Fan Article: Misunderstood Characters: Setting the Record Straight #5 Leopardstar by Jayfrost

I’ve wanted to write an article for a while, but I couldn’t think of a topic until now. Now I’ve finally found something I want to discuss. Here, I will talk about the various villains of Warriors, specifically the ones that fans tend to think are “misunderstood” or are poor unfortunate babies that couldn’t control what they were doing, or were in some other way justified. Of course, not all fans think this way, I’m just responding to a few people who treat these characters this way. This is just my take on all this, so feel free to disagree with me. Jayfrost

Leopards and Tigers and Clans, oh my!Leopardstar

I didn’t even think to write this one originally, but Swiftfire suggested it, and it got me thinking about Leopardstar’s controversial actions in the past. So here it is, my opinion on the late leader of RiverClan.

Leopardfur started out as the too-aggressive, too eager deputy of RiverClan, serving under the older and wiser Crookedstar. It was easy to see that problems would arise when she eventually became leader of RiverClan. And they did, in the worst way possible.

Too naive to see Tigerstar’s true intentions, and blinded by her dislike of ThunderClan, she agreed to combine her Clan with Tigerstar’s, creating TigerClan. What Leopardstar didn’t realize was that she was handing total control of her Clan over to the bloodthirsty ruler, and that he would use it to kill any cat he didn’t like. He used this power to order Blackfoot and Darkstripe to kill Stonefur.

Now, here’s where it gets a little controversial. Leopardstar allowed Tigerstar to basically turn her Clan into a concentration camp for halfClan cats. Not only that, she told her deputy to kill two innocent, very young apprentices. “For a heartbeat Leopardstar looked uncertain, and again Firestar began to hope that she would take a stand against Tigerstar and stop the destruction of her Clan. But he had underestimated the strength of her ambition, and her mis-guided faith that Tigerstar offered an invincible future. ‘These are difficult times,’ she meowed at last. ‘As we fight for survival we must be able to count on everyone one of our Clan mates. There is no room for divided loyalties. Do as Tigerstar tells you.’” (The Darkest Hour, pg. 169)

This is very interesting situation, I think. It seems that at this point, Leopardstar has become disillusioned with Tigerstar, and she doesn’t seem to like the idea of TigerClan anymore. Yes, what she did was inexcusable. However, we might want to explore the reasoning behind it. She had already basically handed over the power over her entire Clan to Tigerstar. By the time she realized his true intentions, it was too late. He had already moved all of ShadowClan into RiverClan’s camp, he had already stuffed her second and command and his sister inside a hole for no greater a crime than being halfClan. She must have felt so hopeless. “To Firestar’s dismay, Leopardstar just bowed her head. The gesture showed just how far Tigerstar’s power extended, that the once-formidable RiverClan leader was unable or unwilling to protect her own deputy.” (The Darkest Hour, pg. 168)

If she had challenged him, or tried to break RiverClan away from TigerClan, it would have resulted in ShadowClan slaughtering RiverClan. Tigerstar had been building up the strength of his warriors for a good few moons, and they had become a strong Clan once more. With probably some of RiverClan ready to support TigerClan despite Leopardstar’s wishes, and her second-in-command’s loyalty doubted by everyone, Leopardstar probably thought RiverClan wouldn’t stand a chance if she tried to pull them away from TigerClan.

I don’t know if that excuses Leopardstar for allowing Tigerstar to try and murder two innocent apprentices. I really don’t know. If she had tried to save them it probably would have turned into war, and her cats would have been overwhelmed. Does this mean she should have done nothing like she did? I’m not sure. It’s a very tough situation. All of this was due to Leopardstar’s mistake in trusting Tigerstar. She recognized that, and handled it like a true leader, making the hard decision that she thought was right for as many of her Clanmates as possible. It might not have been the right decision, and some might call it a coward’s decision, but I truly believe she was trying to protect her Clanmates, even if it meant letting Stormpaw and Featherpaw die. Rather like another noble leader we once knew.

After Tigerstar’s death, Leopardstar once again does what she thinks is best, and bears the punishment of it in determined silence, never trying to make excuses for her mistakes. She tried to keep the terrified, scattered remains of TigerClan together, to ensure as many cats survived as possible, taking responsibility for the Clan she helped to create. “Leopardstar held his gaze for a long moment. ‘I am the sole leader of TigerClan now,’ she meowed at last, a spark of pride returning to her dull eyes. ‘The old RiverClan camp is too small to hold both Clans. We let the queens and kits and the elders stay there, with some warriors to guard them.'” (The Darkest Hour, pg. 269)

Much like she did with TigerClan, when BloodClan threatened to slaughter her warriors, Leopardstar knew that her ragged, terrified cats wouldn’t stand a chance. She tried to find a solution that would save as many warriors as possible. This time, however, she wasn’t satisfied with leaving cats to die like she had with Featherpaw and Stormpaw. “Leopardstar hesitated, tossing her head from side to side as if the effort of talking to Firestar irritated her. ‘I sent a scouting party to look for places to stay beyond Highstones,’ she admitted. ‘But we have young kits, and two of our elders are ill. Not every cat can go, and the ones that stay will die.'” (The Darkest Hour, pg. 270)

When Firestar offered her a chance, a very slim chance, at beating back BloodClan and ending the nightmare once and for all, Leopardstar finally took the brave option and led her cats into battle against BloodClan. When the battle is won and BloodClan is gone, Leopardstar starts trying to make up for her mistakes. She makes Mistyfoot deputy, knowing it could never make up for what she allowed to happen to Stonefur, but hoping it will help honor the life of her brother. From that moment on, Leopardstar never made a mistake as grave as trusting Tigerstar again. Sure, she was hostile and closed-off, and sometimes her decisions weren’t always for the good of every Clan. But her loyalty was always to RiverClan, and like Rock said, if she was hostile to the other Clans, it was because she no longer trusted her own judgement.

In conclusion, telling Stonefur to kill Stormpaw and Featherpaw was wrong. But it was the only option Leopardstar saw to save her Clanmates, and even if it was wrong, she never tried to justify herself to anyone. I truly believe she spent the rest of her life trying to make up for it, and in the end, Mistyfoot forgave her, as did the rest of RiverClan, and StarClan. “’Tigerstar was responsible for the death of my brother,’ Mistyfoot growled. ‘Tigerstar and Blackfoot. The time of TigerClan had nothing to do with the warrior code that I believe in. I was always loyal to RiverClan – and to you, as our leader.’” (Untold Stories, pg. 118)

[For Jayfrost’s previous article on Tigerstar, click here]

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