"In Romani, there is the saying that kon mangel te kerel tumendar roburen chi shocha phenela tumen o chachimos pa tumare perintonde, 'he who wants to enslave you will never tell you the truth about your forefathers.'"
—Ian Hancock, Romani scholar
The Romani have been a popular subject in media due to the many colorful and inaccurate stereotypes associated with the culture:
First, gypsies are usually shown as dishonest: thieves, pickpockets, con-men, trespassers, and all-around tricksters who wouldn't think twice about taking everything you own that isn't nailed down, and a few things that are. The danger of children being kidnapped by gypsies was a common old wives' tale. The stereotype for dishonesty is where the term "gypped" probably comes from. While the rampant poverty in some Romani populations does lead to a high level of crime, this is also true of the poverty-stricken sections of every other race.
Gypsies are almost shown as universally romantic nomads. They're mysterious and magical people, as the sheer number of Gypsy Fortune Tellers and Gypsy Curses demonstrates. They're also associated with Tarot cards, and sometimes credited with inventing them. Their women are fiery-tempered temptresses. They dance in flamenco outfits to Hungarian music. They wear brightly colored clothes and travel in brightly decorated caravans. They have dark skin and speak with an Überwald accent, regardless of where they are and where they're supposed to be from.
In reality, the Romani are an ethnic group found throughout Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. They originally emigrated from India, but were mistaken for Egyptians by Medieval Europeans, which is how the term gypsy originated. While they were originally moderately dark of skin, several hundred years of intermarrying with other ethnic groups have allowed many modern Romani to pass as White, Indian, or even African if they so chose. Nomadic Romani were certainly a historical fact, but the majority of modern Romani live in standard housing and are every bit as tech-savvy as their neighbors.
In addition to perpetuating stereotypes about the Romani, the media is largely blasé about slurs against them, using insulting terms like "gyppo" or "pikey" without much concern; and to some Romani, the word "gypsy" is in and of itself an offensive slur. Apparently the Romani are still Acceptable Ethnic Targets — another holdover from previouscenturies when the Romani were one of the Western world's Butt Monkeys. Approximately 500,000 Romani were killed in Nazi concentration camps, with several hundred thousand more killed by roving SS death squads; all told, between one and two million European Romani were killed during World War II.
Persecution of Romani is called Antiziganism. Historically very widespread (one of the crimes punishable by death in the 18th-19th century "BloodyCode" in England was "spending more than one month in the company of Gypsies"note Given the times, may have not included only Romani but also all transients, particularly the Irish Travellers), it still continues today. As recently as 2010 Paris had come under fire from Amnesty International for attempting to deport several hundred French Roma to Bulgaria and Romania, without regard of where they were actually from or whether they lived in the much-maligned "camps". Several other countries have also come under fire from the UN and Amnesty International for segregationist policies.
There is no significant relation (ethnic or etymological) to the Romans or the Romanians. Sometimes the two are confused, which is probably because the "â" used in the native name for Romania gets lost in the English translation. There is also no connection between the Romani and Irish Travellers beyond a historical reputation for a nomadic lifestyle.
Ed had a mystical dream-reading Gypsy best friend, Noah, in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa . Incidentally, she's not all that honest, either.
Oddly enough, in the "Chibi Party" OVA Ed specifically mentions that the proper term is "roma".
Noah also makes a point of explaining to Ed that the proper name for a "gypsy" is a 'rom' in the movie.
Faye deliberately played into this stereotype in Cowboy Bebop (for whatever reason) in an attempt to get Spike to let her go. Since she's actually from Singapore, it's a miracle he bought it in the first place.
Serge Battour, the protagonist of Kaze to Ki no Uta, is half Romani (from his mom Parva's side) and completely avoids all the associated stereotypes. He is probably the most sympathetic and endearing character in the entire series.
Word Of God says that Sailor Moon's Sailor Pluto (who can technically known a bit of the future) is part Roma. She's also the only dark-skinned character, itself a old shoujo comic holdover to European folklore where it was asociated with darker skin or the (Arab-influenced) Spanish.
The lead character Dimitri from Kurobara Alice, who is half Romani and half Polish. (His mom is mentioned to have German blood, too.) He spent his early years with his mother's Romani group, until he's "discovered" by a rich Austrian family and taken in as a boarding student.
The heroine Gypsy is sometimes Romani, sometimes not, Depending on the Writer. She did start as basically a street thief.
A plotline in the Batman Comic Strip of the 1940s had a Gypsy lad framed for murder. Colorful clothing, check. Hot-tempered, especially when it comes to the honour of his sister, check. Strong distrust of the police and legal system, check. Actual murderer? Not so much.
Nightwing is Romani, unless he's magically a different ethnicity from his biological parents...
As of the most recent issue of Justice League Generation Lost, Ice suddenly has been retconned to be a member of a Scandinavian Romani offshoot that are all conmen and thieves except for her immediate family, who fled the lifestyle to prevent her grandfather from using her ice powers for robbery. This flatly contradicts everything we know about Ice's past, including previous appearances of said immediate family. Thank you,Judd Winick.
Doctor Doom is a Rom from Latveria. Unambiguously villainous, but a complete aversion of the Gypsy stereotypes. Well, he's a technical genius. He still grew up amongst superstitious folk living in horse-drawn caravans though. And let's not even get started on his mother, the demon-summoning sorceress. On the other hand, Doom is a vocal activist for Romani rights, and they are some of the few people associated with a villain who are treated sympathetically in Marvel Comics.
Wanda aka Scarlet Witch and her twin Pietro aka Quicksilver are half-Romani, half-Jewish. They were raised in a pretty stereotypical Gypsy caravan. (By a cow.) Their father Magneto was retconned as being a Gypsy, rather than Jewish, in the early 90s. Apparently when Marvel decided to build him up as a major villain in the Fatal Attractions crossover, they worried about negative response to having a clearly Jewish villain. However Gypsies were still Acceptable Targets. Fortunately, a later Author's Saving Throw returned Magneto to his Jewish roots.
