Morgana Pendragon, also known as Morgana, was the tritagonist-turned main antagonist on the BBC series Merlin. She is the daughter of Uther Pendragon and the half-sister of Arthur Pendragon and Morgause. Initially being an innocent ward of Uther who had spoken out against his actions on those who practice sorcery, she eventually discovered she had magic. At the start of Season 3 onwards, she became the main antagonist of the series.
She was portrayed by Irish actress Katie McGrath.
Morgana started off being a very kind woman who was Uther's ward. However, unknown to her at the time she was actually his daughter and half-sister of Arthur. Morgana had a close friendship with her maidservant Gwen, Arthur and Merlin at this point in time.
Morgana eventually discovered that she had the gift of prophecy which was something that frightened her immensely. When she slept, she would have nightmares foreseeing the future of those in Camelot and the people she cared about. She sought the help of Gaius but this did nothing to stop her prophetic dreams because he only helped by giving her a sleeping draught. Morgana would also join in Merlin's adventures such as rescuing Camelot from a plague and meeting a young Druid boy named Mordred who she bonded instantly with.
Morgana showed resistance to Uther's rule and disliked his hatred of magic and how he executed those who wielded the power. Uther eventually imprisoned her and executed Gwen's father driving her to plan his assassination. In this occasion she also accused Uther of having abandoned her (supposed) father Gorlois in the battlefield years before, causing his death. She stopped when Uther showed he cared for her when they visited her supposed birth father's grave together.
Morgana started to panic after several events revealed that she does have magial powers that recently awakened. When she woke from a frightening dream, she created a fire that burned her curtain drapes. She confided this in Merlin which led the two of them to become closer as he thought that this made them alike and he understood her fears. Merlin suggested that she visit the Druids but this plan didn't work when Arthur and his soldiers invaded the camp, believing that the Druids had kidnapped her instead of her willingly searching for them. She eventually accepted that magic could be used for good.
Morgana eventually met her half-sister Morgause after the latter defeated Arthur in a duel. Morgana tells her that she wants Uther dead and Morgause makes her the source of a sleeping plague without telling her. When Merlin learned about this, he tried to kill her reluctantly using poison; however, much to their surprise, Morgause showed up to save Morgana and took care of her for a year. Morgause then used this time to corrupt Morgana, turning her evil further.
It should be noted that even before Morgause corrupted her into the evil sorceress she would later become, Morgana herself had become resentful on Uther since his crusade against magical beings or those whom possess powers or knowledge of sorcery. And with her now revealed to have magic, Morgana's resent on Uther became hate, which contributed to her turn to the dark side and Morgause merely did the rest. She also helped train Morgana hone her powers and help control them.
However it should also be noted that Morgana simply hated Uther, not the whole of Camelot and she never intended to take the throne until Morgause planted the idea in her mind.
Morgana returned to Camelot pretending that she still cared about her former friends. She pretended that she had forgiven Merlin for poisoning her as she understood his reasonings. Her true feelings are eventually revealed and Morgana as scheming to overthrow Uther so she could have the throne, especially since she learned that Uther was her illegimate father when still in a coma due to Merlin accidently causing her fall from the stairs. Merlin tried to help her see sense but she continued working with Morgause. However only Merlin knew of her double-agent status as he could not reveal her actual agenda without proof or he would have been executed for suggesting that Uther's ward had magic and wanted to kill him.
Morgana and Morgause eventually were able to take over Camelot using the army of King Cenred, who had offered his allegiance to their plight. Morgause killed Cenred after they acquired the Cup of Life, which made the army they had acquired immortal. Morgana killed a large number of townspeople to force the knights to be loyal to her. Morgana was defeated by Merlin, Arthur and Gwen, causing her and a wounded Morgause to flee for the time being.
A year later, Morgana desired revenge on Arthur and all of Camelot. She sacrificed her sister to the Underworld in order to release spirits on Camelot. Morgana then formed an alliance with Agravaine in hopes of destroying Camelot. Morgana killed Uther but would not be satisfied until Arthur was dead so she could claim her rightful place as Camelot's queen. Some of her schemes with Agravaine included attempting to kill Arthur in a duel, brainwashing Merlin and using him to kill Arthur and having Gwen exiled by forcing her to have an affair with the revived Lancelot. Lancelot had been reawaken using necromancy but he was only an empty vessel with Lancelot's face and none of his characteristics or memories. Morgana wanted Gwen exiled because she claimed that Camelot's only Queen was herself and that nobody would be able to occupy that place.
Morgana took over Camelot again with the help of a warlord named Helios and became queen. Her reign was very short because Merlin and Arthur overthrew her army. Morgana was wounded in battle after attempting to escape. She met a dragon named Aithusa who healed her injuries.
Season 5Morgana then used magic on Gwen, turning her evil temporarily. She brainwashed her by trapping her in a tower with mandrakes which made her hallucinate that all those she loved were against her. She then ordered to Gwen to kill Arthur by putting poison in his food. Morgana did this so she could get throne and then planned on killing Gwen if the plan worked.
During the final battle against Morgana, Arthur was on the verge of death after being stabbed by her ally Mordred with a sword forged in dragon's breath (the dragon being Aithusa). Percival and Gwaine attempted to kill Morgana by stabbing her but she captured them. Morgana killed Gwaine and found where Arthur was heading because she tortured him to death. Morgana encountered Arthur and Merlin and attacked them. She taunted Arthur by saying that she would watch as death claimed him but Merlin stopped her. Morgana replied by saying that she couldn't be harmed by ordinary weapons because she was a high priestess. Merlin then stabbed Morgana with Excalibur, which was forged with dragon's breath, causing her death.
Powers and Abilities
Morgana was shown to be a very powerful witch capable of performing feats such as telekinesis, mind control and necromancy. She also had the capability of seeing the future via prophetic dreams and was a skilled swordswoman though she preferred using magic in combat (as Morgana's swordswoman skills were ultimately inferior to her half-brother, Arthur's swordsman skills). After she turned evil she became skilled in torturing and even brainwashing people using both plants and creatures with magic properties (such as mandrake roots and the Fomorroh) and her own powers. For all her infamous power, Morgana was vastly inferior to Emrys in terms of magic during the majority of the series. She was rendered almost catatonic with fear by the very sight of him in Season 4. In season 5, her magic grew in power and it was said that it might equal Emrys' power one day (however, this was very unlikely to happen, because unlike Morgana; Emrys is half-human and half-magical creature of the old religion). Morgana had a high sense of self-preservation and was not above begging for her life and hiding behind others to achieve her ends. She was also quite able to charm and manipulate others, at first most of her former friends and later, when her true nature was discovered, present and possible future allies.
- She is based on the witch of the same name in Arthurian legend.
- In the TV series, Morgana is never known by her full name in the legend, "Morgana Le Fay".
- In the legend, she was also known as "Morgan" or "Morgaine".
- In the show she and Arthur Pendragon share the same father, Uther, while in many legends they have the same mother.
- Morgana's actress, Katie McGrath almost didn't get the role of Morgana. Because she and co-star Colin Morgan (Merlin) are both Irish, the casting directors didn't want two actors with the same accent and they were ready to decline Katie if she couldn't do an English accent only Colin beat her to it and they both got their roles.
- Her design is very similar to the singer Amy Lee and some Disney villainesses like the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.