Watership Down Wiki
Advertisement

"My empire is not of this world, Woundwort. And no creature invokes my name for their own dark ends."
—The Black Rabbit before banishing Woundwort in the TV series

The Black Rabbit of Inlé, also known as Inlé-rah ("Prince/Chief of the Moon" or "Prince/Chief of the Dead") to his ghostly Owsla, is one of the two posthumous overarching protagonists (alongside El-ahrairah) in the Watership Down series. He is the grim reaper of the rabbit world who takes rabbits away at their predestined times of death. He lives in a warren of stone on earth, inhabited by dead rabbits and filled with disease, death, and sadness beyond imagining.

Many of the rabbits fear the Black Rabbit, although he may not be considered a villain since he is doing his work on the command of Lord Frith, and may be viewed as a force that helps transition the rabbits into death. He also avenges any rabbit killed without his consent. According to rabbit folklore, General Woundwort is a first cousin of his.

Inlé is the Lapine term for darkness/fear/death/moon/moonrise, as well as the word for the Land of the Dead. However, Richard Adams also mentioned in his Reddit AMA that "Inlé just meant light in my mind".

Videoplayback Moment(11)
Spoiler Warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

Book[]

The Black Rabbit is mentioned when Dandelion tells a story and Bigwig requests El-ahrairah and the Black Rabbit of Inlé.

Film[]

"You've been feeling tired, haven't you? If you're ready, we might go along now. You needn't worry about them. They'll be all right...and thousands like them. If you'll come along, I'll show you what I mean."
— Inlé to the old, dying Hazel
93 zpsd13b1a2f

Fiver following the Black Rabbit in one of the film's most artistic and abstract scenes.

The Black Rabbit appears at the start of the film, where he is seen during the story of El-ahrairah. A vision of the Black Rabbit leads Fiver to his brother Hazel after he is shot while the song "Bright Eyes" plays.

At the end of the film, the Black Rabbit appears before an elderly Hazel and offers him a place in his Owsla. Hazel then dies before his spirit leaves with the Black Rabbit.

TV Series[]

In the animated series of Watership Down, the Black Rabbit of Inlé is mentioned periodically. In The Stand, Fiver has a vision of the Black Rabbit in the sky as a warning that one of the rabbits they know will die, with the rabbits theorizing it may be Captain Campion. He makes a full appearance in the third season of the series, enraged by the fact that the still-living Woundwort threatens the world of the living and aims to build an empire of destruction in the Black Rabbit's name. He appears in the episodes The Last Battle, A New World, The Beginning of the End, and The Magic.

Black Rabbit Wiki Picture

The Black Rabbit in the TV series

He appears before Campion, who had miraculously survived a cave-in between Watership Down and Efrafa, and chose him as his agent, tasking the rabbit to stop Woundwort from achieving his goal. Afterward, the Black Rabbit of Inlé appears before Campion in visions during the season. His dark curse placed on Campion saves the rabbit from being found out by Silverweed in Darkhaven, who can look into the hearts of other rabbits to see into their mind. In his final conversation with Campion, the Black Rabbit of Inlé reveals that he will let Campion and his friends live. However, he revealed that the one who would summon the Black Rabbit to claim Woundwort and his army of Darkhaven rabbits would have to surrender to his dark embrace.

TheMagic

The Black Rabbit rejects Woundwort.

In The Magic, Silverweed summons the Black Rabbit of Inlé using the magic he took from Hannah, despite knowing what will happen if he does. In a wind storm, the Black Rabbit appears before Woundwort and his army of Darkhaven rabbits atop Watership Down. Woundwort bows before the Black Rabbit and claims that he and his army are here to do his bidding, but the Black Rabbit coldly replies that his empire is not of the world of the living and that no creature uses his name for their dark purposes. In a vicious whirlwind, the Black Rabbit of Inlé takes Woundwort and the Darkhaven rabbits to the Shadowlands (except for Vervain and Granite who ran away out of the Black Rabbit’s range) and disappears without a trace. After the battle, Silverweed is revealed to be the one the Black Rabbit will take when he has aged dramatically as a price for using the magic.

Despite being the darkness of rabbit folklore, the Black Rabbit is shown to be assisting the rabbits of Watership Down and, through Campion, guiding them to defeat Woundwort.

Miniseries[]

The Black Rabbit appears in the miniseries, although portrayed as a doe. She appears twice in the miniseries.

Dd6d1pz-24ef5d1f-76ef-4596-b51c-ef2d5c47a49c

The Black Rabbit speaking to a very injured Hazel.

Her first appearance is when she talks to Hazel after he experiences an out-of-body experience after being shot in the leg by Mr. Cane while liberating Clover from Nuthanger Farm. He asks her who she is, and she replies she goes by many names but is commonly known as the Black Rabbit. Hazel asks her if he is to walk with her now, and she says all walk with her, but it is for a brief moment called "life" that rabbits leave her side. Hazel tells her he is scared, though she claims death is nothing to be afraid of, like the changing seasons. However, before disappearing, the Black Rabbit tells Hazel he has the potential to be a great leader, worthy of joining her Owsla. Hazel then awakens back to life.

1060885

The Black Rabbit with Hazel.

The Black Rabbit's second and final appearance is at the end of the series where she finds an elderly Hazel by a pond and convinces him to join her Owsla. Hazel tells her that he would be honored, and their reflections in the water disappear.

Personality[]

TV series[]

The Black Rabbit has a dark, sinister and menacing voice and even General Woundwort bows in his presence. Despite being tasked with taking dead creatures to the Shadow Realm, the Black Rabbit does not want the Shadow Realm to be brought to Earth by Woundwort's madness, asserting that his empire is not for the world of the living and no creature should use his name for their own dark purposes. Despite his dark reputation in rabbit folklore, the Black Rabbit is not truly evil; as he only carries out his task so that the rabbits will never be destroyed and will unleash terrible vengeance on any who kill them without his consent. He spends the entire third series subtly helping the Watership Down rabbits and Campion in particular (to whom he appears in dreams or visions) in order to defeat Woundwort.

Although the Black Rabbit is only capable of physically appearing through the power of magic, he has the ability to enter dreams and manipulate events from the Shadow Realm. His immense and terrifying power is shown in the final episode when he takes control of the wind, blows away Woundwort's entire army and takes them to the Shadow Realm; before vanishing without a trace.

Trivia[]

  • In the book, it is implied that El-ahrairah takes Hazel away instead. This is supported by a mention of the rabbit's ears glowing a silver light. Aldo Galli, an illustrator chosen by Richard Adams, also painted this approach.[1]

Gallery[]

Book[]

Film[]

TV series[]

Miniseries[]

Experimental unused models[]

Graphic Novel[]

Rabbits
Cross-media
Sandleford Warren
BigwigBlackberryBluebellCaptain HollyDandelionFiverHawkbitHazelHazel and Fiver's MotherPipkinPimpernelSilverThrearahToadflax

Nuthanger Farm
BoxwoodCloverHaystackLaurel
Cowslip's Warren
CowslipKingcupLaburnumSilverweedStrawberry
Efrafa
BlackavarCaptain CampionCaptain ChervilCaptain OrchisCharlockGeneral WoundwortHyzenthlayRagwortSainfoinThethuthinnangThistleVervainVilthuril
Folklore
Black Rabbit of InléEl-ahrairahHufsaRabscuttle

Books only
Introduced in Watership Down
AcornAshAvensBartsiaBetonyBuckthornButterburCaptain BuglossCaptain MallowColtsfootFlescaGroundselMarjoramMoneywortNelthiltaNightshadeNildro-hainNose-in-the-AirPine NeedlesScabiousSnowdropSpeedwellThrayonlosaThrearThunder

Introduced in Tales from Watership Down
BurdockCelandineCrowfootCrowlaFescueFlyairthFoxgloveHeartseaseKing Fur-RociousKnapweedLemistaLoosestrifeMelsaMianMilmownNyreemPeertonPrakeQuiensRithlaSandwortStitchwortStonecropThrennionTindraWoodruff

AspenBlueskyButtercupCaptain BroomFelsparFlaxGentianGiliaGorseGraniteHeatherHickoryLarchMallowMarigoldMossPrimroseRaincloudRedShaleSnowdropSpartinaSpeaker of the PastLaurel
Film/Miniseries only
Dewdrop (Miniseries) • Nettle (Miniseries) • Violet (film)
Advertisement