Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    A live action movie from 1988 produced by George Lucas and directed by Ron Howard about a young farmer named Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis), one of a hobbit-like people called Nelwyns, who is drawn away from his sheltered home to save Elora Danan, a baby girl with a destiny, from the evil Queen Bavmorda (Jean Marsh) who would see her destroyed.

    Willow is aided by the disillusioned master swordsman Madmartigan (Val Kilmer), who has turned to a life of roguery, sorceress Fin Raziel (Patricia Hayes), who has been turned into a possum by Bavmorda, as well as two diminutive brownies Franjean and Rool. They are initially thwarted, but later joined, by the queen's daughter Sorsha (Joanne Whalley). As their journey continues, they face troubles and hardships beyond what any of them had imagined. Through it all, they find love, friendship and wisdom. In the end, we learn that the people we would never suspect are sometimes the bravest of all.

    Notable for many reasons, including the use of dwarf actors as major characters, as well as one of the breakout films for Val Kilmer (who played the Jerk Jock, later Jerk with a Heart of Gold Madmartigan). Despite performing poorly at the box office, it quickly became quite a cult film, if the books were any indication. The current reception is that it is a fun, enjoyable story with some great casting and was very well made for its time and still holds up well today.

    This film has had three game adaptations: one in 1988 by Mindscape for the Amiga, Atari ST and DOS; two in 1989 by Capcom for the Arcade and NES. The Arcade one is a side-scrolling action game, while the NES game is more of an Action RPG.

    There is also a trilogy of sequel novels by George Lucas and Chris Claremont. They do provide a great deal of additional Character Development, as well as World Building that the movie lacked.

    A sequel TV series premiered on Disney+ in November 2022, but was cancelled after only eight episodes.

    Not to be confused with the Cute Witch from Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the daughter of Will Smith.

    Tropes used in Willow include:
    • Action Girl: Sorsha.
    • Adaptation Expansion: The NES game adds quite a bit to the story, as well as giving the title character a much greater focus since he's the only playable one.
    • Aerith and Bob: Madmartigan and Willow.
    • All There in the Manual: The novelisation added extensive back stories for half the cast, including Vonkar, and explains Sorsha's sudden Heel Face Turn.
    • All Trolls Are Different: Trolls are hairy, unintelligent ape-things approximately Willow's own size, who can cling to walls like Spider-Man.
    • Animate Inanimate Object: In the last battle, a stray bolt of magic turns an urn on legs into a moving creature that Willow briefly fights.
    • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: "I'm the greatest swordsman who ever lived!" He may well be too.
    • Attack! Attack! Retreat! Retreat!: Inverted. Madmartigan and Bavmorda's army run away from the two-headed dragon. Then Madmartigan realize he's with the the army. Then he runs back inside the castle where the dragon is, with the army chasing after him.
    • Badass: Madmartigan. Among his deeds we have him single-handedly hold off General Kael's entire army, killing a two-headed dragon by himself, and eventually killing fellow badass Kael in single combat.
    • Baleful Polymorph: Finn Raziel has fallen victim to this. She changes shape several times over the course of the film.
      • This is pulled on the good guys' entire army near the climax.
    • Berserk Button: Played for laughs when Llug discovers Madmartigan's true gender.

    Llug: Not a woman!
    Madmartigan: Gentlemen, meet Llug.

