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Who are you calling limbless?

A Snake Person, Naga, or Lamia is a liminal being usually depicted with a human head, arms and torso with the added twist of a snake's tail similar in many respects to a mermaid, centaur, and some genies. Beings like this can also involve more exotic bodily configurations such as wings or changing the ratio of snake to human. Also, for some reason[1], most examples are female.

Most of the time such Snake People are depicted as slithering upright like a cobra (as in, a cobra who's about to strike) instead of slithering face-down with their whole body.

Medusa is occasionally depicted this way.

Snake People may have some aquatic ability as well, either being superior swimmers or actually able to breathe underwater, in which case they would be a subtrope of Unscaled Merfolk, with the best of both worlds. They may or may not talk in Sssssnaketalk. Similarly, They are often evil because Reptiles Are Abhorrent, but like many other Cute Monster Girls, Dark Is Not Evil may come into play. Or they were already villains who just turned into snakes.

Traditionally, Lamia was a Lybian queen who ate children, but John Keats might have turned her into a snake woman even though she wasn't originally, possibly combining her with Lilith, who was associated with the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

In Hinduism and Hindu Mythology, Nagas (more properly nagin or nagini if a female) are a very diverse group of snake-related entities, ranging from nature spirits to gods. Perhaps influencing the number of Snake People who are Multi-Armed and Dangerous.

Compare with Lizard Folk, The Reptilians, and Gorgeous Gorgon when the Snake Person is hot. Because Snakes Are Sexy, this happens quite often.

Examples of Snake People include:

Anime & Manga

  • The title protagonist of Vampire Princess Miyu fights against a terrifying snake woman in one of the episodes of the TV series.
  • Inuyasha has the twins Kinka and Ginka, who have human-looking torsos and very long snake tails which end up encircling each other's. They are from a species of Youkai always hatching with two heads, but usually with the stronger one devouring the other head early on.
    • The early villainess Mistress Centipede was a centipede variation
  • In Pet Shop of Horrors, one of the very first "pets" was a basilisk that looked like a beautiful snake woman. This particular variety was albino — but looking into her eyes meant instant death.
  • In Claymore, Ophelia's Awakened form looks like one of these, only she has what are like gigantic blades coming out of her human-looking back.
  • In Naruto, Orochimaru, and later Kabuto as well.

Comic Books

  • Minor Spider-Man villain Yith.
  • Hellboy's Hecate turns into one.
  • There is an obscure Marvel Comics villain called Slither who is, as you might guess, a snake-man.

Films — Animation

Films — Live-Action

  • Medusa in Clash of the Titans (1981 and 2010).
  • In The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, an evil magician temporarily combines a woman and a snake to create a four-armed woman with a snake's tail.
  • Beetlejuice: Snake!Beetlejuice, except with no arms.
  • The Golden Child. The woman who gives information from behind a screen turns out to have a lower body consisting of several long tails. You see, one of her ancestors was raped by a dragon....
  • The vampires from The Lair of the White Worm hover between this and Lizard Folk.
  • Star Wars has Thisspiasians, specifically Oppo Rancisis in the background of the Jedi Council scenes in the first two prequels.
    • The expanded universe also had other lesser known snake-like races such as the Ipharian-Da'Lor, who had a similar body structure to the Thisspiasians minus the excess facial hair and second pair of arms.


  • Fighting Fantasy
    • One of the many oddities/dangers of Port Blacksand is the so-called Serpent Queen, a woman whose head and neck have been replaced with those of a giant snake.
    • The supplement Out of the Pit describes the Caarth (and their elite warriors, the Serpent Guards), a whole civilization of Snake People living in the endless desert wastes of the world of Titan. They're rumored to be responsible of the curse laid on the Serpent Queen.
  • In the Lone Wolf series, Darklord Taktaal is described as having the body of a snake, covered by disease-ridden hair. He also has clawed hands and a smooth, ice-white head with a muzzle filled with rows of razor-sharp fangs.


  • A naga-like one of these (called "Man-Serpents", having human heads with snakes for hair on purely serpent bodies, to differentiate themselves from "Serpent-Men", who have scaly human bodies with the heads of snakes) appears in the Conan the Barbarian story "The God in the Bowl," sent in a large jar to a man who dabbled with secrets he shouldn't have touched.
  • There are no nagas in Harry Potter. However, the legend may be known — Voldemort's snake familiar is called Nagini, which is either a reference to the naga or to Kipling.
  • Xanth, Fantasy Kitchen Sink that it is, is home to a race of Nagas, the princess of which ends up as a Love Interest to one of the characters.
  • In the Star Trek Novel Verse, there's a race known as Resaurians, who are essentially snakes with upper grasping limbs. They're usually quite friendly.

