The story of the callous, ruthless and evil Judge Claude Frollo from the 1996 Oscar nominated Disney film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Hunchback of the Notre Dame
|“||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.|
Not much is known about his past nor earlier life, though Frollo resides in Paris, France, where he initially serves as a court judge. 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". For this reason, many gypsies (if not all of them) held a great fear of the tyrannical judge.
One night, a group of gypsies attempt to enter Paris in secret, 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 through the streets of Paris. The woman arrives at Notre Dame and tries to gain Sanctuary in the church, but Frollo catches up to her. As he wrestles the "stolen goods" from her, he kicks her in the abdomen, causing her to fall head-first on the front steps of the church and die instantly.
He then finds out the goods were actually her hideously deformed son, whom he attempts to throw down a well, believing him to be an "unholy demon" due to his deformities and that doing so would "send it back to Hell where it belongs", but he is stopped by the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. Though Frollo defends his actions regarding the death of the woman and his attempt to drown the child, the Archdeacon tells him that even though he could hide his crimes from the public and lie to himself about his justifications, he could never hide his crimes from the eyes of the Virgin Mary (Notre Dame being French for "Our Lady.")
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. Frollo decided that the child may have some future use for him as he intends to make those plans a reality.
As Quasimodo grows up as the bell-ringer of Notre Dame, Frollo regularly visited him and put his corrupted beliefs in the latter's mind as well persuading him to never venture outside to avoid the hatred of the world, which he describes as cruel and unforgiving for deformed people. It is also shown that he lied to Quasimodo about the fate of his mother, telling him she never loved him and abandoned him which caused him to take him in.
20 Years Later
|“||Good morning, Quasimodo.||„|
|~ Frollo greets Quasimodo.|
20 years later, Frollo has risen to become Minister of Justice, and has almost complete control over Paris' affairs while the king is away at war. When doing his usual lesson with Quasimodo, Frollo is infuriated to learn that Quasimodo is interested in attending the annual Festival of Fools. He refuses to let Quasimodo attend, as it goes against his edict that Quasimodo never leave the bell tower under any circumstances. He also admits that even though he is required to attend the festival due to his status as a public official, he doesn't enjoy it at all and in fact utterly loathes the concept of the Festival of Fools, describing it as "the dregs of humankind all mixed together in a shallow, drunken stupor." He convinces Quasimodo to forsake his desire to attend the festival to avoid the harrowing judgments that the rest of Paris supposedly has for people who are deformed.
Later, Frollo recruits renowned solider and war hero Phoebus to serve as his new captain of the guards and join him in his campaign against the gypsies. Though Phoebus is skeptical about the gypsies being an actual threat, he agrees to help Frollo.
While attending the festival, Frollo discovers a gypsy dancer named Esmeralda, who both attracts and disgusts him with her beauty. Shortly afterwards, Quasimodo is revealed to have changed his mind about attending the festival and has secretly joined the festivities, but his cover is ultimately blown when he is nominated to become King of Fools (an award given to the person with the "ugliest face in Paris") and the others figure out that he is indeed Notre Dame's hidden bell-ringer. Frollo is clearly infuriated that Quasimodo has disobeyed him, and is even more so when he is ultimately crowned King of Fools.
In the midst of the cheers for Quasimodo, one of Frollo's guards throws a tomato at Quasimodo. Another guard throws a tomato at him too, causing the rest of the crowd to start throwing food at him as well. Several others tie him down, and the crowd continues throwing food at him, cruelly laughing at him and mocking him. Quasimodo begs Frollo for help, but a displeased Frollo allows the torment to continue to punish him for his disobedience, even refusing to allow Phoebus to put a stop to the torment.
Esmeralda then comes to Quasimodo's aid, cutting him loose despite Frollo ordering her not to. She berates the judge for tormenting the innocents he is supposed to protect. Frollo fails in silencing her and vows that she will pay for defying him. Esmerelda defies him once again when she proclaims that Frollo is the real King of Fools and throws Quasimodo's crown at his feet.
Frollo orders Esmerelda to be arrested, but she is able to evade his guards at the Festival with magic tricks, which Frollo describes as "witchcraft." Frollo is left humiliated by his and his guards' inability to capture her. He then continues to search for Esmeralda after silently scolding the heartbroken Quasimodo for disobeying him.
The gypsy girl is only able to escape Frollo's wrath by sneaking into Notre Dame, where she is beyond Frollo's reach due to the divine right of Sanctuary. However, Phoebus is able to follow her in, but she stands up to him and fights him to a draw, earning his respect. Frollo barges into the cathedral and demands that Phoebus take her into custody, but Phoebus claims Sanctuary for Esmerelda on her behalf. Frollo demands that Esmerelda be "dragged outside", but the Archdeacon arrives and reminds Frollo of the sanctity of the church. An angered Frollo then orders his guards to leave, but he himself hides behind a pillar.
|“||You think you've outwitted me. But I'm a patient man. And gypsies don't do well inside stone walls. (Esmeralda: What are you doing?) I was just imagining a rope around that beautiful neck. (Esmeralda: I knew what you were imagining!) Such a clever witch. So typical of your kind to twist the truth to cloud the mind with unholy thoughts. You've chosen a magnificent prison, but it is a prison nonetheless. Set one foot outside, and you're mine!||„|
|~ Frollo obsessing with Esmeralda.|
While the Archdeacon escorts Phoebus out of the cathedral, Frollo comes up behind Esmerelda and grabs her, threatening her by saying that gypsies don't do well inside stone walls. He then proceeds to sniff her hair inappropriately and gropes her neck. Esmerelda is utterly disgusted and shoves Frollo away. He then accuses Esmerelda of "clouding [his] mind with unholy thoughts." As he leaves the cathedral, Frollo taunts Esmerelda saying that Notre Dame was a "magnificent prison, but a prison nontheless." He then informs her that he would have her arrested the second she stepped outside of the church. He then posts guards at every entrance, effectively trapping Esmerelda inside Notre Dame.
Frollo Continues his Plans
|“||I feel her, I see her, the sun caught in her raven hair, is blazing in me out of all control… like fire! Hellfire! This fire in my skin. This burning desire is turning me to sin!||„|
|~ Frollo confessing his lust for Esmeralda, during Hellfire.|
That night at the Palace of Justice, Frollo is disturbed by his attraction and lust for Esmerelda. Despite this, he believes he is one of God's purest men and thus protests against the Lord, shifting the blame of his crimes on others and coming to the conclusion that Esmerelda must have put a spell on him to damn his soul, and that his desires for her were not his fault at all. He resolves to have Esmerelda for herself, and failing that, kill 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. The next day, he leads his guards in a ruthless manhunt for Esmerelda, raiding portions of the city and offering a reward to any of the gypsies who would help him find Esmerelda. The gypsies, of course, refuse to sell out one of their own, and Frollo has them imprisoned.
Frollo later arrives at the home of a miller and his family and accuses them of hiding gypsies in his home when he discovers a gypsy talisman on the miller's property. The miller protests his innocence in the whole affair and begs mercy from Frollo, who refuses to listen and places the miller and his family under house arrest. He then orders Phoebus to burn down the mill with the family still inside, simply to make examples of the "traitors."
Phoebus, appalled that Frollo wanted to murder an entire family of innocent people, refuses the order outright. The fanatical judge calls Phoebus an "insolent coward" before setting the mill ablaze himself, but Phoebus, refusing to allow any innocents to die, runs into the burning building and saves the family before they are harmed.
Frollo then orders Phoebus to be executed for his insubordination right then and there, but before Phoebus can be killed, a disguised Esmerelda throws a rock at Frollo's horse, causing the horse to throw Frollo off. Phoebus then steals the horse and rides away to escape Frollo and his guards. The guards shoot at Phoebus with arrows, with one piercing him in the back, near his heart. Phoebus falls off the judge's horse and into the river. Leaving Phoebus for dead, Frollo and his guards resume the search for Esmerelda. Unbeknownst to Frollo, Esmerelda was able to rescue Phoebus and secretly brings him back to Notre Dame where she and Quasimodo help nurse him back to health.
