- “Frollo, have you gone mad?! I will not tolerate this assault on the house of God!”
- ―Archdeacon raging Frollo
The Archdeacon was most likely created as a placeholder for Frollo, as Frollo functioned as the Archdeacon in the Victor Hugo novel. This was probably done by Disney's part as a means of damage control with the Roman Catholic Church, which played a large role in the film and the book, especially seeing that the Archdeacon functions as a good character in the film.
However, even though Frollo was depicted as the Minister of Justice in the film, he still seemed to hold more power over the Archdeacon himself while outside Notre Dame. This probably stems from his role in the book, but it remains unexplained how Frollo, as a mere Judge, could commit such terrible crimes without having to answer to the King of France (who may have been absent at the time).
The Archdeacon is almost the complete opposite of Claude Frollo; the one thing they have in common is that they worship God, and even then their methods differ. The Archdeacon is kind to everyone, including gypsies, standing up for Esmeralda when she claims sanctuary in his church, and while he has little actual interaction with Quasimodo during the film, he saves his life as a baby by reminding Frollo that he has sinned and is about to do so again. He is also the only person shown to have any kind of authority over Frollo, and apart from Esmeralda and Phoebus, he is the only character brave enough to protest against Frollo's evil deeds. As such, the Archdeacon seems to represent the positive side of a spiritual lifestyle, while Frollo represents how it can corrupt.
On a snowy, winter night, the Archdeacon was apparently roused to answer someone desperately pounding on the door of Notre Dame. While he was not quick enough to save the life of the woman who had knocked, he managed to stop Frollo from dropping her deformed baby son down a well and admonished the judge for spilling innocent blood on the sacred steps. When Frollo is unmoved and declares he is guiltless, the Archdeacon proclaims that while Frollo can lie to himself, he cannot blind the eyes of Notre Dame which glare at the evil judge as if to reinforce the old priest's words. He then tells a fearful Frollo that he must care for and raise the child or be damned to hell for his actions--the only thing that Frollo fears. Frollo agrees to raise the child, whom he names Quasimodo but tells the Archdeacon to let the boy live in the cathedral's bell tower and the Archdeacon agrees and he leaves and takes the body of Quasimodo's mother for burial.
Twenty years later, the Archdeacon defends Esmeralda when she claims sanctuary in Notre Dame from Frollo, reminding him of what happened years prior when he tried to circumvent the authority of the Church and escorts Phoebus from the cathedral. When Esmeralda is complaining about the sorry state that gypsies are in and how no one outside will help, he subtly advises her that one person can't right all the wrongs in the world alone, and perhaps God can help instead. He and the other priests provide some of the dialogue in the song "Hellfire".
During the time when Esmeralda was going to be burned at the stake along with the other gypsies, the Archdeacon steps forward to protest against the execution, but he is halted by two of Frollo's guards. Fortunately, Quasimodo rescues Esmeralda and brings her back to the cathedral while declaring sanctuary, and Frollo loses his sanity by ordering his soldiers to attack the cathedral, to the Archdeacon's horror. This prompts Phoebus to rally the citizens to free the captured gypsies and fight back against Frollo's soldiers, who are eventually warded off when Quasimodo pours molten copper on the pavement while Frollo manages to break in. Being aware of what has happened, the Archdeacon finally puts his foot down by furiously stating that he will no longer tolerate Frollo's crimes or violence in the Church, implying that he will have Frollo arrested by the French monarchy. Unfortunately, Frollo responds by shoving the startled Archdeacon down a flight of stairs, injuring his ankle, and locking the Archdeacon out of the belltower so he cannot interfere.
The Archdeacon survives the fall and is last seen cheering with the crowd who are celebrating Frollo's defeat and the defeat of his soldiers who surrendered to the French army when Phoebus and Esmeralda emerge safely from the church.
A different archdeacon plays an extremely small role in the sequel. He is only seen briefly at the start of the film’s climax when he alerts Phoebus that La Fidel has been stolen by Sarousch.
Frollo and the Archdeacon worked together in the church, though their hatred for each other was obvious, as the Archdeacon strongly opposes Frollo's genocidal campaign against the Romani population. It was the Archdeacon who insisted that Frollo raise Quasimodo to atone for the murder of the latter's mother. Twenty years later, the Archdeacon also prevented him from capturing Esmeralda; he was even willing to protest Frollo's attempt to execute her and the rest of the Romani population. It wasn't until their hatred comes into full circle when Frollo orders the attack on the cathedral after Quasimodo rescues Esmeralda from being burned at the stake. Filled with complete disgust and anger against Frollo for his heinous crimes, the Archdeacon puts his foot down and swears to have Frollo arrested by the monarchy, only for Frollo to get tired of the Archdeacon's meddling and throw him down a flight of stairs. The Archdeacon also showed no concern over Frollo's death as he is last seen celebrating with Quasimodo, Esmeralda and Phoebus.
Esmeralda first met the Archdeacon when Frollo ordered Phoebus to arrest her and Phoebus said she claimed sanctuary. The Archdeacon was on her back, ordering Frollo and the soldiers out of the church. Frollo stays behind long enough to warn her that she can only stay inside for so long and proceeded to station guards at every door, forcing Esmeralda to rethink her exit strategy. The Archdeacon counseled her against antagonizing Frollo further and reminded her that she could not right all the wrongs in the world on her own. At his suggestion, she offers a heartfelt prayer to God to help her and her people. The Archdeacon was also more willing to defend Esmeralda by attempting to protest her execution at the hands of Frollo, only to be halted by several of Frollo's guards.
- In the novel, Frollo was the archdeacon but the villain as well, so this character did not exist, which means the Archdeacon is an original character created solely for this film by Disney. Similarly though, in the stage musical adaptation of the Disney film, Frollo is once again the Archdeacon.
- Although the Archdeacon was the one who originally saved Quasimodo's life, the two are never seen together.
- Though the Archdeacon does not appear physically in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, he was briefly mentioned by Quasimodo to Riku inside the cathedral.
- The Archdeacon serves as the narrator for the film's read-along book.
- The archdeacon in the sequel is different from the one in the original film. This one is thinner, has blonde hair and a different voice. The original archdeacon may have died or left the cathedral in-between films.
- Both he and Frollo might be both adaptations of the original Frollo from the novel. The evidence is that Frollo represents his original counterpart's bad qualities while the Disney-exclusive Archdeacon represents his good qualities.￼