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Tristan de Bois was the brother of Ygraine -- Uther's wife. Ygraine died in childbirth. He blamed Uther and came to the gates of Camelot and challenged him. Uther won. But in his dying breath, Tristan cursed Camelot to one day suffer his return. I thought it was the ramblings of a dying man.
Gaius to Merlin[src]

Sir Tristan de Bois, also known as "The Black Knight", was the older brother of Ygraine and Agravaine de Bois, the brother-in-law of Uther Pendragon, and one of Arthur's maternal uncles. A former friend of Uther, he turned against him after the death of Ygraine, blaming Uther for her demise, and challenged Uther to single combat, with Uther defeating him. Many years after his death, Tristan became the deceased uncle-in-law of Guinevere, the wife of his nephew, Arthur. About twenty years later, the Sorceress Nimueh resurrected Tristan as a Wraith in an effort to kill Uther and Arthur, only to have Tristan destroyed by Excalibur, a blade forged in the Great Dragon's breath on Merlin's request.


Early life[]

Presumed the eldest child of his parents, Tristan was closest to his younger siblings, Ygraine and Agravaine. When his beloved younger sister Ygraine died during childbirth, Tristan blamed Uther for her death and arrived in Camelot to challenge him to a duel. Uther won the duel but before he died, Tristan swore in his dying breaths that he would rise from the dead and avenge Ygraine.


Over twenty years after his death, at Arthur's coming of age ceremony, Tristan is reanimated as a Wraith by the sorceress Nimueh. He crashes his horse through the window during the ceremony and challenges the knights to a fight to the death. Sir Owain takes up the challenge first and during the duel, he strikes a would-be fatal blow, but ultimately dies. Sir Pellinore then takes up the next challenge and also dies the next day, though he too strikes a fatal blow. Arthur challenges Tristan to a duel himself, and Tristan accepts. Gaius and Geoffrey of Monmouth are later able to identify Tristan by the crest on his shield. It is an image of a white Phoenix. He is the only knight known to have carried such a crest.

Merlin observes that both times the Knights fatally wounded Tristan, he survived. Merlin and Gaius realize that Tristan is a Wraith and that no mortal weapon nor mortal magic can kill him. With the help of the Great Dragon, Kilgharrah, Merlin creates a sword that can kill the dead. Although it is intended as a sword for Arthur's use only, it is Uther who fights Tristan with Excalibur. As a result, the Wraith dies, and Tristan de Bois returns to the world of the dead, his revenge unfulfilled (Excalibur).

Tristan de Bois on his black horse is later seen inside a crystal of the Crystal Cave when it Merlin is seeing flashbacks or previous events (The Diamond of the Day).


Tristan was an exceptionally skilled warrior, with incredible swordsmanship and a formidably aggressive fighting style. When he returned from the dead as a wraith, not only had his fighting skills remained unchanged, but he was the perfect opponent for agile or fast individuals, as he was momentous, powerful, and extremely strong. Additionally, as a wraith, because he was already dead, Tristan could not be killed, as any man-made weapon or even mortal magic cannot kill a wraith. Indeed, this made even Merlin and Uther believe that Arthur would not be able to defeat him and Uther himself had considerable difficulty fighting him, with Tristan coming very close to killing Uther before he was struck down by Excalibur.


Series 1
Excalibur (Appears as a ghost or spirit)
Series 5
The Diamond of the Day: Part One (Appears in crystals) (cameo)



  • Tristan was never mentioned by his brother, Agravaine like their sister Ygraine was so it is unknown what their relationship was like. Given Agravaine's hatred at Uther for the loss of both of his siblngs, it is likely that he is close to him, though not as close as to Ygraine.
  • According to Gaius and Geoffrey, Tristan was the only person to have used such a crest (the white phoenix) as it is never seen to have been used by Agravaine. It is still implied that the white phoenix crest was the also the crest of the House of de Bois.
  • Like Cornelius Sigan, it is unknown to what Tristan's actually characteristics were due to the fact that at time of his resurrection, he was a wraith.
  • His surname, De Bois, means "of wood" in French.
  • Tristan is the first of two characters of the same name to appear in the show. The second was the smuggler Tristan and the lover of Isolde.
  • Given that Tristan blames Uther on Ygraine's death rather than accepting it due to birth complications, it is likely that he and Agravaine are aware that their sister conceives through the use of magic on Uther's requests. 
  • In the Italian version of the show, his name was translated as Tristano.
  • While his resurrected form is referred to as a wraith, it bears a striking resemblance to a revenant.
  • Imagery of the wraith Tristan appears as part of the title sequence from series 1 to 3.
Series 1 Enemies
The Dragon's Call: Mary Collins † • Lady Helen (indirect) †
Valiant: Valiant † • DevlinSerpent Shield
The Mark of Nimueh: Nimueh † • Afanc
The Poisoned Chalice: Nimueh † • Balorian SpidersCockatrice
Lancelot: Griffin
A Remedy to Cure All Ills: Edwin Muirden † • Elanthia Beetles
The Gates of Avalon: Sophia † • Aulfric † • Sidhe elder
The Beginning of the End: Uther Pendragon
Excalibur: Nimueh † • Tristan de Bois
The Moment of Truth: Kanen
The Labyrinth of Gedref: Arthur Pendragon (indirect) †
To Kill the King: TaurenMorgana † • Uther Pendragon
Le Morte d'Arthur: Nimueh † • Questing BeastKilgharrah