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Barefoot Sage

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Maia could never get over how quiet the Xanti were, how careful of the land. They treated every clump of trees or trickle of water as though they were old friends. They could walk barefoot over thorns and through swamps and piles of leaves which might easily have concealed a snake, but somehow they knew that it didn't.
"They have wise feet," the professor said.

The archetypal character of a sage, a mentor, an oracle, a wise person is sometimes given an unusual additional trait: an aversion to shoes. It may be because of religious asceticism, special connection to nature, or just general eccentricity. Whatever the cause is, the lack of footwear (especially in public places) makes the character look singular and different from everyone else, and therefore may serve to emphasize that they know and see more than an ordinary person does, and is just too wise to care about social conventions. The religious connotations (like the said asceticism, or "bare feet on holy ground") may also come in handy.

There is also a seemingly practical thought regarding one particular issue; if the character has a hermit-like mentality and is depicted as never really moving from one spot (like meditating in one particular spot), then the need for having shoes is kinda moot and they'd might as well air out their feet. This logic however is fairly Fridge Logic-inducing since it implies that they are so far into their religious or academic pursuit that they never need to move around even to satisfy the most basic of human needs such as eating, sleeping, or pooping. This can arguably be seen as a weird combination of Conservation of Detail and Establishing Character Moment, since if we'd only see these isolated characters as they interact with other people who sought them out, then it would be easier and quicker to establish their devotion to the particular lifestyle by catching them exactly in the act of the aforementioned lifestyle that makes them stand out to the rest of society.

See also Barefoot Poverty and Magical Homeless Person; compare and contrast with Barefoot Loon. Very often overlaps with Magical Barefooter; may also overlap with Granola Girl or New-Age Retro Hippie, if the character's wisdom is of "New Agey" type. Compare Bald Mystic and Posthuman Nudism.


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    Comic Books 
  • The Oracle of Kandrakar, from the W.I.T.C.H. franchise.
  • Tia Dalma from Pirates of the Caribbean comics matches this to a certain extent (it is unclear whether she wears any shoes in the movies).
  • X-Men:
    • Nate Grey became this during his "Prophet" phase. As was shown during his membership of the New Mutants, this worked out rather better before his depower, when he was a nigh-omnipotent telekinetic who could levitate over convenient obstacles and, well. Dirt.
    • Australian ally Gateway is an Aboriginal shaman who is only ever seen in a loincloth and bare feet.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Hypatia from Agora is an unusual example: she's not always barefoot, but she seems to have a habit of taking off her footwear when indoors (in particular, teaching her students barefoot).
  • Yoda from the Star Wars franchise. Wise, he is. Wear shoes, he does not.


  • Maura Sargent, the main character's mother from The Raven Cycle, has a penchant for going barefoot, and her sagacity comes with the territory of being psychic and doing Tarot card readings.
  • Coriakin, Ramandu, and the Hermit of the Southern March from The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • The eccentric artist Honora Menapace, from Skin Deep by E. M. Crane, serves as a source of wisdom for the main character Andrea. She is very New Agey and tends to go barefoot a lot.
  • In The Wise Man's Fear, the Hermit Guru Jax encounters in Hespe's story.
  • Oonagh from The Prophecy of the Stones, emphasizing her combination of wisdom and childlike innocence.
  • Medwyn from The Chronicles of Prydain.
  • Wizard Whitebeard from Where's Wally? is always barefoot.
  • The Barefoot Indian: The Making of a Messiahress by Julia Heywood has the titular Barefoot Indian, a mysterious woman who guides the main character to enlightenment.
  • Downplayed in Alice, Girl from the Future: the wise Chinese professor Lu Fu from The Kindness Ray wears only light sandals even in cold weather, probably as a way to show asceticism and/or nonconformism.
  • Greylock, the sage/mentor figure from Demons of the Deep, is depicted barefoot in an illustration.
  • Likewise, Sword Quest from the Usborne Fantasy Adventure series by Andy Dixon has Muddle the Magician, a quirky absent-minded sorcerer who is depicted barefoot in an illustration, probably to emphasize his eccentricity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dojjen, the desert-dwelling Hermit Guru in the Doctor Who story "Snakedance", is noticeably barefoot.
  • Cody from Dual Survival regularly displayed a vast understanding of both survival skills and scientific knowledge. He was also barefoot in nearly every survival scenario, only wearing shoes when necessary to protect his feet.

  • The wise wizard Merlin from the Arthurian lore is frequently depicted barefoot in illustrations.

  • Friar Laurence from Romeo and Juliet is very often portrayed barefoot. However, as "sagey" as he is, he still makes a fatal mistake.

    Video Games 
  • The mentor of the main character in Avencast: Rise of the Mage is shown barefoot. The rest of the mages of the setting seem to have a penchant for sandals and unconventional footwear.
  • In Diablo II, the eccentric sage Ormus does not wear any shoes.
  • Shy-Ann from Girl Detective: Sweet Sixties has shades of this. She's a spiritual Native American hippie, who always seems to be in meditation and doesn't wear shoes. She is also a time traveler like the main character and gives her hints on the gameplay.
  • Stella from Goodbye Volcano High is a mystic who provides Tarot readings throughout the game to give Fang clarity and direction for their future decisions, and she's always barefoot.
  • Voodoo Lady in the two first Monkey Island installments.
  • Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink: Strangeblood, who is originally considered an evil warlock, but turns out to be a good and wise magician. He is always seen without shoes.
  • Dahlia Gillespie from Silent Hill seems to be a mixture of this, Barefoot Loon, and Mad Oracle with her cryptic/prophetic speeches and her seeming willingness to help the protagonist. A very dark subversion actually. She is the Big Bad who deliberately played up this image (including cryptic predictions, etc.) in order to make Harry her unwitting accomplice.
  • Spelling Jungle: Yobi, the village wise man. Wali, his apprentice, also goes barefoot. (Averted in the sequel Spelling Blizzard though.)
  • Street Fighter
    • Dhalsim is a master yogi who's wisened by years of self-mastery and curbing conflict, hence why he goes everywhere barefoot (also because he can freely levitate and teleport, so he doesn't need to ever touch the ground).
    • Oro is a 140-year-old hermit and candidate for one of the most powerful fighters in Street Fighter canon. He tends to keep to his training and meditation, hence his preference for going barefoot.
  • The Wiseman from The Trader of Stories.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Bodhidharma is depicted in art as being barefoot. The Daruma doll is an aversion — his arms and legs are gone from nine years of meditation.
  • Socrates, probably the Ur-Example. The most famous depiction of his life is actually called Barefoot in Athens.
  • Many saints and blessed ones, of both Christianity and Eastern religions like Hinduism.
  • The Muslim saint Bishr ibn Hareth, nicknamed Bishr al-Hafi (Bishr the Barefoot).
  • The Latvian Eccentric Artist Voldemārs Irbe combined this with Barefoot Loon. He was known for his disheveled appearance and going barefoot all year round, and was also deeply religious and enjoyed holding philosophical conversations about God and the meaning of life with random bypassers.
  • Invoked with the 18th century garden hermits. Rich landowners actually paid people who would agree to live in a hermitage in their garden, dressing like druids and giving sage advice to guests. Not wearing shoes was often required by the contract.
  • Some Christian religious orders go barefoot or wear only sandals as an ascetic practice. They are referred to in Catholicism as "discalced", which is an elaborate pseudo-Latin translation for "shoeless".
  • Some hippies/New Age practitioners. Many of them are just pretenders, but a few really possess some sort of spiritual insight.
  • There is a story that John Chapman, a.k.a. "Johnny Appleseed", once came across a frontier sermon where the preacher asked "what happened to the old Christians who went barefoot to do the work of Christ?", to which Chapman picked up his foot and said "here he is".


Video Example(s):


The Wise Warlock

Sabrina meets the ambiguously Jewish Wise Warlock who is meditating, and helps him untangle his legs.

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Main / BarefootSage

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