[[caption-width-right:300:Venice ain't what it used to be.]]

An old archetype, the ferryman is a character (and sometimes DeusExMachina) who acts as a guide or aid to another character, allowing them to travel over near impossible obstacles to reach (or at least ''help'' reach) a specific destination.

The most classic depiction is Charon of the River Styx[[note]]early sources have him ply the River Acheron instead[[/note]], [[{{Psychopomp}} who aided souls across said river]] if he was paid, as there was a worse price to pay if you tried to swim through the waters. And like Charon, the archetype's representative need not be good or even evil; the character need not also be a ''literal'' ferryman; practically anything that can transport something/someone from one place to another is considered acceptable, including flight, teleportation, or even "dream walking".

In some cases the Ferryman is the neutral counterpart to the {{Mentor|s}}, even adviser, as the ferryman can guide through more than just the obstacles of the physical spectrumů though usually at a price/reason of fair enough degree (be it a coin of burial gold, or a promise to aid the nation's resistance against the [[TheEmpire Empire]].)



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Botan of ''Manga/YuYuHakusho'' [[note]]along with the other ferry girls[[/note]] is the Japanese equivalent of the Ferryman, which is why she wields a paddle as a weapon.
* Oddly enough, Truth in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' (only in the manga and second anime). He is neutral, requires a toll, is oddly personal, knows more than he's saying, and is connected to death.
* In ''Manga/SaintSeiya'', the heroes come across the Acheron river after arriving on Hades's Underworld. In order to get across it, they need to be escorted by Acheron Charon, one of the Specters under Hades. Like its classic counterpart, he allows the Saints of Athena to embark on his boat even though they're enemies, as long as they can pay the equivalent toll, which is paid by Shun with a pendant he had as a memento of his mother.
* Enma Ai's job in ''Anime/HellGirl'' is to ferry people across the Sanzu River to Hell after they are sent there by means of Hell Correspondence. [[spoiler:As of the end of the fourth season, Michiru has the same job.]]

* Art/SistineChapel: Charon, who brought the dead to the Underworld in [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Greek myth]], is featured in ''The Last Judgement'' with a boat full of the damned. Not that he's trying to be helpful, as he has raised his oar and held it back to scare them off his boat right into a pile of grabby demons.

[[folder:Card Games]]
* Sylvan Ferrylotus in the ''TabletopGame/YuGiOh TCG''. In his artwork, he's guiding Marshalleaf to his next destination. In Sylvan Waterfall Ride, Ferrylotus looks scared and steadies himself by holding onto the lotus leaf. Despite this, the Peaskeeper trio is still heading for their next destination.
* One of the gods of Theros (each inspired by Greek deities) in ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' is Athreos who's an {{Expy}} of Charon. His duties are incorporated into his card's effect, which forces your opponent to pay a toll of life in order to ensure that your creatures stay dead.

* ''ComicBook/TwoThousandAD'':
** In ''[[ComicBook/TheGrievousJourneyOfIchabodAzrael The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead Left in His Wake)]]'', the ferryman appears as a grizzled old prospector type who carries each soul down the river towards judgement. [[spoiler:He's also the instigator of the whole series as [[DeathTakesAHoliday he wanted to escape an eternity of service by going to the land of the living]]. He manipulated Ichabod to create a portal there by giving him fake memories of a woman he loved as well as the means to fight demons and angels. However, if Charon just abandons his job, all reality will start to unravel.]]
** One of the various contract killers who inhabit [[{{megacity}} Downlode]] in ''Comicbook/{{Sinister Dexter}}'' is named Charon, and he has a day job as a taxi driver. His eyes are purple with white skulls for pupils. Kal Cutter is the first person ever to notice the symbolism.
* In the series ''ComicBook/AllStarSuperman'', Lex Luthor has his niece Nasthalthia, who acts as a ferryman by rowing Clark Kent to safety.
* In the graphic novel ''ComicBook/{{Heck}}'', which takes place in [[Literature/TheDivineComedy Dante's version of Hell]], both Charon and Phlegyas make appearances.
* In the original ''ComicBook/TheBooksOfMagic'' miniseries, the Trenchcoat Brigade (the Phantom Stranger, John Constantine, Doctor Occult and Mister E) serve as ferrymen for Tim Hunter, showing him DC's Post-Crisis magical universe, its many worlds, its history, and its future.

* ''Film/GhostShip'' John Ferryman.
* In ''Film/OperationDumboDrop'', Goddard is a cheerful French boatman, who loves the Americans, complete with having a framed photo of UsefulNotes/LyndonJohnson. Captain Cahill, [[GenreSavvy who has worked with Goddard in the past]], turns the picture over, to reveal [[DoubleAgent a photo of Ho Chi Minh]].
-->'''Goddard:''' What can I say? [[TrueNeutral I love everybody]].
* Han Solo in ''Franchise/StarWars Film/ANewHope'' explicitly [[NotInThisForYourRevolution only signs on to give Luke and Obi-Wan a ride]] to the planet Alderaan to take the [[MacGuffin Death Star plans]] to Bail Organa, and [[OnlyInItForTheMoney for a considerable fee at that]]. He gets caught up in the rest of the adventure when [[EarthShatteringKaboom Alderaan goes bye-bye]] courtesy of the Death Star, they are captured by the Imperials and he ends up helping rescue Princess Leia.
* In the original 1981 ''Film/{{Clash of the Titans|1981}}'', Charon appears as a [[DemBones living skeleton]] ferrying Perseus and party across the River Styx to Medusa's lair. Charon also appears in the [[Film/{{Clash of the Titans|2010}} remake]] as a living skeletical ship.

* There's a character in ''[[Literature/HisDarkMaterials The Amber Spyglass]]'' who is basically Charon, though he's not named. He (unwillingly, as they're not actually dead yet) ferries Lyra and Will to the land of the dead.
* The Ferryman plays a very important symbolic role in Creator/HermannHesse's ''Siddhartha'', where he enables Siddartha to pass between various phases in his life.
* In ''Literature/AnElegyForTheStillLiving'' Acheron himself shows up...as the name of an ocean, which then proceeds to play this trope straight.
* In ''Literature/TheFriendshipSong'', the ferryman appears as Harper and Rawnie's school principal, demanding gold or something worth gold.
* In ''Literature/WarriorCats'', this role is shared by all of [=StarClan=]. They pick one of their warriors to guide a cat who is dying to them, usually one who was important in the dying cat's life.
* In ''Literature/ForLoveOfEvil'', when Satan has just assumed the Office, he tries to order Charon to take the soul of a woman who is struggling in the Styx. Eventually, he succeeds through the power of song (one of his main gifts).
* One is encountered in ''Discworld/{{Wintersmith}}'' who happens to have the same [[AC:accent]] as [[TheGrimReaper a certain recurring character]]. He tries to extort the heroes for an additional fee to take them ''out'' of the Underworld, but is thwarted when the [[PintSizedPowerhouse Nac Mac]] [[ViolentGlaswegian Feegle]] [[TooSpicyForYogSothoth threaten to stay]].
* ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'':
** The first one is Charon, the [[TropeCodifier classic archetype]]. He ferries the souls of the recently deceased sinners across the river Acheron to Hell.
** The second one is Phlegyas[[note]]Phlegyas was a Greek king whose daughter was raped by Apollo. He became so enraged that he burned down a temple dedicated to said god, getting killed by Apollo in retaliation. This, in Dante's mind, was enough to make him a symbol of wrath[[/note]], who ferries Dante and Virgil across the Styx in the fifth circle of Hell.
** The third one is an angel who guides ferries the souls of the repentant dead to the foot of Mount Purgatorio. This angelic figure, with its great speed and holy guise, contrasts with the gruesome beings that travel throughout the Inferno Dante had just climbed out of.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' ("Barge of the Dead"). Klingons who die without honor aren't allowed into Valhalla (or "Sto-vo-kor"), but are instead sentenced to Gre'thor, their version of Hell. The Barge of the Dead is the mythological ship to Gre'thor, captained by Kortar, the very first Klingon. When Kortar became more powerful than the gods who created him, he destroyed them, and, as punishment, he was condemned to ferry the souls of the dishonored for all eternity.

* Music/ChrisDeBurgh's early-'80s hit "Don't Pay The Ferryman" is a rather straightforward retelling of the Ferryman trope.

[[folder:Myths & Religion]]
* Myth/ClassicalMythology: Charon is the TropeCodifier.
* Myth/MesopotamianMythology: Urshanabi is the literal UrExample.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/WraithTheOblivion'' has the Ferrymen, a society of wraiths who have sworn an oath to protect those who seek [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Transcendence]], and to police the Underworld for those who would abuse the living. Charon was one of them, back when they first began, but they went separate ways after Charon became ruler of Stygia, the Western Underworld. They are not quite like other wraiths; their initiation ritual transforms them, giving them powers and weaknesses other wraiths do not share (it should be noted that Charon never underwent the ritual, though he's unique in other ways).
* ''{{TabletopGame/Pathfinder}}'' features Charon as not just a ferryman, but also as one of TheFourHorsemenOfTheApocalypse, and consequently a NeutralEvil OmnicidalManiac.

* [[spoiler:Eponine and Fantine]] serve as the ferrymen to the afterlife for [[spoiler:Jean Valjean]]. [[spoiler:Fantine]] appears first, [[DarkReprise echoing]] Valjean's words to comfort [[spoiler:her as she's dying]] before disappearing when Cosette and Marius enter. However, when [[spoiler:Valjean]] is fully dead, the pair come to him and take him to heaven, where [[spoiler:Enjolras, Gavroche, and the other dead students]] are waiting. In the 2012 film, [[spoiler:Eponine]] is replaced by the Bishop from early in the show (despite the fact that the Bishop's death is only mentioned in the book and not in the show or movie).
* Played with in ''Theatre/AVeryPotterMusical''. After Dumbledore's apparent death, Rumbleroar, the [[TheCuckoolanderWasRight thought-to-be-fake headmaster of the thought-to-be-fake wizarding school on ''Mars'', Pigfarts]], appears to take Dumbledore away to Pigfarts. It's a very bizarre scene, to say the least.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* The Great Mizuti is happy to be this and the deus ex machina for ''VideoGame/BatenKaitos''! Ta-ladi-da-di-da, Ta-ladi-da.
* The Ferryman is a recurring character in the ''Franchise/{{Castlevania}}'' series. He has appeared in ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaIISimonsQuest'' and ''VideoGame/CastlevaniaSymphonyOfTheNight''.
* ''VideoGame/TheCurseOfMonkeyIsland'' has one, but it's the Lost Welshman who needs a compass so that he can send Guybrush to Skull Island.
** In ''VideoGame/TalesOfMonkeyIsland'', [[spoiler:when Guybrush arrives at the Crossroads Gateway as a GhostPirate,]] he encounters a skeletal Ferryman with a gold tooth who keeps his boat clean and bears a slight resemblance to the Lost Welshman; except that this Ferryman needs to be paid with "the golden eyes of everlasting sleep", i.e., two gold coins that are placed on the eyes of the dead, so that he can ferry arriving souls to the Center of the Crossroads (just like in Greek mythology), after which he'll no longer appear once his journey is complete.
* ''Franchise/FinalFantasy'' has the techno genius Cid, who, in most of his incarnations, has eventual access to an airship that can sometimes even go beyond the main world in question!
* In ''VideoGame/GrimGrimoire'', the Ferryman Charon is a unit you can create. In addition to being a troop transport unit, it can also [[GrievousHarmWithABody ''throw'']] its passengers at the enemy in a pinch.
* In ''VideoGame/SamAndMaxBeyondTimeAndSpace'' episode 5, Harry Moleman takes the literal role of Charon as a conductor for the [[AfterlifeExpress SoulTrain]].
* The Boatman in ''VideoGame/MediEvil'' is surprised to see Sir Dan again, since he usually only takes passengers on one-way trips. He offers you transport to the next level if you find him some Lost Souls (what with the dead rising, he lost track of them).
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'''s Komachi Onozuka is technically a {{Shinigami}}, but she works as a ferrywoman rather than a reaper. She's simultaneously TheSlacker and BrilliantButLazy - Komachi goes at a slow pace and accumulates a huge work backlog, but spends a lot of time [[DontFearTheReaper having friendly chats]] with each soul she ferries across the Sanzu River to be judged by her superior, or takes breaks to give advice to the living.
* ''VideoGame/KingsQuestIIRomancingTheThrone'' has one to help Graham to the vampire's castle. The FanRemake version gets creepier as he WasOnceAMan, and knows why Graham is there, but will ferry him anyway. A second one is in ''VideoGame/KingsQuestVIHeirTodayGoneTomorrow'', literally ferrying the souls of the dead across the underworld's river--if they have their fare, that is. If you don't have yours, [[EverythingTryingToKillYou you die]].
-->[[HaveANiceDeath "Hey! That's not fare!"]]
* In ''VideoGame/SecretOfMana'', you meet a cute creature named Karon (a mistranslation of "Charon") in the desert, who will ferry you through the Sea of Stars to the Moon Palace... without cost, of course.
* In ''VideoGame/SecretOfEvermore'', there is a desert ferryman who will ferry you across the desert to the Nobilia Trading Market... at the cost of [[NoHeroDiscount one Amulet of Annihilation]]. He's chatty for a skeleton, constantly remarking on the desert scenery like a tour bus captain.
* In the NES game ''VideoGame/DayDreaminDavey'', one of the stages of Ancient Greece has Charon in Hades' underworld lair who will guide Davey through the River Styx at the cost of one coin.
* In ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' ActionAdventure spin-off game, ''The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard'', the ferryman is a large upper half of a skeleton attached to the ferry itself. Though [[TheSpeechless silent]], he will take you to the Isle of N'Gasta only when you pay three gold pieces.
* Charon himself appears in ''VideoGame/GodOfWarChainsOfOlympus''. [[spoiler: You kill him.]]
* ''VideoGame/ZorkGrandInquisitor'' has you paying Charon, who appears as a skeletal ferryman in a jaunty blue and white cap, in order to cross into Hades as part of your quest. Of course, calling Charon in the first place is [[ForInconveniencePressOne a puzzle in itself]], as is getting back when he refuses to let anyone make return trips.
* Charon is in ''Videogame/DantesInferno'' as the boat that leads damned souls to their judgment in Hell. Since so many people went to Hell, he's had to grow to gargantuan sizes.
* Across the ''Franchise/ShinMegamiTensei'' series, he has appeared with some regularity - he appeared as a Persona of the Death Arcana in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 2}}'' and in an actual gameplay role in ''VideoGame/ShinMegamiTenseiIV''. Should you die, you will be taken before him at the shores of the Styx - except he's massively overworked and quite willing to look the other way to take you back. The problem is doing so is technically against his duties as a ferryman, but no worries there... [[EveryManHasHisPrice Macca opens all doors]].
* One is encountered in the AncientGreece levels of ''VideoGame/{{Daikatana}}'', forcing you to find some drachma to pay him with before you can proceed to the next stage.
* In ''VideoGame/UltimaVII'', an undead creature called TheFerryman will transport mortals to and from the doomed island city of Skara Brae, for the price of 2 gold.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Shadowgate}}'', there is a ferryman who leads the player character to the final boss's room. Passage requires a large gold coin, but only needs to be paid once.
* Captain Briney serves this role in ''VideoGame/PokemonRubyAndSapphire''. After rescuing his Wingull Peeko from a {{Mook}}, he offers to ferry you aroud, letting you freely go between Petalburg City, Dewford Island, and Slateport City, all several hours before you can teach your pokemon surf to go there by yourself.
* ''VideoGame/{{Undertale}}'' has a mysterious hooded riverman ([[AmbiguousGender "Or am I the riverwoman...? It doesn't really matter."]]) who will rather cheerfully row you back to previous areas once you reach Hotland.
* ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' has an example PlayedForLaughs, a goofy [[MageKiller templar]] you need to convince to take you to the [[MageTower Circle of Magi]]. Depending on your active PlayerParty, you have various options, including him being DistractedByTheSexy... or offering him a bribe of cookies. (The game files instruct the voice actor to play him as a Monty Python-like character.)

[[folder: Web Comics]]

* The one in ''Webcomic/MonsterSoup'' has NoNameGiven, likely because of his NominalImportance beyond his role as a ferry man.
* Charon himself shows up in several strips of ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'' in the Imperial Rome and Death themes, [[http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/1139.html beginning here]].

[[folder:Web Original]]
* The Merchant from Perseth recovers a drowning Applejack in ''[[Blog/AskAPony Ask Crapplejack]]'' and becomes her guide during her time in the Interstice dimension.
* Charon is waiting for the player character if you die in ''VideoGame/OedipusInMyInventory''.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Animaniacs}}'' has Charon appear to help the Warner Brothers (and Sister) escape from Hell. [[CrowningMomentOfFunny And then he sings with them.]] No, really.
* [[WorldOfSymbolism Potentially referenced in]] ''WesternAnimation/OverTheGardenWall'' via the character of Beatrice (note the name reference to ''Literature/TheDivineComedy)''. In Chapter 6, she helps Wirt and Greg sneak aboard a ferry whose crew and passengers are all frogs. They don't have the [[Myth/ClassicalMythology two pennies required to pay for the ride]] and find themselves pursued by law enforcement. [[spoiler:Given the revelation that the boys [[NearDeathExperience are fighting for their lives]], many viewers have wondered whether they don't have the money because they aren't dead.]]
* "Hanging By a Thread" episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheRealGhostbusters'' has the Ghostbusters going to hell and meeting Charon in the Styx river. He agrees to transport them in exchange of a sandwich.