J. Thaddeus Toad esq. is the main protagonist of The Wind in the Willows, which made up a segment of Disney's 1949 animated feature The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. In that film, he is only 8 inches tall, while in most of his later appearances, he is much larger.
Mr. Toad is a true friend with his heart in the right place. He has a close relationship with his horse, Cyril Proudbottom, and is clearly close with Water Rat and even closer with Mole. He cares for his friends and enjoys their company. He is also very adventurous, often singing with excitement during his rides across the countryside.
However, Mr. Toad's good tendencies are often over-shadowed by his conceit and obsession for his latest fads and manias, such as caravans, motorcars, and airplanes. Even imprisoned, he only briefly reconsiders trying to overcome this, and his hesitation to break out (his innocence aside) is equally brief. He is clever, as he is capable of outrunning a horde of officers and another horde of thugs, albeit with help.
The inspiration for Mr. Toad was The Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahame's only child, Alastair.
In his featured segment, Toad is described as an "incurable adventurer" with an uncontrollable affinity for fads, such as mountain climbing, big-game hunting, boating, and horse cart riding.
At the beginning of the story, Toad's transportation manias have racked up a large amount of debt, so while he's out on his latest fad (riding around in a gypsy cart with Cyril Proudbottom, destroying property as they go), Angus MacBadger is trying to sort out his finances. At Angus' request, Water Rat and Mole try to persuade Toad to give up his cart craze, but Toad won't listen. Suddenly, his attention is stolen away by (to him) a vision of beauty: a motorcar. Seeing what Toad's newest craze may lead to, Rat and Mole lock him in his bedroom and guard him. However, Toad sneaks out that night and gets arrested for presumably stealing a motorcar.
In court, acting as his own defense, Toad calls Cyril to testify about the events of that day. Cyril explains that Toad had met up with him after he escaped and, while they were walking, a red motorcar drove up to a tavern, instantly snatching Toad's impulses. After the car's driver and passengers (a group of shady Weasels) entered the tavern, Toad decided to barter with them. However, he didn't have any money on him (MacBadger had cut off his funds), so he and the weasels (with Winkie the barman acting as a witness) drew up a contract designating a trade: Toad gave the deed to Toad Hall in exchange for the motorcar, which, unknown to him, had been stolen. The court is unbelieving that Toad would be foolish enough to do something like that, so he calls in Winkie as a decisive witness, emphasizing his supposed "unimpeachable honesty". However, Winkie stabs him in the back by saying that Toad tried to sell him a stolen motorcar, so Toad is given a lengthy prison sentence.
On Christmas Day, a remorseful and emotionally-shattered Toad makes a solemn promise to never let his impulses get the best of him again. However, at that instant, Cyril, disguised as Toad's grandmother, comes into his cell with a disguise for him and a plan of escape. Disguised as an old woman, Toad escapes with the police hot on his trail, stealing a locomotive and then jumping off of it into the river (a foolish action, as his ball and chain kept him underwater for a long time).
A weak and exhausted Toad makes his way to Rat's house, where he and Mole are about to have Christmas dinner. At first, Toad scoffs at the idea that he would be afraid of the police, but when someone forcefully knocks at the door, Toad's confidence evaporates and he pleads for Rat and Mole to hide him. However, feeling that Toad still owes a debt to society, Rat orders a reluctant Mole to open the door. The visitor is actually MacBadger, who reveals that the weasels have overtaken Toad Hall with Winkie as their ringleader. With amends made between Toad and his friends, they concoct a plan to sneak into Toad Hall and retrieve the deed to the house from Winkie in order to prove Toad's innocence.
That night, using a secret passage, the four friends infiltrate Toad Hall while the weasels and Winkie are in a drunken sleep. However, their positions are soon compromised, resulting in a chase and dangerous game of "keep away" between Toad, his friends, Winkie and the weasels. In the end, the friends escape, with Toad holding the deed.
On New Year's Day, Rat, Mole, and MacBadger gather to celebrate the new year and also to the newly-reformed Toad after he gave up using his mania for motor cars permanently. Their jubilance is soon shattered, however, as they see that Toad has once again relapsed, this time into a craze for airplanes. As MacBadger faints, Toad and Cyril fly off to see the world in an old-fashioned airplane.
Toad makes appearances as a recurring guest at the House of Mouse. Sometimes, he'll be seen driving wildly in his motorcar. He can also be seen in the opening, flying through the lobby from a motorcar crash.
At the beginning of "Big Bad Wolf Daddy", Mickey shows a news clip of the police chasing after Toad, who is driving wildly. The clip ends with Toad being arrested and dragged away while he demands to be let go "merrily on [his] way to nowhere in particular."
At the beginning of "Mickey and Minnie's Big Vacation", Toad drives through the club on a motorbike.
At the beginning of "Max's New Car", Mr. Toad was seen driving (and crashing) his motorcar through the club. He later jacked a super-modified car from 2 Ludwig Von Drakes, eventually dropping it in the parking lot Goofy got for Max. At the end of the episode, he can also be seen featured in a commercial for Supercalifragilisticexpial Insurance, in which he is arrested for reckless driving convictions and his motorcar is towed away.
In Mickey's Christmas Carol, Toad makes a cameo appearance as Scrooge's former boss Mr. Fezziwig. He is shown in Scrooge's past at the shop where he worked, where he is shown dressed up in his white wig and playing his violin while his guests are celebrating a wonderful Christmas.
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Toad (in a cartoon firefighter hat) can briefly be spotted driving past Eddie Valiant, then driving his cartoon fire truck while saying "Tally-ho!" in front of the screen in a brief full-screen view of him on the ladder and holding the steering wheel of the truck.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride takes guests on a madcap drive through the English countryside, experiencing everything from Toad's point of view. This was an opening day attraction of the park and is often considered one of the staples of Fantasyland.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was an opening day attraction of the Magic Kingdom but closed to much controversy in 1998 so that they could built The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction in its place. Since the ride's closure, there are several tributes to Toad and the attraction throughout the Magic Kingdom.
At the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom, Toad's tombstone can be found in the pet cemetery by the ride's exterior exit. Toad's tombstone has a metal statue depicting Toad and according to staff-members, there is an epitaph which reads, "Here Lies Toad, it's sad but true. Not nearly as marketable as Winnie the Pooh". This epitaph however does not appear on the tombstone itself but has become affiliated with the memorial.
The Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary Event
A statue of Toad could be obtained at the Haunted Mansion's, "Room for 1 more" event which featured a, "Deed of Departure", confirming Toad to be deceased (at least for the moment). Included was a note written by Toad himself that said, "I hereby announce my departure from regions beyond to take a journey across the pond, merrily going nowhere in particular. So as to not be forgotten I tribute myself to you dear friend, for this is not the end. Farewell until we meet again at a later date".
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was the attraction that replaced Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in that Magic Kingdom. As a tribute, he appears in a painting in the ride where he is shown handing the deed to the estate to Owl.
A tribute to Toad exists in the S.E.A. themed area of this Jungle Cruise inspired restaurant in Adventureland. In it there is a book called The Wildest Ride which is written by one J.T. Toad. This can be taken to imply that Toad himself (or the Disney Parks version of him) wrote this book, something made likely by Toad having lived in Edwardian England and the Skipper Canteen being set circa. 1938.
In Mickey Mouse's dressing-room is a letter to Mickey Mouse from Angus MacBadger representing the "J. Thaddeus Toad Motors, Ltd." for his purchase of a "Nifty Nineties" automobile. The name of an automobile references the 1941 animated short, The Nifty Nineties, along with referencing how one of the cars from Mr. Toad's Wild Ride used to appear in the theatre.
Mr. Toad is referenced in this bar at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort with car keys labelled as belonging to, "J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq" hanging from the rafters of the bar. This being a joke about how Mr. Toad is not allowed to drive at Trader Sam's establishment where the infamously bad driver would presumably be drinking.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
Toad also has his own spell card named after his attraction in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.
The Toad Hall restaurant in Disneyland Paris is themed around Mr. Toad, Toad Hall, and the Wind in the Willows.