While there are countless polls on the best Disney princesses, little attention is given to the men of Disney. Who are the best gentlemen, the best knights, the best scoundrels of the Disney-verse?
Across hundreds of Disney movies, only a select few male characters have made a splash significant enough to keep them around in the public consciousness—and mainly for being funny or charming.
But there's a lot more to Disney's characters than that. Here are my picks for the best male Disney characters of all time, whether they're bright, hilarious, cunning, or honorable!
10. Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
A misunderstood character, Quasimodo represents one of Disney's best efforts in adapting classic material.
Despite being shunned for his deformed body, he's still one of the most loving and compassionate characters in all of Disney's films.
Not to mention, he's brave! In both The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the sequel, he risks his life to save someone else. That cements him as a male Disney character worth celebrating.
9. Bolt in Bolt (2008)
Do you remember Bolt? We do! Despite being one of the lesser-talked-about Disney movies, Bolt launched what would come to be known as the Disney Revival era full of solid animated films to enjoy.
Naïve, optimistic, and hopelessly full of himself, Bolt is the quintessential Labrador. He believes himself to be a real-life super-dog, and he'll do whatever it takes to get home to his owner.
Or, as he puts it: "I'm missing my person!" The love and determination that he demonstrates is remarkable and endlessly endearing.
Not to mention the fact that he's fantastically voice-acted by John Travolta. What's not to love here?
8. Stitch in Lilo & Stitch (2002)
He's the chaotic weapon from outer space. He's also the lovable goofball who becomes a strange blend between family pet and wild animal. It is, of course, Stitch!
As he stays in Hawaii at the Pelekai household, he learns to surf, he learns how to assimilate into culture, and, most importantly, he learns what the true meaning of family is: that nobody gets left behind.
It's a transformation that seems simple on the surface, but it'll leave tears in the eyes of any adult who watches it.
7. Sebastian in The Little Mermaid (1989)
Sebastian has the voice of an angel, the body of... well, a crab. But he's so much more than just a simple crustacean of the deep sea! He's a tremendous life coach and a great friend.
Essentially taking on the role of therapist to Princess Ariel, Sebastian is always there to listen to her woes and to help her get out of all manner of potentially life-threatening situations.
On top of all that, he can dodge a cleaver like no crab ever seen! That definitely earns him a few extra points.
6. Li Shang in Mulan (1998)
Li Shang is the son of a decorated military commander and he has one mission: to get his team of wise-cracking, discipline-slacking newbies into fighting shape. Will he succeed? He absolutely will.
Despite the size of the mountain he's tasked with climbing, Li Shang is never daunted and never sways his course. It's his mission and he's determined to accomplish it. That's who he is.
This is all communicated through one montage, but we're given the impression that Shang is a no-nonsense character—and he does turn his men (plus Mulan) into the heroes they need to be.
5. Mufasa in The Lion King (1994)
The archetypal father, the instructive ruler, the philosopher king. On top of all that, ruler of Pride Rock. He's Mufasa.
Mufasa is a character that imbues every scene he's in with a certain type of reverence. His poise, his cadence, his authoritative manner of speaking is one that only James Earl Jones can bring to the screen.
He's a noble figure who commands respect and inspires those around him to follow his every word, making him not just one of the best male Disney characters but one of Disney's best characters ever.
4. Hades in Hercules (1997)
While almost everyone was ogling Hercules, the more sophisticated viewers of Hercules knew Hades was the best character in the film.
Expertly voice acted by James Woods, Hades had a charisma and barely suppressed fury that was endlessly entertaining to watch. His schemes to get to the top were maniacal and provided endless laughs.
Yes, he's a villain. But as far as Disney villains go, he's one of the more interesting ones with more depth than first meets the eye.
3. Bagheera in The Jungle Book (1967)
Though he never gets credit when compared with the lackadaisical and careless Baloo, Bagheera is the militant and disciplined panther who saves Mowgli from the clutches of Shere Khan.
Bagheera is sleek, wise, and authoritative, but never in a domineering way. Like a protective parent, he often reins Mowgli's impulsive behavior because he cares about him and doesn't want to see him hurt.
Since the jungle is populated with all manner of colorful personalities, Bagheera's cautious and parental demeanor is often overlooked in this fun romp of a movie, meaning he's underrated and underappreciated. Undeservedly so, if you ask me.
2. Fa Zhou in Mulan (1998)
Though he doesn't have much screen time in Mulan, Fa Zhou is easily one of the most memorable male Disney characters.
In particular, Fa Zhou represents one of the most endearing depictions of a father figure in all of cinema history. While Mulan just wants to make her father proud, Fa Zhou is constantly understanding of his rebellious daughter despite her divergent ideals.
When Mulan returns bearing gifts of her impressive war efforts, Fa Zhou puts them aside and holds her tightly: "The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter."
His demonstration of such love and compassion to his misunderstood daughter is enough to place him near the very top of this list.
1. Timon and Pumbaa in The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King already gave us Mufasa as the wise, stoic, admirable leader of Pride Rock, but it's Timon and Pumbaa who provided Simba with an alternative philosophy: don't worry about it!
Along with being one of the best duos in cinema full stop, they're also one of the first gay couples in the Disney canon.
Considering the fact that they were so loved that they eventually got their own spin-off movie, it's enough to say—without question—that they are the best male Disney characters of all time.