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Igor, or sometimes Ygor, is a stock character, a sometimes hunch-backed lab 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 movies and horror movie parodies and is traditionally associated with mad scientists, particularly Victor Frankenstein; 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 in those films not an assistant. Notably, Frankenstein has neither a lab assistant nor any association with a character named Igor in the original Mary Shelley novel from 1818.
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.
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.
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.
In other media
- The 1960s novelty song "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers mentions Igor: "The scene was rockin', all were digging the sounds / Igor on chains, backed by his baying hounds".
- The Alice Cooper album Love it to Death features the song "Ballad of Dwight Frye", which is loosely based on Fritz's character.
- The fifth album released by hip-hop artist Tyler, the Creator titled Igor refers to both the stock character and the urban colloquialism for genius.
Film and television
- In the Three Stooges short "A Bird in the Head" (1946), a mad scientist has a gorilla named Igor as well as an assistant named Nico who regularly uses the phrase "Yes, master."
- A different version of Igor named “Karl” appears in the Hammer horror film The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) portrayed by Oscar Quitak as the hunchback and by as the monster Michael Gwynn. This version is a hunchback assistant to Victor Frankenstein who rescues him from a death sentence and assists him in his new creation. Karl eventually dies and becomes the film’s version of Frankenstein's monster.
- The 1970s PBS children's show The Electric Company featured a disheveled lab assistant named Igor (portrayed by Jim Boyd and later by Luis Avalos) who served a character known simply as "the Mad Scientist" (portrayed by Morgan Freeman).
- In the Canadian sketch show The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (1971), Igor (portrayed by Fiska Rais) is the burly, bumbling, green-skinned assistant of Count Frightenstein. His catchphrases are "Yes, master" and "I'd rather not get involved."
- Igor is featured in Mad Mad Mad Monsters (the "prequel of sorts" to Mad Monster Party?) voiced by Allen Swift impersonating Peter Lorre. He is the assistant of Baron Henry von Frankenstein, and covets the Bride that Frankenstein creates for the Monster.
- Mel Brooks's parody Young Frankenstein (1974) included a hunchbacked assistant portrayed by Marty Feldman who claimed his name is pronounced "Eye-gor" (in response to Frankenstein's claim that his name is pronounced "Fronkunschteen").
- In The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), the character of Riff Raff (portrayed by Richard O'Brien) is a hunchbacked servant of Dr. Frank N. Furter (portrayed by Tim Curry). He serves as a lab assistant in the doctor's attempts to create life. In The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again, Riff Raff is portrayed by Reeve Carney.
- The Doctor Who television serial The Brain of Morbius (1976), heavily styled after the 1931 Frankenstein film, included an Igor figure in Condo, lumbering deformed servant to Doctor Solon, who collects body parts from crashed spaceships so that his master can build a new body for the disembodied brain of the titular villain Morbius, a renegade Time Lord.
- In the 1970s Canadian sketch comedy series SCTV in their "Monster Chiller Horror Theater" segments hosted by Count Floyd, the mad scientist Dr. Tongue (portrayed by John Candy) had a servile, hunchbacked and deformed assistant named "Bruno" (portrayed by Eugene Levy as Bruno's actor Woody Tobias Jr.) who played to this trope in each of the Dr. Tongue movies.
- Count Dracula had a butler named Igor in ABC's holiday telefilm The Halloween That Almost Wasn't (a.k.a. The Night Dracula Saved the World, 1979).
- In The Transformers episode "Autobot Spike," a Frankenstein movie was shown that an unnamed hunchbacked assistant (voiced by Michael Bell) was in.
- An Igor appears in Return of the Killer Tomatoes, Killer Tomatoes Strike Back, and Killer Tomatoes Eat France portrayed by Steve Lundquist. He is portrayed as a tall, blond, good-looking Yuppie assistant to Professor Mortimer Gangreen (portrayed by John Astin). The character also appeared in the cartoon series voiced by Cam Clarke.
- Igor is the main character in the children's television show Toonsylvania, produced by Steven Spielberg in 1998.
- The cartoon series Count Duckula features the titular character's faithful old family retainer named Igor (voiced by Jack May) who is portrayed as an anthropomorphic vulture (hence the hunched back). Igor is a traditionalist and often schemes to convert his vegetarian master to a diet of blood as was the case with Duckula's previous incarnations.
- In the Super Mario Bros. Super Show episode Count Koopula, King Koopa's most loyal henchman Mouser was portrayed as a hunchback and called himself "Mousigor" as a homage to the original Igor.
- In The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Halloween Town's resident mad scientist Dr. Finkelstein has a hunchbacked assistant called Igor who acts rather like a canine and works for "Bone Biscuits." He helps Dr. Finklestein into creating the skeletal reindeer for Jack Skellington in his plot to improvise Christmas. The character is voiced by an uncredited Joe Ranft in the film and by Rob Paulsen in The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge.
- The movie Van Helsing (2004) included a deformed character named Igor portrayed by Kevin J. O'Connor. In the film, he is the former assistant of Victor Frankenstein and the current assistant of Count Dracula. He is a spiteful, hate-filled man who takes pleasure in harming others, but he is intimidated into helping Gabriel Van Helsing and his allies to acquire a werewolf cure to use for Van Helsing. He and Dracula's bride Aleera both perish during the climax.
- Igor appears in the animated series Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, a cartoon show which is a modern update of the Frankenstein mythos, voiced by Tigger Stamatopoulos.
- In Igor (2008), the main character of the film (voiced by John Cusack) is the former assistant of a now-deceased mad scientist Dr. Glickenstein (voiced by John Cleese). He takes over his master's research and dreams of becoming the most famous scientist in the world.
- Daniel Radcliffe plays Igor in the film Victor Frankenstein (2015) by Paul McGuigan. In this version, Igor is initially an unnamed hunchbacked clown at a circus and a self-taught physician whose skills capture Victor Frankstein's attention after he helps him treat injured acrobat Lorelai. Seeing the hunchback's poor treatment by the rest of the circus, Victor frees him and takes him to his flat, draining the cyst that is the cause of his posture, providing him with a brace to help his posture adjust, and giving him the name "Igor Straussmann" after his currently absent flatmate. Igor goes on to assist Victor in his experiments to create life while falling in love with Lorelai. He regards Victor as a friend despite Victor's various lies (Including the revelation that the original Igor actually died from a drug overdose and Victor has been keeping him on ice to use his organs as part of his experiments). At the film's conclusion, after Igor helps Victor destroy the original creation when it proves to lack the true spark of life, Frankenstein departs to leave Igor to create a new life for himself with Lorelai.
- Igor appears in the 2012 animation series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in the fifth season episode "The Frankenstein Experiment" voiced by Grant Moninger. He appears as Victor von Frankenstein's lab assistant. Disgruntled by his master's impatient treatment of him and jealous that Victor befriended Donatello, Igor betrays him and his new friends, the Turtles, to Savanti Romero and Count Dracula, but gets tossed out of a tower window for his reward. It is unknown if he survived the fall or not.
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, the Überwald region is home to a tribe of hunchbacked lab assistants with speech impediments, to the point that an Igor without an impediment is considered to be an embarrassment; every male is named Igor, while the females are all named Igorina, and are known for literally passing down body parts when their ancestors are deceased.
- The comic book story "Transilvane" (Legends of the DC Universe #22–23, written by Jean-Marc Lofficier and drawn by José Ladrönn) depicts Dabney Donovan, a mad scientist who has created a whole world based on old horror movie characters. In that world, Igor is the servant of the vampire leader Count Dragorin.
- A hunchback named Igor is a recurring character in The Far Side comics, in typical mad scientist or other horror situations.
- In the computer game Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness, Igor is the local gravekeeper and the lab assistant to Dr. Cranium. He happens to be allergic to avocado.
- In the Persona video game series, Igor is a recurring character who assists the main characters by helping them create new Personas, powerful beings based on both their own personalities and figures from mythology and folklore. Igor is usually assisted by characters that also share names with Frankenstein characters.
- In the 1986 video game Castlevania, Igor and Frankenstein's Monster are the boss characters in the fourth group of stages.
- In episode 2 of the 2015 video game Life Is Strange, the main protagonist Max Caulfield refers to the character by saying "Bring me the brain, Igor!" when inspecting the beakers on the counter in the science lab.
- In the 2019 video game Death Stranding, the only named member of the Corpse disposal team is named Igor. Igor's brother is named Victor Frank.
- 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.
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