Movie Lists

14 Famous Film Characters in the general public Domain for Anybody to Utilize

Characters from books, films, and even Greek folklore have actually ended up being a part of the general public domain.

When it pertains to precious imaginary characters, copyright laws are typically at play; these laws are implied to secure the innovative works of artists, lawfully critical who can benefit from an imaginary character’s similarity and story. Yet, some precious characters are exempt from these terms and join what’s called the public domain, a term that describes all innovative works that are exempt to copyright laws. Simply put, characters in the general public domain are offered for anybody to utilize and adjust the method they choose.

Upgraded Jan. 6, 2024: This post has actually been upgraded with extra material, consisting of the awaited public domain status of Steamboat Willie.

Throughout the years, characters from books, films, and even ancient folklore have actually ended up being a part of the general public domain. From Tarzan to Thor, we’ll check out a few of the most widely known motion picture characters who have actually given that gone into the general public domain, and state the stories that assisted make these characters home names.

Mickey Mouse

As Portrayed in Steamboat Willie

Steamboat Willie Mickey Mouse
Walt Disney Studio

What is potentially the most popular residential or commercial property to go into the general public domain just recently needs to be that of Disney’sMickey Mouse Particularly, we’re describing the representation of the character included in Steamboat Willie, an animated brief initially produced in 1928. This brief presented Mickey Mouse to the world as a replacement for Oswald the Lucky Bunny, whose ownership rights were directly with Universal Pictures rather of Disney. While it’s not technically the very first Mickey Mouse brief ever produced, it would end up being the very first to be extensively dispersed, on account of it being among the very first animated shorts to include a soundtrack in post-production.

Mind you, public domain status uses to Steamboat Willie and Steamboat Willie alone. Comparable to how Winnie-the-Pooh went into the general public domain in the last few years, it is essential to remember that particular representations of a character do fall under legal defense– which is why you will not see Winnie-the-Pooh using a renowned red t-shirt anywhere aside from Disney, for example. The exact same uses here. Just this specific iteration of Mickey Mouse, down to its precise information, has actually formally gone into the general public domain; not the character as a whole.

Jay Gatsby

The Mystical Face of The Excellent Gatsby

Jay Gatsby is a highlighted character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless tale,The Great Gatsby Though the book was launched in 1925, Jay Gatsby ended up being a part of the general public domain in January 2021, almost 100 years after the hotshot was presented to the general public. Perhaps among the most widely known pieces of American literature, and a staple of American high schools all over, The Excellent Gatsby narrated the exploits of the titular Jay Gatsby, a strange millionaire, through the eyes of Nick Carraway. The book itself is a vast assessment of American culture in the middle of the Roaring Twenties, painting a broad photo of social class divides, examinations of the American Dream, and the socioeconomic intricacies converging the 2.

Among the most acknowledged adjustments of The Excellent Gatsby was the titular 2013 movie directed by Baz Luhrmann, where Leonardo DiCaprio played the function of Jay. Here, Jay was revealed to be as stunning and love-struck as ever; with Luhrmann’s hectic camerawork and distinct visuals, the timeless character was provided brand-new life set versus a background of flashy sets and modern music. A lesser-known adjustment of the movie was launched in 1974 too, with Robert Redford wearing the function of Jay and Francis Ford Coppola penning the movie script.

Peter Pan

The Young Boy Who Never Ever Matured

Today, Peter Pan is extensively acknowledged due to Disney’s renowned representation of the character in 1953’s Peter Pan, with his signature voice being offered by Bobby Driscoll. The character might not require an intro for a lot of, however in case you run out the loop, we’ll offer a short summary. Notoriously called “the young boy who declined to mature,” Peter Pan is a fun-loving young boy whose experiences in the wonderful Neverland are filled with a range of supernatural animals and sea-faring travelers. He’s typically seen taking a trip along with fellow kid Wendy Beloved, Neverland’s many Lost Boys, and the wicked Captain Hook.

Nevertheless, the young boy who declined to mature stemmed from Scottish author J.M. Barrie years before Disney had the opportunity to adjust the story. Disney’s 1953 movie was particularly adjusted from Barrie’s titular play, which was initially released in 1904. A subsequent novelization launched in 1911, in addition to a total mess of intermingling copyright laws and extensions, kept the initial work under legal covers for years. That is, other than for the parts that weren’t safeguarded. We will not simplify here, as there’s just excessive legalese to cover in so couple of sentences. Luckily, you will not need to fret about these differences any longer, as 2024 formally brought the initial Peter Pan play into the general public domain.

Movies that feature Peter Man consist of 1991’s Hook, 2003’s Peter Pan, and 2023’s Peter Pan & & Wendy Hook is probably among the most fascinating representations of the character, showing the strengths of public domain flexibilities by analyzing Peter Pan as a totally grown adult. Though the movies all inform a special story, each applies to the initial characterization of Peter Pan.


The Guy Raised by Apes

Tarzan is a character who was initially produced by respected author Edgar Rice Burroughs. Debuting in the 1912 unique Tarzan of the Apes, Tarzan is a guy who was raised by apes after a freak mishap leaves him alone and susceptible in the jungle. The subsequent books in the series, along with Disney’s titular adjustment in 1999, display Tarzan’s problems in browsing the cultural divides in between the jungle and civilization.

Though a lot of might acknowledge Tarzan by means of Tony Goldwyn’s efficiency in Disney’s movie, the character has actually seen a variety of adjustments. A 1960s tv series saw Ron Ely depicting the character, albeit with a bizarrely beautiful hairstyle. Other live action adjustments, like The Legend of Tarzan, with Alexander Skarsgård, put a stern edge on the character. He’s a character who is as interesting as he is athletic, making him a fantastic addition to both the general public domain and the innovative world.

The Wizard of Oz

The Excellent and Effective

Because its release in 1939, The Wizard of Oz has actually certainly sealed itself as a timeless movie, based upon the initial story by L. Frank Baum. Nevertheless, the titular character is maybe among the most interesting elements of the story; as the almighty and effective ruler of Oz, this wizard is revealed to be among the best, most wonderful beings in the land. Yet, as the story goes, the wizard ends up being absolutely nothing more than a typical male, definitely efficient in offering guidance however not juggling. He is a complex however relatable character who is essential to any story that occurs in the land of Oz.

Though the 1939 variation of The Wizard of Oz is still strongly under copyright defense, the characters included in the initial L. Frank Baum story, consisting of Oz himself, remain in the general public domain. Naturally, due to a non-traditional copyright judgment, you’ll need to make some extreme innovative discrepancies when portraying them on the cinema. You can discover an example of this in Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful, a movie that occurs prior to the occasions of the very first Oz unique. In this movie, James Franco plays a more youthful Oz in an origin story for the character. A wide variety of other Oz adaptations are currently in development.


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Mad Hatter

The Manic Host

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has actually certainly seen its reasonable share of cinematic adaptions. Yet, among the most polarizing characters is definitely the Mad Hatter, a zany tea-party host who uses a special stovepipe hat. He is among numerous vibrant characters Alice encounters on her journey through Wonderland, with a variety of renowned representations bringing the character to life on the cinema.

Disney produced both an animated and live-action adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, each of which takes the Mad Hatter in a various instructions. For instance, Ed Wynn’s representation of the character in the initial 1951 Alice in Wonderland depicted him as a jolly, if not manic, tea lover. Johnny Depp’s representation of the character in the 2010 Alice in Wonderland is a little toned-down, in addition to including a few of Depp’s quirks. Nevertheless, both films display the character as being extremely unforeseeable, tense, and sometimes wacky. The Mad Hatter is completely suitabled for a world called Wonderland, bringing the correct amount of kookiness to any circumstance.


The Powerful Demigod

Hercules is the very first character here who stems from Greek and Roman folklore, maybe making him the earliest character on this list. In truth, the character is so old that he existed before copyright laws even existed, making him instantly exempt from laws of this kind. If you require a refresher, Hercules is the kid of Jupiter and Alcmena, a demigod whose monolithic strength is unequaled by even the best of Gods.

The character got his own cinematic release in 1997 via Disney’s Hercules, where he was depicted by Tate Donovan. Nevertheless, the character has actually seen numerous innovative reworks both in movie and tv. Dwayne Johnson even put his own spin on the character in 2014’s Hercules, which was directed by Brett Ratner. He’s a character who provides himself well to a variety of stories, whether they’re embeded in ancient times, or positioned strongly in the contemporary.

Queen of Hearts

The Zany Ruler of Wonderland

Verna Felton as the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Walt Disney Productions

Another Alice in Wonderland addition to this list, the Queen of Hearts, is the despotic ruler of the imaginary Wonderland. Understood for her love of all things red, the Queen of Hearts definitely has an explosive mood that she flaunts in a not-so-graceful method. Mind you, she’s not to be puzzled with the Red Queen, who was a main bad guy in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass The character is the primary villain in the initial Lewis Carroll story along with in Disney’s timeless adjustment, being voiced by Verna Felton. Like the formerly discussed Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts is as zany as her Wonderland equivalents, triggering problem and turmoil all over she goes.

King Kong

The Threat of Skull Island

King Kong is a character who has actually been around for years. From his very first look in 1933’s King Kong all the method to 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong, the enormous ape-monster has actually terrified innocent civilians, the many predators on Skull Island, and the cinema for almost 100 years throughout more than a dozen films.

Today, King Kong is a pop-culture phenomenon, being among the most identifiable motion picture beasts to this day. Whether he’s scaling the Empire State Structure or fighting it out with Godzilla, this is one unforeseeable monster you do not wish to tinker. His legal standing as a public domain character, nevertheless, is more than a little complex. Without entering years of legalese and court fights, the novelization of the initial King Kong movie, which was initially produced in 1932, is strongly within the general public domain.

Robin Hood

Robin of Loxley

Robin Hood is another old character on this list, stemming from English folklore that goes back centuries. A skilled swordsman and archer, the character’s origins differ substantially, however a couple of typical qualities can be discovered throughout. The character is best understood for taking from the abundant to provide to the bad, wearing green garments, and fighting the Constable of Nottingham.

The character has actually been utilized in a plethora of movies and tv programs. Among the most well-known depictions of Robin Hood is the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Burglars, starring Kevin Costner, which follows the titular character as he works to secure his kingdom. Ridley Scott would offer the character a comparable story in 2010’s Robin Hood, with Russell Crowe portraying the well-known character. Nevertheless, other variations of the movie reveal the character in his normal brave personality, like Disney’s 1973 movie Robin Hood

Ebenezer Scrooge

The Callous Focus of A Christmas Carol

Ebenezer Scrooge is the primary lead character in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Naturally, that’s not to recommend that he’s a hero. Ebenezer Scrooge is understood for his signature expression “bah humbug,” his ominous outlook on life, his harsh mindset around the vacations, along with his capability to review his actions and alter for the much better. He is an extremely made complex however eventually redeemable male who discovers his lesson after being gone to by 3 ghosts on one really unique Christmas Eve.

Scrooge has actually seen lots of screen time in films like 2009’s A Christmas Carol and 1970’s Scrooge, with a lot of representations of the character sticking to Charles Dickens’ initial work. Disney’s Scrooge McDuck notoriously takes after Dickens’ initial development, who likewise values wealth and service success.

Frankenstein’s Beast

A Scary Icon

The majority of beasts from Universal’s classic monster movies were based upon public domain productions, however maybe the most significant is Frankenstein’s Beast The character was initially produced by author Mary Shelley in 1818, and has actually given that been reimagined by contemporary filmmakers and manufacturers. Frankenstein’s Beast, typically incorrectly reduced to simply Frankenstein, was produced in a lab by a mad researcher by means of the body parts of the departed, culminating in a story whose influence on the scary category is still felt to this day. In popular culture, a lot of associate Frankenstein’s Beast with Universal’s 1931 representation of the character, with his green skin, neck bolts, and unique walk.

Though Universal might own the rights to the most renowned representation of Frankenstein’s Beast, that’s not to state that he hasn’t been seen in other movies and programs. Herman Munster, initially played by Fred Gwyne, turns Frankenstein’s Beast into an adorable comedy daddy in The Munsters Aaron Eckhart depicted a variation of Frankenstein’s Beast in I, Frankenstein, a well-meaning however economically not successful take on the character that turned him into an action hero.


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The Norse God of Thunder

Today, Thor may be called the adorable, amusing Avengers hero played by Chris Hemsworth. Nevertheless, unlike a few of the other Marvel superheroes, Thor stems from Norse folklore and hence exists in the general public domain. Referred to as the kid of Odin, Thor is acknowledged for his strength, massive power, and brave mindset, in addition to his magnificent hammer, Mjölnir. He is the Norse God of Thunder, working to secure the Earth and perform brave tasks.

In the popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor is revealed wielding his magnificent hammer and combating along with the best superhero league worldwide. Naturally, Thor isn’t limited to simply the world of comics. Thor, and by extension other Norse gods, have actually been reinterpreted in lots upon lots of tv and movie productions given that the medium’s creation. A popular current example would remain in the Netflix anime series Record of Ragnarök, which takes more than a couple of innovative liberties with the character’s initial representation.

Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle’s Famous Investigator

Sherlock Holmes is maybe among the most well-known public domain additions of perpetuity. Developed by author Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is a London-based investigator, understood for his is capability to split hard investigative cases, his periodic stimulant usage, and his respected competition with James Moriarity. If you take pleasure in a program or movie including mystery-solving or criminal examinations, there’s more than a great chance that Holmes has actually had a direct impact on it. Some programs can even be translated as a spiritual adjustment of Sherlock Holmes, without straight utilizing the character. For instance, the character of Gregory Home in Home, aside from making regular allusions and recommendations to Holmes’ stories, likewise shares numerous comparable qualities with him.

Sherlock Holmes has actually been the star of numerous theatrical releases, a lot of which center on his eager eye and capability to resolve detailed secrets. A few of his most popular representations in current memory consist of Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance in BBC’s Sherlock, along with Robert Downey Jr.’s efficiency in 2010’s Sherlock Holmes A comical analysis of Holmes was likewise played by Will Ferrell in 2018’s Holmes & & Watson, albeit to blended evaluations.

The character has actually given that ended up being a cultural icon, understood for his pipe-smoking and signature tweed coat. Today, Sherlock Holmes is now able to be easily re-imagined by any studio seeking to tackle his story; just time will inform what brand-new works are produced.