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He is a former member of the Branwen Tribe as well as a former teacher at Signal Academy. In his youth, Qrow attended Beacon Academy with his sister and together they were on a team with Summer Rose and Taiyang Xiao Long, known as Team STRQ.
In his official design, he has graying black, spiky hair, dull red eyes, and slight stubble along his jawline. With a red, tattered cloak, he wears a gray dress shirt with a long tail, black dress pants, and black dress shoes.
He also wears a ring on his right index finger, two other rings on his right ring finger, and a necklace with a crooked cross-shaped pendant.
Qrow's bangs are down most of the time, but he sometimes pushes his hair back when fighting. In addition, his hair is made to look like it is composed entirely of feathers.
Qrow is a rude, blunt, cynical, sometimes crass, yet cool-headed and nonchalant individual. He is an alcoholic, as Glynda notes “He’s always drunk!” He openly criticizes the Atlas military for occupying Vale and mistreating Ozpin during the Vytal Festival. Qrow's dislike of Atlas is brazen enough for him to immediately get into a brawl with Winter Schnee upon encountering her and personal enough for him to back down at the last second just for the chance to humiliate Winter in front of James Ironwood. He also shows a level of cockiness when he taunts Winter into attacking him.
Qrow is shown to be tender at heart despite his rough demeanor and cares for both his nieces dearly. He is also very self-conscious about his Semblance to the point self-loathing, aware of its possible impact on people around him, he makes a point to keep his distance from those he cares about. He saved Yang and Ruby from being killed by Grimm when they were very young and later took Ruby under his wing and trained her in scythe-wielding, allowing her to pursue her dreams as a Huntress. "It's Brawl in the Family" and "Lessons Learned" also show that he has remained very close to his nieces and plays the part of the childish uncle.
This childish facade, however, belies the demeanor of a veteran Huntsman. While watching Vytal Festival Tournament matches, he openly expresses displeasure and lack of approval, even as far as calling one a mess. He hinted to his nieces that his time out in the field had hardened him, which made the much safer displays of strength on the broadcast seem tame and benign in comparison. He is very cautious because of that, warning Ruby and Yang to not let their past near-victories against Roman Torchwick and the White Fang go to their heads. Regardless, he has faith in his nieces' potential as Huntresses, encouraging them to continue learning throughout their time at Beacon, saying they will go far after graduating.
In "Family", it is shown that unlike his sister, Qrow despises killing and is upset with Raven for not contacting Yang, especially after she knew her daughter had lost her arm. While both Qrow and Raven attended Beacon to learn how to kill Huntsmen, Qrow’s disgust and anger toward Leonardo Lionheart shows how far he has come. His value for family is strong to the point he suggests that Raven return to help in the fight against Salem, implying he still cared for her despite everything she had done. However, this changes In "The More the Merrier", as after Qrow finds out Raven joined forces with Cinder Fall and set a trap for him and the rest, he claims that he no longer sees her as family.
Despite Qrow's general dislike of authority and rules, he is extremely loyal to and trusting of Ozpin at first. He holds religion in doubt, but he takes Ozpin's word on the previous existence of the brother gods and their Relics. However, when Ozpin's secret history with Salem is revealed, Qrow feels betrayed and worthless. He lashes out both physically and verbally, and he deems meeting Ozpin "the worst luck of his life".
From "So That's How It Is" to "Lost", Qrow suffers from a depressive state, and his alcoholism worsens. He refuses to talk with anyone about his problems and resorts to drinking to numb his pain. It is not until Ruby steps up to him that Qrow starts to snap out of his depression.
Powers and Abilities
- Main article: Harbinger
As mentioned by Ozpin, Qrow is a master scythe wielder, having taught Ruby how to use her scythe. Crescent Rose is confirmed not to be a copy of Harbinger, as Ruby stated that she designed Crescent Rose herself. There are also notable differences. In "Heroes and Monsters", he was shown easily dispatching a Griffon by slicing it in half, demonstrating he has remarkable mastery of his weapon.
In the episode, "It's Brawl in the Family", Harbinger first appears as a longsword, which contains gears near the crossguard area. Like most Huntsman weapons, his blade also contains a gun component. Though as he began to reveal its true form, he stops and retracts it before its transformation is complete. However, the scythe form is later seen in its entirety in "Heroes and Monsters".
Qrow is able to perform a slash with his scythe that is too fast for the eye to see, even when everything is viewed in slow motion. Moreover, during his fight with Winter, Qrow wields Harbinger proficiently with either hand, revealing himself to have trained to be able to use it whether it is in his dominant or weak hand.
Despite his reputation as a frequent alcoholic, Qrow is nevertheless one of the most capable Huntsmen in the series. Qrow is wise enough to be part of Ozpin's inner circle, which includes high-ranking individuals like James Ironwood and Beacon's Glynda Goodwitch.
A testament to his strength and skill is that even while under the influence, he was able to match Winter Schnee, a high ranking Atlas official, in armed combat, easily making a fool of her, despite her status as a highly trained huntress. His skill and power are so great that Mercury Black, a professional assassin who can casually defeat trained 2nd Year Huntsmen-in-Training like Yatsuhashi Daichi and Coco Adel, was seen terrified of his presence and immediately flees on sight.
Even among his peers, Qrow is a greatly feared and formidable Huntsman, with even the likes of James Ironwood and Dr. Arthur Watts being wary of his combat prowess and reluctant to engage him in battle.
Even when disarmed, he simply resorted to fisticuffs to beat Tyrian back with ease, despite the latter's status as one of Salem's most trusted followers showing himself to be proficient in hand-to-hand combat, able to deliver several quick staggering blows and a kick strong enough to put some distance between him and his opponent.
Qrow was also able to track and protect Team RNJR for months without their knowledge, and all the while was battling hordes of Grimm along the way, without much difficulty.
Qrow is strong enough to smash a crater into the ground with his sword, cut through metal poles, as well as release Aura arcs. Qrow has also shown proficient accuracy with Harbinger as a throwing weapon, as seen in his fight with Tyrian when he launched his sword into the ground in mid-fall to act as a foothold to regain traction and control of the battle.
Qrow has been shown to be incredibly resilient and durable, to both toxins and physical force. It took a substantial amount of time for Tyrian's venom to work its way through his bloodstream, even with Qrow drinking alcohol, which would make the venom spread even faster. Also, Qrow was seen taking powerful Dust-enhanced blows from Hazel Rainart, an incredibly strong unarmed fighter capable of fighting off multiple trained huntsmen at once, and yet managed to keep fighting.
In addition to strength and durability, Qrow is shown to be extremely fast and agile, dodging an attack from someone as fast and mobile as Winter Schnee. He was also able to keep up with Tyrian Callows, whose own speed proved difficult for someone as quick as Ruby Rose.
It is stated in "Welcome to Haven" by Lionheart that Qrow is evenly matched with his sister Raven.
As one of Ozpin's closest lieutenants and operatives, Qrow is incredibly skilled at intelligence gathering and espionage, having been known to bear witness to some of Salem's as-of-yet unseen creations, describing them as fear itself. His ability to transform into a bird was given to assist him in this capacity.
Qrow's Semblance brings misfortune wherever he goes, and unlike most Semblances, his is almost constantly active and uncontrollable, with random spikes leading to incidents as small as a glass being knocked onto the floor in "New Challengers..." or as significant as a blocked attack chopping off the corner of a building in "Punished". His Semblance can come to his advantage in a fight, such as when Tyrian Callows falls through an old roof.
His Semblance does not discriminate on who it affects, which causes him to keep his distance from the people he cares about. According to Kerry Shawcross, he can also choose to amplify his Semblance when he wishes, in which case it uses Aura.
In the post-credit scene of "End of the Beginning", Qrow leaps from a cliff-side, and a black bird takes his place. This is the first demonstration of his ability to transform into a crow.
In "Known by its Song", Raven says Ozpin gave Qrow this ability. The exact nature of the ability or how it is granted is unknown except that it is magical in nature.
- Qrow alludes to Munin from Norse mythology, as well as the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. For more information on this allusion as well as other choices the creators made for this character, see Qrow Branwen/Behind the Scenes.
- Branwen is Welsh, meaning "blessed white raven/crow", which corresponds to his first name.
- On November 10th, 2013, a Wikia account registered as Montyoum made an edit to this page to indicate that Qrow's full name was "Qrow Branwen". Similar edits were also made at the time to the Cinder Fall and Remnant pages. As no verification from an official source was provided that this account was linked to Monty Oum, the edits were reverted. Following the release of the Volume 2 episode "Breach", it was revealed that Raven's full name was "Raven Branwen", though Qrow himself would not have his last name confirmed until the Volume 3 episode "New Challengers...".
- The mumbling of the phrase "That's my uncle!" by Ruby is a reference to the Rooster Teeth Animated Adventure, "Left 4 Trek".
- This is referenced again in the episode, "It's Brawl in the Family", when Ruby first notices Qrow and Winter fighting.
- Qrow was first seen in "Burning the Candle", not in a rendered model, but only as stylized artwork.
- Kerry and Miles stated that Qrow was their favorite character to write because it was refreshing to have an adult character who does not take things seriously.
- Many fans speculated that Qrow was secretly Ruby's biological father. Miles Luna confirmed, however, that Qrow was not Ruby's father and that she just idolizes him a lot to the point where she often mimics his overall style.
- Qrow, at one point, has referred to Oscar Pine as "pipsqueak". This may be an allusion to Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, who was also voiced by Vic Mignogna, and was known to have hated being called that.