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Aelius: I think that if someone tried to rob you in the street, you'd pick his pocket, sell him a better knife and probably offer him a job as a tax collector.

Basso: I choose to take that as a compliment.
The Folding Knife
File:Eris 1 7936.jpg

A trickster is a god, goddess, spirit, man, woman, or anthropomorphic animal who plays tricks or otherwise disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. The Trickster openly questions and mocks authority, encourages impulse and enthusiasm, seeks out new ideas and experiences, destroys convention and complacency, and promotes chaos and unrest. At the same time, the trickster brings new knowledge, wisdom and many An Aesop. Even when punished horribly for his effrontery, his indomitable spirit (or plain sheer foolishness) keeps him coming back for more.

Tricksters can be anything from gods of chaos, bedeviling heroes for a few laughs, to master manipulators who use cruel ploys and sadistic choices. They can also be heroes (or more likely Anti-Heroes) who make up for a lack of strength or bravery with manipulation, planning, or just plain cheating. The trickster is often a Master of Disguise and may have magical or super-powers. They're often found Walking the Earth.

In mythology and religion, the trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously but usually, albeit unintentionally, with ultimately positive effects. Often, the bending/breaking of rules takes the form of tricks or thievery. Tricksters can be cunning or foolish or both; they are often funny even when considered sacred or performing important cultural tasks.

In modern literature the trickster survives as a character archetype. Often too, the Trickster is distinct in a story by his acting as a sort of catalyst, in that his antics are the cause of other characters' discomfiture, but he himself is left untouched.

The Trickster is NOT the same as the Jerkass. While the Trickster may be mischievous, impudent and uppity, he is not necessarily openly malevolent or sociopathic; in fact, in many cases (Prometheus, for example) Tricksters are more friendly to humanity than the gods are.

Compare Messianic Archetype and The Fool. May overlap with Nominal Hero, particularly if the trickster is doing it purely for fun.


Sub Tropes Edit


Examples of The Trickster include:


Advertising Edit

  • Dominoes pizza mascot The Noid.
  • The Trix Rabbit
  • The Hamburglar
  • Mayhem, played by Dean Winters as seen here.


Anime and Manga Edit


Comic Books Edit

  • Deadpool.
  • Spider-Man, whose actions end up teaching him his own wisdom.
  • Impossible Man.
  • The Joker and the Riddler.
  • Mr. Mxyzptlk from Superman.
  • The original Trickster, it's in his name!
  • John Constantine
  • Nightcrawler, Gambit, and Iceman of the X-Men.
  • Jaeger of the aboriginal sci-fi comic Finder. Although he seems random and impetuous, his behavior is bound by the code of the titular super-scouts, but also his designation as a ritual scapegoat in his mother's native culture.
  • V
  • Plastic Man, according to some people interviewed for the 80s cartoon DVD of the titular character, serves as a trickster in the DC Comics mythos of heroes.
  • Sam and Max's titular duo functions as one of these - Max provides the impulsiveness, Sam provides the Aesop and they both contribute to the chaos.
  • Loki, Marvel's version of the Norse God of Mischief and Lies. Varies from out-and-out villain to anti-hero, depending on the writer and the incarnation (for example, de-aged Loki is a lot less malevolent than his previous, older self).


Film Edit

  • Charlie Chaplin
  • Many of the characters Eddie Murphy has portrayed are Tricksters.
  • The Mask (explicitly linked to Loki) and most other characters played by Jim Carrey, some mentioned elsewhere on this page, some not - such as Andy Kaufman (Man on the Moon), a Real Life trickster figure of sorts, who would be called just a troll today.
  • Han Solo, to a degree. In the Brian Daley novels he pulls a wide array of tricks, with a playfulness that nicely offsets his grimmer, mercenary side.
    • Also, Yoda. Though he would technically be more along the lines of Trickster Mentor, it's usually assumed that he likes practical jokes for their own value, too.
  • Jack Sparrow. Captain Jack Sparrow.
  • You need a name with a bit of style. Mixed with... romance. Something like... Valentine.
  • Kayako and Toshio from Ju-on (and the remake series, The Grudge).
  • Tyler Durden of Fight Club. A more malicious example.
  • Ferris Bueller.
  • The Marx Brothers, particularly Groucho.
  • Flip from Little Nemo.
  • Reg Dunlop from Slap Shot, as he manages to hoodwink an entire town.
  • Meeko from Pocahontas, although he's a bit less of trickster and more of an outright thief.
  • The short comedy Harold Of Orange was made to show how this trope would be played out in Real Life.
  • Mr. Nick from The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Yes, he's the Devil but he seems more interested in playing games than damning souls, to the extent that he actually tries to prevent Parnassus' daughter from going into Hell and when she does says, "Damn, I won." in a tone of regret.
  • "The Trickster" from Brainscan.
  • Loki, the on-screen incarnation of the comic book character of the same name who, in turn, was based on the Norse God of trickery and chaos.


