Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / The Last Unicorn

Go To
Of all unicorns, she is the only one who knows what regret is — and love.

Molly: Then what is magic for? What use is wizardry if it cannot save a unicorn?
Schmendrick: That is what heroes are for.

An animated Film of the Book, based on the novel by Peter S. Beagle, and animated by Rankin/Bass Productions.

In a certain lilac wood, the leaves and snow never fall. This eternal springtime is watched over, and caused by, its magical resident—a unicorn. Having never left her forest, the unicorn is surprised to overhear two hunters speaking about the disappearance of the unicorns. In fact, they believe her to be the very last.

Unwilling to accept this, the unicorn leaves the safety of her forest and sets out to find others of her kind, following the information given to her by a philosophical butterfly. Along the way, she learns through bitter experience of human cruelty, ignorance and greed. She is mistaken for a horse (much to her displeasure), captured and placed in a circus sideshow, and pursued by a demonic being—the Red Bull, which, according to local legend, is responsible for the disappearance of the other unicorns. She also meets allies who join her in her journey; the incompetent but sweet-natured wizard Schmendrick and Molly Grue, a middle-aged bandit woman with a purer heart than most virgins.


Their quest takes them to the barren lands of the embittered King Haggard, master of the Red Bull, and his naive foster son Prince Lír. It is here that the unicorn, superior and aloof to all mortals, is transformed into a mere human, taking the name "Lady Amalthea," forced to see and suffer human weakness and emotion firsthand.

One of the overriding themes is the power of memory. The King remembers feeling happy once and tries to recapture it by kidnapping unicorns; the skull remembers wine; Amalthea is in danger of forgetting herself; Molly Grue remembers her lost youth; and the unicorn will forever remember being in love.

The film's script was written by Peter S. Beagle himself. In July 2011, he finally got paid.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The animated version is held in high regard as being faithful to the text, even though significant parts of the book, such as the poetry and songs, were left out.
  • Anachronism Stew: Intentionally, in the same vein as The Once and Future King, there are references to tacos, trains, magazines, Francis James Child's ballad collection, etc. in a medieval-Renaissance-Arthurian-whatever age.
  • Animesque: Although always intended for an English-speaking audience, the dirty work of animating the film adaptation was done by a Japanese studio called Topcraft (members of which became founders of Studio Ghibli, incidentally). The anime influence on the movie is unmistakable.
  • Anti-Magic: One of the powers of the Unicorn, which is used several times during the story, in order to destroy magical locks, turn back an enchanted tree to normal, and prevent the use of magic against her.
  • Anti-Villain: King Haggard, when he explains why he captured the unicorns. Not from greed, or a lust for power... but because they're the only thing that makes him happy.
  • Anything but That!: Captain Cully's men reaction to his telling his bard to sing a song about "Captain Cully and His Band of Free Men."
  • Arc Words: "The Last."
  • The Archmage: Mabruk, King Haggard's court magician, is a master sorcerer. When Haggard replaces him with Schmendrick, Mabruk tries to attack his former employer with powerful magic, only for Amalthea to step between them and cancel his spell. Recognizing what she truly is, Mabruk leaves, laughing and remarking that Haggard has let his doom in through the front door.
  • Attention Whore: Captain Cully. He gets rather put out when "Robin Hood" appears.
  • Author Avatar: Beagle has stated frequently in interviews that the butterfly who constantly quotes song lyrics is supposed to be him. In a meta-sense, he explains that he, the author, needed a reason for the Unicorn to start her quest, therefore he inserted himself in the form of the butterfly to tell the story of the Red Bull that the unicorn could not have otherwise learned. In the film adaptation, it even has a scruffy beard resembling Peter's own at the time he wrote the book.
  • Badass Boast: After Haggard's Hannibal Lecture below, he parts, saying, "You may come and go as you please. My secrets guard themselves... may yours do the same."
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy:
  • Becoming the Mask: The danger of the unicorn's human guise.
  • Berserk Button:
    • The unicorn detests being mistaken for a horse, and lashes out at a farmer when he calls her a mare.
    • Captain Cully is offended when Molly requests a song about Robin Hood, deriding him as a myth.
  • Beta Couple: Schmendrick and Molly. They don't get together until the very end, but unlike Lír and Amalthea, they get their Happily Ever After.
  • Big Bad: King Haggard, kidnapper of unicorns
  • Bittersweet Ending: The unicorn saves her people at the cost of the happy human life she could have known, as well as having to live an eternal, immortal life with the pain of regret. However, she also knows what human love is like, and it's implied that Lír will have some share in her immortality, since she will remember him.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The lower levels of Haggard's castle have grotesque faces randomly protruding from the rock.
  • Born as an Adult: Amalthea, the unicorn's human form, is a young woman.
  • Bowdlerise: The 25th anniversary DVD edit out a few well-placed "damn"s, sometimes rather sloppily. Oddly, the bare-breasted Harpy is left completely alone. The Enchanted Edition, from Shout Factory, restores these damns.
  • Broken Angel: Played straight immediately after the unicorn's transformation into a human, then gradually deconstructed.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind:
    Skull: Oh, no. No, you don't. Not that one. Unicorn! Unicorn! Haggard! Haggard! UNICORN! UNICORN! Haggard, where are you? There they go! Down to the Red Bull! The clock, Haggard! There they go! Unicorn! UNICORN!
  • Cats Are Mean: Well, not entirely, but the kitchen cat at Haggard's castle is a trickster, and could give more help than he does.
    Cat: No cat out of her first fur has ever given a straight answer to anyone. (removes the eye patch to wink at Molly with an undamaged, working eye)
  • Celebrity Endorsement: Folk rock band America provides the soundtrack for the film. Jimmy Webb wrote the songs.
    • Dan "Danny Sexbang" Avidan, of Ninja Sex Party and Game Grumps, loves the film, stating that it's a happy memory from his childhood. He even covered the theme song to promote the re-release.
  • The Chew Toy: Schmendrick, around other wizards. He eventually says he's tired of being laughed at.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The butterfly sings songs, recites poetry, quotes a warning from a matchbox at one point, and occasionally says something useful. It's at least implied, if not stated outright, that verbatim parroting what he's heard others say before is actually the only way any butterfly can talk at all. He seems to understand what the unicorn is after well enough, though. ("The king is in the counting house — counting, counting!")
  • Counterpoint Duet: "Now That I'm a Woman"/"That's All I've Got to Say" - Amalthea's mixed feelings about being human and Lír's song about failed attempts to court her. Becomes a love duet at the end.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The opening of the movie is drawn to resemble a series of medieval tapestries come to life (and a few images from the Book of Hours)—specifically, the Unicorn Tapestries.
  • Creepy Crows: Mommy Fortuna kept one as a pet. After her death, it followed the unicorn and Schmendrick to Haggard's castle, and returns with the Unicorn to live in her forest at the end of the movie.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: The butterfly has some good advice hidden in his string of nonsense songs.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The unicorn becomes the only one of her kind to have known love, a terrible pain for a pure immortal creature. However, this is also really useful since it is her love for Prince Lír and anguish over his death that gives her the power and motivation to best the Red Bull and restore unicorns to the world.
  • Daydream Believer: Molly and all of Captain Cully's crew believe there really is a Robin Hood. Molly also believes there are unicorns. (She's right, obviously.)
  • Death Seeker: Mommy Fortuna knows full well that the harpy will eventually escape and kill her. In fact, that's what she wants to happen; the harpy is immortal, and will never forget the woman who captured and held her. "So there's my immortality, eh?"
    Unicorn: She chose her death long ago.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lady Amalthea. She starts out as an Emotionless Girl who only wants to find the other unicorns so she can return to her original form as soon as possible, but after she falls in love with Prince Lír she comes to gain emotions and starts to wish to stay human and live her mortal life with Lír, even begging Schmendrick to not turn her back.
  • Dem Bones: The guardian of the passageway that leads to the Red Bull.
  • Demoted to Extra: The film only mentions Haggard's four men-at-arms. They have a larger role in the book.
  • Disney Death: Prince Lír is killed by the Red Bull towards the end of the film, but the unicorn uses her magic to bring him back to life.
  • Disney Villain Death: King Haggard falls into the ocean when his castle crumbles
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Molly Grue goes barefoot, possibly due to Barefoot Poverty.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Lír. From the moment he meets Lady Amalthea, he falls madly in love with her and does everything he can to get her attention, even killing giants and dragons.
  • Doorstop Baby: King Haggard reveals Prince Lír is not really his son; some peasant abandoned him at his doorstep when he was a baby. King Haggard adopted him to see if raising a child would bring him happiness, but it didn't.
  • Emergency Transformation: Schmendrick to the unicorn when she is in trouble. He is eventually able to pull off an Emergency Re-Transformation.
  • Emotionless Girl: Lady Amalthea initially has no comprehension of emotions, though the longer she spends as a human the more human she becomes.
  • Empathic Environment: According to Schmendrick, when Haggard built his castle, the verdant land became barren and hardscrabble. Indeed, when Haggard dies, the land seems to be healing (it doesn't hurt that it was trampled over by hundreds of life-giving unicorns.)
  • Empty Eyes: Haggard immediately becomes suspicious of Amalthea when he cannot see his reflection in her eyes, and correctly guesses that she is a unicorn. When she becomes more human, he sees his reflection in her eyes
    King Haggard: (to Amalthea) Your eyes! Your eyes have become empty as Lír's, as any eyes that... never saw unicorns.
  • Eyes Never Lie: Haggard knows there's something up with Lady Amalthea when he can't see his reflection in them, and instead sees a vision of the Unicorn's forest.
  • Facial Markings: The unicorn has a pink star-shaped mark where her horn is. She keeps it as Amalthea, but it vanishes as she becomes more human.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Amalthea and Lír in "That's All I've Got To Say".
  • Famous Last Words:
    • "The last! I knew you were the last!"
    • Mommy Fortuna's "You couldn't have freed yourself alone! I held you!" Mommy Fortuna is clearly akin to those people who keep venomous snakes as pets.
  • Feathered Fiend: Celaeno the harpy, who persuades the Unicorn into freeing her — "We are sisters, you and I..." — and then tries kill her once she does so.
  • Fisher King: King Haggard's kingdom.
  • Foreshadowing: The unicorn is captured by Mommy Fortuna, who knows that she's courting her own death and is fine with the idea, because an immortal being will forever know she held them. Haggard captured almost all the unicorns, and knows Amalthea is his doom, and doesn't care. His last words are "I KNEW YOU WERE THE LAST!"
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When the Unicorn glances back at her forest a final time before leaving, there are a couple of dodo birds among the animals watching her go.
  • Friendly Skeleton: The skeleton that guards the way to the Red Bull is jovial, though he isn't exactly on the protaganist's side.
  • Functional Genre Savvy: Several characters, particularly Lír, who makes a much-quoted speech (see below) about the proper order of things during the climax of the story.
  • Functional Magic: For most of the movie, Schmendrick sucks majorly at wizardry and his attempts to cast spells constantly backfire. It is only by letting the magic do as it will that he is able to cast proper spells, though he has no control over their outcome. By the end of the film, however, he has full control of his powers.
  • Generic Cuteness: Averted. Nobody looks good except Lír and Amalthea, although Molly perhaps looks younger than she should.
  • Genre Deconstruction: All of the characters know they're in a fairy tale, and the fairy tale itself mocks, parodies, subverts and plays straight Fairy Tale tropes. One of the most moving scenes comes from this exchange:
    Schmendrick: Then let the quest end here! I don't think I could change her back even if you wished it! Marry the prince and live happily ever after.
    Amalthea: Yes! That is my wish!
    Lír: No. Lady, I am a hero, and heroes know that things must happen when it is time for them to happen. A quest may not simply be abandoned. Unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.
    Molly Grue: (quietly to Schmendrick) But what if there isn't a happy ending at all?
    Schmendrick: (quietly) There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • Well what did you expect? it was animated by the Japanese. Of course this movie will have nudity fetishes in it.
    • Amalthea is naked when turned human, and it is quite uncomfortable to see Molly and Schmendrick touching her body.
    • There's a female tree with breasts that gives Schmendrick Marshmallow Hell.
    • The harpy's nipples are visible. They are gone in some releases.
    • Also for a more scary example, the Harpy has more exposed and human like breasts.
    • Molly Grue's "Where have you been?" speech to the Unicorn will sail right over the heads of youngsters, but adults, especially those who know a thing or two about the lore of unicorns, will get what she is saying. Especially the line "How dare you come to me now, when I am this?"
    • The enchanted tree calls the unicorn a "Hussy" when clutching Schmendrick to her. While not commonly used nowadays, the word was a very nasty curse slang as recently as a few decades ago in some areas. note 
  • The Gloves Come Off: The unicorn's fear of the Bull is shattered when she sees the dead Prince. At that point, she stops holding back.
  • Glowing Eyelights of Undeath: The skull, during the "HAGGARD! HAGGARD!! UNICORN!" tirade.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Unicorns may be incorruptible, but they're also wild.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Being a G-rated film, we don't actually see the damage done to Mommy Fortuna or Rukh by the Harpy, but Nothing Is Scarier.
    • We also don't really see Lír being run over and killed by the Red Bull.
  • Gossip Evolution: When the unicorn asks Schmendrick to tell what he knows of Haggard and the Red Bull, he reveals just how garbled accounts have become. "Some say the bull is real, the bull is a ghost, the bull protects Haggard or else it keeps him a prisoner in his own castle..."
  • Graceful Loser: The Bull doesn't bother counter-attacking the Unicorn. It simply concedes defeat and walks back into the sea.
  • Harping on About Harpies: Celaeno the harpy, part of Mommy Fortuna's traveling circus.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Mabruk, King Haggard, Mommy Fortuna, and Rukh are all extremely quick to take offense, and enjoy bullying and intimidating others.
  • Hidden Depths: Haggard has sent away everyone except the absolute minimum staff in his castle, because he won't keep anything around that doesn't make him happy. There are so few people left, in fact, that he and Lír have to help with the cooking and doing shifts on guard duty. However, this indicates that doing these things actually does make Haggard at least a little happy. If they didn't, he would be happier with the extra employees (which makes sense - having work he needs to attend to is better than just sitting on his throne all day doing nothing).
  • Humanity Ensues: The unicorn is transformed by Schmendrick into a human woman, against her will. The longer Amalthea remains human, the more human she becomes.
    Haggard: (to Amalthea) But your eyes. You eyes have become empty, as Lír's. As any eyes... that never saw unicorns.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Amalthea eventually gains enough humanity to the point where she "dies" when Schmendrick changes her back into a unicorn.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: 'Now That I'm a Woman.'
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: In stark contrast to her earlier horror at being turned into a human, after falling for Lír Amalthea begs Schmendrick not to change her back into a unicorn.
  • I Know You Know I Know: Haggard isn't fooled by Schmendrick's claims about Amalthea and almost immediately sees her for what she is, and both know it.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Unicorns, Molly, and Lír.
  • Invisible to Normals: Unicorns just look like white horses to people who don't believe in them.
  • Irony:
    • Mommy Fortuna has a carnival of supposed magical creatures that are really ordinary animals bewitched with illusions (for example an old lion appears as a Manticore to the people). When Mommy Fortuna catches a real mythical creature (the Unicorn) humans can't see the horn so she must put a fake one on her to make them believe she's a real unicorn.
    • Also Mommy Fortuna's powers are only to imprison the creatures and create illusions, as her servant Schmendrick reveals when he says "she can't turn cream into butter." Schmendrick is the one who turns out to be able to transform creatures into other forms, as seen when he turns the unicorn into a human woman.
  • It Must Be Mine!: Haggard and "his" unicorns. His speech provides the trope page quote.
    Haggard: There. There they are. There they are! They are MINE! They belong to ME! The Red Bull gathered them, one by one, and I bade him drive each one into the sea! ...I like to watch them. They fill me with joy. The first time I felt it, I thought I was going to die. I said to the Red Bull, "I must have them! I must have all of them, all there are! For nothing makes me happy... but their shining, and their grace." So the Red Bull caught them. Each time I see the unicorns - MY unicorns - it is like that morning in the woods, and I am truly young, in spite of myself!
  • It's All About Me: Haggard's biggest vice, and greatest danger, is his selfishness and obsessiveness.
  • Jumped at the Call: Both Schmendrick and Molly are willing to travel with the unicorn within hours of meeting her.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Captain Cully and his outlaw gang certainly aspire to be, but instead are quite the opposite. They rob the poor because they can't fight back, and pay off the rich to turn a blind eye.
  • Karmic Death: Mommy Fortuna and King Haggard.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Lír develops into one in order to woo Amalthea, fighting monsters and bringing her trophies and tributes.
  • Last of Her Kind: The Unicorn is shocked to learn from a pair of hunters and a butterfly that she is the last of her kind. But not exactly. It turns out that there are more unicorns... but they have all been imprisoned in the sea by King Haggard, with the help of the Red Bull.
  • The Last Title: The film is about the last unicorn.
  • Loss of Identity: After being transformed into a human, the unicorn gradually forgets who she was, to the point she doesn't know anymore who (and what) she is.
  • Love at First Sight: Prince Lír falls in love with Lady Amalthea the moment he meets her.
  • Magic Enhancement: The unicorn buffs Schmendrick's magic when he casts an illusion of Robin Hood.
  • Magikarp Power: Schmendrick's magic. Similarly, see also Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass.
  • Marshmallow Hell: When Schmendrick accidentally converts the tree he's tied to into a sapient entity, he finds himself in this.
    Schmendrick: Oh, God. I'm engaged to a Douglas Fir. HELP!!! UNICORN, WHERE ARE YOU?!
    Unicorn: [approaches as a mystical storm brews]
    Tree: Oh! Galls and fireblight! She shall never have you, that hussy! We will perish together!
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Prince Lír and the unicorn as Lady Amalthea. They could live a mortal life together as humans, but that becomes impossible when she turns back into a unicorn, making her both immortal and unable to love him.
  • Meaningful Name: Several.
    • The unicorn's alias, "Amalthea," is a reference to the nanny goat who nursed Zeus. The original Amalthea had lost a horn, which became the Cornucopia, effectively making her a unicorn.
    • "Haggard" pretty much speaks for itself.
    • "Schmendrick" is a Yiddish word meaning someone who is foolish, clueless, or hopelessly out of his depth: a boy sent to do a man's job.
    • The Harpy is named "Celaeno," after one of the three classic harpies, because she is the dark and twisted yang to the Unicorn's light and pure yin.
    • "Lír" is an Irish name which means "the sea".
  • Medium Awareness: Far less so than in the book, but the characters hint they know they're in a fairy tale.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: The unicorn's frightening personality change following her transformation.
  • Mood Whiplash: After Mabruck dramatically tries to take revenge on Haggard for releasing him, and being AntiMagicked by Amalthea, Lír sighs and promises to write him a good reference.
  • Morphic Resonance: Lady Amalthea retains the Unicorn's mane of white hair, purple eyes, and the starburst mark on her forehead. The latter disappears as she becomes more human.
  • Motive Rant: King Haggard has one when he wistfully tells Lady Amalthea why he holds all the unicorns prisoner in the sea.
  • Multiboobage: The Harpy has three breasts.
  • Mystical High Collar: Schmendrick wears a flared collar with his robes.
  • Mystical White Hair: Amalthea, the unicorn's human form, has long white hair.
  • Naked on Arrival: Due to an aversion of Magic Pants, the unicorn's human form is naked after she is transformed. Copious amounts of Godiva Hair were used, naturally; though when she transforms back, her clothes simply disappear.
  • Nephewism: Gender flipped and invoked. When Haggard tries to get Schmendrick to admit the truth about who Amalthea is, he claims that she's his niece.
  • No Name Given: The protagonist is called simply "the unicorn." "Amalthea" is just an alias used when in human form.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Schmendrick is unfazed by the unicorn/Amalthea being completely nude after he turns her into a human.
  • Not So Different:
    • Mommy Fortuna and Haggard, it turns out.
    • Celaeno invokes this on the Unicorn, calling them "sisters". The Unicorn doesn't disagree.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: When asked what he sees when he looks at the unicorn, Schmendrick claims to see only a white mare. But by his earlier startled look and stammering, it's obvious he knows exactly what she is.
  • Oddly Small Organization: Haggard will have nothing around him that does not make him happy, so he cut his castle's staff to such an absolute minimum that he and his son have to take a shift guarding the castle gates on occasion.
  • Older Than They Look: Word of God says Schmendrick is anywhere between his early 40's to his 60's. (In the book he is The Ageless, made immortal by his old magic teacher to give him time to figure out his magic).
  • Our Demons Are Different: The Red Bull is a massive, fiery red bull with tusks and glowing eyes.
  • Personal Horror: Amalthea starts losing her sense of self when she's transformed into a human.
  • Placebo Effect: Schmendrick tricks the skull by pretending to turn a flask of water into wine and then drinking it. When the skull demands to be given some, Schmendrick objects that the skull can't smell or taste wine, to which the skull responds that it remembers the smell and taste of wine. Schmendrick hands the empty flask to the skull, and it proceeds to "drink" from it and act intoxicated.
  • The Power of Love: Turns Lír from a lazy coward into a Genre Savvy hero, and allows the Unicorn to face her greatest fear.
  • Prince Charming: Prince Lír.
  • Princess Classic: Amalthea, especially as her humanity becomes more evident, acts like this, and nearly becomes an actual princess.
  • Prophecy Twist: The mysterious riddle the cat gives Molly to unravel the way to the Red Bull's lair turns out to be rather literal, and mostly irrelevant: Schmendrick just drinks the water while pretending to turn it into wine and, as the skull itself says, the clock is "just numbers and gears, pay it no mind"; all that really matters is using the "wine" to get the skull to tell them of the passage through the clock.
  • Punny Name: As well as being a Yiddish word (see above), "Schmendrick the Magician" is also a pun on "Mandrake the Magician."
  • Quest for the Rest
  • Rapunzel Hair: Lady Amalthea.
  • Really Was Born Yesterday: Amalthea.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: The bandits complain that Molly keeps serving them rat soup. "At least she could use a different rat! The third night, anyway!"
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Skull displays such eyes when he recognizes the eponymous character for what she truly is. See also Glowing Eyelights of Undeath.
  • Relatively Flimsy Excuse: As noted above, Schmendrick says that "Lady Amalthea" is his niece when he meets King Haggard. They don't really buy it, but they don't ask any more questions.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The unicorn herself and all her forest companions.
  • Robin Hood: Summoned by Schmendrick's magic to show his power to Captain Cully, a "real life" Robin Hood in the story.
  • Run or Die: Subverted. The unicorn explains that running from anything immortal only attracts their attention. Not that this stops her from bolting in a panic when she meets the Red Bull, though it could be justified by the fact that the Bull's attention is already fixed on her, and he is actively chasing her.
  • Screw Destiny: Just before the final encounter with the Red Bull, Lady Amalthea wants to back out, marry Lír, and live happily ever after. Lír is the one who insists that the story can't end that way.
  • Scullery Maid: Molly takes a job as one in Haggard's castle.
  • Sexual Karma: The talking tree and her "attributes".
  • Shout-Out: When Rukh shows up in the middle of Schmendrick releasing the unicorn, he reveals what riddle Schmendrick told him to stump him: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Captain Cully. He thinks of himself as a romantic folk hero, but in reality he's just a petty brigand who doesn't understand the hopes and dreams of his crew.
  • Speaks in Shout-Outs: The Butterfly speaks only in poetry and song.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Amalthea and Lír. She eventually reciprocates his feelings, but since she's a unicorn, she can't stay with him or even love him anymore after returning to her true form. She can only live with the regret of not staying with him forever.
  • Status Buff: Done in one instance by the unicorn to Schmendrick, when he successfully summons an illusion of Robin Hood and his allies.
  • Stock Sound Effects: The dragon Lír slays has Godzilla's roar — though this is removed in some versions of the film — and the Red Bull sounds like Gamera.
  • Strange Secret Entrance: Although the skull claims the clock "is just numbers and gears, pay it no mind", the fact is that the way to the Red Bull's lair in the caverns beneath Haggard's castle is to "walk right through it". It is clearly a physical object (Haggard is able to attack and topple it with his sword), but when the heroes do as the skull says, they do indeed pass right through magical mists into the tunnel on the other side, and these disappear when the clock is destroyed. Like the Red Bull itself (or the skull for that matter), it's never explained how Haggard has such magic (other than, it's implied, via Mabruk).
  • Sweetie Graffiti: When it opens up to Captain Cully's campfire, you can see a tree with the words CC + MG carved inside a heart.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: The cat, who also sports an eyepatch and pegleg (the former apparently a complete affectation, since at one point he switches which eye it covers to reveal a perfectly normal eye had been behind it).
  • That Was Not a Dream:
    Lír: Father? I had that dream again... no... I was dead. (with awe) I was dead.
  • There Is Another: Schmendrick and Lady Amalthea discover that there are other unicorns, but they are all captives of King Haggard. The story then becomes about trying to rescue them.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: The Skull turns rosy-cheeked as it empties a bottle of "wine."
  • Tongue Twister: "And be wary of wousing a wizard's wath! Rousing a rizard's... Be wary of making a magician angry!"
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Schmendrick, who goes from being a mere medium of magic to being able to command it at will.
    • Lír starts off as a lazy schmuck, but eventually fights the Red Bull, lays down his life to save the unicorn, and becomes King.
    • The unicorn, who goes from terrified, fleeing prey animal to the one who drives the Red Bull into the sea.
  • Understanding Boyfriend: Learning that Lady Amalthea is actually a unicorn in human form doesn't affect Prince Lír's feelings for her at all.
    Prince Lír: Unicorn, mermaid, sorceress... no name you could give her would surprise or frighten me. I love whom I love.
    Schmendrick: Well, that's a very nice sentiment. But when I change her back into her true self —
    Prince Lír: (firmly) I love whom I love.
  • Unfortunate Names: Schmendrick, a Yiddish word meaning "stupid person".
  • Ungrateful Bitch: The harpy, who immediately attacks the unicorn three times after she sets her free before turning her wrath on Mommy Fortuna and her assistant. (The unicorn expected this to be the case. She freed the harpy anyway, because she couldn't bear to leave a fellow immortal being caged.)
  • Unicorn: One of the most famous.
  • Uniqueness Value: The Last Unicorn is so very, very precious to all involved because she is the last of her kind. After freeing all the other unicorns she remains unique because she's the only one to have ever experienced (and will remember) human emotion.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    Molly Grue: Slit his wizard!
    • The book explains that she meant either "gizzard" or "weasand" (an archaic term for the throat), and amalgamated the two.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Of course, in a world with dragons and harpies, Molly isn't shocked the cat can talk, just that it didn't speak up sooner.
    Molly: Oh! You can talk!
  • Weirdness Magnet: Unicorn gives Schemendrick advice on how not to be one.
    Unicorn: (firmly) Don't Look Back. And don't run. You must never run from anything immortal — it attracts their attention.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Four men-at-arms are mentioned (very minor characters in the book), but they never make an appearance.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Unicorns don't have or understand human emotions, so Amalthea doesn't know what love is at first. She eventually gets to know it thanks to Lír and by the end she's the only unicorn to know what love is.
  • Wild Magic: Every time Schmendrick tries to do magic, he can barely control it. The only spell he can cast without it backfiring on him for most of the film is "Magic, do what you will."
  • Wild Wilderness
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?:
    • A major theme in the story is that immortal beings cannot appreciate mortality.
    • Mommy Fortuna had a twisted view of immortality in regards to the Harpy:
      Fortuna: Oh, she'll kill me one day or another. But she will remember forever that I caught her; that I held her prisoner. So there's my immortality, eh?
    • Also Schmendrick comments at the end that Lír will achieve immortality through the unicorn's memory of loving him.
  • The Wise Prince: Lír grows into this.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Not explicitly stated, but when the most beautiful creature in the world becomes human, this seems to be the result. It's worth noting however, that as she becomes more human she stays beautiful, but the mystical quality of her beauty fades away.
  • You Can See Me?:
    • Most ordinary people mistake the unicorn for a white horse, and Mommy Fortuna has to put a fake horn on the unicorn to exhibit her to the public. Mommy Fortuna, Schmendricknote , Molly, and (terrifyingly) the Red Bull all know the unicorn when they encounter her. The cat is also able to see her, because "No cat out of its first fur can ever be deceived by appearances. Unlike humans, who seem to enjoy it." Haggard isn't sure at first, but he's spent enough time staring at unicorns that he quickly begins to suspect who Amalthea really is.
    • King Haggard launches into a furious tirade when he reveals to Amalthea that he knows she's a unicorn in disguise.
    Haggard: I know you! I nearly knew you as soon as I saw you on the road, coming to my door. Since then, there is no movement of yours that has not betrayed you! A pace, a glance, a turn of the head, the flash of your throat as you breathe; even your way of standing perfectly still — they were all my spies!
  • You Can Talk?: Molly is only mildly surprised when the cat speaks ("Oh! You can talk!"), in more of a "why are you speaking now" rather than "Oh my God! A talking cat!" This is probably due to the general Medium Awareness in the film. Neither she nor Schmendrick are particularly surprised or creeped out by the talking skeleton, but in that case it's probably because the cat warned them about it earlier.
    • To be fair, even if you remove the Medium Awareness, this is a world of wizards, unicorns, and demonic creatures (the Harpy and the Red Bull). A talking cat is just par for the course.

"I'm aliiiiiiive
I'm aliiiiiii-ii-ii-iiiive"


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: