A Troll is a mythical creature, that over time has become a major trope in fantasy movies, books, and games alike. It is a traditionally Scandinavian creature of folklore that has progressed from it's original features such as giant stature and human-like qualities, to a variety of different interpretations[1]. Trolls have been depicted as very animalistic characters, looking more like animals than humans. While others look like small humans with certain exaggerated features or some odd form of presentation. Still, some do look like the giant, scary creature they were originally described as. In modern use, the word troll can also refer to someone on the internet who likes to poke fun at, or ridicule certain people, pages, videos, or blogs[2].


Etymology Edit

The word “troll” comes from Old Norse and directly means “giant being not of the human race, evil spirit, monster[3]." Across many cultures the world troll has a magical connotation[4].

Folk History Edit

Trolls were first found as a part of Scandinavian folklore and stories (Norse Mythology), depicting large giants with magical powers. They are normally seen with human-like features, but are exaggerated, and quite frequently very dumb[1]. Also, troll stories from different backgrounds described different kinds of creatures. In Denmark tradition, trolls are seen as creatures of the mountains, and are known to be thieves. While in Sweden, the trolls were seen as much bigger giants with very evil intentions[5].

Illustration by Tony Diterzilli from the Spiderwick Chronicles

Modern Use Edit

As time went on, the story of the troll began to develop. With modern uses including the adorable “troll dolls”, use in Harry Potter, and roles in works such as Frozen, the idea of the troll has progressed. Trolls have been depicted as anything ranging from big, gross, and deadly to something cute, with pink hair, that you could fit in your pocket. The most classic troll to some is the bridge troll or river troll, the kind of creature you come across in a forest or along a path, that asks riddles or tries to prevent passing of some sort, which is seen in Monty Python and the Holy Grail[6]. To others, trolls may be small, friendly creatures who live in hiding and have magical powers, such as in Frozen[7]. The temperament of the trolls a character deals with is based on many factors, but most importantly is the appearance, agitation towards visitors, and protection of land or property. Trolls can vary between kind characters looking to help, and evil creatures looking to cause mayhem or make a fool of someone.

Online Use Edit

And, even further, the word troll has itself begun to mean a completely different creature. Now, when a young person in America refers to a “troll” they might very well be referring to someone on the internet. An internet troll is someone who purposefully seeks out arguments on internet platforms such as Facebook, blogs, and other social media[2]. The phenomenon has its very popular image to accompany it, that was(and is) a viral meme. The people who “troll” the internet are normally seen trying to start fights about hot topics, and they seem to also try to make fun of everything and anything they can.

List of Texts/Media Edit

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail[6]. In this movie, the troll is depicted at the bridge, preventing passage if they do not answer his questions.
  • Frozen[7]. The trolls in this movie are essentially magic rocks, that have very strong magical powers, showing up throughout the movie, and influencing all of the characters.
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles[8]. The river troll shows up and tries to kill our protagonists, but fails to do so in the end.
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone[9]. The troll is depicted as dumb and violent, getting into the castle and causing some mayhem and destruction of property in the process.

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Winther-Sorensen, Rebecca. "10 Creatures in Scandinavian Folklore - Listverse." Listverse. 14 Oct. 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. <>.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Internet Troll." Urban Dictionary. 21 June 2009. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. < Troll>.
  3. ”Online Etymology Dictionary." Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. <>.
  4. "Troll." - New World Encyclopedia. Ed. Frank Kaufmann. 10 May 2009. Web. 19 Oct. 2015
  5. "TrollMoon Celebrating the Scandinavian Troll in Art and Folklore."TrollMoon RSS. 17 Feb. 2007. Web. 19 Oct. 2015. <>.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Dir. Terry Gilliam. Perf. Graham Chapman, John Cleese. 1975. Film.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Frozen. Dir. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Perf. Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff. Films Media Group, 2013. DVD.
  8. DiTerlizzi, Tony, and Holly Black. The Spiderwick Chronicles. New York: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, 2007. Print.
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Dir. Chris Colombus. Perf. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson. Warner Home Video, 2001. DVD.