The Unicorn / the Lady Amalthea
The unnamed protagonist of the story, a unicorn who one day finds out she is the last of her kind. She ventures out into the wild to know what happened to the other unicorns, and meets many colorful characters along the way. She has major depression problems.
- Action Survivor: She's not a traditional action heroine but when the going gets tough, she does jump to the call and aid in any way she can. She is brave and decisive as a unicorn: she frees the captive animals from Mommy Fortuna's festival, avenges Lír by standing against the Bull, drives the beast into the sea, and frees the other unicorns (this also indirectly kills Haggard). Even as a woman, in her most helpless form, she defeats Mabruk without saying a word.
- Anti-Magic: Her power often manifests as this. She breaks spells cast by others, unfastens magic locks, and disenchants a tree Schmendrick accidentally made sentient. She also prevents the use of magic against her.
- Angst: She has a ton of this about being the last of her kind, and when she becomes a human. Seeing as how nobody would wish to be the last of their race, and how the more time she spends as a human the more she forgets her true identity, her reaction is understandable.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Her human form, although the Godiva Hair might contribute a bit.
- Becoming the Mask: The danger of the unicorn's human guise.
- Berserk Button: Do not call her a mare. And, much later, do not harm someone she loves.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: Unicorns, and magical creatures in general, have different emotions and worldview than humans. For a start, regret is an emotion she can't naturally feel. This makes her the only unicorn alive who knows what it's like to feel this way after being human.
- Born as an Adult: The Lady Amalthea, the unicorn's human form, is a young woman.
- Broken Angel: Played straight immediately after her transformation into a human, then gradually deconstructed.
- Character Development: At the start of the story, she's very cold towards humans and thinks very low of them. Towards the end, she has fallen in love with one, and even considers a few others to be her friends (suggested that they're some of her very few friends she has, due to the lonely life she lives).
- Cursed with Awesome: The unicorn becomes the only one of her kind to have known love, a terrible pain for a pure immortal creature. However, this is also really useful since it is her love for Prince Lír and anguish over his death that gives her the power and motivation to best the Red Bull and restore unicorns to the world. She is aware of this, and admits it was a two way street in the end, and thanks Schmendrick for it, even the painful parts.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Initially starts her journey as a little cold and aloof, only interested in finding the unicorns and little else, but by the end she has started to feel human emotions like love and regret. It's loving Prince Lír what allowed her to feel more complex emotions and start regretting her quest.
- Emotionless Girl: Lady Amalthea initially has no comprehension of emotions, though the longer she spends as a human the more human she becomes.
- Empty Eyes: Haggard immediately becomes suspicious of Amalthea when he cannot see his reflection in her eyes, and correctly guesses that she is a unicorn. When she becomes more human, he starts seeing his reflection instead.King Haggard: (to Amalthea) Your eyes! Your eyes have become empty as Lír's, as any eyes that... never saw unicorns.
- Eyes Never Lie: Haggard knows there's something up with the Lady Amalthea when he can't see his reflection in them, and instead sees a vision of the Unicorn's forest.
- Facial Markings: The unicorn has a pink star-shaped mark where her horn is. She keeps it as Amalthea, but it vanishes as she becomes more human.
- Friend to All Living Things: She's much closer to animals than humans, initially. She lived in a forest all her life and cared for all the animals that lived there, protecting them by driving hunters away and looking after them. Afterwards she freed the hurt animals captive in Mommy Fortuna's carnival, and in the book later on as a human attempted to save Lír's dying mare, but it is futile as she lost her powers during her transformation. In the film, her animal friends bid her farewell the night she leaves on her quest. And Mommy Fortuna's crow eventually settles down in her forest to live with her after the story ends.
- Godiva Hair: When freshly transformed into a human (and Naked on Arrival), her hair covers everything.
- Good Is Not Nice/Good Is Not Soft: She's the heroine and her quest for finding her people is admirable, but she's a little too aloof to be an All-Loving Heroine. Unicorns are good, but they're also wild.
- The Gloves Come Off: The unicorn's fear of the Bull is shattered when she sees the dead Prince. At that point, she stops holding back.
- Graceful Ladies Like Purple: The gown she wears in the movie is a soft lilac shade.
- Heartbroken Badass: At first with Lír, when it seems he died. It's still the same after she revives him, due to the fact that they cannot be together anymore.
- Her Heart Will Go On: She will always hold Lír in high esteem, even if she cannot stay with him.
- Hot in Human Form: Prince Lír falls desperately in love with her human form.
- Humanity Ensues: The unicorn is transformed by Schmendrick into a human woman against her will. The longer the Lady Amalthea remains human, the more human she becomes.Haggard: (to Amalthea) But your eyes. You eyes have become empty, as Lír's. As any eyes... that never saw unicorns.
- Humanity Is Infectious: The Lady Amalthea eventually gains enough humanity to the point where she "dies" when Schmendrick changes her back into a unicorn.
- Identity Amnesia: The more time she spends as a human, the more she forgets that she's the last unicorn.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: In stark contrast to her earlier horror at being turned into a human, after falling for Lír Amalthea begs Schmendrick not to change her back into a unicorn.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: A trait of all unicorns.
