Foxes in popular culture

Foxes in popular culture

"Brer Fox Tackles Brer Tarrypin", from Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings: The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation, by Joel Chandler Harris. Illustrations by Frederick Stuart Church and James H. Moser. 1881.

This article discusses foxes in culture.


Cultural connotations

In many cultures, the fox appears in folklore as a symbol of cunning and trickery, or as a familiar animal possessed of magic powers.

In Dogon mythology, the pale fox is the trickster god of the desert, who embodies chaos.[1][2]

The Medieval Norman adventurer Robert Guiscard was nicknamed "Robert the Fox" as well as the Resourceful, the Cunning, the Wily - underlining the identification of such qualities with foxes. Although this common iconism of fox as a cunning creature most probably originates in the old indo-Iranian fables gathered in the Kalīlah wa Dimnah[citation needed].

The term "foxy" in English is defined as meaning - as the obvious "having the qualities of a fox" - also "attractive" and "sexy", as well as "red-haired" [1]. And "to outfox" means "to beat in a competition of wits" , the synonym of "outguess", "outsmart" or "outwit"[2].

In Finnish mythology, the fox is depicted usually a cunning trickster, but seldom evil. The fox, while weaker, in the end outsmarts both the evil and voracious wolf and the strong but not-so-cunning bear. It symbolizes the victory of intelligence over both malevolence and brute strength.

There is a Tswana riddle that says that "Phokoje go tsela o dithetsenya" translated literally into Only the muddy fox lives meaning that, in a philosophical sense, only an active person who does not mind getting muddy gets to progress in life.

In early Mesopotamian mythology, the fox is one of the sacred animals of the goddess Ninhursag. The fox acts as her messenger.

Prince Hanzoku terrorized by a nine-tailed kitsune (fox spirit). Print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 19th century.

In Chinese, Japanese, and Korean folklores, foxes (huli jing in China, kitsune in Japan, and kumiho in Korea) are powerful spirits that are known for their highly mischievous and cunning nature, and they often take on the form of female humans to seduce men. In contemporary Chinese, the word "huli jing" is often used to describe a mistress negatively in an extramarital affair. In Shinto of Japan, kitsune sometimes helps people as an errand of their deity, Inari.

The Moche people of ancient Peru worshiped animals and often depicted the fox in their art.[3] The Moche people believed the fox to be a warrior that would use his mind to fight. The fox would not ever use physical attack, only mental.

Moche Fox, A.D. 200, Larco Museum Collection, Lima, Peru.
nine-tailed fox, from the Qing edition of the Shan Hai Jing

The Bible's Song of Solomon (2:15) includes a well-known verse "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom" which had been given many interpretations over the centuries by Jewish and Christian Bible commentators.

The words "fox" or "foxy" have become slang in Western societies for an individual (most often female) with sex appeal. The word "vixen", which is normally the common name for a female fox, is also used to describe an attractive woman—although, in the case of humans, "vixen" tends to imply that the woman in question has a few nasty qualities.

The fox theme is often associated with transformation in European and East Asian literature. There are four main types of fox stories:

  • The word shenanigan (a deceitful confidence trick, or mischief) is considered to be derived from the Irish expression sionnachuighim, meaning "I play the fox."[3]
  • Description of life of more or less realistic animals
  • Stories about anthropomorphic animals imbued with human characteristics
  • Tales of fox transformations into humans and vice versa

In the Middle Ages and even into the Renaissance, foxes, which were associated with wiliness and fraudulent behavior, were sometimes burned as symbols of the Devil.[4]

Literature (in chronological order)

This Japanese obake karuta (monster card) from the early 19th century depicts a kitsune (fox spirit). The associated game involves matching clues from folklore to pictures of specific creatures


The trickster figure Reynard the Fox as depicted in an 1869 children's book by Michel Rodange.
The Fox and the Cat in Pinocchio, as drawn by Enrico Mazzanti.
  • 1881-1883 - The Fox and the Cat (Italian: La Volpe e il Gatto) are a pair of fictional characters who appear in Carlo Collodi's book The Adventures of Pinocchio. Both are con-men who lead Pinocchio astray and unsuccessfully attempt to murder him. They pretend to disabilities - the Fox to lameness and the Cat to blindness. The Fox is the more articulate, the Cat usually limiting itself to repeating the Fox' words.
  • 1905? - Ernest Thompson Seton, The Biography of a Silver-Fox, Or, Domino Reynard of Goldur Town: Realistic story with author's drawing, later made into a feature film.
  • 1909 - L. Frank Baum, The Road to Oz: Fox king Dox of Foxville changes a boy's head into fox's.
  • 1920 - Rudolf Těsnohlídek, Liška Bystrouška (Vixen Sharpears or The Cunning Little Vixen).
  • 1922 - David Garnett, Lady into Fox[6] is about transformation into animal, first physical then mental.
  • 1932 - Niimi Nankichi,Gon, the Little Fox:The fox was misunderstood, and it was shot. The moral of result of revenge.
  • 1938 - B.B., Wild Lone: The Story of a Pytchley Fox: A novel about a fox's life in Northamptonshire, the home of the Pytchley Hunt.
  • 1943 - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince: A fox indicates the true value of friendship.
  • 1957 - Ted Hughes, The Thought-Fox: A poem featured in Hughes's The Hawk in the Rain.
  • 1960 - Vercors, Sylva, inspired by Garnett where a fox changes into a lady.
  • 1965 - Robert Crumb, Fritz the Cat comics : Winston Schwartz, two animated films.
  • 1965 - István Fekete Vuk, about life of abandoned fox and his revenge on a hunter. Also made into an animated film.
  • 1967 - Daniel Pratt Mannix IV, The Fox and the Hound stars a fox named Tod as one of the two protagonists. Made into a Disney movie, with a recent sequel.
  • 1977 - Richard Adams, The Plague Dogs has a protagonist named "The Tod" who helps out Snitter and Rowf along in their adventures.
  • 1986–present - Brian Jacques, Redwall series: Fox characters include Fortunata, Sela, Chickenhound or Slagar, Urgan Nagru, Silvamord, Nightshade, Vizka Longtooth, and Rasconza. Also animated.
  • 1989 - Garry Kilworth, Hunter's Moon: The life and tragedies of a fox family which describes foxes' own mythology.
  • 1989 - William Wharton (author), Franky Furbo: A magical fox rescues an American soldier and then journeys in search for proof of the unusual story.
  • 1994 - Gillian Rubinstein, Foxspell, in which a fox's god propose that a young boy become a fox in favor to proper burial of dead fox's body.
  • 1998 - Elizabeth Hand, Last Summer at Mars Hills: An Indian boy has magical amulet which allows him change into a fox.
  • 2001 and 2003 - Mordicai Gerstein, Fox Eyes and Old Country, in which anyone can switch bodies with fox if he looks into their eyes long enough.
  • 2002 - N. M. Browne, Hunted: A comatose girl wakes up in a fox's body in a fantasy world.
  • 2005 - Victor Pelevin, The Sacred Book of Werewolf: The kitsune A-huli searches for a path to Nirvana for were-creatures.

Young Children books

  • 1908 and 1912 - Beatrix Potter included foxes in her anthropomorphic children's tales—as pursuer in The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck and as title character in The Tale of Mr. Tod.
  • 1913 - Thornton W. Burgess's The Green Forest: Reddy Fox.
  • 1924 - Aquilino Ribeiro, Romance da Raposa: Portuguese adaptation of the medieval story of Reynard.
  • 1961 - Peter Spier, The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night: an adaptation of the folk song of the same name.
  • 1963? - Miyoko Matsutani, The Bread with Color of the Fox's Tail: story about friendship between a girl and a boy-werefox.
  • 1970s - Richard Scarry, series of books, Fixit Fox, a mechanic; also animated
  • 1970 - Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox: Mr. and Mrs. Fox and their four pups.
  • 1982 - William Steig's children's book Dr. Desoto contains an unnamed vulpine patient.
  • 1990 - Judith Mellecker, The Fox and the Kingfisher: Picture book about brother and sister who tried to run away from stepmother and changed their selves into a fox and a bird.
  • 1998 - Michel Gagné, A Search for Meaning—The Story of Rex : Continues in comics magazine Flight (comic)
  • 2006 - Ali Sparkes, Finding the Fox: the first of a series of novels about a boy who has the ability to change into a fox.
  • 1900s - Irina Korshunow, The Foundling Fox: Picture book about a fox who loses his parents and is adopted by another mother.
  • 1965 - Dr. Seuss, "Fox in Socks". Dr. Seuss' story about tongue-twisters.
  • 1966 - David Thomson, "Danny Fox" An episodic journey story in which the wily Danny Fox seeks food for his wife Mrs Doxie Fox and hungry children Lick, Chew and Swallow. Loosely based on Folk tales, two more books followed;
  • 1968 - David Thomson, "Danny Fox meets a Stranger", in which Danny Fox meets and pits his wits against a Wolf
  • 1976 - David Thomson, "Danny Fox at the Palace" Danny Fox meets royalty, although not for the first time.

Books with loose fox motifs


Animated movies and series

  • 1937 - Ladislas Starevich's puppet-animated feature film, Le Roman de Renard ("The Tale of the Fox").
  • 1940 - Disney's Pinocchio: J. Worthington Foulfellow (also known as Honest John, and ironically is extremely dishonest).
  • 1941–1950 – Screen Gems The Fox and the Crow: Fauntelroy Fox, one of the principal characters of the animated film series.
  • 1946 - Disney's Song of the South: Brer Fox.
  • 1960 - Hanna Barbera's Yogi Bear series had short cartoons, Yakky Doodle, in which the duckling is pursued by Fibber Fox.
  • 1972 - Ralph Bakshi's 1972 film Fritz the Cat: Winston Schwartz, the on-and-off-again girlfriend of Fritz.
  • 1973 - Disney's Robin Hood: Robin Hood and Maid Marian
  • 1973 - Zuiyo Eizo episodes Fables of the Green Forest based on a book The Green Forest.
  • 1981 - Disney's The Fox and the Hound: Tod; there was a 2006 sequel The Fox and the Hound 2 and being the first in media that attacks a dog and a bear.
  • 1981 - Attila Dargay's Vuk, a young fox who is one of the most famous Hungarian cartoon characters.
  • 1982 - The Plague Dogs, based on the book.
  • 1983 and 1997 – Encore Enterprises' animated series Chucklewood Critters: fox character Rusty.
  • 1985 - A French animated series, Moi Renart.
  • 1986 – Hospital Radio's The Space Gypsy Adventures: D.C. Bones, D.C. Fusky, Gemma and Damien Mildury (animated).
  • 1986 - Dutch TV series The Bluffers: Sharpy, one of the main protagonists.
  • 1987 – Sunbow Productions' serial Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light: Ectar of the Spectral Knights possessed the totem of the Fox.
  • 1987 – Sylvanian Families: The members of the Slydale Family are Slick, Velvette, Buster, Scarlett, Skitter and Lindy from the animated TV series.
  • 1987 – Maple Town: The members of the Fox Family are Fanny, Freddy, Mr. and Mrs Fox from the animated series.
  • 1990 – Disney's Talespin: several fox characters appear in the series.
  • 1991 – Don Bluth's Rockadoodle, based on Chantecler by Edmond Rostand, a tale about a rooster; one of antagonists of the story is a fat fox named Pinky.
  • 1991 – TV series Bucky O'Hare: Vixen Captain Mimi LaFloo; based on 1970s comics.
  • 1992/2006 – Operation Lifesaver Video Sly Fox and Birdie teaches kids about railroad safety
  • 1993–1996 – The Animals of Farthing Wood TV series and movie: Fox and his mate Vixen.
  • 1993, 1996 and 2007 – Flemming Quist Møller's Danish animated films Jack from the Jungle: Rita, an urban fox.
  • 1993 – Tezuka's Akuemon: Anime based on Japanese folk tale about fox-wife.
  • 1993 - Adventures Of Sonic The Hedgehog: A TV series based on the characters Sonic The Hedgehog, Tails, and Doctor Robotnik.
  • 1993 - Sonic the Hedgehog (TV series): Sonic Satam as the fans call it is based on the video game Sonic The Hedgehog.
  • 1997 – Tezuka's In the Beginning: The Bible Stories: Vixy, a vixen narrator.
  • 1999 – Cosgrove Hall's The Foxbusters: Cartoon series based on Dick King Smith's novel about a group of chickens defending their farm against a gang of foxes.
  • 1999–2001 - Pablo the Little Red Fox: A BBC series that revolves around the adventures of three child foxes and the misadventures they have.
  • 1999-2001 – Nelvana Redwall series, based on the book.
  • 1999–2003 – Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer - Swiper the Fox, mischievous thief fox.
  • 2002 - Balto II: Wolf Quest, sequel to 1995's Balto, featuring a cunning fox fooling Balto while the latter searches for his daughter.
  • 2005 – A Thierry Schiel CGI film Le Roman de Renart ("Renard the Fox").
  • 2007 – Lee Seong-gang's South Korean animated film Yobi, the Five Tailed Fox: Yobi, a young kumiho girl.
  • 2007 – TV series Skunk Fu!: Fox, on whom Rabbit has a big crush.
  • 2009 - Fantastic Mr. Fox, Wes Anderson's stop-motion animation adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book
  • 2010 - My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox is a South Korean romantic comedy where a young girl plays a Nine-Tailed Fox in the form of a human.


Feature Movies

  • 1973 - The Belstone Fox (Free Spirit): Fox named "Tag," based on the novel "The Ballad of the Belstone Fox".
  • 1973 - Ukrainian movie director Igor Negrescul's Domino: A Life of a Silver Fox.
  • 1990 - Akira Kurosawa's Dreams: A boy goes to the forest to see where the foxes have their weddings.
  • 1994 - Russian director Ury Klimov's Once Lives a Fox: Story of a fox escaped from the zoo.
  • 2005 Andrew Adamson's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Mr. Fox, voiced by Rupert Everett. A fox also appears during a Christmas feast in the novel, and is turned to stone by the White Witch.
  • 2006 - Helen the Baby Fox Seven-year old Taichi found a baby fox named "Helen."
  •  ?? Kazakhstan's movie The Last Fox: Boy rescues fox from a trap.
  •  ?? Estonia's movie Life of the Fox
  • 2009 - Antichrist directed by Lars von Trier has a possibly supernatural fox appearing throughout the film.
  • 2009 - Fantastic Mr. Fox directed by Wes Anderson, and starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, among others.

Popular Music

Folk Music

  • Mr Fox 1970s Folk Rock band.


Video Games, Card Games, Comics

  • Miles "Tails" Prower, a two-tailed fox that can spin his tails like a helicopter to fly, from the popular Sonic the Hedgehog series by a branch of Sega; Sonic Team.
  • Fox McCloud, James McCloud, and Krystal from the Star Fox series of Nintendo video games.
  • Keaton of the Legend of Zelda video games.
  • Pokémon - Vulpix and Ninetales. Eevee is a most likely based on the fennec fox. Zorua and Zoroark are the Tricky Fox and Illusory Fox Pokémon, respectively.
  • Vyper, a kung-fu fox whom Benson the Cat has a crush on from The Agents franchise.
  • Fiona Fox, a red, female fox who was originally portrayed as a robot; then an organic version was later created for Sonic the Hedgehog, whom Tails had a crush on until she revealed that she was too old for him, then subsequently dated Sonic and finally Scourge, becoming a sexy villain.
  • Inspector Carmelita Fox, a police officer in the Sly Cooper series of video games.
  • Rif and his girlfriend in the computer game Inherit the Earth: Quest for the Orb.
  • The James Bond parody Spy Fox, star of a computer game series.
  • Crazy Redd, the Black Market salesman from the Animal Crossing games.
  • In Trickster Online, Fox is the female sense type character.
  • In the trading card game Magic: The Gathering, Eight-and-a-Half-Tails is a legendary fox monk of great power and purity.
  • Video game series, Metal Gear Solid, the special forces group is known as "Fox-Hound". It has a logo of either a fox carrying a knife in its mouth, or a cartoon fox with a grenade in one hand, and a machine pistol in the other. Fox is also the highest level codename an operative can receive, designating the highest level of skill.
  • Ninetails, a major boss character from the game Ōkami. Its source of power is the Fox Rods, which contain nine Tube Foxes, one for each tail. During battle with Ninetails, the tails turn into women and must be defeated individually. (It should be noted that this character's name is spelled differently than Ninetales'.)
  • Titus the Fox: To Marrakech and Back, fox mascot in a platform game
  • In the Image Comics series Kiss: The Psycho Circus #14 and #15, the members of Kiss are portrayed as supernatural beings who train a Feudal Japanese samurai to outsmart supernatural foxes. The warrior outsmarts the fox spirits by applying the fox makeup identity of the late Kiss drummer Eric Carr
  • In the video game Drawn To Life for the Nintendo DS handheld system, the charters of the village are "Raposas" which is Portuguese for Fox
  • In the webcomic The Whiteboard three characters are foxes: Swampy, Red, and Sandy.
  • Kitsune (or Fox) in Persona 4 who is part of the social links.
  • Psycho Fox, the main character in a Sega Master System game of the same name.
  • Ninjara, a character who appeared in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Archie Comics. She was also Raphael's girlfriend.
  • The main female protagonist in Neil Gaiman's "The Dream Hunters" illustrated novella, and comic is a legendary Kitsune (Asian Fox-spirit).
  • Scarlet Ann Starfox and the Solar Foxes whom feature in the anthropomorphic comic book series Extinctioners.


Monument of Bystrouška, Janáček's opera "The Cunning Little Vixen" at Hukvaldy, Janáček's hometown



Morris and Folk Dancing



  • Ozy and Millie- foxes starring in a webcomic of the same name
  • 21st Century Fox: Romantic Comedy of the Future- a sci-fi webcomic whose main story arc focuses on the anthropomorphic foxes Jack Black and Jenny Curtis
  • Tails From Mynarski Forest - A series based in Canada about a fox named Liska and her friend Skippy a rabbit.
  • Kevin and Kell - Fiona Fennec and George Fennec, her father, are both fennec foxes.
  • Faux Pas (webcomic). (Fox Paws) A Webcomic featuring Randy the fox and his girlfriend Cindy as some of the main characters.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Katherine Berrin & Larco Museum (1997). The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York: Thames and Hudson.
  4. ^ Benton, Janetta Rebold (1 April 1997). Holy Terrors: Gargoyles on Medieval Buildings. Abbeville Press. pp. 82. ISBN 978-0789201829. 
  5. ^ Nihon Shoki Chapter 7
  6. ^ David Garnett (1922). Lady into Fox. London: Chatto and Windus, retrieved from Gutenberg
  7. ^ "Foxes Jumping on my Trampoline Video". 
  8. ^ Benton, Janetta Rebold (1 April 1997). Holy Terrors: Gargoyles on Medieval Buildings. Abbeville Press. pp. 83. ISBN 978-0789201829. 

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