Rabbit of Caerbannog

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Rabbit of Caerbannog
Monty Python character
The Killer Rabbit attacks Lancelot
First appearanceMonty Python and the Holy Grail
Last appearanceSpamalot
Created byMonty Python and Eric Idle
In-universe information

The Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog is a fictional character in the Monty Python film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.[1] The scene in Holy Grail was written by Graham Chapman and John Cleese.[2] The rabbit is the antagonist in a major set piece battle, and makes a similar appearance in Spamalot, a musical inspired by the movie.[3] The iconic status of this scene was important in establishing the viability of the musical.[4]

In the film[edit]

The Cave of Caerbannog is the home of the Legendary Black Beast of Arrrghhh (named for the last utterance of anyone who ever saw it).[5] This is guarded by a monster which is initially unknown.[6] King Arthur (Graham Chapman) and his knights are led to the cave by Tim the Enchanter (John Cleese) and find that they must face its guardian beast. Tim verbally paints a picture of a monster so terrible as to have killed everyone who has tried to enter the cave, and warns them, "death awaits you all – with nasty, big, pointy teeth!". As the knights approach the cave and the rabbit, their "horses" become nervous, forcing the knights to dismount. Sir Robin (Eric Idle) soils his armour upon merely seeing it, before everyone except Tim sizes it up as merely an innocuous white rabbit.[7] Despite the cave's entrance being surrounded by the bones of "four-fifty men" fallen, Arthur and his knights no longer take it seriously. Ignoring Tim's warnings ("a vicious streak a mile wide!"), King Arthur orders Bors (Terry Gilliam) to chop the rabbit's head off. Bors draws his sword and confidently approaches it. The rabbit suddenly leaps at least eight feet directly at Sir Bors' neck and bites clean through it in a single motion, decapitating him to the sound of a can opener. Despite their initial shock, Sir Robin soiling his armour again, and Tim's loud scoffing, the knights attack in force, but the rabbit injures several of the knights and kills Gawain and Ector with ease. The knights themselves have no hope of killing or injuring the rabbit. Arthur panics and shouts for the knights to retreat ("Run away!"). Sir Robin asks if running away "more" would confuse it. Knowing they cannot risk attacking again, they try to find another way to defeat the beast. The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is ultimately used to kill the rabbit and allow the quest to proceed.[8]

Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch[edit]

The Sovereign's Orb of the United Kingdom, which The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch satirises

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch is a visual satire of the Sovereign's Orb of the United Kingdom, and may refer to the mythical Holy Spear of Antioch. The Holy Hand Grenade is described as one of the "sacred relics" carried by Brother Maynard (Idle). Despite its ornate appearance and long-winded instructions, it functions much the same as any other hand grenade. At King Arthur's prompting, instructions for its use are read aloud (by Michael Palin) from the fictitious Book of Armaments, Chapter 2, verses 9–21, parodying the King James Bible and the Athanasian Creed:

...And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O LORD, bless this Thy hand grenade, that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy." And the LORD did grin, and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and large chu... [At this point, the friar is urged by Brother Maynard to "skip a bit, brother"]... And the LORD spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."[9]

Arthur then pulls the pin, holds up the Holy Hand Grenade and cries out "One! Two! Five!" Sir Galahad (Palin) corrects him: "Three, sir!" (Arthur's innumeracy is a running gag in the picture).[9] Arthur then yells "Three!" and hurls the grenade towards the rabbit. The grenade soars through the air – accompanied by a short bit of angelic choral a cappella – bounces, and explodes. The killer rabbit is defeated, and the hapless knights errant continue on their quest. The noise also attracts policemen who were investigating the murder of a historian by a mounted knight earlier in the film.


The rabbit scene was shot outside the Tomnadashan mine,[10] a cave 4 miles (6.5 km) from the Perthshire village of Killin. For the 25th anniversary DVD, Michael Palin and Terry Jones returned to be interviewed in front of the cave but they could not remember the location.[11][12]

The rabbit was portrayed in the movie by both a real rabbit and a puppet.[13]

The name "Caerbannog", though fictitious, does reference real world Welsh naming traditions. In this case, the prefix "Caer-" implies the presence of a castle, as with Caerdydd (Cardiff) and Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen).


The façade on Notre Dame that gave inspiration

The tale of the rabbit has a parallel in the early story of the Roman de Renart in which a foe takes hubristic pride in his defeat of a ferocious hare:[14]

Si li crachait en mi le vis
Et escopi par grant vertu[15]

The idea for the rabbit in the movie was taken from the façade of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. This illustrates the weakness of cowardice by showing a knight fleeing from a rabbit.[16]


The rabbit has been reproduced in the form of merchandise associated with the movie or musical. Such items include cuddly toys,[17] slippers[18] and staplers.[19] The plush killer rabbit was rated the second geekiest plush toy of all time by Matt Blum of the GeekDad blog on Wired.com, coming second to the plush Cthulhu.[20]


The rabbit was declared the top movie bunny by David Cheal in The Daily Telegraph.[21] It also ranked high in an Easter 2008 poll to establish Britain's best movie rabbit, coming third to Roger Rabbit and Frank from Donnie Darko.[22]

