Thunder rolls. Or is that hoofbeats in the sky? Above the wailing wind, a hunting horn can be heard, and the baying of cruel hounds. The Wild Hunt roams the land and sky, and all honest men cower in their homes, for even the sight of it can bring disaster.
Originating in European stories recorded in The Middle Ages, as well as Hindu Puranas of the same time period, this trope is Older Than Print. The nature of the Wild Hunt varied somewhat from location to location. However, the overall nature of the Hunt was generally agreed upon — it was otherworldly, the participants were mounted on Hellish Horses and accompanied by Hellhounds. It usually existed to either hunt the living, punish the hunters, or both.
Sometimes the Hunt was hunting the dead or dying with the purpose of taking them to the afterlife, such as the Norse version which was led by Odin or the Welsh version led by Gwyn ap Nudd. A Greek version is said to have been led by Hecate or Artemis; the Maenads' orgies of ecstasy and bloodshed, led by Dionysus, bear some similarities as well. Some medieval regions reported that the Hunt was led by Diana — though interestingly enough, not in any region where Diana had been worshipped historically.note The other huntsmen were often the dead or hapless mortals swept up into the hunt for all eternity.
This legend was later adapted by Christianity, with its versions of the Hunt being led by Satan, Herodias, Habundia (a fairy queen from Scottish folklore, possibly equivalent to Queen Medb in Irish folklore, and Queen Mab in English folklore), or sometimes a localized huntsman figure like the English Herne the Hunter, the French Hellequin, or the German Hans von Hackelbernd. With the other huntsmen or witches being the damned and the hounds themselves being the souls of unbaptized children.
Other times, the Hunt was made up of The Fair Folk. This version, also known as the Fairy Raed, tends to be led by a bare-chested man with an antlered deer skull for a head. In Norway, it was said that the hunt brought luck to the place where it rested. Certain farms had such legends connected to them.
Modern versions of the Wild Hunt tend to be as varied as the source, but they usually involve a spectral hunter mounted on an unearthly horse, usually accompanied by an equally unearthly host and hounds.
One theory is that the Wild Hunt legend derives from the sounds of large flocks of migrating geese, whose honkings can sound like dogs barking.
For a similar Japanese legend, see Night Parade of One Hundred Demons.
Often the Wild Hunt is True Neutral or a Wild Card. May overlap with Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. For the film of the same name, see The Wild Hunt. For the game, see The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Not to be confused with Wild Hunt.
- Akame ga Kill! has the Secret Police established by the Prime Minister's son called "Wild Hunt". Their activities are less about hunting the innocent or dead, but are rather anyone as they please.
- Little Witch Academia (2017)'s Affectionate Parody version makes the Wild Hunt into a sports event, apparently the magical equivalent of the Super Bowl. The hunters ride around on wolves destroying "ghosts," i.e. vaguely human-shaped blobs of unclear origin. None of the main characters are officially part of the Hunt, but Constanze and Akko help attack the phantoms with the former's magitek airship, while Croix sneakily boosts the enemies' power with her own technology.
- Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Episodes 4 and 5 of the anime feature an artificial version of the Wild Hunt.
- The second set of three Mahou Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride) OVAs, Nishi no Shounen to Seiran no Kishi (The Boy from the West and the Knight of the Blue Storm), feature the Wild Hunt as a group that ensures the proper function of natural weather patterns, bound during their downtime into a monolith. When lightning strikes the standing stone and their leader is released early and with Identity Amnesia, the rest of the Hunt rides randomly and uncontrollably, and nearby animals and plants are killed by their mere proximity. The leader eventually meets Gabriel, a young asthmatic boy who attempts to befriend him and help him regain his memory.
- Artesia: The Wild Hunt is very similar to the Christian-era version of the above-mentioned European folktales. The Hunt is led by the Black Hunter, a son of the goddess of Death and the Earth, depicted as a black-skinned giant with antlers, a spear and a chain threaded with the heads of people he's hunted. The other Hunters are either demonic Rahabi spirits, the ghosts of wolves and hunting dogs, and thousands of years worth of individuals who the Hunter asked to join the Hunt — heroic types that he finds worthy hunting companions. As one would imagine, his request to join is difficult to resist, and he isn't happy if he's refused.
- The Books of Magic: Tim Hunter briefly becomes the leader of the Fairy Raed. Said grouping had earlier killed Cupid.
- Global Guardians: The Guardian known as the Wild Hunstman, who fights with the power of a freight train atop his fearsome steed Orkan and aided by his hound Donnerschlag.
- Gravel: During the Lying Liars arc, one of the magicians Gravel faces calls the Wild Hunt down on him.
- In the short story "King Vold" (from the trade paperback The Right Hand of Doom), Vold is a headless huntsman in the sky, having declared that God could keep his paradise as long as Vold could hunt. His hounds are the ghosts of Viking berserkers.
- A miniseries and the ninth trade paperback is entitled The Wild Hunt. In it, Hellboy joins an eponymous group of British noblemen brought together to hunt giants. They're there to kill him, because they don't want him to become the next rightful king of England (Hellboy's human mother was the last descendant of Mordred).
- Iron Man: Malekith the Dark Elf is at it again, calling down the Wild Hunt on Tony Stark because he calls himself "Iron Man" and elves, like all of The Fair Folk, hate iron. Tony responds by summoning a custom-made suit actually made of iron, complete with claws, a harpoon gun and fans that blow clouds of iron filings straight at them.
- Lucifer: In the 2018 The Sandman Universe run, the Wild Hunt is the very first hunt of predator and prey personified again and again as a method of catharsis for the inherent bloodlust that comes with life, a bloodlust that would only build and develop into wars and the potential end of the universe should they let it continue. The hunt usually involves the Hunted God being hunted by Thirst, Fear and Honor (personified as a trio of godly berserkers) across the universe. For a time, Odin Allfather led the hunt until they tracked it down and killed the Hunted God in Hell. Since all who suffer in Hell must stay in Hell, Lucifer would not allow them to keep their kill, but Odin managed to convince him otherwise on the condition that he joined their next hunt. As Lucifer does, he perverted this sacred event by hunting the Hunted God before the hunt would even begin, killing the god at infancy again and again until the god's divine essence was whittled down nearly to nothing.
- Manhunter: The third Manhunter, Chase Lawler, has the powers of the Wild Huntsman. The Huntsman was later retconned as a hallucination implanted in his mind during the fourth Manhunter series.
- The Mighty Thor: During the Casket of Ancient Winters storyline, Malekith the Dark Elf called down the Wild Hunt on Thor and the casket's guardian. They made the mistake of riding onto a (mostly iron and steel) bridge; Thor drove them off by hurling an I-beam at the head of the Hunt and saying, in effect, "I can kill you with any part of this bridge, now go away!"
- Shadowpact: Another version of the Wild Hunt (different from the Manhunter one above) pops up. It's initially evil, but Rex the Wonder Dog infiltrates the hounds, the hunter is overthrown, and the remaining hounds choose to use their skills for good.
- The Butcher Bird: The Nightmare Pirates found a pirate alliance with twenty-two other crews, initially to take revenge on Eustass Kid, but eventually formalizing it into an organization under the Nightmares, and they name it this trope.
- Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Chloe, Atticus and Lexi had an encounter with them in a Flashback adventure in "The Midnight Car", led by the Erlking.
- Nine Days Down: The Hunt is a gathering of fey and nightmares, who come together from the dark corners of the world to run rampant and hunt whatever they come across. It appears towards the end, led by Nuckelavee, to try to stop the heroes as they attempt to flee Tartarus.
- Son of the Western Sea: The Hunt, or rather one of the Hunts appears. Apparently there are chapters all over Europe. The particular Hunt Percy runs into ends up chasing the Twrch Trwyth across Ireland during the Samhain before cornering it on the Isle of Man. Several members are part of the Tuatha de Danaan, any of whom could obliterate their prey with a thought but ban the use of powers to make the hunt more exciting. Percy ends up impressing them so much that they decide to induct him as a full (permenant) member despite still being mortal. He isn't exactly thrilled by it.
- Megami no Hanabira: The Wild Hunt appears as one of Naito's demons in the final battle: it's a Wolfpack Boss of ghostly huntsmen and hounds...at least at first glance. It turns out that the true form of the demon is the King of the Wild Hunt that summons and controls the specters to attack as more-or-less Cognizant Limbs: the specters can be dispelled with single attacks but reform rapidly, while the King is more durable but can be outright injured.
- Spoofed in the Discworld-themed writings of A.A. Pessimal, where in the skies over Lancre, strong men can be driven insane at the sight of the God, Herne The Hunted, leading a cavalcade of the ghosts of all those species considered to be prey, and fair game to hunt. The Wild Hunted are a terrible and eldrich sight in the autumn night above Lancre.
- The Wild Hunt, which takes its name from the concept. The film is about a live-action role-playing game that places an enactment of the Wild Hunt as its centerpiece. Things go terribly wrong.
- Mercedes Lackey:
- In her modern fantasy and alternate history novels:
- Both the Unseleighe and Seleighe Sidhe have a Fairy Raed. The Seleighe version hunts evil men whom mortal laws cannot touch, and the Unselieghe version hunts anyone foolish enough to be out during a Wild Hunt, but especially the innocent.
- Later another Wild Hunt shows up: this one composed of gods of death from forgotten religions. It hunts mortal and sidhe alike, wielding spears tipped with meteoritic iron.
- Mercedes Lackey's modern fantasy series (mainly the SERRAted Edge) had mentions of the Wild Hunt being the exact kind of thing you do not want to run into.
- The Obsidian Trilogy:
- Anyone banished by the Golden City is given one night to get out of city lands before the Outlaw Hunt, a pack of stone dogs that are tireless and incapable of losing a trail, is released to tear them apart. The trick is that the lands are so large, there's no way for even a mounted man traveling at full gallop to exit the lands in a single night, let alone an outlaw on foot.
- There is also the Starry Hunt, a primeval force that seems to be some flavour of neutral but will fight for those who summon it.
- In The Wizard of London, the ghost of a woman who murdered her infant is turned over to the Wild Hunt.
- In her modern fantasy and alternate history novels:
- The Age of Misrule: The Hunt pursues the protagonists, and Herne the Hunter plays a major part in the development of two of the main characters.
- The oldest unequivocal instance of this trope is probably that found in the Hindu Bhagavata Purana (9th or 10th century), where mention is made of a travelling army of ghosts, headed by Shiva.
- The climax of Elizabeth Bear's Blood and Iron involves the Wild Hunt rampaging through Times Square.
- In The Brotherhood Of The Wheel by R.S. Belcher, the modern incarnation of the Wild Hunt manifests itself as a mysterious biker gang roaming the highways of America.
- Bruce Coville's Book of... Nightmares: Gwynn ap Nudd and his hounds are featured in Master of the Hunt, chasing a group of ghosts into the netherworld.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Child of the Hunt is about the Wild Hunt coming to Sunnydale.
- A Chorus of Dragons: After being sacrificed to a demon at the end of The Ruin of Kings, Khirin finds himself in a dark forest where a troop of demons mounted on Hellish Horses and led by a huntsmaster bearing a pair of antlers chases him down.
- The Chronicles of Prydain has a Wild Hunt lead by a being known as Gwyn the Hunter. Unusually, Gwyn heralds and sometimes foreshadows death, but does not cause it. The Horned King bore a deliberate resemblence to the antler-and-skull helmeted bare chested figure often said to lead the Fairy Raed, though he was a mortal human.
- City of Heavenly Fire: The Wild Hunt appears and will appear in The Dark Artifices because Mark Blackthorn was forced to join them. They are at least partially composed of faeries, are led by Gwyn ap Nudd, and collect the dead.
- Count Karlstein features a demon hunter who seeks young children.
- The Dark is Rising:
- The climax of The Dark is Rising (the book, not the entire series) involves the Wild Hunt, led by the standard Celtic deity Herne the Hunter. In this case the hunt is a wild but ultimately positive force that drives the villains to the ends of the earth.
- The Wild Hunt appears again in the last book, Silver on the Tree.
- Dogsbody by Diana Wynne Jones, the protagonist turns out to be related to the hounds. In her The Merlin Conspiracy, the main character turns out to be related to the hunter.
- In the web-novel Domina, the fey declare a Wild Hunt shortly after reformatting their culture, sending their Princes to attack seemingly random locations. It's not clear what their actual plan was, as it gets derailed by the Composer showing up.
- The medieval visionary poem Draumkvedet (The dream song) from Norway depicts the ride of Satan as this at the end of the most complete version. It comes from the north, and "rode rather fast", with an entity in front that may or may not be Odin himself (who actually was the leader of the hunt in pre-christian times). It is, naturally, countered by the ride from the south, led and administered by st. Michael and Christ himself. The hunt comes calling when doomsday approaches.
- The Dresden Files: The Wild Hunt is made up of Wyldfae, and will kill anything in its path that doesn't join the hunt. There are several entities that can lead the Wild Hunt, but it is usually the Erlking (also called Elf-King, Erlkonig, and various different names in different cultures), one of the strongest of the Wyldfae, comparable to Mab and Titania in power:
- During Dead Beat, Harry actually calls up the Wild Hunt, in an effort to keep them away from the Big Bads; when it fails, the Erlking says he'll come back and kill Harry for daring to imprison him. Afterward, though, he's so impressed by Harry's reanimating a T. Rex (a "great hunter" itself) and riding it into battle, that he lets Harry live, for now.
- In Changes he impresses him further by using the Erlking's own words against him to claim guest rights after inadvertently opening a Way into the Erlking's dining hall and defeating two Red court champions in said hall. It's topped off when the Way out of his lair leads to a Bass Pro sporting and hunting store.
- In Cold Days, Harry tops this by gaining leadership of the Wild Hunt by defeating its leaders the Erlking and Kris Kringle. He leads it to defeat the Outsiders attacking Demonreach.note This appearance also references the Norse version of the Hunt given that Kringle is revealed as another facet of Odin.
- In The Fionavar Tapestry, by Guy Gavriel Kay, the Wild Hunt is the source of chaos (and thus evil, but also free will) in the universe.
