Let's talk about gnomes, shall we?
Just what is a gnome? A short humanoid...how short? How humanoid? They're almost as diverse as trolls and nearly as widespread in fiction and myth.
In the greater modern pop consciousness, gnomes are pretty well-defined. Specifically, garden gnomes: tiny (anywhere from two or three inches to a yard high), long white beard, jolly demeanor, and a big pointy (or maybe floppy) red hat. Often seen shilling for vacation deals.
The problem becomes greater in Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games, where they share conceptual space with at least two other "short" races, dwarves and halflings. As a result, gnomes tended to go unnoticed and forgotten in D&D settings; in fact, they were explicitly referred to as "the Forgotten People" in Forgotten Realms.
That began to change with the Dragonlance setting and the tinker gnomes of Mount Nevermind: descendants of humans cursed by the god of the forge for being petty and small-minded, the minoi shunned magic in favor of the sciences, particularly engineering...and were completely incapable of approaching these rationally, compelled to make everything they built as complicated and Goldbergian as possible, and valuing failure above success because you couldn't learn anything new once you'd got it right. Tinker gnomes were played for pure comedy, and proved fairly popular. Since then, engineering prowess has become a recurring trait for gnomes in various universes. Some of them are as inept as the original tinker gnomes, but other versions are actually much more competent.
Since then, the general trend has been to make gnomes distinctive by making them strange, standing out from their setting because they don't quite fit into it.
Note that while creatures with Gnome-like characteristics have been around for a very long time, the word Gnome as it's currently understood was originally used by the occultist Paracelsus to refer to Elemental Embodiments of earth. If a fiction includes elemental gnomes, they usually won't have much character depth or interaction, and may or may not follow this trope.
- Travelocity's The Roaming Gnome, played by a gnome statue. He has a nice British accent.
- Gnomes are a sentient race in Delicious in Dungeon, rivaled only by elves in terms of their natural magical talent. They're about the size of human elementary schoolers, with big hands and feet and high-set, slightly pointed ears.
- In One Piece, gnomes are the inhabitants of Green Bit to the north of the country of Dressrosa. They are living hidden away from humans, but despite their secrecy, they come off as very trusting. They also seem to possess superhuman strength.
- In Magic: The Gathering, gnomes started out with the red card Quarum Trench Gnomes, but after the inclusion of Clockwork Gnomes in Homelands, a trend started of concepting them as Clockwork Creatures. Realizing that this made no sense at all, Wizards of the Coast eventually put a stop to this practice, and gnomes haven't been seen in the game since. The exception to this is the 2018 joke set Unstable, which included one new gnome as part of the Order of the Widget, a faction of Mad Scientist knights themed around absurd clockwork contraptions.
- The French comic Bill Baroud has gnomes who keep reality running at the subatomic level, which the hero meets while shrunk. Unfortunately, they're communists, which the all-American secret agent will not stand for. He draws his gun, says "I will never allow it to be said that-", gets restored to normal size, and ends up finishing the sentence (and pointing the gun at his boss) "Communism is the only path!".
- A Running Gag in Italian-made Disney stories is someone insulting garden gnomes completely out of the blue. Particularly epic a Moby Duck story in which the villains were tricked into investing a large sum of money importing them, only for the citizens to go away from the purpose-built shop in disgust.
- Kabouter Wesley: A gnome who is generally angry and never nice.
- Paulus de Boskabouter: Paulus is a gnome who never wears a red hat.
- What's New? with Phil and Dixie offers us this take on exactly why there's no consensus on gnomes. It parodies D&D 3e gnomes by claiming that the Monster Manual describes them as "seventeen feet tall and eat nothing but tar."
- In The Keys Stand Alone, the one small humanoid who plays a big role in the book, Theecat Stefnable, is politely insistent that he is "not a hobbit, dwarf, halfling, gnome, or any other kind of smallman the people here seem to think I am. The proper term for me is Irorin." He's superficially like the common stereotype of a gnome, in that he describes himself as a "technological genius and rogue-for-hire" and does indeed have mad tinkering skillz that turn out to be very useful to the four later on.
- A Gnome Named Gnorm: The gnome manages to be bullet proof.
- Gnomes in Artemis Fowl probably are the base species of the People. They are probably one of the fairy species that gets the least attention, however, at least in terms of description, although their rear ends are also known to be extremely large, so much that they get in the way of traffic in the first book. Must be weird going through life known only as the "Species with the tremendously large ass". Let us all pray that Haven never discovers cheap Mexican food...
- Book of Imaginary Beings: Gnomes are Paracelsian spirits of the earth, typically depicted as short, ugly dwarves wearing beards and brown clothing. They guard treasure under the earth, and their name may be derived from the Greek word gnosis, "knowledge", due to them knowing precisely where veins of precious metal lie.
- The Chronicles of Narnia: the Emerald Witch uses gnomes, who the protagonists at first think are demons but turn out to be a type of earth elemental, as her slaves. Amusingly, they show more variance than all the other examples on this page combined, differing wildly in height, build, color, number of heads, etc.
- Chronicles of the Emerged World: They're classic fantasy dwarves, essentially. They resemble short, stout humans, often with beards, and hail from the Land of Fire, where they forge weapons inside their homeland's volcanoes, and the Land of Stone, where they carved whole cities into the mountaintops. As these were some of the lands conquered by the Tyrant before the start of the series, a significant portion of their race has been slaughtered or enslaved by his forces.
- Gnomes in the Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. Verse are literal lawn gnomes: ceramic mini-golems animated by the Big Uneasy.
- In The Dark Profit Saga, Gnomes are one of the original four races of Man. Over the ages, though, the various clans have changed, both mentally and physically, and are now considered subraces, although the general term "Gnome" is the PC way of referring to them. Of note are the Halflings (Clan Haughlin), the Scribkin (Clan Tinkrin), and the Tinderkin (Clan Kaedrin).
- The Halflings are short, rotund, and have hairy feet. They don't like to work and only value wealth and comfort. Their homeland is Hollinsher (formerly Haughlin-Shire), full of rolling hills. The most famous Halfling of all is Bolbi Baggs, a successful businessman and co-founder of Goldson Baggs Group, Inc.
- The Scribkin are often seen as the quintessential Gnomes due to their appearance, work ethic, and curiosity, and they won't argue the point. They are hard workers (although they prefer intellectual labors to physical ones), and their natural curiosity drives them to advance the science of the world of Arth. They are the only ones to use flying machines for transportation. After being driven from their home of Essenpi by the Kobolds during the War of Betrayal, they have managed to retake Essenpi, but much of the ancestral knowledge was lost, and they are only scratching at the surface of their forebears' advances.
- The Tinderkin are the tallest of the Gnomes, only about a head shorter than an average human. They have Elf-like features and their nomadic culture is reminiscent of Gypsies (in fact, on the world of Arth, it's human Gypsies who are often called Tinderchildren). Being the physically strongest Gnomes, they often work as professional heroes and mercenaries. They are quick on their feet and prefer the outdoors.
- Additionally, in the ancient past, several Gnomish clans allied themselves with Mannon, who corrupted them into three Shadowkin races as part of his army, including Gnolls (Clan Galden), Gremlins (Clan Remlon), and Naga (Clan Nagata).
- In The Deed of Paksenarrion, gnomes are absolute Lawful Neutral with No Sense of Humor, believing that only they know and follow the true laws laid down at creation by the High Lord.
- In the Deverry novels, gnomes are earth elementals, resembling small, wart-covered humanoids. Like all the Wildfolk, they're Invisible to Normals.
- The Dragonlance novels describe gnomes the same way as the tabletop games. But their qualities tend to differ Depending on the Writer. In the Weis/Hickman novels, Gnomes tend to have absurdly long names beginning with "Gn" and are obsessed with inventing things, though their inventions invariably never work. However, the Preludes novel Darkness and Light by Paul Thompson and Tonya Carter depicts gnomes as brilliant and effective, if a bit scatterbrained. The gnomes (who have names referring to their professions such as Woodcut and Roperig and Rainspot) manage to successfully build a device to fly them to the red moon, so they're clearly much more competent than the typical Dragonlance gnome.
- A Fantasy Attraction has Stanley, a gnome selling a lava maker, tornado creator, and storm caller. He should send his catalogue out to the evil overlords.
- The appropriately named Gnomesaga is all about getting into the oddball culture of a Steampunk fantasy version of them.
- Forest of Boland Light Railway is about a community of gnomes who built a steam railway. This early Main/Steampunk novel can be described as The Hobbit meets Thomas the Tank Engine.
- In The Forsaken Children, gnomes are one of the many elementals in the setting (more specifically, earth elementals). Overall, they resemble short, squat people with prehensile hair, and a preference for red hats.
- Garrett, P.I.: Subverted, of all things. Gnomes are just short people, about kneecap-height on a human. A history of Fantastic Racism makes them touchy about short jokes.
- The things some of them yell at Garrett for disturbing them suggest they have some connection with finance: a possible Stealth Pun about the "gnomes" of Zurich.
- The book Gnomes by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet, and its Animated Adaptation The World of David The Gnome details the society and history of, well, garden gnomes.
- They also published a gnome-sized-version of the book, entitled Little Gnome Facts.
- In A Gnomewrench in the Dwarfworks and its sequel, A Gnomewrench in the Peopleworks, gnomes are sadistic Lawful Evil shapeshifters, of a certain type — they're always recognizably gnomes, but they can lengthen or shorten their limbs, turn their arms into swords, etc.
- Gnomes in Teresa Edgerton's Goblin Moon and The Gnome's Engine are similar to D&D gnomes in stature and in their fondness for gadgetry (which they're quite good at); they also love brain-teasers and geometric puzzles. Their strangeness comes from their anatomy, as these gnomes have curled horns like a sheep's, and huge feet with mole-like digging nails. So they go barefoot, and wear hats with gaps in the brim for their horns.
- Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes: They are garden gnomes that come to life and vandalize gardens, and they are frozen by the sound of dog whistles.
- Planet of the Lawn Gnomes: The story turns out to be set on a planet populated by the gnomes. Because they are frozen during the day, they built humanoid robots to take care of the planet.
- Harry Potter: Gnomes are barely-intelligent garden pests with potato-shaped heads. "De-gnoming" a garden consists of bodily chucking them over the wall, though they inevitably wander back after a while.
- In the Franny K. Stein book The Invisible Fran, Franny tries to find something of hers to bring to school for Hobby Day. Her dog Igor reminds her of a time when she brought a garden gnome to life and her family had to lock themselves in the bathroom until the police came. Franny turns the suggestion of bringing a gnome to school down.
- Land of Oz: The Nomes of Oz are downright evil underground dwellers with dreams of conquest and an extremely Weaksauce Weakness — eggs. Return to Oz expands on this: in the film, the Nomes are also earth elementals that dwell in rock and stone, crafting the bodies they require out of those materials.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Magic, Inc. gnomes are earth elementals, though the one a witch summons to fix what he did to the protagonist's shop looks like a little bearded man with a pointed hat.
- In the Magic Kingdom of Landover series, we are introduced to Go Home Gnomes, a race of short (around 3 feet tall) greedy, shortsighted (their eyes work, it's their plans that don't), and stupid creatures. Unlike most gnomes, they appear to be something like humanoid shrews or ferrets more than simply small humans.
- The gnomes of Dave Duncan's A Man Of His Word and A Handful Of Men are (like all the races of the setting) not a species but a distinct subrace of humanity — in their case, short, sharp-toothed, and with a cultural and physiological preference for living in dark and filthy environments such as sewers. They're actually fairly intelligent and reasonable people if you get to know them, but very few members of the other races are willing to make the effort.
- Chester in Monster probably takes the cake: he's a being from Another Dimension, and his body (made especially for him during his stay in our dimension) is made of paper. As he's able to change his shape by folding himself, he's occasionally called "an origami gnome."
- Incidentally, the villain of the story has a fairly traditional army of gnomes patrolling her garden.
- The gnomes in Monster Hunter Vendetta live in the projects of Birmingham, Alabama, where they have adopted the gangster lifestyle and they'll bust a cap in yo' ass if you call them lawn gnomes.
- In The Mote in God's Eye the watchmakers are somewhat like alien crazy tinker gnomes: small, technically competent, but nonsentient and likely to create weird and dangerous gadgets. The Moties consider them marginally useful vermin who require regular extermination, and to the humans who witness their takeover and resulting destruction of the Macarthur they're horrifying. Well, at first the humans think they're cute (they even think they may be Motie young), it's only later that they become horrifying.
- The Gnomes Engywook and Urgl are minor characters in The NeverEnding Story, who are important to Atryu's quest to cure the Childlike Empress. Engywook is a Grumpy Old Man who loves science and is dedicated to studying the mysterious Oracle; his wife, Urgl, is just as grumpy, but is more interested in magic. In the Animated Adaptation, the Magic Versus Technology aspect of the relationship is played up more, but, though they bicker and quarrel, the gnomes are a loving couple. They also both offer their skills to Bastian when he needs them; Engywook's airplane comes in handy when Falkor is unavailable.
- Ology Series: Gnomes are depicted in Monsterology as short, but only around as short as extremely short humans, and physically human-like in other respects. They're nocturnal by nature, and keep bats and moths as pets.
- The alchemist Paracelsus, describing elemental creatures, called earth elementals "gnomes".
- Little is known of the gnomes of A Practical Guide To Evil, however their general Bungling Inventor hat has been replaced with an overwhelming technological advantage over all other civilizations. Generally the only time Calernia hears about the gnomes is when they send cryptic threats to any nation dabbling in technology they deem forbidden. Any nation ignoring their first two warnings is eradicated without a trace.
- Terry Pratchett:
- Discworld gnomes are six inches high, and manage to have both the strength and the leverage of six-foot-tall humans. They're described as having the same belligerence as a human, only compressed. Gnome Watchman Buggy Swires catches birds and rides them. Their Elfland-refugee cousins the Nac mac Feegle share these qualities in addition to being Violent Glaswegian Smurfs. Their very first appearance was for the sake of a pun, what Twoflower calls "reflected-sound-of-underground-spirits" when trying to explain the concept of insurance and other financial matters (echo-gnomics).
- The Nomes Trilogy stars the "nomes", a stranded alien race of tiny humanoids who move, think, and age at ten times human speed. They also believe that garden gnomes are somewhere between grave markers and passed-on spirits of dead nomes. They don't appear aware that humans actually create them — they just see them appear periodically in the garden section of a nearby supermarket.
- The gnomes of the Four Lands in Shannara are steppe-dwelling nomads, more like orcs or a Barbarian Tribe in their general nastiness. They're described as short but not tiny, with jaundiced-looking skin and wiry bodies. Some gnomes, such as a tracker named Slanter, distinguish themselves, but for the most part they're cannon fodder.
- In addition, there are also the spider gnomes — freakish, barely-sentient mutants with unnaturally long limbs and skittering gaits that other gnomes hate and fear.
- On the side of good (or Hipocratic Oath neutral) are the healer gnomes of Storlock.
- Like most races in Shannara, gnomes are actually mutated humans, descendants of survivors of a nuclear apocalypse. In the first book, a barely concealed Lord of the Rings knockoff, gnomes played the part of orcs and received very little characterisation. Later books gave them more variation and actual named characters.
- Tolkien's Legendarium:
- In the early drafts of Middle-earth's history, posthumously published as The Book of Lost Tales, J. R. R. Tolkien used "gnomes" as an alternative name for the Noldor elves.note Imagine Fëanor and Fingolfin from The Silmarillion or Galadriel and Glorfindel from The Lord of the Rings referred to as "gnomes". He liked the word's assumed (but actually uncertain) connection with *gno-, the Greek element meaning "knowledge" (cf. gnostic, gnosis, etc), and the association of the gnome with the earth (the Noldor were the only elves that practiced mining). By the time Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings he had scrapped the idea, as he felt the word "gnome" was too tied up in the connotations of small, ugly woodland creatures.
- The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin feature the Petty-Dwarves who, from what little is known about them, seem rather gnomelike: closely related to dwarves but smaller, more slightly built and stealthier, and more unsociable. The Petty-Dwarves did not survive the First Age, in part because they had been hunted for sport by the Elves.
- The Ordinary Princess: Mentioned when referring to the hair of princesses, which should be:
as yellow as the gold that is mined by the little gnomes in the mountains of the north.
- Paige of the Charmed ones had to investigate a death of a gnome in a Magic School library. The gnome is one of the teachers.
- Studio 100 gives use Kabouter Plop: The gnomes in this Belgian children's TV series always say their own name mid sentence and their hats are able to move on their own, accompanied by a musical sound usually when they are surprised or shocked.
- Legends of Tomorrow has a gnome that looks so much like a traditional garden gnome, it's possible it really is a garden gnome brought to life by magic.
- Gnomes of Merlin are human-sized, magical, somewhat elf-like creatures, although rather uglier (while its elves are more like fairies). We only see one, Frik (Martin Short), perhaps because "the old ways" are fading. Frik is subservient yet snarky to the Fey Goddess Mab. Frik claims Gnomes come in all shapes and sizes, he just happens to be a tall one.
- In Once Upon a Time, Rumplestiltskin is referred to as a gnome, though this is probably more pejorative than taxonomical, considering he's shown to be a former human possessed by the power of... something.
- Power Rangers:
- One of the more wacky monsters of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was the Gnarly Gnome, whose arsenal included a mesmerizing accordion and a rake. In the original Zyuranger footage however, he was a goblin.
- In a reversal of the scenario above, a later Monster of the Week named Mr. Ticklesneezer was a gnome in the Zyuranger footage, but a troll in Power Rangers. He carried magic bottles that could shrink and capture anything from an airplane to the Tokyo Tower.
- Seriously Weird: In "Gnome Sweet Gnome", just as Harris decides to run for chair of his high school class's social committee, he encounters a bunch of lawn gnomes who've come to life and want to install him as their ruler.
- Gnomes in The Shannara Chronicles resemble human mutants, presumably radiation victims who survived a nuclear apocalypse.
- Special Unit 2: Carl the gnome, he's a petty criminal with diamond-hard skin who acts as an informant.
- Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky has a piece called "The Gnome" featuring a gnome with crooked legs.
- The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd: In "The Gnome" Syd Barrett tells us of a gnome called "Grimble Grumble" who "wore a scarlet tunic, a blue green hood" and had a big adventure amidst the grass.
- Early in his career, David Bowie released a song about "The Laughing Gnome".
David: Where do you come from, anyway?
The Gnome: Gnome-man's land, of course!
- The one gnome in The Adventure Zone: Balance is Lucretia's assistant Davenport, a short man who can only say his name, Davenport. In particular, he's able to resist the thrall of the Grand Relics, extremely powerful magical items that attempt to coerce people into using them. The reason for both is due to the fact that he was actually the captain of an interplanar scientific vessel escaping an all consuming force called The Hunger. When Lucretia erased all knowledge of their mission in order to protect the other members of the crew, Davenport went mad - being the captain, his life was so entangled with the mission that when she took that away, all that was left was his name. As for the Grand Relics, he was able to resist them because he was one of the seven who made the damn things. When he gets his memory back, he's basically functionally identical to a halfling. Although Leon the Artificer is a gnome as well.
- In Dungeons And Dragon Wagon, Season 1, the Gnomes are introduced as a great threat to the land. They form bonds with powerful yetis and dabble in necromancy. Though small, they are powerful, industrious, wise, and capable of great evil.
- In Urban Arcana, gnomes could pretty accurately be described as mildly mad scientists. A bunch of gnomes designed the self-winding pasta, automatic hat tipper, and a fully functional orbiting laser cannon platform. And the Gnomes of Zurich are literal gnomes who discovered that no-one actually wanted instant mildew, but their talent for finance and accounting was in high demand in their new world.
- In Dungeons & Dragons:
- Gnomes as a species are almost always good or neutral (though evil individuals crop up occasionally). Generic gnomes (called rock gnomes to distinguish them from other subraces) are pranksters, illusionists, and craftsmen; they have the power to talk to small burrowing mammals.
- There are also svirfneblin, or deep gnomes, who are just about the only deep-cavern-dwelling humanoid race who haven't gone evil; they spend too much time keeping out of the way of everything else to have developed much else in the way of a racial identity.
- Finally, the forest gnomes are small even compared to the others, live in hollow trees, and are generally woodsy hippie-types. Gnomes of Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms both conform to these stereotypes.
- In Dragonlance, as stated, minoi (or tinker gnomes) are more or less the Trope Maker. Of note are the "original" gnomoi (or thinker gnomes) to be found on the continent of Taladas, sane tinker gnomes who regard the minoi as slightly retarded cousins to be cared for and kept from hurting themselves (conversely, the minoi think the gnomoi are insane for not being manic inventors and call them "mad gnomes").
- The tinker gnomes are, disturbingly enough, the default gnome subrace in Spelljammer. It turns out that a group of minoi from the Dragonlance world found their way into outer space and, much to the chagrin of the rest of the Flow, multiplied. These spacebound gnomes are responsible for creating the famed Giant Space Hamsters, used to power their starships (yes, exactly how you're picturing it), as well as their better known cousins the Miniature Giant Space Hamsters.
- The gnomes of Eberron are merchants, newshounds, crafters of elemental-powered vehicles, and just happen to have the most sophisticated intelligence network in the world. Oh, and they're believed to have evolved from rodents.
- In the Nentir Vale, default setting of Fourth Edition D&D, gnomes are sneaky fey creatures rather than normal humanoids. They can turn invisible now, but otherwise haven't changed much... unless one counts the new racial story of being slaves to the hideously deformed giant Formorians in the Feywild, which has driven them into often-paranoid hidden villages and lifestyles. They're treated as monsters in the first release of the game, but become a core race in Player's Handbook 2.
- The gnomes of Mystara are split between the generic variety (earth gnomes) and competent tinker gnomes (properly known as skygnomes). How competent? They built a Magitek flying city and invented World War I biplanes with magic engines and machine guns to protect it.
- Gnomes in Ravenloft, like all demihumans, are rare, but their size makes them not very threatening to superstitious humans, so they're less persecuted than any other nonhumans except halflings. They tend to be well-educated, and have had a hand (along with human Lamordians and Dementlieuse) in turning the northwestern Core into a proto-Clockpunk setting.
- In Forgotten Realms, as noted above, the gnomes conform to the standard D&D archetype. They're a race in diaspora, with no homeland or recorded place of origin, though a very large number of gnomes are concentrated on the island kingdom of Lantan, where they coexist with humans. Since even human Lantanians tend to be a bit like tinker gnomes (their patron deity is Gond the Wonderbringer, god of smiths and craftwork) the gnomes naturally follow suit.
- A few core D&D supplements have introduced some new and different subraces. The whisper gnomes from Races of Stone are incredibly stealthy rogues with subdued, suspicious personalities that clash with other gnomes and find easy employment as spies. Chaos gnomes or imago, from the same book, are cheerful nomads who possess uncanny luck and crank the other gnomes' flamboyance Up to Eleven. An issue of Dragon introduced the arcane gnomes and river gnomes — pompous spellcasters and simple fisher-folk (with webbed fingers) respectively.note Frostburn introduced the arctic ice gnomes, who have an affinity for ice magic, while Stormwrack gave us the island-dwelling and seafaring wavecrest gnomes.
- One of the more unusual traits of D&D gnomes as a whole is that they are also a zigzagging of Our Dwarves Are All the Same; D&D dwarves are dwarves by way of J. R. R. Tolkien, whilst D&D gnomes are dwarves by way of European mythology.
- GURPS: Gnomes in GURPS Dungeon Fantasy look similar to thin dwarves and are expert craftsmen. Their entry also notes the possible existence of Hell Gnomes, which is more fitting with this trope.
- Legend System: "Hallow Gnomes" have low-level mind control and emotion-reading abilities, and like to be ruled by non-gnome monarchs (with the idea being that a ruler without mind control powers, when surrounded all day by creatures with mind control powers, will inevitably be on his or her best behavior). Furthermore, some of their weirdness is in the form of Obfuscating Stupidity - gnomes will often disguise their best inventions as ridiculous luxury novelties, such as garish sets of decorative rainbow armor (that gain active camouflage abilities when one more piece is added) and high-quality opera glasses (that happen to make excellent sniping scopes).
- Pathfinder: Gnomes used to be a type of fey, but came to the Material Plane during the Age of Darkness and are no longer properly connected to the First World of the fair folk. In terms of physical appearance they're short, slender humanoids with slightly pointed ears and hair in a rainbow of unnatural colors.
- Modern gnomes suffer from "the Bleaching", a loss of color and life that they stave off through a lifelong search for new knowledge and experiences. Otherwise, they can literally be bored to death — a gnome who stopes experiencing new things gradually becomes more and more colorless and listless and eventually dies.
- Starfinder spins on this to splinter gnomes into two groups — feychild gnomes are as described, while bleachling gnomes differ by surviving the Bleaching and consequently find themselves more even-tempered and better able to sate their curiosity with purely intellectual pursuits. No-one is quite sure where this immunity came from, but whatever the cause it appears to breed true, so bleachlings are an increasingly common minority in gnome communities.
- Red November is a board game about drunk communist gnomes in a submarine.
- RuneQuest calls its earth elementals "gnomes".
- Shadowrun: Gnomes are a sub-race of dwarf that are even smaller than the common dwarves — they rarely reach a full meter — and don't grow much body hair, causing them to be mistaken for children most often. They also have slightly pointed ears. They're mostly found in Europe and Asia Minor, prefer to live away from urban areas and are deeply distrustful of technology.
- Talislanta has the Gnomekin, who stand just over three feet tall, with wide-eyed, childlike features and a crest of hair that runs from their forehead down to the small of the back. They live underground, worship the earth goddess Terra, and a generally friendly. They are expert crystal-growers, and their spellcasters, known as Crystalomancers, use crystals extensively in their spellcasting.
- Mr. Welch has gnomes that defy description.
3. There is no Gnomish god of heavy artillery.
39. Gnomes do not have the racial ability "can lick their eyebrows"
40. Gnomes do not have the racial ability to hold their breath for 10 minutes.
41. Gnomes do not have the racial ability "impromptu kickstand"
128. Polka Gnomes exist only in my mind.
148. There is no Gnomish Deathgrip, and even if there was, it wouldn't involve tongs.
260. Gnomes do not have a racial bonus in bobsled.
553. No matter how well I make my disguise check, my gnome cannot convincingly pass for any member of Rush.
559. Even if the Ranger offers his sword, the elf his bow and the dwarf his axe, my gnome can't offer his accordion.
- Warhammer: There were gnomes in the earliest incarnation of the Warhammer world — they were given stats in the first edition of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and appeared in the first three editions of the original wargame as part of the Dwarfs' army list. They were pretty bland, though, being basically short dwarves without the warrior vibe. As of the release of the 4th edition in 1992 there have been no gnomes in Warhammer at all, with Dwarfs and Halflings providing all the short-folk action deemed necessary.
- Amazingly, the Gnomes returned to the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay iteration of the setting in its 4th edition, debuting in the adventure sourcebook "Rough Nights & Hard Days". In this new iteration, they are described as resembling a crossbreed between halflings and dwarves; small, slenderly built humanoids with large noses and ears, skinnier than halflings and, whilst able to grow beards, completely unattached to them. They have a racial affinity for Ulgu, the magical wind of shadows, illusions, and deceit, and can only learn to cast spells from it, Necromancy or Dhar. Even non-wizard gnomes have some innate magical abilities based on this affinity, and because of this they have been viciously persecuted by Imperial witch hunters and mobs for generations. Already clannish, stubborn and surly to begin with, they have gone into seclusion, and usually disguise themselves as halflings when they interact with humans.
- The World of Darkness:
- Changeling: The Dreaming: "Nockers" (named for mine spirits from Eastern European folklore) from are very much like tinker gnomes... though usually taller.
- Changeling: The Lost: The Wizened also have many aspects of this, generally being people who were "diminished" (whether in height, mass, "presence" or whatever else) while gaining skill in crafting and making things.
- New World of Darkness: In the God-Machine Chronicle, Gnomes of Zurich are mystically-skilled humans who work for an immortal Babylonian hero (in the Ancient Greek, amoral badass sense) named Zur. The term was just a bad joke that they've since adopted.
- In Arcanum, Gnomes have a knack for money and trade and thus are used in the same role as Jews generally were in Victorian fiction. They have also engineered the serial rape of human women by ogres to breed half-ogres to use as body guards.
- City of Heroes has the Red Caps, which are terrifyingly dangerous for their level. Also, Red Cap bosses are larger than most heroes.
- DragonFable features Popsproket, a gnomish city run entirely by gnome steampunk technology. They have a long-standing grudge against Dr. Voltabolt because he took up dentistry.
- Dwarf Fortress features two species of gnome, though they universally act like primitive, savage dwarves: Mountain gnomes live in enchanted mountains and steal your alcohol, while their more dangerous cousins, the dark gnomes live in haunted mountains. They kill you, and then steal your alcohol. The popular Masterwork Dwarf Fortress mod adds gnomes as a playable civilization. These gnomes are a weird mix of Nature Hero and Gadgeteer Genius; they can tame and train any wild animal AND build automatic machines or high-tech weapons. They can also make powered animal armor and robotic animals.
- EverQuest gnomes are also pretty much tinker gnomes. Aside from having technology, they get a race-exclusive tradeskill, tinkering.
- In Fable III, a man brings a bunch of garden gnomes to life... Things don't go well.
- Gaia Online: zOMG! has, in its first area, Animated lawn gnomes. They've learned how to plan and prepare for war by observing humans. They even have mushroom cannons and employ lawn flamingos as beasts of war.
- Guild Wars: While stranger-looking than most, the Asura are basically similar to WoW gnomes. They're good with magic, technology, and combinations of the two. They also build giant (relative to players and even more so to themselves) magical Golems. They're even playable in Guild Wars 2.
- Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning: Gnomes are the typical tinkerers; one of them even created the Well of Souls that brought The Fateless One back from the dead. Their society also borrows quite a bit from Ancient Rome.
- Kingdom of Loathing: Gnomes are drawn as circles with arms and legs, rather than traditional stick figures like everybody else. They are desert dwellers living in a Mad Max-inspired Scavenger World, although for the most part it's nowhere near as crapsacky. They're technologically a bit advanced, but their main hat is that they use "gn" in place of "n" in all their words. Gnorm the Gnome teaches the skill "Torso Awaregness", for example. There are also the Sk8 Gnomes, who sk8board.
- For most gamers, they interact with the a group of desert gnome nomads (or rather "gnomads") led by Gnasir, who assist the character in trekking through the desert, namely by fetch quests (getting them a certain item can get you an exploration pamphlet while getting the pages for their manual will net you hooks that witha drum machine will let you ride a sandworm to boost more exploration.)
- For those who ascend under the Moxie sign though, they get to see said Mad-Max inspired gnomes, in the sign-exclusive Gnomish Gnomad Camp. Contains a large quest involving the exchange of many items along with the availability of permable skilles and "Supertinkering" allowing for the creation of clockwork-like devices (which the parts can be fetched from the Thugnderdome.)
- In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, there are five rhyming Sense Gnomes in one of the islands that can kill any human who sets foot on the island. And their naming features are based on the five senses (with their names in parentheses): The Gnome with the Jumbo Nose (Smell; Old Tom Trow), the Gnome with the Monumental Ears (Hearing; Hark Grovernor), the Gnome with the Gigantic Mouth (Taste; Grump-Frump), the Gnome with the Huge Hands (Touch; Trilly-Dilly), and the Gnome with the Enormous Eyes (Sight; Old Billy Batter).
- Larry and the Gnomes: the eponymous creatures actually vary wildly in size, going from ridiculously small to almost human-sized. Many of them look like small ugly humans, others are similar to dwarves. Gnomes are stated to have once been peaceful creatures until a mysterious influence turned them vicious, mean-spirited, murderous and overall very, very naughty.
- League of Legends: Yordles fill the role of gnomes but combine this trope with Ridiculously Cute Critter for great effect.
- Majesty: Gnomes are tiny, live in junkheaps, and invite their buddies rather quickly if allowed to move into your kingdom. They also speed up construction of new buildings and repair of damaged ones. Unfortunately, elves and dwarves are no fonder of gnomes than they are of each other.
- Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent: The "Hidden People" look like garden gnomes with red skin and white beards. They're a rather unsettling bunch with a tendency to appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. And according to the sequel, they're apparently moon spirits who are being kept from their home on the Moon by a government mind-control ray, and their attempts to communicate with the people of Scoggins have driven many of the locals to become obsessed with puzzles.
- Neverwinter Nights 2 takes the "Weirder" part to an extreme with Grobnar Gnomehands. He's a bard, omniglot, and mechanical genius. He's also an unabashed Cloud Cuckoo Lander that most players (and most of the party) find unbelievably annoying.
- Overlord: Gnomes are more or less tiny beards with legs and funny hats and glowing eyes that can only say "eep", also some can explode by humping your legs and are planing to kill you in the end. They declare war early on against the Evil Overlord and you're given a sidequest to kill 1000 of the little buggers, which is reasonable since their only gameplay purpose is to be farmed for Lifeforce (your reward for doing so earns you an Achievement/Trophy and a Nice Hat for your minions). They're also an Good Counterpart to your minions — both are numerous, individually weak creatures that come in color-coded elemental varieties. And by "declare war" we mean one bumped into you.
- Oxygen Not Included: Duplicants are gnomes IN SPAAACE! They are 0.61 meters (2 feet) tall and weigh in at 1 kilogram. They have an odd combination of hypercompetent and pants-on-head stupidity. They're capable of building sprawling space stations and setting up systems to recycle their wastes back into resources, but at the same time have no qualms about, for example, shitting in the town reservoir or breaking the life support during a tantrum. Of course, ONI is a combination of Lemmings, Dwarf Fortress, and Space Station 13.
- In Pillars of Eternity, Orlans are a blend of D&D-style gnomes and halflings according to Word of God. They're short humanoids with two-toned skin and large, hairy ears. They've been victimized repeatedly by other cultures they've come in contact with and have either retreated progressively deeper into the wilds or resorted to guerrilla warfare. They come in two varieties: Hearth Orlans, which are the more common variety and Wild Orlans, who are covered in fur and look more animalistic.
- Runescape, Gnomes are masters of treepunk or Bamboo Technology rather than steampunk; Dwarfs are the steampunk masters.
- Tales Series: Gnome is the spirit of earth, which fits the Elemental Embodiment part. There are small creatures that are presumably also Gnomes in the first installment, Tales of Phantasia. He takes the form of a mole with a propeller on his head in Tales of Symphonia. The dungeon where he lives is also occupied by a horde of Gnomelettes, six-inch-tall lumps of childish belligerence in pointy hats. They usually want something from you, and they won't let you pass until you give it to them-even if it means you have to backtrack out of the dungeon to fetch it.
- The Gnome in Terraria is an uncommon enemy found underground inside of Living Tree systems. They're really fast and can cause a lot of trouble early game, but if you can lure it out to the sunlight they will petrify and become mere garden gnomes for your base decor.
- The Gnomes in Trails Series are an ancient tribe with great technological capabilities and who utilized the Sept-Terrion of Earth. There's also nothing that indicates Gnomes looked any different from regular humans.
- Wizardry: Gnomes are playable race, characterized as the intellectual, studious race. Oddly enough, they also excel as priests — Piety, the stat representing the ability to study intensively for long periods of time (among other things) is the priest's main attribute, and the gnomes have the highest base Piety in the game.
- In the spinoff Class of Heroes gnomes are disembodied earth spirits that need to possess a physical shell to interact with the material world — they also get along fairly well with all the other races in a setting rife enough with racial tensions that it's an aspect of the game mechanics. This was so weird that the Atlus translation renamed them Erdgeists. (Rather unimaginatively, German for "Earth Spirit.")
- In the World of Mana games, Gnome is the elemental spirit of earth, although he looks like a garden gnome.
- World of Warcraft: The gnomes of Gnomeregan are heavily based on Dragonlance tinker gnomes; they have advanced technology all the way up to nuclear reactors in a world where most other races are still fiddling with steam engines (not that it really matters that much, 'cause Rock Beats Laser whenever needed).
- Unlike the Dragonlance gnomes, Warcraft gnomes are actually pretty professional when it comes to engineering, and tend to meticulously plan and test their inventions (unlike goblins, who tend to throw something together on a whim, and then either promptly forget about it or make it explode). Doesn't stop them from deciding to build completely crazy inventions just to see if they would work, though. Also unlike Dragonlance gnomes they are fairly competent magic users. Of course they still think its a good idea to NUKE their capital city when it gets invaded from a nasty case of digging too deep and end up causing more trouble then the invaders themselves could have caused (they irradiated a good chunk of their population and you know what's worse then invaders from below? RADIOACTIVE, NUCLEAR ENERGY SHOOTING invaders from below). Granted, this was stated to have been caused by an evil advisor, but STILL you think one of the higher ups would have thought it was a BAD idea to nuke their own city.
- One short story explains that unlike most of the setting's occupants, the Gnomes have no history of fighting among themselves, having had to stick together and focus on escaping to survive in a world filled with people thrice their size, so the leader in charge couldn't even fathom said treacherous advisor would deliberately risk or actively end the city's population. Another interesting unique cultural trait they're given is that they barely keep record of the past, focusing more on innovation, which contrast them with the more proud-warrior-ish, archaeologically inclined Dwarves despite their many similarities.
- Gnomes also have a friendly but fierce racial rivalry with their fellow pint-size technophiles, the goblins, as the two races approach engineering from opposite ends. Goblins are function before form, where gnomes are form before function. This translates into more concrete forms with the engineering player profession: a gnomish engineering specialist gains access to unique schematics for a wide array of wacky gadgets with disturbing tendencies to backfire, where goblin engineering specialists gain access to an assortment of practical explosives (which backfire too). Goblin tech generally has a higher chance of either not functioning or backfiring. It's exemplified by the short Mecha duels between goblin Trade Prince Gallywix and gnome High Tinker Mekkatorque in Battle for Azeroth. Mekkatorque easily wins with his bigger, better conceived and more armored mech.
- The reason why the gnomes have such an affinity for technology is revealed in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, where it is found that the gnomes, much like the dwarfs were originally created by the Titans to help them shape the world. While the dwarfs were created as labourers and craftsmen, the gnomes were created to build and maintain the titan machinery.
- Not to mention that they were originally robots, until the Old Gods gave them the "Curse of Flesh", similar to how the dwarves were originally made of stone until their millennia-long slumber, which caused them to grow skin and lose their rock-manipulating abilities.
- Related to the above, the mechagnomes of the isle of Mechagon once sought to reverse the Curse of Flesh by becoming cyborgs. One mad king who wanted to force Unwilling Roboticisation on the whole world of Azeroth and an ensuing Civil War later, they reunited with the flesh gnomes (and became playable too) to form one single gnome nation.
- In 20-Quid Amusements, gnomes look like garden gnomes, but tangle controller wires for some reason.
- In Dragon Mango, gnomes are a race of short humanoids with slightly pointy ears. They have a natural talent for engineering and innovation. For an intelligent species, they have a remarkably short lifespan of only nine months. As a result, other sapient races find it difficult to relate to them and treat them like wildlife. Humans mostly see them as pests due to the fact that they tend to build colonies near human settlements and mess with their plumbing. But some have taken notice of their ingenuity and observe them, copying the results of their successful experiments.
- In Hooves of Death, the gnomes resemble the stereotypical lawn decorations, but have a fondness for subterranean travel and ironically steal from humans gardens instead of guarding them. Unfortunately, they arent immune to the zombie virus like Unicorns are, and an infected colony quickly tunnels to the nearest mass of prey: the Yellowstone Camp right above them.
- The gnomes in Looking for Group are depicted as being subterranean inventors who were locked in ongoing combat with the warlike trolls.
- Nodwick had a series where it was revealed that all three of the "short races" were the same species and had been running a centuries-long scam, the gnomes were just halflings with fake beards and evening classes, and dwarves had fake beards and steroids. (In a later strip a gnome invented an instant messaging service. When Nodwick tried to point out that this didn't fit with the previous story, he was told to be quiet.)
- Gnomes in Our Little Adventure are small, have bright yellow skin and bones, and have long pointy tails.
- In Tales of the Questor, gnomes, also known as brownies, are small bald humanoids, barely six inches tall, with an apparently primitive tribal culture and fantastic, magically enhanced leaping ability. They live in the walls of larger creature's homes and hunt rats and mice and other vermin as part of their tribal tradition. They also apparently do NOT get along well with hobgoblins, another diminutive race...
- In Weregeek's Shadowrun campaign Abbie plays a gnome rigger with a habit of making bombs out of stuff she finds.
- Rich Burlew created his own spin on gnomes in his essays on world-building, turning them into a shadow conspiracy group which doles out arcane secrets in the trappings of religion to keep the humans in line.
- In A Practical Guide To Evil gnomes are a terrifyingly advanced race that send what is called in-universe "Red Letters" to nations that come close to developing technology that will take the world out of the Medieval Stasis it is currently in. Nations only get 3 warnings. After that, they utterly destroy the nation that did not heed their warnings.
- In Tales of MU, gnomes are the same as halflings in older Dungeons & Dragons and Tolkien's Hobbits, but with typical MU-twists. The natural stealth associated with halflings and gnomes works like a combined Perception Filter and Weirdness Censor, and it gets stronger the more of them are in one place. A gnomish professor has to remind her class she's there and is completely ignored by the administration. In a setting where Word of God is that technology doesn't work, they get away with clocks and pianos, but nobody notices. The gnomes themselves don't appear to have noticed they have this power.
- Wikipedia has WikiGnomes, who mainly do low-visibility maintenance work like fixing typos.
- In The Adventures of the League of S.T.E.A.M. episode "Bitter Gnomes and Gardens", the gnomes are of the garden gnome variety, with the peculiar weakness that they can only move if not seen, similar to the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who (Lampshaded in a Shout-Out).
- Tales from My D&D Campaign:
- Angel Bloodright is a gnome, but doesn't play very much like any of the gnome stereotypes: She's a bloodthirsty and greedy assassin who works for The Organization, a secret society devoted to harassing the evil Kua-Toa occupation forces, which more recently has branched out into assassination and bounty-hunting.
- The setting also features the Ytarrans, a gnomish society which is based off the Tinker Gnome archetype, but are ridiculously capable artificers, legendary for creating the race of sentient golems known as Warforged and for generally producing artificing an order of magnitude greater than anything invented before or since. Unfortunately, their efforts to produce a Portal Network to get around this setting's limits on teleportation backfired, infecting them with the mysterious Astral Plague, which wiped out every Ytarran within a single generation.
- Baldmoney, Sneezewort, Dodder and Cloudberry (1975); an adaptation of the book of the same name.
- The Crumpets: In "The Mix-Up", "Sneezy" is an axe-holding, eerie-staring garden gnome owned and fiercely protected by Ms. McBrisk. Concerned with her mother's obsession, Cassandra hides and delivers it to her neighbor Caprice Crumpet for it to remain hidden. Unfortunately, it causes McBrisk to think that the Crumpets' dog T-Bone stole "Sneezy" and led to a Body Swap between the two with the Crumpets' Electronic Telepathy machine. The gnome gets used for an art project, guitar strumming and orange juicing before deliberately damaged by Caprice. Cassandra brings McBrisk and T-Bone to the machine to reverse the body swap, and "Sneezy" also gets hit by the machine's electricity. McBrisk returns to normal, but it's later revealed that the dog and the gnome swapped their bodies. T-Bone in the gnome's "body" hunts birds and scares McBrisk, and "Sneezy" in the dog's body speaks from his once-secret evil mind to Caprice.
- We've got a couple of odd-looking gnomes in Dragon Tales. There's Norm the Number Gnome, for instance.
- Freakazoid! had a one-shot Gargoyles parody where the protagonists were Lawn Gnomes. In this version, Gnomes were the scourge of Norwegian forests because of their annoying habit of pulling pranks and mugging people, until they picked on the wrong wizard's viking brother and were thus cursed to turn stone by day until they changed their wicked ways.
- In Gravity Falls gnomes are an all-male race. They are capable of piling on top of each other and work in unison to function as a much larger creatures—like a "giant gnome" so to speak. They also puke rainbows. It's implied they snort fairy dust as well, and at least one of them, Shmebulock, only speaks in Pokémon Speak. As the page image shows, they do have a "weakness" to leaf blowers, although that's more due to them being a foot tall than any specific weakness.
- Kim Possible: Ron Stoppable was scarred as a young child by a lawn gnome, thinking something was not right about it. However, he might be onto something as not even a Big Eater Blob Monster would touch it.
- Jimmy Two-Shoes has the Gnomans: ant-sized humanoids with four arms, large noses, and clothing reminiscent of ancient European warriors. They are defined by their immense strength with their introductory episode "Meet the Gnomans" showing them lifting Beezy. They also determine their leaders based on their strength and smelliness.
- An actual gnome appeared in "Jimmy Don't Be A Hero" where Lucius attempts to repay Jimmy by giving him a gold-encased garden gnome "made with real gnome" ("Get me out of here!").
- Engywook and Urgl from The Neverending Story: The Animated Adventures of Bastian Balthazar Bux, two Miniature Senior Citizens about the size of a Tiny with large noses. Engywook is a Mad Scientist and Gadgeteer Genius whose contraptions have a mixed record of reliability, whilst Urgl is a sorceress whose magic is far more reliable.
- Garden Gnomes have a very...strange place in the Phineas and Ferb universe. Everyone in Drusilstein literally seems to believe they protect the gardens from evil spirits, and failure to have one is Serious Business. How serious? Well, when Doctor Doof's family's one got repossessed as a child, he was forced to stand for hours in the cold dressed like one.
- In Pop Pixie, gnomes are a race of capitalistic astriocrats. Most likely based on the use of the word "gnome" referring to those having a sinister influence in financial matters.
- The Underpants Gnomes of South Park are... let's just say obsessed and leave it at that.
- They're really just trying to make money and have a poorly thought-out business plan. Which kind of fits the gnome stereotype, really.
- Gnomes from Trollhunters are shown to have the traditional design (small physiology, white beard, red, pointy hat) but they are portrayed more as vermin. They do not speak English (outside the occasional muttered word that isn't interpreted as English by the cast) and possess all-spiked teeth that can eat through most matter like a shredder, and a sharp horn that their pointy caps conceal. They, however, do seem to possess some level of sapience, as primarily displayed by Gnome Chompsky.
- The World of David the Gnome; see Literature above.