Did you know that most of the fictional stories you hear about today actually originate from some kind of myth, legend, or folktale that is hundreds or thousands of years old?

It’s true!

In fact, most of the heroes, villains, and other types of fictitious creatures you see portrayed throughout our popular culture has evolved from the fables and superstitions of our ancestors.

But that’s cool with us!

Things that don’t exist are always fun to ponder about — and they’re even more fun to see!

That’s why the team at Displate compiled an amazing list of artworks (submitted by our artist community) that depict the world’s most legendary and imaginative characters amongst other things that don’t exist!

Now…

Some of the artworks you’re going to see in this list will make you wonder, some will inspire you, while others will simply make you laugh and smile.

You might even learn a thing or two!

So go ahead…

You can sit back, relax, and start scrolling now.

Let the art show begin!

1. Dragons

dragon
Eva Nev - Red Dragon

Characterized as winged, horned, and capable of breathing fire, dragons have unknown origins but are believed to come from the ancient Greek and Samarian mythologies.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these flying snake-like creatures in the Game Of Thrones, The Hobbit, and (technically) in The Neverending Story, too. Falcor anyone?

Here are a few modern interpretations of dragons by the artists on Displate!

dragon pink
Arthur Tribuzi - Dream Dragon
two dragons
Marine Loup - Two Dragons
fire dragon
Teodora Dimova - A digital painting

More dragon art you should check out on Displate:

Grzegorz Rutkowski - The Last One
dragon king
Fran Fdez - The Dragon King
Susana Conde - The Rider's Awakening

2. Wizards

gandalf
Apocalypticaboy - Gandalf

Characterized as powerful, wise, and grey-bearded men with magical powers, wizards are said to most likely have their origins set in Nordic mythology.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these mystical sorcerers as Merlin, Gandalf, and even Dr. Strange.

Here are a few modern interpretations of wizards by the artists on Displate!

Leonardo Ruzza - Warlock
wizard
Valerio De Cristofaro - The Wizard
Eden Design - Steamforce Emperor

More wizard art you should check out on Displate:

wizard
Hussain Ghandi - Dr Gandalf
warlock
Tomas Duchek - Warlock
wizard funny
Carlos Valmont - Trust me wizard

3. Mermaids

mermaid
Medusa Dollmaker - Mermaid

Characterized as beautiful, playful, and kind (though sometimes dangerous), the half-woman half-fish creatures known as mermaids kept the oceans a mysterious place for apparently the entire world, as several stories about them appear in many different cultures. 

Interestingly, the first accounts of mermaids derive from ancient Assyria, so its assumed people believed in them as early as the 25th century BC.

In popular culture, you can see these lovely-looking aquatic beings in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey; Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and the Chronicles of Narnia series.

Here are a few modern interpretations of mermaids by the artists on Displate!

mermaid
Diogo Verissimo - Sweet Allure
mermaid artwork
Happy D. - Forbidden Cove
Liza Sou - Pisces

More mermaid art you should check out on Displate:

colorful mermaid
Mat Miller - The Last Mermaid
vintage mermaid
Eva Nev - Vintage Mermaid
water nymph
Stevyn Llewellyn - Water Nymph

4. Goblins

goblin
Sami Saramäki - Goblin

Characterized as secretive, greedy, and mischievous, goblins seem to have originated in Medieval Europe, perhaps as early as the 5th century.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these tiny troll-like creatures in RuneScape, Dragon Ball Z, and Harry Potter.

Here are a few modern interpretations of goblins by the artists on Displate!

goblin art
Logan Walden - A Secret Place
Eran Fowler - Safe Passage
goolin
Blizzard - King Towaggle

More mermaid art you should check out on Displate:

goblin
Andrew Tran - Gluttony
goblin
Kalon Luong - Kra The Goblin Master
goblin
Matt Corrigan - The Annotated Goblin

5. Cyborgs

cyborg
Andrew Lowthian - Cyborg2

Characterized as evolutionarily advanced people who are made of both biological and artificial body parts, cyborgs were first conceptualized by scientists in the 1960’s.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these futuristic characters today as Darth Vader, RoboCop, or the Master Chief himself. 

In popular culture, you can see representations of these futuristic characters today as Darth Vader, RoboCop, or the Master Chief himself. 

Here's a few modern interpretations of cyborgs by the artists on Displate!

cyborg girl
Pigboom Kaboom - Cyberpunk Girl
cyborg
Esteban Lenquette - Japanese Cyborg
cyborg
Jorge Chipuli - Marisol

More cyborg art you should check out on Displate:

cyborg
Victor Calahan - Cyborg 1
dc cyborg
DC Comics - Cyborg
cyborg
Mudge Studios - Future Of Mankind

6. Unicorns

space unicorn
James Booker - Space Unicorn

Characterized as pretty, majestic, and otherworldly, unicorns and their single spiraled horn have risen to fame from Persian stories of the 4th century BC. While it turns out that beasts with one-horns did actually exist at one point in time, they weren’t presented as magical beings like unicorns are today, nor were they as aesthetically pleasing.

In popular culture, you can see this legendary equestrian creature pop up in hundreds of funny internet memes, children’s shows like My Little Pony, and in a highly rated fantasy novel called The Last Unicorn.

Here are a few modern interpretations of unicorns by the artists on Displate!

colorful unicorn
Sauzet Benoit - Unicorn Psy
cute unicorn
MJ Da Luz - Cute Unicorn
unicorn
James Banks - Unicorn in the rain

More unicorn art you should check out on Displate:

unicorn
Paola Abril - Road to the Olympus
unicorn
Dolphins DreamDesign - Unicorn Smile
kawaii unicorn
vp trinidad - Kawaii Unicorn

7. Magic Genies

genie illustration
Create or Destroy - Your wish is my command

Characterized as helpful, magical, ghostly creatures who grant people’s wishes on command in Western culture, magic genies are first seen in Arabian mythology around 1000 BC and were called jinn, which were seen as wind and fire spirits powerful enough to possess any human.

In popular culture, you can see these supernatural shapeshifters appear in The Thousand And One Nights, I Dream Of Jeannie, and DC Comics (and of course, Disney’s Aladdin).

Here are a few modern interpretations of fairies by the artists on Displate!

genie
Adriena Lehocka - A Wish
genie in morocco
Jeffrey Lim - Welcome to Morocco
pinup genie
Fiamma Lavarone - Pin-up Jennie

More magic genie or jinn art you should check out on Displate:

genie
Noel DelMar - Genie
genie
Andrzej Rybus - Djinn
genie poster
Fraulein Fisher - I Dream of Jeannie

8. Vampires

vampire
Matt Corrigan - Nosferatu

Characterized as fang-toothed, undead, and always thirsty for blood, vampires make their first historical appearance in 17th century Eastern Europe.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these immortal bloodsuckers today as Count Dracula, Nosferatu, and the most badass vampire of them all, Blade.

Here are a few modern interpretations of vampires by the artists on Displate!

dracula
Marcus Hislop - Dracula II
Strahd von Zarovich
Andrzej Rybus - Strahd von Zarovich
nosferatu
John Schwegel - Nosferatu

More vampire art you should check out on Displate: 

dracula
Robotic Ewe - Dracula
nosferatu
Colo Art - Nosferatu Retro
vampire rolling stones
Lady Rosegold - Rolling vampire

9. Phoenix

orange phoenix
Alphonso Navas - Phoenix

Characterized by transformation, strength, and immortality, the firebird known as the Phoenix is believed to come from stories of the Ancient Greeks. At that time in history, some artworks endowed them with halos to show the birds’ connection with the sun.

In popular culture, you can see these colorful symbolic figures of rebirth arise in stories like X-Men, Harry Potter, and in some of the plays of William Shakespeare.

Here are a few modern interpretations of Phoenix by the artists on Displate!

Daniel Ignacio - Phoenix Rising
colorful phoenix
Rebecca Wang - Chinese Phoenix Bird
phoenix
Mat Miller - Phoenix

More Phoenix art you should check out on Displate:

phoenix
Steve Maddock - Rebirth
phoenix wing
Kathryn Ferguson - Phoenix Wing
phoenix
Chris Morton - Phoenix

10. Mecha

metcha
Andrea Gatti - Guncannon in Turin

Characterized as Godzilla-sized robots operated and manned by humans for epic battles, the concept of mecha seems to have originated from kamishibai, a form of street theater and storytelling that was popular in the 1930’s Japan.

In popular culture, you can see these gigantic fighting machines in Gundam, Power Rangers, and in many anime comics and films.

Here are a few modern interpretations of mecha by the artists on Displate!

mecha illustration
Travis Bentley - Genesis Climber Akira
gundam
Prayudhie Arie Bimo - Gundam
mecha
Aion Agustin - Transformers Galvatron

More mecha art you should check out on Displate:

sinanju
Vito Fabrizio Brugnola - Sinanju
mecha
Daniel Clark - 0079
evangelion
Eden Design - Evangelion

11. Elves

elf illustration
Barrett Biggers - Elf

Characterized as magical, charming, pointy-eared little people who live in the hills of forest kingdoms or inside of miniature shoe-houses, elves make their first historical appearance in Norse mythology.

In popular culture, you can see these fun and mystical fantasy species appear in a book called Eragon, several books and movies by J.R.R Tolkien, and tons and tons of Christmas stories.

Here are a few modern interpretations of elves by the artists on Displate!

elf
Saphira Art - Sylmara
elf queen
Paulina Forys - Elven Queen
elf
Ben Pipers - Elf

More elvish art you should check out on Displate:

elf
Lukas Siegmon - Elf
jeshanna
Matthew Fletcher - Jeshanna
night elf
Kirsten Star - Night Elf

12. Orcs

orc
Frederick Matzen - Orc

Characterized as barbaric giants with monstrous faces and snarling teeth, orcs were created by the author of the Lord Of The Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien. However, a variation of the word ‘orcneas’ (monsters) is found in the poem Beowulf which was written much earlier between the 8th and 11th century, so the original conception of orcs is still up for debate.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these green-skinned beasts in Lord Of The Rings, World of Warcraft, and Skyrim.

