In 1928, Walt Disney had just lost the rights to his biggest cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, to Charles Mintz at Universal Studios and needed a replacement. Ub Iwerks, one of three animatorsnote who had stuck with Walt after the Oswald fiasco, designed a mouse inspired by a pet mouse Walt had back in his farm life. Walt originally intended to name the new character Mortimer Mouse (which would later go on to be the name of the sleazy Casanova Wannabe who would always unsuccessfully pine for Minnie's affection), but his wife, Lillian Bounds, suggested he go with the cuter-sounding name of Mickey. His full name is Michael Theodore Mouse.
And the rest is history.
Getting Mickey off the ground wasn't an easy task, though. Two cartoons, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho, were made and given limited release, but they failed to impress audiences or find a distributor. For the third film, Steamboat Willie, they added a synchronized soundtrack. The addition of sound to the series paid off and made Mickey one of the most prominent cartoon stars of the time.
The early Mickey Mouse cartoons are some of the most prominent examples of Mickey Mousing ever done in a cartoon—it was done to the point where many, many cartoons were built solely around the novelty of the characters being able to tap or move to the beat of the soundtrack.
In his earliest shorts, Mickey was a roguish Anti-Hero, who had no problem drinking beer, smoking and stealing kisses from Minnie. Over the years, he evolved into a more boyish and meek personality with a sense of adventure and playfulness.
In 1935, Mickey's cartoons were upgraded to color, but his days as a headlining star in his own shorts were beginning to end—Pluto the Pup and newcomers Donald Duck and Goofy were soon dominating several of his shorts. This was because the storymen started to run out of ideas for how to keep Mickey's antics interesting through his increasingly softened personality, thus they had to fall back more on the characters that surrounded him to have anything to work with. On top of that, Fleischer Studios unleashed their newest star Popeye in 1933—a gruff, spinach-eating Anti-Hero whose cartoons took the nation by storm, quickly toppling the domesticated Mickey in popularity. Fortunately, Disney's Silly Symphonies kept the studio afloat, especially with the success of The Three Little Pigs that same year.
In 1940, Disney tried to give Mickey a comeback via the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of Fantasia. Unfortunately, the film bombed and thus negated this comeback. During this time, Mickey was slightly redesigned to have more expressive eyes than before.
As time went by, Mickey's shorts became less and less frequent in number, overshadowed by his contemporaries and reduced to a bit player. While another attempt at a comeback was done via the Mickey And The Beanstalk segment of Fun and Fancy Free, it was once again a failure. In 1953, Disney finally retired Mickey, with the last of his original theatrical cartoons being The Simple Things.
It wasn't until 1983 that he would make his cartoon comeback in the featurette Mickey's Christmas Carol. While that film was billed as Mickey's comeback, he was still reduced to a minor role as the character of Bob Crachitt, with Scrooge McDuck headlining the cartoon instead.
In 1990, Disney gave him another featurette, "The Prince and the Pauper", where Mickey received a central role in a cartoon for the first time in decades.
1995 proceeded to give us a Darker and Edgier update of the character, via the theatrical cartoon Runaway Brain, obviously borrowing influence from the more adventurous Mickey of the Floyd Gottfredson comics. Unfortunately, it caused a big stir among parents, causing the short to fall into company Discontinuity and Mickey's theatrical cartoon career was once again put on ice.
In 1999, Disney blessed Mickey with a TV revival called Mickey Mouse Works, later retooled into House of Mouse. Essentially lower budget versions of the original cartoons, both programs went on to be big hits.
In 2004, Mickey recieved a direct-to-video film along with Donald and Goofy called Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers.
In 2006, Mickey received a pre-school show called Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.
In 2010, Disney once again attempted a Darker and Edgier Mickey Mouse story, but this time with a video game—headlined by Warren Spector, creator of Deus Ex and System Shock and then-closet Disney fanboy. The video game, Epic Mickey, brought the mouse back to his roots, reuniting many of the classic Disney characters, including Disney's original cartoon star and Mickey's long-lost half-brother, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Critical reception was hit or miss, but the game was a hit, selling over a million copies on release. A sequel was made called Epic Mickey 2: The Power Of Two, but it didn't sell very well, causing Disney to close down Junction Point Studios so they could detour their gaming production elsewhere, ending the franchise.
The Epic Mickey series wasn't Mickey's only major contribution to the video game medium. In 1990, Disney licensed Castle of Illusion, developed by Sega for the Sega Genesis and Sega Master System. It was a 2D side-scrolling platform game with Mickey as the main character. The game became a major hit and is considered to this day as an all-time classic which even had a sequel: World of Illusion, released in 1992. He also plays a prominent role in the popular Kingdom Hearts series from Square Enix, in which he displays a Badass Adorable personality and Yoda-like combat skills.
In 2013, Disney hired Paul Rudish to produce a series of new Mickey Mouse animated shorts for Disney Channel, Disney.com and Disney's official YouTube channels. The first season began airing on Disney Channel on June 28th of that year, starting with "No Service". The show currently has four seasons and two half-hour specials with a fifth season is in the works. Every short made so far can be seen online here and here.
Also in 2013, Mickey starred in a new theatrical short called Get a Horse!, a throwback to Mickey's early days as a scrappy barnyard character.
In 2017, Mickey received another pre-school show called Mickey and the Roadster Racers, since renamed Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures.
We can still hope that Mickey will go on and on into the future, to be loved by old and new generations.
Despite some people thinking differently, he and Minnie are, by word of their creator, actually happily married outside of their acting careers and just play whatever roles they need to play onscreen at the time. However, Walt did not confirm whether or not the two mice have any children.
His current official voice actor since 2009 is Bret Iwan in all productions except for the Mickey Mouse shorts, Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway, and The Wonderful World of Mickey Mouse, where he is instead voiced by Chris Diamantopoulos. Walt Disney himself was the original voice of Mickey, and Diamantopoulos's vocal portrayal is a throwback to Disney's portrayal.
- Plane Crazy: May 15, Walt Disney: Made in secret by Disney and Ub while they were still finishing the last Oswald cartoons. Ub animated the whole short on two weeks notice. Debut of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Originally a silent cartoon. Runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- The Gallopin' Gaucho: August 2, Walt Disney: Second short produced in the series. Originally a silent cartoon. First time Mickey was shown wearing shoes, and in the middle of the short, his eyes would evolve into his iconic "classic" appearance.
- Steamboat Willie: November 18, Walt Disney: First Mickey Mouse cartoon with sound, the one short that got Disney Studios off the ground and kicked off The Golden Age of Animation. One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- The Barn Dance: March 14, Walt Disney
- The Opry House: March 28, Walt Disney: The first short where Mickey wears his famous White Gloves.
- When the Cat's Away: May 3, Walt Disney: An odd short in the series, depicting Mickey and Minnie as actual household mice.
- The Plow Boy: Walt Disney, June 28: First appearance of Horace Horsecollar.
- The Karnival Kid: Walt Disney, July 31: Mickey's first speaking appearance—his first lines being "Hot dogs!"
- Mickey's Follies: Wilfred Jackson, August 28: First appearance of Patricia Pig, and debut of Mickey's original theme song "Minnie's Yoo Hoo".
- Mickey's Choo-Choo: Walt Disney, October 1
- The Barnyard Battle: Burt Gillett: October 10
- The Jazz Fool: Walt Disney, October 15
- Jungle Rhythm: Walt Disney November 15
- "Haunted House" Walt Disney December 2
- "Wild Waves" Walt Disney December 21
- "The Barnyard Concert" Walt Disney April 5
- "Just Mickey" Walt Disney March 14
- "The Cactus Kid" Walt Disney May 15
- "The Fire Fighters" Burt Gillett July 25
- "The Shindig" Burt Gillett July 29
- "The Chain Gang" Burt Gillett September 5: First appearance of Pluto.
- "The Gorilla Mystery" Burt Gillett October 10
- "The Picnic" Burt Gillett October 23
- "Pioneer Days" Burt Gillett December 5
- "Minnie's Yoo Hoo" Walt Disney December 25: A sing-a-long reel made for the Mickey Mouse Clubs featuring Mickey leading a rendition of the theme song from "Mickey's Follies".
- "The Birthday" Burt Gillett January 7
- "Traffic Troubles" Burt Gillett March 14
- "The Castaway" Wilfred Jackson April 6
- "The Moose Hunt" Burt Gillett May 3
- "The Delivery Boy" Burt Gillett June 13
- "Mickey Step's Out" Burt Gillett July 7
- "Blue Rhythm" Burt Gillett August 18
- "Fishin' Around" Burt Gillett September 25
- "The Barnyard Broadcast" Burt Gillett October 10
- "The Beach Party" Burt Gillett November 5
- "Mickey Cuts Up" Burt Gillett November 30
- "Mickey's Orphans" Burt Gillett December 9
- "Around the World In Eighty Minutes": An otherwise live action feature contains a very brief animated segment featuring the lovable mouse.
- "The Duck Hunt" Burt Gillett January 28
- "The Grocery Boy" Wilfred Jackson February 11
- "The Mad Dog" Burt Gillett March 5
- "Barnyard Olympics" Wilfred Jackson April 15
- "Mickey's Revue" Wilfred Jackson May 25: Debut of Goofy.
- "Musical Farmer" Wilfred Jackson June 23
- "Mickey in Arabia" Wilfred Jackson July 18
- "Mickey's Nightmare" Burt Gillett August 13
- "Trader Mickey" Dave Hand August 20
- "The Whoopee Party" Wilfred Jackson September 17
- "Touchdown Mickey" Wilfred Jackson October 15
- "The Wayward Canary" Burt Gillett November 12
- "The Klondike Kid" Wilfred Jackson November 12
- Parade Of The Award Nominees: November 18: Technically not a Mickey Mouse cartoon, although it does have Mickey appearing in the opening, in his very first color appearance, no less!
- Mickey's Good Deed: December 17
- Building a Building
- The Mad Doctor
- Mickey's Pal Pluto
- Mickey's Mellerdrammer
- Ye Olden Days
- The Mail Pilot
- Mickey's Mechanical Man
- Mickey's Gala Premier
- Puppy Love: First appearance of Minnie's dog Fifi.
- The Pet Store
- The Steeplechase
- Hollywood Party: While this is actually an MGM movie, the bulk of which is live action, Mickey does make a brief appearance, in an interesting live-action / animation encounter with Jimmy Durante.
- Camping Out
- Playful Pluto: A short that has gained recognition among Disney animators for the famous "Flypaper Sequence", a milestone in personality animation.
- Gulliver Mickey
- Mickey's Steamroller
- Orphans Benefit: First appearance by Donald Duck in a Mickey cartoon. First cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy all in the same cartoon, though not performing as a team.
- Mickey Plays Papa
- The Dognapper
- Two-Gun Mickey
- Mickey's Man Friday
- The Band Concert - First full length Mickey Mouse cartoon in color. One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- Mickey's Service Station First cartoon with Mickey, Donald, and Goofy acting as a team. Runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- Mickey's Kangaroo - Last Black & White Mickey Mouse cartoon.
- Mickey's Garden: First time Mickey's Iconic Outfit would be seen in color. Also marks the first time the buttons on Mickey's shorts were depicted as ovals.
- Mickey's Fire Brigade: Second team-up of Mickey, Donald and Goofy. First Disney short that Disney legend Bill Tytla animated on.
- Pluto's Judgement Day: First short where Mickey is redesigned to have a pear-like body.
- On Ice
- Mickey's Polo Team
- Orphan's Picnic
- Mickey's Grand Opera
- Thru the Mirror: Runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- Mickey's Rival
- Moving Day: Runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons. First time Mickey's face was colored with flesh-tones.
- Alpine Climbers
- Mickey's Circus (The first appearance of Salty the Seal)
- Donald & Pluto: Billed as a Mickey Mouse short, although he is completely absent from it.
- Mickey's Elephant
- The Worm Turns
- Magician Mickey
- Moose Hunters
- Mickey's Amateurs
- Hawaiian Holiday: Notable for a scene of animation done by animation veteran Shamus Culhane—he did the sequence of Pluto and his encounter with a pesky crab.
- Clock Cleaners: One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- Lonesome Ghosts: Runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- Boat Builders
- Mickey's Trailer: Runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- The Whalers
- Mickey's Parrot
- Brave Little Tailor: One of The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- Society Dog Show: Last Mickey Mouse Dot-Eyes Cartoon.
- Mickey's Surprise Party: Rare Mickey Mouse short with a Nabisco promotion at the end, made for the World Fair. First appearance of Mickey's "modern" appearance, with a bigger head and redesigned eyes.
- The Pointer: Runner-up on The 50 Greatest Cartoons.
- The Standard Parade
- Tugboat Mickey
- Pluto's Dream House
- Mr. Mouse Takes A Trip
- The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Released as segment #3 in Fantasia and inspired the Sorcerer version of Mickey Mouse that became the studio's corporate icon for home entertainment through the 80's and early 90's with the 1986 Walt Disney Home Video logo and the early 90's Walt Disney Classics logos.)
- The Little Whirlwind
- A Gentleman's Gentleman
- Canine Caddy
- The Nifty Nineties
- Orphan's Benefit: A Shot-for-Shot Remake of the 1934 short.
- Lend a Paw: Semi-remake of "Mickey's Pal Pluto". Also won the 1941 Academy Award, beating out the debut of Max Fleischer's first Superman cartoon.
- Mickey's Birthday Party
- Symphony Hour
- Mickey and the Beanstalk: The second half of the feature film Fun and Fancy Free.
- Mickey's Delayed Date
- Mickey Down Under
- Mickey and the Seal
- R'Coon Dawg
- Pluto's Party
- Pluto's Christmas Tree
- The Simple Things: The last of the original theatrical Mickey Mouse cartoons.
- Mickey Mouse Club: Made appearances in animated openings for the show.
- Mickey's Christmas Carol: Mickey's first film in several decades, although he only plays a minor role in it.
Media featuring Mickey
Notable Mickey shorts:
- "Plane Crazy"
- "Steamboat Willie"
- "The Mad Doctor"
- "Orphans Benefit"
- "The Band Concert"
- "Magician Mickey"
- "Clock Cleaners"
- "Mickey's Polo Team"
- "Moving Day"
- "Lonesome Ghosts"
- "Brave Little Tailor"
- "Mickey's Christmas Carol"
- "The Prince and the Pauper"
- "Runaway Brain"
- "Get a Horse!"
- Fun and Fancy Free
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit — in which it is shown that he and Bugs Bunny actually get along pretty well.
- Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas
- Fantasia 2000
- Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers
- Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas
- The Mickey Mouse Club
- Mickey Mouseworks / House of Mouse
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
- Mickey and the Roadster Racers
- Mickey Mouse
- Mickey Mousecapade
- Castle of Illusion
- Land of Illusion
- World of Illusion
- Mickey's Dangerous Chase
- The Disney's Magical Quest series
- Mickey Mania
- Mickey's Speedway USA
- The Kingdom Hearts series
- The Epic Mickey series
- Disney Infinity (Two playable versions of him exist; a Sorceror's Apprentice variant from 1.0, and a standard figure in 3.0)
Tropes that apply to Mickey:
- Adaptational Badass:
- In all but one of his appearances in the Kingdom Hearts series, Mickey Mouse has apparently taken several. He is not only an amazingly skilled wielder of the Keyblade, but is a beloved king, and a Badass Longcoat in his first real appearance. And that's not counting the fact that his training consisted of his time as the Sorcerer's Apprentice and a musketeer, as revealed in Dream Drop Distance.
- He's also like this in Epic Mickey, but as a pragmatic fighter utilizing a magical brush.
- He was also very much like this in the 1930s-1950s comic strip serials later reprinted as Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, where he was an heroic action-adventure detective with Goofy as a not-too-dumb sidekick. The huge, evil cat Pete (then called Black Pete, or Pegleg Pete if it was a nautical tale) was his constant adversary. Kids could pick up some cool historical and geographical facts in these stories.
- Adaptation Personality Change: Mickey may be an odd variation in that it was his adaptation interpretations that avoided such a change. While the Mickey of Classic Disney Shorts was slowly tamed into The Everyman, the comics continued to refer to his earlier more adventurous and abrasive persona for a long period of time. Epic Mickey even plays with this, allowing you to choose between evolving Mickey into either his former or latter persona.
- Aerosol Spray Backfire: In "Mickey's Garden", Mickey uses a flit gun to fumigate his garden, but after he reloads the gun gets stuck. While trying to clear the tip, Pluto, whose head is stuck inside a pumpkin, accidentally backs up and sprays Mickey in the face, the fumes of the pesticide giving him hallucinations of giant bugs.
- Alice Allusion: The short Thru the Mirror features Mickey walking through a mirror to enter a fantasy land, and battles a deck of playing cards, only to wake up from his dream. To drive the reference home, a copy of Through the Looking-Glass is seen next to Mickey's bed.
- Alliterative Name
- Animated Adaptation: A few of the Mickey Mouse cartoons are based on pre-existing stories, including:
- Giantland and the Mickey and the Beanstalk segment of Fun and Fancy Free is loosely inspired by the traditional English tale of Jack and the Beanstalk (most likely the famous Joseph Jacobs retelling).
- Gulliver Mickey is a loose adaptation of the Lilliput section of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
- Brave Little Tailor is an adaptation of the Brothers Grimm story The Brave Little Tailor.
- The Sorceror's Apprentice segment of Fantasia (later reprised in Fantasia 2000) is set to Paul Dukas' tone poem of the same name (which in turn was based on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's 1797 poem of the same name).
- Mickey's Christmas Carol is a direct adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic story A Christmas Carol.
- The Prince and the Pauper is a loose adaptation of Mark Twain's story The Prince and the Pauper.
- Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is an adaptation of the story The Three Musketeers.
