Characters / The Black Cauldron

Featured in 1985's The Black Cauldron
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Main Characters

    Taran of Caer Dallben 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/taranclipart.png
"Look at me, Hen! I can do it!"
Voiced by: Grant Bardsley

The main protagonist.
  • Almighty Janitor: Played with. He holds the rank of an Assistant Pig-Keeper, but he's hardly almighty. In fact, he has more losses than wins.
  • Character Development: Obviously, nowhere near as well-designed or thorough as the books, but it's pretty evident here. Taran goes from an impulsive kid fantasizing that one day he will be a hero, to a more mature, compromising young man who realizes he is unfit to be what he considers a hero.
  • Failure Knight: Taran so wants to be a Knight In Shining Armour, but at almost no point in the film does he successfully do anything useful with his own skills: He loses Hen Wen almost immediately after being entrusted with her; when held captive by the Horned King he only escapes with the help of Eilonwy and the magic sword; and he unwittingly brings the Black Cauldron into the Horned King's hands by getting it from the witches with whom it probably would've been completely secure (as well as giving away the potentially story breaking magic sword in the process). At the end of the film, Taran actually acknowledges that he's a failure as a warrior and forfeits his chance to become one in order to resurrect Gurgi.
  • Farm Boy: An Assistant Pig-Keeper no less.
  • Final Speech: When the three witches offer Taran his magic sword back. It's short but very, very sweet.
    Taran: I'm not a warrior... I'm a pig-boy. What can I do with a sword?
  • Free-Range Children: Dallben concludes that the Horned King is after Hen Wen, so he decides to send Taran, his thirteen-year-old ward, off into the forest with the pig so they'll be safe.
  • Happily Adopted: Taran was a foundling discovered by Dallben, the enchanter and farmer.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: He harbors an intense desire to prove his worth and heroism through noble acts.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though occasionally foolhardy and one time being sexist to Eilonwy, Taran proves to be a brave, heroic, and kind-hearted young man. Thanks to Character Development he matures into a Nice Guy.
  • Kid Hero: Only about 14 or 15 and is The Hero.
  • Nice Guy: Near the end, after he matures, acknowledges his failure as a warrior and being selfless as he chooses to attempts to jump into the Black Cauldron.
  • Official Couple: With Eilonwy.
  • Put on a Bus: Due to The Black Cauldron not being a financial success, Taran, like his female counterpart Eilonwy, is rarely featured in official Disney merchandising.
  • Redhead In Green: A redhead who wears a green vest and pants.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: He's the hero of the story.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Becomes mature,selfless and calm at the end.
  • Who Will Bell the Cat?: When the Horned King's undead army begins spreading out to destroy Prydain, Taran steps up to perform the necessary Heroic Sacrifice. Gurgi pre-empts him.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Implied. He pointed his sword threateningly at the Witches when they mess around with Fflewddur.

    Gurgi 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/char_22436.jpg
"Munchings and crunchings in here somewhere."
Voiced by: John Byner

A small, gopher-like creature that accompanies Taran.

    Eilonwy 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/tumblr_static_eilonwy2.jpg
"Girl? GIRL?! If it weren't for this girl, you would still be in the Horned King's dungeon!"
Voiced by: Susan Sheridan

A princess who was kidnapped by the Horned King; she's the deuteragonist of the movie.

    Fflewddur Fflam 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/blackcauldron704.jpg
"Great Belin!"
Voiced by: Nigel Hawthorne

A self-styled bard and the tritagonist.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: In the original The Chronicles of Prydain novels, Fflewddur Fflam the bard is a 30 year old man who is remarked as handsome, if unkempt. In this movie Fflam is in his 50s with a potbelly.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the book series: while he was hardly the badass he boasted of, he actually did defeat impressive odds two or three times. The Disney Fflewddur generally shies away from combat.
  • Adorkable: He has shades of this, especially when he's reduced to nervous sputtering.
  • All There in the Manual: The book explains why Fflewddur's harp keeps breaking and how he got it, and includes the detail that he's not really a bard at all, but a king who left his kingdom to become a bard, and failed the academy.
  • Alliterative Name: Fflewddur Fflam
  • Batman Gambit: Fflewddur completely ruins the Witches' Batman Gambit, reminding them that if they will repossess the Cauldron, they must make an exchange of equal value back to the heroes.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Luckily for Fflewdur, mocking the witches for being powerless resulted in a living Gurgi, not a return to toad status.
  • Butt-Monkey: In the course of the movie, he's captured, has his pants torn by dogs, falls into a pit, is turned into a frog, and so forth.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Great Belin!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander: At first, he appears to be so. Visit an ominous, gloomy castle that looks so obviously suspicious nobody goes there? Hey, you're a bard, why not? He later proves to be much smarter than most would give him credit for.
  • Companion Cube: Downplayed - Fflewdur speaks to his harp as if it's alive.
  • Foil: To Taran. Whereas Taran is more hotheaded, ambitious, and headstrong, Fflewddur is more of a Shrinking Violet, cautious and dithering. In the book, Taran and Fflewddur were much more alike.
  • Foreshadowing: The witches proclaim that "What we do is bargain, trade!" Fflewddur later throws these words right back at their faces.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic.
  • The Heart: At least he tries to be whenever Taran and Eilonwy have a spat.
  • Lie Detector: Fflewddur's harpstrings snap whenever he tells a lie.
  • Living Lie Detector: Again, his harp!
  • The Load: Poor Fflewddur was much more useful in the book. But alas, he only proves useful twice - weakly trying to convince the feuding Taran and Eilonwy that they have to work together, and taunting the three witches into trading the restoration of Gurgi's life for the return of the Cauldron.
  • Mood Whiplash: In a very dimly lit scene, the Horned King orders for his pet dragon-lizard-things called Gwythaints to hunt down the heroes who have escaped from his gloomy castle. Directly following that is Fflewddur singing a silly song.
  • Nice Hat: A brown hat with a red feather.
  • Odd Couple: With Gurgi.
  • Older Sidekick
  • Only Sane Man: Among the protagonists, Fflewddur is probably the only one who keeps things balanced - kind of.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to everybody.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the end, when he uses the witches' creed against them.
  • Verbal Tic: "Great Belin!"
  • Wandering Minstrel: He blunders into the story when he wanders to the wrong castle.

Antagonists

    The Horned King 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/phpCCdXNKPM-hornedking_9874.jpg
"Now I call on my army of the dead — the Cauldron Born!"
Voiced by: John Hurt

