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Tramp: What's wrong, Pidge? Lady: A rat! Tramp: Where? Lady: Upstairs! In the baby's room!
~ Lady informing Tramp of the danger.
The Rat is the final antagonist of Disney's fifteenth full-length animated feature film Lady and the Tramp (which is based on Happy Dan, The Cynical Dog by the late Ward Greene), and the main antagonist of its 2019 live-action remake of the same name.
In the 1955 original film, its vocal sound effects were provided by the late Mel Blanc. In the 2019 remake, its vocal sound effects were provided by Frank Welker.
Lady first encounters the rat one day in her yard. The rat tries to creep into the house, but Lady growls and chases it away, escaping through a hole in the fence.
The rat later appears in the climax of the film. It emerges from the hole in the fence that it was chased into earlier. It watches Tramp walk away after an argument between Lady and he, then proceeds to make its way to the house.
Lady (who is chained to her doghouse) sees the mysterious rat sneaking through a pile of logs. Lady comes out growling and barking to confront it, but the rat stays out of her reach and runs up onto the ivy growing on the house, giving Lady a taunting stare before climbing up to the gutter. Lady continues to bark, attempting to warn of the rat. However, Aunt Sarah simply shushes her and yells at her. Taking advantage of Sarah being distracted, the rat makes its way into the baby's room through an open window. Tramp hears Lady's barking and asks what is wrong, and Lady informs him of the rat and where it went. She tells him how to get into the house, so he can go save the baby.
Tramp enters the house and makes his way to the baby's room, seeing the rat lurking under the furniture, hissing, illuminated only by the flashes of lightning outside. As Tramp approaches, the rat makes a sudden dash for the baby's cradle, to which Tramp gives chase. He diverts the rat away from the crib and chases it back under the furniture, then back out again. With nowhere to run, the rat turns and attacks Tramp, clawing and biting while also jumping on his back. Tramp manages to throw it off and even briefly bite it, but the rat keeps fighting.
The rat jumps on the furniture, causing Tramp to chase it again, knocking over housewares and causing a mess. It leads Tramp back under the furniture, getting Tramp temporarily stuck. As Tramp frees himself, the rat runs over to the cradle and sneers at Tramp. Lady comes in as Tramp frees himself. The rat prepares to jump into the cradle and escape, but Tramp jumps up just before the rat makes it inside and grabs it out of the air, accidentally knocking the cradle over and waking up the baby in the process.
As Lady rushes over to check on the crying baby, the rat runs from Tramp, who catches up to it and traps it behind a chair. The two then engage in a violent fight of clawing and biting, knocking over more items and tearing down the curtains. Though the battle is vicious, Tramp emerges victorious, killing the rat with only minor damage to his left front paw.
However, the baby's cries awakens Aunt Sarah and she comes in and, misunderstanding the situation, thinks Tramp attacked the baby. She has the dogcatcher come to pick him up, and locks Lady in the basement, though Lady is desperately trying to show her the rat's corpse to prove Tramp's innocence. Luckily, Lady's owners arrive back home and let her free, and she shows them the dead rat, making both her owners and Aunt Sarah realize Tramp's innocence.
Tramp is later rescued by Jock and Trusty and becomes a member of the family as thanks for killing the vermin; even Aunt Sarah sends in a box of dog biscuits as an apology for her earlier behavior towards the dogs. As of the Rat's corpse, it's evidently disposed of offscreen.
Lady and the Tramp (2019)
The rat plays a bigger role in the remake, having been promoted to the main antagonist of the film. It has been trying to sneak into the house multiple times and Lady always fends it off.
It is first seen when Lady catches him scavenging their delivery eggs and she says to him that if he doesn't want any trouble then he might know what trouble looks like, and then she chases him away. as Lady watches the rat leave she shouts to him "I hope I made my self clear!", Trusty hears about the rat and decides to sniff him out, despite Lady's protests that she already handled the situation. Later, some dialogue between Jim and Elliot the Dogcatcher reveals that he is aware of the rat problem and has been a pest to them for some time.
When Lulu is finally born, Lady hears noises coming from the window and realizes that the rat is sneaking inside. As the rat climbs into the window, Lady chases it off and it flees. As Lady continues to bark at it, Jim, unaware of the situation, takes her outside.
As Tramp leaves the house, Lady realizes that the rat is climbing into Lulu's room and she barks at it as it enters the room. Lady tries to warn her owners, but Jim locks her in a closet as they are interviewing with the dogcatcher, Elliot. Tramp hears Lady's barks and she warns him about the danger. He manages to sneak past the dogcatcher and sneaks into Lulu's room, unaware that the rat is lurking behind the dollhouse.
As Tramp continues to search the room, he notices the rat from a mirror and it jumps onto his face, mauling him until he pushes it off. Tramp and the rat snarl at each other and a chase is ensued throughout the room. The rat leaps onto a shelf and then jumps down. Tramp chases it under a drawer as it hisses at him. The rat escapes and climbs onto the baby's crib, preparing to pounce. Tramp tries to get it off the crib, but it tips over, injuring him and causing the baby to cry. Tramp sees the rat clinging onto the curtains and pulls it down, causing the rat to fall. Tramp mauls the rat to death underneath the curtains with minor damage to his front paw.
Jim comes into the room and, misunderstanding the situation, believes that Tramp attacked the baby and hands him to the dogcatcher. Jim sets Lady free from the closet and she leads them to the room, where she shows them the rat's corpse, clearing Tramp's name. Realizing their mistake, Jim and Darling rescued Tramp from being impounded and adopted him as thanks for killing the rat.
The original incarnation was simply a hungry animal looking for food, yet still shows an extremely violent and destructive nature. It openly antagonizes the dogs, even taunting and sneering at them on occasion. It is unknown how much it truly wants to kill the baby, but considering that a rat can cause harm to the baby such as spreading rabies and other malignant disease, it is still a dangerous animal nonetheless.
However, the 2019 incarnation is more malevolent by nature, as it knew Lady for long enough to hate her, even trying to kill the baby largely for hurting its canine rival. While the original version was mostly a simple hungry animal, the 2019 version was smarter and shown greater signs of sadism.
The rat has gray and black fur. It has sharp teeth and two slanted, glowing yellow eyes. It also has a long pink tail, two small ears, and long whiskers. It is slim, yet extremely large, comparable in size to a small dog and even able to easily fight with larger animals as shown in the fight against Tramp.
In early drafts, the rat was intended to be more anthropomorphic and be named "Herman". He was even intended to go up against Si and Am. However, this idea was scrapped for unknown reasons, and the rat in the final product had no confirmed name or gender.
Also in early drafts, it was Lady that was supposed to fight and kill Herman instead of Tramp.
The rat is one of the two characters in Lady and the Tramp to die, and the only antagonist to die. The other death was one of the dogs in the pound being put down off-screen.
The first scene of Lady chasing the rat is not included in many book versions.
Lady and Tramp don't talk to The Rat in the 1955 movie, but in the 2019 remake they do.
The rat and the fight scene with Tramp has been considered to be scary and violent by some, stating it as a sudden dark moment in an otherwise lighthearted film.
The rat's gender is unclear, perhaps male since it was named Herman in the early script. In addition, his highly aggressive nature makes him more likely to be a male, as male animals are usually more aggressive than the females.
There have been several near-identical or similar rats making a cameo in later Disney shows and movies:
Many identical rats make various appearances in the Disneyland TV episode "The Great Cat Family".
There have been similar rats in a cameo appearance in Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure, when Angel chases them out of an alley.
Many identical rats make various appearances in the 1985 Disney film, The Black Cauldron.
Many identical rats make various appearances in The Little Mermaid TV episode "Scuttle".
The rat made a small cameo in the 1992 Disney film, Aladdin.
The rat made a small cameo in the 1995 Disney film, Pocahontas.
The rat made a small cameo in the 1996 Disney film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.