open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Nichijou Principal Shinonome battles a deer in hand-to-hoof combat, in a sequence which may be symbolic, mystic or just Yuuko's imagination. It's certainly a numinous moment.
- Princess Mononoke tells of the hunt to take the head of the Deer God, the avatar or embodiment of the life of the sacred forests of Japan. By day he is a deer-like god of life with tapir-like feet, a human-like face, and bushy antlers. By night he is the vaguely-bipedal, star-spangled-black god of death. Killing him is a hugely bad idea — all the sacred forests in Japan immediately die, and the beheaded death-god comes close to killing all humans as well.
- Invoked in the original Mobile Suit Gundam. The Zeong, a Mobile Suit designed to use Psychic Powers, has a pair of comms antennae designed to look like antlers to emphasize its "supernaturalness".
- In some variants of The Famous Flower of Serving Men, the king is hunting and led off by a milk-white hind.
Oh the hind she broke, the hind she flew
The hind she trampled the brambles through
First she'd mount and then she'd sound
Sometimes before, sometimes behind
- In A Lyttle Gest of Robin Hood, Little John uses the tale of one — which, he claims, is green — to lure the sheriff into the woods.
- In The Sandman, Cluracan of Faerie has a Wild Hart as his nemesis.
- In IDW's comics for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, volumes 27 and 28 involves an encounter with a civilisation of magical deer who are essentially Equestria's version of elves, with nature magic entirely alien to the ponies. Unfortunately, they's infamous amongst the fandom for invoking all of the worst "elves are arrogant!" tropes and consequently are deeply hated by the fans.
- In The King Who Would Be Stronger Than Fate, he finds the hermit who tells him his daughter's fate while hunting.
In the course of the beat his dogs disturbed a beautiful snow-white stag, and directly he saw it the king determined that he would have it at any cost. So he put the spurs to his horse, and followed it as hard as he could gallop.
- Princess Desiree in Madame d'Aulnoy's The Hind in the Wood is turned into a white doe when she is exposed to sunlight by an evil lady-in-waiting (as per a curse). Her fiance, not knowing that she is his bride-to-be, becomes fascinated with her and pursues her through the woods.
- The Brothers Grimm:
- "The Two Brothers": One brother, having rescued a princess from the dragon and married her, goes hunting in The Lost Woods and is lured into danger by a snow-white hart.
- A Justified Trope in "Brother and Sister": When a king goes hunting in the forest where Brother and Sister are living in a hidden cottage, the Brother, who has been turned into a roebuck by his wicked stepmother, makes a game of making the hunters chase him, then hides in the cottage for the night. Eventually, the pursuit of the mysterious roebuck which wears a golden collar leads the king to the cottage, where he meets a beautiful woman (the Sister) whom he falls instantly in love with and who becomes his wife.
- In It's a Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door, the Deer of Shimmerwood are the setting's equivalent of wood elves.
- In its sequel, the elf parallel is stronger, with different deer races once being capable of using an aspect of the Elements of Harmony. Now, the deers' connection is superficial at best.
- The sequel to The God Empress of Ponykind also uses deer as an elf equivalent. Unfortunately, that equivalent is also based on the Eldar, and several of the deer are xenophobic pricks.
Films — Animated
- Bambi. Bambi's father is the Great Prince of the forest who guards the woodland creatures from the dangers of hunters.
- The large stag in Fantasia 2000 that awakens the Sprite of Spring at the end of winter, and then revives and comforts her after the Firebird wreaks havoc on the forest.
- The large (to the characters) deer in Epic that Nod and MK take a romantic, sunset ride on.
- In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first creature to reveal itself in the forest to Snow White is a fawn.
Films — Live-Action
- Snow White and the Huntsman approach a marvelous deer deep in the forest that seems to be some kind of nature spirite. The sequence is very visually similar to the above-mentioned scene in Princess Mononoke.
- In C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the protagonists are hunting a stag that grants wishes when they stumble back out of the wardrobe.
- In Kate Seredy's The White Stag, it leads them onward at various times.
- Harry Potter's patronus is a stag, to symbolise his father's animal form and that he's still watching over him. The seventh book also prominently features a mysterious silver doe that leads Harry to the Sword of Gryffindor. It's actually Snape's patronus, and represents Lily, the woman he loved.
- James Thurber's The White Deer. Its nature is central to the story.
- In the Dragonlance novel Dragons of Autumn Twilight, the Forestmaster is a sentient, majestic deer that charges the Heroes of the Lance to travel to Xak Tsaroth to retrieve the Disks of Mishakal, an ancient artifact that could help bring back Krynn's gods.
- P. N. Elrod's 'His Father's Son' features a mystical boy character who entered a dreamworld-like setting and communicated with a white stag as a spirit guide.
- In the Magic Tree House, Merlin is able to turn into a stag.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, while they are in the Mirkwood, the party is actually attacked by a black hart that knocks Bombur into the river. Thorin kills it. Later, they see a shining white doe and fawn - unfortunately by that time the dwarves are mostly starved, half-mad, and try to shoot them.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
- Artemis' chariot is pulled by a pair of silver deer that can fly. Percy thinks they look like Santa's reindeer, which she takes credit for inspiring.
- In the The Demigod Files short story "The Sword of Hades", Thalia is led to meet Percy and Nico by the Golden Hind, which is, in fact, literally gold.
- In Patricia A. McKillip's Solstice Wood, Owen recounts the story he had been told of a man who shot a deer without killing it and went to track it down, and found instead a woman with a bullet wound in her shoulder. She lived with him for a year and half and had a son before she vanished. Then he explains that he finally realized it was his parents.
- In Debra Doyle and James MacDonald's Knight's Wyrd, the day before his knighting, while on a hunt, Will is led in the wilderness by a white deer.
- In the Kyell Gold web novel Camouflage, the Archbishop of Tigue is a stag, whose white pelt is considered a symbol of "purity". In true medieval Corrupt Church style, he turns out to be a sadistic, homophobic sociopath and a very closeted nutcase who rapes people sentenced due to their sexuality. At least he's still white furred, though!
- In Ash: A Secret History, the new Duke of Burgundy is chosen by letting the pretenders to the throne hunt a magic, otherworldly stag and seeing who brings it down. To some who see it, the stag appears to carry a cross between its horns, as in the legend of St. Hubert below. After Floria kills it, it turns into just an ordinary dead deer, showing her bloodline's power to settle the world in a more mundane state.
- In Gautrek's Saga, King Gauti hits upon an isolated clan of hillbillies after vainly pursuing a stag for a whole day. This is somewhat of a parodied trope, as instead of the supernatural beings usually encountered in this way, Gauti only meets a bunch of crazy forest-dwellers. There is, however, a sexual adventure in it for Gauti, which leads to the birth of his heir.
- In The Traitor Son Cycle, the crop of the cream of the Irk cavalry rides magnificent deer.
Live Action TV
- In Hannibal, a stag becomes a recurring symbol in Graham's dreams, and occasionally appears as an Arc Symbol in his real life. Even before this, the first episode strongly averted Bambification; a murder victim was found with multiple puncture wounds and antler velvet in them, and before they ascertained that she was killed by a human and mounted on the stag's head posthumously, they discuss the various ways different deer species are capable of killing humans, either by stabbing them to death with their antlers or by pinning them to the ground and crushing them until they suffocated.
- The stag, and later an emaciated man with stag horns, are both used as symbols of Hannibal in Will's dreams and hallucinations.
- Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger / Power Rangers Wild Force includes a deer mecha in its especially-big Mecha Expansion Pack. It forms the left arm in combinations, and has healing powers.
- Vera: In "The Deer Hunters", the hunting lodge has a legend of a magnificent stag that is supposed to wander the preserve and hunters are encouraged to try and find it. The stag was actually killed years ago. The lodge maintains the legend to keep the hunters coming back.
Mythology & Legend
- Saint Hubert's legend: Hubert was the oldest son of the Duke of Aquitaine and a great lover of the hunt, to which he devoted nearly all his time. One Good Friday morning, as he was pursuing a magnificent stag, the animal stopped and turned. Hubert was astounded at perceiving a crucifix suspended between its antlers, while he heard a voice say, "Hubert, unless you turn to the Lord, and lead a holy life, you shall quickly fall into the abyss of Hell!" The saint renounced all honors & became an hermit, then a missionary in the pagan lands.
- One of the Twelve Labors of Heracles was that he had to capture - alive and unharmed - the Golden Hind sacred to the goddess Artemis.
- According to a tale, legendary Japanese warrior Tadakatsu Honda managed to escape his enemies and safely cross a river thanks to a deer. Since that day, he put antlers on his helmet as a sign of respect for all deers.
- Saint Patrick and his clerics were going to a hostile king's court, and prayed for protection. The ambushers saw them all as deer. (Which is why the prayer is known as "The Deer's Cry.")
- This trope applies to Santa Claus's reindeer, at least in those versions of holiday folklore that attribute their flight to their own innate abilities (as opposed to Santa's magic, to eating magic grain, etc). Any child who's stayed awake on Christmas Eve listening for their arrival can testify that they're both mysterious and elusive.
- In Ars Goetia and other grimoires, the demon Furfur usually looks like a white angelic stag.
- The demon prince Ravanna used a golden one of these to kidnap Sita in the Ramayana. Rama tried to capture it for her, leaving his brother Lakshman to guard her. Ravanna then imitated Rama's voice yelling for help to lure Lakshman away, leaving Sita defenseless.
- Genevieve of Brabant, exiled on false accusations, was helped in the woods by a roe deer.
- Possibly in The Saga of Hervor and Heidrek: After vainly pursuing a stag for two days, King Svafrlami, grandson of Odin, catches two dwarfs whom he forces to forge the supreme sword Tyrfing for him. Maybe the stag was sent by Odin.
- According to Jordanes' Gothic History, the Huns discovered the land of Scythia when a doe pursued by hunters showed them a way westward across the Maeotian Swamp. The Huns liked the new country so much they invaded it through the trail revealed by the doe, conquering the Goths and beginning their invasion of Europe. They therefore believed the doe had been sent by their gods.
- King Arthur:
- White harts and hinds would often appear to knights to herald the beginning of a quest. Most famously, Sir Gawaine was given the quest to pursue a white hart who appeared at Arthur and Guenevere's wedding feast. (The hart was part of a complicated cavalcade that also involved a hunting dog and a kidnapped damsel. Other knights were tasked with finding the dog and rescuing the lady.)
- Arthur also once hunted a stag that could outrun his horse and those of all his knights, and led him into position for plot-important appearances by Merlin and King Pellinore.
- Hungarian myths say that the ancestors followed a golden stag, or a stag with golden antlers, into the Carpathian Basin.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Module IM3 The Best of Intentions. During the Olympic Trials, the Immortal PCs compete in an event called "The Wild Hunt". They must chase and kill a great white hart twice as large as a normal deer. The hart is actually another Immortal in deer form.
- Module O2 Blade of Vengeance. Karelia the faedorne sends a magical and intelligent white stag to lead Erystelle to the Circle of Dreams.
- Pathfinder has Erastil, the Lawful Good god of the Good Old Ways, has a stag/deer motif and takes the appearance of a Horned Humanoid with a stag head and antlers.
- Shadowrun. Shasta deer live on the slopes of Mount Shasta in California. They have some connection with local nature spirits and appear to have latent magical abilities similar to those of spirits.
- Warhammer's Wood Elves are essentially The Fair Folk, and their leaders have the option of riding Great Stags, which they see as being Nature Spirits in animal form. The trope was accentuated in earlier editions, when only their god-king Orion got to ride one.
- And now with their new army book, the Wood Elves have two units of deer-riding cavalry.
- The Wild Riders, who are sworn to Orion's service and have been changed into something more than Elven by their association with him (and who used to ride horses before they got new models). They're essentially The Wild Hunt, and hit like you'd expect it to.
- And the Sisters of the Thorn, who are spellcasters sworn to the service of the Wood Elf queen, Ariel. They use support spells and poisoned javelins.
- And now with their new army book, the Wood Elves have two units of deer-riding cavalry.
- Chivalry & Sorcery 3rd Edition adventure Stormwatch has a possible random encounter for a highly chivalrous character. At night they will see a patch of moonlight shining down on a beautiful white hart (roe deer). All attempts to capture the hart will be unsuccessful. A white hart is an old symbol of honor, purity and valor.
- In Werewolf the Apocalypse the Stag spirit is the totem for the Fianna tribe.
- Roe Deer was a totem for White Howler packs, before that tribe's fall to the Wyrm. In the modern day, she serves under Griffin, totem of the Red Talon tribe.
- Shadis magazine #23 article "Close Encounters of the Random Kind: Woodland Faerie Encounters"
- One of the encounters is with young elf warriors hunting a mystical white stag, possibly as part of a coming-of-age rite.
- A white Faerie stag that can't be caught taunts the PCs by shadowing them.
- The Golden Hart of Blue Rose chooses the sovereigns of Aldis. While it usually chooses well, its choices are not necessarily those a mortal would make, as seen with Queen Larai, known as "the Mad".
- King of Dragon Pass has a recurring event where a hunter from another clan has tracked a white stag to your lands and wants your permission to hunt it.
- From the Pokémon series:
- Stantler, from Pokémon Gold and Silver. It's said to be able to hypnotize and psychologically affect people and Pokemon with its antlers, which give the illusion of two large eyes in the center of each side.
- Arceus, the God of Pokemon, looks like a white deer.
- Deerling and Sawsbuck from Pokémon Black and White also seem to be based off this concept, being the only Pokemon that change forms with the seasons. Sawsbuck's antlers particularly are marvelous as they're tree branches with leaves that grow and die throughout the year.
- Pokémon X and Y features Xerneas as the cover legendary for X. Its antlers resemble chromosomes, in keeping with the games' genetic theme. It's also a Fairy-type, and though it's not small and cute like other Fairy types its mysterious and elegant nature fits well with older depictions of fairies.
- Hircine, the god of hunting in The Elder Scrolls universe, has a white stag as one of his avatars in Skyrim. Hunting the stag is necessary if the Dovahkiin wants to earn Hircine's favor.
- In Neverwinter Nights expansion pack Shadows of Undrentide, one of the side-quests involves hunting the Shadow Hart, a magical deer with teleportation powers.
- In Assassin's Creed III, Connor can accept a quest to hunt a unique deer. According to the huntmaster, several hunters have tried and failed to bring it down before, and they all swear it's got some mysterious power that makes it Immune to Bullets.
- In Mabinogi, the deer of Corrib Valley are a minor example. They give you herbs (including the exceedingly rare White Herbs) in exchange for mushrooms.
- In Quest for Glory I the hero followed the white stag to its resting place. It led him to the Dryad who was a spirit of nature. If the player attempts to harm the stag the Dryad will turn him into whatever he attacked, invoking a Game Over.
- Beast girl Sveta of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is nicknamed "The White Deer" by the people of her homeland, but her werewolf traits show more.
- The eponymous Deer God is a white, ethereal being, with no real body to speak of. She is responsible for reincarnating the player character into a more mundane deer, as recompense for his past crimes.
- One of the eternal beings of Azeroth in the World of Warcraft universe is Malorne, the White Stag, guardian of the natural world. During the War of the Ancients, he killed countless demons defending his son Cenarius, before finally being slain by the archdemon Archimonde. He is later resurrected by Malfurion Stormrage to help defind Mt. Hyjal from the Twilight's Hammer.
- In Crusader Kings II your character states his goal to find the fabled White Stag whenever you choose to go on a hunt. There's a small chance of actually encountering one as well, which gives a prestige boost if you manage to bring it down.
- Mystery Case Files: The Forest Spirit from Dire Grove, Sacred Grove manifests as a blue-white stag with antlers made of ice.
- Raven in Arcanum tells you the Legend of Falcon's Ache, about a nature spirit the elves used to worship which wondered the Glimmering Forest in the form of a stag. Tragically, the elven Queen Falcon accidentally killed it during a hunting expedition, and was so distraught when she realized what she'd done that she passed away from sheer grief not long after.
- In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn is urged to be true to himself by a white stag, and receives a mark of favor from it. It later wakes him up just before he succumbs to his injuries in a later arc, telling him "Not yet, little one."
- In Erstwhile, a deer is one of the forest creatures that looks over Snow White and Rose Red.
- SCP-2845 is a magical extraterrestrial entity that greatly resembles a deer.
- Deer are a recurring motif in Welcome to Night Vale, and seem to be a symbol of the alien and the other. Cecil has this to say about them;
Are they beautiful? Yes. Are they graceful and picturesque, even borderline majestic beasts? Yes, yes, and yes. And, are they helpful to the community because real estate agents live inside of them? Of course! But deer are also dangerous creatures. They are terrible, deceitful, and vile animals. I�m not being mean, this is just basic science.
- A creature appearing in the creepypasta Glass and Velvet takes on the form of a muscular humanoid figure made of milk glass and possessing the head and magnificent antlers of a bull caribou. Possibly subverted as the caribou creature's actions seem to be self-defeating.
- The weird, wild deer that rampages through the Candy Kingdom in one episode of Adventure Time, and is later revealed to have knocked-out and kidnapped all of its inhabitants. Also, it was hiding fingers beneath its front hooves. Creepy.
- Ice King/Simon also kills a harmless deer in the flash-back episode 'Simon and Marcy', indicating his deteriorating mental state.
- In one episode of The Smurfs, the smurfs tend to a black stag's wounds after it was injured. What they didn't know was that it was King Gerard who was put under a spell by his evil cousin in a plot to take over Gerard's kingdom.
- In the season 6 finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, after the Changelings have their Heel–Face Turn, they turn into beautiful, brightly colored hybrids of deer and stag beetles.
- Over the Garden Wall: The Beast of the Forest has some shades of this - a Humanoid Abomination cloaked in shadow whose defining features are a tattered cape, two Glowing Eyes of Doom and a massive rack of antlers. Though meant to invoke Satanic Archetype (and perhaps reference the Wendigo), the deerlike horns lend him an air of eerie majesty. Though the final episode does suggest that these are branches, the image remains.
- A very likely inspiration for the Milwaukee Bucks; Wisconsin's state animal is the white-tailed deer.
- Richard II of England's personal emblem was a white hart gorged with a royal crown. It was frequently incorporated into livery badges and other heraldic displays (the angels on the Wilton Diptych wear them) and lingering rumors of Richard's survival after his deposition in 1399 lent them a patina of spookiness.