Lady Marian, portrayed by Lucy Griffiths, is the daughter of the former sheriff of Nottingham (Edward of Knighton). Marian is twenty-one years old, and in contrast to most Robin Hood legends, is not described as Maid Marian, but rather Lady Marian. "In those days would be considered quite old to still be a maid," actress Lucy Griffiths explained in the Radio Times preview.
She was engaged to Robin before he went to fight in the crusades and is visibly cold and aloof toward him on his return, although in episode twelve she admits that she considered him a hero even while calling him a fool. She initially disapproved of Robin's outlaw status because she believed that the best way to fight injustice was to work inside the system. However, she aids him in his fight against the Sheriff by frequently spying for him and manipulating Gisborne. Marian also fights the Sheriff in her own right, disguising herself as the Night Watchman and giving the poor food and supplies.
When King Richard impostor appears to return to England (he is, in fact, an impostor), Marian must fulfill her promise to marry Sir Guy, and he immediately prepares their wedding. In one final act of defiance against him, she dresses as the Night Watchman and attempts to steal from him, but he stabs her as she makes her escape, unaware that she is Marian.
Djaq cares for her and manages to revive her when she goes into cardiac arrest. Soon after though, Marian apparently dies, and the penultimate episode of the first series ends with Robin mourning over her body and repeating his love for her. However, it is revealed in the next episode that her body merely shut down as a result of a concoction that she had been given by Guy's physician Pitts, causing her to appear completely dead, though Allan-A-Dale sees her breathe and shouts that she's not dead.
Regaining her health shortly afterwards, Marian is left without option and to protect her father, arrives to marry Guy. The wedding is interrupted by a frantic Much, who informs her that the King is an impostor, and that it is a ruse by the Sheriff and Guy to weed out the Sheriff's enemies. In the hope that she will forgive him, Guy admits that he knew of the plan, but Marian punches him and flees the wedding. Robin rides up on horseback to greet her and Much, and Marian rides off with him. When they arrive at the castle to expose the Sheriff's plot, she and Robin share a kiss.
In the second series, Marian and her father were under house arrest in Nottingham Castle. Marian could not travel out of the castle without an armed guard, although she managed to escape this edict at various points in time, either by Robin's men creating a diversion, or by manipulating Guy. During these escapes, she would often deliver information to Robin.
In Season 2, it is evident that Robin and Marian's relationship has grown stronger; however, Marian seems be stuck in a love triangle with Robin and Guy—Guy, who is still ignorant of her alter identity as the Night Watchman and Robin's informer, still harbours deep feelings for her, and she starts to recognize the sacrifices he is making for her, leading the audience to believe Guy may truly be in love with her. However, she still remains faithful to Robin, despite becoming more adventurous and sensual in her manipulations of Guy. Through Guy, she can gain information to help Robin, and Guy also has the power to protect her from other noblemen such as the her father's former friend the Earl of Winchester. Guy also offers to conceal evidence linking her to her father's escape from prison, in order to shield her from the Sheriff's wrath.
When her father is killed in his escape, she agrees to join Robin in Sherwood Forest, despite several heated arguments between her and Robin as to whether it was the right thing to do. But although they argue at first, they eventually apologise and see the bigger picture—it wasn't just about what made them happy. It was about keeping Nottingham safe and its people looked after. For that reason, Marian returns to Nottingham Castle with Guy, believing she can be of better use there as a spy. However, in the process of that return, Guy is led to believe that Robin has intentionally endangered Marian's life, further poisoning Guy against Robin. In "Lardner's Ring", Episode 9, Robin proposes to Marian (rather humorously unromantically, "over a fresh grave and by comparing her to a weapon"). She accepts his hand and his ring, although by the end of the episode, she is once more back in the castle with Guy. Later on, she hides Robin's ring from Gisborne, wearing it only in private, and later using it as a token when she sends Allan to Robin with a vital message.
In a late episode of series 2, Guy discovers that she is the Night Watchman. Devastated, he sends word to the sheriff that the Night Watchman (and thus, Marian, though Guy does not reveal her identity to the sheriff) is caught and sentenced to hang. He then accuses her of manipulating his affections for personal gain. Marian tries to convince him that she cares for him, despite the lies, to seemingly little avail, but in the last few minutes of the episode, Guy and Allan create a decoy Night Watchman, saving Marian's life.
The Sheriff pulls a dagger on Guy and threatens him not to make anymore mistakes, a threat which Marian witnesses and is startled by, implying that she hadn't considered the gravity of the sacrifices that Guy made for her. At the end of the episode, she and Guy reconcile. She offers to repay him for saving her life, and he asks that she stay with him. She promises she will, and embraces him. The optimistic tone of the episode left the audience ill-prepared for the events of the finale.
