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I finally found the pipsqueak who stole my steamboat!
~ Peg Leg Pete.
You just wait! Nobody, and I do mean nobody, messes with the mighty Pete!
~ Peg Leg Pete.
Pete, also commonly known as Peg Leg Pete, is the main antagonist (sometimes an anti-hero) of the Mickey Mouse franchise. He is a fictional villainous anthropomorphic cat created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. He's Mickey Mouse's arch-nemesis and rival of Donald Duck and Goofy.
Though usually associated with the Mickey Mouse universe, Pete appeared in Disney's cartoon series Alice Comedies and the Oswald cartoons before the first appearance of Mickey Mouse, which makes him the oldest Disney recurring character and the main antagonist of the Mickey Mouse franchise. He is the main deuteragonist of Goof Troop and a minor character in A Goofy Movie and An Extremely Goofy Movie.
He was voiced by the late founder Walt Disney from 1928 to 1929, the late Pinto Colvig from 1930 to 1933, the late Billy Bletcher from 1933 to 1960, Will Ryan from 1983 to 1992, and is currently voiced by Jim Cummings. In the DuckTales episode "Lost Crown of Genghis Khan", he (as Genghis Khan) was voiced by the late Jim MacGeorge.
I was born to cheat and lie! I'm a mean, rotten guy!
~ Pete in his villain song, in Mickey, Donald and Goofy: The Three Musketeers
Walt Disney is well-known for his dislike of cats, so it only makes sense that the most recurring feline character that he created, Pete, would have a personality that (while variable is given the appearance) has one trait that never changes: he is always up to no good. He can be called many things: a schemer, thief, monster, con artist, or even a heartless villain. Often relying on brute strength, Pete can sometimes be bumbling and incompetent, though he has sometimes been shown to be rather cunning, deceitful, manipulative, and intelligent in most incarnations. However, this has never prevented him from cheating people, though only to be foiled by a heroic character. In most roles, Pete is conceived as monstrous, being feared by most and challenged by few. His plans would range from kidnapping to taking over a country.
He was seen to smoke in earlier cartoons but has managed to kick the habit (though his smoking is still featured in a majority of his merchandise and promotional material). He also has many of the more negative traits associated with cats, such as self-importance, acting dumb to fool enemies into underestimating him, manipulating others to meet his ends, greed, and a habit of bullying those smaller and weaker than himself, but running like a coward when the tables are turned.
Aside from his truly villainous nature, Pete was shown to have a softer side, notably in Goof Troop and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Both depicted Pete as a mischievous schemer rather than a villain. However, in Goof Troop, Pete was viewed as argumentative by his son P.J. who would rather eat glass than go fishing with his father. In Clubhouse, Pete's nature was toned down incredibly for the target audience and became more of a friend than foe to Mickey and friends as the series progressed while maintaining the antagonistic role for specials. In Officer Duck, he showed a maternal side to his nature, and when he thought Donald was a baby, he cared for and enjoyed playing with him tremendously. Other admirable traits are his amazing tolerance for physical pain. Pete will also work himself half to death to accomplish his aspirations.
Like most Disney villains, Pete is fully aware of the fact that he is a cruel and objectionable villain and that people strongly dislike him. However, he takes pride in his evil deeds feeling no remorse for his victims for the most part. According to his villain musical number in the film Mickey, Donald and Goofy: The Three Musketeers, Pete believes if one can't be loved, they should be feared, explaining his nature. In that film, he also stated his mother disliked him. This aspect of his character has been featured several times in some of his later appearances, specifically House of Mouse, Clubhouse, and the Kingdom Hearts series, where Pete's ambitions have been revealed to be driven by loneliness and a lust for admiration, driving him to madness and villainy, as well as making him a rather tragic villain. This could also explain why he strongly detests Mickey Mouse and constantly goes out of his way to torment him, the mouse being all-around beloved by most who know him and more often than not coming out victorious through all endeavors, having everything Pete desires, but can never gain.
The popular Kingdom Hearts video game series portrays Pete as the bumbling sidekick-type that comically fails his evil missions, a classic example of a dumb muscle. While not always conceived as a major threat to the game's protagonist Sora, Pete manages to be a key part in the plots of his partner Maleficent. Because of his varying role as a villain, Pete can be one of three Disney villains (the others being Maleficent and Chernabog) who simply do what they do for just deliberate evil. However, on the Timeless River, 1920s Pete seemed perfectly reasonable, and even modern Pete missed his days as a steamboat captain.
Through all of the years the world has known the notorious Pete, whether he has been simply an antagonist or a full-blown villain, he still manages to play the part of the character he was created to be; the fellow everyone loves to hate.
Powers and Abilities
Herculean strength: Pete is never depicted as a weakling, and his greatest strength is that of the physical sort, and pretty much any of his appearances in media will display his daunting capabilities. His strength ranges from bending iron, spitting nails so hard that they stab walls, to punching Mickey Mouse hard enough to send him flying a good 20 feet.
Tolerance for pain: Pete is almost invincible. Crowbars is beaten on his head amuse him, fire cannot break his skin, and falling several thousands of feet into wet concrete cannot even maim him.
Speed: From time to time, Pete can run like a train, even during the years he smoked compulsively.
Intelligence: While he is occasionally portrayed as a simpleton, more often than not, Pete is incredibly diabolical. He is often very genre-savvy, such as in Mickey Mouse Takes a Trip, where he meowed to fool Pluto, used magic in World of Illusion and in A Goofy Movie, he almost ruined Goofy's holiday with Max.
He is ranked #23 in the Top 30 Disney Villains.
Despite being a cat, Pete is often mistaken for a bulldog.
Pete is one of the oldest Disney characters ever, predating Mickey Mouse, and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, making his first appearance in Alice Solves the Puzzle (February 15, 1925) as Bootleg Pete.
Pete is a relatively unpopular Disney character despite his history. Many people do not even know his name. He is even considered forgotten by Disney as he actually lives in The Land of the Forgotten in Epic Mickey, he does not even appear in Disneyland or Disneyworld with other Disney Villains or Mickey Mouse and friends, however, there is a "Pete's Silly Sideshow".
Pete made an appearance in a Mickey Mouse comic where he is revealed to be a Nazi agent. This has since then been swept under the rug for being somewhat disturbing for a beloved character, in fact, in all other media he is against the Nazis as Donald's drill instructor in WW2 cartoons, and he was the mascot of the real life U.S. Merchant Marine during World War 2. On top of this, even in the comics he is shown later working together with Mickey.
Pete's current voice actor, Jim Cummings says that despite Pete committing multiple bad deeds, he does not see Pete as a villain.