Five Fantasy Frogs and Toads Who’ve Hopped Into Our Hearts

In the past, we’ve covered some excellent SFF lizards and reptilian characters. I’ve also discussed tortoises and turtles, which some say go all the freakin’ way down. Now, it’s time to hop over to the world of amphibians, and specifically frogs and toads (but not specifically Frog and Toad). Fictional frogs and toads are sometimes depicted as simple hippity-hopping amphibians, happily croaking away and snapping up flies; then again, they can run the gamut from a likeable, laidback character like Kermit to the boastful and wild Mr. Toad of Toad Hall, and it’s been said that if you kiss enough of them, you might find yourself in the presence of royalty…

Today I want to talk about five particular frogs and toads from movies and television who’ve made the leap onto my list of weird, intriguing, and memorable fantasy characters…

Greg’s Frog and Others, Over the Garden Wall

Greg’s frog is given many names throughout the series, as our charming young protagonist attempts to find the perfect name, sometimes changing his mind more than once over the course of an episode. The frog—who some believe is the narrator of Over the Garden Wall—is dubbed “Kitty,” “Wirt,” “Wirt Jr,” “George Washington,” “Doctor Cucumber,” and “Skipper,” among various other monikers.

This particular frog is one of many we meet as Greg and his brother Wirt travel through the strange landscape of the Unknown on their quest to get back home. The sixth episode, “Lullaby in Frogland,” sees the brothers board a steamboat carrying a crowd of anthropomorphic amphibians: the crew and other passengers are all frogs wearing dresses, suits, and uniforms. Greg’s frog (called George Washington, then Doctor Cucumber in this episode) breaks into song to the surprise of the boys, serenading the revelers with a dreamy melody. Like many of the show’s whimsical elements, we’re given little explanation or backstory for Greg’s frog (or the fact that he can suddenly take on the rule of crooner, though we never see him talk)—and I think that’s nifty. The frogs and other memorable characters the boys encounter in the mysterious Unknown are presented without any heavy-handed attempts to translate the dream logic and imagery for the viewer, and it makes for a unique sort of escapism.

Bait, The Dragon Prince

I love Bait, perhaps because he reminds me of my cat—slow and bumbling until it’s time to act. The similarities stop there because Bait has saved the day more than once, while my cat has done nothing of the sort.

Prince Ezran’s glowtoad is the epitome of what a fantasy animal companion should be. He’s sweet, caring… a bit grumpy, but always steadfast and loyal. In the course of some daring adventures, Bait’s ability to emanate sunlight saves the heroes from certain doom. Bait is almost never the first line of defense (and he occasionally gets lost in all the action), but when he kicks into high gear, you’ll be thankful he came along. Plus, he loves jelly tarts—a  toad after my own pastry-craving heart!

Toad, X-Men

Before the MCU, before even Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, there was X-Men: In the year 2000 (and onward), my youthful appetite for anything nerdy or superhero-focused was satiated by repeat viewings of X-Men. My favorite character? You betcha—Toad.

While not a frog or toad in the literal sense, Toad’s mutant powers are pulled straight from the amphibians’ arsenal: a long, prehensile tongue, slimy goo he can spit at enemies, and incredible leaping abilities. Since the release of X-Men, there’s been a criminal lack of frog- or toad-based superheroes, and I want more. Why won’t Hollywood recognize this gap in the market? Certainly, it can’t be that X-men’s Toad was the best of all possible options—as much as enjoyed the character, his demise at the hands of Halle Berry’s Storm is, well…less than glorious.

Jamack, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

Dapper and sharp-tongued, Jamack is one of Kipo’s most capable foes, though he’s so much more than a simple antagonist. He’s such a dynamic character that it’s difficult to do him justice. Let’s start with the fact that this frog sports a snappy tailored suit and a jaunty little mustache. Rad, right?

Jamack (along with his fellow Mod Frogs, also dressed in ’60s-style suits and skinny ties) starts out as an adversary in the series. He’s a kinda-sorta Zuko-type character (for those of you familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender), chasing Kipo and turning up at inopportune moments to try to capture our protagonist.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts isn’t content to let characters stay stagnant, however. Like much of the cast, Jamack undergoes quite a lot of growth throughout the series, eventually finding a begrudging respect for Kipo. The story takes him to new heights later on, though I won’t spoil how that all turns out…

The Hypnotoad, Futurama

Finally, we come to the Hypnotoad, one of the weirdest and darkest entries on this list. It’s interesting that while I tend to think of most SFF amphibians as on the side of good (or sometimes neutral), three out of the five characters on this list have a darker side, although Toad and Jamack are both complicated. The Hypnotoad, on the other hand, is a law unto himself. The creature hypnotizes anyone who gazes at his pulsating, glowing eyes, mesmerizing sheep, humans, and aliens alike into doing his bidding. Its hypnotic powers turn sinister when it leads people to violence or forces them to write articles praising the might of the Hypnotoad, greatest of all SFF amphibians…

In the Futurama universe, Hypnotoad even has its own TV series, “Everybody Loves Hypnotoad.” The show—a simple broadcast of Hypnotoad sitting relatively still and staring directly into the camera—ran for three seasons. ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD!!!

Honorable Mentions

My slimiest, froggiest props go to Slippy Toad of Star Fox fame, who was certainly a contender for a spot on the list but didn’t quite make it. Also, while I wanted to turn the spotlight on some lesser-known SFF characters in this article, let’s never forget the classics: the aforementioned Frog and Toad, Kermit the Frog (and his nephew Robin), who star together in the Muppets’ delightful retelling of The Frog Prince), and Mr. Toad from Wind in the Willows—and finally Looney Tunes’ star (and former mascot of The WB) Michigan J. Frog.

I hope you’ve found this article absolutely ribbiting, and please feel free to share your own favorite fictional frogs, toads, and other amphibians in the comments! icon-paragraph-end

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