Judge Claude Frollo is the main antagonist of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, and is considered by many as the most sadistic and cruel Disney villain ever. His voice was provided by the late Tony Jay, and animated by supervising animator Kathy Zielinski and her animation team.
It must be noted that in Victor Hugo's famous novel Notre Dame de Paris (on which the Disney movie was inspired), Frollo is not a judge, but the Archdeacon of the cathedral of Notre Dame. Disney Studios probably made Frollo a judge to avoid controversy and to have a chance to tone up his evil actions. Indeed, the Disney version of the character is notoriously different from his book counterpart and far, far more evil.
|“||Judge Claude Frollo longs to purge the world of vice and sin. And he saw corruption everywhere except within.||„|
|~ Clopin (the narrator) on Judge Claude Frollo.|
Frollo resides in Paris, France, where he is employed as a Court Judge, or as the Justice Minister, this is not very clear. (Though the latter would explain his almost-complete control over the affairs of Paris. It has been assumed that the King is away at war, leaving him in charge. It can be guessed that he was first the former and was appointed the latter at some point during the time skip.) A deeply religious man, Frollo uses his position to inflict great suffering upon the gypsy population, believing them to "live outside the natural order" and engage in "heathen" behavior, as well as "enflame the people's lowest instincts".
One night, a group of gypsies attempt to enter Paris, only to be stopped by Frollo and his soldiers. When a gypsy woman attempts to flee, Frollo, believing her to be hiding stolen goods, chases her to Notre Dame. When Frollo catches up to her, he wrestles the "stolen goods" from her and kicks her in the head, causing her to fall on the steps of the parvis and die from a head concussion.
He then finds out the the goods were actually her hideously deformed son, whom he attempts to throw in a well, believing him to be an "unholy demon" and that he is going to send it back to Hell "where it belongs". Yet the Archdeacon of Notre Dame stops him, and tells him that to atone from his crimes in the eyes of the Virgin Mary (Notre Dame meaning "Our Lady" in French), he must raise the child as his own.
Fearing damnation, Frollo begrudgingly accepts and names the baby Quasimodo ("half-formed"). He keeps him out of the people's attention in the cathedral towers. As Quasimodo grows up as the bell-ringer of Notre Dame, Frollo persuades him never to venture outside to avoid the hatred of the world, which he describes as cruel and unforgiving for deformed people.
Events of the movie
20 years later, while attending the annual Festival of Fools, Frollo discovers a gypsy dancer named Esmeralda, who both attracts and disgusts him with her beauty. Shortly afterwards, Quasimodo is revealed to have sneaked out the tower and joined the festivities, only to be crowned the King of Fools. One of Frollo's guards throws a tomato at Quasimodo, revealing that he is not wearing a disguise, and soon the citizens of Paris start pelting Quasimodo with fruits and begin tormenting him. Quasimodo begs Frollo for help, but Frollo allows the torment to continue to punish him for his disobedience.
Esmeralda then comes to Quasimodo's aid, ridiculing Frollo in the process. She berates him for tormenting the innocents he is supposed to protect and ignores his orders to back down. When Frollo vows to hurt her in return, she says that they crowned the wrong fool and throws the crown at Frollo's feet to say he is the real King of Fools.
In return, Frollo orders her arrested. The gypsy girl can only escape Frollo's wrath by remaining within Notre Dame due to the divine right of Sanctuary, where she stands up to Captain Phoebus and fights him to a draw, earning his respect. Frollo then barges in, trying to arrest her, but the Archdeacon comes to her rescue, stating that nobody can be arrested or cause controversy in the church.Frollo later confronts Esmeralda, disturbing her by sniffing her hair inappropriately, and states that she is still a prisoner and that, as soon as she leaves, he would throw her in jail. That evening, Frollo is disturbed by his attraction to Esmeralda, believing he is doomed to the fires of Hell.
However, he believes he is one of God's purest men and thus protests against the Lord, shifting the blame of his crimes on others, most notably when he expresses belief that Esmeralda cast a spell on him to damn his soul, and resolving to have her for himself or burn her (which he expresses in the song "Hellfire"). Unbeknownst to Frollo, Quasimodo has allowed Esmeralda to escape the cathedral in gratitude for her rescue of him during the Festival of Fools, as well as feelings of love towards her.
Upon learning that Esmerelda has escaped, Frollo leaves at once. He bribes some of the gypsies to find Esmeralda and has everyone whom he believes to have aided the gypsies killed and their house burned, causing countless casualties. Appalled, Phoebus intervenes and refuse to burn the house of an innocent family that Frollo had locked in. He goes as far as saving them when the fanatical judge burns the house himself.
