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"Hearing I ask | From the holy races
From Heimdallr's sons | both high and low;
Thou wilt, Valfather | that well I relate
Old tales I remember | of men long ago."
The Voluspa, Stanza 1

In the beginning, there were two realms. Niflheim, the realm of utter cold, and Muspelheim, the realm of blazing heat. In the middle of the heat and cold, there was Ginnungagap, the great void, and the place of utter chaos. At the center of Ginnungagap, the heat and cold combined to form a "creating steam". Water flowing from the poisonous streams of Niflheim coalesced here to create Ymir, the first jötunn, or giant. From his arms he created a man and a woman, and from his legs created a monster. The gods Odin, Vili and Vé fashioned the earth from his flesh, his blood became the oceans, from his bones came the hills, his hair brought forth the trees, his brains formed the clouds, from his skull rose the heavens, and from his eyebrows the middle realm in which mankind lives, Midgard. And thus the stories of gods, giants, men, and many other creatures besides begins.

The Norse Mythology is a collection of stories derived from Germanic roots, following the lives of the Norse gods — the Aesir and the Vanir — and the men whose lives they directly affected. At its height, the mythology covered most of Northern Europe, much of modern Germany and Austria, and parts of the British Isles; it lasted longest in Scandinavia and Iceland, however, which produced most of its surviving texts. It is a branch of the Proto-Indo-European mythological tradition, which also spawned the Celtic, Greek, and Vedic pantheons; it's distinguished from those myths, however, by the fact that its gods are not only fallible, but also all mortal. They could, and did, die. Like most traditional polytheistic systems, it has no set canon and in some ways resembles a body of customary beliefs more than a set religion. It has been speculated that only chieftains and other wealthy people held faith in the Aesir, while the common farmers believed in land-spirits such as trolls and giants.

Many texts describing Norse beliefs have come down to us, but, aside from a few runic inscriptions and similar fragments, all were written at least a century after the turn to Christianity. Consequently it's nearly impossible to tell which stories are Hijacked by Jesus, or how much they are, although academic theories abound. Even ignoring this, another problem arises: since Norse myth has no definitive canon, the myths differ considerably from place to place, according to the time and the purpose for which they were written.

For most researchers, the main source of canon is the Poetic Edda, also known as the Elder Edda or Codex Regius (as it was originally known). This is a collection of both mythological and heroic poems; the most famous, the Völuspá, relates the past creation of the world, the future death of the gods and burning of the world, and the beginning of the world to come. Others give pithy advice (Hávamál) or contain legends of the Aesir and the Vanir, while even more tell us about the heroic deeds of human beings. Perhaps the most important hero is Sigurd Fafnesbane, a man cognate to the Siegfried of German legend. The oldest surviving copy of the Elder Edda was made in the late 13th century, though many of its poems are much older than that; though how much is often quite unknown.

A secondary source of canon is the Prose Edda (a.k.a. Younger Edda, Snorri's Edda or just plain Edda), a book that was written by the Icelandic historian and politician Snorri Sturluson sometime around 1225 CE. It's difficult to accurately summarize his book; it's believed to have begun as a simple collection of skaldic poetry, but as Snorri wrote, he's thought to have realized that most of his audience would miss many important mythological allusions. Drawing upon his vast knowledge of Norse mythology, therefore, he devoted half his book to retelling the myths in an educational manner, sourcing both older sagas and the Poetic Edda. It's likely that Snorri didn't intend this mythological content to be taken at face value: The prologue and the end of the first section explicitly state that the work covers ancient, mythologized kings and heroes rather than true divinities. In fact, Snorri's not-at-all mythological book Heimskringla (which retells stories of the Norwegian kings) contains a similar prologue, and it even mentions the events of the Prose Edda in passing.

Various other sources exist, including The Icelandic Sagas and Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum, a Danish work of history compiled in the late 12th century. All are, for one reason or another, generally considered less authoritative than the Eddas. The works of the Roman ethnographer Tacitus touch on an earlier form of Norse myth, similar in many ways but dating to the first century CE. The current versions we have, however, are Older Than Print.

It's important to note that the Norse gods are usually considered to be derived from the same ancestral Indo-European mythology as Classical, Celtic, and Hindu Mythology. The mythology of Zoroastrianism is also similar, although with a henotheistic structure imposed on it.

Incidentally, we still honor some of the Norse deities on a regular basis (though we use the Anglo-Saxon versions of their names): Sunna's Day; Máni/Moni's Day; Tyr's, or Tiw's, day; Odin's, or Woden's, day; Thor's, or Thurs's, day; and Frigg's day.note  Each occurs once a week in cultures that use the Germanic root names.

Norse Mythology survives to this day as the basis for Heathen, Ásatrú, and Theodish (etc.) mythology. In Scandinavia, the conversion from this faith to Christianity never fully replaced belief in Norse God/desses. Sources from the 17th century suggest that Odin was still believed to be a protector of horses. In the 1950s, studies showed that some people in Sweden still believed in Norse Mythology, although they did not worship the God/desses. Modern day Scandinavians and Icelanders that worship the Norse God/desses are called "new heathens" and refer to their faith as "the Old Creed" and the deities as "the Old Gods."

By the way, note that this page is called Norse Mythology, not Viking Mythology. Originally, the word "viking" meant the act of faring overseas and the sailor participating, while in English it denotes a profession meaning something like "pirate". Only a minority of Norsemen were Vikings.

