A series co-produced by Starz and GK-TV, Camelot
is an adaptation of the Arthurian legend
. The show claims to be based on Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur
, though many liberties have been taken and Arthur, Merlin
and company are characterized differently from common perceptions.
After King Uther Pendragonís sudden death, the sorcerer Merlin
brings his unknown son and official heir, the young and impetuous Arthur
, into the limelight. However, Arthur's elder half sister Morgan believes the throne is rightfully hers
. Morgan battles Arthur with dark arts which may be beyond her control. Meanwhile Arthur has to deal with his feelings for Guinevere
, who is betrothed to another man (a man who on at least one occasion saved his life, no less).
It premiered on April 1, 2011. A special preview of the first episode was shown on February 25th, 2011. Starz announced it was not renewing the series
on June 30th 2011.Not to be mistaken
with the BBC1
, another series based on the legend, the musical of the same name
, or the french series with a similar name
This series contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: The first scene Uther appears in has him hitting Morgan.
- Accidental Murder: Merlin's trip to get a specially forged sword for Arthur results in the deaths of the smith and his daughter In his guilt, Merlin then provokes two random guys into beating him up.
- Accomplice by Inaction: Morgan views Igraine as this to Uther's abuse, and their second scene together is the page quote.
- Aerith and Bob: In this series, Excalibur is a girl's name.
- Almost Kiss: Merlin and Igraine. And then came impostor Igraine...
- Arranged Marriage: Guinevere and Leontes.
- Badass Bookworm: Kay. Also, Merlin.
- Badass Longcoat: Merlin.
- Bald of Awesome: Merlin again.
- Bed Trick: How Arthur was conceived.
- And then there is the episode "Igraine" featuring an impostor Igraine and Merlin.
- And now we have impostor Guinevere having sex with the king
- Berserk Button: Mentioning Merlin's family in the middle of a fistfight gets you burned to death.
- Betty and Veronica: Leontes and Arthur for Guinevere. We all know who gets her in the end.
- Big Bad: Morgan.
- Big Damn Heroes: Arthur's knights who return to Bardon Pass to help him fight against Morgan's men
- The Big Guy: Gawain, who agrees to work for Arthur if Kay will teach him to read.
- Black Dude Dies First: One of Arthur's companion knights, Ulfius, is played by a black actor, and he's the first and only one to die before Leontes.
- Blood Brothers: Arthur and Kay.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Arthur and impostor Guinevere who is really Morgan
- Cain and Abel: Morgan and Arthur respectively. Adoptive brothers Arthur and Kay avert the trope.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Morgan calls Uther out on sending her to a nunnery for fifteen years following her mother's death and remarrying. Uther responds by disowning her.
- Canon Foreigner: Leontes, Guinevere's first husband.
- Sister Sybil, a nun and Morgan's mentor in sorcery. While some versions of the legends have Morgan learning magic at a nunnery, the show gives a face to those nuns.
- Morgan's henchman Harwel who is in love with her. Though he could be loosely based on Sir Accolon.
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Morgan discovers Harwel spying on her in the bath and asks "What were you doing with that hand before you used it to sully my dress?".
- Chained to a Bed: Merlin finds himself in this state after being drugged by Morgan.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Leontes and Guinevere are childhood sweethearts and have been betrothed for the last five years.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Arthur.
- Composite Character: Morgan is paired with King Lot, traditionally the husband of Morgause, another sister of Arthur.
- Morgan is also the daughter of Uther and his first wife, whereas traditionally her parents are the Duke of Cornwall and Igraine. In older versions of the legend (as in Geoffrey of Monmouth) Uther does have a daughter named Anna, though her mother is Igraine and thus she is Arthur's full sister. Anna is often combined with Morgause.
- The Chosen One: Arthur.
- Deadpan Snarker: Arthur.
- Deal with the Devil: It is implied that Morgan made one at the end of the second episode.
- Demythtification: While the show has overt magical elements, some parts of the legend are given mundane equivalents.
- The Sword in the Stone is rigged by Merlin to release when pushed down instead of pulled.
- Excalibur is just an exceptionally well-crafted sword.
- There is no magical Lady of the Lake handing over Excalibur. Merlin makes the whole thing up to cover up Accidental Murder at his hands.
- Disaster Dominoes: A chain of events in the fourth episode introducing the sword Excalibur leads to two Accidental Murders. While Arthur's new sword is being forged, Merlin dreams of Arthur getting stabbed. The swordsmith wants to present the sword to the king himself, but Merlin rebuffs him since he thinks the smith, an ex-warrior with admitted violent yearnings, might do the deed. The smith takes this as an insult and refuses to hand the sword over. This leads to brawling, and Merlin ends up burning the smith to death when he mentions Merlin's family. The smith's aggrieved daughter snatches the sword away. Merlin chases her to a nearby lake where she plans to discard it. To get to her, Merlin freezes the surface, but then the girl falls in and drowns despite Merlin's efforts to save her.
- Dreaming of Things to Come:
- Arthur foresees a relationship with Guinevere.
- Merlin foresees Arthur's death.
- Dual Wielding: Gawain.
- Dueling Shows: With Merlin
- Eldritch Abomination: Implied. The source of Merlin, Morgan, and Sybil's power seems to be some sort of existential intelligence. This is show-cased by Morgan having 'interactions' with an invisible entity. Or their powers may have simply rendered them bat-shit crazy.
- Enemy Mine: As mutual enemies of Uther, Morgan convinces King Lot to create an alliance with her so they can rule Camelot together.
- Later, after Morgan figures she'd be better off ruling alone, she betrays Lot's plans to attack Camelot to Arthur. In return Arthur places her under his protection. He even proposes that they rule jointly, but is rejected.
- Equivalent Exchange: Merlin warns Morgan that magic has a physical and/or spiritual price. She's endured Painful Transformations, Psychic Nosebleeds, Tears of Blood and Blood from the Mouth.
Vivian: There's blood... everywhere!
- Everyone Can See It: Merlin and Igraine are painfully aware of the forbidden relationship between Arthur and Guinevere and set to put a stop to it. As a result of using magic to find out what lies in Arthur's heart, Morgan knows too.
- Evil Counterpart: Morgan is a bit of one to Merlin. Or Merlin is one of Morgan, after Episode 4. Upon her introduction, Sybil to Merlin.
- Expy: Leontes is an inverted Lancelot. Like the legendary knight, he is the king's champion and involved in a Love Triangle with Arthur and Guinevere. Unlike the legendary knight, he is actually Guinevere's husband instead of her lover, and it is with Arthur that she commits infidelity.
- Extreme Doormat: Igraine starts off as this, which is one of the reasons Morgan detests her.
- Foreshadowing: Arthur's dreams about Guinevere. They probably aren't about how they get together, because they already did that, but are probably warnings about how Morgan will take her form and conceive Mordred.
- Except Arthur started having dreams about Guinevere before they got together, so it was probably just a foreshadowing of his relationship of her, not necessarily about a liaison with Morgan.
- Follow the Leader: It did not go unnoticed that this series started up at the same time Merlin was beginning its fourth season. Though it was probably a coincidence, it also ended up containing several interesting similarities to the other show, including Arthur and Morgan being half-siblings through their father (most versions have Igraine as the shared parent), Morgan having a dark-skinned maidservant, and Arthur being characterized as a Spoiled Brat before his Character Development. These aspects were unique to each show and are seldom (if ever) seen in other adaptations of Arthurian Legend.
- Girl of My Dreams: Arthur encounters Guinevere in a dream prior to meeting her.
- Go Seduce My Archnemesis: Morgan and Merlin.
- Heroic BSOD: Merlin has a big one after "Lady of the Lake"
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ector gladly gives his life in order to eliminate Lot.
- Sybil for Morgan and Leontes for Arthur in season finale.
- Humiliation Conga: Morgan gets one in the second episode from King Lott. After insulting him in public he hits her in the face, rips her dress open, threatens to rape her in front of everyone and ultimately tethers her to a pole at the top of a mountain. Being Morgan, she gets revenge.
- I Have No Daughter: Uther towards Morgan.
- I Have No Sister: Arthur to Morgan in season finale
- In the Blood: Despite not having been raised by him and not even knowing they were related for most of his life, Arthur managed to inherit Uther's inability to keep it in his pants. Morgan is as ruthless as her father, but she was at least reared (read: abused) by him before she went to the nunnery.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: Morgan in fourth episode. She shifts into Igraine and doesn't like it at all.
- I Owe You My Life: Arthur towards Leontes.
- Lady in Red/Woman in Black: Morgan. Her servants wear similar clothing.
- Large Ham: Joseph Alberic Iscariot Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes.
- Left Hanging: The show ends with Merlin leaving Camelot, the construction of the Round Table (with Arthur making a reference to what could have been Galahad and the Siege Perilous, stating that no one can sit in Leontes's seat save the one who is worthy of it) and Morgan visiting Arthur's bedchamber in Guinevere's form which presumably leads to Mordred's conception. Thanks to the show's cancellation, we'll never see how all of this pans out.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Igraine, while captured, managed to nearly kill Sybil, stabbed the guard who tried to rape her and escaped.
- Light Is Not Good: Sybil is a nun. Yet she has done some nasty things in past and present.
- Long Lost Sibling: Arthur to Morgan.
- Love Triangle: Arthur, Guinevere, and her betrothed, later husband Leontes. It's a surprising fresh twist considering Lancelot seems to be absent from the series.
- Lust: Uther's primary weakness. In this retelling of Camelot, they also gave it to Arthur.
- Mathematician's Answer:
Igraine: You haven't aged a single day. How is that possible?
Merlin: It is not possible.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: The Establishing Character Moment for Arthur is a scene of him screwing a nameless woman in a field just to drive this point home.
- The Mentor: Merlin to Arthur.
- Mood Whiplash
- Nipple and Dimed
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Nice job sending Morgan away from Uther so he wouldn't kill her, Igraine Didn't expect her to become obsessed with taking her righful place, did you?
- Older Than They Look: Merlin. Igraine notices that he hasn't aged a day in the twenty years since he took Arthur as a child.
- Only the Chosen May Wield: Like most medieval versions, the Sword in the Stone not the same as Excalibur. Called "the Sword of Mars" and lies atop a waterfall.
- Painful Transformation: Shown from the first episode, Morgan's use of magic (specifically shapeshifting) takes a toll on her body.
- Parental Favoritism: Kay believes that his parents favored his adoptive brother Arthur more than him.
- Perspective Flip: In this version, Arthur is the interloper in the love triangle since Guinevere is married to another.
- Pet the Dog: Morgan has shown that she feels a bit bad that Arthur didn't listen to her warning before his mother is killed, as it probably reminded her of her own mother's death.
- Playing with Fire\\An Ice Person: Merlin.
- The Plan: Morgan is particularly gifted with these.
- Precocious Crush: Morgan mentions to Merlin how she adored him as she was a child when he cured her father of an illness and even wanted to marry him.
- Pretty Boy: Arthur.
- Pride: Lot's primary weakness. It is also why Morgan prefers to rule alone.
- Psychic Nosebleed: Both Merlin and Morgan suffer from it as a side effect of their magic.
- Psycho Lesbian: One way of looking at Sybil.
- Race Lift: Morgan's maidservant Vivian is of African descent. She is the namesake (at least) of the woman who ensnared Merlin and banished him from the earthly realm, who wasn't. In some versions she's Morgan's agent and in others her role (if not also name) is taken by the Lady of the Lake.
- Really 700 Years Old:
- Merlin again. Arthur guesses that Merlin was the one who placed the Sword of Mars in the stone... despite that event having taken place several hundred if not thousand years before the Romans arrived in Britain, since the sword was already there when they showed up.
- The legend tells that the sword was placed there hundreds of years ago... but did it really exist for so long? Merlin could have just planted it in peoples' minds using magic and/or his own wiles. However, Igraine and Morgan definitely state that he hasn't aged for a long time.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Played with. Merlin's magic does work, but he implies that there is something that must be given back as well.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Arthur and Merlin. Arthur and Morgan.
- Rightful King Returns
- Scenery Porn: The show is shot in Ireland. The producers make sure you know it.
- Seer/Oracular Urchin: Merlin.
- Self-Made Orphan: Morgan kills Uther in the first episode through shapeshifting and poisoning. King Lot claims to have killed his own parents as well.
- Sex Equals Love: For Arthur anyway. Even the fact that it was All Just a Dream doesn't stop him.
- Sibling Rivalry
- Slipping a Mickey: Morgan did this to Merlin in third episode.
- Smug Snake: Merlin is a rare heroic example.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Besides the usual spelling choices with Arthurian works, this show's version of Morgan le Fay is called "Morgan Pendragon" (and like BBC's Merlin which has "Morgana Pendragon") unlike the traditional legends where she's not Uther Pendragon's daughter.
- Stillborn Franchise: In the season finale, the Round Table is established, and Mordred is conceived. Then the show was axed. The official reason was lead actors having prior commitments, but lower viewership and critical reception compared to contemporary shows like Game of Thrones didn't help.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: To show that Arthur's plight is Serious Business, Arthur's adoptive mother is murdered by King Lot
- Succession Crisis: The core and the main conflict of the series. Morgan is Uther's legitimate child by his first queen, but she is a woman and is therefore not a suitable heir to the throne. Arthur is revealed to be Morgan's half-brother and a potential heir to the throne, directly opposing her.
- Suspiciously Small Armies
- Taking The Arrow: Leontes for Arthur in season finale.
- Tampering with Food and Drink:
- Uther is poisoned following Morgan putting poison in his soup.
- Played with in the third episode. Merlin suspiciously eyes the quail soup brought during dinner, which is received by both Arthur and their host Morgan. Morgan tastes Arthur's soup to prove there's no poison and even dramatically pretends to gag.
- Team Mom: Igraine, unlike in the medieval texts where she disappears after Arthur's birth.
- Token Minority: Ulfius on Arthur's side and Vivian on Margan's.
- This Is Unforgivable!: Merlin about Redwald's death. If only he knew he was talking with his murderer...
- Unholy Matrimony: Morgan and King Lot.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Merlin and Igrain.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Lady Morgan has an unshakeable belief that Britain would be a better place with her as its ruler and she's willing to do anything to get the throne. Merlin's delusional faith in Camelot means that he is capable of anything when it comes to protecting and improving Arthur.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: Morgan can take the form of her younger self at will. Later, however...
- Weapon Twirling: So, so much.
- We Can Rule Together: Arthur offers this option to Morgan. Morgan has other ideas.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: At several points during the series, Morgan is visited by or has visions of a wolf. In one episode, Leontes also has a brief encounter with it. Its purpose is never explained.
- Your Cheating Heart: The first time Arthur is shown he is sleeping with Kay's (then) girlfriend. The time after that, he sleeps with Guinevere, Leontes' betrothed. So far, he has only slept with other men's women.
- Zen Survivor: Merlin appears to be this. There's something about his bloodstained past and apparent immortality.