Gosh, think of the headline: hero cop killed by savage fox. (Judy Hopps: So that's it? Prey fears predator, and you stay in power?!) Yeah, pretty much. (Judy Hopps: It won't work!) Fear always works! And I'll dart every predator in Zootopia to keep it that way! (chuckles) Bye-bye, bunny.
~ Bellwether explaining her true plans to ban all predators from Zootopia (and the same speech that sealed her fate).
Dawn Bellwether (simply known as Bellwether) is the main antagonist of Disney's 55th full-length animated feature film Zootopia (or Zootropolis in European regions). She is the former friend turned arch-nemesis of Judy Hopps.
She is the assistant mayor of Zootopia and she seemed to be a sweet and cute sheep but eventually revealed to be a powerful criminal who managed to seal her true nature by acting as the assistant mayor and good to everyone. Assistant Mayor Bellwether is a sweet sheep with a little voice and a lot of wool, who constantly finds herself under foot of the larger-than-life Mayor Lionheart.
She was voiced by Jenny Slate, who also played Zoe in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked and Harley Quinn in The LEGO Batman Movie.
We're on the same team, Judy! Underestimated, under-appreciated. Aren't you sick of it? Predators—they may be strong and loud, but prey out number predators ten to one. Think of it; 90% of the population, united against a common enemy. We'll be unstoppable.
~ Bellwether's speech to Judy after the former revealed her true nature.
At first glance, Bellwether appears as a meek, shy, kind and energetic, albeit overworked, sheep. She sympathizes with Judy, as she feels the two are both underappreciated and underestimated and claimed herself as Judy's friend in City Hall. She is eager to help and excited she could be of use since she feels her job as assistant mayor is more of a glorified secretary job. It is obvious throughout the film that she mostly does paperwork and menial jobs while Leodore Lionheart is somewhat of a glory hound who dumps the work on her and gets all the attention.
However, this is merely a facade to hide her true nature: a deceptive and cunningly diabolical mastermind. Bellwether is deeply prejudiced against predators because, as she puts it, they are only 10% of the population and she seems to view them as dangerous and unintelligent in comparison to the prey. She is ruthless and power-hungry, perfectly willing to kill anyone who gets in her way or simply refuses to agree with her beliefs. She is also willing to let prey animals get injured or even killed by the predators she turns savage in order to maintain power and turn the populace against the predator minority (showing that despite claiming she cares for prey, she ultimately thinks nothing of sacrificing a few for her cause). She has also shown a certain amount of sadism, as she laughed wickedly as Nick "attacked" Judy, clearly enjoying the apparent danger the rabbit was in.
Bellwether is highly intelligent and manipulative, as she secretly arranged Judy to expose Lionheart's illegal imprisonment of the savage predators from behind the scenes in order to take over as the Mayor, in addition to staging everything to look as if predators have gone savage through "natural instinct". However, she does prove to be a show-off once her true colors were revealed, arrogantly bragging about her plan before trying to finish off Judy and Nick, which proved to be her downfall.
Her racism doesn't seem to be limited to predators; though she claims that all prey animals are superior to predators, she seems to favor sheep as her entourage is entirely consisted of such from her hit-man Doug to several corrupt cops.
Bellwether is first seen during Judy's induction into the Zootopia Police Department, where she stands alongside Lionheart, and is tasked with badging Hopps. Bellwether shows great pride in Zootopia's first rabbit officer, proclaiming that it is a momentous day for "little guys", referring to prey. Before her words can run further, Lionheart rather rudely removes Bellwether from Judy, and subsequently blocks her from the flashing cameras of the press.
Following Judy's first day as an officer, Emmitt Otterton goes missing, forcing his distraught wife to seek help. Bellwether is present when Judy volunteers to find Emmitt against Chief Bogo's orders. Just before Chief Bogo could fire Judy for her insubordination, Bellwether sends Lionheart a knowing text to congratulate him on the growing success of the Mammal Inclusion Initiative, referring to Judy's newfound role as a detective to a major case. Realizing that he would be in big trouble if Lionheart learns about Judy being taken off the case, Bogo reluctantly allows Judy 48 hours to solve the case, on the condition that she will resign if she fails. Bellwether then speaks to Judy, telling her that she always has an ally at City Hall, should she need any important favors.
