Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Blackadder

Go To

The show as a whole has:

  • Broken Base: Was Goes Forth or Back and Forth the more satisfying end to the series?
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Any character played by Rik Mayall is beloved by the fandom, to the point that fans regard him as part of the main cast despite only appearing in three episodes and a special.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The first series' first episode opens with a darkly comic depiction of the Battle of Bosworth Field and even has a scene where Edmund takes one look at the fighting and decides to run away, all played for laughs. The final episode also deals with war but plays it completely straight, and this time Blackadder doesn't get away.
  • Advertisement:
  • Growing the Beard: Most fans prefer the seasons after the Retool. The first season has its laughs, but it's just not as much fun watching a screwball doofus, his moron friend and his clever sidekick as it is watching a wicked snarker and his two moron friends. However, if nothing else, the first season would still be required watching purely on the strength of BRIAN BLESSED's definitively hammy performance (in fact, it's the source of the current image and caption on his self-demonstrating page). Incidentally, Blackadder gains a literal beard in the second season, the first one after said Retool.
  • My Real Daddy: The arrival of Ben Elton as co-writer during the second series is seen as a contribution to its Growing the Beard.
  • Nausea Fuel: Occasional. Usually provided by Baldrick.
  • Seasonal Rot: Inverted for the most part. The Black Adder is generally felt to be pretty average, Blackadder II awesome, Blackadder the Third either slightly better or slightly worse than the previous series (depending on whether or not Blackadder is too much of a Villain Protagonist), and Blackadder Goes Forth the best of all.
  • Advertisement:
  • Signature Scene: The Downer Ending of Blackadder Goes Forth is the most famous scene of the entire series.
  • Values Dissonance: The homophobic gags about Blackadder falling in love (or appearing to) with a man haven't aged all that well. The lyrics to the credits song in season one episode one are even explicitly homophobic.

The Black Adder has:

  • Awesome Music: The ending theme
  • Crazy Awesome: King Richard IV. A crazy and over-the-top Blood Knight who goes to war (and sometimes against his allies) just for the hell of it and is implied to have killed several thousand Turks with a fruit knife. Being played by BRIAN BLESSED certainly helps.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: King Richard IV, due to his characteristically over the top performance.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: It's rare, but there are some fans who disregard the first season due to how out of step it is with the following incarnations.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • "What is a Scotsman doing in Egypt?" Also ended up foretelling Sean Connery's role as the Egyptian Ramirez in Highlander.
    • Baldrick is the descendent of a long line of Dung Gatherers. Tony Robinson would later learn that there were many different permutations of the Dung Gatherer (called Pure Collectors) profession when he did "Worst Jobs in History" Documentary series (which also meant he actually had to do it), each in a different era no less! Apparently there were a lot of uses for literal shit.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Inverted. Other characters rarely call Prince Edmund "Blackadder".
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Or as shall I be known... THE BLACK... Vegetable."
    • "As our good lord said: Love thy neighbour as thyself. Unless he's Turkish. In which case, kill the bastard!"
  • Nightmare Fuel: Edmund's Cold-Blooded Torture at the hands of Phillip the Hawk in the final episode, and Phillip's To the Pain speech.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Mad Gerald is only in one scene in "The Black Seal" (that lasts for a whole year), but he makes one hell of an impression.
  • Retroactive Recognition: A young Jim Broadbent as Don Speekingleesh, translator to the Infanta in "The Queen of Spain's Beard".
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: There is really nothing wrong with the premise of the first season. In fact it can certainly be argued it had more potential than other seasons, since it's actually rather ingenious. The execution left much to be desired; plot elements with potential (the ghost of Richard III following Edmund around and taunting him) were thrown out, while others were sorely underdeveloped (Brian Bloody Blessed as king Richard IV!).

