An imp is a mythological being similar to a fairy, frequently described in folklore and superstition.
They are usually described as lively dark, shadowy creatures having small stature. They are usually, but not invariably, assigned male gender.
The attendants of the devil and familiars of witches called Familiars are sometimes described as imps. This is the result of the demonization of creatures of folklore by the Church. Imps are sometimes described as a subunit of a pack of Brownies, but also to describe certain children's behaviour. The Japanese Kappa is often considered to be a type of water dwelling imp.
Usually described as mischievous more than seriously threatening, they slink or skitter about, running from one pool of shadow to another. The trickery ascribed to them is, generally, confined to missing, misplaced, or moved articles (socks, keys, etc.) and stubbed toes.
Some accounts of imps claim that they are desperately lonely, and always travel in pairs or in mobs. Some accounts of imps treat them as capable of being turned to good, because they are so desperately lonely they would do almost anything — even commit good deeds — to have a committed friend; however, it is regarded as almost impossible for any imp to fully forsake its "impish" ways.
Imps are sometimes described as fond of music, and capable of being charmed into making a promise to aid, and "do good" in that manner through music — though there is always likely to be some mischievous trick to be attached to the barter.
Art / Fiction
- The Lincoln Imp at the Lincoln Cathedral in Lincoln, Lincoln,England is a famous sculpture of an imp.
- The Imp is one of the enemies in Doom. They are human-sized, muscular, brown creatures with large claws and a gaping maw. In the game, they shoot out fire balls at long range and scratch enemies at close range.
- Imps are commonly featured in the Final Fantasy series of RPGs and were synonymous with goblins early in the series (most likely the result of a mistranslation). They are also featured in other RPGs such as Chrono Trigger and the Seiken Densetsu (Secret of Mana) series.
- Imps are also featured in Warcraft as warlock's pets.
- Impmon from the anime series, Digimon Tamers, is clearly based on the archetypal image of an imp in both appearance and attitude (i.e. causing mischief on humans and fellow digimons), although his ability to interfere with electronic equipment is more akin to the nature of a gremlin.
- The cartoon series She-Ra had an imp, suitably named "Imp" as one of its main villains. Possessed of a mischevious nature and the ability to shape-change, Imp was an almost constant companion to the show's primary villain, Hordak. In the series Imp often used his abilities to either gather intel for the Horde or cause mischief amongst the Great Rebellion. It should be noted that, while he seemed to dislike his other teammates, he also seemed very attached to Hordak, even going so far as to defend him when Hordak was (very) briefly deposed by his former student, Skeletor. It should be noted that in the series, Imp was portrayed with a somewhat demonic appearance, possessing features such as bat-like wings, fanged teeth, and hooves for feet.
- In the fantasy fiction series "A song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin, one of the main characters, Tyrion Lannister, suffering of acondroplasia, is badnamed "The Imp". Besides his height he portraits an acid, vitriolic, sharped wit and a shadowed behaviour.
- Children's animation set in the realm of Dante's Inferno: Imps!