Follow TV Tropes

Following

Western Animation / King Arthur & the Knights of Justice

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/King_Arthur_and_the_Knights_of_Justice.jpg
"And then, from the field of the future, a new king will come, to save the world of the past."
Merlin quoting the Opening Narration
Advertisement:

King Arthur & the Knights of Justice is a syndicated cartoon show that debuted in 1992. It was created by Avi Arad, and Diane Eskenazi of Golden Films.

The premise involved the evil Queen Morgana and her cruel Warlord army, commanded by Lord Viper, trapping the legendary king and the knights of the round table in the Cave of Glass. When Guinevere, queen of Camelot is also captured by the Warlords, Merlin searches through time to find suitable replacements for the knights to rescue the queen. Does he find a hardcore team of military commandos? Nope. Instead he finds an Identical Stranger to King Arthur named Arthur King who is a quarterback for the New York Knights, a college football team along with 10 of his teammates and their equipment manager.

The replacement knights are partially successful as they rescue Guinevere and hold back Morgana and the Warlords. Keeping their true identities a secret to all the citizens of Camelot (sans Merlin), the Knights must keep up the facade until they recover the 12 Keys of Truth, one for each knight that only they can initially touch. Once all of the keys were collected, the real knights would be freed and the team would be able to go back home. Too bad the show had No Ending (unless you count the one supplied by the Super Nintendo game).

Advertisement:


King Arthur and the Knights of Justice contains examples of:

  • Action Figure File Card: The few toys released have these. Several are not compatible with how the characters ended up being used in the cartoon. Notably, the Warlords are simply the baddies and not specifically warriors of stone. Toy!Slasher is not made of stone and Toy!Viper is a Warlord, while in the cartoon he is explicitly set apart from the Warlords. Toy!Darren is described as smart and organized, which doesn't fit his cartoon self and, humorously, is the bit of his file card not incorporated in his SNES write-up.
  • Action Girl:
    • On the hero side, semi-knight Mary and outdoors girl Katherine qualify, although their appearances are limited and out of focus they have Neutral Female tendencies. Mary is a skilled swordsman, can work a rope, and combined with her courage and levelheadedness she's an asset to her allies. Katherine's a fast runner (barefoot), fearless, and picked up on judo effortlessly.
    • Advertisement:
    • On the villain side, while a behind-the-lines magic user and strategist first and foremost, Morgana is a Dark Action Girl whenever she needs to be. Aside from her Military Mage moments, she's stolen Merlin's book, used herself as a distraction, infiltrated Camelot, and taken hostages, in one case to ensure her troops a safe retreat.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Happens to the comics. In the starter two-parter, Elaine disappears from the story after Guinevere's abduction, reappearing only in the final minutes, and Merlin wanders to the Round Table room alone. In the first issue, she and Merlin together go to the Round Table. Elaine is thus present when the new Knights are summoned from the future and knows they aren't the real ones. However, the third issue's dialogue between her and Guinevere isn't different from the two-parter's ending, so suddenly Elaine doesn't know about the switcheroo. Equally, in the second issue Morgana sees Merlin's actions in her crystal ball and thus also knows the new Knights are plucked from the future. In the two-parter, when she abducts Lance and Trunk, she asks them who they are and has them imprisoned because they insist they are the true Knights. In the same scene in the third issue, only the aftermath of them refusing to answer her questions is shown, with the actual information Morgana wants to have not being specified.
  • All Part of the Show: What the public thinks the Knights fighting the Warlords is when they travel to the 1950s and end up in a Camelot-based theme park in "Camelot Park".
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The baddies are successful a handful of times, in "The Warlord Knight", "The Surrender", "Viper's Phantom", "Tyronne and Everett Alone", "Enter Morgana", and "Winter Campaign", but as dire as the situation gets, they always get kicked out by the end of the episode.
  • Amusing Injuries: The Warlords suffer this regularly. But since they are creatures of stone whom Morgana can revive at any moment, this isn't as bad for them as it would be for anyone else.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: As can be gathered in particular from "Even Knights... Have to Eat", the show was supposed to have lessons about loyalty, bravery, honesty and the like thematically incorporated. Not all of season 1 is like that and they pretty much gave up on in it in the second season, where the lessons were tagged on after the actual story.
  • Animal Motifs: Each Knight has an emblem beast to call upon in times of need. Several can be easily linked to the relevant Knight's character, such as big guy Trunk being matched up with a ram.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: The Knights come to medieval England not knowing how to swing a sword or ride a horse, which is handily taken care of by their Transformation Sequence. No wonder the Warlords were always trying to sneak into Camelot and destroy the Round Table.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "The Unbeliever", Darren laughs at a man claiming to have been attacked by a dragon. Even though he's been brought back in time by a wizard, gained knowledge of how to be a knight from a magic table, and seen a dragon jump out of Arthur's shield and come to life. In the end, he's right: there wasn't really a dragon. It was an illusion created by Morgana. Who normally actually does make dragons, just not in this particular case.
  • Art Evolution: Season 2's art falls victim to budget cuts. While clearer and with some model fixes, the interaction between cells and backgrounds is disconnected, and overall the colors of season 2 are pastel-based while season 1 utilized strong colors. Some design changes take place too. In season 1, Wally has brown eyes and Morgana black hair, while in season 2 Wally has grey-ish eyes and Morgana dark brown hair. Morgana's magic and Castle Morgana go from having a red glow, the latter evoking a volcano, to having a green one.
  • Attack Animal: All twelve of the shield emblems are this, but they can only be summoned once each time the Knights suit up. This limits their ability to use the creatures and forces a tactical approach. On the villain side of things, Viper has a whip that for all intent and purposes seems an actual snake rather than a fancily themed whip. And Morgana has a lizard-like creature as Right-Hand Attack Dog in the comics.
  • Attempted Rape: Season 2's first episode, "A Matter Of Honor", starts with an attempted gang rape of Katherine by a group of highwaymen. She is saved by Master Chang, the leader of the new season's secondary villain group.
  • Battlecry: The core is "KNIGHTS KNIGHTS KNIGHTS!!!", which can be repeated endlessly or interrupted by one-man lines like "Break it down!", "You got it!", and "One crew!".
  • The Beastmaster: The Knights are this by virtue of their shield emblems, which are the creations of either Merlin or the Lady of the Table. Morgana qualifies on account of the many dragons and other such creatures she's created and who serve her.
  • Best Friend:
    • Among the Knights, Wally and Brick are thé dynamic duo, followed closely by Arthur and Lance. Less explictly so do Darren and Tone seem to get along very well. Squires Everett and Tyronne, although in competition for recognition, are rarely apart. And Guinevere and her ladies-in-waiting Elaine and Mary are, of course, also as close as can be.
    • As for cases of Villainous Friendship, Morgana and Viper have a strong case of Platonic Life-Partners going on, while team combinations Lucan-Blackwing and (for season 1) Bash-Blinder catch attention.
  • Big Bad: Queen Morgana. Only a handful of the entities the Knights battle are neither her servants nor her allies.
  • Big NO: Several characters. One notable moment had Morgana use this as part of an act to distract the Knights.
  • The Blacksmith: Tone and, when he's not around, Zeke.
  • The Blank: The Warlords are soldiers made from stone. They have the same bodily movement potential as humans, except for the face. Their heads evoke helmets and as such, they don't have mouths and don't do expressions.
  • Blinded by the Light: Blinder's main use to the Warlords is his ability to create flashes of light to disorient the enemy.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Whenever the Warlords lay siege on Camelot, there's a lot more axes, arrows, and boulders flying the castle's way a lot faster than logically would be possible. The Knights pulled a similar stunt themselves in "Assault On Castle Morgana".
  • Broken Aesop: Several.
    • In season 2, two of the And Knowing Is Half the Battle segments are about how hurting another or breaking their stuff do not qualify as pranks. One of these, at the end of "The Dark Side", features Wally and Brick to lecture about not hurting others. Funnily enough, in the actual show, specifically "What the Key Unlocked", they play a prank on the ever-picked-on Lug where all the humor is that he got hurt. And it's not portrayed negatively or anything.
    • "Don't be sexist" is not a message the show does well, for starters because the only woman consistently present and capable is the one on the evil side. Our "heroes" need a lesson twice and both times it's lackluster. In "To Save a Squire", Tone is the designated Straw Misogynist and gets his comeuppance as things go, but the episode skips over addressing the other Knights', particularly Arthur's, similar ideas about women. None of them responded welcoming when Mary wanted to join the hunt and Arthur never rectified his words to Tone that worsened his behavior. Also, when Mary points out the double standards Tone applies to Darren walking into a trap (it's a trap) and her walking into a trap (she's incompetent), Arthur doesn't say she's right but reminds Tone of his oath to be chivalrous to ladies. "Winter Campaign" does a little better in regards to Darren being more believable as designated Straw Misogynist and the other Knights not agreeing with him, but the episode may not be interested in actually proving him wrong. Elaine gets very little to do and even less right.
    • Not as bad because the first episode is kind of essential to find the crack, but any time the Knights have something to say about a non-knight's skill level, like not to give up, it's worth remembering the Knights were gifted their ability to fight and ride horses and the like by means of magic. They didn't have to train or study for any of that stuff. Even acknowledging that the Knights got a sour deal being abducted from their own time to fight another's battle, some humility would suit them. Speaking of suits, the Knights also sometimes have one on another's courage, like when Everett was scared of the dragon in "The Unbeliever". That doesn't come across as reasonable when the Knights literally have the best weapons and armor the magic of Camelot has to offer. Plus magical animal backup. Which people like Everett don't have. Yeah, it might help being courageous if your gear is top of the line.
  • Brown Note: In "The Island", looking at the Beast of Fear Island will turn you to dust because of his ugliness. He isn't immune to himself either, although magicians seem to be able to look at him without consequences.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: "I am King Arthur..." "And we are the Knights of Justice! We pledge fairness to all, to protect the weak, and vanquish the evil!". Note that that last bit is probably shortened from what it's supposed to be, possibly to match the animation, because the comic book adaptation has it as "and to vanquish those who are evil!".
    • There were two versions of this sequence, the difference being the volume of the Knights' voices as they recite the oath.
  • Catchphrase: "Excalibur, BE MY STRENGTH!"
  • City with No Name: Will's home town in "Quest for Courage" and Katherine's place of residence in "A Matter of Honor" go unnamed, even though they are referred to enough times that a name could've easily been dropped somewhere. To a lesser extent, since it's a temporary residence, the mountain camp of the Purple Horde doesn't get a name either. It's just that: "the mountain camp", sometimes "Chang's mountain camp". The mountain isn't named either, despite its significance.
  • Color Motif: In "Opening Kick-Off", the New York Knights' football uniforms are red and gold, the same colors as King Arthur's armor. Their opponents, the Rhode Island Vipers, wear uniforms in black and green, the same colors as Lord Viper's armor.
  • Combat Pragmatist: While the Knights have this whole lovely vow about fairness, there's also "vanquish the evil" in there. They don't necessarily fight fair, because that's not what the enemy does either. A particular contrast exists between "The Challenge" and "A Matter of Honor". In the former, Arthur challenges Viper only to find Viper brought backup. In the latter, Arthur challenges Chang and goes into battle with illusion powder Merlin gave him. Without this trickery, Chang would have won.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The story of the first two episodes was retold in three comic issues created by Marvel. Major changes include Guinevere's abduction being far less dignified, the Knights being decidedly less supportive of Arthur, Arthur being overly enthusiastic about his new role as hero, and Morgana considering her troops disposable. An addition of the adaptation is that the football team the Knights play against is named: they are the Rhode Island Vipers.
  • Cool Gate: When the football team is abducted in "Opening Kick-Off", they travel through a gate that leads into a tunnel that delivers them to the Round Table room. It might be a Portal Door, but it's not certain whether the time-space warp happens at the gate, before, or after.
  • Cool Horse: Hey, it's a story involving knights created to promote toys, of course there's going to be cool horses. Firstly, there's Valor, King Arthur's horse, type White Stallion, and the only named horse on account of it being the only one that got made into a toy. Viper's horse comes second and is a Hellish Horse, with a demon tail and pointy bits that normal horses don't have. It was meant to be included with the second wave of toys, but the line was cancelled before that happened. The Toy Fair catalogue only has it listed as "Evil Horse". Chang's horse has a mask with a horn on the forehead, which could go either way whether its decoration or there's actually something underneath. Not as cool but still a unique design is Morgana's horse, which has a mohawk, a large star marking, and possibly an unusual eye color (intro: black eyes, white pupils; "Enter Morgana": one shot normal colors, the other red pupils, and that's all the closeups the creature gets). Morgana's horse' model was also PaletteSwapped to pink to serve as Chryslynn's horse.
  • Creepy Crows: The show's opening scene in "Opening Kick-Off" gives us a battlefield abandoned by all but crows. There's also one that flies by Castle Morgana in "The Cure" to emphasize the place's desolation.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Sadly, this only happened in season 1. In "Opening Kick-Off", Bash mentions the River of Fire as a shortcut the Warlords can take but the Knights are implied not to be able to cross. In "The Warlord Knight", mention is made of the swamp people and a place named Chaptown, which is terrorized by a giant. Both mentions are in contexts of quests the Knights go on in-between the battles the show actually shows. And in "Viper's Phantom", Merlin mentions a friend by the name/title of "Zakhor the Wizard" and spells called "Rings of Power" and "Cup of Strength".
  • Crystal Ball: Merlin has a standard one he rarely uses. Morgana has a large red crystal she calls a viewing rock she uses often and a portable white one she used in "The Surrender". Her comic self has a regular crystal ball.
  • Dark Age Europe: The main setting. It's officially The Low Middle Ages, with "Camelot Park" and "Winter Campaign" narrowing it down to sometime in 582-599 AD, but as Arthurian Legend goes it has traits of The High Middle Ages.
  • Debt Detester: The Purple Horde, being the honorable sort of evil, are this. In "A Matter of Honor", Chang and Arthur fight for Camelot's total surrender vs the release of many captured Knights. Chang loses and when the Warlords argue they don't have to hold to their end of the bargain, Chang threatens for the Purple Horde to ally with the Knights to fight them. In "The Cure", the Purple Horde give the Knights fireworks to defeat the Warlords in return for the medicine they brought them, though that also had the benefit of the Knights dealing with the Warlords so the Purple Horde wouldn't have to. In both cases, the Purple Horde has to make a point to the Knights that their sense of honor is only that and does not make them good guys.
  • The Dragon: Lord Viper and, to a point, Master Chang.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Merlin does this thrice onscreen and makes mention of other times, although in "The Island" he got a dream sent to him by Morgana. He couldn't tell the difference, thus enabling Morgana's ploy. Tone and Elaine had one each once too, both activated by feelings of love. In Tone's case, the love for his parents, and in Elaine's case, the love for Darren.
  • Empathic Weapon: Excalibur is hinted to be this throughout the franchise.
  • Evil Laugh: Queen Morgana whenever she has a plan or when a plan goes into motion. Lord Viper and the Warlords if things seem to be going right.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The Purple Horde serve as the show's lighter evil to pit against heavier evil when such is necessary for the plot. In their introduction episode, they are presented as ruthless, but still more noble than a quintet of highwaymen and the Warlords and ready to battle either to counter their brand of evil.
  • Easy Amnesia: Part of the plot of "The Warlord Knight".
  • Excalibur in the Stone: A clever but unused combination. Excalibur is, along with the knights' other equipment, a gift by the Lady of the Table and Merlin. The details of who is responsible for what part of the weapons, like creation, power supply, and shield emblems, is not given. Early on in the story, the reason Arthur can fight the Warlords is because they are made of stone and Excalibur is the one sword that is harder than stone. This loses meaning a few episodes in already and the warlords become vulnerable to whatever the plot needs them to be vulnerable against.
  • The Faceless: Rim is the noteworthy example. He always wears a black slate in front of his face so there's not even a hint what his head looks like. Po's mask is similar but at least shows his eyes and follows the outline of his face. To a lesser extent are Viper, Ti Ben, and Hung, who also never take of their masks but who only cover the upper halves of their faces with them. A special situation are the warlords, whose heads all look like helmets and have virtually no movement in their faces to express emotion.
  • Face Your Fears: Lug regarding getting involved in anything dangerous and Breeze regarding heights.
  • False Friend: Played with, because the false friend was a true friend thinking he was a false friend. In "The Warlord Knight", Lance suffers memory loss and the Warlords convince him he's Sir William and on their side. In the tale woven, Sir Lance is his twin brother. Sir Lance couldn't stand Arthur's evil anymore and fled and the Warlords' plan was for William to pretend he is Lance and lower the drawbridge for the Warlords when the time is right for a grand scale attack. Lance follows the instructions to the letter, only getting the hint he may have been lied to when he's attacked by Lucan, whom he angrily berates to be on his side.
  • Find the Cure!: Once per season.
    • In "To Save a Squire", Morgana finishes a potion, the Tears of Gorjus, that causes unspeakable pain (the SNES game adds death as the final stage, but such is not mentioned in the episode) to whomever comes in contact with it. She has Blackwing drop it on Arthur, but he mistakes Everett for the king when the squire plays around in his golden armor. Merlin knows shavings of the horn of the zug are the lone antidote, so the Knights go to get it. It's by doing this that the Warlords figure out that Blackwing made a booboo, but Morgana deduces that the reason the Knights are riding out at all is to get the cure, which she knows Merlin knows about. So she has her troops lay traps in and prepare an attack at the Swamps of Zagar, where the zug lives. (The zug chased the Warlords away.)
    • In "The Cure", the Purple Horde gets infected with striking typhus from standing guard and battling in the rain, something the Warlords aren't affected by on account of being made from stone. The Warlords see this as a means to be rid of them by sending them back to their mountain camp and keeping them there. The Knights learn of this and decide to bring the Purple Horde medicine to prevent any chance of the disease spreading. They get past the Warlord guard, which Morgana is informed of. She deduces the reason of the Knights' actions, but reasons that trapping the Purple Horde and the Knights of Justice in the same spot might work to their advantage anyway. (She didn't count on the Purple Horde handing the Knights their fireworks.)
  • Flight:
    • Primarily a feature of the villains on account of Blackwing, who has wings and doubles as Morgana's scout and errand boy. In the second season, Slasher is also depicted as capable of flight, a quality he either gained or retroactively always had. The Purple Horde adds Ti Ben, who has rocket boots that either allow flight or enhanced jumping.
    • The Knights possess flight in as far as some of their emblem beasts do, namely Arthur's dragon, Brick's bat, Wally's falcon, and Darren's eagle. In "The High Ground", Breeze builds one-man planes for the Knights to get the advantage of the sky usually reserved to the Warlords due to Blackwing. Blackwing's inevitable attack on the planes is the most furious any Warlord's ever gotten.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: There are few who don't have this. The female part of the cast tends to have their breasts outlined as perfectly as ridiculously. The Knights and Viper, meanwhile, wear armor that shows off every curve of the muscles underneath. Some of the Knights even have form-fitting butt armor.
  • A Glass of Chianti: Morgana is introduced this way. Not her very first scene, but her second has her sipping a drink from a goblet while Viper berates Blackwing and Lucan for not stopping Arthur. When it's her time to put in some thoughts, she casually throws the goblet aside on the floor.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The Keys of Truth. Only four out of twelve were found by the end of the series (Darren's, Arthur's, Lance's, and Tone's). As well, one episode had the Knights almost retrieve a key, but lose it due to an accident. This key was eventually recovered in a later episode. Another episode had the three keys found up until become lost, but they were re-obtained within the episode.
  • Guns Are Useless: Averted. Although less numerous than the Knights and Warlords, part of the reason the Purple Horde are still a threat is the fact that while the Knights and Warlords have catapults and ballistas, they have cannons.
  • The High Queen: Queen Guinevere and the Lady of the Lake/Table.
  • Hordes from the East: Overlaps with Interchangeable Asian Cultures. The Purple Horde is likely named after the Golden Horde, a powerful Mongolian khanate that stretched its control to Eastern Europe, even though it's the Huns that made it to Western Europe. Their possession of fireworks and the names Chang, Hung, and Po establish Chinese ties (though the names are also associated with other Asian countries). Their weapons and details of their fashion are of Japanese origins. Awan is a mostly West Asian name despite his sumo wrestler look and nunchaku. Rim and Ti Ben have no clear origin (unless "Ti Ben" is supposed to remind of "Tibet"). The matter can partially be explained in that the Mongols and Huns incorporated the people they came across, so the Purple Horde may have done so too.
  • Home Field Advantage: A regular tactical component.
    • Mary, Elaine, Tyronne, and Everett all have had at least one episode incorporating them because of their area knowledge. In "To Save a Squire", Mary argues her place among the active team because she grew up near the Swamps of Zagar and knows how to safely traverse through them. In "Winter Campaign", Elaine comes along to Castle Ainsworth, her uncle's home, because she often stayed there as a child and back then had Merlin make a magical entrance only she could open so she could pretend-play she was laying siege on the castle. Tyronne and Everett come to the Knights' aid in "The Way Back" because they used to play in the woods surrounding Grimlap's tree and know their way around. The squires' home advantage also plays a large role in "Tyronne and Everett Alone", where they defend Camelot against Blackwing and Hammer by taking advantage of their knowledge of the castle's layout.
    • The Beast in "The Island" controls the whole of Fear Island to the point his aura prevents any magic but his own from working. He's also a master of teleportation magic, which makes Fear Island literally his playground.
    • Although not their home, the Knights have a definite know-how advantage in a 1950s theme park over the Warlords, who between directly combating the Knights and looking for the Keys of Truth are severely hindered trying to figure out what's going on in "Camelot Park".
    • Morgana is left as the Knights' prisoner in "Assault on Castle Morgana". Fortunately for her, it's within her own castle. She tricks the Knights to the Cave of Glass where they are distracted enough to give her a moment to escape and trigger a trap before fleeing.
  • Identical Stranger: King Arthur and Arthur King; Sir Lancelot and Lance. No one says anything about the other new Knights either.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: What with the new Knights actually being a football team, they often use football terms and football tactics during combat. It's generally effective, what with their opponents not knowing such strategy and not knowing which words mean which actions.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Lord Viper and Master Chang cannot stand each other, which doesn't bode well for their factions' alliance.
  • Invulnerable Horses: Averted. While no horses are explicitly shown dying or getting hurt, the ones handled by the Warlords are shown (and sometimes heard) being caught in the same explosion, fall, smash, or whatever that takes out their riders and, when applicable, carts. Of course, the Warlords always have them back either later in the episode or in the next episode, but, hey, Breeze also *somehow* got his horse back after the Warlords stole it in "The Warlord Knight".
  • Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery: Three out of six members of the Purple Horde. Chang either has this too (with the mask replaced by face paint) or Monochromatic Eyes is in effect.
  • It's All My Fault: Ainsworth says this in "Winter Campaign" when he, his niece Elaine, and Gallop are stuck in a cell in Castle Ainsworth, which has been conquered by the Warlords. Elaine tries to tell him it's not, but she can argue little when her uncle elaborates that King Arthur regularly warned him to hire more soldiers — advice he wouldn't take. The line isn't uttered in "The Warlord Knight", but the scene of Breeze talking with the other Knights of Lance's demise oozes the sentiment.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Merlin split the evil out of himself, creating a counterpart creatively named Nilrem. Merlin keeps him locked up in magical ice for life.
  • Kill It with Fire: Be careful when Arthur summons his dragon.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: The Knights of Justice.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Goes for all of the cast (except the Warlords because they don't wear clothes). Justified when it comes to any armor, because that's not the kind of outfit to have multiples off. But, the Knights of Justice also only have one set of everyday clothes and Viper and the Purple Horde never wear anything but their armor. In fact, the exceptions to this rule are the football team's on-field and off-field uniforms ("Opening Kick-Off" & "The Way Back"), Merlin's pajamas ("Darren's Key"), and Morgana's spy dress ("The Dark Side"). Shout-out too to Mary's and Elaine's incidental armor ("To Save a Squire" & "Winter Campaign").
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: 12 Knights of Justice, 8 Warlords + Viper, and 6 members to the Purple Horde. The regular cast also includes Merlin, the Lady of the Table, Morgana, Guinevere, Elaine, Mary, Katherine, Everett, Tyronne, and Grimlap.
  • Love Potion: Morgana uses this on Tone in "Tone's Triumph" to get him to build gatling catapults for her.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: On account of the Knights being able to bring the emblems of their shields to life to fight for them.
  • Lunacy: Two cases:
    • In "The Dark Side", Nilrem's powers are said to be strongest during the full moon. It follows that the same is true for Merlin.
    • In "Camelot Park", the full moon encounters a Total Eclipse of the Plot, which generates time warps the Keys of Truth are especially sensitive too.
  • MacGuffin: The Keys of Truth. They are supposed to be able to both send the football team back and free the true knights, but it's never explained how or what these two powers have to do with each other.
  • MacGyvering: The Knights, particularly Tone and Breeze. Zeke is implied to be capable of it too.
  • Magic Cauldron: Morgana and Merlin both have a cauldron in their workshop, but only Morgana is ever seen using it for magic.
  • Magic Wand: Merlin has one in "The Quitter".
  • Meaningful Name: Lord Viper's got a snake motif going on and each Warlord is named after their weapon or the way to use them (give or take that Blackwing's got wings, but they're blue). The trope applies in two ways to the Knights. For one, several Knights also have a name that communicates their team purpose or power. Secondly, for some their legal names pretty much predicted they would one day be called to replace the Camelotian crew, 'Arthur King' being the most obvious.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Happens in "A Matter of Honor" during the Warlords' first attempt at an alliance with the Purple Horde. At the time, four of the Knights of Justice are in combat with Chang and Awan when the rest of the Purple Horde comes riding in to help their comrades. Concurrently, five of the Warlords arrive to meet with the Purple Horde and the combination of who is priority due to who's on horseback and who is known as an enemy and who is unknown as an enemy causes a clash of utter chaos. It ends when the Purple Horde takes a breather and Chang orders the Warlords to be dealt with first, which the Warlords eagerly take them up on and which the Knights gladly take as a moment to retreat.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Relatively subtle, possibly due to the fact that very few toys were released. One's never going to guess from a watch that Axe and Blackwing have no toys, but Slasher does. The most obvious signs of the merchandise-driven nature of the show are that the first three (out of four) Knights to retrieve their Keys of Truth are the ones who got toys and the episode "Darren's Key", in which Morgana reminds the audience of the Slime Pit's purpose every scene she gets the chance. Ironically, the Slime Pit, while advertised with the other released toys, never reached stores.
    • It draws attention that the half of the Purple Horde with War Wagons is about the half that never gets to speak (Po's the technical exception). If they were meant to be included in War Wagon playsets, it would explain why they didn't need character-driven investment as much as the other half.
    • King Arthur and the Knights of Justice served as Mattel's replacement for Masters of the Universe after The New Adventures of He-Man came to an end. That's why the toy designs are similar and some outright recycled. The Boulder Basher is based on the Bashasaurus and the Slime Pit exists because the other Slime Pit does.
  • Mildly Military: All factions, but the Warlords in particular.
  • Mooks: The non-identifiable Warlords. Subverted slightly in that while they are the disposable troops, they never are disposed of. That fate only befalls the identifiable Warlords.
  • Mr. Exposition: Merlin from time to time. Especially bad in the episode "The Dark Side" when he finds out Nilrem has been freed. Morgana won't shut up about the slime pit in "Darren's Key".
  • Near-Villain Victory: The premise of the series is based around the fact that the villains have already won, and only cheating by getting some replacement Knights from another time period prevents their full victory. In addition to that, several episodes have the villains come very close to conquering Camelot.
    • Which ties in rather nicely with the idea behind the Arbitrary Headcount Limit in the game; if you don't leave most of the army of knights there while you're out exploring, the Warlords will probably destroy Camelot while you're gone.
  • Never Recycle Your Schemes: Averted and subverted. Morgana and Arthur each have used comparable tactics twice. Some of Morgana's potions take years to create and require rare ingredients, accounting for why she never uses them again.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Lucan messes up badly in "The Warlord Knight". He's the one who forces Lance off a cliff, which ultimately doesn't kill him but gives him amnesia. The Warlords find him and convince him he's on their side, then send him to Camelot to infiltrate and open the gate for them. All that goes to plan, only during the skirmish that follows Lucan forgets that Lance is not an enemy right now and attacks him. The familiarity of the situation snaps Lance enough out of his amnesia and conviction he's a Warlord that he helps defend the Round Table, causing Viper to call a retreat.
  • No Ending: Type Cut Short. The cartoon ended when only four of the twelve Keys of Truth had been retrieved. A Left Hanging within is created by "The Cure", which avoids any hint as to how the Purple Horde will regard the main two factions from then on.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The alliance between Morgana's troops and Chang's troops was never a strong one. The episodes "Quest For The Book" and "The Cure" play into this.
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: The Keys of Truth, one for each of the Knights of Justice.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Normally, Viper is the hothead who acts and Chang is the coolhead who counters. Depending on circumstances, they may act differently but it's only in "Quest for the Book" that their behaviors are switched. The Purple Horde is tricked into believing the Warlords attacked them, so they come back with a vengeance. The Warlords respond in kind, thinking the Purple Horde betrayed them. Viper and Chang are initially at each other's throats, but Viper promptly stands down when Chang mentions the attack on his camp which Viper knows not to be his doing. While Chang isn't readily convinced (or likes Viper's attitude) and tries to continue the battle, Viper works out this is the Knights' doing so Castle Morgana is left unguarded and is the first to order his troops to cease fighting. It subsequently leads to the one time the two stand side-by-side in battle to get back at the Knights.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Three cases, though two are as good as identical.
    • Tone and Darren are cast as the Straw Misogynist of the don't-be-sexist episodes, respectively "To Save a Squire" and "Winter Campaign". With Tone, the switch from his normal behavior is most obvious, being much more volatile and openly biased then fits the boy who gets the emotional season closer about reuniting with his parents. Some of his second-half behavior can be argued to have been caused by Arthur essentially using him as a decoy, but only some. Darren's already a bit of a jerk, but usually presented as a pragmatic one, while's there's nothing pragmatic about his attitude in "Winter Campaign".
    • Queen Morgana's position on the Purple Horde in "The Cure" is 180° on how it was before and it's clearly written so to enable the plot. She's always been the one who wanted the alliance, against the wishes of her underlings. Even when the Purple Horde seemingly betrayed them (they were tricked, which the Warlords eventually learned about), she questioned why they would and only "allowed" the Warlords to retaliate because Viper "felt strongly about it". Then in "The Cure", she's all of a sudden very proactive in assuming the worst of the Purple Horde and, even when learning her assumptions are incorrect, still tricks them into a death trap by falsely promising them medicine when curing them would definitely have ensured their forever loyalty and be more along the ways Morgana usually operates. She's also quite a bit more belligerent to her own warriors than she usually is. It might be the recent bad experiences from reaching outside in "Quest for the Book" and "The Quitter" have affected her, but such is not communicated. In "Tone's Triumph", she's back to her old doings.
  • Palette Swap: The dragon illusion in "The Unbeliever" is a green version of Arthur's golden dragon and Chryslynn's horse in "Quest for Courage" is a pink version of Morgana's horse.
  • The Plague: Striking Typhus in "The Cure". The Purple Horde catches it and the Warlords intend for them to die from it. The Knights, don't want to risk the disease breaking out further or for Morgana to weaponize it and so brew a cure for the Purple Horde.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Queen Morgana throughout the series. The second season introduced the aptly-named Purple Horde, an invading group of multi-Asian warriors able to hold their own against the Knights and the Warlords at the same time.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Most of the Knights. The certain ones are Breeze, Gallop, Trunk, Lug, and Tone. Tone's name was revealed to be short for Antonio, while the SNES booklet explains how Trunk (not very smart) and Lug (got called "big lug" by Arthur once because of his size) got their nicknames. Implied explanations are also given for the others: Breeze is "always cool" and Gallop is the fastest knight and good with horses.
  • Reincarnation: There is never given a why to the football team's ability to replace the Knights of Justice without anyone noticing, but reincarnation is the most likely option. Not only does it account for the exact combination of twelve men forming a team in two time periods, it also would explain Guinevere's Synchronization with Arthur as shown in "The Challenge".
  • Revenge: Chang makes the most of it in "The Cure". By giving the Knights of Justice several arms full of fireworks to break through the Warlords' guard without dropping a sweat, he repays the favor they did the Purple Horde by bringing medicine. It also means he doesn't have to drop a sweat taking revenge, because the Knights are already taking it out on the Warlords. The episode's closing shot is of his smirk as he watches the smoke rise in the distance.
  • Rock Monster: The Warlords. In the comics, they are titled "Warriors of Vulcan's Forge", implying volcanic material to be involved in their (re)creation.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: In "What the Key Unlocked", ruins are located in the caverns underneath Camelot that are, for all intents and purposes, inaccesible without magical aid.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Siege: Easily the third most important location of the show is the siege line the Warlords have set up to bother the Knights whenever they do or don't give an opportunity for it. Almost all episodes have a part where the Knights have to get past the siege line before the story can continue or even start. Exactly how valid the siege line is changes per episode. Sometimes, it's an elaborate camp with raised spikes that the Knights honestly should have no chance to pass. Other times, it's four guys sitting around a campfire.
  • Spell Book: Morgana stole Merlin's prior to the series. It is a plot point until it is retrieved, but its nature varies per episode. Sometimes, it is portrayed as Merlin's personal notebook, other times it is one of many books in a series and Merlin can borrow another copy from a friend, and again other times it's treated like an immediate source of power.
  • The Stoic: The old man in "A Matter of Honor".
  • Storming the Castle: The Knights fight back this way in "Assault on Castle Morgana", "Darren's Key", "Quest for the Book", "Enter Morgana", and "Winter Campaign". If the Mountain Camp counts as a castle in terms of being deliberately hard to enter, so count "The High Ground", "Quest for the Book" (again), and "The Cure". "Enter Morgana" and "Winter Campaign" stand out because it starts with a takeover by the Warlords of respectively Camelot and Castle Ainsworth, which forces the Knights to storm respectively their own and their ally's castle to set things right again.
  • Strange Salute: Morgana's troops have a greeting in which they turn their right hand into a fist and lay it palm down on their chest towards the left shoulder. As per "The High Ground", the Purple Horde is familiar with this greeting and might choose to use it.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: The football team replacing the true knights.
  • Supervillain Lair: Castle Morgana, which is implied to have been built by Morgana herself. It comes with a magic workshop, a throne room with a dragon-themed throne, traps everywhere, various monsters that roam around freely, an in-built harbor, a dungeon, and the stables are on the roof. Specifically, it might be a Volcano Lair. For one, it looks like one (somewhat less so when its glow was changed from red to green in Season 2). For two, in the comic adaptation, the Warlords are referred to and refer to themselves as "[Warriors] of Vulcan's Forge", which most likely is flower speech for being created in a volcano. In general, the fiction implies Castle Morgana to be located in the Grim Up North. The SNES game invokes the trope near-perfectly, only missing out on the cold. There, Castle Morgana is located in Scotland, past Hadrian's Wall, and the place is portrayed as more rock than anything else. In the comics, the location isn't specified, but the final part of the Knights' journey to the castle is "ten miles to the North". And the map shown in "Winter Campaign" best if roughly fits the east coast of Scotland, with Castle Morgana standing in the bay nearby Durnoch.
  • Time Travel: Types Trapped in the Past and Timey-Wimey Ball. The twelve protagonists are an American football from 1992 and have been dragged to 6th Century England by Merlin. Merlin's magic was enough to drag them to him, but cannot send them back. For that, they need the Keys of Truth. It's not explained what the Keys of Truth are or do, but the SNES game and to a lesser extent "Camelot Park" imply that they can unlock time gates at a Circle of Standing Stones. And while the success of the Knights would seem a done deal because it is that way in 1992, Merlin makes it clear in "Wizzed!" and "Opening Kick-Off" that if they lose the timeline they are from will be destroyed. However, this means they actually have to lose, because Camelot remained the winning party both times a group of Knights got to travel to the future, even though the Knights hadn't been victorious then yet. In "The Way Back", Arthur, Darren, and Tone return to 1992 America so Tone can save his mother. They manage to do this by utilizing Arthur's key, the master key, and Darren's to create a portal that can hold for one hour. Failing to return timely would forever keep the keys apart and leave the other Knights trapped in the past. In "Camelot Park", the same group travels to the Camelot of the 1950s, now a theme park, to retrieve their keys after Morgana had manipulated them into a time warp created by the eclipse of a full moon and lasting as long as the eclipe would. It shows that their presence in the past has, in fact, had an impact, because the place they find their keys is a football tossing stand.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: Occurs in "Camelot Park", where an eclipse of the full moon generates time warps. The time warps exist as long as the eclipse does and anything related to time, like the Keys of Truth, is extra sensitive to these time warps' influence.
  • Toyless Toyline Character: Only a handful of toys were ever released, so most characters fall in this category. However, many were designed to receive a toy in the future. Merlin, Queen Morgana, the squires, and the female protagonists? Probably not. Unless they were to come with a castle playset.
  • Transformation Sequence: The Knights have one that utilizes the Round Table. It also affects their horses.
  • Tunnel Network: This is the speciality of the gnomes and a major asset in the Knights' battle against the Warlords in "Even Knights... Have to Eat". In season 2, as shown in "The Quitter" and "Tone's Triumph", the Warlords have built themselves something that could very well be a tunnel network. There's at least one tunnel leading from Castle Morgana and another leading up all the way to Camelot.
  • Unflinching Walk: Rim in "A Matter of Honor" does this after leaving a bomb in one of the village's houses.
  • Unicorn: There's one in "Assault on Castle Morgana". He promises to aid the knights in finding the Keys of Truth but is never heard from again. Unicorns are creatures portrayed as crucial to the magical environment and so much as one being in trouble shakes up the field.
    • The Purple Horde probably utilizes normal horses, but they aren't ever seen without their elaborate yellow headgear. The regular horses have headgear with a horn placed on the snout like a rhinoceros. Chang's horse does not have this, but instead has a (short) horn on the forehead emphasized by a red color.
  • Unified Naming System: On the hero side there's the Knights of Justice and on the villain side there's the Warlords, who in "A Knight's Quest" are fully known as the Warlords of Evil. In the comic adaptation, the latter also goes by the name Warriors of Vulcan's Forge, switching which of the two is the matching word (Justice vs Evil; Knights vs Warriors).
  • Villain Decay: Played straight and subverted. In the second season it became a semi-regular thing for the Warlords to be smashed into debris upon being defeated by the Knights, something that happened not a single time in the first season (give or take Blackwing's wings, and only his wings, in "The Unbeliever"). On the other hand, Morgana became more involved in the various battles than she was in the first season.
  • Villain Episode: "Viper's Phantom" is at least 50% from the villains' perspective and also gives them the opening and closing scenes. It details a plan that teleports an intangible Viper into Camelot thrice. Each time, he fails and is sent back swearing revenge. He and Morgana grow increasingly more frustrated, ending with the final spell backfiring on Viper and burning his hand. While Morgana hurriedly tries to find a spell to free him, Viper loudly cries he'll never play the lute again.
  • Weapon of Choice: Each Knight, Viper, each Warlord, and each Purple Horde warrior had at least one. Several Warlords were even directly or indirectly named after theirs.
    • An Axe to Grind: Axe: he wields a big one himself and uses axes as ammo for his cart. Trunk also is an axe-wielder.
    • Archer Archetype: Darren wields a crossbow and Hung wields a regular bow.
    • Arm Cannon: Ti Ben has a mounted cannon on his left arm.
    • Blade on a Stick: Several. Among the knights, Gallop owns an elongated mace, Lance has a lance, Zeke has a spear, and Breeze wields a pike. Among the Warlords, Spike carries around a double-bladed voulge and Blackwing rarely utilizes a staff that sports a bird's claw at the end.
    • Carry a Big Stick: Bash wields a club seemingly made of bone. Phil utilizes a short mace in battle.
    • Cool Sword:
      • Excalibur: Arthur wields it, of course. Wally also got to wield it for a specific reason in "The Quitter".
      • Serrated Blade of Pain: Viper wields one.
      • Katanas Are Just Better: Chang wields one.
      • Nearly everyone in every faction has wielded a sword once or twice, mostly during large battle scenes. The only one who stands out is Ti Ben, who carries around a sword as his standard equipment but never uses it on the show.
    • Drop the Hammer: Hammer and, if rarely played so, Tone.
    • Dual Wielding: Wally, Blinder, Awan, and Rim.
    • Fighting with Chucks: Awan.
    • Improbable Weapon User: Slasher fights with his cape. Lug's weapon is a football, but it never saw use in the cartoon, so like Brick's brick walls it might have had unexpected usefulness.
    • Knife Nut: Blinder and Wally. They can, surprisingly, hold their own with them against much bigger weapons, but during focus scenes they more often have alternate uses than direct combat for the knives.
    • Knows the Ropes: Mary gets a Rope of Strength and wields it for defense and assistance.
    • Razor Wings: Blackwing occasionally fights with his wings. Slasher qualifies for the Cape Wings variety starting season 2 when he acquires flight.
    • Rings of Death: Po utilizes these both himself and as ammo for his war wagon. Slasher also acquires them in the final three episodes.
    • Shoulder Cannon: Ti Ben has two.
    • Throw Down the Bomblet: Rim carries around small bombs.
    • Whip It Good: Viper has a snake whip he can summon from his armor. Whether it is an actual (magical) snake or a whip that looks like one is unclear.
    • Wolverine Claws: Lucan wears arm guards with three claw stubs on each. They can be shot as projectiles or extend into long claws for close combat. Awan also has claw-bearing arm guards and even claw boots, but he never uses them in combat.
  • What's in It for Me?: Chang's reaction to Morgana's offer for an alliance: "And what do I get?"
  • You Have Failed Me: Averted by both Queen Morgana and Master Chang. Both rarely get angry at their troops and will jump into action to save them if necessary. An exception occurs in "The Cure", where Morgana utters this line to Blackwing.

Top