Victor, Hugo, and Laverne are major characters in Disney's 1996 animated feature film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. They are a trio of sentient gargoyles belonging to Notre Dame. Since Quasimodo's arrival in the bell tower as an infant, the gargoyles have acted as his best friends and guardians.
The anthropomorphic gargoyles are part of Notre Dame's architecture. When not interacting with Quasimodo, they take the appearance of lifeless, ordinary statues (they refer to this as their "sleeping" states). They are conscious during this time but are strict about maintaining the appearance of normality to most.
Victor (voiced by Charles Kimbrough) acts as a Renaissance man, speaking in a deep British tone and often the voice of reason, or at least, the voice of caution. Compared to his companions, Victor can be seen as a coward and is the most innocent of the trio, going as far as to apologize to Frollo's soldier, after forcefully attacking them out of defense during the climax of the film. Though he makes attempts to remain level-head, anxiety can sometimes get the better of him, resulting in panicked outbursts or sobbing fits.
Hugo (voiced by Jason Alexander) is the most comical and flamboyant of the three gargoyles. Hugo always has his mouth open when he is in his nonliving statue form which encourages birds to nest in his mouth which he always spits out. Like Laverne and Victor, he is an avid supporter of Quasimodo and is often the first to suggest disobeying Frollo's orders if it means granting Quasimodo some form of happiness, showing a side of mischief and recklessness. He also tends to be the most optimistic, as he was relatively calm during Frollo's massacre upon Paris in his search for Esmeralda, believing the gypsy to be too intelligent to fall into the hands of Frollo's tyranny. He is also a lover of all things entertainment, romance, and action, especially when it comes to the Festival of Fools.Hugo has a strange fascination with Esmeralda's goat, Djali—harboring romantic feelings for the latter and evidently finding him to be highly attractive. This is given closure in the sequel, where Djali apparently returns Hugo's affections, and a relationship is implied to have blossomed.
Laverne (voiced by Mary Wickes in the original (since she died in late 1995 after filming), Jane Withers in the sequel, and Patricia Lentz in Kingdom Hearts 3D) is the most competent of the gargoyles and acts as a wise mother figure towards Quasimodo. With her age comes wisdom, which she uses to regularly advise and guide Quasimodo through life. With this, she can be both comforting and a needed voice of reason, as well as being a rational handler of situations, while Hugo and Victor tend to approach things with more comedic or over-the-top sensibilities. Even so, she can also be fiery, and is quick to insult or scold Hugo and Victor for their incompetence; an example of this being her jab to Hugo, calling him the "stupid, fat one with the big mouth" of the group.A running gag involves Laverne being pestered by a flock of pigeons, who seek to use her as a resting post. During the climax, she manages to tame them, and uses them as a defense mechanism against Frollo's soldiers, sending them into battle with the words "Fly, my pretties! Fly, fly!" like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Despite this, the flock continues to annoy her final scene in the film, causing her to angrily yell, "Don't you ever migrate?!"
The gargoyles are part of the Notre Dame cathedral's architect who has the odd ability to come to life at will. Being that Quasimodo was forced to live and stay in the bell tower where they reside, they revealed to him their ability and befriend him for twenty years. The trio is first seen when Quasi is depressingly watching the Festival of Fools. Laverne makes an attempt to convince him to go to the festival instead of just watching like he does every year. However, because of his master Frollo's hatred for the event, Quasi feels uneasy. Eventually, Hugo gives the idea to simply sneak out with Laverne and Victor going along with it. After Quasi leaves, Hugo watches him from above and takes offense when Clopin compares gargoyle's wings to gruesome faces. They are later seen when Quasi returns to the bell tower with a gypsy woman named Esmeralda following behind.
The gargoyles convince him to get to meet her and see her a love interest for Quasi. At the film's final battle, the gargoyles assist Quasi in protecting Notre Dame from Frollo and his guards. Hugo spits fire rocks, Victor throws down bricks, and Laverne commands the pigeons to attack. Additionally, Hugo and Victor construct a catapult and, not knowing how it works, throw it from the roof of the cathedral, triggering its spring load and causing further confusion among Frollo's troops. During the battle between Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Frollo who manages to break into the cathedral, they are nowhere to be found after they decide to leave Quasimodo who thinks that Esmeralda is dead. After all, is done, the trio cheers Quasimodo on as he is carried off by the crowd and cheered as the hero of Paris.
After the events of the first film, Quasimodo continues to live with Victor, Hugo, and Laverne. They are first seen with Quasi preparing for the romanced festival La Jour de Amour. Later on, a circus performer named Madellaine arrives in Notre Dame, and Quasi becomes smitten. However, upon seeing his face, she runs away in fear. The gargoyles cheer him up and advise him to go to the circus to see her act. That night, the gargoyles watch happily as Quasi and Madellaine enjoy a date together. Afterward, they set up a romantic mood inside Notre Dame for the two. The next day, Quasimodo and Madellaine go off on a walk when her boss Sarousch and his minions arrive and steal the Notre Dame bell La Fidèle.
Victor planned to release a rope holding another bell which would trap the villains, but the bumbling Hugo causes a different bell to fall atop them. Inside, Laverne gongs on the bell with her head, alerting Quasimodo of danger. Before he arrives, the gargoyles witness Esmeralda and Phoebus' son Zephyr follow the villains out of Notre Dame. When Quasi gets there, they quickly inform him.
The next day is all good. Hugo and Djali finally proclaim their love, and the gargoyles congratulate Quasi and Madellaine, they cry out of joy about him finally finding love. They expect her to take care of him as she tells them she will, becoming the first person other than Quasi to notice that the gargoyles are alive, much to their surprise and they all do a literal jaw drop.
Victor, Hugo, and Laverne have made their fair share of cameos. Their biggest role was in the episode "Donald Wants to Fly". During a flight montage, Hugo gives Donald a pair of stone wings to fly, but he ends up plummeting to the ground. In the episode "Goofy's Valentine Date", Hugo blew his fire rocks at Mortimer Mouse after he flirted with Laverne. They were briefly seen in the episode "Donald's Lamp Trade" when Goofy serves empty plates of food to the guests.
Hugo made a cameo inside the Smithsonian Institution's boiler room near the beginning of Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
Victor, Hugo, and Laverne make cameos in the form of silhouettes at the end of The Lion King 1½, watching the title film with other Disney characters.
Victor, Hugo, and Laverne appear in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in their homeworld La Cité des Cloches.
While Sora observes Quasimodo showing off Notre Dame's bells to Esmeralda, he is surprised to see the trio behind him come to life (much to his shock), commenting on how strong they believe Quasimodo (referring to him simply as Quasi). Sora soon warms up to the trio quickly and asks them how they know Quasimodo. They tell him that they have been friends with him for years since he cannot leave the cathedral due to Judge Frollo's orders, who don't want people to see his appearance. While Victor and Hugo argue, Laverne mentions her fear that Quasimodo's first failure of stepping outside might affect him to the point that he will never do it again after years of gathering his courage to do so. A compassionate Sora realizes that Quasimodo should not allow his heart to become a prison, and runs outside to have a word with him.
Later, when Riku goes inside the Cathedral a Meow Wow Dream Eater suddenly appears, but soon the gargoyles appear and completely defeat the dream eater. Riku is amazed to see that they don't need his help and got the situation covered, with Hugo saying "It was a walk in the park." The gargoyles then continue to battle the Dream Eaters inside the cathedral, allowing Riku to go up into the Cathedral rooftop. After Frollo's death, the trio along with Sora reminds Quasimodo not to let his fear of rejection keep him locked inside the cathedral.
Laverne also appears in the spin-off comic The Sceptre and the Kingdom in which she tells Sora and Riku the location the door that can take them back to their world.
The trio makes a cameo appearance in Epic Mickey, in Dark Beauty Castle's Throne Room, as a single lifeless gargoyle in which the three are at the top of each other, with Laverne at the top, Hugo in the middle, and Victor at the bottom. The gargoyle featuring the trio appears once all the pictures on the second floor are restored. Once all the pictures are restored, another gargoyle appears, causing the gargoyle to feature the trio to emit a beam of light to it. Then, Mickey Mouse reflects the light to other gargoyles, until it reaches an energy crystal in the room, activating an entrance to a hidden projector.
The Gargoyles, renamed Charles, Antoine, and Loni, are featured in the German musical adaptation, in which they are explicitly depicted as Quasimodo’s imaginary friends. They try to encourage Quasimodo to leave Notre Dame and rescue Esmeralda. They also try to comfort him after Esmeralda dies. They don’t have the over the top personalities that their Disney counterparts have nor are they as silly. Their levity is light-hearted and subtle. The Gargoyles also had a darker nature in the musical, as they are the ones who told Quasimodo to kill Frollo near the musical's end.
