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Characters: Merlin Main Cast

This page features a listing of the main characters of Merlin.

Merlin's individual character folder is so large that he needed to have his own subpage.

The main character page for the series is here. For other characters other than the main cast, go here.

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     Arthur Pendragon 

King Arthur Pendragon (Bradley James)

Gaius "He is a future king. People expect so much of him. He's under a lot of pressure."

The prince of Camelot, Arthur starts out as a Jerk Ass but ends up developing a Hidden Heart of Gold thanks to his gradual strong friendship with Merlin, Morgana's guidance, and his inevitable and budding romance with Gwen.
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Arthur seems to be on the verge of telling Guinevere that he loves her in the series three finale. However, she interrupts him after he makes the mistake of saying "if I never see you again..." which only compels her to insist that they will meet again.
  • Action Hero: Combat is his main way of solving problem. Too bad he's in a series where the most dangerous enemies are manipulative and subtle.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Arthur has serious Daddy Issues and issues with everyone lying to him and betraying him, including his own best friend, Merlin.
  • Adaptational Badass: Arthur in the show series comes off as more badass, strong and tough than his Arthurian legend counterpart.
  • Adipose Rex: As of the end of Series 4 Arthur seems to be heading down this path. Thankfully - or not, due to him dying? - it is stopped before it becomes too bad... though it does require an extra hole in his belt for "extra comfort and ease of use".
  • Aggressive Categorism: In the beginning Arthur was rather prejudiced, bigoted and judgemental. He changed as the series progressed, mostly thanks to Merlin.
  • Aerith and Bob: Arthur and Merlin. While Arthur's name sounds rather normal and is considered to be quite common, the name Merlin is somewhat exotic and unique sounding by comparison.
  • Always Second Best: Feels this way about Lancelot. Arthur believes that Lancelot is "the better man" in everything from their skills in combat to how Guinevere feels about them.
  • Always Someone Better: In regards to Lancelot again. And for good reason.
  • Anchored Ship: With Gwen for a while.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: To Merlin about Guinevere.
  • Animal Motifs: Arthur's last name Pendragon means Chief Dragon or Head Dragon.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: In series one, Morgana considers Arthur to be this.
  • Anti-Hero: Arthur could be classified as a Type II or Type III.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Arthur describes himself as "the ultimate killing machine" and this is in no way an Informed Ability. In fact, it's almost disconcerting to see him kill another man (albeit one who was trying to kill him) without a moment's hesitation in the very second episode of the show.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Uther's education philosophy. Arthur has to prove his worth as Crown Prince through tournaments and military leadership.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: With Merlin and Morgana, sort of.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Pendragon is a pretty cool and unique name.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: When Arthur is crowned King in 4x03.
  • Badass: He's King Arthur.
    • Badass Boast: When Arthur's loved ones are ever threatened, he won't hesitate to threaten you.
    • Badass Cape: Comes with being the Prince (and later, King) of Camelot.
    • Badass In Charge: Arthur becomes the King Of Camelot in season four after his father, Uther, dies.
    • Badass in Distress: All the time. So much that it is a Running Gag in the series.
    • Badass Longcoat: Arthur is constantly seen wearing one.
    • Badass Normal: Arthur has no superhuman abilities and is completely human, yet he can still kick major ass and is a very skilled fighter and warrior.
    • Cultured Badass: Arthur is from royalty and enjoys all of the finer things in life that come along with it.
    • Heartbroken Badass: Has faced some heartbreak and problems with love.
  • Bad Boss: To Merlin, though it's played for laughs.
  • Bad Liar: When he contemplates using the horn that can resurrect dead people, it is obvious that he is hiding something. However, he can pull rank on Merlin to end all questions.
  • Bash Brothers: With Merlin.
  • Battle Couple: With Gwen, before and after he and Gwen become King and Queen of Camelot.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Arthur is destined to be the greatest king Albion has ever known.
    • Also destined to unite the five kingdoms back into the great land of Albion, rule as High King with the most powerful warlock ever (Merlin) and free the magical people.
    • Prophecy Twist: He dies before he could achieve any of those. It's his Queen Guinevere who brings about a golden age.
  • Berserk Button: He reacts badly to any perceived slight against his honor or integrity. Likewise, threatening his father (Uther), his servant (Merlin), his half sister (Morgana), or especially his beloved (Gwen) is a surefire way of getting killed by a very angry King.
  • The Berserker: Arthur seems to be always willing to throw himself into a battle, regardless of the consequences and dangers. Thankfully, he has Merlin watching his back and saving him constantly.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Towards Merlin.
  • Big Brother Mentor: To Merlin, although Lancelot and Gwaine probably fit the bill better. Also to Mordred in 5x05.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Often alongside Merlin, albeit, most of the time without Arthur's knowledge.
  • Big Good: Except for his prejudice against magic (and YMMV on the extent to which he actually hates magic), Arthur stands for honour, chivalry, and compassion. His dreams and idealism are arguably what reign Merlin in when the latter is on the verge of jumping off the slippery slope. Arthur's also the one Morgana considers her main rival and seeks to destroy, and the prophesied great king that Merlin bets everything on. He is the opposite of Morgana, who is the Big Bad.
  • Blood Knight: Arthur loves fighting and defending his kingdom. He believes that it is a part of his duty to do so.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Arthur goes hunting or travels for quests with gusto, especially in the beginning of the series.
  • Brains and Brawn: Arthur is the Brawn to Merlin's Brains. While Arthur is more of a fighter and a warrior, Merlin relies more on strategy, his brains, his intelligence and manipulation tactics in order to fight the enemy.
  • Broken Pedestal: Arthur is a huge "Well Done, Son" Guy who's basically spent his entire life having it hammered into him that whatever he does, his father Uther does it better. After about three years of ruling as king, he gets a chance to contact Uther from the otheworld, who immediately reams him out on all the "stupid" decisions he's made to bring equality to the land. Arthur's heartbroken, and accidentally lets Uther's spirit free, who proceeds to wreck the Round Table, attack Percival with an ax, and attempt to set Guinevere on fire. Arthur's in denial for a lot of this, but he finally breaks and realizes just how terrible a man his father was.
  • Broken Tears: When his father dies, and when confronted with the ghost of a boy who died in a raid led by him.
  • Bromantic Foil: To Merlin, of course.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: With Morgana. The show started out heavily hinting at a Arthur/Morgana pairing in series 1. Then as series 2 started, all of the build-up was dropped and the pairing was completely ignored. Then in series 3, Arthur and Morgana were revealed to be half-brother and -sister. Which makes all their interaction in series 1 look rather strange in retrospect.
    • Although this could have been Getting Crap Past the Radar. Word of God said they backed off rather suddenly on this ship to start the Arthur/Gwen ship, but in hindsight, touching on a relationship with Arthur and Morgana way before they confirmed the two shared a father was probably the only way to show their legendary incestuous relationship on a family show.
  • Brutal Honesty: Sometimes Arthur can be too blunt and harsh, especially towards Merlin. Luckily, Merlin is just as sarcastic and blunt as well, so it equates to constant Snark-to-Snark Combat between Arthur and Merlin.
  • Cain and Abel: With Morgana. In terms of roles, Arthur is the Abel (the Big Good) to Morgana's Cain (the Big Bad). It doesn't help that Morgana spent much of her time plotting against Arthur and trying to kill him. See Sibling Yin-Yang.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Especially in "The Sins of the Father".
    • In "The Death Song of Uther Pendragon", when confronted by Uther's vengeful ghost.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: His relationship with Merlin. Though it may seem that Arthur constantly picks on Merlin and teases him, it has been proven and shown that without Merlin, Arthur really doesn't function all that well, if not, at all. Hell, Arthur can't even get dressed without Merlin.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: His feelings for Gwen. He's also infamous for frequently giving backhanded compliments to Merlin instead of acknowledging the guy's wisdom.
  • Cannot Talk to Women: After asking Princess Mithian out for a picnic lunch, he mutters to himself: "I've never been much good at this." Something of an Informed Flaw, as he never really seems that uneasy around the likes of Morgana, Guinevere, or any other visiting princess.
  • Catch Phrase: "Shut up, Merlin."
  • The Chains of Commanding: He is willing to try his best to be a better ruler, but is haunted by his inability to make good judgements about people. He has also complained about the burden of expectations placed on him.
  • Chick Magnet
    Bradley James: All the girls? Morgana? That one girl who's my adopted sister? Oh yeah, he gets all the girls, he does. Look, they're surrounding him! Argh! Someone get a stick to beat them off with!
  • The Chosen One: The Chosen One of the series. He has Merlin and Guinevere, who are chosen ones by their own rights one way or another, to protect and guide him.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Arthur has the constant need to save people as much as possible.
  • The Comically Serious: In comic relief moments.
  • Commonality Connection: With Merlin. Originally, when Arthur first met Merlin, Arthur thinks of Merlin as a silly, incompetent, foolish and stupid peasant. But eventually, Arthur comes to realize just how important Merlin is to him as the series progresses. On the outside, Arthur and Merlin don't share anything in common in terms of backgrounds, personalities, upbringings and outlooks, but what they do share in common is the same destiny.
  • Competition Freak: Arthur is really competitive by nature.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Arthur has moments where he butts heads with Uther, usually when the latter is being too harsh, accusing an obviously innocent person of witchcraft, or not taking good enough care of the people of Camelot.
  • Cool Crown: He's probably meant to have this but ends up getting the short end of the stick. Whilst Uther wore a simple but respectable looking circlet, Prince Arthur had something that looked like a shiny metal head-band. In a Flash Forward, Arthur was seen wearing Uther's crown, but when he finally became King himself, he switched to a giant gold crown with fleur-de-lis spikes on it, which most people thought looked a little bit like the Burger King crown.
  • Cool Sword: Excalibur.
  • The Corruptible: Arthur is probably the most corruptible character in the entire series. It's mostly because Arthur is too easily trusting and naive in regards to others and their intentions.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Arthur has been corrupted or deceived by almost every single person who was close to him. He is often the victim of much corruption from various characters (such as Agravaine and Morgana, for example).
  • Costume Porn: Arthur wears highly impressive armour.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Arthur doesn't appreciate Guinevere having close friendships with any other males (except Merlin) and becomes a Green-Eyed Monster every time she seems particularly fond of any one other than him. When he catches her and Lancelot in an embrace, he attacks Lancelot and would have killed him had Guinevere not thrown herself between them.
  • The Cynic: Subverted. Arthur was this in the beginning, the opposite of Merlin, who was The Idealist. Later on, Arthur became much more idealistic and hopeful while Merlin became much more pragmatic, realistic and cynical in his thinking.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Definitely has his witty and humorous moments throughout the series. Most of them are with Merlin.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Arguably. Despite five seasons worth of prophesies stating that he will lift the ban on magic, unite the kingdoms and rule over the Golden Age of Albion, he never does. He dies before achieving any of it and it's implied in the finale (confirmed by Word of God in this interview) that it'll be Guinevere who does all those things.
  • Defrosting Ice Prince/Defrosting Ice King: Due to the influence of Merlin and Gwen, Arthur goes from an arrogant, entitled, impulsive young noble to a much kinder, humble, and understanding leader.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Arthur can be sexist and elitist at times.
  • Designated Victim: In almost every single episode, Merlin always has to save Arthur from many enemies and dangers. It's a Running Gag in the series.
  • The Determinator: Most of the time, Arthur is rather determined and doesn't quit when he really wants something.
  • Deuteragonist: To Merlin's protagonist.
  • Distressed Dude: In almost every single episode. He's the target of dozens of assassination attempts, and is regularly poisoned, shot, knocked out, hypnotized, held prisoner, and put under enchantments.
  • Does Not Know How To Say Thanks: Arthur is never that good with expressing gratitude and appreciation towards others, notably Merlin. This is up until the series finale when Arthur's final words to Merlin before he dies is THANK YOU.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Attention is never explicitly called to it, but he frequently goes barefoot when he's in his own chambers.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Arthur hates it when others feel sorry for him.
  • Doomed by Canon: It was pretty much expected that Arthur would end up dying at the end of the series. And he does.
  • The Dragon: To his father, especially in the eyes of Camelot's enemies.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: He seeks to make a kingdom that is fair and just. However, he fails to notice that the people who need fairness and justice the most are the magic-users, and continues to persecute them.
  • Dumb Muscle: Unfortunately, for someone expected to be a wise ruler, perceptiveness isn't his strong point.
  • The Dutiful Son: To his own detriment even.
  • Emotional Bruiser: Becomes more of this thanks to Merlin and Gwen. Arthur became more comfortable with opening up and expressing his feelings and vulnerability.
