Peacocks are known in real life for their extravagant display of feathers with brilliant iridescent colors and elegant patterns. Because of how ostentatious these feathers appear, these birds tend to be depicted in fiction as characters who are vain, prideful, or self-centered. While some of them may still be mostly kind characters who are just fond of attention, others can be straight-up villainous.
The long, colored feathers are not the peacock's tail. Rather, it's called a "train", and the feathers are actually attached to the peacock's back. The peacock's real tail feathers are short and brown, and can be found under the train. Also note that, while some examples involve female characters (i.e. peahens), the big, colorful feathers associated with this trope are exclusive to male peacocks in RealLife.
This trope is the origin of the old saying "proud as a peacock," as well as the fact that a group of peacocks is called an "ostentation." The peacock is also one of animal symbols of the Seven Deadly Sins, i.e Pride (the other is the lion). The term can also be used as a verbal: "He peacocked his way down the aisle in a $10,000 Versace suit."
Subtrope of Animal Stereotypes. May overlap with Peacock Girl. Compare Cocky Rooster for another bird that is commonly depicted as arrogant. Not to be confused with Agent Peacock, though that trope's name does come from the stereotypical association between peacocks and vanity.
- This series of TV commercials for Froot Loops cereal features an antagonist known as Dr. Peacock, a Mad Scientist peacock who openly proclaims that he's evil. He uses his special "Color Ray" to drain all the color from Toucan Sam and the Froot Loops cereal. It's unclear as to why exactly he does this, although he is shown to be very proud of his own colors, as he pathetically whimpers when the toucans turn the Color Ray on him. Subverted at the end of the series, when, after getting his color back by eating Froot Loops, he makes a Heel–Face Turn and uses his Color Ray to give color to the world instead of taking it.
- Huey from The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms is a peacock who's very vain and proud of his beautiful plumage. He's constantly on the hunt for a girlfriend, since he's convinced that his DNA is so beautiful that it must be passed on to the next generation.
- Peacock from Tinga Tinga Tales is snooty and egotistical.
- Barbie as the Island Princess: Azul, one of Ro's animal friends, is a peacock who's very vain and pompous to the point that he claims to be "the Prince of Peacocks". However, he's still willing to sacrifice some of his tail feathers to complete Ro's ballgown.
- Kung Fu Panda 2: Lord Shen, the Big Bad, is a peacock whose ego leads him to attempt to take over China and commit genocide against the pandas. Being a villainous example, his feathers are mostly white with red eyespots on his train rather than colorful, giving him a more eerie appearance than most other peacocks. At one point, Shen declares it "Year of the Peacock" effective immediately. His lackey, Boss Wolf, points out that it's the middle of the year. Shen simply glares at Boss Wolf, and Boss Wolf quickly agrees that it's the Year of the Peacock.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Evil Queen, who is vain and becomes jealous of Snow White for being the fairest in the land, has a throne topped with a sculpture of a peacock.
- In the television movie A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott (released theatrically in Great Britain), Scrooge is at his nephew's house. He's with the Ghost of Christmas Present, invisible and unheard. While he's there, his nephew plays a word game with his guests. One of the answers is 'proud as a peacock."
- When Danielle's stepmother and stepsisters leave for the ball in Ever After, Marguerite - the elder, snobby, vain stepsister - is dressed in peacock regalia.
- In The Jungle Book (2016), Mao is an indian peacock, who fights over a stick with a porcupine.
- Aesop's Fables: In "The Crane and the Peacock," a peacock teases a crane, and boasts about his feathers being more beautiful than the crane's boring and plain feathers. The crane answers that she is not jealous of the peacock, because even if her own feathers are dull, at least she can fly, while the peacock has to stay on the ground.
- Harry Potter:
- The egotistical Gilderoy Lockhart uses a peacock-feather quill.
- The prideful, conceited pureblood supremacist Lucius Malfoy keeps several white peacocks on his property as a status symbol.
- Steel Crow Saga: The royal family of the Shang Empire famously take only white peacocks as Shadepact Familiars.
- Sir Percival Peacock in The Peacock Party, the first sequel to The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast, hosts the eponymous party purely to show off. The third book, The Lion's Cavalcade, gives his full name as Sir Percival de Proude Peacock, Bart.
- Walt Disney Presents: In the first episode of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, Ludwig von Drake sings "The Spectrum Song" while playing a piano keyboard that shoots out rays of color. At one point, these rays form into a peacock, who walks in front of von Drake so that the audience can only see him and his colorful train. Von Drake is not amused and tells the peacock off, and the peacock walks away indignantly.
Ludwig von Drake: Ooh, what a showoff! [to the audience] How do you like that guy? I'm gonna let you in on something. Confidentially, he dyes his feathers.
- Katy Perry's "Peacock" uses the titular bird as a synonym for self-confidence and cockiness, as well as an Unusual Euphemism:
Are you brave enough to let me see your peacock?
Whatcha waiting for, it's time for you to show it off
Don't be a shy kind of guy, I bet it's beautiful
C'mon, baby, let me see what you hiding underneath
I wanna see your peacock-cock-cock
- The Axis of Awesome's "Plumage of a Man" is written from the perspective of a peacock, going out of its way to prove that it is indeed, male.
My feathers cover women across the land
I am beauty, from Paris to Milan
And although you find me pretty
I assure you, I'm no sissy
I'm a man, I wear the plumage of a man.
- In the video for "It's a Sin" by the Pet Shop Boys, Paola Pieroni as the Anthropomorphic Personification of Pride has a peacock feather fan.
- Palladium Fantasy: Adrams are incredibly vain, self-obsessed creatures obsessed with getting others to marvel at their beautiful forms — which, besides humanoid bodies and horse heads, include very large and showy peacock tails.
- Pathfinder: Xanderghul, the Runelord of Pride and one of the most arrogant men to ever live, is strongly associated with peacocks. He's usually shown wearing peacock-patterned robes, and during his reign was a significant patron of the cult of the Peacock Spirit, a deity associated with personal excellence and pursuing one's personal success. Unknown to the cultists, Xanderghul was himself the Peacock Spirit and established the cult mostly as a way to play on people's bruised feelings of pride in order to siphon power from them. The cult is also allied with peacock-like phoenixes from the Plane of Fire.
- Animal Crossing: Pave is a peacock who visits the player's town once a year on Festivale. He comes across as somewhat vain, with his habit of speaking in the third person and the demanding way in which he asks the player for special items as part of the festival.
- Azure Striker Gunvolt: Jota's Animal Motif is that of a peacock, with the "spiked arch" behind his back resembling the peacock's train. He's also part of the Sumeragi Swordsmen who are themed after the Seven Deadly Sins, and his sin is Pride - he's quite proud and boastful about the Sumeragi's superiority and his abilities.
- Bayonetta: Father Balder has a peacock Animal Motif, and is the biggest example of a Smug Snake from said game. Though Bayonetta 2 reveals that he was possessed the entire time by Loptr, who still qualifies as an example because of this.
- Mega Man X4: Cyber Peacock's voiced pre-battle Boss Banter from the Japanese version of the game has him say "You're ten years too early to pick me as your opponent."
- Namu Amida Butsu! -UTENA-: King Konjikikujaku ("golden peacock") is a strikingly handsome man who wears extravagant and gaudy clothes, is an extreme Large Ham to the max, and is highly vain and obsessed with his own beauty.
- Shovel Knight:
- The Ticketer and Cultured Fellows in the Hall of Champions are anthropomorphic peacocks. Some of them talk to Shovel Knight rather rudely by calling him a peasant, and the ticketer demands an enormous amount of money to allow him inside.
- Another peacock in the Armor Outpost brags about his riches and then proceeds to ask for a large amount of money just so he can buy a hat, as he forgot his wallet.
- Skullgirls: Peacock was once little more than a war orphan who was horribly mutilated by slavers who worked for the Medici clan, before being rescued and outfitted with reality-bending powers by the Anti-Skullgirl Labs as part of the project she was named after. While she exhibits Troubling Unchildlike Behavior as a result of her experiences, she also tends to brag about her abilities. In her story mode, she refuses to use the Skull Heart because she's strong enough without it.
Peacock: Pff, who needs wishes? I'm already the strongest there is.
- The Peacock Queen from Hero: 108 is proud of her beauty and has the power to hypnotize (almost) everyone around her to obey to her. When Mystique Sonia doesn't get hypnotized by the queen due to admiring her own beauty, the queen challenges her to a beauty contest. However, Sonia's Yaksha makes her realize that true beauty is on the inside.
- In Legend of the Three Caballeros, Eugenia Ferdinand-Ferdinand is a female peafowl (with male plumage) who is the arrogant, snobbish and very ambitious vice-president of the New Quackmore Institute.
- Legends of Chima: Dom de la Woosh is an anthropomorphic peacock, and famous in-universe for being one of the greatest racers in Chima. Woosh loves soaking in the attention so much that in "The Biggest Race Ever," he agrees to act as a distraction so that Cragger can win the race.
- Sofia the First: Amber has a pet peacock named Praline. In the episode "Scrambled Pets" he is revealed to be much like Amber, posh and stylish.
- T.O.T.S.: "The Great Robot Race" features Professor Peacock, an Insufferable Genius inventor who feels the need to brag about all his accomplishments during his introduction.
- Wunschpunsch: In "The Beastie Brew", the spell of the week turns all people in Megalopolis into the animal that best suits their personality. Thus, vain reporter Barbara Blabber is turned into a peacock; something the wizards even lampshade. Later in the episode, when Jacob and Mauricio have to gather all the people-turned-animals on a ship, they use a mirror to lure peacock Barbara on board.