Blackadder II has:

  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The scene in "Bells" where Blackadder falls in love with "Bob", which suddenly turns into a love song album commercial, for no discernible reason (well, okay, maybe one).
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: See One-Scene Wonder. Lord Flashheart is in this series for two minutes, and gets more laughs in his one scene than anyone else had the entire episode.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Lord Blackadder.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Some fans believe that The Stinger never happened, as many fans thought it too contrived, out of character, and just plain not funny, as well as requiring Prince Ludwig to have survived being run through the chest and struck with a hatchet with 16th century medicine.
  • Growing the Beard: According to popular opinion, this is the season where it happened, quite literally. The original Black Adder is beardless, while the Elizabethan version is bearded, as well as more interesting, although Blackadders of the third and fourth installments are also beardless.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Blackadder's mocking of Prince Ludwig's mimicking various accents in "Chains", given Ludwig's played by Hugh Laurie.
  • Ho Yay:
    • A little gem from the balladeer at the end of "Bells"
    Lord Flashheart, Lord Flashheart
    I wish you were the star
    Lord Flashheart, Lord Flashheart
    You're sexier by far!
    • Moments earlier, Blackadder was jilted at the altar (His fiancee ran away with Flashheart), so he now must marry his bridesmaid, who in fact is Baldrick, who agrees with the idea.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Stinger to "Chains" more than qualifies. After the credits, we hear a tolling bell and eerie wind noises (from the intro to Elton John's "Funeral for a Friend") as the camera pans over the murdered, wide-eyed bodies of Edmund, Percy, Queenie, Nursie, Baldrick, and Melchett. We then see Queenie there, alive and well, before she turns to the camera, gives a chuckle in a strange voice and says, in the master of disguise Prince Ludwig's voice, "Now this is a disguise I'm really going to enjoy. If I could just get the voice right." A more creepy than funny end to the series.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The fandom loves Lord Flashheart. So does the balladeer (see the entry for Ho Yay).
  • The Woobie: Lord Percy Percy. Despite being constantly insulted by Lord Blackadder, he would do anything for him and sees his insults as nothing more than his friend being witty.

Blackadder the Third has:

  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Nothing like repeatedly insulting the French.
    • And the Welsh. Really, this season is quite merciless.
    • Ditto Germans.
    • Politicians too:
    Blackadder: Criminal record?
    Baldrick: Absolutely not.
    Blackadder: Oh, come on, Baldrick, you're going to be an MP, for God's sake!
    Blackadder: You mean they actually rehearse? I thought they just got drunk, stuck on a silly hat and trusted to luck.
    • Judges too:
    Blackadder: Well, you could appoint him a high court judge.
    George: Is he qualified?
    Blackadder: He's a violent, bigoted, mindless old fool.
    George: Sounds a bit overqualified!
    • Anyone else who isn't Edmund Blackadder.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: If you've seen "Ink and Incapability", try reading any writings or quotes from Dr Samuel Johnson without doing it in Robbie Coltrane's voice.
  • Cargo Ship: Lord Sod-off Baldrick has a relationship with his turnip.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Ho Yay: Twice, with Baldrick, during "Nob and Nobility". First, when Blackadder suddenly makes a hurricane of demands that include "take me roughly from behind", a confused Baldrick's only response is to ask which thing he's supposed to do first. Later on in the episode, he admits he'd be willing to try and marry the Prince Regent.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The third Blackadder, Edmund Blackadder, is the butler to the idiotic Prince George of Regency England. A roguish cheat who constantly scams money out of his employer, Blackadder is also left with the task of running the country, manipulating the election of his completely idiotic sidekick Baldrick to the House of Commons to vote down a measure harmful to the prince by setting up a Rotten Borough and taking over the position as the only voter as well as the supervisor of elections by murdering his predecessors. When a bet is made for him to one-up the Scarlet Pimpernel, he simply opts to head down to a coffee house and find an aristocrat at the French embassy. When the real Scarlet Pimpernel is about to reveal his treachery, Blackadder promptly murders him and wins a great award from Prince George by claiming to be the true Scarlet Pimpernel. Even in the finale, Blackadder sees Prince George dead when they've switched identities and takes the chance to claim to be the real prince to the insane King George III, gleefully ascending to the throne of England several years later.
  • Memetic Mutation: The "Macbeth" scene from "Sense and Senility"
  • Nightmare Fuel: Played for Laughs it may be, but any writer will probably cringe at least a bit at the Life's Work Ruined plot of "Ink and Incapability," and Edmund's panicky attempts at undoing the damage. Subverted when it turns out that the Dictionary was never actually destroyed. Double Subverted when it is revealed that the manuscript of Edmund's novel, however, was.

