Episode 09: Character Study: Gwen

cover art in which Merlin wears a headset with microphone and holds up a finger to his lips as if to tell you to be quiet

In today’s episode, MissSnowFox and momo take a closer look at one of the show’s leading ladies, Gwen, and how her character developed over the seasons. The legendary Guinevere is introduced as well, and of course we also take a look at fanworks.

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Episode 06: Arthur
Episode 04: Merlin
Episode 05: Episode Review: Valiant

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The Consent Issues with Lancelot DuLac
More on how sexist Gwen’s treatment was in the aftermath of 4×09


AO3 stats on 12 Jan, 2018:

  • 5,677 works tagged with “Gwen (Merlin)”

Top 5 pairings:

  • 2,188 Gwen/Arthur
  • 1,242 Gwen/Lancelot
  • 931 Gwen/Morgana
  • 171 Gwen/Merlin
  • 138 Gwen/Merlin/Arthur

Further combinations*

  • 91 Gwen/Leon
  • 62 Gwen/Merlin/Arthur/Morgana
  • 32 Gwen/Lancelot/Merlin
  • 22 Gwaine/Gwen/Merlin
  • 15 Gwen/Lancelot/Morgana
  • 11 Gwen/Mithian
  • 11 Gwen/Uther
  • 9 Gwen/Arthur/Morgana
  • 9 Gwen/Morgause
  • 9 Freya/Gwen
  • 7 Gwen/Merlin/Morgana
  • 6 Elyan/Gwen
  • 5 Gaius/Gwen
  • 4 Gwen/Sefa
  • 3 Gwen/Mordred
  • 2 Elena/Gwen/Morgana
  • 2 Annis/Gwen
  • 2 Gwaine/Gwen/Merlin
  • 1 Freya/Gwen/Morgana
  • 1 Gwaine/Gwen/Lancelot/Merlin/Arthur
  • 1 Agravaine/Cenred/Elena/Gwen/Leon/Mordred/Owain
  • 1 Alator/Gwen/Helios
  • 1 Gwaine/Gwen/Percival
  • 1 Gwaine/Gwen/Arthur Pendragon
  • 1 Elyan/Gwen/Leon/Will
  • 1 Elena/Freya/Gwen/Mithian
  • 1 Elena/Freya/Gwen/Morgana/Sophia
  • 1 Elyan/Gwaine/Gwen/Lancelot/Leon/Merlin/Morgana/Arthur/Percival

*Disclaimer: Momo didn’t check all the combinations of Gwen with every single minor character.


Trouble of the Magical Kind by Tossuka
The Sidewalks of New York by emmbrancsxx0

Soldier On, by Ilovehertjes
Gwen {Calls Me Home}, by TwoSidesStudios

Dividing Our Grief, written by , podfic read by Jadesfire
Blood, Sweat, and Tears, written by tielan, podfic read by akikotree

6 thoughts on “Episode 09: Character Study: Gwen

  1. Hi, I think I misused the word “subtext” last time. It’s not that there is any subtext there, it’s just that in Latin America or at least my country in particular, any two characters of the same gender who could be taken in their interactions as if their friendship/bond/whatever was stronger than that of their main love interest, then that had to be cut out or changed in order to fit into the hetero-normative way of thinking. Like we’re talking about that nowadays where I live you can find people on the streets giving out flyers talking about how “sodomy” is a sin and to say no to gender equality which is just so ironic since the ones giving out this type of things are women.

    But yeah, getting back on to what this episode was about… I think that because when I saw the show for the first time I was between the ages of 10-12, then I didn’t really picked up on any mistreatment or lack of development on Gwen or any of the characters in general. I saw what they wanted me to see and I didn’t really question why they were written the way they were. Now, I can see the flaws that all of them have and through your discussions I’ve noticed a lot of things that actually bother me about it, even though I love it.

    I think that my main complain about Gwen is just how she just kind of becomes a secondary character which sometimes may speak up or not even though she is supposed to be this really important person since she’s like the Queen of Camelot and whatever not. It’s just the lack of opinions from her on almost any subject and how as misssnowfox said, that when she speaks up to Arthur it’s just so out of place for the setting it is supposed to be in. I love history too and I love seeing how well or how bad a show/movie can portray a certain era regardless if it’s not one I’m particularly interested in and, as you’ve pointed out, if they are going to be making such a big deal about class like when Merlin tells Arthur that if he buys him a drink they can call it even and then Arthur’s like “I’m the prince/king (I don’t remember exactly what he was at the time, sorry) I can’t be seen buying drinks for my servant”, so even if in those little aspects they’re going to be hammering the difference of class, then when Gwen lashes out at Arthur, then he “should” at the very least tell her to remember her place because she may be Queen but he IS the King, and like or not for the time period a comment like that wouldn’t have been out of place because the King is supposed to have the final say in anything, regardless of any advice given by anyone. Just… the lack of defining character traits for her in canon is really bothersome because she could’ve been so much more important and been such an interesting and defining character if they had developed her further than they did.

    Also regarding her in fic, I almost always like her because she’s just such a likable character with dreams and opinions and things she wants to do. Also, I haven’t really read any fics in which she’s dead so that was new for me, she is almost always Arthur’s ex or is linked to him in some way or another, be it because or Morgana or because she’s someone’s girlfriend or a PA or because someone knows here from somewhere. I also have to say that Leon/Gwen is something I do see quite often, so I was surprised that it actually doesn’t have that many fics, but it also doesn’t surprise me because most of the time she paired with Lancelot and there’s some really heavy pining on both sides.

    So I think that I just like her more as she’s portrayed in fic be it Modern or Canon, because they usually give her a more interactive or involved character than they did on the actual show.

    Oh and misssnowfox, if you do read The Sidewalks of New York, please say what you think of it, it’s just such a great fic and I’d love to hear/read your thoughts on it.

  2. I’ve been in fandom since almost the beginning and my impression was that there were a lot more canon fic (fix-it fic) while the show was going on and not as much modern AU until the show was nearly over and we could see where it was going. Also we had a lot of ‘big name’ writers early on that wrote canon that moved on after the first couple of years. I honestly prefer canon to read and to write and mourn the dearth of canon fics these days. There seems to be a whole lot of modern stuff which, while well-written, doesn’t really do it for me.
    FYI, in season 2 in the Witchfinder, she and Merlin investigate what was going on (one of my favorite scenes with Gwen of all the episodes) – loved Team Merwen. I wish we had had more of that Gwen because it would have been awesome.
    Momo, I disagree about what you said about her treatment by everyone when she’s found kissing zombie Lance. She would have been treated like a pariah, would have been killed in real life, and I could see why everyone would have stayed away when she left. Banishment was the least Arthur could do, from an emotional POV and a king’s POV. I found Arthur very much a king when he banished her.
    Am enjoying your podcasts!

  3. Hello again 🙂
    This was a very interesting episode. It took me a few days to think about all the things you said and the things I never realized or even the things I see the same way and feel relieved to not be the only one, feeling like this.

    So, I’m not a fan of Gwen’s character. Before Gwen and I could even start to connect, her character became more and more unlikable for me. I think if you’re connected with a character, you can look beyond mistakes or weird character traits but if you didn’t have the chance, there is not much hope.
    But my reasons are different which made me wonder, if I’m wrong about this or if others have the same problem with Gwen as a character, so I thought I share my thoughts with you 🙂
    I usually need more time, to connect to female characters, then to male characters. Morgana, for example, became more and more interesting for me, the more season I watched. I think I can’t handle the classic, weak female character. The damsel in distress. I totally block when a female character fits into this role. I think this is why my start with Morgana was „naaaah“ and became better when I learned that she is not the sweet, little princess character I thought she would be. But Gwen. Well, Gwen is a classic damsel in distress. I don’t even bother to believe the few scenes in which they want to convince me otherwise anymore (like In the Moment of Truth or Sword in the Stone). Sure, Arthur has to get saved all the time too, but never in a „Damsel in distress sort of way“. For Gwen, just think of To Kill the King, Lancelot and Guinevere, The Castle of Fyrien, Queen of Hearts, The Darkest Hour 2, The Hunter’s Heart, The Dark Tower and actually again in With All My Heart.
    It might just be my dislike for these kinds of female characters and maybe others never saw in her the Damsel in Distress and especially not in the episodes I named, but for me, she was and this is why her character became more unlikable to me with every episode. Of course, there were more things I didn’t like but you named most of it already and I’m very thankful for this.

    But god forbid I’m not here just to rant about a character. I’ll make it up by recommending a beautiful fanfiction for Gwen 🙂
    It’s the fic „The Return of Magic (upon dragon’s wings)“ by katherynefromphilly on ao3. It’s a mostly Gwen centric post-canon fanfiction that made me cry like a little girl.

    I wish the two of you a nice evening and as always and keep up the great work 😀

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