[Mapleshade in a fighting stance on an orange background]

A Defense of Mapleshade by Twilightfall

Twilightfall defends Mapleshade.

Art by XemiDraws

Unlike the infamous Ashfur, Mapleshade’s fate in the dark forest is far less contested. Due to her leading role in the Dark Forest, her outright cruelty to Crookedstar, and killing of Spottedleaf, she tends to be a rather unpopular character, typically only appreciated for her villany. But cats are judged on how they lived, not their actions after death. And while she was alive, just like Ashfur, Mapleshade’s only true crime was loving too much.
In the novella Mapleshade’s Vengeance, Mapleshade is banished from Thunderclan due to bearing a Riverclan tom’s kits. She attempts to take them across the river to their father’s clan, but all three die while crossing and Appledusk blames her. She then takes vengeance against the cats who she believes caused their death before dying and going to the place of no stars. Yet with careful examination, Mapleshade is sentenced to the Dark Forest for crimes other cats have been excused of.
The key thing to fully understanding Mapleshade’s actions in the novella is that she is clearly mentally unstable during most of the titualar “Vengeance.” Before meeting Appledusk, most descriptions of Mapleshade emphasize her loyalty an potential to become deputy and perhaps even leader. In fact, in the Warrior Cats Ultimate Guide, Unlike Thistleclaw, Hawkfrost, or Tigerstar, her motivations don’t lie in ambition or power; instead, all she wants is to stop the crying of her dead kits. She regularly hallucinates her dead kits, and seems to genuinely believe she is being told to take revenge by Starclan, literally thinking at one point: “StarClan, why are you doing this to me? I fell in love, that’s all! And now I am made to suffer more than any cat has before.” At the end of the novella, she still has this lack of stability, believing that the Place of No Stars is for cats who have suffered as much as her, which really doesn’t place Starclan in a positive light if that’s the case.
The first murder Mapleshade commits in the novella is that of Ravenwing, who outed her kits as half clan and caused them to be banished, resulting in their death. While this may seem unforgiveable and a certain sentence to the place of no stars, this is really no different from Hollyleaf’s murder of Ashfur. Compare the two scenes:
Hating his power more than he ever had before, he had reached out to his sister’s memories. She was stalking Ashfur along the WindClan border stream, treading lightly, avoiding boulders where her claws might scrape or ferns that would brush against her fur. Ashfur, intent on hunting, never noticed she was there. Hollyleaf followed him like a shadow until they came to a place where the bank was steep and slippery, and the stream was a foaming snake far slippery, and the stream was a foaming snake far below. She pounced on him from a rock, gripping his shoulders with her forepaws and twisting her head around to sink her teeth into his throat. Inside the red mist that clouded her senses, Ashfur was nothing but prey, something that had to be killed to protect the warrior code and the future of her Clan.
Mapleshade froze, convinced that her heart was thudding loud enough for the medicine cat to hear. But after a moment Ravenwing carried on, his paw steps the softest whisper in the silence. Faint gray light appeared ahead, silhouetting the medicine cat’s ears. The Moonstone! Mapleshade realized she had dropped into the hunting crouch and was stalking forward once step at a time, her tail flattened behind her. She reached the opening to the cave and almost gasped out loud at the sight of the Moonstone glittering in the silver light. Ravenwing knelt in front of it, his head bowed. With a hiss, Mapleshade sprang forward, claws extended. She landed on his back, sending him rolling onto the smooth cold stone. She caught a glimpse of his eyes, bright in the reflected moonlight. “Mapleshade!” Ravenwing choked. “What are you doing here?” Mapleshade let her claws sink into the fur around his throat. “Avenging the death of my kits,” she snarled. “If I could kill you three times over, I would!” She knew she had nothing to say to the medicine cat. Nothing would bring back her kits. He simply did not deserve to live.
These scenes really aren’t fundamentally different. If anything, Mapleshade is far more justified due to Ravenwing already telling her secret and causing the death of three cats while Ashfur merely threatened to. In addition, Hollyleaf is fully aware of her actions and their weight, often questioning what Starclan thinks of her. In contrast, Mapleshade actually believes that Starclan is telling her to murder him. This can also be applied to Mapleshade’s action of blinding the warrior Frecklewish for doing nothing while her kits drowned. Frecklewish did break the warrior code, and if Hollyleaf can get away with murder on the virtue of Ashfur being a scumbag, it’s not really far to judge Mapleshade, as stated before, a very unstable cat, for the act of blinding someone.
While Mapleshade’s murder of Appledusk may seem unjustifiable, other cats have gone to starclan despite committing or attempting to commit similar crimes. Take, for example, the scene where Hollyleaf (A current member of Starclan) attempts to kill Leafpool by feeding her deathberries for lying to her and breaking the warrior code.
“See those deathberries? You’re going to eat them—or I’ll make you!” “What?” Leafpool sounded bewildered. “Eat them! You deserve to die.” Hollyleaf crouched, ready to spring, when the medicine cat made no move toward the deadly berries. “I’ve killed once,” she snarled. “And I can do it again.”
“Hollyleaf,” Leafpool meowed. “I have lost my kits, the one cat I loved, and my calling as a medicine cat. Which do you think would be easier for me, to die or to go on living?
There was only one answer to that question. Silently Hollyleaf stood aside, and Leafpool padded past her and out of the den.
Hollyleaf clearly does not spare Leafpool for any moral reason in this scene. She literally keeps her alive because she will suffer more having to live with the consequences of her actions then dying. (This is quite similar to Mapleshade’s treatment of Crookedstar, in fact.) The same goes for Ashfur, who knew fully well that having her world torn apart would hurt Squirrelflight far more than her death. Given that both of these characters fully considered killing to punish for honestly far less serious actions and only decided against it only to hurt their victim more and went to Starclan, Mapleshade’s actions against Appledusk seem far less terrible. Ashfur also seemed to be perfectly willing to kill Hollyleaf, Jayfeather, and Lionblaze because Squirrelflight wouldn’t date him. Appledusk legitimately caused harm to Mapleshade, and is implied to have lead her on in some ways, due to Reedshine being heavily pregnant relatively soon after Mapleshade kitted.
(And just a side note, if you think that Mapleshade should be in the Dark Forest due to having kits with a Riverclan tom and causing them to die with reckless behavior, I’d like to introduce you to a little cat called Bluestar)
In conclusion, in life, Mapleshade wasn’t really much worse than several Starclan cats, yet was still banished to the Dark Forest. When Mapleshade’s actions are closely studied, she appears to be less of a cunning mastermind and more of a lonely, unstable cat who could never be satisfied until every cat had felt the same pain she had. If she had lived longer, perhaps she might have reformed like Hollyleaf, but her life was cut off, leaving her in the Place of No Stars with a firm belief her destiny was to place her suffering upon others. Mapleshade was put down a path of tragedy as soon as she became mates with Appledusk. Perhaps if she had chosen a Thunderclan mate, she might have been a great warrior of Thunderclan rather than an angry force of vengeance.

Fan Articles


  • Mapleshade definitely isn’t short of fans, and that’s probably because she’s one of the only complex female villains.


    I don’t think, however, that a cat’s worth is measured by whether or not they went to StarClan, or whether they should’ve gone to the DF. Mapleshade herself probably would’ve preferred the DArk Forest over StarClan, because towards the end of Mapleshade’s Vengeance, she got into the Dark Forest and after hearing what the DF was, she was happy because she’d find the cats who were like her, wronged by the Clans, and train them to become better fighters than any other cats. She was happier in the DF

    So for Mapleshade, ending up in StarCLan isn’t what she wanted at all. Mapleshade was happy in the Dark Forest, and even though I’m super supportive of Mapleshade, I think she belongs in the DF.

  • Honestly, Mapleshade as a character is freaking amazing and has lots of fans. 😛

    But yeah that doesn’t mean I’m gonna excuse her. 😛 She deserves the Dark Forest.

    One, Hollyleaf messed up, yes, but she got into StarClan for feeling remorse and trying so hard to make up for everything she had done. Mapleshade, on the other hand, does not. Mapleshade’s sin isn’t quite “loving too much” but the desire for vengeance. (on that note we’re gonna ignore any Ashfur examples cause he’s invalid) She wants to be this way, she wants to hurt other cats, all for revenge.

    Also, I think a lot of people are ignoring that forget Mapleshade deserving to go to StarClan, she doesn’t even want to. She wants to be in the Dark Forest so she can, y’know, //continue hurting cats//. Sounds pretty messed up, and evil to me. At this point it’s not even judging her for actions, it’s judging her for her desires, malicious intentions, etc etc. She’s basically a person who wants to be in cat-hell so she can continue destroying other people’s lives. That sounds pretty deserving of the Dark Forest.

    • Intention and desires and resolution of said things. You opened my eyes right there. Is that what the DF was about this whole time? o.o

  • I like the side comment, it’s so true. I love Mapleshade, and this article is just awesome. She is kind of evil, but if her kits hadn’t died and Appledusk hadn’t been so cruel she never would have killed any cats. I completely blame her “evilness” on Appledusk. Great article!

  • One of key differences that determine whether I sympathize with a character or not, if their problems were self-inflicted. This is why I will empathize with Hollyleaf, as she was a victim, thrown into that situation against her will, only doing her crimes because of others crimes. But why I don’t with cats likes Ashfur or Mapleshade , who put themselves in that scenario.

    Mapleshade is a massive hypocrite, as reasonable, if not more, for her kits’ deaths as any of her victims: Being banished for her crimes/lies and making them swim in dangerous waters. It was Oakstar who choose to exile innocent kits and endanger them and his alone. Ravenwing shouldn’t be blamed for Oakstar’s or Mapleshade’s crimes. He received an omen from Starclan themselves and simply fulfilled his duty as a Medicine cat , interpreted it and told his leader. It’s even apart of the Medicine cat code: “A medicine cat must be able to interpret signs from StarClan.”. He shouldn’t be punished for not being willing to become a liar/traitor himself, just to protect someone from their own crimes. Especially when he’s Thunderclan only Medicine cat, with everyone relying on him to keep them alive. Medicine cat lying have never ended well: Both Yellowfang and Leafpool’s kits were ‘punished by Starclan’ with Brokenstar’s crimes and Jayfeather’s blindness. Also, Hawkfrost faking an omen and manipulating his Medicine cat sister is one of the reasons he’s in the Dark Forest.

    I feel like people have impossible standards for Ravenwing, it’s impossible for him not to either lie/betray or snitch. He has no choice but to choose a side and ‘betray’ the other. Mapleshade was a traitor and danger to the Clan. She could have: Leaked information to Riverclan, Constantly trespassed on enemy territory, etc. All things that could of provoked more attacks from Riverclan, worsening the war and possibly leading to many deaths. Mapleshade could of even attacked/killed a Clanmate herself for all Ravenwing knew.
    And she already doing things like that; by taking herself and her kits so close to the Riverclan border and speaking to Appledusk. It was lucky the Riverclan patrol simply escorted them out and only a Medicine cat witnessed it, it could of easily been taken the wrong way and led to a battle.

    Ravenwing must choice between one traitor+Unknown gamble with their kits or literally everyone else, including other Queens/Kits, Elders and Apprentices. Ravenwing chooses to protect the majority over the individual. Once again, I’d like to reinforce the fact that Ravenwing had no way of knowing Oakstar would exile the kits. Another factor, that I think should offer him some leeway, is the fact he’s young and inexperienced. His mentor, Oatspeckle had died just 4 moons before Ravenwing was sent this omen from Starclan themselves and forced to make this very tricky decision. So Ravenwing thought he could rely on his more experienced leader to make a right decision. Unfortunately, Oakstar just so happened to turn out to be a terrible leader, deciding to punish kits for their parents’ crimes. It the reasonability of the Leader/Judge to be fair with their verdicts, not the accuser.

    Also take note that Ravenwing does stated the kits should be punished or showed signs of supporting it. He took a neutral stance during the whole situation, only focused on getting Mapleshade to admit the truth. It wasn’t his place to advice on Clan Politics without being asked by the leader first, it was up the rest of Thunderclan to decide what they did with the information. He had no way of knowing how the Clan would react, there were many possibilities: Only Mapleshade was banished while the kits were adopted by another Queen, allowed to stay but kept a close eye, etc. The fact the worst case scenario happened was nothing more then bad luck on Ravenwing’s part, that he ended up with a terrible leader and a storm that day.

    This is actually situation Fireheart was in. They were both dealing with: a tom who had, at least tried or succeed, in killing 2 of their clanmates (At the time at least) but was also the father of young kits. Who’s victims were personally connected to the Leader, which may of risked bias in their verdict (Birchface=Oakstar and Redtail/Herself=Bluestar).
    And Ravenwing/Firestar had the choose expose the traitors or not – If they exposed them; it would mean they’d be less of a danger to the Clan and be punished for their crimes however there may be unforeseen consequences for their friends/families. Or leave the traitor unexposed by becoming a liar themselves (Ravenwing/Fireheart), allow the traitor to carry on being a danger to the Clan, but it would it mean nothing could happen to the friends/families.

    The only thing separating Fireheart and Ravenwing, is luck. Fireheart was lucky enough to have a decent leader. If it was another leader, they could of easily lashed out at murderer’s mate and kits. Then we could just have a repeat of Mapleshade, if Goldenflower and Tigerstar’s kits died after they were exiled/left willingly with Tigerclaw, would that justify one of them killing Fireheart later on? As for what happened in the canon, Tigerclaw’s friends and kin’s lives were still deeply affected by Fireheart exposing his crimes: All of them mistrusted/judged by their Clanmates including a Queen/kits, insulted and even yelled at for it, pressuring them to go into exile, which eventually led to Tawnypaw to actually defect to Shadowclan.

  • OMG, Mapleshade is my fave cat! I luv her and its cool that she is the only true female villian! She killed more cats than a lot of others! I think that is probaly what I would’ve done if I was in her place!


  • I LUV MAPLESHADE!!!!!! I think that everythong that she had to go through was unfair. I admire every aspect of her and wish that we knew about her life as an apprentice before Appledusk. I also would love Erin Hunter to make another series ( a lot of series) and make Mapleshade come back oncemore and get closer to killing da Clans then any other cats! I love this article thx for it!!!!!!! I hatteeeeeee Dovewing, just so u know!!!!!

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