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"In raven arithmetic, no death is enough."
Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee
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They're dark. They sound ominous. They'll eat just about anything they can find, including dead bodies on the battlefield or corpses hanging from the gallows. A group of crows is a murder; a group of ravens is an unkindness or conspiracy.

In most of their fictional appearances, crows, rooks, and ravens are scary birds. They are often associated with death, danger, and even evil. In Fantasy and Horror works, ravens and crows are often depicted as spies, Familiars and Mooks of the Big Bad or as Feathered Fiends in their own right. The Haunted House or the scary Derelict Graveyard often has crows or ravens hanging about. Some works depict them as being neutral in morality, but still associate them with death, such as having crows or ravens act as servants of a death god.

Even in more realistic works, the presence of ravens and crows can be used to set an ominous mood and to signal death and danger, similar to Circling Vultures. The presence of a dead body might be indicated by a flock of ravens or crows. A sudden rush of crows might startle a character during a tense moment. In works where ravens and crows are not outright ominous, they'll instead be portrayed as annoying pests in vein of Pesky Pigeons.

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Because they are so visually similar, in many visual media it can be hard to tell whether the bird in question is meant to be a raven or a crow. There is usually little if any difference in how they are treated. Scientifically speaking, ravens are crows, that is they're members of the genus Corvus. The term "raven" originally applied to the common raven, the largest and most widespread crow species, but is also used in the common name of some other species; rooks and jackdaws are also crow species with different common names. However, some works might single out only one of these species as being bad. A few works might even show ravens as good (or at least normal) and crows as evil, or vice-versa.

Compare to Circling Vultures, Ominous Owl and Pesky Pigeons. Not to be confused with Idiot Crows, where the crows denote stupidity rather than evil. May overlap with Clever Crows, although Clever Crows are more often benevolent. Also see Plague Doctor, as fictional portrayals often play up the Creepy Crows aspect of the costume.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Death Note: In the first ending, Light is standing by water, surrounded by doves — except that his reflection is surrounded by crows instead.
  • Inuyasha: A three-eyed crow demon is one of the first enemies that Inu Yasha and Kagome encounter and it sort of kicks off the series.
  • The Morose Mononokean: Creepy crows show up to foreshadow the first appearance of the Executive, who is himself creepy and a youkai who transforms into a giant crow.
  • My-HiME: In the anime, Shiho's Child is Yatagarasu, named after the messenger from the gods in Shinto canon. It has one leg instead of three, possibly signifying that "loyalty, truthfulness, and devotion" are replaced by the user's Yandere nature.
  • My Roommate is a Cat: Crows are a recurring antagonistic animal in the flash-backs to Haru's time as a stray cat. Some are responsible for the death of one of her siblings.
  • Naruto: Uchiha Itachi uses crows as part of his jutsu. Itachi could summon crows, which he would typically call forth in flocks to swarm opponents and distract them. He even integrated crows into clones of himself that would draw opponents' attacks. His illusions often involved crows, using them to torture his enemies turning crows into shuriken. If Itachi was struck down in battle, chances are his crows would disperse and reveal it was an illusion or a crow shadow clone.
  • PandoraHearts: Gilbert Nightray has the Monstrous Raven as his Chain (read: demonic Eldritch Abomination monster) of choice. It attacks using blue flames.
  • Paranoia Agent: Crows frequently appear when something is about to go badly. Which is all the time.
  • Patlabor:
    • The first movie has a memorable scene involving Noah being menaced by a room full of sinister-looking, possibly mind-controlled crows in a Shout-Out to Hitchcock's The Birds.
    • Birds, especially corvids, also show up in numerous pivotal scenes of the second movie, as well. Director Mamoru Oshii seems to be using them as a visual motif for the schemes of criminal masterminds who try to put themselves above the common people with their manipulative games: E.Hoba in the first movie & Tsuge in the second.
  • Princess Tutu: The main antagonist is a monster raven. And his Dark Magical Girl 'daughter', Princess Kraehe, whose name is German for "crow". And all their Mooks. He also manages to turn the entire town into ravens toward the end of the series. This was considered a bad thing.
  • Private Actress: A very creepy Beta Bitch girl named Mai has trained a bunch of crows on her own. Under the influence of her Alpha Bitch Kana, she commands them to *attack* people, including the murder victim of the case and our protagonist Shiho, who is investigating the other girl's death.
  • The Rose Flower and Joe, based on a children's book by Takashi Yanase is focused on a puppy who falls in love with a rose. The main antagonist is a large crow who is not only mean spirited, but threatens to destroy the rose and antagonizes the puppy. Later in the short, the black crow is joined by three more crows which the dog managed to defeat. However, the same black crow manages to throw a surprise attack on Joe by attacking his face causing him to become permanently blind.
  • Saint Seiya: Crow Jamian one of the Silver Saints. His Silver Crow Cloth represents the constellation Corvus and has a reputation of being able to control crows almost functioning like a part of himself.
  • Saiyuki: Nii Jienyi is sometimes associated with carrion crows as well as with rabbits when in his mad scientist guise. When in his guise as Ukoku Sanzo, the crow imagery goes crazy. Ukoku translates literally as "a single crow cried", after what was going on in the background when he killed his master. He wears an unusual dark-colored variation of the standard flowing white sanzo robes, and the sleeves often look like wings when he strikes from above.
  • Serial Experiments Lain: In the opening, Lain is surrounded by terrifying crows. And then she just stops them. By stopping time.
  • Vampire Knight: A bunch of crows can be seen in the background in chapter 57 for ominous effect when Zero is interrogating a vampire and then killing him.

    Ballads 
  • Child Ballad 26 "The Three Ravens" features three ravens discussing dinner. They mention a dead knight, but his body is being protected by his hawk and his hounds, and his true love comes to bury him and die of grief. It has a much more cynical variant, "The Twa Corbies", where the ravens instead discuss how the dead knight's hawk, hound, and lady have all deserted him, so they can eat his corpse.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Crow of Dark Tidings, which forces you to discard two of your cards when it enters play and whose art shows it staring balefully at the viewer.
    "Well, this can't be a good sign."

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Jonathan Crane, better known as the supervillain Scarecrow, is frequently seen and associated with corvids. In various appearances, he has a pet raven named Nightmare or a crow named Craw, and uses a flock of crows to attack Batman in Haunted Knight.
  • Death Vigil: Hugin the White Raven is by far the most powerful and feared of the Death Knights. It helps that he can shapeshift into a dinosaur in an Urban Fantasy.
  • A different villain named the Scarecrow, originally from the Iron Man comics but later used as a Ghost Rider villain, is a contortionist turned Serial Killer who uses trained crows to Zerg Rush his victims. In his first appearance during the Silver Age, the crows were stolen from another performer and used to aid in robberies.
  • In Oz (Caliber), the Scarecrow is able to summon a murder of crows from within his own body and send them to attack his foes.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side: One panel featured the caption "Tools of the common crow" and depicted a crow standing next to some fresh roadkill, holding a spatula in its beak.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "The Grateful Beasts", doubles up with Clever Crows: Ferko, blinded and crippled by his brothers, rests under what he thinks is a tree; it's a gallows. Two crows talk on it, and he hears how he can cure himself.
  • Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth's "The Enchanted Quill": The two elder sisters find the crow who wants to marry one of them more than a bit disgusting and frightening. Later, when they travel through a dark, gloomy forest to visit the crow's castle, the three sisters become convinced that they must be traveling on the road to Hell.

    Fan Works 
  • Between My Brother and Me: Mors Omnibus: Ash Ketchum is surrounded by a multitude of ravens in his first appearance that can converse with them and they act like his eyes and ears. He also wears a black-feathered hood that transforms into a raven cloak and he quotes that "the raven is to be respected, never trusted."
  • In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars fanfic By the Sea, shell-shocked World War II veteran Obi-Wan associates crows and ravens with the dead, because he watched them pick at the bodies of fallen soldiers throughout the war. Seeing them picking at the body of an injured merman on the beach at the very beginning of the story is what spurs him into action.
  • Pokédex: Murkrow are portrayed as this. It doesn't stop a lot of historical nations from using them as symbols, though.
  • The Rainsverse features Chroma's "stormcrows", bird-shaped constructs of animate lightning magic used by the psychotic alicorn as scouts and sentries.
  • Thousand Shinji: A rare case where a creepy crow belongs to one of the heroes. Rei is a follower of Nurgle, God of Death, Demise and Decay. Sick, dying animals and scavengers are drawn to her. The leader of those animals is her pet crow Old Priest, an old carrion-eater crow. At the end of the fic it got transformed into the first Carrion Crow of Reigle, a creature about as putrid and disgusting as it sounded, yet wise and clever.
  • OSMU: Fanfiction Friction: One of the first signs that tell Omar (and the readers) that the island of Hy-Brasil is a bad place is the flock of crows that swoop towards him before settling on tree branches as he makes his way through the island forest. The crow that is owned by The Morrigan, an old woman settling in a house in the forest, is the only one that averts this trope, as it guides Omar out of the forest and back to the Mobile Unit's van.

    Films — Animation 
  • In The 3 Little Pigs: The Movie, a shifty looking crow follows Rublad to Big Boss’ inn while he sings his Villain Song. This is notable as the other forest animals that see Rublad treat him like The Dreaded, and duck out of sight when he walks by.
  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: After leaving the Halloween party and riding through a dark and ominous wood, Ichabod hears a crow, which flies off cawing, "Beware! Beware!"
  • In Corpse Bride, crows appear to be one of the few types of animal who can visit the Land of the Dead while still alive. Both times Victor is pulled down to the Land of the Dead by Emily, they're surrounded by a flock of them. Crows also live in Elder Gutknecht's tower — he uses their feathers and eggs for magical purposes.
  • In The Lorax adaptation, the old crows perched on the sign outside the Once-ler's house are harmless, but add to the dark, dreary atmosphere of the place.
  • Ravens serve as the heralds of doom in The Secret of Kells for both Vikings and Crom Cruach.
  • Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty has a pet raven named Diablo that appears to be the only thing she trusts or cares about. He's also her only competent henchman, apparently.
  • In We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, crows are seen gathering around Prof. Screweyes' Circus of Fear. When Screweyes is defeated, the crows gather around him and completely cover his body. When they fly away, nothing is left of him except the screw from his eye, which a crow picks up before flying away.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beetlejuice - Charles Deetz is sitting in Adam's den, delightedly playing with his birdwatching stuff. He picks up binoculars and looks out the window, and recoils when he sees a crow with scraggly head feathers pecking at entrails on a fence post.
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, crows in particular feature in a memorable sequence in which they slowly gather at a schoolhouse while the children sing an Ironic Nursery Tune, the main character not noticing what's going on until there are hundreds of them.
  • In The Bird War, the villain is a Feathered Fiend named Fagin, but it is never specified if he is a crow or a raven.
  • A flock of crows are heard at the beginning of the Holocaust drama Conspiracy (2001). Crows commonly symbolize death, so the connection to the planned genocide is quite obvious.
  • James O'Barr's The Crow, both the film and the graphic novel version, has the bird as a kind of guide and familiar to the undead avenger protagonist. In the film version, if the crow dies the avenger becomes mortal again but doesn't lose his other powers.
  • Damien: Omen II: A raven (complete with its own Leitmotif) appears near in the earlier death scenes, and in two instances is the direct cause of them.
  • The End of Summer: The farmer played by Chishu Ryu notes an unusually large number of crows sitting around and wonders if someone has died. It's Manbei (the protagonist of the film) that's died, and soon enough smoke rises from the crematorium that's on the other side of the river. The very last shot shows crows sitting on the headstones in the graveyard where Manbei has been interned.
  • Harry Potter
    • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the scene of Buckbeak's execution has crows all over the area being just as sinister as they can be.
    • However, a less malevolent raven appears with a student at the end of the last film, suggesting that wizards keep them as pets.
  • Husk: A murder of crows smashes into the windscreen of Chris's SUV, causing him to crash into the cornfield. Afterwards, more crows hang around the protagonists; watching them and cawing creepily.
  • They had some fun with this trope at the start of Jurassic World. After the ominous opening involving baby dinosaurs hatching, the scene cuts to a shot of an extreme close-up of what looks like a giant dinosaur foot... that turns out to be the foot of a random crow, or even a blackbird based on size. Which, technically speaking, is still a dinosaur foot, as birds evolved from dinosaurs. Played a bit more straight later in the film, as a few crows can be seen scavenging on the Apatosaurus corpses left behind in the wake of the saurian Big Bad's rampage.
  • In Jeepers Creepers and its sequels, crows seem to be drawn to wherever the Creeper is.
  • Like in the book, ravens and crows are generally an ill omen in The Lord of the Rings. The "crebain from Dunland" that Legolas sees near the Misty Mountains in The Fellowship of the Ring are servants of Saruman, reporting on the position of the Fellowship for him.
    Gandalf: The Enemy has many spies ... beasts, and birds ...
  • The cawing of crows is used in the Mad Max films to show the World Half Empty as our hero travels the gang-plagued highways and deserts of Australia. Used very effectively in Fury Road; the crows in the Quagmire indicate that this is NOT a happy place and that it's actually what's left of the Green Place that Furiosa has been searching for.
  • The Matrix Reloaded combines this with Disturbed Doves. While Neo and the Oracle are discussing free will and whether we understand our own choices, the Oracle is feeding the birds. The Oracle says her goodbyes... and the birds immediately take flight en masse as Agent Smith shows up.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest introduces Jack by showing a large, foreboding prison, with crows picking at rotting corpses in cages and one of them landing on a coffin that's been thrown to sea then getting blown away by Jack, who'd been hiding inside.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (2009), Lord Blackwood, whose father notes at one point has been followed by death his entire life, is also followed by a rather sinister black bird.
  • The evil queen Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman uses a corvid motif and is able to transform into a flock of ravens at will, while her minions change into a murder of crows when killed. However, some magpies serve as Snow White's friends and allies.
  • In the final battle of Ultraman: The Next, the monster known as Beast The One use it's powers to absorb entire flocks of crows into his body, morphing what seems to be a few thousand crows into becoming a pair of crow-like wings on it's back, which grants it the powers of flight to battle Ultraman in aerial combat. Ultraman eventually slices those wings off, which then disperses back into crows and flew away.
  • In The Virgin Spring, as Ingeri and Karin enter the woods and approach the scary, ominous cabin of a creepy hermit, a raven appears and squawks. The creepy hermit is strongly implied to be the god Odin, granting Ingeri's wish for a curse on Karin, who is promptly raped and murdered.

    Gamebooks 
  • In Knights of Doom, you forge an alliance with fellow knight Lord Taris Varen, only to find out Varen is actually a traitor and a were-raven serving Lord Belgaroth, the Big Bad. At the peak of your final battle with Belgaroth, Varen, in raven form, will attempt to summon reinforcements unless you break his transformation, turning him into a grotesque half-man, half-raven hybrid.
  • In Lone Wolf, it is mentioned that ravens are considered a bad omen in Sommerlund, and indeed whenever they show up in the books, it is in a quite negative light. The fact that some are used by lieutenants of the Darklords as scouts, as seen in Book 1 with a Vordak, sure doesn't help things. In Book 4, the finding of a murder of crows feasting on corpses reveals the fate of the Redshirt Army preceding Lone Wolf.

    Literature 
  • In one chapter of American Gods Shadow encounters a rather large raven eating a dead fawn, which tells him that Mr. Wednesday wants him to go to Cairo (Illinois), and to "fuck off" when Shadow asks it to say "Nevermore".
  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series uses crows as a symbol of death and battle constantly. "Crows" is also commonly used as a swear word, likely for the same reason. People are quite accustomed to them appearing on a battlefield to feast on the dead. A bit too accustomed, when the Vord hide their Marionette Masters in a murder of crows.
  • In The Dark is Rising, rooks (a corvid relative) are the agents of the Dark and appear at various points either as spies, harbingers of doom, actual receptacles of evil (the attack on the church on Christmas comes to mind), or simply to look ominous. There is some confusion as to whether they are genuinely wicked or merely misled and controlled by the villains; most of the time they seem rather mindless, and never do they cause any outright harm, but Merriman later says that they "chose to aid the Dark" or words to that effect, a choice they regretted when the Wild Hunt harried them to the ends of the earth. In any event, after book two the rooks are never shown to cause any problems again, whether they were freed from Mind Control or simply learned their lessons and decided to stay neutral from then on.
  • In Divergent, as Tris goes into a simulation designed to emulate her fears she is attacked by a large number of crows. These turn out to be representative of something else as Four points out that she isn't really afraid of crows.
  • In the short story "Dragon Scales" by Eric Tanafon, published in Dragon magazine, the bard who sets out to charm the dragon thinks of the abundance of ravens, and absence of songbirds, around the dragons lair as an ill omen. He eventually realises it's a clue that dragons have very different taste in music to humans.
  • Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee. The protagonist steals an abandoned mercenary spacecraft that communicates with her via Animal Motifs formed on tapestries displayed around the walls. Ravens are used to indicate impending danger.
  • In the second book of The Girl from the Miracles District, Nikita and Robin are constantly followed by Odin's two ravens to highlight that they're Being Watched and the uneasiness that comes with it. Near the end of the story, Morrigan's crows join them as harbingers of bad times to come.
  • Averted in Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, in which the two crows, Wit and Study, are actually quite helpful to the heroine.
  • Mentioned in the "10 Wildlife Creatures That Are Always Evil" section of How to Survive a Horror Movie. Apparently, raven as actually quite pleasant animals... but they're still certain harbingers of impending doom.
  • In Krabat, the boys are turned into ravens when they get lessons in (dark) magic.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, crebain are crows allied with the forces of Evil, serving as spies for Sauron and Saruman.
    • According to Unfinished Tales the crebain only served Saruman, and not with malicious intentions. The benign wizard, Radagast the Brown had borrowed them to his service, unaware of his treachery.
    • By contrast, ravens in The Hobbit were trusted friends and allies of the Dwarves of Erebor, who used them as messengers. An ancient raven by the name of Roäc greets Thorin as King Under the Mountain, and Thorin uses him and his folk to send messages to Dáin Ironfoot calling for aid. Curiously enough, Roäc counsels Thorin against going to war with the Elves of Mirkwood and the Men of Esgaroth over Smaug's treasure.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, the villainous Vicar Roberts has an albino raven for a familiar.
  • Corvids in general, especially magpies and crows, are the resident Always Chaotic Evil species in the fantasy novel One For Sorrow, Two For Joy, in which they are mostly portrayed as either stupid, sadistic, or Ax-Crazy and kill smaller birds for fun.
  • In Rachel Griffin, an oversized Raven with red eyes is seen, seemingly an enforcer of the Extra-Strength Masquerade. It is later revealed that while ravens in general are merely heralds of "bad luck," that particular Raven is an omen of the death of worlds.
  • Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Raven" is an unsettling piece that has a conversation between the narrator and the titular raven, a grim, ominous bird that enters his house on a dark and frightening night, when he's already in a dark mood.
  • Dan Abnett's Ravenor and Ravenor Returned have the sheen birds, mechanical birds that were created to live in a city where the pollution would kill most unprotected wildlife. They work for the Unkindness, controlled by heretics to perform assassinations almost like a force of nature, using their collective sharp-edged wings to strip victims down to their bloody bones.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Tiecelin has a pet raven, Prophet, who can talk, but only knows one word: "Doom!"
  • Played with in The Riddle Master Trilogy: Crows are associated with the kingdom of An; in fact, it seems to be common that members of the royal family can turn into crows, and they are portrayed positively—however, An is also the kingdom with the most restless dead, so much so that one of the main duties of the ruler is to keep them bound, and they can be distinctly horrifying when loose.
  • Rip Van Winkle is climbing around in the woods when he hears his name called, but all he sees is a single crow flying above the mountain. Then he meets a strange, silent man who turns out to be a ghost.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: The Brett Helquist covers show crows on them (two on the first cover).
  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, the Baudelaires are sent to a village called the Village of Fowl Devotees, which is full of crows. Though the crows themselves never actually hurt anyone, they contribute to the unpleasant and ominous atmosphere of the village, whose people are creepily devoted to them, full of worthless rules, and otherwise unhelpful.
  • The vampire Alexandre Russeau brings a flock of carrion crows with him when he moves into Salvation in Sheep's Clothing. They serve as his eyes and ears—and a handy way to get around people scattering seeds outside their doors and windows to invoke his vampiric Super OCD.
  • Crows are literally omnipresent in A Song of Ice and Fire. Broadly speaking the series has Clever Ravens and Creepy Crows, but there's some overlap:
    • Ravens serve as messenger birds throughout Westeros, often delivering bad news. This leads to the commonly-repeated expression, "dark wings, dark words". Crows, meanwhile, are used as a motif for death and the general toll of war, going as far as being the fourth book's title, A Feast for Crows.
    • The character most associated with crows (his names, his birthmark, the Blackwood sigil and his rumored and revealed to be true skinchanging ability) is Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers, who is a controversial character at his best, and (ambiguously) evil at his worst. Then, he's revealed to be a powerful sorcerer who has always skinchanged in crows to fulfill his own mysterious agenda.
    • Jeor Mormont's old pet raven can also speak a few words, which often seem ominously prophetic. It may have something to do with the above-mentioned ability of Bloodraven in skinchanging.
    • The Maesters of the Citadel also breed special white ravens who are only released to signify the official changing of seasons; one shows up at the end of A Dance With Dragons to show that winter has, in fact, come.
    • It's heavily implied that the unusual cleverness of the ravens may have something to do with centuries of skinchanging by the greenseers, who used to speak through the birds.
    • Euron Greyjoy, one of the most eerie and depraved characters in the series, is known as the Crow's Eye, has crows on his personal coat of arms, and uses them in metaphors quite a bit. It's also implied that he has some connection with Bloodraven.
  • Sorcerer Conjurer Wizard Witch has a small flock of friendly ravens (the ones who live in the Tower of London and form part of the city's magical defences) and a much larger flock of murderous crows commanded by the Great Enchanter Zenf. It's noted that there isn't really an actual difference between ravens and crows.
  • Crows are associated with Randall Flagg in The Stand. Often, particularly in the film, but sometimes in the novel as well, a large, black bird is spotted hanging around during a dark time in the plot. The film even has him shifting into crow form in the end.
  • In Stuck at the Wheel, the gang led by The Shadow is named the Crows and their calling card is a black crow feather.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • The Dark One uses ravens as spies, and at one point early in the series a huge flock of them is shown patrolling a forest, swarming and completely stripping the flesh from anything that breaks from the cover of the trees.
    • Ravens are a symbol of the imperial family of the Seanchan, who are a particularly ruthless society of slaveholders that serve as one of the principal antagonists of the series. The imperial family is ruthless not only to slaves but with each other, as they are constantly conspiring against each other and assassinating each other.
    • The association of ravens with evil is subverted with Mat Cauthon, a hero that is loosely based on Odin and acquires a ring with ravens on it late in the series. He also has a Blade on a Stick with an inscription referencing "Thought" and "Memory", the names of Odin's two ravens. In the 11th book he even becomes the Seanchan Prince of Ravens through marriage to the Seanchan Empress.
  • In Wildwood by Colin Meloy, Prue's brother is kidnapped by a murder of crows.
  • Crows are among the minions of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and they also figure heavily in the Scarecrow's backstory - when he was unable to scare them, an old crow taught him about how important brains were.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Awaken: Crows appear in the prologue, watching as the village burns.
  • Doctor Who: "Face the Raven" has the quantum shade, which usually takes the form of a raven. Averted in "The Eaters of Light", where crows are actually helping the protagonists and the Picts, warning them of danger. At the end of the episode, one of the Picts asks the crows to remember a fallen friend named Kar. They have, ever since word they say since then ("caw") sounds very much like her name.
  • From: Whenever someone comes across the felled tree that ends up redirecting them to the road into the town, there's always a murder of crows cawing away in the branches above them.
  • In Game of Thrones, crows herald the coming of evil supernatural creatures called the White Walkers, who turn the dead into "wights" to add to their army. Ravens, on the other hand, are normal domesticated messenger birds, but they have a bad rep because bad news arrive via them, hence the proverb: "Dark wings, dark words".
  • In Justified's fifth season, crows are symbolically linked to the murderous Crowe family, flocking about the body of their first victim, Wade Messer.
  • The Munsters is about a ensemble of monstrous creatures conforming a Nuclear Family. One of the characters is a talking crow (voiced by Mel Blanc).
  • Star Trek: Voyager: In one episode, Seven of Nine begins seeing a large black bird in her dreams, which causes her an unusual amount of fear. Janeway reads her description of her dream and realizes it's a raven, as in the Raven, the ship that she and her parents were assimilated on.
  • Ultraman Tiga once battled a race of aliens called the Raybeaks, a race of crow-faced humanoids whose creepy factor mainly comes from the episode's atmosphere. The real threat they present though is that they're slavers who use Shrink Rays to seize humans and bring them back home to replace their dying Slave Race of Human Aliens.

    Music 
  • In her song "Things That Scare Me", Neko Case recalls being stalked by a flock of black birds as a child. As an adult, she wonders whether they may have actually been trying to warn her to leave her town before it's too late.
  • Towards the end of Darke Complex's song Intrusive Thoughts crows are mentioned to gather round the narrator's dead body.
  • Gillian Welch's "The Way It Will Be".
    I can't say your name without a crow flying by
  • Katatonia have a few crow-like imagery on their album covers.
  • Nautilus Pompilius:
    • In the song "Black Birds", birds try to hurt a girl (make her unhappy forever or, depending on your interpretation, literally peck her eyes out).
    • In the song "Walking on the Water", a black raven flies over the cross, and this frightens the apostle Andrew.
  • "When Crows Descend upon You" by A Pale Horse Named Death.
  • Radiohead's "There There" video has Thom Yorke steal some enchanted clothing from a tree in the woods, awakening some crows that chase and peck at him. Thom manages to outrun the crows, but not for long.
  • Tom Waits: "Flash Pan Hunter/Intro", from The Black Rider, is a minute of a gloomy tune playing while crows caw.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Danish traditionally believed that a raven who ate the flesh of a chieftain fallen in battle would gain superhuman powers and intelligence.
  • In Irish Mythology, the Morrigan (Or the related goddess Badb.) sometimes appears in the form of a crow to warriors, warning them of their future downfall or death in battle.
    • Similarly, the Irish and Scottish believed in the Sluagh, souls of the wicked dead who took the form of crows and devoured people's souls.
  • The Qur'an actually credits crows with teaching humans how to properly mourn and bury their dead.

    Pinballs 

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • According to Aisling Bea, Creepy Crows were one of the hallmarks of growing up in rural Ireland.
    Aisling: And it makes everything you do seem really ominous. You'd open the window and it'd be like "Blagh! bagh! bagh, bagh..." "Well, that seems a bit ominous." You know, you'd be standing innocently over a dead body in a field, and "Graa! Graa! Graa..." [jumps and looks around in surprise]

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 1st and 2nd Edition giant ravens were Neutral Evil alignment. In module T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil groups of giant ravens guarded the outside of the Temple.
    • In Forgotten Realms, Raven's Bluff is named after unusual local birds (big ravens that leave a curse if killed).
    • In Ravenloft, the trope is Zigzagged. On the one hand, Barovia is home to both Wereravens (the only Good-aligned species of werebeast in Ravenloft) and to Ravenkin (giant, spellcasting, talking ravens who are Good aligned, have some mysterious connection to the lost Barovian sun god Andral, and are dedicated enemies of vampires in general and Strahd in particular), which thoroughly subvert this trope, although the Ravenkin's ability to spy through the eyes of normal crows can be used to play this trope straight. Played thoroughly straight with the Corvus Regis ("King's Ravens"), who are intelligent, talking ravens bred as spies by the lich-king of Darkon, Azalin.
    • In Planescape, Simpathetics are fiendish beasts that resemble crows with mottled brown-gold feathers and blood-red eyes, which can literally suck the goodness out of anyone who lets the simpathetic touch them, as well as spitting gobbets of corrosive blood at anyone who they take a dislike to.
    • The Nentir Vale, the default setting of the 4th edition, has the Raven Queen as the goddess of death, fate and winter, who is, as her name implies, heavily associated with various corvids. Interestingly, she is not evil, but True Neutral. Death comes equally to everyone, after all.
  • The RPG Exalted has a Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" variation of the raven called a "raiton" that almost always means trouble if you hear their cries; they live in death-tainted areas called Shadowlands and are generally the picture of ominousness.
  • Hunter: The Vigil: The symbol of Ashwood Abbey is a crow with a twig in its mouth and an "A" on its chest. Said Abbey is also a society of Rich Idiots With No Day Jobs who rape, kill and torture monsters for sport.
  • Pathfinder:
    • There's a spell called "Blood Crow Strike", which creates energy blasts in the shape of fiery crows.
    • There are at least two sorts of psychopomp (the servants of Pharasma, the True Neutral death goddess) that look, or can look, corvid: the huge, powerful yamarajes appear part raven and part dragon, and the tiny nosoi often resemble crows.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: The Court of Tears reside in the cursed city of Alhamabra in the heart of the Dark World, and drain the very possibility of goodness and hope from the Earth to fuel the wisp-lamps that hold back the Darkness. One of the common nicknames for Nobles of Tears is "Ravens".
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse: Justified with the Matriarch. A goth teen who became The Beastmaster thanks to an Artifact of Doom, she commands endless hordes of ravens. her threat is considered by the game to be on par with Iron Legacy, a Superman Expy turned evil.
  • Summerland: Occasionally, when travelers are out in the deep woods, the forest suddenly grows deathly quiet and a huge flock of rooks comes down from the sky, covering the trees in a mass of black feathers. They watch the traveler in silence for a while, and then act — sometimes showing omens, sometimes aiding, sometimes viciously attacking. Then they leave.
  • Warhammer: The raven is the symbol of Morr, the god of death and dreams. They're also associated with the Grey Wizards, which while not evil are still associated with darkness and shadows. Tzentch, the Chaos god of change, mutation and backstabbers, is called the Raven God by some tribes and his demons bear strong similarities to corvid birds. Interestingly, his opposite Nurgle (god of disease, decay and stagnation) is called the Crow God by some.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Raven Guard and their homeworld have — unsurprisingly — ravens as their motif. The Raven Guard is known for being black-ops-esque unit and in one of the short stories, Shadow Captain Shrike manages to scare even an Ork kommando. Their homeworld, Kiavahr, has enormous, carnivorous, and man-eating crows as one of its dominant predators.

    Theme Parks 
  • There are several creepy ravens throughout Disneyland's Haunted Mansion ride. At one point, when your "Doom Buggy" (the car you ride in) descends into the graveyard scene, it rotates around and you are looking up at a raven with glowing red eyes, cawing menacingly down at you.

    Video Games 
  • Armello: Banes look like monstrous, semi-skeletal corvids wreathed in a sickly purple glow.
  • Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg: The enemies are evil crows that caused The Night That Never Ends.
  • BioShock Infinite: The villainous Zealots of the Lady are Elite Mooks who attack by sending swarms of crows at you. They also sport Ku Klux Klan-like clothes, wear coffins on their backs, and are generally associated with decay. After you defeat your first such Zealot, you gain the same ability yourself, as Infinite's version of the original games' Insect Swarm plasmid.
  • Bloodborne: Crows are common enemies, and are large, loud, and can hit hard if you didn't pay attention. And then there's Eileen The Crow, a hunter who hunts hunters, she uses crows as her motif.
  • Castlevania: Crows are recurring Airborne Mooks as part of the Gothic Horror atmosphere of the game. The games also have a recurring boss named Malphas/Karasuman, a black, winged demon accompanied by a murder of ravens/crows.
  • cat planet features crows that will follow the player to try to kill them in the final section.
  • Chains of Satinav: The kingdom of Andergast suffers from a plague of magical crows that give the citizens nightmares.
  • Dance Central gives the Big Bad of the 2nd and 3rd games, Dr. Tan, a crow motif in the third game. His dystopian future residence is called the Crow's Nest, where cawing crows can be seen flying in the background, he has a giant crow statue in his throne room, and his dance crew is even called "Murder of Crows".
  • Dark Devotion: You might encounter an ominous crow with a faint red aura as you explore the ruins. If you approach it, the crow will transform into a Grim Reaper-like figure wielding a fiery scythe, and you will have a nasty fight on your hands.
  • Darkest Dungeon: There's a raven on the family crests you collect, and given that basically everything in DD is designed to be at least a bit creepy and unsettling, it qualifies. You can also have the Shrieker turn up in plot missions; this is a horrible, fast-moving Optional Boss that's a hideously mutated raven with more eyes than is standard, and can be fought for loot - but if you can't kill it in four turns it flees.
  • Dark Souls: Crows appear throughout the series:
    • Dark Souls: Crows and Ravens are the symbol of the Goddess of Sin, Velka, whose influence on the actual game is mostly theoretical, but is probably just as tied to the raven that takes you to Lordran in the first place as she is to the Half-Human Hybrid monsters in the Painted World of Ariamis. The game also has a friendly (though unseen) talking crow Snuggly the Crow who trades rare and valuable items with you.
    • Dark Souls II: Dyna and Tillo are two unseen crows who take up the same role as Snuggly from the previous game. There is also a friendly Crow Demon Weaponsmith Ornifex who forges weapons from Boss Souls. The only unfriendly corvid is the giant one who carries The Pursuer around Drangleic to harass you.
    • Dark Souls III: Pickle Pee, Pump-a-Rum Crow are the crows who trade stuff in this game. The game also sees the return of antagonistic crows in the form of the Corvians, implied to be the descendants of the Crow Demons from the Painted World. They show up in the base game and in the DLC Ashes of Ariandel in which you enter the Painted World. The Painting is rotting, which has had bad effects on the Corvians within. Some are forlorn wretches who do little more than wander about begging for an end to their misery. Others are vicious and agile fighters who have dedicated themselves to keeping the Painted World intact despite the rot, and they are some of the most dangerous enemies in the game. One of the bosses in the base game, Pontiff Sulyvahn, is actually a Corvian from the Painted World.
  • Dead by Daylight: Ravens are very common wildlife throughout the settings, and they are always working against your best interests.
    • Ravens are commonly found perched throughout the map and fly away when people get near them, potentially alerting a nearby killer that a survivor is in the vicinity.
    • If a survivor hides in a locker for too long, ravens will perch on it and make noise, giving away their location.
    • If a survivor stays still for over a minute, ravens will circle overhead and noisily give away your location until you move.
  • Diablo III has crows that fly off when the player approaches, letting out loud caws as they do. They are found in Act I and Act V, which are the areas most reminiscent of classic Gothic Horror.
    • In the short story "Theatre Macabre: The Dark Exile" a playwright, who has unwittingly written a play about the exile of the three Prime Evils, reports how several actors who had auditioned for the role of Diablo himself met untimely and grisly ends, one of them being set upon by a murder of crows before his body had even grown cold, which was noted as being abnormal behavior for them.
    • Demon Hunters often have ravens as companions. While they are not evil, they are grim and forbidding, and frequently use demonic power against their demonic foes. They're also considered a bad omen by superstitious villagers and townsfolk.
  • Die Anstalt has Dr. Wood, the living plushie Head of Psychiatry at the titular asylum...and one of the patients, being an emotionally unstable paranoid Narcissist who eventually snaps completely and goes through A God Am I in a surreal sequence where even the sockpuppet therapist appears to be swept up in his delusions.
  • Dual Blades and Slashers: The Power Battle: Shin is an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer who can summon crows to aid him in battle.
  • Fahrenheit: Crows come up a lot; the first scene in the game after the opening monologue is of a crow flying over New York City and settling on a window sill where a murder is about to take place. The ending somewhat implies they're agents of the Purple Clan.
  • Fallout 4 features murders of crows that tend to appear at plot-relevant moments, such as the Sole Survivor's emergence from Vault 111, the fight between Raiders and Preston Garvey's survivors in Concord, or the Prydwen's appearance over Fort Hagen. It's not quite spelled out in-game, but dialogue suggests they're artificial animals used by the Institute to spy on the Commonwealth since Ronnie Shaw mentions seeing them turn up shortly before the Institute attacks the Castle during the Minutemen's endgame. And they're probably a shout-out to Boston's most famous writer as well.
  • Fire Emblem Awakening: Henry, a Heroic Comedic Sociopath with a disturbing interest in bloodshed, is associated with crows, first appearing amidst them and being shown with one in his official art.
  • Ghosts 'n Goblins: Ravens are a mainstay enemy of the series, appearing in blue and red varieties.
  • Heavenly Sword: King Bohan is accompanied by a giant raven that wears a golden helmet and turns out to be some kind of demon or other dark entity.
  • Hyper Light Drifter: There's a cult of birds resembling corvids or vultures.
  • Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass has Grimclaw, a humongous crow that was mutated into a malformed fleshy monstrosity by the Pulsating Mass. It serves as a Optional Boss of the second Nightmare Zone (listed as ??? on the map).
  • The Last Door. Birds in general are a motif, but crows are especially worthy of mention. There are at least two scares involving them in the first chapter alone.
  • League of Legends
    • Scary Scarecrow Fiddlesticks's ultimate ability is Crowstorm in which a whirlwind of deadly crows circle around him dealing massive damage.
    • Swain's entire visual theme is centered around them. From his outfit, to his ultimate turning him into a demonic man-raven, to the ravens perched around the map only visible to him.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Mount Satori, a supernatural mountain marked by the presence of a gathering of spirit-like beings on its summit during certain nights and by presence of numerous undead enemies on its slopes, is also home to immense flocks of crows constantly wheeling and circling in its skies and perching on its slopes and cliffs. Similarly, the Bottomless Swamp — an area of sucking quicksand-like bogs, pools of deadly Malice, dead trees and giant stone skulls half-buried in the mire — is home to a similar, smaller flock of crows that circles above it at all times. The crows' Compendium entry also notes that they're seen as birds of ill omen in Hylian culture.
  • The Long Dark: Subverted as a gameplay mechanic. Cawing flocks of ravens all in the same place definitely aren't bad news. Their presence indicates the presence of a body nearby. If the dead body is human, they may have non-perishable foods or tools on their person or beside them, and animal corpses can provide meat as well as hides and guts which can be collected and cured — all of these are vital survival supplies. Crows themselves can drop feathers, useful for making fletchings for arrows. To find them creepy and hate them for it would be highly ungrateful.
  • Metroid Dread: Raven Beak is a Chozo with a more raven-like head than the others. He's also a would-be Galactic Conqueror wearing intimidating Powered Armor who is easily able to overpower Samus Aran during their first encounter.
  • Monument Valley: The crows are the only living things other than the main character Ida (and Totem), which makes them pretty creepy despite being fairly minor obstacles.
  • Mystery Case Files: Ravens are the mascot of the Dalimar family, particularly Alister, the patriarch. He has a loyal raven servant named Tanatos who does his bidding and flocks of the birds surround the Dalimar's derelict Ravenhearst estate. Basically, if the birds ever pop up in the games, then the Dalimars are somehow connected to the story.
  • Overwatch: Bastion's Halloween "Tombstone" skin swaps its usual songbird companion, Ganymede, for a crow.
  • Pokémon:
    • The Dark-type Pokémon Murkrow is said to be a harbinger of misfortune and lead lost travellers astray. Its evolved form Honchkrow commands a whole flock of them and brutally punishes those who fail a task.
    • Corviknight, the flying-and-steel-type raven with body armor that’s said to be the dominant bird in Galar’s skies and scares off any challengers. They aren’t quite as mean beneath the surface as Murkrow, though.
  • POPGOES: Stone the Crow invokes this trope by causing Strings to Freak Out whenever they see him on camera, with taunting messages cropping up in an attempt of filling the player's panic meter.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey: Mastema's design has huge black wings and dark skin in contrast to other, shinier Heralds, and is a very shady and amoral character (being the Angel of Hostility, bringer of the Ten Plagues and addressed in his Compendium info as the father of all evil really doesn't help his rep). In Shin Megami Tensei IV, he is often referred to as the Raven by the Archangels, and the quest issued to vanquish him is Great Raven of the Underground.
  • Spec Ops: The Line: Ravens generally illustrate the death and decay gripping Dubai - as Lugo says, "at least the ravens ain't gonna starve." They're often present when there's something off about a situation, such as Walker's choice between shooting a soldier or a water thief which turns out to be a hallucination. And some show up on the Evolving Title Screen's penultimate scene, picking at the corpse of the sniper who was perched in the foreground.
  • Strangeland: The stranger encounters two talking Ravens in his journey. The first gives him information about Strangeland, the second only speaks to an old man who writes down everything it says.
  • Sumire: The Crow Queen and her minions try to prevent Sumire from accomplishing her tasks.
  • Touhou: Utsuho Reiuji is a Cute Monster Hell Raven who wields the power to manipulate nuclear fusion and fission. Upon gaining this power, her first order of business was to convert an old version of hell into a nuclear reactor with the goal of conquering Gensoukyo.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: Ed attempts to pull of a 'scam' inspired by a comic book, which appears to be complete nonsense at first, but in the end of the episode, a huge flock of crows appears and does something to the Eds as the episode ends.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • "Family Appreciation Day": The signs of the zap apples' ripening include, besides howling wolves and sudden lightning storms, huge flocks of crows flying in unnaturally precise formations.
    • "Rock Solid Friendship": Pinkie Pie's arrival at Ghastly Gorge is accompanied by a murder of crows noisily taking flight, emphasizing the sinister nature of the place.
  • Ōban Star-Racers: Canaletto appears humanoid, but his head is bird-like, and it symbolises a bird of bad omen.
  • Samurai Jack: In Season 5, a murder of crows seems to taunt Jack after he kills the Daughters of Aku, minus Ashi.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Weekend at Burnsies": Homer destroys a scarecrow, gaining the loyalty of the crows it was meant to get rid of. They proceed to serve him loyally and possibly killed a few people until they nearly kill Maggie by accident. After that Homer tries to get rid of them, but they turn on him and hurt his eyes.
      Marge Simpson: Homer, I'm very uncomfortable having a gang of crows in our bedroom!
      Homer Simpson: It's a murder, honey. A group of crows is called a murder.
    • A crow call is often heard in establishing shots of the Springfield nuclear plant, perhaps as a sign of the ominous doings that often occur therein.
    • Treehouse of Horror: The first installment dies a version of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" with the raven looking like Bart.
  • The Smurfs: Balthazar's pet is a raven, which can be pretty scary for Smurfs as a bird of prey, aside from the fact that Balthazar is one of the few truly competent and scary Smurfs' villains.
  • Super Friends: In one episode, the Scarecrow, as a member of the Legion of Doom, uses crows to attack Batman and Robin, and in a later season keeps one as a pet.
  • Teen Titans: Ravens are used as a symbol of (take a wild guess) Raven. Given Raven's demonic nature and all-around creepiness, that definitely results in this trope.

    Real Life 
  • As well as being scavengers of carrion, crows are known for their large and visually striking funerals held for fellow crows and favored humans and pets.
  • Eyewitness accounts mentioned crows cawing outside the Mayerling hunting lodge as the Murder-Suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria and Baroness Mary Vetsera was discovered. Prior to this, Vetsera also wrote a letter to her governess that mentioned "a large bird, some kind of raven" flying at her head as she crossed a threshold in the Hofburg (Habsburg imperial palace) to meet with Rudolf, followed by Vetsera picking up the skull Rudolf kept on his desk and examining it. The letter ended with Vetsera saying that if her mother or sister heard about it, she would have to kill herself.
  • For some, the high intelligence of real-life crows and ravens can be more than a little unnerving. Some have even learned to speak like parrots.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Creepy Corvacians, Creepy Ravens, Evil Crows

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Evil Tim has Beckoned Them!

Ed's scam/curse summons a flock of crows

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