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Knights of the Round Table
Played by: Graham ChapmanThe main character. He is the king of the Britonsnote . God sent him and his knights on a quest to find the Holy Grail. Acts very stoic considering the amount of strangeness happening around him.Tropes associated with this version of King Arthur:
- The Comically Serious: His main contribution to the film's humor is remaining completely straight-laced through it all.
- Cool Crown and Cool Helmet: Wears a helmet that looks like a crown.
- Cool Sword: Excalibur, of course.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mostly he plays the Straight Man to the rest of the movie, but he occasionally gets in a couple of digs at them.
- Not So Stoic: Compared to other characters, who have very eccentric personalities, Arthur always acts like people would expect from a king... until someone starts pointing out the absurdity of proclaiming royal status on the basis that one was given a sword by "a watery tart".
- Only Sane Man: In a movie where all the characters are weird, eccentric or absurd to some degree, Arthur is pretty much the only one who isn't. Unless you count his refusal to acknowledge that this isn't a serious movie.
- Put on a Bus: Well, more like a police van. Just like everyone else
- The Smart Guy: Much wiser than Sir Bedivere.
- Verbal Tic: He says "five" instead of "three", then is corrected by his knights.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Arthur is convinced that he is in a straightforward Arthurian legend, and no amount of silliness shall convince him otherwise.
Sir Bedivere the Wise
Played by: Terry JonesThe wisest of the knights. Unfortunately, that still doesn't leave enough wisdom to be detected without the aid of powerful instruments.
- Character Tics: He always holds his visor up, despite being able to look perfectly through it.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Despite being treated as The Smart Guy, he is more accurately this trope, most of his learnings based on Insane Troll Logic.
- The Fool: Despite his inherent idiocy, he still manages to survive through the end.
- Informed Attribute: Played for laughs. He is supposed to be wise, but makes very big mistakes and acts like a fool.
- Insane Troll Logic: Employs this to help villagers expose a witch. It went like this: Witches burn. Wood also burns. Wood floats. Ducks also float. So if someone weighs the same as a duck, she is made of wood and is therefore a witch.
- This is only Insane Troll Logic for the viewer: in-universe, the woman in question does indeed weigh the same as a duck, and turns out to be a witch after all.Witch: It's a fair cop.
- This is only Insane Troll Logic for the viewer: in-universe, the woman in question does indeed weigh the same as a duck, and turns out to be a witch after all.
Sir Lancelot the Brave
Ax-Crazy knight. He always tries to solve his problems through violence. Is also very dramatic in his way of acting.
- Affably Evil: He's quite charming when he's not in the middle of a killing spree.
- Always Save the Girl: Rushes off to rescue someone once he receives a call for help. Once he finds the person in distress is a man and not a woman as he expected, he's flabbergasted. Not angry or ready to raise hell about it, just flabbergasted.
- Ax-Crazy: When something provokes him to fight, there is nothing stopping him from slaughtering everyone on sight. Even wedding guests had to die.
- The Berserker: It doesn't take a whole lot to set him off, and once he gets going he'll kill people indiscriminately, no matter if they're putting up a fight or not.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: He IS John Cleese, you know.
- Chaste Hero: Unlike Sir Galahad, Lancelot appears to be completely unaffected by feminine wiles. While dragging off Galahad from Castle Anthrax, he's accused of being gay.
- Easily Forgiven: Subverted. He bursts into Swamp Castle, killing multiple guards and unarmed wedding guests. But when the King of Swamp Castle realizes the potential of arranging a marriage with a knight of Camelot, he instantly forgives Lancelot. The wedding guests, however, aren't so forgiving. Only when the allegedly dead prince Herbert proves to be alive do the wedding guests forget about Lancelot.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Deconstructed and Subverted — he's certainly a brave knight, and he's even affable enough as long as he isn't riled up... but, as is quickly revealed, he is very much a violent, homicidal maniac who kills people without a second thought.
- Large Ham: Tends to burst into dramatic speeches during his 'heroic rescue mission' at Swamp Castle.
- Leeroy Jenkins: He has exactly one strategy: Charge right ahead without thinking. It works too — he's one of the few characters who actually survives to the end.
- One-Man Army: Slaughters half of an entire castle full of guards to save, erm, the prince.
- Only Sane Man: Until he has to rescue someone...
- Token Evil Teammate: To the Knights. He murders a lot of innocent people attempting to rescue (what he thinks is) a Damsel in Distress.
- Unstoppable Rage: He even Lampshades it to the King of Swamp Castle:"You see, when I'm in this idiom, I sometimes get sort of, er, carried away..."
Sir Galahad the Pure/Chaste
This knight does not do much in the film. Like his title says, he is a chaste knight.
- Adorkable: Michael Palin plays him as a preppy Upper-Class Twit, but you can't deny he has a certain awkward charm. The ladies of Castle Anthrax certainly think so!
- Deadpan Snarker: "What a strange person."
- Chaste Hero: He tries to be this, but after being in Castle Anthrax for around 10 minutes, he gives up.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Parodied. He tries to resist the allure of one hundred and sixty nymphomaniac blondes and brunettes between the ages of 16 to 19, but eventually starts to succumb to their temptations and actually decides to give in, just as Lancelot comes in and drags him away. He then begs to be allowed to go back and face the "peril."
- Too Dumb to Live: His inability to decide whether blue or yellow is his favourite colour leads to rather fatal results.
Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lancelot
- Accidental Hero: Saves Arthur and Bedevere from the Knights Who Say Ni by uttering their Achilles' Heel (the very common word 'it') without realizing it.
- Badass Moustache: His moustache is much more badass than him.
- Bring My Brown Pants: He is known of personally wetting himself at the battle for Badon Hill. He also did it when the Killer Rabbit made his first victim.
- Deadpan Snarker: For someone so cowardly, he sure can be sarcastic when the mood takes him.
- Informed Attribute: An in universe example. He is claimed to be the brave sir Robin, but runs away from every sign of danger. But this does not stop his minstrels from singing how bravely he ran away.
- Lovable Coward: "When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled..."
- Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: It's nearly as big as his body. All the better to cower behind.
- Miles Gloriosus: He has a group of minstrels follow him around to constantly boast about his skills, and he always tries to look like a brave and heroic knight. Too bad he isn't.
Sir Not Appearing In This Film
This is not a real character, but more of a gag when the narrator introduces the Knights of the round table. When his picture is shown, he appears as a baby wearing a chainmail coif that's too large. This is actually Michael Palin's son, William Palin. He is the Trope Namer to Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer and Lady Not-Appearing-in-This-Game.
- Adapted Out: A parody of the concept, with a name that wouldn't make sense in the hypothetical work that introduced him.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: He's aptly named because he's not appearing in this film.
- The Law of Conservation of Detail: Parodied. Normally if the character does not appear in a film, there's no need to mention him at all. Not so for Monty Python.
The Black Knight
- An Arm and a Leg: Loses all of his limbs in the fight with Arthur.
- Butt Monkey: Seriously, getting all four limbs lopped off one at a time?
- Catch Phrase:
- The Determinator: Taken to its extreme and (il)logical conclusion.
- Feel No Pain: Getting his limbs chopped off doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest. John Cleese himself has noted that if it weren't for this trope, the scene would likely come off as more sadistic and heartless than funny.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: While he initially has a certain degree of menace, it all goes out the window when the dismemberment starts.
- Just a Flesh Wound: Trope Namer. Even when both his arms are cut off, he insists that it's only a flesh wound and he's still perfectly capable of fighting.
- Large Ham: He is played by John Cleese, so it's not surprising that he Chews The Scenery a bit.
- Stone Wall: Parodied.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Kills the Green Knight by throwing his longsword through his face.
- Too Dumb to Live: The main reason why he loses all of his limbs.
- The Worf Effect: He looks pretty badass when he fights the Green Knight, but he flails around hopelessly when facing Arthur.
- Worthy Opponent: Arthur considers him one, but quickly loses respect as he de-limbs the Knight.
