549: Westley's a Dick

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Westley's a Dick
Inigo/Buttercup 4eva <3
Title text: Inigo/Buttercup 4eva <3


This is an alternate take on the 1973 fantasy romance novel The Princess Bride written by William Goldman which became a film in 1987.

In the movie the main character, Buttercup, believes she has lost her first love to the Dread Pirate Roberts years ago. In the present she is considered one of the most beautiful women of the land and so is being married off to a Prince. To provoke a war she has been kidnapped by mercenaries one of which is a very honorable Spanish swordsman named Inigo Montoya. A man claiming to be the Dread Pirate Roberts rescues her. She attacks him pulling him down a hill. While tumbling down the hill he shouts back "as you wish" identifying him as her first love.

There are, however, several "dick moves" Westley must have made in order for the film's narrative to make sense.

  1. He took over as the Dread Pirate Roberts becoming a pirate and therefore not respectable, killing people, sacking ports, and looting ships for a living.
  2. Over the last five years, Westley has allowed Buttercup to believe that he'd been murdered, preventing her getting on with the rest of her life.

Westly breaks the fourth wall and claims he did all of these things for the sake of the narrative. In other words, he did it to make the story better. In the comic Buttercup realizes that Westley has behaved like a dick and chooses to give her love to Inigo Montoya. But in the movie, he and Buttercup end up together in spite of this behavior!

The title text shows what looks like a message she and Inigo has written together, for instance in a heart on a tree. Inigo is the Spaniard referred to by Buttercup. Their names, then forever (4eva) and a heart (smiley heart = "<3"), Implying they did end up together according to this version of the story.

It is not the first time Randall has referenced this movie, as the Dread Pirate was referenced in 345: 1337: Part 5, and a quote from this movie is in the title text of 1427: iOS Keyboard. So it seems like a film that has some meaning for Randall.

If you haven't seen the movie or read the book, you may find it helpful to read the synopsis of the book here.


Westley, having no money for marriage to Buttercup, his love, goes away to seek his fortune across the sea. Westly was apprentices under the Dread Pirate Roberts. Later Westley becomes the Dread Pirate Roberts, as the pirate is a title not a person. He hears of Buttercups wedding to Prince Humperdinck and witnesses her capture by a trio mercenaries.

Westley, wearing the outfit of a "Man in Black" catches up to the trio, defeats Inigo in fencing, Fezzik in hand-to-hand combat (rendering the two of them unconscious), and then kills Vizzini in a battle of wits. After explaining who he is to Buttercup, Buttercup and Westley escape through the dangerous Fire Swamp. Upon reaching the other side they are captured by Prince Humperdinck and the six fingered man.

Buttercup negotiates for Westley's release in exchange for returning with Prince Humperdinck and getting married. Prince Humperdinck's orders the six fingered man not to free Westley but to torture Westley, as the prince is jealous that Buttercup will always prefer Westley to him. Later, on the wedding day, enraged by Buttercups rejection of him Humperdinck tortures Westley to death.

Westley's is revived by Miracle Max due to the help of Inigo and Fezzik, though Westley remains partially paralyzed and weak. Westley devises a plan to invade the castle during the wedding. Still partially paralyzed, he bluffs his way out of a sword fight with Prince Humperdinck, who shows himself to be a coward. Instead of killing Prince Humperdinck, Westley decides to leave him alive, miserable with his cowardice and escapes the castle with Buttercup Inigo and Fezzik.

Inigo Montoya

Inigo's father was commissioned to make a sword for a nobleman with a six-fingered right hand. When the payment was to be made the six-fingered man tried to lower the price. He refused to sell the six-fingered man the sword as he felt the six-fingered man could not appreciate the sword. The six-fingered man killed Inigo's father in front of Inigo. Inigo challenged the six-fingered man to a fight and promptly lost. The six-fingered man spared Inigo's life and allowed him to keep the sword, but marks his face with two cuts, one on each cheek. Afterwords Inigo devoted himself to becoming a great swordsman to avenge his father.

After his training was complete he was unable to find the six-fingered man. Inigo becomes a drunk and he joins a group of mercenaries lead by Vizzini. Vizzini, Inigo, and a Turk named Fezzik are hired by an unknown man to kidnap and kill the "princess bride", Buttercup. While rescuing Buttercup, Westley defeats Inigo, but spares his life. Inigo falls back into drunkenness. Eventually, Fezzik finds him and helps him regain his health. They rescue Westley after discovering he was captured by the six-fingered man. Inigo joins Westley to fight Humperdinck and find the six-fingered man.

While storming Humperdinck's castle, Inigo confronts the six-fingered man reciting the words he has practiced for this day since he was a child: "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." He chases the six-fingered man until the man throws a knife, delivering what would be a mortal wound to any lesser man. The six-fingered man, while preparing to deliver the fatal blow, mocks Inigo's quest to revenge his fathers death. At the last second, Inigo recovers his strength by repeating his mantra "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." Inigo duels the six-fingered man, continuously repeating the fateful words. Inigo marks the face of the six-fingered man, as the six-fingered man had done to him. Finally the six-fingered man begs for his life, offering to give Inigo anything he wants. Inigo replies, "I want my father back, you son of a bitch," and kills him.

At the end of the film, having avenged his father and thus no longer in "the revenge business," Inigo ponders what he will do with the rest of his life. In response, Westley offers Inigo the position of his successor as "The Dread Pirate Roberts." The novel ends with Inigo's wounds reopening while he is on the run from the Brute Squad, leaving his future in doubt.


[A girl (Buttercup) with long hair and a man (Westley) looking like Cueball but with a bandana lies at the foot of a high cliff. There is a forest in the background]
Buttercup: Oh, my sweet Westley!
[Buttercup sits on her knees, Westley takes off his bandana.]
Buttercup: Why did you let me think you were dead?
Westley: You shacked up with the prince!
Buttercup: After years of mourning! The worst pain of my life!
[Buttercup stands up looking down on Westley who still sits with the bandana in his hand.]
Buttercup: And now you ... kill people?
Westley: I'd hardly be a dread pirate if I didn't.
Buttercup: How lovable.
[Westley stands with the bandana in hand while Buttercup walks away from him.]
Westley: It was for the sake of the narrative!
Buttercup: Fuck the narrative. I'm going to go see if that Spaniard's single.
Westley: ...As you wish.

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This is a bit too much story... --NeatNit (talk) 05:52, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

Not really: if you don't know The Princess Bride story, but want to understand this comic, it is the right amount of information. Mark Hurd (talk) 11:39, 22 December 2013 (UTC)
Nope, NeatNit is right. The first time I read this I had never seen the movie nor read the book. I stopped reading when I reached the title "Westly", so as to avoid spoilers for the movie. And the explanation up to that point was sufficient for me to understand the comic, and in fact was still too much story. Having since FINALLY seen the movie (and it did not live up to the hype. I enjoyed it, but jeez), I still contend those sections should be removed. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:29, 9 June 2017 (UTC)
You mean there are people who read XKCD and dont know the story of The Princess Bride?? But yeah, Westley has been a merciless murderer for the last few years, and they kind of gloss over it. 04:30, 28 February 2014 (UTC)

You committed one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is Never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well know, Never give too long an explanation of a movie! (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Reply to both the above comments: I have seen the movie, but I'm sure many xkcd readers have not. Also I could hardly remember any details from the movie, and certainly not the one about rolling down a cliff or the "as you wish" reply. And since it is important to know about the Dread Pirate and the prince as well as the Spaniard to understand the comic, it is almost impossible to explain less of the movie and still get all this info into the explanation. I would not even have know it was from that film based on the comic. --Kynde (talk) 13:12, 11 June 2015 (UTC)
I presume he was just taking the opportunity to make a joke using dialogue from the film. I think your explanation is spot on, FWIW.Mattdevney (talk) 15:39, 12 June 2015 (UTC)

I presume that fans have discussed the option that Westley was lying about the whole Dread Pirate Roberts story to cover up something he doesn't want Buttercup to worry about? I always thought the comment "I'd hardly be a dread pirate if I didn't." was kind of an admission, rather than a boast. Everything following it could be seen as an attempt to keep the secret. See the trope Keeping Secrets Sucks although, in this case, it obviously didn't end up in The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating LifeMattdevney (talk) 15:39, 12 June 2015 (UTC)

Another thing to keep in mind is that he was help captive for several years ("Good night, Westley. I'll probably kill you in the morning."). The movie indicates that this went on for a while, but doesn't indicate when exactly the original DPR retired, from what I recall. Hence this could be a case of reading too much into a detail of the film—though done for humorous effect, of course. 10:41, 17 June 2015 (UTC)

As someone who has never seen the movie nor read the book, I can concur that there is FAR too much movie explanation here. I used to confuse it with Princess Diaries and had no interest in rectifying this omission as I dismised it as girly movie fluff, no hurry. It was only when an episode of The Goldbergs clarified it for me that I discovered the confusion - and that there's some My Name Is/father killing line - as I know Princess Diaries is far too recent to be mentioned in The Goldbergs. I stopped reading at the line that offers a movie synopsis "here", and felt I understood the comic well enough, and in fact there was already too much about the movie by this point. Since I skipped the entire sections titled for (presumably) character names from Princess Bride, they are clearly not required in order to understand the comic. Call me NiceGuy1 :) 04:09, 1 January 2016 (UTC) I finally signed up! This comment is mine. NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:15, 9 June 2017 (UTC)

The Princess Bride wasn't "written" by William Goldman but originally by S. Morgenstern. William Goldman "abridged" the book (I've read it) changing NO WORD but leaving out big boring passages (shortening the book). (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)