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Characters / James and the Giant Peach

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    James Henry Trotter 
Movie Played by: Paul Terry

The protagonist of the story, a young boy who yearns to get away from his horrible life with his abusive aunts.

  • The Ace: Since the bugs are all rather incompetent when it comes to finding practical solutions to problems they run into, James is the one they turn to for it, and as time goes on they also start to acknowledge him as their leader.
  • Adaptational Wimp: James is a lot less outgoing in the film than his book counterpart, and ultimately has to take a level in badass to prove himself - this happens once his plan to get the peach out of the water works.
  • Big "NO!": He exclaims, "No!" in the film when he gets separated from the bugs as they near New York City and the Rhino attacks them.
  • Break the Cutie: His life with his parents before the rhinoceros ate them was an extremely positive and James could never have been happier - but once he starts life with Sponge and Spiker, he loses his cheerful nature and becomes totally miserable.
  • Character Development: In the movie, he starts off being very shy and vulnerable, especially around his aunts, but as time goes on, he gets braver and is able to give them a piece of his mind.
  • Cheerful Child: In the book, James is actually quite upbeat and extroverted, which contrasts pretty starkly with his movie counterpart, who is considerably quieter and more worrisome.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: His parents' death happens so quickly that it might as well just be a parody of this trope.
  • Dream Sequence: He has a nightmare in the film about a caterpillar version of himself being threatened by Sponge and Spiker, who try to unleash the rhino on him after they spot him eating "their" peach.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Both the book and the movie make it quite clear that he would have felt better about being eaten by the rhino than going to live with Sponge and Spiker.
  • Friendless Background: During his time with his aunts he was given no one to befriend and was kept around the house 24/7.
  • Friend to Bugs: He makes friends with all the bugs.
  • Happily Adopted: By the end, the bugs all adopt him and treat him like their own son, something that James is clearly happy about.
  • The Hero: Not at the beginning, but when the bugs start to look at him as their leader and the brains of the group, he becomes brave and fearless enough to have this title.
  • Hey, You!: Sponge and Spiker call him multiple names like a "lazy bug", "filthy nuisance", or "worthless little nothing". They apparently never call him by his real name.
  • I'm Not Afraid of You: Says this exact phrase twice when facing the rhino near the end of the film.
  • "I Want" Song: He has his own musical number in the film, "My Name is James", which is about his longing to get out into the world and make something of himself.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: The end of the book says that he wrote the story himself as a way to respond to visitors continuously begging him to tell them about his adventure. The film does this too, but not quite as directly, saying again that James' visitors endlessly wanted to hear the story be told, but following it up with "he wished for a way to share it with everyone ... and that is exactly what you have just seen."
  • Little "No": In the film when he finds that Sponge and Spiker have followed him to New York, he mutters, "No".
  • Make a Wish: He makes one through his aforementioned musical number, and it is also what leads him to getting the crocodile tongues.
  • Nice Guy: Despite all he had to go through for the time he was living with his aunts, James is still a kindhearted, optimistic and forward-looking young man.
  • Nightmare Dreams: In the movie, he has a nightmare about being a caterpillar and his aunts (who are still humans) chasing him.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: He is able to stand up to both the rhino and his aunts at the end of the film.
  • One-Book Author: James was Paul Terry's only film role. He retired from acting after participating in the series Microsoap, and would later move on to become a maths teacher and novelist.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Does this in the movie right before he starts giving his aunts what for.
    James: No I'm not.
    Spiker: What did you say?
    James: I said ... No! I'm! Not!
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gives a big one to both his aunts in the film after they find him in New York, calling them out on their abusive behaviour towards him and denouncing them as the real worthless nothings. Of course, Sponge and Spiker do not take this well.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: In the movie, he, Miss Spider and the Centipede demonstrate this by being able to speak and fight undead pirates in freezing cold Arctic water. (It could possibly be an effect of the crocodile tongues, though.)
  • Took a Level in Badass: He has his first heroic moment when he saves himself, the peach and the bugs from becoming sharks' lunch by attaching seagulls to the stem of the peach, and this moment thus promotes him to The Hero.
  • Toon Transformation: In the film, James goes from live-action to stop motion after swallowing a crocodile tongue. He reverts back to live-action after he lands on the Empire State Building and coughs out the crocodile tongue.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: There is a scene in the film where convinces the Earthworm to stop being so negative about how the latter handled the shark attack, calling him a hero.

    Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker 
Movie Played by: Miriam Margolyes and Joanna Lumley

James' cruel and neglectful aunts who constantly nag him to do every last household chore and keep him cooped up in the household like a prisoner.

  • Adaptational Villainy: They were certainly evil in the book, but in the movie, they actually try to kill James towards the end.
  • Abusive Parents: Another way to put that would be "Abusive Relatives of Good Parents", since they are James' aunts, after all.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: They die in the book and, because they were so evil, James and the bugs sing rhymes about their deaths.
  • Asshole Victim: In the book, they get crushed to death the peach once it starts rolling away. The film averts this, as they are in their car when it rolls over them, and they both survive.
  • Ax-Crazy: Towards the end of the film, they try to kill James with axes, complete with slasher smiles.
  • Cartoon Bug-Sprayer: In the film, they use this on a bug version of James in a nightmare he was having - they unleash the rhino on him through it.
  • Child Hater: They have no qualms at all about being inexcusably cruel to young children in general, not just James.
  • The Determinator: After "their" peach disappears in the movie, they go to ridiculously great lengths to try and get it back, even going as far as the Arctic.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: They shoo a little girl away in the film all because she wanted to touch the peach.
  • Fat and Skinny: One of the greatest exemplifications of this trope out there. This is taken to an extreme in the book, where Sponge looks like she would be more of a perpetual waddler than a walker, while Spiker would be thin enough to be easily bendable and do a forward roll without cracking anything. Downplayed in the film, where they are just typical fat and skinny.
  • Fat Bastard: Sponge. She may not be quite as bad as Spiker when it comes to total obnoxiousness, but she is certainly obese and very despicable.
  • Faux Affably Evil: They come across this when they invite people to look at the peach ... and then force James to clean up after them.
  • Gonk: In the film, they are made to look as grotesque as possible, especially noticeable in Spiker's case, seeing as she was played by former model Joanna Lumley.
  • Greed: They use the peach as a tourist trap, with tickets only being one shilling. Only newborn babies (under six weeks old) are half-price, and those with cameras are charged double.
  • Hate Sink: They serve as an object for hate, since the story has no real Big Bad.
  • Hey, You!: They never refer to James by his real name and only call him such derogatory names like "disgusting little beast" and "miserable creature".
  • Humiliation Conga: They go through one of these, courtesy of the bugs, at the end of the film, where they are both wound up in Miss Spider's silk and thrown out of New York by the crane holding them.
  • Jerkass: Foul-tempered, abusive, apathetic, greedy and self-centred.
  • Karmic Death: In the book, they trip over each other and both get crushed by the peach during their struggle to get up. Averted in the movie, where the peach runs over their car, and they both survive.
  • Kick the Dog: Dear God, they love doing this to no end - just look at how they treat James for all that time and the Disproportionate Retribution they give to that girl who wanted to touch the peach.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: See Humiliation Conga above. James, with the help of the bugs, is able to finally give them what they have been deserving for all that time and bring them to their supposed unfortunate end.
  • Lean and Mean: Spiker is "thin as a wire", and may be the meaner one of the two - this is shown in the film when she gets Sponge to whip James, before Sponge responds with, "It's too early".
  • No Sympathy: They wouldn't have the slightest care if James wore himself out or got hurt doing one of those household chores.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the book, they are crushed to death by the peach, whereas in the movie, they survive.
  • Weight Woe: Zigzagged for Sponge. She sees herself as beautiful, but Spiker insults her for being fat. She shrugs this off, but the poem the bugs write about her has her trying to lose weight.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Cruel as they are, it takes a special kind of cruel to think of giving your offspring the names they have.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Well, wicked aunts, but they are perfect qualifiers for this even with that little difference.
  • Would Hurt a Child: They beat James regularly while he was living with them for the most mundane reasons and try to axe him in the movie when he exposes their poor treatment of him to the New Yorkers.
  • You Are Fat: In the poem they recite, Spiker calls Sponge ugly for having a fat belly.

