From the likes of Chef Gusteau, Mary Poppins, all the way to Jiminy Cricket, here are some of the most underrated Disney mentors that deserve more credit from the fans.
Some of the most wonderful words of wisdom in the entirety of our popular culture have all spawned from the world of Disney. While many entry-level fans are easy to quote their favorite princess, animal sidekicks, or comic-relief characters, the true Mouseketeers out there recognize the true value of Disney’s wise-minded mentors.
Though the image of old wizards and wily grandparent figures might first come to mind at that term, Disney has plenty of mentors, teachers, and spirit guides to push their young proteges and protagonists on their way to glory. Sometimes some sage advice goes a long way.
10 Dr. Jumba Jookiba
At first, it might seem strange to include Lilo and Stitch’s temporary antagonist on the list, but it makes perfect sense if one has seen the TV series. Imagine having a mad scientist for an eccentric uncle and that pretty much sums up the four-eyed alien’s role in the show.
Sure, he has a few evil genius tropes left in him, but he’s also super intelligent and always willing to help Lilo and Stitch capture his escaped experiments on the island.
9 Chef Gusteau
Spiritual guides are nothing new to Disney, but Ratatouille’s Chef Gusteau is perhaps the only one who owned a five-star restaurant during his time on earth.
Although he might be a bit of a French chef stereotype, the ghost of Gusteau certainly has some flavorful and almost fatherly advice to share with Remy the rat on his culinary expedition. His presence in the movie should definitely ignite a spark of inspiration for anyone with a dream to follow.
The Mickey to Herc’s Rocky, Phil is definitely the type of satyr anyone would want as their coach or personal trainer. Sure, he might be a tad sarcastic and snarky, but that’s part of his goatish charm.
If this guy can turn everyone’s favorite wonderboy from zero to hero, there’s no telling what greats he can push an everyday rookie to be. He might dish out some occasional tough love, but he truly does know how to motivate a person.
7 Timothy Q. Mouse
Timothy might not seem like the ideal Disney mentor, his stature and Chicago-inspired vernacular definitely aren’t aspects one would associate with that role, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be exceedingly helpful. He’s a small package with a lot of benefits to offer, from being simply a good friend to a life coach.
He might come off as a big-city-big-shot, but his encouraging nature was certainly enough to help Dumbo fly. Maybe the guy should hang up the circus uniform and take a shot at being the elephant’s agent?
6 Jiminy Cricket
Stepping up to the big leagues of Disney’s brightest minds and mentors, it’s none other than the studio’s resident conscience, Jiminy Cricket. The phrase “always let your conscience be your guide” is pretty much the guy’s slogan and has been associated with the character since the ’40s.
Solid advice for everyone, wooden puppets or otherwise, but he didn’t stop there. Jiminy has had viewers under his umbrella through the Mickey Mouse Club, House of Mouse, and so much more. Talk about a career.
5 Grandmother Willow
Although Pocahontas isn’t exactly the shiniest feature in Disney’s collection, Grandmother Willow is certainly up there with the wisest characters in the studio’s roster.
There’s definitely an element of tribal mysticism to her being that makes her one of the most interesting players on the list. Is she Pocahontas’s real grandmother, an ancient spirit, or something else altogether? Whatever she is, she’s definitely one of the best spirit guides in the business.
4 Mary Poppins
Mary Poppins may as well be Disney’s ultimate magical being, seeing that there is no explanation as to what exactly she is or from where she draws her enchanting powers. After all, she never explains anything. But she is also one of the most poignant and provoking mentors in history.
Her lessons aren’t exactly black and white, as she favors the more approachable and applicable touch, but any mystical nanny who can mentor both parents and kids definitely gets a spot on the list.
3 Yen Sid
For many animation fans, the image of Yen Sid conjuring by candlelight in his laboratory is the first thing that comes to mind when they think of a wise old wizard.
Not only did Fantasia’s sorcerer supreme teach Mickey a thing or two about magic, but he also helped Sora on his journey to becoming a Keyblade Master. Finding a more active life in the virtual world, Yen Sid has frequently been seen as the mentor for many a Disney gamer.
Two words, Higitus Figitus. If there’s one wizard everyone knows by name, it’s Merlin the magician. Whether they have watched other Arthurian legend movies or not, Disney’s version of King Arthur’s spell-casting companion is more than likely the one they are familiar with.
Serving as both a scholar and the film’s comedy relief, Merlin makes learning fun for both the viewer and the future king of all England. Whether he’s using transfiguration to teach a lesson or conjuring up a magical assembly line, Merlin is the eccentric professor everyone wishes they had.
Some of the best mentors mix the weird and the wise and nobody does that then everyone’s favorite baboon, Rafiki. The mystic of the Pridelands gets the top spot for both his shaman-like abilities and the words of wisdom he bestows on Simba that has stayed with fans for years.
“The past can hurt…” is a heavy piece of sage wisdom that continues to inspire both old fans and new even today. How could he not be Disney’s best and brightest?
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