Myth: Robin Hood
"Lythe and listin, gentilmen,The man who lives in Sherwood Forest in Merrie Olde England. He robs from the rich, gives to the poor. He is a brilliant shot with a bow and has a band of Merry Men. In due course, the king happens on him, and grants The Pardon. After King Arthur, he is the best-known legendary hero ever produced by the British Isles.Robin Hood is first alluded to in William Langland's fourteenth century poem Piers Plowman, though the reference indicates he existed much earlier in oral tradition. The oldest surviving ballads featuring him all date from a century or so later; the Child Ballads include an entire book solely of Robin Hood ballads. He is traditionally associated with Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, though an important early ballad locates him in Barnesdale Forest in Yorkshire, and later ones as far afield as Scotland and London; a late ballad sets his birthplace as Locksley, a possibly fictional village in south Yorkshire or Notts. He is identified as a yeoman — a non-noble, free, small landholder — in his original incarnations, and it is thus that he is portrayed in what is most likely his most influential depiction, as "Locksley" in Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. It was Scott who added the conflict between Saxon and Normans to the legend, which often results in People of Hair Color in later retellings: all Saxons are identifiable as blond and Normans as darker-haired. The Elizabethans would attribute a title of nobility to Robin as Earl of Huntingdon; several modern incarnations make him a knight (or a soldier, treating the Crusades as some sort of medieval Vietnam). Certain early elements of the legend, such as Robin's devotion to the Virgin Mary and his antipathy to the higher clergy, have largely dropped out, to be replaced by his charity to the poor (probably developed from the early statement that he did no harm to poor farmers, yeomen, knights, or squires) and his opposition to tyranny (likely derived from his opposition — entirely natural in an outlaw — to the local Sheriff). He is the Trope Codifier for much of the Archer Archetype, especially the association with nature and the rebellious nature. Many of the specific feats of archery associated with this archetype are first seen in Robin Hood legends or modern adaptations.Although most modern retellings have settled on the Third Crusade as the time frame for the stories (thanks to Ivanhoe and Sir Walter Scott, who followed the lead of the early 16th century Scottish historian John Major), the earliest ballad to give any sort of indication of a date (the Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode) is set during the reign of a quasi-mythical "Edward, our comely [i.e., handsome] king." Three kings named Edward ruled England between 899 and 1066, and another three in succession from 1272 to 1377 (allusions to the Robin Hood legends started appearing in other works, such as court documents and Piers Plowman during this second period), but none of these were ever known as "the Comely" — which is, in any event, a wholly conventional epithet not firmly attached to any historical figure. Another, later ballad names a King Henry and Queen Katherine (Henry V's queen was Catherine/Katherine (the spelling wasn't standardized at this point) of Valois, no other King Henry had a queen named Katherine until Henry VIII); still others leave the monarch wholly anonymous, making an authentic period for Robin hard to place. The very tentative consensus current among scholars is to place the origin of the legend somewhere from ca. 1270-ca. 1350. A late 19th-early 20th century tendency to view Robin's legend as a remnant of pre-Christian pagan belief in some form of nature spirit, "Robin Wood" the "Spirit of the Forest", has largely been discredited in folklore studies, although it remains influential on more mystical retellings.Recurring characters in the Robin Hood mythos include:
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tel of a gode yeman,
His name was Robyn Hode.
Robyn was a prude outlaw,
Whyles he walked on grounde:
So curteyse an outlawe as he was one
Was nevere non founde."
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tel of a gode yeman,
His name was Robyn Hode.
Robyn was a prude outlaw,
Whyles he walked on grounde:
So curteyse an outlawe as he was one
Was nevere non founde."
- Little John, The Big Guy, the Boisterous Bruiser and Robin's right-hand man. Often he is portrayed as something of a Genius Bruiser, and generally more cautious than Robin himself. Generally befriends Robin in a very Shonen fashion. Often depicted as the original founder and leader of the Merry Men who cedes his place to Robin once he turns up.
- Will Scarlet, Robin's Lancer. Or Scathelock, Scarlock, Scarlet, Stukeley, Stuteley. . . there are a lot of ballads which feature a man named William with a surname vaguely on this line, which have sometimes been split into more men later. He can appear as Robin's foppish younger cousin, or as an experienced soldier about Robin's own age. The two conceptions merged, and modern portrayals generally vacillate wildly between the two extremes. The character(s) can sometimes be saddled with the problem of being Robin, only less so: a good archer, but not as good as Robin; a good leader of the men, but not as good as Robin, etc.. Still sometimes remembered as the Merry Man who gets saved from the noose by a comrade disguised as the hangman. Depending on the work, Will Scarlet tends to shine when it comes to swordplay, to the point of Dual Wielding.
- Much the Miller's Son: With William Scarlet and Little John, one of the three who regularly appears in the oldest ballads, but rather diminished since then. In modern retellings, he is often the youngest or least experienced of the Merry Men
- Other Merry Men make one appearance in the ballads: David of Doncaster, Gilbert Whitehand, and Arthur-a-Bland (one of the few men ever to beat Little John with the quarterstaff).
- Friar Tuck, a folk monk / preacher, often contrasted against the corruption in higher echelons of the Church. Usually portrayed as Big Fun and an overweight Big Eater like in The Adventures of Robin Hood and the British series of the same name. Even the Disney film portrays the friar as overweight. A late addition to the legend, he probably came in, like Maid Marian, by way of the May Games, possibly to counter stories of paganism / a particular brand of manly merriness among the Merry Men. (There was a 15th century outlaw in Sussex called "Friar Tuck," who either may have taken his name from the legend or had his name given to the originally anonymous Friar of the May Games.) To give him a Badass Preacher / Warrior Monk edge, some versions grant him a knowledge of pankration — a blend of wrestling and boxing which dates back to the Greeks, believed by many to be older than Kung Fu.
- The Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin's traditional Big Bad (though sometimes The Dragon), a corrupt official and Feudal Overlord.
- Guy of Gisbourne (or Gisborne, Gisburne, etc.), a bounty hunter, often The Dragon to the Sheriff and something of Robin's Evil Counterpart as well. His portrayal varies from an outlaw in animal skins to a sneering knight.
- Prince John, evil younger brother to The Good King Richard the Lionheart (Richard I). Often painted as a usurper to the throne, "the phoney King of England". Sometimes The Man Behind the Man to the Sheriff, but often just a Pointy-Haired Boss abused by the Sheriff's machinations.
- Maid Marian (or Marion), Robin's Love Interest. Marian was a latecomer to Robin Hood folklore; she probably originated as the originally unnamed May Queen or Queen of the Shepherds, a popular figure of the May festivities. (Her name was likely derived from totally unrelated pastoral plays similar to Adam de la Halle's Jeu de Robin et Marion, in which a virtuous girl is seduced by the charms of The City before returning home to her boyfriend, a shepherd who happened to be named Robin.) When Robin Hood plays became a fad, someone did a crossover, and it eventually stuck. Maid Marian is sometimes treated as a Damsel in Distress, other times as an archer Action Girl and/or Rebellious Princess.
- Allan-a-Dale, a minstrel and sometimes narrator (for example, in the Disney version and in The Outlaw Chronicles). A Warrior Poet sometimes. He's a 17th-century addition, though the character occurs independently in Scottish Border ballads.
- Richard at the Lee, a landed noble who is deeply indebted to the corrupt clergy. Robin helps with his debts, and so Richard later hides Robin from the Sheriff. Some later versions of the story make him Marian's father.
- The Saracen. In recent years, a Moorish/Muslim character — Fish out of Water as he/she might be — has begun to show up as a member of the Merry Men. Nasir in Robin of Sherwood was the first, followed by Azeem (Morgan Freeman) in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (reportedly because the writer watched Robin of Sherwood instead of doing proper research and thought Nasir was a traditional character) and Djaq (a Saracen woman character played by relative newcomer Anjali Jay) in the 2006 UK series. This addition was spoofed (along with just about everything else Robin-related) in the Mel Brooks film Robin Hood: Men in Tights and in the series Maid Marian and Her Merry Men (which has a Rastafarian Merry Man).
Examples (in chronological order):
- As noted above, the very first literary allusion to Robin Hood comes in 1377, in William Langland's long moral allegory Piers Plowman, in which the character Sloth says, "I kan noȝt parfitly my Paternoster as ŝe preest it syngeŝ, But I kan rymes of Robyn hood and Randolf Erl of Chestre." note
- About 1450, "A Gest of Robyn Hode" was put to manuscript; it was published half a century a later. This is among the oldest tales featuring Robin, and internal evidence points strongly toward its being several existing tales joined together — often somewhat ineptly. Other tales from this time include Robin Hood and the Potter and Robin Hood's Death of which only fragments survive.
- In 1521, Scottish historian John Major published his Historia Majoris Brittaniae, the first version of the legend to assign Robin Hood to the time of Richard The Lion Heart; Major also suggested that Robin not only avoided robbing the poor, "but rather enriched them from the plunder taken from the abbots."
- In 1598, the playwright Anthony Munday (with Henry Chettle) wrote two plays, The Downfall of Robert, Earle of Huntington and The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntington; this play gives Robin a title in a double sense, for it attributes to the erstwhile yeoman a title of nobility. The plays are set in the time of King John; "Maid Marian" becomes a pseudonym for the Lady Matilda Fitzwater [sic], pursued by the lustful king.
- In 1795, Robin Hood: A Collection of all the Ancient Poems, Songs and Ballads, now extant, relative to that celebrated Outlaw was published by Joseph Ritson. Ritson's commentaries on the ballads established the image of Robin as a freedom fighter against overbearing Royal tyranny (not coincidentally, Ritson was a firm supporter of The French Revolution).
- In 1819, Sir Walter Scott published his Ivanhoe in which Robin (as "Locksley") plays a major part. Scott's main contribution to the legend is probably the motif of racial strife between the Normans and the Saxons and the introduction of Robin's affiliation to the name "Locksley." In the novel he uses it as an alias; later writers would use it as the name of his birthplace and village.
- In 1883, American artist and children's book author Howard Pyle published his lavishly illustrated and very successful The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire, a somewhat Bowdlerized and sentimentalized distillation in prose of the matter of the ballads.
- Robin Hood appears in the Child Ballads #117-154 (the collection was published in 1882-1898, but the ballads themselves are much older).
- In 1890, American composer Reginald DeKoven and prolific librettist Harry B. Smith had a notable hit with his comic opera, Robin Hood; a older song interpolated by Jessie Bartlett Davis in the Crosscast Role of Allan-a-Dale, "O Promise Me," enjoyed a Revival by Commercialization and would become a staple of weddings for a good seventy years thereafter. A decade or so later, DeKoven and Smith wrote a less successful sequel, Maid Marian.
- Robin Hood and His Merry Men (silent) — The first Robin Hood film produced, c. 1908-1909?. (Lost).
- Robin Hood (silent) — An American version, with Robert Frazer as Robin, by Éclair American films in 1912. An interesting aspect is the delineation of character by cross-fading from the actors to various animals symbolizing their moral qualities.
- Robin Hood (silent) — Issued in four parts by Thanhouser films in 1913, with William Russell as Robin. (Lost)
- Robin Hood (silent) — 1922 Hollywood film starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. It was the most expensive film produced at the time of its release (the castle set was reputed to be the biggest ever built for a silent film). One notable feature — the first half of the film takes place in the Holy Land with Robin (as the Earl of Huntingdon) and King Richard; it's not until the second half that the action moves to Sherwood Forest. Alan Hale, Sr., who played Little John, would reprise the role for Errol Flynn's 1938 film. For years the film was thought to be lost — until a copy was rediscovered in the 1960s.
- Around the same time G. K. Chesterton wrote a Robin Hood ballad, telling of a meeting between Maid Marian and the Virgin Mary after Robin's death.
- The Adventures of Robin Hood — 1938 film and arguably the most famous Hollywood film adaptation. Features an all-star cast including Errol Flynn (Robin), Olivia de Havilland (Marian), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne) and Claude Rains (Prince John). Also starred Alan Hale, Sr., who reprised his role as Little John (having played it 16 years earlier, as noted in the previous entry).
- In the same year of 1938 Robin appears as "Robin Wood" along with Little John, Maid Marian, and Friar Tuck in T. H. White's novel of the boyhood of King Arthur, The Sword in the Stone (though not in its Disney adaptation); in this version he embodies the idea of Robin as "the spirit of the woods he lives in."
- In 1946 the son of Robin Hood appeared in the form of Cornel Wilde in Bandit of Sherwood Forest to save the boy-king Henry III from usurpation by his scheming regent, the Earl of Pembroke (Henry Daniell).
- The 1948 UPA shortnote Robin Hoodlum casts The Fox And The Crow as Robin (anticipating Disney's version by 25 years) and the Sheriff, respectively.
- Footage from the Errol Flynn film is used in the 1949 Bugs Bunny short Rabbit Hood. The short features the Sheriff of Nottingham as its antagonist, while Little John appears a few times to proclaim "Don't you worry, never fear. Robin Hood will soon be here."
- In 1950, an alternative son of Robin Hood (Jon Derek) appeared in Columbia Pictures' Rogues of Sherwood Forest; Alan Hale, Sr., appeared as Little John for the third and last time in this film.
- The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men — 1952 Disney live-action film starring Richard Todd. Breaks the One Steve Limit by featuring both "Wills" (Will Scarlet and Will Stutely) as separate characters (although the latter is barely seen and is referred to only by his surname).
- Robin Hood (1953) — First TV adaptation, lasted only one season and transmitted live. No longer survives in fully broadcastable form. Most notable for the title role being played by Patrick Troughton. Yes, that one.
- The Adventures of Robin Hood — 1955-1960 ITV series, famous for its theme tune ("Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen", infamously parodied by Monty Python's Flying Circus in their "Dennis Moore" sketch. Now give me all your lupins.) Richard Greene starred as the dashing outlaw. A filmic derivative, with Peter Cushing as the Sheriff of Nottingham, appeared in 1960.
- In 1957 Dan Taylor starred as Robin in the undistinguished Men of Sherwood Forest.
- In 1958 Son of Robin Hood appeared; oddly enough, the "son" in this film is a daughter, Deering (June Laverick). Jamie of Chester (David Hedison, later known as Captain Lee Crane in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) has to pose as Robin's son, since, of course, the Medieval Morons all believe that girls should Stay in the Kitchen.
- The 1958 Looney Tunes short Robin Hood Daffy features Daffy Duck as Robin Hood, trying to prove his identity to travelling friar Porky Pig.
- The 1964 Frank Sinatra musical film Robin and the 7 Hoods moves the story to Prohibition-era Chicago. Sammy Davis, Jr., as Will anticipates Mark Ryan's Moor character by a good 20 years; Bing Crosby as Allan A. Dale serves as both the friar and the minstrel figure; Peter Falk is the Big Bad, "Robbo"'s rival racketeer, Guy Gisborne; Barbara Rush plays Marian as a two-timing Femme Fatale running a plan of her own.
- Space cartoon version from 1966-1969: Rocket Robin Hood, by Krantz Films Inc. It was a Space Opera set in the year 3000. In one episode, the Robin of the future actually time travels and meets the real Robin.
- In 1967 Hammer Horror produced the first Robin Hood movie for British cinema; A Challenge For Robin Hood a full-blooded version with a Norman (!) Robin played by Barrie Ingham (AKA Basil of Baker Street).
- In the same year The Beverly Hillbillies featured an episode called "Robin Hood and the Sheriff," in which Jethro takes to the woods in emulation of the outlaw; his band of merry men is swelled by a group of hippies, whom Granny teaches to "smoke crawdads."
- In 1969, the studio followed up with a pilot for a failed television series, Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood with New Zealander David Warbeck as Robin (released in theatres in 1973). This version hewed very closely to the original ballad versions.
- In 1972, Hanna-Barbera did an animated spoof as an ABC Saturday morning film, The Adventures of Robin Hoodnik, predating the better-known Funny Animal (only this time, strictly Rule of Funny) animated film by a year. Here, Robin is reimagined as a dog, an Idiot Hero who is henpecked by Maid Marian.
- Disney's 1973 animated version of Robin Hood tells the classic story with a Funny Animal cast. Robin is, appropriately, reimagined as a fox.
- Mel Brooks' short-lived 1975 spoof TV series, When Things Were Rotten, starring Dick Gautier and Misty Rowe.
- In 1976, Richard Lester directed Robin and Marian, in which an aged Robin (Sean Connery), who has been campaigning in France, returns to England after Richard's death to find that Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn} has become Prioress of Kirklees Abbey. Arguably a Deconstruction, since it shows the English nobility (including "Good" King Richard) as pretty rotten, and how utterly exhausting the sword fights and chase scenes in most Robin Hood movies would actually be.
- In 1982 impressionist Rich Little did a Robin Hood TV special in which he played all the roles.
- In the same year, The Smurfs featured "The Adventures of Robin Smurf," in which Vanity Smurf played the conceited outlaw.
- An ITV series, Robin of Sherwood, ran from 1984 to 1986, and is often described as the best Robin Hood retelling of all time (which is saying something considering the multitude of adaptations out there). Conceived and written by Richard Carpenter, it sought to infuse the legends with pagan mythology while at the same time striving for meticulous historical accuracy. Robin and the outlaws were portrayed as extremely young (mid-twenties at most), working at the behest of Herne the Hunter to keep a natural balance between the forces of good and evil. Despite only running for three seasons (twenty-six episodes in all), the show had a considerable impact on how subsequent adaptations handled the material. Its most influential and/or memorable creative choices included:
- Depicting Robin Hood as a Secret Identity and Legacy Character known as "The Hooded Man", a persona that could be passed from one individual to another.
- The serendipity of this concept when it came to writing out Robin's original actor Michael Praed (who abruptly quit the show at the end of season two) and introducing a new Robin played by Jason Connery. In a way this worked in the show's favour, as it allowed Carpenter to include the two very different origins of Robin Hood as found in the legends: one as a poor woodsman, the other as a wealthy nobleman, son of the Earl of Huntington.
- Characterizing Maid Marion more as an Action Girl than a Distressed Damsel.
- Introducing the popular idea of a Moorish/Saracen outlaw who joins Robin Hood's band.
- Explicitly linking the name Will Scarlett with the idea of this character possessing a "scarlet" temper.
- The rare move of giving King Richard as well as Prince John a Historical Villain Upgrade .
- Making at least two important characters secret half-brothers, a conceit which also popped up in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the BBC's Robin Hood.
- It's theme song, which put the band Clannad on the map.
- The infamous silver arrow prop which looked like a dildo.
- Also in 1984, a made-for-TV parody, The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood aired. Notable for a surprising number of recognizable names in its cast (if not much else): George Segal played Robin Hood, Morgan Fairchild played Maid Marian, Roddy McDowell played Prince John and Tom Baker (yes, that Tom Baker) played Guy of Gisbourne.
- In 1986, the Amiga game Defender Of The Crown featured Robin as a recruitable ally three times in the course of game-play; this was a selling point of the game.
- Also in 1986, the ZX Spectrum comedy Text Adventure Robin of Sherlock, which bizarrely fused Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, and a whole lot of Pantomime characters into a shaggy-dog story about Moriarty impersonating Herne the Hunter.
- In 1988, the ALFTales cartoon presented its version of Robin Hood (mainly parodying the 1938 film), with Gordon as Robin with a literal (swing) band of Merry Men; it features a Big Stick bout with a saxophone-wielding Little John, as well as a pumpkin-head-wearing Friar Tuck.
- Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, a 1989 children's show written by Tony "Baldrick" Robinson, subverted many of the central tenets of the myth. Maid Marian was the central protagonist, Robin Hood The Fool, Little John a dwarf, etc.
- Robin Hood no Daibōken, an 1990 anime adaptation of the Robin Hood story consisting of 52 episodes, animated by Tatsunoko.
- In 1991, Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves appeared; a mélange of previous motifs, it is perhaps most notable for Alan Rickman's magnificently saturnine Sheriff of Nottingham.
- Also in 1991, a lesser known but highly superior TV movie version of the legend, entitled simply Robin Hood, was made with Patrick Bergin as Robert Hode (Robin Hood), Uma Thurman as a bad-ass Maid Marian, who actually kills a few guys in the final battle (again, Uma Thurman), and Jürgen Prochnow as the villain, Sir Miles Folcanet. Moreover, the Sheriff of Nottingham in this version isn't evil; he's just made some bad decisions.
- In 1991 Millennium Interactive published an Action Adventure Video Game The Adventures of Robin Hood.
- Young Robin Hood, a 1991-1992 Hanna-Barbera cartoon about Robin Hood and his merry men as teenagers.
- Parke Godwin's 1991 novel Sherwood and the 1993 Robin and the King place the story during the Norman Conquest with William the Conqueror as a major character.
- In 1992, Sierra On-Line released Conquests of the Longbow: the Legend of Robin Hood, a graphic adventure game in which one played as Robin Hood with various tasks centered around raising money for King Richard's ransom, thwarting the Sheriff of Nottingham, and saving innocent people from harm. It contained several mystical elements (such as wood sprites and the Green Man) and portrayed Marian as a "forest priestess."
- In 1992 Jennifer Roberson published Lady of the Forest, a novel that retells the legend from Marian's pov. It was followed in 1999 by Lady of Sherwood. The books steer away from the mythological aspects of the legend and concentrate on Character Development. This might be the first time that Robin, who just returned from the crusades, is given post traumatic stress disorder and deals with it in a realistic way.
- In 1993 Mel Brooks directly spoofed the 1991 Costner film in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which featured Cary Elwes as a Robin who actually spoke with an English accent.
- Also in 1993, Theresa Tomlinson published The Forestwife, the first book in the Forestwife Trilogy; an excellent (and well researched) set of young adult novels focussing on Marian as the central character. The later books are Child of May (1998) and Path of the She Wolf (2000). The first book focuses on Marian and expands her role from The Chick to The Medic.
- The 1995 novel The Sherwood Game by Esther Friesner is about a Cyberspace game featuring the Robin Hood characters; it gets complicated when Instant A.I., Just Add Water kicks in. (Though things don't get really bad until the Corrupt Corporate Executive shows up.)
- The Abrafaxe graphic novel Mach's noch einmal, Robin! ("Do it again, Robin!", 1996) features an aged Robin Hood visually based on Sean Connery, his merry men, and his tomboyish daughter Marian.
- The New Adventures of Robin Hood was a 1997-1998 live action TV series on Turner Network Television. It was filmed in Vilnius, Lithuania. The tone of the series resembled its contemporaries Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.
- Robin Hood - czwarta strzała (Robin Hood - the Fourth Arrow) is a 1997 low-budget Polish TV comedy that deals with the legend of Robin Hood in a Monty Python-esque way.
- A French-accented "Monsieur Hood" makes a brief appearance on Shrek (2001). He tries to "save" Fiona from Shrek, until she lays some Waif-Fu on him and his Merry Men.
- 2001 saw the release of Disney's made-for-television movie Princess of Thieves with a 15-year-old Keira Knightley as Gwyn, Robin Hood's daughter. Entertaining but average, the story kept certain aspects of the traditional legends (the archery tournament, the rescue of imprisoned outlaws) and simply cast Gwyn as the main character in these events.
- The German video games company Spellbound Games produced Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood in 2002, a stealth-based real-time strategy video game in which the player controls a number of characters (Robin himself, Will Stutely, Will Scarlet, Little John, Maid Marian, and Friar Tuck) and faces a number of enemies (Guy of Gisbourne, Guillame de Longchamps (!), and Sir Scathlock of Derby), ultimately to fight the Sheriff of Nottingham and defeat Prince John's bid to usurp the throne.
- Maid Marian by Elsa Watson came out in 2005. This novel is narrated by the eponymous maid, who starts out as a noblewoman rescued from an unpleasant marriage by Robin and then goes through numerous adventures, only some of which involve Robin Hood.
- The BBC ran Robin Hood from 2006-2009, portraying Robin Hood as a young man who accompanied King Richard on the Crusades and returned home disillusioned by war. It had an eye on the political climate of the time, with not-particularly-subtle commentary on the War on Terror. It's best remembered for:
- Its Anachronism Stew.
- Raising the profiles of Richard Armitage and Lara Pulver.
- Adding an Affirmative Action Girl to the outlaws by gender-flipping the Saracen character.
- Removing Allan-a-Dale's minstrel qualities and making him a pick-pocketing trickster instead.
- Portraying Tuck as a Magical Negro.
- The controversial decision to fridge Maid Marian at the end of season two; a decision made for self-admitted shock value and which resulted in a sharp decrease in ratings that the show never recovered from.
- Replacement Scrappys of all time. "Feisty village girl" Kate, one of the most hated
- Paving the way for other BBC shows to follow the formula of updating and reimagining traditional source material as family-friendly Saturday night entertainment, including Merlin and The Musketeers (which were successful) and Sinbad and Atlantis (which were not).
- Also from 2006 is Stephen R Lawhead's Raven King trilogy (Hood; Scarlett; Tuck), a retelling of the Robin Hood story...IN WALES.
- The Outlaw Chronicles by Angus Donald features an absolutely terrifying version of Robin (the tagline for the first book is: "Meet the Godfather of Sherwood forest") and is narrated by an elderly Alan Dale (Alan-A-Dale by another name) who is writing his memoirs of his time as first an outlaw under Robin's command, then his right hand man/sworn swordsman/messenger/poet/and briefly assassin catcher. This series is notable for its darker themes, its very dark Robin who indulges in a human sacrifice to increase his mystique with the country folk, extremely loyal to those who are close to him, and doesn't consider those outside his circle to be real people, and so feels free to lie, cheat, steal and murder., the regular appearance of King Richard I (thus far the books are set either just before he takes the throne and during his reign), a large amount of historical accuracy and the writing style.
- There's an odd trend of an immortal Robin of Locksley showing up in fiction with a modern setting. See Marjorie M. Liu's "The Red Heart of Jade" (2006) and Lynn Viehl's "Evermore" (2008). In both cases the character's true nature is hidden from either the reader and/or other characters for a decent period of time.
- In 2009, The Backyardigans had a Robin Hood-themed episode called "Robin Hood the Clean", with resident Hot-Blooded penguin Pablo as Robin Hood. The episode, mind you, was about was about all the cleaning supplies getting locked in a dungeon and Pablo/Robin Hood trying to retrieve them.
- Also in 2009 came the Sci Fi Channel's television movie Beyond Sherwood Forest in which Robin Hood fights mythological creatures in Sherwood. It's about as good as you'd expect.
- 2010 saw the release Ridley Scott's Robin Hood with Russell Crowe as Robin and Cate Blanchett as Marian. In a departure from most modern versions there are no Saracen characters and Robin is of humble origins rather than a dispossessed nobleman.
- The plot also has Robin masquerading as slain knight Robert Locksley and attempting to unite the English people to defeat a treacherous plot by the king of France and to get Prince John to sign a precursor to the Magna Carta. It's only at the end that he and his companions actually retreat to the greenwood and become outlaws.
- Mount & Blade mod Europe 1200 (first version released in 2010) has Robin Hood among the potential party members. The potential party members also include Fulk FitzWarin and Roger Godberd, two English historical characters who have been speculated to have inspired the Robin Hood legend.
- 2011, Edguy releases a song about him on its Age of the Joker album. The catch? It's actually a Villain Song of sorts, as it portrays him as The Dreaded. And it's appropriately epic yet strangely humorous. Listen to it by yourself!
- In 2011, the Royal Shakespeare Company performed David Farr's play The Heart of Robin Hood, in which Robin starts off the play as an ordinary brigand, with Maid Marion attempting to reform him.
- In 2012-3, Robin appears as a minor character in the second and third seasons of Once Upon a Time.
- In 2014, 12-Gauge Comics rleased Sherwood, Texas, a setting update that re-imagines Robin Hood as the leader of an outlaw biker gang battling the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham County on the Texas/Mexico border.
- Also in 2014, the Doctor Who episode "Robot of Sherwood" had the Doctor meeting Robin Hood and helping him foil the Sheriff of Nottingham who is in league with alien robots.
Robins by another name:
- In William Shakespeare's As You Like It (ca. 1600), it is said of the exiled Duke:They say hee is already in the Forrest of Arden, and a many merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of England: they say many yong Gentlemen flocke to him every day, and fleet the time carelessly as they did in the golden world.
- Hajduci is a collective name for a number of outlaws in the Balkans, fighting against the Ottoman Empire throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
- In France, Louis Mandrin, was a famous "brigand" of the eighteenth century, staunch enemy of the "fermiers généraux" (tax collectors).
- Germany had Johannes Bückler, or "Schinderhannes", opposing the French Revolutionaries during their occupation of the left bank of the Rhine. He was guillotined in 1802 and is the hero of a notable play by Carl Zuckmayer.
- Hungary has Rózsa Sándor, one of the most famous and popular outlaws, who even fought in the 1848-49 revolution. Notable in that he actually tried to give up his outlaw ways more than once but couldn't, mostly due to prejudice on the authorities' side.
- Koba from The Patricide, an 1883 novel by Georgian writer Alexander Kazbegi. Best known as a source for Stalin's first pseudonym.
- In G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown story "The Paradise of Thieves" (1912), the King of Thieves is explicitly compared to Robin Hood."A great man," replied Muscari, "worthy to rank with your own Robin Hood, signorina. Montano, the King of Thieves, was first heard of in the mountains some ten years ago, when people said brigands were extinct. But his wild authority spread with the swiftness of a silent revolution."
- In 1934, Alex Raymond's comic strip Flash Gordon introduced Prince Barin's land of Arboria, an entire nation of green-clad freedom fighting archers living in a vast forest kingdom.
- The superhero Green Arrow, debuting in 1941's More Fun Comics #73, fights crime with Trick Arrows and a Robin Hood-inspired costume. He's taken on other elements of Robin at times; he began championing the poor and oppressed in the '60s, and for a brief time at the very end of the Post-Crisis continuity he became an outlaw and got his own forest to run around in.
- "The Black Fox" in the 1955 film The Court Jester is clearly inspired by Robin Hood.
- Thierry la Fronde was a French TV series, running from 1963 to 1966, that borrowed heavily from Robin Hood. He was a young disenfranchised nobleman in English-occupied France (ca. 1360) living in the woods with a gang of resistance fighters. His weapon of choice was not the bow, but the sling.
- According to Reason columnist Jesse Walker, such '70s cinematic offerings as Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Up In Smoke (1978) can be seen as depicting modern American interpretations of the traditional Robin Hood narrative.
- The 1979-1985 TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. It's even lampshaded in their Expository Theme Tune.
- Knights of the Oblong Table (I Cavalieri Della Tavola Bislunga) is a fantasy novel by Luciano Malmusi published in 1994. Times are hard in Central Italy, made worse by an unpleasantly tyrannical lord. Inspired by the story of King Arthur, a motley collection of drifters — starting with an unemployed knight, including a "witch", throwing in a friar, and ending with a little boy and his pet pig — band together and make life miserable for the local nobles. The story's resemblance to Robin Hood may have been unintentional. May be a deconstruction of common medieval character types.
- The first-season episode "Jet" of Avatar: The Last Airbender, (first aired May 6, 2005) apparently offers the viewers a Robin Hood analogue in the eponymous Jet, with his band of high-spirited freedom fighters, but then subverts expectations when Jet turns out to be little more than a charismatic thug.
- The episode appropriately named "Robin Hood" in NUMB3RS (originally aired October 26, 2007) has a real-life Robin Hood who robbed from a bunch of evil people and has the rewards donated to charity.
- Leverage is a 2008 American TV series set in the modern day whose cast is intentionally modelled after Robin Hood and his Merry Men (albeit in the form of a Five-Token Band.) Rather than just one antagonist, it has various evil corporations.
- The various times Francois Villon is presented in film/television turn the poet into a Robin Hood figure, especially in The Beloved Rogue, with a silent with John Barrymore, and in "The Sword of Villon," an episode of Directors' Showcase with Errol Flynn as the Frenchman, virtually copying his Robin Hood costume.
- Water Margin has sometimes been described as the Chinese equivalent of the Robin Hood legends.
- Batman's sidekick Robin is sometimes said to have taken his codename from Robin Hood.
- (Juraj) Janosik was a Slovak outlaw remembered in legend as taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Usually depicted with a merry company of his own. Very popular in Poland as well, due to cross-border cultural exchange.
- The Swiss folk hero William Tell is sometimes likened to Robin Hood, as he's also an expert marksman (though with a crossbow). The main difference is that William Tell isn't a thief who acts Just Like Robin Hood, as he is a patriotic La Résistance figure during the Austrian rule of Switzerland. Some interpretations of Robin Hood similarly make him champion the Saxon cause in the face of Norman rule, but this wasn't in his original legends.