Here are a few modern interpretations of orcs by the artists on Displate!

orc
Retina Creative - Orcish Raider
orcish
Matthew Fletcher - Myev the Orcish

More orcish art you should check out on Displate:

orc
Andrzej Rybus - Gruumsh the OneEyed
battle of orcs
Grzegorz Rutkowski - Battle of the Ovelrlords
orc
Grzegorz Rutkowski - Orc Overlord

13. Fairies

flower fairy
Anne-Julie Aubry - The Flower Fairy

Characterized as miniature, flying, human-like creatures who often call the woodlands their home, fairies may have originated from 13th century England but have also been traced to multiple other sources, too.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these small magical creatures in the stories of Peter Pan, Cinderella, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

Here are a few modern interpretations of fairies by the artists on Displate!

fairy
Happy D. - Periphery
fairy
Gwenola de Munalt - Fairy
fairy spring
Ian Ambrose - Fairy Spring

More fairy art you should check out on Displate:

fairy sculpture
Marilla Sicilia - Fairy
fairy
Darren Barnett - Bored Fairy
fairy
Francesca Dafne Vignaga - The fairy of light

14. Witches

witch
Bobbie Berendson - Ezlynn

Characterized as wrinkly old women who wear pointy hats and fly around on broomsticks, witches’ origins are unknown. However, some historical reports have indicated the notion of witches comes from harvesting rituals held during Medieval times.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these magical enchantresses in The Wizard Of Oz, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and Hocus Pocus.

Here are a few modern interpretations of witches by the artists on Displate!

anime witch
Rem Arts - Crimson Wizard Megumin
white witch
Eran Fowler - Witch of the white wood
witch
Teodora Dimova - The Witches' Ball

More witch art you should check out on Displate:

witch orange
Medusa Dollmaker - Herb Witch
witch
Space Evie - Spirit Speaker
witch
Jan Mares - Goodbye

15. The Grim Reaper

Mort by Pigboom Kaboom

Characterized as a dark and mysterious hooded skeletal figure who carries around a scythe, the legendary Grim Reaper can be traced back to Greek mythology where he was first known as Thanatos, the lord of death. The name carries a nice ring to it.

In popular culture, you can see representations of this omen and relentless soul collector in Scream, Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life, and a cartoon version in The Simpsons.

Here are a few modern interpretations of the Grim Reaper by the artists on Displate!

Sons of Anarchy by Jonathan Summers
Grim Reaper Motorcycle by Aloke Design

More Grim Reaper art you should check out on Displate:

Insert Soul by David Cano
Sinner Grim Reaper by Nikhil Kochrekar
I Steal Heart by Polkadothero Studio

16. The Kraken

The Fisherman by Gema MT

Characterized as a colossal, monstrous, squid-like sea monster that terrorizes ships and sailors, the Kraken is based on a written account documented by the King of Norway in 1180. But it’s still just a myth.

In popular culture, you can see this legendary leviathan in Magic: The Gathering, The Pirates of The Caribbean, and in Alfred Tennyson’s poem from 1830, ‘The Kraken,” which describes a titan-sized sea creature that dwells at the bottom of the ocean.

Here are a few modern interpretations of the Kraken by the artists on Displate!

Be Careful What You Fish For
A Bad Day For Sailors by Nic Squirrell
Flooded by Rendra Sy

More Kraken art you should check out on Displate:

Underwater Dream IV by SpaceFrog Designs
The Kraken Tentacles by Clemence Brousse
Crazy Kraken by John Poh

17. Zombies

I Am Zombie by Mark Kelly

Characterized as a reawakened corpse with an insatiable appetite for human brains, the idea of zombies first came alive in the writings of the Ancient Greeks, perhaps as early as the year 800 BC.

In popular culture, you can see representations of these unrestful flesh-eaters today in The Walking Dead, Shaun Of The Dead, and 28 Days Later.

Here are a few modern interpretations of zombies by the artists on Displate!

Creepypasta Zombie by Matt Corrigan
Joy Ride by Rael Mitchel Dosdos

More zombie art you should check out on Displate:

Brains by Mariek MaComiX Cerny
’m A Zombie by Yumir Canelones

And Just For Fun! …

11 Awesome Things That Also Don’t Exist

Galaxy Deer

galaxy deer
Jonas Jodicke - Celestial

Giant Monsters

giant
Jakub Rozalski - At the end of the world

Cute Monsters

cute monsters
Marianna Tankelevich - Levitating Monsters

One Ring To Rule The World

lord of the rings
Retina Creative - The Lord Of The Rings

Upside Down World

bw upside down
Stoian Hitrov - The Upside Down

Flying Pigs Making Sandwiches

flying pigs
Steve Wilson - Make Me A Sandwich

Ghost Ice Cream

ghost icecream
durung kapok - ghost ice cream

French Fries City

french fries city
Dina Prasetyawan - French Fries City

Smiling Tacos

smiling tacos
vp trinidad - Kawaii Tacos

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