Patrick McHale Is Adapting Redwall And What That Might Look Like

The creator of "Over the Garden Wall" is leading Netflix's adaptation of the popular and beloved Redwall fantasy book series.

It’s official. Netflix is adapting the Redwall book series by Brian Jacques, and there is much to discuss. 

The project will be led by Patrick McHale, who is most famous for his Cartoon Network miniseries, “Over the Garden Wall.” Ten episodes follow a pair of half-brothers as they wander through a dark fairy-tale-like forest to find their way home. 

The show has an immersive quality through its beautiful artwork, enchanting music, and other-worldly characters. It’s found a well-deserved cult following since premiering in 2014.

The same day as Netflix’s press release regarding Redwall, McHale simply Tweeted the words “...i - am that is..." (no spoilers, but fans will understand) with a mouse holding a sword. A quick glance at the comment section will indicate the hype for the project is very real.

The Redwall series follows woodland creatures in their established society—mice, moles, rats, foxes, hedgehogs, and other creatures—and the conflicts that follow. Think “Game of Thrones” meets “Beatrix Potter,” or perhaps “Lord of the Rings,” meets “Wind in the Willows.”    

The events of the first book, "Redwall" will be covered in one film. “Netflix is also plotting a TV series based on the character Martin the Warrior, a wise and ferocious mouse who co-founded Redwall Abby along with Abbess Germaine,” according to Deadline

In 1999 an animated show premiered on Canada’s Teletoon with three seasons covering books one, three, and six in the series. It aired on PBS in the US the following year. 

This is the first time, however, that one franchise will own the rights to all 22 books. This means plenty of material and a rich history that could last Netflix at least a decade if given the proper nourishment.  

Concept art for Redwall by Netflix with Patrick McHale leading the project
Image Source: Netflix

Currently, everything is “in development,” which means there is a lot of time to analyze and speculate before the movie and show arrive.

Here are some theories on what the show might look like and what it might try to do… as well as some characters from the first book that would be wonderful to have in the adaptation. 

Things to Consider as Patrick McHale Adapts Redwall

The first question, of course, this being a series full of animated animals, what will the style look like? Will the show take a cartoonish approach, or will the characters be more photorealistic? 

Will McHale use a similar style as his animals in “Over the Garden Wall,” or choose something entirely new?

School Animals in
Image Source: FANDOM

There’s also the question of size differences. Will foxes be as small as rats? Will rodents be anthropomorphic and clad in clothing while predators like cats, prowl on all-fours in nothing but fur?

Given the style of the Redwall book series, as well as McHale’s style, it’s likely the animals might have a more realistic approach, perhaps being just one level more cartoonish than Beatrix Potter illustrations. 

Mice in Beatrix Potter style realistic yet still anthropomorphic
Image Source: The Cartoonists

How realistic the animals look might also indicate how dark the show will be willing to go. 

Obviously, the series will be targeted for kids, if not always only viewed by them. Yet, Netflix as a streaming service will naturally have more freedom than children’s shows airing on network television.

One case indicative of this trend is Cartoon Network’s “Infinity Train.” While there were certainly intense moments and darker themes in the first two seasons, there were noticeably more intense moments in season three after the show moved solely to HBOMax.

It will be interesting to see how “Redwall” might handle a few onscreen deaths after so many… “on-page” deaths. It is, after all, a story about war.  

The Best Supporting Characters from Redwall 

Understandably, because of time constraints, some beloved characters may be cut. Here is a nice list just to remember the less-important ones, and to hype up the characters that certainly will be there.   

Shadow the Rat

Shadow the rat from the 1999 Canadian Redwall Adaptation
Image Source: YouTube

Shadow is a rat under Cluny’s army, who’s renowned for his climbing ability. The scene of him scaling up the Abby wall, and hiding in the dark almost undetectable was, forgive the pun, quite gripping. His “dense obsidian eyes” and his sneaking past guards “like a sinuous black lizard” are certain things the animators could have a lot of fun with.

Squire Julian Gingivere the Marmalade Cat

Squire Julian Gingivere the Marmalade Cat from the 1999 Canadian Redwall Adaptation
Image Source: YouTube

Julian is completely unlike any other of the Redwall characters in the first book. While certainly catlike, he is very much an anti-predator when compared with any of the larger animals in the cast. 

His line delivery was particularly great in the audiobook narrated by Stuart Blinder. For the film, Billy Eichner or someone similar might be the perfect voice to cast.

Constance the Badger

Constance the badger from the 1999 Canadian Redwall Adaptation
Image Source: YouTube

Constance is certain to be the film. She's the lead voice of strategy for Abby’s side in the war, and the story wouldn’t be the same without her. Hopefully, as many of her iconic moments as possible make it into the movie, from lifting tables to turning the tides of war. 

Cornflower the Mouse

Cornflower Fieldmouse from the 1999 Canadian Redwall Adaptation
Image Source: YouTube

Cornflower might easily be written off as simply the “love interest,” but there’s a lot to potentially look forward to with her. She will bring out the softer, more “human” side to Matthias, and her presents might allow for a few comedic scenes. In the book, she has an important heroic moment that may make it onto the screen. And yes, of course, it’ll be very cute to see the romance between her and Matthias.

Silent Sam the Squirrel

Silent Same the squirrel from the 1999 Canadian Redwall Adaptation
Image Source: YouTube

The young Silent Sam will likely pull in appeal for the youngest members of the audience. There is something understated about cartoon characters who can tell a story without words. Silent Sam will likely steal the scenes he’s in, though hopefully his book ending is rewritten a little, and (spoiler alert) he remains Silent Sam.

Basil Stag Hare

Basil Stag Hare from the 1999 Canadian Redwall Adaptation
Image Source: YouTube

“Over the Garden Wall” had many great comedic moments, thanks largely in part to Greg’s antics. It would be difficult to imagine “Redwall” without Basil Stag Hare, and it’s likely he’ll be providing much of the comic relief. Here is where McHale’s writing style might shine through.  

Asmodeus the Adder

Asmodeus Poisonteeth the adder or snake from the 1999 Canadian Redwall Adaptation
Image Source: YouTube

What list of characters would be complete without this frightening villain? If McHale sets up the suspense and anticipation for Asmodeus half as well as he did for the Beast in “Over the Garden Wall,” then he is something to truly be feared indeed.

It should almost go without saying, but the greatest character moments to look forward to will be of course Cluny’s first reveal being as dramatic as possible, and Matthias being transformed from the mouse tripping over his sandals to the fearless warrior and hero his world needs.

It’s all very exciting to think about, and Netflix chose the perfect person to lead the project. Luckily, from now until the project is ready for public consumption, there are 22 books to read, three seasons of the old TV show to see, and everyone’s 178th rewatch of “Over the Garden Wall” to keep fans entertained in the meantime.

Kaydee is a writer who is always looking for her next favorite show. She also loves journaling, graphic novels, and late night comedy.

No Saves yet. Share it with your friends.

Write Your Diary

Get Free Access To Our Publishing Resources

Independent creators, thought-leaders, experts and individuals with unique perspectives use our free publishing tools to express themselves and create new ideas.

Start Writing