What is the Trickster archetype? The Trickster Archetype is characterized by their joker-like personality, clown-like behavior, and mischievous nature. They often take the form of Hermes in Greek mythology or Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. The Trickster openly questions and mocks the normal rules and conventions that others take for granted. They are often seen as malicious or harmful, but their actions are usually motivated by a desire to have fun or cause mischief. The Trickster is an archetypal figure who challenges traditional ideas and beliefs.
The most popular examples of the Trickster Archetype come from Norse mythology, where the Trickster god Loki takes the form of a prankster and often tricks or otherwise fools the other gods. In Gerald Vizenor’s novel Bearheart, the trickster figure has an openness to life’s multiplicity and a willingness to question received knowledge.
In many cultures, the trickster is an openness to life’s multiplicity and chaos. It is a figure who challenges and subverts established authority and order, and is often a loner or outsider who is not fully accepted into the community. The trickster is also often associated with wisdom, cunning, and laughter.
The Trickster archetype, also known as the Jester archetype, is one of the original from the Jungian list. However, since it was first identified by Jung, the archetype has taken on a much broader definition and has become widely recognized by a variety of people.
The Trickster is a very commonplace archetype that is often fairly easy to recognize. These characters (and individuals) are not always bad guys, but they also aren’t always good guys; they tend to fall somewhere in the middle, leaning in whichever direction strikes them at a given moment.
This is an intriguing archetype that makes characters really shine. For this reason, they are most commonly represented in fiction, and they may be more difficult to find in real life.
Read through the information below to learn more about the Trickster archetype and determine whether or not it is the best archetype label for you.
In this section, you’ll find out all the information you need to know and more about the Trickster archetype. You can then use this information to figure out whether or not you are a Trickster, or if you know anyone who may fit into this category instead.
Although there are no precise variations of the Trickster archetype, there are some very similar archetypes worth mentioning:
- The Know-it-All – This is usually a younger person or a child. The Know-it-All uses his wits to showcase his ability and knowledge, or to solve problems.
- The Jester – The Jester prefers to make people laugh and doesn’t focus as heavily on his own morals or beliefs as the Trickster does.
- The Shape-shifter – The Shape-shifter may be a literal or metaphorical shape-shifter who changes his outward presentation depending on the company he keeps. He may be a shady type whose loyalties can be called into question.
- The Gambler – The Gambler is also often shady and is much like a Trickster and Wanderer combined.
- The Trickster’s primary objective is to question the way things are. He may find himself troubled by the world around him, by the status quo, or by the choices other people make for him. He wants to think hard about the ways in which change can occur, and he will usually get his hands dirty for causes he believes in.
- The Trickster wants to do what’s best for him and focus on his own wants and needs first. From there, he may be swayed to one side of an issue or the other, but he is never going to put someone else before himself. His own morals and beliefs guide him through every decision he makes.
- The Trickster wants to see things change. Whether he wants this because he feels it’s the right thing, or he simply wants it because he enjoys the chaos, he longs for change and tends to get involved in making sure it happens.
- The Trickster archetype encourages others to think about authority and question who is in control. He may want that control for himself (in Shadow forms) or he may feel someone else is better suited to the job—but he’s almost always against authority.
- This archetype wants to use his mental strengths and cunning way of thinking to solve problems and make his way through life. He is always thinking on his feet and can quickly work his way out of a sticky situation, even through unconventional means.
- The Trickster is very good at talking. He is charismatic and can convince others to listen to what he has to say. Even if he’s spouting gibberish, he commands an audience.
- Another strength of the Trickster archetype is his willingness and ability to adapt his plans to different situations that may arise. In the middle of a scheme, he can quickly change course and go in another direction, usually without missing a beat.
- The Trickster takes his time putting together plans. He thinks more than people may realize, and some Tricksters may spend years ensuring a plan goes off just right.
- It is very easy for the Trickster to become corrupt. Because he has some power of his own, that power may quickly become too much for him, and he may lose control of himself because of it.
- The Trickster may also have trouble making lasting relationships with others. Because of his nature, he may be off-putting to some, and he may not trust others because he knows he himself can’t always be trusted.
- The Trickster archetype is often not physically very strong, even though he’s got a lot of mental strength. His lack of physical strength may put him at a disadvantage more often than not.
- The Trickster may sometimes be an actual god or deity. When he’s not, he may have near-godlike abilities and wits instead.
- This archetype enjoys getting a laugh out of others and relies on pranks to make that happen more often than not.
- The Trickster archetype comes across as unintelligent to many because of his penchant for telling jokes, but he’s actually very smart and is almost always thinking about what his next move will be.
- It’s easy for the Trickster to deceive others, and he may make everyone think he’s on their side in a conflict, all at the same time.
By now, you should have a solid understanding of what makes up the Trickster archetype. This archetype is a unique one in real people, but it’s a common one in fiction. Characters with a Trickster archetype are generally interesting, fun to watch or read about, and at least somewhat relatable, too.
Think about these Trickster archetype examples to help you learn more:
- Loki from the Marvel universe (as well as Loki from mythology): Loki is a Trickster archetype as well as a trickster god. He accomplishes his goals (which are usually selfish) through tricks and deceit.
- Bugs Bunny from Looney Toons: Bugs Bunny tends to play pranks that work in his favor more often than not.
- Wile E. Coyote from Looney Toons: Wile E. Coyote comes up with scheme after scheme in his never-ending quest to achieve his goal.
- Satan: Satan and many other figures that resemble him all fall into the Trickster category. Some iterations of Satan are more Trickster than others, and the “deal with the Devil” is one way in which this archetype shows itself in Satan.
- Tom Sawyer: Tom uses trickery and half-truths to get out of doing work and to be able to spend his time the way he wants to.
There are plenty of other Tricksters out there in movies, video games, books, TV shows and more. Do you have a favorite Trickster who stands out in your memory? Or, on the other hand, do you find these types of characters difficult to enjoy? What does your opinion of the Trickster archetype say about you as a person? Do you feel like this archetype could be relevant to your life in some way?