The Trickster - a hero who doesn't follow the norms

Author of the article: Tatiana Zhakova
Journalist, linguist, teacher of storytelling with 10 years of experience
In 2015, she created and promoted her project about Nizhny Novgorod, after which she created the author's course "Storytelling: How to Tell Your Story" on its basis. More than 4,000 students have taken the course.

A linguist by training, she is very quick to master new fields. Now she is actively studying screenwriting and storytelling in films/series, about which she writes in the blog of her project.
A Trickster is a character in movies (and other art forms) who is usually notable for his funny, unpredictable, and somewhat provocative nature. He can be brash, irresponsible, deceitful, but also clever and witty. Such a character is often used in movies to create humor and hold the viewer's attention.

Trickster can be both a protagonist and a minor character. He can bring an element of surprise to the plot, cause conflict, and/or become a catalyst for action. Tricksters can be either humans, animals, or even objects. Some examples of tricksters in movies include the Joker in The Dark Knight, Bugs Bunny in Looney Tunes Cartoons, and Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Other examples of tricksters

  • Loki in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
  • Tom Sawyer in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
  • Peter Pan in James Barrie's novel "Peter Pan and Wendy"
  • Alice in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.
  • Bart Simpson on The Simpsons.
  • Donald Duck in Disney cartoons.
  • And even Harry Potter!
The Trickster openly questions and ridicules authority, encourages impulse and enthusiasm, seeks new ideas and experiences, destroys convention and complacency, and promotes chaos and disorder. At the same time, the trickster brings new knowledge and wisdom to the story. Even when tricksters are horribly punished for their insolence, their indomitable spirit (or plain stupidity) keeps them coming back again and again.

Tricksters can be anything from gods of chaos, preventing the heroes from having a laugh, to masters of manipulation, using cruel tricks and sadistic solutions. They can also be heroes (or rather anti-heroes) who compensate for a lack of strength or courage with manipulation, planning, or just plain deception.

Tricksters can be cunning, stupid, or both cunning and stupid at the same time. Sometimes the Trickster acts as a kind of catalyst, where his antics cause other characters to become upset, but he himself remains untouched. The Trickster can also be a way of expressing certain social or cultural values. For example, the Trickster can be used to protest social norms or conservative views.

The Trickster can also be associated with psychological aspects of art, such as unexpected plot twists, emphasizing the theme of changeability, or the presence of uncertainty in a story.

In mythology and religion, the trickster deity breaks the rules of the gods or nature, sometimes maliciously but usually with positive effect. Often rule-breaking takes the form of trickery or theft, and their actions often end up changing the rules in the process of breaking them, much like an act of "civil disobedience."
Loki is one of the most famous tricksters in mythology. He has unusual powers and often acts in unexpected and unconventional ways. He can use his cunning and dexterity to achieve his goals or just for his own pleasure. Loki has been featured in many stories and movies to add an element of surprise and humor.
The Joker is another famous trickster who appears in Batman comics and movies. He has unusual powers and often acts in unexpected and unconventional ways. He can use his cunning and dexterity to achieve his goals or just for his own amusement.
In modern literature, the Trickster has persisted as a character archetype that ranges from self-conscious and purposeful, to merely impulsive and mischievous, to outright hostile antagonist. In those cases where the Trickster is the antagonist or villain, he is quite often a harmless villain and is more of a nuisance than a threat. He often only wants to show that he is smarter and more cunning than the hero, who may also view such a villain as amusing entertainment, as he is often easy to defeat non-violently.

How do you create your own trickster?

It's not easy, but you can create a trickster character and place him in your story
  • 1
    Define the purpose of your trickster: what do you want him to do in the story? What role should he play? How should he interact with other characters?
  • 2
    Think about his appearance: what does he look like? How does he dress? His appearance can reflect his character and personality.
  • 3
    Create his story: how did he get here? How does he relate to the other characters? How does he change over the course of the action?
  • 4
    Don't be afraid to experiment: the trickster can be unexpected and eccentric, so don't be afraid to go beyond the usual schemes and standard patterns.
  • 5
    Make sure it doesn't contradict the logic of the story: don't forget that your trickster is still part of the piece and must conform to its logic.