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Legendary Characters


    Multiple Character Tropes 
  • Badass Family: Though who's related to whom varies wildly Depending on the Author.
  • Blood Knight: Knights were expected, as a matter of honour, to go adventuring on a regular basis, and are generally more than happy to do so. The ones who make an attempt at settling down (as Ywaine did) get badgered back into it pretty quickly.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Not always, but pretty frequently.
  • Depending on the Writer: Who appears,who has major and minor roles, who is related to whom, how characters act... and pretty much everything else. Often, characters can differ even in works by the same author to serve the plot.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Arthur and Guinevere are generally never given any biological children together (excluding Llacheu/Loholt/Borre, and possibly Amr) whilst Arthur and Morgause only need to copulate once to produce Mordred in tellings involving this Brother–Sister Incest.
  • Odd Name Out: King Arthur's nephews are Gawain, Gaheris, Gareth, Agravaine, and Mordred. Guess which ones are evil.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. There are several women named Elaine, and there are several different women who occassionally share the title "Lady of the Lake". There are also three Iseults—Tristram's lover (Iseult "the Fair"), her mother, and another princess who Tristram marries (Iseult "of the White Hands"), though at least this case is story relevant. There are also two Ectors, Arthur's foster-father Ector and Lancelot's half-brother Ector de Maris, and two men named Bors, King Bors and his son Bors of the Round Table.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: A great number of knights start out as royalty or nobility, others tend to get lands and castles pretty quickly. Many kings, including King Arthur himself, also are no strangers to combat.
  • Sir Not Appearing In This Book: Merlin's liege, Master Blaise, is mentioned once in passing in some legends, but never appears nor does anything to affect the plot.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Variant spellings of names abound. Some distinct characters may have even resulted from people interpreting spelling variations as different people (ex. Morgause and Morgan). A manuscript of a work may even have different spellings for a name, which can then differ with other manuscripts of that same work (ex. Guinevere).

King Arthur's Court

    King Arthur 
The central character of the myth, The Good King of Camelot, pupil of Merlin, husband of Guinevere, and founder of the Knights of the Round.

A wizard who serves as Arthur's adviser and mentor.

Queen Guinevere's Maying by John Collier, 1900

Arthur's wife and Queen of Camelot. Like many characters in the myths, her origin and characterization varies, and she vacillates from a traitorous monarch to a noble and virtuous lady Depending on the Writer. In popular reinterpretations of the myth, her tragic affair with Lancelot is one of many factors that ultimately lead to Camelot's downfall.

  • Damsel in Distress: One of the oldest motifs about her is that she's abducted by a jealous rival of Arthur. She's rescued by Arthur and his crew, or in later works Lancelot.
  • Evil Twin:
    • Well, identical half-sister. On the same night Leodegrance fathered Guinevere, he also begat another girl on the wife of his seneschal. This "False Guinevere" was born on the same day, looked exactly like her half-sister and even had the same name (Leodegrance had strong genes, but it looks like he wasn't very imaginative). She managed to trick Arthur into thinking she was the real deal by tricking him into drinking a love potion, and tried to have Guinevere mutilated and banished (with Lancelot's help, she escaped). "False Guinevere" kept the charade up for years until the Pope himself stepped in and demanded Arthur take the real Guinevere back. He refused, and the Pope interdicted Britain for twenty-one months. After ten, "False Guinevere" had a stroke, lost every sense but sight and hearing, then began to rot alive, until she finally confessed and perished.
    • A Welsh triad has left an early precursor version of the same archetype: apparently, the reason the Welsh Arthur and Mordred die at Camlann is because Gwenhwyfar and her sister Gwenhwyfache got into a fight over chestnuts. She was also seen as the wife of Mordred.
      • The blow Gwenhwyfach delivered to Gwenhwyfar resulted in Camlan and is one of the Three Unfortunate Blows (or hard slaps) in Welsh tradition. Striking a queen was one of the three ways of disgracing her.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: She varies between this and The High Queen in several iterations or even she is a hybrid of both.
  • Face–Heel Turn: One version of the story has her eagerly joining up with Mordred's rebellion, bearing him two children, and eventually getting executed by Lancelot.
  • Fisher Queen: In Idylls of the King, she spends most of the story as a seeming paragon of nobility and queenhood whom (alongside Arthur) knights use as a standard to live by. Her affair with Lancelot, who as the greatest knight should have been an icon of chivalry, gradually corrupts and spoils the morality of all Camelot, with some knights going mad or cynical upon learning of it and others using it as a justification for their own wrongdoings. By the time it's an Open Secret, well, let's just say there's more than one reason the final tourney before the end is known as The Tournament of the Dead Innocence.
  • Love Triangle: At the center of the most famous one of all time.
  • One True Love: Undoubtedly Arthur's, and most adaptations play him to be her's as well, with Lancelot usually being a fling. Most of the tellings of the Arthurian legends end with her entering such a deep depression after hearing of her husband's death, she flees Camelot and joins a convent and neither speaks nor smiles again for the rest of her life.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Apparently one of the most skilled players in the court.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Guenevere, Guenever, etc. The Welsh form is Gwenhwyfar. (A modern equivalent is Jennifer.) In just one manuscript of Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, Guinevere's name is spelled differently every time she's mentioned (Ganhumara, Ganhumera, Guenhumara, Guenhuuara). Other manuscripts have more variations.

A Brythonic poet in Roman Briton who became a major Welsh cultural hero. He appears from time to time in Arthurian stories as the King's personal Bard in Arthur's Court.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Taliesin can be translated as roughly 'radiant eyebrows'.
  • Canon Welding: His appearances as both a travelling companion to King Brân the Blessed in the Mabinogion as well as King Arthur's bard which taken at face value would make him over 500 years old.
  • Expy: Seems to be at least partially one to Fionn mac Cumhaill of Irish myth since their origin stories about accidently consuming magical food that gives them the powers of a seer has many parallels. Though given the age of the material, it's impossible to tell which one is derived from the other.
    • Some modern historical-style Arthurian works don't include Merlin because the original Welsh "Myrddin" was supposed to have lived long after Arthur. So they may use Taliesin as a substitute because he was associated with Arthur as early as the medieval tale of Culhwch and Olwen which is thought to preserve older traditions. Though Taliesin probably wasn't originally linked to the earliest Arthurian legend either. Those scholars who think Taliesin and Arthur were real people, or based on real people, place them at opposite ends of the 6th century.
  • Guile Hero: Tends to win by outsmarting his adversaries rather than through force.
  • Happily Adopted
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Merlin. To the point in Vita Merlini they decide to retire to the Caledonian Forest together to spend their remaining few years in peace.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: To his stepfather, who he has to save multiple times from his own idiocy.
  • Magic Music: He's a bard, what else.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: 'Tal-yes-seen' or 'Tally-essin'.
  • Seers: His primary ability thanks to inadvertently drinking the "Potion of Inspiration".
  • Pretty Boy: Said to be so beautiful that when he was born a vengeful Goddess that was trying to kill him moments before instantly forgave him after seeing his face.

Knights of the Round Table

A late addition to the Arthurian mythos, but nonetheless one of its most iconic characters. Lancelot du Lac is usually portrayed as one of the Round Table's greatest warriors and King Arthur's steadfast brother-in-arms. Lancelot is a notable knight errant and accomplishes many feats, but his affair with Queen Guinevere ultimately proves tragic.

  • Accidental Pornomancer: Aside from his affair with Guinevere, he was raped twice. Once by Lady Elaine and again by Brisen, Lady Elane's servant.
  • The Ace: Usually the best warrior in the story, with his affair with Guinevere preventing him from being the "perfect" knight. Includes Master Swordsman, Master Lancer, Master Horseman, etc...
  • Aesop Amnesia: After the Grail Quest, he forgets everything he learned about purity and all that and starts sleeping with Guinevere again.
  • The Atoner: Most of his quest for the Holy Grail is him atoning for his sins.
  • Badass in Distress: For all his prowess, it isn’t rare for him to get locked up (or just lost) somewhere and Bors/Gawain/whoever else is available to have to go looking for him.
  • The Berserker: Something Monty Python and the Holy Grail definitely got right is that Lancelot tended to leave high body counts behind him, often of relatively innocent people. In the Vulgate especially he tends to have bouts of Ax-Crazy terrifying battle rage that are almost always extremely destructive to everything around him.
  • Breakout Character: Pretty much one of the biggest pre-modern examples of this, and the definitive example of it in the mythos. The first record of him as a Round Table knight is Chrétien de Troyes listing him as the third best knight, and while he got his own story in The Knight of The Cart, he was merely just one hero among others Chrétien (maybe) introduced into the mythos. Then the Vulgate cycle happened. To this day, he remains the most well-known Arthurian knight.
  • Chick Magnet: Being The Ace and famously handsome, he attracts the attention of many women, including Guinevere, Elaine, and Morgan le Fay.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: In the Vulgate and works written around that time, he has moments that at times really make you wonder what goes on in his head; he has a habit of suddenly going AWOL from Camelot, a tendency to go insane often, becomes convinced that a tuft of Guinevere’s hair he randomly found lying around has all manner of healing properties, falls asleep in other knights’ pavilions repeatedly, becomes completely unable to fight at a tournament because of Guinevere’s beauty and literally falls off his horse, almost dies due to reopening injuries despite warnings because he really didn’t want to miss a tournament, and thinks that “He was a wimp anyway” is a good thing to say to a woman whose husband he just killed... Among many other things. Like with Percival below, his strange behavior may possibly be at least partially because of his unique upbringing, though it’s never stated to be so.
  • Cool Sword: For a fighter of his caliber, he doesn't really have a consistent or prominent one in the medieval texts. In the Old French Vulgate Cycle, he used one called Secace for the battle at Saxon Rock, but he borrowed it from Arthur (and Excalibur is stated to be Gawain's). In some manuscripts the name is spelled Seure or even Sequence. In a much later Middle English work, Sir Beves of Hamtoun (or Sir Bevis of Hampton) - not even really Arthurian, mind - a sword named Aroundight is mentioned in passing and said to be Lancelot's. For some reason this is the sword some prominent modern versions have gone with, spelled Arondight or Alondite. There is no trace of such a name in older sources, and it seems to have been made up to rhyme with "might". In some modern novels, his sword is named Joyeuse or Joyeaux, to go with his castle Joyous Gard, but this seems to be borrowed from Charlemagne of all people. In a 19th-century poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Aroundight is mentioned together with Joyeuse, "Excalibar", "Durindale" (Durendal, The Song of Roland) and Colada (The Song of El Cid), and this probably gave the name some staying power.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: More than once, Lancelot, when out wandering, would wander into other knights' pavilions and make himself at home. When confronted by the understandably upset owners, well, he's Lancelot and they're generally nameless.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • In the early German romance Lanzelet, Lancelot rescues Queen Guinever from a villainous king who captured her, but without falling in love with her. Instead he falls in love with and marries a woman named Iblis (who hardly ever appears in later romances), inherits her kingdom, and in the end settles down with her as The Good King, lives out his life Happily Married with her, his children, and even grandchildren, and dies peacefully on the same days as his wife.
    • For a while even after he became more common in the mythos, Lancelot languished for some time as a B-lister at most, nowhere near as major a character as later legends would solidify him as; e.g. in one continuation of Perceval he only ranks ninth out of the 15 knights Arthur brings with him to Chastel Orguellous, and in the Gerbert version of Perceval he’s just one knight out of many Tristan subjects to The Worf Effect.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Possibly one of Arthur's rivals for the throne, Galehaut.
  • Fatal Flaw: His illicit affair with Guinevere proves to be the undoing of the Round Table itself.
    • His battle rage as well, which leads to him killing even many of his fellow Round Table knights.
  • Good Is Not Nice: A good guy overall; it’s just that you should probably run the hell away if you see any sign of his battle rage triggering.
  • Hunk: Usually depicted this way, except in The Once and Future King where he is called "The Ill-Made Knight" because he is ugly, though everyone still likes him anyway because he makes up for it by being a genuine great guy and fighter.
  • Ignored Epiphany: In The Vulgate Cycle, he resolves to give up on his adulterous affair with Guinevere after failing in the Grail Quest... a resolution that only lasts until he sees her again.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: One version of the story has him executing Guinevere after she betrays Arthur and joins Mordred in his bid to rule England.
    • In Mallory, he’s prophesied to one day kill his best friend. While indirect, he indeed kills Gawain by inflicting a critical wound on him.
  • Number Two: Sometimes depicted like this, but in the tales he usually isn't because his knight-errantry gets in the way.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Son of King Ban of Benwick, with King Lancelot his maternal grandfather.
  • Sailor Earth: It's generally agreed that he wasn't introduced into the myths until the twelfth century.
    • His earliest appearances are in the works of Chrétien de Troyes. He first appears in Erec and Enide as the third-greatest knight of Arthur, after Gawain and the hero Erec, but nothing else is said of him. He next appears in Cliges, where he loses to the hero Cliges in a joust. He gets star billing in Lancelot, Knight of the Cart, which establishes him as the best knight and his Courtly Love for Guinevere, starting him on his road to Breakout Character. Lancelot's first major appearance is also notable for being unfinished by Chretien, with another writer taking his place. Some think this is because his patron, one of Eleanor of Aquitaine's daughters, may have ordered him to add the infamous affair with Guinevere, which he may not have been fully onboard with. In other words, it's possible the entire crux of a huge portion of the Arthurian Romances was the result of a lady wanting to turn an adventure story into the medieval equivalent of a Harlequin Romance novel.
    • Older scholarship has linked him to the Welsh Arthurian figure of Llwch Lleawg in The Spoils of Annwn who helps Arthur seize a magic cauldron from the Underworld. This figure may be the same as Llenlleawg Gwyddel ("Llenlleawg the Gael" or "Llenlleawg the Irishman") from Culhwch and Olwen, who helps seize a magic cauldron from a giant, and/or Llwch Llawwynnauc ("Llwch of the Striking Hand") also mentioned in Culhwch and Olwen. In turn, the latter is believed to be a Welsh version of the Irish god Lugh, and his name adapted from "Lugh Lonnbemnech" ("Lugh of the Fierce Blows"). In turn, Lugh may also be manifested in Culhwch and Olwen as Llenlleawg the Irishman, and yet elsewhere as Lleu Llaw Gyffes ("Lleu of the Skillful Hand") in the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion. Due to the confusing array of names, some scholars and fiction writers have sometimes mashed them together, like "Llwch Llenlleawg". It has been suggested that some or all of these figures are related to Lancelot because their names kind of look alike, and more pertinently "llwch" is a Welsh word for "lake" while Lancelot's full name is Lancelot du Lac or Lancelot of the Lake. The drawback is that Lancelot and all of these other figures have little in common, so treating him as a Canon Foreigner is the most favored theory nowadays.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: In the Vulgate and Mallory, where he seems incapable of being attracted to anyone not Guinevere. In the Vulgate especially he’s rather aloof to other women as a result.
  • Sixth Ranger: He doesn't show up at the Round Table until long after it's assembled.
  • Spell My Name with an "S":: Sometimes spelled "Launcelot".

The son of King Lot of Orkney and Arthur's half-sister Morgause, making him King Arthur's nephew and older brother to Agravaine, Gaheris, and Gareth.
  • The Ace: Earlier stories have him as Arthur's best warrior, and in one case, it was him that succeeded in the Grail quest. Adds a new light to his rivalry with Lancelot, doesn't it?
  • Adaptational Wimp: As a general rule of thumb, the more of a jerk he is in a given legend, the more nerfed he is.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: His Welsh counterpart's name Gwalchmai (Gwalchmei) is usually interpreted as "Hawk of May" or "Hawk of the Plain". Gwalchmai’s brother was Gwalhafed, and that name was interpreted to mean “Hawk of Summer.”
  • The Big Guy: Arguably a Trope Codifier.
  • Big Little Brother: Not him of course, but for whatever reason when appearances are described, he seems to have a record of being the big brother to these, as almost all of his siblings (or at least the four most commonly used) other than him have been described as taller than the others, or at least taller than him, at least once. While in certain stories the tallest among them could be Mordred, Agravain, or Gareth, it’s rarely him.
  • Brave Scot: Usually associated with Lothian and/or the Orkney islands, both part of Scotland.
  • Cain and Abel: In stories where Gawain has more presence, he becomes the Abel to Mordred's Cain; one telling of the legend carries the trope out to it's ultimate fulfillment, with Mordred killing Gawain in a final duel before Arthur and Mordred's date with destiny.
  • The Charmer: Said to have a “golden tongue” in the Vulgate, though he tends to be consistently charming in romances written around the time. In one episode in Escanor, his solution to a witch convinced by vitriolic townspeople to attack him was even basically to win her over by being nice, which is enough to reduce her into a pages-long apology over the misunderstanding.
  • Chick Magnet: He’s described as the protector of damsels after all, and his appeal to women seems to be one of the few traits almost all romances could agree on. In both Mallory's take and in Gawain and the Green Knight, he is glomped on by a female paramour with him doing nothing to attract their attention. With the lady of the Green Knight, he refutes her advances, because it wouldn't be honorable. In Parzival, a little girl even gets a Precocious Crush on him.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: He's definitely willing to reciprocate other advances though. It seems pretty apparent that the whole protector of damsels thing includes pleasing them as well. The abovementioned lady of the Green Knight even references him having this reputation. And he's even willing to honor deals with less beautiful women like Ragnell, which ends up with her becoming smoking hot and him being a proto-feminist.
  • Clear My Name: One of his adventures in Parzival has him doing this.
  • Cool Sword: In some versions of the story, Arthur lends him Excalibur for a while, in others he uses a sword named Galuth or Galatine.
  • Depending on the Writer: While literally every Arthurian character is and has been subject to this a lot, Gawain’s case may be especially egregious; he has been all over the map from The Ace In Shining Armor in earlier depictions, to a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Jerkass in the Post-Vulgate who even Agravaine of all people calls out at one point, to a straight-up bad guy in the Prose Tristan, and everywhere in between. Mallory seemingly attempted to stitch together as much of him into one character as was possible, with really mixed results, resulting in either, depending on who you ask, a deeply complex character or a head-scratchingly bipolar one. Bizarrely, Malory is also suspected to have written The Marriage of Gawain, where he had a massive Character Rerailment and is written like Vulgate or pre-Vulgate Gawain.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In Geoffrey’s account, he’s actually Mordred’s little brother, not older. In fact, he’s merely a 12-year-old boy. Eventually, it became accepted that he’s always the oldest sibling, even if among the younger ones the order or even who they are can change around at times.
  • Family Honor: Gawain's main motivation, at least in Le Morte d'Arthur.
  • God in Human Form: Some scholars speculate that his strength waxing and waning with the sun may indicate the remnants of a connection with a pre-Christian Celtic solar deity.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • With Percival (who, in some stories, is his cousin). They swear eternal friendship after Gawain sees Percival soundly beat Kay. As initially at least, Percival and Gawain were supposed to be Foils to each other, it’s also an Odd Friendship.
    • He’s also often set up as the best of friends with Lancelot; this also serves to give the writers tons of cruel Dramatic Irony to play with by making their later conflict that much more tragic.
    • He is also often close to Ywain.
  • Indy Ploy: One episode in Chrétien de Troyes's Perceval and Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival has him holding off an angry horde of townspeople while using a chess board as a shield. Of course, the chess pieces are described as being ten times as large as normal ones, and are also used as impromptu missile weapons at one point, so (assuming a board of equivalent size) that's actually not too impractical.
  • Interspecies Romance: Has a one-night stand with the fairy Blanchemal, leading to the birth of Sir Gingalain, aka La Bel Inconnu.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: He flies into a rage after Lancelot kills Gareth and Gaheris (and Agravaine, in the Vulgate), becoming another character pushing Camelot to its ruin in his Unstoppable Rage.
  • Love at First Sight: Some versions of the Pelleas and Ettard story have him falling for Ettarde at first sight, thus giving him a rationale for betraying Pelleas by sleeping with her.
  • The Mentor: In stories before the Post-Vulgate, he tended to be cast as a sort of Cool Big Bro, an experienced, respected older knight to show the new knight of the day the ropes and for them to aspire to be.
  • Nom de Mom: His Welsh counterpart Gwalchmai ap Gwyar, "son of Gwyar". Gwyar appears to be his mother instead of father, as was usual, since she appears as Arthur's sister in genealogies. Some Welsh renditions of later Arthurian accounts put her name in place of Anna (better known as Morgause) and Gwalchmai instead of Gawain. Nothing is known of Gwalchmai's father, outside those aforementioned renditions that copy-paste and translate Gawain's father Lot as Lleu.
  • The Oath-Breaker: In the Pelleas and Ettard story, he swears to Sir Pelleas that he'll help him win over the uninterested Lady Ettard. Sleeping with her and then walking away from the whole situation does not, in fact, help.
  • Only Sane Man: In earlier portrayals in romances, he sometimes served as a voice of reason, like being the only one in the entire court (sans Lancelot, still captured by Maleagant), including Arthur himself, who didn’t refuse to let (a yet unnamed) Bors sit next to him or otherwise hassle the poor guy for coming to Camelot stuck in a cart, pointing out how Lancelot also had to ride in a cart and how it wasn’t his fault for being stuck with such terrible transportation, or generally serving as a saner, calmer foil to Lancelot and the responsible big brother to his siblings, especially Agravain - though it also wasn’t uncommon for him to be portrayed as kind of an oaf either.
  • The Power of the Sun: Some versions of the legends have him gain strength as the sun rises in the sky and lose it when it sets, whether as a function of his magic sword, of his being an Orkney, a magic baptism, or him being born at noon.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Alternatively spelled Gawaine, Gawan, Gauvain, Gavan, Walwain, Walgan... etc.
  • Their First Time: Some versions of the Pelleas and Ettard story have him and Ettarde losing their virginity to each other.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • He and his brothers really don’t have a good relationship with Pellinore’s family (except Percival, but he becomes friends with him before his parentage is revealed), because Pellinore killed Lot. Though whether it’s simple dislike or he’s completely onboard with the blood feud thing is heavily Depending on the Writer.
    • Also the cause of his feud with Lancelot that brings down the Round Table. His brothers Gaheris and Gareth are accidentally killed by Lancelot while unarmed. Notably when Lancelot earlier killed Agravaine Gawain wasn't so unhappy as he felt Agravaine brought this on himself through his spite, it's the deaths of his innocent brothers which spurs him into anger. Though in the Vulgate, Agravaine is killed alongside Gaheriet and Guerrehes, and Gawain is indeed avenging all three of them.

Gawain's brother and another of King Arthur's nephews. Unlike his heroic brothers, Agravaine is more outwardly malicious, and is usually portrayed as one of the knights who betrays Arthur in the end.
  • Adaptational Heroism: First Knight depicts him as a hero. On the other hand...
  • Adaptational Villainy: It seems he only starts being depicted a villain in the Vulgate and later tales. However, this is barely shown in practice, as before the Vulgate he’s merely namedropped for the most part, with his only big appearance being him offering himself in Gawain’s stead to be prosecuted in Perceval, and even there he’s already called “Agravaine the Proud”, implying that he’s a guy with some flaws and readers are expected to take that as a given.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Gaheris probably is more familiar with this than he’d like to be. He generally has a bad habit of holding grudges against better knights. In the Vulgate he also resents on Gawain’s behalf of being reminded that Lancelot is indeed stronger than Gawain, despite the fact that Gawain himself embraces the fact way more gracefully.
  • Jerkass: Nasty like Mordred but much more apparently so. He’s often described as cruel, overly proud and heartless, and shows himself to be somewhat of a misogynist. He’s the brains behind the operation to expose Guinevere and Lancelot's affair.
    • Some other highlights from various legends include saying he’d have sex - most likely forcefully - with a woman if he was locked in a room alone with her when the subject came up in conversation (which Gawain promptly beats up and chews him out for), attempting to basically rape a woman, only stopping when he gets grossed out by the scars on her legs and complains about them, leading to a sequence of events in which he gets cursed with even grosser injuries that can only be cured by the blood of the best and second best knight in the land so Gawain has to save him (and note, even Mordred, a little boy at this point, is portrayed sympathetically, crying when he realizes that it’s Gawain who came to save them because he thinks Gawain might die), his constant attempts to sabotage Gaheris, thinking that the death of his own mother whom he loved was a net positive because at least it means Gaheris gets kicked out, killing Dinadan despite the fact that Dinadan saved his and Mordred’s life before, and generally being a braggart.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: He is not a nice guy, but he does make a valid point that a Knight of the Round Table should not be having an affair with the king's wife.
  • Little Brother Instinct: In the Prose Lancelot, much like Gaheris, he’s extremely protective of Gawain and insists that Gawain is still the strongest of the Round Table, which leads to him getting into a fight with Bors when Bors rubs it in.
  • Pretty Boy: Apparently his face is one of his only good features.
  • The Red Baron: "Agravaine the Arrogant/Proud", or “Agravaine of the Hard Hands”.
  • Sibling Rivalry: In many stories, he has an irrational, often one-sided hatred for Gaheris.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Aggravain, Agrafrayn, Agravan, Agravano, Agreuein, Egrefayn, Engrevain(s), Gefferen, Geffreyn, Griffayn.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Had a reputation for malice and enviousness even before teaming up with Mordred. Still a respected member of the Table, who did the odd good deed or two.


  • Big Little Brother: According to both Mallory and Tennyson, he’s really tall.
  • Bishōnen: He was mockingly nicknamed "Beaumains" or "Fair Hands" by Sir Kay when he first came to Camelot disguised as a kitchen boy. He is often described as fair.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: He's Gawain's brother.
  • Nice Guy: The nicest and most innocent of the Orkney brothers, as even Gawain could be vengeful. Took no part in Lamorak's murder.

  • Adaptational Villainy: It isn’t uncommon for his worst traits to be Flanderized in modern works focusing on the Orkney siblings. Some, like the That Wicked Day series, even go so far as portray him as on par with Agravain. Though considering his actions in some legends, it may or may not be warranted.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Seems to be his stock in trade. Killed a knight for saying Lancelot was better than Gawaine, beheaded his mother Morgause for the horrible crime of sleeping with the son of the guy who killed his father (Lamorak) and later teamed up with his brothers to brutally murder said son. It goes both ways, though. He once arranged for a peasant to be given a fine horse after accidentally getting his donkey killed. Also see "Moral Dissonance" below.
  • Distinctive Appearances: Apparently his right arm was noticeably longer than his left.
  • Easily Forgiven: Apart from what seems to have been a temporary banishment, Arthur and the other Orkney brothers seem to be pretty accepting of his murder of Morgause, at least in Malory. As mentioned below, some other stories have him hiding the truth.
  • Frameup: Some versions of the story have him pinning Morgause's death on Lamorak.
  • Hypocrite: Rebuked Gawaine after he accidentally beheaded a lady who'd leapt in front of his stroke to protect her husband. Later quite deliberately beheaded his own mother for an even worse reason.
  • Moral Dissonance: Once came upon four pavilions. After helping himself to the food in one of them, he (chastely) bedded down in the fourth with a sleeping lady, not noticing her husband on the other side. Upon waking to see the furious husband yanking his wife out of bed by the hair, he lopped the guy's head off. Not too horrible so far, right? Well, then he demanded she love no one else but him and forced her to travel with him, killing three of her brothers and severely wounding the fourth when they tried to rescue her. Eventually she managed to get away from him by joining a convent.
  • Self-Made Orphan: In a rage he kills Morgause, his mother, when he finds her sleeping with Lamorak.
  • The Quiet One: According to the Vulgate, he’s the least well-spoken of his brothers and a bit socially awkward (assuming that Gaheriet is supposed to be him and not Gareth).

  • The Ace: Was called "The Best Knight in the World." Not to mention he was the original hero of the grail quest before Galahad was created and he was reduced to a power trio.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: In many versions of his origin story, he basically beat the Red Knight (who may have killed his father) on accident, showing he’s a natural at the job. And “Percival of Gaul” is basically Achievements in Ignorance: The Poem.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In one story, he gets asked by a maiden to hunt a white stag. He gets distracted and takes ages to get it, and has to apologize to her for it.
  • Badass Family: In one version of his story his father Gahmuret was the finest knight of his time and his half brother by him Feirefiz was a knight as noble and skilled as Percival, the above "best knight in the world". Many other versions of his stories have his brothers and fathers as figures of note as well.
  • Bishounen: He is the youngest of the knights, and according to some accounts the most feminine looking, as he was raised by his mother and never knew of men.
  • Breakout Character: Probably the only knight who rivals Lancelot or Galahad in terms of name recognition. If a parody knight’s name isn’t a Sir Tropes A Lot, he most likely has a name that is a pun on Percival.
  • Chaste Hero: In later versions.
  • Celibate Hero: In some versions, and in most versions of the Grail Quest his hardest test is resisting a beautiful enchantress.
  • Cool Sword: In one set of stories gets a sword that can cut through anything and will never break... except in the toughest battle of his life.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: As a guest of the Fisher King, he saw a strange procession of people carrying magnificent objects, including a beautiful grail and a bleeding lance. Although dying of curiosity, he had always been told by his mother that it was rude to speak too much and so kept his mouth shut. Shortly after his return to Camelot, a loathly lady showed up at court and called him out, saying that if he'd only asked whom the grail served and why the lance bled, the Fisher King would have been cured of his wounds. In the Welsh version, Peredur son of Efrog, it’s his cousin’s decapitated head carried out on a dish instead of the Grail.
  • David vs. Goliath: Pretty much literally in some versions. When he first comes to Camelot, he's just a young guy armed with some javelins or darts and no armor to speak of and takes down a huge and powerful knight that the knights of Camelot were afraid to fight.
  • Determinator: In all versions is this.
  • The Ditz: Is often portrayed as extremely naive, to say the least. “Percival of Gaul” is even basically a story about him unknowingly getting an invincibility ring from a maiden, and proceeding to bumble around doing unbelievable feats without batting an eye. In another, the Lemony Narrator cracks a remark about him thinking deeply about something “for once in his life”. In several stories, he forgets the name of his own sister he was raised with (and apparently frustrates her so much that in one story she causes King Arthur to straight-up cry from the sheer volume of frustration she unloaded in front of him), and sometimes he forgets his own name.
  • Good Is Dumb: Well, Good Is Badly-Educated, anyway. His mother deliberately raised him in isolation without teaching him about knighthood or civilization, in the hopes that he wouldn't turn out like his dead father and brothers. It didn't take.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: In some stories with Gawain, who is his cousin. In one legend he even chooses to share a curse Gawain brought upon himself; his willingness to sacrifice saves Gawain's life by splitting the curse in half and they each only get badly wounded.
  • Idiot Hero: In most stories, he's this in his younger days. Sometimes he grows out of it and into Messianic Archetype, sometimes he doesn't.
  • It's Personal: Cai/Kay kicks a dwarf and his she-dwarfin in Peredur’s presence. There were 2 dwarves at Arthur’s court for a whole year, receiving Arthur’s hospitality, yet they never spoke to anyone. Then Peredur shows up to Arthur’s court for the first time, wanting to be a knight, and the dwarves immediately greet and praise Peredur. Cai is angered that the dwarves have been mute for a year in (their host) Arthur’s presence, yet Peredur is who they shower with praise, so he strikes the dwarf and kicks the she-dwarf. Peredur leaves Arthur’s court, determined to avenge the insult Cai did to the dwarves. Peredur makes a name for himself, and tells all his defeated foes to go to Arthur’s court and tell of how he won’t return until he gets revenge on Cai. So the whole court yells at Cai for driving away such a fine lad. Peredur refuses to return unless he avenges that insult, which he does by breaking Cai’s arm and collarbone.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: A medieval version.
  • Love at First Sight: In Peredur son of Efrog, the Welsh version of Perceval, he certainly falls in love with women frequently. When he met Angharad Law Eurog, when she rejects him, he swears not to speak a single word to a Christian ever again until she says that he is the man she loves best. He kept it up so long he was called the Mute Knight. Eventually she spoke to him again, so he never broke his promise.
  • Master Swordsman: In some stories he's the best swordsman among the knights.
  • No Social Skills: After the death of his father and brothers, Percival's mother takes him to the Northern forests (either the North of Britain or North of Wales) where she raises him ignorant to the ways of men until the age of fifteen.
  • Oop North: In the Welsh tradition, Peredur son of Efrog comes from the North of Britain (the Old North), or at least his father did. His father Efrog was the founder of York.
  • Power Trio: With Galahad and Bors.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He's generally depicted as being of noble birth, with some authors making him another of King Pellinore's many, many children.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Alternatively spelled Perceval, Percivale, Parzival, or Parsifal.
    • His name becomes Peredur in a tale collected in the Welsh Mabinogion that corresponds to the French Perceval by Chretien de Troyes, but it's debated which is derivative of the other. Peredur is attested elsewhere as a name while Chretien invented Perceval, so scholars disagree about which author did the renaming.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Took several between his first visit to Camelot and his unhorsing of Kay. The Welsh version has him thrust his spear under Cai’s jawbone, and hurl him far off into the distance, with his fall breaking his collarbone. Even Arthur temporarily feared for Cai’s health.
  • Weirdness Censor: Peredur doesn’t find anything strange enough to ask about it, even when a decapitated head is carried out on a salver, along with a bleeding lance. Though it’s less that he doesn’t notice and more that he’s trying not to ask questions. That decapitated head turns out to be his cousin’s.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Usually.

  • Composite Character: There was a Geraint son of Erbin mentioned in the early tales. Then, in the Mabinogion, he is used in one of the three romances. The romances usually parallel a French romance. Perceval and Peredur, Yvain and Owain. But instead of “Erec and Enide,” we get “Geraint and Enid.” Originally Erec was the son of King Lac, and most likely a Breton, and his adventures likely took place in Brittany. Geraint is the son of Erbin, he is Cornish, and his adventures take place in the southwestern part of Britain (Cornwall, Domnonia, Somerset, etc.) Erec holds land in and around Brittany, Geraint holds land in and around Cornwall.
    • Geraint himself is a combination of several people: Gerontius (5th century British general), Geraint (6th century), Geruntius king of Domnonia/Devon (8th century), the Cornish saint Gerent, and Gerennius king of Cornwall.
  • Courtly Love: While most romances involve extramarital relationships, Geraint/Erec marries Enid(e) early on.
  • Decomposite Character: While Geraint and Erec developed into separate characters, they easily could’ve been the same character once. Geraint was known in Brittany as Guerec, the leader that gave his name to Bro Weroc (territory around Vannes). The French “Erec” likely came from the Breton “Guerec,” and both are associated with Vannes.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: After Geraint believes that his wife Enid is in love with another man, he and Enid go out on a quest into parts unknown. After a series of mishaps, the couple eventually reconciled and is reunited with Arthur’s court (Arthur and his men went searching for him) and also leads to his encounter with Owain.

The illegitimate son of Lancelot and Elaine of Corbenic, who was disguised as Guinevere. Prophesied to surpass his father in greatness, Galahad is a peerless warrior. He is best known for being one of the Grail Knights alongside Percival and Bors and the purest of all of them.

  • The Ace: Even better than his dad Lancelot.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: He encounters Joseph of Arimathea while in Sarras, and feels such religious ecstasy that he asks to die on the spot. Angels then proceed to yank him up into Heaven without any actual dying involved.
  • Chaste Hero: Well, what do you expect from the purest of Arthur's knights? It’s also highly implied that he’s incapable of feeling sexual desire at all.
    • It's also implied that this is what makes him a better knight than his father - he has all of Lancelot's virtues, and all of his skills in equal measure, but without the Fatal Flaw that made Lancelot unworthy of the Grail: his illicit affair with Guinevere. Without that holding him back, Galahad can truly be considered the greatest knight in the world.
  • Child by Rape: Lancelot was tricked into sleeping with Galahad's mother via magical disguise.
  • The Chosen One: For the Grail quest in the later versions of them. In the earlier versions that he didn’t appear in, usually Perceval was the one that found the Grail, although Diu Crône has Gawain find the Grail.
  • Cool Sword: First wielded Sir Balin's Sword and later King David's sword, both of which which only he could draw safely. The former wounded anyone else who tried, the latter invited actual divine retribution.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: His specialty is handing out these.
  • Heroic Bastard: Despite his illegitimacy, he is even more pure and heroic than his father Lancelot.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: So pure that he was the only knight in the world worthy of the Holy Grail, and later basically just walks into Heaven.
  • Name's the Same: In-universe. "Galahad" was Lancelot's birth name. Another knight’s name, Galehaut or Gallehault, is often mistaken for a version of Galahad because Gallehault is much more obscure.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Lancelot is technically a king, and Galahad later briefly rules the mystical realm of Sarras alongside Percival and Bors.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": In Old French works his name is Galaad. This is thought to derive from Gilead in the Bible since it was spelled that way in the Latin Vulgate.

  • Spell My Name with an "S": His name is spelled Bors in some sources and Bohort in others.
  • Undead Author: He serves to avert this problem. After the Grail quest is complete, Galahad ascended to heaven and Percival went off to be a monk (or dies shortly after him). Bors was the only one to return to Arthur's court to tell the tale.

  • Adaptational Villainy: He may be a snarky, hotheaded jerk most of the time, but he would never betray Arthur or do something legitimately heinous outside of mere bullying... Except in Perlesvaus, and just in Perlesvaus, where he straight-up murders Loholt.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Kay is one of the few characters for whom it can definitely be said to have gone through consistent Character Derailment, with his ability in combat being the most hard hit from the start. In early Welsh tales he’s The Ace of Arthur’s men and a Magic Knight, but he was seemingly severely nerfed out of the blue once Chrétien got a hold of him, as for whatever reason he became cemented as the designated Foil for the new knight of the day. Unfortunately for him all subsequent stories since, with few exceptions, kept this, making him essentially an early example of Memetic Loser.
  • The Big Guy: Known as "Kay the tall" and "the long man" in the Welsh legends, where he also has the power to grow to giant size.
  • Birds of a Feather: In The Romance of Escanor, a woman goes on a massive rant and chews Dinadan out mercilessly in response to his apathy to chivalric ideals, causing a baffled Dinadan to remark that with such a sharp tongue she and Kay would be made for each other. Unbeknownst to him but as known to the reader, said woman is Princess Andrivete, Kay’s love interest and future wife.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Kay is almost always some sort of hotheaded braggart, whether portrayed as an upstanding guy or a boorish jerk; a good exception being John Boorman's Excalibur. But he’s still called gwyn (fair/beloved), at least in Welsh.
  • Butt-Monkey: In later versions where he merely exists to get beaten up.
  • Catchphrase: In early Welsh tales, “By the hand of my friend,” with singular hand referencing the fact that Bedwyr (Bedivere) is one-handed.
  • Cool Sword: In the Welsh tales, no one can heal wounds dealt by Kay's sword, either because the sword is magic or the patient is too dead.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Once Chrétien described him as “sharp-tongued”, the characterization pretty much stuck. Though he can be anywhere between The Gadfly and non-villainous Smug Snake Depending on the Writer.
  • Demoted to Extra: His role in later stories is severely reduced, though unlike many early characters he at least is present in some way most of the time due to him being cemented as Arthur’s stepbrother and seneschal.
  • Determinator: In “How Culhwch Won Olwen”, after a year of Arthur’s messengers searching for any details of Olwen and returning with none, Cai tells Culhwch that he and Arthur will search for Olwen, that neither Culhwch nor any of Arthur’s knights had ever met, until Culhwch admits she doesn’t exist or Olwen is found and united with Culhwch.
    • But later Cai leaves Arthur’s group to find Olwen after Arthur sings a mocking song about him.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In the earliest Welsh tales and up until Geoffrey, he was consistently The Ace of the pack, with a myriad of magical abilities, his Bash Brother relationship with Bedwyr being a prominent feature, and possibly even having had his own set of tales starring him that has been lost to time. He is always described in glowing terms and hyped up to the an ultra-badass, and he fittingly goes out in an epic Heroic Sacrifice avenging Bedwyr either against Rome or against Mordred’s army.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: In the earliest tales, with Bedwyr, as well as Arthur. Later, as the whole idea of them being step-brothers was cemented, he became mainly associated with Arthur, their close relationship remaining even after Arthur finds out his true heritage, with Kay being said to be one of the most loyal members of the Court, invariably loyal and stalwart even as he became more boorish as the stories developed (with the odd exception of Perlesvaus).
  • Family Theme Naming: Possibly. In medieval Welsh his name is Cai or Cei, which is thought to derive from the Roman "Caius" or "Gaius", but also suggested to mean "way" or "path". His father Ector is called Cynyr in Welsh, which is thought to mean "way" or "path" also. This is supported by other theme-named patronymics in medieval Welsh literature and cognates cai and conair in medieval Irish. If Cai son of Cynyr means something like "Path son of Way", it's similar to cases like Drem son of Dremhidydd "Sight son of Vision" and Nerth son of Cadarn "Strength son of Strong" from the story Culhwch and Olwen.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He’s consistently portrayed as hotheaded and brash, with almost all stories after Chrétien upping his Jerkassery and boorishness. Still, he’s also consistently loyal to Arthur, and is never really a bad guy (with the exception of Perlesvaus).
    • In one particularly vivid incident (from German tale The Crown) showing he does indeed care, a knight leaves a package which he says contains Gawain’s head as part of some sick prank. Everyone immediately thinks that it’s a prank... Except for Kay, who freaks out, unwraps it to see that indeed there’s not only a human head in there, but one that looks an awful lot like Gawain, and starts bawling and crying, holding the head to his chest, and actually faints on the spot. Even after he woke up, he apparently spent a good while cursing God for taking such a good man away from them and going up to every knight he can find out of anger that they were still skeptical and were seemingly not too ruffled about the apparent death of one of their most respected colleagues. Turns out it was indeed an Identical Stranger. While we don’t see what happens after this, one can only imagine Gawain was pretty touched when he heard of this upon coming back.
    • His softer side is on full display in the Romance of Escanor, where he gets A Day in the Limelight and falls in love with Princess Andrivete of Northumbria and helps her take her kingdom back, for once becoming the romantic lead.
    • Even in one of his more infamous moments, where he makes Gareth a kitchen boy and spends the next few months or so bullying him, he’s actually proud of the young knight when he gets to see in action how good he is.
  • The Lancer: Not actually Lancelot, despite the name. In many ways, Kay is a heroic Foil to Arthur, especially in portrayals where Arthur’s more fiery traits are toned down.
  • Magic Knight: In his earliest incarnation from the Welsh tales.
  • The Nicknamer: An example being Sir Gareth, who he dubs "Beaumains" after the former refuses to reveal his name.
  • Number Two: Together with Bedwyr, since they're roughly equal in precedence, though his name always comes first—until they're Demoted to Extra and supplanted by Lancelot. Though in-universe he remain’s Arthur’s right hand in court affairs.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten:
    • When Percival first showed up to Camelot, a woman who had previously sworn never to laugh unless she saw the man who would be the best knight in the world. When Percival arrives, she laughs. Kay is so insulted that he slaps her. Throughout the rest of the story, Percival's defeated foes keep coming back to Camelot to tell of how Percival was still trying to avenge her honor (basically to rub in how much of a douche Kay was).
    • In the Welsh version, Peredur son of Efrog, Cai strikes a dwarf and then kicks a she-dwarf because they had pretended to be mute for the entire year they’d spent at the court, only to immediately talk to and greet and praise Peredur. Peredur defeats many other knights, and when they beg for mercy, he tells them to return to Arthur’s court to tell Arthur of his great service he has been doing as a vassal of Arthur. Arthur and his whole court, having heard of Peredur’s noble feats, berate Cai for driving away such a good lad as Peredur; Peredur refused to set foot in Arthur’s court unless he confronted “the tall man” (Cai/Kay) and avenged the insult to the dwarves.
  • Playing with Fire: In the Welsh tales Kay can generate so much body heat that he can keep dry in rain, which provides kindling to Arthur’s men when they are at their coldest. He can also weather fire well.
  • Power Trio: With Arthur and Bedwyr in early versions.
  • Sizeshifter: One of his peculiar magic qualities in “How Culhwch Won Olwen.”
  • Snark Knight: In more modern works especially his snarkiness has led to him being played as a quite literal example of this and an Only Sane Man despite his boorishness in modern works (cf. The Idylls of the Queen).
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Cai or Cei in Welsh.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Kay can hold his breath underwater for 9 days and nights in the Welsh material. Even in later material, in The Knight of the Cart, in a rare badass moment, he fails to cross the sword bridge but instead of giving up he swims the entire way over, and is still able to climb up the steep cliff face of the ravine after doing so. Unfortunately, he still gets caught by Maleagant, waiting for him at the other side, for his efforts.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Gwalchmai, Owain, Arthur, and eventually Arthur’s whole court scold him for his behavior in “Peredur son of Efrog.” Gwenhywfar casually says that Cai should be hanged for insulting such a man as Owain in “The Lady of the Well.” Peredur strongly despises Cai to the point where he refuses to set foot in Arthur’s court ever again until he has confronted him and avenged Cai’s insult to the dwarves, and Cai took such offense to the satirical englyn Arthur sang in “How Culhwch Won Olwen” that he refuses to have anything to do with Arthur. But Arthur and, if he appears, Bedwyr, still deeply care for Cai, and it’s assumed that the other knights do as well.
    • In later tales, this became increasingly common. While even Chrétien implied that he is widely respected as seneschal in The Knight of The Cart, by his other works almost no one except for Arthur really seems to like him, though they rarely actually hate him either. This, like a lot of Chrétien‘s characterization of him, stuck.
  • Tsundere: See: his loyalty to his step-brother, the above episode involving Gawain’s apparent decapitated head, and his attitude towards Gareth. In his more likable portrayals, he’s often a platonic version of this of the Harsh variety.
  • The Worf Effect: He seems to have a habit of getting the crap beat out of him to show how much better the new knight du jour is, although some theorise that this is a case of Badass Decay, and that his original role was to be the one who tested new knights' combat skills (which would imply a high degree of skill on his part, since he'd need to not kill or maim his opponent while avoiding the same fate at their hands). The author of Parzival proposes this is the case, and throws Kay a bone, saying that Kay has a very important job and using that as a chance to grumble about his own lord’s lack of quality control, wishing they had a Kay too.

  • Bash Brothers: Often paired with Kay in the oldest Welsh material.
  • Battle Butler: Arthur's cup-bearer in later versions. Sometimes has a brother, Lucan, who is Arthur's designated butler.
  • Composite Character/Expy: In several modern Arthurian retellings favoring the older traditions as opposed to Malory et al, Lancelot does not appear. Instead, Bedivere is often made Guinevere's lover. It helps that many of Lancelot's usual traits applied to Bedivere in earlier stories also. This was first done in Rosemary Sutcliff's Sword at Sunset, and a number of other works have followed suit, such as Mary Stewart's Merlin trilogy, Gillian Bradshaw's In Winter's Shadow, Joan Wolf's The Road to Avalon and Philip Reeve's Here Lies Arthur.
    • Bedivere later took the role of Sir Griflet (ultimately based on the Welsh Gilfaethwy) of throwing Arthur’s sword back.
  • Demoted to Extra: Just like Kay, his role was much reduced as the mythos grew and developed, though while Kay usually sticks around as Arthur’s brother, Bedivere is even more likely to be an afterthought at most. The Vulgate outright forgets he exists, in favor of his brother, Lucan, and his cousin, Griflet. Though in more modern literature he has been attracting more attention, often as a narrator, in visual media his only significant appearances continue to be Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Fate/Grand Order.
  • Handicapped Badass: In the oldest Welsh material, he is one-handed. He was also a Lightning Bruiser with a four pronged spear.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: with Kay in the earliest material.
  • Hunk: In Welsh material, said to be one of the most handsome men in Britain, next to Arthur himself and only one other man.
  • Number Two: Together with Kay, since they're roughly equal in precedence, though his name always comes second—until they're both Demoted to Extra and supplanted by Lancelot.
  • Power Trio: With Arthur and Kay in early versions.
  • Sole Survivor: Thanks to Malory, he may be best known today as the one knight of the Round Table who survives Arthur's last battle, and who throws Excalibur back into a lake, even though he did not survive that long in the earlier versions (the Welsh tradition has different survivors, though it doesn't mention his death but rather his grave; Geoffrey has him and Kay die fighting the Romans). Sometimes it’s a former squire named Sir Griflet (or Girflet) that throws back the sword. Bedivere's brother Lucan also lives long enough to help carry the mortally wounded Arthur, but the effort opens his own wounds and he dies first. Modern writers tend to keep Bedivere as the last survivor especially if he's also one of Arthur's oldest companions, for Dramatic Irony.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Bedevere, Bedwyr in Welsh.

  • Adaptational Heroism: In Boerce’s History of Scotland, he’s in fact very much the legitimate heir, and the final conflict is very much Arthur’s fault for deciding to Kick the Dog for little reason. Considering that Boerce was a Scottish patriot, it’s pretty certain that this was because he was biased towards Lot and his family line.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: To Arthur, in the versions where he's his son and not just his nephew. One of the alternate names for the trope is Arthur And Mordred.
  • Awful Truth: In some stories, this becomes his Start of Darkness; the truth about his conception and future were enough to prompt a hard Face–Heel Turn.
  • Bastard Bastard: Following his Face–Heel Turn, whatever noble qualities he once had flew straight out the window.
  • Birds of a Feather: Probably the logic behind why out of the three non-Guinevere love interests he is associated with (one canonical in The Romance of Escanor, two Epileptic Trees), two, the girl from Escanor and Gwenhwyfach, are unpleasant people to say the least. The one exception is a saint, Cwyllog, who is somewhat more popular online at least than the other options probably because she’s the exception.
  • Cain and Abel: Some stories have him being rescued from the May Day massacre by Sir Sagramore's family and raised for several years as his stepbrother. That doesn't stop him from killing Sagramore at Camlann.
  • The Charmer: One early record from before he became widely known as a bad guy mentions that he was such a nice guy no one could say no to him, with some other Welsh sources also being consistent in describing him as a pretty cool guy, even as late as the list of the 24 Knights of the Round Table. An Italian romance depicts him as charming as well, though in this case it serves very useful in attracting followers for his rebellion.
  • Child by Rape: Some versions of the tale have Morgause using magic to get Arthur to sleep with her, particularly modern versions. Originally it seems to have been a perfectly consensual relationship, albeit one where neither was aware of their relation. However, in the Vulgate Estoire del Saint Grail, Arthur was tricked into believing that he was sleeping with the “beautiful woman from Ireland,” but was actually sleeping with Morgause unbeknownst to him. Arthur was grief stricken since they both knew that they were related to each other at the time. This seemingly influenced Mordred’s conception from the Vulgate Merlin, but with Morgause being whitewashed and Arthur wrongfully made into the scapegoat and subsequently blackened and tainted while at the same time not being condemned for it, probably because it was Morgause who tricked Arthur in their source, Vulgate Estoire del Saint Grail. Though, Modred’s father was originally King Lot.
  • Cool Sword: In one version swiped Clarent, Arthur's ceremonial sword, and eventually killed him with it.
  • Evil Nephew: In many later versions of the story, first from Geoffrey, Arthur is his uncle. Averted in some early versions that don't mention any antagonism at all and have Mordred as Arthur's heir and foster-son (according to Boerce, it’s even actually Arthur who cheats Mordred out of the throne, declaring the old succession agreement void because King Lot signed it, and King Lot is dead).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: His probable first appearance is in the Annals of Wales which say he and Arthur died in the same battle, with no context on whether they were on the same side or not. A later chronicle describes him glowingly as extremely polite and overall a Nice Guy in ways that would be unthinkable later even at his most sympathetic, and even outside of the legends themselves, he’s referenced as a brave, good knight, with at least two writers comparing the bravery and honor of their lord to him (while it is possible that two of these were talking about another Medraut, one of the latter two says his lord had “The strength of Arthur and the noble nature of Medraut”, making it pretty clear that he is indeed talking about this one). All evidence points to him originally being a perfectly respected, good warrior, and that somewhere, for unknown reasons, he became established as the evil knight who destroys the kingdom, a reputation which became cemented in the mythos ever since.
    • In the earlier literary versions, he is not born of incest and is indeed just Arthur's legitamate and loyal nephew; born of Arthur's half sister and her husband King Lot. Lacking children of his own, Arthur took him in as his heir. Some modern adaptations indeed use this interpretation and it's one of the few that might not use the Evil Nephew trope.
    • In Geoffrey’s account, he’s described as Gawain’s older brother, with Gawain being a 12-year-old boy. This occasionally popped up again in later works like Boerce’s History of Scotland, but in most legend and especially nowadays, Gawain is always the oldest, and Mordred is usually the youngest.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In the Prose Lancelot, it’s shown he seemed quite promising during his first two years of knighthood, earning praise from Lancelot himself. He was once popular with the ladies, at least in the Welsh material, at one time, as well.
  • Fake King: Yes and no. Arthur leaves him in charge of the kingdom when he goes to fight Lancelot in France, and he does officially have himself declared king, but he isn't the rightful ruler. In some versions (often Scottish) Mordred is viewed as a legitimate ruler, or having the right to be, in the versions where Mordred/Medrawd is the son of Arthur’s sister and her husband, and thus born legitimate. Arthur himself falls into some sketchy territory about his own legitimacy (concerning his birth.)
  • Fallen Hero: Both in the literal and meta sense. He's often depicted as at least competent and loyal to Arthur until he finds out who his father is. However, the original legends take this even further, implying he's Arthur's peer and ally, biologically his nephew and legally his foster son. In these earliest accounts, the original reason for their inevitable confrontation can be supposedly tied into a spat between Gwenhwyfar and her sister Gwenhwyfach or is never explained, if it happened at all.
  • Freudian Excuse: In modern works, it’s common for his villainy to be explained by Morgause (or Morgan, if conflated with Morgause) having been a controlling Abusive Parent who raised him as a Tyke Bomb for her own gain. However, in legend he is either never raised by his parents or his upbringing is never elaborated on, and in one of the few times it is given some attention, in the Vulgate, Morgause seems to actually be a really loving mother. Though the May Day Massacre may be used instead, or the Awful Truth about his birth and destiny breaks him, and in Malory it’s implied that his behavior worsens after suffering a particularly bad blow to the head.
  • Genocide Backfire: He was one of the children in the May Day massacre, where King Arthur had all the children born on May Day sent out on a shoddily-built boat to die after receiving a prophecy that a child born on May Day would kill him. Mordred, of course, survived, grew up hating Arthur (or came to hate him after learning of this) and eventually killed him.
  • Hero Killer: Killed Lamorak, Dinadan, Sagramore, Ywain, and of course King Arthur himself. In some legends, he may kill Gawain.
  • Heroic BSoD: Being told that you're the bastard son of the king and his half-sister, prophesied to destroy the kingdom and do more harm in your lifetime than all your ancestors did good kind of does that to you. He came out of it...uh, pretty badly, actually.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: With Guinevere after he takes over the kingdom. Averted in versions of the story where she joins his rebellion and hooks up with him willingly, sometimes even bearing him two sons. Other versions it's averted in a different way, with her trying to seduce him and he rejects her outright, and in still others he makes it clear that he doesn't actually want her- he just wants Arthur to think she's in further danger.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In one version of the story where Guinevere joins his rebellion, Lancelot kills her and locks Mordred in her tomb. He eventually eats her out of desperation, and then ultimately starves to death anyway.
  • Inbred and Evil: Some later versions of the story, and the most often referenced in modern adaptations for Dramatic Irony, have him as Arthur's illegitimate son with either Morgan or Morgause, both of whom were Arthur's half-sisters.
  • Lawful Neutral: Some of the less villainous versions of Mordred have his antagonism towards Arthur and Lancelot partially born out of them constantly bending the rules at their whims. Mordred, believing in rule of law, took issue with this and it motivated or justified his power grab. This also made him quite popular with the lesser nobles and commoners for the belief even a king was beholden to law.
  • Mutual Kill: He and Arthur in the versions they kill each other.
  • Pet the Dog: Sometimes, he’s treated no different from any other knight; in the Vulgate, he takes part in a prank Dinadan sets up against King Mark (and this is after The Reveal), and in the tale of La Cote De Male, Brunor runs into him and they quest together as any two knights would, even telling Maledisant off for being unnecessarily harsh towards Brunor. In the Romance of Escanor, while he’s apparently courting an unpleasant woman, he also once again seems to be on friendly terms with Dinadan. The Alliterate Morte Arthur also portrays him relatively sympathetically, with him also coming across as a Sensitive Guy to Arthur’s warlike Manly Man, and he straight-up cries after killing Gawain, honoring him as a good knight like no other and a brother.
  • Shoot the Messenger: In the Prose Lancelot, he murdered the prophetic priest who revealed the truth about his life to him. Lancelot was pissed...because the priest was going to reveal his future next.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Modred, Medraut, Medrawd, Medrod, etc. The form "Mordred" was probably irresistible to writers because it's similar to Latin mors or French mort, meaning Death.
  • Token Evil Teammate: In spite of the severe downturn his personality took, he remained a member of the Round Table in good standing. But he was said to have been kind and chivalrous back then.
  • Tragic Villain: Particularly in modern interpretations, though even in Malory he notably gets a lot worse after suffering a major head injury (at Lancelot's hands) on the tourney field (which is consistent with real life stories of drastic personality changes after a brain injury). It's not as if he asked Morgause and Arthur to sleep together, and in many pre-modern versions there are definite suicidal overtones to his actions once he knows the Awful Truth. The problem is, he wants everyone else to go down with him.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: In the Vulgate, he first gets a speaking role as child, where he’s a completely normal, even rather adorable innocent little boy who cries at the prospect of Gawain possibly dying from draining his blood, and with Agravain next to him he especially looks like a saint in comparison. Even as an adult, he’s shown to be a standup guy. ...And then he’s told about his destiny.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: According to Mallory, when he took over Britain, he was popular with the people for bringing peace while Arthur's reign was more or less constant battles.

  • Green-Eyed Monster: Most of the reason he alternates between seeing Tristram as a brother-in-arms and wanting to gut him is because they are both in love with La Beale Isoud. Er, Isolde? Yseult? Whatever.
  • Kick the Dog: On the receiving end of one. After she convinces Tristram to spare his life following one of their clashes, Isolde makes Palomides deliver a message to Guinevere stating that there were but four true lovers within the land: Guinevere and Lancelot and Tristram and Isolde. Ouch.
  • The Quest: Took over Pellinore's hunt of the Questing Beast.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Son of the Saracen king Esclabor.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Palamedes.
  • Token Minority: Not the only ex-Saracen knight (his brothers Segwarides and Safir joined, too, and Sir Morien joined later), but certainly the most prominent by far.
  • Tsundere: A friendly (usually) version toward Tristram.

  • Bros Before Hoes: Forgives Tristram, saying that he "will never hate a noble knight for a light lady". The fact that they were trapped on the dangerous Isle of Servage at the time probably helped.
  • Composite Character: There was a Segwarides mentioned before this one, but as there's nothing differentiating them, most people treat them as the same character.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Son of the Saracen king Esclabor, also becomes Lord of the Isle of Servage after Tristram beats Nabon le Noire.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Segurades.



King Arthur's Fool.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the film King Arthur, and how! Also counts as Ascended Extra.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: For all his flaws, he did manage to track down and kill the guy who kidnapped his wife, so there may be something there.
    • Even before that, Dagonet won his wife's hand in a jousting tournament.
  • The Jester: That's his job. Sometimes (such as in Tennyson's Idylls) he even shows the insight one might expect from one of these characters.
  • Joke Character: King Arthur's jester, knighted as a gag. Participates in a lot of pranks based around his lack of competence.
  • Karma Houdini: False Guinevere puts him in charge of the Royal Household, which he proceeds to bankruptnote , and he kills the Royal Treasurer Fole for taking him to task over itnote . No one seems to care.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: In Idylls, he's aware of just how corrupt Camelot and the Round Table have become, and says so.
  • Lovable Coward: So hilarious and good-natured that the other knights don't care how often he runs from battles.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Tried for this, constantly boasting and doing things like battering his shield so it looked like he'd been in a nasty fight, but no one was fooled.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Dagenet, Daguenes, Daguenet, Daguenez li Coars, Danguenes de Carlion.
  • Undying Loyalty: Is often depicted as one of the most loyal to King Arthur. Though there are other depictions where he changes loyalty to Merlin.
  • Water Torture: Was a victim of this by the hands of an unrecognizable Sir Tristan who had gone mad. Tristan dunked his head in a well 4-5 times.

  • Badass Family: Son of Sir Breunor Senior, "The Good Knight Without Fear", brother to Sir Breunor le Noire aka "La Cote Mal Taile" and Sir Daniel.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Funny as he can be, and as much as he hates getting into fights, he's as capable a fighter as the other knights, and acquits himself well in tournaments.
  • Brutal Honesty: When traveling with a mysterious knight, he mocks the knight's incompetence. Upon learning said knight is King Mark traveling incognito, Dinadan lets loose with both barrels, calling him a cowardly murderer, and crappy king, to boot.
  • Celibate Hero:
"'Madam,' said Dinadan, 'I marvel of Sir Tristram and other lovers, what aileth them to be so mad and so sotted upon women.'
"'Why,' said La Belle Isoud, 'are ye a knight and be no lover?'
"'Nay,' said Sir Dinadan, 'for the joy of love is too short, and the sorrow thereof, and what cometh thereof, dureth over long.'
  • The Charmer: Easily able to win people over and cheer them up. Just about every knight likes him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Depicted as among the wittiest of Arthur's knights in general, with modern adaptations tending to emphasize this particular trope.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mordred and Agravaine killed him in part because of resentment over the incident below and "because of Sir Lamorak"—given his personality, it's likely he made some remark regarding their treacherous assassination of said knight.
  • The Gadfly: Occasionally took on this role in order to encourage his fellow knights.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Could occasionally be this, as when he teamed up with Tristan and spent most of the time complaining about all the fights Tristram got him into, calling Tristram and Lancelot nuts for being Blood Knights, and cursing the day he'd entered Tristram's company.
  • Lampshade Hanging: May be a subtle way of writers indicating that they’re indeed aware of how irrational stuff that happens in chivalric romances can be.
  • Love Hurts: Why he doesn't get involved with it. "The Secret of Sir Dinadan" surmises that there may be a good reason he feels this way.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Saves Mordred and Agravaine from Breuse Sans Pitie, then gets murdered by them during the Grail Quest.
  • Only Sane Man: Stories tend to have him pointing out the flaws in society, mentioning how stupid is it to get into all these unnecessary battles over honor, or courtly love, or just because. Even in stories where he doesn't, he still prefers talking things out to dueling. Not that he can't throw down if he needs to.
  • Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: One of the few if not only knights to not only reject romance for secular reasons, but declare it foolish and not worth his time.
  • The Smart Guy: Possessed a great deal of common sense, and is seemingly one of the few knights who can identify other knights by their faces as well as their coats of arms. Given the sheer number of duels caused by mistaken identities in these stories, this makes him pretty useful to have around.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Not him, but after rescuing Mordred and Agravaine from Breuse Sans Pitie, Dalan, the guy they'd been trying to rescue claims that Dinadan killed his father, so he attacks him. Dinadan knocks Dalan off his horse and breaks his neck. Also, Mordred and Agravaine eventually kill him.
  • Warrior Poet: Wrote a mocking ballad about King Mark that was apparently downright savage. If Tristram's reaction to reading it (Roughly: "Ha! Oh, that Dinadan!") is any indication, he did this sort of thing a lot.
  • Weapon of Choice: He seems to well-known in-universe for his skill with a spear, as Lancelot punningly notes.
    Lancelot: "God forbid that ever we meet but if it be at a dish of meat".
  • Witty Banter: Many of his conversations consist of this.


A son of King Pellinore and one of the brothers of the hero Percival.
  • Back for the Dead: Spent several years ruling alongside Morien's mother before returning to Arthur's court— just in time to be killed by Lancelot during his rescue of Guinevere.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Serves as this for Percival in some tales.
  • The Promise: While seeking Lancelot, he hooks up with a Moorish princess, and swears to come back and marry her when his mission is over. Fourteen years later, his son Morien shows up to hold him to it.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Son of Pellinore, also becomes king of an Arabian land after fulfilling The Promise.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Agglovale, Agloval, Agravale, Engloval(e).
  • Wife-Basher Basher: One work of Arthurian lore mentions that Aglovale fought and humbled a misogynistic knight for abusing his lover.

