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Western Animation / Hilda

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"Such is the life of an adventurer."

Life is an adventure and
I will take you by the hand
And show you what I see and understand.
Hilda, "The Life of Hilda"

Hilda (alternatively titled Hilda: The Series in online marketing) is an animated fantasy adventure series distributed by Netflix. It was adapted from the Eisner-award nominated graphic novel series of the same name and produced by Britain's Silvergate Media (later known as Sony Pictures Television – Kids) and Canada's Mercury Filmworks, with original author Luke Pearson as showrunner. The series marks the first production by Silvergate Media to be targeted for older audiences.

The series follows the eponymous Hilda (Bella Ramsey), an 11-year-old blue-haired girl with a knack for befriending the magical creatures that populate her world, who must learn to make friends with humans as well after circumstances force her and her mother (Daisy Haggard) to leave her childhood home in the wilderness for the walled city of Trolberg... but that doesn't necessarily mean the end of meeting more of those supernatural critters, now does it?

The first season, released on 21 September 2018, consists of 13 episodes, adapting 4 of the 6 published books with a healthy dose of Adaptation Expansion in between. The second season premiered two years later on 14 December 2020, one episode adapting the 5th of the 6 books. When Sony Pictures Television acquired Silvergate, it was announced that a 85-minute movie special was in production which would adapt the 6th book, Hilda and the Mountain King, and was released on December 30th, 2021.

Despite the graphic novel series coming to an end with a total of 6 books, as well as "The Mountain King" being the last book to be adapted, Luke Pearson expressed a desire to continue the series. A third and final season, as announced by Ako Mitchell on Twitter and officially by Silvergate Media is currently in production, taking place after "The Mountain King". It is set for release on Netflix on December 7th, 2023, with the first two episodes premiering at the Ottawa International Animation Festival on September 21st, 2023 (the fifth anniversary of the show's premiere). The final season is planned to consist of 7 episodes (as opposed to 13 like the other two seasons) and a 70-minute film. It's also planned to have a more focused and ongoing narrative unlike the previous two seasons (which were mostly episodic in nature) according to Luke Pearson.

Follow updates on the show here.

The novelization of the series has its own page.

This show provides examples of:

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  • 20 Minutes into the Past: While the show first aired in the 2010s, the show itself seems to be set in the late 80s or at the very latest the early 90s. Cellphones are non-existent (in "The Storm", Johanna had to call Hilda from a phonebooth), Frida has a computer in her room, but she is the only one and the internet doesn't seem to be a thing since the protagonists always go to the library when they need information. In "The Eternal Warriors," David is shown listening to music using a portable cassette player, rather than an MP3 player or other digital device more common to the 21st century.
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Played straight as of Season 2.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Hilda attempting to find anything that could potentially discredit Erik Ahlberg is set up to be a recurring plot thread throughout Season 2, but after a failed attempt in "The Draugen" and a brief mention in "The Witch", it's never brought up again.
    • While it does lead to bouts of significant character development, the aftermath of Frida's falling out with Hilda and David in "The Ghost" is mostly pushed to the sidelines. She does apologize to them in "The Black Hound", though said apology is about her hanging out with the Marra more than their initial fight, which is resolved largely offscreen.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In "The Fifty Year Night", Hilda investigates a mystery involving her neighbor Mr. Ostenfeld, who is voiced by Play School legend Derek Griffiths. In a scene in Mr. Ostenfeld's flat, there is a cuddly toy of Humpty, one of the toys from Play School, sitting on the sofa.
    • In "The Witch", after being accused of trespassing, Hilda tries (and fails) to claim to The Committee of Three that she is a witch based on her use of magic in "The Tide Mouse". Hilda is voiced by Bella Ramsey, who had previously played the witch student Mildred Hubble in CBBC's adaptation of The Worst Witch.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • For season 1, episodes 1 and 2 are based on Hilda and the Troll and (mostly) The Midnight Giant, episode 3 is based on The Bird Parade, and episodes 12 and 13 (plus Hilda's Sparrow Scout initiation at the start of episode 4) are based on The Black Hound. The episodes in-between are newly written stories.
    • Season 2, the season finale is adapted from Hilda and the Stone Forest, and a few scenes from that graphic novel (like Hilda getting grounded) are incorporated into other episodes of the season, but otherwise the season is entirely filled with new stories. A Time Passes Montage early on in The Stone Forest shows single panels of various implied adventures Hilda has, some of which serve the basis for entire episodes in the adaptation.
  • Adapted Out:
    • A minor elf character named Tomas appeared in the graphic novel version of The Midnight Giant, but his role was given to Alfur in the cartoon and novelizations.
    • In Season 2, the season-wide absence of the Great Raven effectively removes him from the adaptation of The Stone Forest. His role in the graphic novel is collectively assumed by Frida, David, and Gerda.
  • Adaptation Induced Plothole: The last two episodes of Season 1, which adapt Hilda and the Black Hound, keep the subplot about Hilda failing to get any Sparrow Scout badges. However, this contradicts "The Lost Clan", which contains an animated series-exclusive story in which Hilda, David, and Frida succeed in gathering a Blue Nettle for their botany badge.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: In the graphic novels, Hilda joins the Sparrow Scouts and meets David and Frida in Hilda and the Black Hound. This story was split over three episodes, with multiple new stories in between, for the animated series. David and Frida are introduced in episode 2, and Hilda befriends them when she joins the Scouts in episode 4, but the other characters introduced in The Black Hound (including the Nisse and the Hound) don't appear until episode 12.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the comic books, Hilda is confrontational, a bit of a brat, and even more overconfident. In the series, Hilda is much nicer, kinder and friendly.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Both Hilda and her mother get something of an overhaul, making them less confrontational and more compatible with each other's personalities.
  • Adults Are Useless: Usually played straight, leaving Hilda and company to accomplish most of the heroics on their own, but fortunately, the series has its fair share of reasonable authority figures, like Johanna, Kaisa, or Tildy. It's justified by Hilda often being resistant to the idea of involving adults, normally believing she can handle things herself. Whether she's right or not tends to vary, and she has been called out on this.
  • Alien Geometries: In "The House in the Woods", Hilda and the Woodman end up in a magic house that gives them everything they desire, but doesn't want them to leave. When they try to escape anyway, the house starts adopting alien geometries in order to keep its prisoner's captive, like forming rooms with stairs going in all directions (and a door in the floor), and an attic door that leads straight back to the living room downstairs.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: Twig, despite being a deer fox, very much acts like one, including barking, whining and defending Hilda as a dog would.
  • All Trolls Are Different: One of the first magical creatures seen in the show and among the most recurring. They're dormant rock formations with long noses during the day and only animate at night. The city of Trolberg has a history of conflict with them and have tools and plans to repel or counter them, which led to the city building a massive wall around it. How much of a threat they really are varies depending on when and how people approach them. Pretty much everyone tries their best to keep their distance, including Hilda, as they are still capable of crushing an unsuspecting person.
  • Alternate Continuity: To the graphic novels; a lot of elements carry over in the adaptation, but are combined with new stories and characters having expanded roles (like David and Frida). The Tie-In novels are also this to the animated series, with the episodes they adapt occurring in a different order and again by adding new scenes. Thus, the Hilda-franchise currently has 3 continuities.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Due to the Law of Conservation of Detail , many of the magical creatures will have large gaps in their origins. note 
  • Ambiguously Absent Parent: Hilda's father is never seen or even alluded to, but it is made clear that her mum is a single parent of some description. note 
  • Amnesia Danger: In "The Bird Parade", due to getting hit by a rock, The Great Raven can't remember any of his powers, or even how to fly. This becomes a problem when he is accosted by cats and Trevor.
  • Androcles' Lion: A flashback reveals that Hilda first met Twig when she rescued him while he was trapped under a pile of rocks. He repaid the favor by saving her from falling off a cliff, sacrificing his chance at being with the rest of his kind.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of the comics.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Hilda's friends Frida and David have their roles expanded from the graphic novel.
    • Alfur, the elf who approached Hilda, gets a lot more screen time here, traveling to Trolberg with Hilda to make reports on it.
    • Tontu, the Nisse that lives in Hilda's home, becomes a supporting character after the end of the first season.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: David gets distracted by a cool rock while holding the rope while Hilda descends underground to save Frida.

  • Bait-and-Switch: Season 1 seemed to be setting up that Hilda could become a witch, with her love of magic and adventure. Hilda even considered herself something of one after performing the Tide Mouse Spell. In Season 2 though, Hilda and Frida meet actual witches and they find out it takes more than just casting a spell or two to be considered a witch. Witchcraft is more about knowledge and study than spell casting. Hilda's interest in magic begins and ends with "doing cool stuff". It turns out Frida is the one capable of becoming a witch thanks to her love of studying.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: In "The Nightmare Spirit", when Hilda and Frida catch up the the mysterious girl, Frida tells Hilda to stop while she's tying a knot on a rope to climb down a wall. Hilda inteprets this as Frida telling her to stop tracking the mysterious girl, but it turns out she just wanted to recommend a different way to tie the rope.
  • Batman Gambit: In "The Draugen" Hilda knows that provocating the weather spirit will cause it to rain heavily, which would summon the Draugen.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In "The Tide Mice", Hilda uses a spell to make sure that David and her mother achieve their goals. However, she never read the whole thing and ends up finding out that the Tide Mice are actually part of a spell to steal the souls of the people whose wishes they grant.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Several episodes end this way:
    • "The Midnight Giant": Despite managing to reunite Jorgen with his lost love and having the Elf King allow her family to stay, Jorgen accidentally destroys Hilda's house, prompting Hilda and Johanna to move to Trolberg.
    • "The Storm": Hilda has managed to put an end to Victoria's operation and save the city from being buried six feet under, but she is now stranded in the wilderness and the status of her friendship with Frida remains uncertain.
    • "The House in the Woods": While she's unable to keep the copy of Frida's book, Hilda comes out of the ordeal with the realization that through all the ups and downs, Trolberg has indeed become her home. The Wood Man also admits that he considers her a friend, but not before giving her some food for thought in how you never truly leave your old homes behind.
    • "The Black Hound": Hilda fails to earn any merit badges, and her role in dealing with the titular hound go mostly unrecognized, but Johanna makes it clear that she is proud of Hilda anyway and recognizes her good deed. Also, Jellybean and his owner have been reunited, Tontu now lives at Hilda's house, and the kids are all friends again, but the main characters don't realize that Jellybean and his owner made it out of Nowhere Space safely.
    • "The Windmill": Victoria ultimately reveals herself to have not changed one bit and disappears to who knows where — and as far as Hilda and her friends know, she's as good as dead. However, they do get solace in seeing the windmill be left to the local wildlife.
  • Black Comedy: After David loses his head (because touching an amulet made him a Fearless Fool), Hilda and Frida manage to reattach it... backwards. Sigurd then kills him again so they can put his head back on correctly.
  • Blessed with Suck: In "The Tide Mice", Hilda uses an echantment from a magic book to summon magical mice to help David sing well and Johanna get a job she loves. This turns out amazing but goes awry when David and Johanna begin showing side-effects of the enchanment, such as their eyes turning white or mysterious steam releasing from their head. These both mean that their soul will be taken over, unless Hilda completes a disenchantment ritual.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Any characters who are hit with the weapons of the Viking Clans have glowing wounds that don't seem to allow blood to come out. This is handy because the show would be a lot darker otherwise.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Like The Fair Folk of lore, while many supernatural creatures Hilda encounters are friendly enough, most have their own internal values and motivations that are very different from that of humans. The best Hilda can do is try to understand what they want and reach a compromise that benefits all parties, even if they don't always understand one another.
  • Blunt "Yes": In "The Troll Rock", when Hilda asks David if she is being disruptive in school", he replies with a simple "Oh yes", much to Hilda's exasperation.
  • Bookends:
    • The first episode, "The Hidden People", ends with a fade-in transition from the final scene to the credits. The third episode, "The Bird Parade", ends with the same transition, as does the final episode of Season 2, "The Stone Forest".
    • Season 1 both begins and ends in the same place, overlooking Hilda's destroyed cottage.
  • Breather Episode: "The Yule Lads" is a decidedly frivolous Christmas Episode following the emotional rollercoasters "The Fifty-Year Night" and "The Deerfox."
  • Call-Back: In "The Midnight Giant", when Hilda stumbles upon the she-giant and talks to her, the giant doubts Hilda's real, and asks whether she isn't just "a voice in her head". This a call-back to the previous episode, where Alfur, an elf, (to whom Hilda is similarly a giant), sneaks into Hilda's room and talks to her, and Hilda also asks him whether he isn't just a voice inside her head.
  • Camera Abuse: After Trevor's mother scolded her son for not wanting to keep away from Hilda and even pulling his ear, he kicked up snow right into the camera out of frustration.
  • Canon Foreigner: Victoria Van Gale, Kaisa, and the Marra (among others) are series-exclusive characters.
  • Casting Gag: Hilda is a fearless, take-charge girl who goes her own way but knows when to take responsibility. Sounds a lot like Lyanna Mormont!
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Downplayed. Season 2 is a tad bit darker than the first season, featuring non-graphic death, non-graphic child death and significantly higher stakes compared to the first season. However, the show doesn't quite go too far into Cerebus Syndrome, and still keeps its general tone.
  • Christmas Episode: "The Yule Lads" can easily count as one, as it takes place during the winter holidays, and the creature of the episode is Kertasníkir, a Santa-like character from Icelandic folklore.
  • Citadel City: Trolberg is surrounded by a huge wall to keep Trolls out.
  • City of Adventure: Trolberg functions as this due to Hilda and her friends encountering several supernatural occurrences throughout the city.
  • The City vs. the Country: This is a major source of conflict for Hilda and her mother because she dreads the thought of being forced to move to the city from her idyllic life in the wilderness.
  • Cliffhanger: Season 2 ends with Hilda apparently turned into a troll and Johanna discovering the troll baby in Hilda's bed, leading into the events of Hilda and the Mountain King.
  • Clock Roaches: When Hilda plays matchmaker with Mr.Ostfeld and Tildy in the past, which causes them to get together and grow old in the future, a Time Worm appears, who wants to eradicate everyone from the "old" timeline.
  • Cool Old Lady: In "The Lost Clan" Agnes, and old elf Bragga lady is a fierce rabbit warrior.
  • Cowardly Lion: David shows bursts of bravery on occasion.
  • Commonplace Rare: Hilda gets a lindworm to do her a favor by offering common weeds to add to her garden. They're all over the place in a human town, but the dragon having social anxiety caused her to keep putting off actually going out there to collect anything.
  • Cold Open: Happens in three episodes of Season 1, but happened more frequently in Season 2 as the plot begins to get intense.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Averted. While a catchy, suitably, nice and supple adventurous tune does play in the background, the actual credits are backed by a black screen.
  • Creator's Culture Carryover: The setting is not specified and seems closer to Scandinavia than anything else. However, the show is produced in both Britain and Canada and some aspects of being made there show up.
    • The characters mostly have English accents, which probably has something to do with creator Luke Pearson being English himself.
    • Some aspects things appearing in the show are found in North America but not Europe, including some of the fauna (raccoons, skunks, white-tailed deer, chipmunks), the word "sweater" instead of "jumper", and the electrical outlets.
  • Crossover Cosmology: While most of the creatures are Scandinavian in origin there are a few from other mythologies, such as a Thunderbird (Native American) and Barghest (English).
  • Darker and Edgier: Subtle, but during season 2 there are multiple disturbing casualties and near casualties, such as the Vikings and David under the influence of Sigurd's medallion, multiple time-displaced versions of Hilda, Alfur and Mr. Ostenfeld, a wolf that falls off a cliff to its presumed death, and even a random witch doorman that fell victim to the Void of No Return. Certainly, a step up from Season 1, where the only three implied deaths turned out to merely be swallowed by the Black Hound (but not dead).
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Many of the creatures Hilda encounters are shadowy and intimidating, but all have their own sympathetic reasons for what they do, even if it puts them at odds with Hilda and her friends. Generally, the show's humans and monsters have a lot more in common than they realize, and neither group has a clear moral high ground over the other.
  • Deus ex Machina: In "The Stone Forest" Hilda gets saved just in time by a white woff flying under a cliff when she's running away from a rolling troll rock.
  • Disappeared Dad: Hilda lives alone with her mother Johanna, her father not even being mentioned or seen once in the show.
  • Disguised in Drag / Sweet Polly Oliver: In "The Nightmare Spirit", Hilda and David disguise themselves as the other, so Hilda can sleep in David's bed to confront the marra.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: A downplayed case is brought up in "The Troll Rock"; after Hilda and Frida find out that David unknowingly brought in a Troll Rock, he mentions that he heard a story of a kid who got locked up for fifty years because he willingly brought a troll into Trolberg. While this is understandable, even if harsh, given that the kid brought it in on purpose, and trolls are The Dreaded in Trolberg, after Hilda asks what if it was an accident, it's quickly revealed by David that the punishment for accidentally bringing in a troll is imprisonment for a hundred years, which is significantly harsher than the punishment for doing it on purpose..
    Frida: "They really, really don't want anyone doing it by accident."
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Marra giving Frida a taste of bad dreams might be equated to her being given drugs for the first time.
  • Doomed Hometown: Downplayed, but the cottage in which Hilda and her mother live acts as this, with its destruction forcing the move to Trolberg.
  • Evolving Credits:
    • The opening credits shows Hilda running through different scenes depending on what she, along with her friends and family, will be facing this season.
    • The most significant change is that the montage, before the logo, ends with Hilda and her Mum, Johanna. In Season 1, Mum is seen smiling and spins Hilda around. However, in Season 2 the new opening features a concerned Johanna as she struggles to keep up with Hilda and fails to catch her in time when she falls, only for a white woff to fly Hilda to safety. This can easily foreshadow that Hilda and her Mum have a rift and falling out.

  • Enchanted Forest: Hilda's cottage and the city of Trolberg border a mystical forest, filled with enormous trees and forest giants.
  • Extra-Long Episode: Excluding credits, the average episode is 22 minutes long; "The Deerfox" is 30 minutes and "The Stone Forest" is 44 minutes.
  • The Fair Folk: Most of the supernatural creatures Hilda encounters are friendly enough, but they all operate on their own value system and can be dangerous, unpredictable, or just a bother by human standards.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The magical creatures introduced thus far include a deer-fox, giants, elves, rock trolls, a thunderbird, a Rat King, the ghostly Marra, actual ghosts, water spirits, weather spirits, a lindworm, a trapping house, the Nisse, and a Barghest.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: An overarching theme of the first season where Hilda and her friends are sometimes nearly killed or are simply unjustly wronged by the supernatural creatures they encounter simply following their natures. It's capped off at the end where Hilda's original Nisse and the Black Hound stumble across the ruins of Hilda's old house with the Wood Man presiding over the wreckage. When asked what happened, Wood Man replies that it was the home of a little girl who befriended a giant. The Nisse scoffs and derisively states that the girl probably learned her lesson. The Wood Man shrugs and says that "she'd probably do it again."
  • Fearless Fool: Any character who touches Sigurd's Amulet turns into this. The two clans are probably just this by default, though.
  • Fictional Board Game: The game Dragon Panic is an example of this. The game involves a board with 19 hexagon-shaped squares in various colors, blue and red dice decorated with symbols (a heart, a # and a shield), and various pieces like pawns and rocks. The exact rules are unknown though.
  • Forced Transformation: In "The Stone Forest", after being invaded by trolls, Frida wants to use an invisbility spell. She accidentally uses the wrong spell and turns Ahlberg into a bug.
  • For Want of a Nail: Learning that rooms don't just clean themselves makes Frida question her entire life, as she realizes not having to take time to clean her room every day left her plenty of time to study and pursue extracurricular activities. She wonders who and what she would be like if she'd had to spend so much time learning to clean her room every day like everyone else has to.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: All human characters have these, as well as only four toes on their feet.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Pausing at a particular moment in episode 9 "The Ghost" reveals that The Librarian appears to have visible fangs.
  • Girls Have Cooties: In "The Nisse", there's this dialogue:
    Willy: I heard it's a demon who only eats girls.
    Girl: What kind of demon only eats girls?
    Willy: Someone with terrible taste, it seems.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In "The Ghost", David says "flipping".
  • The Great Wall: Trolberg is surrounded by a giant stone wall intended to keep trolls and other hostile creatures out. It doesn't seem particularly effective.
  • Hartman Hips: Most of the adult female characters have them.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: A non-lethal example. A flashback reveals that Twig gave up being with its own kind to save Hilda from falling off a cliff.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters:
    • Averted. While the human and magical worlds certainly may not always get along, the humans in the show always have very sympathetic motivations for what they do. Even in stories where a monster needs to be protected from humans, the humans' fear isn't wholly irrational. A few exceptions to this are Victoria Van Gale, whose motivations aren't exactly selfish, but aren't noble enough to justify what she does; Trevor, who is just mean; and the Marra, who just seem to enjoy the fear of others, on top of being, well... monsters.
    • Season 2 introduces the new head of the Safety Patrol, Erik Ahlberg, who rings a bell at trolls despite knowing that trolls are more annoyed than scared of the sound, because he wants to have a glorious legacy and sees setting himself up as an anti-troll hero as the best way to do it.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode begins with a "the", paralleling the original novels' Hilda and the... title format.
  • Image Song: To promote the show's second season on November 25th, Bella Ramsey wrote and sang a song in her character's voice titled "The Life of Hilda", which explains about Hilda's everyday life as an adventurer.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: The theme tune is an electronic piece with no words.
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • In Season 1, Frida grabs this when she discovers her status as The Pig-Pen, shattering her self-image as The Perfectionist. Not helped when David and Hilda fail to fulfill their promises after constantly reassuring her that they can fix the situation. This causes tensions to rise to the point that their friendship is torn apart.
    • In Season 2, Hilda starts to lie to her mother and becomes more confrontational and ruder when things don't go her way, especially when Johanna puts her foot down.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Wood Man; he's usually quite obnoxious and doesn't respect people's privacy, but he has his nice moments, like giving Hilda and Johanna wood for the fireplace in their new house at the end of Chapter 2.
  • Kid Com: Combined with adventure and drama, the series revolves around Hilda, Frida, and David, with Johanna and other adults as supporting roles, despite Johanna earning more episodes in Season 2.
  • Kidnapped for Experimentation: Mad Scientist Victoria kidnaps a baby weather spirit in an attempt to the control the weather. This lures the other weather spirits there, and wreaks havoc over Trolberg.
  • Kryptonite Factor: Many magical beings such as trolls, woffs, elves and nisse, are badly effected by the ring of a bell, the louder it is, the worse it gets.
  • Last Kiss: The alternate versions of Mr. Ostenfeld and Ms. Pilqvist share one last kiss before they sacrifice themselves to save the timeline.
  • Learning to Ride a Bike: In "The Nightmare Spirit" it is revealed that Hilda never learnt how to ride a bike. She tells this secret to the Rat King, who tells her that the mysterious girl they have been seeing has been causing the nightmares of David. When Hilda challenges the girl, the marra to see if she could get scared by her nightmares, the Marra uses the previous secret to her advantage, and implements Hilda not knowing how to ride a bike in her nightmare. This scares Hilda, and the next morning, she asks her friends to teach her how to ride a bike.
  • Like Mother, Like Daughter: While Hilda and Johanna are very different on the surface, they do have some things in common, as they're both socially awkward, are both talented artists, and can be very resourceful and quick thinking in tight or dangerous scenarios.
  • Lilliputian Warriors: The titular elves in "The Lost Clan" can easily defeat David and tie him down.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Played with; all three main characters have multiple outfits for different occasions, namely their regular daily clothes, their school uniform, their Sparrow Scouts uniform, pajamas, and winter clothes. Within these groups however, there is no variation; they always wear the same attire.

  • Mage Tower: Season 2 introduces the Witches' Tower, which serves as the headquarters for all witches in Trolberg. In a unique twist on this trope however, the tower is built upside down, into the ground, beneath the Trolberg Library.
  • Magical Library: The Trolberg public library is filled with books about magical creatures and the supernatural. It even has a secret room with books for more practical uses. Season 2 further reveals that the entrance to Witches' Tower is hidden in the Library, and that the librarian herself is a witch.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Downplayed, but this is definitely a recurring theme of the series. Certain rare breeds of magical creatures, such as the old giants and lindworms, are being driven from the land by human development.
  • Make an Example of Them: Deliberately bringing a troll rock inside the city walls of Trolberg earns the offender a 50-year prison term. Bringing a troll rock inside the city walls accidentally is punished by a 100 year sentence because the city really doesn't want people doing this by accident.
  • Mega-Corp: The snack brand Jorts becomes a huge monopoly in "The Jorts Incident", to the point where they actively control the media, such as newspapers.
  • Merit Badges for Everything: Subverted. It's a bit of a running gag that Hilda can't get any badges because all the fantastic things she does don't align with any badges.
  • Missed Him by That Much: In "The Bird Parade", Alfur and the Great Raven unknowingly end up at the bearded man statue at which Hilda and Johanna were also going to find the duo, knowing that they'll be there. However, Trevor snatches the raven moments before Hilda and Johanna reach the statue, causing them to miss the two.
  • Monster of the Week: Very much follows this formula. Each episode or "Chapter" will involve Hilda and friends having an encounter or a conflict with some sort of magical creature, although the stories often bleed into each other in a much less episodic way than this trope normally implies.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: Used a couple of different times, such as the Troll that rampages in the fourth episode (turns out that David took its child thinking it was a funny-looking rock).
  • Monster Progenitor: The Old Giants is this to many magical creatures. While not explained in the show, in Hilda and the Midnight Giant it is said that Trolls and Nisses are descendants of a giant who went into hiding rather than leave with the others, and that many others come from a giant so large his beard contained its own ecosystem.
  • Mundane Fantastic: The various magical creatures that exist in this world are treated more as annoying and sometimes dangerous animals than anything remarkable. Many unknown phenomenons are still a surprise to some who discover them, such as ghosts and even time travel.
  • A Mythology Is True: Gives this treatment to Norse Mythology and Scandinavian folklore.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Hilda's mum is never referred to by name in the comics. The animated series gives her name as Johanna.
  • New Friend Envy: In "The Nisse", Hilda and David feel like this when their friend, Frida, makes a new friend named Kelly, a Marra. They even had a secret handshake. Eventually, it becomes clear that Kelly was deliberately keeping Frida away from her old friends to manipulate her.
  • New Weird: The show has a blend of several conventional fantasy tropes used in various unconventional ways. Elves are invisible, paperwork-obsessed Lilliputian Warriors, giants are mostly gone (presumably to space) to avoid stepping on people, and the Nisse are gnomes that live in the Nowhere Space of houses. Spirits in particular take all sorts of forms: there's your basic ghosts, then there are the Marra (Ambiguously Human teenage Nightmare Weavers), some spirits inhabit and shift bodies of water, and some influence the weather. The most notable trait of the show, however, is the way people view them. While they are mostly not ignorant of them, modern society tends to isolate themselves from magical creatures; Trolberg has a wall around it to keep out the rock trolls, and its denizens are mostly averse to the presence of the supernatural (with the exception of Hilda).
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: David is a reserved kid who is meek and cowardly, but also kind and fiercely loyal to his friends (nice), Frida is a bossy perfectionist who, while caring, can be aggressive when her perfectionism is called into question (mean), and Hilda is a well-meaning and caring All-Loving Hero, but prone to being unwillingly inconsiderate to others and bratty when things don't go her way (in-between).
  • No Full Name Given: None of the main characters have surnames.
  • No Name Given: Surprisingly common for the magical creatures that Hilda encounters, with most of them simply never mentioning their names and usually just becoming known by their species.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Erik Ahlberg in season 2 is the new head of the city's safety patrol, but while he does occasionally point out legitimate security concerns, like Vittra tunnels running under the wall being a way that trolls could get into the city, he's a Glory Hound who, in his debut episode, nearly gets himself and Hilda killed by a troll because he keeps ringing a bell despite having read Hilda's essay and thus knowing that trolls are more annoyed than scared of bells.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Hilda resists moving to the big city because she worries she'll never encounter any magical creatures like she does in the wilderness. Sure enough, an enormous bird has perched on the roof of her new apartment by the end of the second episode.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Frida's friend Kelly has the disquieting habit of appearing right behind people - even when they've just opened a door to let her into a house. She's eventually revealed to be a Marra, justifying this ability as actual teleportation.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted in two cases:
    • All Nisse are named Tontu.
    • There are two Abigail’s in Season 2: the captain of the Draugen and one member of the Witches triumvirate.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Much of Season 1 depicts Hilda getting in over her head, due to not thinking about the consequences of her actions or looking before she leaps. In the Season 2 premiere, she becomes the Only Sane Man when touring the city with the Safety Patrol. Hilda even lampshades that she's not used to being in this role.
  • Our Elves Are Different: One of the most recurring magical creatures is a race of elves standing at about two inches high, who are completely invisible to other creatures until they fill out the proper paperwork. They also have an obsession with paperwork that is similar to the Vogons' (although they are more high-functioning about it).
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Ghosts in this show's universe are white/transparent humanoid beings, whose form still somewhat resembles how they looked when they were alive. They have glowing skulls with black eyes and a mouth, and visibly carry their skeletal remains inside their bodies. While their ghost bodies and skulls can phase through solid matter, their bones cannot and thus remain behind if they enter a building. They can only come out at night and must be back in their graves before sunrise. They can absorb objects and people inside their bodies.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Two types of giants have been seen. The first are the size of mountains and gentle but a bit careless. The majority of them left the planet when it became clear humans were tired of them accidentally stepping on their houses. The second are "forest giants" that are "only" the size of large trees, have antlers, and are a bit more obnoxious - or at least, the one we meet is.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: Though only a few are seen, it's implied that there are several species of nature spirits that exist as physical manifestations of their respective elements.
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: "The Hidden People", "The Midnight Giant", "The Bird Parade", "The Tide Mice", and "The Black Hound" in Season 1; "The Windmill", "The Deerfox", and "The Yule Lads" in Season 2.
  • Paperworkaholic: Elves are this by default, since paperwork is the cornerstone of their entire society.
  • Percussive Maintenance: In "The Troll Circle", a Safety Patrol dirigible is struck by lightning because they ticked off some sapient clouds, and starts falling out of the sky. When using the controls fails, the pilot strikes the console out of frustration, which gets it to spark to life briefly. Noticing this, she does it again, managing to get the airship working in time to pull up.
  • Period Piece: The series seems to be taking place between the late '80s and early '90s, going off of the technology we see.
  • Pint-Sized Kid: Hilda is eleven years old, yet she and other kids her age are barely half the size of the adult characters.
  • Power Trio: Hilda, Frida, and David.
  • Pushed at the Monster: At the start of "The Black Hound", when the Hound has Hilda, David, Frida and a group of Marra cornered, Kelly, a Marra who had befriended Frida with the intention to make her a Marra as well, finally shows what a False Friend she truly is and pushes Frida towards the Black Hound as a distraction while she and the other Marra flee the scene. It's only thanks to Hilda distracting the Black Hound with a bag of potato chips that Frida escapes.

  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: David gives one to the marra in "The Nisse" right as the not-so-imaginary beast circles in on them.
    David: What's scary about a sad bunch of creeps with nothing better to do than sit around being nasty about people behind their back?
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: After Mum and Hilda have an argument and Hilda tries to sneak out of the house using the Nowhere Space with Tontu, Mum catches her just in time and tries pull her back. This causes a rift in the Nowhere Space and both Mum and Hilda get transported inside a magical mountain. Being far away from home, they have to work together to get out, and this saves their relationship.
  • Ritual Magic: The only form of Functional Magic that has so far been seen in the show comes from procedures in spellbooks.
  • Running Gag: People pointing out that there's a bug on David.
  • Safety Worst: Erik Ahlberg, who drastically expands the city's anti-troll protocols, and carries a bell knowing that it riles trolls up rather than scaring them away just so he can look like a hero fighting them, which nearly kills him and Hilda in "The Troll Circle" and causes multiple problems throughout Season 2.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • The show has a tendency to linger on wide, panoramic shots of the wilderness - or, occasionally, the Trolberg skyline - and the creatures that inhabit it. The opening of the first episode is almost entirely devoted to showing off the lavish scenery and the creatures that inhabit it.
    • Season 2's "The Deerfox" includes a peek at the natural habitat of the deerfoxes: an ethereal world of light roads and a constant aurora borealis in the background.
  • Scout-Out: The Sparrow Scouts of which Hilda and her friends are members. The Scouts' lodge also fills the role that the school normally would, linking the main trio together socially.
  • Second Chapter Cliffhanger: The first season has a bittersweet ending with Hilda having adjusted to life in Trolberg and Frida successfully mending her friendship with Hilda and David. In the second season, Hilda and Johanna successfully mend their friendship. And then, Hilda is teleported from Trolberg and begins learning what life is like as a troll while Johanna begins her search to bring back Hilda before Erik Ahlberg kills her.
  • Series Fauxnale: Hilda and the Mountain King, which adapts the most recent graphic novel and resolves the cliffhanger ending of Season 2. A third and final season was announced before The Mountain King aired.
  • Setting Update: A mild example. Hilda and the Stone Forest took place partly around the time of the Bird Parade, which is why the Great Raven was in Trolberg during the events of the comic. Season 2, which adapts Stone Forest, takes place closer to the winter, away from the Bird Parade, and the Great Raven is thus absent for the season.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Tontu has a habit of showing himself out before dramatic scenes, notably before Johanna and Hilda's argument at the end of "The Beast of Cauldron Island".
  • The Show of the Books: Of the graphic novel Hilda, also called Hildafolk, written and illustrated by Luke Pearson, who also produced the show.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the season 2 trailer, there's a Viking warrior that wields what looks like a Bat'leth.
    • In "The Troll Circle", Hilda runs by a steam engine that looks just like Edward.
    • David's winter clothing in Season 2 makes him look like Stan Marsh.
    • One of the items Hilda and friends collect for their donation drive appears to be an Atari 2600 controller.
  • Sleep Paralysis Creature: The Marras are young female human-like spirits who haunt streets and houses at night to give people nightmares, inspired by the Maras from European folklore. This illustration used in a book in Hilda S 1 E 6 resembles more closely the creatures of this trope, showing a marra tormenting a man by sitting on his chest.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The Nisse that lives in Frida's house. We only see him once in a brief scene near the end of "The Ghost", but his actions ripple across multiple episodes; he stole a book from Frida, which caused Craigie Williams to stop cleaning Frida's room every night, which in turn cracks Frida's perfectionist image and eventually results in her falling out with Hilda and David, which goes unresolved until the end of Season 1.
  • Spoiler Opening: The opening sequence for both seasons features most of the important characters and mythical creatures that appear throughout the season: Season 1's opening shows Jorgen, the Great Raven, the Vittra, a ghost, the Black Hound, and Tontu; Season 2's shows the Witches' council, the Vikings, the Yule Lads, and the white woff.
  • Spotting the Thread: When Hilda and David switch places in "The Nightmare Spirit", Johanna notices that it's not Hilda sleeping in Hilda's bed, since David is snoring, which Hilda doesn't do.
  • Summoning Ritual: Most of the spells Hilda has used were for summoning creatures. Most notably the Tide Mice, which was followed by a Banishing Ritual when she found out they were stealing her friends' souls.
  • Swamp Monster: "The Eternal Warriors" features a swamp creature called Sigurd; a tall, green, humanoid being whose body is mostly covered in the mud from the swamp. The tie-in book "Hilda's Book of Beasts and Spirits" mentions that Sigurd's race is actually made from mud and vegetation.
  • The Perfectionist: Frida. Though she learns through her friendship with Hilda that she doesn't have to be the best at everything.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Hilda is an adventurous girl who is good at thinking on her feet, but is not very studious. While Frida is an excellent student who loves researching and studying. It's why Frida is chosen to become Tildy's apprentice while Hilda is asked never to do magic again. When told being a witch is all about studying Hilda loses interest and later complains it sucks all the fun out of magic, while that's exactly the kind of thing Frida is interested in.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The Marra definitely count, in more ways than one, being supernatural beings that may or may not be actual human teenagers.
  • Time Skip: A small one of at least a year happens during the epilogue of Hilda and The Mountain King.
  • Title: The Adaptation: Some marketing refers to the show as Hilda: The Series.
  • Trail of Bread Crumbs: In "The Sparrow Scouts", Hilda leaves a trail of sandwich crumbs in the cavern while looking for Frida, lest she gets lost herself.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: The main trio of friends are made up of Hilda, Frida, and David.
  • Uncanny Valley: At the end of Season 2, the troll baby known as Baba is a Moe in troll form, but not so much in human form. She retains her facial characteristics and The Unintelligible Baby Talk, with the nose and flat mouth. This freaks out Johanna, along with the realization that the troll baby must have replaced Hilda and demands to know where her daughter is.
  • Unknown Character: Hilda's grandfather who built the cottage she and her mother live in.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's never specified where Trolberg or the surrounding areas are in the world, though the characters mostly talk with English accents. This might be a Translation Convention, as the setting is otherwise vaguely Scandinavian for the most part, and you can hear some rather Nordic inflections in a few voices.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": Trevor's mom once described Hilda as "a witch in sheep's clothing".
  • With a Friend and a Stranger: David and Frida were already friends for some time before Hilda came along, as they attended the same school and were both in Sparrow Scouts together.
  • Women Are Wiser: Gerda Gustav, Erik Ahlberg's deputy in the Trolberg Safety Patrol, is shown to be more rational and less vainglorious than her superior officer.
  • You Are Grounded!: At the end of "The Beast of Cauldron Island", Johanna grounds Hilda because she lied to her and snuck off, which carries over into "The Fifty Year Night".
  • You Are What You Hate: The Yule Lads are Knight Templars who insist on punishing naughty children, but Hilda finds out that the Lads were, in fact, naughty themselves, and many of the deeds that the Lads ask the kids if they did, such as harassing innocent sheep, are the Lads' own misdeeds.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: The Enchanted Tide Pool Mice take the soul of the person they're created for and give it to their creator after a 30-day trial period. Which category it falls under is unknown because Hilda stops the only two she summoned before the end of the 30-day trial period.

"Well, that was pretty traumatic. But such is the life of an adventurer."


Hilda the troll

Hilda turns into a troll.

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / ForcedTransformation

Media sources: