The Walt Disney Company has created thousands of iconic characters that have become embedded in American pop culture. Here are some delightful, diverse, and distinctive Disney characters that start with D.
The Best Disney Characters Starting with D
Daisy Duck (Debut: 1940)
Daisy Duck is the devoted, longtime girlfriend of Donald Duck. She first appeared in the 1940 animated short “Mr. Duck Steps Out”. Daisy has a sassy, independent personality, and tends to get impatient with Donald’s explosive temper. In spite of this occasional impatience, she also is dedicated to helping Donald control his temper when he’s ready to blow! Ironically, Daisy can also have a hot temper, although she’s still more even-headed than Donald.
There is more to Daisy than simply being Donald’s girlfriend. She is a duck who knows what she wants in any given situation and therefore can be seen as a bit of a diva. She certainly doesn’t lack any self-confidence! She’s interested in fashion and enjoys being the center of attention. She also has a competitive nature and definitely likes to win.
Dante (Coco, 2017)
Dante is a stray Xoloitzcuintle dog and loyal companion to the story’s main character Miguel. This small, mostly hairless breed is the National Dog of Mexico. Dante has a sweet, goofy personality, but as the story progresses it becomes apparent that he is much smarter than he looks.
Dante accompanies Miguel to the Land of The Dead and is key to helping the Rivera ancestors rescue Miguel and Hector when they are trapped by the double-crossing Ernesto de la Cruz. Eventually, Dante transforms into a colorful alebrije, or spirit guide.
Dante’s most endearing quality is his steadfast loyalty to Miguel. In spite of being small, and not treated very nicely by some of Miguel’s family, he shows a lot of courage when guiding Miguel through the afterlife. He remains in the Land of the Dead with the Rivera ancestors and fellow alebrije, Pepita after Miguel finds his way back to the Land of the Living. He does return to visit Miguel, along with the rest of the Rivera family ancestors, during the Day of The Dead celebrations.
- You Might Also Like: Winnie the Pooh Characters and Their Mental Disorders
Dale (Debut: 1943)
Dale is one half of the mischievous chipmunk duo of Chip and Dale. He is first seen in the 1943 animated short “Private Pluto”. Later, the two chipmunks gain popularity by becoming a recurring nemesis for Donald Duck in many animated shorts.
Dale can be distinguished from his chipmunk cohort Chip by being the one with a larger, red nose and a gap in his front teeth. His personality is a bit bumbling, easy-going, and very accident-prone. He usually stumbles into some form of trouble, which the more practical Chip helps him get out of.
Dale loves food, both eating it and hoarding it in his treetop home. The theme of stealing and storing food is common in many of the shorts where the chipmunk duo is pitted against Donald Duck.
In 1988, the premier of “Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers” on television brought about renewed popularity for these two adorable chipmunks. This show was part of the successful “Disney Afternoon” set of TV shows. True to Dale’s laid-back personality, he wore a casual Hawaiian print shirt in the series.
- You Also May Enjoy: How Disney World Characters Stay Cool in Costumes
Darkwing Duck (Debut: 1991)
If you watched any of the “Disney Afternoon” shows during the 80s and 90s, you’re probably familiar with “the terror that flaps in the night”: Darkwing Duck!
Darkwing is the mysterious protector of the city of St. Canard. This crime-fighting duck, loosely inspired by “Batman” and “The Shadow”, was the star of the Disney animated TV series of the same name. His alter-ego, Drake Mallard, is a devoted father to his often rebellious adopted daughter, Gosalyn. Gosalyn is aware of her father’s secret identity and has aspirations of her own to become a hero.
Darkwing is a bit egotistical (though good-hearted) and seems to enjoy the glory and fame of being a crime-fighting hero. He doesn’t have any superpowers; instead, he relies on his wits and an assortment of gadgets to defeat his enemies. Although he can sometimes seem a little bit clueless and bumbling, he ultimately always manages to save the day. In spite of being a bit clumsy, he is reportedly an expert in the martial art of Quack-Fu and was trained by the famous Goose Lee.
Darkwing made a few cameo appearances in the 2017 rebooted “Duck Tales” series. Since then, there have been rumors of a Darkwing Duck series reboot that will air on Disney+, but no debut date has been announced yet.
Dash (The Incredibles, 2004)
Dashiel Parr, better known as “Dash”, is the middle child in the super-powered family known as “The Incredibles”. He’s a mischievous, charming ten year boy with a highly competitive side. His amazing superhuman speed allows him to run across water and even up the side of buildings.
Dash, behaving like a “typical” little brother, takes delight in teasing his older sister, Violet. He also has a tendency to be impatient with his parents’ insistence that he be discreet with his superpowers. In spite of the small disagreements, he loves his family and ultimately learns how to work together with them as a team.
Dolores Madrigal (Encanto, 2021)
Dolores Madrigal is the oldest child, and only daughter, of Pepa and Felix Madrigal. Everyone in the Madrigal family has a magical gift that manifests when they are 5 years old, and Dolores’ gift is super-enhanced hearing. She can hear the sound of a single pin dropping or even the voices of the people in the nearby village.
Dolores is quiet, often speaking in whispers and hushed tones. She doesn’t like to be the center of attention and even seems a bit shy. She knows everyone’s secrets because she can’t help but overhear them. Even though she occasionally says something awkward, such as blurting out to the village children that Mirabel never received a magical gift, Dolores really doesn’t spread gossip.
Because of her sensitive hearing, she’ll often cover her ears when surrounded by loud noises like applause or fireworks. She’s the only one in her family that knew Bruno was still nearby because she could hear him in the walls. She didn’t share this information with the rest of her family, although the reason is unclear. Since she doesn’t like to be the center of attention, a trait possibly shared with her Uncle Bruno, she might have kept his secret out of respect for him.
Donald Duck (Debut: 1934)
Donald Duck debuted in the animated short “The Wise Little Hen”, but his second appearance in “Orphans Benefit” truly started him on his path to popularity. In “Orphans Benefit”, the audience was introduced to the first glimpse of Donald’s famous temper and outbursts.
Donald is impatient, hot-tempered, and enjoys playing pranks. He’s also fiercely loyal to his family and his girlfriend Daisy. Other than his famous temper, Donald’s most distinctive feature is his partially understandable voice. This voice was created by renowned voice actor Clarence “Ducky” Nash. Nash provided the voice of Donald for over 50 years, as well as for other characters.
Donald Duck has appeared in over 190 animated films, which is more than any other Disney character. Yes, that’s even more than Mickey Mouse!
Donald was the star of a series of wartime propaganda cartoons during WWII, which lead to him being featured on the nose artwork of virtually every type of World War allied combat aircraft. In 1984 during Donald Duck’s 50th birthday celebration, the U.S. Army officially retired Donald Duck from active duty with the rank of Sergeant.
Other than animated shorts and movies, Donald Duck comics have been popular all over the world. The comics depict Donald as living in the city of Duckburg, and introduced the world to characters like Scrooge McDuck, Gyro Gearloose, The Beagle Boys, Magica DeSpell, and others that are now well-known to Disney fans of the popular TV show, Ducktales. The comics have also led to Donald being perhaps more popular than even Mickey Mouse in some European countries.
Dopey (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937)
Dopey is the youngest of the seven Dwarfs. He has big blue eyes and comically oversized ears; both features that give him an endearing childlike expression. He’s the only one of the dwarfs who doesn’t speak. Happy explains Dopey’s mute state to Snow White by explaining that he doesn’t talk, and never tries.
Instead, Dopey communicates through gestures and facial expressions. The Disney animators who worked on Snow White did an amazing job of creating so many expressions with Dopey.
His personality is somewhat innocent and childlike. He’s the silliest of all the dwarfs, and seems to enjoy making the others laugh.
Dory (Finding Nemo, 2003 and Finding Dory, 2016)
Dory is a Regal Blue Tang fish, that befriends Marlin (a Clownfish) and accompanies him on his journey to find his missing son, Nemo. Dory has an outgoing and overly friendly personality and is extremely kind-hearted. She is enthusiastic about everything she does; and is one of the most optimistic Disney characters I can think of! She can be a bit naive and overly talkative, which Marlin finds irritating at times. In spite of that, the two become close friends by the end of the film.
She also suffers from short-term memory loss, which can make her seem a bit scatterbrained. In spite of the memory problems, she has the ability to “read human” and is fluent in speaking “whale”.
In the 2016 film “Finding Dory”, we learn how Dory became separated from her parents, and she eventually finds her way back to them. In this film, she shows some improvement with her memory issues, with several flashbacks that help her realize where her parents might be.
I love how Dory is portrayed as a little bit “different” in the way her brain works, but she still makes friends easily and proves to be very helpful. The unconditional acceptance of Dory by her friends is highlighted beautifully in both films.
Dottie “Doc” McStuffins (Debut: 2012)
Dottie “Doc” McStuffins is the star of the Disney Junior TV show: “Doc McStuffins”. Doc is a seven-year-old African American girl who aspires to be a doctor, just like her pediatrician mother. She practices for her future career by fixing her toys, dolls, and stuffed animals with her magic stethoscope. All of her “patients” are treated with kindness and compassion. In each episode, she performs a “check-up” on the toy she has helped and offers some helpful advice.
The series received considerable positive acclaim for its positive messaging for young African-American girls.
Drizella Tremaine (Cinderella, 1950; Cinderella II, 2002)
Drizella Tremaine is the oldest daughter of Lady Tremaine, and one of Cinderella’s two stepsisters. She’s tall and thin, not very graceful, with dark hair that she styles in spiral curls. She favors wearing chartreuse greens and blues in all her outfits.
Drizella has been raised to be a mean-spirited, selfish young woman who doesn’t show any kindness or compassion toward others. She’s also been taught to be ambitious in finding a rich husband to help her family’s social status. In “Cinderella II”, her sister Anastasia redeems herself and falls in love with the town baker, but Drizella never alters her own spoiled, hurtful personality. Some villains are just meant to always be villainous!
Duchess (The Aristocats, 1970)
Duchess is an elegant white Angora cat, with stunning blue eyes. She wears a gold collar, studded with diamonds. She is the mother to three adorable kittens: Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz.
Living up to her name, she has a gentle, refined personality, and moves with grace and elegance. Above all, she is kind and friendly to everyone. She’s an attentive mother to her rambunctious kittens, often scolding them for “play fighting”. Interestingly, Duchess is the first Disney main character to be a single parent.
Duchess and her family live in the home of a wealthy retired opera singer (Madame Bonfamille) who has named the cats in her will as her heirs. Edgar, a corrupt butler, kidnaps Duchess and her kittens and abandons them far away so he can become the beneficiary of Madame Bonfamille’s will. In spite of finding herself in such dire circumstances, Duchess always remains ladylike and fiercely maternal through this ordeal.
Duchess proves to be as brave as she is kind during the adventure to get herself and her kittens back to their home. She befriends (and falls in love with) an orange male cat named Thomas O’Malley, as well as several other alley cats who help her and her family. She is never judgmental about the strays who become her allies, and always treats them with gratitude and friendship.
Dug (Up, 2009)
Dug is a chubby, exuberant Golden Retriever. He lives near Paradise Falls and is part of a pack of guard dogs owned by Charles Muntz, the antagonist of the story. He has a special collar that translates his thoughts into human speech. Through this collar, Dug introduces himself to Carl and Russell with the phrase “My name is Dug. I have just met you and I love you.” If you’ve ever been around a Golden Retriever, you know that pretty much sums up their personality!
Dug is friendly and playful and seems to like just about everyone he meets. He’s good at following commands unless he happens to get distracted by nearby squirrels.
In 2009, Dug won the Palm Dog Award at the Cannes Film Festival. This award is given to dog/dogs for an outstanding performance in a movie.
Duke Caboom (Toy Story 4, 2019)
Duke Caboom is a 1970s-era stunt motorcyclist toy, based on “Canada’s greatest stuntman”. He wears a white jumpsuit and rides a motorcycle. Duke is a lost toy, having been discarded by his owner Rejean. Rejean tossed Duke Caboom away after being disappointed that the toy couldn’t perform all the stunts that were exaggerated in TV advertising. If you can remember toy commercials in the 70s and 80s, you know that over-the-top claims of a toy’s amazing capabilities were common.
Even though Duke isn’t as proficient at performing stunts as his advertising would lead one to believe, he spends of a lot of time striking heroic poses. He also seems to excel at crashing. Duke feels terrible about disappointing Rejean, yet he still has a lot of self-confidence and is friendly to everyone.
This character is obviously influenced by the Evel Knievel action figure that was so popular in the 1970s. It was also advertised as being capable of performing a variety of complex motorcycle stunts.
Dumbo (Dumbo, 1941)
Dumbo (originally named “Jumbo, Jr”) is a baby elephant with beautiful blue eyes and enormous ears. He is part of a traveling circus that features a troop of elephants. His ears are so huge that Dumbo frequently trips over them, and is mercilessly teased about them by the other elephants and circus performers. Dumbo is very shy and sweet and lacks confidence due to being separated from his mother and cruelly bullied.
It is these huge ears that allow Dumbo to become “the ninth wonder of the universe” when he realizes he can fly. The discovery is made after he accidentally drinks some champagne with his friend Timothy Q. Mouse, and they wake up in the branches of a tall tree. Some friendly crows help to boost Dumbo’s confidence by giving him a “magic” feather that will allegedly help him fly.
Eventually, Dumbo realizes he can fly on his own and doesn’t need the feather after all. The feather was just a token to help boost his confidence. I love the lessons in this movie about believing in yourself, and embracing whatever it is that makes you unique. The very thing (those ears!) that provoked bullies to make fun of him turned out to be what makes Dumbo so very special.
- If you enjoyed this article, please “like” our Countdown to Magic Facebook page!