Gwaine

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Character
Name: Gwaine
Occupation: Knight of Camelot
Title/Rank: Sir, Knight of Camelot
Location: Camelot
Status: alive
Relationships: Father deceased, mother's status unknown, at least one sister
Fandom: Merlin
Other: His father was a knight of Caerleon.
Gwaine
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Gwaine appears in episode 3x04 where he helps Merlin and Arthur in a pub brawl and gets injured when he saves Arthur's life. He has a low opinion of nobles because, after the death of his father in service to Caerleon, the king denied aid to Gwaine’s mother and family, leaving them destitute.

Later in the episode, Gwaine gets in trouble with Uther for attacking a knight, however he does not reveal his own noble birth. Arthur stands up for Gwaine, resulting in him being banished from Camelot instead of executed. Later Gwaine returns the favor and fights side by side with Arthur. Like Lancelot, Gwaine sleeps in Merlin's bed and they become friends. Gwaine flirts with Gwen, but she says she is not interested, although they are sweet and friendly with each other.

Merlin seeks Gwaine out to help rescue Arthur in 3x08, and Gwaine becomes a Knight of Camelot in the series 3 finale. As of the end of series 4, he is still a knight.

Fannish reception

Several details about Gwaine's character from the show have become common tropes in fanworks, especially those details given during series 3, such as his feelings about nobles, his drinking, and his fondness for Merlin.

Anti-nobility stance

In the show, Gwaine's anti-nobility stance comes from the way Caerleon treated his mother after his father died. He frequently expresses distrust and cynicism about nobles and royalty.

In fics set in the canon universe after Gwaine becomes one of Arthur's knights, he is often portrayed as loyal to his friends but ambivalent or uncomfortable with the formal trappings of knighthood. For example, Along A Wandering Wind by Hope and Green by Canarypaper (a WIP) both portray Gwaine's insecurities as a new knight.

Gwaine's feelings about nobility often create tension between Arthur and himself in fanworks.

Alcohol

In canon, Gwaine first appears in a tavern and later shows himself to be a regular visitor, appearing drunk on screen in his first episode. Many fans have taken this as part of his characterization, with some even speculating on whether or not he is an alcoholic. Rag Water, Bitters and Blue Ruin by leashy_bebes deals with an alcoholic Gwaine and how he handles his addiction with the help of his fellow knight Leon.

Modern AUs

Gwaine has been adopted into the set of characters commonly used in modern Alternate Universes. When he's not Merlin's lover (and sometimes even when he is), he is often cast as Merlin's best friend, such as in Same River Twice by Kianspo. However, in AUs where Arthur is on a sports team, Gwaine is often his team member instead. Works like There Are No Gays in Football by Malu_3 combine the two roles.

Open-minded nature

Fandom seems to generally perceive Gwaine as more open-minded about magic, and reacting very well to either a magic reveal, or to the fact that Merlin has secrets. In After the Storm by Hope, after discovering that Merlin is freaking out about Arthur knowing about his magic, Gwaine barely blinks and calms Merlin down. In Three Times Merlin Reveals His Magic by jelazakazone, Gwaine's reaction is to smile and clap Merlin's shoulder.

Gwaine is often seen as daring in more sexual works, too. As such, he's often used in kinky fanworks, such as in junkshop_disco's crossdressing/corsets fic Good, Giving, and Gwaine, which inspired altocello's drawing Nothing If Not Game.

Controversies

Comedic role

During the hiatus between seasons 3 and 4, a fanon was built up around Gwaine's personality as seen in his first few episodes, but at the beginning in S4, Gwaine's characterization swung in a more comedic direction, with buffoon-like elements, including jokes about his smelly socks. Reactions to this direction varied. For example, Sharlene Mousfar of the Geek Syndicate was quite confused about this new direction:

"Gwaine has apparently become the laughing stock of the group; he sticks his hand into a buzzing beehive for no good reason, we’re told he’s quite the chatty Kathy more than once and we also discover that Gwaine is afraid of wilderen when Arthur decides to take a shortcut through wilderen-infested tunnels. [...] There’s another moment later on where Gwaine is once again the comic relief as he removes his smelly socks and then sets them on fire. I’m quite perplexed by this version of Gwaine; last series, he seemed to be a fearless, skilled warrior. From what we’ve seen of him up to this point, he’s far from that."[1]

At Merlingwainebar, some commenters expressed continued love for Gwaine but also fear that he would be "relegated to comedy relief!Knight D:"[2] Many posts on the merlinconfessions Tumblr lamented that Gwaine had not gotten the amount or kind of character development in series 4 that fans had hoped for.

