Henchman

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"Robin Shoots with Sir Guy" by Louis Rhead. Illustration to Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band: Their Famous Exploits in Sherwood Forest: Guy of Gisbourne acts as the Sheriff of Nottingham's henchman

Henchman referred originally to one who attended a horse for his employer, that is, a horse groom. Hence, like constable and marshal, also originally stable staff, henchman became the title of a subordinate official in a royal court or noble household. It is now used to generally describe any person with subordinate status derisively, while most often used specifically to a hired guard or minion of a villain or master criminal.

Etymology[edit]

The first part of the word, which is recorded in English since 1360, comes from the Old English hengest, meaning "horse", notably stallion, cognates of which also occur in many Germanic languages, such as Old Frisian, German and Dutch hengst. The word appears in the name of Hengest, the Saxon chieftain, and still survives in English in placenames and other names beginning with Hingst- or Hinx-. It was often rendered as Henxman in medieval English.

Young henchmen, in fact pages of honour or squires, rode or walked at the side of their master in processions and the like, and appear in the English royal household from the 14th century until Tudor Queen Elizabeth I abolished the royal henchmen, known also as the children of honour.

The word became obsolete for grooms in English from the middle of the 17th century, but was retained in Scots as "personal attendant of a Highland chief". It was revived in English by way of the novelist Sir Walter Scott, who took the word and its derivation, according to the New English Dictionary, from Edward Burt's Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland, together with its erroneous derivation from haunch. The word is, in this sense, synonymous with gillie, the faithful personal follower of a Highland chieftain, the man who stands at his master's haunch, ready for any emergency.

The modern sense of "obedient or unscrupulous follower" is first recorded 1839, probably based on a misunderstanding of the word as used by Scott, and is often used to describe an out-and-out adherent or partisan, ready to do anything.

Modern examples[edit]

The phrase henchman is also used as a pejorative for any sort of political underling or to present others as such. Thus it was used for associates of President George W. Bush,[1][2] e.g. by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.[3] Likewise, it was also used against associates of the former U.S. President Bill Clinton.[4] Rebekah Brooks has been described as the henchwoman of Rupert Murdoch.[5]

Members of the SS, or any of Adolf Hitler's staff, are often called "Hitler's Henchmen",[6] a phrase used as the title of a book by Guido Knopp and a television documentary.

In popular culture[edit]

Henchmen (occasionally henchlings) are common in mystery, fantasy, adventure comic books, and adventure novels and movies. They are the expendable adherents of the main villain, always there to do the master's bidding, to kill or be killed, kidnap, or threaten, as needed. Often, they are killed by the hero before the master villain is reached, by the hero's sidekick in a dramatic battle, or even by the master villain as punishment for failure to comply with orders. They also may switch sides during the course of the story to ally with the hero. Alternatively, they may be forgotten in the heat of the climax when the master villain is defeated, then killed when they reappear in the denouement for one last scare or even promoted to master villain for a sequel.

Henchmen are often abused and insulted by the villain for their incompetence, or for his pleasure; indeed, some abused henchmen take revenge after the villain's final defeat at the hero's hands, so that the henchman rather than the hero actually kills the villain. Henchmen in this sense are also sometimes called lackeys, toadies, or mooks (with the latter term more often used for lesser minions of the villain).

Not all henchmen are dimwitted, expendable employees of a villain. Sometimes, they may be of an equal social standing or at least have a high intelligence or social standing of their own, thus being valued more like a right-hand man. In such cases, they may command groups of more expendable thugs. This is common in ensemble casts where often the leading villain remains behind the scenes. Being granted a large amount of autonomy, intelligent henchmen often have their own agendas and may also covet the leading villain's position, and they often attempt to betray the villain in order to obtain it. Some henchmen even serve the hero, such as in Star Trek.

While the term is masculine, female henchmen are not unheard of. However, many of them typically serve only as the male villain's lover, rather than actively take part in the schemes. Usually, there is, instead, an additional male accomplice for the purpose of criminal business. A female accomplice is more often called a "moll."

A henchman might also be the non-player character follower of a player character in role-playing games. This henchman will follow the player around and assist in various manners.

In fiction, such heroic supporting characters are normally portrayed in a more positive light, tied to the hero by bonds of friendship and loyalty and are usually called sidekicks; the villain's supporters are called henchmen or minions because of their evil nature, which implies that such personal bonds are difficult to establish. However, some darkly comedic heroes have sidekicks of a more subservient nature; though these relationships are often a form of "tough love" or even just a condescending affection, the henchman is in this case usually known as a minion.

Henchman Villain Source
Alistair Smythe The Kingpin Spider-Man: The Animated Series
Allan Rastapopoulos The Adventures of Tintin
Allen O'Niel General Morden Metal Slug series
Alpha, Beta, Gamma and other dogs Charles F. Muntz Up
Amanda Young and Mark Hoffman Jigsaw Killer Saw franchise
Ardala Valdemar (reimagined as Princess Ardala for the 1979 Buck Rogers TV series) Killer Kane original Buck Rogers serials
Armand and Mr. Richards B.J. Wert Mannequin
Bane Poison Ivy Batman & Robin
Baroque Works Crocodile One Piece
Bartok Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin Anastasia (1997 film)
Baxter Stockman, Rocksteady and Bebop, Tokka and Rahzar The Shredder and Krang Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series
Bitzy and Snitzy Allegra the Crocodile Episodes that feature Allegra in Animalia
Bob the Goon and Goons The Joker Batman
Borachio and Conrade Don John Much Ado About Nothing
Boskov Bear, Major Dr. Ghastly and General Skarr Hector Con Carne Evil Con Carne
Brick, McKibble, Squint, Jungle Bob and The Ninja Doctor Claw Inspector Gadget 2
Brian Freezer, Zizrar, Mittens and Albert Wacko Johnny Test
Bubba Dr. Wasabi Chop Socky Chooks
Buzz, Delete and Digit (former henchman) The Hacker Cyberchase
Butters Stotch Eric Cartman South Park
California Highway Patrol Steven Jacobs Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Candlehead and Rancis Fluggerbutter Taffyta Muttonfudge Wreck-it Ralph
Captain Ginyu Frieza Dragon Ball Z
Card Soldiers and King of Hearts Queen of Hearts Alice in Wonderland
Chess and Kuromarimo Wapol One Piece
Chew, Kuroobi, Hatchan, Mohmoo Arlong One Piece
Chi-Chi Tony Montana Scarface
Chip and Skip Edward Platypus Camp Lazlo
Cody and Harold Heather Total Drama World Tour
Commander James Kent, Veck's gang Veck Simms Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Count Dooku Palpatine Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Coyotes Dag Barnyard
Darth Maul Palpatine Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Darth Vader Palpatine Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi
Delightful Children From Down The Lane Father Codename: Kids Next Door
Destro, The Baroness, Tomax and Xamot, Storm Shadow, Major Bludd, Zartan, Dreadnoks, Doctor Mindbender, Scrap-Iron, Firefly Cobra Commander G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero
Devi Devi Piyoko/Pyocola Analogue Panyo Panyo Di Gi Charat
Diablo the Raven and the Goons Maleficent Sleeping Beauty
Doctor N. Gin Doctor Neo Cortex Crash Bandicoot series
Doktor Frogg, Red Menace, Doomageddon and Henchbots Voltar League of Super Evil
Dosun, Zeo, Daruma, Ikaros Much, Hyouzou, and Hammond Hody Jones One Piece
Dr. Indigo and Scarlet Shiki One Piece Film: Strong World
Drake's Little Stooges Drake The Pebble and the Penguin
Ducks Mother Goose Pet Squad
ED-209 and Clarence J. Boddicker (separately) Dick Jones Robocop
EPA agents Russ Cargill The Simpsons Movie
Escargoon King DeDeDe Kirby: Right Back at Ya!
Esmeralda the Rat Quasimodo Wilson Hotel Transylvania
Evil-Lyn, TrapJaw, Tri-Klops, Beast Man, Mer-Man Skeletor Masters of the Universe
Excel, Hyatt and Elgala Il Palazzo Excel Saga
Fidget, Thugs and Felicia Professor Ratigan The Great Mouse Detective
Flotsam and Jetsam Ursula The Little Mermaid
Funkfreed, Rob Lucci, Kaku, Jabra, Kumadori, Fukuro, Kalifa, Blueno Spandam One Piece
Flying Monkeys and Winkie Guards Wicked Witch of the West The Wizard of Oz
General Grievous Count Dooku Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
General Klump & Krusha King K Rool Donkey Kong Country
General Klytus Ming the Merciless Flash Gordon (1980)
GIR Zim Invader Zim
Glumshanks Kaos Skylanders series
GO-4 AUTO WALL-E
Goblins Jareth the Goblin King Labyrinth
Gonzargo, Rodrigo, Goblin King and Scat Barnaby Crookedman Babes in Toyland (1997 film)
Gonzorgo and Roderigo Barnaby Babes in Toyland (1961 film)
Darth Vader Grand Moff Tarkin Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Grem and Acer Professor Z Cars 2
Grover Dill Scut Farkus A Christmas Story
Gunter the Penguin Ice King Adventure Time
Harley Quinn The Joker Batman: The Animated Series
Henchman #21 and Henchman #24 The Monarch The Venture Bros.
Hugo Victor Victor and Hugo, Bunglers in Crime
Iago Jafar Aladdin
Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon Bonaparte, Al Capone Kamunrah Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian
Jango, Sham and Buchi Captain Kuro One Piece
Jango Fett Count Dooku Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Jara, Noxic, and Typhus Vexor Big Bad Beetleborgs
Jasper and Horace Cruella De Vil 101 Dalmatians
Jaws Karl Stromberg and Hugo Drax The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, respectively
Jessie, James, Meowth, Wobbuffet, Butch, Cassidy, Professor Namba, Tyson, Domino, Team Rocket Grunt Troopers Giovanni Pokémon
Kagura, Kanna, Hakudoshi Naraku Inuyasha
Kalibak, Desaad, The Parademons Darkseid The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians and SuperFriends: The Legendary Super Powers Show
Kamek, The Koopalings, Bowser Jr. Bowser Mario series
Karen Sheldon J. Plankton SpongeBob SquarePants
Karen and Gretchen Regina George Mean Girls
Karl and Theo Hans Gruber Die Hard
Killer and the bad dogs Carface All Dogs Go to Heaven: The Series
Kroenen and Ilsa Haupstein Rasputin Hellboy
Killer Kane Princess Ardala Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (role reversal from the original 1930s Buck Rogers serials)
Klutzy the Crab Herbert P. Bear Club Penguin
Knuckles Clavius the Magician The Swan Princess II: Escape from Castle Mountain
Kodos Kang The Simpsons
Kronk Pepikrankenitz Yzma The Emperor's New Groove
Lawrence, Shadow Spirits and Voodoo Masks Dr. Facilier The Princess and the Frog
Lefou Gaston Beauty and the Beast
Legs, Louie, and Johnny Tightlips Fat Tony The Simpsons
Leopold Scary Gary Scary Gary
Lickboot the Lawyer, Ferdinard the Dogskate Aunt Figg Tom and Jerry: The Movie
Lock, Shock and Barrel Oogie Boogie The Nightmare Before Christmas
Luca Brasi Vito Corleone The Godfather
Lucifer Count Baltar Battlestar Galactica
Mariano Rajoy José María Aznar People's Party (Spain)
Marmosets Nigel Rio
Mary & the ACME Co-Workers Mr. Chairman Looney Tunes: Back in Action
Max The Grinch How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Megatron The Fallen Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Megavolt, Bushroot, Quackerjack and Liquidator Negaduck Darkwing Duck
Meowlody and Purrsephone Toralei Stripe Monster High
Mini Audrey II Pod Offspring Plants Audrey II Little Shop of Horrors in the song "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space"
Mister Smee and the Pirate crew Captain Hook Peter Pan
Mohji, Cabaji, Richie, Alvida, Galdino Buggy the Clown One Piece
Monet, Vergo, Smiley, Scotch and Rock Caesar Clown One Piece
Mr. Chun and Mrs. Chun Captain Bill Fawcett The Pacifier
Mr. Willard Tweedy and the dogs Mrs. Melisha Tweedy Chicken Run
Muttley Dick Dastardly Wacky Races and Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines
Muscle Man and Hive-Five Ghost Benson Regular Show
Mystique Magneto X-men films
Nazgûl Sauron The Lord of the Rings
Nightmares Sir Pitch Black Rise of the Guardians
No-Neck and Zitzy Ken Urban Vermin
Norm Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz Phineas and Ferb
Oddjob Auric Goldfinger Goldfinger
Orson Vulture, Seymour Spider and Stupid Bat Wilhelmina W. Witchiepoo H.R. Pufnstuf
Ohm, Satori, Shura, Gedatsu, and Yama Ener One Piece
Otis Lex Luthor Superman: The Movie and Superman II
Pain and Panic Hades Hercules (1997 film) and Hercules: The Animated Series
Pinky Brain Pinky & the Brain
Pinter Dorkus Planet Sheen
Piter De Vries, The Beast Rabban and Feyd Rautha Vladimir Harkonnen Dune
Porche, Hamburg, Itomimizu, Capote, Pickles and Big Pan Foxy the Silver Fox One Piece
Possum Gator Pack Bat Sylvanian Families
Prince Lotor (Prince Sincline) King Zarkon (Emperor Daibazaal) Voltron: Defender of the Universe (Golion)
Private Public, Angry Scientist and Plot Device General Specific Sheep in the Big City
RandomTask, Mini-Me, Frau Farbissina, Number 2, Scott Evil, Fat Bastard, GoldMember Dr. Evil Austin Powers series
Razer, Zillius Zox, Veon, Skallox, Cleric Loran, Ragnar and Bleez Atrocitus Green Lantern: The Animated Series
Reccoa Londe & Sarah Zabiarov Paptimus Scirocco Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam
Rey Za Burrel Gilbert Durandal Gundam SEED Destiny
Roberto Johan Liebert Monster
Samy Garvin Lucius Henouis the VII Jimmy Two-Shoes
Sanderson and the Pixies H.P. The Fairly OddParents
Sardinian kidnappers Mason Verger Hannibal
Sauron Morgoth The Silmarillion
Scott and Stretch Nightmare Train The Little Engine That Could (2011 film)
Scratch, Grounder, Coconuts, Sleet, Dingo, Decoe, Bocoe, Cubot and Orbot Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik Sonic the Hedgehog series
Shego Doctor Drakken Kim Possible
Shenzi, Banzai and Ed Scar The Lion King
Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, Enos Strate and Cletus Hogg Boss Hogg The Dukes of Hazzard
Shtarker Siegfried Get Smart
Sinestro, Black Manta, Cheetah, Giganta, Toyman, the Riddler, Bizarro, the Scarecrow, Captain Cold, Solomon Grundy, Gorilla Grodd, Brainiac Lex Luthor Challenge of the Super Friends
Skull Kid Majora's Mask The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Skullmandos Skullossus League of Super Evil
Slinkman Scoutmaster Lumpus Camp Lazlo
Smiley and George/Todd Professor Moriarty Sherlock Hound
Sour Bill, Wynchell and Duncan King Candy Wreck-it Ralph
Spicer Lovejoy Caledon Hockley Titanic (1997 film)
Spike and Whitey, Ladykiller, Thimblenose Ted, Fat Barry, Le Frog and the Henchfrogs The Toad Flushed Away
Squatt and Baboo, Goldar, Finster, Scorpina and the Putty Patrol Rita Repulsa Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Staff Officer Black, General Blue,White and Copper Commander Red Dragon Ball
Starscream and other Decepticons Megatron Transformers
Starscream, Soundwave, Shockwave and other Decepticons Megatron The Transformers (TV series)
Stiletto Baron Silas Greenback Danger Mouse
Stinkbert Strut Turbo Dogs
Sugar and Spice Two-Face Batman Forever
Sykes and Kramer Doctor Claw Inspector Gadget (1999 film)
The dogs Napoleon Animal Farm
The four Crows, the Peddler, the Subway's monsters, Poppy-Girls and the Winged Monkeys Evillene The Wiz
The Pigs Cyril Sneer The Raccoons
The Ruffians Professor Pester Viva Pinata
The Stabbington Brothers Mother Gothel Tangled
The Venom army Andross Star Fox 64
The Wickersham Brothers and Vlad Vladikof Sour Kangaroo Horton Hears a Who!
Toon Patrol Judge Doom Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Travis Servalan Blake's 7
Troller, Mack, Zack Barnaby Barnicle Babes in Toyland (1986 film)
Twinrova Ganondorf The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Tyrone Pablo The Backyardigans (Race to the Tower of Power/Garbage Trek/Break Out)
Unnamed and Charlie Dr. Two-Brains WordGirl series
Villainous Vultures Mal Total Drama All-Stars
Walt, Larry, and Igner Mom Futurama
Walter Boggis, Nathan Bunce, Mrs. Bean and Rat Franklin Bean Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wart, Mole, Mepps and Snout Fat Cat Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers
Waylon Smithers Montgomery Burns The Simpsons
Wendell Happy Chapman Garfield (film)
Weyoun Female Changeling Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Wolf Boss Lord Shen Kung Fu Panda 2
Wolves Black Wolf The Flight Before Christmas
Xerxes the Eel Mozenrath Aladdin
Xigbar, Xaldin, Saïx, Demyx, Luxord Xemnas Kingdom Hearts II
Zant and King Bulblin Ganondorf The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Zarbon and Dodoria Freeza Dragon Ball Z

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

Sources