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Norse Mythology provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to H 
  • Above the Gods: Even the gods were considered subject to fate, destined to die in Ragnarok. No matter how hard they try.
  • Adam and Eve Plot:
    • While they aren't human, Bergelmir and his wife repopulated the Jötunn race after Ymir's blood flooded Ginnnungagap and drowned the rest.
    • Ask and Embla were the first two humans. They were created from ash wood and elm wood, respectively, that Odin and his brothers found washed up on a shore.
    • After Ragnarök, two people (Lif and Lifthrasir) survive and begin humanity anew.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • A disproportionate amount of modern works depict Thor as having blond flowing hair, most famously Marvel Comics' The Mighty Thor. Traditionally, he's depicted as red-headed and bearded. (However, some older writings do depict Thor as fair-haired and red-bearded.note )
    • He has been depicted once with black hair in the Shin Megami Tensei Franchise, though is most commonly depicted with blonde.
    • Thor's Battle Against the Ettins circa 1872.
    • The 2011 movie Thor at least gives him the beard back. Ultimate Thor also has the beard, despite still being blond.
    • Marvel Comics also depict Loki, traditionally a redhead also, with black hair, and this has remained constant through most variations, notably the cinematic version.
  • The Ageless: The Æsir and Vanir are immortal in this way so long as they continue to eat the Golden Apples of Idunn. When the Goddess and her apples were abducted by the Jötunn giant Thjazi, all the Gods aged rapidly... except for Loki, who was forced to go and steal the Goddess and her apples back.
  • All Trolls Are Different: Icelandic schoolar Ármann Jakobsson has noted that the word "troll" is used to describe multiple malicious beings in the mythology and that the term was used kind of like how we today would use the word "demon".
  • Alternate Continuity:
    • Was Loki imprisoned for killing Baldur, or was he imprisoned for insulting the whole pantheon during a fest? Depends on which story you read. Nonetheless, Lokasenna does include Loki taking credit for Baldur's death among his insults, so he was really playing with fire.
    • In the Gesta Danorum, Baldur and Höder weren't brothers, but romantic rivals. Baldur was a god and Höder human. After Höder beat Baldur in fair combat for the hand of Nanna, Baldur declared that it wasn't fair because he was a god. So in order to keep his bride, Höder had to travel to the underworld to fetch the sword Mistilteinn (Mistletoe), which he used to kill Baldur off for good.
    • Similarly, there is also a version in which the gods were playing a game where they tried to kill Baldur. This was all in good fun because they asked everything which exists to not hurt him. Everything except for mistletoe, which was what Loki used to kill him.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Averted. While many of the giants are a source of trouble for the Æsir, many of the Æsir are married to giants or have giants as lovers, and all nine of Heimdallr's mothers (he has no father) are giants, which means that Heimdallr is a giant. Thor himself is half-giant on his mother's side (Jord). Then there's Loki, who is more Chaotic Neutral.
  • Always Need What You Gave Up:
    • Loki hands Idunn and her golden apples over to a giant to save his own life, forgetting that these apples not only keep him immortal, but are very important to the violent, short-tempered battle gods he lives with. Woopsie-doodle.
    • Freyr gave away his Infinity +1 Sword in order to purchase the hand of a giantess he was in love with. This was the very same sword that was powerful enough that it would have defeated Surtr and saved Freyr's life at Ragnarok.
  • Amicable Exes: Skadi and Njord are usually seen this way. Their relationship got off on the wrong foot when the Aesir offered Skadi a marriage deal as part of the negotiations to compensate for the death of her father, and stipulated that she had to pick a husband from a lineup of bachelor gods... whom she was only allowed to see from the knees down. Skadi was angling for Baldur, and assumed that the most beautiful of the feet had to belong to him. It turned out that the constant salt soaks put Njord far ahead of his competition, and though she was disappointed, they made a go of it anyway. The brief marriage produced the twins Freyr and Freyja, but it turned out that Skadi and Njord were incompatible roommates - he couldn't stand the wolves howling in her domain, while the seagulls in his drove her nuts. They split up, but given that Skadi still considered her deal with the Aesir to be fulfilled and the couple regularly continued to attend divine events together, there can't have been too many hard feelings.
  • Angel Unaware: Odin was fond of this.
  • Anyone Can Die: Every major god dies during Ragnarök, as well as all but one of the major "villains." However, several gods live on to the new world, including those two who got resurrected.
  • Arc Number: 9 and 3.
  • Apocalypse Wow: Ragnarök is certainly deserving of that Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Thor and Jormungand. First, Thor was tricked to lift it in the disguise of giant cat by Utgard-Loki. Thor later caught it while fishing, but Hymir cut his string. Then they are destined to kill each other in Ragnarök.
    • Loki and Heimdallr. The very first story they costarred in set them against each other. Like the above, they are also destined to kill each other in Ragnarök.
    • Tyr and Fenrir, the wolf that bit off his hand, but only in some stories. note 
    • Many adaptations (probably thanks to Marvel) tend to set up Thor and Loki as arch-enemies. While they butted heads once in a while (Sif's hair was certainly a Berserk Button for Thor), they were more friends than enemies, and often traveled together.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In Lokasenna, Loki says that Freyja Really Gets Around, engaged in Brother–Sister Incest... and then farted.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Ring Andvaranaut a.k.a. The Ring of the Nibelung, from the Völsunga saga.
  • Back from the Dead: Baldur and Höder, after Ragnarök.
  • Badass Normal:
    • In the incident where Thor and his companions are tricked by the giant Utgard-Loki into competing in rigged contests of strength, one of those companions, Thjalfi is a seemingly normal human who does fairly well in a race against a thought from Utgard's mind. Thjalfi also killed a clay giant nine leagues wide across the chest in single combat, and easily at that.
    • Höder in the Gesta Danorum. A human in love with Nanna, he defeated Baldur for her hand.
  • Barred from the Afterlife: There's a myriad of places for an old Norse's soul, including the best known Valhalla (Odin's hall). The way one gets to which hall is dependent on how one lived one's life and how one died. If an old Norseman wanted to get into a specific hall, such as Valhalla, but did not die a certain way — in the case of Valhalla, that's dying in battle — then they are Barred from the Afterlife they belong in. Lucky for them, this mythology also has an afterlife of being born again inside one's family.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Sigrun and Brünnhilde.
  • Big Eater: Thor and Loki both are established to be able to eat ridiculous amounts of food in one sitting. In one story, Loki even claims that eating is one of his greatest skills. He very nearly wins an eating contest held by Utgard-Loki; in some versions he actually wins, only losing because he didn't eat the trough the food came in. His disguised opponent? A raging fire.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Baldur is described "as being so fair of face that a beam of light emanates from him."
