549: Westley's a Dick

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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 whom is a very honorable Spanish swordsman named Inigo Montoya. A man claiming to be the Dread Pirate Roberts rescues her. On verifying his identity as Roberts, she attacks him by pushing him down a hill. While tumbling down the hill he shouts back "as you wish" identifying him as her first love. She tumbles after, landing on top of him as in the start of this comic.

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.

Westley 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, Westley and Buttercup end up together in spite of this behavior!

The title text shows what looks like a message she and Inigo have 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. Alternatively, it could simply be the narrator expressing his wish that this will come to pass.

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.

Note: It's quite possible Westley hasn't been killing people as a pirate at all. People had been surrendering to The Dread Pirate Roberts without a fight for years before he took over the role, due to the terror of his name. Of course, there may be a few people who needed to be killed, over the years, but the implication in the book (and movie) is that at least most surrender without a fight and are presumably unharmed.

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


[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). -- special:contribs/

OK, but outside of the book's narrative Morgenstern is a nom de plume of Goldman. 20:06, 22 October 2021 (UTC)