"For all of the vermin ye'd care to recall, The weasel's the wickedest wretch of all, An' virtuous vermin will all agree, Any weasel is worse than me!"
—Flinky the stoat (not the same thing as a weasel), Loamhedge
Mustelids are recently becoming popular as heroic Weasel Mascot
characters, but it wasn't always so. Older European works in particular portray weasels as sneaky at best
and downright villainous at worst
, often as the nemesis of a prey animal protagonist
. As a general rule, fictional weasels are cowardly about direct confrontation, but cunning, treacherous and cruel
, and sometimes downright Ax-Crazy
. Such villainous portrayals might stem from weasels preying on poultry and rabbits from farms — often targeting eggs (hence a reputation as thief). They also do have a tendency to indulge in overkill; a weasel that makes it into a henhouse may get overexcited and kill more chickens than it can eat.
In real life, while they certainly are rather clever in terms of their hunting strategies, it's completely unfair to tag them as cowards; weasels are astonishingly fearless animals, being smaller than their preferred prey (rabbits) and hunting them alone. (For this reason, in many less well-known mythologies, such as the folklore of ancient Macedon and the Inuit, weasels actually symbolize wisdom and courage.) Some portrayals of malicious mustelids reflect this, portraying them as almost suicidally brave
In addition to weasels, stoats and polecats get a fair amount of this. Ferrets are portrayed similarly as clever, hyperactive, slightly crazy tricksters, but are often cute and harmless rather than malicious, probably because people are increasingly likely to be familiar with them as pets. Martens and fishers are somewhat less likely to be lumped in with weasels, and otters are something completely different
, as are badgers and wolverines. Mongooses are saved, ironically not by the fact that they're completely unrelated to weasels
, but by being famous for fighting snakes
The stereotype of the Wicked Weasel is so strong that sneaky, evil, bloodthirsty, or sociopathic characters of other species may be compared to or called weasels, or weasel imagery used to describe them, exploiting the audience's reaction to this trope.
May lead to cases of I Am Not Weasel
. See also Animal Stereotypes
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Anime and Manga
- Averted by Weekly the weasel in Blacksad; he's well-known as The Pigpen and a Loveable Sex Maniac, but harmless and basically a decent guy.
- In The Mice Templar series, weasels comprise the royal guard serving a corrupt mouse king, and they have a vicious rivalry with the rats who make up the army and the druidic priesthood.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the villainous Judge Doom uses weasels as his enforcers. They're sneaky, cruel, and so prone to fits of hysterical laughter that Doom disapprovingly compares them to their "idiot hyena cousins" (even though hyenas are no more related to weasels than mongooses are).
- Subverted in a story from the Roger Rabbit comic book in which a weasel moves next door to Roger. Roger initially suspects the weasel will attack him, but when the weasel makes no such move, Roger tries to give him a nice welcome. Hilarity Ensues.
- Subverted in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: Buckminster is completely crazy, but he's not an evil weasel. In fact, he's one of the few examples of a heroic weasel.
- In the Christmas Special Christopher the Christmas Tree, the Woodland Creatures come to Christopher specifically for protection from "the foxes and the weasels".
- Subverted in The Beastmaster; Kodo and Podo are not evil in the slightest, just well trained thieves.
- The Muppets movie Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas features Chuck Stoat and Stanley Weasel as members of the Riverbottom Nightmare Band, Emmet's rivals in the talent contest.
- Winkie's weasel henchmen in the "Wind in the Willows" scene of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
- The Micmac Indians of eastern Canada and northern New England, while not exactly seeing weasels as evil, did tend to portray them negatively. One of these tales, "Mikmaq Women Who Married Star Husbands," features two skusiskwaq - literally, "weasel women" - who are said to be sisters. The younger sister, while not evil per se, is pretty untrustworthy, a Bad Liar, and comically stupid. She and her sister wind up suffering a Fate Worse than Death because of her moral failings.
- Weasels and their ilk are Always Chaotic Evil in Redwall. The exact nature of their evil varies, from delinquent Creepy Child Veil to Psychopathic Manchild Bladd to numerous Punch Clock Villain types to most of the Big Bad characters who aren't rats.
- Averted in Welkin Weasels, where the weasels are the heroes, although stoats (another mustelid) are mostly villains.
- Also averted in The Book of the Dun Cow. John Wesley Weasel, although fierce, stubborn and implied to be a Reformed Criminal, is extremely loyal to the rooster protagonist, is undoubtedly one of the good guys, and literally kills thousands of enemy basilisks single-handedly after one murders his friend. Also unlike the portrayal of evil weasels, he is disgusted by the cowardly Mad House of Otter.
