Anthropomorphic Personification

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"You are utterly the stupidest, most self-centered, appallingest excuse for an anthropomorphic personification in this or any other plane!"
Death berating Dream in The Sandman
"He Who Fights Monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you."
—Friedrich Nietzsche

The living (roughly humanoid) embodiment of a fundamental abstraction. They are typically god-like in power, but have a much narrower focus. Athena does many things; Death only one. In non-magical series they resemble a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, but unlike them are an intrinsic part of the workings of the universe.

Good & Evil and Order & Chaos come in pairs. A universe that has one will usually have both. Some have all four.

Other less fundamental concepts can have an Anthropomorphic Personification, such as fear and panic, as can nations and geographical features.

This trope is Older Than Dirt, and maybe even as old as religion itself. Expect mortals in these settings to be Pals with Jesus or Enemies with Death. Killing or imprisoning one of these concepts to discover The Problem with Fighting Death, it's not a good idea to mess with the beings embodying the Magical Underpinnings of Reality. Sometimes if you kill one of these entities you end up replacing them.

This is very common in anime series, when various items come to life usually becoming completely human like creatures who seek to fulfill purpose which they had while being in item form, or taking revenge on humanity which disposed them.

The character often has Omnipotence over what they personify.

Definitely not to be confused with Funny Animal.

A Super-Trope to Moe Anthropomorphism.

Elemental Embodiments typically do the same thing to "elements", such as Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, Light and Darkness.

Examples of Anthropomorphic Personification include:

Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Commercials for a feminine product feature Mother Nature surprising women with their "Monthly Gift".
  • The Chiffon Margarine commercials from the late sixties and early seventies featured Mother Nature being fooled into thinking Chiffon was butter after tasting it. "It's not nice to fool... Mother Nature!".
  • In one Halls cough drop ad, the personification of Winter - an old man, gets tackled by the personification of the cough drop - a football player.
  • Kool-Aid Man has, in the past, acted as the AP of refreshment—arguably, anyway—when in order to give him some justification for all his property damage, the advertising introduced what was unmistakably the AP of thirst: Scorch. A Kool-Aid ad campaign in the '90s involved a contest for which kids procuring a map and watching the commercials for clues to where Scorch was hiding.
  • Allstate gives us the anthropomorphic personification of mayhem.


Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Ballad of a Shinigami and Death Note both feature central characters who are Shinigami, the Japanese equivalent of Grim Reapers, though the two series portray them quite differently.
  • Binchou Tan is about a group of Anthropomorphic Personifications of various natural substances and phenomena, all of whom appear as cute Japanese children.
  • In the Macademi Wasshoi world it is possible to personify any item (or it can personify itself) if the item collects some magic power. In fact, Falce's power is to turn items into living spirits.
  • The manga Fullmetal Alchemist had personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins whose names reflected on their appearances, personalities and powers. Lust took the form of a sexy woman, Gluttony could eat anything, Greed wanted to have everything he could, etc.
    • Interestingly, it's later revealed that they are quite literally the "sins" of Father given form. Which explains why he refers to them as "my avarice" or "my wrath", etc.
    • In the anime, although the characters had those names and those qualities, they weren't actual personifications of anything. They were artificial humans created through alchemy. The names and personalities may have been a theme of their creator, but they don't actually represent these sins.
    • The entity known only as "the Truth" describes itself roughly as the personification of everything: "I am the world, or the universe. I am all. I am one. And... I am you." Some characters refer to it as God, but it is better understood as the personification of Truth: harsh, unforgiving, and immutable.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia, as mentioned in the trope write-up, follows the Anthropomorphic Personifications of various countries through history, complete with National Stereotypes. For example, Germany is strict and ruthlessly efficient, America is an obnoxious, clueless Love Freak with a hero complex, Japan is a stiff and privately a bit of a Yamato Nadeshiko and Covert Pervert, Russia is huge, completely fucking insane and loves Vodka, England can't cook, and so on.
    • However, it should be noted that they're not completely made out of stereotypes. For example, while you would expect England to have a Stiff Upper Lip, he is actually a Tsundere Woobie Covert Pervert. History and economic/military strength also play a large role.
    • This might be explained by the fact that individual countries have different stereotypes for each other, I noticed the Anime section of Stiff Upper Lip is surprising lacking in examples, perhaps there's a reason...
  • In Getter Robo, it's explained that everything has a conscience - the elements, time, space and so on, with Getter Robo itself being the living embodiment of evolution.
  • Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea has the Grand Mamere, the anthropomorphic personification of the ocean.
  • "Mecha Musume" is a form of anime fanart in which a vehicle, is drawn as a cute girl essentially wearing parts of the vehicle in question. such as wearing a Humongous Mecha as Power Armor, or a World War II-era fighter as wings with the tail as boots and the main fuselage over one arm. The series' Strike Witches and Sky Girls are based on this idea.
  • In Hellsing Seras has a dream in which she meets the Anthropomorphic Personification of her cannon, Hakonnen. Alucard has a familiar dream but his gun, Jackal, apparently couldn't decide which famous actor or assassin he should be personified, so he dropped the idea and manifested himself as two eyes and voice.
  • The original Clown in the Soul Eater manga claimed to be the personification of insanity (specifically, the product of Asura's massive, maddening soul wavelength). It induces hallucinations in anyone within close proximity to it. The series does have Grim Reaper characters but they're not strictly shown to be personifications of death (perhaps closer to psychopomps due to their soul collecting, by proxy in Shinigami's case).
    • The Great Old Ones appear to be this, though what they personify - aspects of human madness - isn't yet clear. What we do know is that they count Eibon, Asura, and Shinigami (and Kid by extension) in their number.
      • Shinigami and Death The Kid are personifications of Order, not death, though in Kid's case it manifests as an OCD towards symmetry.
  • In Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei's Karakuridouji Ultimo the titular 100 Karakuridouji robots were created to see which force was greater - good or evil. As such, there is a team of Evil Doji based on the Seven Deadly Sins, and a team of Good Doji based on Buddhism's Six Perfections. The leaders personify good and evil - Ultimo and Vice.
  • In Now and Then Here and There, a popular fan theory (partially backed up by Word of God) is that Lala Ru is the personification of water, or even Earth itself.
  • The anime Sentou Yousei Yukikaze has a spin-off in which the various fighter aircraft in the story are represented by cute girls.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh GX has Darkness...the personification of well, Darkness.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica Goddess!Madoka is the anthropomorphic personification of hope.
  • In Kara no Kyoukai, Ryougi Shiki's alternate personality is the personification of Akasha, the origin of everything. Simple version? God


Comics[edit | hide]

  • The Marvel Universe has loads of these. Lord Chaos, Master Order, Eternity, Infinity, Oblivion, Anomaly, Despair... They even have Anthropomorpho, of the "dimension of forms", where they pick up physical forms to manifest themselves within the regular universe, making him the living embodiment of living embodiments.
  • The DCU has them too, the most famous being Neil Gaiman's "The Endless"; Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium. Note that this version of Death is not The Grim Reaper, being instead a cute, Perky Goth girl who appreciates the value of life as far as her calling permits (Dream is the grim, brooding one...). At one point, when Dream is being particularly emo, Death shouts the page quote at him.
    • There's also the Black Flash, anthropomorphic personification of death for speedsters (or maybe of the Speed Force), who takes the form of a zombie-looking guy in a black Flash costume.
    • Lots of the New Gods function as anthropomorphic personifications as well. Mister Miracle is freedom, Metron is knowledge, Highfather is leadership, Darkseid is despotism, Desaad is cruelty, Granny Goodness is child abuse, and so on, and so forth. They even have their own Death personification, the Black Racer.
      • When the New Gods were reborn in bodies of other beings, Black Racer possessed Black Flash, creating a personification of Death to both speedsters and New Gods.
    • One non-Sandman comic tried to Retcon the existence of multiple personifications of Death by claiming Death of the Endless was "the peaceful death that comes to the righteous", and distinct from hostile, threatening forms of Death like the Black Racer. Neil Gaiman was extremely offended by this and responded directly by having his Death give a speech in a comic explicitly declaring that she represented the death of all living things, everywhere, without exception, and that she would eventually bring about the end of the universe itself.
      • Given the existence of Black Flash and Black Racer, this means that either she's been hiring subcontractors or she likes Cosplay and has a couple of less nice alternate personae.
      • Actually, it is repeatedly shown that the Endless appear different to those who behold them. For instance, when the Martian Manhunter sees Dream, he sees a huge screaming fireball that his people worshiped as a god. When Dream is talking to Bast, he appears as a cat person. It is entirely possible that the perky goth is just the facet of her that most humans see, and Black Racer is one that the New Gods see because it's more convenient for her to look that way to them.
    • Along these lines, Gaiman's Endless have explicitly been permitted to alter their personalities over time in order to match different aspects of the concept they embody. Gaiman's Death really was once a cruel, callous Grim Reaper figure - still a beautiful girl in appearance - who reveled in the fear and revulsion living beings had for her, though this immature period of her life took place eons ago, in prehistoric times.
      • One of the realizations from this comic is that Death is shown to have a more flexible personality than her younger brother, Dream, who (at the conclusion of the Sandman series) was shown to be incapable of accepting change. One can infer that this older version of Death became more life-affirming at some point after she was made to take mortal form once every century (as seen in the spin-off series, Death: The High Cost of Living).
    • The lost Endless, Destruction, explicitly abandoned his post in order to explore the possibilities of the flip side of the coin, creation. Also, they definitely don't take the same form to all beings. Humans see the Endless as humans; nonhumanoids generally don't. This is not unusual among Anthropomorphic Personifications. After all, a squid's idea of "personification" isn't going to agree with a human's. Dream appears to cats as a big, black cat. Of course, technically those aren't anthropomorphic personifications.
    • One Sandman story featured the anthropomorphic personifications of stars, specifically the suns of solar systems. In addition to our sun Sol (who is an awkward teenager of only a few billion years), there's also Rao of Krypton (a red giant), and the green sun of Oa, the Green Lantern Corps' home planet.
    • A DC anthology book called World's Greatest Superheroes contains stories having some of their biggest names essentially representing virtuous things: Superman as peace, Batman as justice, Captain Marvel as hope, Wonder Woman as truth.
    • Legion of Super-Heroes has the villain Time Trapper, personification of the theory that there's only one, unchangeable future. In one story they get rid of him by summoning Infinite Man, personification of theory that there's infinite possible futures and make them fight.
    • Green Lantern's enemy Nekron, Big Bad of Blackest Night, is not the Anthropomorphic Personification of death, as many people believe; but of the cold, dead cosmic void and absence of life (yes, there's a difference). But there is a(nother) personification of death in Nekron's servant Black Hand. And Black Hand is one of several Energy Beings that personify the emotional energies that the Green Lanterns and similar corps draw power from: the others embody rage (the Butcher), avarice (Ophidian), fear (Parallax), willpower (Ion), hope (Adara), compassion (Proselyte), and love (the Predator); and an embodiment of life that includes all emotions.
    • In Shazam Captain Nazi claims to be this for, well, Nazis.
  • In Jack of Fables, "Literals" are embodiments of literary concepts. Revise embodies censorship, Bookburner embodies forgetting and destroying stories, and the Pathetic Fallacy is an embodiment of the pathetic fallacy, with the ability to bring inanimate objects to life, making him a sort of anthropomorphic personification of anthropomorphic personifications. They recently introduced Eliza Wall, the youngest of four siblings, which makes her the Fourth Wall
  • As a child, Usagi Miyamoto once freed Aki-onna, the anthropomorphic personification of autumn. The monster who imprisoned her was trying to stop winter from coming.
  • The Goddess of Britpop turns up in one story arc of Phonogram.
  • The Wildstorm Universe has the 'Century Babies', which include Jenny Sparks, the anthropomorphic personification of the 'spirit' of the 20th Century. Her state of mind mirrors that of the 'spirit' of the current age e.g. she suffers depression during the Great Depression, is giddy for most of the Roaring Twenties, becomes much more cynical during the 80s. Jenny Quantum is the 'spirit' of the 21st Century.
    • Axel Brass is the 'Mind' of 20th Century, possibly a personification of science or general use of technology as at the time when he was active, both World Wars had happened, but right after he got damaged and forced to guard a dangerous device in order to not let anybody use it to destroy the world, the Cold War had begun. Eliah Snow is the 'Ghost' of 20th Century, whatever that's supposed to mean. We don't know what the rest of the Century Babies encountered in Planetary symbolize.
      • The 'Ghost' of the 20th century is probably related to the fact that he lives in the "background" of the 20th century, while working to uncover its hidden mysteries.
    • The Authority also encountered Rose Tattoo, Spirit of Murder, who was transformed by the Doctor into the Spirit of Life, only to later return to her original form.
    • Actually, the 'Century Babies' have been reincarnated every 100 years only recently, and would change more often before, to suit the change in times. Though, given that society has changed more in the last 100 years than other time periods of 1000 years...
  • In one Ampney Crucis Investigates story, a group of contaminated souls ripped out of the afterlife attempt to create a physical embodiment of war.
  • Newspaper cartoonists sometimes represent the new year as a newborn baby (and sometimes the old year as an old man) when producing cartoons to mark the turn of a new year.
  • In previous decades, national personifications were often used in political cartoons, with their interactions giving a summary of the artist's opinion or interpretation of then-recent international occurrences - for instance, this cartoon portraying Germany's reaction to the formation of the Franco-British alliance. Most political cartoons these days, however, opt to depict national leaders instead, though political parties still find themselves personified, at least in the US.
  • Carrying on from the above, DC Comics has an Anthropomorphic Personification Captain Patriotic, Uncle Sam, the Spirit of America. According to his backstory, Uncle Sam has previously been known as Minuteman during The American Revolution, then became Brother Jonathan between then and The American Civil War, was split into Billy Yank and Johnny Reb during that war, and became Uncle Sam afterwards. He was also briefly the space-helmeted Patriot, but we don't talk about that. Interestingly, the reason America has an Anthropomorphic Personification but most other countries don't is actually explained- he isn't a natural phenomenon, but, rather, the Founding Fathers specifically created him with a magic ritual to help with the Revolutionary War.
  • Also in DC Comics, Kismet aka Ahti aka Sharon Vance aka Strange Visitor is the personification of the entire universe, similar to Marvel's version: Eternity. In fact, in JLA-Avengers, the two fell in love.
  • The final arc of Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol dealt with the Candlemaker, at first thought to be one of Dorothy Spinner's more sinister imaginary friends. Turns out he's actually the personification of mankind's fears of nuclear holocaust. Yeah. Shit got real.


Fairy Tales[edit | hide]

Fan Fics[edit | hide]


Film[edit | hide]

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas features the Anthropomorphic Personification of Halloween trying to take Christmas from Santa Claus; several other Personifications make cameo appearances. The villain is the personification of a holiday that everyone but him has completely forgotten about (apparently bug-themed) according to the Expanded Universe.
  • Death in Meet Joe Black is one of the endless examples in which it takes human form.
    • Actually, he takes the appearance of a man who recently died. We never see what Death actually looks like.
  • Sam, the Creepy Child in Trick 'r Treat, is the personification of Halloween. And probably also a Physical God.
  • Hexxus, the avatar of pollution, from Fern Gully resembles an anthropomorphic cloud of oilsmoke with tendrils of tar connecting his upper and lower jaws
  • According to director Ridley Scott and art designer H. R. Giger, the Xenomorph in Alien is meant to embody the fear of rape.
  • In Tron, there are anthropomorphized programs that live in Cyberspace. Their faces usually look like the users that created them.
  • The title character of Hesher (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is implied to be the personification of a son's emotional turmoil following the death of his mother.
  • The Santa Clause 2 and The Santa Clause 3 featured the Council of Legendary Figures, consisting of Mother Nature, Father Time, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Cupid. Jack Frost joins them in the third movie.
  • The 2012 animated film Rise of the Guardians has personifications of Winter, Wonder, Hope, Memories, and Dreams (some of whom are holiday figures, and others figures of folklore or childhood myth) teaming up to defeat a personification of Fear and Nightmares.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Ender Wiggin from Ender's Game is (arguably) this for the human race: empathetic and yet capable of doing terrible things in the name of survival.
  • The Discworld series has plenty of these too, sprinkled in with the regular gods. In particular, Death is a main character of several books, as is his granddaughter, Susan. Other Anthropomorphic Personifications are Time and the remaining three Horsemen of the Apocalypse [sic]. There were originally five Horsemen, but Kaos (who shows up in Thief of Time) left before they became famous. There are also The Auditors of Reality which are portrayed as embodiments of order, bureaucracy, and the mechanics of the universe and are, instead of Death, portrayed as the opposite of life (which they hate). Unusually, these characters are referred to in the story as Anthropomorphic Personifications, and Pratchett is largely responsible for popularizing the phrase.
    • Hogfather, another Discworld novel, centers on what happens when someone manages to bump off an Anthropomorphic Personification. The book also goes into the purpose of such beings; according to Death, minor beliefs and incarnations such as the Hogfather help humans to establish the beliefs in justice, mercy, duty—the things that make them truly human.
    • And don't forget the Lady.
    • In Reaper Man when the Auditors forced Death to retire, a number of other Deaths sprang up to take his place, such as the Deaths of Mayflies, Trees, Fleas, Rats as well as a new one for Humans. When the original resumes his role, he sucks up all the rest except for the Deaths of Rats and Fleas. Additionally, Azrael the Death of Universes is presented as his own superior.
    • Discworld largely plays this trope straight—Death is an Anthropomorphic Personification, born of the theory that 'belief shapes form'; Death isn't a skeleton because of tradition, but because that's what people believe Death looks like.
      • However, in Pyramids, a pharaoh is disappointed that Death doesn't appear as a giant scarab, as per Djelibeibian beliefs. Death wearily explains that he long since gave up trying to match everyone's personal expectations, and settled on the one form that was most common.
  • In Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's Good Omens, Pestilence retired after the invention of penicillin and was replaced by Pollution. Apart from War being a woman, the rest of the Horsepersons of the Apocalypse follow more or less their models from Revelation... except that they ride motorcycles.
    • The book also featured the four 'lesser' horsemen, who were just normal bikers who, after seeing the real deal, decided that being a group of symbolic figures was much cooler than being a biker.
  • Plenty of them in Neil Gaiman's American Gods. For example, we have all the new gods, who represent modern crazes like technology and the media (and slightly older crazes like the railroad). We also have "the buffalo man," who represents America itself.
  • Each book in Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series focuses on the life and career of one Anthropomorphic Personification, and his (or her, or their) relationships with the other Personifications that oversee a strange Magitek variation on our own world. His Anthropomorphic Personifications have an unusual twist, though; they're offices that specific humans hold.
  • Students of Christian literature remember the Anviliciously named characters from John Bunyan's famous allegory The Pilgrims Progress. With its protagonist named Christian and his sidekicks Faithful and Hopeful and such highlights as Christian being evangelized by a guy named Evangelist, saved from disaster by a man named Help, given worldly wisdom from Mr. Worldly Wiseman, tempted by a prostitute named Wanton, attacked by enemies named Envy and Superstition...
  • A more recent example from Christian literature, the Frank Peretti novels on spiritual warfare names almost all of the demons using this trope. But unlike Pilgrim's Progress, This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness are spiritual warfare as thrillers.
  • Several of Simon R. Green's series, including the Nightside and Haven novels, feature entities referred to as "Transient Beings". These entities seem to be Not-Necessarily-Anthropomorphic Personifications, in that some appear human-like while others are downright bizarre, yet they all embody some greater concept or ideal.
  • One Short and Shivery story is about two girls (one kindly, one greedy) who encounter the fairy godfather-like Jack Frost "The Ruby-Nosed". Unfortunately for the greedy girl, Jack is the anthropomorphic personification of winter and the story takes place in Russia. "Come here, and I'll give you diamonds!"
  • Lord Foul from the Thomas Covenant books is the anthropomorphic personification of hatred (or Despite), generally believed to have been born from the Creator's cast-off self-loathing. As the title character has plenty of self-loathing himself, Foul quickly becomes scarily proficient at messing with him in ways that involve varying degrees of horror.
  • Harry Potter has Peeves (and supposedly other poltergeists), who is an embodiment of chaos.
    • Dementors are the personification of depression.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia has Father Time. He's asleep underground, but wakes up at The End of the World as We Know It.
  • While never confirmed, one of the more plausible fan theories about the identity of Tom Bombadil in The Lord of the Rings is that he is the anthropomorphic personification of the Earth itself.
  • James Stoddard's duology, The High House and The False House, features Old Man Chaos and Lady Law. Both of them are Big Bads who want to take over the universe.
  • Almost everybody in The Phantom Tollbooth is a personification of some concept or another. It starts in the Doldrums, where Milo almost gets trapped by incarnations of boredom, continues through the rest of his journey as he meets King Azaz of Dictionopolis and his feuding brother the Mathemagician of Digitopolis and everyone in between, and ends in the Mountains of Ignorance where Milo and his entourage make their way past such monsters as the Triple Demons of Compromise and the Senses Taker to rescue the princesses Rhyme and Reason.
  • In the Matthew Swift series, a major villain of the second book is the anthropomorphically personified Death of Cities. The title character himself is possessed by the "blue electric angels" of the telephone wires in the first book and made the mystical guardian of London in the second book, arguably making him a twofold Anthropomorphic Personification of sorts.
  • In The Darksword Trilogy, The Fool Simkin is eventually revealed to be a personification of Magic.
  • In the novel Rivers of London newly trained Police Constable Peter grant has to contend with the Personifications of the Thames and it's tributaries. More sinisterly the Big Bad is Mister Punch Personification of Riot and Rebellion.
  • In the Virgin New Adventures Doctor Who novels, some of the Eternals (beings considered Sufficiently Advanced even by Time Lord standards) have taken the role of Anthropomorphic Personifications. The main ones seen in the books are Time, Pain and Death; the Doctor is Time's Champion. Former Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain the Monk from the television series had served as Death's Companion in the New Adventures.
  • A Christmas Carol features "Want" and "Ignorance", mankind's creepy children.
    • Also, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Christmas Present claimed to have over 1800 brothers, one for each year since the birth of Christ.
  • Robin Goodfellow in An Elegy for the Still-living claims to be an anthropomorphic personification of the Trickster Archetype, sort of a universal soul of all tricksters. From the same work, Masoch behaves rather like an anthropomorphic personification of death.
  • The Fae Queens in the Harry Dresden books are, among other things, the Anthropomorphic Personifications of Summer and Winter. The reader is told that a change in the balance of power between them would affect the world's climate, and on two occasions in the series, winter becomes longer and more severe due to their intercession.
    • Demonreach is Genius Loci. But certain characters have indicated that the island creature might be something more.
  • The Palm Wine Drinkard features a number of (physically undescribed) personifications: Death, Drum, Song, Dance, Laughter, Earth, Sky.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Doctor Who, the Fourth Doctor dealt with the White Guardian, Anthropomorphic Personification of order, and the Black Guardian, Anthropomorphic Personification of chaos. Seemingly, the White Guardian functioned as the Dungeon Master, guiding the Doctor and his companions on a quest to get the Key to Time, while the Black Guardian tried to trick and corrupt them. However at the end the Doctor realized the Black Guardian had been impersonating the White Guardian all along.
  • An embodiment of Death appeared in the Torchwood episode "Dead Man Walking".
  • Dead Like Me is about a Quirky Miniboss Squad of Grim Reapers.
  • Even Professional Wrestling has had a couple of examples: WWE wrestler The Undertaker is made out to be an Anthropomorphic Personification of death, though how much of this is actual supernatural power and how much of this is simply theatrics and mind games tends to vary with the tone WWE is taking at that time. A more bizarre example is Goldust, who, when he first debuted, was portrayed as a strange sort of Anthropomorphic Personification of movies. Then they decided to turn him into just a creepy, possibly-gay dude who liked to quote movies and run around in gold facepaint.
  • We do not talk about the Melty Man.
  • In Supernatural, the Four Horsemen (in addition to their rather unpleasant traditional duties) happen to wear the keys to Lucifer's prison as jewelry. It's implied that, except for Death (who claims to be possibly older than God himself and says he will eventually reap Him) their power actually resides in the rings, opening up the possibility that their roles might conceivably be passed along to someone else.
    • This is confirmed when Death tells Dean that he wants him to take his job for one day, and the only way to do that was to put on his ring. Ostensibly this was to teach Dean a lesson about the natural order of things and why Death hates the angels and demons who mess around with it on a daily basis (especially Bratty Half-Pint Lucifer).
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The First is basically the very idea of evil itself.


Music[edit | hide]

  • The fact that "The Dirty Glass" by the Dropkick Murphys is a breakup song addressed to a pub is obscured by the fact that the pub not only sings back, but actually has the first word.
  • "Homecoming" by Kanye West is a love song to Windy, essentially the anthropomorphic personification of Chicago.
  • The fat giant killed by The Guy in Music's "Land of Confusion" video is either Anthropomorphic Personification of big corporations, industry, economy, rich elites, Greed or just all of it, people still discuss that matter.
  • The Vocaloids are the Anthropomorphic personifications of software. Specifically, each one represents a particular voice synthesis program designed for the use of singing. They take the form of Ridiculously Human Robot Idol Singers.


Radio[edit | hide]


Religion and Myth[edit | hide]

  • The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelations are often treated this way. If a series has a Death, the rest will probably show up in at least one episode.
  • Japanese Mythology is utterly ripe with these, along with a number of other Asian cultures.
  • Several minor Greek gods, called daimones, are largely abstract personifications of concepts such as fear, strife, mercy, hubris, insolence, battle-cries, tumult, and good reputation.
    • Thanatos (death), Nyx (night), and Hypnos (sleep/dreams) are referred to as being the living representations of what they champion, they're forces older than even the titans, and feared as such, even by the Olympians.
  • Egyptian Mythology includes names and sometimes images of deities which represented, or at least whose names mean, such things as joy and plenty. Several objects used, perhaps ritually, by the Pharaoh were personified and deified, such as his beard.
  • Hindu Mythology has Shakti/Devi represents Power that the various gods possess. Shakti is always shown as feminine. There are several stories that feature one or more Gods channeling their energy to create a more powerful female god. See creation myths around Kali and Durga.
  • Also, Hindu Mythology is ripe with several minor deities that represent concepts, Agni for Fire, Pawan for air. Probably, these were the first deities that the Hindus prayed to, and their myths got merged with other Gods as they emerged. Agni is particular holds a special status because of the use of fire in sacrifices. Agni is considered to be responsible for bringing sacrifices from the physical plane to the astral plane, and hence is invoked many times in rituals.
  • Roman Mythology has the goddess Roma, who's the personification of Rome itself, later on embodying the Roman state as a whole.

Sports[edit | hide]


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In the Nobilis (Back in print in a third edition, though only in PDF format for now), the Player Characters are Anthropomorphic Personifications, and powerful ones at that: the core book contains helpful hints on what happens should one of the players decide to re-locate New York City, shoot down the Sun, or unleash a viral version of their personality capable of infecting the entire planet... and those things aren't even very difficult.
  • In Mage: The Awakening, the Astral Realms are seen as the home of the anthropomorphic personifications of individual, human, and universal concepts. Includes beings such as the daimons (the personification of an individual's desire for self improvement), the goetic demons (personifications of dark, repressed feelings and desires), every god ever worshipped, and the most powerful beings in the Realms, the Aeons (the personifications of the fundamental magical facets of reality). Among the most memorable personifications are Anubis, Death (most popularly taking the form of a scythe-wielding skeleton, a faceless cloaked and hooded figure, or an attractive woman dressed in black (possibly inspired by Death of the Endless)), Martians, typhonides (personifications of humanity's self-destructive tendencies) and the personification of teenage rebellion (often appearing as James Dean).
    • In the New World of Darkness in general, spirits are Anthropomorphic Personifications of things... although sometimes for very loose definitions of "anthropomorphic."
      • Geists of Geist: The Sin Eaters are part ghost, and part Anthropomorphic Personification of some aspect of Death. This allows them to overcome some of the limitations ghosts usually have in the New World of Darkness... and also causes them to overlap with spirits—the book goes into this briefly, but ultimately decides it's unimportant since Sin-Eaters don't really deal with spirits.
    • Changeling: The Lost has it that The Fair Folk gained power by managing to make Contracts with concepts such as dreams, beasts, stone, death, and the edge of a blade (how these are different from spirits is never really explained, but it's likely a matter of the crazy-ass fae mindset). The founders of the changeling Great Courts—Mother Susan, Sam Noblood, Clay Ariel, and Snowflake John—managed to use this to their advantage by making various deals with the seasons for protection from the Gentry.
    • The Umbra of the Old World of Darkness was inhabited almost entirely by spirits of things or concepts, from huge, powerful ones like Luna (Anthropomorphic Personification of the moon and everything that goes with) through weaker but still impressive types like Stag (Anthropomorphic Personification of deers, obviously, but also mythically connected concepts like male virility, the hunt etc) down to fairly pathetic ones like the Anthropomorphic Personification of that pebble over there.
  • Dungeons and Dragons had (along with gods, who were often in some sense Anthropomorphic Personifications themselves) entire species dedicated to concepts. Usually the Nine Alignments (From Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil: Archons, Guardinals, Eladrin, Modrons, Rilmani, Slaadi, Baatezu, Yugoloth, Tanar'ri).
  • D20 Modern features a class of enemy known as "Platonics", creatures of Shadow who are the embodiment of an allegiance or ideal. They typically work behind the scenes, promoting their causes without making their natures known. A platonic of Healing would work as a cancer researcher, for instance. But if you manage to get a Platonic angry... Well, you're going to have some trouble...
  • Many of the Nightmares from Don't Rest Your Head are Anthropomorphic Personifications of the worst sort, embodying concepts ranging from unfeeling bureaucracy, to hatred, to sleazy journalism. The fact that they're mostly humans transformed by severe insanity only makes it worse.
  • The Archangels and Demon Princes of In Nomine are, for all intents and purposes, Anthropomorphic Personifications. They all but embody the concepts they and their servants try to promote and see reality through that lens.
    • There are also lesser angels and demons that personify concepts that fit under the sphere of influence of the Archangel or Demon Prince they serve, for example the Archangel of Lightning (which also encompasses technology in addition to its' literal meaning) is served by the Angel of Networks, and the Demon Prince of Fire is served by the Demon of Explosives, who is served by the Demon of Unexpectedly Short Fuses.
  • In Gestalt: The Hero Within, a campaign setting for the Champions roleplaying game, every single superhero and supervillain on the planet (including the Player Characters) is an Anthropomorphic Personification of one concept or another (from Acting to Zoology, and pretty much anything and everything in between), and possess powers and abilities appropriate to their concept.
  • In Exalted, The Primordials exist as personifications of certain defining themes or concepts, which they incorporated into Creation in multiple ways. Likewise, each Primordial possesses souls that act as personifications of qualities or expressions of their Primordials (and each of those souls have other souls that act as the same for them). For some examples, you have Cecylene, who established the laws of Creation; She Who Lives in Her Name, tellingly titled "The Principle of Hierarchy"; and the Ebon Dragon, the incarnation of dickery.
    • The Incarna fit too, being the Anthropomorphic Personifications of the Sun, the Moon and the five closer planets.
  • The Titans in Scion would fit in this trope, being Light, Darkness, Water, Fire. etc.
  • In Unknown Armies, each member of the Invisible Clergy is one of these, personifying a sometimes simple, sometimes complex idea of what a human being can be. The very concepts of things like The Fool, The Mother and The Trickster (among others) are represented by ascended mortals in the Clergy. Really abstract conceptions of non-human things (Good/Evil, Elements, Animals, Geographical Things, etc.) do not have similar representation. It's a very human-centric cosmos.


Toys[edit | hide]

  • Even Transformers, of all things, has these, though mostly in the comic continuities. The most noteworthy is Vector Prime, one of the thirteen original Transformers and the legendary guardian of Space and Time, whose job it is to keep the timestream flowing, resolve temporal paradoxes, and suchlike. He fares rather worse in a fight than most anthropomorphic personifications. Another of the original thirteen, The Fallen, is entropy personified. His true name was taken away from him after he betrayed their creator, Primus, to side with his enemy, Unicron, leaving him known only as "The Fallen". Unlike Vector Prime, the Fallen is portrayed as exceedingly powerful.
  • Milky Way and The Galaxy Girls is based on humanized versions of the solar system.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Cosmos and Chaos from Dissidia Final Fantasy are Good and Evil Personified as Gods. Their appearance also reflects this, Cosmos is a blonde woman white that sorta glows, while Chaos is a big ass demon surrounded by fire. Sadly neither of them tend to do much for most of the game aside give orders to the Heroes or Villains. Though Chaos serves as the final boss for the heroes, Cosmos does not do the same for the Villains.
    • This is actually an aversion. Chaos isn't so much "evil" as fatalistic & bored. Cosmos is definitely good, but they're actually supposed to be incarnations of—well, cosmos & chaos. Even then, it's stated at the end that the forces will continue to exist even if they do not.
      • A better example would be Zeromus, from FFIV. He's the incarnation of hate given form after the man behind the curtain dies.
  • Many examples in Runescape.
    • The Queen of Snow and Queen of Sunrise are personifications of winter and spring respectively. The former once tried to make the world stay in winter because she cannot comprehend the beauty of spring.
    • Death is, well, the personification of death.
      • The 2011 Halloween event the simply packed with these. Death apparently joined up with Pestilence, War and Famine to form a clan, and held the event involving Beauty and Fame.
    • The gods: Guthix (balance), Saradomin (order), Zamorak (chaos), Armadyl (peace), Bandos (war).
      • The Menaphite Pantheon: Tumeken (sun), Elidinis (water), Amascut (destruction), Het (health), Scabaras (isolation), Apmeken (sociability).
  • Dark Genie and Dark Element from the Dark Cloud games are personifications of hate.
  • Pretty much every Big Bad in the Persona series is a representation of some evil that exists within mankind, considering the game's emphasis on the human mind this is understandable. Particular emphasis on the "destructive and creative side" of Jung's collective unconscious - each has its own personification in Nyarlathotep and Philemon.
    • The Arcana Shadows of Persona 3 are the reversed form of the first 12 major trumps in Tarot personified. Death, the 13th major trump, is personified by Nyx.
    • There are also the Shadows from Persona 4, which represent what their respective characters would rather not have anyone know about.
  • Sheogorath from the The Elder Scrolls series is a rare good-guy personification of chaos. Granted, though, he is the god of madness, so it's not surprising that he would fill this role.
    • Sheogorath only comes across as good in the Shivering Isles expansion to Oblivion. Other games clearly depict him as dangerous and a psychopath. (The Dark elves refer to him as one for the four pillars of the house of trouble) Even the Shivering Isle shows he's but a hair away from killing you for no reasons. The main reason he comes across as good is because he attempts to teach you an Aesop on how both order and chaos are necessary in the world, and that too much of either makes the world a very dreary place.
      • He's known as a pillar of the House of Troubles because he opposed the opportunistic Tribunal gods who gained power through abuse of the Heart of Lorkhan, most likely angering all of the Daedra in some way. Varieties of Faiths in the Empire (in-game book) cites that worship of Sheogorath is quite widespread in Tamriel. He even descends in the Mantellan Crux just to greet the protagonist of Daggerfall.
    • He's pretty much Chaotic Neutral, of the insane and not entirely in control of his actions bent. He appears somewhat good because he is usually on the protagonists side. Which makes sense seeing as in at least the last 4 games you're doing his work as an agent of incredible upheaval and change. Shivering Isles is obvious you're working for him. In Daggerfall you create a 12(13?) way time paradox, in Morrowind you break the very hidebound and orderly Tribunal Temple's power and in Oblivion your actions lead to stopping the Lawful Evil Dimension Lord Mehrunes Dagon from turning the world into a boring fire and brimstone hell and to the downfall of the Lawful Good Empire of Tamriel when the last in the imperial line dies. You're everything a chaos god could want.
    • Actually, every god in The Elder Scrolls in an Anthropomorphic Personification of something, and a good chunk of the lore is how they interact, and how some personify more than one thing. For example, Auriel/Alduin represents Time as a consuming force (with the third aspect of Akatosh being Time as an Everlasting Force) and Lorkhan/Shor as Space. Auriel also embodies invincibility and legitimacy while Shor is human endeavor. They do not get along.
  • Get a mental picture of the Anthropomorphic Personification of slapstick humor in the form of a 2-D sprite. Now, click here. They look the same, don't they?
  • Lately it appears that most Legendary Pokémon, especially ones introduced in later games are taking on these sorts of roles.
    • An example is the Lake Trio from Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, personifications of Emotion, Willpower, and Knowledge.
      • Sinnoh's Dragon trio is essentially time, space, and antimatter. Cresselia and Darkrai are also dreams and nightmares. Arceus is hinted to be god.
  • Blick Winkel in Ever 17 is the personification of the perspective of the fourth dimension. Which means that mostly he just chills out and watches interesting stuff that happens in our world. If you can get his attention, he's capable of using his host's emotions to give himself the emotional drive to use time travel and pass messages. It's unknown if he's really anthropomorphic but his only appearances are in the form of a young boy. He's also possibly the future self of said boy, and also possibly retains the form when reverting back to a non corporeal form as everyone recognized him when he was no longer in Hokuto.
  • Moe Moe Niji Taisen features the moetan versions of World War Two tanks and planes as cute girls who invoke Defeat by Modesty via Clothing Damage.
  • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and its sequel Radiant Dawn the society worships a goddess named Ashera and is in fear of an evil goddess sealed in the titular emblem. As it turns out, Ashera is the embodiment of Order, while the sealed goddess, Yune, is not evil, but the embodiment of Chaos. Neither is intrinsically good or evil, they are, after all, Order and Chaos. In the past, heroes fought with Ashera against Yune, because she was trying to spread chaos, but in the present, its reversed, Yune assists the heroes in stopping Ashera, who wants to freeze the world into perfect stillness, order.
  • In Earthbound, Giygas isn't even an anthropomorphic personification, he IS evil. Not just an evil being, but evil itself.
    • One of Giygas' titles is "The Literal Definition of Fear".
  • Due to its extensive Rule of Symbolism, Silent Hill was bound to cover this trope. Perhaps the most potent examples are Pyramid Head, who represents frustrated sexual urges, and Valtiel, who represents a woman's primal fear of an obsessive stalker.
  • Eien no Aselia has a somewhat strange example in the last enemies you face in the game, which are Eternity Swords given humanoid form. Eternity swords are not normal swords and appear to be sort of mystical or cosmic in nature.
    • And even before that the swords, when taken together with the spirits who wield them, are still rather close to being personifications. E.g. Team Mom Esperia's weapon is called "Devotion" and the hero wields "Desire". (The game has H-scenes, including a Bad End where he is consumed by his sword and attacks everyone.)
      • The game also subverts this trope with Nelie. She is a Genki Girl, despite wielding the sword "Silence".
  • Let's not forget Scythe from the Fable series, a personification of Will (the raw form of magic) and ai to Theresa for some odd reason.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic II, Darth Nihilus is a Humanoid Abomination that personifies Hunger. He feeds on the life force of those he faces, and his entire goal is to devour all life in the universe to satiate his endless hunger.
  • Angra Mainyu from Fate Stay Night. Some poor shmuck from a village in the middle of nowhere was chosen to bear all of the sins of the rest of humanity and tortured and killed so that the rest of the village could feel better about themselves. This technically met the qualifications of becoming a Heroic Spirit, but said villager was, quite fairly, annoyed at humanity after what he had gone through, and he ended up corrupting the Grail with his wish and turned it into an Artifact of Doom. Nice Job Breaking It, Villagers.
  • It is revealed in the Darksiders series that War and his horsemen brothers Death, Strife, and Fury, aside from being the harbingers of the apocalypse, once belonged to a race of beings that were APs of their names.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Black Battler and Eva-Beatrice are those to the theories about their respective characters being the culprits.
  • Parsee from Touhou Project has essentially become the Anthropomorphic Personification of jealousy.
  • Kantai Collection, also known as Kancolle features various World War II ships, especially those of the Imperial Japanese Navy, as anthropomorphic girls.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • A Moment of Peace: There are gods personifying in-between places, trust and betrayal, and stories.
  • Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire: The "Storm of Souls" arc centers around a match between two champions who become the personifications of Chaos and Balance.
  • The "Holiday Wars" arc of Sluggy Freelance is about Bun-Bun murdering his way through a long list of Anthropomorphic Personifications of various holidays - starting with Easter and Groundhog Day, working his way up through Halloween and Thanksgiving, before facing off against his archnemesis, Christmas (in the form of Santa Claus, of course).
  • The Sins is a Web Comic following the antics of the personification of the Seven Deadly Sins. Vices and Virtues also feature occasionally.
  • Sacred Pie features the personifications of Order and Chaos. Order wears white and Chaos wears black, but don't let the colors fool you; neither of them are what you might call "good".
  • Circumstances of the Revenant Braves has evil spirits called "vices" that are essentially personifications of various kinds of negative personality traits, such as apathy or deception.
  • Indefensible Positions features Robert E. Lee as the avatar of Chaos and Ulysses S. Grant as Order, the existence of other avatars is speculated on but never confirmed. However Lee suggested that Debbie may be a minor avatar of bliss
  • Jack uses anthropomorphic personifications of the Seven Deadly Sins (including the titular character, who is not only The Grim Reaper, but the personification of the sin of Wrath), based on what the characters did while they were alive. Being a Furry Comic, in this case they not only can they be "confused with Funny Animals", they are Funny Animals.
  • In Sonichu, the eventual Big Bad of the series turns out to be Count Graduon...a living breathing high-school graduation. No seriously. The writer was upset that he didn't receive an award for his artwork at his graduation—or any award at all—so he created Graduon. Over five years later.
  • Life and Death, of course.
  • Periodus, with one for every element on the periodic table. Gah.
  • Grayling features the personifications of death, life, order, and chaos, among others, as its main characters.
  • Scandinavia and The World is a webcomic about the Scandinavian and Nordic lands(Not necessarily the countries, as certain islands are considered cast members despite never being independent nations) As well as their interactions with other countries.
  • A Beginner's Guide to the End of the Universe personifies humanity as—who else? -- The Everyman.
  • Questionable Content has one that Jeph drew for the 8th anniversary
  • In Homestuck, every universe is a giant frog that the Dersite agents call Bilius Slick. And the Big Bad Jack Noir is the physical manifestation of the cancer that's plauging the kids' universe.
  • Taylors Polynomials personifies mathematical equations, including polynomial and trigonometric functions.


Web Original[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • One of Rankin/Bass Productions' famous stop-motion Christmas specials, The Year Without a Santa Claus, features "Heat Miser" and "Snow Miser," Anthropomorphic Personifications of hot weather and cold weather respectively, who were shown to be the sons of another Personification, Mother Nature, and were later dusted off for the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy song "Heatmiser". Another special required Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to save the Anthropomorphic Personification of New Year's Day. And Santa Claus himself can be considered the Anthropomorphic Personification of Christmas.
  • The South Park episode "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes" includes the Anthropomorphic Personification of Wall-Mart itself, in the form of an elderly man who claims to be able to take any form he wants, though this mostly involves putting on different pieces of clothing, and ripping off his mustache to show his "true form."
    • Although he's intended as a parody of Christmas Specials, Mr. Hankey is the manifestation of non-denominational holiday celebration.
  • The Daria episode "Depth Takes a Holiday" finds Daria and Jane solicited by the teenage incarnations of Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day to try and convince Christmas, Halloween, and Guy Fawkes Day to return to the "Holiday Island High School" they were exiled from.
  • Father Time and Mother Nature were regulars in The Smurfs.
  • In "Spring for Strawberry Shortcake," Spring Is Late, so Strawberry and her friends go looking for it. They find it in the form of a young girl, but not before also meeting (naturally) Old Man Winter.
  • Danny Phantom has a few: Fright Knight represents Halloween, Clockwork of Time, Nocturn of Dreams, Vortex of weather, and Undergrowth of nature.
    • And Technus for technology, Skulker for the hunt, and the Box Ghost for... boxes.
  • The Avatar in Avatar: The Last Airbender is the spirit of the planet the series takes place on born into human form. There are other Anthropomorphic Personifications; most notably, The Ocean Spirit and The Moon Spirit (Sokka's ex-girlfriend).
  • Much like TRON, Re Boot is set inside the world within your computer. As a result most of the characters are an Anthropomorphic Personification of different programs and functions which the user takes for granted. Of special note are the viruses, especially Hexadecimal who self titles herself as The Queen of Chaos.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season three had a three-part arc involving characters known only by their titles, the Father, the Daughter, and the Son, they are the anthropomorphic personification of, respectively; The balance of the force, the Light side, and the Dark side.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic has Discord. His body is literally made up of mismatched limbs and he's described as "the Spirit Of Chaos and Disharmony".
  • Aladdin: the Animated Series has many of these. Most notable are Mirage as "Evil Incarnate" and a one shot character called Chaos. Chaos also mentions another one:

Chaos: I never liked fate. Predestination goes against the grain. Besides, he cheats at cards.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Anonymous is the Anthropomorphic Personification of Evil or Chaos depending on who you ask, or as the mood takes them. They are Exclusively Evil by choice and do everything For the Evulz. As anyone in Anonymous will tell you, if it can be labeled it can be hated. Nothing is sacred, and the more pure something is the more satisfying it is to corrupt it. (Possibly they are the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Internet.) They've put away pedophiles and randomly crashed websites and fight against Scientology, all for the lulz. Alternatively, Anonymous be the anthropomorphic personification of anonymity. This quote from Encyclopedia Dramatica best sums up Anonymous:

As individuals, they can be intelligent, rational, emotional and empathetic. As a mass, a group, they are devoid of humanity and mercy.

    • "The disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning of feelings and ideas in an identical direction by means of suggestion and contagion, the tendency to immediately transfer the suggested ideas into acts; these, we see, are the principle characteristics of the individual forming part of the [Anonymous]. He is no longer himself, but has become an automaton who has ceased to be guided by his will."
  • Cassia is the goddess of Chess.
  • In the Middle Ages, the Church invented Synagoga and Ecclesia. Synagoga was the anthropomorphic personification of Judaism (from the Church's point of view). She wore a blindfold and a broken crown, and held a broken staff and a pair of tablets. Ecclesia was the anthropomorphic personification of Christianity, and stood proudly with a shiny crown and staff.
  • According to the 1978 Spanish constitution, the King of Spain is also the personification and embodiment of the country.
  • The United States has several:
    • Uncle Sam is the personification of The United States Government;
    • Columbia is the personification of the United States of America and her people. (Or least she was until she became a movie studio mascot.)
    • The US also has Lady Justice (blindfolded statues appear on many courthouses) and Lady Liberty, although these are technically the embodiments of their appropriate concepts. Lady Justice (or Justitia) with a set of scales from her left hand (for measuring the strengths of a case's support and opposition), her being blindfolded (symbolizing the unbiased court), and carrying a double-edged sword in her right hand (symbolizing the power of Reason and Justice, which may be wielded either for or against either part) goes back to the Ancient Greek. Lady Liberty graces the Capitol building with a headdress made of a resting eagle.
  • Britannia, the anthropomorphic personification of the peoples of Great Britain, and the once and future British Empire.
  • Political cartoons love playing on relationships between national personifications. In early Canada, where political cartoons were the best way to spread propaganda, the personification of the Lady Canada had a My Beloved Smother in Britain, and Abhorrent Admirer in America, and a Disappeared Dad in France, who often played Meddling Parents with Britain. The provinces were often seen as her bickering children.