In contrast to the soft and innocent nature of Dumbo, Timothy is brazen, fearless, and shrewd. Throughout the film, however, Timothy's primary goal is to make Dumbo happy and help him rescue his mother, showing a sympathetic quality despite his rough, stereotypically Brooklyn personality.
Timothy acts as the much needed protector in Dumbo's life, standing up for the saddened elephant when others attack him on account of his abnormally large ears. He cares for Dumbo, and truly wants him to succeed in life, save his mother, and prove to the world that he is not some abomination. And with the determination that Timothy's famous for, the duo manage to accomplish just that. Not only does he acts as Dumbo's manager and motivator, but as his closest friend, and for a while, his only friend.
It should be noted that all of Timothy's actions in the film are clearly driven by his sympathy for Dumbo. After seeing the poor elephant abused and shunned by the other female elephants, Timothy does not only stand up for him, but takes the young elephant under his wing and sticks by his side throughout the entire film, determined to make him happy again and not once giving up hope. Because of their relationship and the absence of a paternal figure in Dumbo's life, Timothy has been cited by animation historian John Canemaker, as one of Dumbo's surrogate father figures.
In the film, Timothy appears after the Ringmaster locks away Dumbo's mother. He eats out of a discarded bag of peanuts, looking with mild scorn at the other circus elephants while they gossip about Mrs. Jumbo and how she was locked away. They mention that they do not blame her, and that it was all the fault of Dumbo, with "ears only a mother could love." Timothy voices to himself that he finds the ears cute, and watches as Dumbo approaches the other elephants, who give him the cold shoulder. The little elephant walks away sadly, and Timothy, upset by the elephants' cruelty, walks into their midst and effortlessly terrifies them due to being a mouse, mocking and scaring them in the process. Afterwards, he goes to try to cheer Dumbo up, but the little elephant is also scared of him. After a failed attempt to bribe him with a peanut, Timothy earns Dumbo's trust when he says that working together, they may free his mother.
Timothy tells Dumbo in order to get his mother out, he must become a star. He struggles to think of an idea for it, but fails until they hear the nearby ringmaster talking to one of his workers about an idea he has: the "pyramid of pachyderms" act, but he fails to think of a climax. Timothy, seeing an opportunity, goes to the ringmaster while he sleeps and poses as his subconscious, tricking him into make Dumbo his climax by having him jump off a springboard and onto a platform at the top of the pyramid. The Ringmaster awakens, thinking it is his own idea, and does so. When the time comes for Dumbo to go out, Timothy ties up his ears in a bow to prevent him from tripping on them, and when Dumbo shows stage fright, he jabs him with a pin to make him run towards the springboard. On his run, however, the bow comes undone, he trips and flies past the springboard onto the ball that the elephants are balanced on. The elephants lose control and roll wildly around the big top, the guests all fleeing before them, and Timothy watching the events with one eye covered. The ball rolls towards Dumbo, who flees, but trips again. All of the elephants go flying, injuring all of them, and breaking down the big top.
In the next town, the ringmaster demotes Dumbo to a clown, putting him through a humiliating act. Timothy scrubs him off afterwards and cheers him up by helping him visit his mother. They are happy to see each other, and Timothy looks on with contentment, but the visit lasts only a short time before Timothy must take Dumbo back to the circus grounds. Along the way, he tries to convince a crying Dumbo to pull himself together, telling him that crying would only give him the hiccups. Immediately after saying that, the elephant begins to hiccup, and Timothy leads him to a nearby bucket of water, into which the clowns dropped a bottle of champagne earlier in the evening. Timothy has Dumbo drink the water, holding his breath before swallowing it, and speaks of how they were going to turn their luck around all the while, stopping his speech only when he sees that the water failed to cure Dumbo's hiccups. Timothy looks at the water curiously, but falls in, emerging drunk several seconds later. The two amuse themselves for a short while as Dumbo blows bubbles, but then begin seeing Pink Elephants. The night's events are ambiguous as the Pink Elephants have their parade, but in the morning, elephant and mouse are asleep on a high tree branch, observed by a group of crows.
The leader of the crows, Jim Crow, comes down to find out what they were doing, awakening the mouse. Timothy struggles with consciousness until Jim calls him "brother rat," taking offense to that immediately. Jim points out that they are in a tree, and Timothy anxiously goes to wake Dumbo. The elephant panics upon realizing that they are so high up, and both of them fall into a pond. The crows fall out of the tree laughing, and Timothy grumpily tells Dumbo to ignore them, and they begin heading back to the circus. Before walking more than a few steps, Timothy begins to wonder how they got in the tree in the first place, quickly rejecting the options of Dumbo climbing or jumping up. Jim jokingly suggests that they flew up, and Timothy is fast to jump on the idea, telling the surprised elephant that he flew, that his ears were perfect wings. The crows find the idea hysterical, and sing "When I See an Elephant Fly". An infuriated Timothy berates them, and tells them Dumbo's story. The crows are moved to tears when they hear it, and Timothy turns his back on them before resuming his path to the circus. Jim stops him after a few steps, apologizing to him and offering to help Dumbo learn to fly. He quietly confides to Timothy that what they need is a little "psychology", and plucks a feather from the youngest crow before handing it to Timothy, telling him to use the magic feather. Timothy understands what he implies, that the feather is a placebo that should help increase Dumbo's confidence and make him fly again.
The crows push Dumbo to the edge of a cliff, where Timothy instructs Dumbo to begin flapping his ears like wings. It seems to do nothing but stir up a cloud of dust, but when it clears, Timothy looks down, and sees that Dumbo actually is flying. The crows laugh with joy as they see that they had succeeded, and they and Timothy share a laugh at how the people at the circus were in for a surprise. Back at the circus, Dumbo is back in his act as a clown, poised at a very high platform. Timothy looks down at the watching crowd, encouraging Dumbo and saying that they were on the threshold of success. He confirms that Dumbo has the magic feather, and then instructs him to jump at his cue. As they fall, Dumbo loses hold of the magic feather, and Timothy panickily tries to convince him that it was just a gag, and that he had the power to fly without it. He pleads for him to open his ears, and at the last minute, the elephant complies. Ecstatic, Timothy directs and watches as Dumbo shows his skills before the circus, paying back the elephants, clowns, and ringmaster for their treatment towards him. Dumbo's fame skyrockets, and Timothy's last appearance shows that he has become Dumbo's manager, signing a Hollywood contract for him.
Timothy has recurring appearances on the television series House of Mouse. He appears with Dumbo, the crows, and the Pink Elephants and many other famous Disney characters.
In "Donald Wants to Fly", he teaches Donald how to fly like with the "Elephants".
In "Pete's House of Villains", he joins the others in to saying "We want Mickey!".
Timothy and Dumbo make an appearance in the opening sequence of the 1950s television series Mickey Mouse Club.
Timothy is not a meetable character in the Disney theme parks, although his likeness is a staple with attractions and theming based around Dumbo. The most notable of this is the Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction, which features a Timothy figurine at the high top of the structure. His voice (with newly recorded dialogue by Chris Edgerly) is also heard throughout the perimeter. Originally, the Timothy figurine held a whip, but it was later changed to the "magic feather.
In China, Timothy and Dumbo lead off the daytime parade, Flights of Fantasy.
Timothy and Dumbo are represented by a statue that adorns the stern of the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.
- Timothy is the second "sidekick character" in the animated features, after Jiminy Cricket.
- It is believed that Timothy is able to communicate with humans, as he managed to convince the ringmaster about Dumbo's stunt.
- He was a character which inspired people to create another mouse character almost like him, known as Mouse in Goliath II.
- The animation of this character scaring the elephants was recycled for use in Goliath II for the scene with the Mouse scaring the elephant herd.
- While trying to comfort Dumbo, Timothy says, "Lots of people with big ears are famous!" According to animation historian John Canemaker on the 2001 DVD release commentary, the line was recognized by audiences of 1941 as a reference to Clark Gable. The line was also featured in the original theatrical trailer.
- Timothy is a replacement for Red the robin from the original novel. He was used because elephants are supposed to be afraid of mice.
- No one in the film ever said this character's name; it was only shown at the end of the film where it is seen in writing.
- The creepy shadow that Timothy makes when approaching the sleeping Ringmaster was a reference to the vampire in the 1922 film Nosferatu.
- When Timothy was walking while leaving Dumbo when he was hiding in the haystack Timothy was whistling to "Casey, Jr."
- He is entirely absent in the 2019 remake.