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General Woundwort

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General Woundwort


Place of Origin:Darkhaven
Death: Unknown, Possibly killed by Bob the dog
Appears in: Watership Down (book)
Film appearances
Appears in: Watership Down (film)

General Woundwort during his infamous fight with Bigwig.

General Woundwort is the primary antagonist of the book Watership Down, film and television series of the same name. He is the Chief Rabbit of Efrafa.


He is described as a rabbit almost as large as a hare. He is depicted with a savage look, complete with pale eyes, and fur color of undecided thought. Woundwort is orphaned at a young age when his father is shot by a human and his mother is killed by a weasel. Afterwards, he is taken in by a kind professor, who lives in a cottage and own a cat, which occasionally torments Woundwort when the man isn't looking. Once Woundwort is grown, he attempts to kill his first of "the thousand": the cat he lived with. After severely maiming the cat, Woundwort escapes, and finds his way to his first warren. He quickly usurps leadership, killing the lead rabbit and a rival named Fiorin. He then begins his militarian rule and conquers several other warrens, killing off their leaders personally. Thus Efrafa is born. 

Soon General Woundwort's Efrafa is too large to be maintained as warrens should be, and is transformed into a secretive, strictly-militaristic one, where all rabbits are given over to a strict code for when to silflay. Woundwort is a master schemer, and his strict code stops Efrafa from becoming plagued with disease, or being discovered by the thousand, or by humans. The Owsla becomes the great goal for many of the bucks, with patrols that spread out far and wide, tracking the whereabouts of the thousand, and of various humans. However, many of the does are discontent, since they are unable to breed properly because of overcrowding.

When Bigwig infiltrates the warren, he earns the General's respect thanks to his size and strength. When it turns out Bigwig only arrives to liberate a number of does and Blackavar, General Woundwort becomes obsessed with revenge against the former Sandleford rabbit. He holds a hatred for Bigwig for the remainder of the book, swearing to kill him personally.

Woundwort loses the respect of Efrafa after the escape of Bigwig, Blackavar and the does, along with the escape of the rabbits of Watership Down. In order to redeem what he sees as a personal failure, Woundwort takes the best of his legendary Owsla, along with some new bucks, to destroy Bigwig and his warren after learning of its location from his most trusted subordinate, Campion. On the journey to Watership Down, Woundwort drives off a pair of stoats.

The Efrafan Owsla reaches Watership Down, and once the warren is found, the General is confronted by Hazel, who offers a peaceful treaty with Woundwort, but is dismissed and told to "tell Bigwig" to unconditionally surrender. The Efrafans then besiege the warren and when they finally break through the barricades, Woundwort himself goes in first. Bigwig, in a last minute scheme to get one better at Woundwort, digs himself under a thin layer of dirt, then, when Woundwort passes over him, jumps up and injures the General's foreleg so severely that Woundwort is forced to hobble on three legs. Despite this crippling blow, Woundwort puts up a savage fight against Bigwig and wounds him, but ultimately succumbs to exhaustion and backs down. Bigwig further tricks Woundwort, saying that he's not the chief rabbit. This shocks Woundwort, who automaticly assumes there is an even bigger and stronger rabbit than Bigwig, not realizing that the lead rabbit is the small, but clever Hazel, who is already off on a scheme which will end Woundwort's reign forever.

When the General leads Efrafa into the Battle of Watership Down, Hazel leads Dandelion and Blackberry to Nuthanger Farm, to release the black laborador, Bob, and lure him to the Efrafans. Thanks to the speed of Dandelion and Blackberry, as well as the gnawing of the rope by Hazel, the dog is unleashed on the Efrafan Owsla. When Woundwort hears all the commotion, he abandons Bigwig and emerges from the warren to find the entire battle turning into a bloodbath. General Woundwort is the only rabbit of Efrafa to stand his ground against the black labrador; the rest flee. Woundwort faces the dog and is never seen again.

Some believe he was killed, however some believe that he still lives on. He lives on in ghost stories; rabbit parents would tell their kittens that if the didn't do what the were told, Woundwort would return. "Such was his monument, and maybe it wouldn't have disappointed him."


In the film, Woundwort is depicted as a large, brown rabbit with a dark green right eye, while his left is blind. He is the only rabbit who is shown with extra teeth. He shares the other characteristics of the other movie Efrafans, including a darker colour, a more ragged appearance, prominent claws, and dark circles under his eyes. 

General Woundwort TV series

General Woundwort in the TV series

TV SeriesEdit

Woundwort serves as the primary antagonist of the television series. A brutal and tyrannical leader who sees himself as the one doing everything for the best of his warren, Woundwort strives to destroy Hazel and his 'outsiders' because of the hope for free life they represent for his own subjects. He is the biggest rabbit in the series and has black, ragged fur, notched ears, a red right eye and his left eye is blind. He deeply respects Campion, even after his betrayal by him, and he often punishes and threatens Vervain, but still values him as an adviser and loyal subject despite this. He briefly shows a softer side after Pipkin tells him that his mother was killed by a weasel (a fate that Woundwort himself went through), and for a brief moment before Efrafa's destruction sees himself for what he is and what he has brought Efrafa to. After the destruction of Efrafa, Woundwort becomes obsessed with seeking his destiny of destruction, which leads him to the warren he was born in: Darkhaven. In the end, Woundwort pays the ultimate price for his actions and as punishment, he and his Darkhaven minions are taken away to the Shadowlands.


Fall of Efrafa - Woundwort:

The British Post-hardcore/Neo-crust band Fall of Efrafa is a concept band who has recorded a trilogy of albums based loosely around the mythology of Watership Down. This trilogy is known as The Warren of Snares and consists of the albums Owsla (2006), Elil (2007) and Inlé (2009)


Woundwort is a cruel, savage, bloodthirsty and psychotic Chief rabbit, and will eliminate anyone who gets in his way. When asked if he prefers peace or war, and life or death, he selects war and death, showing that his viciousness surpasses that of most Elil, who only kill for food. He believes that all his decisions are for the good of the warren, and will kill anyone who opposes him. Woundwort is cold, brutal and tyrannical, and very rarely shows fear. As a young adult, he willingly engages in a fight with a cat, severely wounding it. He is also incredibly brave in the face of a savage dog, yelling "dogs aren't dangerous!" and then leaping at the Elil to deal with it himself, while his Owsla run for their lives. Despite his fearless front, Pipkin sees through it and realizes that Woundwort is actually full of fear, but instead of giving in to it he uses it to make him stronger.

In the Television series, Woundwort is portrayed as a more tragic character and does occasionally show a softer side. Fiver's visions tell him that Woundwort has not always been evil, but is full of hate, fear and loss after his parents were killed and after spending time in a man's cage with a cat constantly tormenting him. Unfortunately, Woundwort's way of handling his own pain is to make everyone else's lives as miserable as his own. He also realizes how destructive his actions are shortly before the destruction of Efrafa and even contemplates changing his ways. However, when the Watership Down rabbits and their army attack, without giving Woundwort a chance to negotiate and ignoring him when he tries to stop the fighting, he forgets about redeeming himself after falling into a fissure, believing that it is his destiny to cause destruction. In Woundwort's opinion, Hazel is no better than he is, because of the relentless attack that indirectly leads to Efrafa's destruction.

Woundwort is also noted for being an intelligent military strategist. At some point before the beginning of the TV series he and his troops kill a fox and use its skull as a warning for other Elil without losing any rabbits. In addition to military strategy, Woundwort is good at manipulation. Whilst he almost always gains others loyalty by terrifying them, he actually makes the effort to befriend Pipkin in the hopes of learning where his warren is. While he initially only befriends Pipkin to learn the location of his warren, Woundwort quickly developes a genuine attachment to the young rabbit and tells Vervain that if he kills him he would be killing part of himself. Although he says he would "deal with" Pipkin if necessary he does not specify whether he would kill him or simply try to discipline him as he would discipline members of his Owsla. In fact Woundwort even suggests that Pipkin would make a fine Captain of Owsla when he is older. He treats Pipkin like a favourite nephew during the short time Pipkin spends in Efrafa, allowing him onto his throne and telling him he has "a flare for command". Additionally Woundwort even opens up to Pipkin about his dark and difficult past, something that he apparently has never told anyone else as he states in an earlier episode, when Fiver has a vision about Woundworts childhood, that "Only the Black Rabbit of Inle could know these things".

Woundwort has a good relationship with Campion, which may be why Campion is reluctant to betray him, despite knowing how brutal Woundwort can be. When Vervain constantly hurls accusations of treachery at Campion and deprives him of food, Woundwort expresses concern that he would starve and suggests that Vervain might be mistaken. Furthermore after being convinced that Vervain is not only mistaken but has also gone mad, Woundwort personally apologises to Campion and reappoints him Captain of Owsla. This shows that he can acknowledge his mistakes. Even after learning that Vervain is right and Campion is a traitor, Woundwort still maintains his respect for him because Campion saves him when a boulder is about to fall on him. Woundwort is shocked by Campion's sacrifice but also grateful for it, despite his previous rage at Campion's betrayal. His respect for Campion causes him to consider abandoning his bloodthirsty ways and trying to live peacefully instead. Ironically Hazel, who has wanted peace with Woundwort all along, destroys any chance of befriending him when he leads the attack on Efrafa shortly before its destruction.

In the final season of the television series, Woundwort's obsession with destruction ultimately drives him insane. While he does tell Campion, Blackberry and Spartina that there was a time when he would have changed his ways, his rage and lust for revenge convinces him that there is no difference between him and Hazel and that war is the only solution. He wishes to build a dark empire in the name of the Black Rabbit of Inle. Ironically, Woundwort is destroyed by the very deity he worships when the Black Rabbit decides that he is going too far.

Woundwort is arguably the deadliest fighter in any adaption of Watership Down, rivaling or even surpassing Elil in some cases. For example, in the past, he has severely injured a cat and fought rats, squirrels, magpies and once, a crow. Also, despite being wounded and exhausted from his fight with Bigwig, he fearlessly initiates a fight with a great, black dog, although his body is never found, making it unclear if he survives the encounter. In the TV series, he also fights off a weasel and slays a hawk all by himself, not even attempting to take cover but instead facing them in direct combat. He is also said to have killed the chief rabbits of other warrens personally. The only rabbit strong enough to give Woundwort a real challenge is Bigwig and even he has to use a surprise attack in order to make the fight even. Even with a nasty wound limiting his mobility, Woundwort still comes very close to killing Bigwig, but ultimately succumbs to exhaustion. In the television series, during one of his "daily exercises", Woundwort is able to defeat three members of his Owsla effortlessly. Woundwort's massive size gives him a significant advantage against most opponents. It is said that he won almost every fight of his life by using his weight.


  • Woundwort's father is named Hemlock and his mother is Laurel.
  • Woundwort is a name of a herb.
  • In the TV series, Woundwort was born in Darkhaven and is also known as 'the Dark One'.
  • Woundwort is voiced by Harry Andrews in the film.
  • In the television series, General Woundwort was voiced by the famous actor John Hurt. This was Hurt's second time working on an adaption of Watership Down as he had previously voiced Hazel in the movie, along with the irony in that since Woundwort is Hazel's enemy.

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