      • Llug then spends the entire barfight continuing his rant. Hilarious.
    • Big Damn Heroes: When Rool and Fanjean return with Airk and his army to even the odds.
    • Body Horror: We are treated to simply delightful shots of the army's hands morphing into pig hooves.
    • Bond Villain Stupidity: Justified. Elora is just a baby, and is born in captivity. They don't just kill her because she'll be reborn elsewhere. Instead, Bavmorda plans to use the Ritual of Obliteration to banish her soul from the world permanently.
    • Born-Again Immortality: Elora has this power.
    • Brick Joke: Willow's "disappearing pig" trick. The way he botches it at the beginning of the movie is funny at first, but at the climax, he uses it with Elora in place of the pig to fool Bavmorda, betting everything he has on it. Thankfully, he does it right that time.
    • Capulet Counterpart: Sorsha.
    • Character Title
    • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted in the magic acorns: although Willow tries to use them in several situations, and they work, he is unlucky and misses against everything but the Big Bad, who is powerful enough to shake off the effect.
    • Chekhov's Skill: The pig trick. Willow actually screws it up when he tries to perform it for his fellow Nelwyn at a festival, but later succeeds when it's a matter of life and death.
      • To be fair, he actually succeeds in the pig trick: it's the pig itself that gives the trick away.
    • The Chosen One: Elora Danan is prophesied to bring about Bavmorda's end. However, see the Prophecy Twist entry below.
    • Co-Dragons General Kael and Sorsha, although Sorsha has far more Character Depth and joins the heroes' side eventually.
    • Contemptible Cover: The DVD release doesn't use the well-made movie poster for its artwork, but rather a rushed clip job featuring Willow doing an extremely cheesy "Ta-da!" flourish.
    • Defrosting Ice Queen: Sorsha.
    • Disguised in Drag: Madmartigan, in a hasty attempt to avoid the wrath of his paramour's husband. The trope is furthered by the husband's sudden lust for Madmartigan.

    Llug: Wanna BREED?
    Madmartigan: Tempting, but... no.

    • Dissonant Laughter: When Finn Raziel gets the better of Bavmorda during their fight at the end, she gives a laugh that's downright creepy, suggesting that, even if she was a good person, maybe her motives here weren't so noble.
      • Even without the novel's added backstory of the bad blood between them (Bavmorda seduced Raziel's lover, among other things), what is explained in the movie is enough to give her a pass. Sometimes you can do things for noble reasons and still enjoy the vengeance it brings in the process.
    • Distracted by the Sexy: Madmartigan. In his defense, he was under the effects of a powerful love spell. And Sorsha was looking very hot at the time...
      • Later, the roles are reversed when Sorsha is very much taken by Madmartigan's battle prowess.
    • Door Step Baby: Elora Danan.
    • The Dreaded: Trolls are very bad news. When Willow and Madmartigan discover that the castle is ruined and abandoned, they start arguing, until the latter steps in troll dung, indicating trolls are nearby. They quickly stop arguing, realizing they're in danger.
    • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Sorsha and Madmartigan in the sequel novels.
    • Evil Matriarch/Evil Overlord: Bavmorda.
    • Expanded Universe: Three novels by Lucas and Chris Claremont.
    • Expy: A case can be made that all the characters are expys of ones from Lucas' previous Star Wars movies, but in a fantasy setting. Willow=Luke, Madmartigan=Han, Sorsha=Leia, General Kael=Darth Vader, Bavmorda=Emperor Palpatine and so on.
    • The Fair Folk: Cherlindrea and her fairies.
    • Fanfare
    • Fantastic Slurs:

    Willow: Don't call me a peck!
    Mad Martigan: Oh, I'm sorry. Peck. Peck. Peck, Peck, Peck, Peck, Peck!

    • Fiery Redhead: Sorsha.
    • Flynning: Notably averted in Madmatigan's first fight scene.
    • God Save Us From the Queen: Queen Bavmorda.
    • Heel Face Turn: Sorsha.
      • One of the queen's priests predicted that her daughter would betray her, but she wouldn't believe it.
      • Interestingly, both the novelization and Marvel Comics adaptation include a scene where Sorsha comes across her long lost father, who had been cursed by Bavmorda years ago. This causes enchanted blocks Bavmorda had placed on her daughter's memories to melt away, justifying her defection further beyond her experiences with Madmartigan.
    • Heroes Want Redheads: Madmartigan to Sorsha.
    • Heroic Sacrifice: Ethna, the midwife who saved Elora from certain execution after she was born and who eventually lost her life protecting the child. All this despite owing neither her mother nor the child any loyalty at all.
    • Hobbits: The Nelwyn are basically halflings with the serial numbers filed off, being a collection of homebodies who live in burrows and tend to be shorter than humans. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, mind you.
      • The novels, perhaps actually inspired by the look of the actors, actually describes them with traits more often used in association with fantasy dwarves than hobbits/halflings: stocky, broad and with impressive upper-body strength.
    • Hoist by His Own Petard: When Willow seems to ruin Bavmorda's plan by sending Elora away, she slams her fist down on the altar in rage, spilling the concoction she had meant for Elora, and is eradicated as a result.
    • Home, Sweet Home: Willow gains a hero's welcome when he returns to his village and runs straight into his loving family's arms.
    • Human Snowball: A rare live-action example.
    • Indy Ploy: Right at the climax, Bavmorda has Willow and Elora cornered. The only thing Willow can think of is to try and protect Elora using the same sleight-of-hand trick that he failed at in the beginning of the film. And it works.
    • Inept Mage: In a fashion, the High Aldwin. He admits to Willow that the bones he uses for prediction purposes are really useless, and he purely interprets them according to his own judgment. However, he does supply Willow with genuine magical artifacts.
    • Jerk Jock
    • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Madmartigan.
    • Large Ham: Bavmorda, so very much.
    • Lilliputians: Brownies.
    • Love Potion: Well, dust, actually, and the love itself is unrequited.
    • MacGuffin: Elora Danan. Definitely qualifies due to the Prophecy Twist.
    • MacGuffin Escort Mission: Willow spends a lot time taking the baby places. First, he takes Elora Danan to the Crossroads then to the Tir Asleen. With a few side trips to re-rescue her.
    • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Sorsha.
    • Magical Incantation: Most magic which doesn't make use of some kind of object is of this type, and Willow is usually channeling it through Chelindria's wand. Strangely, it includes various ritual chants in its own language as well as English.
    • Magicians Are Wizards: Invoking this trope is Willow's main goal throughout the movie, struggling to transition from performing stage magic to real magic. Then he subverts it by using his stage magic to trick real magician Bavmorda. This allows him to then play it completely straight as he becomes a true sorcerer in the ending.
    • Meaningful Name: A clever one. Madmartigan claims he serves "no one". Later, he says he serves "the Nelwyn", which is very similar to "no one".
    • Mistaken Age: We are told that Fin Raziel is a young beautiful woman after Madmartigan asks her what she actually looks like. However, it seems exile in her animal form has made her grasp of the years gone by tragically wrong.

    Fin Raziel: (shocked at her own age) Has it been so long?

      • Either that or, because she was in an animal form, she may have aged like an animal.
        • They should have picked up on it instantly: Bavmorda and Fin Raziel were contemporaries.
    • Moses in the Bulrushes: Elora Danan very literal: she is sent down the river in a basket and found in the rushes.
    • Mr. Fanservice: Madmartigan. He runs around with his shirt open.
    • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Willow tries to fight off a troll using the magic wand, he accidentally turns it into a gigantic, two-headed dragon.
    • Not Using the Z Word: In an interesting twist, this is used on the humans, who are called Daikini.
    • Our Dragons Are Different: The Ebersisk has two heads which look like demonic Brachiosaurus. We also never see its lower body.
    • Our Fairies Are Different
    • Our Monsters Are Different
    • Papa Wolf: Willow is very protective of his children even Elora Danan.
    • Prophecy Twist: Elora Danan is prophesied to bring about Bavmorda's end; most believe this means she is a prophesized savior who will defeat the villain as an adult. However, her defeat comes by the hands of those protecting the infant princess: Elora Danan is the catalyst who brings about Bavmorda's end, not herself the agent of it. And, of course, it also never would have happened if Bavmorda hadn't been trying to kill Elora because of the prophecy in the first place.
    • The Quest
    • Rage Helm: General Kael's skull-faced helmet.
    • Rasputinian Death: General Kael. Madmartigan smashes his skull-mask, and Kael chases Madmartigan up a flight of stairs. Madmartigan stabs him in the chest; Kael responds by punching Madmartigan in the face and trying to strangle him. Madmartigan slashes Kael's belly, then twists the blade still in his chest. Kael does not appear to notice. Madmartigan impales him on his own sword. Kael is still on his feet when Madmartigan finally shoves him off the walkway.
    • Road Apples: Well, troll apples. Madmartigan steps in some troll poop.
    • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
    • Sexual Karma: Madmartigan Paper-Thin Disguises himself as a woman to dodge an angry husband, only to catch the hulking oaf's eye (which is pretty darn chauvinist of him, considering he barged into the room in a jealous rage). Hilarity Ensues.

    Lug: Wanna breed?
    Madmartigan: Tempting, but... no.


    Sorsha: You're no woman! (tears off Madmartigan's Paper-Thin Disguise wig)
    Lug: Not a woman!
    Madmartigan: Gentlemen... (smirks)
    Lug: NOT A WOMAN!
    Madmartigan: Meet Lug! (ducks)

    • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: General Kael’s helmet.
    • Spell My Name with an "S": One could be forgiven if, when you were young, you thought his name was Martigan and everyone was just really conscientious of using his nickname.
      • Airk's name is basically pronounced as "Eric", or close enough to mistake for it.
    • Supporting Leader: Madmartigan.
    • Taken for Granite: Willow's magic acorns can turn whoever touches them to stone. Also, Willow and Madmartigan are instructed by Fin Raziel to take Elora Danan to Tir Asleen to be cared for. Unfortunately, Bavmorda got there first, and encased all the residents in translucent crystal long ago.
    • Take That: George Lucas named General Kael after Pauline Kael, the New Yorker film critic who famously gave Star Wars a bad review.
      • The two-headed dragon goes unnamed in the film, but is referred to as the "Eborsisk", after film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
    • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Not content with simply killing baby Elora to ensure she cannot bring about her end, Bavmorda intends to banish her very soul into oblivion in the process. Apparently just in case her soul is reborn in a new body.
      • After Madmartigan runs Kael through with Airk's sword-glove, he props up Kael's own sword by his foot on the hilt, and skewers him again with it!
        • Although, considering how tough Kael is, this may not be overkill.
    • Ultimate Evil: Bavmorda seems to follow orders from an unknown entity.
      • Bavmorda and Raziel were both servants of the spirits, Bavmorda just let her power go to her head.
    • The Unfettered: Villainous General Kael is utterly unfazed in the face of not only facing an arriving enemy army, but a monstrous two headed dragon. They are simply obstacles to destroy.

    General Kael: Destroy the beast! Find the baby!

    • Unholy Nuke: Bavmorda wants to use a ritual whose end is to wipe the victim away from existence.
    • Unstoppable Rage: Madmartigan after Airk is killed by Kael.
    • "Well Done, Daughter" Girl: Sorsha often seems desperate to impress her mother, who constantly insults and berates her.
    • What the Hell, Hero?: Madmartigan calls this on Airk after the latter greets him eagerly when they find him in a tough situation, after Airk rather smirkingly left Madmartigan to die horribly in a cage.
    • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Before his adventure begins Willow expresses a deep fear of trolls. Lo and behold he ends up in a fortress crawling with them.
    • Wizard Duel: Between Fin Raziel and Bavmorda. Willow very briefly tries, but Bavmorda obviously is too powerful to combat. So he thinks outside the box and hides Elora under the guise of a magic teleportation spell.
    • X Meets Y: The Fellowship of the Ring meets The Book of Three.
    • You Can't Fight Fate:
      • Naturally, Bavmorda is trying to kill Elona in order to prevent a prophecy, her actions turning it into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
      • Bavmorda's court magician warns her that Sorsha will betray them. She does not believe him, claiming she trusts her more than she does him. Turns out, he's right.