Frollo then declares Phoebus a traitor and has his guards shoot him with arrows when he flees. He sees Phoebus fall in a river and declares him dead, not knowing that a disguised Esmerelda helped Phoebus out of the river and nursed him back to health.
Realizing Quasimodo assisted Esmeralda, Frollo convinces him that the Court of Miracles has been found and will eventually be attacked. A misled Quasimodo leads Phoebus to the Court to warn the gypsies, but it is a ruse and Frollo follows them. The fanatical judge attacks the Court of Miracles, captures Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Phoebus and the Gypsies, has Quasimodo chained down in Notre Dame, and sentences all gypsies to be burned at the stake for witchcraft.
Frollo offers to pardon Esmeralda if she becomes his mistress, but she spits in his face so he prepares to burn her. Fortunately, Quasimodo, who manages to break free, rescues her after she passes out and brings her to the cathedral, calling for Sanctuary. Enraged, Frollo launches an attack against the cathedral, but Phoebus rallies the outraged people of Paris against him.
While his guards are getting soundly defeated, Frollo enters the cathedral. The Archdeacon tries to protest, refusing to let him defile God's house, but Frollo replies by hurling him down the staircase, causing him to break his leg, and locks him from the belltower, saying "The hunchback and I have unfinished business, and this time, you shall not interfere.".
|“||Now, I'm going to do what I've should've done, TWENTY YEARS AGO!!!||„|
|~ Frollo attempting to kill Quasimodo.|
As Quasimodo is mourning the apparent death of Esmeralda, Frollo pretends to comfort him, concealing a dagger behind his back to kill him. A violent struggle ensues, in which Quasimodo overpowers the deranged judge.
Frollo attempts to get Quasimodo to listen to him, but Quasimodo instead tells him about how Frollo told him that the world was a dark, cruel place, but he realized what was dark and cruel about the world was people like Frollo. During that conversation, Esmeralda awakens and Quasimodo rushes her to safety, while Frollo draws out his sword. Frollo chases them onto a balcony overlooking the city, striking them with his sword to knock them off the balcony.
At his own rage, Frollo finally confesses that he killed Quasimodo's mother when she tried to protect him. As such, Frollo proclaims that he will now kill Quasimodo as he "should have done 20 years ago". After finishing his sentence, Frollo blinds Quasimodo with his cloak and tosses him off Notre Dame, but Quasimodo manages to hold on and pulls the villain along with him. While Esmeralda is struggling to rescue Quasimodo, Frollo manages to climb onto a gargoyle and prepares to deal the finishing blow, while blaspheming smugly.
|“||And He shall smite the wicked, and plunge them into the fiery pit!||„|
|~ Judge Claude Frollo's final blasphemy before dying an ironic and symbolic death.|
At this very moment, the gargoyle he is standing on ironically crumbles beneath him, forcing Frollo to hold onto it as he drops his sword in the process. The gargoyle then roars menacingly at the fanatic before finally breaking away from the cathedral, sending a screaming Frollo plunging into the molten lead a long way below, where he finally meets his deathly comeuppance as, simultaneously, his tyranny also comes to an end once and for all.
Frollo's death can be interpreted as divine intervention. The gargoyle appears to act as a symbol of God, "judging" Frollo as truly evil and therefore casting him into the "fiery pit" of Hell, in the form of the molten lead. Alternatively, it might be an intervention of Notre Dame itself, who is implied to be somehow sentient in the movie. In the end, Frollo suffers what he feared the most: the damnation of his very soul.
Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance
|“||This is no demon. It is righteous judgement.||„|
|~ Jidge Claude Frollo talking to Riku about Wargoyle.|
Frollo makes an appearance as a minor antagonist in the latest Kingdom Hearts game, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. In this version, Frollo is voiced by Corey Burton.
In Sora's story, he notices Sora and accuses him of being a gypsy due to the clothes he is wearing. Captain Phoebus tells Frollo that monsters are attacking the square. As they run off, Frollo mutters to himself about how he spent twenty years getting rid of gypsies.
Later, at the Court of Miracles, Frollo takes Esmeralda to the town square and has the Wargoyle knock out Sora. After Esmeralda is saved from the bonfire, Frollo seizes her and Quasimodo. In the end, his death and last words are roughly the same way as he died in the movie.
In Riku's story, Frollo questions why he bothered summoning Phoebus if he could not find Esmeralda. Frollo is seen trying to "pass judgement" against a family by using the Wargoyle. Luckily, Riku and Phoebus make it in time. Back at Notre Dame, Frollo falls off the balcony, yelling "Judgement is mine!".
|“||You can lie to yourself and your minions. You can claim that you haven't a qualm. But you'll never can run from nor hide what you've done from the eyes. The very eyes of Notre Dame.||„|
|~ The Archdeacon, highlighting the fallacies of Judge Frollo's self-righteousness.|
Frollo is a character of pure malevolence, completely devoid of the funny quirks that made other Disney villains somehow endearing in spite of their crimes. This is made all the gloomier in that he is a normal human instead of a stereotypical villain. He is the "monster" from the introduction song The Bells of Notre Dame (normal-looking and respected yet repulsive); in stark contrast with the "man" represented by Quasimodo (ugly and shunned yet selfless).
Frollo is cruel, ruthless, relentless, spiteful, hateful, bitter, manipulative and uncaring. He destroys countless lives without batting an eyelid, and never shows politeness that is not contrived. Frollo sadistically enjoys seeing people getting tortured (which he regards as "being taught a lesson"), and the only genuine emotions he displays are either malice or petty satisfaction.
Even worse, he grudgingly complies to his sole good action out of selfish fear for his soul. He refused to take Quasimodo as a son and hid him away to use him later, completely ruining the redemptive purpose of taking him in. He blatantly abuses him emotionally and verbally, and fakes all displays of affection.
Frollo is a deeply fanatical Christian, obsessed with purifying the world from corruption. As such, he despises celebrations such as the Festival of Fools, which he regards as useless and degrading. He is also extremely xenophobic, as seen with his irrational hatred for gypsies and his inability to conceive that a deformed person could be a normal human. (Such beliefs were sadly common in the times in which the story takes place, although Frollo's character serves to highlight their fallacies.) To him, everything and everyone outside the "natural order" is a stain that must be removed (even though the target's flaws only exist in his head).
What makes Frollo all the more despicable is his unshakable self-righteousness. He regards himself as a paragon of virtue above all blame. In his twisted point of view, he is the purest person alive and everyone else is in the wrong, if not seeking to "corrupt" him. Although he does fear damnation more than anything, his delusion is so strong that he keeps persuading himself that his faults are an innocent person's doing, during the scarce moments he could have realized the error of his ways. No matter how often the Archdeacon, a moral authority, reminds him of the Christian values of caring and compassion, like most fanatics he can only understand a logic of punishment.
Because of this, Frollo regards his lust for Esmeralda as a "spell" meant to damn his soul and fabricates absurd justifications for his murder of Quasimodo's mother. He quickly becomes obsessed with submitting Esmeralda to his will (reasoning that he can have her if he gets her to "repent"), being ready to burn thousands of innocents in the process. By the end of the movie, he becomes so unhinged that he no longer fears damnation, persuading himself that his enemies are the wicked ones who must get punished.
Frollo has left a lasting impact on audiences, being remembered as one of the darkest Disney villains, as his crimes include trying to kill a baby, expressing clear genocidal intentions and trying to burn an innocent family alive; and the sexual element of his character is otherwise almost unheard of for an animated Disney character. It is also heavily implied that he is responsible for the deaths of countless numbers of gypsies and other innocent citizens.
An official poll of the Top 30 Disney Villains placed him in the #10 spot, and the Nostalgia Critic gave him the #4 spot on his personal list. Also, his Villain Song "Hellfire" is widely praised as one of the very best, greatly contributing to his popularity. (Oddly enough, some people even overlook his villainy due to having enjoyed the song so much.)
At the same time, however, Frollo is arguably the most complex and human Disney villain as he does have an internal conflict, as well as a distinct fear for his soul, which he fails to listen to due to his delusional denial of his own sins. Some even find him sympathetic, and wish he had redeemed himself or even ended up with Esmeralda. This may have something to do with the book, where he legitimately is sympathetic.
In addition, Frollo's conflict with the Archdeadcon of Notre Dame (who is meant to embody the good aspects of Frollo's character in the novel) has been regarded as mirroring the conflict between pure religion (loving, welcoming and generous) and fanaticism (hateful, oppressive and violent).
Despite (and, given the absurd nature of the phenomenon, likely because of) being such a dark character, Frollo is the second most popular Disney character in the Youtube Poop community, next to Gaston. The "Hellfire" scene in particular is a very popular source, again despite and perhaps because of being so dark. The most notable YTP work starring Frollo is "The Frollo Show" by Chincherrinas where he is portrayed as the main protagonist and is best friends with Gaston.
In the novel series Kingdom Keepers, Frollo appears in one of the books. He is one of the Overtakers, a group of certain Disney villains that plan to take over all of the Disney parks. He tried to drown one of the Kingdom Keeper kids. He, along with Maleficent and the baddie in charge (Chernabog), are the main Overtakers (along with Evil Queen and Cruella de Vil).
- Frollo is considered as one of the (if not the) darkest and most evil of Disney's animated film villains. In fact, Frollo was meant by Disney Studios to be as evil and as vile as possible, in an attempt to avert the trope "Evil is Cool," common to many Disney villains.
- Frollo is very similar to Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit: both are complete monsters, corrupt judges, and attempted to wipe out a group they despise (gypsies and toons, respectively).
- Frollo has some similarities to Mother Gothel from Tangled:
- Both have locked the hero/heroine (Quasimodo and Rapunzel) away from the world and forbade them from leaving their homes and interacting with society, telling them what a horrible place the world was.
- Both have sung a song on why their "kids" shouldn't leave their homes ("Stay in Here" for Frollo and "Mother Knows Best" for Gothel).
- Both have tried to kill their "kids" love interests (Esmeralda and Eugene).
- Both have died by falling to their deaths.
- Frollo is also similar to Lady Tremaine from Cinderella: Both villains lack magic powers, and they also mistreat and abuse their stepchildren (Cinderella and Quasimodo).
- Frollo is also similar to Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. Both villains are adapted from French stories, lack magic powers, have an obsession with the heroines (Esmeralda and Belle), wield daggers, both have died as a result of a deep thousand-foot plunge, and both have fought the deformed heroes (Quasimodo and Beast) on high buildings. Also, the two have been portrayed as friends in the YTP series, The Frollo Show, due to their similarities, though they are much less evil than their Disney counterparts.
- Frollo is also similar to Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas and King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph. All three villains express hatred and prejudice towards a certain group (Candy towards Glitches, Frollo towards Gypsies and Ratcliffe towards Native Americans), express some form of supremacy, and hold a high rank in authority and political influence.
- Frollo is also similar to Zira from The Lion King II: Simba's Pride in the sense that, despite they are both the "parents" of the hero (Zira: Kovu, Frollo: Quasimodo), they actually grant them little or no freedom (Frollo: by keeping Quasimodo isolated in Notre Dame, Zira: by forbidding Kovu from exploring the Pride Lands), and both are bent on destroying an enemy (Frollo: Gypsies, Zira: Pridelanders). However, Zira shows love and cares for her family while frollo shows none.
- Frollo has a lot in common with Ramsley from The Haunted Mansion. Despite their species being different, their personality traits are similar. They kill someone's family member or loved ones, lie to someone about it and confess the crime in the end (Frollo killing Quasimodo's mother and Ramsley poisoning Elizabeth). They also fall to their death in similar in many ways.
- The way Frollo tells Quasimodo that he killed his mother is quite similar to how Scar reveals that he killed Mufasa to Simba at the end of The Lion King, given how they do not reveal it until they believe they are about to kill their respective foes, only to arouse their foes' rage and lead to their own deaths.
- In a Dreamworks comparison, Frollo is very much like Lord Farquaad from Shrek. They have similar costumes and are corrupt dictators. They have a strong hatred towards a particular race and want them gone and are shown having them tortured (Fairy Tale Creatures and Gypsies respectively). They also have a lust for an attractive woman (Fiona and Esmeralda).
- In a non-Disney comparison, Frollo is similar to Margaret White from Stephen King's novel Carrie in that, despite being their primary caregivers, Frollo abuses Quasimodo like Margaret abuses Carrie, and both believe that the outside world is nothing but sin and darkness, and they even use religion to justify their evil deeds. Towards the end of their respective stories, they both pretend to comfort their "children" before attempting to kill them with a knife, only to end up dead themselves.
- In another non-Disney comparison, Frollo has some similarities to Girolamo Savonarola from Assassin's Creed II as well: both men manage to gain complete control of a city in the absence of a true ruler and are considered tyrants. Also, both men are paranoid, fanatical, hypocritical and self-righteous to the point of delusion, seeing sin and corruption everywhere except in themselves, the truly evil ones.
- Frollo also bears some similarities to Uberto Alberti, another character from Assassin's Creed II. Both hold positions of authority in their respective settings (Frollo is Justice Minister of Paris, and Alberti is gonfaloniere of Florence; both positions are also similar in their responsibilities) and start out as a friend of the hero, but later betray them. Both of them are also responsible for the death of the hero's family. They both have a similar wardrobe as well.
- In the original book by Victor Hugo, Frollo is the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. He is actually caring towards Quasimodo, whom he adopted out of genuine mercy, and his good-for-nothing brother Jehan. But when Esmeralda comes along, Frollo's lust for her results in a slow descent into evil.
- Frollo's genocidal agenda against Gypsies mirrors the Nazi's own genocide against Gypsies (which occurred concurrently to the genocide against European Jews). Frollo is also, like Hitler, a dictator who rules through fear and intimidation, and has a complete willingness to kill anyone who gets in his way.
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