YMMV / King Arthur

Arthurian legend

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In some stories, Gawain is Arthur's best knight and the ideal of chivalry. In others he's a flawed but principled hero. In other ones he's a boorish, impulsive Ax-Crazy Antihero. In others, he's the Table's Boisterous Bruiser, good-natured and hot-blooded, but also dim-witted, impetuous, and a frequent tool in conspirators' plans.
    • Kay's furious, hot-tempered personality is explained away in Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach as a function of his job as Arthur's bouncer. Tons of people showed up to the castle every day claiming to be worthy knights when they really weren't, and it was Kay's job to sort out the bad ones from the good. This explains his really jerkish behavior when Percival arrives at Camelot. If that's the case, he would also be a mean Brit long before Simon Cowell was born.
    • Is Mordred a rebellious and treacherous son or victim of fate?
    • Medieval romancers occasionally note that, though an ally to Arthur, Merlin is actually evil, treacherous and disloyal by nature. He does take several questionable actions over the course of the story.
    • The character that receives the most alternative character interpretation is Morgan Le Fay due to the inconsistent characterization of her. Is she genuinely driven by wrath towards Uther for having her father killed so that he could have her mother (which in turn begat Arthur)? Or is she a sociopath who simply uses this tragedy as a Freudian Excuse to cause havoc For the Evulz? Is she not evil and/or antagonistic in the first place as some works (e.g. Geoffrey of Monmouth's Vita Merlini) imply? And what is her reason for taking her mortally wounded half-brother, Arthur, to Avalon to be healed?
    • Guinevere is also often subject to different interpretations, with her portrayals ranging between a virtuous queen or a scheming adulteress. Another point of contention is her part in the love triangle: either her relationship with Arthur is merely an Arranged Marriage and she really loves Lancelot, or Arthur is her true love and her dalliance with Lancelot is either only a fling, brought on by manipulation from a third party (usually Morgause or Morgan), or cut out altogether to stick to the earliest versions where Lancelot didn't exist and Arthur/Guinevere was the established relationship.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: One would have better luck trying to find a penguin in the Sahara than finding any Arthurian lore from Ireland that depicts Arthur in any fashion other than a petty horse thief.
    • Also worth mentioning Scottish Arthurian literature that depicted Arthur and members of his court as tyrannical and lecherous villains, and portraying Mordred's power grab as a legitimate action to reclaim his birth right.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: What? There is no Lancelot in the original legends? Mordred is Arthur's nephew and there's practically no sister hanky panky going on? Arthur is a Badass Normal himself and his Power Trio includes Cai and a one-handed Bedwyr? The realm falls because of plain old duplicity and treachery and not some convoluted fate? And where the heck is Merlin?
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Half of the classic stories come from France of all places. May be in part because British culture ended up fleeing to Brittany among other places after the Anglo-Saxon conquest.
    • To a lesser extent, the Scots, who, while unrelated to Arthur directly (they're Irish and Pictish mostly, with a little bit of British down south) got on the bandwagon as well. They do, however, revise the stories from time to time to make it more favorable to their own national heroes (like King Lot).
    • And then there's the English, but then, it is pretty common for countries to celebrate their deep past while glossing over all the invasions and revolutions in between.
    • The Germans love Arthur too, particularly the Grail legends.
    • Also interesting to mention that there is also one work of Arthurian lore, Melekh Artus, written in Hebrew in 1279. The fact that Jews, who weren't exactly treated all that well during the times most Arthurian works were composed, also seemed to like the Arthurian legend (sans the grail stories) suggests that some ideals of the legends appealed to people outside its intended audience.
    • To say nothing about how enamored Americans are with Arthurian myth.
    • The Japanese are in love with Arthur...well, a version of Arthur, anyways.
  • Memetic Badass: Before Galahad, before Lancelot, before Gawain, Arthur was this to the mythos that now bears his name. The Arthurian Welsh Triads in particular tend to either have Arthur (referred to as the Red Ravager) as the third (and thus most powerful example) of each triad, or the fourth, generally establishing that whatever the other three guys were known for, Arthur was it Up to Eleven.
    • In fact, literally the earliest possible mention of Arthur accepted by most experts can be paraphrased as "This one guy is a Billy Mac Badass to end all other badasses, but he was not Arthur."
  • Memetic Mutation: The Black Knight. More significant as a character type than as an individual character. There was more than one but they're hardly ubiquitous in the medieval stories.
  • Recycled Script: The tale of Sir La Cote Male Taile is pretty much the exact same story as the tale of Sir Beaumains; a lowly servant becomes a knight and is given an insulting nickname by Sir Kay, they go on a quest with a damsel who mocks and degrades them endlessly, they wind up proving their worth and changing the damsel's view on them, and their true names are eventually revealed (Sir Beaumains = Sir Gareth and Sir La Cote Male Taile = Sir Breunor.) Both of these stories are told in Le Morte d'Arthur, so a sense of Deja Vu is inevitable upon reading them one after the other.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: The original information on Arthur focused on his ability to destroy Saxon armies whole-sale in twelve battles before dying in Pyrrhic Victory due to base treachery from his rival Mordred. Nowadays, the late romantic subplot of Lancelot dominates almost all retellings of the story, sometimes as the entire plot.
  • Signature Scene: It wouldn't be Arthurian legend without mention of Arthur pulling the sword out of the stone. The Battle of Camlann is another notable moment.
  • Values Dissonance: While par for the course with any old legend, there is one particular one that changes tied to the portrayals of quests and combat prowess: in the old Welsh legends, adventures and quests are group activities (Arthor himself is almost never without his Power Trio of himself, Cai, and Bedwyr) and there is nothing wrong with ganging up on badguys, while the later Romance takes almost exclusively focus on single warrior adventures that are stuffed to the gills with jousting and even the villains tend to follow Mook Chivalry.
  • Woolseyism: Originally spelled "Myrddin," but changed to "Merlin" by Geoffrey of Monmouth because Myrddin sounded/looked too much like the French "merde" and he wanted to avoid naming his prophetic wizard after the French word for poop. It's worth noting that his audience was French-speaking Normans. In Welsh the -dd would be pronounced as -th.

The film King Arthur

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Much of what Cerdic does is open to this. His intentions are hard to read, and he doles out kindness and cruelty in the same gruff and joyless tone of voice.
    • A good example when he protects a female prisoner from two of his own men, killing one of the men when he objects, on the argument that "we don't mix with these people". Then, when she starts to thank him, he turns around and kills her as well. Was he really motivated by a theory of racial purity? Or did he simply realize that he couldn't protect her for long?
  • Audience-Coloring Adaptation: This film, probably more than anything else, has helped popularize the idea that the "historical King Arthur" was a Roman dude named Lucius Artorius Castus (due to the major problems the Sarmatian theory has, it remains a fringe theory among scholars). After it was released, the concept started popping up in more media like the Total War series and Vinland Saga, though not necessarily mentioning Sarmatians explicitly. Before the film was released, Kinoko Nasu was aware of the "Roman Arthur" concept since the true name of his version of Arthur is "Artoria" (the feminine form of "Artorius"), and in supplementary materials he posits that the mythical Arthur was a Composite Character of Roman and British leaders. But such references were rare.
  • Awesome Music: "Budget Meeting" is far more awesome than anything with that name deserves to be.
  • Complete Monster: Cerdic, the warchief of the Saxons, is a brutal Blood Knight leading his forces across Britannia to destroy all in their paths. First seen amongst a burnt out village, Cerdic stops a Saxon from raping a woman simply because such a coupling would "water down" their Saxon blood and promptly kills the soldier when he protests before he orders the woman killed anyways. Cerdic promptly orders his men to rampage across Britain with explicit instructions to leave behind no man, woman or child who can even carry a sword. In the final battle with Arthur, Cerdic sends his men on a diversion that will get them killed and roars they are his men when his son Cynric protests the decision. During the battle, Cerdic viciously kills Tristan after making certain Arthur can see the fight, having decided earlier Arthur is the only man worth killing.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
  • Hilarious in Hindsight
  • Ho Yay: Arthur and Lancelot are very close and have several intimate scenes that give off this vibe. Some argue that they have more on-screen chemistry than either independently has with Guinevere.