|Ashley J. "Ash" Williams|
|Evil Dead character|
Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams
|First appearance||Evil Dead|
|Created by||Sam Raimi|
|Portrayed by||Bruce Campbell|
|Voiced by||Danny Webber (Poker Night 2)|
|Occupation||Housewares clerk at S-Mart|
|Family||Cheryl Williams (sister, deceased)|
|Significant other(s)||Linda (in the 1st and 2nd movies, deceased)
Shelia (in the 3rd movie and comics, deceased)
Jenny (in the video games, deceased)
Ashley James "Ash" Williams is a fictional character and the protagonist of The Evil Dead franchise. Created by Sam Raimi, he is portrayed by Bruce Campbell and is the only character to appear in each entry of the series. Throughout the series, Ash has to face off against his loved ones inside an abandoned cabin as they are possessed by "deadites", the evil souls of the dead. He was named the 24th Greatest Movie Character of All Time and voted the Number #1 Greatest Horror Movie Character by Empire Magazine.
As well as appearances in the films, Ash has been featured in various comic book series and video games.
In The Evil Dead, Ash and his girlfriend Linda, sister Cheryl, and friends Scotty and Shelly stay at a log cabin in the woods, where they find the "Naturan Demanto" (renamed or possibly translated to Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the sequels), the "Book of the Dead", along with a tape recorder. The tape is a recording of the owner of the cabin, who was translating a passage of the book. By playing the tape, Ash and his friends awaken the evil spirits who can now possess the living. Ash's friends and sister are consequently possessed and killed one by one, until he's the last survivor. He finally destroys the Necronomicon by throwing it in the fireplace, and in doing so causes the possessed bodies of Scotty and Cheryl to rapidly decay and "die", and the evil seems to be driven back. However, the film ends with Ash being attacked or possibly overtaken by an evil spirit himself after leaving the cabin.
Evil Dead II continues the story from the previous film, after a stunted recap in which the audience is introduced to Ash's girlfriend Linda (who still subsequently gets possessed, decapitated and buried) and Ash himself, to the point where the evil spirit attacks Ash. From this point, the film continues the story from where the first film left off. Carried a good distance by the demon, Ash is slammed hard against a tree and falls in a puddle of water; he becomes a deadite, but shortly afterwards is released from the spirit by the coming of dawn, only to pass out. Ash regains consciousness moments before sunset. Deciding to get out of there as fast as he can, he climbs into his car and drives to where the bridge was, only to find it completely destroyed by the evil force. As the sun quickly sets, said force starts climbing up the cliff, and Ash hops into his car, driving away as fast as he can and as a result, crashing right into a tree stump that sends him flying through the windshield.
With the evil close behind him, he runs into (and through) the cabin, trying to hide, and ducks into the trapdoor, waiting until the evil force leaves. After it does, Ash comes out, only to find himself stuck at the cabin with the spirits of the Evil Dead for yet another night. Shortly after, Ash hallucinates that his reflection in the mirror comes to life. After this, a deadite possesses Ash's right hand, resulting in him having to cut it off at the wrist with his chainsaw. Later, the cabin owner's daughter Annie and three more people arrive. It's near the end of this film that Ash gets his famous chainsaw in place of his right hand, with the 'boomstick' to match. The film ends with Ash being sucked into a vortex and traveling back in time to 1300 AD, where the locals claim, according to their prophecies, that he is "The Man That Falls from the Sky" who will save them from the 'Deadites'.
Army of Darkness picks up right where Evil Dead 2 left off, with Ash landing in a medieval kingdom. Ash is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home. Ash must also defeat his alter-ego known as "Bad Ash", who is leading the Army of Darkness to steal the Necronomicon. Ash constructs a mechanical prosthetic hand out of a gauntlet from a suit of armor, using it throughout the film in place of the chainsaw when it is not needed. The film is split into two endings. The first and intentional ending resulted in Ash defeating the Army of Darkness and being given the potion to sleep until his time. However, distracted by a sudden movement in the rocks, Ash drinks too much and awakens in post-apocalyptic London. The film then cuts straight to black and his insane laughter is heard. The second ending, and one more familiar with US and Australian audiences, consists of Ash simply riding off into the distance and returning to the present. Here, he boasts of his victory to his coworkers, but is suddenly interrupted by the possession of a female customer. After killing it, Ash is hailed a hero and he kisses a newfound love interest. Most home video versions, and Raimi himself, consider the original ending canonical, though spin-offs take place in the alternate ending, the video/DVD release finishing with the post-apocalyptic scene with the present day scene included after the credits.
Ash made a cameo appearance in the post-credits for the 2013 remake Evil Dead, in which he says his iconic line "Groovy", then looks at the camera. Campbell will reprise his role in the sequel to Army of Darkness. 
In 1992, Dark Horse Comics released a three-issue miniseries written by Raimi himself. Accompanying it is Evil Dead (2008), a comic retelling the story of the events of the original film. In this version of the tale, Cheryl is not Ash's sister, but just a friend of his girlfriend Linda, and the book is called "Nacheron De'manto". The professor and his wife are depicted as younger adults rather than the middle-aged version seen in the film. The only character in the book that looks like their film counterpart is Ash; every other character has been completely redesigned for this "expansion".
Dynamite Entertainment has made their own line of comics featuring the character. Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes (2004) a four-issue miniseries that picks up directly after the film's ending, taking place on the very day Ash and his friends travel to the cabin, and leads into Army of Darkness: Shop Till You Drop (Dead) (2005) a four-issue miniseries. Another mini-series, Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator (2005), featuring Ash confined to a mental institution and forced to go up against Doctor Herbert West and his zombie minions, came out in 2005. In 2006, Dynamite started releasing an ongoing series, showing the events after the Re-Animator crossover.
Ash then appeared in Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness (2007) which takes place in the Marvel Zombies universe. The series serves to fill in certain gaps left in the Marvel Zombies storyline that even Dead Days didn't flesh out fully. The crossover lasts several issues, with Ash finally returning to his own world (and own comic) with Army of Darkness: From the Ashes (2007). Dynamite has created several crossovers and side stories of their own. Tales of the Army of Darkness (2006) is a one shot comic featuring several stories about Ash and the Necronomicon. Darkman vs. Army of Darkness (2006), a four-issue miniseries features Ash teaming up with Darkman to stop the Deadites. Ash then starred in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash (2007), a six-issue miniseries from Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment where Ash must face off against the horror icons, and then Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors (2009), in which Ash joins forces with a support group for people who have both faced and survived Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, consisting of previously established characters from their respective franchises, to defeat the two for good. Ash is also planned to appear in a crossover comic series with Abbey Chase, with the first issue released in April 2011. At Comic-Con 2013, Dynamite announced a reboot of the title called "Ash and the Army Of Darkness" planned for Nov. 2013, and will pick up after the final frame of Army Of Darkness.
Concept and creation
According to Sam Raimi, Ash's name is a reference to his originally intended fate at the end of Evil Dead, stating "that's all that was going to be left of him in the end." Campbell, however, suggested the name was short for "Ashley". When creating Army of Darkness, Raimi toyed with giving him the full name "Ashley J. Williams", which was later used by video games and comics involving the character. Campbell later confirmed in Cinefantastique that the full name was official. The character is also referred to as "Ashley" by his sister Cheryl in the original Evil Dead.
Bruce Campbell has stated Ash is incompetent at everything except fighting the Evil Dead. Campbell also added that Ash is "a bad slow thinker and a good fast thinker". He knows some degree of hand-to-hand combat techniques, and shows prowess with a variety of weapons in various situations. His main strength seems to be his ingenuity: although he is repeatedly noted in the audio commentaries for The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II for his stupidity and ignorance, he has from the second film on been shown creating such things ranging from his chainsaw bracket and shotgun harness, gunpowder from mainly referencing its elemental makeup in a chemistry book, a fully functional prosthetic hand from a metal gauntlet, and the short-lived "Deathcoaster".
His invention and ingenuity are further expanded on in the games: in Evil Dead: Regeneration, he creates fully functional weapons such as a flamethrower and a harpoon gun from spare parts that are merely laying about; and in Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, the inventiveness seems to run in Ash's family, as his blacksmith ancestor in the Colonial Dearborn level is quickly able to make a flamethrower and a Gatling gun from spare parts Ash finds for him, when Ash says those things "haven't even been invented yet".
Ash's personality and state of mind change drastically throughout the franchise. In The Evil Dead and the beginning of Evil Dead II, he is something of a laid-back everyman, but by the middle of Evil Dead II and into Army of Darkness, he has grown into a much braver person, and becomes the voice of encouragement and confidence in Arthur's castle. It is at this point that Ash becomes known for his one-liners, and his personality takes on a more cynical, embittered tone. Raimi has said that he feels Ash's personality transformation in Darkness was very out of character.
In The Evil Dead, Ash is portrayed as being cowardly and incapable of dealing with the horrors presented to him. Over the course of the film, Ash gradually overcomes his fears and manages to fight off his possessed friends. Also, he is shown to take his predicament very seriously in the first film, rather than in a comedic manner, as in the subsequent films. Evil Dead II portrays Ash as a braver character. Campbell commented that in the film Ash is more than capable at fighting off monsters. The character gradually became more of an anti-hero within Evil Dead II and its sequel, Army of Darkness. Ash's most defining characteristic is the chainsaw attached to Ash's right nub, placed after cutting off his possessed hand in Evil Dead II.
Ash's dark side manifests itself as a separate entity, referred to as "Bad Ash". This persona first appears in Evil Dead II, where Ash experiences a hallucination wherein his reflection torments him over dismembering "their" girlfriend (Linda) with a chainsaw, and proceeds to try to choke him, only for Ash to realize he is choking himself. This side of him later splits off his body in Army of Darkness after a battle with "Tiny Ashes", becoming "Bad" Ash. Ash seemingly kills his doppelganger and buries him, but Bad Ash is revived after Ash incorrectly recites the Necronomicon incantations. Bad Ash later leads the Army to King Arthur's castle to retrieve the Necronomicon, even corrupting Ash's then-love interest Sheila. He battles "Good Ash" for the Necronomicon, gets burnt with a torch, and continues fighting as a Skeleton. As Henry the Red's troops arrive to assist in the battle against the undead and break their ranks, Ash coincidentally cuts off his alter ego's right hand and catapults him into the sky on a lit sack of gunpowder, which explodes and destroys Bad Ash.
In popular culture
The character of Ash has also made appearances in video games starting with The Evil Dead a video game adaptation of the first film. Ash later made appearances in the follow-up games Hail to the King, A Fistful of Boomstick, and Evil Dead: Regeneration. Ash is voiced by Bruce Campbell in each of these appearances. Ash also appears as one of the opponents in the crossover title Poker Night 2, where he is voiced by Danny Webber.
The character was parodied in an episode of the Canadian CGI series ReBoot, in which a game based on the Evil Dead series (parodically titled Malicious Corpses) was being played. The hero of the game, and thus the antagonist to the show's main characters, was an Ash look-alike whose only lines were "Groovy" and, once defeated, "Undead before dawn!"
Evil Dead: The Musical is a loose musical adaptation of the film series, mostly combining the plot elements of the first two films. The musical is notable for being one of the few times when Ash is not portrayed by Bruce Campbell, but Ryan Ward. The role in the musical is soon to be taken over by Michael Scott Wells.
Ash ranked eleventh on UGO.com's Top 100 Heroes of All Time list, describing him as "An egomaniacal, complaining, misogynistic goon", but also the best "demon and zombie killer ever to be portrayed on the silver screen". They additionally praised the character for his humility at the conclusion of Army of Darkness, in returning to his own time. Empire ranked him the 24th Greatest Movie Character on their list of 100, calling him a "truly iconic horror hero", and a "delirious, delicious, dimwitted" parody of action heroes. He was also ranked number 77 on Fandomania's list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters.
The Evil Dead movies and the character of Ash influenced many 1990s first-person shooters such as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Blood. Duke Nukem quotes so many lines from Ash that Bruce Campbell stated that he was angered by not being paid for them.
Another notable video game character influenced by Ash is Alisa Bosconovitch. In an interview, Tekken project director and chief producer Katsuhiro Harada said, "Alisa's quite popular overseas as well. Personally, I didn't think we would get much of a following. We usually do research for new characters, but Alisa was something we created based on internal staff feedback. We really wanted a character with chainsaws on her arms." Scriptwriter Dai Satō then asked, "Influenced by Ash by any chance?" Harada replied, "Exactly. (laugh) I'm a huge fan of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead. I just didn't think Alisa would catch on, considering her vast differences from the other characters."
- Sam Raimi (director) (1981). The Evil Dead (Film). New Line Cinema.
- Sam Raimi was unable to acquire footage from the original Evil Dead. He tried shooting some scenes featuring the other characters but they were abandoned. This was mentioned in the Evil Dead II audio commentary
- Sam Raimi (director) (1987). Evil Dead II (Film). De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Renaissance Pictures.
- Sam Raimi (director) (1992). Army of Darkness (Film). Universal Pictures.
- Bruce Campbell Confirms He Will Do Army Of Darkness Sequel
- Dark Horse Comics Solicitations for January 2008
- Warren, Bill (2001). The Evil Dead Companion. Macmillan. (2001). ISBN 0-312-27501-3. p. 181
- Clarke, Frederick S. (1991). Cinefantastique 22-23: p. 29
- Audio commentary for Evil Dead II, Bruce Campbell: "As dumb as Ash is, he's actually a capable guy with dealing with monsters"
- In Army of Darkness, Ash trains the people of King Arthur's kingdom in martial arts
- Sam Raimi's comments on the DVD audio commentary for the Army of Darkness Director's Cut.
- Burkart, Gregory. "Get a Taste of Eric Millikin's Totally Sweet Candy Monster Mosaics". FEARnet. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Millikin, Eric. "Eric Millikin's totally sweet Halloween candy monster portraits". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- "Top 100 Heroes of All Time". UGO.com. UGO Networks. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
- "The 100 Greatest Fictional Characters". Fandomania.com. Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- One on One with Bruce Campbell verbosity.wiw.org
- November 5, 1999 IGN For Men Interview: Bruce Campbell
- As quoted in The Art of Tekken Hybrid (Namco Bandai Games Inc., 2011), 26.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Ash Williams|
- The Official Bruce Campbell Website
- Ash Williams at the Internet Movie Database
- Bruce Campbell Deatites online