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Merlin, the classic, legendary wizard.

Before there was Dumbledore... before there was Elminster... before there was Gandalf... there was Merlin. The original bearded old wizard (unless you're counting Odin), this Public Domain Character was added to the Arthurian mythos around 1100 AD. Merlin — sometimes called Ambrosius in older sources — was the trusted advisor and surrogate parental figure to King Arthur.

In one legend, Merlin was intended to be an Antichrist figure, begotten on a virgin by the Devil. His mother, however, had the boy baptized at birth, freeing him from the Devil's influence. His demonic heritage gave him the ability to see into the past and future, a gift that is often carried over to versions that do not include this origin story.

In most tellings of Arthur's origin story, Merlin's magic helped Uther Pendragon seduce and bed another man's wife (Igraine), leading to the conception of Arthur, who he prophesied would be a great king. In return, Merlin was given the baby boy, who was fostered by a knight as his own son and later prepared by Merlin for kingship.

Merlin's final fate is a Downer Ending, like that of the king whom he served. He is tricked and imprisoned by the witch Niviane (or Nimue), whom he deeply loved and taught magic.

For the 2008 British TV series, see Merlin (2008). For the 1998 miniseries, see Merlin (1998).


Tropes:

  • Anti-Anti-Christ: Merlin's mother was raped/seduced by either the Devil or some random demon, but she had Merlin baptized as soon as he was born. This relieved him of his Antichrist status but still let him keep his nifty magical powers. Since Medieval Christianity generally thought any sort of power must come from either God or Satan, this story explained how Merlin performed his magical acts without being a saint.
  • The Antichrist: In some stories, Merlin was the Antichrist but instead of destroying the world, became good and decided to help Arthur become the King of Britain.
  • The Archmage: While details may vary upon the version of the tale, he is invariably the top magic-user around in the setting.
  • Badass Long Robe: While Merlin's attire isn't explicitly described in the texts, most artwork and modern adaptations depict him as wearing long, often hooded robes.
  • Barefoot Sage: He's depicted barefoot in many illustrations, including those by Gustave Doré.
  • Because Destiny Says So: In this case, "destiny" goes by "Merlin."
  • Bowdlerise: As the centuries passed, Merlin became less of a lusty trickster and more of a wise old mentor due to Moral Guardians. His demonic parentage, however, is believed to have become a part of the story because of moralizing, as it explained his supernatural powers through a Christian lens. His moral ambiguity was likewise explained as the goodness of his mother and evil of his father struggling in him. His prototypes, the mad prophet Myrddin and the Waif Prophet Ambrosius, had no such explanations given.
  • Canon Immigrant: Merlin did not appear in the earliest stratum of Arthurian myths, although he's been around longer than Lancelot and the Holy Grail. Merlin's legend comes from Welsh roots. The earlier traditions of Myrddin Wyllt (Merlin/Myrddin the Wild) were tied to Merlin in Geoffrey's Vita Merlini.
  • The Chessmaster: Oh so much. He's behind so much of what happens in Arthurian legend, particularly setting up Arthur's own birth, his being fostered and growing up unaware of his true parentage, and his ascension to the throne.
  • The Chooser of the One: Merlin is basically behind the creation of King Arthur and why Arthur becomes king.
  • Composite Character: In his original appearance in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain, Merlin is based on the Waif Prophet Ambrosius from the earlier History of the Britons, attributed to Nennius. But Geoffrey renamed him "Merlin" based on the figure of Myrddin from Welsh tales who was said to have lived long after the period he set his Merlin in, and later wrote a Life of Merlin equating the two further. Ambrosius in turn appears to be based on a real person, Ambrosius Aurelianus, who Geoffrey also used under the name "Aurelius Ambrosius" as Uther's brother and Arthur's uncle.
  • Depending on the Writer: There are so many different depictions of Merlin that it's hard to reconcile them as the same person.
  • Despair Event Horizon: One of his prototypes, Myrddin, was a bard who loses his wits when his lord is slain.
  • Distaff Counterpart: According to the earliest Welsh legends 'Myrddin' had a twin sister Ganeida or Ganicenda.
  • Divine Parentage: According to some versions, Merlin is said to be the son of a demon or even the Devil himself.
  • Hermit Guru: One of the prototypes of Merlin, Myrddin Wyllt, was a wild, hairy man living out in the wilderness, receiving prophecies and talking to the wildlife.
  • Human-Demon Hybrid: Merlin is traditionally depicted as the son of a woman and an incubus. The woman incidentally is nearly always a raped nun who dunks her newborn into holy water to wash evil away from him as soon as he is born, but he still grows up a horny bastard with a taste for young virgins — the modern versions tend to forget that aspect of his character (with an exception or two). Modern interpretations of the legends vary significantly on Merlin's parentage.
  • Magic Staff: Merlin's weapon in many depictions, though the medieval stories don't really mention it.
  • The Man Behind the Man: In regards to Arthur. According to legend, many thought that Arthur was Merlin's puppet and that Merlin was the one who was actually in control of Arthur and his reign as king. Which might be true, considering how much of a strong influence Merlin is in Arthurian legend and all the events that happened.
  • May–December Romance: He becomes romantically entangled with Niviane/Nimue, a young woman, when in very advanced old age.
  • The Mentor: He's typically depicted as having been King Arthur's teacher and guide during the monarch's youth.
  • Merlin Sickness: Also the Trope Namer, Maker and Codifier, thanks to T.H. White, who introduced it in The Once and Future King.
  • Muggle in Mage Custody: He is the mage who tutors the "muggle" Arthur.
  • The Omniscient: Through a combination of being born with a nigh complete understanding of the past and present and being gifted the power to see the future.
  • Parental Substitute: To Arthur, especially in modern retellings, codified by The Sword in the Stone. Most medieval versions have him showing himself to Arthur around the time he becomes king, drawing the sword from the stone. Arthur's real parental substitutes in these tellings were his foster parents.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: Though centuries of stories, Merlin has grown in popular perception, especially in Super Hero story worlds like The DCU and the Marvel Universe, from a mere mage to becoming the Sorceror Supreme of his time with almost godlike power.
  • Public Domain Character: A very old one at that. He has been done and redone dozens of times in various media, from legendary badass, to newbie mage, to a female version of himself.
  • The Prophecy: Key to his origin story, though it's subverted. The tyrant King Vortigern has a tower that keeps falling down, and he's told by his mages that the foundation needs the blood of a boy with no (human) father before the tower can be built. When Merlin (or earlier, Ambrosius) is brought forth, he reveals that there are two dragons battling beneath the earth in an underground lake, causing the site to be unstable. But then Merlin makes a prophecy himself about the two dragons, one red and one white, as symbolic for the Britons vs. the Saxons.
  • Sealed Good in a Can: When betrayed by Niviane. Can be King in the Mountain when the myth says she sealed him in a cave.
  • Oracular Urchin: It is said that God Himself granted Merlin powers of prophecy that, coupled with his already expansive knowledge of the past and present, rendered him functionally omniscient.
  • Semi-Divine: Merlin is often portrayed as the child of a demon and mortal.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The origin of Merlin: Don't forget to say your prayers, and don't argue with your siblings, or else you'll be raped by Succubi and Incubi while you sleep.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: One of his many magical powers. He seems to really enjoy appearing out of nowhere, and disappearing in front of everyone.
  • Trickster Mentor: He is frequently depicted teaching Arthur and others, while having a trickster's personality.
  • Waif Prophet: His first appearance in the medieval stories is as one.
  • Wizard Beard: As part of his Wizard Classic attributes, whenever he's old. If he is depicted in his youth, he will usually be clean-shaven. His beard isn't actually mentioned in medieval texts. But it is rare to see him depicted nowadays as an old man without one.
  • Wizard Classic: The Trope Maker and one of the most iconic examples. Notable because the medieval texts don't actually describe his appearance except sometimes when he's in disguise, so the wizard image must have been formed throughout the ages and been taken for granted.