- Averted in The Wainscott Weasel, which has several weasels throughout. The A-plot focuses on the title weasel (aka Bagley Brown, Jr.), with a B-plot focusing on a younger pair named Zeke and Wendy. The species is mostly viewed as sympathetic, if a bit rowdy at times. However, this doesn't stop some other species (including bullfrog) from initially thinking that this trope is true upon first meeting Bagley… only to realize what a nice guy he actually is.
- Lampshaded in Howliday Inn, in which a weasel character (simply known as the Weasel) complains about the "weasels are evil and sneaky" stereotype and actively goes out of his way to be a good guy.
- In one of the later The Dark Is Rising books, Will Stanton comes face to face with some chicken-killing ermine who are clearly foreshadowy avatars of the Dark, and some time is spent on their inborn propensity to kill just for fun. They're ordinary-sized mustelidae, and he's an immortal wizard, but damn if those ermine aren't creepy.
- In Winnie the Pooh Pooh attempts to track a "Woozle" and a "Wizzle". (Turns out, he was actually tracking himself and the Piglet.) In the TV series Woozles actually exist, and (usually) act as villains.
- In The Berenstain Bears Spin-Off Bear Scouts series, an underground society of Always Chaotic Evil weasels, led by Weasel McGreed, are occasional villains.
- Subverted in Cordwainer Smith's short story "Mother Hitton's Little Kittons", a planet is defended by telepathically broadcasting the vicious ravings of insane, psychic minks, causing a villain to commit suicide before he can attack the planet. (A mink is a type of weasel.)
- The Wind in the Willows:
- The evil weasels (and stoats) who take over Toad Hall
- Played with in the Fan Sequel Return To The Willows. While most of the weasels and stoats remain antagonists, a friendly weasel, Sammy, befriends Toad's nephew Humphrey.
- In "Weird Al" Yankovic's famous song "Albuquerque" (among many, many other things) the narrator is beset by a dozen starving, crazed weasels (which were inexplicably inside a box at a doughnut shop). Averted with his song Weasel Stomping Day, where the listener feels sympathy for the weasels.
- Weasels Ripped My Flesh. (Okay, not so much "evil" as really, really, really weird and creepy.)
- Shady characters are sometimes portrayed as weasels in Dilbert. In one case this lead to an Even Evil Has Standards moment when the weasel quit rather than help the company downplay its new product's horrible flaws with buzzwords.
- Life in Hell has a quote: Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come.
- Get Fuzzy has Bucky's arch-nemesis Fungo the ferret. Then again, arching Bucky isn't particularly wicked.
- Japanese sickle weasels that transform into tornados are enemies in Ghouls 'n Ghosts. Like everything in the game, they're really frickin annoying.
- The weasels in the game Conkers Bad Fur Day are the subjects of the Panther King(who is supposedly the games main villain), as such they have a large role in the game. The Panther King's Weasel subjects include the weasel mafia, Two Fat and Skinny guards wielding medieval weaponry, and armored bank security guards with modern weapons. The most prominent weasel characters are the Professor, an evil scientist who creates the Tediz and a Don Weaso, the head of the weasel mafia. According to the manual the reason the weasels are ruled by a panther instead of one of their own is their current Panther king seized power in the past by cutting off the legs of their old weasel king(implied to be the legless weasel professor).
- Sneasel and Weavile of Pokémon are dark/ice sickle weasel Pokemon.
- Fang The Sniper (known as Nack the Weasel in the U.S.) of Sonic the Hedgehog fame. Little known fact: In Japan, Fang is considered to be a wolf/weasel hybrid. In America, he's only a weasel.
- A band of weasels kidnap Pluto for his collar in the Nintendo 64 racing game Mickey's Speedway USA.
- In the second Quest Of Yipe game, the Weasel Boy is a moderately-powerful enemy. The third game has "Attack Weasels", which are very weak and easily defeated.
- Tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons:
- Dire Weasels, which bite people and attaches itself to them before killing them by blood loss from the wound.
- Regular weasels are also Wizard familiars, and (surprise, surprise) give a bonus to Bluff checks.
- On one of the Orson's Farm shorts of Garfield and Friends, a rotten weasel was plotting to steal chickens from the farm.
- The old Cabbage Patch Kids stories had a character called Beau Weasel, who enjoys doing evil deeds for money. He somehow took part in an old hag's plot against the Cabbage Patch when he heard that gold was involved.
- This one is averted by I Am Weasel, because the weasel there is a sophisticated protagonist.
- Don't forget the weasel from a few Foghorn Leghorn cartoons.
- Woozles from Winnie the Pooh.
- Weasels appear as Pete's henchmen in the 1990 Mickey Mouse adaptation of The Prince and the Pauper.
- Two weasels are shown digging Ebenezer Scrooge's grave in the 1983 special Mickey's Christmas Carol. One of them speaks in a Cockney dialect (befitting the story's London setting), while the other has what sounds like a Spanish accent (perhaps because Spanish accents often sound evil).
- The Weavils on Jimmy Two-Shoes.
- Weasel from The Animals of Farthing Wood was generally a bitch, but loyal and courageous for defying Scarface at her own peril to protect Fox several times, making her an aversion. Later seasons add her boyfriend/husband (Wait, Weasel is a girl??), who is rather oafish and (apart perhaps from cowardice) not at all stereotypically weasel-like.
- Played straight with The Creeper from Animalia: He is apparently the most dangerous villain on the show, being both portrayed as a Knight of Cerebus and more evil than the semi-villain Tyrannicus, who was a tiger.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had Wes Weasely, a weasel-like salesman who sold weapons and contraptions to Robotnik that he could use to catch Sonic.
- Wacky Weasel from Bonkers.
- Skulk from The Little Flying Bears.
- Snout and Ollie from Toad Patrol.
- Despite being a ferret instead of a weasel, Paddy from Scaredy Squirrel is a straight example.
- Averted with Freddy from Back at the Barnyard. He generally feels bad about his chicken cravings and is actuially a bit of a Woobie.
- The Mr. Bogus episode "Bogus Private Eye" featured a group of weasels who acted as gangsters and crime lords, making it sort of an Homage to that of The Godfather.
- Naruto gives us the infamous assassin Itachi Uchiha. "Itachi" means "weasel" in Japanese. Subverted in his main role.
- The villain of Billy Madison - an Evil Chancellor type - is described as laughing like a weasel, with a hissy "Hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee!" that one of the other characters imitates.
- Bluto in Animal House names one of the pledges to the mischievous Delta Tau Chi fraternity "Weasel." One of the senior members of the frat is named "Otter," although other than being lecherous and something of a Jerkass, he isn't really villainous.
- The Weasleys of the Harry Potter series were intentionally named and created as heroic characters to avert this trope. Quoth Rowling:
"In Britain and Ireland the weasel has a bad reputation as an unfortunate, even malevolent, animal. However, since childhood I have had a great fondness for the Family Mustelidae; not so much malignant as maligned, in my opinion."
- In the Belisarius Series, Valentinian is frequently described as having a wicked look ... and compared to a weasel. Then he fought Rana Sanga in an epic battle — justifying it to himself as, Because I'm tired of being called a weasel — and from then on, to Indians, at least, he was admired as "The Mongoose."
- A Song of Ice and Fire has House Frey, whose members are often described as slimy, self-centered, untrustworthy, and, of course, weaselly, though you'll find the occasional Frey who's actually pretty decent.
- In the live action TV series, Family Matters Eddie Winslow sometimes hung out with a teenage boy named "Weasel," whom his parents believed was a bad influence on Eddie.
- Unsourced Quote: "Having a menacing aura is like having a pet weasel. Not many people have one, and when they find out you do, they tend to hide under the couch."
- The japanese yokai demon ''Kamaitachi'' (litt. Sickle Weasel) is a weasel demon with large, scythe-shaped claws, which he uses to cut passers-by to ribbons. One variety has three small weasels working together: the first one knock down the traveller, the second one cut him up and the third one close the wounds.
- The mailing list joke "Ferret Property Laws" plays on their reputations as thieves:
1. If I like it, it's mine.
2. If it's in my mouth, it's mine.
3. If it's in my paw, it's mine.
4. If I saw it first, it's mine.
5. If I can take it from you, it's mine.
6. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.
7. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.
8. If you are playing with something and put it down, it automatically becomes mine.
9. If I'm breaking or hiding something, all the pieces are mine.
10. If it's broken, it's yours, when it's fixed, it's mine.
11. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.
12. If I think it's mine, it's mine.
13. If I let you play with it, it's mine.
14. If I can drag it under the couch, it's mine.
15. If it's out of your reach, it's mine.
16. If it's food, it's mine.
17. If I lose interest in it...it's STILL mine!
- The Norse male name Möršur is derived from the weasel's relative, the marten, and this name has a bad reputation, all the way back to The Icelandic Sagas, where Möršr Valgaršsson is notorious for his evil ways. The word lygamöršur is derived from his name, the English equivalent of which would be lying weasel.