From left to right: Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, Robin Hood, and Little John.
"You know, there's been a heap o' legends and tall tales about Robin Hood — all different too. Well, we folks in the animal kingdom have our own version — it's the story of what really happened in Sherwood Forest." — Alan-a-Dale's Opening Narration
Nutsy and Trigger (the Sheriff's Mooks) — vultures
Lady Kluck (Maid Marian's lady-in-waiting) — a chicken
This movie was the first in the Disney Animated Canon that was made completely independent of Walt Disney, who had died in 1966 - The Aristocats was personally greenlit by Walt. Therefore, it is one of the most visibly - how can we best put this kindly? - economical Disney animated films. The studio was suffering financially during its production, resulting in plenty of recycled animation from a multitude of films. Luckily for the company, the movie made enough money in the box office to pull through. That didn't prevent Disney from viewing it as one of their worst entries - during production, and even after the box office success. Additionally, the movie was poorly received critically and has ended up branded "Rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes. But in contrast, fan reaction has always been almost unanimously positive, to the point where the movie has been Vindicated by History through 80s and 90s kids who know it from VHS. With it's beautiful character designs and occasionally witty dialogue, it's also considered one of the gateway drugs to the Furry Fandom.Take a shot when you notice recycled animation.
Disney's Robin Hood provides examples of:
Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder: Marian fears this is what happened to Robin. However, it is quickly subverted in the next scene, as Robin is shown daydreaming about her. He's just afraid that he might not be good enough to be with her due to his status as an outlaw.
All-Star Cast: The Finnish dub featured a cast comprised mostly of famous singers and actors of the time. Unfortunately, most of the budget was apparently spent on their salaries, and the dub ended up being quite lackluster compared to other Disney films. Notably, most, if not all of the voice actors are pulling double duty and the dialogue seems hastily translated with little thought put to localizing puns or jokes that don't translate all that well into Finnish. The songs can be particularly jarring, as at times the lyrics obviously don't fit the tune, do not rhyme and most definitely are not lip-synched properly. It can get so bad that it is completely possible to forget that the person singing actually does it for a living.
Alliterative List: At the end when Prince John chases Sir Hiss and tries to hit him with his stick, he calls him a "cowardly cobra," "procrastinating python," and an "aggravating asp."
Earlier in the film Sir Hiss is also called "silly serpent" and "reluctant reptile" while Friar Tuck is a "corpulent cleric".
Ironic as historically King John was a notorious womanizer and adulterer and King Richard was the one historians claim may have been homosexual.
Anachronism Stew: Mostly averted, except for the voices. The Sheriff and his mooks as well as Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale talk like characters from a westernnote The actors were almost certainly cast to fulfill that characterization and not vice versa, while Little John shares Baloo the Bear's beatnik-inspired personality (as well as his voice-actor).
Actually, the accents are not far off of what it was like in Merry England. The reason being is that what the world considers to be an American accent is really the original British accent, with Southern drawl being another import to the New World, and the modern English accent first appeared in the 1860's. If anything, the American accents are more accurate than the English accents.
Although Friar Tuck comes from the original legend, his presence during the reign of Richard I makes no sense, as the first Mendicant order was not founded until 1209, a full decade after the Lionheart's death.
The rabbits sing "Happy Birthday to You" - which was written in the late 19th century in Louisville, Kentucky - to Skippy. The film takes place in the 12th century. America hadn't even been discovered yet.
While in the ale barrel, Sir Hiss sings "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" (although he says "for I'm a jolly good fellow"). Again, that song hadn't been written yet— it was written in 1709.
In their first scene, Maid Marian and Lady Cluck are playing badminton, which was invented in the 18th century.
Nottingham Castle has a scaffold gallows, even though it was invented by the Scot Deacon William Brodie in 1787.
The (American) football segment when the game was invented in 1869 (rugby can be traced back to the 1400s, which is still after the events of the film). To take it further, "On, Wisconsin!" plays in the background, which was written in 1909.
Granted, no one's actually playing football, it's just part of the preceding battle sequence.
