- “You poor, simple fools; thinking you could defeat me! ME! The mistress of all evil!”
- ―Maleficent to the Three Good Fairies
Maleficent is an incarnation of pure evil, responsible for all misfortune in King Stefan's kingdom. She takes offense at not being invited to the christening of Princess Aurora and attempts revenge on King Stefan and the Queen by cursing Aurora. She appears to be particularly disdainful of the three good fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, her polar opposites, who do all in their power to keep Maleficent's overwhelming evil magic at bay.
With her dark, elegant design, dramatic and flamboyant animation and unlimited arsenal of magic powers at her command, Maleficent is one of the most popular and recognizable Disney Villains, in addition to being one of the primary members of the official franchise.
The style for Sleeping Beauty was based on the art of Eyvind Earle, who claimed to have a 'Pre-Renaissance' style, with strong vertical lines and gothic elegance. Earle was involved with the design of all the characters and designed and painted most of the backgrounds in the film. Though early sketches depict a hag-like witch, it was decided that Maleficent's final, elegant design suited Earle's backgrounds. Davis' decision to make Maleficent a powerful fairy rather than an old crone may also have been influenced by Eleanor Audley's voice, which he recalled suggested a very powerful character.
The design for Maleficent's clothes occurred to Davis when he was looking through a book on Medieval art; one of the manuscript images featured a religious figure with long robes, the ends of which resembled flames. Davis incorporated this into Maleficent's final design. He based the sides of her headdress on the wings of a bat, and the top of her headdress on the horns of the devil.
After Eleanor Audley's vocal and live-action performances for Lady Tremaine, Walt Disney personally suggested that she be considered for the voice and live-action reference for Maleficent. Davis praised Eleanor Audley's live-action performance for the character, claiming that she created many of Maleficent's expressions and mannerisms that were ultimately used in the animation. The animators were more limited with how their characters could move against the detailed backgrounds. The manner in which Maleficent moved, perhaps limited by her costume, later inspired Andreas Deja to take a similar route when animating Jafar for Aladdin.
Maleficent in the original film represents true evil. She is ruthless, dark and devious and will do whatever it takes to achieve her evil goals. Additionally, she is very sinister, which is shown when she taunts Prince Phillip after she captures him. Her most famous quote ("You poor simple fools, thinking you could defeat me. ME!? the mistress of all evil?") indicates that she thinks herself above everyone, even calling her closest allies "her pets". Other than herself, the only entity that she seems to have a genuine care for is her pet raven, Diablo. This is especially evident in her horror at Diablo being turned to stone. Maleficent also seems to have some emotional instability. This is especially evident in her reaction to the discovery that her goons spent the previous 16 years looking for a baby, where she pitched a nearly a truly evil laughing fit before reacting violently towards her goons.
Maleficent, on top of her deviousness, is very misleading in her personality. But, underneath the mask of stoicism, Maleficent unleashes the full brunt of her wrath with a smile, which shows how she relishes in the pain of others. This is displayed during her first appearance during Aurora's birthday ceremony. When Merryweather states bluntly, "You weren't wanted," Maleficent pretends to be shocked and hurt, remarking, "In that event, I'd best be on my way." But then she turned around and cast a curse upon Aurora, cackling while taking in the sweet revenge she had attained.
Maleficent is soft spoken, proper, and elegant, and has two possible motivations for her crimes, either out of pride, considering she curses Aurora because Stefan didn't invite her to the christening, or she is simply a monster who enjoys being evil. The latter is further suggested by her admitting that she's not offended at all by them not inviting her.
In her own movie, Maleficent is much more complex and her backstory is explored. Rather than a woman who is evil just for the sake of being evil, Maleficent suffers a devastating betrayal from the man she really loved and cared about the most, resulting in the loss of her own fairy wings. She grows bitter and hateful of King Stefan and the world in general. Due to her hatred of Stefan, she vents her anger on his infant daughter, cursing her to be killed by a spinning wheel on her sixteenth birthday. She also develops a certain amount of sadism telling Stefan that she enjoys watching him beg. However, Maleficent is also very lonely and hurt inside, resulting in her rescuing Diaval, more because she needs a companion than out of pity.
Maleficent also appears to be a perfectionist; due to the incompetence of Aurora's three fairy guardians, Maleficent has plenty of opportunities to kill Aurora, or just watch her die in an accident, but she makes sure Aurora stays alive until her sixteenth birthday, so that her revenge will happen in exactly the way she planned. Maleficent's desire for the perfect revenge gives her time to connect with Aurora in a way that she never anticipates; she grows to care for her like a daughter and tries to cancel the curse, eventually succeeding when she kisses Aurora's forehead. Originally Maleficent seems somewhat disgusted by Aurora, thinking that as a baby she was "ugly" and frequently referring to her as "Beastie". However, by the time she wakes Aurora from her enchanted sleep, this degrading name has become a term of affection rather than revulsion.
Maleficent is originally somewhat abusive to Diaval, often transforming him into various different forms without permission. However, she does value him for his loyalty and usefulness. She grows to care about Diaval and willingly gives him the opportunity to leave her for his own safety before infiltrating Stefan's castle.
Maleficent is very protective of her home and later Aurora and Diaval. Although she is generally very pessimistic, believing that there is no such thing as "true love", Maleficent clings desperately to the faint hope that Phillip might be able to awaken Aurora with a kiss. When the kiss fails, as Maleficent fully expected it to, she is still distraught. She thinks Aurora is beyond saving and is astonished, relieved and joyful when her own kiss wakes her.
Maleficent appears in the form of a tall, slender, beautiful, pale green-skinned (although some appearances of her depict her with gray skin) woman with a narrow face and a prominent chin. She also has yellow eyes and black horns (it is unknown if those are her horns or a headdress), which is symbolic of her dark magic. She is clad in a black-and-purple robe with bat wing-like edges, underneath her robe, she wears a dress with the same color pallet but with some red instead of purple, and wears a gold ring with a large mysterious circular black stone in it. Both the horned headdress and bat wing-like robe represent and foreshadow her dragon form.
Maleficent is an evil sorceress, unlike the other three fairy godmothers in the movie and her evil enables her to perform many magical and powerful spells. She carries a staff with a glowing green orb at the tip through which she casts her spells. She is also capable of shape shifting at will into numerous forms, including a floating hypnotic light resembling a will-o'-the-wisp and a massive, monstrous black-and-purple dragon. She is also frequently accompanied by Diablo, perched on her shoulder. She seems to have a minor quirk in regards to holding light objects, as she seems to extend her pinkie when holding a torch in the forward direction, as evidenced during her capture of Prince Phillip.
Powers and Abilities
- “Now shall you deal with me, O Prince, and all the powers of HELL!”
- ―Maleficent to Phillip
Maleficent is one of the most powerful villains in Disney history. She describes her own skills as "all the powers of hell". Her powers are magic-based, and it is also implied during the christening ceremony that her magic was far more powerful than even that of the Three Good Fairies, at least individually, as they admitted they could not remove Maleficent's curse from Aurora and instead Merryweather ended up placing a protective charm that allowed her to only fall into a coma to counter the full effects of the curse. Using her staff she can conjure up her spells, for example, lightning projection, divination, and teleportation. Merryweather also implied that she was capable of summoning frost storms. She can even cast powerful dark magic spells like her forest of thorns. She was also capable of flying by conjuring energy from her staff in a similar manner to a galaxy or a helicopter rotor. This was presumably used as an act of desperation, given the events that had her use it. One of her most powerful abilities is to transform into a massive fire breathing dragon, with the flame blasts being strong enough to effortlessly knock away Phillip's Shield of Virtue. She also possessed some degree of divination and telepathy, as demonstrated when she was taunting Prince Phillip near the end of the film with the revelation that Briar Rose and Princess Aurora were one and the same. In the storybook sequel, she also was capable of petrifying people, which she demonstrated on Aurora's kingdom, including Phillip, her husband, shortly after her revival, and also attempted to do so on Aurora at the latter's request to save the kingdom, although her protection charm by the three good fairies prevented this from happening.
At the christening of the newly born Princess Aurora, the Three Good Fairies come to bestow three gifts on the child: Flora's gift is Beauty, and Fauna's is Song. Before Merryweather has a chance to give the child a gift, Maleficent appears with Diablo, perched on her staff. Angry at not receiving an invitation, she curses the child, decreeing that before the sun sets on Aurora's sixteenth birthday, the child shall die by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. Before the guards can react, she disappears, cackling and taking Diablo with her. Merryweather, unable to undo the entire curse herself, is able to alter it so that Aurora will not die, but merely enter a deep sleep that can only be broken with true love's kiss.
As Aurora's sixteenth birthday draws near, Maleficent punishes her Goons, who have stupidly been searching for a baby for sixteen years to find the princess. After angrily calling the goons idiots and imbeciles and intimidating them into running away by conjuring dark lightning bolts with her staff, she sends her raven Diablo to search for the princess. After managing to find the hiding location of Aurora and the fairies, Diablo flies back to Maleficent to inform her of Aurora's whereabouts. With this new knowledge, Maleficent plans her next move.
When the three fairies return the princess to the castle late that afternoon and leaves her alone for a while, Maleficent finds Aurora and, as a hypnotic apparition resembling a will-o-the-wisp, lures her up a secret stairway in the castle atop a high tower to a spinning wheel conjured by Maleficent. Maleficent orders Aurora to touch the spindle; she does, pricking her finger in the process, and subsequently falls to the floor, motionless. The fairies, who have been frantically trying to stop Aurora, arrive to find Maleficent, who briefly mocks them of their efforts to stop her. She then uncovers the fallen princess before their eyes and vanishes. She then recruits her goons, and they go to the cottage to wait for Prince Phillip, who have previously arranged to meet Aurora (whom he only knew to be as a peasant girl). Upon his arrival, they immediately capture him and take him to Maleficent's domain, the Forbidden Mountain. Only the prince's hat has been left behind at the cottage when the fairies arrive, allowing them to deduce that Maleficent has captured Phillip and imprisoned him at the Forbidden Mountain.
At the Forbidden Mountain, Maleficent visits the imprisoned Phillip in the dungeon. She taunts him with the knowledge that Briar Rose is actually Princess Aurora, who is currently in ageless sleep in the topmost tower of King Stephen's castle, and how Phillip will be free to exit Maleficent's domain a hundred years later to wake Aurora with love's first kiss, making Phillip struggle against his chains. She then leaves Phillip locked in the dungeon and states to herself that she will sleep well herself, for the first time in 16 years, as she heads up to her tower to sleep. Flora, Fauna and Merryweather melt the dungeon lock, cuts the chains that are restraining Phillip and arm him with the Shield of Virtue and the Sword of Truth. As they make their escape, they are confronted by Diablo, who fetches the Goons. As the prince and fairies dodge the Goons and make their escape, Diablo flies to warn Maleficent of Phillip's escape, with Merryweather in pursuit. Diablo reaches outside Maleficent's tower, where Merryweather finally turns the raven into a statue.
Awakened by Diablo's constant cawing, Maleficent emerges from her tower and, enraged at the sight of Diablo now a statue and that of Phillip escaping, she attempts to strike him down with lightning. As he continues, she summons a forest of thorns to surround Stefan's castle. When she sees that Phillip, with help from the Good Fairies, has managed to hack through the thorns, she appears before him, blocks his entry and transforms into an enormous terrifying dragon.
Phillip charges at the dragon, who drives him backward with her blasts of flame. As Phillip retreats, Maleficent chases him up onto a high cliff and corners him at the ledge. With another powerful flame blast, she blows his shield off. As she is about to burst out laughing and to finish the now defenseless Phillip off, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather magically empower the Sword of Truth, and Phillip immediately throws the sword at the dragon's heart. Maleficent screams in pain and collapses onto the ledge, attempting to devour Phillip for the last time, but he dodges. Her enormous weight, upon impact, causes the ledge to crumble, sending Maleficent tumbling down from to her demise below. Phillip looks down to see what remains of Maleficent to see nothing more than her shredded cloak on the ground, plus the Sword of Truth, still embedded in the cloak, turning black.
Maleficent made frequent cameos as one of the guests on House of Mouse. Notably, one episode, "Halloween With Hades", centered on Hades trying to woo her. Maleficent initially rejects Hades, so Mickey tries to help him by teaching Hades how to be good. The technique fails and Hades becomes so mad he tries to kill the mouse. Maleficent likes the evil in Hades and agrees to go out with him. Later in the episode, they're seen dining together. However, her later appearances suggest that she broke up with him some time afterward.
Maleficent has been approached by other villains who have tried to win her over, and in return, she rejects them by zapping them with a wave of her staff. Captain Hook tried to charm her, only to be zapped away leaving behind his hook. Jafar also tried to woo her while they sat together, only to end up being literally burnt.
Other animated productions
A dragon resembling Maleficent's dragon form made a brief cameo in the Timon & Pumbaa episode "Guatemala Malarkey" in a pit of fire as one of the cursed temple's booby traps. Her dragon form also appeared in The Little Mermaid series episode "Heroes" as a sea dragon.
Maleficent is briefly mentioned in the animated series Sofia the First. In the episode "Make Way for Miss Nettle", the villainous fairy Miss Nettle plots to become the most powerful fairy of them all, and openly wishes to become as famous as Maleficent, though she claims she'll be more magnificent.
Maleficent appears in ABC's Once Upon a Time portrayed by Kristin Bauer van Straten. She debuts in the second episode of the first season, and also makes an appearance in the spin-off series Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.
After failing to kill Princess Aurora's mother, the original Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent inflicts a sleeping curse on Aurora, unintentionally allowing Aurora to escape the Dark Curse that sends everyone to Storybrooke. Maleficent also curses her true love Prince Phillip by transforming him into a beast called the Yaoguai and banishing him to another land so that he is incapable of reaching Aurora. He remains in this form until he is found by Belle who returns him to human form.
She is approached at some point by the Evil Queen, who trades the Dark Curse created by Rumplestiltskin, for Maleficent's sleeping curse, in order to punish Snow White. Later, Rumplestiltskin offers to give Prince Charming a spell that will allow him to locate Snow if he manages to hide a potion inside the belly of a beast. Upon arriving at the Forbidden Fortress Charming discovers that the beast is, in fact, Maleficent. During the subsequent fight, Charming manages to toss the egg containing the potion into the gill of sorts on Maleficent's neck. Eventually, Maleficent gives up on her vendetta against Aurora and her mother, finding solace in her pet black unicorn. However, the Evil Queen, frustrated at the failure of the sleeping curse, desires the Dark Curse once more, but Maleficent refuses. The Evil Queen magically duels with Maleficent eventually defeating her and taking back the curse. Despite defeating Maleficent the Evil Queen allows her to live, saying that she is her only friend.
After the Dark Curse has been cast, it is revealed that Regina Mills (the Evil Queen's counterpart) trapped Maleficent in her dragon form and imprisoned her beneath Storybrooke's abandoned library. Later, when Henry Mills falls under a sleeping curse to prove the curse's reality to Emma Swan, Emma is forced to kill Maleficent to retrieve the potion within her, later revealed to be a bottle of true love. Some time after the curse has been broken Regina travels beneath the library to retrieve the 'fail-safe' trigger to destroy Storybrooke, where she discovers that due to a spell she placed on Maleficent to ensure that the 'fail-safe' would always be guarded, her friend is trapped in a form that appears to be neither dead nor truly alive.
In season four Maleficent returned with a brand new look that was much closer to that in the 1959 Disney film. In the second half of the fourth season, a flashback reveals she allied herself with Cruella De Vil and Ursula, as they all sought their own happy endings. Part of this involved stealing a special gauntlet from Rumplestiltskin, though in order to do so, the villains concocted a scheme to kidnap his maid, Belle, and hold her hostage. After successfully doing so, Maleficent sent a raven out to deliver the message of Belle's capture, and the price for her return with the help of Ursula. Once Rumple arrived on the scene, Maleficent appeared and a confrontation followed; she was immediately pinned down by the Dark One's magic, only to announce the presence of her allies, dangerously outnumbering the sorcerer. Without a choice, Rumple hands over the gauntlet and Belle is freed.
Some time afterward, Rumple manages to take back the gauntlet. He warns the Queens of Darkness not to steal from him again, angering Maleficent, who claims that taking the Gauntlet was part of the deal and he never breaks his deals. In retaliation, Rumple claims that stealing from him is not a deal, and he always wins, and wins alone, declining Cruella's offer to join the trio.
It is then revealed that Maleficent, Ursula and Cruella teamed up with Snow White and Prince Charming in order to obtain the knowledge of how to prevent Regina casting the Dark Curse from the Tree of Wisdom, however, Snow and Charming choose to sneak away from the three villains in order to prevent them from also gaining the knowledge. When Snow and Charming attempt to communicate with the tree it refuses to give them the knowledge that they seek, something that is witnessed by the three villains who have just arrived on the scene having caught up to their erstwhile allies. Maleficent realizes that the tree has rejected the pair because Snow is pregnant with a child that, as the product of true love, has the potential to be a great force for good or just as great a force for evil. Maleficent later appears to Snow and suggests that they once again ally with each other to prevent Regina casting the Dark Curse. At this time Maleficent also reveals that she is pregnant and wishes to spare her child the pain of the curse, however, Snow rejects Maleficent's suggestion, believing that if she allies herself with a villain then it will affect whether her own child grows up to be good or evil.
After Gold is banished from Storybrooke by Belle, he locates Ursula and Cruella and tricks Regina into allowing them into Storybrooke. They later go back for him and once all three are reunited again, he says "It's time to reunite the band" as he talks about resurrecting Maleficent.
After tricking Regina into letting them stay in Storybrooke, Cruella De Vil and Ursula secretly work with Mr. Gold to resurrect Maleficent. The women steal an ornament of Maleficent's from the pawnshop, which David and Mary Margaret believe will be used to resurrect the dead sorceress. Instead, this is only a ruse to bait the couple into venturing into the cave below the library where Maleficent's ashes reside, and after David and Mary Margaret are knocked out by Ursula, Cruella sacrifices some of their blood to Maleficent's ashes to complete the spell that proceeds to morphs her ashes into her undead form, then her dragon form before restoring her to life. Although Mary Margaret fears she will reveal their past dealings to Emma, Maleficent affirms she only cares about relishing in their suffering, which will be as long and as unyielding as her own had been. Departing with Cruella and Ursula, she later goes with them to a hill top overlooking the town. Maleficent summons the ornament into her hand and connects it with the totem from her necklace, forming a small baby rattle, which she shakes as a pained look crosses her face.
As the villains have a get-together at the diner, Regina enters and persuades them to let her join their inner circle. Still skeptical, the ladies test their newest addition, in which Cruella drives her car onto railroad tracks while a train approaches. With everyone still seated in the vehicle, Regina must prove she is not heroic by not using magic to save them. Waiting until the train almost crashes into the car, only then, she teleports them out of harm's way. Having bet earlier that Regina would not save them, Maleficent loses the bet and pays up a necklace to Cruella. While the women think she's gone soft, Regina then suggests they stir up trouble elsewhere, and the foursome spend the night drinking and damaging public property. The next morning, Ursula, Cruella and Maleficent report to a cabin in the woods, where they tell Mr. Gold about Regina. He considers her a possible asset for their scheme since she's just as desperate as them to find the author, which convinces the women to trust her. That night, Maleficent borrows Cruella's car, which she enchants to drive automatically, and meets up with Regina alone, instructing her to kidnap Pinocchio, who they need to interrogate about the author. The plan goes smoothly, and they bring the boy to the cabin, where Regina is shocked to see Mr. Gold has returned. When Ursula and Cruella arrive, Mr. Gold reveals Pinocchio is no use to them, but the man he used to be remembers everything. Using his dagger, he reverts the boy into August, who they'll torture for information about the author.
At the cabin, the trio awaits Regina, who returns with a snapshot of the door page since she wasn't able to steal the illustration. After Cruella notices a light glare on the photo, Mr. Gold deducts it's magic and that the Author is actually trapped in the door within the illustration after being imprisoned by the Sorcerer. With the page more vital to them than before, Maleficent puts everyone in town to sleep, although those already once affected by a sleeping curse remain immune. As they head to the apartment to search for the page, Maleficent pressures Mr. Gold to provide answers about her lost child so as long as she continues to help him find the Author. When they find nothing at the apartment, Mr. Gold figures Henry must have disappeared to the mansion with the storybook. After he leaves to conduct other business, the women head to the mansion, and with Regina's persuasion, Henry forfeits a forgery of the door illustration. Regrouping outside the pawnshop, Mr. Gold examines the page, realizing it's fake, and then has Maleficent put Regina to sleep. Believing she is culpable, the trio hauls her to the vault. There, Maleficent once again asks Mr. Gold for her child's whereabouts. He asks her to let go of her pain since the truth may make it worse, but she adamantly wants to know her child's fate. Mr. Gold relents, and using Maleficent's baby rattle, he shows her the child, Lily, being adopted thirty years ago.
Maleficent confronts Cruella as to why she lied to her about her daughter Lily and tell her that she was dead. Cruella simply tells her that she's a terrible person and left her in the woods to die, claiming she isn't "mother material". She tells her that Ursula and herself took her dragon egg to absorb the magic and keep themselves youthful. Furious at her, Maleficent tells Cruella her death will last for days and turns into a dragon. However, Cruella uses her powers to put Maleficent under her control as she can control animals and tells her that today is the day she gets her happy ending now that the Author is here.
Regina, Mary Margaret, David, Hook and Emma are all in Granny's diner where Emma is asked by Maleficent to locate her daughter. Emma asks what her daughter's name and she reveals it to be Lillith (a childhood friend of Emma's). While Regina and Emma go look for her daughter, she is sent to guard Belle's heart which is used for leverage for Regina against Gold. There Mary Margaret come to apologize to Maleficent for the what they did to Lily and tell her that they'll do whatever it takes to earn her forgiveness, but she replies that they turned her own daughter into a monster and if she can't forgive them, why would Lily.
Maleficent finally is reunited with her daughter and the two go to Granny's Diner. Lily asks Maleficent about what they are going to do about Snow White and Charming but Maleficent tells that she doesn't want to waste her time on revenge and that they should all look forward telling her that they can either be happy for the future, or angry about the past. Maleficent works to keep Lily in Storybrooke while warning her that she won't be able to get back into Storybrooke if she leaves and she can't leave as the magic keeping her alive will wear off and she will turn back into dust, however, Lily doesn't care and decides to leave. She later approaches Mary Margaret and David to help her find Lily and convince her to stay. The trio later encounters Lily in her dragon form. Maleficent approaches Lily's dragon form as Mary Margaret runs after her. Then Maleficent confronts Lily, she regresses back to dragon form as Maleficent gives Lily her baby rattle which she never got the chance to give her. Lily claims that she destroys everything she touches ever since Snow White and Prince Charming put Emma's darkness in her. Maleficent convinces Lily to stay for a week to teach her some tricks.
Will Scarlet joins a group of thieves led by Robin Hood, and convinces them to break into Maleficent's castle to steal a chest of gold. In actuality, his real intention is to get an object that can take him and his loved one (Anastasia), away from the Enchanted Forest. When Maleficent realizes the treasure is missing, she projects her voice around the thieves' campfire; warning of the consequences of taking something that will only have a bad outcome. Despite her threats, Will secretly leaves with the stolen item.
Maleficent becomes the main character in her own feature film Maleficent, which tells the untold tale of how and why she became evil. She was portrayed by Angelina Jolie, while Isobelle Molloy portrayed her as a child.
When she was still a good fairy, Maleficent lived a peaceful life in an enchanted valley known as the Moors. One day, a young boy named Stefan was caught trying to steal a jewel from the Jewel River. Despite this, Maleficent becomes best friends with the boy, which gradually blossoms into love as they grow. On Maleficent's sixteenth birthday, Stefan shows her what she believes is true love's kiss. However, over the years, Stefan stops seeing Maleficent and goes to the human kingdom, while Maleficent, being the strongest of the fairies, becomes the fiercest protector of the Moors. Later, Stefan betrays Maleficent and steals her wings so he could claim that he killed her and become king. After the painful loss of her wings, Maleficent becomes enraged over his treachery, and as her heart of gold turns to stone, she becomes the evilest magical being in the land.
One day, she comes across a farmer who has captured a raven. Taking pity on the small bird, she turns the raven into a man. After the farmer runs away in fear, Maleficent approaches the human bird, who introduces himself as Diaval. Although he is initially disgusted that she turned him into a human, because she saved him, he promises to be her humble servant. Maleficent gives him his first task: to find Stefan. Diaval flies to the castle and witnesses Stefan being crowned king, with a woman named Leila being his queen. When he informs Maleficent of what he has learned, she becomes enraged. She returns to the Moors as dark clouds loom across the forest, then, creating a throne of dark and twisted roots, Maleficent sits there as the new Evil Queen of the Moors.
Bent on revenge, she places a dark curse upon the baby Aurora: to fall into a "sleep-like death" for eternity when she pricks her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel on her sixteenth birthday before the sun sets. However, after Stefan begs her to spare his daughter's life, she also includes that the curse can be lifted only by true love's kiss and no other power on earth can change it.
Over the next 16 years, Maleficent watches over the young princess and despite her dislike for the little "beastie" she reluctantly takes care of her from afar since the three Pixies are incapable and struggle with their new life as humans. As Aurora grows up and encounters her a few times as a small child, Maleficent begins to love her as her daughter, despite her best efforts not to. By the time Aurora is nearly 16, Maleficent brings her to the Moors to explore like she has always wanted, and is surprised and touched to hear that Aurora thinks of her as her fairy godmother. Over the next few days, they spend more time together with the other fairies. All the fairies take a liking to Aurora, and as Maleficent grows closer to her, she begins to show her more lighthearted side again, even taking part in a mud fight with her and Diaval. Regretting her past choice, she tries to remove the curse from Aurora, but she is unable to do so since no power on earth can lift it but true love's kiss.
When Aurora says she wishes to stay with Maleficent, she is delighted, but when she tells her "aunts" that she wishes to leave, they reveal to her the truth about her past, and about Maleficent. Aurora confronts her and is horrified and upset. She runs away to the palace, where she reunites with Stefan. To keep her safe, Stefan locks her in her room, believing that Maleficent is coming for her revenge.
As the sun begins to set, Maleficent finds Phillip and hurries to the castle, but all is in vain when her evil prophecy is fulfilled, and Aurora pricks her finger on a spindle. Maleficent and Diaval sneak into the castle with Phillip and bring him to the sleeping Aurora, hoping his brief meeting with her will be enough to break her curse. Unfortunately, his kiss fails, and Aurora remains asleep. Maleficent sadly looks upon what her hatred has brought to her dear friend. She tearfully apologizes to her sleeping goddaughter and gives her a farewell kiss on the forehead. However, just before she can walk away, a miracle happens: Aurora wakes up. Maleficent's strong and genuine motherly love for Aurora was enough to break the curse that she herself had cast.
As they attempt to flee the castle, Maleficent is trapped under an iron net by Stefan's guards. Maleficent turns Diaval into a dragon, and he lifts the net off her and fights the guards. However, as Stefan enters the scene, Diaval is chained by the soldiers and Maleficent is surrounded. Stefan taunts Maleficent and cruelly beats her. However, just before Stefan can kill her, Maleficent's wings return to her after Aurora frees them. With her wings back, Maleficent frees Diaval, and together, they manage to defeat the guards with the treacherous king still standing. Maleficent carries Stefan onto a tower, but just when the fairy is close to choking him to death, she decides to spare his life claiming "It's over." However, Stefan refuses defeat and jumps on her. The two fall from the tower, but Maleficent manages to shake him off, and Stefan falls to his death. Afterward, with peace finally made between the two lands, Maleficent passes her crown to Aurora making her Queen of both the human and fairy kingdoms. In the last scene, she flies happily through the skies with Diaval.
According to some press release information, Maleficent is the only villain featured who hasn't given up hope on conquering the kingdom and scolds her daughter for failing to reach her evil potential. Despite her drive, this incarnation of Maleficent has displayed a quirky and comical side, such as dolling out petty punishments upon her daughter, subjecting Mal to glaring contests, and forgetting where she stored her spellbook (which turned out to be inside the refrigerator that she has no knowledge on how to open without the Evil Queen's help). Also, she wanted to put good and evil in her will but failed by being shrunk by Mal's magic (the spell of being shrunk as a lizard.) which is the same size of goodness in her heart.
In Descendants 2, she briefly appears in her lizard form, only here she is green instead of black.
Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse in "La Storia Infinita"
In the 1991 crossover comic, Maleficent appears as the leader of the Disney Villains. A mysterious malevolent force known as the Nothing is slowly destroying the world. Maleficent is first seen in Madame Medusa's steamboat, where the villains are assembled. She arrives there to warn the other villains that Mickey Mouse has been tasked with fighting the Nothing. She then explains that it is in the villains' interest to let the Nothing destroy the world; she claims that once the world is destroyed, they, with their black magic, will be able to remake it to their liking. She decides to take care of him herself, and leaves for the forest of Broceliande (where Mickey Mouse is seeking advice from Merlin). She puts a curse on the forest to put everyone in it to sleep; although Mickey is able to get some advice from Archimedes, the spell soon affects him.
Later, Maleficent reappears at the climax of the story, on the now derelict Pleasure Island (which is slowly being eaten away by the Nothing), where she confronts Mickey Mouse. She brags about how she is going to kill him so that the Nothing may not be stopped. Mickey asks for her motivation, and she explains that at last, Good will be defeated, this time. Mickey answers that Evil cannot win if she and the other villains are going to be killed by the Nothing too; Maleficent admits that she lied to the other villains, controlling them so that they help her to kill him, and that she is ready to sacrifice her own life for the purpose of seeing the agents of good destroyed. She turns into her dragon form, but is sucked up by the Nothing before she can kill Mickey; Mickey makes a timely escape on the back of Dumbo.
Maleficent also acted as the eponymous antagonist in Maleficent's Revenge, a short story included in the anthology Disney's Scary Storybook Collection.
Two years after the events of the film, Aurora and Prince Phillip have married, and the couple, as well as the entire kingdom, prepared to celebrate their anniversary. As the Three Good Fairies began work on decorations, they notice their powers have been drained away. This was due to the solar eclipse. When such an event takes place, fairies lose their magic, and their spells are undone, much to Merryweather's discomfort.
Meanwhile, at the Forbidden Mountains, Merryweather's spell over Diablo is broken, and the raven is revived from his death. Immediately, he begins searching for Maleficent, eventually finding her cloak, with her staff nearby. Diablo manages to use the evil fairy's magic to revive his mistress, and together, the villainous duo makes way for the kingdom, plotting to break Aurora and Phillip apart and dominate the land.
On the day of the celebration, Maleficent storms in and places a curse upon the castle, turning every soul, with the exception of Aurora, to stone. Tortured and desperate, Aurora pleads for mercy upon Phillip and her people, going as far as to asking the wicked fairy to turn her into stone, as well. Maleficent refuses, as she's unable to place a curse on the princess due to Flora, Fauna and Merryweather's protection spell, but she is able to grant a wish, resulting in Aurora sacrificing her life in exchange for her loved ones and people.
With Aurora once again put into a sleep-like death, the kingdom citizens are freed, including Phillip, who rushes to the Forbidden Mountains to save his bride. There, a battle between Dragon Maleficent and the prince takes place. The evil dragon attempts to bite Phillip with her venomous fangs, but she accidentally strikes her own tail, killing herself. When Maleficent is defeated once and for all, Phillip once again wakes Aurora with a kiss of true love.
In the manga series, Maleficent returns disguised as "Lady Malecent" and attempts to curse Aurora at the princess' seventeenth birthday using magic rose thorns. However, the story's heroine, Kilala Reno, shields Aurora and falls under the curse. When Prince Rei delivers a kiss to a sleeping Kilala, Maleficent's evil plot was once again undone by true love's kiss, this time ending Maleficent's life.
Maleficent plays a major role in the novel that tells the story of Walt Disney World after dark. Maleficent is one of the Overtakers and believed to be the leader. Still, nearing the end of the first book, when Finn calls her the Overtakers' leader, she denies it and tells there's someone far more powerful than her. In this version, Maleficent will become weakened if in warm places; thus she gives off a cold chill, which cues the Keepers into when she's nearing their location.
Prior to the first story, Maleficent cursed a girl named Jess into becoming her servant, to keep her from giving predictions to the Keepers. She was set free thanks to Finn's DHI powers; Maleficent held a grudge against both of them and tried numerous times to incapacitate them.
Though captured twice, Maleficent manages to escape each and every time; the second time was with her master, Chernabog. She, the Queen and Cruella look for Disney's notes on Chernabog to find a way to bring him back to full power as the transitions into different forms she's caused him to go through have severely weakened him. On board the Dream, Maleficent and the rest of the Overtakers blend in without much of problem as the crew mistake them for Cast Members in costumes. During the two week cruise, she plans to toss the Keepers overboard.
During the Sixth book, Dark Passage, Maleficent is killed by Finn (who had become blinded by rage at being tricked into killing his best friend for them), who ripped a hole in her using his DHI powers. In the Seventh book, The Insider, Tia Dalma retrieved some of Maleficent's bones and enacted a ritual to resurrect her. Upon meeting Ursula, Finn wondered if Maleficent was a double-agent secretly working for the sea witch.
In The Return trilogy, Maleficent is brought back as a Frankenstein-like misshapen being with stronger powers by Tia Dalma. She attempts to attack Amanda and Jess.
Maleficent is mentioned numerous times in the novel by Serena Valentino. It is explained that she and Ursula have a heated rivalry. When Maleficent hears of The Odd Sisters' deal with Ursula, she sends her raven to give them a warning to break ties with the Sea Witch, because the Dark Fairy knows how far Ursula will go to get what she truly wants, even if it means to betray the sisters.
Maleficent sends her daughter Mal to retrieve her scepter from the Isle of the Doomed when her raven Diablo reverts from its petrified state. She also warns Mal that the weapon is enchanted with a sleeping curse, and expects her to put one of her comrades under the spell. In the end, Maleficent gets the scepter from the raven and finds out that Mal tried to sacrifice herself instead of one of her team, causing disappointment in Maleficent.
As Maleficent is now a harmless gecko, she is put in a small cage safe-guarded constantly. Maleficent only sleeps in the cage, ignoring even Mal. When inhabitants of Camelot Heights report spotting a dragon, they suspect it to be Maleficent's doing. Ben goes on to investigate, going as far as Neverland to look through the fairies' records on magical beings. In the end, they learn that it was Madam Mim causing all the disturbances.
In the Disney Villains: Top Secret Files, Maleficent is featured in her own section. According to the pieces of information provided, Maleficent's last name is Faery. She attended a magic school in her youth, where she (already) showed remarkable interests for dragons. In her younger years, she tended to accidentally transform into her dragon form (only learning to control it much later); this happened at a birthday party where she was invited, and the resulting disaster is the reason she was traditionally never invited to parties. On the other hand, it turns out she was actually invited to Aurora's birth ceremony, and that the invitation simply never got to her castle because she burnt the postman to death (believing him to be a trespasser) before he could deliver it.
In Disney Villains: My Side of the Story, Maleficent claimed her actions in the film were portrayed incorrectly, and that her efforts were merely meant for Aurora and Phillip's best interests.
Maleficent appears as the final boss of the North American version of the Nintendo game Mickey Mousecapade (in the original Japanese version, the final boss is the Queen of Hearts).
Maleficent appears as a major antagonist in the Kingdom Hearts series. As opposed to other Disney villains featured in the game (with the exception of Pete), Maleficent serves as a major antagonist throughout the overall storyline of the series, unlike the villains who are only antagonists to the world they originate from. Her story begins in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, in her home world, Enchanted Domain, where she meets Master Xehanort. Their contact leaves Maleficent with the knowledge of the seven princesses of light, thus beginning her journey to gather all the princesses and unleash darkness upon the worlds, claiming them as her own, leading into the events of Kingdom Hearts. In order to do so, Maleficent enlists the assistance of several Disney villains: Pete, Jafar, Ursula, Captain Hook, Oogie Boogie, and Hades. Together, they wreck havoc upon their worlds and collect the princesses through the control over mysterious creatures known as the Heartless. However, one boy stands in their way, that boy being Sora, the Keyblade's chosen one. With the help of Donald Duck and Goofy, Sora manages to travel across the worlds, defeating each villain, and eventually finding himself in Hollow Bastion, where Maleficent has built her home base. A battle follows, and eventually, Maleficent is killed.
In Kingdom Hearts II, she revives from her death, the only villain still in contact with her being Pete. Together, they continue their quest for power, by merely invading worlds and attacking with Heartless, but a new threat is known as the Organization XIII gets in the way of Maleficent's quest for power. Maleficent and Pete appear to sacrifice themselves in order to hold off a horde of Heartless so that Sora, Riku, and their allies can defeat Organization XIII's leader, Xemnas.
Maleficent also appears in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded, and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, where she appears as a considerably minor character, looking to consolidate power and antagonize both Sora and King Mickey.
Maleficent will return in Kingdom Hearts III.
Maleficent appears in her dragon form in the Sleeping Beauty transition level in addition to several background cameos. In Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, she serves as the basis of Mizrabel's redesign.
Maleficent makes an appearance as a townsperson in Disney INFINITY. In the 3DS version, she makes a cameo appearance, where she will force the last place player to remain in the last place by removing their emblems.
Her 2014 film incarnation appears as a playable character in Disney INFINITY 2.0. She was voiced by Rajia Baroudi, due to Jolie having prior obligations. However, Jolie did approve the design of Maleficent's figure personally.
In the 2015 rendition of World of Color, Maleficent appears during the montage celebrating villains.
Maleficent is one of the villains that appear during Halloween Screams as part of Mickey's Halloween Party.
In Disney Villains Mix and Mingle, until 2011, Maleficent was the lead villain and celebrates Halloween with her fellow villains. Dr. Facilier took over in 2011 as the main villain. After she joins in a meet and greet…if one is not too scared of her, of course.
Maleficent also plays a role in Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. One of the villains in Fantasyland, Maleficent is brought back from the dead by Hades to steal the crystal of the Magic Kingdom, though like Ursula, Maleficent plans to double-cross Hades and instead use the crystal for her own gain rather than let him have it. The guests have to help Flora, Fauna and Merryweather defeat her and retrieve the crystal.
In Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular, Maleficent is the third villain to help the Sanderson Sisters with their Halloween celebration by conjuring various Disney Villains the sisters call "frightful friends". Maleficent and the other villains can be seen singing "I Put a Spell on You" with them during the finale of the show.
In Dream Along With Mickey, the former live castle stage show in the Magic Kingdom, Maleficent attempts to take over the Magic Kingdom. However, Mickey uses the power of dreams to defeat Maleficent. Maleficent decides to leave but reminds Mickey they have not seen the last of her.
She currently appears in her Dragon form battling Prince Phillip, in the Festival of Fantasy Parade, and in the nighttime fireworks show Happily Ever After, where she transforms into a dragon to battle Phillip; her defeat ends the segment centered on adversity.
Maleficent can also be seen in One Man's Dream II: The Magic Lives On!
During the Halloween season, she is prominently featured alongside other Disney villains, and makes a live appearance in Tokyo DisneySea's harbor show, Villain's World.
In Villains Night Out!, Maleficent joins the festivities of Jafar and the Evil Queen by inviting a cast of Disney villains to the castle.
She also makes an appearance during the final scene of The Nightmare Experiment, seen turning into a dragon.
As part of the park's Halloween celebration, Maleficent joins Dr. Facilier and Hades in the upcoming Villain's Cavalcade night show.
In the live nighttime spectacular Fantasmic!, Maleficent is called forth by the Evil Queen, who plans to kill Mickey Mouse once and for all. In order to battle Mickey, Maleficent transforms into her dragon form and burns the area with her fire-breathing abilities, but is killed along with the other villains by Mickey when he uses the Sword in the Stone. The depiction of Maleficent's dragon form differs between parks: at Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea, Maleficent is a 45-foot tall Audio-Animatronic, the largest ever built. Disneyland's dragon is codenamed "Snaps McGee", and frequently referred to as "Murphy" by fans (referring to the dragon's constant technical difficulties leading up to its debut in the Summer of 2009; it did not debut until September 1, 2009), while the Tokyo dragon's nickname is unknown. At Disney Hollywood Studios (and the original Disneyland version), the dragon is a 40-foot mechanical puppet on a JLG cherry picker. California's original dragon was codenamed "Dymo" (often misreported as "Bucky"), while Florida's dragon is codenamed "Vivian".
Differences from the source material
In the Sleeping Beauty ballet, the evil fairy was named Carabosse. In some versions of the fairy tale, she only appeared to curse the child at the beginning, and did not appear elsewhere in the story; in these versions, the spinning wheel the princess pricks her finger on is not magical but simply a normal spinning wheel. One version of the story shows the fairy who curses the princess as old and grumpy, but not necessarily evil; this version of the character lived (most of the time sleeping) in a tower at the top of the castle, and, after cursing the princess, goes back to sleep, not appearing afterwards. Also, the original story did not feature a battle with the prince and Carabosse doesn't die.
- Her name means "to do evil or harm; harmfully malicious". It can also be seen as a portmanteau of the words "malevolent" and "magnificent".
- Maleficent was nominated for a place in 'AFI's 50 Greatest Villains list', along with the Evil Queen, Stromboli, Man, Lady Tremaine, Cruella De Vil and Ursula. The Disney Villains to make the final list were the Queen (10), Man (20), and Cruella De Vil (39).
- Eleanor Audley, the original voice actress for Maleficent also voiced Lady Tremaine from Cinderella. In fact, they specifically chose Eleanor Audley to voice Maleficent because of her having earlier brought Lady Tremaine to chilling vocal life, as they needed a powerful voice for someone as evil as Maleficent.
- Maleficent is one of the ten villains featured in the tongue-in-cheek Disney's Villains' Lair. Maleficent's section of the book includes the catalog she chose her costume from, and an invitation to Aurora's christening arriving 16 years late (with a small 'oops!' scrawled in the corner). Maleficent is ranked as the second greatest Disney Villain at the end of the book.
- In the original French story, the wicked fairy had not been invited, because for more than fifty years she had never left a certain tower and was thought to be dead or enchanted.
- Unlike most Disney Villains who speak to their respective heroines, Maleficent does not have any direct contact with Aurora (aside from luring her to the spindle). She does, however, have direct contact with Aurora in the storybook sequel Maleficent's Revenge.
- Sleeping Beauty's sound effects designer Jim Macdonald used castanets for the sound of Maleficent's jaws snapping as the dragon. He got the sound of her fiery breath by asking the U.S. Army to send him some training films on using flame throwers. The biting sound of the dragon was also heard when she bangs the ground with her staff to silence the goons. The exact same sound effect was used for Tick-Tock the Crocodile's biting sound.
- It is noted in the 1959 film that Maleficent had not been sleeping well (or not at all) for the last 16 years since the day she cursed Aurora. It is clearly seen through her eye bags in the latter parts of the movie set after sixteen years, giving her a more fearsome look.
- In some tie-in storybooks based on the 1959 film and on the stained-glass portrait in the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Paris, Maleficent appears next to Aurora when she urged the princess to touch the spindle on the spinning wheel, despite the fact that she herself is the spinning wheel in the actual film.
- The scream that Maleficent lets out when Prince Phillip hurls the Sword of Truth into her heart is the same as the old peddler's scream when she falls down the cliff from her failed attack on the dwarves.
- Maleficent was listed #7 in Empire Magazine's The 50 Best Animated Movie Characters. Stating her stroke of genius as "She turns into a frickin' dragon; what more do you need?".
- The sound of Maleficent's dragon fire was created properly, with the use of a flame-thrower. The sound of the dragon's teeth snapping, however, was recorded using castanets.
- She is one of the few Disney characters to say the word "hell".
- Maleficent is mentioned in a song sung by Miss Nettle from Sofia the First.
- She is often referenced as both a witch/sorceress, as well as a dark fairy. Both of these are different types of supernatural beings. These phrases may be labels rather than true to what she is, as she has been confirmed to be an evil fairy.
- Despite being an evil fairy, she is still viewed as a witch by other franchises. One rerelease trailer for the film, released during the 1990s, even referred to her as an evil witch.
- In Kingdom Hearts 3D, Master Xehanort refers to Maleficent as "The Dark Fairy."
- Maleficent's defeat was the most gory of the Disney villains' defeats during Walt Disney's lifetime; when Dragon Maleficent was stabbed in the heart by Prince Phillip, blood was clearly visible.
- The only time Maleficent is heard singing in animation is during the song "It's Our House Now" in the film Mickey's House of Villains.
- Maleficent briefly alludes to Aurora's 100-year sleep in the original tale nearing the end of the film. When taunting Prince Phillip inside his cell, Maleficent tells him "The years roll by, but a hundred years to a steadfast heart are 'bout a day."
- Maleficent obviously served as a strong inspiration for the Queen of the Night in the 1994 TV special adapted from the Mozart's opera The Magic Flute.
- Maleficent and the other fairies appear to hold noble titles or a high form of status in the kingdom, as they are addressed at Aurora's christening with the term "excellency". It's used to announce the arrival of Flora, Fauna and Merryweather, as well as when Queen Leah asks Maleficent if she was upset about not being invited, "...and you're not offended, Your Excellency?"
- Maleficent is the only member of the Disney Villains franchise to be a playable character in the Disney INFINITY games.
- All live-action versions of Maleficent are maternal figures (In Once Upon a Time: Maleficent and Lily; in the 2014 movie: Maleficent and Aurora, and in Descendants: Maleficent and Mal).
- Ironically, her forbidding and eerie leitmotif in the film that is lifted from the ballet, is actually a comedic pas de deux between Puss in Boots and the White Cat.
- Largely because of her turning the entire kingdom into stone, she is technically the second Disney villain to attempt genocide, after Claude Frollo.