- The Artifact: Some animators noted that as time went by and the characters got more and more realistic, Mickey's old-school abstract design, as well as his perspective-defying ears got more and more outdated and out of place. A full-on redesign was out of the question due to familiarity, so Disney briefly tinkered with Mickey's design in the early 40's, making his design more loose and organic, as well has having his ears work in perspective—this can be seen most prominently in the short "The Little Whirlwind". For some reason, they quickly went back to the original design afterwards. However, the ears not matching up with perspective was Handwaved as early as 1929, in "The Karnival Kid": Those aren't really Mickey's ears—it's a loose fitting hat.
- Art Evolution: Mickey's design has changed in may ways, some subtle and some obvious, since the 1920's.
- Ascended to Carnivorism: "The Worm Turns" is about Mickey inventing a spritzer that can cause prey animals to turn against their respective predators: A fly attacks a spider, a mouse attacks a cat, a cat attacks Pluto, and finally Pluto attacks Pete the dogcatcher.
- Author Avatar: For Walt Disney.
- Badass Adorable: In Kingdom Hearts, Epic Mickey and whenever a short or comic calls for it.
- Bears Are Bad News: Done in The Pointer.
- Beware the Nice Ones: On occasion, especially common in portrayals that try to bring out his adventurous side without eschewing the Nice Guy persona.
- Black Bead Eyes: In his original designs.
- Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: The early cartoons are full of this, with Mickey playing animals like musical instruments by making them squeal. Steamboat Willie is the most famous example; it includes a sow played like an accordion, a cat having its tail pulled and then swung around, and a goose squeezed like a bagpipe.
- Blowing a Raspberry: Used to do this all the time in his early cartoons, all the way back to Steamboat Willie.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In 1931's "The Moose Hunt," after Mickey thinks he's shot Pluto by mistake and mourns over the pup's limp body (Pluto's playing a joke on him), he turns to the audience and tearfully asks, "Is there a doctor in the house?!"
- The Cameo: Mickey appears briefly in the cartoon segment of the live action film "Hollywood Party", alongside Jimmy Durante.
- Captain Ersatz: Of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who was already an ersatz of Felix the Cat. We're not saying Expy here, because Walt technically never owned Oswald to begin with. Mickey would get his own ersatz in short-lived Merrie Melodies star Foxy.
- Cartoon Conductor: Mickey takes this role in The Band Concert.
- Characterization Marches On: Currently: Either the Everyman and the cartoon character that everybody knows and loves, or the Keyblade/Paintbrush-wielding Badass that Kingdom Hearts/Epic Mickey fans know and love.
- 1928: The guy who forced Minnie to kiss him was also a bit of a jerk and didn't mind harming his enemies.
- Mickey in the Walt-era cartoons was prone to almost Bugs Bunny-levels of retribution (such as his magical pranks on Donald in Magician Mickey), and had quite a low tolerance for things not going his way, notably pulling a gun on Donald in Symphony Hour when the Duck tried to ditch a Concert Gone Horribly Wrong.
- Epic Mickey returns to his original characterization, sort of. Mickey's pranks set in motion the dangerous events of the game and he has the option of either helping the inhabitants of the world he inadvertently endangered (becoming The Hero and looking more heroic) or looking out for himself and just trying to get back to his world (becoming The Scrapper and looking more sinister). Essentially, the player has the option of making Mickey like his modern self or his original self.
- Mickey's change in personality over the years could be seen as him growing up as a person.
- Chaste Toons: In his comic strip, he was given a pair of nephews named Morty and Ferdie. They've rarely appeared in animation (their only appearances there being Mickey's Steamroller, a cameo in Boat Builders, and Morty as Tiny Tim in Mickey's Christmas Carol).
- Chastity Couple: By word of Walt, Mickey and Minnie are happily married outside of their acting career, but either do not seem have a sex life, are holding off on lovemaking (or at least Mickey is), or have already made love and bore children but choose to keep it hush-hush in order to protect their family. The short Mickey's Nightmare tries to explore this but uses storks (which are symbolic of womanly fertility) as well as watering a flower garden to symbolize sex. The current powers-that-be appear to have ignored this completely, as the Paul Rudish short Third Wheel" ends with the strong implication that they had sex, and inside Goofy's stomach, no less!
- Cheated Angle: Mickey's ears are always round, no matter what angle you're looking at him from. However, it's averted in certain appearances where he doesn't really need it (such as the later games in the Kingdom Hearts series).
- Clothes Make the Legend: Mickey's red shorts, buttons, White Gloves and oversized shoes are iconic.
- Clumsy Copyright Censorship: On "The Spirit of Mickey" VHS tape, the print of "Mickey's Surprise Party" is edited to remove the Product Placement of Nabisco cookies in the end by digitally editing a background and having Russi Taylor redubbing some of Minnie Mouse's lines. The former change is acceptable, but Russi's new lines painfully clash with the sound quality of the rest of the cartoon. At any rate, the cartoon was later presented unedited on the first Walt Disney Treasures Mickey Mouse set.
- Colossus Climb: His method of defeating a giant in The Brave Little Tailor and Mickey and the Beanstalk.
- Conjoined Eyes: In the earliest cartoons, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho.
- Covered in Kisses: Minnie sometimes does this to him.
- Dark Is Not Evil: He is dressed in black and gray suit in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
- Deadpan Snarker: In Mickey Mouse Works and House of Mouse.
- Demoted to Extra: In a lot of projects, Mickey would be billed at the star only for Donald Duck (in attractions like Mickey's Philharmagic) or Pluto (in most of the later shorts) or even Uncle Scrooge (in Mickey's Christmas Carol) to be the real focus of the feature.
- Depending on the Artist: Between the 1950's and 1990's Mickey either had eyebrows or he didn't in animation and merchandise. It wasn't until the late 1990's that his eyebrows were removed permanently. The only time Mickey is seen with eyebrows now is when he makes live appearances.
- Downer Ending: In The Barn Dance, Minnie dumps Mickey for Pete, who surprisingly acts like a gentleman in this short. The cartoon ends with Mickey facing the viewers and sobbing.
- Driven to Suicide: An early storyline in the comic strip dealt with Mickey becoming despondent when Minnie fell for a city slicker and deciding to end it all. After a week of unsuccessful suicide attempts (not to mention half-hearted - in one strip, he thought of drowning himself but decided not to because the water was too cold), Mickey was encouraged to go on, even though he hadn't yet won Minnie back.
- Escaped Animal Rampage: In "Mickey and the Seal" a baby seal escapes from the zoo and unknowingly to Mickey and Pluto travels along to their house.
- The Everyman: In his earliest shorts he was quite naughty, and could sometimes be a womanizer or a sadist to animals. Later his nicer and more whimsical qualities were quickly played up to where he became a character for the audience to project themselves onto. Some later entries have tried to bring back his scrappier qualities, but they never go as far as portraying him as he was in shorts like Plane Crazy.
- Evil Is Bigger: Mickey commonly faces and triumphs over foes bigger than him like Pete, various giants and a gorilla.
- Extreme Doormat: When his Nice Guy persona is exaggerated enough, he will take a lot of crap from friends and foes alike with naive optimism. He sometimes bites back though.
- Flanderization: All because of The Hays Code, really, he became Lighter and Softer and as a result less popular.
- Foil: Ironically, Mickey is one to himself. Compare the Nice Guy, Extreme Doormat that most people are familiar with today who rarely loses his temper (but does get upset) or has bad things happen directly to him and more straight storytelling cartoons to the still nice guy, but mischievous and shorter tempered at times borderline Butt-Monkey from the 1930s and new shorts and the more slapstick, wackiness found in them.
- Donald Duck is the main one to him. He's short-tempered, full of vices, and often desires the popularity of his best friend.
- Forgot to Pay the Bill: The plot of "Moving Day" is set in motion by the fact that Mickey and Donald Duck haven't paid the rent in six months.
- Furry Confusion: Mickey is, well... pretty big for a mouse. And there's been at least a couple shorts where Mickey encounters an actual tiny mouse.
- Full Name: His full name is Michael Theodore Mouse (Michael means "one who is godlike" and Theodore means "gift of the gods").
- Furry Denial:
- One strange rule that Disney enforces to this day is that Mickey is to never be shown with cheese, and other characters are not allowed to refer to him to as an actual mouse in-universe. "Cheese makes Mickey seem like a mouse. He's not really a mouse, you know, he's really more of a human." They're not totally consistent with this, and may reference his rodent nature for a quick one off gag, but it's few and far between.
- Pete and other villains will often disparagingly call him "mouse", but it's left unclear if they're referencing his species, or calling him by his last name.
- Gratuitous Spanish: After Mickey gets a bit too playful with Minnie in The Cactus Kid (1930), Minnie berates him in Spanish before angrily throwing objects at him. This short was the debut of Marcelite Garner as the voice of Minnie, and she got the job for her ability to speak Spanish as well as her singing talents.
- Groin Attack: Poor Mickey gets hit in the crotch 15 times by a fencepost in the 1930 short "The Chain Gang".
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: His classic outfit consists of only a pair of shorts and yellow shoes. During his Dork Age they ditched the simple, iconic look to put him in full outfits, making him look like your bland neighbor. Of course, this isn't to say that a fully clothed Mickey is strictly indicative of his Dork Age. Modern appearances of Mickey tend to go back and forth depending on what's needed, using the classic shorts as a default, but if Mickey needs an alternate look more suited to a specific plot or setting, it will be a full outfit, such as his suit in House of Mouse, or his adventuring clothes in Kingdom Hearts.
- Happily Married: According to Walt, Mickey and Minnie are canonically married however the two can be in any stage of a relationship depending on what the plot requires. Again, though, their sexual and familial escapades are left ambiguous.
- Happily Failed Suicide: An old comic book story. Mickey jumps off a bridge but lands on a boat. An angry sailor (who resembles Pete) yells that he throws stowaways overboard. Mickey starts pleading by saying he can't swim.
- Haunted House: Featured in the appropriately named "Haunted House", as well as Lonesome Ghosts.
- The Hero
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: In his guest spot on Bonkers and Kingdom Hearts.
- Inexplicably Tailless: They seem to have a pretty consistent rule for when Mickey will be shown with a tail or not. When shown in the classic outfit, he'll have a tail, when in a full outfit, the tail will be missing. Kingdom Hearts is a notable exception to the fully clothed = tailless rule.
- Interrupted Suicide: In the comic strip storyline in which Mickey contemplates suicide after losing Minnie to a city slicker, one of his attempts is to jump from a bridge - but what happens next proves his heart isn't really in it.Mickey: It's no use! I can't get Minnie off my mind! I just can't go on without her! It's the river for me! [jumps off bridge] Goodbye, Minnie! Goodbye, cruel world![Instead of in the water, Mickey lands on the deck of a tugboat passing under the bridge.]Tugboat Captain: [somewhat resembling Mickey's archnemesis Pete] A stowaway, eh? Well, ya'll get no publicity outta this trip - it's into the water for you!Mickey: Help! No! No! Please don't! I can't swim! I might drown!
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In his earliest shorts.
- Kid Hero: Sometimes.
- Killer Gorilla: In "The Gorilla Mystery", a monstrous gorilla breaks out of a local zoo and kidnaps Minnie Mouse, forcing Mickey to chase it down into a derelict house and rescue Minnie.
- Lookalike Lovers: Trope Makers with Minnie.
- Long-Lost Relative: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
- Mascot: He is the face of the entire Disney company. There's a reason this very site uses the mouse symbol to represent the Disney namespace.
- Arguably this has done more to hurt his image than help it, as writers often kept him bland to avoid rising his status as the company's image man. Modern productions often try to let up on the extreme, squeaky-clean image for something a little feistier.
- Mickey Mousing: The Trope Namer. Happened more in his early shorts.
- Moose Are Idiots: The "Moose Hunters" short. "Kiss me!"
- Moral Dissonance: He engages in animal cruelty in his earliest shorts, usually by using live, conscious animals as musical instruments, and it's Played for Laughs.
- Mr. Vice Guy: As part of the above Moral Dissonance, in his earliest cartoons, Mickey smoked, drank beer, chewed tobacco, openly ogled Minnie, and yet was still the hero. In conjunction with his eventual evolution into a Nice Guy (likely spurred by the popularity of his shorts with children), the credo of Mickey Mouse Clubs in the 1930s proclaimed that "Mickey Mice do not smoke, swear, cheat, or lie." Of course, Walt himself did plenty of at least the former two.
- Negative Continuity: The cartoons, like every other animated cartoon series of the time, have no continuity between shorts. Mickey can show up in any place or time depending on the stories needs, be it in Medieval Europe in "Ye Olden Days", "Brave Little Tailor" and The Prince and the Pauper, the pioneer expansion to the west in "Pioneer Days", working as an apprentice to a sorceror in Fantasia, and so on.
- Nice Guy: Except in some of his earlier appearances.
- Nice Mice: One of the most famous examples of a nice and heroic mouse.
- Noodle Incident: It's never explained how Mickey ended up in prison in "The Chain Gang".
- Not So Above It All: Even after becoming the straight man, there were times Mickey displayed a breaking point such as in "Magician Mickey" where after being heckled one too many times by Donald he puts the Duck through a magical Humiliation Conga or "Symphony Hour" where he threatens Donald with a handgun to keep him from abandoning the other performers during their disastrous concert.
- Official Couple: With Minnie Mouse.
- Outdated Name: To an extent though it's just short of Michael, which is not outdated, few people actually go by Mickey anymore, in part because the name has become so associated with the round-eared mouse.
- Out of Focus: Later on Donald Duck, Goofy and even Pluto became far more popular, being the characters who had an easier time adapting to the Screwball Squirrel and Iron Butt Monkey archetypes becoming more popular in animation in the 40's. Though Mickey remains the symbol of Disney. Modern productions often try to reverse this.
- Pie-Eyed: Occasionally in early shorts, when he doesn't just have Black Bead Eyes. He returned to this look in the 2013 flash-animated shorts.
- Prehensile Tail: Especially in the early shorts, when he'd often use his tail as a kind of third hand to pick things up and manipulate them.
- Press-Ganged: The aptly-named "Shanghaied". The cartoon begins with Mickey and Minnie already on the ship, but it's not hard to tell how they got there.
- Product Placement: 1939's "Mickey's Surprise Party" in its original version is a thinly veiled commercial for cookie and snack manufacturer Nabisco. When a mishap ruins the cookies Minnie was baking for Mickey's birthday, Mickey salvages the party by buying large quantities of Nabisco cookies. For later home video releases of the short, the Nabisco references were edited out and some of Minnie's accompanying dialogue was redubbed by Russi Taylor. See also Clumsy Copyright Censorship.
- The Protagonist
- Public Domain Animation: "The Mad Doctor" is one of the very few Disney shorts to slip into the Public Domain, although its extremely rare for it to appear in compilations (the only known time is in "Attack of the 30's Characters" from Thunderbean) due to legal fears over the usage of a copyrighted character like Mickey.
- Another is 1930's "Minnie's Yoo Hoo," although it's little more than a singalong of the title song intended for Mickey Mouse Clubs (the 1930s theater version, not the later TV series).
- The Quiet One: Mickey was this in several of his 1930's shorts.
- Retraux: The 2013 shorts returned Mickey and his friends back to their rubberhose roots from the late 20's-mid 30's, while the backgrounds resemble those from 50's and 60's cartoons.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The blue to Donald Duck's red.
- Rodents of Unusual Size: In the earliest cartoons to feature both him and Donald Duck together, Mickey is much taller than Donald. Nowadays he's generally the same height as Donald, if anything, Donald's the taller of the two now, but he's still a three foot tall mouse.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: As early as the 1934 film "Hollywood Party" (which was one of the very few non-Disney works where Mickey was allowed to appear) and of course, his appearance in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He appeared along-side then-chairman Michael Eisner in his promo appearances and in a theme park movie. In both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, he thanks the conductor of the orchestra after his own sequence.
- Screwball Squirrel: In his earliest appearances. His appearance with Bugs Bunny in Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a callback to those days.
- Signature Laugh: A quick, good-natured "Ha-ha!", which is largely Newer Than They Think. While Mickey's always had a shy giggle, the distinct "Ha-ha!" that modern audiences recognize as Mickey's laugh originates from Wayne Allwine's tenure as the Mouse, and Bret Iwan's Mickey continues the tradition because it's become inseparable from Mickey's modern identity.
- Signing Off Catchphrase: "See ya real soon!" Taken from a line in the song used to sign off the Mickey Mouse Club, Mickey uses it to sign off in House of Mouse, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and various live shows at the Disney Theme Parks.
- Species Surname: Although the Disney company strangely insists that it's just his surname, and that Mickey is not an actual mouse.
- The Speechless: In his earliest shorts, up until The Karnival Kid. Lampshaded briefly in the video The Spirit of Mickey:1970s!Mickey: (addressing 1920s!Mickey) Hey! Hey, you! Are you the first original Mickey Mouse?1920s!Mickey: Squawk!
- Standardized Leader: In many of his pairing with Donald and Goofy. Depending on the Writer however, he is sometimes distinguished as an eccentric Pollyanna or an Extreme Doormat.
- Straight Man: Whenever Donald and Goofy are around, though if his eccentricities are being played up, Donald may take the role instead.
- Theme Tune: Mickey had his own in the late 1920s and early '30s, a Carl Stalling-composed ode to his girlfriend called "Minnie's Yoo-Hoo!" First sung by Mickey (though not by Walt Disney) in Mickey's Follies (1929), it also served as an Instrumental Theme Tune for Mickey shorts until 1934 (well after Stalling's departure), and was recorded by several artists on record as well. The 1930s Mickey Mouse Clubs also sang it at the conclusion of each meeting.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Back then he was hardly a role model, but now...
- Too Many Babies: In "Mickey's Nightmare", Mickey dreams about getting married to Minnie, after which a flock of storks drops about twenty babies down his chimney in rapid succession. Of course it's All Just a Dream, but fans have created fan fiction and fan art of him with children anyway.
- The Trickster: In the very earliest days.
- Underestimating Badassery: Especially in Shanghaied, Two-Gun Mickey, and Runaway Brain.
- Vocal Dissonance: When Mickey first spoke in The Karnival Kid, he had a more typical deep adult male voice, compared to the falsetto voice he'd later gain.