  • Emotionally Tongue Tied: Especially in the beginning. Arthur always had issues with expressing his feelings. This changes later on though, thanks to both Merlin and Gwen.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: King Alined admits to being a bit attracted to him.
  • Expy: Of Pete Ross.
  • Extreme Doormat: Sometimes Arthur seemed this way in regards to Uther, much to Arthur's detriment. He had a tendency to follow his father and his orders blindly due to Arthur's strong desire to please his father.
  • Famed in Story: Not just because he's the ruler of Camelot, but because his destiny is already known to the likes of the dragons, the druids, and other magical beings.
  • Fatal Flaw: He just can't help trusting the wrong people. It's endearing, but also immensely frustrating.
  • Flanderization: He started out as an arrogant prat, but he was also observant, intelligent and quick-thinking, and wasn't afraid to defy his father. In later seasons, he was given crippling Daddy Issues, would dismiss Merlin at every opportunity, and was utterly oblivious to magic even when it was happening right before his eyes. To add insult to injury, it became a Running Gag that he wasn't even able to dress himself. It's actually quite shocking to go back and watch him in the first seasons, in which he immediately takes Merlin's word that a magic-user is on the loose in the second episode, and for him to correctly identify a small hurricane as magical in the tenth.
  • Flaw Exploitation: It didn't take long for Morgana to pick up on Arthur's love for Guinevere and use it to her own advantage on at least two separate occasions.
    • Agravaine exploits his insecurities and desires to please his father to manipulate him into potentially disastrous decisions.
  • Flirty Step Siblings: Arthur and Morgana are kind of like this during series 1 since Uther is the guardian of Morgana, and she is like a daughter to him. It is almost as if Uther adopted Morgana, which would make Arthur and Morgana like step-siblings. As it turns out, they're half-siblings.
  • Famous Last Words: "THANK YOU."
  • Foil: To Lancelot. Lancelot's presence highlighted both Arthur's faults and his virtues. On the one hand, when Arthur realizes that there may be something between Lance/Gwen he pulls a massive sulk and makes an off-handed comment that he's only there because Morgana begged him; whilst Lancelot graciously admits defeat and bows out of the Love Triangle before there's any more trouble. On the other hand, the fact that Lancelot leaves in the middle of the night without even saying goodbye highlights Arthur's honesty with Gwen when he tells her that nothing can ever happen between them.
    • Also to Merlin. Their backgrounds, upbringings, outlooks and personalities are entirely different.
  • For Great Justice: Basically Arthur's motto regarding his duty to Camelot and Albion.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's clear that many of Arthur's emotional and psychological issues and insecurities stem from the fact that he was raised by an emotionally distant and abusive father (Uther). It didn't help that Arthur was completely motherless growing up (thanks to Uther, of course).
  • Freudian Trio: In the trio of himself, Merlin and Gwen, Arthur is The McCoy/Id (Arrogant, aggressive, impulsive, is driven by his emotions, usually puts the individual before the bigger picture to Arthur's) to Merlin's The Spock/Superego (Calm, secretive, logical, intelligent, has made at least one Sadistic Choice in which he sacrificed a dear friend in order to save a greater number of people) and Gwen's The Kirk/Ego (The Heart, motherly, nurturing, adored by both men as a Love Interest/Sister Figure). See The McCoy.
    • In the Power Trio of himself (Courage), Merlin (Magic) and Gwaine (Strength), Arthur is The Spock/Superego (Stoic, serious, strategic, noble, courageous) to Merlin's The Kirk/Ego (Balanced, neutral, peacemaker, the mediator between the opposing personalities of Arthur and Gwaine, friends with both Arthur and Gwaine) and Gwaine's The McCoy/Id (Fun-loving, roguish, carefree, rebellious, daredevil).
  • Friendly Rivalry: With Gwaine.
  • Friendship Denial: With Merlin in the beginning. Merlin would often acknowledge Arthur as his friend, but Arthur would often deny this and say that he is just his servant. Subverted now that Arthur has frequently addressed Merlin as his friend later on in the series.
  • Friendship Moment: Most, if not all of them, are with Merlin.
  • Genre Blindness: When Arthur claims something, you know it is not true.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: To Merlin, often.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Arthur often wears the colours Red and Gold.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: If there was a trope named Genre Blind Is Not Dumb, he would be this. Best demonstrated in these two lines from The Coming of Arthur. Justified in that most of his smarter moments stem from being a tactician, which makes sense since he leads an elite army.
    Arthur: The best place for this cup is the vaults of Camelot
    Arthur:*stops and looks around worryingly* It's Quiet... Too Quiet.
  • The Good King: What he is expected to be.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: A couple of times, when Lancelot or Gwaine look particularly friendly with Gwen.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: In the beginning. An indication of his maturity throughout the series is the frequency of his temper tantrum, especially towards Merlin.
  • Hard Head: Arthur getting knocked out is both Running Gag and a convenient way to keep Merlin's magic from him.
  • Happily Married: To Gwen until Arthur's death at the end of the series.
  • Hero Antagonist: Arthur occasionally lapses into this. While he's undoubtedly a good guy, he has been raised from birth to be distrustful of magic and will not hestitate to arrest anyone caught using it, even though the penalty is death. What seperates him from Uther is that he does this not out of maliciousness, but because it is his Father's law and he's honour bound to obey it.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Arthur always uses one, even though he's shown to be quite handy with a mace.
  • Heroic BSOD: 2x08; 3x13.
    • 4x09 has such a huge one that he spends the next three episodes drifting in and out of this state. And then his uncle betrays him, and he breaks down so badly in 4x13 that he feels he must Abdicate the Throne because he was such a horrible leader. Let's face it, if it weren't for Merlin, Arthur wouldn't just be dead a thousand times over, he'd be insane.
    • Has a HUGE one in the series finale, when he discovers that the one person he trusts the most, his best friend (Merlin), is in fact a sorcerer and that Merlin had been lying to him for the whole time.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Drinks the (supposedly) poison for Merlin in The Labyrinth of Gedref. Later, he intends to sacrifice himself to close the veil between the living and undead worlds in The Darkest Hour, and offers his life for Mordred's in The Disir.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners/Ho Yay: With Merlin.
  • Hidden Depths: He first appears as a spoilt royal Jerk Jock but as Merlin gets to know him better, his insecurities about his own worth as a leader and his genuine strong sense of honour surface.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Arthur came off as arrogant and self-centred but underneath his Jerkass Façade is a pure heart.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: With Merlin OH SO MUCH.
  • Honor Before Reason: Merlin frequently has to intercede before Arthur's sense of honour gets him killed.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Honour? Chivalry? Bravery? Arthur has those qualities honed to perfection! Being capable of noticing if someone is Obviously Evil? Yeah, he might need to work on that some more?!
  • Hot-Blooded
  • Hunk
  • I Work Alone: Due to his father's influence, he believes that as a leader, he cannot afford to rely on anyone, especially emotionally. Merlin, Gwen and the knights prove him wrong.
  • Ice Prince or Ice King: He's very aloof, stoic, and averse to expressing his emotions originally (when he doesn't throw temper tantrums). Merlin and Gwen's influence manages to change that.
  • Iconic Outfit: Mail shirt with the Pendragon red cape.
  • The Idealist
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How Mordred kills him
  • Improbable Aiming Skills
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Believes himself to be this throughout series 1. In series 5, Uther's ghost appears to tell him so.
  • Incest Subtext: Now that Morgana has been revealed to be his half-sister, their relationship in series 1 seems like this.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: His Jerkass behaviour near the start of the series is quickly put down to his Freudian Excuse of having a very demanding and emotionally-distant father, and it's clear in his insecurity with Guinevere, Merlin, Morgana, and Lancelot that he doesn't consider himself worthy of their affection or friendship, even as he takes them all for granted. Merlin and Gwen have to give him many pep talks about believing in himself instead of following his father's examples during his Heroic BSOD moments.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: Excalibur, due to being forged in Dragon's breath.
  • Innocent Bigot: He distrusts and hates magic users, but honestly doesn't know any better.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Matching his Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold, fitting the honourable, chivalrous Once and Future King.
  • Innocently Insensitive: He doesn't realize that it is rude to refuse Hunith's breakfast in The Moment of Truth and his stay inconveniences Gwen in The Once and Future Queen. Gwen calls him out on both cases.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Gaius.
  • Interspecies Friendship: With Merlin. Merlin is a warlock and a Dragon Lord with magical abilities and Arthur is a human.
  • I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Arthur wasn't entirely sure that his plan to smear himself in Gaia berries to confuse the Wilderen would be successful. Merlin is not hugely pleased when he finds out.
    • Arthur also gets a moment of this when his father starts dying.
    • Arthur in 4x11 when faced with marriage to a lovely princess or seeking out the woman that (he thinks) betrayed him, tells Merlin that he has no idea what to do.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Arthur begins to fall for Guinevere after she calls him out on his rude behaviour and he realizes that she's the only one who doesn't just tell him what he wants to hear.
    • Also the reason why Arthur and Merlin get along so well.
  • In-Series Nickname: Merlin calls Arthur "Clotpole" or "Dollophead". Arthur is never amused by this.
  • It's All About Me: Originally, Arthur was very entitled and self-centered even if he genuinely cares for the people of Camelot. He started to display humility as the series progressed though.
  • It's All My Fault: It says something about Arthur that when he is betrayed by his loved ones, the first question he asks is "Where did I go wrong?"
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: He complains about his life being planned out for him and the resulting expectations several times. Also, being the chosen one for him means he suffers from countless betrayals from people he loves.
  • Jerkass: Initially. And hints of this remain in his treatment of Merlin throughout the series.
  • Kick the Dog: In one episode, Arthur went to go get a flower to cure Merlin against his father's orders. As soon as he came back, his own father imprisoned him for disobeying orders. Arthur didn't care if he stayed in prison for days or weeks, as long as the flower got to Merlin. He even begged his father to at least deliver the flower. Uther simply crushed the flower in front of Arthur, told him to get another servant and dropped the flower just out of Arthur's reach.
  • Killed Off for Real: As of The Diamond of the Day Part 2.
  • King Arthur
  • Knight in Shining Armor
  • Knight, Knave and Squire: Arthur is The Knight to Merlin's The Squire and Gwaine's The Knave. They are also the trio of Courage (Arthur), Magic (Merlin) and Strength (Gwaine).
  • King Incognito: Pulls this in The Once and Future Queen and Gwaine.
  • Last Guy Wins: Arthur may have known Gwen longer than her other two love interests, but he was the last to be introduced as a potential love interest for Gwen in 1x10 (though the ship was teased upon in 1x01 and 1x05). Then again, it's not much of a surprise.
  • Last Request: Not to be left alone. And Merlin doesn't, living up to the present day waiting for him to return.
  • The Leader: Arthur is a blend of Type III and Type IV.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Arthur and Morgana become this in series 2.
    • And then they became ACTUAL brother and sister. Well, half at least.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Merlin (and Gwen's) entire purpose is to ensure that this doesn't happen. However, Arthur and Uther are similiar in a lot of ways.
  • Long Lost Sibling: To Morgana. He is her paternal half brother.
  • Love Hurts
  • Love Redeems
  • Love Triangle: Arthur/Gwen/Lancelot. Arthur wins.
  • Magic Feather: Amusingly, Excalibur serves as one for him.
  • Magnetic Hero: His biggest asset as a leader is his ability to inspire respect and loyalty in other people.
  • Magnetic Plot Device
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Arthur and Gwen are essentially this trope because Arthur is royalty while Gwen is a servant girl and King Uther won't hear of a romance between them. Though Arthur is white and Gwen is mixed-race, race is not a factor in Uther's disapproval.
  • Manly Men Can Hunt: At least six episodes and one deleted scene involve him out hunting in the forest with Merlin or his knights, in fact it's a crucial part of The Labyrinth of Gedref and The Hunter's Heart.
    • And occasionally played for laughs:
    Arthur: After Sophia left, I wanted to take my mind off things. So, I went for a hunt.
    Morgana: And killing things mends a broken heart?
  • Master of Delusion: He still doesn't suspect Merlin of magic. Not even a little bit.
  • Master Swordsman: Arthur is the best swordsman in Camelot.
  • Marry for Love: He's determined to do this, and even manages to make it sound like a politically sensible idea: "I'll be a much better king for the strength and support of a woman I love."
  • Martyr Without a Cause: Arthur is willing to die or sacrifice his life even when it isn't a wise thing.
  • The McCoy/Id (Freudian Trio): In the trio between himself, Merlin and Gwen, Arthur is The McCoy/Id (arrogant, aggressive, impulsive, Hot-Blooded) to Merlin's The Spock/Superego (calm, logical, intelligent, The Chessmaster) and Gwen's The Kirk/Ego (motherly, nurturing, sensitive, The Chick). See Freudian Trio.
  • Meaningful Name: The name Arthur means noble. However, it also means bear.
    • His last name Pendragon means Head Dragon or Chief Dragon.
  • The Men First: He is unwilling to risk his knights' lives, and can go to great lengths for them.
  • The Millstone: Aside from the problems he has caused himself, how many times has Arthur's general refusal to listen to Merlin, follow common sense, or even consider that someone Obviously Evil is...well..evil... made the problem worse? He gets better throughout the show, but still refuses to believe he is Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • Missing Mom. She's long dead... and it's Uther's fault.
  • Modest Royalty: Even though Arthur can appear arrogant, Arthur doesn't always believe that he is worthy of his position as leader and King of Camelot. Merlin and Guinevere have to constantly remind Arthur that he is worthy of his position.
  • Morality Pet: To Merlin. As a contrast to Morgana, who doesn't use her power for anyone else, Merlin's loyalty to Arthur designates the warlock as the "good" guy.
  • Mr. Fanservice: With his endless shirtless scenes, he's a treat for anyone who appreciates male beauty.
  • Muggle Best Friend: To Merlin.
  • My Name Is Arthur Pendragon
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Arthur's first reaction when he sees Lancelot kissing Guinevere.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Can tell there's something about Merlin, looks worried after realizing the boy he liberated is Mordred, and guessing from the musical cue, can sense the importance of Excalibur. However, he always thinks It's Probably Nothing, so this is pretty much useless.
  • Named Weapons: The infamous Excalibur, the sword that is basically created especially for him. However, the name only appears as title for an episode and is never mentioned by the characters.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Arthur flip-flops with this in regard to Merlin. While he clearly assumes he's the superior and constantly insults and berates Merlin while Merlin's trying to do his job, he has shown that he cares about the common people and occasionally shows Merlin some measure of affection and respect.
    • He's also willing to risk his life to protect or save Merlin without a second thought.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: It's subtle, but it's there, with Arthur getting rather stand-offish at the sight of any Action Girl (or at least surprised by the activities Tom Boys). He instead prefers the feminine and nurturing Guinevere, whose appeal lies in her forthrightness and/or supportiveness. He has congratulated Gwen on her bravery in combat, but it's clear that he prefers her to stay well out of such situations.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: Arthur is the Noble Male to Merlin's Roguish Male. While Arthur is very noble and chivalrous, Merlin is more careless and is willing to use underhanded means from time to time to accomplish his goals or mission.
  • Noble Bigot: While Arthur was raised to hate magic, it's seems he actually merely distrusts it. Several episodes imply that he only hunts down sorcerers because it's the law and personally, he doesn't care about magic as long as it stays out of Camelot.
  • Nobody Calls Me Chicken: Never explicitly, but the best way to get Arthur to do something is to insult his bravery.
  • Not a Morning Person
  • The Not-Love Interest: To Merlin, who will go to extreme lengths for him not only because he is prophecized to be the Once and Future King who will bring back magic but also because he has become a friend.
  • Odd Couple: With Merlin.
  • Odd Friendship: With Merlin again.
  • Oedipus Complex: In the episode Sins of the Father, Arthur meets the (young and beautiful) ghost of his mother, whose words inspire him to gallop straight home and nearly commit patricide.
  • Official Couple: With Gwen. At the end of season four, they get married and become the Ruling Couple of Camelot.
  • Only Mostly Dead: In several episodes, he's on the verge of dying. And it's true to the legend about coming back when the world needs him the most.
  • Opposites Attract: In regards to his romance with Gwen. While Gwen was a poor servant, Arthur is a wealthy royal.
  • Overlord Jr.: Arthur qualifies completely. A bit of a "Well Done, Son" Guy, extremely loyal to his father, although he increasingly questions his most hardline policies, particularly on magic (which is logical, because Uther's stance on that particular matter is heavily irrational).
  • Pinball Protagonist: Happens a lot to Arthur, particularly in the later seasons.
    • In one notable example is in The Eye of the Phoenix, Arthur has a vision that instructs him to seek out the Trident in the lands of the Fisher King. He wanders all the way to the Perilous Lands where he's promptly knocked unconscious by a spirit-destroying bracelet given to him by Morgana. Merlin follows in his wake, meets the Fisher King, retrieves the true MacGuffin (the trident is useless) and is told that the entire journey was for his benefit. Arthur was just the catalyst for getting him there, and one can't help but wonder why the vision wasn't just sent to Merlin in the first place.
  • The Power Of Trust: Arbitrary Skepticism to Merlin's claims aside, he's the most trusting person in the whole cast and that makes him sympathetic and earns him incredibly loyal knights. On the flip side, unfortunately for him, just about every loved one in his life betrays him one way or another.
  • Prince Charming: Especially to visiting ladies.
  • The Promise: "When I am King, I promise you; things will be different. We can be together."
  • The Proud Elite: In the beginning. He becomes less arrogant as the series progressed.
  • Puppet King: Sadly, he comes across as this in series 4, spending the entire thirteen episodes being manipulated by Agravaine or blind-sided by Merlin. The only clean victory he gets (without any secret help from Merlin) is freeing the spirit of the Druid boy. Everything else, including his retrieval of Excalibur in the Stone, is in some way organised and controlled by Merlin.
  • Rage Breaking Point: When Arthur confronts Gwen about kissing Lancelot on the night before their wedding. He starts out speaking quietly and calmly, listing reasons for her behavior. When she doesn't agree with any of them he completely loses it, starts yelling, and grabs her by the shoulders. Almost immediately, though, the rage subsides and he apologizes.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Real Men Get Shot: In The Fires Of Idirsholas, Arthur is almost delighted by the fact that Merlin has sustained his "first battle wound!"
  • Real Men Hate Affection: He prefers to show fondness for Merlin and Morgana through backhanded compliments and snarking contests.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Arthur is a fair and just king, significantly more fair and just than his father, Uther.
  • Red Baron: The King Of Camelot, Courage, The Once And Future King.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Arthur is the Red to Merlin's Blue. Arthur is more hot-blooded, impulsive and passionate, while Merlin is more practical, logical and intelligent.
  • Resurrective Immortality: When Albion needs him.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Arthur in the episode "The Once and Future Queen", when he's staying with Gwen. He says he'd like to take a bath, she tells him that might be hard as she doesn't own a bathtub, and he just stares at her, speechless.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: In regards to the love triangle between himself, Gwen and Lancelot. While Arthur is a wealthy royal (Rich Suitor), Lancelot is a poor commoner (Poor Suitor).
  • Risking The King: He usually jumps head first into dangers, to Merlin and Gwen's distress.
  • Royal Blood: Arthur comes from a family of royalty in which is father (Uther) is the King of Camelot. Once Uther died, Arthur became King.
  • Royal Brat: Basically Arthur's middle name.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The series shows him to be not only the Camelot's heir apparent, but also the day-to-day commander of the kingdom's armed forces. He not only leads them in battle, but also recruits the knights and oversees their training. He also seems to be the closest thing that the kingdom has to a sheriff or chief of police. If any "crime" occurs, it's usually Arthur that's sent to investigate.
  • Ruling Couple: With Queen Guinevere since season four. Subverted since Arthur dies at the end of the series.
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Arthur is unable to dress himself without the help of his manservant, Merlin.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Not counting not knowing Merlin has magic, Arthur seems to have rewired his brain to ignore everything that Merlin does competently to the point where it seems like he's consciously unaware he's doing it. This actually gets pointed out to him in With All My Heart, and he's still unable to grasp the idea.
    Merlin: Without Merlin, your queen would still be lost.
    Arthur: Not sure that's true.note 
  • Scarily Competent Tracker
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Arthur is the Manly Man to Merlin's Sensitive Guy.
    • Also the Manly Man to Lancelot's Sensitive Guy.
  • Shirtless Scene: A LOT.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With Morgana. They have opposing personalities and outlooks.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: With Morgana.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Often with Merlin.
  • Spirited Competitor
  • The Spock/Superego (Freudian Trio): In the Power Trio of himself (Courage), Merlin (Magic) and Gwaine (Strength), Arthur is The Spock/Superego (serious, noble, honourable, The Stoic, The Strategist, Knight in Shining Armor) to Merlin's The Kirk/Ego (balanced, neutral, peacemaker between the opposing personalities of Arthur and Gwaine, friends with both Arthur and Gwaine, Take a Third Option, The Heart, The Conscience) and Gwaine's The McCoy/Id (fun loving, roguish, rebellious, Loveable Rogue, Knight in Sour Armor, Plucky Comic Relief).
  • Spoiled Brat: So much. Especially in the beginning.
  • Stay with Me Until I Die: Arthur tells Merlin in the series finale before he knows he's about to die for Merlin to stay with him and hold him.
  • The Stoic: Arthur didn't show all that much emotion early on in the series. Merlin and Gwen's influence manages to change that quite dramatically.
  • The Strategist
  • Submissive Badass: To Guinevere. Though she's half his size, there's a definite theme of Gwen being the more dominant one whenever they get physical (tackling him in The Curse of Cornelius Sigan, pushing him into a tent pole to kiss him in Sweet Dreams and topping during their makeout session in Queen Of Hearts).
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: He maintains a stoic demeanour when in front of his father, the court and his knights, but relaxes considerably when he's alone with Merlin, and is quite the big softie when it comes to Guinevere.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: How he acknowledges Merlin's wisdom without having to actually admit Merlin's right. Examples include?
    It's turns out Merlin's not always entirely stupid.
    It appears on this single solitary occasion you might have been right.
    I should have listened to you, Merlin. For once, you were right.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Arthur is the Sword to Merlin's Sorcerer.
  • These Hands Have Killed: The Herald of a New Age reveals that he has done pretty horrible things in the past before Merlin arrives in Camelot.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Chucks one at a cockatrice.
  • Tragic Bromance: With Merlin. Arthur dies at the end of the series while Merlin stays with him.
  • Tragic Hero: Arthur grew up trying to please an emotionally distant father. Most of the people he trusts betray him one way or another for different reasons. All his efforts to be a good king turn out to be not enough and Camelot is repeatedly threatened because of his tendency to blindly trust the wrong person.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The end of series 3 and series 4 are not kind to him. Morgana usurps the throne of Camelot, leaving his father a broken shell. His father later dies under circumstances that he blames himself for. Guinevere apparently cheats on him with Lancelot. To top it all, it turns out his uncle Agravaine has been betraying him all along. He's in such a bad Heroic BSOD that Merlin has to find a Magic Feather for him to regain faith in himself.
  • Tsundere: Arthur is Type A, primarily towards Merlin.
  • Twenty Four Hour Armour: It's not very consistent, but sometimes he can wear his armour at the oddest times, including to banquets and other casual celebrations.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Camelot and Albion.
  • The Unfavorite: It seemed as though Uther favoured Morgana over him. Uther was more tough on Arthur than he was towards Morgana.
  • Unfit for Greatness: Sometimes Arthur believes that he is not a worthy king or leader. He needs many pep talks from others, primarily Merlin and Gwen, in order to believe that he is a worthy king and leader of Camelot. In the season four finale, Arthur loses all hope in himself that he is worthy of being the King of Camelot, even agreeing with Tristan that there is nothing special about him that grants him worthy of his power and position. It takes Merlin getting Arthur to pull Excalibur out of a stone for Arthur to believe and have faith in himself again.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Gwen. It's resolved by the end of series four when they get married.
  • Unwitting Muggle Friend: For the whole series, Arthur was completely unaware and in the dark about Merlin being a powerful warlock who possessed magic. Merlin kept his secret from Arthur out of fear that Arthur would banish him or execute him. This is now subverted in the series finale, when Merlin FINALLY reveals the truth to Arthur that he is a powerful sorcerer. Much to Merlin's surprise, Arthur comes to accept Merlin and his magic, despite being extremely shocked and disgusted at first.
  • Uptown Girl: A Gender Flipped case for Gwen.
  • Veronica: To Lancelot's Betty.
    • Debatable.
  • Vague Age: Out of all the young cast, it's generally accepted that he was twenty-one in the first series, thus making him twenty-nine by the fifth.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Merlin, usually accompanied with throwing things on his side.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Arthur has plenty of them throughout the series, that it's too many to count.
  • Warrior Prince
  • Was It All a Lie?: After Merlin comes clean to him about having magic, he questions everything he knows about Merlin.
    Arthur: So you're not an idiot. It's all a lie
  • We Used to Be Friends: In regards to Morgana, after she did a Face-Heel Turn.
  • Weapon of Choice: Excalibur, though it does not actually happen until the end of Series 4.
  • Weapon Twirling
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Growing out of his desire to please his father is a big part of his characterisation.
  • Will They Or Won't They: Arthur and Gwen. Their budding relationship constantly grows strained because of their different social classes.
    • The magic reveal subplot with Merlin has shades of this too.
  • With Friends Like These...: Merlin.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Unlike Merlin or Uther.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Seems to get this no matter which direction he swings in. He either thinks he's the protagonist out to slay the monster or that he's a worthless excuse for a ruler. The guy doesn't seem to get Supporting Leader.
  • Young and in Charge
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: It's hinted that Arthur, despite his arrogance, suffers from low self-esteem thanks to the high expectations of his father. It's usually Merlin and Guinevere who provide the moral support needed for him to really embrace his role as a leader and future king.

     Lady Morgana 

Lady Morgana Pendragon (Katie McGrath)

"What if... magic isn't something you choose? What if it chooses you?"

Morgana is the beautiful ward of Uther who suffers from premonitions in her dreams, unaware that she is in fact, a seer. She is close to her maidservant Gwen. Her strong sense of justice often clashes with Uther's rules and judgement. In series 2, Morgana discovers that she is a seer, but fears what Uther may do if he finds out she has magic. She also briefly befriends the sorceress Morgause, unaware that Morgause is her half-sister. However, Morgana's growing resentment towards Uther and his treatment of those who use magic inevitably leads to her Face-Heel Turn. When she is used as a catalyst for a spell under Camelot, Merlin is forced to poison her. Morgause rescues Morgana, and it is implied that she can save her life. In series 3, Morgana has been recovered and returned to Camelot, but she is firmly set on the Dark Side, pretending to be the "loving ward" while she secretly plots with Morgause for the downfall of Uther and Camelot.

  • Action Girl/Dark Action Girl: In season 1/2 and season 3 respectively. As well as the last episode of season 4.
  • Action Fashionista: Morgana loves fashion plus she's an Action Girl to boot.
  • A God Am I: Well, not god as far as we know, but she certainly doesn't consider herself on the level of Muggles, and even treats her own kind with contempt if she has no use for them.
    Morgana: I am more powerful than you could ever imagine.
    • Always Second Best: However, it becomes apparent in Series 4 that despite her massive ego, the mere mention of "Emrys" is enough to reduce to her a nervous wreck. It's repeatedly shown that compared to Merlin, she's basically an ant.
  • Affably Evil: Morgana appeared this way to everyone, including to Merlin, Arthur, Uther, and Gwen, during the beginning of season three. She appeared to be polite and nice to everyone's faces, primarily Uther and Gwen. However, Morgana had already slipped over to the dark side. She became full-on evil in the later part of season three onwards.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: She seemed particularly interested in both Valiant in season one and Alvarr in season two.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl
  • Alpha Bitch: Oh so much.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Morgana's thirst for power and to become Queen of Camelot and gain entitlement to the throne at any cost, including trying to kill her own half brother (Arthur) and turning against her own former best friend (Gwen), is nothing but pure evil. Morgana's hunger for power turned out to be her ultimate downfall.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: To Uther.
  • Anti-Hero: Pre-Moral Event Horizon. Morgana could be classified as Pragmatic Hero and Unscrupulous Hero.
  • Anti-Villain: Morgana could be classified as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds r Well-Intentioned Extremist. Afterwards, she goes from a qualmless and often emotionless Well-Intentioned Extremist traumatized by her experiences and mostly seeing things in their light to a more thoughtful and calculative but also more human and confused antagonist, with a slight episode of Sanity Slippage (thus being technically a type III for anyone who sees her as a villain and doesn't choose the popular Alternate Character Interpretation).
  • Arch-Enemy: To Merlin (though she doesn't fully understand to what extent until the very end).
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: With Arthur, although the specifics of this trope don't apply due to their mostly siblingly relationship.
  • Axe Crazy: Definitely becomes this season four onwards albeit in a rather cold and manipulative way.
  • Badass: Morgana is an extremely powerful witch.
    • Badass Boast
    • Badass Cloak
    • Badass Normal: Before she discovered that she was a witch who possessed magical abilities.
      • Empowered Badass Normal: After Morgana gained her magical abilities. Not only did Morgana become a powerful witch and High Priestess, but she is also a master swordswoman and highly skilled in combat, skills which she possessed before she gained any of her magic.
    • Badass Princess: Morgana comes from Royal Blood.
    • Badass In Charge: Briefly at the end of season three and in season four. She became Queen of Camelot after deposing Uther.
  • Bad Boss: Consistently treats Agravaine poorly and is very quick to insult and blame him when things go wrong, even though he has been of enormous help to her at great personal risk.
  • Bad Dreams: Morgana suffers from nightmares, mostly about something bad that is going to happen to others in the future.
  • Bastard Bastard: Morgana is the illegitimate daughter of King Uther and a woman named Vivienne.
  • Batman Gambit: Toward's every character in the series, primarily to Arthur, Merlin and Gwen. Morgana often used manipulation (primarily with the use of magic) in order to cause harm to others.
  • The Beautiful Elite: Especially in season's one and two. Not to mention that Morgana does come from Royal Blood, although that was unknown in the first few seasons.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Eventually subverted.
  • Beauty Is Bad: From season three onwards after Morgana did a Face-Heel Turn.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: She went through many personality changes after series 2. You can find almost no similarities between her former self and her new self. Morgana was at first a confident, brave, and always compassionate young woman, who didn't judge any differences between magicians and non-magicians. After she discovers she has magical powers and would thus be hunted by Uther and shunned in Camelot, she becomes insecure and paranoid. Her feelings of isolation and lack of self-worth make her more self-focused. She slowly begins seeing everyone in Camelot as an enemy and reinterprets her relationships with them. After a betrayal, she begins to feel justified in her fear and considers all non-magic users in Camelot as worthless and cruel enemies who deserve to die. She then uses her insight into their inner lives to trap them, manipulate their minds, and ruin their romantic plot lines.
  • Big Bad: In series four and onwards. She is the opposite of Arthur, the Big Good.
    • May be in a Big Bad Duumvirate with Mordred come series 5, if the leaked info is any indication.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In the first episode of series 3 alone, Morgana's killed a knight, plotted with Morgause for the downfall of Uther and Camelot, while making numerous Psychotic Smirks to pretty much let us know she's way into The Dark Side.
  • Big "NO!": In 3x13, after Morgause is gravely injured; she literally brings the roof down.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Merlin, Mordred and Morgause. All have the gift of magic, although Morgana is originally unaware of that Merlin has magic.
  • Black Cloak: In series 4, complete with hood.
  • Bling of War: Morgana's "action gear" involves a shiny metal corset of some kind. Unless she were shot directly in the stomach, it's utterly impractical.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Where do we even start?
  • Bracelet Of Power: Morgana wears a special bracelet which was given to her by her half sister Morgause. The bracelet has magical power.
  • Brainy Brunette: Of the Magnificent Bitch type.
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Practically an inversion. She could be quite bratty in the first series (understandably so, given her status) when she was merely Uther's ward, but by the time her true parentage is revealed, she had moved from "bratty" to "homicidal".
  • Break the Cutie
  • Butt Monkey: Even before her Heel-Face Turn, the writers did not seem to like her.
  • Broken Bird: Morgana's resentment towards Uther's hatred for magic and those who use magic led to her Face-Heel Turn, so much that Merlin sympathizes with her in 3x02 and even tries to pull a "I Know You're In There Somewhere" Fight.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: With Arthur. In the first season, there was hints of Arthur/Morgan pairing, but in the third season, it was discovered that Arthur is her half brother due to the fact that she and Arthur share the same father, Uther.
    • Which is interesting, considering that in the original Arthurian legend, Arthur and Morgana have an unknown to them incestuous relationship.
  • Cain and Abel: With Arthur. In terms of roles, Morgana is the Cain (the Big Bad) to Arthur's Abel (the Big Good). She spends most of her time plotting to bring Arthur down and has made many attempts to kill him and make him suffer. And it seems as though she doesn't even care even after learning that he's her half brother. It's a far fall from when she actively defended him in 1x07. See Sibling Yin-Yang.
  • The Caligula: Her short stints as Queen of Camelot didn't seem to involve anything except demanding that the people accept her as their ruler, killing them when they refused, and burning their crops just to drive the point home.
    • Indeed, it often appears that Morgana seems to be under the delusion that by taking the throne of Camelot, everyone will automatically bow down and worship her as their new Queen. Thus her plans always spectacularly fail to take into account exactly why everyone has such Undying Loyalty towards Arthur.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Plenty. They get worse as the series goes on.
  • The Chessmaster: Morgana has no problem using and manipulating people to get what she wants.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Morgana will never hesitate to backstab and deceive everyone, including her own half brother (Arthur). This eventually becomes her biggest downfall.
  • Chronic Villainy
  • Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: A couple of times in series three.
  • Cleavage Window: Most of her outfits.
  • Complexity Addiction: Hoo boy. Nearly every single one of Morgana's plans falls under this trope.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Ended by series 3.
  • Consummate Liar
  • Costume Porn: Morgana's entire wardrobe, including dresses that wouldn't look too out of place at a cocktail party.
  • Convenient Coma: She ends up in at least three of these over the course of the series.
  • Cool Big Sis: To Arthur. At least in series 1. Ironically, neither of them knew it at the time, and when they both finally realize that she is his big sister, she's already tried to kill him several times.
  • Cool Crown: At the end of season three, when she is briefly crowned Queen of Camelot.
  • The Corrupter: Could be to every character on the show. But mostly to Gwen in season five. Also, to Merlin, when she tried to brainwash him into killing Arthur at any cost in season four.
  • The Corruptible: It could be argued that Morgana was easily swayed over to the dark side because of how broken, fragile and vulnerable she was emotionally, psychologically and mentally. Darkness had already existed inside of her but it could be that a combination of psychological and mental issues, a dysfunctional family (being a Pendragon), the people she surrounded herself with (bad influences such as Morgause, Agravaine and even Uther) and the people who had somewhat of an influence on her turning evil (such as Merlin's betrayal, Uther not publicly acknowledging Morgana as his long lost daughter, etc), is most likely what caused her to be so corruptible and what was able to let the darkness fully consume her to the point where she was filled with nothing but anger, hatred, jealousy and vengefulness on the inside.
  • Cute and Psycho: She was getting there in series 4, but seems to have fully crossed into this in series 5.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: To Uther of course.
  • Dark and Troubled Past
  • The Dark Chick: The opposite of Gwen, who is The Chick.
  • Dark Is Evil: Morgana started dressing like Bellatrix Lestrange in season four. In season five, she strays from the Bellatrix look, but continues to wear black from head to toe.
  • Dark Magical Girl
  • Dark Messiah: The Dochraid prophesies that Morgana will bring back the Old Religion to the land. A contrast to Merlin, who is the prophecised sorcerer who will guide Albion into a Golden Age.
  • The Dark Side: Morgana becomes evil and does a Face-Heel Turn in season three. She becomes darker and darker as the series progresses, so much that she is no longer recognizable to the character she was in season's one and two.
  • The Dark Side Will Make You Forget: She starts out with the best of intentions, (her first act of treason is to avenge the death of her best friend's father), but her fear and tendency to take everything personally eventually leads to violence and genocide.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Before she had her Face-Heel Turn, she had her witty and humorous moments.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Only to revert back into an Ice Queen in series 3.
  • The Determinator: Morgana will do anything, anything, to gain access to the throne of Camelot, including killing people, causing destruction, and betraying and backstabbing others (like Arthur). Hell, she has started wars due to her determination to get what she wants. Morgana is probably one of the most determined characters in the entire series, probably up there with Merlin.
  • Diminishing Villain Threat: The more Morgana tries to kill Arthur, the less threatening she becomes.
  • Does Not Like Men: An unusual case. In the first two series she was portrayed as friendly and flirty toward men, but as she falls further into evil she becomes less and less interested, to the point where she appears practically asexual in her complete lack of awareness of them.
  • Double Agent: In series 3.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come
  • Driven by Envy: This seems to be the source of her new-found hatred toward Guinevere, considering that her former serving maid is destined to be Queen of Camelot - a position that Morgana believes is hers.
  • Driven to Madness: Morgana being betrayed by Merlin at the end of season two and watching Uther, her father, endlessly execute her kind (magic users) as well as deny being her father to the public caused her (who already has a host of psychological and mental issues to start with) to become obsessive, sociopathic and insane.
  • Driven to Villainy
  • Drunk with Power: After Morgana discovered that she had magic and became very powerful, she used her powerful magical abilities to destroy Camelot and bring down Arthur.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Morgana is a highly dysfunctional individual. Her upbringing and her family (the Pendragons) are the most dysfunctional royal family ever.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Morgana has very dark hair with extremely pale complexion. It is very noticeable, especially when she wears black clothing.
  • Entry Pimp: Her entry is nearly twice as long as any other character's, including the one that the show is named after!
  • Ermine Cape Effect
  • Et Tu, Brute?: She did not take Merlin's betrayal or Uther not publicly recognizing her as his biological daughter well...
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Although Morgana is evil with bad intentions, it is clear that she cared for a few select group of people such as Morgause, Mordred, and Aithusa.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Averted; she is always known as Lady Morgana and apparently has not been awarded the title of Princess, even though she has been Uther's ward since early childhood and is secretly his daughter.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Merlin. See Foil.
  • Evil Feels Good: Justified. After becoming a sorceress, the only time she doesn't feel terrified and alone is when she's associating with the bad guys. Although she subverts it with Uther's death. Agravaine expects her to rejoice, but she's in a Troubled Fetal Position and wondering why she feels so empty.
  • Evil Gloating: There was never a time when Morgana didn't gloat about how powerful she was and how she would defeat Emrys and become Queen of Camelot one day.
  • Evil Is Petty: Sure, her animosity toward Uther and Merlin is justified, but her treatment of Gwen is just catty and mean.
  • Evil Makeover: As of series four, Morgana wears a gothic black dress and green eye-shadow with dark eyeliner, as well as having wild hair.
  • Evil Mentor: To Mordred and Aithusa, sort of.
  • Evil Plan: To destroy Uther, bring down both Arthur and Gwen, defeat Emrys (Merlin) and rule Camelot as Queen. She fails.
  • Evil Sorceress
  • Evil Wears Black
  • Excessive Evil Eyeshadow
  • Expy: Of Lex Luthor.
  • Face-Heel Turn: In season three onwards.
  • Fallen Hero
  • False Friend: Towards Merlin, and later towards Arthur, Gwen, and (in a daughterly manner) Uther.
  • Faux Affably Evil: If need be, she can put on a show of courtly breeding and etiquette.
  • Faux Action Girl: She is presented as a feisty girl with a sword, but she never accomplishes anything. Read this.
  • Flirty Step Siblings: Arthur and Morgana are kind of like this during series 1 since Uther is the guardian of Morgana, and she is like a daughter to him. It is almost as if Uther adopted Morgana, which would make Arthur and Morgana like stepsiblings.
  • Foil: To Merlin. She's consistently referred to as "witch" in parallel to Merlin's "warlock". They both have great power and live in loneliness because of it, and are both prophesied to bring magic back. However, she's more unforgiving of non-magical people's fears and mistrusts than Merlin, and are more inclined to take out her resentment on them. As the Great Dragon puts it, she's the darkness to his light, the hatred to his love. She is also the Dark Messiah to Merlin's Messianic Archetype. She's also a noble as opposed to Merlin's commoner background.
    • Also to Gwen, for many of the same reasons as Merlin.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Morgana becoming evil (or at least becoming an enemy of Camelot and its people).
  • Freudian Excuse: There are various and understandable reasons as to why Morgana did a Face-Heel Turn. Some of them include her dysfunctional upbringing, watching Uther (her own father) consistently persecute and execute those of her kind (magic users), having to hide her identity as a witch within Camelot out of fear of being executed, suffering from psychological, emotional and mental issues, and also being betrayed by both Uther and Merlin.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Averted. It's not that Morgana was nobody, it's that Morgana goes from being a "normal" King's Ward into one of the most powerful and most dangerous characters in the entire series. Most of this has to do with the fact that Morgana became completely corruptible and let power, jealousy, anger and greed take over her and her motivations.
  • The Gift: When Morgana finally accepts her magical powers, sometime between seasons three and four, she becomes a High Priestess after one year of training. She eventually becomes a serious threat to Merlin, who is the most powerful Warlock in history. She is a skilled swordswoman and is always able to get her hands on an army.
  • Girly Bruiser: Morgana is very feminine but she's a rather capable fighter and is pretty handy with a sword.
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: Inverted. More like Psycho Girl With Weapon. It's not that the weapon Morgana often has on her (mostly a sword or a knife) is psycho, it's that Morgana is psycho.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Morgana was crowned Queen of Camelot in one of the final two episodes of season three. Also, she was momentarily Queen in season four.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: When Morgana was still good in the first two seasons, she wore lighter colours such as blue, purple and green. However, after Morgana did a Face-Heel Turn, she started to wear much darker colours, specifically black.
  • Good Girl Gone Bad
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: For two years in between series 4 and 5, Morgana and Aithusa were locked at the bottom of a well away from the sun. It seems to have shattered nearly every remnant of sanity she had left.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: She gets no less than four purple dresses over the course of the first three series, two of silk and two of velvet: one, two, three, four which denote her status as the king's ward, as well as the fact that...
  • Green Eyes
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Morgana is strongly driven by envy, jealousy and revenge.
  • Hair Tropes
  • Hard Head: Holds the record for being knocked unconscious more than any other character on the show, which is saying something. What do you expect? She's Merlin's equivalent of Lex Luthor.
  • Heel Face Door Slam: At the end of the second season, Morgana is unknowingly the source of an enchantment that has put everyone in Camelot to sleep. The only way to break the enchantment is to kill the source (the source being Morgana) - so Merlin poisons her. Throughout that season, Morgana had been teetering between good and evil but this act of betrayal (Merlin's betrayal against her) acts as a catalyst. So when she returns a year later, her half sister Morgause has corrupted her completely. Then in a season three episode, Morgana discovers that she is King Uther's birth daughter. When he refuses to acknowledge her, it's a pretty definitive door slam for Morgana.
  • Heroic BSOD: Kate McGrath said that Morgana sort of "shuts down" in 2x12 as she realizes her role in Morgause's plot.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Gwen. This starts to deteriorate in Season 3. Also, with Morgause.
  • High Priestess: Becomes one after Morgause's death.
  • Hot Witch
  • Hourglass Plot: With Guinevere. The two essentially switch positions over the course of the show.
  • Ice Queen: Morgana is cold, icy, selfish and sociopathic.
  • Ill Girl: Quite often, notably in A Remedy To Cure All Ills, The Crystal Cave and the beginning/end of A Servant of Two Masters/The Secret Sharer. And that's not even counting her on-going nightmares that Gaius is continually trying to suppress with various tonics.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit
  • In the Hood: Is often wearing one when she's up to no good.
  • Internalized Categorism: Morgana explicitly tells Uther that she hated herself for years after realizing that she had magic, having been brought up for a significant portion of her life by a man who claimed that it was evil and executed anyone who possessed it. It almost becomes a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: having taken in Uther's teaching that magic was evil, she subconsciously believes that having embraced her magical side, she has to act evil.
  • Irrational Hatred: The sheer, inexplicable vehemence with which she plots Guinevere's death is difficult to grasp. Granted, she feels as though Gwen is usurping her position as Queen of Camelot, but that she so quickly leaps to the betrayal and attempted murder of her once-closest friend with no remorse whatsoever is rather jarring. Of course, she also plots Arthur's death, but for whatever reason, she takes Guinevere's existence that much more personally.
    • Probably due to the fact that Gwen, like everyone else, thought that magic was evil, and thus would likely have feared her had she known about her powers. See Gwen's entry in Fantastic Racism.
  • It's All About Me: Morgana is extremely selfish, self-centred and narcissistic. She is also very envious, jealous and thirsty for power. She will do anything and everything in order to get what she wants, even kill innocent people and seek to destroy her own family (Uther and Arthur).
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Has shades of this through the first two series, attempting to kill Uther at least twice because of her hatred towards him. By the third series, she's long since become a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing and crossed the Moral Event Horizon. By the fourth, the Morgana who'd rather die than see a child hurt in series 1 (Mordred), callously reacts to the news of innocents death with an expression of "So?".
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: She does come from royalty after all.
  • Killed Off for Real: After multiple attempts by Merlin with the immortal blade Excalibur in the series finale.
  • Knife Nut: She carries a knife with her at all times during the course of series four.
  • Lack of Empathy: This was actually telegraphed fairly early on. Though she's sympathetic when Gwen's father dies, the end of the episode suggests that she was channelling her own grief for her father's death all along. Likewise, whilst she was still in her "good phase", she refused to return to Camelot when she heard that hostages would be killed if the druids did not release her (Uther having mistakeningly believed she was kidnapped). By the third series, she responds to Merlin's plea that women and children are dying with the word: "Good!"
  • Last Of Her Kind: She is the last High Priestess of the Old Religion.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: 1x10 and 2x04.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Dark obviously, though with less emphasis on sexuality (in the later series) than the trope usually implies.
  • Like Brother and Sister/Platonic Life Partners: Arthur and Morgana become this in Season 2 and are revealed to be half-siblings in Season 3.
  • Like Father, Like Daughter: The great irony of her character.
  • Little Dead Riding Hood: Morgana narrowly avoids this fate in The Nightmare Begins after escaping to the forest in a bright red hooded cloak.
  • Long-Lost Relative: She is revealed to be Morgause's and Arthur's half-sister.
  • The King's Ward: Her position makes some people like Alvar and Morgause seek her out for their attempts to bring down Camelot.
  • Memento MacGuffin: The bracelet she received from Morgause to help her sleep.
  • Magic is Evil: At least when Morgana uses magic.
  • Magic Knight: Morgana knew how to use a sword effectively before she ever discovered that she had magic.
  • Magnetic Villain: Morgana not only had the support of Morgause, Agravaine, Aithusa, Modred and many other magic users, but she also has an entire army (The Saxons) which strongly outnumbered Camelot's army (Arthur's army) by 5 to 1 supporting her and her cause. She is the opposite of Merlin, who is a Magnetic Hero.
  • Making a Splash: Whereas Merlin's powers seem to be based on air and fire, Morgana is often connected with water, most obviously in The Tears of Uther Pendragon in which the damp mandrake root conjures up visions of drowned murder victims.
  • Mama Bear: Morgana's strong attachment towards Mordred causes her to become very protective of him and a willingness to do anything for him in order to keep him from harm's way.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Even when she was good, she was very adept at getting people to do what she wanted them to. See her manipulation of Arthur throughout The Beginning of the End and Uther in To Kill The King.
  • Master Swordswoman: Morgana has been shown to very capable and effective in sword fighting.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: You could definitely make a case for Morgana.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: She began turning against Camelot when she discovered that she has magic and feared for her life. Merlin's poisoning her clinches it.
  • Monster Sob Story
  • Morality Pet: Is more or less one for Uther, and is definitely one for Morgause. Aithusa becomes one for her in series 5.
  • More Than Mind Control: Being under Morgause's guidance for an entire year must have made her the way she is in series 3.
  • Motive Decay: At some point her goals shift from ridding Camelot of a tyrannical king (justifiable) to killing her half-brother and becoming queen herself (not so much).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Some of Morgana's outfits have been somewhat revealing.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Though she keeps changing her mind on this. Usually she goes straight for the kill when she shouldn't and relies on overly complicated plans when she should just be killing.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Morgana.
  • Nice Girl: Was this before her Face-Heel Turn.
  • No Sympathy Between Mooks: Morgana even treated her own allies and people who were on her side badly, most notably Agravaine.
  • Not as You Know Them: Her return in series 3.
  • Not Quite Dead: Many times in the series, but most notably after Merlin poisoned her in season two.
  • Not So Different: Annis calls her on her similarities to Uther, despite her hatred of him.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: In series 4 her black outfit is fitted with a laced-up corset.
  • Offing the Offspring: She's terrified of Uther for exactly this reason.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: She's a master of this after going evil. If the camera drifts away from her for more than a few seconds, she's gone.
  • Oh Crap: Morgana in A Servant Of Two Masters upon seeing the 80-year-old disguised Merlin, having had visions of him as "Emrys" and foreseeing that he will stand over her on a corpse-littered battlefield, admonishing her for her misdeeds. Occurs again for "The Sword in The Stone, Part II".
    • In "Diamond of the Day Part 2", the smug expression on her face turning to rapid horror after Merlin reveals that the sword he ran her through with was actually Excalibur, a weapon forged in Dragon's breath. In other words, a weapon that can actually kill her.
  • The Ojou: In the earlier seasons, before she did a Face-Heel Turn. See Proper Lady.
  • Orcus On Her Throne: In series 4 Morgana spends a lot of time sitting in her hovel, waiting for other characters to bring her news of what she's ordered them to do.
  • Parental Abandonment: Her father died ten years ago, and her mother's whereabouts are unknown. But as it turns out, Uther is her biological father and kept it secret all along.
  • Parental Substitute: Of sorts, towards Mordred.
  • Pet the Dog: Has a genuine bond with Aithusa.
  • Pimped-Out Dress
  • Plucky Girl: Before her Face-Heel Turn.
  • Politically-Active Princess: Both before and after her Face-Heel Turn. Prior to it, would often stick up for the rights of magic-users, afterwards she tries to topple the Pendragon dynasty.
  • The Power of Hate: In season three she is driven entirely by hate, some of it understandable (toward Uther and Merlin) and some of it inexplicable (the writers never give us a reason why she suddenly loathes Arthur and Guinevere).
  • Proper Lady: Primarily in the earlier seasons when she was King Uther's ward before she did a Face-Heel Turn.
  • Proud Beauty: At times, especially in the earliest episodes.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Morgana gives these all of the time.
  • Psychopathic Woman Child: Morgana displays traits of entitlement, selfishness and brattiness. At times, she displays immaturity, especially when it comes to feeling that she is entitled to the throne of Camelot. Morgana can come off rather bratty and immature and she throws temper tantrums whenever she doesn't get her way.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Morgana wears a lot of purple, which strongly reflects her coming from Royal Blood as well as being a powerful witch and high priestess.
  • Put Them All Out of My Misery: At this point, she seemingly just wants to make everyone suffer.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: The contrast of Morgana's very dark hair and pale skin is even more noticeable in the later seasons.
  • Rebellious Princess
  • Requisite Royal Regalia
  • The Resenter: Of Arthur and Guinevere for their positions in Camelot and their addherence to Uther's anti-magic policy.
    • She also has a strong resentment against Merlin for poisoning her in season two. In fact, it could be argued that Merlin's betrayal is what cause Morgana to do a full on Face-Heel Turn.
  • Rich Bitch: She comes from royalty after all.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Morgana became this towards Merlin, Arthur and Gwen in season three onwards.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What she's been doing for the past two series.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: With Gwen and Morgause.
  • Royal Brat: Especially after she did a Face-Heel Turn.
  • Royal Blood: Morgana is the daughter of Uther, who was the former King of Camelot.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Morgana could be the Trope Codifier. She is the illegitimate daughter of King Uther. Morgana hates Uther but ironically, shares many traits in common with him. Morgana also has many psychological, emotional and mental issues.
  • Salt and Pepper: With Gwen. Morgana was the King's Ward, while Gwen was Morgana's maid-servant. While Morgana is passionate, high-strung and easily corrupted, Gwen is much more down-to-earth, practical and calm. Morgana is also wealthy and comes from Royal Blood, while Gwen is a poor commoner.
  • Same Character, But Different: The abrupt switch in her personality between series 2 and 3.
  • Sanity Slippage: By series 5, her desire to rule Camelot seems to be the only thing keeping her even remotely grounded. He's so lost in her hatred that the mere mention of failure to kill Arthur sets her off.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: Morgana possesses magic. Therefore, she believes that she is able to do whatever she wants because she is a powerful witch. Morgana often tries to use her strength and power of magic to intimidate others.
  • Seer
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Which leads to her Face-Heel Turn.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Her mother and the man she looked to as a father and believed for a long time was her father were already dead, but she gave Agravaine the amulet to kill the wounded Uther-her birth father.
  • Shadow Archetype: To Merlin.
  • Shipper on Deck: Morgana became a bit of a shipper of Merlin/Gwen in 1x03 and 1x04.
  • Show Some Leg: Morgana devises this plan in order for Gwen and her to escape from bandits in 2x04.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With Arthur. They are opposites in regards to personalities and outlooks.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: With Arthur.
  • Smug Snake
  • Smug Super: When she doesn't have to hide her magic, she's not shy about lording it over non-magic users.
  • The Snark Queen: Morgana won't hesitate to use sarcasm.
  • The Sociopath: Morgana definitely displays traits of sociopathy.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Appeared this way before she turned bad in season three.
  • Spirited Young Lady: In seasons 1 and 2 before her Face-Heel Turn
  • The Starscream: Morgana beginning in Series 3 becomes this to Uther.
  • Start of Darkness: It could be argued that Morgana started to become evil after Merlin poisoned her in season two. In the series finale, Merlin even admitted that he blames himself for Morgana turning evil and into a villain.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: In Series 1-3, while she's a high-ranking noble, her role in Camelot as the King's Ward is basically to show up at functions and look glamourous, and she doesn't have much actual power (compared to Guinevere later on who actively takes part in ruling). Arthur has made some disparaging comments that she should just comb her hair or whatever a girl of her station does all day.
  • Stylish Protection Gear
  • Sugary Malice: She's good at this one.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: Like Merlin, when she uses magic.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: With Morgause and later Agravaine.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After she discovered that she had magic and found Morgause, she stopped being afraid and began to use her power purposefully.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
  • Traitor Shot: Gets dozens and dozens. And dozens.
  • Tragic Villain
  • Troubled Abuser: All her interactions with Guinevere post series 3.
  • True Companions: Was this with Merlin, Gwen and Arthur before her Face-Heel Turn.
  • The Unfettered: Morgana is extremely ruthless in her actions. She doesn't have any guilt or remorse for her actions or hurting others.
  • Unkempt Beauty: In season's four and five. Morgana went from wearing fancy dresses and looking like royalty in the earlier seasons to wearing black gothic clothing with wild, untameable hair in the later seasons.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Before season four. When Morgana was the King's ward in season's one to three, she had a variation of different outfits and dresses. After she turned bad in season three, her wardrobe became less vibrant and became more limited.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Merlin, Morgause, Gwen and Arthur.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Morgana has it towards Uther, Gwen and Arthur. She has anger towards Merlin to a lesser extent.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Arthur invokes this explicitly in 5x02 when he reminds her that she used to be so kind and compassionate as a child. Her response? "I grew up."
  • Vain Sorceress: Subverted, as the more powerful and evil she gets, the less interested she becomes in maintaining her appearance. Though she's still beautiful, her messy hair and dark make-up she's not really trying to impress anyone.
  • The Vamp
  • Villainous Breakdown: Morgana has one when she finds her sister Morgause gravely injured in 3x13.
  • Villainous BSOD: See Villainous Breakdown.
  • Villain Corner: Towards the end of season two, Morgana was already started to do a Face by joining forces with Morgause. Morgana became increasingly darker and more evil after Merlin poisoned her. It could be argued that Merlin poisoning Morgana and betraying her caused Morgana to do a complete Face-Heel Turn.
  • Villainous Breakdown: At the end of season three, when she finds Morgause gravely injured. She screams so loud in devastation that she literally brings the walls down with her magic.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: In series 1.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Along with Morgause. Given Uther's treatment of those with magic, her shift in alignment is understandable and her side may even have the moral high-ground over Uther, but like Uther, she uses some ruthless tactics to achieve her end.
  • We Used to Be Friends: To Merlin, Arthur and Gwen. In fact, she says these exact words to Gwen in The Hunter's Heart.
  • What Kind Of Lame Power Is Precognitive Dreaming Anyway?: Though she has dreams of the future, she can't control them, barely understands them, and has never achieved anything worthwhile at first with her foreknowledge of events to come.
  • White Stallion: When she was still on Camelot's side.
  • Wicked Cultured: Morgana comes from royalty, therefore, she was raised cultured and was surrounded by all of the finer things in life.
  • Wild Card: In series 2.
  • Wild Hair: In series 4 and onward.
  • Witch Species
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity
  • Woman in Black: As of series 4, all part of the general theme that Dark Is Evil.
  • Woman in White: Sometimes in series 2 and 3, highlighting her vulnerability.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Morgana wants nothing but to bring Camelot, Uther and Arthur down. She is willing to do so at any cost. Although, if you look at Morgana's story, you can understand why she became evil or turned against Uther and Camelot. Morgana has always yearned to be accepted in Camelot as a magic user. However, watching her father, Uther, endless persecute and execute people of her kind has made her disdain and hatred for Uther and Camelot grow as time goes on. So, while Morgana doing evil things against Arthur, Uther and Camelot may be wrong on all levels, it is understandable why Morgana did turn against all of them at the same time.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Occasionally. She gets really good at almost fooling everyone.
  • You Are What You Hate: As several characters point out to her in series four, Morgana has become just like Uther.
  • You Could Have Used Your Powers for Good: What Merlin tells Morgana in season three after she did a Face-Heel Turn.
  • You Killed My Father: A surprisingly low-key take on this trope in which Morgana accuses Uther of indirectly killing Gorlois by not sending troops to his aid.
  • You're Not My Father: Morgana indirectly says this of Uther, telling a neighbouring Queen that it was Gorlois that raised her, and who she thus considers her true father.

