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Those Wily Coyotes

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When will Wile E. ever learn?

"Coyotes! Those fierce, sneaky creatures that feast on frail animals. They're swift and spiteful too."

Coyotes are some of the most crafty animals on the planet, traits which they share with foxes. Where wolves are struggling to survive in a world where their habitats are disappearing, coyotes have moved in and adapted so well we sometimes wonder who the suburbs were actually built for, us or them.

In Native American Mythology, he's a recurring character. One story even claims Coyote stole fire for man, and is seen as a benevolent (if tricky) God.

Then again, other times he's a bit of a fool, and can get himself into trouble, thinking he's got everything figured out. Outside of Native American portrayals, various other portrayals of coyotes don't take them quite as seriously as they take foxes and wolves, including one coyote who is arguably one of the most memorable Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains ever.

Coyotes in general though have a special place as tricksters, guides and a link to the unseen world. Other times, they are associated with the darker aspects of mysticism, along with cruelty and deceit, and may be a Skin-walker in disguise.

Anyways, you can bet that if a story wants to have an indigenous American flavor, a Coyote is bound to show up sooner or later. The association is so strong, it's spilled over into representing 'the American West' in general. They are often also shapeshifters, which goes along with their crafty, deceptive nature. And if there is any animal out there smart enough to talk, it's going to be the coyote, and he'll probably be snarky, too. Despite the fact that coyotes can live in bands, just like wolves do packs, they are usually seen as loners in folklore and media. Other common associations include shamanism, mystery, nature, or intelligence.

Compare Cunning Like a Fox and Clever Crows, who share a lot of the same associations as the Coyote, as they play similar roles in Native American Mythology. May be used as part of an Animal Motif. See also Animal Stereotypes.


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  • The Coyote comic series features a lead hero/trickster character similar to the mythical versions of the Coyote, as well as a modern interpretation of a half-man/half-coyote hero.
  • A Daredevil villain who stole powers of the Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Spot and proved much more devious in using them called himself Coyote.
  • In the Gen13 one-shot "Medicine Song", Sarah Rainmaker's evil stepdad Greywind got his mystical powers after somehow managing to outwit Coyote. Coyote decided to let him keep the powers out of amusement.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) features Antoine D'Coolette, a cowardly coyote with good intentions, and Patch, Antoine's opposite number from a mirror universe, known for being cunning, deceptive, and cruel.

     Fan Works 


  • In Always Coming Home, the female coyote is the chief Trickster Archetype in the Kesh folklore. They are people based a lot on pre-columbian natives, and in fact, one story is copied verbatim from real folklore.
  • Coyote Stories depicts stories of the Navajo version of Coyote, a trickster who frequently puts his abilities to use entertaining himself at the cost of other people.
  • Played with in The Last Dogs. The coyotes in the series are savage but not very smart as they were easily fooled by the main character Max, who mentions to the coyotes where to find rabbits, only for him and his friends to escape from them in a canyon.
  • Half-Native American Mercy from the Mercy Thompson series can turn into a coyote. This turns out to be because her father is Coyote from Native American myth. This is also why she's such a magnet for trouble and why she's able to escape from what should be certain death time after time.
  • In a series of novels by Michael Bergey, including New Coyote and Coyote Season, Coyote reincarnates as a genetically engineered coyote to learn how to use science as well as magic.
  • In at least one Star Trek: Voyager novel, Chakotay goes on a Vision Quest and finds himself confronted by a coyote. And just to make things more complicated for Tattoo Boy, it speaks with the voice of Q, the ultimate trickster.
  • In Summerland by Michael Chabon, a coyote is the primary antagonist, who tries to destroy the world so that he can change his status from "Changer" (trickster) to "Maker", and create a universe all of his own.
  • Coyotes appear in Survivor Dogs, but not as much as dogs or foxes. They're sneaky, cruel, and dangerous animals that act as essentially larger foxes. In fact, the dogs consider them just as bad as foxes for their sneaky ways. Dogs and wolves don't get along with them.

  • In "Coyote", a song from Hejira, Joni Mitchell compares a lover to the Coyote figure in its trickster/fool aspect.

  • As mentioned up top, Coyote shows up in the myths of many Native American cultures, with varying depictions. Even the Aztecs had him as the trickster Huehuecoyotl.

     Professional Wrestling 

     Tabletop RPG 
  • In Crimestrikers, Audrey Claymore is a heroic example. She's both an anthro coyote from a World of Funny Animals and an expert crimefighter who is accidentally brought forward in time from the local equivalent of The Wild West to The Present Day.
  • Dungeons & Dragons Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia. Coyote is a lesser god in the Native American mythos. He can act as a high level illusionist and thief, and is a bullying, greedy trickster. Often his tricks will backfire on him.
  • Shadowrun. Shamans can have Coyote as a totem. Coyote is the Great Trickster, bold one moment and cowardly the next, a good friend or a cruel joker. Coyote shamans are independent and don't follow any rules. They're curious, greedy and take risks just for fun.
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse features the Nuwisha, the were-coyotes, who serve as tricksters and teachers. Their patron Coyote has many alter-egos, including most of the world's trickster gods.

     Video Games 

     Web Comics 
  • Nine to Nine: Wolf is one-quarter coyote and has a habit of making inventions with a tendency to explode. The author has suggested he's related to Wil E. The rest of his family are also brainiacs, with his older sister a literal rocket scientist and his younger sister a Grade Skipper who graduated at the same time as him, though they tend to be a bit less accident-prone.
  • Chase from Crowfeathers is occasionally visited and advised by his best friend's spirit guide, who takes the form either of a normal coyote or of a boy with coyote ears/tail/paws.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court features the Native American trickster god as a character. He may be Chaotic Neutral or Affably Evil and he's certainly cunning.

     Web Original 
  • Huehuecoyotl, also known as Huey, is one of the primary characters in No Evil. He is known for his strange cunning and tendency to get into trouble, but he's mostly harmless and well-meaning. He also tends to be a fool, as he is based on the collection of coyote mythos.
  • In the SCP Foundation universe, SCP-2547 is a pack of thousands of various canids (including coyotes) that surrounds desert towns and blocks all entry and exit. The pack is led by the anthropomorphic coyote designated SCP-2547-1 by the Foundation, who calls himself The Reverend... but those in the know can see he's clearly Coyote the Trickster. He uses his supernatural powers to drain all the water from the towns he occupies, then demands offerings in order to receive water from him. The clincher? He won't tell you what he'll accept as an offering, and if you get it wrong, you get transformed into one of those feral canids in his pack, with no intelligence or memory of who you were remaining.

     Western Animation 
  • The Classic Disney Shorts have Ol' Bent Tail, who was often pitted against Pluto the Pup. He is shown to be quite cunning and a Master of Disguise, able to make himself look like a plant or rock to escape detection. Unfortunately, he is often saddled with his dimwitted son, who fouls up his schemes with his bumbling.
  • Gargoyles:
    • One of the members of the canid-themed Quirky Miniboss Squad the Pack is named Coyote. He's a robot, though, and therefore not very big on creative thought; the name was instead chosen by his creator Xanatos as something that fits the team's theme and because Xanatos considers himself a trickster - for instance, he originally built Coyote as a Robot Me to fool everyone into thinking he himself was joining the Pack.
    • The mythical Coyote the trickster makes an appearance in the episode "Cloud Fathers", with Xanatos and the robot Coyote trying to capture him. The mythical Coyote takes offense at the robot using his name and threatens to sue for copyright infringement.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Wile E. Coyote represents the ultimate aversion to this trope. He comes up with all sorts of seemingly cunning plans to catch the roadrunner. Tapping into the fool aspect of coyote mythology, it never works. This has been justified in-universe as being because his beloved Acme Products don't work when utilized for nefarious ends.
    • Tech E Coyote from Loonatics Unleashed is the team's Gadgeteer Genius. Unlike his other counterparts, he's definitely a good guy.
    • And further for Tiny Toon Adventures:
      • Wile E.'s Junior Counterpart, Calamity Coyote shares his affinity for plans and gadgets... and unfortunately, his bad luck. Calamity is also much less antagonistic than his Looney Tunes counterpart.
      • The main antagonist of the episode, "High Toon" is The Coyote Kid, who essentially resembles Wile E. Coyote in cowboy attire. He is the leader of the Coyote Gang, a gang of coyote outlaws who rob Prairie Junction every day at High Noon. Like Wile E., he and his gang occasionally communicate with each other by holding up signs.
  • The pack of coyotes in the Pound Puppies (2010) episode, "Rebel Without A Collar". The pack leader even knows how to open a locked cabin door by giving it a bump with his hip.
  • In The Simpsons episode "El Viaje Misterioso De Nuestro Homer", Homer hallucinates wildly from the Guatemalan insanity peppers. During his trip, he meets his spirit guide in the form of a coyote, who advises him to find his soulmate and questions Homer's assumption that Marge is his. The 'Space Coyote' is voiced by Johnny Cash.
  • The Aztec trickster god Huēhuecoyōtl ("Hue-Hue" for short) appears in Victor and Valentino. He was trapped in an alebrije (clay figurine) until he was inadvertently freed by the two main characters. At first his pranks are fun, but eventually they get too dangerous and the brothers have to put him back in the alebrije.