Literature Edit

  • The Cheshire Cat
  • Miles Vorkosigan.
  • Puck from The Sisters Grimm. Given that he's supposed to literally be Shakespeare's Puck (from A Midsummer Night's Dream), this is unsurprising.
  • El-ahrairah, the rabbit folk hero in Watership Down. A literal example.
  • Br'er Rabbit from Song of the South based on African-American folktales, is the American version of this archetype.
  • The Grinch and Cat in The Hat both fit this archetype to a t. And they do look almost quite similar in their live action incarnations.
  • Merry and Pippin from Lord of the Rings are also Those Two Guys.
  • Granny Weatherwax. You don't have to have a sense of humour to be a Trickster!
    • Also, Moist von Lipwig.
    • Don't forget about Scrappy the kangaroo from "The Last Continent".
      • Literally, in this case. Acknowledged in exposition as a trickster god and therefore the sort of guy who puts a land mine under a seat cushion for a bit of a chuckle.
      • Other Discworld trickster gods are Hoki the Jokester (banned from Dunmanifestin for pulling "the old exploding misteltoe trick") and the dwarfish mine-spirit Agi Hammerthief.
  • Randal Patrick McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
    • The novel's author, Ken Kesey, was something of a real-life example as well: he helped kick-start the hippie movement and drove around America in a painted bus handing out hallucinogens like candy. Then when he was on the run from the police he fled to Mexico and later went back over the border on horseback dressed as a cowboy.
  • The Meddler of the Firekeeper novels, who is known for having seemingly good intentions but never stopping to consider the consequences.
  • The Marquis of Carabas in Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. He is named after the alias used by Puss in Boots, a Trickster character in his own right.
    • Neil also wrote his own story about Anansi, going by the name of Charlie Nancy. He has... well, two sons who inherit his powers.
  • Neal Stephenson very evidently likes to both use and reference this archetype; Hiro Protagonist is a Trickster/Technologist in Snow Crash, as are many of the key figures of both Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age. In The Diamond Age, The Hacker is explicitly namechecked as a modern trickster archetype, and in Cryptonomicon Enoch Root discusses with Randy the way various cultures have interpreted the archetype - from worship (Athena) to deep distrust (Loki).
  • The Count of Monte Cristo.
  • Colin in John C. Wright's Chronicles of Chaos. Always ready to pull a stunt whenever they need a distraction.
  • Harlequin, as seen in the story "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman by Harlan Ellison.
    • See also Neil Gaiman's "Harlequin Valentine".
  • In Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, Tabaqui the Jackal.

 "All thanks for this good meal," he said, licking his lips. "How beautiful are the noble children! How large are their eyes! And so young too! Indeed, indeed, I might have remembered that the children of kings are men from the beginning."

Now, Tabaqui knew as well as anyone else that there is nothing so unlucky as to compliment children to their faces. It pleased him to see Mother and Father Wolf look uncomfortable.

