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Ashley Joanna Williams is a fictional character and the protagonist of The Evil Dead franchise. Created by Sam Raimi, he is portrayed by Bruce Campbell and is the only character to appear in each entry of the series, including an after-credits scene appearance for the remake-continuation film. Throughout the series, Ash has to face off against his loved ones inside an abandoned cabin as they are possessed by "The Kandarian Demon", an evil and powerful entity. In 2008, Ash was selected by Empire magazine as the 24th greatest movie character of all time, and in 2013, was voted by Empire as the greatest horror movie character ever.
|Ashley Joanna Williams|
|Evil Dead character|
|First appearance||The Evil Dead|
|Last appearance||Ash vs Evil Dead|
|Created by||Sam Raimi|
|Portrayed by||Bruce Campbell|
|Voiced by||Bruce Campbell|
Danny Webber (Poker Night 2)
|Appearances||The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness, Ash vs Evil Dead, Evil Dead: Hail to the King, Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, Evil Dead: Regeneration, Army of Darkness: Defense, Poker Night 2, Broforce, Dead by Daylight|
|Occupation||Owner of Ashy Slashy's Hardware (and Sex Toy) emporium|
(Former) Housewares clerk at S-Mart
(Former) Stockboy at Value Stop
|Family||Cheryl Williams (sister; deceased)|
Brock Williams (father; deceased)
Candace "Candy" Barr (wife; deceased)
Branson "Brandy" Barr (daughter)
|Birth date||April 8, 1957|
|Friends||Shelly, Scott, Linda, Chet Kaminski, Pablo Simon Bolivar, Kelly Maxwell, Dalton|
In addition to appearances in the films, Ash has been featured in various comic book series and video games.
The Evil DeadEdit
Ash and his girlfriend Linda, sister Cheryl, and friends Scott and Shelly stay at a log cabin in the woods, where they find the "Naturon Demonto" (renamed or possibly translated to Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the sequels), the "Book of the Dead", along with a tape recorder. The tape is a recording made by the cabin's owner Professor Knowby, who was translating a passage of the book. By playing the tape, the group unknowingly awaken the Kandarian Demon (the titular "Evil Dead") which can possess the living. They are possessed and killed one by one, until only Ash remains. He finally destroys the Necronomicon by throwing it in the fireplace, and in doing so causes the possessed bodies of Scott and Cheryl to rapidly decay and "die". However, the film ends with Ash being attacked or possibly overtaken by the Kandarian Demon.
Evil Dead IIEdit
In an alternate recap of the previous film, we see Ash and Linda go to the same cabin. Ash finds a reel to reel player and plays the tape. He releases the Evil Dead and Linda gets possessed. Ash decapitates her with a shovel and buries her. Then the Evil Dead chases Ash through the cabin and attacks Ash (just like the end of the first film). From this point, the film continues the story from where the first film left off. Carried a good distance by the demon, Ash is slammed against a tree and falls in a puddle of water; he becomes a deadite, but shortly afterwards is released from the spirit by the light of dawn, only to pass out. Ash regains consciousness moments before sunset. Deciding to get out of there as fast as he can, he climbs into his car and drives to where the bridge was, only to find it completely destroyed by the Evil Dead. As the sun quickly sets, said force starts climbing up the cliff, and Ash hops into his car, driving away as fast as he can and as a result, crashing right into a tree stump that sends him flying through the windshield.
With the Kandarian Demon close behind him, he runs into (and through) the cabin, trying to hide, and ducks into the trapdoor leading to the fruit cellar, waiting until the evil force leaves. After it does, Ash comes out, only to find himself stuck at the cabin with the Evil Dead for yet another night. Shortly after, the Kandarian Demon toys with his mind and his reflection in the mirror comes to life. After this, Ash's right hand is possessed, resulting in him having to cut it off at the wrist with his chainsaw. Later, the cabin owner's daughter, Annie Knowby and three others arrive to discover what became of Professor Knowby. They arrive at the cabin and initially believe that Ash killed Knowby which results in them locking him in the fruit cellar. However, after finding Knowby's research they soon realize that an evil force is behind the events that transpired. Eventually Ash works with them to survive the demon's attempts to kill them. However soon the others are killed off, leaving only Ash and Annie.
Ash, having no other option, begins fighting the deadites pro-actively. He also gets his famous chainsaw in place of his right hand, with the "boomstick" to match. Annie reads passages from the missing pages of the Necronomicon which she had retrieved for her father, the first passage to force the Kandarian Demon to manifest physically, and the second to open a space-time vortex to banish the now-corporeal demonic spirit. However, Annie is stabbed by Ash's possessed disembodied hand; as she dies, Annie continues to read the last passage, but succumbs to her wound and is unable to close the vortex after the now-corporeal entity has been sucked away. The film ends with Ash being sucked into the vortex after the entity, and sent traveling back in time to 1300 AD Europe, where the locals claim, according to their prophecies, that he is "the hero that falls from the sky" who will save them from the deadites.
Army of DarknessEdit
After being accidentally transported to medieval Europe, Ash must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home. Ash must also defeat his alter-ego known as "Bad Ash", who is leading the Army of Darkness to re-steal the Necronomicon. Ash constructs a mechanical prosthetic hand out of a gauntlet from a suit of armor, using it throughout the film in place of the chainsaw when it is not needed. The film is split into two endings: The first and intentional ending resulted in Ash defeating the Army of Darkness and being given the potion to sleep until his time. However, distracted by a sudden movement in the rocks, Ash drinks too much and awakens in post-apocalyptic London. The film then cuts straight to black and his insane laughter is heard. The second ending, and one more familiar with US and Australian audiences, consists of Ash simply riding off into the distance and returning to the present. Here, he boasts of his victory to his co-workers at the S-Mart where he and Linda had worked at, but is suddenly interrupted by the possession of a female customer. After killing it, Ash is hailed a hero and he kisses a newfound love interest.
In 2015, an older Ash appears as the main character in Ash vs Evil Dead, a horror comedy series for Starz. The show continues Ash's story long after the film trilogy. Three days before the series' premiere, Starz renewed it for a second season. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Campbell stated, "Ash has survivor's guilt. You could have a heyday with his PTSD. He's a war vet. He doesn't want to talk about it, and he'll lie about that stump on his hand to impress the ladies. This is a guy who's got some issues. He's emotionally stunted. But, he's the guy you want in the foxhole next to you."
Near the end of the first season, it is referenced that after the events of the films, Ash would spend the next 33 years traveling down the country in his "Oldsmobile" and a mobile home (an "Airstream"), never staying long, going from stock-boy job to stock-boy job at different branches of the same hardware store. It is also mentioned that Ash tried numerous methods to destroy the Necronomicon.
In the first season of Ash vs Evil Dead, the character is forcibly sprung back into action once more upon accidentally releasing the Kandarian Demon. He is now accompanied by Pablo Bolivar and Kelly Maxwell, two young coworkers who cross paths with him after the Evil Dead is unleashed. While the trio search for a way to stop the evil, Ash is being hunted by Amanda Fisher, a Michigan state trooper who blames Ash for the death of her partner. She later teams up with Ruby Knowby who blames him for the death of her family thirty years ago. Ash eventually discovers that the key to dispelling the evil is to return the book to the cabin and bury it within its grounds. Along the way to the cabin, Ash confronts Amanda who after a brief struggle realizes that Ash is trying to stop the deadites rather than looking to unleash more of them.
Eventually, Ash, Pablo, Kelly, and Amanda reach the cabin to undo the evil. However Ash's decomposed severed right hand grows into an evil duplicate of him that interferes with their efforts and kills Amanda, who then resurrects as a deadite. After defeating the duplicate Ash then meets Ruby Knowby who claims that using the Kandarian Dagger to tear the books cover will destroy the Necronomicon and stop the Kandarian Demon from destroying humanity. After Ruby defaces the book she then reveals herself to be the original author of Necronomicon. Ruby then uses Pablo's body as a conduit to release one of the demons (one of her own children) from the book within the cabins fruit cellar. Ash kills the deadite Amanda and defeats Ruby's released demon, but is unable to save Pablo from being a gateway for the demons to enter the mortal world.
Ash gets the upper hand on Ruby by using the Kandarian Dagger to wound her. But before he finishes her off, Ruby notes that Ash can't save Pablo or Kelly, and offers him a compromise. If he allows her to release the demons as well as lord over them, then she will not only spare Pablo and Kelly but also fulfill his dream of living a normal life with his friends in Jacksonville, Florida. Ash accepts, much to the dismay of Pablo and Kelly. They drive off from the cabin while Ash delights in the idea of finally living a normal quiet life. However a radio broadcast reveals sinkholes are erupting across the country, suggesting that Ash's envisioned normal life will be short lived.
At the beginning of the second season, it is revealed that, after escaping from the cabin initially, Ash had first returned home, to his hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan, only for no one (even his own father) to believe him about the Deadites (instead they believed that Ash had killed his little sister, Cheryl, his girlfriend, Linda, his best friend, Scotty, and Scotty's girlfriend, Shelly), earning him the nickname "Ashy Slashy", and driving Ash to leave town, to move on from town to town (and leading up to the events at the beginning of the first season), his only companion for some time being his pet lizard, Eli.
Season two opens with Ash's partying buzz in Jacksonville being cut short when Deadites show up. Revealing that Ruby has sent them, one of them calls him 'Ashy Slashy' which was a nickname he is uncomfortable with from his younger days. It is soon revealed that Ash left his hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan because he was accused by the locals of being crazy, having dismembered everyone at the cabin on that fateful night and then run out of town. Ash, Pablo and Kelly then search the town for Ruby's whereabouts and in the process, Ash is reunited with his estranged father Brock Williams, who disowned him because he believes Ash killed his sister Cheryl at the cabin thirty years ago.
Eventually the three find Ruby in the town crematorium after Pablo has a vision of her being there (a side effect of Ruby using him as a gateway last season), where she reveals that her children have betrayed her and attempted to take possession of the book themselves, in return Ruby hid the book in an unknown location. They are then all attacked by Ruby's demon spawn. After killing them, Ash and his friends form an alliance with Ruby to retrieve the Necronomicon to send the loose demon spawn back to hell.
Ruby deduces that her spawn are attempting to use the book to summon a demon known as Baal into the world. Ash and Kelly retrieve the Necronomicon from the town morgue and place it in the backseat of Ash's Oldsmobile. However, after another visit with Ash's father, the Oldsmobile is stolen by a young group of teenagers with the Necronomicon inside it. To get the book back, Ash comes up with the idea to throw a party in hopes of attracting the kids that stole his car and the book. It is at this party Ash reunites with his old friend Chet from high school. Brock shows up as well and even steals a girl Ash was flirting with (a common habit of his) much to Ash's annoyance.
It becomes apparent to Ruby that Ash's plan to find the book is going nowhere and leaves the party with Kelly who she convinced to come with her. Brock's over-competitive attitude towards his son starts an argument between the two which ends when Ash saves his father from a Deadite that arrives at the party. Outside, Brock admits he was wrong about his son being a killer and in a touching moment calls his son a hero. Brock begins to tell Ash that he had kept a secret from him, a secret that could change his entire life. When suddenly Ash's Oldsmobile possessed by the Evil Dead runs Brock over, killing him instantly.
Ash mourns the sudden loss of his father and takes Chet with him to track the possessed Oldsmobile down. Eventually they do so and Pablo throws the Necronomicon into a portal to hell that opened up in the trunk of the car. Believing that with the book gone, the evil has been dispelled. However unbeknownst to them the book was the only thing keeping Baal from the mortal world. With it gone, Baal returns to the mortal world. Baal uses his ability to possess human bodies to toy with and turn Ash, Ruby, Kelly and Pablo against each other. It soon becomes apparent that Pablo, due to once being used as a portal to hell for Ruby's spawn, is now binding with the book and slowly becoming a new Necronomicon. Therefore, Pablo is the only thing capable of sending Baal back to hell.
With this information, Ash and the rest return to Brock's house in an attempt to use Pablo to stop Baal. However Baal has manipulated the town sheriff to incite a riot outside of Ash's home. Ruby attempts to use Pablo to find the spell that can send Baal back to hell. During this process, The Kandarian Demon uses a photo of Ash's sister Cheryl and becomes a deadite manifestation of her. Ash and Chet combat the returned deadite Cheryl who kills Chet. The fight takes Ash and Cheryl outside the home where crowds of townsfolk have been rioting. The appearance of the deadite Cheryl convinces the towns people that Ash was indeed a hero who killed demons and not the chainsaw serial killer they thought he was. Ash defeats and kills Cheryl a second time when suddenly Baal appears and knocks him unconscious.
Awakening in an asylum, Baal (under the guise of a doctor) tries to convince Ash that there were no demons but instead "delusions". Ash repeatedly brushes him off however as time goes on Baal appears to drive Ash insane with illusions of his friends and convinces him to kill Pablo, who has binded with the Necronomicon and is the only thing that can send Baal back to hell. Ash attempts to destroy the Necronomicon (Pablo) when he sees the real Ruby, Kelly and Pablo pulling up a car outside the asylum. Ash succeeds in capturing Pablo and brings him to Baal.
Much to everybody's shock, Ash reveals he was tricking Baal the whole time to get Pablo in the same room so they could send the demon back to hell. Lacey (who was a deadite all along) and Emery are killed, but Linda survives, eager to avenge the deaths of her loved ones. Pablo reads the spell to return Baal to hell. During the process Pablo's body is ripped apart as Baal is forcibly sent back to hell; Pablo then collapses dead moments after.
Ash grieves Pablo's death by binge drinking and taking hallucinogenic drugs when he remembers his previous adventures in the Middle Ages via time travel. Ash, Ruby and Kelly theorize that it may be possible to bring Pablo back from the dead by going back in time to the cabin and preventing a younger Ash from ever finding the Necronomicon. Ruby uses a spell to send them to an alternative timeline in 1982, just before Ash and his friends found the book. Ruby explains that this timeline is one of many in an infinite span of universes. The trio are separated in the forest outside the cabin while Ash makes it inside. Ash almost has his leg possessed (in a similar manner to the hand he cut off years ago) but prevents it from happening. Ash goes into the cellar thereafter when he hears a cry for help.
Ash discovers the source of the crying, a seemingly still human Henrietta Knowby. Ash recalls his previous encounter with her when she was possessed and hits her across the face as she is chained to the basement wall.Henrietta convinces him that she isn't possessed. Ash then finds the key to her shackles and frees her. Professor Knowby then comes into the cellar with his assistant Tanya as Ash and Henrietta hide. Professor Knowby then causes Tanya to stand into a bear trap he had placed earlier. It is revealed Professor Knowby has been corrupted by the evil of the Necronomicon therefore being the one to have summoned the Kandarian Demon. Ash overhears Professor Knowby explaining to Tanya he chained up his wife because she was possessed by the Kandarian Demon, revealing that Ash's initial suspicions were correct. A Possessed Henrietta then battles Ash as Professor Knowby traps him and Tanya in the cellar by locking the basement door.
As Professor Knowby attempts to escape the cabin, he is killed by the younger Ruby of year 1982, who then retrieves the Necronomicon. Henrietta murders Tanya, and battles Ash, but is ultimately defeated once more. Ash reunites with Ruby and Kelly to confront the younger Ruby. The present Ruby warns her younger self that following Baal is not the right path and cautions her to build a better future. The young Ruby proceeds to stab the present one with the Kandarian Dagger, who then uses the book to knock her younger self unconscious. As the older Ruby now lays dying, she tells Ash and Kelly to take the book and return to the present. Ruby tells Kelly to build her own life for herself and to forge her own path. Ash and Kelly leave and return to the Oldsmobile to find Pablo alive.
Soon it is revealed that this Pablo is really Baal in disguise. After causing the Oldsmobile to crash, the younger Ruby appears and shows them the severed head of the present Ruby before knocking Ash out. Ash awakens with Kelly beside him in the cabin as Baal and Ruby create more demon spawn. Baal reveals to Ash that he was in fact never sent back to hell from Pablo's spell and merely used Pablo's corpse to hide himself, knowing that Pablo's death would cause them to return in time and allow him to undo the trouble Ash has caused him. In response, Ash coaxes Baal into one final fight without the use of Baal's supernatural powers. Claiming that if he wins, he and Ruby will be banished from the mortal world forever along with returning Pablo back to life. Baal agrees, sealing the deal with a blood pact using the Necronomicon and the two have a fist fight throughout the cabin. Ruby is disgusted that Baal would risk everything, including her to simply maintain his pride.
Ash begins winning the fist fight which prompts Baal to cheat and take on the forms of Chet, Cheryl and Brock to confuse Ash. Baal wins and lays the defeated bloody Ash on the cabins floor while Ruby and Kelly watch. Baal proudly proclaims that he was prophesied to defeat Ash. However just before Baal finishes him off using a bladed finger blade, Ash remembers how he defeated Ruby at the cabin (in the season one finale) by distracting her with a question. Ash casually asks Baal how good Ruby is "in the sack" before turning the blade on Baal and stabbing him with his own hand. Baal becomes wounded but is finished off by the young Ruby who ensures that the deal between Ash and Baal is kept. Baal is the loser and is therefore sent back to hell. The entire cabin is set on fire and sinks into the depths of hell along with Baal and apparently Ruby.
Outside the scorched remains of the cabin, Pablo comes out of the ground and has a heartfelt reunion with Ash and Kelly. The trio return to the present and Ash is held a parade in his honor by the citizens of Elk Groove. During the parade the spirits of Brock, Cheryl and Chet look down on Ash who makes a speech. In his speech Ash reveals that he wants to stay in Elk Groove and that if evil ever returns he will defend the town once more. In the crowd of townsfolk, the young Ruby is seen briefly before walking off. In a post credits sequence we see the grounds the cabin was built on. The voice of a young girl is heard claiming to have found something. The wind shifts several leaves away to reveal the Necronomicon, left behind by Ash.
Ash, Pablo and Kelly unite against the younger Ruby who plans to kill Ash and turn his long lost daughter, Brandy against him. However it becomes apparent that the Dark Ones are returning to the mortal world after previously being banished thousands of years ago by Ruby using the power of the original Necronomicon. The Dark Ones return will bring about the end of mankind. Also introduced are the Knights of Sumeria. An ancient order dedicated to defeating the evil that worship Ash and his destiny to destroy the evil.
The ghost of Brock appears before Ash to reveal the secret that he had held from his son. Brock tells Ash that years ago, a knight of Sumeria approached him, having found the lost pages of the Necronomicon (previously seen in Evil Dead 2) and that they are the key to stopping Ruby. Ash eventually wins the trust of his daughter after foiling Ruby's attempts to turn her against him. Ruby herself is unable to kill Ash or stop the Dark Ones from returning and they promptly steal her soul as revenge.
With the Dark Ones now in the mortal realm. Evil begins to terrorize every part of the world, prompting military forces to take action. The military decides to evacuate civilians. Pablo, Kelly and Brandy urge Ash to come with them. Ash however decides to stay behind in order to finally fulfill his destiny of defeating the evil. After saying a heartfelt goodbye to his friends and daughter. Using an abandoned military tank, Ash fires the kandarian dagger into the head of Kandar, destroying the evil and saving the world.
In the conclusion of the battle, Ash gets knocked unconscious and wakes up from a long coma in the far distant, technologically advanced future. He is told that his friends are still alive but that the Dark Ones are on the move. Now equipped with a futuristic Oldsmobile, the series ends with Ash smiling and saying his iconic line "Groovy" as he drives off on another quest to save the world.
In the 2000s, Bruce Campbell voiced Ash in a trilogy of video games. The first was Hail to the King released in 2000 on PlayStation/Dreamcast/Windows. This game continues after Army of Darkness. Ash is dating Jenny, a fellow S-Mart employee, his continual nightmares of what he's lived through convinces her to get him to come back to the cabin to face his fears, but his severed hand (from Evil Dead 2) replays the tape and sets the evil loose again. The second game was A Fistful of Boomstick released in 2003 on Xbox/PlayStation 2. In this game Ash mentions Jenny died in a bus accident previous to this game. Ash watches TV in a bar in Dearborn, Michigan, where a local TV show, "Mysteries of the Occult," reads the passages from the Necronomicon setting the evil loose and possessing most of the town. Ash has to find his weapons, fight the deadites and find a way to stop the evil. Over the game you play through several time periods including colonial times and civil war times. The third and final game was Evil Dead: Regeneration, released in 2005 on Xbox/PlayStation 2/Windows. This game plays through an alternate history; instead of being sucked into the vortex at the end of Evil Dead II, Ash has been placed in a mental institution for the criminally insane (as a result of the events of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II). His doctor has gone mad and obtained the Necronomicon and releases the deadites once again.
Ash Williams also makes an appearance as a player in the side-scroller action game Broforce, as well as Telltale Games' "Poker Night 2" where the player participates at a poker tournament, along with characters from several other franchises, namely GLaDOS from Portal, Sam from Sam & Max, Claptrap from Borderlands, and Brock Samson from The Venture Bros.  There is a special conversation in the game where if the player chooses to play in an Evil Dead-inspired room, GLaDOS will reveal that Ash is actually Brock's ancestor through time travel as Ash had slept with a woman whose family line Brock is a member of some time during his adventure in Army of Darkness.
A leak in the perk selection screen revealed that Ash would be making an appearance in Dead by Daylight. He was later officially announced with a trailer on the 28th of March. He was then released on April 2nd.
In 1992, Dark Horse Comics released a three-issue miniseries written by Raimi himself. Accompanying it is Evil Dead (2008), a comic retelling the story of the events of the original film. In this version of the tale, Cheryl is not Ash's sister, but just a friend of his girlfriend Linda, and the book is called "Nacheron De'manto". The professor and his wife are depicted as younger adults rather than the middle-aged version seen in the film. The only character in the book that looks like their film counterpart is Ash; every other character has been completely redesigned for this "expansion".
In 2004, Dynamite Entertainment acquired the rights to do comics based off the Army of Darkness film, featuring Ash as the main character, starting with a four-issue miniseries titled Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes released in the fall of 2004. This miniseries later received two sequels (Army of Darkness: Shop 'Till You Drop Dead and Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator, both released in 2005) which eventually turned into an ongoing series, and later more crossovers (most notably Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness and Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash from 2007). These comics featured a version of Ash from a world where the events of the Evil Dead films didn't take place until the early 21st century, which was later designated by Marvel Comics as "Earth-818793" as part of their multiverse numbering system. In 2013, Dynamite announced a reboot of their Army of Darkness line titled "Ash And The Army of Darkness", which featured a new version of Ash Williams, one who chose to stay in the Middle Ages following an unexpected return to that time period. This rebooted series ran for eight issues, but was followed-up by two miniseries, Army of Darkness: Ash Gets Hitched, and Army of Darkness Volume 4 (better known as "Ash In Space") in 2014. Dynamite returned to their original "Earth-818793" version of Ash with 2016's Army of Darkness: Furious Road miniseries, but have since gone on to publish more crossovers with other licensed titles that are independent of this continuity (such as KISS/Army of Darkness and Vampirella/Army of Darkness).
In 2016, Space Goat Publishing released Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn, a three-issue series that, much like Dynamite's Army of Darkness books, took the liberty of stating that the events of the first two Evil Dead films took place in the 21st century. The series (and it's several sequels and one-shot follow-ups) features a simulacrum clone of Ash Williams as the main character, which was created from the original Ash's right hand by Annie Knowby.
Concept and creationEdit
According to Sam Raimi, Ash's name is a reference to his originally intended fate at the end of The Evil Dead, stating "that's all that was going to be left of him in the end." Campbell, however, suggested the name was short for "Ashley". When creating Army of Darkness, Raimi toyed with giving him the full name "Ashley J. Williams", which was later used by video games and comics involving the character. Campbell later confirmed in Cinefantastique that the full name was official. The character is also referred to as "Ashley" by his sister Cheryl in the original Evil Dead. Ash is again called "Ashley" by numerous deadites in the new Ash vs. Evil Dead show. The Ash vs. Evil Dead episode "Unfinished Business" also reveals that his middle name is Joanna, contradicting the Army of Darkness comics that revealed that the "J" in Ashley J. Williams stands for James, and that it comes from his grandfather James Williams, who was a fictitious member of The Untouchables led by Eliot Ness in 1929 Chicago.
Bruce Campbell has stated Ash is incompetent at everything except fighting the Evil Dead. Campbell also added that Ash is "a bad slow thinker and a good fast thinker". He knows some degree of hand-to-hand combat techniques, and shows prowess with a variety of weapons in various situations. His main strength seems to be his ingenuity: although he is repeatedly noted in the audio commentaries for The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II for his stupidity and ignorance, he has from the second film on been shown creating such things ranging from his chainsaw bracket and shotgun harness, gunpowder from mainly referencing its elemental makeup in a chemistry book, a fully functional prosthetic hand from a metal gauntlet, and the short-lived "Deathcoaster".
His invention and ingenuity are further expanded on in the games: in Evil Dead: Regeneration, he creates fully functional weapons such as a flamethrower and a harpoon gun from spare parts that are merely laying about; and in Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, the inventiveness seems to run in Ash's family, as his blacksmith ancestor in the Colonial Dearborn level is quickly able to make a flamethrower and a Gatling gun from spare parts Ash finds for him, when Ash says those things "haven't even been invented yet". In the 1992 comic adaptation of Army of Darkness written by Sam and Ivan Raimi, Ash says that he has a degree in engineering from Michigan State University.
Ash's personality and state of mind change drastically throughout the franchise. In The Evil Dead and the beginning of Evil Dead II, he is something of a laid-back everyman, but by the middle of Evil Dead II and into Army of Darkness, he has grown into a much braver person, and becomes the voice of encouragement and confidence in Arthur's castle. It is at this point that Ash becomes known for his one-liners, and his personality takes on a more cynical, embittered tone. Raimi has said that he feels Ash's personality transformation in Darkness was very out of character.
In The Evil Dead, Ash is portrayed as being cowardly and incapable of dealing with the horrors presented to him. Over the course of the film, Ash gradually overcomes his fears and manages to fight off his possessed friends. Also, he is shown to take his predicament very seriously in the first film, rather than in a comedic manner, as in the subsequent films. Evil Dead II portrays Ash as a braver character. Campbell commented that in the film Ash is more than capable at fighting off monsters. The character gradually became more of an antihero within Evil Dead II and its sequel, Army of Darkness. Ash's most defining characteristic is the chainsaw attached to Ash's right nub, placed after cutting off his possessed hand in Evil Dead II.
Since Army of Darkness, Ash has been portrayed consistently as in Bruce Campbell's words "A guy who doesn't know anything, a big talker". Ash rarely takes situations seriously and is very incompetent as a hero or protagonist. Often causing the conflict that drives the story forward rather than solving it. At the same time having a selfish, self-serving attitude towards others. In Ash vs. Evil Dead, many of his neighbors call him an "asshole" and complain about his narcissistic cocky attitude while his boss frequently hounds him for making up excuses for getting out of work. At the same time Ash has been portrayed as a womanizer and in the television series has been show to flat out lie and invent sympathetic anecdotes to sleep with women at local bars. Ash vs. Evil Dead reveals that his father Brock Williams was often over competitive with him as a child and it seems that many of Ash's traits have originated from his father's behavior. Despite his immature conceited attitude Ash has been shown to have a softer, more heroic side. In Army of Darkness he chooses to stay behind and help the people of Arthur's castle fight the deadite army despite having nothing to gain from doing so. Over the course of the television series, Ash does bond with Pablo and Kelly. At one point calling Kelly the "daughter he never had."
By the time of Ash vs. Evil Dead, set decades after the original film, Ash has aged considerably; he now wears dentures, a "man girdle", and dyes his hair. According to Bruce Campbell, "we're milking the age thing now. He was the wrong guy thirty-five years ago, and now he's really the wrong guy for the job and that made it an interesting character to play". Campbell and Raimi have stated that Ash also wears adult diapers; early drafts of the script depicted Ash's struggle with incontinence, which Raimi joked to producers was a "marketing opportunity" for Depend product placement. Campbell expressed hope that Ash's incontinence would feature in future episodes, as it made him "more normal" and relatable to the audience; a package of adult diapers eventually do appear onscreen in season two's "Home", in the trunk of Ash's car.
Ash's dark side manifests itself as a separate entity, referred to as "Bad Ash". This persona first appears in Evil Dead II, where Ash experiences a hallucination wherein his reflection torments him over dismembering their girlfriend Linda with a chainsaw, and proceeds to try to choke him, only for Ash to realize he is choking himself. This side of him later splits off his body in Army of Darkness after a battle with "Tiny Ashes", becoming "Bad Ash". Ash seemingly kills his doppelganger and buries him, but "Bad Ash" is revived after Ash incorrectly recites the Necronomicon incantations. "Bad Ash" later leads the Army to King Arthur's castle to retrieve the Necronomicon, even corrupting Ash's then-love interest Sheila. He battles "Good Ash" for the Necronomicon, gets burnt with a torch, and continues fighting as a Skeleton. As Henry the Red's troops arrive to assist in the battle against the undead and break their ranks, Ash coincidentally cuts off his alter ego's right hand and catapults him into the sky on a lit sack of gunpowder, which explodes and destroys Bad Ash.
A new version of Bad Ash appears in the television series Ash vs Evil Dead, spawned from Ash's dismembered hand from Evil Dead II. While essentially exactly the same character, he has more in common with Ash in terms of personality, and even sharing old injuries and ailments which Ash uses to his advantage during their fight. Rather than being overtly evil and openly hostile, this version is more subtle and comes across as a psychopath, being friendly and flirty towards Amanda at first but becomes unstable and aggressive when she rejects and hurts him by calling his decayed hand disgusting.
Ash ranked eleventh on UGO.com's Top 100 Heroes of All Time list, describing him as "an egomaniacal, complaining, misogynistic goon", but also the best "demon and zombie killer ever to be portrayed on the silver screen". They additionally praised the character for his humility at the conclusion of Army of Darkness, in returning to his own time. Empire ranked him the 24th Greatest Movie Character on their list of 100, calling him a "truly iconic horror hero", and a "delirious, delicious, dimwitted" parody of action heroes. He was also ranked number 77 on Fandomania's list of the 100 Greatest Fictional Characters, and number one on WatchMojo.com's Top 10 Horror Movie Heroes.
The Evil Dead films and the character of Ash influenced many 1990s first-person shooters such as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Blood. Duke Nukem quotes so many lines from Ash that Bruce Campbell stated that he was angered by not being paid for them.
Another notable video game character influenced by Ash is Alisa Bosconovitch. In an interview, Tekken project director and chief producer Katsuhiro Harada said, "Alisa's quite popular overseas as well. Personally, I didn't think we would get much of a following. We usually do research for new characters, but Alisa was something we created based on internal staff feedback. We really wanted a character with chainsaws on her arms." Scriptwriter Dai Satō then asked, "Influenced by Ash by any chance?" Harada replied, "Exactly. (laugh) I'm a huge fan of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead. I just didn't think Alisa would catch on, considering her vast differences from the other characters."
- Prop licence created for Ash vs Evil Dead
- "Unfinished Business". Ash vs Evil Dead. Season 3. Episode 4. 18 March 2018.
- Sciretta, Peter (1 December 2008). "Empire's The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time". SlashFilm. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- Vijay, Amar (24 October 2013). "The 666 Greatest Horror Characters Of All Time". Empire. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
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- Sam Raimi (director) (1987). Evil Dead II (Film). De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Renaissance Pictures.
- Sam Raimi (director) (1992). Army of Darkness (Film). Universal Pictures.
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- "Brock Samson / Ash Williams connection (Poker Night 2)".
- "Dead by Daylight Leak - Evil Dead's Ash as Survivor".
- "DEAD BY DAYLIGHT presents Ash J. Williams - PAX EAST 2019".
- "Dark Horse Solicitations for January, 2008". Comic Book Resources. October 5, 2007.
- Marvel Zombies: The Book of Angels, Demons & Various Monstrosities. Marvel Comics. 2007.
- Hannah, Frank (2016). Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn #1. Space Goat Publishing.
- ARMY OF DARKNESS/BUBBA HO-TEP #1
- Warren, Bill (2001). The Evil Dead Companion. Macmillan. (2001). ISBN 0-312-27501-3. p. 181
- Clarke, Frederick S. (1991). Cinefantastique 22-23: p. 29
- Serrano, Elliott R. (2012). Army of Darkness Volume 3 #9. Dynamite Entertainment.
- Audio commentary for Evil Dead II, Bruce Campbell: "As dumb as Ash is, he's actually a capable guy with dealing with monsters"
- In Army of Darkness, Ash trains the people of King Arthur's kingdom in martial arts
- Raimi, Sam; Raimi, Ivan (1992). Army of Darkness #1. Dark Horse Comics.
- Sam Raimi's comments on the DVD audio commentary for the Army of Darkness Director's Cut.
- Gross, Ed. "Ash Vs Evil Dead: 10 questions with Bruce Campbell". Empire.
- DVD audio commentary for "El Jefe"
- "Top 100 Heroes of All Time". UGO.com. UGO Networks. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
- "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire. Retrieved 2009-07-26.
- "The 100 Greatest Fictional Characters". Fandomania.com. Archived from the original on 12 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "Top 10 Horror Movie Heroes". YouTube. WatchMojo.com. August 10, 2013.
- One on One with Bruce Campbell verbosity.wiw.org
- November 5, 1999 IGN For Men Interview: Bruce Campbell
- As quoted in The Art of Tekken Hybrid (Namco Bandai Games Inc., 2011), 26.