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Characters / The Thief and the Cobbler

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Characters who appear in The Thief and the Cobbler and tropes associated with them.

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Titular Characters

Voiced by: Sean Connery (workprint), Steve Lively (Allied Filmmakers), Matthew Broderick (Miramax)

The Hero, and one of the two titular characters. Initially a simple cobbler working in the Golden City, he soon finds himself fighting along Princess Yum-Yum to save their city.

  • Adorkable: Just look at him while he's fixing Yum-Yum's shoe. The Miramax version even describes him as being "too shy to speak."
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Tack gains a nice tan by the end. See Clark Kent Outfit below.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Tack is quite polite and sweet, but isn't a pushover.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Silent as he is, Tack isn't one to be messed with.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: Tack is surprisingly tall and muscular when he stands up straight and half of his clothes have been ripped off in the final fight; this is more obvious in the original storyboards (and VERY clear in a concept drawing in the Recobbled DVD extras), as the animation finished by Calvert (which the Recobbled Cut uses to some extent) is very Off-Model. This is probably part of his Coming of Age story, along with getting a handsome tan and starting to talk.
  • Clothing Damage: Gets some during the climax.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He pulls off a Tied-Together-Shoelace Trip on Roofless, and defeats Zigzag during their brief fight in the Calvert and Miramax versions by stitching his robe together.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: His color scheme consists of black, white, and grey. Plus, he's The Hero.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Tack's color palette is mainly white with shades of grey and black, in contrast to the colorful characters and sets around him.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: For most of the movie, he has unnaturally pale skin, which is a stark contrast for the rest of the main cast. About two-thirds through the movie, he suddenly gains a tan.
  • Fingore: At the film's beginning, he accidentally hits his own thumb with a hammer in his sleep. In retrospect, that might explain why both thumbs are bandaged.
  • Friend to All Living Things: During his time in prison, he gave away his bread, his only food, to some hungry mice.
  • Good Morning, Crono: A non-game example; Tack's first scene is of him sleeping.
  • Heroic Mime: In the original workprint and Recobbled Cut, he only says one line throughout the entire film. Averted in the Calvert and Miramax versions.
  • Humble Hero: Tack never shows any arrogance, even when he does something amazing.
  • The Klutz: Goes hand-and-hand with his dorky nature.
  • Meaningful Name: "Tack" is an item he uses in his profession as a cobbler. Also see the No Mouth section.
  • Narrator All Along: In the Calvert and Miramax versions, he narrates the story.
  • Nice Guy: Tack is a sweet, selfless, brave, and caring young man.
  • Nice Hat: Wears a grey hat for most of the film.
  • No Mouth: His mouth is largely represented by the tacks he holds in his mouth, which change their angles to represent his expression and mood, pointing upwards into a "smile" when happy or pleased, or falling downwards with more negative emotions.
  • Official Couple: With Princess Yum-Yum.
  • Pauper Patches: His clothes are patched up in many places.
  • Pretty Boy: Not many boys his age can successfully pull off Puppy-Dog Eyes that well.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Frequently. D'awwww.
  • The Quiet One: He only has one line in the original workprint.
  • Rags to Riches: From a simple cobbler to the prince of the Golden City.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The quiet Savvy Guy to Yum-Yum's bubbly Energetic Girl.
  • Spanner in the Works: At least in the Recobbled Cut. Weaponized to a superpower: with nothing but a tack launched slingshot-like with thread, and a needle, he manages to not only unhorse Zig Zag and tie his hands, but the ricochet effect of this flying tack sets off a Rube Goldberg Device against One-Eye's war machines and all of his troops.
  • Tied-Together-Shoelace Trip: Pulls this off against Roofless.
  • Title Character: He's "the Cobbler" in the title.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Was a regular cobbler at the beginning. But, during his adventures he does incredible feats. One example was being able to win a fight against Zigzag, the man who tossed Tack around like a ragdoll when they met.
  • Vocal Dissonance: When he finally speaks, it's with a surprisingly deep voice.

    The Thief
Voiced by: N/A (original), Ed E. Carroll (Allied Filmmakers), Jonathan Winters (Miramax)

The other title character, a nameless very persistent thief. His theft of the Three Golden Balls kicks off much of the plot.

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: He's greenish-brown.
  • Born In The Theater: At the end of the movie, he literally steals the film off of the projector and makes off with it.
  • Butt-Monkey: Nothing goes right for him until the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In the workprint and Recobbled Cut, he uses the back scratchers he stole from YumYum to escape getting his hands cut off.
  • Clutching Hand Trap: At one point, he sees a bottle filled with jewels. Unfortunately, the jewels are too big for him to get past the opening. He won't let go of the diamond, even when the palace guards have him surrounded.
  • Deadpan Snarker: His inner monologue as provided by Jonathan Winters in the "finished" versions. Tends to provoke a polarizing response, with some finding it obnoxious and distracting, while others think it (along with the animation) is the only thing that makes those cuts watchable
  • Determinator: When he sees something shiny, there's no stopping him.
  • Deuteragonist: To Tack's protagonist, as he's responsible for kicking off the plot.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: An old lady turns out to be a martial artist, a bed turns out to be a pack of giant, angry guard dogs, the polo players constantly hit him... and the giant war machine has such things as a giant flyswatter, a giant broom and a giant iron.
  • Fatal Flaw: His biggest flaw is that he just doesn't know when to stop stealing, which always causes him to lose everything. Best shown in the intro when he tries to steal a bundle of bananas from YumYum's nanny, only to have more loot than he could possibly physically carry beaten out of him and be forced to abandon all of it. By the end of the Recobbled Cut, he finally learns his lesson, realizing that the Golden Balls just aren't worth all the hell he's been through the whole movie.
  • Five-Finger Discount: As openly stated in the Miramax cut, he'll steal anything. In one scene, he actually picks his own pocket.
  • Inner Monologue: Is given one courtesy of Jonathan Winters in the Miramax cut. Tack's narration describes him as "a man of few words, but many thoughts."
  • Karma Houdini: At least in the Recobbled Cut. Not only does he escape getting his hands cut, but while flames, crumbling parts of the war machine are falling, spikes, actual swarms of arrows fly at him, and so on, he just walks ahead, bouncing on various springs and going doing slides and stuff, and grabs the golden balls. Nothing hits him at all during this time.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: At the end of the workprint, when he has Tack and the golden balls cornered; having literally been through hell and back trying to get the balls, he decides the balls are more trouble than they're worth and walks off in a huff.
  • No Name Given: He's simply referred to as "the Thief." The narrator notes at the beginning that he "shall be nameless."
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: When he comes across YumYum bathing, he is less concerned about the nude woman in front of him and more concerned about her jewel-encrusted backscratchers.
  • Oh, Crap!: He briefly gets a look of pure terror at being taken to have his hands cut off, before realizing how he can get out of it.
  • The Pig Pen: He's constantly surrounded by flies, and both Tack and YumYum smell him on different occasions, the latter thinking that the smell must be coming from a backed up sewage pipe.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In the original version, he corners Tack and is about to take the balls back, only to then realize they've been more trouble than they're worth, gives a "forget it" gesture, and leaves.
  • Strolling Through the Chaos: By the end of the movie, the Thief has been through so much punishment that his final attempt at grabbing the Golden Balls consists of him casually walking through One-Eyes' collapsing war machine, seemingly completely unaware of how many near-death experiences he has through the whole thing.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: In the Miramax version, after surrendering the golden balls, he is cornered by the King's soldiers...who lift him up in celebration, believing he recovered them. The Thief for once looks rather content with his situation.
  • Title Character: He's "the Thief" in the title.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The stuff that happens to him wouldn't be nearly as funny if he weren't a selfish, unrepentant crook.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His theft of the golden balls, as well as his subsequently losing them to Zigzag, leave the Golden City vulnerable to the One-Eyes.
  • The Voiceless: Unlike Tack, he is completely silent throughout the original. In the other versions, not so much.
  • Villain Protagonist: While he's not the Big Bad, he isn't exactly a good guy either, considering the whole mess is his fault. Miramax apparently felt pity for him and made him an Accidental Hero when the King believes that he recovered the golden balls for the city and he gives the balls back out of guilt (and not wanting to be attacked by the King's guards).

Golden City Royalty and Associates

    Princess YumYum
Voiced by: Sara Crowe (workprint), Bobbi Page (Allied Filmmakers), Jennifer Beals (Miramax)

The princess of the Golden City and Tack's Love Interest.

    King Nod
Voiced by: Anthony Quayle (workprint, announcement), Clive Revill (Allied Filmmakers/Miramax)

The sleepy king of the Golden City.

  • Adult Fear: Understandably freaks out when he sees his daughter right in the path of One-Eye's war machine, and is helpless to save her.
  • Big "NEVER!": Lets one out in the original cut when Zigzag asks for YumYum's hand in marriage in return for the golden balls.
  • Dirty Old Man: In the original cut, Zigzag brings the king a beautiful maiden from a far away land. His first interaction is in a bed with the curtains drawn with the two of them giggling and making some odd noises, and his second is during the polo match where he's deliberately reaching into her palanquin (also with the curtains drawn) as he's falling asleep... which also makes her giggle.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: He has a prophetic dream of the One-Eyes' upcoming invasion.
  • Get Out!: What he screams to Zigzag after letting out the Big "NEVER!".
  • Large Ham: Complete with incongruous close-up shots of his face and mouth.
    King Nod: "The BALLS are GONE! My KINGDOM will COME to destruction AND DEATH!"
  • Meaningful Name: His name is King Nod, and he's always nodding off.
  • Papa Wolf: In the original cut. When Zigzag fools the King into thinking he can "magic the balls back," he requests Princess YumYum's hand in marriage as compensation. The king vehemently refuses to send off his daughter to him. Note that, as far as the king is concerned, this is his only chance to get the balls back and keep his kingdom safe. It's honestly rather badass of the King to do so.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Bravely organizes the defence of the Golden City in preparation of the One-Eyes arrival. This is in stark contrast to his portrayal in the first part of the movie where he's almost comatose.
  • Sleepy Head: Several of his scenes begin with him snoozing.

Voiced by: Joan Sims (workprint), Mona Marshall (Allied Filmmakers), Toni Collette (Miramax)

Princess YumYum's nanny.

  • Adaptational Personality Change: In the workprint and Recobbled Cut, she is quite supportive of Tack and YumYum's budding relationship, whereas in the Calvert and Miramax versions, she's very negative towards Tack early on.
  • Cool Old Lady: Besides being a sweet person, she can give brutal beatdowns despite her old age.
  • Never Mess with Granny: In her Establishing Character Moment, she nonchalantly beats the Thief senseless when he tries to rob her, all while barely looking at him. Later, she manages to beat down quite a few of Roofless' brigands, but they manage to overwhelm her with their numbers.
  • Shipper on Deck: A Tack/Yum-Yum supporter in the workprint and Recobbled Cut.


Voiced by: Vincent Price (all versions)

The Dragon, an Evil Chancellor who has his eyes on the princess and the throne.

