Robin Hood. The legendary medieval hero/outlaw has been in literally a gazillion movies and TV series. Seeing him in Ivanhoe made me wonder — just how many? Well, I almost keeled over creating this list!
According to legend, Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Beyond that, there’s MANY elements that have come and gone, like him being of noble birth, accompanying characters including Maid Marian (who we’ll cover in a future post) and the Sheriff of Nottingham, and the idea that he lived during the (late twelfth-century) reign of Richard the Lionheart. If you want to know if he was real (who knows), check out Wikipedia’s historicity of Robin Hood to stick your toe in these waters.
Let’s run down as many Robin Hoods as I can find images of, not including animated versions!
Robert Frazer in Robin Hood (1912)
William Russell in Robin Hood (1913)
Douglas Fairbanks in Robin Hood (1922)
Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Russell Hicks in The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946)
Jon Hall in The Prince of Thieves (1948)
John Derek in Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950)
Robert Clarke in Tales of Robin Hood (1951)
Richard Todd in The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)
Harold Warrender in Ivanhoe (1952)
Patrick Troughton in Robin Hood (1953)
Don Taylor in The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954)
Richard Greene in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955-59)
Lex Barker in Robin Hood and the Pirates (1960)
Richard Greene in Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)
Don Burnett in The Triumph of Robin Hood (1962)
Ronald Lewis in Siege of the Saxons (1963)
Hans von Borsody in Robin Hood der edle Räuber (1966)
Barrie Ingham in A Challenge for Robin Hood (1967)
David Warbeck in Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood (1967)
Spede Pasanen in About Seven Brothers (1968)
Donald Harron in The Time Tunnel (1968)
Carlos Quiney in Robin Hood, el arquero invencible (1970)
Ernie in Sesame Street (1970)
Kermit The Frog in The Muppet Show (1970)
Giuliano Gemma in Long Live Robin Hood (1971)
Hugh Paddick in Up the Chastity Belt (1971)
Boris Khmelnitsky in The Arrows of Robin Hood (1975)
Martin Potter in The Legend of Robin Hood (1975)
Richard Gautier in When Things Were Rotten (1975)
Sean Connery in Robin and Marian (1976)
John Cleese in Time Bandits (1981)
Which, if you haven’t seen it, you really should:
David Robb in Ivanhoe (1982)
Dan Hamilton in Voyagers! (1982)
George Segal in The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood (1984)
Michael Praed and Jason Connery in Robin of Sherwood (1984-86)
Wayne Morris in Maid Marian and Her Merry Men (1989-94)
Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Patrick Bergin in Robin Hood (1991)
Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1991)
Cary Elwes in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
Soccer in Wishbone (1996)
Matthew Porretta and John Bradley in The New Adventures of Robin Hood (1997-98)
Rik Mayall in Blackadder Back & Forth (1999)
Stuart Wilson in Princess of Thieves (2001)
Billy Zane in Charmed (2005)
Jonas Armstrong in Robin Hood (2006-09)
Barry Killerby in Chucklevision (2007)
Russell Crowe in Robin Hood (2010)
Tom Ellis and Sean Maguire in Once Upon a Time (2011-18)
Tom Riley in Doctor Who (2012)
Ben Freeman in Robin Hood: The Rebellion (2018)
Taron Egerton in Robin Hood (2018)
Edited to add…
Alright! I’m sorry!
Alright, let’s do this. Who’s your favorite screen Robin Hood?
Richard Greene. And not nearly enough pictures!
Wow – I knew Robin Hood was a popular subject but had no idea there were SO MANY versions! (Thank you for including Ernie & Kermit, BTW.) So many “interesting” costuming choices, hairstyle choices, casting choices…
Cary Elwes even if it is a parody; between that, the Princess Bride and Lady Jane (which I should not have been watching at my age), he was my first childhood crush. Although the Taron Egerton version was entertaining in a sort of WTF way.
Cary Elwes won a poll a few years back as the best Robin Hood, beating out his more “sober” counterparts.
He made the totally valid point that he at least was a Robin Hood with a genuine English accent.
I love that film, but Marian and Her Merry Men is wonderful, with a superb cast – Danny John-Jules! Tony Robinson, who also wrote it! And a Robin Hood who is very different in his own special snowflake kind of way.
I grew up with Richard Greene, of course. (There was also a TV show called “Richard the Lionheart” which had a Robin Hood episode with Ronald Howard as the outlaw. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_the_Lionheart_(TV_series)
Loved, loved, loved ‘When Things Were Rotten’.
How can you not love ‘Robin and Marian’? Sean Connery! Audrey Hepburn! Lines like ‘God was with us on Crusade, it didn’t help.’
And of course ‘Robin of Sherwood’ with that earworm Clannad theme; ‘Rooobin! The Hooded Man!’
Errol Flynn really had some great legs didn’t he? I don’t know that he’s my favorite Robin Hood but he has the best legs of the lot.
Cary is probably the best Robin. Though Alan gives the best performance of anyone in any of these movies. I really only watch his bits.
“Robin & Marian” – because I’ve only seen those pictures, where I see too much of Sean Connery’s nipples given how dirty he is!
I highly reccomend you watch the film. My favorite Robin Hood iterations are series, but as far as standalone films go, I’d actually argue it’s the best piece of filmmaking under the banner of Robin Hood films.
Great cast, directed by Richard Lester – who did the best The Three Musketeers (1973/4), and written by James Goldman, who wrote The Lion in Winter (1968). With that lineup, I’d give it a shot.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Robin and Marian.
Robin of Sherwood with Michael Praed and Jason Connery is the best version of Robin Hood ever as far as I’m concerned although I’ve a soft spot for both the Patrick Bergin and Carey Elwes versions
Ditto, on Robin of Sherwood. The show runners showed an admirable knowledge of late 12th c. history.
And Men in Tights is wonderfully funny.
You have good taste, and I agree with your choices. (Is that complimenting my own taste? Don’t care.)
Patrick Bergin’s version I felt was overshadowed by Kevin Costner’s version that same year. But Patrick Bergin was a far better Robin Hood than Costner. Maybe that’s not a great feat given Kevin Costner was miscast (I feel), but Patrick Bergin nailed the puckish rouge routine. Underrated.
And why oh why didn’t they just cast Cary Elwes instead of Kevin Costner? Elwes is as good a dramatic actor and certainly more charming. He would have been great even as a more serious Robin Hood. We did get a great comedy out of it, but still. Costner’s “box office draw” reasoning doesn’t fly – why not cast Sylvester Stallone if money was the only consideration?
And Cary Else’s has a genuine English accent! 😁
Unlike other Robin Hoods.
Oh God yes! What were they THINKING putting Kansas American Kevin Costner in as Robin Hood? He couldn’t even nail an English accent properly, so they had to go back post-production and have him do his lines with his American accent. Ugh! Although I cannot stand him now due to his shitty behavior, Mel Gibson would’ve been the perfect Robin instead. Him and Alan RIckman – oh yeah!!!
It was Costner’s film- he could cast anyone he wanted, and he did. Costner’s film may even look to be a bit rushed. It was. He pushed all the deadlines so he could release it before the Bergin one hit the theaters. An evilly mean thing to do to a far better movie.
Patrick Troughton was of course the Second Doctor, so the 2012 Robin Hood eps. included a clip of Troughton’s Robin in a cipshow viewed by the bewildered Robin as a nice little Easter egg for the longtime fans.
Robin of Sherwood is of course the source for the now traditional Saracen member of the Merrie Men. Nasir, played by Mark Ryan, was a henchman of the villain in thefirst episode who the show runners decided to keep instead of kill off.
I had NO IDEA about Troughton’s Robin Hood and am absolutely delighted to see it!
Troughton’s Robin was the first ever on television. It was a six-part series. Troughton also appeared in character roles in the Richard Greene series—all before he became the second Doctor.
Grown-up me: Robin and Marian
Inner Child: Disney’s foxy Robin Hood
Why Kendra included Muppets & Wishbone but not Disney’s foxy Robin Hood is beyond me.
Yeah, that is one sexy fox. 😉
But Gary Elwes still takes the cake of those I’ve seen.
Thanks for reminding me of the Wisbone episode! He comes a close second to Cary Elwes.
Lor, that’s a lot of Robin!
DEFINITELY Soccer/Wishbone! Question: Why does Flynn–quite a good R.H.–have all those little studs sewn on his jerkin or whatever it is? The sun does come out in England, occasionally, and would flash on them, and perhaps reveal his presence to the bad guys.
The sparkly bits are only on his clothes before he becomes an outlaw, when he’s still a noble/knight.
Have to admit, all the live action Robins fall way short of Disney’s version, voiced by Brian Bedford, but if I had to choose….Errol Flynn in spite of the fingerwaves, and Sean McGuire on Once Upon a Time. But I’m also of the generation that watched Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner a thousand times and regularly threatens to cut out hearts with a spoon.
Doesn’t Maid Marian wear a leather bikini while she shots arrows in Kevin Costner’s dreadful version? And you guys are worried about cowboy boots! I suppose you’ll cover it all delightfully when you do Maid Marian.
Doncha hate all the fake dagging? Where they’ve set little tabs into the straight hem of the sleeve not cut into the fabric.
I’m no Robbin Hood fan, but I do hate it when they leave out King John and the very reason Sir Robbin became an outlaw in the 1st place.
I think you’re thinking of Keira Knightly in King Arthur (2004) with the leather bikini. That’s the only thing I remember about that movie. On the bright side, it’s a great cure for insomnia, LOL. :)
Yeah, I think that’s King Arthur, not Robin Hood!
And WHAT is with the dagging?? Was that a thing?? I can picture it on those long medieval sleeves, but otherwise… (my fuzziness about medieval fashion isn’t helping).
Dagging was very much a thing in the fourteenth century, not the twelfth.
The “Robin Hood” themed episode of The Muppet Show [Episode 323: https://muppet.fandom.com/wiki/Episode_323:_Lynn_Redgrave%5D initially aired in 1979. We all know why you didn’t include animated versions; the Disney fox version would have been picked as the best one. It’s my favorite too.
Where’s the Disney version? That one is my favorite.
I’d forgotten about “When Things were Rotten.” I LOVED that show
Wow! I thought I had a good collection of RH, but Ultimately, my fave is the Russell Crowe version, AKA How the Aussies Saved England ( more than half the cast is non-British) I like the Robin-Marian relationship the best. Also, it’s one of the few that come close to a reasonably accurate picture of Richard and decent battle scenes. Also, it’s more of an origin story of the legend than some of the others. The only other characters that have more film are Dracula and Sherlock Holmes (hint, hint).
Though there is a great love in my heart for almost all Robins, Richard Greene was my first love. I can still sing the theme song and all the lyrics!
Hey, are we including other time-settings in this? What about “Robin and the Seven Hoods”?
The theme music started cranking in my head the moment Richard Greene came up on the list. I watched Greene’s “Robin Hood,” along with “Knights of the Round Table,” on a Chicago-area local station as a child in the early 60s.
Not to mention the use of the tune for “Dennis More” in a Python episode – Your lupins or your life!
Animated I know, but if you want Robin Hood in space, it would be hard to do worse than Rocket Robin Hood. A 1960s Saturday morning TV cartoon from Canada.
Probably the biggest influence on the costuming of Robbin Hood, (at least up to the 1980s), are the illustrations that Howard Pyle drew for his 1883 book The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood of Great Renown in Nottinghamshire.
I grew up with Howard Pyle’s books and illustrations when I was a child—his work inspired me to become an illustrator as an adult.
Michael Praed in Robin of Sherwood. Honestly he was so grrrr broody, Blonde cheerful Baby Sean just meh’ed it for me.
Now and forever, Robin the Fox. I’ve always had a soft spot for Sir Hiss. Cary comes a close second, and Kevin in third largely because of Alan Rickman.
Robin of Sherwood, always. And I did love Robin and Marian. I do have a soft spot for the Disney version since I cosplayed him for a masquerade competition (along with 4 other Robins — we won Best in Show!).
I notice that the most recent abomination was left out. No loss.
