Ashley J. "Ash" Williams is the protagonist in the Evil Dead horror film franchise, played by Bruce Campbell, and created by director Sam Raimi.
Since the character Ash Williams first appeared in the film The Evil Dead, he has become very popular in modern cult horror and is one of the few protagonists of said cult horror films to have such notoriety. He is most easily recognized and envisioned in later material based on his final appearance in the second film, armed with a sawed-off shotgun and a chainsaw strapped to the stump on his right arm where his hand once was. Ash has to face off against his loved ones inside an abandoned cabin as they are possessed by the evil souls of the dead.Conception and history
Ash's name according to Sam Raimi is a reference to his originally intended fate at the end of Evil Dead, stating "that's all that was going to be left of him in the end." Campbell however suggested the name was short for "Ash Holt", indicating Raimi's opinion of the character. When creating Army of Darkness, director Raimi toyed with giving him the full name "Ashley J. Williams", which was later used by video games and comics involving the character. Campbell later confirmed in Cinefantastique that the full name was official.Fictional biography
Ash is in his early twenties and usually lives a "normal" life. He is employed at the housewares section of the superstore S-Mart, and has a girlfriend, Linda. Based on the engineering textbooks in the trunk of his car, it appears that he is (or at least was) studying at Michigan State University. Also, in the first Army Of Darkness comic book released by Dark Horse in the 90s, Ash says his father blew $20,000 on his engineering degree showing that either he completed his schooling and had done nothing with his education, or dropped out.The Evil Dead
In The Evil Dead, Ash and his girlfriend Linda, sister Cheryl, and friends Scotty and Shelly stay at a log cabin in the woods, where they find the "Naturan Demanto" (renamed or possibly translated to Necronomicon Ex-Mortis in the sequels), the "Book of the Dead", along with a tape recorder. The tape is a recording of the owner of the cabin, who was translating a passage of the book. By playing the tape, Ash and his friends awake the evil spirits who can now possess the living. Ash's friends and sister are consequently possessed and killed one by one, until he's the last survivor. He finally destroys the Necronomicon by throwing it in the fireplace, and in doing so causes the possessed bodies of Scotty and Cheryl to rapidly decay and 'die', and the evil seems to be driven back. However, the film ends with Ash being attacked or possibly overtaken by an evil spirit himself.Dead by Dawn
Evil Dead II continues the story from the previous film after a stunted recap in which the audience is introduced to Ash's girlfriend Linda (who still subsequently gets possessed, decapitated and buried) and Ash himself, to the point where the evil spirit attacks Ash. From this point, the film continues the story from where the first film left off. Carried a good distance by the demon, Ash is slammed hard against a tree and falls in a puddle of water. From here he becomes a deadite (see Deadite Ash, below) but shortly afterwards is released from the spirit by the coming of dawn, only to pass out. Ash regains consciousness moments before sunset. Deciding to get out of there as fast as he can, he climbs into his car and drives to where the bridge was, only to find it completely destroyed by the evil force. As the sun quickly sets, said force starts climbing up the cliff, and Ash hops into his car, driving away as fast as he can and as a result, crashing right into a tree stump that sends him flying through the windshield. With the evil close behind him, he runs into the cabin and through it trying to hide, and ducks into the trapdoor, waiting until the evil force leaves. After it does, Ash comes out, only to find himself stuck at the cabin with the spirits of the Evil Dead for yet another night. Later, the cabin owner's daughter, Annie and three more people arrive. It is near the end of this film that Ash gets his famous chainsaw in place of his right hand. The film ends with Ash being sucked into a vortex and traveling back in time to 1300 AD, where the locals claim, according to their prophecies, that he is "The Man That Falls from the Sky" who will save them from the Deadites (demon-possessed zombies).Army of Darkness
The next film continues the story from there (though he receives far less of a warm welcome than the end of the previous film suggests). Ash has to defeat his alter-ego known as "Bad Ash"/"Evil Ash" who is leading the Army of Darkness to steal the Necronomicon. In this movie, Ash constructs a mechanical prosthetic hand out of a gauntlet from a suit of armor, using it throughout the film in place of the chainsaw (though he still carries it with him). The movie has two different endings, one where he returns to his own time and defends S-Mart from a possessed woman (or Japanese version entitled "Captain Supermarket"), and another, the director's cut, where he ends up in a post-apocalyptic future.
Characteristics, equipment, and abilities
Ash is known for two main weapons: his "boomstick", a sawed off double-barreled 12 gauge Remington shotgun (although this weapon has changed several times, and the one shown most often appears to be a Stoeger Coach Gun), and the more noticeable chainsaw, which was adapted to replace his right hand, amputated in Evil Dead II after being possessed by a Kandarian spirit. 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. The shotgun has been shown to consistently fire more rounds than Ash has loaded and has been shown to disappear at inconvenient times for Ash, only to reappear several moments later; however, this is most likely a simple plot device. His chainsaw can run for a remarkably long time without running out of gas, as seen throughout the final scenes of Evil Dead II.
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. At the end of the film he takes what is left of it with him, and though the Deathcoaster has not been used throughout later set material, the car seems to have been restored at some point, as it is depicted in the majority of Ash's later adventures. The Deathcoaster was not referred to as such in the film; the name only appears in scripts and publicity material.
