Fairy Media

This page serves as an index of what would normally be classified as fiction but excludes mythology, folklore and very old traditional tales which can be found here. Some series are in multiple media formats, but I am only listing them once each under the format of their original rendition where the rest of the formats are listed off. For instance, anime often have a source manga so if you cannot find something under the anime section check out manga. A great deal of content is originally published as a book series, a natural trend in media. I provide links to legal sources, which naturally applies to all public domain work.

Special traits include Arthurian, Tolkienesque, Shakespearean, fae main character, female main character, queer, nonviolent, dark, racy (lewd), "awakening" and "with a twist".

  1. Arthurian : Media based on the legends surrounding King Arthur. These legends have been influential since the Middle Ages and to some are a significant part of their spirituality. Le Mort d'Arthur, the standard-bearer for the legends, provides Britain with their own cultural epic. May involve the kingdom of Avalon, the city of Camelot, a quest for the Holy Grail and the Knights of the Round Table. Famous characters from Arthurian legend who may be found in such media include King Arthur himself, Merlin, Guinevere, Morgan le Fey and Sir Lancelot. Look for the grail icon.

  2. Tolkienesque : Media which has a significant influence from the Middle Earth series by J.R.R. Tolkien, especially Lord of the Rings.Tolkienesque inherits his interest in elves and dwarves, which hearkens back to Norse mythology, as well as often involving "orcs" which look similar to ogres. In particular, the elves are usually depicted as arrogant, aloof or isolationist but bearing the longest recorded history. A later development from Tolkien is how they are often split between "high elves", who typically have a breathtaking monarchical civilization and cultural accomplishments, and the "wood elves" who tend to stay in nature and have more rudimentary means. The dwarves tend to have a down-to-earth, possibly dour personality and be into mining and crafting. Both the elves and the dwarves tend to be honor-bound, but the elves are usually depicted as arrogant and the dwarves have an easier time bonding with humans due to their personality. Orcs or orc analogues, such as the Urgals from the Inheritance cycle, tend to be used as expendable "chaotic evil" mooks, but in games they may be playable. Goblins are usually treated as one-dimensional bogeymen similar to Orcs, but they are less likely to be playable in games. Trolls and ogres may pose an elevated threat to the heroes. Beyond that, there may be halflings or gnomes but it is rarer to find races such as merfolk, banshees, nymphs or even sprites. The fairies in these stories can be edgier and more genuinely serious than real life ones. Tolkienesque stories are often epic in scale and tend to follow the old, particularly Western mantra of "a story needs conflict" to a huge degree. Racism is often a theme of these works, ranging in severity from light rib-jabbing to massive war. These sorts of works were popular from the eighties to the early 2000s. Look for the ring icon.

  3. Shakespearean : Media based heavily in Shakespeare's plays. A Midsummer Night's Dream features the mischievous Puck, based on English folklore, and the king and queen of the fairies Oberon and Titania. There is a fae-like spirit in The Tempest, and the fairy queen Mab is mentioned in Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare was especially influential during the Romanticist period (1774-c. 1850). Look for the quill icon.

  4. Fairy lead : Fae have more often than not been side characters, but if you search for this you can find media where a fairy is the star.

  5. Female lead : Media tends to have male main characters unless it is more recent, where there is a higher chance for a female lead. Some people can have a hard time relating to or self-inserting as a male character, or just want to see a story from a female perspective, so this description will help you find works where a female is in the leading role. Look for the Venus icon.

  6. Queer : Media that has more diverse sexual, romantic or gender identity themes than conventional cis-heterosexuality. This has been hard to find until recently, unless you go back to Greek mythology. This will include the specific flavor e.g. bi, gay, trans etc. Look for the upside‑down triangle.

  7. Nonviolent : Media with no violence. I much prefer this sort of media myself. If you are not a fan of violence in media either or have PTSD triggers or such this may be useful. Look for the peace symbol.

  8. Dark : This is exceptionally dark media, which includes gratuitous violence and particularly twisted psychological content. Look for the skull.

  9. Racy : Lewd. If you want to avoid sex and nudity or to the contrary are actively seeking it out look for the flushed face.

  10. "Awakening" : Media wherein a character wakes up to the reality that they are a fairy. This is slightly more specific than just transforming into a fairy, as it is more like fae traits are activated from a latent part of their soul/DNA. These are often written by devoted fae scholars and/or incarnate fae, and the character is often a female lead and naturally wakes up as a fairy lead. Many of these works were made very recently. Look for the eye.

  11. With a twist : A new rendition of a traditional tale. This was kicked off by the Fractured Fairy Tales episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle and codified by Shrek, branching out into more works in the 2010s. The original tale can be found on the Mythology, Folklore and Traditional Tales page; this descriptor is for heavily altered renditions. They are often parodies. If these sorts of works were made in the 2010s the setting may change, and often the stakes are higher and the atmosphere darker. Look for the spiral.

Mythology, Folklore and Traditional Tales

As mythology, folklore and traditional tales tend to be ambiguous about how fictional they are and may be based on real events they are documented on a separate page.

