Igor (character)

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A depiction of the malformed Igor.

Igor, or sometimes Ygor, is a stock character, a sometimes hunch-backed laboratory assistant to many types of Gothic villains or as a fiendish character who assists only himself, the latter most prominently portrayed by Bela Lugosi in Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942). He is familiar from many horror films and horror film parodies. He is traditionally associated with mad scientists, particularly Victor Frankenstein, although Frankenstein has neither a lab assistant nor any association with a character named Igor in the original Mary Shelley novel. The Igor of popular parlance is a composite character, based on characters created for the Universal Studios film franchise. In the first Frankenstein film (1931), Fritz served the role; in subsequent sequels, a different physically deformed character, Ygor, is featured, though Ygor is not an assistant in those films.


Dwight Frye's hunchbacked lab assistant in the first film of the Frankenstein series (1931) is the main source for the "Igor" of public imagination, though this character was actually named Fritz. Fritz did not originate from the Frankenstein novel, but instead originated from the earliest recorded play adaptation Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein where he was played by Robert Keeley.[1][2]

Boris Karloff as the monster, Basil Rathbone as Dr. Frankenstein's son Wolf Frankenstein, and Bela Lugosi as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein (1939)

The third and fourth sequel films Son of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) featured a character named Ygor portrayed by Bela Lugosi. This character is neither a hunchback nor a lab assistant, but a blacksmith with a broken neck and twisted back as the result of a botched hanging. He reanimates the Monster as an instrument of vengeance against the townspeople who attempted to hang him for grave robbing. He survives a near-fatal gunshot and appears in the next film in which his brain is placed in the Monster's body, but the body is rendered blind because Ygor's blood is not compatible with the Monster's blood and it is caught in a chateau fire. Still, the Monster returns in the next few movies: Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, burning to death in that one as well.

Universal Studios actively cemented the idea of the hunchbacked assistant to the "mad scientist" in the Frankenstein film series' The House of Frankenstein (1944) with J. Carrol Naish playing a hunchbacked lab assistant named Daniel.

In the horror film Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), Ivan Igor is the name of the mad wax museum curator. The film was remade as House of Wax (1953), but the name Igor was given to the curator's henchman (Charles Bronson) rather than the curator himself. This character is deaf and mute, rather than a hunchback.

The comedy film Young Frankenstein features the character Igor (portrayed by Marty Feldman), a crazy eyed hunchback who becomes the assistant of Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (portrayed by Gene Wilder), who both their grandfathers coincidentally worked together. The duo began working on creating the monster from the corpse of a hanged criminal and Igor was tasked to steal the brain of Hans Delbrück, however he drops it and finds another one labelled abnormal (which he mistakenly reads "Abby Normal") and takes it, resulting in the monster (portrayed by Peter Boyle) to become unpredictable and runs rampant near the village.

Another Igor appears in Van Helsing (2004), portrayed by Kevin J. O'Connor, who now becomes loyal to Count Dracula and betrayed Dr. Frankenstein.

The film Igor features an assortment of Igors who are servants to multiple mad scientists in the fictional kingdom of Malaria, where they assist their masters to create evil inventions so they could blackmail the world to pay the country billions or they will unleash their monstrosities across the globe. The titular Igor (voiced by John Cusack) was the assistant of Dr. Glickenstein (voiced by John Cleese), who dreams to become a mad scientist himself by creating a monster with the help of his creations Scamper and Brain (voiced by Steve Buscemi and Sean Hayes), however the monster, now named Eva (voiced by Molly Shannon), develops a sweet gentle personality and desires to become an actress.

The film Victor Frankenstein features its version of Igor (portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe) whose abnormality is caused by a cyst on his back that Victor Frankenstein drains.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Behrendt, Stephen C. (2012). "A Hideous Bit of Morbidity": An Anthology of Horror Criticism from the Enlightenment to World War I. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 97. ISBN 978-0786469093. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was adapted for the stage many times, and the first of these interpretations was Richard Brinsley Peake's Presumption; or, the Fate of Frankenstein (1823), which dramatized key scenes from the novel and added Frankenstein's assistant, Fritz, to the mix.
  2. ^ Doe, John (August 2001). "Cast and Characters - Romantic Circles". Romantic Circles. RC. Retrieved September 20, 2018.

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