Aelius: I think that if someone tried to rob you in the street, you'd pick his pocket, sell him a better knife and probably offer him a job as a tax collector.
Basso: I choose to take that as a compliment.A trickster is a character who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. The Trickster openly questions and mocks authority, encourages impulse and enthusiasm, seeks out new ideas and experiences, destroys convention and complacency, and promotes chaos and unrest. At the same time, the trickster brings new knowledge, wisdom and many An Aesop. Even when punished horribly for his effrontery, his indomitable spirit (or plain sheer foolishness) keeps him coming back for more. Tricksters can be anything from gods of chaos, bedeviling heroes for a few laughs, to master manipulators who use cruel ploys and sadistic choices. They can also be heroes (or more likely Anti-Heroes) who make up for a lack of strength or bravery with manipulation, planning, or just plain cheating. The trickster is often a Master of Disguise and may have magical or super-powers. They're often found Walking the Earth. In mythology and religion, the trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously but usually, albeit unintentionally, with ultimately positive effects. Often, the bending/breaking of rules takes the form of tricks or thievery, and their actions often end up changing the rules in the process of breaking them, much like an act of "civil disobedience". Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both; they are often funny even when considered sacred or performing important cultural tasks. Even if not otherwise punished, they are often prone to being caught in their own trap, and are very vulnerable to Counter Zany schemes. Sometimes the Trickster appears as a sort of catalyst, in that his antics are the cause of other characters' discomfiture, but he himself is left untouched. (Or at least unenlightened, if the trick backfires.) In modern literature, the Trickster survives as a character archetype, ranging from the self-aware and purposeful, through the merely impulsive and mischievous, to an openly hostile antagonist. Mythical versions may also be Hijacked By Satan, sometimes in direct contravention of their original legends. The Trickster is NOT the same as the Jerkass. While the Trickster may be mischievous, impudent and uppity, he is not necessarily openly malevolent or sociopathic; in fact, in many cases Tricksters are more friendly to humanity than the gods are. It is possible, however, for a character to be introduced as a Trickster before being gradually or suddenly revealed to possess depths of cruelty and malice that make them truly villainous, in a form of Bait the Dog. Compare Messianic Archetype and The Fool. May overlap with Nominal Hero, particularly if the trickster is doing it purely for fun.
- The Artful Dodger
- The Barnum
- Blithe Spirit
- Con Man
- The Chessmaster
- Chessmaster Sidekick
- Classy Cat-Burglar
- Clever Crows
- Cunning Like a Fox
- Deadpan Snarker
- Delighting in Riddles
- Fantastic Foxes
- Fixing the Game
- The Gadfly
- The Gambler
- Gentleman Snarker
- Gentleman Thief
- Great Gazoo
- Guile Hero
- Heads or Tails?
- High School Hustler
- Karmic Trickster
- Lovable Rogue
- Lovable Traitor
- Loves Secrecy
- Magnificent Bastard
- Manipulative Bastard
- Master of Illusion
- Monkey King Lite
- Mooching Master
- Opportunistic Bastard
- Playful Hacker
- The Prankster
- The Presents Were Never from Santa
- Rascally Rabbit
- Rascally Raccoon
- Screwy Squirrel
- Servile Snarker
- The Snark Knight
- The Spook
- The Tramp
- Those Wily Coyotes
- Trenchcoat Brigade
- Trickster Girlfriend
- Trickster Mentor
- Trickster Twins
- Turn Coat
- Two-Headed Coin
- The Unfettered
- Villainous Harlequin
- The Wonka
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- Edward Elric definitely fits this trope, especially when dealing with corrupt alchemists.
- And ultimately, The Truth, aka God of the setting. All his sadistic glee in claiming the hefty toll was replaced with real joy that Ed finally learned the ultimate lesson, that alchemy isn't everything.
- Xelloss in Slayers. He even refers to himself as a "trickster priest." ("fuzaketa puriisto", "the playful priest"; sometimes translated as "roguish priest" or "mysterious priest".)
- Satoko Houjou from Higurashi: When They Cry is a kid who enjoys playing pranks on her friends, especially New Transfer Student Keiichi. Her traps later come to good use when she uses them to trap men out to kill Rika.
- In Mayo Chiki!, Kanade runs circles around most other characters. Or make them run circles around her, at any rate.
- Niou Masaharu from The Prince of Tennis. It's even his in-universe nickname.
- Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece. The fact that he's also an Idiot Hero makes his opponents wonder whether he's really this or just really lucky.
- Even more so than Luffy is his crew member, Usopp. His fighting style is mainly based off of lying and other creative strategies.
- Chantez Arpinion of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, a highly mischievous nun who uses a deceptive fighting style that utilizes Super Speed, Doppelgänger Attack techniques, Invisibility, and bald-faced lying. In fact, her first full scene had her cheerfully lying to the Clone Jesus analogue of her Church just so she could have an opening in their sparring match. A later chapter reveals that she used to be a Street Urchin before the Saint Church took her in, which likely influenced this part of her personality.
- K has Yashiro "Shiro" Isana. In the first season, the superpowered Red and Blue Clans, and the "Black Dog", Kuroh Yatogami, a lone superpowered fighter, are all chasing him because they believe he's the culprit in a murder. Shiro uses his cleverness to escape, get Kuroh to believe in his innocence, escape some more, and outwit the Blue Clan, the stoic-genius faction. Having a psychic cat around did help, though. Even after he gets his memories back and reawakens as the most powerful King, he prefers to use his cleverness rather than fighting.
