Are Ashfur and Hollyleaf truly comparable? by Mellowix

Mellowix takes a look at Ashfur and Hollyleaf, their differences, and their similarities.

Official art by Owen Richardson

Around the fandom, there may be phrases like “If Ashfur goes to the Dark Forest, so does Hollyleaf”. However, I don’t think this logic is completely sound. It’s not like Hawkfrost and Ashfur, who were they were accomplices for the same crime, yet one got away scott-free while the other didn’t. Despite the fact that Hollyleaf and Ashfur’s crime sprees being connected, they are different and should be treated as such. If they were put through the justice system in real life, they’d have separate trials and separate sentences, because ultimately they did entirely different things. Which this article will break down in detail:


He did in reaction to Squirrelflight simply wanting to remain friends and getting creepily obsessed with her. He started a situation when there wasn’t one. Nothing needed to change. He could have continued to be Squirrelflight’s friend, he didn’t lose anything. He still had his home, friends and family. He could’ve got help from literally anyone, even rival cats at Gatherings if he wanted to. His anger didn’t need to be secret, it was entirely self-inflicted.

His murders didn’t even target those directly involved, it’s against innocent cats that had nothing to do with it. His first attempted murder was on his Clan leader, strangling him with a metal wire to lose all his nine lives. That’s one of the most tortuous murder method possible. Secondly, he worked with a well-known Riverclan troublemaker, tricking his own apprentice as scapegoat, Birchpaw and tried to frame Blackstar. By involving rival Clan cats, it could have started wars with Riverclan, Shadowclan or both.

After literal years, Ashfur violently attacked his other apprentice, causing deep wounds. Then tried to burn three cats alive, including said apprentice and blind Medicine cat, while keeping their injured ‘mother’ prisoner to watch. Like Firestar, he uses another horrific murder method of burning his victims alive.

When he decides to tell the secret, he didn’t care he could destabilise Thunderclan in front of the gathering. He was warned 4 separate times not to, even if it was directly after a four Clan battle. Even giving Jayfeather a second death threat for warning him. He stated it was intention to get Squirrelflight exiled, so he was purposefully going to make the reaction worse . He did nothing to redeem himself. He also felt no regret for his actions, even in Starclan, looking at Jayfeather with ‘burning eyes’ clearly still bitter.


Her crimes were in reaction to other cats’ crimes. She wouldn’t have done it if she didn’t start out as an innocent victim being unwillingly dragged into other cats’ dangerous messes. Everything happened to her in less than a month, a very short time span, literal life and death situations at certain points. Multiple life-changing reveals happening one after the other relentlessly: Ashfur revealed as her family’s mass murderer, Squirrelflight pretended to not care if she died momentarily, Squirrelflight reveals she lied about her birth, Brambleclaw was tricked, her birth was an illegal scandal, her aunt/mentor was her mother, Crowfeather disowned her and Sol had returned. Hollyleaf was having a genuine mental breakdown. Unlike Ashfur, who had no external forces pressuring him into his crimes, a self-inflicted extremely petty motive and literal years to stop himself.

She murdered the cat; who’d literally tried to burn her and littermates in a fire while their ‘mother’ watched a few days previously. That same cat admitted he worked with a Riverclan cat to murder their grandfather and was planning on ruining her entire kin’s lives, despite being warned 4 times, once by Hollyleaf herself. Ashfur even threatened to snap Jayfeather’s neck during his conversation. He was a mass murderer and blackmailer at large. There was no reason he couldn’t kill another victim – Hollyleaf shouldn’t need to sit and wait for that to happen. Exposing his crimes would have acted as his trigger to another killing. The killing rule for the Warrior Code says there’s two exceptions, which can both apply to Ashfur: Self-defence and Outside of the code. I don’t consider it much different from Hawkfrost’s or Darkstripe’s deaths.

When she revealed the secret, it was under a different context. Ashfur solely knew about Squirrelflight wasn’t the mother of the three, therefore wasn’t a concern of the other Clans, so has no business leaking it at a Gathering. It was his intention to get Squirrelflight exiled, so he’d purposefully make it worse. However, Hollyleaf did no such thing – She solely told the secret, but never intentionally made the public reaction worse.

The context had changed by the time Hollyeaf had told it. She uncovered a whole Medicine cat and Half-Clan scandal – It involved Windclan, so they had the right know at the Gathering, Specially since Crowfeather had a Windclan son and mate he was lying to. Weeks before then, Crowfeather had been informed of his Thunderclan kits, but immediately denied it and disowned them. If he was unwilling to confess his guilt, someone else had to expose him. Then, Leafpool held authority as a Medicine cat, yet she was lying to all the Clans – They couldn’t trust her not to abuse her power.

Unlike, Ashfur, Leafpool’s attampted murder couldn’t be considered self-defence. However, it still needs to be acknowledged that Leafpool is not innocent and Hollyleaf is directly her victim, lying to her about her own birth. That needs to give her leeway in some way. A detail that is rarely addressed in the fandom, is the fact Hollyleaf and Jayfeather had a shuffle when she tried escaping from the den. I wouldn’t call this a full-blown “attack”. By that point, she’d given into panic and Jayfeather was blocking her path, not moving when Hollyleaf called him to: She shoved him away, both flailing as they collapsed on the floor before she immediately jumped away.