    Alexander the Orphan 
Appears in Palamedes, Prose Tristan, Prophecies of Merlin, and Le Morte d'Arthur.
  • Celibate Hero: He rejected Morgan Le Fay's advances. Later subverted when he married Alice the Fair Pilgrim.
  • Killed Off for Real: The details vary as to whether he was killed by a minor knight or an assassin hired by King Mark, but regardless he didn't live to either go on the Grail quest nor the end of Arthur's reign.
  • Revenge: Against Mark for killing Prince Bodwyne, his father and Mark's younger brother.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The blood-soaked shirt his father wore when he was killed.

While there are a few mentions of him in early Celtic Arthurian material, he is best defined by his tragic romance with the lady Iseult — which might have started as a separate story that later authors incorporated into the wider Arthurian mythos.

  • Disproportionate Retribution: Morgan le Fay, seeking to expose Guinevere and Lancelot's affair sent a magical drinking horn to King Arthur's court that no lady who was cuckolding her husband could drink from without spilling. Lamorak, out of resentment from the Don't You Dare Pity Me! incident below, intercepted the messenger and had it sent to King Mark's court instead. (How'd he know what it did? Never mind that.) Isoud and Tristram's affair was very nearly exposed as a result, and if Tristram wasn't invested in their rivalry before...
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: After the second time Lamorak unseated thirty knights in a row, King Mark ordered Tristram to fight him. Seeing how exhausted he was, Tristram refused to take the fight beyond unseating Lamorak from his horse. This led Lamorak to feel slighted, and touched off a rivalry between them.
  • Feuding Families: With the Orkney brothers (see Pellinore). Banging their mom didn't especially help things.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Lancelot and Palomides.
  • Hot-Blooded: Famed for his fiery temper (once got into a fight over whether Morgause or Guinevere was prettier) and his great strength (unseated thirty knights in a row in jousts on two occasions).
  • In the Back: Died from being stabbed by Mordred, sometimes after a three-hour battle with the other Orkney brothers (save Gareth).
  • Last-Second Chance: After being on the run for a while from the Orkneys, he shows up at a tournament and meets Arthur in secret. Arthur, who had previously allowed the Orkneys to hunt Lamorak, has had time to repent of this hasty decision and offers him forgiveness and protection if he'd only accept a truce with the Orkneys. Lamorak doesn't trust them to obey Arthur, and besides, he wants to avenge Morgause and his father, so he declines. Bad idea.
  • May–December Romance: With Morgause. Briefly.
  • Misplaced Retribution:
    • He tells Gaheris that it wasn't Pellinore who killed Lot, but Balin Le Savage. It's unclear whether this is true, but Gaheris doesn't believe him.
    • The Orkney brothers killed him to avenge Morgause. Well, except for Gareth, who was too kind-hearted to be vengeful, and Gaheris, who knew perfectly well that Lamorak wasn't responsible, but attacked him anyway. Averted in stories where Gaheris owns up right away and they just kill Lamorak because of the feud.
  • One-Man Army: After the circumstances of his death became known, people note that of course the Orkneys ambushed him, since he could easily have killed them all otherwise. It was still a three hour fight, which only ended because Mordred backstabbed him.
  • Out of Focus: Referred to as King Arthur's third-best knight (after Lancelot and Tristan), but barely shows up in the stories, and is almost unknown outside them.
  • Revenge Before Reason: As mentioned above, he refused an opportunity to resolve his feud with the Orkneys peacefully.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Son of King Pellinore.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gives Gaheris an extremely well-deserved one after he cuts off his mother's head.
  • You Killed My Father: To the Orkneys.

  • Child by Rape: Pellinore begot him on Vayshoure "half by force", which is a bit ambiguous.
  • Chocolate Baby: Tall and handsome unlike his thirteen(!) half-brothers and alleged father, Aries.
  • Heroic Bastard: Begotten by King Pellinore on the wife of a cowherd before her marriage.
  • The Quiet One: "[...] For I have seen him proved, but he saith little and he doth much more".
  • Retcon: Originally the son of King Aries, later retconned into the illegitimate son of Pellinore. Poor Aries got turned into a cowherd!
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: (Illegitimate) son of Pellinore, or legitimate son of King Aries.

  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Red shield, red armor, red weapons, and red harness.
  • Easily Forgiven: Sure, he murdered forty knights, hanging them from a tree so they wouldn't be allowed to die in honorable combat, but he was doing it to fulfill his promise to a lady, so it's fine.
  • The Red Baron: "The Red Knight of the Red Launds".
  • Super Strength: Like Gawain, he grows more powerful as the day passes, until at noon he has the strength of seven men. Unlike Gawain, it's not mentioned if this is tied to the sun itself.

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: His skin is described as so black ("blacker than soot or pitch") that his teeth stand out sharply in contrast.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: After he brings Aglovale back to his kingdom, a group of nobles refuse them entry, seeking to keep his heritage for themselves. Morien proceeds to slaughter all fifteen of them, and the other nobles fall into line.
  • Badass Boast: "For what do ye take me? Am I a lesser or a weaker man than either of ye that Sir Gawain must needs ride with me? I will not have it so. There is no knight so bold but I dare well withstand him. I know well what is unfitting. Now say whither ye will betake ye, and send me what road ye will; I will dare the venture, be it never so perilous. By my knighthood, and by all who follow Christendom, I shall adventure alone, and take that which may chance."
  • The Big Guy: Taller than any other knight, and described as practically superhuman in strength and fighting skill.
  • But Not Too Black: Inverted. In spite of having a white father and hailing from the Middle East rather than Darkest Africa, Morien is as black as pitch. No, literally black as pitch.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Black Moorish armor and black shield.
  • Cool Horse: The text points this out several times. Coming from Moorish lands, it's not surprising.
  • Disappeared Dad: Though in Aglovale's defense, he probably didn't know his lover was pregnant.
  • Expy: Of Feirefiz from Parzival, though a rather loose one.
  • Heroic Bastard: Son of Aglovale and a Moorish princess (later queen).
  • Kid Hero: His adventure takes place when he's about fourteen.
  • One-Man Army: Takes on a small army of armed, armored fighters to rescue Gawain, killing them by twos and threes and never getting a scratch.
  • Positive Discrimination: The whole story is basically the "Morien is Better Than Everyone Show".
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Although he and his mother were disinherited upon his birth, until Aglovale marries her.
  • Scary Black Man: One boatman practically freezes up and wets his pants upon seeing Morien. Sir Gariet basically says: "Hey, moron, do your job or he's not going to be the one who kills you."
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Moriaen, Moriaan.
  • Teens Are Short: Subverted. At fourteen, he's a good six inches taller than any of Arthur's knights.

  • Almighty Janitor: Averted. In spite of the name, as the Royal Butler, he was in charge of the Royal Household and Court, and was thus equal in rank to Kay the Seneschal, not a mere servant.
  • Battle Butler: Though his duties kept him from adventuring as much as others.
  • Cassandra Truth: Warns Arthur that personally attacking Mordred after the Battle of Camlann was over would be pointless (he'd already "won" the battle) and dangerous (at least one prophetic dream had said so), but Arthur decides to go for it anyway. End result: One dead traitor, one dying king, and eventually one dead Lucan.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Picking up the mortally-wounded Arthur opens up one of his wounds, and his guts spill out, killing him instantly.

  • The Berserker: Slipped into a mad frenzy when he was fighting.
  • Cain and Abel: Some stories have him raised for several years alongside Mordred as a stepbrother. Mordred still kills him at Camlann.
  • Composite Character: A 16th century Portuguese novel Triunfos de Sagramor combines him with the legendary king Constantine III. "Sagramore Constantino" is Arthur's son-in-law and heir, who forms a new Round Table.
  • Fighting Your Friend: A fragmentary story finds him forced into a fight with Gawain.
  • Hot-Blooded: One of his epithets is "The Impetuous" or "The Hotheaded".
  • Ill Boy: Suffered from nasty epileptic fits, and his berserker rages left him exhausted, suffering from migraines, and starving. Sir Kay, nice guy that he is, nicknamed him "Morte Jeune" ("Dead youth") as a result.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Son of the King of Hungary and the daughter of the Eastern Roman Emperor, heir to the throne of Constantinople and when his father dies, his mother remarries another king.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Sagremor, Saigremor.
  • The Worf Effect: Like Sir Kay, he had a reputation as a fierce warrior, but tended to get kicked around to show off other peoples' skills.

  • Black-and-White Insanity: In Idylls of the King, he learns that Ettard, whom he loved, had slept with Gawain, whom he'd trusted, and laments that he'd held Ettard to be as pure as Guinevere. Percivale lets him in on the world's worst-kept secret, and learning that the Knights of the Round table were not perfect examples of chivalry and that his idealized Queen Guinevere was an adulteress slides the cheese right off Pelleas's cracker.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In Idylls, he starts calling himself the Red Knight and dressing appropriately after he snaps.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: After Gawain leads her to believe he killed Pelleas, Ettard says it's a shame because he was a good knight...and that she had hated him more than anyone because he wouldn't leave her alone.
  • Death by Despair: After discovering that Gawain had slept with Ettard in spite of agreeing to be a go-between between them, he went home, fell into bed and said that he refused to get out until he died, telling his servants to give his heart in between two silver dishes to Ettard. Since he showed up later, he was probably just being a Drama Queen.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Well, he saw himself this way, and some versions of the story do have Ettard eventually reciprocating his advances.
  • Driven to Madness: In Tennyson's Idylls of the King he's a pure-hearted but naive knight whose mistreatment at Ettard's hands and discovery of Queen Guinevere's adultery on the same day drive him insane.
  • Faking the Dead: Gawain helped him cook up a plan where Gawain would claim to have killed him and take his armor to Ettard,'s not really clear. Presumably, he thought she'd realize her true feelings for him if she thought he was dead. The plan fell apart when a)she was thrilled to see him out of her life and b) Gawain decided he wanted a piece of that sweet, sweet Ettard action for himself, and got it.
  • Face–Heel Turn In Idylls he goes from the most innocent knight left at the Round Table to the leader of a debauched criminal gang meant as a direct insult to it.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: A very weird, um, inversion? Every single day, Ettard would send ten knights to try and drive him away. Pelleas would thrash them, then force them to "capture" him and take him into Ettard's presence, just long enough for her to stick him in a cell overnight and kick him out in the morning.
  • Legion of Doom: In Idylls, after his Face–Heel Turn, he starts his own mocking version of the Round Table with criminals and harlots, noting that at least the members his court have no pretense as to their true natures.
  • One-Man Army: Beat sixty knights in a tournament in order to give Ettard the jousting crown as a gesture of love (she laughed in his face and told him to step off), and regularly beat up ten knights single-handedly.
  • Second Love: With Nimue, and Nimue's second love after Merlin.
  • Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: To Ettard, who wasn't remotely interested.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Malory mentions that there were much more attractive women at the tournament, who would have happily accepted Pelleas' crown and attentions, but he only had eyes for Ettard. Nimue fixed that, and how.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Parked himself on Ettard's lands and refused to go away, no matter how often he was rebuffed.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Nimue apparently kept him on a pretty tight leash, since he only shows up a couple of times after they get together. It's explicitly mentioned that this keeps him from getting killed like almost every other knight in the end, however.
  • Tragic Villain: In Idylls. It's not his fault he got knighted just when corruption was smothering what chivalric ideals Camelot had left.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: He eventually caught Nimue's eye and she cast a spell to turn all his love for Ettard into hate and all Ettard's hate for him into love. He ended up with Nimue, and Ettard suffered a Death by Despair. All's well that ends...never mind.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After discovering Gawain and Ettard in bed together, he laid his sword across their necks while they were asleep and went back home.

A half-giant knight that became subservient to Arthur after giving up on waging war against him for the sake of Lancelot.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In one version of the tale, instead of an extremely close friend of Lancelot's, he is portrayed as a distant frenemy of sorts.
  • Adapted Out: He is one of the lesser known knights and is often left out of the stories in adaptations. In fact, he is so little known a few people assume his name Galehaut is actually just another pronunciation of Galahad's name and ignore the character entirely.
  • Ambiguously Gay: His relationship with Lancelot was certainly close and whether they were ever lovers, if Galehaut held an unrequited love for Lancelot or were in fact just friends is a matter of debate between academics to this day.
  • The Good King: He ruled several lands, but as far as it is known, he was very well liked by his people.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Galehaut was an opponent of Arthur, and almost in fact defeated him up until being so enchanted by Lancelot he gave up the fight and sided with Arthur to be closer to him. May or may not be a case of Love Redeems, again based on whether his interest in Lancelot was platonic or romantic.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Galehaut was a hulkling man that could tower over his opponents due to his mother being a giant.
  • Love at First Sight: Ambiguously, but seeing Lancelot in the battlefield was enough for him to be so mesmerized by him he called off the war and became and ally of Arthur's.
  • Red Baron: He was known as "The Uncrowned King", due to his vast lands and military force, but refused to be acknowledged as a king until he got Arthur's lands.
  • Shipper on Deck: In some variations of the story, he helps Lancelot's affair with Guinevere. Might count as I Want My Beloved to Be Happy, if one subscribes to the idea that Galehaut was in love with Lancelot.

Evil Knights

Appears in the Post-Vulgate Merlin and Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.
  • Killed Off for Real: By Arthur.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Accolon.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Of his lover, Morgan Le Fay, in an attempt to have her half-brother King Arthur killed.
  • Worthy Opponent: Arthur considered him this, and Sir Accalon thought the same in turn, when the former apologized for having mortally wounded the latter. Arthur had the Gaulish Knight buried with honors at St. Stephen's Church in Camelot. (At least in versions of the story that don't have Arthur sending his body back to Morgan.)

    Breuse Sans Pitie 
  • Car Fu: Rather, Horse Fu. Liked to ride over unhorsed knights, and actually ran over Gawain twenty times in an effort to kill him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: No dirty trick is below him.
  • For the Evulz: Apparently the closest thing to a motive he's got.
  • Joker Immunity: One of Malory's most frequently used villains, always popping up somewhere to steal, rape, or murder. In a genre where the villain is usually dispatched very quickly, he never gets caught or killed; the best the heroes manage is to run him off for a while.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: When fleeing from a fight, he would often enlist aid from others by claiming that he was an innocent being pursued by Breuse Sans Pitie. (It was often hard to tell which knight was which with the armour.)

    The Brown Knight Without Pity 

    Garlon of Listineise 
  • Black Sheep: Descendant of Joseph of Arimathea and brother to King Pellam, the most worshipful man in the land and King Pellinore, one of Arthur's greatest allies. Sheep don't get much blacker than this.
  • Bullying a Dragon: As Balin's sizing him up, wondering whether or not to kill him in the middle of Pellam's party, Garlon backhands him, asks him what he's looking at, and tells him to eat and do whatever he came there for. Okey-doke.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: King Pellam loved him enough to try to avenge him.
  • Famous Ancestor: Joseph of Arimathea.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Stabbed Sir Herlews le Berbeus with his lance so hard that it broke, and continued using it as a truncheon afterward. Sir Balin used said truncheon to return the favor.
  • Invisibility: Somehow he had this power.
  • Magic Knight: He can turn invisible and inflict a Wound That Will Not Heal.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Balin lops off his head and stabs him with his own broken lance.
  • Off with His Head!: Balin chops his head off right in the middle of one of Pellam's banquets.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Brother of Kings Pellam and Pellinore.
  • Serial Killer: Liked to go around murdering people while invisible, including two knights.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In order to avenge him, King Pellam attacks Balin when he is a guest in his castle, forcing Balin to use the Spear of Destiny to protect himself, striking the Dolorous Stroke that destroys Pellam's castle and kingdom and renders Pellam crippled.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: Somehow inflicted a wound on a lords's son that wouldn't heal unless he received Garlon's blood. Thanks, Balin! Of course then backlash from the Dolorous Stroke collapsed the castle upon the lord and killed him. Oh, and wiped out his neighboring kingdom, including his son. No thanks, Balin!


    Nabon Le Noire 

    Pinel Le Savage 
  • Dirty Coward: Tried to poison Gawain to avenge Lamorak, rather than face him in combat, laid low and let the Queen take the blame, then ran back to his country when Nimue revealed the truth.
  • Karma Houdini: Apparently never received punishment for his treachery.
  • You Killed My Father: Gawain killed his cousin, which is why he tried to poison Gawain, though envy may have played a part as well.

Fair Ladies

  • Adaptational Villainy: Modern writers tend to make her a scheming villainess, often by making her aware of her relationship with Arthur when she sleeps with him, or by combining her with Morgan Le Fay. Originally, she seems to have been a generous and friendly person. Very friendly.
    • This is especially so regarding her as a mother, often serving as Mordred’s (and if given more spotlight, Agravain’s, as well as Gawain’s or Gaheris’ depending on how they’re portrayed) Freudian Excuse to make him more sympathetic and his actions more understandable (e.g. T.H. White, who wrote her as a Monster). While her parenting is rarely elaborated on, in the Vulgate at least she is in fact depicted as quite a loving, sweet, if firm, mother, doting over baby Mordred and pushing her other sons to leave the nest and make something of their lives at Arthur’s court, providing them all the necessary equipment they need.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Though neither she nor Arthur were aware of it at the time.
  • Decomposite Character: Some scholars suggest that she and Morgan Le Fay were the same character until some scribe made a translation error and accidentally split them into two separate characters, making the fact that she’s often conflated with Morgan rather appropriate.
  • Honey Trap: Malory states that Lot sent her over to Arthur's court in this capacity.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: In the older Welsh material, Arthur's sister is named Gwyar, which means "bloodshed".
  • Out with a Bang: Her son Gaheris, incensed at seeing her in bed with the son of Pellinore, Lamorak, (who killed Lot, the Orkney brothers' father), lopped her head off.
  • Silver Vixen: After five sons and a number of daughters, she still had enough of it goin' on to bed Sir Lamorak, who was at least twenty years younger than her.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Margawse, Morgawse, Margause, Bellicent, Orcades...
    • Orcades is notable for being the Latin name for the Orkney islands, which she and her family were eventually associated with. It is suggested that further mutation resulted in Morcades and ultimately Morgause, much like how her husband’s name is also theorized to have originated from his realm.
    • In Geoffrey of Monmouth, Arthur's sister is just called Anna. (She does nothing, but later writers greatly expanded her role) Since Morgan is sometimes spelled Morgana this may have added to the confusion.
  • Surprise Incest: Some versions have her sleep with Arthur, unaware that he's her half-brother.
  • Unholy Matrimony: In versions that play up her and Lot's villainy, often also combining her with Morgan.
  • Villainous Incest: In the variations where she's aware of her relation to Arthur.

    Morgan(a) Le Fay 
  • Arch-Enemy: Guinevere's, actually. After a few unsuccessful attacks on Arthur, Morgan mostly devoted herself to trying to reveal Lancelot and Guinevere's affair.
  • Composite Character: Many adaptations fuse her with Morgause. Morgause is also called Anna, lending herself to this.
  • Depending on the Writer: In her earliest appearance, Geoffrey's Life of Merlin, "Morgen" was the chief of the healers of Avalon. Later medieval writers made her a villain. Some modern writers, most famously Marion Zimmer Bradley, have written of her sympathetically.
  • Evil Matriarch: Many modern versions make her this to Mordred, whose mother is strictly Arthur's other sister in the medieval literature.
  • Evil Sorceress: The Trope Codifier in medieval literature, as it is her main role in the Arthurian mythos. Said to have learned magic in a nunnery where she was shunted off for years.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Apart from the infidelity, part of Morgan's hatred for Guinevere may have stemmed from the fact that she herself wanted to sleep with Lancelot.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In time she seems to have mellowed out and gotten along well with Arthur, to the point of letting him visit her castle for a week. Of course she still tried to convince him of Guinevere's unfaithfulness, but he didn't believe her.
  • Hot Witch: Invariably described/depicted as very beautiful.
  • Lady of Black Magic: She's a potent witch, and almost always portrayed as a beautiful lady garbed in regal dresses.
  • Legion of Doom: At one point King Mark appeals to her to get a bunch of evil sorcerers and known evil knights together in order to ravage Arthur's kingdom.
  • The Magnificent: "Le Fay" means "the Fairy".
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Tried to kill her husband King Uriens, but was stopped by their son Ywain.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Morgen, Morgan, Morgana, Morganna, Morgaine, etc. Morgen is the oldest form in old Welsh and, despite appearances, has nothing to do with the masculine name Morgan (as in Morgan Freeman) which derives from old Welsh "Morcant". The vowel shifts and additions are a result of being filtered (and more explicitly feminized) through French and other languages. Despite popular identification, it also has (sadly) nothing to do with Morrigan from Irish mythology.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: She was in love with Lancelot, who spurned her advances due to his devotion to Guinevere.
  • Yandere: Imprisons poor Lancelot several times, with her attempts to seduce him only, understandably, serving to make her even more of an Abhorrent Admirer in his mind.

    Nimue/Nyneve/Viviane/The Lady of the Lake 

    Iseult the Fair 

    Iseult of the White Hands 
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Becomes jealous of the other Iseult when she learns of Tristan's love for her, leading her to kill Tristan through lying.
  • One Steve Limit: Defied; having the same name as another character is the reason she becomes Tristan's wife, and thus a character in the story, in the first place.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Tristan marries her because she has the same name as his lover.
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: She indirectly murders Tristan by claiming that Iseult the Fair isn't coming to heal him, causing him to give in to despair and succumb to his poison just as Iseult arrives to cure him.

    Ettard of Arroy 
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In Tennyson's Idylls, she deliberately leads Pelleas on, so he'll win circlet for her in the tounament. She does realize she's in love with him eventually...after driving him away for the last time by sleeping with Gawain, and apparently lives in misery for the rest of her days. But she doesn't die of it, at least..
  • Butt-Monkey: So one day you decide to go to a tournament, and this creepy guy who beat sixty knights proclaims his love for you out of nowhere. You tell him where to get off, and he decides to follow you home instead. When you send people to get rid of him, he uses it as an excuse to meet you in person. Over and over. Finally, a knight you're actually into tells you he's killed your stalker, bringing his armor as proof. You sleep with him out of gratitude, but whoopsie, he was deceiving you — you find this out because your stalker sneaks into your room and leaves his sword lying across your throat while you're asleep. Good morning! But hey, it looks you're rid of him at last...until some lady shows up on your doorstep and calls you out for treating your stalker badly. And then she casts a spell to make you fall for him and make him hate you. And then you die.
  • Love at First Sight: Feels this for Gawaine, possibly partly due to gratitude for his claimed killing of Pelleas.
  • Pride: Some version have her spurning Pelleas because of his low birth.
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: Interestingly, Malory says she's apparently not that beautiful, but considering what her looks get her, it fits.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Ettarre, Ettarde
  • Their First Time: Some versions have her tryst with Gawaine be the mutual loss of their virginity.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Nimue forces one upon her by turning all her hatred for Pelleas into love and all his love for her into hatred. In some versions she doesn't have to do the latter, as Pelleas finally gets the message, just a bit too late.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In Idylls, her actions are the start of Pelleas's downward spiral into madness.

The mother of King Arthur and wife of Uther Pendragon. She was originally the wife of Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall, and married Uther after her first husband's death. Igraine is also often depicted as the mother of Morgause, Morgan le Fay and Elaine of Garlot (in most versions her daughters are from her first marriage).
  • Accidental Adultery: While still married to Gorlois, she unwittingly sleeps with Uther after he uses magic to take on her husband's appearance; this leads to Arthur's conception.
  • Adaptational Consent: In some versions, Arthur isn't conceived until Igraine has lawfully married Uther rather than via a Bed Trick. Then again, it's debatable as to how much choice she had about marrying Uther.
  • Missing Mom: To Arthur; shortly after his birth he is taken away by Merlin to be raised by his uncle.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Igraine's name is also commonly spelled as Ygraine (the French form), along with several other variants. Her name originally comes from the Welsh Eigyr.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: While pregnant she puts the dates together and realizes that there's no way Gorlois could have impregnated her since he was out on the battlefield. Uther lets her stew for a while, even joshing her about it, before revealing the truth behind his Bed Trick.

Other Kings

    Uther Pendragon 
Arthur's father.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Made his attraction to Igraine known while she was still married to Duke Gorlois, and laid siege against Gorlois' castle until the Duke was killed and his allies sued for peace, whereupon he married her the very same night. Doesn't look like she had much choice in the matter.
  • Anti-Hero: Unscrupulous Hero. A strong king, who seems to have ruled fairly, but definitely not what you would call a good person.
  • Bed Trick: Had Merlin give him the appearance of Duke Gorlois so he could sleep with Igraine, conceiving Arthur.
  • Death by Origin Story: Arthur becomes king because of his death, being his son and all, but he is plucked from a life of obscurity with a foster-family and thrust onto the throne at a young age. Details vary though.
  • Jerkass: A real piece of work, as the other entries show.
  • Kick the Dog: Jokingly needled the already-nervous Igraine about who (or what) the father of her child might be, considering Gorlois was dead on the battlefield when it was conceived. When he finally reveals the truth, it's noted that she's quite relieved, as opposed to belting him one. When Arthur was actually born, he gave the kid to Merlin without consulting her first or explaining why. Husband of the Year material, here.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Pendragon is a Welsh epithet (sometimes treated as a surname or dynastic name by later authors) which translates to "Chief Dragon" in English, "dragon" probably being a figurative term for warrior. "Uther" itself may come from a Welsh word meaning "awesome" and/or "horrible/terrible" (in the original sense of "fearsome" rather than "bad"). Due to some "Blind Idiot" Translation by Geoffrey, "head dragon" got mixed up as "dragon's head", so the name was now explained as being inspired by a Comet of Doom which looked like a dragon.
  • Second Love: For Igraine, apparently. At any rate she actually seemed to be quite upset when he died.

A king who ruled just before Uther's time.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Everybody came to hate him, meaning he used the Saxons... which made him even more unpopular.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: His own sons rebelled against him, and he was kicked off the throne temporarily.
  • Family Theme Naming: Had sons named Vortimer, Catigern and... Pascent.
  • The High King: Before Uther's time.
  • Historical Domain Character: One of the few Arthurian figures historians generally agree was real. Since "Vortigern" means something like "overlord" in Brittonic, it's disputed whether it ought to be taken as a title, or his real name since he seems to have practiced Family Theme Naming.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Allowed the Saxons, Angles and Jutes to settle in Britain in order to serve as his mercenaries. They turned on him and Uther and Arthur would have to fight them.
  • Kill It with Fire: One version of his death has him trapped in a burning tower.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: By inviting the Anglo-Saxons into Britain, he's essentially responsible for the entire Anglo-Saxon conquest that followed, with the Britons losing control over most of their lands.
  • The Usurper: He is said to have seized the throne after betraying Uther's brother and/or father (depending on the story)
  • Walking the Earth: Another version of his death has him die in obscurity after going into exile and wandering about.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Tried to build a tower that kept tumbling down and was told that only the blood of a child with no human father could secure it. That child was Merlin, who had other ideas.

A king who ruled just before Uther's time.
  • Big Good: For the monk Gildas, who in his writings chews out every British ruler he names, except him who he treats as The Paragon.
  • Death by Origin Story: In Geoffrey, Uther's older brother who briefly ruled as king before him, replacing Vortigern. He dies of poison and Uther succeeds him. He's often skipped in modern retellings.
  • The High King
  • Historical Domain Character: Another Arthurian figure who historians agree was real. In his earliest mention by Gildas, he appears as the one who rallied the Britons against their Saxon foes with no mention of Arthur or Uther. Nennius mentions him too as a rival lord of Vortigern who later became high king. Arthur is instead mentioned as a general fighting for the British kings. Later accounts explicitly claim Arthur fought for Ambrosius. Even later accounts omit Ambrosius entirely.
  • Last of His Kind: Gildas calls him the "last of the Romans" in Britain.
  • Oracular Urchin: Most curiously, he first appears in Nennius as the boy without a human father who Vortigern encounters—in later retellings starting with Geoffrey, the boy is Merlin.
  • Rightful King Returns: When his brother Constans is murdered and Vortigern usurps the throne he and Uther are too young to rule and are forced to flee to Brittany. They return later and depose Vortigern.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The earliest source, Gildas, calls him "Ambrosius Aurelianus". Geoffrey calls him "Aurelius Ambrosius".

    Lot of Lothian and/or Orkney 
The father of Gawain and his brothers.

    Lucius Tiberius 
Procurator (sometimes Emperor) of Rome who makes war with Arthur's allies in Gaul, causing Arthur to come down (leaving Mordred and/or Lancelot in charge) to fight him.
  • Animal Motifs: Arthur has a dream of a dragon defeating a bear, and figures that the dream predicts his victory over Lucius with him as the dragon and Lucius as the bear. Muddling the issue in various retellings is that Lucius may have dragon motifs of his own like heraldry or banners (reflecting that the dragon was used for late Roman standards, like the earlier and more famous eagle), and that Arthur's own name is likely related to the Celtic word for "bear".
  • The Dragon: Implied to be this in his earliest appearance in Geoffrey of Monmouth, where there is reference to an Emperor Leo and Lucius is Procurator. However nearly all later texts drop Leo and just make Lucius Emperor.
  • Klingon Promotion: Defeating Lucius is apparently enough to get Arthur declared Emperor.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Essentially comes out of nowhere to shake things up.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Sometimes Lucius Hiberius, both of which are suspected to be misspellings of Glycerius.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Distracts Arthur long enough to let his court intrigues destroy Britain.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: If Badon Hill happened in about 500 AD, it was far too late for any Western Roman Emperor to start making trouble in Gaul — the last Emperor of the West, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed in 476 AD, and the western empire ceased to have any power worth speaking of long before that. Also if there is an Emperor Leo that dates it to 457-474 (Leo I was succeeded by his grandson Leo II who died later that year). However later Geoffrey claims Arthur's defeat by Mordred happened in 542.

  • Black Knight: Sometimes fights one. Sometimes is one, as in Howard Pyle's retellings.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: He defeats Arthur after being challenged to joust. The Sword in the Stone breaks during their fight, to be replaced by Excalibur. Arthur later asks him to join the Round Table.
  • Famous Ancestor: Joseph of Arimathea.
  • Feuding Families: He killed Lot in combat, touching off a feud with the Orkney brothers which culminated in his death at the hands of Gawain and Gaheris and, later, the death of his son Lamorak.
  • The Quest: Pursues the Questing Beast.
  • Really Gets Around: Has four legitimate sons with his wife, and at least three illegitimate children with three different women.
  • Tragic Mistake: In his haste to rescue Nimue, he refused to stop and provide aid to a gravely wounded knight and his lady. He didn't learn until after the rescue that the lady—who killed herself with her dead lover's sword—was his daughter Eleine.

    Mark of Cornwall 
Uncle of Tristan, husband of Isolde.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Goes from a sympathetic cuckold in the original story to an evil Dirty Coward in Prose Tristan and later tales, then loops back around in many modern works.
  • Bad Boss: Occasionally flew into rages where he killed his own men.
  • Cain and Abel: Evil!Mark kills his brother.
  • Incest Is Relative: Evil!Mark rapes his niece and kills her after she gives birth to his son.
  • Little Bit Beastly: Gets cursed with a horse's ears and mane in an early Breton legend, paralleling a legend about King Midas after he lost his touch. This is also a pun on "march", Welsh for "horse".
  • Pet the Dog: Erected a rich tomb over a slain knight and his lady, apparently as a gesture of legitimate kindness.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: He ran away when "Lancelot" (actually Sir Dagonet in Sir Mordred's armor) challenged him.

    King Pellam of Listeneise 
  • Famous Ancestor: Joseph of Arimathea.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The Dolorous Stroke destroyed his castle, his kingdom and three neighboring kingdoms, causing mass death and destruction.
  • Fisher King: After receiving the Dolorous Stroke, his castle collapsed and his kingdom became a wasteland until he was healed by blood from the Spear of Destiny.
  • Good Is Impotent: Either unwilling or unable to stop Garlon from murdering people.
  • Groin Attack: Appears to have been the original location for his Wound That Will Not Heal. Dolorous, indeed.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: The myths have multiple maimed Fisher Kings, who may have originated as one character, even a knight of Arthur's, and two different versions of the Dolorous Stroke:
    • When out hunting he happened upon Solomon's Ship and King David's Sword within. Feeling himself worthy, he had the temerity to try and draw the sword, whereupon a spear appeared out of thin air an delivered the Dolorous Stroke, impaling his thighs.
    • When Sir Balin killed Sir Garlon at one of Pellam's feasts, the king broke Sacred Hospitality and attacked his brother's killer, breaking his sword. Balin fled, with Pellam in pursuit, until the reached the Grail Chamber, where he desperately grabbed the first weapon he could find and lashed out at the king—striking the Dolorous Stroke with The Spear of Destiny and bringing the castle down upon their heads, as well as basically nuking three neighboring kingdoms.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The "most worshipful man that lived", his brother Sir Garlon was a vicious Serial Killer with the power of invisibility.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: However he received it, and wherever it is (hip, groin, thighs), the Dolorous Stroke doesn't heal until Galahad uses blood from the Spear of Destiny to cure it.

Other Characters

    Adragain the Brown 
Appears in the Vulgate Merlin, Vulgate Lancelot, Le Livre d'Artus and Arthour and Merlin.


    Alain the Large 
  • Fisher King: One of them to be exact.
  • Flip-Flop of God: Robert de Boron early on wrote that he was celibate only to contradict himself latter by stating that he fathered several children.

    Belinus & Brennius 

Belinus and Brennius

Two brother Kings of Britain said to have led the Celtic sacking of Rome in 390 B.C.

    Brutus of Troy 
According to Geoffrey of Monmouth and subsequent authors, a Trojan exile who led a band of followers and conquered Britain from a race of giants. Britain was supposedly named after him.

Arthur's cousin from the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen.

The father of Kay and foster father of Arthur.
  • Good Parents: To all indications he treated Arthur as lovingly as his natural-born son, and upon learning that he was the true King of England requested only that Kay be made seneschal.
  • Muggle Foster Parents: After Arthur's royal parents died, Sir Ector raised Arthur, never knowing his foster son's true identity.
  • Spell My Name Withan S: Hector or Antor (French/Breton/German), Cynyr (Welsh).

    Hengist & Horsa 
The pair of brothers who, according to legend, began the Anglo-Saxon invasions that transformed a decent chunk of Great Britain into England. Sometimes identified as Angles or Jutes instead of Saxons, but then the Britons (and Scots and Irish) tended to lump all the Germanic invaders together under "Saxon".
  • Animal Theme Naming: Hengist means "Stallion," while Horsa means... "Horse."
  • Heroic Lineage: A few generations removed from Odin. Not quite Divine Parentage but still.
  • Historical Domain Character: Maybe. Their legends might preserve memories of real leaders, but on the other hand, heroic and often divine twins is a recurring motif in mythology. Hengist himself is also mentioned in Beowulf and the Prose Edda.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Hengist may create one, as his appearance in Beowulf ties the Arthurian mythos into Germanic and Norse mytholgy.
  • Face–Heel Turn: They initially earned their keep fighting people fro the Britains, then broke off to become invaders.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: For the early legends which deal primarily with Arthur fighting the Saxon invasion; traditionally, both men are dead by this time, but their armies and kingdoms are still waging war on the native Cymry.
  • Hired Guns: Their intial occupation, and indeed the reason they were invited to Britain in the first place; Vortigern required an army to fight invading Scots and Picts.
  • Nasty Party: Hengist pulled one on Vortigern and his nobles. At his signal, the Saxons drew hidden knives and slaughtered the Britons—sparing only Vortigern, who was then subjected to blackmail.
  • Satellite Character: Horsa is always secondary to Hengist, and dies before him.

The beautiful daughter of Hengist who became the wife of Vortigern. This gave Hengist some claim on the British throne.
  • Honey Trap: Hengist had her entertain Vortigern at a feast and he was quickly smitten. Soon, Hengist not only became his father-in-law but gained even more land for the Saxons.
  • Kill It with Fire: Sometimes said to have died together with Vortigern this way.
  • Second Love: In some tellings Vortigern was already married once, and sometimes his first wife is even still alive. Either way, their relationship offends his sons who eventually rebel.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Renwein, Renwen, Rhonwen, Ronwen, Rowen... the form Rowena later became better-known though Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.
  • Unholy Matrimony: The Britons or at least the Church thought so, for not only was she Saxon but also pagan.
  • Wicked Stepmother: She had her stepson Vortimer poisoned when he briefly deposed his father. In some versions she fakes a Heel–Faith Turn to get on his good side.

One of the first Saxon leaders.
  • Decomposite Character: Geoffrey appears to have split him into three figures: Cherdic, a contemporary of Vortigern; Cheldric, one of the enemy leaders at Badon; and Chelric, an ally of Modred at Camlann.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Of Wessex (named after the "West Saxons"). The royal dynasty of Wessex, most notably Alfred the Great, claimed him as their ancestor.
  • Heroic Lineage: Also descended from Odin.
  • Historical Domain Character: Probably, which is why he tends to pop up in modern historical-leaning Arthurian fiction despite having little presence in the medieval legends. Curiously, his name appears to be Brittonic instead of Germanic, as it's related to Ceretic/Caradoc/Caratacus, leading to speculation about whether he was part or full Briton despite leading non-Britons, and whether the distinction was even all that important back then.
  • The Quisling: Maybe, since a certain Ceretic appears in the Historia Britonum as Vortigern's interpreter when dealing with Hengist.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Not directly mentioned as "Cerdic" in any of the legends, only historical or pseudo-historical material, but nevertheless his name does appear through variants or in garbled form as seen above. Walter Scott also misspelled his name as "Cedric" in Ivanhoe and it has since become a common name.
  • Villain Protagonist: Of the ironically-titled novel Conscience of the King by Alfred Duggan.
  • Worthy Opponent: A common interpretation of him in modern Arthurian fiction, including the film King Arthur where he's the main antagonist.

    Osla Big-Knife 
One of Arthur's companions in the tale of Culhwch and Olwen.
  • BFS: His knife is big enough to serve as a bridge.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Implied, as another Welsh tale, "The Dream of Rhonabwy", mentions him as the Saxon leader at the battle of Badon. It's also worth noting that the Saxons probably derived their name from seax, a kind of knife.
  • Historical Domain Character: May be based on King Offa of Mercia (another Saxon kingdom), though he lived centuries after the first Saxon incursions so the two may have been confused instead.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: While helping Culhwch with his Engagement Challenges, he apparently drowns in a river after his scabbard fills with water.
  • Red Baron: Gyllellvawr or Kyllellvawr, meaning Big Knife. Offa of Mercia is called the same in historical records.

    The Black Knight 
  • Dark Is Evil: Usually, but not always.
  • Meaningful Name: Wears black armor.
  • Name's the Same: There are actually several characters known as "The Black Knight" throughout the Arthurian mythos, and not all of them are evil.

    The Green Knight 
  • Meaningful Name: He is completely green, as well as his gear and horse, and he carries a bough of holly in one hand (and an axe in the other). Some scholars think he may have pagan roots as a nature figure.


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