Bazaar of the Bizarre

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

Hawkers in the market offered to sell me ambrosia-on-a-stick, and a new shield, and a genuine glitter-weave replica of the Golden Fleece, as seen on Hephaestus-TV.

Percy Jackson, The Lightning Thief

An exotic street bazaar from Arabian Nights Days, juiced up on nonsensteroids. All manner of strange, unearthly, forbidden and fantastic items can be found in a Bazaar of the Bizarre. Usually, the rules of a Truce Zone are in effect, and sworn enemies can meet safely there (though arriving and leaving can be tricky). This may just be sacred custom, or may be enforced by Functional Magic or other Applied Phlebotinum.

Often encountered by the heroes early on, to drive home the otherworldliness of a place and establish that anything can happen. If the characters are traveled enough, they may own a small version themselves as a Trophy Room. Modern day fairy tales set in cities often feature a fairy market appearing as the Bazaar of the Bizarre.

Compare with:

Contrast with:

  • Secret Government Warehouse: Like the Bazaar, a vast collection of extraordinary artifacts; unlike the Bazaar, it is most certainly not for sale. You're not even supposed to know about it.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: Similar to the Secret Government Warehouse, but with less of an emphasis on secrecy. You can usually get into the Museum without too much trouble; the Warehouse, if you can even find it, tends to be defended by The Men in Black.
  • Kitsch Collection: Bazaars specialise in fantastic, exotic, and especially magical items. An assortment of odd items is a Kitsch Collection. It is not unheard of, however, for something truly extraordinary to be lurking incognito amidst the kitsch.
Examples of Bazaar of the Bizarre include:

Anime and Manga

  • Moroccan Street in Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.
  • The abandoned amusement park shops in Spirited Away, which becomes filled with gods and other creatures when the evening and the spirit world comes in.

Comic Books


  • The Troll Market in Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Quite similar to the market in The Books of Magic listed above, it's a secret place for The Fair Folk to trade all sorts of knick-knacks.
  • Portobello Road in the Walt Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks. It's the one place to go if you need a magic book. "Anything and everything a chap can unload/ Is sold off the barrow in Portobello Road." Based on the real Portobello Road Market.
  • The Marketplace from Aladdin. In the movie, it seems to be selling mostly normal things, such as necklaces, fruit, and fresh fish. In the series, however, there's a shop run by a witch that definitely makes the marketplace a little stranger.
  • Mos Eisley Cantina, from the original Star Wars film, is the bar in which Luke and Obi Wan first meet with Han Solo to hire transport for themselves on his ship. Though not a market in the strictest sense, it is a place of business where drink and food is purchased, and the ambiance is undoubtedly "bizarre," what with the exotic music and clientele and all their fantastic accouterments. It is also dangerous and violent, thus operating under the rules of a Truce Zone, i.e. no blasters allowed on premises, so as to cultivate a business-as-usual atmosphere in spite of the diverse races and species which converge there from all across the galaxy; however, the letter of the law is not entirely followed.


  • Goblin Market, a lengthy 19th century poem by Christina Rossetti (sister of Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who illustrated the poem), is the Trope Maker for this trope. It is at least for all of these fantasy examples given. In it, there is a literal "goblin market" wherein little goblin beast-men of diverse appearance hawk their wares to innocent passers-by, tempting them with all kinds of exotic and luscious fruits.
    • I am even tempted to consider it the Ur Example, given that I don't believe Rossetti intentionally utilized any earlier examples. However, a case of Older Than They Think may be in order here—there just have to be some early legends and myths which portray some fantastic market in some exotic locale selling all kinds of crazy stuff, maybe in One Thousand and One Nights...
  • The classic Fritz Leiber story of the same name in Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser series.
  • Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter.
    • Nearby Knockturn Alley is even more so. While Diagon Alley would be a Bazaar Of The Bizarre to a Muggle, Knockturn Alley is basically one by wizard standards. Also, Darker and Edgier.
  • The Market at Wall in Stardust.
    • Another Neil Gaiman example is the Floating Market in Neverwhere (book and mini-series)
      • Extremely straight example in The Sandman as well.
      • A list of Neil Gaiman works that do not include this trope would probably be shorter than the ones that do.
  • The Bazaar on Deva in Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures. It sells "everything you can imagine, and a few things you can't." It's implied to cover the whole planet.
  • The Bazaar of the Bizarre in Mercedes Lackey's novel Ill Met by Moonlight, among several other of her works set in the same universe.
  • The Goblin Fair in the Twelve Treasures series by Rosemary Edgehill.
  • Thaumatalogical Park, just outside Unseen University, in the Discworld. Although, in keeping with the skewed Magitek of the setting, it's closer to Silicon Valley than a Goblin Market.
  • Such a bazaar exists in Everworld.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the character Daenerys Targaryen explores a few bazaars filled with exotic people, strange merchandise, and of course danger at every turn.
  • Little (Grrl) Lost, by Charles de Lint, has a Fairy Market like this. Wings and amazingly good pastries are the hot items of the season when the protagonist, Elizabeth, comes through.
  • The shop that the protagonist enters in Thomas Ligotti's "The Unfamiliar" is essentially a miniaturised version of one of these, played for Surreal Horror.
  • A Traveling Salesman variation appears in the Spider Robinson story "Did You Hear the One About...", in which Al Phee, self-proclaimed "Intergalactic Traveling Salesman" displays various gems with unusual properties to the patrons at Callahan's. He even describes his wares as a "Bazaar of the Bizarre".

Live-Action TV

  • One cropped up on the planet Shan Shen the Doctor Who episode "Turn Left" - it was vaguely Chinese in flavour and led to Donna having a most peculiar encounter with a fortuneteller and a giant beetle which let her see her own alternate past.
  • The Farscape episode "That Old Black Magic" introduced the crew to one of these. Technically speaking, Crichton's the only one who finds any of it weird at first; then of course, it's revealed that the building at the end of the bazaar is owned by the Evil Sorcerer Maldis, and things only get stranger from there...
    • Then there was the commerce settlement in "Bringing Home The Beacon." Quite apart from being a dead Leviathan embedded in the side of a small planetoid, it's also home to a number of strange stalls and shops- not least of which is the massage parlour that has a sideline business in genetic transformations. It's also a meeting ground for Commandant Grayza and War Minister Ahkna.
  • The Obscura Antiquities shop featured on the Discovery show Oddities is all about this. Straightjackets, skulls, malformed foetuses in jars, bull testicle elixir, barber-surgeon equipment... if they don't have it, they probably know someone who does.
  • There's one in Charmed. It's run by demons, and has power hawkers and offers fresh Eye of Newt among other things.


  • In "Marakesh Night Market" by Loreena McKennitt you can find for sale in aforesaid night market, not only mundane things like masks, mirrors, and rugs, but religious relics, magic(pretend or real) and apparently, people's honor(because "the truth is measured, by the weight of your gold").

Tabletop Games

  • The Goblin Markets in Changeling: The Lost. Buy magic swords, second-hand skills, supernatural powers that Fell Off the Back of a Truck, even slaves. All it's going to cost you is three whiskers from a housecat, a week of dreams, or your ability to cry...
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Dragon magazine had a regular feature of unique (and often quite warped and twisted) magical items which it called "The Bazaar of the Bizarre". Possibly after Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser story. While not a physical location even in a fictional sense, the feature often served the same purpose for Game Masters and players looking for something new and unusual.
    • Sigil from Planescape (regularly misappropriated for other settings and cosmologies). The whole city. Though any mercantile districts would probably have even stranger things you can buy or trade for than the rest of the city already does. A dagger of Baator steel? Behind that corner. Breath Radiance spell? Someone willing to sell a scroll or two can be found.
      • The Grand Bazaar is likely the best place to shop in Sigil; an open-air market in the Market Ward, you can literally find anything there that isn't contraband, which in Sigil, is very little. It's popular with the Free League, and PCs who belong to that group can likely get better bargains there.
      • A more specific example is the shop of A'kin the Friendly Fiend. (Exactly how friendly depends on the source.) another is "Vrischka's Curiosity Shoppe" from Planescape: Torment that sells such rare things as Deva's Tears, a Fiend's tongue, an ale-stein powered by one of the layers of hell, and Baby Oil.
      • Dragon Annual #2 mentions the Consortium, a market on the Grey Waste the size of a large city ("without a doubt, the commerce center of the Lower Planes") run by the oldest covey of night hags in existence. They specialize in larvae (damned souls that fiends use in the creation of young fiends) but also sell larvae products, such as a perfume for temptress fiends called "Evil #7". They also have markets that sell weapons, slaves, and every type of contraband imaginable. The article even mentions a coffee shop in the place that sells Abyssal Brew.
      • Sigil has recently appeared in 4th Edition's Manual of the Planes, thereby becoming part of the core D&D cosmology again.
    • Merchant cities of Forgotten Realms. Waterdeep isn't called "City of Splendors" for nothing, it's a major trade center where they don't bat an eye at weird stuff and minor magic items. The Old Xoblob Shop has anything adventurers can pick up in forgotten ruins, from random weapons to treasure maps to weird curio like drow sculpture or lizard man boundary pole, and uses an iron golem as candelabra/bouncer. Calimport actually has a bazaar in a pocket dimension known as the Dark Bazaar. "Invitations" are given out by shadowy figures, and it's a neutral ground for various fiends, celestials, monsters, and of course, people. Sshamath is a Drow magocracy rumored to have anything for sale, up to lesser artifacts. They may well do at Dark Weavings Bazaar, and services to get a few absent things too; The Genie's Wish is mostly a glittering version aimed at the visitors too clueless to get all implications of its name.
    • The 3rd edition Tome of Magic had Fark's Road, a bazaar hidden by shadow magic where shadowcasters, illusionists, and odd critters traded cross-planar goods. Since it wasn't tied to any particular city and was hidden by an illusion, it could pop up anywhere the GM wanted it to, even in established settings.
  • Don't Rest Your Head offers the Bizarre Bazaar, where dreams and memories, as well as other oddities can be exchanged for goods and services. Strangely, while those at the Bazaar tend to be at truce, the gathering is illegal, and therefore subject to raids by the terrifying Officer Tock. Worse, it only occurs at 13 o'clock, when the Mad City is at its most deadly.
  • Rifts has a whole world book about the Splynn Dimensional Market. Where both the merchants and customers tend to be demons, aliens, and dimensional travelers. With all the bizarre goods and services one would expect from such beings.
  • The card Bazaar of Wonders from Magic: The Gathering.

Video Games

  • Bookworm Adventures has a level called Crazy Murray's Bizzare Bazaar.
  • Cash Shop in Gaia Online seems to be either this, or The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: You can buy anything from, say, an ancient curse (Death Whisper) to an incredibly dangerous plant or egg.
    • There's also the Gaia Marketplace, which sells all items on the site, from clothes to food to said ancient curses to heartwarming orphans.
  • The Rogue family of computer games (Rogue/Moria/Net Hack/Angband, etc.) feature these. On a shop level you'll tend to find a general store (food, drink and tools), a weapons and armaments shop, a shop that caters to the clergy (defensive and healing spells and potions, appropriate clothing, and blunt weapons), one for mages (attack spells, staves and rods, and such), and one may sell just anything, occasionally including seriously out-of-level artifacts. Particularly appropriate specific examples are the Black Market in Slash'Em and the Casino Gift Shop in ADOM - both enormous shops containing potent items at ridiculously high prices, guarded by creatures that make even the regular shopkeepers look like wimps.
  • Nobilia in Secret of Evermore houses one. Stocked goods range from bags of rice, to ceramic pots, to golden jackals, and even to priceless artifacts, all of it being traded and sold amongst each other. Ebon Keep in Gothica has a much smaller variation.
  • A less interactive game is Echo Bazaar. Take a wild guess where it fits in the game. It's a bit more tame, though, in terms of merchandise, but not personality. You can buy souls (and give them to devils), combat veteran weasels, Secrets that come in 3 flavors, guns made by blacksmith rats, poisoned umbrellas, glowing beetles for decoration, and devil's worn out contracts. Characters in it are vastly more interesting.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

Real Life

  • The Mumbai Chor Bazaar: common saying goes that "If you lose anything in Mumbai, you can buy it back at Chor Bazaar". Incidentally, the word "Chor" means "Thief", which makes the place, (in name and also slightly in nature) "Thieves' Market".
  • Renaissance Faires
  • Comic-Con
  • The Bazaar Bizarre craft fair
  • Bob Berdella, a serial killer from Kansas City, MO had a booth at the flea market actually called "The Bizarre Bazaar." It specialized in occult items including skulls.
  • Every comic book, anime, sci-fi related or collectibles convention ever held has as many bootleg video booths as it can reasonably support, economically. They deal in unreleased shows and movies, recent shows not yet on DVD burned from DVR's, copies of DVD's not yet available in America (or wherever you are), underground horror movies (don't ever look at the back cover unless you're sure, August Underground's Mordum is some strong stuff) and, umm, porn (yeah, sure, Britney Spears and Anna Kournikova made a sex tape together). Pay in cash.
    • Not every convention. Many of them now screen for that kind of stuff to avoid legal troubles (conventions have been shut down and sued over that sort of thing)
  • Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington.
  • Northwest Folklife in Seattle, Washington, the Uncommon Market.
  • Saturday market in Portland, Oregon. the largest regularly held outdoor crafts sale in the world
  • EBay
  • Those who have been to the middle east may find the real life version somewhat disappointing by comparison. Still, many bazaars or suqs are really fascinating (like the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul or any street market in the Old City of Jerusalem). And quite interesting and often shady things can be found, like in a hookah shop in Turkey where the owner told this troper he had many more hookahs in "my dumpster." The "dumpster" turned out to just be the basement, which indeed contained a bunch more hookahs.
  • Pretty much any of the souqs in Marrakesh, especially those lining Djeema El Fna. It leans more on the fantastical than most other markets - you can buy spices, glass lamps, mirrors, and so forth.
  • The internet in general, really. If you look hard enough, you can find anything.
  • Camden Market in London. It's kind of like that market scene in Hellboy II, but less fictional.
    • Especially the Locke Market, which is a kind of sub-market. It's as if someone transplanted Morocco into inner-city London.
  • The 10th-Anniversary Stadium in Warsaw was, well, a stadium converted into a huge market, dealing in pirated software and clothes and practically everything else. It got to the point where people were just going there for a walk or to eat the best Vietnamese food in the city, and allegedly, foreign tourists were having guided tours of it. It was recently closed, though. On a smaller note, if a bazaar in Poland attracts "the Ruskies" (in general people from the former USSR), it automatically gains this kind of reputation, and not without a reason—you can jokingly ask if they've got a Geiger counter and they reply that you need to wait a week or two.
  • For a more mundane and narrow-interest version, the Comic Market (usually shortened Comiket). Things you won't ever see in the official Anime and Manga, you can get here... Caveat emptor: Sturgeon's Law is in full effect. There are many similar events in Japan.
  • Most Triumphant Real-Life example: The Sonora Witchcraft Market in Mexico City.
  • Sugnei Road Thieves' Market, in Singapore. On a good day you can find anything from really old money, to old typewriters and rotary-dial phones, to hard-to-find toys and plushies (albeit in terrible, unmint condition usually), to bootlegs of every imaginable kind, to military and school uniforms (though it's actually illegal to resell the former here in Singapore, but most people in there don't care it seems), to Communist China memorabilia, to old computers, to brand-new Apple MacBooks and Samsung Galaxy Tabs (no kidding), to broken computer parts, to almost-obviously stolen bicycles (the local newspapers touched on this once), to watches, to amulets of every kind imaginable... the list goes on and on. Probably about the only thing you can't find are anything that might explode (since we have draconian laws on that), and food. Many of the things here are usually old unwanted items that rag-and-bone men have collected from all over the island. Occasionally you might find someone's pet bird having been brought along (this troper has seen someone's pet African Grey parrot, and another one had a pet Javan Mynah), but these are not for sale... usually.
  • The Big Applesauce is full of these. It's not a question of if you can find something in New York City, it's a question of where.
  • The Lost Horizon Night Market. They come in trucks and vans, show up in random places, stay for a few hours in the middle of the night, and leave as quickly as they came, leaving no trace behind. Seriously, it's actually like that. They've shown up in New York, California, and a ton of other places.
  • Rendezvous. In the early days of the old west the fur cartels sponsored regular meetings of White and Indian trappers and rivermen carrying goods from back east. Naturally the attendants had a lot of energy to work off and played hard, including getting drunk, gambling, and playing tough and sometimes rather violent athletic events, and got into bar brawls.
  • Amazon. If you plug an order in a genii will either send it right away by magic or hop on his magic carpet and take it in two days. Ok, not really. But kind of.