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Characters / Evil Dead Ash Williams

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The protagonist and poster boy of the entire series. Ash evolves over the course of the series from a cowardly college student to a wise cracking zombie slayer with his detachable hand chainsaw and 12 gauge "boomstick".

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  • Action Survivor: He starts out as this; Ash was just a somewhat cowardly student who through a combination of luck and cunning managed to survive horrific events which harden him into a badass Deadite-fighter.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Campbell's character was called Bruce in the original Within The Woods short.
  • Adorkable: In The Evil Dead, particularly in his interactions with Linda when he pretends to be asleep.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: The chainsaw was briefly on his left hand in the basement in the second movie.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: And Then Ash Was a Deadite. He gets possessed twice during Evil Dead 2, but is cured of his possession both times. The video game Evil Dead: Regeneration (an alternate continuity to the second film) also features his Deadite form, though the difference there is Ash can actually control it.
  • Angrish: He has a tendency to babble and scream incoherently when frightened or enraged.
  • Anti-Hero: Although Ash's characterization changes radically over the course of the franchise, he's never a traditional hero. In the first film he's just a male Final Girl. In the second, he goes a bit crazy and takes a level in badass by the end. In Army of Darkness, he becomes a Wrong Genre Savvy, wise-cracking, Small Name, Big Ego Idiot Hero. Most adaptations use or expand upon this characterization.
  • An Arm and a Leg: In Evil Dead II, he's forced to chop off his own hand when it gets possessed.
  • Apologetic Attacker: He clearly expresses regret and remorse over having to kill his elderly neighbour Vivian after she's possessed and tries to kill him.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Deadites as a whole, as they spend an entire film trilogy tormenting him and trying to destroy everything he loves.
  • Artificial Limbs: He makes a mechanical hand to replace his lost right one in Army of Darkness. After returning to the present, he ends up gaining a more traditional wooden hand. And after he loses that, Pablo builds him a new robotic one out of a Nintendo power glove. At the very end of the series, Ash wakes up in the future to find he's been given a bionic hand that's almost indistinguishable with his natural hand.
  • An Axe to Grind: His third weapon of choice. He uses it to hack Deadite Ed to pieces.
  • Badass Cape: He wears one in Army of Darkness that he received as a gift from Sheila.
  • Badass Normal: He goes up against demons from hell, medieval knights, the undead and his own mutated friends with no training, preparation or backup, and still manages to kick ass and take names.
  • Batman Gambit: He pulls off a great one against Baal in Ash vs. Evil Dead, tricking him into thinking Ash has fallen for his reality-changing mind games, only to reveal he never fell for it, even for a minute, and that it was all part of his plan to get Baal and the Necronomicon in the same place all along.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: He only ever gets superficial injuries to his face that just make him seem more handsome. By the third film, his costume is a walking Shirtless Scene. There is a scene in the first film where he gets covered from head to toe in blood; a second later his face is completely clean, and the only thing the blood did was make his shirt cling to his chest in a fanservice-y way.
  • Belated Backstory: Such things as his job at S-Mart weren't revealed until Army of Darkness.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's a perverted, somewhat idiotic dork, but when the chips are down, he proves just how tough he can be.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: He modified a chainsaw to serve as this, strapping it to his right arm stump.
  • Blood Knight: Despite his complaints about constantly fighting Deadites, Ash does seem to really love kicking ass and knocking the forces of evil down a peg.
  • Blue Is Heroic: Typically wears a blue shirt, and is The Hero of the series.
  • Boss's Unfavorite Employee: He was this to Mr. Roper at Value Stop. While Roper was a Mean Boss in general, he had a particular dislike for Ash, a lazy goldbrick whose seniority makes him unfireable. When possessed by a Deadite, Roper retains enough of his old self to mock Ash as a "sad old failure" and admit he's always hated him.
  • Bottomless Magazines: At one point, Ash fires his double barreled shotgun at least three times in quick succession, far faster than someone with only one hand can reload. There's also the lever action rifle in Army of Darkness which he fires about 30 times without reloading. And then there's the bottomless gas tank for the chainsaw, though that's ultimately averted in the first season finale of Ash vs Evil Dead, where it runs out of gas for the first time on-screen.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: In Army of Darkness, Ash shows off a wide variety of skills (creating gunpowder, knowing martial arts and effectively training the villagers to fight the undead army). However, when given the choice of becoming king or going back to his old S-Mart job, he chooses the latter.
  • Broken Ace: On the one hand, he's an undeniably badass demon slayer. On the other hand, he has fifty years worth of baggage to go with it.
  • Broken Bird: A rare male example. He's lost virtually everyone he loves and cares about to the Deadites, and as revealed in Ash vs. Evil Dead, his entire hometown believes him to be a Serial Killer and his father has disowned him.
  • Butt-Monkey: Getting poked in the eyes, being shoved up a corpse's butt, having things shoved into his butt and getting hit in the groin are typical occurrences for him.
  • Byronic Hero: In Ash vs. Evil Dead, his primary motive is to get the book translated and banish the Deadites from this existence again, and thus is reluctant to get himself into any unnecessary complications like saving individual people when the whole world's at stake; while he's not depicted as wrong by any stretch for believing this, he can sometimes come across as callous or self-absorbed when stating his intentions.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: He does this in "Last Call," calling out his father Brock for never standing up for him when all of Elk Grove turned on him and pegged him as a crazy Serial Killer. When Brock confesses that he in fact does believe that Ash went crazy and killed Cheryl and his friends, Ash is left completely devastated.
  • The Cameo: In The Stinger of the remake.
  • Cartwright Curse: If he falls in love with a girl, she'll die and become a deadite.
  • Catchphrase: "Groovy!"
  • Chainsaw Good: One of his trademark weapons. He even went so far as to modify one to serve as a Blade Below the Shoulder.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: For all his bluster, he genuinely tries to protect those under his care, and stops hitting on Kelly the moment he realizes Pablo's interested in her. He also genuinely wants a relationship with Amanda, not mere sex.
  • The Chosen One: As revealed in Evil Dead 2, he's destined to battle the evil forces unleashed by the Book of the Dead. Pablo later insists that he's the legendary 'El Jefe'.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In "El Jefe," after Kelly's My Parents Are Dead moment while he's trying to hit on her:
    Ash: Wow... (whistles) Um, you know, in the future, you might wanna just say "Sure, I'll tell her"... 'cause droppin' a bomb like that on somebody you just met is downright rude.
  • Cool Car: His 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, aka "The Classic."
  • Cool Loser: Chainsaw-handed undead slayer he may be, but in his day to day life, Ash is an idiotic social outcast stuck in a dead end job that he has no real hope of escaping.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ash is may be past his prime and a complete jackass, but when shit hits the fan, there's no denying how awesome he is. Even after at least 3 decades down the line hasn't changed the fact that he can hack and shoot Deadites to pieces like a cakewalk.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He's idiotic, a social outcast and a complete jackass. But underneath it all, he's the best at killing the undead.
  • The Danza: Was named Bruce after his actor in the Within The Woods short.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ash finds plenty of opportunities to snark about medieval culture and action-adventure tropes.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: In the Grand Finale of the show, Ash gets Kandar's attention by shouting insults at him and literally flipping him off.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: He regularly takes on the evil creations of the Necronomicon, but what really sells him this is killing Kandar the Destroyer during the Grand Finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead.
  • Dirty Old Man: In Ash vs. Evil Dead. Most of his nights before the show were spent picking up floozies in bars, and he hits on girls half his age.
  • Distressed Dude: In the first two and a half movies, he's not a particularly badass presence, being trapped under bookcases, trolled by deadites, sexually assaulted by decapitated bodies and basically just beaten around.
  • Doom Magnet: As stated in Ash vs. Evil Dead, no matter how good his intentions may be, Ash has a tendency to leave a trail of horribly mauled innocents in his attempts to stop the evil. The scene at the Western Moose diner is a good example, where six people met a gruesome end simply because it occurred to Ash to stop there to eat.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Ash may not be the brightest guy, but even he knows going out into the woods to look for Bobby Joe is a bad idea.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: In "Books from Beyond," he has the idea to summon the demon Eligos for information on how to stop the Necronomicon's evil. Eligos inevitably breaks free and tries to kill everyone.
  • Feeling Their Age: In Ash vs. Evil Dead. While still able to hold his own against Deadites, Ash is in his 50s by this time and it shows. He mentions in the first episode that he needs to take some cardio because his heart is "jackhammering like a quarterback on prom night," and in "Ashes to Ashes," he's revealed to have, among other minor handicaps, a trick knee and bum shoulder.
  • Flanderization: In the first movie, he was a normal, somewhat Adorkable young man who endured great suffering before unexpectedly defeating great evil. When the franchise became a comedy, he became a cartoonish dumbass who takes absurd slapstick knocks, then quips blithely before carving evil up with a chainsaw.
  • Functional Addict: Ash vs. Evil Dead reveals that he frequents bars and smokes weed.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: He modified a chainsaw to serve as a Blade Below the Shoulder, created gunpowder by referencing its elemental makeup in a chemistry book, converted his car into the Death Coaster, and crafted a fully functional prosthetic hand from a metal gauntlet.
  • Gender-Blender Name: "Ash" sounds pretty cool for a guy, but it's actually short for "Ashley," which is more common as a feminine name. This is a reference to him being a male Final Girl in the first film. Ash vs. Evil Dead goes further and reveals his middle initial "J." stands for Joanna.
    Ash: (sarcastically) Thanks for that name, by the way.
    Brock: That name gave you thick skin.
    Ash: Yeah, thick from all the playground beatings!
  • Genius Ditz: Despite being described on more than one occasion as an idiot by Bruce Campbell himself, Ash has proven quite inventive on several occasions; he's still able to effortlessly create a fully-articulated prosthetic hand for himself, synthesize gunpowder and explosive materials using only found natural resources and the Chemistry textbooks in the trunk of his car, and then turn the car into a whirling, bladed death machine. As he puts it:
    Ash: We can take 'em on! With science!
  • Good Is Not Nice: Not initially; he was a pretty gentle young man with a cowardly streak, but the events he has to endure hardens him into a jaded, selfish lone wolf.
  • Guest Fighter: Appears as a playable character in Terrordrome the Game: Rise of the Boogeymen, Broforce and Dead by Daylight as well as being an opponent in Poker Night 2.
  • Gun Nut: Uses a shotgun and rifle to fight monsters.
  • Handicapped Badass: A literal example! Lops off his own right hand after being bitten by the head of the Deadite form of his girlfriend. By the time of Ash vs. Evil Dead, he's gathered several other minor handicaps, such as false teeth.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Ash vs. Evil Dead shows that he does still think about watching his best buddy, girlfriend, and sister die gruesomely, and hints that his overgrown fratboy persona is his way of suppressing the memories.
  • Heroic BSoD: In the Grand Finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead, he undergoes one at the sight of Kandar the Destroyer, the massive Beast of the Apocalypse summoned by the Dark Ones to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. It's compounded by the discovery that the Deadite outbreak has gone global; he starts drinking heavily, bemoaning how much It Sucks to Be the Chosen One and nearly breaking down in tears. Brandy snaps him out of it with a Rousing Speech.
    Ash: Savior, my ass! I'm just a... a goddamn failure.
  • He's Back: In the first episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead. When the Deadites have him and his friends trapped in his trailer and Kelly is being choked, Ash finally decides to stop running. And the arrogant blowhard reveals himself to be one of the greatest demon slayers of all time.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: As of the second episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead, he's wanted by the cops, who believe him to be responsible for the havoc caused by the Deadites. He's also being chased by Ruby Knowby, who believes that he murdered Professor Knowby for the Necronomicon. As revealed in the season two premiere of the show, he's also one to his entire hometown of Elk Grove, who believe him to be a deranged lunatic who killed his friends during their weekend at the cabin.
    • Subverted by his job itself, where his seniority makes him untouchable, and surprisingly popular among floorstaff.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • It's shown in Evil Dead 2 that he can play piano.
    • Most clearly in Ash vs. Evil Dead. As selfish and perverted as he might appear, it's clear that he's a lonely old man and his terrible, terrible life has taken its toll on him. Notably, his greatest wish in life is just... a simple, relaxing time in Jacksonville, Florida, where he can fish, drink beer, and have sex with pretty women.
    • While he puts no effort into his job at Value Stop, it seems he really is knowledgable about housewares and hardware. In season 3, he opens a store that seems fairly successful, albeit partly because of his fame.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In Army of Darkness, he regularly mislabels the medieval Kandarians as cave-people as a means of insulting their intelligence, but he's clearly not exactly far ahead of them.
    Ash: Your primitive intellect wouldn't alloys and compositions and (clearly becoming confused)... things with molecular structure...
  • I Call It "Vera": As revealed in the penultimate episode of Ash vs Evil Dead Season 1, he calls his chainsaw and boomstick Moe and Larry.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: He expresses on more than one occasion how much It Sucks to Be the Chosen One, and his life's ambitions are pretty modest: to live in an unremarkable but pleasant city where he can drink beer, meet pretty girls, and go fishing. The Deadites ensure he can't even have that much.
  • Idiot Hero: Bruce Campbell regularly describes him as such, stating that outside of fighting the Evil Dead, he's incompetent.
  • Iron Butt Monkey: It's a damn wonder how Ash is still alive after all of the injuries he's obtained over the years. It's even more of a wonder that the extent of his injuries is a bum shoulder and a trick knee.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: He endures constant horrors and struggles to stay alive, while losing those he cares about. Ash vs Evil Dead reveals he's been basically running away from that responsibility for 30 years, and it's repeatedly shown just how traumatized Ash is from everything that's happened, the new string of Deadite fighting he has to do in the present not helping in the slightest. He finally hits his breaking point in the Grand Finale — in light of the literal end of the world, he breaks down, slipping into a Heroic BSoD, getting drunk, and ranting about how he never wanted to be The Chosen One in the first place.:
    Ash: Pablo, how may times you heard me say this, huh? Why me?! Who am I?! Nobody. Nobody! Guy from Elk Grove, Michigan. Where the fuck is that? In the middle of jack-shit nowhere, that's where! You know what? I got news for you. I didn't ask for this! You think I want this horse shit? Be covered in blood 24/7? Who the fuck would want that?!
  • It's All About Me: In Army of Darkness, he'd rather go home than help Arthur's people against the approaching Deadites. He clearly feels guilty, but he just can't take it anymore. Shelia being abducted, though, gets him to change his mind.
    • Confirmed in the first season finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead, where he makes a deal with Ruby to not stop her from controlling the Necronomicon and the dark forces of the book in return for being allowed to walk away alive with Kelly and Pablo, sparing only Pablo and Kelly and possibly the inhabitants of Jacksonville, Florida. Despite his facade of not caring and trying to pass it off Ruby keeping a handle on darkness as its Evil Overlord as being Necessarily Evil, he does feel guilty but once again he just wants to put it all behind him and let somebody else deal with this shit.
  • It's Personal: Let's see, the demon raped his sister, possessed his friends and girlfriend, forcing him to kill them and continued doing so throughout the movies.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's crude, selfish and more than a little sleazy, but the Adorkable college kid from The Evil Dead is still buried deep down.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: When push comes to shove, he'll do the right thing, even if he complains about it all the while.

  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Being a Bruce Campbell character, he's gotta be this trope.
    • It gets lampshaded when he fights Henrietta in Ash VS Evil Dead season 2.
    Henrietta: That chin of yours makes an easy target!
  • Large Ham: Naturally. Army Of Darkness and the varied video games have him hammy as he wants to be.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: It can be argued that the minute he gets that chainsaw, Ash goes from hapless goof with the worst weekend ever going for him to the baddest slayer of evil this side of cinema.
  • Like Father, Like Son: As revealed in the second season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Ash gets his Handsome Lech tendencies from his father.
  • MacGyvering: He seems to be pretty bright when it comes to making makeshift equipment. In Evil Dead II, he creates his iconic Boomstick harness that also has a thing to start up his chainsaw. In Army of Darkness, he creates a fully functional "cyborg" hand made from the hand of the armor of a knight, created a few things from his science textbook and gun power from his Boomstick, and transforming his Oldsmobile into a giant propeller of death.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: He evolves from a fairly sensitive guy into snarling comedic misanthropy over the course of the movies, though he's had one hell of a bad weekend to justify it. It probably didn't help that his allies in both the second and third movie introduced themselves by trying to kill him.
    Ash: Now I swear... the next one of you primates... even touches me...
  • Made of Iron: He's survived and walked off such things as getting bodily slammed into a tree and thrown through a wooden staircase with no long-lasting injuries. Subverted by the time of Ash vs. Evil Dead, where his age is getting to him.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When he returns to the castle with the book and orders the wiseman to send him back to his time, he tries his best to mask his guilt as everyone walks away in disgust.
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown: As revealed in Season 2 of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Ash is shunned by virtually everyone in his hometown of Elk Grove, including his own father, due to the events of the first two movies; no one believed Ash's story about the Deadites and the Necronomicon, thinking he just went crazy and slaughtered his friends and sister. Ultimately averted by the end of Season 2, where he's managed to convince the town of the truth and is now a hero.
  • Nice Guy: In the first movie. He Took a Level in Jerkass though.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
  • Obfuscating Insanity: In Ash vs. Evil Dead, Ash pretends that Baal's gaslighting succeeded in making him willing to kill his friends. In reality, he was just playing along to get Pablo and Baal in the same room.
  • Papa Wolf: In Season 3 of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Ash discovers he has a daughter, Brandy, and becomes immensely protective of her. Even going through the Dark World to rescue her after Ruby kills her.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: In the Grand Finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead, he takes a bong hit and refuses to let Brandy have one on the grounds that Drugs Are Bad. Of course, he also explains that he doesn't want Brandy to make the same mistakes he did.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Is said to be racist against Mexicans, but has a deep respect for his friend, Pablo. note 
  • Refusal of the Call: In Ash vs. Evil Dead, he initially refuses to fight the Deadites and is fully prepared to run again.
    Pablo: You can't outrun evil, Ash!
    Ash: Watch me!
  • Related in the Adaptation: In a run of Evil Dead: The Musical where his sister was played by a black actress, her last line was to tell Ash he was adopted.
  • Sanity Slippage: Has suffered some throughout the movies. It's heavily implied that some of the horrors, such as his reflection coming to life and choking him, as well as the laughing room from II, were nothing but hallucinations.
  • Scars Are Forever: In II, he wrecks his Delta and gets thrown through the windshield, receiving multiple cuts to the face. Said cuts remain throughout the rest of the film, as well as the entirety of Army of Darkness.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: To the point of creating a Sawed-Off Shotgun aka his Boomstick.
  • Silver Fox: Even in his fifties, Ash Really Gets Around and is quite a ladies man.
  • The Slacker: In Ash vs. Evil Dead, it's mentioned he's taken multiple phony sick days off under the pretense of taking care of his "dear friend" Eli, his pet bearded dragon.
  • Smart Ball: Ash is an idiot, there's no denying that. But every now and then he does make the right decision, and he is shown to be good at building things.
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: In Ash vs. Evil Dead. As a sign of how far he's fallen in lifenote , Ash has gone from the big wheel at S-Mart's housewares division to a lowly Value Stop stockboy, getting cursed out by his supervisor. Pretty much the only reason he can't get fired is because of his seniority.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: One constant in the Evil Dead universe is that any woman Ash genuinely falls for will die horrifically and come back to taunt him as a Deadite. After thirty years of mourning Linda as The Lost Lenore following her death in the first movie, he seems to develop his first genuine romantic attachment to Amanda, only for her to die as soon as they admit their feelings to one another.
  • Stoners Are Funny: As revealed in Ash vs. Evil Dead, he smokes pot, and he's certainly goofy. Best shown in "The Mettle of Man," where he takes a bong hit before going out to face Kandar.
    Brandy: Is this really the best time to be getting baked?
    Ash: I'm not gonna fight that thing with a clear head.
  • Sword and Gun: Well, more precisely chainsaw and Boomstick. He also does use an actual sword in Army Of Darkness.
  • Tragic Hero: Ash has pretty simple goals in life: to have good beer and look at hot chicks. And he can't even have that because of that weird shit he has to go through.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The Grand Finale of Ash vs. Evil Dead reveals he kept the necklace he gave to Linda the fateful night at the cabin for thirty years, viewing it as a good luck charm that kept him safe from harm and gave him the courage he needed to fight the Deadites. Before fighting Kandar the Destroyer, he passes it on to Brandy.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the first movie, he's a wimp who by the end of the movie realizes what he has to do to live. By the third movie, he's commanding an entire legion against the army of darkness.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In the first movie, Ash is a Nice Guy thrown into the middle of a nightmare and struggles to survive. Throughout the next two movies, his experiences lead to him becoming increasingly more snarky and obnoxious, to the point where he apathetically "helps" the local castle and refuses to help them when the deadites take the Necronomicon. Tropes Are Not Bad, however, as that is the version of Ash that fans remember and love. Though there's also some suggestions that he was kind of a jerk all along, when he casually boasts about how he bullied the future sheriff of Elk Grove in Ash vs. Evil Dead.
  • Ultimate Job Security: In Ash vs. Evil Dead, it's made clear that he is a terrible Value Stop employee from the very first episode, having done such things as take phony sick days off using his pet lizard as an excuse. His boss, Mr. Roper, even flat-out tells him to his face that Ash's seniority is the only reason he hasn't already been fired.
  • [Verb] This!: Possibly one of the most famous examples...
    Deadite : Hey! I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul!
    Ash : Swallow this!
  • Wrecked Weapon: In the penultimate episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Ruby crushes his chainsaw.

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