Blackadder Goes Forth has:

  • Anvilicious: The show has been criticized by its over-the-top anti-war message. This is despite the fact, that if you actually watch the season, it's more "anti-war for stupid or selfish reasons, and while in war don't do stupid things or send others to certain death" than "anti-war."
  • Awesome Ego: Captain Flashheart is an egotistical braggart that views himself greater than God, while being so entertaining about it that he's one of the most memorable and quotable characters in the series.
  • Crazy Awesome: Captain Flashheart, more so than his Elizabethan Fake Ultimate Hero incarnation.
  • Critical Dissonance: While fans consider it as the best incarnation, many critics in retrospective have panned its overtly pacifist stance.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Lord Flashheart. His role is greatly expanded from his previous incarnations, but he still only appears in "Private Plane", and he still gets the most laughs per minute of screen time than any other character.
  • Genius Bonus: Darling is The So-Called Coward if his medal ribbons are taken at face value. The Other Wiki handily lists them as The Military Cross, The Queen's South Africa Medal, The 1914 Star and the French Croix de Guerre. While in real life they were probably just something that the costume department threw on in universe they show that he served in the Second Boer War prior to 1901, presumably as a teen soldier, rejoined the army at the outbreak of The Great War and managed to do something that got him not one but two medals for gallantry in the face of the enemy, (as the Croix de Guerre wasn't instituted until April 1915 he was serving somewhere where he could get shot at until at least the Summer of that year). It's notable that he's more highly decorated than Blackadder himself and it adds another layer of Fridge Horror to the idea that Darling's twitch is the result of PTSD.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Blackadder flirting with Nurse Mary in "General Hospital".
    Blackadder: Yes, why not? When this madness is finished, perhaps we could go cycling together. Take a trip to the Old Swan at Henley and go for a walk in the woods.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Captain Cook", Melchett (Stephen Fry) tells George (Hugh Laurie) that his Uncle Bertie sends his regards. Laurie went on to play Bertie Wooster in Jeeves and Wooster, with Fry as Jeeves.
  • Ho Yay: "Baldrick, I love you. I want to kiss your cherry lips and nibble at your shell-like ears."
  • Jerkass Woobie: Captain Blackadder to a certain extent, but Captain Darling to a massive extent. He's a hilariously obnoxious Butt-Monkey for the first five episodes, but as soon as he starts to realise that he's being sent to his death he becomes a real person, with a life at home, and even someone who loves him. His stoicism at the end is in sharp contrast to his desperate pleading to Melchett that he not be sent to the front.
    Blackadder: How are you feeling, Darling?
    Darling: Erm — not all that good, Blackadder. Rather hoped I'd get through the whole show. Go back to work at Pratt & Sons. Keep wicket for the Croydon Gentlemen. Marry Doris. [Beat] Made a note in my diary on my way here. Simply says..."Bugger."
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Nightmare Fuel: That chilling war drums soundtrack that plays as the characters go over the top.
  • Not So Different: Despite their rivalry, Blackadder and Captain Darling are actually more similar in terms of social class, intelligence and even to an extent outlook than either are to any of the other characters. This is especially noticeable in the first episode, when both men openly cringe at Upper Class Twits George and Melchett singing "Row row row your punt".
  • Older Than They Think: Much of the anti-war themes, tropes, and character archetypes relating to World War I (or the Great War, if you prefer) are present in the British war comic series written by Pat Mills and drawn by Joe Colquhoun, "Charley's War."
  • One-Scene Wonder: Field Marshall Haig is referenced multiple times, so when he finally appears played by Geoffrey Palmer, it's a big deal. Deconstructed on a meta level, since producer John Lloyd felt in retrospect that getting such a talented actor in to do one scene (where he never even interacts with any of the main cast) was a bit of a waste.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The War Is Hell message is all over the place, but it's driven home extremely well in the finale.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Part of the reason why a fifth series was never made, as nearly everyone involved realized that there was simply no way they could top the final moments of this series, and that critics would be merciless if they fell short. Sure enough, when Back and Forth was eventually released, one of the primary complaints was that it cheapened the ending of Goes Forth.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The final episode is the most beloved of the whole series. It's also a strongly anti-war Character Filibuster that ends with the entire cast being killed.

The Specials have:

  • Broken Base: Fans tend to be divided whether Back and Forth serves as a satisfying Book-Ends finale to the series, or is a watered down Edutainment short.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Some fans believe that the Blackadder lineage died with Captain Blackadder at the end of Blackadder Goes Forth, and that Blackadder Back & Forth never happened.note 
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Hugh Laurie's appalling attempt at an American accent in Christmas Carol, given his later role as House.
  • Squick: The visions in Christmas Carol shows at one point Baldrick in a speedo.
    Blackadder: And I end up wearing Baldrick's posing pouch.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: