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Sleeping Beauty character
Maleficent (along with her raven Diablo), as she appears in Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
First appearanceSleeping Beauty (1959)
First gameKingdom Hearts (2002)
Created byMarc Davis
Eric Cleworth
Based onThe evil fairy from Charles Perrault's fairy tale
Designed byMarc Davis
Eyvind Earle
Voiced by
Portrayed by
In-universe information
AliasThe Mistress of all Evil
TitleQueen of the Moors (in Maleficent)
AffiliationDisney Villains
Significant othersHades (in House of Mouse and Descendants)
ChildrenMal (daughter; in Descendants)
Aurora (adoptive daughter; in Maleficent)
HomeThe Forbidden Mountains
The Moors (in Maleficent)

Maleficent (/məˈlɛfɪsənt/ or /məˈlɪfɪsənt/) is a fictional character who first appears in Walt Disney Productions' animated film, Sleeping Beauty (1959). Maleficent is the self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil" based on the evil fairy godmother character in Charles Perrault's fairy tale Sleeping Beauty,[3] as well as the villainess who appears in the Brothers Grimm's retelling of the story, Little Briar Rose. Maleficent was originally animated by Marc Davis.

In the 1959 film, Maleficent was originally voiced by Eleanor Audley, who earlier voiced Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother, in Cinderella (1950).[4] Maleficent is represented as an evil fairy and the self-proclaimed "Mistress of All Evil" who, after not being invited to a christening, curses the infant Princess Aurora to "prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die" before the sun sets on Aurora's sixteenth birthday.[5]

A revision of the character appeared as the protagonist in the 2014 live-action film Maleficent, portrayed by Angelina Jolie, who reprised the role in the 2019 sequel Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.[6] This version of Maleficent is portrayed as a sympathetic character, who is misunderstood in trying to protect herself and her domain from humans.



The character was animated by Marc Davis who also animated Aurora in the film. She was aptly named "Maleficent" (an adjective which means "doing evil or harm").[7] In determining Maleficent's design, standard depictions of witches and hags were dismissed as Davis has opted for an elegant, sinister, green-skinned beauty, depicted as "vain femme fatale, utilizing a classic archetype of a bad woman."[8] According to Davis, Maleficent "was designed like a giant vampire bat to create a feeling of menace."[9]

She was voiced by Eleanor Audley, who had previously performed Lady Tremaine, Cinderella's evil stepmother, in Cinderella. Audley also provided some live-action recording for both of these characters, to inspire the animators. In addition, dancer Jane Fowler performed some live-action reference for Maleficent.[10][11] Animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, in their book The Disney Villain, describe animating Audley's voice as "a difficult assignment but a thrilling one, working to that voice track with so much innuendo mixed in with the fierce power."[12]

It was long rumored that Maleficent's likeness was inspired by actress Maila Nurmi, best known for her character Vampira, a camp icon of the 1950s. In 2014, entries were discovered in Nurmi's journals describing sessions for Walt Disney in November 1956. Walt Disney was subsequently able to find archival documents corroborating Nurmi's participation as a "live-action reference" model for the character.[13] Maleficent's likeness in the eponymous 2014 film was inspired by Lady Gaga's appearance in her "Born This Way" (2011) music video.[14]

For the scene when Maleficent transforms into a dragon in the original film, she was animated by Eric Cleworth, who said that the dragon was modeled on a rattlesnake, with "powerful muscles moving a bulky body over the rocky terrain."[9] Sound effects artist Jimmy MacDonald searched for the sound of a dragon's fiery breath by requesting the United States Army to send him some training films on flame throwing. These films provided just the right sound for him.[11]



Sleeping Beauty


In the animated film, where she is voiced by Eleanor Audley, Maleficent arrives at King Stefan and Queen Leah's castle during the christening of their newborn daughter, Princess Aurora. She expresses displeasure about not receiving an invitation, to which one of the good fairies named Merryweather replies that she was unwanted. Angered, she prepares to leave. Queen Leah asks her if she is offended, causing Maleficent to deny her rage, and subsequently offers to bestow a "gift" on Aurora to prove that she "bears no ill will". Maleficent confirms that Aurora will grow in grace and beauty, "beloved by all who know her", but as revenge for not being invited by the kingdom, she curses Aurora so that before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel's spindle and die. Before the Royal Guards can seize her, Maleficent disappears, laughing triumphantly. Though Merryweather still has her gift to bestow, she cannot dispel Maleficent's power, but she can only soften the curse so Aurora will not die when she pricks her finger, but only sleep instead, until a kiss from her true love awakens her.

Later, at her castle in the Forbidden Mountains, a frustrated Maleficent asks her bestial army why they have been unable to find Aurora, who had been hidden and brought up by the three good fairies. Maleficent learns that they have focused on searching for a baby the entire time, even though 16 years have passed. She flies into a destructive rage, and soon desperately instructs her pet raven, Diablo, to find Aurora. The bird manages to succeed due to a magical quarrel between Merryweather and Flora, which exposes their location.

Maleficent transforms into a dragon at the film's climax.

On the evening of Aurora's sixteenth birthday, after the three fairies have momentarily left the depressed princess alone in a castle room, Maleficent visits Aurora in the form of a will-o-the-wisp, luring the princess to a tower room where Maleficent transforms into a spinning wheel. The fairies, realizing their mistake, pursue Aurora to the tower room, trying to prevent her from touching the spindle. Unfortunately for them, Aurora pricks her finger and collapses into sleep. When Flora, Merryweather, and Fauna arrive too late, Maleficent appears and taunts them of their attempts of defeating her. Maleficent reveals Aurora asleep on the floor, shocking the fairies as she disappears, cackling, leaving the fairies heartbroken at what happened.

Later on, Maleficent and her goons capture Prince Phillip, Aurora's true love, and imprisons him. Maleficent then rests well, thinking she has triumphed. However, she later wakes up and by seeing that Diablo has been turned to stone, she discovers that the fairies have freed Phillip from her dungeon. She climbs to the top of one of her castle's towers and proceeds to blast Phillip with lightning, and after the good fairies foil these attempts, she summons a forest of thorns, through which Phillip slices his way out. Enraged, she blows away and confronts him in front of King Stefan's castle, and transforms herself into a huge dark dragon. The three fairies cast an enhancing enchantment on Phillip's Sword of Truth, which he throws into Maleficent's heart, mortally wounding her before she falls off the crumbling cliff to her death.

Maleficent film series



Angelina Jolie as Maleficent in the 2014 live-action re-imagining film of the character

The 2014 live-action reboot presents Maleficent as a good-hearted but tragic fairy who defends the Moors, a realm of supernatural beings, from neighboring humans. She is played by Angelina Jolie.

Prior to sporting her iconic dark attire, Maleficent had a pair of giant wings and wore a brown leather dress, with sandals and an anklet. She could heal a tree's broken branch just by touching it, and shared an immense fondness with all the denizens of her mystical domain. Maleficent befriends a thieving peasant boy named Stefan, upon being alerted to his presence by a trio of pixies: Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Thistletwit (Juno Temple), and Flittle (Lesley Manville).

As a young adult, Maleficent is betrayed by her love interest, Stefan, who uses iron to burn off her wings so that he can succeed King Henry (Henry declared a bounty on Maleficent's life, after she gravely felled him while thwarting his armed invasion of the Moors). After claiming a raven named Diaval (Sam Riley) as her henchman, Maleficent renames herself from guardian of the Moors to ruler of same. Both her clothing and her realm turn dark, reflecting the hatred with which she is now consumed. When she learns that now-King Stefan and his Queen Leila have a newborn daughter named Aurora (Elle Fanning), Maleficent acts in the name of what she considers poetic justice by cursing the newborn Aurora to fall into a deathlike slumber on her 16th birthday; the spell can be broken only by the kiss of true love, which neither Maleficent nor Stefan believe in. Knotgrass, Thistletwit, and Flittle are assigned to look after Aurora until after her 16th birthday; the pixies prove to be grossly incompetent and negligent, however. In order to ensure that her curse comes to pass, Maleficent cares for and - when required - protects the child from afar. Eventually, as Aurora grows into an industrious and sweet-tempered young woman, Maleficent recognizes the folly of punishing Stefan's daughter for something he alone did. This tender regard for Aurora enables Maleficent to undo the damage which she herself inflicted; after Philip's kiss fails to break the curse (because he's not yet truly in love with Aurora), Maleficent voices her regrets and herself kisses Aurora's brow. Roused from her enchanted sleep, and now fully aware of her father's true nature, Aurora foils his efforts to destroy Maleficent by returning the dark fairy's severed wings. Completely stripped of her bitterness and thirst for vengeance, Maleficent declares an end to her feud with Stefan, but the king, driven by shame too great to bear, attempts to kill her and himself, only to take a fatal fall from his own castle's highest turret.

