The Great Dragon: Kilgharrah (John Hurt)
"There is no right or wrong. Only what is and what isn't."
The last of the dragons who was captured during the time of the Great Purge and imprisoned in the dungeons under Camelot as an example of Uther's victory over magic. With an extensive knowledge of future events, the dragon introduces Merlin to his destiny and provides guidance over the course of his life.
- Androcles' Lion: Inverted - he befriends Merlin and guides him.
- Anti-Villain: Until his HeelFace Turn, as he has very good reason to despise Uther.
- Because Destiny Says So: Practically his motto.
- Big Bad: The final episode of series two.
- Big Brother Instinct: To Merlin. Kilgharrah's treatment of Merlin in Series 2 is best described as a come and go fondness. In Series 3, after becoming spiritual brothers, Kilgharrah burns up Serkets trying to kill Merlin, doesn't want him to leave the cave until he's fully recovered, and allows him to ride him despite the fact that the series 3 finale shows he detests being used as a horse. He still occasionally treats him like an idiot, but given that we have only one talking dragon to draw references from, this could have been a normal big brother relationship among dragons.
- Big Damn Heroes: Comes to Merlin's rescue in The Tears of Uther Pendragon Part I, then again in The Darkest Hour Part II.
- Breath Weapon: He shoots fire from his mouth, mostly as a defence weapon.
- Characterization Marches On: He started out as rather flat character giving Merlin cryptic hints in riddles to defeat the monster of the week. When Mordred showed up around episode 8, he became a more darker and complex character.
- Demoted to Extra: In Series 5. With good reason, as he is dying of old age.
- Eccentric Mentor: For the first few episodes he would always talk to Merlin in riddles.
- Fan Nickname: Slash Dragon.
- Figure It Out Yourself: In the first few episodes of Series One, when Merlin came to him for help, the Dragon would often tell the answer in a riddle, that Merlin would have to figure out.
- HeelFace Turn: When Merlin spares him despite his rampage on Camelot, the Dragon becomes a nicer though still cynical person.
- It Has Been an Honor: In The Darkest Hour Part II this is his reaction to Merlin stating that hes going to sacrifice himself to seal off the spirit world. You can clearly hear the fondness and grief in his voice at the notion of Merlin dying, but its also obvious that Kilgharrah is incredibly proud of Merlins conviction and good nature.
- It's All About Me: Originally his main motivation for helping Merlin was so that he would be free from his imprisonment. Later he developed a genuine fondness for the warlock.
- Karma Houdini: He was never really punished for his rampage on Camelot: merely banished on pain of death by Merlin.
- Last of His Kind: Not anymore due to the hatching of Aithusa.
- Morally Ambiguous Mentor: Often counsels Merlin to Shoot the Dog. Also see Treacherous Advisor.
- Mr. Exposition: Shares this trope with Gaius
- No Name Given: For the first two series at least. In the last episode of series 2, he was identified as "Kilgharrah" for the first time.
- Not So Omniscient After All: Remember all his prophecies about how Arthur would legalize magic and unite Albion and rule over the Golden Age, with the white dragon Aithusa as a symbol of the world that he and Merlin would build together? Never happened.
- Omniscient Morality License: He's advised/ordered Merlin to do some incredibly dodgy stuff, including letting a child die and killing a terrified woman.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Can talk perform magic, have incredibly long life spans and be controlled by Dragonlords.
- Really 700 Years Old: He's at least a thousand years old, and claims to have seen civilizations rise and fall. Although he's about to die of old age when the series end.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: His attack on Camelot. Uther slaughtered his entire kind, and in response he attempts to raze the city to the ground, leaving Uther untouched as his subjects die. Well, it's the exact same thing that Uther did to him, but he was still killing innocents.
- Sapient Steed: Whenever Merlin hitches a ride.
- Secretly Dying: Although the secret's out in The Kindness of Strangers.
- Seen It All: There's very little he can't give Merlin a spell or solution for. As long as the threat or problem is magical in nature, personal problems not so much. Justified in that he's at least a thousand years old.
- Treacherous Advisor: Betrays Merlin twice, both by having him almost kill his mom, and then attacking Camelot after he was freed.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Merlin calls him out on some of his morally questionable decisions.
- In The Crystal Cave hes enraged at the fact that Merlin forces him to divulge a spell to heal Morgana by using his Dragonlord powers, considering it a serious breach of trust.
- Would Hurt a Child: At least by omission: he tries to prevent Merlin from saving Mordred, when Mordred was a little kid and still very innocent.
Nimueh (Michelle Ryan)
"I have watched so many people I love die at your hands, Uther Pendragon. Now it is your turn."
The sorceress who cast the spell that allowed Uther and Ygraine to conceive Arthur. After Ygraine died in childbirth as per the conditions of the magic, it served as a catalyst for Uther's hatred of magic and the massacre that followed. Throughout the first season, Nimueh works against Uther from a distance in order to undermine his rule. She appeared in The Mark of Nimueh, The Poisoned Chalice, Excalibur and Le Mort d'Arthur.
- Arc Villain: In Series 1, where she would cook up various plans to get revenge of Uther.
- Badass Boast: She uses threats towards her opponents to scare them off and let them know just how powerful she truly is.
- Big Bad: In Season 1.
- Black Magic: Seemed to practice dark magic the most.
- Breakout Villain: She was only suppose to be a one-shot villain but the production team like the character enough to give her a bigger role.
- The Chessmaster: Nimueh is rather manipulative and cunning in nature, best demonstrated when she attempts to destroy two warring kingdoms' chances at a peaceful treaty while simultaneously giving Merlin a fatal dose of poison.
- Deal with the Devil: Merlin makes a deal with her in Le Mort d'Arthur.
- Decoy Damsel: In The Poisoned Chalice.
- High Priestess: Of the Old Religion.
- Ice Queen: Nimueh has a very icy and sociopathic personality. She doesn't show any emotion, most of the time - though she does in episode 9.
- In the Hood: In Excalibur.
- Killed Off for Real: By Merlin, in the most badass way ever.
- Lack of Empathy: Nimueh doesn't show andy guilt or remorse for other's suffering.
- Lady of Black Magic: A very elegant witch.
- Magic Is Evil: When Nimueh uses magic.
- Playing with Fire: She throws a fireball in Le Mort d'Arthur.
- Seen It All: Her response when Gaius comes to her to offer his life in exchange for Merlin's.
- Starter Villain: Quite powerful and gives Merlin quite a bit of grief but she's dispatched quite quickly compared to her successors.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: Inverted in the The Poisoned Chalice, in that it is the chalice that is poisoned, not the drink.
- Too Dumb to Live: Granted, Merlin can't seem like much of a threat. But she decided that, rather than avoid angering Merlin by choosing a victim he would not know, she would go for his mother which she knows is a Berserk Button of his. And then she lures him to the Isle of the Blessed for a face-off. And when he gets up unscathed from a fireball to the chest, she just smirks at him patronizingly. The worst part? Unlike most villains, she actually knew she was fighting the greatest wizard of all time, and it doesn't even occur to her that this might be a really bad idea. Merlin proceeds to show the audience just why this was a bad idea: by exploding her with lightning in what some fans consider the best Crowning Moment of Awesome in the entire show.
- Unknown Rival: Though she is a formidable opponent, most of her evil plans are done from a distance, and Prince Arthur never discovers who she truly is after she pulls a Decoy Damsel on him. She interacts only once with King Uther (who would be her major foe) but then dies in the season finale without having any sort of confrontation with either Uther or Arthur. In fact, it's unclear whether they even know that she's dead.
- Water Source Tampering: In The Mark of Nimueh to create a Mystical Plague.
- We Can Rule Together: She tries this with Merlin. It doesn't work.
- Vain Sorceress: Nimueh looks like she takes care of her appearance quite a bit.
Lancelot (Santiago Cabrera)
"I would die for you one hundred times over. Live for me, or everything that I am has been for nothing."
A commoner who desires to become a knight of Camelot. He shares a brief romance with Gwen and becomes one of Merlin's long-term Secret Keepers. He appeared in the first, second, third and fourth series.
- Back from the Dead: In season four by Morgana. Although, Lancelot came back as a shade.
- Betty: To Arthur's Veronica.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards Merlin. Lancelot is seen to be highly protective of him.
- Big Brother Mentor: To Merlin.
- Big Damn Heroes: With Percival.
- Bodyguard Crush: With Gwen. But this pertains more to the original Arthurian legend although it can also apply to the series.
- Came Back Wrong: Deliberately so on Morgana's part.
- Catchphrase: In the three episodes named after him he utters the phrase: "My name is Lancelot". In all three cases, it's his first line of the episode.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Always between what he wants and what he thinks he deserves. In his first appearance it was between becoming a knight of Camelot and staying true to his ideals by not taking credit for something Merlin achieved; in later episodes it exists between his fealty to Arthur and his desire for Guinevere.
- Dying as Yourself: When he dies the second time, he thanks Merlin for freeing him from Morgana's spell.
- Everything but the Girl
- Evil Costume Switch: When he comes Back from the Dead as Morgana's Unwitting Pawn, he's dressed in black. It's a wonder the good guys didn't notice...
- Expy: Of Oliver Queen.
- Failed a Spot Check: He did not, which is the reason he is aware of Merlins magic. He clearly overheard Merlins incantation that helped him kill the Griffin. Worthy of noticing that he has been the only character to come to this logical conclusion.
- The Fettered: Lancelot is such a gentleman and so noble.
- Foil: To Arthur. He adheres to the same knightly code of honour but is unfailingly nice and polite as opposed to Arthur's temper tantrums (especially early on in the series). And he's the accessible with open admiration suitor to Gwen in contrast to Arthur's Uptown Girl and hot-cold attitude.
- Go Out with a Smile: Twice, even.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Merlin. It helps that they both think the world of each other.
- Honor Before Reason: Rejects the offer of becoming a real knight of Camelot in favor of first being true to himself.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: The kindest, nicest and most noble of all the knights.
- I Gave My Word: In The Darkest Hour he promises Gwen that he'll protect Arthur, no matter what. He sacrifices himself to uphold the promise.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Leaves in Season 2 after realizing that Arthur is in love with Gwen, and he doesn't want to come in between them.
- And again in The Darkest Hour in which he sacrifices himself to preserve the Arthur/Gwen relationship.
- Killed Off for Real: The writers have confirmed that his story arc is finished, and he won't return to life again.
- Lady and Knight: With Gwen.
- Longing Look: His expression of choice whenever in the vicinity of Guinevere.
- Muggle Best Friend: To Merlin. He was also the first person outside of Gauis that discovered Merlin's magic.
- Nice Guy: Is he ever. Perhaps the nicest, kindest and noblest person in the entire series. Even Kilgharrah mentions this to Lancelot.
- Rags to Riches: Sort of. He goes from a poor commoner with no title to his name to a Knight of Camelot in season three.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Lancelot is the Blue to Arthur's Red. While Lancelot is more sensitive, calm, and compassionate, Arthur is more passionate, impulsive and hot-headed.
