Like many other fans of the BBC fantasy series Merlin I was severely disappointed in its ending. For five years we had been told that Arthur Pendragon is destined to unite the warring kingdoms of Albion and bring magic back to the realm.
Unfortunately however this never happened! Arthur if anything looked like a rather inept king. He did bugger all in his five years as the ruler of Camelot.
Many fans argued that Arthur dying before he brought magic back made the whole series itself redundant.
Other fans meanwhile developed their own theories to explain why Arthur died in spite of what the Great Dragon kept telling us. A favorite of mine is the Kilgharrah conspiracy here.
I meanwhile have developed my own theory as to why Arthur and Merlin’s supposed destiny never happened.
I think that the reason Arthur never became a great king was simply because Merlin fucked up.
Throughout the series Arthur and Merlin’s destiny are if you will pardon the pun, not set in stone. It’s presented as a possible future that might happen, but it could just as easily not.
The Dragon says that there is a prophecy that Arthur will unite the lands of Albion and bring magic back, but lets not forget he also warns Merlin that there are a number of threats that could prevent this from happening. Even just simple monsters like the Questing Beast that poisons Arthur are powerful enough to prevent this great destiny from happening.
It is never presented as a case of no matter what happens Arthur and Merlin are destined to bring about this great kingdom. It’s more a case of if Merlin does things correctly then that future will unfold.
This is further backed up by the fact that we see many other futures change in Merlin. For instance Gwen being crowned Queen does not unfold the way Morgana had foreseen it, nor does Morgana’s death at Merlin’s hand.
Merlin and Arthurs destinies were not a foregone conclusion either. They were simply one of many possible futures that the Dragon had foreseen in some way using magic.
A lot of fans have blamed Kilgharrah and even Arthur himself for the bleak ending, but to me the blame for Arthur’s death and Camelot’s fall rests solely on the shoulders of a young man. His name. Merlin!
In this article I am going to go through the ways in which Merlin fails to save Arthur and Camelot and fails to bring about the future Kilgarrah had foreseen, entirely through his own mistakes.
Lets get started shall we.
In the season 1 episode “The Beginning of the End” Merlin meets a young druid boy named Mordred. The Great Dragon warns Merlin against saving this boy, as if he does then the boy will kill Arthur when he grows up. Once again neither Arthur’s destiny as a great king, or his death at Mordred’s hand are absolutely going to happen. The Dragon makes it very clear that there are two possible futures that could unfold here.
Now in all fairness to Merlin this is the least of his mistakes. Mordred was just an innocent child at the time. It would take a cold hearted bastard to let a pleading child be executed.
Still you can see what I mean about how this episode alone shows us that Arthur’s destiny is not a something that is definite. It can easily be changed and the Dragon even tells Merlin that if he allows the child to live, then he cannot fulfil his destiny, and hey this is what happened exactly in the finale.
Still I wouldn’t put the blame of what happens entirely in the finale on Merlin’s actions in this episode. Like I said this a very understandable mistake, however I think Merlin does make it worse by hesitating to save Mordred. Mordred clearly knows that Merlin hesitated to save him. The look Mordred gives Merlin when he says that he was delayed says it all.
Whilst this isn’t the sole reason Merlin does not fulfil his destiny it certainly does mark the beginning of the end.
Saving Uther Pendragon Twice
There are two moments when Merlin should have let Uther die to bring about the future the Dragon had foreseen.
The first is in “To Kill the King” in series 1. Here Morgana has finally decided to dispose of Uther and Merlin hearing of her plan talks to the Dragon. Once again the Dragon gives the young wizard advice that could have avoided the future we see in series 5. “FREE THIS LAND FROM TYRANNY MERLIN! FREE US ALL!”
Merlin however decided to save Uther instead. Gaius tells him that Arthur’s time is not ready and Gwen says that it would be wrong to stoop to Uther’s level and allow him to die.
Thing is Merlin should have listened to The Dragon. If he had allowed Uther to die then the following things would have happened.
Arthur would have become king. Gaius may have thought he wasn’t ready, but the Dragon thought Arthur was. Why believe Gaius’s word over the Dragons? Remember that not only can Gaius not see the future, but Gaius is a friend of Uther’s, or closest thing he has to a friend. Gaius even thinks Uther has done a lot of good for the people which is clearly not true. He may have protected them years ago from evil sorcerers, but he has since drowned and burned innocent men, women and children! Gaius however doesn’t see it that way, because Uther is his friend and he has some misplaced loyalty to the king.
Uther dying at that point would have allowed Arthur to become king. Now Arthur at that point was already shown to be a lot more open minded to the use of magic. Okay yes he held some of his fathers prejudices, having been raised by him, but clearly he is a much more open minded person naturally than many other people in Camelot. The fact that he went out of his way to save Mordred alone proves this.
Arthur most likely would have continued some of his fathers laws for a short while, but not to the same extent. He most likely would have continued arresting sorcerers, but he would not have continued persecuting them to the same extent that Uther did, IE having them burned at the stake. On top of that he would have had Morgana convincing him not to treat those with Magic so cruelly. Morgana frequently tried to do this to Uther in series 1, but it was of course pointless.
Its extremely doubtful that Morgana, Gwen and Merlin all would not have been able to influence Arthur in a positive way regarding Magic Users. Can you really imagine Arthur who already tried to make Uther see reason, refusing to listen to his family and friends and go ahead and murder innocent men, women and children?
Eventually Arthur would have come into contact with Morgause, whowould have shown him the truth about Uther’s role in his mothers death. This would have convinced Arthur once and for all that magic was not a force for evil.
Arthur most likely would purged all memory from his father in shame after this revelation. (Remember when he found out he tried to actually kill Uther. Imagine what he would have thought had he found it out after his death.) Arthur would have made sure that Magic users were treated with the utmost respect to make up for his fathers past misdeeds and hypocrisy.
Following this Morgana would have been able to discover her magic powers, but would have been able to do so in the open and would not have become bitter and hateful. Morgana may have felt some guilt over Uther’s death for a while, but ultimately as Uther was a tyrant and his death allowed the fair and just Arthur to emerge. She most likely would have realized it was for the greater good.
Sadly Merlin stopped this from happening by helping to save Uther Pendragon’s life. Though in all fairness its not entirely his fault. Morgana relented and decided not to kill Uther. Still Merlin did play a hand in it by delaying the assassin and giving Morgana enough time to save Uther’s life.
The great kingdom Arthur was supposed to build would have happened by season 2 and Morgana would not have gone down the path of darkness, had Merlin listened to the Dragon. The Dragon’s advice in this instance was only wrong in that he should have told Merlin to make sure Uther died.
Merlin’s biggest blunder Re:Uther however comes in series 2 in the episode “The Sins of the Father”. In this episode Morgause tells Arthur the truth that Uther caused the death of Arthurs mother Iygraine through a deal with a sorcerer Nimueh.
Arthur is so enraged by this he tries to kill Uther. He declares Uther a hypocrite and a liar who has murdered innocent people simply to ease his own guilt over his wife’s death. Arthur would have killed Uther had it not been for Merlin lying about it and convincing him that it was the work of Morgause. Merlin only did this to stop Arthur from killing his father in a moment of rage and having the guilt of that plague him for the rest of his life.
Another understandable mistake, but still one that has a very negative effect on his and Arthur’s destiny, and ultimately the greater good of Camelot.
If Uther had died then and there Arthur most likely would have felt guilt over it, but again when he learned of the atrocities his father committed, including the murder of innocent children he probably would have seen sense and realised he had no choice.
He would have continued to look on Morgause as an ally, as she had revealed the truth to him. He would have definitely brought back magic to make up for his fathers mistakes. Magic users across Camelot and all of Albion would have looked on Arthur as their hero. He would have been the one who killed his father, the enemy of all magic and exposed his hypocrisy.
This coupled with his saving Mordred another powerful sorcerer would have made him very, very, very popular among magic users and sorcerers to say the least. Furthermore once again Morgana would then have revealed her magical abilities, Merlin his too which would have further cemented magic’s place in Camelot. It would have also only further have helped to undermine Uther Pendragon by revealing that he was unaware that there was magic in the heart of his kingdom.
The Dragon would most certainly have been freed too. Its doubtful the Dragon would have attacked Camelot had Uther already been dead. It only did so to get revenge on Uther Pendragon. With him dead it most likely would have been the guardian of Camelot.
