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Merlin is a wizard who is known to advise Kings and Queens, due to this he is considered a traitor to his kind. He is a legendary figure who serves as an advisor. He is a master of ancient magic and he is loyal to the Fey cause, though many of the Fey revile him due to his seeming allegiance to King Uther Pendragon.

Merlin is also revealed to be the biological father to the main character of the series, Nimue. He is portrayed by Gustaf Skarsgård.



Merlin previously wielded the Sword of Power and this caused him to go mad with power. He also took part in a past attack on Roman soldiers, senators, and civilians alike with a family of Romans being slaughtered by Merlin.

He was only able to free himself from the sword's hold on him when Lenore dug the sword out of his chest. He fell in love with Lenore after this incident with them forming a romantic relationship until she asked him to leave her. Unbeknownst to him, Lenore had kept the sword hidden from him but told him that it had been destroyed. After the sword was removed from his body, Merlin lost his magic, though he tried to keep that hidden from others in order to keep up the appearance that he is still very powerful.

Due to his firsthand experience with the power and corruption the sword brings, Merlin wishes to destroy it with Fey fire to prevent others including his own daughter Nimue from being corrupted by the power of the sword.


Merlin is approached by debt collectors who remind him that he owes Lord Gray River 4,000 gold coins. He threatens to send them back to their lord as mole rats, and it works, but Merlin actually doesn't have magic. Later, the guards escort Merlin to the king, explaining that Merlin was drunk in the cabbages. Unsurprised, Uther talks of all the promises Merlin makes, such as conjuring rain, and Uther highlights that they don't happen. Merlin makes excuses, and Uther explains to his advisor, Bolli, that Merlin is unmoved by the Fey being torched by the Red Paladins. Merlin rants about the situation and makes excuses before Uther yells to Merlin, demanding rain. Merlin walks out, promising to double his efforts. While walking in the hall, Merlin finds a dead bird in the hall as an omen, and he wanders up a tower to find a bunch of dead birds, indicating more omens. Later, Merlin goes to a physician. Reluctant to revealing himself as a collector, the physician denies before realizing that his customer is Merlin. He then proceeds to show Merlin a "number three." The omens that Merlin saw allows him to predict a "magical child, a new dawn and a great and terrible war." Merlin gives the physician money and walks away. Later, Merlin wakes up from what is supposedly sensing the Sword of Power and Nimue. He then scrolls his book pages to come across a ritual. He does this with the help of a frightened guard, and Merlin sees three crowns in the sky, the symbol of Uther Pendragon's banners. Then, blood rains on the castle. This presents as another omen. Uther is furious when learning of this, due to the blood rain crashing a fest and yells out Merlin's name. Then, Merlin gets struck by lightning to reveal a glowing scar on the right side of his body in the shape of the Sword of Power.


Merlin is confronted by King Uther about the blood rain. Merlin tells Uther that he needs more time to "study the omens." Angry, Uther orders his men to break the door down, because Merlin doesn't let them in. When they break the lock, they storm in, but it is too late. They find him gone. Merlin later travels to Nimue's village, where he discovers the body of Nimue's mother, Lenore, and lays her to rest. Upset, he then kicks down several crosses erected outside by the Red Paladins. He then meets with a spectral figure called "The Widow," and asks her if she's finally come for him after all this time. She tells him that he lied to her about the Sword of the First Kings being destroyed. She continues that the Shadow Lords see this as a final betrayal and will hunt him down, but he replies to let them come. She also says that the Chruch cannot acquire the Sword of Power, telling him to finish the war he started. Merlin then comes up with a plan to destroy the Sword of Power and to steal the Fey fire from someone who possesses it. Merlin asks The Widow for the collector's whereabouts, a clay that Fey fire can't burn, and her horse.


Merlin meets with Brioni, telling her that he brings gifts for Rugen the Leper King, who is the collector. Later, the Widow tells him that she's had a vision of him suffering and doesn't wish to help him. Merlin grows stubborn and demands the things he asked for anyway. The Widows gives Merlin the things, and she apologizes to Merlin. Merlin later is buried by Rugen's "afflicted" to see Rugen.

The Red Lake

Merlin is granted an audience with Rugen. Rugen complains about the raids of the Red Paladins and how King Uther has done nothing about it. Merlin tempts him with promises of power and his gifts. Rugen secretly poisons Merlin, but Merlin manages to shake it off, then slips away later in the night after playing himself off as drunk. He the. steals some of Rugen's Fey fire, which was his real intention. Merlin flees from the afflicted that chase him, and Merlin escapes on the Widow's horse.

The Joining

Merlin is confronted by a group of King Uther's soldiers and arrested for treason. Uther's mother, Lady Lunete, tells him that he can't simply keep Merlin locked away or else he will plot. She tells him to kill Merlin loudly and publicly in order to make a statement. Uther pays a visit to his cell to chat with him. Merlin tells Uther he has it on good authority that the sword is coming to him, but Uther tells him that he has until morning to produce it. Merlin rages, asking what he can do while he's chained up. The next morning, Merlin faces execution by beheading. When the executioner raises the axe, one of Yeva's hawks disrupts it. The hawk had a message speaking of the Wolf Blood Witch, who is Nimue, promising the Sword of Power to Merlin. Hearing this, Uther commands the guards to get Merlin up and cleaned up. The crowd boos at this. Later, Merlin talks with Lady Lunete, telling her "The Story of the Midwife" as a warning that he knows she is not Uther's real mother. Afterward, he is connected with Nimue in a "dream-world" through an intermediary, Yeva. He recognizes their surroundings and tells Nimue that the Between have a found a common ground for them, something which could only happen if they share a connection to the place. She tells him of her mother Lenore's dying wish and that she's wondering why Lenore would make such a wish. He asks what her answer its and she replies "Because... you're my father." The connection breaks.

Festa and Moreii

Uther needles Merlin about it being nice for his head to still be on his body, ahead of Merlin's meeting with Nimue. Merlin and Nimue meet in the ruins of an old castle, where Merlin reveals that the ruins are haunted by the spirits of the rivals of two warrior clans named Festa and Moreii. Using the power of the spirits, he takes Nimue back in time, revealing his past with Nimue's mother, Lenore. Nimue sees how Merlin stumbled into her village, badly wounded. There, Lenore discovered him and, against his protestations, examined his wound and treated it, discovering that there was an object inside of him. From him, she pulled out the Sword of Power, ablaze with fire. Afterward, Nimue sees how her mother agreed to harbor a fugitive, something which surprises her.

Merlin urges Nimue to open up and draw upon her connection to the Hidden to use magic, but Nimue is reluctant. He strokes her anger in order to get her to see how her abilities can be a powerful weapon. He also gives her a warning that the Sword of Power will change her and that even with the sword, her enemies can still find her and kill her. He shows her another vision, revealing how he left her mother. Discovering that she had hidden the Sword of Power from him, he raged at her, and she claimed she had destroyed it. He displayed fearsome anger, but by the time he tried to makeup, it was too late, as she told him she never wanted to see his face again. Nimue then calls upon Festa and Moreii herself to see what Merlin is keeping hidden from her and discovers his terrible slaughter of innocents. Then, Pendragon soldiers arrive at the ruins, and thinking that he summoned them, she tells him that he will not have the sword and is not a better man.

Bring Us In Good Ale

Merlin is chained up by Uther's soldiers but manages to break free and attack the one that is holding him captive. He later meets with a woman, Lady Cacher, saying that he's kept his promises to her and now it's time for her to keep her promise to him. She offers to host him for the night, wanting a bit more time with her family, but he tells her that they must be off.

The Fey Queen

Lady Cacher begins spreading the word throughout the countryside of King Uther being a fraud and a liar. Meanwhile, Merlin meets with Cumber the Ice King, asking that Nimue be spared. Cumber agrees to it but reveals at the same time that he has allied with the Red Paladins. Later, Merlin meets with the Widow, who reveals to him that Nimue is apparently fated to die soon. Shocked, Merlin talks with Cumber who tells him that Nimue is welcome, but only as a guest in his dungeons. Merlin leaves the room in anger.


Merlin rides into a forest and is shot in the chest with an arrow by Pellam, an agent of Rugen the Leper King. As Pellam taunts him, he pulls the arrow out of his chest, stabs him, and then chokes him to death before fleeing. He then visits Nimue and presents Cumber the Ice King's offer to her. Nimue rejects it but agrees to host Merlin for the night. Later, after going out of control with the Sword of Power, she visits him, asking if it was what it felt like for him. She reveals that King Uther sent a messenger, offering protection in exchange for handing over the Sword of Power. She worries about the possibility of not being able to save her people, but he tells her that the Age of Men is upon them. He tells her that it takes imagination to live and begs her to reconsider Cumber's offer.

The Sacrifice

Merlin using the Sword of Power to summon a powerful lightning storm

Nimue reveals that she has decided to accept Uther's offer. Hearing this, Merlin decides to give himself up to Uther, hoping to gauge Uther's sincerity. However, when he brings himself to Uther, Uther has one of his soldiers stab him through the back, then drag him off to a tent.

Following the climactic battle with the Red Paladins, Nimue and Morgana escort the badly injured Merlin away, Morgana having inherited the Widow's power and learned that Merlin is on the edge of death. He then bears shocked witness to Sister Iris shooting Nimue with arrows, causing her to fall off the edge of a precipice. He grabs her hand, but she is unable to hold on and falls to the water below. Enraged, he claims the Sword of Power and uses it to slay many members of a party of arriving Red Paladins, then summons a storm of powerful electricity which kills another group.


Merlin is at first a cynical man with a distrust of other people, although he eventually does begin to trust others especially after he had finally met his daughter Nimue with this experience slowly making Merlin have a more of a positive outlook on life after constantly mourning the loss of his magic along with the death of Lenore. However, seeing Nimue apparently killed seems to break him, causing him to once again take up the Sword of Power in anger and also again use his magic.



Merlin first met Lenore when he was badly injured, due to the fact he had a sword practically stuck inside him with it poisoning him as a result, so Lenore was forced to remove the sword from him in order to save his life. This encounter led to a romantic relationship between the two soon after.

Unfortunately, it didn't last, however, because Merlin had soon discovered to his own horror that he has lost his magic with this knowledge leading to an argument between the two that'd soon resulted in Merlin being told to leave by Lenore if he truly loved her. Despite the fact he was heartbroken, Merlin had to do what he had been told because he didn't want to hurt Lenore anymore that he had done.

Merlin eventually returned to his former home, only to discover the dead body of the woman that he truly loved which led to him carrying her body to a stone table where he performed a small funeral ceremony for her. He silently grieved over her death, which eventually leads him to do whatever it took to protect their daughter Nimue from harm.


Merlin previously had no idea that he has a daughter until he finally comes face-to-face with Nimue in a meeting of a spiritual nature that leads to him learning of the fact that he is the father of Nimue. This knowledge surprises him, due to the fact he didn't know that Lenore was even pregnant with a child at all during their brief romantic encounter.

He finally sees Nimue for real after he secretly goes to see her, they talk about the similarities between Nimue and her mother Lenore that lead to them finally spending time as father and daughter together. Merlin helps his daughter to try to control her powers by rebirthing a nearby dead tree in the ruins of an abandoned castle that they are in.

They even took part in seeing visions from Merlin's own past, especially from the time that Lenore had saved Merlin's life after removing the Sword of power from his body when she had found it inside him. The father-daughter duo even got to see the heartbreaking scene of Merlin's realization of the loss of his magical powers.

The two even got to see Merlin's separation from Lenore, who had told him to leave if he truly loved. After he had saw the painful vision of parting ways with the woman that he loved, Merlin fell asleep. Unfortunately for Merlin, he had no idea that Nimue had managed to see a horrible vision of him slaughtering innocent people.

Merlin didn't realize that Nimue found about his horrible past until he had finally woken up the next morning only to see the sight of Nimue pointing the sharp end of the Sword of Power at him. He quickly realized what happened, so he chose to admit the horrible things that he had done in the past to his daughter Nimue.

Unfortunately, things eventually got even worse for the both of them, when they found out that they've been discovered by Uther Pendragon's men with this knowledge horrifying the father and daughter duo. Nimue suspected Merlin, which led to Merlin assuring her that he had absolutely no idea that he had been followed at all.

The Widow

The first Widow and Merlin seem to have a friendly relationship. He asks her for help and she even lets him borrow her horse. He is upset to learn that Morgana has become the Widow.


Pellam, also known as the Fisherman, wishes to kill Merlin. It is implied they are brothers.

Powers and Abilities

Merlin is a very powerful druid and possesses many magical abilities. Most of these powers were granted to him via the use of the Sword of Power that corrupted his mind. At some point, he has mentioned having killed people through the use of lightning storms. Some of his powers was showed in the last episode of the season:

  • Weather Control: After Nimue was hit by Iris's arrows and subsequently fell into a waterfall, Merlin took the Sword of Power, thereby restoring his magical power, causing his eyes to glow white and emanate with blue electricity and started powerful rainfall.
  • Electrokinesis: In the fight with some Red Paladins, he directed lightning from above into his hand and attacked the Paladins resulting in their deaths.
  • Teleportation: After killing the Paladins, Merlin stretched out his hand to Morgana and grabbed her in tight before using the Sword to cast a spell which made them disappear.

Merlin still has been shown some martial abilities along the episodes. Some of these abilities were:

  • Swordmanship: After being cornered by the Red Paladins in the waterfall, he took the Sword of Power and proceeded to kill a great many of them with his strikes.
  • Staff Wielding: Against Rugen's afflicted, he managed to strike a couple of them with his staff before fleeing again.
  • Hand-to-Hand Combatant: Upon being awaken while sitting at table in the Tavern, he was able to make two messengers surrender who were threatening him and subsequently intimidate them.
  • Strong Immune System: When Merlin was poisoned by Rugen the Leper King, Merlin was able to shake it off with ease, showing his resistance to poison.
  • Light Touch: When Merlin pretended to wipe a wine stain off Rugen's shirt, he secretly stole his keys from his belt by means of pickpocketing.

Merlin still had some degree of magical potency when he lost his magic. Some of these include:

  • Foresight by Omens: Merlin was perceived to interpret omens at the beginning of the series, even though he lost his magic.
  • Clairvoyance: Merlin, was able to sense the Widow's presence and was able to see her when nobody else could see her.
  • Knowledge of Magic: Merlin still knew and specialized in magic, even though he inherently lost his magic. He was still able to teach Nimue to awaken an apple tree through her intentions.


Season One

Memorable Quotes

  • Any fool can die. Living takes imagination.
  • I have no magic, that's what the sword took from me.
  • Merlin: I still have my wits, and my charm.
    • Widow: I fear you overestimate both.
  • I have a terrible habit of not doing what I'm told.
  • His whereabouts, a clay that even Fey Fire can't burn and your horse (to the Widow) [1]
  • Never wish for more time. The gods might hear you and grant you that wish. [2]
  • Waras gantane naturia, dos fohen jiero siva sultair. Safara nemo te vaikum. Stellah me pelum ban. Nosi fara nycon teenon, toria valdi nateria. Fol cebellum ega tsasa, que creas taig mon leev. Laorah! (Never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around and desert you. Never gonna make you cry. Never gonna say goodbye. Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you).


  • He claims that "A Carpathian king once sent 400 assassins to claim [his] head. [He] burned them all in a lightning storm that lasted seven whole days" [3]. This may be true, or it may be a lie to protect himself from the men sent to collect money from him.
  • There are rumors going around that Merlin has lost his magic. [4]
  • In the Cursed novel, it is stated explicitly that Merlin lost his magic approximately seventeen years before the events of the series.



  1. Poisons (1x09), 44 minutes in. Said to Nimue.
  2. The Sacrifice (1x10)
  3. Nimue (episode). 15 minutes in
  4. Nimue (episode). 16 minutes in. "Maybe the rumors are true, then. Maybe you really have lost your magic."