Follow TV Tropes



Go To
Sure, your daughter wants one now... but for all you know, it could make a Kebab from her guts with its head.

"Why did they go away, do you think? If there ever were such things."
"Who knows? Times change. Would you call this age a good one for unicorns?"
"No, but I wonder if any man before us ever thought his time a good time for unicorns."

A Mythical Motif representing purity, rarity and wild beauty, the unicorn has appeared in heraldry and fairy tales for centuries. Its origins come not as a mythical creature but as a beast of natural history recorded by ancient Greek historians.

Pliny the Elder was one of the earliest writers to study unicorns and certainly one of the most influential: "The unicorn (monocerotem) is the fiercest animal, and it is said that it is impossible to capture one alive. It has the body of a horse, the head of a stag, the feet of an elephant, the tail of a boar, and a single black horn three feet long in the middle of its forehead. Its cry is a deep bellow." We recognize this today as a very fair description of a rhinoceros.

Today's conception of a unicorn is nearer to the medieval one: a narwhal's horn, a horse's head, a deer's body and cloven hooves, a goat's beard and feet and a lion's tail. Some works forgo most or all of these features and depict the Unicorn as simply a horse with a horn in the middle of its forehead. Occasionally even wings are added, blending the unicorn with the Pegasus — this is typically done to signify that the Unicorn is even more special than normal. The creature itself is almost always white or cream in color. Exceptions are usually pitch-black, usually but not universally signifying evil specimens, but zebra-striped unicorns turn up from time to time.

As the common fare of little girls' fantasies, the origin in histories becomes quite ironic. Even in stories where All Myths Are True and obvious and are coming round for tea later, the unicorn will still keep a mythical status, staying rare and secretive. Further irony is added by the fact that it started off as an incredibly wild and violent beast that was completely untameable before evolving into one of the softest and most child-friendly motifs. After all, it is the national animal of Scotland.

The switch is linked to one of the most common paired motifs — the virgin and the unicorn. Only a virgin maiden would be able to attract the Unicorn to her. Broadly, the story always goes on the lines of the maiden attracting and soothing the unicorn until the hunters who convinced her to do so can attack and kill the unicorn for its horn. Sometimes the maiden is just followed, sometimes knowingly involved and tricked. The implication is that the unicorn was so fierce and wild only an innocent girl's purity could conquer it. What happens if she's not a virgin is not popular nowadays; nor is the other medieval way of catching it: tricking it into charging you when you stand in front of a tree and dodging, and it will be unable to pull itself free.

Either way, when they're good, the most important unicorn association is purity; harming one can often be a sign that a character is a villain. Indeed, the connections with maidens is probably why the unicorn has become gentle in popular culture and myth for several centuries. In modern days, unicorns are often part of a Sugar Bowl theme. In fantasy settings, unicorns are often associated with good factions and/or forest-dwelling fairies and elves. They're also strongly associated with nature, steering clear of farmed or urbanized areas and barren wastes alike and typically living in deep, magical forests. If used as mounts, their riders will almost always be women. Portraying unicorns as aggressive is one of the more common fantasy subversions — or perhaps the writers of today still haven't forgotten Pliny's vicious unicorn. It's a resurgence not unlike the reappearance of The Fair Folk. Truly evil unicorns, however, are relatively rare and often explicitly tainted, desecrated or otherwise "wrong" in some manner, and often have black coats.

Another traditional element of the unicorn that is less popular — despite its connections to purity — is the ability of a unicorn's horn to purify poisoned items and act as a Magic Antidote to poison.

The ungulate-with-one-horn unicorn is most familiar, but is certainly not the only unicorn in myth. Other variations include the Kirin, an Eastern variation that (sometimes) looks something like a cross between a typical unicorn and a dragon, the fierce, ox-like Karkadan, and the very different Al Mi'raj, a vicious rabbit-like unicorn. They each have one horn, so technically...

"Alicorn" originally was the name of the horn of a unicorn. The word is still around, but there are multiple different meanings. Sub-trope of Group-Identifying Feature.

There are a few related pages and subtropes:

Often overlaps with Virgin Power and All Girls Like Ponies.

A Sub-Trope of Cool Horse.

Compare Pegasus and Our Hippocamps Are Different. See also Mi'raj, a rabbit with a unicorn horn. Only related to Dead Unicorn Trope by name.

By no means to be confused with Unicron.


    open/close all folders 

  • Ameristar casino advertisement: "Is that a unicorn?" "No, it's a quadricorn!"
  • Ice Breakers mints use the "Unicorn Of Your Confidence" as a mascot in some commercials.
  • Ads for the bathroom-assistive "Squatty Potty" use an animated CGI unicorn that poops rainbow ice cream to make their demonstration sequence (slightly) less icky.
  • Bones Coffee: "Electric Unicorn" is a cereal-flavored coffee with the front label showing a skeleton riding a unicorn with a rainbow in the background. In the coffee's lore (yes, really), the Electric Unicorn has Shock and Awe powers, can talk, can conjure fruity breakfast cereals out of nowhere and lets Bones ride him out of appreciation for how "bodacious" he is.
    It was the Summer of 1983. Bones was traversing the treacherous and totally rad mountains of Coffeeland in search of the most righteous coffee known to man. In the distance, he spotted a creature only believed to exist in myth. The Electric Unicorn was a magnificent beast, harnessing the power of electricity, friggin' laser-beam eyes, and the ability to conjure fruity cereal from the heavens. Bones approached the bodacious beast and asked where he might find the treasure he was so desperately seeking. The Unicorn replied with, "Hop on, dude". They raced through the mountains and Bones was brought to the creature's home. There were coffee plants as far as the eye could see and the beans looked like no other in existence. They had a magical aura, seemingly shifting through the entire color spectrum. The Unicorn offered a cup to Bones. It blew his freakin' mind. Smooth, balanced, and a delicious fruity cereal finish; this was the coffee Bones had been searching for. Bones and the Electric Unicorn totally remained best friends forever.

  • Beast Fables: The knight's unicorn is a chimera that particularly aggressive or protective stallions can transform into. They have sharp teeth, three-toed hooves, and a rhinoceros horn, and make loyal companions for those who can tame them.
  • One of Lisa Frank's most well-known motifs is the rainbow unicorn, and it's one of the few "classic" designs that has not been retired. Rainbow unicorns appeared on school supplies, bedding, etc. back in The '90s, and were very popular with (and marketed towards) elementary-and-middle-school-aged girls.
  • In medieval art, the Unicorn was used as a very specific representation of purity and of Christ, hence quite a few depictions of unicorns being murdered (which is reprised, at least for the purity and murder, in Legend). The unicorn was also a good representation of the just, honest side of a king's reign, hence its appearance in the royal coat of the Stuart kings (and thus the current British Monarch). In the Royal Arms, it was depicted in chains (because it's honest but it's still wild and likely to kill you — pretty apt for a Scottish king). In Stirling Castle, you can actually find both making it seem like the king was recording his own likelihood of being killed (again, it was a Scottish King).
  • The most famous works of medieval art featuring unicorns are two series of tapestries. One, The Hunt of the Unicorn, depicts a group of hunters chasing down and killing a unicorn. The last tapestry depicts the unicorn chained to a tree in a garden. They are displayed in the Met Cloisters in New York City. The other, The Lady and the Unicorn, depicts a noblewoman, a lion, and a unicorn in a courtly setting. They are displayed in the Cluny Museum in Paris. Both sets of tapestries have appeared in the Harry Potter films.
  • Unicorns (or unicorn-like creatures) have been found depicted on the walls of the Lascaux Caves, in what's called the Hall of Bulls.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Ao no Fuuin: They're called Demon Masks, but appearance-wise they seem very close to unicorns, including a very long, thin horn that they need to retain, as breaking it off is a death sentence to them. With their long mane, though, they can hide the horn and body and look like very shaggy dogs.
  • Attack on Titan: The Military Police has a unicorn's head as their crest, and the branch is made up of soldiers who made it to the top 10 scores upon graduating from military training. As it turns out, the unicorn symbolizes how the Military Police's fighting prowess is just as mythical as the unicorn itself; most people only enlist for the cushy upper-class lifestyle, and many of them prove to be incompetent once they have to fight titans.
  • The fifth episode of Chainsaw Man has closing credits where each character in Denji's party is represented as a horse. One is a plush unicorn with Kobeni butcher's knife for a horn.
  • Delicious in Dungeon: Unicorns are among the monsters endemic to the Island, but the Thorden party instead encounters an Evil Counterpart called the bicorn: black horses with two goat-like horns. While unicorns are drawn to virtue and can be tamed by innocent virgin maidens, bicorns love immorality and are known to eat virtuous husbands. Laios reasons that it can be tamed by an corrupt adult male, and the party tries to catch it by behaving sinfully so they can get close, but they fail to take it alive when it senses Chilchack (who the party assumed was the necessary corrupt adult) and tries to eat him. Turns out the state of his marriage is both less and more complicated than he pretends.
  • Heaven's Design Team is about a team of celestial beings accepting commissions from God to develop the Earth's animals. They regularly try to create mythical creatures, but run into various problems when their biology can't hold up to Earth conditions. Unicorns are impossible because their horns are unsustainable; growing a solid one saps too much calcium from the skeleton, leading to severe osteoporosis. They'd need a metabolism like a cow to derive enough nutrients from their diet to work, but that'd diverge too far from the elegant horse appearance for the creator's tastes. They try making them dumber to spare more nutrients from the brain, but that makes them Too Dumb to Live. Making them hollow just makes the horns too fragile, rendering them uselessly ornamental.
  • Jack Frost: The Unicorn is definitely not a very beautiful specimen of its kind.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn: The symbolism of the Unicorn is milked for all it's worth. The eponymous Mobile Suit is white and one-horned in its base state and carries possibility to right the wrongs of Universal Century. Its pilot is a naive and idealistic teenager, who is biometrically keyed to it such that only he can operate it. On the other hand, it is also vicious, being a Super Prototype which goes on automatic destroy mode when it detects a New Type pilot nearby.
  • Overlord (2012): A moral inversion, where Nazaric's stables include a bicorn, an evil vicious bastard of a Moody Mount with two horns that can't be mounted by virgins. Which comes as a major surprise to Aura and Shalltear when the succubus Albedo can't stay on (Ainz having accidentally replaced "she's a slut" to "she loves Ainz" in her programming, so she's saving herself for him).
  • Parallel Paradise: Mystical creatures exists, including unicorns. They are known to help out long as they are virgins. The bicorns are the inverted versions of unicorns and can help out impure travelers.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica: The Blu-Ray version of the show depicts a unicorn wind chime alongside a mermaid one in Episode 9, as Kyouko speaks with Madoka. The whole scene is very subtle symbolism, with the unicorn representing Kyouko, who was wild before she met Sayaka the mermaid. Unicorn horns were said to clean tainted water, and since Sayaka became a Mermaid Witch, she became associated with water. What does Kyouko wish to do? Save her, or purify her. Kyouko may be further associated with the unicorn via her idealism and her use of a lance as a weapon. This is further invoked by Ophelia, Kyouko's Witch, riding a unicorn whose horn was cut, symbolizing her loss of purity.
  • Sailor Moon SuperS: Helios the Winged Unicorn; although he's also called Pegasus, what everyone is after is his bright golden unicorn horn.
  • Sugar Sugar Rune: The "final exam" is to fetch a unicorn horn. The unicorn takes on the form of a white-haired boy to test Chocolat and Vanilla with trickster methodology.
  • Unico: Unico is a gentle and cheerful unicorn foal (who looks more like a puppy or kitten with little golden hooves, although it's shown that he'll eventually mature into something that actually looks equine) with the ability to spread love and friendship to whomever he meets. However, the gods are not happy with this incredible power, so they initially try to kill him. Eventually, they settle on having Unico exiled to a faraway place where he cannot be found, forever cursed to wander the lands just for making others happy.
  • Voltes V: According to Tadao Nagahama, Prince Heinel's motif is a unicorn, as they are beasts associated with nobility and he is a person who has the pride of a noble in accordance with the Boazan formality. He was also designed with unicorn horns in concept art.
  • The Wize Wize Beasts of the Wizarding Wizdoms: Benjamin, the school doctor, is a unicorn. In this world unicorns pride themselves on their purity, which led his family to disown him after finding out he was gay. He also apparently has the ability to tell whether or not someone is a virgin.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds has Team Unicorn, a trio of D-Wheelers who use Unicorn-motif decks to unbelievably awesome effect. To drive the point home: Their first duelist Andore not only defeated, but completely wiped the floor with, both Jack and Aki on his own, and only a last-second moment of utter stupidity cost them the match. (Namely, Jean declaring an attack on Yusei, allowing a combo that took him out, when Yusei's deck had already been depleted; simply ending his turn would have clinched the victory.) Their ace cards are Thunder Unicorn, Voltic Bicorn and Lightning Tricorn. As you have read, two of them have more than one horn. There's also Sunlight Unicorn, used by Luca.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Arak: Son of Thunder: In Issue #37, a foreign envoy has brought a gift for the Frankish king: a unicorn. All they need to tame it is a maiden, and all eyes turn to Action Girl Valda. But they don't know about her recently-consummated relationship with Arak, and the unicorn has to be pacified by Court Mage Malagigi's magic when it goes wild.
  • Asterix: In Asterix and the Missing Scroll, the Gauls encounter a few of them in the forest of Carnutes. Later, the Romans following the Gauls are attacked by one.
  • Conan the Barbarian: One story from the B&W super-sized comics has Conan "hired" to retrieve the horn of unicorn for a ruler who had heard it would cure his impotence. Said unicorn has nothing in common with the myth other than being an equine with a horn, being black and its valley populated by the bones — particularly the skulls — of everyone who'd tried to capture or kill it. As one of the few survivors of Conan's party after he gives up he tells another survivor to simply take and give the king some ground bone from some other creature and lie about it being unicorn horn rather than continue in the fool's folly to try killing the unicorn.
  • Dark Ark: A pair of unicorns is among the monsters and, notably, they are the only creatures who aren't hostile to humans inside the Dark Ark. It turns out that they were never supposed to be there in the first place and something may have sneaked them in without either Shrae or the Devil knowing it.
  • Firewake: Unicorns are the sole sapient species in the comic, but have a humanlike continuum of good and evil and live in a civilization fairly similar to humanity's in real life. The protagonists are unicorn police officers.
  • Kaijumax: Sprinkles the Dragicorn resembles a giant bipedal unicorn more than anything else. His horn does have magical properties, but, instead of purifying water or curing poison, a tattoo made with his horn causes the one tattooed to have trippy visions that Sprinkles insists are caused by magic, not drugs.
  • Loki: Agent of Asgard: Loki turns into a unicorn for one panel after being Inverted. And as a side-note, per the rules of Loki's shapeshifting, they can only turn into "themselves" (i.e., a species they resemble, so they can turn into a fox, but not a fly).
  • Men in Black, issue 2: A form of a unicorn is briefly shown at the HQ of the titular organization.
  • Princess Ugg: The unicorn Aurora plays a fairly important part as Julifer's Cool Horse. Julifer refusing to break her and treating her as if she's being obedient when she's not leads to Aurora becoming mean and overly-spirited, to the point when after she escapes Princess Ulga goes a bit overboard in recapturing her (leaving her hogtied over the stable beams) which leaves Aurora too timid instead of too spirited.
  • Rat Queens: Unicorns appearn in the Swamp Romp Special. Given the nature of the book, it should come as no surprise that while they look beautiful they're actually vicious predators that spread a disease that causes insanity followed by death.
  • Valérian: Laureline gets turned into one in the first story. She could talk and read minds in this form.
  • Xanadu (Vicky Wyman): Empress Alicia and her late father Alynrudd are anthropomorphic unicorns. However, the former playfully defies the creature's usual association with purity, but are in keeping with the early association with ferocity as they both have personally led armies into battle.

    Comic Strips 
  • Mutts: A unicorn appears in one strip to inspire a comment about you don't see those every day.
  • My Cage: Kenny calls himself one, but he's rather clearly a horse with a nail stuck in his forehead.
  • The Far Side: One strip has the two unicorns aboard The Ark eaten by the lions, whereupon Noah decides to confine all carnivores to their own deck from now on.
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A unicorn is the strip's deuteragonist. She's Medieval-style, with a lion tail and cloven hooves; she's also capable of speech (and somewhat sarcastic), has a '''Shield of Boringness''', can send text messages with her horn, and can grant wishes, albeit only "realistic" ones like being a little girl's best friend.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Unicorns in fairy tales is a — err — Dead Unicorn Trope. However, one does feature in The Brave Little Tailor, who must catch a dangerous unicorn. He gets it to charge a tree by standing in front of it and jumping aside when the unicorn charges him, leaving it good and stuck.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: They exist, as there's at least one circus with one. They also are implied to exist in the Shining Concord Empire, when it's discussed about it being host to a high-magic area:
    Can't have the silly fairies get all high on magic and fly into trees or stab themselves on a unicorn or something.
  • The Elements of Friendship: In contrast to the horse-with-horns depiction from the original show, unicorns are modeled after Medieval heraldry, with lion tails, cloven hooves, long fetlocks, and beards.
  • Forum of Thrones: Mace Crowl owns and rides a unicorn.
  • Hunting the Unicorn: Unicorns are frequently thought of as sweet, helpless, and pure, and this is why Blaine's dreams involve Kurt turning into one or vice versa. However, the author compares Kurt to the medieval unicorn, which is a symbol of pure wildness.
  • Ignorance and Knowledge: Cameron's young niece Alexandra loves unicorns and Cameron gives her a toy unicorn as a present.
  • If Wishes Were Ponies: Unicorns from Earth are animals, and cannot speak or channel magic, while the ones from Equestria are sapient, magic-using beings and one of the three primary tribes of ponies.
  • Pokémon Uranium: Minicorn is a Fairy-type based on the medieval image of deer-legged, lion-tailed unicorns with curving horns. Its evolution Kiricorn is a Kirin, and its own evolution Oblivicorn is a dark version of the former.
  • The Palaververse: Wedding March: In a version of the game Clue, Grievous Harm with a Body could be committed by the use of "a very small and exceptionally pointy unicorn".
  • Principal Celestia Hunts the Undead: The unicorns of Earth and Equestria are altogether different beasts. Equestrian unicorns are fairly small, large-eyed, spellcasting beings of similar emotional and intelligent scope as humans. Earth unicorns are much larger, big enough that a reclining specimens would, with its head raised, look a tall human in the eyes. Their horns, when ground into powder and consumed, can delay death for seven years; this has led to them being hunted mercilessly, so that a single living specimen remains.

    Films — Animation 
  • El Arca: A unicorn shows up too late to board Noah's Ark, and consequently drowns in the global flood.
  • The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland: Alice saves a foal, thus passing at least part of the Princess Test.
  • Despicable Me: Agnes is obsessed with unicorns, and has a plush unicorn that she won at a carnival game in the first movie. In Despicable Me 3, she hears about a real one and tries to capture it. She finds a goat kid with a missing horn instead, which she still insists is the real thing.
  • Fantasia:
    • A unicorn can be seen among various mythical creatures (the others being a dragon and a gryphon) that were mocking the animals that were boarding Noah's Ark, which presumably drowned in the flood.
    • Unicorn foals appear on the "Pastoral Symphony" segment, and Bacchus rides a unicorn-donkey hybrid named Jackhus.
  • The Last Unicorn centers around one unicorn's quest to find the rest of her kind. On the way, she is turned into a human.
  • The LEGO Movie: The leader of "Cloudcuckooland" (yes, just as it sounds) is Uni-Kitty, part cat, part unicorn, who is always, always cheerful (it's required in the job description). Something very "disturbed" appears when she finally cracks.
  • Shrek: A unicorn is among the fairytale creatures who got banished to Shrek's swamp.
  • Toy Story 3: Buttercup is a surprisingly sarcastic unicorn Living Toy.
  • In Turning Red, a sticker of a unicorn is featured on Mei's flute case as well as on the cellphones of some of her female classmates. Mei also draws herself and Devon riding on a unicorn.
  • Unicorn Wars has unicorns as the antagonists.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Blade Runner: In the director's cut, Deckard has a dream of a unicorn, then receives an origami unicorn from Edward James Olmos: Symbolism, and a hint that Deckerd is himself a replicant.
  • The Cabin in the Woods: A Unicorn is one of the hundreds of creatures stored under the facility to potentially be set upon the heroes. It's eventually seen stabbing a man with its horn. Fridge Brilliance will remind us that it makes perfect sense since only a virgin female can tame one.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Peter is shown riding a unicorn into battle, a detail that did not occur in the book. (Unicorn-riding does happen, bu later.)
  • Forbidden Planet explicitly relates to Altaira and a docile tiger to the legendary virgin and unicorn.
  • Legend (1985): The Big Bad shows just how evil he is by ordering a unicorn's horn to be cut off, which causes the world to freeze over.
  • Nightbooks: A past victim of the apartment was lured inside with one. Alex and Yazmin later encounter one in the forest near the gingerbread house, which Natacha, who was the unicorn girl, created with the witch's power.
  • Voyage of the Unicorn: The crew of The Unicorn must find the real thing, in order to use its tears to restore a fellow shipmate who has been turned to stone. In an interesting variation, the unicorn is portrayed as black with a gold horn. The only two characters who ever ride it are young (and therefore presumably virgin) girls.

  • Choose Your Own Adventure book "The Magic of the Unicorn", set in XVI century France, turns around your character looking for an unicorn to use its horn to purify a well. Of course, given the type of book it is, you can find instead a very bad fate, or worse.

  • Piers Anthony:
    • Apprentice Adept heavily features unicorns. He goes for the "horse with a horn" image, but his unicorns can shapeshift into human and other forms, play music on their horns (and use hoofbeats for percussion), dissipate body heat by breathing fire, perform crazy acrobatics, and are magic-resistant to the point where if a herd of them stand in a circle, no spells can be cast within. Unicorn Neysa also demonstrates her Living Lie Detector powers by impaling Stile with her horn — since he wasn't using deceit, he wasn't harmed. Stile talks with a male unicorn (who's in human form at the moment) about various things, such as unicorn stallions not being able to breed unless they're in charge of the herd. But when his mentions the myths of a virgin's power over a unicorn stallion, the unicorn laughs and says he wouldn't put his head in a young woman's lap. (Dammit, Piers.)
    • Xanth has a female character who can summon any kind of horse. However, after she gets to know her husband, she can no longer summon unicorns.
  • Peter S. Beagle:
    • The Last Unicorn revolves rather heavily around this. They do not really look like horned horses (they have cloven feet, lion-tails, and (possibly?) deep blue eyes), and they are immortal. One side effect of the title character's presence on her home is that it is somewhat protected from the effects of the passage of time. Their sense of right and wrong is also very different from ours.
    • "Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros" where the talking rhinoceros maintains it is a unicorn. The professor, of course, says it's merely a talking rhinoceros. This is based on how, historically, many exotic animals from Africa were likely mistaken for unicorns.
  • Mercedes Lackey:
    • In the Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series, unicorns are beautiful creatures attracted to virgins of the opposite sex. They've also got the brains and personality of a rather annoying lap dog. They're also very protective of virgins. And they lisp. The fifth book gets into a little more detail about their uses, dead or alive. Also, the complete lack of brains and personality is due to being in the presence of a virgin. Otherwise, they do exhibit some sense. There's a bit in Fortune's Fool where three female unicorns come rushing to protect the virgin male hero (Don't say it so loudly!) from a female ghost — but then it turns out the ghost is a virgin, too. And then a male unicorn shows up, intent on protecting the ghost, because she's a virgin female, after all...
      "No problem.... this is a creature of darkness!"
      "But..." the hesitant one said, as she dropped her head to sniff at the water. "A virgin creature of darkness..."
      "I'm sure there are virgin creatures of darkness all the time," the leader retorted, stamping her forehoof.
    • In the The Halfblood Chronicles series, co-written with Andre Norton, "alicorns" are ferocious predators that were created to be war steeds but were too stupid and aggressive to use. So of course, their creators released them into the wild. A pair of elves on the run find that the one who can make small modifications to animals can also make them rideable, but they're not to be trusted.
    • Lackey co-wrote The Obsidian Trilogy with James Mallory, in which unicorns are pony-sized, cloven-hooved, silky-furred, not quite like any other animal, and almost every one of them is a Deadpan Snarker. They have to adjust themselves to be in the vicinity of nonvirgins, and demons can't abide their touch. The protagonist summons one to carry him to safety, and they're bound together for a year and a day. The unicorn will castrate him if he breaks his vow of chastity within that time, and the conditions are somewhat more stringent than merely being celibate.
    • In The Fire Rose, Unicorns are Elementals of Spirit, and the physical embodiment of Knowledge, Purity, and Wisdom. When they choose to answer a summons (which requires a virgin to carry out the request), they can take on various forms, such as how medieval artists depicted them, as a young boy or girl in white robes, as a burning bush, or as a white bird. The heroine has to summon one, and unfortunately all she sees is a white, blurry shape, since she can't wear her glasses during the ritual and she's Blind Without 'Em. The voice is described as "bell-clear, sweet, silvery, and sexless".

  • Acorna Series is a sci-fi take. A trio of asteroid miners find a Unicorn Person baby in an escape pod; she goes from a baby with a vocabulary of three words to an adolescent in the space of two years. Much is made of how attractive she is. Her horn purifies water and air and heals wounds, she is an obligatory vegetarian, and it turns out she's an alien. Much later, reunited with her people, it turns out that they are descended from the last unicorns from Earth and the Sufficiently Advanced Alien race that rescued them. There is also the interesting detail that unicorn people on their replacement homeworld have patterned skins with different colors, and being born in space or spending a certain amount of time offworld leads to being bleached silver-white.
  • Across the Green Grass Fields: A unicorn is the first animal Regan sees upon entering the Hooflands, to her delight. They're unearthly beautiful with deer-like heads, star-flecked black eyes, shining white fur, and golden hooves. They're also exceptionally stupid animals, kept as livestock for their milk and meat.
  • Alice in Wonderland: In Through the Looking Glass, Alice meets the Lion and the Unicorn — fighting for the crown — and the unicorn is revealed not to have believed that such things as humans existed, regarding children as fabulous beasts much like we regard unicorns. He and Alice agree to believe in one another's existence.
    "This is a child!" Haigha replied eagerly, coming in front of Alice to introduce her, and spreading out both his hands toward her in an Anglo-Saxon attitude. "We only found it to-day. It's as large as life, and twice as natural!"
    "I always thought they were fabulous monsters!" said the Unicorn. "Is it alive?"
    "It can talk," said Haigha, solemnly,
    The Unicorn looked dreamily at Alice, and said "Talk, child."
    Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: "Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too! I never saw one alive before!"
    "Well, now that we have seen each other," said the Unicorn, "if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?"

  • Book of Imaginary Beings: The unicorn has been known since the time of the Greek writer Ctesias, who reported it as wild ass with a white coat, a purple head, blue eyes and a pointed horn that is white at its base, black in the middle and with a red tip. Pliny described it as a horse with the tail of a boar, the feet of an elephant, the head of a stag and black horn three feet long. In modern depictions it is typically white, with legs like an antelope's and a beard like a goat's. It's often described as a fierce creature impossible to capture alive, which can kill an elephant with one strike of its horn and which is a mortal enemy of lions. It can be caught and rendered tame by a virgin maiden, which according to Leonardo da Vinci is due to the unicorn's lust overpowering its fierceness.
  • Demythification in En busca del unicornio ("In search of the unicorn") by Juan Eslava Galán. A Spanish expedition travels to Africa in the mid-15th century to find a unicorn for King Henry IV of Castile; they expect it to be as in the legends, but are disappointed when they find a rhinoceros and realize that this is what the mythical beast actually was.

  • In Call Of The Whales, by Siobhan Parkinson, the family has a horn on the mantelpiece that the protagonist Tyke grows up believing is a unicorn's. When he's part of a narwhal hunt and the hunters cut off the horns, he has an Innocence Lost moment as he realises that's what's really hanging on the wall.
  • In The Chronicles of Amber, the Unicorn (the one depicted on the Amber family crest) is the mother of Oberon, though this fact is not common knowledge. Corwin only finds out because Dworkin, Oberon's father and therefore Corwin's grandfather (which he finds out during the same conversation) casually refers to it under the mistaken impression that Corwin is a shapeshifted Oberon and therefore already knows. No explanation is ever given for where the unicorn came from or if there's more than one, though the virginity trope seems to be decidedly not in play.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia, unicorns are otherwise normal white horses with tricolor horns. They also speak, and it's mentioned at one point that they have slightly sloping backs, whereas horses' backs are flat, which makes them harder to sit on. They only allow people to ride them as a sign of great respect or in emergencies. King Tirian's best friend in The Last Battle is a unicorn named Jewel.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, rathorns (pronounced rath-orn, not rat-horn) are somewhat unicorn-like, in that they are horned equines. However, they are carnivorous, with fangs and sharp dew-claws, and ivory armor that covers their head, neck, chest and forelegs. Their eyes are red, and they are very violent and vicious, to the degree of being notorious for man-eating.

  • Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy? briefly mentions unicorns as a list of the magical creatures that apparently used to be around.
  • Discworld:
    • Unicorns, like the fairies, adhere to the more classical myths of vicious supernatural creatures (though they are still subject to Virgin Power). As in Real Life, people have misremembered unicorns and fairies as cutesy magical pals for little girls.
    • In Guards! Guards!, a group of professional monster hunters are conversing about their previous successes. One talks about the difficulty of capturing unicorns and the need to use virgins, followed by an old joke:
      I thought they were quite rare these days.
      Yep, and the unicorns are hard to find too.
  • Dracopedia: Unicorns are depicted in Dracopedia: The Bestiary. While pretty standard in appearance, these denizens of European woodlands are highly territorial and extremely ferocious when cornered or provoked. Hunters frequently pursued them for their horns, believing they had magical properties.
  • Dragonlance: The Forestmaster turns out to be a unicorn; she speaks to the party, provides them with food and instructs several pegasi to serve as temporary mounts for them, and appears to be at least somewhat aware of the ultimate fate of at least one person there.
  • The Dream of Perpetual Motion. Prospero Taligent tells his daughter Miranda that she can have anything she wants for her tenth birthday. She asks for a unicorn and (as her father is an expert in building robots) asks for a flesh-and-blood "real" unicorn. She gets it. Later in the book we discover Miranda was Forced to Watch as her father punched a hole (without anesthetic) in the skull of a white horse and inserted an ivory horn, just to teach her that every miracle has its price. Prospero is also fixated on his daughter's virginity and when he realises She Is All Grown Up it doesn't end well.

  • In Elidor, by Alan Garner, the four children are instructed to track down the unicorn Findhorn.
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles: Unicorns, which are basically horned horses that speak and seem to be very narcissistic, appear from time to time.

  • The Faerie Queene: Unicorns are mentioned near the end of Book II amongst a school of sea monsters that assault Guyon's ship, alongside the likes of the Hydra. This depiction owes a lot to the animalistic description of unicorns (or "monoceroses") in the writings of Pliny the Elder.
  • The Firebringer Trilogy, which has unicorns as protagonists, is made of this trope. The unicorns as a species have considered themselves at war with gryphons and wyverns for the past four centuries. Their society is rigidly controlled, and it is believed that any unicorn who leaves or is exiled will turn into a horse. This turns out not to be true, of course... in fact, it's revealed that drinking from a magical pond will change a horse into a unicorn.
  • Forest Kingdom: Book 1 (Blue Moon Rising) features Prince Rupert's unicorn steed, Breeze, who was captured when young and sold as a slave. He's freed by Rupert about halfway through, but opts to stay with his human friend to fight the demonic invaders.

  • In Garrett, P.I., unicorns are carnivorous pack hunters who are smart enough to breed and train hunting dogs.
  • In Grailblazers by Tom Holt, the heroes at one point have to find a unicorn in order to use it as bait to capture a virgin. It turns out that modern unicorns are scruffy and unpleasant feral critters.

  • Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: The "Hard-Boiled Wonderland" segments has the protagonist encounter a unicorn skull, while "The End of the World" segments has the protagonist read old dreams from a unicorn skull. There are also unicorn-like creatures that reside outside the Town.
  • Harry Potter unicorns are just about the least threatening thing you'll find in the Forbidden Forest. The foals are golden, but they turn silver when they're about two, and of course white as adults. Hagrid mentions that adult unicorns don't like boys, but foals don't mind them. They're described as being "pure", and to kill one and drink its blood (which the movies portray as silver, resembling mercury) will save your life from anything, but the act is so evil that you are doomed to 'a half life... a cursed life.' Unknown what that actually meant. Unicorn parts have other uses without the drawback as they don't require killing unicorn to get them. For example, the hairs are used for wand cores, as well as rope. You can also apparently get a bit of horn without killing the unicorn, as there are no qualms about using unicorn horn in potions.

  • Imagine Someday: Anu the unicorn is a major character. He has cloven hooves and is described as more closely resembling a deer than a horse. As a matter of fact, he dislikes horses tremendously.

  • Joe Ledger: In The Dragon Factory, the second novel, the discovery of a video of an apparently real unicorn being hunted for sport is the first indication that someone has invented a potentially dangerous form of genetic engineering.
  • Journey to Chaos Unicorns are revered by medical mages like Nolien because they are natural healers. Their horns, for instance, could purify tainted water. In Mana Mutation Menace, he mutates into a brand new breed of unicorn that has bird-like talons in addition to hooves, a single useless wing, and patches of scales. Given that he becomes a monster unicorn, he is not gentle, unless he is around his Love Interest, Tiza.

  • The Laundry Files: Charlie Stross has an Eldritch Abomination interpretation of unicorns in Equoid. The title refers to how they resemble equine horses but aren't, the same way "humanoid" compares to "human". The spiral horn and the vicious carnivorous horse-thing are separate organisms, but males and females of the same species, and when they mate and merge into a horned horse-thing (the way male anglerfish fuse themselves to females). The result is something far worse than either, and far more intelligent. A young girl is mind-controlled and used as a lure by the creature, rather than being used to lure the unicorn (virginity is apparently not a requirement).

  • Mediochre Q Seth Series: Unicorns are implied to exist. In the first book, some bad guys set a trap by pretending to be unicorn hunters.
  • Moongobble and Me: A traditional one makes a brief appearance in book 3. Edward thinks it's "the most beautiful thing I had ever seen".
  • Myth Adventures: Quite to the chagrin of Skeeve, unicorns in the worlds of the series are not only partial to virgins, but also attracted by them and will follow them even across dimensions. Of course, Skeeve's special unicorn friend tends to show up mostly when he's bragging about his prowess...

  • Nerdycorn: The vast majority of the characters in the book are unicorns that can walk on their hind hooves, including Fern. The exceptions are Fern's robot, and a goose.

  • Ology Series: Monsterology describes unicorns as white, one-horned equines that are docile around girls but nervous and agitated by boys. They are mortal enemies of lions, which when fighting unicorns try to do so close to a tree, at which point they dodge and feint until the unicorn gets its horn stuck in the tree and becomes a sitting duck.
    • Four variants exist: Arabian and Indian unicorns are the traditional lithe, graceful type, being distinguished by the Arabian variant's longer mane and short beard; Sumatran and Serican unicorns are squat, bulky, piglike animals with small horns on their foreheads. Serican unicorns even have small tusks.
    • A phylogenetic tree in the book's introduction shows both the Arabic-Indian species and the Sumatran-Serican species as having evolved from a short-horned, prehistoric unicorn named Plinoceros, itself descended from the real-life prehistoric horse Miohippus and named after Pliny the Elder.
  • The Once and Future King: In the second book, The Queen of Air and Darkness, Gawaine and his brothers Agravaine, Gaheris and Gareth use the kitchen maid Meg as bait for a unicorn, tying her pigtails round a heather root. It ends... badly.
  • The Orphan's Tales: The third book introduces a unicorn, which tells its tale, "A Tale of Harm". The tale relates how unicorns are savage and destructive, and are only attracted to innocence because it is their opposite. This particular unicorn was lured into a trap by a virgin boy — who stole its horn with a calm smile, having now completed his collection of poisons and antidotes. Subverting Incorruptible Pure Pureness is a big part of The Orphan's Tales ' MO.

  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: They seem to exist, in the game's world, as Gwen thinks about them when she hears deer.
  • In Prospero's Daughter, the Lady Miranda serves is a unicorn, Miranda keeps unicorn pets, and one historical band of evil-doers hunted unicorns.

  • In Rampant, by Diana Peterfreund, unicorns are stone-cold killers with poisonous horns, and only virgin descendants of Alexander the Great can kill them.
  • The Reluctant King: In The Unbeheaded King, Jorian and Karadur runs into a wild Unicorn, which is, essentially, a giant woolly rhino with a misplaced horn and a very bad temper, forcing them to run up a tree.
  • Return to Neverend: The unicorns are the guardians of Neverend. They have the ability to conjure/control fire, and one doesn't need to be a virgin in order to ride one (although Sage seemed awfully happy to meet one).
  • Rogues of the Republic: Unicorns are shapeshifting magical parasites with mind control powers. And yes, they really like virgins... but virgins don't stay that way for long around them.

  • the secret lives of Princesses: Unicorns are only seen by princesses.
  • The Theodore Sturgeon short story The Silken-Swift plays with this: there are two women in the story — one is spiritually and physically virginal, and the other is a physical virgin but a total bitch. The total bitch torments and temporarily blinds the male protagonist. The other, nice woman comes upon him and he — thinking this is the bitch — rapes her. Guess who the unicorn approaches.
  • In Sir Apropos of Nothing, Apropos and Princess Entipy come across an entire herd of unicorns. Since Apropos and Entipy are half-siblings, the unicorns don't take Entipy's sexual advances toward Apropos very well.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Unicorns are described as shaggy goat-like animals, and like most magical creatures their numbers are in decline. In modern times they're only found on the island of Skagos, although it's implied some survive in the far east on the island of Ibben. In A Dance with Dragons, Jon has a wolf vision of Shaggydog killing a unicorn on Skagos. According to The World of Ice & Fire, they are separate from narwhals, and dishonest traders sometimes pass off narwhal tusks as unicorn horns for profit.
  • Spellsinger has a minor subversion: although the male unicorn character is drawn to human virgins and somewhat protective of them, he's both gay and mainly interested in other equines (although he implies that he'd make an exception for Mudge the otter), so attempting to distract him with virgin human females simply doesn't work.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles: In the third book, the siblings come across a unicorn that is portrayed in the illustrations as a strange goat-like creature. It grants Mallory a vision of one of its fellows being hunted in the typical way (lured by a young girl). When animal-lover Simon acts peeved that the unicorn seems more interested in Mallory than himself, she points out that it's because she's a girl.
  • Stardust contains a unicorn. They, like Yvaine, are the Moon's children.
  • Summer Knight, the fourth in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, features a creepy, almost H.R. Giger-esque entity Harry believes is a Unseelie unicorn that's so aggressive, it could give Pliny's unicorn a run for its money. It's described as having a mane like rotted cobwebs, and instead of fur it has a green-black, chitinous carapace, plates of which completely cover its eyes. Its horn is wickedly pointed, its spirals are serrated and stained, and it has a second set of ram-like horns. A typical fairytale unicorn this is not. It's also not a unicorn at all, but a centaur in magical disguise.
  • In Sweet Pickles, there are twenty-six characters each with an Alliterative Name representing a letter of the English alphabet. One of these characters is named "Unique Unicorn".

  • In Terra Magica, Mandicardo and Calypgia encounter a monocerous (unicorn) that adheres to Pliny the Elder's description, being very similar to a rhinoceros. It's still tameable by a virgin, though.
  • In Thieves' World, one of the major social crossroads and Truce Zones of Sanctuary is the Vulgar Unicorn, a tavern with a mascot whose exact description varies, but can best summarized as horny in two senses. In one of the tales, via an ill-advised act of drunken magic said mascot is unintentionally brought to life as an avatar of the city's darkest aspects, at which point it rampages through the streets as strong example of the "corrupted and violent" variety of unicorn.
  • In Three Hearts and Three Lions, Alianora has tamed a unicorn for a while.
  • Thursday Next: In The Well of Lost Plots, Perkins complains of how many unicorns careless writers of fantasy produce, which he has to retrieve when unpublished stories are broken down for scrap. Consequently, his Fantastic Nature Reserve of fictional beasts is filled with them. Thursday suggests cutting off their horns and recycling them in stories with horses; Perkins isn't amused.
    A unicorn isn't for page twenty-six, it's for eternity.
  • Tortall Universe: They never have a major appearance, but there are both regular and "killer" unicorns, the latter of which have claws and fangs and are sometimes a threat to people. Tortall: A Spy's Guide goes into a bit more detail, mentioning that they shed outer casings of their horns, as cats shed fragments of claws, which have special properties, and that they love and protect children, who are sometimes used as virgins are in some media as bait to hunt them. Even killer unicorns, while they don't protect children, won't harm them and prefer to leave the area.
    • The most skilled of the Shang warriors take the names of magical creatures; there's a short story in Tortall and Other Lands about the girl who eventually becomes the Shang Unicorn.
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: Unicorns are rare sights in Fantasyland — each one met professes to be the very last. Their horns are much more common, and can be used both as healing items and as magic wands.

  • Unicorns of Balinor: Unicorns are horses with horns, but Celestial unicorns are immortal and only they and the Royal unicorns possess magic. They also come in literally every color of the rainbow — except shadow unicorns, which are completely black and red-eyed. Notably, the only pure white unicorn is the Old Mare of the Mountain (possibly the first unicorn to exist).
  • The Unicorn Chronicles: The Virgin Power part is never explicitly mentioned, but unicorns are still instinctively drawn to "maidens".
  • Unicorn U, by Esther Friesner, has Fluffy (it means "Immortal Shining Spear of Light that Brings Destruction Unto Her Enemies," so laugh at your own risk). She has a bright pink mane and is excessively cute until she's returned to her true form—less "cute" and more "so beautiful as to beggar description" at the end. She's also temperamental, foulmouthed, and snarky.
  • Unicorn Western: Edward is a talking unicorn that his rider Clint uses.

  • Villains by Necessity: The villains encounter a male unicorn which instantly attacks them. He's muscular, tough and very hammy in his speech. They manage to trap him when his horn gets stuck in a tree trunk when he's dodged and Kaylana (a druid) makes the wood grow into place, keeping the beast in place (to his rage).

  • Kim Newman's Warhammer novella "Unicorn Ivory", collected in the book Genevieve Undead, has a rather darker depiction of unicorns than the current lore described in the "Tabletop Games" section. In this story, they are vicious, predatory animals with a matriarchal social structure, herds consisting of a single dominant female with a harem of males. They are hunted for their ivory, but only the females' horn can be taken as a trophy as the bodies of males decompose with extreme speed after death.
  • In War of the Dreaming there were only two unicorns in existence and their job was to guard the Tree of Life. The male is killed by Azrael when he steals one of the fruits. Their offspring are not other unicorns but dreamcolts
  • Waste of Space: Kira hacks Roddy's alien video game so Violet can crash it, riding in on a flying unicorn.

  • Xanadu (Storyverse): One story briefly mentions a unicorn penned outside Xanadu Hotel alongside other animals. Another character is turned into a unicorn himself, with his mind largely being subsumed by the creature's new consciousness.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ally McBeal: In one episode, Ally defends a client who was fired for claiming to have seen a unicorn. During the episode it's revealed that she saw one as a child also at the end she sees one. It's implied that unlike most of her visions this one might be real.
  • Battlestar Galactica (1978): One episode has unicorns being used as mounts. No indication is given as to whether or not they're sapient.
  • In the Charmed (1998) episode "The Day the Magic Died", the Elders gave Wyatt a unicorn for his first birthday. The horn is supposedly made up entirely of solid magic, which comes in very useful when the sisters lose their powers.
    Phoebe: How the hell are we supposed to baby-proof that horn?
  • Doctor Who: The Doctor Jamie and Zoe encounter a unicorn in "The Mind Robber". It attacks them on sight.
  • Good Omens (2019): A scene at Noah's Ark shows that unicorns originally existed before the flood, but Noah lost one, so there was no chance of them breeding back up to stable numbers again.
    Crowley: Oi, Shem! Your unicorn's run off! [beat] Nah, it's gone now. But you've still got the other one.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze had a unicorn themed monster, the Monoceros Zodiarts (Greek for unicorn and the name of the constellation the particular monster was based off).
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: John Oliver brings out two guys dressed up as a unicorn (Scotland's national animal) while trying to woo Scotland back to remaining part of the United Kingdom in his segment talking about the Scottish independence referendum.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: In "The Virgin Gary", a unicorn at Woodstock is the cause of the end of the hippie movement. It's revealed to actually be a demon using a glamour to appear harmless and likes to nosh on human hearts. It also shoot a rainbow "musk" out of its horn which has hallucinogenic effects.
  • Lost Girl: When Bo is about to confront the Mesmer Vex, Trick gives her a sword he claims is made from unicorn horn. Bo chuckles before asking if he's serious. Whether he is or not, using it lets her negate his powers.
    • Towards the end of the series, Kenzi is estactic to learn that the horse she's currently riding is the last unicorn in existence, albeit one whose horn had been cut off by poachers. Unlike most depicitions of unicorns, this one is small and spotted. Its also a Gasshole.
  • In Merlin (2008), one episode, "The Labyrinth of Gedref", has Prince Arthur hunting down and killing a unicorn. Although at first praised by Camelot (where the law and common belief is that all magic is evil and dangerous), his act causes the kingdom to be cursed, unless Arthur can prove he's pure of heart. He is, of course, as he's the future King Arthur.
  • Odd Squad: Unicorns are a very common oddity in the show. All of them originate from Cloud Town, which is powered by a magical orb (essentially functioning as a mythical equivalent of oil) and is ruled by a unicorn king that gives fish and chips to those that visit (although one unicorn, seen in "How to Interrogate a Unicorn", resides in Far-far-nia). They can also grant wishes to those that do favors for them. Some unicorns, such as the aforementioned king, can also speak coherent English. On the other, more morbid side of the coin, however, agents have been known to eat unicorns, and also drink their tears in addition to using them for curing odd diseases.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch:
    • Sabrina has to deliver a unicorn to Apollo when she has to fill in for Mercury the Messenger God. She is not pleased to find out that she must also curb it.
    • In another episode we learn that Zelda uses unicorn in her Halloween candy and it serves as a Chekhov's Gun when they try to solve a murder mystery since unicorn is poisonous to mortals.
  • Scrubs: J.D.'s girlishness is emphasized by his drawing of a unicorn on his journal in the episode "My Unicorn"
    J.D.: It's not a unicorn. It's a horse with a sword on its head that protects my hopes and dreams.
    Imaginary Unicorn: You know I'm a Unicorn, why can't you just say it?
  • The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: According to London Tipton, "everyone knows unicorns live in Australia."
  • Super Sentai / Power Rangers:

  • The eponymous theme song for the animated feature The Last Unicorn was performed by the band America.
  • Gloryhammer:
    • In Tales from the Kingdom of Fife, we get a subversion of the usual unicorn tropes: these unicorns are undead and dangerous, under the control of Evil Sorcerer Zargothrax. It is sung that
    The unicorns used to be good
    Now they are forced to serve Hell.
    — "The Unicorn Invasion of Dundee"
    • In the second album, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards, it's revealed that the "Questlords of Inverness" can travel through time, and are called "Unicorn Defenders, Unafraid to Die" in "Questlords of Inverness, ride to the Galactic Fortress."
    • The second album also mentions the Land of Unicorns, which lies beyond the river Tay, and is the home of Ralathor the Hermit. It is described as the last place where "Truth and Justice still rule".
    • On a meta level, the band is Scottish and the albums are set in a fantasy version of Scotland. The Unicorn is the national symbol of Scotland, so that some would appear somewhere was pretty much a given.
  • Ke$ha: In the video for "Blow", unicorns are bipedal, wear clothes bleed rainbows when shot and, since they're hanging with Ke$ha apparently have no hangups about the state of one's virginity.
  • Gian Carlo Menotti's The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore uses the three fantastic creatures to represent an artist and his works. Unicorn, the first, is pleasing and accessible but frivolous. Nevertheless, unicorns become a must-have accessory until the poet at the center of the piece appears with a gorgon instead, causing everyone to abandon their unicorns and acquire a gorgon.
  • The title creature of the novelty song "Purple People Eater" is described in the first verse as having "one long horn", although it's not stated specifically if it's on the creature's forehead.
  • "The Unicorn" by Shel Silverstein, sung by the Irish Rovers, is the tale of how the unicorns did not join the other animals aboard Noah's Ark and thus met their extinction in The Great Flood.
  • There's a Sufjan Stevens song titled "Christmas Unicorn"; the creature is meant to represent Christmas with its numerous contradictions (as a commercial / spiritual / pagan / Christian holiday).
  • Also apparently with no hangups about virginity is the incredibly badass-looking black unicorn ridden by Voltaire on the cover of the album "Riding a Black Unicorn Down the Side of an Erupting Volcano While Drinking from a Chalice Filled with the Laughter of Small Children" (and yes, that's the full title).

    Myths & Religion 
  • Alexander the Great's steed, Bucephalus, is often described as a unicorn or a karkadann, among other things.
  • In China, the Xiezhi, a goat-like unicorn with gold eyes and a gold horn, was a symbol of law and justice. The legend goes that it can always tell the guilty from the innocent, and it will attack the guilty parties as punishment. It could also finish arguments by pointing out the person that is wrong.
  • Another Chinese mythical creature, the qilin (also spelled chilin, kirin, ki-lin, ghilen and quilin), resembles a composite between a Chinese dragon and a European unicorn. Sometimes, anyway. It is also frequently depicted as a stockily-built creature with two antlers resembling a cross between a dragon and an ox (perhaps inspired by ceratopsians, as ancient Chinese alchemists are known to have had an interest in dinosaur fossils, believing them to be dragon bones). Another common variation which is especially popular in Japan is for them to be part giraffe, since a Chinese emperor once acquired two giraffes from Africa and told everybody they were qilins, and people took it to heart (kirin is still used for "giraffe" in Japanese). Virtually the only thing consistent about qilins are that they're a combination of a Chinese dragon and some kind of ungulate.
  • The King James version of The Bible mention the unicorn, leading some literalists to argue that they actually existed or even still do. Some people use it to mock the Bible, or rather said translation, but other Biblical scholars believe it's a mistranslation of the old Hebrew word re'em, which more likely referred to the aurochs: an ancestor of domestic cattle that went extinct and was soon forgotten about, leaving translators to insert a mythological beast in its place. Indeed, in the time of King James, "unicorn" was often used as another term for one-horned rhinos.
    • The Book of Daniel also mentions in Daniel 8:5 a goat with a horn between its eyes.
    • One of the coverings of the Tabernacle was made of tachash skins. The exact meaning is up for debate, but according to one legend, the tachash was a fifty-foot long, kosher animal with a single horn and multicolored skin. Most legends agree that it was miraculously created for the Tabernacle and no longer exists.
  • The karkadann from Persian mythology is an aggressive beast resembling a rhinoceros and often compared to the unicorn. A being from Mongolian folklore known as Indrik or Lord of Beasts has a similar appearance to it. Some believe they may have been inspired by sightings of surviving Elasmotherium rhinoceri (see Real Life).
  • The shadhavar from Arabic legends had a single horn with 42 hollow branches that played extremely beautiful music when the wind passed through them. Some accounts state that it was a ferocious carnivore that used the music to lure prey to their deaths, but that may be the result of confusion with the siranis, a more obscure creature with similar musical abilities.
  • Another Middle Eastern unicorn is the al-mi'raj, which is instead a rabbit with the horn of a unicorn and usually described as a literal Killer Rabbit. Think of it as the Arabian version of the jackalope.
  • The Invisible Pink Unicorn is the goddess of a parody religion, the parody being that it is impossible to disprove her as she is invisible, and that her followers have faith that she exists and is pink. She's a parody of all religious beliefs that can't be tested, and also a parody of deities with contradictory traits (such as simultaneous invisibility and pinkness).
  • In Celtic mythology and European folklore, the unicorn symbolizes both phallic sexuality and ritualistic sexual intercourse and its conversion into the forces of visualization
  • The khara (or "Persian Three-Legged Ass" as most English-language books call it, thanks to Jorge Luis Borges) has to rank as the weirdest version of the unicorn myth. Ancient texts from the Persian Empire describe it as a colossal one-horned monster resembling a donkey with six eyes and nine mouths. It stands in the middle of the ocean, smites the wicked, and commands all sea creatures. Yeah...
  • The Camahueto or "Chivato de mar" from Chilote mythology is said to resemble a bull or a calf with a small horn growing from its forehead and to have the body of an elephant seal.
  • The camphruch (or campchurch) is a more obscure mythical creature that is to a unicorn as the hippocampus is to a standard horse.
  • The Bicorn is a fiendish black horse with two curling goat-like horns from Medieval European works. Whilst originally it was a satirical creature said to feed on loyal, loving husbands, it has since evolved into the Evil Counterpart of the unicorn, symbolizing impurity and wickedness as the unicorn symbolizes purity and virtue.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Unicorns are intelligent, have magical powers (including the trademark ability to teleport once per day anywhere within their forest home, alongside healing) and the males have a goat-like beard and a very long mane. Celestial Chargers are unicorns from the Celestial Realms that have the power of clerics.
    • The list of alternate mounts for Paladins in "Defenders of the Faith" says only female Paladins can ride unicorns — this doesn't turn up in later editions.
    • The Healer class trades all of the armor, weapons, and combat spells of the cleric for improved healing ability and a unicorn companion.
    • In early editions, narwhals are explicitly the unicorn's marine counterpart rather than just a funny-looking whale.
    • 2nd edition D&D introduces a great variety of unicorn breeds — depending on which sources one uses, up to fifteen kinds.
    • Dragon #156 introduces a number of joke monsters; one of these, the unicow, is a type of black-and-white cattle with a single spiraling horn. They live in secluded grassy plains, have a language of their own (albeit one mostly used to discuss grass quality) and can be tamed by pure-of-heart, neutral maidens thereafter referred to as "milkmaids". It's not entirely clear, in-universe, why these creatures exist.
    • It rarely comes up, but unicorns in D&D are also technically chimeras; combination of multiple animals, as opposed to simply "horse with horn". Unicorns have the body of a horse, yes, but also the tail of a lion or boar, the beard of a goat, cloven hooves (which horses do not) and it does not gallop, rather trotting like a deer.
    • In addition to all of the above and in what refers to settings, the goddesses Ehlonna (from Greyhawk), Mielikki, and Lurue — the latter two from the Forgotten Realms — use the unicorn as their symbol and especially Lurue who is described as one — often winged — have a strong association with them.
    • Other unicorn-like monsters include the powerful ki-rin of Oriental legend, and the al mi'raj.
  • Earthdawn: Unicorns are vicious, dangerous monsters, whereas those in Shadowrun are benign Awakened horses with an extreme sensitivity to pollution. It's implied that the Horrors' influence corrupted the Fourth Age unicorns, while those of the Sixth Age are free of this taint. Shadowrun also has greater unicorns, a larger and stockier variant without the pollution allergy and possessing empathic powers. Regular unicorns live among regular horses and only breed with them; only about a third of their foals grow into unicorns, while some unicorns are born to horse parents. Greater unicorns instead live and breed amongst their own kind. Both versions are often hunted for their horns. There are also unicorn-like creatures Awakened from water buffalos and red deer; the former have chitinous armor, while the latter associate with regular deer like unicorns do with horses.
  • Exalted: Unicorns resemble pure white horses with cloven hooves, lion tails, featureless glowing blue eyes, and spiraling horns made out of opal. They're intelligent and capable of speech, and are supernaturally beautiful and entrancing to look upon. They're creatures of the Wyld, and are most often found guarding places of great beauty in the Middlemarches, but can survive outside of it and are sometimes found roaming Creation. They occasionally consent to take Fair Folk, Exalted or heroic mortals as allies, but sicken and die if kept captive against their will.
  • GURPS: GURPS Fantasy Bestiary describes a number of unicorn types.
    • The poh is an equine with a black tail, feline paws and a twisting, coiling horn in its forehead. Unlike horses or true unicorns, it's a fierce predator that hunts tigers and leopards — and will go after people if no better food is around.
    • The fantasy unicorn found in modern fiction resembles a white horse with a long mane and tai, tufts of hair around its hooves, and a long spiraling horn. They're intelligent creatures that can understand human language — rumor says they may also speak — and are fierce foes of evil. They can cast a number of spells, mostly focused on healing, purifying food and water, and neutralizing poison, but must touch their target with their horn to do so; they fight mostly by goring with their horns. They're rare and solitary beings who live in deep forests away from civilization, but may ally with very good-hearted people; even then, they only allow themselves to be ridden by children and female virgins.
    • The medieval unicorn, discussed separately, resembles a small horse or large goat, with a goatlike beard and a meter-long horn that is red at its base, white in the middle and red at the tip. They're simply animals and aren't magical — they cannot speak, understand languages or cast spells, although their horn can neutralize poison and be ground to make aphrodisiacs. They are solitary and very rare, and extremely fierce — they cannot be tamed, fight to the death when cornered, and are natural enemies of lions and elephants. The only way to subdue one is to present it with a female virgin; the unicorn will then lay its head on her lap and fall asleep, allowing it to be captured.
  • Palladium Fantasy: Unicorns, resembling horses with goat beards, leonine tails and cloven hooves, are natural passive telepaths capable of sensing whether other beings are of good or evil intent. Being by and large retiring and somewhat distrustful creatures, they shun contact with all but the most morally upright or innocent humanoids; they are particularly fond of children and youths, leading to the in-universe myth of their affinity for virgins. They are also stunningly long-lived — the typical unicorn can look forward to a lifespan of ten or so millennia.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Unicorns are snow-white horses with goatlike beards and a golden, spiraling horn in the middle of their foreheads. They're benevolent and heroic creatures, can cleanse poison with their magic and favor unspoiled woodlands as their homes.
    • Karkadanns resemble unicorns colored like oryx antelopes (or alternatively oryxes with a single unicorn-like horn), share their ability to purge other creatures of poison, and maintain the fierce and aggressive natures of unicorns from classical mythology. Some speculate In-Universe that karkadanns are a type of unicorn, but the karkadanns themselves find this an insulting thought.
  • Warhammer: Unicorns, which unusually enough for the thoroughly Dark Fantasy setting play most of the associations with purity and goodness entirely straight, are available as steeds for Wood Elf, Bretonnian and High Elf lords. They're especially common as the mounts of female mages, and are drawn to magic like moths to flames.

  • Transformers:
    • There have been dragons aplenty, the occasional unexplained griffin, and even an unreleased pegasus. It was inevitable that there would also be a unicorn.
    • Also, in defiance of our page info, while you should not mistake Unicron for unicorn, the band Lion made that exact mistake with their lyrics for the theme to The Transformers: The Movie.
  • WellieWishers: Emerson's redesigned outfit is themed on unicorns and includes a unicorn horn headband.

    Video Games 
  • 5D Chess With Multiverse Time Travel: The Unicorn piece, available in some board setups, is capable of triagonal movement in any three of the four axes of movement. It can move horizontally or vertically through space and time or diagonally across time or space, making it an advanced version of the Bishop despite its design being based on the Knight.
  • Age of Wonders : Unicorns are neutral and Life sphere summon creatures and occasionally mounts for elven units. Their most common trait is the Phase ability, a limited, once-per-battle teleportation ability.
  • Coryoon has two hostile unicorns as bosses of the first stage.
  • Chrono Cross features a rare Unicorn summon that increases the party's Magic Defense.
  • Crypt Worlds is typically about helping a "Unicorn Goddess" save the world.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition has the "Bog Unicorn" as a pre-order bonus. It's an undead horse with a sword through its skull.
  • Dragon City: The Unicorn Dragon is a rainbow-maned hybrid that can cure any disease and smells like cotton candy.
  • Dwarf Fortress: Unicorns are part of the fauna in good lands , and are occasionally ridden by elves. Their horns pack a mean punch if you get in a fight, but goods and food made from their remains can fetch a very nice price.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Unicorns occasionally pop up.
    • Unicorns themselves do not appear in Daggerfall, but their horns appear as rare, expensive ingredients, and in the main quest, a character is imprisoned by a cursed unicorn horn.
    • Oblivion features a unicorn, and you can actually ride it if your fame is high enough. It's not sapient, however, and Shadowmere makes a much better mount. Also very aggressive to anybody wielding a weapon, as it will attack anybody with a drawn weapon. Including you. It's a lot more efficient just to kill the thing and take its horn for a quest you'll get later.
    • The Skyrim creation Wild Horses introduces another unicorn and a quest to tame it. It also heavily implies that when you killed the unicorn in Oblivion, you killed the last unicorn in Tamriel (the Skyrim unicorn is theorized to have been brought forward in time by the Psijic Order).
  • In Eternity: The Last Unicorn, unicorns are enchanted creatures bestowed upon elves by their Goddess to grant them immortality, until they were stolen by the Dark Valkyries, save for the titular character Eternity who's stripped of it's magic after losing it's horn. The player is an elven warrior trying to restore Eternity's horn for most of the game.
  • Fantasy Quest: You meet unicorns in both games, luring them with carrots.
  • In Fate, dire unicorns can be battled in the Dungeon. Your pet can be transformed into one of these by feeding it the right power-ups, or into a regular unicorn (not otherwise seen in the game).
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Several games (V, VI, Tactics Advance, Tactics A2, the Chocobo series, and the spinoff-of-a-spinoff Crystal Defenders) feature a Unicorn summon that removes negative status effects from the party. Sometimes its called Kirin instead.
    • Ixion is usually presented as an evil-looking unicorn with a single antler-like horn. (Not always, though — in Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, it's just an evil-looking horse, without a horn)
    • Final Fantasy XIV offers several types of them as mounts.
  • In the Fire Emblem series, Falcoknights ride winged unicorns, although that could conceivably be part of the pegasus' armor. Which actually makes quite a bit of sense, since it effectively turns the pegasus into a living projectile.
  • Going Under: Metaphorically. The "Chasing unicorns" Loading Screen message for Fizzle.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]: The Electricorn Dream Eater is this with electricity powers, as the name implies.
  • King's Quest:
    • In King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella, the lead character must capture a unicorn for an evil sorceress. She must first obtain one of Cupid's arrows and a bridle to tame it, but the fact that she's a maiden is the only reason she can ride it.
    • King's Quest: Mask of Eternity has an interesting portrayal of a unicorn, in which Connor comes across an ugly creature at a pond. It turns out that it's a unicorn, but lost its beauty and power when it lost its horn.
  • Mo' Creatures: This Minecraft mod includes unicorns as a type of breedable horse made by using an essence of light on a nightmare. They float when falling to avoid fall damage and can charge at mobs for extra damage. You can also make a zombie unicorn with an Essence of Undead, which will rot into a skeletal unicorn over time.
  • Monster Hunter (2004) introduces the Kirin, a unicorn-like Elder Dragon with powerful electric attacks.
  • NetHack has unicorns of the standard horse variety, though they come in lawful, neutral, and chaotic forms. They also have a few extra quirks, like teleporting around, granting luck when given gems, and you can sacrifice an aligned unicorn to change your alignment to a new god.
  • In Overlord I, one of the enemies you have to kill are the bloodthirsty Unicorns. It was eating a dead corpse when you find it, so no regrets. Though regrets are for people who are not The Overlord! Gnarl, your Voice with an Internet Connection, hangs a lampshade on their frequency in fantasy works.
    Gnarl: Unicorns! Overrated pit-ponies!
  • Pokémon:
    • Rapidash is a unicorn on fire. Upon evolving from the hornless horse Pokémon Ponyta, it gains access to a number of horn-based moves. Galarian Ponyta have a horn — and a rainbow mane and tail — even before evolving. They're capable of healing poison, and are classified as the "Unique Horn Pokémon."
    • Keldeo, a Water/Fighting- type legendary Pokémon, is a cross of this and the Kelpie (another mythological horse), and is based off of d'Artagnan of The Three Musketeers. Odd things to mix to make a Pokémon, but it works.
    • Blitzle is a Electric-type zebra unicorn, with its "horn" being a fully functional extension of its mane. When it evolves into Zebstrika, it gains a second "horn," also made from its mane.
    • Pokémon Sword and Shield: One of the legendaries introduced in the Crown Tundra DLC is Glastrier, a pure white horse covered in ice, with a horn on its head similarly made of ice. Its appearance and wild personality seem to derive from the more traditional depictions of unicorns as violent creatures, instead of the Lighter and Softer modern variants. It's worth noting that the only region where you can find this mon, the Crown Tundra, is based on Scotland — and their national animal is the unicorn.
  • Pryzm: The main character and Big Bad of Chapter One: The Dark Unicorn are both unicorns. Instead of working with some Virgin Powered maiden, however, Pryzm has to work together with Karrok, a sarcastic old troll mage.
  • Red Dead Redemption's Undead Nightmare: The Unicorn is a mythical creature you can come across (in Mexico) and claim as a mount. It has cloven hooves and emits rainbows (when running) and butterflies (when idle). It also has unlimited stamina and very high health. Of course if it DOES die, the ragdoll transforms into an Eldritch Abomination that flies spastically around the map. But we're sure that is just a glitch. Or is it?
  • Robot Unicorn Attack seems to be a take of "unicorns are aggressive", yet also throws in a heaping helping of rainbows and sparkles.
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Both the unicorn and the bicorn have made multiple appearances. Unicorn is usually associated with the elements of Hama, but sometimes has an affinity to Zio instead or in addition, as well as a focus on buffs and curative powers. Bicorn tends to be a physically-orientated bruiser.
  • The Sims:
    • The Sims 3: In the Pet expansion, they added rare unicorns that you can catch by either being super nice to animals and having one come visit you, or by going to a sparkly rainbow that appears on the overmap and luring one. Virginity not required in either case.
    • MySims Kingdom: You first hear about unicorns when Princess Butter loses and King Roland wants to buy back her happiness with a pony. They're said to be very rare, but the king says he knows a couple of elves. Later, you meet said elves, and indeed bring them back... with The Power of Rock!
  • Suikoden II: Sigfried, who you can only recruit by bringing a maiden before him. His reaction to the resident Miss Yo-Yo Knickers and the Maidenly Vampire is hilarious.
  • Tales of Symphonia:
    • There's a horse-type unicorn with a few variations; it's telepathic, its horn can cure death, it can give up its horn at the cost of its life, and when a unicorn dies, a new one is born. It also follows the old only lets virgin women near it rule, leading to a funny scene where Raine notes she shouldn't bother trying to go near it, and Kratos doubts Sheena can. She can. Of course, given that Raine is hydrophobic and we don't really know much about her past, it's hard to say for sure whether she said that because she really isn't a pure maiden or if she was afraid to cross to the middle of the lake to meet the unicorn (or both).
    • A unicorn also appears in Tales of Phantasia, which takes place 4000 years after Symphonia. Arche's reasons for believing she can't approach it is more explicit than Raine's.
  • Team Fortress 2: Meet Mayor Balloonicorn of Pyroland! He's cute! He rides around on Pyro's shoulder! He... has an anger problem, is a chain smoker, his wife's cheating on him, and he's an alcoholic. Oh well, at least he's adorable. And now you can buy one of your very own!
  • Terraria: The Hallow biome spawns unicorns. They are your traditional horse-with-a-horn variety and are invariably hostile. Killing them for their horns is the only purpose they seem to have, at least until the 1.3 patch where they can drop Blessed Apples which give you the ability to ride an unicorn of your own.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds has The Unicorns of the Order of the Horn. They are keepers of Light Magic and do not partake in the fate of the world outside of The Woodlands. The one exception is Oleander, who is a Cultural Rebel, a somewhat violent fighter, and not only willingly uses and studies Dark Magic, but believes it can be used for good.
  • Total War: Warhammer: Unicorns are available as mounts for Bretonnian Prophetesses and Wood Elf Spellsingers. The Fay Enchantress, one of Bretonnia's unique characters, rides a unique unicorn named Silvaron.
  • Ultima VII: A unicorn named Lasher (of the horned horse type) is featured, and it has some interesting dialog. Because his herd leader refused the summoning of a wizard who in retaliation placed the Curse of Chastity upon them, making them unable to stand the presence of non-virgins. Lasher for one has had it with being used to ruin the reputations of women.
  • Valkyria Chronicles: The unicorn is the Principality of Gallia's national animal, which is seen decorated in its flag and military insignia. Its horn resembles the Valkyrur's lance, which denotes the Gallian royal family's connection to the Valkyrur or so they claim. In addition, the northwestern part of their country resembles an unicorn's head.
  • Viva Pińata: Chewnicorns are symbols of rarity, as they are very rare in the game. They don't represent any kind of purity since they don't get along with and will fight other horse-like pinatas. That said, they will heal any sick pinata, so there's that. Their encyclopedia entry also jokes that they can only be seen by innocent maidens.
  • Warcraft: Unicorns date back to Warcraft II, where they're featured as the emblem on Elven Destroyers. Actual appearances by unicorns are pretty rare, but still show up on Quel'thalas' old naval flag.
    • World of Warcraft had a few, but none referred to as unicorns, including the stripy Zhevras (actually a zebra analog) and the Quel'dorei Steeds.
    • Proper unicorns were added in Legion, which the nightborne refer to as 'monohorns'. They also have lion tails and goat beards like the traditional medieval unicorns, but crescent-shaped horns.
  • Wild ARMs: The Guardian of Life, Odoryuk, is usually portrayed as a unicorn (except for Wild ARMs 4 where he took the appearance of a snake)
  • Zoo Tycoon: Unicorns can be unlocked in the first game by naming a exhibit "Xanadu". Interestingly, the males are black and orange and the females white. They also sound exactly like the zebras. You could chalk it up to lazy programing, but they bothered to give the wild horses proper neighs...

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: The Sparklelord the unicorn has been transformed into a motorcycle with seemingly magical abilities. According to the unicorn, it was the closest approximation of his magnificence when he came to our world. Notably, the Sparklelord was the Radical Land's Sauron equivalent. The Doctor can ride him, which leads to uncomfortable questions when he's asked about how that can happen if unicorns only approach virgins that he dodges by saying that he doesn't like to address mature issues in the comic.
  • The Adventures of Gyno-Star features a story arc called "Factory Farms" in which the heroes discover that the Apple corporation is slaughtering unicorns, grinding their horns into powder and then using the unicorn powder to make their products so damn magical.
  • Axe Cop: Any creature can be a unicorn simply by obtaining a unicorn horn. Yes, that includes humans. And avocados.
  • Charby the Vampirate: A unicorn is used to pull the royal carriage of princess Ervain and her guard Ilex also rides it as his mount.
  • Cross Time Café sports several. Roy Callbeck is a cigar smoking electric guitar player. White Pony is the boyfriend of Florence Ambrose. Rounded out by Beth the White Guardian.
  • A book-only expansion to Digger tells us the story of a sculptor "commissioned" by a mad emperor, who had a forehead deformity and believed himself to be a unicorn, to create statues of unicorns and nothing else. The artist came to hate unicorns, and dreamed of creating a perfect statue of the god Ganesh, which he accomplished after the emperor tried to eat poison and died. The epitaph on his tombstone reads, "No unicorns in Heaven."
  • Dork Tower in alliance with a penumbra hulk
  • Drowtales also has odd unicorns.
  • El Goonish Shive has a unicorn show up at the end of the "Parable" storyline.
  • Exiern: Don't summon one by accident if you are an evil sorcerer. The unicorn's purity is able to defeat evil magic, and a tiara made of its hair will thwart any attempts at mind control. It also only allows protagonist, Tiffany, ride it and gets quite angry when Peonie tries. No one appears to have explained why this is to Tiffany, given her temper it is probably for the best.
  • Girl Genius: Lord Womble is a unicorn person. His appearance is presumably the result of an experiment.
  • Hooves of Death: The Unicorns are the only things standing between humanity and the hordes of the undead. They all have magic powers, are naturally Immune to the zombie plague, and have horns sharp enough to cut a zombie in two. Visually they take after classical unicorns, with equine heads on elk-like bodies, leonine tails, white coats and majestic manes (though the protagonist Glitter keeps hers in a fauxhawk), but unusually for the trope, every one of them is Covered in Scars from years of combat against the zombies.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! posits that cryptozoological creatures like to hang out together, so unicorns are the pets and steeds of Bigfeet. Since Bigfeet leave big obvious footprints, but unicorns leave none, they make the perfect mounts for a race that wants to remain hidden. The strip has also established that unicorns purr. The most notable unicorn in the strip is the giant mutant Kaiju unicorn Unigar.
  • Leif & Thorn: The steed of choice. Thorn's steed, Caiomhe, reacts badly to Leif, giving both of them different ideas about how he might be "impure."
  • Modest Medusa features a unicorn with a chainsaw for horn! He used to be a human who got trapped in Yeld, and eventually, due to the influence of the Prince, he slowly started losing his humanity and was slowly transforming into a monster. His former Hydra lover, Gorgon, had to transform him into a horse, and the Prince dubbed him the Knight of Chains, giving him his trademark chainsaw horn and permanently bounding him to Yeld in his servitude.
  • Mountain Time: The unicorn runs a mystical bar that specializes in Windex-based drinks.
  • The Order of the Stick: In one strip, after being disoriented by a spell, Belkar sticks a boot on his forehead and claims to be a unicorn. The Order also encountered a real unicorn in one of the book-only strips. Haley tries to pass herself off as a "maiden of virtue", and the unicorn falls over laughing.
  • Ozy and Millie: Llewellyn the dragon once had a crush on a unicorn when he was younger. She was way out of his league, though.
  • As The Perry Bible Fellowship shows us, one must never mock Unicorn Power.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal similarly implies unicorns are best left alone [1].
  • Skin Deep: Unicorns follow the classical model, with cloven hooves, flowing fetlocks, leonine tails and goatish beards. There are none present in the current setting, however, as they were hunted into extinction during the middle ages.
  • In Spare Keys for Strange Doors, there's an exotic-looking one.
  • Tales of the Questor sports a rather... prosaic version.
  • Unsounded: Based on traditional depictions of unicorns as a goat-like animal the monocorns are large goats with one centered horn. They're used as livestock and are basically just goats, though their blood has some strange properties.

    Web Original 
  • The Beauty Equals Goodness tropes that's usually associated with unicorns is completely subverted by the Bog Unicorn. Unlike the traditional beautiful unicorns, which are actually foul-tempered scavengers who lurk in dumps and cause itchy scratches with their horns, the bog unicorn is a creature pure of heart and noble in intent. It feeds only on the tenderest waterweeds while being careful not to step on anything and will go miles to cleanse fouled waters with their deformed horns. Even the accidental death of an ant or a snail will wrack it with guilt for days. The fact that their appearance makes it unlikely to attract virgins puts in practically in Woobie territory.
  • Charlie the Unicorn, as well as his tormentors Pink and Blue.
  • DeviantArt: Unicorns are ubiquitous enough that many artists use other animal templates beyond that of equine models. Behold! The unicorn antelope, yak and rhino.
  • The Dragon Wars Saga has all sorts of mythical beasts including unicorns. Unicorns like most creatures come in a variety of elemental affinities. Also they Cannot Tell a Lie and are Living Lie Detectors, they are thereore commonly used during discussions by individuals that do not trust each other to guarentee honesty.
  • Kid Time Storytime has Corny the unicorn.
  • Looming Gaia: Unicorns are the rarest animal species in Looming Gaia due to poaching. They look and act quite different from the typical fantasy unicorns though, with their skull heads and ability to rot anything their horn touches.
  • Neopets: The Uni is based on this and a Pegasus.
  • Roll To Dodge: Savral: Unicorns are a prominently featured race. While they have a typical unicorn appearance, they are anything but good or pure. Unicorns in Savral are infamous for trolling the players and mocking them at almost every opportunity. In their equestrian form, they’re capable of Teleport Spam, Mind Control, phasing through walls, and detaching their heads from the rest of their bodies. When they fuse themselves to various objects, they gain Lovecraftian Superpowers such as sprouting Combat Tentacles and launching fetuses at people, making them borderline Eldritch Abominations. All of these abilities make them nearly impossible to kill, much to the ire of the players.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time features the rainicorns, a race of rainbow-unicorn hybrids that fly around by refracting beams of light.
  • Camp Lazlo: When Lazlo manages to call a llama to camp and, in an effort to get rid of it, sticks an ice cream cone on its head and calls it a unicorn. Somehow, the Squirrel Scouts believe it.
  • Corn & Peg: The former of the two title characters is a unicorn, with his best friend being a Pegasus.
  • Dorg Van Dango: Jet Lazor is a unicorn whose entire body has magical qualities, though usually the focus is on his bodily fluids like tears and spit. He can also hypnotise others as well. Unfortunately he is also the Last of His Kind, something he does not like being brought up.
  • Dr. Dimensionpants has Phillip, a rather flamboyant, talking, intelligent unicorn who acts as the title character's mentor. And he's not alone; there is a whole dimension filled with unicorns.
  • Uni, the Team Pet from Dungeons & Dragons (1983) had the teleportation power of D&D unicorns (see above), but was too young to travel more than a few feet with it. She communicated in goat-like bleats, understood human language, and was smart enough to operate Presto's hat in a pinch.
  • Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Unicorns are kept at stables on the grounds of Foster's. Although they look the stereotype, they are actually tough dudes who don't take kindly to being considered cute and girly.
  • Freaktown: Taylor the Barbaricorn is an anthropomorphic unicorn barbarian who serves as the muscle for Princess Boo-Boo's projects in cutifying Freaktown.
  • In Gargoyles, the London Clan all resemble heraldic creatures, with their leader, Una, looking like a humanoid, winged unicorn. Ironically, her mate Leo looks like a lion.
  • Go Away, Unicorn! stars a little girl whose best friend is a chubby, well-meaning unicorn who always tries to help her with her problems.
  • Gravity Falls: Celestabellebethabelle, from "The Last Mabelcorn", seems to play with the stereotypical modern-day pure and innocent portrayal of the unicorn a bit: Mabel has to get some hair from a unicorn, but C-belle keeps insisting that she's isn't pure of heart enough to do it. This sends Mabel into an identity crisis, since goodness is sort of her thing. It turns out unicorns can't see into people's hearts anyway; they're just Jerkasses. Mabel and her friends punch them into submission and get the hair.
  • It's Pony: In the same episode name as this trope, Pony slips on a marshmallow that gets stuck to his head, making him believe he's magically transformed into a unicorn.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes: Twinkles the Terrible, who just happens to be an Omnicidal Maniac that no one takes seriously.
  • My Little Pony: A staple pony type in the franchise. The exact rules for how their powers work change from one incarnation of the franchise to the next.
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: All unicorns had a special power or unique magic trick in addition to limited teleportation called "winking".
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • Unicorn magic manifests as a colorful glow surrounding their horn and whatever object they're casting on, with the specific color varying between individuals. They all have an unique trick, such as Rarity's gem-finding spell or Shining Armor's magic shields, in addition to some basic magic like levitation, the extent of which depends on their personal skill and dedication. Twilight Sparkle, the primary heroine, is a student of magic whose special talent is magic, allowing her to theoretically learn all unicorn magic. Most unicorns have vastly less power and versatility — most show no magical talents beyond basic telekinesis. Physically speaking, they also tend towards lankier, long-legged and overall more horselike builds than other pony kinds do.
      • Friendship is Magic also has one of the rare cases of an Obviously Evil unicorn, King Sombra, a merciless tyrant who's been described as the pony equivalent of Sauron. The My Little Pony: FIENDship Is Magic comics have him as the long-lost prince of an entire race of Eldritch Abominations given a unicorn form, but given the season nine premiere ignoring the comics' portrayal of Sombra almost entirely it's debatable how much this holds in the show itself.
      • The show also has drastically rarer Winged Unicorns who tend to be royalty and near-godlike in their power. The ones known so far are Princess Celestia (whose power is to control the sun), Princess Luna (who controls the moon and dreams), Princess Mi Amore Cadenza, a.k.a. Cadance/Cadence (who has power over love), Flurry Heart (it's not yet known what she can do), and Twilight Sparkle herself, who was transformed into an alicorn and crowned a princess at the close of the third season, and was declared Princess of Friendship at the end of the fourth season.
      • There also exist Changelings, led by Queen Chrysalis, who are not ponies but whose true forms resemble zombie/insectoid unicorns with gnarled, hole-ridden hooves and insect wings. This changes when the Changelings reform under Thorax, which are brighter in color, do not have holes in them anymore (though are still bug-like), and larger "Changed-lings" have beetle-like pincers on top of their head in addition to the horn.
    • My Little Pony (Generation 5): Unicorns have horns marked with spiraling patterns and, in contrast to the pegasi and earth ponies' more modern cities, live in Arboreal Abodes within the forest of Bridlewood. They used to have magic in the same vein as their ancestors in the era of Friendship is Magic, but lost it when magic faded from the world and are very depressed about it. They're also highly superstitious and studiously avoid saying words they consider bad luck.
  • Even the three guardsdogs Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey, (known under the Peter Potamus cartoon umbrella) had a run-in with a unicorn, one with a detachable horn who skillfully fenced them all off.
  • The Real Ghostbusters had an episode called "A Hard Knight's Day" where the unicorns on the tapestries in The Cloisters came to life. They had solid hooves, fin-like manes and their horns were long, slender, slightly curved yet strong enough to turn aside a lance. Ray and Winston rode on them. (Winston mentioned having a girlfriend in another episode. Jury still out on Ray's virgin status.) Earlier in the ep, Peter describes unicorns as "ponies with candles growing out of their heads."
  • In Regular Show, unicorns are punky/gothy Ambiguously Gay party animals who use "bro" like punctuation and are attracted by the scent of Dude Time cologne. The only way to get rid of them when they've overstayed their welcome is to put them in a flying car and blow it up.
  • Robot Chicken: In one episode, the Nerd is visited by a Unicorn who invites him on an "adventure" and makes some rather unusual requests. Of course the Nerd never suspects a thing.
  • Sindy The Fairy Princess: The titular Sindy is aided by a white unicorn named Shay, who is also a friend of the pixies. He helps her escape from Azbar's imprisonment.
  • The Smurfs (1981) episode "Smurfing For Unicorns" featured one, which the Smurfs were looking for to cure Puppy when he drank polluted water and got sick.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • Flying Princess Pony Head is a disembodied unicorn head who happens to be heir to the throne of the Cloud Kingdom of the Pony Heads.
    • Star also uses highly aggressive "warnicorns".
    • Unicorns are often associated with Star's magic wand. In "Quest Buy", the source of the wand's power turns out to be a tiny unicorn running on a treadmill, and in "Storm the Castle" a new unicorn appears to restore Star's wand after she's forced to destroy it. In "Toffee" Star magically conjures a baby unicorn when purifying the Realm of Magic from Toffee's corrupting influence, and when Star visits the Realm of Magic in "Deep Dive" she's greeted by a small herd of adorable baby unicorns.
  • The Unicorn in the Garden: A man discovers a unicorn in his front yard, but fails to convince his domineering wife, who insists that it's a "mythical beast".
  • Unikitty!, a spin-off of The LEGO Movie character. It also introduces her brother Puppycorn, a puppy with a horn.
  • Wishfart has a unicorn named Gladys who became a "several-icorn" after wishing for an extra horn from Dez, only to end up growing horns all over her body.

    Real Life 
  • Viking traders used to sell Narwhal tusks and call them unicorn-horns. As Narwhals could easily be presented as magic beasts themselves, one wonders why they bothered with calling them unicorns. Considering the word Unicorn means "One Horn", they weren't really lying... except narwhal tusks are teeth, not horns (specifically the animal's left upper tooth).
  • Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus raised a stir in the 1980s by displaying "unicorns" in its shows... which in reality were white angora goats whose horn buds had been surgically repositioned in infancy. The animals' creator, a scholar and artist deeply involved in paganism and mythology, actually holds a patent on the procedure. She's also the co-founder of the real-life Church of All Worlds, a neopagan group that uses some of the concepts introduced in Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. The "unicorns" ceased to be exhibited after two years, due to Ringling Bros' practice of rotating acts in and out, as well as increasing legal troubles with the ASPCA over the display of artificially-deformed animals.
  • The modern depiction of the unicorn horn has its origins in the aforementioned trade of narwhal tusks, which are usually only found on males. Contrary to popular belief, narwhals don't use them as weapons, rather they help the animal sense its environment (if you see narwhals putting their tusks up against each other, they're communicating, not jousting). That said, scientists have managed to record narwhals using their tusks to stun fish, as well as two-tusked individuals.
  • Great Indian rhinos and Javan rhinos both possess only a single horn, whereas all other modern rhino species have two. The former is generally believed to have been the inspiration for early accounts of the unicorn as detailed in the trope's description. As recently as 1828, Webster's Dictionary defined "unicorn" as any one-horned animal, giving the rhinoceros as an example. Appropriately, the scientific name of the Indian rhinoceros is Rhinoceros unicornis.
    • Marco Polo saw a rhinoceros in Java. Though certain that this was the animal from the myth, he was very disappointed in how reality diverged from the grace and magic of the legend.
  • There are a few kinds of single-horned lizards in the world, such as the aptly named rhinoceros iguana, which is endemic to the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean.
  • Some species of rhinoceros beetle possess only a single horn.
  • There have been a number of one-horned animals in the distant past (mainly dinosaurs and Pleistocene mammal megafauna).
    • Elasmotherium was a large, hairy rhino with a single massive horn which inhabited central Asia (possibly ranging into Europe if certain cave paintings are to be believed) during the Ice Age. It is actually thought by some to be the source of Eurasian unicorn myths, the theory going that relic Elasmotherium populations surviving into early historical times would have left behind tales of aggressive, one-horned animals throughout their former range, which would explain the similarities of shape and character shared by many mythical unicorns and similar beasts (such as Pliny's monoceros, the karkadann and the indrik, and to a degree the Chinese unicorns as well).
    • Tsaidamotherium was an ancient relative of the musk ox that's most unusual feature was that its left horn was several times larger than the right horn, giving it a somewhat lopsided appearance vaguely reminiscent of a unicorn.
    • Trigodon was a rhino-like toxodont (a family of now-extinct South American ungulates) with a small horn on its forehead.
    • Centrosaurus was a ceratopsian dinosaur most recognizable by the single large nasal horn on its snout. A number of its fossils were formerly attributed to a more dubious genus known as Monoclonius (meaning "Single Sprout" in reference to its horn), which is portrayed similarly to Centrosaurus in old paleoart.
    • The Chinese hadrosaur Tsintaosaurus used to be portrayed as having a crest reminiscent of an unicorn's horn growing from its head until a study in 2013 came to the conclusion that the "unicorn horn" was the rear part of a larger cranial crest more similar to those of other lambeosaurs. Which is good, mostly because the outdated reconstructions made the crest look like... ...something else.
    • Male individuals of Kubanochoerus, a prehistoric species of pig, had a horn emanating from their foreheads which they used to joust between each other.
  • Although not strictly one-horned, the oryx (a type of antelope found in parts of Africa and the Middle East) kinda sorta looks like a unicorn when viewed from the side at just the right angle, or when an occasional individual has only one horn due to injury or a birth defect. The two horns can appear to be one horn. Additionally, like unicorns, oryxes are relatively rare, particularly the Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) and scimitar oryx (Oryx dammah).
  • Before being scientifically described by western scientists, the okapi was popularly known as the "African unicorn" due to its elusive status amongst Europeans and the fact that the native Congolese tribes often described it as being similar to a horse.
  • The famous dinosaur Iguanodon was originally reconstructed as having a single horn on its snout before more complete fossil remains revealed that said "horn" was in fact a spike on the dinosaur's thumb.
  • Infamously, North Korea claimed in 2012 to have discovered a unicorn lair, resulting in much Memetic Mutation. Actually, the notion that they claimed to have Western-style unicorns is based on a poor Korean-to-English translation. What they claimed to have discovered the lair of the Quilin (mentioned above) that acted as a mount for Korea's first king; right in the original announcement they stated that the stone proved Pyongyang was the historic capital city. Yes, we mangled North Korean Propaganda into something even sillier.
  • In English/rhetoric/communication classes showing the limits of grammar, the sentence "the present Queen of France rides a unicorn" is given. Every rule of grammar will say that there is nothing wrong with it. But there is no such person as "the present Queen of France"; France is a republic. And there are no such things as unicorns.
  • Last but not least, the unicorn in the sky: the constellation of Monoceros. Like its mythical counterpart it's very elusive being composed of faint stars and eclipsed by its far more conspicuous neighbour Orion, but it contains some objects worth of attempting to hunt it down if you're an amateur astronomer.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Horned Horse, Our Unicorns Are Different



The Unicorn is an animal Monster kept in the Facility. It is listed on the Whiteboard and is bet on by the Engineering department. It is seen once during the System Purge.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / Unicorn

Media sources: