- “I'm just gonna knock his head clean off!”
- ―Br'er Bear
Br'er Bear is the secondary antagonist in the animated sequences of the 1946 feature film Song of the South. He is Br'er Fox's dim-witted partner. Unlike the character's depiction in the earlier illustrations of Frederick S. Church, A. B. Frost, and E. W. Kemble, the Disney animators redesigned Br'er Bear in a more slapstick, cartoony style.
Br'er Bear is portrayed as silly, goofy, prone to violence when provoked and gullible, leaving him open to being tricked repeatedly by Br'er Rabbit when he accompanies Br'er Fox (due to neglecting the latter's warnings of Br'er Rabbit's many tricks).
Br'er Bear first appears in the segment "Br'er Rabbit runs away". He is introduced when Uncle Remus says "When he hears ol' Br'er Bear ambling' down the road". He then is tricked by Br'er Rabbit into getting himself tied up in Br'er Fox's trap for Br'er Rabbit. When Br'er Fox finds Br'er Bear tied up, he cuts Br'er Bear down. Br'er Bear then gets into an argument with Br'er Fox claiming "I was making a dolla' a minute!". When Br'er Fox convinces him it was a trick, Br'er Bear begins to march towards Br'er Rabbit claiming "I'm just gonna knock his head clean OFF". He and Br'er Fox both lunge at Br'er Rabbit, who escapes the fight, leaving Brer Fox to get repeatedly and inadvertently beaten by Br'er Bear.
Br'er Bear helps to create the Tar Baby in the second segment. He is sitting on a log while Br'er Fox builds the baby. Br'er Fox then comments that all it needs are eyes and rips the button off Br'er Bear's coat. Br'er Fox then rips the bowl off Br'er Bear's pipe to create a nose for the tar baby. Br'er Fox then rips hair off Br'er Bear's butt to give the baby some hair. They then carried the baby out into the woods on a log. Br'er Rabbit then gets caught in the tar. When Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear retrieve Br'er Rabbit, Br'er Fox wants to cook him, but Br'er Bear just wants to "knock his head clean OFF". Br'er Bear then swings widely at Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox, causing Br'er Fox to toss Br'er Rabbit into the Briar Patch. When Br'er Rabbit acts like he is dead, Br'er Fox and Br'er Bear remove their hats in respect. When Br'er pops up, Br'er Bear softly hits Br'er Fox in the head in disappointment before leaving him.
In the third segment, Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox have finally captured Br'er Rabbit. Br'er Fox is preparing to roast Br'er Rabbit as Br'er Bear sits at the table. When Br'er Rabbit burst out laughing and tells Br'er Fox about his laughing place, Br'er Bear wants to see this laughing place. The 3 Br'ers then walk through the forest, Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Bear sing "Everybody's got a Laughing' Place". Br'er Bear dives into the trees declaring "me first, me first", because he thinks Br'er Fox will try to beat him into the laughing place. Br'er Bear is then heard yelling in pain and emerging with a beehive on his nose declaring "There's nothing in here except BEES!". When Br'er Fox laughs at him, Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox are then chased around by bees, then chased away by bees with Br'er Rabbit laughing.
Br'er Bear made recurring appearances in the live-action wrap-around skits alongside the other costumed characters and celebrity guests.
Br'er Bear makes cameo appearances in several episodes of the House of Mouse TV series, with Br'er Fox trying to eat Br'er Rabbit. He also appears in the direct-to-video release Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Br'er Bear made several cameos, firstly being seen at Maroon Cartoon Studios, in Toontown during the Smile Darn Ya Smile sequence, and at the very end of the film with the other characters.
In Bonkers, Br'er Bear made a cameo appearance in the episode "CasaBonkers" during the Rubber Room song. He is seen trying to make a hot dog with various meats and cheese. When he smashed the top bun on, the hot dog itself popped out and barked at him.
Br'er Bear's silhouette can be seen at the end of The Lion King 1½ with several other characters in the theater.
Like many of the Disney characters from movies, Br'er Bear appeared in the Disney comics. Usually, he was with his castmates from Song of the South, being tricked by Br'er Rabbit. Sometimes Br'er Fox would be the one to try and bilk Br'er Bear out of something, such as his chicken herd. This would often be a mistake for Br'er Fox as Br'er Bear would catch on at the last minute and proceed to threaten him.
Disney comics were also known for juxtaposing characters from different movies and shows, and Br'er Bear was one such case where he was hunting Bambi and his forest friends. Br'er Bear comes across his fellow villainess, the Witch, who is mixing a cauldron. When Br'er Bear demands to know what the "magic potion" is, she tells him it is nothing special and it is best not to be concerned. However, Br'er Bear believes she is mixing a potion for super strength, and that she should not be hogging it, so he helps himself to some of it. When Br'er Bear blanches in disgust at how awful the formula tastes, the Witch angrily says all she was doing was making ordinary turpentine, and that is why she warned him not to drink any. Br'er Bear is then too weakened and humiliated to continue hunting Bambi, and Bambi and his forest friends rejoice that they are safe for now and that Br'er Bear was his own worst enemy due to his arrogance and refusal to heed warnings.
Br'er Bear also appeared regularly in the Li'l Bad Wolf comics, usually as a foil to and a constant thorn in the side of Zeke Wolf. These stories tend to portray him as less villainous, as he's genuinely friendly with Li'l Wolf and the Three Little Pigs, on several occasions saving the pigs from being eaten by Zeke.
Br'er Bear also joins Br'er Fox in the Splash Mountain mini-game. Br'er Rabbit and the player pay a visit to Br'er Fox's house, where Br'er Rabbit tricks his foes into believing that he tripped and fell and is now helpless in front of their door. Br'er Bear and Br'er Fox rush out only to find a "present". Br'er Bear eagerly opens it to discover a beehive, although he doesn't realize it's a hive until the bees come out and attack. Br'er Bear accompanies Br'er Fox in chasing after Br'er Rabbit and the player, but they are ultimately foiled.
Br'er Bear appears as a walk-around character in the parks. He is considerably more common than either Br'er Fox or Br'er Rabbit. For meet and greets, he is often seen in Critter Country and Frontierland. He also makes rare appearances in Epcot.
Br'er Bear is also prominently featured in all versions of the log flume ride Splash Mountain, in which he and Br'er Fox attempt to catch Br'er Rabbit once more.
Since 2020, due to racial controversies (prompting to remove references to Song of the South), Br'er Bear, along with Br'er Fox and Br'er Rabbit, seems to have retired.
Br'er Bear, Br'er Fox, and Br'er Rabbit appeared near the end of Mickey Mouse Revue to sing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah".
- In 1989, when Nick Stewart was called back to Disney to reprise the role of Br'er Bear for the Splash Mountain ride, Disney Historian, Jim Korkis, asked him if he thought it was at all degrading to play Br'er Bear in Song of the South, regarding all the controversy of the portrayal of African-Americans. Stewart laughed and replied, "Disney treated us like Kings". He concluded saying that the money he earned being Br'er Bear in Song of the South went towards a theatre for African-American actors to play roles other than butlers and maids. He also said he was to do the same thing with the money from the Splash Mountain ride.