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Web Animation / Sherwood (2019)

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Robin with the DNA Gauntlet in front of the Citadel.

Sherwood is a 2019 animated series released on the YouTube Red streaming service. Based on the legend of Robin Hood, the animated series follows 14-year-old Robin and her friends’ battles with the wealthy Upper City in their efforts to overcome inequality and fight for justice.

It premiered on January 15th, 2019. When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit and various platforms and companies made a lot of media freely available to encourage people to stay home in the early months, the paywall over the series was dropped, and it can now be seen for free.

Tropes in this series include:

  • Action Girl: Robin and, after some practice, Rose.
  • After the End: Rising sea levels have destroyed much of the planet, leaving Sherwood as one of the last vestiges for humanity's survival.
  • The Alcatraz: The Cube, a half-submerged maximum security prison shaped like a giant Rubik's cube. Robin sneaks in to rescue Tui and Rose in the first episode.
  • Ambiguously Human: Iniko has webbed hands and feet and is the only character with an unnatural hair colour, with no explanation.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Most of the citizens of Sherwood seem complacent to the Sheriff's actions.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Even in episode one, the rich are shown to be hoarding medicine while the poor are sick and dying.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: Instead of being a disgraced former male noble, Robin is now a female commoner. However, her father does turn out to be part of the Sheriff's inner circle. (Of course, the oldest Robin Hood ballads portrayed him as a commoner, with the nobleman-all-along business a comparatively late retcon.)
  • Adaptational Diversity: The series features females versions of Robin Hood, Will Scarlet and Much the Miller's Son and a black Little John.
  • Adapted Out: While most of the usual Robin Hood characters appear in some form, Marian is just an alias Robin uses, there doesn't seem to be an equivalent to Alan-a-Dale or Friar Tuck (though arguably the latter might be Tui), and while there's a King Richard, there isn't a Prince John (who is almost always the main villain in adaptations that use King Richard).
  • Age Lift: While ages are all over the place in Robin Hood stories, they're usually all adults save for occasionally Much; here, the insurgents are all teenagers (though Much's equivalent, Juba, is still a child).
  • Aggressive Categorism: In Gripper's eyes, all people from the Upper City are amoral scum that deserve to die. It takes a lot of Character Development for him to learn people don't get a say in which side of the fence they're born on.
  • The Big Guy: As Little John's analogue, Gripper is a large, buff young man who gains extra strength from his robot arm. He uses this a lot to lift heavy objects while either fighting drobos or getting supplies to the poor, as well as prying open the elevator doors to go after Gisbourne when the latter kidnaps Juba.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: While everyone else still alive (hero and villain alike) gets away, the show ends with Robin trying to stop the Orb and then the citadel blowing up but the city being spared. We don't know if she survived, but it doesn't look good.
  • Book Ends: Both the first and last episode involve Robin infiltrating the Cube.
  • Broken Pedestal: Robin spends the middle of the series first in denial, then depressed and outwardly angry when she discovers that her father, whom she never knew but always looked up to and whose work she learned from, has been working with the Sheriff all along.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In episode 8, Thomas tries to explain his plan and talk Robin into working with him. She's horrified and immediately chews him out for abandoning the Lower City, letting her mother die, and thinking it's easy to do.
  • Catchphrase: Robin always gives the Sheriff and/or Gisbourne a smug "See ya!" right before she escapes.
  • Composite Character: Marian Johns is simply an alias Robin uses to enter the Sherwood Showdown (this show's analogue to the famous archery tournament story), rather than a separate character. Much like Robin being a commoner, this is Older Than They Think, with a common theory being that Maid Marian was a Canon Foreigner whose stories ended up being added to the greater Robin Hood canon later on.
  • Corrupt Cop: The Sheriff is one who took over the entire city government.
  • Decoy Leader: Part of the insurgents' plan in the finale has them all use identity scramblers to turn into Robin to trick the Sheriff and Gisbourne.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted when Thomas Loxley turns out to have survived being thrown off the Upper City into the ocean.
  • The Dog Bites Back: In the last episode, Gisbourne leaves his abusive father in the Cube rather than free him, citing his authority as head of security, which the Sheriff liked to remind him was only his through nepotism. Granted, Gisbourne then makes his issues everyone else's problem, but the Sheriff really had it coming.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Common, given the constantly cloudy sky and regular storms.
  • Dramatic Unmask: The Sheriff pulls off Robin's hood in the first episode to see who she really is.
  • Electric Torture: While not shown, Gisbourne uses his taser baton to try to torture Tui for information in the first episode; she's shown to be wary of it for the rest of the series. He later continuously applies the taser to Robin to force the DNA Gauntlet off her hand, which is shown.
  • Evil Counterpart: Gisbourne to Robin, naturally. Both set out to emulate their fathers, but Gisbourne's spends the whole show belittling him and Robin was raised thinking hers was dead; moreover, Thomas was more of a father to Gisbourne than the Sheriff ever was, and they almost bond over that until Robin uses it to trick Gisbourne and escape.
  • Evil Wears Black: Sheriff Nottingham wears an all-black outfit at all times and is the Big Bad and the most evil person in the show.
  • Facial Markings: Tui has moko tattoos on her chin and forehead.
  • Friend to All Children: Gripper is immediately endeared to Juba and takes up the role of caretaker, acting as an older brother to her.
  • Gender Flip: Robin "Hood" is a girl, as are the character based on Will Scarlet, Rose Trefgarne, and the character based on Much the Miller's Son, Juba.
  • Gilded Cage: Rose describes the Upper City as this thanks to the Sheriff and his spies.
  • The Good King: While the timeline as established means that Sherwood was no paradise under King Richard, it's much worse under the Sheriff, and both the Lower and Upper City yearn for his return. He's described by those who knew him as a kind, generous Hope Bringer.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Rose searches for an epithet to call a raiding pack of drobos and lands on "turd." Despite the mildness of the oath, Juba gasps and Gripper covers her ears.
  • Guile Hero: Robin gets herself out of a good number of her scrapes by tricking the drobos' AI, Gisbourne, or both. This comes back to bite her in the finale, when Gisbourne doesn't believe that her plea to his conflicted morals is genuine this time after she used a similar ruse to trap him and escape, and he destroys the DNA Gauntlet and escapes the citadel instead.
  • High-Dive Escape: Robin's prone to these, since the city's surrounded by water.
  • Historical Domain Character: Sort of. King Richard is clearly based on the historical figure who's often used in Robin Hood stories, but given the post-apocalyptic setting, he's obviously not actually the same one.
  • Honorary Uncle: Robin's "Aunt" Tui raised her after her mother died and her father disappeared.
  • Hope Bringer: While Robin is somewhat of this to the Lower City, the one really built up as this in the setting is King Richard. In the Opening Narration, the first we hear is that his founding Sherwood gave the people a "new city, new hope for life," and the people hold out hope for his return even six years after he went missing, believing that he would make things right if he just came back.
  • Hover Board: What Rose brings to the team (along with her education from the Upper City) is her hoverboarding skills.
  • Iconic Outfit: Robin's hooded cloak is what gives her the outlaw name "Hood" before the Sheriff knows who she is. She even wears it when she's in disguise in the Sherwood Showdown; the out-of-universe reason appears to be saving on resources rather than rendering a new model for one episode, but in-universe it can be assumed that the first draft of the identity scrambler only changed the user's face, and the ones used in the finale to turn all the other insurgents into Robin were an updated version when Robin worked out how to improve her invention.
  • I Have No Son!: Robin inverts this when Calling the Old Man Out for believing he "has" to sacrifice the poor to save the rich.
Just leave. I don't need you. My mum was right after all — my father is dead.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: In the finale, when Iniko disguised as Robin is luring the Sheriff into a cell, he slips up by referring to the Sheriff as "one sick dude." The Sheriff is thrown by the unfamiliar speech pattern, and the real Robin quickly appears to urge Iniko out before he can do anything.
  • In the Hood: Robin gets the name "Insurgent Hood" from her hooded cloak, which appears to be made of a shifting futuristic material that allows it to switch from having separate sleeves to having flaps that attach the sleeves to the torso (to help with air resistance when Robin inevitably jumps off high surfaces).
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Naturally. This Robin doesn't generally steal money, but will steal back ill-gotten food and medicine that the Upper City hoards and distribute it to the Lower City where it's needed.
  • Kill the Poor: Nottingham's ultimate plan is to send his section of the citadel aloft, and bomb the Upper City and slums to drown.
  • Kiss of Life: In Episode 6, Iniko gives CPR to Robin after rescuing her from drowning. Juba declares it a kiss and the two of them get very awkward about it.
  • Layered Metropolis: Sherwood is made up of the waterlogged slums and a floating citadel where the rich and elite live.
  • The Load: Juba is usually this (though in fairness, she's a child), but in one episode, she is able to perform some repairs at Robin's direction since she's the only one small enough to fit in the corridor.
  • Losing the Team Spirit: When Robin gets captured at the end of episode 7, the insurgents feel there's nothing they can do without her, and any attempt to form a plan or take action gets shot down because there doesn't seem to be a hope of success. Rose sneaks off anyway to save her, and shows up just in time to keep Nottingham from forcing her to finish her father's work.
  • Lovable Rogue: All of the insurgents are generally good people, fighting and stealing from the corrupt rich to feed the poor.
  • Necessarily Evil: Tom Loxley knows the Sheriff is only interested in saving himself, but he still believes collaborating with him is the only way to ensure the populations can survive the incoming storms. Only during the season finale does Tom realize how wrong he was.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Subverted. Sheriff Nottingham immediately believes that Thomas Loxley managed to survive his fall when he sees signs that he might still be alive, and is actually taken aback when hearing that he succumbed to his injuries later on.
  • Opening Narration: Robin opens the first episode telling the audience about the apocalyptic floods, the founding of Sherwood, the disappearance of King Richard, and how she's taken up the role of insurgent, while a timeline showing the climate disaster and fallout that led to this state appears on the screen.
  • Overlord Jr.: Gisbourne tries to be this, but his father constantly berates him as not good enough.
  • Police State: While not scrapping to get their next meal like the sea croppers, life for Upper City residents is hardly ideal. They are spoon-fed lies by the Sheriff, and any discontent is punished with banishment. Rose was imprisoned in the Cube because her parents reported her for insurgency, rather than risk losing their residency status.
  • Propaganda Machine: Classist propaganda fills the Upper City, from schools to public service announcements, to convince them that the people of the Lower City are bottom-feeding scum they're better off without, as well as other things such as denying climate change even when the state of the world was obviously caused by global warming.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Thomas Loxley succumbs to his wounds not long after reconciling with his daughter and trying to help the sea croppers rebuild. The song that plays, "Please Don't Go," underlines it.
Finally, you chose the right side
Now I'm watching the light leave your eyes
  • Related in the Adaptation: In the Robin Hood legends, Guy of Gisbourne is a hitman hired by the Sheriff of Nottingham. Their counterparts here, Sheriff Nottingham and Gisbourne, are father and son.
  • Ship Tease: Between Robin and Iniko, more so on the latter's part at first.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Both Nottingham and Gisbourne manage to escape in the finale, when they usually die in the ballads and other adaptations. In fact, the only character who does die both in the ballads and this series is Robin herself, and that's in question.
  • So Proud of You: The Sheriff says this to Thomas at one point to manipulate him into continuing with the plan and not feeling guilty for its inevitable collateral damage. Gisbourne is visibly hurt that he's never heard it directed at himself.
  • Submarine Pirates: Iniko and Gripper. Their sub is busted up in the pilot, so they join Robin's resistance to rob the Upper City of the necessary parts.
  • Tagalong Kid: While Juba does help the team on occasion, she gets them into just as much trouble, and her role is mostly just being a child the others need to go out of their way to protect.
  • Tracking Device: Rose spends the first few episodes with one embedded in her neck. Since none of the Lower City prisoners ever have one, it might be something only done to upper crusters as a result of the police state up there.
  • Tuckerization: Rose Trefgarne is named for Justin Trefgarne, the series' writer.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Every act of cruelty Gisbourne does is for his father's approval. Unfortunately, Nottingham doesn't regard him as a competent minion, much less love him.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Gisbourne wrecks the DNA gauntlet beyond repair in the finale, necessitating that Robin cut her own palm to use her blood to stop the Orb.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: Possibly the reason for using "Loxley" over the older "Locksley" or "Lochsley," though all three spellings have been in use in Robin Hood stories for centuries.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: Rose joins the team when Robin breaks into the Cube to rescue Tui and is all too happy to break out her cellmate too.

Alternative Title(s): Sherwood