Those Wily Coyotes

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There's an 80% chance this is a shapeshifted Native American.

Coyotes are some of the most crafty animals on the planet, traits which they share with foxes. Where wolves are struggling to survive in a world where their habitats are disappearing, coyotes have moved in and adapted so well we sometimes wonder who the suburbs were actually built for, us or them.

In Native American Mythology, he's a recurring character. One story even claims Coyote stole fire for man, and is seen as a benevolent (if tricky) God.

Then again, other times he's a bit of a fool, and can get himself into trouble, thinking he's got everything figured out. Outside of Native American portrayals, various other portrayals of coyotes don't take them quite as seriously as they take foxes and wolves, including one coyote who is arguably one of the most memorable Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains ever.

Coyotes in general though have a special place as tricksters, guides and a link to the unseen world. Other times, they are associated with the darker aspects of mysticism, along with cruelty and deceit, and may be a Skin-walker in disguise.

Anyways, you can bet that if a story wants to have an indigenous American flavor, a Coyote is bound to show up sooner or later. The association is so strong, it's spilled over into representing 'the American West' in general. They are often also shapeshifters, which goes along with their crafty, deceptive nature. And if there is any animal out there smart enough to talk, it's going to be the coyote, and he'll probably be snarky, too. Despite the fact that coyotes can live in bands, just like wolves do packs, they are usually seen as loners in folklore and media. Other common associations include shamanism, mystery, nature, or intelligence.

Compare Cunning Like a Fox and Clever Crows, who share a lot of the same associations as the Coyote, as they play similar roles in Native American Mythology. May be used as part of an Animal Motif. See also Animal Stereotypes.


Examples:

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     Comics  
  • The Coyote comic series features a lead hero/trickster character similar to the mythical versions of the Coyote, as well as a modern interpretation of a half-man/half-coyote hero.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog comic book features Antoine D'Coolette, a cowardly coyote with good intentions, and Patch, Antoine's opposite number from a mirror universe, known for being cunning, deceptive, and cruel.

     Literature  
  • In a series of novels by Michael Bergey, including New Coyote and Coyote Season, Coyote reincarnates as a genetically engineered coyote to learn how to use science as well as magic.
  • In Summerland by Michael Chabon, Coyote is the primary antagonist, who tries to destroy the world so that he can change his status from "Changer" (trickster) to "Maker", and create a universe all of his own.
  • Coyotes appear in Survivors, but not as much as dogs or foxes. In fact, the dogs consider them just as bad as foxes for their sneaky ways.

     Music  
  • In "Coyote", a song from Hejira, Joni Mitchell compares a lover to the Coyote figure in its trickster/fool aspect.

     Mythology  
  • As mentioned up top, Coyote shows up in the myths of many Native American cultures, with varying depictions. Even the Aztecs had him as the trickster Huehuecoyotl.

     Tabletop RPG  
  • Dungeons & Dragons Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia. Coyote is a lesser god in the Native American mythos. He can act as a high level illusionist and thief, and is a bullying, greedy trickster. Often his tricks will backfire on him.
  • Shadowrun. Shamans can have Coyote as a totem. Coyote is the Great Trickster, bold one moment and cowardly the next, a good friend or a cruel joker. Coyote shamans are independent and don't follow any rules. They're curious, greedy and take risks just for fun.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse features the Nuwisha, the were-coyotes, who serve as tricksters and teachers. Their patron Coyote has many alter-egos, including most of the world's trickster gods.

     Video Games  
  • zOMG!: the Coyote Spirit ring, part of the Shaman ring set, increases the target's speed and luck.

     Web Comics  
  • Gunnerkrigg Court features the Native American trickster god as a character. He may be Chaotic Neutral or Affably Evil and he's certainly cunning.
  • Chase from Crowfeathers is occasionally visited and advised by his best friend's spirit guide, who takes the form either of a normal coyote or of a boy with coyote ears/tail/paws.

     Web Original  
  • Huehuecoyotl, also known as Huey, is one of the primary characters in No Evil. He is known for his strange cunning and tendency to get into trouble, but he's mostly harmless and well-meaning. He also tends to be a fool, as he is based on the collection of coyote mythos.

     Western Animation  
  • Wile E. Coyote from Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, who comes up with all sorts of seemingly cunning plans to catch the roadrunner. Tapping into the fool aspect of coyote mythology, it never works.
  • Gargoyles:
    • One of the members of the canid-themed Quirky Miniboss Squad the Pack is named Coyote. He's a robot, though, and therefore not very big on creative thought; the name was instead chosen by his creator Xanatos as something that fits the team's theme and because Xanatos considers himself a trickster - for instance, he originally built Coyote as a Robot Me to fool everyone into thinking he himself was joining the Pack.
    • The mythical Coyote the trickster makes an appearance in the episode "Cloud Fathers", with Xanatos and the robot Coyote trying to capture him. The mythical Coyote takes offense at the robot using his name and threatens to sue for copyright infringement.
  • The pack of coyotes in the Pound Puppies (2010) episode, "Rebel Without A Collar". The pack leader even knows how to open a locked cabin door by giving it a bump with his hip.


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