As night falls, Frollo's hunt has left Paris burning and in ruins, with Esmerelda still nowhere to be found. Frollo is at a loss to explain how the gypsy girl could have possibly escaped Notre Dame when he had it completely surrounded. He then comes to the conclusion that the only way she could have escaped without alerting his guards would be if Quasimodo helped her.
Frollo visits Quasimodo unannounced, and though at first Frollo appears to be visiting him as he normally does, he finally reveals that he is aware that Quasimodo helped Esmerelda escape. Though Quasimodo protests that he was simply repaying the girl for her kindness to him, Frollo angrily rages at him for falling victim to her "cunning." However, Frollo calms down and concedes that Quasimodo could never stand a chance against Esmerelda's "heathen treachery" and promised to free him from her "evil spell" by revealing that he had discovered the gypsy hideout, the Court of Miracles, and at dawn, he would attack with a thousand men; this is actually a lie to prompt Quasimodo to seek out the Court himself and find it for Frollo.
Quasimodo and a recovered Phoebus go to the Court of Miracles to warn the gypsies of the judge's impending attack. However, Frollo successfully follows them and lays siege the Court, arresting all the gypsies and mocking Quasimodo for "finally being of use" to him. After they leave the Court, Frollo has Quasimodo chained up in the bell tower, to prevent him from leaving Notre Dame again.
|“||The prisoner Esmeralda has been found guilty of the crime of witchcraft. The sentence: death! The time has come, Gypsy. You stand upon the brink of the abyss. Yet, even now, it is not too late. I can save you from the flames of this world and the next. Choose me or the fire.||„|
|~ Frollo attempts to lure Esmeralda to him before she spats on his face.|
Frollo organizes a public execution of Esmerelda in the courtyard of Notre Dame, sentencing her to be burned at the stake for witchcraft. However, before the execution begins, Frollo offers her one last chance: he will pardon her and allow her to walk away alive, but only if she becomes his mistress. Esmerelda refuses and defiantly spits in the judge's face. Frollo then begins the process of burning Esmerelda alive, but Quasimodo is able to free himself from his chains and swings into the courtyard to rescue her, hiding her in an upper chamber of the church.
Enraged that Quasimodo has interfered yet again, the maddened judge finally loses what remains of his sanity and orders his men to attack Notre Dame, telling his men to grab a wooden beam to break down the door. In the chaos, Phoebus is able to free himself from imprisonment and rallies the citizens of Paris against Frollo and his soldiers. The other gypsies are freed as well and join the fray, causing the chaos to erupt into a fully-fledged battle. Quasimodo and his gargoyle friends take charge of the defense of Notre Dame itself and are able to prevent quite a few soldiers from entering the church, but not stop the assault fully. Quasimodo resorts to pouring a large vat of molten lead down into the courtyard to stop the soldiers' advance. The molten lead completely surrounds Notre Dame and is successful in stopping Frollo's soldiers, but not the judge himself, who is able to cut a small entrance into the door with his sword, large enough for him to get in.The Archdeacon tries to stand up to Frollo and stop his assault on the church, but Frollo shoves him out of the way and down the staircase leading up to the bell tower, causing him to break his leg. Frollo locks him out of the tower, telling him that he and Quasimodo have "unfinished business", and that, "this time, [he] would not interfere."
Though Quasimodo is initially celebrating the victory against Frollo, Esmerelda has fallen unconscious because of smoke inhalation, and Quasimodo's attempts to revive her are not successful. Frollo finds him sobbing over her, believing her to be dead. Frollo asserts guilt, vindicating his actions by stating he was simply doing his duty. However, Quasimodo realizes the judge's true intentions when he notices Frollo raising a dagger, clearly intending to kill him. Quasimodo overpowers Frollo, wrenching the dagger from his grip and throwing him to the floor.
A surprised Frollo momentarily abandons his pride and begs Quasimodo to listen to him, but Quasimodo has finally had enough of Frollo's lies. He then goes on an emotional tirade about how all his life Frollo had told him that the world was a dark, cruel place, and that he now sees that people who are just like Frollo are the only reason why. In the midst of Quasimodo's tirade, Esmerelda finally comes to. Enraged that Esmerelda was still alive, Frollo draws his sword and advances on them both, but Quasimodo picks her up and quickly darts onto the church's balcony and out of sight.
|“||(Frollo looks over the balcony and sees Quasimodo and Esmeralda dangling from the balcony gargoyles) Leaving so soon? (Frollo swipes his sword at Quasimodo and Esmeralda.) (Guard: Look up there!) (Quasimodo: Hang on!) (Frollo swings his sword, just nicking Quasi's arm. Frollo lunges again as Quasimodo shoves Esmeralda out of the way.) I should have known you'd risk your life to save that Gypsy witch! Just as your own mother died trying to save you. (Quasimodo: What?!) And now, I'm going to do what I should've done… 20 YEARS AGO!||„|
|~ Frollo chases Esmeralda & Quasimodo across the balcony. He finally confesses and admits to Quasimodo, that he murdered the Hunchback's mother, when she tried to save him as an infant, a fact which mirrored Quasimodo's attempts to save Esmeralda. He then attempts to knock Quasimodo off the cathedral, only to fall over himself.|
Frollo searches for the two and finally finds them trying to climb down the wall. He tries to cut off the gargoyle structure Quasimodo was hanging on, but Quasimodo leaps to another one out of Frollo's reach. Quasimodo keeps evading Frollo and manages to climb back onto the balcony.
Blinded by rage, Frollo confesses that he killed Quasimodo's mother when she tried to protect him as a baby, while before he always said that she abandoned him. As such, Frollo proclaims his intention to kill his former ward. He blinds Quasimodo with his cloak and attempts to throw him into the molten lead below, but Quasimodo manages to hold on and pulls Frollo along with him.
Instead of letting his foe fall, Quasimodo holds him and the cape tightly while Frollo maintains his hold on the cape, with his own grip on the balcony weakening. Esmerelda attempts to pull Quasimodo to safety. Taking advantage of the distraction, Frollo is able to climb onto part of the wall onto another gargoyle structure. Rather than getting to safety, he steadies himself and cackles madly at their situation. With an evil grin, the demented judge raises his sword to kill them both, proclaiming that "He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit"—a direct quote from the Bible.
At that very moment, the gargoyle he is standing on cracks partway, causing him to lose his balance and hang on to the gargoyle for dear life. The gargoyle then comes to life and roars at him menacingly before breaking away from the cathedral completely, sending a screaming Frollo plunging into the molten lead a long way below, where he dies a well-deserved death and finally gets his eternal comeuppance.
Frollo's death can be interpreted as divine intervention: The gargoyle being the symbol of God, "judging" Frollo as "the wicked" and therefore casting him into the "fiery pit" of Hell, symbolised in the form of the molten lead. Alternatively, it might be the doing of Notre Dame itself, who is implied to be sentient throughout the movie. In the end, Frollo finally suffers the fate that he had feared so greatly and was the driving force for all his actions in the film—the damnation of his very soul.
With Frollo gone, Quasimodo gives Esmeralda and Phoebus his blessing, and dares venture outside Notre Dame, where the people welcome him warmly, prompting Clopin to reprise the introduction song, but after singing "who is the monster and who is the man" the first time, he now asks "what makes a monster and what makes a man" to hammer the point home.
House of Mouse
Frollo makes a few cameos in the series. In "Everybody Loves Mickey", he was seen sitting with Grumpy and Grimsby, with all three giving their trademark dry expressions in response to the comedy of Mortimer Mouse.
In "Dining Goofy", he showed to be unamused with the fact that he was seated with the Mad Hatter, calling him Frumpy during the time that Goofy lets Daisy know that he changed the seating chart so that the audience could make new friends, which did not work out.
He also appears in Mickey's House of Villains, but not as one of the villains that take over. Instead, he only appears in a crowd shot in between the cartoons shorts, taking place before the takeover. During Jafar's reign as host, however, Frollo is nowhere to be seen whatsoever, implying that he possibly left the club before Jafar's plan started.
Kingdom Hearts Dream: Drop Distance
|“||This is no demon. It is righteous judgment.||„|
|~ Judge Claude Frollo talking to Riku about Wargoyle.|
Judge Claude Frollo serves as a villain in the video game Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. In this mix of the Disney and Square Enix multiverses, he is confronted in the world La Cité des Cloches (French for The City of Bells), depicting a medieval Paris around Notre Dame Cathedral. As Sora and Riku, the primary protagonists, are travelling separately to fully restore the Sleeping Worlds from Darkness, they end up in La Cité des Cloches, where they both witness different events of the movie. In this version, Frollo was voiced by Corey Burton.
Riku first arrives when Phoebus is chasing Esmeralda at Frollo's command but denies having seen her running away. As Frollo is scolding Phoebus, Esmeralda befriends Riku, telling him about Frollo's genocidal quest and directs him to Notre Dame. While initially sympathetic to Frollo, having himself fallen in Darkness, Riku realizes the abuses he puts Quasimodo through and encourages the bell-boy to follow his heart.
Meanwhile, Frollo accosts Sora, believing him to be a gypsy due to the clothes he wears. As Phoebus suddenly barges in, reporting that monsters have invaded the town, Sora deduces that he speaks about Dream Eaters and rushes to fight them, followed by Phoebus who worries that he is but a kid. Left alone, Frollo starts ranting against all of the "threats to law and order" he spent his life-fighting.
They witness Quasimodo, crowned Kings of Fools as in the movie, riding Dream Eaters. Frollo's arrival causes the Dream Eaters to go berserk, and Sora confronts them as Esmeralda helps Quasimodo go back to the cathedral. Upon venturing into Notre Dame, Sora witnesses Quasimodo help Esmeralda escape from the guards that prevent her from leaving the cathedral's sanctuary, then Frollo ruining Quasimodo's self-esteem with false kindness.
As Riku is searching for Frollo, hoping to save him from Darkness, he witnesses him trying to burn the innocent Miller family in their house, with an outraged Phoebus standing against him to defend them. When Frollo summons the powerful Nightmare Dream Eater known as the Wargoyle, delusionally ranting that it is a gift from God to help him "cleanse the world", Riku understands that the fanatic has sunk too low and resolves to stop him. With Phoebus wounded Riku rushes after Frollo alone.
While Phoebus has been stripped from his rank, he warns Sora that Frollo is about to invade the Court of Miracles. With Quasimodo's help, they rush there to warn the gypsies, but as in the movie, this is a trap and Frollo barges in after following them. He subdues them with his Nightmares Dream Eaters takes Esmeralda prisoner, indifferent to Quasimodo's desperate pleas, and prepares to burn her at the stake. Sora rushes to stop him, but he has a Dream Eater knock out the boy. When Sora reaches Notre Dame, Quasimodo has already rescued Esmeralda from the stake and is taking her into the cathedral.
Riku confronts Frollo atop Notre Dame’s towers, as the unhinged fanatic is gleefully watching Paris burning, and calls him out on his delusion, calling him "a sad old man with a dark heart", but Frollo summons the Wargoyle to "pass judgment". As the monster's appearance knocks him overboard, Frollo falls into the fire while cackling maniacally and yelling "Judgment is mine!" However, he somehow survives, unless the dream in which Sora is present is not the same, which remains unclear. After a short confrontation with Ansem, Seeker of Darkness and Young Xehanort, Riku defeats the Wargoyle and shatters its wing, causing it to fall into the fire.
Since Sora must face the now-wingless Wargoyle, hinting that it was the same that fought Riku, he cannot prevent Frollo from barging into the cathedral after his former ward. Just like in the movie, Frollo attacks Quasimodo and Esmeralda with a sword and reveals the awful truth about Quasimodo's mother's fate, but he fells overboard after Quasimodo dodges his sword strike. As Esmeralda desperately tries to keep Quasimodo from falling, the fanatic climbs the gargoyle while blaspheming, only to fall to his well-deserved doom.
In Riku's story, Judge 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!". Afterward, Ansem appears and briefly threatens Riku with Frollo's dropped blade, before discarding it and leaving.
In the novel series Kingdom Keepers, Judge 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, and he also has command over an army of Green Army Men. 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).