Shoutout to Disney Villain Henchmen

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The spotlight’s normally on the Big, Bad Villain, and rightly so. They’re the one the hero fights and fears. They’re the brains behind the operation. But who executes those evil schemes? Few villains do their own dirty work. That’s right, the work falls to the henchmen. The cronies’ competence can range from insta-fail to impressive, though usually they’re a mix of incompetence and comedic relief. The majority of the time, it’s thanks to their mistakes that the hero stands a chance. Only after facing down the assorted henchmen is the protagonist ready for the Boss Battle.

It’s about time the henchman received a bit of appreciation. While I’m not going into a full analysis of each, I’m going to tip my hat to some of my favorites.  They can help us succeed in life even though they’re life success meter might be sitting at zero.

Why else are they relevant to us? Face it: most of us are henchmen of some sort, doing somebody’s dirty work. A rare few may be their own boss or live life on their own terms, but for the rest of us, well… Our masters just call us employees instead of henchmen. Actually, I think I might prefer being called a henchman. At least it sounds intimidating.

Before you jump in to reading, take the Disney villain henchman quiz. See if you’re any of the henchmen below. Post your result in the comments!

You can also check out a full list of Disney villain henchmen in the Disney Wikia.

Onward!


 Lucifer, Cinderella

Lucifer from Cinderella bad cat image

Never trust a smiling cat. Heck, never trust a cat in general. Just go ask Alice…

Lucifer is easy to hate. But remember, he’s just being a cat. He’s trying to do his job of eating thieving vermin. So what if he takes pleasure in a job well done?

Lesson:

Lucifer is a fine example of deriving enjoyment from your job, even if the job is mundane. Catching mice is thankless and none too glamorous, but Lucifer makes it fun – for himself, anyway. It’s all about how you do your job. I’m going to take a page from Human Resources and invoke the sacred name of inspiration in the workplace: Pike Place Fish Market. These mongers are a true show! You can hardly get to the counter due to the people watching fish fly through the air with the greatest of ease. If you’re ever in Seattle, WA, check them out.

HR isn’t going to tell you how to have fun at your job, and neither am I. That’s something you have to figure out on your own. How? Think outside the box. Make new traditions, do things differently but don’t get fired, make new coworker friends. You might change a drudge task into a game, like seeing how much you can mess with a customer’s mind before- Er, sorry, didn’t mean to say that aloud. You get the point though.

Joanna the Goanna, The Rescuers Down Under

Joanna the Goanna, The Rescuers Down Under

This lizard is the model for persistence. She’s also scary-crazy.

Disney has a real knack for creating intimidating henchanimals. They’re usually far more capable and intelligent than the human henchmen. Huh. Shocking.

Joanna was amazing in her persistence. The Rescuers just couldn’t keep a good lizard down. Just when you thought she was out of the picture, bang! Heeere’s Joanna!

She was tough to slide anything past, too. She always kept her eyes open for trouble. Without her, Percival C. McLeach would’ve been far less effective. He relied on her probably more than he would have a human minion.

Lesson:

Keep alert, and not only at work. We do so much on auto pilot. Did you remember driving home today? Making supper? Watching TV? Wake up! Pay attention to opportunities for advantage. Seize them. Do you hear people complaining about something? That’s an opportunity to invent a service/product/etc that solves the problem. See how your friend always likes that one kind of coffee-flavored sugar drink from S’bucks? Get them one next time you go. (Everybody loves it when someone remembers their preferences.)

In the same train of thought, keep alert for people trying to scam you. I spent 15 years in Florida; that gives a person a sixth sense for scam detection. You suspect everybody of trying to pull something over on you. Now, this isn’t paranoia. This is healthy skepticism. Be aware that not everybody is nice. Some people want to use you, as the song goes. Always read the small print before you sign, right?

Diablo (AKA Diavol), Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty - Maleficent - Diaval pet

Crows, ravens, and cats are the stylish villain’s favorite animal companions.

Diablo, or Diavol as he’s called in the magnificent movie Maleficent, is one of the most reliable and competent in the Disney Evil Animal Companions Society. He knows where Aurora lives and acts as a scout for Maleficent. He also adds +10 to Maleficent‘s Fashion and Intimidation skills. It appears he’s a normal crow, but I wonder… After all, he hasn’t changed in 16 years and he knows to target the Good Fairies when they storm the castle.

Maleficent and Diavol Disney Sleeping Beauty

Thanks to Maleficent’s magic, the lowly crow can be anything from a human to a wolf to a dragon.

I like his incarnation in Maleficent. Then again, I love that movie as a whole. In the movie, he cares for Maleficent and for Aurora. He knows what the vengeance is doing to Maleficent, so he tries in his own ways to sway her to a different route. But he is always loyal to her.

Lesson:

If you like your villainous master boss, and you like your job, then you’re blessed. If your job is also carrying you closer to your life’s goals, then you have the tri-fold win. It’s fine to be content with your work. Society encourages us to be discontent, often telling us that the job is the problem. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you have to get other parts of your life straight.
Also remember that the big institutions of the world profit from your discontent. Companies make money when you buy an object that will totally make your life better if you throw money at it! Players in the government create and then leverage discontent to rise to power or depose their opponents. Feeling discontent? Slow down, step back, and try to pinpoint the overarching cause. You decide; don’t let a commercial tell you what will bring meaning to your life.

Iago, Aladdin

Iago Disney Aladdin

This guy was the whole reason I watched the Aladdin TV series

Iago is a fan favorite thanks to his one-liners, snark, and lovely attitude. I still am not sure how he’s a macaw with a Shakespearean name in Arabia. Jafar supposedly bought him at a bazzar? Fine. Why is he so human? Screenwriter Terry Rossio says Jafar put all his emotions into the bird so as not to have to deal with them himself. Feels are so distracting when you’re working dark magic and taking over kingdoms, you know? So I don’t know how much credit/blame to give Iago for his actions. I’m going to settle on calling him a sentient magical creature who can take full credit for his actions.
A major reason Iago is interesting is his change of allegiance. In the TV series, he’s fully on Aladdin’s side. Smart move. Of course, if there’s one thing Iago is, it’s smart.

Lesson:

Sarcasm is always appropriate, not like I’d know or anything. No, no, just kidding. (Or am I?) The real take-away is to know when to shift allegiances. It’s incredibly easy to follow a person, religion, group, party, company, government, etc. mindlessly. People do it all the time! Being a sheep is effortless. Society encourages it, as it allows the power players to push the peons as pawns. Stop it!
Analyze your affiliations. Step back and examine them as if you’re an impartial observer. Is it okay if your party pulls some shady business, but you condemn the other party for the same tricks? Are you following a belief system just because your family told you to? Think for yourself. Free your mind.
I’m not saying you should switch party affiliations, change your religion, and renounce your citizenship while switching from Coke to Pepsi (well okay, maybe I am for the last one). I’m saying be aware of your allegiances and their flaws. You might be surprised what you learn about yourself and others. If you’re surprised enough, then by all means, remedy it. Just remember you and you alone are accountable for your actions.

Jasper and Horace, 101 Dalamations

Cruella De Vil 101 Dalmatians mad at henchmen

Looks like the boss needs some coffee with a dash of Xanax.

I could go on all day with animal sidekicks/henchmen in the Disney-verse, which take the lion’s share (Scar’s?) of the henchmen roles, but I need to give a nod to the humans too.
No question, Jasper and Horace are bumblers. Hold up a minute, though. They did manage to get 99 Dalmatians for Cruella De Vil. They conned their way into the Radcliffe residence and make off with Pongo and Perdita’s pups. Keeping track of 99 puppies isn’t easy, but they managed to succeed until a concerted effort by the heroes freed the pups. They also gave the protags a run for their money escaping.
While the other villains’ schemes involve taking over kingdom or wreaking vengeance, Cruella wanted to kill and skin puppies to make a coat. Jasper and Horace knew this full well. What kind of people do that? They probably considered it just another job, rationalizing it as “just dogs.” Those dogs and the farm animals banded together to defeat Jasper, Horace, and Cruella.

Lesson:

I’m reaching here, I admit, but here it is: don’t harden your heart so people become “just ____.” We do it all the time. Don’t believe me? “They’re just kids.” “They’re just foreigners.” “They’re just yuppies.” “They’re just [a stereotype group that we’re not].” No, they’re not just a social class. They’re people.
Let’s dispense with the whole special snowflake nonsense and even the tired party line about everyone being valuable. If you forget that people don’t fit in a category neatly, you’re at a disadvantage because you’re underestimating them. You’re also underestimating how they can help you. A lot of people don’t have much diversity in their social network. Guess what? People are quite surprising in the range of talents and connections they possess. You never know what a contact can lead to. While they themselves may not be helpful, a person they introduce you to may be very helpful. Networks are critical to success in life. Don’t forget it!

Next time you see a henchman, Disney or otherwise, pay attention to them. They do a lot for the villain, who in turn makes the story possible. No villain, no conflict, no plot. No henchmen, nobody to do the legwork for the evil scheme.

There’s no shame in having henchmen or in being one. Make sure you hire the right henchmen and treat them well. If you’re the minion, choose your evil overlord carefully.

Now for some respect for our honorable mentions:

Sir Hiss, Robin Hood

Brutus and Nero, The Rescuers

Mr. Smee, Peter Pan

Shenzi, Banzai and Ed, The Lion King

Kronk, The Emperors New Groove


What henchman did I get?

You’re Fidget from The Great Mouse Detective!

Terror is your favorite tool. With a set of fearsome fangs and a voice that sounds like you gurgle with gravel, only the bravest of souls dare stand in your way.

 Bonus:

Check out A Definitive Ranking Of The 26 Greatest Disney Henchmen on BuzzFeed


Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments. Perform your own villain assessments with the Villain Matrix. Use the Villain Matrix spreadsheet that comes free when you join the Research Team, where you’ll also get our newsletter with its exclusive updates and content.


Lead researcher at Villainous Life Natures Research. Writer, reader, snarker. Lover of all things Geek and Dark. INTJ.
Read my reports at vlnresearch.com and learn how understanding villains can help you succeed in life.
Find my action-adventure post-apocalypse zombie thriller Wolves of the Apocalypse series at lcchamplin.com.
I write fiction because the characters in my head have too much attitude to stay in my skull, I want to see the world through different eyes, and I want to live life through different souls.

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