Merlin has appeared as a character in the following works:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Seven Deadly Sins has a Gender Flipped version of Merlin, whose name stays the name. One of the titular Magic Knights called the "Seven Deadly Sins", she became a mentor for the young Arthur of Camelot after they were scattered. She bears the Boar's Sin of Gluttony, as she herself notes she has an insatiable appetite for magical knowledge, so much when she realizes she couldn't learn all there is in one lifetime, she stopped her own aging with her magic by stopping her own flow through time. She did this about 3,000 years in the past.

    Comic Books 
  • Camelot 3000: Merlin explicitly described as the son of the Devil.
  • The DCU:
    • Merlin has appeared from time to time, usually in connection with heroes linked to the Arthurian myths. In particular, he plays a key role in the origin story of Etrigan the Demon and several of the lead characters in Demon Knights. He's also Etrigan's half-brother, sharing the infernal father. Funnily enough, their father is the son of Trigon the Terrible, making them the nephews of Raven, who is centuries younger than them. He also, surprisingly, plays a role in the origin of the Turkish heroine Janissary, having apparently been court wizard to Suleiman the Magnificent following the fall of Camelot, and left behind his spell book and an enchanted scimitar. He also has a brief but memorable appearance in The Books of Magic, which plays up the fatalism that comes with seeing the future.
    • A Golden Age character, Merlin the Magician, is descended from Merlin and inherited a magic cloak that gives him all the old wizard's powers.
  • Doctor Who Magazine: The 1980s comics featured Merlin as one of a group of "higher evolutionaries", guardians of the universe who also included the Time Lords' founder Rassilon. The concept and characterisation were very similar to the Marvel example in this section (not to mention "High Evolutionary", being a specific Marvel character), suggesting that this was one of several subtle attempts in this era of the strip to link it to the Marvel Universe.
  • Mage: The Hero Discovered, a comic series about a reincarnation of King Arthur in 1980s America, features an immortal Myrddin, who is most often referred to by the affectionate shortening "Mirth".
  • Marvel Universe: Several characters have claimed, with varying levels of conviction, to be the Arthurian Merlin. The first was an illusion-using Silver Age villain subsequently retconned as an imposter, but the usual one is a powerful, manipulative, guardian of reality itself who sometimes uses the name "Merlyn" with a y, and probably was the Arthurian character. Merlyn is the leader of the Captain Britain Corps, an organization made up of defenders of the British Isles that protect the structure of the Omniverse.
  • De Rode Ridder: Merlin is one of the most widely used recurring extra characters.
  • In Unholy Grail a demon kills and steals the identity of the real Merlin, being the villain of the comic as he manipulates Arthur from a young age.

    Films — Animation 
  • Quest for Camelot: Merlin has a tiny role (two lines, and he sends a magic falcon to help the heroes).
  • Shrek the Third: Merlin appears as part of Shrek's efforts to get young Arthur on the throne of Far Far Away.
  • The Sword in the Stone presents a slightly scatterbrained Merlin who serves as Arthur's teacher and is capable of a variety of magical feats, including personal time travel and turning people into animals.
  • Justice League Dark Merlin makes a small appearance as part of Jason Blood's backstory, showing him manipulating Etrigan into defeating Destiny before combining him with the knight.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Excalibur: Played by Nicol Williamson, he's presented as an eccentric but canny mage who commands the power of the Dragon. He gives Excalibur to Uther Pendragon, arranges Arthur's conception and guides the young king before being tricked and imprisoned by Morgana. He does get his revenge when his shade tricks her into draining all her powers.