Cultural impact[edit]

The rabbit is now used as a metaphor for something which seems ostensibly harmless but is, in fact, deadly.[23] Such hidden but real risks may even arise from similarly cuddly animals.[24] The humour of the scene comes from this inversion of the usual framework by which safety and danger are judged.[25] Four years after the release of the movie, Killer Rabbit was the term used widely by the press to describe the swamp rabbit that "attacked" then U.S. President Jimmy Carter while he was fishing on a farm pond.[26]

In Apple Inc.'s iOS system, Siri may say that the "Rabbit of Caerbannog" is its favorite animal when asked.[27][28]

Creatures & Treasures, a sourcebook for Iron Crown Enterprises' Rolemaster tabletop role-playing game, includes a "Killer Rabbit" monster entry. The creature's outlook is given as "Hostile", with a note that it "bounds for the throat, never for another part of the body." Another note in the description instructs the gamemaster to "treat 'exploding' attacks [made against the rabbit] as 'slaying' (H.H.G.O.A.)", a clear reference to the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.[29]

In the video game Minecraft, there is a command that players can run that will spawn in the killer rabbit, or, as it is called in the game, "The Killer Bunny".[30][31]

In the video game Worms (series), there is a Holy Hand Grenade aka "Hallelujah Bomb" that players can use. A reference to the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch

In the cellphone game Fate/Grand Order, it's revealed that Tristan jokes about Born's death, saying he died after being killed by a "dreaded vorpal bunny", and that it was held by Gawain, beaten by Lancelot, and kicked by Mordred.[citation needed]

In the MMORPG Old School RuneScape, an NPC simply named "Rabbit" exists in the elven land of Prifddinas. The Rabbit's Design is clearly based on the Rabbit of Caerbannog and despite having a combat level of 2 it has 5000 hitpoints and can hit a player for up to 40 damage.[32] This adds on to the numerous Monty Python easter eggs that exist within the game.

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch was seen in the 2018 movie Ready Player One used by the main character Wade Watts.

In the video game series Wizardry, in the early titles, there is a monster called "Vorpal Bunny" which has a chance to decapitate upon a successful hit.

In the video game Fallout: New Vegas, if the "Wild Wasteland" trait is picked during character creation, "Holy Frag Grenades" can be found in the basement of a church in Camp Searchlight, a plural and obvious reference to the Holy Hand Grenade, even with instructions written on a box beside these grenades reads "Pull pin and count to 5 3"

In the video game Dungeons of Dredmor, the Holy Hand Grenade is the second most powerful ranged area attack item in the game. The icon is identical to the grenade from the movie, and the flavor text on the item screen quotes Brother Maynard in the movie reading "O Lord, bless this thy hand grenade". The grenade does a huge amount of "righteous" type damage when thrown in a wave spreading out from the landing point in all directions for at least 5 squares so be careful where you are standing before using it! Multiple HHGs may be found or sometimes purchased at a throwing weapon vending machine in the late game.

In the video game Dragon's Crown, a Killer Rabbit is fought as one of the stage bosses and as in the film is capable of killing the player in a single bite attack. Additional references include bombs being strewn around its lair as usable weapons (the Holy Hand Grenade), weak knights who will assist the player if the battle takes too long (King Arthur's men), and a wizard resembling John Cleese's character of Tim the Enchanter who warns the player of the danger ahead.

In the video game Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, there is a quest to kill Stillwater Giant, which lives in a cave near the town of Stillwater. Stillwater Giant disguises itself as a blue rabbit. When you arrive at the cave, there is nothing but a blue rabbit bouncing around it. When you use a cage you got earlier, the rabbit ends in it. You are asked to take the rabbit at zoologist to verify it. Zoologist laughs you out. You have no choice but to steal fake pelt from H.T. Parnell's. When you present the fake pelt to Myrth, who gave you that quest, you can lie that's indeed a real pelt, or tell the truth. If you tell the truth, there is a change that you can encounter the real Stillwater Giant, a seemingly harmless blue rabbit which turns into 30lvl demon when attacked. The demon is pretty tough, but if you beat it, you get the real pelt and a fate point. You can sell the real pelt at H.T. Parnell's for 2000 coins.

Duke Nukem Time to Kill video game for the original Sony Playstation uses a weapon named literally the Holy Hand Grenade when you travel back in time to the Middle Ages in the game which does massive damage as well as bounces around homing in on enemies when thrown.

When a Tesla Model 3 is named "the rabbit of Caerbannog" a link to the Monty Python YouTube channel in the Tesla Theatre will appear.[33]

In the video game Conan Exiles and Isle of Siptah expansion, there is a hidden Easter Egg that can be discovered by any player. By demolishing a specific large rock a Rabbit with glowing eyes can be found sitting in the middle of a pile of bones and skulls. [34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Steven Gale (1996). Encyclopedia of British Humorists: Geoffrey Chaucer to John Cleese. Taylor & Francis. p. 155. ISBN 0-8240-5990-5.
  2. ^ Johnson, Kim Howard (1999). The First 200 Years of Monty Python. St Martin's. pp. 200. ISBN 9780312033095.
  3. ^ Ben Brantley (18 March 2005). "A Quest Beyond the Grail". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 May 2008.
  4. ^ Eric Idle (2005). The Greedy Bastard Diary: A Comic Tour of America. New York: HarperEntertainment. p. 312. ISBN 0-06-075864-3. "Will there be a Killer Rabbit?" "Yes." "Then I'm coming," he said, and went off gleefully shouting, "Ni!" Mike Nichols looked shocked. And impressed.
  5. ^ Chapman, Graham; Jones, Terry (1977). Monty Python and the Holy Grail (BOOK) / Monty Python's second film: a first draft. London: Methuen. p. 78. ISBN 0458929700.
  6. ^ Derek Albert Pearsall; Derek Pearsall (2003). Arthurian Romance: A Short Introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. p. 150. ISBN 0-631-23320-2.
  7. ^ Brian Kaylor (2007). For God's Sake Shut Up!: Lessons for Christians on How to Speak. Macon, Ga.: Smyth & Helwys Pub. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-57312-485-0.
  8. ^ Darl Larsen; William Proctor Williams (2003). Monty Python, Shakespeare and English Renaissance Drama. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 69. ISBN 0-7864-1504-5.
  9. ^ a b John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, Monty Python and the Holy Grail: The Screenplay, page 76, Methuen, 2003 (UK) ISBN 0-413-77394-9
  10. ^ "Panoramio – Photo of Tomnadashan mine". panoramio.com. Archived from the original on 22 June 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  11. ^ Charles Lavery (20 August 2000). "Monty Python & The Holey Grail". Sunday Mail. p. 29.
  12. ^ "Python's Killer Rabbit Search is a Holy Farce", Alastair Dalton, Scotland on Sunday, 20 August 2000, Pg. 3
  13. ^ Gilliam, Terry; Jones, Terry (2001). Monty Python and the Holy Grail commentary (DVD). Columbia Tristar.
  14. ^ J. R. Simpson (1996). Animal Body, Literary Corpus: The Old French "Roman de Renart". Rodopi. pp. 156–157. ISBN 90-5183-976-6.
  15. ^ Le Roman de Renart, Ernest Martin, ed., vol. 2, Strasbourg: Trubner, 1887, p. 199
  16. ^ Alan Parker; Mick O'Shea (2006). And Now for Something Completely Digital. New York: Disinformation. p. 66. ISBN 1-932857-31-1.
  17. ^ "Killer Rabbit with Big Pointy Teeth". Toy Mania. Retrieved 4 May 2008.
  18. ^ Lisa Traiger (9 June 2006). "Killer Bunnies and Comedy in King Arthur's Court". Washington Post.
  19. ^ Mark Zaslove (November 2007). "Toy Sleuth: It's a Big, Big World Minis and Scary Staplers Fight for the Spotlight". Toy Directory.
  20. ^ Blum, Matt (22 September 2008). "The 10 Geekiest Plush Toys Money Can Buy". Wired.
  21. ^ Cheal, David (5 October 2006). "Top five movie bunnies". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  22. ^ Alba (24 March 2008). "The Diary". The Scotsman.
  23. ^ William W. Betteridge; James F. Niss; Michael T. Pledge (1975). "Competition in Regulated Industries: Essays on Economic Issues". Center for Business and Economic Research, Western Illinois University. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  24. ^ Holger Breithaupt (2003). "Fierce creatures". EMBO Reports. 4 (10): 921–924. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.embor949. PMC 1326407. PMID 14528257.
  25. ^ R Simpson (September 1996). "Neither clear nor present: The social construction of safety and danger". Sociological Forum. Springer. 11 (3): 549–562. doi:10.1007/BF02408392.
  26. ^ Edward D. Berkowitz (2006). Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies. New York: Columbia Univ. Press. p. 115. ISBN 0-231-12494-5.
  27. ^ @montypython (9 July 2015). "Has anyone ever asked Siri what's it's favourite animal is?!#killerrabbit #MontyPython" (Tweet). Retrieved 13 July 2017 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ "These Are The Five Most Disturbing Responses Siri Has To Certain Questions". Sick Chirpse. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  29. ^ Charlton, S. Coleman; Short, Lee O.; et al. (1985). Creatures & Treasures. Charlottesville VA, USA: Iron Crown Enterprises. p. 30. ISBN 0915795302.
  30. ^ Minecraft For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. 2015. p. 107.
  31. ^ "Rabbit - Official Minecraft Wiki". minecraft.gamepedia.com. Gamepedia. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  32. ^ "Rabbit (Prifddinas)". oldschool.runescape.wiki. Weird Gloop. Retrieved 19 August 2019.[user-generated source]
  33. ^ Media, Ryan Daws | 7th October 2019 | TechForge (7 October 2019). "Tesla will allow users to customise their vehicle's horn and motor sounds". Internet of Things News. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  34. ^ Media, Pixelcave Gaming (5 October 2020). "Conan Exiles: Isle of Siptah - Secrets of Siptah Episode 4". Pixelcave Gaming Channel. Retrieved 5 October 2020.