Our Fairies Are Different

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Even in the same game, they're different.

Faerie lore is still living and growing, and the only consistent fact about it is that there are no consistent facts. This is only fitting, after all; faeries are changeable by their very nature, and beyond mortal understanding.

—Graeme Davis, GURPS Faerie

Basically all the various kinds of fairies (or faeries, or fey, or whatever other name is in vogue at any given time) in folklore.

Fairies today are thought of as little or human sized Winged Humanoid with butterfly wings, that fly around in a sea of sparkles, and have magical powers (including granting wishes). This is not the original concept; genuine folkloric fairies are nasty, dangerous, powerful, and never winged.

Although these vary depending on the story (hence the trope title). Much like Demons, what classifies as "Fairie" is often as varied as "Mammal". Three standard forms stand out, however:

  • A tiny Winged Humanoid between one and twelve inches tall. Variations include skin or hair colors, type of wings (iridescent or butterfly-like are the most common), what they wear (if anything), and often whether or not they generate their own light. Usually called some variation of "Fairy", "Sprite", or "Pixie".
  • A small, sometimes childlike, humanoid between one and three feet tall. Leprechauns are the most common type seen.
  • A human-sized humanoid, often with pointed ears. Usually an Elf in all but name with more overt magical nature or ability than your "standard" Fantasy Elves. Sometimes they are that work's version of Elves. May or may not have wings.

But these are hardly the full extent of what Fairies can be. Much like Dragons, similar mythological/fantasy creatures such as Satyrs, Nymphs, and Goblins may be considered types of Fairies.

A common form is a Fairy Godmother, who gives characters help with wishes. Although modern stories will heavily add Be Careful What You Wish For.

Sylphs, the original Elemental Embodiment of wind as envisioned by Paracelsus, are usually depicted as fairies.

Fairy Tales often involve fairies, at least they do nowadays, but that term comes from Madame d'Aulnoy's Les Contes de Fées.

A Super-Trope to:

Our Elves Are Better is a Sister Trope, as they share much of the folklore.

Compare Our Angels Are Different, Our Mermaids Are Different.

Not to be confused with a euphemism for homosexuals.

Examples of Our Fairies Are Different include:

Anime and Manga

Fan Works


  • Tinkerbell of Peter Pan included elements such as Clap Your Hands If You Believe.
    • The Disney version is now the main character of Disney Fairies. Except that Disney keeps trying to call them "pixies" or (when male) "sparrow men".
  • The blue fairy of Pinocchio.
  • The fairies of Sleeping Beauty.
  • The fairy godmother of "Cinderella".
  • Pans Labyrinth has fairies that look like flying praying mantises... which can shape shift into more human like shape when shown a picture of what they're "supposed" to look like.
    • The Pale Man, a monstrous, child-devouring fae.
  • Willow has a scene with a whole swarm of tiny, glowing fairies...and their enormous, hovering queen, Cherlindrea.
  • In Wizards, fairies are Little People. And then there's Elinore.
  • The fairies in Labyrinth are like this; they look like your stereotypical magical flying sparkly things, but they bite. The girl thought they were kind and wish-granting and was surprised and horrified to see Hoggle coming after them with an insecticide gun.
  • The Shobijin, Mothra's twin fairy companions, in the Godzilla films. They stand about six inches tall and are able to teleport short distances as well as understand what the monsters are saying...Oh, and they can summon Mothra as well to aid them.


  • In The Dresden Files, Faeries run the gamut from achingly beautiful, frighteningly amoral Sidhe to tiny, pizza-loving pixies to hulking trolls to centaurs and humanoid Billy Goats Gruff and even Santa Claus. Almost everything that's not a mortal, vampire, or demon is a Faerie. All of them are burned by iron.
    • Of course, being called by the name "Fairy" is a Berserk Button for some, who prefer to be called Sidhe, or whatever their individual species is named. The Sidhe in particular compare it to calling a human "ape."
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles.
  • The short story "Ever After" by Susan Palwick is about a fairy godmother who takes a young woman under her care. The girl is well aware of the Cinderella type myths and is looking forward to finding a prince to marry. The twist comes when we find out that the "fairy godmother" is actually a vampire who is changing the girl into her vampire daughter.
  • In the Harry Potter universe (according to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) fairies are non-intelligent creatures which can't do anything more impressive than ward off predators with weak magic or be summoned to serve as decorations.
  • "Fairy" or "The People" in Artemis Fowl is a catch-all term for all non-human sapients, which includes Centaurs and Demons, and Unicorns before their extinction, as well as more obviously fey creatures like Elves, Pixies, Sprites, Gnomes, Gremlins, Goblins and Dwarves. Only Sprites have natural wings, other species use mechanical ones, and they're a metre tall on average (though one character is said to be 'barely half a metre' tall, and they could find clothes to fit a 13-year-old human, so there's obviously a high standard deviation). In most People, magic gives healing ability, invisibility, hypnotism, and the ability to speak any language; only a few, called 'warlocks', can use it for anything more complicated, like playing with the flow of time.
    • ...Though the ability to speak any language, while perhaps helped along by a bit of magic, actually comes from the fact that the People's Gnomish is the ancestor of all languages (including American Dog!).
  • Merry Gentry's fey relations resemble the Fair Folk of the Old World in name, power, appearance and moral ambiguity. But with that special LKH twist.
  • Elphin from Soon I Will Be Invincible is a thousand-year-old fairy who looks like a teenage girl with wings, is abnormally strong for her size, skewers people with her magic spear and is vulnerable to cold iron. She can also summon lightning, much to Fatalle's dismay.
  • Bones of Faerie has faeries that are humanoids with powers. Though not immortal, they have a longer life span, and can be identified by their white hair.
  • The Fairies in The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries look like beautiful humans except for their pointed ears. Claudine chooses to cover hers with her hair, while her brother Claude had them surgically altered. They are allergic to lemons and iron and Vampires are very attracted to their blood.
  • Shows up in the Discworld canon
    • Strictly speaking the Nac Mac Feegle from Discworld, being small humanoid beings from Fairyland, probably count as fairies. They prefer "Pictsies". Several other weird beings that are probably fairies appear in The Wee Free Men, mostly based on Richard Dadd's painting "The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke".
    • Discworld mythology also counts any supernatural being who exists to bring something or take it away as a fairy. The Tooth Fairy is the most famous, but Hogfather introduces the Hair Loss Fairy, the Veruca Gnome, and various others. In the same book Ridcully off-handedly mentions "them little buggers that live in flowers, used to collect 'em myself as a lad". the Tooth Fairies, so called, are actually not fairies at all but a franchise operation employing humans. They ultimately work for a creature akin to a proto-bogey-man, who collects the teeth to work a very ancient sort of possession magic, although this isn't generally known.
    • The actual Fairies, so-called, are portrayed in Lords and Ladies as The Fair Folk style; people are afraid of them, they are very dangerous, and have a Queen and King reminiscent of Titania and Oberon in some ways, and horned gods like Cernunnos in others.
  • The fairies/hobgoblins of The Stolen Child are largely in the Fair Folk mold, with the twist being that they were all human originally. They kidnap a human child and, though some mystical process not fully explained, turn him or her into a fairy, while one of their own makes himself into the child's double and replaces him or her. They're functionally immortal until they turn themselves back into humans, and don't age in any normal way (although they're implied to be odd-looking), and are just generally uncivilized and self-interested.
  • The Anakim, servants of the Nephilim in Angelology are short, albeit human sized, and of delicate build with yellow eyes and insectile wings, as opposed to the avian ones of the Nephilim.
  • In Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive series one of the main characters has a companion windspren named Syl that takes the traditional fairy form and she really is different even from other windspren who mostly just look like streaks of mist and lack self awareness. This is because she's actually an honorspren
  • Done with almost religious fervor in the The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels. L. Frank Baum wanted to distance his "American fairy tale" from the old fairy tales of Europe, so he went out of his way to make them different. For instance, none of Baum's fairies fly, with only a couple possible exceptions. Fairies in Baum's universe are on a god-like level, immortals ruling over various aspects of nature (an entire pantheon is given in Tik-Tok of Oz).
  • The fair folk in Jack Chalker's River of Dancing Gods series take the place of our world's natural processes. They live eternal, but sadly limited, lives.
  • The Rooftoppers in Tad Williams Shadowmarch quadrology although they don't have wings. Rather they use birds, bats and rats as transport.
  • The War of the Flowers, also by Tad Williams, is set in Another Dimension populated by all kinds of fairies. The ruling class, however, seems to resemble standard elves more, including the attitude. Actually, this novel plays with all three elf tropes.
  • Cicely Mary Barker's (and her successors') Flower Fairies, who are the standard "tiny winged humanoid" but resemble their flower in appearance and personality (for instance, the Buttercup fairy is cheerful and "sunny"). Basically very small dryads.
  • The fairies in Fablehaven. Despite the whole "Looking like insects and birds to most people" thing, for the most part, they resemble traditional fairies... And then you get to their rather alien moral system, as well as their bizarre history. Oh, and by the way, unicorns are the ancestors of all fairies.
  • Wings by Aprilynne Pike is completely built on this trope. Fairies are actually highly evolved plants who resemble humans. They don't have wings, though, but they do 'blossom'.
  • In the web-novel Domina, the fey are insane people who use the toy maker to make monsters. They also apparently actually think they're Celtic fairies, and lapse into Irish when angry.
  • In The Twelfth Enchantment fairies actually are the undead.

Live-Action TV

  • Episode 13 of Monty Python's Flying Circus has a sketch about fairies on the police force. For once in the series, "fairy" is not synonymous with "poofter."
  • Merlin has several episodes with the Sidhe, a fairy race associated with the legends of England and Ireland. They're blue-faced and many carry Magic Staffs. A Sidhe can entrance a human and can be placed inside a human child to take full control later in life. The two in "The Gates of Avalon" had been banished and were seeking a human prince to sacrifice so the daughter could return to Avalon. Pixies, another race, sometimes work with them.
  • Once Upon a Time has the tiny, winged vareity who grant wishes.
  • There was a horror-themed show on CITV (name forgotten) that had a segment on a girl wishing she could see a fariy one day and finding some at the bottom of her garden. Unfortunately, instead of being happy, wish-granting creatures they were these horrible little creatures with large teeth that bit her... and after she found them, they started turning up everywhere, causing her to cage them to stop from being attacked, but they just kept on coming...

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Look back far enough into history and you'll find that just about every culture, country and locality has their own local variation of fairy-like creatures. For example, Greek Mythology has Nymphs, Naiads and Dryads (water and tree spirits respectively), fawns, satyrs, centaurs and other semi-divine races of creatures, usually a One-Gender Race.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons. This list is just some of the canon and fanfic species.
    • Dungeons & Dragons pixies are noted for being one of the few truly playable high ECL (basically you get racial abilities instead of a higher character level) races, thanks to their strong racial ability scores, invisibility, spell-like abilities and flight.
      • As of Heroes Of The Feywild, Pixies have become an official PC race for 4th Edition. Along with Satyrs and Hamadryad.
  • In the Mystara supplement Tall Tales of the Wee Folk, a centaur scholar claims that fairies are, in fact, the Immortals (gods) of a previous iteration of the multiverse. They helped nurture and preserve the Sphere of Life when opposing forces dominated the cosmos, and will do so again when the present Life-dominated reality yields to the Sphere of Death in an ever-repeating cycle. Until then, the fairy folk—pixies, sprites, leprechauns, sidhe, wood imps, drakes, brownies, pookas—retain their immortality but their power is diminished.
  • Fairies in GURPS: Fantasy are living illusions. Their magic can be as easily destroyed by iron as they are. Of course, due to the modular nature of GURPS, Fairies can be built in countless other ways resembling other examples on this page.
  • Both Changeling gamelines in the World of Darkness series use the Fae:
    • Changeling: The Dreaming splits its changelings up into Kiths; the Kithain, European-style fairies, range from Boggans to Nockers to Pooka to Redcaps to Sidhe to Trolls. And that's just the Kithain—you've got the Nunnehi (Native American fae), the Inanimae (elemental embodiments), the Hsien (Asian "small gods")...
    • Changeling: The Lost has the True Fae, which are so different from one another as to give you whiplash. Not only that, but every single of them ends up different over the years; what may have been a man-eating giant a century ago could turn into La Belle Dame Sans Merci (or Baba Yaga). There's even a True Fae transforming robot (his alt is a motorcycle). Then you have the changelings, their escaped servants, who are split up into Seemings (general patterns of their durances in Arcadia) and Kiths (specified durances). A Ogre kept in a charnel pit may turn into a Gristlegrinder or an Oni, a Beast kept as a falcon may be a Windwing or a Cleareyes, or a Wizened forced to maintain his Keeper's estate may turn into a Chatelaine or a Drudge, or some combination if you use optional rules. And then you have the hobgoblins...
  • Fairies in Ars Magica are treated much like roleplayers in the 5th edition of the game. Put simply, faeries subconsciously take on roles from human stories and reenact them with (usually) unwitting humans to obtain the vitality they crave. This trait makes faeries difficult to combat (except by apotropaic magics) since in many cases their "death" is part of the story and only provides additional vitality.
  • Similar rules (as in Ars Magica) apply to The Fair Folk in Exalted. Unlike most other beings, they don't have a Motivation. Rather, they have something they adopt as a passing fancy, a role they enter into because it seems dramatically appropriate at the time. Oh, and they come from the chaos outside reality, and eat souls. Basically, they're role-playing gamers, Creation is their gameworld, and your PCs are just NPCs to them. Usurprisingly, they have a hard time with concepts like empathy and consequences.
  • Faerie Folk in Rifts and the Palladium RPG comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be less than six inches or up to three feet tall, cute or horrendous, friendly (for a given value of such) or mean, and have varying powers. And of course, this being Rifts and all, can take almost as much damage as a modern Armored Personnel Carrier. Also, don't eat their food. They seem to have a penchant for Incredibly Lame Visual Puns involving the name of their food and what Transformations or charm effects it causes. For example, Tarts tend to make women extremely amorous, and you should stay the hell away from the Frog's Legs, unless that's what you want.


  • Most fairies in A Midsummer Nights Dream are of The Fair Folk mold, but Titania's attendants are generally more common portrayed as child-sized winged creatures.
  • Tinker Bell in the original Peter Pan is basically similar to Disney's version, except she isn't a humanoid figure but just a floating point of light.

Video Games

  • The fairies of The Legend of Zelda games. At first they restored hearts. Starting with the third game, the Great Fairies could also grant gifts, like extra powers and more item carrying capacity. In Majoras Mask we met fairies who had been broken apart into dozens of littler fairies, and you had to restore them... and Wind Waker introduced us to the Queen of the Fairies, who looks like a little girl.
  • The fairy familiar of Castlevania games.
  • In Mother 3, the "fairies", called Magypsies, look like men in heavy makeup and dresses. Apparently, they transcend mortal genders as well as mortal lifespans.
  • Seiken Densetsu 3, faeries (spelled as such in the fan translation) protect the Mana Tree and require Mana to live. They can harmlessly inhabit the head of a human, allowing them to live away from the Mana Holyland for extended periods of time, but can't inhabit a new human until the chosen human dies. And the one faerie who follows around the heroes eventually becomes the new Mana Goddess.
  • Rayman - Big fairies, small fairies, fairies with wings, fairies with tails, fairies that glow, fairies that don't, fairies with or without silly hats. You name it.
  • La Tale, sylph show up in this form on the icons for all of the Wizard's Wind skills, as well as generic fire faeries in the Lair of the Evil Dragon instance, and eventually the Xenadia area.
  • Fairies in Gust's |Atelier series of games are males the size of little boys and dressed in green. The only exceptions are their old village leader, and the hideous muscle-bound "fairy" from Mana Khemia 2.
    • Also, despite the fact that they don't age physically, faeries can age in personality. This becomes a minor plot point in the third Atelier Iris game, in which an npc gets majorly weirded out by a fairy talking like an old man.
  • Fairies are also recurring Mooks in Touhou, and occasionally appear as bosses. Here, they keep the mischievousness of most depictions of fairies, but some pranks go too far, like shoving someone off a cliff or setting them on fire.
  • The fairies from the Spyro the Dragon games. Mostly serve as checkpoints.
  • The faeries in Folklore are wingless creatures who are roughly three feet tall, and only appear in the Lost Woods-like "Faery Realm". Some are helpful to you, while others (later in the game) are not.
  • In La-Mulana, once you get the Diviner Sensation ROM, you can summon fairies to restore your health and, by equipping it with another ROM at specific spots, key fairies which unlock many things necessary for 100% Completion.
  • Panel de Pon: Ruby is the stereotypical winged fairy. The other non-villanous playable characters, and the final boss, are fairies as well, but they look more like long-eared humans.
  • One boss in the Mega Man Zero series is called Sol Titanion. It is a fire-specialized robot who is inspired by the fairy queen Titania.
  • The Game Boy Advance installment of Tactics Ogre gives you fairy units, and they are typical foot-tall-winged-girl Squishy Wizards. One hit splatters them but they make for good healers.
  • Faeries are a playable race in later Wizardry games. Their small size restricts them from most weapons and armor, but they make excellent mages, priests, and (funnily enough) ninjas.
  • The Clefairy line from Pokémon appear to resemble stereotypical fairies.
  • The faeries of RuneScape are tiny, flying, mostly-female humanoids, who live in a blue-tinted magical kingdom where sheep and cows can talk. The fairies are responsible for things like the weather changing, crops growing and teeth being collected. There is also a Faerie Mafia.
  • Holly, the player character of Plantasia, looks almost exactly like a normal human, albeit with pointed ears and pink hair. She can apparently pull clothes out of nowhere to disguise herself as a human, as seen in the intro of the game, and can make multiple shovels, watering cans, weeding tools, and extermination tools work simultaneously on the field, depending on how many of the tool she has and how many are available for her to use at the time. She can also fly or at least hover, despite having no visible wings.
  • In Shining the Holy Ark you can capture various types of "pixies". The Pixie a blond that looks like she's wearing a swimsuit; the Fairy a "traditional" looking fairy; the Succubus a green haired woman that shows a lot of ass; the Incubus a male fairy and the Leprechaun who looks as you would expect. You would collect each type and unleash them just before a battle to cause quick damage. The direction the enemy would enter the screen would indicate which type of fairy to use. Once you had all 50 pixies you could visit the queen of the pixies to get a magic wand that would allow you to attack with all 50 pixies at once, no matter the direction the enemy entered the battle.
  • Monster Girl Quest has the tiny version of the trope. They have a unique form of Invisible To Normals - specifically, they can't be seen by those who are faithful to Goddess Ilias.

Web Comics

  • Since all the characters in Daily Grind are talking animals, the Fae are, of course, big glowing spiders. They also claim to have no free will but say that they're animated by the spirit of Lord Cyrios in everything they do.
  • In Drowtales any humanoid or animal with an aura are counted as a fae. The drow, drowussu and vanir (light elves) are the dominant kind. There are also fairies, who are small humanoid/insect hybrids.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court has "Regional Fairies". They have spots on their shoulders showing which "region" they live in. They some learn magic and make their own wings.
  • Giselda of Seekers is a Wingling, not a Fairy. And she'll be sure to correct you.
  • The wold of Virtual Pet Planet has a race of Pixies that basically run everything. Some of them even sell curious wares.
  • El Goonish Shive has the Fairy Doll Spell. The user's mind temporarily leaves the body to inhabit a tiny version of themselves with wings. Great for communication/scouting, not so great for fighting. Unknown if there are real fairies though.
  • The Fey in the webcomic Footloose are fairly Badass swords-and-sorcery fairies. Smart people don't mess with them.
  • Fairies in Arthur, King of Time and Space (fairy-tale and space arcs) look like this. (In the contemporary arc the same beings are fictional aliens from Merlin's [and now Arthur's] webcomic.)
  • subverted in So Damn Bright by Flikker and others, who seem to be basically humans with some unspecified difference, and butterfly wings growing from their backs. No magic powers or ability to fly has been shown, and they seem to have sexual relations with humans ( a dating site asks if you are looking for "fae" or "anthro", and on another occasion Flikker mentions that one of the other human characters didn't strike her as the sort who might be "faesexual" ).
    • Flikker sheds her lower wings at one stage, this apparently being a mark of ageing or growing up. Fairies seem to shed and regrow their wings from time to time.
  • My Roommate Is an Elf features a pixie named Flint. He's very small and from a distance resembles a glowing shape with wings. Griswold, the elf, rescused him some time before the comic began and is very protective of him, threatening Dearg after Dearg tried to eat him.
  • Order of the Stick has Celia, an air elemental sylph (originally one of matched set of four). She sometimes forgets the differences between herself and mortal creatures.
  • In No Rest for The Wicked, the innkeeper expects a disguised fairy who reward the kind and generous after testing them in disguise.
  • Greg in At Arm's Length is a college frat type transformed into the winged human-sized variety, and he's none to pleased about it.
    • Plus Britt and 2Q, who are of the cute winged pixie variety.

Web Original

  • Everything2 has detailed instructions of how to gather pixie dust.
  • In Arcana Magi, some fairies, so far, work for Avalon Tech Enterprises. One fairy is on the Board of Directors and another fairy is a scientist dealing with chemicals and diseases
  • Felarya has size-changing, man-eating fairies.

Western Animation