Nightcrawler was raised by gypsy sorceress Margali Szardos. His Excalibur teammate Meggan AKA Gloriana is Romani too. In Captain Britain and MI:13 Annual #1, a flashback of her childhood shows her and her family running into some bigoted Englishmen and she shapeshifts into a hideous Gypsy stereotype.
The Tintin book Tintin The Castafiore Emerald had a camp of Gypsies setting up in a dump just downwind from Marlinspike. Captain Haddock then generously lets them camp out closer to his house, to the objection of his butler. Things soon went missing from the manor, which led to everyone looking at the gypsies suspiciously. Turns out a magpie did it. It's actually a much more sympathetic portrayal of the Romani people than a lot of others.
One issue of the Belgian "Kiekeboe" comics deals with this. Most Gypsies are actually honest people whose worst crime is begging, though there is one who gives the rest a bad name by stealing.
When we first see "Gypsies" in Castle Waiting, they're horse thieves, murderers, and scoundrels with ties to people who buy babies. Fits with the fairy tale themes, but still has Unfortunate Implications. Thus, the next "Gypsy" we see is honest, upstanding, and likable, and although we don't see the band he came from, every indication is that they're generally nice people.
The Romani make a brief appearance in Maus, with Anja seeking the services of a fortune teller who says Vladek is still alive. In tune with the rest of the book's Funny Animals theme, the fortune teller is portrayed as a gypsy moth.
Viz attracted a number of complaints over a comic strip titled "The Thieving Gypsy Bastards", about a family of gypsies (who look like stereotypical Romani but have an Irish name, suggesting they were intended to be Irish Travellers) who move into a middle-class area and steal and vandalise everything in sight. The next issue contained a cut-out apology to all Romani and travellers, subtitled "what every gypsy's been waiting for!"
Stereotypical "Gypsies" are a popular trope in the old Universal B&W horror films. E.g., The Wolf Man 1941 (1941), where a Gypsy fortuneteller explains Lawrence Talbot's curse to him (who also appears in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man), and House of Frankenstein (1944), where a beautiful Gypsy girl is the love interest of the hunchback Daniel (but is herself more interested in Talbot).
That said, although they're stereotypical as all get out, to its merit The Wolf Man 1941 portrays its "Gypsies" very much positively. When prejudice against Romani comes up, it's portrayed as narrow-minded and ignorant, and Maleva (the gypsy fortuneteller) is an outright heroic figure who tries to help Lawrence Talbot and protect the people around him.
In Mel Brooks's Dracula: Dead and Loving It, a stereotypical old Rom woman warns Renfield that Dracula is evil and gives him a crucifix to protect him. When he tries to go, she asks him to pay for it. The early Dracula films were among the Trope Makers for stereotypes applied to both Romani and Eastern European people in general (see Literature below).
Disney's Adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame presents the Gypsies as extremely colorful and eccentric people; Esmeralda is the most sympathetic version. The stereotyped depiction is somewhat justified by the setting, and the group as a whole are presented as sympathetic victims of Frollo's overzealous desire for Religious Purity in Paris. Basically, the bad guys in Hunchback think the Gypsies are the first type, but they're really the second type. There's also one scene where Esmeralda read Quasimodo's palm, but this was mostly an entire fabrication she used to conceal the Aesop she was trying to teach him. Which might seem to be perpetuating the con-man status of the Roma, particularly with Quasimodo's extreme naivete, except she was only doing it to help him.
In Disney's Robin Hood, the titular fox disguises himself as a Romani fortune teller to rob from Prince John.
A Gypsy camp provides Holmes and Watson with some important clues on an anarchist cell tied to Moriarty's plot in Sherlock Holmes A Game Of Shadows. They do take Watson's luggage, his coat, and his scarf; though it's implied that they were simply playing up the stereotype in order to mess with Watson when one of them gives the scarf back.
The Sam Raimi horror flick Drag Me to Hell centers around a banker who's cursed by an elderly Gypsy woman after she forecloses on her house.
Gypsy / Return of Budulai TV miniseries (USSR). Both did as well as they were almost destined to do: this theme gives the perfect pretext for including as much of horses, whip-crackingBad Assriders and mildly exotic song and dance as needed, which makes surefire audiovisuals. The series used these possibilities well and maintained high enough general quality to not waste them.
Anna and Velkan Valerious, the Gypsy princess and prince of Van Helsing. While this film includes many tropes from old monster movies, it also inverts the stereotype of the evil Gypsies helping the monsters, with Anna and Velkan being monster fighters, sworn enemies of Dracula, and (in Anna's case) an ally/love interest of Van Helsing. They do have campy foreign accents, though this stereotype is somewhat justified by the story's setting; parts of Anna's attire also fit the stereotype of the colorful Gypsy clothing.
Golden Earrings is kind of Dances With Tambourines. Sneaking into Nazi Germany on a secret mission to steal the formula for phlebotinum, Ray Milland runs into a band of movie gypsies, including Marlene Dietrich, and Murvyn Vye as the leader, Zoltan. They disguise him as one of them, teach him their ways and save his life. After the war, of course, he returns to them.
Romani factor into Brotherhood of the Wolf. The film starts with the two heroes defending a gyspy woman and her father from being persecuted by thuggish soldiers. The gypsy woman, who suffers from seizures, is teased as a possible love interest for Mani. However, the gypsy community in general is rather violent and confrontational. Ultimately it's revealed that they're working for the villains, which results in a rather brutal come-uppance.
The Man Who Cried has the central character fall in love with a Gypsy man, played by Johnny Depp, who later chooses to remain with his family through the Nazi invasion of France. In this case, the Gypsy characters are depicted as outsiders, but the difference in this case is that the main character, Suzie, finds solidarity with them as she is also seen as "Other".
Both the film and the book Thinner by Stephen King feature a modern band of gypsies whose leader curses the main characters, and who fulfill the main trope and stereotype fully.
The Emilio Estevez film The Way features a gypsy boy who steals Tom's backpack (which happens to contain his son's ashes). Tom's friends tell him there's no point in reporting the theft to the police, as they would never be able to track the boy down. However, later that night the boy's father comes to the bar where the main group is commiserating over the loss of the backpack to return it, incredibly ashamed at what his son had done (he lectures the boy on not reaffirming everyone's stereotypes). To make up for it, he invites them to a party that night where the expected music and dancing occurs.
Yashka from The Elusive Avengers is a fairly stereotypical roguish, conniving Roma boy, but this is played positively, he's a Guile Hero who uses trickery against enemies of Soviet Russia. Other Roma also appear in New Adventures of the Elusives, and are portrayed similarly to Yashka after he convinces them to help the Avengers free Danka from the White GuardSecret Police prison.
Train Of Life features a group of Ashkenazi Jews getting into a friendly music competition with a group of Roma during World War 2, seen here.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While the Disney version is more politically correct, the original novel by Victor Hugo plays the negative stereotype of Romani straight, while Quasimodo is sympathetic to them. Contrary to popular belief, the moral of the story is not that the bad treatment of gypsies is unfair, but that the people were wrong to mistreat Esmeralda because she was not actually a gypsy, and the moment Esmeralda's mom learns that her child is alive she renounces all of her hatred shouting how she "loves the egyptians".
Victor Hugo gives this an interesting twist in Les Misérables, though, where Inspector Javert is heavily implied to be of Gypsy stock: his mother is a fortune teller, and depending on the translation his people are described as "Bohemian", "vagrant" etc.. In a complete reversal of the Gypsy stereotype, Javert is fanatically devoted to upholding law and order, and won't lie even when the consequences include being executed by angry revolutionaries. However, since he hates his race, this may have been deliberate.
The Gyptians are Roma/Gypies with Alternate Etymology in His Dark Materials. They are still portrayed in an archaic and "mysterious" way, but they are at least pretty damn heroic and invaluable allies of Lyra.
They're a slight variant in that rather than having caravans they live in barges on the East Anglian Fens, and seem to have a strong Dutch influence in their language. It can be speculated that in the setting's Alternate History for whatever reason they moved from the Netherlands to settle in East Anglia; in real life a lot of Dutch people did migrate there.
Alternatively, they moved to the water to become a seafaring culture.
A strong example of heroic, subversive gypsies are the Rovers in Terry Brooks' Shannara series. Rovers are mysterious and definitely play by their own roguish rules, but they're as likely to be heroic as opposed to the heroes, make fantastic scouts, traders, sailors, and rogues, and dominate the eventual airship trade with their bravery and acumen.
Piers Anthony's Romani are often magical, and are portrayed as lively dancers.
Henry Fielding's Tom Jones has an incident with gypsies being presented as a utopian community.
A Trope Maker here were the novels of gothic literature, in particular Dracula, which portrayed several different Eastern-European ethnic groups as 'gypsies', including Dracula's Szgany henchman, against whom the final battle of the book is fought.
The Romani character Melquíades is also the local Great Gazoo.
Gypsies are briefly mentioned in the Discworld novel Equal Rites. A town-based witch is worried they might kidnap Esk. Granny Weatherwax, who knows a bit about gypsies, finds this unlikely. (Don't ask what the Discworld origin of the word "gypsy" is by the way, since their Egypt is called Djelibeybi.) Twist: They absolutely can't lie.
The people who cannot lie (actually, some can, but it's a unique and respected skill among them) are called Zoons and live in barges. Maybe calling them gypsies earlier was a Translation Convention. Or maybe the Disc has gypsies and Zoons.
Considering that the word "photographer" on the Disc derives from a Latatian term for "one who prances around ordering people about", the etymology probably has more to do with gag references than geographic origin.
The Tiffany Aching books feature widely distrusted nomads who wander from town to town in horse-drawn wagons. The twist? They're teachers, going from poor village to poor village trying to find people who really WANT to learn and to give them the opportunity to take a class or two, generally in exchange for food or other objects of barter. There's even a Discworld witchfinder—that is, a witch who tries to locate other witches so that they can be properly trained—who works as a nomadic teacher.
Making Money reveals that traveling bands of accountants make their living in the same way.
There's a gypsy caravan in Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones, who travel between different worlds.
In Isobelle Carmody's The Obernewtyn Chronicles, the heroine travels with a gypsy caravan for a while and becomes good friends with some of them. They're not Roma, though, they're descendants of a group of psychics who took up the lifestyle after the End of the World as We Know It, and are mostly of African descent.
Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Legacy novels have a semi-historical fantasy setting featuring the Roma-analogues the Tsingani (which is the Russian word for "Gypsies"), or "Travellers". They're pretty stereotypical gypsies (bright clothes, dancing, champion horse-breeders, stealing from the non-Travellers, and some Tsingani women can see the future) but the way they're treated is at least mentioned. Hyacinthe, the most important Tsingani character met in the first book (who's actually only half-Tsingani), actively plays on the stereotypical depictions of his people to promote his mother's fortune-telling business (as well as his own) and to become a fixer and owner of a horse stable.
There's the gypsy clan in Stephen King's Thinner. One of them knows magic and curses the main character after the latter became responsible for his daughter's death.
The Wheel of Time series has a culture of 'Tinkers', which is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Roma, right down to being unfairly distrusted as thieves by other cultures. The key difference is the addition of pacifism.
The family of the hero Kvothe from The Name of the Wind is a band of Edema Ruh, traveling entertainers with a somewhat unsavory (and mostly unearned) reputation.
In Oscar Wilde's The Canterville Ghost, a Gypsy caravan is suspected when a teenaged girl goes missing. They're completely innocent of any wrongdoing, however, and join in the search for her.
Similarly, 'gipsies' are suspected of complicity in the sudden death of a young woman in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's ''The Adventure of the Speckled Band', but Sherlock Holmes proves they had nothing to do with it; it was her stepfather. (The Red Herring is the assumption that the Speckled Band of the title is a gypsy neckerchief.)
Local gypsy bands were among the suspects whom the police speculated might've made off with Silver Blaze in another case, but Holmes correctly pointed out that they'd have had no motive for taking such a recognizable racehorse even if he'd wandered into their camp.
The Ryn of Star Wars's EU are basically this trope in - oh, guess. They have all the trappings - live in roaming caravans (of spaceships, no less), run fortune-telling games (though they might be on to something), and are generally used as punchingbags by the rest of everybody. This is the same 'Verse that spawned Han Solo, though, so they get a sympathetic portrayal, with family loyalty and ingenuity high on their list of traits. Also have a top-notch spy network, run on gossip. And their patchworkfleetcomes throughawesomely in one of the later NJO novels.
Sophia from the Cal Leandros series is a particularly virulent example.
Abelia-Roo and the Sarzo Clan aren't much better.
It is noteworthy that Niko and Cal Leandros, the protagonists of the series, are full Rom and half-Rom, respectively. However, neither brother is accepted by their mother's clan, the Vayash, because Sophia accepted money not only to have the child of an abomination, but to have a child who would—inevitably—be half-gadje (half-non-Roma). Cal is an insult to Roma tradition by his very existence. Both brothers are subversions of Rom stereotypes: they have an apartment in New York, they drive cars rather than caravans, Niko works as a teacher's assistant at a college and as a dojo instructor while Cal is a bartender (and both of them work as bodyguards and investigators), and all in all, they're pretty thoroughly immersed in typical tech-savvy life in their version of alternate modern-day America.
The Thieves' World stories have the S'Danzo as Fantasy Counterpart Culture. They are very traditional, men are known to sometimes invoke curses on those who seriously annoy them, many women live on fortune-telling using Tarot-like cards and some are very good in this. A major difference is that the S'Danzo community we read most about are not nomads, but settled in the city of Sanctuary.
Something similar happens in Holes. Madame Zeroni fits the "Gypsie Fortune Teller" archetype, but she's explicitly said to be an actual Egyptian, or at least North African, rather than Romany stock.
She also allegedly curses Stanley's ancestor (it's a bit ambiguous if there really is a curse or if the family just has horrid luck), but it's somewhat sympathetic, because said ancestor was an idiot who forgot to perform the simple task of carrying her up a mountain and letting her drink from a stream in exchange for her help. It's implied that her curse is broken when the conditions are fulfilled and Stanley carries her descendent up a mountain to drink from a stream.
Katarina Taikon's "Katitzi" book series were based on the author's own WWII wartime Romani upbringing.
Rudyard Kipling wrote two poems about nomadic life as the pinnacle of freedom, The Gipsy Trail on romantic end and Gypsy Vans on acerbic (he had a habit of supplying "one view of the question" most Europeans prefered to omit).
In Brian Jacques' Redwall series, foxes are stereotyped as sly, deceitful, vaguely magical tricksters and all-around Manipulative Bastard types - many are fortunetellers with fashion choices seeming to prefer brightly colored skirts and headscarves, and bangles. Seeing as certain animal species are Always Chaotic Evil, this leads to a number of Unfortunate Implications. However, unlike other stereotypical gypsies, foxes usually appear as advisors to the various evil warlords that try to conquer Redwall or Salamandastron, rather than wandering thieving bands. Not that that depiction is any better, mind you.
On the lighter side of things, the Guosim are a roving community of shrews in Mossflower, actually referred to as gypsies once or twice. They wear brightly colored clothing and move around a lot, but they are regarded as trustworthy and invaluable allies to the woodlanders.
In Kenneth Oppel's Airborn series, there is Nadira, who is harassed in 1910 Paris for being a "gypsy." She irritably replies "I'm a Roma."
A humorous short story by R.A. Lafferty called "Land of the Great Horses" pretends that the Romani were nomadic because extraterrestrials took their homeland (ripped it loose, apparently, right down to the bedrock) for geological examination, instilling a compulsion to wander so they wouldn't settle anywhere else. When the aliens bring the land back in the late 20th Century, everyone with a significant degree of Romani blood feels impelled to return to India. An epilogue reveals that the extraterrestrials sampled Los Angeles next.
In Edith Layton's Gypsy Lover the bastard son of a gypsy and a noblewoman tries to save his foster father.
The children's book The Family Under the Bridge, set in mid-twentieth-century Paris, depicts the "gypsy" population in a stereotypical but sympathetic manner, as part of a larger urban underworld — for instance, they're shown to steal at times, but stealing in general is treated as an inevitable result of poverty, and they're generous to their friends outside the immediate community. They more or less fulfill the "colorful vagrant" stereotype, and there's at least one fortune teller and a lot of tinkers.
A more popular example would be Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, in which Heathcliff, the moody and sometimes violent Byronic Hero, is described in a few instances as "gipsy" or "dark boy" in an insulting manner.
In The Shadow novel "Malmordo" the villain uses prejudice against "Gypsies" to frame them as accomplices in his crimes. The Romani we meet in the story are actually pretty law-abiding sorts, although they play to the fortune-telling and violinist stereotypes to make a living. The Shadow himself speaks fluent Romani.
Based on the final line in The Egypt Game, "what do you know about gypsies?", Zilpha Keatley Snyder wrote a sequel some thirty years later, The Gypsy Game. It's a lukewarm plotline at best, at the end of which the kids decide to abandon childish fantasies in favor of doing "real" work to help others. The one excellent thing about this story is that the children find out, almost incidentally, what happened to the real Romany and why playing "gypsies" is not a cool idea.
The second and third books in Toni Andrews's Mercy Hollings series make references to Romani culture. Andrews shows that she has done some research on the Romani and makes a distinction between actual Romani people and a mysterious fictional possibly not-quite-human people called "the others" who are not of Romani descent, but possess genuine psychic powers and have tried to conceal their identities by masquerading as fortune tellers and even traveling with Romani tribes in the past.
The science fiction novel Star of the Gypsies.
In The Last Rune novels, the Mournish are clearly a Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of the Roma. Heck, when one of them comes to Earth and needs to blend in, Travis decides calling them a gypsy is the best way to explain their ethnicity. For added Genius Bonus, the Mournish originally came from Morindu, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of ancient Egypt, tying in with the Medieval belief that the Roma were of Egyptian origin.
Charles De Lint's urban fantasy/horror Mulengro is set among Modern Roma in Canada who appear to be very well researched and portrayed. Many Romani words are used (mulengro is Romani for "ghost man".)
In the Skyrider series, Romani are heavily represented in the population of the Asteroid Belt; it's suggested that they found the lifestyle appealing. Skyrider herself tends to call them Gypsies, but she at least knows the term Romani, and knows a little of the language, which itself has become a large contributor to Belter pidgin.
The mystery novel Through the Eyes of the Dead involves some Romani families living in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the protagonist ends up needing to learn quite a bit about Romani culture in order to proceed with her investigation.
Dracula's minions are gypsies, but it's also explained that they signed onto the house, and are serving him to honor their oath. So they're evil......because they're loyal.
Late novels in the Liaden Universe feature Romani…In Space: The kompani, introduced in Necessity's Child and the short story "Eleutherios", are a band of secretive travelers who keep to themselves, have mystical powers, tell fortunes with decks of cards, have extremely good technological artificing skills, and disdain/steal from most outsiders.
In Steve Berry's The Third Secret, tough reporter Katerina Lew is a Transylvanian who is part Roma. Her origins and the tragic fate of her Roma grandparents under Ceaucescu are described in detail. She was on the front lines in [[en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanian_Revolution_of_1989 the 1989 revolution]] and at one point recounts her part in the protests at the December 21 speech.
Live Action TV
House has a Romani patient-of-the-week who gets the opportunity from Foreman to study medicine, but he decides to return to his family instead. The show refrains from judgment, showing the man surrounded by a large family while Foreman returns to home to eat alone and read scientific journals.
On the Finnish program Manne TV (the Finnish equivalent of "Gippo TV"), Romani would poke fun at the stereotypes associated with themselves, though most people didn't really see it that way. However, they had a Crowning Moment of Awesome when they got Eugene Hutz from Gogol Bordello to appear on the show to express support for the show and its agenda.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Jenny's left Romani culture, but her uncle is pretty much the stereotype. Oh, and they were responsible for Angel's curse. Which, on the other hand, did change
Don't forget "The Gypsies are a disgusting people, we will speak of them no more *Spits* " of course that episode was a Breather Episode before the grand finale.
On the plus side, Joss did a decent amount of research - the Kalderash are in fact a major Romani clan.
There was an episode of Judging Amy that showed Romani children being sexually exploited because they began courtship as early as 10. It wasn't presenting it as fiction, either. The entire episode felt like a PSA, telling us that the courts can't do anything about it, but every red-blooded American should. They played up the squick factor by interspacing pictures of real mistreated girls right before and after each commercial break.
There were several Telenovelas featuring or starring Romani characters. Venezuelan Kassandra has been the most popular of those, although allegedly the author didn't do the research there. Not that the others fared better...
In Argentina, Zíngara and Soy gitano also relied mainly in stereotypes and was openly despised by the real Roma.
Let's not forget Romaní in Chile, where the writers did some more research but the Romani also weren't amused.
Amor Gitano is an interesting case. The Romani characters were all good. The villains were all nobility. But then, this is an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo.
An episode of Without A Trace had a clan of gypsy (the word "Rom" was nowhere to be heard) con artists involved in a kidnapping. With Tarot, and wandering, and insular secretiveness.
The 10th Kingdom had Roma, they were friendly and hospitable although wolf warned the others two rules: 1) Don't eat anything you haven't seen them eating, 2) Never refuse anything, this rule basically meant Tony had to do some really embarrassing singing. They also fit the Gypsy Curse trope but they hardly unprovoked and magic isn't uncommon in The 10th Kingdom
Charmed had an episode that revealed Romani shared the same bloodlines as most witches, and centered on a young Romani medical student trying to access her ancestral magic to put the stomp on the Monster of the Week. So, less conman stereotypes, more European Magical Native American.
The Criminal Minds episode "Bloodline" centered around a clan of Romani who slaughtered families and take the daughters as brides for their pubescent sons; they also did their share of shoplifting and car theft. Although It's pointed out by Agent Rossi that these people are following a bastardized version of Romani culture.
In one episode of The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne, there's a camp of gypsies around an old abbey that are suspected of being involved in the episode's events. They are, but they're not gypsies: They're Prussians in disguise.
Barney Miller had an episode in which an elderly Rom was caught vandalizing and otherwise harassing a joke and novelty shop owner. He spraypainted the word "murderer" in Romany on the side of the building. Turned out the shop owner was a former officer of the guard at Birkenau, and the old man was one of the few survivors. Det. Harris gave a summary of the Romani Liquidation.
An episode of Murdoch Mysteries has a Romany camp implicated in a robbery, and Inspector Brackenreid pressurised into arresting them by the backers of his mayoral campaign. It turned out to be the son of his main contributer, and Brackenreid quit the mayoral race in disgust when he threatened to withdraw his support if his son was arrested. The main representative of the Roma was a woman who had a sort of resigned amusement when Brackenreid asked if she was Queen of the Gypsies, sarcastically asking if he was King of the Police. On the other hand, she also put a Gypsy Curse on him, but with a slight suggestion she was deliberately playing to the stereotype.
Duncan was with the Roma for a while on Highlander. The girl he was interested in got angry and falsely accused him of rape, which got everyone else upset. It was fortold he'd "bury many women but marry none". Endgame, of course, puts a kink in that, but continuity isn't this fandom's strong point.
The Finder two of the main characters are Roma and one is half. They're portrayed as a large, close-knit, and patriarchal family with a penchant for scams from bogus mystical to internet fraud. The main pair are trying to figure out how to avoid an arranged marriage.
The stereotypical fortune telling Gypsies showed up on Dragnet a time or two.
Hemlock Grove has a small group of Romani as characters, and decides to go the "mystically aware" route. Peter's a werewolf, his cousin Destiny is a sorceress, and his clan knows more than a few things about vampires and other things in the night.
The Gipsy Trail by Rudyard Kipling in a loose Russian translation and complemented with music (by Andrei Petrov) was used in a Soviet classic film "A Cruel Romance". The song immediately became a big hit on its own right. The movie itself got five export releases.
"Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" by Cher, which may or may not be about actual Romany.
Donovan's songs are full of references to gypsies, especially to his friend "Gypsy Dave" Mills. Mills is blood, by Dono's description, and he has other Romany and Irish Traveler friends.
Gypsy Kings anyone?
The traditional British folk ballad "The Gypsie Laddie" tells the story of a Romani who seduces a gentlewoman. A lord pursues her, either her husband or father, but she refuses to return with him, preferring the company of her gypsy lover to the comforts of her estate. The song has many different variations and titles.
Celtic/Filk musician Heather Alexander, and her Heir, Alexander James Adams, have a few songs that play off "The Gypsy Laddie": "Black Jack Davy" and "The Rogues Return" supposedly tell the "real" tale about how the gypsy lad leaves the noble woman the next day to run off, and she pursues him to get revenge as The Black Jacks Lady.
In Jennifer Lopez's video for "Ain't it Funny" she makes friends with some Romani women and meets and dances with a very handsome Romani man.
There was a book written for the line that had Gypsies who embodied the 19th century stereotypes — mysterious, sneaky — living in the 21st century. Oh, and it had a statistic that represented "Blood Purity." Players, and indeed, writers tried to forget about that one. It even got a Discontinuity Nod in a later edition, which omitted the Gypsy book and mentioned that inaccurate information about Gypsies can be found in RPGs.
Worse, they also had early rules for creating Hunter characters who focused on particular kinds of supernatural beings. Since the Gypsy book classed them as a supernatural type, you could create a character who hunted and killed Gypsies. Er.
Similarly, there were the Ravnos from Vampire The Masquerade. Their origins were tied to India and the Roma, their unique Discipline gave them the power to craft illusions... and their clan flaw made it so they had to roll to resist engaging in the criminal activity of their choice. Yeah... Rumor has it the ham-fisted portrayal of Romani culture is why most of the clan was killed off by the time of Revised (their Antediluvian rose first, got put down, and drove most of the clan to madness and death during the intervening period), which would explain why the ones who survived were given more of a "twisted Hindu mythology" focus when the Revised Ravnos Clanbook came out.
Also, Werewolf The Apocalypse has the Silent Striders, who are Egyptian necromancers/travelers with ties to the Roma. It would seem the writers missed the memo that "Gypsies" aren't really Egyptian. The Revised tribebook corrected those errors, specifically mentioning the Striders ended up mixing with the Romani a fair bit due to their nomadic nature, but also says that if a young werewolf meets a Gypsy-style Romani all dressed up, playing a violin and offering to read their palm, it's probably a ragabash playing a joke on them.
The Roamers in the Blue Rose RPG are Gypsies of the "brightly coloured caravans and fortune tellers" kind. Their name is a pun on Romani as well as being descriptive of their lifestyle.
Likewise, the Roamers of Sufficiently Advanced are the same idea Recycled In Space, albeit with full access to the (well) sufficiently advanced technology of the setting.
Ravenloft had the Vistani, whose writers (thankfully), go out their way to avoid stereotypes about the Roma - they're mysterious and mystical and apt to throw curses, but they aren't inherently better or worse than any other person. Too bad the other citizens of Ravenloft haven't gotten the memo - much like real Roma, they get a lot of bad press (which isn't to say some don't deserve it, but the vast majority of them don't). This depiction might be less offensive than in other media, since nearly EVERYone in the D&D world has access to mystic powers and has magic users living among them. Third edition's Expedition to Castle Ravenloft transforms the Vistani from an ethnic group into simply a communal subculture by including halfling as well as human Vistani.
The Vistani do seem to have some inborn magical talents that few humans in Ravenloft do, but that probably seemed more startling before 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons introduced the Sorcerer class.
Spelljammer had the Aperusa. Usually in roles of harmless entertainers, salvage scavengers, petty thieves or scammers, or at most not-too-brave Lovable Rogue. They even travel on unarmed (and patchwork) ships. On the exotic side, they're slightly magic-resistant and immune to mind-reading, but can't have Psychic Powers.
Pathfinder has the Varisian culture. They can be found nearly everywhere, have the usual negative stereotypes by the rest of the humans on Golarion, and the iconic Sorcerer character is one—interestingly she manages to be hot but doesn't quite follow the Hot Gypsy Woman trope (other Varisian depictions do, however).
They've also settled in Varisia and Ustalav, the latter of which is Überwald to a T, and read Harrow cards.
When 3E went out of its way to "de-Tolkienize" the halfling race, making them less insular and more adventurous, their default culture took on a few Romani-like characteristics.
In Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor (a Monsters And Other Childish Things supplement) the Romani are the brightly colored, nomadic, musical type. Given the intentionally vague faux-30s time frame of the game, this may be a bit more forgivable. Notably, they're actually much more honest than the norm for the setting — although they have the same intentionally ill-defined "Dreadful Secrets" as anyone else and an air of mystery, both the local Romani colony in general and the two characters specifically provided are generally likable, although one's a bitter and hot-headed youth, and the other's mysterious. Also notably, they're specifically mentioned to speak perfect English, unless faking bad English serves them better for hiding some of their secrets — we didn't say they were totally honest, just better than the usual level of corruption and nastiness that most of the other characters and groups show.
Warhammer has the rarely mentioned Strigany, best known for being henchmen to vampires.
In Ancient Blood, told from the perspective of the Strigany, is about them trying to escape from a bigoted Elector Count who is trying to wipe them out. They are described as 'Eaters of Death', as when the people of a viliage die of plague the Strigany enter the village to bury the dead and take any valuables.
Those elders that do know of the vampires tend to avoid them though. One wished that the vampires could be forgotten.
The Doomstones campaign also had regular gypsies, pretty much fitting the trope.
Eclipse Phase has the Scumborn, who can be described (in the loosest of terms) as gypsies IN SPACE, or at least as cultural analogues. Subverted slightly in that the Scum are very difficult to define in general terms since the only things you need to claim the name are a nomadic lifestyle on the edges of the solar system, and a "fuck propriety" attitude. Also, Scum actually is what they call themselves— they adopted the name everyone else was already using to describe them as a way of flipping everyone else the metaphorical bird.
Buck Rogers in the XXVth Century had the Desert Dancers of Mercury, who were clearly based on the Gypsy stereotype.
Bats in Ironclaw have overtones of being a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to the Romani — frequently nomadic, subject to racism, supposed ties to vampires (they have a reputation for being vampires, in this case), etc.
Everway supplement Spherewalker Sourcebook. The Basahn are clearly Everway's version of the Roma. They have light olive skin and dark hair, they travel as families (often in caravans), they speak their own language (called Basahni) and they have a reputation as cheats and liars and face fear, hatred and distrust wherever they go.
R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk supplement NeoTribes. The Nomads are those who took to the open road after the Collapse (of U.S. society). Over time they took on a number of stereotypical Romani traits because of their situation. They are hated, feared, distrusted and misunderstood by "statics" (those who don't travel around), they're divided up into clans, and two ways they make money are criminal acts (including con games and theft) and entertaining the "statics" with carnivals. The Romani themselves are one of the major components of Nomad culture, and the other Nomads have adopted many of their ways.
Dark Designs, adventure "Eyes for the Blind". The people who run Ferencz' Fair are gypsies who follow the standard stereotype. The text notes that they are also called "Romanies".
The Fungi from Yuggoth campaign, section "Castle Dark". The PCs can encounter a GypsyFortune Teller and her son. The woman attempts a reading using Tarot cards but it foretells only death and disaster for the PCs.
Arcanum RPG, which takes place in the prehistoric Earth after the fall of Atlantis. The Lexicon supplement says that Roms from the nation of Oggia are a wandering tribe of gypsy nomads. They are a dark-skinned, dark-haired people who are fond of brightly colored clothes and jewelry. They travel throughout Mediterranea in painted wagons. They sometimes enter the borders of the Black Forest in search of magical herbs.
The Romani are quite prominent in Brand by Henrik Ibsen, and it is clearly stated that the Character Gerd is one of them. The harsh way they are treated by the lawmen in the play indirectly causes the death of Agnes, the wife of the eponymous character.
The Quarians in Mass Effect are Gypsies In Space!. They may be closer to actual Gypsies than most other media portrayals of Gypsies. They are only trying to survive, but they piss off a lot of people by dumping their criminals on random planets and stealing their natural resources.
The Khajiit are a race of feline humanoids from The Elder Scrolls. They are known to travel around in caravans and there are many stereotypes surrounding them painting them as thieves and Skooma dealers. In Skyrim, Khajiit caravans are forbidden from entering city walls because of this sort of prejudice.
Nathan Zachary, the Sky Pirate player character from Crimson Skies, has Gypsy ancestry and the default name of his personal fighter plane reflects this.
Fable II has the hero(ine) raised in a Gypsy caravan after their big sister dies at the end of the childhood segment. The Romani themselves are realistically skin-toned, good people making a normal living; the one who tells fortunes and is mystical is Theresa.
Raz, the protagonist of Psychonauts is apparently of Gypsy descent. He also states that a family of psychic gypsies cursed his family to die in water, justifying his Super Drowning Skills.
Rouge, of Power Stone. Although she comes from the Fantasy Counterpart Culture country of Mahdad rather than Earth, she basically fits the "sexy mysterious fortune-telling dancing girl" stereotype of most Romani girls.
Gypsies live on the outskirts of several major towns and cities in Arcanum. They sell magical items and will identify items the player owns for a small fee.
Rose from Street Fighter. The game acknowledges that she's a roma, and actually plays this trope Anviliciously straight... making her probably the most cliche gypsy in the history of videogames (and beyond). But then, for some reason, they insist on her being an Italian girl. Yes, the woman lives in Genoa, but she doesn't have Italian heritage, nor an Italian name... and she also shows keeping her traditions, and the language (and accent) of her people.
Rose is Italian, and a fortune teller - that is all the games themselves suggest, and therefore the only cannon information. The above largely comes from the Expanded Universe of the Udon comics, where Rose is suggested to be an actual Roma, playing this trope straight — but this is not Word Of God. Word Of God speaking, she's definitely Italian but just happens to be a fortune teller too, which is of course possible.
Dahna of Grandia III is pretty much a running checklist of Gypsy cliches. Singsong accent, tells fortunes, lives in a desert caravan, wears sexy outfits, kills people with magic and tarot cards...
Koudelka Iasant of the Shadow Hearts franchise, primarily her self-titled prequel game, but she figures into the latter games, too by being the source of Yuri's mysterious voice which guides him around, as well as being Halley's mother.
In Assassins Creed Revelations, Romani musicians can be hired to play music and dance, creating a disraction for the protagonist, Ezio Auditore.
The ridiculousness of the stereotypes of Romani is parodied in Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse, with the Moles being a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Type 2 Gypsies. Sam and Max are confused by how, amongst other things, the fortune-teller mole speaks in a ridiculous accent, but not the rest of her family.
In Majora's Mask, a character is actually named "Romani", although she herself does not seem to be related to them. (It's the name of the ranch). Interestingly, she is heavily based off of/the alternate universe version of a girl from Ocarina of Time who was implied to be the daughter of the Gerudo, who do fit some gypsy stereotypes (thieves, some magic powers, desert-dwelling, and in some games, nomadic).
Freesia York from Valkyria Chronicles fits the stereotype as she is described as a desert nomad who works as a belly dancer before she joined the Gallian militia.
Suikoden II introduced us the two circus sisters, Eilie and Rina (and their 'big bro' Bolgan). They live in a wandering, nomadic style, and both sisters are considered Ms. Fanservice thanks to their outfits. Rina fits more due to her fortune-telling skills and skills of seducing other men.
A troupe of travelling Roma musicians appear in a case of the online game Blackwood and Bell Mysteries, as the group investigates a mysterious plague that affects a Romanian village. They're the culprits... not.
Anja Donlan from Gunnerkrigg Court is a Rom. She has impressive magic abilities, while her husband (who's a Scotsman) is Gadgeteer Genius, though she's also tech-savvy enough to be a science teacher and he somehow got an Amplifier Artifact he gave her. Together, they found the common ground quickly enough and made a "computer" that runs on magic and provides a lot of useful effects. Evidently, she also has some skill with tattoo. Their daughter Kat took entirely after her father, and so far has no magic. Instead, she's a gadgeteer prodigy who invents antigravity and builds robots in her spare time, and still doesn't believe in magic despite her best friend's very obvious magic powers.
One of Llewellyn's ancestors falls in with 'Gypsies' in a short Ozy And Millie arc, and his falling out is used as an explanation of Ozy's fur always falling out at some point. Notably, the Rom he meets plays up the stereotype for a living, and the 'curse' she gives to his family (how many dragons have hair?) ends up redundant once you get to know Millie.
This is related to the Roma... but a little hard to classify. Not sure where synthesizers and robotic horses fit into any of the usual portrayals.
Gypsy of the Whateley Universe. That's the codename she chose. But she's Romani and even has an ancestral Tarot deck. However, she is shy (at first), honest, and has mutant powers. She cures the shyness with a literal Deal with the Devil.
A few times on The Simpsons, though at least that show was in the habit of making fun of everyone.
On one Treehouse of Horror episode, a gypsy fortune-teller places a curse on the Simpsons after Homer ruins her business (and expresses a fear of police), and later in the episode the rest of her family seems to match up with the "filthy, hairy transient" stereotype, as Marge comments.
In another episode, Gypsies have take over the playground of Springfield Elementary, and are seen stealing a frisbee from a small child.
Milhouse once claimed to be a gypsy so he'd be allowed to wear an earring at school. He doesn't succeed, effecting the wrong stereotype, but Skinner notes that vampires are also exempt.
Courage the Cowardly Dog: Shirley the Fortune Teller (chihuahua). While she can occasionally act as an antagonist, this is either due to "the Stupid One" (read "Eustace") invoking her wrath, or circumstances beyond her control. She is often willing to help... for a fee. Her magical tool of choice? A saxophone.
"I see... I see... A yo-yo. It is under de sofa."
Scooby-Doo Where Are You episode "A Gaggle of Galloping Ghosts". The gang meets a Gypsy Fortune Teller who gives them dire warnings. She turns out to be the episode's villain in disguise.
In Teen Titans Cyborg explains that he bought a pie with an evil witch trapped inside it from "this old gypsy" who was selling "mystical items at reasonable prices", including a monkey's paw.
Inspector Gadget had an episode that focused on gypsies. They were portrayed as living exclusively in caravans and being very festive.
X-factor contestant and singer Cher Lloyd is of Romani descent and travelled as a young child. She was bullied by classmates at school, who called her a "pikey", and was recently attacked on Twitter, prejudice against Romani is still very common.
When asked by a Nazi if he was Aryan, J. R. R. Tolkien wrote a stinging reply (never sent, on the advice of his publisher) pointing out that the term is properly applied to Indo-Iranians, which includes Romani. This was quite a smack in the face to the Nazis, who were almost as prejudiced against Romani as they were against Jews.
Incidentally, this is the same letter where, after his long, snarkily pedantic explanation of what it really means to be "Aryan", he stated:
Ironically, Tolkien was what Nazis would call "Aryan." His ancestors in the male line were from 18th-century Lower Saxony, and the rest of his ancestors were English through and through. He actually pointed this out in the aforementioned unsent letter right after the bit about regretting not being Jewish.
Legendary actor Charlie Chaplin was of Romani descent on his mother's side.
At one time, being "stolen by gypsies" was not a joke, but something that could actually happen. Attractive little girls who either had rich parents to ransom them, or could look like a Heartwarming Orphan to get sympathy when begging, were often the target. The massive hunt for Elsie Paroubek in the spring of 1911 centered on Irish Traveler camps not just because of anti-Gypsy hatred, but because other children really had been kidnapped by them and later recovered.
In northern Europe, romani have been subdivided into several groups, all after when they arrived on the national scene. The oldest of the travelling groups, traditionally called romani, is also known as tater or tattare (Norway and Sweden respectively), or fant (a term coined in the nineteenth century). This last word could actually mean any straggler who didn`t have a home. The tater made up a subclass of day-laborers, tinkers, carpenters and so on, and could also resort to different sorts of petty crimes, when not actually trading. They were known for trading with horses, and also taken to be somewhat unreliable, to the point that "horse trade" still has an odious meaning in Norway. As time went by, the states used several methods to contain them, not all of them good.
The real gypsies arrived later, with another branch of the same language, and their own way of living. They are referred to as rom, while the older strain is called romani.