Besides the sawed-off Remington shotgun, Ash is also skilled in the use of other firearms like the Winchester Model 1894 lever action rifle. Strangely, Ash seems to lose possession of both his chainsaw and shotgun during Army of Darkness, as he is not seen to be carrying the chainsaw after dismembering Bad Ash and is not seen with his shotgun after crashing the Deathcoaster. A possible continuity error exists within the series; while Ash claimed to have obtained his shotgun at S-Mart in Army of Darkness, he really found it at Professor Knowby's cabin during Evil Dead II, though, Ash only says that the gun "can be found" in S-Mart, and never explicitly says that he got it there.
Bruce Campbell has stated Ash is pretty much incompetent at everything except fighting the Evil Dead. 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 . His main strength seems to be his ingenuity: although he is repeatedly noted in the audio commentaries for The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II for his stupidity and ignorance, 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". His inventing skills are further expanded on in the games: in Evil Dead: Regeneration, he creates fully-functional weapons such as a flamethrower and a harpoon gun from spare parts that are merely laying about; and in Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick, the inventiveness seems to run in Ash's family, as his blacksmith ancestor in the Colonial Dearborn level is quickly able to make a flamethrower and a gatling gun from spare parts Ash finds for him, when Ash says those things "haven't even been invented yet".
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.
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 Darkness was very out of character Variant incarnationsBad Ash/Evil Ash
'Bad-Ass-Ash' is 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 (After this "Good"Ash says "Good/Bad, I'm the guy with the gun."), 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.
He returns in Evil Dead: Hail to the King after Ash's possessed hand releases the evil force once more into the world by playing Knowby's tape recording, emerging from the mirror in the cabin (a la his first appearance), tossing Ash aside and taking off. Unlike before, Evil Ash is closer in appearance to a zombified version of Ash, and has the ability to launch fireballs and shapeshift. Ultimately he was destroyed once more by the original. Beyond this, Evil Ash has appeared in comic spin-offs, appearing more akin to his decayed Army of Darkness version. In the comics, as he is the evil side of Ash separated, Ash is "the purest soul on Earth". He is one of the central antagonists in the A.O.D. comic books and is obsessed with defeating the original.Deadite Ash
'Deadite Ash' is another story. In Evil Dead: Regeneration this version is referred to as 'Evil Ash' (and Sam calls him 'Bad Ash' in the game). Deadite Ash is Ash himself possessed by a Kandarian demon and turned into a monstrous version of himself with greatly increased strength and brutality. In Evil Dead II, sunlight and the memory of Linda seems to drive the demon out (or possibly just 'back') and reverts him to normal. In Regeneration, Deadite Ash actually is shown to be a complete berserker, attacking anything in his path (namely the deadites) and with Ash having some degree of control, later on, over his actions, though the effects are short-term. Enemies in the last area of the game speak of how Ash is "already one of them", possibly a reference to this. The shotgun and chainsaw are augmented during this period also, the gun notably firing bolts of energy.Ashley G. Williams
This Ash Williams is native to the Marvel Zombies universe (Earth-2149). A lowly employee of S-Mart, Ash takes up arms against the zombie superheroes. However, while distracted by seeing Ashley J. Williams, he is attacked and eaten by the zombie Howard the Duck (who said his brain tastes like chicken). Unlike regular Ash, this version apparently never got involved in the events surrounding the cabin or the Necronomicon, as he has both hands and lacks the regular's facial scars. Instead he feels that he was meant for greater things, but in the world of superheroes was never considered much in the public eye and stayed at S-Mart. Like Ashley J. Williams, this Ash used both a shotgun harnessed to his back and a chainsaw. It is uncertain just how much he managed to do before Howard killed him, though he is shown encountering a zombified and duplicated Multiple Man and dismembering Hulkling's remains with his chainsaw.Other appearancesComics
In 1992, Dark Horse Comics released a three-issue miniseries written by Sam Raimi and illustrated by John Bolton.
Dynamite Entertainment has made their own line of comics featuring the character. Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes (2004) a four-issue miniseries that picks up directly after the film's ending, taking place on the very day Ash and his friends travelled to Knowby's cabin, and leads into Army of Darkness: Shop Till You Drop (Dead) (2005) a four-issue miniseries. Another mini-series, Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator (2005), featuring Ash confined to a mental institution and forced to go up against Doctor Herbert West and his zombie minions, came out in 2005. In 2006, Dynamite started releasing an ongoing series, showing the events after the Re-Animator crossover.
Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness (2007) is a spin-off from this comic line (after Ash's 'death' in Army of Darkness #13), taking place in the Marvel Zombies universe. The series serves to fill in certain gaps left in the Marvel Zombies storyline that even Dead Days didn't flesh out fully. The crossover lasts several issues, with Ash finally returning to his own world (and own comic) with Army of Darkness: From the Ashes (2007).
Dynamite has created several crossovers and side stories of their own. Tales of the Army of Darkness (2006) is a one shot comic featuring several stories about Ash and the Necronomicon. Darkman vs. Army of Darkness (2006), a four-issue miniseries features Ash teaming up with fellow Raimi created character Darkman to stop the Deadites. Ash then starred in Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash (2007), a six-issue miniseries from Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment where Ash must face off against the legendary horror icons.