In Medieval English folklore, Puck is an evil fairy or demon, probably derived from Pouke, which in Old and Middle English would seem to mean a devil, demon, or evil spirit. It is an ancient word, found both in Germanic and in Celtic languages. The Irish pooka, or púca, and the Welsh pwcca are similar household spirits. Puki, in Icelandic, is an evil spirit, and there is the German Spuk and Danish Spoge and Spogelse. In Elizabethan tradition, Puck was a mischievous, brownielike fairy also called Robin Goodfellow, or Hobgoblin. Puck is now usually thought of as the one of the leading characters in William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, first published in 1600, and as the Fairy King Oberon’s jester, Puck transforms the head of the character Nick Bottom, into that of an ass. Shakespeare’s Puck boasts of his many pranks such as misleading travellers at night, spoiling milk, changing shapes, and frightening young girls. See, The Fairy Mythology, Vol II, William Harrison Ainsworth, London, 1828, pp. 118-121; Britannica Online, Puck, fairy, J.E. Luebering, 2007.

The first notice of the word in English is by William Langland (1330?-1400?) in The Vision of Piers Plowman (London and New York: J.M. Dent and E.P. Dutton, 1978):

Page 152, Passus 13

For, by hym that me made, myghte nevere poverte 13.158

Misese ne mischief ne man with his tonge 13.159

Coold, ne care, ne compaignye of theves 13.160

Ne neither hete, ne hayl, ne noon helle pouke 13.161

Page 169, Passus 14

Ac if the pouke wolde plede herayein, and punysshe us in conscience 14.188

We sholde take the acquitaunce as quyk and to the queed shewen it—14.189

Pateat &c: Per passionem Domini—14.189

And putten of so the pouke and preven us under borwe 14.190

Page 199, Passus 16

Thanne Liberum Arbitrium laccheth the thridde planke 16.050

And palleth adoun the pouke pureliche thorugh grace 16.051

And help of the Holy Goost–and thus have I the maistrie 16.052

Page 206, Passus 16

“This is a present of muche pris; what prynce shal it have?’ 16.260

“It is a precious present,’ quod he, “ac the pouke it hath attached, 16.261

And me thenvith,’ quod that wye, “may no wed us quyte, 16.262


John Milton in his L’Allegro first published in 1645, refers to ‘the drudging goblin sweat / To earn his cream-bowl duly set’ (Annotated Poems of English Authors, E. T. Stevens and D. Morris, London, 1876, p. 20).

The mythology of Puck was presented in Shakespeare’s Puck, and his Folklore (William Bell, 2 Vols., London, 1852.

Puck is a character in Rudyard Kipling’s Puck of Pook’s Hill, published in 1906. It contains a series of short stories that are set in different periods of English history, and can be described as historical and contemporary fantasy. Another fantasy book by Kipling appeared in 1910, entitled Rewards and Fairies, a sequel to Puck of Pook’s Hill.

Dear Brutus, the romantic fantasy play by J. M. Barrie (the creator of Peter Pan), has Lob, the ancient Puck, as one of the principal characters. First produced in 1917, it was published in 1923.

Puck is the codename of two Marvel Comics characters. The first Puck appeared in Alpha Flight #1 in August 1983. The next Puck appeared in Alpha Flight vol. 3 #1 in March 2004.

A character named Puck appears in the 1989 Manga series Berserk, written and illustrated by Kentaro Miura. Manga is the name of comics originating from Japan.

Puck, voiced by Brent Spiner, is one of the immortal Children of Oberon and a recurring villain from the Disney animated television series Gargoyles, which originally aired from 1994 to 1997.

The Sisters Grimm is a children’s fantasy series written by Michael Buckley, published from 2005 to 2012 in a total of ten novels. Puck is the eldest son of Oberon and Titania, and he has the appearance of an unkempt, twelve year old boy, although he has lived for over four thousand years. As an adopted member of the Grimm family, he enjoys playing practical jokes, especially on Sabrina Grimm.

The Iron Fey Series (2010-2015) by Julie Kagawa, has Puck as a main character along with other characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In the 2011 novel The Great Night by Chris Adrian, Puck is a powerful and antagonistic demon, released from his thousand-year-old bond.

The 2019 Amazon series Carnival Row, depicts a race of humanoids with ram horns and hoofs. The dialogue refers to them as ‘pucks’.

Puck appears in the TV series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (as Robin Goodfellow) in its third and fourth seasons (2019–2020).

Puck is the main protagonist in  Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Raven (2021), the first book in The Iron Fey: Evenfall series.