Live-Action TV

  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
    • Episode "The Wrong Path". The title character fights the She Demon, which has the upper half of a woman and the lower half of a snake.
    • Echidna, the Mother of All Monsters (and specifically of the She-Demon) also appears half woman/half snake. Sort of, but it's a bit of a stretch. She had serpent tails/tentacles for her arms and legs, but she did have two of them coming out of her hips.
  • One of these appeared briefly in Sanctuary, a cunning predator that had been accidentally released in the Sanctuary.
  • Machida, the snake-thing from "Reptile Boy" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer counts...he had a humanoid head and arms, and the rest was all snake.

Myths & Religion

  • Hinduism
    • The king of Nagas is either the Vedic god of storms, Varuna, or a being called the Nagaraja, and they live in the seventh underworld, Patala, its capital known as Bogavat. They are nature spirits associated with water — rainfall, lakes, rivers, wells, seas and springs — and will bring droughts and floods if provoked.
    • Naga occur frequently in the Mahabharata. Even though the text proclaims them to be the "persecutors of all creatures" and they are powerful, poisonous creatures that are hellbent on biting other creatures, the naga we see in the story vary between good and evil.
    • The Buddhist tradition, on the other hand, tends to associate the naga with whatever dragon-like deity exists in the local culture, such as the Chinese long or Tibetan klu. The Buddhist naga is usually depicted as a cobra, sometimes with several heads, or as a human with a snake behind its head, indicating that it shapeshifted into a human form. The most famous naga in Buddhism is Mucalinda, the naga that protected the Buddha. When you see the Buddha meditating under the hood of a coiled cobra, that is Mucalinda.
  • Echinda, the mother of all monsters from Greek Mythology, is something of this. She's depicted as having anywhere from one to two snake tails. She is technically called a dragon-lady or drakaina, but she comes close to being this.
    • The story of Lamia, Queen of Libya, a woman driven to eat her children, sometimes depicts the titular character as half snake.
    • Also Kekrops, an early king of Athens who was depicted as being Closer to Earth by having the lower body of a snake.
  • In Thailand, the Naga is a Pluto-analogue, an underworld deity associated with wealth. Another related being is a dragon that lives in the Mekong River, where the Naga Fireball phenomenon occurs.
  • The Malay believe nagas are multiple-headed dragons.
  • Laosians view the naga as sea serpents with beaks.
  • Cambodians believe they are descended from the daughter of the King of the Nagas, a race of snake creatures with a vast empire under the Pacific Ocean. Seven-headed Nagas decorate Angkor Wat, hinting at this union.
  • In Chinese Mythology the primordial goddess Nuwa, who created humans, is often depicted with the body of a serpent and the head of a woman.
  • Speaking of the Chinese, there's always Madame White Snake and her sister. They even had a Western opera done up in Boston.
  • Melusine was supposed to have been like this, though they are often depicted with two tails instead of the standard one.
  • The snake-headed Roman deity Glycon, worshipped by Alan Moore, is closer to the trope, as are certain depictions of the serpent in the garden of Eden, sometimes shown with a woman's head.
  • Nure-onna are Youkai in Japanese folklore that have a woman's face and a serpent's body.

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons and Dragons
    • Nagas (snake with a human head) and Marilith demons (Always Female, human head and torso, snake tail, and six arms; pictured above).
    • The yuan-ti mix human and snake features to a varying extent, ranging from almost entirely human with a few snakelike parts to being entirely snakelike.
    • And the Lillend, a rare explicitly good-aligned example, who has wings along with the female human torso & arms.
    • Then there are the Salamanders, who are a fire-version of this (they have arms, reptillian heads however).
    • The Jarkung in Dragon magazine #14 and #37. Snake-like body, 2 arms, long tail with a knob on the end.
    • Medusae are fully humanoid Snake People, having no tails, but definately reptilian features, scaly skin and, of course, snakes for hair.
  • The Followers of Set in Vampire: The Masquerade acquire the power to become this at advanced levels.
  • Earthdawn
    • The Horror named Ysrthgrathe in the supplement Scourge Unending.
    • Earthdawn also has its own Nagas, as seen in Creatures of Barsaive.
  • The Lexicon (Atlas of the Lost World of Atlantis). The tropical jungle of Yallock had the Nagaraja, who were half human, half serpent.
  • One of the races (and a former playable faction) in Legend of the Five Rings,the Naga are an ancient race of snake-folk. Despite their alien nature (and the assumption of many characters early on that they were demons) the Naga were dedicated to the destruction of The Foul (their race's term for creatures of the Shadowlands and Lying Darkness).
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the Nagah weresnakes turn into this in their warforms. Unlike most examples, this is not meant to be sexualized; similar to other werecreatures in the game, their heads are fully snakelike, and their humanoid torsos have the same scale pattern as the rest of them.
  • In Changeling: The Dreaming, merfolk from House Melsinee have the lower halves of airbreathing sea creatures, which can include snakes.
  • Feng Shui has the Snake Men, just one of the many demons the Lotus like to summon, which are not to be confused with Ascended-style transformed snakes, which are descended from snakes which transformed themselves into humans.
  • The Lemurians in the Freedom City setting for Mutants and Masterminds. Evil snake-men who worship an Eldritch Abomination.
  • Bulldogs! features the naga-like Saldrallans, who are not only one of the core player races, but make up one of the setting's two rival empires.
  • Vennominaga from the Yugioh Card Game.

Video Games

  • Lamia, the first boss in The Battle of Olympus.
  • Deis/Bleu from the Breath of Fire series.
  • Ever Quest 2: The Nizari. There's also the Onaya and Ca'Na as aquatic variations.
  • Warcraft 3's naga are this. The males are more monstrous, the females more human-like with four arms.
    • They show up again in most beachside zones of World of Warcraft
    • There are also venomlords, trolls who have overdosed on the mojo of their native snake Loa (animal spirit) and turn into a more realistic looking snake naga than the actual nagas (who look more dragon-like than snake-like).
  • The Forgotten from Guild Wars Prophecies and the Nagas from Factions.
  • The Final Fantasy series occasionally includes Lamia as an enemy type.
    • The upgraded version are often called Liliths.
    • The very first game has the Fiend of Fire, Kary/Marilith as a powerful, multi-limbed snake person. It's the game's second Wake Up Call Boss (the first being Astos).
  • A great deal of these exist in Shin Megami Tensei — naga (usually portrayed as male), lamia, gorgons... Shin Megami Tensei II even had Betelguise in snake-person form as a boss.
  • The aptly named Snakemen from X-COM: Enemy Unknown. They are infamous among X-Com veterens, mostly in part of their race's terror unit, the Chryssalid.
  • The Sanctuary faction introduced in Heroes of Might and Magic VI. Also Nagas and Medusas from earlier games.
  • The RPG Arx Fatalis featured a friendly race of snake-women who served as librarians and advisors to the king. They were not all good though: the human princess was demanded to join them without giving her (or her father, the king) much say in the matter.
  • Age of Mythology depicts Medusae this way, and gives them a bow as well. That sounds familliar...
  • Casey Lynch in her Warrior Form in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

Web Comics

  • Several Dungeons and Dragons-inspired webcomics features the races of Snake People mentionned above.
  • In The Wotch, both the title character and the writer Anne Onymous have been portrayed as shapechanged into the form of a naga.
  • Nagas (both armed and armless) are just one of the local species of Petting Zoo People in Crossworlds. Apparently both male and females have Non-Mammal Mammaries. All There in the Manual, or at least in the background information on the site: the naga have a caste system, and a naga's status is based on the number of arms, with the eight-armed being the leaders down to the two-armed being the peasants, and armless being an "untouchable" caste. Armless Naga gain telekinesis to allow them to manipulate objects and are commonly gifted with sorcery.
  • Brooke from Eerie Cuties, of the shapeshifting kind. She's a Melusine.
  • In Meat Shield, the inhabitants of Vedris, the City of Serpents. Extract from the Encyclopedia Ardrisia:

 The Church of Vasra, God of Serpents and Secrets, is headquartered here. Long ago, a fundamentalist movement in Vedris prompted the faithful to undergo magical transformations into snake-human hybrids to prove their devotion. This magical alteration has bred true and now nearly 50% of the population are snakepeople.


Web Original

Western Animation

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