Professor Ratigan is the main antagonist of Disney's 1986 feature film The Great Mouse Detective. A pernicious, yet suave crime lord, Ratigan is the archenemy of Basil of Baker Street, who proves to be an obstacle in his grand scheme to control all of Mousedom. Ratigan is obsessed with his status as a mouse, but when labeled a rat, his ostentatious demeanor shatters and reveals a violent and savage mind.
Ratigan is based on the character of the same name from Basil of Baker Street and the story's version of Professor James Moriarty from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories and serves as the adversary to the Sherlock Holmes counterpart Basil of Baker Street.
Ratigan is regarded as the most infamous criminal in all of Mousedom. His reputation as the "world's greatest criminal mind" is backed by an impressive track record, as several of his schemes have actually saw success—notable events include the "Big Ben Caper" and the "Tower Bridge Job", both of which are said to have had devastating results on London. The only road block in Ratigan's plots appear to be Basil, whose intellect (and eccentricity) matches that of Ratigan's. However, just as Ratigan continuously fails to kill Basil, Basil continuously fails to apprehend Ratign, thus allowing their rivalry to endure for several years—much to the chagrin of both parties.
Ratigan has a variety of henchmen that follow him, most of which are an army of two-bit, yet heavily-armed thugs. Ratigan's right-hand man is a peg-legged bat named Fidget. Ratigan has no tolerance for failure and will quickly resort to killing minions that either fail him or disrespect him (regardless of whether or not this was intentional). Ratigan's method of execution comes in the form of his overweight pet cat, Felicia, whom Ratigan adores greatly. Felicia is summoned by the ringing of a bell that is always kept on Ratigan's person. Once the bell is rung, Felicia will arrive and devour Ratigan's latest victim(s).
- “Oh, I love it when I'm nasty.”
Personality-wise, Ratigan is very charismatic, calm, and calculating, but can easily be sent into a violent rage at the mention of Basil, who has foiled many of his rather complex schemes, or by the incompetence of his minions. Intolerant of failure, he nearly kills Fidget for losing a list of items he was dispatched to obtain, before making a calculated, albeit split-second decision and sparing him, believing he may yet be of use to him. He has a very dark, malicious sense of humor and an inflated ego. He is also very intelligent, and like most rats, he prefers to live in the sewers. Unlike most Disney villains, Ratigan is an ebullient, lip-smacking jester who has a tendency towards big movements and long rants or speeches.
A truly cruel and sadistic megalomaniac, Ratigan is solely driven by power and the desire to earn himself riches (such as the Tower Bridge Job, an assemblage he quite arrogantly calls a "cunning display that made Londoners sob") and even more so the desire to rule over his fellow men in the place of Queen Moustoria. Unlike most evildoers, he acknowledges his crimes as being immoral and takes pride in his wicked acts, which he acknowledges as being evil, making him a truly sadistic and heartless being. He even says that he loves being nasty and that he is about to pull off a crime that will leave an infamous legacy.
In spite of his universally cruelty and sadism, Ratigan at least appears to genuinely enjoy the approval of his minions. He also has an affectionate relationship with Felicia, who he calls "darling", "baby", and "little honey bun", and addressing himself as her father figure. He is also seen hugging her and looking at her awkwardly when she burps.
Even though he is one, Ratigan detests, above all else, being referred to as a rat, preferring the description of a "big mouse," and fed Bartholomew to Felicia when Bartholomew calls him the "world's greatest rat" while intoxicated. Despite his hatred of being labeled as such, he possessed enough self-control to barely react when Basil referred to him as a rat, which is evidenced with two instances in the film: The first, right after he trapped Basil and Basil called him a sewer rat, Ratigan retained his cool demeanor, only closing his watch, and the second time, when Basil revealed his survival after the literal breaking down of the fake Queen of Moustoria by finishing her sentence of Ratigan being a rat, only growling in irritation.
Despite being stoic and charismatic, Basil's exposure of his robot, tying his cape to a gear, and rescue of Olivia finally send him over the edge. In his rage, he pursues Basil, tearing his clothes in the process and transforming from a very formal, composed rat to a highly savage one. He tackles Basil, extending his long, strong fingernails and scratching, punching, and strangling Basil continuously and wounding him.
Ratigan is a towering rat with grey fur dressed in a black tuxedo suit complete with a long black cape with a red underside similar to Count Dracula's. His face is shaven and has yellow eyes with lavender circles around them, above them are thick eyebrows. Although he lavishes himself as a mouse, he has rat-like characteristics, such as sharp fangs and fingers, a large nose, and a long, pink tail. On his head, he wears a black top hat with a grey band, which covers his black combed hair. His suit includes a high white collar and a dark gray vest with buttons on it with a pink-and-purple striped cravat. On his hands are white gloves and cuffs with golden cufflinks. He is always seen carrying a gold cane.
However, when Ratigan becomes completely enraged, he becomes incredibly feral, running on all fours in a hunched position. His hair becomes messy and his clothes become torn exposing his intimidating physique as Ratigan becomes vicious as he obtains a more rat-like appearance. His nails and teeth also grow longer and gnarly.
Ratigan makes plans to take over London by replacing the Mouse Queen with a robotic fake built by a toymaker named Flaversham, whom he has Fidget kidnap. He will then have the real Queen fed to Felicia, ensuring his reign as permanent supreme ruler of all Mousedom. Although Flaversham is reluctant to help, Ratigan threatens to harm the former's daughter Olivia, and this gets the prisoner back on course. He then reveals his plan to his followers, but not before having one gobbled up by Felicia for "insulting" him. Just as his plan is nearing completion, Basil and his new companion, Dr. David Q. Dawson, bring Olivia along and they are able to intervene in the final stages. Learning of their involvement from Fidget, Ratigan constructs a very complicated trap consisting a barrage of life-size weapons to pummel Basil and Dawson before leaving for Buckingham Palace with his thugs and the Robot Queen boxed in a package, flying off in his blimp. However, unbeknownst to Ratigan, Basil uses the trap to free himself, Dawson, and Olivia.
At Buckingham Palace, Ratigan's plan is set into motion. His thugs, disguised as guards, enter the Queen's room, where they unbox the package to reveal the Robot Queen, to the confusion of the real Queen. As the robot chases her, Ratigan reveals himself. The real Queen orders the "guards" to seize him, but Ratigan, shouting into a speaker built into the robot's controls that makes the Robot Queen speak, orders his thugs to seize the real Queen, then rings his bell to summon Felicia. As the Diamond Jubilee takes place, the Robot Queen names Ratigan as her new "Royal Consort", and Ratigan, dressed in an ornate robe, immediately presents himself in front of the gathered citizens of Mousedom, terrifying them. Ratigan then proceeds to read over his long list of tyrannical laws, one of which is a heavy tax policy for people he deems "parasites", such as the elderly, infirm, and even children.
Meanwhile, Basil, Dawson, and Olivia rush to the palace, arriving just in time to save the real Queen. They then take control of the Robot Queen and reveal the scheme in front of the citizens, foiling Ratigan's plans. The citizens then ambush Ratigan and his thugs, but Ratigan fights off his attackers by shedding off his robe. Just then, Fidget reveals that he had captured Olivia again, and Ratigan, rushing over to Fidget, orders Basil, Dawson, and Flaversham to remain where they are, threatening to kill Olivia if they attempt to stop his escape. The three mice quickly rush outside the palace and improvise a flying apparatus to pursue Ratigan above the city. Fidget, who is pedaling Ratigan's blimp to speed it up, cannot take the extra weight and tells Ratigan they have to lighten the load, meaning to throw Olivia off the balloon. Ratigan, out of sheer bad temper, instead throws Fidget (who cannot fly) off the blimp and into the Thames. With Fidget gone, Ratigan pedals the blimp himself. Basil jumps onto the blimp, distracting Ratigan and causing the blimp to crash into one of the clock faces of Big Ben.
Inside the clock tower, after making a full recovery, Ratigan seizes Olivia in one hand, and prepares to ambush Basil, who notices him, and the two fight atop the gears of the clock tower. While Olivia bites Ratigan's hand, causing him to scream in pain and let go of her, Basil traps Ratigan by throwing his cape into the gears. The two mice then escape and Basil is able to take Olivia to safety. This finally sends Ratigan over the edge. Breaking free from the gears, he pursues Basil, tearing his clothes in the process and transforming from a very formal, composed rat to a highly savage one. Ratigan tackles Basil and they both fall onto the clock's hour hand; Ratigan stops Basil from reaching the others. Finally, he extends his long, strong fingernails and begins scratching, punching, and strangling Basil continuously. The attack leaves Basil with torn clothes and several wounds. Attempting to finish him off, Ratigan knocks him off the clock hand and yells in triumph, thinking he has won. However, Basil called him, saying to him that the game was not yet over. Ratigan glances down and sees Basil holding on to the broken blimp. Basil rings Ratigan's bell which he used to summon Felicia, realizing that he stole the bell during the fight and already lost the battle. Suddenly the clock bell tolls, knocking Ratigan off balance, and he plunges off the hand, taking Basil, who manages to save his own life while Ratigan plummets to his death.
His death later makes headlines in newspapers (via a sub-headline that reads "Time Runs Out for Ratigan"), of which one copy is kept by Basil.
Ratigan's most notable cameo was on House of Mouse in the episode "Donald's Lamp Trade", in which he tries to lure Dr. Dawson with cheese on a mousetrap, but Basil stops Dawson and tells him it's a trap, at which point the nearby Ratigan groans, "Curses!" He is also seen with several other mice in "House of Scrooge".
Ratigan can also be spotted seated alongside other Disney villains and Fidget in recurring crowd shots. This shot is also included in Mickey's House of Villains.
In an episode of Quack Pack, Ratigan can be seen on the box art of criminal trading cards.
Professor Ratigan is one of the villains brought back to life to be imprisoned in the Isle of the Lost. It is mentioned once that he and his crew went to Ursula's Fish and Chips Store and every time they go there, Ursula chases him out.
Ratigan was once a walkaround character at the Disney parks during the film's initial release. But he has been retired, rumor has it that it was because he frightened children. His last appearance was at a special event at the Magic Kingdom in 2004.
- In the Basil of Baker Street book series, Ratigan's first name is revealed to be Padraic, and he is in fact, portrayed as a mouse (in contrast to his depiction in the movie).
- Ratigan can easily be identified as a rat since he has five-fingered hands, while all the other mice have four fingers. Also, both the mice in the film, other popular culture, and real-life have thinner, fur-covered tails while Ratigan has a thick, pink, fleshy, segmented tail.
- Ratigan is shown to have an animation flaw. If one looks ever so closely during the course of the film, they can see that Ratigan has five fingers on his hands (see the above fact). However, during the battle sequence from when he goes feral to when he falls to death, he is shown to have four fingers on each hand minus when he flared his claws and before he punches Basil off the clock hand.
- Though not too noticeable, Ratigan actually seems to grow in size during his breakdown in Big Ben, and his claws are shown extending out of his hand. This transformation could be compared to that of a stereotypical Werewolf.
- According to a deleted lyric in "The World's Greatest Criminal Mind", the Tower Bridge Job involved hurling several innocent mice into the River Thames and then shooting whoever attempts to come up to the surface.
- Vincent Price, the voice of Ratigan, said that doing Ratigan was his favorite role because he had two songs written for him.
- Despite his death, some Italian follow-up comics depict Ratigan as having survived the fall.
- There is a level in Disney Heroes: Battle Mode called Ratigan Street, named after Ratigan.
- Ratigan is one of two villains to be shown explicitly attempting to kill minions under their charge, the only other being Rourke.