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Those Wily Coyotes
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:

Anime and Manga
  • Coyote Starkk, from Bleach. For some reason he summons wolves, but in his most powerful form, he wears cowboy-like clothing, and is very much a loner, despite the fact he doesn't really want to be.
    • Perhaps that's why his name is 'coyote' yet he summons wolves. His name and Super Mode appearance reflects the depiction of coyotes as loners, yet his 'wolf pack' illustrates how he wishes to be part of a group, something which wolves are definitely strongly associated with.

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.
  • The "Coyote Gospel" story in Animal Man in which Coyote suffers for our world.
  • A Daredevil villain who stole powers of the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Spot and proved much more devious in using them called himself Coyote.

Literature
  • The half-Native American main character in The Walker Papers series is mentored by a coyote spirit.
  • Half-Native American Mercy from the Mercy Thompson series can turn into a coyote.
  • Coyote appears as an animal in The Book Of Sorrows by Walter Wangerin, Jr., where scrawny Ferric accidentally sets in motion a chain of events that bring Heaven and Hell crashing down upon the land.
  • In Sky Coyote by Kage Baker, the role of "Sky Coyote" is taken on by the cyborg Joseph in order to convince a Chumash Indian community in California to evacuate in advance of European exploration.
  • 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.
  • Coyote is a major character in Thomas King's Green Grass, Running Water; his playing around sets off the book's climax.
  • A pack of coyotes appear in Seeker Bears: River Of Lost Bears after Yakone loses some toes in a bear trap and accidentally attracts them with blood. Fortunately, the bears were able to leap onto a train, leaving the coyotes in the dust...well, except for one that got run over.
  • In Changer and Legends Walking / Changer's Daughter by Jane Lindskold, the shapeshifting Changer took the form of a coyote and had a family. Someone killed most of them save for the Changer and his daughter, a coyote pup, and the Changer returns to civilization to find out who did it.

Mythology

Sports

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.

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.
  • In the Simpsons episode "El Viaje Misterioso De Nuestro Homer", Homer's spirit guide is a coyote voiced by Johnny Cash.
  • Calamity Coyote in Tiny Toon Adventures
  • Coyote, the name of a series of robots in the Gargoyles series. (The mythical Coyote the trickster also makes an appearance in the Gargoyles episode "Cloud Fathers".)
  • Disney's The Legend of Coyote Rock, which is apparently about Pluto accidentally creating the titular rock structure while attempting to protect his herd of sheep from a hungry coyote.
    • The coyote, Ol' Bent Tail, went on to appear in other cartoons with his son. While Bent Tail fits this trope to a tee, Junior is Too Dumb to Live instead; in one cartoon he tries to eat Pluto, mistaking him for prey.
  • The Big Bad of Barnyard is a coyote named Dag.
  • Tech E Coyote from Loonatics Unleashed.
  • 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.
  • The Polite Coyotes (from the Tex Tinstar segment of The Shnookums And Meat Funny Cartoon Show) were all patterned in voice and mannerisms from The Beatles.

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