Quasimodo is the protagonist of Disney's 1996 animated feature film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Quasimodo was born deformed, possessing a hunched back, from which the film takes its name. In spite of his ghastly appearance, Quasimodo is very naïve, kind-hearted, and knows little of the world outside his bell tower home from which he is forbidden to leave.
Quasimodo first appeared as a baby (whose face is not seen, only his arm, but is described by Frollo to be a "monster") being carried by his mother. His mother and father were gypsies and were secretly entering Paris through the waterways. Judge Claude Frollo, believing that they had stolen something, stood in their way and gave chase to Quasimodo's mother when she ran, and delivered a kick to her, breaking her neck on the steps of Notre Dame and killing her. When he discovered that the bundle she had been carrying was actually a baby, and seeing that he was deformed, he planned to drown Quasimodo in a well. However, the Archdeacon of Notre Dame commanded him not to murder the baby. Frollo was then ordered to adopt Quasimodo as his own to make up for his sin of killing an innocent woman. However, he only did this because he felt the infant would later prove useful to him.
Despite his appearance, Quasimodo is a kind and gentle person. He was also curious and trusting, enough so that he was naive to the true nature of his master, Frollo until he was in his early twenties. Even when Frollo taught Quasimodo that gypsies, such as Esmeralda, were evil, Quasimodo was not particularly violent towards them. He also seems to have an attachment to Notre Dame, as he didn't leave even after he was accepted into society.
Due to being raised by Frollo, and being isolated from everyone else, Quasimodo initially had fairly poor social skills. This is shown with his shyness, and his initial fear of Esmeralda. Additionally, when she displayed compassion towards him, he jumped to the conclusion that she was romantically attracted to him, and he was heavily heartbroken when she revealed that her heart belonged to Phoebus. However, Quasimodo is still close friends with Phoebus and Esmeralda.
His devotion to his master almost proved to be his undoing, as it almost caused him to abandon his friends and allies.
He can also show violence towards his enemies, particularly when they are threatening his friends and allies, especially towards Esmeralda.
Quasimodo is a talented artist, possessing the skills needed to carve miniature figurines and toys, a scale wooden model of Paris and the Cathedral itself, and a decoration of hung shards of stained glass. Quasimodo likely developed his skills in handicraft as a hobby or to make his life isolated in the bell tower more bearable. Quasimodo, despite his appearance, is very agile and acrobatic, as he is able to quickly move across rooftops, scale buildings, rope-swing, and climb large structures with relative ease. He likely made a habit of climbing and scaling the cathedral to better observe the world from which his master forbade him from ever entering, and to see the free people, envying them for being able to live as they do.
Due to his duty to ring the bells of Notre Dame, Quasimodo possesses extreme physical strength. One of the first instances of this abnormal physical strength was shown when Quasimodo was able to lift the fully-armored Phoebus up off his feet with no notable effort when Phoebus entered the bell tower in search of Esmeralda. Perhaps the most impressive feat Quasimodo has shown was his ability to break free of the chains which held him in the bell tower when Frollo was preparing to execute Esmeralda.
Quasimodo was raised by Frollo in the bell tower of Notre Dame. However, he was trapped there and was led to believe by Frollo that his mother abandoned him. He always longed to be free, despite making three friends in the form of gargoyles Hugo, Victor, and Laverne. They persuade him to go against Frollo's strict orders never to leave the tower and Quasimodo attends the Festival of Fools.
At the festival, he meets the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda. He instantly falls in love with her. She drags him up on the stage for a competition to see who can make the ugliest face after removing their masks, presuming his deformed face to be a disguise. Once upon the stage, they realize it is really his face, though Clopin points out this is exactly what they are looking for. Just then, Frollo sees him and realizes his disobedience. After a guard throws food at Quasimodo and mocks him, the crowd turns from cheering to tormenting Quasimodo, who is then tied down and barraged with a flurry of produce.
Esmeralda, seeing this, stands up for him, cuts him free and calls for justice. Following the gypsy's escape, Frollo is furious with his charge. After the festival Quasimodo witnesses Esmeralda singing "God Help the Outcasts", but before he can talk to her, a parishioner who mistook him for causing trouble shouts at him, causing him to knock down a candle staff and flee back to the bell tower. Esmeralda was terrified seeing Quasimodo being scared away by the Parishioner and follows him, while the Archdeacon stops the Parishioner when he attempted to stop her and Djali from following him. Quasimodo eventually befriends Esmeralda, who once more apologizes to him for what happened at the festival and whom he helps escape from Notre Dame and Frollo's guards. Before she leaves, Esmeralda gives the hunchback an amulet that leads him to the Court of Miracles after he tells her that he refuses to leave the bell tower to go there due to what happened to him at the Festival. Afterward, Quasimodo encounters Phoebus and gets defensive towards him when the captain asks him where the gypsy was. Back in the bell tower, the gargoyles think Esmeralda is in love with Quasimodo but he tells them it's not true. However, in the song "Heaven's Light", he expresses his love for the gypsy girl and wonders if she loves him back after being the first person ever in his life to be so kind to him.
Later, after seeing Paris burned by Frollo, Quasimodo is worried that Esmeralda might be in danger, but the gargoyles cheer him up by convincing him that she is in love with him ("A Guy Like You"). Later, he offers sanctuary to an injured Phoebus, who is taken to Notre Dame's bell tower by Esmeralda after she saves him from drowning in the river. He watches as the two lovers kiss right in front of his eyes. He is heartbroken, but when he hears Frollo coming, he can do nothing but push thoughts of Esmeralda to the back of his mind. He hides Phoebus and quickly tries to hide what has happened from Frollo. Frollo, however, is already aware that he helped Esmeralda and announces that he will attack the Court of Miracles with a thousand men. After he leaves, Phoebus asks Quasimodo if he can come with him to the court. Quasi initially refuses after realizing that Phoebus and Esmeralda are in love with each other, but ultimately agrees due to his friendship with the gypsy girl.
Using the amulet Esmeralda gave him, Quasimodo and Phoebus make their way to the Court of Miracles, only to be ambushed by the gypsies. Clopin, the king of the gypsies, accuses the two of trespassing their headquarters and orders them hang, but Esmeralda comes in time to rescue them. As the gypsies prepare to leave, however, Frollo arrives and captures everyone present, revealing that he had secretly followed Quasimodo to the court. He orders to his guards to chain up the hunchback in Notre Dame. The gargoyles encourage Quasi to save Esmeralda, but he tells them it's useless. He then watches in horror at the square below as Esmeralda is being burned at the stake for witchcraft, breaks free, swings down, rescues her from her fiery grave, and holds her over his head on top of Notre Dame, calling for sanctuary.
In the ensuing battle for the cathedral, Quasimodo successfully prevents Frollo's guards from coming to harm Esmeralda. Despite this, Quasimodo at first believes Esmeralda is dead, and when he sees Judge Frollo in the shadows with a dagger, he gets defensive with him and rejects all that his now former master has been teaching him about the world being cruel. Esmeralda then wakes up and Quasi protects her and himself from Frollo, who tries to kill them both during the film's final battle. Frollo then falls from the top of Notre Dame to his death, but not before he reveals to Quasimodo that his mother died trying to save him. Quasimodo also falls but is saved by Phoebus. Ultimately Quasimodo is free from Frollo's hold over him and is free to live a normal, happy life. Quasi also finally accepts Esmeralda and Phoebus' love for each other and gives the couple a blessing. In the end, Quasimodo is led to the outside world by Esmeralda in front of a large crowd of Parisians. A little girl emerges from the crowd and hugs him. The crowd then hails him as a hero for his efforts, picks him up, and takes him away cheering.
Taking place several years after the original film, Quasimodo is now an accepted part of Parisian society, free to interact with the public, even becoming something of a town mascot; however, he continues living in Notre Dame with Victor, Hugo, and Laverne, and serve as the cathedral's bellringer. As the city prepares for Le Jour d'Amour, which is a festival celebrating romance, Quasimodo, although excited, feels a bit uneven. Unlike everyone else, Quasimodo has no love interest to celebrate the festival alongside. Esmeralda, who now acts as Quasimodo's confidant, reassures him that someone out there will cross paths with him when he's truly ready. Setting the grief aside, Quasimodo begins to prepare one of Notre Dame's bells, La Fidèle.
Meanwhile, the circus arrives in the city with a secretly villainous ringmaster, Sarousch and his cohort Madellaine. Sarousch plans on stealing La Fidèle and orders Madellaine to convince the Notre Dame bell ringer to reveal it to her. Once he does, she is to tell him the location so that he may steal it. Inside, Madellaine wants no part of Sarousch's scheme but must obey or suffer the harsh world alone. Inside Notre Dame, she speaks with Quasimodo, who's hiding under a bell to prevent her from seeing his face. The two become fairly comfortable with each another. However, when Madellaine finally sees his face, she runs away in terror, leaving Quasimodo depressed. Even though their time was brief, Quasi begins to develop feelings for her. Hugo, Victor, and Laverne advise Quasimodo to head over to the circus, which he decides to do.
He meets up with Esmeralda, Phoebus, and their son Zephyr, and they all head for the circus together. After the performance, Madellaine is again ordered to get La Fidèle's whereabouts. However, she notices Quasimodo and Zephyr's close relationship and realizes that he is a wonderful person inside. Quasimodo and Madellaine head off on a tour through the city, falling in love during the process. The next day, Quasi feels odd and goes to Esmeralda for help. She easily realizes he's in love and advises him to tell her the truth. Just then, Phoebus arrives openly blaming the circus for the sudden robberies going on throughout the city. Quasimodo sticks up for Madellaine, who he feels is different, but Phoebus is not convinced. Quasimodo storms out.
Back at the circus, Sarousch forces Madellaine to lure Quasimodo out of Notre Dame so that he may make his move on La Fidèle. Madellaine tries to reject the demand but Sarousch threatens to murder Quasimodo unless she cooperates. Quasimodo feels it's time to ask Madellaine the truth about their relationship and leaves her for a walk. During their absence, Sarousch tricks Phoebus into believing Madellaine is the mastermind behind the thefts and two of his goons steal the bell successfully. When Quasimodo and Madellaine return, Phoebus orders Madellaine arrested for the thefts which leave Quasimodo feeling betrayed and heartbroken. Inside Notre Dame, Hugo, Victor, and Laverne inform Quasimodo about the robbery, and that Zephyr followed Sarousch. Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Phoebus, and a captive Madellaine make their way to Sarousch.
Quasimodo and the others venture into the dark catacombs. They encounter Djali, who takes them to Sarousch and Zephyr. Sarousch forces Phoebus and the guards into opening the gate to allow his raft through by using Zephyr as a hostage. Madellaine convinces Quasimodo to trust her again, and the pair runs up a stairwell. Quasimodo lassos a rock to create a tightrope, and Madellaine walks across it. When Sarousch's raft passes beneath her, Madellaine seizes Zephyr from Sarousch's grasp. With Sarousch now robbed of his leverage, Phoebus's men quickly arrest Sarousch and recover the bell. At the festival, Quasimodo and Madellaine finally proclaim their love for one another and kiss as Zephyr rings La Fidèle.
Quasimodo makes several cameos as a guest on House of Mouse. In episode "Jiminy Cricket", Quasimodo was used as a reference for Jiminy's quote "Maybe you'll meet someone special, maybe you won't," poking fun at the fact that Quasimodo did not get Esmeralda at the end of the 1996 film. In the episode "Ask Von Drake" Quasimodo is seen clapping his hands while he watches Esmeralda dance on a table. In the episode "House of Scrooge", Quasimodo's face is not deformed when you see him in the audience.
Quasimodo also makes a cameo appearance at the end of The Lion King 1½.
In Descendants, Quasimodo appears as one of the heroes to have images in the Cathedral.
Much like the film, Quasimodo is forced to remain inside Notre Dame's bell tower, under the order of his master Claude Frollo. During the Festival of Fools, Quasimodo sneaked out and ended up being taking part in the festival and being crowned the King of Fools. Dream Eaters were a part of his parade and they became Nightmares and turned violent when Sora arrived, who fought them off after.
Quasimodo met Riku when he entered Notre Dame for answers about Frollo. Having been informed by Frollo himself that he carried out business on the outskirts of the city, Quasi informed Riku where his master is and that the Archdeacon is away. Riku questioned him as to why doesn't go outside and Quasimodo explained that it's because of his hideous appearance. However, Riku encouraged him to find true friends who see him for who he is in his heart.
Quasimodo later met Esmeralda and showed her around the bell tower. After realizing that Frollo was plotting to kill her due to her ethnicity, Quasimodo offered her sanctuary and protection within Notre Dame. She declined but gave him a woven band with the hidden location of the Court of Miracles, a safe haven for hunted gypsies like her.
When he heard from Sora and Phoebus that Frollo discovered the Court of Miracles and was going to attack, he used the band to lead Sora and Phoebus to the court in an attempt to warn the gypsies. However, it turned out that Frollo tricked them and only pretended to know the court's location so that he could follow Quasimodo there. Frollo reached the court with an army of Nightmares.
Quasimodo rescued Esmeralda from her execution and took her to sanctuary within the Notre Dame. Here, he learned that his mother had died while protecting him rather than abandoning him as Frollo said. He offered to help Riku fight the Wargoyle but Riku told Quasimodo to look after Esmeralda instead. In the aftermath, he was encouraged by Sora to go out and make more friends. Quasimodo agrees, no longer fearing being rejected by society. Quasimodo also thanked Riku for his advice earlier.
Quasimodo, in this version, is not deaf but has trouble expressing himself in verbal communication. He is, however, able to express himself when he sings. He seems to have a more of a morose attitude than he had in the Disney film version but he is still quite much the same.
Quasimodo has his own spell card known as "Quasimodo's Bell" in the Magic Kingdom attraction Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. In the same park, he makes a notable appearance during Happily Ever After, where he performs "Out There".
He was also featured in the former The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Festival of Fools parade, which ran in promotion for the film.
Differences from the original character
The original Quasimodo, created by Victor Hugo, was an even more tragic character because he was even more ugly and deformed than the Disney version, as well as being deaf and having unintelligible speech from being the bell ringer of Notre Dame. However, the original version was also kind-hearted and caring like in the Disney version. The original was also considerably more violent towards his enemies, even going so far as killing them to protect Esmeralda. The main difference is that Quasimodo was not able to save Esmeralda from her death sentence (hanging in the original novel) and he kills Frollo himself by throwing him off the cathedral towers. He then finds Esmeralda's body in a tomb for those who were sentenced to death and clutched her body, staying long enough to meet the same fate. In the ending of the book, Quasimodo runs away from Notre Dame after the death of Esmeralda. About three years later some soldiers find Quasimodo's dead body which has rotted into a skeleton, but as they pull his dead body off of Esmeralda's it crumbles into dust.
Claude Frollo first encountered Quasimodo as a baby, after he killed his mother. For the murder, he had to take Quasimodo and raise him as his own or face punishment in the afterlife for his crimes. Frollo was against it but accepted it as the infant may be of use to him in time. For the next twenty years, he genuinely poses as an intimidating, yet oddly comforting, father figure to Quasimodo.
However, when Quasimodo is twenty years old, Frollo allows him to be tortured after he sneaks out of the bell tower for which he is forbidden to leave. He is also enraged when Quasimodo helps Esmeralda escape him and sneaks down to the Court of Miracles, where the gypsies are hiding. Frollo applauds him for finally proving useful to him before forcing him back to the bell tower. At this point, Quasimodo has come to hate Frollo and will help anyone who helps him, such as Esmeralda.
After Quasimodo goes against him in a battle, Frollo's hatred for him reaches its limits and Frollo attempts to kill him, like he "should have done twenty years ago". However, this ultimately leads to Frollo's own demise.
- Quasimodo is Tom Hulce's final theatrical performance role before his retirement from acting.
- Despite the fact that his eyes are green in the original film, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in "La Cite Des Cloches", Quasimodo's eyes are blue.
- Quasimodo was also the first new Disney character featured in promotional pictures and footage of Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
- Quasimodo is 20 years old, according to his argument with Phoebus, as well as during Frollo's remark at the climax.
- Quasimodo is the third Disney male protagonist to have a single voice actor do both his speaking and singing voices in a film, the first two being the Beast from Beauty and the Beast, and John Smith from Pocahontas.
- Quasimodo is Romani, as his mother and father were both gypsies. However, he neither shares his parents' (and generally all of the film's other gypsies') dark skin tone nor their black hair. Though this can be explained away as a combination of his natural deformity and of living in a tower all his life (thus with very little sunlight).
- Clopin claims his name means "half-formed". Though the word does mean that, this is not why he was named so in the original novel; "Quasimodo" is the Italian name of the holiday (following Easter) on which he was abandoned on the steps of Notre Dame.
- Quasimodo was mentioned in Who Framed Roger Rabbit during Roger's version of the song "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down".
- Quasimodo surviving at the end is not exclusive to the Disney film. The 1939 film adaptation starring Charles Laughton ended with Quasimodo living, but is still not accepted by the public.