- NOTE: This article is about the original Jafar from the 1992 movie. The 2019 remake version can be found here.
This Villain was Headlined on March, 2019.
|“||In the palace, right here, lived a wicked wazir; the advisor to Sultan Hamed. And this part-time magician, this amateur seer, wished his boss, the good sultan, dead. He was charming and slick, but unspeakably sick, this despicable parasite. What a villain, boo, hiss! Further proof, dears, that this is another Arabian night...||„|
|~ Lyrics describing Jafar from a demo of "Arabian Nights".|
|“||If you won't bow before a sultan, THEN YOU WILL COWER BEFORE A SORCERER! Genie, my second wish! I WISH TO BE THE MOST POWERFUL SORCERER... IN THE WORLD!||„|
|~ Jafar screaming in rage while he makes his second wish.|
|“||A snake, am I? Perhaps you'd like to see how ssSNAKE-LIKE I CAN BE!||„|
|~ Jafar transforming into a giant snake, his voice reflecting his new serpentine form.|
In all of his appearances, he was voiced and portrayed by Jonathan Freeman.
He served as the main antagonist of Disney's 31st full-length animated feature film Aladdin (which is based on the Arabic folktale Aladdin and the Magic Lamp from One Thousand and One Nights) and also the 2019 remake of the same name, the titular main antagonist of its 1994 direct-to-video sequel The Return of Jafar, a posthumous antagonist in the Aladdin TV series, Aladdin and The King of Thieves and Aladdin: Nasira's Revenge, and the secondary antagonist of the Hercules crossover "Hercules and the Arabian Night".
He also appears as a recurring antagonist in House of Mouse, and the main antagonist of its 2002 direct-to-video film Mickey's House of Villains, a recurring antagonist in the Kingdom Hearts franchise and the Kilala Princess manga, the main antagonist of the video game adaptation of the first movie, a minor antagonist in Kingdom Keepers, the main antagonist of Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a minor antagonist in the Descendants franchise and the main antagonist of A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale.
Jafar is portrayed as a total psychopath who will not hesitate to eliminate anybody that he perceives as a threat to his own sinister designs. Like numerous clinically diagnosed psychopaths, Jafar wears a metaphorical mask of normalcy throughout the film, establishing himself as a calm schemer and gaining the trust of those around him, despite his rather untrustworthy and treacherous behavior, as he was unsympathetic and cruel towards his fellow conspirators or henchmen, especially Gazeem or Iago on occasion. Even with this mask, Jafar's psychopathic tendencies tend to seep through and become apparent to the viewer. He is also proven to be quite sadistic and merciless, as he enjoys putting people in suffering, such as demoting Jasmine and her father as servants after claiming as the new Sultan, and attempts to have Aladdin crucified so many times with plenty of laughs. Though, this all ended up in failure.
In addition, in The Return of Jafar, Jafar was not outside of using loopholes to bypass the ban on Genies killing people via having Abis Mal arrange Aladdin's crucify for him or using the environment to have death becomes an oppressive inevitability during the final battle, and was proven to not mind the Genies can’t kill rule because "you'd be surprised at what you can live through", implying he could torment people to the fullest extent without slaughtering them. He is also proven to be quite narcissistic and egotistical, due to his desire for power and his manipulations towards the Sultan. It is not until Jafar gains control of the Genie's lamp that he fully shows his true colors, becoming very prideful, traitorous, manipulative and ill-tempered with his subjects after usurping power from the Sultan. However, it is this power-hungry behavior that leads to Jafar's downfall, as Aladdin tricks him into using his third wish to become an omnipotent and transcendental genie, unaware of the life inside the lamp that he has to endure now.
Despite his psychopathic and deranged behavior, Jafar has a somewhat entertaining and comical edge that helps to add some humanity to his character, for example proclaiming "Eww..." when contemplating decapitation, an unusual trait in a Disney villain. He is also very scathing and censorious, as he criticizes Aladdin for choosing to deceive Jasmine into thinking he was a prince instead of being honest with her, as he believed Jasmine would never give him the time of day if she knew who he truly was. In the face of his villainy, Jafar was friendly and decent to Iago as the two of them seemed to have a genuine friendship as Jafar treated Iago as a partner in crime rather than an incompetent minion and he didn’t double-cross Iago after because he was becoming Sultan. Jafar was also ready to forgive Iago in the sequel despite Iago leaving Jafar trapped in the lamp. He is also very close to his twin sister Nasira and relishes on her plot to revive him, so that they can rule the world together, even warning her to be cautious of Aladdin's rational thinking and the Genie's power. In the episode "The Citadel", it was told Jafar feared a ruthless sorcerer named Destane, who was the former King of the Black Sand and master of Mozenrath; Iago explained Destane proved to be far more dangerous, that even Jafar decided to steer clear away to avoid invoking Destane's wrath. Furthermore, Jafar has a sense of humor himself, spurting several puns in a row while keeping Aladdin and his friends from getting the lamp during the film's climax ("Your time is up.", "Don't toy with me.", "Things are unraveling fast now, boy.", "Get the point?", "I'm just getting warmed up."), as pointed out by Hades in "Hercules and the Arabian Night". This sense of humor doesn’t carry over in the sequel at all, which aimed to make Jafar darker than usual.
He is also shown to be somewhat abusive and cantankerous towards his minions, as evidenced by his interactions with Iago and, later, Abis Mal. Ultimately, this proves to be his final downfall, as Iago ends up turning against him twice by eliminating Jafar's magic lamp, resulting in his demise. This abuse heavily carries over to other characters in the film, especially during the climax as, following his hostile rise to power, Jafar quickly used his newfound abilities to ruthlessly torment Jasmine, the Sultan, Aladdin, and the Genie via physical abuse, humiliation, slavery, and other forms of sadistic torture, which he openly showed amusement in right away.
Like some villainous characters from other franchises, Jafar is attracted to a beautiful teenage girl who is a protagonist. Here, he is attracted to Princess Jasmine, but primarily for her good-looking body, and not for Jasmine herself as a person. His final wish was for Jasmine to fall desperately in love with him so he could make her his queen in the first place (he and Iago planned on slaughtering her as soon as he became Sultan for the first time, but at some time later he declined to slaughter her, instead sparing her life); he creates a golden crown for her from her shackles to do so with a wave of his hand at first, saying a girl as beautiful as her "should be on the arm of the most powerful man in the world". Much earlier, though, he says in what we would consider being a sexist manner that Jasmine's speechleness is a "quite fine wife".
Jafar is a tall, slender man dressed in extravagant clothing, always seen carrying a gold, ruby-eyed, cobra-headed staff to supplement his magical powers. Jafar has a twisted black goatee and a faint mustache, as well as gray eyeliner. He is supposed to be designed as ugly, and Genie makes this obvious when he refers to him as "a tall, dark, sinister, ugly man". Apparently, he is completely bald, as evidenced by when he removes his beggar disguise, acting as the only time Jafar did not wear his distinctive headdress, although it was never made clear whether he is naturally bald or if he shaved his head for the disguise. He also carries a cobra-head staff, which he uses for his sorcery. Jafar was animated by Andreas Deja, who also used the character Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and the voice actor Jonathan Freeman as the basis for Jafar's design.
As the Royal Vizier, Jafar wears a black robe that reaches the ground over top a red garment with bell sleeves. Underneath this second garment, Jafar wears yet another shirt, this one black with very close-fitting sleeves that reach his wrists. The shoulders of his outer robe are pointed and connect to a long, billowing black cape with a red interior. His slippers are copper and the tips curl inward. A maroon sash is tied around his waist. He also wears an odd peach garment that covers his neck, the back of his head, and his chest. He sports a distinctive black headdress, seemingly a type of mitre, with a thin yellow pattern wrapping around the middle, what seems to be a ruby set in the front, and a red feather placed just above it.
The headdress itself is apparently made out of metal, as evidenced by the hollow sound it made when Iago briefly knocked on it while trying to get Jafar to calm down from a laughing fit due to thinking he went insane (not realizing he was actually laughing because he realized that not only did the lamp actually survive, it is actually in close proximity due to Prince Ali (or rather, Aladdin) owning it). More maroon cloth hangs from the mitre, draping over Jafar's shoulders. As Sultan, Jafar wears a white version of this outfit.
When he is turned into a sorcerer, Jafar's wardrobe goes to a more exaggerated form of his normal attire, with a headdress sporting horn-like protrusions. It does not have a red feather on it as it is used to, only conserves the ruby on the front. The shoulders of his outer robe are even pointer and maintain a higher position than before. His maroon sash on his waist is slightly different. Here, he regains his iconic snake staff, but notably with an open fanged mouth that fires beams magic on command. He also transformed himself into a giant black and orange cobra.
Once Jafar makes his third wish, he takes on a form resembling Genie himself while that last wish in the process would soon create his magic black Lamp, with some differences. Jafar's skin becomes red, his ears become pointed, his right ear gains a gold piercing, his hair becomes tied in a topknot, and his eyes become completely yellow (although there are instances where Jafar gains pupils, such as in "You're Only Second Rate"), and when he uses legs, instead of his genie smoke, the legs look muscular and somewhat demonic, with claws. He retains his maroon sash and five-fingered hands (albeit with claws, compared to Genie, who has four-fingers).
When he is in his normal human form, Jafar wears a slight recolor of his sorcerer outfit, with red more prominent than before. Interestingly, his sash on his waist is seen black instead of being red. He retains his snake staff. When he guest appeared in an episode of Hercules, he regains his sorcerer outfit.
Powers and Abilities
At the start of Aladdin, despite having an extensive knowledge of arcane lore, Jafar does not seem to possess any genuine magical powers and thus could have been no more than an alchemist. The closest he had ever come to using actual magic prior to becoming a powerful sorcerer was with his Snake Staff's hypnotic properties.
In the demo for the song "Arabian Nights", he was mentioned to be a part-time magician as well as a seer, although he is specified to be an amateur in the latter job. He is also surprisingly effective and authoritative at disguising himself when he was a regular human, as evidenced by his posing as an old prisoner to recruit Aladdin into retrieving the Magic Lamp from the Cave of Wonders after arranging for his arrest, and later to trick Hercules into fighting Aladdin.
However, after wishing to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world, he could levitate objects, breath fire, summon objects, and transform himself and others. In addition, he is also immune to the effects of fire, as evidenced by his passing through the flames generated by him unharmed immediately before transforming himself into a giant Cobra. Jafar's next wish - to become a genie - made him arguably one of the most powerful entities in the Disney universe.
However, after he was killed and later revived by Hades as a spirit in an episode of the Hercules animated series, Jafar no longer has his genie powers but remains as a sorcerer.
Jafar is unique among Disney villains in that he initially starts off as being relatively normal (i.e., non-magical, his staff's hypnosis capabilities aside), yet eventually gains genuine magical powers late into the film, as most Disney Villains before him either lacked magic from their various appearances (i.e., Gaston, Percival McLeach, or Madame Medusa), or otherwise were magical from the start (i.e., Ursula, The Evil Queen, or Maleficent).
- Sultan Hamed - Former thrall and former slave
- Jasmine - Former love interest
- Aladdin - Attempted victim and arch-nemesis
- Abu - Kidnapper
- Genie - Former slave and kidnapper
- Magic Carpet
- Iago - Former pet and minion turned killer
- Hercules - Attempted victim turned second killer
The Return of Jafar
- He is ranked #2 in the Top 30 Disney Villains, second only to Maleficent.
- In the House of Mouse episode "House of Magic", Jafar and Iago use the famous magic spell Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo to return the House of Mouse after Daisy Duck magically causes it to vanish, and were tricked by Mickey to receive "Agrabah" as a reward for their good deeds.
- Jafar also appeared in the 2001 direct-to-video film Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse as one of the Disney Villains who celebrate Christmas and is even shown in the music song "The Best Christmas of All" as one of its notable singers, singing it with his fellow villains alongside with many Disney heroes. Also, Jafar and Iago (as well as his enemies Genie, Carpet, Abu, and all of the Disney characters in the House of Mouse) are all insulted when Donald Duck refuses to change his bad mood towards Christmas.
- On February 26, 2014, when Aladdin was turned into a Broadway musical, Jonathan Freeman had voiced Jafar in his every appearance, so he returned to play the character onstage; he is the only Disney voice actor with this honor.
- Tim Curry, Kelsey Grammer, the late John Hurt, Christopher Lloyd, and Ian McKellen were all considered for the role of Jafar before Jonathan Freeman was cast.
- Patrick Stewart was originally going to voice Jafar, but scheduling conflicts with Star Trek: The Next Generation forced him to turn it down.
- In the 2019 remake of the film, it is implied that most of Jafar's negative traits and motives stemmed from having to grow up impoverished and bullied on by the populace of Sherebad, making him almost similar to his rival Aladdin, although their similarities differed in how they handled their suffering. Ironically, in the deleted scene, "Why Me" from the original as well as the restored version of the scene in the Broadway musical imply that Jafar was bullied and considered a street rat.
- Jafar is so far the only Disney villain to die in his second film.