Following Aurora's ascension over her late parents' domain, Maleficent crowns her to rule the Moors as well, with Diaval and Phillip looking on proudly.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil


Angelina Jolie reprised the role in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, in which Maleficent's relationship with Aurora was tested. Other fairies of her species appeared, led by Conall (Chiwetel Ejiofor). In the course of the film, Prince Philip's mother Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) attempts to provoke a war between the humans and the fairies by creating the impression that Maleficent has cast another curse on the king, forcing Maleficent to flee the kingdom only to be rescued by others of her kind. During this time, Maleficent's species is identified as 'Dark Fey', although Maleficent's powers are unique to her due to her being the latest reincarnation of the powerful Phoenix. The queen nearly destroys the fairies after devising a cloud of red dust that will turn all fairies exposed to it into plants and luring them into a church for Aurora's wedding, but during the Dark Fey's attack on the kingdom, Aurora learns the truth and is able to convince both sides to stand down, Philip appealing to his own soldiers while Aurora confronts Maleficent. After asserting that she still regards Maleficent as her mother, Aurora is knocked off a tower by the queen, but Maleficent is able to save Aurora, ending the conflict when she breaks the curse on the King and turns the Queen into a goat. With peace restored, Maleficent walks Aurora down the aisle for her wedding to Philip, and later assures Aurora that she will return when their first child is born.

Descendants franchise


Kristin Chenoweth played Maleficent in Disney Channel live-action film Descendants (2015), which follows the teenage children of Disney's iconic heroes and villains,[15] including Maleficent's daughter Mal. She is the main antagonist of the film, as well as the leader of the villains who have been imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost. In the prequel novel for the film, The Isle of the Lost, it is mentioned that she and the Evil Queen argued over being the ruler of the place. In the film, she longs to get the Fairy Godmother's magic wand, and combine it with her scepter in order to rule good and evil as she pleases, for which she entrusts her daughter with the task of stealing it. When she accidentally breaches the barrier surrounding the island, she and Maleficent escape from her and obtain the wand, freezing the inhabitants of Auradon on the spot. Mal confronts her mother with the help of her friends to recover the wand, with Maleficent having to transform into a dragon in the confrontation. However, the power that Mal possesses of her thanks to the friendship of her friends, helps her defeat her mother, transforming her into a lizard, and immediately afterwards being locked in a glass cabinet.

In the sequel Descendants 2 (2017), Maleficent continues in her lizard form, and is taken back by Mal to the Isle of the Lost, where she accidentally falls and ends up on the streets of the place. Although she does not appear in Descendants 3 (2019), it is revealed that Mal's father is Hades.

She appears in the animated television special Descendants: The Royal Wedding (2021), still turned into a lizard, where she attends Mal and Ben's wedding.

A teen Maleficent appears in the spin-off film Descendants: The Rise of Red, played by Mars.[16]

Television series


House of Mouse


Maleficent is a recurring character in the animated series House of Mouse, voiced by Lois Nettleton.[17] She has a major role in the episode "Halloween with Hades", where Hades falls in love with her and tries to win her over. She also appeared as one of the villains in the series' direct-to-video film Mickey's House of Villains,[18] where she takes part in the "It's Our House Now" musical number along with the other villains.

Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time character
First appearance"The Thing You Love Most" (Season 1; Episode 2)
Last appearance"Leaving Storybrooke" (Season 7; Episode 22)
Portrayed byKristin Bauer van Straten
In-universe information
TitleQueen of Darkness
AffiliationQueens of Darkness (formerly)
Significant otherZorro
ChildrenLilith Page (daughter)

An alternate version of Maleficent appears in the ABC television series Once Upon a Time, played by Kristin Bauer van Straten.[19][20]

She debuts in a flashback of the first season episode "The Thing You Love Most", where Regina (the Evil Queen) goes in search of her help, being Maleficent shown as a woman with curly blonde hair and wearing a pink dress. She was slain by Emma Swan in dragon form in the first season finale, "A Land Without Magic".

She later returns in an undead form in the second season episode "The Evil Queen", where Hook confronts her.

She acts as one of the main antagonists in the second half of the fourth season, where she is resurrected by Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin), appearing with a look more inspired by the animated version of Disney, and is part of a group known as the Queens of Darkness, along with Ursula and Cruella De Vil, and temporarily the Evil Queen. In dragon form, she mothered Lilith (Nicole Muñoz [teen]/Agnes Bruckner [adult]), and ends up making a deal with the protagonists to find her. In the series finale, it is mentioned in dialogue that Lilith's father was Zorro, whom no one knew could become a dragon.

In the spin-off series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, Robin Hood and his Merry Men infiltrate Maleficent's castle in the episode "Forget Me Not", although she does not make an appearance, only hearing her dragon roar when she discovers that there are intruders.

Video games


Kingdom Hearts series


Maleficent appears as one of the main antagonists in the Kingdom Hearts video game series, voiced by Susanne Blakeslee in the English versions and Toshiko Sawada in the Japanese versions. She seeks to take control of the many worlds and engulf them in darkness, with Pete acting as her second-in-command. She has appeared in nearly every game in the series.

She appears in the first Kingdom Hearts game (2002), as the leader of a group of villains who seek to dominate the worlds thanks to the darkness using the Heartless. She has her base of operations in the Hollow Bastion castle, where she faces the protagonist, Sora, who manages to defeat her.[21]

In Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004), Maleficent fills the same role as a fragment of Sora's memories.

Maleficent is resurrected in Kingdom Hearts II (2005), where with Pete's help she tries to find a new base of operations and assemble a new group of villains.[21]

She and Pete return in Kingdom Hearts Coded (2008), where they are transported into the Datascape to conquer the data worlds.[21]

Maleficent's past is explored in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep (2010), where she appears in her home world, Enchanted Dominion, fulfilling the same role as in Sleeping Beauty.[21]

In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (2012), Maleficent and Pete invade Disney Castle and take Minnie hostage, but they are stopped in the act thanks to Lea.[21]

She appears in Kingdom Hearts Union χ (2017) fulfilling the same role as in Birth by Sleep, as an image of the future events. After her defeat, she meets the Darkness, who tells her about her future.

During Kingdom Hearts III (2019), Maleficent and Pete focus on traveling the worlds in search of the Black Box.[21]

Other games


Maleficent is the final boss in the North American version of the video game Mickey Mousecapade (1987) (replacing Queen of Hearts from the original Japanese version).

Maleficent, sporting her appearance from the 2014 live-action film, is a playable character in the Disney Infinity video games series, being introduced in Disney Infinity 2.0 (2014), and voiced by Rajia Baroudi.[22] As with the other playable characters in the game, a tie-in figure for Maleficent was also released.

Maleficent acts as the main antagonist in the video game Disney Magic Kingdoms (2016), where she casts a curse on the titular Kingdom.[23] She also usually appears in limited time Events known as Tower Challenges, where she takes part in the Boss Battle of the event.[24]

An alternate version of Maleficent appears as a playable character in the video game Disney Mirrorverse.[25]

Theme parks

Maleficent along with Queen of Hearts (left) and Captain Hook (right) during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Maleficent sometimes appears in Disney Parks as a meet-and-greet character.[26] She also appears in attractions and live shows, commonly involved with other Disney Villains, like Fantasmic! (voiced by Linda Gary), Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, or Dream Along with Mickey.

Printed media


In the book series by Ridley Pearson, Kingdom Keepers, Maleficent appears as one of the first Overtakers encountered as she intends to leave the confines of Disney World to take over the world.

Maleficent was featured in the book sequel to Sleeping Beauty called Maleficent's Revenge.

Maleficent is the protagonist in Serena Valentino's Disney Villains franchise book Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy.[27]

The Simpsons shorts


In The Simpsons short Plusaversary (2021), Maleficent (voiced by Tress MacNeille) runs the check-in table to enter at the party in Moe's Tavern, denying access to Homer due to not being listed as part of the guests.[28]

In another The Simpsons short, Welcome to the Club (2022), Maleficent appears along with other Disney Villains trying to convince Lisa Simpson how fun it is to be a villain.[29]

Other appearances


Maleficent appears in her dragon form as a minor antagonist in the Lego animated special Lego Disney Princess: The Castle Quest (2023), being a sidekick of Gaston, but after the princesses notice that her wing is damaged and help restore it, this leads to Maleficent siding with the princesses, and she defeats Gaston to help them.

Maleficent has a cameo appearance in the short film Once Upon a Studio (2023), as part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios characters who gather to take a group photo.[30]



The original version of Maleficent has been called as "one of the most sinister Disney Villains".[31] She is generally described as an "evil, cold hearted fairy who can curse an innocent baby just because she is not invited to the christening ceremony."[32] Guillermo del Toro has stated that along with Vermithrax in Dragonslayer, Maleficent is his favorite cinematic, Disney dragon.[33] Voice actress Eleanor Audley and supervising animator Marc Davis were also praised for their work on the character.[citation needed] In 2016, The Frisky described Maleficent and the Evil Queen as "two of the best-realized female villains in movie history."[34]