- A variation of this, "the Furious Army", forms the backbone of Fred Vargas' The Ghost Riders of Ordebec. A woman has a vision of the Army in question taking away several locals with unpunished crimes, who turn up dead over the next few weeks. Although it turns out that no supernatural force was involved, and the murders were all part of Capitaine Emeri's planned revenge against the Vendermots.
- The Headless Hunt in Harry Potter is a Shout-Out to the Wild Hunt.
- The protagonist of the third book of His Fair Assassin travels with the Wild Hunt for quite some time.
- William Butler Yeats' poem "The Hosting of the Sidhe" is about the Fairy Raed.
- John Masefield's poem "The Hounds of Hell" is an extremely vivid portrayal of the Wild Hunt.
- In Charles deLint's urban fantasy Jack, the Giant-Killer, the Wild Hunt are under the control of a mystical horn — and whoever blows it. When prowling the streets of Ottawa, they look like black-leathered bikers on chopped Harleys.
- In Laurell K. Hamilton's Merry Gentry series, the Wild Hunt is part of the Sluagh, an army of nightmare-inducing monsters aligned with the Unseelie Court, and is awakened once again as magic returns to the Unseelie Court.
- The Mists of Avalon has the wild hunt as a Pagan rite culminating in sex. Unfortunately for the characters who take part, they turn out to be half-siblings.
- In Alan Garner's novel The Moon of Gomrath, Colin and Susan, infused by the Old Wild Magic, spontaneously decide to light a bonfire on a bleak hilltop in the Peak District. note Unconsciously they are fulfilling an age-old magical ritual that summons the Wild Hunt. Who duly turn up demanding to know who has called them into the world. Fortunately Susan wears a bracelet advertising she is now an avatar for one third of The Hecate Sisters, and they kneel in homage to her.
- In The Mortal Instruments, they're a faction of fairies unaligned to any courts. Members can be recruited from fairies or mortals. The women were considered too vicious and split to form another hunt called Adar Rhiannon.
- In The Nekropolis Archives, Amon, the Darklord of Shapeshifters, holds a Wild Hunt once per year in celebration of the anniversary of the Descension when the Darkfolk departed Earth and migrated to Nekropolis.
- Nightside: Paths Not Taken shows John offering himself as prey for the Wild Hunt in exchange for Suzie's life and the opportunity to find out more about his Missing Mom.
- October Daye: The third book, An Artificial Night features the Wild Hunt. Every hundred years during this hunt, Blind Michael leads his riders in a hunt in the mortal world. This being the only time, he leaves the safety of his home dimension. To keep his hunt going, Blind Michael has children kidnapped with fae children turned into his riders and human children twisted into the steeds that he uses.
- In John C. Wright's The Orphans of Chaos, when Vanity accidentally invokes Bran, he recognizes the power of her companions and offers to unleash the Wild Hunt on them for her. Vanity has to talk quickly to convince him that they are her friends.
- In Julian May's Saga Of Pliocene Exile, the Tanu (elves) use psychokinesis to levitate their horses and hounds to make a Wild Hunt. Bonus points because this was indicated to be the origin of the early myths.
- The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: In the third book, Cernunnos leads the Wild Hunt in an attack on the heroes, who are sheltering at Shakespeare and Palamedes's hideout.
- The Silmarillion has Oromë's wild hunt, in which he and his Hounds range over the hills and woods of Middle-Earth, hunting orcs and demons.
- Valkyrie takes part in their entry test as one of the trials to rescue her sister in Skulduggery Pleasant: Midnight. It involved being chased through a hedge maze by the members. Anyone who gets to the center alive, gets to join.
- In Peter S. Beagle's Tamsin, the eponymous ghost accidentally set the Wild Hunt on her lover, and they've been chasing his spirit for years. At the book's climax, the tables are turned and her murderer (and the man who tricked her into setting the Hunt on her lover in the first place) becomes the Hunt's quarry.
- The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Hunt, a great procession of spectral horses, hounds and riders, with a masked and horned leader at its head, occasionally crosses the skies of Fantasyland. It does so somewhat arbitrarily and does not always appear to play a clear role in the Tour beyond just being generally ominous, and Jones speculates that the Management doesn't have full control of it.
- In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jack characterizes Titania's hunt by calling it this.
- The Wild Hunt shows up somewhat often in The Walker Papers.
- Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time has a Wild Hunt when the Dark One hunts the night. Seems to be directly lifted from the Christianization of the old myth.
- Also used as a reference to the Dark Hounds themselves.
- The dark court's hounds, in the Wicked Lovely series, are the Fae version of this, led by Gabriel, advisor to the current dark king.
- One of the Wild Cards books features a Joker terrorist who goes by the name of Herne the Hunter. In addition to having the most ludicrous accent ever, he has the ability to drive people into a packlike mentality and summon up "hunting hounds."
