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Our Elves Are Different

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From left to right: a drow (dark elf), a wild elf, a sun elf, a wood elf, and a moon elf.note 
Elves originated in Germanic mythology as a common type of fairy folk, the term sometimes being simply synonymous with "fairy". In the British isles, Anglo-Saxon elf myths eventually mingled with those Celtic supernatural beings. Later on, elves and fairies (largely synonymous by this point) were sanitized into diminutive woodland humanoids prone to tricks and teasing but ultimately benevolent. This image is where the modern-day concept of tiny, helpful elves in green clothes and/or pointy hats, such as Santa's helpers, ultimately comes from. In short, the definition and characteristics of elves considerably varied across space and time.

Then, in 1954, J. R. R. Tolkien published The Lord of the Rings. The work based its Elves on both Germanic light elves and a vision of a humanity that did not fall from Eden. The resultant Elves were very human-like in physical appearance, but immortal, magical, and much more closely connected to the supernatural world, in addition to possessing a tendency to inhabit isolated villages and ancient forests. The Lord of the Rings greatly influenced later fantasy fiction, and in this manner also served as the maker of the modern interpretation of elves as one of the Standard Fantasy Races.

Modern-day fantasy elves tend to be very human-like, but distinguished by their pointed ears, much longer lives and closer connection to magic and nature. They however tend to be much more "grounded" than either folkloric or Tolkienian elves. In settings where both fairies and elves exist they are typically distinct creatures, with elves being typically more similar to humans than to fairies. In some cases, however, they may have a closer link to fairies and their world than other humanoids do, or be outright descended from them.

Most elves usually share the following traits:

In modern fantasy fiction, it's exceedingly common for elves to come in multiple breeds. This probably comes from real folklore, where nearly every culture had its own division for fairies. Scottish folklore gave us the Seelie and Unseelie Courtsnote  (nowadays often associated with summer and winter). W. B. Yeats divided Irish fairies into "Trooping" and "Solitary" fairies.note  And Scandinavian fairies were broken into Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar, "dark" and "light" fairies respectively — the former were "blacker than pitch" and lived under the ground, while the latter were "fairer than the sun to look at" and lived in Álfheimr. Scandinavia also gave us Svartálfar, "black" elves, which might be the same as "dark" elves and/or actually be dwarfs. In the modern era, J. R. R. Tolkien re-codified Elves slightly into "High" and "Wood" elves. When Dungeons & Dragons added its underground "dark elves", modelled after the Prose Edda's Svartálfar and a heavy dose of the Black Martians from the John Carter of Mars novels, and renamed "drow"note , the archetypal trinity was complete.

Some common varieties beyond those three include:

  • Sea Elves: Generally an aquatic equivalent to Wood Elves. They tend to be physically identical to "normal" elves, sometimes taking an exception for a discreet set of gills, webbing between their toes, or blue or green skin and hair. Sea Elves, when they aren't a more down-to-earth seafaring subset of the High Elves, live in beautiful Underwater Cities built out of coral or natural grottos. They may be able to turn into sea animals (usually dolphins) and even if they can't they'll be friendly with dolphins, sea serpents and similar creatures.
  • Snow Elves: Elves that live in cold climates, and we don't mean the ones who work for the big red guy. Relatively rare, and more elusive than even the Wood Elves. They also tend to be a little less arrogant, because the polar wastes are too damn cold for that stuff.
  • Half-Elves: These guys possess traits of both their parents. Precisely how much of this is good or bad depends on the work in question, along with just how many traits they get from their elven side. They are usually outcasts, or if not, they have embraced one of their parentages to the exclusion of the other.
  • The Fair Folk: Elves of this variety may be portrayed as dangerous and inscrutable creatures of magic — in which case they may overlap and share traits with Precursors, Fairies, gods, or other mythological creatures. Dwarves started out as the Dark Elf version of these. The Fair Folk are the oldest type of elves, from a period when people truly believed in a magical race of supernatural beings living on a separate dimension that would snatch up your children and livestock if not properly appeased with offerings or warded off with Cold Iron. Other cultures associated pygmies with The Fair Folk, as a sort of Mage Species. Compare The Greys (vs. Little Green Men), which fulfill the traditional sci-fi archetype of The Fair Folk vs. Fairies as misremembered Ancient Astronauts. If that is the case, you have:
  • Space Elves: Space Elves can be a straight up copy or analogue of any aforementioned variants, but In SPACE! They will usually be a Proud Scholar Race to distinguish them from the stout, bearded aliens in the setting. Usually, they are also notable because their technology is either organic, crystalline, or otherwise pretty, renewable/in tune with nature and can blow your ships right out of space before you can see them. Replace a bow with a laser gun (or better yet, laser bows!) and you're in business.
  • Rock Elves: They play guitars, maybe or maybe not in Heavy Mithril style.
Compare The Fair Folk, Screw You, Elves! (when you don't believe in their betterness), Christmas Elves (for the other kind of elf), Our Fairies Are Different, Mage Species. Contrast Our Dwarves Are All the Same; fantasy dwarves and elves tend to be portrayed (whether it's pointed out or not) as polar opposites, and sometimes as bitter enemies. However, dwarves ultimately originate from the same mythological root as elves — the Norse dark elves were often equated with and effectively the same thing as the dwergar, the mythic dwarves; the two just took very diverging routes in later popular culture.

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Bastard!!: "Thunder Empress" Arshes Nei is arguably the Ur-Example of a Dark Elf in Japanese media, though she has more in common with Wood Elves, right down to her status as a half-elf. Her half blood is what led her to get ostracized by her peers before main protagonist Dark Schneider took her in.
  • Black Clover: The Elf Tribe look like humans with pointy ears. They had immense magic power greater than most humans, able to use magic stones and forbidden magics, and were worshiped as gods. As a result, humans began to fear and desire their power, slaughtering them and stealing their magic power centuries before the story. Their leader Licht suspended their souls to eventually reincarnate them in human bodies... Which Patry who had Licht's face thought. It was actually the devil named Zagred that caused the reincarnation along the massacre of the elves, as planned when he told Patry this just to have him cross the Despair Event Horizon. Then when Patry's Four-leaf clover Grimoire becomes a Five-Leaf because of crossing it, he becomes a Dark Elf!
  • In Delicious in Dungeon, elves have Pointy Ears and round androgynous faces, live for centuries, and specialize in magic. If Laios is to be believed, humans in general think they're good-looking, especially the long ears. Physically they tend to be one of the weaker races, though. Dark elves have been mentioned, but a comic on the mangaka's blog explains that they don't really exist: when people whose only experience with elves was elven propaganda about how wise and benevolent they are encountered elves who happened to be jerks, they concluded these were actually a different, more evil kind of elf.
  • Elfen Lied: Diclonii have some traits of fantasy elves, being a mysterious, superpowered, beautiful and inhuman race that turns children into their own species. Even their horns are evocative of the traditional pointy elf ears.
  • In Magical × Miracle, elves are, due to Inconsistent Dub, alternately called Hahaze and Onburu. They have an unusually high resistance to magical spells,resulting in them being used as bodyguards for important people in the Kingdom of Viegald. They have long, pointy ears and Cute Little Fangs, and have super speed when they need it. Fern, the resident Hahaze, takes to his Elvish smugness in the form of being the Snarky Non-Human Sidekick. They live in a Hidden Elf Village in the woods where they hunt. They seem to have some Celtic influences.
  • The Manga Shakespeare version of The Merchant of Venice takes place in an elven version of the titular city, with the characters being depicted as different elf types.
  • Slayers: The Wood Elf variant appears; in general, Elves live longer and have better magical skills, but they usually hide away and scorn humans. This is emphasized in certain cases because Elves generally align themselves with Ciefeed and his servants, the Dragons — the Dragons can have as much scorn towards humans, if not more.
  • Sword Art Online: The nine races of Alfheim Online are essentially many flavors of elves (the name even means "Elf Home"). Plays with the superior race thing, since Alfhiem Online IS a VR Game and everyone is, in the end, just a bunch of gamers. However, there is still a lot of racial tension due to the game set least, until the rebooted version after the events of the Fairy Dance arc, which makes it practically disappear since the differences are now just essentially gaming style. See here for a quick breakdown of the different races and links to further info.
  • Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar has the Dark Elves of Shurifon. Despite their name and appearance, they are more akin to Wood Elves since they live in a huge forest and are at peace with nature. Overall they are physically more capable than anyone else on the planet barring a short period of time in the day when they are as weak as newborn kittens due to being a transplanted species from another world. The main character Kenshi is the only one who is stronger and he isn't exactly a normal human either.
  • Voltron: The Drule are Drow in space. Dark skin (purple in Voltron, grey in Voltron Force), white hair, militaristic, Always Chaotic Evil, dark coloured outfits, and in Voltron Force, Lotor has a spider mech.

  • Dancing Fairies (Älvalek in Swedish) is a Romantic painting by August Malmström depicting a group of elves dancing hand-in-hand over a river at twilight. It portrays them as garland-wearing etheral beings that can be mistaken for a wispy morning mist over the natural landscape.

    Comic Books 
  • Amulet: Elves rule The Empire, and they're not particularly good-looking either, since they have a very many sharp teeth and vertically slitted pupils. They're still tall and skinny and with long hair, however.
  • The Demon Mages: There are various types of Drow elves, which vary in skin color, hair color, and magical resistances.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Played with. Varis is much like a stereotypical elf, but is also stated to enjoy cities more than the forests and never hesitates to slip in zingers against other (high) elves that look down their noses at everything else.
  • ElfQuest:
    • The Wolfrider elves are Wood Elves played fairly straight; they're smaller than the (very) primitive humans around them and only slightly more advanced. They do have supernatural powers, such as healing and the ability to shape rock and wood, but most of them only have the power to communicate telepathically (referred to as "sending") and very few are able to heal or do rock and wood-shaping. Oh, and of all the elves only the Wolfriders have facial hair due to their part-wolf ancestry.
    • The Gliders, before they all died and their spirits went to the Palace of the High Ones, and Savah, the Sun Folk's Mother of Memory, follow the High Elf archetype more, although several are considerably less haughty than is typical for this type. They're larger than the Wolfriders, due to their greater age — becoming smaller over generations was an adaptation to the new world, and the Gliders in particular haven't had any new children in forever when first met.
    • In a subversion of the typical half-elf, the master trickster Two-Edge is half elf and half troll. The same psychological rules generally apply though, as Two-Edge uses his cunning throughout the series to force the other characters through "games" of his devising, in an attempt to reconcile the two halves of his heritage. Interestingly, his mental and emotional troubles were not caused by prejudice towards his hybrid nature but by his mother using her psionic powers to drive him mad, in order to hide the crimes she did to his father.
    • It's not until late in the series that the reader discovers all the elves are really the descendants of Space Elves who were trapped on the planet ages ago. Their seemingly magical powers are really Psychic Powers and the Palace where their souls go after death can travel through space.
  • The Lands of Arran series Elfes depicts five races of stereotypical Elves. The High Elves, Blue Elves, and Wood Elves are more moral and wise than Humans because they are closer to the world of Arran, whom they consider a god in itself. However, the Wood Elves are highly xenophobic toward Humans. The Dark Elves are an immoral, murderous kind, with the Big Bad of the series being a Dark Elf herself. Lastly, the Half-Elves take from their human heritage and more or less act like any Human would.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW), there's the Deer of Thicket, ruled by King Aspen. Although Deer were previously depicted as non-sapient, the Deer of Thicket aren't here, and otherwise fit the post-Tolkien mold to a T, being highly magical and holding themselves as superior to the setting's human equivalents. On the whole, they seem to be a combination of High Elves and Wood Elves, being a proud and haughty race who are In Harmony with Nature, and possess command over plants and animals.
  • Poison Elves subverts most of the prevailing elf tropes. They're haughty and self important, but did avert The End of the World as We Know It... back in pre-history. By the time of the events of the comics, the Elves have become just as urbanized, lazy, indolent, and outright bastards as the humans are. The protagonist doesn't much help anyone's opinion of the elves, but the author never presents any serious evidence to the contrary. Even the elves who live in enclaves are a far cry from the Wood Elf archetype, and only seem to be humans with really pointy ears.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Lapp tale "The Elf Maiden", collected by Andrew Lang, elves are wise, uncanny-looking humanoid creatures who tend to avoid humans out of fear despite having strange magic powers.
  • Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "Nine Bags Of Gold": As it could be expected from a pre-The Lord of the Rings story, elves are small, magical humanoid creatures who live beneath human houses, keeping themselves hidden from adult menfolk (albeit they like befriending and even teaching children). Although clever and benevolent, they are tricksters who are not above of making someone sick to further their goals.

    Fan Works 
  • Aska: The entire elf race consists of "solicitors, attorneys and the occasional insurance salesman". The elf character Motor-Oil is a bumbling wreck after losing his girlfriend. Also, his name is Motor-Oil.
  • Child of the Storm has multiple versions:
    • The Alfar of the Nine Realms are (possibly were in the case of the Svartalves — it's left ambiguous) fairly Tolkien-esque High Elves, and are biologically immortal, naturally very good-looking, slimmer than humans and Asgardians, and excellent marksmen — though Clint Barton is a match for even their best. Like the rest of the Nine Realms, they've also got extremely high-end Magitek, and even more than most: they're a match for Asgard. Unlike most depictions, their morality and egotism runs the spectrum. They are — or were — divided into two tribes that ultimately differed on ideological grounds.
      • The "Light Elves" of Alfheim are Asgard's most loyal allies. They're particularly Tolkien-esque — In-Universe, their Prince, Faradei, was the inspiration for Legolas. One of them, Algrim (who's purple due to a rather strange skin disorder) is Odin's Chamberlain and one of his best Advisers, who helped raise Thor and Loki and now advises them too. However, they're not all good: Gravemoss, arguably the vilest member of the first book's Big Bad Ensemble, was banished for necromancy and being a Complete Monster. He's functionally a Humanoid Abomination who regards life as being wasted on the living, and dreams of ruling over a universe of the dead.
      • The "Dark Elves" of Svartalfheim aren't, in fact, classic Dark Elves. Instead, they're a faction of the Alfar as a whole who, under their leader, Malekith the Accursed, weren't content with being second to Asgard. They felt that they should be at the top of Yggdrasil and leading/ruling the Nine Realms, which they intended to rearrange by force. Considering their power (they were more or less on par with Asgard) and that Malekith had the Aether a.k.a. the Reality Stone, they came dangerously close to succeeding, and the only way they could be stopped was by pounding Svartalfheim a.k.a. 'the Dark World' flat, resulting in a ruined Death World from orbit.
      • At least some survived, with dissidents fleeing Malekith's purges and some of Malekith's surviving supporters both escaping to other realms, primarily Earth. The former have a small but respected nation in the Nevernever (Faerie) and are noted to have evolved to become something much more like the Fae than they were originally. It's uncertain whether any of the latter are still around (or what happened to them), but Word of God has implied that Malekith is both alive and better known these days as Oberon.
    • There are also the Sidhe, the humanoid aristocracy of the Seelie (Summer) and Unseelie (Winter) Courts of Faerie, as well as independent lesser 'Wyldfae' Courts. Classic examples of The Fair Folk, they're not related to the Alfar (except for the Svartalves of Faerie, who emigrated). Instead, they were a subspecies of humanity (hinted to be the Denisovans) that entered Faerie several hundred thousand years ago, and their population is supported by/includes changelings, humans who have a fae parent. Thanks to their uniquely close relationship with magic, they're vulnerable to iron, specialise in glamour and illusions, can't lie but specialise in manipulating, and are very interested in deals based on Equivalent Exchange. They're also extremely dangerous — even the nice ones have a raging case of Blue-and-Orange Morality.
    • There are also House Elves, though they're a variety of lesser Fae.
  • The God Empress of Ponykind: In The Warmistress of Equestria, the deer are Expies of the Eldar in many respects, primarily in schemes and haughtiness.
  • It's A Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door:
    • The Deer of the Shimmerwood serve as the story's stand-ins for Tolkienian elves. They're aloof guardians of the forest who speak in riddles, come from an ancient civilization, and use powerful magic. Other deer appear in Besides the Will of Evil, the sequel, many of them still having their haughtiness from before the big war with the Big Bad. The deer and ponies occasionally butt heads when the released Big Bad causes strife.
    • The Pronghorn, whose horns are functionally similar to those of unicorns. The first pronghorn introduced, Niles Nigellus, is a polite, smooth-talking and well-traveled charmer who offers Dash the chance to realize one of her greatest dreams, learning how to master lighting, by guiding her through the Dreaming.
  • The Night Unfurls: Due to the story's Low Fantasy elements, the depiction of elves is more mundane compared to how they are usually depicted. Putting the Pointy Ears and the immensely long lifespan aside, elves are hardly any different than humans. Notably, the "smugness" factor is absent, and not every elf is depicted as in tune with magicnote . Variety-wise, dark elves as a whole are more intertwined with the plot than the other two groups (high elves and half-elves). At first glance, these elves live in Garan, a Mordor located in the Grim Up North. They are also more fluent in the sibilant tongue of Garan, which sounds like "the whisperings of a murderer at the bedside of a dead man" (in other words, a Black Speech -esque language). Closer inspection reveals that dark elves tend to get the short end of the stick. For centuries, they have faced enslavement by human slavers, as well as orc attacks from chieftains (all the more ironic when the dark elves and the orcs are teamed together). The former part serves as the catalyst for the Forever War between the South and the North, with Olga the Dark Elf Queen as a core belligerent. Alas, this only caused the dark elves to be seen more negatively, worsening the Fantastic Racism between dark elves and humanity. Really puts the "contemporary" depiction of dark elves (the grim-dark elements) in a different light.
  • Power Rangers GPX: Played with, where elves are the antagonists. They're not evil per se, but are very xenophobic and arrogant, and the author compares their society to Imperial Japan. There are, however, genuinely nice elves, some of whom live among humans, and others who are more in the gray area. In other words, they're just as varied as Tolkien's elves, albeit more "humanized". Still, they're given something of a Doing In the Wizard treatment, but still have a mystical, if realistic, element about them. However, as the story goes on, and a few rewrites were made, the setup is heavily deconstructed. The elves' sense of their own superiority allows them to be manipulated by elven supremacist Ragnar, who overthrows the government and installs a fascistic military dictatorship bent on exterminating humanity.
  • Still Waters Series: The elves of Mundus Magicus live for several centuries and tend to have a good grasp of magic, warfare, or anything else they do, simply because they've been doing it for so long. They can be incredibly stubborn and slow to adapt at times, but they aren't stupid; if presented with good evidence against an already decided course of action, they have no problem changing their minds.
  • With Strings Attached: In general, elves are just another race of humans, not a separate species. The only "elfy" traits they share with elves from other works are that they have fine features and pointy ears. And in Ketafa they're second-class citizens and treated like crap.

    Films — Animation 
  • Onward: The elves shown have the standard Pointy Ears, but they also have blue hair and skin.
  • Strange Magic: The elves are only half the size of the fairies, who are themselves small enough to ride squirrels as mounts. They come across as the lower class to the fairies as they live in ramshackle looking homes, dress in dirty working clothes even at festivals, and are ruled by a Fairy King. The elves are dark-skinned and the fairies are light skinned.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Avatar: The Na'vi are blue-skinned, pointy-eared, lithe cat people who live in tune with nature, tame wild beasts, have an innate link with the spirit of their world, and shoot six-foot long arrows to impale helicopter pilots. Despite the science fiction aspects of the film, they're a lot more Wood Elf than Space Elf.
  • Bright: Elves are superior in every way to other races, have the highest number of Brights among them and are said to manipulate society into their favor, which leads to humans and orcs resenting them as pompous and privileged snobs. In addition, their fighting prowess, superhuman strength, speed and immortality makes them look like horror monsters compared to other species.
  • The Dark Crystal: Jen and Kira are the sole-surving members of an elf-like race called the Gelfings. They also appear different from each other with Jen having tan skin and black hair with some blue coloration on his forehead, ears, and hair while Kira having pale skin and blonde hair.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army: Prince Nuada and his kin are elves, but play up The Fair Folk angle a lot more, hence the folkloric names. Nuada himself is possessed of semi-psychic abilities and incredible grace and poise, and despite being half his size can run rings around Hellboy himself in combat (when Hellboy is drunk, anyway, as he does a lot better sober).
  • The Lord of the Rings: The movies adapt Tolkien's Wood Elves into High Elves, instead of the other way around which is more common in pop culture adaptations. Perhaps because, as the director repeatedly said, he wanted to emphasize just how badass the elves were — even the less technologically advanced, more in tune with nature types. The Hobbit shifts away from this somewhat. In it, Thranduil is portrayed more like a proud (or arrogant) High Elf who belittles someone of lesser stock, while in truth, the only High Elf in the region was Galadriel — although the pride of the Royal House of the Sindar would legitimately give Thranduil reason to be proud. But by the time of The Hobbit, the only High Elves left in Middle Earth are Galadriel, Elrond, Glorfindel and the Elves in Rivendell and some in the Grey Havens. The rest in Mirkwood and Lórien are either Sindar, Silvan (the most rustic of Elves) or a combination of the two.
  • Thor: The Dark World: The Dark Elves are a combination of their namesake and Space Elves. They existed before light came to the universe and have ships and weapons that run on Magitek while maintaining their proud stature and honor.
  • Underworld (2003): The Nordic Coven is a vampire bloodline with elf-like characteristics. They live in a secluded fortress, strongly resemble elves physically and have straight-up magical powers unlike anything normal vampires possess. They do avert having unnatural beauty (while most members have Mystical White Hair, their leader is a plain-looking Cool Old Guy) and lack elves' arrogance. In fact, they are extremely kind and friendly in contrast to most vampires, but with that said Beware the Nice Ones also happens to be their hat, since while pacifistic, they can kill you in a blink of an eye.

  • Alliance Elves come in several flavors, though they still vary wildly from chapter to chapter.
    • Stone Elves who tend to be The Stoic, and have control over emotions, both their own and others. Logical and emotionless, they see reason above all. All white skin with typical elf ears.
    • Elves, the generic version, differ from chapter to chapter. You have your standard Wild, High and Tribal elves, mixed in with Sand and Willow elves. Different markings, mannerisms and histories separate them. The race as a whole gets the Archery skill at half cost.
    • Dark Elves are your typical Drow-esque elven race. Always Chaotic Evil and black skin with white hair.
    • Mystic Wood Elves are more Fae than Elf but still have the Elven ears. Typically more promiscuous and are big fans of parties and revelry. MWE's for short, they also have a pair of horns and are able to resist command spells.
  • NERO elves come in six varieties:
    • Quentari, your basic High Elves.
    • Wood Elves.
    • Wild Elves who are a more Proud Warrior Race/Noble Savage version of Wild Elves and who have a special relationship with wolves.
    • Stone Elves who have Chalk white skin, and are usually divided into ones of two class types, Scholar or Fighter. They are also the most likely to fall into the Dark Elf stereotype.
    • Mystic Wood Elves, a hybrid between elves and satyrs/nymphs who have horns, are a race of EthicalSluts (both reasons why they're often referred to as "the horny elves") and tend to be Trickster types.
    • Drae/Vornae. Despite looking like D&D Drow they are not Dark Elves but rather have a culture very much like samurai Japan. No one except them are quite sure about the Drae/Vornae divide as they look and generally act exactly alike except that the Vornae seem to be the higher caste.

  • Age of Fire: The elves are one of the least explored races, but the ones seen mostly fall into the "wood elf" category. The biggest difference between them and other races is that they have plant life that gathers in their hair, which often contains flowers, leaves, thorns or other such things, and their children tend to be stillborn.
  • Alterien: The Alteriens are similar to elves in appearance. In addition, they have many abilities that could be perceived as magic. They can, for example, fly, teleport, time travel, manipulate energy and see possible futures.
  • Artemis Fowl: Elves, one of the main families of fairies, are pure Space Elf even though they live underground, as they carry plasma rifles and their wings are nuclear-powered. They're never taller than a human adolescent, but beyond that there are fat ones, sweaty ones, ones with skin problems (on those pointy ears, no less), a lot of foul-mouthed ones and facial hair. They're often used as the "default" species of fairy in the books.
  • The Arts of Dark and Light: Elves are an Inhumanly Beautiful Race with innate magical abilities, extreme longevity and otherwise fairly typical fantasy traits, though with some exceptions. They live in more or less normal societies, though with social norms closer to 21st-century "Western" standards than anyone else in Selenoth, such as greater equality between the sexes. There are some bits of "uncanny valley" weirdness about them; for example, the sound of their laughter strikes humans as oddly disturbing. Also, magic is a Virgin Power for female elves.
  • The Banned and the Banished: Elves fit most closely into the High Elf motif, but they live in a flying city supported by the Air-based magic of all the people. They fly to war in similarly supported flying ships. The captains of which must be strongly magically talented to provide the lift.
  • Bazil Broketail: There are a few sub-races of elves in the series. All of them share some common traits like the standard long hair, pointed ears, willowy bodies and lack of aging, but other than that, they're all quite different.
    • First, you've got the wood elves, who sometimes appear as allies to Argonath, but are generally rather aloof and emotionally distant towards the humans. Some live in cities with more mundane lives, though they're still largely in forests. Further, they also have features more like dryads in myths, being born from trees, with their blood smelling like apples. Also by reproducing with humans it would produce an imp, a kind of monster used by the bad guys here.
    • The High Elves are given a mention somewhere in the series, but they do not appear in person and are not depicted in any way, so we may only assume that they conform to the typical image of Eldar in popular culture.
    • There are also the Golden Elves (contrary to their name, it's only their eyes that are gold), who are the eldest people on Ryetelth and established probably the first civilization, based in the city of Gelderen. Currently, however, they are a Dying Race, scattered across the world. Some of them, like Althis and Sternwal, are still out there, trying to do some good, but a significant part of their population settled in an enclave of Mirchaz, where, in isolation from the world, they degenerated from the noble and righteous people they used to be into the rotten, amoral and needlessly cruel fantastic racists they are now.
    • Both Waakzaam and Sinni look basically like overgrown elves, indicating they are progenitors of the race.
  • Book of Imaginary Beings has them as the strictly fairytale kind. Elves, or alps, are tiny, mischievous beings and rarely seen by people, and cause a great deal of mischief. They steal cattle and children, lie on sleepers' breasts to cause troubled dreams, tie hair into knots and shoot tiny iron arrows that vanish into the skin without a trace and cause sudden painful stitches.
  • Bordertown has a different type of elf — most onscreen are punked-out and rock-music-loving. However, they are all tall, slender, and silver-haired and -eyed, they are unashamedly magical, and as a race they seem to have a permanent case of incredible arrogance.
  • Bored of the Rings parodies the original Tolkien kind. Wood elves are tacky low-lives who run tourist traps, and high elves are effectively white trash with delusions of grandeur.
  • Boundary's Fall: Elves are long-lived, inherently magical, incredibly stealthy and excellent archers. The reason for the latter two traits is because the humans and garu'nah, whom they once enslaved, are much stronger than they are, so being sneaky and not getting into melee is the only way the elves can compete.
  • A Chorus of Dragons: The vané, or vorfelané in full, are essentially elves by another name. They're immortal, highly magical humanoids whose civilizations long predate humanity, and mostly live in forests and jungles. They are divided between the more passive, pale-skinned Kirpis vané of the northern forests, whose homelands have been conquered by the Empire of Quur, and the more warlike and hostile Manol vané of the equatorial jungles, who were the only force capable of halting Quur's expansionistic advance. Notably, their immortality isn't a strictly unique traits — all of the humanoid races were immortal to begin with; the vané happen to be the only one to have retained its immortality.
  • Chronicles of the Emerged World:
    • The true elves are nowhere to be seen in the saga itself but ruled the Emerged World in the past, until the humans and gnomes came and took over. The elves left for unknown lands, and have not been seen by the people of the Emerged World since. Little is known about them as a result, but they are commonly believed to have been a perfect people and beloved by the gods, and that they ruled the Emerged World in an era of unity and peace.
    • The humans and elves, in the time during which they shared the Emerged World, mingled to create a new species, the half-elves. Little is known about them either, as the Tyrant killed nearly all of them, except that they had pointy ears, blue hair and purple eyes, that they were skilled astronomers, and that they ruled the Land of Days before the Tyrant's time.
  • Chronicles of the Raven: The elves come in several different flavors, but special mention must go to the Tai Gethen, an elite order of religious warriors who protect the jungles of Calaius from intruders (even though most people die within days of entering anyway). They will hunt you down like prey, only to kick your teeth through the back of your head with one foot, crush your throat with the other, and then spin around in mid air and stab you in the eye just for good measure.
  • Codex Alera: The Marat are graceful, white-haired humanoids who are mildly telepathic and live in harmony with nature — not strictly wood-elves, but they fill the same basic niche. They form lifelong bonds with individual animals at puberty, and before this point have eyes that shimmer in every color — after bonding, their eyes settle into the same shade as their partner creature's. It's worth noting, though, that while they're presented as being morally superior to the human Alerans in some ways (notably, the Alerans keep slaves, which the Marat find abhorrent), in others they can be a remarkably savage people (cannibalism is fairly common).
  • Confederation of Valor has the Taykans, who at least physically are Space Elves (except for their technicolor hair)... but instead of being magical or building crystal spires, they're a race of EthicalSluts.
  • Council Wars: The Elves are a race genetically engineered as Super Soldiers in a long-ago war — ageless, superhuman in all physical characteristics, and made to look like hot pointy-eared chicks because, well, they could. They are protected by genetic copyright laws which say that no human can have their powers and appearance, and only Elves are allowed to live in Alfheim. (Ironically, Alfeim has become an overcrowded housing project because all elves crave the honor of living there, and since they don't die, the population just goes up and up. Or so our semi-reliable source says). There are two variants of Elves. Most of the elves were made in North America and are tall, elegant and dignified and basically fill the High Elf role. Bast is quite a bit shorter, has a wicked sense of humor, was a prototype made in Japan and is basically a Wood Elf. Or as she puts it, she's a cheap Japanese knockoff.
  • The Death Gate Cycle has several variations:
    • The Tribus elves of Arianus are essentially Dark Elves — a corrupt and decadent empire ruled by cutthroat politics and sinister magic, who rule tyrannically over the dwarves and used to do the same over the humans before the latter rebelled. However, they weren't always like this, and Prince Rees'ahn is an elf who leads a rebellion against the current regime in the hope of restoring the earlier ideals.
    • The Equilan elves of Pryan are the most human-like, being essentially Victorian English with long lifespans, pointy ears and magic, complete with the condescendingly racist attitudes towards every other culture and nation.
    • The Elmas elves of Chelestra are more of a benign version of The Fair Folk. They can be very, very odd, and most humans and dwarves have little understanding of (or patience with) their culture, but they are deeply devoted to peace and harmony and are explicitly stated to have found a level of wisdom that their cousins on the other worlds did not.
    • In an inversion of how this trope is usually played, the elves (whose magic is mostly suited to making Magitek and enchanted objects) are generally less attuned to the natural world than the humans (who instead tend towards elemental and mental magic) are: it's a great irritation for the Tribus elves that they cannot replicate the magic humans use to tame and ride dragons, while the humans of Pryan are better farmers than the Equilan elves, who have yet to master basic crop rotation and are dependent on food imports from human lands.
    • However, the race that picks up most of the "ancient, magical, arrogant and self-righteous" High Elf stereotypes aren't elves at all; this particular elven niche is filled by the human-derived Sartan, who look down on elves just as much as they do humans and dwarves.
  • Demonwars: The elves craft weapons of incredible power, make magic items vastly beyond the ken of other races (a healing bandanna of theirs keeps a centaur alive after he's crushed in a cave-in), and appear to be the only Good race to possess souls (this is implied to be false).
  • Deverry: Back in ancient days, all elves were "high" elves of various carefully controlled and observed ranks, while enslaved humans did all the dirty work. Then the Horsekin happened.
    • Some elves fled by ships, reaching distant islands and preserving High Elf culture. They're briefly mentioned as still being hung up on rank and class. Those who don't like it are returning to the homelands by the end of the series.
    • Some fled to the plains, becoming the not-always-distant ancestors of the Westfolk, the best-known elves in the Deverry Cycle. They are the plains equivalent of the forest elves, living in relative harmony with nature, divided into several nomadic groups, and while they have swordmen (and women), their best known weapon is the longbow. Thanks to culture shift, advancement, and changes in the human kingdoms, their way of life is ending and merging with the returning high elves by the end of the series.
    • Small groups of survivors fled anyway and where they could, and founded tiny settlements well away from the Horsekin. They're only introduced near the end of the series, and the readers only meet one member. He describes them as living from the sea, but preserving the memories of old.
  • Discworld: Elves are based on legends of The Fair Folk, making for a race of Always Chaotic Evil fantastical sociopaths. They live in a parallel universe to the Disc called Fairyland and periodically enter the main universe to abduct people and spread mayhem. They're unable to understand basic concepts like love or empathy, and can only relate to other beings by causing them misery and spreading chaos. The euphemisms for elves are used because Speak of the Devil, and they shall appear. "The Fair Folk", "The Lords and Ladies" and "The Gentry".
  • Dragaera has the Dragaerans. They stand an average of seven feet tall and have lifespans exceeding 1,000 years. They have slender builds and do not grow facial hair. The race was created when the Jenoine combined human stock with various animals to create various strains, which organized into Houses of the Dragaeran Empire. Some of these strains have pointed ears, though not all. Interestingly, they refer to themselves as humans and practice Fantastic Racism towards actual humans, whom they refer to as "Easterners." In some areas, they're called "elfs" and call humans "dwarfs."
  • Dragonlance gives us Tanis (half-elf, reject), as well as the Qualinesti (High Elves) and extremely stratified, isolationist Silvanesti (Grey Elves), the latter of whom are incredibly arrogant and xenophobic. This comes to hurt them after their refusal to seek help from the other races, and the Qualinesti, causes their country to become magically entrapped in a horrific nightmare-made-real. Later books also introduce the Kagonesti (Wood Elves as Noble Savages). There is also Dalamaar the Dark Elf (which in Dragonlance isn't a race so much as individual elves being exiled from the elven nations), who's just as arrogant and haughty as the other elves, but also evil. Elves generally seem to the collective Butt-Monkey of the Dragonlance setting: Qualinesti was invaded twice inside thirty years, occupied for forty years and then destroyed by a green dragon. Silvanesti was turned into a nightmare realm by a (different) green dragon, was "protected" by a magical shield that turned out to be sucking out the life force of all the Elves and was then invaded and colonized by the minotaurs. Currently, both elven kingdoms are in exile led (in a satisfying bit of irony) by the part human son of the despised Tanis.
  • Dungeon Crawler Carl: The original elves are high elves, and the many "sub-races" are offshoots who are exiled from the high elves, sometimes for a good reason but usually not. It's implied that there's little to no actual genetic variance between the races. The high elves exile or genocide anyone who strays from their view of "correct" elves, which results in a lot of offshoots.
    Mordecai: That's what happens when you live forever but don't stop having babies.
  • Dungeon Engineer: Chapter seven mentions elves, which are at least slightly expansionist:
    Clifford Graham: Unofficially, it’s territory denial for the Elven Collective.
  • Eccentric Circles: Aelvirum is careful to point out that he's an elf, not a fairy. He explains that his current condition stems from J. R. R. Tolkien Rewriting Reality.
  • Elantris: Elantrians were, before their fall to a mysterious disease, tall, slender, beautiful and literally radiant with a monopoly on magic and lived in a city of Crystal Spires and Togas. This is explicitly because they are regular humans who've been enhanced by some very complex magic. In fact, humans are periodically transformed into new Elantrians, and this is implied to be the main source of Elantris' inhabitants.
  • The Elric Saga: The Melniboneans are a mix of High Elf, Dark Elf, Decadent Empire on the Wane, and The Fair Folk, although they do bear more obvious similarities to several societies' deities — intentionally. The trope is zigzagged a good deal more with the other sub-series in the Champion Eternal Cycle, with different branches/versions of the Eldren in other dimensions (including the Vadhagh, Corum's people, who are classic High Elves) shown mostly according to this trope, while still having a strong hint of The Fair Folk to them. Additionally, the Melniboneans barely live longer than the standard human (Elric's father Sadric, died of natural causes) - the Melniboneans are seen as a branch of proto-Eldren, they are Chaos-corrupted offshoot of the mainline of elder people that'd become the Long-Lived Eldren.
  • The Elven Ways series by Jenna Rhodes: The Vaelinar (the elves of the series) are largely of the High Elf variety. The Vaelinar are members of two opposing armies of an alien race that arrived on the world of Kerith, after being hit with a magical weapon known as "The Hammer of War". These alien elves have all the physical characteristics of the High Elf sort (though they appear to be physically stronger than humans) and many possess innate magical talents. The elves have carved a prominent place in the world for several reasons — they have a monopoly on magic when the gods of Kerith removed it from the native races, they were more advanced technologically, and due to the alienness of their nature — the elves can use summon magic to coerce the gods of Kerith (something the gods of their old world were almost immune to). The only reasons they haven't conquered Kerith is their small infertile population and their desire to return their original dimension. Elven superiority goes up a notch in the final 2 books, it turns out that the Elven gods are all previously mortal elves who were powerful enough to achieve apotheosis and are more than a match for any Kerith god. This leads to a race against time to prevent an invasion by the Elves of the original Vaelinar homeworld.
  • Factory of the Gods: Elves are called Aelifs and, in addition to standard elf traits, have sonar and can leap like grasshoppers.
  • Long-predating Tolkien, the elfes in The Faerie Queene are established as a powerful race associated with womanly beauty, old magick, and great wisdom owing to their creation and enlightenment by Prometheus. In practice, though, the act just like humans. They wear armor, ride horses, succumb to sin, and partake in bloody duels reminiscent of medieval warfare.
  • Falling With Folded Wings: Ardeni are blue-skinned humanoids with extremely colorful hair, as well as proficiency in both magic and hunting. They fit the classic "forest elf" stereotype reasonably well.
  • The Faraway Paladin has mainly wood elves. According to their Creation Myth, the elves were originally fae of wind and earth who became enamored of humans, so Rhea Silvia, goddess of the wildlands, gave them Long-Lived humanoid bodies by request. The elves see themselves as stewards of the forest and can train to become Genius Loci "Lords of the Wood" rather than dying. Furthermore, unlike other versions, they do eat meat and cut trees: keeping a forest healthy means removing sick trees and keeping animal populations in check, and their famed archery skills are a result of their hunting tradition. This makes them excellent defensive guerrilla fighters: Blood once told Will that getting in a fight with an elf in the forest is suicide. Will meets a half-elf hunter and mercenary named Meneldor in volume 2 who becomes his best friend, then in volume 4 he meets the local equivalent of the elves of Mirkwood: a dying village whose forest was turned into a poisonous bog by the miasma of the foul-dragon Valacirca, who conquered the underground dwarf city bordering them during the demon invasion 200 years earlier.
  • The Forbidden Towers, a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book in the Fantasy Forest series, elves can live for hundreds of years, jump really high/far, "disappear" (teleport), and by quickly rubbing their thumb across their other fingers create the "elven spark" — a tiny bolt of electricity which can stun small enemies and start fires. It's not really clear how well they get along with humans, though some creatures do apparently like to eat elves in particular.
  • Forest of Boland Light Railway: The wood elves are known as Cowsies, and help the gnomes drive the goblins out of the forest. In gratitude the elves get to ride the train for free.
  • Garrett, P.I.:
    • Dark elves don't live underground, are nihilists, and dress like they just walked out of the medieval edition of GQ. Morley Dotes, the protagonist's sort-of-friend, fits the half-elf trope minus the low self-esteem, as he's half dark elf and has inherited several levels of badass from his elven side (multiclassing in Chick Magnet).
    • High elves stick with their image, including being bigoted against their own half-elven offspring. Seldom seen in the novels, they're a bunch of uptight snobs, albeit more middle-class than "noble".
  • Green Rider has the Elt or Eletians, elves in all but name. They're incredibly arrogant and very conscious of how much innate magic they have compared to humans. On occasion, though, the human characters will call them on it—and on how unhelpful they can be when the fate of the world is at stake. The trope is also subverted when the villain of the first book is an Eletian gone bad.
  • Harry Potter: The House Elves are ugly, diminutive humanoids who serve a Slave Race to wizards and are perfectly happy with this. They rather more closely fit the description of brownies or some of the earlier legends of kobolds, though; they're called elves, but they're not really elves as this particular trope page describes them.
  • The Hollows: Elves are a large departure from the usual depiction. They look much like humans (though some crop their ears to blend in) and only live a couple of centuries as opposed to the typical near immortality. They are a little faster and stronger than humans, and while they can use magic, this is not unique to their race nor are they any better at it than any other. However, some practice what is called "wild magic", which comes from gods and is unpredictable but powerful. They pass as 'old money' humans to blend into society and maintain the remnants of feudalism. In fact, they have a lot of human blood thanks to interbreeding to try to stave off extinction due to genetic damage that causes a high infant mortality rate. They lack the connection to nature most other types of elves have, but in an interesting example of Post-Modern Magik, they are heavily invested in illegal genetic engineering technology, as they seek to repair their genome.
  • Halkara in I've Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level, apart from being a competent businesswoman and ditzy alcoholic, has no combat or magical skills usually associated with Elves. She carries no bow and would probably shoot herself in the foot if she tried to use one, and her only ability that can be said as elven is her ability to recognize plants and make medicine. Halkara is also the curviest, largest-breasted character in the main party, contrary to the usual image of elves as slender and androgynous. Later, when Azusa and her Family of Choice visit the Elven homeland, the Elves are found to live in built-up, almost urban areas with a highly developed mass transit system. Elves work at everyday jobs and seem to have very few threats or reasons to be armed and adventurous. (And Halkara's mom turns out to have even larger breasts).
  • Inheritance Cycle: The elves are vegetarian, atheist, and possess superhuman physical strength and speed that allows them to best the most well-trained humans. They are every bit as arrogant and elitist as expected, view humans as too corruptible to be trusted with power and the dwarves as misguided zealots who, because they believe in gods, must surely be idiots who ignore all reason and logic. They're also masters of deception, and while they never actually lie, they are known for never revealing the whole truth, or saying something but meaning something different. Eragon briefly adopts their vegetarian lifestyle, but relents on it in the next book, and rejects their notions of atheism altogether. In the third book, a being that may have been one of the dwarf gods appears, implying that the elves may be wrong about that particular belief. They also consider humans primitive and brutish, while they rely on innate (read: primitively instinctual) magic to beat the humans' siege engines, crossbows, and superior forging (the elf weapons are only "better" because they are imbued with spells and such).
  • Iron Elves: There are the elves of the Long Watch, who bond at birth with trees called Siver Oaks, some to the point where they become functionally insane and eventually lapse into catatonia. Then there are Iron Elves, who are born with black ear tips, cannot bond with trees but, unlike the elves of the Long Watch can use iron. Originally such elves were left exposed to die, where they were scooped up and recruited by the Black Monarch. There are also the Elfkynan who live on the other side of the Cahlaran Empire, look like Long Watch elves and, except for the tree bonding act like them but neither they nor the Long Watch consider them elves.
  • Janus: The Iftin are both Space Elves — they are (or rather, were) the original native intelligent species of the planet Janus — and Wood Elves. They were wiped out long before the arrival of human colonists, but set traps to create changelings so that their race would continue. Messing with any of the traps causes the person handling it to fall ill with the Green Sick, after which one is physically Iftin — green-skinned, pointy-eared, and bald — and carries some memories of an original Ift person, generally those memories geared toward survival skills, such as recognizing edible plants. The Janus novels play the trope straight — the traps cause the victims to become xenophobic toward their former kind; they theorize that this was at least partly intended to keep them from trying to resume their former lives.
  • Jerlayne by Lynn Abbey: Elves are mainly Heinz Hybrids of human and goblin (goblins look like a traditional Dark Elf, so it's easy for them to get game). They were deliberately birthed by the goblin queen to be labour (and occasionally livestock). Elves are encouraged by their goblin masters to breed so the local ecosystem can get something to fill a niche (an elf mating with an elf leads to random creatures). Elves go into our world to scavenge junk (only Elves can handle raw iron and only female Elves can render iron inert for safe handling by other races of that dimension), this is more dangerous in the 20th century due to the increased number of muggers. Female elves also come over occasionally to mate with humans (elves can only be consistently born when an elf mates with a human who has some elven ancestry). Elven immortality is only a side-effect of living in another dimension, and a human living there gets the same effect.
  • The John Carter of Mars story The Gods of Mars provides the blueprint for most Dark Elves (most specifically, Dungeons & Dragons' drow elves) with the Black Martians, or "First-Born of Mars", a race of dark-skinned pirates who live in an Underground City at their planet's south pole, where they worship an evil goddess, Issus, who demands mass sacrifice from Mars' other races. One First-Born officer, Xodar, begins to suspect that Issus is a fraud, and teams up with the heroes to bring her down, which means that yes, there have been Drizzt clones before there was a Drizzt.
  • The Kingston Cycle: The Amaranthine are ageless, powerfully magical, and so beautiful that their un-Glamoured appearance is a Brown Note to humans. Moreover, they live in the human afterlife and are believed to be the endowed servants of the Makers, so their Grand Duchess holds authority over any earthly monarch. Fortunately for humans, they rarely involve themselves in mortal affairs.
  • The Laundry Files: The alfär are advanced alternate-universe hominid descendants of gracile australopithecines, who are depicted as a cross between The Fair Folk and modern-fantasy "dark elves". Compared to humans, their evolutionary past is as more solitary hunters, leading them to have a viciously Might Makes Right society in which everybody is bound to their superiors by terrifyingly powerful geasa. They are naturally better at magic than humans, but as a result never developed beyond Middle Ages technology. They invade Earth after their homeworld suffers a magical apocalypse.
  • Light and Dark: The Awakening of the Mage Knight: Downplayed. The elves aren't arrogant and don't look down on others, but if a human asks how they heard something or recovered so fast the elf will be quick to respond that their hearing is better and their bodies respond better to magical healing.
  • The Long Earth: "Elf" is the designation Lobsang gives to several types of sapient primate apparently evolved from chimpanzees. They're slender and lightly furred, with faces (depending on which subspecies) of varying degrees of mixed features of human and chimp. One is apparently entirely bestial, another of about Neolithic level of technology, and the third has the most human features and a larger braincase. Despite this, the third type is actually the least intelligent subset and is sometimes bred and used by the other elves as cattle. All can travel between the alternate Earths that make up the Long Earth and are the source of stories both of elves and more recently of The Greys.
  • Loyal Enemies: The elves of Ash Grove are pointy-eared humanoids who can interbreed with humans. They're usually slimmer-built, stronger, more agile and longer-lived than humans and are absolutely convinced of their superiority over other races — a sentiment that said other races don't really share, calling the elves derogatively "the pointy-eared ones". Those living in Ash Grove utilize some kind of nature magic centered around an artefact known as the Staff of Fertility to make their city look like it grew naturally.
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: For the most part, the elves of Alfheim are very unimpressive. They're mortal, not at all graceful or particularly beautiful (some of them are so weird-looking that they're the In-Universe inspiration behind The Greys), aren't in tune with nature at all, and haven't been able to use magic for centuries. They're also every bit as prejudiced and intolerant as humans, if not more so as they can't stand things that aren't "perfect". This has made life hell for Hearthstone, who having been born deaf was seen as imperfect by his parents, which marked him as The Un-Favourite. Despite not being any better than the other races in the series, they still think they're naturally superior to everyone else for some reason, something Magnus, Hearthstone, and pretty much everyone else in the nine worlds thinks is a load of crap.
  • Majyk by Accident has the Welfies, kind of a cross between elf and fairy. In Welfie society, males are tall and willowy with the long blond hair and the pointy ears but are expert archers and rangers. How they hide in the woods wearing sequin-encrusted pink leotards is anybody's guess. Welfie warriors (a male-only occupation) are the only tribesmen allowed to eat meat besides the elders. Welfie elders communicate only psionically. All Welfies can change their size and do so as a matter of fashion. When they're small, they live in mushrooms and housing shortages are created when tall Welfies are a la mode. Female Welfies are expected to remain subservient and "foot it fleetly upon the merry greensward, ho" whilst gathering flowers and moonbeams and generally being all pretty and stuff. Some of them resent this.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: The Tiste are basically elves minus the pointy ears. As a general rule, they are taller than humans, more slender, more beautiful, long-lived and can look back on an ancient civilization. They are also a massive deconstruction, alien to the realm of the Malazan Empire and perceived as such. Also, neither Tiste people is known for any kind of crafts or archery. There are, however, half-bloods where they have interbred with humans. The particular types are:
    • Tiste Andii, the Children of Darkness, or Drow Expies. Black-skinned and white-, black- or red-haired, the Andii are a clear case of Dark Is Not Evil. If not for Anomander Rake finding causes for them to fight for, they would also probably all die of ennui, as their long lives have made them apathetic to everything. Ironically, their main group — Anomander Rake's followers — live in a floating castle, Moon's Spawn, while the remnants of Silchas Ruin's followers, the Andii of Bluerose, do live in an Underground City, but have interbred with humans so much there are only a handful of pure Andii left.
    • The Tiste Edur, the Children of Shadow, or Wood Elves. Ruthless isolationists living in forest villages in a cold northern climate and following a rigid hierarchy, having mostly forgotten their history after the disappearance of their leader, Father Shadow. They think they are better than everyone else, but are seen as barbaric by others and looked down upon by both the Andii and the Liosan. Grey-skinned and brown- or red-haired.
    • The Tiste Liosan, the Children of Light, or High Elves. That's what they think they are, but anyone who has ever encountered one agrees that Light Is Not Good and one Can't Argue with Elves. They are the most isolationist of the three Tiste peoples, living in their own realm and looking down their noses at everyone else. They are also, despite their posturing, the least effective in combat. White-skinned and silver- or gold-haired.
  • M.C.A. Hogarth: A couple of series deconstruct elves:
    • The Blood Ladders: Elves are immortal not only in the sense of never aging, but they also have a Healing Factor that means most Duels to the Death among them involve chopping each other up and burning the pieces. They're also inherently magical but as they get older more and more of their magic gets tied up in maintaining their immortality, with few exceptions such as the King and Prince. And the human kingdoms drove them out centuries ago because they have a habit of enslaving humans and draining magic from them so they all live on one hidden island ruled by a bunch of petty feudal lords who are constantly warring with each other.
    • Paradox: The Eldritch don't have pointy ears, but they are very tall and thin, can live for over a thousand years, and have Psychic Powers. They're also dying out from a combination of a low birth rate a side effect of the genetic engineering that caused their longevity, they're really a Lost Colony of humans, medieval medical technology that kills many of them in childhood, and inbreeding. They are allied with the highly advanced Alliance but most of the noble Houses are too xenophobic to accept their help.
  • Mercedes Lackey:
    • The Halfblood Chronicles: The elves aren't native to the series' world, as they fled there through a portal from a magical civil war in their own world against another species. They're much stronger and more magically adept than humans — although they cannot use the Psychic Powers humans can develop — and the first thing these refugees did was to conquer the nearby human kingdoms, set themselves up as all-powerful overlords, and indoctrinate all humans until they believed they'd always been slaves. They're extremely arrogant, and hate each other as much as any other race and fight one another, mostly over power. They're also fading from the world as it's hard for an elven lord to find a bride he approves of, and they're slowly breeding themselves out of existence. Half-Human Hybrids are possible, and have both the magic of the elves' and the humans' telepathy.
    • The Obsidian Trilogy: The Elves have a lifespan on average of a thousand years, which has allowed them to develop an acute eye for detail and perfect various crafts. It's also allowed them to develop a rigid form of etiquette that humans often find infuriating (a key taboo is asking questions in any form, save in times of war). Lampshaded when the main character begins to get snarky about mentioning their perfection. Also, the elves don't have much magic, since they traded it for "peace and long lives".
    • SERR Ated Edge features classic versions of High Elves (tall, pointed ears, magical, immortal) who incidentally drive race cars. They must have needed a little extra badass.
  • Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn: The Sithi and their cousins the Norns are pretty archetypical elves, despite that term never being used for them. They're virtually immortal (it's said that a Sitha lives until something kills them or they get tired of life — they do seem to eventually reach a point where old age starts getting to them, but it takes millennia, and only the Norn Queen — the oldest of either race by a fair margin — actually shows visible signs of aging), powerfully magicalnote  and not overly fond of mortalsnote . They're also very alien by human standards, which seems like a combination of vast cultural differences, their long lives giving them an eerily long-term perspective, and the fact that most humans are pretty terrible at reading Sithi body language. The Sithi are a mix of High Elf and Wood Elf traits, and are generally benevolent, if isolationist; the Norns are arctic Dark Elves and extremely nasty customers — while the Sithi aren't exactly fond of humanity, the Norns think the only good human is a dead human.
  • Mick Oberon: The Aes Sidhe are basically High Elves, although in their real forms they're not overly tall, and Mick isn't that good looking. Other than that, though, he's stronger, tougher, longer-lived, more perceptive, more magical, and more pretty much everything else than humans, and never lets you forget it, either.
  • Monster Hunter International: The elves live in the Enchanted Forest, a backcountry trailer park in rural Mississippi where they stay because the government pays them to not cause any trouble with the humans, and Queen Ilrondelia fits every white trash stereotype to a sickening degree. They do have a strong innate knowledge of magic and they're one of Harbinger's biggest go-tos when dealing with strange otherworldly phenomena, but their personalities tend to grate pretty quickly. On the other hand, later books off-handedly mention that the elves who live in Europe fit the standard High Elf stereotypes more, though it's also mentioned Tolkien might have exaggerated a little about them. They're both still pretty damn high-and-mighty about themselves, however.
  • My Vampire Older Sister and Zombie Little Sister has dark elves, which are a blend of the Norse dark elves and the elves from English folklore. The "better" part of this trope is subverted, as they aren't all that different from humans. Aside from a longer lifespan, their only other advantages are some minor supernatural abilities (though these can still be very effective in a fight). They can interbreed with humans to produce part-elven offspring.
  • Nightrunner has the Aurënfaie. For all practical purposes they are elves in terms of having very long lifespans, innate aptitude for magic and an isolationist homeland. However, other than being a race of Bishōnen, they are indistinguishable from humans unless one is familiar with them. Also, rather than having a single monolithic culture, within their (fairly large) homeland they are divided into clans with very different cultural sub-groups. This is lampshaded by the Aurënfaie protagonist Seregil when another character finally figures out (based on overheard conversations) what Seregil is and is surprised.
    Seregil: You seemed to think we were all great mages or nectar-sipping fairie folk.
  • Nine Goblins: Elves are tremendous snobs. Sings To Trees, who's a less glamorous version of a wood elf (he's a friend to all living things, even the ugly ones), doesn't have much truck with the general superior attitude though, finding it hypocritical.
  • Pale: Elves are mentioned as a point on the spectrum between the "higher" Courts of Faerie and the fairy markets (which are populated by the more diminutive, insectile, and/or butterfly-winged variety). They are generally found in the position of liaison between more human realms and their Fae masters. An additional mention is made of their literature - vast, sprawling epics that would take most humans a majority of their lifetime to read through.
  • A Practical Guide to Evil: The elves of Golden Bloom are technically aligned with the side of Good to such an absurd degree that they consider basically all non-heroes to be evil scum and are so xenophobic and isolationist that any human who comes close to their kingdom in the Golden Bloom is killed without warning. They are also physically superior to humans, with a small unit of elven troops reportedly able to slaughter battalions of conventional troops with no casualties. The greater whole of the elvish race also goes against the grain of the trope. Rather than being a small, isolated society, they control a massive continent-spanning empire where interbreeding with other races is common. The Elves of the Golden Bloom used to be a part of this empire but they either left or were kicked out for being xenophobic.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: They have some hierarchical society, have some form of immortality, and they have Pointy Ears. Also, they probably can see in the dark, since their half-elf half-human children probably inherited from their elven half and humans can't see in the dark, so it's likely not from that side.
  • Prophecy Approved Companion: Qube, is a half-elf, which means that elves can breed with humans.
  • Quantum Gravity: Elves' ears reach the tips of their heads—though they do not stick out at any notable angle. They are either immortal, or close enough to it that humans haven't noticed. They can be controlled by their True Names in any realm, and any creature can be controlled by his/her True Name there, though elves are still the most vulnerable. By human standards, everyone is a spy, at least to some extent. The pale hair/skin/eyes holds true except for shadow elves who are particularly dark at night.
  • Reign of the Seven Spellblades: Elves are about the only species of demihumans treated as equals by mages, and sometimes interbreed with them: Chela is half-and-half and can take on a fully elven form to increase her spellcasting ability for short periods. Khiirgi "Avarice" Albschuch, a sixth-year aligned to the conservative faction, is the only full-blooded elf character introduced so far, described as extremely pale-skinned as well as an Alpha Bitch (she brags about repeatedly "cucking" another female character during a confrontation in volume 6).
  • The Relic Guild by Edward Cox: The Aelfir are a bit different than most depictions of elves. They lack many of the usual elven advantages including the longevity and, outside of being typically better at magic and having pointy ears, larger eyes and triangular faces, the Aelfir are much like humans (they have the same lifespan, there are fat and large Aelfir, etc.) What makes the Aelfir superior to humans in the series is that they don't have the usual Elf disadvantages either. In the series' background, there are one million humans but scattered through 100 dimensional kingdoms — there are billions of Aelfir. Barring a few kingdoms that stick to the old ways, Aelfir also don't suffer from Medieval Stasis, and keep advancing their Magitek through laboratories and scientific research — humans actually pay top dollar to steal Aelfir trinkets. To top it off, humanity is stuck being the gate keepers to a giant labyrinth which is both a Land of One City and a Cosmic Keystone, the place has no capacity for agriculture and for the past forty years humanity only survives because of weekly food donations from an unknown Aelfir House.
  • Realm of the Elderlings: The Elderling combine this with Lizard Folk. They're tall, slender and beautiful and before catastrophe struck lived in a civilization of Crystal Spires and Togas, but they also have scales and claws. This is due to their having been created from humans as a servant race by dragons.
  • The Riftwar Cycle: The elves were originally a single race, kept as slaves by the ancient Dragon Lords. When the Dragon Lords vanished, they split into four groups. The Eledhel descended from the outdoor slaves, and became fairly typical Wood Elves, complete with a Tree Top Town. The house slaves, who worked more closely with their masters, became the Moredhel, surface-dwelling Dark Elves who spend much of their time fighting each other or the other inhabitants of the world. The Eldar, who specialized in skilled or scholarly work, withdrew from the world and became High Elves. A fourth group, the Glamredhel, were driven mad by the disappearance of the Dragon Lords; the final break between the Eledhel and Moredhel came when the latter wage a war of extermination against the Glamredhel. A small group of surviving Glamredhel are found later on in the story, in a Hidden Elf Village.
  • Rogues of the Republic: Nature-loving Magitek cyborgs who might have been human once. They were a servant race of the ancients and helped maintain their machines, but now that the ancients are gone and their technology is not properly maintained, the elves try to stay away from it because the malfunctioning energy has odd effects on the crystals implanted in their bodies.
  • Second Apocalypse: The Nonmen are the setting's elf-equivalent. They were present in Earwë long before humans arrived. They are impossibly beautiful, but also creepy, with utterly hairless bodies, flawless white skin, faces like porcelain dolls, and teeth that are fused together. They were cursed with immortality and a gendercide, so only adult males are left, and many of them have gone insane due to The Fog of Ages. In spite of or because of all that, individuals can be arrogant, horrific and extraordinarily powerful.
  • Shannara: The Elves used to be magical and long-lived, but now have human lifespans and are no more likely to have magic or know how to use their ancestors' stuff than anyone else. As a culture they do retain a lifestyle based on respect for the Earth, which makes them the moral center of the Four Lands in some ways, but individuals range from nice to treacherous and from sensible to foolish.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The Children of the Forest, while certainly quite different in appearance (they're only slightly larger than children, have catlike eyes and skin patterned like deers' coats, and their hands have four fingers tipped with black claws), otherwise fit neatly into the Wood Elf mold, being a reclusive, magical non-human species who once lived throughout the forests of the world but has steadily lost ground to humanity over history, and in the present endures in a single, highly isolated village.
    • Although in the show they're more akin to zombies, in the books the White Walkers are closer to the High Elves; mysterious mystical light-skinned creatures with long white hair. Their females can even seduce men.
    • Valyrians are counted as humans, but they certainly channel many aspects of high fantasy Elves. No one knows how or why, but they all had silver or platinum-blonde hair, violet or purple eyes and were strikingly beautiful. Their empire, the Valyrian Freehold was an unmatched power in their corner of the world for at least 5,000 years because the people who lived in the area are just naturally gifted at magic, which in this setting is very unusual. The capitol of Valyria was a nexus point of unmatched magical, scientific and metalworking breakthroughs that very few people can even understand let alone imitate. And of course, there was their mastery of dragons including horns that can allegedly bind them to the will of the hornblower.
  • The Sovereign Stone: As a race, Elves are airy, beautiful, exceptionally polite and gracefully tall. On the other hand, their obsessive dedication to honor, politeness and tradition just serves to hide (and encourage) the incredibly vitriolic relationships between different houses, and between the Divine (spiritual leader of the race) and the Shield of the Divine (military leader) and associated houses, with the end result being that have the entire elven nation is constantly on the verge of an all-out civil war.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles: The elves draw much from of their characteristics from Victorian and medieval fairy lore. They are long-lived, capricious, and spend their days idling and partying under their fairy mound homes. In the first series of books, the elves have Arthur Spiderwick living with them, but his time among them means he has not aged even by a day.
  • Spinning Silver: The Staryk are a snow/ice elf variation who live in a snowy other realm connected to-yet-apart from the "sunlit" mortal lands. They function via Exact Words and Blue-and-Orange Morality like most Fair Folk-style elves, but they also cannot leave their kingdom except in winter, and even then only their King and other high nobility can. They also melt when they're injured, have an aversion to heat, and can be healed with magic ice.
  • Stardust: The inhabitants of Stormhold, who come across as essentially amoral humans with pointed ears — particularly the male rulers, who wear the hat of being a bunch of Evil Princes.
  • The Sundering: The elves aren't called elves (the name used is Ellylon) but they're this in all but name. It's downplayed in that yes, the Ellyl are ageless, pretty, magical, and the favorite children of the lead Valar-expy. They are so perfect that humans have waged war on them out of envy for their gifts. They are also smug, self-righteous Knight Templars who are perfectly willing to genocide other races if they think it is their creator's will and will never admit to being wrong.
  • Tinker: The elves are all beautiful — and snobs. Their society is based on a combination of Magitek and Organic Technology.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium, being the Trope Maker for high-fantasy elves in general, is both the origin of modern fantasy elves and something of an Unbuilt Trope regarding them as well.
    • Arda's Elves — Quendi, as they name themselves — are immortal and ageless, tall, beautiful, musical, highly skilled, and physically far healthier and enduring than humans. Only two are specifically mentioned to have facial hair (it is mentioned that they are very very old). They even get different afterlives: the spirits of dead elves go the Halls of Mandos, and as they remain tied to the world, they may later reincarnate back to corporeal life if they wish — this is in contrast to Men, whose spirits depart the world entirely for unknown destinations. They can be as stupid, pig-headed or flawed as any human — often even more so — and their past contains a long history of pride, bad decisions, civil wars and petty betrayals. However, these elves are not generally arrogant (though there are a few notable exceptions): but they can definitely make you feel inferior purely by accident. Also, their hesitancy to form close emotional bonds with humans isn't because they think they're better but because they're painfully aware of how short human lives are, and that giving affection to anyone makes you vulnerable. Their general attitude towards humans they don't know anything about, is best described as cautious but genuine hospitality. When they do get to know and like a human though, they'll be just as kind and loyal and generous as to an elven friend. Dwarves though, are another matter entirely...though this somewhat depends on the elf and their personal history with dwarves.
    • Half-Human Hybrids are extremely rare, but do exist; due to the nature of human and elven afterlives, they are not actual hybrids and must eventually decide to be true humans or true elves.
    • They consist of multiple distinct nations and cultures, whose differences codified the Wood Elves/High Elves distinction in later media. Although their kind includes Dark Elves, it has nothing to do with being evil; Tolkien's "Elves of Darkness" are simply those who never went to Valinor and are comparatively primitive. The distinctions between the different elven cultures, however, are much less intense than they are in later media — the Silvan Elves, for instance, live in the forest, are skilled trackers and are more isolationist and standoffish than other groups, but these differences are chiefly cultural and often lost on non-Elves, they lack later wood elves' intense investment in ruthlessly protecting nature, and both of their remaining kingdoms are ruled by elves from other groups who have largely adopted their local cultures.
    • There is a very extensive in-universe genealogy of the various elven peoples, starting with their original creation in the dawn of history. The first split occurred when the godlike Valar called the Elves to journey from their birthplace to Valinor, resulting in a division between the Eldar, who answered the summons and traveled west, and the Avari, who refused and remained in the distant east. The Eldar were further grouped into three tribes, the Vanyar, Noldor and Teleri. A second split happened when the Elves reached Middle-Earth proper and had to cross the Misty Mountains; many Teleri flatly refused to do so and stayed in the Wilderland behind them, where they were eventually joined by some groups of Avari and became the ancestors of the Silvan Elves. The rest crossed the mountains and traveled until they reached the ocean, at which point half of the remaining Teleri balked and stayed behind, becoming the Sindar or Grey Elves, while the Vanyar, Noldor and remaining Teleri (afterwards called the Falmari) crossed the seas and reached Valinor. Collectively, the Avari, Silvan Elves and Sindar are the ones called the Dark Elves, while others are the Light Elves.
    • This divide remained for the bulk of the First Age, with the Silvan Elves living in eastern Middle-Earth, the Noldori kingdoms in its west and the Light Elves in Valinor. A series of political and cultural schisms there eventually led a number of Noldor to head back across the seas, getting themselves exiled from Valinor in the process, where they established a handful of kingdoms among the Sindar's. Eventually, as the decline of Middle-Earth and the Elves in particular set in in force, most Elves, regardless of kindred, either died out or sailed to Valinor. By the time of The Lord of the Rings, most of what's left is a handful of chiefly Sindarin and Silvan enclaves ruled by the remnants of the Noldor nobility or, in the case of the Elves of Mirkwood, Silvan elves ruled by Sindar kings.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland discusses this trope alongside other fantasy staples. Elves are, as usual, immortal (and youthful), and wiser, more ethereal, more magical, better-looking and just generally better than humans. They were, at least according to themselves, the first people in Fantasyland and were created directly by the gods. They have been in decline since humans turned up, and now most of them are passing West — which here means they have been moving to the American Southwest, where they wear punk clothing and ride motorcycles.
  • The Traitor Son Cycle: Elves in this setting are known as the Irks. Irks are immortal shapeshifters, capable of switching between beautiful "party face" and more orc-like, horrifying "war-face". Many of them are capable of powerful magic.
  • Trapped on Draconica: They're called "shadori", and have purple skin but still have the pointed ears. The most prominent example is Taurok, a soldier with greater nobility than most of the human cast and greater sword skill than anyone. Despite all this, his human subordinates think they're better than he and don't want to be lead by him.
  • Trash of the Count's Family: Elves live in isolated villages that are usually hidden with illusion magic from most of humanity. Elves use magic by bonding with elementals, which are nature spirits. They also keep a branch of the World Tree in each village. They're noted to be extremely beautiful, magical, in tune with nature, and mostly peaceful. However, they're also tend to be incredibly frustrating, haughty, and uncooperative with anyone who isn't an elf. Dark Elves also exist, but because they exist with the darkness attribute and have to consume Dead Mana to stay alive they're ostracized and ended up even more hidden.
  • Vainqueur The Dragon: The Dragon Hoard shown in the first chapter contained loot from "the retinue of an elven princess".
  • Villains by Necessity: Mizzamir is a fairly standard High Elf, he literally lives in a Crystal tower. Nathauans are Dark Elves in all but name (one theory In-Universe being they're of elven blood): subterranean, hate sunlight, sadistic and cruel, take surface dwellers as slaves, etc.
  • Wicked: The local tree elves are incredibly unimaginative and laugh at everything, even one of their friends falling to their death from a tree. Melena is consequently very offended when her nanny asks if her mysteriously green-skinned daughter is the result of a fling with an elf.
  • Wind and Sparks: Elves combine most listed traits of High Elves and Wood Elves. Arrogant, magical, warlike, in tune with nature, closed to outsiders. Yet "better" part is averted or subverted at every opportunity.
    • Their kingdom is old, but it cannot be very old, the world was created mere thousands years ago and there are still some creatures that witnessed the process. Yet it's old enough to become a Vestigial Empire with every House plotting against others. Del'be (their king) sees the advantages of peace with humans, but the clans of professional executioners living far from the battle zone wouldn't have it.
    • Despite centuries of decline (central theme of the cycle) human magic is still superior to elvish magic. Perhaps the decline hits them just as hard.
    • They consider bows a weapon unbecoming to men. Only women are allowed to use them, which means shorter range and lighter arrows. Crossbows are OK, but their rate of fire is much lower. When humans ally with Winged Humanoids who fling javelins from high above, elves can't do anything.
    • They seem to be the ones attuned to nature like nobody else. At one point an elf demonstrates a superhuman ability to "listen" to the forest sensing events miles away. Then a Badass Normal human beats him at his own game.
    • They are being ravaged by human diseases (another Magical Native American trait), but are too arrogant to use human medical knowledge.
    • They are A Nazi by Any Other Name, but despite their claims aren't even Wicked Cultured. Not anymore at least. The coup attempt we get to see is poorly thought-out and executed. Their talent for inventive torture is an Informed Ability, they seem to only go for quantity.
    • Their ancient architecture is nice. But they don't seem to build anything new.
    • It's hinted that their conflict with human-dominated Empire started when a magic war made half the world uninhabitable, and refugees started encroaching on their lands. Since then they've been gradually losing lands.
  • The elves in the White Trash Warlock series are akin to high elves, though rather than being in a medieval stasis, the ones in the Faerie Court we've seen dress in styles from the 1920s. They are nearly immortal, highly magical, and live in Alfheimr. The higher-ranking, more powerful monarchs among them are akin to minor gods, their elaborate series of courts follow Tarot Motifs, and while they have shades of The Fair Folk, they can lie.
  • The Witcher:
    • Elves are long-lived (averaging 300 to 600 years depending on subpopulation), are distinguished from humans by being taller and having moderately long pointy ears, grow no facial hair, constantly belittle humans, and like to be In Tune With Nature, but having been driven by humans to barren highlands (the humans came from across the sea and did to elves what barbarians did to Rome), they had to learn human farming techniques to support their populace. The ones on the Continent are actually a faction of the race called Aen Seidhe ("Hill Folk") — there are also Aen Elle ("Alder Folk"), who slipped into another planet at the time of Conjunction (a cosmic event many many years ago) and retained their sophisticated culture by slaughtering the local humans and (sapient) unicorns. Now they play The Fair Folk and frequently invade and raid other worlds using dimensional travel, most notably by kidnapping humans from the Aen Seidhe's plane to make them their slaves. The Big Bad of the franchise, Eredin Bréacc Glas, has plans to harvest magical blood in order to expand his kingdom's world-hopping portals abilities so he can became a full Multiversal Conqueror (Galactic Conqueror?).
    • There are also the Black Seidhe, another faction of elves who unified with a group of humans a thousand years before the series takes place. Centuries of interbreeding and development between the two groups results in the Nilfgaardian Empire, the strongest polity on the Continent. Due to humans breeding faster than elves, most Nilfgaardians, even "pure" ones descended from the original two ethnic groups (as opposed to peoples conquered later), are mostly human with only minor blood and features derived from the elves, but their culture remains strongly influenced by their elven ancestors, with their language being mutually intelligible with the Elder Speech that the Aen Seidhe use. While the Aen Seidhe are clear Wood Elves and the Aen Elle clear Dark Elves, the Nilfgaardians' ancestors are the closest thing the setting has to High Elves.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance: Before the events in the film, there were seven old clans divided among High Elf and Wood Elf analogs. They are "the proud Vapra" who lived in a mountain city, "the fierce Stonewood" who lived in a forest, "the gentle Grottan" who lived in underground caves, the amphibious Drenchen who lived in a swamp, the agricultural Spriton who lived in grasslands, the sea-faring Sifa who lived on a coastline, and the death worshipping Dousan who lived in the Crystal Desert.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:
    • Elrond is a Half-Human Hybrid.
    • There are the High Elves of Noldor, living in Eregion. In Lindon, they are led by High-King Gil-galad. Their kingdoms are the most advanced, living in Shining Cities.
    • Galadriel herself belongs to three different elven races. Her paternal grandfather was Finwë, the High-King of the Noldorin elves in Valinor, her maternal grandfather is Olwë, the High-King of the Telerin elves in Valinor, and her paternal grandmother, Indis, is the kin of Ingwë, not just the High-King of the Vanyarin elves, but the High-King of all elves.
    • There are also Silvan Elves in Tir-harad, who are skilled trackers and intensely invested in protecting nature. Arondir himself is a Silvan Elf originar from from Beleriand.
  • One of the "guest segments" on The Sifl and Olly Show, featured Craig Allen the Forest Elf, a jaunty little fellow who sings a whimsical song about how at three inches tall a lima bean's a meal for him...and how he has a persistent cough from sleeping in a hollow log on freezing nights...and bull frogs keep mistaking him for an insect and snatching him into their gullets...and how he's so tiny in a world of darkness and predators.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Classical Mythology: The nymphs. Despite being flanderized into benevolent Succubi and Incubi, in actual mythology they were very similar to what we think of as wood elves.
  • The Finnish word for elf, haltia (used almost exclusively in literature, both indigenous and translated) is cognate to word haltija, meaning "proprietor" or "possessor". The original haltias of Finnish mythology were proprietary or patron spirits or creatures of various places, locations, or occupations. They were considered to be semi-corporeal, very much like what Tolkien's elves would become by "fading" if they stayed in the Middle-earth instead of escaping to the Undying Lands.

    The ancestor spirit association is also present with haltia. For long it was believed that the first person to set a fire in the stove of a newly built house would become its haltia after death, looking after and protecting its occupants. Later on these spirits became mixed with the Scandinavian tomte, and became invisible, gnome-like servants of the household with no history as deceased humans, similar to the house elfs of Anglo-Saxon lore.
  • Norse Mythology is where it all started.
    • They were more magically gifted, long lived/immortal, and very beautiful. The dwarves, in Norse the dvergar, were a subrace of elves, and commonly called svartálfar or dökkálfar (black/dark elves), who aren't believed to have been a separate race from dwarves. They even mated with humans to create Half-Human Hybrids. There were some things which didn't make it into modern times: they could also phase through walls, they lived on their own plane called Álfheimr, and they had facial hair. The Prose Edda says there were two races of elves, although how much of this idea applied to earlier Norse beliefs is uncertain:
      There are many magnificient dwellings. One is there called Álfheimr. There dwell the folk that are called light-elves; but the dark-elves dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike the light-elves in appearance, but much more so in deeds. The light-elves are fairer than the sun to look upon, but the dark-elves are blacker than pitch.
    • In earlier Norse myths, the Dvergar were entirely separate from the Álfar, having sprung from Ymir's flesh as maggots. The idea they were a subset of elves was made fairly recently as far as the myths go, when Christianity was already taking hold in Scandinavia.
    • The Elves were also minor gods who held power over the lands they inhabited. Humans would hold Álfablót, where they would sacrifice animals, and sometimes slaves to the local elves for the sake of good crops. It was also possible for humans to become elves after death, like King Olaf Geirstad-Elf, and so Elves could be ancestor spirits that look after a people or household.
    • Interestingly, their early depictions were less negative than usual for The Fair Folk, being seen as largely morally ambivalent. As society Christianized, they were seen in an increasingly negative light, up to the point that they were demons in all but name.
  • Germanic Mythology has a bit of a different take
    • While the German tribes occupying present day Germany were arguably Norse, they had their own spin on the elfs (and are probably the originators of the name). The most important part of which was the fact that they had seemingly two types of elfs: the Alben and the Alpe. Both names originated for the Latin albus meaning white but they were quite different being.
    • The alp was an incubus in the traditional sense (incubo meaning "to lie upon"). While most other Norse tribes had the Mare, an always female incubus that is the source of the words for nightmare in multiple Germanic languages( nigh-mare in English, chauce-mar in French, mar-dröm in Swedish) the Germans had a few more words and creatures that caused nightmares. One of these creatures was the always male, Alp from which the German Alp-traum and of course Alp-zopf originate.(alpzoft meaning alp/elflock)
    • Beyond the Apl though the Germans also had the Alb. The Alben/Elben were deceivers and more similar to hidden/fae folk around Europe than to the Scandinavian Norse elfs. One thing of note about Alben is their king Alberich. Alberich means king of the elves and in Germany was the king of all fairies. Outside Germany the name changed to Auberon for the Franks, and Oberon when the English borrowed it. Probably the most important and relevant thing to note about him was the fact that he was a dwarf.
    • While the Scandinavian alfar were minor deities of normal stature whose ranks humans could join after death, the Germanic Alben/Elben seem to be more traditional fairies of a lesser more diminutive stature. Similar to how Alberich became the kings of the fairies by the middle ages, so too the continental Alben probably assimilated with other smaller fairies resulting in two opposing views of what an elf was. One, the tall, god like Norse elfe. The other, the diminutive, dwarf like elf that "birthed" the Christmas elves of the 19th century.


    Visual Novels 
  • Ebon Light: Gha'alian elves are able to see better in the dark than humans, and are implied to be physically stronger and have more endurance.
  • Sable's Grimoire: Elves are long-lived, innately magical beings who live in secluded villages deep within the forest and consider themselves superior to humans in most respects. All of them have pale skin, white hair and golden eyes. Dark elves are individuals who were exiled from their home villages and spent so long living outside the forest that they develop a tan.
  • Sword Daughter: The only elf who appears on-screen is a half-elf, but descriptions of the setting's elves fit neatly into the "high elf" mold. They're innately magical and more in tune with nature than humans, and apparently quite secretive and territorial.

  • 8-Bit Theater: The Elves are a parody of this trope. They like to think of themselves as superior, but are just as moronic, gullible, xenophobic and destructive as every other race. Possibly worse. In fact, they were responsible for oppressing the world for thousands of years with the help of evil dragons, caused at least one civilization to be incomprehensible because they had cooler stuff (namely Airships), have been exchanging atrocities with the dwarves for a long time for control of the Earth Orb, and have conquered the Giants to pillage their lands and use them as weapons. Even the Dark Elves aren't as bad as the main elves (the one we see is something of an Only Sane Man among the Dark Warriors), though given that the Dark Elves' national anthem included the refrain "We're a race of total bastards!" (before the other elves stole it) and Drizz'l stating that Thief's standing aside while his allies butchered his father while taking credit where politically advantageous practically counts as defending his father, they were simply out-bastarded.
  • Aurora (2019): Elves are one of the three primary mortal races, alongside humanity and the long-vanished Ancients. They're very closely tied to the elements of wind and lightning, whereas humans are collectively balanced between all six. Physically, they share long, pointed ears and skin in shades of the sky, such as blue, purple, and pale grey; they also live longer than humans on average. They are often weather mages, and possess literally "airy" dispositions and less cultural or emotional stability than usual in humanity. Multiple populations exist, including the main divide between Wind elves (more tied to wind, taller and with lighter skin) and Storm elves (more tied to lightning, shorter, stockier, and with darker skin and smaller ears). Smaller groups include the Dark Elves, who live underground and have skin mottled with star-like spots, and the poorly-known Cloud Elves, an extremely isolationist folk who live in a chain of floating islands with little contact with other folk. Notably, this isolationism is highly atypical in-universe, and most elves have few issues living and working alongside humans.
  • Barbi The Barbarienne has elves that are a cross between at least the typical High Elves and Wood Elves mentioned above and then some. Half the size of a human, ostensibly built yet admit humans have the raw strength advantage, are all raven-haired, have Punny/Narmy Names like Blinki, Queen Helokiti and Kymchi, but otherwise your standard arrogant, better-than-you Jerkasses with the bonus of psychic abilities. However said arrogance cost them an ancient war to Take Over the World against humanity they thought they had in the bag and ended up banished to a deserted island in the Caribbean or an Expy of it that they're magically confined to by an invisible barrier where they still act like the war's not over and this is just a minor setback despite humanity leaving them in the dust.
  • Charby the Vampirate: The elves certainly think themselves better than most everything else in Kellwood. They keep to themselves in their kingdom of Eldenlon but it appears to be a mix of Cultural Posturing and Fantastic Racism considering Eldenlon would have fallen to the fairies without the intervention of the Demon King. They also have a fair number of children with dragons, even the royal children are half-elf half-dragon.
  • Crimson Knights: They're called fairies, and they have slightly larger ears than your usual standard.
  • Daughter of the Lilies: Two distinct elven types are present:
    • City elves are urban, civilized, and arrogant; their society is largely based on that of the French Ancien Régime, down to using Francophone names, and they place great value on protocol, elegance and learning. Physically, they resemble humans with long, pointed ears and slimmer frames. They're also known for looking down on others, and have a long-standing feud with the orcs that started when the city elves tried to conquer the orc homelands and failed disastrously.
    • Cave elves are savages who inhabit caverns and mines, live in a tribal and matriarchal society, and happily prey on and eat other sapient beings. Other races hate and fear them in equal measure and view them as dangerous vermin to be exterminated. However, it's hinted that they may have more going on, as the main character, Thistle, is a civilized cave elf living in disguise.
  • Doodle Diaries: Elves are apparently drunken frat bros.
  • The Dreamland Chronicles has pleasant enough elves.
  • Drowtales: The elves are immortal humanoids with magic powers and a culture vaguely reminiscent of a matriarchal version of the ancient Rome. Largely as a result of the aforementioned immortality and being the only widespread species able to use magic, they're arrogant enough to consider humans and orcs dumb animals, enslave them, and use them for food, but the whole thing is as much Deliberate Values Dissonance as arrogance — for instance, food is scarce enough Beneath the Earth that they can't afford to let good meat go to waste.
    • The original elven subraces were the dark elves, also called the Dokkalfar, and the light elves, the Vanirnote . Following a magical apocalypse largely of their own doing that forced them underground, the elves evolved into the Drow, themselves divided into the black-skinned Drowolath, the rarer ash grey-skinned Drowussu (the difference comes from which of the two elven races they descend from), and the degenerate, sightless Xuile'solen, Mole Men equivalents resulting from elves failing to adapt to the underground.
    • A few unusual traits includes their immortality being conditional on being in a high-mana environment, meaning among a large number of other elves. If alone, they will begin to age and eventually die. Their ears also get more pointed as they age, as keratin is continuously laid down: young elves' ears are simple triangles, while long, sharply pointed ears are the only real sign of age in ancient elves. Also, drow skin colors change slightly depending on where they come from — Chelian drow have chocolate-brown skin, those from Mimaneid are more charcoal-grey, Nuqran drow are lighter grey and so on.
  • Dubious Company: Elator's people are pretty standard Wood Elves: forest city, bows, bonded animal companions, etc. During a story arc where the characters go on a journey through Alternate Universes, they go to a world ruled by High Elves.
  • Fetch Quest: Saga of the Twelve Artifacts: The elves are in danger of becoming exclusively female, thanks in part to a low birth rate and the fact that many male elves died in a great war long ago.
  • El Goonish Shive: If you're the child of a human and an immortal, you're an elf. And, to some, an abomination. This means a few things.
    • Elves are eternally young, skilled in magic, and have pointed ears. They are infertile, like most real hybrid animals. They are bound by a lesser version of the immortal non-interference law: they cannot interfere unless a situation directly involves magic, or to defend against a clear and present danger to themselves or others. Importantly, elves are not actually infertile, just far less likely to conceive. The infertility was a lie that immortals told their children and themselves so that they wouldn't get attached. Elves are also able to "taste" magic through their pointy ears. Tedd and Grace are baffled how that even works.
    • While in theory elves are far weaker than their immortal parents, they have one major advantage: immortals are constantly increasing in power and have to "reset" every couple centuries, wiping their memories in the process, to avoid turning into insane horrors. Elves don't increase in power like that, and thus are truly The Ageless. The only elf we meet is at least four hundred years old and still both young and sane (though he uses an illusion to look older), while his immortal mother (who has refused to reset for as long as her son has been alive) is completely and utterly insane. Even other immortals avoid her like the plague.
    • The children of elves and humans are almost entirely indistinguishable from regular humans. The only difference is they'll have a higher aptitude for magic, and anyone descended from an immortal will have an affinity for a certain type of spell independent from the usual Personality Powers. Also, the more directly descended you are, the more elflike abilities you'll have. Diane, who is the daughter of an elf, briefly grows pointy ears when she instinctively resists a spell, and manages to "taste" it. Susan, the distant descendant of the same elf, hasn't show any abilities like that.
  • Elf Blood:
    • The High Elves, or just plain ol' Elves, are not nature loving technophobes but more along the lines of the Holy Roman Empire with Magic. Makes sense when their ancestral home, Alfheim, is supposedly hidden somewhere in central Europe. Though the modern elves lack it, historically they retained the 'aloof' aspect of ordinary elves.
    • The Dark Elves, while not evil or even particularly bloodthirsty, were shunned for a while by the High Elves and had to work exceptionally hard to gain any respect in Alfen society. Comparisons can be drawn to European Jews at the time of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
    • The Death Elves, who are essentially Elf Blood's equivalents to dwarves. Except they're seven-foot tall grey-skinned nomad-descended brutes who can't use magic.
  • Erfworld has the Royal Crown Coalition (get it?) made of the classic "Good Guy" fantasy races. Their elf allies are divided into: Woodsy (tall), Shady (goth), Luckless (die offscreen), Eager (Link), Schlemiel (Jewish), Altruist (nurses), Lofty (aloof), and Superfluous (emo). There's also the Tardy Elves, but we don't get to see them because they move too slowly to get to the battle in time.
    • The prequel book gives us High Elves, who... are, indeed, high. Then a dragon eats them.
    • Book 3 gives us the Juggle Elves, a group that has only a few elves popped as members but allows elves of all kinds to join. After the RCC abandoned their alliances with the other Elf clans many of them ended up with the Juggles.
  • Errant Story goes to great lengths to deconstruct Tolkien-esque elves. Not only do they have the conventional "high/wood/sea/dark" elf distinctions (and then one of them gets huffy when a human points out this out after an elaborate lecture on the different groups), they have precisely the sort of snotty arrogance that typifies this trope, especially after they have spent a few centuries in hiding following the Errant Wars. But it is their treatment of half-elfs ('errants') that is most telling: they made a huge mess of things when they first encountered humans, then after this led to a bloody civil war, refused to do anything to clean up the mess except ruthlessly hunt down and kill their own hybrid descendants. The Errants exist because, for an in-universe reason, it's much easier to conceive Elf-Human hybrids than pure Elf children. The war happened when it turned out that Errants with magical power have a tendency to suddenly go utterly insane.
  • Guilded Age has Sky elves, Winter elves, Shit elves (which may just be a colloquial name), and Wood elves, so far. Wood Elves are apparently part plant.
  • Heliothaumic has the Dark Elves described above in the dying country/empire of Ilthmir, which is an oppressive monarchy wrecked by civil war and ruled by a 600-year old queen. It also has these Elves breeding with humans to produce the Half-Elves, the vast majority of which live outside of Ilthmir and embrace their human side more.
  • Haru-Sari has an interesting twist on elves: They are born from human mothers or genetically engineered, and have the power of magic. They are stuck in prepubescent bodies for their entire life, and they are treated as dangerous second class citizens by the society around them. And they only live for about 30 years before their affinity for magic kills them off.
  • Ingress Adventuring Company: Toivo is an elf, and his youthful looks despite his old age and affinity with magic may be related to this.
  • Inverloch: The elves play the haughty aloof part of this trope straight. They live in a forest city like Wood Elves, but in attitude are High Elves. When some of their kind are born without magic or immortality, they are banished, and the more they're shown the more unsavory they are—it becomes clear that they're complacent, arrogant racists who view everyone else as lesser beings, leading the main characters to declare Screw You, Elves!. And the "mortality" disease is a punishment from the Spirit Realm.
  • Linburger: The Cyll. They were once powerful and long lived, but once Gotterdamerung hit, they became short lived as humans, and live in slums. They kept their pointed ears though.
  • Lotus Cobra Is Evil: From "Favorite Zendikar Card", Nissa Revane, Elf Planeswalker has Pointy Ears.
  • In MS Paint Adventures, we have a Fair Folk type of elves, who eat babies.
  • My Roommate Is an Elf features an elf named Griswold interested in human culture, and living with a human in an apartment. Griswold is capable of magic and has a Healing Factor, and apparently a long life, as his roommate, Harold, will likely be long dead by the time Griswold develops his first wrinkle.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Elves are androgynous (to the point of not even using gendered terms or pronouns; elven children refer to their parents as "parent" and "other parent"), trance instead of sleeping, live in an isolationist woodland kingdom and worship their own set of gods. They have sharper senses than humans do, although as per D&D rules this is a trait shared with halflings and dwarves.
    • The drow (dark elves) are apparently played straight, albeit without much direct focus, although the abundance of Wangsty no-I'm-the-non-Evil-exception drow in games and game-books is poked fun at.
  • Outsider features a lone human's contact with the Loroi, who are very literal Space Elves — humanoid, pointy ears, long-lived, Psychic Powers as a stand-in for magic, the works — and happen to be locked in a genocidal war with Insectoid Aliens called the Umiak, and have no problems with glassing planets that get in the way.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Parodied in this, strip where elves are described as "mythological hotties who wouldn't give humanity the time of day". Mostly averted in the rest of the series, where elves are short, not particularly attractive laborers at cookie companies and Santa's workshop (though they do get some cool black ops equipment).
  • Tales of the Questor have elves with a very serious problem. In their past, the race had lifespans that were marginally longer than humans and one Elf monarch wanted to stop his people from aging. So, he made a deal with a magic giant salamander for a spell that would ensure Elves never got old, which unfortunately was done by limiting Elf lifespans to 20 years (Half-Elves live a bit longer). The King tried to fix this catastrophic problem by getting a magic goblet that can give immortality to any elf that drinks from it, which worked until it was stolen, destroyed, or otherwise lost (nobody remembers). As a result, Elf society collapsed, with a population unable to get enough maturity and the race degenerated to a bunch of petty thieves and vagrants with nothing to live for.
  • What's New? with Phil and Dixie:
    • Mocked in this strip, where Phil stands by describing elves' wonderful traits while an elf stands by berating him for being fat, insecure, ill-mannered and incapable of getting a girlfriend. Dixie gets the last laugh, however.
    • Also mocked in the infamous "Sex and D&D" strip. They're apparently all closet fetishists.
  • WIGU: Parodied when Wigu and Hugo encounter retarded Hillbilly Elves in the woods, who still believe themselves superior to humans in every way except one.
  • Wildlife: A'zi set out to create a race based on humans but physically superior. Commenters failed to suggest any other names, so she called them elves.

    Web Original 
  • Arcana Magi features Modern Elves who work for Avalon Tech Enterprises. One Elf is on the Board of Directors. One Elf is a chemist. Another Elf was seen testing a pair of flying boots and Karl the elf invented the manaboard. Fynir Robinson is an Modern Elf Agent of Mystic Intelligence.
  • Codex Inversus: The Elves were once the people of elemental Fire, now become mortal like everyone else in the wake of the Collapse. They are split into two groups. The Elvish Caliphate was founded by the Efreets, the ancient Lords of Fire, after the Collapse. Its culture is sophisticated and decadent, certain of its superiority; the humans and half-elves living there make up a distinct underclass. It is mostly located in the cold northern tundra, where it sustains itself using magic and thermal springs created by the shards of the former Elemental Plane of Fire. The nomads of the Ash Khanate, which live in the great ashen steppes that formed from the extinction of the Plane of Fire, are a splinter group that emerged from its founders' determination to preserve the souls of the dead after the end of the afterlife. Their language, religion and migrations make up an immense, perpetual ritual intended to draw and sustain the spirits of the dead, and they ruthlessly destroy anything and anyone that could threaten this mission. Both cultures make ubiquitous use of body paint as decoration.
  • The Dragon Wars Saga: The Haltia (Finnish for "elves") are grouped by affinity powers and this affects their appearance. It's also been implied that while they are very long lived they aren't immortal.
  • Gaia Online has two type of elves.
  • Looming Gaia: Elves can naturally communicate with animals, with the exception of red elves, who instead have resistance to fire and iron. Drau (based on drow/dark elves) aren't elves, but monsters created by the divine Titania.
  • The Questport Chronicles has elven heroes Gawain and Ato among the members of the Fellowship.
  • Tales of MU plays around with this.
    • Most obviously by having dark elves who insist they're simply regular elves, and it being the surface-dwelling "faint elves" who are the evil bizarro version. The half-elf Steff also both overestimates her keen elven eyesight and underestimates the nightvision of humans, on separate occasions.
    • However, one of the reasons that elves used to be discriminated against are that they're awesome, as this professor explains...
      Professor Hart: Good? Good? Ms. La Belle, elves aren't "good"... they are better. These people can run twice as fast as you can without making a sound. They can see to the farthest horizon on a starless night and they can hear the heartbeat of a mouse. They don't sweat. If they fart, you'll never hear about it. They can go into a human town and fuck everybody's wives, sons, and daughters for fifteen hours straight, they are going to live forever... and can you imagine what would happen if the brand-new emperor had stood before his people and said, "Hey, these are the people who are going to be in charge of you." Do you think the people who had just thrown off one tyrant would have just rolled over and accepted that?
    • Elves don't even need to breathe, but if they don't engage in mortal behavior, they start losing their connection to the world and become something else entirely.
  • U Realms Live:
    • The elves, being one of the oldest races, are essentially the leaders of the Realm, housing seven powerful kingdoms and some of the most powerful warriors and wizards, including Virgo Sunsword of the illustrious Sunsword family. The other races that even attempt to be powerful or influential, like dwarves and gnomes, appear to mimic the elves.
    • Dwelves, hybrids of dwarves and elves, on the other hand, are regularly hunted by dwarves and tend to reside in elven lands, where they are treated as equals, at least under the law.
    • Gobolfs, deformed elves with traits similar to goblins, are cowardly, asthmatic creatures that elves disdain but tend to let live.
  • Played for Laughs by artist Baalbuddy, where his sketches have the Running Gag of sexy Elvin women are desperately horny but can't get laid. One sketch even explains the logic of how they moved from Tolkienesque elves that rarely have sex unless it its their true love, to having lots of sex, to being unble to get laid because they are annoying.

    Web Videos 
  • Edward The Less does an extended spoof of this trope with the Round-Stander People, as epitomized by the Noble One. He is tall, handsome, proud, arrogant, loutish, and craven, with an instinctive penchant for selling out his allies in a pinch, extensive knowledge of the shockingly vicious traps with which his people have so nobly strewn their forest, no reservations about using violent coercion, and is full of tales of his many "petty, conniving, yet selfless" deeds: Soapy: "So your shooting me in the leg was actually very brave!" Noble One (gallantly): "And I would gladly do it again!" Granted, he does offer a really nice topical salve to friends he's injured once he gets his way...

    Western Animation 
  • Disenchantment: Elves are a race of short, pointy-eared humanoids who spend all day making candy... to earn candy. They sing all day, and have a tendency to freak out when one of them is not happy. They're essentially a combination of Victorian fairytale elves and Christmas elves dropped into a parody of modern High Fantasy and Heroic Fantasy. Season 2 introduces the Trogs as a (pale and hairless) dark elf counterpart, and season 4 the Sea Trogs. With the end of season 4 showing the Trogs were elves who were transformed by the "sacred goo".
  • The Dragon Prince: Elves have short horns and four-fingered hands along with the usual pointy ears and lithe build. They are divided into six tribes, each attuned to one of the six sources of magic — the sun, the moon, the stars, the sky, the earth and the ocean.
    • Moonshadow elves, the first ones seen, have skin in a range of human-like skintones and white hair, and can become invisible and extremely fast and powerful under the light of the full moon. For self-evident reasons, they are known to be fearsome assassins. Some also possess illusion-based magic, as the moon arcanum focuses on manipulating appearances and blurring the line between the real and the illusory. They also tend to have noticeable Scottish accents.
    • Sunfire elves have dark brown skin and white or russet to black hair. They appear to be a more militant culture than other elves seen. They can make blades that always remain as hot as the day they were forged and can cut through regular ones like butter, and can draw on the destructive power of fire and the sun to enter a state where they become extremely strong and powerful, but also berserk and uncontrolled. They tend to have fairly thick French accents.
    • Startouch elves have blueish-purple skin dotted with twinkling white spots resembling stars, and horns with multiple points.
    • Skywing elves have grayish skin and hair in a wide range of colors, including several shades of blue. Their horns are longer and curved, and have secondary, stubbier horns branching off from their bases. About one in ten is born with wings attached to their lower backs — the rest, if they want to fly, need to master a difficult technique that allows them to transform their arms into feathered wings. They have Irish and British accents.
    • Earthblood elves are the most physically diverse of all elf types, thanks to their varied places of origin, which causes their skin and horns to reflect their "home soil", with green and red being typical hair colors. They also have a greater variety of builds, with some of them not being as lithe as the traditional elf. Their connection to the Earth primal gives them power over animals, plantlife, and mineral substances. They tend have Australian accents.
  • Hilda: Elves are a race of pointy-eared people around two inches tall, with a culture revolving around paperwork, and are invisible to anyone who hasn't signed the proper papers.
  • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "The Golden Horseshoes, Part 2", the main characters comes across the elves of Green Mountain. They're diminutive humanoids about as tall as a child, making them about eye level with Megan, have pointy ears, and live in isolation in a castle on a high mountain peak.


Video Example(s):



In the "FANTASY RACES" episode of Terrible Writing Advice, Elves are defined as being obnoxiously perfect in all of their forms.

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Main / OurElvesAreDifferent

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