- You Shall Not Pass: Attempts this on Arthur without taking Excalibur into account. Arthur disarms, and dislegs, him.
Reappear in the end where they claimed the Castle Aaargh as their own.
- Abnormal Ammo: Subverted. The French try to scare the Knights of the Round Table away by throwing living animals at them. While the scene looks strange, the DVD commentary reveals it has really been done in history, but not with the kinds of animals used in the movie. They also catapult the Trojan rabbit at the knights.
- Big Bad: The final battle is a siege against the French soldiers who apparently had the Grail the whole time. Subverted when the Investigator shows up and arrests everyone
- Blowing a Raspberry: The leader of the French soldiers does this every encounter.
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Inverted. The French are constantly getting the drop on the English knights.
- Flowery Insults: It almost seems they live for this trope.
- French Jerk: They have no reason for mocking and taunting Arthur and his knights, other than being French when Arthur and the knights are "English pig-dogs."
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Despite their constant insults, they never actually swear. The gag is that they pretty much use the most colourful insults possible without outright saying anything profane (at least by modern standards).
- Although, "make castanets out of your testicles" is pretty graphic.
- I Shall Taunt You: Trope Namer. They seem to do it just for fun, ironically.
- Jerkass: Their only reason to be in England seems to be to insult English knights in almost every way possible. During the climax, they even occupy Castle Aaargh, where the Holy Grail itself is located, just to humiliate the English even further.
- Just a Stupid Accent: At least one of them cannot even speak French.
- Poirot Speak: "I'm French! Why do you think I have this outrageous accent?"
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Surprisingly subverted; despite their constant torrent of increasingly bizarre insult, the worst word any of them uses is "fart."
- Verbal Tic: They cannot pronounce the word 'knights' correctly. Instead, it sounds like 'k-nnniggits'.
The Three Headed Knight
- Allegorical Character: This character can be seen as a Take That! towards bureaucracy. The body of the knight can only act once all three heads agree. But by that time, new developments have taken place that render their previous agreement useless. In this case, Sir Robin appeared, causing the Three Headed Knight to argue how to deal with him. But after reaching an agreement, Robin already left. Likewise, a large company or institution might run into trouble adapting to new technological advancements or other societal developments. When the administration of said company or institution finally decided how to deal with said developments, other developments have already taken place.
- Multiple Head Case: This gave the brave Sir Robin the chance to bravely run away.
- Nice Mean And In Between: Terry Jones's head is the mean one who insists on killing Robin, Michael Palin's head is friendlier and wants to be nice to him, and Graham Chapman's head, being in the middle, is literally in between the two.
- Two Men, One Dress: Played by three Python members sharing a costume.
The Residents of Castle Anthrax
160 blonds and brunettes, between 16 and 19 and a half years old. They light a grail-shaped beacon to lure knights to them in order to tempt them.
- All Women Are Lustful: Taken Up to Eleven. They're all trying to get it on with Galahad and aren't at all subtle about their attempts at seducing him.
- Always Identical Twins: Zoot and Dingo are twins, and look and act exactly like one another. And are never on-screen at the same time. And are played by the same actress. Actually, we only have Dingo's word that they are two separate people.
- Unwanted Harem: They try to get this role to Galahad, but it's ultimately Subverted, first when Galahad starts to succumb to their charms, and immediately afterwards when he's "rescued" by Lancelot.
- The Vamps: Sort of. While not inherently evil, they do try to tempt the chaste sir Galahad into sexual activities.Zoot: It is a lonely life...
The Knights Who Say Ni!
Like it says on the tin, they frequently say 'NI!' as a Brown Note of sorts. Their leader is a very tall man who wears a large helmet with antlers. He is the one who speaks in behalf of the whole order. The rest of the knights only say 'NI!' and mostly repeat what the head knight is saying.
They live in a spooky forest and coerce travelers into buying shrubberies for them.
- 419 Scam: They run an absurd medieval version of this. In order to pass through their forest, travelers have to pay them shrubberies. When they do, they are informed that the Knights changed their name and that the traveler therefore must buy them another shrubbery along with performing an impossible but ridiculous task. In an earlier version of the script it is implied they will keep changing their name in order to make their victim continue to do things for them, without ever granting passage through their forest.
- Brown Note: Known for terrorizing people this way, just by saying the word "ni." Their leitmotif as well.
- Cool Helmet: The Head Knight wears a bucket-shaped helmet with antlers on it and the other knights wear horned helmets that cover their faces.
- Dark is Evil: They are dressed in black/dark brown and their leader looks like a typical Evil Overlord.
- The Dreaded: The Knights who say Ni! appear to have a terrifying reputation, considering the fact they inspire fear within nearby villages, maybe even the whole country, cause the shrubbery-economy to collapse and make a fearful king Arthur do their bidding. Anyone who terrifies King Arthur like that is worthy of being called 'the Dreaded'.Arthur: "Those who hear them seldom live to tell the tale."
- Evil Sounds Deep: Inverted, as they all speak in high pitched voices.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: They are knights and they say Ni!, so their name kind of fits them.
- Impossible Task: They tell Arthur that in order to get past them, he must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest wiiiiith... a herring! Luckily, Arthur accidentally discovers their weakness, so he doesn't actually have to go through with it.
- Large and in Charge: The leader is twice as tall as the average man.
- Large Ham: Especially their leader.
- Totem Pole Trench: The leader was originally supposed to be portrayed this way, but Michael Palin settled for a stepladder instead of John Cleese's shoulders.
- Trope Namer: for The Knights Who Say "Squee!" and With This Herring
- The Unpronounceable: The phrase they switched to after they stopped using "Ni!" Something like "Ikki-ikki-ikki-p'TENG-zoop-BOING-nawumbbawobba.."
- Verbal Weakness: Despite being so powerful in that they can even force the great King Arthur to do as they command, the Knights of Ni can be defeated by saying the word 'it'. even if they say it themselvesnote The fun thing is that King Arthur never realizes what this weakness is, but rather keeps using it accidentally.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The word "it". So weaksauce that Arthur defeated them with it without even realizing what it is.
- With This Herring: Trope Namer. "You must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest wiiiiith... a herring!"
The King of Swamp Castle
- Dodgy Toupee: Wears a pretty obvious one.
- The Determinator: He built a castle in a swamp just to show the other kings it's possible to do so. It sank into the swamp. The same happened to the second castle. Guess what? He built a third castle in the swamp...which burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth and current one stayed up.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Has a very deep guttural voice. This is actually a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, as Michael Palin was suffering from a cold when they were filming this character.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: He insists angrily that his son Alice — sorry, Herbert — should be practical and marry for money and "huge... tracts of land" instead of clinging to silly and useless romantic dreams. A rare version of the trope, as he doesn't really care what's best for his son, and is quite willing to let him fall to his apparent death.
- Fur and Loathing: Wears a large fur cape.
- Jerkass: You might, at first, think that he's just your typical Fantasy-Forbidding Father, not approving of his son's flights of fancy but ultimately just looking out for him. But as it turns out he really only cares about his personal gain; as soon as he sees another way of making some sort of profit, he sends his son falling to his (apparent) death without a second thought. Like everything else in the movie, this is Played for Laughs.
The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog
A cute white rabbit who guards a cave. Trope Namer and Trope Codifier to Killer Rabbit... if it wasn't obvious already.
- Badass Adorable: A very cute white rabbit capable of defeating a group of armed knights
- Hair-Raising Hare: Has apparently killed a fair number of people, and is possibly carnivorous("Look at the bones!").
- Killer Rabbit: The Trope Namer, the Rabbit of Caerbannog is highly aggressive and deadly, tearing out the throats of several of Arthur's knights.
- Non-Malicious Monster: Much more dangerous than an ordinary rabbit, but doesn't seem to be any more intelligent.
The Black Beast of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh!
A cartoon monster that appears out of nowhere. It quickly devours Brother Maynard and chases Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
- Cartoon Creature: Well, it is a cartoon.
- Deus ex Machina: It spontaneously ceases to exist when the person responsible for animating it dies of a heart attack.
- Early-Bird Cameo: It can be seen peeking out of a cave during the transitional animated scene after the Knights who say Ni! are defeated.
- Eldritch Abomination: Treated as such in-universe, but its cartoony look is decidedly less-than-scary.
- Extra Eyes: Over twenty of them, in fact.
- Nonindicative Name: The "Black Beast" is very colorful, actually.
- Stylistic Suck: Like God, the Beast appears as an entirely unconvincing cutout animation, which is the entire joke.
Played by: Terry GilliamHe guards the Bridge of Death and asks each traveler 3 questions. If they answer correctly, they may pass. When answering a question wrong, an invisible force grabs the victim and throws him into the gorge of eternal peril.
- Evil Laugh: Possibly the first sign of his villainy is when he lets out an Evil Laugh in his first scene.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He is defeated when King Arthur answers a question with another question. The Bridgekeeper admits he does not know the answer and is thrown away himself.
- These Questions Three: Trope Namer. His Catch Phrase is "Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see..."
Neutral Characters and other annoyances.
Guards of Swallow Castle
- Brick Joke: Their useless discussion does provide Arthur with a means to defeat the bridgekeeper when he starts asking a question about swallows.
- Comically Missing the Point: King Arthur comes up to them and asks to recruit their master as one of his knights. They're more concerned with how he got his coconuts.
- The Faceless: They're only seen from below the ramparts. The distance, fog and lack of luminosity do not allow to see their faces.
The corpses collector
- Catch Phrase: "Bring out your dead!"
- Deadpan Snarker: When king Arthur 'rides' past the collector and his customer, the customer verbally wonders who king Athur was. The collector's answer:"Must be a king. He hasn't got shit all over him"
- The Dung Ages: Of all characters in the movie, he's the one who embodies the trope.
- No Name Given: He's never named by the movie.
Dennis the Peasant
- Berserk Button: Don't mistake him for an old woman, don't try to engage in conversation without asking his name, and whatever you do, don't go around insisting you're a king.
- Deadpan Snarker: Perhaps the most elaborate one in the movie, though he becomes less and less deadpan about it as his scene goes on.
- The Dung Ages: Like the Collector, he embodies this trope. For all his ideas of modern democracy and politics, he's still a literal mud farmer.
- Inherent in the System: Trope Namer. "Come and see the violence inherent in the system!"
- Motor Mouth: Never stops talking, and being ordered to be quiet just sets him off even worse.
- Sophisticated as Hell: The entire joke. It's really funny to see a mud farmer spout complex political philosophyYou can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you!
Voiced by: Graham ChapmanGod appears to the Knights of the Round Table and gives them the task to find the Holy Grail. He finds it annoying that people constantly consider themselves unworthy of His presence. His face is based on the cricket player W.G. Grace.
- Berserk Button: Has grown really sick of groveling, apologizing, people saying they're not worthy...
- Dispense with the Pleasantries: Cant stand people groveling when He tries to tell something.
- King of All Cosmos: Well, of course — He's God.
- Large Ham: Despite being a poorly-animated cutout, He manages to be this thanks to Graham Chapman's voice acting; He speaks in a loud, booming voice and uses formal, stilted language... until He gets annoyed; then He starts ranting in a loud, booming voice.
- Stop Worshipping Me: He dislikes it when people treat Him like, well...a God.God: Its like those miserable psalms, they are so depressing.
- Stylistic Suck: They don't even try to make Him, or the cloud He appears in, look convincing. This is of course part of the joke.
Played by: John YoungThis Historian tells the audience about Arthur's defeat at the hands of the French. He also explains that the knights continued their search separately. He is killed by a knight riding on a real horse. His death sets up the events happening in the end of the film.
- Chekhov's Gunman: His death causes the film to end an anticlimax as the knights are arrested by the police for being well, knights
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In his appearance (brown suit, bow tie, glasses), earnest manner and high voice, he's strongly reminiscent of the distinguished English historian of 19th and 20th century diplomacy A.J.P. Taylor, who made a lot of TV documentaries consisting of himself explaining things to the camera. This is lampshaded in the published screenplay, where he is sometimes referred to as "Not A.J.P. Taylor".
- No Indoor Voice: His short historical lecture is delivered in a very loud voice, with much gesticulation. Then again, the only time we see him he isn't indoors...
- No Name Given: Played with. When he appears, on-screen text refers to him only as "A famous historian," but doesn't give his name. However, when he is killed by the passing knight, the woman who runs up to him (presumably his wife) yells "Frank!"
- We Hardly Knew Ye: He appears only in one scene, and is killed off at the end of it.
Played by: Terry JonesThe son of the king of Swamp Castle. He is very girly and does not like the fact he is used in an arranged marriage. When he wants to express his feelings, he starts singing, complete with cheesy music in the background, but this is always interrupted by his father, who hates singing. Being fed up with his life, he shoots a message out of the window, which is found by Lancelot. Lancelot thinks the message is from a princess and goes on a rampage to rescue Herbert.
- Ambiguously Gay: He's either this, or Camp Straight. The movie zig-zags a little on it — though in Spamalot he is confirmed to be gay.
- Dreadful Musician: Singer, really, given that his father keeps interrupting him. Subverted that only his father dislikes his singing, the wedding guests are all more than willing to become his backup singers.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: He nonchalantly shoots an arrow out of the window, which hits Lancelot's 'horse' and servant Concorde from probably miles away, judging from the change in scenery.
- Marry for Love: Perhaps. He starts to explain what sorts of qualities he'd like in the girl he marries, but as he chooses to do so in song, his father is quick to put an end to it.
Roger The Shrubber
- Deus ex Machina: Its very convenient that a shrubber appears when Arthur needs a shrubbery.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He has no qualms about calling King Arthur out on the fact he is coercing an old woman. In the real middle ages, this kind of disrespect towards a king would get him into trouble.
Tim the Enchanter
Playing with Fire. He tells the knights about the cave of Caerbannog and the Killer Rabbit. Naturally, he is called a liar when the knights see the rabbit, but has the last laugh when some of the knights get killed by the rabbit.
- Cassandra Truth: Tells the truth about the Killer Rabbit, in that it is a terribly dangerous creature, but gets ridiculed by the Knights of the Round Table. Guess what happens next...
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Lampshaded.Arthur: What an eccentric performance.
- Dark is Not Evil: He comes over as a very intimidating and evil looking wizard, complete with a black robe and horns on his hat, but is does not appear to be malevolent. He honestly warns the knights about the rabbit and only laughs at them when they stop taking him seriously.
- Ignored Expert: A powerful enchanter who makes sound arguments to the knights regarding the ferocity of the killer rabbit, but they laugh him off anyway.Tim: Look at the bones!
- Large Ham: He even starts to spit drops of saliva when warning the knights about the Rabbit.
- Magic Staff: Has a simple wooden staff that is able to blow fire.
- Nice Hat: Wears a hat with the horns of a ram on it.
- Playing with Fire: Taken literally with the 'playing' part, since he does not do anything useful with his gift. Like roasting a certain rabbit, for instance.
- Some Call Me "Tim": Trope Namer, but does not actually use it. Amusingly, this was an ad-lib because Cleese forgot the character's name.
- Trrrilling Rrrs: Occasionally, especially when he gets worked up.
- Mr. Exposition: His main role in the plot is to tell the knights they can find the grail in the castle of Aaarrrrggghhh.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Gets eaten right after guiding the knights to the cavern showing the Grail's location and reading the ancient text on the wall.
Inspector End of FilmA modern inspector who investigates the Historians death. He is something of a running joke, in that he constantly appears at scenes where Arthur and his knights previously were. He later appears at the end of the film, to arrest Arthur and Bedivere for allegedly killing the Historian.
- Diabolus ex Machina: Him appearing to arrest Arthur and his knights at the end.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Because of him, the French basically won. Probably.
- Running Gag: His appearances throughout the film.