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Stage Magician

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"Now you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it... because you're not really looking... You don't really want to know... You want to be fooled."
Cutter, The Prestige

You know them: they wear tuxedoes, top hats, swishing satin capes, and fine white gloves. They flourish black batons with white tips and brandish decks of cards, metal rings, rubber balls, paper cups, and silk handkerchiefs. Their favorite words are "Abracadabra", "Hocus Pocus", "Presto (change-o)", "Voila", "Now you see it—now you don't" and "Alakazam!"

Using their nimble fingers, hidden devices, and deliberate misdirection, they can Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat, pull a dove from their sleeve, Saw a Woman in Half, and hypnotize hapless audience members or even make them disappear! Sometimes they're also Escape Artists, able to get out of handcuffs and straitjackets and still find out what your card was. Some of them solve crimes in their spare time. And maybe, just maybe, some of them can do real magic. Or, conversely, they simply use their stage tricks to fake it. A magician never tells, but then that's all part of the mystique.

Almost Always Male — at least, the person whose name is on the marquee. However, the assistants (almost Always Female) are also trained professionals. Woe betides anyone who tries to Rummage Fail through their possessions. A skilled one will usually perform tricks that are impossible in real life, which is handwaved by simply saying a magician never reveals his secret.

If it’s a matter of Animal Occupation Stereotypes, we may meet a Rabbit Magician.

Of course, real illusionists usually don't fit any of the stereotypes listed above, but since the magic community is, by nature, sorta close-knit, this is far from being a Discredited Trope.

See the Hocus Tropus index for the many tropes surrounding Stage Magic.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • August 7 from Darker than Black was a former professional stage magician before becoming a straight-up reality warping Contractor and MI6 operative. Humorously, and cruelly given his past profession, the price for using his power is to give away the secrets of every magic trick he knows.
  • The Jester class from Did You Know that a Playboy Can Change His Job to a Sage? employs a number of skills and techniques that evoke this imagery, commanding the attention of audience and foes alike right where the jester wants it, essentially answering the question of "what would a stage magician be like if they could do actual magic in their act?".
  • Hunter × Hunter: Hisoka is more of a magician than he is a clown, with cards as his favored weapons. He likes to use some kind of twisted magic tricks in his fights to confuse his opponents and to make his fight a spectacle show.
  • Meimi/Saint Tail in Kaitou Saint Tail uses magic tricks she'd learned from her father to operate as a Phantom Thief, with her magic being so beyond the level of average stage magic that it blurs the line between that and her being an actual Magical Girl.
  • Magical Emi, the Magic Star is about a young elementary school girl named Mai who is a Circus Brat but not a very good magician, who can transform into an Older Alter Ego named Magical Emi who is a cool stage magician with a fanservice-providing version outfit of the standard Stage Magician outfit.
  • Magical Sempai: The titular character does her best in this, but as it's an ecchi comedy series, she shows off more skin than skill.
  • Kaitou Kid from Magic Kaito and Case Closed (as well as suspects or victims in various episodes). Specifically, Kid is a magician thief, using his tricks to steal objects and deceive people.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Pokémon: The Original Series: In one episode, a (rather pathetic) stage magician named Melvin is trying to make big in Las Vegas (Broadway in the original Japanese version) with a fire wand trick. It nearly burned the entire carnival, prompting the carnival manager to fire him on spot. The only good magic trick he has is a Pokémon called Exeggcute which can do an effective Hypnosis spell on people.
    • Pokémon: Jirachi: Wish Maker: Butler, the Big Bad of the film, is a professional, traveling stage magician who, along with his assistant Diane, puts on an excellent performance for Ash and friends. However, Butler was a former Team Magma scientist who was fired when his machine to clone Groudon from fossilized remains ended in complete failure. As a result, Butler is using the traveling magic show as a front to find Jirachi, a wish-granting Pokémon that theoretically could achieve what his machine had failed.
  • Trick: This is Yamada Naoko's official profession, but she's rarely seen actually performing on stage (mostly because her stage presence is so lacking she actually drives away her audience).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!:
    • While the Black/Dark Magician plays the Magicians Are Wizards trope straight, many of his support cards invoke stage magician imagery.
    • Pandora/Arkana was a famous magician in the past but lost his career after a botched trick ruined his face. His Dark Magician deck also features a lot of cards that resemble standard magician tricks.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V has this as a running theme. Yuya's dad, Yusho/Yusyo, is a professional Entertainment Duelist with a magician theme. We once see him use a Spell Card to misdirect a man who had captured a woman and was able to rescue her. Also, his ace is a stage magician stylized to reflect playing cards and linking rings. Other support cards involving his Sky Magician keep the theme. Dennis Macfield also uses a stage magician, Entermage Trapeze Magician, as his ace due to Yusho's influence.

  • The Amazing Johnathan is a subversion of this whole image: he's dirty, he's fat, he's hairy, and all of his tricks usually end up backfiring spectacularly, though he'll also play it straight depending on Rule of Funny. He relies heavily on comedy magic. Sadly he's had to lighten his schedule owing to some cardiac problems. "Welp, chalk another thing up on the list of 'Shit I can't do'." The list is at least 80 items long, and includes such gems as "Know how many states there are" twice, "Bring a woman to orgasm", and "Shower".
  • Patton Oswalt has an entire bit about watching a Comedy-Magician when he was first starting out, who was genuinely very good at it, but who'd been pissed off by the bar's owner stiffing him for five dollars, and proceeded to perform his act with very little showmanship out of spite.
    Patton: And he was an amazing magician! He was really good! So there's something so beautiful about that level of skill just used for petty vengeance.

    Comic Books 
  • In Athena Voltaire, Athena's father was a notable stage magician, and she picked up a wide range of odd skills from him and the other performers he worked with. One which comes in handy is the Escape Artist experience she got from none other than Harry Houdini, a good family friend.
  • The main character from Jar Of Fools, Ernie Weiss (based on Harry Houdini, whose real name was Ehric Weiss), and his mentor Al Floss (based on the actual magician named Al Floss).
  • Mandrake the Magician was the very first comic book superhero - he could do "real" magic as opposed to illusions - making this Older Than Superman.
    • DC also had Mysto, a nonmagical crime-solving Stage Magician, very likely based on Mandrake. However, unlike Mandrake, Mysto possessed no real magic powers, and relied upon sleight of hand and hypnosis.
  • Harry Houdini is one of the experts recruited by Theodore Roosevelt for his team of special operatives in Rough Riders. He forms an Odd Friendship with black prizefighter Jack Johnson.
  • One arc in Spawn had the title character encounter and work alongside Houdini, who is revealed to be an actual dimension-travelling mage using his show as a cover. Houdini teaches Spawn a few tricks about what his suit can do.
  • Wim Magwit in the Star Wars Expanded Universe comics. He's actually a genius inventor, whose signature trick involves a "magic hoop" that's actually a teleportation device (very short-range, but teleportation mostly doesn't exist at all in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, so it's still impressive).
  • Moloch the Mystic from Watchmen is a stage magician turned supervillain. In his declining years, as he is dying from cancer, he is living in a tiny apartment surrounded by the trappings of his stage act.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): Hypnota is a stage magician and hypnotist whose identical twin sister acts as their Lovely Assistant. They use the fact that they're identical and that Hypnota dresses as a man so this fact is unknown to the audience to pull off some of their tricks.
    • Wonder Woman (1987): Natasha Teranova practices stage magic and card tricks for fun, which comes in handy during the long days stranded in space and later as a bit of fun for the revolutionaries.
  • Zatanna from The DCU and her deceased father, Zatara. Both are real sorcerers pretending to be stage magicians. Zatanna in particular has considerable skill in standard sleight of hand and escape artistry in addition to her authentic mystical abilities, and she has quite a bit of fame and fortune stemming from her traditional performances in theaters and stadiums around the world.

    Fan Works 
  • Not the intended use (Zantetsuken Reverse): Chapter 22 has Soma trying to use the Killer Clown soul's deck manipulation ability for magic tricks.
  • In Cheating Death: Those That Lived, Tabbock has a knack for deception and tricks. He takes on the persona of a stage magician when he's named tribute of the 43rd Hunger Games, where his interview is a magic show, his in-arena kills after themed after magic tricks, and he's given a magic hat, cape, and wand by the Gamemakers as a gift to look the part for his final trick (a "disappearing box"). He also does magic tricks during his Victor's party and was paid by Olga to hypnotize Lyme into volunteering for the Hunger Games.

    Films — Animation 
  • Manny the praying mantis in A Bug's Life is the magician on a bug circus, albeit he seems to honestly believe that he's capable of magic. His Lovely Assistant is Gypsy, a gypsy moth.
  • In The Prince of Egypt, the Pharaoh's magicians (first mentioned in Exodus chapter 7) are re-imagined as this. Their stage tricks are contrasted with Moses' genuine miracles.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Clue, Mrs White's illusionist husband is mentioned.
    Wadsworth: Your first husband also disappeared.
    Mrs White: But that was his job, he was an illusionist.
    Wadsworth: But he never reappeared.
    Mrs White: He wasn't a very good illusionist.
  • The main character in The Illusionist (2006), with a powerful touch of Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane. The film tells the story of Eisenheim, a magician in turn-of-the-century Vienna, who reunites with his childhood love, a woman far above his social standing. The film also depicts a fictionalized version of the Mayerling incident.
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone features three generations of stage magicians: the classic top hat and tails type, Rance Holloway; the Siegfried and Roy-inspired duo of Burt Wonderstone and Anton Marvelton (with elements of David Copperfield thrown in); and the more modern, David Blaine/Criss Angel-based street magician Steve Gray. Rance is seen to be a benevolent mentor to Burt and Anton, while Steve is considered a threat to the pair's more traditional stage magic. David Copperfield himself cameos in the film.
  • Lost in a Harem: Peter and Harvey's act at the Café of All Nations is as a pair of stage magicians. Unfortunately, they aren't very good at it, and the audience hates their performance (in part because Harvey keeps insisting on doing the same trick, covering two items with a pair of identical canisters and "magically" switching them back and forth, over and over again).
  • In The Mad Magician, Don Gallico attempts to move on from creating illusions for others to start his own career as a stage magician under the name 'Gallico the Great'. After his dream is ruined, he murders rival magician The Great Rinaldi (one of the people responsible for his downfall) and takes over his career.
  • Now You See It...: A whole trio of them, competing in a reality show to be the greatest teenage stage magician. Their tricks range from card magic to levitation, to real magic. There are even more stage magicians in the beginning, all making the effort to show off their skills.
  • Now You See Me stars a team of four stage magicians dubbed The Four Horsemen, who use their acts to rob banks. At least two seem to have an area of expertise, with Merrit being a talented hypnotist/mentalist and Jack being more of a conman in his skillset (primarily sleight-of-hand).
  • Both main characters in The Prestige. The film follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the end of the 19th century. Obsessed with creating the best stage illusion, they engage in competitive one-upmanship, with tragic results.
  • Willow is a magician who wants to learn actual magic. The fact he knows fake magic is actually very important to the climax as he manages to fool the Big Bad(an actual sorceress) into thinking he did something impossible.
  • The Wizard of Oz himself, see below in Literature. His backstory is developed in the 2013 prequel Oz the Great and Powerful. Although posing as a wizard, he is actually a stage magician and Con Man whose hot air balloon was swept up in a tornado and deposited in Oz.

  • ''Blackstone's Magic Adventures'' was a three-book mystery gamebook series that featured real-life magician Harry Blackstone Jr., as well as instructions in each book on how to perform various magic tricks.

  • In Bored of the Rings, Goodgulf the Wizard loves to boast of his magical powers, but only proves capable of pulling off clichéd stage magic tricks that seem to do more to annoy witnesses than fool them.
  • The main character of Carter Beats the Devil, based on a real-life magician of the same name. At the climax of his latest touring stage show, Carter invites United States President Warren G. Harding on to stage to take part in his act. In front of an amazed audience, Carter proceeds to chop the president into pieces, cut off his head, and feed him to a lion, before restoring him to health. The show is a great success, but two hours later the president is dead, and Carter finds himself the centre of some very unwelcome attention indeed.
  • Reg Chronotis from Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is one of these. But he tries taking one trick too far...
  • The Guild of Conjurers in the Discworld novels. They are generally amateurs and are quite popular with the populace of Ankh-Morpork; magic's magic, but the idea that someone's making billiard balls appear without doing magic is something else. Wizards, of course, hate them.
  • Harry Dresden's father, Malcolm, was said to be a stage magician, though he's a Posthumous Character and appears almost entirely in brief flashbacks (and one sort-of dream sequence). It's no coincidence that his son is named Harry Blackstone Copperfield.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters novels:
    • Reserved for the Cat features a Fire Master (i.e., a mage) who spends his career being a very good stage magician. He does occasionally use 'real magic' in his performances.
    • Steadfast has an Air Magician who is also a stage magician and uses Air Elementals to help him in his act.
  • The mystery of Mr. Todhunter, in the Father Brown story "The Absence of Mr Glass", is explained by his being a stage magician.
  • Aziraphale in Good Omens. He certainly could do "real magic" if he wanted, but he much prefers prestidigitation, despite how awful he is at it.
  • The Weasley Twins in Harry Potter have shades of this, using their magical ability to develop tricks for pranksters, being grade-A pranksters themselves. In one book, they use this trope as a cover to impress a local village girl, who thinks that their tricks are "almost like real magic". They actually open their own joke shop later on in the series. The Marauders, their inspiration, may have also been like this. Funnily enough, their joke shop also does steady, if not exactly booming, business in selling Muggle stage magic props to wizards.
    • There's also a popular fan theory that Harry's maternal grandparents were stage magicians, thus explaining their enthusiasm regarding Lily being a witch.
  • Nick Velvet is an amateur magician who often uses sleight of hand in his thefts. He is skilled enough that he is able to get a job as a magician on a riverboat in "The Theft of Twenty-Nine Minutes".
  • Many of the characters in The Night Circus, particularly Prospero and his protege Celia. Prospero teaches his daughter to hone her innate talents by holding ever larger and more complex magical workings in her mind. Celia takes her position on the game board as the illusionist who makes true transformations, adding tents and maintaining wondrous aspects from the inside.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Xaverri, an ex-girlfriend of Han Solo who plays a major role in a few novels as a stage illusionist. While one would think that in a universe where holograms have been well-established for thousands of years, such illusions would have a hard time impressing people, Xaverri is so good with her holographic artistry that she can fool capital ship grade sensors, let alone the human eye. This plays a pivotal role in a battle where a rag-tag group of smugglers and pirates defeat a much larger Imperial task force.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz himself, as everyone knows by now, was not a wizard at all, but a stage magician flung by a tornado into a Magical Land, where through clever use of stage magic he was able to convince the denizens he was a powerful wizard.
  • Butterbumps, the Tyrells' fool, in A Song of Ice and Fire entertains his ladies with sleight-of-hand tricks.
  • In Stranger in a Strange Land Valentine Michael Smith does a stint as a magician in a carnival. Even with the lovely Jill for an assistant, he is not very good; the manager says his tricks (actually done through Martian telekinesis)are good, but he just doesn't know people
  • World Of Wonders, the third novel in Robertson Davies Deptford Trilogy is about the rise to fame of stage magician Magnus Eisengrim.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 1970s ITV kids' show Ace Of Wands featured a stage magician called Tarot who solved mysteries in his spare time. The show had a magic advisor, but most of the tricks depicted in the show were cheats using video effects.
  • GOB Bluth on Arrested Development. In spite of presenting himself as a cool ladykiller, he's a pretty dorky guy who is constantly trying to impress people with stage magic at inappropriate moments and usually flubbing it terribly.
  • Banacek: In "Now You See Me, Now You Don't", Banacek investigates when an amateur stage magician literally disappears during the middle of his vanishing act.
  • The Bozo Show: Wizzo was one, of the "Arabian Nights mystic" flavor. The man under the makeup, Marshall Brodien, was a professional magician whose "do-it-yourself" magic show kits were often seen during Bozo's Grand Prize Game.
  • Michael Carbonaro of The Carbonaro Effect is a sleight-of-hand artist with a twist — instead of being on stage, he performs his tricks while in disguise on the streets or in various businesses and pretends to be as shocked and confused by his own antics as the people he deals with. It's when they're on the verge of losing their minds that he finally reveals himself.
  • Colonel March of Scotland Yard: In "The Case of the Misguided Missal", Real Life stage magician Chan Canasta appears As Himself: brought in by March to demonstrate how the missing book could have been stolen from the safe.
  • Columbo has featured magicians twice, as the murderer in "Now You See Him..." and as the victim in "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine." In both cases, Columbo feigns bewilderment at the magic acts, but his innate perceptiveness allows him to notice far more than the average audience member.
  • On Corner Gas, Hank's talent show act was supposed to be this, but due to his watch displaying the wrong date, he ended up stuck at the talent show with no props, forcing him to mime his act and describe what would have happened had the props been there. He won. All the other acts were just that bad.
  • CSI: NY: "Sleight Out Of Hand" guest-starred real-life magician Criss Angel as in-universe magician Luke Blade, who fancied himself the next Houdini but who snapped and began killing people in variations of his own stunts. He cut his first victim in half with a garden-variety hand saw...while she was still alive. The team purchases a magic kit as part of their investigation; Mac uses it to turn a handkerchief into a rose in front of Stella and Danny, but never reveals to them how it's done.
  • Friday the 13th: The Series:
    • "The Great Montarro". The episode in fact revolves around a number of them, from the cursed artifact's original owner, to a whole theater full of them competing for a prize, with several falling under suspicion before they are unfortunately eliminated and the true villain is revealed. Also, Jack was apparently one in his youth.
    • One of the magicians Jack used to have an act with, Robert "The Great" Jandini, appears in "The Spirit of Television", being asked by Jack to help him, Micki, and Johnny out in debunking whom they suspect to be a phony medium. Unfortunately, said medium has the use of a cursed TV set, which she uses to kill some of her clients in exchange for prolonging her life, and Jandini ends up paying the ultimate price for trying to help the protagonists out, much to Jack's own rage and guilt.
  • The patient in the House episode "You Don't Want to Know" is a stage magician who manages to impress the usually irascable House with a card trick.
  • On How I Met Your Mother Barney frequently uses magic to try to impress girls and has vintage magic posters in his apartment. In real life, Neil Patrick Harris is president of the Magic Circle, and an accomplished magician.
  • Jonathan Creek is The Man Behind the Man to one of these in his day job, and quite a skilled illusionist himself when he feels like it. Adam's illusions are often showcased on the programme, and tricks of the magician's trade are often key to solving the mysteries.
  • An episode of Leverage features Nathan masquerading as a stage magician at a corporate event whilst the team pull off a heist.
  • The Magician, a TV series starring Bill Bixby as stage illusionist Anthony "Tony" Blake, who used his skills to solve crimes. Bixby was a skilled amateur magician who performed all of the illusions performed by his character.
  • Monk: Season 7's "Mr. Monk and the Magician" pits Monk against The Great Torini (played by Steve Valentine, an accomplished magician in his own right), the mentor of Monk's upstairs neighbor, after the latter is strangled the night of his debut as a magician. Torini goes so far as to mockingly sign a "confession" to the murder on flash paper at one point, which then ignites in Monk's hand.
    Torini: Abra cadabra, Mister Monk.
  • Murderville: The conceit of the first episode, "The Magician's Apprentice". A magician's Lovely Assistant has been sawed in half, and one of the suspects is a rival magician who awes Terry and Conan with sleight of hand during his interrogation.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse: Pee-Wee tried stage magic once. Once. Let's just say it would have ended badly if Jambi hadn't intervened.
  • Penn & Teller: Fool Us is a show based on bringing in various magic acts to perform and try to fool the titular duo. If they do, they get a spot opening for their Las Vegas show - if they don't, they still get a boost in publicity from their appearance on the show.
  • Perpetual Grace LTD: Paul, a shifty ne'er-do-well and something of a Manchild, happens to be a keen devote of stage magic. He demonstrates his abilities with a nigh-supernatural ability to disappear and reappear in puffs of smoke. When asked how he accomplishes the feat, he will only say that it involves "hunkering" and "scurrying."
  • On Pushing Daisies, there are Ned's half-brothers (which are twins) and their mentor, the Great Hermann.
  • One of the "leapees" on Quantum Leap was one of these. If memory serves, he took a young Al under his wing for a while at one point.
  • Played with in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch where a visiting uncle is revealed to be a "Wigician," a witch who is also a professional stage magician without using actual magic. Apparently, this is something of an embarrassment to Zelda who feels he's squandering his legitimate magical talent.
  • Occasionally Sesame Street would feature The Amazing Mumford, for whom Grover was always eager to be the audience volunteer. Sometimes Mumford's tricks would have an educational bent (for example, when he subtracted pineapples), sometimes they were just gags. On one occasion Grover came to watch, but there was no show—Mumford was just practicing. Mumford didn't get the trick right, but Grover did get a hop and a skip for his exit.
  • She-Hulk: Attorney at Law: The fourth episode introduces Donny Blaze, a stage magician whose act mostly consists of cheap sleight-of-hand tricks that bore his audience senseless. Donny is actually a former student of the Mystic Arts in Kamar-Taj and still has his Sling Ring which he uses to liven up his act by opening portals to other dimensions. This draws the ire of Wong, the current Sorcerer Supreme, who hires She-Hulk to sue Donny Blaze and stop him from messing around with dangerous magic.
  • The Sunny Side Up Show: In one segment, Sean pretends to be "The Great Seandini" and tries to make Chica disappear but instead makes clones of Chica appear. In order to make them disappear, Sean receives a message from a Sproutlet viewer requesting they "Chicasize."
  • The Tales from the Crypt episode "Well Cooked Hams" features two: Zorbin the Magnificent is really good at stage magic. Not so much for Miles Federman, his protege, who botches many a magic trick he tries to perform despite promoting himself as being great at it.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): In "Before Your Very Eyes", a murder takes place at the climax of a magician's act when sabotage turns the sword cabinet into a Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon.

