The Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1938 Warner Bros. Swashbuckler film, directed by Michael Curtiz, William Keighley, and B. Reeves Eason, and starring Errol Flynn, considered by many the definitive cinematic version of the Robin Hood legend. The film won three Academy Awards, for Best Art Direction (Carl Jules Weyl), Best Film Editing (Ralph Dawson), and Best Original Score (Erich Wolfgang Korngold).
The film was originally intended as a vehicle for James Cagney, who had gained critical approval for playing Bottom the Weaver in Warners' 1935 production of William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream — but when Cagney walked out on his Warners' contract, the project was retooled to accommodate rising Warners' star Errol Flynn, who had in that same year made a huge impression as the swashbuckling lead of the pirate romance, Captain Blood. Olivia de Havilland, having appeared in both movies, was a natural for the part of Lady Marian. Korngold, too, had been associated with the same two films, as adaptor of Felix Mendelssohn's theatrical music for Dream and as composer of a (mostly) original score for Captain Blood. Basil Rathbone, having displayed in Captain Blood as the evil pirate Levasseur a fine talent for fencing and sneering villainy, was tapped to play the part of Sir Guy of Gisbourne. When director William Keighley was determined by the Warner brothers to be too dilatory and measured in his approach to the film, he was replaced with yet another Captain Blood alumnus, hard-driving director Michael Curtiz.
The script, by Seton I. Miller and Norman Reilly Raine, was considerably more faithful to both the matter and the spirit of the original Robin Hood ballads than earlier dramatic versions. This was largely in reaction to Robin Hood (1922) starring Douglas Fairbanks, which had focused on a Knight in Shining Armor version of Robin, with much screen time devoted to The Crusades and tournaments and relatively little to the character's woodland outlawry. Early drafts of the script omitted Marian entirely, as Miller insisted that she was not part of the original mythos at all; fortunately, the Rule of Cool (romance division) and the chemistry between Flynn and de Havilland ensured her appearance in the final version. Miller did manage to include many elements of the ballads: the quarterstaff bout between Robin and Little John, Robin forcing Friar Tuck to carry him across the stream, even (delicately, for fear of the Catholic Legion of Decency) Robin's antipathy to bishops, though a sequence showing an exchange of fisticuffs with the disguised King in Sherwood was cut in the final edit. On the other hand, many elements that came into the legend only later were also incorporated into this version, such as the identification of the King with Richard I from the Tudor historian John Major; the treachery of Prince John, the identification of Maid Marian with the King's ward Lady Fitzwalter, and Robin's elevation to the nobility, from Anthony Mundy's Elizabethan plays; and the struggle between Normans and Saxons from Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.
Erich Wolfgang Korngold was initially reluctant to be associated with the "90% action picture"; however, the Warners were insistent, offering extremely generous payment for his services, and he at last agreed, leaving his native Austria just in time to escape its annexation by Those Wacky Nazis in March 1938. The Jewish Korngold was later accustomed to say, "Robin Hood saved my life." It is said that Warners provided a voluminous report on 12th century music to the composer, which he promptly dumped into the wastebasket (but see Regional Riff, below); in the event, Korngold's lush Late Romantic score, characterized by Wagnerian themes and Leitmotiifs, not only won the Academy Award, but set a pattern for Film Music that has lasted down to the days of John Williams and Hans Zimmer.
Other notable talents engaged for the film included fencing master Fred Cavens (yet another veteran of Captain Blood!) to choreograph the swords and champion archer Howard Hill to perform the film's archery (and to appear in the small part of "Captain of Archers"). There is some debate as to whether Hill actually accomplished the famous shot with which Robin splits an arrow with another arrow (the MythBusters actually tested this one out), but it seems most likely that some form of staging was used. Various stuntmen were paid an extra $150 (the equivalent of $2800 in 2016) to allow Hill to shoot them in their specially padded torsos.
He is opposed by the Saxon knight, Sir Robin of Locksley (Errol Flynn), who, as the outlaw Robin Hood, gathers a band of Saxon resistance fighters, including Will Scarlet (Patric Knowles), Much the Miller's Son (Herbert Mundin), Little John (Alan Hale, Sr., reprising the rôle he had played 16 years before in the Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., silent), and Friar Tuck (Eugene Palette).
After Robin has stolen back the ransom money (and in the process won the heart of Lady Marian), he is taken prisoner at the archery tournament when his brilliant archery reveals who he is; he subsequently escapes (with Marian's aid, we are told).
Shortly thereafter, King Richard has returned to England in disguise; he is recognized by the Bishop, who informs Prince John and Sir Guy. When Marian overhears their plot to send the disgraced former knight Dickon Malbête to murder the king, she is detected by Sir Guy trying to send a warning, arrested, and condemned to death, but her lady-waiting, Bess, warns Much, who intercepts and kills Dickon. Meanwhile, Richard, in the guise of an abbot, has allowed himself to be captured by Robin.
When Much reveals John's plot and Marian's condemnation, they devise a plan to crash Prince John's coronation, disguised as the Bishop of the Black Canons' followers. A melee breaks out; Robin and Guy fight, and Guy is killed. Robin frees Marian. King Richard banishes Prince John, the Sheriff, the Bishop, and their followers from England for the remainder of his lifetime; pardons the men of Sherwood, and rewards Robin with an earldom and the hand of Lady Marian in marriage.
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Ace: Robin, naturally.
- Ascended Extra: Guy of Gisbourne.
- Actually, I Am Him: Richard and his men disguise themselves as clergy to avoid assassins and fall in with Robin's men. When Much brings news of the plot against Richard, Robin immediately starts dispatching his men to find him, only for the "abbot" to inform him that Richard is in very good hands and take off his cloak.
- Affably Evil: Prince John is a smiling, jolly, Prince of a fellow — even while he is ordering a minion to stab Robin in the back.
- Annoying Arrows: Averted as being hit by Robin's arrows is apparently instant death, justified of course by the fact that we are talking about Robin Hood here...
- Archer Archetype: Again, this is Robin Hood, what'd you expect?
- Artistic License History:
- The Bishop of the Black Canons asks Prince John by what authority he claims to receive the blessing of the Church as Defender of the Holy Sepulcher. This is arrant nonsense, as the Defender of the Holy Sepulcher was the title of Godfrey de Bouillon as Christian ruler of Jerusalem and had nothing to do with England at all. (Oddly enough, the real Prince John as a boy actually was offered the position of Defender of the Holy Sepulcher, but his father turned it down for him, and sent him to Ireland instead.)
- There were no Saxon earls. The Saxon nobility had been wiped out by the Norman Conquest some time before the Plantagenets, with much of them dying at Hastings and the rest being killed/driven away later.
- Richard II was the first English king to use the style "Your Majesty" and "Your Highness," and given what happened to him the precedent didn't stick. It wasn't until Henry VIII began using it that it stuck.
- Referring to a king's son as "Prince" would not occur until the sixteenth century with Henry VIII's son Edward. At this time, a king's son would be called "Earl" or "Lord." Given John's position of Lord of Ireland he'd be more likely to be called "Lord John."
- On the subject of going on Crusade, Richard states that he "never should have left" England." Due to the court of what we now call the "Angevin Empire" being held in either Angers or Chinon even if his reign had not been consisted of mostly military activity he would not have spent the majority of it in England.
- Asshole Victim: Pretty much everyone Robin and co. take out, but special mention goes to the guy who insists a Saxon peasant be flogged beyond what he can endure, as well as the guy who orders another peasant hanged for unclear reasons. Even their own Mooks think they're going too far. Both of them get a much deserved arrow in the chest, courtesy of an offscreen Robin.
- Attempted Rape: During the On Patrol Montage, one of Prince John's Mooks about to rape a Saxon girl. Robin Hood puts a stop to that villainy with an arrow in the blackguard's back.
- Awesome Moment of Crowning: The coronation scene was probably inspired by the coronation of George VI of England. Subverted, ultimately, because stopping the coronation is the climax of the movie.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Friar Tuck and Little do this during the final battle.
- Badass Boast: Robin announces his plans to raise La Résistance right to Prince John's face in Nottingham. And when Little John says he'll only yield to a better man himself, Robin makes this reply:"He stands before you."
- Badass Crew: The Merry Men, of course.
- Badass Preacher: Friar Tuck, who carries an impressive sword.
- Balcony Wooing Scene: Robin climbs up to Marian's window for a romantic meeting where he hangs on the outside of the building and she leans out to kiss him.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Robin escapes from the banquet by telling a bunch of guards (who are apparently not up on current events) to block the door at all costs in a very authoritative manner and moving too quickly for them to get a good look at him. They dutifully hold back Gisborne and the other knights long enough for Robin and Will to ride off unimpeded.
