Disney has a rich history of peppering their movies with speechless characters, starting with Dopey in their very first movie, 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Since then, the Mouse House has continued this tradition by offering up one indelible silent character after another – with the following five standing as the most noteworthy:
1. Dumbo ('Dumbo')
Alongside WALL-E, Dumbo is probably the best known speechless character in animated history. Dumbo becomes an object worthy of the viewer’s sympathy almost immediately, as the character is taunted by other elephants due to his oversized ears and, eventually, separated from his mother. It’s not until he meets and becomes friends with a scrappy mouse named Timothy that Dumbo begins to come out of his shell, with the movie primarily following Timothy’s efforts at transforming Dumbo into a big circus star. Dumbo lives up to his reputation as one of the animation genre’s most beloved figures, with his inability to speak only adding to his mystique and appeal.
2. Dopey ('Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs')
Though he never speaks a word, Dopey stands out as the most lovable and memorable member of the famed Seven Dwarfs. He’s a sweet, goofy figure who first discovers Snow White sleeping in their seven beds, and it’s clear immediately that Dopey is immediately smitten with the runaway princess. (In the film’s sweetest scene, Dopey attempts to get a second kiss from Snow White by doubling back to the end of the line.) Dopey’s loyalty to Snow White eventually leads him to assist his brothers in vanquishing the evil Queen, while Dopey is clearly ecstatic after learning that Snow White isn’t actually dead. In an interesting bit of trivia, Dopey’s various vocal effects were provided by legendary voice-over artist Mel Blanc.
Before we meet Maximus, Tangled introduces us to Pascal – the adorable little chameleon that acts as protagonist Rapunzel’s (Mandy Moore) trusty sidekick. But as memorable as Pascal is, it’s Maximus who inevitably stands as Tangled’s most indelible speechless character. Maximus is the smart, tenacious horse that makes it his life’s mission to track down and capture Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi), although Maximus eventually has a change of heart after realizing that Flynn is truly in love with Rapunzel. (In fact, Maximus ultimately plays a pivotal role in ensuring that Flynn and Rapunzel live happily ever after, as he saves Flynn from being executed for his crimes.)
4. The Crocodile ('Peter Pan')
Though nameless and speechless, the Crocodile remains one of the most memorable and fearsome villains in Disney’s history. As we eventually learn, the Crocodile has been gunning for Captain Hook ever since Peter Pan fed him Hook’s left hand – with Hook’s only warning that the Crocodile is approaching the ominous tick-tock sound of the alarm clock in his belly. Throughout Peter Pan’s brisk running time, the Crocodile pursues Captain Hook with a vengeance that’s nothing short of tenacious – with Hook finally defeated as the Crocodile chases him away from Neverland.
5. Cri-Kee ('Mulan')
A sidekick to a sidekick, Cri-Kee is the tiny purple cricket that accompanies Mushu (Eddie Murphy) on most of his adventures. (It also doesn’t hurt that Cri-Kee is considered by many of the other characters to be a lucky cricket.) Cri-Kee’s presence in Mulan is admittedly pretty limited, but the character does manage to make the most out of his brief screen time – as he eventually helps Mushu defeat the film’s villain, Shan Yu (Miguel Ferrer), by firing a missile directly at the Emperor’s Palace.