Originally, Druids were one sect of the Celtic priesthood. Because they practiced their rites in the wilderness in great secrecy, and wrote nothing about what they did, little is known about them. Most historical accounts are from the writings of their enemies, who rarely qualify as reliable sources. For centuries, the lack of concrete information about the druids has made them convenient for imaginary priesthoods, ranging from wise and patriotic leaders of resistance against Roman conquest, all the way to bloodthirsty practioners of Human Sacrifice.
In modern fiction, "Druid" is typically used for nature-themed magic-users that usually have flavour of priesthood, especially if they hail from pre-Christian Europe (or fantastical equivalent). Unlike standard issue Fighter, Mage, Thief or well-defined concepts such as The Paladin, druid capabilities may vary highly based on setting, although in principle it's a very broad spectrum: their powers govern just about everything connected to living things and unliving manifestations of nature and may include:
- Animal empathy. Druids will be able to sense the presence of animals and may be able to sense their temperament and actions.
- Speaking with animals and plants, allowing them to question unsuspected witnesses or to ask for a small favour, just for example. Druids may also have a Cool Pet because of this.
- Communicating with nature spirits (feyfolk, place spirits, and so on).
- Herbology, the art of making potions and poisons from natural ingredients.
- Healing and restoration magic, allowing them to tend wounds, cure poisons and cleanse (or spread) disease.
- Weather manipulation, ranging from lightning, winds, rains and so on to causing major disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.
- Resistance or immunity to said weather hazards.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting.
- Taking on animal abilities.
- An extended lifespan, often without the infirmities associated with old age.
- And in general being the Jack-of-All-Trades.
However, druids also typically have common weaknesses:
- Getting their powers to work in urban areas or generally places where nature is absent.
- Using or combating advanced technological and mechanical devices.
- Dealing with creatures which exist outside the natural order of things, such as demons or undead.
A common feature of druids is their dedication to the concept of nature as a whole rather than to specific nature deities (though there are exceptions) and to "preserving the balance of nature", which may invoke True Neutral or Heroic Neutral tendencies. However, due to their reverence of nature and life and their opposition to greed and the wanton destruction of nature, druids generally tend to fall into the "good" side of good vs. evil conflicts. Evil druids are a very small minority, but are certainly possible: villainous druids might be "infected" by their natural instincts and be wild, cruel and indifferent characters, they might be a kind of Knight Templar or Evil Luddite who would seek to tear down the corrupting weakness and hedonism they see in civilisation and reclaim the land for the wilds, they might even be predatory Social Darwinists.
- Shaman King: Pino Graham happens to be a druid from Ireland.
- The Seven Deadly Sins holds druids in contrast to the sorcerers and holy knights of the various kingdoms. Druids follow the legacy of the Goddess clan, revering nature and practicing powerful healing magic.
- Mare Bello Fiore of Overlord is the nature manipulating type, and he's ridiculously powerful. Definitely not something you'd expect from a submissive elf boy.
- From Asterix comes Getafix, whose greatest achievement is a potion which grants superhuman strength to whoever drinks it.
- Superman foe Blackbriar Thorn is a druid who turned himself to wood in order to escape Roman forces. Revived in the modern day, he uses his plant-based magic to wreak havoc.
- Marvel Comics features Doctor Druid, Precursor Hero to Doctor Strange, as well as his half-human son Sebastian.
- Villainous Marvel druids include Dredmond the Druid.
- It was druids chafing under the rule of the English and their Norman mercenaries that precipitated the events in Isabellae (Stalker with a Test Tube, The Chosen One, The Legions of Hell etc.) a European comic brought to North America by Dark Horse. The druids for the most part avert many of the above tropes (they have healthy respect for nature, but certainly don't worship it, their religious beliefs lie with the old gods of Ireland and the even older Fomorian deities) and they fall on the evil side of the spectrum but that's from extreme nationalism and hunger for power.
- Codex Equus: This is prevalent among the Alvslog Deer herds. The tradition of druidism goes back all the way to the First Age - after a great crisis that killed off a preceding Deer pantheon, Irminsul and Arvan rallied the survivors together and formed the Elternteil Deer Pantheon, and proceeded to guide mortal Deerkind's evolution by teaching them the ways of druidism and natural harmony. This led to the birth of some of the most powerful Deer empires and kingdoms, some of which exist in some form in the Fourth Age as the Alvslog Deer Realms. Of the three Deer herds, druids are extremely common among the Alvslog Deer, with plant magic, earth magic, and white magic being a few of the traditionally accepted powers. Druids are also employed by royal Alvslog Deer families, such as the ruling family of Thicket, as they were present during Captain Blackthorn's interrogation to see if he was actually the disguised Changeling Emperor Blackthorn in a comedy short written by BrutalityInc.
- Warlock: The Armageddon: The movie mashes it together with Christian mythology to some extent. The heroes are a secluded village of druids who have been in hiding ever since their ancestors were almost exterminated by a knightly order. Then the Warlock (the son of Satan) awakens, and must collect four ancient rune stones to defeat the druids and summon his father to bring about Hell on Earth.
- Radagast the Brown, as depicted in The Hobbit. The Foil to Saruman, Radagast lives alone in a ramshackle cabin in the woods with only animals (which he can speak with) for company. He wears tatty, dirty robes and his hair is a literal bird's nest, and he travels on a sled pulled by large intelligent rabbits. More dangerous than he looks.
- The main character of the Iron Druid Chronicles is a druid who gets his powers through a bond with the Earth and its many aspects. He can talk to animals (though it takes a specific bond, and they tend not to be very talkative until they adjust to thinking more like humans) and can shapeshift into four animal forms. He can use his magic to alter herbal potions on a molecular level, culminating in his "Immortali-Tea" (though that came from the Herblore of Airmid), which ensures he is The Ageless for as long as he drinks it. His powers by his tattoos — they have to be in contact with the earth to work, and if they're broken, he loses whatever abilities are connected to that specific tattoo until it's touched up. He's also constrained by a very specific form of Thou Shalt Not Kill which will kill him if he uses his magic to hurt another living thing. As a side result he can only use his magic to heal himself since healing others might be considered hurting their bodies. However, these druids are not pacifists and instead use their magic in indirect ways to make them major badasses even among the fierce Celtic warriors of ancient Ireland and Britain.
- In the Discworld, Terry Pratchett uses Discworld druids to spoof some of the fluffier and more credulous New Age beliefs. For instance, they use ley-line energy to be able to fly huge menhirs about the place.
- The Warlord Chronicles, being a Low Fantasy version of Arthurian myth in post-Roman Britain has a fair few Druids wandering around — although not, it is made plain, anywhere near as many as there were before the Romans turned up. The most prominent is Merlin, and while it is ambiguous whether he actually has any magical abilities, he's undeniably the series' resident genius, a sufficiently accomplished chessmaster that had he focused on politics he could probably have ruled all the British kingdoms from behind the scenes, and instils fear and awe in almost every character he meets. He's also The Gadfly, who enjoys messing with people and stirring up trouble, and unlike almost every other incarnation of the character, has an extremely active sex drive.
- Druids are very prominent in the Shannara books by Terry Brooks, although the Shannara Druids have very little in common with typical fantasy Druids except the name. They fits the archetype of the fantasy wizard much better: they dwelt in a great isolated tower-fortress called Paranor, where they maintained huge archives of books on magic and many other areas of scholarly pursuit, and had very little to do with nature-magic.
- In Simon R. Green's Secret Histories, the Drood family name is the result of linguistic drift from their ancestors being the original druids.
- The Witcher: Druids exist in the Witcherworld. Despite the occasional fearsome reputation they tend to be laid-back people of non-hostile mindsets, on average. They can use magic and have good relations with various creatures. On the other hand, they aren't above organizing annoying environmental protests, and can get nasty if you piss them off too many times.
- Villains by Necessity: Kaylana, who's the last one left. There used to be thousands more, but they were all killed. Most of their traits are typical, though the book adds that they also believe in keeping the Balance Between Good and Evil (to the point of pure stupidity-this is what killed the others).
- Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: There are multiple ones, with their own Magical Language, which they call the "druid tongue", but can also be used for regular speech, and not all druids are connected to Princess Flora's family:
- Princess Protagonist Flora, druid princess.
- Princesses in the Darkest Depths has two new ones, who were former friends of each other:
- The Druids are a big part of Merlin (2008). They have been persecuted by Uther, helped Morgana with her nightmares, produced Mordred and Freya (who becomes the Lady of the Lake), guarded the Cup of Life, and Merlin, known to them as Emrys, is a big figure to them.
- Druids in Teen Wolf act as emissaries to powerful supernatural creatures, notably wolf alphas. They are well-versed in the supernatural and are the main source of information for the main cast whenever they come across a tricky supernatural problem.
- A parody of the song "Old Time Religion" has verses about the really old time pre-Christian religions. One of the verses conveys popular lore about how the Druids practiced their religion:
We will pray with those old druids
They drink fermented fluids
Waltzing naked though the woo-ids
And it's good enough for me!
- Quiet, Please: In "Not Responsible After Thirty Years", a man is transported from the 1940s back to Roman Britain after visiting a Druid circle.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the Druid character class, which is arguably the Trope Codifier for the modern druid archetype. They possess a slew of skills and magical powers tied to plants, animals and the wilderness, with Voluntary Shapeshifting into animal forms being their most famous ability.
- Ars Magica: House Diedne was a Druidic tradition that joined the Order of Hermes. It was destroyed in the Schism War due to accusations of human sacrifice and diabolism, though much of the actual driving reason was their House's open paganism and their primarily Celtic magical practice, both of which were distrusted by the Latin wizards of the Order.
- Magic: The Gathering has Druids as a creature type. Most of them cost green mana, the magic associated with nature, and they often have abilities in some way related to producing mana.
- GURPS Celtic Myth gives rules for druids based on authentic Celtic culture and mythology. What we know of it anyway: it takes the sparse sources of real scholarship that we have, expands the hell out of them, and mixes in tree-based Functional Magic for a better gameplay experience.
- The Phelan wolves have druids, whom House Bisclavret have been burning at the stake since they converted to S'allumer.
- The polytheistic faith of Lutarism, followed by the boars of House Doloreaux, has many similarities to the gentler perceptions of druidism, with its heavily plant based magic and pacifism.
- Princess: The Hopeful: Many Princesses of Clubs will resemble this trope to a greater or lesser degree: their Court's ruling values are harmony and respect for nature and they have a particular affinity for Charms that interact with plants and animals or allow survival in the wild.
- Warhammer: Jade and Amber Wizards, the orders of Imperial wizards that use the Winds most connected to the natural world, fit this trope in two somewhat different manners. Jade Wizards wear green robes and harness magic that controls plant life, promotes the land's fertility and heals their allies, while Amber Wizards are reclusive hermits who wear animal furs, communicate with wild animals, and can give themselves and their allies the ferocity and physical traits of the beasts of the wild.
- Diablo II: Lord of Destruction features Druid character class. Their abilities include being able to shapeshift into wolves and bears to become stronger in melee combat, elemental spells themed around volcanoes and weather, and summoning animals, plants and spirits as allies.
- The Baldur's Gate series both contains druids and allows you to take one as main character.
- In the Warcraft series druids first get mentioned in the second game, where they are said to have built the runestones protecting Quel'Thalas. However, these druids have since been retconned into just being mages. Actual druids first appear in Warcraft III in the night elf faction, and in WoW the tauren of the Horde get their own druids as well. Then, in the Cataclysm expansion of WoW, druidism spread to the resident werewolves (Worgen, Alliance) and trolls (Horde). Some of the more notorious druids would include Malfurion Stormrage, Night Elves' Arch Druid.