Then if we just compare the methods of Ashfur and Hollyleaf of murders, you’ll see a large difference. Ashfur’s were torturous like slow strangling and burning alive, even forcing others to watch. While Hollyleaf always kept hers private and quick; Ashfur was a single bite, she could’ve chosen to extend his suffering, but didn’t. Then deathberries are literally used by Medicine cats to save patients a slow death. There’s finally the simple facts: Ashfur had two more victims than Hollyleaf, and all of them were disconnected from the situation he was “avenging”.

Some claim Hollyleaf ran away, but I call it self-exile. She didn’t choose to do it in the first place: She was too panicked to make a proper choice, but she never got the chance to calm down since the tunnel collapsed on her. She had no control of that. She needed time to physically and mentally recover, and by the time she was healthy, it was too late, her clanmates already assumed she was dead.

She was having a dangerous breakdown, literally causing her to hurt those around her. Would it really be a good idea for her to stay in Thunderclan, where her stress could cause her to lash out again? It would’ve been selfish to stay in Thunderclan, knowing she was capable of killing again. She needed to isolate herself for her own and others safety. That’s how it works in real life, dangerous people are either locked up either in prison or mental hospitals.

If her Clanmates discovered what she’d done, Firestar would’ve exiled her. Yes, from a purely moral standpoint, standing trial would’ve been the most honourable action. Though I’d argue self-exile is a close second on the moral basis. Though additionally, there’s the practical side: If Hollyleaf returned, making her family go through an emotional reunion, to immediately reveal she’s a killer and get exiled again – It would be pointless and rather insensitive to her family. Because of this, I think self-exile is the best option. For sake of keeping down emotional pain and safety, quietly sneaking away was probably the better option.

Either way, she would have ended up leaving anyway. Thunderclan never especially ‘needed’ her anyway, she was an average warrior. She wasn’t a part of a prophecy, a leader, mother of young kits, etc. she didn’t have any specific responsibilities that couldn’t be done by almost anyone else in the Clan. She thought she could better serve her Clan as a silent guardian, rather than troublemaking Hollyleaf.

Hollyleaf feels incredibly guilty about his actions, recognising what she did was wrong, thinking she didn’t deserve her place in Thunderclan . She redeemed herself by: Saving two apprentices, leading four cats safely out of the tunnels, being a surrogate mother to a fox cub, gathering herbs, and preparing Thunderclan for Windclan’s tunnel attack. After she saved Ivypool and Dovewing, she was about to return to the tunnels, despite already being in self-exile for 18 moons. Hollyleaf was prepared to be self-exile even longer, then a whole generation became adults. Lionblaze was the one who forced her to return.

When Hollyleaf’s clanmates started to suspect her involvement with Ashfur’s death, she was in the process of confessing everything She’d already explained Ashfur’s crimes and taken responsibility for his death. However, Brambleclaw forced his cover-up onto her, as he interrupted Hollyleaf’s sentence, hiding some details for her, risking his reputation/position to protect her. He was willing to do that, even after discovering she wasn’t his biological daughter. She doesn’t mortally approve of his actions, but she still allows it to honour his sacrifice.

There’s less to defend about Hollyleaf not confessing her attempted poisoning of Leafpool; as that’s objectively wrong, Leafpool wasn’t an active murderer like Ashfur. However, at the same time, her mother greeted her warmly on her daughter’s return. Leafpool despite being the victim, had no intention of reporting what had happened – So Hollyleaf was most likely respecting her mother’s wishes and redeeming herself another way, then immediately being officially exiled.

Hollyleaf then spares Sol’s life despite everything he did, showing she learnt from her past. Then bore no ill-will towards Dovewing “replacing her” and sacrificed herself to save Ivypool, someone she hardly knew. Finally, she forgave Leafpool for what she did to her.

A lot of Hollyleaf’s situation was forced upon her: She didn’t choose to be in a Half-Clan scandal. She didn’t choose to be lied to. She didn’t choose to be under threat from a mass murderer. She didn’t choose to be disowned by her birth father. She didn’t choose to have everyone assumed she’d died in an accident. She didn’t choose to be taken prisoner by Lionblaze. She didn’t choose for Brambleclaw to interrupt her mid-confessional and cover details for her.

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  • Ashfur and Hollyleaf aren’t comparable, but I disagree about some of your points about defending Hollyleaf.

    Hollyleaf didn’t need to kill Ashfur, but I get why she did it, and I won’t hang onto that. But Hollyleaf revealing the truth at the Gathering? It’s strange. She killed Ashfur because she didn’t want the secret to be revealed. But when she learns she’s half-Clan, she immediately does.

    The Clans don’t have to know. It’s not their business. Maybe ThunderClan, but the other Clans don’t have business about drama in ThunderClan. It’s their problem.

