Top 20 Coolest Disney Characters of All Time
Before I even begin writing this list, I need to be perfectly clear. This is a listing of MY top twenty Disney characters that I’ve always thought were just stinkin’ cool. Cool is a subjective term. You’ll notice Mickey Mouse is not on my list. Some would consider that sacrilegious. I like Mickey. Who doesn’t like Mickey. But he’s not on my top twenty list of the COOLEST Disney characters. (And I feel no obligation to put him or any other “classic” character there as a “tip of the hat” gesture.) Also, I’ve limited my list to ANIMATED films. (Yes, even digitally animated films.) I make no apologies for my list, and I stand by my decisions. You are welcome to argue them.
20. DORY (From “Finding Nemo”)
Dory is back on the list, because a reader of this blog was so kind to remind me that “Kung Fu Panda” is actually a Dreamwork movie, not Disney…which subsequently knocked Po out of the running. So, Dory is here and after thinking about it for a while….rightly so! What a fun character! Ellen Degeneres brings this hilarious Blue Tag fish to life and audience were delighted. She’s crazy, forgetful, enthusiastic, and sensative. (Sounds like my yearly evaluation with the principal at my school!) Anyway…congrats Dory for finding your way onto the list. Just keep swimming…just keep swimming!
19. PONGO (From “101 Dalmatians”)
Let’s face it…of all the ANIMAL Disney heroes, he’s by far the slickest. He’s cool, collected, loyal, and above all he loves his family. He goes to great lengths (even putting himself in the line of fire) to save those he cares about. He’s not an arrogant leader either. Even though he’s the reason why everyone went out and got Dalmatian puppies, thus giving puppy mills a booster shot, we won’t hold that against him.
18. MALEFICENT (From “Sleeping Beauty”)
Can we be perfectly honest with one another for a second, without hurting any feelings? Okay. “Sleeping Beauty” is not a cinematic masterpiece. It’s weak in character development and sub-plot structure. I’d even go as far to say that Princess Aurora (who has the most difficult name to pronounce of all of the Disney princesses…especially if you’re of Asian heritage) is kinda bland in comparison to her nemesis. I’ll even go on record saying that I’ve always found Maleficent a smidge attractive. (It’s the high collar, assertiveness and green skin. Love green skin for some reason.) My little Lima bean queen is just a fierce villain. That’s all there is to it. The topper is that she turns into a freakin’ dragon…a cool one too! Aurora spends half the movie frolicking in the woods bare foot….and who does she get with in the end? Mighty Prince Phillip. (Who comes up with these names!!!)
17. GASTON & LAFOU (From “Beauty and the Beast”)
I don’t mean to lump these two together, and it’s kinda my sneaky way of getting more characters into the countdown…but I do think that as far as great comedic teams are concerned, they’re on the best. Gaston is a strong, arrogant, studly beefcake and LeFou is his bumbling side-kick. Before they say a word you can’t wait to see what happens based on that description! I also like the collective journey these two take throughout the story. I would argue that Gaston has a wildly evil moment with the Beast at the end and reaches his fatal demise in a gruesome way. (In comparison to others. I mean, even Capt. Hook disappears still struggling with the crocodile…so we’re left hanging.) They’re drawn very well…and these two you can totally connect with. You can probably think right now about someone you know who is EXACTLY like Gaston or LeFou, am I right? (Shout out to Evan Litt who played LeFou opposite of my Gaston this year.)
16. IAGO (From “Aladdin”)
Iago is one of those annoying characters that you love to hate. Every great villain needs a side-kick or an on-looker. Iago’s contributions to Jafar’s dark side is what makes Jafar an effective character. Disney has to be careful. Can’t be too scary (something that happened in “Hunchback” in my opinion) and you can’t be too campy (something that happened in “Robin Hood.”) So, you sandwich the two together, then spin away the silly stuff in the end of the film, and you’ve got an effective bad guy. Add to the fact that Gilbert Godfrey voices the bird, and you have a brilliant comedic Disney cocktail…or rather…cockatoo, tail!
