In Norse mythology, a half-elf is the offspring of an elf and a human.

Notable examples include the Danish princess Skuld of "Hrólf Kraki's saga" (her elven mother was raped by the Danish king Helgi), the hero Högni of the "Thidrekssaga" (his mother was a human queen), and the royal line of Alfheim, which was related to the elves and more beautiful than other people, according to the "Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar".

In other contexts

The concept was borrowed by English author J. R. R. Tolkien for his fantasy writings, who in turn popularized the concept in the field, which recurred in other writings and related material such as role-playing games. Unlike the case in some other fantasy worlds, Tolkien's Half-elven or "Peredhil" are not a distinct race "per se", being only comprised of a few related individuals throughout history.

Writers have often featured Half-elves for their combination of human strength with elvish wisdom and have often been portrayed as outcasts from either society. Half-elves in fantasy are often categorized as anti-heroes.Fact|date=June 2008

Half-elves are featured in "Dungeons & Dragons" and related material. The main character of the initial "Dragonlance" series, Tanis Half-Elven, is a half-elf, as befits his name. In the "Dungeons & Dragons" Eberron campaign setting, half-elves consider themselves a separate people from humans and elves both and "breed true"; they bear the dragonmarks of Storm and Detection.

The main protagonist of Terry Brooks' The Sword of Shannara is a half-elf, Shea Ohmsford. The Ohmsford heroes and heroines of the subsequent books are all descended from him, and later so are the Elven royalty of the Elessedil family.

In the video game "Tales of Symphonia", there is a long-running theme of discrimination against half-elves to the point at which the main villain, Mithos Yggdrasill, feels it necessary to build a new planet for them. In its sequel, "Tales of Phantasia", half-elves are still discriminated against, but their discrimination seems to play a lesser role than it did in "Symphonia".

Some other fantasy stories call beings who are half-human and half another race (usually an elf) halflings; the term in Tolkien's legendarium pertains only to hobbits, a different group of creatures.

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