Later on, Bellwether returns to City Hall, where she is seen struggling for Lionheart's attention, needing him to discuss various matters regarding the city. Lionheart, seeming more aggressive than usual, coldly orders Bellwether to take care of the matters herself, and to cancel his afternoon, as he needs to run out for confidential matters. Feeling defeated and exhausted, Bellwether sadly gathers the paperwork to begin her assignments, before receiving a surprise visit from Judy and her accomplice, Nick Wilde. Judy explains that she needs access to the city's traffic cameras, which Bellwether obliges to in her "office", which is really the boiler room. While doing so, Bellwether laments to Judy and Nick, expressing her excitement in doing something of importance, to which Judy replies with confusion, as she believes the title of "Assistant Mayor" to be rather major. Bellwether merely sees it as being a "glorified secretary", and voices her suspicion that Lionheart may have selected her simply for the sake of winning the sheep vote. Just then, Lionheart pages Bellwether, scolding her for failing to cancel his afternoon. Bellwether hurriedly rushes to finish this assignment, leaving Judy and Nick with her computer.
Using the traffic cameras, Judy and Nick are able to find an asylum where 15 predator mammals (including Emmitt himself) have been illegally imprisoned by wolf mercenaries and have mysteriously gone savage. The imprisonment was at the hands of Mayor Lionheart and the asylum's staff, who are desperately trying to determine the cause behind the mysterious outbreak and find a cure for it to no avail, keeping the entire situation confidential to prevent city-wide panic, and by extension, the loss of Lionheart's position. With this evidence recorded through her phone, Judy alerts Chief Bogo, and Lionheart and the staff are arrested for their not-so-legal activities. With Lionheart finally removed from office, Bellwether becomes the new Mayor of Zootopia (much to her delight), but the savage predators remain detained, as no one has figured out the cause behind their strange behavior.
Judy, meanwhile, is hailed a hero, and a press conference on the savage predators is held at the ZPD. Bellwether is present in the conference, and to her advantage, Judy accidentally calls out predators as naturally savage, with potential to revert to their original, bloodthirsty natures; disturbing the press and causing a citywide panic. This event also causes a disgusted Nick (being a predator himself) to leave Judy, declining to join the ZPD as her partner. Following these events, Bellwether summons Judy to her office and, alongside Chief Bogo, offers her to be the public face of the Zootopia Police Department, as prey mammals look to her as a hero for uncovering the "truth" about predators. However, Judy denies, feeling she's failed the city by tearing it apart instead of making it a better place, and officially resigns from the ZPD.
2 months later, however, Judy discovers that unique flowers known as "Night howlers" are the cause of the predators' strange behavior—not natural instinct—and rushes back to the city to reveal the truth. After reconciling with Nick, Judy (with the help from Mr. Big) interrogates Duke Weaselton, who admits that he stole a bunch of night howlers to sell to a ram named Doug, who is using the flowers to produce a highly-potent serum which he has been exposing to predators via paintball-like pellets fired by an air-powered sniper gun. With this information, Judy and Nick steal Doug's lab-converted subway car and race to the ZPD with the evidence. Two of Doug's assistants (Woolter and Jesse) pursue the two, and though they are defeated, the train is derailed and destroyed. However, Nick successfully retrieves a case containing Doug's dart gun and the serum pellets. As Nick and Judy cut through the Zootopia Natural History Museum to get to the ZPD, Bellwether suddenly arrives on the scene.
