The Fair Folk

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They will not go gently into the night; they are the night.

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project Glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes, look behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are nice.

Elves arebad.

Modern society has lived with the Disneyfied vision of Fairies for so long—the Fairy Godmothers of "Cinderella" and "Sleeping Beauty", Tinkerbell in Peter Pan[1]—that it seems hard to imagine that some would consider Fairies evil.

And yet, some of them were. The Fairies of old weren't cute little bewinged Pixies who fluttered happily around humans. Elves didn't make children toys or live deep in forests with no interaction with mortals. At best, they would interact with humans with either no thought to the consequences of their actions (Little People who put Rip Van Winkle to sleep) or delight in the mess they're making of mortal lives (Oberon, Puck, and the rest in A Midsummer Night's Dream). At worst, they're like The Joker with magic; otherworldly horrors who kidnap humans for torture and rape - or sometimes even worse things ("Tam Lin"). The Fair Folk almost always live in the land of Faerie.

The original terms for these (at least, in Scottish lore) were the Seelie (vaguely goodish) and the Unseelie (Exclusively Evil). In Ireland, they were called sidhe ("shee") and would sour milk, kill animals, and swap people for changelings. Boys were dressed in girls' clothes until the age of 5, because otherwise the sidhe would steal them for their armies. Building anything near a fairy fort was very bad. Going alone into a marsh was an invitation to get entranced by Cold Flames into their halls. Even if you were allowed to leave their kingdom, you could find that centuries have passed, and crumble into dust. Their dances would catch any human passerby and make him dance to exhaustion at best.

A variety of superstitions developed to keep the fairies at bay, or to pacify them. Salt could keep a baby from being stolen. Iron, holy water, crosses, and holy words/names scared fairies away. Depending on the version, they may also hate the sound of bells—whether it's church bells or any bell-ringing at all also depends on the version. Some people put out offerings of milk or food for them at night.

Then came the Bowdlerisation, and suddenly, all Fairies got a lot more cute. (And acquired wings, which were unknown in older folklore.) This began in Elizabethan times, where on one occasion a woman who claimed to commune with the Queen of Fairies was burned at the stake as a witch. It is not for nothing that William Shakespeare has Oberon explicitly disclaim that he doesn't mind church bells—to show he was not a demon. It accelerated thereafter, resulting in the Victorian image of fairies, which is generally how they are popularly conceived today.

More traditional Fairies are a bit of an odd duck of a trope. Old as anything, long forgotten, they're starting to re-emerge in modern fiction with a vengeance. Fairies may present themselves as amazing, beautiful, graceful and magical—but underneath all the Glamour, they're creepy little buggers for whom empathy is a concept as alien as the idea of blue as a number. They might take a shine to humans, but at best, it's the love a human feels for a pet, and descends down through the love an entomologist feels for a rare insect, continuing down through the love a glutton feels for prime rib... and you really don't want to see what it's like at its worst.

Their society and customs, if they even have the inclination to associate, are often extravagant and elegant but amoral and inscrutable, sometimes even for some unfortunate Fairies themselves. It's by far not certain what degree of loyalty or compassion they feel for their conspecifics.

The return of this trope to popular awareness can be traced back to at least 1988, when The Sandman, a Comic Book penned by Neil Gaiman, featured a number of Fairy characters who were often either outright malicious or self-centered to the point of sociopathy. Gaiman also used traditional Fairies in his novels and short stories as well as other comic books, and directly inspired authors such as Terry Pratchett (a friend of Gaiman's in long standing) and Susanna Clarke, author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Ten years earlier, the artist Brian Froud did a series of illustrated books cataloging the Shee or bad fairies, and their close cousins, the goblins. His work was also the inspiration for the 1982 film The Dark Crystal.

These Fairies can sometimes share a world with Tolkienesque Elves, who, depending on the setting, may not themselves officially be part of Faerie. The principal distinction between the two, if there is one, is that Elves are a mildly superhuman longlived race living in the mortal world (or a distant corner of it), whereas Fairies are much more intensely magical, and live in a Fairyland outside the mortal world.

Ever wonder why Fairies are called "the Fair Folk" or "the Good Folk"? It's because calling them an unkind name is a good way to bring down their wrath upon your head. Especially The Wild Hunt. In addition, simply using the word "fairy" is considered insulting. (It's not clear why. The popular theory is it's like calling a human an ape.) On the subject of names, there's a 90% chance that a named fairy leader will be called Oberon, Titania or Mab. Other fairies are just as likely to have names drawn from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

See also Changeling Tale, a specific subtrope having to do with fairy abduction, doppelgangers, and the like. Not to be confused with Changeling Fantasy which is a type of Cinderella Situation.

In a manner of speaking, the old version of the Faerie has been replaced with Alien Abduction. In both cases, you have creatures who are ineffable and don't understand humanity, who randomly abduct humans, play with them, and return them with Time Loss and occasionally strange powers/afflictions. Periodically, there are tales of those who have dealt with them and benefited, but for the most part, mundanes are merely their playthings.

Luckily, much like vampires, fay traditionally have a few weaknesses that can be exploited, including:

  • Iron - Sometimes it means striking them with iron weapons, or simply a frying pan or just exposure will do the job. In some settings where this would be too much of a Weaksauce Weakness, it's specified as Cold Iron. What this actually means varies, as does how effective it is.
    • Sometimes steel is named instead of iron.
  • Can Not Tell a Lie - Sometimes. Note that they will exploit and twist this for all manner of deception, but a trickster hero can take advantage of this.
  • Magically-Binding Contract - Related to the above. Any deal with the Fair Folk will be upheld from their end, though they tend to respect only the letter of any deal they make. God help you if you fail your end of a deal. (God help you even if you don't!)
  • Pride - That bit up there about how they demand to be called the "fair" folk? They're all like that. To a one, they are proud creatures, concerned primarily with their own grand schemes.
  • True Name - The idea of a 'True Name' has started resurfacing where discovering a fairy's name will either give you power over it or can kill it. It varies whether knowing the name is enough or whether you have to use it all the time. Note: this does not make the user immune to chronic word twisting.
  • Must Be Invited - In older myths a faerie could not enter a house unless invited. As with above, loopholes apply.
  • Music - Not the magical variety, but elves are often presented as being fascinated to the point of distraction with human music. This is sometimes tied into the idea of Creative Sterility, that they cannot make their own music.

Often found in concert with Grimmification.

The Fair Folk are often depicted as an Inhumanly Beautiful Race. Compare and contrast Fairy Companion, Our Elves Are Better, Our Fairies Are Different, Witch Species, Our Goblins Are Wickeder, All Trolls Are Different, Our Mermaids Are Different, and Our Dwarves Are All the Same. See also Youkai for a rough Japanese equivalent. The Greys is more modern trope with many similarities. An extreme example may be an Eldritch Abomination or Humanoid Abomination. When humanity appears this way is Humans Are Cthulhu.


No Real Life Examples, Please.


Examples of The Fair Folk include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Durarara!! subverts this trope with Celty Sturluson, an Irish Dullahan desperately searching for her missing head. At first she may look intimidating and a little bit sinister, but soon we discover she is genuinely a very kind, gentle and caring person. For an Unseelie Fae she is actually one of the most friendly and affable characters in the series. She is also afraid of space aliens. Of course, as Shinra points out, part of this may have to do with the fact that Celty's an amnesiac Dullahan. She might not have been so nice if circumstances were different (quarter-Dullahan Ruri Hirijibe, for example is a serial killer with a monster fetish).
  • The Diclonii from Elfen Lied are heavily influenced by the Fair Folk and are in fact the "elves" from the title. They reproduce by secretly altering humans so that any children they have will be born as diclonii and they are all very beautiful or handsome. In feudal Japan they used to live like nobles ruling over normal humans until they were hunted almost to extinction. They are not particularly evil, but when they grow older they develop telekinetic abilities with which they almost always accidentally kill their human families and only survive by becomming deadly killers. Except the only remaining queen Lucy, who can give birth to pureblood diclonii and has the unstopable instinct to Kill All Humans.
  • Kaori Yuki's Fairy Cube is probably best example of this trope being used properly in manga. From the protagonist's Fairy Companion debating whether or not to eat him in the beginning, to a Tuatha Dunann being weak to a pair of scissors (and being unable to cross fresh water), to the presence of changelings replacing children, a lot of classic fairy-lore is involved. Granted, some of it is modernized (said fairy companion is played as more of a non-romantic Tsundere, for example), but the effort is easily appreciable.
  • Berserk plays this trope dead straight with Rosine, a fairy-like Apostle who likes to carry kids off in order to turn them into her creepy little pseudo-elves in a rather twisted version of the Changeling Fantasy. The real Elves of the series, such as Puck, are more the benevolent version.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • As mentioned above, The Sandman by Neil Gaiman pretty much reinvigorated this trope for the modern era. The Sandman directly crosses over with a number of other comics, meaning that nasty elves also play a part in The Books of Magic, Hellblazer and several other DC Universe series.
  • The female fairies in Proof look like cute little green people, but act like ferocious predators with huge appetites (e.g. after mating, the butterfly-sized female eats the male, who's about as tall as a house). Fortunately, these fairies are non-magical and an endangered species.
  • Hellboy. "The Corpse" has Hellboy exposing a changeling and performing a number of difficult tasks for it so that The Fair Folk will return the baby he replaced. The story ends with the fairies discussing how few children have been born to them lately and how they may eventually fade away, which likely inspired in part The Golden Army—see below under Film.
    • Said changeling, seeking vengeance against Hellboy, becomes the driving force behind an army of fae seeking to restore the glory days. Restoring the good old days, or going out with a bang, they don't seem to be picky. Resurrecting an ancient sorceress named the Queen of Blood to lead the army basically adds destroying the world to the list.
  • In Marvel Comics, the fairy residents of Otherworld are similar to the DC versions. In particular Wisdom and Captain Britain and MI-13 feature Oberon's daughter Tinkabelinos (yes...), who resembles a foul-mouthed cross between Boudicea and a punk rocker.
  • The Sheeda from the DC miniseries Seven Soldiers—fairies who live at the ass-end of time and who Time Travel back to raze human civilization and plunder its profits whenever humanity reaches a certain tech level.
  • Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things: the eponymous girl lives in a strange neighborhood, where abducted children are sold by goblins to the rulers of the Twilight Kingdom.
  • A late issue of Shade the Changing Man focuses on a group of actors filming the type of Disneyfied, Bowdlerized fairy tale made for children, shot on location in Ireland. They get together at a pub to express contempt for the film and the irresistible amounts of money that compelled them to take part in it, and the older Irish natives talk about the terror and brutality of the real fairy tales they grew up with. When Shade arrives and enters a fairy ring, his madness amplifies the effect across the entire country, with results deadly and deranging. The madstorm also wipes out the entire film production, to the relief of the surviving actors.
  • The Fair Folk pop up from time to time in Tarot, although the miniature pixies/goblins are more common. Notably, they don't seem to have any of the weaknesses listed at the beginning of this article.
  • In the backstory of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it's revealed that not only did the Fair Folk exist in Britain with their own realm, but said realm was even united with England under The Faerie Queene for a time. Later on however, the Puritans under Cromwell led a great purge, wiping out most of the Fair Folk and driving those who survived away from the human world forever.