  • Actually Pretty Funny: The Miramax edit adds amazed crowd gasps and laughs as Zigzag appeals to One-Eye, making it sound like his barbaric army is genuinely impressed by his trickery.
  • Agony of the Feet: He screams in agony and dances around when he steps on one of Tack's tacks.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: He's blue-skinned.
  • Ambiguously Human: He has blue skin and six-fingered hands, and apparently doesn't need to sleep to sustain his life (the whole point of a deleted scene being that he finds humans foolish to "sleep their lives away" while he "is quite awake"). On top of that, he has very long, coiled feet that spring outward as he walks, though that may just be his shoes rather than his feet. But then, on the other hand, the most obvious feature (the blue skin) may just be a striking consequence of the entire film's use of Amazing Technicolor Population (with purple, green or brown characters all throughout).
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: His plan amounts to him marrying the princess and becoming the king.
  • Beard of Evil: A goatee, no less.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Alongside the Mighty One-Eye after Zigzag gives him the the golden balls to destroy the Golden City. However, he is reduced to being The Dragon to Mighty One-Eye, who is far more dangerous.
  • Bifurcated Weapon: He has a stick that can sprout out hooks, forks and pointy bits from the top.
  • Catch-Phrase: "Have no fear, Zigzag the Grand Vizier is here!"
  • Creepy Long Fingers: His fingers are long enough for him to easily fit several rings on every joint.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "Seeeiizze him! Take him! Seize him! Take him!"
  • The Dragon: Became this to Mighty One-Eye after stealing the golden balls for him.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He has Tack arrested, thrown in prison, and tries to feed him to his vulture Phido simply because he stepped on a tack that Tack dropped by accident. And that's only because YumYum saved his life; Zigzag originally wanted to have him beheaded.
  • Eaten Alive: His final fate; he's torn apart by alligators, with his vulture Phido eating his head.
  • Establishing Character Moment: His entrance is a masterpiece of Show, Don't Tell (in the original, anyway). Even before you see him, you learn from the parade announcing him that he's a high-ranking, powerful, narcissistic and draconic man.
  • Evil Chancellor: He's the grand vizier of the Golden City, and as evil as they come.
  • Evil Is Hammy: He's voiced by Vincent Price in all his glory ("FAT! FAAAAT! FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT!").
  • Evil Is Petty: As stated above, he tries to have Tack executed, and then arrested and fed to Phido, simply because he stepped on a Tack that Tack accidentally dropped.
  • Evil Sorcerer: He claims to be a sorcerer, but it's obvious that all his "magic" is really done by smoke bombs and sleight of hand.
  • Evil Wears Black: He wears a black robe.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Oddly enough, he calmly accepts his fate when the alligators are eating him.
  • Famous Last Words: "For Zigzag, then, it is... the end."
  • Faux Affably Evil: He speaks in rhymes and provides King Nod with a massage and a concubine... all for the purposes of manipulation and distraction.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it scene when he pops up out of the throne room floor, he has pink boxers with purple "Z's" under his robe.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: During Zigzag's death scene, he falls into a pit and is eaten alive by a pack of crocodiles. All that can be seen is a silhouette and a pair of eyes being munched by the crocs' teeth, until all that remains is his still talking head, which is then eaten by his pet vulture. It cuts to complete darkness as his head is eaten.
  • The Heavy: Much of the plot is caused by him trying to take the throne by marrying Yum-Yum then allying with the Mighty One-Eye.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: He spends much of the film abusing his pet vulture Phido. In the end, Phido is the one to finish him off.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: After Vincent Price was cast as Zigzag's voice, his design was modified to resemble Price. This is more obvious when Williams shows his caricature of Price in The Animator's Survival Kit — it resembles Zigzag quite a lot!
  • Just Desserts: His ultimate fate is to be eaten by a bunch of crocodiles and his long-suffering vulture.
  • Laughably Evil: Almost everything he does is horrible, yet he's still one of the funniest characters in the film.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: He takes being Eaten Alive by alligators and Phido quite calmly.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: In contrast, he freaks out EPICALLY both times he steps on Tack's nails.
  • Motive Decay: Zigzag's initial motivation is to "rule in public sight" rather than as The Man Behind the Man to King Nod. He plans ot achieve this by marrying princess Yum Yum, which would apparently make him the new king under the Golden City's laws (this is the part of his scheme that was "borrowed" by Disney for Aladdin. However, after his initial exposition, he behaves for all intents and purposes like he really wants to marry Yum Yum for its own sake; this culminates when, after betraying the city to the One-Eyes, he is happy to have them raze the City to the ground and only leave Yum Yum alive for him to marry.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: He is dismissed and sentenced to execution by an unimpressed One-Eye when he tries to join forces. Zigzag however not only charms his alligators into sparing him but makes them form his means of escape, furiously demanding One-Eye take him seriously. This at the very least leaves One-Eye impressed enough to consider Zig-zag a serviceable pawn.
    Zig-zag: One mistake shall suffice! Do not take me lightly twice!
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Since they don't win, it never comes up, but its heavily implied that this would have been Zig-Zag's "reward" for betraying the city to One-Eye.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Constantly speaks like this.
  • Slasher Smile: Gives one when he faces Tack across the battlefield during the climax.
  • Smug Snake: He's far too trusting in his own abilities; he remarks he can cow the "barbarian" One Eyes with ease, only to find himself surrounded by a litany of swords around his neck and forcing him to resort to a particularly futile offer to King One Eye to spare his own life (King One Eye can visibly be seen getting bored of Zig-Zag's routine there). He's an unusually more effective example in that he manages to trick his way out of the clutches of King One Eye's crocodiles — but even then, One Eye still forces Zigzag to act nothing more than his patsy in front of his army, and those same crocodiles eat him alive later when he can't deliver on his promise to them.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Subverted. The Miramax dub states that he managed to earn King Nod's trust, but no one else's. Not surprising considering how he treats the inhabitants of the Golden City.

    Mighty One-Eye
Voiced by: Paul Matthews (workprint), Kevin Dorsey (Allied Filmmakers/Miramax)

The Big Bad of the film, the leader of a race of one-eyed marauders with designs to take over the Golden City by force.

  • 24-Hour Armor: He and his men are never seen without their bulky plate armor, even while relaxing in their camp they're dressed in full armor.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: He and his men are first introduced as such, standing atop a mountain of Golden City soldiers' corpses.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: With Zigzag after the latter gives him the the golden balls to destroy the Golden City. It's clear he has little to no respect for the sorcerer however, even forcing him to lead the attack on the city from the front lines.
  • Cain and Abel: In the Miramax dub, he's the Cain to the Witch's Abel.
  • Disney Villain Death: In Calvert's version, he's thrown off a cliff.
  • Evil Twin: In the Miramax dub, he's the Witch's evil twin brother.
  • Eviler Than Thou: A minor example. When Zigzag sees the camp of the One-Eyes for the first time, the terrified look on his face clearly shows that he's far from being as evil as those barbarian, decadent warriors. (And that must mean something, given this is the same guy who sentenced a random poor young man to death just because he happened to walk on a tack belonging to the young man.) Later in the same scene, the Mighty One-Eye himself isn't impressed at all by Zigzag's self-publicity and has him thrown to the alligators, because he can tolerate no one who's useless. When Zigzag escapes and angrily demands acknowledgement however, he is impressed enough to promote him to cannon fodder at the front lines.
  • Evil Redhead: Has an almost glowingly red beard.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Two actually, first the scene with the One-Eye's on the battlefield amongst piles of massacred enemies, and then again in their camp when Zig-Zag seeks them out and ends up captured and dragged in front of One-Eye himself sitting on top of his slave women forming a chair.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: His original fate in the workprint; his own slave girls surround him and crush him to death by sitting on him in revenge for being used as a throne.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Calmly listened to Zigzag's proposal of an alliance, only to later scoff and sentence him to be fed to the alligators, though he would later change his mind.
  • Karmic Death: In both the workprint and Calvert versions, he's killed by his own abused slave women.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: He has rows upon rows upon rows of sharp yellow teeth. As in, you can't see the back of his throat even with his mouth wide open
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: He and his army use these colors to overkill. Even his eye is red.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He's practically sobbing in disbelief as his army and formidable death machine falls apart. Because of a tack.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Mighty One-Eye and his massive war machine are undone by... a single tack. Turns out the highly complex and finely tuned war machine cannot handle an added chaotic element, the machine breaks down in a massive way, wiping out most of the soldiers in the process.

Voiced by: Donald Pleasence (workprint and Allied Filmmakers), Eric Bogosian (Miramax)

Zigzag's much abused pet vulture.

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: He wears a fez.
  • The Chew Toy: Much of his screen time consists of him being abused by Zigzag in some way.
  • The Dog Bites Back: After suffering all manner of pain and abuse from Zigzag throughout the film, Phido gleefully jumps down the alligator pit and joins the alligators in eating him at the end of the film.
  • Exposed Animal Bellybutton: He has a very prominent one, even though he's a bird.
  • Rump Roast: He gets his tail feathers set on fire twice throughout the film.
  • Talking Animal: The Miramax cut turns him into this.
  • To Serve Man: In the original cut, he eagerly attempts to eat an imprisoned Tack, while in all versions, he helps the alligators eat Zigzag.


Other Characters

    The Witch
Voiced by: Joan Sims (workprint), Mona Marshall (Allied Filmmakers), Toni Collette (Miramax)

An old witch whom Tack and YumYum consult for advice on how to defeat the One-Eyes.

  • Cain and Abel: In the Miramax dub, she's stated to be the Mighty One-Eyes benevolent twin sister.
  • How Unscientific!: In contrast to Zigzag, who is clearly using sleight of hand and smoke bombs, the Witch's magic is legit.

Example of: