The Phoenix

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

For the manga by Osamu Tezuka, see Phoenix.


I was reborn before all life could die.
The Phoenix bird will leave this world to fly.

If the Phoenix bird can fly then so can I.
Elton John, Grey Seal

The Phoenix is an ancient and well known symbol of death and rebirth and is an idea that is found all over Asia and Europe. It's portrayed as a magnificent bird with a plumage of fiery colors and also with fiery powers or in some stories, a bird actually made of living flames.

The Phoenix of the Phoenician myth was an immortal bird that could regenerate from any injury. At a certain time, the Phoenix would make a nest of cinnamon sticks, and then self-immolate, burning to ashes, from which a new Phoenix was born. Similar myths include the Egyptian Bennu, the Chinese Fenghuang (or Houou to the Japanese), and the Vermilion Bird Suzaku.

Traditionally this is not a species; there is usually only one Phoenix (video games and other modern fantasy works may beg to differ, but that's another story). Unlike most other mythical beings, it's not immortal, instead it lives, ages, lays one single egg and burns itself up. And from the egg (or the burnt phoenix's ashes) a new phoenix is born.

Stories don't agree whether the bird from the egg is a new phoenix or the same individual. As goes with the death/rebirth theme, it's often intentionally left unclear.

Other ideas include that its tears or song have healing powers.

It is commonly mistaken to be a member of The Four Gods, due to its similarities with The Vermillion Bird.

A common plot device is to have the protagonist first meet the phoenix as a sickly, dying pet of someone important. When the bird unexpectedly catches fires, circumstances lead them to expect said important person to blame them. but just as they're cringing and apologizing, The Reveal comes that this is a phoenix, just going through its' rebirth cycle.

See Birth-Death Juxtaposition for a plot that reflects this motif.. See Born-Again Immortality for other characters with the ability to be reborn after death. See also Ouroboros, another ancient symbol of immortality/eternity.

See Hot Wings for other wings of fire.

Examples of The Phoenix include:

Anime and Manga

  • Ikki in Saint Seiya had the Phoenix armour, and like the bird could come Back from the Dead. The Phoenix Cloth itself is explicitly said to be immortal, and could regenerate (as well as its wearer) within the incredible heat of volcanoes.
  • Tezuka Osamu's Phoenix combines the mythos with themes of Reincarnation.
  • Suzaku, one of the four gods of heaven and earth in Fushigi Yuugi, is represented by a Phoenix.
    • No that's the Vermillion Bird from The Four Gods. As mentioned in the introduction.
  • A parody of the bird shows up in Ranma 1/2, where a fat, round, ugly chick hatches from an egg purchased by Kuno and imprints on the first thing it sees—namely, Ranma—and determines it to be its mortal enemy. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Je T'aime, Fou Lafine's B't in B't X. Notably its powers had little to do with fire and instead focuses on using sonic weaponry to disable enemies.
  • A very short-lived Jewel Seed Monster took this form in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha during the period after Nanoha met up with the Time-Space Administration Bureau.
  • While there haven't been shown a phoenix in One Piece there's a Zoan Devil Fruit which allows the user to become a phoenix. Marco, Whitebeard's 1st Division Commander, have eaten this fruit. One Piece's version creates and is made of blue flames and has incredible recovery powers, as demonstrated when Marco shields Whitebeard from Kizaru's beams.
  • Digimon's Zhuqiaomon, one of the Four Sovereigns, who are based on The Four Gods. Thus, he is the Vermilion Bird. He's something of a Knight Templar, it turns out. (Azulongmon, aka the Azure Dragon, has to cool him down. Via an epic battle between gods.) There's also a Phoenixmon (also known as Hououmon) who is seen briefly in one episode.
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke's Battle Aura during the final battle in the Dark Tournament manifests as a flaming blue phoenix. In addition, after Yusuke's death at the hands of Sensui and his rebirth as the Mazoku, Puu's true form turns out to be a tremendous blue phoenix.
  • In Weapons Of The Gods, Nangong Wentian was known as this after getting resurrected by transplanting his heart with Phoenix, an axe made from nine feathers of the phoenix and gaining its power.

Card Games

Comic Book

  • Jean Grey from X-Men, depending on the continuity, or even the writer at the moment in the main continuity, was either the Phoenix itself (later Dark Phoenix), possessed by it, or replaced and impersonated by it at some point. She keeps an equally variable connection to it from her return onwards. (She wasn't originally intended to come Back from the Dead, though. Becoming the Phoenix in the first place was considered her "death and rebirth.")
    • Ditto for her Kid From the Future, Rachel Grey, who kept the motif even after ditching the actual cosmic critter itself. Rachel's connection with the Phoenix isn't in a constant state of Retcon like her mother's, though: she and the Phoenix were merged for years, then separated via a fairly complicated (though simple by Summers/Grey family standards) Time Travel storyline. She also never went Dark Phoenix like Jean, despite generally being more the hot-tempered of the two, but she came close to it a couple of times.
    • Various other characters have also been hosts for the Phoenix, but it's always been either an extremely temporary situation or happened in ancient history.
    • Even Spider-Man! Awesomely [dead link]. But not really. He's using the gadgetry that allowed the robot Rachel of some Excalibur impostors to make it look good. Which doesn't explain the costume change.
  • A Sandman one-shot story mentioned that the new phoenix hatches from a white egg, but the burned phoenix actually produces two; the other is black and no one knows what there is inside.

Fan Works

  • One of the myths of Fenspace is the tale of the Phoenix, a mysterious craft/creature which appears when a fencraft is in danger.


  • The Flight of the Phoenix- a film about a crashed plane being rebuilt by its desert stranded passengers to fly again.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, the name of Zefram Cochrane's warp ship is "Phoenix", which is also allegorical to the rebirth of humanity with first contact with the Vulcans after nuking itself nearly to death in World War III.


  • Fawkes, Dumbledore's pet of Harry Potter fame saved Harry's ass in the second book. And indirectly in the fourth book, too. In this it's left obvious it's the same animal that is reborn, and it "dies" at least twice during Harry's stay at Hogwarts. Also, given that it's described as "rare" and not "one of a kind", there are others out there.
    • These Phoenixes can carry very heavy loads, including several people, and have tears with healing powers. Their tail feathers are one of the magical items used to create wands (others being unicorn hair, dragon heartstring, and veela hair). The feather in Harry's wand actually came from Fawkes as did the feather in Big Bad Voldemort's wand -- which is how Fawkes saves Harry indirectly in the fourth book. Wands that have cores from the same source don't work properly against each other.
    • Fawkes also possesses a strange teleportation ability. He can send himself, passengers at least the size of a single person, and individual feathers across long distances in a flash of flame (which circumvents Hogwarts' teleportation defenses, something even the most powerful human wizard can never do). Whether this is an inherent ability of phoenixes or a trick Dumbledore taught him is unclear.
      • It's inherent ability. Diricawl/ Dodo also had the same abilities.
    • When Fawkes is introduced he's near death, and Harry panics as he watches him burn in front of his very eyes, thinking he'll be accused of the murder again. Dumbledore is rather amused as he explains what happened.
  • The Simurgh of Xanth is notably NOT a phoenix. There's more than one great immortal bird in mythology, after all.
  • Carpe Jugulum includes a phoenix, and gleefully subverts this trope in classic Discworld tradition: rather than a one-bird species, it's a member of a breed of firebirds that has found a way to incubate their eggs really quickly. Dropping from the blazing nest of their self-immolating parent, phoenix chicks shapeshift into the form of the first bird they encounter, the better to blend into their surroundings. Hence, when falconer Hodgesaarrgh goes looking for one, he has no idea which of the several different phoenix-drawings in his bird guide will be correct. Its actual resemblance to a lappet-faced worrier or "Lancre wowhawk" (a singularly pathetic bird of prey which faints at the sight of blood) was not one of the possibilities he'd been led to expect; the ostrich-like puppet he constructed was mainly related to the shape of his arm. As Granny Weatherwax said, one of anything is stupid since everything has enemies so it won't survive long, but since historians were more interested about writing about wars than writing about birds, they didn't know this simple fact.
  • The classic children's book David and the Phoenix.
    • This was quoted in At All Costs complete with birth-death motiffs.
  • The phoenix is one of the Great Houses of Dragaera. It is unknown if there are more than one of the animal phoenix, but in order for a Dragaeran to be of the House of the Phoenix, both of their parents must be of the House AND a phoenix must fly over when they are born. Needless to say, the House is all but extinct except Zerika, the Empress.
  • Vigilante Mack Bolan fakes his death in the explosion of his "war wagon", taking the identity of Colonel John Phoenix to lead the Stony Man operation.
  • The bird itself does not appear, but the throne of the Autarchs in The Book of the New Sun is shaped like a phoenix, to symbolize their hope that the dying sun will be rekindled by the second coming of their savior figure.
  • The Phoenix and The Carpet by E. Nesbit contains a phoenix (well duh) and a carpet. Now the Phoenix came with the carpet, as an egg which then burst into flash and released a small bird which then rapidly grew into an adult, English speaking, Phoenix. The carpet also grants three wishes a day and can fly and take the children on adventures.
  • A swamp in Ursula Vernon's Black Dogs contains the world's last phoenix, imprisoned by magic. The protagonists release it and it flies off into space, but not before burning up all the magical apparitions that had been harassing them and granting them safe passage through the treacherous swamp.
  • Pfenix (as they're spelled) appear in Greg Maguire's Wicked books. They're known to be rare, and omens of change.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Phoenix on the Sword, the image of a phoenix put on Conan the Barbarian's sword both lets him kill the Eldritch Abomination and proves he wasn't dreaming.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, phoenix lamps use phoenix feathers, which regenerate, for light; phoenix ash is useful for bribing salamanders to behave themselves.
  • There is a short story (name currently unknown) about a group of modern-day people who capture a Phoenix and put it on display. They figure they can make a lot of money by televising the phoenix's death and firey rebirth so they do everything they can to convince the bird that it's dying. When it starts building a pyre, the people train their cameras on it and start their vigil. The phoenix regenerates allright—unfortunately the resulting fireball winds up taking out most of the observers and a huge chunk of the city with it.

Live Action TV


  • In Kanye West's Runaway, a lady phoenix with strategically placed feathers crashes on Earth, and Kanye keeps her as a pet, or girlfriend, or something.
  • "Феникс" ("Feniks") by Russian heavy-metal band Ariya tells the story of the bird in question.
  • Firebird by Dreamtale.
  • "The Phoenix", by Julia Ecklar, a song about a spacecraft pilot killed in an accident and reincarnated as a spaceship.

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • League of Legends has Anivia, the cryophoenix. When she's killed, she turns into a egg, which she will revive from if it isn't destroyed.
  • The Phoenix is a summon monster in quite a few Final Fantasy games, usually in some combination of fire-based attack on the enemies and healing and/or resurrection on your allies.
    • Not to mention that you resurrected gameplay-killed allies using one of their feathers.
  • Pokémon:
    • Ho-Oh, which resurrected the legendary Pokémon Raikou, Entei, and Suicune after the Brass Tower they were in burned down.
    • Moltres seems to be more based on the Western phoenix, and Ho-Oh is closer to the Eastern one.
  • In Age of Mythology, Egyptians can summon Phoenixes that are actually MADE of living flames, which they can throw from the air in a bombing-raid-style attack. When they are killed over solid ground, an egg appears in the ashes of their body and a new Phoenix can be summoned from it.
  • In Warcraft 3 the Blood Mage can summon one as his ultimate spell. Like the above example, it turns into an egg on death, rebirthing from it when the egg is not destroyed quickly. It actually burns itself, needing a rebirth every few minutes even without fighting.
    • As first and strongest of the Blood Mages, the phoenix is the personal symbol of Kael'thas Sunstrider, and a very prominent symbol of the Blood Elves in World of Warcraft in general, representing their rebirth from the ashes of genocide in the Third War. Kael's pet phoenix Al'ar serves as a boss in his raid, Tempest Keep, and Kael summons phoenixes during both boss fights against him in Burning Crusade.
  • Like many mythological creatures, they're featured in the Shin Megami Tensei series. What's interesting is that in Persona 4, Phoenix's (of the Sun Arcana) artwork is that of Suzaku's and Suzaku (of the Temperance Arcana) has another variation of its artwork.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic had it from the start. In Heroes of Might and Magic 1 and 2 it was the top-tier creature of the Sorceress Castle. In Heroes of Might and Magic III it was absent but returned in the expansion, Armageddon's Blade, as the Conflux top-tier creature and gained the ability to resurrect after a stack died for the first time. In Heroes of Might and Magic IV it showed up as one of two top-tier creatures for the Preserve/Nature faction as well as a summoning spell in the Nature school. Heroes of Might and Magic V actually has two versions, a summoned Phoenix whose stats depend on the hero's, and a neutral creature that can come in numbers and ressurects once per battle when slain. In the campaign, their light is one of two ways for the Elves to defeat the Vampire Lord Nicolai for good.
  • age of Wonders had a phoenix as a rare, summonable creature. It was extremely powerful and when slain, would resurrect after 3 turns (unlimited).
  • Rise of Legends: The Alin use an Arabian-style phoenix as a scout.
  • Suzaku from Tenchu 2 is a frightening parody of the phoenix's life after death theme.
  • The Monster Rancher series.
    • Ironically, the Phoenix monster actually has one of the shortest lifespans of any monster in the game.
  • Fujiwara no Mokou from Touhou Project has phoenix-themed powers in the form of resurrection-type immortality and control over fire. One of her Spellcards is even called "Possessed by Phoenix".
  • You can create these in Scribblenauts. They're treated as a standard flying creature, and aren't flaming themselves, but they are attracted to fires—with the humorous result that you can tie a rope to them, tie the other end to something you want to move, and repeatedly move a fire that they'll chase after like it's a carrot on a fishing line.
  • A phoenix makes an appearance in the second God of War game
  • Mega Man 6 and Mega Man Zero 2 had the fire-themed bosses "Blaze Heatnix" and "Phoenix Magnion". While they don't have the ability to resurect, you do have to fight them again in the Boss Rush of their respective games. Mega Man 10 has Dual Miniboss with that theme.
    • Magnion, however, had a notable attack in which he can briefly summon spirits of Zero's old X series foes in battle.
  • Phoenix Wright: is a rising new star lawyer with the uncanny ability to turn cases around when all hope seems lost. Case 1-5 is even called "Rise From the Ashes".
    • This applies much more to the English version though. In the Japanese version, he is more associated with the dragon and his original Japanese name means dragon.
  • Kirby 64 The Crystal Shards: Fire + Fire turns Kirby into a giant blazing phoenix.
  • Kirby's Epic Yarn features a literal Phoenix named Hot Wings as the second boss of the game.
  • Then there are the two classic coin-op games Phoenix and Space Firebird, both of which have the player battling wave upon wave of phoenices.
  • Archon had a phoenix as a piece. It could immolate itself as an attack, and was invulnerable while doing so.
  • Peter the phoenix in Shining Force II, an important plot character who revives himself if he dies in battle.
  • Ushiromiya Battler, from Umineko no Naku Koro ni, has been likened to a phoenix a couple of times in Arcs 2 - 4. After being turned into a soulless servant, tricked mercilessly by his rival and enemy, and fading out of existence after learning his parentage, he continues fighting Beatrice. May double as a reference to Ace Attorney.
  • Though never directly associated with the Phoenix, Yukiko from Persona 4 uses Fire, Healing, and Resurrection Magic. Her personas are also winged humanoids.
    • There's also an ACTUAL Phoenix persona in-game.
  • Raven in Rune Factory 3 turns out to be one, with pretty incredible fireball attacks.
  • There are now two different phoenix pets in RuneScape.
  • BlazBlue got Nox Nyctores Phoenix Rettenjou. It has the power to sever the connection from the Boundary, and in here, Boundary can mean 'land of the dead' so it has the probability to save someone from death. Its user, Bang Shishigami, inexplicably has some untold fire powers. And that one time he was thought to be dead (when he saved Litchi in the beginning of his story in Continuum Shift)... he suddenly got back up as if nothing happened. Hmmmm....
  • In Magical Doropie, Doropie can transform into a Firebird to defeat all enemies on screen at the cost of one-third of her life meter.
  • The shmups Terra Cresta, Legendary Wings(NES version only), and Crisis Force(No Export for You) all have a phoenix form as a Super Mode.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Bennu in The Dragon Wars Saga is a phoenix (it's implied that phoenixes are a species among Speakers).
  • The Phoenix as a species becomes prominent in the second half of Shadowhunter Peril. Instead of one of a kind, red-and-gold birds roughly the size of a hawk, Phoenixes are tall, anywhere from 7–9 feet in height (although their King stands at 11 feet) and they speak with telepathy. Phoenixes in this universe come in any color feather, usually a solid color, and they all sport unique, intricate, glowing linies of another color along their bodies. They have the ability to light themselves on fire at will, they breathe fire, and they can carry a human or two, depending on their size and strength. These Phoenixes used to live in mountains all over the planet, until their homes were destroyed by an unnamed entity, and they were forced to retreat to Ushuum'a, a city built inside the volcano Kilimanjaro, and Ka'a, their capital city built inside a hollowed out Mount Everest. They have a single King and Queen, Ra and Nasaero, who rule over the entire race and reside in Ka'a. The entire city is lit by artificial sunlight coming from a large jewel hanging above the area on the rocky ceiling, and wildlife grows and lives in the city as well. Phoenixes in general are very untrustworthy and proud, so much that they were ready to kill Kyle, Etzel, and Kitty upon sight. Only one with phoenix blood in their veins can open the entranceway to their cities. They have a massive army sporting golden armor, due to their warlike nature. Phoenixes are easily as intelligent as a human, clearly sentient, and because of their incredibly long lifespans it is very hard to trick them. A select few also practice the ability of forcefully digging into the minds of others for information, if the need arises. Phoenixes will live forever, bursting into flames and rising from the ashes ever five hundred years, unless they are killed in battle.
    • In the same universe, there is a phoenix-human hybrid named Kyle Vivoka, who has inherited some of their abilities, as well as a version of their immortality, mortalized in the form of high-speed regeneration.

Western Animation

  • The In Name Only Conan the Barbarian Animated Adaptation had a talking Phoenix as a Small Annoying Creature. In the sequel series where the firebird was missing, Conan made an off-hand comment saying that he eventually ate it.
    • To note that is was a small, young phoenix (with the power to enter a metal objects and become a symbol/decoration). In one episode it temporarily got it's adult form and it was massive and powerful, easily carrying Conan on it's back.
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy showed the phoenix as a gluttonous beast.
  • One of the Three Keys of Power (artifacts that grant their owner tremendous magical power when used together) from Gargoyles, the Phoenix Gate, allows people to travel through time. Howver, due to the nature of time travel in that series, no one can actually change the past, merely fulfill their role in it. In the canon comics, the Phoenix Gate is broken and an actual Phoenix is freed as a result.
  • While no phoenixes are seen in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Fire Lord Ozai invokes the symbolism of the bird when he grants himself the title of "Phoenix King" on the basis of how he will rise from the ashes of the incinerated Earth Kingdom as the supreme ruler of the entire world.
  • The pilot episode of Galaxy Rangers is called "Phoenix," ostensibly named for Zachary's ill-fated ship. It also could be read as a reference to Zach himself, as his life is pretty much shot by the end of the ep (severely injured, the ship's destroyed, wife's headed to the Fate Worse Than Death), and he's "reborn" as a Hollywood Cyborg and put in command of the Series 5 team. One of the Ear Worm theme songs also references the Phoenix.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Princess Celestia has a pet phoenix named Philomena. When first introduced, Philomena is a sickly bird, and Fluttershy kidnaps her to nurse her back to health. Everything she tries fails, and meanwhile Fluttershy and her friend Twilight Sparkle are panicking about how much trouble Fluttershy will get into for kidnapping the bird. Just when the princess arrives, Philomena catches fire. Fluttershy is very dismayed and confesses what she did, and the princess reassures her that she knows Fluttershy's intentions were good. Then she reveals that Philomena isn't dead, and a beautiful phoenix rises from the ashes.
    • Interestingly, this plot is very much like how Fawkes from Harry Potter was introduced, causing many fans to see it as a Shout-Out.
    • In Dragon Quest, the teenage dragons attempt to raid the nest of a Phoenix family. The family escapes, but Spike finds a lone unhatched egg. The other dragons urge him to smash it, but Spike refuses out of sympathy (he was a lone egg too not too long ago) and takes the egg with him back to Ponyville. The egg later hatches and Spike adopts the newly hatched chick as his pet naming it Peewee.

Real Life

  • "phoenix" was the online handle of the Playful Hacker leader of the original Hacker Unionist Movement... and while he retired at the end of the first movement, it's had a Continuity Reboot of sorts twice.
  • The Bennu, the mythological bird that inspired the concept of the phoenix in the west, was based on a species of extinct heron (Ardea bennuides). In turn, the Feng Huan, or "Chinese phoenix", was inspired by the Asian ostriches that lived during the ice ages in China.
  • There is a breed of long-tailed chicken known as a phoenix.
  • Phoenix was the name of the coins the Greek state used after its liberation. It symbolized the rebirth of Greece.
    • A phoenix was also used on Greek coins issued after the end of the colonels' regime to symbolize the rebirth of democracy.
  • A phoenix above the main entrance of Hamburg's city hall symbolizes the rebirth of the city after the great fire of 1842, as does the representative Phönixsaal (Phoenix Hall) on the upper floor.
  • It's a jellyfish, not a bird, but the Turritopsis nutricula has the phoenix-like ability to indefinitely revert to its juvenile state instead of dying, effectively achieving true immortality.