- Magicka has druids allied with the Beastmen. They only cast spells associated with nature in some way, and have the special ability to summon treeants.
- Battle for Wesnoth includes druids as an advanced spellcaster for the elves. They can entangle units and have a magical attack.
- The Druids in Fire Emblem differ from the usual depiction of them. A promotion of the Shaman class, Druids are practioners of Dark Magic, which in the Elibe and Magvel universes, is less Black Magic and more The Sacred Darkness, though there still some who are Evil Sorcerer(s) despite its Dark Is Not Evil nature, like Nergal, the Big Bad of Blazing Sword whose class is specically called Dark Druid.
- Fall from Heaven includes druids as advanced priest units with additional nature spells.
- Guild Wars has Druids as a starting class.
- Might and Magic's Druids have varied between game and game, from Heroes 1 and 2's energy-bolt throwing guys in hooded robes, to Heroes 3's Magic Hero for the more nature-themed castle, over Might and Magic VI and VII's generalist spellcasters.
- King's Quest VI had an island of Druids.
- Dragon Age: Many apostate mages who live outside the Chantry seem to fall into this category. Morrigan from Origins, Velanna from Awakening and Merrill from Dragon Age II all are variations on this role. The former being one of the legendary Witches of the Wilds, while the latter two were both trained as Dalish Keepers.
- A playable class in Pillars of Eternity, following the D&D model.
- Mystery Case Files' Dire Grove, Sacred Grove introduces the Mistwalkers, an ancient clan of druids who live in the forests around Dire Grove and protect all who in live it. The plot of the story involves the tension between the Crowford family and the Mistwalkers.
- The Druids in Realm Grinder are a faction that only a neutral-aligned ruler can befriend. They focus on spreading the production of coins to all buildings and extend their mana pool beyond any other faction.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- The Reachmen, a violent Barbarian Tribe primitive in dress and technology, practice "hedge-magic" which is in this vein. They have herbology-like Alchemical skills to create potions and poisons, commune with Hagravens to upgrade their warriors with organic-magical implements, and primarily worship Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt.
- The Skaal are a Noble Savage tribe related to the Nords, residing on the island of Solstheim. They worship the All-Maker (theorized to be an aspect of Anu) and seek to live In Harmony with Nature. They have much in common culturally with various Native American and Inuit tribes, including their speech patterns. Their religion and magic have elements of shamanism and druidism, unique among the other religions and magical practices of Tamriel.
- Empire Earth 2: The Druid is the first unique unit available to the British civilization, functioning as a more efficient Priest unit (that it, who can convert enemies and increase ally damage faster).
- Two examples from Armello:
- The masked order actually called "druids" serve the Wyld's more primal aspects. They can cure the Rot, but they also engage in bloody sacrifices. The Dragon Clan novella also reveals that they are sadistic and terrifying fighters, and that they have No Face Under the Mask.
- The Bear Clan are not the same as the "druids" above, but they fit the general trope. They focus on gaining advantages in forests and stone circles, using Armello's nature magic, and purifying the Rot.
- Fate/Grand Order features the Irish hero Cú Chulainn in the role of a magical caster, which makes him a Celtic druid. He carries nature powers and unleashes a weaponized Wicker Man from Celtic religion. He admits though that he is better off as a warrior with a lance than a magician.
- Critical Role: Keyleth of the Air Ashari. There are other druids in the world of Exandria as well.
- The Questport Chronicles: A pair of druids named Acre and Jaheira help out the heroes from time to time.
- Dreamscape: Kai has control over natural energy. The more plants and non-evil living things he is around, the stronger his attacks are.
- Eleenin is a Druid too, but unlike Kai, she uses her connection with nature to observe, not to fight.
- The Smurfs have a group of druids that are trapped in a haunted tree in "The Smurfs' Time Capsule", and its leader emerges from it to set them free in order to plunge the world in eternal darkness.