Characters: Monty Python and the Holy Grail
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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:
- Badass: He manages to defeat many powerful enemies, including the Black Knight.
- 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.
- Cool Sword: Excalibur, of course.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Badass: The best fighter of the knights, he's a veritable One-Man Army when he gets riled up.
- 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...
- 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
Played by: Eric IdleSir Robin claims to be very brave. He also has a band of minstrels singing about his bravery...but is an enormous coward. He is fully designated as "Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lancelot who had nearly fought the Dragon of Angnor, who had nearly stood up to the vicious Chicken of Bristol and who had personally wet himself at the Battle of Badon Hill".
- 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.
The Black Knight
- An Arm and a Leg: Loses all of his limbs in the fight with Arthur.
- Badass: At least until he fights Arthur.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- I Shall Taunt You: Trope Namer. They seem to do it just for fun, ironically.
- 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
- 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 every traveler into buying a shrubbery for them.
- 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.
- 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 discovers their weakness, so he doesn't actually have to go through with it.
- 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'.
- 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.."
- With This Herring: Trope Namer. "You must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest wiiiiith... a herring!"
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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
Played by: Eric IdleThis man collects corpses at a village ravaged by the plague. He gets into an argument with a villager who wants to hand him over a still living man. The collector then solves the situation by killing the 'living corpse'.
- Catch Phrase: "Bring out your dead!"
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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
Played by: Eric IdleCatches Arthur and Bedivere coercing an old woman by saying Ni to her. After expressing his disappointment in them, he reveals he is a shrubber. This gives Arthur an opportunity to bring a shrubbery to the Knights of Ni.
- 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.
- 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.
Played by: Eric IdleA monk and scholar. He gives the Holy Hand Grenade to the Knights when they need a way to defeat the Killer Rabbit. He also translates the runes inside the Cave of Caerbannog, but is eaten by the black beast of Aaarrrrggghhh.
- 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.