Sometimes you need a little push to be successful on your journey ahead. That’s what these iconic Disney movie characters had when trouble came around every corner. Over the years, Disney has created such memorable characters from their films. Movies such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast, have left us with a lasting impression of the story for years to come. We could watch these films over and over again without ever growing tired of them.
These title characters may have been the bright spot in the film, however, without the help of the supporting character(s), the leads may not have made it all the way through their adventures. The major characters need all the help they can get. With that being said, here is a list of characters who helped drive the movies forward and assisted our lead heroes/heroines to the conclusion of the film. This list was very difficult to make as most of them could have been placed in any order. So now here are my “Top 10 Disney Movie Mentors.”
#10. Owl: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Even though Owl has been indecisive a few times, he is arguably the smartest resident living in the Hundred Acre Wood. Owl has helped Pooh numerous times, including the time where Pooh was stuck in Rabbit's hole and called upon the services of Gopher to get him out. Owl has also helped the other characters while keeping everyone at bay, including the time when the Hundred Acre Wood became flooded. While Owl has offered his assistance to everyone else, he has mostly been a close mentor to Winnie the Pooh.
#9. Merlin: The Sword in the Stone
Merlin was the father Arthur never had. The wise old wizard watched over the young lad as soon as he dropped in his own home (literally). After crashing through the roof of his house, Merlin begins to educate “Wart” through means of books and stresses the importance of having a good education. Merlin elects himself to become Arthur’s tutor and teaches the ways using your “brain over brawn.” He values this concept by changing both Arthur and himself into a fish, a squirrel, and also a bird.
Even though Merlin had become angry at Arthur initially for valuing war games over education, he changes his mind when he finds out that Arthur pulled the sword from the stone and was crowned the new King Arthur. Merlin helped make the now King Arthur a better man and believes that he succeeded in his mission as his mentor.
#8. Mushu: Mulan
Mushu is a tiny red dragon who became Mulan's protector and guardian after failing to awaken (and destroying) the great stone dragon. Although tiny in stature, Mushu offers much needed advice throughout the film while helping Mulan become the war hero that she longed for to take her father's place. Mushu consults with Mulan constantly in the film, advising her on how to portray masculinity as a female. Towards the end of the film, Mushu assists in taking down Shan Yu by firing a rocket straight into his chest which leads him directly in the path of the fireworks. Talk about going out with a bang!
#7. Grandmother Willow: Pocahontas
Pocahontas’s spiritual adviser, Grandmother Willow, speaks some much needed wisdom throughout the film. After Pocahontas has a dream of a spinning arrow, Grandmother Willow instructs Pocahontas to just listen and, “allow the spirits of the earth to guide her.” After having met John Smith, Pocahontas brings him to meet Grandmother Willow. In one particular scene, Grandmother Willow chases away the two soldiers who are out looking for John Smith. Having faced numerous challenges with the other soldiers, Pocahontas comes to realize that the arrow may have been pointing towards John Smith the entire time.
With war about to start, Grandmother Willow once again tells both of them that they are the ones who can stop the war. She uses the ripples in the water as an example for John Smith, proclaiming that they start small and begin to grow. In other words, someone must start the ripple in order for everything else to take effect. Having heard the fate of John Smith, Grandmother Willow instructs Pocahontas not to give up hope and to try and save him. Feeling lost, Meeko the raccoon gives Pocahontas a compass which shows her the way she needs to go. Grandmother Willow once again explains to her that she must let the spirits guide her to the correct path. Grandmother Willow represents the purity of nature and guides Pocahontas on her journey.
#6. Fairy Godmother: Cinderella
"A dream is a wish your heart makes.” That beautiful song sung by Cinderella shows that she will never give up hope, even if things seem desperate. The Fairy Godmother is one of those unsung heroines who uses her magic for good and always has a positive spin on things. Her famous words of “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” bring about all sorts of magic and is a phrase we have all come to know over the years. The Fairy Godmother is filled with a pure heart and acts as a mother to Cinderella.
After her step sisters tore up the dress she planned on wearing to the ball, the Fairy Godmother shows up in an instant and is there to relieve Cinderella of all her pain and sorrow. Right away she turns a pumpkin into a chariot. Then she changes her mice friends into horses. Finally, she gives Cinderella the dress of her dreams, which allows her to stand out amongst the crowd. Without her Fairy Godmother, Cinderella would not have made it to the ball, and thus would not have met Prince Charming.
#5. Philoctetes: Hercules
A half-man, half-goat, Phil would become the ultimate trainer for Hercules. After initially declining his services to Hercules over his past failures, Phil changes his mind when a lightning bolt strikes him while standing on a broken pillar. Years go by and Hercules becomes much stronger physically, after all the intense training he had to endure. Phil then takes Hercules on a trip to the city of Thebes, showing him the disgrace of society and how people treat one another. It isn’t until Hercules combats a Hydra created by Hades that Phil learns that he may actually have what it takes to be a god.
While having heard the discussion between Meg and Hades, Phil goes to Hercules to try and convince him that Meg has been tricking him the entire time she met him. Unfortunately, Hercules doesn’t believe him and forcefully knocks him away in anger. Meg then has to convince Phil that she truly loves him and that Hades made her do it as part of a deal she made with him previously. Phil seeks to find Hercules and pushes his trainee to go out and fight the titans that Hades unleashed. Without Phil’s help, Hercules would not have become the god he was intended to be.
#4. Rafiki: The Lion King
One of the most beloved supporting characters, Rafiki is a baboon shaman who assists Simba on his quest back to Pride Rock. Also the visual narrator of the film, Rafiki has helped the animals of Pride Rock maintain a sense of peace throughout the land. After learning that Simba is alive, Rafiki jumps for joy and seeks to find him. Later, he meets up with Simba and realizes that he is going through some grief. He teaches Simba a valuable lesson by hitting him on the head with a stick. Simba responds saying, “Oh, jeez what was that for?” Rafiki explains to him that that’s all in the past now. Simba proclaims that he still feels the effects of the stick to which Rafiki states, “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.” Without hesitating Simba races towards Pride Rock screaming “I’m going back!”
Rafiki's push enabled Simba to forget about what happened in the past and learn from his previous “mistakes.” Rafiki was also the one who showed Simba a way to communicate with his deceased father. Simply put, without the assistance of Rafiki, Simba may never have gone back to Pride Rock to save everyone from Scar’s presence.
#3. Timothy Q. Mouse: Dumbo
After watching Dumbo get abused constantly over his big ears, Timothy Mouse takes matters into his own hands. Timothy not only becomes Dumbo’s protector and manager, but also a true friend. Dumbo is saddened that his mother is taken away from him so Timothy becomes the motivator for Dumbo and does what he can to cheer him up. Timothy wants Dumbo to succeed and always keeps a positive mindset moving forward. Despite his small stature, Timothy stands up to the other animals who are bigger than him. He may be small, but deep down he has a bright heart.
Timothy promises Dumbo that he will see his mother again real soon if he trusts in himself. The mouse explains to him that in order to see his mother again he would have to become famous. Timothy raises him up to become a star and temporarily succeeds until he is demoted as a clown. However that becomes short lived when he is given a “magic feather” by one of the crows. Timothy trains Dumbo into thinking that this feather produces magic and by holding onto it, it will make him fly.
Towards the end of the film, Dumbo is seen jumping off of a building while holding onto the feather. Unfortunately, Dumbo lets go of the feather and nearly falls to his death. Being the great coach that Timothy is, he tells Dumbo that he didn’t actually need the feather to make himself fly but rather he had that power all along. At the last second, Dumbo trusts in himself and opens his ears and begins to fly. Without Timothy’s coaching, Dumbo would not have made it this far.
#2. Genie: Aladdin
Oh Robin Williams may you rest in peace. Genie is one of the most memorable supportive characters in Disney history. Robin Williams voiced the delightful Genie in ways no one else could. Genie is a prime example of a character that stood by his master all the way through. The first wish that Genie grants for Aladdin is to become a prince to impress Princess Jasmine. After making a bad impression, Genie instructs Aladdin to “beeee yourself” and should tell the truth about himself being a street rat but refuses.
Perhaps what makes Genie most special is that he is very unselfish. Even though he wishes to be free one day, he builds that trust with his temporary master and is able to form a meaningful friendship with those he serves. All in all, this bona fide loyalty is what ultimately grants him his freedom. At the very end of the film, Aladdin gives Genie his freedom by using his third and final wish. Aladdin would not have restored the palace back to the way it was without the help of Genie.
#1. Jiminy Cricket: Pinocchio
“Always let your conscience be your guide.” Those seven words have resonated throughout our brains ever since we heard Jiminy Cricket speak it. Jiminy is the quintessential movie mentor having given us perhaps one of the most quotable lines in Disney film history. Like Timothy, size does not matter. Jiminy has a heart of gold and stands by his best friend throughout the film. Jiminy befriends a wooden puppet named Pinocchio who the Blue Fairy brings to life. The Blue Fairy deems Jiminy as Pinocchio’s conscience and guide. Jiminy first instructs Pinocchio that it’s important to have a good education and to go to school to learn. However, he meets a friend named Honest John who tells him that school is no good and should instead do something else. Pinocchio is later drawn to starring in Stromboli’s puppet show which grants him temporary fame. Unfortunately, he is locked up by Stromboli and has no freedom.
Eventually, Pinocchio is freed but is then brought to Pleasure Island where he learns that all of the children are being turned into donkeys. Pinocchio narrowly escapes and is finally brought home realizing that his father Geppetto has been looking for him. Understanding that Geppetto has been swallowed by the huge sperm whale named Monstro, both Pinocchio and Jiminy seek to find him. At the cost of Pinocchio’s life, Geppetto is saved. Pinocchio is brought home and is revived by the Blue Fairy and is finally proclaimed a real boy. Jiminy Cricket is also given a solid gold badge by the Blue Fairy declaring him as an official conscience. Jiminy never gave up on Pinocchio even when he wouldn’t listen to him. No matter the danger, Jiminy was always there for him. He had a job to do and succeeded. Jiminy Cricket had to be number one on this list and rightfully so.
So there you have it folks! That’s my list of the ‘Top 10 Disney Movie Mentors.’ Did you agree with my list? What other supporting Disney characters would you have put on this list? Were there any you feel should not have been on this list? I’d like to hear your thoughts below and please share!