You mean there’s ANOTHER one after the 2018 debacle? Lord save us. :)
The only thing I knew Martin Potter was in was (and I love it) Fellini’s Satyricon. But I see he turns up in Nickolas and Alexandra and The Borgias!
I kinda like his Robin Hood green homespun t-shaped tunic. It’s different at least.
Definitely a big soft spot for the Disney version – that was classic weekend afternoon TV here, and defo my first Robin Hood. Still love it and have the DVD. Another yay for Sir Hiss!
Prince of Thieves hit during my teens, so yes, I was one of those people who had it on VHS and wore the tape out – except at the time I only ever watched it in German. Years and years later, my adoration for Kevin Costner abated but in a fit of nostalgia, I bought the DVD and watched it in English the first time. Gah… the embarrassement! I threw that DVD out very, very quickly. The only good thing about it really is Alan Rickman!
And who had supplanted my affections? I admit, Errol Flynn. Once we got TNT here and I started watching old Hollywood movies in English, I lapped all those Flynn swashbucklers up. Who wants KC after that lol. I still think this one is great, despite everything. It’s just the sort of archetypal Robin Hood film to me. And of course the score is fantastic – I even have that on LP.
I’ve seen Men in Tights, but too long ago – should probably give it a rewatch. I loved it then, not least because I got all of the PoT-spoofery, and that had me in stitches.
For me, Cary Elwes wins, with second place going to Messrs. Ellis and Maguire. OUAT was a dumpster fire of a show at times, but Robin was a DILF and a sweetheart.
I recently watched the 1922 Robin Hood. The whole movie is available on YouTube for free with what I believe is the original score. Great swashbuckler though not what you might expect. The entire first half is dedicated to how the Earl of Huntingdon becomes Robin Hood, and only after is there some Robin Hood-ing. Impressive art direction – the sets are gargantuan (disregarding authenticity). The final fight between Robin Hood and Guy of Gisbourne is savage compared to Errol Flynn’s and Basil Rathbone’s iconic but perfectly safe back-and-forth. In the 1922 version, it is clearly two men trying to murder each other; mostly fist-fighting and (spoilers? Robin wins) ends with Robin, sporting a sinister grin, strangling Gisbourne to death.
My favorite version remains Robin of Sherwood (1984-6). I also love the Martin Potter, Sean Connery, Patrick Bergin, and Cary Elwes versions as well. I think Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) has a number of merits but is hamstrung by Kevin Costner’s California Robin Hood. He just stuck out like a sore thumb. Now, yes they’re all speaking the wrong language, but if you’re not going for authenticity then aim for consistency.
I was quite underwhelmed by Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood (2010). In behind-the-scenes interviews Ridley Scott explicitly said he wanted to make a movie about what Robin Hood would be like if he were a real person. So… Roger Godberd then? Why not just make a movie about Roger Godberd? You’d get to discuss one of England’s most important but overlooked conflicts. No? You’d rather do a convoluted version of Martin Guerre? Oookay.
I had no expectations for Robin Hood (2019) and managed to be disappointed anyway. I saw Robin Hood get a “draft notice” (!) for “The Third Crusade” (!), said “Oh, piss off!” and NOPED out of it. A few movie producers, who’ve probably gone through more coke than twice my body weight, actually shelled out $100 million for that matted ass hair sandwich.
I’m not sure Douglas Fairbanks was much of an actor, but he was entertaining as hell. And Alan Hale plays Little John! Hale was everybody’s loyal sidekick for decades; I just saw him in “Stella Dallas,” where he was a sidekick-type of boyfriend. Perhaps we need a feature on Hale and other hearty-best-friend types.
We are archers in my family. Errol Flynn’s version gets a lot of respect for the extraordinary step they took of getting a phenomenal, famous traditional archer, Howard Hill, to do all the trick shots. Also, “you speak treason”/”fluently” is priceless.
“Robin and Marian” is my favorite version of the story. That simple explanation, “he was my King,” carries the whole film.
The Richard Green “Adventures of Robin Hood” TV show for most singable theme song. My four-year-old once entered a bardic competition and sang that song; every judge was charmed.
Patrick Bergin version for the sexually liberated Uma Thurman and the hilarous line “my bow needs re-grommeting.”
Disney version because my kid loved it.
Honorable mentions to Cary Elwes, John Cleese, and Patrick Stewart.
Martin Potter version (which I haven’t seen) looks like it has some good textiles. I aspire to seeing Douglas Fairbanks and Michael Praed versions some day.
Disney’s Robin Hood ftw! Then Cary Elwes, then (and I’m kind of embarrassed to say this out loud) Kevin Costner, because of the other great characters and actors in that movie. Same for Russell Crowe’s Robin Hood movie; Robin Hood was boring, but some of the other characters were fun to watch, even though the all around impression was wtf?
Wow, I had no idea there were so many. The only one I feel I can recall confidently is the Wishbone one!
I know we have lots of lacing issues, but I was noticing all the dagging right as I got to your calling it out.. it’s not all of them but at least half I’d say. I bet if we told people to draw Robin Hood, a lot would have that feature! At this point though they all just remind me of Link from Zelda. I think many of them are closer to that video game than the reality. To my non-expert eyes the 1912 one seemed decent from a costuming accuracy standpoint–interesting.
I think all the dagging comes from the Illustrated book by N.C. Wyeth.
What about the Daffy Duck version?
Yes! With his “Buck-and-a-quarter” quarter staff. :)
“what a cheap weapon! mine cost a buck and a quarter!” that is truly a gem.
This post just made me so happy. I didn’t know how much I needed to see Patrick Stewart dressed up as Robin Hood again until just now…and then the main cast too–oh God, why isn’t Worf in this picture? To answer your question: Kevin Costner is my fave. Yes, I’m aware of all the (probably justified) hate, but that one came out when I was young and I still carry my love for it through to this day. Gotta love: Disney’s version, Cary Elwes, and OF COURSE–Erroll Flynn!! Russell Crowe wasn’t bad, he was just dull in a dull film (and Cate Blanchett’s portrayal as Marion didn’t help things either–NO chemistry). Robin Hood is supposed to be exciting and Crowe & Co. purposefully made it into a snooze fest. Really, the best thing about that movie was Oscar Isaac getting naked and being evil. Yay! And as someone else pointed out, Howard Pyle’s illustrations were influential, especially on the very first screencap. Thanks for this one!!
Oscar Isaac NAKED? Oh mah Lord! I’m going to have to find a way to see that film now!!
The dagging probably comes from 19th-century painting and illustrations. So much of our idea of the fantastic pan-Medieval look comes from 19th-century art, how it portrayed the Middle Ages and flattened varied centuries into a unified aesthetic. But of course, it’s not like most of these screen versions are going for historical accuracy. In that regard, embracing the mythical idea of Medieval England feels more appropriate than trying to dress fantasy as historical fact.
All that being said, one can easily find examples of excessive dagging in Medieval fashion. Illuminations show men wearing tunics with dagged hems, hoods with decorative dagging, and so forth. However, most of those examples come from around the 14th-century, which is not Robin Hood’s era. It’d be like costuming Elizabeth I in a robe à la française.
yes, how on earth could you have forgotten the true gem “Robin Hood Daffy” I have a background drawing from one of the cells. by Chuck Jones no less!
as for my favorite Robins: Daffy, Errol Flynn, Richard Green (I grew up watching those!), Cary Elwys Loved “when things were rotten” Mel Brooks clobbered every cliche during the short run that series had. and I stood in line to see Disney’s Robin Hood, which I LOVED!
I never understood having a Muslim in the “merrie band” it was during the crusades people! the BEST way to get a one way ticket to heaven for a Christian then, even if you raped and pillaged EVERYONE including your family, murdered an entire city and kicked puppies and kitties was to kill a Muslim. just walk up and shank him and voila’, when you die you are JC’s BEST friend and God’s too. yet there’s one, walking around early England happy as a clam spreading benevolence and Arabic wisdom all over everyone. that STILL makes no sense to me.
and Lastly, Robin and Marian? According to the stories I’ve read that is how he died. knifed by Marian, as he lie dying he shot an arrow into the woods saying “bury me where this arrow lands, let there be no mark of where Robin lies.” and then he died.
did you also know he was the second leader of the band in the woods? Will O’ the Green was the first leader. after he died Robin took over.
The general legend is Robin was bled to death by the abbess of Kirklees. Goldman found a variant where the abbess was Marian and wrote Robin and Marian’.
A Muslim Saracen would definitely have issues in medieval England but not all Saracens were Muslim. Romances include several christian ‘paynims’ like Sir Palomedes and his brothers. Nasir is the henchman of a sorcerer making his religious commitment decidedly fuzzy, and Robin of Sherwood has a pagan element anyway in its magic. A committed Muslim following Robin home from the crusades is so not on. A Christian Arab of which there were many is a possibility but not terribly likely. And with all respect to the wonderful Morgan Freeman Saracens were NOT sub Saharan Africans. Given the medieval Islamic slave trade there were undoubtedly some black Africans around, and not all would have stayed slaves,, but most of the inhabitants of Outremar were Arab or indigenous middle easterners.
Exactly right. The “Moors” if they were supposed to be from the “Maghreb” (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) were not sub-Saharan Africans. They were Berber, with maybe some Arab from further east mixed in. In fact, all the Near East (countries that border the southern and eastern rim of the Mediterranean Sea) had their own indigenous peoples, who after the 7th c, and the spread of Islam by Arabs from what is now Saudi Arabia, the Arabs mixed with local populations like the Spanish did in Central and South America.
A Muslim in 12th-century England would indeed have encountered outright hostility; you’re not wrong there. But all that stuff about ‘killing a random Muslim got you absolution for all your sins is way, way off beam. Just not true, even if Ridley Scott says it is.
One of the Richard Greene episodes—The Infidel—dealt in a very realistic way with a Muslim in Medieval England.
I have the entire Richard Greene collection, and it is brilliant.
Aww, came in looking for 1997’s Ivanhoe version of Robin Hood, not because he’s necessarily my favorite but because I love that miniseries. I went to try and find a picture, but I can find everything but that character. Did see a whole lot of Ciaran Hinds while searching, so not wasted time at all.
Only time I’ve really liked a Robin Hood film was Patrick Bergen’s. Otherwise the character is kind of a yawn except as a supporting or comic character.
Love Cary Elwes, love Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn, but totally adore the Errol Flynn version, especially Olivia de Havilland’s wardrobe. Shall we say… Flynn overcomes the finger waves.
Douglas Fairbanks 5ever. It kills me when people attribute to Errol Flynn stuff that he started.
Have to say I am curious about the Patrick Troughton one.
“It kills me when people attribute to Errol Flynn stuff that he started.”
Hear, hear! Glad somebody said it.
Cary Elwes, with the genuine English accent, beats even the fox into second place. Costner? Nah, I only watch the Rickman bits of that. If nothing else, the geography drives me nuts – Dover to Nottingham via Hadrian’s Wall and Wensleydale in ONE day? Just plain silly.
Cary Elwes wins for me, such a feel-good comedy! “We are Men in Tights, running around the forest looking for fights!” :)) Have a soft spot for the Errol Flynn movie too, glorious romantic Technicolor. So many Robins, now my head is spinning and I cannot unsee the unnecessary (but lovely) lacing :)
Hi – Lots of ‘interesting costumes’ but I’m feeling the need to correct the naming of the musical instrument – in the photo from the Star Trek version – “Levar Burton with the lute!” it is a mandolin … lutes are larger and have a 45degree angle in the neck and lots more strings. Instrument in the photo is a pear-backed Mandolin (as opposed to the flat-back used in blue-grass music) very southern Italian, they have 8 strings, tuned in pairs, same tuning as a violin, played with a plectrum, lots of tremolo … The strings are metal which is quite period impossible – but I guess it was Star Trek so a mish-mash of eras anyway.
Kevin Costner. I just like that version … probably the music and Alan Rickman. And he wasn’t prancing around in tights so … :)
If I could see it now it would be my Great Uncle William Russell who starred with Gerda Holmes in the 1913 Silent – it was reckoned to be a very good early presentation of Robin Hood produced by Thanhouser Studio