Everything You Need to Remember About WILLOW Before the Series Starts

The 1988 classic Willow is finally getting a sequel series! Whether you’ve seen the movie dozens of times or not at all, here’s everything you need to know about the magical world.

Jump to: Willow‘s Main Characters // Willow‘s World // Willow‘s Magical Powers // 1988’s Movie Ending // The Disney+ Willow Sequel Series
The Blu-ray cover art for Ron Howard's 1988 epic fantasy film Willow.

The Main Characters of Willow 

Willow Ufgood

Our hero, played by Warwick Davis, is a farmer. He performs sleight-of-hand magic but aspires to be a sorcerer. His wife and children rescue a baby and their village is attacked shortly thereafter. Willow is tasked with taking the baby home, which turns into an epic quest. Davis, who was only 18 in the movie, returns for the TV series.

Willow raising his hands

Madmartigan would describe himself as a master swordsman but according to his friend Airk he is a thief and a rogue. Though he is at first untrustworthy, he becomes a loyal friend. Val Kilmer’s cameo in Maverick gives some hope he’ll appear in the series, but he has not acted much recently for health reasons.

Val Kilmer as Madmartigan in Willow
Queen Bavmorda

Following a prophecy that a baby will bring about her downfall, the queen searches the land for the right child. When the baby escapes, she sends Death Dogs and then her daughter Sorsha to hunt it down so she can use magic to banish its soul.


Sorsha is a warrior princess who eventually works with the forces of good against her mother. She defects after falling for Madmartigan’s charms. Sorsha appears in the series, again played by Joanne Whalley.

Sorsha and Fin Raziel is a scene from the movie Willow
Fin Raziel

Raziel is a sorceress Queen Bavmorda turned into a possum and exiled to an island in a lake decades earlier. 

Elora Danan

The red-haired baby at the center of this tale, Elora’s birthmark declares her the chosen one to rule the land and dethrone Bavmorda. She tells the fairies her name and chooses Willow as her guardian.

Franjean and Rool
Two Brownies in the grass in the movie Willow

At the request of the fairy queen, these two accompany Willow on his mission. Kevin Pollak’s Rool does appear in the trailers.

Willow‘s World 

Willow, Elora Dannan, Madmartigan, and the Brownies walk over a rise above a lake in the movie Willow

Queen Bavmorda rules the land of Nockmaar and has already defeated nearby Tir Asleen and is waging war with Galladoorn. She, and other characters played by actors of average height, belong to the group called Daikini. Nelwyn like Willow are people of short stature. Until Elora arrives in their village, they were safe and unnoticed by the queen. The Brownies, less than a foot tall, live with the similarly sized fairies.

Jump to: Willow‘s Main Characters // Willow‘s World // Willow‘s Magical Powers // 1988’s Movie Ending // The Disney+ Willow Sequel Series

The Magical Powers of Willow 

Every race uses magic to some degree. The fairy queen Cherlindrea gives Willow her magic wand to pass on to Raziel. The Brownies carry a fairy dust love potion, which turns Madmartigan and Sorsha from enemies to lovers.  

Willow uses a glowing magic wand to transform an ostrich into a peacock in the movie Willow

The Nelwyn sorcerer, called the High Aldwin, uses the finger test to choose an apprentice. When Willow fails, The High Aldwin teaches him that the first step is to follow his instincts. The sorcerer “consults the bones,” but it is just for show.

Willow is able to use the fairy’s magic wand, though not reliably. After rescuing possum Raziel from the island, he uses it to make her human again. But first she morphs into a series of animals in what was, at the time, cutting edge ILM computer animation. Willow also turns a troll into a two-headed nightmare dragon. Based on the show’s trailers, there are many other magical creatures in the land.

Queen Bavmorda, played by Jean Marsh, in Willow

Bavmorda’s powers include transmogrification. She turns an entire army into pigs, which Raziel fixes once she can finally hold the magic wand. The queen also tosses people into the air and shoots fire from her fingertips. Bavmorda sets up an elaborate spell to destroy Elora, but ends up banishing herself instead.

Where Did the 1988 Willow Movie Leave Us? 

Willow‘s happy ending leaves Elora with Sorsha and Madmartigan as the new royal family of Tir Asleen. Their quest to destroy evil accomplished, the unlikely fellowship of Daikini, Nelwyn, and Brownies disbands. Raziel gifts Willow a spellbook and he returns home a hero.

Willow cast

How the 2022 Series Fits Into Willow‘s Timeline 

The Willow series is a sequel to the movie, with some actors returning nearly 35 years later. Although a new featurette has confirmed that the Willow series actually takes place only 20 years after the movie. Though we know some of the new character names, there’s a lot we don’t know about the plot. There was a trilogy of novels that came out in the ’90s that could provide some storylines.

Willow logo for the new Disney+ series.

Do yourself a favor and watch Willow on Disney+. The movie holds up remarkably well! The eight episode series debuts November 30, 2022, also on Disney+.

Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She still has a crush on Val Kilmer that started with Willow. Melissa also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth. 

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