- Indifferent Beauty: Becomes this as the Lady Amalthea. She knows humans find her beautiful, but couldn't care less.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's very aloof, blunt and can seem uncaring towards others; but she has a deep care for animals and the people she gets close to. She broke in tears at the death of Lír's mare and how useless she felt for not being able to save her.
- Jerkass Has a Point: When Molly gently chides the Lady Amalthea for refusing to acknowledge Prince Lír's heroic deeds for her, and claims that Lír just wants her to think of him, the unicorn-in-human-form counters that he doesn't wish to know her thoughts, but he wants her just as the Red Bull did, and it frightens her. Considering Prince Lír jumps at the chance to encourage the Lady Amalthea to stop struggling to remember anything before she met him, happily rewrites her history and opinions for himself once she's sufficiently a blank slate, and for a wild moment considers chasing after her when she's restored to unicorn form with a glint in his eyes just like Haggard's, she has a point.
- Lady and Knight: Plays this with Lír, being the soft-spoken lady to his chivalrous knight. Also played with /subverted in the end, where Lír dies in his attempt to save her and she has to defend his body against the Bull.
- Last of Her Kind: The Unicorn is shocked to learn from a pair of hunters and a butterfly that she is the last of her kind. But not exactly. It turns out that there are more unicorns... but they have all been imprisoned in the sea by King Haggard, with the help of the Red Bull.
- Long Hair Is Feminine: Her hair reaches down to her thighs, and she is very composed and feminine.
- Loss of Identity: After being transformed into a human, the unicorn gradually forgets who she was, to the point she doesn't know anymore who (and what) she is.
- Meaningful Name: Amalthea means "tender goddess" in Greek. And was the name of Zeus' nanny goat who incidentally lost a horn.
- Messianic Archetype: Her story has elements of both Moses' and Jesus'. For starters, she's an incorruptible pure mythical creature who enters into "Man's World" with a mission. During her adventure, she gains loyal followers who drop everything they're busy with at the moment to help her in her quest. Her main nemesis is a wrathful, greedy king who won't rest until he captures her. Once disguised as a mortal human, she starts to understand humanity better during her quest, even with all our pros and cons. She "dies", her human form disappearing in the climax, giving way again only to the unicorn. She sacrifices her chances of living a peaceful life as the wife of a king, but by doing so she frees the rest of the unicorns and therefore saving the world from decaying further.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: The unicorn's frightening personality change following her transformation. She goes from blunt but determined into afraid, demure and weepy.
- Morphic Resonance: When she turns into a woman, she keeps the white mane/hair and purple eyes that she had as a unicorn. She also has a mark on her forehead where her horn had been. In the animated film it looks like a star; the book describes it as resembling a flower. In the movie it disappears as she becomes more human.
- Moses Archetype: Her main drive is finding the rest of the unicorns and saving them from being imprisoned. She even hides as a member of Haggard's (the Pharaoh figure) Royal Court at one point, much like Moses did with Pharaoh.
- Mystical White Hair: The color of her coat is white, and her hair as a human girl is long and of a pale shade. Many find it exotic and beautiful.
- Naked on Arrival: Due to an aversion of Magic Pants, the unicorn's human form is naked after she is transformed. Copious amounts of Godiva Hair were used, naturally; though when she transforms back, her clothes simply disappear.
- Nephewism: Gender flipped and invoked. When Haggard tries to get Schmendrick to admit the truth about who Amalthea is, he claims that she's his niece.
- No Name Given: The protagonist is called simply "the unicorn." "Amalthea" is just an alias used when in human form.
- Non-Standard Character Design: Likely to further emphasize her beauty and elegance, her smooth and almost anime-like appearance as The Lady Amalthea stands in large contrast to other adult human women seen in the movie, who tend to appear more homely and sometimes wrinkly.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: After Prince Lír sacrifices himself to protect her from the Red Bull, she gets the resolve and rage to stand her ground and fight back against it. This allows her to drive the Red Bull into the ocean and free the unicorns, as the Red Bull's nature means it serves ones who have no fear.
- Personal Horror: The Lady Amalthea starts losing her sense of self when she's transformed into a human.
- Princess Classic: The Lady Amalthea acts like this once she falls in love with Lír and her humanity becomes more evident. She also nearly becomes an actual princess during the story.
- Proper Lady: Has shades of this in her unicorn form, but she shows them to their fullest as a girl; being elegant and soft-spoken when talking.
- Really Was Born Yesterday: The Lady Amalthea. Once transformed she takes the form of an adult woman, but she struggles with walking as much as a toddler.
- Really 700 Years Old: Unicorns can live forever if not killed. The book describes her as very old but unaware of it. Naturally, it doesn't show when she becomes a young woman.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The unicorn herself and all her forest companions. Even as a woman she still holds this element of vulnerability and adorableness.
- Satellite Love Interest: In-universe, the Lady Amalthea becomes this after she forgets she was ever a unicorn and falls in love with Prince Lír. Since she has no memory or identity before meeting him, and Lír loves inventing her history and opinions for her, her entire being is devoted just to him. The book spells it out.[Prince Lír] told her everything he knew, and what he thought about all of it, and happily invented a life and opinions for her, which she helped him do by listening. Nor was she deceiving him, for she truly remembered nothing before the castle and him. She began and ended with Prince Lír.