- Rescue Romance: Played straight and then subverted in Lancelot and Guinevere. The two of them bond extremely quickly due to the life-or-death situation they find themselves in, but it is actually Arthur who ends up saving both of them.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: In the love triangle between himself, Arthur and Gwen. Lancelot is a commoner (Poor Suitor) and Arthur is a wealthy royal (Rich Suitor).
- Romantic False Lead: His reappearance causes some conflict to the Arthur/Gwen romance.
- Scars Are Forever: Subverted. In 2x04 he's given a scar on his cheek which has disappeared by his next appearance in series 3.
- Secret Keeper: One of only two regular characters that knows Merlin's secret.
- Self-Made Man: Born a commoner.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The Sensitive Guy to Arthur's Manly Man.
- Also the Sensitive Guy to Gwaine and Percival's Manly Man.
- Soulless Shell: In 4x09, thanks to Morgana.
- Spanner in the Works: To Arthur and Guinevere's relationship.
- Starcrossed Lovers: With Gwen oh so much. In the Arthurian legends, their love affair is just, if not, even more tragic.
- True Companions: With Merlin, Arthur and the Knights at the Round Table.
Mordred (Asa Butterfield & Alexander Vlahos)
"My name is Mordred."
Mordred is a young Druid boy who Morgana grows instantly attached to. According to the Great Dragon, Mordred will one day kill Arthur. Merlin's desire to help Mordred becomes heavily strained because of this. Also, another prophecy states that Mordred and Morgana will be united in evil. He appears in the first, second and fifth series.
- Adorkable: When the older knights tease him.
- Badass Cape: When Mordred became a knight.
- Future Badass: Mordred goes from a small, unknown Druid boy from a small village, to a knight of Camelot under King Arthur's rule. Not only that, but in the future, he is the ultimate demise of King Arthur.
- Evil Costume Switch: Like when Lancelot comes back as a shade and wears all black. When Mordred runs away from Camelot and join Morgana his costume changes to a darker color scheme. At Wales Comic Con in 2017 Alexander Vlahos, Rupert Young, and Tom Hopper joked about Mordred going into the dark chain mail store on his way to Morgana
- Because You Were Nice to Me: This is most likely the cause of Mordred's loyalty towards Morgana.
- He also wants to save Arthur 'cause Arthur saved him when he was a child.
- Beware the Quiet Ones: When Mordred was a child, he didn't talk much, if ever. But he smashed a mirror with his powers when he was angry and upset over one of his kind being executed. That was a clear sign to not mess with this kid.
- Big Bad: Eventually.
- Big Brother Worship: Towards Arthur. Ironic, considering Mordred is his son in the legends.
- Considering that Mordred was originally just another foe of Arthur's in the earliest tellings (who was upgraded to major villain and Arthur's incestuous spawn in later tellings - Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory can probably be credited for this), one can argue that this is Mordred's character being brother full-circle.
- Broken Pedestal: All the time. He idolized Merlin, who's like the magic world's greatest rockstar, but who keeps trying to kill him for no reason. He has a special bond with Morgana, who was sweet and caring, and she became a vengeful woman driven by hate. He worships Arthur, and he has his beloved hanged. He considers the knights friends, and they let him down when he needed them the most.
- The Bus Came Back: He's been recast for series five.
- Creepy Blue Eyes: His unblinking gray-blue eyes when he is a child can be quite unsettling.
- Cute Bruiser: As a child, he was a Druid with great strength and power.
- Cute Warlock: When he was a young child.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His father was killed; he was injured and sentenced to death; he saw his village destroyed; he was hunted down and forced to kill and after the Time Skip he said he learned to keep a low profile to not be burned to the stake or sold out. Also, considering how clueless he is about the Old Religion, he probably didn't meet other sorcerers after leaving Alvarr.
- Designated Villain: He is prophesied to be the one who will kill Arthur. When he was still a child and apparently did no harm, the Great Dragon bluntly told Merlin to leave him to his death. Later Merlin himself adopts the belief that Mordred will be up to no good.
- The Dreaded: To Merlin, who believes that he'll one day kill Arthur. Which he does, but only because the entire situation was a twisted Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
- Druid Boy
- Evil Sorcerer: A very young one.
- Foil: To Merlin. They are both born having powerful magic with grand destinies. Both serve Arthur in hope to find acceptance. Their love interests die by Arthur's hand. Merlin forgives Arthur for failing to live up to expectation. Mordred does not.
- Foreshadowing: He will someday kill Arthur.
- Right now there is a proper vision of him killing/wounding Arthur.
- Freudian Excuse: Mordred's storyline starts with him seriously injured by Camelot's guards and his father executed by Uther; then he is imprisoned and sentenced to death. He returned to his people only to have his mentor killed, his village destroyed by Arthur and he's forced to leave Morgana to save himself. After that he's openly hostile to the Pendragons, plus his caretaker is Alvarr; then Merlin, someone he considers sort of an ally, sides with Camelot instead. Three episodes, and he already has a hell of a Freudian Excuse for the day he will be the Big Bad.
- And now the girl he loved gets killed on Arthur's orders.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: In his first appearance he was just a helpless kid. With each subsequent episode he displays considerably more power, until he returns as an adult, and is one of the few villains who not only unnerves Merlin, but genuinely terrifies him.
- Glass-Shattering Sound: Mordred's screaming is so powerful that it has literally broken and shattered a glass mirror.
- Heartwarming Orphan: Subverted. He did have traces of it at the start, but at the same time he was also a Creepy Child from Day One.
- HeelFace Revolving Door: Though he's supposedly destined to kill Arthur, his loyalties are hard to determine, especially when he turns on Morgana and stabs her In the Back, saving Arthur's life in the process.
- He has a FaceHeel Turn in 5x11.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: No one is quite sure what he's up to (if anything), least of all Merlin.
- I Know Your True Name: He constantly (but telepathically) refers to Merlin as "Emrys"; in fact, he's the first person in the show to mention that name to Merlin.
- In the Hood: Often wore hoods both as a child and as an adult.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: When he first appears.
- Innocence Lost: Probably because destiny says so: he has to kill Arthur, so a lot happens to make him change from a scared little boy to a vindictive kid.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Whenever Mordred kills knights. It's sociopathic and Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, especially for a kid that was raised by pacifists, but the people he was killing were intent on either killing a boy who was, from their perspective, a defenseless child, or dragging him off to Uther, who has had children drowned in the past.
- Killer Rabbit: As a child, he was cute, adorable but very creepy and dangerous.
- Little Mister Badass: As demonstrated when he kicked the asses of a bunch of Camelot's guards with his magic in 2x03 and 2x11.
- Magic Knight: In 5x01, we see a prophetic vision of Mordred on the battlefield, wearing chainmail and wielding a BFS.
- Make Me Wanna Shout: When his father in Series 1 and girlfriend in Series 5 are killed, his scream shatters a mirror in the former case and breaks the prison door in the latter.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: He seems able to sense Merlin/Emrys' presence. He can also sense the deaths of his father and girlfriend.
- Mysterious Past: Particularly in the Time Skips. How'd he go from Iseldir's care to Aglaine's care to Alvarr's care to working with bandits?
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mordred
- Now, Let Me Carry You: Mordred is glad to take care of an injured Morgana, in thanks for her previously caring for him.
- Not So Different: To Merlin. Both were born having powerful magic and have to hide their talents to non-magical people. Lampshaded by Mordred himself.Mordred: We are not so different. You and I.
- Oracular Urchin: It would seem so, as Alvarr says Mordred is the only one powerful enough to use the Crystal of Neahtid. Considering even Merlin had trouble with it, this would suggest great power indeed.
- Parental Abandonment: His father died and his mother was never mentioned in the first place.
- Parental Substitute: Not very lucky with them: the first one was killed by Camelot's knights and the second was a Manipulative Bastard who wants to use him and Morgana to bring Uther down.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Oddly, teen-Mordred seems a puppy who's trying to be loved much more than child-Mordred.
- Put on a Bus: Unfortunately, Asa Butterfield (Mordred) wasn't in Season 3 and 4 because of scheduled filming conflicts. He ran off into the forest at the end of season two and isn't seen until season 5.
- Reformed, but Rejected: Seems the case with Merlin: since his returning Mordred has done anything evil or wrong, he actually saved Arthur life twice, one almost dying in the process, but Merlin doesn't trust him and basically wants him dead.
- Rule of Three: Has appeared three times in the first two seasons.
- With the recasting he is in three seasons.
- Scarf of Asskicking: And it's bigger than Merlin's.
- Schiff One-Liner/Wham Line: 1x08 when he reveals his identity — the above quote.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Suggested in Season 5; looking at how his storyline ended, it's not hard to argue that he only defected to Morgana in the end because Merlin's inability to trust him drove him to turn against Camelot as a whole.
- The Sociopath: A budding example, though his personality actually improves by season 5.
- Sonic Scream: His most distinctive attack as a child, using it against the knights attacking him.
- Start of Darkness: In 2x03 Mordred is forced to kill some soldiers in self-defense, but shows absolutely no remorse.
- The Team Wannabe: Looks like Mordred really wants to be part of something, and he's trying really hard to gain Merlin's trust and friendship.
- Telepathy: Has contacted several characters — including Merlin and Morgana — with his thoughts.
- This Is Unforgivable!: When Merlin attempts to prevent Mordred from escaping the Camelot knights in 2x11, Mordred ends up killing the knights and warning Merlin telepathically that he will not forgive Merlin nor will he forget this betrayal.
- Looks like he did forgive him, though: some things he said seems to imply that Mordred considers his old attitude a result of being a child, not fully understanding what was going on and all the implications.
- Harming his beloved is an entirely different thing.
- Looks like he did forgive him, though: some things he said seems to imply that Mordred considers his old attitude a result of being a child, not fully understanding what was going on and all the implications.
- Time-Shifted Actor: Thanks to the Time Skips between seasons, it's been seven years since Mordred was last seen, thus allowing Alexander Vlahos to step in as an older version of the same character.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Merlin is shocked when he witnesses Mordred killing several knights with a Sonic Scream - even worse is the kid's reaction - he looks around at the bodies with a small smile and casually runs away.
- The Voiceless: Played straight in 1x08, where Morgana start to wonder if he's too afraid to speak or he can't. In later episodes Mordred is more verbal, but still seems to prefer telepathy over voice.
- Witch Species: Mordred is a Druid with magical abilities.
- Wild Card: Season 5. Stabs Morgana in the back, joins the knights, shows kindness to the prisoners, doesn't use his magic, and doesn't reveal Merlin's identity to either Arthur or Morgana. The show's been doing a very good job not letting us know if he's heel or face until his Face-Heel Turn in 2x11.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Or so it would seem.
- You Are Not Alone: He tries this on Merlin and Morgana in 5x02, only to be cold-shouldered by Merlin and on the receiving end of a crazy rant from Morgana. One gets the sense that he chose Arthur not just because I Owe Him My Life but because he doesn't fully trust the only other two magic users on the show.
Sir Leon (Rupert Young)
A Knight of Camelot seen throughout series 2 and made a semi-regular in the third, fourth and fifth series.
- Action Hero: He's a Knight of Camelot who uses combat to solve missions.
- Ascended Extra: Goes from being a background Knight to one of Arthur's closest friends.
- Back Story: Is linked with Gwen. We find out at the end of season 3 that her mother was a maid in his family's household, and the two of them grew up together.
- Badass Normal: It really shines in The Tears of Uther Pendragon.
- Bearer of Bad News: It's usually his job to inform people that evil forces are advancing on Camelot.
- Big Brother Instinct: Like the other knights, Leon is seen to be protective of Merlin.
- Canon Foreigner: On account of him starting as a Bit Character and becoming an Ascended Extra thanks to the actor's popularity among the rest of the cast, Sir Leon is the only knight of the Round Table that has no basis in Arthurian legend.
- Characterization Marches On: In one of his first appearances (The Witchfinder) he is shown tearing apart Gaius's study in an attempt to find evidence of magic, smashing bottles and overturning tables. It's difficult to imagine the later, more gentler, Leon doing such a thing.
- Childhood Friends: With Guinevere.
- The Lancer: To Arthur.
- Like Brother and Sister: With Gwen. See Childhood Friends.
- Number Two: He seems to be this to Arthur among the Knights.
- Older and Wiser: Among the Knights. And it shows, as he is often calm, collected and sensible.
- Remember the New Guy?: Supposedly, he and Arthur have been friends for ages, but he barely shows up in Season 1, if at all.
- Romance on the Set: There are persistent rumors that he's dating Angel Coulby.
- Shirtless Scene: Which cemented his position as a major cast member.
- Unexplained Recovery: Known amongst fans for being "immortal". Got fried by a dragon at the end of one series, was completely fine at the beginning of the next. Later seemed to have died during an attack on his patrol but survived certain death by drinking from a magical cup given to him by the druids and returned to Camelot more or less unharmed. And now, contrary to all reasonable expectations, he has actually survived the whole series. Something Arthur didn't manage to do. He's even in one of the last shots.
Morgause (Emilia Fox)
"Arthur Pendragon, a great destiny awaits you. The battle for your soul is about to begin."
A mysterious sorceress who has a connection to Morgana, Morgause desires the doom of Uther and Camelot. She appears in the second, third and fourth series.
- Action Girl: So much that she can best Arthur, the best swordsman in Camelot, in a duel. She's one of only four villains in the series to be more powerful than Merlin, the others being Nimeu, Cornealius Sigan and the troll who masquerades as Lady Catrina.
- Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Is fond of caressing Morgana's face. Morgana doesn't seem to mind. At all.
- Badass Boast: "The tears of Uther Pendragon have only begun to fall."
- The Baroness: The Rosa Klebb type.
- Beauty Is Bad: Very beautiful and very, very dangerous.
- Big Bad: Of season three, after being built up some during season two.
- Big Sister Instinct/Cool Big Sis: Towards Morgana. Seriously, what sister would give you a kingdom to reign over?
- Breakout Villain: She was only going to be around for a couple of episodes until the writers released how important she was to Morgana's Story Arc.
- Chainmail Bikini: Averted. She gears up for combat appropriately.
- The Chessmaster: Is shown repeatedly to be a master manipulator, examining her pawns through a crystal ball in her lair, like Nimue.
- The Corrupter: Seduces Morgana to her cause.
- Dark Action Girl: A formidable fighter, military and political strategist and powerful magic-user, who is portrayed as an antagonist and doesn't care if innocent people are killed in the pursuit of her goals.
- The Determinator: She won't rest until Uther and Camelot are overthrown and magic is returned to the land, to the point that she's willing to sacrifice her life to tear the veil between worlds. She passes her ruthless determination onto the decidedly less competent Morgana.
- Enemy Mine/Fire-Forged Friends: Morgause and Cenred seem to be allies over their mutual hatred for Uther.
- Evil Sorceress
- Eye Color Change: When Morgause uses magic, her eyes become golden-coloured.
- Girly Bruiser: Morgause is reasonably feminine and she can kick some major ass.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: The evil kind.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Morgana.
- High Priestess: Of the Old Religion.
- Hot Witch: Is played by the very good-looking Emilia Fox and is depicted as very attractive to most people who meet her. Katie Mc Grath on the audio commentary remarks on Emilia's attractiveness.
- Ice Queen: Morgause is cold, ruthless and uncaring.
- Kick the Dog: Putting a spell on Morgana to make her the vessel to summon the Knights of Medhir in order to destroy Camelot without telling Morgana probably wasn't Morgause's best idea in the world...
- Killed Off for Real: By Morgana in the series 4 premiere. It's a Mercy Kill, with Morgause's full consent.
- Knight Templar Big Sister
- Lack of Empathy: Morgause has no guilt or remorse for who she hurts.
- Lady in Red: Wears a pretty slinky red dress at times.
- Lady of Black Magic: Well, duh!
- Long-Lost Relative: To Morgana.
- Magic Knight: She's a witch and also a very skilled swordswoman.
- Manipulative Bitch: And how.
- Master Swordswoman: She can give Arthur a run for his money in a sword challenge or duel.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Morgause.
- Only Mostly Dead: Apparently killed in the season 3 finale, but she comes back in season 4. Given her mutated face, it's clear that she and Morgana went to extreme lengths to keep her alive.
- Only One Name: We never find out her last name.
- Pet the Dog: In spite of her plot to murder Uther, Morgause does find time to reunite with her half-sister Morgana and give her a bracelet that would help her sleep. And help her take over Camelot...
- Remember the New Guy?: Partially justified in that she and Morgana were deliberately kept apart.
- The Reveal: She is Morgana's half-sister. Though it's not totally clear through which parent they're related, popular Fan Wank is that they share a mother: Vivienne.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: With Morgana.
- Samus Is a Girl: Her badass debut.
- Smug Super: She's one of the most powerful characters in the series and loves to lord her superiority over everyone else.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: When using magic.
- Thanatos Gambit: She ensures that her death furthers Morgana's cause.
- Undying Loyalty: To her half sister, Morgana.
- Unkempt Beauty: When fully armored. Otherwise, she seems to take time to style her hair and also dress very nicely.
- The Vamp: She can be very seductive, especially if Morgana or Cenred are in the room, though it's just a manipulative ruse in the case of the latter.
- Villains Never Lie: Everything she tells/shows Arthur about his mother is the truth, and it's Merlin that has to coax Arthur back into believing the lies surrounding the circumstances of his birth.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist
Freya (Laura Donnelly)
"You already saved me. You made me feel loved."
Freya is a young Druid woman with a dark secret who Merlin protects from captivity. They develop a strong bond in the process. Freya becomes Merlin's first love. She appears in The Lady of the Lake, The Coming of Arthur Part II and The Diamond of the Day Part II. note
- Adaptational Heroism: In some depictions, the Lady of the Lake learns magic from Merlin and eventually traps him in the trunk of a tree. Here, she helps save Camelot by advising Merlin and giving him Excalibur.
- Back for the Finale: Of series three and five.
- Beauty = Goodness: Although she was cursed, Freya was a kind and good-hearted individual.
- Beauty to Beast: Played straight due to her being cursed. When Freya transforms into the Bastet monster, she goes from being a fragile, beautiful girl to a huge, flying, and unattractive beast.
- Birds of a Feather: Merlin is able to develop such a strong bond with newcomer Freya because of the fact that they are both born of magic and must keep it a secret. In the process, they fall in love.
- Break His Heart to Save Him: Freya runs away so that Merlin doesn't lose his chance at a good life in Camelot.
- Brooding Girl, Gentle Boy: Gender-Inverted. Freya is the Brooding Girl to Merlin's Gentle Boy. Merlin manages to make brooding, isolated and cursed Freya feel happy and loved.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Freya has a hard time expressing how she's feeling about everything basically.
- Chekhov's Gunman: She returns at the end of Season 3 in order to deliver Excalibur into Merlin's hands so that he can defeat the immortal army.
- The Cutie: Freya is very endearing.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Freya was attacked and almost raped by a man and she killed him in self defence. After the man's mother, who was a sorceress found out what Freya had done to her son, she cursed Freya to become the Bastet so that she was cursed to kill forever against her will.
- Dark Secret: Freya is cursed and is a Bastet, which is a winged panther.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Perhaps. Freya turns into a Bastet because she killed a man in self-defence and was subsequently cursed by his vengeful mother. That's Freya's version of events, and there's no in-show reason to disbelieve her.
- Emotionless Girl: Freya appears this way at first, but it turns out the reason for this is because Freya is hiding a deep, dark secret.
- Enigmatic Empowering Entity: In her second appearance. Freya becomes the Lady of The Lake and returns as a spirit to deliver Excalibur into Merlin's hands.
- First Love: For Merlin. Merlin fell hard for Freya, so much so that he wanted to run away with her and choose her over his destiny.
- Giant Flyer: In her winged panther form.
- Go Out with a Smile: Freya manages one before she dies.
- Hero's Muse: For Merlin. Freya eventually becomes The Lady Of The Lake and assists Merlin, her First Love and The Hero, on his journey and his quests by retrieving Excalibur for Merlin whenever he or Arthur needs it.
- Hidden Depths: Freya appears as a regular girl but she actually suffered a lot of trauma due to her dark and troubled past. She is also cursed with being a Bastet.
- Involuntary Shapeshifting: She transforms into a giant winged panther at the stroke of midnight.
- I Am a Monster: Freya thinks of herself as this.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Which is understandable considering that she had her free will and her humanity taken away from her against her will.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: It was pretty obvious that Freya was lonely and yearned for love and friendship. Merlin gave that to her.
- Kill the Cutie: She's nice, sweet, and gentle. Guess what happens?
- The Lost Lenore: She's this for Merlin.
- Love at First Sight: With Merlin.
- Love Interest: For Merlin. Turns out that Freya is the first and last girl that Merlin was ever in love with for the entire series. Since Freya died, Merlin hasn't shown that much romantic interest in another girl. Heartbreaking.
- Love Redeems: She's not evil, but Freya says that Merlin's love for her saved her in more than one way.
- Meaningful Look/Longing Look: Shares these with Merlin.
- Meaningful Name: Even though "Freya" isn´t one of the names given to the Lady of the Lake in the Arthurian legend, her name is Old Norse for "Lady", and alludes to Freyja, a goddess associated with love who rules over the fields of Fólkvangr, ''where half of those that die in battle go upon death.''
- Mix-and-Match Critter: Freya in her Bastet form has a panther's body and bat wings.
- Monster Sob Story: See Dark and Troubled Past.
- Mysterious Waif: Very little is known about her background.
- One-Shot Character: With the exception of a cameo in Season 3.
- The One That Got Away: She represents this for Merlin.
- Panthera Awesome: The Bastet form.
- The Promise: Freya to Merlin: "Someday I will repay you." She does once she becomes the Lady of the Lake.
- Rescue Romance: With Merlin. Merlin rescues Freya from being captured as a slave.
- Satellite Love Interest: She gets one scene in which she's permitted to share details of her past (and even that is more of a Mythology Gag that establishes her affinity for lakes), the rest of the time she only exists so that Merlin can be her Caretaker, enjoy openly using his magic in front of her, and experience manpain when she dies. It's especially glaring when he takes her to a lakeside in order to Let Her Die Happy and she mutters: "you remembered..." Well of course he remembered — her love of lakes is the only personal detail she ever shares with him!
- Secret Identity: Freya was the Bastet but nobody knew that at first.
- Secret Keeper: One of the few characters who knew about Merlin's magic and secret identity.
- Secret Relationship: With Merlin. Nobody knew that Merlin was in love with Freya, not even Gaius.
- Shrinking Violet: Freya comes off as really shy and introverted.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Her relationship with Merlin. Although, she didn't seek to fall in love with Merlin. Merlin sought her out and fell HARD and she reciprocated.
- So Happy Together: With Merlin. Sadly, it doesn't last.
- Spirit Advisor: For Merlin. Freya becomes the Lady of the Lake who will help Merlin.
- Starcrossed Lovers: With Merlin
- Her romance with Merlin was implied to have been known or destined according to the Fisher King in 3x08.
- The Quiet One: Doesn't talk very much, and when it does, it's often in a whisper.
Cenred (Tom Ellis)
The ruler of the rivaling kingdom of Cenred (named after himself), Cenred seeks the downfall of Uther and Camelot by becoming an accomplice of Morgause's. He appears in The Tears of Uther Pendragon Part I and II, The Castle of Fyrien and The Coming of Arthur Part I.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Was first mentioned in 1x10.
- Enemy Mine/Fire-Forged Friends: Morgause and Cenred seem to be allies over their mutual hatred for Uther.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He refuses to let his army die and withdraws the battle against Camelot once he realizes they can't win.
- Oh, Crap!: When he realizes Morgause is going to kill him, and there's nothing he can do about it.
- Ship Tease: There seems to be something going on between Cenred and Morgause. According to Morgause, Cenred only wishes to please her.Cenred: You are very beautiful when you're angry.Morgause: Is that why you continue to defy me?Cenred: You wouldn't like it if I made it easy for you.
- And this:Morgause: Of course you do. After all, you stand to gain much from Arthur's death.Cenred: I don't deny it. But I'm rich and powerful already. I do this only to please you.Morgause: (with a seductive look) Is that so? Then please me.
- And this:
- The Unfought: He barely interacts with any of the good guys, and is ultimately killed by Morgause. (He does briefly get in a Sword Fight with Arthur, but it's in a Deleted Scene for The Castle of Fyrien and occurs off-screen).
Gwaine (Eoin Macken)
"If there's one thing that I learned from my father's life is that titles don't mean anything. It's what's inside that counts".
A man who saves Arthur during a brawl at a town tavern, Gwaine is given hospitality at Camelot until his injuries heal. He resents nobles and is secretly the son of a knight. He helps Merlin in protecting Arthur from danger during the melee. He is a future Knight of the Round Table. He appears in the third, fourth and fifth series.
- The Alcoholic: Though not, by any means, in a bad way. Most of the time.
- Badass Normal: So, so badass.
- Big Brother Instinct: Seems to have adopted this stance toward Merlin and Elyan, the youngest of the new knights.
- Big Brother Mentor: To Merlin.
- Big Damn Heroes: Three times no less.
- Blue Blood: Gwaine comes from a noble family, although Gwaine never acknowledges it in the beginning.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Gwaine is friendly, extroverted, charming and fun-loving.
- The Charmer: Flirts with Gwen in a playful manner, but when he notices Gwen's feelings for Arthur, the two remain good friends. In fact, their "friendliness" is enough to rile Arthur's jealousy (and Merlin's amusement of said jealousy).
- Deadpan Snarker: He loves his Snark-to-Snark Combat with Arthur and Merlin.
- Demoted to Extra: He became this in series four and five - oddly enough, he got more screen-time and characterization as a guest star than as a series regular.
- Disappeared Dad: Which gives Merlin and Gwaine something to bond about.
- The Drifter: At least until he's knighted.
- Dual Wielding: And he makes it Badass.
- Foil: To Arthur. According to the creators, Gwaine shows the possible friendship between Arthur and Merlin had Arthur not been royalty and is genuinely nice to Merlin (this review says it best). He's also defiant to Camelot's elitism as opposed to Arthur, who upholds it. Last but not least, he's fun-loving, casual and a flirt as opposed to Arthur's formality.
- Freudian Trio: In the Power Trio of himself (Strength), Merlin (Magic) and Arthur (Courage), Gwaine is The McCoy/Id (Fun-loving, roguish, carefree, rebellious, daredevil) to Arthur's The Spock/Superego (Stoic, serious, strategic, noble, courageous) and Merlin's The Kirk/Ego (Balanced, neutral, peacemaker, the mediator between the opposing personalities of Arthur and Gwaine, friends with both Arthur and Gwaine). See The McCoy.
- Guest-Star Party Member: Throughout series three, before becoming a regular recurring character in series four.
- Hair Flip: Reached Memetic Mutation status by the end of his first episode.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He's often seen with Percival, the two implied to have become close friends.
- His friendship with Merlin.
- Hidden Depths: He seems like an alcoholic Pretty Boy, but he's an expert swordsman and smarter than he looks.
- Honey Trap: Falls into one at the hands of Eira in a subversion of the Rescue Romance. He does figure it out pretty quickly, though, and is able to use her to feed Morgana false information. He seems pretty shaken by the whole thing despite previous hints that he is something of a womanizer.
- Honor Before Reason: Refuses to expose his identity as the son of a knight out of his resentment towards nobles — when Gwaine's father, a knight, died, Gwaine and his mother were left penniless, and the king in their land refused to give them any compensation. Gwaine would later change his opinion of Arthur after Arthur defends him.
- Killed Off for Real: As of The Diamond of the Day Part 2.
- King Incognito: Gwaine isn't royalty, but secretly comes from a noble family, seeing as his father was a knight.
- Knight Errant: Gwaine is a knight but he's also a bit of a drifter.
- Knight In Shining Armour: Gwaine becomes knight of Camelot in season three.
- Knight In Sour Armor: A minor example. His friendship with Merlin seems to be wearing down his cynicism.
- Knight, Knave and Squire: Gwaine is The Knave to Merlin's The Squire and Arthur's The Knight. They are also a trio of Magic (Merlin), Courage (Arthur) and Strength (Gwaine), according to Grettir.
- Man Hug: Gives one to Merlin in 3x08, being the first one to hug Merlin.
- And again in 4x02 when Merlin comes back, healed and alive after the Dorocha attack.
- The McCoy/Id (Freudian Trio): In the trio between himself (Strength), Merlin (Magic) and Arthur (Courage), Gwaine is The McCoy to Merlin's The Kirk and Arthur's The Spock.
- Muggle Best Friend: To Merlin.
- Noble Male, Roguish Male: Gwaine and Arthur with Gwaine as the Roguish Male to Arthur's Noble Male.
- Interestingly enough, both Merlin and Gwaine are Roguish Males in comparison to Arthur who is a Noble Male.
- Odd Friendship: With Merlin. The two seem to have absolutely nothing in common, but bond fairly quickly.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Gwaine is one of the most humorous characters in the series, especially alongside Merlin.
- The Prankster: Enjoys teasing and playing jokes on Merlin and the other knights.
- Shirtless Scene: At least three in his introductory episode (oddly enough, titled Gwaine) — and if he is wearing a shirt, the collar of said shirt is at least hanging open enough to give the audience something to look at.
- The Slacker: Even after becoming a Knight of Camelot, he's the one most likely to be goofing off.
- The Snark Knight: Gwaine is the king of sarcasm and snark.
Elyan (Adetomiwa Edun)
Gwen: "He's just one of those people, never settled down, never thinks about the future, just follows his heart wherever it leads him".
Guinevere's estranged brother and only sibling. He appears in the third, fourth and fifth series.
- Aloof Younger Brother: Often away traveling from one place to another and never even visited Gwen when their father died.
- Big Brother Instinct: Like the other knights, he is protective of Merlin.
- Black Dude Dies First: Averted.
- Deadpan Snarker: On seeing the ruined castle that Arthur has brought them to, he comments: "It's gotta be better than that cave."
- Death In The Limelight: In the "The Dark Tower". In series 3, Elyan is introduced and knighted. The writers went on to do absolutely nothing with his character until mid-series 5, in an episode which explored his relationship to his sister, made him the key figure in a rescue mission, and gave him more lines than in any previous episodes. Any viewer could see the giant bullseye on his head from the very first scene. Elyan did get a Day in the Limelight episode in season 4 (that revolved around him being Brainwashed and Crazy and trying to murder Arthur) but he's still an excellent example of this trope.
- Demonic Possession: In 4x10
- Heroes Prefer Swords
- I See Dead People: In 4x10
- Long Lost Sibling: To Guinevere. Elyan is Gwen's younger brother.
- Now, Let Me Carry You: He pledges his fealty to Arthur in repayment for the rescue Arthur undertakes in The Castle of Fyrien.
- Race Lift: The legendary Elyan was known as "Elyan the White". In the series, he's played by a black actor. Granted, "the White" would have referred to his pure soul, but it's still pretty funny.
- Remember the New Guy?: Partially justified in that he and Guinevere were estranged for years.
- Shipper on Deck: At the very least, he certainly isn't opposed to his sister Gwen dating the Prince of Camelot, judging by the smile on his face when they kiss at the end of The Coming of Arthur Part II.
Percival (Tom Hopper)
"Your enemies are my enemies."
A warrior who arrives with Lancelot in order to help Arthur and his loyalists take back Camelot. Having showed up in the very last episode of the third season, we learn very little about him. He appeared in the third, fourth and fifth series.
- Adaptational Badass: In the original legends he is the epitome of Good Is Dumb and Idiot Hero; here, he is the strong, silent type and more than capable of holding his own.
- Badass Normal: Percival is a knight of Camelot and a skilled swordsman. Bordering on Super Strength.
- Big Brother Instinct: Was seen to be very gentle and caring towards Merlin in 4x02 when he carried him.
- Big Damn Heroes: With Lancelot.
- The Big Guy: Percival is the tallest of the knights. Tom is also the tallest member of the Merlin cast.
- Dog Pile of Doom: Though he throws it off pretty quickly.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Bradley James has freely admitted to having a man-crush on Tom Hopper.
- Friend to All Children: His Establishing Character Moment in the first episode of season 4 is to endanger his own life to save three frightened children by carrying them all to safety in his arms.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He's often seen with Gwaine, the two implied to have become close friends.
- One Head Taller: He towers over the rest of the characters.
- Pietà Plagiarism: In 4x02 he carries Merlin in this manner.
- Shirtless Scene: He finally gets an extended one in 5x01 and 5x02.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: He's got them in the featured picture, but most of the time his armour is sleeveless, the better to show off Tom Hopper's rather extraordinary biceps.
- The Quiet One: Rarely says more than he needs to. For example, when Arthur is asking the other knights to join him in retaking Camelot, Percival's simple response? "My enemies are your enemies."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A mild one, since it's the last episode, but Percival is last seen tracking Arthur and Merlin. He's back at Gwen's coronation, though.
Lord Agravaine de Bois (Nathaniel Parker)
Gaius: "I suspect he's not as virtuous as he seems."
Arthur's uncle on his mother's side, Agravaine has been helping his nephew run the kingdom during Uther's sickness. It soon becomes clear that he's not a man to be trusted. He appears only in the fourth series.
- All Love Is Unrequited: He seems to have a thing for Morgana. She couldn't care less.
- Arc Villain: Agravaine has a huge influence in season four due to being the uncle of Arthur. He's pretty much one of the main villains alongside Morgana throughout season four.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Played very straight.
- Bridal Carry: Carries Morgana like this when he finds her injured in the forest in 4x05.
- The Chessmaster: Agravaine is very scheming and cunning.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: He wears black, as does Morgana. That pretty much sums it up.
- Consummate Liar: He can look his nephew in the eye and swear on his dead sister's life that he isn't betraying him. (He is).
- Cool Uncle: What Arthur sees him as.
- Dirty Old Man: Seems to be creepily fascinated by both Morgana and Guinevere, and enjoys standing behind their chairs with his hands close to their necks. Overlaps with Foe Yay and UST, especially in Morgana's case.
- The Dragon: To Morgana during season four.
- Evil Is Not Well-Lit: He is first introduced stepping out of the shadows.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: The Bad to Merlin's Good.
- Handsome Lech: A sinister version.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: He wants to sabotage Arthur's reign, but as of yet, we're not really sure why. Unless his hatred of Uther extends to Arthur by proxy.
- A Deleted Scene reveals that he's in love with Morgana.
- Hidden Depths: The end of 4x06 reveals that his feelings for Morgana run deeper than than we'd been led to expect.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Agravine is much more capable that Morgana as a manipulator and user of Xanatos Speed Chess. In fact, if it where not for devotion towards Morgana, he would be a much better villain.
- Karmic Death: Especially since no one really cares that he's dead.
- Killed Off for Real: By Merlin, in a rather badass fashion.
- Love Martyr: His devotion to Morgana is rather inexplicable considering she holds him in utter contempt.
- Manipulative Bastard: Oh so much.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: While Agravaine is a bad guy, Nathaniel Parker is just absolutely adorable. Just listen to his laugh in the bloopers.
- Obviously Evil: Painfully so.
- Oh, Crap!: A fairly priceless one◊ when Gwaine catches him about to slit Gaius's throat.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: As of 4x04 after Uther's death in 4x03, he's credited as a main cast member.
- Regent for Life: Played with. Though Arthur is more or less running Camelot, he appoints his uncle regent in his absence.
- Remember the New Guy?: The writers take advantage of a year's Time Skip between series three and four to introduce him as though he's been present in the kingdom all along. Even though he's never been mentioned before, there are lines like: "I promised your mother I'd always be there for you," and "I've known him since I was a child," though there's no indication where he's been all this time.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Dies unmourned and unburied in an underground cavern.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: After being introduced at the start of series 4 and promoted to the opening titles in episode 3, he's written out permanently at the end of that same season without really doing anything particularly memorable or important during his run. Even his death scene is all about Merlin.
- Thicker Than Water: Arthur's reason for trusting him so implicitly.
- Toxic Friend Influence: On Arthur
- What Measure Is a Mook?: His Plot Armour eventually fails him, and he is killed alongside a bunch of Faceless Mooks.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Especially throughout 4x6.
The White Dragon: Aithusa
"The white dragon bodes well for Albion, for you and Arthur, and for the land you will build together."
A white baby dragon that Merlin hatches from a long-dormant egg, and said to be a good omen for the coming Golden Age of Arthur's reign. The events of the series four finale throw this into some doubt. He appears in the fourth and fifth series.
- Ambiguous Gender: At his birth Kilgharrah identifies Aithusa as a "he", yet latest interviews with the cast refer to the dragon as a "she". It's either a Retcon or a Gender Flip.
- Break the Cutie: From season five, it is pretty evident that Aithusa was tortured and abused when he and Morgana were locked up and isolated for months.
- Breath Weapon: Aithusa shoots fire from his/her mouth as a defence weapon.
- Character Title: The episode in which he first appears is named after him.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Appears in the very last scene of series four in order to save Morgana's life.
- Cool Pet: To Morgana.
- Cuteness Proximity: Merlin is moved to tears.
- The Cutie: Oh so cute in the beginning.
- Diabolus ex Nihilo: In the series four finale.
- Egg MacGuffin: When he's introduced as an egg.
- FaceHeel Turn: Aithusa joined the dark side with Morgana.
- Giant Flyer: Later on, when he grows up.
- Go Mad from the Isolation: Not as much insane as very severely rattled, but at an attempt to attack Merlin and an inability to speak seem to indicate he's not all there.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: We're never given any clear idea why he sides with Morgana over Merlin and Kilgharrah.
- Kick the Dog: By all appearances, he went through a lot of crap between series 4 and 5. He's emaciated, limping, and can't talk (either because he was never taught or because of some injury). He seems pretty loyal to Morgana, so it seems unlikely that she's responsible.
- Finally explained in 5x08. He was trapped in a oubliette with Morgana for over 2 years and was left horribly crippled when he eventually outgrew his prison. According to his captor, his screams were even worse than Morgana's.
- Licked by the Dog: Aithusa's affection toward Morgana performs this function.
- Living Emotional Crutch: To Morgana. As of series 5, Aithusa seems to be the only thing keeping her tenuously sane.
- Meaningful Name: Means "light of the sun" in the language of dragons.
- Ironic Name: Due to Morgana being captured, he spent the first two years of his life trapped in a dark pit.
- Morality Pet: For Morgana in season four and five.
- Outside-Context Problem: No one yet knows why he chose to heal Morgana. And since he can't talk, he'll never be able to tell.
- Shoulder-Sized Dragon: In series 4. In series 5, not so much.
- Team Pet: For Morgana and her army.
- There Is Another: His birth means that Kilgharrah is no longer The Last of His Kind.
- Undying Loyalty: To Morgana.
- The Voiceless: Because apparently he's never learnt to speak.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Merlin sends Aithusa away from the battle in the Grand Finale, never to be seen or mentioned again for the rest of the episode.
Helios (Terence Maynard)
"Were you expecting something different? Perhaps campfires and raw meat."
A womanizing warlord that Morgana enlists in her crusade against Camelot and whose army attacks it at the end of series four. He appears in The Hunter's Heart and The Sword in the Stone Part I and II.
- Badass Normal: He's a Master Swordsman who defeats Arthur in a one-on-one duel. There's only a few other characters in the entire series who could claim that honor.
- Bald, Black Leader Guy: He's a warlord who fulfills every aspect of this trope.
- Barbarian Tribe: Subverted. When he wants to, he can be borderline Wicked Cultured.
- Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Implied between Helios and Guinevere.
- The Dragon: Seems to become this towards Morgana. Agravaine is smart enough to note that there is a big possibility that he's much more a Dragon with an Agenda. Then again, Agravaine may just be worried that he'll get replaced.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Although his intentions toward Guinevere were hardly pure, he avoids the Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil trope. Instead he seemed genuinely interested in her Back Story and lets her go without a fuss when she tells him that she's tired.
- It Amused Me: Unlike Morgana's Psychotic Smirk or Agravine's Smug Smiler attitude when things are going their way, Helios' smiles and chuckles are more of genuine amusement. There are hints of him being a bit of a Troll.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Helios is an Affably Evil version of this.
- Taking You with Me: Gets killed by Isolde, but uses his last energy to kill her in turn before dying.
- The Savage South: His mercenaries are referred to as "Southrons".
- The Unfettered: Devoted to Morgana in this sense, although we don't see much of him, and gives her his army. When she ends up not being able to use magic he calmly steps in to defend her without panicking or running.
Geoffrey of Monmouth (Michael Cronin)
Camelot's court genealogist, though he also works as a librarian, is a member of the royal council, and officiates over weddings and coronations. He appeared in the first four series, but not the fifth.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: He's usually present, considering he's the one who officiates over them.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: He disappears completely after 4x02.
- Mr. Exposition: Usually when Gaius is unavailable for some reason.
- Mythology Gag: Geoffrey of Monmouth was real person; a 12th century bishop who was one of the earliest writers of tales of King Arthur and his father Uther.
- Spooky Silent Library: He works in one.
Parents of the Main Cast
Hunith (Caroline Faber)
"It is every mother's fate to think her child is special, and yet I would give my life that Merlin were not so."
Merlin's mother, who sends her only son to Camelot at the start of the series in the hopes that he will learn to control his magical abilities under the guidance of her (much) older brother Gaius. She appears in The Dragon's Call, The Moment of Truth, Le Mort d'Arthur and The Sword in the Stone Part I.
- Back for the Finale: In series four.
- Berserk Button: To Merlin. Nothing gets him more riled or dangerous than if someone threatens his mother.
- Bring Help Back: In 1x10.
- Give Him a Normal Life: Inverted. Though she wants this for Merlin, she knows that he's exceptionally gifted. Rather than hide him away in Ealdor she sends him to Camelot to get tutelage for his abilities.
- Good Parent
- Let's Get Dangerous!: When her village is attacked by bandits, she insists that she's going to fight or die trying.
- Mama Bear: Towards Merlin of course. She's highly protective of him.
- The Ojou: Hunith is very kind, gentle, polite, maternal and soft spoken, despite not coming from wealth.
- Only One Name: Given that most non-royalty only had one name, this is Truth in Television. Certainly, if she does have a second name, it's never mentioned.
- Parent In Distress: Hunith becomes gravely ill at the end of season one after Merlin makes a deal with Nimueh to save Arthur's life. Merlin does everything in his power to save his mother by sacrificing himself to Nimueh again.
- The Pollyanna: Hunith has a very hopeful and optimistic nature. Seems that Merlin inherited that trait.
- Separated-at-Birth Casting: It's easy enough to buy her as Merlin's mother.
- Shipper on Deck: She seems to be a huge Arthur/Merlin shipper.
- Team Mom: She appears to be maternal to everyone, including Arthur and Gwen.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: On two occasions she disappears abruptly from the episode; first when she falls sick (we're told that she recovers, but it happens off-screen) and second when mercenaries attack Ealdor at the end of series four (Merlin, Arthur and Gwen lead the attackers into the forest, and we're just left to assume that they left Hunith and the other villagers alone).
Queen Ygraine Pendragon (Alice Patten)
"He sacrificed my life so the Pendragon dynasty could continue. It makes you no less my son, nor me any less proud of you."
- Adaptational Consent: In the original story Ygraine was originally married to Gorlois, and Arthur was conceived when Uther magically disguised himself as Gorlois and slept with her. Here there's no indication that happened or that Ygraine was ever married to anyone except Uther.
- Back from the Dead: Very temporarily.
- Balancing Death's Books: The cause of her death; in order to conceive Arthur, Ygraine was doomed to die in giving birth to him.
- Dead Person Conversation: Thanks to Morgause's spell, Ygraine appears to Arthur to tell him the truth of his birth.
- Death by Childbirth: This was the price she had to pay in order to bring Arthur into the world.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Arthur idolizes his mother; so much that he even attacks his father when he finds out that he (Uther) is the cause of her death.
- The Lost Lenore: To Uther, whose death triggered his hatred of magic.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Her death is the reason for the Great Purge, which informs practically everything that follows.
- Strong Family Resemblance: The casting nailed this one. Arthur is the spitting image of his mother.
Balinor (John Lynch)
"You don't choose to become a Dragonlord. It's not something you're taught. It's a sacred gift. For thousands of years it's been handed down from father to son."
Merlin's father and the last of the Dragonlords. In his youth he helped subdue the Great Dragon before Uther betrayed him and tried to have him executed. With Gaius's help he escaped to Ealdor where he was taken in by Hunith, only for Uther's men pursue him into the wilderness. He appeared in The Last Dragonlord and The Diamond of the Day Part I.
- The Beastmaster: Balinor was a Dragon Lord who could command dragons. The gift was passed down from his father and when Balinor died, he passed the gift down to Merlin. Merlin then became the last Dragon Lord in existence.
- Changed My Mind, Kid
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Balinor tells Merlin that he left Ealdor and Hunith because he wanted Hunith to be safe. Balinor says that he had too much danger and too many enemies surrounding him for him to stay in Ealdor and live a normal life with Hunith.
- Disappeared Dad: Balinor was not aware of Merlin's existence till 2x13.
- Final Speech: He manages to impart some last words to Merlin about the nature of dragons.
- The Hermit: He'd been living by himself when Merlin and Arthur found him.
- I Have No Son!: Balinor says this to Merlin almost word for word in 2x13. He later discovers that Merlin is his son.
- In the Blood: Balinor says that the Dragon Lord powers are a sacred gift which are passed down in the lineage from father to son.
- The Last of His Kind: At least until he dies, at which point Merlin inherits his powers.
- Long-Lost Relative: To Merlin, who is his long lost son.
- Luke, You Are My Father: Merlin has to tell Balinor that he's his son. He had no idea that Hunith was even pregnant when he left Ealdor.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: He is a loner and isolated from others but Balinor essentially has a good heart and good intentions.
- Negated Moment of Awesome: His entire episode leads up to him deciding to return to Camelot to stop Kilgharrah with his Dragonlord abilities. Then he dies before he gets there.
- No Social Skills: Before he met Merlin, Balinor was very anti-social and hated everyone.
- Summon Magic: Balinor was a Dragon Lord, therefore, summoning dragons was needed in order to tame them.
- Taking the Bullet: For Merlin
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Balinor ends up dying in the same episode that he is introduced.
Tom (David Durham)
"We're on the up now. Things are going to be different."
- Black Guy Dies First: Averted and then played straight. He survives his first appearance, only to be killed by castle guards in his second.
- The Blacksmith: And a pretty darn cool one, since he forged Excalibur.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Notable for its aversion. Plenty of other far more important characters have fallen prey to this trope, but despite dying in series 1, Tom is consistently mentioned all the way into series 5.
- Mystical Plague: But is healed by Merlin.
- Sacrificial Lion: The first reoccurring character to get killed off.
- Unwitting Pawn: To Tauren, who was using his blacksmithing skills to experiment with alchemy.
Morgana and Morgause's mother. Very little is known about her beyond the fact that she was married to Gorlois and had an affair with King Uther (which resulted in Morgana).
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: It's unclear whether she suffered any consequences from her dalliance with Uther.
- Memento MacGuffin: The bracelet that Morgause gives to Morgana when they first meet belonged to Vivienne.
King Bayard (Clive Russell)
- Colour Coded Armies: He and the knights of Mercia wear blue, to contrast with the red-cloaked men of Camelot.
- Frameup: Thanks to Nimueh
- Honour Before Reason: He's prepared to drink from a (supposedly) poisoned goblet in order to prove his own innocence.
- Unwitting Pawn: Nimeuh uses his gesture of presenting matching goblets to Uther and Arthur against him.
King Odin (Fintan McKeown)
"I want you to kill the man who murdered my son. I want you to kill Arthur Pendragon."
- The Bus Came Back: In one of the most surprising displays of Continuity this show has ever done, Odin returns forty-one episodes after he was last seen to finish off a Story Arc that had lay dormant for three seasons.
- Cycle of Revenge: Arthur attempts to stop this when Uther demands retribution from Odin after his attempt on Arthur's life. It doesn't appeared to have worked.
- A truce is finally agreed upon in Another's Sorrow.
- Duel to the Death: How his son was killed.
- Feuding Families: With the Pendragons.
- It's Personal: Subverted in that it's the villain who wants revenge on the hero.
- Meaningful Name: Named after the Norse God of War.
- Misplaced Retribution: Perhaps. We know very little about what really happened between Arthur and Odin's son, save that the latter ended up dead at the former's hands.
- Revenge Myopia: Odin wants Arthur dead because he killed his son; but Arthur claims that he was just defending himself.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He's been on-screen for about two minutes back in series 2. In series 4 he sends an assassin to kill Arthur, who ends up fatally wounding Uther instead. He's also been mentioned frequently throughout the series.
- He returns in series 5 for an expanded role.
King Alined (David Schofield)
"If Olaf kills Arthur, then Uther will start a war. If Arthur kills Olaf, then his men will start a war. We cannot lose!"
- Ambiguously Gay: He admits that he finds Arthur attractive, and there's rather a lot of Sub Text with his court jester.
- Bad Boss: To Trickler
- Batman Gambit: He orders his jester to place Arthur and Lady Vivian under a Love Potion, betting that the fallout from various factions will inevitably lead to war.
- Chessmaster: If it hadn't been for Guinevere's True Love's Kiss, he would have gotten exactly what he wanted.
- Chess Motif: He demonstrates his plans to Trickler using a chess set.
- Karma Houdini: He doesn't get what he wants, but he still leaves Camelot scot-free.
- The Matchmaker: Only in the sense that he wants Arthur and Vivian together in order to make trouble.
King Olaf (Mark Lewis Jones)
Alined: "Olaf is the most overprotective buffoon I've ever met. It would surely end the peace talks if anyone were to lay a finger on his daughter."
The ruler of one of the Five Kingdoms and father to Lady Vivian. He unknowingly plays into the hands of King Alined when his protectiveness of Vivian leads him to challenge Arthur to a duel, having been led to believe she's been seduced by him. He appeared in Sweet Dreams.
- Duel to the Death: Challenges Arthur to one.
- Easily Forgiven: After spending the entire episode rampaging over his daughter's virtue, Arthur brings their duel to a close and Olaf becomes entirely amiable.
- Flaw Exploitation: His protectiveness of Vivian is exploited by King Alined.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: In front of everyone, he calls Vivian "an innocent girl!" His daughter's reaction to this indicates that she's probably not.
- Throwing Down the Gauntlet: Literally.
- You Are Grounded: A variation. Vivian is being taken home, presumably for good.
Lady Vivian (Georgia Moffett)
"I am not most of your guests."
Lady Vivian is the bratty daughter of King Olaf. Accompanying him to the peace talks hosted at Camelot, she becomes the target of a love spell in an attempt to disrupt the proceedings by playing on the emotions of her Overprotective Dad. She appeared in Sweet Dreams.
- Beauty Is Bad: As noted by Arthur, she's very beautiful but her manners are appalling.
- Bratty Teenage Daughter
- The Ditz: Whilst under a spell.
- I Kiss Your Hand: Uther does this on greeting her.
- Kissing Under the Influence
- Love Potion: Is the (permanent) victim of one.
- Satellite Love Interest: Deliberately an Invoked Trope between her and Arthur. Being a Royal Brat who only exists to flounce around in pretty clothes. The two of them are put under a Love Spell that makes them act like Sickening Sweethearts, much to the bafflement of everyone else.
- Sickening Sweethearts: With Arthur
- Strong Family Resemblance: Informed Attribute. When she arrives in Camelot, Uther tells Vivian she looks just like her mother. Since we never see her, we just have to take his word for it.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Last we see of her, she's being carted off by her father. For all we know, she's still under the love spell, pining for Arthur.
Princess Elena (Georgia King)
"I'm not the perfect princess, am I?"
The Princess of Gawant and daughter of Lord Godwyn. Unbeknownst to her, she was possessed by a Sidhe fairy whilst just a baby, causing her to grow up with a variety of embarrassing traits and peculiarities. She appeared in The Changeling.
- Arranged Marriage: Godwyn and Uther organise one between her and Arthur.
- Bad Dreams: A side-effect of the Sidhe inside her.
- Bizarre Taste in Food: She eats live frogs and seems to thoroughly enjoy it.
- Bonding Over Missing Parents: She and Arthur do this over their Missing Moms.
- Disposable Fiancé: Of the "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off" variety.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Has to be told to put them on, she does so begrudgingly.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold
- I Kiss Your Hand: Arthur does this as they farewell each other.
- Jabba Table Manners: Another Sidhe side-effect.
- Meaningful Name: Averted. Sure it sounds a lot like Elaine, but she never meets Lancelot.
- Satellite Love Interest: Notably subverted with two more of Arthur's. She is brought to Camelot to join in an Arranged Marriage to Arthur, but instead of being treated as a mere impediment to his happiness with Guinevere, she is a likable and developed character. Her importance to the narrative has less to do with her relationship to Arthur as it does her role as an Unwitting Pawn in The Fair Folks' attempt to take over Camelot.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Once the pesky Sidhe is gone.
- Tomboy Princess: Subversion. All her tomboyish qualities are brought on by the Sidhe living inside her. Once it's gone, she's more like a Princess Classic.
- Though she has a genuine love of horseback riding, which was never a Sidhe trait.
- Unwitting Pawn: To the Sidhe.
Lord Godwyn (Simon Williams)
"Maybe it's time things changed."
- Doting Parent: Obviously cares very much about his daughter, and wants the best for her, even if he's somewhat annoyed by her less-than-ladylike qualities.
- Man Hug: With Uther
King Caerleon (Steven Hartley)
"You did not choose anything, boy. It is I who choose to die, and I alone".
The King of Caerleon. After being caught trespassing in Camelot's territory he is caught and beheaded by Arthur. He appeared in His Father's Son.
- Honour Before Reason: Faced with a choice between signing a peace treaty and getting his head cut off, he chooses death.
- Idiot Ball: He practically grabs Arthur's sword and cuts his own head off.
- King Incognito: For a while, at least until Agravaine notices his medallion.
Queen Annis (Lindsay Duncan)
"There is something about you Arthur Pendragon. Something that gives me hope for us all."
- Armor-Piercing Slap: She gives not one but two to Arthur.
- Blood Knight: Gender Flipped and subverted when Arthur convinces her to declare peace.
- The Cameo: Appears briefly in 5x01 to grant safe passage to Arthur and his knights.
- Crusading Widow: Briefly wanted vengeance for her husband's death at Arthur's hands.
- Evil Matriarch: Subverted despite first appearances (and surprisingly, given the show's track record with evil female characters and the fact that she shares her name with an evil spirit of English folklore).
- Expy: Bears more than a passing resemblance to Boudicca.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Played with.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Delivers a particularly brutal one to Morgana, when she calmly points out that she's Not So Different from Uther. All things considered, it's a miracle that Annis left that tent alive, and this was probably only down to the fact that she unsettled Morgana so profoundly.
- Widow Woman: Thanks to Arthur.
Princess Mithian (Janet Montgomery)
"I would give up my own kingdom to be so loved."
The Princess of Nemeth. She comes to Camelot in order to wed Arthur as part of a peace settlement between their kingdoms. Though she finds herself genuinely falling for Arthur, he breaks off the engagement on realizing that his heart still lies with Guinevere. She appeared in The Hunter's Heart and Another's Sorrow.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Even by the end of Another's Sorrow, it appears that she still has a little bit of a crush on Arthur.
- Amicable Exes: With Arthur.
- Beauty = Goodness: She's a classic beauty with fair skin, and a genuinely lovely person.
- Big Entrance: She certainly makes an impression when she first arrives in Camelot.
- Birds of a Feather: With Arthur, a deliberate contrast to the Opposites Attract relationship he has with Guinevere.
- Bridal Carry: Leon carries her like this when she faints outside the castle.
- Burping Contest: When Merlin magically forces Arthur to burp repeatedly in front of her in an effort to turn her off and sink the ship, she instead interprets it as a challenge and happily fires back with an enormous belch of her own.
- Costume Porn: Her gold and white gowns.
- Die for Our Ship: Merlin takes an irrational dislike to Mithian simply because he ships Arthur/Guinevere. He's notably much nicer to her when she returns to Camelot three years after Arthur and Gwen are safely married.
- Disposable Fiancé: Again, of the "Let's call it off" variety.
- Distressed Damsel: In 5x04.
- Decoy Damsel: Though she's coerced into it by Morgana.
- Dramatic Unmask: Or rather, "unveil".
- Ermine Cape Effect: She's wearing a massive white fur coat for her arrival and departure scenes.
- Expy: There's some speculation that she was based on the more familiar characterisation of Guinevere, being both high-born and in a (temporary) Arranged Marriage with King Arthur - indeed, even down to the Raven Hair, Ivory Skin.
- Fainting: Of exhaustion in 5x04.
- Graceful Loser: She handles rejection well.
- Honey Trap: In 5x04, though more in the capacity of a Distressed Damsel than a Femme Fatale.
- Hourglass Plot: A slight one with Guinevere. They completely switch roles between The Hunter's Heart and Another's Sorrow.
- Impractically Fancy Outfit: She travels in a white fur coat and goes hunting in a gold silk dress.
- Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: Mithian's flaw is that she isn't Guinevere. In breaking off their engagement, Arthur ends up giving her the disputed lands between their kingdoms in order to avoid war.
- Nice Girl: She's friendly with Arthur, and kind to Merlin despite the fact that he's a servant and the sort that her fellow nobles tend to step over without a thought.
- Nice to the Waiter: Somewhat ironically considering Merlin often complains about his treatment at the hands of nobles - but when this one is actually nice to him, he's too busy giving her the cold shoulder to appreciate it.
- She's not just doing it for Arthur, either; she's just as nice to Merlin when she comes back in 5x04 and is visibly upset when her attempt to warn him about Morgana gets him nearly killed.
- Politically Active Princess: Despite having a vaguely mentioned father, she's the one who handles the negotiations and arranged marriage thing with Arthur over the disputed lands between their kingdoms.
- Princess Classic: She looks, sounds and behaves like the quintessential fairytale princess, with one striking subversion: she Does Not Get The Guy.
- Princesses Rule: There's no sign or mention of her parents, yet she's a princess and not a queen.
- Though her second appearance expands on her background and reveals that she does in fact have a father.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: At least in Another's Sorrow, in which Mithian's hair seems to be several shades darker than it was in The Hunter's Heart.
- Requisite Royal Regalia: She wears a coronet throughout The Hunter's Heart.
- Romantic False Lead: Briefly with Arthur, the two being royalty, Birds of a Feather, and set for an Arranged Marriage. He eventually rejects her for Gwen, though they remain on good terms.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Subverted. She and Arthur would be perfect for each other, were it not for the simple fact that he's in love with someone else.
- Pretty in Mink: Wore a long white fur coat◊ when she arrived in Camelot.
- Satellite Love Interest: Notably subverted. She is brought to Camelot to join in an Arranged Marriage to Arthur, but instead of being treated as a mere impediment to his happiness with Guinevere, she is a likable and developed characters. Though her function was simply as a Love Interest to Arthur, she was also a three-dimensional character who ended up being popular enough to return to the show in the next season.
- The Smart Girl: Unlike most nobles, who tend to ignore him, or regard him as a bumbling idiot, she very quickly catches on to the fact that Merlin is far more than he seems. Not the magic part, that is, but the fact that he's not just Arthur's manservant, being (informally) his closest adviser, whose opinion Arthur greatly values.
- Unknown Rival: She and Guinevere never meet.
- They do eventually meet in Another's Sorrow, but although Mithian can now put a name and face to the mystery woman that she was passed over for, it's unclear if Guinevere knows whether Mithian is anything other than a visiting princess in need of help.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Narrowly averted. In a bid to impress Arthur, she shoots a young deer in the forest. Unbeknownst to her, the deer is actually Guinevere under an enchantment.
- What Does He See In Her?: She's flabbergasted when Arthur forsakes her for the blacksmith's daughter, though also seems rather impressed by his devotion.
- Woman Scorned: Subverted. Despite the snub, she remains on good terms with Camelot. In fact, she seems rather moved by Arthur's devotion to Guinevere - see her page quote.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: She knows she's in a love story, but doesn't realize that it's not hers. As such, she spends the first half of The Hunter's Heart acting like (and being treated as) the sole Romantic Love Interest, only to eventually learn she was the Romantic False Lead all along. Exit stage left.
King Rodor (James Fox)
"Don't look so surprised. I commanded an army in my time."
The King of Nemeth and father of Princess Mithian. When his kingdom is invaded by King Odin, he's held hostage and used as bait to lure Arthur into a trap. He appeared in Another's Sorrow.
- I Have Your Wife: Father in this case, Morgana uses this ploy on Mithian.
- I Will Only Slow You Down: Though the unanimous response is "not a chance".
- Living MacGuffin: What his role amounts to.
- Still Got It: A variation; see his quote.
Mary Collins (Eve Myles)
"I promise you, before these celebrations are over, you will share my tears."
A witch whose son is executed at Uther's behest. She decides to take her revenge by assassinating Prince Arthur, disguising herself as a singer due to arrive in Camelot. She appeared in The Dragon's Call.
- Acting for Two: Eve Myles played the elderly witch and the young woman she disguises herself as.
- Cobweb Jungle: Creates one when she casts her final spell.
- Colour Failure: What happens to her victims.
- Foreshadowing: Her forty-five minute appearance is Morgana's entire Story Arc in a nutshell, right down to her motivation (revenge), the focus of her anger (Uther and therefore Arthur by proxy) and the magical implements she uses (glamour, a whirlwind and a Voodoo Doll).
- Glamour Failure: Whenever she steps in front of a mirror, her reflection is of her true self.
- Magic Music: Her song puts the court to sleep.
- No Name Given: Except in the credits.
- Revenge by Proxy: She goes after Arthur in revenge for her own son's death.
- Starter Villain: The very first foe that Merlin has to face.
Valiant (Will Mellor)
A knight who enters a tournament at Camelot with a magical shield that will ensure his victory.
- Card-Carrying Villain
- Color Motif: Yellow is the colour of cowardice, and he gives himself an unfair advantage in the tournament.
- Rule of Three: Three snakes on his shield
- Shout-Out: Presumably his name is derived from Prince Valiant (an Arthurian comic strip).
- Starter Villain: Just as Mary Collins was a magical foe for Merlin to face, Valiant is Arthur's first enemy to defeat, mainly through combat.
- Villain Ball: Why would you feed your magical snakes with the door unlocked?
Edwin Muirden (Julian Rhind-Tutt)
"I want my face to be the last face you ever see. You took my childhood from me. And now finally, I take my parents' revenge."
A physician whose parents were burnt at the stake at Uther's command and who returns to Camelot years later to seek his revenge. He appeared in A Remedy To Cure All Ills.
- An Axe to Grind: He telekinetically throws one at Merlin.
- Blackmail: He gets rid of Gaius by threatening to reveal Merlin's secret.
- Creepy Long Fingers: There's an emphasis on his hands; before we ever see his face, we see his hands creeping like a spider across his desk.
- Deadly Doctor: He gains Uther's trust by anonymously sending flowers to Morgana with a deadly beetle concealed inside, and then healing her from the near-fatal haemorrhage it causes.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: The evil kind.
- Meaningful Name: Edwin Muir was the author of this Merlin-centric poem, one which also lent the title to the two-part Grand Finale.
- Playing with Fire: Creates a circle of fire around Gaius.
- Secret Keeper: To Merlin, very briefly.
- We Can Rule Together: Tries this on Merlin.
Sophia (Holliday Grainger)
"For a moment, I felt what it would be like to die a mortal death."
The daughter of a renegade Sidhe, Sophia is desperate to gain immortality and return to Avalon by offering up Arthur as a human sacrifice to her people. She appeared in The Gates Of Avalon.
- Big "NO!": Before she dies.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- Boom Stick: Her staff.
- Decoy Damsel: She and her father get themselves into Camelot by staging a Rescue Romance.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Merlin uses her own staff to destroy her.
- I Kiss Your Hand: Arthur when he first meets her.
- Ungrateful Bastard: When Arthur saves her from a stray bolt from a crossbow, she's not remotely grateful - only bitter that she needed rescuing in the first place.
- The Vamp: There doesn't seem to be any particular need to seduce Arthur (since she ends up hypnotizing him), but she does it anyway.
- Your Head Asplode: Merlin blows her up. It's a bit disconcerting.
Aulfic (Kenneth Cranham)
"It is my fate to live a mortal life."
A member of the Sidhe who was exiled from Avalon, Aulfric promises his people the blood of Prince Arthur if they agree to return immortality to his daughter. He appeared in The Gates Of Avalon.
- As You Know: He relates the plan to his daughter (which she knew perfectly well) in order to fill the audience in to what they're doing.
- Boom Stick: His staff.
- Pet the Dog: It's clear by the end that everything he's done has been to save his daughter's life, and is prepared to sacrifice himself in the process.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The bandits that he pays to stage an attack on himself and his daughter. After Arthur dispatches them, Aulfric kills the sole survivor.
Sidhe Elder (Michael Jenn)
- Changeling Tale: He initiates one by sending one of his subjects into the body of the infant Princess Elena.
- Chessmaster: Has organised for a Sidhe to possess Princess Elena, thus ensuring that a Sidhe Queen will one day sit on the throne of Camelot. This poses some questions.
- Our Fairies Are Different: Blue, with pointed teeth and weird growths on their faces.
- Fangs Are Evil: Even though his size might qualify them as Cute Little Fangs.
Tristan de Bois (Rick English/Christopher Fairbank)
"Who will take up my challenge?"
Queen Ygraine's brother, who blamed Uther for her death and challenged him to a duel. Though he was killed, he swore with his dying breath that he would return to Camelot to have his revenge. Years later, Nimueh resurrects him so that he might fulfil this vow. He appeared in Excalibur.
- Big Entrance: He leaps on horseback through a stained glass window whilst Arthur is undergoing a ceremony to become crown prince.
- Dramatic Unmask: Or "unhelmeting".
- The Faceless: Until The Reveal at the end of the episode.
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: Three seasons later, Agravaine never once brings up the subject of his dead brother.
Catrina (Sarah Parish)
"Uther's so stupid, so blinded by pretty things. Already he falls for me. It's only a matter of time before he is completely under my control."
A hideous troll that takes on the visage of an old friend of Uther in order to seduce him. On becoming Queen of Camelot, she uses her newfound power to accumulate her deepest desires: riches and dung. She appeared in Beauty and the Beast Part I and II.
- Elephant in the Living Room: Once she reverts back into her true form, and everyone but Uther can clearly see it.
- Hypno Trinket: How she controls Uther.
- Impostor Forgot One Detail: Gaius suspects her because the real Catrina had a rare bone condition.
Aredian (Charles Dance)
"It's all around us, the foul stench of sorcery. It's infected your great city like a contagion."
A Witch Finder, who comes to Camelot at Uther's invitation in order to root out any witches or wizards in the kingdom. Due to Charles Dance's performance, he ended up being one of the show's most memorable One Shot Villains. He appeared in The Witchfinder.
- Badass Longcoat
- Disney Villain Death: He trips backwards and falls out of a high window.
- The Dreaded
- False Confession: He extracts them from his victims.
- Frameup: Of Gaius.
- Framing the Guilty Party
- Irony: While he framed his victims, it is quite ironic that the three people he framed, Gaius, Merlin and Morgana were actually wizards. A false witch finder was actually the closest one of finding true wizards.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Nice Hat
- The Witch Hunter
Alvarr (Joseph Mawle)
"To be an enemy of Camelot is no crime."
The leader of a group of Druids that desires the downfall of Uther and who manipulates Morgana (and Mordred) into joining his cause. He appeared in The Witch's Quickening.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: He works this angle on Morgana.
- Almost Kiss: With Morgana. Later he kisses her on the cheek.
- Battle Couple: With his girlfriend, Enmyria.
- Becoming the Mask: Though he's clearly playing Morgana at first, director Alice Troughton (on the DVD Commentary) insists that Alvarr was genuine about his feelings for her by the end of the episode (though Katie McGrath didn't seem quite as convinced).
- Grey-and-Grey Morality: He's genuinely devoted to his cause, and seems legitimate in his fondness for Enmyria and Mordred, but is obviously not above manipulating everyone for his own ends.
- Parental Substitute: To Mordred.
- Playing Possum: What he's doing the first time we see him.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Or possible Shoo Out the New Guy considering Alvarr is set up as a fairly important figure in the conflict between Druids and Camelot, but is never seen or referred to again.
Julius Borden (James Callis)
An old pupil of Gaius who left his tutelage under murky circumstances. Since then, he gradually collected the three pieces of a golden triskelion that is said to open the Tomb of Askanar where the final dragon egg was hidden centuries ago.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Not that we learn much about it.
- Deceptive Disciple: To Gaius.
- Left for Dead: Merlin leaves him to die in a Collapsing Lair.
- Tampering with Food and Drink: He uses a slingshot to fire a satchet of poison into the knight's cooking pot.
Lamia (Charlenne McKenna)
Gaius: "They could control the mind of a man, suck the life from him with a single embrace."
A creature of dark magic, created by the High Priestesses of the Old Religion as a weapon against the Ancient Kings by mingling the blood of a girl and a serpent together. She appeared in Lamia.
- Adaptational Villainy: In the myths, not all lamia were evil.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Her powers render the Knights as this.
- Eldritch Abomination: Lamia's true form.
- Gone Horribly Right: The Priestesses made the lamias as a weapon, only to lose control of them.
- Hate Plague: Her magic infects the knights like this.
Lancelot du Lac (Santiago Cabrera)
A shade resurrected from the dead by Morgana in order to tear Arthur and Guinevere apart. Though it bears an exact resemblance to Lancelot, his will is entirely controlled by Morgana. Appeared in Lancelot du Lac.
- Driven to Suicide: On Morgana's command.
- Dying as Yourself: There's one last glimpse of the real Lancelot before Merlin cremates his body.
- Go Seduce My Archnemesis: Is what Morgana commands him to do (though she has no romantic/sexual interest in him herself).
- Kissing Under the Influence: With Guinevere.
- Lonely Funeral: Only Merlin attends.
- Naked on Arrival: Presumably.
- New Old Flame: To Guinevere.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: With Arthur, after his tryst with Gwen.
- Paint It Black: Morgana dresses him in matching black.
- Spot the Imposter
Ruadan (Liam Cunningham)
A powerful druid who allies himself with Morgana in order to topple the Pendragon regime, informing her of a mysterious entity called the Diamir that holds the key to all knowledge.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: He has a magnificent death scene, perhaps one of the best on the entire show, in which he single-handedly rescues his daughter from a guarded citadel before succumbing to his wounds.
- Flash Step: Pulls off one of these when Sefa comes to bring him information.
- Great Escape: Pulls one off for Sefa.
- Pet the Dog: His cold demeanour slips a bit when he talks with his daughter.
- Playing with Fire: Conjures up a line of fire to facilitate his escape.
- Storming the Castle: All by himself.
- Travelling at the Speed of Plot: He gets around quickly.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: He seems genuine about the nobility of his cause, clearly isn't taking sadistic enjoyment in taking lives, and truly loves his daughter.
Kara (Alexandra Dowling)
"It is not a crime to fight for your freedom. It is not a crime to fight for the right to be who you are."
A druid girl who joins forces with Morgana in order to destroy Camelot and free her people. After trying to assassinate Arthur she is sentenced to death, but her history with Mordred complicates matters. She appeared in The Drawing of the Dark.
- Childhood Friend Romance: With Mordred.
- Defiant to the End: She refuses to repent of her crimes against Camelot, and on both occasions in which Arthur sentences her to death, she rejoices in his own impending doom.
- Disposable Woman: Ultimately, she's used as the reason for Mordred turning against Arthur and Merlin.
- Grey-and-Grey Morality: She honestly believes that Arthur is a tyrant and that what she's doing is right.
- Headbutt of Love: With Mordred.
- Honor Before Reason: She choses to die rather than repent of actions that she doesn't believe are crimes.
- I Kiss Your Hand: She kisses Mordred's hand before going to her death.
- Last-Second Chance: Arthur offers her one. She rejects it.
- Plot-Triggering Death: It begins the Disaster Dominoes that lead into the two-part Grand Finale.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives one to Arthur, reminding him of his maltreatment of her people.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: To get close enough to Arthur.
- Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: How she sees herself.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Heavily averted. She considers everyone in Camelot to be a legitimate target and has no remorse over killing them. Arthur, a firm believer in The Laws and Customs of War considers this to be unforgiveable.
- Though technically she never actually harms a civilian. She helps attack a convoy of soldiers that was delivering weapons to Camelot, and later kills a castle guard that was preventing her escape. See Grey-and-Grey Morality.
- Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Heavily averted. She considers everyone in Camelot to be a legitimate target and has no remorse over killing them. Arthur, a firm believer in The Laws and Customs of War considers this to be unforgiveable.
A devious woman (yeah, another one) who is sent by Morgana to infiltrate Camelot as a spy, using her feminine wiles and a show of helplessness to gather information. She appeared in The Diamond of the Day Part I and II.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Which she uses to great effect.
Will (Joe Dempsie)
"Are you telling me you'd rather keep your magic a secret for Arthur's sake than use it to protect your friends and family?"
- Back-to-Back Badasses: With Merlin
- Childhood Friends: With Merlin
- Forgotten Fallen Friend: He's never mentioned again after his one and only episode.
- Man Hug: With Merlin
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: In the platonic sense. (Maybe).
Alice (Pauline Collins)
Gaius: "Alice is the kindest and most compassionate person I've ever known."
A gifted healer who supplements her natural talent with magic. She and Gaius were once engaged to be married before the Great Purge forced her to flee Camelot. She appeared in Love In The Time of Dragons.
- Bittersweet Ending: She escapes with her life, but she and Gaius are parted - presumably for good.
- Cute Witch: So what if she's over sixty? Look at her! She's still adorable.
- Informed Ability: Gaius states that she's more powerful and naturally gifted than he is, but she spends the entire episode under the thrall of the Manticore. Furthermore, all her renowned healing abilities happen off-screen.
Gilli (Harry Melling)
"I'm not going to apologize for who I am!"
A young man with a Ring of Power who arrives in Camelot in search of honour and glory. After befriending Merlin, he goes through a surprisingly complex Story Arc over the course of his single episode appearance. He appeared in The Sorcerer's Shadow.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: Suffers from this delusion. When he actually goes through with killing someone, he finds it's not at all to his liking.
- Broken Pedestal: Inverted in regards to his father. He begins by remembering him as a weak man who never used his abilities to their full extent, but eventually comes to a fuller understanding of how he lived his life.
- Casting Gag: Harry Melling is best known as playing a magic-fearing Muggle in the Harry Potter films.
- Foil: To Merlin
- It's All About Me: Zig-Zagging Trope. He makes plenty of decisions over the course of the episode, both selfish and unselfish.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After killing Nollar.
- Secret Keeper: To Merlin.
- Tears of Remorse: When Merlin demonstrates his magical powers to him.
- Whip It Good: In defending Merlin from bullies.
Alator (Gary Lewis)
A High Priest of the Catha, a sect of wizards who specialize in mind control and psychic torture. Alator is hired by Morgana to seek out the identity of the mysterious "Emrys." He appeared in The Secret Sharer and The Kindness of Strangers.
- The Atoner: He refers to his days as a torturer as "not something to be proud of" in his second appearance.
- The Bus Came Back: He returns in The Kindness of Strangers...
- Back for the Dead: ... only to be killed by Morgana.
- Evil Sorcerer: Subverted
- Face Death with Dignity: Morgana, despite all her efforts, never does manage to break him and he tells her to her face that no matter what she does, she will never find Emrys and he will pass to the other world happy in the knowledge that she will be defeated no matter what she does.
- HeelFace Turn: Sort of. He's actually a fairly neutral character, though we're initially led to believe that he's an Evil Sorcerer in league with Morgana. On finding out that Merlin is the mysterious Emrys, he declares his loyalty to him.
- Kneel Before Frodo: Or in this case, Merlin.
- Purple Is Powerful: He wears purple robes.
- Secret Keeper: One of the few who discovers Merlin's secret and survives to keep it (at least until his second appearance).
- Torture Technician: Morgana hires him to extract information from Gaius.
- We Will Meet Again: To Merlin. Inverted in that he doesn't mean it as a threat. And then subverted considering they never do.
- You Are Not Alone: Says this to Merlin.
Tristan and Isolde (Ben Daniels and Miranda Raison)
"Caught? Tristan and Isolde? I don't think so. We're too quick and too smart for the halfwit king in Camelot."
A pair of smugglers (and lovers) who don't think highly of Camelot or its King, but who decide to throw in their lot with Arthur after he and Merlin save Isolde's life. They appeared in The Sword in the Stone Part I and II.
- Action Girl: Isolde fluctuates between this and a Faux Action Girl before being Killed Off for Real.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: See picture.
- Badass Longcoat: Tristan
- Beta Couple: They serve as the catalyst for getting Arthur and Gwen back together..
- The Cynic: Tristan
- Expy: According to writer Julian Jones, they are based on Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005).
- Good Bad Girl: Isolde
- Lovable Rogues: They give this vibe.