  • Bittersweet Ending: The world will soon be destroyed in fire and water and there is nothing gods or humans can do about it. But some gods will survive and live in a new world that will emerge. Some stories even say the new world will be a paradise free of most evil.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: Arguably the common choice of translating the jötnar as giants. The intention was probably to create a parallel to the Greek Gigas as both are races of beings that predates the gods, but to most readers, the association probably goes to a different type of giant. While some of the jötnar were giantsnote  this is because all of them were naturally shape-shifters and could be any size they wanted. Most of them, like Loki, were the same size as the Gods. Similar is the rarer choice to call them trolls. While jötnar are called trolls in the sources, most scholars consider its use as a way to insult the jötnar in question.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Thor, usually.
  • Bride and Switch: The below-mentioned wedding caper with Thor in drag as the false bride.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: The main difference between Æsir and Vanir appears to be this. Freyr and Freyja are widely held to be the product of a union between Njord and his unnamed sister. The Lokasenna also accuses Freyr and Freyja of having been caught in flagrante at some point.
  • Cain and Abel:
    • Not quite straight, but Höder does unwittingly kill his brother Baldur. He's killed for it. In older versions of the myth, Baldur and Höder have an actual rivalry, and so this trope is played a bit straighter.
    • Thor and Loki become this in Christian retellings of Norse myths (while Loki was Odin's blood-brother in the original myths) as well as in Marvel Comics.
  • Canis Major: You can't make a wolf much bigger or meaner than Fenrir. He is destined to kill Odin. Meanwhile, Fenrir's two sons — Skoll and Hati — are trying to eat the sun and the moon note . With his mouth wide open, Fenrir's top jaw touches the sky while the bottom jaw scrapes against the ground.
  • Canon Immigrant: The legendary king Kjárr of Valland is suggested by some scholars to be none other than Caesar himself or a personification of the various Roman emperors. Note that Valland in ancient Germanic languages was the toponym for Roman/Celtic lands in the south.
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats:
    • Goddess Freyja, goddess of love, drives a chariot pulled by two black or grey cats. Per the trope, this was generally taken as a sign of her being crazy but awesome.
    • Thor rides a chariot pulled by a pair of billy goats: Tanngrisnirnote  and Tanngnjostrnote . Thor also slaughters, cooks, and eats the goats at the end of each day, then brings them back to life the next morning.
  • Cheer Them Up with Laughter: Loki is tasked with making Skaði laugh after being responsible for the death of her father Thiazzi. He attempts to do so by tying one end of a rope to his own testicles and the other end to a goat's beard and then starts a tug-of-war contest. He succeeds.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Frey gives his sword to Skirnir so he could help him win Gerd's heart. It isn't until Ragnarök that this event has a huge impact — Frey fails to stop Surt during Ragnarok since he is without a weapon. Some translations even imply that it's Frey's own sword that Surt uses to accomplish this.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Loki's first wife Glöd (Glow), and their daughters Eisa (Embers) and Einmyria (Ashes). It is theorized that their absence may be do to really being daughters of Logi, who is often confused with Loki. The Saga of Thorstein Viking's son names them as Logi's children and has little to do with the Aesir. Also, Thjalfi's sister is rarely mentioned.
    • Possible meta example: the earlier Germanic goddess Nerþuz reported by Tacitus may have vanished from the pantheon, or maybe her name was changed when post-Proto-Germanic changes made it too similar to her husband or brother's (we don't know which) name (Old Norse Njorðr; Nerþuz' would have become something like "Njorþr"). If she did get the boot, and if Tacitus tells us true, then that's no loss.
  • Clever Crows: Ravens served as Odin's lookouts/messengers (and in some depictions, the Valkyries rode them to collect the dead).
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Thor's belt and gloves, which enable him to wield Mjölnir.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • In addition to their love of Volleying Insults, torturing Baldur was apparently a favorite pastime of the Asgardians. What's the point of having someone Nigh Invulnerable around if you don't throw heavy objects after him? In fairness, he was completely immune to everything they threw... except for mistletoe, which was eventually used to kill him.
    • The Æsir also enjoy screwing over dwarves. One such instance created cursed treasure; another, a pile of headless little bodies. It's even said that Thor kicked a dwarf into Baldur's funeral pyre. No wonder Alberich was such a prick to the gods.
    • And whenever the gods need to put the blame on someone, they grab Loki and threaten him with torture and death if he doesn't put the situation right. Granted, often Loki was responsible for or at least involved in the thing that went awry in the first place, but still...
  • Composite Character: Many works have confused Loki, mischievous half-god, with Logi (or Loge), the god of fire, resulting in Loki being treated as a full-god with fiery associations. This mistake has been compounded by successive generations of writers.
  • Contract on the Hitman: The dwarf Fáfnir turns himself into a dragon to protect his cursed gold from his brother, Regin. So, Regin hires Sigurd to kill Fáfnir, but then Sigurd learns from the birds that Regin plans to kill him, too.
  • Cool Boat:
    • The god Freyr's ship Skidbladnir could fly and fold up to fit in his pocket.
    • Naglfar, which is made of finger and toe nails of the dead.
  • Cool Horse:
    • Sleipnir, whose eight legs made him really fast.
    • Sleipnir's father Svadilfari, who is so talented he can build walls.
    • Helhest, a three legged horse that is associated with Hel that brings death and disease with it.
  • Cool Sword: Tyrfing ("finger of Tyr"), which never missed a strike and could cut through metal and stone as if through cloth. Extremely useful for cutting down entire armies of Huns. Unfortunately, also a death sentence for anyone standing nearby whenever it was drawn. Not always healthy for its wielders either.
  • Couple Theme Naming:
    • After Ragnarok, two people (Lif and Lifthrasir, a.k.a Life and Life's Lover) survive and begin the world anew.
    • Ask and Embla, the first two humans, is a possible example. Their names might be Floral Theme Naming of "Ash" and "Elm" respectively, that was lost by Language Drift, and reflecting that they were created from ash wood and elm wood that one of the gods found washed up on a shore.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Played with. Sure, Norse mythology may be filled with supernatural creatures, detailed cosmology, epic battles, and magic everywhere. In essence, the grandpa of all High Fantasy stories. However, while it's delightful to read, the Nordic cosmos isn't necessarily as cool and colorful as it looks. More specifically, there's no inherent "good" or "evil" race, only a bunch of supernatural beings trying to survive by doing what they believe they should do, and "Heaven" is only reserved for the most badass warriors (regardless of how much assholery they committed in life), while the rest were literally sent to Hel. Most gods are fated to die, and they believe there's nothing they can do about it but wait. Sure, they will also kill several other monsters, but unfortunately, Nidhogg, the closest thing the Norse have to a true evil monster, is among the few who will survive Ragnarök. Yep, living in Norse mythology is everything but easy!

    To be fair, Hel was not a place of suffering but of shadows, and is rather peaceful... That is, unless you had committed crimes and did wrongs that would have earned you Hel's wrath, and you would be punished. Also, if you study the story closely, you realise that Vallhala isn't a eternal paradise of joyful violence; the Gods are simply recruiting an army for Ragnarök. Several sources indicate the afterlife was more complicated than a simple Valhalla or Hel. Freya claimed half of the dead and it is said young lovers and romantics went to her hall. Same with other gods. Reincarnation itself was sometimes viewed as an option.
  • Crapsack World: Surprisingly averted, despite the bleak atmosphere, morally grey setting and harsh environment several of the key gods including Thor cared for humans, friends and family were valued, heroism was admired, several afterlives existed and were pretty good, and while everything is destined to die in the end a better world is supposed to emerge from the ashes. So arguably, it's a anti-nihilist mythology.
  • Cute Monster Girl:
    • The giantesses are hot enough that gods married them on a regular basis. Frey's wife Gerd was even said to be the most beautiful woman in the world, which makes her more beautiful than Freya, who's already extremely beautiful. But the male giants are described as pretty fugly. Half-giant Loki is an exception, being extremely good-looking (though he is a shape shifter); on the other hand, his children with a giantess are horrible monsters.
    • In some adaptations or retellings, Hel is quite attractive. In others, she's a rotted corpse. Sometimes she's half and half, either top and bottom or split right down the middle.
    • Heimdallr's parents (all nine of them) are giantesses, which means that Heimdallr is a giant, and there's no indication that he's ugly. Considering that so many giants turn out not to be ugly, it almost comes off as their alleged ugliness being more trash-talking than truth.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The dark elves/dwarves originally weren't necessarily all evil, and Hel herself was neutral if not outright good. Hijacking took place, however.
  • Deadly Sparring: The gods made a friendly game of Baldur's immortality by throwing weapons at him harmlessly. Loki learned that mistletoe was the only substance that could harm him and tricked Hodur into joining the game with a mistletoe spear (or arrow), killing Baldur on the spot.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
    • Freyr fell in love with Gerd, a giantess. He eventually managed to melt her heart, albeit with the help of a lackey threatening her with a magic sword.
    • In another instance, the frosty giantess Skadi demanded reparations of the Aesir for the murder of her father, asking for his eyes made stars in the heavens, a godly husband for herself, and asked that the gods make her laugh. Only Loki had the keen sense of humor to achieve that last one, resulting in a temporarily melted literally-minded giantess.
  • Demonic Invaders: Not "demons", but several groups can be substituted well enough. From Jötunheim come giants, who are always looking to invade Asgard and Midgard, and from Ironwood come trolls, who are looking to invade Midgard and apparently, Jötunheim as well as giant wolves. Also, the fire giants from Muspelheim, who will arrive after two of those wolves eat the sun and moon and kick off Ragnarök.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • Tyr was originally the king of the gods until Odin got more popular. Now everybody just knows him as "that god with the one hand" who is the namesake of Tuesday (i.e. Tyr's Day). This resulted in some versions making the Retcon that Tyr was head god first, but stepped down when he lost his hand to Fenrir.
    • Ullr was probably a very important and popular god at one point given there are as many places named after him in Scandinavia as there are after Odin. But when the sources where written down, he is a very marginal figure. It's also worth noting that the sources that do mention him are usually considered the oldest.
  • Depending on the Writer: There is a lot of inconsistensies between different sources and even within them regarding the details of the mythology, while the broad strokes remain roughly the same. Which makes a lot of sense if you just stop and remember that there wasn't any unified dogma in ancient Scandinavia and there where a lot of local variations with emphasis on different gods and different aspects on them. For example: Odin was primary worshipped in Denmark and Sweden, while in Iceland his worship was primarly focused on his role as a psychopomp.
  • Destroyer Deity:
    • Surtr's job is to end Ragnarok by raining fire down on the realms, wiping out everything but very few locations untouched by his flames.
    • Nidhogg is a monstrous dragon who spends all of its time gnawing on the roots of the World Tree with the intent of collapsing all of Yggdrasill, or all worlds in existence. Even worse, it is one of the few things to survive The End of the World as We Know It, so it will continue to do this long after the realms are reborn anew.
  • Determined Defeatist: A running theme.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: Surt, the being who will eventually destroy the world, is never mentioned outside said world-destroying context, except for some versions which state he had a role in creating said world.
  • Diligent Draft Animal: Svadilfari was the horse that belonged to the master builder who agreed to make the walls of Asgard and made a deal that if he could build the walls before winter, he could take Freyja as his bride as well as the sun and moon. However, the builder neglected to mention that Svadilfari was magical and was able to move so swiftly that the builder could finish the walls within a few days. Fearing the outcome, the Asgardians forced Loki to fix the problem and Loki did so by transforming into a mare and distracting Svadilfari, defeating the builder and producing Sleipnir.
  • Disabled Deity:
    • Both Odin and Tyr are missing body parts (an eye and a hand, respectively). Thor's brother Hodr is blind.
    • In the post-Christian tellings, Hel is always deformed in a grotesque manner. Prior, not much is described about her appearance.
  • Disguised in Drag:
  • Disappeared Dad: It's not recorded who the biological father was of Ull, son of Sif and stepson of Thor.
  • Divine Conflict: The War between the Aesirs and Vanirs.
  • Divine Incest: Norse mythology has less incest than many pantheons, since many gods don't have clear parentage. Several gods also marry giants instead of each other. That said, there is a bit.
    • Njörðr was married to his unnamed sister and they were the parents of Freyr and Freyja. In the Ynglinga saga, it says this allowed under Vanir laws, implying it would not be allowed under Aesir law.
    • In the Lokasenna poem found in Poetic Edda, Loki accuses Freyja and Freyr of having sex. Whether or not this is true is unclear, but the accusation seems to be riffing off this trope — Freyja and Freyr are a corresponding pair of sibling gods (with Couple Theme Naming no less) and so them being a couple would be very much in keeping with the general patterns of mythology.
  • Dragon Hoard: Dragons appear frequently as treasure guardians, which is why Old Norse poetry uses "dragon's bed" (dreka beðr) as one of its numerous poetical paraphrases for "gold". The backstory of how dragon and hoard came together can vary, but an idea often encountered is that dragons are former human(oid)s that have permanently changed into dragons so they can guard their riches more effectively.
  • Dragons Are Demonic: Nidhoggr is a giant dragon that gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil in hopes of destroying all worlds.
  • Draw Sword, Draw Blood:
    • King Högni's dwarf-made sword Dáinsleif. It could not be sheathed until it had drawn blood or taken life.
    • Tyrfing. Another dwarf-forged sword, it was cursed so that it would kill a man every time it was drawn.
  • Dumb Muscle: Actually averted with Thor. He's boisterous, quick-tempered, and strong, but he's been shown to be very clever when his wits are challenged.(But not always averted. He is, after all, the guy who drank enough ocean water to make sea level drop perceptibly. Why? Because his host told him it was beer and bet him he couldn't drink it all.)
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Ymir the primeval giant. Apart from being a Truly Single Parent to an entire race which could themselves qualify for this trope, his corpse was used to construct at least the earth and Midgard, the realm of humans.
    • Nidhoggr, a serpent-like dragon that chews on roots of Yggdrasil and human corpses.
  • Elemental Embodiment: (Arguably) the jötnar. Just for a few examples, there is an entire class of giants (among them Surtr, Loge and Eldr) that are associated with fire, Laufey with trees, Farbauti with lightning, Jord and Gerd with earth, and Skadi with cold mountain streams.
  • Elemental Plane: Most of the realms of Yggdrasill can be seen as one of these, although their elemental connotations are believed by to be metaphors for the human psyche as they seem to fit planes of the psyche in other religions. The realms that can be attributed to be elemental planes are Alfheim, home of the Light Alfs; Svartalfheim, home of the Dark Alfs; Muspellheim, home of the Fire Giants; Niflheim, home of the Ice Giants; Vanaheim, home of the Vana Gods (typically seen as marshes or wetlands); and Jötunheim, home of etins (very mountainous).
  • Elemental Powers: Associated with the rune system. It's more complicated than what most consider to be "the standard four," as each rune in the Elder Futhark can be interpreted to be a building block of The World Treenote . Some runes are attributed to ice, such as Hagalaz or Isa, but even then they are not specifically An Ice Personnote . Others are attributed to water, such as Laguz, but it still is not Making a Splashnote . This is explicitly seen when one looks at Eihwaz, which could mean "tree" or "plane of existence" or even "travel (between planes of existence)."
  • Enchanted Forest: Norse heroic legend has "Myrkviðr inn ókunna", "the unknown Mirkwood", a vast and little explored forest located in Eastern or Central Europe. The Eddas also makes mention of a certain Járnviðr or "Iron-wood", a forest inhabited by giantesses and giant wolves, somewhere "in the East".
  • Endless Winter: The Fimbulvetr or Fimbulwinter is an especially harsh winter that lasts trice as long as usual and signifies the beginning of Ragnarök. It's believed that this myth was actually developed as a explanation for a real disaster that occured in the early 6th century, due to volcanic activity which would have caused the sunset to appear bloodred and robbed sunlight of the power to cause photosynthesis which in turn made it appear that winters came with no summer between.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Oh, yeah. Big time. Ragnarök (literally meaning "The Final Fate of the Gods," but famously mistranslated as "The Twilight of the Gods" (Ragnarokkr) by Richard Wagner). When it happens, war and chaos engulf the entire world, a winter three years long will be so cold that life will cease to exist, the sun and the moon will be devoured by wolves, Fenrir the Wolf and Jormugandr the World Serpent will be unleashed, the army of the Underworld will stream forth, all chaotic beings will engage in an epic battle with the gods and the warriors of Valhalla, everyone dies while the fire giant Surt engulfs the world in flames, the burning world will be buried by water, leaving the realms of gods and men to collapse into Yggdrasil. Originally, Ragnarök is simply the end of an age and a symbol of the cyclical worldview of germanic paganism much like the giants were leftovers from the age of Ymir. The younger Gods would take upon the roles of their fathers and mothers. Nidhögg would still be alive, meaning that evil will never vanish. It is believed that the return of Baldur and the mighty one that rules over all mentioned in the Eddas is a late addition an an expy for the christian God and Jesus. However, some believe based on phrasings earlier in the text that the mighty is in fact Odin rising from the dead.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The story of Ymir's death shows that this is a Proud Warrior Race religion.
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows: The rainbow is one of the roads to Asgard.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Hrimthursar (Frost-giants)
  • Exact Words: In one story, Loki makes a bet with some dwarves and offers them his head as a wager — an expression for "my head's weight in gold" — as his part of the bargain. When they win and claim his actual head, he argues that since they can't take that without also cutting his neck, the deal is void. (In various versions, he also prevents them cutting his head in half or some such by emphasising that by his head, he meant his whole head, so they can't leave any of it behind or else they'd forfeit.) The dwarves content themselves with sewing his lips together, earning him the nickname Scarlip, and the scars remain in his various forms.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Many magical items have names that are literally descriptions; for example, Thor's magical, strength-doubling belt is literally named "Power Belt" in Old Norse.
  • Excrement Statement: Loki claims Njord was captured by Hymir and then received by way of his daughters.
  • Eye-Obscuring Hat: Odin wore a very wide-brimmed hat to conceal his eyepatch (see below). The hat part of Robe and Wizard Hat may come from this, via The Lord of the Rings.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Odin gave up one of his eyes in exchange for wisdom. He threw the eye in the well of wisdom (Mímir's well) and it gave him the ability to see everything that takes place.
  • Face–Heel Turn: While at the start of the Prose Edda, Loki is a Loveable Rogue/Lovable Traitor, by Ragnarök he is essentially the leader of the forces of darkness.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Elves, dwarves, giants, deities, dragons — it's got all of them. It's no wonder Tolkien developed such an exhausting series of works out of inspiration from this mythology. Many Western fantasies incorporate elements from Tolkien's works unknowingly using aspects of this mythology.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The gods can't kill Loki for what he did to Baldur on account of him being blood-brother to Odin. Thus, they instead bind him in chains made from the entrails of his son, whom they murdered, and allow a snake to drip venom on his face for eternity. Loki's loyal wife Sigyn collects the venom in a bowl most of the time, but she eventually has to empty it, allowing the venom to drip and causing him excruciating pain. His thrashing around caused earthquakes.
  • Fiery Redhead: Thor (despite his Marvel Comics incarnation being blond) is commonly described as having flaming red hair and beard and a temper to match.
  • Final Battle: The battle of Vígríð, which is only one of the many events that compose Ragnarök (see The End of the World as We Know It above).
  • Fingore: According to the legends, the nails of the dead were forcibly pulled off so they wouldn't be used for building material for the Naglfar. Yes, the Naglfar is a boat made of the nails of the dead. One added legend states that if you cut your nails, they go to Naglfar, so to keep Ragnarök from happening, you should only file your nails, because Ragnarök can't happen before Naglfar is completed.
  • Fire Means Chaos: The trickster god Loki is frequently associated with fire, and is certainly a force of chaos. Though it's possible he got confused with another god of fire named "Logi".
  • Food God: Idunn was the Norse Goddess of youth and apples.
  • Friendly War: This is one of the appeals of Valhalla: Party all night, fight all day. Casualties don't matter, they're only temporary. Well, until Ragnarök, anyway.
  • From Bad to Worse: There will be war, winter, and incest when the end times are coming. Then comes Ragnarök, and life as we know it will almost end as the realms of the World Tree are burnt in fire leaving behind few survivors.
  • Full-Boar Action: Hildesvini, the Battle Swine. Freya's personal mount whenever she was not using her cat-drawn chariot.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: When you consider that the jötnar are nature personified, Ragnarök is basically this.
  • Gate Guardian: Garm was a bloodstained watchdog that guarded the gates of Hel (the Norse land of the dead).
  • Gender Bender: Loki turned into a mare (and got pregnant!). He also spent eight years as a milkmaid.
  • Genius Serum: Mimir's Well, which grants knowledge and wisdom to anyone who drinks from it, but at a price. Incidentally, this is why Odin is always depicted with one eye. While the required sacrifice is sometimes omitted, pretty much every depiction of the Well in media tends to retain the intelligence enhancing qualities of its waters.
  • Giant Corpse World: Midgard (the earth as humans know it), is made from the dead body of Ymir.
  • God Is Flawed: The Norse deities derive many of their abilities from specific tools or actions, and many problems the gods face – including Ragnarok – come from their own actions.
  • God of Fire:
    • Some have theorized that Loki is also a god of fire or may have originally been one before being reinterpreted as a Trickster God. However, since many authors in recent times have tried to associate Loki with the devil, no one is entirely sure how true this is to the original version. It should be noted that there is a Fire-Jötunn called Logi, whose clearly a different character from Loki, since the two compete in an eating contest at one story.
    • Surtr is a member of the Jötunn race who are equivalent to the Norse Gods in power. He carries a Flaming Sword, dwells in the fiery realm of Muspelheim, and during the events of Ragnarok, it is said he will bring forth flames to consume the world.
  • Götterdämmerung: Interestingly enough, civilization reaches its height after the fall. It's the Trope Namer, as the above mentioned mistranslation of Wagner "Twilight of the Gods" is Götterdämmerung in German.
  • The Great Flood: What will happen in the lead up to Ragnarok.
  • The Great Serpent: Jormungandr the Midgard Serpent is a Beast of the Apocalypse. It is a spawn of the Trickster God Loki and his mistress the jotunn Angrboda, banished by Odin to sleep in the oceans for fear of what it could do. It is said that it was large enough to wrap around Midgard (i.e. Earth) and grasp its own tail.
  • Groin Attack: Loki does this to himself when he's faced with the seemingly-impossible task of making Skadi laugh. He ties a rope to his own testicles, then ties the other end to the beard of a goat. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Elves could interbreed with mortals.
  • Hammerspace: Thor could make his hammer shrink to an incredibly tiny size, and be pulled out of seemingly nowhere, and is the first user of this trope.
  • Hand in the Hole: Tyr and Fenrisulfr.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: Once Ragnarök is over, the world will be renewed and taken over by a new deity known as "The One". No one knows his/her name, because he/she will only reveal himself at the end of days. ...That may not be part of the original myths...
  • Healer God: Eir is the goddess of medical skills.
  • Heaven Above: Asgard, the realm of the gods, is said to be one level up on the World Tree Yggdrasil from Midgard, the realm of mortals (i.e. Earth).
  • Hell Hound: Garm, the guardian of Hel. He and Tyr end up killing each other when Ragnarök arives.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tyr allows his hand to be bitten off in order to prevent the monster Fenrir from escaping.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Thor and Loki, at least in some stories. In others, not so much.
    • Odin and Loki, who are blood brothers.
  • Hijacked by Jesus: It's impossible to tell which myths are hijacked and which are not, since all of them were written down more than 200 years after the turn to Christianity. Even the Poetic Edda is not immune, since the oral stories the book was based on had 200 years to adapt some Christian ideas and values:
    • Baldur may or may not be treated as a Christ figure. A better world emerges following the chaos immediately after his death. But that may also represent the old Norse people's wish of having their genes survive into the following generations, just as Baldur's rebirth ensured that Odin's, and the Aesir's, genes lived into the new world.
    • The story of Loki getting Baldur killed is Hijacked by Jesus. Originally (as shown in Poetic Edda), it was only hinted (in an insult of Frigg by Loki himself) that Loki was guilty. It was only when he gravely insulted every single one of the gods that they tied him down and fed him poison. The two stories were then merged and expanded by Snorri Sturluson to make Loki look like a Satan figure.
    • The myth of Freya's acquisition of the Necklace of the Brisings is recorded only in a Christianized version.
    • There's also The History of the Danes, which was commissioned of Saxo Grammaticus, stories that depicted the gods merely as cunning wizards who tricked people into thinking they were gods. They were still pretty badass in it, though.
    • Hel was hijacked by Satan, twice. Originally, Hel's hall in Helheim was not so bad, since most people would end up there anyway. It was not until Valhalla was merged with the Christian Heaven that Hel became, well, Hell. Also, the fire giant Surt conquered Hel during Ragnarök.
    • Hel herself changes, too. In post-Christianity versions, she becomes a cruel, corpse-like monster, but in older sources, she is described as half pale, half corpse black symbolizing the duality of life and death. She takes care of the souls of the sick and aged and treats everyone well. Unless you were a murderer of innocents and such then you would be sent to Nástrand. But that part may also be a Christian addition.
    • Like Hel, Loki gets associated with Satan. In some myths, he's a contriver of trouble, a trickster, and a total Jerkass, but still not all that bad of a guy as he saves the day a few times and once in a great while goes out of his way to be nice. In later, post-Christian stories, he's Handwaved as the cause of anything wicked, with no explanation as to why or how he'd managed it, and then he's the cause of the end of the world.
    • Some of the myths also speak of Odin sometimes appearing as three beings, which may be an idea influenced or inspired by the Christian Trinity.
    • The concept of Ragnarök seems to have been adapted (possibly invented whole sale, although that is less likely) after the arrival Christian influence and conversion from a distant prophecy to a metaphor for the decline and end of the native pagan worship. This tends to co-incide with Baldr's conversion into a Christ-like figure, to emphasize a shift in faith. Generally this was likely done to emphasize Norse Mythology as a part of the past which the writer is Chronicling, rather than the author actively endorsing what others might see as Heathenisms. The Poetic Edda even implies that the Judeo-Christian God replaced the Aesir after Ragnarok.
    • The Fair Folk were originally, well, the Fair Folk, who weren't really considered either good or evil in the earliest myths. They were increasingly seen as demonic as Germanic societies became Christianised. This is similar to what happened in Celtic Mythology.
  • Homosexual Reproduction:
    • Sleipnir is the biological child of Loki and a stallion called Svadilfari. Loki was shapeshifted into the form of a mare (a female horse) at the time. A mare who happened to be in heat, to lure away the stallion. However, getting pregnant had not been part of Loki's plans, and it earned him the nickname of "horse-mother".
    • The unspecified number of children Odin and Njorth accuse Loki of bearing in the Lokasenna.
  • Honor Before Reason: When Loki saves Asgard (and the entire world) from the schemes of a giant trying to get his hands on Freya, the sun, and the moon, everyone except Thor rejoices - Thor's too busy being angry over the fact that they broke a vow.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin:
    • Inverted: A gang of giants stole the hammer Mjölnir to try to get Freyja to marry their leader. It didn't work out too well. (See Disguised in Drag.)
    • This one happened to Loki a lot, even at the hands of other gods, and caused - among other things, the cursing of Andvaranaut, the creation of Thor's hammer, and later on its theft. Thor even did it to Loki over a cute little prank Loki pulled on Thor's wife.
  • Human Popsicle: Ymir, Audumla the primeval cow (yes, there was a cow), and Odin's grandfather Buri.

    Tropes I to O 
  • I Gave My Word: In several myths, Loki gets in trouble because he fulfills promises he made under duress.
  • Intangible Man: Elves could walk through any barrier
  • Interspecies Romance: Loki, a jotun, married Sigyn, an asynja. Because of their way of thinking, it didn’t matter if a god romanced a gygr. A goddess falling for a jotun however...
  • Insubstantial Ingredients: The sound of a cat's footfall.
  • Jerkass Gods: Not quite to the level of the Greek pantheon, though. Many of the main gods (Odin, Thor, Freyr, Frigg) are guilty of this, but Loki beats all of them, regardless of which version you look up.
  • Karma Houdini: Nidhoggr is an evil dragon who gnaws the roots of the cosmic tree Yggdrasil, trying to kill it and threatening the whole of existence. According to some sources, he will be one of the few nasty monsters to survive Ragnarök, and will continue to chow down on the corpses of evildoers in Nastrond.
  • Karmic Transformation: Fafnir, son of Hreidmar, was affected by the curse laid upon his father's ring and treasure hoard. Consumed by greed, he murdered his father and ran away with the lot, denying his brother Regin the portion of the hoard promised to him. As Fafnir lay on his ill-gotten treasure, the selfishness and villainy in his soul caused him to metamorphose into a loathsome wingless dragon. He had become a monster — and was eventually slain like one by his nephew Sigurd on a vengeful Regin's instigation. Some variants of the legend say that Fafnir was transformed by the 'Oegishjalmr,' a helmet that is basically a transformation-ray. Said helmet was part of Hreidmar's hoard.
  • Kick the Dog: Loki killing Baldur with mistletoe and then refusing to cry so he can't be brought back to life. One could argue the mistletoe thing was more of a prank but when he refuses to cry, that's when he crosses the Moral Event Horizon and becomes the enemy of the rest of the gods.
  • Kill the Cutie: Baldur.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Muspelheim is the realm of fire and home of the fire giants.While the exact meaning of the word is uncertain, the most common theory is that it translates to "home of the world destroyer", as it's where Surtur lives.
  • Life/Death Juxtaposition: The goddesses Hel and Idunna. Hel is a goddess of Death and is strongly associated with disease. Idunna is a goddess of rejuvenation and is best known as the orchardist of the apples that rejuvenate the god/desses in Asgard. Hel is said to have her own apple orchard, which means that both of these goddesses have their own apple orchards. Also Freyja, who is a goddess of sex and love, but also of death.
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: Twin brothers Baldr and Höðr are the gods of light and darkness respectively. Naturally, Höðr ends up killing Baldr (albeit accidentally) and as such is immediately murdered for it. They also both end up being the only gods that come Back from the Dead, arriving together after Ragnarök.
  • Light Is Not Good: The light elves could be quite unpleasant. Loki himself, besides being portrayed as an attractive young man, also became associated with fire as he was mixed with Logi, an actual god of fire. Also, Freya was a beautiful goddess not only associated with love and jewelry but also bloodlust and indeed was quite unpleasant in most myths she appeared. Even her twin brother, Freyr, resided over the light elves and was a deity of rain, fertility, and war. Meanwhile, the idea that Baldur, the shining god, was good seems to be exclusive to myths Hijacked by Jesus.
  • Lord of the Ocean: Rán and her husband Ægir. It is said that those who die at sea are brought to her afterlife instead of Valhalla or Hel, though what exactly happens there is unknown.
  • Lovable Traitor: Loki.
  • Magical Weapon:
    • Thor's hammer Mjolnir was the original Thunder Hammer, could never miss when thrown, was indestructible, would return to the wielders hand by itself, and could be shrunk down and worn as a necklace.
    • Odin's spear Gungnir could never miss when thrown and would pierce any target and never break, though it does not seem to have stopped Fenrir, who killed Odin at Ragnarok.
  • Magic Cauldron: There's mention of an unusually massive cauldron (or sometimes some other kind of pot), a mile wide, which belonged to the giant Hymir. Thor and Týr want to get hold of it (to make beer in, naturally) and have to overcome a challenge set by Hymir to win it.
  • Magic Is Feminine: In ancient Norse culture, men practicing a certain kind of magic called seiðr were considered ergi, or unmanly, for doing so and greatly scorned. This is even brought up by the magical trickster god Loki in Lokasenna where Loki openly mocked Odin, the king of the Norse gods, for practicing seiðr after Odin mocked him for shapeshifting as a female and bearing children.
  • Magic Knight: Odin.
  • Master of Threads: Holda and Perchta were both known as goddesses who oversaw spinning and weaving.
  • Meaningful Name: About every name in Norse Mythology has a meaning. Thor means "Thunder"; he IS the thunder itself. Odin means "the furious one"; he IS fury. Freyr means "lord" and Freyja "lady". Hønr means "the high one", Frigg "beloved", Ymir "scream" and Sunna & Máni means "sun and moon".
  • Mister Seahorse: Loki, as mentioned above.
  • Morphic Resonance: According to some stories, even though he could change shape, Odin was always one-eyed in every form.
  • The Multiverse: The Nine Worlds, on three levels linked by Yggdrasil: Asgard, Vanaheim, and Alfheim; Jötunheim, Midgard, and Nidavellir/Svartalfheim; Helheim, Muspellheim and Niflheim. Note the list of worlds is artificial: they are never specified in the Norse myths themselves and was produced by Victorian scholars based on places and races mentioned in the texts and has since become standard through Memetic Mutation. Unfortunately, his list creates some Continuity Snarl as the myths imply that Helnote  is a place in Niflheim. Some scholars have tried to fix this by removing Hel from the list and putting Glaðsheim in its place. This however just creates a similar problem as Glaðsheim is often implied to be in Asgard. And as Snorre states that Odin gave Hel power over Nine Worlds, one can assume there are even more worlds.
  • Mutual Kill: This will happen to Thor and Jormungandr, as well as Loki and Heimdall, during Ragnarok. Ragnarok as whole is possibly the biggest one ever: almost all the gods and almost all the monsters wipe each other out, and almost all life in existence is caught in the crossfire.
  • Murder By Proxy: Loki tricks Hodr, Baldr's blind brother, into shooting Baldr with an arrow from mistletoe (the only thing that could harm him), thereby killing him.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • Half of Odin's names.
    • Nidhögg - Malice Striker
    • Muspelheim can be understood as "Home of the World Blaze" but can also mean "Home of the World Destroyers".
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Baldur, except for mistletoe. The gods made a game of hurling sharp and dangerous objects at him.
  • Night and Day Duo: Sunna (sun goddess) and her brother Mani (moon god) form a pair. Both of them emerged early in the creation of the world, and ride across the sky on horse-drawn chariots in order to tell the days for man.
  • Nine Beings, One Body: Modern artists usually portray the nine mothers merging into a creature with nine heads in order to give birth to Heimdall.
  • No Man of Woman Born: Although Baldur's death was foretold, he was given temporary Nigh-Invulnerability by having his mother ask all objects of the earth to swear not to harm her son, thereby allowing the gods to engage in some Comedic Sociopathy by throwing axes and other weapons at Baldur. Unfortunately, the plant mistle was ignored (it wasn't old or important enough), allowing a disguised Loki to have Baldur killed via a mistletoe dart given to Baldur's blind brother.
  • Noodle Incident: In the Lokasenna, Odin says Loki went around disguised as a milkmaid for awhile, and according to both Odin and Njorth, he's given birth to multiple children. It doesn't get any more elaborate than that.
  • North Is Cold, South Is Hot: Probably the Ur-example. From the other Wiki: "In the beginning, there were two regions: Muspellsheimr in the south, full of fire, light and heat; and Niflheimr in the north, full of arctic waters, mists, and cold."
  • Not Me This Time: Loki is the usual suspect when things go wrong in Asgard. Sometimes he isn't responsible, but the other gods tend to assign him the job of solving the problem anyway.
  • The Old Gods: The jötnar, the Vanir and Alfar to some extent.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • Averted with Loki and Utgarda-Loki, and with Vali (Loki's son by Sigyn) and Vali (Odin's son by Rindr).
    • There's also the Norn/Valkyrie Skuld and the half-elven princess Skuld. This page suggests that Loki's wife Glut was a descendant of Logi and his wife of the same name, and that they named their daughters after the daughters of Logi and Glut.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: The giant serpent Jormungand is the son of Loki and the giantess Angrboda and encircles the earth with his length. Fafnir was once a human, a troll or a giant depending on the version, but was transformed into a wyrm either by magic or by cursed gold, symbolizing his ruthless greed. Nidhoggr encompasses the root system of Yggdrasill, meaning it is larger than multiple realms and is trying to collapse the World Tree by eating its roots.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Here's where it all started, although in the earlier depictions, dwarves were quite different than how they are today.
  • Our Elves Are Different:: They're divided into "light elves" and "dark elves" (the latter could be the same thing as dwarves), neither type particularly more pleasant than the other. Originally, elves were considered ambivalent to humans, being neither always good or evil (Tolkien's Elves owe a lot to this original depiction). They came to be seen as more evil once Christianity took hold. There are some scholars who suggest the svartálfr (black elves) and the dökkálfr (dark elves) may not be the same thing as they could come from different places across the many worlds, depending on which places are counted as worlds. Those who think they are different will be divided on which group should be regarded as dwarves, all depending on which tale they happen to like the best(find more credible). Icelandic schoolar Ármann Jakobsson has proposed that the elfs (alfar) was a catch-all name for helpful beings that were not gods.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger:
    • The jötnar, perennial foes of the gods and one of the ur-examples. Their sizes varied considerably, however (for example, the entire earth Midgard was made from the body of the dead giant Ymir). Size was not the only thing which varied; sometimes the giants (at least the male ones) were hideous, sometimes the implication was that the giant(s) in the story looked about as human as the gods, sometimes the giants and the gods were constant, general enemies, and sometimes the gods had peaceably relations with some of the giants that hadn't managed to become an Asar or Vanir by marriage or adoption...
    • Jormungand, a snake so long it formed an Ouroboros by stretching around the entirety of Midgard and grasping its tail.
  • Our Titans Are Different: Some argue jötnar better fits this trope, actually as divine beings of similar power to the Aesir and Vanir, but aligned to primordial chaos, destruction and entrop.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Draugar, a type of zombie who chose eternal sleep when they died but have been awakened. They are driven by envy of the living and insatiable hunger. A bite won't turn you though, as they became what they are by dying naturally.