  • Similarly, Pinball Magic has the player proving his magic skills before Matra Magna and her panel of mystics and magicians.
  • Theatre of Magic casts the player as a (female) Stage Magician performing before an unseen audience.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • While he never brought it to the forefront of his gimmick, Damien Sandow claimed to be one of these while feuding with Sheamus back in 2012 or thereabouts.
  • Understandably considering his most famous gimmick / character, Glenn "Kane'' Jacobs has tiptoed around this trope from time to time over the years.

  • Blackstone the Magic Detective, a radio series telling the (fictional) adventures of Harry Blackstone, famous stage magician of the day, solving mysteries.
  • Chandu The Magician, a 1930s radio series that also got made into a movie serial. The series featured the adventures of the character Frank Chandler, also known as Chandu, an American who learned mystical arts such as astral projection which he used to fight criminals and other villains. Chandu was the inspiration for Doctor Strange.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The 1975 ''It's Magic! Magic! Magic! Game" by Remco has the players in this role. They must perform with their Lovely Assistant the classic Levitation, Saw a Woman in Half, and the Disappearing Box illusions.
  • In both Mage: The Ascension and Mage: The Awakening, certain magic-users are presented as using stage magic as a cover story. Magic in this setting is made more dangerous by mortals perceiving it, an effect called Disbelief, but it is possible to suspend Disbelief by masking it. (This won't work with the really flashy stuff like lightning bolts.)
  • Several characters in Mutants & Masterminds' Freedom City setting sport this as their profession, including yet another example of an "Abra-cadaver". All have real magic in addition to their stage magic.
  • Space 1889 in Magical Mystery Tour from Challenge 63 the player characters are supposed to escort and help a stage magician out-magic a warmongering shaman.
  • A Dragon article about adding magic to Alternity included sleight of hand as one option, with the note that in high-tech settings like Star*Drive, misdirection and illusion could be really convincing. A sample adventure involves a stage magician on an interstellar cruise ship, who is killed by one of his own illusions.

  • The Consul has the Magician, "the one and only Nika Magadoff." Like many of the other characters applying for a visa, he is unable to produce the documents the Secretary demands. Declaring that "art is the artist's only passport," he attempts to prove his identity by demonstrating a variety of his tricks, making Mr. Kofner's watch disappear and reappear, and hypnotizing everyone else in the room into dancing with each other. When the Secretary is more annoyed than impressed by these demonstrations, he proceeds to Rummage Fail through all his pockets, producing a rabbit (among other things) but no papers.
  • The opening scene of Love Life has the central couple being performed upon by a magician, with Sam being levitated and Susan being sawed in two.
  • Zark, the protagonist in Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana, is this and falls under Magicians Are Wizards, but the backstory establishes that he lost his powers when he lost his sweetheart. The show follows his journey into a Magical Land to regain both.

    Video Games 
  • In Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland, Ficus Finis is a magician who dresses in this manner, including a swanky top hat, gold-embroidered black overcoat, and white gloves, as well as wielding a deck of cards in combat.
  • The poster for "Showbiz Bendy" in Bendy and the Ink Machine depicts Bendy holding a wand, Alice Angel holding a saw, and Boris the Wolf inside a box with his head and feet sticking out.
  • Carl Clover from BlazBlue dresses like this, and has several moves that involve pulling things out of thin air.
  • Genshin Impact: The Fontaine Archon Quest introduces Lyney, an up-and-coming stage magician who's already made quite a name for himself in Fontaine, with his twin sister Lynette acting as his Lovely Assistant. While the twins both have real magic in the form of their Visions, their performance at the Opera Epiclese opens with both setting their Visions aside, making it clear that the Impossibly Awesome Magic Tricks being performed are simply clever sleight of hand and carefully hidden props. Years prior to the game's events, the two were Street Urchins who used their magic tricks to earn enough Mora to survive and kept their skills sharp even after being adopted by "Father" (actually the Fatui Harbinger Arlecchino).
  • Sam, the main character in Gray Matter is a Stage Magician in training and she really wants to become full-fledged by joining the mysterious Daedalus Club. Her ability also plays a part in solving puzzles.
  • One of Kirby's powers in Kirby & the Amazing Mirror and Kirby: Squeak Squad. His moves include releasing doves, card-throwing, and releasing a jack-in-the-box. Aside from Kirby himself, there's also the third boss in Kirby's Epic Yarn, a pumpkin-headed magician named Squashini who uses a slot machine to choose which trick he'll attack you with, ranging from a Shell Game with top hats, to tying Kirby to a bomb he has to escape.
  • Hamilton Temple in The 7th Guest, who came to Stauf Manor in hopes of learning true magic from its owner.
  • Mr. Rabbit, one of the guests in Rusty Lake Hotel. He shows you some of his tricks while you tend to him and ends up fatally stabbed from a sword trick gone wrong.
  • This is how Magic Man of Mega Man & Bass is designed; he's in a carnival, he looks like a stage magician crossed with a deck of cards, and he uses attacks that involve throwing cards or releasing birds (naturally, given the series, the protagonists can copy the card throw.)
  • The Rank 4 boss in No More Heroes, Harvey Moisewich Volodarskii, is a professional magician who has a Siegfried/Roy accent and dresses like David Copperfield. He fights Travis at his show and has a One-Hit Kill attack where he has his assistants lock Travis into an exploding box.
  • One of the two Original Generation protagonists of Super Heroine Chronicle, Noel Kazamatsuri, calls herself a "magical magician".
  • The Magic Show is all about a magic show performed by the main character, who can be male or female.
  • Maxwell from Don't Starve originally started out as a Stage Magician back when his name was William Carter, and many of his quotes reference this.
  • Lemmy Koopa in Paper Mario: Color Splash. His magic wand can produce genuine magic, but for the stuff his wand cannot do, he's crafted sleight-of-hand tricks to compensate. As he is an illusionist and Mario fights using a deck of cards in this game, Lemmy is the only major boss able to directly influence and manipulate Mario's cards, aside from Roy's orange paint attack when the latter uses his Paint Launcher.
  • Yoshino Shimazu, from Maria Watches Over Us, appears in the doujin Fighting Game Maribato! as a playable character: Aside from using a wooden sword as her main weapon, Yoshino also relies on tricks to fight: When performing, her wooden sword temporarily transforms into a black staff with a white tip, she can summon birds from her top hat to damage airborne opponents, and her throw has he stuffing her opponent into a trick cannon, and fire her up into the sky.
  • Warframe has the Limbo Warframe, who is themed as a stage magician, top hat included. Going with the 'vanishing people' trick, Limbo's skillset revolves around banishing enemies and allies to an alternate dimensional plane.
  • Introduced in the the ninth generation of the mainline Pokémon series, Meowscarada (the final form of the Paldean Grass-type starter Sprigatito) is partially based on illusionist stage magicians. The round flower that appears to be floating near its head is actually connected to it by a stem, which is hidden by a reflective fur lining on its cape. It plucks these flowers and stealthily rigs them around its opponents with careful misdirection, to set them off as pollen bombs. When it uses its signature move 'Flower Trick', a spotlight shines on the opponent as one of these bombs drops out of nowhere onto it, with a shower of petals and confetti.
  • Nobody Saves the World: The Magician form wears a snazzy tuxedo, cape, and black top hat, and has attacks based around playing cards and summoning rabbits and white tigers.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Max Galactica from Justice For All is one, and good enough to win an international competition of stage magic. His signature trick is flying over the audience, but he also performs card tricks with Phoenix, Maya, and Gumshoe offstage. His flying act lands him in the defendant's seat when his fellow circus members claim to witness him flying away from the scene of a murder.
    • The Apollo Justice game introduces a legitimate magician team, Troupe Gramarye, consisting of Magnifi, Zak, Thalassa, Valant and Trucy. Tragedies befall the group as Thalassa perishes in an accident caused by Zak and Valant, while Magnifi contracts several diseases that render him incurably ill. Then he chooses Zak as his successor and gives him the rights to his magic and screws over Valant, committing suicide to make it look like he had killed him, which leads Valant to frame Zak and kick start the game's plot. And the ultimate victim of it all is Trucy. If only she knew what was waiting for her in a sequel...
    • Spirit of Justice introduces Bonny de Famme, a rookie magician who is working with Trucy. There's actually two of her; Bonny and her twin sister Betty. In addition, Trucy found an older member of Troupe Gramarye, Mr. Reus, to work with her as well. Once again, there are actually two of him, though it's much darker - Trucy knew the second Mr. Reus, Manov Mistree, while the first, Roger Retinz, manipulated Trucy's show and killed his successor to ruin Trucy's life.
  • Himiko Yumeno from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is the Ultimate Magician. However, she insists on being called the Ultimate Mage, and that her tricks are actually real magic, even when explaining her magic trick is vital to a murder investigation.
  • Rosé Mulan from Spirit Hunter: NG has stage magician as her claimed profession, though she states it's merely a side gig for her true role as a supernatural savant. When she's able to pick locks, she claims it's from her experience as a magician, though there's clearly more to it than that.

    Web Animation 
  • Camp Camp: When he was sent to Camp Campbell, Harrison signed up for magic camp (not to be confused with the other magic camp) to learn how to be a stage magician. The twist? He has actual magic powers, which tend to mess up his acts since he can't control them.
  • Happy Tree Friends: In "I Get a Trick out of You," Lumpy performs a magic act for the other characters, which includes sawing Cuddles in half, which goes horribly wrong.


    Western Animation 
  • One Family Guy cutaway has Peter performing magic on stage for the blind, in his usual outfit, but with a top hat and black cape.
    Peter: Was it a red card?
    Blind man: I don't know what red is.
    Peter: Ta daaa!
  • One episode of Fillmore! involves a missing robot dog that a junior magician makes vanish at the school talent show. The Chase Scene gets a lot more interesting when the suspect is using magic tricks to escape.
  • The villain of Frosty the Snowman is a horrible stage magician who can't pull off a single proper trick. His hat, however, contains actual magic and gives Frosty life.
  • Futurama:
  • Kaeloo: Kaeloo, Stumpy, and Mr. Cat wear top hats and use wands to do magic tricks on stage in Episode 5. Kaeloo manages to pull a bouquet of flowers from a hat and pull out a bunch of multicolored handkerchiefs as well. Stumpy's act fails because he didn't have any tricks and thought magic was real. Mr. Cat's act consists of using Quack Quack the indestructible duck as an assistant and sawing him in half for real.
  • Ace Cooper, the main character of The Magician is a stage magician. However, he also has the ability to cast real magic after a Transformation Sequence, which he does once an episode.
  • Mickey Mouse plays one in the Classic Disney Short "Magician Mickey". He gets heckled by Donald Duck, and hilarity ensues when Mickey starts performing ever more implausible tricks at Don's expense.
  • In the UPA Cartoon The Magic Fluke, Fox does do magic tricks in his conductor baton wand, to play music was Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, and levitation trick ceiling, then orchestra has been disappeared. He destroyed his ripped tuxedo to the fox.
  • The Great and Powerful Trixie's (and her father, Jack Pot's) profession from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Her Cutie Mark is even a Magic Wand! Granted, genuine magic does exist in this world (and Trixie herself wields it), but few ponies make a magic act out of it. She backs it up with tools such as smoke bombs and assorted pyrotechnics, stunts, and stories.
  • Presto Digitagione of the Pixar short Presto (2008) is one of these, but with (presumably) much more talent at real magic since he's created two portals and hid them in his hats.
  • Abra Cadaver, the magical zombie in The Powerpuff Girls (1998), uses an assortment of magical tricks to fight the girls, including putting them in a box and attempting to saw them in half.
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: "Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!" "Again?"
  • Several real-life magicians have appeared in The Simpsons, including Penn & Teller multiple times. Fictional magicians have also appeared, most notably Gunter and Ernst, expies for Seigfreid and Roy (who wound up getting mauled by a tiger in the show before it happened to the real-life duo). Both Bart and Lisa have also pursued magic as a hobby.
  • The Smurfs (1981): Malchior the Magnificent is this for the Smurfs, from whom Jokey wants to learn how to do stage magic.
  • The Amazing Mumbo from Teen Titans (2003) is a criminal who often fights the Titans. Though he dresses and behaves like a stage magician, he has real magical powers. His most notable appearance is in "Bunny Raven", in which the Titans are trapped inside his magic hat and he turns them into animals, except for Beast Boy, who is turned into a lamp.
  • Tex Avery's MGM short "Magical Maestro" has Mysto the Magician getting snubbed by opera singer Poochini, and gaining his revenge by casting a series of humiliating spells as the latter performs. Mysto he freeze conductor in his magic wand and he stole his tuxedo, and hair wig.
  • Bugs Bunny tangles with magician Ala Bahma in the early Chuck Jones short "Case of the Missing Hare".
  • Ready Jet Go!:
    • In the episode "Who Messed Up the Treehouse?", Jet tries to be a magician to make the trash disappear, but fails. He even uses terms such as "Abracadabra" and "Hocus pocus".
    • In "Magnet, PI", it is revealed that Sean is an amateur magician called The Great Seanzo. Later, the kids put on a magic show for Carrot using magnets.
  • Rosie's Rules: Crystal does magic tricks under the name "The Great Crystalini."