Maleficent's live-action version from the film series of the same name has received critical attention, different from its original, animated counterpart. Benjamin Justice describes this version of Maleficent as "a full person, good and evil, powerful and vulnerable, vengeful and loving" and notes that, while she and Aurora value heterosexual relationships and love, neither of them "let the idea of [one true love] define the arc of the personal or public lives."[35] When analyzing Maleficent's disability after she loses her wings due to Stephan's betrayal, Colleen Elaine Donnelly compares her role to that of Elphaba in Wicked, explaining that in both cases, the story "intends to reform the stereotype of the evil witch by providing a backstory."[8]


  1. ^ "Voice(s) of Maleficent". Behind The Voice Actors.
  2. ^ "How Well Do You Know... Sleeping Beauty?". Disney Insider. Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved August 16, 2023.
  3. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1987). The Encyclopedia of Supervillains. New York: Facts on File. pp. 252–254. ISBN 0-8160-1356-X.
  4. ^ "Audley, Eleanor - D23". d23.com. September 6, 2015.
  5. ^ Grant, John (1998). Encyclopedia of Walt Disney's Animated Characters (2nd ed.). Hyperion. pp. 263–264. ISBN 978-0786863365.
  6. ^ Good Morning America [@GMA] (March 6, 2019). ""Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," the sequel to Disney's "Maleficent," will be released nationwide October 18, 2019. gma.abc/2HNA1Wz Take a look at the new teaser poster!" (Tweet). Retrieved March 6, 2019 – via Twitter.
  7. ^ "Dictionary.com". 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Donnelly, Colleen Elaine (December 26, 2016). "Re-visioning Negative Archetypes of Disability and Deformity in Fantasy: Wicked, Maleficent, and Game of Thrones". Disability Studies Quarterly. 36 (4). doi:10.18061/dsq.v36i4.5313. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Elizabeth Bell (1995). Somatexts at the Disney Shop. ISBN 0253209781.
  10. ^ "Animating Old Legend". Life. Vol. 45, no. 25. December 22, 1958. p. 157. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved December 16, 2020 – via Google Books.
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  12. ^ "Lady Tremaine and Stepsisters Character History". Disney.go.com. Archived from the original on August 6, 2003. Retrieved December 16, 2020.
  13. ^ R.H. Greene (15 February 2014). "The real Maleficent: The surprising human face behind the "Sleeping Beauty" villain". Salon.
  14. ^ Panych, Sofia (May 16, 2014). "Allure Exclusive: The Scoop on Angelina Jolie's Makeup in Maleficent". Allure. Retrieved April 7, 2023.
  15. ^ Kristin Chenoweth to play Maleficent in Disney's original movie 'Descendants' Entertainment Weekly, Retrieved May 5, 2014
  16. ^ Denise Petski (February 15, 2023). "'The Pocketwatch' Casts Teen Versions Of Maleficent, Aladdin, Jasmine, Prince Charming & More; Sam Morelos Among New Additions To 'The Descendants' Offshoot". Deadline.
  17. ^ "House of Mouse". IMDb. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
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  24. ^ Disney Magic Kingdoms (Gameloft) (April 25, 2018). "Update 20: Bambi | Livestream". YouTube.
  25. ^ "Maleficent - Disney Mirrorverse". Kabam.
  26. ^ "Character Central | Maleficent". charactercentral.net. January 16, 2011.
  27. ^ Reif, Alex (December 28, 2017). "Book Review – "Mistress of All Evil: A Tale of the Dark Fairy"". LaughingPlace.com. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  28. ^ Celestino, Mike (2021-11-12). "TV Review: "The Simpsons in Plusaversary" Pays Irreverent Homage to the House of Mouse On Disney+ Day". LaughingPlace.com. Retrieved 2022-06-02.
  29. ^ Reif, Alex (2022-09-08). "TV Recap: "The Simpsons: Welcome to the Club" Brings Disney Villains to Springfield". LaughingPlace.com. Retrieved 2022-09-09.
  30. ^ Reif, Alex (October 16, 2023). "Disney's "Once Upon a Studio" – List of Characters in Order of Appearance". Laughing Place.
  31. ^ "Sleeping Beauty (1959)" Archived 2012-06-26 at the Wayback Machine. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
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  33. ^ "An Unexpected Party Chat transcript now available! from Weta Holics" (PDF). WetaNZ.com. Archived from the original on December 31, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2017.
  34. ^ The Frisky (January 29, 2016). "Linguists Have Nailed The Exact Problem With Disney's Princess Movies". The Frisky. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
  35. ^ Justice, Benjamin (September 1, 2014). "Maleficent Reborn: Disney's Fairytale View of Gender Reaches Puberty". Social Education. 78 (4): 194–198. Retrieved August 29, 2019.