Theriocephalus on Sep 17th 2017 at 2:27:03 PM
Last Edited By:
pyroclastic on Sep 24th 2017 at 9:17:02 AM
Page Type: trope
This is a very specific type of Plant Person, usually found in High Fantasy worlds, resembling humanoid trees (often nondescript deciduous trees, but more specific or exotic types show up from time to time). They're typically very long-lived if not immortal, and if so will often be portrayed as very old and wise. You can expect them to be big, too — they'll usually be the same size as giants, when both races exist in the same setting. These kind of beings will often be incredibly strong, or have a Green Thumb that gives them the ability to control regular plants.
More often than not, their first and foremost concern will be protecting and caring for their home forests. As a result, indiscriminate logging and exploitation of nature (and, if the setting has it, pollution) will be the most surefire way to arouse their anger — and their anger is a thing to be feared. Outside of that, they're typically uninterested in what goes on outside their forest homes, although they may be on good terms with any local elves or fairies.
Depending on the work, they can be either a natural and self-sustaining race, regular trees that are "awoken" or transformed into humanoid creatures, or a mixture of the two.
Historically, they're based on Tolkien's Ents, which may also be the reason they don't show up in fiction as often as Tolkien's other races — since Tolkien straight up invented them instead of borrowing from mythology, his estate has a much stronger copyright claim than it does to his other races, which can explain both why they never gained the universality of elves or dwarves and why few are actually called Ents, with more lawyer-friendly names such as Treemen, Treefolk and Treants ("tree" plus "giant") being used instead.
- Magic: The Gathering: Treefolk are a staple type of large Green creatures. For the most part fairly standard examples, they usually appear as reclusive forest dwellers and wardens of the wild, often on good terms with the local elves. Some planes have their own variations.
- In Lorwyn, the treefolk are the most ancient and long-lived of the intelligent races, and are viewed with great respect by their younger neighbors. They reproduce by spreading large amounts of seeds that grow into regular trees, some of which eventually awaken into new treefolk. They also differ in size, physical and magical abilities and role in treefolk society based on the species of tree they resemble — for instance, oak treefolk are the largest and strongest of their kind, black poplars are healers and rowans are magicians.
- In Lorwyn's dark mirror Shadowmoor, the treefolk become warped, skeletal mockeries of their old selves, often only barely humanoid and highly aggressive towards other beings.
- In the Gothic Horror-inspired plane of Innistrad, most treefolk creatures are nothing like humanoid, appearing as little more than aggressive, mobile trees with woody, fanged slashes for mouths, but traditionally humanoid treefolk show up the Shadows over Innistrad block. Regardless of their form, some bits of flavor imply they're technically trees possessed by spirits. Innistrad is also home to the only spirit treefolk in the game so far, Yew Spirit.
- Guardians of the Galaxy: Groot is a rare science fiction example of this trope, appearing as a towering, plant-like humanoid alien chiefly composed of wood. A bit of a borderline case, as he doesn't share many traits associated with this trope such as an association with forests, although he does posses some degree of control over plant life.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Trope Maker. In-universe, the Ents were explicitly created by the nature goddess Yavanna to protect the wilderness from the axes of civilization (and to keep the trees from becoming homicidal). They have an odd sort of immortality: they don't age and live more or less forever, but over time become stiffer, sleepier and more "treeish", rooting themselves and not stirring for increasingly long periods, eventually becoming indistinguishable from normal trees. They still live extremely long before this happens, giving them a very patient and long-term view on things: they consider reaching a decision after three days of continuous debate almost unseemly hasty.
- In a mild case of Unbuilt Trope, they have a number of characteristics later imitations lack, such as a highly variable numbers of fingers and toes and a form of gender dimorphism: male Ents live in deep forests and guard nature like later examples, but the women, the Entwives, favor agriculture and farmlands and resemble various crops and domestic trees, and were the ones who taught agriculture to early Men.
- There is also some debate about their appearance — while the Peter Jackson movies popularized the "humanoid tree" image, in Tolkien's writing they're more humanoid, generally being described as giant- or troll-like beings who come to resemble trees as they age. In fact, the word "ent" is derived from an Old English word meaning "giant", and is linguistically related to ettin and jotunn. However, they are stated elsewhere in Tolkien's writings to have originated as sprits that entered the world by inhabiting or mimicking trees, giving more support to an interpretation of them as literal humanoid trees.
- There are also the Huorns, which are creatures that start out as normal trees and gradually "wake up" in a sort of reverse process to the Ents growing treeish, growing more mobile and aware. They're just as protective of their forests and distrustful of intruders as true Ents, but can be much more malevolent and dangerous. A part of the Ents' job is to corral and calm the Huorns and keep them from becoming too much of a danger to others, hence the Ents being also know as the Shepherds of the Trees.
- The Fighting Trees from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are a take on this that predates most well-known uses: they precede Tokien's Ents by five and a half decades or so, and resemble trees with human-like faces and arm-like branches that attack intruders by grabbing them or throwing their own fruit at them. While they don't have the ambulatory nature of later treants, they still share their dislike for interlopers in their woods — their purpose seems to be to keep intruders from entering the enchanted forest behind them, as Dorothy and her group find out when they try to enter it and the trees attack them.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Pathfinder has Treants straight out of the Tolkien mold, with an extremely long-winded language, the ability to animate and control trees and gatherings called moots that can last for months. They also grow from acorns the size of a human head. There's a tropical variant called the tobongo, which lives in jungles and can turn people into trees.
- Warhammer: The Treemen are the mightiest inhabitants of Athel Loren, formed when powerful spirits merge with living trees. Incredibly powerful and ancient, they command great respect from lesser forest spirits and the Wood Elves alike, and are rightfully feared by those outsiders who don't think they're myths or long extinct. They also inhabited Athel Loren long before the Wood Elves and are quite xenophobic, to the point that many see the Wood Elves, who have inhabited and defended the forest alongside the Treemen for millennia, as unwanted interlopers, and want them out of their woods.
- Age of Wonders: The Treeman appears as a unit for the Elves in Shadow Magic. It gets concealment, which means that if this wall-crushing behemoth stands in a forest, foes will not see it until it's one step away.
- Battle for Wesnoth: Woses, large humanoid trees allied with the elves and thought to be wardens of nature. Their ambush skill also makes them effectively invisible in woodlands.
- Don't Starve: If a player chops down too many evergreen trees, there's a chance of a nearby evergreen turning into a Treeguard, a powerful monster resembling a humanoid pine that will try to kill the player unless pacified by planting pinecones. The Shipwrecked DLC adds Palm Treeguards, which resemble a cluster of palm leaves with a face and arms mounted on two trunks serving as legs. They spawn when palm trees are cut down and are pacified by planting coconuts.
- League of Legends:
- Mo' Creatures: This Minecraft mod includes ents in the form of giant, humanoid birch or oak trees. They can create clusters of grass, ferns, saplings, mushrooms or flowers and don't take damage from any weapon but axes. Oak ents have hollow boles in their legs with the eyes of small creatures peering out.
- Pokémon: Trevenant are Pokemon resembling humanoid trees that inhabit the Winding Woods of Kalos. Highly protective of their forest, they can control regular trees and show great kindness to the Pokemon that inhabit their land and nest in their bodies, but will ruthlessly attack anyone who exploits their woods. Physically, they're a bit unusual, being about human-sized, walking on six roots instead of legs and being technically the ghosts of humans who died lost in the forest.
- Total War: Warhammer: Treemen appear in the Wood Elf army roster with a couple of tweaks from their tabletop version, such as legs ending in a tangle of roots instead of feet. The subfaction of Argwylon, led by the Treeman Durthu Oakheart, focuses on Treemen and other forest sprits above the Wood Elves — for instance, only Ancient Treeman generals and not elven Glade Lords can be put in your council — in contrast to the main Wood Elf faction, which does the opposite.
- Smite: Sylvanus, the diminutive god of forests and the wilderness, goes into battle on the back of Grover, a massive treant. A couple of unlockable skins turn Grover into more exotic variants on this trope, such as a treant covered in giant blue-and-red mushrooms or one based on a cactus.
- Warcraft III:
- Treants are human-sized treemen, usually summoned by the Keeper of the Grove by targeting a forested area. Corrupted Treants can be seen in some maps, where they also have poison attacks or the Entangling Roots ability.
- The giant trees that serve as Night Elf buildings are known as Ancients, and while they can attack and move around, it's very much a last-ditch option, as they do both very, very slowly.
- World of Warcraft:
- The Treants and the Ancients from Warcraft III make an appearance in this game too.
- Druids with the "Restoration" specialization have the ability to shapeshift into the "Tree of Life" form, which gives them enhanced healing and plant-based attack abilities, as well as higher armor. Initially they looked identical to treants; however, they were given a unique appearance in Mists of Pandaria. An item called Glyph of the Treant was added for players who prefer the appearance of the old treant form, which is a purely aesthetic spell.
- Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars:
- Warcraft III:
- Erfworld: Gumps are a type of forest-capable unit note used by the Royal Crown Coalition, shaped like giant, humanoid trees. There are also Tannenbaums, which seem to be pine tree-shaped, Christmas-themed Gumps.
- Oglaf has occasionally featured an unnamed tree-species. Their males look like Treeants while their females are humanoid Plant People.
- The Order of the Stick: Durkon does not like trees, viewing them as Combat Tentacles-equipped Stone Wall Giant Mooks that just aren't moving yet. However, when he faces actual treants animated by a crazed druid that sent them on a rampage against civilization (and that had been made resistant to everything but Sonic damage) he figures out a way to deal with them.
- Something*Positive: During a D&D game, the party encounters hillbilly rapist treemen. This gets their Asshole Victim to quit the roleplaying group, for which the other members send the GM thank-you notes.
- The Silly Symphonies short "Flowers and Trees" has three treants, two lover trees and one evil tree who pines for the female tree, out of a larger population inhabiting a forest also home to animated flowers and woodland critters. Out of rage after his attempts to woo the female tree fail, the evil tree tries to burn the forest down but gets burned by his own mechanisms. The lover trees continue on to their business like nothing ever happened.
- In a direct parody of Lord of the Rings, the Futurama episode "Bender's Game" also featured a giant tree person called Treedledum. The fellowship ended up using him for firewood.
- The New Adventures of Superman: In "The Tree Man of Arbora", a tree-like being brought to life near a meteor crater grows arms and legs and begins wandering about, consuming enormous quantities of water. It displayed enormous physical strength, easily ripping the hood off of a car to get at the water in its motor and breaking a dam apart with its bare fingers. It at one point disguises itself in a forest by standing still and becoming indistinguishable from normal trees, until a boy carving letters into its trunk angers it back into motion. At the end of the episode, Superman takes the creature to the planet of Abora, which is entirely populated by tree men.
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