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|First appearance||Gargoyles 1x09 "Enter Macbeth"|
|Created by||Greg Weisman|
|Voiced by||John Rhys-Davies|
|Aliases||Macbeth of Moray|
Macbeth, voiced by John Rhys-Davies, is a fictional character from the Disney animated television series Gargoyles. Macbeth is one of several characters in the show based on characters from plays by William Shakespeare (in this case he is based on the eponymous protagonist from Macbeth), though in fact his back-story is closer to the historical story of Macbeth of Scotland.
Macbeth was introduced as a villain in the first season of the show, in the episode Enter Macbeth, and it was soon made clear that he knows much about the fictional gargoyle species at the center of the series and that he is somehow connected to one of the show's other main antagonists, Demona. However, his full backstory, and his connection to Shakespeare or to the historical king of Scotland was not made clear until part way through the second season, in the "City of Stone" four-part episode.
He was depicted as a somewhat aged but physically robust Scottish man, wealthy (though not to the same extent as David Xanatos), always sporting a form of chin curtain beard with no moustache, and having an interest in literature (notably the King Arthur stories). He used several pseudonyms during the series, most prominently going by the name of Lennox Macduff. He was also immortal, having survived through to the 20th century due to a spell cast by the Weird Sisters (in fact, three children of Oberon), that linked him eternally to Demona.
Though he bore no particular malice towards the Manhattan Clan, he was a deadly rival to Demona. To that end, he once attempted to kidnap the clan in hopes to draw out Demona, not knowing that they were her enemies as well. As the series progressed and his tragic history became clear, Macbeth himself became a more sympathetic character. In a late episode of the series and in the second, canonical SLG comic, both entitled The Journey, Macbeth (as Lennox Macduff) appeared on television in order to defend the Gargoyles to the public once they had been revealed.
Macbeth was reportedly born in 1005 to Finláech, High Steward of Moray. His earliest chronological appearance in the series occurs in 1020. He and his father resided in Castle Moray when they were attacked by a masked assassin known to then only as "the Hunter". Finláech was killed but Macbeth was saved by the intervention of another sworn enemy of the Hunter: Demona.
Demona was leader at the time to remnants of Gargoyle clans from across the British Isles who were hunted mercilessly by the assassin. The Weird Sisters had visited and informed her of the location of her enemy. Demona arrived at the castle just in time to save young Macbeth and his cousin Gruoch. The "Hunter" escaped while she was thus distracted.
The episode revealed the Hunter to be an identity used by Gillecomgain in the employ of young Prince Duncan. Duncan had ordered the assassination in the process of removing other likely heirs to the throne of Scotland to secure his own succession. He promised Gillecomgain to secure the Stewardship of Moray for him.
His next chronological appearance finds an adult Macbeth in 1032. Macbeth was by now in love with Gruoch but her father Bodhe had decided to instead marry her to Gillecomgain. He was outraged but could do little to prevent this marriage. Meanwhile Prince Duncan had become the designated heir to the throne and was father to newborn Prince Canmore.
Duncan had realized that Macbeth was growing restless and ordered Gillecomgain to assassinate him. Gillecomgain however refused. If Macbeth shared the fate of his father, people would start questioning the two mysterious deaths and his possible involvement in them. He was not about to risk the Stewardship of Moray for his former employer and current ally.
A vengeful Duncan changed his plans. He approached Macbeth with information that the Hunter and Gillecomgain are the same person. He thus secured a confrontation between the two men and hoped that both would die. Macbeth and Demona confronted Gillecomgain at the same time. The battle resulted in Macbeth killing his rival and saving the life of Demona. Demona declared that he had repaid his debt and fled away. Macbeth inherited the Stewardship of Moray and married Gruoch. Meanwhile Duncan put on the mask of the "Hunter" and assumed the identity for himself.
Steward of Moray
The series leaves the following eight years unrecorded. Meanwhile Lulach was born to Gruoch while Duncan succeeded to the throne in 1034. The next events depicted occur in 1040.
Duncan, Macbeth, Canmore and Lulach were out hiking when they encountered the sleeping stone forms of several gargoyles during the day. Duncan suggested taking advantage and destroying them but Macbeth pled for their fate and that his King and cousin spare them. The four then encountered the Weird Sisters who hailed both men as a "King and father of the King hereafter". Macbeth assured Duncan that he neither knew the women nor what they meant.
On the other hand Duncan was convinced that Macbeth conspired against him and that the gargoyles were part of his plot. Duncan soon returned at the gargoyle lair with his guards. All but four were destroyed before the night came and they returned to life. Meanwhile Macbeth feared for his safety and that of his family. He met the grieving Demona on a bog and pled for her help. But his former ally was now very old and infirm.
The two protagonists of the drama were facing an impossible situation and at that point a deus ex machina was introduced in the form of the Weird Sisters. The Weird Sisters offered the two a pact bonding them to each other in exchange for a chance at survival and revenge against their common enemy. The two of them were desperate enough to agree without much questioning. Macbeth aged within moments to a still firm but seemingly middle-aged whilst Demona was restored to her youth. Both could feel the pain of each other when in close proximity and were made effectively immortal, neither able to truly die unless killed by the hand of the other, which would end them both. Before leaving, the Weird Sisters let Macbeth know that Duncan was the one who arranged his father's murder.
A reinforced Macbeth led his forces against Duncan and killed his cousin in battle. Elevating himself to the throne with Gruoch as his Queen consort and Demona as his chief advisor, giving her the name "Demona" because her fighting made him think of a demon, Macbeth felt secure enough to allow young Canmore to live. But exiled the boy to the Kingdom of England with his meager possessions. Among them, however, was the mask of the "Hunter", which the boy stole from an unknowing Demona, who had claimed the mask as a trophy. Canmore swore to avenge his father as the third man to assume the identity.
King of Scotland
Macbeth reigned in the Kingdom of Scotland for seventeen years that were not depicted in the series. But the "Hunter" returned to his life in 1057. Canmore invaded Scotland with the aid of English forces. His initial attacks were held off by the allied human and gargoyle armies of Macbeth and Demona.
However his father-in-law Bodhe was convinced that the English cared little for who held the throne of Scotland but were more interested in "purifying" Great Britain from the last gargoyles known to survive in it. Bodhe suggested that if Macbeth removed the gargoyles himself, the English would abandon Canmore to his fate and return to England. Macbeth doubted it, but when his son expressed outrage at the idea, MacBeth told him that a good king must consider all his options before making his decision. This conversation was unfortunately overheard by Demona who concluded that Macbeth had already decided to betray her. Macbeth however, as he would later tell Demona, had no intentions of betraying her or his oath to protect her clan.
Demona abandoned Macbeth and allied herself to Canmore. As all of Macbeth's plans for the defense of his castle were centered around the aid of the gargoyles, his forces proved unable to beat Canmore's armies back. Macbeth managed to escape the burning castle with Gruoch, but was found and confronted by both Canmore and Demona. While Demona accused Macbeth of betraying her and her people, Canmore took the opportunity to stab Macbeth from behind. Immediately both Macbeth and Demona fell to the ground, apparently dead. Canmore concluded that the rumors of Macbeth's magical link to the gargoyle were true and that when one of them died, both died. He had already secretly killed the remaining gargoyles serving under Demona, and with Macbeth dead and the forces of Lulach, Macbeth's son approaching, Canmore left the two for dead and departed the battlefield.
The body of Macbeth was approached by Lulach who took the crown and placed it on his own head. He then left the scene to prepare the coming battle against Canmore. Gruoch then arrived to grieve over her dead husband and King. But at that moment Demona and then Macbeth rose again. Canmore had failed to understand the mechanics of the spell binding them together. When one of them lived, both lived, and thus they would live eternally bound forever until one perished at the hands of the other.
Macbeth wanted to return to battle and defend Scotland. But Gruoch convinced him that even his loyal forces would fear a man who returned from death. He had to vanish from Scotland and allow Lulach to continue the battle for him. Macbeth reluctantly agreed and left Scotland and Gruoch.
His activities until 1994 are not known, though he had amassed a huge fortune and built several bases of operation, including a castle in New York State, a residence in London and a Chateau in France. His resources also allowed him a private army (though he usually preferred to handle jobs alone; two of his henchmen would later leave him and join the Quarrymen) and a large arsenal of technology and advanced weaponry, such as his signature lighting gun. Issues of the SLG comic, penned by series creator Greg Weisman, reveal that MacBeth was involved in the 1950 theft of the Stone of Destiny, but little is confirmed beyond this.
Despite losing both his father and his son to Hunters, (Finláech to Gillecomgain and Lulach to Canmore), Macbeth-himself donned the Hunter's mask to track Demona, (he kept the mask as a reminder of all his personal losses), determined to take revenge for her betrayal, and possibly because killing her was the only way to end his long, lonely existence. He is hinted to have had several encounters with Demona over the course of the nine centuries but the circumstances are not known.
He first appeared in the series as a man willing to remove the Manhattan Clan from Castle Wyvern, as a favor to David Xanatos. In fact, his aim was to use the clan as hostages to lure Demona in. Goliath informed him of his mistaken belief, that in fact Demona had become the Manhattan Clan's enemy as well.
MacBeth fought the Gargoyles over the Scrolls of Merlin, which he thought contained information on magic spells used by the legendary wizard. However, he was shocked to find they were merely journals and had no value as magical talsimans. He let the Manhattan Clan take the Scrolls back.
MacBeth crossed paths with Demona again in the middle of her scheme to turn all of New York's human inhabitants into stone. As the two confronted each other, the Weird Sisters appeared, taking control of both of them as part of a wider scheme by the villainous Archmage of Castle Wyvern to take over Avalon, the mystical island. When the Archmage's plans were foiled, Macbeth and Demona were set loose with no memory of their actions while under the Weird Sister's spell.
In Paris, they would both nearly fall victim to plotting by Thailog, Goliath's evil doppelganger clone. Using Demona as a willing "partner", he had Demona, in her "Dominique Destine" daytime-only human form romance Macbeth, eventually convincing him to marry her (since Macbeth's earlier memory of seeing Demona in her human form was erased). Demona thought the plan would then be for her and Thailog to reveal their true colors, imprison Macbeth, and take his fortune. In fact, Thailog's true plan called for Demona and Macbeth to kill each other, thus leaving both their fortunes in Thailog's talons. Fortunately for them, however, the plot was foiled by the timely appearance of Goliath, Elisa, Bronx, and Angela, who had been sent to Paris from Avalon.
Macbeth would eventually make his way back to Manhattan, where he would enact a ritual to bring powerful magic to himself. Unexpectedly, the spell summoned the legendary King Arthur and the English gargoyle Griff. Upon discovering that Arthur was trying to find the legendary sword Excalibur, Macbeth challenged the king for the sword, as the prophecy regarding to mentioned a "timeless king," a title which could as easily fit him as well as Arthur. Macbeth appeared to win and claimed the sword (visibly retained in the foreclaws of a stone dragon statue), but it turned out to be a decoy. As the stone dragon that held the decoy sword was "animated" by a stroke of lightning from an incipient thunderstorm, Arthur and Macbeth, along with the Manhattan Clan's own gargate members as allies of Arthur, did battle with the dragon while in midair, and within which Arthur found the true Excalibur as they defeated it together. When Arthur and Macbeth safely descended to earth with the gargoyles' help, Macbeth conceded that Arthur was the more worthy king. The pair reconciled and Arthur offered Macbeth a position as his knight. MacBeth declined the offer, doubting his ability to serve another after so long as his own man, but promised his assistance if the King ever needed him.
Most recently, Macbeth has found a new position in life as a professor of history at New York University. He appears on television to defend the Gargoyles against the propaganda of the Quarrymen. According to #2 of the bi monthly comics, Macbeth (under the alias of Lennox Macduff) is author of a book titled Gargoyles In Celtic Legend.
Aside from the first 2 issues in the adaptation of "The Journey," Macbeth appears in issue #7 of SLG's Gargoyles. Macbeth approaches the Manhattan Clan for help guarding the return of the Stone of Destiny to Scotland; Lexington and Hudson accompany him. Unfortunately, the mission becomes more difficult when the three encounter King Arthur and members of the London Clan. Fortunately, both sides quickly realize their interests are parallel and the meeting proves most pleasant as they immediately decide to cooperate.
Powers and abilities
Macbeth's only superhuman ability is the gift, or in his case curse, of immortality placed upon him by the Weird Sisters. As a result, Macbeth is immune to any further aging, disease, and cannot be killed through conventional means. The only way Macbeth can die is if he is killed by Demona - or if he himself kills Demona, as a simultaneous act by both of them - thereby making him and Demona linked in a manner of yin and yang.
Even though Macbeth appears to be middle aged, having sacrificed his youth to restore Demona's as part of the pact he'd made, he is an exceptional athlete in peak physical condition. He is also an extremely formidable combatant, both armed and unarmed. Even though he has no superhuman physical abilities, Macbeth's skill and physical conditioning allows him to hold his own against much stronger opponents such as Demona, Goliath, or any of the other Gargoyles he has encountered. Due to his extended lifespan and the vast fortune he has amassed over the centuries, Macbeth has become well versed in sorcery and various areas of science and technology as well.
In the unmade spinoff, Gargoyles 2198, Macbeth upon the start of the series would have the status of a hermit. According to Weisman, he would be active again in 2199. No further details have been made available.
- "TELEVISION REVIEW; Nocturnal and Excited About Books - New York Times". Nytimes.com. 1995-09-07. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- "Pendragon". Gargwiki.net. Retrieved April 9, 2012.