Follow TV Tropes


Cunning Like a Fox

Go To

Pvt. Baldric: Don't worry sir, I have a cunning plan.
Cpt. Blackadder: Is it as cunning as a fox that's just been appointed professor of cunning at Oxford University?

Foxes occupy a unique place among Animal Stereotypes. They can be good guys, bad guys, or completely neutral, but they're always crafty, clever, and cunning. Their sly nature sometimes results in illegal activities, so it's not uncommon to see them portrayed as thieves or con artists; in other words, they're a classic Trickster Archetype. Although it is not unknown for them to be too clever; another term for Too Clever by Half is "outfoxing yourself". Sometimes this trope is invoked under the phrase "crazy like a fox" for when the brilliant plan seems crazy to anyone who isn't quite as brilliant. They're sometimes your adventurous Canine Companion.

This stereotype is, to some extent, Truth in Television: Foxes do live in family groups like wolves, though they tend to hunt by themselves, and they are more known for stealing farm animals in the dark of the night than outright attacking them in broad daylight. The "crazy like a fox" part has roots in real fox behavior as well; red foxes have been known to jump around and act crazy to entice curious rabbits into coming closer.

If the work in question is East Asian (or inspired by any East Asian culture), expect the fox to be a magical creature with the same stereotype of guile and trickery associated with it.

Compare Fantastic Foxes, which combines this archetype with a touch of the supernatural, and Foul Fox, for when foxes are outright cruel or evil. Compare further Those Wily Coyotes, for another stereotypically clever wild canine, and Rascally Rabbit, Rascally Raccoon, Sneaky Spider, and Stealthy Cephalopod for other trickster animals. It's not uncommon to pitch a Rascally Rabbit against a cunning fox, with the two of them trying to outsmart each other. Not to be confused with a certain Desert Fox, even if he was quite a cunning one. Also not to be confused with a Silver Fox.

See also Foxy Vixen, the other major stereotype associated with foxes.


    open/close all folders 

  • "Mr. Fox, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" Though in a subversion, he actually admits that he's less well-informed than Mr. Turtle and Mr. Owl.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Fenneko from Aggretsuko is a fenneck fox. She used this trope to help Retsuko at times. She also keeps tabs on fellow worker Tsunoda.
  • Bleach: Ichimaru Gin gets nicknamed "Fox Face" by Ichigo fairly early on. He has proceeded to earn that nickname throughout the series.
  • Similarly, Tamamo from Hell Teacher Nube is a youko, a "sorcerer fox" whose natural form is as an enormous half-fox, half-human demon who removes human skulls from his victim in order to assume a true human form. Very, very cunning as well.
  • Hyper Police: Kyuubi-fox Sakura is an 8-and-1/5 tailed version. She tends to fall into Too Clever by Half role.
  • Kamisama Kiss: Tomoe is a Little Bit Beastly fox demon. While most of the time he is a regular asshole, he is both intelligent and cunning.
  • Mononoke: The Medicine Peddler, but you'll only notice if you're ready to read between the lines quite a bit. His Kitsune-mask-like face is not the only reason for this comparison — but it certainly helps.
  • Naruto: The titular character has a fox-monster spirit inside him. He has come up with some diabolical Indy Ploys to get him through tough fights.
  • Pom Poko: Kitsune were driven from their homes the exact same way tanuki are, by human cities expanding into their hills and forests. However, instead of declaring all-out war on humans like the tanuki do, kitsune found a more cunning solution. They used their transformation skills to become humans and live in their society. You can still distinguish them by their pointy, angular faces that vaguely resemble a fox's snout. This refers to the Japanese term 'kitsune kao', and traditionally someone with those features is held to be this clever. The opposite is a round, wide face, 'tanuki kao', which makes sense, considering the end of the film.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Megumi is often compared to a fox, being nicknamed Kitsune-onna (fox lady) by Sanosuke and others, having fox ears pop up above her head, and one memorable Imagine Spot by Saitou.
  • Seymour "Big" Cheese from Samurai Pizza Cats is a conniving Evil Chancellor who is constantly scheming to take over Little Tokyo. He was designed to be an anthropomorphic fox in the original Japanese version, however, the English dub refers to him as a rat despite not changing his foxlike design.
  • Kurama from YuYu Hakusho is a fox demon possessing the body of a human boy. He's as cunning as the trope would indicate. He always used to be a lot more a jerkass than he is now. His arms and legs were once paralyzed during a fight. He still wins. Later all of his plant powers are sealed inside his body. He wins by wounding himself on the enemy's blade and planting seeds into the open wound.

    Comic Books 
  • Reynard from Fables, who may be the original trickster fox.
  • John Constantine the Hellblazer was described as a fox by God himself.
  • Kitsune from Usagi Yojimbo. She is a fox, but "Kitsune" is her artist name, not her real one. Averted with Jizonobu, the original incarnation of Jei, who is less "cunning" and more "pants-shittingly terrifying powerhouse".
  • The Dutch comic Tom Poes has a recurring The Barnum character, Joris Goedbloed, who is a fox.
  • Paulus de Boskabouter: Reintje is a very sneaky and cunning fox.
  • The eponymous main character of the Danish comic Hieronymus Borsch is a fox. He is smart but thinks he is smarter and is often hindered by his many psychological weaknesses more than by This Week's Murderer.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Ireyon in Danish Paperinik stories fits the clichés, since she is a cunning thief who runs a Robin Hood-like operation of taking from the rich and giving to the poor. (Fun fact: in some of her appearances, the artist was Mårdön Smed, who is the creator of Hieronymus Borsch, above.)
  • Avoided with most fox characters in Bamse, who aren't very sly or cunning. But played completely straight with the rather recent Reinard, who is a crafty villain more or less introduced because most "bad guys" in the comic had deteriorated to the point they only worked as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains.
  • Diabolik has Altea's uncle Fabio Von Waller, that for a long time was only known as Altea's Uncle, The Fox and Altea's Fox Uncle. He's possibly the most intelligent and cunning character in the series, with his debut having him getting Diabolik easily arrested (with him being savvy enough that, had he been in command, Diabolik would have been 'accidentally' shot in the process in case Diabolik somehow escaped Ginko's latest measures to keep him caught until execution, as he in fact did) and his latest appearance at the time of this writing showing him easily manipulating Diabolik (a Chessmaster on his own) into killing a group of terrorists and keeping Diabolik under surveillance just to enjoy the show. For obvious reasons, he doesn't appear often.
    • On one occasion he was suspected of murder, with enough evidence to actually arrest him. The investigating officers, however, knew it was a frame-up the very simple reason that if it had been him, they wouldn't even know it had been a murder.
  • Rikk from Tellos is a trickster thief and Lovable Rogue. That said, many of the characters argue that he isn't quite as clever as he likes to think he is.

    Comic Strips 
  • Slylock Fox features a cunning fox detective. Even his name is a pun on "sly".
  • Pogo had Seminole Sam, a con-man. He tended to wobble between antagonist and neutral.
    • He partially subverts the trope, since he was often out-bamboozled by the superior brains and cunning of his intended victims.
  • The opera The Cunning Little Vixen was based on an early comic strip with a similar premise.