15. BALOO (From “The Jungle Book”)
Baloo is very much like John Goodman, if you ask me. I didn’t care much for ROSEANNE, but I find myself watching reruns of the show simply because John Goodman, and that chick who plays Roseanne’s sister….they’re so funny! Baloo is that friendly, funny, kinda dum-dee-dum type of character that is just fun to watch. I suppose it helps that Mowgli is just flat out annoying, and I could never STAND that character…but still. I have a soft spot for Baloo.
14. EDNA E. MODE (From “The Incredibles)
Edna is simply a fantastic character. First of all…”The Incredibles” is brilliant. That being said, this quirky, uppity, little tribute to Alfred from Batman and Q from James Bond MAKES the movie. She is feisty, slick, smart and resourceful. She’s got a great voice and the deadpan delivery kept me in stitches and burdened me throughout my weekend as I tried again and again, in vein, to mimick it. That, and the character is intimidating. Love it. Before we move on, real quick…any one else think she’s is the spitting image of Project Runway’s Christian?
13. CRUELLA DEVILLE (From “101 Dalmations”)
Alright…let’s talk about Cruella Deville. I know she get a bad rap, but let’s face it. She’s awesome. She’s been around forever and didn’t necessarily come from the best family situation. To step away from her other brothers like that and pursue a solo music career is very ambitious. Her recording career has become infamous and some of the most influential work in the music industry, period. I mean, when she released “Beat It,” “Billy Jean,” “Thriller” and dozens of other number one singles….I mean, she set the standard in……what? *Pause* She’s not…what? *Pause* You mean, she didn’t…..hmmmm. Are you sure? That wasn’t her dangling the baby from the balcony? Really! *Soft Whispering Heard* What’s that? You have proof? Let me see.
12. AM and SI (The Siamese Cats from “The Lady and the Tramp”)
The Siamese Cat song is just plain creepy. I love these two little devils and the way they are presented in animation…it’s so deliciously accurate. Siamese Cats are so much like these two, it’s not even funny. They’re crafty, they’re fun…and they stick out in my mind as being a part of one the neatest Disney movie moments ever.
11. ARCHIMEDES (The Owl from “THE SWORD AND THE STONE”)
This funny, snippy Owl is the best part of this under-appreciated Disney classic. Merlin would be on my list, but they ended up making him really goofy in the end. Kinda upsetting. But Archimedes is a wry, sourpuss, and who doesn’t love a sour-puss? Half the country is days away from voting for one! (That was a dig, I know. I’ll even it out. Ummm. Hmmm. The other one has big ears. There.) I watch “The Sword and the Stone” specifically because of Archimedes. (Who was voiced beautifully by Junius Matthews.)
10. SIR HISS (From “Robin Hood”)
Sir Hiss, that silly serpent was the best part of Robin Hood. (A movie is affectionately refer to as “a mess.”) Disney could have done SO much more with this movie. It’s a classic tale with limit-less possibilities. We could have had a classic tale with amazing heroes and crazy bad villains. Instead we have wussy bad guy, a unlikable fox Maid Marion…and the best character is a stinkin’ after-thought side-kick. Well, I’m glad they developed Hiss…of all of the Disney snakes…he’s the besssssssst. The only other good thing to come from this movie was a seriously sped-up track of the chorus to “Robin Hood and Little John” that is directly associated with the techno Hampster Dance. I’m dead serious when I say that someone is making a living off of the Hampster Dance. God Bless America.
9. TIMON & PUMBA (From “The Lion King”)
Timon and Pumba are the Batman and Robin of Disney characters. Probably the best duo in the history of Disney. Amazing vocal performances, hilarious and memorable musical numbers, carefree yet caring characters that grabbed audiences from the beginning and haven’t let loose yet. I mean, c’mon…how many of you have been to the zoo lately? A million bucks says you looked at the meerkats and said “Look, it’s Timon!” Everybody has!