The main antagonist, the skull-faced Horned King is a centuries-old Sorcerous Overlord with A God Am I delusions, who seeks out the titular Black Cauldron, which he plans to use to turn all life into undead minions, so he can rule over them as a Physical God.
  • Ambiguously Human: It's never clarified if the Horned King is a demon, a horribly deformed man or a lich. His self-association with his skeletal warriors suggests the third option.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Completely averted, unusually for Disney villains. He seems to be physically frail, never moves faster than at a shambling pace, only once demonstrates any magical powers independent of the Cauldron, and is easily overpowered by Taran in the climax. His terrifying visage is enough to cow his minions into servitude, and he exerts his authority over his minions to accomplish his goals.
  • Bad Boss: His default reaction to anything bad is to choke Creeper. Also, his reward to his human minions for their service is to turn them into mindless undead warriors.
  • Big Bad: Of the film.
  • Big "NO!": He shouts this as he dies.
  • Berserk Button: The Horned King is quite calm and cold-blooded, but if you spoil his plans he immediately gets enraged and tries to choke you to death.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: He has these by default unless he's very angry. Then it's Red Eyes, Take Warning.
  • Breakout Villain: Easily the most memorable character of the film, plus the only one that had appearances beyond the film. He even gets a cameo in the House of Mouse series, becomes the Final Boss of the Tokyo Disneyland Castle Tour and a constant throw in for a possible Kingdom Hearts role for what it's worth.
  • The Chessmaster: Following the heroes' escape, the Horned King allows them to do for him the dirty work of finding the Black Cauldron, unaware that they're being followed.
  • Composite Character: The book's Arawn and the Horned King are combined into one in the movie.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Just in one scene where he taunts Taran, Eilonwy and Fflewddur Fflam as his prisoners. This is one of the few — if not the only one — scenes where he shows a bit of sarcasm.
    The Horned King: My, such a brave and handsome crew. A pig-boy, a scullery maid, and a broken-down minstrel. Perhaps it may interest you to see what fate has in store for you.
    • Also when Taran is forced to make Hen Wen show the Cauldron's locations:
    The Horned King: That's better.
  • Defiant to the End: He struggles to the end as the Cauldron is sucking him in, even when he has just his bones left.
  • Dem Bones: Has a skeletal appearance is reduced to one during his death.
  • The Dreaded: All of his minions are terrified of the imposing, ruthless, and hideous Horned King. Everyone, including Taran, that sees the Horned King up close is almost paralyzed with fear. Considering he is essentially walking talking nightmare fuel, it is not hard to see why.
  • Dystopia Justifies the Means: Plans to have his Army of the Dead kill off all opposition and then have whatever remains worship him as a deity.
  • Evil Brit: Courtesy of John Hurt.
  • Evil Counterpart: In his first scene, the Horned King is immersing himself in his vision of creating the Cauldron-Born and being worshiped as a god, while Taran daydreams several times about becoming a knight and a hero. They're both shown to be fairly unremarkable in spite of these aspirations, and the amazing feats they do perform only happened because they were using powerful artifacts. They also have cowardly and toady little sidekicks whom they don't respect (though Taran gets better about this over the course of the movie), and in the end, they both fail to accomplish their goals.
  • Evil Overlord: Of an abandoned castle.
  • Evil Sorcerer: He's implied to be this, though it's not shown much.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Courtesy of John Hurt.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Probably the most brutal in the entire Disney canon.
  • Famous Last Words: Said before he's sucked in by the Cauldron and lets out his Big "NO!".
    "No! You'll not have me! My power cannot die! Curse you!"
  • A God Am I: His Evil Plan involving the Army of the Dead is to devastate Prydain and force the survivors to worship him as a demigod.
  • The Grim Reaper: The Horned King looks like the Reaper's brown-robed twin but with horns.
  • Guttural Growler: Courtesy of John Hurt.
  • Horned Humanoid: Well he is the Horned King (technically they're antlers) and not even remotely human-looking.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: Fear. When one looks like an undead sorcerer with horns, and is completely ruthless, one can be rather effective in terrifying everyone into submission. Even with informed abilities of magical prowess or fighting ability that he hasn't displayed, the Horned King still holds command over his battle hardened minions. They do not question his orders because he is that horrifying in close proximity, and the Horned King is noted to be genuine nightmare fuel towards the audience. This enables him to delegate ruthless tasks, working through his minions, which makes him a major threat in Prydain, and allowed him to obtain the Black Cauldron.
  • Informed Ability: Played with. Everyone is deathly afraid of him, which would imply he has some sort of magical powers — and he does at least invoke some rather impressive Villain Teleportation during one scene, not to mention his preexisting knowledge on how to wield the Cauldron — but he doesn't do much of anything in the movie other than give orders, shuffle around a bit, and growl.
    • During his final battle with Taran, he tries to physically off him, completely forgetting his magical abilities. Though this could be explained by his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Killed Off for Real: In an extremely graphic way by the Disney canon standards. He's skeletonized, and then his bones burst into flame and are finally disintegrated. His soul is presumably trapped in the Cauldron, which was specifically designed by the freakin[=]' Gods to hold evil souls, suggesting he's probably not getting out any time soon, either.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The film gets much darker when he's involved. He is hateful, cruel, cold-blooded, brooding, and shockingly violent, so it's not difficult to see why. Also a very meta example, as Disney Villains had become slowly become more and more comedic as time went on, villains in following films became much more threatening after his appearance. Coincidence?
  • Load-Bearing Boss: His castle crumples down in a terrifying explosion just after his aforementioned gruesome death. Justified, the Black Cauldron acting as a suction, absorbs the surrounding area into its being once he dies
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Following Taran's escape, the Horned King correctly predicts that the pig keeper would find Hen Wen and has the gwythaints trailing the heroes and leading the soldiers to them after they've found the Black Cauldron itself.
  • Meaningful Name: The antlers are obvious enough. But he notably does not display any significant combative ability; he delegates tasks like a real life ruler, who happens to look like a skull faced demon with horns and magical powers. He's called the Horned King after all.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: The Horned King has horns and a skull face, with no explanation for why he has this way; his display of certain powers imply that he's much more monstrous than he lets on.
  • Necromancer: Trope Codifier for animated flims. The Cauldron Borns is an undead army, and he reanimates them to serve him. For bonus points, he's undead himself;
    "Now I call on my Army of the Dead; the Cauldron-Born! Arise, my messengers of death! Our time has arrived!"
    Horned King
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Just look at him...
  • Non-Action Big Bad: He spends most of the movie giving orders, delegating tasks, and terrifying everyone around him by mere presence alone. He doesn't really get very involved in any of the action, physically or magically, and has his minions do all of the dirty work. When he does tangle with Taran in the movie's climax, he loses almost immediately.
  • No Sense of Humor: What makes him so menacing.
  • Not So Different: Despite their outwardly different personalities and motives, he and Taran have many things in common (see Evil Counterpart).
  • Obviously Evil: You think?
  • Orcus on His Throne: Not in the movie proper, but clearly stated as his backstory: he has been sitting around in his big fancy Castle of Doom for decades, if not centuries, when Hen Wen finally makes the prophecy that kicks off the movie about how to find the Black Cauldron.
  • Our Liches Are Different: It's not clarified if he is some kind of monster or a hideously deformed man, but it's clear from his powers and aura that he's not entirely human to say the least, and he is pretty clearly undead.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: In accordance with his delusions of godhood, he tries to act all calm and collected most of the time. However, whenever he is angry or excited, his violent emotions cause his pupils to flash red. At the end, when the Cauldron's power is destroyed, he completely snaps, trying to physically kill Taran by pushing him into the Cauldron, and his entire eyes are now flaring red.
  • Skull for a Head: The Horned King is a horned variation. While he's an undead evil sorceror, the rest of his body looks quite normal (if we ignore the greenish rotting skin) compared to his positively skull-like head.
  • Sorcerous Overlord: The Horned King, although his magical powers are fairly limited and require complex rituals to realize. This tyrant is a horned, robed member of the undead, probably a lich. He plots to take over the world from his fortress by acquiring an army of skeletal warriors known as the Cauldron Born.
  • Take Over the World: His goal, using a resurrected army to kill off every last man in Prydain, in order to be worship as a demigod.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When his carefully planned plan which he has been working on for literally hundreds of years go wrong, and his undead minions lose their life force and die, he completely loses it.
    The Horned King: Get up… COME ALIVE!… GET UP YOU FOOLS! KILLLLL!!!
  • Villain Teleportation: Uses arguably the most overblown example of all time at one point.
  • Would Hurt a Child: At two points in the movie to Taran, when he decides to kill Taran once he's revealed the location of the Cauldron and when he tries to choke him for ruining his plan... which backfires on him.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Attempted this to Taran when he located the Cauldron and then his Mooks by offering them for his army to slaughter.

    Creeper 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/black_cauldron_disneyscreencapscom_2706.jpg
"Look! Look, sire! It's working!"
Voiced by: Phil Fondacaro

Creeper is The Horned King's sidekick and the secondary antagonist.
  • Butt-Monkey: Is always blamed when something goes wrong, even if it wasn't his fault.
  • Canon Foreigner: The only character in the film that wasn't in the books.
  • The Dragon: Created to be a very ineffectual chief subordinate for the Horned King.
  • Evil Counterpart: Towards Gurgi. They're both small and cowardly sidekicks for the Horned King and Taran, respectively. They both do much to try and please their masters without much success: the Horned King loathes Creeper during the entire movie, and Taran isn't fond of Gurgi until after a while. While Gurgi sacrifices himself to destroy the Black Cauldron's power so that Taran wouldn't have to, Creeper watches as his master is killed by the Cauldron and decides he's glad.
  • Evil Sounds Raspy: Creeper's voice is hoarse. Given how often he's seen getting strangled by the Horned King, that's likely to be expected.
  • Karma Houdini: He's last seen flying away with the surviving gwythaint. But then, he might be able to live a better life now that his abusive master is dead.
  • Maniac Tongue: Creeper is a malicious creature of his own right, and the tongue he often sticks out showcases it.
  • Neck Lift: On the receiving end whenever the Horned King gets upset. His majesty gets upset quite a lot...
  • Non-Human Sidekick: A small goblin-like creature who is this to the Horned King.
  • Our Goblins Are Different: Possibly. What he is never specified in the movie, but the Internet mostly agrees that he's a goblin.
  • Sycophantic Servant: He always tries to please the Horned King. For what good it does him.
  • Uplifted Animal: He could be this, going by the French dub where everyone calls him a toad. Though it could just be insults.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Creeper was comically drawn (by comparison) and cowardly, but he routinely suffered the abuse of his terrifying Boss.

    The Witches of Morva 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/blackcauldron428.jpg
"We have made a bargain!"
Voiced by: Eda Reiss Merin, Adele Malis-Morey, Billie Hayes

Three neutral witches that are infamous for making bargains, they sold the Black Cauldron for Taran's Magic Sword.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Orwen toward Fflewdur.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the books they are implied to be the three Fates (or a Welsh equivalent) and are strictly neutral (though Orddu, at least, seems willing to offer a little advice for free.) Here they are presented as adversaries out to cheat the main characters.
  • All There in the Manual: Two of them go unnamed until the end credits.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Despite her large figure, Orwen is clearly the most attractive of her sisters.
  • Equivalent Exchange: They insist that the Cauldron must be paid for with a magical artifact of equal value. After the villain's defeat, they try to reclaim the Cauldron, only for Fflewder to insist that they compensate the heroes for it.
  • Gag Boobs: Orwen, which leads to a case of Marshmallow Hell for Fflewdur.

Allies

    Dallben 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/char_22433.jpg
"Hen Wen, from you, I do beseech...."
Voiced by: Freddie Jones

Dallben is the greatest wizard in Prydain, the keeper of the oracular pig Hen Wen, Taran's adoptive father, and one of the main protagonists.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: He has thick, messy eyebrows.
  • Composite Character: He amalgamates two characters from the books - Dallben (an elderly sorcerer and Big Good) and Coll (the Pig-Keeper who is Taran's teacher).
  • Fingerless Gloves: Wears a grey pair.
  • Informed Ability: He's called the "greatest wizard in Prydain", but his skills were never shown.
  • Lethal Chef: Implied. The meal he prepares for Hen Wen was so inedible that she and the pet cat refused to eat it.
  • Nice Guy: Dallben is a kind man.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: His last line implies that something Hen Wen showed him led him to send Taran and Hen Wen into harm's way, but it still seems like an odd decision.
  • Parental Substitute: The books make it more clear that Taran was found on Dallben's doorstep as a young child.

    Hen Wen 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/oracular_pig.jpg
Voiced by: Frank Welker

Hen Wen is the magical pet pig of Taran and Dallben.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Her superior intelligence may be justified by her oracular nature.
  • Living MacGuffin: For the first half of the film. The Horned King wants her because he wishes to control her prophetic abilities. Thankfully, she was able to escape thanks to Taran.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: A little white sow, very timid, picky about her food and fond of Taran.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: She's packed off back to Caer Dallben while the heroes go on to Morva. One of Taran's wiser decisions, as it turned out.
  • Waif Prophet: A non-human version. Hen Wen has the ability to see into the future.

    Eidelleg and the Fair Folk 
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/black_cauldron_2.jpg
Voiced by: Arthur Malet (Eidelleg), John Byner (Doli)

A group of kindly fairy-like creatures led by King Eidilleg.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In the books, King Eidilleg is an extreme grouch and a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with a grudge against humans. In the movie, he's a mild-mannered and somewhat ineffective Nice Guy, probably to contrast better with Grumpy Old Man Doli.
  • Adaptation Species Change: True to legend, the Fair Folk in the books were hugely varied and had many different kinds. Doli in particular is specifically described as a dwarf. In the movie, they're all tiny winged creatures (Tinker Bell even makes a brief, blink-and-you'll'miss-it cameo among them.)
  • Age Lift: Similar to Fflewddur, Doli looks a lot older here than he's described as in the books.
  • Demoted to Extra: Doli is a major character in the books, even forming an Odd Friendship with Flewddur, but his role in the movie is pretty minor.
  • Expy: Doli is the recycled character for Grumpy from Snow White because of their rough and sweet personality.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Doli is an old man and is the most cantankerous of the Fair Folk.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Doli is a rude and cantankerous man who deep down he cares about Taran and his companions.
  • Light Is Good: They emit a glow and are on the side of good.
  • Nice Guy: King Eidilleg in contrast with Doli.
  • Nice Hat: All of them wear some sort of hat.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A scene in which Eilonwy shames the Fair Folk into being helpful was unfortunately cut for time.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: Cave-dwelling fairies who steer the heroes toward the Witches of Morva.

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