Film / Robin Hood: Men in Tights
The legend had it coming.

"We're men
We're men in tights,
Always on guard,
Defending the people's rights!"
The Merry Men

Really, it was only a matter of time before Mel Brooks turned his sights on the venerable legend of Robin Hood and completely shredded it (again - see When Things Were Rotten). This anachronistic, irreverent romp through one of the best-known tales of the Western world runs roughshod over classic and modern adaptations alike, aiming most of its quips at Kevin Costner's Prince of Thieves version but getting in a good many jabs at the classic Errol Flynn The Adventures of Robin Hood as well.

And unlike some other Robin Hoods, this one has an English accent! (Instead of an Australian, New Zealand, or American one, that is. It Will Never Catch On.)

This movie contains examples of:

  • Badass Boast: In the song sung by the Merry Men:
    We may look like sissies
    But watch what you say, or else we'll punch out your lights!
  • Bad News in a Good Way: Trope Namer. Prince John requests that the Sheriff keep his news positive, but when the Sheriff attempts to try it, it doesn't come off very well:
    Prince John: I knew it! I knew it would be bad news. Wait, I have an idea. Maybe if you tell me the bad news in a good way, it wouldn't sound so bad.
    Sheriff of Rottingham: The bad news in a good way. Yes, yes, I can do that. The bad news in a good way. Well, here it goes. [hysterically] Ha! Ha! Ha! W-wait till you hear this! I just saw Robin of Locksley, he's back from the crusades. [laughs] You know, he just beat the crap out of me and my men. [laughs] He hates you and he loves your brother, Richard! [laughs] And... [laughs] ... he wants to see you hanged! [laughs and snorts loudly] We, we're in an awful lot of trouble! [laughs]
    Prince John: What, are you crazy?! Why are you laughing?! This is terrible news!
  • Bait-and-Switch Comparison: At the feast after Robin deposits a hog on Prince John's table.
    Sheriff: That's a wild boar!
    Robin: No, that's a wild pig. (Points at Prince John) That's a wild bore!
  • Beard of Sorrow: They're complimentary at the Khalil Prison, so everyone fits in.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Robin's crews came to his rescue just as a chandelier fell on him during his fight with the Sheriff's guards.
  • Blade Lock: Subverted.
  • Blind Mistake: Blinkin's entire reason for being.
  • Brawn Hilda: Broomhilde.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Repeatedly. It's a signature Mel Brooks trope. As one example, at one point they pull out the script to see what happens next.
  • Butt Monkey: Rottingham.
  • The Cameo:
  • Camera Abuse: The camera moving in on Marian singing in the bath crashes through a window before sheepishly retreating. Also, the Abbott's staff smashing into the camera lens.
  • Captain Obvious:
    I will take these cotton balls from you with my hand and put them in my pocket.
    They call me Little John. Oh, but don't let my name fool you; in real life, I'm very big.
  • Cardboard Prison: Parodied (as with everything else) in the intro, with the Robin and Asneeze escaping from Le Dungeon within five minutes of Robin getting tossed in.
  • Cary Elwes Is About To Shoot You: With Six Arrows At Once!
  • Catapult to Glory: Prince John accidentally sends the Sheriff flying during a demonstration of a "stealth" catapult. He lands in the bed of a very happy Latrine, who'd just been praying for God to send her her one true love.
  • Character Filibuster: Played for laughs.
  • Check, Please!: Prince John, when the fight during the banquet scene lands on his table.
  • Chosen One: Subverted. Robin's key fits Marian's chastity belt, but it doesn't work.
    • The sheriff had been using a jackhammer on the lock earlier; that can't have been good for the mechanism. Or perhaps it did rust in the bath.
  • Combat Breakdown: Literally and figuratively. Damn substandard quarterstaves...
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: As punishment for his treachery, King Richard names all the toilets in England after Prince John. Then he has him locked in the Tower of London. "Make him part of the tour."
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Yeah, we all believe that the misdeeds were totally the Sheriff's fault...
    Everyone: *cough* Bullshit! *cough* Bullshit!
  • Creator Cameo: Mel Brooks as a Jewish rabbi peddling circumcisions and sacramental wine.
  • Creepy Changing Painting: Played for Laughs with the sheriff's cardboard cutout.
  • Crippling Castration: Rabbi Tuckman offers to circumcise Robin and his group of Merry Men, only for them to refuse when he demonstrates the circumcision as putting one's manhood through the chopping end of a small guillotine.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Parodied with the number of tragedies Blinkin says happened to Robin's family, and then he hugs Robin and says it's great to see him home.
  • Disability Superpower: Blinkin.
    Blinkin: I heard that coming a mile away!
    Robin: Right-o, Blinkin, very good.
    Blinkin: Pardon? Who's talking?
    • Don't forget when he beats the hell out of that pillar. For a blind man, Blinkin is really, really fast.
      • And he bear-hugged Robin.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Robin takes out an entire corps of armored knights by hitting one, who then falls into the next, who knocks down the one in front of him, who then...
  • The Don: The Sheriff enlists the help of Don Giovanni (Dom De Luise), a mafia boss from Jersey, to get rid of Robin Hood.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: At the banquet fracas, a steward and several busty court ladies watch the mayhem in shock from afar. After a moment, he starts checking out the boobage while they're none the wiser.
  • Double Entendre: "People call me 'Little John'. But, don't let my nickname fool you. In real life, I'm very big."
  • Droit du Seigneur: King Richard demands the PG-rated version of this trope before Robin and Marian get married. It's just a kiss, but it's a substantial one.
    Rabbi Tuckman: [observing] It's good to be the king.
  • Easy Come, Easy Go: "I CAN SEE! [CRASH!] No, I was wrong."
  • Embarrassing First Name: Mervyn, the Sheriff of Rottingham.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Mercilessly parodying a similar scene in Prince of Thieves.
    Robin Hood: Blinkin, listen to me. They've taken the castle!
    Blinkin: I thought it felt a bit drafty. Cor, this never would have happened if your father was alive.
    Robin Hood: He's dead?
    Blinkin: Yes.
    Robin Hood: And my mother?
    Blinkin: She died of pneumonia while... oh, you were away...
    Robin Hood: My brothers?
    Blinkin: They were all killed by the plague.
    Robin Hood: [sounding a little sadder] My dog, Pongo?
    Blinkin: Run over by a carriage.
    Robin Hood: [sounding a little more hopeful] My goldfish, Goldie?
    Blinkin: Eaten by the cat.
    Robin Hood: [on the verge of tears] My cat?
    Blinkin: Choked on the goldfish.
    Blinkin: Oh, it's good to be home, ain't it, Master Robin?
  • Exact Words: Constantly.
    Robin: Watch my back!
    [a soldier runs up and hits him two times]
    Ahchoo: Your back just got punched twice.
    • "Lend me your ears!" [one inevitable joke later] "That's disgusting..."
    • "HA! Walk This Way!" [Sheriff tosses his head and struts away, Robin and guards shrug and do as he said]
    • When Marian tries to talk Robin out of attending the archery tournament:
    Marian: Promise you won't go!
    Robin: Okay, I promise you won't go.
  • Expy: Cary Elwes is essentially playing Westley playing Robin Hood, with Dave Chappelle pretty nicely echoing Cleavon Little from Blazing Saddles. And in the Godfather scene, Don Giovanni is Don Corleone, Filthy Luca is Luca Brasi, and Dirty Ezio is Dirty Harry. Bonus point for the last one, for being a convincing doppelganger of Clint Eastwood.
  • Eye of Newt: And Latrine's the cook...
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Right trope, wrong rope. It fell on Robin, not the guards.
  • False Reassurance: Semantics, semantics...
  • Fanfare: The film opens with one over the credits.
    • The Sheriff gets a hilarious one, played without trumpets.
    • During the archery tournament, trumpets are played directly into Prince John's ears.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The Sheriff of Rottingham reluctantly agrees to marry Latrine if she saves his life. He quickly regrets that decision.
  • Flynning: Parodied, played straight, and then spanked like a naughty child.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The "magic pill" that Latrine gives to the Sheriff after he's run through to save his life is a Lifesaver
  • Fun with Subtitles: As Marian's hefty nurse prepares to drop into the saddle, her horse is thinking, "You've got to be kidding!"
  • Gag Penis: By way of a suggestive shadow puppet and a scabbard. It makes the Merry Men burst into spontaneous applause.
  • Gale-Force Sound: When Robin sings with Marian in his arms, the force of his singing blows her hair back and messes up her tiara.
  • Gesundheit: A Running Gag regarding Ahchoo (BLESS YOU!). His name is frequently heard as a sneeze — Asneeze is his father's name, incidentally.
  • Glove Slap:
    Sheriff of Rottingham: I challenge you... to a duel! (Sheriff slaps Robin Hood across the face with his glove) Hahahahaha! (throws down glove)
    (Robin calmly puts down his drink, then grabs a gauntlet from a suit of armor and slaps the Sheriff back.)
    Robin Hood: I accept!
  • Godiva Hair: Maid Marian coming out of the bath.
  • Greek Chorus: The four Merry Men dancing throughout the movie.
  • Groin Attack: An accidental one on Blinkin's part:
    Ahchoo (extending his hand): What's up man?
    Blinkin: How do you do? (reaches out to shake Ahchoo's hand, but ends up hitting him in the happy spot)
    Ahchoo (in much pain): I've been better.
    • Another unintentional one when Robin discovers Maid Marian's chastity belt.
    Maid Marian: It's an Everlast.
    Robin: (in pain) I'll bet..
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?
    We're butch!
  • Having a Heart: "Lend me your ears!"
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Maid Marian is played by a redhead.
  • Home Guard: The Sheriff and his men. Robin takes a cheap shot at the Sheriff, who seized his family's property while Robin was fighting in the Crusades.
    Crowd: Oooooooohh...
  • Honor Before Reason: Robin decides to fight Little John to cross the bridge, even though, as Ahchoo points out, it "ain't exactly the Mississippi." Robin insists that it's "the principle of the thing."
  • Idiot Ball: Robin grabs it hard when he decides that he absolutely has to compete in the archery tournament at the festival, which he didn't learn about until after he was told that the festival was a trap. Everyone present when he makes that decision realizes it, too.
  • Incessant Music Madness: Prince John calls for the knights to stop Robin and his men. About 50 men in suits of armor start marching into the room from all sides, the clanging of their armor getting louder and louder and louder. After several minutes of this, Prince John, who is holding his ears, says, "I hope this is worth THE NOISE!!!"
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: ... too bad about the chastity belt, though.
    Sheriff: That's going to chafe my willy.
    Marian: [as the Sheriff attempts to open it with a jackhammer] No matter what you do, I shall never submi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-it!
  • I Know Kung-Faux:
    Robin: Do you know "Praying Mantis"?
    Ahchoo: You're looking at him.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Subverted. He was aiming for the hangman.
  • Innocent Innuendo: See Gag Penis, above.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Hold this, Father." "Rabbi." "Whatever." / "Thank you, your majesty, here's your knife." "Sword." "Whatever."
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: The bridge that Little John guards, spanning a stream that's only a few inches wide and deep.
    • Ahchoo notices this and tries to explain it to Robin:
      Ahchoo: You don't have to do this. Look... this ain't exactly the Mississippi. (Jumping across for emphasis) I'm on one side... I'm on the other side! I'm on the east bank... I'm on the west bank! It is not that critical.
      Robin: That's not the point. It's the principle of the thing.
  • It Will Never Catch On:
    Crowd: A black sheriff?!?
    Ahchoo: Hey, why not? It worked in Blazing Saddles...
  • Just You and Me and My GUARDS!: The Sheriff of Rottingham supplies the Trope Namer.
  • Kissing the Ground: Parodied. Robin kisses the ground noisily when he lands in England, then spits sand out of his mouth.
  • Knife Nut: Will Scarlet.
  • Knife Outline: Using six arrows, fired all at once.
  • Knighting: One of the few things played straight. Robin Hood gets knighted by King Richard after the climax.
  • Land in the Saddle: Marian leaps from a balcony onto her horse. When her large lady-in-waiting attempts to do the same, her horse dodges. Given that she cracks the stones the horse was previously standing on, you can't blame the horse.
    Brunhilde: Fahrvergkügel! If I vas you, I vould never do zat again! Any qvestions? (horse shakes its head) Gut.
  • Large Ham: King Richard. Prior to him, the Sheriff handles the rest of the movie's hamminess; more than half his lines are either intensely sinister whispers or resounding shouts.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Marian hopes someone will come along who has the key to her... heart.
  • Left the Background Music On: When Robin sings "The Night is Young" to Marian, some of the Merry Men join in as the background music. Marian keeps turning her head every time they pitch in, wondering where it's coming from.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Rabbi Tuckman's wine is sacramental wine. It's only for blessing things. But on seeing the dejected looks on Robin and his men, the good Rabbi decides they can just bless the trees and squirrels and such until they're all good and drunk.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Ahchoo's Rousing Speech to the villagers.
  • Matron Chaperone: Broomhilde. Her entire job is to ensure that Maid Marian stays that way.
    Broomhilde: Before you do it, you must go through it! Or else I blew it.
  • Mess on a Plate: Latrine's omelet from hell. The intact eyeballs aren't the most visually disturbing thing on that plate.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Rabbi Tuckman mistakenly labels all of the Merry Men as this upon their first meeting.
    Rabbi Tuckman: (shaky hand motion) Faygeles?
    Robin Hood: No, we're straight. Just... merry.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Like everything else in the movie, intentional and played for laughs. The 12th Century Fox that they use to send a message note  is a grey fox, which aren't native to England. To add to the absurdity, it makes the sound of a dolphin as it runs off. The "happy little bluebird" isn't a native species, either.
  • Misspelling Out Loud:
    Don Giovanni: OK, you want plain English: Robin is gonna be dead. D-E-D. Dead.
  • Moment Killer: Marian's nursemaid. That's her job. And, of course, a shout out to Spaceballs.
    Broomhilde: You aren't married yet! Before you do it, you must go through it! Or else I blew it.
  • Multishot: Featured on the posters.
  • Neutral Female: Marian to an extreme extent during the swordfight between Robin and the Sheriff. She doesn't even try to get off the bed.
  • No Fourth Wall: Constantly.
  • Noisy Crossbows: As with everything else, done for giggles.
  • Offhand Backhand: Do You Know Praying Mantis?
    • During the brawl at the feast, Blinkin gives Robin a drink, and as he downs it, he carries on a swordfight in this vein.
    • One of the villagers does this to one guard accidentally while celebrating taking another one down a moment beforehand.
  • Offing the Annoyance: Almost invoked when a mime annoys the Sheriff to the point that he just shouts 'Kill him!', before he's stopped by Prince John, who says 'You know, a mime is a terrible thing to waste.'
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Hilariously averted by Rottingham. See above, Just You and Me and My GUARDS!
  • Pass the Popcorn: When Robin woos Maid Marian, the merry men set out some benches and gather to watch, and a couple of the villagers are eating popcorn, right off the cob, on a stick.
  • Pig Latin: The New Latin used by the Abbot.
    Oh ordLay, ivethgay usway ouryay essingsblay. Amen-ay!
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Robin and the Merry Men are never shown robbing the rich or giving to the poor. For that matter, their actions to take down Prince John and restore Richard to the throne boil down to being mildly irritating, resulting in John focusing all his attention on taking down Robin until Richard returns and deals with his brother by himself.
  • Piss-Take Rap: The Merry Men at one point.
  • Police Brutality: We first see Ahchoo when he's being worked over by Rottingham's grunts.
    Ahchoo: Man, I hope somebody's gettin' a video of this!
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: In spades. Notably...
    "Care for some... dessert?"
  • Precision F-Strike: When Blinkin is trying to get down from the observation tower, he ends up knocking over the ladder, which he only discovers after leaning forward to grab it.
    Blinkin: Oh, shit!
  • Pretty Boy: Will Scarlet O'Hara.
  • Produce Pelting: At Robin, after he actually loses an archery contest.
    Blinkin: Oh, they've opened the salad bar.
  • Projectile Kiss: Robin blows a kiss to Marian as he leaves Prince John's castle. Broomhilde intercepts it.
  • Promise Me You Won't X: "All right. I promise you won't go."
  • Rage Against the Author: The villagers in the opening sequence yell at Mel Brooks for burning down their village. Again.
  • Raging Stiffie: Robin's painful method of discovering Marian wears a chastity belt ("clang!"). Played for Laughs in a later scene where the scabbard of Robin's sword rises and creates a suggestive shadow.
  • Reading Ahead in the Script: When Filthy Luca bests Robin, during Prince John's archery contest, by splitting his arrow. Robin literally pulls out the movie's script and quickly flips through it, 'til he finds where it says he gets another shot. Prince John and the Sheriff of Rottingham, along with the rest of the cast, consult their own copies and see that he's right. Cue Robin's "Patriot Arrow".
  • Real Men Wear Tights: Tight tights!
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The song "Men in Tights" has the same backbeat as "Jews in Space" from History of the World Part I
  • Repeat After Me: Walk this way, indeed.
  • Rousing Speech: Subverted and played straight, in that order.
  • Running Gag: Robin lapsing into long-winded speeches, him and Maid Marian being prevented from kissing, people mistaking Ahchoo's name for a sneeze, the Sheriff's dyslexia, Prince John's mole moving around his face....
    Prince John: I have a mole?
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: A variant — Marian promises to marry Rottingham if he will spare Robin. The Sheriff has Robin standing at the gallows anyway, just for insurance.
    • Inverted at the end when Rottingham is run through. Latrine has a magic pill that will save his lifenote ... but she'll only give it to him if he promises to marry her.
  • Sequel Snark: The rapping Greek Chorus jokes about reappearing in Robin Hood 2.
  • Shadow Discretion Shot: Subverted for laughs.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: Robin is revealed about midway through the film that he has the key to Maid Marian's chastity belt. By the end of the film, after defeating the Sheriff of Rottingham and marrying Maid Marian, when he and Marian finally prepare to do the deed, it turns out his key doesn't work... Apparently it wasn't the real key. Or Rottingham's attempts to break the lock open messed it up. Or Marian just spent too long in the bath. They decided to just call the locksmith.
  • Shoot the Rope: Not what he was aiming at.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Marian volunteers for one with Rottingham to save Robin from the gallows. Later, Rabbi Tuckman seems to think that Robin's gotten Marian pregnant (it's actually to get Broomhilde to quit cockblocking):
    Rabbi: Married in a hurry! Please invite me to the bris.
  • Shout-Out:
    A black sheriff?!
    Hey, why not? It worked in Blazing Saddles.
  • Something Else Also Rises: The moonlight serenade.
  • Spiritual Successor: To When Things Were Rotten.
  • Stock Poses: If Robin isn't in motion, he's doing some kind of dramatic pose. On occasion he manages to maintain it while he is in motion.
  • Stompy Mooks: Lampshaded when the Sheriff calls in a bunch of guards in heavy, clanky armor to surround the protagonists.
    Prince John: I hope it's worth the noise!
  • Stop Drowning and Stand Up: In about an inch of water.
  • Sword over Head
  • Sword Sparks: Lampshaded.
  • Take That!: To Prince of Thieves, most obviously in the line: "Unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent."
    • Both Italian and French versions say: "I'm not someone who Dances with Wolves".
    • The German version has him say that he doesn't cost ("Kosten") the producers several million.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry:
    Sheriff of Rottingham: I've been angry at you before Loxley. But now I'm really PISSED OFF!
    Ahchoo: Pissed off? If I was that close to a horse's wiener, I'd worry about getting pissed on!
  • Theme Tune Rap
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Played for Laughs, of course, when Robin develops a hammed-up version as Blinkin goes over the long list of Robin's loved ones, now deceased. Blinkin, being blind, is totally oblivious to it and is overjoyed at Robin's return.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Parodied: the Sheriff of Rottingham slaps Robin with a glove to challenge him to a duel, and Robin counters with an actual gauntlet by way of accepting the challenge. Rottingham then lays out the terms of the duel, which happen to include calling in a whole mess of guards.
  • Title Drop: A funny variation.
    Rabbi Tuckman: Robin of Locksley? I just came back from Maid Marian, the lady whose heart you stole. You prince of thieves you!
    • A straighter (but still funny) variation would be the musical number "Men In Tights" in the middle of the movie.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: As it turns out, the villagers are not really suited to be trained - Robin's men wonder if it might not be best to go with the training dummies instead. In the end, they manage to get their act together and come to the rescue.
  • Trick Arrow: Laser-guided Patriot Arrow.
  • Troll Bridge: Guarded by Little John.

Alternative Title(s): Robin Hood Men In Tights