What Exactly Are Minions, Anyway ?

Here’s everything you need to know about the internet’s favorite characters.


You see them in memes, on t-shirts, toothbrushes, and more. They’re why your kid loves bananas. Minions have been everywhere since they first premiered in Despicable Me in 2010 and are breaking records in The Rise of Gru in theaters now. But... what’s their deal exactly?

Minions have existed for hundreds of millions of years.

In Minions, we see these little guys evolved naturally, leaving the primordial ocean exactly as they are today. They’ve been on Earth for at least 65 million years, since their first “boss” was a T-Rex.

Minions live to serve villains.

Yet while they need to attach themselves to bad guys — becoming depressed and listless when they are without a “boss” — they aren’t bad guys, but are generally playful, fun-loving, and good-natured.

They vary in height but are shorter than most humans.

While they all look fairly similar, there’s a wide variety of Minion designs (more on that in a bit). Judging from where they stand compared to the humans on screen, we can assume they’re usually between 2 and 3 feet tall.

They speak “Minionese.”

According to Minions directors Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, “Minionese” is mostly gibberish, but uses a variety of real words from different languages, including English, French, Korean, Italian, Japanese, and more.

Three different actors have voiced “the Minions.”

In Despicable Me, Coffin, co-director Chris Renaud, and actor Jemaine Clement are credited with providing voices for Tim, Dave, and Jerry respectively. But since then the task of giving these little guys a voice has fallen exclusively on Coffin.

There are a lot of Minions.

Coffin is credited with voicing at least 899 different Minions, and that’s as of Despicable Me 2, whose movie poster depicts 10,400! (Though there’s “only” 48 different Minion designs, according to reporting from Bustle.)

The original Minions had a very different look.

According to Coffin, the original idea for Gru’s minions would have had them as big, “orc-like brutes.” But as the story went on, they get smaller and cuter as a way to encourage the audience to sympathize with Gru.

There were other designs as well.

Vanity Fair reports that Coffin, Renaud, and art director Eric Guillon had a couple of ideas in-between orc and adorable minion, including short humans, robots, and a synthesis of robots and the Minions we know today.

There are evil Minions.

In Despicable Me 2, we saw how a special serum, PX-41, was able to morph these pleasant little guys into chaotic, unstoppable purple monsters.

Minions: The Rise of Gru is breaking box office records.

The fifth installment of the Minions/Despicable Me franchise earned $127 million in its opening weekend, surpassing Transformers: Dark of the Moon by over $10 million.

Teens on TikTok have celebrated with “Gentleminions” meme.

Some theaters have complained that well-dressed teenage movie-goers have become unruly (in Minionese), though we think, at heart, “Gentleminions” is an adorable meme. After all, they grew up on these movies!

Minions' success is in their simplicity.

Coffin has described the Minions as “the essence of animation.”

“You don’t need words as long as you’ve got a sense of what’s happening ... you get carried by what these characters are expressing through emotion."

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