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Baldrick, believe me, eternity in the company of Beelzebub and all his hellish instruments of death will be a picnic compared to five minutes with me – and THIS pencil.
~ Edmund Blackadder, Esq.
Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words ‘I have a cunning plan’ marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?
~ Edmund Blackadder, Esq.

Edmund Blackadder is the name given to several characters all being the main protagonist of the BBC franchise Blackadder, although he is the titular "hero" of the series he is normally depicted as a very morally dubious anti-hero who became an outright protagonist villain during his "third" incarnation. His name is based on the character from King Lear, Edmund the Bastard.

The premise of the show is showing different versions of Edmund Blackadder from varied time-periods, most of these incarnations are extremely selfish, cynical and at times capable of malice - however like many anti-heroes he avoided becoming a complete monster by the fact that he fought against people worse than himself (that is, when villainous characters other than himself appeared of course..).

He is portrayed by the legendary British actor Rowan Atkinson (who also played Mr. Bean and Zazu).

Prince Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh

In his first incarnation, he is the youngest son of the fictional King Richard IV and the Duke of Edinburgh. Edmund is also the great-nephew of King Richard III whom he accidentally kills at the Battle of Bosworth Field. This resulted in Richard IV becoming King. Since he is not held in high regard by his father, Prince Blackadder's aim is to become King of England. He recruits some followers named the 'Six Most Evil Men in the Kingdom', who then betray him to Blackadder's rival, Philip of Burgundy. As a result, Blackadder is tortured and badly mutilated. His minions Baldrick and Percy poison the wine which is fed to Philip and his men but unwittingly poison the whole batch of wine. As a result, the royal family are poisoned. Blackadder, who is finally King, drinks the wine and dies. This makes him a tragic villain. This version of Blackadder is the closest to Edmund from King Lear.

Lord Edmund Blackadder

The second incarnation of Blackadder was Lord Blackadder, a courtier to Queen Elizabeth I. Lord Blackadder has a rivalry with fellow courtier Lord Melchett and they often fight over who gets to be the Queen's favorite. This incarnation of Blackadder saw him as vain and selfish, but he was able to defeat villains such as the Bishop of Bath and Wells. While he foiled Prince Ludwig's plan, Ludwig got the better of Blackadder and killed him.

Edmund Blackadder, Esq.

The third incarnation was a change from the previous, this Blackadder did not possess any nobility and instead served as the butler of George, Prince of Wales. He manage to use the Prince's general stupidity and gullibility to his advantage such as after killing the Scarlet Pimpernel claiming he was the real Scarlet Pimpernel and being rewarded cash by the Prince. After Prince George was threatened to a duel by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, Blackadder and Prince George switched roles and Blackadder pretended to be Prince George. After Blackadder survived the duel with Wellesley, he decided to continue the facade when Prince George came back and attempted to explain he was really the Prince. Wellesley proceeded to murder Prince George and Blackadder continued to be the Prince Regent.

Captain Edmund Blackadder

The fourth and final main incarnation was trapped in the trenches of World War I and a captain in the British Army under General Melchett. Unlike his prior incarnation, this Blackadder just wanted to escape the war and the inevitable death it would bring, this resulted in him attempting to either trick General Melchett or attempt another method that would ensure his not being in the trenches, often resulting in his butting heads with General Melchett's right-hand man, Captain Kevin Darling. Ultimately, Blackadder was unable to escape the trenches and, alongside Lieutenant George, Private Baldrick, and the recently betrayed Captain Darling, he went over the trench and was presumably killed by German gunfire. However, it was later revealed that he managed to survive by playing dead.

Other Incarnations

Besides the four main incarnations from the television show, they have been other Blackadders throughout British history protrayed in the show's specials.

Sir Edmund Blackadder

This Blackadder starred in the Red Nose Day special, The Cavalier Years.

Here, Blackadder and Baldrick were the last two remaining loyalists of King Charles I during the English Civil War. After Baldrick reveals the hiding spot of King Charles to Oliver Cromwell and his men, King Charles is locked in the tower of London and being prepared for execution. Blackadder later finds out Baldrick had taken the job of executioner for King Charles after nobody else wanted to do it. When Blackadder discovers there would be a £1000 payout, he takes over for Baldrick and disguises himself as executioner. He is, however, discovered by King Charles and so attempts to save him by adopting Baldrick's previous plan and pretending to cut off King Charles's head using a pumpkin with a drawn-on face. This fails and Blackadder ultimately decides to kill King Charles.