    Fan Works 
  • Reynard, the Big Bad of Born to Be Wilde is a cunning and manipulative villain who manages to near-singlehandedly take down every mob boss in his city and absorb their men and resources into his own crime empire. He evades numerous encounters with law enforcement, carries out mass construction plans in broad daylight and gets away with it, and manages to hold his own in combat as well thanks to his multi-tool Sword Cane and wits. All of this is natural, given who he's related to, and by the end its revealed that nearly every single action he took throughout the story was in service of a singular master plan that ensured his son looked like a hero to the city. His adoptive daughter, however, averts this entirely, being incompetent at best and The Starscream on the side.
  • Blud misuses this phrase in Light and Dark The Adventures of Dark Yagami.
  • The "too clever" variant tends to happen to the fox-themed Lila Rossi in Miraculous Ladybug fanfics:
    • In How to Catch a Ladybug Lila discovers that Marinette, who she has just befriended and genuinely likes, is Ladybug... And, due to her bad first encounter with the superheroine, immediately convinces herself that Marinette is a horrible person and the most formidable actress she has ever met, desperately trying to fit any evidence of the contrary in her view of Marinette.
    • In The Grand Deception Lila, deciding that if Ladybug and Chat Noir couldn't take Hawk Moth down in a year is time that someone else gives it a try, puts together a masterful plan to do just that, and is being successful. But as she knows it could go wrong, she decides to get a backup in case something happens and tells about it to someone she trusts and how she must not tell it to Ladybug or Chat Noir or it will fail, as the plan includes deceiving them... Except her chosen back-up is Marinette, thus dooming the plan herself.
  • Dufayel, the Big Bad of Old West, is an intelligent upper-class fox who employs crafty schemes (both legal and illegal) in his campaign to claim for himself the gold under the town of Mud. Unfortunately for him, he thinks he has planned everything to his advantage whenever he makes his moves, leading him to underestimate the heroes' cleverness and resilience at crucial moments.
  • In To Belong, Aurora's animorphism form is a red fox. She and her boyfriend Dimitri are thieves who trick people. Aurora uses her looks to attract men.
  • Zorua Trainer: Due to being a Zorua, this version of Ash Ketchum certainly qualifies; as he uses his illusions to trick many people, even his own trainer Delia at times.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Robin Hood (1973): Disney rather appropriately turned Robin Hood into a fox for the animated movie. Maid Marian is also a fox, which leads to the amusing inversion of a chicken guarding a fox (her duenna is a white hen).
    • Pinocchio features a trickster fox, just like the original novel (see Literature).
    • The Fox and the Hound played with it, in part because the fox starts out as a pup. He did avoid getting killed on a hunt on more than one occasion.
    • Zootopia has Nick Wilde, who's a fox con artist. As it turns out, this plays into his backstory: when he was a child, he wanted to be a Junior Ranger Scout but was bullied and muzzled by the other scouts for being a fox and considered untrustworthy. At that point, he decided that if others were going to consider him sneaky and untrustworthy just for being a fox then he might as well be just that. Finnick, his partner in crime is also a fox, specifically a fennec who exploits his small size and being a Ridiculously Cute Critter in hustles by pretending to be a child. Averted with Gideon, however: Although he is also a fox, Gideon is poor at critical and lateral thinking, though he has a keen memory.
  • The title character of Vuk the Little Fox regularly outsmarts humans once he's grown up.
  • The main villain of Wilbur's Great Adventure, a Direct to Video sequel to Charlotte's Web, is a fox named Farley, who even gets a Villain Song about how cunning he is. His main goal is to eat Cardigan the black sheep, luckily the little lamb takes cues from Wilbur by headbutting him to escape during the third act.
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox: Fox, an incorrigible chicken thief (see also Literature).
  • The Plague Dogs: The film version (see Literature) has the fox in the same role as in the novel, with a disarmingly guileful Geordie (i.e. Newcastle) accent.
  • Wolf Children: An old fox, a guardian of the mountain, becomes Ame's sensei, teaching him everything he needs to learn about the wild. Near the end of the movie, the old fox gets flattened by a falling tree, leaving Ame to leave his human life behind and live as a wolf and the mountain's new guardian.
  • The direct-to-video film The Adventures of Brer Rabbit features its version of Br'er Fox as the main villain of the movie.
  • In The Bad Guys (2022), Governor Diane Foxington, a red fox, at first appears to be an aversion of this; she's framed as a trusted, heroic and beloved politician in contrast to the Bad Guys. It's later revealed that she was once the Crimson Paw, one of the greatest thieves of all time. During what was supposed to be the biggest heist in her career, she was too ashamed to pull it off due to living up to the stereotypes of foxes being thieving tricksters, and left her criminal career behind..
  • The Tale of the Fox (French: Le Roman de Renard), by Ladislas Starevich, composed in (1929–1930), is a stop-motion animated film of the cycle Reynard the Fox (see below, in Folklore and Literature). See also in the Referenced by... page.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Song of the South features Br'er Fox, who is the main villain of the animated segments. He's clever enough to think up a Tar Baby (trapping Br'er Rabbit with his own temper) but isn't as clever as he thinks he is — something Br'er Rabbit can use to his advantage and does.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: The fox is definitely pretty cunning. He manages to outsmart a couple of wolves by giving them the wrong direction.
  • Mary Poppins features a fox that needs rescuing from a foxhunt, but once safely on a merry-go-round horse will mock his pursuers - a common criticism of the Guile Hero is that he is, in essence, a coward.

