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Feathered Serpent

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Feathered Serpents, also known as Plumed Serpents or Quetzalcoatls, are supernatural entities featured in many Mesoamerican cultures, starting from the Olmecs (this makes this trope Older Than Dirt). Its name at the time was likely meant to represent the dual nature of the entity: its feathers were meant to show its divine nature for showing the ability to fly, while the fact that it's a serpent represents its human nature with its ability to creep on the ground among other animals of the Earth. This was very common among Mesoamerican deities. Nowadays, though, this trope mostly gets used due to Rule of Cool.

Note that a character or creature being called a Feathered Serpent or Plumed Serpent or being named after the Trope Codifiers, the gods Kukulkan, Q'uq'umatz and Quetzalcoatl, does not automatically make them a case of this trope. It's the image that's important, not the name. Thus Quetzalcoatl from Godzilla: The Series (who is more or less a Kaiju Archaeopteryx), and another Quetzalcoatl from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (who is pretty much human in appearance aside from having a feathered tail and forked tongue) are not examples of this trope.

Such beings will sometimes be referred to as simply Coatls or Couatls, especially if present as a non-divine or physically unimposing species. Although often a truncation of the name "Quetzalcoatl", the word "coatl" is also the Nahuatlnote  word for "serpent".

Related to Basilisk and Cockatrice, which could be considered an Old World equivalent appearance-wise, and the more recent phenomenon of Feathered Dragons.

A Sub-Trope of Mix-and-Match Critters, Our Dragons Are Different and Our Gods Are Different depending on how it's used. Depending on whether the serpent is benevolent/Good or malevolent/Evil in nature, it can overlap with either Dragons Are Divine or Dragons Are Demonic. Can overlap with Snakes Are Sinister if the serpent is malevolent.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Claymore: Miata is a massive winged serpentine monster in her Awakened form.
  • Lucoa's dragon form in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid fits the description, being a large, snake-like body with feathered wings (and horns). She is a genderflipped Quetzalcoatl after all.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds: The Crimson Dragon may be this since it was revealed to be Quetzalcoatl in one episode. The juries out on whether or not it's actually feathered though, definitely serpentine though.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering: Coatls are a type of snakes that often appears with feathered wings. Winged coatls were among the creatures born when the shards of Alara fused with one another again. They are are also common in the Mayincatec plane of Ixalan, where they live high among the clouds and are sought out by the River Heralds as sources of wisdom and fortune. Ice-fang coatls are also present as snow creatures.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Ultimate Crystal series of monsters have this design, and Rainbow Dragon's role in the anime evokes the divine nature of this trope.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Ice and Fire (Minecraft): Amphitheres are winged, feathered serpents found in jungles. They normally flee from players but will attack if struck, which is necessary to keep them in one place long enough to tame them. Tamed amphithers can be used as flying mounts and will attack mobs that attack players or villagers. They fight using a combination of wing buffers, tail slaps and bites. Their feathers can be used to craft arrows that deal a lot of knockback.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Flying Serpent: Quetzalcoatl appears to be some sort of dragon having both arms and legs, though it still manages to resemble a snake with feathered wings. Q: The Winged Serpent is a light remake.
  • Q: The Winged Serpent: Quetzalcoatl, or simply Q, appears and though she has some traits of snakes and birds she mostly averts this trope and looks more like a generic dragon. Various references and allusions to this trope are used though.

  • Dracopedia: Feathered serpents are a species of dragon known as coatyls. They're subjected to Doing In the Wizard, as they weren't gods, but rather relatively normal animals that had a symbiotic relationship with the Aztec people — the coatyls took up residence in Aztec temples, wherein they ate vermin such as rats and bugs. The Aztecs, in turn, protected, housed and fed the serpents, holding them sacred and worshiping them, similar to cats in Ancient Egypt. Two other feathered serpent species are mentioned, namely a four-winged Egyptian variant (based on heiroglyphics that depicted winged serpents) and, unusually, The Phoenix. Unfortunately, the Aztec and Egyptian coatyls are critically endangered due to the destruction of their habitats, while the phoenix is so rare that it's thought to be extinct. The book mentions the "International Coatyl Fund" as an organization fighting to bring them back from the brink of extinction.
  • Eric: Quezovercoatl is depicted as a feathered boa by his worshippers, but he actually looks nothing like that.
  • Harry Potter provides us with two examples:
    • Male basilisks, which in the books are gigantic snakes, are stated to have scarlet plumes on their heads.
    • The Occamy is a large serpentine creature with a plume of feathers on its head, feathered wings and a birdlike beak.
  • InCryptid has coatls. Alex had a pet one when he was younger.
  • The Kane Chronicles: The uraei are cobras with eagle wings. Thankfully, they are creatures of Ra.
  • In the world of A Memoir by Lady Trent, coatls are a species of dragon that look like feathered and winged serpents. They live in the alt-Yucatan region of Coyahuac.
  • Ology Series: Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons, a fictional field scientific guide for dragons, puts forth that the Feathered Serpent deities like Quetzalcoatl were inspired by a type of legless feathered dragon called Mexican amphitheres, feathered dragons with birdlike wings and no legs.
  • Skinjacker Trilogy: In the third book, one of the characters (who is a shapeshifter) temporarily turns into this trope in order to impersonate the Mesoamerican deity.
  • Referenced in Temeraire: whereas most dragons have scales, the dragons of the Inca Empire have elaborate plumage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lost Tapes: Quetzalcoatl is featured in the 32nd episode where he's summoned by a human sacrifice by cultists before special agents intervene. While it looks Sadly Mythtaken at first, given Quetzacoatl was one of the few deities who abhorred such practices, the episode has several surprising instances of factual research. Of all the humans the summoned deity killed, he only slew the evil cultists.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Brazilian Folklore: The legend of the church serpent of the city of Bom Jesus da Lapa, Bahia, tells about a feathered, winged giant snake stuck in the cave under the city's cathedral, constantly trying to escape so it would devour anyone on its way. In the end of the seventeenth century, the Friar Clemente heard the sounds and advised everyone who came to that church to pray to Our Lady Maria, as every time one prayer was made, one of the feathers of the serpent fell down. After thousands of prayings, the monster finally lost all of them and withered to death around 1936, when the cave was opened and no sign of the snake was found.
  • Egyptian Mythology: Wadjet (the serpentine protector goddess of Lower Egypt) is most commonly depicted as a straight-up rearing cobra (she's the goddess behind the uraeus, the cobra you see hanging off the front of Egyptian royal headgear), but is sometimes depicted as a having the body of a snake, wings of a bird and head of a woman.
  • Inca Mythology: The Amaru has many different depictions, but most still show it having a snake-like body with bird-like wings and legs.
  • Mesoamerican mythology naturally gives us the Trope Namers, or possibly just the trope namer since many of their feathered serpents may have actually have been the same god, much like how the Greeks and Romans worshipped the same gods but called them different names.
  • Mormon Religion: Mormons believe that Quetzalcoatl is Jesus Christ.
  • Native Americans: The Skysnake was the feared guardian of life and the forces of life. Much of it is believed to have come from the various Mesoamerican cultures and the Mound Builders of the Mississippian culture of North America.
  • Amphipteres are a type of legless, winged snakes or dragons from Medieval European heraldry. While they were usually depicted with batlike wings, they were sometimes shown with feathered wings — either with feathers on the batlike wings or with bird wings entirely. Some depictions went as far as to give them beaks.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Couatls are an entire race of Quetzalcoatls and a consistent part of the Monster Manual since 1st edition. They are typically described as a Lawful Good race of resplendent winged serpents from the Upper Planes that often inhabit jungles of the mortal world, where they sometimes are worshiped as gods.
    • Forgotten Realms: Qotal is a Maztican god taking the shape of a feathered dragon, who according to Maztican tradition gave humans the gifts of speech and maize.
    • Quetzalcoatl occasionally appears in different versions of the Deities and Demigods sourcebook as part of the Aztec pantheon.
    • The Elder Tempest, the elder elemental of air and storms takes the form of a feathered serpent wreathed in storm clouds and lightning.
  • In Nomine: In their true forms, Seraphim resemble immense serpents with feathered wings — officially three pairs, although artwork usually shows them with one.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Couatls are feathered serpents with birdlike wings that act as messengers of virtuous deities and shepherd and guide the development of fledgeling civilization.
    • Uraei are two-headed cobras with birdlike wings that act as protectors to rivers and the communities found along their banks.
  • Rifts:
    • The Kulkucan is a type of dragon with a more serpentine body covered in feathers and a beaked head. Quetzalcoatl himself happens to have been a Kulkucan Dragon who ascended to godhood.
    • The feathered serpents of Wormwood are serpentine monsters with hammerhead shark-like heads, prehensile tongues, four legs, flat and batlike wings covered in feathers and tails tipped with three-fingered claws. They're vicious predators, and used as riding mounts by the minions of the Unholy.
  • Shadowrun: One type of dragon is the Feathered Serpent, found in Central and South America. Adults are about twenty meters long with a fifteen meter wingspan. Their wings and head are covered with feathers, and they have extensive magical powers.
  • Tails of Equestria: Sky serpents are relatives of Sea Serpents with a pair of feathered wings.
  • Warhammer: Coatls, giant snakes with feathered wings, are one of the more obscure creatures associated with the heavily Mayincatec Lizardmen. They're highly intelligent and adept spellcasters in their own right and are associated with the Old One Tepok, himself depicted as one of these creatures.

    Video Games 
  • Digimon: Quetzalmon and its subspecies BioQuetzalmon are heavily based off of Quetzalcoatl, and resemble winged snakes plated in white armor.
  • Dragon City:
    • The Ozone Dragon is a serpentine, legless creature with a bird's head and four feathered wings.
    • The Quetzal Dragon is based on modern depictions of Quetzalcoatl as a winged creature, and hails from the Mesoamerican jungle.
  • Fate/Grand Order:
    • Quetzalcoatl appears in one of her female human hosts, but her origins as a feathered serpent are referenced in her profile. Her original form is referenced in her feathered garb, her rows and rows of sharp teeth when she flashes a Slasher Smile, and her Santa version's feathered wings.
    • Gorgon, the monstrous form of Medusa, leans into the Snake People more than her normal self and eventually gaining large pair of feathered wings, which matches the original description of Medusa.
  • Final Fantasy: Quezacotl/Quetzalcoatl is a recurring summon in the games, how much he follows this trope varies in each game though.
  • Flight Rising: The Coatls are one of the two rare dragon breeds, and resemble snakes with short legs, prehensile tails, and feathered wings and crests.
  • Free Realms: Quetzalcoatl is a boss and he's a Feathered Drake, he's still very serpentine though.
  • Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine: A monster called Quetzalcoatl attacks Indiana, it is a giant snake with feathers around its neck.
  • LEGO Harry Potter: The basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets has a scarlet plume on its head, despite not having one in the book or movie.
  • Might and Magic: In Might and Magic VIII: Day of The Destroyer, the Young Couatl, Couatl and presumably the Winged Serpent (they share the same sprite) are this, having serpentine bodies and avian wings. And beaks.
  • Nexomon: Fethra, one of the game's Starter Mons, is a Wind-type snake with two feather-shaped crests above its eyes and subtler plumage running down its back. Its evolved forms, Tempestra and Draclone, are bigger, more impressive-looking versions of the same.
  • Pokémon Uranium:
    • The Chicoalt line is based on the Mesoamerican feathered serpent, and Coatlith in particular resembles a green serpent adorned with red feathers and a birdlike beak.
    • The Legendary Pokémon Aotius is a white serpent with multiple orange feathered wings.
  • RuneScape: The Cockatrice and its variants all have serpentine bodies along with the legs and wings of a bird.
  • Smite: Kukulkan one of the Trope Namers is a playable character and one of his skins turn him into Quetzalcoatl, and for some reason inexplicably speaks 99% in Brazilian Portuguese.
  • Sword of the Stars: The Morrigi are an alien race with long serpentine bodies covered in feathers, along with eight limbs, two of which are wings (vestigial in the heavier females, functional in low gravity for males). Their Ancient Astronauts are implied to have inspired several mythical beings among humans and other species.
  • Temtem: Shuine has a serpentine body with two feather-like streamers on its tail end. It's only found in Tucma, an island inspired by Central America.
  • Total War: Warhammer II: Coatls are giant serpents with forked tails, birdlike wings and avian heads. They're available to the Lizardmen through The Silence and the Fury DLC, and act as flying monsters with a number of bound spells, mostly lightning-themed, at their disposal.
  • Warcraft:
    • The Couatl is a winged serpent complete with feathers. They are obviously named after Quetzalcoatl.
    • Although Dragonhawks in Warcraft III were giant birds, they were redesigned when they debuted in World of Warcraft as creatures with serpentine bodies and wings that look like a cross between a bat and a butterfly, with feather-like appendages all over their bodies.
    • Wind Serpents in World of Warcraft have long, serpentine bodies, feathered plumes on their head, and birdlike, feathered wings.
    • Then there's Hakkar the Soulflayer, one of the troll gods and not a very nice one at that. He's basically a giant wind serpent with arms that end in scythes.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse — Earthblood: Pachu'a, the guardian spirit of the Red Talons camp, resembles an immense skeletal rattlesnake with the wings and skull of a hawk.

  • Huckleberry has at least one "serpixie" slithering in the background. It's a normal-sized snake with feathered wings, described as a "nature-aligned amphiptere".
  • Slightly Damned: Wyverns resemble snakes or legless lizards with downy manes and feathered wings, they come in variety of colors and subspecies and are naturally skilled in wind magic which gives them control over wind and lighting. The now extinct wind dragons they're related to were even more powerful and possessed two pairs of wings and hawk-like legs.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Aladdin: The Series: Malcho is a nature spirit in the form of a serpent with wings and feathers on his back. Iago is able to recognize one of his feathers because it has scales.
  • American Dragon: Jake Long: Aztec Guardian Serpent probably applies due to being inspired from Aztec Mythology, though it's hard to tell thanks to the animation style.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Several spirits qualify.
    • When angered, Wan Shi Tong stretches his body out like a snake. This makes sense, since both snakes and owls are used as symbols for knowledge.
    • The Dragon Bird Spirits, which have serpentine bodies and bird-like feathers.
    • The Dragon Eel Spirit may also possibly qualify. He has a serpentine body; which is clearly where the "eel" part of his name comes from, but he also possesses a beak and what may be feathers.
  • One episode of Bunnicula had a quetzalcoatl enslaved by a pair of criminals who used it as a living airplane. They used hypnosis to keep the quetzalcoatl under control and also to make people perceive it as an ordinary plane.
  • Gargoyles: Zafiro of the Mayan Clan has the lower body of a serpent, he also has feathery wings instead of the normally bat like ones. He's based off of Kukulkan.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: A interesting example, Quetzalcoatl; yes that Quetzalcoatl, is not a plumed serpent himself, instead he's only half- plumed serpent and half-human.
  • Legend Quest: Quetzalcoatl is the main villain. However, the New Quetzalcoatl eventually replaces him and becomes the Big Good.
  • Onyx Equinox: We see Quetzalcoatl's true form at the very last second of Episode 12, though it is difficult to make out the feathers and he resembles a more scaly dragon.
  • The Real Ghostbusters: Quetzalcoatl himself appears in one episode, the Quoatle that appear in the same episode also count.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series: In the episode "How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth", the highly advanced space alien Kukulkan is one of the Ancient Astronauts in the Star Trek universe. He is a giant snake-like being with wings and feathers who was the inspiration for the Mesoamerican legends of Kukulkan and Quetzalcoatl.
  • A Thousand and One... Americas: During the backstory of the Toltecs narrated in the twenty-fifth episode, it is shown that a giant feathered serpent began ravaging their homeland, but then a grown-up Ce Acatl (the son of Mixcoatl and Chimalma) fought against it and ultimately won. He was then christened Quetzalcoatl (which means Feathered Serpent), and upon founding the city of Tula he governed it while dressing akin to the serpentine monster he defeated.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Plumed Serpents, Quetzalcoatl



As a gender flip of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, Lucoa's true form is a massive flying serpent with a feathered mane and wings.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / FeatheredSerpent

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