- “The scrawny little fellow about 12. He's a regular little grasshopper.”
- ―In Merlin's vision
Arthur Pendragon (often called Wart) is a figure from British folklore who was featured as the protagonist of Disney's 1963 animated feature film, The Sword in the Stone. In the film, Arthur is an orphan boy who becomes King of England thanks to his ability to pull a legendary sword from an anvil, making for a highly iconic moment.
Arthur is a 12-year old orphan with blond hair and is very scrawny and awkward, but also friendly and polite. He has a rich imagination and dreams of becoming a knight and having adventures. However, as he is an orphan, he knows that the most he can hope for is to become a squire to his boorish foster brother, Sir Kay.
The Knight Sir Ector found Arthur when he was a baby and took him in. Although Ector cares for the boy to an extent, but he still tends to favor his son, Kay, and thus raises Arthur much more strictly, and Kay is a constant tormentor to his adopted brother. Almost everyone refers to him as Wart rather than his birth name, Arthur. In fact, his real name is rarely mentioned throughout the film (And his last name, Pendragon, not at all), once by Wart himself, and later when he is revealed as the rightful King of England.
Wart accompanies his foster brother, Kay, on a hunting trip. After accidentally distracting Kay, Wart goes to retrieve Kay's lost arrow and ends up in the home of Merlin, a powerful wizard. While enjoying tea with Merlin, Merlin speaks to Wart about the value of an education and appoints himself as Wart's tutor. Wart returns to Sir Ector's castle with Merlin and is sent to the kitchen as punishment for worrying Sir Ector. Sir Pellinore, a friend of Sir Ector's, arrives with news of a tournament, with the English crown as a prize. Sir Ector decides that Kay can be knighted in time to participate. Ector also appoints the Wart as Kay's future squire for the tournament, which is to be held in London.
The next day, Wart accompanies Merlin on his first lesson. Merlin turns them both into fish and, at first, everything goes smoothly. Wart is soon chased by a large pike and manages to outsmart the pike at first. Thankfully, Wart is saved by Merlin's owl Archimedes. The adventure teaches Wart the value of brain over brawn. When Wart is transformed back, he rushes to the kitchen, where Ector gives him 6 demerits; 3 for being late, and 3 after telling the true story of his lesson.
Later, Wart is being forced to clean an entire kitchen as a result of his punishment. Merlin enchants the dishes to wash themselves and sneaks Wart out for another lesson. This time, the lesson is about gravity and (in an unexpected twist) male-female relationships; for this lesson, Wart is transformed into a squirrel and meets up with a female squirrel, who wants him as a mate. As Wart attempts to escape the amorous squirrel, he is put in danger of being eaten by a wolf. Wart is saved thanks to the female squirrel, but he is then transformed back into a boy. Though he tries to explain, the female squirrel is heartbroken.
Back at the castle, Sir Ector begins reprimanding Merlin for using what he believes to be black magic on the kitchen. Wart tries to defend Merlin, but Ector piles more demerits on the boy and finally punishes him by both revoking his chances of making the trip to London and by making an unseen boy groom, Hobbs, Kay's squire in Wart's place. Merlin sees Wart's disappointment and apologizes, but notes that Wart could still make something of himself through an education.
Merlin then takes time to explain different concepts about how the world works, but Wart becomes so confused that Archimedes takes over Wart's education. After finding out that Wart is illiterate, Archimedes teaches the Wart to read and write. During a break, Merlin takes time to demonstrate a model airplane. Though the demonstration doesn't work, Wart is impressed anyway and relates his dream of flying to Merlin. While Wart is talking, Merlin transforms him into a sparrow. Wart then goes out flying with Archimedes. The flight goes well at first, as the Wart proves to be a natural at flying but, during the flight, Wart is chased by a hawk and, in escaping, ends up falling through the chimney of Madam Mim, Merlin's enemy. Though Madam Mim attempts to show Wart that her magic, which is self-serving, is better than Merlin's, Wart disagrees and so Madam Mim transforms into a cat and attempts to eat the Wart. Merlin's student is saved by the intervention of Merlin and Wart later observes the Wizard's Duel between the two wizards. As a result, Wart learns the value of knowledge and wisdom, as Merlin won by outsmarting Mim.