    Tropes P to Z 
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Loki's punishment involves having one of his (æsir) sons turned into a wolf so it can kill his other son, a clear parallel to how he tricked Hodr into killing Baldr.
  • Pet the Dog: In Loka Táttur, after Odin and Hœnir fail to answer the prayers of a farmer to keep his child hidden from a murderous troll, they give up completely. Loki, ever the Determinator, succeeds in protecting the kid and slays the troll, and is rewarded by the boy's parents with a big hug. Awww.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Odin and Rindr's son Vali grows to adulthood in a single day so he can kill Höder and avenge Baldur.
  • Precautionary Corpse Disposal: In some versions of Norse paganism, the body had to be destroyed for the spirit to depart, else the corpse might rise as a Draugr and torment its family. In places where lumber was scarce, like Iceland, cremation was only practical for the upper classes and others resorted to elaborate rituals to confuse the Draugr like knocking out walls to carry the corpse out and burying it upside down.
  • Primordial Chaos: Ginnungagap was the void between the unbearably hot Muspellheim and the bitterly cold Niflheim from which the cosmos as gods and mortals know it emerged.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Norse. You have gotten this already?
  • Rated M for Manly: But of course.
    • This image provides a good example: Thor goes fishing... for the World Serpent by bashing its head in with his hammer.
    • Most of the (surviving) stories focus on the gods and their adventures, and provide examples of what "manliness" consisted of in the Old Norse ethos. Strength, courage, and honor certainly, but if Odin is anything to go by, cleverness, intelligence, wisdom, leadership, and a bit of moral flexibility were also good traits to have.
  • Really Gets Around: Freya gets around with anyone, while Loki gets around with anything.
    • All the Norse gods, to greater or lesser extents, it seems. Look at which gods and goddesses are identified as being married, then which gods and goddesses are parents to which other gods and goddesses, and you'll find shockingly small overlap where one god's/goddess's children are also the children of their spouse. Apparently, the Aesir were big on ethical non-monogamy.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Loki delivers one of these to the Aesir in the Lokasenna. It does not end well for him.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Jormungand, the gigantic serpent encircling earth, is a serious danger to humans and gods alike. Dragons, like Nidhogg and Fafnir, generally aren't much better (Nidhogg is actually far worse).
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Odin, who was the inspiration for many stereotypical wizards, by way of Gandalf. The giant hat was to obscure his one-eyedness.
  • Rock Monster: Trolls are sometimes depicted in a stone variety. For example John Bauer's painting The Child and the Stone Troll. Normal Scandinavian/Norse trolls also turns into stones in sunlight.
  • Sacred Hospitality: Together with generosity, hospitality was considered the one of the most important factors when measuring the integrity of a man.
  • Sadly Mythtaken:
    • As the German states were unified into one nation in late 19th century, they figured that they lacked their own national mythology. So they adapted the Norse mythology while celebrating everything Nordic (which was a reason why "The Twilight of the Gods" was so popular). Eventually, the celebration was bastardized into the unfortunate race ideology that the Nazis was all too glad to adopt. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, both of whom were very fond of Norse mythology and no fans of the Nazi regime, complained extensively in letters to each other that the Nazis had no idea what the were talking about whenever they talked about Norse myth.
    • Dungeons & Dragons for whatever reason turns Sif into Weak, but Skilled Action Girl in Deities and Demigods sourcebook. The concept went further that she appears in TV Tropes as BFS wielder at some points.
    • The Ring of the Nibelung starts out by making Brunnhilde into Odin's daughter (she wasn't) and making Thor, Frey, and Freya into his siblings-in-law (not even close). It isn't all downhill from there, but it's pretty rocky.
  • Scars are Forever: And when they are the gods, that's really forever. Both Odin and Tyr suffer under this (they miss an eye and a hand, respectively). By some accounts, Loki retains the scars from when the dwarves sewed his mouth shut.
  • Trickster God:
    • Loki is a troublemaker at best and destructive trickster at worst, he cut off Sif's hair and killed Baldur with mistletoe for no other reason than to amuse himself.
    • A literal example is Ratatoskr; a squirrel determined to destroy Yggrasil by ferrying insults between Níðhöggr and the unnamed eagle. These insults would enrage them and form a rivalry that would make them attack each other; Níðhöggr would destroy the tree roots so it would fall on the eagle, whereas, the eagle would cut off the tree branches to drop them on Níðhöggr.
  • Sea Monster: The standout example is Jörmungandr, the Midgard Serpent, a Sea Serpent so huge it encircles the whole world.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: A lot of things done in an effort to prevent Ragnarok or at least make it less disastrous only serve to ensure that things occur as fated. Odin in particular is guilty of this, as his mystic wisdom gives him glimpses of the future, but only imperfectly. For instance, he imprisons Loki's three monstrous offspring, Jormungand, Hel and Fenrir, because he foresees the threat they will eventually present, but in so doing, he ensures they have reason to fight him when they eventually escape.
  • Serial Escalation: Freya is the most beautiful woman in the world (being a goddess of love is an advantage). Enter Gerd, Frey's jötunn wife, who is the most beautiful woman in the world, which should make her more beautiful than Freya. And that is not mentioning Baldur, who was the most beautiful man in the world, being a god of love, and all.
  • Slasher Smile: Some tellings comment that after having his lips un-sewn, Loki was left with a "Glasgow smile" which in "Loki is evil" stories serves as his Red Right Hand.
  • Spell My Name with an S:
    • The names of many beings and places typically have two letters that aren't found in the English alphabet. These letters are Þ/þ (thorn)note  and Ð/ð (eth)note  but other letters, such as the ash (Æ/æ), are also present.
    • The grammatical way that Old Norse marks noun cases has led to confusion over the spelling of certain names. Is it Fenris or Fenrir? Bald or Baldr (or Baldur or Balder)? Originally, it would have depended on whether the name was the subject of the sentence.
    • The translations into different languages (e.g. Old Icelandic, Old English/Gaelic, or Norwegian, etc.) further alters name spelling. Odin's name alone could be Ódin, Oðin, or Wóðan.
  • Stellification:
    • As part of their compensation to Skadi for their slaying of her father Thjazi, the Aesir gods turned his eyes into stars.
    • In the Prose Edda, Thor mentions how he carried a certain Aurvandil the Bold in a basket on his back when wading home from Jotunheim across the streams of Elivagar ("ice-waves"). One of Aurvandil's toes was sticking out from the basket and froze stiff; Thor broke it off and hurled it into the sky, where it became a star called Aurvandil's Toe. (There is no other information on Aurvandil, or why he had to be rescued from Jotunheim.)
  • The Stinger: The last part of Völuspá describes a new world after the resurrection of Baldur, which sounds peaceful enough. Then it ends with a description of Nidhoggr with a corpse in its jaws, flying through the air...
  • Stupid Evil: In Lokasenna Loki claims that he was responsible for Baldr's death (whatever he actually was guily of that depends on if you interpret Loki's claims in the poem to be true). In any case, it does not end well for him.
  • Summon to Hand: The Mjollnir does this sometimes.
  • Supernormal Bindings: The gods had the dwarves create a magical chain called Gleipnir to bind the mighty wolf Fenrir. To make Gleipnir impossible to break (at least until Ragnarök), it was made of six impossible things: the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish and the spittle of a bird.
  • Symbolic Mutilation: Odin sacrificed one of his own eyes (giving up sensory knowledge) to drink from the well of wisdom (gaining mystical knowledge).
    The fact that Odin specifically sacrificed an eye is surely significant. In all ages, the eye has been “seen” as a poetic symbol for perception in general – consider the astonishing number of expressions, both in everyday usage and in the works of the great canonical poets, that use vision as a metaphor for perceiving and understanding something. Given that Odin’s eye was sacrificed in order to obtain an enhanced perception, it seems highly likely that his pledge of an eye symbolizes trading one mode of perception for another.
  • Tempting Apple: The Golden Apples of Immortality, tended by Idunn; the gods literally need them to stay young.
  • Tempting Fate: Baldur. Seriously, you've got a prophecy of death in a world where You Can't Fight Fate. Something would kill him, no matter what anybody did.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Odin has a truly remarkable one, when he sacrifices himself in order to gain knowledge of magic. He is hung from an ash tree, pierced by a spear, and left to hang there for nine days. The god he's sacrificed to is himself.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Anytime the giants challenge the gods:
    • Many insist on fighting Thor in a direct fight despite his reputation as one of the strongest beings alive with the ability to shoot lightning at his opponents, and who spends his spare time hunting giants.
    • On the wit side, some giants challenge Odin, a god renowned for his wisdom, in contests of questions and riddles. Odin usually wins such contests by asking a question that only he knows the answer to.note 
    • In the story where Thor lost his hammer and dresses like Freya to steal it back, the giants are so uninformed about what Freya actually looks like that they fall for the disguise and end up getting killed the moment Thor gets his hammer back.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Baldur. The only Norse god (the goddesses were all more or less decent people) that never did anything morally ambiguous. So of course he's the first one to actually die, and his death acts as a sign that the end times are approaching for the Norse gods.
  • Too Much Information: Frigg's response to Loki and Odin's bickering over who had the most perverse history.
  • Tragic Bromance: Two minor figures from the legendary Norse sagas, Örvar-Oddr and Hjalmar.
  • Trickster God:
    • Loki is acknowledged as the god of mischief in modern times, having earned his titled due to his skills at shapeshifting, his silver-tongue and propensity for pranks. He flip-flops between Karmic Trickster and The Prankster depending on the story.
    • While many in modern times forget this, Odin is arguably just as much of a trickster as Loki, using disguises and clever half-truths to accumulate the highest net-gain, a heavy contrast to the general War God attitude the rest of the Aesir have made. What makes Odin different from Loki however is 1) Odin is one of the highest authorities among gods and thus is able to avoid scrutiny, and 2) he knows how to pick his battles.
  • Trickster Mentor: Odin, occasionally.
  • Trope Makers:
    • Most of the standard "dragons and dragonslayers" tropes originally derive from either the Völsunga saga or Beowulf.
    • Long after the first occurrences of dragons and their slayers: Smaug is a Norse in-joke. It's also worth noting that the name the Norse gave to the world in which they lived, Midgard, means "Middle Earth" (literally, "Middle Protected Area").
  • Two-Faced: Hel. In many stories, the left half of her body is beautiful, the right half is either aged and decrepit or skeletal. Could count as Fridge Brilliance as well: the decrepit side could be the "reality of death" aspect, while the beautiful side could be the "nothing to be afraid of" aspect.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: The hideous jötnar (giants) occasionally have beautiful daughters. Naturally in stories involving them they get seduced by Norse gods. Odin (or Thor) was the usual culprit. The guy really got around, although not to the same extent as Zeus.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Sindri/Eitri and Brokkr, the dwarven blacksmiths who forge Thor's hammer Mjölnir.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Odin's horse had eight legs.
  • Volleying Insults:
    • Two of the Poetic Eddas (Harbardsljoth and Lokasenna) consist of pretty much nothing but this.
    • The squirrel Ratatoskr spends much of his time running from the top of Yggdrasil to the bottom and back, carrying insults between Nidhogg (who gnaws on the lowest root of the tree) and an un-named eagle who dwells in its uppermost branches.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Lots of supernatural beings have this ability, but Loki in particular is known for changing into just about anything in the pursuit of his mischief. Including, most notably, a mare which ends up getting impregnated. Odin is also known for disguising himself, but in more subtle ways.
  • War Is Glorious: So glorious that fighting for untold ages is considered heaven. It's helped by the fact the warriors are all resurrected every night for drinking and partying. The days of endless fighting served as training for Ragnarök, when the einhärjar would be called upon to do battle with the followers of Surtr.
  • The War to End All Wars: Ragnarök.
  • Warrior Heaven: Valhalla may be the Ur-Example, as a place where the bravest warriors were brought by the Valkyries to eat, party, and kill each other every day for all eternity until Ragnarök. Also Fólkvangr, which be summed up as "Valhalla for lovers."note 
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Baldur was invulnerable to everything except mistletoe. In the version recorded by Saxo, however, it was a sword named Mistelteinn (Mistletoe) that could only be found in the Underworld.
  • The Weird Sisters:
    • The sacred Well of Urd is guarded by the three chief Norns (goddesses of fate) by the names of Urd ("fate"), Verdandi ("happening") and Skuld ("destiny"). The guardians of the Well of Urd are consistently referred to as "maidens", although Prose Edda (in "Gylfaginning") specifies that Skuld is the youngest of the three.
    • Valkyries, the supernatural women who determine who is going to die in a battle, are distinct from but related to Norns, insofar they too govern a (very specific) kind of fate. Valkyries frequently come in groups of three or multiples of three.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Odin's brothers Vili and Ve helped in creating the world (i.e., killing Ymir) and mankind, then they just disappearnote .
  • White-and-Grey Morality: Downplayed. The Aesir are generally seen as good beings, even though they can be Jerkasses at times. Although the Jotnar are often enemies of the Aesir, their personality in general is not described clearly so therefore it is hard to tell if they are totally evil.
  • With Friends Like These...: You would think that, after a while, the Aesir would actually figure out that perhaps Loki could use some help. No wonder he turned against them eventually. Though Loki does kind of screw with the other gods a lot, so it's not much of a wonder why they don't.
  • Wizard Classic: Stories of Odin wandering the lands disguised as a simple traveller serve as an Ur-Example.
  • Womanliness as Pathos:
    • Women often are frith-keepers, or keepers of peace/security. However, their priority was to their kin, and they would ensure that vengeance was enacted whenever their kin had been harmed. Women, then, are often the source of drama and suffering, galvanizing their husbands into enacting vengeance. In these instances, their husbands are typically portrayed as more peaceable, lazy, or even feckless. A specific example would be Gudrun from The Saga of the Volsungs, who cannot revenge her murdered husband because her brothers are the murderers, but she can justifiably kill her next husband for her brothers' murders.
    • Thor is notably protective of his wife, Sif, who is exceptionally beautiful. In one myth, Loki cuts off Sif's beautiful golden hair as a prank, leaving her distraught. This would have ended with Loki dead by Thor's hand had he not promised to get her new hair forged by dwarfs. This particular event leads to the origins of other mythical artifacts like Odin's spear Gungnir and Thor's hammer Mjolnir.
  • World of Badass: Because being such will get you to Warrior Heaven.
  • World of Ham: As with the previous trope, this is exactly what happens when you take the stories of vikings and write them down primarily as epic poetry.
  • The World Tree: Yggdrasil, which is the Ur-Example and Trope Codifier for it.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Gerd, Freyja. World's Most Beautiful Man: Baldur.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: The gods decided against killing Skadi while she was invading Asgard, since it was considered an act of nīþ (dishonour) to hurt a woman. However, that did not stop Thor from killing Thrym's daughters after he got his hammer back. Nor did it stop him from breaking the spines of two other giantesses. The latter was in self defense and not intended but he showed no remorse for it. Odin also berates Thor for fighting she-wolves but Thor insists it was necessary.
  • You Cannot Change The Future: Everything (not just prophecy) is foreordained. How many steps did Thor take in the Gotterdammerung? It's written on a skein somewhere, weaved by the fates.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Odin's line from the Poetic Edda:
    Cattle die, kinsmen die, we ourselves also die; but the fair fame never dies of him who has earned it.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • As in all myths, every prophecy is inescapable. Mind you, this includes virtually everything that actually happens in the stories, including the forthcoming destruction of the gods.
    • Some retellings of Loki's role in Baldur's death use this to explain Loki's actions. After devouring the heart of a witch with the power of prophecy, he saw that he was destined to suffer a horrific punishment at the hands of the other gods before dying in Ragnarök. Since Loki knew You Can't Fight Fate, he figured he might as well do something to earn that punishment and make the other gods suffer.
    • Frigg, in fear of her son dying, attempted to give him invulnerability, but he still died.
    • Most of the gods' tragedies are deliberately provoked by themselves. Or else, they justify most of their illogical decisions (like sparing Fenrir's life, despite knowing how dangerous he would become). Odin threw Jormungand into the sea, imprisoned Fenrir in bindings made of literally impossible things, and banished Hel. Unfortunately, it resulted in the snake growing bigger unimpeded, gave Fenrir a reason to kill Odin, and allowed Hel to create an army of undead. Thor attempted to kill the Jormungandr by fishing it, but failed even then.
    • Valhalla is basically Odin's boot camp to train the finest warriors as Asgard's army come Ragnarok, and everyone will take the field and fight to their last breath to try and stop the end of all things. They know they're doomed, they know they'll fail, but they will not stop trying.
  • Your Size May Vary: The giants in general. It might just be easiest to say that they come in all of the sizes and be done with it.

Alternative Title(s): Germanic Mythology