Robin of Sherwood

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The hooded man will come to the forest and meet with Herne the Hunter, to become his son and do his bidding.

A 1980s retelling of the Robin Hood legend, with a large dose of Celtic mysticism. In this version, Robin is The Chosen One, the spiritual son of pagan forest-god Herne the Hunter. Notable for being the first version to get away from the green-tights-and-hat-with-a-feather image in favour of something a band of 12th century outlaws might actually wear, and for introducing the idea of a Saracen outlaw.

Also notable for portraying King Richard as just as bad as Prince John, although that didn't catch on as much. Unique[1] in that it had two different Robins -- one a woodsman, the other a nobleman who took on the job after the first was killed -- allowing it to cover the two different versions of Robin found in the various (contradictory) tales. The original, played by Michael Praed, appeared in the first two series; Jason Connery played his replacement in the third and final series. There were plans for a fourth series but the production company ran out of money; there were several attempts up until 2010 to revive it, including plans for a movie and several attempts to pitch a new series to ITV, none of which came to anything (and the recent death of writer Richard Carpenter has likely put an end to such plans for good).

Also known for putting Irish music group Clannad on the map (apart from their theme from Harry's Game).


Tropes used in Robin of Sherwood include:
  • Action Girl: Maid Marion, Isadora.
  • All Myths Are True: Primarily a weird mix of Celtic Mythology and Christian folklore. There are also episodes drawing from Norse Mythology and Arthurian legend, with another episode featuring another legendary English outlaw named Adam Bell.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Definitely Philip Mark, the replacement Sheriff of Nottingham, who is described as a "posturing catamite", seems deliberately touchy-feely with the men that surround him, and at one point says to Guy: "you must show me this tunnel of yours", which results in a startled look from Guy, even though Philip is ostensibly refering to a secret passage in the castle.
  • Anti-Hero: Will Scarlet. It's strange to see any member of the Merry Men as a borderline sociopath.
    • "Which ear is your favorite!? Your RIGHT one... or your LEFT one?" with accompanying indications via dagger. This to a church abbot.
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: In the episode The Swords of Wayland, the outlaws scoff at the idea of demons terrorizing a village, even though they had come up against evil spells and Satanic rituals in the past.
  • Arc Words: "Nothing's forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten."
  • Ascended Extra: The series did not plan on introducing a Saracen member of Robin's team. One episode included a Saracen slave who was scripted to die fighting Robin in defence of his master. The actor was such a great guy, however, that they rewrote the scene so that he disarmed Robin, held a blade to his throat, then grinned and let him go and became a mostly non-speaking extra. As the series progressed his story was fleshed out and he owned a couple of episodes by the end. Almost all versions of the story in film and TV since have featured a Middle Eastern Merry Man, including Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Djaq in the late-2000s BBC show.
  • Attempted Rape: Prince John and Marion. It veers into Black Comedy Rape as Marion stalls for time by suggesting a game of "conquest", in which she gets to verbally and physically abuse him as he tries to seduce her.
  • Author Appeal: At the same time that Richard Carpenter deserves credit for giving Marion back her street-cred (she was quite the Badass in the old ballads, before Hollywood got hold of her and turned her into a Damsel in Distress) by making her a useful and skilled member of the outlaws, she also goes through an awful lot of bondage and brainwashing in his scripts.
    • Likewise, most evil villains usually had a sultry concubine in tow.
  • Bar Brawl: A couple of times.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Said almost word-for-word by Prince John in regards to Marion.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Nasir toward Marion. It's really very sweet.
  • Big No: Robin's foster-father when the mill is burnt down.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: There were three memorable female characters in the show: Isadora (blonde), Meg (brunette), and of course, Marion (redhead).
  • Boisterous Bruiser: King Richard.
  • Book Ends: The first and last episode of the first season each involve an important scene among the circle of standing stones.
  • Brainwashed: Richard Carpenter seemed to love this trope. It happened to one or all of the outlaws at least once a season.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: This is what happens after Robin's death. The first two episodes of season three deal with Robert of Huntingdon's attempts to reunite the outlaws.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done very, very briefly in The Swords of Wayland in which a group of nuns take off their wimples to reveal their long hair, and one stares defiantly at the camera.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Much for the good guys, Guy for the bad guys.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Delightfully done by John Rhys-Davies as King Richard in Series 1 Episode 6. Then again, with his voice and presence, could he do any different?

'I RIDE To Nottingham!' 'Who are you?' *PUNCH* 'Lionheart!'
'BE SILENT IN OUR PRESENCE!!'
'I've heard the stories of you and the Sheriff using this forest -- MY FOREST -- as your battleground'.

Sherriff: Well? Where's the villain's head?
Robin in guard uniform: On the villain's shoulders.

  • Dual-Wielding: Nasir.
  • The Dung Ages: Nearly every peasant character is filthy, with Robin of Loxley a notable exception. The nobility isn't that much better off; Sir Guy of Gisburne is shocked when he learns that Prince John takes two baths a week (the Sheriff, on the other hand, takes a few baths on screen -- and on one occasion shares the tub with Gisburne).
  • Enemy Mine: The Sheriff temporarily teams up with Robin in The Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Baron de Belleme.
  • Evil Uncle: Edgar to Robert of Huntingdon, and the Sheriff to Martin.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The show was a rather eclectic mix of characters that ascribed to Christianity, mysticism, paganism, Satanism, atheism or Judaism, all of which had elements of their differing belief-systems manifest in the show: golems, spirits, demons, witches, sorcerers and pagan gods.
  • Fiery Redhead: Unusually Averted; Marion has her moments, but is mostly quite an easy-going gal.
  • Five-Man Band :
  • Feet First Introduction: Will Scarlett's reintroduction in Herne's Son.
  • Forceful Kiss: Owen of Clun to Marion (she punches him immediately afterwards).
  • Freudian Excuse: Guy has a doozy of one.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Will doesn't take too kindly to Little John's girlfriend when he decides to elope with her.
  • Flynning: A notable aversion, at least partly because Mark Ryan (Nasir) and Robert Addie (Gisburne) were extremely competent swordsmen.
  • Glory Days: Adam Bell tries to recapture them with Robin.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Will Scarlett
  • The Hashshashin: They show up a couple of times. Nasir used to be one.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: All the outlaws, but particularly John and Will.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: The inevitable fate of Marion once Michael Praed left the show.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Several familiar faces turn up, including David Horton, Inspector Barnaby, Chief Inspector Japp and Miranda's mum!.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Gulnar is killed by his own golem.
    • The Sheriff ropes in Robin and the outlaws to rescue his kidnapped nephew Martin (who he's only interested in due to his lands and fortune) only to find that a few days with the outlaws is enough to destroy Martin's adulation of his Evil Uncle and decide that he's never going to see him again.
  • Hypnotize the Princess: Gulner does this to Marion in Herne's Son.
  • I Die Free
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Isadora is considered this by her father on account of her being a girl. Though he calls in Robin to be his Spiritual Successor as the guardian of Caerleon, Robin declines and points out Isadora as a much better option.
  • Ironic Name: The elderly protector of Caerleon and the Round Table is a man called Lord Agrivaine, said to be the latest in a long line of Agrivaines dating back to the time of Camelot. Anyone who knows their Arthurian mythology will know that the original Agrivaine would have been the last person willing to guard the Round Table.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": The Lichfield bureaucrats can't pronounce Gisborne's name right, much to his frustration.
  • Kill the God: In Lord of the Trees Gisborne tries to kill Herne.
  • Killed Off for Real: Robin himself. Luckily, Herne has a replacement lined up.
  • King Arthur: Pops in for a brief cameo.
  • King Incognito: King Richard.
  • Knight Templar: Robin fights a literal group of these at one point.
  • Lady in Red: Morgwyn
  • Large Ham: Gulnar
  • Left Hanging: In The Enchantment, one of Baron de Belleme's concubines is successful in resurrecting his dead body, but the Baron is last seen in his castle, planning his next scheme... and that's the last we ever see or hear of him.
    • Also the finale of the entire series, in which Marion opts to reject Robin's marriage proposal and become a nun. Richard Carpenter was relying on a fourth series in order to resolve this issue, but he never got the chance.
    • In a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, our final shot of the Sheriff and Gisborne is them merrily taking Robin's dead body back to Nottingham in a cart, unaware that the corpse is actually just a golem that is already crumbling away. Prince John's inevitable reaction to this is tantalizingly left up to the imagination.
  • Legacy Character: As above.
  • The Load: Much, though he's not so bad in the later episodes.
  • Love At First Sight: Robin and Marian. "You are like a May morning."
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: In The Swords of Wayland. There's even seven outlaws exactly!
  • Master Swordsman: Nasir
  • Messianic Archetype: Robin of Loxley.
  • Naked People Are Funny: After Will and Much think they've been infected by leprosy they tear their clothes off and jump in the river. The other outlaws find it amusing until they learn what happened.
  • Neutral Female: Used positively. Marion wasn't much use in a fist-fight (though good with a longbow) and knew that the best way of helping was simply to stay out of the way.
    • Deconstructed with Queen Isabella. During an assassination attempt she flees in terror, and watches as Robin and her attacker fight, actively following them through the church just so she can watch them go at it. Finally Robin has the assassin unarmed and at his mercy, at which point Isabella shoots him in the back with a crossbow.
    • Sarak's woman, shown in the Flash Back during which Nasir and Sarak fight.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Gisborne gets increasingly frustrated by them in Lichfield.
  • One-Scene Wonder: See how many times King Richard is listed on this page. He only appeared in one episode.
    • Queen Hadwisa and Queen Isabella of Angouleme.
  • The Quiet One: Nasir. Of course, he was an ultra-sneaky assassin.
  • Really Dead Montage: The first Robin gets one of these as the remaining outlaws shoot fiery arrows into the sky and recall their first moments with him.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Adam Bell
  • Red Shirt: Every so often an episode would open with a brand-new outlaw established among the core group. Their job was to die before the 45 minutes were up.
  • Remember the New Guy?: In one of the final episodes we are introduced to the Sheriff's nephew Martin. Though we've never seen him before, he's apparently been living in Castle Nottingham for the past two years.
  • Richard the Lion Heart: As played by John Rhys-Davies.
  • Rightful King Returns: Deconstructed mercilessly when King Richard comes back from the Crusades -- and all Richard Carpenter had to do was accurately depict the historical events surrounding his return.
  • Royal We: King Richard.
  • Satan: The two-part episode The Swords of Wayland involve a group of evil nuns trying to release Lucifer out of hell. Seriously.
  • Secret Underground Passage: The outlaws use the Sheriff's to break into the castle in The Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • Shirtless Scene: Nasir and the two Robins.
  • Shown Their Work: This troper was deeply impressed that the writers not only knew the name of the late 12th c. Earl of Huntingdon but that he was a member of the Scottish royal family. BTW David of Huntingdon's eldest son WAS named Robert, though he is supposed to have died young -- or been disinherited?
    • According to the DVD Commentary, one left-handed extra whose scene required her to write in a ledger was asked to write with her right hand considering the stigma against left-handed people in those days.
    • They also demonstrate a surprisingly-accurate view of England in the middle ages (save for the obviously fantastic bits), up to and including the incorporation of historical ephemera (like the fact that King Richard once forced his noblemen to bid on their titles at an auction in Nottingham). Most of their take upon the Robin Hood legend is also well-rooted in oft-times obscure earlier versions.
    • When The Knights Templar showed up, one of them spoke only German (although he clearly understood his leader's French). He addressed the leader not with any of the ordinary German words for leader or commander, but as "Komtur" -- a word that refers only to a commander in a knightly order such as the Templars.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The bizarre clucking sounds that accompany Marion when she enters Sherwood for the first time.
  • Stout Strength: Friar Tuck, naturally.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Isadora, though she's fooling no one.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Robin of Loxley replaced by Robert of Huntingdon. Justified, since they're playing the two different traditional versions of the same folk hero.
  • Technical Pacifist: Robin is very bad at this, happily slaughtering Red Shirts who are only fighting him because they need to feed their families but refusing to kill anyone with a name.
    • Will Scarlett actually calls him on this.
  • Title Theme Tune: Almost: "Robin... Robin... The hooded man." Repeat. Endlessly.
  • Too Happy to Live: A non-fatal variation, though it's played straight in almost every other respect: Robin and Marion confess their love and prepare to marry, the outlaws and the villagers steal back the grain that was taken from them by the Sheriff, everyone is getting ready for the celebrations that night... and then on returning to Wickham they discover that all the women and children have been taken, the rescued grain has been burnt and the wedding has to be postponed and eventually cancelled when Marion is lead to believe that Robin has died.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Cromm Cruach.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: The Swords of Wayland.
  • Trust Password: In a sense. The new Robin is trying to muster the group again, but Will Scarlet says gloomily that they've lost the fire that they had with the old.

Robert of Huntingdon: No, Scarlet. Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.
(Scarlet looks thoroughly spooked)
Scarlet: What did you say?
Robert: You heard me.
Scarlet: No ... it wasn't you I heard.

  • Twang! "Hello."
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The serfs on more than one occasion.
    • Little John calls Robin this (half-jokingly) when the outlaws turn up at Baron de Belleme's castle in order to save him and are told: "I thought I told you to stay in Sherwood!"
  • The Unpronounceable: Nasir's full name. He can say it just fine, but it leaves the other outlaws dumbfounded.
  • The Un-Smile: The barber in the Sheriff's nightmare. Terrifying.
  • The Unsolved Mystery: Arthur of Brittany's real identity.
  • The Vamp: Lilith.
  • The Voiceless: Nasir in the first season, on account of the stuntman playing him having no acting experience whatsoever, but being added as a regular at the last minute. They gave him some acting classes between seasons, and his lines gradually accumulate.
  • Voodoo Doll: Lilith makes two (one of herself and one of Robin) in order to make a Love Potion.
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: Will Scarlet in a short, wet robe, climbing up a sheer rock face with no underwear. It perhaps wouldn't have been so bad if the camera hadn't been positioned low, pointing directly up.
  • We Can Rule Together: Adam Bell tries this on Robin, and is rejected. In the very next episode Arthur of Brittany tells Robin that he'll give him wealth and security, only for Queen Isabella to shoot him in the back midway through his speech.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: Happens to an extent the third season when Prince John appoints a new, even worse, Sheriff of Nottingham.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Marion plays one of these on the other outlaws after they get on her nerves. She jumps on Robin's back and begins to pummel him, only for the others to gather around and cheer her own. Robin throws her off and she fakes an injury, and when the others help her to her feet, all gentleness and concern, she begins to beat them with a switch.
  • Woman Scorned: Queen Hadwisa
  • What Kept You?: Marion says: "What took you so long?" when Robin arrives to save her from Prince John, though she says it as a joke rather than a complaint.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: See Technical Pacifist
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: Used often with the sword Albion.
  1. Though the 2011 film takes a similar approach in that it has two different noblemen Robert of Locksleys.