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Come back! Come back, you fools! Come back! Come back and fight! Dogs aren't dangerous!
~ Woundwort's last words before fighting the dog and disappearing without a trace.
I'll... Never stop, Hazel! NEVER!
~ Woundwort's last words to Hazel before he was taken by the Black Rabbit of Inlé in the show.
We fear no Elil. I fear no dog. I fear nothing.
~ Woundwort's last words before fighting the dog and disappearing in the miniseries.

General Woundwort is the main antagonist of the 1972 Richard Adams book Watership Down, its 1978 animated film adaptation by Martin Rosen, its 1999-2001 television series, and its 2018 BBC and Netflix miniseries adaptation. He is a savage, vicious and powerful rabbit who is the tyrannical leader and chief rabbit of the warren Efrafa.

Portrayals

Personality

General Woundwort is the cruel, brutal, arrogant, domineering and tyrannical overlord of Efrafa, ruling with an iron claw, and is very cunning, but also extremely powerful and truly menacing. He is willing to face many dangers himself, fighting predators such as weasels, stoats, and once a cat. He inspires his fellow rabbits to do the same; the General's refrain is that such animals "aren't dangerous". He seems to feel more comfortable fighting threats than running from them.

He is capable of keeping his courage and wits about him when danger and the unexpected occur. However, his rage clouds his judgement, and he occasionally lacks common sense, such as when he launched himself at the Nuthanger Farm guard dog (although we never saw the outcome, it is assumed the dog killed him). However, he does have his limits; he wouldn't take on a fox and Kehaar the seagull was a bit more than he could handle. However, he is extremely suspicious to the point of paranoia and inflexibility; even when Efrafa faces a desperate situation because the population continually increases beyond the warren's ability to contain it, he refuses to allow further digging to expand living space or any of its inhabitants to leave, and as a result Efrafa appears on the verge of explosion or collapse.

Being the savage brute he is, Woundwort lives by a concept of "power from strength", believing that leadership be given to the strongest rabbits. This is seen in the scene when Woundwort discovers that Bigwig is not Watership's chief rabbit, and Woundwort is afraid of a rabbit that could be bigger and stronger than Bigwig.

For all his flaws however, Woundwort does show a strong sense of duty to his warren, taking over digging for the doe's while they rest and personally looking out for threats instead of always relying on his underlings. He also rewards loyalty by showing admirable loyalty in return. In the TV series, when Vervain was trapped whilst the Efrafens were trying to escape a collapsing tunnel, Woundwort personally went back to rescue him.

Woundwort also shows such respect for Campion in that series that after the latter betrayed him, Woundwort briefly considered changing his ways because Campion, despite being a traitor, had saved his life. Ironically it was Hazel, who had wanted peace with Woundwort all along, ensured that the General would never find redemption by continuing the war without giving Woundwort a chance to negotiate.

Appearance

Woundwort's physical description varies in the different adaptions of Watership Down. However, in all versions, he is depicted as an exceptionally large, strong and muscular rabbit, larger than any other rabbit in the storyline (in the book he is described as being "almost as big as a hare").

In the original novel, Woundwort is described as a savage-looking rabbit with long, sharp claws and pale eyes. However, no description is given on his fur colour.

In the film, Woundwort is depicted as a brown rabbit with a dark green right eye, while his left is blind. He is the only rabbit who is shown with extra teeth. He shares the other characteristics of the other movie Efrafans, including a darker colour, a more ragged appearance, prominent claws, and dark circles under his eyes.

In the TV series, Woundwort is very dark brown (though for some reason he is changed to grey in the third season), with ragged fur, notched ears, a blood red right eye and a blind left eye.

In the Netflix miniseries, Woundwort has ragged, dark grey fur and numerous scars, most notably a long, red gash over his blind left eye, which is white while his good eye is amber. Both his ears are damaged; the right one has a few small bits missing from the sides, while the left has a huge chunk missing from near the top.

Abilities

General Woundwort is an extraordinarily powerful fighter by rabbit standards, and is arguably the deadliest fighter in any adaption of Watership Down.

Woundwort's massive size gives him a significant advantage over most opponents; it is said that he won almost every fight of his life by using his weight. In all his life, he has never been bestd by another rabbit. In the original novel, Woundwort has slain the leaders of other warrens personally and defeated groups of other rabbits all by himself on more than one occasion.

In the climax of all but one adaption, Woundwort also comes very close to killing Bigwig in single combat, despite the latter using a surprise attack on him. In the TV series, during one of his "daily exercises", Woundwort is able to defeat three members of his Owsla at once effortlessly, and later defeats five Efrafan captains at once as a show of strength. He also overpowers the Darkhaven warriors Granite, Shale and Felspar at once easily.

Woundwort's fighting prowess rivals or even surpasses that of Eil (a rabbit's natural enemies) in some cases. In the original novel, he has fought and defeated a cat, a crow, a stoat, and an Aberdeen puppy, respectively, as well as rats, magpies, and grey squirrels. Also, in the climax of all but one adaption, Woundwort fearlessly stands his ground against a powerful farm dog, despite being wounded and exhausted from his fight with Bigwig. Although his body is never found, making it unclear if he survives the battle, he manages to injure the dog severely enough that it soon returns home.

In the TV series, Woundwort also fights off two weasels, individually, and slays a hawk all by himself, not even attempting to take cover but instead facing them in direct combat. Campion also revealed that Woundwort and his soldiers fought and killed a fox, and subsequently used the skull of said fox as a warning to other enemies.

In the Miniseries, Woundwort's strength is more than enough to take on Bigwig, though his hind-leg wound from Bigwig's ambush possibly made him slower. Even with this injury, Woundwort manages to fight Bigwig to a standstill. Even with all of his wounds, he still has enough strength to launch himself at Bob the Rottweiler.

In addition to his incredible fighting skills, Woundwort is highly intelligent and cunning; he is an excellent tactician and manipulator.

Quotes

Movies

(Campion: A young doe has a request, sire.) A doe wants to see me? (Campion: Says she represents a group, sire.) I see. Your name? (Hyzenthlay: Hyzenthlay, sir.) Don't be frightened. You're safe here. Get on with it! (Hyzenthlay: Sir, several of us proposed an expedition to start... a new warren somewhere else.) A new warren? Out of the question. (Hyzenthlay: But, you don't understand. The system is breaking down.) Explain that. (Hyzenthlay: We can't produce litters. We're overcrowded.) I want no further discussion. (Hyzenthlay: We'll go as far as you like.) Here or anywhere else. (Hyzenthlay: Thank you, sir.) Campion, have her watched.
~ Woundwort rejects Hyzenthlay's ideas.
(Campion: Sir, we've picked up this hlessi and brought him in.) Who are you ? (Bigwig: My name is Bigwig) (Campion: Bigwig, sir!) What were you doing? (Bigwig: I've come to join Efrafa.) Why ? (Bigwig: I'm suprised you ask. Sir.) Hmm. (Bigwig: Is there anything odd about wainting to join?) I'll ask the questions. What can you do ? Hmm? (Bigwig: I can run and fight.) Hmm. Fight, can you? (Bigwig: I'v been an officer in an Owsla.) So, you came to join us? (Bigwig: I thought you might have some news for me.) Well, for the time being you'll be assigned a post in a patrol. You'll take orders frome Captain Campion. And if you. Uh. Want a doe...you have choice here. You're not an officer for nothing. (Bigwig: Thank you, sir.) And. Uh. You'll be identified...by your mark.
~ Woundwort meets Bigwig come infiltrated Efrafa.
Bigwig! That white bird you were talking to this morning...(Bigwig: Talking to, sir?) You were very close to it. Why? (Bigwig: Well, I've never been hurt by a bird.) That's not what I asked. (Bigwig: To tell you the truth, sir, I think I was trying to impress you.) In future, stay in your own mark. (Bigwig: Sir.) One more thing: What do you know about a homba? (Bigwig: A homba, sir?) You led it onto some rabbits? (Bigwig: I didn't intend to. I didn't know they were there.) You didn't report it. Everything out of the ordinary is to be reported. (Bigwig: I didn't know running from a homba was out of the ordinary.) That was a patrol on the track of a band of strangers. Do you know anything about them? (Bigwig: I saw some tracks, but I can't tell you anymore than that, sir.) I'm taking out a wide patrol tomorrow. We'll cross the iron road and try to pick up their tracks. I want you to come along. (Bigwig: Yes, sir.) (Watch Bigwig go away and talk to Campion) Campion, follow him. Don't let him out of your sight.
~ Woundwort begin to beware of Bigwig after seeing him talking to Kehaar.
(Campion: The new officer, sir, he's gone.) Bigwig? (Campion: He's wounded Sherbil and taken a crowd of the mark with him.) Embleer Frith! I'll blind him. I'LL BLIND HIM!
~ Woundwort become enraged when he learns Bigwig's betrayal.
Bigwig, you traitorous...! Campion, get this miserable group back to their Marks. I'll settle you myself, Bigwig. There's no need to take you back. (Bigwig: Come on and try, you cracked-brain slave driver!)
~ Woundwort confronts Bigwig.
Get away, you damned white bird!
~ Woundwort attacked by Kehaar.
You were one of those on the riverbank. Did Bigwig send you? (Hazel: I'm a friend of Bigwig's.) What was left unfinished on the riverbank will be finished now. (Hazel: It would be better for both of us if we could come to terms.) Terms?... Very well. These are my terms. Hand over all the deserters immediately. (Hazel: We couldn't agree to that. But I can suggest something better, for both of us...) You're in no position to bargain. (Hazel: We shouldn't be fighting each other. We have enough enemies as it is. Perhaps we should be together. A joining of free, independent warrens.) Ah, I have no time for this nonsense! (Campion: Shall I kill him, sir?) No. You take back our terms. And you tell your chief, Bigwig, that if he and Hyzenthlay and the others aren't waiting outside when I come for them, I'll tear out every throat in the place!
~ Woundwort deny Hazel's request for peace.
(Bigwig: I told you once, I was trying to impress you. I hope I have.) And I told you that I would kill you myself. There's no white bird here, Bigwig.

~ Woundwort fight Bigwig in Watership Down.

TV Series

Nothing's impossible for Woundwort. Nothing can kill me. Nothing in the air, or the woods. Nothing in this world, or in the shadow land beyond!
~ Woundwort in the TV Series.
Surrender, Hazel. Perhaps I'll let some of your Warren live. (Hazel: We stand or fall here, Woundwort.) Then you will die. Attack
~ Woundwort invades Watership Down.
I'll find you outsider! The world isn't a big enough place to hide, I'll hunt you till Frith falls from the sky outsider! Do you hear me?!
~ Woundwort's threat towards Hazel.
There is only Woundwort witness the truth. [Fight and take advantage of Bigwig] This is how it ends, Bigwig. (Campion: NO!) [Campion attacks him from behind] Campion? (Campion: Forgive me, general.) [Him and Campion fights and then Campion flees with the other rabbits] (Vervain: See. See. I...I told sir. I knew it all along he's a traitor to Efrafa.) STOP THEM. [...] Campion! (Campion: Yes, sir?) You betrayed me, Campion. I TEAR YOU APART.
~ Woundwort fights Bigwig and discovers the treason of Campion, before his former captain is crushed by a rock in his place.
Campion, you betrayed me. Because of you, Efrafa was lost. (Campion: I've been expecting you, General.) And all this time, I tought you were dead. (Campion: Like you, sir. I'm hard to kill.) Then let's try it again shall we. I challenge you to fight in single combat for the chieftainship of Dark Haven. Come Campion. Fight me. I'll send you to meet the Black Rabbit of Inle.
~ Woundword to Campion.
Called me General Woudwort. Dark One sounds rather melodramatic.
~ Woundwort become the leader of Darhaven.
Why did you run Campion? (Campion: Because I can't defeat you in single combat, Woundwort. We both know that.) [Woundwort laugh] You were never a fool. That's what made you to find this captain of Owsla, I have ever know. [...] You saved my life at the battle of the caverns...I returned you the favor. You may leave Darkhaven. (Campion: Sir, I wish to stay and serve you.) Why? (Campion: Because I have nowhere to go.) (Vervain: Don't trust him, sir. He knows where to find Hazel's Warren. If he truly wants to join us he'll tell us where it is.) (Campion: These injuries stole my memories.) (Vervain: Lies.) (Campion: All I know is Hazel and his tribe left me for dead. I owe them nothing but hate.) Silver, we'd look into his heart seek the truth. (Silver: There's a shadow on his soul a darkness. That's all I can see.) (Campion: I was touched by the Black Rabbit of Inle. I have traveled to the shadow lands. I am cursed.) As am I, Campion. Welcome Back.
~ Woundwort forgives Campion.
Our shared destiny is an event, Campion. Your time is done.
~ Woundwort betrayed by Campion once too often.
(Bigwig: I've been looking forwad to this a long time, General.) Then you're a bigger fool than you look.
~ Woundwort before fighting Bigwig for the last time.
No quarter this time, traitor. (Campion: Than asked, General.)
~ Woundwort finally recognizes Campion as a traitor and fights him for the last time.

Miniseries

Enough. Vervain is right. Gifting our does is out of the question. (Holly: No, no. We can't leave here without putting our case forward properly.) Leave here? Who on earth said you were ever going to leave here? (Holly: We really do feel it would be beneficial for both our warrens, captain...) My name is Woundwort. General Woundwort.
~ Woundwort introduces himself to Holly, Blackberry and Bluebell after refusing to give them any females, while refusing to let them leave Efrafa.
(Orchis: Where is she?) [Block Orchis] Calm yourself! (Orchis: She's responsible for the death of my brother, General.) She's the doe behind every escape attempt, and it's only a matter of time before she succeeds! I want her destroyed! [Puts Orchis on the ground] He who thinks death is the gravest of punishments knows nothing of what it is to suffer. Hers is the spirit that emboldens the does, Captain. Break Hyzenthlay... and you break them all.
~ Woundwort to Orchis, on what is really the suffering.
I see you've been marked. An unpleasant experience, I know, but a necessity nonetheless. (Woundwort circles Clover) There's a warren somewhere nearby that's been causing us trouble. First, we thought, you were from that warren, but today, I heard on the wind that you're actually an escaped hutch rabbit. Few here know that I lived in a hutch for a brief while. But like you, I managed to get out. And here I am. From hutch rabbit to chief rabbit. King of the warren (Woundwort sniffs at Clover)... but kings need queens. An empire is born not in a life time, (places his paw on Clover's) but over generations. Don't you think that's right? (Clover flinches) You need time to settle in. (He releases Clover and heads back into his burrow) You may leave. Clover. It is Clover isn't it? I don't like to be disappointed.
~ Woundwort tries to seduce Clover into becoming his mate and queen.
So we finally meet, Thlayli. They told me you weren't a fighter, but I know a fighter when I see one. I'm going to take great pleasure in killing you.
~ Woundwort faces Bigwig for the first time in the Miniseries.
Are you really concerned about the lives of your bucks, or are you concerned about your own life? Are you afraid, sergeant? (Sainfoin: Maybe...maybe I am afraid) [Woundwort pushes Sainfoin to the ground] You disgust me! If you expire serving this warren, you should consider yourself fortunate to have the glory of such a death! Those of you not loyal to me invite outsiders to steal our does. Men to kill us and the elil to bring the white blindness. Those of you not loyal to me, hate Efrafa. Are you loyal, sergeant? (Sainfoin: Yes, sir.) And what about you, Campion? (Campion: I am, general.) Good, I don't care if everything take one frifth or thousand, you will find the outsiders who stole our does and when you do, we will destroy their warren and leave no trace of them on this earth. And the those of you who tremble in the wake of birds, or foxes or any of the thousand ennemies of rabbits, I said this: In Efrafa we run for no Elil. We are the Elil.
~ Woundwort reprimands Sainfoin's cowardice, question Campion's loyalty and orders the ruthless attack on Watership Down.
Did Thlayli send you?" (Hazel: I am a friend of Thlayli, yes.) Ha! He's some chief rabbit. Sending out here instead of coming himself. We are going to destroy you. (Hazel: I imagine you planned to take our warren by surprise, attack us at dawn, when we moved out to silflay. But you approached downwind and up here on the Downs, the wind is changeable. That’s what gave you away.) An inconvenience, nothing more. By closing off some of your tunnels, you're merely delaying the inevitable. (Hazel: You should know that you won’t find it easy. You will leave with far fewer bucks. We should come to better terms. If we start a new warren in the belt of woods halfway between our two homes, we could share resources. Rabbits have enough enemies without fighting between us. You'd be seen as a leader of vision. You'd be seen as a leader of genius.) (Campion: It, er, might be worth considering, sir.) It amuses me that you feel you're in a position to strike a deal. Let's see if you feel the same way after three days without food. (Hazel: Very well.) Tell your chief rabbit that I look forward to seeing him again. Each of you take your bucks and cover one of the entrances. Nothing leaves this warren and lives.
~ Woundwort denies Hazel's request for a truce.
I told you the bird is gone! [Slaps Sainfoin] I should have killed you in the council chamber. (Campion: My bucks grow restless too, sir; they're not used to sitting out in the open like this. What is the brief in terms of taking prisoners, sir?) No prisoners. (Efrafan Soldier: But...but sir, what about those not engaged in the fight? Capturing the strongest bucks and sparing the does would surely be the wisest...) [Woundwort kill the Efrafan with a swipe of his claws] If you continue to make a habit of questioning me, captain. Believe me, I will cure you of it.
~ Woundwort takes no prisoners.
(Sainfoin: The men say they heard a noise, a great wailing. You don't think that bird's back?) If you mention that bird one more time, I will destroy you! Campion, prepare to follow me in, but not too close, in case we're ambushed. (Campion: I will not.) You dare disobey me? What kind of a soldier are you? (Campion: I'd rather be a good rabbit than a good soldier, sir.) Orchis, finish him. Sainfoin, come with me.
~ Woundwort threatens Sainfoin and is betrayed by Campion before ordering Orchis to kill the traitor during the Watership Down attack.
I once told you that I would kill you, Thlayli. And this time, there's no white bird to save you!
~ Woundwort fights Bigwig in single combat.
I could send my bucks down here one after the other if need be, Thlayli. But it seems a waste to kill you. Come back to Efrafa, and you can lead any mark you want. (Bigwig: Silflay hraka! U embleer rah! My chief rabbit ordered me to defend this run. And until he says otherwise, I will stay right here.) (Sainfoin: His chief rabbit? He's not chief rabbit?)
~ Woundwort offers one last chance to join Efrafa in Bigwig, but the latter refuses and reveals that he is not the Chief Rabbit.
This war is nearly over. [Sainfoin runs away] Cowards. Leave then! Without me to protect you, most of you will be dead within a week. [To Orchis] Gathers your bucks. It's time to finish this Warren. Once and for all.
~ Woundwort's breakdown as he bursts out his madness after his fight with Bigwig, causing Sainfoin to flee in fear and just before Woundwort orders an end to Watership Down.
Surround him!
~ Woundwort orders his minions to finish off an exhausted Bigwig.
(Bigwig: Hazel-rah!) Hazel-rah? He's their leader? [Laugh] That lame rabbit is your leader? [Laugh again and Orchis sees the dog chasing Hazel] (Orchis: General, retreat!) What are you running from, you cowards?
~ Woundwort laughs psychotically when he finds out that Hazel is the leader of Watership Down before seeing a dog show up as well, causing all the Efrafans to flee but not Woundwort.