Folklore[edit | hide]

  • "Rumpelstiltskin".
  • Joseph Jacobs's "Katie Crackernuts", the prince is forced to leave his bed every night to dance at the fairy hall, and is deathly ill because of it.
  • Two Medieval accounts mention a pair of green children who showed up in the English town of Woolpit in the 12th century. They claimed to be from "Saint Martin's Land", an underground world.
  • A lot of classic Scottish fairy tales have these, but just as easily have helpful fairies. They're probably most frequently seen in stories involving Changelings, but are seen as being somewhat interchangeable with trolls.
  • The classic The Elves and The Shoemaker features a couple of the Fair Folk being helpful, until the shoemaker and his wife leave them new clothes in gratitude. In a benevolent response, all the elves do is go away forever; it could have been much worse for the shoemaker if they'd decided to take offense. The behavior of the little men is more in keeping with the German house-elf than with any other type of the Fair Folk, and considering that the story was first collected by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, that's the most likely reason for their kindness.
  • Sleeping Beauty is gifted by six fairy godmothers with beauty, grace, wit, and great skill in music, singing and dancing, then cursed for spite to prick her hand on a spindle on her sixteenth year and die by a seventh fairy. The curse is softened, but cannot be completely removed, by the final fairy.
  • In an Older Than Print example from ancient Celtic Mythology you have the Aes Sidhe and their subculture the Tuatha De Danaan. The original Fair Folk, these guys were brutal and unrelenting. You did not want to piss these guys off under any circumstance.
  • The Curupira from Brazilian folklore looks like an amalgam between indigenous nature deities and European faeries. Regardless of his origins and his role as a fierce nature guardian, he is generally perceived as a wicked, demonic and sometimes downright sociopathic entity with beautiful red hair who can (and will) do anything to protect the animals and forests of his domains. He is particularly infamous for shape-shifting into attractive forms to lure abusive hunters and woodcutters deep into the forest. The footprints of his backward feet will ensure anyone who follows him will never find the way out from the woods and there he promptly starts a Wild Hunt, hunting the men down with a giant wild boar and ultimately destroying them.
  • Púca/ Pooka of Irish mythology. In the original mythology Púca were sociopathic shape-sifters, whose favoured form was a huge, black demonic horse with glowing yellow eyes and whose other forms always had dark colourations/clothing and were suitably wrong, who only behaved themselves one night of the year (the first of November, when they are tired after running riot at Samhain/Halloween), and couldn’t enter any dwelling uninvited or stand the touch of iron, but could stand outside your home and destroy your crops if you angered them and refused to come out and face them. When not riding along the hills and woodlands terrifying honest travelers, they blighted any crops left un-harvested after a certain amount to time. Or they demanded a share of all crops, newly made beer, or newly gathered milk. Or they’d trample fields, sour beer, render cattle barren (or used their shape-shifting ability to impregnate them with mutated offspring). In their horse form, they lured young men who were drunk on pilgrimage or profaning the Sabbath into trying to ride them out of machismo at which point the Púca horse vanishes and the young man is either never seen again or changed forever, and tried to lure solitary milkmaids or other naive, lonely maids to an undisclosed fate in fairyland.
  • The Tylwyth Teg of Welsh-Celtic folklore spent most of their time cheerfully kidnapping human children, presumably by way of recreational activity. According to ancient folk wisdom, the best way of killing a changeling child was to pop it in the oven. Fun, huh?
  • The Nuckelavee of the Orkney Islands was an Eldritch Abomination of the purest sort. This sea-fairy resembled either a centaur or a horse and rider fused together, looked as if it had been flayed alive, was enraged by the scent of drying kelp (among other things), and brought plagues. Its one consistent weakness was an aversion to fresh water.
    • If we're talking about Scotland, what about the Redcap? A maliciously murderous fae who lived along the old Scots-English Border, he amused himself by randomly murdering people, sometimes devouring them, and all just so he could dip his hat in their blood. Fun guy, really.
      • If he stops doing these he will die! this may justify him
  • Stories of the "Little People" pervade the legends of many North American tribes. The Cherokee in particular have many legends surrounding them, and group these fairy-like beings into three clans; the Rock People, the Laurel People, and the Dogwood People. The Laurel people were considered to be friendly and playful, and often played games with children. The Dogwood People were stern, serious, and preferred to be left at peace. The Rock People, who dwelled in caves far away from human settlements, were feared, as it was believed that disturbing them would provoke their wrath, and whomever did so would have some horrible calamity befall them. Cherokee in more isolated regions to this day still believe in the legends, and it is said that if a child has an Imaginary Friend, this is actually the Little People playing with them.
    • The Seminole have stories of little people who live in hollow logs out in the woods. When lightning strikes a tree, it is thought to be the gods trying to fry the mischievous little things. They are best known for leading people astray in the woods, and you are never supposed to call to a companion who is out of sight. It is likely to be the little people responding to you in their voice to lead you astray.
  • Baba Yaga displays many qualities of Fair Folk in Russian storytelling, though is often referred to as the Witch of the Iron Forest.
  • Korean folklore has a class of supernatural beings called dok'aebis, who have unusually many similarities with the Fair Folk as shown in European folklore. They are ruled by an incomprehensible sense of ethics and a desire for general fun, as frustrating as that might be for poor human victims. Many surviving folk legends depict them as benevolent tricksters, but historical accounts still suggests that they were also seen as monstrous forces as heartless as natural disasters. The translation convention for dok'aebis used to be "ogres" due to their aesthetic association with Japanese oni, but because of their characteristic, terms such as "goblins" or "fae" have been taking over recently.


Film--Animation[edit | hide]

  • Even though she's usually called a witch these days, Maleficent, of Disney's Sleeping Beauty, is actually a "wicked fairy".
    • To quote Nanny Ogg's Cookbook: "How hard is it to invite her along, give her plenty of drink and a plate of ham rolls all to herself, and keep her out of the way of your posh auntie? Play your cards right and you could be ahead by an extra good wish."
    • Even the supposed good fairies have elements of this. They certainly mean to help, but the way they go about things is a bit reckless. While brainstorming on how to keep Aurora from pricking her finger, the fairies thought it was absolutely brilliant to turn her into a flower. The only reason they didn't was because they realize Maleficent could cause a frost and kill her that way. Then there's the part where they put the entire kingdom under a sleep spell so that the king doesn't find out about Aurora.
      • Also note the spells they throw after Maleficient's raven turned it into Taken for Granite. Given Maleficients reaction when seeing this, it's not reversible...
    • While the previous games had gone with the sorceress description, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep rightfully lists her as a fairy.
  • While we're on the topic of Disney Animated Canon, in Beauty and the Beast the prince is turned into the Beast and his household servants into animated objects because he wouldn't let a disguised fairy stay the night and laughed at her payment of a rose.
    • Note that said fairy was disguised as a poor old woman in the dead of winter. The prince's lack of hospitality and compassion would have been a death sentence if she'd been what she appeared to be. Her punishment was designed to correct his character flaws, never mind that his staff didn't deserve it, or that the prince was so young.
      • It's been mentioned by the staff that it was also their fault that the prince turned out the way he did.
        • But he's also between the ages of six and ten at the time going by the narrative.
  • Spirited Away is a Japanese Youkai Fairy Tale that portrays them as acting very similar to The Fair Folk.
  • Aisling from The Secret of Kells. Though she turns out to be much nicer than how the Fair Folk are usually portrayed, she still doesn't take kindly to those who intrude in her forest and initially even threatens to set her wolves on Brendan if he doesn't leave.


Film--Live Action[edit | hide]

  • Labyrinth, the David Bowie movie, not to be confused with the recent Pan's Labyrinth—see below. When Sarah reaches the outer wall of the Labyrinth, she finds a gardener killing Fairies with a bug sprayer. She calls him a brute, and picks up one of the not-quite-dead Fairies, who rewards her actions by attempting to bite off her finger. When she expresses her amazement and that she thought Fairies did "nice things, like granting wishes", the gardener simply scoffs and says "Shows what you know."
    • Not to mention Jareth himself and his Goblins; the film is essentially a changeling tale.
    • And the Fieries. They're playful rather than evil, but they have unfortunate gaps in their understanding of human physiology...
    • Also the brownie that screws up the marks Sarah's using to get through the maze. Of course, from his perspective, she's defacing his flagstones.
    • Brian Froud (mentioned below) did much of the concept art for the movie. His son Toby plays Toby from the movie.
  • Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth wasn't short of creepy magical beings either. Even the nice ones were patently eerie.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army, also directed by del Toro, features an Evil Albino elven prince and a whole host of creepy fey creatures, including Tooth Fairies, carnivorous, insect-like things whose swarms can devour a person whole... starting with their teeth, of course. Supposedly, but in the actual movie they eat everything but the teeth, and save those for later.
    • It should be noted though that only the prince elf and his troll partner were outright evil. Other trolls were benevolent enough, albeit belligerent, and the goblin was the nicest of them all. The tooth fairies, well those weren't really sapient, and thus neither good, nor bad.
      • The tooth fairies weren't that bad, though, just hungry. When the tooth fairy is reanimated by Krauss, the fairy essentially said (translated through Krauss) that he and the others were essentially kidnapped and starved until they were willing to attack anything.
    • The goblin also fits this trope, since he's nice enough that you forget he's the one who came up with the idea of building the army. He demands a classic fairy-tale price from the heroes, at the potential cost of Hellboy's life.
    • It's established that the Elves in Hellboy II are the direct descendants of the Sidhe and/or Tuatha de Danaan, who were forced to abandon their magical underground realm of Bethmora after a failed attempt to exterminate the human race backfired. Prince Nuada is portrayed as a Necessarily Evil Anti-Villain, and the rest seem nice enough, given that they're living in an enchanted factory slated for re-development.
  • In Ridley Scott's Legend, the Gump and Oona are essentially friendly to Jack, but are still quite pre-Victorian in behavior. Mercurial, occasionally vindictive, and more than willing to bring punishment down on a foolish mortal like Jack (who's only spared because his misdeed was done out of love, possibly also because he's a "Faerie Friend").
    • When they're stuck in a cell in Darkness' stronghold, Gump is unable to pick the lock because it's made of iron. "Iron is trouble for fairies."
  • Ella Enchanted has Ella's Fairy Godmother as an arrogant, short-tempered (and not-too-bright) twerp, who spends most of her time at parties, and refuses to hear that her gifts might not be appreciated, no matter how serious the side-effects are.
    • Only in the movie, where Lucinda is Ella's godmother and Mandy is a house-fairy. In the book, Mandy is Ella's godmother, and is a Cool Old Lady.
  • Queen Mab, the Lady of the Lake and Frick in the Merlin TV-movie/miniseries certainly apply. Mab is the Big Bad of the story, and is depicted as a sociopath who means well, but cannot comprehend the consequences of her actions, the Lady is on Merlin's side, but she is fickle and unpredictable, and on a whim gives Merlin an impression that Mab killed his mother (she only arrived just after she had died of childbirth), and Frick simply does whatever he finds most amusing, when he isn't bossed around by Mab - until he gets turned to mortal, anyway.
  • In a really, really stupid way the eponymous creature from the Leprechaun slasher film series could be considered one of these.
    • The Rumplestiltskin movie from about the same time is pretty much in the same vein.
    • Also, the Goblins from Troll2 would count, given their enchanted food with nasty side effects, their posing as humans through glamour to lure humans to their doom, and their love for all things plant and hatred of man.
  • The Guardian, a 1990 horror movie about a dryad who poses as a babysitter, abduct babies, and feeds them to her tree.
  • Were the World Mine, a musical adaptation of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', about an outcast gay kid cast as Puck in the school play who ends up making a magic flower and causing people to fall in love with people of their own gender, essentially becoming Puck, often in musical sequences that are vague about whether it's a fantasy or not. The English/drama teacher, as well, is implied to be a fairy, complete with magic that makes the townspeople bend to her will. Granted, this is to give Puck/Timothy a chance to fix everything, but it's still not quite right from a human perspective. Overall, the fairies depicted are very sympathetic, but there is definite selfishness and laughing at the trouble being caused to mundane people going on.
  • Del Toro does it again with Don't Be Afraid of the Dark. No wings or sparkles here, the creatures (officially known as Homonculi) look more like evil hunchbacked lemurs.
  • King Brian and the other leprechauns in Darby O Gill and The Little People.
  • The creature in Absentia is actually a troll. Many of the characteristics of the fae are present in the movie, such as the strict adherence to trading, the rules of which you'll have to figure out on your own, living in another dimension, torturing people seemingly for shits and giggles, Nothing Is Scarier, and abducting people. The movie is actually a good example of how to make the faeries terrifying to a modern audience.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Once and Future King, the Faeries appear, led by Morgan Le Fay. While it was an Unbuilt Trope at the time the book was written, the Faeries are much more the alien and malicious type. Although Robin Hood and Maid Marien argue whether they are Faeries or not.
  • Arthur Machen went back to the earliest folklore and legends and created a particularly nightmarish version he called the Little People. They appeared in his famous stories "The Shining Pyramid" and The Three Imposters.
  • Certainly, Brian Froud belongs at the top here. Modern audiences must have had a shock when his collaboration with Alan Lee, Faeries, hit the shelves. It was one of the first books to include as many scary Fairy stories as nice stories. Froud has vocally emphasized that, while there are indeed evil Fairies and good Fairies in mythology, the vast majority of them are neutral. He actually apologizes, in the introduction, for the self-contradictory title of his follow-up book, Bad Faeries/Good Faeries.
  • In Aaron Allston's Doc Sidhe the Fair Folk are just as morally varied as humans are. Furthermore, the Fairy World has advanced at the nearly same rate as the human world, so fairies in the 1990s have 1930s level technology, mixed with magic (which is no longer called magic because it can be studied scientifically). And they've interbred with humans so many times as a result of changelings and other visitations that most are nearly human height. And one of the fairies is a Captain Ersatz of Doc Savage. It's a lot Better Than It Sounds.
  • The Moorfolk in The Moorchild fit the description to a T. They've an aversion to holy water, Rowan wood, St. John's Wort and other yellow flowers, iron (in the setting, ALL iron is Cold Iron), and salt. They kidnap children and replace them with their injured, elderly, and misbegotten (the protagonist herself is a changeling left in place of a human child for being half-human), they play pranks and steal from mortals constantly, and while life in the Mound is happy and carefree, they have no concept of love, hate, or empathy.
  • Poul Anderson's The Queen of Air and Darkness riffs on this trope by having telepathic aliens on a frontier world use the legends of Faerie against the human settlers, right down to kidnapping children to use as changeling warriors.
    • The Broken Sword is a fantasy novel about Dark Age Europe coexisting (unknowingly) with amoral elves, trolls, etc. Poul includes a squicky passage wherein an elf lord creates a changeling using an enslaved she-troll. The changeling gets even, kind of. Several of Poul Anderson's other novels and at least one short story also deal with the Fair Folk.
      • One of his story inverts much of this trope: an iron-allergic member of the Fair Folk pretends to be an alien emissary to infiltrate and destroy the Real Alien Multi-Species Conspiracy who have infiltrated and are abusing human society - using a nonferrous spaceship barely able to make orbit as his Alien bona fides. Oberon et al. show up on the last two pages.
  • Although Tinkerbell is often included as one example—if not the exemplar—of modernized, sanitized, Bowdlerized, Disneyfied fairies, she was mischievous and rather possessive of Peter, to the point that she was perfectly willing to casually engineer the death of a perceived rival, even in Uncle Walt's rendition.
    • J.M. Barrie's book explains that the fairies are too small to contain more than one emotion at a time, so when Tinkerbell gets jealous of Wendy, it utterly consumes her being. Note that Peter himself in the novel is great example of this trope—re-reading it as an adult, the Pan comes off as a sociopath, due to his being raised by Fairies. He can't remember who Wendy and the boys are from day to day, in battles between the Lost Boys and the Pirates he'll switch sides and kill (yes, kill) Lost Boys to make things more entertaining, and is pretty unsympathetic and selfish—almost a male Haruhi Suzumiya. His character has suffered far more bowdlerization in adaptation than Tink's.
    • Played totally straight with both Peter and the inhabitants of Avalon in Brom's adaptation of the Peter Pan story, The Child Thief. Only Tanngnost the troll comes off at all sympathetically.
  • The Fairies in Elizabeth Bear's Promethean Age books are, to a one, murderous, untrustworthy, and prone to double-crossing if not properly bound—and those are the sympathetic ones. (Makes sense, as the first book in the series is, among other things, a riff on the "Tam Lin" ballad, and Bear enjoys playing with legends and genre tropes.)
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles (by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi) feature a number of fae creatures, along with the ways to deal with them and/or protect oneself from them. Spiderwick's daughter, in her unknowing youth, accepted food from the fae and as a result has no desire to eat human food...she would starve to death if the tiny faeries didn't bring her food regularly.
  • Holly Black's Tithe trilogy fits this trope, but sort of inverts the Seelie/Unseelie dynamic. The fairies are as nasty as any monster, but the higher-ups have slightly reversed roles: The Seelie Queen is a master of political games, while the Unseelie Queen is basically straight with her court. That said, the Seelie fairies won't kill you on sight. These books also use the Tam Lin plotline of a sacrifice every seven years—the Seelie fairies will just spirit away a talented human, while the Unseelie fairies will murder the first person they can find.
    • Interestingly the Unseelie court is shown to work to the benefit of humanity: as the sacrifice every seven years binds all unaffiliated fairies in Unseelie territory to the Unseelie Queen's rule, it means she can control the Free fae and stop Kelpies and Redcaps and the like murdering people on a daily basis just because they feel like it. One Kelpie specifically says "We, who are not the rulers, we must obey those that are. Mortals are a treat for the Gentry, and not for the likes of you and me. Unless, of course, they are willing."
  • Emma Bull's War for the Oaks has the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court. The Seelies are at the least, tolerant of humans, and usually kind and friendly—as the Fae would define it. They're even capable of falling in love with humans as humans would recognize love. The Unseelies are malicious and nasty, and think nothing of twisting a mere mortal to their ends.
  • The fae in Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files are like this. They're split into the Summer (Seelie) and Winter (Unseelie) Courts, ruled over by Queens Titania and Mab respectively. Summer is generally more benevolent, while Winter is more malicious. They're obsessed with obligations—everything, from food and drink to information, has to be traded for, and there is no going back on a deal with the Fae. Accepting gifts from the Fae is a very bad idea, as it basically means your are in undefined debt to them, and giving them a gift is seen as a horrible insult. They are very vulnerable to anything with iron in it, and see its use as incredibly cruel. They Can Not Tell a Lie, but that's far from saying they're truthful; very careful attention needs to be paid to Exact Words when dealing with the fae, since they love Loophole Abuse.[2]
    • Even the Summer Fae have a rather alien outlook on things like morality. Aurora thought it was a good idea to let the Courts destroy one another for the sake of breaking the balance between them, despite the massive destruction and death this would cause, because it would mean the end of fairy meddling in mortal lives forever. Titania has no problem ordering her soldiers to destroy Dresden even while she is technically indebted to him, purely for the sake of preventing Dresden from saving Marcone on Mab's instructions; from Titania's perspective, if Mab wants Marcone saved, she wants him not to be saved (although there is also the fact that she has little enough love for Dresden in the first place since he killed her daughter, even though she was trying to destroy the Sidhe). The best way to sum up the Summer morality is that while it can include kindness, it is by no means defined by it.
    • Among the Winter Court... Well, sure, the Leanansidhe wants to turn her poor beleaguered godson into a dog, but that's because as far as she's concerned he'd be much safer and happier as one of her hounds than he is at the moment. (She might have a valid point there) And Maeve once ordered monsters to attack Chicago as part of a Batman Gambit because she was worried that the Faerie Courts hadn't moved against the Red Court because of Mab's bizarre behavior, leading to a chain of events that saved a significant portion of the White Council. As Harry says in Changes Even in Winter, the cold isn’t always bitter, and not every day is cruel.
      • The best way to sum it up might be that style is more important than substance in this case; for example, two fairies come across a hobo, and in a fit of benevolence, decide to help him. One gives him a banquet, a bath, some nice warm clothes, the works. The other harangues him, makes his life hell, and forces him to clean himself up, get a job and stand on his own two feet. In this case, both have made an effort to help him, but the first one would be called to Summer in a time of war, while the other would be headed Winterwards.
  • In Cassandra Clare's City of Ashes,

Simon: They can't be worse than vampires, and you did all right with them.
Jace: All right? By which I take it you mean we survived?
Simon: Well...
Jace: Faeries are the offspring of angels and demons, with the beauty of angels and the viciousness of demons. A vampire might attack you, if you entered its domain, but a faerie could make you dance until you died with your legs ground down into stumps, trick you into going for a midnight swim and drag you screaming underwater until your lungs burst, fill your eyes with faerie dust until you gouged them out at the roots--
Clary: Jace! Shut up. Jesus. That's enough.
Jace: Look, it's easy to outsmart a werewolf or vampire. They're no smarter than anyone else. But faeries live for hundreds of years and they're as cunning as snakes. They can't lie, but they love to engage in creative truth-telling. They'll find out whatever it is you want most in the world and give it to you -- with a sting in the tail of the gift that will make you regret you ever wanted it in the first place. They're not about helping people. More harm disguised as help.

  • The Fairy Servants in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, particularly "The Gentleman With Thistledown Hair." A footnote in the book explains that there are two faculties in both men and fairies: a faculty of reason and a faculty of magic. Men possess a greater share of reason than magic, and the fairies are the exact opposite. The book also describes the three classes of supernatural beings—angels, demons and fairies—as being "eternally good", "infernally wicked" and "morally suspect" in that order.
  • In John Connolly's short story The New Daughter, a family settle in a house built next to a "fairy fort." The hive of fairies imprisoned within are eyeless monsters that attack anyone who sits too close to the roof of their fort; the eldest daughter falls victim to this—they bury her alive and replace her with a changeling, who converts the rest of the family and releases them from the fort.
  • The Fair Folk in The Bitterbynde trilogy by Cecilia Dart-Thornton for the most part are masters of gramarye (Functional Magic), beautiful, arrogant, and cruel. Several Faeran characters appeal to the idea that their moral code is merely different to that of mortals, and that they cannot be considered evil. It's not entirely convincing when you hear tales of their awful retribution for meaningless and unmeant "crimes" perpetrated by mortals.
    • In a twist to this portrayal of the Fair Folk, (the following is a HUGE spoiler, so don't read this if you wish to enjoy the books) the main character falls in love with the Faeran High King, who is anything but cruel, yet still adheres to the "Our morals are different" mantra when the mortal maiden questions the actions of his kindred.
    • There are other magical beings in the books, collectively called Wights. These fall into the Seelie (benevolent to mankind) and Unseelie (malevolent to mankind) categories, but the Faeran have no such distinction.
  • Unsurprisingly, Fairies tend to be pretty unsympathetic in modern day versions of "Tam Lin", such as Pamela Dean's Tam Lin and Diana Wynne Jones' Fire and Hemlock. In Dean's version, the Fairies are described as absolutely alien: "like linear A. They look as if they ought to mean something, but you can't tell what it is."
  • The Fair Folk in Tom Deitz's Tales of David Sullivan are completely unable to comprehend human morality. They have a very strict code of honor, and show signs of honest affection for others, but they are truly immortal—if they are killed, they simply come back. They fight wars out of sheer boredom. This leaves them without any understanding of human death, and thus extremely careless of consequences. They also have very little sense of human social mores: to start with, one of the secondary characters has sex with a selkie, both in humanoid forms and in seal forms. They are very clearly the old gods of Ireland, with all the capriciousness one would expect from having read any Irish Mythology at all.
  • The Others in A Song of Ice and Fire are a cross between elves, vampires, and cold elementals. The children of the forest are a diminutive, woodland folk with great power. Although they warred with mankind, they eventually made peace, then dwindled away as civilization swept through the continent.
  • Tad Williams seems to like this one, as he uses variants on it in several of his works:
    • In Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, you have the Sithi (basically benevolent, but still alien and unpredictable and with little love for humans) and the Norns (their arctic, Exclusively Evil cousins). Physically, they resemble eerily beautiful and graceful humans with Eyes of Gold and white hair, but Sithi have golden skin and dye their hair various bright colors, while the Norns have chalk white skin and leave their hair its natural color.
    • In The War of the Flowers, "fairy" can be used to describe any intelligent inhabitant of the Magical Land the protagonist gets stuck in, but specifically refers to the humanoid aristocracy, who are (almost) always evil.
    • Largely subverted in Shadowmarch; the Qar (fairy) races are alien and hostile to humans, but on the whole are no more or less prone to evil than mortals, and the real villains are the mortal Evil Overlord and the Trickster Archetype god who's manipulating him. Lady Yasammez, the most overtly menacing and hostile of the Qar, actually ends up making a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The fairies in Charles de Lint's The Blue Girl have no sense of empathy and are very mischievous. The ghost in the book was a lonely nerdy boy who they befriended because he could see them. They told him they would make him able to fly and when he jumps off the school roof they let him fall to his death for their amusement. They don't really understand why he's so mad when he comes back as a ghost. Let it also be noted that they didn't lie to him, they can actually make him fly and they were doing so but they just decided it would be funny to let him fall.
  • The Alternate Universe version of Tir Gwyngelli in Teresa Edgerton's The Grail and the Ring is Fairyland - the version of Tir Gwyngelli popular in many travellers' tales.
  • Raymond E. Feist's 1988 book, Faerie Tale, where the good elves are dangerous and the evil ones are planning a genocidal war. When an ordinary family accidentally move to a home with an elf hill on the property things go rapidly downhill.
  • The Merry Gentry books by Laurel K. Hamilton is one of the most comprehensive list of faerie mythologies, in between the sex scenes. Both modernizing and explaining in detail a version of the Seelie and Unseelie courts of the sidhe, which are essentially depicted as elemental beings given flesh, or elves (though the idea of their pointed ears is supposedly only true of mixed breeds). Though in Hamilton's world the Sidhe are the ruling race of faerie, there are plenty of brownies, goblins, pixies, and so on. Despite their names, both courts of faerie are shown as having their good sides and bad... namely that while the Seelie sidhe are much more civilized and friendly, they're basically completely preoccupied with appearances and willingly embracing pretty lies to cover ugly truths, and while the Unseelie sidhe are more comfortable with flagrant sex and torture, they're also more accepting of people or creatures regardless of looks or species, having an official open-door policy for all of Faerie kind. Overall the world of Faerie is expressed as one that's neither good nor bad, but simply primal, from the slaugh ("The nightmares of Faerie kind") to the sidhe.
  • John Keats' La Belle Dame Sans Merci.
  • Katharine Kerr's Deverry series has both the Tolkienesque style Westfolk, and the Guardians, who are typical Fair Folk.
  • Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill is more pleasant than most. Still, Laser-Guided Amnesia features.

Can you wonder that the People of the Hills don't care to be confused with that painty-winged, wand-waving, sugar-and-shake-your-head set of impostors? Butterfly wings, indeed! I've seen Sir Huon and a troop of his people setting off from Tintagel Castle for Hy-Brasil in the teeth of a sou'-westerly gale, with the spray flying all over the Castle, and the Horses of the Hills wild with fright. Out they'd go in a lull, screaming like gulls, and back they'd be driven five good miles inland before they could come head to wind again. Butterfly-wings! It was Magic - Magic as black as Merlin could make it, and the whole sea was green fire and white foam with singing mermaids in it. And the Horses of the Hills picked their way from one wave to another by the lightning flashes! That was how it was in the old days!

  • R.A. Lafferty's The Reefs of Earth gives us the Puca, a composite Fair Folk depicted as part alien colonists, part goblins, and part Irish Travellers, with hints of Nephilim and Neanderthal about them as well. The mature Puca in the novel are quite mellow, but their charming and precocious children sincerely want to kill every human on the planet.
  • The Chronicles of Fairie, a series by O.R. Melling, fits this trope nicely. The trope is subverted, though, in that fairies you meet are sympathetic...to a degree. They're willing to go to almost any length to get what they want.
  • Andre Norton examples:
    • Dread Companion. It's a Science Fiction novel with interstellar travel and settlements. Nevertheless, the beings who try to lure away the children are clearly The Fair Folk.
    • Here Abide Monsters. A Speculative Fiction novel including flying saucers. Nevertheless, the people of Avalon - the Alternate Universe into which the protagonists stumble via a Cool Gate - are The Fair Folk.
    • In the short story "The Long Night of Waiting", Lizzie's description of the people in the Alternate Universe in which she and her brother were trapped clearly indicates The Fair Folk, although they seem well-intentioned. Note that "Lizzie" is also the name of one of the girls in Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market.
  • The Elves of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, as seen in Lords and Ladies and The Wee Free Men, are callous, even sadistic, sociopaths of the worst kind. There's a very good reason why they are the page quote up at the top.
    • However, while they are powerful and cruel, they tend to be thick and unable to learn, and aside from the Queen and select Lords (and even they tend to be highly unimaginative), seem to be almost incapable of forming much original thought.

Granny Weatherwax: You call yourself some kind of goddess and you know nothing, madam, nothing. What don't die can't live. What don't live can't change. What don't change can't learn. The smallest creature that dies in the grass knows more than you. You're right. I'm older. You've lived longer than me but I'm older than you. And better'n you. And, madam, that ain't hard.

    • In addition, Gnomes are not evil but can channel six feet worth of cynicism and violence into six inches of height, while their cousins the Pictsies—well, shrink a battlefield full of extras from Braveheart, strip off most of the civility, replace it with larcenous intent and moonshine whiskey, and you'll have the Nac Mac Feegle, at which point you should run away very fast. They love stealing cows and are extremely good at running off with one—one Pictsie per hoof.
    • Winged fairies seem to be fairly mindless and vicious creatures, somewhere between insects and the more aggressive kinds of songbird.
    • Let's not forget the dryads, who employ dangerous Wild Magic, would've executed Rincewind for slightly injuring a tree (which he was falling out of at the time), and whose males—yes, they exist—are built like Vin Diesel built of solid oak.
  • Terri Windling's Border Town anthologies have a mashup of various fae types. There are elven street gangs, half-elves, fae wannabes, fae-touched, and so on. And their behaviour toward humans varies accordingly. The Bordertown actually exists on the border of genuine, under-the-hill Faerie, and the river running through it is called the Mad River, because to humans one sip is instantaneously addictive and insanity-generating though it is possible to recover from Mad River addiction -- Tick-Tick helped Orient get off the water.
  • Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted Edge series, and a whole host of other related works, are set in a world where the Seleighe and Unseleighe Sidhe are very real, both dwelling "Underhill", a sort of parallel dimension that is imbued with magic and touches on our world at "Nodes." They were driven there by the increasing preponderance of iron (which is hazardous to them) in the world, but some have adjusted and made a comeback.
    • Iron also causes their magic to go awry, sometimes shooting off in oh-dear-I-MEANT-straight-not-LEFT directions, although both they and their human allies have analyzed the whys of this effect and come up with clever ways to exploit it. To give some idea of just how thoroughly some have adjusted, the SERRAted Edge series itself is about a bunch of elves who drive race cars made of non-ferrous materials like aluminum and fiberglass.
    • These books very strongly feature the Seleighe/Unseleighe ("good"/"evil") divide among the Fairie. The Unseleighe literally make a living off evil, feeding off the psychic energy of pain and suffering. They also hold grudges millennia past their expiration dates and believe in returning all ills sevenfold.
      • The Seleighe have a huge soft-spot for children (explained by their own very small birth rate), and many books feature their efforts to protect abused kids, often by kidnapping them from desperate situations to raise as their own Underhill. For all their good qualities, though, even the Seleighe are often portrayed as supercilious, arrogant, and given to pettiness.
      • She also gives an interesting twist to why Sidhe lifestyles are so extravagant and decadent; they are completely incapable of creating anything of their own, instead having to "ken" or copy what they see and assimilate it into their own culture, likely using what they steal to amuse themselves and build an illusion of a glamorous life. Don't point out from where they stole their Hammer Horror-style castle throne room design from, though; they get a touch sensitive about being reminded of their attempted creative infringement.
    • Lackey also touched on this trope in an episode from the first Bardic Voices book, where Rune has to rescue her Bardic Master/love interest from an Elven king. She succeeds (luckily Elves are vulnerable to music) and forces the king to promise not to come after them or use magic or weapons against them. Sadly Rune isn't quite Genre Savvy enough; the enraged king ends up sending a huge-ass thunderstorm (weather being neither magical nor strictly a weapon) after them.
  • In Julian May's Saga of the Exiles novels, mavericks who don't fit into the galactic utopia of the future are quietly allowed to use a one-way time gate to the Pliocene if they want to opt out. Unfortunately Pliocene Earth is already occupied by the psychic Duat aliens, whose Tanu and Firvulag subraces bear a startling resemblance to the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and who fled from a utopia of their own so that they could continue their traditions of chivalry and romantic honour by waging an insanely bloodthirsty religious war against each other. The Tanu (seelie) accept psychic humans with the right attitude as their social equals and use mind control to enslave the rest as labourers, breeding stock, or expendable soldiers, while the Firvulag (unseelie) see the Tanu-human partnership as an almost blasphemous break with tradition and want to slaughter all the exiled humans so that their endless war with the Tanu can be fought "cleanly" and with honour. Not exactly nice fairies- and despite appearances, it's by no means clear that the Tanu are any better than the Firvulag.
    • What makes it even worse is that they're at least partially the direct ancestors of humanity. And the ostensibly "human" Mercy Rosmar, due to the high quota of Tanu genes, is a thorough ball-busting bitch.
  • The fair folk from Jack Vance's Lyonesse isn't downright malicious, but tends towards the whimsical in negligent or destructive fashion. Fear to tread...
  • The Mercy Thompson novels make this very clear in the third book, which features a kelpie that tries to eat Mercy. Not to mention the Grey Lords who consider killing Mercy for poking into their affairs, and only back off when they learn that killing Mercy would anger the Marrok and start a war with the werewolves.
  • The second Kushiel's Legacy trilogy introduces a human tribe of the Fantasy Counterpart Cultures Alba and Eire, who are described very like the Fair Folk: an old people who live in the wild, untamed areas, powerfully magical, and not malicious but adhering to a different moral standard. Some characters fear them and refuse to speak of them, while others welcome bargaining with them. Their Voluntary Shapeshifting and sympathetic magic play a vital role in the plot.
  • The third book in Kate Thompson's Switchers series, Wild Blood, features fairies like these. As the series was intended for children, the fairies aren't too malicious, but there are threats of violence towards the main characters (also children).
  • In Tales of MU, elves historically fell into this trope and some wild adolescent elves still live there. Faeries exist, too, and are the only thing that Badass elven hunter is afraid of (apart from bears).
  • Gene Wolfe's No Planets Strike has the Beautiful Ones of the planet Sidhe, who allow unlimited immigration in (supplemented by luring sailors off trading spaceships) but won't allow anyone to leave once there, kill those who try, and horrifically torture those who otherwise run afoul of them.
  • They featured heavily in Chivalric Romance. Such as Sir Orfeo, which starts with the king of Fairy kidnapping Orfeo's wife—although when Orfeo gets a promise out of him, he does keep it. They are particularly likely in the earlier ones. Such as Morgan Le Fay (Le Fay = the Fairy, don't forget), who really was one of the Fair Folk in the oldest romances. The Lady Of the Lake was also a fairy who mutated into an enchantress. Still, they never quite left; the late romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight features the Green Knight who is overtly one of the Fair Folk.
    • In Sir Orfeo, the fairy king takes people at the moment of their death and keeps them in his kingdom as they were then:

Then he began to gaze about
and saw within the walls a rout
of folk that were thither drawn below
and mourned as dead, but were not so.
For some there stood who had no head,
and some no arms, nor feet; some bled
and through their bodies wounds were set
and some were strangled as they ate,
and some lay raving, chained and bound,
and some in water had been drowned;
and some were withered in the fire,
and some on horse, in war's attire,
and wives there lay in their childbed...

  • A child's book called Wild Robin plays straight and then subverts this trope. The eponymous Robin runs away from home, falls asleep in a Fairy Ring, and is taken to the Realm of Faerie. He enjoys it for a while, then becomes homesick, and one particular fairy teases him. Then the fairy sees Robin's older sister crying, missing him, feels remorse and tells her the secret way to break the spell and free Robin. She does. Also, that irregular passage of time thing doesn't happen in this book.
  • The Warlock series by Christopher Stasheff has Fairies who are shaped from Gramarye's native fungus by the unconscious telepathy of the human inhabitants, more-or-less based directly on Medieval English fairly tales and Shakespeare, and even Puck and the Half-Human Hybrid Brom, allies of the protagonist, can show a very dark side at times. The first meetings each had with Rod nearly cost him his life. The other Wee Folk only help out on occasion because Gwen and her kids have Fairy blood. They also have an inconsistent relationship with iron.
    • The Wee Folk of Gramarye also have to be placated; everyone who leaves out milk at night and avoids putting Cold Iron outside their house will be left alone. Those who don't... well, they go through a lot of milk on Gramarye.
  • Some short stories and The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany (Anglo-Irish, with a heavy emphasis on the Anglo portion) have elves and similar creatures to whom human life is an incomprehensible mystery. Even after living among humans for many years, they never quite get the hang of it.
  • In John Ringo's Council Wars series Elves, who are actually a product of genetic engineering are portrayed as holding themselves apart from humanity, including the eponymous wars except for one who is shown as good if mischievous and she's a different subspecies from the others. It's often hinted that the origin of Elves might be even older than thought and outright said that it's a good thing they hold themselves aloof, because if they ever chose to interfere in human affairs we wouldn't have a chance.
  • Coraline (again by Neil Gaiman) strongly hints that the Other Mother is one of the Fair Folk, with one of her victims saying her true name is the Beldam (a possible play on La Belle Dame Sans Merci, a poem where a knight is cursed to suffer eternally after having relations with a fairy maiden, although it's also just an archaic word for "witch").
    • To clear up the Beldam confusion: it appears this word originally signified "an old woman, generally an ugly one". However this word seems to have mutated to, quoting The Other Wiki, "an old woman or creature, particularly an ugly one, believed to be evil and who enjoys child abuse. They are also considered a form of witch that specialize in causing resentment and white lies to give people false impressions like in prophecies or in people's minds." A rather accurate portrait of The Other Mother. Not much to do with faeries, however her hunting methods are reminiscent of those often used by The Fair Folk.
    • One of said victims appears to be a nicer sort of fairy—this is only revealed toward the end in the original novel, but due to the necessity of actually portraying them visually, shows up sooner in the Graphic Novel, and was dropped for the film version.
  • Charlaine Harris in her The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries series would have it both ways with Claudine and Claude. The former aspires to be an angel and tries to do good whilst the latter is amoral at best but both chose to live amongst humans. Then there is Niall Brigant, the grandfather to the two and Sookie Stackhouse's great-grandfather, a fairy prince who has a benign but distant regard for humanity yet sees the benefits of tapping into human industries. Others of their kind have a distinct hatred for humanity and all that it represents. This tension over human contact and interbreeding leads to a civil war and some use mankind as its fodder.
    • Don't forget the fairies that drowned Sookie's parents and later kidnapped and tortured Sookie by cutting her up and biting off chunks of her flesh. Yeesh.
  • The People (including various kinds of fairies, goblins, dwarves...) in Artemis Fowl are actually sympathetic, contrasted against the Teen Genius Villain Protagonist. They live underground, have highly advanced technology (ray guns, lots of ray guns), and do everything they can to hide themselves from humans. They also have some vampire-like weaknesses- they are extremely vulnerable to sunlight, and risk losing their magical powers if they enter a human dwelling without permission. What fits them for this trope is that they're quite frankly condescending towards humans, calling us 'Mud People'. Nobody's really called them out on it... maybe because they're the ones hiding from us, what do they have to be proud of?
    • We're catching up fast, and have Artemis, who in the first book plans to extort from the elves. The brilliant part? It WORKS and he pulls a Karma Houdini and utterly gets away with filching a SHITLOAD of gold while managing to avoid any real negative consequences. It helps that he gave half of it back in a bargain to help fix his sick mother, but still....
  • A book called The Changeling deals with this, and with an outcast of their own kind.
  • Melissa Marr's Faerie Court series is made of this trope; her faeries are divided into four courts: Winter, Summer, Dark, and High (with the occasional solitary fae moving freely among the courts). Each court has defining characteristics, but the fae themselves are very much individual people with distinct personalities. Most, to some degree, view humans as inferior; the extent of this can vary, with some seeing them as wayward children and others as expendable playthings.
  • Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters Trilogy features Fair Folk based on the ancient legends, and far from cuddly.
  • Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series has a brief appearance by a sidhe. Most of the time he looks like an evangelist, but when the main characters work out some kind of "true seeing" charm, he looks more The Greys. He had apparently been imprisoning and feeding on the psychic energy of vampires and werewolves, and one reasonably knowledgeable character seemed to think of him as an Eldritch Abomination.
  • The Name of the Wind features one of these as a boon companion for Kvothe in his "present-day" years. However, at the end of the book, he confronts the Chronicler and tells him they both know the truth about the demons roaming the countryside. There are no such things as demons; just very nasty fae. Despite the ominous hints, Bast still clearly cares greatly for Kvothe and seems to have a somewhat compatible sense of right and wrong...his perspective on the world is just very different, and he can be exceedingly selfish. That Bast looks fairly moral to the reader is largely because Bast's selfishness covers his love for Kvothe, so his actions are usually in Kvothe's best interests as well as his own. He shows something of a nastier side in The Wise Man's Fear.
    • Felurian in The Wise Man's Fear is closer to the Fair Folk classic trope. Essentially a leanansidhe or succubus figure, she's a creature of desire, almost like an Anthropomorphic Personification of seduction. She is described as innocent but caring little for right and wrong; she seduces men who pursue her into Faerie, takes them as lovers, and when she eventually tires of them they die or go insane for wanting to be with her. While sympathetic, something of a mentor figure, and certainly a strange and wondrous being, she is very dangerous, not out of malice but simply out of being so different.
      • And then there's the Cthaeh who is omniscient and always tell the truth. Problem is it enjoys telling the truth that will hurt the listener the most (it's omniscient so it already knows all of the listener's reactions to anything it says) and cause grand-scale disasters.
  • Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom of Landover series runs the gamut from the fairies of the mists, who, while more or less benevolent, are also Eldritch Abominations, to the fairies who actually live within the Kingdom itself, who in turn range from Willow's mother, a wild, basically amoral free spirit, to Willow's father, who is sort of lawful goodish with serious Jerkass tendencies, to Willow herself, who is clearly good and benevolent. Oh, and then there's Nightshade.
  • Fairy lore plays a part in Tana French's novel In the Woods. The mystery of what happened to Rob and his friends in 1984 is deliberately left ambiguous, but one valid interpretation is that the Pooka took the kids. In the sequel, The Likeness, it's hinted that Whitethorn House may have been a fairy stronghold and that the family at some point coupled or intermarried with the Fair Folk. (It's also possible that this is just nasty local rumor, in part meant to justify the village's ongoing dislike of the family.) Cassie is also spooked by unseen things scuttling around in the fields at night.
  • The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer. The elves kidnap toddlers, put them on leashes, and when they get tired of them, leave them for the wolves to eat.
  • In the Wicked Lovely series, the main plot of the first book has the main character dealing with being caught in between two faeries and in the other books almost all of the main characters are Fey. They fit very much within this trope. Even the ones that are rather nice don't tend to understand human emotions, some of them are downright cruel, and many have a Blue and Orange Morality going.
  • In the Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning the Fae are definitely not cute or charming. At all.
  • Many of the characters in Elizabeth Hand's novel Mortal Love are implied to be Fair Folk. One of the main characters, Larkin, is even referred to directly as "La Belle Dame Sans Merci".
  • The Stolen Child is founded in the myth of the changeling found in European folklore (wherein the Fair Folk/fairies/hobgoblins/sidhe steal a human child and replace it with one of their own). The fairies/hobgoblins of The Stolen Child are not evil, per se, but they are wild and uncivilized creatures, given to theft, vandalism, all manner of mischief, and of course stealing human children.
  • David Brin's Those Eyes has faeries as 'aliens' who do traditional mischievous faerie and cow-mutilating alien things. Who are being driven to extinction by humans being more skeptical, seeing through their glamour.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, the elves are Fallen Angels who didn't fall all the way to Hell. Don't eat their food, don't offer them boons, don't accept gifts, etc. -- though you can cope if you are careful enough.
  • Kiersten White's Paranormalcy plays this trope pretty straight. The Seelie Courts are the 'good' ones and the Unseelie are the 'bad' ones and they are all weak to iron and some extent silver... and get drunk on soft drinks. Neither side can resist a 'Named Command' but both twist the words of the command into something they like and don't obey the same laws as humans ("physical, social, emotional, traffic") and only work towards their own designs. The only difference between the two appears to be that the Unseelie will kill people for no reason, while the Seelie have some sort of justification: however neither side appears to have any problem with creating prophecies that predict the death of tens of paranormals (possible all of them) and creatures (Evie and Vivian) to carry out these prophecies and steal souls JUST TO SEE WHO WINS! Don't worry if you have trouble telling the difference between them, Evie thought her ex-boyfriend Reth was Unseelie. It's a very understandable given that he manipulated her, stalked her, kidnapped her, burnt her arm, stalked her some more, let a serial killer into the IPCA where it killed her best friend, held her new boyfriend hostage so he could get a new name, kidnapped her again, and then explained, vaguely, what was going on. And even he thinks the Unseelie are horrible.
  • Robert E. Howard wrote several stories, the best known of which is the Bran Mak Morn story "Worms of the Earth" featuring a race that lived in Britain before first the Picts, then the Celts drove them literally underground where they mutated from their already unpleasant orginal selves into reptilian abominations.
  • The Aelfinn & Eelfinn (Snakes & Foxes) of The Wheel of Time are very much the (unnamed as such) Fair Folk, complete with otherworldliness and Seelie & Unseelie division.
  • Goblins are one of Clifford Simak's Creator Thumbprints. They may be from parallel dimensions, they may be creatures of magic, they may be alien colonists. They may enter our folklore if we contacted them in the past. The only thing that's sure is that they are just alien. And we shoulnd't really try to understand them, we can't.
  • The Phanfasms in the Oz book The Emerald City of Oz: Sadistic, creepy, illusion-slinging shapeshifters who have every intention of turning on their allies as soon as their mutual enemy is dealt with. Thank Lurline for the Fountain of Oblivion.
  • Where to even BEGIN with how thoroughly this trope is used by Paul Kidd in his novelization "Descent Into The Depths Of The Earth". Faeries are ancient, powerful, decadent, insular, isolationist, supremacist, given to truly byzantine machinations to get what they want, and most of them think PHYSICAL REALITY is beneath them.
  • Surprisingly for a kid's book, many of the denizens of the Wildworld in Lisa Jane Smith 's The Night of the Solstice fit this to a T.
  • The Hebrew translation of The Lord of the Rings (accidentally?) turned Tolkien's elves into the Fair Folk without actually changing anything in the story. Lacking a real translation for "elf", the older Hebrew versions called them "Shedim" (demons), "Shedonim" (imps or goblins) and perhaps most interestingly, "Bene Lilith" (Children of Lilith/Children of The Night Lady). Nothing about their actions or descriptions was really changed, but somehow simply being called "demons" turned all of their beauty, grace, and (supposed?) niceness sinister and creepy.
  • Althought the elves are more similar to the Tolkien version, the elves in the Inheritance Cycle nonetheless have traits similar to this. Elves are immortal and magical creatures and though they're mostly good guys it's outright stated that they are haughty, arrogant, twist the truth around and are constantly plotting.
  • The Veela in Harry Potter are all beautiful and alluring creatures whose dancing exerts a form of mind control over the men who watch them. When angered they transform into birdlike, taloned creatures and throw balls of light.
    • The goblins are described as a cunning and ruthless and their sense of morality is different from ours. For example, in the first book when Harry visits the wizard bank, the goblins who run it say that anyone who tries to break into a vault will be sucked inside and trapped. The goblin smiles and says that they only check the vaults for would be thieves every few years.
  • In Tam Lin, the Queen of Elphame lures humans into her realm where she eventually sacrifices them as a tithe to Hell.
  • The fairies in Poison fit this perfectly. The whole plot is set in motion by one of them kidnapping the heroine's sister.
  • A mostly benign version appears in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain.
  • Played almost painfully straight with the world of Mark Chadbourn's The Age of Misrule and subsequent series' in the same world. Above Good and Evil, Black and Gray Morality, Blue and Orange Morality, The Unfettered, Pay Evil Unto Evil abound in a Crapsack World, and thats just the Tuatha Dé Danann. Their "evil" counterparts, the Fomorii... are worse.
  • Karlsson on the Roof is theorized by many readers to be a modernized urban Faerie—which would go a long way to explain his mischievous Jerkass nature, his Vague Age and his self-centered tendencies towards Blue and Orange Morality. By human standards he's an undeniable jerk, but by Fae standards he's actually a pretty decent guy.
  • In Devon Monk's Dead Iron, LeFel is an exiled fairy and will die soon if he doesn't get back. He's extremely unscrupulous about means.
  • Dennis L. McKiernan likes to demonstrate his knowledge of fairy lore in his Mithgar series as well as his Faery series.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Fairies from the Torchwood episode "Small Worlds," who would think nothing of drowning the world beneath a flood to get their hands on one little girl.
  • The Sidhe in Merlin transformed two of their own into mortals as a punishment. They require the death of a mortal prince before they'll change one of them back.
    • ...And that was the one who hadn't technically done anything. She seems to have only been transformed because of her father's crime.
    • The Sidhe reappear in series three: they possess a baby princess then wait around till she grows up and they can manipulate things so she'll marry Arthur. The implication is that at some point Princess Elena will be completely consumed by the Sidhe.
  • Although they aren't fairies, many full witches in Sabrina the Teenage Witch act like this. Sabrina's cousin Amanda likes to turn people into dolls, and Dante, a boy she dated, said 'what fun is hanging out with mortals if you can't torture them?'
  • The Eleventh Doctor from Doctor Who, acts a lot like an elf (especially when he's being written by anybody other than Steven Moffat). Villains are scared of him. So is he.
    • By extension, all the Time Lords can be considered this.
  • Although he got downright cuddly in later adaptations, the forerunner of the character who became LazyTown's Sportacus is damn scary, though technically good, in the first play. There are times it seems that Áfram Latibær's moral is actually supposed to be "behave, or the big bad scary Sports Elf will get you".
  • Lost Girl: Every supernatural creature is effectively fae. This includes vampires, kappa, succubi, and lots of other nasty things (thought Dark Is Not Evil is in effect for some of the characters). The ruling bodies of the Fae are effectively the Seelie and Unseelie Courts (here referred to as "Light" and "Dark"), and both courts view humans as a handy tool for their plans and ascribe to rather dated notions of justice (such as Combat by Champion).
  • In the Supernatural episode "Clap Your Hands If You Believe...", fairies are initially mistaken for aliens due to their penchant for abducting people.
  • The Black Lodge people from Twin Peaks.
  • The Fairies in their true form on True Blood.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Emilie Autumn's story included in the re-release of her first album, Enchant, is about one of the fair folk falling in love with a human. And the resulting mess.
  • Inkubus Sukkubus' song "Away with the faeries", and potentially a good deal of their other songs as well.
  • The Fall's "Elves", although it's all very hard to follow...
  • Three Weird Sisters' Song of Fey Cross portrays a typical Gaelic style faerie mound legend.
  • Current 93, in addition to their version of Tam Lin, have a number of songs about this theme, with "Oh Coal Black Smith" (actually based on a Renaissance-era poem) bringing home the gold for being pure fearsomeness.
  • The Decemberists' The Hazards of Love, loosely inspired by the Tam Lin legend.
  • The Pogues Sit Down by The Fire

And if you ever see them
pretend that you're dead
Or they'll bite off your head
They'll rip out your liver
And dance on your neck
They dance on your head
They dance on your chest
And they give you the cramp
And the cholic for jest


Poems/Ballads[edit | hide]

  • The Stolen Child, by William Butler Yeats, is about a child lead away by the fairies. While they might be doing him a favor, as it's implied that he's unhappy (although he might just be overwhelmed by the misery around him), they show no sign of telling his parents or family that he's alright.
  • Goethe's Erlkönig, along a very similar theme to the above. In this poem the "Erl-King" is a Faerie creature who wants a boy he finds pretty to come with him, but when the boy refuses, he seizes the boy's soul by force, killing him (though an alternative interpretation holds that the ill boy was feverishly hallucinating). The name Erlkönig is often anglicized as Erl-King or Alder-King, but it is ultimately a corruption of the Danish ellerkonge, which in fact means Elf-King.
  • A topical complement (and historically the inspiration) to Erlkönig is Herr Oluf (alternately titled Erlkönig's Daughter), another German ballad inspired by Danish folklore, by Goethe's contemporary Johann Herder. A young bridegroom is riding around to invite the guests for his wedding the other day, when he meets the elves. The Elf-Queen asks him to dance with her. When he adamantly refuses, she curses him with a sickness. Next morning, he's dead.
  • While the William Allinghan's famous poem, The Fairy Folk gives them a rather cutesy description, they're still creatures to be feared:

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men

    • Not to mention a part of stealing a child for seven years, who then dies of sorrow, and the little people ignorantly wait for her to wake up again.
  • Christina Rossetti's poem, Goblin Market, is about a girl who starves herself after giving in to temptation and eating fairy food.
  • Neil Gaiman's "The Fairy Reel" is about a man with whom a fairy girl has fallen in love. She's so in love with him that she decides to literally steal his heart. Later she gets bored with it, and uses it to string a violin.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The Fair Folk (appropriately enough) of the tabletop RPG Exalted, who are shapeless chaotic beings who feed off of the emotions of mortals, often leaving them zombified husks. They don't typically have driving motivations so much as drives they adopt because they seem dramatically appropriate, and would like to see Creation as a whole dissolve into the Wyld because the very concept of something operating by logic disgusts them.
    • Well, not always. Quite a fair amount of them have moved into Creation, losing the "shapeless" part. God help you if you find one of the Unshaped.... There's a certain pathos to these; they're still scary monsters from the perspective of Creation, but to themselves they're magnificent nobility stranded on the edges of an alien world who cannot return home (since scarier things await them...)
  • The Elves in Banestorm are amiable but shy folk who hide in the wilderness but are sometimes friendly enough to humans despite their encroachments. The closest thing to Fair Folk mentioned are the Dark Elves which are a cult of elf mages that tried to make a spell casting the enemies of the elves from the world and ended up bringing humans in. It does not take much to see memories of the fair folk as distorted tales left by all the disappearances.
  • Changeling: The Lost paints Fairies as powerful incomprehensible alien entities that regularly abduct humans and take them off to their homeland, where they are warped to fit their masters' perceptions of them. The Changelings of the title are humans who've managed to escape back to Earth, but who've been changed by their time in the world of the Faerie and are trying to avoid their former captors at all costs. Notably, Changeling also directly correlates the modern concept of Alien Abduction with the Fae, explicitly invoking such standbys as lights in the sky, strange experiments, and Keepers taking the form of Little Green Men or The Greys in a number of places.
    • It is explained later that the True Fae need conflict to prevent themselves fading away into the random background chaos of Arcadia. As a result, the closest thing they have to friends among other Fae are their sworn enemies, as by fighting they're keeping each other alive. They can also be inanimate objects (Props), legions of lesser beings (Wisp), and entire self-enclosed universes (Realms) in addition to their normal forms (Actors). With enough Titles, they can do the aforementioned simultaneously!
    • This is in marked contrast to the earlier Changeling: The Dreaming, where the Player Character Changelings were actual (half-)Faeries using human disguises to protect themselves from Disbelief, in the Old World of Darkness. Though the Kithain were basically fae souls shaped by human experiences, some—especially the Redcaps and Sluagh, and the Sidhe of both Courts just after their return to the Tellurian—were often chillingly inhuman and capricious, at least when played right. Some sub-groups—the Leanhaun Sidhe for example—were specifically meant to reflect the more traditional view of The Good People as rapacious and unsympathetic to their mortal victims.
    • White Wolf also published Dark Ages: Fae which is "officially" considered to be a prequel to Changeling: The Dreaming, but is so radically different it can also be run as a full Alternate Universe. In it fairies are divided into The Firstborn; who are true fae without need for that pesky mortal shell. Inanimae; beings whose bodies are based on natural elements, as well as artificial constructs. And Changelings; who in this setting are different from both the above. Being human children spirted away and raised as faeries, faerie children raised in the human world, or true Half Human Hybrids. The fae are divided into 5 courts based around their preferred powers and attitude towards humans. All four of the primary courts, the fifth simply being the neutral group, quite easily come across as this trope. It's been remarked that the difference between good and evil faeries isn't over whether they should rule over humans, but rather how they should go about it. The Spring Court wants to learn about "modern" humanity and use that knowledge to revive the fear and reverence that they once received. The Summer are the harsh traditionalists, and intend to punish humans for breaking their ancient, and forgotten, oaths, and restore the old order. The Autumn Court, like the spring, wish to learn more about humans and work with them, however rather then outright respect they wish to manipulate the course of history from behind the scenes. Finally is the Winter Court, which isn't actually Exclusively Evil, but they do their best to appear so to humanity. The fact that characters tend to have very alien and unique systems of morality is one of the games major themes.
  • The Elves in Magic: The Gathering's Lorwyn set are horned and hooved, supposedly to remind you of deer and satyrs, but... They are also aristocratic, ruthless, and predatory, and have built a society with castes based on cunning and physical attractiveness. The Castes range from Faultless, Immaculate, Exquisite, to Perfect, the top of the pack. Eyeblights, which includes non-Elves as well as ugly or disfigured Elves, are scum and can (or must) be killed.
    • Flavor text for the original Alpha Llanowar Elves: "One bone broken for every twig snapped under foot." Pretty brutal for 1/1 druids that give you green mana.
    • There are also Faeries in the Lorwyn setting; they're mostly mischievous and disrupting, if not outright evil. Though they went from being simply mischievous in Lorwyn/Morningtide to being outright evil in Shadowmoor/Eventide. The Big Bad for that block was Oona, Queen of the Fae. And exceptionally overpowered.
    • This isn't altogether limited to Lorwyn, although the 'fairytale' nature of the setting certainly emphasized the various creatures' relevant traits. It's pretty much canon that the elves of Llanowar on the 'default' plane of Dominaria consider the life of a tree more important than that of a human, and while Magic's faeries may be the small winged pixie type in general, well, see the flavor text on Scryb Sprites if you think they're in any way, shape, or form harmless.
    • In most Magic sets, Elf creatures are very Tolkien-sian. A bit more xenophobic, but Tolkien's elves could be pretty xenophobic to anyone who wasn't the Chosen One too. They're still basically creatures of order and "live and let live", as shown by the fact that (until the Lorwyn block) the color of mana they are most likely to use, after green, is white. Lorwyn, though, is consciously based on faerie tales, so the predatory, capricious and aristocratic aspects of The Fair Folk got emphasized, and for the duration of the block elves were black secondarily to green instead of white. A tribe switching colors is rare, and switching to a rival color like that is almost unheard of.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons cosmology, the Seelie Court, ruled by Queen Titania, are arrogant elitists who refuse to consider non-Fey people. The Unseelie Court, ruled by the Queen of Air And Darkness, are simply monstrous. Of course, since the Dungeon Master has final say what goes on in his/her world, fey in individual campaigns can vary from one end of the spectrum to the other.
    • While elves are often described as being close to nature and the fey, they are still typed as humanoids; fey has its own type, and includes a very wide array of very strange creatures. In 4E, you may notice that there's not a single good-aligned fey among them...
    • 4e consolidates previous editions' elves into three main groups: the Eladrin (4e's High/Sun/Moon/Star elves), Elves (4e's vanilla/Wood/Wild elves), and Drow (the same ol' dark elves). The Eladrin were given the fey-subtype and elevated to the position of masters of the Feywild (4e's Faerie). The Seelie and Unseelie courts can be found in The Manual of the Planes supplement as the Summer and Winter courts respectively, as well as several other courts.
    • In 4E, you can play a warlock who's sworn fealty to The Fair Folk (or at least got them bent over a log). Needless to say, a lot of your powers rely on deception and flat-out Mind Rape. To give some idea of the kind of company the Fae are keeping here, the other four things a Warlock can pact with are The Legions of Hell (Infernal Pact), the things that hide behind the stars (Star Pact), the unknown aspects of capricious darkness (Dark Pact), & the remnants of dead heroes, dead gods and Sealed Evil in a Can (Vestige Pact).
    • 4E has the Primordials, who combine this trope with Cosmic Horror, especially Eldritch Abomination. Besides being responsible for the creation of the world, they would like nothing more than to return it to chaotic mush. Why? No reason, other than being the various embodiments of Elemental Powers who can't fathom why the Physical Gods wish a constant in the universe.
    • Birthright had splitting of Shadow World and the "normal" world, which also ripped all but one original Sie in two—a Sidhe (elf) attuned to (and immortal in) the normal world, able to use wizardry and a Seelie attuned to (and immortal in) the Shadow World, able to use natural magic (druidism) and Seeming. Now when an elf is born on Cerilia, a faerie just "appears" on the other side. So far no one managed to find two counterparts and bring the pair together to see what happens. Though Glamour isn't exclusive, they are much better at it than most other Shadow critters.
      • The Elves are as beautiful, shiny and powerful as they usually are. However, even the "good" ones strongly believe all other races to be inferior, though a few tolerate the better (and, ahem, most handsome) humans (but never dwarves or monstrous humanoids). A neutral Elf will kill anything he perceives as a potential threat to the Elves or their forests without a moment's hesitation. The less said about the Elves who are actually evil, the better.
      • The Shadow World make use of the Seelie and Unseelie Court concepts. The Unseelie are as vile and bloodthirsty as you'd expect, but the Seelie can also be very dangerous due to how alien their mindset is. They don't think twice about kidnapping human children like puppies who caught their eye—they tend not to see humans as people. Changeling "pets" see a good care, though, and can fend for themselves (even in the Shadow World) by the time they aren't that cute and Seelie sends them away.
    • In The Points of Light setting of 4e, in addition to the Eladrin, there are the Fomorians, a race of hideous, evil giants who universally have the powers of "the evil eye" and have the eternal allegiance of all the cyclopses.
    • In Ravenloft, the Arak or "shadow fey" range from meddlesome to Exclusively Evil in temperment, and don't limit themselves to stealing infants: if you have a talent or skill that appeals to them, they can sever your shadow, reducing you to a soulless automaton going through the motions. Your shadow becomes a construct that'll compliantly work for them forever. Even Good-aligned Arak insist they're doing them a favor when they practice this technique on mortals.
      • Even the conventional "sylvan fey" of the Land of Mists can be nastier than elsewhere, due to the ambient influence of the Dark Powers throughout the setting.
    • Forgotten Realms used to have few true fairies, but in Counselors and Kings Unseelie are presented as one of the very few things that can truly scare Drow, as opposed to irritate them or cause to back off for now.
      • Some fairies get along with others well, but still are fairly weird. The trio of Glouras (cute singing Underdark sprites with mothlike wings) runs a festhall in Sshamath, de-facto dancing club and concert hall known even to many human bards on the surface. In spin-a-yarn, the Bloody Fist tavern (Waterdeep) has as barmaids and sort of Fan Service "the Laughing Sisters", named so because they always giggle, who like to bite people's ears just for the sweet taste of blood. They help to deal with "problem customers" too.
    • In Pathfinder, a game based on a modified version of D&D 3.5, elves are aliens.
      • Though it is is the gnomes who are the Fey-connected people with a more alien perspective on things. The elves may have their quirks, but in comparison their mentality tends to be a tad bit closer to humans (as befits a race native to a Pulp Venus analogue).
    • Fourth Edition also has Heroes Of The Feywild which goes indepth into the home dimension of the fae, from the perspective of both mortal visitors and locals. It also details the various courts, all of which often fit this trope, but especially the Winter Court, which follows a fae prince who is the living embodiment of Love Makes You Evil. It also introduces Pixies as a PC race.
  • The Elves of Ios in the Iron Kingdoms are xenophobic isolationists who have closed off their nation's borders to outsiders. Of the few Elves that do leave their homeland, a fair proportion are assassins who have dedicated their lives to hunting down and killing human wizards and mechanika-users. They do this because they believe that human arcane magic and mechanika are draining the life from their last remaining Physical God, thereby dooming the Elven race to extinction; whether or not this is actually the case has never been conclusively addressed.
    • To say nothing of the Nyssian Elves, who are enslaved body and mind to a Cosmic Horror.
  • The Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 have absolutely no compunction against contriving to see millions or billions of humans, orks, or tau dying to save a single Eldar. Their cousins, the Dark Eldar, take the concept of Squick to a whole new meaning; their entire existence is predicated on the horrific, drawn-out to-death rape and torture of countless slaves taken from other species (and even their own) to stave off the soul-sucking Chaos God Slaanesh. Even by the standards of 40k, the Dark Eldar are portrayed as Complete Monsters.
  • The Elves in Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy. You get either arrogant bastards (High Elves), xenophobic bastards (Wood Elves) or murderous bastards (Dark Elves).
    • The Wood Elves in Warhammer Fantasy well qualify: they are extremely xenophobic and generally act more like a force of nature than a civilized people. This is especially true with their king, Orion the Hunter, who every spring goes on a rampage around the woods and nearby area with a host of spirits and wild hunters.
  • In 7th Sea, the Sidhe have an uneasy alliance with the humans of Avalon, based on mutual dependence. The Unseelie are treated as horrifying monsters, but even the Seelie (sometimes called "The Goodly Folk") are regarded with fear and suspicion. The Seelie do not have normal emotions, and because of this, some of them take pleasure in emotionally manipulating humans. They will often torment humans for their own purposes or entertainment, and the Queen of the Sky is known to participate in The Wild Hunt. The GM's Section in the Avalon book encourages GMs to use the Sidhe as antagonists or foils.
  • Rifts and Palladium have a wide range of fairies and nature spirits, some of whom are Scrupulous or Principled and positively nice (such as brownies) while others are nasty, brutish and puckish. Even nice fairies, though, are apt to feed you enchanted food with unpleasant results. The continuity also has the Splugorth, low level Cosmic Horrors who employ magic-resistant species to rob the fae and put them into mystical weaponry.
  • The Fae are... generally decent in Scion (at least the Irish ones). But they have their rules, and if you break them, it's your ass. The Erl-king (mentioned above) shows up as well, and is a fairly powerful, nasty sort.
  • In Nobilis, Nobles deliberately evoke this trope. The Big Bads seek to unmake reality by twisting seemingly mundane events, so Noble behavior will seem bizarre to ordinary people. Nobles may spend months convincing a random mortal they own a cat, or kill someone because they bought a yellow SUV, and reality itself may very well hinge upon their success.
  • The closest thing to Fair Folk in Gurps Banestorm are the Dark Elves. However rather then being a race they are a elven-supremist terrorist group of mages that cast a spell attempting to expell all orcs from the world of Yrth. It backfires and instead brings humans, an action that would look suspiciously like a fairy abduction by those left behind on Earth. Of course as Humans are Warriors the Dark elves find that though they are more civilized then orcs they are also more dangerous to elvenkind.
  • GURPS Technomancer, a modern-day fantasy setting, has fairies taking the place of The Greys - Seelie and Unseelie encounters involving abductions, lights in the sky, traumatic repressed memories, and rumors of two Seelie being captured near Roswell...
  • In Ars Magica, The Oath of Hermes, the pledge all mages must take if they wish to join the Order of Hermes (and not get hunted down by said order for practicing unapproved magic), there is a specific phrase: "I shall not molest the Fae." Understand, this is in Ars Magica, which isn't exactly lacking in all sorts of nifty demons, monsters, and crazy magic-users to make life more exciting. No, it's The Fair Folk that get singled out: all those other monsters will kill you, or even torment you, but the Fae like to get creative and play with you first.
    • Although the Code does specifically prohibit dealings with the Infernal, it's usually because there's just no way to win against Demons and that kind of thing breeds diabolism (and ends up being what got House Tytalus in trouble). But they tell you do not molest the Fae because although they can be dealt with fairly and can even have good relationships with other denizens of Mythic Europe (as House Merinita can attest), they do not forget being slighted, ever, and they will carry grudges, and they have very creative ways of expressing them. The (usually high-point-value) Flaw "Faerie Enmity" can be taken without actually providing a specific reason: your great-great-grandfather you never even met might've offended some faerie at some point and that's the only reason they need.
  • In the history of the game Fairy Meat humans at one point existed (and still may, but they aren't relevant any more) and were taunted by the Fae, but that time has long since passed. Now all fairies are more busy trying to rip each other apart so they can have some lunch.
  • The Laundry RPG brings faeries into the universe of cthulhoid "information entities." Like the series' demons, they're made up of information strung together through an electromagnetic field, explaining why iron messes them up so badly; similarly, it's said they appear rarely in modern Britain, given how the nation is wired to the gills. They do take children, however, and changelings are explained away as a class four Glamour placed over a poppet made of twigs and string to make it look like it's a real child. And the kids? They're turned into biological computation matrices in order to sustain a field that will keep the faerie in our world.


Theater[edit | hide]

  • The fae of A Midsummer Night's Dream are actually an early aversion, much as one might expect from Shakespeare. They are portrayed as close to human and Oberon's interference with the lovers is actually benevolent although, of course, things go awry.
    • One interpretation of Puck's speech at the end of the play is that Shakespeare is actually telling people not to fear the faeries. This ties in to his portrayal of the faeries as mostly benevolent and this was relevant to the Elizabethans because they really did fear The Fair Folk.
  • Another aversion by Shakespeare is Mercutio's speech in Romeo and Juliet. In it he talks about how Queen Mab flies around at night giving people happy dreams, but also sometimes causes mischief and nightmares but these are no worse than minor tricks.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The Mer from The Elder Scrolls are essentially elves, except each race has its own disturbing trends. The Dunmer, or "Dark Elves", are generally xenophobic, treacherous, slave-owning pricks at the best of times - And incestuous, power-hungry, demon-worshipping, rotting-diseased-flesh-eating madmen at their worst. The Bosmer, or "Wood Elves" are a bunch of plant-worshipping cannibals who have the power to morph together into a nigh-unstoppable Eldritch Abomination whenever their homeland is threatened. The Maormer, or "Tropical Elves", are an exiled race of elves who follow an undying king and have perfected magic dealing with sea serpents. And the Altmer, or "High Elves", are arrogant bastards who've begun worshipping The Daedra like their ancestors did, despite that not being a very good idea then, either...
    • There are also several extinct tribes who display other aspects of the Fair Folk.
      • The Ayleids, also known as the Heartland High Elves, are notorious among humans for their cruel reign over the enslaved humans of Cyrodiil. They worshipped Daedra, practiced necromancy, and crafted artifacts whose nature cannot be easily recreated.
      • The Falmer, or "Snow Elves", have left little of their culture behind. However, their place in Nordic legend is written in a way similar to one speak of the Fair Folk. By the time of Skyrim however they've devolved into blind monsters that inhabit particularly deep crypts and Dwemer ruins.
      • The Dwemer, or "Deep Elves", wiped themselves out by trying to make themselves into gods via Magitek and are remembered by the Dunmer in fables that speak of them like the Fair Folk.
      • The Orsimer, or "Pariah Elves", were a sect of elves who remained dedicated to their god even after he was corrupted after being devoured by another deity and...excreted. The result was a corruption of their form into the Orcs, though they kept their pointy ears.
    • The Daedra often act like the Fair Folk. They will grant gifts to those who please them, but often drive them into insanity or acts of great evil. Most any story involving a Daedric Prince will leave the one striking a deal with the Prince coming out of the situation cursed in some manner.
      • A cat can be a bat can be a hat can be a demon... WABBAJACK!
    • The same world also has Spriggans, half-plant half-woman things who are not too fond of visitors to their forests...
  • The Red Caps of City of Heroes recalls one of the truly nasty varieties of the original Faeries. Their entire reason for being is pretty much to torture and torment others in creative ways—their caps were red because they had been dipped in human blood. True to form, they're also extremely dangerous for their level (despite being really, really short).
    • The zone of Croatoa, where the Red Caps run fierce, also has the Fir Bolg, weird pumpkin-headed scarecrows, and the Tuatha de Danaan, who aren't so much the Celtic gods as, well, "wookie moose." And then there are the black sprites that hover around Eochai (the Giant Monster of the Fir Bolg) during the Halloween event, which are called, of course, The Unseelie.
      • It is revealed that the Fir Bolg and Tuatha de Danaan are ancient enemies of the Red Caps, who transformed them into those odd forms to torment them even more.
    • This trope is referenced by Justin Augustine at the beginning of his Task Force: "Far out in the center of this region is a place called the Chantry. It's supposed to hold all kinds of vast and ancient secrets, including a powerful being the natives only refer to as 'The Kind One'. Now, a title like that can mean a lot of things in folklore, like trying to placate something monstrous." (Though Faathim the Kind does actually live up to his name, and has a Task Force of his own.)
  • Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters portrays the Arilou Lalee'lay as patronizing Little Green Men who were behind the myths of The Fair Folk, and fit the trope as enigmatic allies with "plans" for humanity.
  • Every encounter with fairy folk in Drakengard is laden with contempt for humans. This trope is most exemplified in the case of Leonard though, as his pact-partner is a malicious fairy who bonded with him seemingly only for the purpose of torturing him over his inability to kill himself. Which should, in hindsight, have driven him to suicide, so annoying was that fairy.
  • In the Shin Megami Tensei games, where All Myths Are True, there are Fairies and Elves around too, of course. And while they're certainly both cute and pretty, that doesn't mean they won't kill you just for being there.
    • Or if you're a pretty Japanese boy, they may just simply kidnap you to be their pet, regardless that you're trying to save the world - which happens to Raidou in Raidou Kuzunoha VS King Abaddon in a side quest.
    • Or Puck could side with your rival who tries to Love Potion you to abandon the quest, but accidentally get your female party member (the funniest scenes ensue in Shin Megami Tensei II because of this).
  • The pixies in Fable are malicious childlike buggers with raspy voices and a penchant for human sacrifice.
  • The Elves of Dwarf Fortress have a bit of this trope, seeing how they eat people and don't consider this to be in any way reprehensible, while considering lying as bad as murder. It doesn't help that they will besiege you if you cut down too many trees and then proceed to devour your flesh. Since the game perspective in Fortress Mode is from the dwarves, though, they tend to be seen more as annoying than terrifying.

A more fitting example are the Night Creatures, who resemble the more ogrish and monstrous kinds of Unseelie fairies. Occasional marauders who live in caves, they kidnap mortal spouses and corrupt them into similar beings, when they aren't simply eating their flesh. Their grotesque features are even procedurally generated, so that no two Night Creatures are alike.

  • The fair folk from A Tale of Two Kingdoms are not downright malicious, but tend towards nasty pranks against humans (particularly but not limited to the player character). The powerful and beautiful fairy queen turns out to be not so benevolent as she tries to permanently entrap you in the fairy world.
  • The Folks in Folklore pretty much want you dead with a few small exceptions. The "Faeries" are simply the denizens of a realm of the Netherworld created when people dreamed of an afterlife of paradise...but that still doesn't stop the "paradise" from being filled with dozens and dozens of deceased souls that turned into angry Folks that want to kill you.
  • One of the gods in the Roguelike Incursion is Maeve, Queen of the Faeries. All elves are required to worship her; this is not particularly a good thing, because she is utterly amoral and very capricious: sometimes she gives you good equipment, sometimes she surrounds you with out-of-depth monsters.
  • Subverted in the opening of The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask: Tatl and her brother help Skull Kid steal Link's horse, and then she attacks and taunts Link after Skull Kid turns him into a Deku Scrub. She then takes the role of Exposition Fairy after Skull Kid leaves her behind and stays with Link when she sees Skull Kid try to destroy the world.
    • Possibly played straight with the Skull Kid, referred to along with the kokiri and the winged glowing ball fairies in Ocarina of Time as forest fairies or fairy folk.
    • The bubble family of monsters would seem to count as well.
  • Whilst Erana from Quest for Glory fame is the embodiment of all that's pure and good in the world, and like, totally fabulous as a person to boot, her fair folk friends and family are power-hungry rogues who are not above stepping on a mere mortal to get their hands on Erana's magical staff to gain more power. Doesn't help they're all high-powered mages like their cousin twice removed.
    • Also played with in the first game, where the hero can be forced to dance with fairies to the point of death.
  • Averted in the King's Quest games. There are wicked ones (Lolotte, Malicia), inscrutable ones (Mab, the Fate Sisters), and benevolent ones (Genesta, Oberon, Titania, and Edgar). Certainly, they can wield magic and have a strange logic on how things should run (The Fan Sequel The Silver Lining also depicts that they prefer to be outside, no matter the weather), but they aren't much different than humans otherwise.
  • Mostly subverted in Tears to Tiara, where The Fair Folk turn out to be pretty nice people indeed. The closest one to this trope is the item shop owner Epona, who at worst is an Honest John. Her shop is even called 'The Good Folk', though this is more of an allusion to mythology (it's set in Britain during the Roman invasion) than a lampshading.
  • Touhou's actual fairies don't really fit beyond being mischevious; they're universally stupid and weak. On the other hand, some of the Youkai come pretty close, most obviously Yukari, who is beautiful, mysterious, and the one behind the spiritings away.
  • World of Warcraft has two races of elves: Night Elves and Blood Elves. Night Elves, members of The Alliace, tend to be more benevolent as they're mostly nature lovers, but they are also very fierce warriors who aren't fond of outsiders. The Blood Elves, members of the Horde, are downright evil for the most part as they're very vain and derive their magical power from an imprisoned alien. There are also High Elves, who were the closest to Tolkien's elves, but there are very few left as most of them became Blood Elves. Also, Sylvanas Windrunner, a former High Elf, became a banshee after she died and founded the undead Forsaken, another Horde race (who are arguably also evil by nature since they are undead).
    • For the most part, the Blood Elves that are with the Horde aren't evil. They imprisoned a Naaru out of desperation more than anything else, because they could potentially die without a new source of magic after the destruction of the Sunwell. They haven't been so bad since the Sunwell was restored and they were given the power of the Light. Now they tend to arrogant pricks at worst, and not too much worse than the Night Elves were.
      • The Blood Elves who followed Kael'Thas into Outland, however, are evil and are aligned with a faction of demons that is hell-bent on destroying all life in the universe.
    • The Night Elves made their first appearance attacking the Orcs for cutting down trees. They were also incredibly haughty and xenophobic, ignoring a war going on right in front of them and often attacking both sides with little provocation. It wasn't until the Burning Legion showed up and they had no choice but to team up with both of their enemies that they were finally willing to work with any of the other races. They were also humbled quite a bit after the destruction of the World Tree (which gave them their immortality), and ended up joining the Alliance.
  • The upcoming MMORPG Rift includes faerie as a major faction of bad guy (excepting the rare ones befriended by druids), aligned with Greenscale, the Dragon of Life. Many of them look like typical post-Elizabethan sprites, until you notice one glaring problem with their looks...
    • Hell, the playable elf races in Rift have their Fair Folk traits. The high elves spawned House Aelfwar (a bunch of Greenscale cultists), and the Kelari have a cultural divinity complex.
  • Played straight and subverted in the Gretel and Hansel series. While most of the creatures and spirits in the games try to kill Gretel and Hansel, the actual fairies they meet in the second game become their allies.
  • The trope was briefly discussed with the Fey in Recettear. The original faeries were mischievous and conniving, until they found out the hard way that humans can be just as cruel. Current faeries have become subservient to the humans, if only to prevent their race from becoming extinct.
  • The Glomdoring commune of Lusternia traffick with fae including redcaps, barghests and slaugh. Also, their native race, Shadow Faelings, are a cross between The Fair Folk and Drow.
  • The Hidden People, the extremely creepy Gnomes from the Puzzle Agent games.
  • The Mystics of SaGa Frontier used to be this way, and the nobles who dwell in their hidden region still are. Though they have gotten a bit better, and for example hunting humans for sport has fallen out of fashion. Lower caste mystics show the trope best, ranging in appearance from mermaids to large troll-like creatures. The higher level nobles tend to appear as beautiful humans, with the highest level, according to All There in the Manual being the True Vampires.
  • In Dragon Age people think the Dalish Elves are this and treat them accordingly. Which is unfortunate, given as they are for the most part simply nomadic hunters who just want to be left alone.
  • King Arthur the Role Playing Wargame features both Sidhe courts (Seelie/summer court and Unseelie/winter court) as prominent factions you can ally yourself with if you follow the Old Faith. The Seelie mainly operate on Blue and Orange Morality and are described as honourable and honest 'in their own way' (being Old Faith and Righteous), while the Unseelie are fairy, err, fairly malicious (Old Faith/Tyrant) and and bargains with them usually involve giving them your subjects' children. Allying with either court allows you to hire children the sidhe have "whisked away" as soldiers for your army.
  • The Fae in Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. They are also divided into Summer and Winter; Summer representing growth and Winter representing decay, though neither is inherently good or evil. They have mixed feelings about mortals. Some of them dismiss them as short-lived "Dustlings", and others are fascinated by them because of their unique perspective on life and death. The Fae are so powerfully linked to Fate that they do not truly die—they merely repeat their lives in an endless Great Cycle. Fae also occasionally forget that when mortals die, it's for keeps. Fateweaver Argath claims that the Fae are actually easier to understand than mortals because they usually don't change with time. The Tuatha Deohn are a horrific exception to this rule. They are a cult of Winter Fae that have changed thanks to the power of Tirnoch. As a result, they are now brutal warmongers who wish to purge the world of all mortal life.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

Thief: Like it says in our national anthem Elfland, and fuck you too, "We are a race of total bastards"

  • In the webcomic Chasing the Sunset, there are many types of Fey, who usually don't bother humans and others until bothered first. The common exception are pixies. They are a hilarious and horrible Running Gag. Pixies are not evil per se but extremely mischievous and scatterbrained. The kind of things you do not want in a fireworks shop. Even other Fey creatures tend to perceive them as flying headache. Not even rocks like having pixies around.

Ayne: But why help us? You don't know us.
Fey stone: If you stay, does the pixie stay too?
Leaf: Probably?
Fey stone: We'll get you out.

A creature of chaos, the Ur-pixie is thought to be the mother and father of all pixies, representing the fundamental chaos of the universe. Where pixies later evolved into spirits of laughter and joy (or at least that's the standing theory, which has many opponents amongst those who have come into direct contact with them), the Ur-pixie is a cumulation of chaos and magic.

    • Then there are fairy dragons that look like a floaty glowing seahorse and communicate via some sort of birdsong only other fey creatures understand. These were created as an experiment. "They're what you get if you take a dragon, remove physical body and leave just the magic".

Myhrad: Well, fairy dragons are very different from other dragons. They have no physical body to age, so they often remain playful and childlike.
Leaf: What, like pixies?
Myhrad: I said childlike, not spoiled-teenager-like.

  • Gunnerkrigg Court Fairies are about halfway between the cute Pixie and the chaotic trickster types. They're capricious and largely lacking in tact and empathy, but the only harm they've done is emotional rather than physical, and mostly directed at other Fairies rather than humans. Still, this behavior provoked stunned silence (and breaking the Gosh Dang It to Heck rule) from the protagonists.
    • To add to their alien-ness, the City Face interlude shows that they don't distinguish between lengths of distance and lengths of time.
    • Penchant for mischief belongs to the cute part.
    • Chapter 36 revisits Foley House, where former fairies and other Gillitie Wood creatures go, specifically the class of those four ex-fairies we have seen in Chapter 15. Etheric side of the classroom is effectively one crazy playground, and inhabitants generally are childish, but so adorable and hilarious that Annie puts up with their manners (or rather lack thereof) and joins the fun... not that everything was so simple, of course.
  • A major arc of Tales of the Questor pits the Kid Hero against some of the nastiest members of The Fair Folk. In this case, fae are split up into Seleighe and Unseleighe, both of which were originally a home-built immortal Servant Race, supernaturally compelled to follow obscure and poorly known rules in addition to any promises they make. The former are suggested to be a healthy lawful neutral with a minor fondness for some mortal species, but the Unseleighe are lawful only to the letter of the law, willing to rip a pet bird apart or steal human children for their own entertainment, and in the words of Quentyn's narration live to "see how evil they can be without breaking the rules". The Wild Hunt ensues, showing how dangerous they are.
    • The setting also contains fairies closer to the cute and friendly version, who only interact with the material plane to drop glowing rocks in small circles, inside which living creatures occasionally hear the sounds from another dimension trickle over.
  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures may or may not invoke this trope; while the fae seem mostly good on the surface, at worst being strange and random, it has been shown that Mab, one of the title characters, has secretly been manipulating her friends for her own (unknown) ends for an indefinite length of time. What she has been doing so far seems to be to their benefit, but only as far as we know...
  • In Arthur, King of Time and Space, the Fey have agreed to help Morgan become queen, for impenetrable reasons of their own (hence "Morgan le Fey"). However, they don't actually seem to be all that bright...
  • Fey in Code Name: Hunter seem to be mostly a combination of the Scottish and Irish traditional fair folk. Including kidnapping of mere mortals in order to pay tithe to Hell.
  • Used as a subversion (of the popular version) in The Parking Lot Is Full.
  • Sandoval, the Xoan Ambassador from Oglaf.
  • In the Mega Crossover fancomic Roommates (and in its Spin-Off s Girls Next Door and Down the Street) The Fair Folk is the (magical) third option between Heaven and Hell and one happy family so all related to the token fair teammate Jareth.[3] They do everything any selfrespecting fae of this trope does, the child stealing included and are creepy as hell.
  • Spina Cage has had a single faerie appear so far. He tries to eat the main character.
  • Eerie Cuties has a few. The named ones include ice fairy Cessily who generally is not malicious, but ambitious and prone to devising Zany Schemes which tend to land her and her ditzy ifrita friend in the middle of a trouble they started - the "Elemental Duo" generally act as resident clowns. Oh, and she also is good at using her ice-morphing power for lockpicking. Her even more hyperactive twin sisters Sorbet and Neige are "best friends" both with the teen vampire sharing their taste for hugs and generally not acting her age and with her "arch-enemy", the demon kid who addresses them as "minions"... because her magic prowess gives them more opportunities for mischief (on their own they can't crash a party via teleporting circle, for one)... and because they can beat her in a game to decide who does dishes today.

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In The Gamers Alliance, the Faerfolc are mysterious and powerful beings who can turn out to be friendly (provide a blessing) or hostile (kill or torture anyone who trespasses on their lands) depending on the circumstances... and what mood they happen to be in when you meet them. When they were released from captivity, they offered cryptic advice to the heroes but later on rampaged in Libaterra, killing hundreds of people in their lust for revenge before retreating back to the forests to live their life in peace. Currently the fey have two factions: the neutral, tradition-bound ones led by Morrigan who wish to live away from the corruption of mortal civilizations, and the fanatic destroyers led by Curdardh who wish to purge the world from "impure" races.
  • Phantasia has fairies trying to kill humans for what they've done to the planet.
  • There are theories that the Slender Man may or may not be an example; one of the earliest tales is that he dwells in a forest and does something with naughty children.
  • The Ellehemaei (all the main characters) in Addergoole.
  • The ThinkGeek website recently invoked this trope on their newly released "Candy Unicorn Horn" item.
    • "We made a deal with faeries to get these candy treats"
    • "(Seriously, we could have died. We probably still will. Faeries are tricky.)"
  • In the Whateley Universe, the Faerie are an ancient race who think of humans as pets raised (originally) in a garden world. They apparently feel the same way about werewolves. Fey, one of the protagonists, was changed into her current appearance by an ancient Faerie spirit who now resides in Fey's head. While Fey is inhumanly beautiful, in "Ill Winds" her true form is a luminescent energy form that isn't remotely human.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • The "Third Race" from Gargoyles. Especially the episode when Oberon and Titania were out to capture Xanatos's son Alexander for the Gathering. Goliath thought it was so vile that he actually sides with Xanatos to prevent Alexander's capture.
    • Oberon is consistently depicted in the series as capricious, vain and arrogant, making and breaking edicts on a whim. Sure, he'll say his magic will never harm you and yours, and it won't... until he wants it to.
    • Aside from their Jerkass leaders, the other "Children of Oberon" in the series vary greatly in personality, disposition, and form. Though they all tend to be pretty mischievous, even the ones that like humans and Gargoyles.
      • Interestingly, Word of God has said they used to be a whole lot worse. After being banished from Avalon most changed considerably; besides Oberon who, at the time, was mature and compassionate in comparison. And don't even get started on his mother.
      • Titania, his wife, seems to be of the other type thankfully, and is more than capable of controlling her husband. Unfortunately, she's the instigator for the incident with Alexander. And then also the instigator for the interference of the Gargoyles.
      • On the other hand, Puck is Owen.
  • Fairly Oddparents—the magical creatures, even those not from Western mythology, all seem to have a bit of this. Jorgen Von Strangle is an absolute sadist and Da Rules seem to mostly be made to frustrate everyone and do not help much. Norm the Genie has no clue that inflating a balloon that looks like a child's head and causing it to explode when you say that you want to "give each and every child a great big smile" is not a good idea if you want votes (and the fairies don't have too much of a clue about that either). Cosmo has no clue that falling for various beautiful woman would upset anyone (including his wife). Anti-Fairies have fun giving humanity bad luck, cheat at the Fairy Olympics and have gotten to the point of destroying the world. Pixies don't know fun is fun and boring is not (or they don't care) and desire the entire world to be boring. Santa Claus is a two-timer that flirts with female genies after Norm explodes from magic back-up. Santa also acts quite selfish and gluttonous in "Have A Merry Wishmas". Cupid is greedy and can be bribed to do stuff for money, as well as being Prideful. And it does this even though they are Fairy Companions.
    • Also, the April Fool in "Fools Day Out" called causing the Earth to go into an Ice Age by hitting several planets and stuff is a "prank" or "joke".
    • One episode also has "Scary Fairies". A state brought on by a fairy being stuck in pitch black for too long, who compulsively desire to eat their Godkid. Fortunately it's all just a practical joke on Timmy.
  • The Mask, possibly as a nod to the considerably more violent and murderous character in the original comic, once met a fairy who'd been an ally to the Mask for the past 4000 years, and considers things like melting the skin off bones to be all in good fun. Of course, he soon realises that this Mask is different, and the Mask ends up dragging him off... to school.
  • Winx Club, of all cartoons. For the greater part of the show, fairies are presented as kind and compassionate. Then, in season 4, we meet Earth fairies. Who, as soon as they're freed from their prison, they embark in a genocidal quest to exterminate mankind.
  • Brian Froud's Fairies was adapted as a half hour animated special in the 1980's.
  • A lot of the spirits from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Most notably Koh, a giant centipede spirit who delights in stealing people's faces....
  • The changelings in My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, with the queen disguising herself as Princess Cadance in order to take over Canterlot.

Now turn around thrice Widdershins, spit, and touch iron...

  1. Tink was actually quite capable of mischief in the original movie, but she has since been princess-ified.
  2. Changelings also exist, as the children of human-fae pairings: they look human until puberty, when they start developing characteristics similar to their fae side, and eventually have to choose to be a faerie or human.
  3. (They seem to actually invoke Interspecies Romance to increase their numbers and make the magic family tree *somewhat* healthier and accidentally created the Witch Species (those hybrids who aren't strong or fair enough) in the process. So here any magical talent implies that the character has a Fairy Relative somewhere.)