- Beta Couple: Much and Bess.
- Big Bad: Prince John Lackland, The Usurper of the throne of England.
- Big Damn Heroes: Robin's introduction for one.
- Blade Lock: Allows Robin and Sir Guy to exchange some choice taunts. (Fortunately, though, the scripted one where Robin tells Sir Guy, "You've been eating...onions," was dropped from the filmed version.)
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Robin shoots Gisborne's sword out of his hand at the start of the film.
- Bling of War: Richard's bright red tabard with gold lions. No wonder he needed such a dark cloak to cover it up.
- Blue Blood: Marian, Guy, and Robin are all of the nobility, though Robin is a Saxon Earl — an important distinction — who clearly loves the life of the forester.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Little John, of course, possibly the Trope Codifier in English literature.
- Bow and Sword, in Accord: Robin is an expert fencer and bowman. (He also wields the quarterstaff, to somewhat less effect.)
- Broken Smile: The Bishop bears one when he leads the procession of monks to the coronation, because the one immediately behind him is Robin, jabbing a knife in his back and telling him to look more cheerful. (His smile is genuine, but it doesn't reach his eyes.)
- ...But He Sounds Handsome: Not quite a compliment, but when Little John asks supposed abbot Richard The Lion Heart, "What? Are you friendly to our good King Richard?" The "abbot" replies, "I love no man better."
- The Cameo: Howard Hill, the archer who fired all the arrows in the film, plays the man in the archery contest who scores a bullseye only to have Robin split his arrow (of course, he really fired that shot too).
- Composite Character: Will Scarlet was intended as a composite of the deceptively foppish Will Scarlet of the stories and of the minstrel Allan a Dale.
- Cool Horse: Maid Marian's horse is Roy Rogers' horse Trigger.
- Corrupt Church: The evil Bishop of the Black Canons.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Robin Hood's first meeting with Friar Tuck results in the two of them crossing blades in the middle of a small lake. After a few minutes of requisite Flynning, Robin offers Tuck free food and ale if he joins his Merry Men. Tuck answers, "If you had said so sooner you could have saved us both a wetting!"
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Much, who despite not being particularly bright and kind of a klutz is a gifted hunter and manages to kill Dickon Malbete in a one on one fight.
- The Dead Have Names: One of the knights names those killed by Robin, but an impatient Guy cuts him off and orders him not to tell him their names.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Little John knocks Robin into the river with a quarterstaff, much to Robin's amusement and respect.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Marian is certainly not impressed with Robin on their first meeting. She warms up after seeing the horrors that John is perpetuating and Robin's kindness to the victims.
- Demoted to Extra: Robin's usual major adversary the Sheriff of Nottingham is reduced to a comic relief Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, with Guy of Gisbourne taking over the role.
- Diegetic Switch: The rolling tympani with which the main title music ends are seen to be played by mounted drummers accompanying the town crier.
- The Dragon: Guy of Gisborne, who must be defeated before Robin Hood can rescue Marian.
- Dramatic Unmask: Though rather more a dramatic unhooding, this happens twice in the film, when Richard reveals that he is the King to Robin and his men in the forest, and when Richard reveals that he is the King and Robin and his men reveal that they are ... Robin and his men at the coronation.
- Duel to the Death: A great one between Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne.
- Establishing Character Moment: Robin Hood's Big Damn Heroes moment shooting Guy's club out of his hand as he's about to strike a peasant.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- During a scene where a Norman lord is having a peasant whipped, he calls for the poor man to be whipped past what he can endure. The one who speaks up on the peasant's behalf is, interestingly, the guy who just got done doing the whipping. He looks somewhat distressed and refuses to continue, saying that if they keep it up, the man will die. Apparently, he's willing to beat a man within an inch of his life - but no further.
- The Bishop protests John's plan to have Richard murdered in his sleep, although he's the one who informed on him. John threatens to reveal his illicit activities to force his compliance.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Prince John and his followers often scoff at the idea that Robin would protect the Saxons against them, and are offended when accused of committing evil.
- The Evil Prince: Again, Prince John.
- Expy: In The Mark of Zorro, made two years after this film, Eugene Pallette would play another militant churchman, Fray Felipe, a character obviously based on Friar Tuck. Moreover, Marian's lady-in-waiting, Bess (Una O'Connor) who has "had the bans up five times," is clearly modeled on the Wife of Bath in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
- Eye Scream: Robin's list of Norman atrocities in his Rousing Speech to the Saxons includes "blindings with hot irons," at which we see a man with an eyepatch.
- Fallen Hero: A minor example in Dickon. He was a knight in Richard's court until he turned to evil and became a Psycho for Hire, whereupon Richard stripped him of his knighthood, lands, and titles. He thereafter drifted into John's service. The other knights, corrupt though they may be, don't seem to like him.
- Fanfare: Korngold composed several for this film, notably one on solo trumpet for Robin (reused in his symphonic piece, Sursum Corda) and a recurring one for the Normans.
- Five-Man Band: Robin Hood, who is leading the revolt against Prince John; Will Scarlet, Robin Hood's right-hand man; Friar Tuck, who runs the Saintly Church; Little John, a Boisterous Bruiser who beats Robin in a quarterstaff fight; and Lady Marian.
- Flynning: Fred Cavens deliberately designed all the movements of the duels to be as large and visible as possible. This is the benchmark for cinematic sword fights, rarely equaled and never surpassed.
- Foreign Ruling Class: The Norman lords oppressing the Saxon peasants.
- The Full Name Adventures: You were expecting The Adventures of Someone Else?
- The Glomp: The film ends with the Merry Men glomping Robin and Marian; good thing Robin can Offscreen Teleport.
- Historical-Domain Character: Richard the Lionheart and Prince John.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Richard is lionized, as usual. It's now widely known that Richard was as much a bastard as the other Plantagenets. Rather than being The Good King, he himself strapped his subjects to fund his crusading and while he was still lord of the Aquitaine, had to spend much of his time putting down uprisings against his own brutal rule.
- Hollywood Costuming: The clothing worn by the characters resembles late thirteenth or early fourteenth century clothing more than the rather more simply cut costumes of the late twelfth century. Though fashions did change rather more slowly in the Middle Ages, this is a bit like dressing George Washington like Robert E. Lee.
- I'm Not Hungry: As Marian tells Robin after she has been captured with the Norman treasure-caravan, "I'm afraid the company has spoiled my appetite." (She tries to sneak a bite while he's not looking, though...unsuccessfully.)
- Insult Backfire: "Why, you speak treason!" "Fluently!"
- King Incognito: Richard first appears in the film as a traveling pilgrim, then as a wandering abbot, then as one of the Bishop's black canons. Mostly it's to avoid John's men, but he keeps up with the act when he runs into the men of Sherwood and hears Robin's opinion of a king who goes off fighting foreign wars and leaves his own people undefended.
- Kneel Before Frodo: "All these...have remained loyal."
- Knight Templar: Implied since Prince John and his followers often get offended when accused of treachery, selfishness, and cruelty.Robin: Now with the help of this sweet band of cutthroats, you'll try to grind a ransom for him out of every helpless Saxon. A ransom that'll be used not to release Richard, but to buy your way to the throne.
Sir Guy: (furious) Let me ram those words down his throat, Your Highness!
- Lack of Empathy: Prince John and his followers are not just utterly indifferent to the suffering they inflict upon the Saxons; they also think that they are justified in doing so. One notable example is during the On Patrol Montage, when a Norman lord orders one of the Saxons to be whipped beyond what they can endure.Norman Lord: String him up again!
Norman Soldier: He'll die if we lash again, my lord.
Norman Lord: Oh, he'll die, will he? Another one of their Saxon impudences. They'll do anything to trick us. Continue!
- Land in the Saddle: Robin pulls off this jump with his hands tied behind his back. (Well, he's supposed to — if you watch closely, the stunt guy's hands move in front of his body in one shot.)
- Left the Background Music On: The main theme that plays over the opening credits ends with the accompaniment of several drums. As the film starts, we see these drums are in the film itself, calling attention to the town crier.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: It's Much the Miller's Son, the film's Plucky Comic Relief, of all the people who intercepts and kills Dickon on his way to assassinate King Richard.
- Maid and Maiden: Marian and Bess.
- Men of Sherwood: Robin's men not only competently carry out the attack on Sir Guy's treasure caravan, but they also execute Robin's rescue from hanging even without his leadership. (The Trope Namer)
- MOHS Scale Of Violence Hardness: It scores a 2.
- Mook Lieutenant: Dickon, the disgraced former knight who Richard stripped of his lands and titles. He now commands John's guards.
- Musicalis Interruptus (sort of): The film features Will Scarlet as Robin's sidekick, presenting him as a minstrel-like figure (the usual minstrel figure, Allan-a-Dale, does not appear in the film). In the original script, Will actually was to have sung a song; however, an agreement with MGM prevented Warners from including any original musical numbers in their films in 1938, so Will's minstrelsy is reduced to a few chords on a mandolin at the beginning of Robin's quarterstaff bout with Little John. In effect, the Interruptus took place before he even...er...touched his G-string.
- Never Bareheaded: Marian has only one scene in which she's not wearing a headdress.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: For all his awesome moments throughout, Robin's slip that gives him away at the archery tournament was his stupid downfall. The Merry Men had even said earlier that they think the tournament is a trap, but Robin Hood ignored them and said, "Well, what of it?"
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Prince John does this to Robin near the beginning, while Robin and his men likewise entertain the Sheriff, Guy, and Marian somewhat later.
- Notable Original Music: Korngold's lush romantic score, dubbed "Robin Hood in the Vienna Woods" by one wag. Notable for its use of Leitmotif.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Of the main cast, only Prince John, the Sheriff, the Bishop, Will Scarlet, and Much are played by actual Englishmen, although King Richard and Sir Guy, both South Africans, and Robin, a Tasmanian, still speak received English. Maid Marian was of British parentage, though born in Tokyo and raised in California, and her maid Bess was from Northern Ireland. Little John and Friar Tuck remain thoroughly American, particularly the latter — yet somehow this seems less disturbing than in other Robin Hood films. Sheer style, perhaps?
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: The film slightly reshuffles the usual villain roles, leaving us with Sir Guy as The Dragon to Prince John's Big Bad — the Sheriff is pretty much demoted to a Cowardly Sidekick. Oddly enough, though, the Sheriff, despite his surface buffoonery, is clever enough a) to realize Prince John's treasure caravan should take extra precautions against Robin Hood (he is overruled by Sir Guy), b) to devise a plan that actually captures Robin, and c) to survive the big final battle and to be merely exiled rather than executed.
- Oh, Crap!: John's reaction when his coronation is spoiled by the arrival of a very much alive and well Richard leading Robin's forces in an attack.
- On Patrol Montage: The sequence where the Merry Men are shooting many Norman knights dead for their crimes in Prince John's name.
- The Pardon: Robin's first request when asked what reward he wishes — for all his men.
- People of Hair Color: Largely averted. We are told of the dissension between Normans and Saxons, but its racial aspect is not notably stressed. Of the principals, on the Saxon side, only Will Scarlet is portrayed as a blond (possibly the better to contrast with his costume); Robin, Little John, Friar Tuck, and Much have light to medium brown hair. Of the Normans, King Richard (so far as we can tell) has brown hair; Prince John has dark red hair; Marian has reddish-brown hair; the Bishop has gray hair; Sir Guy and the rest of the Norman knights have dark brown to black hair. One may compare these portrayals to those of Howard Pyle◊ or N.C. Wyeth.
- Purple Prose: The original script was full of it, but Curtiz thankfully had it toned down.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The On Patrol Montage climaxes with a man being beaten up and his daughter is about to be raped by one Mook. Robin Hood makes sure that blackguard pays instantly for his villainy.
- Reality Is Unrealistic:
- Many people have cited the shots of people being shot with arrows as looking unrealistic. In actuality, stuntmen were paid $150 an arrow to be legitimately shot while wearing protection, covered by a thin piece of wood for the arrow to stick in.
- Most viewers likely applaud the film for the historical accuracy of Marian riding sidesaddle. In fact, the forward-facing sidesaddle wasn't invented until the 1500s, and it wasn't until three centuries later that the leaping horn was added, allowing women to control horses at a gallop — until then, women who rode sidesaddle had their horses led by men, and women who rode independently rode astride (as Marion does in Robin of Sherwood). This may have been artistic license for safety reasons — an accurate period sidesaddle would have been an insurance nightmare — or it may have been done to add to the period feel of the film.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Marian delivers one to Prince John at her sentencing:Sir Guy: Not only has she consorted with this Saxon rebel, found guilty of outlawry, theft, murder, abduction, and high treason, but she has betrayed her own Norman people. Are you not ashamed my Lady Marian?Marian: Yes, I am, bitterly, but it's the shame that I'm a Norman, after seeing the things my fellow countrymen have done to England. At first, I wouldn't believe. Because I was a Norman, I wouldn't let myself believe that the horrors you inflicted on the Saxons were just and right. I know now why you tried so hard to kill this outlaw whom you despise. It's because he was the one man in England who protected the helpless against a lot of beasts who were drunk on human blood. And now you intend to murder your own brother.Prince John: You'll be sorry you interfered.Lady Marian: Sorry? I'd do it again if you killed me for it.
- Regional Riff: In a variation that might be called a "Temporal Riff," Little John appears whistling a tune called "Sumer is icumen in," the oldest known secular song in English. (Maybe Korngold Did Do The Research, after all.)
- Rightful King Returns: Who says he "ought never to have left England." (Unlike the real Richard, who liked England least of the Angevin domains yet at the same time only had to leave England because Philip of France had conquered the Angevin domain of Normandy. Indeed it was his war with Philip that was the ultimate reason he never returned to England: he died during it.)
- Right in Front of Me: While escorting a cloaked abbot through Sherwood, Robin makes some passionate criticisms of King Richard's irresponsible Crusading and says that the suffering of the people is Richard's fault as much as anyone for leaving England in the hands of people like his brother. The audience already knows the abbot is Richard in disguise and he smiles as he listens to this. When he reveals himself, he admits that Robin was quite right.note
- Rousing Speech: Robin delivers one to his Merry Men:I've called you here as freeborn Englishmen, loyal to our king. While he reigned over us, we lived in peace. But since Prince John has seized the regency, Guy of Gisbourne and the rest of his traitors have murdered and pillaged. You've all suffered from their cruelty - the ear loppings, the beatings, the blindings with hot irons, the burning of our farms and homes, the mistreatment of our women. It's time to put an end to this! Now, this forest is wide. It can shelter and clothe and feed a band of good, determined men - good swordsmen, good archers, good fighters. Men, if you're willing to fight for our people, I want you! Are you with me? Then kneel, and swear this oath: That you, the freemen of this forest, swear to despoil the rich only to give to the poor, to shelter the old and the helpless, to protect all women rich or poor, Norman or Saxon. Swear to fight for a free England. To protect her loyally until the return of our King and sovereign Richard the Lion Heart. AND SWEAR THE FIGHT TO THE DEATH AGAINST OUR OPPRESSORS!
- Saintly Church: Friar Tuck.
- Simple Staff: Little John makes excellent use of a plain wooden staff and suggests he bill Robin for the education.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Marian, eagerly discussing Robin with Bess, says "he's brave and reckless, and yet he's gentle, too, not brutal like—" Like whom, Marian?
- Smug Snake:
- Prince John.
- Gisborne is entirely assured that his treasure caravan doesn't need to take the sensible precaution of scouting the surrounding woods because they're so well-armed... not fully grasping that Robin Hood is a Guile Hero.
- Splitting the Arrow: Probably the most famous example and in many ways the Trope Codifier.
- The Trickster: What Robin is when not fighting for the people. He's glib, sarcastic, and enjoys playing japes and pranks on people—pranking and humiliating a priest with a sword is how he recruits Friar Tuck.
- *Twang* Hello: Several cackling Normans are on the receiving end of this in the form of Robin's black arrow.
- Villainous Breakdown: Both Prince John and Guy of Gisborne experience this when King Richard reveals himself in front of him, with Robin following suit.John: He's lying! He's an imposter!
Guy: It's a trick of the outlaws! KILL HIM! SEIZE HIM!
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Little John and Friar Tuck size each other up multiple times yet also work greatly as a team when besting Prince John's army.
- War Was Beginning: "In the year of Our Lord 1191, when Richard the Lion-Heart set forth to drive the infidels from the Holy Land..."
- What You Are in the Dark: When the King in disguise sees Robin frantically ordering a massive search for the King to get him to safety, the King has all the proof he needs that the outlaw is loyal to him.
- You Fight Like a Cow: "Do you know any prayers, my friend?" "I'll say one for you!" etc.