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"Grimmer than these scarce any prodigy, nor any plague e'er rose at the wrath of the gods from the Stygian waves: a winged thing with maiden’s face, belly o'erflowing and most foul, a hooked hand, and face hunger-pale forever."
Virgil, The Aeneid, Book III, ll. 253-257.
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Like centaurs, mermaids, Fauns and Satyrs, harpies are mythical creatures that take the form of part-human, part-animal creatures — in this case, one half is a woman and the other half is a bird, usually a bird of prey. They originated in Greek Mythology, where they often took the job of punishing mortals for their misdeeds. This punishment frequently took the form of snatching away or befouling people's food, hence their name which comes from the Greek word for "snatcher." They also can be considered as Anthropomorphic Personifications of violent winds.

They can vary widely in appearance. Most of the time they may or may not be subject to the Gorgeous Gorgon effect, but they were originally described as ugly and grotesque before the mix up. The subjective ratio of human to bird can also vary from woman's body shape with wings in place of the arms and a birds' feathers & feet to a woman with winged forearms, a feathered body, clawed hands, and birds' feet. In many classical depictions, their arms are their wings. They often come in groups of three, and are often given the names of Aello, Ocypete, and Celaeno.note 

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Related to the other mythological half-woman half-bird creature, the Enthralling Siren. Sirens and harpies are confused almost as much as sirens and mermaids, usually by giving harpies beautiful or hypnotic voices, a characteristic that only sirens possessed in Greek myth.

Harpies frequently appear as relatively small Giant Flyers, almost always as the "Leathery-Winged Avians" variant, of which they may well be the Trope Codifier.

See also Bird People.

The harpy eagle is named for them, and their tendency to be Always Chaotic Evil has led the word "harpy" to be used to describe any unpleasant woman.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Daily Life with Monster Girl: Papi and her fantasy expys, Aero of Deadline Summonner and a different Aero of 12 Beast, are humanoids with birdlike legs and wings instead of arms. In lieu of hands, they possess a single taloned on their wings. 12 Beast also has several harpies as part of Eita's mercenary army.
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, the Lunatic Magician sends a group of harpies to attack Team Touden and Team Shuro. They deal with them, but then she sends in Falin...
  • The Elven Bride: Harpies play a major role in the first episode, in which the protagonist attempts to capture a traditional monstrous harpy in order to farm it for its secretions, which are rumored to be the "ultimate lubricant" that would enable him to consummate his marriage to the titular elf (the initial attempt at doing this failed due to the bride possessing an unusually small receptor). However, the attempt leads to him being abducted by the harpy's mother, a Cute Monster Girl called a Harpian.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure provides a rare male example with Kars's ultimate form, where he changes his arms into wings, and considering that he's a Pillar Man.
  • Fairy Tail
    • Lisanna Strauss's Animal Soul can change her arms into wings and her lower part of the body into bird legs and tail.
    • Kyôkahas Cool Mask looks vaguely like a bird's head, hair that resembles wings, and talons. Her Etherious form adds feathers onto her back and horns.
  • Humanoid Monster Bem has one as the monster of episode 4.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Mass-produced Evangelions in The End of Evangelion have picked up the Fan Nickname of "harpies" because of their wings, monstrous appearance, and vulture-like behavior.
  • One Piece introduces us to Monet in the Punk Hazard arc. Usopp identifies her as a harpy at first sight but the truth is a bit more complicated. She is an otherwise normal human who had her arms and legs replaced with wings and bird-like talons with the aid of Trafalgar Law's Op-Op Fruit.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! has the Harpie Lady cards, the signature monsters of Mai Kujaku. Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V adds the Lyrical Luscinia archetype used by Ruri Kurosaki, which cross over into Enthralling Siren with their songbird motif.

    Art 
  • Francisco de Goya: All will fall, in his Los Caprichos series, shows a group of winged males circle around a half-woman, half harpy. Down below the fallen males are plucked by a group of women, thus providing Book-Ends in how both sexes prey upon each other.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • 'Disney Ducks Comic Universe: In the Uncle Scrooge comic The Golden Fleecing by Carl Barks, Harpies (renamed "Larkies" for the story, as the editor objected to the word "Harpy") are the guardians of the Golden Fleece, and are also portrayed as horrible cooks. They kidnap Scrooge and Donald in order to get them to judge their revolting recipes. (The story was loosely adapted into a DuckTales (1987)'' episode.)
  • In Gold Digger, Charlotte, aka "Charlie", is a genetically engineered harpy. She was created by a villain as a disposable book, but after he was defeated, Penny adopted her. Despite being the size of an adult, she is only a few years old and has the emotional maturity of a child. She's both attractive (in a fuzzy-yellow-feathers-all-over-her-body kind of way) and very sweet-natured, but she also has big scary bionic claws on her arms.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Leader turned Betty Ross into a Gamma-powered Harpy once, and, in World War Hulk's "Gamma Corps", the Hulk's old enemy the Clown was turned into the Griffin with Gamma technology, specifically based on Betty as the Harpy.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Disney's Hercules a harpy is one of many monsters shown during the "Zero To Hero" number. Hercules puts it in a cage. The same creature appears as part of a puzzle game on the tie-in "Animated Storybook" CD Rom.
  • The Last Unicorn contains Celaeno (based on the character of the same name in The Aeneid), a harpy that looks less like a harpy and more like a ugly, eared and toothed vulture with three disgusting breasts that are way too detailed for a film that is supposedly kid friendly. She was captured by Mommy Fortuna for the old hag's traveling circus and the unicorn sets her free. She then reveals herself to be just as evil and nasty as most harpies, and attacks the unicorn. Oddly enough, she speaks with a male-sounding voice despite being female.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017): Captain Celaeno and her parrot pirates appear to be based on harpies, but are never referred as such and are more like Bird People... with reptilian tails.
  • Spirited Away: Yubaba has a small, entirely bird-bodied one as a pet.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Clash of the Titans (2010): Harpies show up as Hades' flying, devilish minions. Although they don't resemble bird-women at all, they do serve the purpose of snatching people up and pulling them into the Underworld.
  • Jason and the Argonauts: In both versions, true to the original myth, they taunt the blind prophet Phineus. Every day on his island, a huge banquet is laid out but the harpies take the food every day. There are only two instead of the traditional three. In the Harryhausen film they are caught in a net by the Argonauts and locked in a cage while Phineus now eats the food in front of them. In the Hallmark film they are killed when the bricks from their temple crush them.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Hideous, haggard harpies with bat wings instead of arms appear as part of Jadis' army of monsters in the movie version.

    Heraldry 
  • The "Great Arms" of the Imperial City of Nuremberg originally depicted an eagle with a king's head; over the decades this was Flanderized into a harpy.

    Literature 
  • The Aeneid: Celaeno first appears here alongside her fellow harpies, where she prophesies that before Aeneas and his men find their home, they will become so hungry that they will eat their tables.
  • The Black Jewels trilogy includes harpies as the new forms of dead women who were killed violently by men.
  • Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Esther is a harpy working as a waitress. A terrible waitress, who's so unpleasant and vindictive that diner patrons leave her tips in gratitude if she doesn't lift a finger to serve them.
  • Dante's The Divine Comedy puts them in hell, specifically the area inhabited by people who have committed suicide.
  • A Fantasy Attraction: Herbert is a scholarly harpy with magic glasses. No, really.
  • Greyhawk: A rare heroic (and gorgeous) harpy, Chewppa, is the lead female protagonist of Book 5 of the Adventures novels.
  • In the Harry Potter universe, there is a Quidditch team called the Holyhead Harpies, which is made up entirely of women. As to whether actual harpies exist in the setting, no confirmation has been received so far (Though other teams are known to be named after magical creatures that do exist). The veela are vaguely similar, although they're more reminiscent of sirens or banshees.
  • In His Dark Materials, harpies guard the underworld. They were told by the Authority to feed off the misery of the dead by taunting them with whatever they did wrong in life. One harpy betrayed evil by helping Lyra and Will cut open a portal for the dead to escape through. As thanks, Lyra gave her a name — Gracious Wings.
  • The Iron Teeth free web serial has harpies. They are large birdlike animals with a second pair of claws on their wings and mouths full of teeth instead of beaks. They are also natural mimics similar to parrots.
  • Last Exit To Brooklyn: Harpies make an appearance in a Dream Sequence.
  • The Last Unicorn includes the harpy Celaeno as the only real monster in Mommy Fortuna's traveling circus.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians:
    • Harpies help keep curfew at Camp Half-Blood... by eating any camper stupid enough to break it.
    • In The Son of Neptune, the main characters meet Ella, a harpy who remembers everything she reads and has no interest in eating the kids, as well as a large flock of more traditional harpies tormenting the blind seer Phineas.
  • The Secret of Platform 13 has them as the Island's Good Is Not Nice police force. Eventually, a team is dispatched to rescue the prince when the less nightmarish team of rescuers seem to be failing.
  • Sir Apropos of Nothing, by Peter David, has male harpies called "harpers", mainly as an excuse for a "Harper's Bazaar" pun.
  • The Solomon Kane story "Wings in the Night" has them pop up in Africa. They're called akaanas, and they like to eat people, and are notable for being the only time that Solomon Kane has gone berserk. In a rare twist to the traditional One-Gender Race, they are all male, their females having died off a generation ago.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the harpy is the symbol of the fallen civilization of Old Ghis.
  • The Tortall Universe has Stormwings: female and male harpies with sharp steel feathers and talons, who desecrate bodies of those slain on the battlefield and are so odoriferous that they repel most humans.
  • Unseen Academicals: The Sisters of Perpetual Velocity are technically Furies, but they're angry bird women described by one observer as looking like a cross between a person and a chicken, and talk in squawks.
  • Xanth harpies are ugly old hags who attack via curses. The One-Gender Race and Gorgeous Gorgon aspects of them are played with, in that there are a few rare male harpies who are the good-looking ones; this is in explicit contrast with the goblins, which in Xanth are mostly ugly males with a few beautiful females. It also becomes clear in one of the novels that young female harpies are actually very pretty; it's not until they grow up (which tends to also entail becoming embittered and losing all regard for hygiene) that they become ugly.

    Live Action TV 

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Harpies are from Greek Mythology, where they seem to be personifications of malevolent storm-winds that abduct people to take them to the Underworld and spread pollution and filth. They were one of the obstacles faced by Jason and the Argonauts.
  • The Tulevieja or Tulivieja from the folklore of Costa Rica and Panama is usually portrayed as having the top half of an elderly woman with obscenely large, rotten breasts carrying excessive amounts of breast milk which drips and the lower half of a bird, with long talons, feathered legs and a tail. Some stories also give her a pair of bird-like or bat-like wings, which, despite their small size, are deceptively strong and allow her to fly. Her role often varies depending on the tales she appears in. She's usually depicted as a figure similar to La Llorona, but in other myths she can also be either a demon or an outright Humanoid Abomination.
  • Slavic folklore has a handful or harpy-like creatures. The Alkonost, named after Queen Alcyone from Greek lore, and her counterpart, the Sirin, are both woman-headed birds whose beautiful songs give humans Laser-Guided Amnesia. In the sirin's case, her songs foretold great fortune to saints but caused mortals under her spell to fruitlessly follow her and die. However, sirins eventually took on a more positive connotation, being portrayed as symbols of harmony, eternal joy and happiness. The Gamayun was a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. All of these beings were based on legends of harpies and sirens from Greek stories.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has had harpies throughout the various editions as Chaotic Evil Monstrous Humanoids with hypnotic singing voices, though their appearance has varied considerably. Similarly, their status as an Always Female One-Gender Race has fluctuated, from being always female and depending on parthenogenesis/crossbreeding with humanoid men/a combination of the two, to having males who are simply less common and/or expected to Stay in the Kitchen.
    • 2e Harpies are ugly, resembling nasty-looking crone-like women who have the lower bodies and wings of vultures, but with beautiful, enrapturing voices.
    • 3e Harpies were, similarly, ugly creatures who combined the worst aspects of crones and vultures and contrasted it with hypnotic voices. Indeed, the art for the 3.5 Harpy is probably even more hideous than the classical 2nd edition Harpy, if only due to the general Art Evolution.
    • 4e Harpies are... well, see the page image; they definitely took a swing into the Gorgeous Gorgon territory for this edition, compared to that of previous editions. In the default Nentir Vale setting, they are given an origin as the descendants of an evil Elf queen whose family misused magic to assume the form of birds in order to spy upon their tyrannized subjects. When their people revolted, the magic went haywire and trapped them as half-elf, half-bird beings.
    • As of 5th edition, harpies keep the Cute Monster Girl looks, with human-like bodies but monstrous claws. Their also given a new origin story as an elven maiden who learned a beautiful song to woo the god Fenmarel Mestarine. But when her trick didn't work, she got mad and used magic to turn herself into the first harpy, corrupting her love into a predatory hunger for the flesh of others.
  • Games Workshop:
    • A very early issue (now long discontinued) was a set of assemble-and-paint Harpy figures with the distinct faces and hairstyles of Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan, Ronald Reagan and Edwina Currie.
    • Warhammer: Bat-winged harpies appear as a flying unit for Dark Elves and Hordes of Chaos. They're a One-Gender Race of winged female humanoids, a bunch of scavengers and snatchers. In terms of beauty, they're depicted as attractive but only from the belly up to the neck as a "parody of a woman's body". They often lair in desolate islets and sea stacks and use their entrancing songs to lure sailors to their doom, but others follow Chaos armies or Beastman warherds around to feed on the carnage that follows them.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Harpies aren't necessarily ugly — in fact, their artwork tends to make them look fairly attractive, if inhuman — but they have absolutely no sense of hygiene (and powerful musk). They may not be bad to look at, but you can usually smell them coming a mile away. They are explicitly a One-Gender Race that must mate with humanoids to procreate... unfortunately, not only do they tend to be sadists, they usually eat their partners when they're done. In fact, it's mentioned in one sourcebook on Classical Monsters that in Harpy society, not eating the father of one's daughter is a shameful event, unless said male is strong enough that he's more worthwhile if kept alive. They also possess captivating songs that they use to lure victims into their clutches.
    • Pathfinder also includes a Siren species, which are bird-women like their harpy cousins (a woman's head, the body of a giant eagle/hawk/owl), but more benevolent. For starters, they don't eat their lovers, and in fact have been known to commit suicide if their lovers are stolen away from or leave them.

    Theatre 
  • The Tempest: Ariel disguises himself as one to deliver a message.

    Video Games 
  • In Breath of Fire II, a group of three harpy sisters are the first Mini-Boss. They spend the second turn arguing and attacking each other and only attack Ryu, won they want to eat because he's more attractive than Bow.
  • Castlevania: Harpies are recurring enemies, appearing in most games.
  • Dark Souls has its own variant of harpy: a creature with a head and wings of a crow and body of a man or woman.
  • Dragon's Crown has a harpy as the first boss you fight. Its head is an armless woman from the waist up, but the rest it is a big, colorful bird. It's also about the size of a station wagon with wings attached.
  • Dragon's Dogma: Generally speaking, the game has harpies almost everywhere and they behave like sirens, known for being both beautiful and hideous. Their depictions are actually accurate to the source materials due to their bird-like proportions. Harpies and their variants sing to hypnotise their prey to sleep and snatch them away. However, what makes them truly annoying is how the Pawns overreact to almost every single harpy.
    • The Snow Harpy is a variant which can freeze its prey with a chilling breath.
    • The Succubus, surprisingly, does not have horns. Instead, it's a harpy with bat wings they can curse its prey with its seductive song and bite them.
    • The Gargoyles also falls under this category since they also behave like harpies, except they have tails which can petrify their prey.
    • As for the literal Siren, their singing can heal nearby creatures instead of hypnotising prey.
    • And there's Strigoi, the large red Gargoyle.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
  • God of War had these as easy to kill but annoying enemies. They are typically seen scavenging off corpses and their behavior implies that they are not sentient. Also, like most female monster in this game, they have exposed breasts, but not very nice ones.
  • Golden Sun has the Harpy, Virago and Harridan monsters. Amusingly enough, all three terms can refer to a spiteful, shrill woman.
  • Guild Wars has harpies as an enemy type.
  • In King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder!, Graham is abducted by harpies, and has to play on a harp to distract them from eating him.
  • King's Raid: Naila subverts this trope, being a Proud Warrior Race Girl instead. In fact, she turns against the harpy queen and joins Kasel's crew.
  • Luna Online has harpies as mid-level enemies. You can also get a baby version of them as a pet in the expansion.
  • Maldita Castilla: Stage 2 is called "Road of the Harpies", that's all that you need to know.
  • Mega Man Zero: Harpuia is based on this. His name is derived from the ancient Greek word for Harpy.
  • Might and Magic: Harpies appear as enemies in several games and as recruitable creatures in the Heroes of Might and Magic spin-off series.
  • Miitopia: Here, harpies look more like a Ridiculously Cute Critter, as they are winged creature with Cat Smile and small claw-like feet. They are notoriously bothersome because of their Tornado Move, which can temporarily remove a non-guest party member from the battlefield.
  • Monster Girl Quest has harpies of the Cute Monster Girl variety. They're actually among the nicest and least dangerous of monsters, and most of them live peacefully with humans.
  • Monster World IV has a harpy that appears as the mid-boss of Handera Volcano who flies around and drops fireballs on the ground.
  • In Persona 4, Yukiko's Shadow takes a form similar to a harpy for her boss battle- a giant, red phoenix-like bird with Yukiko's face and long black hair, and vaguely humanlike breasts.
  • Pokémon Black and White introduces Vullaby and Mandibuzz, a species of all-female, Dark-type vulture Pokémon who wear bones as clothing and certainly seem to have been created with the concept of a harpy in mind.
  • Puyo Puyo has a character called Harpy in reference to the mythical harpy, but her appearance and mannerisms are more comparable to an angel. In the PC-98 version of Madou Monogatari 1-2-3, she's an actual harpy, thus fitting this trope.
  • Pyre: Has a race called "Harps" that look like elves with wings in place of arms and birdlike legs. They may or may not be a One-Gender Race; nobody in the Commonwealth has seen a male Harp (leading to a nasty rumor that the females eat their mates), but your Harp party member claims they have a prince. Their country is currently at war with the Commonwealth, so Harps residing there often face discrimination. Harp criminals are often punished by having their wings clipped before being tossed into Downside; it’s to keep them from using their flight to escape, but it also leaves them effectively crippled for life.
  • Serious Sam: Harpies are Weak but annoying emeies, as usual. The game lampshades the use of breasts on a bird monster (they don't actually produce milk, they're just there to attract prey), and the liberal use of Nightmare Face makes it clear the series is rooted in the Fan Disservice side of the harpy lineage.
  • Shantae: In the first game and in Half-Genie Hero, this is the last required transformation that the heroine could get. It grants her Video Game Flight and a short-ranged attack with her talons if she finds the necessary upgrade. Naturally, she's a Cute Monster Girl in this form.
  • In Skullgirls, Eliza transforms into a harpy (actually the Egyptian goddess Nekhbet) during her air throw. She also has a Blockbuster version of the attack.
  • Tales Series: Harpies have been a recurring enemy type from the very first game. It's not uncommon for them to have a singing attack that induces the Confuse or Charm status on your party members.
  • Terraria has harpies as a relatively common enemy on the heights where sky islands usually form. Their feathers are used for Gravitation potions.
  • Titan Quest: Harpies are some of the standard Mooks.
  • Total War: Warhammer: Bat-winged harpies are present as quick, fragile flying units for the Beastmen and the Dark Elves. They're very well-suited for shutting down archers and artillery units and for swarming light enemy infantry when it's isolated or tied up in combat, but lack the bulk or armor to do well in long-term melee and can be devastated by focused ranged fire or being caught by a large flying monster.
  • The Warcraft world has harpies as taloned, arm-winged enemies both in the RTS and the MMORPG. They are thought to descend from Aviana, the goddess of flying creatures, who herself takes the form of a white-feathered harpy.
  • In Wargroove Harpies form the Cherrystone aeronaut unit. Despite having wings for arms and talon for feet, they have the Cute Monster Girl vibe going on. They also thoroughly subvert the usual personality of the race — they get along famously with humans, form rescue teams to help people trapped in the mountains they inhabit, and the deployable aeronauts are there because they voluntarily enlisted with Cherrystone's regular military. (Other factions' aeronauts have a similar body shape, but pull more heavily from In-Universe lore.)
  • Wayward: Harpies appear as enemies. Unusually, they are mostly found in caves. Killing one rewards you with chicken meat and lots of feathers.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings features harpies as enemies, especially down this one road where you encounter hordes and hordes of them, along with a variant called erynias. One Fetch Quest has you harvesting their feathers for a merchant who is essentially a member of the Furry Fandom.

    Webcomics 
  • Archipelago has many varieties of bird-people. Three particularly malicious female ones work for the Raven, referred to as harpies by their exasperated husband.
  • Champions of Faraus: In #2, "Over the sea and through the air", The main characters are attacked by harpies while traveling through some mountains.
  • The Horrifying Experiments of Dr. Pleasant!: Joselyn has a more warm and friendly disposition than her macabre appearance would imply. Also, an accomplished cook.
  • in Skin Deep: Many harpies live in the Avalons and get on in society just like all of the other creatures; the most notable example being the bar tender Abby. They're also among the species that do not possess enchanted medallions to allow them to take human shape, which is both a significant inconvenience and a source of Fantastic Racism in the magical community.
    • They come in four distinct subspecies, representing different depictions of harpies in mythology and heraldry:
      • Aellean harpies resemble human women with bird legs, tails and wings; they only possess four limbs, and their wings double as their arms — they still possess taloned, scaly hands, but these are part of their wings and possess limited dexterity; their feet are actually more dextrous and useful than their hands.
      • Okepetian harpies resemble the aellean kind in most respects, but possess distinct arms and wings for a total of six limbs. Abby is an okepetian harpy.
      • Podargian harpies are the smallest kind, and the least humanoid — they're essentially birds with human heads.
      • Celean harpies are the most monstrous kind, possessing taloned hands and four wings — a birdlike pair and a batlike pair.
    • Anthony is something of an odd case — he transformed into an aellean harpy after being exposed to the magic of an Avalon, despite harpies being Always Female and his transformation not involving any Gender Bender. As it turns out, his mom was an aellean harpy who permanently took on human shape to be with her human husband, and this combined with humans being easily affected by transformative magic likely caused a weird, unique reaction when he was first exposed to the magical world.
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has Innocent Fanservice Harpy Nike and her hot sisters, plus not-so-hot mom, who is a bit of a harpy in the colloquial sense as well.

    Web Original 
  • The Iron Teeth has a particularly odd interpretation of them, where they are large birds of prey with sharp teeth instead of beaks and claws on the tips of their wings.
  • Mind My Gap has an interesting variation where the maiden is half plane.
  • Uni Creatures: One of the collectable pets is a harpy, although they aren't evil due to being in an exaggerated Sugar Bowl.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The term "harpy" nowadays is a very nasty insult towards a woman one considers to be unpleasant.
  • The harpy eagle, the largest eagle alive today, is named after the harpy. The name is very appropriate, as like all raptors the female harpy eagle is larger and more aggressive than her male counterpart.
  • And speaking of dinosaurs, the name of the ornithomimid Harpymimus translates to "Harpy Mimic". Here, the name is less appropriate, as Harpymimus couldn't fly and was most likely a herbivore.


Alternative Title(s): Harpy, Harpies

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