She politely asks for the gun case, presenting herself as being proud of Judy's success, but when Judy questions how Bellwether knew of their whereabouts, the ploy is broken, and Bellwether reveals her true colors by sending a trio of tough rams to capture the pair. Judy gets injured while trying to escape, and she and Nick are eventually knocked into a pit-like exhibit by one of the rams. Though Bellwether made an attempt to have Judy join her side, she instead shoots Nick with the serum gun to turn him savage so that he would kill Judy, and calls the ZPD over to the scene to make it look like another savage outbreak demonizing predators so that the entire prey population will take control of Zootopia, and Bellwether herself will remain in power.
However, the entire "savage fox" act turns out to be a ruse planned by both Judy and Nick, who reveal that they replaced the serum pellets in Bellwether's gun with blueberries in order to trick Bellwether into revealing her plan. Despite being dumbfounded by this turn of events, Bellwether angrily threatens to frame both Nick and Judy for her crimes just like she did to Lionheart, claiming that it's "her word against theirs". However, Judy reveals that she used her voice recorder to record Bellwether's confession, and plays the tape just as Chief Bogo and several other ZPD officers arrive, much to Bellwether and her accomplices' shock.
With her plot now exposed, Bellwether and her henchrams are arrested and sent to prison for their crimes. An antidote is then made to nullify the effects of Doug's drug to turn the savage predators back to their normal states. During the credits, Bellwether is last seen angrily watching a live stream of Gazelle's concert performance while her inmates actually enjoy the performance, much to her annoyance.
Well, this is so exciting, actually. I mean, you know, I never get to do anything this important. (Judy: But you're the assistant Mayor of Zootopia.) Oh, I'm more of a glorified secretary. I think Mayor Lionheart just wanted the sheep vote. But he did give me that nice mug. Feels good to be appreciated.
~ Bellwether giving out Judy and Nick the traffic footage for the investigation.
~ Bellwether revealing her true nature while ordering her minions to catch Judy and Nick
Well, you should've stayed in the carrot farm, huh? It really is too bad, I... I did like you. (Judy: Well, what are you gonna do? Kill me?!) Oh, ho, ho, ho. No, of course not. (aims the serum at Nick) HE IS!
~ Bellwether seemingly shooting Nick with the Night Howler Serum.
I framed Lionheart, I can frame you two! It's MY word against yours! (Judy: Actually… *And I'll dart every predator in Zootopia to keep it that way!* … it's your word against yours!) Huh? (Judy: It's called a hustle, sweetheart. Boom!)
~ Bellwether's last words before her arrest.
Bellwether giving Judy her police badge.
Bellwether proclaiming that it's a momentous day for the 'little guys'
Bellwether sending a message to Mayor Lionheart about Judy taking on the Missing Mammals case.
Bellwether holding binders containing municipal issues in Zootopia.
Bellwether being ordered by Lionheart to cancel his afternoon schedule.
Bellwether after becoming the new mayor of Zootopia following Lionheart's arrest
Bellwether revealing her true nature while trying to goad Judy into joining her
Bellwether's evil grin as she is about to shoot Nick with the serum to make him turn savage and murder Judy
"Fear always WORKS!"
"And I'll dart every predator in Zootopia to keep it that way. Bye bye, bunny."
Bellweather and her accomplices being placed under arrest after her plot is exposed.
Bellwether being placed in jail for her crimes while watching a live stream of Gazelle with several other inmates.
Her first name, "Dawn", is briefly mentioned by the snow leopard newscaster when announced that Bellwether was the one behind the night howlers and was arrested for the crime.
However in the credits, she was credited as "Bellwether".
The term "bellwether" refers to a sheep that leads a herd. This sheep is typically marked through the use of a bell, hence the "bell" in Bellwether. Fittingly, Bellwether is the leader of a team of sheep: Doug, Woolter, Jesse and at least three other rams.
Despite being the main antagonist of the film, an increasing group of fans sympathize with the character.
Bellwether's nature as the true antagonist is foreshadowed by the fact that she has Doug's phone number as a sticky note on her phone.
She is one of the few Disney Villains who is a surprise villain, followed by Hans from Frozen.