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Pretty Butterflies

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Ai yi yi, I'm your little butterfly
Green black and blue, paint the colors in the sky, Butterfly

Some people view most insect types as Big Creepy-Crawlies that are scary at best, or dangerous and scary at worst.

Butterflies, however, have always gained positive interest from humanity, given their beautiful colors, their graceful flying, and the fact they look like they would rather drink nectar from flowers than star in the next horror B-Movie. They became symbols of the wind, reincarnation, transformation, the soul, and magic throughout the ages. As a result, butterflies have appeared numerous times in many media.

That said, don't let your guard down around their petite and attractive forms. Butterflies in fiction have an occasional history of being paired with some darker trait like poison; this has made them popular with various Vamps and Honey Traps, as well as any villain that chooses the butterfly motif to represent subtle allure and deceptive deadliness. This is also Truth in Television: butterflies and moths have been seen to drink blood from corpses or even still-living animals in order to get proteins and other nutrients not present in flower nectar.

Compare Amicable Ants and Virtuous Bees, two other types of insects which are typically portrayed as more hard-working than butterflies, but still just as benevolent. Contrast Macabre Moth Motif (although if someone is invoking this trope to hide how deadly the butterfly is, the difference between the two is only skin deep) and Moth Menace, in which butterflies (as well as moths) act as active threats.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach:
    • Black Hell Butterflies are benevolent creatures that serve as messengers for the Soul Reapers and guide them to the Human world, saving Soul Reapers the trouble of traveling through the Dangai, a dark, hellish tunnel that originated as a Penal Colony and traps anyone who steps foot in it for eternity if no safety precautions are made beforehand.
    • Averted with Szayelaporro Granz though. His normal, human-like form is actually rather handsome but when he goes One-Winged Angel butterflies will no longer be beautiful to you. They will be hideous, blood-like monstrosities with very pleasing voices and the ability to use you as their next cocoon.
  • In the Dear Brother manga, the beautiful and moody Mariko is compared to a butterfly by Nanako at some point.
  • Kaiju Girl Caramelise: Manatsu Tomosato is a Spoiled Sweet boy magnet who harbors a Mad Love for the Kaiju Harugon. Whenever she tries to catch the monster's attention, she goes out in a colorful butterfly/moth costume with Heart Symbols on its wings. Given Harugon is a Notzilla, Manatsu's outfit is obviously a reference to Mothra.
  • Mikage from Kamisama Kiss is a Shinto God that specializes in matchmaking and is heavily associated with butterflies. He even has a tendency to shapeshift into a butterfly.
  • The first episode of Kimba the White Lion has the titular character lost at sea, so he followed a swarm of migrating butterflies to get to land.
  • In Sailor Moon, Usagi as Super Sailor Moon has butterfly-related motifs.
  • Umineko: When They Cry: Golden Butterflies show up a lot, and seeing them usually means you're very big trouble.

  • Psylocke's telepathic powers are often represented as butterfly motifs, and she's a Lady of War who fights with graceful movements. She was also delicate prior to switching bodies with Kwannon.
  • The Sandman (1989)'s Delirium is fond of creating or turning herself into butterflies, reflecting both her status as the 'youngest' Endless and her... fractured mindset.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): Aphrodite has a habit of being accompanied by dainty pale yellow butterflies.

    Films — Animated 
  • Alice in Wonderland featured Bread-and-butterflies. And later on, we see the Caterpillar turn into a um, guess. "THE MUSHROOM, OF COURSE!!!"
  • Taken advantage of in Anastasia — When Anya is on the ship to France, Rasputin's demonic minions masquerade as butterflies to draw her into a sleepwalking, Sickeningly Sweet dream that will end when she leaps to her doom in the ocean.
  • A Bug's Life: Gypsy Moth is technically a moth, but she is colorful like a butterfly (although in real life there are indeed numerous colorful moth species). At the end of the film, Heimlich (an overweight caterpillar who speaks in a German accent) actually emerges out of his cocoon as an overweight butterfly with teeny-tiny wings. Because his wings are too small for him to get off the ground, Manny (Gypsy's husband, who is a praying mantis) and Francis (a disgruntled male ladybug who has being referred as a female) had to help him up as the circus bugs fly away.
  • In Encanto, butterflies are a recurring theme as a symbol of hope and rebirth. Near the end of the movie, after Alma and Mirabel finally reconcile, a swarm of butterflies fly over the river, in a scene commonly regarded as one of the best in the film.
  • Horton Hears a Who! (2008): "In my world, everyone's a pony, and they all eat rainbows, and poop butterflies".
  • Stacy, one of Mei's schoolmates in Turning Red, wears a row of butterfly clips in her hair, fitting her moe appearance and love of all things cute.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • According to The BFG, whose hearing is sensitive enough to hear animals talking, the only thing caterpillars talk about is who is going to be the prettiest butterfly.
  • The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast by Alan Aldridge and William Plomer. Aldridge's artwork frequently returns to the idea that a mildly anthropomorphic butterfly with folded wings looks a lot like a Victorian lady in a Pimped-Out Dress.
  • Chester Anderson's Hugo-nominated novel, The Butterfly Kid opens with Chester meeting a stoned kid on the streets of New York's Greenwich Village, who is sitting there, making butterflies appear from his hand.
  • Discworld has the Quantum Weather Butterfly which looks spectacular flying en masse, but the ensuing super-storm caused by the flapping of the wings less so.
    • The novel Interesting Times also has a character named Pretty Butterfly; as per standard Pratchett subversions she is downright manipulative and violent. This may be the result of growing up with a name like 'Pretty Butterfly'.
    • The Quantum Weather Butterfly is also extremely poisonous, as Vetinari (in a flashback to a lecture at the Assassins' Guild school) points out in Feet of Clay
  • The Doctor Who books have a room in the TARDIS that is simply filled with butterflies.
  • Subverted in A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge, where there is an alien race who resemble beautiful butterflies — and they're a bunch of genocidal fascists.
  • The dainty beauty of a butterfly The Great Divorce is explicitly greater than every lust, greed, vengeance, and arrogance contained in Hell rolled up together. The vast difference between the two is to the point that the butterfly could eat Hell and the pretty thing wouldn't even taste it.
  • Sena Kashiwazaki from Haganai wears a butterfly hairclip as her Signature Headgear, fitting with how she's considered one of the most beautiful girls at school.
  • In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, when Bilbo climbs a tree in Mirkwood, the treetop has lovely butterflies.
  • Subverted in The Hunger Games. The mutts (genetically engineered animals used as weapons against the tributes) in the Fiftieth Games included swarms of golden butterflies whose stings resulted in "agony if not death".
  • In Julie Kagawa's The Iron Daughter, Puck tells Meghan that if necessary, she can have a dress of diamond and butterflies
  • In Jennifer Crusie's Maybe This Time, Alice's nightmares are all the more horrific because they include horrible butterflies — which she loves, awake.
  • In The Patchwork Girl of Oz, a boy named Ojo had to get the left wing of a butterfly for use in a potion, but the Tin Woodman wouldn't let him harm the butterfly.
  • In Rainbow Magic, Saffron has a cutesy butterfly motif. She has butterfly prints on her clothing, and her fairy dust is made up of tiny butterfly symbols. They also tie into her friendship with bugs.
  • In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jenny's first thought of the Foletti is that they are as beautiful as butterflies.
  • The island of Naath, in George R.R. Martin's World of Ice and Fire, is also called the Isle of Butterflies, and its inhabitants revere butterflies as messengers from their god, the Lord of Harmony. The butterflies also spread a deadly disease that the inhabitants are immune to, helping keep foreign invaders at bay.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The butterfly is the symbol of Gilboa in Kings. Monarch Butterflies also herald a new king.
  • Averted on Modern Family, as Manny is afraid of butterflies.
  • On NCIS, Ari Haswari briefly mentions being afraid of them.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • At the Qowat Milat monastery, there are always butterflies fluttering in the air, and their presence accentuates the pleasantly serene and sylvan charm of the nuns' Arboreal Abode.
    • The late Thaddeus Troi-Riker adored butterflies because they inspired him to create a Conlang for them called Pahlplah which consists solely of wing beats.
    • Altan Soong in his own words "really missed butterflies," so he designed synthetic versions so that he can admire their beauty as they fly around Coppelius Station. Jurati and Picard marvel at the prettiness of a synth butterfly.
    • A virtual butterfly appears in Data's simulated house, and it's a symbol of mortality.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Prickly City, Carmen and Winslow are admiring a pretty butterfly when Kevin interrupts to demand they stop lallygagging.
  • In Rose is Rose, many times. Distracting Jimbo and Rose from a discussion of taxes, causing Pasquale to compare the pretty colors to his guardian angel's wings, driving Peekabo crazy trying to catch it. . . .
  • In Mutts, Mooch follows one. Then he gets a close-up look at its face. . . .
  • Frazz features a viceroy. (Frazz gets to explain why it looks like a monarch.)

  • Zaccaria's Farfalla is all about a flower garden full of butterflies.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Princesa Sugehit has a butterfly motif and a cape which when spread out looks like a pair of their wings. However, she's spent most of her career as a nasty ruda out to rid lucha libre of Canadians. One of her more famous tecnica runs was, appropriately, against La Amapola.
  • Ayako Hamada's most famous sets of ring gear have butterfly designs on her torso, or a cross.
  • AAA luchador Butterfly. He's a Spear Counterpart to Sugehit and an exotico, so "pretty" goes without saying.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons adventure The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, guests to the Witchlight Carnival get fake butterfly wings when they get into the carnival that they have to either wear or carry at all times, which mark them as paid guests with valid tickets. Also, whichever Player Character gets crowned as the Witchlight Monarch gets three uses of magic butterfly wings that give them a flying speed for one hour. It helps that butterflies symbolize things like transformation, which will factor in when the adventurers have to go into the Feywild on a Journey of Reclamation and transform themselves into something greater.

  • The first act of The Insect Play by Josef and Karel Čapek is a satirical look at the love lives of vain butterflies.
  • The Implied Love Interest of Luzia is called the Running Woman; according to the website, she represents "speed" and is part of the general nature metaphor of the show. She wears a dress that looks like a monarch butterfly, and the beginning briefly gives her matching wings.

    Theme Parks 
  • Wondrous Journeys connects 100 years of Disney animation through "the flight of the butterflies," to quote its theme song.

    Video Games 
  • The Pokémon series:
    • It has several butterfly-like Mons.
      • Pokémon Red and Blue's Butterfree, a cute and friendly butterfly-like creature.
      • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire: Subverted with Beautifly: despite its lovely appearance, it's an aggressive predator that feeds by sucking out the prey's bodily fluids.
      • Pokémon Black and White introduced Volcarona, an extremely powerful one that is based on Mothra. According to the PokéDex, their fire once served as a replacement for the sun when volcanic ash blocked out the sky.
      • Pokémon X and Y introduced Vivillion, a butterfly whose gimmick is a different wing pattern for every climate zone- the pattern a player gets depends on what location their 3DS is set to. It is indeed quite pretty.
    • Pokémon Scarlet and Violet's Tulip is a glamorous lady with a flower and butterfly motif. Butterfly wing-like decorations are on her shoes and dress.
  • Drunk on Nectar has playable butterflies, as befits its title.
  • Persona has the True Final Boss Pandora, whose final form is a giant, bipedal butterfly.
    • The series as a whole loves its butterfly motif; Philemon, a major character in the first three games (counting both halves of the second game), has Butterfly of Death and Rebirth as his major gimmick, and is never seen without a butterfly mask. The save points in the fourth game even are butterflies (which according to Word of God are Philemon's current manifestation).
  • Slime Rancher 2 introduces Flutter Slimes, which have monarch butterfly-like wings and antennae. Its Slimepedia entry describes it as "a shining example of natural beauty in an already beautiful world", and says that they're worth the effort it takes to keep them because they can produce a sparkling aura that reduces nearby slimes' agitation.
  • Odin Sphere has Phozon Butterflies which your character can absorb to power themselves up.
  • Yuyuko of the Touhou Project series employs butterfly danmaku in your final showdown with her in Perfect Cherry Blossom.
  • Let's Go Jungle. After fending off swarms of Giant Spiders (including a gigantic one), as well as other carnivorous creepy crawlies, and a Man-Eating Plant, your Final Boss is a giant butterfly. Who then proceeds to smack you around with swarms of butterflies, cut you with its wings and blow you off the helicopter you're on...
  • Earthbound features magic butterflies that will restore your HP and PP along with some soothing music.
  • Bubbles, a butterfly-like air elemental Crew from the defunct Korean online game T-Crew.
  • Dark Souls features a boss called Moonlight Butterfly. It is a nice departure from all the brutally dangerous looking bosses you have been fighting! During the fight, the typically epic music of the boss fights is replaced with calm, soothing music. It is a dangerous creature if one is careless, and doesn't carry a shield with good magic defense, as it uses magic attacks such as lasers, magical spears, Homing Soul Arrows, and explosive bursts.
  • Dahlia Hawthorne in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations is accompanied by butterflies to emphasize her sweet, delicate demeanor. They spontaneously combust the moment she reveals her true colors.
  • Fire Emblem has two examples:
    • The mysterious swordsman "Marth" in Fire Emblem: Awakening wears a mask shaped like a butterfly. In an allusion to the bit below about girls having dresses/decorations/jewelry/etc. with buttefly motifs... it turns out "Marth" is a gorgeous Bifauxnen under said mask: her name is Lucina, and there's at least one piece of official art that also gives her butterfly motifs.
    • The Female Avatar from Fire Emblem Fates can be given hair decorations when the player customizes her appearance, one of them being a huge butterfly-shaped pin.
  • The titular protagonist of Bayonetta signed her pact with a demon known as Madama Butterfly; both the Madama and Bayonetta herself thus have a significant swallowtail butterfly motif. These include butterfly wings (constantly on Madama Butterfly and Bayonetta's shadow, briefly for Bayonetta when she does a Double Jump) and butterfly jewelery.
  • There is a minigame in Bejeweled 3 called "Butterflies" where you have to match gems to liberate the butterflies and prevent the butterflies from getting to the top of the screen, where an evil spider awaits...
  • Butterflies in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask appear in some areas and pleasantly flutter about. Poking them with a Deku stick reveals them to be fairies in disguise, and often they're hovering around the entrance to an underground grotto that's hidden by bushes or needs to be opened with something like a bomb.
  • Bioshock 2: The Rapture Family's main symbol is the Blue Morpho Butterfly, which represents the believer's rebirth into the group or "Imago" as they call it.
  • A little known Match-Three Game called Butterflight allows you to collect butterflies while soothing ambient music plays in the background. Even though the premise is that the player is a Lord (regardless of gender) of the Butterflies who needs to regain their wings by collecting their winged friends, it's quite obvious through gameplay that Butterflight is a ploy to just stare at the butterflies and kill time.
  • In Street Fighter V, a certain female character's profile states that she loves butterflies. The character is Kolin aka Gill's Sexy Secretary, who probably likes them because she saw a butterfly coming out from its coccoon right as Gill saved her from a Death by Despair in the snow and took her into The Illuminati.
  • Mesmers in Guild Wars 2 have a butterfly motif to some of their spells' particles, most apparent in their shatter skills that detonate their illusions into swarms of butterflies. Mesmers are also stated to use magic in its purest form and warp reality, and all important NPCs of the Mesmer class are pretty women.
  • Butterflies are some of the most common collectible bugs in the Animal Crossing games, and pretty much everyone in the game likes them... Except Blathers, that is, who's just as scared of them as he is any other bug.
  • In Kolibri, arthropods seem to have been particularly susceptible to the corrupting influence of the dark crystal, but butterflies are a noted exception to this general rule.


    Web Original 
  • SCP-408, a sentient Hive Mind flock of butterflies whose wings can change colors as both an effective illusion and way of communicating.
  • An Easter Egg on one of the Potter Puppet Pals has Ron frolicking with butterflies while singing "Follow the butterflies, follow the butterflies...."
    • Taken from a sarcastic comment Ron made in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, after finding out that he and Harry would have to "follow the spiders", assumedly making him wish for a less scary and more harmless insect to follow.
  • In Megami 33's Sailor Moon Abridged, the ridiculousness of having the characters attacked by butterflies in one episode is underscored by the "sound effect" of people saying "flutter, flutter, flutter...." very peacefully.
  • In Worm, Skitter, whose superpower allows her to control insects of all kinds, invokes this trope when she sends a single butterfly to contact her father one last time before she runs.
    • Then, in the chapter Drone 23.1, a PR guy in charge of the Wards and Crusaders requests that she use nothing but butterflies and similarly 'pretty' insects. Taylor is not amused, though she still does manage to get some use out of them.
      Clockblocker: you kicked their asses with butterflies.
      Taylor: Not really. All I did was-
      Clockblocker: No, no, no. If anyone asks, you kicked their asses with butterflies.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The Butterfly House in Aberystwyth, Wales.
  • Down here in California is where the Monarchs migrate on their way down to Mexico. Some places are literally covered with them.
  • What percentage of little girls have at least one dress/pendant/decoration of some form with a butterfly on it? The only reasons the answer is not 100% will probably be due to abject poverty or too cold an environment for natural populations.
  • Butterfly gardens are often a major seasonal attraction at zoos and nature parks.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Everythings Prettier With Butterflies, Pretty Butterfly


Romantic Butterflies

Whenever Craig sees Wildernessa at their meeting spot, a few butterflies would show up to emphasize Wildernessa's beauty to Craig. When Wildernessa leaves after giving up on Cheesesticks and Craig remains behind, a butterfly lands on Craig's face and he tells the butterfly Wildernessa is already gone and doesn't need to be here anymore.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / PrettyButterflies

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