Literature

Early Modern Fiction (c. 1500-1780 e.g. Elizabethan)

Romanticist Era (c. 1780-1860)

You can expect a couple of things from around this time in Europe, the United States and beyond. Romanticism is in general about experiencing sublime emotions which are difficult to describe, which the authors generally believe to have been suppressed since the Age of Reason. A connection to older times, especially ancient times and the Middle Ages, was in vogue and fueled nationistic sentiment as well. This period is also famous for gothic horror, the type which has a thick atmosphere. Idealistic heroes hearkening back to the ancient epics of Greece were common. Dying gloriously in battle could be seen as something to desire. The French Revolution can be seen as showing a blend of Age of Reason and Romanticist sentiment, while the later Napoleonic Wars were like a totally unmitigated real‑life manifestation of Romanticism. People said to have Romantic jobs besides being a soldier are archaologists, pirates, hunters, pioneers and cowboys.

The roots of Romanticism are in the Sturm und Drang (Storm and stress) movement, ushered in by philosopher Johann Georg Hamann and popularized in culture by the prose and poetry of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who made a stir with his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) and turned him into a celebrity overnight. There were even people throughout Europe dressing up as the protagonist in the Werther Fever. Goethe is now considered Germany's national poet.

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This was a period of remembering cultural roots, and not just from one's own territory. Archaeology exploded onto the scene. This was when excavations first became standardized by William Cunnington, and when the Rosetta stone was discovered by a soldier in Napoleon's Army (Pierre-François Bouchard) and then deciphered by Jean-François Champollion. The revival of interest in mythology included not only the Greco-Roman kind but also Egyptian, Norse, Celtic and in some circles Hindu. Orientalism was a significant trend which involved interest in cultures East of Europe, especially Middle-Eastern. This can be seen in the popularity of A Thousand and One Nights with characters such as Aladdin, Sinbad and Ali Baba. Orientalism also made its way into art, architecture and even sexual fantasy (e.g. harems).

This is relevant for fae in media as William Shakespeare receives his cultural apotheosis during this time which popularized Puck, Titania and Oberon. The revival of Norse mythology brought up dwarves and elves, later inspiring Tolkien. Celtic mythology and folklore, naturally, opens its vast varieties of fairy people into the minds of enthusiasts and become more well-known in the later Victorian period. The Middle East lends its lore of Djinn to the people living west. You can expect to see a story where a character is in a dream with the fairies, possibly caused by opium. Alfred Lord Tennyson was notable for his interest in Arthurian legend. Charles Nodier has made a few stories including a whole novel involving fae, but his popularity is generally kept to the Francophone sphere.

I have a particular soft spot for this period of culture and feel that I probably had one of my human lives back then.

Poetry

Poetry was a predominant form of expression in the Age of Romanticism. After all, poetry tends to be about feelings and Romanticism is all about stirring up indescribable emotional states.

Prose

Relatively recent publication (c. 1860-present)

These series can make their way to all different media, but the foundation is in literature and will be described here.

The earlier part of the modern period experienced a golden age of children's literature involving magical worlds, including the seminal Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865, with Through the Looking Glass coming out in 1871) and a particularly fertile period around the turn of the century, including L. Frank Baum's series The Wizard of Oz (1900). With magical worlds and children fairies would naturally make their way in. Medieval fantasy and specifically "Tolkienesque" work warrants its own section, and was mostly made between the eighties and the early 2000s. Later on urban fantasy becomes popular, and in the 2010s traditional tales "with a twist" become a trend (usually meaning it is edgier or the scope is more epic). Eventually as time goes on there is more likely to be a female main character and/or feminist perspective.

By the 2010s an underground trend that slowly, steadily gains traction is of devoted pagans, incarnate fae and/or believers in fae making deeply personal fairy fiction alongside nonfiction books concerning fae or spiritual practice. These are often in the urban fantasy genre, and would generally be bought off Amazon.

Juvenile Golden Age (1865-c. 1925)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) kicked off a movement of children's literature which was based on empathy and imagination instead of moralism, while literacy increased and printing became more affordable. Some famous books and series besides Alice in Wonderland include the Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum (1900-1920, the last two books posthumously published), Peter Pan and the increasingly well-known Little Baron Trump series by Ingersoll Lockwood (1887-1893), which is a real-life synchronicity riddle. I am not including Pinocchio (Carlo Colloti, 1883) due to its obvious moralism, but that story came from this period as well. Many prominent fairy artists drew illustrations for these books. This literary movement's focus on fae was well underway even before the Cottingley Fairies event in 1917. Originals can be very rare and valuable. Consider reading them for your kid(s) if you are a parent.

Medieval Fantasy

Foundational Fantasy

These books are the codifiers of the modern fantasy genre and set tropes which dominate depictions of the fair folk to this day, particularly elves and dwarves. Tolkien's Middle Earth is so influential that works particularly under his influence are a subgenre in itself. The fantastical elements themselves could be said to have been stirred up earlier by Gothic literature in the Romantic period, but back then the works would more likely feature demons and vampires. Bear in mind that the legends of King Arthur are still very relevant for fae literature in the modern period as well.

Modern Medieval Fantasy

Modern medieval fantasy was really kicked off by hippies who got into Lord of the Rings. They even had their own proto-meme ("Frodo lives!"). A very popular type of modern medieval fantasy is called Tolkienesque.

There is a noticeable uptick in fantasy publications after the popularization of the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying system. Influenced by LOTR and first published in 1974 under the inspiration of the miniature game Chainmail, it soon took off in the eighties. It is not uncommon for series to simply play out the world or entire campaign of a group of players using this system. The momemtum for fantasy was kept up by Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies (made in the nineties and released as a trilogy between 2001 and 2003), which spared little expense and swept the Academy Awards.

This genre is considered part of a more general category called speculative fiction which includes other large sub-genres, the most well-known being science fiction, horror and the 'punks but also with more niche ones such as slipstream, bizarro fiction and two-fisted tales. This type of fiction focuses on the setting and what a world or society could be like, sometimes even losing the focus on fundamental themes such as gained wisdom and romance. Speculative fiction has a rich body of older literature from pulp magazines, called pulp fiction. It is common for fantasy writers to publish fiction in other sub-categories of the speculative genre.

Arthurian fantasy is still around, but often with a feminist perspective. Marion Zimmer Bradley popularized this with The Mists of Avalon in the eighties.

Judith Tarr released a series with a male fae lead in the eighties, The Hound and the Falcon. Sarah J. Maas later created notably popular series with female fae leads, starting at the beginning of the Convergence Era (2012).

General
Tolkienesque :

Works based in Dungeons & Dragons are usually Tolkienesque given Tolkien's influence on D&D which makes his work sort of like a conceptual grandfather.

Arthurian

Urban Fantasy/Elfpunk

I am marking urban fantasy/elfpunk as a setting between anything equivalent to or inspired by the Age of Reason (c. 1650) up to the present day.

Urban fantasy does not have to be in a city per se, however it should be admitted that having a rural setting makes the term jarring and perhaps apt for replacement one day. Elfpunk is hardly distinguishable from urban fantasy if it strictly has fairies, although a punk genre isn't really itself without being subversive, low living and/or cynical so this word might have limited use for us. These started getting more popular in the eighties. The scope of these books tends to be smaller, although there may be a more epic scope in the Otherworld. There is often mystery. A Victorian setting is far more likely to have vampires and werewolves instead, so there is not very much fae media involving the setting. Holly Black is a prolific writer in this genre whose books are about fae. Sarah J. Maas has Works such as American Gods and the Percy Jackson series are incredibly popular.

Many of the series in the early 2000s have female main characters who could be considered edgy and/or there is a love interest character that wants her dead at first. This was probably a sign of the times when emo culture and Twilight was in, or earlier when we had Marilyn Manson and edgy Square Enix villains (not to mention Shadow the Hedgehog). These stories further trailblazed for mainstream series with female protagonists. However, if those types of characters were portrayed now one could expect a skeptical feminist perspective to be heard that the character is acting like a guy in a girl's body, not to mention being in an abusive relationship if the love interest wants her dead.

The awakening stories are often found in the urban fantasy genre, and tend to be made more recently.

Written Fairy Tales

Children's fairy tales continue to be made in contemporary times, often published by the Scholastic company. Now one can find erotic fairy tales as well.

Poetry

Other (Notable allusions, snippets etc.)

Comics, Graphic Novels, Manga and Light Novels

Manga and Light Novels

Manga tends to be dominated by youkai lore, and the shows which feature them often have a Shinto theme. There are shows with more Western fae, though. I would be remiss to not include the distinction between manga and light novels, although my pathos for the separation is limited.

American & British

American comics with fae are dominated in popularity by works written by Neil Gaiman.

Franco-Belgian

Medievalism can be heavy in the Franco-Belgian scene.

Comics from Other Regions

Webcomics

Other

Magazines and Journals

Live Action Movies

Live-action Television

Anime (Original adaptations)

Western Animation

Animation of the U.S.S.R., Russian Federation and former territories and vassals

Music

Video Games

Tabletop

RPGs

Tabletop RPGs constitute a revolutionary blend of storytelling, roleplaying and gaming which became popularized in the eighties with Dungeons & Dragons and has diversified since. The original way to play these is in person with paper and pencil as well as paraphernalia such as dice and miniatures. However, one can easily find a group to play with online now. Most commonly there is a dungeon master (otherwise known as game master, DM or GM) who may have created the setting and story and who manages the game while acting as a narrator. The other people are players who roleplay as characters. The books for these systems are often divided between rule books and campaign settings. Take note that many of these are specifically rules systems which can create campaigns that harbor races of all kinds. Eventually a new type of roleplaying based on real life acting emerged called Live Action Roleplay, otherwise known as LARPing.

Traditional Games

Arts and Crafts

Notable Fairy Artists

Notable Art Collections

Theater

Radio (yes)

Other


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