When Guy tells her to stand aside so that he can finish off the king and they can return to England together, Marian declares, angrily, that she would rather die than be with Guy, and pronounces her love for Robin Hood.
Mortified and brokenhearted, Guy runs her through, killing her. Devastated at what he has done, he flees with the Sheriff. A horror-stricken Robin arrives mere seconds later to find Marian crumpled in the sand. Marian exchanges rings and wedding vows with Robin while she lies dying, and the king and the gang look on, grieving with them. She then breathes her last breath in her husband's arms and is carried to her grave.
Lucy Griffiths makes one last appearance as Marian in "Something Worth Fighting For (Part 2)" as Robin is dying. Dressed in silver, she helps him to his feet and they kiss and hug.
There is controversy as to whether this is truly Marian's ghost, or Robin's hallucination.
Marian was officially described as "feisty". She is written as spirited, selfless, brave, loyal, strong-minded, and dedicated to helping people less fortunate than herself. She wasn't as obvious about her philanthropic deeds as Robin was, and usually helped people in the guise of the Night Watchman.
She behaved like a loyal citizen to the sheriff in public, occasionally trying to persuade him to stop doing evil things, but not daring to show obvious disloyalty to him, in order to protect her aged father and so that she could be an effective spy for Robin's band.
Marian originally refused Robin's attempts to charm her, sometimes calling him a fool, but secretly she thought he was a hero and they became closer as the series went on. Though time and heartbreak may have eroded her gentleness, it has left untouched her valiant spirit and keen sense of duty to her people.
Marian is headstrong and no-nonsense, if often derisive of Robin's arrogance and cocky attitude towards her. But despite this, her ongoing love for him is evident as the series progresses, and they share many tender moments in secret.
Marian was also immensely brave and alarmingly courageous. She did her best to avoid close-range combat with her enemies but, when faced with imminent danger, she would fight to her last breath. Marian was too eager to defend the helpless when she finally joined Robin's gang for real, and recklessly went in to fight the Sherriff's men when they were attacking Clun.
She also had a toxic, complicated relationship with with Guy of Gisborne, saving his life at least once. Guy felt genuine love towards Marian, who seemed, if not attached, attracted to him to some degree.
Marian was an incredibly skilled swordswoman and archer and was also quite athletic, frequently performing cartwheels and other acrobatic maneuvers while posing as the Night Watchman. Robin noted (despite his compulsion to shield her from danger) that she was perfectly capable of looking after herself, and this was frequently shown to be true.
Marian was remarkably proficient at unarmed combat, and shown to be far more than capable of holding her own against more experienced opponents. She had a potentially aggressive fighting style and was prone to slight overconfidence. However, she overcame this flaw with fantastic acrobatic ability and incredible stealth.
Robin was, in short, the love of Marian's life. They were engaged before he had to leave for the Holy Land. When she sees him again, she acts cold and aloof and to him. It is implied, in the second episode Sheriff Got Your Tongue?, that the reason she was mad at him was because he left her for glory. Although she is hostile to him, she helps him by giving information on the Sheriff's plans. Robin always attempts to charm Marian but always rejects his attempts. Despite this, they share a few moments in secret, most notably in the two part season finale.
There is also a complication in their relationship when Guy forces Marian to marry him in episode 7. In the season finale, she is seriously injured. Fearing that she is on her deathbed, she admits to Robin that even if she calls him a fool, she thinks of him as a hero and also even if she ridicules his actions, she copies them as the Night Watchman. When she "dies", he breaks down over her body and confesses his love for her. In the next episode, she recovers shortly and decides to go on with her marriage to Guy. Robin is devastated at this, and even contemplates leaving Nottingham because of this. When Marian is at the altar with Guy, Much interrupts the wedding, shouting that Guy is a traitor and that Marian's heart belongs to another. Feeling betrayed, she punches Guy and flees the wedding with Robin.
In the second season, their relationship grows stronger and more physical. She continues to aid Robin as a spy. When her father dies, she goes to stay with him in Sherwood Forest. Though they fight a few times, they still remember they have to help others and that it is not about what makes them happy. In the episode Lardner's Ring, Robin proposes to Marian. She accepts but must return to the castle with Guy.
In the second season finale, she goes to the Holy Land with Guy and the Sheriff when she makes an attempt on the Sheriff's life. When Robin learns of her whereabouts, due to Allan, he goes after her. She is then taken to Robin and the gang, who are tied up in the desert to die in the sun. Marian and Robin then start to say their wedding vows, believing that they will die.
Carter rescues the gang, and they rush to the town to find and rescue the king, who is in danger of assassination. Marian finds Guy pursuing the king, and steps in between them, using his love for her as a defense. When Guy demands she move out of the way and let him kill the king, she rebukes him, declaring her love for Robin. Stunned and betrayed, Guy runs her through, leaving her mortally wounded. He escapes while Robin hurries to her side.
Knowing that Marian is near death, she and Robin finish their wedding vows and proclaim their love for each other as husband and wife. She withdraws the sword from her body and dies, after which she is carried to her grave by her now widowed husband.
In season three, she appears in the series finale, appearing the moment Robin is about to die, and embracing him. It is debatable whether this is Robin's imagination, or whether this is her ghost.
Guy of Gisborne
Guy of Gisborne, a dispossessed noble and Vaisey's right hand man, becomes obsessed with winning Marian's hand in marriage, as she is the beautiful daughter of a lord. From the beginning, she frostily resists his attentions and gifts, unable to look past his murderous ways and cruelty. But as time goes on, Guy becomes attached to her, and she finds herself flattered by some of his attempts at courtship. Certain evidence convinces Guy that she has collaborated with Robin Hood, and he tells Vaizey, who goads him to punish her. When Guy confronts her about this accusation, she is able to convince him of her loyalty, but he cautions her that the sheriff would not be as easily swayed, and offers to marry her to protect her, believing that such an alliance would be inviolable in the sheriff's eyes. Though she does not love him, she agrees to marry Guy to protect both herself and her father, with the condition that they wait until King Richard - whom she knows Guy does not support - returns to England. The betrothal collapses at the end of first season, when it is revealed to her that Guy had deceived her into believing that the king had returned, to force their wedding to go forward.
In the second season, when she and her father are confined to the castle, her dependence on Guy's favor increases, and she must manipulate him for her and her father's safety, leading him to believe that she is in love with him, and that only her angst over their past history is keeping them apart, as her wish for him to become a "better man".
Her manipulations and overtures to him become more daring, physical, and direct than they were in the first season. As a result, Guy increasingly puts himself between her and the sheriff, taking more and more risks on her behalf. Towards the end of the second season, Marian appeared to have developed a sincere attachment to Guy, who acted more and more as her protector, at times even putting his own safety and status with Vaizey on the line.
Vaizey eventually sees Marian as a threat to his hold on Guy, and maneuvers circumstances to poison Guy against her, and ultimately, attempts to have her killed. Guy maintains his belief that they are in love, but will not rescind his loyalty to Vaizey, as Marian begs him, offering him an ultimatum - her, or Vaizey. She confronts him when he attempts the kill the king, shielding the king with her body, and using her love for him to try and dissuade him. When he demands she step aside, and insists that they will marry, despite her pleas for the king's life, she insults him, taunting that she never loved him, she only loved Robin.
Guy runs Marian through with the sword he had been preparing to use to assassinate King Richard.
Richard Armitage, who plays Guy, has said in interview that he imagined Guy was attempting to embrace Marian, but his sword got in the way. This is descriptive of their entire relationship. Armitage also revealed in interview that he and Griffiths agonized over how to play the ending, as they felt that the characters had much unfinished business and things to discuss.
The writers of the show, in interview, revealed that this was their imagined "consummation" of the Guy and Marian relationship. Viewers of the show were overwhelmingly critical of this ending, and it remains one of the most controversial decisions in the show's run.
Marian also appears in the audiobook "Witchfinders" to Guy as a ghost, haunting him for killing her. It is debatable whether this is truly her ghost, or Guy's guilty conscience.
- "Will You Tolerate This?" (first appearance)
- "Sheriff Got Your Tongue?"
- "Who Shot The Sheriff?"
- "Parent Hood"
- "Turk Flu"
- "The Tax Man Cometh"
- "Brothers in Arms"
- "Tattoo? What Tattoo?"
- "A Thing or Two About Loyalty"
- "Peace? Off!"
- "Dead Man Walking"
- "The Return of the King"
- "A Clue: No"
- "The Booby and the Beast"
- "The Angel of Death"
- "Ducking and Diving"
- "For England...!"
- "Show Me the Money"
- "Get Carter!"
- "Lardner's Ring"
- "Treasure of the Nation"
- "A Good Day to Die"
- "We Are Robin Hood!" (Death)
- "Something Worth Fighting For (Part 2)" (Ghostly hallucination)