The Scorpion and the Frog fable is always mentioned in television and film, but the question is, what is the Scorpion and the Frog fable? And, where did it come from? 

The frog and the scorpion fable

Knowing the background of the Scorpion and the Frog fable is seen as pretty important in the filmmaking industry as it’s so widely used in screenwriting. 

We look at the importance of the fable and why it’s so often used within screenwriting. It’s an intriguing concept with a lot of depth to it.

In today’s article, we will delve into the world of the Scorpion and the Frog fable, with definitions, examples and much, much more. Let’s get into it!

What is the Scorpion and the Frog fable?

What is the Scorpion and the Frog fable?

The Scorpion and the Frog fable is based on the idea that some people in this world cannot stop themselves from hurting others, even though it’s not actually in their own interest to hurt that person. 

An overview of the Scorpion and the Frog is that the scorpion wants to cross the river, but the scorpion cannot swim. It then asks the frog if it can swim across with the scorpion on its back. 

The Frog is pretty hesitant, fearing that the scorpion will sting it – but the scorpion allays any fear by saying that they’d both drown if it were to sting the frog. 

The frog feels that it’s a reasonable request and lets the scorpion hop onto its back. As they reach halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog asks, “why did you sting me, knowing I’d die and we’d both drown?” and the scorpion replies, “because it’s in my nature, so I couldn’t help it”. 

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Where did the Scorpion and the Frog fable originate? 

It originated from Russia in the early 20th century from what we could piece together from our resources. The first time the Scorpion and Frog fable was used in storytelling was in 1933, by the Russian novel, The German Quarter, by Lev Nitoburg.

The fable was made famous by a movie, not the book The German Quarter. The movie goes by the name of Mr. Arkadin

These were the first instances in history where the Scorpion and the Frog fable was recounted.  

What is the moral of the Scorpion and the Frog fable?

What is the moral of the Scorpion and the Frog fable?

The moral of the Scorpion and the Frog fable is that scorpions, humans have a compulsion to act upon something even though it’s in pretty bad faith.

It’s the compulsion to do something that you full well know is wrong. It’s detrimental to your day, relationship, or career, but you have the overbearing feeling that makes you act compulsively. 

It also shows that there is a trusting side to people, potentially even over-trusting, but what remains stable is that you must know someone incredibly well to trust them completely. 

This fable lends itself to storytelling incredibly well. It helps you develop your story and mould your characters, and produce exciting character arcs and character development.

This perfectly suits the hero’s journey and lends itself to Dan Harmon’s Story Circle – a modified version of the hero’s journey. There’s an element of change when your hero’s looking to change for the good; however, this doesn’t work out for the best.

Usually, in dramas, the hero is held back by a compulsive move, or even a close ally who they trusted but got screwed by.

An Example of the Scorpion and the Frog fable in film

Here are a couple of instances where the Scorpion and the Frog fable has been recounted and used in the modern-day film. 


This is a pretty cool example of the Scorpion and Frog fable. One of the most iconic in recent times. Where Ryan Gosling portrays the role of “The Scorpion”. 

He’s in the role of supposedly rescuing people, but his character has the compulsion to “Sting”. It’s an interesting watch and adds a lot of depth to the character. 

Check out the breakdown of the Scorpion and the Frog theory by OuchMyBrainz down below:

How to use the Scorpion and Frog fable in your next film

You can use it in the initial stages of your story development. The idea stage is perfect for developing a story using the Scorpion and Frog fable. 

Look at the characters you’re developing and ask yourself whether they’d suit a Scorpion and Frog style – do you have a self-destructive character? Could they suit the Scorpion way of life? Or are they more of a trustworthy Frog, setting themselves up to be befriended then ultimately have their trust ruined to the highest degree? 

It’s all around the idea stage, is their place for this fable to be remodelled? If so – it makes for an interesting watch. You can build tension and leave the audience on the edge of their seats feeling betrayed by that shitbag of a scorpion!

We hope this article on “The Scorpion and the Frog fable” has been helpful to you. Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments. Scroll down a little further for our latest screenwriting resources and articles!

Happy filmmaking 🙂