Morgause also most likely would have become an ally of theirs too. Arthur certainly would have trusted her. It is unclear what Morgause’s true nature was. Was she pure evil, or was she just simply wanting to free the land from Uther? Its possible she may have still tried to take the throne from Arthur, but doing so would have been no easy task for her.
She would not have been able to manipulate Morgana as she only did so because Morgana felt scared and alone, being magical in Uther’s kingdom. With magic no longer banned and Arthur as king then this would no longer have been a problem. Also though Morgause is a powerful sorcerer, she would not have been a match for the combined might of Arthur wielding Excalibur, Merlin whose magic would be out in the open, Morgana who would most likely side with Arthur and the Great Dragon! Added to that there would be plenty of other sorcerers in Arthur’s kingdom that would support him too.
Morgause didn’t seem to want to rule by herself anyway. She was happy for Morgana to rule in series 3 and there she would most likely be happy to be a prominent member of Arthur’s court which she most certainly would be in his new kingdom.
Arthur may have even been able to form an alliance with King Cenred. Cenred was at war with Camelot because of his hatred of Uther. Chances of an alliance with Cenred would have been stronger with an Arthur, who had not only killed Uther, but had exposed him as a hypocrite to the kingdom he had ruled over. (Arthur would have obviously revealed why he had killed him) and had destroyed his legacy, by bringing magic back to the realm.
Added to this Cenred had close ties to Morgause and therefore through her, could become an ally of Camelot. Finally Cenred who was a coward and unlike Uther hated losing any men, would never launch an attack on Camelot. The Dragon alone could have destroyed Cenrid’s kingdom.
Also with the power that Camelot would yield its doubtful anyone would wish to challenge it. Within a few years, probably by the time of season 5, all of the kingdoms would have been united.
Arthur therefore would have fulfilled his destiny, as would Merlin and neither Morgana nor Mordred would be in a position to threaten them, nor would either of them want to anyway.
By sparing Uther, Merlin not only delayed his destiny from coming true, but put in in danger.
As a result of lying to Arthur about Morgause (who did not deceive Arthur at all) Merlin convinced Arthur that magic was evil.
Prior to this Arthur as I already mentioned had been very open minded about magic. He spared Mordred. He also showed respect to the unicorn and was actually delighted when it returned from the dead. He even bowed to the sorcerer involved with the Unicorns wishes to save the kingdom and went through with the tests. Can you imagine Uther doing that? Even if it was to save Camelot from starvation, Uther would be too proud to go through a sorcerers test. Arthur also argued that even if Gwen’s father had been using magic then he did not deserve to be persecuted as long as he had not used it to harm anyone. It was obvious that the Arthur from seasons 1 and 2 did not hate magic like his father and in time could have easily been swayed to view it as a force for good in some instances.
Ironically it was Merlin who convinced him that Magic was evil.
Also as Uther was still alive, he would continue to persecute Magic users which in turn led to Morgana feeling more paranoid and ultimately led to her siding with Morgause, becoming a powerful enemy to Camelot in the process.
By lying to Arthur about Uther. Merlin created an Arthur who hated magic as much as his father.
Driving Morgana Insane
It’s one thing to spare a tyrant who persecutes your kind, but to drive your friend down the path of villainy is another.
Every step of the way Merlin made the wrong choice in how to deal with Morgana.
In the season 2 episode “The Nightmare Begins” Morgana suspects that she has magic. Merlin is told by Kilgarrah that the best course of action is to not let her discover her powers
If Merlin had followed Kilgharrah’s actions then it could have bought him more time. As soon as Morgana found out she was magic it turned her against Uther. Things had always been tense between them, but after Morgana found out she had magic then she became scared at what would happen if he found out. She felt she could not confide in anyone, even Arthur out of fear of being found out. It was this that ultimately led to her siding with Morgause who was later able to twist her mind into becoming totally ruthless and willing to murder even her own brother Arthur.
If Merlin had not told her about her powers and allowed Gaius to make her think that they were merely hallucinations. It may have prevented her from feeling so paranoid until Morgause showed Arthur what really happened. Then obviously if Merlin had reacted accordingly, and allowed Arthur to kill Uther, it would not have mattered afterwards. Morgana could have explored the full extent of her powers and would not have posed a threat to either Arthur or Merlin.
Having said that though Morgana may have still felt paranoid anyway as she still would have suffered from her dreams. Personally I think it would have been better if Merlin had told her about his secret. That way she would have come to see him as a loyal ally and friend and could have confided in him. He maybe could have even told her a piece of the prophecy that Arthur would one day restore magic to Camelot. Hell she may have even become an ally of his, and helped him protect Arthur.
Morgana certainly would not have turned Merlin over to Uther at that point. She was his friend and had already shown sympathy to magic users before anyway.
Personally I think that was the best option for Merlin and to be fair to him he wanted to do that, but once again it was Gaius (and this time the Dragon) who advised him against it.
Instead Merlin picked the worst option. He took Morgana to meet the Druids who told her exactly what she was and became allies for her outside of Camelot.
In the penultimate episode of series 2 however “The Fires of Idirsholas” Merlin makes the biggest blunder of his career. Morgause, (who had it not been for Merlin lying to Arthur about her would have become their ally by now.) Casts a spell that makes everyone in Camelot fall asleep.
Morgause does this so that she can sneak in and kill Uther and Arthur. Again she only wishes to kill Arthur because of Merlin who has successfully turned Arthur against magic. The source of the spell is Morgana and the only way to break it is to kill Morgana. The Dragon tells him that he must kill her. He says that if he does not then Morgause will kill Arthur and the future Merlin and Arthur are destined to create will die with him. Once again this shows that Arthur and Merlin’s future can be changed and is not set.
Now Merlin has three options and once again he picks the worst one.
He can follow the Dragons advice and kill Morgana and then Morgause. Disposing of both of them obviously eliminates the threat they pose to Arthur and Merlin. Once again however this is a pretty ruthless thing to do. The Dragon does always to be fair give Merlin the most ruthless and callous suggestion. Let the young boy be hanged, poison your best friend, let Uther die etc. Still that doesn’t mean he isn’t 100 percent right every single time. If Merlin had done all of those things, none of the threats that destroy Arthur and his kingdom would have existed.
Still Merlin did not need to kill Morgana. I think he could have approached her and told her he knew what she was doing and convinced her to try and reason with Morgause. After all Morgana did still love Arthur very much at that point, and if she pleaded with Morgause, who loved her, its doubtful that Morgause would have killed Arthur.
Uther most likely would have still met his end at Morgause’s hand. Not that that is a bad thing mind you, to dispose of the mad tyrant. Again all that would happen is that Arthur would become king. Though it might be more difficult thanks to Merlin’s actions to convince him that magic was a force for good. With Morgana’s help in time, I am sure he would come around.
Merlin could have even suggested to Morgana that she drink the poison so as to throw Morgause off, and assured her that he had the antidote. Morgana may have been willing to do this in order to save Arthur. Also Merlin could have turned Morgana against Morgause by telling her that Morgause had made her the source of her spell, which Morgana did not know about.
Once again however Merlin did the stupidest thing imaginable. He poisoned Morgana destroying the last bit of good in her and convincing her that Camelot could never be a place where she would be accepted. Yet he did not kill her. He gave her the antidote. If he was going to actually poison her, then he should have gone through with it. Poisoning her and then sparing her life, did nothing but piss her off and make her go mad. Worse still he allowed Morgause to run off with her. In the time they were together Morgause proceeded to corrupt Morgana, who lets face it already had enough reason to go mad. Living in constant fear of Uther, being betrayed by her best friend etc.
Thanks to his foolish actions both Morgause and Morgana became Arthur’s enemies when they could have instead become very powerful allies of his, or both disposed of.
Morgana’s role as a villain not only posed a threat to Arthur’s destiny because of her power, but also because she used sorcery for evil means. This only further convinced Arthur that magic was a force for darkness and could not be allowed in Camelot.
Merlin would later give up another golden opportunity to kill Morgana in season 3 in the episode “The Crystal Cave”. Here Merlin causes her to suffer a fatal accident and the Dragon tells Merlin that all of the suffering she will cause can now be averted. Not wanting to have her blood on his hands, Merlin forces the Dragon to heal Morgana. The Dragon even tells Merlin that all the evil that will happen from now on is entirely down to him. If Merlin had listened to the Dragon once again, he would have eliminated a powerful threat, but he instead kept her alive.
Trying to Save Uther Again
When Uther is mortally wounded Merlin tries to save him with magic by using a spell that will heal him. He hopes that this will convince Arthur that not all magic is evil. Unfortunately it backfires considerably on him when Morgana cast another spell which reverses the effects and kills Uther.
This hardens Arthurs heart to magic once and for all and causes him to persecute it just like Uther did.
Had Merlin not used magic to heal Uther, Uther would have died and Arthur may have come to the conclusion that Magic was not evil somewhere down the line by himself.
Thanks to Merlin’s actions by the time Arthur takes over, he is a far cry from the man Kilgarrah saw in his vision of the future. He has been utterly convinced that Magic is evil. By this point he should have been convinced otherwise.
Trying to kill Mordred
The final killing blow to his and Arthur’s destiny is dealt by Merlin in the season 5 episode The Dsir. Here Merlin is told by The Dsir that he has one chance to avert the bad version of the future that Kilgarrah had foreseen many years ago if he embraces magic.
This is clearly the last chance Arthur has to fulfil this part of his destiny. Once again however its because of Merlin that he doesn’t get to do it.
Merlin had been told earlier that he must kill Mordred in order to save Arthur. This is why he later told Arthur that magic has no place in Camelot. Arthur pleaded with The Dsir to save Mordred whom they wounded. They agreed only if he brought magic back to Camelot. For this reason Merlin convinced Arthur not to agree to their demands and not to bring magic back. Ironically this did the very opposite of what he had hoped for, as The Dsir brought Mordred back to life.
This was a test on The Dsir’s part and Merlin failed. They were giving him one last chance to fulfil his destiny. He failed ironically because this time in contrast to his mistake with Mordred in the past, he was too ruthless. He tried to murder an innocent man whose only crime was to try and protect his king with his life.
Had he told Arthur that magic has a place in Camelot then Arthur would have agreed with him. Even after all the ways Merlin turned Arthur against Magic, Arthur was still willing to accept it into Camelot, but Merlin finally convinced him not to.
Merlin sealed Arthur’s fate. Not only does the man who was destined to kill him get brought back, but Arthur continues to persecute magic which in turn leads to Mordred turning against him. The woman Mordred is in love with whom Arthur later kills, only attacks Arthur because he continues to outlaw magic just like Uther Pendragon did. If Arthur had accepted magic into Camelot during the time of The Dsir, this would not have happened. Even if the Dsir had brought back Mordred then he would have had no reason to turn on Arthur and return to Morgana, if magic had returned.
Many have blamed the Dragon for this but I don’t think you can completely. The Dragon certainly should have given Merlin better advice than “just kill everyone near to you from Morgana, Mordred, Uther etc.” (It’s not hard to see why some people paint the Dragon as a villain.)
Still Merlin had plenty of opportunities to do so without telling Arthur magic had no place in Camelot. He could have pushed Mordred down the stairs with his magic. He could have lead him out into a field and had the dragon burn him to death.
He chose the worst possible opportunity to do so and doomed Camelot instead.
Merlin further sealed Arthur’s fate by betraying Mordred and not allowing him to flee with the woman he loves either, and therefore gives him a reason to hate Arthur and the knights of Camelot.
Thanks to Merlin’s bad judgement, his compassion and his ruthlessness, he prevented Arthur from fulfilling his destiny as much as the poison of any Questing Beast.
Whilst its true that he did save Arthur’s life and Arthur would never have made it to throne without him. Ultimately his mistakes prevented the Great Dragon’s prophecy from coming to pass.
Had Merlin done things a little better Arthur would have fulfilled the destiny the Great Dragon talked about. He would have united the lands of Albion, he would have restored magic to Camelot. he would have created a perfect society that would have flourished to this day. Merlin’s bungling however stopped that in the following ways.
1/ Sparing Mordred: He should have followed the Great Dragon’s advice and killed him, or at the very least not made Mordred suspicious of him.
2/ Saving Uther twice: Both times would have lead to Arthur’s reign beginning much earlier and would have allowed Arthur to learn the truth about his fathers war against magic and how unjust it was. Arthur would have also come to power before Morgana discovered her true abilities, and when Mordred was a child. Neither one of them would have become villains under these circumstances. Mordred would have grown up in a society where his kind was accepted, and would have looked on Arthur as his hero who slew the evil tyrant Uther and saved his life, whilst Morgana would have been able to discover her magic powers and not felt like an outsider because of them.
Merlin stopped this from happening by ignoring the Dragon’s advice that Uther’s time had come to its end. As a result Arthur didn’t ascend when he was supposed to and Morgana was twisted by Uther’s persecution of magic and Arthur thanks to Merlin’s efforts grew to despise Magic, when he was on the cusp of supporting it.
3/ Fucking up Big Time with Morgana: Merlin drove Morgana down the path of villainy. He helped her discover her powers and make allies among the Druids, he poisoned her but did not kill her, allowed her to go away with Morgause and then later when she had become a vastly powerful and dangerous sorceress, he gave up another golden opportunity to finish her, ignoring the Dragon’s warning.
4/ He turned Arthur against magic for good, by killing his father with it, which only happened because of Morgana whom he had turned evil.
5/ He wrecked Arthurs last chance by turning him against magic: The Dsir warned Arthur that he would not get another chance if he did not bring magic back and sadly thanks to Merlin’s influence, he didn’t and perished as a direct result of his persecution of magic at Mordred’s hand.
Was This What The Writers Had Intended?
A part of me wonders if this was what the actual writers of the show had intended. This is certainly how I interpreted the show, but of course what one fan thinks means nothing. Still when you watch it back it does appear that the writers wanted us to think that Merlin was making decisions that would doom his future. In “The Beginning of the End” the Dragon explicitly tells us that Merlin will not fulfil his destiny if Mordred is spared. Furthermore the Dsir warn him that he will not get another chance if he does not return magic. The fact these are both crucial to Arthur’s eventual death leads me to believe that this was what the writers had in mind the whole time.
In this respect the ending of the show makes more sense to me now. Its still not perfect mind you. I like the idea of prophecy’s only giving you a possible future, and it still being possible to change. However I think they should have had Arthur bring magic back after season 4, but still had Merlin and Arthur’s actions ultimately bring about the end of the kingdom.
The fact that we never saw Arthur do anything noteworthy is too bleak and disappointing.
Still perhaps this is also why it is stated that Arthur will rise again. Maybe this will be Merlin’s second chance to do things better this time. His redemption for his past mistakes.
The only problem with this entire theory though is that in the finale the Dragon states that Arthur has already built what he was destined to achieve. This suggests to me that the writers maybe just forgot what it was he was destined to achieve.
Still I’d like to think that this is what they had in mind that actually Merlin ultimately failed to fulfil his destiny, but perhaps he will learn from his mistakes and he and Arthur will make a better fist of it next time.
merlin is a great movie
i totaly differ with that…it would bring nothin but humiliation to its fanatics. something should be done to effect its continuation
I completely agree with everything you said about the unfolding events being Merlin’s fault. You hit every point and expounded on them in th same exact interpretation I had. What I don’t agree with, is that it is even remotely a fitting ending for the show. I understand that the show got cancelled, so there is no way to further the plot, but I feel like Merlin ultimately failed his destiny and let the King down. The last season was the worst. Knowing what we k kw about Arthur ans Merlin in legend, and about the prophecy touted in the show, it stands in stark contrast to the actual development of the resolution. The turning point for me, even though I was already frustrated at that point, was when Merlin told him magic had no place in Camelot. It was literally the perfect place for him to tell him it was possible. Which could have stopped the rest of the event from unfolding. Merlin would never have made that decision, ans it frustrated me that they wrote it that way because it felt utterly out of character. I think what we had seen of Merlin up to that point, would have led to him realizing this task was Arthur’s test and could can get the dude for good. He had been there for magical tests with Arthur before, and he also is seen doubting himself in regards to Mordred’s character, since he so clearly sacrificed himself for the King. He also knows that sometimes there are roundabout ways to interpret the dragons advice. Merlin’s character is one that beli VA above all, that Arthur will being magic back to Camelot. He bek vests so fever try in that destiny that he has taken the chance to Kay down his own lie countless times, ans had chosen to believe in the good. So this departure, him telling Arthur that there is no place for magic in Camelot, felt completely off. It ruined my immersion in the story. It was the very last turning point, and he failed. From that moment on, Arthur had no chance. So the end of the show ultimately frustrates me, because it does not make Merlin and Arthur fated heroes, rather failures. It does not see Arthur’s destiny through, does not leave room for our imaginations about much. It feels unresolved, like a failure of character writing. There was no “A-ha!” moment where Merlin realized, if Arthur and Mordred’s destinies were so intertwined as was foretold, then perhaps Mordred would be an ally to Arthur’s destiny under the right circumstances instead of an enemy. I just feel really disbelieving that he’d never come to that conclusion. So yeah, I’m not really satisfied. I don’t like that the “greatest sorcerer in history” would fail so horribly so many times with no real redemption to the climax of the story.
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I’m sorry for the typos, I’m on mobile. Let’s try that again.
I completely agree with everything you said about the unfolding events being Merlin’s fault. You hit every point and expounded on them in the same exact interpretation I had. What I don’t agree with, is that it is even remotely a fitting ending for the show. I understand that the show got cancelled, so there is no way to further the plot, but I feel like Merlin ultimately failed his destiny and let the King down. The last season was the worst. Knowing what we know about Arthur and Merlin in legend, and about the prophecy touted in the show, it stands in stark contrast to the actual development of the resolution. The turning point for me, even though I was already frustrated at that point, was when Merlin told him magic had no place in Camelot. It was literally the perfect place for him to tell him it was possible. Which could have stopped the rest of the events from unfolding. Merlin would never have made that decision, ans it frustrated me that they wrote it that way because it felt utterly out of character. I think what we had seen of Merlin up to that point, would have led to him realizing this task was Arthur’s test and could help him turn it for good. He had been there for magical tests with Arthur before, and he also is seen doubting himself in regards to Mordred’s character, since Mordred so clearly sacrificed himself for the King. He also knows that sometimes there are roundabout ways to interpret the dragons advice, ans it was made very clear that the was Arthur’s LAST CHANCE to do the right thing before he sealed his own destiny. Merlin’s character is one that believed above all, that Arthur will bring magic back to Camelot. He bek vests so feveI completely agree with everything you said about the unfolding events being Merlin’s fault. You hit every point and expounded on them in th same exact interpretation I had. What I don’t agree with, is that it is even remotely a fitting ending for the show. I understand that the show got cancelled, so there is no way to further the plot, but I feel like Merlin ultimately failed his destiny and let the King down. The last season was the worst. Knowing what we k kw about Arthur ans Merlin in legend, and about the prophecy touted in the show, it stands in stark contrast to the actual development of the resolution. The turning point for me, even though I was already frustrated at that point, was when Merlin told him magic had no place in Camelot. It was literally the perfect place for him to tell him it was possible. Which could have stopped the rest of the event from unfolding. Merlin would never have made that decision, ans it frustrated me that they wrote it that way because it felt utterly out of character. I think what we had seen of Merlin up to that point, would have led to him realizing this task was Arthur’s test and could can get the dude for good. He had been there for magical tests with Arthur before, and he also is seen doubting himself in regards to Mordred’s character, since he so clearly sacrificed himself for the King. He also knows that sometimes there are roundabout ways to interpret the dragons advice. Merlin’s character is one that believes above all, that Arthur will being magic back to Camelot. He believes so fervently in that destiny that he has taken the chance to lay down his own life countless times, and had chosen to believe in the good. I think k his the character as written thus far would have heeded that warning very seriously about Arthur accepting magic. So this departure, him telling Arthur that there is no place for magic in Camelot, felt completely off. It ruined my immersion in the story. It was the very last turning point, and he failed. From that moment on, Arthur had no chance. So the end of the show ultimately frustrates me, because it does not make Merlin and Arthur fated heroes, rather failures. It does not see Arthur’s destiny through, does not leave room for our imaginations about much. It feels unresolved, like a failure of character writing. There was no “A-ha!” moment where Merlin realized, if Arthur and Mordred’s destinies were so intertwined as was foretold, then perhaps Mordred would be an ally to Arthur’s destiny under the right circumstances instead of an enemy. I just feel really disbelieving that he’d never come to that conclusion. So yeah, I’m not really satisfied. I don’t like that the “greatest sorcerer in history” would fail so horribly so many times with no real redemption to the climax of the story.
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Hi thanks for the comment.
I understand being pissed at the ending. TBH when I wrote this I was just trying to look at it from a different point of view, but I admit the ending does still bug me too.
Not to sound like a conceited fanboy who thinks he can do better than the guys who produced this wonderful series, but I would have had Arthur find out about Merlin’s magic at the end of series 4. I would have had Merlin summon Kilgharrah to help dethrone Morgana. Imagine that Arthur seeing a Dragon swoop in to save him.
Series 5 would then see the golden age with magic being brought back and Merlin now Arthurs court sorcerer and expert on the occult. I would have had Gaius die in the last episode of series 4. Its not that I dislike Richard Wilson but Gaius really had outlived his usefulness in the series at that point and I think he got in the way of Merlin learning about these creatures himself and also from the Dragon being his mentor. Lets be honest Kilgharrah was a much more interesting character than Gaius.
In series 5 I would have also had Morgana redeem herself. I would have had Aithusa bring out her compassionate side more and her feel that she had misjudged Arthur after he brought magic back. Mordred meanwhile I would have had be the main villain. When you look at Mordred in series 1 and 2 he does not seem like the same character as the one in series 5. The one in series 1 and 2 is clearly being set up as the ultimate villain. He has powers beyond comprehension even as a child, doesn’t fall for Merlin’s lies, is clearly in control even though he is a child and tells Merlin he will never forget his betrayal.
The later Mordred is a completely decent guy, has minimal magic powers, is clueless as to why Merlin hates him (so much for the I’ll never forget) and isn’t even remotely treacherous until Arthur kills his beloved!
I would have had him be the truly evil villain who had established an extremist group of magical creatures who would have wanted to destroy all non magic’s.
At the end Morgana who would be torn between Mordred and Arthur would redeem herself and help Arthur and I would have had Kilgharrah take responsibility for his role in turning Morgana evil and apologize to her after she saves Merlin. Arthur would still have died but it would have been after he brought magic back and defeated Mordred and I would have had Morgana go with him to Avalon to protect him. They could have still had the once and the future king prophecy with Arthur and Morgana returning in the future along with Merlin to help him with another threat.
However whilst I would have liked that ending ultimately that was not what happened and to me at least this theory is the only way of making sense of what actually happened.
Well this and the Kilgharrah conspiracy which is awesome but I think this is more likely as if they had intended Kilgharrah to be the villain then they would have dropped more hints.
OH MY GOSH, I like your version so much better! This makes a lot of sense! I agree that Merlin screwed up a bunch of times in the series. He didn’t take destiny seriously enough or took it too seriously, both dangerous. I think Kilgharrah was a very black and white character and Merlin took his advice into the gray area which doesn’t lead to positive outcomes. I really thought that Morgana would redeem herself because her hatred for Arthur is never completely justified (in fact, I think she missed Arthur and Gwen because in season 5 when she enchants Gwen, she actually seems happier) and all she wanted was acceptance. I also think one small thing that could have happened in season 5 episode 10 was Modred seeing Kara’s second trial, where Arthur is truly trying to let her go and she insists on being difficult (which is also justified to an extent) and of course if Merlin has just let them go, things might have been different.
Maybe I won’t have Morgana come back with Arthur but I loved the rest. I really wish you’d somehow written season 5. And you’re right about Gaius, as much as I love him, his advice in season 5, not so great.
Okay, I’m writing this four years after your comment, but I really want to put in my two cents. I completely agree with you, really like the idea of Morgana redeeming herself and becoming an ally to Arthur. I had not really thought about it much, but yeah, Gaius did kind of interefere with all the Dragon’s advice.
One of my favorite scenes in the whole show is in the last episode of season three. There was Arthur, with his knights and his queen, he really had everything to be a proper king (better than Uther had ever been) one thing missing though. I kept waiting for Merlin to become more than just a servant to Arthur, sure Arthur cared a lot for him, but imagine how it would have been if, as you said, Merlin revealed his powers earlier on and Arthur came to accept them as a powerful weapon. Merlin could have been Arthur’s advisor, like in the legend.
It really is sad that the ending wasn’t good, because the rest of the show was awesome. I like your version a lot better. I really wish we could have seen Arthur make something out of his kingdom, we see some changes he makes, with his knights, and with his queen and he’s also way more compassionate than Uther ever was, but the entire series revolves around magic and how it’s not allowed. Why is that the only change we never get?
i was a huge fan, but the end was catastrophicand ridiculous…very very dissapointed…it should be the better serie ever…
I just finished this series last night; and felt that the final two seasons were wonderful. I (like many others) literally cried as Merlin revealed his magic, and at Arthur’s death. But I am not sure I agree that the destinies were not filled. Clearly Merlin didn’t save Arthur in the end, but he did many times up to that point. It may have been those acts that were foretold, and the king’s death at the time and way it happened may have left lead the kingdom’s new leadership to accept magic and unite Albion (it certainly did seem the Queen recognized that the savior magician was Merlin, someone she has known and respected for years). It may have been with Arthur’s death, the Camelot victory, and the Queen’s ascension that the prophesies come to pass (but of course these are left up to the viewer to conclude)…
Hello GREAT post, I watch Merlin all the time on Netflix, I am a bit obsessed. You can see my reviews at my TV blog http://www.randomrecaps.wordpress.com But I am actually writing because of your awesome post. Lately as I watch in obsessive mode its been buggiing how much Arthur was so mean to Merlin but I think it was his immaturity at certain stages and he didn’t seem close with any of the others after Merlin showed up on the scene. I also loved that this show chose to have Gwen as a woman of interracial background and to be a servant considering all the other versions of her in literature. I actually did some research and the king arthur stories are said to be largely fiction based on other Kings in history which I found that surprising. I might have linked that information in one of my reviews on it. Either way thanks so much for sharing this.
I believe that there was suppose to be a Season 6, but since Collin M. Had to leave the UK they shorten it all up and ended it on season 5. I am disappointed though. That magic wasn’t brought back! Maybe one day I’ll recreate the TV show “Merlin” after all I’m still young and lots to come!
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Oh my god, please do!!! And make it just as great as this one, just without the aforementioned mistakes! I was thinking the same thing, that someone should remake it, but the thought of recreating the costumes, sets, script, rehearsing, acting, filming, then music writing and post production… you would need to be really dedicated!
for i bage that you atleast make the sixth episode as you have explained it would be
Your articles and blogs are so fascinating.
Thanks so much for the kind words and your comments on the Morgan article too. Really appreciate the feedback.
Seriously! The end is frustrating, Merlin would have saved Arthur by calling the Dragon to take them to the lake or even by not ignoring the prophecy about Mordred and go on the battle field to help Arthur instead of being the hero to Camelot and failing Arthur. I HATE THE END I WISH THE WRITER COULD MAKE ANOTHER EPISODE!!
I understand and I agree with you to an extent. When I wrote this I was trying to make sense of the ending we got, but now looking back yeah I’d rather have had the Dragon save Arthur.
The most upsetting thing about the ending is that you can look up producer and writer interviews where they said this was the ending they wanted. It’s so ridiculous to me that the series ended the way they wanted it to, that this was the story they wanted to tell. I can’t argue with them, clearly I’m not them so I can’t, but the ending of the show was just so … flaccid is how I’d describe it. Sure, it’s emotional but it doesn’t feel like a conclusion. It really feels like there’s more to the story (and there’s a tumblr out there that takes “once and future king” seriously and has constructed an apparently well told sixth season about Arthur coming back from the dead) and they didn’t get to do it. They claim they did though, which makes me honestly wish I could hear what was discussed in the planning stages, you know?
“I think we should kill Arthur off at the end, leave half of the prophecy unfulfilled.” “That’s a brilliant idea!”
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Aaaahahahahahaha, that last paragraph is hilarious!!! I agree, and I’d follow it with a face palm.
Good impression of things however I think the writers intended a season six where things would have been sorted out but Arthur’s actor declined.
And I have no idea how old this is
But didn’t the dragon say he didn’t fail? Like the last episode of the show Merlin asks if he failed and the dragon says no.
I think Arthur died because in some legends he dies and is supposed to eventually come back. I mean, there must be a reason why Merlin is still alive at the very end of the episode.
I found myself a little curious last night and went looking for articles about the ending of Merlin and found this one. And yes, I can pretty much agree with nearly everything you said.
You certainly went into much more detail than I ever would though. I think that is mostly because you still watched the show and seemingly cared about it more than I ever did.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always loved the story of Merlin and King Arthur and when this TV series came out I was as excited about it as everyone else. It’s just it didn’t take long for the pattern to be established. Once it was and it was confirmed that pattern wasn’t going to change, I just stopped caring about watching every episode. I still watched it when I had nothing else to do hoping things would turn around but after season four ended I’d given up that hope. It was obvious that if Merlin was ever given a choice about what to do in an episode the writer always always always had him make the wrong one.
This wasn’t the Merlin of legend I loved when I grew up. To me this version of Merlin was an incompetent moron.
Harsh yes, but accurate I feel. Even if I havn’t watched it since it ended.
I can see your point. For the record I’ve kind of changed my opinion since I wrote this. At the time I was just trying to make some sense of that ending, but now I agree that Merlin shouldn’t have been so useless and at least brought magic back before Arthur died.
Actuallly it is implied that Arthur WILL come back to life…by the dragon saying Merlin didn’t fail, and that abt Arthur rising when Camelot neeeded the most…completing the history…and just like it happened in the legend. But YESSSS there were many times they could have stopped what happened
They just portraited the prequel of the all legend…Arthur did rise again. Merlin saw what a disaster modern society was, so he brought Arthur back.
Just watch the series I didn’t know that it was that good I was disappointed when they killed King Arthur but I think that it should have had another season where magic was bought back into the kingdom but it was good overall and hope that you can rewrite and bring it back so it can have a Savage ending thank you for letting me watch this again please please bring it back I enjoyed it so much thank you
I think the mistake with Mordred was never trusted him. And Arthur killing his love. Merlin was a boy with a lot of pressure on his shoulders and I don’t judge him, but if he would’ve told the truth since he tried to save luther and failed maybe Arthur would be understood and be more soft about killing Mordred love cause of his hatred of magic. Then maybe we would be have magic today, I think the Merlin series concept is trying to explain smt like ‘what really happened’ and why we don’t have magic today. Now if the show was to return I would’ve wanted smt like Merlin is in the modern world and he figures how to travel back in time or smt and corrects his mistakes and finally bring magic back to the Camelot and hence to the World.
Good article, however my theory, is that Merlin and Arthur’s destiny to bring back magic did come to pass in a way. Because Arthur made Gwen queen, and at the end, she does recognizes that the wizard who helped them win the battle/war was someone she knows, and she does seem to know it’s Merlin, because Gaius told her that she knows the wizard sorcerer. Gwen won’t prosecute magic, so Merlin and Arthur didn’t fail.
Your analysis has a great deal of merit, but their decision to end it like that really makes the entire show pointless. Everything we watch ultimately is a failure. The entire storyline is a failure. All of the pep talks from Merlin to encourage Arthur, even some from Gaius to both Arthur and Merlin, the dragon, etc. are all meaningless…from the very first episode, watching this series again has zero replay value because you know it is all pointless – the title character Merlin will ultimately fail and be completely heartbroken – it literally would make seeing so many scenes be upsetting because you know it is not going to ever happen. Arthur will never have the chance to rise to become the great king. The ending ruins the entire story of the series in my opinion in what was a very epic storyline…with the entirety of it destroyed just by the last episode. Epic adventures have disappointments, mistakes to overcome by taking other actions to correct them, sadness, tragedy, and heartbreak…and there is plenty of that to be found throughout the series…the entirety of the series did not have to end like that to where it was ALL ultimately all in vain – that’s not just a sad ending, but a stupid ending. Again, what was the point? Nothing of the journey from the very first episode we start on ultimately comes to pass. The title character fails completely. Why ruin such a good story like that? What were the writers thinking?
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Your analysis has a great deal of merit, but their decision to end it like that really makes the entire show pointless. Everything we watch ultimately is a failure. The entire storyline is a failure. All of the pep talks from Merlin to encourage Arthur, even some from Gaius to both Arthur and Merlin, the dragon, etc. are all meaningless…from the very first episode, watching this series again has zero replay value because you know it is all pointless – the title character Merlin will ultimately fail and be completely heartbroken – it literally would make seeing so many scenes be upsetting because you know it is not going to ever happen. Arthur will never have the chance to rise to become the great king. The ending ruins the entire story of the series in my opinion in what was a very epic storyline…with the entirety of it destroyed just by the last episode. Epic adventures have disappointments, mistakes – including big mistakes – to overcome by taking other actions to correct them, sadness, tragedy, and heartbreak…and there is plenty of that to be found throughout the series…the entirety of the series did not have to end like that to where it was ALL ultimately all in vain – that’s not just a sad ending, but a stupid ending. Again, what was the point? Nothing of the journey from the very first episode we start on ultimately comes to pass. The title character fails completely. Why ruin such a good story like that? What were the writers thinking?
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The point is…there should’ve been a season 6 wich would bring the return of Arthur as foretold by the profecy…and showing Merlin and Arthur fulling their destinies like the tale is told…but the series was always a prequel, but would’ve been nice to see that. The producers said the final Merlin scene was exactly that to show Merlin in the present was waiting for Arthur’ss comeback
Arthur’s actor Bradley wanted off the show at the end of season 5 so they had no choice but to bring it an abrupt end. they had planned for a sixth season that would have shown a magical kingdom and they just ran out of time to make it happen. So, thanks Bradley, for ruining Merlin for all of us. You suck!
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Honestly if he would’ve helped Morgana at begin instead of being a super pussy he would’ve save her from her dreams
Maybe if he actual realize hey maybe iIan instead of fearing her help her they could’ve been more than friend and she wouldn’t have to face her fear alone
I think the writers remembered everything. Kilgarrah probably meant that Arthur already built what he was destined to achieve, by setting things in motion.
It was finally revealed that Merlin was the sorcerer and has been looking after Arthur the entire time, and ultimately he had won the war for Camelot.
Arthur married a woman who was open minded and empathetic, who also is now aware that a sorcerer saved her kingdom, even though her husband has died.
Arthur may not have finished building an accepting and peaceful kingdom, but the woman he married shares those ideals and now rules over Camelot; which would not have happened had he chosen to marry say, the Side Princess instead.
Arthur did make decisions that could lead to a peaceful future, and the writes left that part of it open-ended — I think that could be for 2 reasons:
1) So that we, the fans, could speculate our own conclusions
2) So that they can possibly make a spin-off, involving the Queen in Arthur’s Role, or Merlin in modern times (concluded by the technology shown in the end — trucks, etc)
I forgot to check the email me of new comments box, so this comment is for that purpose.
In the legend of Arthur he DOES come back and in the finale they implied that…saying that Arthur would rise again when Camelot needed the most. They just portraited the prequel of the all legend…Arthur did rise again. Merlin saw what a disaster modern society was, so he brought Arthur back.
I agree with almost every single thing you said! I mean, I like Merlin, but I still prefer Arthur and even though I understand that Merlin didn’t want to kill people, he should have at least picked better solutions. While I don’t think it is 100% his fault, I still think that he played a huge part as to why he and Arthur couldn’t fulfil their destinies. It also pisses me off a little since there will not be a season 6… I mean, okay, Arthur died in season 5 (which is one of the saddest things ever… For me at least… ;.;), but maybe they could have made a season 6 and even more, like, for example, to make Arthur get revived or something… Personally, Merlin is one of my favourite series ever but the ending really disappointed me… And why did they have to kill Arthur??? Right now I’m constantly watching the series again but each time, I skip the 3-4 last episodes of season 5 and start re-watching season 1… I just can’t take watching the final battle…
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Probably one of the most absurd tv series ever made. I started watching it and really would have stopped after the second ep but just keep watching in the hope that Uther Pendragon gets stabbed to death by hundreds of pixies wielding tiny blades aimed at his testies! Uther is a hippcrite hypocrite a coward a bigot and a snob. All essential characteristics of royalty I’m sure but nothing that would inspire loyalty or the idiot Merlin’s constant protection. What a waste of time!
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Uther could have been killed by the Dark Night in Excalibur as the Dragon suggests, Merlin saved Uther with Excalibur, that was the first time. 😢
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The point is…there should’ve been a season 6 wich would bring the return of Arthur as foretold by the profecy…and showing Merlin and Arthur fulling their destinies like the tale is told…but the series was always a prequel, but would’ve been nice to see that. The producers said the final Merlin scene was exactly that to show Merlin in the present was waiting for Arthur’ss comeback
good bring them back we needtosee a good ending
Whilst I agree that there are a lot of reasons for speculating ‘what if’, and why someone turned out the way they did, and whether destiny was fulfilled or not, I think that you perhaps give too much away to apparently likely actions of several people with regards to what ifs. If Uther were killed in Series 1, Morgana’s personality equally suggests she’d be guilt ridden at her part in it, and unlikely to reveal her magic to Arthur so she’s not found out as a conspirator, especially as Tauren was a magic user. As Kilgharrah says, Arthur’s heart would harden towards magic if it ended up responsible for Uther’s death. Furthermore, Morgause straight up used Arthur to try and kill Uther in a sneaky and underhanded way, which as Merlin notes, Arthur wouldn’t forgive himself for. It is equally possible that Arthur would claim magical coercion out of guilt and blame magic. Whether Arthur is largely decent or not, most of his upbringing has been that magic is dangerous, and again, Kilgharrah’s later observation is right. It’s a delicate balance, since Uther’s death was more likely to come from magic considering his prejudices, and a balance of Uther’s own making ultimately, but not to fully acknowledge that burdened line that Merlin is tightrope walking is problematic.
This leads to Morgana’s issues. Merlin does have a hand in it, as much as she has a hand in making him sterner and calculated, if not ruthless at times. The fact is though, Merlin makes his choices in situations which are largely no win one way or another, or perhaps black and grey. To flatly blame Merlin as being solely responsible because of impossible choices of his without considering Morgana’s own choices in all their facets robs her of her agency in making those choices.
The ‘if Merlin had told her of his magic it wouldn’t have happened’ excuse, frequently used, is the big one. Firstly, it lies in a sexist area of Morgana needing a man to save her. It also discounts the distinct hierarchical differences between them, as well as the relationships they have in Series 1 and 2. Morgana is highborn and beloved of Uther, and a sister in effect to Arthur. She has been able to stand up to, and question both, and whatever Uther’s threats to magic users, his relationship with her suggests that at very least he wouldn’t kill her for having magic. Gaius is on the edge about it, but Merlin points out at some point later that Morgana could have shifted Uther’s views if she’d chosen to be braver. If not with Uther, Morgana has constantly stated and witnessed Arthur being better than Uther, but chooses not to have faith in what she says and knows of him. Yes, she confides in Merlin, but this only after he says he already knows and she has little choice in this regard. Problem is, she doesn’t much confide in him. Yes, he knows, but aside from sending her to the druids, which is his choice to do so, she never seeks much comfort from him by going out of her way to do so. Morgana chooses to isolate herself; Gwen seems to have an idea given the Witchfinder episode, but again, Morgana shuts her out despite knowing Gwen cares for her.
On top of this, Merlin is at a disadvantage socially – if scared for her own life, as she often is, Morgana could easily deny being magical and denounce Merlin as a liar. And it wouldn’t be a fair trial either. Morgana’s secret is safe with Merlin not simply because he’s her friend, but because he’s her inferior and Uther is unlikely to believe him. Furthermore, Merlin has increasingly witnessed Morgana’s kindness competing with her inherent selfishness, which explains why he doesn’t confide his own gifts to her. Morgana’s reaction to the death of Gwen’s father is an example. It is not doubted that Morgana is still a caring person at this point, and she feels for her friend. The issue is that Morgana internalises what happened as something pertaining to herself and her fears, and her attempt on Uther is as much ridding the world of a tyrant as avenging and protecting herself. She does it again when she goes to the druids but refuses to leave to protect them; not does she admit to going to them of her own will. This is Morgana’s choice. She chooses ultimately to protect herself more than others, and doesn’t choose to fully trust those she claims she does. Yes, Uther’s tyranny is terrifying and would cause issues mentally; thing is, Arthur ultimately stands up to it a lot more, openly or secretly because he chooses to, despite the fact he could lose his life as well one way or another.
Even towards the end of series 2, Morgana’s choice to isolate herself, and trust in the unknown motives of Morgause is ultimately born of her fear, and her selfishness. But again, its her choice. She chooses not to admit to being in contact with Morgause, nor that she agreed to help, never considering that Morgause betrayed her by making her the source. She could have at least revealed she suspected she might be magical – again, a terrifying time, but Arthur wouldn’t have knifed her on the spot. Merlin may not have spoken up, but ultimately neither did she. After everything Merlin had seen of her when it came to how she reacted when it was a choice between her self preservation and risking it for others, Morgana always chose herself. It’s hardly a wonder that after this, being told that Morgana was going evil, seeing shades of it, and seeing her lying that he chose the poison, especially as he was weakened and desperate. There was no guarantee she’d choose to risk her life to wake everyone up; Morgana has rarely truly chosen to trust others, especially her friends, and since Uther’s death was likely, even if Arthur and people were spared by Morgause, Morgana’s past behaviour with wanting revenge, and increasing hesitation in the episode suggest at the least she would have equally been inclined not to poison herself and let Morgause win. She could have bargained with Morgause, and may have indeed done so when she was the only person awake, but at that point, Morgana has little power to stop Morgause doing as she wishes. Then, there’s once again the problem of magic having killed Uther, and Morgana’s complicity and eventual guilt causing the ultimately same outcome.
So, yes, Merlin, as he admits, bears some responsibility in the sense that some of his choices may have been influenced by the prejudice of prophecy, he did initially give her the benefit of the doubt, and for some time tried to believe in some part of her, even avoiding killing her. Perhaps it would have been better if he had been ruthless at the right moment. Those are his mistakes. Thing is, Morgana’s personality and choices also ultimately worked against her, and in that regard, when she continually had the chance to reassess and repent, she never did. She chose her hate, chose herself, and thus chose evil.
You are soo soo right!! I’m so utterly disappointed in the title character Merlin. He did everything wrong. He should have been wise and made decisions on his own. He was the ultimate trigger for Morgana becoming evil. He was the trigger, for Arthurs hatred towards magic. I was so upset in season 1 and 2, that I almost stopped watching. I couldn’t bear the thought about having a complete idiotic title character, which should have been a wise man as the legend told.
This series should get a remake with a complete alternate storyline, where all of Merlins’ utterly stupid decisions won’t prosper into a complete ridiculous storytelling!
Oh and not to forget: Uther should be killed in there asap! I can’t understand, how someone so vile could get protected by one (Merlin) who gets persecuted himself by this horrible murderer!
Wisdom is gained through experience. The wise Merlin from legend is old and grey. The Merlin who makes all those mistakes is still very young. In the final episode it states that Arthur will live again when the world needs him the most. In the final scene it is implied that is many, many years later (centuries) by the way the world and technology has evolved — Merlin is old and grey at that point, and that many years is plenty long for him to gain his wisdom.
Merlin didn’t turn Morgana evil. She had a heart cold as stone and evil was already inside of her. Morgana lusted for the throne of Camelot. That thirst for power transforms her into the dark witch that she becomes as she carries out her evil deeds.
merlin is such a wonderful movie but am really pissed off by the news and show of king arthur’s death,but i hope their would bring out another interesting season that will make all great prophecies of the great dragon come to pass
Merlin DID fullfill his destiny, just as Arthur.
Why I think like that :
Morgana would be Queen of Camelot after Uthers death, but not as long as Arthur is alive.
With all the hate that is within Morgana there would never be any kind of peace possible because shes greedy for revenge (especially against Uther)
Arthurs Destiny was to create Albion (An antique name for Great Britain) and this was only possible if Morgana dies and never gets the throne of camelot because with her on the throne there could never be any kind of Freedom.
With Morgana’s death Arthur and Merlin created Albion because no other King or Queen was about to start a war.
Arthurs destiny was to kill morgana so that peace could come. And that happened, and Merlin helped him with that.
Arthur cant fail his destiny by dying, because he allready fullfilled his destiny, so did Merlin. Arthur’s destiny wasn’t to rule over camelot, thats propably Gwen’s destiny.
but what about bringing magic to Camelot. that was the destiny too.
The creators of the show used a few literary techniques that are common in Epics: that of parallelism and the Catalyst, an important literary device in both Character-driven and Plot-driven stories.
Merlin and Mordred are both portrayed as parallel characters, traversing opposite paths but both Catalysts to the hero’s destiny. I never saw Merlin as the hero of the story. He was the Catalyst that led Arthur to becoming the hero. His Catalyst nature is especially prominent in discussions surrounding prophecy and “possible” futures. Merlin is less a hero and more “the stone that puts the cart onto a new path.”
Additionally, Arthur and Morgana are paired as opposites as well–Hero vs. Villain–both integral to the story but not driving the story like the character development of Merlin and Mordred. Merlin’s catalyst nature is explicit (him being the titular character) while Mordred’s is hinted at. Both Arthur and Morgana are affected by the actions of Merlin and–to some extent–Mordred.
in conclusion, I agree with your premise, that Merlin is a tragedy. The creator’s themselves have come out and said it is a sad ending, because the original story of Arthur dying (or being fatally wounded at least) is also tragic.
Well, the dragon wasn’t impartial throught… he was so angry with Uther who he attacked Camelot and he would have kill Arthur if Merlin hadn’t intervened. So, actually the dragon wasn’t so into this “destiny” thing, and when he said “Uther must die”, it could be his rage to talk, not his wisdom.
So I agree with some points and not others. I think Merlin and Arthur did complete what they were meant to and the dragon said as much. There were 5 kingdoms in the area and Camelot was one, he was allied with 3 and 1 had no leader last we knew. So he didn’t fail there. Arthur accepted magic and the end, but it was too late to fix it in the kingdom, but I think he achieved that by leaving Guinevere the throne as she knew at the end that Merlin had magic and was thankful for all the help he gave Camelot. So she would have accepted magic.
As far a Mordred goes, if he killed Mordred when the dragon told him and Arthur was still judged by the triple goddess it is very likely Arthur would have died much earlier as Mordred saved Arthur’s life at least 2 times.
If he did not listen to the dragon and told Morgana he had magic and of the future Arthur was foretold to bring to Camelot she may very well have never turned against Arthur. If he didn’t stop Arthur from killing Uther and making Arthur believe magic was evil, Arthur may have accepted magic and maybe would have never been judge by the triple goddess. That being said I think he would have never learned the ways of the old religion and simply not opposed it- he may still have angered the triple goddess. But in accepting magic there would have never been war with the druids and Mordred’s friend would have never become an enemy of Camelot and therefore would not have been hanged and Mordred would not have turned against Arthur. I think Merlin’s protecting the king in that instance was a critical mistake. although if Arthur killed Uther he may have not recovered enough from that to lead his people. He would have been best off even letting Uther die much earlier so it would not come to him dying at Arthur’s hand.
While Merlin made a few critical mistakes I think a lot of the dragons advice was bad and in following the dragons advice to kill Morgana truly set her on the path of evil. As Mordred was Morgana’s friend actually killing her could have also caused Mordred to become Camelots enemy so he should have given her enough reason to become an ally.I didn’t think she really wanted the power, she wanted change.
yess i am totally agree with you . The biggest mistake when triple goddess ask Arthur to allow magic . Merlin should hav known that id magic is allowed , Mordred will not be an enemy . Not sure of Morgana , but i think all she wants is acceptance and trust .
Merlin is a very stupid movie whats the use of the seeing the future and not abiding to the warnings, the movie jx ended half Arthur didn’t rise again Albion wasn’t born magic was not restored, the movie end stupid that shouldn’t have been the ending , stupid writers
Merlin is a very stupid movie whats the use of seeing the future and not abiding to the warnings, the movie jx ended half way Arthur didn’t rise again Albion wasn’t born, magic was not restored, the movie end stupid that shouldn’t have been the ending , stupid writers
Merlin is a very stupid movie whats the use of seeing the future and not abiding to the warnings, the movie jx ended half way Arthur didn’t rise again Albion wasn’t born, magic was not restored, the movie end stupid that shouldn’t have been the ending , stupid writers.
Just discovered this show on Netflix.
Since everyone is familiar with the legend of Merlin King Arthur and Camelot it was a bit frustrating to watch an alternate story that turned out so differently and so badly. It was frustrating in most episodes to watch the characters of merlin and Arthur be so unsure of themselves, to flatl out refuse to listen to trusted advisors — unless they were evil. Mistakes were made only because neither arthur nor merlin believed in themselves. Merlin seems spectacularly uncertain, so much so that one has to realize he simply doesn’t want the burden of his foretold destiny. He shows in his actions and actually says that a number of times. Arthur on the other hand wants his destiny with Camelot but winds up becoming, as you said, a somewhat mundane character and as a king accomplishing very little. I agree with you that the people who produced this wanted to show that while prophesies can be made the ultimate outcome can be changed. But in such unbelievable ways?! When you are the last dragon lord and the great dragon advises one thing and your father-like teacher who has shown to be wrong so often that he apologizes in every episode, why would you listen to the teacher? Especially one that merlin argues with and defies in every single episode. A teacher who has to apologize inevery episode? It was continually frustrating to watch these beloved characters refusing to listen to those they trust. In fact no one listens to anyone which while it does reflect our real life world it does not usually reflect the world of a great and good legend. Were Arthur and merlin shown to be unwilling to accept their destiny because life is complicated and tough and not clear as we see in our everyday life, then why make it a legend? Then all it is is a real life story of good intentions that turned very badly for everyone. It was a wonderfully done show in so many ways with characters that are so well done that binge watching it was great fun. But. It was so ultimately flawed so often that you knew exactly how each character is going to screw up before they do but the evil guys only blow it when defeated by magic, that it stopped being enjoyable.
Yes I agree it is a great show in so many ways. There is clearly a lot in it as here we are almost 10 years on (can’t believe it’s been that long) and so many people are still rediscovering Merlin. Whilst I tried to make sense of it way back in 2015 when I first wrote this article (again how time flies) I think it would have been better if series 5 had been Arthur and Merlin ruling a Camelot where magic was back. That way Arthur could have still die, getting across their points about the prophecies and free will, but Arthur would have done something at least.
You’ve made me realize just how long ago this show was done! The pandemic is giving me time to rediscover Acorn, Netflix and others but I quite enjoyed your recap. Thank you for responding to this.
THE ENDING IS LIKE SO SAD I AGREE I HATE THE ENDING
For the most major fuck up: Poisoning Morgana,
Merlin was sleepy and probably wasn’t capable of a rational decision. Despite not trusting, Morgana was still a friend to him and so he was unable to really kill her and had let her go, unable to decide. So to be honest I could still sympathise with him on some level. To me, the worst mistake he’d done was when he healed Morgana after accidentally injuring her severely. This was annoying because he didn’t learn his lesson and the people who grieved didn’t know the bad things Morgana had done. So if I were him, I would let her die and keep her living as a hero to those who grieved. Merlin was never bad and all his decisions were out of kindness. But this led to the tragic chain of events. Although likeable, he was not the best main character in my opinion. The staff needs to do another route where Merlin does succeed!
The dragon advised Merlin to “Let the Witch die.” Merlin rarely listened to his dragon teacher.
Can’t believe that this shows is 13 yrs old and here I am . I think the greatest misake is when the triple goddess ask Arthurs to allow magic to Camelot , he ask Merlin his opinion but merlin choose to suggest not returning magic . If he have not done that, Morgana might repent (not sure but i think all she wants is acceptance and trust ) and mordred will not be an enemy if Arthur did not kill her love (Kara). then , the destiny will be fufilled and Merlin has no need to live that long and have backache for centuries.
btw , i love ur opinion and hope u will continue to give ur opinion and theories . thank you so much .
I personally think that Merlin wasn’t for killing people. But there are at times when it comes to people like Uther where at times you can’t be nice about it. And Merlin just needed to put the foot down by letting Uther die.And Sadly By letting Morgana and Mordred die or if he didn’t want that then kill Uther.
Completely different thought here is that the destiny was not realized on screen to keep it among us, to transcend it more than a legend, by hinting Merlin is still around, and Arthur will be the next messiah.
I’m so glad that I found this site and that it’s still active. I’ve definitely come late to the world of Merlin having only just watched it for the first time on Netflix. Originally I thought it would be a fun children’s show with a bit of fantasy and magic thrown in but it was SO much more.
I totally agree with the idea that if this is a prequel then it would be easier to accept the ending and even the “mistakes” that Merlin, Arthur and Gaius make. I would definitely have preferred a clearer resolution of the acceptance of magic into Camelot as per the original post and suggestions of alternative endings. Even just a few episodes where Arthur mortally wounded and unable to be healed fully returns to Camelot to revoke the decrees against sorcery leaving Gwen to complete the work. Arthur may then subsequently die, sent off by the court and citizens of Camelot (including familiar faces of druids and people with magic). The ending would still be a tragedy. Merlin would still have lost his friend. The trauma would still be great but there would be resolution and hope that the great king would rise again.
That being said I think this series will remain one of my favourites and I thank the creators and producers for it. For a film/series is not successful just in the telling of a story or even in making viewers believe in the world they have created BUT in the impact and influence on them. For all the flaws and disappointments of this series, I believe Merlin has the real power to inspire people to put the interest of others before themselves, to act out of kindness, compassion, loyalty and love just as Merlin himself did. Ruthlessness, unfettered hatred and unheeded wisdom are the real enemies. Mistakes are made mirroring the imperfection of our own decisions but it doesn’t stop Merlin trying to live by his values and seeking to achieve a goal beyond himself and for the greater good even at great cost to himself.
I would love someone to remake the ending of Merlin or to follow up with a movie or another series BUT as it is, it already has power that reaches beyond the characters on the screen and into the minds of those who watched. That’s real magic!
On further reflection despite its flaws, there is brilliance in the ending. The name of the show is Merlin. Its focus is not on Arthur or the destiny of Camelot or Albion but on Merlin. We see Merlin’s character grow from a young, naive boy only discovering his abilities to a man whose magical power is realised and matched only in strength by his kind and loyal nature. Even though I thought the end was stupid when I first watched it and still wish it was different, I can see now how it celebrates Merlin. He has done exactly as Arthur asked ” Whatever happens… I don’t want you to change. I want you to always be you.” When all was done. Merlin’s character remained pure – the Merlin we have grown to love. He was not corrupted by bitterness or crushed by regret. He did not blame the dragon or despise his destiny. “I was born to serve you, Arthur, and I’m proud of that, and I wouldn’t change a thing”. Rather he continued being faithful waiting for the time he would serve Arthur again.
Don’t read this if you haven’t watched the series or if you don’t want any spoilers. I had to interpret the ending of The Adventures of Merlin in a positive light, or I would’ve gone insane: Merlin is in the court scene when Guin is declared the primary ruler of Camelot after King Arthur has been announced dead. Merlin is standing with knights in the front row on the right-hand side. He is fourth over closest to the wall. I froze this scene on Netflix and I spotted the back of Merlin’s head and he is wearing a black shirt. I believe he returned to Camelot after sending King Arthur to Avalon. Merlin’s destiny or purpose with King Arthur wasn’t over. He created a new goal to help Arthur’s queen and to protect Camelot while allowing magic back into the kingdom. Merlin informed Sir Percival of King Arthur’s passing and Sir Percival informed Gaius, Queen Guinivere, and the Sir Leon. I believe Merlin continued to protect Camelot and the court for 100 years, after that he wandered the Earth and checked up on King Arthur’s grave periodically. In the final scene, when Emrys is walking through Modern Great Britain and he is walking past Arthur’s grave. He doesn’t look at this grave and he almost has a look of disgust or regret at himself for believing that he will see his old friend King Arthur again. He shakes it off and keep walking ahead.
The series was a lot of fun to watch. It was light-hearted and at times very heart-wrenching. The acting was rather well done to say the least but when I peaked ahead and read what the ending was going to be like , I stopped at S5-10. I just can’t bear to watch it
heyyyyyyy have you guys ever thought maybe the author wanted to make are story that you guys have not even think of
what if merlin has the power to bring back author or something like that why are you guys saying stuffs that don’t matter I mean he is making a story from his ideas not yours soo let him do what he wants too and shurt up
no disrespect but you cant take everything your own way so what if author dies does that means is the end of the movie noooo
but the beginning you never now what can happen
I really love merlin and I want for season six to come out with every fiber of my being