Penny is the tritagonist from Disney's 1977 film The Rescuers, serving as the representation that anyone's dreams can come true if one has enough faith. She is regarded as one of Disney's bravest characters.
Penny is a cute, but shy little girl, but is gutsy and very brave, especially when she stood up to Medusa's crocodiles and Medusa herself while held at gunpoint. She desires to go back to the orphanage so that she can be adopted and gain a family but is very insecure about not being liked by any of the families.
Penny has short blonde hair in pigtails, black eyes, and fair skin. She wears a white polo shirt, blue overall skirt, lavender tights, and brown Mary Jane shoes during the day, a yellow nightgown at night, and when she's adopted she wears a pink hooded winter coat, light pink scarf, and dark pink snow galoshes over her regular clothes.
Role in the film
Little is known about Penny's backstory. However, it is known that she was left at Morningside Orphanage in New York City, when she was still young. Since then, she had desperately sought adoption. One afternoon, Rufus, the orphanage's elderly cat, saw her sitting sadly on her bedside at the orphanage, and asked her what was wrong. Penny denied any problem, but when Rufus urged her, she then told him in person that it was adoption day at the orphanage, and that a man and woman looked at her, but adopted a little redheaded girl instead. A heartbroken Penny believes that the redhead was more beautiful than herself. Rufus comforts the girl and tells her to have faith through the poem, "Faith is a Bluebird." Penny feels better and shows her appreciation by giving Rufus some gingersnap cookies (the same two extra ones she had taken for lunch which she was not supposed to do). Penny then hugs and pets Rufus and carries him downstairs for supper.
Soon after that, the evil treasure huntress Madame Medusa needs a child to fetch a certain diamond hidden within a hole too narrow for adults to fit down. She thus kidnaps Penny to fetch the diamond for her; Rufus says that Medusa offered to give Penny a ride in her car. For weeks afterward, the police searched for the girl, but had no success in finding her and eventually gave up the search, believing that she must have runaway.
As mentioned by Ellie Mae and Medusa, Penny has tried to escape several times. Every time Penny attempts to escape, she is caught by Medusa's crocodiles, Brutus and Nero.
When a message in a bottle from Penny finally arrives in New York Harbor, some hobo mice discover it and send it to the Rescue Aid Society of mice. Miss Bianca and her co-agent Bernard read the message and soon find out that Penny is being held in Devil's Bayou. The two mice set out in search of the girl to rescue her.
With the help of Orville, the albatross, the mice soon arrive at the bayou. Meanwhile Penny attempts another escape, but she is recaptured again by Medusa's crocodiles Brutus and Nero. She shows no fear of the two, even going so far as to threaten Nero should he get her Teddy bear wet. Brutus carries Penny upside down by the bottom of her panties when they came back to the riverboat. Mr. Snoops taunts Penny for her failed escape. Penny bravely orders Brutus to put her down while swinging her arms at him. Brutus smugingly drops her to floor where she lands on her head. For holding upside down and dropping her like that, she calls him a "freaky little dragon." Mr. Snoops scolds Penny for running away. He threatens to feed Teddy to Brutus and Nero if she doesn't behave, but Penny retorts that he's too scared of the crocodiles to do so. Mr. Snoops sends Penny to her room for sassing him.
Later in the night, Penny is called in by Medusa after putting her nightgown on. Medusa tells her that she is willing to let bygones be bygones if she can find the Devil's Eye. Penny tells her that she is trying her best and asks Medusa if she'll take her back to Morningside Orphanage as she promised. Medusa then asks why she would want to leave, and Penny tells her that if she doesn't go back, she'll never be adopted. Medusa then says that no one would want "a homely little girl like her." This brings Penny to tears (one of which she pours on her Teddy to make it look like he's crying). With her spirit shattered, Penny then goes up to the deck of the boat and looks out to the bayou, still in tears. While the song "Someone's Waiting For You" plays, Penny looks out to the night sky where she sees deer eating and a star glowing brightly. This sight puts a smile on Penny's face, signifying that she should keep her hopes as bright as the star. She goes back into her room and prays that someone finds her bottle because "running away isn't working" then starts to cry again. By this time, Bernard and Miss Bianca have arrived, perched on Penny's pillow. They talk to Penny in person for the first time ever and explain why they're there. Penny is delighted to hear they found her bottle, then asks if they brought the police with them. The mice tell her if they work together and have faith, things will turn out right; just as Rufus told her in the orphanage. Penny and the mice come up with a plan to escape: they will trap Brutus and Nero in the old elevator (which resembles a cage), distract Medusa by setting off Mr. Snoop's fireworks in her bedroom and then steal her swampmobile to run away.
The next morning, Medusa and Mr. Snoops drag Penny to the underground cave (aka the black hole) to make her search for the diamond. Penny says she won't do it because Teddy doesn't like going down there (most likely referring to herself too). Medusa grabs Teddy out of her arms and holds him hostage. Penny tries to grab him back. Medusa pushes Penny up against the cave's wall and orders her to look for the diamond or she'll never see Teddy again. Penny immediately climbs into the bucket and Mr. Snoops lowers her down. Luckily, Bernard and Miss Bianca hide in her dress pocket to help her. Once they hit the bottom, Penny tells the mice it used to be a pirate's cave by showing them a skeleton of a pirate with a sword. She also shows them the hole where the tide comes in and admits she's afraid to go over there. Bernard and Miss Bianca investigate while Penny holds the lantern for them on the other side. They find the Devil's Eye trapped in a human skull, but can't get it out because it's too big. Soon the cave starts to fill up with water and Penny begs Medusa to pull her back up, but Medusa refuses until she gets the diamond. Penny grabs the pirate sword and successfully uses it to pry open the skull's mouth to get the Devil's Eye. Penny saves Bernard and Miss Bianca from drowning in a whirlpool, climbs back into the bucket and is pulled out. Medusa and Mr. Snoops argue over the Devil's Eye while Brutus carries Penny to the riverboat upside down by her panties again. Again, Penny orders Brutus to put her down, but Brutus ignores her that time and continues carrying her back.
Medusa intends to take the diamond for herself and threatens to shoot Penny and Snoops if they follow her. However, thanks to the assistance of Ellie May and the rest of the swamp gang, Penny makes it to the swampmobile with Teddy and the Devil's Eye. The swamp gang set off the fireworks and trap Brutus and Nero according to plan while Penny starts the vehicle. Penny manages to speed away with everyone in tow despite some resistance from Medusa.
After making it back to New York, Penny turns the Devil's Eye over to the Smithsonian Institute. The news covers not only this, but Penny being adopted by her new mother and father soon after. As Bernard and Bianca watch the broadcast, Penny happily waves and greets them from the TV much to the bewilderment of the reporter.
- Originally, the Disney animators were considering using the story of Bernard and Miss Bianca setting out to rescue an old poet from a prison in Norway, which was taken from Margery Sharp's first novel. This idea was scrapped, however, since the poet lacked personality. It was then that Penny was created, instead.
- Penny herself was inspired by Patience, the orphan girl in Margery Sharp's 2nd novel Miss Bianca. Patience, too, is centered with the theme of a diamond, in her case, many, which she is forced to polish every day. Patience is also key to the book's heartwarming atmosphere.
- Originally, the 1988 film Oliver & Company was to have starred Penny, now living with her new adoptive parents. However, due to concerns that the story wasn't convincing enough, a similar girl Jenny was created in her place.
- She is the second Disney heroine to be seen praying, after Snow White.
- The book belonging to Penny that Bernard and Bianca found in Medusa's Pawn Shop reads on the cover First Grade Reader. This implies that Penny may be six or seven years old.
- She would have to be 6 or 7 at the oldest as she is the basis for Jenny who is 7, going on 8.
- Penny's teddy bear has the appearance of Winnie-the-Pooh.
- Penny's looks and personality are based on her voice actress Michelle Stacy.
- Penny's role is similar to that of another female lead in a non-Disney movie, Robyn Starling in Tom & Jerry: The Movie and Anne-Marie in All Dogs Go to Heaven. All three were being held prisoner by the film's main antagonist and want a loving family, they also meet, and were rescued by the the film's main animal characters near the end.
- Penny's successful capture by Brutus and Nero was similar to Mowgli's by the monkeys. Both are hung upside down (Brutus holds Penny with her underwear in his mouth; the monkeys hold Mowgli by his feet and legs) and demand "Put me down," getting dropped harshly. The scene where Penny runs away is also identical to a scene where Mowgli runs away.
- Fans have paired Penny with Cody from the sequel, The Rescuers Down Under, as a couple despite the two having never met officially.
- Despite their different age, Penny and Cinderella have some similarites.
- Both are orphans.
- Both are in a certain type of servitude for the main villainess/antagonist. Cinderella is forced to do chores for Lady Tremaine while Penny is forced to go into the Black Hole to get the Devil's Eye diamond for Madame Medusa.
- Both have been psychologically abused by the main villainess/antagonist at least one point in the film.
- Both have been somewhat foiled by the villainess's/antagonist's beloved and male pets (Lucifer the cat, Brutus and Nero the crocodiles).
- Both lose hope and break down crying when they believe their dreams are broken. Then both are hopeful in their dreams again, after they are cheered up, and listen to their friends who appear to them out of nowhere.(the Fairy Godmother, and Bianca and Bernard)
- Both are rescued by heroic mice duos (Jaq and Gus, Bernard and Miss Bianca) and a band of other small animals as well (mice and birds, swamp folks).
- Both their dreams finally come true in the end.
- On a minor note, both are seen wearing pigtail-type hairstyles. Penny is constantly seen wearing pigtails, while Cinderella wears braided pigtails during her sleep.
- Penny and Aladdin also have some similarities.
- Penny and Aladdin were both forced by a villain (the main antagonist) to go into a cave to retrieve something he or she desires. Madame Medusa wanted Penny to go into the cave to get the diamond, the Devil's Eye. Jafar wanted Aladdin to go into the Cave of Wonders to get the lamp.
- There was a reason why the heroes were chosen by the villains to retrieve their treasure. Penny is small enough to fit in the cave to get the Devil's Eye. Aladdin, the diamond in the rough, is the only person worthy enough to enter the Cave of Wonders to get the lamp.
- Both are orphans dreaming of a better life.
- Both are denied any savings from the villain until they get their treasure.
- Both nearly die trying to get the treasure from the dangerous cave.
- Both have Glen Keane as their supervising animator.
- Penny may have some similarities with more Disney characters.
- Penny and Alice:
- They both meet many new friends along their journeys
- Their appearances may be similar. Their dresses are blue type color, they wear Mary-Jane shoes, stockings, pockets (in Penny's skirt, and in Alice's gown) and they both have a type wearing on their hair (Penny wears two pigtails, and Alice wears a small hair-bow)
- They both break down crying when they lose hope.
- They both have giant similarities (Alice grows giant, Penny seems giant to her friends, Bianca and Bernard)
- Penny and Olivia:
- Penny and Olivia (just like Alice), they both wear something on their hairstyle (Penny wears two pigtails, and Olivia wears a small hair-bow), they both have blue color type on their clothing (Penny dress, and Olivia's coat, scarf, and hat).
- They are also willing to have their lives in parenting (Olivia wants to be reunited with her father Mr. Flaversham, and Penny wants to be adopted by a new mother and father).
- They also touch things they are not supposed to touch, due to them being little girls (Penny uses a Pirate sword to help Bianca and Bernard, get out of the skull, and Olivia Picking up a bullet to give to Basil).
- Penny appears to be in a similar situation that Goofy gets into during his cartoon, "Goofy Gymnastics." While Goofy wears a yellow caveman suit in that cartoon which is similar to a dress, when Goofy has his feet and hands trapped in the barbells and rollson them like wheels, his suit falls over his head leaving his underwear exposed. Similarly, whenever Penny is held upside down by Brutus, her dress falls over her head and her underwear gets exposed. The big difference is that Goofy does not hang upside down.
- Goof (possibly): When Penny is first captured by Brutus and Nero, Brutus initially holds her by the strap in back of her dress. In fact, that is how Brutus carries Penny back to the river boat through the swamp. However, when the crocodiles return to the river boat with Penny, Brutus is suddenly holding Penny upside down by her underwear. There is no explanation for how Brutus could have possibly turned Penny around like that without releasing her just for a moment and preventing her from escaping. It even stands to reason that Brutus would not release Penny until he got her back to the river boat. Additionally, when Brutus carries Penny upside down through the door of the river boat, Penny is facing toward Brutus. Yet, in the next shot when the crocodiles are inside the river boat with Penny, she is suddenly facing away from Brutus.
- Penny and Alice: