neologism alph (from English "elf") was invented to describe Tolkien's elves in Hebrew.
  • The elves in Tolkien´s fiction tend to draw from stories that did not use the fair folk trope, making them morally good to neutral and not particularly alien. The Hobbit hints that the woodland elves are somewhat dangerous but they are mostly whimsical and unreliable.
    • The Book of Lost Tales has a closer connection to the fair folk, as the first presentation of Melian describes her as a "fay", and the link between Lúthien and hemlocks (a rather poisonous plant associated with witchcraft, for instance in Macbeth) persists all the way to the Lord of the Rings. In the Tale of Beren and Lúthien. The area between Sauron's fortress and Thingol's realm is the battleground for a gigantic Wizard Duel between Melien(Thingol's wife) and Sauron. In that place Sauron's evil spells cause part of the nastiness but Melian's spells tend to keep anyone out Thingol doesn't want in his realm, even allies. They appear like Fair Folk because of Unfriendly Fire rather then from pleasure for tormenting mortals.
    • The "Lingerers" as described in Morgoth's Ring, elven spirits are so powerful that their body can't quit hold it and it burns their body away leaving them in a shadowy form. The "Unbodied" are elves that actually died and refused to obey Mandos' summons. Some of these had actually worked for Morgoth. These are the one's to fear while Lingerers are generally nice if strange and unpredictable. These perhaps corespond to the Seelie and the Unseelie.
    • In J. R. R. Tolkien's Smith of Wootton Major, they are hinted at. Smith is protected from them, but aware of their existence in Faerie.
  • Althought the elves are more similar to the Tolkien version, the elves in the Inheritance Cycle nonetheless have traits similar to this. Elves are immortal and magical creatures and though they're mostly good guys it's outright stated that they are haughty, arrogant, twist the truth around and are constantly plotting.
    • They're also capable of changing their physical form, and many are described as looking very alien and inhuman.
  • The Veela in Harry Potter are all beautiful and alluring creatures whose dancing exerts a form of mind control over the men who watch them. When angered they transform into birdlike, taloned creatures and throw balls of light.
    • The goblins are described as a cunning and ruthless and their sense of morality is different from ours. For example, in the first book when Harry visits the wizard bank, the goblins who run it say that anyone who tries to break into a vault will be sucked inside and trapped. The goblin smiles and says that they only check the vaults for would be thieves every few years.
    • As for actual fairies in this series, it's averted: in this setting, while they look like tiny winged humanoids and use a form of (very weak) magic, they're only about as intelligent as insects (they metamorphose and lay eggs like insects do) and are treated like household pests. Occasionally they're even used as decorations (which is a pun on "fairy lights", the British term for Christmas lights).
    • The HP Universe does contain some rather nasty fairy-like creatures however in the form of Bowtruckles and Doxies. Bowtruckles live in wand wood trees and tend to gouge people's eyes out if they try to cut wood from them (unless they get offered woodlice or fairy eggs in exchange). Doxies are nicknamed "The Biting Fairy" and are little black pests with two sets of teeth.
    • Pixies are small humanoids who like to pull people up with their ears and leave them hanging up in trees or wreck stuff for lulz.
  • The fairies in Poison fit this perfectly. The whole plot is set in motion by one of them kidnapping the heroine's sister.
  • A mostly benign version appears in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain.
  • Played almost painfully straight with the world of Mark Chadbourn's The Age of Misrule and subsequent series' in the same world. Above Good and Evil, Black and Gray Morality, Blue and Orange Morality, The Unfettered, Pay Evil unto Evil abound in a Crapsack World, and thats just the Tuatha Dé Danann. Their "evil" counterparts, the Fomorii... are worse.
  • Karlsson on the Roof is theorized by many readers to be a modernized urban Faerie — which would go a long way to explain his mischievous Jerk Ass nature, his Vague Age and his self-centered tendencies towards Blue and Orange Morality. By human standards he's an undeniable jerk, but by Fae standards he's actually a pretty decent guy.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, LeFel is an exiled fairy and will die soon if he doesn't get back. He's extremely unscrupulous about means.
  • Dennis L. McKiernan likes to demonstrate his knowledge of fairy lore in his Mithgar series as well as his Faery series.
  • Invoked in G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown story "The Sins of Prince Saradine":
    "By Jove!" said Flambeau, "it's like being in fairyland."
    Father Brown sat bolt upright in the boat and crossed himself. His movement was so abrupt that his friend asked him, with a mild stare, what was the matter.
    "The people who wrote the mediaeval ballads," answered the priest, "knew more about fairies than you do. It isn't only nice things that happen in fairyland."
    "Oh, bosh!" said Flambeau. "Only nice things could happen under such an innocent moon. I am for pushing on now and seeing what does really come. We may die and rot before we ever see again such a moon or such a mood."
    "All right," said Father Brown. "I never said it was always wrong to enter fairyland. I only said it was always dangerous."
  • In the October Daye series, the fair folk vary in how close they are to classic descriptions of the fair folk (some of them able to pass for average humans in most situations). The closer a fairy's heritage is to Oberon, Maeve, and Titania (the progenitors of faerie), or the stronger the differences between strains of mixed magical heritage, the more likely they are to resemble the classical fair folk, as well as certain races such as the Cait Sidhe (which seem like Fair Folk even to the more human-like fair folk). Blind Michael (one of the Firstborn, a son of Oberon) in particular reads like he was lifted straight out of a blender full of three-hundred-year-old fairy legends, and was said to be the inspiration for a number of child-stealing and Wild Hunt legends.
  • In Living Alone by Stella Benson fairies are indifferent — for a reason.
    Fairies are never ill. They have immortal bodies, but no souls. If they see you in pain, they simply think you are flaunting your superiority and your immortal soul in their faces.
  • In On Fairy-Stories, J. R. R. Tolkien pointed out that first use of "faerie" in English was to refer to The Casanova, dressed up to seduce when he attended church.
  • In E. D. Baker's The Wide-Awake Princess, the fairies are little and fluttery but still try to force the exhausted Annie to dance all night with them.
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, the Fair Folk took Tom. Seven years later, they take Jenny as well.
  • * In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey series, this is the standard characterization of the fey.
  • The Seelie and Unseelie appear in Terra Mirum Chronicles. Dreams have traits similar to this, but Fae are separate race from Dreams, and the political situation between them is volatile.
  • The Fain from The Last Dragon Chronicles, though they are far from the fairies of traditional myth.
  • The Powrie from Nick Perumov's Keeper of the Swords series, loosely based on the Anglo-Scots faerie-goblins of the same name, are diminutive, bloodlusty, immortal creatures who enjoy killing and eating humans (they didn't retain the infamous red caps of their folkloric counterparts). However, they have a weakness: they worship dragons, and if you luckily have one as a friend, you can control them.
    • The elves from this series also display some traits of The Fair Folk. The Light elves keep those traits under an affable exterior and a charade of friendliness to the local Crystal Dragon Jesus, the Dark elves are openly uncaring about mortal affairs.
  • An Encounter And An Offer has the fae banishing a young boy and stripping him of his name, leaving him to the mercies of the humans. It also appears, in implications, that the fae are duplicitous, arrogant, cunning and dangerous.
  • The trolls, or Huldre, in Edith Pattou's East fill this role. They have magical powers and long lifespans, live in a secret, near-inaccessible homeland, and abduct humans for slave labor. They are a bit uglier than most Fair Folk, but still more beautiful (and humanoid) than most trolls.
    • In Scandinavia, "huldra" or "hulder" usually refers to a beautiful forest-woman, with an animal tail or a hollow back to distinguish her from a human. Check the Folklore folder for more details.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Fairies from the Torchwood episode "Small Worlds," who would think nothing of drowning the world beneath a flood to get their hands on one little girl.
  • The Sidhe in Merlin transformed two of their own into mortals as a punishment. They require the death of a mortal prince before they'll change one of them back.
    • ...And that was the one who hadn't technically done anything. She seems to have only been transformed because of her father's crime.
    • The Sidhe reappear in series three: they possess a baby princess then wait around till she grows up and they can manipulate things so she'll marry Arthur. The implication is that at some point Princess Elena will be completely consumed by the Sidhe.
  • Lost Girl: Every supernatural creature is effectively fae. This includes vampires, kappa, succubi, and lots of other nasty things (thought Dark Is Not Evil is in effect for some of the characters). The ruling bodies of the Fae are effectively the Seelie and Unseelie Courts (here referred to as "Light" and "Dark"), and both courts view humans as a handy tool for their plans and ascribe to rather dated notions of justice (such as Combat by Champion).
  • In the Supernatural episode "Clap Your Hands If You Believe...", fairies are initially mistaken for aliens due to their penchant for abducting people using bright lights and leaving behind crop circles. Some of them actually encourage this.
  • The Fairies in their true form on True Blood.
  • The antagonist of The Haunting Hour episode "Intruders". A fairy named Lyria explains to a girl named Eve that Eve is a changeling and invites her to rejoin their world. Eve enjoys her new friend and powers at first, until Lyria demands Eve let her eat Eve's little brother...
  • Some of the wizards in Wizards of Waverly Place come off this way.
  • While he's technically a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, Q from Star Trek fits this trope to a T. Delights in making a mess of mortal lives? Check. Took a shine to humans (or, specifically, Picard) as a human loves a pet? Check. Comes from a society of "magical" entities that would seem amoral to human standards? Huge check.

    Music 
  • Emilie Autumn's story included in the re-release of her first album, Enchant, is about one of the fair folk falling in love with a human. And the resulting mess.
  • Inkubus Sukkubus' song "Away with the faeries", and potentially a good deal of their other songs as well.
  • The Fall's "Elves", although it's all very hard to follow...
  • Three Weird Sisters' ''Song of Fey Cross'' portrays a typical Gaelic style faerie mound legend.
  • Current 93, in addition to their version of "Tam Lin", have a number of songs about this theme, with "Oh Coal Black Smith" (actually based on a Renaissance-era poem) bringing home the gold for being pure fearsomeness.
  • The Decemberists' The Hazards of Love, loosely inspired by the Tam Lin legend.
  • The Pogues Sit Down by The Fire
    And if you ever see them
    pretend that you're dead
    Or they'll bite off your head
    They'll rip out your liver
    And dance on your neck
    They dance on your head
    They dance on your chest
    And they give you the cramp
    And the cholic for jest
  • Queen of the Wave by Pepe Deluxe. In "A Night and a Day", describing the villain Mainin's Start of Darkness, the fair folk are mentioned off-hand as one of the sources of forbidden knowledge who corrupted him.
    The hole where the fairies said their word
    a perverse thing to follow
  • Several songs by Heather Dale, such as "Changeling Child" and "The Fair Folk."

    Poems/Ballads 
  • The Stolen Child, by William Butler Yeats, is about a child lead away by the fairies. While they might be doing him a favor, as it's implied that he's unhappy (although he might just be overwhelmed by the misery around him), they show no sign of telling his parents or family that he's alright.
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Erlkönig, along a very similar theme to the above. In this poem the "Erl-King" is a Faerie creature who wants a boy he finds pretty to come with him, but when the boy refuses, he seizes the boy's soul by force, killing him (though an alternative interpretation holds that the ill boy was feverishly hallucinating). The name Erlkönig is often anglicized as Erl-King or Alder-King, but it is ultimately a corruption of the Danish ellerkonge, which in fact means Elf-King.
  • A topical complement (and historically the inspiration) to Erlkönig is Herr Oluf (alternately titled Erlkönig's Daughter), another German ballad inspired by Danish folklore, by Goethe's contemporary Johann Herder. A young bridegroom is riding around to invite the guests for his wedding the other day, when he meets the elves. The Elf-Queen asks him to dance with her. When he adamantly refuses, she curses him with a sickness. Next morning, he's dead.
  • On the surface William Allingham's "The Fairies" appears to portray them as endearing:
    Up the airy mountain,
    Down the rushy glen,
    We daren't go a-hunting
    For fear of little men.
However he then emphasises that they're anything but, abducting a little girl for seven years who then dies of sorrow, and putting thorns in humans' beds to punish them for interfering with their trees.
  • Christina Rossetti's poem, "Goblin Market", is about a girl who starves herself after giving in to temptation and eating fairy food.
  • Neil Gaiman's "The Fairy Reel" is about a man with whom a fairy girl has fallen in love. She's so in love with him that she decides to steal his heart. Later she gets bored with it, and uses it to string a violin.
  • In "Tam Lin", Tam Lin is spirited away by the Queen of Elphame [Elfhome]. He enjoys his stay there, but learns that every seventh year, the elves have to pay a "tithe [tax] to Hell". Fearing he himself will be the tithe, he flees. The Queen denies that she would have offered Tam Lin, but that still seems to imply the elves regularly sacrifice one of their own to the Devil.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Fair Folk (appropriately enough) of the tabletop RPG Exalted, who are shapeless chaotic beings who feed off of the emotions of mortals, often leaving them zombified husks. They don't typically have driving motivations so much as drives they adopt because they seem dramatically appropriate, and would like to see Creation as a whole dissolve into the Wyld because the very concept of something operating by logic disgusts them.
    • Well, not always. Quite a fair amount of them have moved into Creation, losing the "shapeless" part. God help you if you find one of the Unshaped.... There's a certain pathos to these; they're still scary monsters from the perspective of Creation, but to themselves they're magnificent nobility stranded on the edges of an alien world who cannot return home (since scarier things await them...)
  • Changeling: The Lost paints Fairies as powerful incomprehensible alien entities that regularly abduct humans and take them off to their homeland, where they are warped to fit their masters' perceptions of them. The Changelings of the title are humans who've managed to escape back to Earth, but who've been changed by their time in the world of Faerie and are trying to avoid their former captors at all costs. Notably, Changeling also directly correlates the modern concept of Alien Abduction with the Fae, explicitly invoking such standbys as lights in the sky, strange experiments, and Keepers taking the form of Little Green Men or The Greys in a number of places.
    • It is explained later that the True Fae need conflict to prevent themselves fading away into the random background chaos of Arcadia. As a result, the closest thing they have to friends among other Fae are their sworn enemies, as by fighting they're keeping each other alive. They can also be inanimate objects (Props), legions of lesser beings (Wisp), and entire self-enclosed universes (Realms) in addition to their normal forms (Actors). With enough Titles, they can do the aforementioned simultaneously!
    • This is in marked contrast to the earlier Changeling The Dreaming, where the Player Character Changelings were actual (half-)Faeries using human disguises to protect themselves from Disbelief, in the Old World of Darkness. Though the Kithain were fae souls shaped by human experiences, some — especially the Redcaps and Sluagh, and the Sidhe of both Courts just after their return to the Tellurian — were often chillingly inhuman and capricious, at least when played right. Some sub-groups — the Leanhaun Sidhe for example — were specifically meant to reflect the more traditional view of The Good People as rapacious and unsympathetic to their mortal victims.
    • White Wolf also published Dark Ages: Fae, which is "officially" considered to be a prequel to Changeling: The Dreaming, but is so radically different it can also be run as a full Alternate Universe. In it fairies are divided into the Firstborn, who are true fae without need for that pesky mortal shell; Inanimae, beings whose bodies are based on natural elements, as well as artificial constructs; and Changelings, who in this setting are different from both the above, being human children spirited away and raised as faeries, faerie children raised in the human world, or true Half-Human Hybrids. The fae are divided into 5 courts based around their preferred powers and attitude towards humans. All four of the primary courts, the fifth simply being the neutral group, quite easily come across as this trope. It's been remarked that the difference between good and evil faeries isn't over whether they should rule over humans, but rather how they should go about it. The Spring Court wants to learn about "modern" humanity and use that knowledge to revive the fear and reverence that they once received. The Summer are the harsh traditionalists, and intend to punish humans for breaking their ancient, and forgotten, oaths, and restore the old order. The Autumn Court, like the Spring, wish to learn more about humans and work with them; however rather then outright respect they wish to manipulate the course of history from behind the scenes. Finally is the Winter Court, which isn't actually Always Chaotic Evil, but they do their best to appear so to humanity. The fact that characters tend to have very alien and unique systems of morality is one of the game's major themes.
  • The Elves in Magic: The Gathering's Lorwyn set are horned and hooved, supposedly to remind you of deer and satyrs, but... They are also aristocratic, ruthless, and predatory, and have built a society with castes based on cunning and physical attractiveness. The Castes range from Faultless, Immaculate, Exquisite, to Perfect, the top of the pack. Eyeblights, which includes non-Elves as well as ugly or disfigured Elves, are scum and can (or must) be killed.
    • Flavor text for the original Alpha Llanowar Elves: "One bone broken for every twig snapped under foot." Pretty brutal for 1/1 druids that give you green mana.
    • There are also Faeries in the Lorwyn setting; they're mostly mischievous and disrupting, if not outright evil. Though they went from being simply mischievous in Lorwyn/Morningtide to being outright evil in Shadowmoor/Eventide. The Big Bad for that block was Oona, Queen of the Fae. And exceptionally overpowered.
      • It's not the faeries that are different, though; although the rest of Lorwyn-Shadowmoor cycles every few centuries, Oona's magic protects her faeries from the cycling's effects. They really are little evil bastards, but while the rest of the plane is in is Lorwyn phase, they tone it down.
    • This isn't altogether limited to Lorwyn, although the 'fairytale' nature of the setting certainly emphasized the various creatures' relevant traits. It's canon that the elves of Llanowar on the 'default' plane of Dominaria consider the life of a tree more important than that of a human, and while Magic's faeries may be the small winged pixie type in general, well, see the flavor text on Scryb Sprites if you think they're in any way, shape, or form harmless.
    • In most Magic sets, Elf creatures are very Tolkien-sian. A bit more xenophobic, but Tolkien's elves could be pretty xenophobic to anyone who wasn't the Chosen One too. They're still creatures of order and "live and let live", as shown by the fact that (until the Lorwyn block) the color of mana they are most likely to use, after green, is white. Lorwyn, though, is consciously based on faerie tales, so the predatory, capricious and aristocratic aspects of The Fair Folk got emphasized, and for the duration of the block elves were black secondarily to green instead of white. A tribe switching colors is rare, and switching to a rival color like that is almost unheard of.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons cosmology, the Seelie Court, ruled by Queen Titania, are arrogant elitists who refuse to consider non-Fey people. The Unseelie Court, ruled by the Queen of Air And Darkness, are simply monstrous. Since the Dungeon Master has final say what goes on in his/her world, fey in individual campaigns can vary from one end of the spectrum to the other.
    • While elves are often described as being close to nature and the fey, they are still typed as humanoids; fey has its own type, and includes a very wide array of very strange creatures. In 4E, you may notice that there's not a single good-aligned fey among them...
    • 4e consolidates previous editions' elves into three main groups: the Eladrin (4e's High/Sun/Moon/Star elves), Elves (4e's vanilla/Wood/Wild elves), and Drow (the same ol' dark elves). The Eladrin were given the fey-subtype and elevated to the position of masters of the Feywild (4e's Faerie). The Seelie and Unseelie courts can be found in The Manual of the Planes supplement as the Summer and Winter courts respectively, as well as several other courts.
    • In 4E, you can play a warlock who's sworn fealty to The Fair Folk (or at least got them bent over a log). A lot of your powers rely on deception and flat-out Mind Rape. To give some idea of the kind of company the Fae are keeping here, the other four things a Warlock can pact with are The Legions of Hell (Infernal Pact), the things that hide behind the stars (Star Pact), the unknown aspects of capricious darkness (Dark Pact), & the remnants of dead heroes, dead gods and Sealed Evil in a Can (Vestige Pact).
    • 4E has the Primordials, who combine this trope with Cosmic Horror Story, especially Eldritch Abomination. Besides being responsible for the creation of the world, they would like nothing more than to return it to chaotic mush. Why? No reason, other than being the various embodiments of Elemental Powers who can't fathom why the Physical Gods wish a constant in the universe.
    • Birthright had splitting of Shadow World and the "normal" world, which also ripped all but one original Sie in two — a Sidhe (elf) attuned to (and immortal in) the normal world, able to use wizardry and a Seelie attuned to (and immortal in) the Shadow World, able to use natural magic (druidism) and Seeming. Now when an elf is born on Cerilia, a faerie just "appears" on the other side. So far no one managed to find two counterparts and bring the pair together to see what happens. Though glamour isn't exclusive, they are much better at it than most other Shadow critters.
    • The Elves are as beautiful, shiny and powerful as they usually are. However, even the "good" ones strongly believe all other races to be inferior, though a few tolerate the better (and, ahem, most handsome) humans (but never dwarves or monstrous humanoids). A neutral Elf will kill anything he perceives as a potential threat to the Elves or their forests without a moment's hesitation. The less said about the Elves who are actually evil, the better.
    • The Shadow World make use of the Seelie and Unseelie Court concepts. The Unseelie are as vile and bloodthirsty as you'd expect, but the Seelie can also be very dangerous due to how alien their mindset is. They don't think twice about kidnapping human children like puppies who caught their eye — they tend not to see humans as people. Changeling "pets" see a good care, though, and can fend for themselves (even in the Shadow World) by the time they aren't that cute and Seelie sends them away.
    • In The Points Of Light setting of 4e, in addition to the Eladrin, there are the Fomorians, a race of hideous, evil giants who universally have the powers of "the evil eye" and have the eternal allegiance of all the cyclopses.
    • In Ravenloft, the Arak or "shadow fey" range from meddlesome to Always Chaotic Evil in temperment, and don't limit themselves to stealing infants: if you have a talent or skill that appeals to them, they can sever your shadow, reducing you to a soulless automaton going through the motions. Your shadow becomes a construct that'll compliantly work for them forever. Even Good-aligned Arak insist they're doing them a favor when they practice this technique on mortals.
    • Even the conventional "sylvan fey" of the Land of Mists can be nastier than elsewhere, due to the ambient influence of the Dark Powers throughout the setting.
    • Forgotten Realms used to have few true fairies, but in Counselors and Kings Unseelie are presented as one of the very few things that can truly scare Drow, as opposed to irritate them or cause to back off for now.
    • Some fairies get along with others well, but still are fairly weird. The trio of Glouras (cute singing Underdark sprites with mothlike wings) runs a festhall in Sshamath, de-facto dancing club and concert hall known even to many human bards on the surface. In spin-a-yarn, the Bloody Fist tavern (Waterdeep) has as barmaids and sort of Fanservice "the Laughing Sisters", named so because they always giggle, who like to bite people's ears just for the sweet taste of blood. They help to deal with "problem customers" too.
    • In Pathfinder, a game based on a modified version of D&D 3.5, elves are from a neighboring planet.
    • Though it is is the gnomes who are the Fey-connected people with a more alien perspective on things. The elves may have their quirks, but in comparison their mentality tends to be a tad bit closer to humans (as befits a race native to a Pulp Venus analogue).
    • Fourth Edition also has Heroes Of The Feywild which goes indepth into the home dimension of the fae, from the perspective of both mortal visitors and locals. It also details the various courts, all of which often fit this trope, but especially the Winter Court, which follows a fae prince who is the living embodiment of Love Makes You Evil. It also introduces Pixies as a PC race.
  • The Elves of Ios in the Iron Kingdoms are xenophobic isolationists who have closed off their nation's borders to outsiders. Of the few Elves that do leave their homeland, a fair proportion are assassins who have dedicated their lives to hunting down and killing human wizards and mechanika-users. They do this because they believe that human arcane magic and mechanika are draining the life from their last remaining Physical God, thereby dooming the Elven race to extinction; whether or not this is actually the case has never been conclusively addressed.
    • To say nothing of the Nyssian Elves, who are enslaved body and mind to a monster.
  • The Dark Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 employ this trope in spades. According to 5th Edition Dark Eldar codex writer Phil Kelly, the Dark Eldar were designed with a "faerie-tale elves" look and feel, and it shows; wild hunts on defenceless human cities and worlds to snatch captives, mirrors that shatter and kill the people they're reflecting, witch-like Haemonculi covens that make deals in abstract payments such as your ability to laugh. The Dark Eldar are beautiful, soulless horrors, exactly like the fey folk of old.
    "Malko stumbled backwards, remembering the stories Goodwife Ingrid used to tell him as a child: grisly tales of a changeling folk who came from the skies to steal the innocent away into hell."
    "Ask not the Eldar a question, for they will give you three answers, all of which are true and terrifying to know." - Codex Eldar (4th Ed.)
    • The Harlequins are a sub-faction of Eldar who are basically psychic ninja space elf acrobat jesters, and while they'll travel to human worlds to put on a show and maybe even jump in and help humans fight the forces of Chaos, they're creepy as hell, employ horrific weapons including a Razor Floss punch dagger, and they worship a god dedicated to Magnificent Bastardry.
    • And the scary thing is that the Craftworld Eldar and Harlequins are considered to be the closest thing the setting has to a "good guy", besides maybe the Tau Empire, depending on your interpretation of them. This speaks volumes about the rest of the galaxy's inhabitants.
  • The Elves in Warhammer Fantasy. You get either arrogant bastards (High Elves), xenophobic bastards (Wood Elves) or murderous bastards (Dark Elves).
    • The Wood Elves in Warhammer Fantasy well qualify: they are extremely xenophobic and generally act more like a force of nature than a civilized people. This is especially true with their king, Orion the Hunter, who every spring goes on a rampage around the woods and nearby area with a host of spirits and wild hunters. The Wood Elves also have a habit of capturing human children from the nearby land of Bretonnia, who become their ageless servants. And they live among even more capricious and supernatural forest spirits, in the form of Dryads, Treemen and hosts of tiny malicious sprites, called Spites.
    • Ehhh, High Elves are perhaps an Aversion. True, a good number of them are majorly stuck-up assholes, but some of them are decent enough people. In fact, the High Elf Everqueen, Alarielle, is one of the kindest and most noble beings in the setting (there aren't many of them, that's for sure). And overall, they can be somewhat reasoned with and they have the world's safety in mind. Basically a whole species of Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • In 7th Sea, the Sidhe have an uneasy alliance with the humans of Avalon, based on mutual dependence. The Unseelie are treated as horrifying monsters, but even the Seelie (sometimes called "The Goodly Folk") are regarded with fear and suspicion. The Seelie do not have normal emotions, and because of this, some of them take pleasure in emotionally manipulating humans. They will often torment humans for their own purposes or entertainment, and the Queen of the Sky is known to participate in The Wild Hunt. The GM's Section in the Avalon book encourages GMs to use the Sidhe as antagonists or foils.
  • Rifts and Palladium have a wide range of fairies and nature spirits, some of whom are Scrupulous or Principled and positively nice (such as brownies) while others are nasty, brutish and puckish. Even nice fairies, though, are apt to feed you enchanted food with unpleasant results. The continuity also has the Splugorth, low level cosmic entities who employ magic-resistant species to rob the fae and put them into mystical weaponry.
  • The Scalders in Dragon Dice are the remnants of the fae people, stranded after the bulk of their species shut themselves off from the world to avoid the horrors of the Forever War that the setting is engaged in. Instead of giving up, the Scalders found that there was a whole lot of fun to be had in a warring world - there were plenty of things (and people) to burn or drown, as the race is comprised of elemental fire and water.
  • The Fae are... generally decent in Scion (at least the Irish ones). But they have their rules, and if you break them, it's your ass. The Erl-king (mentioned above) shows up as well, and is a fairly powerful, nasty sort.
  • In Nobilis, Nobles deliberately evoke this trope. The Big Bads seek to unmake reality by twisting seemingly mundane events, so Noble behavior will seem bizarre to ordinary people. Nobles may spend months convincing a random mortal they own a cat, or kill someone because they bought a yellow SUV, and reality itself may very well hinge upon their success.
    • Some Nobles actually are fae in origin - the third edition Power of Silver, for example, is of Daoine Sidhe extraction.
  • The Nobilis spinoff Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine has the Creature of Fable path, which turns the PC into something like this.
  • GURPS Technomancer, a modern-day fantasy setting, has fairies taking the place of The Greys - Seelie and Unseelie encounters involving abductions, lights in the sky, traumatic repressed memories, and rumors of two Seelie being captured near Roswell...
  • In Ars Magica, The Oath of Hermes, the pledge all mages must take if they wish to join the Order of Hermes (and not get hunted down by said order for practicing unapproved magic), contains a specific phrase: "I shall not molest the Fae." Understand, this is in Ars Magica, which isn't exactly lacking in all sorts of nifty demons, monsters, and crazy magic-users to make life more exciting. No, it's The Fair Folk that get singled out: all those other monsters will kill you, or even torment you, but the Fae like to get creative and play with you first.
    • Although the Code does specifically prohibit dealings with the Infernal, it's usually because there's just no way to win against Demons and that kind of thing breeds diabolism (and ends up being what got House Tytalus in trouble). But they tell you do not molest the Fae because although they can be dealt with fairly and can even have good relationships with other denizens of Mythic Europe (as House Merinita can attest), they do not forget being slighted, ever, and they will carry grudges, and they have very creative ways of expressing them. The (usually high-point-value) Flaw "Faerie Enmity" can be taken without actually providing a specific reason: your great-great-grandfather you never even met might've offended some faerie at some point and that's the only reason they need.
    • It's specifically noted that the Fae are incapable of true evil, being soulless and untouched by original sin; they find the thought of genuine malice alien and horrible. Rather, their caprices are the result of Blue and Orange Morality, since their culture is a badly warped imitation of humanity at best and completely alien at worst. One gamebook has a villager mention killing a hideous changeling that had been left in place of one of the women's babies, at which time an old crone lurking in the shadows mutters in disgust that they would have traded the brat back if they'd known the mother was unhappy with the bargain.
  • In the history of the game Fairy Meat humans at one point existed (and still may, but they aren't relevant any more) and were taunted by the Fae, but that time has long since passed. Now all fairies are more busy trying to rip each other apart so they can have some lunch.
  • The Laundry RPG brings faeries into the universe of cthulhoid "information entities." Like the series' demons, they're made up of information strung together through an electromagnetic field, explaining why iron messes them up so badly; similarly, it's said they appear rarely in modern Britain, given how the nation is wired to the gills. They do take children, however, and changelings are explained away as a class four Glamour placed over a poppet made of twigs and string to make it look like it's a real child. And the kids? They're turned into biological computation matrices in order to sustain a field that will keep the faerie in our world.
  • In Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies, ghosts managed to pick up a couple of Fair Folk traits - for example, when traveling the Ghost Sky (which is believed to be full of ghosts), it's considered horribly bad luck to refer to it by its name, so most skysailors use names like the Good Sky. The setting is drawn in very broad strokes, though, meaning that further comparison of ghosts and fairies is really up to the Game Master.
  • Gurps Faerie. Naturally.
    • This volume is modeled on actual folklore which is fitting as Gurps is in a way an interactive form of the oral storytelling tradition.

    Theater 
  • Henrik Ibsen re-used the Shakesperean plot in one of his early plays: St. John´s Eve presents the elves as benign woodland creatures, mostly written as a part of the Scenery Porn.
  • Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland used elves as henchmen for the good guys in some of his more farcical plays. In one of his later plays, the fair folk trope is played straight, as the hulder herself abducts the titular character into the mountain to make him do the dirty work for her (This Hulder is plain evil). The abduction trope is subverted as the hulder´s daugher is lured out of the mountain by a young poet, and the fair folk wants him dead for it.
  • In John Milton's Comus, the Fair Folk have no powers over true virginity — not because they are weak, but because Virgin Power is that strong.
  • In Twice Charmed, Franco DiFortunato wagers the Tremaines' livelihood on their deal.

    Video Games 
  • The Mer from The Elder Scrolls are essentially elves, except each race has its own disturbing trends. The Dunmer, or "Dark Elves", are generally xenophobic, treacherous, slave-owning pricks at the best of times - And incestuous, power-hungry, demon-worshipping, rotting-diseased-flesh-eating madmen at their worst. The Bosmer, or "Wood Elves" are a bunch of plant-worshipping cannibals who have the power to morph together into a nigh-unstoppable Eldritch Abomination whenever their homeland is threatened. The Maormer, or "Tropical Elves", are an exiled race of elves who follow an undying king and have perfected magic dealing with sea serpents. And the Altmer, or "High Elves", are arrogant bastards who've begun worshipping The Daedra like their ancestors did, despite that not being a very good idea then, either...
    • Take this as an example. Mannimarco, the king of all necromancers, a dark lord and worshipper of multiple Daedric Princes, and the Big Bad of Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, is a Dunmer. And he's among one of the first Dunmer seen in the entire franchise.
      • Mannimarco is actually a millenia old Altmer* not a Dunmer as his origins lie in the Psijic Order and Alinor/Summerset Isle.
    • There are also several extinct tribes who display other aspects of the Fair Folk.
    • The Ayleids, also known as the Heartland High Elves, are notorious among humans for their cruel reign over the enslaved humans of Cyrodiil. They worshipped Daedra, practiced necromancy, and crafted artifacts whose nature cannot be easily recreated.
    • The Falmer, or "Snow Elves", have left little of their culture behind. However, their place in Nordic legend is written in a way similar to one speak of the Fair Folk. By the time of Skyrim however they've devolved into blind monsters that inhabit particularly deep crypts and Dwemer ruins.
    • The Dwemer, or "Deep Elves", wiped themselves out by trying to make themselves into gods via Magitek and are remembered by the Dunmer in fables that speak of them like the Fair Folk. They gave the surviving Falmer refuge in exchange for servitude, but fed them fungus which caused their transformation into monsters.
    • The Orsimer, or "Pariah Elves", were a sect of elves who remained dedicated to their god even after he was corrupted after being devoured by another deity and...excreted. The result was a corruption of their form into the Orcs, though they kept their pointy ears.
    • Averted with the Dunmer from Skyrim on. The mutated flesh-eating monster cult was destroyed by the Nerevarine, the slavery thing was abolished by King Helseth, and the xenophobic part was destroyed by the Red Year: nowadays the Dunmer are more often victims of Fantastic Racism than its perpetrators. All the nasty stuff that fell on Dunmer heads actually cleansed them and turned them into the unambiguously nicest elven race of Nirn. And they also have no part in the Aldmeri Dominion, which adds them an extra +1 Good... And another +1 is added by the fact that they are the only nation on Nirn who live in a republic of the non-tyrannical variety.
    • The Daedra often act like the Fair Folk. They will grant gifts to those who please them, but often drive them into insanity or acts of great evil. Most any story involving a Daedric Prince will leave the one striking a deal with the Prince coming out of the situation cursed in some manner.
    • The same world also has Spriggans, half-plant half-woman things who are not too fond of visitors to their forests...
  • The Red Caps of City of Heroes recalls one of the truly nasty varieties of the original Faeries. Their entire reason for being is to torture and torment others in creative ways — their caps were red because they had been dipped in human blood. True to form, they're also extremely dangerous for their level (despite being really, really short).
    • The zone of Croatoa, where the Red Caps run fierce, also has the Fir Bolg, weird pumpkin-headed scarecrows, and the Tuatha de Danaan, who aren't so much the Celtic gods as, well, "wookie moose." And then there are the black sprites that hover around Eochai (the Giant Monster of the Fir Bolg) during the Halloween event, which are called The Unseelie.
    • It is revealed that the Fir Bolg and Tuatha de Danaan are ancient enemies of the Red Caps, who transformed them into those odd forms to torment them even more.
    • This trope is referenced by Justin Augustine at the beginning of his Task Force: "Far out in the center of this region is a place called the Chantry. It's supposed to hold all kinds of vast and ancient secrets, including a powerful being the natives only refer to as 'The Kind One'. Now, a title like that can mean a lot of things in folklore, like trying to placate something monstrous." (Though Faathim the Kind does actually live up to his name, and has a Task Force of his own.)
  • Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters portrays the Arilou Lalee'lay as patronizing Little Green Men who were behind the myths of The Fair Folk, and fit the trope as enigmatic allies with "plans" for humanity.
  • Every encounter with fairy folk in Drakengard is laden with contempt for humans. This trope is most exemplified in the case of Leonard though, as his pact-partner is a malicious fairy who bonded with him seemingly only for the purpose of torturing him over his inability to kill himself. Which should, in hindsight, have driven him to suicide, so annoying was that fairy.
  • In the Shin Megami Tensei games, where All Myths Are True, there are Fairies and Elves around too. And while they're certainly both cute and pretty, that doesn't mean they won't kill you just for being there.
    • Or if you're a pretty Japanese boy, they may just simply kidnap you to be their pet, regardless that you're trying to save the world - which happens to Raidou in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon in a side quest.
    • Or Puck could side with your rival who tries to Love Potion you to abandon the quest, but accidentally get your female party member (the funniest scenes ensue in Shin Megami Tensei II because of this).
  • The pixies in Fable are malicious childlike buggers with raspy voices and a penchant for human sacrifice.
  • The Elves of Dwarf Fortress have a bit of this trope, seeing how they eat people and don't consider this to be in any way reprehensible, while considering lying as bad as murder. It doesn't help that they will besiege you if you cut down too many trees and then proceed to devour your flesh. Since the game perspective in Fortress Mode is from the dwarves, though, they tend to be seen more as annoying than terrifying.

    A more fitting example are the Night Creatures, who resemble the more ogrish and monstrous kinds of Unseelie fairies. Occasional marauders who live in caves, they kidnap mortal spouses and corrupt them into similar beings, when they aren't simply eating their flesh. Their grotesque features are even procedurally generated, so that no two Night Creatures are alike.
  • One of the gods in the roguelike Incursion is Maeve, Queen of the Faeries. All elves are required to worship her; this is not particularly a good thing, because she is utterly amoral and very capricious: sometimes she gives you good equipment, sometimes she surrounds you with out-of-depth monsters.
  • In the Rune Factory games, the faeries are small women with wings who shoot sets of fairly powerful, guided magic wind scythes. At mid-level, these are some of the most dangerous normal opponents.
  • The fair folk from A Tale Of Two Kingdoms are not downright malicious, but tend towards nasty pranks against humans (particularly but not limited to the player character). The powerful and beautiful fairy queen turns out to be not so benevolent as she tries to permanently entrap you in the fairy world.
  • The Folks in Folklore want you dead with a few small exceptions. The "Faeries" are simply the denizens of a realm of the Netherworld created when people dreamed of an afterlife of paradise...but that still doesn't stop the "paradise" from being filled with dozens and dozens of deceased souls that turned into angry Folks that want to kill you.
  • Subverted in the opening of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: Tatl and her brother help Skull Kid steal Link's horse, and then she attacks and taunts Link after Skull Kid turns him into a Deku Scrub. She then takes the role of Exposition Fairy after Skull Kid leaves her behind and stays with Link when she sees Skull Kid try to destroy the world.
    • Possibly played straight with the Skull Kid, referred to along with the kokiri and the winged glowing ball fairies in Ocarina of Time as forest fairies or fairy folk.
    • The bubble family of monsters would seem to count as well.
  • Whilst Erana from Quest for Glory fame is the embodiment of all that's pure and good in the world, and like, fabulous as a person to boot, her fair folk friends and family are power-hungry rogues who are not above stepping on a mere mortal to get their hands on Erana's magical staff to gain more power. Doesn't help they're all high-powered mages like their cousin twice removed.
    • Also played with in the first game, where the hero can be forced to dance with fairies to the point of death.
  • Averted in the King's Quest games. There are wicked ones (Lolotte, Malicia), inscrutable ones (Mab, the Fate Sisters), and benevolent ones (Genesta, Oberon, Titania, and Edgar). Certainly, they can wield magic and have a strange logic on how things should run (The Fan Sequel The Silver Lining also depicts that they prefer to be outside, no matter the weather), but they aren't much different than humans otherwise.
  • Mostly subverted in Tears to Tiara, where The Fair Folk turn out to be pretty nice people indeed. The closest one to this trope is the item shop owner Epona, who at worst is an Honest John. Her shop is even called 'The Good Folk', though this is more of an allusion to mythology (it's set in Britain during the Roman invasion) than a lampshading.
  • Touhou's actual fairies don't really fit beyond being mischevious; they're universally stupid and weak. On the other hand, some of the youkai come pretty close, most obviously Yukari, who is beautiful, mysterious, and the one behind the spiritings away.
  • World of Warcraft has two races of elves: Night Elves and Blood Elves. Night Elves, members of The Alliance, tend to be more benevolent as they're mostly nature lovers, but they are also very fierce warriors who aren't fond of outsiders. The Blood Elves, members of the Horde, are downright evil for the most part as they're very vain and derive their magical power from an imprisoned alien. There are also High Elves, who were the closest to Tolkien's elves, but there are very few left as most of them became Blood Elves. Also, Sylvanas Windrunner, a former High Elf, became a banshee after she died and founded the undead Forsaken, another Horde race (who are arguably also evil by nature since they are undead).
    • For the most part, the Blood Elves that are with the Horde aren't evil. They imprisoned a Naaru out of desperation more than anything else, because they could potentially die without a new source of magic after the destruction of the Sunwell. They haven't been so bad since the Sunwell was restored and they were given the power of the Light. Now they tend to arrogant pricks at worst, and not too much worse than the Night Elves were.
    • The Blood Elves who followed Kael'Thas into Outland, however, are evil and are aligned with a faction of demons that is bent on destroying all life in the universe.
    • The Night Elves made their first appearance attacking the Orcs for cutting down trees. They were also incredibly haughty and xenophobic, ignoring a war going on right in front of them and often attacking both sides with little provocation. It wasn't until the Burning Legion showed up and they had no choice but to team up with both of their enemies that they were finally willing to work with any of the other races. They were also humbled quite a bit after the destruction of the World Tree (which gave them their immortality), and ended up joining the Alliance.
    • Properly speaking, there's a fourth faction of Elves as well, the Naga, former High Elves (from the time when this meant the ruling class of the Night Elves, including their ancient queen, Azshara) twisted by the magical backlash of the destruction of the original Well of Eternity (which ripped the continent apart, leaving the four main continents of Azeroth today) into serpentine forms. They appear bent on retaking their old place as lords of Azeroth. There's quite a waiting line for that spot.
  • RIFT includes faerie as a major faction of bad guy (excepting the rare ones befriended by druids), aligned with Greenscale, the Dragon of Life. Many of them look like typical post-Elizabethan sprites, until you notice one glaring problem with their looks...
    • The playable elf races in Rift have their Fair Folk traits. The high elves spawned House Aelfwar (a bunch of Greenscale cultists), and the Kelari have a cultural divinity complex.
  • Played straight and subverted in the Gretel And Hansel series. While most of the creatures and spirits in the games try to kill Gretel and Hansel, the actual fairies they meet in the second game become their allies.
  • The trope was briefly discussed with the Fey in Recettear. The original faeries were mischievous and conniving, until they found out the hard way that humans can be just as cruel. Current faeries have become subservient to the humans, if only to prevent their race from becoming extinct.
  • The Glomdoring commune of Lusternia traffick with fae including redcaps, barghests and slaugh. Also, their native race, Shadow Faelings, are a cross between The Fair Folk and Drow.
  • The Hidden People, the extremely creepy Gnomes from the Puzzle Agent games.
  • The Mystics of SaGa Frontier used to be this way, and the nobles who dwell in their hidden region still are. Though they have gotten a bit better, and for example hunting humans for sport has fallen out of fashion. Lower caste mystics show the trope best, ranging in appearance from mermaids to large troll-like creatures. The higher level nobles tend to appear as beautiful humans, with the highest level, according to All There in the Manual being the True Vampires.
  • In Dragon Age, people think the Dalish Elves are this and treat them accordingly. Which is unfortunate, given that they are for the most part simply nomadic hunters who just want to be left alone. Speaking of the Dalish, this is also how they perceive Flemeth, an amoral, immmortal shapeshifter and Hidden Agenda Villain.
  • King Arthur The Roleplaying Wargame features both Sidhe courts (Seelie/summer court and Unseelie/winter court) as prominent factions you can ally yourself with if you follow the Old Faith. The Seelie mainly operate on Blue and Orange Morality and are described as honourable and honest 'in their own way' (being Old Faith and Righteous), while the Unseelie are fairy, err, fairly malicious (Old Faith/Tyrant) and and bargains with them usually involve giving them your subjects' children. Allying with either court allows you to hire children the sidhe have "whisked away" as soldiers for your army.
  • The Fae in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. They are also divided into Summer and Winter; Summer representing growth and Winter representing decay, though neither is inherently good or evil. They have mixed feelings about mortals. Some of them dismiss them as short-lived "Dustlings", and others are fascinated by them because of their unique perspective on life and death. The Fae are so powerfully linked to Fate that they do not truly die — they merely repeat their lives in an endless Great Cycle. Fae also occasionally forget that when mortals die, it's for keeps. Fateweaver Argath claims that the Fae are actually easier to understand than mortals because they usually don't change with time. The Tuatha Deohn are a horrific exception to this rule. They are a cult of Winter Fae that have changed thanks to the power of Tirnoch. As a result, they are now brutal warmongers who wish to purge the world of all mortal life.
  • Zigzagged in Guild Wars 2. The sylvari are largely idealistic, honorable, and romantic - except for the Nightmare Court, who believe that these values weaken them and seek to corrupt their brethren by torturing them into a Despair Event Horizon (which also pollutes their Hive Mind, the Pale Tree, and any future sylvari that might be born from it). Notably, the sylvari moral code actually comes from the writings of a pacifistic centaur and human; an optional plotline involves the player character discovering that there is more than one Pale Tree, and having to hide that fact from the Nightmare Court - while the sylvari from one of the other trees is still kind, if a bit standoffish, it's specifically brought up that other communities of sylvari might not be nearly as benevolent.
  • Some Pokémon of the Fairy-type, introduced in Pokémon X and Y, appear to be this, though most of them are closer to modern depictions. It's worth noting that despite their appearances, Fairy-types are super effective against Dragon-type Pokémon, which previously only had the weakness of ice or other dragons. They're also weak against the Steel-type, taking extra damage from it.
    • Gardevoir, (Retconned as Psychic/Fairy along with its pre-evolutions) easily fits the description of "inhumanly beautiful", and is in fact unrelated to humanoid Pokémon — its closest biological relatives include sundry Ghost-type Pokémon and walking sludge. It's nowhere near as malevolent as this trope usually is though, and in fact wants to protect its trainer at all costs.
    • Mawile was also retconned as Steel/Fairy. It's not necessarily evil, but it has a huge jaw in the back of its head (two when in Mega Form) and uses it to chomp its opponents after luring them with its cute appearance and gestures.
    • Mr. Mime, Whimsicott, and Klefki fit the mischievous type of fairy to a T. Mr. Mime is highly adept at tricking people and stealing from them, Whimsicott slips through people's houses and makes a mess of them for fun, and Klefki has a habit of stealing people's keys. Fittingly, Whimsicott and Klefki both have the Prankster ability.
    • Xerneas, being a legendary, also fits the classic fairy definition to a T; while not malevolent (it actually serves as something akin to a god of renewal), it is majestic, otherworldly, difficult for humans to comprehend, and extremely powerful.

    Webcomics 
  • The Elves in 8-Bit Theater. Especially Thief.
    Thief: Like it says in our national anthem Elfland, and fuck you too, "We are a race of total bastards"
  • In the webcomic Chasing the Sunset, Pixies are not evil per se but are chaos incarnated. The kind of things you do not want in a fireworks shop.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court Fairies are about halfway between the cute Pixie and the chaotic trickster types. They're capricious and largely lacking in tact and empathy, but the only harm they've done is emotional rather than physical, and mostly directed at other Fairies rather than humans. Still, this behavior provoked stunned silence (and breaking the Gosh Dangit To Heck rule) from the protagonists.
    • To add to their alien-ness, the City Face interlude shows that they don't distinguish between lengths of distance and lengths of time.
    • Penchant for mischief belongs to the cute part.
    • Chapter 36 revisits Foley House, where former fairies and other Gillitie Wood creatures go, specifically the class of those four ex-fairies we have seen in Chapter 15. Etheric side of the classroom is effectively one crazy playground, and inhabitants generally are childish, but so adorable and hilarious that Annie puts up with their manners (or rather lack thereof) and joins the fun... not that everything was so simple.
  • A major arc of Tales of the Questor pits the Kid Hero against some of the nastiest members of The Fair Folk. In this case, fae are split up into Seleighe and Unseleighe, both of which were originally a home-built immortal Servant Race, supernaturally compelled to follow obscure and poorly known rules in addition to any promises they make. The former are suggested to be a healthy lawful neutral with a minor fondness for some mortal species, but the Unseleighe are lawful only to the letter of the law, willing to rip a pet bird apart or steal human children for their own entertainment, and in the words of Quentyn's narration live to "see how evil they can be without breaking the rules". The Wild Hunt ensues, showing how dangerous they are.
    • The setting also contains fairies closer to the cute and friendly version, who only interact with the material plane to drop glowing rocks in small circles, inside which living creatures occasionally hear the sounds from another dimension trickle over.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures may or may not invoke this trope; while the fae seem mostly good on the surface, at worst being strange and random, it has been shown that Mab, one of the title characters, has secretly been manipulating her friends for her own (unknown) ends for an indefinite length of time. What she has been doing so far seems to be to their benefit, but only as far as we know...
  • In Arthur, King of Time and Space, the Fey have agreed to help Morgan become queen, for impenetrable reasons of their own (hence "Morgan le Fey"). However, they don't actually seem to be all that bright...
  • Fey in Code Name: Hunter seem to be mostly a combination of the Scottish and Irish traditional fair folk. Including kidnapping of mere mortals in order to pay tithe to Hell.
  • Used as a subversion (of the popular version) in The Parking Lot Is Full.
  • Sandoval, the Xoan Ambassador from Oglaf.
  • In Roommates (and in its Spin-Off s Girls Next Door and Down the Street) The Fair Folk is the (magical) third option between Heaven and Hell and one ''happy'' family so all related to the token fair teammate Jareth. They seem to actually invoke Interspecies Romance to increase their numbers and make the magic family tree *somewhat* healthier and accidentally created the Witch Species (those hybrids who aren't strong or fair enough) in the process so any magical talent implies Fair(y) Relatives. They also do everything any selfrespecting fae of this trope does, the child stealing included and... let's just say that almost all things Nightmare Fuel and Fridge Horror in the series have something to do with them.
  • Spina Cage has had a single faerie appear so far. He tries to eat the main character.
  • Hexenringe shows the faerie-like Xili viewing activity in the human world.
  • Blindsprings has the masked spirits to whom Tamaura is contracted. At time of writing their benevolence has yet to be established.

    Web Original 
  • Faeophobia is a series of highly erotic stories with an unusual (and generally sympathetic) depiction of the Fae. In this scenario, the Fae are a group of very highly nymphomaniacal races, who move en masse to Earth from Faerie, due to magic having become inactive there and active on Earth, which had caused them to start dying out. In this depiction, the Fae are generally non-hostile, (sex is their primary form of interaction with humans) but they are still highly chaotic, and tend to cause severe social disruption; although in this case, primarily in the form of orgies.
  • In The Gamers Alliance, the Faerfolc are mysterious and powerful beings who can turn out to be friendly (provide a blessing) or hostile (kill or torture anyone who trespasses on their lands) depending on the circumstances... and what mood they happen to be in when you meet them. When they were released from captivity, they offered cryptic advice to the heroes but later on rampaged in Libaterra, killing hundreds of people in their lust for revenge before retreating back to the forests to live their life in peace. Currently the fey have two factions: the neutral, tradition-bound ones led by Morrigan who wish to live away from the corruption of mortal civilizations, and the fanatic destroyers led by Curdardh who wish to purge the world from "impure" races.
  • Phantasia has fairies trying to kill humans for what they've done to the planet.
  • There are theories that the Slender Man may or may not be an example; one of the earliest tales is that he dwells in a forest and does something with naughty children.
  • The Ellehemaei (all the main characters) in Addergoole.
  • The ThinkGeek website recently invoked this trope on their newly released "Candy Unicorn Horn" item.
    • "We made a deal with faeries to get these candy treats"
    • "(Seriously, we could have died. We probably still will. Faeries are tricky.)"
  • In the Whateley Universe, the Faerie are an ancient race who think of humans as pets raised (originally) in a garden world. They apparently feel the same way about werewolves. Fey, one of the protagonists, was changed into her current appearance by an ancient Faerie spirit who now resides in Fey's head. While Fey is inhumanly beautiful, in "Ill Winds" her true form is a luminescent energy form that isn't remotely human.
  • In Tales Of Mu, Elves fall somewhere between this and a deconstruction of Our Elves Are Better.
  • Mentioned, but so far unseen, in The Saints.

    Western Animation 
  • A lot of the spirits from Avatar: The Last Airbender . Especially Koh, a giant centipede spirit who delights in stealing people's faces....
  • Brian Froud's Fairies was adapted as a half hour animated special in the 1980's.
  • The Fairly OddParents — the magical creatures, even those not from Western mythology, all seem to have a bit of this. Jorgen Von Strangle is an absolute sadist and Da Rules seem to mostly be made to frustrate everyone and do not help much. Norm the Genie has no clue that inflating a balloon that looks like a child's head and causing it to explode when you say that you want to "give each and every child a great big smile" is not a good idea if you want votes (and the fairies don't have too much of a clue about that either). Cosmo has no clue that falling for various beautiful woman would upset anyone (including his wife). Pixies don't know fun is fun and boring is not (or they don't care) and desire the entire world to be boring. Santa Claus is a two-timer that flirts with female genies after Norm explodes from magic back-up. Santa also acts quite selfish and gluttonous in "Have A Merry Wishmas". Cupid is greedy and can be bribed to do stuff for money, as well as being Prideful. And it does this even though they are Fairy Companions. Finally we have Anti-Fairies, who kill time by giving humanity bad luck, cheat at the Fairy Olympics and have gotten to the point of destroying the world... and they're the only ones who are honest about it.
    • Also, the April Fool in "Fools Day Out" called causing the Earth to go into an Ice Age by hitting several planets and stuff is a "prank" or "joke".
    • One episode also has "Scary Fairies". A state brought on by a fairy being stuck in pitch black for too long, who compulsively desire to eat their Godkid. Fortunately it's all just a practical joke on Timmy.
    • In "Crocker of Gold" there a bunch of leprechauns called the McPunchies, compare to previous leprechauns, they're a bunch of muscular mob like clan who want their pot of gold back from Crocker(to be clear they want the pot not the gold).
  • The "Third Race" from Gargoyles. Against Oberon iron is an effective and painful weapon. Some humans fighting him learned even the knell of an iron bell would harm him. That said, the nature and doing as they please is still very true. Especially the episode when Oberon and Titania were out to capture Xanatos's son Alexander for the Gathering. Goliath thought it was so vile that he actually sides with Xanatos to prevent Alexander's capture.
    • Oberon is consistently depicted in the series as capricious, vain and arrogant, making and breaking edicts on a whim. Sure, he'll say his magic will never harm you and yours, and it won't... until he wants it to.
    • Aside from their jerkass leaders, the other "Children of Oberon" in the series vary greatly in personality, disposition, and form. Though they all tend to be pretty mischievous, even the ones that like humans and Gargoyles.
    • Interestingly, Word of God has said they used to be a whole lot worse. After being banished from Avalon most changed considerably; besides Oberon who, at the time, was mature and compassionate in comparison. And don't even get started on his mother.
    • Titania, his wife, seems to be of the other type thankfully, and is more than capable of controlling her husband. Unfortunately, she's the instigator for the incident with Alexander. And then also the instigator for the interference of the Gargoyles.
    • On the other hand, Puck is Owen.
  • The Mask, possibly as a nod to the considerably more violent and murderous character in the original comic, once met a fairy who'd been an ally to the Mask for the past 4000 years, and considers things like melting the skin off bones to be all in good fun. He soon realises that this Mask is different, and the Mask ends up dragging him off... to school.
  • The changelings in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, whose queen disguises herself as Princess Cadance in order to open up Canterlot's defenses.
    • Discord, somewhere between a spirit of bedlam and a god of chaos, hews closer to the characterization of fairies and their ilk as being spiteful and petty.
  • Winx Club, of all cartoons. For the greater part of the show, fairies are presented as kind and compassionate. Then, in season 4, we meet Earth fairies. Who, as soon as they're freed from their prison, they embark in a genocidal quest to exterminate mankind. The Winx eventually manage to get them to stand down, but only after they had decimated Gardenia with plants and threatened to freeze the world.
  • In Ducktales, the leprechauns that Scrooge McDuck and his nephews meet aren't evil per see, but they are willing to kill anyone who trespasses on their property, even by dumping them into a snake pit in their castle. (This almost happens to the protagonists, but when the Leprechaun King finds out that they were invited by the leprechaun who brought them there - despite the fact that the leprechaun in question is a Snake Oil Salesman - he decides they can't do that.)
  • Sabrina: The Animated Series has two Faeries visit the mortal realm on vacation, posing as Canadian exchange students. They're immediately established as mischievous by playing pranks on Gem and friends. They like the mortal realm so much they lure two of Sabrina's friends to the Faerie Realm intending to make them eat some Faerie food - so they can take their place in the mortal realm. Oh and they're racist against mortals too.


Now turn around thrice Widdershins, spit, and touch iron...
Due to the DeadChivalric RomanceFallen On Hard Times Job
Evil OverlordArchetypal CharacterFather Neptune
The EmpathUrban Fantasy TropesFriendly Neighborhood Vampire
Eldritch AbominationIndex of Gothic Horror TropesOur Gargoyles Rock
Eyepatch of PowerOlder Than PrintFanfare
Faceless EyeOtherness TropesFantastic Anthropologist
Our Orcs Are DifferentFantastic Sapient Species TropesOur Goblins Are Different
The Eyes Have ItSpeculative Fiction TropesThe Federation
Exact EavesdroppingFairy Tale TropesFairest of Them All
Comic BooksImageSource/Comic BooksHistorical Villain Upgrade
Face of an Angel, Mind of a DemonVillainsFair Play Villain
DeconstructionCyclic TropeAll Women Are Lustful
Christmas ElvesIndex of Fictional CreaturesThe Wild Hunt

alternative title(s): Fair Folk; The Sidhe; Unseelie Faeries
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