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 written by William Goldman which became the 1987 film: The Princess Bride. The story takes place in the country of Florin. Buttercup (played by Robin Wright) was a farmer who took her greatest joy from bossing Westley (Cary Elwes) around like a servant. His only reply to her requests would be, "As you wish". As time passed, Buttercup realized that when Westley said "As you wish", what he really meant was "I love you". And one day she realized that she truly loved him back.

However, having no money for marriage, Westley went away to seek his fortune across the sea. Buttercup soon received word that Westley had been murdered by the Dread Pirate Roberts, and for days she neither slept nor ate, falling into a deep despondency and swearing that she would never love again.

Five years later, the aged King of Florin is near death, and the heir apparent, Prince Humperdinck, chooses Buttercup to be his bride, considering her to be the fairest maiden in the land. However, Buttercup doesn't love him. One day, while out riding, she is captured by three bandits — a Sicilian self-proclaimed genius named Vizzini, Spanish swordsman Inigo Montoya, and gentle giant Fezzik. (Vizzini is the only one of the trio who's genuinely malevolent, though.) The trio had been hired by Humperdinck to kill Buttercup and make it look like rival nation Guilder was responsible, giving Humperdinck the only excuse he needs to start a war between the two countries.

What they didn't count on was that Westley, wearing the outfit of a "Man in Black" (all-black clothing, sword, and black mask) was following them to stop them. Catching up to the trio, Westley 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.

Westley doesn't reveal his identity to Buttercup at first, but he gladly admits to being the Dread Pirate Roberts. Believing him to have been responsible for Westley's death, Buttercup gets into a vehement argument with him, culminating with her saying, "I died that day! And you can die too, for all I care!"

She pushes him off a hill, with Westley replying "Aaaaaass... yoooooouuuu... wiiiiiish!" on the way down. Finally realizing who he is, she rolls down after him, and that's the point at which this comic picks up.

Because there are several fundamentally questionable decisions Westley had to have made in order for the film's narrative to make any sense whatsoever. He took over as the Dread Pirate Roberts from the man previously known as Roberts — who also isn't the original DPR. Westley became, at minimum, the fourth man known as the Dread Pirate Roberts — it's a legacy name designed to evoke fear into the populace. (As he said, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.)

But over the last five years, while earning the previous Roberts' respect, taking over for him and then making his fortune, Westley has allowed Buttercup to believe that he'd been murdered, preventing her from getting on with the rest of her life. And now he kills people, sacks ports and loots ships for a living.

"Screw this", the comic's Buttercup says. "I'm gonna go see if [Inigo] is single." Of course, Inigo has had to be a bad guy for awhile now himself, but he admitted even to Westley that he was just doing it to pay the bills.


Buttercup: Oh, my sweet Westley!
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: And now you ... kill people?
Westley: I'd hardly be a dread pirate if I didn't.
Buttercup: How lovable.
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 ~~~~)