- Screw Destiny: Just before the final encounter with the Red Bull, the Lady Amalthea wants to back out, marry Lír, and live happily ever after. Lír is the one who insists that the story can't end that way.Schmendrick: I don't think I could change you back, even if you wished it. Marry the Prince and live happily ever after.
Amalthea: Yes. That is my wish.
Lir: No, my lady. I am a Hero. Heroes know that things must happen when it is time for them to happen. A quest cannot simply be abandoned. Unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever. A happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.
Molly: But what if there isn't a happy ending?
Schmendrick: There are no happy endings because nothing ends.
Molly: Schmendrick, her stay the way she is. Let her be.
Schmendrick: That's not in the story. Lir knows this, and so does she.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She's very withdrawn, soft-spoken and can seem aloof to others, but she shows great strength and diligence by continuing into the quest, even when she's captured or endangered many times during her adventures. Also as a woman, when she was her most helpless, she stood still against Mabruk when the others flinched, and lashed at Haggard to not touch her.
- Spell My Name with a "The": She's the unicorn, and as a woman she is the Lady Amalthea.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The feminine, delicate lady to Molly's rough tomboy.
- Took a Level in Badass: Goes from fleeing from the Red Bull to actively fighting him in the climax.
- Unicorn: One of the most famous.
- Uniqueness Value: The Last Unicorn is so very, very precious to all involved because she is the last of her kind. After freeing all the other unicorns she remains unique because she's the only one to have ever experienced (and will remember) human emotion.
- What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Experiences love for the first time with Lír as a human, since unicorns have a limited range of emotions and thus cannot fall in love the way humans do. By the end she's the only unicorn to know what love is.
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Not explicitly stated, but when the most beautiful creature in the world becomes human, this seems to be the result. It's worth noting however, that as she becomes more human she stays beautiful, but the mystical quality of her beauty fades away.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Initially takes her immortality for granted, and while initially terrified, once as a human she starts to see the value of mortality.
- Worth It: She assures Schmendrick that she is grateful for him making her human, because she is the only one of her kind to ever know emotions such as love and regret.
Schmendrick the Magician
The magician who accompanies the unicorn in her adventure. Though well-meaning, is usually considered to do poorly in magic.
- The Ageless: As a result of a spell cast upon him by his master, he will not age until he masters the usage of his magical power.
- Ambiguously Jewish: His name seems to indicate this, Schmendrick meaning "fool" in Yiddish.
- Beta Couple: With Molly.
- Blessed with Suck: Nikos considered his "gift" of immortality to him to be more of a curse than a blessing, especially since he is doomed to be an immortal incompetent, and to start aging again as soon as he actually becomes the great wizard he has the potential to be. As such, he has the perspective to see what's beautiful about mortality, though the unicorn doesn't understand him until she, as a human woman, falls in love.
- The Chew Toy: How other wizards constantly treat him. He eventually says he's tired of being laughed at.
- Court Mage: Becomes Haggard's. Entertaining him with magic tricks to distract him from their search for the Red Bull.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Usually the most Inept Mage you've ever seen, but when push comes to shove he is capable of channeling enormous magical power that rivals and even surpasses that of the greatest wizards.
- Deadpan Snarker: After trying and failing to help her magically, he resorts to stealing the keys to her cage. Then tells the Unicorn she deserves the services of a great wizard; she'll have to settle for a second rate pickpocket.
- Emergency Transformation: He does this to the unicorn when she is in trouble. He is eventually able to pull off an Emergency Re-Transformation.
- Functional Magic: For most of the movie, Schmendrick sucks majorly at wizardry and his attempts to cast spells constantly backfire. It is only by letting the magic do as it will that he is able to cast proper spells, though he has no control over their outcome. By the end of the film, however, he has full control of his powers."Magic, do as you will!"
- Geek Physique: Tall, thin, generally a bit scraggly.
- Giftedly Bad: With magic. His ineptitude is so vast that his old master Nikos became convinced that he must have great potential with magic that isn't coming out properly, and made him immortal so he could live long enough to get his act together and see his potential fulfilled.
- Green-Eyed Monster: After Molly first joins the party, he quickly becomes very jealous of the bond that forms between her and the unicorn, and the fact that the former can touch the latter while he can't. Bonus points for literally having green eyes.
- Inept Mage: He is completely incompetent at all magic but cheap circus tricks, and sometimes fumbles even those. Eventually subverted when it turns out he is actually Unskilled, but Strong.
- Jumped at the Call: Offers to join the Unicorn in her travels just after a few hours of knowing her.
- Magikarp Power: Schmendrick's magic. Similarly, see also Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
- Meaningful Name: A schmendrick is a foolish, dumb man. Guess how the rest of the characters treat our favorite magician.Haggard: A master magician has not made me happy. I will see what an incompetent one can do.
- Medium Awareness: Most characters seem to possess it in some way or the other, but he's the one who routinely explains things by the fact that they're in a story.
- My Greatest Failure: At the end of the novel, he apologizes to the unicorn for turning her human, and laments that he did her more harm than Mommy Fortuna, the Red Bull, and King Haggard combined. The unicorn reassures him.Schmendrick: I am sorry. I have done you a great evil and I cannot undo it.
Unicorn: No. Unicorns are in the world again. No sorrow will live in me with that joy save one. And I thank you for that part, too.
- Mystical High Collar: Schmendrick wears a flared collar with his robes.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: Schmendrick is unfazed by the unicorn/Amalthea being completely nude after he turns her into a human.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: When asked what he sees when he looks at the unicorn, Schmendrick claims to see only a white mare. But by his earlier startled look and stammering, it's obvious he knows exactly what she is. Mommy Fortuna also suspects that he's lying.
- Older Than They Look: Word of God says Schmendrick is anywhere between his early 40's to his 60's. (In the book he is The Ageless, made immortal by his old magic teacher to give him time to figure out his magic).
- Punny Name: As well as being a Yiddish word (see above), "Schmendrick the Magician" is also a pun on "Mandrake the Magician."
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Molly's Red. Initially played with in their first scene where he seems to take on the Red role.
- Robe and Wizard Hat: Both are stitched together from random bits of cloth, giving him the appearance of a very down-on-his-luck mage.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He routinely tries to impress or menace others by boasting about his great magical prowess, which is anything but (under normal circumstances). He's actually quite insecure, but pretending.
- Unskilled, but Strong: He has enormous raw magical power which occasionally allows him to pull off feats even great wizards would find impossible. "Occasionally" is the key word here. He has zero control over his full power, so 99% of the time he is an Inept Mage.
- Wild Magic: Every time Schmendrick tries to do magic, he can barely control it. The only spell he can cast without it backfiring on him for most of the film is "Magic, do what you will." It's implied in this universe magic is uncontrollable and behaves on a whim, so Schmendrick can only call for it, hope for the best and little else.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Only in the book and graphic novel. A great wizard named Nikos realized that Schmendrick was so incompetent, he must have a vast talent for magic which was working backwards, so he made him The Ageless so he'd have time to get himself together.
A middle aged woman who dreamt all her life of seeing unicorns until life shattered her dreams. She finally meets one during the story. Accompanies the Unicorn in her adventures and often tends to offer good (if blunt) counsel. She's also the only one that seems to be able to touch the unicorn in that form - this is explicit in the book where Schmendrick is jealous of this for a time (though it passes as their relationship grows), and the cat notes he will not touch even Amalthea lest he lose himself.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Not much, but she's described to look rather plain in the book, while in the movie she looks relatively younger and cuter.
- Barefoot Poverty/Does Not Like Shoes: She's shoeless probably because she's poor.
- Beta Couple: With Schmendrick.
- Broken Bird: Her life experiences have turned her a little cynical, but despite all that she still clings to her fantasy of meeting unicorns. It eventually turns real.
- Daydream Believer: Molly believes there really is a Robin Hood. She also believes there are unicorns. (She's right in the last, tho.)
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of her lines are delivered in this way.
- Deconstructed Trope: She eloped with Captain Cully as a young woman because she wanted to live Just Like Robin Hood, but learned the hard way that life with a bunch of outlaws on the road and in the woods wasn't as romantic as she had pictured it.
- Everyone Has Standards: She is horrified when she learns that Hagsgate leaves their children to die of exposure.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's described as pinched, bitter, and cynical, but she has a good heart under it all.
- Jumped at the Call: Decides to leave with Schmendrick and the unicorn within seconds of seeing the latter. However, she soon remarks that she was planning on leaving with Schmendrick even before she saw the unicorn.
- Meaningful Name: Molly can mean "bitter", and it surely fits with how she feels concerning Captain Cully.
- Misplaced Accent: Every Irish character in this movie has a British or American accent, but Molly is Scottish.
- Nice Girl: After she Took a Level in Kindness, she genuinely becomes this. She forms an Odd Friendship with Lír, happily feeds and chats with Haggard's four men-at-arms, and becomes very attentive and supportive to Schmendrick rather than mocking or berating him like when they first met.
- Odd Friendship: Develops one with Lír during her stay at King Haggard's.
- The Pigpen: Rare female version. She starts off very dusty, dirty, tattered, and grimy from a life of poverty out in the woods. This changes after living in Haggard's castle for a while.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Schmendrick's Blue.
- Scullery Maid: Molly takes a job as one in Haggard's castle.
- Team Mom: She's a very bitter and cynical one for Captain Cully's gang, and becomes a kind one in King Haggard's castle. She makes sure everyone is fed and looked after no matter where she goes, and offers a kind word and understanding ear for everyone in Haggard's castle. (The four men-at-arms, Prince Lír, the Lady Amalthea, and Schmendrick himself.)
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The rough, impoverished Tomboy to the Unicorn's/Amalthea's feminine Lady.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After leaving Captain Cully, she quickly starts to mellow out significantly.
- Wham Line: Puts a quick stop to Schmendrick's self-congratulatory speech when he thinks he's saved the day by transforming Amalthea into a human.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Surprises even herself by calling the unicorn out on her callousness, twice; first by claiming her time is more valuable than mortals, and then later for calling Schmendrick a fool when the latter works himself night and day trying to keep Haggard too distracted to realize she's a unicorn.
- When She Smiles: At the end of the book, after she lets her hair down and smiles for pure joy because all the unicorns in the world have been saved the narration (through Schmendrick's POV) remarks that she's even more beautiful than the Lady Amalthea.
A prince the unicorn meets during her adventure. Falls deeply in love with her, but she's initially cold to him.
- Adaptational Nice Guy: The film presents Lír as a genuine Prince Charming; somebody nice, caring and understanding. Meanwhile, the book reveals a few obvious flaws of him; such as breaking off his arranged marriage due to checking out another woman, and having a possessive streak over Amalthea.
- Challenge Seeker: Goes on many heroic quests off-screen, like battling orcs or solving riddles. It's done less to challenge himself but mostly to impress Amalthea.
- Character Development: Turns from a lazy schmuck into a noble hero. Book-verse mostly, since in the movie he's portrayed as perfectly adequate from the start. In the book it's stated often that before Lír met Amalthea, he was pretty lazy and unmotivated. After he falls for her he finds the will to go on heroic quests.
- Cry for the Devil: He is the only one to grieve for Haggard's death, and even then it's only a little.
- Disney Death: He is killed by the Red Bull towards the end of the film, but the unicorn uses her magic to bring him back to life.
- Dogged Nice Guy: He falls in love at first sight with Amalthea and does everything in his power to attract her attention, even killing giants and dragons. He's very pushy towards her even when she has expressed to have no desire to interact with him. It's hinted at some points that he loves her because he can project on to her his ideal of a perfect woman.
- Doorstep Baby: Haggard admits Lír is not his son but rather he found him on a doorstep as a baby where a peasant had left him. (In the book, he found him abandoned while traveling Hagsgate) Haggard adopted him to see if raising a child would bring him happiness, but it didn't last long.
- Entitled to Have You: Book-verse, but a few bits of dialogue here and there suggest Lír may have inherited some of Haggard's possessive tendencies regarding unicorns. The Lady Amalthea is in fear of him initially since she believes he wants her as much as the Red Bull does, and at one point Lír starts projecting onto her his ideal of a woman. In the movie their romance is portrayed more idealistically, but the book has a few red flags. He also breaks off his previous engagement to his fiancee due to being infatuated with Amalthea, and at the end of the book he becomes very bitter when the unicorn doesn't talk to him in his dream, and demands Schmendrick tell him where she is so he can hunt her down, and the glint in his eye reminds Schmendrick of Haggard's possessive attitude toward unicorns.
- Friendless Background: Tells the others when they leave that he's never had any friends before.
- Happily Adopted: Is a bit lonely but otherwise content living with Haggard.
- Heroic Sacrifice: He dies trying to protect the Unicorn from the Red Bull. He gets better though.
- Heartbroken Badass: Becomes this in the end. He's the new king of Haggard's kingdom and still a hero from all his deeds to win the Lady Amalthea, but deeply grieved that he can never be with the one he loves.
- Immortality Through Memory: Schmendrick comforts Lir by telling him Amalthea will remember him and his love "when human beings are fairy tales told by rabbits."
- It's All About Me: Downplayed. He starts off as a lazy bum, but starts to get his act together after falling in love with the Lady Amalthea. However, by his own admission he doesn't care about his heroic deeds as they're just a way to impress the Lady Amalthea. He's also indifferent when a dragon's burns cause his mare to die a slow and painful death (and acts surprised when the Lady Amalthea is driven to tears over it). While he develops an Odd Friendship with Molly Grue, he mostly just asks advice on how to woo Amalthea, and often cuts her off when she starts to talk about herself. He does eventually grow into a selfless hero, if bitterly.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Wants to be this for the Lady Amalthea; by fighting monsters and winning trophies and tributes. He eventually earns the title, but at the cost of his life. He gets better, though.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Book-only. By his own admission, he only becomes a Knight in Shining Armor to gain the Lady Amalthea's favor, and couldn't care less about the monsters he fights or people he saves but keeps at it just because he's gotten into a habit of it. While he does encourage the Lady Amalthea to find her people and become a unicorn again, he's also deeply bitter and grieved about it.
- Lady and Knight: The brave, selfless knight figure to Amalthea's elegant lady.
- Love at First Sight: By his side only. He gets so infatuated with Amalthea the moment he first sees her that he breaks off his engagement to his previous fiancé (book only). It's hinted at he only loves her for her beauty and due to projecting onto her the personality he finds more appealing for her. He certainly jumps at the chance to encourage her to forget the life she struggles to remember, and then happily rewrites her history and opinions for her when she becomes a meek, demure Princess Classic.
- Loved I Not Honor More: In the end, it's he who encourages the Lady Amalthea to find her people and become a unicorn again when all she wants is to abandon her quest to marry him, because as a hero he feels that quests shouldn't be abandoned in the middle. After the unicorn revives him and returns to her lilac wood, for a few wild moments he wants to find her, but Schmendrick convinces him that his duty to his people as a king and a hero come first.
- Meaningful Name: Lír is the name of the sea god in Irish Mythology. And it just so happens that he lives close to the sea...
- Medium Awareness: He seems to know he's a heroic character in a fairy tale.
- Odd Friendship: Develops one with Molly after she comes to Haggard's castle.
- The One That Got Away: In "Two Hearts", it's revealed that he pines after Amalthea into his old age.
- The Poorly Chosen One: Book-only; it's hinted that due to the bizarre circumstances of his birth (surrounded by stray cats as a baby, being the first and only child born in a generation), that by a prophecy he would be the one to bring down King Haggard. It isn't him, ultimately, but his actions do help the Unicorn in fulfilling the prophecy.
- Prince Charming: Initially seems this, but his myriad of flaws (in the book) and his sad ending prevents him from ever achieving properly the role.
- Scatterbrained Senior: Downplayed. In "Two Hearts", he's in his old age and is suffering Alzheimer's disease, making it difficult for him to remember when he is or who he's talking to. He bonds with Sooz because she helps him stay present.
- Understanding Boyfriend: Learning that Lady Amalthea is actually a unicorn in human form doesn't affect Prince Lír's feelings for her at all.Prince Lír: Unicorn, mermaid, sorceress... no name you could give her would surprise or frighten me. I love whom I love.
Schmendrick: Well, that's a very nice sentiment. But when I change her back into her true self —
Prince Lír: (firmly) I love whom I love.
- Warrior Prince: He's good with a sword and showcases courtly manners.
- That Was Not a Dream:Lír: Father? I had that dream again... no... I was dead. (with awe) I was dead.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Discussed and Averted. He realized nothing short of a unicorn would ever make his father happy, so he gave up trying years before we see him.
- The Wise Prince: Turns into one after loving the Lady Amalthea and growing into the true role of a hero: a selfless person willing to do the ultimate sacrifice.
The main villain of the story and Lír's adoptive father. Orders the Red Bull to capture all of the Unicorns and send them into the sea.
- All Take and No Give: He doesn't keep anything around that doesn't make him happy. He adopted Lír as an abandoned baby simply to find out if being a parent would make him happy, but quickly lost interest. And while he takes things that make him happy (and then discards them when they fail), he never creates or gives.
- Anti-Villain: The reason why he captured the unicorns. Not from greed, or a lust for power... but because they're the only thing that makes him happy.
- Badass Boast: After Haggard's Hannibal Lecture, he parts, saying, "You may come and go as you please. My secrets guard themselves... may yours do the same."
- Badass Normal:The only mortal to ever best the Red Bull and force it into serving him.
- Beard of Evil: He has a wicked white beard.
- Big Bad: King Haggard, kidnapper of unicorns
- The Collector: Of unicorns, of course.
- Disney Villain Death: The last we see of King Haggard is him plummeting to his death into the ocean after his castle's tower crumbles.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The first thing the unicorns do after being set free is to collapse his castle and kill him.
- Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Most apparent when he looks into the Lady Amalthea's eyes, and reflects none of the light they emit.
- The Eeyore: To the point that the only happiness he can feel is watching the unicorns he's imprisoned in the sea. He's tried other methods of feeling happy, including adopting the Prince, but none of them last for long.
- Evil Overlord: One of the few evil kings in fiction whose motivation isn't power (he's already a king during the events of the story and has no interest in riches or the palace life, based in what state the castle is in), but the consequences of his actions leave his kingdom in disarray anyway.
- Evil Sounds Deep: In the novel, his voice is described as more of a dry rustle, but what with being one of Christopher Lee's villains, he's a deep baritone in the film adaptation.
- Fisher King: Some people say his land was originally green but became rocky and barren when he entered it.
- For Happiness: His only motivation is to find things that make him happy.
- Good Parents: Haggard is a detestable person overall, and yet Lír never has a bad thing to say about him as a father.
- Hidden Depths: Haggard has sent away everyone except the absolute minimum staff in his castle, because he won't keep anything around that doesn't make him happy. There are so few people left, in fact, that he and Lír have to help with the cooking and doing shifts on guard duty. However, this indicates that doing these things actually does make Haggard at least a little happy. If they didn't, he would be happier with the extra employees (which makes sense - having work he needs to attend to is better than just sitting on his throne all day doing nothing).
- I Know You Know I Know: Haggard isn't fooled by Schmendrick's claims about Amalthea and almost immediately sees her for what she is, and both know it.
- Ink-Suit Actor: In the film, his facial features very much look like exaggerated versions of Christopher Lee's own.
- It Must Be Mine!: Haggard and "his" unicorns. Of note, even though he's got every single one except the title character, he's obsessed with having all of them. This obsession directly results in his demise. His speech provides the trope page quote.Haggard: There. There they are. There they are! They are MINE! They belong to ME! The Red Bull gathered them, one by one, and I bade him drive each one into the sea! ...I like to watch them. They fill me with joy. The first time I felt it, I thought I was going to die. I said to the Red Bull, "I must have them! I must have all of them, all there are! For nothing makes me happy... but their shining, and their grace." So the Red Bull caught them. Each time I see the unicorns - MY unicorns - it is like that morning in the woods, and I am truly young, in spite of myself!
- It's All About Me: His only thought and concern in the world is making himself happy. To that end, he'll use and discard anyone on a whim and capture and imprison all the unicorns in the world without a thought or care to how it affects them. Haggard's biggest vice, and greatest danger, is his selfishness and obsessiveness.
- King Incognito: The doormen that let the gang into the castle turn out to be Haggard and Lír.
- Meaningful Name: He's old and looks very gaunt and wasted.
- Motive Rant: Haggard has one when he wistfully tells Lady Amalthea why he holds all the unicorns prisoner in the sea.
- Oddly Small Organization: His court only consists of four men at arms because he only keeps people around if they make him happy. Haggard will have nothing around him that does not make him happy, so he cut his castle's staff to such an absolute minimum that he and his son have to take a shift guarding the castle gates on occasion.
- Pet the Dog: Haggard admits he only adopted Lír for the purpose of seeing if it would stir him to love and gradually found not even parenthood could reliably fill the emptiness within him. Nevertheless, Haggard has continued to faithfully raise Lír well into adulthood after the point where Haggard abandoned everything else in his castle that didn't make him happy. Lír, for his part, never has a negative thing to say about his father despite his pop's objectively evil actions.
- Sour Outside, Sad Inside: His reason for capturing the unicorns in the first place.
- Tragic Villain: He's never felt happiness in his life before he saw the unicorns. This prompts him to capture them. One of the darkest examples of this trope as there doesn't seem to be a specific reason for his depression, so he selfishly keeps the beauty of those miracles away from the world, making both them and the rest of the world miserable, in order to keep this single pleasant feeling that they give him.
A, well, butterfly that the unicorn encounters in the forest. He's the first being that gives her a clue about the other unicorns' whereabouts.
- Author Avatar: Beagle has stated frequently in interviews that the butterfly who constantly quotes song lyrics is supposed to be him (Beagle is fond of songs). In a meta-sense, he explains that he, the author, needed a reason for the Unicorn to start her quest, therefore he inserted himself in the form of the butterfly to tell the story of the Red Bull that the unicorn could not have otherwise learned. In the film adaptation, it even has a scruffy beard resembling Peter's own at the time he wrote the book (even including the funky beret).
- Cloudcuckoolander: The butterfly sings songs, recites poetry, quotes a warning from a matchbox at one point, and occasionally says something useful. It's at least implied, if not stated outright, that verbatim parroting what he's heard others say before is actually the only way any butterfly can talk at all. He seems to understand what the unicorn is after well enough, though. ("The king is in the counting house — counting, counting!")
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: The butterfly has some good advice hidden in his string of nonsense songs.
- A Butterfly Named Butterfly
- Speaks in Shout-Outs: The Butterfly speaks only in poetry and song.
A witch that captures the unicorn during her adventures, and the owner of the Midnight Carnival. Is pretty poor at magic, hence why she captures normal animals and enchants them to resemble mythological creatures. Her fate changes the day she captures a real harpy and unicorn, though not for the better.
- Alas, Poor Villain: She wasn't a good person by any means, but Schmendrick still mourns for her death, regreting that his actions led to it.
- Bad Boss: She exploits Schmendrick and belittles his magic capacity at any opportunity she gets. She also threatens to feed Rukh's liver to the harpy, and means it.
- Bad People Abuse Animals: The animals left in her care are in very bad shape, like a chimp with a broken ankle or an old lion that's missing all of its teeth.
- Creepy Crows: She kept one as a pet. After her death he follows Schmendrick and Amalthea in their adventures and eventually goes on to live with the unicorn in her forest.
- Death Seeker/Immortality Seeker: Mommy Fortuna knows full well that the harpy will eventually escape and kill her. In fact, that's what she wants to happen; the harpy is immortal, and will never forget the woman who captured and held her. "So there's my immortality, eh?"Unicorn: She chose her death long ago.
- Defiant to the End: Rather than just quietly slip away once the Harpy is freed, she instead openly invites it to kill her, her last breath spent mocking it:Mommy Fortuna: Not alone! You never could have freed yourselves alone! I HELD YOU!!
- Hidden Depths: She has just enough magic to make the unicorn believe (even for a brief moment) that she's starting to age, and that a little spider's web is really Arachne's weave.
- Jaded Washout: Reveals to the unicorn that she knows her magic is a sham, and angrily asks if the unicorn really believes that becoming a third-rate carnival mistress peddling third-rate illusions to gullible peasants is what she wanted to be when she was young and full of ambition?
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Downplayed. Her illusions are still just that, but people's belief makes her illusions stronger. Her customers see fantastical beasts in her midnight carnival because they want to see magical creatures, and the spider's web is stronger than most of the other illusions because the spider truly believes it's really weaving Arachne's web.
Mommy Fortuna's not too bright assistant. Conducts the guests through the Midnight Carnival.
- The Igor: He's a hunchbacked little man who works as Mommy Fortuna's loyal, if surly, assistant.
The Harpy Celeano
The one true mythological creature, aside from the unicorn, that Mommy Fortuna captured. She awaits the day she is freed.
- Ax-Crazy: She's locked in a state of perpetual homicidal rage, and the first thing she does upon being freed is try to kill the very unicorn who released her.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Rather disgustingly averted, for her three saggy breasts have rather visible nipples.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Unicorn implies this is the case, as she doesn't seem to hold Celeano trying to kill her against the Harpy, and implies this is simply her nature period.
- Feathered Fiend: She persuades the Unicorn into freeing her — "We are sisters, you and I..." — and then tries to kill her once she does so.
- Harping on About Harpies: She's called a harpy, though the only real humanoid part of her in the film are the breasts. Celeano otherwise looks like a demonic vulture.
