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.
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Jasper and Horace, 101 Dalamations
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:
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.
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.