Three Billy Goats Gruff

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"The Three Billy Goats Gruff" is a traditional Norwegian Fairy Tale concerning three billy goats (that's a term for a male goat) who are siblings and a troll who lives under a bridge. The goats want to cross the bridge to get to the plentiful grass on the other side.

The youngest and smallest goat crosses the bridge first. (At this point, if reading to a small child, it is traditional to say "trip trap, trip trap". Please imagine your own trip-trappings for the sake of efficiency.) The troll pops up and says; "Who's that trip-trapping over my bridge?"

The goat pleads with the troll to let him go because he's only small and skinny, but his brother is much bigger and meatier. Stupidly, the troll agrees to this, and lets the little goat go on his way.

Next the second goat comes along, and the process is repeated. The medium-sized goat tells the troll to wait for his bigger brother. (At this point, we can only hope that these goats knew their eldest sibling would be capable, as otherwise, serious questions must be raised about their filial loyalty!) The troll, greed getting the better of him, agrees to wait for the third goat.

The third goat, unfortunately for the troll, turns out to be the Chuck Norris of goats, and when the troll pops up to say his catch phrase, trounces the troll and throws him off the bridge. The goats all then live happily on the other side of the bridge. The End.

The moral of the story, presumably, is that the grass actually is greener on the other side, patience is not a virtue, violence solves everything, pass the buck if you're scared of facing a problem, and you shouldn't mess with goats. A Broken Aesop perhaps, though Your Mileage May Vary, it still remains a very popular story.

Tropes used in Three Billy Goats Gruff include:
This story is referenced in:


  • In The Troll Hunter, Hans ties three increasingly large billy goats to the top of a bridge as bait for a troll.


  • In The Dresden Files, the Gruffs are the Summer Court's, more specifically Titania's, elite wetworks assets, and they always operate in teams of three. Their primary duty is killing trolls and in the Dresdenverse, trolls are tough, even by the standards of the supernatural. Eldest Brother Gruff is capable of pimp-smacking fallen angels without breaking a sweat.
  • Discworld's trolls have a longstanding rivalry with goats.
    • In Lords and Ladies, the Bursar unwisely makes a point of telling the Lancre bridge troll (acting as customs officer) that they didn't have any billy goats with them. Modest hilarity ensues.
    • In Monstrous Regiment, a bridge troll will charge you extra if you have billy goats with you.
  • "Troll Bridge", a short story by Neil Gaiman, is a variation in which, instead of a succession of goats, there's a single human who twice manages to persuade the troll that if it lets him go, there'll be more of him to eat next time he crosses the bridge. The third encounter, of course, goes rather differently.


  • Mountain goats in Rift drop an item called "Goat Gruff".

Video Games

Western Animation

  • Animaniacs has its own version with the Warners as the goats.