- Loki, from Kamigami No Asobi, is true to his mythological basis... mostly - it turns out he's in love with Baldr and doesn't want to have to kill him, but has to to stop Baldr's Superpowered Evil Side, but until that part comes around, he's this exactly. He does things like putting magic rings on Yui (the harem center) and Tsukito (the moon god, Tsukuyomi) that connect themselves until they understand each others hearts, just to freak out the rest of the harem; and when they do a school play, he gets cast as the prince's servant instead of the "star", so he derails the play with a coup d'etat (Thor, who usually keeps him in line, is busy Playing a Tree).
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! OCG, the Ghosttrick Archetype's effects revolve around flipping monsters face-down and protecting themselves as long as they are face-down. In effect, they act like pranksters or mischievous spirits: popping out and scaring people, then running away and hiding.
- Spider-Man, whose actions end up teaching him his own wisdom.
- Deadpool is an insane mercernary, so he does odd things and disrepects authority, but cops are okay, provided they're not trying to arrest him.
- Batman has The Joker and The Riddler. The Joker often spends just as much time performing pranks and other petty things as much as killing people. The Riddler has a compulsion to make complicated puzzles for his own amusement.
- Mr. Mxyzptlk from Superman is an imp with Reality Warper abilities who uses. Which, interestingly enough, leads to Superman having to resort to trickster methods just to get rid of him.
- Then you have The Impossible Man, and he and Mxy had a crossover together, where their differences became apparent. Let's just say it doesn't end in friendship.
- Jaeger of the aboriginal sci-fi comic Finder. Although he seems random and impetuous, his behavior is bound by the code of the titular super-scouts, but also his designation as a ritual scapegoat in his mother's native culture.
- Plastic Man, according to some people interviewed for the 80s cartoon DVD of the titular character, serves as a trickster in the DC Comics mythos of heroes.
- Sam & Max's titular duo functions as one of these - Max provides the impulsiveness, Sam provides the Aesop and they both contribute to the chaos.
- Loki, Marvel's version of the Norse God of Mischief and Lies. Varies from out-and-out villain to anti-hero, depending on the writer and the incarnation (for example, de-aged Loki is a lot less malevolent than his previous, older self).
- The Cloud Gremlins in My Little Pony Micro Series Issue #2 . Doesn't help their quoting the appropriate Shakespeare play too.
- Maelstrom, Cosmic Marvel's version.
Maelstrom: I can't feed you to a giant demonic dragon if you're asleep! Where would the fun be in that?
- The Powerpuff Girls has the Micro-Puffs, tiny sprite versions of the girls who show up merely to yank the girls' chains. They appeared in the DC run of the comic book.
- Loki from The Two Year Emperor, a Great Gazoo mischief god who periodically shows up to have pun fights, be the comic relief, and be a Trickster Mentor for the main character by sliding him important hints.
- Lorelei from the "Lorelei Chronicles" series. Being a universe-hopping Master of Illusion gives her MANY opportunities to screw with people, albiet in a non-cruel, non-destructive way. Justified in that she comes from a broken home, which leads her to believe that making people laugh is her mission in life.
- Lana in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines once convinced her classmate Frax Lono to go to school without his shirt by telling him the class was to be about Alolan sumo.
Films — Animation
- Meeko from Pocahontas, although he's a bit less of trickster and more of an outright thief.
- Eris from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas spends all of her time playing tricks on the protagonist (along with all the mortals in the story) and well, just causing general chaos. just listen to this theme song
- Br'er Rabbit from Song of the South and the original stories. In Disney's adaptation, and all adaptations since then, the pronunciation has been "brayer", as if it were a mispronunciation of "brier", when, in actuality, "Br'er" is supposed to be pronounced as "bruh", meaning "Brother". This character is deconstructed in Ralph Bakshi's Coonskin, where "Br'er" is correctly pronounced.
- Stitch from Lilo & Stitch was genetically-engineered to be this, using his strength, cunning, and other abilities for mischievous purposes.
Films — Live-Action
- The Mask (explicitly linked to Loki) and most other characters played by Jim Carrey, some mentioned elsewhere on this page, some not - such as Andy Kaufman (Man on the Moon), a Real Life trickster figure who would be called a troll today.
- From Star Wars:
- Han Solo, to a degree. In The Han Solo Adventures he pulls a wide array of tricks, with a playfulness that nicely offsets his grimmer, mercenary side.
- Yoda. Though he would technically be more along the lines of Trickster Mentor, it's usually assumed that he likes practical jokes for their own value, too.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow. In the commentary of the first film, during the scene where he tricks the two Interceptor guards into arguing, allowing him to slide out of the frame, sneak aboard and get behind the wheel before they even realise he's gone, the writers joke that they consider this scene akin to a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
- Tyler Durden of Fight Club is a more malicious, destructive example.
- Reg Dunlop from Slap Shot, as he hoodwinks a town.
- The short comedy Harold Of Orange was made to show how this trope would be played out in Real Life.
- Mr. Nick from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Yes, he's the Devil but he seems more interested in playing games than damning souls, to the extent that he actually tries to prevent Parnassus' daughter from going into Hell and when she does says, "Damn, I won" in a tone of regret.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe has Loki, the on-screen incarnation of the comic book character of the same name who, in turn, was based on the Norse God of trickery and chaos. He starts as a trickster in Thor. When he returns post-banishment in The Avengers, he's decidedly less tricksterish, being now bent on revenge and subjugating Earth. In Thor: The Dark World Loki is more tricksy than ever, and his powers of illusion drive much of the plot. The trend continues in Thor: Ragnarok.
- Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke has a disrupting influence on the day-to-day life in the prison.
- Alyss the demigoddess from the Legends of Lone Wolf novelization of the Lone Wolf gamebooks, and then appearing as a Canon Immigrant in the main series starting Book 16. She fancies herself as neutral and is certainly mischievous, but Big Bad Naar and his minions are such utter bastards that she systematically ends up on the side of Good anyway.
- Reynard the Fox: A Karmic Trickster fox from a series of European medieval tales. He is a downright criminal who always manages to fool everybody despite several attempts to bring him to justice.
- Till Eulenspiegel: A medieval folk hero well known in German, Flemish and Dutch folklore. He travels across the land where he tricks everybody by taking their words literally or fooling them in ways that he gets money or gets off scott free, despite his actions.
- Puck from The Sisters Grimm. Given that he's supposed to be Shakespeare's Puck (from A Midsummer Night's Dream), this is unsurprising.
- Br'er Rabbit from Song of the South based on African-American folktales, is the American version of this archetype.
- El-ahrairah, the rabbit folk hero in Watership Down is stated to be based on Br'er Rabbit. As a punishment for his trickery, all the creatures of the world were set against him (and rabbitkind)... which just means he has to be extra-tricksy to escape from them.
- The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat both fit this archetype to a t. And they do look almost quite similar in their live action incarnations.
- Merry and Pippin from Lord of the Rings are also Those Two Guys.
- Granny Weatherwax. You don't have to have a sense of humour to be a Trickster!
- Scrappy the kangaroo from The Last Continent. Acknowledged in exposition as a trickster god and therefore the sort of guy who puts a land mine under a seat cushion for a bit of a chuckle.
- Other Discworld trickster gods are Hoki the Jokester (banned from Dunmanifestin for pulling "the old exploding misteltoe trick") and the dwarfish mine-spirit Agi Hammerthief.
- Randal Patrick McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
- The Meddler of the Firekeeper Saga, who is known for having seemingly good intentions but never stopping to consider the consequences.
- The Marquis of Carabas in Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. He is named after the alias used by Puss In Boots, a Trickster character in his own right.
- Neil also wrote his own story about Anansi, going by the name of Charlie Nancy. He has... well, two sons who inherit his powers.
- In American Gods, also a Neil Gaiman novel, Odin is a trickster and a literal con man. So is his son, Loki. It is a two man con.
- Neal Stephenson very evidently likes to both use and reference this archetype; Hiro Protagonist is a Trickster/Technologist in Snow Crash, as are many of the key figures of both Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age. In The Diamond Age, The Hacker is explicitly namechecked as a modern trickster archetype, and in Cryptonomicon Enoch Root discusses with Randy the way various cultures have interpreted the archetype - from worship (Athena) to deep distrust (Loki). Root himself plays the role of Trickster Mentor in The Baroque Cycle. Jack Shaftoe is the Trickster in spades as is, to a lesser extent, Eliza
- Colin in John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos. Always ready to pull a stunt whenever they need a distraction.
- In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Tabaqui the Jackal.
"All thanks for this good meal," he said, licking his lips. "How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes! And so young too! Indeed, indeed, I might have remembered that the children of kings are men from the beginning."
Now, Tabaqui knew as well as anyone else that there is nothing so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces. It pleased him to see Mother and Father Wolf look uncomfortable.
- Kyprioth is the trickster god of Tamora Pierce's Daughter of the Lioness but the human Aly gives him a run for his money.
- Robin Goodfellow in the Cal Leandros series. His species is a puck.
- Aiken Drum in Julian May's Saga of the Exiles, exiled for such pranks as altering a dam's configuration so that a giant penis sticks out of it, peeing water. and that's before he gets super powers
- Willy Wonka of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (and its many adaptations) is a Trickster Mentor and the trope namer for another trickster subtrope — The Wonka.
- In Harry Potter:
- Fred and George Weasley are famous setting off pranks in Hogwarts. They later open a joke shop, thereby becoming professional tricksters.
- Dumbledore has shades of the Trickster Mentor.
- Peeves is also a good example, but the Twins prove their superiority when, in Book Five, they leave and order Peeves to "Give her (Umbridge) hell from us." And Peeves salutes! It says a lot about how much the other teachers hate Umbridge, too, that they let Peeves get away with just short of murder during her short tenure. McGonagall, a Rules Lawyer herself under Dumbledore, is said to even help Peeves herself with discreetly muttered advice about which way to unscrew a chandelier.
- Foxface in The Hunger Games, known for being Too Clever by Half.
- The Shapeshifting Gloamglozer in The Edge Chronicles. The creature itself admits to being "a trickster, a liar, a cheat and a fraud."
- Warrior Cats has Sol. In addition to his life of travelling the earth to screw things up in as many places as possible, he has actually once been called a trickster in the books.
- Repairman Jack. Even though he's an "urban mercenary" he prefers using his wits to solve a problem than violence and his violent solutions often show a twisted sense of humor.
- In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, The Phoenix Exultant, and The Golden Transcedence, the Neptunians. All of them. They live that far out to live a wild life in which sending people computer viruses is considered high spirits. In The Golden Transcedence, Diomedes comments that he would steal a ship to carry out their plan, but he's surprised that inner-system people like Phaethon and Atkins would.
- Colin from the post-Apocalypse novel Malevil. Shrewd, often a pain in the ass, and as Emmanuel's favorite friend allowed to get away with a lot.
- In Rafael Sabatini's Scaramouche, Andre-Louis plays this role on stage and in life. This aspect of the character comes out even more so in the 1952 film.
- Tzigone from Counselors and Kings is a highly intelligent and playful street performer/thief (with latent magical abilities, though she really only starts developing those in the second and third books) who enjoys mocking her stratified society and overturning its rules wherever possible. Unlike some tricksters, though, when push comes to shove she's plainly one of the good guys.
- Robin Goodfellow from An Elegy for the Still-living talks in riddles, plays practical jokes, manipulates anyone he can get his hands on and implies that he is the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Trickster Archetype.
- Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files believes himself to be this, but Murphy points out that he's actually very predictable, despite his occasional surpassing cleverness; he just has authority problems.
- Zosim the Trickser God is a minor member of the pantheon in Shadowmarch, though he's ultimately revealed to be the Big Bad, manipulating everybody to try and become top god. Interestingly, though the rest of his pantheon are clear counterparts to the Greco-Roman gods, Zosim himself resembles Loki far more than he does Hermes.
- In Rainbows End, Mr. Rabbit deliberately invokes this archetype, teasing both friends and foes with his technological prowess and bizarre sense of humor. In the on-line world, he is nearly a god, and he likes to leave virtual carrot ends in other people's virtual worlds.
- In the New Jedi Order, the goddess Yun-Harla is a trickster venerated by the Yuuzhan Vong and is one of their premier deities (to the point that most of the Vong's intelligence network is actually overseen by her priests, the deception sect). Midway through the series, Jaina Solo (Han and Leia's daughter) begins deliberately taking on aspects of Yun-Harla to mess with the Vong's heads and becomes a trickster in her own right as a result.
- In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Love and War, the 25th century New Age Travellers have a trickster god they just call the Trickster (who doesn't appear to be related to The Sarah Jane Adventures character). During Jan's vision quest, he appears to Jan as "Arlan Jardolz, the Betalan comedian" and to Ace as Vic Reeves.
- Hirahim Lightfoot in the cosmology of David Weber's The War Gods. Notable in that unlike other deities who were created or fathered by the head deity Orr, he appeared from nowhere and not even Orr seems to know his origins.
- Lestat de Lioncourt, brat prince, from The Vampire Chronicles.
- In the Rainbow Magic series, Trixie the Halloween Fairy and Addison the April Fool's Day Fairy are fond of pranks and tricking people.
- The Reynard Cycle: Much like his Beast Fable counterpart, Reynard the Fox, Reynard is this in spades. He particularly enjoys Batman Gambits.
- A Song of Ice and Fire gives us a smorgasbord of Trickster-types running the full spectrum from "light hearted" to "sodding dangerous"... although quite a lot weight towards the dangerous; Gadflys, snarkers and Trolls abound. Included are the court Fools, Bards or Mummers like Moon Boy, Patchface, Butterbumps, the Blue Bard, Penny, poor "Jinglebell" and Marrillion, as well the historical Florian and Mushroom who either have been trained to include sanctioned havoc in their acts or otherwise make it part of their living in various shapes. However, if they overstep... Tyrion Lannister could have wound up as a trained Fool, himself, were it not for being born a Lannister trumping being a dwarf (however, he's not exactly escaped the trope, given his propensity to be a reactive, tricksome blighter of epic proportions). In fact, to get ahead in both Westeros and Essos, it pays to have an extensive bag of tricks up your sleeve and a will to use them — no matter who you may be. As a result, few major players don't have shades of the grifter and Trickster to them: even those infamously without much of a sense of humour... eh, Lord Tywin or Lord Stannis? However, arguably the two biggest and straightest ones are Lord Petyr Baelish and "Lord" Varys. Both play others for their own ends using misdirection and any other means going, while being sardonic wits of the highest order. The major difference between them seems to be how much chaos they're willing to spread to achieve their goals and why. Varys seems to view collateral damage as a Necessary Evil to bring long-term stability. Petyr? It's all part of his Game: the more the merrier.
- Journey to Chaos: Tasio the Trickster flies in and out of mortal life, bring hope or despair as he fancies. One of his many names is "Overturner of Fortune" to reflect this. On an average day, he's just a pest.
- In MARZENA we have Unreliable Narrator, Mind Screw and Shout-Out lover Anika Fun Bremen, obviously. And Marian too, being the head of a Private Intelligence Company is all about psychology and fun mind games, Chronic Backstabbing Disorder ought to ensue.
- In The Iron Teeth web serial, the protagonist Blacknail the goblin is a trickster. Throughout the story he makes up for his small size through trickery and cheating. As a outsider among humans he also constantly disobeys convention and acts in unexpected ways. He is also fond of disguising himself using a long cloak.
- Game of Thrones: Littlefinger actively destabilizes Westeros to provide himself opportunities to manipulate people and increase his own power.
- Our Miss Brooks: Walter Denton is a prank player, with limited respect for authority.
- The Trickster from Supernatural, who is revealed to be the Archangel Gabriel. He's also known to some as Loki. He once spent an entire episode killing Dean over a hundred different times (all humorous) just to teach Sam a lesson. In the war between the Archangel Michael and Lucifer, he chooses neither side, wanting to help the humans, who most of the other angels don't seem to care about.
- Gaius Baltar from Battlestar Galactica, although more out of desperation than anything.
- Rumplestiltskin in Once Upon a Time. Very, very much so — and he's pulled his tricks on everyone.
- Klus from Studio 100's Kabouter Plop series, he loved playing tricks and pranks around the other gnomes. Sometimes having his own pranks backfiring at him.
- Holly Curran from Night and Day, through and through. One of the show's most mysterious characters and frequently ambiguous in motivation, she often spreads falsehoods for fun and will periodically pop up like a pagan deity to play mind-games and wreak chaos - especially with Alex Wells and, prior to her disappearance, Jane Harper. On one occasion she even manages to trick Alex into admitting to assaulting Josh Alexander by making him believe that he killed Josh, and that she's buried the body for him. Appropriately, during the School Play storyline, she is initially cast as Puck from Midsummer Night's Dream.
- The jazz ballad Long Daddy Green by Blossom Dearie is a long description of a trickster, showing a character with benign sides, who gets more and more troublesome as the song progresses.
Myths & Religion
- Norse Mythology:
- Loki, if the number of works above that have made use of him wasn't indication, is probably one of the most famous examples in this regard. In the original tales, Loki was the go-to Guile Hero of the Norse gods, and there's numerous tales of him helping to solve many problems through the use of trickery and manipulation, often because the other gods were threatening to beat him to death if he didn't (though, this was often because it was him who caused a lot of the problems).