    Real Life 
  • The older renditions of The Magician trump card of the tarot playing card decks depict not the mystical mage of magical lore... but, the stage magician/ con-man of the regular market fair or feast day available across Medieval Europe, not just in Italy or France. The usual suspects on the table indicate the coal-face, sleight-of-hand tricks of the cup-and-ball, shell games and rods. Which are probably Older Than Dirt.
  • The Amazing Randi presents us with an interesting case: starting off as a stage magician, he eventually became a noted debunker of claimed Psychic Powers and other forms of charlatanry...frequently by performing the same feats as a stage magician, and explaining how it's done.
  • Criss Angel (Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos). This magician with a rock and roll "bad boy" persona came to prominence at the Turn of the Millennium with his colorful stunts on the A&E show Criss Angel Mindfreak. He launched a Las Vegas show co-produced by Cirque du Soleil (Criss Angel BeLIEve) in 2008.
  • Dai Vernon — one of the most legendary magicians to have been overshadowed by Houdini. In addition to inspiring many magicians and developing the most imitated cups and balls routine known to man, Dai Vernon is credited with helping perfect a lot of sleight-of-hand techniques used by today's magicians. He is also known to have been the only man to ever outfox Houdini himself, earning himself the laconic description — "The man who fooled Houdini."
  • David Berglas was a British stage magician, escapologist, and hypnotist during the '50s, '60s, '70s, and, '80s who was featured in numerous European television shows and was an inspiration to Derren Brown.
  • David Blaine formed his creative persona as a direct inversion of this kind of magic (hence his usual title, "street magician"). Increasingly, however, he has gained popularity for increasingly showy, increasingly public (and publicized) feats of magic, though the stunts are more endurance-based than typical illusions.
  • David Copperfield became famous in The '80s with TV specials that included such stunts as making the Statue of Liberty appear to vanish and escaping from Alcatraz. Probably the best-known traditional magician working now.
  • Derren Brown uses misdirection to exploit and explore facets of human psychology that make us vulnerable to deception. He often explains how he does his tricks as well to demonstrate that these flaws are natural and not as easy to overcome as we may think. Although much of what he does is classic magic tricks disguised as psychological tricks. One notable and easily proved example is when he convinced several bodybuilders that he could hypnotize them to convince them that they would be unable to lift a small woman that Derren was easily able to lift. In reality, she was simply shifting her center of gravity further back when the bodybuilders tried to lift her, it is much easier to pick someone up when they are standing right next to you as opposed to being further away.
  • Dirk Arthur seems to have taken the animal act torch from Siegfried & Roy, but unlike them is very meticulous in making sure that the animals he works with on stage are properly trained (he's a very competent animal trainer and advocate for wildlife conservation). He's produced a documentary for the Discovery Channel in which he discusses the behind-the-scenes aspect of what it takes to keep the animals healthy, happy, and properly trained. Doesn't show how he does any tricks but he does show that each cat has their own personality. And while he doesn't explicitly say it, it's clear he has an emotional attachment to each cat, and while he says he thinks of them as colleagues, it's clear he thinks of them as a family as well.
  • Doug Henning was a famous stylistic subversion of this kind of performer. Most famously, he rejected the tuxedo, top hat, and clean-shaven look cliche and opted to have more of a hippie day-glo look along with an earnest enthusiasm which help revitalized the magic show as popular entertainment in the 1970s.
  • Harry Houdini was, within the trade, admired for his preparation and command. A lot of his contemporaries thought he was out of his depth doing basic stage magic (basically everything he did had to be made more awesome than it really was). Normal magicians pulled a dozen threaded needles out of their mouths to a small audience. Houdini would stretch the thread from one stage wing to the other. As one fellow magician said. "How did the audience see the needles? Houdini told them they were there."
  • Howard Thurston was a stage magician during Houdini's time who was even more famous than Houdini. A recent biography of him is titled "The Last Greatest Magician in the world"
  • Seinfeld star Jason Alexander is also an accomplished magician, among his many talents.
  • Jasper Maskelyne claimed to have used stage magic as warfare during World War II. He disguised jeeps as tanks and tanks as trucks. He faked entire armies and navies. He faked an invasion. He could in fact be considered a key man behind Allied victory — As the war dragged on, the Allies realized that they would eventually lose Alexandria and the Suez Canal to German bombers, cutting off their oil supplies. Maskelyne created a fake (night-lit)Alexandria three miles off-target and masked the canal itself with a wheel of spinning light nine miles wide. ...That is, if you believe him and not the official record or independent research.
  • Jean Robert-Houdin was the originator of the trope, creating the Top Hat and Tails look described above back in the 1850s when it was the height of fashion. (He was reacting against the then-current trend of stage magicians wearing mystical robes, choosing to make a different statement by showing a man doing magic while dressed like an ordinary member of his audience — a statement recreated in later decades when other magicians rejected the Top Hat and Tails look and adopted the common dress of their own times.) Houdini took his stage name from Robert-Houdin.
  • Lance Burton, a Las Vegas favorite, is another traditional example who specializes in close-up magic (producing doves, cards, etc.). He's also done several TV specials in the late '90s and early '00s in which he points out that often it's not so much magic as science (of misdirection) but he's still quite a competent illusionist, and well respected in the field.
  • The "Masked Magician," of a series of specials aired on the Fox network from 1997-1998 called Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed. He was seen as a threat by many stage magicians at the time for breaking the long-standing taboo of never revealing how to do a trick. At the end of the fourth special, he revealed himself to be American stage magician Val Valentino, telling the audience that the reason he broke the taboo was that he wanted to reinvigorate children's interest in magic by showing that even the most complex of illusions often had simple tricks to pulling them off as well as allowing the audience to marvel at the magicians' showmanship and the performance as a whole rather than focusing on trying to figure out how the tricks were performed. The show had a one-episode revival in 2002 with a different Masked Magician whose identity was not revealed and then got a proper revival from 2008-2009 which featured Valentino reprising the role with the original costume.
  • Melinda Saxe, a.k.a. "Melinda First Lady of Magic" — she was in fact the first female magician to headline on the Las Vegas strip — took some flack because she looked like the Lovely Assistant, but still achieved a measure of national fame with her "Drill of Death" routine in the 1990s. She retired to raise a family but has recently returned to performing.
  • Neil Patrick Harris is not only a real magician but also president of the Academy of Magical Arts, which has as its clubhouse the Magic Castle.
  • You also have the Pendragons formerly a husband and wife team who called their work "physical grand illusion". There was an incident where Arthur Pendragon was severely injured during a rehearsal. An arrow that wasn't supposed to actually fire did and pierced him.
  • Penn & Teller, who came to prominence in The '80s cheerfully admit to stage magic being fakery to the point that they don't hesitate to show how some conventional tricks are performed. They also incorporate tons of comedy and social commentary into their shows.
    • They often follow up said explanation with an even more elaborate or surprising illusion (which they don't explain) to close off an act and leave audiences wondering. One of their main aims is to make people think critically about events and acts that seem supernatural.
    • One of Teller's best-regarded (at least by other magicians) routines is the Red Ball Trick. Penn quite visibly doesn't care for it, announcing at the start "he's got a thread" and storming off stage. The audience then spends the next several minutes trying in vain to spot the thread they've just been told is there; most people conclude the statement is misdirection and the ball is controlled some other way. The reality (and the reason it's so impressive to other sleight-of-hand artists) is that Teller is just that good.
    • Notably, in their show about stage magicians trying to fool them, they take great pains to try not to blow the secrets of their guests when trying to reveal they know how it's done. They may reveal their own secrets and commonly used ones, but they respect hard-working magicians who've come up with their own twists too much to ruin them.
  • Ricky Jay has performed card magic on stage in an acclaimed show titled "Ricky Jay and his 52 assistants".
  • Siegfried (Fischbacher) and Roy (Horn) got their start in Las Vegas as a supporting act in showgirl revues in The '70s, but eventually headlined their own shows, the biggest of which ran at the groundbreaking Mirage Hotel and Casino from 1989-2003. They were famous for using huge setpieces and exotic animals in their acts; infamously it was Roy being mauled by one of their white tigers during a performance that ended their stage careers. Their flamboyance made them by far the most frequently parodied modern magicians during their run.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stage Magic


Red the Magician

Step right up and witness the awe & wonder of the great Red the Magician! From summoning tons of rabbits to lightning, this stick figure can do anything at the command of blocks... with a little help, of course.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / StageMagician

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