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Proteus-gargoyles

Since Thailog and Jackal have both been recently approved, I’ve decided to help by doing a formality proposal for the other Gargoyles villain that is listed as Pure Evil. Oh, and for anyone wondering “wait, who on Earth is this guy”, I’m the same person you’ve all known as ThatScrewyDuck until now. I just finally decided to go through with changing my username to one I liked more after occasionally debating about it for months now. So never fear, I’m not some random entitled hotshot who just decided to barge onto the wiki specifically to do PE proposals and not bother to read the rules first. With that established, time for my first proposal under my new identity.

What’s the work?

Gargoyles is an acclaimed American animated series from the mid-90s that was created by Greg Weisman, produced by Walt Disney Pictures and distributed by Buena Vista Television. Its initial run lasted two seasons and 65 episodes. There was a third season released a little later that was called The Goliath Chronicles and lasted 13 episodes, but it’s widely considered non-canon due to the lack of involvement from Weisman, and the completely different tone and storytelling. Anyway, the series features a species of nocturnal creatures known as gargoyles that turn to stone during the day and focuses on a clan led by one named Goliath. The clan originally lived in a castle in Scotland way back in 994. However, most of them are betrayed and killed by humans, and the few that survive are magically cursed to sleep—i.e., be frozen in stone form—until the castle "rises above the clouds." A thousand years later, in 1994, billionaire David Xanatos purchases the gargoyles' castle and has it reconstructed atop his New York skyscraper, the Eyrie Building, thus awakening Goliath and the remainder of his clan. They soon come to think of Manhattan as their home and act as its protectors, but in the meantime, each of them tries to adjust to living in the modern world. They are aided in this by a sympathetic female police officer, Elisa Maza, and quickly come into conflict with the plotting Xanatos. In addition to that, the series also incorporated various supernatural threats to their safety and to the world at large.

During the second season, there’s a lengthy story arc named the “Avalon World Tour” where, starting with the three-part Avalon episode, Goliath, his daughter Angela, Elisa and Bronx (a gargoyle who acts a lot like the team’s pet dog) are sent on a series of quests by the magical island of Avalon before they can return home to Manhattan. Among their many stops is an island called New Olympus, which is home to a race of superhuman beings called New Olympians that resemble the various creatures of Greek Mythology, from whom they descend. And that’s where this guy comes in…

Who is he and what does he do?

Proteus is the main antagonist of the episode The New Olympians, and is a criminal among his kind who has apparently made numerous attempts to escape the island with the intention of wreaking havoc on the outside world. While most New Olympians are pretty benevolent, some are very hostile to the protagonists due to being very distrustful of humans thanks to their past experiences, which immediately earns Elisa their scorn, and by extension, the others for associating with her. He, however, is one of the few who is just plain evil. He is first seen in his cell when Elisa is escorted there due to the New Olympians arresting her simply for their misplaced hatred and distrust towards her. It is revealed that the last time he tried to escape the island, he killed the last security chief, which was none other than the father of the current security chief, Taurus. He’s also a shapeshifter, so he frequently takes the form of Taurus’ father just to psychologically mess with and hurt him.

Naturally, shortly after Elisa is unfairly imprisoned, Goliath tries to discreetly break her out. However, Proteus uses his shapeshifting ability to take her form and trick Goliath into releasing him while the real Elisa is sleeping. He then traps Goliath in his cell, shapeshifts into him and pretends he’s there to rescue Elisa. While they’re escaping through the city’s alley ways, Proteus, still in disguise, convinces her to go back to the boat they came on to provide a diversion while he goes to the island’s main power source, which is located at the city’s “Colomnadium”, to overload it, so that the resulting “fireworks will keep the locals busy”. Elisa, however, knows what he really means by this; he intends to blow it up and kill many of the inhabitants by doing so, which he justifies by claiming they deserve it for how they treated her. Between Elisa knowing that Goliath would never do such a thing and noticing that he hasn’t turned to stone despite it being morning (which he justifies with the excuse that the island’s cloaking device must be strong enough to block the sun’s rays), she easily deduces that it’s Proteus, but she pretends to go along with the plan.

Proteus then shapeshifts into Taurus to get there without any trouble and immediately starts tampering with the power source using a small console, in spite of the robot guardian, Talos, warning him that he could cause an explosion big enough to destroy the whole island and everyone on it if he continues. When Talos starts to get suspicious, he pretends to stop, only to turn into his cyclops form and kill him by first punching a hole through him from behind, then hurling him off the building. He then delightfully proceeds to overload it to an even more critical level. Thankfully, he is quickly interrupted by Elisa and Taurus, due to Elisa hijacking a hover-chariot, getting Taurus’ attention and leading him there, since she had figured out who he was and was intent on stopping his plot. Taurus and Proteus then get into a brief fight, with Proteus temporarily getting the upper hand and once again taking the form of his father to try breaking his spirit, but Taurus quickly turns the tables and knocks him out cold. He then proceeds to quickly stabilize the power supply before it can hit a critical level, and encases Proteus in goo to hold him until he can put him back in prison.

On a minor note, he also appears in an episode from The Goliath Chronicles called Seeing Isn’t Believing where he escapes from captivity and heads to New York to take “sweet and protracted revenge” on the clan and Elisa, but since it’s non-canon, I won’t bother focusing too much on it. To briefly summarize though, apart from not getting the chance to attempt anything nearly as bad as attempting to wipe out all of his own kin, his characterization is exactly the same; he captures Goliath to lead his friends to him so that he can kill them all while gloating about all the fun he can now have impersonating people like police officers and wreaking havoc to his heart’s content. Taurus, Elisa, Angela and Hudson then track him down and briefly engage him in a battle while he’s in a more monstrous form before Taurus is able to successfully put him in a force field cell and recapture him while he’s impersonating and fighting Elisa.

Mitigating Factors

In a word, zilch. Unlike Xanatos, Demona, and most of Gargoyles’ other major and recurring villains, Proteus has no one he remotely cares about, only seeing everyone around him as a pawn to trick or manipulate at best, nor any sort of tragic backstory or some other kind of excuse for being the way he is; he’s just a chaos-loving maniac/psycho who does everything he does for the fun of it. He may have pretended to be Goliath and broke Elisa out as well when he escaped, but that was solely to gain her trust and convince her to act as a diversion to pull off his plan.

Heinousness

Gargoyles has a surprisingly high heinous standard for what’s, at least in theory, a family cartoon, due to being a characteristically dark and complex one like others from the 90s such as Batman: The Animated Series. Here are the series’ most heinous acts that I can remember; at the very beginning of it, a man named Hakon and his band of Vikings wipe out most of Goliath’s clan during the day while they’re encased in stone, Demona made at least a couple of serious attempts at mass murder towards humans due to her overwhelming need for vengeance against them, and Jackal, one of the more depraved members of a group of mercenaries originally organized and funded by Xanatos called The Pack, once tried to kill all life on Earth when he obtained the power of Anubis. Don’t get me wrong, acts of attempted mass murder and genocide like this are more of the exception rather than the norm for this series. They’re certainly not as commonplace as, say, most iterations of X-Men. But the fact they’re present at all can be pretty jarring.

However, with that established, I still think Proteus handily stands out for having what’s essentially attempted genocide on his rap sheet, despite only appearing in one episode (two if you include The Goliath Chronicles, but again, not canon) and having maybe 10 minutes of total screen time. He fully intended to overload the New Olympians’ main power supply to such a critical state that it would cause an explosion powerful enough to destroy the whole island before escaping. For extra heinous points, one, these were his own people, and two, he had no particular reason for doing it, not even the usual petty revenge motive; in a very similar vein to Jackal’s stunt, it was literally just for his own amusement. That… definitely ranks among the series’ worst attempted atrocities, even in one with a higher standard like this.

Final Verdict

Despite being, or perhaps specifically because he’s a one-shot villain, I think he makes for a pretty easy approval. It’s not too often that such a minor villain with so little screentime manages to stand out as one of the most senselessly evil, depraved and chaotic ones in a series with so many different villains in general. But as always, it’s up to you. Thanks for reading!

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