10 Fantastic Fictional Foxes

From Reynard to Robin Hood, these fictional foxes all left a lasting impression.
Copper and Tod in the 1981 Disney adaptation of ‘The Fox and the Hound.’
Copper and Tod in the 1981 Disney adaptation of ‘The Fox and the Hound.’ / Disney

Foxes have played a notable role in literature, film, and even opera across the centuries. They’re often portrayed as clever tricksters, with some acting more sinister than others. Here are 10 fantastic fictional foxes you may or may not be familiar with.

1. Fox // “The Fox and the Cat”

An early 16th-century illustration of  "The Fox and the Cat."
An early 16th-century illustration of "The Fox and the Cat." / Steinhowel, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Aesop’s fable “The Fox and the Cat” follows the story of a fox who tells a cat that it knows many different ways to escape when being pursued. The cat, however, cat says it only knows one. When a pack of hounds arrive, the cat quickly uses its one trick to climb up a tree, but the fox hesitates while trying to decide between different methods; his indecision costs him precious time, and the hounds quickly destroy him.  

2. Mr. Fox // Fantastic Mr. Fox

Mr Fox from 'Fantastic Mr Fox'
Mr Fox / Vera Anderson/GettyImages

Roald Dahl’s tale of a fox who steals from local farmers to help his family has become one of the author’s most popular stories. First published in 1970, Fantastic Mr. Fox follows the titular animal’s battle against the three farmers who try to foil his plans. Wes Anderson adapted the tale into an animated film in 2009; George Clooney voices Mr. Fox.

3. Reynard the Fox 

An 1845 engraving showing Reynard the Fox presenting a crown to Bruin Bear.
An 1845 engraving showing Reynard the Fox presenting a crown to Bruin Bear. / swim ink 2 llc/GettyImages

One of the most well-known animal fables of medieval European literature focuses on the legend of Reynard the Fox, a talking canid who enjoyed playing tricks and causing havoc. Reynard does more than just star in entertaining stories: He was also put to work satirizing the most powerful political and religious institutions of the era.  

4. Robin Hood // Robin Hood (1973)

A popular screen adaptation of Robin Hood features a fictional fox who actually gets to play a hero in Disney’s 1973 animated take on the medieval tale. Disney was initially interested in adapting the saga of Reynard the Fox, but eventually decided those stories were too dark—so they opted to make Robin Hood a fox instead.

5. Tod // The Fox and the Hound 

This story follows a fox named Tod and his relationship with a bloodhound known as Copper. As the years go by, the animals struggle with the roles they have been assigned: Copper is a hunting dog, after all, and his owner wants him to go after Tod. The Disney film was based on the 1967 book of the same name by Daniel P. Mannix. The book contains a very melancholy story, while the Disney adaptation is a touch more upbeat (though it still has its fair share of tear-inducing scenes). 

6. Fox // Fox in Socks

Dr Seuss’s Fox in Socks tells the tale of the eponymous fox who wears socks and speaks in rhymes and tongue-twisters. The children’s book, first published in 1965, highlights Fox’s friendship with a dog named Knox, to whom he attempts to teach more and more complicated word games as the book goes on.

7. Basil Brush // The Nixon Line

Basil Brush and  actor Billy Boyle on 'The Basil Brush Show', November 1980.
Basil Brush and actor Billy Boyle on 'The Basil Brush Show', November 1980. / Hulton Archive/GettyImages

The glove puppet Basil Brush first appeared on children’s TV in the UK in the 1960s. His puppet was created by Peter Firmin and his voice was performed by the actor Ivan Owen; Owen shied away from the spotlight to avoid shattering the character’s illusion. The fox puppet first appeared on a series called The Nixon Line before becoming the star of The Basil Brush Show in 1968.

8. Foxy-Loxy // “Henny Penny”

One of the more sinister foxes appears in the folk story of “Henny-Penny” (sometimes known by the alternative title of “Chicken Licken” or “Chicken Little”). It’s a fable about the dangers of believing everything you’re told: In the story, a chicken feels a leaf falling onto his head and thinks the sky is falling down. He tells other animals, who believe him and fear for their safety. The ever-cunning Foxy Loxy tells everyone they will be safe in his home, where he actually plans to eat them. Some versions of the fable feature a bleak ending where Foxy Loxy succeeds in dining on the scared creatures; alternative takes have a happier conclusion, which sees the animals flee [PDF]. 

9. Fox // Mr. Kotsky

Fictional foxes have also appeared in opera, including the 1891 work Mr. Kotsky by the composer Mykola Lysenko, with a libretto by Dniprova Chayka. The opera draws upon a traditional children’s story from Ukraine, known as “Pan Kotsky” (Mr. Cat); the cat eventually meets a fox who asks him to marry her, and they settle down together.

10. Fox // The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

A fox appears in C. S. Lewis’s beloved Chronicles of Narnia series. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the fox is friendly and acts as an ally in the battle against the White Witch. When the witch finds the fox and other animals celebrating Christmas—which she had abolished in Narnia—she turns him and all other creatures present to stone. After the rise of Aslan, the fox is reawakened, along with the others who had become statues.

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