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10 Disney Sidekicks That Got the Axe

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Though the heroes, heroines, princes, and princesses tend to run the show over at Disney, many of your favorite animated characters would be nothing without their sidekicks. Without the dwarfs, Snow White never would have made it out of the woods. Aladdin would have perished in the Cave of Wonders with no Carpet and no Genie. And Belle would have likely starved to death if household items hadn’t started singing to her.

Choosing a sidekick is tricky business, though—there are a number of reasons why a sidekick could end up on the cutting room floor instead of helping to save the day. Here are 10 that didn't quite make the cut.

1. Red Feather, a wild turkey from Pocahontas

John Candy was slated to voice this woodland fowl; it’s rumored that he even recorded some lines. The artists working on the movie were having trouble matching the serious nature of the film with the silly talking turkey, though, and in the midst of figuring it out, Candy passed away. The decision was made to make all of the sidekick characters non-speaking. Somewhere in this process, Red Feather was scrapped for Meeko the raccoon and Flit the hummingbird.

This is what Red Feather would have looked like:

2. Mheetu, Nala’s little brother in The Lion King

An alternative draft of The Lion King showed a lot more of the happenings in the Pride Lands while Simba was out Hakuna Matataing with Timon and Pumbaa. During this time, Nala would be shown protecting her little brother, Mheetu, from the evil Scar. Mheetu, along with another sidekick named Bhati the bat-eared fox, were eventually scrapped.

3. Music Box, Beauty and the Beast

Before Chip Cup stole the show, a little music box was supposed to be the infantilized household object that made you go, “Awwww.” When voice actor Michael Bradley Pierce ended up stealing the show as Chip, however, the music box part was scaled way back and Pierce’s role was increased. The music box can still be spotted in a few scenes, probably hoping Chip Cup will take a tumble off of the table.

4. Senorita Cactus in Toy Story 2

This one may be hard to believe, but at one point, instead of Jessie the Cowgirl, the female lead in Toy Story 2 was “Senorita Cactus.” The prickly plant was apparently supposed to sway Woody into joining the Woody’s Round-Up gang by using her feminine wiles. That could have turned out very badly for ol’ Woody.

5. Breaker the Dolphin in The Little Mermaid

Although a dolphin pal probably would have been way more useful for Ariel, her original dolphin sidekick named Breaker was eventually replaced by the sweet-but-slow Flounder. Breaker wasn’t trashed entirely, though—some of his enthusiastic personality traits were transplanted into Ariel.

6. Four more fairies in Sleeping Beauty

Just like Perrault’s original fairy tale, early versions of Sleeping Beauty included seven good fairies instead of the three you see in the film. Perhaps worried about comparisons to Snow White and her seven buddies, or maybe just aware that seven fairies would take up a lot of space and screen time, the concept was eventually pared down to three core fairies.

7. A regent in Frozen

OK, this one is not a sidekick, exactly, but it’s still fun to imagine what might have been. Ever wonder exactly how Arendelle was being run in the years between the death of the King and Queen and Elsa’s coronation? Scriptwriters had that covered, at one point—it was a regent to be voiced by Louis C.K. “I wanted him so badly in the film. I just wanted him in the film,” co-director Jennifer Lee said. “But the first act is so heavy, it’s still heavy. There’s so much in it.” To make the first part of the movie move a little faster, the role was cut.

8. Rocky the Rhino in The Jungle Book

Described as “a Mr. Magoo of a rhinoceros,” Rocky the Rhino was supposed to be a dim-witted, bumbling, near-blind character. His scenes were completely storyboarded before Walt gave him the boot, deciding that there were too many action sequences in a row.

You see Rocky’s big scene below, as well as a Beatles-inspired version of “That’s What Friends are For,” the song the vultures sing.

9. Hubert the dog in Lady and the Tramp

Instead of reliable neighbor dogs Jock and Trusty, Lady was originally supposed to have just one friend in the neighborhood: a mutt named Hubert who would have a Ralph Bellamy-like personality.

10. A Laurel and Hardy-like chipmunk and squirrel in Bambi

Though Walt liked the “screwball attitude” of the characters, the pair didn't make the final film, presumably because their antics just didn’t match the tone of the movie. Some of the original gags storyboarded by Carl Barks and Chuck Couch still survive.

Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
A Chinese Museum Is Offering Cash to Whoever Can Decipher These 3000-Year-Old Inscriptions

During the 19th century, farmers in China’s Henan Province began discovering oracle bones—engraved ox scapulae and tortoise shells used by Shang Dynasty leaders for record-keeping and divination purposes—while plowing their fields. More bones were excavated in subsequent years, and their inscriptions were revealed to be the earliest known form of systematic writing in East Asia. But over the decades, scholars still haven’t come close to cracking half of the mysterious script’s roughly 5000 characters—which is why one Chinese museum is asking member of the public for help, in exchange for a generous cash reward.

As Atlas Obscura reports, the National Museum of Chinese Writing in Anyang, Henan Province has offered to pay citizen researchers about $15,000 for each unknown character translated, and $7500 if they provide a disputed character’s definitive meaning. Submissions must be supported with evidence, and reviewed by at least two language specialists.

The museum began farming out their oracle bone translation efforts in Fall 2016. The costly ongoing project has hit a stalemate, and scholars hope that the public’s collective smarts—combined with new advances in technology, including cloud computing and big data—will yield new information and save them research money.

As of today, more than 200,000 oracle bones have been discovered—around 50,000 of which bear text—so scholars still have a lot to learn about the Shang Dynasty. Many of the ancient script's characters are difficult to verify, as they represent places and people from long ago. However, decoding even just one character could lead to a substantial breakthrough, experts say: "If we interpret a noun or a verb, it can bring many scripts on oracle bones to life, and we can understand ancient history better,” Chinese history professor Zhu Yanmin told the South China Morning Post.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

6 Eponyms Named After the Wrong Person
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Salmonella species growing on agar.

Having something named after you is the ultimate accomplishment for any inventor, mathematician, scientist, or researcher. Unfortunately, the credit for an invention or discovery does not always go to the correct person—senior colleagues sometimes snatch the glory, fakers pull the wool over people's eyes, or the fickle general public just latches onto the wrong name.


In 1885, while investigating common livestock diseases at the Bureau of Animal Industry in Washington, D.C., pathologist Theobald Smith first isolated the salmonella bacteria in pigs suffering from hog cholera. Smith’s research finally identified the bacteria responsible for one of the most common causes of food poisoning in humans. Unfortunately, Smith’s limelight-grabbing supervisor, Daniel E. Salmon, insisted on taking sole credit for the discovery. As a result, the bacteria was named after him. Don’t feel too sorry for Theobald Smith, though: He soon emerged from Salmon’s shadow, going on to make the important discovery that ticks could be a vector in the spread of disease, among other achievements.


An etching of Amerigo Vespucci
Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci (1451–1512) claimed to have made numerous voyages to the New World, the first in 1497, before Columbus. Textual evidence suggests Vespucci did take part in a number of expeditions across the Atlantic, but generally does not support the idea that he set eyes on the New World before Columbus. Nevertheless, Vespucci’s accounts of his voyages—which today read as far-fetched—were hugely popular and translated into many languages. As a result, when German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller was drawing his map of the Novus Mundi (or New World) in 1507 he marked it with the name "America" in Vespucci’s honor. He later regretted the choice, omitting the name from future maps, but it was too late, and the name stuck.


A black and white image of young women wearing bloomers
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Dress reform became a big issue in mid-19th century America, when women were restricted by long, heavy skirts that dragged in the mud and made any sort of physical activity difficult. Women’s rights activist Elizabeth Smith Miller was inspired by traditional Turkish dress to begin wearing loose trousers gathered at the ankle underneath a shorter skirt. Miller’s new outfit immediately caused a splash, with some decrying it as scandalous and others inspired to adopt the garb.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer was editor of the women’s temperance journal The Lily, and she took to copying Miller’s style of dress. She was so impressed with the new freedom it gave her that she began promoting the “reform dress” in her magazine, printing patterns so others might make their own. Bloomer sported the dress when she spoke at events and soon the press began to associate the outfit with her, dubbing it “Bloomer’s costume.” The name stuck.


Execution machines had been known prior to the French Revolution, but they were refined after Paris physician and politician Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin suggested they might be a more humane form of execution than the usual methods (hanging, burning alive, etc.). The first guillotine was actually designed by Dr. Antoine Louis, Secretary of the Academy of Surgery, and was known as a louisette. The quick and efficient machine was quickly adopted as the main method of execution in revolutionary France, and as the bodies piled up the public began to refer to it as la guillotine, for the man who first suggested its use. Guillotin was very distressed at the association, and when he died in 1814 his family asked the French government to change the name of the hated machine. The government refused and so the family changed their name instead to escape the dreadful association.


Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel
Steve Jennings/Getty Images

The Bechdel Test is a tool to highlight gender inequality in film, television, and fiction. The idea is that in order to pass the test, the movie, show, or book in question must include at least one scene in which two women have a conversation that isn’t about a man. The test was popularized by the cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985 in her comic strip “Dykes to Watch Out For,” and has since become known by her name. However, Bechdel asserts that the idea originated with her friend Lisa Wallace (and was also inspired by the writer Virginia Woolf), and she would prefer for it to be known as the Bechdel-Wallace test.


Influential sociologist Robert K. Merton suggested the idea of the “Matthew Effect” in a 1968 paper noting that senior colleagues who are already famous tend to get the credit for their junior colleagues’ discoveries. (Merton named his phenomenon [PDF] after the parable of talents in the Gospel of Matthew, in which wise servants invest money their master has given them.)

Merton was a well-respected academic, and when he was due to retire in 1979, a book of essays celebrating his work was proposed. One person who contributed an essay was University of Chicago professor of statistics Stephen Stigler, who had corresponded with Merton about his ideas. Stigler decided to pen an essay that celebrated and proved Merton’s theory. As a result, he took Merton’s idea and created Stigler’s Law of Eponymy, which states that “No scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer”—the joke being that Stigler himself was taking Merton’s own theory and naming it after himself. To further prove the rule, the “new” law has been adopted by the academic community, and a number of papers and articles have since been written on "Stigler’s Law."


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