    Fan Works 
  • Child of the Storm:
    • Merlin is mentioned as a background figure in the distant past, a wizard of immense power — which is unsurprising, considering the influence he has on two of the constituent canons, Harry Potter and The Dresden Files. He's a natural born Omega Class being, ranked as more powerful than anyone short of a Skyfather, with the additional note that he probably wasn't just human. It also reveals that originally, broadly speaking, he was based on Merlin. According to Doctor Strange, he was the greatest Wizard of all time... but he had a tin ear for music. Strange also reveals that Merlin was his main mentor and that Strange's own real name is Taliesin. Yeah, that one. When he turns up, he absolutely lives up to his rep and - even more impressively - proves to be the only person even remotely capable of actually controlling Doctor Strange.
  • A Long Journey Home: Myrddin Emrys starts as a young muggleborn wizard cast out of his family because of his magic. He lives a few years in the street, then becomes Muirgen's (a.k.a. Jasmine Potter) apprentice. After the end of his apprenticeship, he travels around the world. He thinks the divisions between muggles and wizards could be overcome, and the realm of Uther Pendragon and Arthur is his attempt to create a bridge between them. It's a failure.
  • In Harry Potter and the Four Heirs, Merlin/Myrddin knows what the timeline should have been, what it's going to be "thanks" to Manipulative!Dumbledore's meddling, and what it can be with suitable intervention. He scoops Harry up at age 4 and gives him training that puts him at pretty much God Mode.

    Gamebooks 
  • GrailQuest: Merlin is the one who enables the reader to inhabit the body of protagonist Pip and go on adventures in Arthurian lands. He's depicted as a rather eccentric wizard who keeps breaking the fourth wall, explaining the rules of the gamebook along the way. One Running Gag is him changing house every book.