Later after hiding King Charles's son, Blackadder's house is surrounded by Cromwell and his men. Blackadder gives King Charles's son to Baldrick and pulls off his wig and beard to reveal a disguise. As Cromwell and his men barge in, Blackadder points at Baldrick and shouts "Seize the royalist scum!"

Ebenezer Blackadder

This Blackadder starred in Blackadder's Christmas Carol, a Christmas-day special and parody of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Unlike every Blackadder showed before, this Blackadder is friendly and described as the "kindest and loveliest man in all England." He was similar to the third and fourth series incarnations in that he wasn't a noble and instead ran a shop in London. His generosity is often taken advantage of by the local citizenry.

On Christmas Eve night, he is visited by the Spirit of Christmas who attempts to congratulate him on his good ways by contrasting it with his ancestors Lord Edmund Blackadder and Edmund Blackadder, Esq. from the second and third series. However, instead of seeing himself as better than them, he admires them for their cunning and wit and asks to be shown what his ancestors' lives will be like if he acted like them. The Spirit does so, revealing if he acted like his ancestors then his distant descendant Grand Admiral Blackadder will become ruler of the Universe. If he continued to be generous his descendant would become a slave under Grand Admiral Baldrick, who would be too stupid and fail at ruling the Universe.

Blackadder decides to be a bad guy after this and when he wakes up on Christmas Day, insults everybody he meets including visiting Queen Victoria and her Prince Consort, Albert who had come to award him £50,000 and the title Baron Blackadder for his good deeds. Ensuring a prosperous future for his descendants, but delivering a severe blow to himself.

Grand Admiral Blackadder

In the future where his descendant, Ebenezer Blackadder, turned to evil; this Blackadder served as Thrice-endowed Supreme Donkey of the Trouserpod, Lord of the High-Slung Bottoms of Zob, and Grand Admiral of the Dark Segment of Queen Asphyxia XIX's fleet. Alongside his slave, Baldrick, he killed Asphyxia's three husbandoids and married Queen Asphyxia, becoming ruler of the Universe.

Slave Blackadder

In the future where his descendant, Ebenezer Blackadder, remained good; this Blackadder was the slave to Grand Admiral Baldrick, who wiped out his own fleet and failed to marry into power.

Lord Edmund Blackadder V

This Blackadder starred in Blackadder: Back and Fourth, a short film and last major production of the Blackadder franchise.

This Blackadder is the modern descendant of the Blackadder dynasty and is planning a turn-of-the-millennium prank on his friends Archbishop Melchett, Archdeacon Kevin Darling, Major George, and Lady Elizabeth by pretending he has built a working time machine and handing them fake gifts which he claims are from historical figures and events from history. However, the time machine works much to Blackadder and Baldrick's surprise.

They end up changing history by:

  • Having Baldrick kill a Tyrannosaurus with the odor of his underpants.
  • Accidentally leaving his biro with William Shakespeare.
  • Convincing Robin Hood's men to listen to him, causing Robin's men to kill him with arrows.
  • Landing the Time Machine on top of the Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington during the battle of Waterloo and squashing him to death, resulting in the defeat of the English army, thus making Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte ruler of England.

When they return to discover their actions caused the United Kingdom to be ruled by the French, Robin Hood to have never been famous, and Shakespeare is famous for inventing the biro instead of his sonnets and poems; Blackadder and Baldrick go back to revert their actions.

After he is done, the United Kingdom is once again British, Robin Hood remains a legend, Shakespeare is a famous poet, and Blackadder is King.

Centurion Blaccadicus

While Lord Blackadder and Baldrick were first traveling through history, they landed next to Hadrian's wall preparing for an attack by oncoming Scots. Here they also encountered Centurion Blaccadicus, member of the Roman forces who also consisted of Legionary Baldricus, Consul Georgius, and General Melchius. This Blackadder was capable of speaking both English and Latin and was glad to hear the news that the Senate had ordered they return to Rome, but not so glad of the news the Scots were advancing towards them.

King Edmund III

Following Blackadder's meddling of time and history, he is now the King of the United Kingdom on New Year's Eve 1999 with an approval rating of 98%. He is married to Queen Marian (whether this is the Maid Marian of Robin Hood's or her descendant is never elaborated) and is good friends with Prime Minister Baldrick. Elections have been abolished and it can be assumed Blackadder is now the dictator of the UK.

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