Scrooge McDuck (1867-1967) is a comic book and cartoon fictional character, created by artist Carl Barks for Walt Disney Corporation. He first appeared in the story "Christmas on Bear Mountain" in December, 1947. He was also cast as the star of the Disney animated series Duck Tales, which aired in the early 1990s and produced several spin-off cartoon series.
Scrooge becomes arguably the richest duck in the world, rivalled by Flintheart Glomgold and John D. Rockerduck, having worked his way up the financial ladder from humble immigrant roots to fantasticillionaire status. He keeps his wealth in a massive money bin overlooking the city of Duckburg. A shrewd businessman and noted tightwad, his hobbies include diving into his money like a dolphin, burrowing through it like a gopher, and throwing coins into the air to feel them fall upon his skull. He is also the richest member of The Billionaires Club of Duckburg, a society which includes the most successful businessmen of the world and allows them to keep connections to each other. Glomgold and Rockerduck are also influential members of the Club.
Keeping all one's money out of circulation is not the best investment strategy. This was addressed in "Scrooge McDuck and Money", a short cartoon released in 1967 that promoted money sense, where McDuck stated to his nephews that the money in his bin is but a percentage of his total wealth. The rest is invested in his worldwide financial empire.
Both as a businessman and as a treasure hunter Scrooge is noted for his need to set new goals in addition to those he has already achieved and face new challenges in addition to those he has already successfully faced. As Carl Barks described his character, for Scrooge there is "Always Another Rainbow". The later phrase provided the title for one of Barks' better known paintings depicting Scrooge. Periods of inactivity between adventures and lack of serious challenges tend to be depressing for him after a while. Some stories depict this phase to have negative effects to his health. In extended periods of them which include his retirement between 1942 and 1947, Scrooge is depicted as even suffering from symptoms of Clinical depression.
Scrooge seems to have a natural talent in learning and speaking the various languages he comes into contact with. In addition to his native English language Scrooge has usually been depicted as being fluent in Arabic, Dutch, Mongolian, Spanish and various dialects of the Chinese language after living for a while in regions of the world where those languages are spoken. Occasionally he is depicted as having at least working knowledge of several other languages.
Scrooge is not formally educated, as he quit school at an early age. However he has a sharp mind and is always ready to learn new skills.
Due to his secondary occupation as a treasure hunter, Scrooge has become something of a scholar and an amateur archaeologist. Starting with Barks several creators of his stories have explained how Scrooge becomes aware of the treasures he decides to pursue. This often involves periods of conducting research in various written sources in search of passages that might lead him to a treasure. Often he decides to investigate for the possible historical truth behind old legends or discovers obscure references to the activities of ancient conquerors, explorers and military leaders that he considers interesting enough to begin a new treasure hunting expedition.
As a result of his researches, Scrooge has collected an extensive personal library which includes many rare written sources. In Barks' and Rosa's stories among the prized pieces of this library is an almost complete collection of Spanish and Dutch naval logs of the 16th and 17th centuries. Their references to the fates of other ships have often allowed Scrooge to locate sunken ships and recover their treasures from their underwater graves. Mostly self-taught as he is, Scrooge is a firm believer in the saying "Knowledge is Power".
As a businessman Scrooge often resorts to ruthless tactics and deception. He seems to have gained significant experience in manipulating people and events towards his own ends. Most often in stories by Guido Martina and occasionally by others, Scrooge is noted for his cynicism, especially towards ideas of morality when it comes to business and the pursuit of set goals. This has been noted by some as not being part of Barks' original depiction of the character but it has since come to be accepted as a valid interpretation of his way of thinking.
However Scrooge does seem to have a personal sense of honesty that offers him an amount of self-control. As a result Scrooge can often be seen contemplating his course of action, while divided between adopting a ruthless pursuit of his current goal and using tactics which he considers more honest. In times he can sacrifice this goal in order to remain within the limits of this sense of honesty. Several fans of the character have come to consider these depictions of him as adding to the depth of his personality, because based on the decisions he takes Scrooge can be both the hero and the villain of his stories. This is one thing he has in common with his nephew Donald Duck and a main difference they have with the generally ethical Mickey Mouse.
Scrooge has a fairly nasty temper and rarely hesitates to use violence against those who provoke his anger. But he is strictly against using lethal force. On occasion he has even saved the lives of enemies who had threatened his own life but were in danger of losing theirs. According to his explanation this is in order to save himself of feeling guilt over their deaths. He certainly awaits no gratitude from them. He has expressed his belief that only in fairy tales do bad people turn good and that he is old enough to not believe in fairy tales.
Although more details are constantly added to this character's biography by many different creators some important "facts" include, but are not limited to, the following:
- 1867 Scrooge born in Glasgow, Scotland to Fergus McDuck and Downy O'Drake. He had an older half-brother, Rumpus McFowl. He would have two younger sisters, namely Matilda McDuck and Hortense McDuck, and a younger half-brother named Gideon McDuck.
- 1877 Scrooge becomes a shoe-polisher but his first customer fools him and pays him with an American dime. He keeps the dime he can't spend as his symbol of success.
- 1880 Scrooge emigrates to the United States. He first meets his uncle, Mississippi riverboater Angus "Pothole" McDuck and the Beagle Boys, a family of outlaws that remain his enemies for the rest of his life.
- 1882 His uncle retires and leaves his riverboat, named Dilly Dollar, to Scrooge. The Beagle Boys destroy the riverboat in an act of revenge. Scrooge decides to try his luck in the West and later in the year gets hired as a cowboy by cattle baron Murdo MacKenzie (an actual historical figure, one of the many that Scrooge met).
- 1883 Scrooge becomes a miner searching for silver and copper.
- 1885 Scrooge's father calls his son back to Scotland on an important family matter. Just a week before he leaves he meets and befriends the millionaire Howard Rockerduck, who had became rich in the Californian Gold Rush of 1849. He also meets Howard's seven year-old spoiled son John Rockerduck. (He will grow to become the Third Richest Duck in the world and one of Scrooge's main rivals.)
- 1886-1889 Scrooge searches for gold in South Africa. During his first year there he saves the life of a duck about his age named Flintheart Glomgold. A little later they become bitter enemies. They remain enemies for the rest of their lives. Flintheart later became the Second Richest Duck in the World.
- 1889-1893 Scrooge returns to the United States to search for gold. He meets many famous historical figures but his search fails.
- 1893-1896 Scrooge goes to Australia to search for gold but his search again fails.
- 1896-1899 Scrooge searches for gold in the Klondike. During his years there he meets the saloon owner, singer and occasional thief "Glittering" Goldie O'Gilt. He continues to have a love/hate relationship with her for the rest of their life. His search for gold succeeds.
- 1899-1902 Scrooge becomes a millionaire and buys a bank. He starts building a small financial empire; by 1902 he has become a billionaire.
- 1902 Scrooge returns to Scotland to get his sisters Matilda McDuck and Hortense McDuck with him. His father dies. His mother and one of his two uncles had already died. Otherwise, the three youths are the last of the clan McDucks. Scrooge settles in the small village of Duckburg, Calisota, U.S.A, which he chose as his homebase.
- 1902-1930 While his sisters remain in Duckburg and run his empire Scrooge travels the world expanding his empire in every continent.
- 1930 Scrooge becomes the richest duck in the world but a fight with his family leaves him with no contact with them for the following seventeen years. Note that during this year he met his ten-year-old nephew Donald Fauntleroy Duck and his nephew's twin sister Della Thelma Duck for the first time. He also met Brigitta McBridge a woman who fell in love with him. They continued to have a love/hate relationship for the rest of their lives.
- 1942 Scrooge feels depressed and tired and decides to retire.
- 1947 Scrooge meets his nephew Donald Duck again and his grandnephews, Della's children, Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck. He decides to become active again and soon a circle of activities whirl around him as he attracts the attention of relatives, old and new enemies and friends.
- 1967 After a life of adventure Scrooge McDuck dies according to Don Rosa's unofficial timelines.