"I’m sad that they’ve never addressed the bravery, strength, and magic trio again with Gwaine, Merlin, and Arthur. It made Gwaine seem really important, but now he’s just comic relief." [3]

In reference to his behavior in 4x10, Zahrawithaz said:

"In fact, we learn more about Gwaine in this episode than we do about Elyan, though little of it is to the knight’s credit. His mention of the salt trick adds yet another hint that Gwaine knows more about [the] supernatural than he should, while the fact that it doesn’t work furthers his reputation as a buffoon.
More telling is the detail he drops when he and the other knights search for Elyan. When Percival, whose love for his family motivated his career in knighthood, urges them to imagine what they would do if Arthur banished their sisters, Gwaine responds, “My sister is an evil old toad, so I’d be eternally grateful.”[4]

Shipping

There have been some shipping tensions involving Gwaine. Please see the Merlin/Gwaine and Gwaine/Arthur/Merlin sections for details.

Name spelling

Variations on the name Gawain had commonly been used for original characters in fanworks based on the first two seasons of Merlin. With an episode titled "Gwaine", many fans were confused.[5]

Despite the confusion and some holdouts[6], Gwaine became the common spelling for the Merlin-specific character. Some works and comms can be specifically dated to the early S3 period by their choice of spelling, such as the Gawaingwen comm, which was created even before the episode aired based on promotional shots.

There were also positive reactions to the "Gwaine" spelling:

It's true, that's how it's writen in literature. But since the shows producers decided to write it as Gwaine (as seen in title for episode 4), obviously people use that version. I personally like that spelling better, I think it fit's better in modern language, but it's really a matter of opinion, wheter you use Gwaine or Gawaine (sic).[7]

In one meta fic, the author uses the name confusion as a source of comedy:

"I don't even know how to spell your name. Percy and Elyan were arguing about it the other day; Percy was sure there were two 'a's, and they were both before the 'i', but Elyan said he was talking out of his you-know-what, and that there weren't any 'e's, either. How do you spell it?"

Gwaine shrugged. "I'm not too sure. Back home they all called me Gawain, but you lot have been pretty insistent in spelling it 'G-W-A-I-N-E'. I couldn't care less, to be honest."[8]

Ships

How Geeks_anonymous ships Gwaine

Gwaine is a laid-back character that fandom has enjoyed shipping with everyone and everything from the start.[9] He's the source of many crack ships and fanworks, yet also features in a lot of fanworks delving into more serious aspects of his character or the show.

Merlin/Gwaine

Calls for Gwaine/Merlin fic began immediately after Gwaine's first episode aired. Only hours later, skellerbvvt posted the popular story Type/Safe, which comments that Merlin "just happened to be very fond of muscular men who saved his life and were nice to him."

Gwaine/Merlin quickly became the most popular slash ship after Merlin/Arthur, the pairing that had dominated the fandom from the beginning. Many slash fans found it more difficult to ship Arthur/Merlin during and after seasons two and three, when canon showed Arthur falling in love with Gwen and throwing things at Merlin. Gwaine, with his open affection and kindness toward Merlin, stole the hearts of some Arthur/Merlin fans and brought others into the fandom. Pen_rabbit, for example, wrote:

"I've been watching more Season 3, though I haven't finished it yet. Oh, GWAINE! He owns my heart. Well, the part of it that didn't already belong to Arthur, anyway. And he loves Merlin! It is now my canon that when the writers make Arthur marry Gwen (which I hate, though it is sadly inveitable, I think), Gwaine will be there to console Merlin. Because he loves him, even if Merlin's heart currently belongs to Arthur. Oh, boys, how much do I love you? SO FREAKING MUCH."[10]

and an anonymous fan contributed the following to the merlinconfessions Tumblr:

"I came into the Merlin series as a Merthur shipper, but now I think it’d be better if Merlin was with Gwaine. Merlin and Arthur should still be really close friends though."[11]

There were even some expressions of dissatisfaction with the progress of Merlin/Arthur up to that point.

"I don't get why people ship Merthur, Arthur treats Merlin like dirt! Gwaine is so much better for him!"[12]

For other fans, the Gwaine/Merlin ship provides a new perspective that helps them appreciate Arthur. Honourable Intentions by smilebackwoards is a fic from Arthur's point of view in which he recognizes Gwaine and Merlin's relationship and questions Gwaine to make sure he is worthy of Merlin. In the "reader freetalk" end of her podfic of Honourable Intentions, lunchee explains that Gwaine was her favourite new character from season 3: "Because of the way the writers have decided that Arthur needs to continue to be an absolute shithead to Merlin sometimes, it's just really nice to see a character that's just going to be exclusively Merlin's friend, first off, and a knight to Arthur second." This story allows her to say "Arthur does care, Arthur does care!" even when his canon character does not seem to. Lunchee continues, "Gwaine, at this point in time, is so much better for Merlin than Arthur is...just because...because of the magic reveal and Merlin not being able to talk to Arthur about some things and secrets just getting bigger and bigger and so, it's nice, it's so nice, to have a fic that kind of explains away some of the things that are hampering my enjoyment of season 3."[13]

Arthur/Gwaine

Some fans explore the tension created by Gwaine's canon dislike of monarchy and Arthur's royal status, such as in A Slight Omission by giselleslash. Others play on the competitionness between the characters, often trying to one-up each other playfully in fanworks, like when they are competing with sex-toys in Boys and Their Toys by leashy_bebes.

Gwaine/Elena

Some fans like how these unconventional characters allow them to play with traditional roles and tales. In Rescue me by eurydice72, Elena is the one rescuing Gwaine and they talk a little about their opinion on traditional female and male roles in their society.

Gwen/Gwaine

In Gwaine's first episode, he approaches Gwen and flirts with her by offering her a flower. At first, she's flustered, but she quickly turns him down. In the show, the two of them become friendly over the course of the episode. In fanworks, sometimes that friendship is turned back into lust, as in the sex pollen PWP Golden by Hope.

This pairing also benefitted from a surge of fans right after the first promotional picture was released, before the episode where both characters met aired. The gawaingwen Gwen/Gwaine community was created for this.

Gwaine/Lancelot

Gwaine and Lancelot share many characteristics, including most of a plot in their introductory episodes.[9] Since they were both reintroduced to Camelot in 3x13, the Gwaine/Lancelot pairing formed part of the increasingly common practice of slashing various knights together. Examples include Rule #26 of The Knights' Code: Always Carry a Blanket by Slightlytookish, in which Gwaine is not yet accustomed to the life of a knight so he sleeps in random places at night, and Lancelot worries about him.

Direct comparisons between Gwaine and Lancelot on everything from hair to clothing to their friendship with Merlin appeared almost immediately after the episode, and continued to be used strongly until the beginning of S4. For example, Starry_laa's The Super Secret Sexy Reject Knights' Club was a story told in macros that went into great detail about their similarities, including their attentions to Gwen.

Gwaine/Morgana

A charity kiss that inspired many Gwaine/Morgana graphics (photo by AliceMerlin)

Morgana had gone evil by the time Gwaine came on the scene, and her schemes against Camelot and its knights have inspired some dark fanworks, such as leashy_bebes's ficlet She's Such A Scream, in which Morgana has used magic to turn Gwaine and other knights into her sex slaves. In 4x12, Morgana imprisoned Gwaine with Elyan and Gaius and forced him to fight for food. That scene and even promo pics released before the episode inspired more shipping interest and works such as lastonthelist's fanvid S & M.

Other fans prefer to go the AU route and extrapolate on what could have been if Gwaine had arrived in Camelot sooner, or met Morgana in different circumstances. As such, some, such as the creator of this Morwaine gif set, Archived version see Gwaine as Morgana's potential saviour, while others such as ROBINandMARIANxoxo with vid stop and stare, go for a Queen/Knight relationship of courtly love.

As this anonymous gif set, Archived version illustrates, some people ship Gwaine and Morgana for their common hatred of certain aristocracy, or for their gorgeous angst and darkness, seen in Fuckyeahmorwaine wants to know, Archived version and Sweet Dreams

There are also complete AUs that are inspired more by the characters' personalities than by specific interactions on the show, such as the modern AU Concerto for Two Violins by lady_ragnell. In this orchestra!AU, the tension between Morgana and Gwaine is primarily tied to them not wanting to publicly acknowledge their relationship, their different personalities, and their different connections to Merlin and Arthur, who are in an established relationship but fighting. There is also Gwaine/Morgana Modern AU on Tumblr, which includes a charity promo image of Katie McGrath kissing Eoin Macken on the cheek while they're in costume.

Community for Morgana/Gwaine: Fuckyeahmorwaine (defunct), archive link

Gwaine/Lancelot/Merlin

Gwaine and Lancelot have both been referred to as Merlin's knights. They appeared in similar episodes and both slept in Merlin's bed due to injury. (Though some slash fans have happily interpreted that in a different way, especially as Gwaine woke up shirtless even though his injury was on his thigh.[14]) Therefore, both characters are sometimes interpreted as having a deep concern for Merlin, as in the dub-con work As fey would have it by Hope, where Gwaine brings Lancelot into his relationship with Merlin in order to help Merlin deal with a magic made them do it scenario.

Gwaine/Arthur/Merlin

This threesome combines the two most popular slash pairings in the fandom in S3 and S4. It is embraced by some fans, leading to PWP works like An Imbalance of Humours by Trojie and the dub-con, mind control series Magical sex slaves are fun! by Anon. Other fans produced more plot-heavy works that incorporate the underlying tension between the Merlin/Arthur and Merlin/Gwaine camps into the characters, such as The Springs of Grannus by Poetryofearth (a pre-slash quest) and Timshel by Pepperlandgirl (set during 3x08).

There was also a controversy at Merlingwainebar, one of the Merlin/Gwaine shipping comms, about what kinds of threesome fics could be posted. The rules now say:

“If you’re posting OT3 fics, Merlin/Gwaine/Other, the relationship between Merlin/Gwaine must not be inferior to Gwaine/Other or Merlin/Other. Same goes for RPS fics if it features Colin/Eoin/Other. If you have questions regarding that point, please PM one of the mods or post a question to page_a_mod.”[15]

Freya/Gwaine

A relatively small pairing in terms of fannish output, Freya/Gwaine represents the common Merlin tradition of pairing up secondary characters who never met in canon, especially in art or modern AUs. There is a Freya/Gwaine Tumblr, Freya-x-gwaine.

Lady_ragnell's modern AU These Inconvenient Fireworks is one such example, in which a nervous artist Freya (connected to her original character by a tendency to draw winged cats) is slowly courted by Gwaine while they prepare for Merlin and Arthur's wedding. The prompt was taken from kinkme_merlin, whose first prompt for this pairing was posted on November 13, 2010.[16] As of February, 2012, three of the four kink meme fills using this pairing also included Merlin/Arthur and were modern AUs.[17]

The exception is girl with a secret by Anon, which explores what pre-2x09 Freya/Gwaine might have looked like. The style of this work is more wistful and sad, in keeping with Freya's canonical arc.

Gwaine/Percival

Percival rescues Gwaine

In episode 4x01, Gwaine and Percival execute a plan to steal a chicken from the kitchens using Merlin's help. In 4x02, Percival saved Gwaine from a Dorocha by knocking him out of the way and landing on top of him. Those two seconds each of boyish escapades and chest to chest screen time resulted in a sudden kindling of interest in a pairing that had originally tended to receive background attention as yet another knight/knight combination.

An anonymous Tumblrite said:

"Okay, are the writers trying to make us ship the knights? I mean, that shot where Percival literally jumped on top of Gwaine... I totally ship them now.[18]

Srin made the implications of the moment clear:

"There was a split-second during that scene where I actually thought they were going to kiss. Oh show."[19]

Gwaine’s masterful, brilliant and fool-proof plan by eyebrowofdoom was written in direct response to the scene in 4x01, while yet more Gwaine/Percival works have appeared during and after S4.

Gwaine/OCs

Based on Arthurian stories, some fans have been looking to incorporate the Green Knight or Lady Ragnelle story arcs with this version of Sir Gwaine. Gwaine and The Green Knight's relationship is one of the major plot points in the long Arthur/Merlin fic The Ivy Crown by dayari.

Gwaine/apple (and other Gwaine/object)

In s4 Gwaine is often seen eating, or about to do so. In answer, fans have created the crack pairing of Gwaine/apple ("Gwapple"). GWAPPLE. by *91AuF92 (also see: community gwapple-love).

Gwaine/flower also exists, in answer to the promo shot and few times Gwaine was seen playing with flowers during S3. Gwaine+Flower OTP.gif by Naahzda

Gwaine/hair existed from episode reactions to 3x04 onward. Discussions of hair products abounded, and a vid named Gwaine Whips It Real Hard by randomthings5 was created. In fact, there appear to be multiple videos on Youtube set to the song "Whip My Hair".

Gwaine/Tentacles

Adventurous, unconventional Gwaine is also paired with tentacles, usually with Merlin involved somehow. In Fred by cat_77, Merlin and Gwaine fall into a lake. The subtitle is "Or, the one with the Magical MPreg Tentacle Monster".

Gwaine/Merlin, tentacle!porn by Anon. In response to the prompt “Gwaine/Merlin, one of them gets tentacles! I can see Gwaine being the sort to take this sort of unexpected development in his stride, whichever of them is affected, and experimenting enthusiastically! :D”

Examples of fanworks

Gwaine has inspired a great number of fanworks in a variety of mediums both before and after his official debut. Please note that most of the examples used in the sections above are not listed here.

Meta

Communities & Challenges

Crafts

Podfic

Vids

  • Gwaine Whips It Real Hard by randomthings5 - hilarious vid of s3!Gwaine set to Whip My Hair by Willow Smith.
  • Teenage Dream by buckaroo2019 - adorable s3!Merlin/Gwaine.
  • Get Over You by Fabella - wistful Gwaine/Merlin vid using 3x04 and 3x08.
  • Dynamite by JaimeR90 - awesome Gwaine-centered vid using 3x04 and 3x08.
  • S & M by lastonthelist - a Gwaine/Morgana vid using 4x12.
  • The Echo of Sins by ZhwecilNigumi - a Dark!Gwaine vid for Merlin Vidding Tournament Round 2.

Arts

Fics

Reclists

Picspam

Others

References

  1. TV REVIEW: Merlin Series 4, Episode 2 – The Darkest Hour (Pt 2), by Sharlene Mousfar. Accessed February 20, 2012.
  2. Merlingwainebar: 4.02 Episode discussion, comment by blue_eyed_1987.
  3. Merlin Confessions post by Anon. Accessed February 21, 2012. For other examples, see:
    http://merlinconfessions.tumblr.com/post/16750864282
    http://merlinconfessions.tumblr.com/post/15448460696
    http://merlinconfessions.tumblr.com/post/14612042867
    http://merlinconfessions.tumblr.com/post/14257974171
  4. Merlin 4x10 The Herald of a New Age, by Zahrawithaz.
  5. Gwaine, by Celeste9. "(interesting spelling... I am drawing a blank as to whether I've seen any version of the legend which spells it like that... I am pretty sure I haven't)." Accessed February 21, 2012.
  6. The Rise and Fall of the Broman Empire by rayslady. Story warnings include "shameless use of the correct spelling of 'Gawain'." Accessed February 21, 2021.
  7. Comment on Youtube video by marire1. Accessed February 21, 2012.
  8. Caught in a Slash Chapter 14 by PoisoningPigeonsinthePark. Accessed February 21, 2012.
  9. 9.0 9.1 letsey_x: Merlin ends up with a hot future knight in his bed. Again. (image heavy post) Charakitai comments: "OMG, the Lancelot episode and the Gwaine episode is the same frikkin episode! They even had the same shirt on for a while there! I had this nagging feeling that it felt familiar... but seeing it like this, it's uncanny! But whatevs, they were both pretty awsome." Accessed February 18, 2012.
  10. Procrasination Post!, by Pen_rabbit. Accessed February 18, 2012.
  11. I came into the merlin series as a merthur..., by Anon. Accessed February 18, 2012.
  12. I don't get why people ship Merthur, by Anon. Accessed February 18, 2012.
  13. honourable intentions podfic posted June 14, 2011; accessed Feb. 18, 2012.
  14. merlinxarthur: reaction post for episode 3x04: Gwaine. For example, "Ah, another strange man in Merlin's bed" by Katsgalore. Accessed February 18, 2012.
  15. Merlingwainebar - Community profile. Accessed February 18, 2012.
  16. Pinboard: Bookmark Detail, by kinkme_merlin mods. Accessed February 18, 2012.
  17. Pinboard: kinkme_merlin: Freya/Gwaine, by kinkme_merlin mods. Accessed February 18, 2012.
  18. Merlin Confesions, by Anon. Accessed February 18, 2012.
  19. Camelot_fleet: Measure your life in love (spoiler party!), comments by several people. Accessed February 18, 2012.