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This article discusses the mythological being called a troll. For other meanings, see troll (disambiguation).

A troll is a fictitious humanoid monster of Scandinavian folklore, as in "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," the well-known Scandinavian folk tale in which a troll living under a bridge torments some billy goats that want to cross. Grendel in the poem Beowulf is a closely similar creature. Trolls were popularized outside of Scandinavia by Tolkien.

Table of contents
1 Description of trolls
2 Trolls in literature
3 Troll dolls

Description of trolls

According to a 1908 Cyclopedia: "Trolls are Dwarfs of Northern mythology, living in hills or mounds; they are represented as stumpy, misshapen, and humpbacked, inclined to thieving, and fond of carrying off children or substituting one of their own offspring for that of a human mother. They are called hill-people, and are especially averse to noise, from a recollection of the time when Thor used to fling his hammer at them." The hammer, Mjolnir, was forged by trolls.

Trolls are one of the most frequent creatures of Scandinavian fairy tales and more common than elves, dwarves, witches and giants. They hoard gold. They come in any size and can be as huge as giants or as small as dwarves. They are however always regarded as having poor intellect (especially the males), big noses, long arms, and as being hairy and not very beautiful (except for certain females). In Scandinavian fairy tales trolls generally turn to stone if exposed to sunlight. They live in the forest and in mountains and sometimes kidnap children that have to live with them. Occasionally they even steal a new-born baby leaving their own offspring, a changeling, in return (an ancient explanation for children born with Down's syndrome). Young Swedish children frequently believe in trolls, and a way to teach children to brush their teeth is to tell them to get rid of the very small "tooth trolls" that otherwise will make holes in their teeth.

Trolls in literature

In J. R. R. Tolkien's world of Middle-earth, trolls are very large (around 9 feet tall) humanoids of poor intellect. They turn to stone when exposed to sunlight and they enjoy eating hobbits and dwarves. In The Lord of the Rings, a new breed appears, called the Olog-Hai. Unlike the old trolls, they are capable of speech and movement under sunlight. It is unknown how Sauron the Enemy managed to breed them - though it is stated by an Ent that Trolls were "made in mockery of" Ents, similarly to the way that Orcs were bred from captured and tormented Elves. It is not known how serious this hint is intended to be, as Tolkien did not discuss in detail the ways in which "good" beings could be corrupted to evil.

In the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett, Trolls are large creatures who are composed of rock. They have a tendency towards violence, and their intelligence is inversely proportional to the temperature, making them quite unintelligent in warm climates.

In the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, trolls are tall and skinny monsters with large, pointy noses and green skin. In D&D, trolls steadily regenerate all damage unless it is caused by acid or fire. (This version of troll originated with the Poul Anderson story Three Hearts and Three Lions.)

In the Earthdawn role-playing game, trolls are a tall, muscular and honorable race which players can role-play. Earthdawn trolls have curling horns like goats, lots of body hair and enlarged lower canines.

In the world of Harry Potter, trolls are giant monsters that kill everyone they encounter. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Harry and Ron save Hermione from a full-grown mountain troll. There are a few other subsequent mentions of trolls; for example it was rumored that Harry's Firebolt, which Dolores Umbridge "confiscated" was guarded by troll. In the film, the troll was animated with computer-generated imagery.

In the TV mini-series The 10th Kingdom, trolls are the ruling race of the 3rd kingdom, having large pointy ears and noses wild hair, poor intelligence and a love of shoes and leather.

Troll dolls

A much more harmless variant of trolls are troll dolls, a type of toy doll that became a fad after its creation in 1959 by Danish Woodcutter Thomas Dam. Although retaining the fabled ugliness of trolls, troll dolls are also cute and cuddly, according to some tastes.