     Guinevere (Gwen) 

Queen Guinevere (Gwen) Pendragon (Angel Coulby)

Merlin: "You have such a good heart, Gwen. Don't ever lose that."

Guinevere — nicknamed Gwen — was the maidservant of Morgana and a good friend of Merlin's. She is a hardworking and kindhearted, young woman who is often awkward and shy when it comes to romance. As of the finale, she is queen regnant of Camelot.

  • Action Girl: Gwen is highly capable of defending herself and can use a sword quite effectively.
    • Action Fashionista: Gwen becomes one after she becomes Queen of Camelot in season four.
    • Action Survivor: She was this before she became more active in missions, plans and battles later on in the series.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Gwen is given a Rags to Riches storyline by becoming the wife of King Arthur later on in the series.
  • Adorkable: More so in series 1, but she does retain a bit of it when it comes to denying or hiding her feelings for Arthur.
  • Anchored Ship: With Arthur. Since series 2, although both know of their mutual feelings for each other, they've refused to upgrade their relationship because of, among other things, their different social classes.
    • Now averted, as the two are married.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: With both Lancelot and Arthur.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Gwen had feelings for Merlin in season one which were unreciprocated.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Gwen is crowned Queen of Camelot in the season four finale.
  • Badass: Both before and after Gwen becomes Queen. Gwen has shown and proven over the course of the series that she is highly capable of defending not only herself, but others as well. She also never hesitates to throw herself into danger or into a battle.
    • Badass In Charge: When Gwen becomes Queen of Camelot. In fact, Gwen Took a Level in Badass after she became Queen.
    • Badass Normal: Gwen is completely human and therefore, she has no abilities whatsoever, yet she is highly capable of defending herself and others when the time calls for it.
    • Badass Queen: In season four, Gwen becomes Queen of Camelot when she marries King Arthur.
    • Heartbroken Badass: Gwen has gone through a lot of hardships and pain in the name of love and romance and she hasn't had the best of luck in the love department. Especially in regards to her male suitors, Arthur and Lancelot.
    • Took a Level in Badass: After Gwen became Queen.
  • Batman Gambit: Pulls one off in 5.02 by gambling on Ruadan's Papa Wolf instincts.
  • Battle Couple: With Arthur, especially before she becomes Queen, but also after as well.
  • Beauty Mark: Of the nice kind. They are especially noticeable in close up shots.
  • Berserk Button: None of her own, but notable considering she is almost everyone else's berserk button. Mess with her, and there'll be a wave of very angry warlocks, princes and knights out to get you.
    • DO NOT mess with Merlin.
    Gwen in 4x08: "GET AWAY FROM HIM!"
    • Don't harm her younger brother, Elyan.
    • Messing with the love of her life, Arthur, isn't a good idea either.
  • Betty and Veronica: Gwen is the Archie to Arthur's Betty and Lancelot's Veronica. She chooses Arthur.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In 5.01, she sentences her servant Sefa to death.
  • Big Sister Instinct: Towards Merlin and Elyan. She is highly protective of both of them. Merlin is even one of her Berserk Button's.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Merlin. Both come from poor or commoner backgrounds. They both originally couldn't stand Arthur and thought that he was a bully, although both of their opinions of Arthur gradually change over the course of the series (Merlin develops a strong and intense friendship with Arthur; Gwen falls in love with Arthur). Both are servants to someone of status, nobility and wealth. Merlin is the personal man-servant of Arthur, the Prince of Camelot; Gwen is the maid-servant of Lady Morgana, the King's Ward). Also, Merlin and Gwen both share The Heart role on the show. Merlin represents the male emotional aspect of the series, while Gwen is the female centrepiece of the series. Both Gwen and Merlin are advisors to Arthur and guide him to do the right thing as much as possible. Both Merlin and Gwen are compassionate, humble, kind, friendly and understanding in personality. It is no wonder that Merlin and Gwen "clicked" from the very beginning since they share so many traits in common.
  • Black Best Friend: To both Morgana and Merlin. However, this is subverted with Morgana since Morgana did a Face-Heel Turn in season three.
  • Brainwashed: Post the events of 5.06. And all the resultant tropes:
    • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The only good parts of the plans (i.e., getting Merlin out of the way, actually making good excuses) are hers. This seems to be her only character trait remaining.
    • Face-Heel Turn: An involuntary variant.
    • Manipulative Bitch: Almost as manipulative as Morgana.
    • Stockholm Syndrome: Morgana invokes this by torturing her into thinking all her loved ones hate her, and then offering comfort and help, thus allowing a...
    • Symbiotic Possession: It is explained that her behavior is due to Morgana taking over her will and replacing her will with her own, which causes the following behaviors...
    • The Power of Love: What helps to break the enchantment, with the help of Merlin disguised as a woman, Dolma.
  • Brainy Brunette: Gwen is quite smart, pragmatic and logical.
  • Break the Cutie: In Lancelot du Lac, in which she is enchanted into betraying Arthur by Morgana, is banished from Camelot and none of her friends are there to see her off except Merlin. Not even her own brother wants to see her. The cherry on top? Only the audience and the villains know she was enchanted, so she believes everything is her fault. This isn't so much Break the Cutie as smash her to bits, stomp on the pieces, and grind them to dust. As if that isn't enough, she gets enchanted AGAIN by Morgana to kill Arthur and was probably tormented a bit while she was held captive.
  • Broken Bird: At various points in the series. Most notably in season one, when Uther has Gwen's father, Tom, executed even though he was innocent; in season four, when Arthur banishes Gwen from Camelot; and also in season five when her brother Elyan unexpectedly dies. Gwen has lost all of her family and after her brother died, she was corrupted by Morgana.
  • Brown Eyes: One of her physical defining features.
  • But Not Too Black: Gwen is portrayed by bi-racial actress Angel Coulby.
  • Cassandra Truth: Guinevere spends a lot of time in series 5 warning Arthur about the dangers inherent in him constantly riding out on missions. He never listens.
  • Chickification: In Season 2, Gwen's role is pretty much just The Heart and Arthur's Love Interest.
    • Rectified in Season 3.
  • Character Development: From shy, stuttering maid to regal, confident queen.
  • The Chick: She is the feminine centrepiece of the series. The opposite of Morgana, who is The Dark Chick.
  • Cleavage Window: Sometimes, from Season 2 onward.
  • Closer to Earth: She is one of the few minority characters on the show.
  • The Conscience: She's the moral compass of the show. With Arthur being morally compromised early on due to his allegiance to Uther and Morgana and Merlin going the slippery slope, she embodies honesty, principles and goodness.
  • Cool Big Sis: To Elyan.
  • Cool Crown: Gets one at the end of the season four finale. Guinevere is lucky enough to wear a very elaborate, but still elegant-looking silver crown adorned with jewels.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: In season five, by Morgana.
  • The Cutie: Primarily in season's 1 and 2.
  • Cryptic Conversation: In "Diamond of the Day Part 2", she has this type of conversation with Gaius, confirming her suspicion that Merlin was indeed the Sorcerer that turned the tide at the Battle of Camlann in Camelot's favour.
    Gwen: The Sorcerer in the battle, you knew who he was?
    Gaius: *Beat* Yes.
    Gwen: Do I know him? Please Gaius, answer me honestly?
    Gaius: Yes.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper
  • Distressed Damsel: A couple of times, but not nearly as often as you'd think. It's probably because the (very few) Gwen-centric episodes do involve her in considerable distress.
  • Dogged Nice Girl/Unrequited Love: Towards Merlin in Season 1.
  • Dude Magnet: Zig-Zagging Trope. This is something of a Memetic Mutation due to her reputation in the source material. In this version, Arthur and Lancelot have fallen in love with her, and Gwaine and Helios have shown brief interest (however, both are characterized as being womanizers; in their case, it's not so much that Gwen is special so much that Gwen is there). The trope was subverted with Merlin, who shows no romantic interest in her at all, despite her obvious crush. If you're keeping track at home, Arthur has been romantically linked with more women than Gwen has with other men. note 
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Gwen's wardrobe changed drastically after she became Queen. She was seen wearing royal clothing.
  • Everything Is Better With Queens: Averted. Guinevere, of royal blood in most of the legends, is reimagined as a commoner and servant. In fact, she and Arthur seemed to have almost swapped roles as traditionally Arthur was raised as a commoner.
  • Expy: Of Chloe Sullivan.
  • The Face: Gwen is more diplomatic in her approaches socially. See The Heart.
  • Fantastic Racism: Subverted and Played With. She doesn't hate magicians, unlike Uther, but like him, she is afraid of magic and tries to punish people who use it. It leads to several unconspicuous Kick the Dog moments.
    • She tells Gaius what happened with Morgana after she used magic in front of her, an act that could have gotten her mistress imprisoned, even if she was declared the King's ward and had all along actually been his daughter. In her defense, what Morgana did was a curse and before that Morgana went off with someone who was not what they seemed.
    • In 4x03, she told Arthur in a deleted scene that she was mistrustful of magic and blames it for a tragedy which befell on her father, hoping that he won't use magic to heal his father (which is the equivalent of choosing lawful over good).
    • In 5x01, she sounded very angry (and had a frightening look on her face), just a short moment after learning that Sefa (her maid)'s father was a sorcerer, before pretending to sentence her to death while actually working to save her and getting her father, The Man Behind the Man, emprisonned in her place, an uncharacteristically harsh gambit which she doesn't seem to regret.
  • Fan Service Pack: See for yourself. She starts out as a commoner, with the associated plain clothes and modest appearance but becomes Progressively Prettier as the show goes on.
  • The Fettered: Gwen strongly believes in laws and following the rules. She is all about doing the right thing as much as possible.
  • Forceful Kiss: To Arthur in 2x10 in order to break him out of an enchantment.
  • Freudian Trio: In the trio of herself, Merlin and Arthur, Gwen is The Kirk or Ego (The Heart, motherly, nurturing, loved by both Arthur and Merlin as a Love Interest/Sister Figure to Merlin's The Spock or Superego (Calm, secretive, logical, intelligent, has made at least one Sadistic Choice in which he sacrificed a dear friend in order to save a greater number of people) and Arthur's The McCoy or Id (Arrogant, aggressive, impulsive, is driven by his emotions, usually puts the individual before the bigger picture to Arthur's). See The Kirk.
  • Genre Savvy: Realizes her servant is a traitor pretty quickly. It usually takes Pendragons either an episode or an entire season to figure these things out. She also catches on to Morgana's Stockholm Syndrome attempt in Series 5, but unfortunately Morgana had time on her side and it worked anyway.
  • Girl Friday: Can be this at times to Merlin, especially when they're teaming up to solve mysteries.
  • Girl Next Door: When Gwen was still a maid servant. This changed after Gwen became Queen.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: She's easily the most observant character in the show and knows how to talk people into action.
  • Good Is Not Soft: After discovering her maid leaked information to her father, tipping off Morgana's forces about Arthur's plan of rescue, cue Gwen swiftly sentencing the maid to death for committing treason. Even Sir Elyan appears shocked at the ease of which she declares this. However, it turned out to be a ruse to invoke a Papa Wolf response from her father, who Gwen considered the actual threat. She just needed it to be convincing. It was a gamble, but it worked.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Gwen wears a lot of purple dresses, especially when she becomes Queen. Gwen was seen wearing purple colours while she was a servant as well.
  • Guile Hero: Check out the Crowning Moment Of Awesome page; most of her entries involve her simply TALKING to people, using a blend of logic and guile to convince them to act according to her wishes.
  • Hair Tropes:
  • Happily Married: To Arthur in series 5.
  • The Heart: Gwen shares this role with Merlin.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Morgana. This starts to deteriorate in series three.
  • The High Queen: As of the end of series four. This is even more true in the series finale considering that Gwen became the sole ruler of Camelot after King Arthur dies. In fact, the very last words of the entire series are "Long Live The Queen!", as cried by everyone present in the throne room.
  • Honest Advisor: Together with Merlin to Arthur.
  • Hot Consort: For King Arthur.
  • Hourglass Plot: With Morgana, essentially taking her place as the most powerful woman in Camelot.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With Arthur.
  • Impossibly Cool Clothes: After Gwen becomes Queen.
  • In-Series Nickname: Her full name is Guinevere but almost everyone calls her Gwen, except Arthur. Arthur always calls Gwen by her full name "Guinevere".
  • Inter-Class Romance: With Arthur. Gwen was a poor servant/maid and Arthur is a rich noble. This is now subverted after Gwen married Arthur and became Queen.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Gaius.
  • Interspecies Friendship: With Merlin. Merlin is a warlock and a Dragon Lord; Gwen is a human.
  • I Will Wait for You: At the conclusion of Queen Of Hearts, she promises to wait for Arthur to become King, at which point they can marry.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Especially when she becomes Queen.
  • The Kirk/Ego (Freudian Trio): In the trio between herself, Arthur and Merlin, Gwen is The Kirk/Ego (motherly, nurturing, sensitive, The Chick) to Arthur's The McCoy/Id (arrogant, aggressive, impulsive, Hot-Blooded) and Merlin's The Spock/Superego (calm, logical, intelligent, The Chessmaster). See Freudian Trio.
  • Lady and Knight: Played remarkably straight with Lancelot and Guinevere, even though they aren't a lady or a knight when the show begins. However, Lancelot always makes a point of referring to Gwen as "my lady" and by the end of the third series he's been permanently knighted and by the end of the fourth season, she is "my lady" as she's Queen!
    • There's a little of this with Gwen and Gwaine as well.
  • Lady in Red: A Queen, Gwen wore a lot of red dresses.
  • Lady of War: To a lesser extent than Morgana. Mostly after Gwen becomes Queen at the end of season four.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: 1x10, 2x04 and 5x01.
  • Like Brother and Sister/Platonic Life Partners: Gwen eventually becomes this with Merlin in series 2.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Light to Morgana's dark.
  • Limited Wardrobe: In the first series she (understandably) only had two outfits.
  • Living MacGuffin: There is nobody that wouldn't risk their life for Gwen if she is kidnapped, gone missing or is in trouble of some sort. Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot and the rest of the Knights would all come searching for her and risk their lives in order to find her without even a second thought.
  • The Load: Depending on the Writer. On one hand, her quick mind has proven useful on several occasions, on the other, she's still a relatively small and untrained peasant girl who often winds up being a Distressed Damsel.
  • Love Hurts: The poor girl never catches a break — her feelings for Merlin are unrequited, her brief romance with Lancelot abruptly ends when he leaves Camelot, only to return and their romance is rekindled until Lancelot leaves again after noticing Arthur's and Gwen's feelings for each other, leaving Gwen upset, and her budding relationship with Arthur constantly becomes strained because of their social classes. Once she and Arthur become stable, she is enchanted into cheating on him with Lancelot - the kicker being only the audience and the bad guys know - and banished from Camelot forever. To top it all, Gwen has to assume power at the cost of Arthur's death.
  • Love Triangle: At the centre of the most famous one of all (between herself, Arthur and Lancelot). Gwen chooses Arthur.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Arthur and Gwen are essentially this trope because Arthur is royalty while Gwen is a servant girl and King Uther won't hear of a romance between them. Though Arthur is white and Gwen is mixed-race, race is not a factor in Uther's disapproval.
  • Mama Bear: Gwen is VERY protective of those she loves and cares about and will go to far lengths to protect them as much as possible.
    Gwen to the Lamia in 4x08: GET AWAY FROM HIM!!!
    • If you ever betray Arthur while he's on a rescue mission, she'll order your execution.
  • Martial Pacifist: Guinevere dislikes violence and could under no circumstances be described as an Action Girl (though she wields a sword on a couple of occasions, she's clearly not that good at it, and she remains the only main character to have never taken a life). However, she embodies the Silk Hiding Steel trope, and at the beginning of series four, she witnesses the city gates being closed on refugees flocking to Camelot to escape the evil spirits invading the kingdom. She, a female servant, confronts the council of noble-born men, and using nothing but common sense and her own understanding of human nature, convinces all of them that their wisest choice of action is to re-open the gates and allow people to seek refuge in the city. They comply.
  • Missing Mom: The whereabouts of Gwen's mother are unknown. It is possible that she is deceased.
  • Modest Royalty: Though she gets a significant upgrade in clothing, she only ever wears minimal jewellery (just earrings and her wedding band). This is in stark contrast to Morgana of the first two seasons, who was often decked out in necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings.
  • Morality Chain/Morality Pet: Serves as this for Arthur.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Especially in the later seasons.
  • Muggle Best Friend: To Merlin. While Merlin is a powerful sorcerer with magical abilities, Gwen i s a regular human.
  • Mythology Gag: She gets Arthur's conventional characterization in Arthurian legend: commoner to ruler of the realm, marriage to a royal, leader of the kingdom to a Golden Age of justice and chivalry.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Arthur witnesses her and Lancelot kissing the night before her and Arthur's wedding. Made all the worse because only the audience knows that she was under a spell the entire time and she actually believes that she willingly betrayed Arthur even if she doesn't understand why.
  • Naming Conventions: At the start of the show, she was invariably referred to as Gwen as a reflection of her status as a maid. This changed as the series went on (in particular, her Love Interests usually called her by her full name), and by series 5, she's consistently called Guinevere to reflect her higher status.
  • The Needs of the Many: She often gives wise advice to Arthur and/or the Council on this principle.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: The kingdom'd never benefit from Gwen's wise rule had Arthur not fallen in love with her.
  • Nice Girl: Very much so. She becomes more struct after she becomes Queen, yet she still remains generally good and kind hearted.
  • Ninja Maid: In The Moment of Truth at least.
  • Non-Action Snarker: She might not be able to sword-fight an opponent into submission, but she's sassed quite a few bigger, stronger, more powerful people in her time.
    "I don't expect someone like YOU to understand that."
  • Occult Detective: Occasionally, with Merlin before she became Queen.
  • Official Couple: With Arthur. At the end of season four, Gwen marries Arthur and she and Arthur become the Ruling Couple of Camelot.
  • The Ojou: Especially when she was a maid-servant.
  • Only One Name: Subverted. Before she married Arthur, Gwen's last name was unknown.
  • Opposites Attract: Gwen is a poor servant and Arthur is a wealthy royal. They come from completely different backgrounds and social statuses.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Wears them as outerwear in series 2 and 3. She seems to be wearing them as underwear in series 4.
  • The One That Got Away: She is this to Lancelot.
  • Parental Abandonment: Her father was executed at Uther's hand, and her mother's whereabouts are unknown.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Gwen gets a rather dramatic clothes upgrade after she becomes Queen at the end of season four. She starts to wear much fancier dresses in comparison to the plain dresses she wore when she was a maid and a servant.
  • Plucky Girl: Gwen is very positive, optimistic, spirited and upbeat. She tries to believe the best in everyone and in everything, much like Merlin.
  • Politically Active Queen
  • The Pollyanna: Although she's also remarkably pragmatic.
  • Pragmatic Heroine: Gwen is incredibly pragmatic and logical in her thinking, especially when she became Queen in season four.
  • Progressively Prettier: It's not that Gwen wasn't pretty before, but after Gwen became Queen in season four, her physical appearance and her wardrobe took a turn for the better.
  • Promotion to Parent: Elyan says of her: "she raised me."
  • Proper Lady: Especially as Queen. Even as a maid, she was very polite and courteous.
  • Race Lift: In the Arthurian legends, Guinevere is Caucasian. But on the show, Guinevere is not.
  • Rags to Riches: Gwen went from being Morgana's maid to being the Queen of Camelot.
  • Rags to Royalty: See Rags to Riches.
  • The Reliable One: Gwen is highly dependable and trustworthy. She is always there for her friends at a time of need. Even Merlin can be seen depending on Gwen from time to time.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: After Gwen became Queen of Camelot.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Their social classes aren't played into the Love Triangle, but Arthur (rich suitor) and Lancelot (poor suitor) for Gwen.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: With Morgana. They could also count as Heterosexual Life-Partners, before Morgana's Face-Heel Turn in season three.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The first episode that showcases her as Queen makes a point of demonstrating how active she is: she gives advice at a council meeting, she rules the kingdom in her husband's absence, and she ferrets out a traitor that was leaking information to her enemies.
  • Ruling Couple: With King Arthur in season four and five.
  • Salt and Pepper: With Morgana. Gwen worked as Morgana's maid-servant while Morgana was the Kings Ward, and where Morgana is passionate, high-strung and easily corrupted, Gwen is down-to-earth, practical and calm.
  • Satellite Character: Gwen really has no real Character Arc of her own, at least not one that isn't connected to her relationships with Morgana, Arthur or Merlin. She does have a father and a brother, but the former was killed off and she barely interacts with the latter. That said, it's also an example of Tropes Are Not Bad, as her relationships with Merlin, Arthur and Morgana make up a significant part of the show.
  • Satellite Love Interest: She is often accused of being "just a love interest" by detractors, and though it's true that most of her screen-time does indeed centre on her relationship with Arthur, the ultimate purpose of her Character Arc was to become Queen of Camelot — and it's unclear how her cynics expected this to happen without a relationship with Arthur arising (as you may have guessed, a lot of Die for Our Ship was at work here). Her Character Development involved a significant boost in confidence brought about by Arthur's love for her, and many of her strongest scenes note  occurred when Arthur was completely absent. And by the end of the series, she assumes control over Camelot after Arthur's death with confirmation by Word of God that she successfully ruled over the Golden Age in his stead. She could be described as a case of a Satellite Love Interest in the sense that she's Never a Self-Made Woman, but her character was given plenty of personal development and independent power as a direct result of her role as Arthur's Love Interest.
  • Second Love: As Gwen realizes her feelings for Merlin are unrequited in 1x05, she finds a brief romance with Lancelot.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: Reveals in the finale that she knows about Merlin's magic. When she put it together is unknown, but as Merlin never found out she knew in the finale.
  • Shrinking Violet: Gwen started out as shy, introverted and a bout on the timid side, although she eventually grows out of it.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Gwen's new look in Season 2. Not that she needed it, though.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: What attracted Gwen to all her three love interests.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Gwen was a kind, caring, and shy castle maid who takes pride in her work. If necessary, Gwen is a capable fighter and can hold her own in battle reasonably well. More importantly, she's the firm moral compass of the series and the connection to common people of Arthur (Merlin is also the other connection to common people of Arthur as well).
  • Spirited Young Lady: Especially before she became Queen.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: With Lancelot. Her marriage to Arthur ends tragically short too because of his early death.
  • Stay In The Castle: Guinevere's job as Queen is to maintain control in Camelot while Arthur is away.
  • Supporting Leader: To Arthur's The Leader when she becomes Queen. While Arthur leads most of the battles, missions and plans, Gwen will step in whenever Arthur is unavailable in any way.
  • The Strategist: At times.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Several time it's mentioned that she's an excellent seamstress. That said, we don't ever get to see her doing any sewing.
  • They Fight Crime: She's teamed up with Merlin on more than one occasion to solve the Mystery of the Week.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Definitely seems to be the case in series 5 after becoming High Queen.
  • True Blue Femininity: Many of her dresses are blue; particularly in series 4.
  • Tsundere: She is a Type B, primarily towards Arthur in the earlier seasons.
  • The Unchosen One: Unlike Arthur, Merlin, Morgana and Mordred, who all have their destinies outlined by various prophesies and portentous words by the Dragon, Guinevere becomes Queen because Arthur loves her. Other than Morgana’s dreams, she is not mentioned in any prophesy. More importantly, by the very end, she is implied to be the monarch who will repeal the oppression on magic users and brings Camelot to the golden age instead of Arthur, who merely paves the way and is ultimately killed off.
    • Interestingly, in "The Hunter's Heart, Merlin does say that it is Arthur's "fate" to marry Gwen, but it's unclear if Merlin is referencing an actual prophecy or just voicing his own opinion.
  • Unfazed Everyman: She's seen Merlin get up to some truly bizarre things over the years, but seldom reacts with anything more than a bemused smile.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Arthur and Lancelot. Her supposed crush on Merlin is more or less abandoned between series 1 and 2.
  • White Stallion: In The Dark Tower.
  • Whoopi Epiphany Speech: Gives one to Merlin, which encompasses the moral standing of the show, outlining why Uther can't just be killed.
  • Will They Or Won't They: Arthur and Gwen. Their budding relationship constantly grows strained because of their different social classes.
    • They Do: They are finally married at the end of series four.
  • Women Are Wiser
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: She has to act as regent of Camelot when Arthur heads into danger, and it is not easy for her.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Averted, despite the legendary expectations. She's faithful to Arthur, and kisses Lancelot only when under a spell.

     Uther Pendragon 

Uther Pendragon (Anthony Head)

Uther Pendragon is the ruthless king of Camelot who has outlawed magic within the kingdom. Often his hatred for magic blinds him from his tyrant-like nature, but he nevertheless believes what he is doing for Camelot is right. While Uther does not often show it, he does strongly care about his son Arthur and his ward Morgana, as well as acknowledging loyalty from his subjects e.g. Gaius and Merlin (occasionally).

  • Abusive Father: In many ways, at various points, to both Arthur and Morgana.
    • In Series One, he had them both imprisoned in the dungeon for nothing more than calling him out on his tynrincal nature.
  • Achey Scars: He has an old battle wound in his side that he sometimes complains about.
  • Action Dad: Uther was always involved in whatever is happening with Arthur and within Camelot.
  • Adults Are Useless
  • Aggressive Categorism
  • The Alcoholic: Subtly implied, as Uther is frequently seen with a goblet in hand. Though given the calamities that often nearly spell the end of Camelot, you can understand why his reaction would be I Need a Freaking Drink.
  • Anti-Villain: Type III with a bit of Type I as well.
  • A Sinister Clue: He wields sword and pen with his left hand.
  • Badass
  • Back from the Dead: Temporarily, in 5x03.
  • Berserk Button: Threatening or hurting either of his children (Arthur and Morgana) is a sure way of getting the King very angry.
    • Also, the subject of magic under any circumstances.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Uther hunts down anyone related to magic, even healers, even children. He's a cruel dictator. Getting rid of him would be a good thing. However the villains trying to kill him, Morgana and Morgause, have some evil tendencies in a Well-Intentioned Extremist way. They will kill others, but only if they have to to get to Uther or Arthur later.
  • Broken Pedestal: Arthur gradually comes to realize that his father is not the infallible father/king that he initially believed him to be.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Had Kilgharrah locked away in his dungeons for twenty years with magic chains to serve as an example what would happen to all magic creatures. When Kilgharrah got out in Series 2, he nearly burned Camelot to the ground as revenge.
  • Cool Crown: Let's just say that Uther's crown was so much better then Arthur's crown.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Uther certainly played a large part in how Morgana turned out.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When he realizes the depths of his daughter's hatred for him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He wanted an heir but his wife was barren. Nimueh cured his wife's sterility but to keep the balance of life and death she died in childbirth and for this he has mounted a genocidal campaign against all magic users. Particularly disproportionate if Nimueh is telling the truth that she didn't know it would be Ygraine that would die
  • Doting Parent: To Morgana, but only after she returns from her year-long absence. Before that, he could be quite distant.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Uther may be ruthless and cold, but there is no doubt that he loves his children (Arthur and Morgana).
  • Expy: Of Lionel Luthor.
  • Fantastic Racism: Uther is strongly opposed to magic and magic users. He that magic was a nothing but a source for evil and that all people who practice magic are the root of all the evil and damage within Camelot.
  • Final Speech: He manages a few last words to Arthur before slipping into a coma that he awakens from only very briefly.
  • Freudian Excuse: His extreme hatred of magic comes from the circumstances of Arthur's birth: Uther was desperate for an heir. His wife couldn't conceive, so he asked Nimueh to help him have a son. She didn't tell him, however, that giving life by magic requires the taking of a life to keep the balance. Arthur was born, but Uther's wife dies.
  • The Good King: Uther believed himself to be a fair and just king, despite being completely against magic and the magical people.
  • He Who Fights Monsters
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: King Nathan Giles Pendragon.
  • Heroic BSOD: Is rendered catatonic after Morgana betrays him in the third series finale. One year later, he's still a shell of the man he once was, leaving Arthur ruling the land in his stead.
  • Hypocrite: He is a deliberate and fascinating example. After enlisting the help of a sorceress in order for his barren wife to conceive, he set about killing and terrorising everyone who practised sorcery (even those who did so for perfectly innocent reasons) even though he had no one to blame for his wife's death except himself. He had the Great Dragon imprisoned with enchanted chains in his dungeon. The real kicker is when Morgana gets sick in series 3, and he actually coerces Gaius into using magic to save her. You'd think this act of blatant hypocrisy would make him decide to ease up on the sorcerers a bit from then on, but you'd be wrong...
    • Later on in series 3, there was a sorcerer going around healing people miraculously who was Gaius's former lover. Uther wanted Gaius to see if sorcery was involved in the healings and it is implied he would have executed whoever did it. The fact that he was willing to use magic to miraculously heal Morgana is made even more hypocritical because of that in retrospect.
    • The reason he hates magic in the first place is because he made a deal with a sorceress to concieve a son with his barren wife. Furthermore, he describes his deceased wife as "my soul" and yet we later find out that he had an affair with his best friend's wife, and that (as he says to his son) "I know about the temptations of serving girls."
  • It's All About Me: He bans and allows magic use as he wants it. There's also a subtle hint that he defines loyalty to Camelot as loyalty to himself, as evidenced in the Great Purge.
  • Jerkass
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: On every issue except magic, though there is rather more Jerk than Gold. Notably he is very sympathetic to Merlin's mother when Ealdor is being attacked and expresses a desire to see the Jerk Ass who's doing it wiped off the face of the earth.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: There is apparently some sort of court system in Camelot (people speak of getting "fair trials") but when it comes down to it, Uther can demand whatever sentencing he likes on whoever he deems guilty.
  • Kick the Dog: Just about every episode.
  • Killed Off for Real
  • Knight Templar / Knight Templar Parent
  • Like A Daughter To Me: Morgana. Quite literally.
  • Love Makes You Evil: He hates magic so much, because it caused a death of his beloved wife.
  • Master Swordsman
  • Mr. Fanservice
  • Never My Fault: He completely denies his responsibility in his wife's death, and taking his anger and sorrow on Nimueh and other magic users.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: Inverted. Uther's genocide of the dragonlords actually causes the birth of Merlin, who is destined to undo all his work.
  • Noble Demon: Uther might be a genocidal tyrant but he's also a loving parent and a brave warrior who will put himself in harm's way to protect his kingdom.
  • Overprotective Dad: Uther is shown to be overprotective of both Arthur and Morgana at times.
  • Papa Wolf: Is very protective of Arthur and Morgana when it comes to life-threatening situations (usually Arthur) or kidnapping attempts (usually Morgana).
    • We all knew that once Aredian pulled a knife on Morgana in 2x07 (in front of Merlin, Arthur, and Uther, no less) that he wasn't going to leave Camelot alive.
  • Parental Favoritism: Uther seemed to show a favouritism towards Morgana over Arthur.
  • Parental Substitute: For Morgana. At least, it seems this way until it is revealed that she actually is his illegitimate daughter.
  • The Patriarch
  • Pet the Dog: At the end of Excalibur. It's obvious that Uther loves his children, and speaks of his late wife as "my soul." He's also fond of Gaius, and can be made to see reason on several issues.
  • Pride: Aside from his blind hatred of magic this causes or makes worse the problems in the series. He places the word of the nobility above anyone else, cannot stand to look bad due to self-image, jumps to conclusions and hardly listens to anyone since he thinks he is always right, and only changes his mind when publicly presented with irrefutable evidence. He tries to avoid apologizing when he is wrong and can barely spit one out trying to place blame on others all due to his pride.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: It's heavily implied that he was this in his youth. He does prove himself quite handy with a sword.
  • These Hands Have Killed: He clearly suffers from a guilty conscience when faced with the apparitions of his deceased wife and the children he drowned.
  • Too Dumb to Live: To the point that you start to wonder how he and Arthur managed to stay alive until Merlin arrived.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: His hatred of magic stems from his grief and guilt over his wife's death (troubled), he dearly loves both his children (sympathetic) and yet he is utterly ruthless and hypocritical when it comes to eradicating those that practice magic (bigot).
  • Royally Screwed Up
  • Upper-Class Twit: Sometimes.
  • Vetinari Job Security: Of a sort, the only real reason Merlin prevents anyone from killing him is he is needed as a placeholder until Arthur is ready to take over and prevent another worse king/threat from taking over.
  • Villain Protagonist
  • Villainous BSOD: Suffers a nasty one once Morgana brings to light how much she truly hates him in 3x13.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: He is convinced that magic is evil and threatens Camelot.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Uther gets this A LOT.
    • But only sometimes to his face.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Has ordered the deaths of children in the past (via drowning) as well as the attempted execution of Mordred.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Has no problem with this. He's attacked both Morgana and Guinevere.
  • You Are Grounded: To his children, several times. He's not adverse to shutting them in the dungeons either.

     Gaius 

Gaius (Richard Wilson)

"I'd give my life for you, Merlin."

The court physician, Gaius took Merlin under his care in his arrival to Camelot. He attempts to voice reason to Uther's judgement and ideals, but often gets rebuffed until his suspicions are proven correct.

  • Adult Fear: Merlin is like a son to him and he constantly lives in fear that Merlin'll get himself killed one way or another. He also witnesses Merlin becoming increasingly world-weary and ruthless.
  • Anachronism Stew: Gaius' medical knowledge is far too advanced for the time period of the series.
  • Applied Phlebotinum
  • As You Know: Gaius is the KING of this trope. How many hundreds of time have we heard him say some variation of: "you/he/she can't use magic or you'll be killed" or "we can't tell anyone about Morgana/Agravaine/any other obvious villain because they'd never believe us".
  • The Atoner: It's impiled taking Merlin under his wing is his way to make up for his inaction during the Great Purge.
  • Badass: He definitely has his moments.
    • Badass Grandpa: Gaius takes on a Dorocha without even flinching in order to save Gwen.
    • Retired Badass: Gaius may have given up practicing magic, but he still has it in him.
  • Berserk Button: Hurt or threaten Merlin in any way and Gaius will go off on you.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Saves Merlin from Morgause in 3x13.
  • Brick Joke: Gaius constantly telling Arthur that Merlin is in the tavern when he disappears to do his magical thing.
  • Broken Masquerade: In series 3, Uther indirectly admits he knows Gaius was a sorcerer in the past, when he asks him to do anything, even magical to save Morgana.
  • Category Traitor: A lot of magic users like the Dragon and Nimueh hold Gaius to be one, since he became Uther's court pyschian, and turned a blind eye to the deaths of magic users.
  • Canon Foreigner: You won't find any Gaius in Arthurian legends as he was created specifically for the show.
  • Characterization Marches On: In the first handful of episodes, he was a typical Absent-Minded Professor who couldn't keep track of what day it was, accidentally set his bench on fire, and whose (egregious) Establishing Character Moment was falling off a ladder. Later he became a much more astute mentor with Feet of Clay.
  • The Confidant: To Merlin and Uther, and occasionally to Guinevere and Morgana (in the early years) as well.
  • The Consigliere: He is Uther's most trusted adviser and maybe the closest thing he has to a friend and tries to be the voice of reason to Uther's arrogance and prejudices. Unfortunately, Uther rarely bothers to listen let alone heed his advice.
  • Cool Old Guy
  • Court Mage: Several episodes imply that Gaius was the Court Mage before sorcery was outlawed in Camelot. One can infer that he was spared during the purge due to his loyalty to Uther, his skill as a physician and because his knowledge of sorcery meant he was invaluable at identifying any magical threats to the kingdom.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Defector from Decadence: One possible interpetation for turing his back on the Old Religion. In the first episode he claimed that people were using magic for the wrong reasons and it was throwing the natural order of things into chaos. When confronted by Edwin Muirden over the fact he did nothing to stop his parents execution, Gaius claims they were practicing dark magic.
  • Demoted to Extra: In series four and five, he is given virtually nothing to do except provide exposition and exist as a sounding board to Merlin. True, that was always his role, but he was also given several character-centric episodes in the past. This was not necessarily a bad thing, as the introduction of the knights of the Round Table at the end of series three meant that the show was juggling Loads and Loads of Characters, and one of the themes of the season was passing on the torch to the younger generation.
  • Dirty Coward: It's heavily implied during the Great Purge, that although he helped certain people like Balinor and Alice escape Uther's prosecution, for the most part he sided with Uther in order to save his own skin (and might have given names as well, Uther mentions he's asked Gaius to do things he found difficult) as he watched countless witches and wizards be burned at the stake and did nothing. The Dragon cynically mentions that "turning a blind eye" is Gaius' talent in Series One.
  • Expy: Of Jonathan Kent.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: To a memetic level.
  • Fingerless Gloves: He's seldom seen without them.
  • Ignored Expert: He had perhaps a 50% success rate in convincing Uther of dangerous magical circumstances.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Arthur and particularly Guinevere (Merlin falls into the Like a Son to Me category).
  • Like a Son to Me: Merlin.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: To Merlin. Except for the Great Dragon, he's the only one Merlin can confide in about what is going on and occasionally rants to. It's probable that he's never killed off for real because the chance that Merlin would completely go to the dark side like Morgana is too great.
  • The Masquerade: He's a retired magician.
  • The Medic
  • The Mentor: To Merlin about the use of magic.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Almost dies three times.
  • Morally Ambiguous Mentor: He's accused by Nimueh of betraying fellow magic users during the Great Purge. On screen, he's focused on maintaining the status quo (more specifically, Merlin's safety) to the exclusion of everything else. Merlin arguably picks up deception and secrecy from him.
  • Mr. Exposition
  • The Obi-Wan: To Merlin. Gauis not only serves as a parental figure to Merlin but he is also mentors and guides Merlin on how to use his magic usefully and wisely.
  • Occult Detective: Often alongside Merlin.
  • Oh Crap: In Queen Of Hearts he is asked to identify a poultice as magical. After confirming it, he asks where it was found and is told: "Arthur's bedroom." He looks over at a smirking Morgana and realizes that he's just condemned Guinevere.
  • Old Retainer
  • Only One Name
  • Papa Wolf: Endanger Merlin in any way, Gaius will make you pay one way or the other. He is very protective of Merlin and is very much a parental figure to him.
    • Also rather protective of Gwen but not to the same extent of Merlin of course.
  • Parental Substitute: For Merlin.
    • To a lesser extent, Gwen as well.
  • Secret Keeper: the only character in the core cast knows about Merlin's magic.
  • Shipper on Deck: From the looks of 2x13, he approves of Arthur/Gwen.
  • Team Dad: To Merlin and Gwen especially, but also Arthur and Morgana (though he messed up spectacularly in that case).
  • You Just Told Me: A variation in which he forces Merlin to reveal his powers by tipping a bucket of water over. Merlin automatically freezes it.
Merlin The CharacterCharacters/MerlinMerlin Others

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