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"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows."
Henry Ward Beecher

They're dark. They sound ominous. They'll eat just about anything they can find, including dead bodies on the battlefield or corpses hanging from the gallows.

Corvids (crows, ravens and jays) are serious--and seriously creepy--wherever they show up. (Except for the Idiot Crows.) In most of their fictional appearances, they are the go-to scary bird (at least when vultures aren't available), and are traditionally associated with death in some mythologies and cultures.

A group of crows is a murder; a group of ravens is an unkindness or conspiracy (and rooks are a building, jackdaws are a clattering)[1].

On the other hand, corvids are also very clever. This is Truth in Television, as the Beecher quote shows. They may feature a crow as the Deadpan Snarker or the Trickster Mentor. While crows and ravens are genuinely capable of speech in Real Life, their speaking voices are almost cartoonish, sounding nothing like the harsh voice of their cawing.

Because they are so visually similar, in many visual media it can be hard to tell whether the bird in question is meant to be a raven or a crow (note that some Old World crows are gray with black head and wings; in Eastern Europe, where this subspecies is ubiquitous, no troubles exist telling ravens from crows). There is little if any difference in how they are treated; however, ravens are more likely to cross over into Big Badass Bird of Prey territory)[2]. They'll often have the behavior of a crow, but be called "ravens" because the word "raven" sounds more badass.

Corvids suffer from a strange sort of form of the Conservation of Ninjitsu. A single crow will probably be intelligent (and, if one of the bad guys, will also take an unnerving interest in the heroes). On the other hand, a whole murder of crows/congress of ravens will just be mindless animals possibly under control of something or someone external. Of course, the significance of various numbers of corvids is the subject of some Older Than Feudalism superstitions. Sometimes corvids are shown more-or-less positively (although ravens are usually (but not always) more likely to be heroic characters than crows), and in this case their traditional characteristics are portrayed in a better light. Heroic ravens are often wise or intelligent characters, while crows tend to be friendly tricksters or Plucky Comic Relief.

On the other hand, crows (never ravens) are a staple of The Golden Age of Animation, appearing in countless funny cartoon shorts set on family farms, where their role is to drive farmers nuts gobbling up their corn crops. Cartoon crows are always played for humor and aren't the slightest bit scary, though they can certainly be annoying to the farmers (and the occasional living scarecrow). They tend to be Screwy Squirrel tricksters.

Crows and ravens tend to fall under the Trickster Archetype. What Measure Is a Non-Cute? is a matter of some disagreement. For more creepy birds, see Feathered Fiend, but also see the note on scavengers in Carnivore Confusion. See One for Sorrow, Two For Joy for magpies, closely related both in Real Life and in tropes. For black feathers used as symbolism, see Feather Motif.

Shout Outs to Edgar Allan Poe are so commonplace as to be cliche.

Examples of Ravens and Crows include:


Anime and Manga

  • Uchiha Itachi in Naruto uses crows as part of his genjutsu.
    • Not to mention the infamous "Murder of Crows" jutsu, which is officially named the "Scattering One Thousand Crows Technique." It is, basically, what the official title suggests. Its user, Aoba Yamashiro, is said by fans to have scared two members of Akatsuki into running away with this technique, though it's more likely that there were reinforcements arriving and they were going to leave soon anyway. There are also a variety of other crow-related techniques used by various characters, and one of Kankuro's puppets is called "Crow."
  • The STNJ ( Witch Hunter Robin ) are headquartered in Raven's Flat, and crows and ravens are featured heavily in the series.
  • The main antagonist of Princess Tutu is a monster raven.
    • And his 'daughter'.
      • And all their Mooks.
      • He also manages to turn the entire town into ravens toward the end of the series. This was considered a bad thing.
        • This is somewhat complicated in the ADV dub, where they use the words raven and crow more-or-less interchangeably (because the Japanese word karasu is used for both). They're pretty consistent for the Monster Raven, but everything else varies from line to line.
  • Rei Hino from Sailor Moon, aka Sailor Mars, has a pair of crows named Phobos and Deimos (Named for the Moons of Mars) Let's just say they aren't ordinary crows... They're shapeshifting aliens from the planet Coronis whose job is is to protect Sailor Mars. They aren't this in the anime and only appear briefly and aren't named at all in the live action.
  • Tatsunoko's Karas movie series depicts a crow warrior as the main character (karasu is Japanese for crow).
  • Setsuna Sakurazaki in Mahou Sensei Negima is a crow half-demon, though she was born with albinism, which caused her to get cast out of her tribe since white crows are seen as a bad omen. This shows up as angelic white wings that sprout from her back.
  • Crows frequently appear when something is about to go bad in Paranoia Agent.
    • Which is all the time.
  • Bad Bird & the Ninja Crows (or Karamaru & the Karasu Clan, if you prefer) of Samurai Pizza Cats fame.
  • The 1st Patlabor movie has a memorable scene involving Noah being menaced by a room full of sinister-looking, possibly mind-controlled crows in a Shout-Out to Hitchcock's The Birds.
    • Birds, especially corvids, also show up in numerous pivotal scenes of the second movie, as well. Director Mamoru Oshii seems to be using them as a visual motif for the schemes of criminal masterminds who try to put themselves above the common people with their manipulative games: E.Hoba in the first movie & Tsuge in the second.
  • Toto, from The Cat Returns, is a stone statue shaped like a crow that is able to come to life. He enjoys pestering and insulting Muta, but is good friends with the Baron and very sweet when talking to Haru. He and his crow friends also play an important role at the end of the movie by preventing the rest of the gang from falling to their deaths.
  • Don't forget the crows in Haibane Renmei!
    • Remarkable for being a quite benign example, the crows bridge the line between Glie and the outside world, and one acts indirectly as a spiritual guide for Rakka, and is implied to be some reincarnated loved one.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, Vicious seems to have some sort of pet raven than spends a great deal of time perched on his shoulder, complete with ominous flapping and crowing whenever he kills someone.
    • Actually, that's a cormorant.
  • Serial Experiments Lain's intro song features a murder of crows perched all over the streets Lain frequents. Around the end, the camera focuses on a single crow.
  • Subverted in Plus Anima. The main characters are all people with the ability to take on animal attributes, with the protagonist being a crow boy. However, far from being creepy or evil, he's an adorable Cheerful Child.
  • In the Korean Manhwa Ragnarok there's Muninn and Huginn, Odin's beholders. They are able to shapeshift from crows with necklaces of eyes and fangs into human women.
  • Ghost in the Shell uses these as a metaphor for individuality: when Batou is debating Goda on how a Stand-Alone Complex can be used to unite the people, we see an albino crow flying amongst a murder of regular crows.
  • There's a lovely example of this in the first ending for Death Note. Light is standing by water, surrounded by doves -- except that his reflection is surrounded by crows instead.
  • A three-eyed crow demon is one of the first enemies that Inuyasha and Kagome encounter.
  • Nii Jianyi of Saiyuki is often associated with crows when bunnies aren't available. Goes double for his time as Kenyuu/Ukoku. His section of the Burial arc is full of corvids.
  • A solitary crow often appears alongside Black in Tekkon Kinkreet, and in the Mind Screw-fueled climax a single dove being overtaken by crows is used to symbolize Black's mind being overtaken by the Minotaur.
  • Yu Yu Hakusho has Karasu, a fighter in all black that claims he likes to kill the things he loves. This is about the only time in the series Kurama gets scared shitless.
  • In Wild Wind, Sukari is a shape-shifting messenger crow and has the personality to match.
  • Satan has a pet crow named Malpha in Akuma na Eros, and can give it a human form.
  • Sebastian of Black Butler is either a crow or a raven, the writers never quite tell us.
  • Crow in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's plays a deck of Blackwings, Dark-attribute monsters that evoke this. Dark Is Not Evil though, and he's a good guy who's a Friend to All Children.
  • Crowmon / Yatagaramon in Digimon Data Squad. is a Heel Face Turned hero.
  • Although the corvids in Kiki's Delivery Service attack Kiki at first, she later learns from Ursula that they are tame.

Ballads

  • Child Ballad 26 "The Three Ravens" features three ravens discussing dinner. They mention a dead knight, but his body is being protected by his hawk and his hounds, and his true love comes to bury him and die of grief. It has a much more cynical variant, "The Twa Corbies", where the ravens instead discuss how the dead knight's hawk, hound, and lady have all deserted him, so they can eat his corpse.

Comics

  • Another Neil Gaiman example: Matthew in The Sandman.
    • Somewhat of a subversion of the usual, though, as Matthew is friendly, not a trickster (though a bit of a wise guy), pleasant and the most loyal guy in the Dreaming.
    • As noted above, Poe shoutouts are common. This is subverted when Matthew gets on top of a bust to shout "Nevermore!", only to say that he took it from "Peter Lorre in that Roger Corman movie", not knowing that the movie is an adaptation of Poe's The Raven.
  • Scrooge McDuck's Arch Enemy Magica de Spell had a pet raven. Who is actually her enchanted brother. Yeah...
    • Only under one writer. Most of the time her pet raven is just a raven, and it depends on the writer whether he's a Talking Animal, or just a relatively ordinary representative of the Corvidae.
  • Nestor, José Carioca's friend from the Zé Carioca series.
  • Raven from Teen Titans (and its animated spinoff). She's a Dark Is Not Evil hero (when not being possessed or mind-controlled by her Eldritch Abomination father) whose magical powers often use a corvid motif.
  • Hans Huckebein, the unlucky raven, is the main character of a story by Wilhelm Busch. While not overtly sinister, he is a malicious, destructive prankster who dies by hanging at the end of the story.
  • Merlin from Dracula vs. King Arthur has this motif, including a pet raven by his side.

Fairy Tales

Fan Fiction

  • Alexandra Quick plays with this. The wizarding world plays it straight by associating ravens and crows with dark wizards and witches. Alexandra picks a raven as a familar, both to screw with people's expectations of her and to say bullocks to the conventions. Said familar, Charlie, subverts the trope. Jury's still out on whether Abraham Thorn's association with them is a subversion or a straight example.
  • In the fanfic Dark Secrets, Evil!Ron uses a raven to spy on Jaiden Spencer and Draco Malfoy for him.

Film

  • James O'Barr's The Crow, both the film and the graphic novel version, has the bird as a kind of guide and familiar to the undead avenger protagonist. In the film version, if the crow dies the avenger becomes mortal again, but doesn't lose his other powers.
  • Jake from The Shawshank Redemption.
  • They're also pretty remarkable in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
  • Crows appear to be one of the few types of animal who can visit the Land of the Dead while still alive in Corpse Bride. Both times Victor is pulled down to the Land of the Dead by Emily, they're surrounded by a flock of them. Crows also live in Elder Gutknecht's tower -- he uses their feathers and eggs for magical purposes.
  • In We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, the Big Bad is eaten alive by crows.
  • The eponymous bird in Roger Corman's The Raven is a involuntarily shape-shifted wizard.
  • In the movie of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban the scene of Buckbeak's execution has crows all over the area being just as sinister as they can be.
    • However, a less malevolent raven appears with a student at the end of the last film, suggesting that wizards keep them as pets.
  • In the new Sherlock Holmes, Lord Blackwood, whose father notes at one point has been followed by death his entire life, is also followed by a rather sinister black bird.
  • In The Matrix: Reloaded, Agent Smith's arrival is heralded by a flock of crows. This is done because in older, superstitious cultures, crows showing up was considered to be a sign that something bad was on the way.
  • In The Secret of NIMH, the crows are the Designated Comic Relief Species.
  • The crows in Dumbo are at first derisive, then helpful (the Magic Feather was their idea).
    • And racial stereotypes (however- note the Crows here are more helpful than Owl *EVER* is to Pooh... so racist but still useful?)
      • Corvids are mimics. Blame the guys in the circus, not the birds.
      • Note that since they're the ones who come up with the "magic feather" idea that gives Dumbo the confidence to fly, they also count as Magical Negroes.
  • Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty has a pet raven that appears to be the only thing she trusts or cares about.
    • It's also her only competent henchman, apparently.
  • Ravens serve as the heralds of doom in The Secret of Kells for both Vikings and Crom Cruach.
  • Hugin and Munin, the pet ravens of Odin, are awesome and they give helpful advice to the main character in the animated movie Valhalla.
  • In The Bird War, the villain is a Feathered Fiend named Fagin, but it is never specified if he is a crow or a raven.
  • In Rango, a crow named Wounded Bird is a parody of the Magical Native American characters that appear in Spaghetti Westerns; however, he helps the title character on several occasions and is shown positively.
  • Like in the book, ravens and crows are generally an ill omen in The Lord of the Rings. The "crebain from Dunland" that Legolas sees near the Misty Mountains are implied to be servants of Saruman.

 Gandalf: The Enemy has many spies ... beasts, and birds ...

  • The evil queen Ravenna in Snow White and the Huntsman uses a corvid motif, and is able to transform into a flock of ravens at will, while her minions change into a murder of crows when killed. However, some magpies serve as Snow White's friends and allies.
  • The witch in Brave has a raven or crow as a familiar.

Literature

  • Subverted in Peter S. Beagle's A Fine And Private Place; a raven helps and cares for the protagonist, Jonathan Rebeck, who lives in a graveyard, giving him food and, later, news.
  • In JRR Tolkien's works, crows are generally in the Forces of Evil. (Also note Theoden's unflattering epithet for Gandalf, "Stormcrow.") Ravens, on the other hand, are friendly and intelligent, exceptionally long-lived, and allied with the dwarves; they helped Bilbo and company in The Hobbit.
    • In the Lay of Leithien, Beren returns to the hiding place of his comrades to find they have all been killed and crows are feasting on their bodies. Then he hears the crows mocking him for arriving too late to save his companions.
  • Ravenclaw House, although intelligence is its defining trait and it is not the most sinister of the Houses.
  • Mat from the Wheel of Time series is based on Odin and acquires a ring with ravens on it late in the series. He also has a Blade on a Stick with an inscription referencing "Thought" and "Memory", the names of Odin's two ravens. In the 11th book he even becomes the Prince of Ravens through marriage. The Dark One uses ravens as spies, and at one point early in the series a huge flock of them is shown patrolling a forest, swarming and completely stripping the flesh from anything that breaks from the cover of the trees.
  • Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass invokes one from Nursery Rhyme, and then it shows up to stop the fight in truth.

 Just then flew down a monstrous crow,

As black as a tar-barrel;

Which frightened both the heroes so,

They quite forgot their quarrel.

    • Speaking of Lewis Carroll: "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?" There is no real answer but Lewis Carroll himself suggested: "Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!"
    • Another answer: "Poe wrote on both."
  • Crows and Ravens both are a significant motif in A Song of Ice and Fire, invoked in the very title A Feast For Crows.
    • However, crows and ravens are not all that mystical in the books, with ravens being used the way carrier pigeons would have been in the real world Middle Ages. Although carrier ravens are significantly more intelligent than carrier pigeons, and are able to talk (or at least repeat phrases like a parrot)...
      • The Three-Eyed Crow, however, is.
      • Real-life ravens are among the most intelligent birds with reasoning abilities close to great apes, and are indeed able to learn to mimic speech. They would be useless as carrier birds however, since they lack the pidgeons' homing instinct.
    • The men of the Night's Watch are disparagingly called "crows."
  • Due to the presence of Odin in the story, there are some in Douglas Adams' novel The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul.
  • Quoth the Raven in various Discworld novels. He isn't mean, but he isn't wise either -- really, he's just hungry.
    • And he does not say the N word!
      • It is mentioned offhand that ravens used to be the patron bird of Blind Io due to their intelligence. Ravens seem to have an obsession for eating eyeballs (if Quoth is any indication). Consider the fact that Blind Io has dozens of disembodied eyeballs floating around him, and one sees why ravens are no longer his patron bird.
    • Small Gods revealed that this trope's members have an even more disreputable Klatchian relative, the scalbie, which resembles a crow that's caught mange and is too lazy to fly. Scalbies will eat things that make a vulture sick. Scalbies would eat vulture sick. Scalbies eat anything.
  • The seventh book in A Series of Unfortunate Events takes place in a small village that's just overrun with crows. Later books mention or imply that V.F.D. uses them as messenger birds.
  • One For Sorrow, the Lovable Rogue magpie from The Wild Road. His name pretty much foreshadows what happens to him * sniff* .
  • Subverted in CS Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, in which corvids are for the most part benevolent or jokers at worst. The wise raven Sallowpad served as a royal advisor for the Pevensies, as shown in The Horse and His Boy, while a pair of jackdaws are comic relief in The Magicians Nephew.
  • Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell: John Usglass, the magician-king of Scotland and northern England, is known as the Raven King.
  • Animal Farm has Moses the raven, who is something of a Trickster Archetype. Like all the animals, he has a Meaningful Name: he represents the Orthodox Church that was banned, then revived in communist Russia.
  • In The Crow Chronicles by Ranjit Lal, a white crow named Shri Katarnak Kala Kaloota Kawa Kaw Kaw is an Evil Overlord. His lieutenant is Depraven Craven Raven.
  • Mattimeo features General Ironbeak, the raven leader of a flock of other Always Chaotic Evil birds that attack Redwall Abbey. His second-in-command is a crow seer. Weirdly, they are the only birds of prey in the series who are very definitely villains.
    • Seventeen books later, Doomwyte features an evil corvid cult that lives underground, including ravens, crows, and magpies. They are led by a raven named Korvus Skurr.
  • Subverted in The Chronicles of Prydain with Kaw the crow, who, although talkative and mischievous, is an ally of the good guys. Kaw starts out as the Team Pet, though he later becomes a real hero.
  • Neil Gaiman has the goddess Bird in Anansi Boys portrayed as ravenlike.
    • American Gods features Odin as an important character who, at one point, sends a raven to guide the protagonist, Shadow. The raven is able to repeatedly speak the name of the town where Shadow is supposed to go next, and nothing else... until Shadow tries to coax it into saying "nevermore", at which point it replies "fuck you" and flies away.
  • Jim Butcher's Codex Alera series uses crows as a symbol of death and battle constantly. "Crows" is also commonly used as a swear word, likely for the same reason. They are not considered very clever, though.
    • People are quite accustomed to them appearing on a battlefield to feast on the dead. A bit too accustomed, when the Vord hide their Marionette Masters in a murder of crows.
    • In Cursor's Fury, when the flag of one of Tavi's units is charred and resembles a crow, the soldiers embrace it, becoming the "Battlecrows", so that their foes know the crows are coming for them.
  • In The Edge Chronicles, white ravens are often feared as omens of death. For the most part they are voracious, scrawny scavengers, but at least two white ravens are shown as relatively friendlier and can speak due to being taught by sapient creatures.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell At Sealey Head, once Emma opens a door to find Princess Ysabo surrounded by a dozen crows. This proves to be part of a ritual which Princess Ysabo is bound to. And in the end, they proved to be transformed knights.
  • In Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke, the main villain, Nettlebrand, employs flocks of red-eyed ravens as Mooks. It turns out that these ravens aren't real ravens at all, but enchanted crabs.
  • Huge flocks of reanimated crows called Gore Crows feature in Garth Nix's The Old Kingdom. An entire flock is animated by a single Dead spirit and acts with a singular purpose. On top of it all, being reanimated doesn't mean they've stopped decomposing.
  • Corvids are a slightly unusual pick for Tayledras Bondbirds in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books (most choose various falcons and hawks). Ravens are known for being huge even by bondbird standards (which are invariably larger than their unmagical counterparts) and among the most intelligent birds, able to compete with humans. Crows are known as tricksters, and unusually gregarious- Tayledras who choose to bond with them often bond with an entire flock instead of the normal single bird.
  • One of Haruki Murakami's books, Kafka on the Shore, features a teenager who gets occasional pep talks from his Imaginary Friend, Crow. Exactly what Crow is, and whether he's real or not, can be rather unclear to readers.
    • Of note here is that Kafka actually means crow, in addition to being a reference to Franz.
  • Mordred, the demon son of Roland in The Dark Tower, commands the crows at the castle of the Crimson King. Cue Eye Scream for the one person unlucky enough to meet him.
  • Charles de Lint's Newford series has the Crow Girls. The series is heavily influenced by Native American Mythology, so it doesn't have quite the same connotations as many of the others listed on this page; they're trickster-ish, but mostly just playful young girls (ambiguously aged). There's also Jack Daw and a few other characters who fall into this bird type.
  • The Trickster books by Tamora Pierce feature a flock of crows. They're portrayed as very intelligent and curious birds, and they help the main character as part of a bargain with their god. They are considered by the people as 'brothers', and can, literally, change into human form, which comes in handy when the good guys are outnumbered during an assault. One even chooses to remain in his human form, and becomes the Hero's Love Interest.
  • The Nicholas Flamel series has Morrigan the Crow Goddess, who, during her first appearance, sends an entire army of birds after the heroes.
  • In His Dark Materials, the school master has a raven for a daemon. John Faa in turn has a crow, and later Mary Malone's daemon turns out to be an alpine chough.
  • Stephen Bauer's fantasy novel Satyrday centers on the attempts of the protagonists - an orphaned boy, the satyr who raised him, a fox-spirit, and a sympathetic raven named Deirdre - to combat a malevolent owl and his plot to kidnap the Moon (who is a character in her own right). The owl has forced vast numbers of ravens to serve him, with some of them "Just Following Orders" a bit too enthusiastically, while others question the owl's regime. Deirdre is interested in persuading the other ravens to abandon the owl.
  • Dan Abnett's Ravenor and Ravenor Returned have the sheen birds, mechanical birds that were created to live in a city where the pollution would kill most unprotected wildlife. They work for the Unkindness, controlled by heretics to perform assassinations almost like a force of nature, using their collective sharp-edges wings to strip victims down to their bloody bones.
  • Ravens are a constant motif in the books of Elaine Cunningham. In the Forgotten Realms novels they are everywhere, from Liriel's representation in a prophetic vision (and later nickname) to a named character. Shopscat, a pet raven of Curious Past shop (Thornhold), is able to say several meaningful phrases and has discouraged many a thief with his sharp beak.

  Shopscat: Think about it.

  • In The Dark Is Rising, rooks (a corvid relative) are the agents of the Dark and appear at various points either as spies, harbingers of doom, actual receptacles of evil (the attack on the church on Christmas comes to mind), or simply to look ominous. There is some confusion as to whether they are genuinely wicked or merely misled and controlled by the villains; most of the time they seem rather mindless, and never do they cause any outright harm, but Merriman later says that they "chose to aid the Dark" or words to that effect, a choice they regretted when the Wild Hunt harried them to the ends of the earth. In any event, after book two the rooks are never shown to cause any problems again, whether they were freed from Mind Control or simply learned their lessons and decided to stay neutral from then on.
  • Crows appear in "The Vile Village". The town is called VFD which stands for "Village of Fowl Devotees". They've infested the town, a la The Birds, but no one seems to mind.
  • In the Keep of Time: Before the children go to the past, a dark omen of sorts occurs in the form of a starving black bird trapped in the tower, and it falls to its death after they startle it from a window ledge. Later, when the children are returning to the present, another such bird swoops down on them right as they are turning the key.
  • In Robert E. Howard's The Hour of the Dragon, Conan the Barbarian's escape is plagued by a crow.
  • Subverted in The Crows of Pearblossom, a children's book by Aldous Huxley (yes, that Aldous Huxley). The main protagonist is a perfectly agreeable mother crow trying to protect her eggs from a rattlesnake.
  • In Feather And Bone: The Crow Chronicles, crows are the protagonistic species and live in strictly organized groups, with their own culture and folklore.
  • Corvids in general, especially magpies and crows, are the resident Always Chaotic Evil species in the fantasy novel One For Sorrow, Two For Joy, in which they are mostly portrayed as either stupid, sadistic, or Ax Crazy and kill smaller birds for fun.
  • In Half World, crows are friendly to the protagonist and are able to act as a living passageway between the worlds of the living and the dead, eventually helping her fight the Big Bad.
  • The narrator of the Raven Mysteries by Marcus Sedgwick is a old raven named Edgar, who is the Old Retainer for the mostly Dark Is Not Evil Otherhand family. While he is rather grouchy and a Deadpan Snarker, Edgar is apparently one of the smarter characters, usually helping the family's children solve mysteries.
  • In Stuck At The Wheel, the gang led by The Shadow is named the Crows and their calling card is a black crow feather.
  • In Krabat, the boys are turned into ravens when they get lessons in (dark) magic.
  • In Guardians of ga Hoole, crows are more antagonistic than the benevolent and helpful ravens, although both are willing to help the owls in the battle during the last book.
  • The title character of Charles Dickens' Barnaby Rudge has a pet raven, Grip, who repeats his words back. Yes, they are known to do this.
  • Subverted in Welkin Weasels - ravens are mentioned as being the most honorable of birds, while doves are the most treacherous.
  • At the end of Nancy Springer's novel I Am Mordred, Mordred, who is treated sympathetically, is transformed into a raven to rejoin King Arthur after death.
  • In Sea of Trolls, the Bard is magically changed into a crow, is nicknamed Bold Heart, and becomes the Team Pet until he changes back at the end of the book.

Live Action TV

  • The eponymous host of the children's fantasy game show, Raven (who is actually a metamorph rather than a bona fide bird), is a subversion of the norm in terms of personality - he's a pretty nice guy, who's probably supposed to be more Stern Teacher and Mr. Exposition than anything else. He was also, apparently, an immortal Celtic warlord which fits the trope somewhat closer.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Data dreams of a raven who leads him to Dr. Soong, who built him.
    • It's revealed in a different episode that Dr. Soong liked dinosaurs, which suggests the raven might also be an android. (Because dinosaurs = Badass birds...)
    • Rather Birds = Badass Dinosaurs.
    • In Star Trek: Voyager, Seven of Nine also dreams of a raven; in this case it's because her family's ship (upon which she had been assimilated) was called the Raven.
  • Six Feet Under. Ravens never appeared in the actual show but the season trailers, DVD boxarts and the (awesome) opening sequence frequently featured a raven to symbolize the show's close connection to "death". The trailer for the fifth season had a shot of the raven dead as a means of Foreshadowing the Deadly Distant Finale.
  • In the episode of Deadliest Catch that has Captain Phil going to the hospital because of a stroke, there was a raven just sitting on the Cornelia Marie.
  • When Christopher Moltesante becomes a made man in The Sopranos a raven (or crow) appears in a window as the ceremony is taking place. Chris and his girlfriend later argue about the good or bad luck portents associated with seeing a crow or raven.
  • The Stand: Flagg is represented by a raven many times in the miniseries, although allusions are made in the novel.

Music

  • In the mythology of the Insane Clown Posse, corvids are a means by which the dead watch and act upon the world of the living.
  • "Ravens" by Ultima Thule.
    • See also a fan clip with video part from Crow.
  • Crows appear as a motif in a lot of the Gorillaz artwork, and the song "O Green World" features one squawking over the instrumentals.
  • The song "Crows" by The Gothic Archies, which was written for the audiobook of The Vile Village.

Mythology

  • Odin had two ravens as companions. Their names, Hugin and Munin, suggest that they are his literal Thought and Memory. He sends them out all over the world each day to reconnoiter, and then they sit on his shoulders and tell him what they have seen.
  • In Ovid's Metamorphoses when Neptune chases Cornix, Athena turns her into a crow. Unusually in Greek Mythology, this actually enables her to get away.
  • The Japanese Tengu, half-man, half-crow monsters that were telepathic martial artist tricksters.
  • Raven is one of many trickster heroes in Native American mythology.
    • In more than one case, the raven is actually the creator of the universe.
      • The crow has a similar role in Australian Aboriginal mythology.
  • Frederick Barbarossa is asleep in a mountain until the ravens stop flying about it; he wakes every now and again, long enough to send a boy to check for them.
  • There's a story that says that the if the Tower of London's famous ravens ever leave it, the Tower will crumble and the kingdom will fall. After two major disasters struck London in as many years, the king decided he didn't want to find out if bad luck really comes in threes, so he had several ravens' wings clipped to make sure they'd never leave.
    • Important to note that all but one raven died during World War Two, they restocked the tower after the war with new ravens...
      • Not so important to note -- The King was told at one point that Ravens were disturbing a scientist's work, and that they must be killed. Of course, that meant bad luck, so the King reached a small compromise - he got rid of all but 7. Since then, there are always meant to be 7 ravens in the tower grounds. They do, however, keep a few extra so they can easily get another if one dies.
      • Which is also where the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time comes from--the ravens were disrupting the Royal Observatory at the Tower, and rather than take the risk of getting rid of the ravens, Charles II moved the observatory to Greenwich.
  • In Japanese mythology, Yatagarasu is a three legged crow with three magatamas (no, not that magatama) who reports to the Sun goddess Amaterasu (yes, that Amaterasu; they're the same being).
    • As of Ace Attorney Investigations? Yes, that magatama.
    • The three-legged crow of the sun is the counterpart to the rabbit of the moon in most Asian mythology.
  • Two Celtic goddesses of war, the Morrigan and the Badb, took the form of a crow or raven to watch over battlefields. The Morrigan, in crow form, was present at the death of Cú Chulainn, who she had a complicated relationship with.
  • The 'Alala was occasionally kept by Hawaiian priests to translate the speech of the Land Snail and other spiritual creatures into human language so that the wishes of the natural world and the gods may be better known.
  • In Hindu mythology, the mount of the Navagraha Shani is a raven or vulture.
  • Similarly to the Book of Genesis, Utnapishtim of The Epic of Gilgamesh sends a raven and a dove to search for land. The raven does not come back, causing Utnapishtim to realize that it found a place to rest.
  • In Chinese Mythology, there were once ten suns, each inhabited by a crow. When all ten suns rose at once, the archer Houyi shot nine of the ten crows to prevent the world from burning up.
  • In one of Aesop's Fables, a crow fills a pitcher with pebbles to reach water, a behaviour which has been observed in real life. In contrast, jackdaws (crow relatives), are usually foolish characters, and occasionally crows are, too (as in The Fox and the Crow).
  • In some stories, King Arthur was reborn as a raven after his death.

Opera

Poetry

Professional Wrestling

  • Raven (real name: Scott Levy).
  • Sting's "black with white facepaint" attire is nicknamed "Crow Sting" by fans.

Religion

  • In The Bible, ravens get several mentions, mostly in the Old Testament:
    • A raven was one of the first birds released from Noah's Ark. Unlike the doves, the raven remained in the wilderness until the land dried up enough.
    • The book of Leviticus--which consists of laws and priestly codes--forbade eating ravens as they were considered unclean.
    • In the book of Job, God asks Job if he knows who feeds the raven when its young are starving--as part of a longer monologue about God's place in the world. This is echoed in one of the Psalms, and Jesus also references this in Luke's gospel.
    • In the book of Kings, ravens brought food for Elijah during his time in the Kerith Ravine.
  • Ravens are associated with some saints, such as Saint Benedict of Nursia and Saint Vincent of Saragossa.
  • In the Qur'an's Sura Al-Ma'ida, a raven teaches Cain how to bury his brother.

Sports

  • The Baltimore Ravens of the NFL. As stated in the film Finding Forrester, they're the only team with literary roots. Unsurprisingly, instead of just one mascot, they have a trio--named Edgar, Allan, and Poe.
  • The Adelaide Crows in Australian Rules Football - ironic, considering that Adelaide is the capital of South Australia, whose inhabitants are nicknamed "croweaters".
    • The Australian Magpie is technically part of the shrike family rather than the corvid family, but the Collingwood Magpies probably qualify anyway.
  • The European Magpie is part of the corvid family, so Newcastle United deserve a mention, as their distinctive vertical black-and white striped logo and home colours mean they're sometimes referred to as "The Magpies". This has fallen out of favour these days, however, and their semi-official nickname is simply "The Toon".

Tabletop Games

  • The RPG Exalted has a Call a Rabbit a Smeerp variation of the raven called a "raiton" that almost always means trouble if you hear their cries; they live in death-tainted areas called Shadowlands and are generally the picture of ominousness.
  • In Warhammer 40000 two Space Marine Chapters named themselves after ravens: the Raven Guard, noted for their use of tactics rather than straight brute force, and the Blood Ravens, who value and seek out knowledge.
  • In the Old World of Darkness there was a shapechanger race called Corax who were raven based and the communcations system of Gaia.
    • Who, incidentally, did NOT take well to being confused with crows...
  • A raven is the symbol of Morr, the god of death and dreams in Warhammer.
    • Tzeentch, the Chaos God of knowledge, magic, and intricate scheming, is sometimes referred to as the Raven God. In Warhammer Online the Tzeentch-aligned Chaos warcamps usually have a dozen or so ravens either flying around or perched on gibbets, and caster wargear often incorporates a bird skull motif to creepy effect.
  • Dungeons and Dragons.
  • Points of Light, the intentionally vague default setting of the 4th edition, has The Raven Queen as the goddess of death, who is, as her name implies, heavily associated with various corvids. Interestingly, she is not evil, but True Neutral. Death comes equally to everyone, after all.
  • Pathfinder has tengu as somewhere between kenku-expys and their original inspiration. Complete with a feat that allows them to appear as humans with unusually big noses, even.
    • There's also a spell called "Blood Crow Strike," which creates energy blasts in the shape of fiery crows. Perhaps predictably, it has the evil descriptor.
    • There are at least two sorts of psychopomp (the servants of Pharasma, another True Neutral death goddess) that look, or can look, corvid: The huge, powerful yamarajes appear part raven and part dragon, and the tiny nosoi often resemble crows.


Theme Parks

  • A raven shows up multiple times in The Haunted Mansion. Originally, it was going to be the ride's narrator, a role that eventually went to The Ghost Host.
  • In Dollywood, a ride called the Mystery Mine features ravens throughout the ride, appearing most prominently at the ride's steepest hill and drop.


Video Games

  • Vulcan Raven from Metal Gear Solid.
    • And his successor, Raging Raven, who actually looks vaguely like a raven.
    • Literal ravens and crows also appear in both games (all on Shadow Moses Island). It is also implied in Metal Gear Solid that Vulcan Raven's presence on Shadow Moses Island also resulted in the raven/crow population increasing on the base.
  • Murkrow and its evolution Honchcrow in Pokémon.
    • Their behavior in the anime can best be summed up in two words: Flying Jerkass. Mostly because one of them is trained by Ash's rival Paul.
  • Raphael Raven in Yoshis Island.
    • The same character makes an appearance in Paper Mario, and he apparently had a change of heart: now Raphael lives peacefully with the Yoshis on Lavalava Island.
    • The ravens in Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door are of varying intelligence, but pretend to be dumb animals when someone else is around.
  • The Phantom Thief Yatagarasu in Ace Attorney Investigations takes its name from the three-footed raven mentioned above. Kay even works it into her 'motto', saying the Yatagarasu is there in darkest night "when no other bird dare fly".
  • Aya Shameimaru in Touhou is a Crow Tengu Paparazzi who publishes a rumor mill tabloid; if not an outright trickster, she's at least clever and annoying. On the other hand, there's also Utsuho Reiuji, a nuclear-powered hell raven who's a bit more... straightforward.
  • One of the bird laguz tribes in Fire Emblem is the raven tribe. As such, trickery is in their nature.
  • Half Life 2. Ravenholm. (In addition to the Nightmare Fuel, it's also full of atmosphere-enhancing crows.)
  • Crows are almost as bad as the Goddamned Bats in Castlevania.
  • Suikoden V has Raven, a Highly-Visible Ninja with real Jerkass tendencies. For bonus points, Oboro and the rest of his Detective Agency prefer calling him by the nickname Crow. Despite his extreme distaste for the nickname, he has a unique rune called the Crow Rune, which allows him to become invisible to his enemies...but only if he's indoors.
  • Soulblighter in Bungie's Myth series of games can turn into a murder of crows.
  • One of Nero Chaos' most used familiars in Tsukihime is his blue crow. There's also a Dead Apostle Ancestor that is half bird and tied to ravens. The other DAA think he's weird and don't like him.
  • The bird-like Morrigi from Sword of the Stars are nicknamed 'crows' by the other species. The expansion pack that introduced them is called A Murder Of Crows.
  • Ominous crows are common sights in The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure, and the evil ghost brothers' surname means "crow" in an old regional dialect. A painting of crows becomes a crucial clue.
  • One recent Nancy Drew game uses a flock of crows as an obstacle. Getting past them requires giving each crow an appropriately-colored trinket to distract it.
  • The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion features Corvus Umbranox, the Grey Fox, leader of the Thieves Guild, and former Count of Anvil. Fellow gets around. He's clever and dark-haired, but has little to do with Ravens and Crows otherwise.
    • That and the fact that his name is Latin for raven, or crow.
    • The Elder Scrolls in general features Nocturnal, the Daedric prince of night, darkness and thieves, who is always seen with a raven on each arm, and likes to appear in a flock of them. Corvus' Grey Fox mask is in fact an artifact of hers.
  • Crows are the original Goddamn Bats of the Resident Evil series and liable to screw your crap up if you get distracted when flocked by them - "It looks like he was killed by a crow or something!" much? In 4, however, they're downgraded to harmless Money Spiders.
  • A recurring enemy in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within was Crowmaster, who was a Ninja Sand Mummy made of ravens what would disperse into its component corvids to move around an area quickly and add platforming into the battle.
  • In Raidou Kuzunoha VS King Abaddon, Raidou serves the Yatagarasu - often depicted as crows, but only in a boss's battle quote is it made explicit ("So the Foxes still serves the crows!")
  • Edgar the Raven, who's more bachelor than doomsayer. The guy really needs to do his laundry, although he wouldn't mind knowing how his favorite sports teams are doing.
  • Every single enemy in Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg is made up of one or more crows. The Big Bad is also a raven.
  • Haer'Dalis in Baldur's Gate II tends to call the protagonist "my raven" for some reason. Possibly due to his/her bloodline as the offspring of the Lord of Murder, Bhaal, which Haer'Dalis - being a doomguard - instinctively senses if not having been told.
    • It should be noted that Haer'Dalis refers to several people with bird-nicknames (he, himself, is "Sparrow").
  • In Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, the Druid can summon a murder of ravens to "peck his enemy's eyes out".
  • Mega Man Star Force, in its third installment, gives us the boss Jack Corvus, the fused form of young Jack and an extraterrestrial planet-destroying criminal, Corvus, who takes the form of a crow and works under Mr. King. After a good portion of the game's progress, Jack is successfully defused, whilst Corvus, who only ever joined up with Jack cause he thought it would be fun, ends up destroyed by Rogue, who was out to kill the remnants of Dealer. Jack was safe as he'd defected moments before.
  • Mega Man X 7 has Wind Crowrang, the spiritual successor to Storm Eagle. He's a fast and agile foe, and one of the harder Mavericks to fight. He's mostly black and gray with yellow trim and highlights (though his beak is black), and his dialogue and fight quotes are riddled with caws.
    • The original series had Tengu Man (Mega Man 8, & Bass).
  • Dragon Age has the Antivan Crows, an organization of assassins, and of which Zevran is a member. Interestingly, most times the player comes to an area teeming with some literal crows, the Antivan variety are not far behind.
  • Crows can be seen in several places in Prototype; pecking at corpses in the intro, flying around infected water towers, and being used by Alex Mercer as building material to regenerate after he failed to Outrun the Fireball.
  • In Soul Calibur, ravens are Tira's theme.
  • Fiddlesticks and Swain from League of Legends. Swain turns into a giant crow beast and has two more Poe-based attacks, and Fiddlesticks, well, three words: Caw Caw Caw.
    • Fiddlesticks has a crow theme going for him, being a scarecrow and all. His Dark Wind ability takes the form of a crow, and his Crowstorm ultimate can ruin an entire team's day when he pops out of the brush with it.
  • Bio Shock Infinite gives us the Murder Vigor which summons a flock of crows, much like the Insect Swarm plasmid in previous games. There's also Songbird, who is both Nightmare Fuel and distinctly crow-like.
  • In fitting with the dreary pseudo-Victorian atmosphere, Gilneas City in World of Warcraft has crows hanging around all over the place. They don't really do anything, though; they're just there for the ambiance.
    • The Last Guardian of Tirisfal, Medivh, used ravens as his familiars. He was also able to take on raven form at will.
    • Druids of the Talon have the raven as their totem animal, and can change into ravens (the Druid Flight Form for the Tauren, Night Elves and Worgen is also a raven). The hippogryph has the head, front legs, wings and tail of a raven and the neck, body, rear legs, and antlers of a stag.
  • In keeping with the series' theme of using birds to denote important locations, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood has crows and ravens flying around towers which are under the Borgia's control.
  • Demons Souls features a giant crow named Sparkly, with whom the player character can trade "sparkly, twinkly" items.
  • The Armored Core 'verse has Ravens, managed by the Raven's Nest. And like a flock of Ravens, they're hired by any Mega Corp that can afford them to cause collateral damage (even terrorists can hire you to test out their new gear). And guess what? Your character WORKS for these guys!


Web Comics


Web Original


Western Animation

 Marge Simpson: I don't want a flock of crows in our bedroom!

Homer Simpson: It's a murder, honey. A group of crows is called a murder.


Real Life

  • Do visit the Big Crow F.A.Q., which maintains that fictional corvids are boring compared to their Real Life counterparts. You can also watch Joshua Klein talk about the intelligence of these birds, and how he got some to use a vending machine.
    • Indeed, researchers have recently discovered that the Corvidae, especially crows, ravens and magpies are the most intelligent species of birds, and are actually comparable to chimps in creative thinking, although their cooperation skills don't quite match up (but are still considerable).
    • Supposedly, they hold spontaneous funeral gatherings. They even dress in black for the occasion...
      • We may have to kill you for that one.
  • Crows will eat anything edible, which might have started their scary reputation.
  • Many people are surprised to find out that ravens and crows can actually talk like parrots.
    • Unlike the high pitched childish speech of most parrots, ravens can tone their voice Evil Sounds Deep style according to who they're listening. Never has "WHOSAGOODBIRD" sounded so intimidating.
    • One owner took what so many Edgar Allan Poe fans hoped for and taught his raven to say 'Nevermore' (along with 'wakawaka') .
  • Cracked.com has a list on how crows are smarter than you think and why you should be scared of them.
  • Crows have demonstrated their ability to make tools, in fact. Being among the most intelligent genus of birds, any one of the corvid species may be capable of pulling this off, but the The New Caledonian Crow is the best known and documented. Don't believe me? Check out this video depicting one fishing some food out of a plastic tube, using nothing but a bent piece of wire and a good dose of intuition.

Nevermore.

Notes

  1. Poetically speaking, anyway; in ornithological terms, a group of birds is always a flock, regardless of species
  2. Technically, corvids are passerines, or perching birds; some raven species are the largest passerines in the world
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