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Are Goblins Evil or Dangerous?

By Andy Watkins


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When it comes to fantasy villains, there are a couple of mythological beings you can often expect will play a negative role. These include vampires, zombies, banshees, and, frequently, goblins. But does that mean goblins are evil across the board?

Goblins aren’t always evil, though they’re almost always mischievous. However, goblins can also be malicious and outright evil. Some goblins, such as the redcap and Erlking, are incredibly vicious and kill humans who cross them. 

If you’re looking for more information about the personality of goblins, keep reading.

Understanding Goblin Personalities

As mentioned above, not all goblins are evil. In fact, it’s difficult to claim that goblins all share any personality trait. 

This is because goblins vary a lot depending on their origin. They’re a popular figure in European mythology, and most countries have their own variations – which, in turn, have their own traits. 

However, one trait that seems to be shared by most types of goblins is that they’re mischievous. While not all goblins are evil, they’re generally depicted as being either tricksters or at least a little hostile to humans. 

Here are a few different types of goblins and their personality types:

  • Redcaps: Originating in the UK, the redcap is definitely an evil goblin. These goblins make their home in ruined castles and kill people who rest there for the night. They dye their caps with the blood of their victims, which gives them the name “redcap.” If their caps dry out, they’ll die, so they must continue killing to live.
  • Erlking: The Erlking is a German and Danish variation on the goblin, though he’s also described as an evil fairy or elf. This evil goblin waits for children to enter the woods alone, and if they stay inside too long, will kill them.
  • Hobgoblins: Another variation of the goblin from the UK, hobgoblins are mischievous household spirits that will help with household chores in return for food. However, if they’re not given offerings in return for their help, they’ll play tricks and disrupt the household. Some stories claim that giving them new clothes will banish them forever. 
  • Kallikantzaros: A Greek variation of the goblin, the kallikantzaroi live underground, where they see through the World Tree in hopes that it will collapse and destroy the earth. However, they come to the surface from 25th December to 6th January, where they play pranks on humans. During this time, the tree heals itself.
  • Pukwudgie: A goblin found in Native American folklore, the pukwudgie is one of the more “magical” goblins. These creatures have the ability to create fire, make themselves invisible at will, and more. They’re relatively benign goblins as long as they’re left alone. However, when annoyed, pukwudgies become extremely malicious and evil and go as far as to blind their victims or lure them to their deaths.

Final Thoughts

Not all goblins are evil, though they’re generally at least annoying to humans. However, if a goblin isn’t malicious, it’s best to leave them alone or appease them if necessary. When annoyed, most goblins turn spiteful and even evil.

That said, some goblins, like redcaps and the Erlking, are generally evil. People who encounter them are often in danger, even if they leave the creatures alone.

About Andy Watkins

I have always been interested in mythology. From a very early age in Britain, I was known to sit at the breakfast table reading encyclopedias about many of the major world mythologies. Learn more about MythNerd's Editorial Process.

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