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The Storyteller
aka: The Tale Teller

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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga  

     Comic Books  
  • 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."

    Fan Works 

    Fairy Tales 
  • 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.

     Film  

     Literature  
  • Scheherazade in Arabian Nights.
  • Fflewddur Fflam in Prydain Chronicles, 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.
  • 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 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.

     Live Action TV  

     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.

     Theatre  
  • 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.

     Video Games  
  • 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.
  • 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.

     Web Comics  

     Web Original  

     Western Animation  
  • 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.
  • 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...

     Real Life  
  • 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.
  • 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.

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alternative title(s): The Tale Teller
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