Disney Villains really need to be more selective when it comes to hiring henchmen. Many an evil plot has been spoiled not by poor planning, but by entrusting the execution of said plot to inept or under-enthused sidekicks! Villains: if you want something done right (well, wrong, actually), you’ve got to do it yourself (or have Maleficent’s Raven do it).
Pain and Panic
These guys fall in the “inept” category for sure. They had one job: give a poison-laced bottle to Hercules. And they couldn’t close the deal. They then proceeded to bumble around the rest of the film and serve only as the emotional pincushions for Hades’ very pointed frustration. For being such a clever, naturally evil villain, Hades sure has a hard time picking good help.
This one falls into the “under-enthused” henchman category. His heart just wasn’t in it—or his heart was just too big—either way he was not cut out to be an evil henchman. Snow White runs to safety, finds herself out of safety again, then back to safety by the end (spoiler-free plot recap!), all because of this less-than-helpful henchman.
These guys searched for the same baby for sixteen years—not the brightest crayons in the box. But, Maleficent’s management style might be to blame: she probably should have followed up to see how the search was going after a few weeks, instead of waiting to find out they were going about it all wrong a full sixteen years later.
Horace and Jasper
They literally watched TV while the puppies escaped. They watched TV and ate a bologna sandwich while 99 puppies ran around in the background. No wonder Cruella was constantly calling them names! Overall, these guys are extremely ineffective, and the only henchmen to be outsmarted by a bunch of adorable puppies. If Cruella knew they were such “imbeciles,” why didn’t she hire someone a bit smarter? Who knows, and we’re glad that she didn’t.
Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed
Sort of like Pain and Panic, these three have one job to take care of, but instead they just sort of hope that things will take care of themselves. As little Simba runs into the desert, they’re like “yeah he’s probably done for… right?” and then hope for the best. What makes them even worse is that they ultimately turn on their evil leader! Henchmen seem to appreciate loyalty about as much as they do a job well done… not very.
We tend to forget, but it’s true: Megara started out as a not-so-good sidekick to Hades. We’re glad that she had a change of heart, ultimately making her really bad at her job but really good as a human being. That’s all great and fine, but it does spell out that Hades is probably the worst at recruiting good help out of any Disney villain. Meg also has one of the best song credits in Hercules, but that’s totally beside the point.
Smee’s not so bad; he’s sort of charming in his sweetness and care of Captain Hook. But there is that whole scene where he is concerned that he gave Captain Hook too close of a shave (i.e. removed the dear Captain’s head… oops!) In general he’s loyal and hardworking, but we just can’t shake that whole head-chopping-off scenario.
Kronk was also not cut out to be an evil sidekick. True, he has a can-do attitude and does great personal sound effects as he carries out his tasks. But he has that habit of listening to the good shoulder angel that keeps him from being effective as a henchman. That big heart of his makes him a much better scout leader than evil-doer.
Brutus and Nero
It’s hard to project goodness or badness onto these two, as they are sort of non-vocal animals that seem to be inclined to chase whoever might be a potential meal for them. But, they also fall in the low-loyalty category like the hyenas when they turn on their master, Medusa, at the end of The Rescuers. If we were a Disney villains, we’d keep an eye on our henchmen; they have a tendency to forget where their loyalties lie.
Iago has his own little evil streak, making him a not-too-shabby evil henchman. Named after a particularly schemey Shakespearean villain, Iago does his best to help Jafar and isn’t too bad of a henchmen. Most of his shortcomings seem to stem from the fact that he is a relatively small bird; he can only do so much, he’s a parrot. Lack of stature aside, Iago also has a less-publicized change of heart in The Return of Jafar wherein he turns over a new feather and joins up with the good guys. Good parrot, bad henchman.