Artistic License - History: To be expected considering the Robin Hood genre which commonly puts the outlaw as a contemporary of John and Richard rather than (probably) Edward I. However, just to reiterate, John was not taxing the poor of England just so he could swim around in mountains of gold coins; though he was definitely attempting to seize the throne, he had no authority to raise revenues from any but his own possessions (of which Nottingham was one). note The film does not mention Richard's captivity and ransom, but the money for that was raised by a special collection largely overseen by Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard and John's mother. Richard didn't imprison John or the Sheriff of Nottingham (though the sheriff did lose his job) when he got back; in fact, John eventually became king, the first after the Norman Conquest (possibly) to speak English fluently. John did make a lot of enemies and suffer a lot of setbacks, but it is debatable whether he was the grasping, cowardly tyrant portrayed in the film.
The Church was very powerful in the 12th Century and would have made a serious fuss over the Sheriff helping himself to the contents of the church poor box. Especially since the Crown had no authority to collect taxes on church income at all at that point in history - that was one of the many issues that the Church and Crown argued over until Henry VIII broke from Rome in the 16th century. Similarly, the question of whether a civil authority such as the Sheriff could arrest a clergyman at all was a major political hot topic, much less having a priest executed by the order of a secular authority. Prince John would have known that, after the major political mess caused by the death of Archbishop Thomas Becket during his father's reign.
The line "too late to be known as John the First" in The Villain Sucks Song is strange, since he is (so far) the only King John of England. Presumably it's because at the time, he was not yet officially the king — being the younger brother (i.e. born "too late"), he had no right to call himself John the Anythingth.
Ass in a Lion Skin: Robin, a fox, disguises himself as "the spindle-legged stork from Devonshire" and as Nutsy, a vulture.
Batman Gambit: How Prince John fooled Robin Hood to take part of the archery tournament. Knowing that he's in love in Marian, he announces that the winner of the tournament shall get a kiss from Marian as a first prize, knowing that Robin just wouldn't refuse to take that opportunity. The tournament was just all a trap to snare Robin Hood in, based on which one was the unnatural superior archer.
Berserk Button: Mentioning King Richard in front of Prince John. Mentioning his mother is probably okay, as it just causes him to bluescreen and start sucking his thumb.
For Friar Tuck, dismissing his 'sermons' is one thing, but outright disrespecting him, a man of the church, by telling him that his 'preachiness' is gonna soon land him in a hangman's noose while stealing out of the poor box is another thing entirely.
Chekhov's Gun: The little rabbit sister can't run nearly as fast as the other kids. This becomes very important in the final battle when she's struggling to keep up with the evacuating villagers, and Robin Hood has to turn around and rescue her, leaving him trapped on the opposite side of the portcullis.
Corrupt Hick: Despite being set in Medieval England, the Sheriff and his underlings act like stereotypes from the American deep south.
When her love is about to be executed before her eyes, all she can do does beg Prince John to spare him (how successful it would have been is uncertain).
A more downplayed version is when she hits a guard aiming for Robin with a pie. Not much in the way of heroism, but it's something.
Dude In Distress: It's a case of What Could Have Been. The special edition DVD shows off a reconstruction of an unused ending for the movie, in which Robin is injured from his fall during the climax: he would be left with Maid Marian at the church while Little John went off to find help. Prince John comes in while Robin is still knocked out, and is prepared to stab Marian to get to Robin, while she is prepared to stand in front of him to defend him. Of course, both are saved by the timely arrival of good King Richard.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Watching the film, one gets the feeling that if Prince John had listened to Hiss' advice now and then (don't trust the strange gypsy women for one), he'd have been spared some of his humiliations.
To be more specific, Hiss sees through every single disguise. While he might not know who it is, he knows they aren't who they claim to be. But every time, Prince John assumes he's just jealous of the attention they're getting.
Prince John himself demonstrates this once: he holds an archery tournament with a kiss from Maid Marian as the prize. He knows Robin Hood is in love with her, so he figured Robin Hood would figure out a way to enter the tournament somehow. He didn't actually see through Robin Hood's "stork" disguise, but the dangerously genre savvy part is that he didn't need to: somehow, the stork was much better at archery than most of the others. By process of elimination, Prince John figured out that, therefore, the stork must be Robin Hood.
Disguised in Drag/Harmless Lady Disguise: Robin Hood and Little John both pulled this trick at the beginning, stealing everything valuable that wasn't nailed down after Prince John dismissed the notion of female bandits as "rubbish". Robin was good at it, Little John...not so much; his cover would have been blown if he spoke to anyone up-close.
Robin's voice actor, Brian Bedford, performed in drag after Robin Hood's theatrical release. He probably did so before the film too, given that his female voice is fairly convincing.
