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“I'm thumpin'. That's why they call me Thumper!”
Thumper is the deuteragonist in Disney's 1942 animated feature film, Bambi. He is a rabbit known and named for his habit of thumping his left hind foot.
Thumper is a young, comical rabbit and is also a well-known inhabitant of the forest. Despite being mistaken for a female by viewers, he is actually male. He was the first and closest friend of Prince Bambi, whom he sees as great potential for amazing things; taking the young fawn "under his wings" and teaching him the ways of the forest, to some extent.
The character was an important influence upon the development of the 1942 film Bambi which started production with an adult tone which seemed too serious and non-commercial. As voiced by the young actor 4-year-old Peter Behn, the vivacious character of Thumper was expanded from its original minor role and led to a focus on the young animals in the story.
Unlike Bambi, Thumper can be rather mischievous but ultimately means well. He often gives his close friends advice on a handful of topics but they usually get them into trouble. As a young adult, he hasn't changed much and continues to speak rather loud and thumps his left or right foot.
One beautiful day in the forest, a doe gave birth to Bambi, the young prince of the forest. Thumper and Bambi quickly form a friendship, and Thumper takes it into his hands to teach Bambi the ropes, such as how to walk and talk. During one of these lessons, Bambi and Thumper meet and befriend a skunk named Flower. At another day, Bambi is out with his mother when Thumper appears again, telling him to eat blossoms, and not grass. However, Thumper's mother forces him to eat the grass as well, being that it's healthier.
During the winter, Thumper teaches Bambi how to ice-skate, which proves to be rather difficult for the young prince. Later on, Bambi's mother is tragically killed by Man.
The next scene takes place years after with a now young adult Thumper, Bambi, and Flower. It is Springtime and Friend Owl, a good friend to Bambi's family, warns the trio about the "dangers" of becoming twitterpated (falling in love). The three claim they'll never fall victim to this, and make their way through the forest.
As their walk becomes longer, Flower falls for a female skunk. Disgusted by the sight, Thumper and Bambi continue on. Eventually, a female bunny becomes smitten with Thumper, and she begins to flirt, luring him into her lap. Soon after, Bambi would fall for his childhood friend Faline. Some time after, Thumper has revealed to have children of his own, as well as Flower. Both newly named fathers make way for Faline's den to witness the birth of Bambi's children, with Bambi now assuming the role as Great Prince of the Forest.
The events in Bambi II take place after the death of Bambi's mother, but before Bambi's young adulthood. With his mother gone, Bambi is to live with his father, The Great Prince of the Forest, until a suitable replacement mother is found. During this time, Bambi finds it to be very difficult to connect with his father, and Thumper offers to help. Throughout the film, Thumper gives Bambi lessons on how to impress the Great Prince and prove that he can be mighty as well.
As a side plot in the film, Thumper is constantly being followed by his sisters, though he finds them to be rather annoying. At the climax of the film, Man's dogs hunt down Bambi, and Thumper pitches in to help by telling Flower to make his "brave face" which causes him to let out his stink.
In the end, Thumper tells the story of the climatic dog chase to Faline, and other members of the forest, though he exaggerates it to make him seem like more of the hero.
Cameos and other appearances
Thumper was set to have his own show as a part of The Disney Afternoon block entitled Thumper's Thicket, although the idea for the show never really developed and is one of few ideas for Disney Afternoon shows that never made it off the drawing board.
Thumper makes numerous cameo appearances in the animated series House of Mouse. In the episode "Timon and Pumbaa", Thumper was going to be used by Timon for his "pull a rabbit out of a hat" trick, though Thumper thumped Timon's face and ran off. In the episode "Pete's House of Villains" , he and Bambi were angered when Pete insulted Flower by saying that the club stinks, especially him.
In Enchanted, a rabbit resembling Thumper appears at the beginning of the 2D-animated portions of the film.
Thumper appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meetable character.
During his early appearances, when Flower also appeared, Thumper used to appear in his child form, though as the years passed, the costume used was changed to his adult form, as shown by him now having both his buck teeth, his more developed neck frill, and the fact he is now found with or without Miss Bunny.
According to a line spoken by Roger Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Thumper is Roger's uncle. Roger also said that Thumper had prostate trouble and had to take medication for it.
Thumper is one of John Lasseter's favorite Disney characters, to the point that Lasseter named one of the grasshoppers in A Bug's Life after him.
In reality, rabbits thump their feet when frightened.
Thumper was listed #44 in Empire Magazine's The 50 Best Animated Movie Characters.
In the 1963 Disneyland Album "Peter Cottontail", one of the stories focuses on Thumper called "The Story Of Thumper". The story explains that Thumper used to thump uncontrollably when he was young before gaining control of it. The album also reveals the names of his four sisters who are named Blossom, Violet, Nillie and Frillie.
Thumper's original voice actor, Peter Behn, initially auditioned for the role of Bambi, but was rejected. However, he was later chosen for the role of Thumper, based on his previous audition.
Thumper's father was originally meant to appear in the film, but was scrapped.