- "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."
The Black Rabbit of Inlé 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. However, he shouldn't be considered a villain since he is doing his work on the command of Lord Frith.
According to rabbit folklore, General Woundwort is a first cousin of his.
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.
In the animated series of Watership Down, the Black Rabbit of Inlé 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.
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. Afterwards, 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 had the ability to 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, but reveals that the one who will summon the Black Rabbit to claim Woundwort and his army of Darkhaven rabbits will have to surrender to his dark embrace.
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 own dark purposes. In a vicious whirlwind, the Black Rabbit of Inlé takes Woundwort and the Darkhaven rabbits to the Shadowlands 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.
The Black Rabbit appears in the miniseries, although portrayed as a doe. She appears twice in the miniseries.
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 of the seasons. 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.
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.
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.
- 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.