The Valkyries are a group of figures from Norse Mythology, fierce women who served the Norse gods. They were sometimes depicted as Psychopomps, derived from their name which means Chooser of the Slain. What sets them apart is that their classical depiction has become so ingrained that it is copied, parodied, and even outright inverted.
Sometimes seen as related to the Irish Morrigan. Not to be confused with the Tom Cruise historical drama and real life event to assassinate Adolf Hitler Valkyrie, which takes its name from these figures, as does the iconic VF-1 Valkyrie of Super Dimension Fortress Macross and the experimental XB-70 Valkyrie supersonic bomber.
- The Ur Example is of course the Norse Mythology reference. Oftentimes depicted with wings, or riding winged horses, or sometimes ravens. The kenning (poetic title) used to describe their steeds was mistranslated, as they may have instead ridden wolves. Their role was to choose those who died a worthy death in battle and take them to Valhalla, making them Einherjar (lone fighters) who battle in the afterlife, are slain again, but rise every night to feast in the great hall. These warriors prepare for the final battle, Ragnarok. Its worth to note that they originated from bloodthirsty, murderous war spirits, as opposed to the more dignified look they have nowadays. Some sources describe them as far more than just beautiful psychopomps for the heroic dead. They helped make your heroes dead. A random arrow deflected in flight hits a chink in your armor. A broken lace on your boot makes you stumble and gives your enemy the opening to strike you down. Etcetera. All the work of the Valkyries, invisibly flitting here and there on the battlefield to screw over the finest of warriors so that Odin would have the best of the best on his side come Ragnarok. It was how the Norse answered the question "why do the good die young while jerk-asses live forever?" It was also why the original steeds of the valkyries weren't beautiful winged horses, they were dark and hoary wolves.
- In Ah! My Goddess, which takes much from Norse Mythology to begin with, Valkyries are essentially the Armed Forces of Heaven, with Lind as the most prominent, and the highest ranked, answering only to the Almighty. Belldandy, who really dislikes violence, was recently shown to be a licensed Valkyrie herself, when she held her own in a fight with a very strong denizen of hell.
- In Durarara!!, Izaya has a theory that the legend of Dullahans from Celtic Mythology and the legend of Valkyries from Norse Mythology are based on the same thing, and one can somehow "trigger" Valkyrie Mode and Ragnarok. So, he's manipulating gangs into fighting each other because he wants to start a war, hopefully activating the hypothetical "valkyrie" mode of Celty's head and allowing himself in Valhalla (though he'd be just as willing settle for Hel) -- all of this to avoid the equally hypothetical Nothing After Death. Of course, it's also just fun.
- Somehow, in the past few years, Valkyries have become weirdly popular in Hentai products, usually those of the "strong heroine gets raped by ugly monsters until she loves it" type. It's ...disturbing to say the least.
- The finale of Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Madoka's apotheosis essentially take up this duty for the entire multiverse, also creating Magical Girl Warrior Heaven in the process.
- High School DxD has the Norse Mythology included so having Valkyries being in this series was a given. One of them, Rossweiss, joins the Occult Research Club as the other Rook.
Comic Books[edit | hide]
- The Marvel Comics superheroine The Valkyrie was in fact an actual valkyrie, Brunhilda, after being forced to possess a human woman by The Mighty Thor's foe The Enchantress. She later regained her own physical body.
- Dani from the New Mutants is also a valkyrie, following the kids' first adventure in Asgard where she—most likely due to her animal telepathy—bonded with one of their winged horses.
- Undocumented Features, incorporating as it does elements from Ah! My Goddess, has a very modern band of Valkyries, each individually named and detailed as characters, ranging from Skuld herself (following the various Eddas who count her among their number) to Valkyrie Tech Sgt. Tinker "HV" Bell, 121st Sidhe Rangers.
- Valkyries -- along with Asgard and Valhalla -- are confirmed (to readers, at least) to exist in The Teraverse.
- One of the most memorable scenes of Conan the Barbarian involved Valeria appearing much like a Valkyrie in order to help Conan against Rexor, just several scenes after she was killed by Thulsa Doom.
Valeria: Do you want to live forever?
It may be worth noting that Sandahl Bergman is a Scandinavian-American as well!
Literature[edit | hide]
- In The Dresden Files, Marcone's security advisor, Ms. Gard, is a Valkyrie whom he hired from Monoc Securites, the modern day incarnation of the Tree of Life and presided over by Odin himself. At one point, she comments that Dresden was fated to die without her intervention, and she has a habit of showing up in the nick of time in a heavily armed helicopter while blasting "Ride of the Valkyries" on the loudspeaker. Let it never be said that a Chooser of the Slain doesn't know how to make an entrance.
- It is worth noting that in the series thus far, Gard does not appear to choose who dies, but rather seems to be fully aware of when a warrior is about to die. That doesn't mean said death is set in stone; both of the individuals who would have been fated to die were saved because another person chose to intervene.
- Susan encounters Valkyries during her stint as Death in Soul Music. They give her advice on how to carry out her duties.
- They like to sing the Wagner tune as well. One tries to recruit Susan, saying they could use a soprano.
- Valkyries also show up to collect The Silver Horde at the end of The Last Hero. The old men respond by mugging them and stealing their horses.
- When Sybil sings dwarf opera to make a point, Vimes thinks that all she needs is the armor to be a perfect Valkyrie.
- The Incarnation of War is married to one, first shown in Thief of Time.
- Valkyries show up in the Iron Druid Chronicles.
- Sangrida Odinsdottir in the Cal Leandros books is apparently a Valkyrie.
- The Disir from The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.
- In the Immortals After Dark series that are several imortal Valkyries, and their power includes super high pitched screams, inhuman strength and a fondness for alcool
- The Dungeons & Dragons supplement Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia" had Valkyries as servants of the Norse deities.
- The later supplement Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords reworked Valkyries to make use of that book's new system of martial maneuvers and stances.
- This is how Warhammer 40,000's Space Wolves are recruited - their Rune Priests often wander amongst the primitive human tribes of Fenris, observing young warriors in battle. Those that perform well but are mortally-wounded are rescued on the brink of death and ferried away to the Space Wolves' fortress-monastery, where they are healed and subjected to the crucible that is a Space Marine's initiation process. The Rune Priests even get psyber-linked raven familiars to act as their eyes, specifically called "Choosers of the Slain."
- In Scion, Valkyries are mentioned as one of the servitor races of the Aesir pantheon, and a Creature birthright available to Scions of the Aesir is "Valkyrie Steed". For reasons mentioned under Real Life, they're flying wolves.
- It's also possible to take a Valkyrie as a guide, and several are detailed. One is the wife of a powerful businessman, and lets him think she's a trophy while she covertly steers his business. Another is a United States Marine, and has "gone native" - she makes fallen U.S. soldiers into einherjar but refuses to do so with Iraqui insurgents, which has not gone unnoticed by the Aesir. And a third is Brynhilde from the Ring Cycle, who didn't die as mythology claims and is haunted by the knowledge that she will someday be the guide to yet another Scion who finds the Nibelung Ring and will love him despite herself.
- Werewolf: The Apocalypse features the Valkyria of Freya, an all-female group within the fierce, bloodthirsty Nordic werewolf tribe called the Get of Fenris. The Get worship Fenris (who is hardly villainous) and generally dislike Odin and the Aesir, which is probably why the werewolf Valkyria are "of Freya" (a Vana) instead (Freya, like Odin, also took her pick of those slain in battle).
- Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung was composed of four operas, one of which was called Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), which contains the famous snippet "Ride of the Valkyries". He mostly uses the straight version from myth, except here is where the (likely incorrect) winged horse depiction was ingrained and where the stereotypical depiction of the fat, horn-helmeted operatic soprano was born, though the Valkyries did not ride winged horses in any of the Bayreuth productions of the Ring and wore winged, not horned, helmets.
Video Games[edit | hide]
- In World of Warcraft, the giant-like Vrykul represent an evil Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Norse culture and mythology. The Lich King used undead female vrykul, called Val'Kyr, who have been given glowing feathery wings of energy, to choose the worthy, turning them into Ymirjar, (loosely translates from old Norse as 'giant fighter'), while the unworthy are turned into undead called Vargul.
- The Valkyrie Profile, as you may have guessed, centers around the exploits of the Valkyries themselves, and how it affects the lives of those they choose as Einherjar. The Valkyrie job is played straight (see Ur Example above) it's arguably a Deconstruction of the popular Valkyrie image.
- The Amazon in Diablo II can summon a Valkyrie.
- Like every other mythological character, Valkyries appear in the Shin Megami Tensei games. In Nocturne they have the neat "soul recruit" ability (said ability only works when used by them, even if another demon gets it via fusion.) where they recruit foes for your team with amazing success rates (even higher with strength focused races of demons such as Brutes.)
- Max Payne follows the titular detective's investigation of the designer drug "Valkyr". The symbolism of the name becomes apparent near the end of the game when we learn that Valkyr was originally a part of Government Conspiracy to produce super-strong soldiers. As Max put it: "Valkyr was meant to be a white-winged maiden that would lift you up to a warrior's heaven. Instead, it had turned out to be a one-way demon ride to hell."
- Being partly influenced by Norse mythology, the Dept. Heaven series of games loves this trope. It's never quite played straight, though, probably due to the gods' absence.
- One of the playable characters in Gauntlet (1985 video game) is known as the "Valkyrie". She's usually the Jack of All Stats of the group, having average attack, agility and magic (but above-average defense).
- Although the Valkyries in Odin Sphere still serve the eponymous Odin, he's merely the mighty warlord of the Aesir race rather than a god and his Valkyrie brigade (which includes his daughters Griselda and Gwendolyn) are warriors who have nothing to do with the traditional Psychopomp role.
- Lightning seems to have become something akin to one of these in Final Fantasy XIII-2, serving the goddess Etro.
- Age of Mythology has them as a myth unit that can heal your army as well as fight. Impressively, the in-game encyclopedia gives the names of all the original Valkyries.
- Valkyries appear in Ragnarok Online as boss protocol enemies, and then there's an MVP (which is basically a real boss) type called Valkyrie Randgris. They're kinda tough.
- Valkyries are one of the many adventurer-types a player can choose in Nethack.
- Tsubaki Yayoi from BlazBlue has a very Valkyrie-esque design, from the winged helmet, armor, and sword and shield fighting style.
- Several of Claire Redfield's outfits in the various Resident Evil games depict valkyries. It's been adopted by the fandom as her semi-official insignia, in line with Ada's butterfly, and to a much lesser extent, Leon's skull.
- Old school Namco game aptly titled Valkyrie, involving a blond Valkyrie fighting monsters under an evil witch named Zouna, and her Evil Counterpart Black Valkyrie. They all appear in Namco X Capcom.
- Rizelea is a Valkyrie, and one of the main characters of Trinity Universe. She has a tendency to jump into things but a good person nonetheless.
- Valkyries appear in Castlevania. There is also a recolor, called Erinys.
- Wizardry series has Valkyrie class, a female-only magic using warrior class. These favour polearms and sometimes stays alive when normally would be killed. Also, used for Helazoid amazons.
- Too Human, being half Norse Mythology and half Cyberpunk, features cyborg Valkyries who show up to carry you off to Valhalla every time you die in an annoyingly long and unskippable cutscene. A few times they also show up to claim fallen human soldiers (and one who hadn't quite died yet).
- In Dead Fantasy II, Rinoa (of all people) rocks quite a bit of the "modern" Valkyrie style and aesthetics, appearing as a winged figure over a battlefield, armed with sword and buckler-style shield, and who appears to whisk away the warriors in the midst of combat to another, Valhalla-esque series of battlefields and apparently in preparation for a greater conflict.
Web Comics[edit | hide]
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Brinnie is a fellow student hanging out with Surma, Anja and boys, so far appearing in flashbacks only. Word of God confirms that she is actually Brynhildr, the Valkyrie who was banished to Earth for disobeying Odin. Apparently in the Gunnerverse, she was sent to attend school at the Court, rather than being confined to a castle ringed by fire. On the other hand, Odin personally checks that she does all her homework. Tom also confirms that, in this 'verse, Valkyries have duties similar to psychopomps but not identical.
- In The KAMics Gertrude, Brunhilda & Nikki are ex-valkyries.
- Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki. Clearly.
- Bugs Bunny disguises himself as a valkyrie in the classic Looney Tunes short What's Opera, Doc?.
- On a Homage to the example above, Helga has a Dream Sequence during a Class Trip to the opera house in the episode "What's opera, Arnold?", in which she comes out of the skies riding a Cool Horse dressed as a valkyrie and threatening Arnold's crush with a golden magic slingshot. Complete with lyrics to the "Ride of the Valkyries" song
Helga: (singing) Ruth is a loser/ How could you choose her/ How could you do that/ Football Head! Football Head!