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The Wonderful World of Disney: 10 of the Most Memorable Film Characters Caught On-Screen

Updated on May 12, 2012
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Movie Poster
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Movie Poster
Pinocchio Movie Poster
Pinocchio Movie Poster
The Jungle Book Movie Poster
The Jungle Book Movie Poster
The Great Mouse Detective Poster
The Great Mouse Detective Poster
Aladdin Movie Poster
Aladdin Movie Poster
The Lion King Poster
The Lion King Poster
Toy Story Movie Poster
Toy Story Movie Poster
Cars Movie Poster
Cars Movie Poster
Bolt Movie Poster
Bolt Movie Poster
Tangled Movie Poster
Tangled Movie Poster
Cars 2 Poster
Cars 2 Poster

Once upon a time, Walt Disney had a dream to make great animation to entertain the masses and his legacy has lived on ever since. Of course, his most iconic characters has forever been Mickey Mouse when he made his first appearance in the short film Steamboat Willie more than 80 years ago. That film signified Mickey's innocence as he went on another adventure and became a common theme in most Disney Films, even when Mickey was nowhere in sight.

Ultimately, that's what made the movies work. A character that stood out from the rest like a Diamond in the rough. A prime example would be Mrs. Potts in Beauty and the Beast or Sleeping Beauty herself. Some characters were pure fun, while others had a hidden moral for the better to teach children and parents about ethical behavior. Here are a list of the most ten memorable Disney Characters that have graced the big screen in some stellar and others less than. Read on to find out whether you agree or disagree with those choices.

Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)- When examining Disney Films, it's always best to start at the beginning with Walt's first forray into full length animation. It's the ultimate fairy tale film about a princess looking for her prince and actually finding him. The couple endured challenges, such as a poisoned apple, to get to their happily ever after. Snow White was the film that started Disney's obsession with the fairy tale formula. Sadly, Disney has shelved their fairy tale stories after audiences spurned 2009's The Princess and the Frog, which came out during the height of the recession. Many little girls wanted to be a pretty princess like Snow White and get to hang out with a unique group of friends (Seven Dwarfs) to help her plight. The dwarfs provided a wide array of amusement, which mostly came from Dopey. Watch this film to see why many generations have loved it since it's original release.

Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective (1986)- Okay, most people might not remember this film. It was released during Disney's creative drought period which took place between 1967 (The Jungle Book) and 1989 (The Little Mermaid). Detective's story was based loosely on the Sherlock Holmes tales, which followed Private Detective Basil as he chased his professional rival in the villainous Professor Ratigan (Vincent Price). It was Price's presence that salvaged the film from being another forgettable cartoon. The story was decent, but it was Price's efforts that made it truly work. He gave Ratigan a sense of wicked animation that literally jumped off the screen, which had him singing and dancing about his wickedness. It's no wonder why the late actor was rumored to have considered this his favorite role, which is surprising because most of his more well known work revolved around horror films. Watch this to see why Price's performance made this film work.

Mufasa in The Lion in King (1994)- There are many reasons why this film remains King, especially after its recent 3D release on the big screen. The story was perfect from start to finish. The audience never wanted it to end because it made them feel a wide variety of emotions from happiness, sadness and the desire to sing along. Another reason why King was memorable was James Earl Jones' superb voice work as the larger than life Lion ruler Mufasa. This performance as the noble ruler who literally sacrificed his life to save his son Simba, which was the total opposite of Jones' performance as movie polar opposite Darth Vader. His booming voice made Mufasa's words resonate all the more. He was the total yin to Jeremy Irons' villainous yang as his brother Scar. The film's real heart came from his scenes with the young Simba as he taught him how to hunt and how to love someone else more than your own life. Now that's the biggest lesson of all.

Doc Hudson in Cars (2006)- What made Cars truly memorable was an iconic performance from Oscar Winner Paul Newman in his last film role before his death in 2008 as a wise but sad classic car. As Doc Hudson, Newman seemed to mirror elements of his own life and aversion to the limelight. His early film days were filled with brass behavior and the occasional mistake. His later years allowed him to showcase everything he's learned in life: the pain, heartbreak and the happier times. The movie also allowed Newman to delve into his other favorite passion, racing cars, by allowing him to literally be one. Towards the end of the movie, Hudson returned back to the race circuit where he got the respect he never knew he needed or deserved. Just like the actor who portrayed him.

Genie in Aladdin (1992)- Robin Williams' voice work as the spastic Genie showcased the comedic actor at his best when he focused on just being a funnyman and nothing else. Aladdin came before his Oscar win and his attempts to repeat his success as a dramatic actor. His character brought the film's funniest scenes as he enticed a street urchin to becoming something more. He danced and sang his way into Disney Film glory. If only, Williams could truly go back to his comedic roots to become the actor he once was. Oh well, audiences might as well settle for watching Aladdin instead.

Horse in Tangled (2010)- It might seem strange to declare the only silent character in Tangled to be the most unforgettable character, but it's an accurate assumption. Well, the Horse brought some of the film's biggest laughs as he played around with Zachary Levi's Flynn. The Horse was a heroic creature meant to capture Flynn's intrepid criminal and became his greatest ally in rescuing Rapunzel from her evil "mother." No small feat indeed and will have to sustain audiences for quite awhile since it's Disney's last fairy tale for the near future.

Bolt in Bolt (2008)- A Pixar film that paired John Travolta as the title character and Miley Cyrus as Bolt's ally. The film worked because of Travolta's portrayal of Bolt who was once a Hollywood dog and became a real life one by accident. The celebrity becoming a regular figure story has been done before in animation and live action films as well, but it was this film that made the idea truly work. The scenes of Bolt adjusting to being a regular dog were priceless and rang true for anyone learning how to function as an adult. Travolta made Bolt relatable and entertaining, which is no small feat.

Baloo in The Jungle Book (1967)- Look for the Bare Necessities. That's the essence of the character that stood out in the animated adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling classic story. Baloo was a bear who loved a good time and taught Mowgli how to have fun. The character of Baloo was the springboard for The Lion King's Timon and Pumba through their rousing rendition of "Hakuna Matata." Watch The Jungle Book if you're looking to show your kids or yourself a good time.

Woody in Toy Story (1995)- Disney's first array into working with Pixar was a smashing success with Story about a group of toys looking to function together as they fought for playing time with their boy owner Andy. What made Woody more memorable than Buzz Lightyear was the character's ability to connect all different walks of toy life? He was the glue that kept everyone together, even when they had to let Andy go to college in Toy Story 3. Woody's success as a character can be attributed to star Tom Hanks' memorable performance as a likable cowboy toy. He made Woody a character worth watching in all three films.

Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio (1940)- Pinocchio came during Disney's early days and followed the simple story of a toy searching for something substantial, which led to his quest to becoming a real life boy. The movie's most standout character was Jiminy Cricket as Pinocchio's conscience as he helped steer him in the right direction without making the decisions for him. Watch this film with your kids to show them how to choose between right and wrong on their own.

In the end, most Disney films have become a thing of the past. The traditional animation that made Snow White and Cinderella so grand has been mostly replaced with the digital fare that Pixar uses with relish. Fairy tales have been shelved for different stories so far untold and waiting to be explored. Let's just hope that sacrificing tradition doesn't make audiences forget about Disney's extraordinary beginnings to make way for the next big thing. With the release of Cars 2 on DVD, it's time to look back on your favorite Disney films to see why you loved them as a child. Just sit back and enjoy a brief escape into your childhood once again.

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    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      We loved Bolt 1, keep meaning to see Bolt 2. Roll on that miserable winter afternoon.....

    • Admiral_Joraxx profile image

      Admiral_Joraxx 6 years ago from Philippines

      The world loves Walt Disney, and that includes me! I think I have watched all and every masterpiece they have released. Great entertainment for all time. 1 vote up.=)

    • profile image

      SJmorningsun25 6 years ago

      Thanks for mentioning "The Great Mouse Detective"! That was my sister's and my favorite movie growing up--everytime we went to the library we'd borrow it. :-) Definitely obscure, but a great movie nonetheless. This is an excellent list. Well done! Voted up and interesting.

    • brandasaur profile image

      brandasaur 6 years ago from Planet X

      Toy story! I still love that movie up to now. :)