Trivia

  • In the TV series, it was John Hurt's second time working on an adaptation of Watership Down, as he had previously voiced Hazel in the film, along with the irony in that since Woundwort is Hazel's enemy. He also voiced Snitter from the 1982 animated film The Plague Dogs, which is another film directed by Martin Rosen and based on a book by Richard Adams.
    • Even more ironically, his voice actor in the third season of the series, Nigel Pegram, also voiced Hazel in the same season.
  • Woundwort is a name of an herb.
  • In the TV series, Woundwort was born in Darkhaven and is also known as "the Dark One". He shares that moniker with Rumplestiltskin from Once Upon a Time.
  • Woundwort's design in the TV series is a bit similar to Dr. Calico from Bolt. This is mainly thanks to how his right eye is an abnormal color, but instead of green, it's red.
  • In the Miniseries, it is shown that when Woundwort was a young rabbit, it was a fox that made the scar over his left eye. It is never shown how he escaped death when the predator was right in front of him.
  • Woundwort's appearance in the Miniseries looks a bit like his appearance from the first two seasons of the TV series.
  • in the TV series, Woundwort is shown as less of a monster than in the Movie and in the Miniseries, he respected Campion very much and was able to forgive him his first betrayal for having saved his life or his trust in Vervain for his loyalty. In the Miniseries, Woundwort shows no esteem for his officers, AND has absolutely no regard for Campion, has no confidence in his loyalty and does not hesitate for a second to order his execution after Campion turns against him or when he brutalizes Saifoin for his cowardice and without hesitation kills a reluctant soldier. The Movie does not show how he treats his minions.

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Watership Down: General Woundwort | Efrafa (Vervain and Campion) | Tab
The Plague Dogs: Dr. Boycott | Lynn Driver | William Harbottle | Under Secretary | Dr. Goodner | Ackland

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