"Once upon a time..."One of the oldest archetypes; a character that is noted for his or her ability to tell tales, or at least their propensity to do so. Sometimes the tales have a purpose in the main plot. At other times it is simply an interesting side excursion, perhaps to give the setting a feeling of depth. Sometimes overlaps with Miles Gloriosus and The Munchausen. Could conceivably be made to overlap with Intrepid Reporter. Possibly a reflection of Most Writers Are Writers. Compare with The Bard. For the Jim Henson series, see here.
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Anime and Manga
- Kitty Pryde in the classic X-Men issue "Kitty's Fairy Tale", made up a bedtime story for young Illyana Rasputin, casting herself as the heroine and other members of the X-Men as characters. Notably, Kitty cast Cyclops as a prince and Jean Grey as a princess cursed by the evil Phoenix, and gave the Scott and Jean in her story the Happy Ending their counterparts were denied.
- Lyssa Drak of the Sinestro Corps loves to tell stories of her fellow corpsmen, as she is the keeper of the Book of Parallax.
- DC had a number of these in their horror anthology comics, who would introduce and close out every story. Among them were Cain in House of Mystery, Abel in House of Secrets, Lucien the Librarian in Tales of Ghost Castle, and Death himself in Weird War Tales.
- Star Wars Tales had a story appropriately called "Storyteller". Far in the distant future, two young boys named Remoh and Otalp find the battered body of C-3PO. The droid entertains them with the tale of a hero named Luke Skywalker, who redeemed a darkened soul (Darth Vader) and freed the galaxy from the ultimate evil (Emperor Papatine). Raiders come, destroy C-3PO, and murder Otalp. Remoh finds Luke Skywalker's lightsaber inside C-3PO's remains. Greatly inspired by the droid's tale, Remoh vows to free his people from the tyrants who rule them, declaring, "There is hope."
- Manny Monkton from Astro City, a comic book publisher. Too bad his Consummate Liar tendencies frequently get him in trouble.
- The title character of Songs Uncle Sings is an Old Soldier who often tales tales and sings songs about his days as a warrior.
- Marblehead from Pacific: World War II U.S. Navy Shipgirls does this as her favorite past time alongside telling bad jokes and puns.
- Telling Tales revolves around a travelling storyteller coming to Ponyville and exchanging ponified versions of famous folk tales ("The Mare's Choice", for example, borrows from the Wife of Bath's tale in The Canterbury Tales and the legends of King Arthur).
- In The Black Thief and the Knight of the Glen, the thief saves the lives of his companions by claiming to have been in more danger than they were, and the knight gives him their lives, one by one, to get the stories. The last story recounts how he saved the life of a baby, and the knight's old nursemaid assures him that it's true and he was the baby.
- Conal Yellowclaw has the same plot, though he is the father of the men he's saving.
Films — Animated
- Wendy, to a degree, in all adaptations of Peter Pan, but especially in the 2003 film.
- In Tangled, Flynn offhandedly mentions that he used to read to the younger children in the orphanage. The film also opens and closes with narration in the form of Flynn telling the tale of how he and Rapunzel met.
- IN Kubo and the Two Strings, Kubo makes a living as a storyteller, enhancing his tales by using his magical shamisen to act the stories out with animated origami figures.
Films — Live-Action
- Dilios, in 300, though according to the film's director Zack Snyder, he "knows how not to wreck a good story with truth."
- Ed Bloom, in Big Fish.
- Uncle Garth, in Secondhand Lions.
- The Grandfather character in The Princess Bride.
- C-3PO, relating the heroes' story to the Ewoks in Return of the Jedi, which actually justifies his presence in The Empire Strikes Back and Jedi's prologue: He had to witness the story to tell it later. According to Word of God, the first two trilogies have a framing device that R2-D2 is telling the whole story (and tends to embellish a bit, which is why the plot sometimes stops so other characters can praise his heroism).
- Darby O'Gill in Darby O'Gill and the Little People.
- In Hercules (2014), Iolaus' main role in the group is to spread tales of Hercules' great deeds, though he greatly exaggerates to make Hercules seem like an even bigger badass than he already is. For example, after Hercules defeated a gang of bandits who wear serpent masks, Iolus claimed he defeated a many-headed serpent called the Hydra.
- Scheherazade in Arabian Nights.
- Fflewddur Fflam in The Chronicles of Prydain, doing part-time as a Spoony Bard.
- Dandelion in Watership Down (among the main group, he told most of the stories of "the prince of a thousand enemies".)
- Bluebell gets to tell one, as well. He's also telling a story to keep some of the other rabbits calm, during the climactic scene.
- Bilbo in Lord of the Rings. Also Aragorn.
- Brom in Eragon is widely regarded as one of the greatest storytellers known.
- Puck in Puck of Pooks Hill by Rudyard Kipling.
- Also the two Intrepid Merchants in Ballad of the King's Jest by the same author.
- Belgarath in The Belgariad has masqueraded as a traveling storyteller, and his storytelling abilities are genuinely good.
- The Minstrel in The Last Hero, who is dragged along by the Silver Horde to chronicle their last great act of heroism. It is revealed at the end that he is only The Minstrel - no name other than that - and his entire purpose is to be the one that tells the tale. Despite his battered appearance by the end of it all, he seems to be a pretty good sport about the whole thing. Or else he has been driven insane by the ordeal and forgotten whatever name he had before.
- Taleswapper (aka William Blake) from the Alvin Maker series
- Chronicler from The Name of the Wind
- Thom Merrilin in The Wheel of Time.
- David Copperfield was this in his Boarding School of Horrors.
- In Terry Brooks's The Scions of Shannara, Par and Coll Ohmsford were acting as storytellers while trying to avoid capture.
- The title character in L. M. Montgomery's The Story Girl.
- Sara Crewe in A Little Princess, as well as all the adaptations thereof. Especially notable in the Alfonso Cuaron film and in the anime, where her narratives are shown in detail, and become an important plot point.
- The title character of The Book Thief, by Marcus Zuzak, finds she can calm people down by reading aloud to them during an air raid in World War II Dresden.
- Marianne Engel in The Gargoyle.
- The unnamed gentleman in the short story "The Storyteller" by H. H. Munro (better known as Saki).
- Colas Breugnon, the narrator and protagonist of the novel of the same title.
- Lori's mother Beth and Dimity herself provide the tales that are to be published in Aunt Dimity's Death. Lori herself has to recount some of them to establish her identity for Dimity's executor, Willis Sr.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire Old Nan is both the children's caretaker and the storyteller of Winterfell. She's particularly fond of telling scary stories about the Others.
- In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, the harper sought out the scarred man to get him to tell her his stories, so she could write songs about them.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, this is one of the things Bilbo remembers about Gandalf in the opening.
Not the fellow who used to tell such wonderful tales at parties, about dragons and goblins and giants and the rescue of princesses and the unexpected luck of widows’ sons?
- Eva Luna from, well, Eva Luna is a protagonist version of this. Her talent for stories (inherited from her Missing Mom Consuelo) gets her out of poverty, solitude, and even death. And it allows her to meet her great love Rolf, the local Intrepid Reporter.
- In Alethea Kontis's Enchanted, Sunday goes into the forest to read stories to the talking frog. It helps him remember having been human.
- A series by Elizabeth Vaughan has Ezren Silvertongue, a storyteller by trade. In Dagger-Star, he was Made a Slave, and his cruel master cut off his tongue specifically because he was a storyteller, but the heroes save him and restore his tongue with a healing spell. A lot of Ezren's arcs involve him being insecure about storytelling being about his only talent as he is short, scrawny, and no warrior, unlike pretty much every other character. To his surprise, Bethral falls for him, partly because he is an amazing storyteller. In Destiny's Star, Ezren and Bethral live among the People of the Plains. Ezren at first fears that he will not be accepted, but discovers that the People of the Plains hold singers and storytellers in high regard.
- In Ann Aguirre's Razorland Trilogy, Morrow serves as this for Company D. Eventually, he turns this into I Should Write a Book About This.
- Bastian from The Neverending Story enjoyed regaling a younger girl with his stories that he made up. When in Fantastica, this ability is vital to him as he is the only person, being human, who can create stories. Eventually creates a library containing all of his stories with a story of his.
- In the New Jedi Order novel Remnant, this is the role of the Shamed One I'pan, who both tells stories to entertain his fellow outcasts and also serves as a priest of the as-yet-inchoate Jedi Heresy, retelling the tales that will form the basis of the religion. Even Nom Anor, a spy, Manipulative Bastard, and all-around cynic, can't help but be impressed at how well I'pan works a crowd. Although I'pan is killed, he inspires Nom Anor to create the guise of Yu'shaa, the Prohpet, a charismatic figure who can spread the heresy further and wider than ever before.
- Orrec Caspro in Annals of the Western Shore. He develops the talent in the first book, Gifts, by making up extra "chapters" of his mother's many stories and epic poems. By Voices, he's renowned as a "maker" across the land and his storytelling figures heavily into the Ansul-Ald conflict. In Powers, he becomes a professor at Urdile's university, and his poem "Liberty" inspires many of the other slaves and runaways that Gav meets.
- Hoid, a recurring character in Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere, is this. Most notably in Warbreaker and The Stormlight Archive.
- Flea, Cricket, and Orca in Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Andrew, in Seasons 7 and 8, with him endeavoring to educate the Slayer Potentials. Played for Laughs due to him being a bit of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander at best and suffering the occasional Critical Research Failure in regards to the show's continuity.
- Game of Thrones: This is part of Old Nan's job. She has many stories for many situations.
- NUMB3RS : Interestingly enough Charlie Eppes, who constructs entertaining parables to illustrate math.
- Gabrielle in Xena: Warrior Princess had a fantastic flair for storytelling before she became a full-fledged Action Girl and even taught Homer a thing or two.
- The afore-mentioned short-lived Jim Henson series The Storyteller (unsurprisingly) featured one. He was credited just as "The storyteller" and his storytelling was the Framing Device for each episode. He was also the protagonist of one story.
- Stella from Barney & Friends.
- The "Storyteller" sketches at the end of each episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme. Word of God is that Finnemore's Storyteller started out as a pastiche of an M. R. James ghost story narrator, and specifically Derek Jacobi's audiobook version, before widening out to include "a bit John Buchan, a bit H. G. Wells, and a bit R.L. Stevenson - in fact any of those writers between about 1885 and 1939 who wrote stories in which chaps who only ever refer to one another by their surnames are reluctantly persuaded by other chaps at the club to tell tall stories".
Religion and Mythology
- Older Than Feudalism: In The Bible, Jesus was known for illustrating religious points with parables.
- The Talmud has also has several examples.
- In Norse Mythology, Odin has charge over riddles and poetry and runes and the like.
- Anansi the Spider, who even challenged the gods (or Tiger, depending on the version you're reading) so that he would be considered King of All Stories.
- In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Galliards perform this role for the Garou Nation. Through singing and storytelling, Galliards preserve legends from Garou history.
- Illyara, one of the six surviving Zmei (Wyrm dragons) collects stories of her siblings' achievements and shares them with anyone who asks.
- The opening number of the musical Once Upon a Mattress is sung by the Minstrel, who tells the story of the Princess and the Pea and explains the true story of the event to his audience.
- In the Back Story of Othello, this is how Othello won Desdemona.
Her father loved me, oft invited me,
Still questioned me the story of my life
From year to year, the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have passed.
I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
To th' very moment that he bade me tell it,
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field,
Of hair-breadth ’scapes i' th' imminent deadly breach,
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery, of my redemption thence
And portance in my traveler’s history.
- Wendy in Peter Pan. The fact that she knows "lots of stories" is what makes Peter take her to Never Land in the first place, since the Lost Boys don't know any stories. In early drafts of the script, even the Indians listen in.
- Kaguya Houraisan, the lunar princess of the Touhou saga is a proficent storyteller that entertains people during festivals.
- Manari from the Samurai Shodown Spin-Off Nakoruru: Ano Kara no Okurimono. She's actually from a whole clan of these.
- Homeros in Fire Emblem Jugdral's Thracia 776. His ending says he became a legend in Jugdral due to this.
- Vernon from Psychonauts is an limitless warehouse of incredibly long and boring stories.
- Leliana in Dragon Age: Origins. Notably, the DLC Leliana's Song is framed somewhat as her telling the story of how she split from Marjolaine. One of her companions, Sketch, makes a cameo in the sequel and is apparently being chased as a result of the tale.
Take my advice friend: stay away from storytellers. Never know what they'll say …
- Varric in Dragon Age II. The Framing Device of the whole game is Cassandra questioning him on the protagonist's time in Kirkwall, and his stories are half the reason the PC becomes a Memetic Badass even before the climax.
Merrill (teasing Varric): ''No shit, there I was-"
- Lorewalker Cho from World of Warcraft fits beautifully into this character archetype, acting at first as a guide for the player in Pandaria's Jade Forest and thereafter telling the player stories of such figures as King Varian Wrynn and Vol'jin of the Darkspear in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. He also serves as the narrator for a short animated series by Blizzard, The Burdens of Shaohao.
- Kalare from Gifts of Wandering Ice is a storyteller scientist who knows that her magical legends are not true but believes them to be important for developing creative type of thinking in her students.
- Theopholous Dumedd of Girl Genius.
- Koark from Order of Tales. The eponymous Order is devoted to telling and preserving tales; Koark is the last of their kind.
- Fuschia in Sinfest. When she leaves Hell, the damned notice that storytime is come and no story has.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Coyote casts Antimony as this.
- Of course, considering that Antimony from some unspecified point in the future is the narrator of the comic, he may not totally wrong to do this.
- In Doc Rat, Flopsy to children.
- In Cucumber Quest, Princess Nautilus is delighted that she gets to tell Cucumber the stories.
- From Disney Fairies: Spinner in the books and Lyria in the movies are Story-Teller talent fairies.
- Gerald from Hey Arnold! tells a lot of Urban Legends. In one episode, Curly gets mad because he wants to tell the story of "The Ghost Bride" but everyone else won't let him since it's Gerald's job.
- Cherilee in the third generation of My Little Pony. The intro even spells it out for us: "I hope we hear a story from Cherilee!"
- This is Butch's entire shtick in Recess
- An episode of the X-Men animated series puts Jubilee in this role, recycling some elements from "Kitty's Fairy Tale". When she and a bunch of non-powered children are trapped in a cave, she cheers them up via telling them stories where she casts herself as an Action Girl, Gambit and Wolverine were her teammates, Professor Xavier was The Mentor, Magneto as the Evil Sorcerer, Cyclops as the Prince, Jean as the Princess...
- In The Brothers Grunt, the Poobah shares stories of the brothers' adventures and Grunt legends with the audience.
- The Simpsons:
- Abe Simpson is fond of telling stories, although they tend to be rambling and nonsensical. Occasionally his stories are crucial to the plot, as in "The Curse of the Flying Hellfish", and it gets Lampshaded on "Lemon of Troy", when kids spontaneously gather around him when he appears out of nowhere to tell the story of the old lemon tree.
- Homer appears to have inherited his father's gift for stories. Most of the Whole Episode Flashback episodes have him telling the kids stories of when he and Marge were younger.
- The old hobo in "Simpsons Tall Tales", who regales the Simpsons with stories from American folklore.
- Storytelling and oral tradition in general is historically extremely important in West African culture, to the point that one of the most iconic cultural characters from that area - Anansi - was known as the Lord of Stories. Griots or Djeli were professional traveling storytellers: revered figures in the community whose job was not only to collect stories, but to pass down all the history and culture of the places they visited. In older times (before the invention of writing), they were even the official court records.
- Scottish Clans will often have an official clan bard. In times passed this could be hereditary or perhaps a close relation of the chief. They would follow close behind the chief in battle to make sure the clan's glorious deeds were recorded. The clan's inglorious deeds were of course treated differently.