[[quoteright:332:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/MerlinMiniseries_6545.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:332:]]
A television miniseries released in 1998 that retells the legend of KingArthur from [[PerspectiveFlip the perspective of the wizard]] {{Merlin}}, starring Creator/SamNeill in the title role, Miranda Richardson as the antagonist Queen Mab, Martin Short as her henchman Frik and Creator/HelenaBonhamCarter as Morgan le Fay.

The story covers not only the rise and fall of Camelot, but the phase in the legendary history in Britain that precedes it. Unlike the traditional version where he suffers from MentorOccupationalHazard, Merlin stays active throughout the entire reign of King Arthur, with some details altered to fit the story more from his point of view.

The series is also influenced by other [[CelticMythology Celtic]]/European legends and folklore. It introduces Queen Mab, a fairy first attested in ''Theatre/RomeoAndJuliet'', as the leader of TheFairFolk and the BigBad of the Arthurian legend who manipulates traditional villains Morgan le Fay and Mordred. Other magical creatures like gnomes, griffins and even a talking mountain appear.

The series was followed by a novelization in the form of a trilogy in 1999. In 2006 it received a sequel, ''Merlin's Apprentice'', which had less to do with traditional Arthurian legend, had some {{Continuity Snarl}}s and was not as popular as the first movie.

[[SimilarlyNamedWorks Not related to]] the [[{{Series/Merlin}} 2008 series of the same name]].
----
!!This series contains examples of:

* AbsurdlySharpBlade: Excalibur. So sharp that just parrying a regular sword will cut the lesser weapon in two, which makes you wonder what Mordred's axe was made of/how heavily enchanted it was.
** According to the novelization, the axe was a form of the black sword Caliban, an ArtifactOfDoom that Mab helped Mordred retrieve, which shapeshifted to become a weapon more suitable to Mordred's desires and is an Absurdly Sharp Axe.
* ActingForTwo: Miranda Richardson plays both Mab and her sister, the Lady of the Lake.
* AdaptationExplanationExtrication: Several scenes were deleted for the VHS version. Among them, a description of the workings of magic. This makes it difficult to understand Frik's later comment about Merlin never progressing past being a Hand Wizard. (In case you were wondering, the first level is magic via incantation, the second level is magic via hand gesture, and the third level is magic via thought alone.)
** Back in for the DVD, thankfully.
* AdaptationalVillainy: The few references to Queen Mab in English literature make her out to a benevolent fairy queen. Here, she's a dark pagan goddess (the counterpart of the good pagan goddess the Lady of the Lake).
* AlasPoorVillain: It's a bit hard not to feel for [[spoiler:Queen Mab as she fades from existence along with the last of the world's magic and the Old Ways, crying out for Merlin and Frik to look at her, rasping that she loves Merlin as a son while her voice grows increasingly thin and hoarse]].
* AllMythsAreTrue
* AllThereInTheManual: The novelizations.
* ArrogantKungFuGuy: Mordred
* AmbitionIsEvil: Morgan le Fay is entirely motivated by getting herself closer to the throne.
* AnachronismStew: The setting is closer to the period of the late Roman Empire than most adaptations of the legend, with Iron Age costumes, armor and weapons. However, the terms "knight" and "Sir" are still used.
** The setting is called "England" too early, as the term came into being after the UsefulNotes/AngloSaxons were established as the dominant power in the British Isles instead of the Britons or Celts (now the Welsh). The Saxons are here only stated to be recent arrivals.
** Normandy is also mentioned as the place where Uther gathers his armies against Vortigern. The area gained this name only after year 911, when the Viking Chieftain Rollo was granted the lands to protect them from the rest of the marauding Norsemen.
*** That could just be TranslationConvention, though. Almost all of the place names should really be different, and they wouldn't be speaking modern English with American accents either. Or an Antipodean accent, as in the case of Sam Neill.
** Some of Frik's disguises seem to reflect the future; for example, his dashing swashbuckler-character wears 18th-century clothes and wields a smallsword (yes, a smallsword, not "a small sword") that isn't going to be invented in centuries. But then, Mab does mention that the fairykind sometimes see into the future.
** One of the doctors/astrologers mentions the planet Uranus which wasn't discovered until 1781.
* AnAxeToGrind: Mordred
* AnyoneCanDie
* ArtisticLicensePhysics: Early on, a thrown Saxon axe is seen, remaining level and upright as it travels through the air.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking: Vortigern may be aging, but he is still a deadly force on the battlefield as the king.
* AwesomeMomentOfCrowning: Vortigern makes a horrible subversion early on, by beheading King Constant, picking up the crown and putting it on his own head while smiling in a prideful, self-satisfied way as his soldiers cheer. Uther later delivers a more true moment.
** Curiously averted with Arthur who is not actually crowned onscreen - he draws Excalibur from the stone, Merlin presents him to the lords, then the film cuts to gathering armies because some lords have challenged him for the throne. But Arthur averts a war by giving their leader Excalibur to strike him down if he can. The rebel leader feels the magic of the sword and declares Arthur to be the true king.
* BadassBoast
** Vortigern apparently (and amusingly appropriately) didn't seem to think his through:
-->'''Vortigern:''' You're too slow, like my enemies. They think before they act. I act before I think! That is my advantage!
** The Rock of Ages does better:
-->'''The Rock of Ages:''' I '''cannot''' die. I am the Rock of Ages. I will live forever...on the edge of dreams...
** Mordred, in typically chilling fashion.
-->'''Mordred''': I'm sorry, Father, but I'm going to destroy you. And this time, your pet wizard won't save you.
* BadassNormal: Arthur, Uther, Vortigern, Lancelot, [[spoiler:Frik after he loses his powers]]. Special mention also goes to Ambrosia, who declares that if Mab harms Merlin in any way, "Magic or no magic, I'll have her guts for my bootlaces." Arthur in particular goes up against Mordred, a bonafide SuperSoldier, [[spoiler:and still manages to handily defeat him, only getting killed in the process because he hesitates to land the final strike]].
* BastardBastard: Mordred, so very much.
* BeautyIsNeverTarnished: Very, very strongly averted when [[spoiler:Nimue is disfigured with an enormous scar across her face that Merlin cannot heal, after narrowly escaping a dragon]]. ''Ouch''.
* BecauseDestinySaysSo: The Lady of the Lake accepts her impending doom because "It's fate."
* BecauseYouWereNiceToMe: A villainous example. Morgan le Fay converts to the Old Ways simply because they were the only people ever to show her kindness.
* BedTrick: Arthur and Mordred are both conceived in this way.
* BetaCouple: Frik and Morgan le Fay.
* BillingDisplacement: Creator/JohnGielgud receiving prominent billing for his shorter than a minute role as [[TheCaligula King Constant]].
* {{Bishonen}}: Mordred is a rare live-action example.
* BittersweetEnding
* BlackMagic
* BloodOath: Merlin swears not to use his powers except to defeat Queen Mab. To ratchet up the significance, he cuts his hand and lets the blood drip to the ground, in front of Ambrosia's grave, while swearing, "On Ambrosia's grave, and on the grave of my mother." It takes several years, but eventually Mab figures out a way to make him break his oath...
* BodyToJewel: Mab's crystal tear.
* BrotherSisterIncest: Intentionally pulled by Morgan le Fay, who seduces her half-brother Arthur in the guise of a Celtic queen, with the encouragement of Mab and Frik.
* BroughtDownToNormal: [[spoiler:Frik]]
* TheChessmaster: Mab is a brilliant one; always two steps ahead right till the very end.
* ChekhovsSkill: [[spoiler:"I think I have one last trick."]]
* TheChosenOne: Arthur and [[spoiler:Galahad]].
* ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve: If people stop believing in magic, fairies and magical beings, they can no longer affect you.
* CoolHorse: Sir Rupert.
* CoolOldGuy: The Rock of Ages, a pagan elemental deity inexplicably named after an 18th century Christian hymn.
* CoolSword: Glamdring! No, wait, wrong work of fantasy...hold on, I know I've heard of this one...
* CompositeCharacter:
** Morgan le Fay is a composite of both the legendary sorceress and Morgause, Morgan's sister and the true mother of Mordred in the Arthurian Cycle. Every one of Morgan's defining aspects in Medieval tradition (her healing powers, her magical studies under Merlin, her unhappy marriage to King Urien and the resulting lovers she takes from among the knights of Camelot, her rule over Avalon and her taking of Arthur there after the Battle of Camlann) are gone. The character is really Morgause in all but name.
** Lancelot's wife Elaine also counts, as she has traits of two women from Arthurian Mythology who were both named Elaine. On the one hand, she's Lancelot's wife (Elaine of Astolat) and on the other, she's given the fate of the ''other'' Elaine (the Lady of Shalott) what with her vision of Lancelot in a magic mirror and her body floating past Camelot on a funeral barge.
* CourtMage: Merlin
* CruelMercy: A case where it is the ''villain'' doing it to a much less evil character. [[spoiler:Mab takes Frik's magic, leaving him to wander the world as a powerless gnome, with his true love dead, having nothing but his misery and pain, unable to do anything about it. When asked why she didn't kill him, she responds, "Because that's what he wanted me to do."]]
** This backfires on her, though. [[spoiler:Frik takes up arms against Mordred and outlives her and the rest of the Old Peoples]].
* CurbStompBattle: [[spoiler:Vortigern vs. Merlin.]]
* DamselInDistress: Nimue, several times. Inverted in one occasion where she [[spoiler:gets Merlin out of Vortigern's prison with only persuasiveness and the use of her political leverage, while being kept as a hostage herself.]]
* DarkActionGirl: Mab
* DawsonCasting: Sam Neill, who was 51 when the film was released, played Merlin for about two-thirds of the first half of the film and all of the second half. However, it wasn't until the second half that Merlin would have been around that age in-story. (Because of the time skip necessary for Arthur to grow up.) During the entire first half, he was less than half that age. [[EnforcedTrope The reason for this is probably because having Merlin portrayed by an actor of the appropriate age at all times would have left Sam Neill playing Merlin for only one half of the entire film]].
** It helps that Sam Neill looked much younger than he was at the time. He could have passed for about 40 or so.
* DeadpanSnarker: Ambrosia. Merlin, Frik and Mordred also get in on it at times.
* DecapitatedArmy: Vortigern's army surrenders and fighting stops after their king is killed. Of course, he ''was'' killed by a [[JustifiedTrope freakin' wizard using a magical sword to seal him under the surface of a frozen lake]].
* DeceasedParentsAreTheBest
* DeathByChildbirth: Merlin's mother Elissa.
* DemotedToExtra: Galahad, Gawain.
* DialogueReversal: Played for a laugh. Merlin is asked by Morgan Le Fay, eight years old at the time, to show her a magical effect. He performs a coin-behind-the-ear trick. Morgan Le Faye says it isn't real magic, which it usually wouldn't be, and Merlin challenges her to perform it. When she is successful, Merlin's response to her success is to admit: "you're right, ''anyone'' could do it." Interestingly, calling Merlin's coin "just a trick" is itself a MeaningfulEcho of his explanation of the moon trick to Nimue.
* DirtyCoward: Lailoken, Vortigern's soothsayer. Somewhat justified in that he has seen many of Vortigern's previous soothsayers executed.
* DontExplainTheJoke: One of Frik's many quirks.
-->I'll tell you from personal experience that elves are so short, that when it rains...they're the last to know. ''[he and Morgan burst out laughing]'' Because of their size, you see...
** When Mab and Frik come crashing through the entrance to Tintagel:
-->'''Mab:''' We thought we'd come in the traditional way...through the door.
-->'''Merlin:''' [[http://images.wikia.com/uncyclopedia/images/1/13/Thats_the_joke.jpg It's traditional to open it first]].
* DreamingOfThingsToCome: Merlin's ability to tell the future comes in either visions or in dreams.
* DrivenToVillainy: The decline of the Old Ways has forced Mab to abandon her compassion in the desperate struggle to preserve herself and her people.
* EarnYourHappyEnding
* EnemyMine: When Vortigern allies with Mab, Merlin figures that the enemy of the friend of his enemy is his friend, and thus allies himself with Uther, admitting upfront to Uther that this is his reason for joining him.
* EnfantTerrible: Mordred, as a young boy, attempts to throw a knife at Merlin. According to Morgan, it's his way of demanding attention.
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The Duke of Cornwall is referred to simply as "Cornwall." In the actual mythology, his name was given as Gorlois or Hoel.
* EvilMatriarch: Mab
* EvilTwin: Miranda Richardson is ActingForTwo as both Queen Mab and her sister, the Lady of the Lake.
* ExcaliburInTheStone: Excalibur and the Sword in the Stone are portrayed as the same weapon, though both the myth of it being given by a Lady of the Lake and Arthur pulling it from the stone are true. Merlin was given the sword by the Lady of the Lake first, and later plunged it into the Rock of Ages to keep it from Uther, where Arthur eventually drew it from.
* ExcessiveEvilEyeshadow: Mab
* FaceHeelTurn: Lord Lot.
* TheFairFolk: The Fey, of whom Mab is the queen.
* FatalFlaw: For Vortigern, it's his {{Pride}}. For Uther, it's {{Lust}}.
* FlatEarthAtheist: Vortigern takes this approach both to the Christian {{God}} and magic, despite the abundant evidence of the supernatural, and an actual pagan god, staring him in the face.
** Although it's not that he doesn't ''believe'' in them, he just [[NayTheist doesn't ''care'' about either]].
* ForTheEvulz: The only time Mab does something for this reason is when she shows Elaine that Lancelot is committing adultery against her with Guinevere. Frik comments on it.
* FountainOfYouth: One of Merlin's explicit powers.
* FourElementEnsemble: The novelization explicitly says that there are four elemental beings: Mab (Air), The Lady of the Lake (Water), the Rock of Ages (Earth) and the Great Dragon (Fire).
* FreezeFrameBonus: If you slow down the video during the flashing transition between the scene where Merlin confronts Arthur about Morgan and the one where Mab meets Nimue in Avalon, you will see three frames of Mab leaving Camelot after her and Frik's celebratory dance there and just one of Frik sitting alone in the castle afterwards looking sad. (Presumably because he has just handed over Morgan to Arthur.)
* FunctionalMagic: Explained quite a bit more in the novelizations than in the movie.
* GeniusBruiser: Merlin
* GildedCage: Vortigern keeps Nimue in one to make sure her father stays loyal to him.
* GlamourFailure: Uther's magical disguise doesn't affect Morgan, and she realizes who he is almost immediately.
* GodsNeedPrayerBadly: Queen Mab's main motivation. If the old faith continues to decline, she and the rest of her people will die.
* Goth: While not technically one, Mab's appearance is very much reminiscent of [[Film/TheAddamsFamily Morticia Addams]].
* GreenThumb: The first magic that Merlin uses, to pull Nimue out of a mud hole. He later uses the same power again to [[spoiler:defeat a dragon!]]
* GuileHero: Merlin. Nimue also gets into it, managing to convince Vortigern to release Merlin, while being kept as a hostage herself.
* HairTriggerTemper: King Vortigern.
* HalfHumanHybrid: Merlin
* HasTwoMommies: Merlin. Three, counting Ambrosia.
* TheHecateSisters: Though not mentioned in the series, the novelization repeatedly brings up the triple nature of the Celtic goddesses, going so far as to mention that Mab is the only remaining aspect of a triad that was made up of Maiden, Mother and Warrior.
** And when Merlin attempts to make contact with the Maiden aspect, Mab is no longer able to hear, so he instead reaches Nimue. This is before he meets Nimue in person.
** Also present in the women in Merlin's life, Nimue being the Maiden, Elissa the Mother and Ambrosia the Crone.
* HeelFaceTurn: Nimue's father turns against Vortigern and joins Uther when Vortigern attempts to have Nimue sacrificed.
** Lord Lot eventually sees the error of his ways and acknowledges Arthur as king.
* HeroicBastard: Arthur
* HeroicBSOD: Merlin, after he [[spoiler:loses Nimue and Arthur]]. He gets better shortly after.
* HotBlooded: Mordred
* HumansAreFlawed: A recurring theme. Merlin comments about how his largest problem with judging men was that he always expected too much from them and always saw the good in them without seeing the bad. Later, the Lady of the Lake makes a short speech to Merlin after he learned that [[NiceJobBreakingItHero he picked the wrong person to be the guardian of Camelot]]. "It's human to make mistakes, Merlin, and part of you is human...the best part."
* HumansAreBastards: When Merlin asks the Rock of Ages to hold Excalibur "until a good man comes to take it from you," the Mountain King says, "Then I will be holding it forever...if not longer."
* HypocriticalHumor: The Christian ban on killing unless it's a "holy cause", at least according to Vortigern and his court.
-->"How very convenient, they kill when it suits them."
* IfYouKillHimYouWillBeJustLikeHim: As Vortigern kills King Constant and takes his crown in the prologue, Merlin makes some commentary to this general meaning. "One tyrant smoothly passed the crown to another, even worse."
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: Mab
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Subverted, as no one is without their faults and entirely pure. When the Lady of the Lake tells Merlin that he needs to find "a man pure in heart" to protect the throne from Mordred, he quips, "I've tried to find him before. He doesn't exist."
** It turns out this was Galahad, who had no part in the movie whatsoever. The novelization says he led the rebuilding after the war and found the Grail.
* [[ImADoctorNotAPlaceholder I'm a Soothsayer, Not an Architect]]
* InstantOracleJustAddWater: The Lady of the Lake.
* IronicEcho: King Constance is introduced with the line "Kill the prisoners!," emphasizing his madness. Uther utters the same line after becoming corrupt and losing Merlin's trust and aid.
* JustIgnoreIt: [[spoiler:How Mab is defeated.]]
* KickTheDog: All of the villains have their moments.
* KilledOffForReal: [[spoiler:Elissa, Ambrosia, Vortigern, Uther, Elaine, the duke of Cornwall, Morgan le Fay, Lord Lot, Arthur, Mordred, Mab.]]
* KnightTemplar: Mab. According to the novelizations, King Constant was one during his reign.
* LastKiss: Between [[spoiler:Frik and Morgan le Fay]].
* LastOfHisKind: Merlin, as he [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] himself, is the last of the wizards.
* LoveHurts: Merlin says it best: "Oh, they hurt, memories. Memories of love, they hurt."
* LoveTriangle: The traditional one between Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere also involves Elaine, who is in a relationship with Lancelot when he is first introduced and eventually dies of heartbreak as a result of his relationship with Guinevere.
* LukeYouAreMyFather: Mordred, when he shows up in Camelot.
* {{Lust}}: Uther's lust for Igraine is a rather extreme case. Merlin puts it best. "Hundreds are dead because you have an itch."
* MagicalGesture: Used by intermediate wizards, called hand wizards.
* MagicalIncantation: Used by weak wizards.
* MagicKnight: Merlin isn't just a spell caster, but can also kick ass with a sword, as proven when he [[spoiler:wields Excalibur]].
* MagicLand: The Land of Magic.
* MakeMeWannaShout: Mab. The novelizations aptly mentioned that she was the inspiration for the banshee.
* MakingASplash: Merlin puts this power to great use. Even just a little strengthening of a waterfall can work wonders.
* MamaBear: Ambrosia
* ManipulativeBastard: Mab, Frik, Morgan.
** While not a real bastard Merlin is manipulative. He shapes the politics of Britain, putting Uther and Arthur on the throne, and plotting to ensure the latter's birth. Sir Rupert calls him out on it.
* MasterOfIllusion
* TheMentor: Merlin becomes this for Arthur.
* MerlinAndNimue: Here, of all places, this trope is subverted and inverted. Aside from demonstrating a few illusions that he insists are "tricks," Merlin doesn't teach Nimue any magic, and neither of them betrays the other. Then, towards the end, [[spoiler:''Nimue'' is the one who ends up trapped by magic in a cave.]]
** Although she ''does'' use [[spoiler:his love for her to entrap him]]. At the duress of Mab, yeah, but it's the thought that counts.
* MonsterShapedMountain: The Rock of Ages is a sentient mountain resembling a man lying half-buried in the ground. Merlin asks it to hold Excalibur [[ExcaliburInTheStone until a worthy wielder appears]].
* MurderTheHypotenuse
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Arthur's reaction when Merlin [[WhatTheHellHero informs him]] that the woman he slept with was Morgan le Fay.
* NamedWeapons: Excalibur, obviously.
* NecessarilyEvil: Mab claims, "With evil all around me, I can do nothing but evil, to survive." Nimue shortly after tells her, "That's too easy."
* NiceJobBreakingItHero
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: Mab intended to create a powerful wizard who would lead the people back to the Old Ways. What she does is create a powerful wizard who hates her and will do everything he can to destroy the Old Ways.
* NoOntologicalInertia: [[spoiler:Mab's spells slowly lose their power after she vanishes, and eventually fail.]]
* NotSoDifferent: Mab tells Merlin that she is fighting and causing evil because she must save her people, and the ends justify the means. Merlin later gives the same excuse after helping Uther seduce Igraine, causing Sir Rupert to grumble, "Now, where have I heard that before?"
* OffWithHisHead: King Constant's execution in the prologue, not seen thanks to GoryDiscretionShot.
* OhCrap: [[spoiler:Vortigern's last expression.]]
* OnlyTheWorthyMayPass: The Rock of Ages will only let a truly good man draw Excalibur.
* OurDragonsAreDifferent
* OurElvesAreBetter: Averted, to a degree. They're small, short, quick and the target of some of Frik's jokes.
* OurFairiesAreDifferent: In addition to TheFairFolk, the smaller winged variety also exists.
* OurGnomesAreWeirder: Frik. He claims that gnomes come in all shapes and sizes, and he's "the tall kind."
* OurGryphonsAreDifferent: Their bodies resemble those of dogs and their wings are more like the "patagium" of flying squirrels. Their weakness is bees.
* OutGambitted: Merlin completely pulls the rug out from under Vortigern when he hears exactly what he is planning, and then brings the knowledge of his plans to Uther, allowing the latter to prepare for the attack and win the coming battle handily.
* ParentalSubstitute: Ambrosia, to Merlin, as he notes in his narration.
* PerspectiveFlip: From Merlin's point of view.
* ThePowerOfLove: As pointed out by Ambrosia, this is one of the attributes that Mab no longer possesses, having presumably lost it in her struggle to survive. Merlin also explicitly states that magic cannot create love.
* ThePhilosopher: Merlin, even as he narrates.
* PlayingWithFire: Mab
* PluckyComicRelief: Frik
* PluckyGirl: Nimue. Getting Merlin out of Vortigern's dungeon is probably [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome the best example]].
* PetTheDog: It's buried deep, but Mab seems to have legitimate feelings for both Merlin and Mordred.
** Likewise for Mordred toward "Auntie Mab."
* PreAssKickingOneLiner
* {{Pride}}: Vortigern's FatalFlaw, noted by both Mab and Merlin. [[spoiler:"Only one tear was shed for Vortigern, and his pride had cast it away. He paid for it with his life."]]
* PropheciesAreAlwaysRight
* ProphecyTwist: Merlin takes what the Lady of the Lake says about finding the right man on a certain island a bit too literally.
* PutOnABus: Lancelot and Guinevere disappear from the story after he carries her away from Camelot. Merlin acknowledges this.
* RageAgainstTheHeavens: Merlin gets an ''epic'' rant against Mab after [[YouKilledMyFather the deaths of his mother and Ambrosia]] and [[spoiler:[[BeautyIsNeverTarnished the scarring of Nimue]]]], and then again right after [[spoiler:Arthur is born]]. Though he's addressing Mab, the feel of both scenes, on the beach with the tide coming in the first time and on a rocky bluff in the middle of a rainstorm the second time, seems to specifically invoke this. Of course, given that Mab is a [[TheFairFolk Fey]] ''[[PhysicalGod Goddess]]'' and Merlin very much hopes to destroy her religion and utterly erase her from existence, it's pretty literal as well.
* RapePillageAndBurn: Vortigern's forces, as he takes over England.
* ReligionOfEvil: By the time the story starts, the Old Ways have been reduced to this, thanks to Mab's desperation and loss of touch with the world; it's pretty outright stated by Ambrosia that even Mab used to be kinder when she was more prosperous.
* RescueRomance: Merlin and Nimue.
* RoyalBlood: Arthur is quite surprised to learn he has it.
* RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething: Uther, Arthur.
* SamusIsAGirl: In ''Merlin's Apprentice''.
* SapientSteed: Sir Rubert.
* SealedGoodInACan: [[spoiler:Nimue.]]
* ScarsAreForever: Nimue's disfiguring scar cannot be healed, even by Merlin's magic, though Mab is able to make it vanish temporarily. [[spoiler:Subverted right at the end, when Merlin finally manages to heal it and simultaneously restore both their youth.]]
* ScrewDestiny: Both Mab and Merlin take this approach.
* SheIsAllGrownUp: Frik's reaction upon meeting Morgan for the second time.
* ShootTheDog: Merlin assisting Uther in seducing Igraine with his magic.
* SmoochOfVictory: Merlin gets this from Nimue twice. The first time, it's his "reward" for giving her and her party directions. The second time, it's part of the aforementioned RescueRomance. Nimue's companions find it amusing, and Nimue herself [[LampshadeHanging lampshades]] it the second time.
* ServileSnarker: Frik
* SmugSnake: Mab and Mordred.
* SpellConstruction: The less construction needed, the stronger the wizard. The best wizards do it by pure thought.
* TheSpock: Frik
* StabTheSky: Arthur, after pulling Excalibur from the stone.
* SuperStrength: Implied with Mordred.
* SurroundedByIdiots: Vortigern. "Why is it that I surround myself with a bunch of incompetent fools?"
* TakingYouWithMe: King Constant has all of the prisoners killed right before Vortigern takes his castle. "Let the whole world die, if I die."
* TalkToTheFist
* TheMagicGoesAway: [[spoiler:At the end of the series, after performing his final act of magic to restore his and Nimue's youth, Merlin states, "That's the end of magic."]]
* TheTimeOfMyths
* ThisIsReality: Merlin, at the beginning of the narration. "''Once upon a time''... No, no, that's not the way to start. You'd think this is a fairy tale, and it isn't."
* TimeAbyss: The Rock of Ages claims his memory goes back to [[UpToEleven before the dawn of time]].
* TricksterMentor: Frik, to Merlin.
* TurnOutLikeHisFather: Subverted. Mab claims that Arthur is damned because of his father's sins, that his reign will only bring bloodshed. However, Arthur proves to be a much better man and ruler than Uther was. Incidentally, Uther was also a much better and more merciful ruler than his father, King Constant, was. [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope Well, at first, anyway]].
* TheUnchosenOne: Deconstructed. Merlin recruits Lancelot, believing him to be the perfect knight who will be best fit to guard the throne while Arthur is away. However, it turns out, Merlin picked the wrong knight, and it was actually Lancelot's son Galahad who would have been the perfect knight, with the result that Lancelot only makes things worse with his adulterous relationship with Guinevere. Oops.
* UnreliableNarrator: According to Frik, and by Merlin's own admission, a few things were omitted from the story. Merlin claims he didn't think anyone would believe it if they heard it the way it really happened.
** Some observers have used this theory to allow the sequel ''Merlain's Apprentice'' to fit into continuity. Whether this is FanWank or not is open to interpretation.
*** Unless Merlin conveniently left out the part where [[spoiler:he got his head chopped off and died]], I don't think even that can make ''Merlin's Apprentice'' fit continuity.
* UnstoppableRage: Frik, when Morgan le Fay is killed.
** Likewise, Merlin when he hears that Arthur slept with Morgan le Fay.
* VillainousDemotivator: Mab
* VillainousValour: Vortigern very nearly wins the war through the sheer audacity of his winter attack and is always shown leading from the very front. He also refuses Mab's mystical protection, although Merlin dismisses that as stubborn pride.
* VoluntaryShapeshifting: According to Mab, though, it's only an illusion.
** Frik's favorite trick, by the way.
* WhatIsThisThingYouCallLove: Mab has ended up like this, as pointed out by Ambrosia.
* WhatTheHellHero: When Merlin hears about what happened with Morgan le Fay, he lets Arthur have it. He does it again, to Guinevere and Lancelot, after their affair.
* WhyDidYouMakeMeHitYou: "Now see what you made me do!"
* WilliamTelling: The first we see of Mordred is him practicing archery with a group of servants standing with apples on their heads. "If you gentleman don't stop trembling, I might miss and kill you all!"
* WizardBeard: Merlin, in the present when he is old. Averted through most of the series.
* WizardDuel: [[spoiler:The climactic final battle between Merlin and Mab.]]
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Mab pretty much says this twice, first for Merlin's mother Elissa, then again for [[spoiler:Morgan le Fay]]. [[spoiler:She lets the former die, and kills the latter directly.]] Apparently, all she needed them for was to give birth to the child she wanted.
* YouKilledMyFather: Thanks to her ruthless policies, Mab manages to give Merlin ''three'' separate excuses to go against her, all relating to her harming the people he loves.
* YourCheatingHeart: Lancelot and Guinevere, of course.
----