    While Hollyleaf may be Leafpool’s ‘victim’, it doesn’t justify her attempted murder of Leafpool in any way. I know Jayfeather and Lionblaze aren’t Hollyleaf. I know Mistyfoot and Stonefur aren’t Hollyleaf. But only Hollyleaf responded in that horrible way about her true parentage. While deathberries are used to kill patients to save pain, that wasn’t introduced yet, and Hollyleaf didn’t think about saving Leafpool’s pain. She just used the killing method near her.

    Just because Hollyleaf’s methods are less torturous doesn’t mean she’s nicer, or better than Ashfur.

    About her running away, I believe she ran away. She was extremely hypocritical in the first place, about the warrior code and many things. It’s stated in the books Hollyleaf couldn’t stand being watched at anymore, even though she’s the one who made all this happen. She runs away into the tunnels, in search of new life. She wasn’t looking for self-exile. She wanted to escape this life, a life she made more terrible by revealing truths, leaving her brothers, who had nothing to do with her doing, to face the consequences themselves.

    Hollyleaf let Brambleclaw defend her. For her arc to be completed, she should acknowledge what she had done and face the consequences for it, what she should’ve done before. But, in my perspective, she cowardly hides from the truth.

    • I partly agree. I see the attempted murder of Leafpool as worse than it was showed in the text, and running away was partly a cowardly act, though I think she also knew there’s no place for her after all her actions.

      Meanwhile, I will argue with “She killed Ashfur so he would be silent and then she ran to reveal the secret?” forever.
      Ashfur wanted to reveal the secret for his personal goals. He had nothing to do with the secret, and the only reason why he would reveal it was to get revenge on Squirrelflight and her ‘children’. What this means? A lot of manipulation, twisting the thruth, spreading lies about Squirrelflight and literally propaganda. I doubt Hollyleaf would even feel safe in her own Clan after all.
      Hollyleaf on the other hand only told the Clans because she was angry and frustrated. Suddenly all her life was shattered and she just exploded. She did wrong, RiverClan and ShadowClan didn’t need to know and cats will only be humiliated, but at least she was honest. If she called someone out, it was because she was angry and not because she had a certain goal.

      Summing this up? Just like Mellowix says, Hollyleaf was better than Ashfur, because she did wrong when her life turned upside down. Meanwhile Ashfur did because a girl didn’t want to date him and he tried to get ‘revenge’. His life was still pretty normal, and just his obsession led to crimes.

      • You said Hollyleaf revealed the secret because she was angry and frustrated. But Jayfeather and Lionblaze were in her same situation, but she handled it totally differently. She didn’t confide in her brothers; instead she chose to humiliate and disgrace many cats.

        I agree with you that Hollyleaf is better than Ashfur. Her reasons were better than Ashfur’s, but I don’t think they’re good, either.

        • Yes. I agree she shall not tell it, but I’m comparing her revealing the secret to Ashfur revealing the secret, not defending her. The thing is while she shouldn’t say it either, her and him decided to tell it because of separate reasons – Hollyleaf acted out of emotions which she expressed in an unhealthy way, and Ashfur out of his will to hurt and humiliate a certain cat. Hollyleaf was driven by not-so-great, of course not-so-great is a delicate term, feelings, while Ashfur intended to do this as a way of cold revenge, and this is why they should not really be compared when it comes to revealing.

          But yeah, not saying she had the right to do all those things just because she had better reasons, still she was a lot better than Ashfur Le Incel, and this is mostly about them compared to one another

  • I like Leafpool, but she is not innocent.
    First I hate Hollyleaf for almost killing her biological mother.
    But now um, I don’t care about her anymore.
    However, Hollyleaf is too obsessed with the warrior code.

    And if you want to blame a cat for that, blame the Erins!!!

    • I agree! Hollyleaf was a bad cat. I don’t think that she was completely evil, or completely good. She was a morally gray character. I personally wish she would have gone insane in the tunnels, and tried to secretly kill Dovewing to reclaim her place. I think that she should have the mentality that the warrior doesnt carry any weight. She watched everyone around her break it, and we all know that Hollyleaf was a bit overboard about the Warrior code. Also Hollyleaf is a hypocrite, she blames her mother for having a mate outside the clan. Then she murders her clanmate, an act that is ten times worse than having kids outside ur clan. It doesn’t matter wether Ashfur deserved it or not. This is about Hollyleaf, not Ashfur. I don’t think u should turn an argument to Ashfur deserving it, because yes, he did, but also this does not erase her hypocrisy. Don’t get me wrong i really like Hollyleaf. but i would have like to see her descent into madness.

  • Hey Mellowix can you please do a article about defending Millie? Thanks.

      • Same here! Hollyleaf is one of my favs and I hate how people compare here to ashfur. (But I love this article cause It explains how they aren’t the same) When people find out that I love Hollyleaf some of them are like “she killed ashfur”. But.. I don’t care lol. I’m glad she did. I hate ashfur. Nobody cares about how she killed ashfur, in fact she did me a favour and I’m glad ashfur is dead. (Well.. sort of cause then the broken code happened)

  • Great article! I agree with you so much! I absolutely love Hollyleaf, and I think that after The Broken Code, Ashfur is pretty much irredeemable.

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