1: a servile dependent, follower, or underling
3: a subordinate or petty official (merriam-webster.com definition)
Perhaps one of the most recognizable character inventions in recent animation, the banana-colored, gibberish-speaking, violence-prone minions of Despicable Me (Illumination Entertainment/ Universal Studios 2010) are the quintessential screen minions that reached such popularity that people actually dressed up as them on Halloween. Google ‘minion’ and thousands of those banana-and-blue-jumpers will appear. In the first movie, I laughed so hard when one minion cracked and shook another to make it glow like a glow stick.
We’ve seen a lot of minions and funny characters throughout the years, so I started wondering how the comical cartoon characters actually started. I absolutely am only assuming that the first regular (or recurring) animated comic relief is Donald Duck, who first appeared in The Wise Little Hen in 1934. I have no other documentation to base it from, other than a Google search of early animated characters.
The more successful minions get a sub-plot of their own or their own TV show. Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, Timoun and Pumbaa all got their own spinoff shows after they were successfully introduced. Recently, we’ve had additional helpings of Scrat (Ice Age), the Penguins (Madagascar), the Amigos of Happy Feet and the ongoing saga of Gru’s assistants.
For this post, I am listing a possible history of the animated comic relief and the minion mainly from Western animation – otherwise the post would be too long, Asian animation (mainly Japanese) is just as awash with comic relief characters as their Western counterparts. So, bugger me if you wish to include minions from Mekanda Robot or Howl’s Moving Castle.
The list is incomplete, and probably has a thin line separating the voiced protagonist Sidekick comic relief from the antagonistic, incoherent underling (hence, a double entry for The Lion King with the comic duo of Timoun & Pumbaa and The Hyenas.)
Let’s just say this list is for fun. So, enjoy.
(Click on the thumbnails for a slideshow.)