- “Why you hairy little thief...”
- ―Aladdin to Abu
As mentioned above, Abu is Aladdin's pet monkey, who is obsessed with shiny items, due to his occupation as a thief, in addition to being a kleptomaniac.
In the episode of the Aladdin television series, "Seems Like Old Crimes", it is revealed that, long before the events of the first film, Abu originally worked for a traveling circus of thieves, consisting of himself, a duo named Minos and Fatima, and Aziz. Abu served as the group's pickpocket, and actually met Aladdin after making an attempt to steal his money. After an adventure together, the two eventually became friends.
Unlike Aladdin, who steals to survive, Abu is a talented kleptomaniac, with unshakable urges to steal whatever catches his interests, be it riches, food, or anything else. This can land him into quite a bit of trouble, and appears to even frustrate Aladdin from time to time. Abu can also be quite selfish in this regard, as he takes more than he needs. Nevertheless, the monkey has redeemable qualities, and at his core is a soft heart. When he and Aladdin noticed two starving children, Abu initially showed disgust towards the idea of donating his food, but he came around fairly quickly, being both influenced by Aladdin's kindness and his own sense of morality.
Despite his antagonistic traits, Abu is amongst Aladdin's most loyal and loving companions. The two share mutual admiration for one another, and so much so on Abu's part that the monkey can become rather jealous when Aladdin's attention is given to someone else, as seen when he and the street-rat first met the beautiful Princess Jasmine. For the sake of Aladdin's happiness, however, Abu is willing to put up with quite a bit of nonsense, such as being turned into an elephant to disguise himself as Aladdin's extravagant mode of transportation in hopes of winning over Jasmine and her father, the Sultan.
In the television series, Abu is often paired with the far more antagonistic and greedy Iago, whose over-the-top actions often result in Abu being forced to act as a "voice of reason", a trait not seen in the original film. This indicates Abu's ability to grow and mature. Even so, Abu has had occasional instances of slipping back into his thieving tendencies, which was the center of the episode "To Cure a Thief".
Abu acts as pet, sidekick, and best friend to Aladdin. Rather than being a genuine 'character', he is used as somebody for Aladdin to voice current thoughts, or sometimes to help him out of trouble - or sometimes to get him into trouble.
He makes his initial entrance while helping Aladdin escape from the Palace Guards after stealing bread. Unfortunately, he is attracted to a stall selling jewelery and has to be dragged away. Later in the bazaar, he helps Aladdin to steal a melon for breakfast, and when Aladdin meets Jasmine, he is almost caught picking a pocket. He also steals some apples. He doesn't really appreciate Aladdin's attraction to Jasmine, thinking it will spoil their friendship.
When Aladdin is imprisoned in the palace dungeons, Abu, who had not been captured, arrives and picks the locks of Aladdin's chains.
In the Cave of Wonders, Abu wakes up the Carpet. He is attracted to the many fantastic jewels and finally grabs a huge ruby out of a monkey idol's paws, initiating the destruction of the cave. When Jafar is about to stab Aladdin, he bites him on the arm, stealing the magic lamp in the process, but is thrown into the cave with Aladdin.
When Aladdin awakens the Genie, Abu is seen to be a tool for a mode of transportation, and goes through many changes before Genie decides on turning him into an Indian elephant (with a remarkably long monkey's tail). Abu is changed back into a monkey by Jafar, who then imprisons him, Aladdin and the Carpet into a tower and sends them to the ends of the earth.
After Aladdin, Abu and the Carpet returns to Agrabah to stop Jafar, Abu helps out by pinning and knocking out Iago, keeping him from alerting Jafar to Aladdin's return. Abu is transformed into a cymbal-banging monkey toy by Jafar when he tries to steal the lamp, but is restored once Jafar is imprisoned in his lamp after becoming a genie.
Abu and Aladdin enter a secret lair where they battle Abis Mal and his gang and rescue a collection of jewels and a jeweled flower that they had attempted to steal. On the way back to Agrabah, they give the riches to poor folk in Agrabah and the jeweled flower to Jasmine, something Abu isn't too happy about but eases up when he realizes Aladdin and Jasmine's strong relationship. Abu and Aladdin go out the palace on a stroll and find Iago. Like Aladdin, Abu is very suspicious about the parrot and regrets taking him in even after he saves their lives from Abis Mal and his gang.
Later on after Genie returns from his world tour, Abu is given the job to guard Iago while Aladdin tries to explain his presence to Jasmine and the Sultan. While watching him, Iago pleads for freedom making rude monkey impersonations. Wanting to have a little fun with Iago, Abu opens the cage while Rajah is near as a way to scare him. However, the joke backfires as Rajah then destroys the cage and chases Iago into the palace, accidentally ruining the palace dinner and exposing Iago to the royals. Aladdin is ordered to watch Iago by the Sultan. That night, Aladdin and Jasmine settle their differences on Iago. The next morning Aladdin and the Sultan go for a ride on Carpet while Genie and Abu enjoy a picnic.
During the picnic, Abu spots a spider which soon leads to dozens of spiders. The spiders come together and form the revenge-seeking Jafar. Abu and Genie are tormented until finally being placed in captivity. The group is rescued by Iago and they set off to battle Jafar. At this time Iago is nearly killed and after defeating Jafar is thought to be dead. He proves himself alive and Abu finally accepts Iago as a friend.
Abu makes regular appearances in this television series, often paired with Iago. Although he is still a casual thief, he has shown definite signs of a conscience. Aladdin and Abu are shown to still have a strong friendship, but Aladdin sometimes becomes rather annoyed at Abu's thievery. Where on one occasion when Abu stole a golden gauntlet from the royal treasury and accidentally made Aladdin look like the thief, Aladdin became so mad that Abu was particularly heartbroken when he thought Aladdin wanted him to leave forever because of it. However, whatever troubles they are in, they always work it out and they become more closer than ever.
Through nearly all adventures, Abu is constantly paired up with Iago. Together, they often leave the mission to search and/or steal treasure from a nearby area. They are sometimes the cause of trouble. An example of this is in the episode "Smolder and Wiser" where Aladdin attempts to take a powerful weapon from Abis Mal, only to be discovered after Abu and Iago tried to steal a bag of gold, causing said gold to fall out, thus causing noise.
An important part of Abu's role is the fact that he has a pick that unlocks any lock which is handy when Aladdin and the group are being held captive in an area.
In the final installment of the Aladdin film series, Abu plays a fairly minor role compared to the previous films, providing very little to the plot. Like the rest of the characters, Abu is excited to finally see the day his best friend and Jasmine wed. Underneath all the joy, Aladdin is anxious and nervous being that he never had a father figure and Abu feels for his friend. When they discover his father is alive, Abu joins Aladdin, Carpet and Iago to see him. As soon as they arrive, Abu is captured and held hostage. In order to be freed, Aladdin must defeat one of the many thieves. He does successfully and meets his father Cassim.
Later on after the thieves betray Cassim, Abu joins the group in the rescue and after attends the wedding. He stays back at the palace with Genie, Carpet and the Sultan while Iago goes off adventuring with Cassim and Aladdin and Jasmine enjoy their honeymoon. According to Iago, Abu cried when the former bid his farewells to his friends in the palace, which in turn, made Iago emotional.
In the animated special, "Hercules and the Arabian Night", Jafar teams up with the Lord of the Underworld, Hades, in hopes of combining their power to eliminate Aladdin and the young Demi-God, Hercules. To do so, Hades sends his goons, Pain and Panic, to kidnap Abu, whilst Jafar kidnaps Hercules' companion, Icarus. The two are held captive in the Underworld, but eventually, both Aladdin and Hercules catch on, and the two rush to rescue their friends. By the end of the adventure, Abu and Icarus become fine acquaintances.
Here, Abu, Iago and Carpet stayed in Agrabah with Jasmine while Aladdin and Genie went away for a few days. Abu and Iago tend to hang out at the horses' stable. One morning the Sultan's prized horse Sahara mysteriously escaped the stable. It was unknown how and the possible outcome could be that the horse-keeper loses his job. Jasmine tries to learn what happened before he does and during the investigation, she finds a fig.
Figs are Abu's favorite snack and she and Iago begin to question him. Abu hesitates at first but soon reveals what happens. He ate one of the figs and became sick from it. He began to feel dizzy and fell from the horse gate. His tail was holding onto the lock and as he fell, he unleashed the lock letting Sahara out. Abu, Iago and Jasmine search the desert and finally finds an oasis. At the oasis is the horse and Jasmine's only way of getting it back is by riding back. Iago reminds her all the people who ever tried to ride him were killed by the horse itself and the only person to successfully ride it was Jasmine's mother.
Though the thought of losing Jasmine worries Abu, the princess calms him down, eventually rides the horse home, and all is well again.
Abu makes several appearances in the series House of Mouse. Abu is usually seen with Iago, Genie or Jafar. Abu's most notable role in the series in which in the episode "Gone Goofy" where Iago tells him to taste The Queen's Poisoned Apple.
Video Game Appearances
In the Sega Genesis adaptation of Aladdin by Virgin Interactive, Abu has a mini-game which involves catching apples; this is reached by finding the Abu token which appears in three levels of the game. He is also referenced in that in the Cave of Wonders level, Aladdin must touch Monkey Idols identical to the one Abu touched to continue to the next level.
In the Super NES version by Capcom, Abu follows Aladdin throughout the early levels of the game. Notably, the game includes a pyramid level which Abu wanders into, so Aladdin has to find him in there. He finds Abu in the treasure room at the end of the level.
Along with many other characters from the film, Abu appears in a few installments of the Kingdom Hearts franchise. In the original game, Abu makes a minor appearance in Agrabah by Aladdin's side. He does, however, assist Sora and the others when they journey into the Cave of Wonders.
Abu's role is expanded in Kingdom Hearts II, where Jafar's lamp is uncovered by a cheap peddler. Abu steals it from him to prevent Jafar's freedom, but Aladdin returns it, not realizing it was Jafar's lamp until a newly reformed Iago tells him otherwise. The friends then head to the peddler's shop to retrieve it, but are forced to journey into the Cave of Wonders to find vast treasure in exchange for the lamp. Aladdin, Abu, and the others do so, but by time they return, the lamp is stolen by Pete. After Pete's defeat and Jafar is sealed away, Abu and the others welcome Iago into the palace.
Abu appears once again in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, where he was causing mischief in the marketplace, causing him to soon be scolded by Aladdin.
An unlocked costume of Abu is featured as a playable character in the game.
Abu is seen in Disney Infinity as rare power disc. He is a mount, due to the fact that he's in the Elephant form.
Abu makes occasional appearances at the Disney theme parks as a live character.
In It's a Small World, Abu makes a cameo appearance as a puppet with Aladdin in the classic ride
Abu can also be seen in the Aladdin Enchanted Window display on Main Street, U.S.A..
In France, Abu can sometimes be found in Adventureland for meet-and-greet sessions.
During the 2016 "Year of the Monkey" for the Luner New Year, Abu was highly utilized in the park as the representation of the year's zodiac animal.
- "Abu" means "Father" and also it is a epithet for men in Arabic.
- Abu is Ancient Egyptian for elephant. In the first movie he gets turned into an elephant. He is turned into an elephant again in the episode "Web of Fear."
- In "Dune Quixote" Abu is turned into a horse and a mule.
- Abu has oddly enough for a monkey four fingers and toes.
- The producers studied movements of Capuchin monkeys for Abu. Frank Welker also spent some time listening to them to get Abu's voice right.
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