  • Kyprioth is the trickster god of Tamora Pierce's Tortall but the human Aly gives him a run for his money.
  • Paladine in the Dragonlance novels. His greatest trick was doubtless passing himself off as the god of law, majesty, and nobility.
  • Robin Goodfellow in the Cal Leandros series. His species is a puck.
  • Aiken Drum in Julian May's Saga of the Exiles, exiled for such pranks as altering a dam's configuration so that a giant penis sticks out of it, peeing water. and that's before he gets super powers
  • Willy Wonka of Roald Dahl's children's book (as well as his two movie incarnations) is a trickster of the Mentor variety.
  • John Taylor from the Nightside novels, sometimes.
  • In Harry Potter, Fred and George Weasley. And Dumbledore has shades of the Trickster Mentor.
    • Peeves is also a good example, but the Twins prove their superiority when, in Book Five, they leave and order Peeves to "Give her (Umbridge) hell from us." And Peeves salutes!
  • Foxface in The Hunger Games, known for being Too Clever by Half.
  • The shape-shifting Gloamglozer in The Edge Chronicles. The creature itself admits to being "a trickster, a liar, a cheat and a fraud."
  • Warrior Cats has Sol. In addition to his life of travelling the earth to screw things up in as many places as possible, he has actually once been called a trickster in the books.
  • Pocket in Christopher Moore's Fool.
  • Repairman Jack. Even though he's an "urban mercenary" he prefers using his wits to solve a problem than violence and even his violent solutions often show a twisted sense of humor.
  • Mat Cauthon of the Wheel of Time novels.
  • The Darksword Trilogy has Simkin.
  • In John C. Wright's The Golden Age, The Phoenix Exultant, and The Golden Transcedence, the Neptunians. All of them. They live that far out to live a wild life in which sending people computer viruses is considered high spirits. In The Golden Transcedence, Diomedes comments that he would of course steal a ship to carry out their plan, but he's surprised that inner-system people like Phaethon and Atkins would.
  • Colin from the post-Apocaylpse novel Malevil. Shrewd, often a pain in the ass, and as Emmanuel's favorite friend allowed to get away with a lot.
  • In Sabatini's Scaramouche, Andre-Louis plays this role on stage and in life. This aspect of the character comes out even more so in the 1952 film.
  • Ulric Skakki in Harry Turtledove's Golden Shrine trilogy.
  • Tzigone from Counselors and Kings is a highly intelligent and playful street performer/thief (with latent magical abilities, though she really only starts developing those in the second and third books) who enjoys mocking her stratified society and overturning its rules wherever possible. Unlike some tricksters, though, when push comes to shove she's plainly one of the good guys.
  • Francisco d'Anconia from Atlas Shrugged.
  • Robin Goodfellow from An Elegy for the Still-living talks in riddles, plays practical jokes, manipulates anyone he can get his hands on and implies that he is the Anthropomorphic Personification of the Trickster Archetype.
  • Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files believes himself to be this, but Murphy points out that he's actually very predictable, despite his occasional surpassing cleverness; he just has authority problems.
  • Zosim the Trickser God is a minor member of the pantheon in Shadowmarch, though he's ultimately revealed to be the Big Bad, manipulating everybody to try and become top god. Interestingly, though the rest of his pantheon are clear counterparts to the Greco-Roman gods, Zosim himself resembles Loki far more than he does Hermes.


Live Action TV Edit


Opera Edit

  • The eponymous character in The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro (it's the same guy).
    • At the time of publishing "Marriage" (the sequel in canon, but made into an opera long before the first story), this kind of character being the lead in an opera was unheard of. Combined with Figaro being a commoner, it caused quite a stir in the music world. Needless to say, now they're some of the most beloved and famous operas in the world.
  • The titular Gianni Schicchi is this trope amped to ridiculous levels. His Gambit Pileup he makes up on the fly, hinging on the other characters' greed both for him to prevail in the end and get off with impunity.
  • An incredibly dark version of this is Iago from Othello (sometimes spelled Otello for the opera).


Professional Wrestling Edit

  • If there is one professional wrestler who qualifies, it's Eddie Guerrero. And to a lesser extent, his nephew Chavo (at least after Eddie's death).
  • Edge