  • Br'er Fox is a common opponent to Br'er Rabbit in Joel Chandler Harris's Br'er Rabbit Tales. As is typical of folk stories, sometimes Br'er Fox wins, sometimes he's outsmarted.
  • In Far East folklore, interpretation of the Asian Fox Spirit can vary, but most of them treat foxes as cunning, deceptive, and extremely intelligent shapeshifters and schemers that prefer to take the form of an attractive young woman to seduce the obviously-innocent man (modern interpretations also include the inverse happening), and possess up to nine tails.
  • European folklore:
    • Reynard the Fox is a classic Trickster Archetype from French folklore. Classic enough to rename the whole species after himself. (Before that, the French word for "fox" was "goupil").
    • The fox (usually female) is most always a sly trickster in Russian folklore and works based on it.
    • In "Kolobok", a living round bread who had managed to escape an old man and his wife, a hare, a wolf, and a bear, was easily tricked by a fox and eaten. (This is a variant of The Gingerbread Man where the living cookie is also tricked into being eaten by a clever fox.)
    • If a fox shows up in a Scandinavian folktale, you know that it's going to at some point trick or at least deceive someone in an amusing way — and if a bear shows up in the same story, it's going to be the victim. There are several tales dedicated purely to the tricky rascal fox tricking and outwitting the simple-minded dimwit of a bear in various ways. (This is so common that the one story where the bear comes out on top Lampshades the entire thing by pointing out that this time the bear was the clever one, even if he's usually Too Dumb to Live.)
    • A common punchline in Hungarian fairy tales is that a fox manages to trick several people (usually of a Slavic ethnicity) until he's double-crossed by a Szekler, who are also known for their wits and unusually non-conventional way of thinking.
    • Aesop's Fables, probably the Ur-Example:
    • The fox's place in British folklore is as a trickster similar to other cultures. However, it has a special emphasis because aristocrats began hunting them when the boar were played out. In Anglo-American culture, the term fox is often given to warriors renowned for cunning. Manfred Rommel, in the intro to one history, said he thought the lion would better fit his father Erwin Rommel. But the British preferred the fox.

  • Nightfall (Series): Prince Vladimir is a villainous example. He can outsmart all of his opponents while tricking them into doing exactly what he wants them to do.
  • The Magic Garden had a fox known as "Crafty Fox".
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. A children's classic wherein a fox and his family help the rest of the burrowing creatures rob three evil farmers.
  • The foxes in Redwall tend to be much more into subterfuge than all the other bad-guy species, which often veers into Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, especially when they're the main villains of the book.
  • Le Roman de Rénart is an anthology of tales about a cunning fox called Renart who outwits other animals (see the Folklore folder above). Those stories were satires of medieval society at the time it was written. They were loosely adapted into an animated series, Moi Renart.
  • In Dick King-Smith's books, especially The Foxbusters (an Affectionate Parody of The Dam Busters), foxes are occasionally portrayed as cunning. But this is decidedly secondary to their main characteristic of being vile Nazi stand-ins. (King-Smith, unlike most of the authors here, was a farmer...)
  • Mat Cauthon from The Wheel of Time is associated with the fox as part of his trickster archetype. He has a fox head medallion that makes him invulnerable to the One Power and his signet ring has a fox scattering ravens. He is sometimes clever but at other times a bit of a buffoon.
  • Carlo Collodi's novel Adventures Of Pinocchio features a con-artist fox.
  • So does its Russian adaptation by A.Tolstoy, The Adventures of Buratino.
  • Some versions of the The Odyssey have Circe saying that a fox would be a fitting animal for Odysseus, what with him being a Guile Hero. She says this because she's a sorceress who frequently does Forced Transformations.
  • Daniel P. Mannix's The Fox and the Hound has the fox Tod constantly outsmarting the hunter pursuing him. He's not even anthropomorphic.
  • Mr. Croup from Neverwhere is characterised extensively with fox-related imagery and is generally the more cunning of he and his associate, Mr. Vandemar, who's more oafish and is compared to a wolf or a hound in the same way.
  • Lord Russel the fox in The Book of the Dun Cow is a chatty but well-meaning fellow who is, in an interesting case of Carnivore Confusion, a firm ally of the rooster hero, Chauntecleer.
  • The crafty female tribute "Foxface" in The Hunger Games is described by Katniss as sly and elusive. Foxface demonstrated her cleverness by figuring out the path into the Careers' supply pyramid and reaching the bulk of supplies, takes an unnoticeable amount of food, and then runs back to the safety of the woods.
  • Tom McCaughren's Run With the Wind and its five sequels (think Watership Down but with Irish foxes instead of British rabbits). All of them are depicted as being cleverer than any of the other animals but a few are crafty even for foxes, like Old Sage Brush, a blind Trickster Mentor or Hop-Along, who uses an eclipse to fool a hare into thinking he can leap high enough to take a bite of the moon.
  • In Andre Norton's Catseye, two Uplifted Animals are foxes.
  • In The Prince, Niccolň Machiavelli said that princes must be like this, as well as fight like lions.
    A prince, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves. Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what they are about.
  • In C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces, the Greek slave bought as a tutor is called "the Fox" for it.
  • Silas Fennec, villain, spy and Manipulative Bastard from The Scar by China Miéville.
  • In Polish children's book Little Orphan Mary and the Gnomes by Maria Konopnicka, a fox is clever enough to trick a naive gnome scholar that he is also a great scholar because of the collection of goose feathers (allegedly quills) he has.
  • The Spanish word for "fox" is Zorro. And while better known for his swordsmanship, Zorro is just as cunning.
  • The fox in The Plague Dogs helps the protagonists survive in the wild and avoid the humans chasing them. Without his help, they probably would have either starved or been caught.
  • Dogs, wolves and foxes don't get along in Survivors. They're related enough to understand one another but they're too different to get along. Foxes are seen by dogs as "feral and wily and savage". Foxes are sneaky and some are malicious, such as the gray foxes that double-cross Bella in the first book and try to eat Moon's pups, but they're not inherently evil.
  • Smirre the fox in The Wonderful Adventures of Nils. He only appears a few times in the book but becomes a recurring antagonist in the anime, constantly stalking the geese.
  • Subverted in Stray. Pufftail makes fun of this trope after narrowly escaping being killed by a fox. He considers foxes to be barely smarter than dogs and needlessly savage compared to cats.
  • Agent Fox from The Bad Guys is a mysterious fox agent and member of the International League of Heroes, a secret organization of heroes that helps the main characters in situations. She's clever and brave, but it's hinted that she has a similar past to the main four as well. It was later revealed in "Superbad" that her parents were killed by hunters when she was a little girl, and the grief caused her to fall into a rebellious phase, until she met the other members of the International League of Heroes, bonded over their similar troubles, and then made a vow to become heroes.
  • In the Amaranthine Saga, Foxes are noted as being among the trickster clans, and several characters warn Tsumiko about their devious natures. Argent is a silver fox and Guile Hero, and matches up against a pair of vixen who try to be devious but are outclassed by him.
  • The protagonist of Hunter's Moon (1989) is a clever fox vixen named O-ha who lives in the English wilderness.
  • In the children's book Hilda and Richie, the fox pup Richie plays this trope straight. After making a mess with bubble gum, he figures out a way to prevent any more messes in the future.
  • The Sandman: The Dream Hunters: The kitsune is confident she can catch a baku to save her love because foxes are crafty creatures. She succeeds and later avenges him by elaborately seducing his enemy and causing his downfall.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Crazy Like a Fox: Named after a variation of the trope, describes the lead Harry Fox, a crafty private eye with red hair.
  • Criminal Minds: Serial Killer Karl Arnold's official nickname is "The Fox". Coincidentally, he is red-haired.
    • "The Fox" is also the name of the episode he was in back in season one and he returns in a season five episode called "Outfoxed".
  • Blackadder: Goes Forth gives us the page quote, in question to Baldrick's (final?) cunning plan.
    • Becomes a brick joke at the end of Blackadder Back & Forth:
      Blackadder: Baldrick, I have a very, very, very cunning plan.
      Baldrick: Is it as cunning as a fox what used to be Professor of Cunning at Oxford University but has since moved on, and is now working for the UN at the High Commission of International Cunning Planning?
      Blackadder: Yes, it is.
      Baldrick: (Impressed) Mmm!... That's cunning!
  • One of the past lives of Clark Kent on Lois & Clark was as "The Fox," a Robin Hood/Zorro type hero. (Zorro is the Spanish word for "fox.")
  • The Swamp Fox, a Disney mini-series that ran for eight episodes as part of the Walt Disney Presents series in 1959, featuring Leslie Nielsen before he was known for comedy as American Revolutionary War general Francis Marion, nicknamed "The Swamp Fox". Its theme song remarks: "Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat, Nobody knows where the Swamp Fox at; Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, hiding in the glen, He'll ride away to fight again."
    • In real life, General Francis Marion was noted for his extensive use of guerrilla warfare and maneuver warfare which was considered unorthodox for its time, and was noted for quick surprise attacks against the British and equally quick withdrawal from the field. He also managed to elude the British forces by travelling along the South Carolina swamp paths.
  • Don Diego de la Vega, better known as Zorro, who fought for justice back in the olden days when California was still a Spanish colony; as a Bilingual Bonus, "zorro" means "fox" in Spanish, which is even referenced by the theme song of the 1950's series: "Zorro, the fox so cunning and free..."
  • Rosalee in Grimm is a fox-like Wesen and is very cunning.

  • "The Fox" by Nickel Creek, is about a fox who steals a goose.
  • "Raven" ('Foxwoman') by Hedningarma is the song of a wicked shape-shifting vixen who lures men to their deaths.
  • "The Fox" by Steeleye Span is about an urban fox who can outwit the hunt, leading them into the town where it knows the terrain and they don't.
    You can hound me, now you've found me,
    But I'm far more cunning than you.
    I'm a shy fox, I'm a sly fox,
    And I'll teach you a lesson or two.
  • CG5: Double subverted in "Let Me Through." Throughout the song, different versions of Foxy (A Hostile Animatronic fox) want to get into the security guard's room, presumably to kill him. The Foxys spend most of the song wandering aimlessly and attacking other animatronics, seemingly just to get them out of the way. However, Funtime Foxy eventually gets the idea to find the circuit breaker and turn off the power so he can get into the security room. Unlike the other Foxys, he succeeds.

  • English poet and composer Richard Edwards likens sliness to foxes in his poem "The Word Party":
    Rude words sniff and pick their noses,
    Sly words come dressed up as foxes,
    Short words stand on cardboard boxes

  • In The Space Gypsy Adventures main characters Gemma and Damien Mildury are a brother-sister pair of anthropomorphized vulpine con artists.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Kitsune: Of Foxes and Fools the players are mystical foxes who compete with one another by playing tricks on foolish mortals. "Wits" is actually one of the key stats.
  • Hanse Davion of BattleTech was known as The Fox during the days of his rule, and he proved more than deserving of the name; some of the setting's most brilliant plotting can be laid at his feet, not the least of which was laying the groundwork to unify two major realms and nearly conquer a third.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons, the basic ability-boosting spells are all named after animals. The spell that grants a bonus to Intelligence is called fox's cunning.
  • The Delver's Guide to Beast World: Vulpines get a bonus to Intelligence and a once-per-day Sherlock Scan ability. However, Varasta, the God of Chaos, Gambling, and Nature is commonly known as the "Idiot Dice Fox" because of his habit of manifesting a vulpine avatar and leaving the odds of the Beast World's survival in a casino bathroom where somebody might read it and destroy their mind.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Pipefoxes are a variation, in that they're clever and sneaky (the sneaky part being helped by the fact that they are very small creatures), but more scholarly than tricky.
    • Pathfinder also has kitsune as a playable race, who fulfill the "quick-witted trickster" stereotype.
    • Fading foxes are the result of centuries of selective breeding and judicious use of magic by Taldori nobles and their huntmasters to create increasingly challenging and exotic quarry, resulting in cunning, elusive, and agile creatures seemingly capable of bypassing any trap or barrier and eluding any pursuit. To the nobles, they're some of the finest quarries in the nation. Taldori peasants are considerably less thrilled; to them, the foxes are fiendishly cunning pests that can find their way into any henhouse, and they're legally prohibited from stopping the foxes since only nobles are allowed to hunt them.
  • Crimestrikers, which is set on a World of Funny Animals called Creaturia, pits several clever foxes against each other. The Hero Diana Mastron is leader of the titular team, which also includes Genius Bruiser Hendrik Alquist. The Crimestrikers fight the international crime syndicate Outrage, which is led by Big Bad Vance Coffin; one of his main advisers is Diana's Archnemesis Dad, Walter Mastron.

  • The Cunning Little Vixen (Příhody lišky Bystroušky), best known as an opera by Leoš Janáček, tells the story of a vixen who is orphaned as a cub, captured by a forester, but eventually escapes, tricks a badger into leaving his hole and taking it for her own, finds and marries a handsome fox, and raises a family of cunning children.
  • Referenced in The Taming of the Shrew when Gremio refers to himself as "an old Italian fox". Ironically, Gremio is a rather foolish character (being based on the Commedia dell'Arte character of the "pantaloon"), and at that point in the play, he's trying to talk down Tranio—a true trickster who's already thought circles around him.

    Video Games 
  • Renard Vulpes in Aviary Attorney is a very shady private investigator who takes up numerous names and guises. When the defense attorney that saved him from execution wants intelligence, he demands a hefty payment for every scrap of information, and when a much-disliked figure comes to him for his help in 'disappearing', Vulpes takes a ten thousand franc fee and gives him a very shoddy disguise and transparently false name. On the other hand, he's willing to help poor citizens quite extensively without mention of compensation, right down to needing said defense attorney.
  • Balan Wonderworld: Subverted. Box Fox, a fox costume, has a wizard outfit, implying that it knows some powerful spells. As it turns out, its only ability is turning into an unmoving box, and it can't even control when this happens.
  • In Everybody Edits Flash, the Flavor Text for the Fox describes it as sly.
  • Vulpes Inculta (Latin for "Desert Fox") of Fallout: New Vegas is The Spymaster of Caesar's Legion.
  • Foxy the Pirate Fox from Five Nights at Freddy's series is a villainous example, often having a trick up his sleeves that forces the player to watch out for him specifically.
    Foxy: Never underestimate the cunning of a pirate! Or a fox, for that matter!
  • Inkulinati features humanoid foxes as some of the Beasts your Inkulinati can draw in battle. They're weaker than some other units that fill their roles in battle, but in keeping with the fox's stereotype as a trickster, they can steal ink from the enemy.
  • In the Lonely Wolf Treat series, Moxie at least tries to be the most proactive member of the fox gang, while her friends are all too lazy to put any significant effort into whatever scheme Moxie comes up with. When she runs into money troubles in the third game (appropriately titled Clever Fox Moxie), she manages to establish a small hotel business through sheer improvisation, and the fox gang is able to scrape by for a while. However, Moxie's friends soon become tired of running the hotel and decide to move out, forcing Moxie to close up shop due to lack of employees.
  • Ōkami: Dark Lord Ninetails is an evil fox that spends more time on complex plots than most of the other villains.
  • Pokémon:
    • Zorua and its evolution Zoroark from Pokémon Black and White are based on Kitsune. The former is even called the Tricky Fox Pokemon.
    • Pokémon Red and Blue has Vulpix and Ninetales, which were also Kitsune-based.
    • Pokémon X and Y has Fennekin, which appears to be based on a fennec fox. Its evolutions Braixen and Delphox take it even further as they're also based on Kitsune-themed wizards.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield introduce Nickit and Thievul, two Dark-type Fox Pokemon who are described as cunning thieves in the Pokedex.
  • Invoked by Wheatley in Portal 2. At least, halfway invoked. "Brain-damaged... like a fox!"
  • Subverted with Carmelita Fox from the Sly Cooper series. She's a By-the-Book Cop all the way through, which probably explains why she's always getting outsmarted by Sly and his gang.
  • Downplayed with Tails from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Despite being a Child Prodigy with a knack for building gadgets, his otherwise humble personality prevents him from actually being cunning most of the time.

    Web Animation 
  • Kajortoq of No Evil doesn't show it often, it would be beneath her, but she does have a Trickster streak as one jackalope salesman discovers when he tries to pull one over on her.
  • Four Osratouna TV song videos feature a fox named Tha'loob who tries to be this but fails to fool anyone. In two of them ("In the house of the female squirrel" Part 1 and 2), he tries to get the squirrel kids to let him in by pretending to be various people but they figure out it's him because of his voice. In another ("Kukoo the farmer's rooster") he tries to convince the titular rooster to take a break claiming he'll fill in for him in order to get to the chickens but Kukoo figures out his intentions as well. Averted in the fourth video (Tha'loob the thief) where he just tries to break into the bird's house by breaking the door, prying the wood or breaking the window.


    Web Original 
  • SCP-953 is a very, very nasty nine-tailed Kumiho. She once slaughtered 27 people at a furry convention, and the first time a group of agents cornered her, she used Master of Illusion abilities and a Yamato Nadeshiko act to horribly murder all of them except the one Korean agent on the team; the rest assumed that she was a kitsune and fell for it badly. Yeah, she's smart. Really smart. In the most disgusting, horrifying way possible.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Moi Renart is an animated series loosely based on the Le Roman de Renart tales (see Literature and Folklore). Featuring much more anthropomorphic animals than the original work, Renart is a cunning fox who goes to make a living in Paris.
  • Gargoyles featured a character known as Fox (birth name "Janine Renard"). Though her husband Xanatos is better known than she is for trickery, she's had her moments. Also notable is that among the canid Theme Naming of her old team, the Pack, her name represents the only one that isn't a pack animal.
  • Junjie, one of the antagonists from Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, is a devious trickster of a fox who resents Shifu for being chosen as master of the Jade Palace instead of him. He is ready to use deception and sneak attacks to exploit his opponents' weaknesses. He prefers not to get his paws dirty but lets his snow leopard mooks do the rough stuff.
    • Mei Ling the Rogue, Shifu's one-time love interest, has a flirtatious and devious personality, even though she's aware that a romantic relationship between her and Shifu can never be, even willingly going to jail after Junjie blackmailed her into stealing the Imperial Crown.
  • Reginald Fox from the Tex Avery MGM short, "Out-Foxed" was not only clever but a Stiff Upper Lip mixed with a Karmic Trickster, with an added touch of Sophisticated as Hell.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer Simpson tries to invoke this while trying to get Springfield's lemon tree back from Shelbyville's car impound, responding to the man in charge saying "Bust in here and take it?! You must be stupider than you look!" with "Stupider like a fox!" and immediately attempting to climb over the fence, right in front of them. He fails.
    • In another episode, Homer smuggles illegal booze in hollow bowling balls and gutters each one (so a contraption can carry them to Moe's bar). Bart sarcastically comments on how much Homer sucks, prompting him to reply "suck like a fox!" It is indeed one of the most elaborate and successful schemes he's carried out.
  • Dora the Explorer: "Swiper, no swiping."
  • Fox of The Animals of Farthing Wood.
  • The Knowledge Seekers from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • Trope averted in the Columbia studio's The Fox and the Crow cartoons, where the fox is kind of prissy, naive, and a constant patsy to the trickster crow.
  • Two examples from Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Lila Rossi is turned in the fox-themed supervillain Volpina, with her only power, inspired by the Fox Miraculous, being hyperrealistic illusions that dispel with touch. Thanks to her cunning, she's one of Hawk Moth's most successful minions, getting Ladybug to surrender twice thanks to judicious use of her powers and only failing due to unrelated events she had no way to anticipate exposing her illusions for what they were.
    • Rena Rouge, the actual (temporary) holder of the Fox Miraculous, proves her cunning in her first outing, taking a single illusion to distract the Sapotis long enough for Ladybug to defeat them.
  • Used in the Wartime Cartoon Education for Death, by the Nazi teacher who tells a story of a fox cornering and eating a rabbit to teach an Aesop about Might Makes Right. When Hans expresses sympathy for the "poor rabbit", the teacher admonishes him; the whole point of the lesson is that German boys should always aspire to be the fox - they should always aspire to be predators.
    Narrator: He said, "The poor rabbit." Has he lost his mind?
  • The Fox was the con-artist nemesis of the Hunter on King Leonardo and His Short Subjects. Towards the end of each episode, the Hunter would bumble his way into exposing the Fox's schemes.

Alternative Title(s): Everythings Foxier With Foxes