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The Top 10 Best Disney Heroes

Updated on February 27, 2012

Heroes Vs. Villains.

In the land of Disney, every hero has their faults, but in the end they find the goodness within themselves to push past adversity and achieve their goals.

The good guys always wins, no matter what they do throughout the movie. And there's always the idea that somehow, someway they learn their lessons in the end and come out a better person for it. Or they’re just so good and pure; things will turn out their way because good always defeats evil. Poor villains, they're usually more memorable and have the best lines, but they never win. Never.

Do You Have What It Takes?

I'll admit that I'm a villains sorta of chick myself, but how can a villain be awesome if there isn't a hero to try to defeat?

Disney creates heroes that are good, but some heroes are better than others. So, what qualities elevate one hero or heroine above the fray? This is the way I narrowed down the field, giving each Disney hero credit for qualities a good hero should have. Let’s break it down.

The hero should have a good moral character and that’s not talking about that last narrative arch right before the end of the movie. That doesn’t mean the hero doesn’t have faults, most do; but, they do have their heart in the right place. Moral Character.

The hero should also be brave. This is pretty standard for Disney animation within the last 35 minutes or so. The task at hand is to show bravery throughout. But, let's be clear here. There is a difference between bravery and stupidity. 'Tis a fine line. Courage.

There is a question of smarts within Disney animated movies. Not all heroes use their brains, so those that do should be applauded. Those that don't...should be laughed at. Smarts.

There was a trend in the earlier years of Disney that the heroes were passive beings that events 'just happened to'. They were helpless because they were women or children and needed to be saved. A hero that needs to be saved is pretty useless. Let's get with the times, folks. Instead, a hero should be proactive and though all heroes find themselves in a spot or two, they don’t wait around waiting for someone else to save the day. Proactive.

As I mentioned before, all heroes find themselves in a predicament or two, or you wouldn’t have much of a movie. The question is, “Do they get themselves into their own trouble?” Are they drama makers or was their predicament out of their hands? Trouble?

There are also those other variable qualities that make a hero stand out above the rest. These are traits that, when added up, help give that hero that cool veneer, that je ne sais quoi, that quality that tips them over the top in awesomeness. This could be things like being a hard worker, being practical or persistence. It really does vary. Wild Card.

Last is about the movie itself. In the end, is the hero the star, the coolest, the most memorable part of the movie? What type of message does the movie send? Was the movie any good? This is very important when even remembering the hero in the first place. It's not the most important thing, but something to consider. Movie.

So, here is my list. Remember, when you read it and the words, "NO WAY", fill your brain, weigh it all out and yell at me after you read the whole thing. :D

Pegasus, Phil and Hercules
Pegasus, Phil and Hercules

10. Hercules (Hercules, 1997)

What would this list be without Hercules, the movie about what it takes to be a hero? What he lacks in smarts, he makes up for in pure ability. He is brave and courageous, two important traits for a hero, but so what? He’s the strongest man in Thebes and jetting towards trouble isn’t that big of a deal when you know you’re going to win.

So, why does he go off and save person after person? To become a hero so that he can become a god. I guess ‘for the betterment of Thebans’ wasn’t a priority. Or maybe it was, because goals for a protagonist in movies change all the time. Eventually, he sees the bigger picture, but is it a little too late?

In the case of Hercules, it’s no wonder he was confused most of the time, since the majority of his troubles was a result of being born. Wow, talk about not fair. How’s this for a Death Match: baby Hercules vs. the will of Hades, ruler of the Underworld? I guess he needed that strength and everything else being the son of a god could muster up.

The movie was a fun watch and it’s always good to see Danny DeVito as the satyr, Phil. Uh, and by see I mean hear, since it’s animated, yeah…that’s what I meant. The movie wasn’t a huge success, but any movie about the good, just and noble qualities of a hero being more important than pure strength is a good thing. And that’s The Gospel Truth.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood
Robin Hood (Most Wanted Edition)
Robin Hood (Most Wanted Edition)

And apparently the DVD is a collector's item. Look at that price!


9. Robin Hood (Robin Hood, 1973)

What’s the worst you can say about a dashing fox that robs from the rich to give to the poor? He’s brave, honest and uses his smarts over and over again to thwart The Phony King of England, Prince John. Most people that remember the movie, remember Prince John sucking his thumb and Sir Hiss, Prince John’s slithering sidekick.

Robin fights for his love, vixen Maid Marian, and protects the poor and defenseless. He’s also a bit of a braggart whose ego gets him into a bind or two. He is, however a smart fox, who figures out a way to save the day and make off with his true love.

He would be higher on the list, but let’s not sugar coat it: he steals. That’s not entirely the greatest message to give, even though his heart was in the right place. The movie is a classic, but, in the end, most people remember Prince John sucking his thumb and Sir Hiss, Prince John’s slithering sidekick with fondness, because those two stole the movie. I mean really, "Mother always did like him best..."

Wendy Darling
Wendy Darling
Peter Pan (Special Edition)
Peter Pan (Special Edition)

Another collector's Edition. Man, I'm in the wrong business.


8. Wendy (Peter Pan, 1953)

Are you wondering why Peter isn’t on the list, but Wendy is? Simply put, Wendy is the film’s protagonist and it is she who is the heroine of the movie, not Peter Pan. Wendy protects her brothers, the Lost Boys and tries to guide them in the right direction when their morals go astray. Peter Pan is the legend and the catalyst for all the fun adventures, but it is Wendy’s story that the audience follows.

Wendy isn’t without fault and shows a bit of vanity, jealousy and a touch of pretentiousness. She is, however brave, facing the pirates and Captain Hook with determination, though in the end she must be saved by the legendary Peter Pan. Booo! But, it is Peter Pan. Yay!

The movie sends a message that is OK to enjoy your youth while you can, but remember that your parents and family are important, including Your Mother and Mine. Now, that’s an awesome message. This classic film, has a produced a line of prequels and merchandise that consistently fatten up the pockets of Disney shareholders. Sadly, that’s not for Wendy, but for one of her antagonists, Tinker Bell.

Your Mother and Mine


7. Mulan (Mulan, 1998)

In this tale, a young girl, Mulan, takes her ill father’s place when he is asked to war against the treacherous Huns. Not only does she commit herself to war for the love of her father, she cross dresses to do it. RuPaul wept a little inside, I’m sure.

Mulan gets herself into some trouble, but that was usually with the help of Mushu, her dragon protector. Not only does she fight for her father’s sake, but also for her country and, yeah, the girl is brave and smart enough to pass off as a boy as well as thwart the invading Huns. Seriously? She fights an army. Talk about girl power. Eat your hearts out Spice Girls.

Too bad this movie didn’t see that Reflection at the box office. It didn’t do as badly as a few others before it, but even rising starlet Christina Aguilera couldn’t produce a hit from the song.

All the pieces were in the right place, but Mulan is often the forgotten girl in the Disney franchise, even though she is the face of the movie. Shame, since fighting for family and country is one of those heroic traits admired across the world.


6. Tiana (The Princess and the Frog)

Tiana is a hard working teen with a goal to own her restaurant one day. It’s not the noblest of causes, but considered the tale is in 1926 and Tiana is a woman, I’ll give it some leeway. She goes to her friend’s costume ball, dresses as a princess and agrees to kiss a frog, Prince Naveen, in exchange for money to help her buy the building for her restaurant. Wha? Exchange money for…sigh. She’s on this list for good reason and believe it or not We’re Almost There

Tiana’s not off to the greatest of starts, but she’s not a girl, or a frog, that takes things laying down…or sitting on a water lily. As an independent, practical, quick thinking girl she is constantly tasked to get her and the frogified Naveen out of one pickle then another. The coolest part of the movie is that it is the Disney Princess that does the saving and not the Prince.

Although her focus is to achieve the goals she and her late father set out for them, she learns that she needs the help of others. Not only that, but it really is OK to fall in love.

My favorite character is Ray, the Cajun Firefly; but let’s face it, Tiana is a Princess and part of Disney’s marketing cash cow. Every little daddy’s little princess has something with her face on it from dresses, lunchboxes, notebooks, camping gear and sledge hammers…well, maybe not sledgehammers, but you get the drift. I guess that’s what can happen when a movie is really that good.

PS: Dr. Facilier is actually the best thing in the movie, but Ray is my favorite on the ‘good guy’ side.


5. Sulley (Monsters, Inc., 2001)

Disney has proven that monsters can be heroes too. Sulley is the big blue monster who scares human kids for a living to keep his city powered. It’s not entirely of the best circumstances, but truth is Sulley is great at his job and does because it helps his city. As far as he knows, little kids are deadly creatures and that shows he has the bravery it takes to enter their realm and try to scare them. Brave, yes; awesome-sauce…not so much.

Eventually, Sulley uses his smarts and figures out those human kids aren’t heat seeking missiles and decides that it isn’t right to scare them for electricity.

Suley tries, again and again to figure out a way to help the little human girl, but eventually finds himself in deeper and deeper trouble. Most of which is of his own making, to the dismay of his best friend, Mike. Most of the big laughs come from the little girl and Mike, but If I Didn’t Have You, Sulley, this movie wouldn’t have a moral center.

Of course he saves the day, but the best part is switching the Scream Floor to the Laugh floor and getting human kids to laugh for his city’s electricity.

Not only is this a really fun, excitement filled movie, Sully is memorable and shows that laughter is truly a powerful thing.

Sulley Takes Boo to the Bathroom


4. Belle (Beauty and the Beast, 1991)

Belle is a beautiful, intelligent girl with a knack for seeing past a person’s (or Beast’s) exterior. That includes seeing beneath a suitor’s, Gaston, handsome exterior to his sexist, vain and brutish interior.

When Belle finds her father’s horse, sans rider, she rides into a dark forest in search of him. When she finds her father, she is confronted by the Beast who agrees to her plea to take her as his prisoner in place of her sick father. Brave girl.

A girl of her word, Belle stays at the Beast’s castle where the furniture walk, talk and pray that she’ll Be Our Guest, so that she and the Beast will fall in love and the curse on the castle will end.

In the end, the Beast is left to the heavy lifting and fights Gaston. It’s kinda hard not to when Gaston is pretty set on hanging his head on a wall.

This was Disney’s first feature film with portions of CGI which was mixed with hand drawn animation. It was a big thing at the time and because of that, the great story, phenomenal music and pure joy that is it, Beauty and the Beast became a huge hit.

When the Disney franchise took off, Belle became one of the ‘it’ girls and now she’s starring in the beloved Princesses' franchise with Tiana and some other ladies who didn’t quite make the list.

Marlin and Dory
Marlin and Dory

3. Marlin (Finding Nemo, 2003)

What does a frightened, overprotective clownfish, Marlin, do when his young son is fishnapped by humans? Find him, of course. Was it his fault? No, his son, Nemo, insisted on touching the butt and put himself in harms way. Sure, Marlin was suffocating him, but there’s never a need to touch the butt. Well, maybe, but I digress…

Marlin doesn’t stop searching deep in the dark water and Beyond the Sea for his son, Nemo, even when confronted by sharks, mines and the adorable, but highly forgetful Dory.

Marlin is a dad that uses his smarts to find his son, but it isn’t until he follows his heart that he really gets to where he’s going. Nice.

This movie is hysterical and Dory, “just keep swimming” is about as contagious as chicken pox. The Sharks with Bruce as their leader have memorable moments because, “Fish are friends, not food”. Or what about the seagulls constantly harping, “mine, mine, mine, mine”. There’s also Crush and, “don’t hurl on the shell, man. I just waxed it.”

What isn’t there? Oh yeah, Marlin. He is the person the audience follows throughout the story, but he’s not the most memorable. Still, a great movie and every memorable scene does have him in it though. In the world of comedy, the straight man often gets overlooked. Not this time.

Just Keep Swimming


2. Flik (A Bug’s Life, 1998)

This is a movie about an accident-prone ant, Flik, who does his best to help his colony. Sure, it was his fault the ants lost the extortion food demanded by Hopper and his band of grasshoppers, but it was an accident. And since this is Flik’s movie, accidents happen all the time.

Flik asks and is granted permission to go out into the world to find mercenary bugs to help fight off the grasshoppers. Of course he screws that up to, but he makes an honest effort and confuses a bunch of bugs to help him and the colony.

Flick is a smart ant, but his execution…not so much. He is, however a selfless bug, who constantly puts himself in danger for the betterment of his colony, even if they don’t always appreciate it.

A Bug’s Life was a big hit for Disney, staying #1 at the box office for three weeks in a row. Though it’s not as popular as other Disney cartoons, the narrative, animation and voice performances make this movie one to watch for ages. It’s good to have faith in yourself and your community to find your inner strength and stand up to bullies. You can have a happy ending and The Time of Your Life.

Flick Goes To the City

Perdita and Pongo
Perdita and Pongo

1. Pongo and Perdita (101 Dalmatians, 1961)

Although the story starts off with Pongo, it quickly becomes the story of Pongo and Perdita, two dogs determined to find their puppynapped young ones.

These two Dalmatians run through rain and snow because a demented Cruella DeVille wants their puppies’ skin for a coat. She didn’t get that name for nothing.

When these persistent dogs find their 15 pups (as well as 84 others meant for slaughter), Pongo and Perdita decide that all puppies must be saved. They find new ways to hide from Cruella, showing their quick thinking under extreme pressure.

Pongo and Perdita and selfless, brave and aren’t afraid to tackle evil for the love of family. If their ‘pets’ only knew, I’m sure Roger and Anita would have been there with them.

You’ve heard of 101 Dalmatians and who hasn't? It’s a classic! There has been a live action movie made along with a sequel to that. The ironic part? From time to time, you can find faux Dalmatian jackets at the Disney Store. That’s because Cruella DeVille was the breakout star. That is unless you talk to a child, who often say their favorite character is ‘all the puppies’. Poor Pongo and Perdita. It doesn’t really matter, because they epitomize the best heroism of all the Disney heroes.

Which hero do you think deserved to be #1?

See results

So, there you have it. I’m sure I missed some of your favorites like Aladdin, Woody, Pocahontas, The Incredibles or my favorite Jack Skellington. They were pushed off the list for various reasons. Think I got the order wrong? Well, that’s definitely up for debate. If you’re not happy, argue your case in the comments below!


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    • Willem Verheij profile image

      Willem 3 years ago

      A little surprised too by the list.

      Hercules just seems too dumb for the list if you ask me. The only time he seemed to use his wits was when he defeated the cyclops without his powers.

      Through the movie he just does too many stupid things.

      I'd not really say Wendy is the hero, though I wouldn't really say that movie has a hero. She's more of a moral compass.

      Belle is a bit of an odd case too. I mean her father goes missing and she rushes off to find him on her own completely unprepared. Surely she could have asked someone (not Gaston) to go with her? Maybe take some supplies and a weapon along?

      It could also be argued wether she actually loves the beast or it is stockholm syndrome.

      They don't seem to actually have anything in common.

    • Ally Lewis profile image

      Ally Lewis 3 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Interesting list. I'm somewhat surprised at your choices though, which I assume was the point.

    • profile image

      SKY97 3 years ago

      don't you think prince phillip is the first?

    • profile image

      george 4 years ago

      Im tempted to make a case that Basil from Great Mouse Detective could be top 10. Maybe lower top 10 but definitely higher than Robin Hood. Marlin is a great choice that I overlooked.

    • profile image

      Katniss Everdeen 4 years ago

      I choose none of these my choice goes with Simba from the Lion King, and there are many reasons, instead of forgetting his past Simba decides to face his past and saves his kingdom: Many people think Simba is not a great hero but that's not true, Simba, Even though it was nala you think told him to face the past it wasn't it was his own descision, When scar takes control of the kingdom and leaves it in ruins, samba finally realizes what he did and ends up taking what was rightfully his, he stood up for mufasa and made scar regret to the pride that he killed mufasa, You may not like him because of what he did to Kiara, but he was doing his best to ensure his daughters safety, or cause of his hatred of kovu, but he learns to accept him, Simba ends up saving his own land and ends up helping his pride defeat those hyeanas, he even helped his own daughter defeat Zira, Simba ends up trying to find his home which was a long way to fight scar and the wrongdoings that scar had done, U know I kind of wish that Mufasa would have just banished scar before he even came up with that, mufasa was a pretty damn well good heroine too, Simba is numba 1 peace out dweebs

    • profile image

      Death-carioca 4 years ago

      The supreme hero of all Disney was Mufasa, everyone will remember who he was.

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 4 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      Simba didn't make the cut, but he also didn't make the cut for worst hero either. Scar, on the other hand...he made the list of most evil villains. He is a good hero, but some of his faults bump him out of the running.

    • profile image

      Patworx 4 years ago

      Where's Simba?

    • profile image

      Fireheart828 5 years ago

      I love these heroes but I definitely think that Mulan deserves to be #1. What happened to the girl that saved Chins?

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 5 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      You know, Brett, I love Robin Hood. He and Peter Pan were my favorite characters as a child. I never tried to shoot an apple off anyone's head, but attempt to shimmy down a second story window? Guilty :)


    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Voted up and awesome, this was nothing like what I was expecting. You really went into the characters of Heroes. As with many young lads of my era, Robin hood was (and still is) one of the favorites ... causing scary moments for many parents as brothers tried to shoot apples off each others heads lol.

      Thanks for SHARING.

    • nityanandagaurang profile image

      nityanandagaurang 5 years ago

      i like disney movies very much.very nice description of disney heroes vmartinezwilson

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 5 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      Stevennix...OK, you're leaving me in suspense....I'm right about who? lol. I wrote up a little thing about Tarzan too, but seems like he and the movie were really forgettable. I think I probably should have had him beat out Hercules, but I just felt I had to have Hercules. You're right, though, he probably should have been on this list somewhere.

      @capedmadman, I absolutely love Jack Skellington, in fact right after Maleficent and The Evil Queen, he's the one person I have the most stuff from. He is also, causes his own problems, steals Christmas delivery from Santa Clause and scares children as a tactic to get what he wants...just to start off. I love him to death, but a hero in the truest sense he's not.

      Much appreciated.

    • profile image

      capedmadman 5 years ago

      I would throw Jack in from Nightmare before Christmas, if for nothing else for sheer awesomeness and because the movie itself seems out of place in the disney family.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 5 years ago

      Yeah, you're definitely right about. Although, I forgot to mention though in my last comment that I was surprised that Tarzan wasn't listed here though, as I thought he very heroic in his film. He was not only brave and cunning, but he even goes out of his way to protect his adopted father and fellow ape tribe members; even though they see him as an outcast. Sure, he was very naïve in trusting Clayton, but then again, he had no way of knowing that trusting the humans would put his adopted ape family in danger.

      Other than that, I have to agree with the other picks you selected though.

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 5 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      I figured the animals should be included because they talk and for the most part behave like humans. Why not give them a little credit?

      Thanks a bunch!

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Very interesting list. I voted for Belle to be number one mainly because she was so rebellious for her time. I love your incorporation of animal heroes and heroines.

    • vmartinezwilson profile image

      Vanessa Martinez Wilson 5 years ago from Vancouver, WA

      I'm so glad everyone enjoyed the hub.

      @jeremygreen, I have so many great memories too, but it's usually enjoying the awesomeness of the villains. :)

      @Steve, I know, I know. Originally, Aladdin was a part of the list, but after I wrote out the positives and negatives both Hercules and Robin Hood beat him out. I was really surprised by that, because Aladdin is one of my favorite heroes to star in a franchise. But, I knew I'd get messed with...what's the fun if I didn't ;)

      @Stevennix, I thought Belle was going to be higher too. In fact, I also thought Rapunzel would make the list, but after a rundown, nope. It's kind of odd how it all worked out. I'm glad I could change your mind about Pongo and Perdita, they are often overlooked in the Disney universe and were really on top of their game against one badass Cruelle DeVille.

      @Alecia, I agree that the old school Disney movies are really classic and still relevant to this day. I must say though that if I had to choose between the princesses from the classic and the princess of today, I'll choose the princess of today. In fact, I'm going to do another hub with that in mind, I think.

      And my favorite soundtrack is the Aladdin one. "Prince Ali, fabulous he, Ali Ababua..."

      Thank you so much and I'm glad you enjoyed the list. I had a lot of fun writing it and constantly moving people around the more I wrote!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Great Hub! I love Disney movies. They don't make them like back in the day but I will say Tiana was a refreshing take on the princess franchise. I'd also include Pochantas. She seems sweet and self assured. My favorite's Mulan if only for the soundtrack with Donny Osmond and Xtina but I do love that movie!

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 5 years ago

      Pretty interesting hub. To be honest, i was going to pick Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but after I read your arguments for Pongo and Perdita, you managed to convince me to change my mind on that.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      A fun hub Vmartinez, Pongo and Perdita your faves eh, well it's a classic movie. I'll pick Tarzan.. oh wait it's not on there! [wink] Aladdin? [bites fist] Just messing, from your list I'll pick Hercules, and my Greek ancestry was the deciding factor. :)

      I'll go check out your villain hub.

      Vote up

    • Jeremygreen profile image

      Jeremygreen 5 years ago from Lubbock, TX

      Love this post! So many great memories watching these heroes save the day!