Merlyn: A Gender-Reversal Tribute

The BBC’s Merlin was one of my favourite TV shows. But on Christmas Eve of 2012, the very final episode aired. And it was heartbreaking, to say the least.

Since I had no more future episodes to look forward to, an idea struck me. I have no idea where or why it came, but here it is!

What if we had a tribute series of Merlin… where we could relive all the adventures of Merlin, Arthur and friends?

But wait, here’s the twist. All the male characters will be female and all the female characters will be male!

I can see this as a YouTube series. A bunch of friends together re-enacting episodes from the TV show, maybe adding a few additional gags of their own. If I knew enough like-minded people who’d be up for it, this would be an interesting little project to try out. No need for anything serious, just a little fun (and probably lots of laughs)!

But as most of my friends are not the drama sort and I have no real acting/filming knowledge, the best I can do is to take this idea and use it as a drawing challenge instead. What would the Merlin characters look like if they were the opposite gender?

(Pictures were first pencil sketched, line art inked by hand, with colour and shadows added in digitally afterwards. My first time mixing traditional and digital together! :))


In a land of myth and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rested on the shoulders of a young…… girl. Her name…


The first thing I wanted was to make sure the ‘new’ characters resembled their original BBC-version counterparts. That meant giving them similar outfits, similar physical features and a close-matching name. Here, the female Merlin (aptly named Merlyn with a ‘Y’ :mrgreen:) wears the iconic brown coat, scarf and boots worn by BBC Merlin. I also gave her the deep blue iris colour that we see in the opening of every episode.


I had a bit of difficulty thinking of a name for female Arthur. Eventually I opted for Athura, which can easily be shortened back to Arthur as an affectionate nickname. I drew two depictions of Arthura, one as a tough courageous knight (yes, this series will introduce the concept of the girl-knights of the round table!) and one as the beautiful royal princess. I made sure to incorporate the Camelot colours of gold and red.


In some variations of the Arthurian legends, Morgana is sometimes named ‘Morgan Le Fay.’ With Morgan being an equally suitable name for a boy, I immediately knew it would be a fitting name for the male Morgana. Again, I drew two depictions. One as the good Morgan and one as the evil Morgan. I felt that with the BBC Morgana, her story was cleverly written, showing she was not born evil but that certain events had changed her. I felt there was a tiny chance of redemption for her so I thought Evil Morgan should also have a tiny bit of vulnerability showing.


Somehow, Gwen turned out to be the hardest character to imagine as a male. It was equally as hard to think of a good name for her male version. I couldn’t think of a good enough variation for ‘Guinevere’ but did settle on ‘Gwyn’ for the shortened down name. I drew two depictions again; servant Gwyn and future King Gwyn.


I imagined the female Gaius to be a rather delicate but just as wise version of the original Gaius. After research, I found Gaia is the female form of Gaius which sounded rather fitting. This female Gaius should be a mother figure to Merlyn so I wanted to portray a little bit of warm, motherly-ness in Gaia.


I think I started losing originality in thinking of names! The female Uther, named Uthera (similar naming convention to Arthura) is depicted to be a strong, no-nonsense woman, who at times may seem cold. Like in the BBC series, Uthera and her daughter, Arthura, do not always agree but as Queen of Camelot, Uthera has the higher power.

Great Dragon

The Great Dragon.
I couldn’t think of a worthy name for the female Kilgharrah. The name had to sound powerful and awesome like the original, but I have yet to think one good enough. On another note, this is my first time drawing a dragon of this scale and I’m very happy with how it turned out!


This was a very fun challenge and it was tempting to carry on with it for all the other recurring characters – Lancelot, Lady of the Lake, Aithusa, etc. I think seeing all the Knights of Camelot as a female ensemble would be an interesting concept!

This is also the last edition of my ‘A Story To Tell’ series. I may come back and revisit but from now on, I will be putting my focus into my main project ‘DHG’.

Thank you for reading, I hope you liked this post 🙂


Update 8/12/15: I’m thinking of re-doing these drawings now that I’ve learned a bit more about… well, drawing! Stay tuned 🙂


About Lily

Lily is the blogger's name of an overimaginative, positivity-powered, and potentially awkward introvert girl who likes to think she's "quirky" (though it's very possible that she's just plain weird!) She loves music, musical theatre, art & comics, inspirational stories, languages, expressive people and anything that is a little eccentric.
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5 Responses to Merlyn: A Gender-Reversal Tribute

  1. Like what you’ve done here, Lily– cool concept, and nice job adding color digitally to your line drawings. Big step forward there! I especially like the dragon– he reminds me of me!! : P

    • Lily in the Nova says:

      Guess I could always name the dragon Mark then 😛 Thank you! I was actually really terrified with how this would turn out when I started it but I’m very happy with the end result! 🙂

  2. soul . to . earth says:

    Have you read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley? If you’re fascinated by the Arthurian legend (as I am), you might enjoy (or even love) wandering through its 800+ pages. 😉

    • Lily says:

      I’ve just read a synopsis for it and I’m really quite tempted! Seems like an interesting take on the legend and with 800+ pages, it’ll keep me going for a long while 🙂

      Thank you for the recommendation! 🙂

      • soul . to . earth says:

        It’s quite the sordid saga and not at all a light/ fun or fast read, if y’know what I mean. Your sketches of role reversal reminded me of its powerful female characters especially in Avalon. 🙂

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