Meet the Tricksters

April Fool’s Day is the perfect occasion to meet some Tricksters. You know these characters.

olaf
Tricksters provide comic relief.

 

donkey_shrek
Tricksters draw the main character out of his shell…or unpeel some of his layers.

 

dobby_cake
Tricksters take actions to thwart the hero—sometimes for his own good. Or so they believe.

 

catchingfire_dress
Not all tricksters are funny. In CATCHING FIRE, Cinna uses Katniss’s dress to play a serious trick on the Capitol.

Tricksters take the plot in unexpected directions, speak truth to power, puncture blowhards, and defuse tension. Tricksters can be friends or enemies, wise-but-foolish mentors, allies, sidekicks, or love interests.

ferris-buellers-day-off-movie
A Trickster can even be the main character.

And of course, tricksters don’t have to be human.

Cat_tricksters
Tricksters can be cats. . .
. . .or birds. . .
. . .or birds. . .
This-is-not-my-hat
. . .or even fish.

The Trickster is just one of several classic character archetypes that speak to the human experience—even when they’re not human. Understanding archetypes, and the hero’s journey they inhabit, can be a helpful way of understanding storytelling. Many writers discover that they’ve created archetypal characters without even knowing it.

Learn more about character archetypes and the hero’s journey here:
The Eight Character Archetypes of the Hero’s Journey on Mythcreants
Archetypal Character on the TV Tropes wiki
The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler (a book well worth the investment)

HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY! thepigeonneedsabathAnd April Fool’s Day is an appropriate date for the launch of the trickster Pigeon’s newest book, The Pigeon Needs a Bath, available today (no fooling!). (Mo Willems doesn’t know me, but we share an agency. Hello, Mo!)

Tricksters LOVE arguments, so if you think some of the characters listed here aren’t true tricksters, say so in the comments! Or, name your own favorite trickster characters.

7 comments

  1. Thanks Marianne. Nice post and also nice link to “The Eight Character Archetypes…”
    I always think first of Anansi, but I like the ways that some of your examples push the definition of ‘trickster’ in other directions.

    Like

    1. Cartoons are so full of tricksters it was hard to choose just one example! I liked Roadrunner because he’s all action and no dialogue. I suppose Wile E. Coyote is a trickster himself, come to think of it.

      Like

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