Prince John is the main antagonist of the 1973 film Robin Hood and while he continues to be a villain in literature he is a far more divisive character unlike other characters who are either used such as Vixen who is also one of his soldiers in The Curse of Maid Marian in place of her daughter Charmer and Lady Blue or are original characters such as Nadira who are heroic and stay heroic.
He is a far more divisive character because in Terror of the Whippet and The Curse of Maid Marian most notably, Prince John is shown in a far more sinister light rather than the babyish and cowardly light he was shown in in the original 1973 Robin Hood film; in The Rise and Fall of Mirage and Nightmare of Nome however, he is shown in a more benevolent light.
Not only is Prince John shown in a far more evil light in The Curse of Maid Marian but so are Sir Hiss and the Sheriff of Nottingham. The character being shown in a far more tyrannical light in the story is also used for the Scandinavian Alliance in the Cold War II series spin off The Recruits.
He is an anthropomorphic lion with gold fur, a cream muzzle, no actual mane, yellow eyes with black pupils, a couple pair of 3 whiskers on his face and a chocolate colored nose.
Prince John wears a gold crown with colorful jewel shapes around it and matching rings with red and green jewels, in his traditional form he wears red and/or blue robe with white brims consisting of black lines around them and brown sandals which he also continues to wear in his other appearances particularly in The Lioness and the Lion Prince and The Rise and Fall of Mirage.
In the Anthro Saga however he loses his rings, crown and sandals and goes barefoot but after the coup he wears black judges robes as he is a judge at the post coup trials alongside Shere Khan, Red and Lord Shen. In his priest form in Nightmare of Nome he wears black trousers and a white robe like a priest with a gold cross around his neck. In Terror of the Whippet and The Curse of Maid Marian Prince John goes barefoot.
Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham return this time as heroes in the story The Rise and Fall of Mirage. The prince becoming the first person to find a dying Mirage who had been viciously attacked by a gang of thugs, he rescues Mirage from death but in the process puts her through a session of excruciating pain which ends with a deathly silence.
But the Prince does not kill Mirage as much as he greatly weakens her so he visits her in hospital after a week when she gets her strength back, here she tells the Prince of the animals who attacked her and they swear revenge on them, Mirage joins the Prince in ruling England until the Sherwood Genocide where she is captured after a raid on the castle.
The thugs put Mirage on trial and execute her, hearing the news Prince John flies into a rage and slaughters the thugs. Finally, to stop anyone finding her body, Prince John unties Mirage from her bounds and has the body soaked in gasoline and burned as he and his supporters give a Roman salute.
Nightmare of Nome:
Prince John plays a more minor role in the story Nightmare of Nome where he now plays the part of a priest. It is also him who tells the story of Scarface and how he became "The Nightmare Fox".
He later appears at the end of the story accompanying the Dream vixen to the home of Jenna and Balto where they visit the pair and the Dream vixen tells him that the dream world is back to normal with the death of the Nightmare Fox.
War of the Wild and Terror of the Whippet:
In War of the Wild, Prince John is an unseen character who appears as a dictator of a parallel world and whose portrait is shown everywhere, even in prison cells which an infuriated Charmer tears off the wall and attempts to destroy in a rage after Lord Shen and the Grand Duke of Owls ruthlessly interrogate her and Ranger. The portraits also show the caption "All Animals are Equal. But some are more equal than others." the caption later is mentioned by Squealer in All Animals are Equal after he slanders Natasha for the theft of the Sword Kladenets.
Following their escape from prison, the prince's portrait continues to exist on buildings and even in Shere Khan's hideout and other buildings. At the end of the story though, the portrait eventually appears less and less until Terror of the Whippet where it no longer exists, his portrait however appears at his house where he finally appears in a physical form as a host for a dinner party which is short lived as Ranger throws chemicals given to him by Zira into a fireplace engulfing the house in smoke.
It could be argued that of all Prince John's appearances, his most recent appearance in The Curse of Maid Marian is the one where he is shown in the most evil light as he returns as the main antagonist. And it is also in this story where he is shown to be a lot more tyrannical and dictatorial than in his previous appearances;
Prince John being shown in a far more evil light in The Curse of Maid Marian is also a technique used for Red in The King of Hell which shows him in probably his most evil light. It is also used for Bounder in Bounder and the Time Lord and Battle of the Foxes. But while he is far more evil in the story, Prince John is not quite as evil looking as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
In the story, he has been overthrown and now lives in exile where he happens to be in the right place at the right time one night when he sees Robin Hood return to his old home in Sherwood Forest with his new wife Maid Marian and intends to exact revenge on the fox who ridiculed him for years. First he splits the pair up then confronts Robin personally then finally he takes out a knife and attacks Robin with it killing him in front of Marian and leaving him with unspeakable injuries.
With Robin dead, Prince John turns his attention to Maid Marian and has his men assault her whilst he listens to her screams which he also laughs at. Finally, he calls off his men and attacks Marian with the same knife he attacked Robin with leaving her with the same unspeakable injuries as Robin and leaves her for dead. The foxes dead, Prince John and his men get too carried away and set about killing off all whoever knew Robin or supported him including Robin's right hand man Little John, Maid Marian's handmaiden Lady Kluck and Friar Tuck.
Days pass and with Prince John back on the throne, he sets about covering his tracks having all those whoever participated in the murder of Robin Hood and the torture of Maid Marian purged and executed much to the confusion of his right hand man Sir Hiss. He also orders not only the deaths of everyone who attacked Robin and Marian but also orders the deaths of their families, then finally after these executions he orders one last death: The general who ordered the purge.
To make up for those he killed, Prince John replaces his men with new guards ranging from coyotes, wolves and even foxes to lions and hyenas; the only animals he does not recruit into his guards are children but he does recruit men and women into the guards and indeed the army. Then he sets about creating a very early Orwellian style personality cult which shows him as a just leader and his actions being deemed as necessary to eradicate the threats to civilization which in turn gives him massive support from the government and indeed the army.
As well as a personality cult, the prince uses the methods of Napoleon to cover his tracks by further slandering Robin Hood and even going so far as to slander a member of royalty: Maid Marian. He also has the public told that Robin was a threat to the people of Nottingham and their deaths were necessary to save them from chaos.
During his reign, whilst Marian kills off several insignificant followers of him at night she sends taunting letters to him in the day time, the early ones not convincing him at all and even infuriating him despite the fact they are all written in the same thing: Blood. The letters even infuriate the prince enough for him to shout at the Sheriff "GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!" and to throw Sir Hiss across the room like a javelin.
As for these letters, they end up either torn up or thrown off the battlements of his castle. But there is one particular letter which gets his attention and is personally addressed to him. It reads:
"Yes, you have killed Robin Hood! But you won't kill his legacy! You have assaulted me but you didn't kill me, HIS WIFE! As I write this letter, I hereby put a curse on you and all of your supporters; some of them have even felt the full force of my wrath! At the appointed hour, as the clock is chiming, THE NECKS OF NOTTINGHAM WILL BE CUT!The content of this letter is enough to send him catatonic and make him display a thousand yard stare. As he forgets the letter, Prince John retreats to his bedroom where he discovers the words "PRAY IT'S ONLY A NIGHTMARE!" painted on the walls and on the bedroom door in blood which petrifies him.
Fear me, Prince John for I have killed off your other supporters. I could easily kill you as well! AT THE APPOINTED HOUR, ROBIN WILL BE AVENGED! AND YOU, PRINCE JOHN! YOU WILL SUCCUMB TO THE CURSE! THE CURSE OF MAID MARIAN! Just pray that your death, IS ONLY, A NIGHTMARE!"
Fortunately, Sir Hiss is with him when he sees these words on the walls and to snap him out of the trance, Hiss bites Prince John on the hand causing him to scream in pain. As he looks around, the words have gone and Hiss is catapulted halfway across the room.
On Hiss's advice, Prince John takes a rest in an attempt to forget the letter that was addressed to him and sent him into a state of catatonia. Whilst the prince sleeps, he does not realize that Maid Marian has infiltrated the castle and kidnapped Sir Hiss. He also does not hear Hiss's screams as Marian impales him on an arrow and fires him through the city of Nottingham.
The death of Sir Hiss causes no sympathy from Prince John at all because he still intends to carry on with a festival involving a jousting match in spite of the Sheriff's warning that this is where the assassin may strike. He himself attends and watches the death of one of his prominent supporters at the hands of Maid Marian and soon watches a sword fight between her and his most prominent supporter; he describes the sword fight between hyena and vixen as more entertaining than a jousting match.
His suspicions however come in when the assassin is too good. With his most prominent supporter dead, the prince orders the assassin's arrest and unmasks the figure as: Maid Marian.
At first he refuses to believe this figure is Marian but she shouts back "It IS me Prince John, and you'd better believe it!". She also adds that Prince John can imprison her but it won't make any difference because he will still die; the prince replies "Your wish is my command!" and has Marian thrown in the dungeons; he listens to her screaming "I'LL KILL YOU!" as she is dragged away to the dungeons.
Following Marian's imprisonment, the prince does not appear again until he is informed of the deaths of the last of the army. Finally, Prince John reluctantly listens to the Sheriff and has him put in charge of the last of his men to fight Marian one last time...except it doesn't work at all and Marian kills them all except the Sheriff who has fled.
Marian bursts into his throne room to kill the prince but as he is nowhere to be found, declares that she is the new queen of England causing Prince John to come out of the shadows. He declares "I very much doubt that Marian! The monarch always holds the Trump card!" and pull his trump card is the Prince's next course of action.
His trump card being his last surviving henchman the Sheriff of Nottingham armed with a special chain made to resemble a scavenger's daughter which has five shackles: One for the neck and four for the limbs (two for the arms and two for the legs). Marian's triumphant face falls as the Prince proclaims that it won't be Marian who kills him, it will be him who kills her as he intends to throw Marian off the battlements.
The Sheriff throws the chain at Marian and the limb chains fasten around her arms and legs before one last chain fastens around her neck. With Marian his prisoner, Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham drag her to the battlements and whilst they actually get to the battlements, Marian draws a dagger and kills the Sheriff of Nottingham when she plunges the dagger into his back and throws him off the battlements into the castle moat. With his prisoner freed with the death of the Sheriff and his last henchman dead, the lion and the vixen prepare to fight to the death.
At first, the lion and the vixen both draw swords and fight a ferocious duel which results in him being slashed on the chest but he keeps on fighting. Marian later chases Prince John to the castle where he runs her through with a pike intending to take off her chest plate and succeeds in doing so.
The prince laughs wickedly now that Marian is now vulnerable to attack and prepares to properly run her through the pike but she is too quick and slams him against a wall. Another sword fight ensures but the fight becomes even more ferocious when the prince grabs a flail and starts swinging it to Marian hoping to kill her even more or seriously injure her even more for that matter.
Marian however grabs a shield and intends to go back to sword fighting which Prince John agrees and both lion and vixen go back to the battlements. The prince appears to win when he disarms Marian and throws her back onto the ground...But Marian uses the crossbow to kill the prince aiming the crossbow at his chest and pulling the trigger causing the Prince to scream in pain, his screams frightening a former soldier of his and a soldier Marian spared.
The prince's body goes limp and as he staggers towards Marian, she grabs his body and throws him back into his own castle.
The Anthro Saga:
In the Anthro Saga, Prince John first appears as one of the judges of the Junta first appearing with Shere Khan and Red on a trial of former military personnel. He also comes across as one of the Junta's royalist members still wearing the robes he previously wore in his previous two stories, in the saga he is also married to Mirage.
It is also him who starts the trend of many members of the Junta including Scarface and Shere Khan to commission artists to paint their portraits and hanging them around the houses previously occupied by the Junta which many members instantly take over, arresting the occupants. In fact, the Prince could even be described as the first Junta member who does this as he and his men take over Pongo's house, place Pongo and his wife under arrest (until they are rescued by the resistance) and set about taking down the portraits of the family which are kept in a basement, replacing these portraits with his own.
As the Junta wanes it is also Mirage who tries to persuade him to come with him however he is too weakened by his injuries before finishing himself off with a gunshot through his mouth. At the end of the Junta Prince John is not granted either a state funeral or a military funeral but has the unique distinction of having his body lie in state, his body is later transferred where Mirage also pays her last respects to him. Once the dictatorship is over, the portraits of the Junta members are not destroyed as assumed; they are actually hung up in an art gallery.