Movie Played by: Richard Dreyfuss

A member of the group of bugs that James befriends. He is self-centred and narcissistic, and takes longer to warm up to James than most of the others, but eventually accepts him into the surrogate family that has been formed in the end.

  • Adaptational Jerkass: He is vain and attention-seeking in both incarnations, but in the film he is so in an aggressive fashion rather than in a mischievous one in the book.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: However, there is also a pivotal point in the film where he realises what a fool he has been when everyone is stuck in the Arctic and could potentially die because of him. It's something that his book counterpart would never have done, so it's certainly saying a lot.
  • Alien Lunch: In both the book and the movie, he sings a song about some of the finest dishes a bug could ever have such as "pickled spines of porcupines", "earwigs cooked in slime" and "curried slugs". In the book, he sings it alone, while in the film, some of the other bugs take up a few of the verses.
  • And I Must Scream: At one point in the book, he gets coated with paint that dries quickly, making him immobile and only able to communicate through muffled noises. Earthworm sees it as an improvement, and is very disappointed when the paint gets washed off.
  • Attention Whore: Very much so. Out of the entire group of bugs, he is the one that strives to always have the attention of everyone else, much to their annoyance.
  • Brooklyn Rage: In the film, he has a thick Brooklynese accent and is quite fierce-tempered, courtesy of Richard Dreyfuss voicing him. He even lampshades it after the robotic shark is defeated:
    "That'll teach you to mess with me, you overgrown sardine! I'm from Brooklyn!
  • Butt-Monkey: Centipede suffers the most abuse out of any character that is not James, and in the book he's quite proud of that - he doesn't take anything away from it.
  • Character Development: In the film, however, he goes through a significant arc: he starts off as the Miles Gloriosus he is in the book, always making rousing speeches and bold claims but proving to be extremely incompetent when it comes to getting everyone out of a bad situatuion. He eventually realises how selfish he has been and turns himself into a pure-hearted hero.
  • Curse Cut Short: When he gets caught by the undead skeleton pirates, he yells, "HOLY SHIPWRECK!!!". Sounds very much like he was going to say something else, doesn't it?
  • Dead Hat Shot: In the film, this appears to be his fate, but he survives.
  • Dem Bones: Again in the film, he, James and Miss Spider face a band of undead skeleton pirates in a shipwreck underwater.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He is by far the most sarcastic member of the main cast, and he frequently expresses his sarcasm quite openly and loudly, so the "deadpan" part could be downplayed.
  • Defrosting Ice King: He is something of this towards James in the film; he is the one who takes the longest to warm up to him.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: In the book, the Cloud People are pretty sinister from the get-go, but are too astonished at the sight of the flying peach to attack, so naturally, the Centipede calls them names and makes rude gestures just to prove he's not afraid of them. This is something the others call him out on for, but by then, the damage has already been done and the peach is well and truly under attack.
  • Extreme Omnivore: The song he and the others sing about "eating the peach" is about a few of the many scrumptious dishes he's eaten over the course of his life, all of which are quite ... exotic.
  • Foil: He and Miss Spider in the movie have a similar arc that involves defrosting, but while Miss Spider is reserved and aloof towards the other bugs but loving and affectionate towards James, Centipede acts outgoing among the others and is rather slow to accept James into the group.
  • The Gadfly: He frequently drives the others nuts for his own amusement.
  • Good Is Not Nice: He is extremely proud of that in the book and stubbornly refuses to change. In the movie, he starts off as this, but gets nicer as things progress.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the film, he jumps into freezing Arctic waters to save everyone's lives, but ultimately survives.
  • Interspecies Romance: Has one with Miss Spider in the movie after returning from the Arctic waters alive.
  • Jerkass Realization: In the film, he is absolutely devastated when he realises what his selfish behaviour has led to, prompting him to make his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Centipede may be boastful, sarcastic and attention-seeking, but aside from that he is laid-back and goodhearted, and he does care for his friends. He really isn't that bad of a person at the end of the day.
  • Karmic Death: In the book, he sums up the deaths of Sponge and Spiker as a result of them killing Miss Spider's uncle - after all, everyone knows it's bad luck to kill a spider.
  • Large Ham: He was excitable and dramatic in the book, but it stands out more in the movie. Certainly fitting for him when you have Richard Dreyfuss voicing him!
  • Meat-O-Vision: At one point in the film before the "Eating the Peach" song, he is so hungry that he starts to see everything and everyone around him as food.
  • Miles Gloriosus: In spades. In the book, he's always going on about what a dangerous pest he is, but he's really pretty harmless. In the movie, he also brags about being a globetrotter, but his knowledge about navigation and geography are severely lacking. Turns out all his knowledge comes from the time when he lived between two pages of an old issue of the National Geographic magazine.
    "Very informative magazine, the National Geographic. Wonderful pictures."
  • The Millstone: In the book, his sole contribution to the party is gnawing over the peach stalk and getting it rolling. After that, he mainly makes nuisances of himself (though he does get some of the funniest lines and sings most of the books' songs).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After getting the peach lost and hearing everyone talk about meeting their end in the Arctic, he is utterly ashamed of himself. This prompts him to jump into the water to find a compass and ultimately save everyone's lives.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: This hits him hard in the movie when the others call him out on his Blatant Lies and turn their backs on him. Cue him pulling off his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: To an extent, he is the Mean when compared to the other two male bugs - the Old Green Grasshopper being the Nice due to being the friendliest of the three and the most supportive of James, and the Earthworm being the In-Between due to being overly pessimistic and cynical but not doing anything insensitive like the Centipede.
  • No Name Given: He's just "the centipede".
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In the movie, Centipede starts to fend off the skeleton pirates before James and Miss Spider return to the surface. Cue the Dead Hat Shot which indicates his apparent fate, but then he emerges from the water completely alive and unharmed.
  • Papa Wolf: He eventually shares this with the Old Green Grasshopper in the film. Don't threaten James in their presence - you'll regret it.
  • Shout-Out: Jack Skellington's cameo is made very evident by the Centipede's line "A skellington? Jackpot!"
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: He engages in this in both the book and film with different characters - in the book, the Earthworm is his rival due to his crippling pessimism, while in the film Miss Spider does this with him.
  • Someone's Touching My Butt: A moment in the film where all the lights are out and everyone is in a heap. Centipede tries to pinch Miss Spider but ends up doing so to the Earthworm. In retaliation, Miss Spider tries to smack him but ends up smacking the Old Green Grasshopper instead.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: In the movie, he, James and Miss Spider pull this off while by being able to speak and fight undead pirates in freezing cold Arctic water. (It could possibly be an effect of the crocodile tongues, though.)
  • Took a Level in Badass: Centipede is, when first introduced, extremely incompetent when it comes to getting the others out of a big problem. However, after pulling his Heroic Sacrifice, he becomes a true hero and earns back the respect of the other bugs.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Whilst in the book, he retains his snobbish attitude throughout as a result of being a Static Character, but in the film, he learns from his mistakes and becomes nicer to his friends as the things progress, particularly to James.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: He sings one about Sponge and Spiker in the book after Miss Spider expresses her sadness over the death of her father. It's a rare example when it's sung after the villains' death.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: At the end of the book, he becomes the spokesperson for a high-class firm of shoe and boot manufacturers, while in the film, he steps into politics to run for Mayor of New York, promising "The Moon and then some", although it's not made clear as to whether he won or not.

    Old Green Grasshopper 
An elderly grasshopper who makes music (actual music, not just grasshopper sounds) with his body. He is one of the wisest bugs.

  • Cool Old Guy: He's said to be old and he's wise and a good musician.
  • No Name Given: He doesn't really have a name, but people always put "Old, Green" before his species, so "Old Green Grasshopper" is sort of his title.
  • Your Size May Vary: In the book, he's the size of a large dog, but in the movie, he's several times taller than James.

A pessimistic, blind earthworm. He is the one who has the most rivalry with the centipede.

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: He wears a hat and sunglasses in the movie.
  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: Like all worms, he eats dirt, which he talks about to James in the book.
  • The Eeyore: Always points out the negative and complains a lot. One time, he even complains about there being no problem.
  • Literal-Minded:
    • In the book, when James says, "Can't you see that...?", he replies, "How can I see? I'm blind!"
    • In the movie, James says that he defeated a giant shark single-handedly, to which the worm replies, "No-handedly!".
  • No Name Given: His name is never revealed in the book or the film.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He and the Centipede have the biggest rivalry but are also friends.

Another one of the big bugs. She is one of the friendlier bugs and doesn't tend to insult people like the Earthworm and Centipede do.

  • Eat Dirt, Cheap: In the movie, she's the one who sings the "plate of soil with engine oil" line in the "Eating the Peach" song.
  • Extreme Omnivore: According to the "Eating the Peach" song in the movie, she eats engine oil, which is not usually what ladybugs eat.
  • Friend to All Children: Not only does she love James, her biggest fear in the book is finding out that her house is on fire and her children all gone. She also happily anticipates being surrounded by children in the "That's the Life for Me" song in the movie.
  • Nature Lover: In the movie, when the bugs are singing "That's the Life for Me", she enthuses about sunshine, a park, and flowers.
  • No Name Given: Like most of the other bugs, her real name isn't revealed.
  • Unnamed Parent: Her name isn't revealed and she apparently has four hundred larvae.

    Miss Spider 
The only bug with a real name, she is (as her name implies) a spider.

  • Artistic License – Biology: She weaves nylon at the end of the book.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: She's a spider, and in the movie she was quite gothic, but she is very benevolent.
  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider: She becomes one of James's best friends, almost a family member.
  • Goth: In the movie, she looks forward to being near a dead oak tree at night with "putrid vapors rising".
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: She mentions in the book that she, and her species in general, are often judged negatively, but they do nothing but good.
  • Species Surname: The "Miss" in her name implies that "Spider" is her last name.

One of the bugs. She provides lighting for the peach's interior.

  • No Name Given: Like most of the bugs, her name isn't revealed.
  • Vague Age: Is treated like an adult, but in real life, glowworms are larvae.

A sleepy silkworm who has the least dialogue. She doesn't feature in the movie.

The rhinoceros that ate James's parents. In the movie, a smoke version of it appears inexplicably just before the peach reaches New York.

    James' parents 
The parents of James, who unfortunately got eaten by the rhino.

     Relatives of the Bugs 
In the book, Miss Spider's uncle and grandmother are mentioned, as are the ladybug's four hundred children.


     The Police 
Several police officers that work in New York.

     Cloud Men 
Mysterious people made of cloud that work to make weather.

  • Freeze Sneeze: Discussed when they anticipate sneezing and nose-blowing as a response to the hailstorm they make.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: When the Centipede insults them, they throw things at him.
  • One-Gender Race: Apparently, there are no cloud women.

     Seagulls and Sharks 
A flock of seagulls that drive the peach along, and some sharks (there was only one in the movie) that tried unsuccessfully to eat the peach.

  • Grey and Gray Morality: The seagulls tried to eat the Earthworm, but they also aided James and the bugs in their trip.
  • Threatening Shark: Downplayed for the sharks, who churned the water to a froth, but didn't eat or harm anyone.
  • The Voiceless: They can't talk.

     Mysterious Old Man 
The guy who sold James the crocodile tongue pills.


Example of: