Characters: Pocahontas

Please take note that the tropes on this page apply exclusively to the movie Pocahontas (1995), not to its sequel.

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Pocahontas

See Disney Princess Honorary Princesses


John Smith

Voiced by: Mel Gibson

  • Action Hero: John is an adventurer at heart.
  • Aerith and Bob: John and Pocahontas. Inverted in that in one scene he comments on how strange all the Native names sound to him, but Pocahontas thinks the same about his name.
  • The Atoner: John became a significantly better person towards the end, mostly because of Pocahontas' influence.
  • Badass In Charge: John is a Captain.
  • Badass Pacifist: Doesn't fight unless it is completely necessary.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Towards Thomas. John is very protective over him.
  • Bold Explorer: Smith's explorations of the new Virginia Territory are how he met Pocahontas in the first place. During the song "Mine, Mine, Mine", he sings of how he's never seen a wilder, more challenging land than Virginia and how he doesn't plan to miss any of its dangers.
  • Break the Haughty: It's not done negatively, but he is forced to see the negative implications of his original behaviour.
  • The Captain: Captain John Smith.
  • Character Development: Goes from pointing his gun at Pocahontas to trying his hardest not to kill Kocoum, a very strong warrior, who attacked him.
  • Closer to Earth: Especially next to Ratcliffe, he is a far more competent, wise and benevolent leader. He pales in comparison to Pocahontas, however, who tries very hard to put him off his self-righteous attitude. It works.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Saving Thomas while others were willing to consider him lost.
  • Face Death with Dignity: He remains calm and composed about his upcoming execution in the third act.
  • First Name Basis: With Pocahontas and Thomas. Everyone else calls him by his surname.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: He's more interested in exploring than mining for gold.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: The only major character who's blond and one of the few English characters who isn't a racist jerk (though he is prejudiced at first before meeting Pocahontas).
  • Heel-Face Turn: Somewhat. While not a bad guy at heart, his intentions to steal the Virginian land and "civilize" the "savages" are mildly villainous at worst and thoroughly short-sighted and inconsiderate at best. Pocahontas turns him around to make him realize the natives are fine on their own, and the land does not, in fact, belong to the British.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: John took a bullet for Chief Powhatan when Radcliffe was going to shoot him.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Thomas. He has a strong Big Brother Instinct towards Thomas.
  • Hidden Depths: "I've never really belonged anywhere." Which gives a whole new meaning to the entire exploring obsession he has.
  • Historical Beauty Update: The real John Smith was a short, portly, brown-haired, bearded man.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: To the point where critics agree this is the version of John Smith the actual Smith would have wanted history to see him as. The real Smith wrote boastful accounts of his adventures, in which he spun fact into legend and portrayed himself as a James Bond-like figure. One of the reasons historians doubt the story about Pocahontas saving his life is that that's one of three times he claimed to have been rescued by a native woman. Either native women really had a thing for him or he was a rather uncreative writer. Also, John Smith was much more of a Jerkass, with one of his well-documented actions being taking a Native leader captive so that the leader's tribe would provide him with plentiful resources.
  • Hunk: John is very physically attractive.
  • I Come in Peace: Incredibly subverted, and not even in We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill terms. One is left to wonder just what he might've done if Pocahontas hadn't been a girl.
  • Innocent Bigot: His beliefs about the Natives at the beginning of the movie are just the stereotypes that everyone else aboard the ship believes. He comes to see the error of his ways fairly quickly.
  • Love at First Sight: With Pocahontas. It's clear that the very first time John lays eyes on her, he almost instantly falls in love.
  • Love Redeems: His love for Pocahontas is what teaches him that the Natives are people who deserve his respect, and that the British are wrong for treating them like vermin who need to be exterminated.
  • Made of Iron: John Smith also qualifies. After taking a bullet for Chief Powhatan, he survives a several-month-long voyage back to England before receiving proper medical care.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Well, he is played by Mel Gibson.
  • Nice Guy: It takes some time to come to the surface, but at heart he is quite understanding, friendly and interested in other cultures. Grandmother Willow cunningly remarks that he has a good soul.
  • Official Couple: With oh guess who. Due to this, it is deemed very unsafe to mention the sequel, where Pocahontas is paired with John Rolfe to Pocahontas fans. Thankfully, Disney itself affirms the Official Couple status of Pocahontas and John Smith on their merchandise and other media.
  • Small Name, Big Ego; At first. He mellows out after meeting Pocahontas.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Pocahontas. While they love each other, their relationship is inevitably doomed.
  • Taking the Bullet: Ratcliffe tries to shoot Powhatan, but John takes the shot.
  • Tall, Blond and Handsome
  • White Man's Burden: Initially. After talking to Pocahontas, he realizes that the Natives don't really need their help.
  • You Are Worth Hell: The premise of If I Never Knew You.

Chief Powhatan

Voiced by: Russell Means (speaking), Jim Cummings (singing)
"You must choose your own path."

  • Beware the Nice Ones: Under his genuinely nice and peaceful demeanor, he is revealed to be quite an effective leader. In fact, his opening scene has him coming back from winning a war.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Pocahontas does it to him, criticizing his "path of hatred".
  • Children Raise You: Gets taught a valuable lesson by his own daughter.
  • Disappointed In You: "Because of your foolishness, Kocoum is dead!"
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Well, he doesn't outright forbid Pocahontas' dreams, but he doesn't like her rejection of Kocoum.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real-life Powhatan was nothing short of a genuine Jerkass - despite naming Pocahontas his favorite daughter, he did not try to save her once she was kidnapped by the English. As John Rolfe, she berated him greatly for this decision and it made her decide to stay with the British. note 
  • Meddling Parents: Did he really give Pocahontas a choice on marrying Kocoum? Russell Means cited this as being against the Native American tradition of always listening to your children, but stated the film redeemed itself in the scene where Pocahontas talks her father down, saying it was very realistic that a Native American dad would drop everything and seriously consider their children's words.
  • Nice Guy: Tries to be a wise leader and a good father.
  • Open-Minded Parent: After he realizes John Smith really was a good guy, he has no problems with Pocahontas kissing John Smith right in front of him.
  • Papa Wolf: Among the more powerful Disney dads, including Mufasa and King Triton. Especially in the 90s, Disney fathers were prone to being small, bumbling or old and invalid.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: At least until the death of Kocoum, after which his xenophobia overtakes his wise side.
  • You Are Grounded: When he tells Pocahontas she should have stayed in the village.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Pocahontas calls him out on his actions in her speech.

Nakoma

Voiced by: Michelle St. John
"I thought I was doing the right thing."

Kocoum

Voiced by: James Apaumut Fall
"But he's so... serious."

  • Anti-Villain: Type III. He's not a bad guy, is protective of his people and loves Pocahontas. When Kocoum spots John Smith and Pocahontas together kissing he becomes consumed by jealousy, and attacks John Smith.
  • Chick Magnet: Both in-universe and out. A sizable bout of the Pocahontas fandom prefers him over John Smith.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: From his point of view, one of the white invaders that shot his friend in the leg was defiling his fiancée.
  • The Comically Serious: Many comment that Kocoum is "very serious".
  • Death of the Hypotenuse: Courtesy of Thomas.
  • Famous Last Words: "What is it? What's wrong? Is she all right?"
  • Mr. Fanservice: He's considered handsome in and out of universe and he's a Walking Shirtless Scene.
  • The Native Rival: Mainly because he's annoyed at John Smith for getting romantically involved with his intended bride. He ends up getting killed by Thomas (John Smith's friend) while trying to murder Smith.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Lampshaded. He rarely smiles.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: And he is called out for it.
    Kocoum: Honorable Powhatan, I will lead our troops to the river! We will defeat them just like we did the Massawomecks!
    Powhatan: Kocoum, in that battle we knew how to fight our enemy.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Kocoum's death very nearly serves as the catalyst for an all-out war between the settlers and the Powhatans.
  • Serious Business: He takes everything very seriously.
  • Screaming Warrior: Giving kids nightmares since 1995. Played for Laughs here.
  • The Stoic: At least, until the moment where he sees John and Pocahontas together...
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: It's difficult for a viewer to feel too much emotion for Kocoum's death when he barely had any screen time or characterization in the movie. This doesn't excuse some members of the cast, who should have known him a lot better, from doing the same.

Grandmother Willow

Voiced by: Linda Hunt
"Listen with your heart - you will understand."

  • Big Good: Of this movie. Doubles with The Obi-Wan as she does teach the main characters some really valuable lessons.
  • Breakout Character: Most often seen on Pocahontas merchandise and posters. She seems to be the one character that is generally liked regardless of people's opinions on the movie she is in.
  • Cool Old Lady: "Kocoum? But he's so serious!"
  • Hyper Awareness: Probably comes with being a spirit of nature.
  • Morality Chain: She teaches John Smith a lesson about getting things done.
    Grandmother Willow: Sometimes, the right path is not the easiest one.
  • Nature Spirit: Either that, or the lingering spirit of an actual deceased member of the tribe, who has manifested herself in a tree.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Effectively disposes of Ben and Lon when they come looking for John.
  • Parental Substitute: For Pocahontas. She gives her the advice a mother would normally give her daughter.
  • Rear Window Witness: Technically, Kocoum's death happened right in front of her. If she saw it is something else.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Pocahontas and John, instantly. She even agrees that Kocoum is so serious.
  • Spirit Advisor: She manifests herself in an animate tree. She is apparently visible only to Pocahontas, her animal friends and, later, John Smith.
  • When Trees Attack: For Ben and Lon. Their reaction was pretty logical.
  • Wise Tree: She acts as a spiritual guide to Pocahontas throughout the film.

Thomas

Voiced by: Christian Bale

  • Adorkable: For being naive, inexperienced, clumsy, and frequently picked on by Ratcliffe.
  • Anti-Villain: Type IV. He's not a villain at all, and he only killed Kocoum to save John's life.
  • Big "NO!": Standing up to Ratcliffe of all people was pretty epic on his part.
  • Break the Cutie: After being insulted for being a poor sailor, soldier, and shooter throughout most of the movie, when the poor guy finally becomes more competent and thinks he's doing right by shooting Kocoum to save John's life, he only manages to make things worse.
  • Butt Monkey: Thomas throughout 3/4 of the movie—he nearly drowns (mere minutes into the movie), is clumsy, can't shoot and is manipulated by Ratcliffe.
  • Cool Big Bro: In the opening sequence, he can be seen saying goodbye to his parents and his younger sister.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Apparently, killing a man as a part of shooting him never occurred to him.
  • Grew a Spine: After being generally incompetent and obedient throughout most of the story, Thomas stands up to Ratcliffe at the end and takes command after John is shot.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Subverted. He is not a villain and he is ineffective for the most part, but the instant he does become effective, he screws the plot over.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Though they are a darker shade than the typical "baby blue".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After shooting Kocoum.
  • Naïve Newcomer: By a very loose interpretation of this trope, arguably the rest of the English colonists qualify as well. They were greatly misinformed or uninformed about the realities of the New World.
  • Nice Guy: He's John's innocent and well-meaning best friend.
  • Nice Hat: Seen being put on his head by a little kid at the beginning, returned to him after he is fished out of the sea, and worn by him throughout almost the entire movie.
  • Redhead In Green: The only settler, in fact, who wears this color. Can also be seen as Color-Coded for Your Convenience, representing his naivete.
  • Red-Headed Hero: As far as hero goes.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: He shot Kocoum only because the man was very clearly doing his utmost to kill John.
  • Teens Are Short: Much shorter than the statuesque Pocahontas.

    The Villains 

Governor John Ratcliffe

Voiced by: David Ogden Stiers
"Think how they'll squirm when they see how I glitter!"

  • Authority in Name Only: Although he does command the mission, he isn't very highly regarded back in England. Not at all, actually.
  • Badass Boast: Radcliffe is constantly making threats.
  • Badass Cape: Part of his outfit in "Savages".
  • Badass In Charge: He's a Governor.
  • Badass Mustache: Sports an impressive one.
  • Bad Boss: Radcliffe has shown that he is not very nice to his men and treats them horribly.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Waging war against the natives. Sure, Smith was in very real mortal peril (although there was no way Pocahontas was going to let him die) but Ratcliffe actually didn't give a rat's ass about Smith's life. In fact, he wanted to rid himself of Smith. Also, he ordered for anyone who wouldn't shoot a native at sight to be hanged for treason. So by his own laws, Smith would have to be considered a bloody traitor.
  • Big Bad: But because of his weak showing in terms of villainy, he is overshadowed by the themes of hate and xenophobia, which become the overlapping Bigger Bad.
  • The Bully: Radcliffe picks on Thomas and treats him terribly.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: It is pretty obvious that Radcliffe does not have good intentions.
  • Classic Villain: A combination of Greed and Wrath. Radcliffe wants to own land and have everything that he desires. He desires to control everything and have everything. He is also a bigot and a racist and exhibits hateful behaviour towards Natives, so much that he wants to eradicate them.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: He leads an expedition to Virginia to find gold. His Evil Plan is to colonise the Native-Americans.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Wears purple, and later, dark red-shining black. Though the purple is at least a bit ironic, since that was the color for nobility and royalty.
  • Dark Is Evil: Wears darker clothing with purple.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Radcliffe is very sarcastic and snide.
  • Evil Brit: Ratcliffe is a pretty typical illustration of British bureaucracy from the 1500s. He's also the Big Bad.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Powhatan. Both are commanders of a group of warriors and both have someone prone to overshadowing them (Smith for Ratcliffe, Kocoum for Powhatan). What really sets Ratcliffe apart from Powhatan is his motivation; greed and expansion as opposed to preservation and protection.
  • Evil Is Bigger: Due to his Large and In Charge status, he's much bigger than his men.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Everything about Radcliffe is over the top.
  • Evil Is Petty: A xenophobic and horrifyingly racist elitist bastard, and a bully to Thomas.
  • Evil Wears Black: Most of his attire is black.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He is quite calm and collected for most of the two films, but he's also a very cruel and ruthless man.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Well, if your Get Rich Quick Scheme was to find gold in Virginia... yeah.
  • Fat Bastard: Fat, check. Jerkass, oh so check.
  • Fat Idiot: He's kind of this too since he displays extreme bigotry and ignorance.
  • Feudal Overlord: He orders the settlers to build a fortress, burn down trees and attack the natives, all to dig up gold which isn't actually present. He didn't have permission by any member of the royal family to do this.
  • Greed: He is unbelievably greedy, as evidenced by his insatiable craving for gold.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real John Ratcliffe seems to have been more foolishly trusting than villainous. By the way, he was tortured to death (flayed alive, actually) by the Powhatan Indians, who seem to have received a bit of a Historical Hero Upgrade in the movie.
  • If I Were a Rich Man: Combined with I Just Want to Be Special.
  • Implausible Deniability: Denies to himself that there is no gold, just to reassure himself he won't have to return to England having failed his last assignment.
  • Ironic Echo: "And he came so highly recommended." Ratcliffe says it of Wiggins after perceiving the latter to be inept; Wiggins utters the very same line tearfully after seeing Ratcliffe being taken away for his crimes.
  • It's All About Me: "This is MY land! I make the rules here!" He did absolutely nothing besides shooting Nanutek.
  • Jerkass: Obnoxious, selfish, racist and all-around unpleasant.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: There is nothing good about Radcliffe and he is irredeemable.
  • Kick the Dog: His constant belittling of Thomas counts as this.
  • Large and In Charge: He's the Fat Bastard leader of the English settlers.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Crosses it by trying to shoot Chief Powhatan, in-universe. For the audience, he could have crossed the line way earlier for his disregard of other cultures and their significance, but to be fair, every single British person in the movie (and all but one of the natives for that matter) thought like that.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Ratcliffe. Ironically, his real-life counterpart did bear that name.
  • Nice Hat: Always seen wearing a hat as part of his attire.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Although it had to be toned down, since this is a Disney movie.
  • Reality Ensues: In the sequel, the court believed Ratcliffe's version of events, because his social standing is higher than John Smith's.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: To Thomas.
    Ratcliffe: Oh, and Thomas... you've been a slipshod sailor and a poor excuse for a soldier. ''Don't'' disappoint me again.
  • Sissy Villain: "Remember when Disney used to make COOL villains?" It's mostly his vanity, social climbing, and mannerisms that make him appear sissy. He's more than willing to lead the settlers into battle himself.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He shows great confidence, despite the fact that his fellow members of the court consider him a "pathetic social climber".
  • Smug Snake: Overconfident? Check. Sarcastic? Check. Not that much of a villain? Double check.
  • Talking to Himself: See the voice actor for Ratcliffe's lackey, Wiggins.
  • Villain Song: Mine, Mine, Mine and most of Savages.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Doubles for a 0% Approval Rating. While his men and underlings greatly trust and admire him at least at first, everyone in the palace, as Wiggins denotes, thinks of him as a pathetic social climber, whose last chance of glory is a semi-prestitious journey they actually deem doomed to fail. Ratcliffe even fantasizes about proving those "royal backstabbers" wrong by returning with eons of gold.

Wiggins

Voiced by: David Ogden Stiers

  • Minion with an F in Evil: To Ratcliffe. While his boss is a bad guy, Wiggins is not evil at all, just clueless and foolish.
  • Nice Guy: Never personally hated the Natives.
  • Non-Action Guy: Particularly evident when you compare him to the other settlers, who are all manly looking.
  • Ironic Echo: "And he came so highly recommended."
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Is briefly seen securing Ratcliffe's armor during the beginning notes of "Savages", before disappearing and only reappearing in the final scene to comment on Ratcliffe's betrayal.
  • Sissy Villain: Leave out the "villain" part.
  • Talking to Himself: See Ratcliffe's voice actor.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: By means of making a joke, he inadvertedly inspires Ratcliffe's theory of the Natives harboring the gold for themselves.
  • Yes-Man: Through most of the movie Wiggins is seen following Ratcliffe's banal orders.

Ben and Lon

Voiced by: Billy Connolly (Ben), Joe Baker (Lon)

"It could look like Ratcliffe's behind for all I care."

    Animals 

Meeko

Voiced by: John Kassir

  • Big Eater:
    John Smith: Is this bottomless pit a friend of yours?
  • Cartoony Tail: Meeko has a tail that looks really thick at the base and tapers to a fine point, whereas real raccoons usually have tails with a blunt tip or have one that at least doesn't taper so much.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Steals John Smith's compass early in the movie. When he returns it to Pocahontas, she is left to realize that it is the spinning arrow from her dream and thus pointing her toward her destiny of saving John Smith.

Flit

Voiced by: Frank Welker

Percy

Voiced by: Danny Mann

  • Butt Monkey: It would seem that pretty much the entire universe started to completely hate him as soon as he landed in America. He's quite frequently tripping, falling from high heights, or smashing into things, all because he happens to be the villain's dog at least before he switches owners. However, no one likes torturing him more than Meeko the raccoon.
  • Empathy Pet: After becoming Pocahontas's pet.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Percy is very quick to anger, but he has a longer fuse than most people on the list. Plus, there is generally a very good reason for him to get angry.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Unsurprisingly, his loyalties shift to Pocahontas once Grandmother Willow shuts him up. He still doesn't quite like Meeko though.
  • Heroic BSOD: Percy gets one after witnessing a talking tree and a murder in quick succession.
  • Perpetual Frowner: In the beginning of the series. He grows out of it, though.