- In The Wild Hunt by Jane Yolen, a talking white cat brings together two boys who live in the same house, but in parallel times, to prepare them for The Hunt: a bizarre adventure in which one of them will become prey for a huntsman with an evil plan.
- In Silver Raven Wolf's Witches' Night Out (Witches Chillers #1), the Hunt are portrayed as a bunch of dogs that lurk in the Salem family's backyard until such a time when WNO can figure out who killed Joe.
- Andre Norton's Witch World novels have "that which runs the ridges", which turns out to be a Wild Hunt.
- The episode "The Wild Hunt" of Quatermass and the Pit involves the alien race holding a periodic Wild Hunt to weed out the unfit. Quatermass theorises, and is later shown to be correct, that this urge has been genetically passed down through the human race, leading to wars and racial conflict.
- Season 6A of Teen Wolf revolves around The Wild Hunt, with the Ghost Riders being the main supernatural threat of the season. In this interpretation, the Riders have the ability to erase their victims from existence, including all memories of them. They appear as ghostly cowboys and are capable of riding lightning bolts. The taken are held in an otherworldly train station until the Hunt leaves town, at which time they join The Hunt and become Ghost Riders themselves. They also seem to have power over Hell Hounds, and do not abduct banshees.
- The Blue Öyster Cult Halloween-themed song Feel The Thunder, from the album The Revölution by Night, updates the story by presenting the Wild Hunt as a ghost chapter of Hells Angels riding the skies of California.
- "Het Wilde Heer" by Dutch folk metal band Heidevolk is about a Germanic variation on the Norse version.
- The classic song "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky", originally by Stan Jones. The Wild Hunt with cowboys and downright demonic cattle. In this case, they warn the cowboy who encounters them, rather than endangering him or chasing him, since joining this Hunt seems to be a punishment for a sinful life.
Their faces gaunt, their eyes were blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat
He's riding hard to catch that herd, but they ain't caught 'em yet
'Cause they've got to ride forever on that range up in the sky
Their horses snortin' fire, as they ride on hear their cry.
...Tryin' to catch the Devil's herd across these endless skies.
As the riders loped on by him, he heard one call his name.
"If you wanna save your soul from Hell a-riding on our range,
Then cowboy, change your ways today or with us you will ride,
Tryin' to catch the Devil's Herd, across these endless skies."
- Panic! at the Disco's music video for "I Write Sins Not Tragedies" runs into this territory. During a wedding, a bunch of odd and interesting people burst in, and the bride and groom go from whispering, "I love you," to each other just before the ceremony to her cheating on him. And then the leader and the groom bow together, and when he straightens, the groom is in the leader's clothing, thereby getting a new leader for The Hunt.
- Attack of the Ghost Riders by The Raveonettes would seem to be this trope, or at least that's one way of interpreting it.
- Part 3 of Schoenberg's Gurrelieder
- Neil Young's "Grey Riders".
Grey riders on the morning sky,The sun made diamonds of their road-weary eyesThat voice was calling and it cut through the night,C'mon boys, let her go!
- The Hawaiian version of the Wild Hunt is a solemn procession of the dead called Ka huakai o ka po, "The Marchers of The Night" or simply "Night Marchers". Because they're lead by Hawaiian royalty such as King Kamehameha and to look upon them is kapu (taboo), running into them is a death sentence unless you're able to quickly strip down and play dead or have a relative among the marchers. A few recent apocryphal accounts note that foreign ghosts have begun to join the Hawaiian dead or make their own processions.
- The Japanese version is the hyakki-yakō or "Hundred Demons' Night-Parade", made up of a multitude of youkai and transformed objects like karakasa. Fortunately it's just a bit of mischief, although anyone who comes across the procession will die, unless protected by some Buddhist sutra.
- Hindu Mythology has the storm god Indra being accompanied by his destructive followers the Maruts.
- The European Wild Hunt, as stated in the main article, is the one that started it all. The first known reference is probably by the chronicler Ordericus Vitalis in the 1130s. Stories vary by country or even regions of the same country, but an extremely creepy trait of some versions is that the farther away the hoof-beats or howling sounds, the closer they're getting to you. And while it's never a good thing to find yourself under pursuit from gods or The Fair Folk, some believe that if you look upon the Wild Hunt, you die.
- In Spain, The Santa Compaña ("Holy Company") is a deep-rooted mythical belief in rural Galicia and Asturias. It is also known under the names of "Estadea", "As da nuite" (The Night Ones), etc. It may be related to Odin's Wild Hunt, or the Breton Celtic westward processions of the dead to the End of the World. Many different versions can be found; however, the common image is a procession of the dead or souls in torment that wanders the path of a parish at midnight, led by a living person carrying a cross and a cauldron of holy water. The person carrying the cross must never turn around or renounce his duty in leading the Santa Compaña; he can only be freed from his duty if he manages to find another person to carry the cross and the cauldron, and to avoid this obligation the person who sees the Santa Compaña pass by must draw a circle on the ground and enter it, or he can also lie face-down. There is also a version of the legend resembling even more the Wild Hunt, called the Corteju de Genti de Muerti ("Entourage of Death Folk"), found in the rural Extremadura, in which the souls take the form of corpses riding horses.