8. SCAR (From “The Lion King”)
By law, Jeremy Irons should have to voice every animated villain until he dies. What an amazing vocal performance. He’s scary and delightfully evil. The movement and animation on this film is first-rate, and the scenes with the hyenas during “Be Prepared”….I would have to say that it’s one of the finest animated villain songs ever. Add to the fact that he’s basically a simple lion with a slight deformation, and you’ve got an unsuspecting, haunting monster waiting to pounce! Good times.
7. KRONK (From the “Emperor’s New Groove”)
Kronk is voiced by Patrick Warburton. He’s awesome. He starred in the live action version of the cartoon “TICK.” (It was very short-lived.) He also was Elaine’s boyfriend in Seinfeld. He’s very good at playing the clueless character…or the under appreciated character….or the likable dummy. In “Emperor’s New Groove,” a comedic master-piece in its own right (and by FAR David Spade’s best movie) he’s the mountainous side-kick to the completely unlikable (for the wrong reasons) Ertha Kitt villain. (I can’t even remember her name. Who cares, really.) If you never have seen this movie…go out and buy it now. If only for this brilliant secondary character. He’s genius.
6. CAPTAIN HOOK (From “Peter Pan”)
Captain Hook is an icon. He can easily be ranked in the Top 20 villains of all time list, if you asked me. He’s a pirate, which earns him bonus points right off…..he’s got a hook for an appendage, he’s scared of crocodiles, and the ticking of an alarm clock inside the belly of the always-pursuing beast keeps him constantly at bay. Dang…before you even tell the story you have bunches to work with there! Peter Pan has always been some sort of an enigma to me. I always found myself relating to Hook in the story. I mean…the kid is a brat! Hook is just trying to do his job….pillage, plunder, murder and steal. (Normal, everyday piratey things to do, right?) But this flying, jolly, green pixie is always up in his grill messin’ wit his bizznass. Homeboy askin’ for some hook….if you asked me. BANGARANG!
5. FLOWER (From “Bambi”)
Flower may come across as a bit namby-pamby at first…but when you talk about innocence incarnate, Flower is one of the sweetest Disney characters ever. And how genius is it that Flower is a skunk? Nobody said Disney wasn’t clever. Bambi is one of those doe-eyed movies of yesteryear that people long associate with this old-school was of thinking and doing. Usually, people regard them with a long-distance sentiment that seperates them from anything even remotely produced today. I argue that if it wasn’t for movies like Bambi and characters like Flower, we would have no basis for comparison for today heroes, victims and villains. Love him, or hate him…the skunk is a pioneer. But you can call him Flower if you want to.
4. LUMIERE (From “Beauty and the Beast”)
Lumiere is Disney’s finest front man. The fact that he’s French helps, I think, because it puts a romantic, slightly goofy (but only because the French take themselves so seriously) sort of machismo about him. But on top of that, he’s a showman with grace, manners and sentiment. Plus, he’s on fire…which adds an element of danger. What do you have…a premiere Disney character that some may argue is Disney’s #1 most charming character ever. Voiced by the brilliant (God rest his soul) Jerry Orbach, he is every musical theatre major’s dream role. (Tip of the hat to Steve Huntsman.)
3. GENIE (From “Aladdin”)
The Genie in Aladdin is what brought audiences back to loving Disney movies again. Stay with me. There is an old-school Disney following. You know the group…those who think that Cinderella and Snow White look so innocent and pure (and not like expressionless, carbon copies of the last Disney damsel.) They are the ones that LOVE the simplicity of the grainy animation process, and scoff digital animation. Then there are those who are all about digital, and can’t imagine why anyone would ever even watch “The Three Caballeros.” Genie, is the bridge between the two and the character has been constructed effortlessly by Robin Williams who by and large I consider a genius. The fast-paced approach to this wide-open opportunity of a character really set the bar for Disney films to come and was simply a dream come true.
2. BELLE (From “Beauty and the Beast”)
Note that this is the only Disney Princess on my list. That’s because all of the others stink. (This is with all due respect to my friend Sierra Boggess who is playing Ariel in “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway. Love ya Sierra!) Where was I….oh, that’s right, “You heard me! Stinky poo!” None of them are role models. Tonight is Halloween, and hundreds of little girls are waiving magic wands and flouncing around in their princess dresses. Belle on the other hand isn’t even a princess by choice. She wants adventure…she wants to get away! All of the other princesses wants to be coddled by a big strong prince. Boo, boo, boo. “No mommy! I wanna be a fairy princess!”
Okay, let’s go there for a minute (frankly because my wife is giving me grief for putting Belle so high on the list.) What IS a fairy princess? Answer me that? Is it a princess with wings? Is it a small, flying pixie? (A pocket-sized princess, if you will?) Why in the world do girls want to emulate these characters so badly? (“Because they want to look pretty!”) Well…God forbid we start nurturing them with daily love and support so that they might build up self-esteem. (“Because they want to be magical.”) I don’t see anyone dressing up like David Copperfield. (“Because they like the color pink.”) Go trick-or-treating as a bottle of Pepto.
That’s always bugged me. Fairy Princesses. Sheesh. Did you know Disney has made over $5 billion dollars on the Disney Princess brand since 1998. FIVE BILLION. That’s a lot of plastic wands. I sincerely hope that the little girls of the world are granting wishes left and right tonight, because when they grow up and find out that life doesn’t always offer that Disney happy ending…they will have to dig down and reach for something inside to get them through. No plastic tiara or yellow dress will help them out.
With that said, Belle is Disney’s strongest princess. She is a dreamer, an odd-duck…but she doesn’t take crap from anyone. She sacrifices herself for her father…she’s kind and nurturing…and she reads! (Novel idea in this day and age.) And while I’m not saying that Belle is the reason for the boost in Twilight book sales, I will say that she’s not the type of heroine that stands by waiting for someone to rescue her. She takes charge and creates her own destiny. I love that about this character. All of the other princess can’t even match up. (Side Note: My favorite Belle is Kari Curletto, who I have the pleasure sharing the stage with in Signature Production’s Beauty and the Beast.)
1. THE CHESHIRE CAT (From “Alice in Wonderland”)
Here he is folks…my number one pick for COOLEST Disney Characters of All Time! I can’t imagine anyone arguing with me that the Cheshire Cat isn’t cool. First of all he’s crazy. Crazy is WAY cool. Secondly, he’s striped and purple. Cool. He’s a cat. Cool. He detaches his head and can disappear. Way cool. And, we never REALLY know if he’s a good guy or merely a prankster. So, he’s mysterious. That’s cool. All the while, keeping a big ol’ grin on his face. Love it.
DISNEY CHARACTERS THAT JUST MISSED BEING ON THE TOP 20 LIST:
- GOOFY (Love the dude…simply because of that “wah-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoy!” noise he makes when he falls.)
- CHEF LOUIS and SABASTIAN (From “Little Mermaid”) Little Mermaid represent!
- APU (From “Aladdin”) I took him down a few notches. He kept throwing his own poo.
- URSULA (From “Little Mermaid”) Dang! Another one from Little Mermaid. Shoot. What should we do with all of these Little Mermaid characters that didn’t make it on my “Coolest” list?? I know, let’s write them into a Broadway musical!
Hope you found my list enthralling…or at least something to kill a little time with…but with that said, Disney movies (or any movie for that matter) is all about entertainment. I deem a movie “good” if I walk away from it having been entertained. The 20 characters on this list have entertained me again and again. That’s what it’s all about, really. Consistency. Consistency is cool.