Gideon is based off the nameless Cat character from the original collection of Pinocchio stories by Carlo Collodi, who was paired with a sly fox. Although their personalities remain more or less the same, their roles in the Disney film were greatly altered. In Carlo Collodi's story, Gideon was originally a cat who pretended to be blind until ultimately gaining that disability as a comeuppance. They plead for Pinocchio to give them food, but Pinocchio will give them nothing, as he claims that they have earned their fates.
In the Disney version, the cat was given a name and distinct personality. Gideon's characterization is said be inspired by Harpo Marx, the silent member of the Marx Brothers comedy act. An interesting note is that Gideon coexists in a world where Figaro—a "normal" cat—resides, but animation historians excuse this as being part of the fantastical nature of the movie's world.
While Gideon and Honest John are never reprimanded for their schemes in the film, a deleted scene showed them getting arrested after attempting to swindle Pinocchio for a third time.
Gideon was going to be voiced by the legendary voice actor Mel Blanc (who famously went on to voice characters in Warner Brothers cartoons). Lines were already laid out for Blanc to perform, but the studio eventually decided to delete all of Gideon's dialogue, preferring a pantomime sidekick performance. However, Blanc later returned to record Gideon's three hiccups in the film, for which he did receive payment (quipping afterwards that is it was the most expensive hiccup he ever recorded).
Unlike his buddy, Honest John, Gideon is flimsy, punchdrunk, and daffy. Without his boss, Gideon would most likely be performing petty theft and pick-pocketing, maybe given a large number of arrests. Like Honest John, however, Gideon has followed the 'easy road', but with no education and thus cannot read or write. According to a tie-in book, Gideon admires Honest John a great deal and aspires to be like him someday. This is indicated in the film, as Gideon frequently—albeit, sloppily—observes and mimics Honest John's mannerisms.
Gideon also seems to be a tad bit more malicious than Honest John, as seen when he planned to knock Pinocchio unconscious with his mallet in order to kidnap him and sell him to Stromboli, only to be stopped by Honest John, who wanted to take a more humane approach or believed using blunt force would bring unneeded attention to their scam. Moreover, the dopey cat takes it upon himself to resort to brute force if he feels that Honest John's plans don't seem to work via sly persuasiveness. This is evidenced when Pinocchio tried to decline the fox's offer to go to Pleasure Island, wherein Gideon, armed with his mallet, quickly blocked the boy's path with the intent of knocking him out, until Honest John continued to coax the boy into finally going.
Despite this, Gideon is smart enough to think of a way to get Honest John unstuck from his hat (especially after he was the one who got him into it to begin with).
Gideon's wardrobe describes that he is dim-witted, compared to Honest John. Although the attire of both crooks are equally ragged and worn-out (patches on their pants and elbow sleeves, and tearings on their hats, gloves, and capes, etc.), Gideon wears long, baggy clothing while Honest John wears more proper and civilized clothing.
In Pinocchio, Gideon and Honest John are out taking a stroll in the village; in during which, Honest John notices a poster advertising the famous puppeteer Stromboli. The duo reminisce about the time Honest John passed Gideon off as a puppet to swindle the showman, to which Gideon agrees with a bashful expression. As they resume their stroll, they spot a living puppet, Pinocchio. Honest John quickly formulates a scheme to sell Pinocchio to Stromboli. Gideon tries to knock Pinocchio unconscious with his mallet, but Honest John goes for a less cruel approach. He convinces Pinocchio to become an actor, and to the tune of "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee", they make way to Stromboli's caravan. Jiminy Cricket tries to stop them, and although Honest John fails to notice him, Gideon does after being briefly tricked by the cricket into remaining quiet. Gideon pulls out a mallet with intent to crush him, stealthily sneaks onto the John's back and raises his mallet, but his cast shadow on Jiminy gives him away, and Jiminy hops off John's hat at the last minute, causing the cat to inadvertently hit John instead. Realizing the mistake and fearing the repercussions, Gideon hands Pinocchio the mallet and quickly flees. Honest John angrily yells at Gideon to help him, to which the cat responds by using John's cane to secure the hat to the ground and bashing John again with the mallet, the force finally freeing the fox from the hat but also sending him flying into a nearby puddle. After regaining composure, the two con men find Pinocchio and convince him again to come with them to Stromboli's caravan, where they succeed in selling the boy to the puppet master.
Later on, Gideon is seen at the Red Lobster Inn, where Honest John is in discussion with the Coachman for a proposition. As Gideon drinks and smokes away leisurely, the Coachman offers a large sum of money in exchange for delivering "stupid little boys" to take to Pleasure Island. Honest John fears the repercussions, but the Coachman assures that they'll never come back "as boys". During their hunt for little boys, Honest John and Gideon run into Pinocchio once again. While Gideon holds Pinocchio in place with his cane, Honest John ropes the puppet into another scam. He and Giddy pose as doctors and diagnose Pinocchio as allergic, with the only cure being a vacation on Pleasure Island. When Pinocchio tries to return home regardless, Gideon nearly whacks the puppet with his mallet. Instead, he and Honest John simply carry the boy to his fate. Gideon is not seen or mentioned again for the remainder of the film.
Gideon made recurring appearances in the live-action wrap-around skits alongside the other costumed characters and celebrity guests.
In the ABC fantasy/drama, Gideon is represented by the character Myrna (portrayed by Carolyn Hennesy), who has brown hair resembling Gideon's fur in a style that resembles cat ears. She and her partner, Martin (who represents Honest John) are the parents of Jiminy (before he became a cricket) and were, like in the film, con artists. Their son, however, disapproved of their selfish crimes and was constantly forced to partake in their cruel agendas. One day, however, Jiminy obtains a potion from Rumplestiltskin, capable of putting an end to his parents' thefts.
Later that evening, Jiminy's parents begin another one of their schemes. After a young couple offers them hospitality for the evening, his parents warn about a false plague. Terrified, the poor couple forfeits most of their possessions to pay for the "cure" Jiminy's parents have. As they leave, Jiminy stands up to the crooks and throws Rumplestiltskin's potion onto them. Unfortunately, however, it has no effect. Jiminy soon realizes his parents switched the potion and gave it to the poor couple. Once he rushes back into their home to save them, he finds the couple magically transformed into puppets. Seeing this, Martin and Myrna laugh cruelly at the fate that befell the family, coming out victorious.
Gideon appears in numerous comic stories as Honest John's sidekick and an occasional antagonist to various Disney characters including Donald Duck and Snow White, often trying to swindle them. They could also be seen with other Disney villains, as well, such as Captain Hook and the Big Bad Wolf. Unlike the film, Gideon actually speaks in the comic stories.
Gideon and Honest John would appear on the original Disney storybook and record of Mickey's Christmas Carol as the two charity collectors who try to solicit a donation from Scrooge (Uncle Scrooge) at the beginning. An inside gag in the story is Gideon's ability to speak. When it was redone as a 1983 cartoon featurette, they would be replaced by Water Rat and Mole.
In the Disney adaption of the story, Gideon and Honest John swindle Prince John into buying "an invisible robe" fit for a king.
Gideon and Honest John appear in the fifth installment of the popular book series. They are featured as members of the Disney Villains legion known as the Overtakers and battle Finn in chapter six of Shell Game.
In the Pinocchio game, Gideon appears as an enemy during the first stage, as Pinocchio makes his way for school. He peers over walls to throw potted plants at Pinocchio. He also runs back and forth through certain sections of the level as a hazard.
Gideon has been a staple character in the Disney theme parks for decades, always paired with Honest John. His costume has undergone numerous iterations throughout the parks' history. In some years his fur was grey, while in others it was yellow. In the 1990s, the costume was finally altered to resemble Gideon's animated counterpart to the last detail. In the past, Gideon has been used as a "training character" for new cast members.
An animatronic of Gideon appears in the Pinocchio's Daring Journey attraction. He is seen during the Pleasure Island sequence, playing a game of strength. A mural depicting Gideon with Honest John and Pinocchio is also featured at the vehicle loading station.
In Florida, Gideon has appeared in the Magic Kingdom during Halloween and has made surprise appearances Epcot. In 2013, he and Honest John took part in Unleash the Villains at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
In the former Magic Kingdom parade, Celebrate A Dreams Come True Parade, Gideon and Honest John were seen alongside half boy/half donkey children strolling behind Mickey Mouse's float with Pinocchio/Snow White's following behind them.
A statue of Gideon, Pinocchio and Honest John can be found at the Pinocchio Village Haus Restaurant
Today, Gideon is most commonly found at the Mediterranean Harbor in Tokyo DisneySea, where he is available for daily meet and greets. With Pinocchio being one of the more popular Disney franchises in Japan, exclusive Gideon merchandise can be found in the Tokyo parks.
- Gideon and John were slated to appear in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days due to their popularity in a Pinocchio-based world. The idea was dropped due to space restrictions. Although profile sprites of them appeared in the game's data.
- The duo were indirectly mentioned in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance by Pinocchio as two big monsters with big green eyes.
- Honest John and Gideon are the only villains in the film to appear, disappear, and return in later scenes.
- Gideon does not appear in the musical adaptation in London. However, the Fox's cane is capped off with a figurine of a cat, as an homage to Giddy.
- In the "Disney On Parade" shows from the late 60s and early 70s. Gideon is able to speak full sentences and sings during the "High-Diddle-Dee-Dee" section.