The Gargoyles don't appear in the North American version, in which they are replaced with a choir of saint statues, who also act as the musical's "Greek chorus", both narrating the story and acting as Quasimodo's friends.
During the film's original run, statues of Victor, Hugo, and Laverne were seen at the Disneyland Resort in California.
Back in the 1990s and into September 2002, Disney's M.G.M. Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios) showcased a live stage version of the film, with Victor, Hugo, and Laverne replaying their roles.
- Victor and Hugo appear to be named after Victor Hugo, the author of Notre-Dame de Paris, while Laverne was named after Laverne Andrews from the 1940s singing group The Andrews Sisters.
- When Laverne first appears, she tells Victor and Hugo that "if 20 years of listening to [them] hadn't made [Quasimodo] sick by [then], nothing will". Given that Quasimodo later claimed to have lived 20 years in the belltower and that Frollo, who had raised the hunchback since he was a baby, states that he should have killed him when he first found Quasimodo 20 years ago, this suggests that the gargoyles have known Quasimodo since he was a baby.
- Hugo is revealed to have a crush on Djali, which is further exploited in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, and at the end of the sequel, they both confirm their love for each other. As Esmeralda refers to Djali as a "he", this is obviously a homosexual relationship, and Hugo's gestures seem to imply that he is, in fact, gay (or alternately, mistakes Djali for a female).
- Some local dubs, such as Italy, change Djali to a female, like in the original book, in order to avoid these references.
- Their names in the musical are changed to Charles, Antoine, and Loni, which bear homage to three previous actors of Quasimodo in past adaptations of The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Lon Chaney, Charles Laughton, and Anthony Quinn.
- Notably, the names Charles, Antoine, and Loni were among the names suggested for the trio in the film, but all those names, as well as the names Chaney, Laughton, and Quinn, were dropped in order to avoid a potential lawsuit from the estates of Lon Chaney, Charles Laughton, or Anthony Quinn for using their names.
- Victor, Hugo, and Laverne are apparently not the only gargoyles in Notre Dame that can come to life. In the climax of the film, a gargoyle briefly comes to life just before Judge Frollo meets his end in a fiery inferno.
- There are only four characters that have interacted with the gargoyles in the films: Quasimodo, Judge Claude Frollo, Madellaine, Djali. However, Frollo interacted with them only in their stone form.
- Victor, Hugo, and Laverne are the only major characters who were not in the original novel. The Archdeacon technically wasn't either because, in the novel, Claude Frollo was just the archdeacon and not a judge.
- Mary Wickes, who played Laverne, died of cancer before she could finish her role. Jane Withers stepped in to complete Laverne's lines.
- In the DVD audio commentary Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale, and Don Hahn suggest that it's possible that the three gargoyles exist purely in Quasimodo's mind and are in fact split off portions of his own personality created to deal with his loneliness. While this is only a possibility, it should be noted that the only other two characters in the first film to actually see a statue come to life are Frollo in the midst of his insanity, and Djali when Hugo tried to kiss him. However, the true nature of these statues is open to interpretation, given Hugo's endless flirtations with Djali.
- In spite of this, the trio's only appearance to ever follow this idea was the German musical adaptation, while most of their subsequent appearances (including the film's sequel) explicitly portray them as real creatures.
- The scene where Laverne summons a flock of doves and quotes, "Fly, my pretties! Fly, fly!" was a reference to Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.
- There is a goof in The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, as their own colors sometimes keep swapping.
- The Gargoyles are a frequent point of contention for fans and critics of the first movie, with some finding their antics and comedic relief out of place in an otherwise serious and unusually dark Disney movie, while others see them as necessary to keep the movie from becoming depressing.
- After the ending post-credits of the original film, Hugo, still in the balcony of the bell tower, suddenly breaks the fourth wall as sort of a jump-scare by saying, "Goodnight everybody! Woo, hoo hoo!" before the still Walt Disney Pictures logo. Interestingly enough, this would later become a catchphrase of Jason Alexander's George Costanza character in the Seinfeld episode, "The Burning."
- Though the trio have wings, only Hugo has been shown to fly. This happens in the climax of the first movie, during which Hugo fills his mouth with pebbles, flies into the air in a circle, and, in an imitation of a fighter plane, opens fire on the soldiers.