While it's not really shown as one, or commented on, the Sheriff managed to escape from the burning castle along with Prince John and Sir Hiss. If the final scene had been omitted, you could've easily assumed all the villains burnt to death.
Dolled-Up Installment: Ever wonder why it's Robin Hood with funny animals? That's because Disney had previously been trying to make a movie about Reynard the Fox but abandoned the idea. Since they had tried to make the character more appealing by giving him Robin Hood-like qualities, it wasn't too hard to take what they had and turn it into a Robin Hood the fox story instead.
The Dragon: The Sheriff of Nottingham to Prince John. One of the few really obvious Disney examples. He's aggressive, takes orders from his (slightly) brighter boss, orders the Mooks around, and serves as the primary physical threat to Robin as demonstrated nicely during the final battle scene in the tower.
Ear Worm: An in-universe example — "The Phony King Of England" is so catchy even Hiss and the Sheriff enjoy it.
As well as Roger Miller's quite memorable folk/country tunes "Whistle-Stop" and "Oo De Lally", which he played as In-Universe character Alan-a-Dale (the Rooster).
Earwormy enough to spark an internet phenomenon almost three decades later. Enjoy the Hamster Dance? It's "Whistle-Stop" sped up by about 60%.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas/My Beloved Smother: Prince John's relationship with his mother is... complicated. He seemed to react with a huge amount of remorse when he ends up either wrecking her things (ie, her mirror and her castle) or is reminded of her in some way, and childishly sucks his thumb. However, he also disparagingly states that his mother liked Richard much better than him.
Everyone Can See It: All of Nottingham ships Robin/Marian, though the pair are initially uncertain of each others' feelings. Little John goes further and tries to make it happen via royal decree (at knifepoint).
Evil Is Hammy: Prince John chews the scenery with abandon. Sir Hiss and the Sheriff also have their moments.
Nutsy and Trigger also share animation models with the Beatles-esque vultures from The Jungle Book. Many other characters are drawn similarly to other Disney characters. The elephants look like the elephants from The Jungle Book, the crocodiles and hippos look like the ones from Fantasia, the owls look similar to Archimedes from The Sword in the Stone.
Considering we see Little John pulling a cart and Prince John's rhino soldiers pulling his carriage, it may be the bigger animals are paid to pull carts.
Following the tradition of the Robin Hood myth, Maid Marian is said to be King Richard's niece. She is a fox. He is a lion. What?? This could, however, be Fridge Brilliance - historically, it's debatable whether or not Richard ever consummated his marriage with Berengaria and may have only married her for political reasons, so it's entirely possible that Richard's unseen wife was a fox after all. A lion and a fox could never successfully inbreed with each other, but his other wives (i.e. not Marian's aunt) would presumably have been lionesses to provide heirs.
Near the beginning, when Robin and Little John are disguised as women, Robin keeps Little John from running away by pushing him by his false breasts.
A male rhino guard is shown to clearly be checking out Little John's butt while he's in drag. It's really quite funny!
Robin, disguised as a woman, makes off with Prince John's clothes, except his underwear. This is immediately after "she" spent a good deal of time feeding him compliments. Raising the idea of how she probably got him out of those clothes.
Robin Hood's gonna have kids?!
... The next line - "Somebody has to keep an eye on things." He may be an innocent child now...
The running "A pox on the phony king of England". "Pox" was often used to mean syphilis, although it was also a general term for disease (as in smallpox, chicken pox etc). The song's probable real-world inspiration, "The Bastard King of England," is a hilariously filthy song about John getting the clap.
During the scene where Skippy sneaks into the castle to get his lost arrow, Lady Kluck quite clearly loses the shuttlecock down her bodice and spends several hilarious minutes dancing around, trying to get it out.
Get Thee to a Nunnery: "A pox on you" (in this case, on the phony king of England) is a Shakespearean-era insult meaning, "I hope you get a disfiguring and potentially deadly disease, like smallpox or syphilis." It did also have a more general meaning along the lines of "To heck with you," so it might be a milder case of Getting Crap Past the Radar.
Good Shepherd: As usual, Friar Tuck is a devout and admirable man. When the Sheriff helps himself to the poor box, he flies into a rage not because it cuts into his bottom line but because it's supposed to help the poor.
Greed: Prince John is depicted as not only hoarding gold, obsessively counting it, and fondling it, but he actually sleeps with it in his bedchamber. To be fair, no one could expect the royal chambers to be vulnerable to any but the most daring and skillful of thieves, but surely there were more secure places to put it...
The corpulent Sheriff of Nottingham saying that "that fat friar is gonna hang."
Hypocrite: After he is captured at the archery contest, Prince John calls Robin a traitor to the crown, despite the fact that he unlawfully seized the throne while Richard was off on the Crusades. Robin calls him out on it in the most badass way possible.
I Kiss Your Hand: Robin and Little John use this trope to steal PJ's finger rings at the beginning. He gets wise to this trick when Little John tries it again later.
Improbable Aiming Skills: In the archery contest, Robin still manages to score perfect bullís-eyes even though the arrows he's using are made of two twigs tied loosely together with cord. HE'S FRIGGIN' ROBIN HOOD!
When a cheap shot causes him to aim high, he fires a second arrow at the first one to redirect it back to the bulls-eye, even knocking out the Sheriff's arrow in the process. Accept no substitutes.
Ink-Suit Actor: Terry-Thomas as Hiss. Complete with Thomas's gap in his teeth, perfect for having his tongue flicker out.
Instrument of Murder: Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale use Alan's lute as a bow. In this case though, it's more to pop a balloon than to kill someone.
Ironic Echo: Early in the movie, the characters talk about how if Robin marries Maid Marian, Kind Richard will have an outlaw for an in-law. At the end of the movie, Richard says this exact phrase while laughing about the marriage.
I Warned You: "I tried to warn you. But no, no, no, you wouldn't listen..."
Jerkass: Both Prince John and the Sheriff. Conveniently, they are also the villains and get their comeuppance in the end.
Just Following Orders: A throwaway line from the Sheriff as he hums; "They call me a slob...but I just do my job..."
As stated below, this is implied to be why Trigger and Nutsy weren't arrested.
Karma Houdini: Trigger and Nutsy are the only villains that weren't arrested.
Given that they weren't abusing their power like John, Hiss, and the Sheriff were, this shouldn't be a surprise. They're seen guarding the imprisoned John, Hiss, and the Sheriff for King Richard at the end, so it's clear they just do their job no matter who's on the throne.
Misplaced Wildlife: Any raccoon that shows up in this movie fits this trope because raccoons are native only to the Americas. This may be a Petting Zoo People movie, but this movie takes place in Medieval England, and people in Europe back in the Middle Ages have not heard of raccoons, so this counts as Anachronism Stew as well.
Plus there's the fact that Friar Tuck is seemingly based on an American badger rather than a European badger. There's also all the crocodiles, vultures, rhinos, etc, but it's probably safe to assume the animators knew they weren't typical British wildlife. Oh, and the fireflies Little John uses to make the crystal ball glow near the beginning. (Wolves and bears aren't found in Britain now, but would've been at the time.)
No Gun Safety: The guards are dangerously reckless with their crossbows, one of which has a very unreliable trigger mechanism. Even though "Ol' Betsy" explicitly does have a safety, it just doesn't seem to work very well.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: To the point of distraction. Some of the voice actors are real Brits, but some are Australians, and others are Americans best known for Westerns and rural Sit Coms whose accents aren't at all what you'd expect to hear in a film set in medieval England. (Although it is worth noting that rural and Southern accents of American English are a lot more closely related to medieval English than we tend to think — had to come from somewhere, after all.) The very well-spoken English Robin Hood for some reason adopts a Cockney (London) accent when disguised as a stork...from Devonshire! His lack of West Country burr should have blown his cover the moment he opened his beak!
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Yes Prince John is a cowardly, childish mama's boy, but that doesn't stop him from being a cunning and ruthless tyrant who is a fan of lethal and amoral force.
The Sheriff as well. He's a bumbling goof, but nearly kills Robin in the climax of the film, burning the castle down in the process.
Off Model: During most of the film, characters have four digits—three fingers and a thumb. This is forgotten a number of times.
As the Sheriff is shaking his hands while Friar Tuck is yelling, he has four fingers. When he's finished, though, he's got three again.
When the Sheriff points Trigger's crossbow away, he has four fingers.
Four again when said crossbow fires.
Four fingers appear again when Skip is holding Little John's arm and crying.
Offscreen Teleportation: The turtle when the children climb through the back gate. He is clearly too large to fit through, so when the scene switches, he has suddenly appeared on the other side.
Paper-Thin Disguise: Played with. Prince John figures it out while the sheriff said he could see through any disguise Robin could cook up. He was wrong (although, to be fair, the stork costume was rather good; from a distance, you'd never know). Earlier, Prince John and his guards failed to realize anything suspicious about the "gypsies" that come to visit while they're riding in a carriage full of gold. This made John perceptive enough to catch on to Robin the second time around.
None of the bad guys ever do see through Robin's blind-beggar disguise, although Trigger suspects something is up.
Revealing Skill: The "bandy-legged stork" is just a little too good at archery when a kiss from Marian is on the line.
Right Behind Me: The Sheriff and Sir Hiss are having a good laugh over the song "The Phony King of England" when Prince John enters the room. Hiss immediately starts singing lyrics praising PJ before the Sheriff corrects him ("... the sniveling, groveling —"). PJ throws a wine bottle at him.
Rule of Symbolism: King Richard's crown is too big for Ki- Prince John's head, and his trying to wear it keeps making him look foolish. Why not get it adjusted/padded? 'Cause it's a metaphor. (Well, that and it doesn't really belong to him yet...)
Savage Wolves: The Sheriff of Nottingham, one of the main antagonists of the series, is portrayed as a wolf.
Scooby-Dooby Doors: Done without doors, but otherwise true to the trope, when the tent stuffed with rhino guards (and the Sheriff and Little John) races back and forth between the other rows of tents.
Little John: Who's driving this flying umbrella?
Seize Him: Prince John takes every opportunity to invoke this phrase.
Shaped Like Itself: The Sheriff's observation of Friar Tuck: "Well, looky there! Friar Tuck, the old do-gooder. He's out doing good again."
The oath used by the rabbit kids: "If I tattletale, I'll die till I'm dead."
Shoot the Bullet: In the archery competition, the sheriff has just scored a bullseye (by cheating). To make sure Robin (in disguise) can't win, the sheriff taps Robin's bow as he releases. The arrow goes in a high arc. Undaunted, Robin nocks another arrow and fires at the first arrow. It hits, changing its direction such that it too hits a perfect bullseye, right through the sheriff's arrow.
Shout-Out: Lady Kluck's attack on the guards bears a strong resemblance to a football player's charge (Hence the Fan Nickname). She even has her arm curled, as if holding a ball. Plus the angle and perspective of the rhinos who leap to catch her. The music played in this scene is in fact the University of Wisconsin Badgers fight song. Notice the pan to Friar Tuck.
Prince John often mentioned that his mother always liked Richard best is a reference to the well-known Smothers Brothers bit "Mom always liked you best", 'you' referring to Dick (aka Richard) Smothers.
The shots of marching rhino soldiers are the same shot each time.
More an example of Limited Animation than Stock Footage: After loading all the civilians onto the cart (although as it turns out, missing the baby rabbit), as Little John exclaims "Onward to Sherwood Forest", look at the people on the cart. None of them are moving, not even breathing.
Stout Strength: Little John, Friar Tuck, and the Sheriff of Nottingham are all grossly fat (though to be fair to John, he is a bear). They're also among the most physically powerful of the named characters in the film (although the Sheriff only really gets to show it in the climax).
There are also literal church mice, who are poor as church-mice.
What Could Have Been: The alternate ending storyboard had a far darker chain of events involving Prince John and Hiss tracking a wounded Robin to the church courtesy of a bloody trail and pulling a knife on Maid Marian while Robin lay helpless. This is still Disney, so things work out...
Then, Robin and Marian would have been saved by a mysterious figure who turns out to be King Richard. In the final version, the narrator simply tells us that the King came back eventually, and we see Richard at the wedding making a joke about having an "outlaw for an in-law."
Wouldn't Hurt a Child: During the melee that ensued after the archery tournament, seven-year-old rabbit Skippy shot an arrow at Prince John, which bounced off his rear end. Despite the result, he's guilty of assaulting royalty with a deadly weapon. Yet when he and his family are thrown in jail because they didn't pay their taxes, Skippy isn't singled out for punishment for that. Is it an example of this trope, the censors stepping in, or an oversight? You decide.
He likely didn't have a chance to see who fired the arrow, due to being diverted by Lady Kluck.