At Christmas time, Wart is reinstated as Kay's squire out of necessity (as Hobbs had come down with mumps). Wart is pleased, as he feels it is his only opportunity to advance. Merlin is angered that Wart still prefers war games over education and so the wizard teleports himself (quite unintentionally) to 20th century Bermuda.
On New Year's Day, Wart accompanies Sir Ector and a newly knighted Kay to the tournament. Everything is going smoothly when Wart realizes that he forgot Kay's sword at the inn. In an attempt to find a replacement, Wart pulls a magic sword from a stone that was in an old churchyard. When the Wart brings the sword, it is immediately recognized as the legendary Sword in the Stone, which is only supposed to be pulled by the rightful king of England. All the knights at the tournament force Wart to repeat the process, but before he can do so, Kay, Sir Ector and a few other knights attempt to pull it out, under the reasoning that anyone can pull it a 2nd time (which is proven to be false).
Pelinore and a knight called Sir Bart stop the other knights, and allow Wart to pull the sword. He does so successfully, and everyone bows to him as the new King of England. Sir Ector takes the opportunity to ask Wart for forgiveness, which Wart feels is unnecessary. The crowd asks for the boy's name, and Sir Ector almost calls the boy Wart before correcting himself and calling the boy Arthur for the first time.
Time passes and Wart, now crowned King Arthur, feels unprepared for the responsibility of ruling a country. With the assistance of Archimedes, he attempts to run away, but every exit is blocked by cheering crowds. Merlin then unexpectedly returns from Bermuda and is pleased to see that Wart is now King Arthur and relates how famous the boy will become in the future.
King Arthur appeared about twice in House of Mouse. In "Rent Day", where Mickey asks him to loan him money, and Merlin (next to Arthur) offers him money to get Arthur a sword. And in "Ask Von Drake" The Ludwig Von Drake Song shows a shot where King Arthur, Merlin, Sir Kay, and Madam Mim are trying to pull the sword out of the stone.
King Arthur appears on the show, portrayed by Liam Garrigan. In his debut episode, "Dark Swan", the animated Arthur also appears in archived footage of the original, animated The Sword in the Stone.
Before the First Curse
As a young Arthur and Guinevere walk in Camelot, he tells her of how he will one day be king. They walk to a tree and he informs her of how Merlin is trapped within the tree and his dream in which Merlin told Arthur a prophecy where he would pull a sword from a stone and become king. Arthur tells her she will be his Queen. After some discouraging words from Kay, Guinevere tells him to follow his heart.
King Arthur arrives with Sir Percival and Lancelot in Camelot, having finally found the Sword in the Stone, which can only be pulled by the greatest King of all the realms, as prophesied by Merlin. Arthur watches Sir Kay stand near Excalibur and warns him not to take it, but Sir Kay defies Arthur's request and attempts to pull it out, which results in him turning into ash before Arthur's very eyes. Arthur then successfully pulls the Excalibur from the stone himself but is shocked to discover that the tip of the blade is missing. Arthur decides not to inform the people of Camelot about this, and only that they now have a new King. He then tells Lancelot and Sir Percival that they must begin a new quest, to make Excalibur whole. However, this quest drives him mad, and Arthur soon turns from hero to villain.
After the Second Curse
Somewhere in the Enchanted Forest, Arthur and his knights approach Emma and her allies to tell them they arrived to find her. He explains that their arrival was prophesied by Merlin. He tells Emma that according to the prophecy, she is destined to reunite them with Merlin, and takes them to his castle in Camelot.
Before the Third Curse
While there, it is revealed that Arthur cannot be trusted after Snow meets up with an old friend she thought long dead: Lancelot, who was believed killed by Cora years before. Working together Snow and Charming prove that Arthur's plan is to steal the Dark One's dagger and unite it with the blade, using in means necessary. He means to kill not only their daughter Emma Swan (the current Dark One), but Merlin himself. When Snow and Charming refuse to cooperate, Arthur did what he did to his wife Guinevere years before: he uses the Sands of Avalon to force them to cooperate.
However, Emma catches on to Arthur's deception and manages to get to the former Queen Regina before she gives the dagger away to Arthur. Quickly, Emma and Regina work against Arthur and find the ingredient to free Merlin: the tear of a lost love. Although Arthur and his men try to stop them, Regina holds them off with her dark magic, while Emma releases Merlin from a tree. Once released, Merlin expresses how disappointed he is in Arthur, his once great hope. This comment causes Arthur to react in anger, accusing Merlin of having given him an impossible quest. However, Merlin manages to release Snow and Charming from the king's enchantment and agrees to release Emma from her curse, if she's ready to be free.
Arthur and Zelena use the heroes as bait to force Emma to turn over the dagger and the eternal fire flame but after an intense fight they are defeated and travel back to Camelot. Arthur then plans to use a magical helmet called the Helm which is in DunBroch to lead an army that will fight the heroes. After learning from a witch that the Helm was purchased by Merida's father, Zelena and Arthur plan to find it before Merida and Mulan do. After finding it and thanks to Ruby/Red Riding Hood, Merida discovers that Arthur is the man who killed her father and after a big fight Merida thanks to Mulan, Ruby, and the Clans of DunBroch defeat Zelena and Arthur who then retreat back to Camelot. Afterward, when the third Dark Curse is cast Arthur and his wife Guinevere watch as the curse consumes them and all of Camelot
After the Third Curse
Six weeks later, after citizens from Storybrooke and Camelot alike are pulled back to Storybrooke with their memories removed by Emma, Arthur (despite having no memory of that last six weeks) continues his nefarious plans, this time he plans on overthrowing an established peaceful community for the sake of desiring power and making Storybrooke the new Camelot. He explained to the residents that Emma might use the reunited Excalibur to snuff out either the dark or light magic.
When Regina plans to contact Merlin, King Arthur goes in alone to do it and throws the toadstool into the fire and claimed that he wasn't able to get through. Though King Arthur was unaware that magical toadstools don't burn. He is caught and sent to jail by David.
When the heroes return to Storybrooke from the Underworld, along with Hades, Arthur goes to meet with them at the Troll Bridge. However, he encounters Hades, who kills him. Arthur is then sent to the Underworld. While there, he assists Hook in finding the missing pages of the Underworld storybook that contain Hades' weakness. After finding out that Cruella De Vil threw the book in the River of Lost Souls, Arthur and Hook journey to the River to retrieve the book. There they are forced to fight a few of the souls from the River in order to get it. When a portal opens up allowing Hook and Arthur to leave, Arthur decides to stay behind, as he feels that he should become the new ruler of the Underworld, and help the souls stuck there to pass on.
Mickey Mouse comics
In the Mickey and Minnie Mouse comic El misterio de los albatros (INDUCKS I M 60-4), a descendant of one of King Arthur's knights, Lancelot, named Lord Percival Knight, is searching a mysterious King Arthur's sunken treasure, that Percival Knight thinks he can find with help of an ancient magic music. Finally, we learn this treasure doesn't exist; the music helps in fact to charm animals and force them to follow the musician.
Arthur is mentioned in the novel. He has a son named Artie. He also dislikes technology, keeping Camelot Heights in the Dark Ages; though it's presumed that Arthur elements when it comes to medical care. King Ben is mildly annoyed with Arthur's choice as Camelot smells terrible from the lack of modern cleaning and bathing supplies.
- Historians are still uncertain on whether there was a real King Arthur or not.
- The Disney Comics serial The New Adventures of Beauty and the Beast had Belle reading about the adventures of King Arthur and explaining she had more of a time there than being outside. It was later referenced again in the musical adaptation of Beauty and the Beast during the "Human Again" segment (the film equivalent having Romeo & Juliet).
- Like Peter Pan and the Beast, Once Upon a Time's version of King Arthur takes on a more villainous role than he is traditionally portrayed.
- Unlike those two, however, Arthur is the first to truly show an effort to reform.