Dodger is the main deuteragonist from Disney's 1988 movie, Oliver & Company, based on the Artful Dodger from Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. In Disney's re-imagining of the story, he is a street-smart Jack Russell Terrier.
Dodger is the appointed leader of Fagin's dog gang. He is street-smart, witty, confident, proud, selfless, good-hearted, calm, sly, cool, kind, clever, and crafty. He is Oliver's best friend since he doesn't eat cats because of "too much fur."
Dodger is first seen walking on the sidewalk with only his paws showing as the rest of him is hidden by a parked car, but when he sees a female dog passing by with her mistress, he is seen completely on top of a Taxi car, flirting with the female dog, who in return rejects him, feeling offended by his advances, while a cat named Oliver tries to get a string of sausages twice from Louie, the hot dog vendor's cart, which he later observes. Dodger offers to help Oliver. Oliver refuses at first, bracing himself for a scuffle, until he is assured that Dodger will not try to make a meal out of him, and after teaching him a few lessons and a few things he knows about Louie. Dodger asks Oliver if he "feels that rhythm." After a jackhammer does its job, Oliver does "feel it" and accepts Dodger's help. He pretends to chase Oliver in order to create a diversion, allowing them to steal the sausages together, although Oliver does most of the work while Dodger wraps the sausages around his neck and walks off with them, leaving Oliver with escaping from a frustrated Louie empty-handed. He then reveals that he conned Oliver by running off with the entire string while singing "Why Should I Worry." After a long chase through the city, Oliver catches up to Dodger at Fagin's home down at the dilapidated docks and meets four other stray dogs that are part of Dodger's gang: Einstein, Francis, Tito, & Rita.
Before Oliver meets the gang, Dodger is asked by his dog friends regarding how he managed to get those sausages for their dinner after Francis forgot to do it himself since it was his turn originally. He tells the story with every event that occurred during the day and later, with a big exaggeration on Oliver as a "greedy, ugly, psychotic monster with razor-sharp claws, dripping fangs, nine lives, all of them hungry, and burning eyes." Just as he's about to get to the "scary best" part of the story, Oliver falls down and crashes in front of the gang with a piece of cloth covering him, thus spooking everyone, including Dodger. At first, they don't know what it is. Tito thinks it's an "alien" when a mysterious paw, coming out of the cloth, grabs and scratches him on the nose. Then when the result is out, and it turns out to be Oliver, referred to as a cat by Rita after seeing the result, telling everyone to calm down and what it is, they become infuriated, save Dodger. Just as the gang (except Dodger) is surrounding Oliver and ask him questions about how and why he came to their place, intending to attack him for trespassing in their home, Oliver reveals to them the truth about his involvement with Dodger's scheme and Dodger admits to his friends that Oliver did indeed assist in stealing the sausages and he begins to develop respect for the kitten and later, the gang as well, who assure Oliver he is among friends now thanks to Dodger vouching for him.
Then, the gang starts mocking Dodger about his "monster" story while Dodger is watching, with his sunglasses on, the baseball game, but just as he tells them to "keep it down", he is interrupted by Tito, who refuses to stop talking and mocking him while knocking off Dodger's sunglasses, turning off the TV, and laughing about it. Dodger tells Tito to "cool it man", but now Tito insists on "seeing this big bad kitty fight in action", so Dodger tricks him into telling him to look at something he supposedly saw and as Tito's head is in another direction in bewilderment, Dodger jumps on him and a dogpile fight is on that soon gets the rest of the gang involved.
The game continues until their master, Fagin, arrives, yelling and telling them to stop. When the dogs notice the box full of dog biscuits Fagin brought for them, Dodger and the gang jump on him, giving him a warm welcome. Things are turning out well for Fagin until his evil boss, Sykes and his two evil Dobermans, Roscoe and DeSoto, arrive for their unfortunate financial rendezvous business.
While Fagin is out talking to Sykes, the Dobermans, mostly Roscoe, are taunting Dodger and the gang while DeSoto is seen sniffing around the place. After Roscoe tries to hit on Rita, threatens Francis after having insulted him, mocks Tito, and threatens Einstein after having been told off by him, Dodger tries to calm Roscoe down with a question of either having lost his sense of humor or not, to which Roscoe replies with a "no," a kick on the TV resulting in the TV being busted, and a sinister chuckle. After DeSoto's attempt on eating Oliver, whose scent he caught and whom he found in the end, fails with a scratch on the nose, and before leaving the barge after hearing the call of their master, the two Dobermans intend to harm Oliver until Dodger intervenes and protects him. Roscoe tells him to get out of his way, but Dodger refuses and the rest of the gang come to their aid.
After the Dobermans leave while swearing revenge on them, mostly Roscoe, starting with Oliver, Dodger assures Oliver he can "really pick 'em" and pulls a high-five paw trick on him. When Fagin enters home with great sadness after his meeting with Sykes, all wet (after falling off a pier) and with three days given to him to pay back Sykes, Dodger and the dogs do everything they can to cheer him up and finally, it works. When Fagin asks his dogs who scratched DeSoto's nose, Dodger reveals Oliver to him, meaning he's the little rascal who did it. After having been read a bedtime story, Dodger turns off the light and turns to his bed, not before Oliver rushes over to him and sleeps with him. At first, Dodger can't understand but after watching Rita, who is half asleep and who witnessed Oliver rushing over to him, and Oliver smile, he quickly understands that the kitten loves him then falls asleep, with Rita following soon after as well.
The next morning, Dodger is left responsible for everything concerning Oliver by Fagin. As soon as Fagin tells his dogs and cat to go out and search for food while he leaves, along with his scooter, to search for a way to earn or even steal money to pay back Sykes, Dodger decides to help Fagin get some cash and the gang agrees, starting with Columbus Avenue. While Rita sings "Streets of Gold," a vicious alley dog begins to chase Oliver, not before Dodger and the rest of the gang growl at the alley dog and shoo him away. Oliver even tries to "bark" like a dog to shoo the alley dog away himself and the gang finds it amusing a bit. After singing along with his friends, he notices a beige limo passing by. Where there's a limo, there's money and where there's money, there's an idea in Dodger's head. The plan is to steal the limo's radio, give it to Fagin so as to sell it, and earn some money in return as partial payment to Mr. Sykes, but it backfires when Oliver slips on the ignition of the car, causing Tito to be electrocuted out of the car without their loot. When Dodger notices Oliver is still in the car as it drives away, he scolds at Tito for not watching over him. Tito simply retorts that "it's hard to watch anything when you're getting barbecued, man!" Dodger decides to follow the limo with Tito while the rest of the gang return to Fagin. Finally, they find their friend taken to a big mansion on Fifth Avenue by a little girl and an old man, mistaken for a "torture place." Tito attempts to rescue him on his own, not before being stopped by Dodger.
A few moments later, Dodger and Tito return to the gang and inform them of everything, thinking their friend is in trouble when actually he has been adopted by a young girl named Jenny Foxworth, who found him in the car, and taken to her upscale house. When they are stuck between the decision of whether to help Fagin or Oliver, it results into Francis speaking Old English, which Tito finds annoying, resulting into Francis losing his temper while repeating his real name three times after having been insulted and called "Frankie" again, before Dodger intervenes and breaks up their argument, giving an angry glare at Tito when he gets one last raspberry in at Francis, forcing Tito to look away and act innocent before Dodger chews him out for angering Francis again. Dodger then discusses the "rescue mission" with the gang.
Dodger leads the "rescue mission" to recover Oliver the next day while Jenny's at school. The gang notice Winston, Jenny's family's butler, banging on something with a rolling pin through a window, thinking he's "torturing" Oliver. After Francis distracts Winston again like he did the other day with the whole limo/radio incident, Dodger and the gang manage to sneak into the house unnoticed. In the house, the gang's admiring the place more than focusing on their friend. Luckily, Dodger helps them snap out of it right away. As soon as Dodger meets Georgette, the Foxworth family's spoiled pedigree poodle, while entering her room, she panics, causing her mirror to fall over and break. At first, Georgette thinks Dodger's after her but Dodger replies otherwise. Nevertheless, Georgette feels insulted over Dodger's reply, thus, causing her to give him an uninteresting education about herself. After the uninteresting education, Dodger replies sarcastically that "we're all very impressed." Then, the rest of the gang enter, including Tito, who has fallen in love with Georgette, to which she replies with disgust and insults. Georgette tries to call countless times for Winston, who manages to sneak back into the house after having been distracted by the gang earlier, mostly Francis, and left outside, but, when Dodger mentions that they only came here for their cat, she's cooperative. Before cooperating with the "rescue," Winston manages to get back inside and checks to see if Georgette is alright. Einstein, along with Francis, is seen hiding under Georgette's bed cover with half of Georgette's body sticking out, Dodger and Rita posing as dog statue replicas, and Tito hanging on a coat hanger of the door. Winston finds it a bit weird, but nevertheless, he leaves. When Georgette takes the gang to Jenny's room, they notice Oliver sleeping happily and calmly on his pillow. Rita's the first one convinced he's okay and proposes they "forget the whole thing", but Georgette, eager to get rid of him, convinces them that "he's so traumatized" and then hands him to them in a pillow sack held by Einstein and Francis and allows them to escape through the fire escape when she hears Winston coming back.
The dogs bring a startled and confused Oliver back to Fagin, but the cat becomes upset upon realizing he has been taken away from Jenny. This angers Dodger, who accuses Oliver of looking down on him and the other dogs as "the riffraff." Dodger's wrong because, in truth, Oliver admits he really loves his friends, but when it comes to having a new home, things get a bit complicated, especially when being taken away from it. Rita tries to put Dodger at ease with realizing she was right with leaving Oliver with Jenny, but he's still upset about it. Despite still being upset, he allows Oliver to leave, but not before Fagin returns and takes him back in. After noticing Oliver's gold collar and its address, Fagin has an idea for ransoming him.
At night, at Sykes' warehouse, Fagin goes over his plan with Dodger acting as Sykes before entering his warehouse. When Fagin goes over his plan, only this time awkwardly out of nervousness, with Sykes, he grows impatient with him and snaps his fingers, thus giving the order for his two Dobermans to attack him, not before Dodger fights them off, but receiving lots of painful, but invisible, injuries in the process while Fagin discusses his plan to Sykes properly and loudly this time. Once he's convinced, he snaps his fingers again to his Dobermans to cease the attack. Unfortunately, due to the attack, Dodger lays injured and unconscious on the floor as Fagin and Oliver come to his aid. Fagin can only look down at Dodger with concern before turning an angry glare at Sykes as Sykes warns Fagin he has 12 more hours to pay up, and this is his last chance to do so and stay in Sykes' good graces.
On the same night, before the rendezvous between Fagin and the unknown rich cat owner, Jenny, Rita's worried about Dodger, but he assures her that "they never laid a paw on me." After Fagin and Jenny have a small conversation with Sykes and his dogs unnoticeably watching them in his car, Jenny turns out to be Oliver's owner with only a piggy bank as payment to get Oliver back and starts crying. Fagin, at first, has a hard decision about whether to follow his good heart or not, then he gives up, pretends to find Oliver in a box, and hands him to Jenny. Unfortunately, Sykes bursts into the scene, kidnaps Jenny, throws Oliver out of the window and tells Fagin to keep his mouth shut and to consider their account closed, intending to use the money Jenny brought to get Oliver back to cover Fagin's debt, along with the ransom he'll get from Jenny's parents for her safe return.
Dodger and the gang come to Oliver's aid. Dodger assures Oliver that they'll "absitively" get Jenny back. The dogs run to Sykes' warehouse without riding in Fagin's scooter this time. After an inspection of the warehouse has been made by Francis and Tito, it turns out everything is locked up. So Dodger comes up with a plan on how to get inside, unlock a hatch from the inside, and enter the warehouse. As the plan is set with Francis as the first "cannonball," Oliver as the second "cannonball," and Tito as the "maestro," Dodger and the gang called for Francis to see if he's ready and he is. After Oliver is sent all the way up by Francis and the "seesaw" they were on, he breaks through the window, alerting Sykes and his Dobermans, and once he lands safely inside while avoiding getting caught by the Dobermans searching the place, he's able to open the hatch from the inside and let everyone in. Dodger reminds everyone to stay quiet, before Georgette screams painfully because of a broken nail, alerting the Dobermans again.
Nevertheless, Dodger and the gang are still able to penetrate inside until a security camera turns to look in their direction. Dodger tells Tito to handle the problem, which Tito resolved by biting off the wires. The dogs observe what is going on in Sykes' office from the top, only to find that Jenny's okay, but tied up, and Sykes on the phone with Winston, demanding a ransom from her parents for her safe return. Dodger comes up with another plan to distract Sykes while they try to rescue Jenny. The Dobermans are alerted again, only this time by their enemies' smell. The plan involves Tito, Francis, and Einstein disguised as a pizza delivery guy as the diversion while the rest of the gang take care of Jenny.
Despite the diversion working, as it lures Sykes away from his office, but not without him arming himself with a handgun before departing, they, unfortunately, run into Roscoe and DeSoto. All seems lost until Georgette manages to trap the evil dogs inside a heavy tarpaulin. Then, they come back to help the others. Dodger tells Francis to keep an eye on the monitors and locks the office door while they figure out another way of escaping since chewing the ropes off Jenny failed. Dodger checks the monitors again and asks Francis if the coast is clear, only to find Francis watching the old girl dancing shows on one of them. Dodger quickly switches the monitors from the shows to what is going on outside, only to notice Sykes and his dogs heading back their way. Dodger notices a crane on top, thus, another idea comes to his head, yet again involving Tito with electronics despite having been electrocuted too many times. At first, Tito's reluctant, but with a little love persuasion from Georgette, he's cooperative.
Tito finally manages to get everyone out before Sykes and his dogs come back, breaking through the locked door. They are able to escape with the crane until Sykes brings out an emergency fire axe and destroys the controls of the crane, thus, causing everyone to fall and land on a slide. They slide until Dodger and everyone else ends up in front of their enemies.
Before Sykes can snap his fingers again, a strange honking noise is heard and breaking through the windows, it is revealed to be Fagin with his scooter. Jenny and the dogs climb aboard and Fagin gets them out of here. Things turn out okay until Sykes comes after them in his car. Fagin has no other alternative but to go into a subway station. Nevertheless, Sykes, driving like a madman, is able to drive in the station as well. Going through a tunnel, Sykes is still in pursuit. When his car collides with Fagin's scooter, Jenny falls and ends up on Sykes' hood, where Sykes breaks his hand through the door window and tries to grab her, before Oliver comes to Jenny's rescue by biting Sykes on the hand. Unfortunately, Sykes, with Oliver still biting his hand, throws him in the back seat where Roscoe and DeSoto are. Then, Dodger comes to Oliver's rescue, jumping on Roscoe and throwing him through the back car window. Roscoe is close to falling on the subway tracks and the dangerous third rail, caused by the friction between the rails and Sykes' ruined car tires, but he manages to grab Dodger's scarf. Still, the scarf slips off and Roscoe falls to his death on the tracks as he's violently electrocuted by the third rail, yelping and whimpering as the hundreds of volts fatally shock him. But then, Dodger is confronted by DeSoto, who slams Dodger's head against the trunk of Sykes' car, knocking him unconscious, and then attempts to push Dodger's head into the third rail, intending to kill him, but then, Oliver comes to his rescue, jumping on DeSoto and scratching him on the nose, causing DeSoto to yelp in pain, jump, and fall to his death on the third rail as well. Oliver, having been flung into the air by DeSoto before he fell onto the third rail, is close to falling to his death too, not before Dodger, having recovered, rescues him again.
On the Brooklyn Bridge, Fagin tries to help Jenny while Tito takes the wheel. Sykes comes out of his car through the sunroof and grabs Jenny again, but then, Dodger and Oliver jump on him, allowing Jenny to jump back to Fagin on the scooter as soon as Sykes lets go of her to deal with Oliver and Dodger. A train is coming towards them head-on. All seems lost for everyone until Tito manages to climb the gang up to safety on one of the cables of the bridge while Sykes' car still stays on the subway tracks, trapped due to the wheel rims being locked into the rails. Dodger and Oliver, still fighting Sykes off, are thrown out of his car, before Sykes barely has time to see the train heading straight for him and his anger is replaced by fear as he realizes he's trapped. The train runs Sykes and his car over, thus, killing him and sending him and his car to the bottom of the East River. When everyone comes back down from the cable, Jenny runs to Oliver, only to find Dodger, with great sadness, holding him, thinking he's dead. But when a small meow comes out of Oliver, everyone, including Dodger, is glad to know this means he's still alive, except Georgette, who is still in great shock from the chase. Then, Dodger and the rest of the gang are accepted as Jenny's new best friends.
The next day, at Jenny's home, Dodger, the gang, and Fagin are celebrating Jenny's 8th birthday and giving her birthday gifts. When it's time to go, the gang (except Tito) and then Dodger say their good-byes to Oliver and vice versa. Before leaving, Dodger asks Oliver if he just wants "to hang out or anything." Before finishing, Tito runs away from Georgette after having been given a bath and dressed into something classy by her, which Dodger finds somewhat amusing, and Tito says his good-bye to Oliver. After that, Dodger asks Oliver if he can "handle the champ." Oliver replies, "Sure," and pulls the same high-five paw trick on him as Dodger did before. Dodger says he's "okay... for a cat" and that he and the gang will "keep a spot open for him in the gang... vice president, uptown chapter" and then says his good-bye to Oliver. And then, Dodger sings "Why Should I Worry" reprise, only this time with the gang singing along with him. Then, Dodger and the gang join Fagin in his scooter while still singing on their way back home through the gridlocked Manhattan traffic.
Dodger made several appearances in the series.
In the episode "Pluto Saves the Day", he is the lead singer of the Pet Shop Dogs band singing "Everybody Wants to Be a Woof". Later, he is seen with the other Pet Shop Dogs fighting off Pete (who's disguised as Snow White) and then chasing him out along with the rest of the dogs and Pluto. Here, Dodger is voiced by an uncredited Jess Harnell.
He can also be briefly seen along with some of the dog gang members in the show's opening theme.
Dodger made numerous appearances at the parks in the years following the movie's release. He was retired in the late 1990s but appeared with Oliver at the grand opening of Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005.
- Dodger is based on Jack "Artful Dodger" Dawkins.
- To date, Dodger remains Billy Joel's only acting credit (aside from making guest-appearances as himself on TV sitcoms like Charlie Rose, Mad About You and Kevin Can Wait). He stated that he took the role of Dodger due to his love of Disney cartoons as a child.
- Based on the concept art, Dodger was going to look closer in age to Oliver and be a scrappy little puppy. The reason for him getting aged up was most likely so that he can feel more wizened compared to Oliver.
- After stealing Old Louie's sausages, Dodger hums a few bars of "Why Should I Worry" before revealing that he conned Oliver and singing the song.
- Dodger loses his red scarf when he steals the sausages.
- After snagging the hot dogs, Dodger and Oliver walk through the cement. The string of hot dogs is clearly dragging through the cement. When they show Dodger from a distance, only paw prints are present and there is no sign of the hot dogs being dragged.
- When Dodger pulls the hot dogs underneath the table in "Why Should I Worry", his lips don't move to match the lyrics and there is no muffling to represent the hot dogs in his mouth.
- It is unknown how Dodger got his scarf back after Roscoe yanked it off while attempting to avoid getting electrocuted on the railway. However, it could be that he got a new one from Fagin or Fagin was able to recover it while taking Jenny back home on the same night.
- When Dodger jumped on top of the Taxi at the end, the "red" brake lights flash white. White indicates that a car is going in reverse; when the Taxi is clearly going forward.
- Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, and Burt Reynolds were all considered for the role of Dodger.