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This is about the Ash played on-screen by Bruce Campbell. If you are looking for an alternate version of Ash, please check the Ash Williams Disambiguation.

Groovy.
— Ash's signature line

Ashley Joanna "Ash" Williams is the anti-hero protagonist of the Evil Dead series, played by Bruce Campbell, and created by director Sam Raimi.

First appearing in the 1981 film The Evil Dead, Ash has become very popular in modern pop culture and one of the few non-monster characters in the "horror" genre to have such notoriety. He is most easily recognized and envisioned in later material based on his final appearance in the second film however, armed with a sawed-off shotgun and a chainsaw strapped to the stump on his right arm where his hand once was.

Biography

Early Life & Childhood

Ash was born on April 8th, 1957 and raised in Elk Grove, Michigan. He was the first child of Brock Williams and his only son (later having a daughter named Cheryl several years later). Apparently Ash did not get along with his family during his childhood, frequently arguing with his father after his mother had left the family and his sister when they would play together.

Teenage Years

Early in his teenage years, the young Ash met Chet Kaminski, who would later become a lifelong friend to him. During their high school career, Ash and Chet would frequently host parties in Elk Grove, indulge in drug-usage, and torment the school hall monitor: Thomas Emery. It was also during his high school years that he began dating a girl named Linda Bates, but he broke up with her for another girl named Linda. At some point, Brock gave Ash a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, a car he bought used from the Elk Grove Destruction Derby. Also at an unknown point, Ash and Linda began working at the superstore, S-Mart (where he worked in the housewares department while Linda was worked a check-out counter).

The First Night At The Cabin (October, 1982)

There are two conflicting stories on how Ash, his girlfriend Linda, sister Cheryl, and friends Scotty and Shelly found the cabin in the woods. One story says that Scotty rented the cabin, while another says that they heard that the cabin was abandoned by its previous owner, but either way, the five decided to venture out to this cabin to spend the weekend there. At this cabin, they find the "Necronomicon Ex-Mortis", AKA The Book of The Dead, along with a tape recorder. On the tape was a recording of the owner of the cabin, Professor Raymond Knowby, who was translating a passage of the book. By playing the tape, Ash and friends had awoken the Kandarian Demon, the same one that Professor Knowby had previously unleashed earlier in the week. Because of this demon, Ash's friends and sister were consequently possessed and killed one by one. It wasn't until he was the last survivor that he finally destroyed the Necronomicon by throwing it into the fireplace, and in doing so, the possessed bodies of Scotty and Cheryl rapidly decayed and 'died'. For a moment, it appeared that the demonic spirit was driven back, however, as the morning sun rose, Ash was attacked by the demon.

The Second Night

Ash

Trapped in time.

The demon sent Ash flying across the woods, eventually smacking him up against a tree, causing him to land face first into a muddy puddle of water. When Ash arose from the puddle, he discovered that he had been turned into a Deadite himself. However, this transformation did not last long due to the morning sun driving the evil spirit out from his body. Getting on his feet, Ash quickly ran to his car, attempting to make an escape during daylight. This escape attempt would not be successful, and Ash was quickly reminded that the bridge had been destroyed the previous night. As Ash lamented over the loss of his last possibility of escape, he noticed that the sun was quickly setting and the Kandarian Demon was on the hunt again. Hopping back into his car, Ash raced back to the cabin, seeing it as his only "safe" sanctuary from the evil force. With the evil close behind him, Ash ran back into the cabin and managed to hide in the fruit cellar trap door, waiting until the evil force left.

Unbeknownst to Ash, the daughter and the associate of Professor Knowby (and two local guides) were slowly making their way through the woods towards the cabin to give the professor the "lost pages" of the Necronomicon.

Prior to this new group's arrival, Ash's Deadite girlfriend Linda made a return, with her decapitated head and body rising up out of the makeshift grave not too far from the cabin. The head of Linda eventually attacked Ash, biting him on the right hand. After removing Linda's head from his hand with a vice in the workshed, Ash managed to cut her head in half with a Chainsaw he pried out of her body's hands. Stumbling out from the workshed and back into the cabin, Ash noticed that his right hand seemed to have a mind of its own, twitching around and bashing plates over its owner's head. Making his way into the kitchen of the cabin, Ash grabbed the chainsaw he just used on Linda's head and cut off the hand, screaming and laughing while doing it. After failing to properly "kill" his evil hand, Ash was forced to chase it throughout the main room of the cabin. Ash eventually gave up the hunt for the hand when the inanimate objects within the cabin began to laugh at him when he tried to sit down on a broken wooden chair. Ash joined in the laughter, but this "joyous" moment was interrupted when there was a knock on the cabin's front door. Possibly believing it to be one of his dead friends coming back to pay him a visit, Ash wasted no time raising up his shotgun and blindly firing into the closed door. Hearing a scream, Ash opened the front door, and was quickly jumped on by a man named Jake, who managed to pin Ash to the floor and knock him out. As it turned out, Ash's shot had grazed Jake's girlfriend, Bobby Joe, in the shoulder, which provoked Jake to attack Ash.

While the group surveyed the inside the cabin, they quickly came to the conclusion that this mysterious one-handed man was a maniac who had killed the Knowbys, and proceeded to lock him in the fruit cellar. As the group listened to the tape recording of Raymond Knowby describing how he had unleashed a demon that possessed his wife, the Deadite Henrietta emerges on que from the dirt floor in the cellar in front of Ash. Ash lets out a scream and is released from the cellar moments before Henrietta can attack him. As the night goes on, one by one the forces of evil claim this new group until only Ash and Annie Knowby are left. Before his death, Jake had thrown the lost pages of the Book of The Dead into the cellar with Henrietta, and now Ash and Annie needed them to put an end to these demons once and for all. The two survivors headed out into the workshed and modified the same chainsaw that cut off Ash's hand into a weapon he could attach to his new stump. Going down into the cellar, Ash managed to find all the pages without a problem, only starting his fight against Henrietta after handing Annie the pages. After cutting off Henrietta's "goose necked" head and blowing it apart with the shotgun, Annie proceeded to read a spell from the missing pages that would turn the Kandarian Demon into a thing of the flesh, something that they could attack and sent into a time portal. Annie's reading of the spell was interrupted as Ash's evil hand had made its return, stabbing her in the back with the Kandarian Dagger, leaving Ash alone against a demon three times his size. With her dying breath, Annie finished the spell to open the time portal, and the Kandarian Demon was pulled into the vortex, but unfortunately, Ash and his car were also pulled inside.

Trapped In 1300 AD

The time vortex proceeded to dump Ash (and his car) in medieval England, around 1300 AD. As Ash got to his feet, he noticed he was being surrounded by knights on horseback. One man, only identified as "The Wise Man" told the leader of this group of knights, Lord Arthur, that he believed Ash to be the Chosen One written of in the Necronomicon, the one to deliver them from the terror of the Deadites. Arthur replied that Ash was one of Henry The Red's men, and he was to be captured and sent to The Pit. Shortly after arriving at Castle Kandar, Ash accidentally fell into the pit after he was hit in the back of the head with a rock thrown by an irritated woman named Sheila. Trapped in the pit with two Deadites, Ash did the best he could to fight off the creatures until The Wise Man threw down Ash's chainsaw. After quickly disposing of the Deadites and escaping the pit, Ash proceeded to intimate the locals using his "Boomstick". Now believing that he truly was The Chosen One, The Wise Man informed Ash that in order for him to return to the 20th century, he must journey to a graveyard, recite the magic words ("Klaatu, Verata, Nicto"), and then leave with the Necronomicon. Before setting out on this journey, Ash (with the assistance of the local Blacksmith) creates a mechanical prosthetic hand out of a gauntlet from a suit of armor. While adjusting his new hand, Ash is confronted by Sheila in the Blacksmith's workshop, who gives him a blanket. Ash (initially disgusted by the idea of one of the "primitives" giving him something) returns the favor by kissing her, which then quickly turned into a night of love-making between the two.

The next morning, Ash rode off into the woods towards the graveyard, only to have the trip detoured by the Kandarian Demon, who chased Ash through the woods and into an old windmill off the beaten path. Deciding to spend the night in the windmill, Ash's (hopefully) peaceful evening was interrupted by a strange noise coming from outside the mill. Heading outside to investigate, Ash discovered that it was only the horse he rode in on. As Ash went to go back inside to the safety of the windmill, he saw a man standing in the doorway looking at him. Ash charged at the figure, flying through the doorway and face-first into what turned out to be a mirror. The mirror shattered, and several "Mini-Ashes" jumped out from the broken pieces, and then they proceed to torture the much larger Ash with nails, pots, and forks. After the Mini-Ashes managed to tie the original Ash down, one Mini-Ash sacrificed himself and jumped into the larger Ash's mouth. Attempting to kill the creature wiggling around in his stomach, Ash proceed to drink from a pot of boiling water, but this only made Ash's situation much worse, as the Mini-Ash began to grow into a normal human size. Splitting off from the original Ash's right side, this doppelganger, now identified as "Evil Ash", didn't live for very long, as the original quickly blasted the clone in the face with his Boomstick and dismembered the body with the chainsaw.

Eventually Ash made it to the graveyard and recovered the Necronomicon. After failing to recite the magic words given to him by The Wise Man, Ash accidently resurrected every corpse in the countryside (including his evil clone). Racing back off to the castle, The Wise Man informed Ash that, although he still can send Ash back to the future, the forces of evil will come for the book eventually. After initially wanting to run away from this incoming "Army of Darkness" and helplessly watching as the Deadites kidnap Sheila right in front of him, Ash decided to stay and fight against this approaching legion of the undead. Using books found in the trunk of his car, Ash rallied the locals into helping him create "hi-tech" weaponry such as gunpowder and covering his car into a steam-powered Deathcoaster. It's not long after this that the army of the dead and Evil Ash arrive outside the castle walls, and the battle begins. Eventually blowing his doppleganger apart using a bag of gunpowder, and with the assistance of the combined armies of Lord Arthur and Henry The Red, the battle is won and the Necronomicon was protected. True to his word, The Wise Man created a potion that would put Ash to a deep slumber and "freeze" his body, and would automatically awaken him when back in the proper time. Saying goodbye to Sheila, Ash rode off from the castle.

Return To The 20th Century

After using the aforementioned potion given to him by The Wise Man, Ash slept for over 600 years, and eventually awoke back in his own time. Returning to his hometown of Elk Grove all alone with no friends or sister, Ash attempted to explain to his father what happened at the cabin, but Brock didn't believe the outrageous story. Word of Ash's story got out (presumably from Ash himself, as he often talked about "how he could have been king" to his S-Mart co-workers), and the locals gave him the nickname of "Ashy Slashy". At some point shortly before getting the nickname of "Ashy Slashy", Ash returned to work at S-Mart, and one day while telling his story to an unimpressed co-worker, a Deadite customer attacked the store. Ash jumped into action, quickly taking down the Deadite with a Lever-Action Rifle. After this incident, Ash was either fired or quit his job at S-Mart.

One night, with only a few personal belongings, his shotgun, chainsaw, and a Airstream Trailer hooked up to the Delta, Ash left Elk Grove and went into hiding, moving around the state of Michigan from trailer park to trailer park. There are several factors that could have provoked Ash into leaving Elk Grove, one being that the nickname of "Ashy Slashy" bothered him, another could have been that the Deadite encounter at S-Mart made him realize that if he stayed, evil could easily find him again, and that his own father didn't believe him when he tried explaining about the events at the cabin.

Thirty Years Later

Ash-0

An older Ash wears a man girdle.

Years passed, and Ash once again returned to a "demon-free" life of drugs, sex, and alcohol. In this time, Ash found employment at ValueStop as a stock boy, and managed to find another copy of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. Now in the 2010s, more than 30 years since the events at the cabin, Ash accidently awoke the Kandarian Demon once more after getting stoned and reading from the Book of The Dead. Knowing that he was responsible for keeping evil in check and it was his mess to clean up, Ash (along with his new associates in the Deadite-killing business: Pablo Simon Bolivar and Kelly Maxwell) went on a journey to stop evil once and for all. This "road trip" took Ash all over, from occult bookstores, militia camps, Jacksonville, back to Elk Grove, an insane asylum, and to the cabin where everything started (twice, in two different time periods). Along the way, Ash encountered many strange characters, from Pablo's uncle The Brujo, the "Demon of The Mind" Eligos, the paranoia-inducing demon Baal, The Dark Ones themselves, and two new Evil Ashes. Perhaps the most shocking of these adventures occurred shortly after Ash had gone back in time to 1982 and rewrote history, destroying the cabin before his younger self even got there. Back in this new "present", Ash discovered that he married a one-night-stand named Candace Barr and conceived a daughter named Brandy, who was now in her teens.

Trapped In The Future

After fighting the giant demon known as Kandar on the streets of Elk Grove using a tank, a dazed Ash was pulled out of the wrecked tank by an unknown individual. Slowly blacking out, Ash struggled as he was placed in what appeared to be some type of coffin. An unknown period of time passed, and Ash eventually awoke from his slumber to discover that he was in a bunker. After his awakening, a woman named Lexx approached Ash, giving him a new set of clothes, and opened the bunker doors, showing him that years had gone by, and the world had turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by The Dark Ones. Lexx then showed Ash his Delta, now outfitted with machine guns and a bulldozer scoop on the front. The two hopped in the car and drove into the city, looking for Dark Ones to fight.

Characteristics, Equipment, and Abilities

Weapons

Main Weapons

Ash is known for two main weapons, his sawed-off shotgun, the "Boomstick", a sawed-off double-barreled 12 gauge Remington Arms shotgun with a hair trigger (although this weapon has changed several times), and the more noticeable Homelite XL Chainsaw, which was adapted to replace his right hand, amputated in Evil Dead II after being possessed by a Deadite. Later, during Army of Darkness, Ash builds himself a new, mechanical right hand using a plate, chainmail gauntlet, and customized springs. The mechanical hand is fully functional, and even allows Ash to exhibit an otherwise superhuman grip, as seen when he easily crushes a goblet full of wine shortly after obtaining it. 

The Deathcoaster

The Deathcoaster is seen in the latter parts of Army of Darkness, made from the remains of his car and powered by a steam engine. The main feature of it is a massive rotating blade on the front of it, akin to an angled upright lawnmower blade. The Deathcoaster was destroyed during the film's final battle, after Evil Sheila tricks him into jumping off by apparently returning to normal. At the end of the film he takes what is left of it with him, though it hasn't been seen or used in any later material. The Deathcoaster was not referred to as such in the film; the name appears in scripts and publicity material.

Other Firearms

Besides the sawed-off Remington shotgun, Ash is also skilled in the use of other firearms like the Winchester Model 1892 lever action rifle (as seen at the end of Army of Darkness while fighting the possessed store clerk).

Characteristics

Bruce Campbell has stated Ash is pretty much incompetent at everything except fighting the Evil Dead [1]. 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 prowess with a variety of weapons in various situations [2]. His main strength seems to be his ingenuity: 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". In the 1992 Army of Darkness comic adaptation written by Sam and Ivan Raimi, it's mentioned that before Ash had gone to the cabin, he got an engineering degree from Michigan State University, which explains how he was able to construct the gauntlet and Deathcoaster.

In addition, during the second time he was possessed near the climax of Evil Dead II, Ash displayed some degree of superhuman strength (see Deadite Ash below), as seen when he easily lifted Jake over his head and threw him at least ten feet into a tree and ripped the back screen door of the cabin off of its hinges with his one remaining hand.

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 who is cowardly and inexperienced, but by the middle of Evil Dead II and into Army of Darkness, he has grown into a much braver, even arrogant 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. Sam Raimi has said that he feels Ash's personality transformation in Army of Darkness was very out of character [3].

Ash's experiences with the Necronomicon have left him cynical, irritable, and perhaps partially, if not completely, insane; several of the horrifying things that have happened to him, prominent examples being the various sound effects he hears before Evil Cheryl punched clean through the door and grabs his face in The Evil Dead, his reflection popping out of the mirror and strangling him (see Bad Ash/Evil Ash below), as well as multiple inanimate objects coming to life and laughing maniacally at him, with Ash himself joining in soon after, when he attempts to sit down in a wooden chair and crushes it while doing so in Evil Dead II, were merely his hallucinations and not the powers of the Kandarian demons, suggesting the encounters with the evil has traumatized Ash and caused him to develop an unknown degree of mental illness. Because of how his adventures have always caused him to lose people he cared about, in later years he always tries to keep people away for him to avoid another loss.

Due to his experience with the Necronomicon, Ash has transformed from a friendly everyman to a cynical deadite killer. However, underneath all his personality flaws is a genuinely good person who will risk his life to save others and cares greatly about people, even if he spends most of his time insulting them. This is evident when a drunk Ash mourns Pablo's death, claiming he would give up any kind of reward for saving the world if it meant Pablo could be brought back.

Variant Incarnations

Eash screencap01

Evil Ash in Army of Darkness.

Evil Ash

Main article: Evil Ash

Ash's dark side manifests itself as a separate entity first in Evil Dead II, where he hallucinates his reflection tormenting him over dismembering 'their' girlfriend with a chainsaw, and then proceeds to try and choke him (only for Ash to realize he was choking himself). This side of him later splits off his body in a drawn out painful event in Army of Darkness (unlike the original, having both hands intact), becoming 'Bad Ash' and getting first blown away at point blank range by Ash's shotgun, then cut to pieces, and finally buried (though even in this state he still 'lived').

When Ash blunders and accidentally awakens the Army of the Dead, Bad Ash re-emerges from the grave quickly piecing himself together as the decayed 'Evil Ash' and takes command of the undead troops, even corrupting Ash's then-love interest Sheila into a deadite-like hag. He battles the original Ash as he makes a bee-line for the Necronomicon, and gets lit ablaze by a torch, only to re-emerge as 'Skeleton Evil Ash', a much more agile and dangerous version. As Henry the Red's troops arrive to assist in the battle against the undead and break their ranks, Evil Ash ironically has his right hand holding the Necronomicon chopped off by Ash, and is then catapulted into the sky riding a lit sack of gunpowder to be blown to pieces.

715 years after defeating him in 1300 AD, Evil Ash returned to kill his "goody little two shoes" counterpart one more time when the real Ash returned to the cabin. This new Evil Ash grew out of Ash's still living severed hand. Eventually he was killed by Pablo and Kelly when they deducted that the real Ash wasn't racist against Asians.
Ash Deadite

Deadite Ash in Evil Dead II.

Deadite Ash

At the beginning of Evil Dead II, Ash is attacked by the Kandarian Demon and becomes a Deadite himself, albeit briefly. Ash broke free of the Deadite's possession of him when the morning sun drove it away (although 30 years later, the Deadites will have no problem walking in daylight). Later that night when Jake forced Annie Knowby and Ash outside to look for Bobby Joe, Ash became possessed again and attacked Jake and Annie. Ash once again broke free from the evil influence, this time when he found the necklace he was going to give to his girlfriend Linda.

Other Appearances

Evil Dead (2013)

Ash's first on-screen appearance since the Army of Darkness film was in a cameo in the post-credits scene of the 2013 Evil Dead film. Ash (portrayed by Campbell), says his iconic line "Groovy" and then quickly turns his head towards the audience before the screen cuts to black.

Ash 4 Emmy Campaign

In 2016, Bruce Campbell appeared in character as Ash in a series of advertisements for an Emmy Consideration Campaign for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy.

Conan Comic-Con 2016

On July 22, 2016, Bruce Campbell appeared on the TBS talk-show Conan wearing Ash's Chainsaw and helped Conan O'Brien with cutting a sandwich that sprayed blood all over Bruce's white tuxedo.

Ash 4 President Promos

In August 2016, Campbell once again appeared in character as Ash in a series of commercials asking people to vote for him this November to "Make America Groovy Again".

Funny or Die's The Dangers of Having A Chainsaw For A Hand Promo

Like his appearance on Conan, Bruce Campbell appeared as himself wearing Ash's Chainsaw for a video on the website Funny or Die. The video, released on September 26th, 2016, revolves around Campbell doing everyday things, except that he really has a Chainsaw for a hand.

Trivia

AshLicenseAVED

The prop licence created for Ash vs Evil Dead. Other prop licences created for the series show that the date of birth reads as "Day/Month/Year", not "Month/Day/Year" like actual Michigan licences.

  • Ash's birthdate of April 8th, 1957 comes from a prop drivers license created for Bruce Campbell to carry in Ash vs Evil Dead. This means that Ash was 25 years old during the events of the films (which took place in 1982), and 57 when Ash vs Evil Dead starts in 2014.
  • Prior to going to the cabin, it appeared Ash had aspirations of being a classical musician, since we see him play piano in the opening of Evil Dead II and a cello can be seen in Ash's bedroom throughout Ash vs Evil Dead Season Two.
  • Ash is left-handed. This is a result of sawing off his own right hand with a chainsaw in Evil Dead 2 and Bruce Campbell actually being left-handed.
  • Ash's character is referenced heavily in Evil Dead by both Mia and David.
  • Sam Raimi came up with the idea to have Ash's full name be Ashley J. Williams while making Army of Darkness, and the name was later confirmed by Bruce Campbell during an interview with Cinefantastique magazine. Campbell originally wanted Ash's name to be "Ash Holt" before Raimi approved the Williams name, and in an early script for the pilot episode of Ash vs Evil Dead, writers Sam and Ivan Raimi put Ash's full name as Ashley Holt. In the Season 3 episode of Ash vs Evil Dead titled Unfinished Business, it was revealed that the "J" in "Ashley J. Williams" stood for "Joanna". Another interesting note on Ash's name is that it was spelled "Ashly" in the original Evil Dead script.

Ash on Other Wikis

References

  1. Audio commentary for Evil Dead II, Bruce Campbell: "As dumb as Ash is, he's actually a capable guy with dealing with monsters"
  2. In Army of Darkness, Ash trains the people in Arthur's kingdom in martial arts
  3. Sam Raimi's comments on the DVD audio commentary for the Army of Darkness Director's Cut.