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Creepy Crows

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"In raven arithmetic, no death is enough."
Ghostweight by Yoon Ha Lee

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.


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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    Anime & Manga 
  • Uchiha Itachi in Naruto 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.
  • The main antagonist of Princess Tutu 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.
  • Crows frequently appear when something is about to go bad in Paranoia Agent. Which is all the time.
  • The 1st Patlabor 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.
  • There's a lovely example of this in the first ending for Death Note. Light is standing by water, surrounded by doves — except that his reflection is surrounded by crows instead.
  • A three-eyed crow demon is one of the first enemies that Inuyasha and Kagome encounter and it sort of kicks off the series.
  • Nii Jienyi of Saiyuki 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.
  • Gilbert Nightray of PandoraHearts has the Monstrous Raven as his Chain (read: demonic Eldritch Abomination monster) of choice. It attacks using blue flames.
  • In the My-HiME 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.
  • In 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.
  • Crow Jamian one of the Silver Saints in Saint Seiya. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • The 1977 Japanese animated short The Rose and Joe (Bara no Hana to 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.

  • 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 
  • Jonathan Crane of the Batman comics, 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. On the other hand, in one version of his origin, his Freudian Excuse involved his fanatically religious great-grandmother setting trained crows on him as a punishment.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hugin the white raven from Death Vigil 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.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • Murkrow in Pokédex 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.
  • Digimon Reboot: Averted with Tom's partner Poemon, who is an example of Dark Is Not Evil. She is normally painfully shy but becomes badass when she Digivolves.
  • In 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."

    Films — Animation 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ravens serve as the heralds of doom in The Secret of Kells for both Vikings and Crom Cruach.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The eponymous bird in Roger Corman's The Raven (1963) is an involuntarily shape-shifted wizard.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • In Wildwood by Colin Meloy, Prue's brother is kidnapped by a murder of crows.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Stuck at the Wheel, the gang led by The Shadow is named the Crows and their calling card is a black crow feather.
  • In Krabat, the boys are turned into ravens when they get lessons in (dark) magic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Tiecelin has a pet raven, Prophet, who can talk, but only knows one word: "Doom!"
  • 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".
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, the villainous Vicar Roberts has an albino raven for a familiar.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: The Brett Helquist covers show crows on them (two on the first cover).
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Justified's fifth season, crows are symbolically linked to the murderous Crowe family, flocking about the body of their first victim, Wade Messer.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Tom Waits: "Flash Pan Hunter/Intro", from The Black Rider, is a minute of a gloomy tune playing while crows caw.
  • Towards the end of Darke Complex's song Intrusive Thoughts crows are mentioned to gather round the narrator's dead body.
  • Katatonia have a few crow-like imagery on their album covers.
  • "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.
  • Gillian Welch's "The Way It Will Be".
    I can't say your name without a crow flying by

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Qur'an actually credits crows with teaching humans how to properly mourn and bury their dead.
  • 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 Danish traditionally believed that a raven who ate the flesh of a chieftain fallen in battle would gain superhuman powers and intelligence.


    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, another 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 
  • In 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.
  • Crows are common enemies in Bloodborne, they're 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.
  • In Hyper Light Drifter there is an entire cult of birds resembling corvids or vultures.
  • In the Castlevania franchise, these 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • League of Legends
    • Scary Scarecrow Fiddlesticks's ultimate ability is Crowstorm in which a whirlwind of deadly crows circle around him dealing massive damage. He also tosses a crow as another ability.
    • Swain has a demonic raven on his shoulder at all times. No one's really sure why it's there. One of Swain's abilities has it fire an Agony Beam, while his ultimate transforms Swain into a giant demonic man-raven.
  • Ominous crows hang around Northfield Cemetery in The Lost Crown, and crow motifs appear throughout the game.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • The crows are the only living things in Monument Valley other than the main character Ida (and Totem), which makes them pretty creepy despite being fairly minor obstacles.
  • In 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.
  • In 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.
  • The Dark-type Pokémon Murkrow is said to be a harbinger of misfortune and lead lost travellers astray. And then there's its evolved form Honchkrow, which commands a whole flock of them and brutally punishes those who fail a task.
  • In 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".
  • Banes in Armello look like monstrous, semi-skeletal corvids wreathed in a sickly purple glow.
  • Subverted as a gameplay mechanic in The Long Dark. 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.
  • Crows come up a lot in Fahrenheit; 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.
  • 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.
  • All of the enemies in Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg are made up of evil crows that caused The Night That Never Ends.
  • cat planet features crows that will follow the player to try to kill them in the final section.
  • Stone the Crow of POPGOES 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.
  • 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.
  • There's a raven on the family crests you collect in Darkest Dungeon, 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 Bonus 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.
  • Dual Blades and Slashers: The Power Battle: Shin is an Ax-Crazy Serial Killer who can summon crows to aid him in battle.
  • Ravens are very common wildlife throughout the settings of Dead by Daylight, 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.
  • Overwatch: Bastion's Halloween "Tombstone" skin swaps its usual songbird companion, Ganymede, for a crow.
  • In 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.

    Web Animation 

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Ōban Star-Racers: Canaletto appears humanoid, but his head is bird-like, and it symbolises a bird of bad omen.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The plot of one episode has Homer destroy 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.
  • In one episode of SuperFriends, 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.
  • In 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.
  • In Season 5 of Samurai Jack, a murder of crows seems to taunt Jack after he kills the Daughters of Aku, minus Ashi.
  • In 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.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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


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