[a design of Thistleclaw stalking across the ground]

Degregation of a Psyche: How and Why Thistleclaw Ended Up in the Dark Forest by Snowpuff

Snowpuff analyzes Thistleclaw’s actions.

Art by Warrior-Junkie

It was a common argumentation in the Warriors Fandom, and still is. “Did Thistleclaw really deserve to go to the Dark Forest?” is met with 4 different answers. 1, people say that he deserved to go to Starclan for never ending a single life. 2, people aggressively demand that he was evil, and deserved to go to the dark forest. There are those that take a purely neutral stance. And there are those who noticed the slow degredation of Thistleclaw’s psyche. Now, let’s start with why Thistleclaw may have ended up in the Dark Forest.

Every villain has to start somewhere. In Thistleclaw’s case, he was born to Poppydawn and Windflight. I doubt that he was evil as a kit, but his degredation does start here. He was always described as agressive. A concerning sign, that would later come to be true. Poppydawn as a mother appeared to be decent enough, same with Windflight, and his siblings were quite attentive and loyal to him, as shown when he got in trouble with Smallear and he was forced to stay behind, to which his siblings stayed behind too. She did care for him, and also scolded him when he would describe what he would do to a Windclan warrior with prey. His concerning behavior started young, but it wasn’t to any fault of his family.

He was apprenticed to Adderfang. Adderfang was always a decent mentor. He attempted to keep his apprentice in check, as shown in Bluestar’s Prophecy. However, Adderfang wasn’t perfect. He did make some major mistakes, like letting Thrushpaw at the time guard the prey despite his mistakes, and allowing him to be just a bit too impulsive. Despite Adderfang’s flaws, I do believe that he may have been a saving grace. If Thistleclaw just listened to him, and learned to control his temper. This was the first and most crucial moment that might have allowed Thistleclaw to go to Starclan.

When Thistleclaw was a warrior, he was still arrogant, bellicose, and rabid. Although brave, he still was too hungry for a fight. Even in this state, however, he had multiple spots to change. The first was when he became mates with Snowfur. Snowfur was sweet, gentle, and Thistleclaw genuinely loved her deeply. This was a chance for him to change, yet he didn’t. Same when his son was born, but he did more harm than good as Goosefeather fortold. He also reacted recklessly with his son, encouraging Spottedpaw to practice a forbidden attack move on Whitepaw. 2 chances at change, but none taken. There was another chance, however, which he contorted into what likely caused his degredation the most: becoming a mentor to Tigerpaw.

Thistleclaw’s twisted mentorship of Tigerpaw is deserving of his own paragraph, but, that happens later after yet 3 more choices that may have saved his life. Both of them are regarding with Spottedpaw. I won’t go too much into detail because it’s a sensitive topic. Although I hate the couple, it would possibly save him, so I am forced to mention it as an option. There was also another choice regarding Spottedpaw and Thistleclaw that might have saved him, which was Spottedpaw making him choose between her and the Dark Forest. Him choosing Spottedpaw may have saved him. But it didn’t. He still chose to kill the tabby she-cat spirit. While he was still a warrior. Ending a life likely boosted his already troubled history, and likely was what boosted his chances of going to the Dark Forest. Overall, I am glad Spottedpaw became a medicine cat, but like stated above, I am forced to mention that whole disaster because of the fact that 3 different chances were given to save Thistleclaw.

At this point, the whole fiasco with Spottedpaw landed him as an evil character, her even becoming a medicine cat to escape him. But, he had one last chance at redeeming himself, had he been a decent mentor to Tigerpaw. Tigerpaw, also ambitious and crude, sucked up Thistleclaw’s lessons. However, had Thistleclaw remembered what his mother or Adderfang did for him and his dicipline and even did a fraction of what they did for him, perhaps he and Tigerpaw would have avoided the fate of the Dark Forest. Maybe, if he had just been a decent mentor, he would have gone to Starclan despite his previous actions, including beating up multiple kittypets. One of his most overlooked actions, however, was ordering Tigerpaw to attack Tiny, which traumatized him and ended up killing both Tigerstar later on, but Scourge as well, after Tiny became him. 2 lives ruined because he decided to attack a kittypet kit.

In my opinion, I do not believe Thistleclaw was born evil. As a kit, he may have been prevented had he been further disiplined. Similar case as an apprentice. As a warrior, he could have changed multiple times. He still could have redeemed himself. Was made him evil was his ego he couldn’t swallow, and the ambitious thirst for leadership he felt. Even after he was considered evil, he still could have redeemed himself via Spottedpaw or his mentorship to Tigerpaw.

But, it was no use. By this point, Thistleclaw was out of chances. He was killed the same way he lived, trying to fight his way to victory. Now, it could be argued that because he was down the wrong path of evil, there was no way for him to have been redeemed. However, Blackstar did awful actions as well, but was able to redeem himself and earn himself a spot in Starclan. Thistleclaw just refused to accept the many chances given to him. He went to the Dark Forest because his actions consumed him, and he did nothing for making it right. Some chances he contorted. As thus, he allowed himself to fall. He went to the Dark Forest, because he put himself there.

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