7 Disney Villains Who Should Have Been Background Checked

By Alexis Roth On April 18, 2012

The villains in Disney films often gain the upper hand at one point during the course of the story because someone has mistakenly trusted them along the way. A shocking number of these cackling characters are able to get what they want because an innocent, naive character falls subject to their persuasion. Yet, almost any of these Disney villains could be pegged as inherently dangerous by doing a background check on them. Many of them have troubling pasts, perhaps even shedding light on past criminal involvement. A background check can tell you quite a bit about a person, from their general character, to past jobs they’ve held, any crimes they have committed, and their credit score.

  1. Cruella de Vil

    Cruella de Vil is the villain in One Hundred and One Dalmatians, known for her skunk-like hairdo. In the Disney film, Cruella is an acquaintance of Anita’s, and comes to visit the house unannounced one evening after the Dearly’s Dalmatian Perdita has given birth to a litter of puppies. Cruella is at first interested in the puppies for the purpose of fashioning fur coats out of their pelts, but then recoils in horror when she notices they are spotless. After the Dearlys explain that they will gain their spots with maturity, Cruella offers to buy the litter and is told they are not for sale. She then leaves and has them stolen weeks later when they have spotted coats. While the Dearlys are correct in suspecting that Cruella had something to do with their missing puppies, the police can’t locate them at her London flat. Were they to implement a background check on this conniving character, they would have realized that she inherited the estate known as “Hell Hall” out in the countryside of Suffolk, which is a much more reasonable place to keep a large amount of barking puppies. Police could have intervened immediately, saving the heroic dogs of the film quite a bit of effort that was spent otherwise in rescuing the pups.

  2. Jafar

    Jafar acts as the Royal Vizier of Agrabah in Aladdin. Jafar’s goal in the film is entirely about gaining power. First, he wishes to become Sultan, but that isn’t enough for him, and he then toys with the idea of becoming the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Jafar is first seen at the opening of the film trying to gain access to the Cave of Wonders, which is full of gold, precious jewels, and the most coveted of all — a genie within a lamp. Jafar sends a thief accomplice into the cave instead of himself, but the thief is consumed by the cave. When Jafar learns that only a “diamond in the rough” can successfully enter the cave, he disguises himself and leads the unsuspecting Aladdin on the mission instead. Aladdin succeeds in obtaining the lamp, and Jafar essentially spends the rest of the film trying to both kill Aladdin and get the lamp back for his own personal use. Outcome aside, Jafar should have never been hired as Royal Vizier of Agrabah, as he clearly has sinister intentions. A background check may have divulged some shady activity from his past, signaling to the Sultan that he was not a wise choice for the position.

  3. Scar

    Scar is the main antagonist in The Lion King. As Mufasa’s brother, he feels squandered of his right to the throne at Pride Rock, and thus comes up with a plan to kill Mufasa and his nephew, Simba. He succeeds in murdering Mufasa and manipulates Simba into running away from the Pride Lands, which results in his usurpation of Pride Rock. Had Scar been adequately background checked, the lions at Pride Rock might not have been so quick to trust him following Mufasa’s death. According to The Lion King novels series, Scar was originally named “Taka.” As a teenage lion, he became very jealous that Mufasa was entitled as heir to the throne. In an attempt to make Mufasa appear unworthy of his title as king, Taka leads his brother to the water hole where terrible drought conditions were being negotiated with other animals. A Cape buffalo who goes by the name of Boma is sequestering the water there. Although Mufasa uses diplomatic reasoning with Boma, Taka threatens the buffalo, which nearly gets Mufasa killed. It is also the moment in which Taka receives his namesake scar. With a thorough background check, the animals of Pride Rock could have seen Scar’s delinquent behavior as a warning sign for a future in which he would lash out at his brother. They would have realized Scar’s inherent tendency towards violence and would have been less inclined to let him take over as king.

  4. Honest John

    In the 1940s film Pinocchio, the puppet after which the movie is named comes to life shortly after his creator, Geppetto, wishes so upon a star. However, in order to lose his marionette features and become a real boy, Pinocchio must prove himself honest, unselfish, and able to discern between right and wrong. This is a task which is repeatedly shown to be difficult for Pinocchio. On his first day as a living puppet, he comes across J. Worthington Foulfellow, also known as Honest John, and is easily persuaded to skip school in favor of becoming the lead act in Strombolli’s puppet show. Here, Pinocchio is imprisoned. Although he escapes, Pinocchio meets Honest John a second time and is then convinced that he must go to a place called Pleasure Island, where, unbeknownst to Pinocchio, unruly boys are transformed into donkeys and then sold. Thus, Pinocchio trusts “Honest” John twice during the course of the film, and suffers the consequences both times. Pinocchio may not have had the advanced technology of a background check available at the time, but it would have proven to be a valuable insight into Honest John’s criminal past. Many trials and tribulations could have been avoided by taking heed of Honest John’s wicked traits. Perhaps a background check would have shown that Honest John was employed by the Coachman to bring boys to Pleasure Island, for example.

  5. Ursula

    Ursula is the half-woman half-octopus incarnate in The Little Mermaid known for stealing Ariel’s voice. As she explains at the beginning of the film, she was once a senior member in King Triton’s court. Deleted scenes from the film reveal that she is actually King Triton’s sister, making her Ariel’s evil aunt. However, King Triton banished Ursula from Atlantica because of her meddling with dark magic. Ariel turns to Ursula when she is unable to be with the human, Prince Eric. The sea witch makes a deal with Ariel, stating that she will swap out her mermaid fin for human legs for three days. In those three days, Ariel is to seal the deal with a kiss or she will be returned to the sea where Ursula will hold her prisoner forever. Ursula adds the condition that Ariel must also surrender her voice, rendering her a mute human with little ability to actually communicate with Eric. Ariel is foolish for trusting Ursula to begin with, but a quick background check on the sea witch would have given her ample information to steer clear of Ursula. She already knew that Ursula had been banished from Antlantica, and a background check could have confirmed Ursula’s penchant for dark magic. She would also be alerted to the fact that all of the pitiful sea polyps floating about in Ursula’s lair were once well-intentioned mermaids themselves, all of which made unsavory choices by making deals with Ursula.

  6. Yzma

    From The Emperor’s New Groove, Yzma is Kuzco’s adviser who is also skilled at alchemy. She is similar to Jafar in that she has somehow been granted access to the royal court, in such a high position that she essentially calls the shots for Kuzco, despite the fact that she is clearly ill-intentioned. This is likely because Yzma was thought to have raised Kuzco. Kuzco fires Yzma, not because of her evil ways, but because he flamboyantly uses his power. After that, Yzma does everything she can to kill Kuzco and take the throne, although she only succeeds in turning him into a llama. Neither Yzma nor Kuzco should have been able to rule the empire in The Emperor’s New Groove, as both are very selfish and do little to benefit the land. Kuzco ultimately abandons his egocentric ways, but the film shows that nobody should be able to take the role of emperor without a decent background check. Perhaps then, Kuzco would be flagged as having been raised by the witchy Yzma who keeps poisons in her lair. Likely, they do not rule by way of electoral vote, and so a background check would not have been an option. However, there is a general disregard for the well-being of the kingdom in which they live, which could have been prevented by a quick analysis of the characters’ pasts and existing records.

  7. Madame Medusa

    Madame Medusa is the primary villainous character from The Rescuers. When the orphan, Penny, went missing, the police in the area should have done a background check on Medusa, who supposedly visited the orphanage a couple of times. Medusa is reported to own a pawn shop in New York, but takes Penny to a remote boat in the Devil’s Bayou, where Penny is unable to escape. Aside from abducting Penny, Medusa and her accomplice Mr. Snoops are on a mission to locate a valuable diamond known as the Devil’s Eye. The pair are clearly crooks, looking to make money at the expense of a young girl. Administering a background check on Medusa would, at the very least, expose a questionable credit score, and at worst, make evident any crimes she committed prior to kidnapping the child. While Penny is rescued by the aid of two tenacious mice, Medusa is left in the swamps at the mercy of angry crocodiles. Her fate is unknown.

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