Follow TV Tropes

Following

Myth / Robin Hood

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/robin-hood_1916.jpg

"Lythe and listin, gentilmen,
That be of frebore blode;
I shall you tel of a gode yeman,
His name was Robyn Hode.

Robyn was a prude outlaw,
Whyles he walked on grounde:
So curteyse an outlawe as he was one
Was nevere non founde."
Advertisement:

Robin Hood is a mythical heroic outlaw first alluded to in William Langland's fourteenth century poem Piers Plowman, though the reference indicates he existed much earlier in oral tradition. The oldest surviving ballads featuring him all date from a century or so later; the Child Ballads include an entire book solely of Robin Hood ballads.

He is traditionally associated with Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, though an important early ballad locates him in Barnesdale Forest in Yorkshire, and later ones as far afield as Scotland and London; a late ballad sets his birthplace as Locksley, a possibly fictional village in south Yorkshire or Notts. He is identified as a yeoman — a non-noble, free, small landholder — in his original incarnations. The Elizabethans would attribute a title of nobility to Robin as Earl of Huntingdon; several modern incarnations make him a knight (or at least a soldier) and treat the Crusades as some sort of medieval Vietnam.

Advertisement:

Certain early elements of the legend, such as Robin's devotion to the Virgin Mary and his antipathy to the higher clergy, have largely dropped out, to be replaced by his charity to the poor (probably developed from the early statement that he did no harm to poor farmers, yeomen, knights, or squires) and his opposition to tyranny (likely derived from his opposition — entirely natural in an outlaw — to the local Sheriff). He is the Trope Codifier for much of the Archer Archetype, especially the association with nature and the rebellious personality. Many of the specific feats of archery associated with this archetype (most famously, Splitting the Arrow in two) are first seen in Robin Hood legends or modern adaptations. He's also known to be pretty handy with a sword and a quarterstaff.

It is unclear when Robin Hood first emerged as a character in folklore. The earliest ballad to give any sort of indication of a date (the Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode) is set during the reign of a quasi-mythical "Edward, our comely [i.e., handsome] king." Three kings named Edward ruled England between 899 and 1066, and another three in succession from 1272 to 1377 (allusions to the Robin Hood legends started appearing in other works, such as court documents and Piers Plowman during this second period), but none of these were ever known as "the Comely" — which is, in any event, a wholly conventional epithet not firmly attached to any historical figure. Another, later ballad names a King Henry and Queen Katherine (Henry V's queen was Catherine/Katherine (the spelling wasn't standardized at this point) of Valois, but no other King Henry had a queen named Katherine until Henry VIII); still others leave the monarch wholly anonymous. As such, there is no exact consensus on when the myth first came about, though most modern scholars place it somewhere between 1270 and 1350.

Advertisement:

The possible inspirations for the myth are equally varied and unclear. While there is limited evidence that he may have been a historical figure, or at least named after one, the modern consensus is that he is a distillation of multiple figures — historical and mythical — from the early 2nd millennium. One of the most prominent is Hereward the Wake, a historical but somewhat mythologized individual dating back to the 11th century and the Norman conquest of England. While records of his life are limited and somewhat contradictory, it is generally held that he was an Anglo-Saxon noble who was exiled to Europe by King Edward the Confessor some time before the Norman invasion. He eventually returned to England a few years after the invasion, and joined in a popular revolt against William the Conqueror (a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for his murdered brother, according to legend) before escaping into the woods to live as an outlaw. In contrast, one late 19th / early 20th century theory held that Robin's legend is a remnant of pre-Christian pagan belief in some form of nature spirit, "Robin Wood" the "Spirit of the Forest". Nowadays this theory is not very favored in historic and folklorist circles although it remains influential in more mystical retellings.

Whatever the case, most modern retellings have settled on the Third Crusade as the time frame for the stories thanks to his portrayal as “Locksley” in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, widely considered the most influential depiction of the character. It is worth noting, though, that Scott's work also popularized the use of the conflict between the Anglo-Saxons and Normans in the legend, which had more or less ended by the Third Crusade, so take your pick.

    open/close all folders 

    Some recurring characters in the Robin Hood mythos 
  • Little John, ironically The Big Guy of the outlaws, a Boisterous Bruiser and Robin's right-hand man or at least best friend. Originally named John Little before he joined Robin. Often he is portrayed as something of a Genius Bruiser, and generally more cautious than Robin himself. Generally befriends Robin in a very Shonen fashion, though traditionally it's Robin getting the worst of it. In modern works, sometimes depicted as the original founder and leader of the Merry Men who cedes his place to Robin once he turns up.
  • Will Scarlet or Scarlett. Or Scathelock, Scarlock, Scadlock... there are a lot of ballads which feature at least one man named Will with a surname vaguely on this line. Some ballads have two or more variations, confusing scholars as to whether they refer to different people or not. Thus in modern works, Will tends to be be a Composite Character of all the Wills in the ballads. He often wears scarlet clothes, sometimes exclusively, leading to his adoption of Scarlet as a pseudonym. He is usually Robin's foppish relative (whose real surname is Gamwell) ranging from younger cousing, to nephew, to half-brother. Depending on the work, Will Scarlet tends to shine when it comes to swordplay, to the point of Dual Wielding.
  • Will Stutely or Stukely is the Merry Man who renames John Little "Little John", and who later gets saved from the noose by a comrade disguised as the hangman. He may be yet another double of Will Scarlet, but he is sometimes described as Robin's age or older while Scarlet is younger than Robin. This Will is also sometimes Robin's best and oldest friend and second-in-command, but modern works tend to use only Will Scarlet so those roles are split among Little John, Scarlet or others. This Will can be saddled with the problem of being Robin, only less so: a good archer, but not as good as Robin; a good leader of the men, but not as good as Robin, etc.
  • Much the Miller's Son: With Will Scarlet and Little John, one of the three who regularly appears in the oldest ballads, but rather diminished since then. He is sometimes depicted as the shortest Merry Man, probably stemming from a ballad where he disguises himself as a pageboy. In modern retellings, he is often the youngest or least experienced of the Merry Men.
  • Other Merry Men make one appearance in the ballads: David of Doncaster, Gilbert Whitehand, Reynold Greenleaf, Arthur-a-Bland (one of the few men ever to beat Little John with the quarterstaff), a tinker, a cook, a ranger, a pindernote , a Scotchman (sic), and three yeomen. Robin Hood's Merry Men aren't often counted, but when they are the number ranges from twenty to one hundred and forty.
  • Friar Tuck, a folk monk / preacher, often contrasted against the corruption in higher echelons of the Church. Usually portrayed as Big Fun and an overweight Big Eater like in The Adventures of Robin Hood and the British series of the same name. Even the Disney film portrays the friar as overweight. A late addition to the legend, he probably came in, like Maid Marian, by way of the May Games, possibly to counter stories of paganism / a particular brand of manly merriness among the Merry Men. (There was a 15th century outlaw in Sussex called "Friar Tuck," who either may have taken his name from the legend or had his name given to the originally anonymous Friar of the May Games.) To give him a Badass Preacher / Warrior Monk edge, some versions grant him a knowledge of pankration — a blend of wrestling and boxing which dates back to the Greeks, similar to our modern Mixed Martial Arts.
  • The Sheriff of Nottingham, Robin's traditional Big Bad (though sometimes The Dragon), a corrupt official and Feudal Overlord.
  • Guy of Gisbourne (or Gisborne, Gisburne, etc.), a bounty hunter, often The Dragon to the Sheriff and something of Robin's Evil Counterpart as well. His portrayal varies from an outlaw in animal skins to a sneering knight. However, he will always be The Dragon to whoever the Big Bad is: if the Sheriff is the Big Bad, Guy will be his second in command, but if Prince John is the Big Bad the Sheriff will be demoted to third place below Guy.
  • Prince John, evil younger brother to The Good King Richard the Lionheart (Richard I). Often painted as a usurper to the throne, "the phoney King of England". Sometimes The Man Behind the Man to the Sheriff, but often just a Pointy-Haired Boss abused by the Sheriff's machinations. He is noteworthy as a late addition to the cast as in the early legends the monarch was a King Edward who could have been anyone from Edward the Elder to Edward III.
  • Maid Marian (or Marion), Robin's Love Interest. Marian was a latecomer to Robin Hood folklore; she probably originated as the originally unnamed May Queen or Queen of the Shepherds, a popular figure of the May festivities. (Her name was likely derived from totally unrelated pastoral plays similar to Adam de la Halle's Jeu de Robin et Marion, in which a virtuous girl is seduced by the charms of The City before returning home to her boyfriend, a shepherd who happened to be named Robin.) When Robin Hood plays became a fad, someone did a crossover, and it eventually stuck. Maid Marian is sometimes treated as a Damsel in Distress, other times as an archer Action Girl and/or Rebellious Princess.
  • Allan-a-Dale, a minstrel and sometimes narrator (for example, in the Disney version and in The Outlaw Chronicles). A Warrior Poet sometimes. He's a 17th-century addition, though the character occurs independently in Scottish Border ballads.
  • Richard at the Lee, a landed noble who is deeply indebted to the corrupt clergy. Robin helps with his debts, and so Richard later hides Robin from the Sheriff. Some later versions of the story make him Marian's father.
  • The Saracen or Moor. In recent years, an Arab or African character — Fish out of Water as they might be, being (at least implied) Muslim in England during the Crusades — has begun to show up as a member of the Merry Men. The Saracen Nasir in Robin of Sherwood was the first, followed by the Moor Azeem (Morgan Freeman) in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (reportedly because the writer watched Robin of Sherwood instead of doing proper research and thought Nasir was a traditional character), the Moor Kemal in the Xenariffic The New Adventures of Robin Hood, and Djaq, a Saracen woman character (played by relative newcomer Anjali Jay) in the 2006 UK series, and most recently being combined with Little John as a Moor named Yahya, Arabic for "John" (played by Jamie Foxx) in the 2018 Robin Hood film. This addition was spoofed (along with just about everything else Robin-related) in the Mel Brooks film Robin Hood: Men in Tights (with Dave Chappelle as Achoo), and in the series Maid Marian and Her Merry Men which has a Rastafarian Merry Mannote .

Whether or not any of these characters actually ever existed is debatable. (Well, except for King Richard and Prince — later King — John, who most certainly did. And King Edward in the earliest ballads. And King Henry and Queen Catherine in latter ones. ... while which number may be meant is difficult to determine, the king has never had a name that an actual king of England did not have. And there were, of course, many Sheriffs of Nottingham.) There is a grave where the remains of Robin Hood are allegedly buried on the Kirklees Park Estate; the Prioress of Kirklees supposedly overbled Robin to his demise... And then there's another grave at the cairn of Crosby Ravensworth Fell.

As an aside that someone, somewhere might possibly find interesting, Britons and Americans pronounce Robin Hood's name ever-so-slightly differently, with the emphases in different places. Americans often say "Robin Hood" (as a dactyl ¯ ˘ ˘, a stressed syllable followed by two unstressed), often slurred together to the point of sounding like one word, while the British say "Robin Hood" (as an anapest ˘ ˘ ¯, two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed one), definitely as two separate words. It may be to do with the way the "o" sound is pronounced.

    Examples (in chronological order) 
  • As noted above, the very first literary allusion to Robin Hood comes in 1377, in William Langland's long moral allegory Piers Plowman, in which the character Sloth says, "I kan noȝt parfitly my Paternoster as þe preest it syngeþ, But I kan rymes of Robyn hood and Randolf Erl of Chestre." note 
  • The first historical mention of a bandit named Robin Hood was in 1440, when Scottish historian Walter Bower made annotations to an older historical chronicle, mentioning Robert Hood and Little John as champions of the disenfranchised losers of the Second Barons' War fought between Simon de Montfort and King Henry III (and Prince Edward, later Edward I). "Robert Hood" is described as a "murderer" whose exploits have been sensationalised in "popular plays" enjoyed by the masses.
  • About 1450, "A Gest of Robyn Hode" was put to manuscript; it was published half a century later. This is among the oldest tales featuring Robin, and internal evidence points strongly toward its being several existing tales joined together — often somewhat ineptly. Other tales from this time include Robin Hood and the Potter and Robin Hood's Death of which only fragments survive.
  • In 1521, Scottish historian John Major published his Historia Majoris Brittaniae, the first version of the legend to assign Robin Hood to the time of Richard The Lion Heart; Major also suggested that Robin not only avoided robbing the poor, "but rather enriched them from the plunder taken from the abbots."
  • In 1598, the playwright Anthony Munday (with Henry Chettle) wrote two plays, The Downfall of Robert, Earle of Huntington and The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntington; this play gives Robin a title in a double sense, for it attributes to the erstwhile yeoman a title of nobility. The plays are set in the time of King John; "Maid Marian" becomes a pseudonym for the Lady Matilda Fitzwater [sic], pursued by the lustful king.
  • In 1795, Robin Hood: A Collection of all the Ancient Poems, Songs and Ballads, now extant, relative to that celebrated Outlaw was published by Joseph Ritson. Ritson's commentaries on the ballads established the image of Robin as a freedom fighter against overbearing Royal tyranny (not coincidentally, Ritson was a firm supporter of The French Revolution).
  • In 1819, Sir Walter Scott published his Ivanhoe in which Robin (as "Locksley") plays a major part. Scott codified much of the mythology into a recognisably modern form. His main contributions to the legend are probably the motif of racial strife between the Normans and the Saxons, the Splitting the Arrow feat and the introduction of Robin's affiliation to the name "Locksley" (which is merely an alias in the novel; later writers would use it as the name of his birthplace and village).
  • In 1883, American artist and children's book author Howard Pyle published his lavishly illustrated and very successful The Merry Adventures Of Robin Hood, a somewhat Bowdlerized and sentimentalized distillation in prose of the matter of the ballads.
  • Robin Hood appears in the Child Ballads #117-154 (the collection was published in 1882-1898, but the ballads themselves are much older).
  • In 1890, American composer Reginald DeKoven and prolific librettist Harry B. Smith had a notable hit with his comic opera, Robin Hood; a older song interpolated by Jessie Bartlett Davis in the Crosscast Role of Allan-a-Dale, "O Promise Me," enjoyed a Revival by Commercialization and would become a staple of weddings for a good seventy years thereafter. A decade or so later, DeKoven and Smith wrote a less successful sequel, Maid Marian.
  • Robin Hood and His Merry Men (silent) — The first Robin Hood film produced, c. 1908-1909?. (Lost).
  • Robin Hood (silent) — An American version, with Robert Frazer as Robin, by Éclair American films in 1912. An interesting aspect is the delineation of character by cross-fading from the actors to various animals symbolizing their moral qualities.
  • Robin Hood (silent) — Issued in four parts by Thanhouser films in 1913, with William Russell as Robin. (Lost)
  • Robin Hood (silent) — 1922 Hollywood film starring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. It was the most expensive film produced at the time of its release (the castle set was reputed to be the biggest ever built for a silent film). One notable feature — the first half of the film takes place in the Holy Land with Robin (as the Earl of Huntingdon) and King Richard; it's not until the second half that the action moves to Sherwood Forest. Alan Hale, Sr., who played Little John, would reprise the role for Errol Flynn's 1938 film. For years the film was thought to be lost — until a copy was rediscovered in the 1960s.
  • Around the same time G. K. Chesterton wrote a Robin Hood ballad, telling of a meeting between Maid Marian and the Virgin Mary after Robin's death.
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood — 1938 film and arguably the most famous Hollywood film adaptation. Features an all-star cast including Errol Flynn (Robin), Olivia de Havilland (Marian), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy of Gisbourne) and Claude Rains (Prince John). Also starred Alan Hale, Sr., who reprised his role as Little John (having played it 16 years earlier, as noted in the previous entry).
  • In the same year of 1938 Robin appears as "Robin Wood" along with Little John, Maid Marian, and Friar Tuck in T. H. White's novel of the boyhood of King Arthur, The Sword in the Stone (though not in its Disney adaptation); in this version he embodies the idea of Robin as "the spirit of the woods he lives in."
  • In 1946 the son of Robin Hood appeared in the form of Cornel Wilde in Bandit of Sherwood Forest to save the boy-king Henry III from usurpation by his scheming regent, the Earl of Pembroke (Henry Daniell).
  • In 1948's The Prince of Thieves, Robin Hood (Jon Hall) helps newly returned Crusader Sir Allan Claire rescue his betrothed Lady Christabel from an Arranged Marriage, while falling in love with Allan's sister Marian. Reuses several of the sets of Columbia's The Bandit of Sherwood Forest.
  • The 1948 UPA shortnote  Robin Hoodlum casts The Fox and the Crow as Robin (anticipating Disney's version by 25 years) and the Sheriff, respectively.
  • The 1948 Popeye short Robin Hood-Winked casts Popeye as Robin Hood, with Bluto as the villainous Tax Collector and Olive as the barmaid.
  • Footage from the Errol Flynn film is used in the 1949 Bugs Bunny short Rabbit Hood. The short features the Sheriff of Nottingham as its antagonist, while Little John appears a few times to proclaim "Don't you worry, never fear. Robin Hood will soon be here."
  • In 1950, an alternative son of Robin Hood (Jon Derek) appeared in Columbia Pictures' Rogues of Sherwood Forest; Alan Hale, Sr., appeared as Little John for the third and last time in this film.
  • Also in 1950, Rosemary Sutcliff published The Chronicles of Robin Hood, a straightforward retelling of the best-known incidents from the legend, as her first novel.
  • The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men — 1952 Disney live-action film starring Richard Todd. Breaks the One Steve Limit by featuring both "Wills" (Will Scarlet and Will Stutely) as separate characters (although the latter is barely seen and is referred to only by his surname).
  • Robin Hood (1953) — First TV adaptation, lasted only one season and transmitted live. Most notable for the title role being played by Patrick Troughton. Yes, that one. All that is known to survive of this is an 8-minute excerpt from the second episode, which was included as a special feature on the DVD release of Troughton's first Doctor Who story, "The Power of the Daleks" (itself missing and reconstructed with animation).
  • The Adventures of Robin Hood — 1955-1960 ITV series, famous for its theme tune ("Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen", infamously parodied by Monty Python's Flying Circus in their "Dennis Moore" sketch.) Richard Greene starred as the dashing outlaw. A filmic derivative, with Peter Cushing as the Sheriff of Nottingham, appeared in 1960.
  • In 1957 Dan Taylor starred as Robin in the undistinguished Men of Sherwood Forest.
  • In 1958 Son of Robin Hood appeared; oddly enough, the "son" in this film is a daughter, Deering (June Laverick). Jamie of Chester (David Hedison, later known as Captain Lee Crane in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) has to pose as Robin's son, since, of course, the Medieval Morons all believe that girls should Stay in the Kitchen.
  • The 1958 Looney Tunes short Robin Hood Daffy features Daffy Duck as Robin Hood, trying to prove his identity to travelling friar Porky Pig.
  • The 1964 Frank Sinatra musical film Robin and the 7 Hoods moves the story to Prohibition-era Chicago. Sammy Davis, Jr., as Will anticipates Mark Ryan's Moor character by a good 20 years; Bing Crosby as Allan A. Dale serves as both the friar and the minstrel figure; Peter Falk is the Big Bad, "Robbo"'s rival racketeer, Guy Gisborne; Barbara Rush plays Marian as a two-timing Femme Fatale running a plan of her own.
  • In 1965 Not Only... But Also told us the tale of Alan-a-Dale.
  • Space cartoon version from 1966-1969: Rocket Robin Hood, by Krantz Films Inc. It was a Space Opera set in the year 3000. In one episode, the Robin of the future actually time travels and meets the real Robin.
  • In 1967 Hammer Horror produced the first Robin Hood movie for British cinema; A Challenge for Robin Hood a full-blooded version with a Norman (!) Robin played by Barrie Ingham (a.k.a. Basil of Baker Street).
  • In the same year The Beverly Hillbillies featured an episode called "Robin Hood and the Sheriff," in which Jethro takes to the woods in emulation of the outlaw; his band of merry men is swelled by a group of hippies, whom Granny teaches to "smoke crawdads."
  • In 1969, the studio followed up with a pilot for a failed television series, Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood with New Zealander David Warbeck as Robin (released in theatres in 1973). This version hewed very closely to the original ballad versions.
  • Also in 1969 came the soft core film The Ribald Tales of Robin Hood, which was a fairly standard Robin Hood story with a lot more bare breasts than usual.
  • In 1972, Hanna-Barbera did an animated spoof as an ABC Saturday morning film, The Adventures of Robin Hoodnik, predating the better-known Funny Animal (only this time, strictly Rule of Funny) animated film by a year. Here, Robin is reimagined as a dog, an Idiot Hero who is henpecked by Maid Marian.
  • Also in 1972, a Franco-Belgian Comics parody titled Robin Dubois was released and is an ongoing series. Here, Robin is an outlaw that rob travelers, but doesn't give money to the poor. The sheriff, named, Fritz Alwill, is the frequent victim of many gags, but is otherwise a decent fellow. Robin is friends with the sheriff, although that doesn't stop him from robbing him blind several times.
  • Disney's Robin Hood (1973) tells the classic story with a Funny Animal cast. Robin is, appropriately, reimagined as a fox. (The film was initially developed as an adaptation of the Reynard the Fox folktales, until Disney realised that even they couldn't make those Funny Animal stories family-appropriate.)
  • Up the Chastity Belt (1973) features Hugh Paddick as a notable Robin Hood, leader of a band of men who were camp homosexual rather than merry.
  • Mel Brooks' short-lived 1975 spoof TV series, When Things Were Rotten, starring Dick Gautier and Misty Rowe.
  • In 1976, Richard Lester directed Robin and Marian, in which an aged Robin (Sean Connery), who has been campaigning in France, returns to England after Richard's death to find that Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn) has become Prioress of Kirklees Abbey. Arguably a Deconstruction, since it shows the English nobility (including "Good" King Richard) as pretty rotten, and how utterly exhausting the sword fights and chase scenes in most Robin Hood movies would actually be.
  • Maid Marian, a comic strip which appeared in the British girls' comic Bunty circa 1977 to 1983, made Marian the leader of the Merry Men as Robin had left to pepare for King Richard's return.
  • In 1979, The Muppet Show season 3 episode 23 was a "theme episode", starring Kermit the Frog as Robin, guest star Lynn Redgrave as Marian (to Miss Piggy's annoyance, she was offered "Sister Tuck" instead), Fozzie Bear as Little John and the Great Gonzo as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • The Muppets again in the 1980 book Robin Hood: A High-Spirited Tale of Adventure starring Jim Henson's Muppets. Miss Piggy gets to be Maid Marion this time, but the rest of the main cast is much the same.
  • In 1981, Robin Hood makes a brief appearance in Time Bandits, played by John Cleese as an Upper-Class Twit.
  • In 1982, impressionist Rich Little did a Robin Hood TV special in which he played all the roles.
  • In the same year, The Smurfs featured "The Adventures of Robin Smurf," in which Vanity Smurf played the conceited outlaw.
  • An ITV series, Robin of Sherwood, ran from 1984 to 1986, and is often described as the best Robin Hood retelling of all time (which is saying something considering the multitude of adaptations out there). Conceived and written by Richard Carpenter, it sought to infuse the legends with pagan mythology while at the same time striving for meticulous historical accuracy. Robin and the outlaws were portrayed as extremely young (mid-twenties at most), working at the behest of Herne the Hunter to keep a natural balance between the forces of good and evil. Despite only running for three seasons (twenty-six episodes in all), the show had a considerable impact on how subsequent adaptations handled the material. Its most influential and/or memorable creative choices included:
    • Depicting Robin Hood as a Secret Identity and Legacy Character known as "The Hooded Man", a persona that could be passed from one individual to another.
    • The serendipity of this concept when it came to writing out Robin's original actor Michael Praed (who abruptly quit the show at the end of season two) and introducing a new Robin played by Jason Connery. In a way this worked in the show's favour, as it allowed Carpenter to include the two very different origins of Robin Hood as found in the legends: one as a poor woodsman, the other as a wealthy nobleman, son of the Earl of Huntington.
    • Characterizing Maid Marion more as an Action Girl than a Distressed Damsel.
    • Introducing the popular idea of a Moorish/Saracen outlaw who joins Robin Hood's band.
    • Explicitly linking the name Will Scarlett with the idea of this character possessing a "scarlet" temper.
    • The rare move of giving King Richard as well as Prince John a Historical Villain Upgrade .
    • Making at least two important characters secret half-brothers, a conceit which also popped up in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the BBC's Robin Hood.
    • Its theme song, which put the band Clannad on the map.
    • The infamous silver arrow prop which looked like a dildo.
  • Also in 1984, a made-for-TV parody, The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood aired. Notable for a surprising number of recognizable names in its cast (if not much else): George Segal played Robin Hood, Morgan Fairchild played Maid Marian, Roddy McDowell played Prince John and Tom Baker (yes, that Tom Baker) played Guy of Gisbourne.
  • In 1985, a Text Adventure video game, Robin of Sherwood, was published as a licensed spin-off of the TV series.
  • In 1986, the Amiga game Defender of the Crown featured Robin as a recruitable ally three times in the course of game-play; this was a selling point of the game.
  • Also in 1986, the ZX Spectrum comedy Text Adventure Robin of Sherlock, a mash-up parody of the Robin of Sherwood game and the well-known contemporary Sherlock Text Adventure from Melbourne house, which bizarrely fused Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, and a whole lot of Pantomime characters into a shaggy-dog story about Moriarty impersonating Herne the Hunter.
  • In 1988, Robin McKinley published The Outlaws of Sherwood, a thoughtful and somewhat deconstructive take with a pragmatic Robin who is better at planning than archery.
  • Also in 1988, the ALF Tales cartoon presented its version of Robin Hood (mainly parodying the 1938 film), with Gordon as Robin with a literal (swing) band of Merry Men; it features a Big Stick bout with a saxophone-wielding Little John, as well as a pumpkin-head-wearing Friar Tuck.
  • Maid Marian and Her Merry Men, a 1989 children's show written by Tony "Baldrick" Robinson, subverted many of the central tenets of the myth. Maid Marian was the central protagonist, Robin Hood The Fool, Little John a dwarf, etc.
  • Robin Hood no Daibōken, an 1990 anime adaptation of the Robin Hood story consisting of 52 episodes, animated by Tatsunoko.
  • In 1991, Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves appeared; a mélange of previous motifs, it is perhaps most notable for Alan Rickman's magnificently saturnine Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • Also in 1991, a lesser-known but highly superior TV movie version of the legend, entitled simply Robin Hood, was made with Patrick Bergin as Robert Hode (Robin Hood), Uma Thurman as a badass Maid Marian, who actually kills a few guys in the final battle (again, Uma Thurman), and Jürgen Prochnow as the villain, Sir Miles Folcanet. Moreover, the Sheriff of Nottingham in this version isn't evil; he's just made some bad decisions.
  • In 1991 Millennium Interactive published an Action-Adventure Video Game The Adventures of Robin Hood.
  • Young Robin Hood, a 1991-1992 cartoon about Robin Hood and his merry men as teenagers. It was a co-production of, unusually, Hanna-Barbera and the Canadian animation firm Cinar (which later changed into Cookie Jar Entertainment).
  • Parke Godwin's 1991 novel Sherwood and the 1993 Robin and the King place the story during the Norman Conquest with William the Conqueror as a major character.
  • Another entry from 1991 is the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Qpid". Q uses his Reality Warper powers to make the crew re-enact the Robin Hood legend. Picard is forced to take the role of Robin, and is not amused, although he winds up playing the part with aplomb. Worf is even less enthusiastic: "Sir, I protest. I am not a merry man!"
  • In 1992, Sierra On-Line released Conquests of the Longbow: the Legend of Robin Hood, a graphic adventure game in which one played as Robin Hood with various tasks centered around raising money for King Richard's ransom, thwarting the Sheriff of Nottingham, and saving innocent people from harm. It contained several mystical elements (such as wood sprites and the Green Man) and portrayed Marian as a "forest priestess."
  • In 1992 Jennifer Roberson published Lady of the Forest, a novel that retells the legend from Marian's pov. It was followed in 1999 by Lady of Sherwood. The books steer away from the mythological aspects of the legend and concentrate on Character Development. This might be the first time that Robin, who just returned from the crusades, is given post traumatic stress disorder and deals with it in a realistic way.
  • In 1992 Steve Jackson Games published GURPS Robin Hood, the first chapter of which was a detailed rundown of various interpretations of Robin and his allies and enemies for first edition GURPS. (The rest of the book was assorted Robins by other names).
  • IN 1992 and 1993, author Parke Godwin created a 2-volume story, Sherwood and Robin and the King set during the times of William the Conquerer, with Robin as a Saxon Earl.
  • In 1993 Mel Brooks directly spoofed the 1991 Costner film in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which featured Cary Elwes as a Robin who actually spoke with an English accent.
  • Also in 1993, Theresa Tomlinson published The Forestwife, the first book in the Forestwife Trilogy; an excellent (and well researched) set of young adult novels focussing on Marian as the central character. The later books are Child of May (1998) and Path of the She Wolf (2000). The first book focuses on Marian and expands her role from The Chick to The Medic.
  • The 1995 novel The Sherwood Game by Esther Friesner is about a Cyberspace game featuring the Robin Hood characters; it gets complicated when Instant A.I.: Just Add Water! kicks in. (Though things don't get really bad until the Corrupt Corporate Executive shows up.)
  • The Abrafaxe graphic novel Mach's noch einmal, Robin! ("Do it again, Robin!", 1996) features an aged Robin Hood visually based on Sean Connery, his merry men, and his tomboyish daughter Marian.
  • Ivanhoe: The King's Knight, 1997-1998, features Robin as a recurring character.
  • The New Adventures of Robin Hood is a 1997-1998 live-action TV series that aired on TNT. It was filmed in Vilnius, Lithuania. The tone of the series resembled its contemporaries Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.
  • Robin Hood - czwarta strzała is a 1997 low-budget Polish TV comedy that deals with the legend of Robin Hood in a Monty Python-esque way.
  • In 2000, Dragon #274 had an entire Robin Hood campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons, including a guide to the sort of adventures that would be appropriate, a gazetteer to 13th century Nottinghamshire, and NPC writeups for all the main characters in the legends, including Robin of Loxley (7th level ranger, 5th level rogue) and Robert of Huntingdon (8th level fighter, 2nd level rogue).
  • A French-accented "Monsieur Hood" makes a brief appearance on Shrek (2001). He tries to "save" Fiona from Shrek, until she lays some Waif-Fu on him and his Merry Men.
  • 2001 saw the release of Disney's made-for-television movie Princess of Thieves with a 15-year-old Keira Knightley as Gwyn, Robin Hood's daughter. Entertaining but average, the story kept certain aspects of the traditional legends (the archery tournament, the rescue of imprisoned outlaws) and simply cast Gwyn as the main character in these events.
  • The German video games company Spellbound Games produced Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood in 2002, a stealth-based real-time strategy video game in which the player controls a number of characters (Robin himself, Will Stutely, Will Scarlet, Little John, Maid Marian, and Friar Tuck) and faces a number of enemies (Guy of Gisbourne, Guillame de Longchamps (!), and Sir Scathlock of Derby), ultimately to fight the Sheriff of Nottingham and defeat Prince John's bid to usurp the throne.
  • Maid Marian by Elsa Watson came out in 2005. This novel is narrated by the eponymous maid, who starts out as a noblewoman rescued from an unpleasant marriage by Robin and then goes through numerous adventures, only some of which involve Robin Hood.
  • The BBC ran Robin Hood from 2006-2009, portraying Robin Hood as a young man who accompanied King Richard on the Crusades and returned home disillusioned by war. It had an eye on the political climate of the time, with not-particularly-subtle commentary on the War on Terror. It's best remembered for:
    • Its Anachronism Stew.
    • Raising the profiles of Richard Armitage and Lara Pulver.
    • Adding an Affirmative Action Girl to the outlaws by gender-flipping the Saracen character.
    • Removing Allan-a-Dale's minstrel qualities and making him a pick-pocketing trickster instead.
    • Portraying Tuck as a Magical Negro.
    • The controversial decision to fridge Maid Marian at the end of season two; a decision made for self-admitted shock value and which resulted in a sharp decrease in ratings from which the show never recovered.
    • invoked"Feisty village girl" Kate, one of the most hated Replacement Scrappys of all time.
    • Paving the way for other BBC shows to follow the formula of updating and re-imagining traditional source material as family-friendly Saturday night entertainment, including Merlin, Atlantis and The Musketeers.
  • Also from 2006 is Stephen R Lawhead's Raven King trilogy (Hood; Scarlett; Tuck), a retelling of the Robin Hood story... IN WALES.
  • The Outlaw Chronicles by Angus Donald features an absolutely terrifying version of Robin (the tagline for the first book is: "Meet the Godfather of Sherwood forest") and is narrated by an elderly Alan Dale (Alan-A-Dale by another name) who is writing his memoirs of his time as first an outlaw under Robin's command, then his right hand man/sworn swordsman/messenger/poet/and briefly assassin catcher. This series is notable for its darker themes, its very dark Robin who indulges in a human sacrifice to increase his mystique with the country folk, extremely loyal to those who are close to him, and doesn't consider those outside his circle to be real people, and so feels free to lie, cheat, steal and murder., the regular appearance of King Richard I (thus far the books are set either just before he takes the throne and during his reign), a large amount of historical accuracy and the writing style.
  • There's an odd trend of an immortal Robin of Locksley showing up in fiction with a modern setting. See Marjorie M. Liu's "The Red Heart of Jade" (2006) and Lynn Viehl's "Evermore" (2008). In both cases the character's true nature is hidden from either the reader and/or other characters for a decent period of time.
  • In 2009, The Backyardigans had a Robin Hood-themed episode called "Robin Hood the Clean", with resident Hot-Blooded penguin Pablo as Robin Hood. The episode, mind you, was about was about all the cleaning supplies getting locked in a dungeon and Pablo/Robin Hood trying to retrieve them.
  • Also in 2009 came the Sci Fi Channel's television movie Beyond Sherwood Forest in which Robin Hood fights mythological creatures in Sherwood. It's about as good as you'd expect.
  • Also in 2009 was the comic book The Muppets Robin Hood, the third Muppet take on the legend. As usual, Kermit was Robin and Piggy was Marian. Instead of Fozzie being Little John because he's Kermit's best friend, Sweetums took the role for maximum size difference.
  • 2010 saw the release Ridley Scott's Robin Hood with Russell Crowe as Robin and Cate Blanchett as Marian. In a departure from most modern versions, there are no Saracen characters and Robin is of humble origins rather than a dispossessed nobleman. The plot also has Robin masquerading as slain knight Robert Locksley and attempting to unite the English people to defeat a treacherous plot by the king of France and to get Prince John to sign a precursor to the Magna Carta. It's only at the end that he and his companions actually retreat to the greenwood and become outlaws.
  • Mount & Blade mod Europe 1200 (first version released in 2010) has Robin Hood among the potential party members. The potential party members also include Fulk FitzWarin and Roger Godberd, two English historical characters who have been speculated to have inspired the Robin Hood legend.
  • Fate/EXTRA (released in Japan on July 22, 2010) featured Robin Hood as an Archer-class servant, and the archer returns as a summonable cheap but highly efficient Archer in Fate/Grand Order.
  • Hawksmaid is a YA novel by Kathryn Lasky first published in 2010. It centres around a teenage Marian, who has a supernatural affinity for falcons, as she helps the young Robin Hood raise the money for King Richard's ransom.
  • 2011, Edguy releases a song about him on its Age of the Joker album. The catch? It's actually a Villain Song of sorts, as it portrays him as The Dreaded. And it's appropriately epic yet strangely humorous. Listen to it by yourself!
  • In 2011, the Royal Shakespeare Company performed David Farr's play The Heart of Robin Hood, in which Robin starts off the play as an ordinary brigand, with Maid Marion attempting to reform him.
  • In 2012, Zenescope Comics introduces Robyn Hood; a female version of Robin as part of the Grimm Fairy Tales universe. The character has gone on to star in a number of mini-series and ongoing comics.
  • In 2012 onwards, Robin appears as a minor character in the second and major character in the third and later seasons of the Disney Animated Canon live-action TV Massive Multiplayer Crossover Once Upon a Time.
  • The 2013 novel Will in Scarlet features Robin Hood as a drunk Broken Ace (although not without his better qualities) who becomes a figurehead for a young Will Scarlet's resistance group.
  • In 2013, the Animated Series Robin Hood: Mischief in Sherwood.
  • Also in 2013-14 was Robin des Bois, a French musical in which Robin and Marian's son and the Sheriff's daughter become Star-Crossed Lovers.
  • In 2014, 12-Gauge Comics released Sherwood, Texas, a Setting Update that re-imagines Robin Hood as the leader of an outlaw biker gang battling the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham County on the Texas/Mexico border.
  • Also in 2014, the Doctor Who episode "Robot of Sherwood" has the Twelfth Doctor meeting a classically-styled Robin Hood — much to the former's surprise, as he believes the latter to be naught but legend and traveled to the past expecting to prove as much to his companion Clara. The Doctor refuses to admit he might be wrong and is determined to figure out what's "really" going on, but they ultimately team up to foil the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is in league with alien robots.
  • Once again in 2014, the CGI-cartoon Robin Hood: Mischief in Sherwood, which portrays the heroes and the antagonist as pre-teens.
  • Too in 2014, Will in Scarlet is a YA novel featuring a slightly shuffled cast with Will Scarlet as the noble young boy who inspires drunken Rob and the Merry Men to begin robbing the rich to feed the poor, and to discomfort the Sheriff and Sir Guy of Gisbourne who took over the Shackley castle after the regent refused to bow to Prince John.
  • Kamen Rider Ghost (2015) can get aid from the spirits of various historical and folklore figures; Robin Hood is one of the first he receives with the help of a thief who holds a grudge against Corrupt Corporate Executives and was inspired by the legend of Robin to steal from them under the alias of "Little John". When Ghost uses Robin Hood's power, he gets a bow to fight with and the skill to use it.
  • In Persona 5, Robin Hood is the Persona of the Justice arcana for party member Goro Akechi. Here, he's designed to appear like an American comic book hero, with "RH" emblazoned on his chest and a giant golden bow, and represents Akechi's sense of honour and justice. Subverted as he isn't Akechi's true persona, and likely represented his relationship with the protagonist, who represents Robin Hood's good-natured rebelliousness more than Akechi does.
  • The 2017 web series Merry Maidens gender flips Robin Hood and the Merry Men and reimagines them as college students who steal textbooks and give them to students who can't afford them.
  • Taron Egerton plays a younger incarnation of him in Robin Hood (2018), mercifully retitled from Robin Hood: Origins. Joining him are Eve Hewson as Maid Marian and Jamie Foxx as Little John, who now seems to be the token Moor.
  • In Megan Spooner's 2019 YA novel Sherwood, Robin of Locksley is killed in the Crusades, and Marian ends up taking the role of Robin Hood.
  • The 2021 video game Hood: Outlaws and Legends is a multiplayer game set in a Darker and Edgier version of the Robin Hood legend, consisting in playing the Merry Men to perform a heist. The playable characters are Robin Hood, maid Marian, Little John, and friar Tuck, respectively renamed Robin, Marianne, John, and Tooke.
  • Outlaws Shadow (subtitled “A Sherwood Noir”) is a Perspective Flip with Guy of Gisbourne as the protagonist and Robin Hood as the Heroic Antagonist, which mashes up bits of the original legends, some Film Noir tropes, and some forgotten history.
  • In 2021 the Anime SD Gundam World Heroes would introduce Robinhood Gundam AGE-2, a character based on both him and the AGE-2 Gundam AGE-2 Normal. Curiously, he's a resident of Knight World, which is more generally themed after the Arthurian Legend.

    Robins by another name 
  • In William Shakespeare's As You Like It (ca. 1600), it is said of the exiled Duke:
    They say hee is already in the Forrest of Arden, and a many merry men with him; and there they live like the old Robin Hood of England: they say many yong Gentlemen flocke to him every day, and fleet the time carelessly as they did in the golden world.
  • Hajduci is a collective name for a number of outlaws in the Balkans, fighting against the Ottoman Empire throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
    • In case of the northern Balkans (where Yugoslavia used to be, especially in Croatia) it was about fighting against the Ottomans, the Austrians, the Hungarians, the Venetians and other Italians (including the Pope), and the tradition arguably goes way back, continually, to pre-Roman times. Situations where budding colonial empires or various ages would make armistices and jointly declare war on particular towns or villages due to this were not entirely uncommon. The reason was that many neighbouring powers, with languages and ethnicities different than those of the north Balkan inhabitants, had designs on the territory, but none had any intention of even acknowledging the rights of the native population. Which then meant that being an outlaw generally made you Robin Hood by default. "The law" could practically never even speak the same language as the natives, who were most often treated as sub-human by whoever was the acting colonial exploiter at the moment. This trope was so strongly in effect for so long, that it's difficult to organize a working justice system even today.
  • In France, Louis Mandrin, was a famous "brigand" of the eighteenth century, staunch enemy of the "fermiers généraux" (tax collectors).
  • Germany had Johannes Bückler, or "Schinderhannes", opposing the French Revolutionaries during their occupation of the left bank of the Rhine. He was guillotined in 1802 and is the hero of a notable play by Carl Zuckmayer.
  • Hungary has Rózsa Sándor, one of the most famous and popular outlaws, who even fought in the 1848-49 revolution. Notable in that he actually tried to give up his outlaw ways more than once but couldn't, mostly due to prejudice on the authorities' side.
  • Koba from The Patricide, an 1883 novel by Georgian writer Alexander Kazbegi. Best known as a source for Stalin's first pseudonym.
  • In G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown story "The Paradise of Thieves" (1912), the King of Thieves is explicitly compared to Robin Hood.
    "A great man," replied Muscari, "worthy to rank with your own Robin Hood, signorina. Montano, the King of Thieves, was first heard of in the mountains some ten years ago, when people said brigands were extinct. But his wild authority spread with the swiftness of a silent revolution."
  • In 1934, Alex Raymond's comic strip Flash Gordon introduced Prince Barin's land of Arboria, an entire nation of green-clad freedom fighting archers living in a vast forest kingdom.
  • The superhero Green Arrow, debuting in 1941's More Fun Comics #73, fights crime with Trick Arrows and a Robin Hood-inspired costume. He's taken on other elements of Robin at times; he began championing the poor and oppressed in the '60s, and for a brief time at the very end of the Post-Crisis continuity he became an outlaw and got his own forest to run around in.
    • This carries over into the 2012 TV adaptation Arrow, and receives a brief lampshade when Vandal Savage isn't impressed with Green Arrow and brags that he taught "Robin of Locksley" how to use a bow. In another episode Ricardo Diaz refers to Speedy as being "dressed like Will Scarlett", and while it's never drawn attention to, it probably isn't a coincidence that the first member of Team Arrow is a big guy called John.
  • "The Black Fox" in the 1955 film The Court Jester is clearly inspired by Robin Hood.
  • Thierry la Fronde is a French TV series that borrowed heavily from Robin Hood. Thierry is a young disenfranchised nobleman in English-occupied France (ca. 1360) living in the woods with a gang of resistance fighters. His weapon of choice is not the bow, but the sling.
  • A sketch on Monty Python's Flying Circus featured "Dennis Moore", an obvious parody (even stealing the theme song from The Adventures of Robin Hood). Mr. Moore robs lupins from the rich to give to the poor, only to discover that the poor don't have any use for flowers. So then he steals gold and jewelry from the rich to give to the poor, but is stymied to realize that this merely makes the rich poor and the poor rich. The sketch concludes with Dennis holding up a stagecoach and forcing everyone on board to equally redistribute their wealth amongst themselves.
  • According to Reason columnist Jesse Walker, such '70s cinematic offerings as Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Up in Smoke (1978) can be seen as depicting modern American interpretations of the traditional Robin Hood narrative.
  • The 1979-1985 TV series The Dukes of Hazzard. It's even lampshaded in their Expository Theme Tune.
  • Link from The Legend of Zelda (which started in 1986) has some elements in common with Robin Hood; as he frequently wears green, is commonly associated with the forest, and is known for being proficient with the bow (though in Link's case this proficiency is second to his skill as a swordsman).
  • Knights of the Oblong Table (I Cavalieri Della Tavola Bislunga) is a fantasy novel by Luciano Malmusi published in 1994. Times are hard in Central Italy, made worse by an unpleasantly tyrannical lord. Inspired by the story of King Arthur, a motley collection of drifters — starting with an unemployed knight, including a "witch", throwing in a friar, and ending with a little boy and his pet pig — band together and make life miserable for the local nobles. The story's resemblance to Robin Hood may have been unintentional. May be a deconstruction of common medieval character types.
  • The first-season episode "Jet" of Avatar: The Last Airbender, (first aired May 6, 2005) apparently offers the viewers a Robin Hood analogue in the eponymous Jet, with his band of high-spirited freedom fighters, but then subverts expectations when Jet turns out to be little more than a charismatic thug.
  • The episode appropriately named "Robin Hood" in NUMB3RS (originally aired October 26, 2007) has a real-life Robin Hood who robbed from a bunch of evil people and has the rewards donated to charity.
  • Leverage is a 2008 American TV series set in the modern day whose cast is intentionally modelled after Robin Hood and his Merry Men (albeit in the form of a Five-Token Band.) Rather than just one antagonist, it has various evil corporations.
  • The various times François Villon is presented in film/television turn the poet into a Robin Hood figure, especially in The Beloved Rogue, with a silent with John Barrymore, and in "The Sword of Villon," an episode of Directors' Showcase with Errol Flynn as the Frenchman, virtually copying his Robin Hood costume.
  • Water Margin has sometimes been described as the Chinese equivalent of the Robin Hood legends.
  • (Juraj) Janosik was a Slovak outlaw remembered in legend as taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Usually depicted with a merry company of his own. Very popular in Poland as well, due to cross-border cultural exchange.
  • The Swiss folk hero William Tell is sometimes likened to Robin Hood, as he's also an expert marksman (though with a crossbow). The main difference is that William Tell isn't a thief who acts Just Like Robin Hood, as he is a patriotic La Résistance figure during the Austrian rule of Switzerland. Some interpretations of Robin Hood similarly make him champion the Saxon cause in the face of Norman rule, but this wasn't in his original legends.
  • Even Norway has its own legendary Robin: Gjest Baardsen Sogndalsfjæren, known for his almost uncanny knack of escaping every time he got caught, was said to steal from the rich and give to the poor. He was despised by the nobility and loved by the commoners, and many stories are told of him. It was even made a feature film about him in 1936. Baardsen was played by an actor who was just as iconic as his role. To top this, Gjest had a poetic ore, and several songs live after him. Furthermore, he is an Historical Domain Character, being born in 1791 and died in 1849. He was eventually caught, and had to spend many years at the Fortress in Oslo, where he didnt have any means of escaping.
  • The tabletop wargame Warhammer has its own fantasy homage to Robin Hood in the Bretonnian special character Bertrand the Brigand, accompanied by his faithful companions Gui le gros (who is clearly Little John), Hugo le petit (Friar Tuck) and the merry Bowmen of Bergerac. Games Workshop, the company that makes Warhammer, is based in Nottingham, and felt that such an homage to the city's greatest mythic son was entirely appropriate for its flagship tabletop game.
  • The Discworld spin-off The Ankh-Morpork Thieves' Guild Diary mentions the only outlaw to have operated within the city (so technically an "inlaw"). Wat Snood and his men would raid the nearby forest, then use their brick-coloured clothing to melt into the city before the Forester's Men could catch them. (The folk of the forest, quite understandably, saw Ankh-Morpork as a dangerous wilderness where civilisation ended.)
  • Manga/anime franchise Lupin III has many parallels to Robin Hood. Lupin = Robin Hood, Jigen = Little John, Goemon = Friar Tuck (but based on a real life 16th century Japanese Robin Hood Ishikawa Goemon), Fujiko = Maid Marian, & Zenigata is the Sheriff of Nottingham (as well as Prince John if you're comparing it to the Disney version).
  • The Atlas-centric arc of RWBY introduces the Happy Huntresses, a group of crossbow-wielding vigilantes defending the exploited and abused mining city of Mantle from its wealthier, militaristic sister-city, Atlas. The group is lead by Robyn Hill, a charismatic activist running for political office to improve the city's worsening conditions. Her team consists of disowned Atlasian heiress May Marigold, Lamb Faunus Fiona Thyme, and the imposing Joanna Greenleaf. While the group starts out toeing the line, when the election is rigged in her wealthy opponent's favor, Robyn becomes bolder in her raids against the military and clashes with General Ironwood over his appropriation of Mantle supplies for his personal project.
  • GURPS Robin Hood features multiple Setting Update and Recycled IN SPACE! versions of Robin, including the Ghost of the Moors (a Scottish Jacobite fighting a guerilla war against the English in GURPS Swashbucklers), Jackson Ryder/Split Arrow (a white man raised by and defending the natives in GURPS Old West), Edwin Washington/Lightbolt/Librum (a metahuman who juggles being a classic hero and a bow-themed vigilante in GURPS Supers), Robyn Lincoln (a crusading netrunner who deliberately models her online persona on Errol Flynn's Robin in GURPS Cyberpunk), and Kevin Neiborr (a Space Pirate who robs the corrupt Asteroid Mining corportation and gives to the desperate miners trying to pay off their contracts in GURPS Space).
  • Lord Beric Dondarrion and the Brotherhood Without Banners from A Song of Ice and Fire and its television adaptation Game of Thrones have been likened to an unromanticized version of Robin Hood's Merry Men, appropriate for the Crapsack World they live in. Beric and Thoros (the token priest) may have some honor and feel a duty to protect the weak, but most of the rest are just a bunch of thugs.
  • The Robin costume, introduced in Season 5 of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, is clearly based on Robin Hood's traditional look.


Tropes which are ubiquitous in the original legends and most retellings:

  • Action Girl: Marian and Clorinda were both action girls, with Marian being able to disguise herself as a page and match Robin in a sword fight and Clorinda being able to pull of impressive feats with a bow. Both women are thought to have originated as the nameless May Queen or Queen of the Shepherds, and in Clorinda's only ballad appearance she is specifically stated to be a shepherd. Later adaptations vary widely.
  • Adapted Out: Modern adaptations tend to play loose with the number of the Merry Men, with the band sometimes being limited to just the named members instead of having a small army. Sometimes it's even smaller, with only a handful remaining, sometimes even to the point the band are just Robin Hood, Little John, Friar Tuck, and Maid Marian (the latter two possibly not even being members). Possibly justified as, outside of those four plus Will Scarlet (and/or Stutely), Much the Miller's Son, and Allan-a-Dale, the others were largely just unnamed extras or one-off figures who never got more than a name and some base characterisation.
  • Aluminium Christmas Trees: Contemporary works have now commonly adopted an In the Hood look for Robin Hood, both to play off his name and because Rule of Cool — a hooded cowl just looks a lot cooler than a dopey little hat, and oftentimes even pair with the idea that he gained the last name "Hood" primarily because of his penchant for wearing one. Though this is often dismissed as anachronistic, hoods were a common item, and the last name "Hood" did in fact originate as a surname given to people who wore them. In other words, this isn't just an attempt to avoid a Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames style "explanation" for his moniker, but is actually the very likely origin for him being called that.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The original stories being set in the time of a King Edward does nothing to narrow down a time period. The extent of our knowledge is that it is prior to the reign of Edward IV, as he was not yet king when the first one was written. Due to various clues in "A Gest of Robyn Hood", Tony Robinson has proposed that Robin's monarch was Edward II.
  • Anachronism Stew: Due to the above, many tropes and iconic parts of the legend don't tend to fit the setting the stories are told in. For instance, Robin's iconic bycrocket hat was almost unknown until at least a century after the typical Third Crusades setting, and there's disagreement about whether the English longbow did, either. The concept of a friar (a term restricted in later medieval usage to members of the itinerant mendicant orders) was also unheard of in England before the 13th century (though the term "frere"="brother" had been used for earlier monks), and the term "yeoman" wouldn't come into fashion until later, either.
  • Anti-Hero: Robin Hood himself, something that stretches back to the original ballads, where even for the time, Robin was much more subversive compared to King Arthur or other heroes popular at the time. Robin and his band not only casually killed their enemies, but Robin himself was a hot-headed, impulsive man who picked fights with his own friends, and often used subterfuge to trick the Sheriff.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Sheriff of Nottingham, Guy of Gisbourne, and Prince/King John are Robin's most frequent enemies, and depending on the telling, one of them is the one who he has the most personal beef with. It varies which one depending on the story.
  • Archer Archetype: Robin is the Trope Codifier. Gilbert Whitehand and Clorinda also fit as they're both rather independent excellent bow users with connections to nature.
  • Arranged Marriage: Robin and the Merry Men save the bride from the marriage her greedy father arranged for her to an old wealthy knight and arrange for her to be able to marry the man she loves shortly thereafter, sometimes without even leaving the chapel where the unwanted wedding was to take place.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Robin leads his men to rescue the bride from an unwanted wedding and the three yeomen from execution in grand dramatic fashion at the last possible moment.
  • The Big Guy: Little John, who is said to be about seven foot tall in height. Modern adaptations tend to make him "merely" above six foot, and/or will make him stockier and broader rather than necessarily tall due to difficulty with finding actors who are that height.
  • Big Good: The King is usually a good man who Robin holds in high esteem. Unless the work is going for a subversive or "more realistic" take, this is given to King Richard, befitting a king who's been so romanticised.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: While most of the Merry Men primarily use a staff, Robin and Marian are both accomplished sword and bow users.
  • Breakout Character: A number of the more iconic Merry Men are actually some of the more recent inventions, Friar Tuck and Allan-a-Dale being the most prominent examples. Maid Marian is an interesting example, as she was actually a character who existed independently of Robin, so she was always more important than his other supporting characters by virtue of being her own, unrelated lead.
  • Breakout Villain: Guy of Gisbourne; he only appeared initially in one ballad, where he's killed at the end. Subsequent retellings and adaptations have given him a much larger role, often as the sidekick of the Sheriff or an independant villain, and sometimes as Robin's more personal arch enemy. Part of this can be explained by the fact he's Robin's Evil Counterpart, which is such a cool concept that it writes itself, though oftentimes it's simply to add a named henchman or flesh out the villains side, or to be the villain with the most personal connection to Marian.
    • Prince John, who ever since the setting became firmly stuck to the Third Crusades, has gradually been promoted from merely the reason why the kingdom is in such dire straits, to being a Greater-Scope Villain or The Man Behind the Man to the Sheriff and Gisbourne, or the primary Big Bad entirely.
  • Caught by Arrogance: While he's the good guy, one of the more famous Robin Hood stories has Robin demonstrating this, as his enemies throw an archery contest, knowing that as a great archer, Robin can't help but participate. Depending on the telling, Robin's reason might be exactly that, or at best, it's because he can't resist the opportunity to walk into an obvious trap and emerge victorious.
  • Chickification: Marian suffered this, going from being an independant entity and firmly a badass who could hold her own against Robin in a fight, to becoming (over time) more commonly depicted as a Damsel in Distress. Sometime during the late 20th century, feminist readings lead to a pushback to restore her warrior lady credentials.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Robin and Marian, particularly in tellings where Robin came from nobility, are oftentimes depicted as having been friends as children who were separated when he became an outlaw (or earlier, when he joined the Crusades). This is the standard telling, but it's not always the case, mind.
  • Composite Character: The many and various characters of the Ballads will often be composited with similar characters in later versions. For instance, nearly every adaptation will make the unnamed riverside Friar of "Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar" into Friar Tuck. Richard at the Lee often becomes Marian's father. Wills Scarlet and Stukely are also often combined.
    • Even Robin Hood himself, as the modern view of him is largely constructed as a composite of the character from the ballads (a dashing outlaw) and the character from the May Day plays (a romantic hero and lover of Maid Marian). And this is without getting into the fact "Robin Hood" as a concept is likely a composite of various real life and fictitious outlaws, and possibly even pagan mythology figures.
  • Corrupt Church: Crops up a lot in the ballads. Humble friars, monks/ nuns and priests just trying to help people get Robin and the band's assistance (even if he mistakenly targeted them, first); corrupt priests, abbots/ abbesses, deacons and bishops who look the other way at crimes against the poor while extorting "contributions" get their comeuppance. This has been downplayed as adaptations went on, going from the original depiction of "most are corrupt but some are good" to "a few are corrupt, but most are good", likely to avoid offending Christians.
  • Dating Catwoman: Sometimes, Marian is a "law abiding" noble who's fraternising with a known outlaw, and thus would be perceived as this. Other times, she's firmly with the outlaws as The Chick. Starting sometime later, it also became common for Marian and Guy of Gisbourne to have a past romance, though it's often one-sided on Guy's part or simply a result of an Arranged Marriage.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Early on, Robin did this to everyone. In fact, the only supporting character who's origin story isn't based on Robin getting into a fight with them first was Will Scarlet (as he was Robin's nephew/cousin), while Little John, Friar Tuck, and even Maid Marian have stories of them fighting Robin. Unusual for the protagonist, Robin is usually the loser in these bouts.
  • Demythification: Has happened a few times, though the ballads themselves were rarely particularly unrealistic that there's little to "de-mythificate". Some mythologists have actually proposed the idea that the ballads themselves were this, and that Robin Hood the figure actually began life as a Pagan figurenote . Maid Marian herself is definitely a case; before being linked to Robin, she was originally the May Queen in May Day festivities, which descend from Pagan worship of a maiden goddess; when this became linked with Robin Hood, she morphed from a goddess into "merely" a noble woman.
  • Disguised in Drag: Robin dresses as an old woman once to escape from a situation where he was vastly outnumbered by the Sheriff's men. Marian disguised herself as a pageboy to meet with Robin, in one of her more famous ballad appearances.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Besides having an unidentified, but most likely to be Edward II as his monarch, Robin was a native of Yorkshire rather than Nottinghamnote  and Little John's real name was Reynold Grenlefe, rather than John Little. Also originally, Robin was a yeoman (essentially, a freeman commoner) and Maid Marian was nowhere to be found; later stories added the idea of him being exiled nobility.
    • Prior to being linked to Robin Hood, Marian was a figure in May Day games and plays, where she was originally a literal goddess.
  • Evil Counterpart: Guy of Gisbourne, who like Robin is an Archer Archetype Bow and Sword, in Accord type who may-or-may-not be an outlaw himself, and even his name mirrors Robin's own "Robin of Locksley". He's also oftentimes depicted as being in love with Marian too, albeit in his case it's typically a twisted obsession and/or more about what he can gain from marrying her than genuine affection.
  • Famed in Story: Typically, Robin is as infamous in-universe as he is in real life. In fact, some of the reasons why the Defeat Means Friendship gambit works for him is that the person he was fighting was already seeking Robin out to join his band anyway, and Robin was merely testing them.
  • Fatal Flaw: Robin's is arrogance. No matter the story, Robin's typical flaw is almost always that he's aware of how cool he is, and sometimes this makes him arrogant about his own abilities. Fortunately, his ego is strong enough he can take defeat so at least it's not fragile.
  • Folk Hero: Robin Hood is the best known legendary hero from the British Isles, after King Arthur who has about 600 years of seniority over him. But unlike Arthur, Robin is more of an English folk hero than British, since Arthur predated the concept of an England.
  • Forest Ranger: Robin and the Merry Men hide in the greenwood and confront those who travel through it. They're often depicted doing battle with the "legitimate" forest rangers of the time, due to their hefty corruption.
  • Gender Flip: More common than most folklore heroes, but Robin Hood has a tendency to get this treatment in a handful of depictions, likely due to his name being gender-neutral. Sometimes Marian is Adapted Out or they're made Just Friends, though not always. Unrelated, but some adaptations will due this to various Merry Men, in order to add more women to the narrative.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted with Robin and Marian; in the earliest stories depicting her as an Action Girl, it was her swordsmanship that stood out, while Robin is more famed for his archery abilities. Subverted in modern tellings, as Marian is often depicted as being a decent enough archer herself, and Robin's not bad with a sword or quarterstaff either.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Downplayed; while Robin Hood is skilled with both the bow and the sword, he's more strongly associated with the former than the latter. This is closer to being played straight in film adaptations, due to Rule of Perception: it's more exciting to see Robin Hood clash swords with his enemies than pick them off with well-aimed shots of the bow.
  • Historical Domain Character: Ever since it became customary to set the story during the Third Crusades, Kings Richard and his brother John, though some stories have set the tales later and utilised different monarchs.
  • Iconic Item:
    • Robin Hood is not Robin Hood without his bow and arrows. Though the Merry Men tend to be armed similarly.
    • Same goes for Little John and his quarterstaff.
    • Robin also has a horn which he blows to summon the Merry Men. As the leader, he's typically the only one with such.
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • The Lincoln Green outfits worn by Robin and his men, as well as the rich red ensembles of Will Scarlet and Alan a Dale, which Alan at least is specifically stated to trade in for the group's green when he joins the band.
    • Robin's feathered pointy hat, which the other outlaws may also wear. Though some depictions, especially modern ones, make the "Hood" in his name refer to an actual hood he wears instead of the hat. Though this is largely just down to Rule of Cool, historically speaking this is more historically accurate to the 12th century setting; bycocket hats (the pointy hat Robin traditionally wore), were a 13th century invention and didn't become popular until the 14th and 15th century. By contrast, hoods were a common attire, particularly among outlaws.
    • Curiously, through Pop-Cultural Osmosis, Robin and Peter Pan are often basically dressed the same up to the hat, except that Robin has a bow and arrows. In sitcoms, it's common for a character to dress as one of them for a costume party and be mistaken for the other one (almost always, Robin (as an adult badass folkhero) is the one they intended, and Peter Pan (being a young child, and thus more embarrassing to be associated with) is who others assume they're dressed as).
  • Ironic Nickname: Little John is almost always an absolutely huge man whose nickname is a joke.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Trope Namer. While there have been plenty of thieves who rob from the rich to give to the poor, Robin Hood is one of the most well-known examples across the world. Nearly every legend involving the character has him going up against the corrupt sheriff and/or king, robbing wealthy people who have it coming, and using the money he steals to help the downtrodden.
  • The Lancer: Robin's second in command tends to vary from adaptation-to-adaptation, but it's usually Little John. Versions that emphasise Marian as being more than just his Love Interest will instead position her in that role, and make Little John The Big Guy. Much the Miller's Son and Will Scarlet are usually the next two most common options.
  • Lazy Alias: While it is an ironic nickname since he is a giant of a man, Little John's real name is John Little.
  • Legacy Character: Recently, it's became common for Robin to be depicted as this, as a way of either utilising the Multiple-Choice Past options from the ballads, explaining the multiple settings, or to explore the idea of someone trying to pick up an existing mantle (quite often, Robin's daughter or another descendant). Some cases, it's Marian herself taking up Robin's name in order to carry on her lover's legacy.
  • Lovable Rogue: Robin Hood is one of the earliest known examples, helped by his having a code by which he runs the Merry Men. It involves not robbing the poor, and not robbing others of everything they have unless they try to cheat the Merry Men.
  • Marriage Before Romance: The old knight generally brings this up to the bride, but she's not having it. She knows what she wants and he's not it and she is not happy that her father found a corrupt clergyman to marry her to the old knight regardless of her wishes or prior engagement.
  • Marry for Love: The bride insists that she marry the man she loves rather than the man her father chose in order to get rich off of basically selling her.
    • Robin and Marian too, as she's often expected to marry a lawful noble, and Robin is, regardless of the origin, an outlaw and enemy of the state.
  • Master Archer: He's a folk hero known specifically for being a Master Archer who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. He'd use his bow and arrow to accomplish several impressive feats towards this goal. Many tropes related to archery, such as Multishot and Splitting the Arrow, originated with him or was popularized by an adaptation of the legend.
  • Men of Sherwood: Robin's fellow outlaws are the trope namers and a prime example.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The bride wasn't given a name in the old ballads, and originally neither was her chosen spouse but later ballads named him Alan a Dale. The bride's been given several names by later authors often a variation of Ellen. Pierce Egan the Younger's name for her, Lady Christabel, has also been used in several other adaptations.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted by most versions, which feature both Little John and Prince John.
  • Outlaw: Robin and his men are usually outlaws, though some of them like Alan are only outlaw due to their association with Robin.
  • The Pardon: Robin is usually pardoned by the King, and often Marian refuses to marry him until he is pardoned. Tales which continue past this point generally have him returning to life as an outlaw eventually.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: The bride's father is vehemently opposed to her engagement to Alan a Dale, as Alan is not a wealthy man.
  • Patron Saint: The earliest ballads frequently mention Robin Hood's devotion to the Virgin Mary.
  • Pet the Dog: What stopped Robin from merely being a Villain Protagonist doling out Kick the Son of a Bitch against corrupt law enforcement was how he treated the poor. Even before the "give to the poor" aspect of his character was codified, he outlined early on he never robbed from those who couldn't afford to be robbed, and if he stopped someone who was down on their luck, he'd happily give them what they needed to get back on their feet.
  • Pintsize Powerhouse: Sometimes, Robin is depicted as being shorter than average, in order to make his enemies more imposing or better contrast against Little John, often with a Fat and Skinny contrast between them. Much the Miller's Son is also this by implication thanks to the ballads both describing him as being one of the toughest of the Merry Men but also interpreting his name to infer he's young and small. There's also a tendency for Marian to be depicted as quite small, and in the ballad that originated the Sweet Polly Oliver aspect, she's at least short enough to believably pass for a young teen when in disguise, yet is still able to fight Robin to a stand-still.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Merry Men are an eclectic collection of outlaws from different backgrounds who've banded together in the greenwood under Robin's leadership.
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • Pierce Egan the Younger made the bride into the Sheriff's daughter, and made Alan and Marian brother and sister.
    • A few adaptations have Marian be given as a relative of King Richard, usually his niece or cousin, or even just his ward (Richard did actually take in several of his niblings and the kids of his relatives as wards, so there's some precedence here). Others have instead related her to Richard at the Lee, the Knight Robin aided in A Gest of Robyn Hode. In probably the oldest case, one early play gave her as the daughter of Robert Fitzwalter, the baron who led the rebellion against King John in the First Baron's Warnote .
  • Runaway Bride: The bride's father usually has her well watched by guards so that she can't accomplish this on her own, meaning the Merry Men rescue her at the ceremony itself. Some adaptations of her story let her escape earlier to her desired fiance, but in all she chooses to forgo the comforts of her station as nobility to live with the man she loves in the greenwood.
  • Setting Update:
    • The initial tales were set during the reign of an "Edward", referred to as "Our comely king." Due to Edward IV having not become king when the first ballad of Robin Hood was written, it is possible that he was Edward the Elder, Edward the Martyr, Edward the Confessor, Edward I, Edward II or Edward III. A later story was set during the reign of Henry VIII. Today virtually all Robin Hood stories are set during the reign of Richard I, a few going into the reigns of his brother John and nephew Henry III.
    • Parke Godwin's novels Sherwood and Robin and the King do the reverse and shift the time of the stories back to the aftermath of the Norman Conquest, when the idea of a Saxon resistance against the Normans actually makes sense. The Norman/Saxon divide had all but vanished by the reign of Richard the Lionheart.
    • Stephen R. Lawhead's King Raven novel trilogy similarly sets the story post-Conquest, though in this telling Robin and his followers are Welsh due to the setting specifically being the Norman invasion of Wales during William II's reign ("Robin" being a corruption of "Rhi Bran", supposedly Welsh for "King Raven", though since Robin's actual name is Bran then it should be "Bran Rhi").
    • Modern or futuristic tellings are not entirely uncommon, with Robyn Hood and Sherwood being good examples, which also combine it with a Gender Flip.
  • Simple Solution Won't Work: In some versions of the story, it's sometimes asked why Robin doesn't simply put an arrow in the Sheriff of Nottingham's heart. In the versions where some of the Merry Men take it upon themselves to kill him while Robin is away, the answer is made tragically obvious: as long as the Merry Men merely robbed people, they were outlaws and the responsibility of the Sheriff to handle. But killing the Sheriff, a man appointed by the king himself, means they are now directly challenging the king's direct authority and are thus rebels. Sure enough, that's what results in the Merry Men being wiped out, since there's a big difference between the Sheriff's hired goons and the army of actual trained soldiers that's sent to wipe them out. Even the support they traditionally enjoyed from peasants dries up, since the punishment for harboring traitors is much heavier than the one for harboring outlaws.
  • Simple Staff: Most all of the Merry Men use some form of staff and Robin is considered proficient with them but Little John and Arthur-a-Bland are specifically excellent with a quarter-staff and the tinker uses a cudgel he's rather devastating with.
  • Spared By Adaptation: Guy Of Gisbourne is killed by Robin in the only ballad that mentions him by name, as he does in most other adaptations, but in Robin of Sherwood, he actually manages to survive the entire show’s run, as does the Sheriff, who is also killed in most the ballads. The Sheriff also survives the entire run of Robin Hood. However, these survivals probably have more to do with the fact that both the shows were suddenly cancelled, rather than what the writers actually had planned for the characters in subsequent series.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Marian is one of the oldest examples, as she used a page boy's clothes to sneak into the Greenwood.
  • Warrior Monk: The curtail friar, who is often combined with Friar Tuck in modern adaptations, is an excellent swordsman.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: "Locksley" has became known as Robin's birthplace and sometimes the manor he was lord of, but where it is and how big it is isn't clear. Some adaptations give it as being a small hamlet near Nottingham, while others will place it in Yorkshire and have Robin be originally from Oop North, and then othertimes it'll be its own castle of varying distance. The real life town of Loxley, Sheffield, has made claim to being the birthplace of Robin Hood, and subsequently some takes will spell Loxley in this manner, though the fact the Locksley name is Newer Than They Think make this highly unlikely.

Top