    Literature 
  • Old Welsh tales and triads tell of a wild man of the woods living with pigs beneath apple trees, who had been a prophet and maybe a shaman, Myrrdin, or Lailoken (northern reaches, a Scottish variant), who lived in Coed Celiddon, the Caledonian Woods. Additionally, Taliesin was a rough contemporary, a famous poet later given some magical or prophetic prowess as well.
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (ca 1135) introduces Merlin as the child of woman but with no father, whom Vortigern wanted to sacrifice to keep a castle from crumbling above its foundations. Instead of being killed and having his blood slake the foundations, Merlin spoke prophecy and showed two dragons fighting beneath the castle, a white one (English invaders) and a red one (native Britons or Welsh). Merlin lived, Vortigern did not, and Merlin went on to aid Uther Pendragon in seducing Igraine the wife of Gorlois and so father Arthur in Cornwall at Castle Tintagel.
  • Geoffrey of Monmouth also wrote a Life of Merlin, reflecting the old Welsh tales of Myrrdin as wild man of the woods. Having seen his sister's husband slain in battle, Myrrdin flees to the woods to live in or beneath an apple tree as a vegetarian hermit with a pig for a companion.
  • Robert de Boron's book on Merlin introduced the antichrist element.
  • Thomas Mallory (or Malleore) and his Le Morte d'Arthur is the primary source for T.H. White's Arthurian works. Merlin is actually in it less than you'd expect, as the Merlin and Nimue segment happens pretty early, though he's active through the beginning of Arthur's reign.
  • Mary Stewart's The Merlin Trilogy, based on Geoffrey of Monmouth, has Merlin telling his own story, as she fills in some gaps left by Geoffrey and by Mallory. There are two more books about Mordred and Alexander the Orphan, respectively.
  • He's a charlatan in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court who fools the gullible populace into thinking he has genuine magic. Throughout the story he repeatedly gets exposed by the title character, who has the advanced of modern scientific knowledge and education, but inexplicably, Merlin's final and most important spell actually works, putting the man to sleep for hundreds of years, unable to be stirred, until he wakes up back in his own time.
  • In Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, "Merlin" is a title given the chief druid.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Gwenhwyfar borrows this element. It also explains the myth of him sealed in a tree with him having a stroke, which leaves him paralyzed and catatonic (wooden and tree-like, in the words of one character).
    • Prior to this novel, Mercedes Lackey's Urban Fantasy novels mention that Merlin was one of the greatest human Bards (magic users) in history.
  • T. H. White's The Once and Future King and The Book of Merlyn.
  • Knight Life by Peter David follows T. H. White's Merlin in aging backwards to the 1980s or 1990s, finally reaching childhood.
  • Merlin was apparently a real historical figure in the Harry Potter universe. He gave his name to an order of powerful wizards, the Order of Merlin. His name also gets used in an Oh, My Gods! fashion a number of times, usually as "Merlin's beard!" Pottermore, interestingly, reveals that he was placed in Slytherin during his time at Hogwarts (which, when you consider all the political scheming that went on with him in the legends, makes more than a little sense).
  • The Lost Years of Merlin tells Merlin's story from the ages of 12 and 16. It's mostly set on Fincayra, a Standard Fantasy Setting not from Arthurian legend. In general, the series does its own plots, but with a lot of Call Forwards and allusions to the legends. (For example, Merlin isn't half-demon, but his Pointy Ears make people suspect that he might be.) The fourth book is a bit more Arthurian than the rest of the series, including young Merlin Time Traveling to meet his future self and learning how to avoid being trapped in the crystal cave.
  • In one of the Bailey School Kids Adventure books, the librarian is implied to be Merlin.
  • In the Roger Zelazny story "The Last Defender of Camelot", Merlin is a Knight Templar Principles Zealot, and the last knight of the round table winds up having to save the world from him.
  • The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell, which has Merlin as a hilariously irreverent and very powerful (politically, definitely. Magically, possibly) druid, whose performances owe a lot to charisma, reputation, and the fact that a lot of his tricks are Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane. Unlike most depictions, it leans hard into the original lusty trickster depiction, though he keeps the Wizard Classic look.
  • Similar to the Harry Potter example, Merlin is a historical personality in The Dresden Files (as is Arthur), a founder of the White Council of wizards, and one time guardian of the holy sword Amoracchius (aka Excalibur). The head of the White Council is traditionally given the title of "The Merlin". The current bearer of the title is Arthur Langtry, whom Harry notes that he "resembles what you'd think Merlin would look like". The general consensus by the time of the series is that while he was probably pretty badass, his reputation - akin to magical Superman (quoth Dresden, "leaping tall cathedrals in a single bound") - was somewhat exaggerated. Cold Days turns this on its head and makes it abundantly clear that if anything, it was drastically underestimated, with Merlin being the Archmage's Archmage. He constructed a prison for Physical Gods and Eldritch Abominations so hard that Skinwalkers are in minimum security. It was constructed at once during at least five different moments in time to make sure it was protected over time and space. It was said his mentor was Odin, Norse God, Winter King of the wyldfae. And his direct line of students who grow to teach new wizards reaches to Harry Dresden himself - and given that at least some of that line have tutored parent to child, it's entirely possible that he's Dresden's ancestor too..
  • Sir James Knowles' The Tales of King Arthur and His Knights gives an incredibly abridged version of Merlin's involvement from the beginning, but it all comes out with Merlin seeming much younger than other versions (the BBC series excluded) portray him to be (he's a child — so maybe 7 — when Vortigern uses him. Assuming roughly 10 years before Arthur is born... means he wouldn't be 60 when Arthur was 15 [yes, 15, not 11, Disney]).
  • In the fairy tale "Childe Rowland", the "Warlock Merlin" gives invaluable advice to the eponymous hero.
  • In The Dark is Rising series, the mentor character Merriman Lyon is revealed to be Merlin.
  • In The Weathermonger by Peter Dickinson, the mysterious Changes that drive the plot turn out to be a consequence of Merlin being rescued from his imprisonment.
  • Merlin is a supporting character in the children's fantasy novels Merlin's Mistake and The Testing of Tertius by Robert Newman. His eponymous mistake was an attempt to magically endow his student Tertius with all wizardly knowledge in one go; it went wrong, and Tertius ended up with a head stuffed full of anachronistic twentieth-century science know-how instead.
  • The young adult novel, Winter of Magic's Return by Pamela F. Service, and its sequel, concerns three young children in post-nuclear war England. One of them turns out to be a youthened/reborn Merlin who had lost his memory and, even after he gets it back, has some issues with remembering spells and making them work right. Ends up becoming a Magic Comes Back scenario.
  • Another young adult novel, The Magic Cave/The Hidden Cave by Ruth Chew, concerns two young children who find Merlin trapped inside an oak tree (although he's there by his own error, thanks to wanting to know what was inside an acorn, rather than due to Nyneve). The titular cave is actually a transformed drainage pipe which uses portal magic to take Merlin and the kids to various places, such as the library, the botanical gardens (for herbs to do magic), and eventually the museum to obtain an artifact (the Eye of Horus) to take Merlin back to his own time.
  • The Nightside series. Unlike most examples, the author included the bit about him being the devil's son, though he renounced his father. His not-completely-dead body is buried beneath the world's oldest bar, tended by his bastard descendants. We also get a look at his Bizarro World self, who became the Antichrist, corrupted Arthur, and rules over an apocalyptic Britain.
  • In C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength, a revived Merlin plays a vital role in defeating Satanically-corrupted science.
  • Merlin is a supporting character in the 1987 novella The Knight in Rusty Armor.
  • The Witch of Knightcharm: Lily, a villainous witch who is a new recruit to an evil Wizarding School alongside the protagonist, claims to be a direct descendant of Merlin.
  • Everworld: A recurring character, in a setting where All Myths Are True. He's the closest to a Big Good, because while most of the gods care about their own authority and domains, he's trying to rally everyone against Ka Anor. He also wants to capture Senna to keep anyone else from using her powers for her own ends. Naturally, this conflicts with her own goals.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 1998 mini-series Merlin is a retelling of the story of King Arthur with Merlin as the main character.
  • A young Merlin is the star of the BBC series Merlin, which shows his development from a Wide-Eyed Idealist and powerful but semi-competent warlock and manservant to the arrogant but well-meaning Prince Arthur, to a ruthless and immensely powerful warlock and de facto adviser to the wise and noble King Arthur. Arthurian legend being what it is, it ends badly, for a number of reasons - Merlin's habit of assuming that prophecies are foregone conclusions and not being willing to trust people being prominent among them.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Merlin was one of the Ancients, who'd retaken physical form while retaining some of his Ascended abilities and much of his knowledge, as was Morgan La Fey - who wasn't evil, just there to keep an eye on him.
  • The Doctor of Doctor Who is Merlin. Possibly. In the future of an Alternate Universe. It's... complicated. Whether there's any connection between the Merlin incarnation and the Doctor Who Magazine Merlin has not been mentioned. The Doctor's Arch-Enemy the Master was Merlin in a text story from the 1984 Annual, "The Creation of Camelot", which is perhaps the only thing the story's notable for.
  • A less-than-competent Merlin appears in the French comedy series Kaamelott. He is in fact a Celtic druid rather than the usual sorcerer.
  • The short-lived 1980s sitcom Mr. Merlin had him still alive in the present day, keeping a low profile under the name Max Merlin. His costar is a young guy who learns Max's secret and then gets taken on as his apprentice.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl is stranded in the Middle Ages. She helps set up Arthur as King and the Round Table and Camelot, becoming Arthur's court mage and calling herself Merlin. She learns how to do genuine magic.

    Music 
  • For fairly obvious reasons, Merlin is a popular focus for a lot of Folk Music and Filk, which often show him in a distinctly atypical light.
    • "Merlin" by Doug McArthur (no relation to the American WWII general), which was later popularized among filkers by Kathy Mar. In the song, Merlin is portrayed as an animalistic and saturnine Nature Spiritnote , feared by the populace and betrayed by a scheming Queen Guinevere and a weak-willed Arthur. The song shows him patiently awaiting the arrival of a construction crew whom he has sensed are working near the cave which Arthur sealed him into at Guinevere's behest, and whom he hopes will unwittingly break into the cave, allowing him to escape into the modern world.
    • "Merlin" by Escape Key gives a somewhat more conventional depiction, though it does bend the usual narrative a bit by showing him as the illegitimate son of the Dragon King, and hence the half-brother of Uther Pendragon and Arthur's uncle.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons has some Merlin Expies in the forms of Elminster, Chosen of Mystra, from Forgotten Realms, and Fizban the Fabulous from Dragonlance.
  • In Nomine: Merlin is mentioned, usually alongside King Solomon, as one of the very few sorcerers who were able to achieve considerable power and to mainly use it for good and avoid damnation. Mentioning his name around demons of sorcery is generally considered unwise.
  • Mage: The Awakening: Merlin is an Acanthus archmage, a master of Fate and Time, who engineered the creation of Arthurian Britain in order to Ascend. It promptly got erased from the timeline by the Exarchs, but they couldn't stamp out the mystical resonance of Arthurian symbology.

    Theatre 
  • He made his appearance as Arthur's mentor in the 1960s musical Camelot, which was made into a film in 1967. In this version his name is spelt "Merlyn".
  • Merlin is a 1983 Broadway musical starring legendary Stage Magician Doug Henning. The story was an original one, depicting his battles with an evil sorceress queen in the days before he met Arthur.
  • Similarly, he is a character in one segment of the Las Vegas musical/special effects showcase EFX (1995). As he shows Arthur the world's natural magic, they get ambushed by Morgana. She transforms herself into a dragon to defeat them, but Merlin does the same and wins the day.

    Video Games 
  • In Quest for Glory II. Merlin is mentioned as a member of the Wizard's Institute of Technosorcery (WIT). A magic user can ask him to be a sponsor for your admission to the organization, though he mentions that he is way too busy for that.
  • One of the pre-made Wizards in Master of Magic, where he is a Sage Master (has bonus to spell research) specializing in Life and Nature magic. The intro cutscene featured him in one of the winning conditions.
  • Age of Wonders II has young Merlin as the campaign protagonist, Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic begins with Merlin trapped in the Shadow World contacting new Wizards as a Spirit Advisor.
  • He appears in StarTropics II: Zoda's Revenge as Mike's guide and as a friend to the King of Argonians, Hirocon.
  • The Tenth Quest is an old handheld game where the player becomes Merlin's apprentice and must complete nine minigames, or quests, to unlock the Tenth, a race against the sun. These include 'Sword and Shield' (Tic-Tac-Toe) 'Seek the Grail' (Shell Game) a High-Low guessing game, a memory matching game, etc.
  • In Vampyr (2018), he goes by the name of Myrddin, a figure of Welsh mythology whom Geoffrey of Monmouth associated with Merlin in Arthurian legends. And rather than being a wizard, he is a vampire Eldritch Abomination responsible for siring the main protagonist to save London from the Red Queen. He later reveals that centuries ago he did the same to King Arthur and William Marshall to fulfill the same purpose, as the Red Queen returns every few centuries to reap havoc upon the land, and Myrddin is always there to prepare a vampire warrior to stop her.
  • In Smite, Merlin is confirmed as a playable character/God amongst the Arthurian Pantheon, despite not exactly being a God. Since Merlin is the Wizard Classic, he can easily bypass that rule with his magic. That being said, he's depicted as less of an old wizard but more like an adult, where his hair and beard haven't greyed out.
  • Merlin has appeared from time to time in Fate/stay night, though only seen in flashbacks of resident Gender Flipped Arthur, Saber. His role was expanded as he was the narrator of Garden of Avalon and is a major player in the events of Fate/Grand Order. Notably, these series dropped his usual old beardy wizard looks and made him a Pretty Boy instead.
    • A female version of the Fate universes' Merlin was teased as early as 2017 and finally given an official design on September 23rd, 2020 after being released as a playable unit in Fate/Grand Order Arcade. In this form, she is called "Merlin (Prototype)" to distinguish her from Fate/Grand Order Merlin and her character takes a lot of cues from him, with the major difference between them being their preferred style of fighting (long-range magic vs close-range sword fights).

    Visual Novels 
  • Though not seen in the visual novel proper for Fate/stay night, background material for the Nasuverse posits that their Merlin was an Incubus. Most prominently, in the background he made it possible for Saber to sire Mordred.
    • We finally get to see him in Fate/Grand Order, and they forewent the normal Wizard Classic by making him a major Pretty Boy. Grand Order further clarified that he is half-incubus, fitting the legends, and revealed that he is immortal and still alive in the twenty-first century, but he also happens to be trapped in a tower in Avalon. Who trapped him hasn't yet been revealed but is implied to be the Lady of the Lake, which would also fit with the legends. He's also one of the few qualifiers of the "Grand Caster" class aside from King Solomon. When the male version of King Arthur from Fate/Prototype shows up, he mentions his version of Merlin is a woman (who shows up in the Arcade version of Grand Order and would later show up in the main game as "Lady Avalon" under the Pretender class).

    Web Comics 
  • Arthur, King of Time and Space has Merlin as different things depending on what era it's set in. In the medieval period, he's the traditional wizard, complete with foiled-Antichrist backstory and prophetic powers (his frustration that nobody ever pays attention to his foretellings until it's too late is a Running Gag). In the space opera period, he's a Higher-Tech Species Time Traveler. In the contemporary period, he's a Cool Old Guy who runs a comic-book shop.

    Web Original 
  • Escape the Night: Season 4 Episode 5.
  • Stupid Mario Brothers has Merlin as a mentor to Mario, but also introduces his evil brother Nox Decious. Along with his brother, this version of Merlin originally appeared in an older project by RMA Studios.

    Western Animation 
  • The Fairly OddParents! portrays Merlin as King Arthur's uncle note  and as a bit of a scammer. Also, he has a fairy's powers when it is comedically convenient.
  • Dungeons & Dragons (1983) has an episode where Venger, posing as Merlin, tricks Presto into releasing monsters imprisoned by the real one, who had long passed away.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters portrays Merlin as a friend of the Ghost Busters and portrays Jake Kong as able to ask for help from Merlin's clumsy assistant every full moon.
  • Ultimate Book of Spells character Verne is a descendant of Merlin.
  • In Justice League, Merlin curses Jason Blood for betraying Camelot to Morgaine le Fay, binding him to Etrigan the Demon.
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Merlin once asks Batman and Green Arrow to follow him into his time to stop Morgana. In another episode, Merlin is said to have imprisoned a demon the then-alive Gentleman Ghost tried to release in exchange for immortality.
  • In an episode of Thunder Cats, Mumm-Ra disguised himself as King Arthur in order to steal Excalibur and use it to defeat Lion-O. The only reason he was defeated was because he dropped the disguise and started gloating, which prompted Merlin to show up out of nowhere and kick his ass.
  • Star Swirl the Bearded in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, a famed figure in pony folklore, appears to be the Equestrian equivalent of Merlin. Twilight Sparkle once dressed up as him on Nightmare Night, and at the end of Season 3 Celestia gave her the task of completing an unfinished, destiny-determining magic spell found in his journal. Twilight's success in this task, creating new magic in the process, is the catalyst for her transformation into an alicorn princess. Also, Starswirl is not dead.
  • Visionaries is set on an alien planet, but has multiple allusions to the Arthurian mythos (such as a bad guy named Mortdred). Most notably, the series's central wizard is named Merklynn — although he is decidedly less benevolent than the Merlin of legend.
  • In Gargoyles, the newly awakened King Arthur and his new knight Sir Griff's first goal after reclaiming Excalibur is to find Arthur's old friend Merlin. They are reunited in the comics. Merlin in this setting is revealed to be the half-human son of Oberon himself. The relationship between father and son is strained, but not entirely hostile.



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