- Its notable that in the stories, Loki became something of a deconstruction of this; his trickery and pranks eventually soiled his relationship with the other gods, who didn't like him much in the first place, which in turn made Loki resent them and become more cruel in his jokes. This eventually lead to Loki being bound to a boulder by the entrails of his murdered son where he spent years tortured by a snake dripping venom into his eyes (in the earlier stories, this was because he lashed out at them during a dinner after they snubbed him and made fun of him behind his back, in the later, post Christianization of the myths (in order to make the Aesir look less like psychotic jerks), this is in response for killing Baldr), until he broke out and lead the armies of Asgard's enemies against the gods, eventually leading to Ragnarok.
- Odin is also a trickster in Norse mythology, though more beloved than Loki. One of Odin's actions is hide as a human among mortals and check their hospitality, honor, etc.
- Native American Mythology:
- The Coyote plays this role in the legends of the Southwest Native American groups. Depending on the story, he ranges from simply being a clever animal to an outright godnote . Personality-wise, he ranges from an unreliable-but-friendly ally to humanity, to a too-clever-by-half Jerkass-ButtMonkey who teaches people how to behave by negative example, to the personification of chaos, definitely powerful, but nobody's friend.
- The Raven fills the role in the Pacific Northwest, where he is an anti-hero sort of deity. His claim to fame would be stealing the sun from its keeper, allowing light to come into the world for the first time ever.
- African Mythology
- Anansi the Spider from West African folklore (known as Aunt Nancy in the Americas). He supposedly collected every story ever for Earth from a bargain with the gods, so if you want somebody to thank for all the storytelling elements this wiki documents, you've got the spider.
- The hare is often one in African tales. When his stories were brought over by slaves to America, he became Br'er (pronounced "bruh", for "brother") Rabbit / Compe' Lapin
- The tortoise often played this role alongside the hare with the two being rivals. Of course, the tortoise always came out on top. After all, where did you think The Tortoise and the Hare came from?
- Eshu, a Yoruba (West African ethnicity) deity known for his penchant for causing strife around the world.
- Classical Mythology has various examples, the main one being Hermes.
- But then you've got Autolycus, one of his multiple sons, who is well known for having inherited his father's arts of theft and trickery.
- And, of course, there's Odysseus, who happens to be Autolycus grandson, although he uses his skills for hypothetically better purposes.
- Prometheus the titan demigod, who used his cunning to steal fire from the gods and give it to humans.
- Rare trickstress version: Eris, the Goddess of Chaos, in Greek mythology. How did the Trojan War start? Because she threw a Golden Apple reading "To the Fairest" amongst Hera, Aphrodite, and Athena.
- Japanese Mythology:
- The bird-like Tengu are an entire race of tricksters, playing pranks on those who offend them.
- Kitsune and Tanuki are two classes of youkai defined as being magical foxes and raccoon dogs respectively, using their powers to make mischief harmless and otherwise.
- Although Susano'o has been labeled as a Trickster God, he's quite a subversion due to being a lot more barbaric and bloodthirsty than other examples, although he did have one moment of genuine Trickster-ness with how he disposed of Orochi.
- Sun Wukong (Son Goku) / Monkey in Journey to the West. This guy was a literal god amongst monkeys, which he used in his early life to infuriate the gods. Later on, his travels would see him mellow out a bit and mainly use his cunning to dupe the Monster of the Week.
- Maui, the demigod from Polynesian mythology, most recently depicted in Moana. Among his achievements were stealing fire from the Underworld / (the island goddess Te Fiti's heart in Moana), fishing out New Zealand (and the Hawaiian Islands, and basically every island Polynesians live on) from the ocean, and lassoing the sun so it wouldn't streak across the sky so quickly.
- Hanuman of the Ramayana. Many scholars consider him a predecessor or even inspiration to the aforementioned Sun Wukong.
- Aztec Mythology
- Tezcatlipoca subverts the archetype in that he was at the same time an authority figure, and a very important one at that. The only times he was really trickster-ish were mainly when he wanted to annoy his brother, Quetzalcoatl.
- He was definitely at the far "god of chaos" end of the trickster archetype. Alternative names for him translate approximately to things like "he to whom we are his slaves", "change through violence" (likely a reference to revolution), and "enemy of both sides".
- Middle Eastern Folklore
- Nasreddin Hodja (in Persian- and Turkic-speaking countries)/Juha (or Joha or Guha or Goha or...) (in Arabic-speaking countries), the Sufi Muslim Trickster. His stories typically portray him as a somewhat reluctant Muslim cleric and judge, and a bit of a fool, who nonetheless manages to outwit his neighbors. A few typical stories:
- Nasreddin running an avant-le-lettre Kansas City Shuffle on a hapless border guard: bringing donkeys carrying sacks of hay across the border, and always telling the guard that he's a smuggler. The guard searches the sacks but never finds anything but hay in the sacks. Years later, when the guard asks him what he was smuggling, Nasreddin/Juha just says "donkeys."
- A specifically Egyptian tale has Goha being forced to sell his house against his will to a particularly unpleasant man who used shady dealings to cement the transaction. He hammers a nail into an interior wall of the house, and uses the nail as an excuse to visit the old house whenever he likes. (To this day "Goha's nail" is an Egyptian term for something you intentionally leave at a place so you'll have an excuse to go back there later.)
- Nasreddin/Juha is sitting in judgment in a lawsuit by the owner of a kebab stand against a poor man. The owner accuses the poor man of standing near the stand and enjoying the smell of the grilling meat as the poor man ate his bread, and demands payment. This exchange follows:
Nasreddin: [to the poor man] Do you deny this?
Poor man: I do not.
Nasreddin: Do you have any coins?
Poor man: Just a few coppers.
Nasreddin: Give them here.
Poor man: Your Honor, they're all I have!
Nasreddin: That may be so, but please just give me those coins.
Poor man: Very well. [hands over the coins]
Nasreddin: [to the stand owner] Pay close attention. [drops coins on the table] Did you hear that?
Stand owner: Yes, your Honor.
Nasreddin: Excellent. Now you take the sound of those coins as payment for the smell of the meat. [returns coins to poor man]
- In a set of Middle Eastern animal fables, Kalila and Dimna, two trickster jackals, serve the king lion and nearly always outsmart other animals.
- Nasreddin Hodja (in Persian- and Turkic-speaking countries)/Juha (or Joha or Guha or Goha or...) (in Arabic-speaking countries), the Sufi Muslim Trickster. His stories typically portray him as a somewhat reluctant Muslim cleric and judge, and a bit of a fool, who nonetheless manages to outwit his neighbors. A few typical stories:
- Mesopotamian Mythology: Inanna. In one Sumerian myth, she tricks her grandfather Ea into giving her the me (the arts and skills of civilization) by getting him drunk.
- The Bible: Satan could be considered a much more sinister variant of this trope, as he uses his cunning to corrupt the virtuous and lead people astray.
- The large majority of exoticos, going back at least to Gardenia Davis in the 1940s, given that their method of winning involve destroying the opponent's masculine pride, rather than his physical body.
- Second City Saints Ace Steel and Colt Cabana, especially the latter, are more inclined to goof off during matches than try and hurt their opponents too much.
- Luscious Latasha, cheerful zumba enthusiast, uses lots of unconventional tricks during her matches to throw off her bigger, meaning opponents(nearly all of them all).
- The Werewolf: The Apocalypse books feature the Ragabash Auspice as being the trickster class of the Garou, although they more closely resemble rogues or thieves in other RPG settings. Their role in the Garou society is to question the ways of the pack, in order to make the others think differently about how they do things. Often accomplished through trickery. Various Trickster spirits from mythology also appear as Totems for werewolves to follow.
- There's an additional Splat of were-coyotes called the Nuwisha who are the Ragabash cranked Up to 11, although their "intended role" in the world is as the Teachers of Gaia, using their wiles to teach others lessons. Their backstory claims that their progenitor Coyote played a trick on Luna so heinous that she turned her back on him forever. Their Coyote takes the form of every trickster deity in the world, allowing players to choose which aspect of Coyote they want their character to follow. To cement their trickster status, the Nuwisha character sheets featured an entry for "Pants?".
- The Corax were-ravens are also Trickster archetypes, although to a lesser extent.
- A watchtower is devoted to this concept in Mage: The Awakening, the Acanthus. A fifth of mages in existence, and all of them devoted to the trickster concept of the Fool Tarot.
- The pooka from Changeling: The Dreaming are an animalistic kith given to unearthing the best (or worst) of people through their antics. Their kith weakness is that they cannot tell the whole truth unless they make an effort at it.
- Games Workshop games:
- In Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000, when not actively advancing the plots of the Great Deceiver, the Changeling spends its time amusing itself by using its powers to spread general chaos and confusion amongst mortals and daemons alike.
- Warhammer 40,000 specific examples:
- The Deceiver is a weaker Eldritch Abomination who is one of the bigger players in the Gambit Pileup in the setting.
- The Laughing God is one of the few surviving gods of the Eldar, whose followers are the Harlequins (space elf ninja clown acrobat librarians).
- The Space Wolf character Lukas the Trickster, a low-ranking Space Marine who replaced one of his hearts with a stasis bomb that goes off on his death. The whole archetype is also part of the Space Wolves' hat. The majority are Boisterous Bruisers to varying degrees, and many of the younger ones have a real fondness for harmless (or sometimes, not-so-harmless) practical jokes. Lukas is a prime example on how extreme the Space Wolves' rebellious nature can be, since he doesn't even respect superiors within his own chapter as much as any other character.
- Taken at face value with the Trickster Archetype in Unknown Armies.
- Lunar Exalted. Quoth Robert "The Demented One" Vance:
Raksha are the drunken sorority girls to the Lunar's fratboy, except the Lunar's fratboy is a world-walking trickster-god werewolf.
- Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine: Rinley, the Troublemaker. Rinley's job is twofold: first, to be The Heart and provide a social glue holding the group together; and two, to mess with them in the process. If you need someone to break into a building through a window it doesn't actually have, switch people's hearts, push a pompous character like Leonardo into a koi pond or tell a story so convincing it deceives even people who saw what actually happened, you should get Rinley to do it.
- The player's characters in Kitsune: Of Foxes and Fools are Kitsune playing tricks on mortals to gain the approval of the Kitsune Elders.
- Early plays frequently featured Stock Characters of this type, usually underlings or servants—a trope solidified by the plays of Plautus. This was carried on into the Commedia dell'Arte and Elizabethan plays, such as the works of Shakespeare.
- The eponymous character in The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro (it's the same guy). At the time of publishing "Marriage" (the sequel in canon, but made into an opera long before the first story), this kind of character being the lead in an opera was unheard of. Combined with Figaro being a commoner, it caused quite a stir in the music world. Needless to say, now they're some of the most beloved and famous operas in the world.
- The titular Gianni Schicchi is this trope amped to ridiculous levels. His Gambit Pileup he makes up on the fly, hinging on the other characters' greed both for him to prevail in the end and get off with impunity.
- An incredibly dark version of this is Iago from Othello (sometimes spelled Otello for the opera).
- A Midsummer Night's Dream gives us the mischievous Puck.
- Pseudolus from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum is an amalgam of every character of this type in Plautus. His name means "liar", by the way.
- In some of Tomson Highway's plays, Nanabush is a prominent character but can either not be seen or fully recognized by most characters in part symbolizing a loss and marginalization of (Canadian) native culture.
- Cirque du Soleil's KOOZA doesn't mess around — its Gentleman Snarker trickster figure is named The Trickster. Other trickster figures in Cirque include:
- Dimentio from Super Paper Mario manages to combine this with Monster Clown.
- Illidan Stormrage from World of Warcraft: He managed to deceive demon lords and to gain their powers (The vision of Sargeras, for example). He had a cunning and inventive intellect- he was the first demon hunter, using the powers of the Burning Legion against itself. His "gift" for the nightelves slightly reminds at the Titan Prometheus, too. The arcane is compareable to fire: It can lead both to high cultural advantages (the elves of the magical kingdom Quel'thalas were admired even by the mages of Dalaran for their perfection in the arcane arts) and immense destruction). Additionally, Illidan had traits of an Anti-Hero.
- Actually, the Night Elves already had magic, but abandoned it after nearly destroying Azeroth by overusing/abusing it. Prometheus did bring fire to the humans, while Illidan brought hellfire to the Night Elves.
- Kefka from Final Fantasy VI falls squarely into the "evil trickster" mold, then becomes something even worse.
- Juppo and Meg from the Suikoden series are "tricksters" by occupation.
- Pokémon Black and White introduces us to Zorua/Zoroark and Cottonee/Whimsicott. Cottonee has Prankster as one of its abilities, and Zorua can actually disguise itself as another Pokémon to trick its enemies.
- Lance Galahad sure is one in Brain Dead 13, especially when he plays a few ones on Fritz from the very beginning.
- The Elder Scrolls
- Lorkhan (aka Shor, Shezarr, Sep, Lorkhajj, etc.), the "dead" creator god of Mundus, the mortal plane, is said to be this even by those religions with a highly favorable view of him. Depending on the telling, he convinced/tricked some of the other pre-creation spirits (Anu et'Ada or Aedra) into sacrificing a large portion of their power in order to create the mortal world. Feeling betrayed by him, these other spirits "killed" him, cut out his heart (or "divine center"), and cast it down into the world he helped to create, where his spirit is forced to wander. The races of Mer (Elves), particularly the Altmer, typically despise him as they believe he robbed their ancestors of their pre-creation divinity and forced them to experience mortal loss and suffering. The races of Men (especially the Nords and Imperials) instead view him as a cosmic Greater-Scope Paragon and champion of Mankind.
- This is within the realm of Sheogorath, the Daedric Prince of Madness. One of his favorite games is making mortals or even other Daedra look like idiots. The lesson is usually "don't underestimate/bargain with/upset/stand near/shirk worship of Sheogorath", but it can be kinder ("there's always room for creativity") or more cruel ("there's madness within us all"), depending on his whims...
- The Tribunal deity Vivec, most prominently seen in Morrowind, has this as one of his "mythic roles." A cunning Warrior Poet, Vivec has been known to bedevil the universe's other divine beings, especially if they mess with his people (though he is known to exaggerate his role in some of these events and tells a number of Metaphorical Truths to make him seem more divine than he really is). He also implies (steeped in heavy metaphor) that his "godhood" essentially comes from realizing that he's in a video game and using that knowledge to "edit" the situation around him. When he disappeared in the Fourth Era so did his power keeping the rock floating over Vivec City, Baar Dau. Even with people sacrificing souls to Clavicus Vile, the Daedric Prince of Deals, it fell with the same momentum it had before Vivec stopped it and annihilated the island. In its wake Vivec City turning into the Scathing Bay, Red Mountian erupted, Vvardenfel became covered in choking ash, and the survivors were forced to evacuate. And then the Argonians invade...
- Dragon Age has The Dread Wolf Fen'Harel, an Elven trickster god with a healthy helping of Jerkass God. He was purportedly responsible for locking the Creators and the Forgotten Ones in heaven and hell, respectively, leading to the downfall, and eventual destruction of elven society. According to legend, Fen'Harel hates wisdom and kindness, and is fond of employing Cruel Mercy and Be Careful What You Wish For to those who ask for his help. Possibly subverted however when you meet him in Inquisition as Solas. He's generally a pretty decent guy, who would rather spend his time wandering The Fade and befriending spirits than willfully spreading misery, at least until the Trespasser DLC reveals that he plans to undo his past actions in order to bring back immortality to the Elves, which will undoubtedly cause devastation to all other races.
- Persona 5: Discussed, with the game outright asking you to take the role of a "Trickster" in the Opening Narration. Your protagonist is unsurprisingly a seemingly quiet and docile high schooler who ends up embracing a Secret Identity as a notorious Gentleman Thief out to reform the world through covert activities like Heel–Face Brainwashing corrupt serial abusers in positions of power.
- One of the most iconic tricksters in gaming is Sonic the Hedgehog, who has a reputation as a Mascot with Attitude, and ranges from being a Silent Snarker in the classic Sega Genesis games, to a plain old Deadpan Snarker in the modern era (and anything where he's not a Heroic Mime). He performs heroic feats and foils Dr. Eggman's plans while humiliating him in a manner reminiscent of characters like Bugs Bunny.
- In Remember11, Yuni is (rightfully) called Trickster in the opening credits, to go with the game's Jungian tones.
- April Fools' Day in the webcomic Holiday Wars is a shapeshifting prankster.
- Coyote and Reynardine (based somewhat on the above-mentioned Reynard the Fox) from Gunnerkrigg Court.
- Chaos of Life and Death. Plays cross-dimensional golf, teaches people to hold their tempers in the most obnoxious way possible, and can be a show off. DO NOT piss him off though.
- In A Magical Roommate, Mermaids are, as a culture, deliberately annoying. In an inversion of typical sirens, mermaid musicians can actually cause shipmen to suicide crash simply due to the utter cacophony.
"I know! To regain our surprise, let's perform Morning Screams!"
- ''John Egbert. You cannot hope to beat Egbert in a prank-off. He is simply the best there is. It also seems to run in the family.
- A more supernatural example in the vein of Coyote is Godcat, who is just as likely to teleport you into a paddock across town in the middle of a heavy rainstorm for giggles as he is to save you from an explosion by summoning a convenient couch floating in midair.
- In Koan Of The Day, the tortoise is a Trickster, able to easily subvert another's beliefs.
- In The Water Phoenix King, the goddess Ailari, patron of travelers, messengers, merchants, inns, freedom, and fortune. Her various servants and champions all embody these aspects in different ways, starting with Anthem's protests that she's nobody's servant, thankyouverymuch, and Gilgam's shameless Rules Lawyering and outright deceptions to see justice done without giving her away. (Vish even has Hermes' winged sandals, for all his Lawful inclinations.)
Vish: ...Lady Luck. My Goddess. Yours now. Sanctifier of Journeys, Lady of Crossroads, Gallows-Girl of Thieves and the Courts of Night.
- Nudge from Wapsi Square is a classic trickster. She eventually discovers that she is the kind of trickster who makes people want to punch her.
- Sam "Some of my people have even survived after uttering the phrase 'Watch This!'" Starfall, of Freefall. Sam claims this is good for humanity. (Also, his species.) Many other characters have elements of this as well; heroine Florence Ambrose is even a relative of Coyote's.
- Jareth is the resident one in the fancomic Roommates and its Spin-Off s (Girls Next Door and Down the Street), but his whole family has shades of this.
- In 8-Bit Theater the totemic spirit Raven once tricked Thief into thinking that he had died and was now in his own personal hell where he owned everything (and there was nothing left to steal). Then, several comics after "reviving him" tried to collect on the debt Thief owed him, instead Thief tricked Raven into admitting that he was never dead.
- Survival of the Fittest: Liz Polanski. Oh Liz. This is a character who starts out her game Obfuscating Insanity by slicing the head off a dead body and carrying it around, smearing her face with makeup, and overall trying to make herself look as Ax-Crazy as possible in front of other students so they'll leave her alone. She then one-ups herself by pouring melted aluminum all over her collar to deactivate it. And it works.
- The YouTube parodies of Der Untergang turn Hermann Fegelein into a Trickster Arch-Enemy of Hitler. Everything that goes wrong in the Third Reich can be attributed to Fegelein and his antics. Himmler helps him out on it too on at least one occasion, and is pretty explicitly said in the parodies to also have been a major trickster.
- While Beltane and Thorn both see themselves as tricksters among the students at Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe, they are nothing compared to Sun Wu Kong, who has been plaguing Bladedancer ever since his first appearance.
- Hermes shows up in the 7th Chrono Hustle story. While it is his status as messenger of the Gods that is in play, his trickster tendencies show up as well.
- Coober the Wizard in Unforgotten Realms Live. He tried to sell the main party a bunch of cursed artifacts in The Nuren Campaign, and he disguised himself as a Kobold for unknown reasons in The Sunswords.
- Bugs Bunny, the former Trope Namer, is claimed to be a cross between Br'er Rabbit and Groucho Marx, himself an example. Likewise, many other characters from The Golden Age of Animation can fit this archetype like Woody Woodpecker, Screwy Squirrel, Chip 'n Dale, and pre-Flanderization Daffy Duck.
- Bart Simpson from The Simpsons was often such in older episodes ("The Telltale Head" and "Radio Bart", for example). A number of books written about The Simpsons have compared it to African trickster tales, where the smaller, cunning creatures (hare, spider, tortoise) outwit the larger dumber animals (lion, elephant, hyena).
- Digeri Dingo from Taz-Mania. He often tricks Taz into doing dangerous things for his own profit. To keep him from being The Scrappy, he's got some of the wittiest, most hilarious lines in the series and could possibly fall into Ensemble Dark Horse status because of this.
- Gargoyles has Puck. "What fools these mortals be!" Coyote, Raven and Anansi. Xanatos (yes, that Xanatos) very much patterns himself after the mythological trickster. On his website, Greg Weisman was once asked about including the Egyptian god Seth, and noted that "He's basically a Trickster figure[...]and I already have four of those to play with."
- Word of God describes The Spectacular Spider-Man versions of Spidey himself and the Green Goblin this way.
- In Xiaolin Showdown, one of the first things Raimundo does is pants Omi and complain about the mat beds.
- The Magic Man from Adventure Time lives solely to knock heroes down a peg.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Discord looks and acts like a Trickster, but beneath it there's a hidden side of malice. Also, when push comes to shove and trickery fails, he's not above just Cutting the Knot to get what he wants. Becomes a straight example after his Heel–Face Turn.
- Princess Celestia from the same show is a good version of this trope; fans don't call her "Trollestia" for nothing.
- T.J. Detweiler from Recess. King Bob was this as well before he became king of the playground.
- June from KaBlam! is basically a female, human, eleven-year-old version of Bugs Bunny.
- Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender, before he developed as a character.
- Bill Cipher from Gravity Falls can definitely be classed as one. One with Reality Warping powers and the disposition of a Psychopathic Manchild... This can't end well...
Bill: It's funny how dumb you are.
- Babs and Buster Bunny from Tiny Toon Adventures inherit this from their mentor Bugs Bunny, but especially Babs.
- When she wasn't tossing around shadowbolts like party favors, Shadow Weaver of She-Ra: Princess of Power fame often used her magic to trick and befuddled the Rebellion with illusions. Imp also tended to take the Trickster archetype whenever he felt the need to directly interact with the good guys.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Orko from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe tended to rely on tricks and such for fighting, if only because his magic was severely nerfed while he was on Eternia.
- Mr. Cat from Kaeloo usually tricks the others into giving him things he wants. It helps that he's the only actual smart character in the cast.