Religion and Mythology Edit

  • Loki
  • Odin (Often overlooked)
  • Coyote
  • Raven
  • Weesagechak
  • Nanabush / Nanabozho
  • Spider Woman
  • Anansi / Anancy / Aunt Nancy
  • Kokopelli
  • Hermes
  • Prometheus
  • Gwydion
  • Eshu
  • Legbara
  • Merlin
  • Afrekete
  • Br'er (pronounced "bruh", for "brother") Rabbit / Compe' Lapin
  • Sun Wukong (Son Goku) / Monkey in Journey to the West
  • Puck / Robin Goodfellow
  • Reynard le Goupil (Reynard the Fox)
  • Tyl Eulenspiegel / Uylenspiegel
  • Hershel of Ostropol
  • Kitsune (Fox)
  • Tanuki (Raccoon dog)
  • Badger
  • Satan (and Lucifer)
  • Dracula
  • Maui
  • Harlequin
  • Mr. Punch
  • Jacob
  • Rare trickstress version: Eris
  • Hanuman
  • Although Susano'o has been labeled as a Trickster God, he's quite a subversion due to being a lot more barbaric and bloodthirsty than other examples, although he did have one moment of genuine Trickster-ness with how he disposed of Orochi.
  • Thoth
  • Tezcatlipoca
    • Subverted in that he was at the same time an authority figure, and a very important one at that. The only times he was really trickster-ish where mainly when he wanted to annoy his brother, Quetzalcoatl.
    • Huehuecoyotl "Very Old Coyote."
  • Nasreddin Hodja (in Persian- and Turkic-speaking countries)/Juha (or Joha or Guha or Goha or...) (in Arabic-speaking countries), the Sufi Muslim Trickster.
  • Athena, in The Odyssey, though you wouldn't know it from her more modern portrayals.
    • Odysseus himself too.
  • Puss in Boots
  • Heyoka


Tabletop RPG Edit

  • Two words: Chaotic Neutral.
  • The Ragabash Auspice in Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Also all the Nuwisha or Werecoyotes.
    • Also the Corax or Wereravens, although to a lesser extent.
  • An entire watchtower is devoted to this concept in Mage: The Awakening, the Acanthus. An entire fifth of mages in existence, and all of them devoted to the trickster concept of the Fool Tarot.
  • The pooka from Changeling: The Dreaming.
  • Warhammer 40000 has its typical pitch black take on it. The Deceiver is a weaker Eldritch Abomination who is one of the bigger players in the Gambit Pileup in the setting, and the Laughing God is one of the few surviving gods of the Eldar, whose followers are the Harlequins (space elf ninja clown acrobat librarians). On a smaller scale, there's a direct reference to this archetype in the latest Space Wolves codex, Lukas the Trickster, a low-ranking Space Marine who replaced one of his hearts with a stasis bomb that goes off on his death.
    • Let this troper emphasize. Ninja. Clown. The fact that it's their defining game mechanic and they get saves (effectively, armor) on that account only accentuates the hilarity. They're one of the few Eldar units that can charge in the open, comparable to units from other factions whose armor was designed for repairing ships' reactors while they're on, all on account of the fact that anyone who is both a ninja and a clown is impossible to hit.
    • The whole archetype is part of the Space Wolves' hat. The majority are Boisterous Bruisers to varying degrees, and many of the younger ones have a real fondness for harmless (or sometimes, not-so-harmless) practical jokes. Lukas is a prime example on how extreme the Space Wolves' rebellious nature can be, since he doesn't even respect superiors within his own chapter as much as any other character.
  • Taken at face value with the Trickster Archetype in Unknown Armies.
  • GURPS has the Trickster Disadvantage.
  • Lunar Exalted. Quoth Robert "The Demented One" Vance:

 Raksha are the drunken sorority girls to the Lunar's fratboy, except the Lunar's fratboy is a world-walking trickster-god werewolf.


Theater Edit


Video Games Edit


Web Comics Edit

  • April Fools' Day in the webcomic Holiday Wars is a shapeshifting prankster.
  • Coyote and Reynardine (based somewhat on the above-mentioned Reynard the Fox) from Gunnerkrigg Court.
  • Chaos of Life and Death. Plays cross-dimensional golf, teaches people to hold their tempers in the most obnoxious way possible, and can be a show off. DO NOT piss him off though.
  • Mermaids are, as a culture, deliberately annoying. In an inversion of typical sirens, mermaid musicians can actually cause shipmen to suicide crash simply due to the utter cacophony.

 "I know! To regain our surprise, let's perform Morning Screams!"

  • John Egbert of Homestuck. You cannot hope to beat Egbert in a prank-off. He is simply the best there is. It also seems to run in the family.
    • A more supernatural example in the vein of Coyote is Godcat, who is just as likely to teleport you into a paddock across town in the middle of a heavy rainstorm for giggles as he is to save you from an explosion by summoning a convenient couch floating in midair.
  • In The Water Phoenix King, the goddess Ailari, patron of travelers, messengers, merchants, inns, freedom, and fortune. Her various servants and champions all embody these aspects in different ways, starting with Anthem's protests that she's nobody's servant, thankyouverymuch, and Gilgam's shameless Rules Lawyering and outright deceptions to see justice done without giving her away. (Vish even has Hermes' winged sandals, for all his Lawful inclinations.)

 Vish: ...Lady Luck. My Goddess. Yours now. Sanctifier of Journeys, Lady of Crossroads, Gallows-Girl of Thieves and the Courts of Night.


Web Original Edit

  • Liz Polanski. Oh Liz. This is a character who starts out her game Obfuscating Insanity by slicing the head off a dead body and carrying it around, smearing her face with makeup, and overall trying to make herself look as Ax Crazy as possible in front of other students so they'll leave her alone. She then one-ups herself by pouring melted aluminum all over her collar to deactivate it. And it works.
  • The Youtube parodies of Der Untergang turn Hermann Fegelein into a Trickster Arch Enemy of Hitler. Everything that goes wrong in the Third Reich can be attributed to Fegelein and his antics.
    • Himmler helps him out on it too on at least one occasion, and is pretty explicitly said in the parodies to also have been a major trickster.


Western Animation Edit

  • Eris from Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, shown in the picture above, spends all of her time playing tricks on the protagonist (along with all the mortals in the story) and well, just causing general chaos. just listen to this theme song
  • Bugs Bunny: the classic Karmic Trickster.
  • Daffy Duck (originally)
  • The mynah bird
  • Woody Woodpecker
  • Roger Rabbit
  • Martin Mystery
  • Heather from Total Drama Island
  • Norman from Fireman Sam
  • The Genie from Disney's Aladdin.
  • Crash and Eddie from Ice Age 2.
  • Bart Simpson from The Simpsons.
  • Br'er Rabbit from Song of the South and the original stories. In Disney's adaptation, and all adaptations since then, the pronunciation has been "brayer", as if it were a mispronunciation of "brier", when, in actuality, "Br'er" is supposed to be pronounced as "bruh", meaning "Brother".
    • This character is deconstructed in Ralph Bakshi's Coonskin, where "Br'er" is correctly pronounced.
  • Norm the Genie from Fairly Oddparents
  • Digeri Dingo from Taz-Mania. He often tricks Taz into doing dangerous things for his own profit. To keep him from being The Scrappy, he's got some of the wittiest, most hilarious lines in the series and could possibly fall into Ensemble Darkhorse status because of this.
  • Puck, the king of the tricksters himself, has appeared in both Gargoyles. "What fools these mortals be!"
    • Not to mention Coyote, Raven and Anansi. Xanatos (yes, that Xanatos) very much patterns himself after the mythological trickster.
      • On his website, Greg Weisman was once asked about including the Egyptian god Seth, and noted that "He's basically a Trickster figure[...]and I already have four of those to play with."
  • The entire Dingo family in Blinky Bill, but mostly Danny and Daisy.
  • Hexadecimal of Re Boot pretty much defines this trope. Off the wall, powerful and above all, an artiste.
  • Heloise of Jimmy Two-Shoes.
  • Word of God describes The Spectacular Spider-Man versions of Spidey himself and the Green Goblin this way.
  • In Xiaolin Showdown, one of the first things Raimundo does is pants Omi and complain about the mat beds.
  • The Magic Man from Adventure Time lives solely to knock heroes down a peg.
  • Discord from My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic looks and acts like a Trickster, but beneath it there's a hidden side of malice. Also, when push comes to shove and trickery fails, he's not above just Cutting the Knot to get what he wants.
    • Princess Celestia from the same show is a good version of this trope; fans don't call her "Trollestia" for nothing.
  • T.J. Detweiler from Recess. King Bob was this as well before he became king of the playground.
  • Loki, from Marvel's animated feature Thor Tales of Asgard.
  • June from Ka Blam! is basicly a female, human, eleven-year-old version of Bugs Bunny


Real Life Edit

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