- In Catalunya and Mallorca, the legend of Count Arnau has the nobleman in question cursed to ride through the night for eternity, wreathed in flames and accompanied by the ghosts of his hounds (in some versions, the same hounds who turned on him and killed him for his cruelty).
- The Nordics had their own version, Åsgårdsreien (depicted above), or The Ride of Asgard. It was generally seen as a ride of the dead that would cross the skies, often around Christmas times. It might have originated the common European myth, or at least contributed a fair amount of its mythology, such as the huntsman that leads it probably being derived from Odin and his Einherjar. Jacob Grimm (of The Brothers Grimm fame) theorized that the Wild Hunt may have even been the Einherjar, but the christianization of Scandinavia turned it from a Warrior Heaven to a terrifying prosession of the damned who didn't get into the Christian afterlife.
- One version in British folklore tells of King Herla, a mythical king of the Britons who made a deal with a dwarf to visit his wedding if the Dwarf would visit his. After the dwarf visited his wedding and was a model guest, Herla upheld his part of the bargain. After the three-day long wedding banquet, he went home, although the dwarf gave him a dog and told him not to get off his horse until the dog did. Once Herla and his company returned to the real world, he asked a peasant how his wife had been, and was shocked to find that the peasant wasn't Briton, but Saxon, and that the Saxons had ruled this land for a good 200 years. What's more, the Saxon only knew of the wife through an old story about a queen whose husband, King Herla, had been lost to the Fae. One of Herla's company jumped of his horse in shock and crumbled to dust upon aging 300 years. Unable to leave their horses until the dog did (which has yet to happen), Herla and his company were cursed to ride forever.
- The Far Side: "Henry! Hurry up or you're gonna miss it—ghost riders in the kitchen!" Larson had been originally considering doing a different variation on that ("ghost riders in the living room," etc.) every day for a week just to mess with people, but, perhaps wisely, decided against it.
- In Der Freischütz, the Wild Hunt is featured as the fifth apparition in the Wolf's Glen scene, represented by a male chorus accompanied by blaring horns.
- In The Warriors at Helgeland, the wild hunt is summoned for the purpose of taking the Battle Couple Hjørdis and Sigurd to Valhalla. She jumps off a cliff, and the other characters claim to see her ride with the hunt. Sigurd doesn`t get a ride, as he is a christian.
- Castle Falkenstein has The Fair Folk variety, who function as the enforcement arm of the Unseelie court.
- Changeling: The Lost features a Goblin Contract (a magical power with negative side effects for the caster) that allows a changeling to summon the Wild Hunt to Earth. This effectively means that the changeling has summoned a hunting pack of his former captors into the world with a fake distress call, and if they can't find better meat, then the changeling in question better start running... (On a critical failure, they realize who the changeling is, and may show up anyway to hunt him. On a critical success, they show up within a few seconds.) It bears mentioning that all other goblin contracts have separate drawbacks to the benefits they bring. Here, summoning the hunt already is its own drawback. Oddly enough, Changeling refuses to actually define the Wild Hunt — probably because no-one has ever seen it and lived.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- Deities & Demigods haS stats for the Wild Hunt in its Celtic Mythos chapter. The Master of the Wild Hunt returns as a deity for the 3rd edition in an issue of Dragon.
- There have also been a few fey-type creatures themed after the Wild Hunt. The lunar ravagers are essentially fey versions of the Predator, who descend via moonbeams to hunt intelligent prey. Hoary hunters are epic-level threats who appear on cold, moonlit nights to chase down and enslave victims — the only way to get a hoary hunter off your track is to kill it and its fellows, evade it nine times, or live the rest of your life somewhere that never experiences frost, because the hunters will wait for decades for another shot at their quarry. Eventually, the 3.5th Edition Monster Manual V came out with a "Wild Hunt" creature entry, containing both skull-headed, bear-sized hunting hounds and the master of the hunt himself, a towering, antler-helmed fey archer who can do absurd amounts of damage with his bow, and can track any creature beneath the moon.
- Birthright has the Hunt of the Elves, which attacks humans, and the Wild Hunt proper — those are unseelie fairies hunting elves and ignoring everything else unless it's stupid or slow enough to stand on their way.
- Forgotten Realms: Malar (god of the hunt, among other things) has his own version of this, with a chosen victim being hunted by worshipers of the Beastlord. Anyone who evades them is granted one request (that doesn't involve hurting his worshipers) by Malar.
- Nentir Vale: The Wild Hunt is a fey subfaction with loose ties to the Gloaming Court. Firbolgs, a race of fey giants with a distinctly Celtic aesthetic, regularly join it as it goes hunting monsters and oathbreakers. The Wild Hunt's leader, a cursed firbolg archfey named Cerunnos the Horned Hunter, is detailed in an issue of Dragon. There's also the regular hunts that elven dead host in their Arcadia-like plane of Arvandor to battle the Abominations — ancient super-monsters created as Living Weapons during the Dawn War — which escape from their prison in Carceri into Arvandor, which have a distinctly Wild Hunt aesthetic.
- Ravenloft: The domain of Forlorn has its own Wild Hunt that pursues those of non-Neutral alignment. Those who encounter the Hunt are either slain or magically compelled to join it. The setting's version of the Headless Horseman, who pursues victims down his domain's endless road in the company of the severed, floating, biting heads of his previous prey, could be considered a variant.
- This article from the Planescape fansite Mimir.net adapts it for D&D (second edition).
- A small version appears in the classic module Castle Amber though it still challenges a typical D&D party of that era.
- Inverted. The Wyld Hunt consists of imperial soldiers out to kill Solars, Lunars, and Abyssals, who are considered "Anathema" in the religion of the Dragon-Blooded. Their name comes from the fact that they were created to hunt creatures of the Wyld (such as, ironically, The Fair Folk) who got into Creation, and were later repurposed to hunt down the beings who formerly ran the show.
- Played straight by the Fair Folk themselves, especially in the South but really anywhere/when they feel like it.
- Pathfinder: A Wild Hunt is a high-level encounter consisting of several powerful fey creatures. These normally include a Monarch, Scouts, Archers, Horses and Hounds, but sometimes they'll convert an especially notable victim into a new unique member of the Hunt as well. The various members of the Hunt share their abilities with each other, making them very dangerous as a group — a full Hunt (one Monarch, one Scout, three Archers, three Horses and four Hounds) is a challenge fit for high-level parties.
- Shadowrun: The Wild Hunt is a collection of powerful spirits that appear as a pack of black hounds accompanied by at least one hooded and antlered hunter, either when summoned by a secret ritual known to few to hunt down someone or cause mayhem, or spontaneously, nearly always set to avenge some injustice committed against the natural world. On the bright side, if one can avoid their pursuit during the night on which they appear, by sunrise he may consider himself safe.
- Warhammer: The Wood Elf king Orion leads seasonal Wild Hunts throughout the Loren Forest and the surrounding lands of Bretonnia. He looks the part, being an antlered, green-skinned force of nature with a magical hunting horn, and is often accompanied by supernatural wolfhounds and the Wild Riders of Kurnous — savage Wood Elf elite cavalry dedicated to the elven hunting god Kurnous (Orion is a living avatar of Kurnous) and partway to being forest spirits themselves. One scenario representing the predations of the Wild Hunt in White Dwarf featured the objective of "knock down all the buildings".
- Warhammer 40,000: The Dark Eldar's raiding/hunting parties pop out of nowhere, blast anything that stands in their way, capture as many slaves as they can, and disappear as quickly before reinforcements can come. Notably, one of their targets had been the planet Nocturne, eventual homeworld of the Primarch Vulkan who put an end to the raids almost singehandedly (and his actions caught the attention of the Emperor, leading to Vulkan's recovery).
- Armored Core uses this motif when you think about it symbolically. Being employed as a Raven, a PMC pilot that operates an Armored Core, under the private company Raven's Nest in a World Half Empty - which is prone to conflict on every front, by employer or your organization, manipulated by a mysterious red AC - would drive anyone in service over the edge.
- Darklands: One random encounter has a Holzfrauen being attacked by the Wild Hunt. If you decide to rescue the wild man, you get his thanks and then each night the Horned Hunter comes out to attack you until you discover the name of the appropriate saint to drive him away for good.
- Dark Souls has its own brand, known as the Forest Hunter covenant. A group of bandits lead by the Cheshire Cat, they indirectly guard Sir Antorias' grave with the rest of the forest. Joining up with them allows you to invade other players' worlds and loot their corpse.
- The Dominions Series of games has the endgame level 9 Conjuration spell "Wild Hunt" which unleashed the Lord of The Hunt on the world. Him and his pack of animals then proceed to prowl the forests of the world hunting down enemy priests, mages and even gods! Until the Lord himself is slain.
- The Elder Scrolls
- Hircine, the Daedric Prince of the Hunt, views the entirety of existence as an unending hunt. He is fond of Hunting the Most Dangerous Game and is always seeking the most worthy prey for his Hunting Grounds. In Battlespire and Morrowind's Bloodmoon expansion, the player gets involved in his hunts and, in each case, there exists the possibility for the player to change his role as Hunted or Hunter.
- Were-creatures, especially werewolves, are Hircine's servants. They can be said to embody his view of the Hunt, as during the day they are Hunted, but at night they are Hunters.
- The Bosmer (Wood Elves) have an ancient ritual with this name. It calls upon the Ehlnofey to transform them into nightmarish hellspawn in order to drive intruders from the land, before turning on each other and engaging in what is described as a "cannibalistic orgy". As there is no known way to reverse the transformation, it is reserved for use in only the most extreme of circumstances. Most recently, this ritual was used to end the Five Years War between the Bosmer and the Khajiit.
- The Noble Phantasm of Rider (Francis Drake) in Fate/EXTRA is known as "Golden Wild Hunt", where she summons her personal ship alongside other ghost ships lead by her command during her lifetime, representing how Francis Drake is considered one of leaders of the Wild Hunt.
- In Fate/Grand Order, supplementary material from the creators and a couple of her lines, reveals that Lancer Artoria Alter is a version of Artoria that embodies the idea that King Arthur would not pass into heaven, instead becoming one with the Wild Hunt as the King of Storms, in one of many attempts to preventing herself from becoming the Goddess Rhongomyniad.
- In Guild Wars 2, members of the sylvari race partake in the race's collective subconscious, known as the Dream, before they are born. The Dream periodically grants some a mission to fight enemies of the race, which is referred to as a Wyld Hunt.
- Every playable sylvari is on one such Wyld Hunt, out for the Elder Dragon Zhaitan. Comes in full effect in the assault on Orr, where you and every other sylvari around are essentially one big hunting party on a rampage through Zhaitan's territory.
- Many other NPC sylvari are given lesser Wyld Hunts, such as hunting the Nightmare Court or anything that may threaten a particular sylvari settlement.
- Oreshika: Tainted Bloodlines also features the Hyakki Yakou, as an event that occurs that usually contains story important events and lots of EXP.
- Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon has a form of the Japanese version, the Hyakki Yakou (Night Parade of One Hundred Demons), as a Zerg Rush battle sidequest.
- The Wild Hunt is a recurring demon in the Shin Megami Tensei series, being composed of several spectral, torch-wielding figures and various animals. Notably, a horde of these demons comprises the very first boss of Shin Megami Tensei IV.
- It is possible to invoke this in Stellaris by selecting the Elven humanoid portrait for your star nations' prime species (or better, picking up the "Elves of Stellaris" Game Mod) and then taking the Barbaric Despoilers Civic, allowing you to wage raiding wars against other star nations to kidnap the populations of entire worlds and bring them home for whatever grim fate you have planned for them.
- In The Witcher, the protagonist's steps are dogged by the Wild Hunt. In one sidequest, you can choose to turn the tables, hunting the Wild Hunt and killing the Huntsman himself. They appear in the novels as well. The second game also gives some more explicit information about them: they're elves from another dimension, who have the ability to travel between dimensions. The wraiths are actually their spiritual emanations.
- It also ends up being an optional final battle.
- The third game is even called The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, and they are the main antagonists.
- In World of Warcraft, Wild Hunt is the name of a hunter-pet talent. All it does is boost its stats, but a reference is a reference.
- An actual faction called the Wild Hunt makes its debut in the Shadowlands expansion, where they're the protectors of the Ardenweald zone. They're led by Lord Herne, who in this version is a Vorkai, a sort of ibex-centaur, rather than a man with antlers.
- Gunnerkrigg Court had Mallt-y-Nos (an old woman who rode with the Wild Hunt in Welsh folklore) serving as a Psychopomp. Her hounds, the Cwn Annwn, appear on the "Black Dogs of the British Isles" bonus page.
- The webcomic Mixed Myth has the Wild Hunt specialize in hunting Elves.
- The webcomic Night School, which is about students in a fantasy world going through modernization, features a past Wild Hunt and what becomes of it in the present, the "Wild Commute"which is basically a mystical traffic jam.
- In the 2012 Halloween arc of Roommates Jareth the resident fae had to host the Wild Hunt (he called it his father's "Magical Men's Club"), which he did highly reluctantly (he needed a "Please" and a favor to accept). He also invited his own (mortal) friends and brought forth some Enemy Without as prey... even the Erlkönig questioned the 'wisdom' of this, and considering his track record he probably meant 'batshit insanity'. At the end the whole thing backfired spectacularly.
- Seen in a Tales of the Questor storyline. To wit, the Unseleigh hunt the eponymous hero, from dusk to dawn. This backfires horribly on the villain when it is discovered that the hero is a member of a race that is off-limits to the Wild Hunt.
- The Urban Fantasy Moonflowers has the Wild Hunt as the fairy antagonists, led by the Hunter who wears either a stag's or an Irish Elk's skull. They've cursed the Asian-American Song family as victims of the Fairy Raid, a killing spree that happens every seven years on Samhain/Halloween. Recent chapters state that the Hunter's full title is the Horned Hunter, who is the Anthropomorphic Personification of predators.