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“We're just a couple of crazy rascals out to have some fun!”
Chip and Dale are a pair of cunning and mischievous anthropomorphic chipmunk brothers that made their debut in 1943's Private Pluto. Although they are physically similar and rarely appear separately, they each have distinct personalities and a few distinguishing physical features; Chip can be identified by his small black "chocolate chip" nose and his joined front teeth, whereas Dale has a larger red nose, two adjacent front teeth, and a tuft of hair on his head. Chip is also usually the more logical and cunning of the two, with Dale being more dim-witted and carefree.
Though the duo got their start as adversaries to Mickey Mouse's pet dog, Pluto, they would become more infamous as arch-rivals of Donald Duck, beginning with the 1947 theatrical short, Chip an' Dale. In the years that followed, Chip and Dale became some of Disney's most beloved characters. They were popular enough to receive their own—albeit, short-lived—series of shorts, and received greater exposure in the 1990s with the premiere of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, which saw the chipmunks as a comedic pair of crime-solvers.
Unlike most of the Mickey Mouse characters, Chip and Dale act very much like average chipmunks; they live in normal trees (typically in a backyard or forest) and spend most of their time gathering and storing food (particularly acorns). Their affinity for food often drives them to steal it from others, which is a regular point of contention between the chipmunks and their arch-nemesis, Donald Duck.
While Chip and Dale are nearly inseparable, they are often torn apart by a romantic interest. They have been known to have feelings for the same girl most of the time , and battle each other for the affections of the girl in question. In Rescue Rangers, both are in love with Gadget, but can't seem to be open about their feelings, nor does she notice at all.
Chip (or Chipper, as referred to by Dale) is the brains of the duo and thus is shown to be clever, fearless, and somewhat bossy. Unlike his best friend, he's a quick thinker. When dealing with Donald, Chip shows to be much more of a threat than Dale, both mentally and physically. He is also no-nonsense and becomes easily frustrated with Dale's incompetence. In Rescue Rangers, he wears a fedora and sheepskin bomber jacket. Chip constantly thinks about being on duty to the point where he is thought to not know how to be fun; because of such, Dale's blundering causes him nothing but headaches.
Dale is sometimes lazy, dim-witted, and clumsy, and can be a little more emotionally sensitive. In earlier appearances, he was completely foolish to the point where he can truly be called an idiot. In later years, that aspect of his personality was toned down to just being nervous, timid, wisecracking, laid-back, and reluctant. In Rescue Rangers, Dale wears a Hawaiian shirt, possibly to show how relaxed his personality is; he gets along easier with Monterey Jack and Zipper than Chip.
The classic voices of Chip and Dale were mostly provided by Helen Silbert, Dessie Flynn/Dessie Miller, and Jimmy MacDonald. The earliest voices of the chipmunks were provided by female office staff, without credit.
In Private Pluto, the chipmunks' speech was created by speeding up sound clips of normal speech. In a number of the shorts that followed, many of these same sound clips were re-used again and again, though later shorts used new dialogue specifically recorded for them.
At one point in Winter Storage, Chip and Dale get into an argument while caught in a trap. When the scene switches to an outside view of the box (with Donald Duck sitting on the box), the dialogue being heard is actually a sped-up segment of the voice-over narration from the Goofy short A Knight for a Day.
Since 1988, Chip has been voiced by Tress MacNeille and Dale has been voiced by Corey Burton where he is shown to have a more deeper voice than his previous years in the classic shorts. However, in Mickey Mouse Works, House of Mouse, the first season of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and the Have a Laugh! versions of the classic shorts, Tress voiced both chipmunks.
Chip and Dale first appeared in a 1943 Pluto cartoon titled Private Pluto. In this appearance, they look a lot more like realistic chipmunks and did not have names. The two then-nameless twin chipmunks were never intended to be used again after that short, but when Walt Disney needed new characters to challenge Donald Duck, a decision was made to revive the two chipmunks, leading them to acquire their now-familiar names and personalities. Quite often in these shorts, their tails flicker and sometimes they are both seen running on all fours, much like actual chipmunks. An interesting note is that, in earlier shorts, they had the appearance of more realistic chipmunks (much like the woodland creatures in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), only to gain their iconic, far more cartoony designs once their popularity and screen time grew.
Their names are a pun on the name "Chippendale" (a reference to furniture-maker Thomas Chippendale). This was suggested by Bill "Tex" Henson, a screenwriter at the studio.
As mentioned, Chip and Dale began their careers in Private Pluto. In that cartoon, Pluto is a part of the army and runs into trouble when it appears that two nameless chipmunks are hanging around the site in a pillbox. In this appearance, the two were completely indistinguishable in terms of both appearance and personalities. Afterward, the two would later appear in several of Pluto's cartoons, as well as those including Mickey Mouse.
They did not get their names until 1947's Chip an' Dale. In that short, they meet their new nemesis Donald Duck, whom they would make countless appearances with, even beyond the animated short films. The chipmunks became far more famous for antagonizing Donald and are possibly best known for appearing in his shorts, having gained their trademark appearances and personas when dealing with the hot-tempered duck.
Chip and Dale became so popular that they were able to star in their own series of cartoons, joining Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto. Only three shorts were created in that series. The first was Chicken in the Rough, where Dale becomes trapped in a chicken coop and needed to be rescued. The next and most famous one was Two Chips and a Miss, where they go out to a nightclub and battle for the attention of a female chipmunk named Clarice. The last was The Lone Chipmunks, where Chip 'n' Dale foils the outlaw Pete. Chip and Dale's final appearance in their original theatrical run were Donald Duck's Chips Ahoy, released on February 24, 1956.
In this decade, Chip and Dale became the leads of their own comic series. The first volume was published by Dell as part of their Four Color series and was simply titled Walt Disney's Chip 'N' Dale. There were thirty issues in total, which ran from 1955 to 1962. The second volume was published by Gold Key and ran from 1962 to 1984.
In the 1980s, there was an initiative to use classic Disney characters to create new properties for television. This would spawn the Disney Afternoon block, which found immense success early on with the premiere of DuckTales in 1987. Following in tow was an action-adventure/detective story following Disney's iconic chipmunks titled Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers. The show was initially pitched by Tad Stones to star an Indiana Jones-inspired mouse character, though then-CEO of the Disney company, Michael Eisner, suggested the use of Chip and Dale so the show had established Disney characters to work with. The show premiered on August 27, 1988, and has since become one of the most recognizable and beloved properties of Disney's television history. The show also marked the first time Chip and Dale was voiced by now-veteran voice actors Tress MacNeille and Corey Burton, respectively. The two would go on to voice the chipmunks for the following decades (though MacNeille will sometimes voice both).
Today, Chip and Dale continue their careers as staple Disney characters, regularly appearing in media involving Mickey Mouse and his ensemble. They are also amongst the most popular and frequently utilized characters at the Disney theme parks, both in the U.S. and internationally; perhaps most significantly in merchandise.
In 2010, Chip and Dale were featured in a new series of comics published by Boom! Studios, as a revival of sorts for the Rescue Rangers franchise. Due to poor reception, however, the series ended after eight issues.
In 2014, development was announced for a live-action film set to star Chip and Dale, which was reportedly an origin story for the Rescue Rangers. News for the project was silent until 2019, in which it was reported that the film will be a hybrid of live-action and animation.
In 2017, Chip and Dale were given their own series of made-for-television shorts titled Chip 'n' Dale's Nutty Tales, a spin-off of the computer-animated children's television show Mickey and the Roadster Racers.
In 2019, it was announced that Chip and Dale will star in an upcoming Disney+ original series in 2020, inspired by the slapstick nature of their classic cartoons.
In a 1959 episode of the anthology series entitled "The Adventures of Chip 'n' Dale", Walt Disney was unable to host the show personally. Instead, he left a message on his tape recorder informing viewers of his arrangements to have Chip and Dale host in his place. The chipmunks use the time to go through an old book which holds memories of their fondest exploits.
Chip serves as the unspoken leader of the group, while Dale tends to provide most of the comic relief, though Dale does end up becoming the hero at times. Both chipmunks possess a crush on Gadget, becoming rivals for her affections. A running gag in the show has Chip being constantly interrupted when he attempts to tell Gadget his feelings for her. The two have even been love interests themselves. In "Adventures in Squirrelsitting", a squirrel named Tammy falls in love with Chip, and in "Good Times, Bat Times", a bat named Foxglove falls in love with Dale. Both of them apparently don't return these affections.
Chip and Dale are recurring characters in Mickey Mouse Works, where they are recast as enemies of Donald Duck once again. One of their most notable appearances in the series is in the short "Mickey's Mixed Nuts", where the chipmunks battle Mickey Mouse (someone that they didn't usually pester in past productions) for the last bag of nuts at a supermarket.
Chip and Dale appear in the segment Donald Duck: Stuck on Christmas. The two are briefly seen several times throughout the story. In the beginning, they are seen opening their presents. They appear again when they are hit with a snowball by Huey Duck, who then gets hit back by Chip. Their next appearance occurs near the end when an object is thrown into their home and it turns out to be a bag of nuts wrapped as presents from Huey, Dewey, and Louie. In the end, they are last seen throwing away their Christmas decorations and cleaning up.
Chip and Dale have recurring roles in House of Mouse, primarily as guests at the club. Both chipmunks are seen shaking hands with Donald in the show's intro.
The episode "Chip 'n' Dale" is centered around the chipmunks as they spend their evening stealing bags of nuts from the guests while evading Donald. At the end of the episode, an advertisement is shown in which they seem to have their own storage organization where they store "everything you don't need".
In "Ladies' Night", Minnie hires them to perform an act as the "Chip and Dale Dancers", a parody of American striptease dance troupe Chippendales.
Chip and Dale are recurring characters in this computer-animated series. They are some of Mickey's friends. Unusually, the two don't seem to have a rivalry with Donald and Pluto. Most of the chipmunks' roles in the series are minor with the exception of the episode "Goofy's Coconutty Monkey", where they are the culprits behind the mysterious disappearance of the jungle's coconuts. In the end, they returned their stash, thinking they were giant nuts. They play another significant role in the episode "Goofy's Thinking Cap" where Mickey, Donald, and Goofy need twelve nuts for Clarabelle's scavenger hunt, to which the chipmunks gladly oblige.
Other versions of the duo also appear; they play the roles of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in Mickey's Adventures in Wonderland, and in some episodes where Mickey and the gang take a trip to outer space, their "Moon Men" counterparts usually appear, acting as sidekicks to Pete's "Moon Man" counterpart.
Chip and Dale first appeared in the episode "Space Walkies" where, during a voyage in outer space, Mickey and Pluto step out of their spacecraft to allow Pluto a chance to relieve himself. After which, Mickey tries to rush Pluto back to the ship by using a miniature spacecraft resembling a frisbee disk. The disk, it turns out, is a craft owned by an annoyed Chip and Dale, who berate Mickey until Pluto instinctually attacks the chipmunks, leading to a chase through space. On the rings of a planet, however, Chip and Dale are able to elude Mickey and Pluto, giggling at their success and their adversaries' misfortune.
Chip and Dale reappeared in "The Birthday Song", as guests at Mickey's birthday party.
In "New Shoes", they appear alongside some of Donald's other adversaries to partake in a daily dose of tormenting Donald.
Chip and Dale appear as supporting characters in the series (which is a spinoff of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse), working as pit crew members in Mickey's garage. Like in Clubhouse, they are allies to Mickey and his friends; including Donald and Pluto.
In Kingdom Hearts II, the duo reunites with Sora, Donald, and Goofy after leaving The Mysterious Tower to start their journey. They continuously pop up throughout the game to help Sora navigate through the map. During Gummi Ship missions, they communicate with Sora from Disney Castle to cheer him on as he battles the Heartless ships. They are also greeted during Sora's visit to Disney Castle, where they warn him and Queen Minnie of the dark thorns that have mysteriously overtaken the Hall of the Cornerstone.
In Kingdom Hearts coded, the two build a datascape for Jiminy's Journal, to decode a mysterious message left inside.
They also have a small statue dedicated to them in the central hub, surrounding the "Partners" statue.
In The Disney Afternoon Live!: Plane Crazy, which ran at Disneyland in 1991, Chip and Dale are recruited along with Baloo and Launchpad McQuack to recover the X-22 spy jet when it is stolen by Don Karnage and Fat Cat. At one point, Chip has a brief sword fight with Don Karnage, tricking the pirate into believing he's fighting Dale.
Chip and Dale make a cameo appearance among the baggage claim scans at Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, when they appear on-screen, the robot G2-9T remarks that the two are "clones", although their noses don't make them perfect clones.