- Multiboobage: The Harpy has three breasts.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Discussed. Releasing her will mean certain death to everyone in the area. However, it's noted that since she's immortal, Celeano's breakout is not just likely, but inevitable. Mommy Fortuna knows the harpy will kill her eventually, and the Unicorn opts to free her despite the danger she poses because if she doesn't, Celeano will bear a grudge and hunt her down.
- Toothy Bird: In addition to her beak, the movie also gives the harpy some scary-looking fangs.
- Ungrateful Bitch: The harpy, who immediately attacks the unicorn three times after she sets her free before turning her wrath on Mommy Fortuna and her assistant. (The unicorn expected this to be the case. She freed the harpy anyway, because she couldn't bear to leave a fellow immortal being caged and knew if she didn't, the Harpy would hold a grudge on her and never stop chasing her.)
- Vile Vulture: Her design in the film is based on a vulture, which just makes her all the more monstrous.
- Vocal Dissonance: In the film, she is obviously voiced by a male.
The leader of the Merry Men-wannabes group of outlaws that reside in the forest and capture Schmendrick. Is stated to be Molly's old flame yet still clings on to his fantasy about their group being a genuine band of heroic outlaws.
- Attention Whore: He gets rather put out when "Robin Hood" appears.
- Berserk Button: He is offended when Molly requests a song about Robin Hood, deriding him as a myth.
- Just Like Robin Hood: Captain Cully and his outlaw gang certainly aspire to be, but instead are quite the opposite. They rob the poor because they can't fight back, and pay off the rich to turn a blind eye.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He thinks of himself as a romantic folk hero, but in reality he's just a petty brigand who doesn't understand the hopes and dreams of his crew.
The Red Bull
The fiery demonic creature that Haggard commands; he's tasked with finding all of the unicorns in the land and drive them into the sea. His first encounter with the unicorn is what leads to Schmendrick transforming her to save her.
- Animalistic Abomination: It's less a bull and more a manifestation of fear that looks like one.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Subverted. He is a mindless entity who works for Haggard who however would never have been able to capture the unicorns without it.
- Graceful Loser: The Bull doesn't bother counter-attacking the Unicorn. It simply concedes defeat and walks back into the sea. This is because it serves those who feel no fear, and thus her overcoming her fear of it gives her power over it.
- Our Demons Are Different: The Red Bull is a massive, fiery red bull with tusks and glowing eyes.
- Supernatural Fear Inducer: It's implied to be some kind of fear elemental and fills any creature that encounters it with blind terror. Notably, only someone who has no fear can claim control over it.
A cat the trio encounters while on Haggard's castle. Initially gives Molly some advice on how to find the bull, but is mystic about it.
- Cats Are Snarkers: Not actually mean but he is a trickster, and could probably give more help than he does.Molly: Why won't you help me? Why must you always speak in riddles.Cat: Because I be what I be. I would tell you what you want to know if I could, mum. But I be a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer. (removes the eye patch to wink at Molly with an undamaged, working eye)
- Cats Are Superior: He states that cats, unlike humans, are not deceived by appearances, being able to know Amalthea was a unicorn from the start.Cat: No cat out of her first fur was ever deceived by appearances. Unlike humans, who seem to enjoy it.
- A Cat Named Cat
- Furry Reminder: He may talk and style himself like a pirate, but he's still a cat who does cat-like things, including playing with a ball, rubbing his body against people's legs, and yowling when aggravated.
- Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: He doesn't purr in the movie, he just says "purr."
- Small Role, Big Impact: He only talks in one scene, but he points the protagonists in the direction they need to go with his riddle.
- Talk Like a Pirate: The cat, who also sports an eyepatch and pegleg (the former apparently a complete affectation, since at one point he switches which eye it covers to reveal a perfectly normal eye had been behind it).
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Of course, in a world with dragons and harpies, Molly isn't shocked the cat can talk, just that it didn't speak up sooner.Molly: Oh! You can talk!
A talking skeleton the trio encounters in the undergrounds of Haggard's castle, guarding the passageway to where the Red Bull is hidden. Getting him to speak would allow them to enter into the Red Bull's lair.
- Beware the Silly Ones: He acts more like a jester than anything, laughing, poking fun at the protagonists, and being a huge buffoon. However, he stops being jolly and becomes a lot more menacing the second he notices the unicorn.
- By the Eyes of the Blind:Skull: Oh, no. No, you don't. Not that one. Unicorn! Unicorn! Haggard! Haggard! UNICORN! UNICORN! Haggard, where are you? There they go! Down to the Red Bull! The clock, Haggard! There they go! Unicorn! UNICORN!
- Dem Bones: The guardian of the passageway that leads to the Red Bull is also a skeleton.
- Drunk on Milk: He gets tipsy just by "drinking" an empty bottle, the mere memory of wine being enough to give him a buzz.
- Friendly Skeleton: The skeleton that guards the way to the Red Bull is jovial, though he isn't exactly on the protaganists' side.
- Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: The skull, during the "HAGGARD! HAGGARD!! UNICORN!" tirade.
- The Hyena: He spends most of his screentime laughing his skull off.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Skull displays such eyes when he recognizes the eponymous character for what she truly is. See also Glowing Eyelights of Undeath.
- Through a Face Full of Fur: The Skull turns rosy-cheeked as it empties a bottle of "wine."