In Disney's The Princess and the Frog (2009), the shadow man, arguably the best Disney villain, is named Dr. Facilier. If he is an actual doctor, what is he supposed to be a doctor of? Or does he take the title of Doctor because he is the epitome of a New Orleans witch Doctor?

Actual production evidence only please, no speculation.

2 Answers 2


First off, it's notable that Dr. Facilier is actually the only one in the entire movie that uses the name, and the rest just calls him the 'Shadow Man'. Also, there is no explanation for his name in his fictional character history (as far as I found, at least).

Second, while he is most certainly a bokor, sometimes known as a (voodoo) witch doctor, this is by no means sufficient explanation for his name.

In an interview with the directors John Musker & Ron Clements, Muskers has said the following:

"Dr. Facilier was originally Dr. Duvalier but we didn’t want to confuse him with the ruler of Haiti with that same name."

They changed his name to avoid confusion, but it appears Dr. Facilier was still heavily inspired by this 'ruler' of Haiti [called a dictator by others], François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier. Papa Doc also stylised himself after the Vodou loa Baron Samedi, and revived Vodou traditions on Haiti. Baron Samedi is characterized by the top hat, black tail coat etc., just like the Shadow Man wears. Duvalier actually studied medicine and worked as a physician, and was called 'Papa Doc' by his patients.

I would say that the 'Dr.'-part in 'Dr. Facilier' is mostly based on Papa Doc, but it also works with the whole 'witch doctor'-thing. I'm aware this is not definitive proof, but based on the available evidence, I can't think of anything else that makes sense.

  • While he's the only one that uses the name in the movie, that's his official name out-of-universe by Disney. So it must be his real title/name.
    – cde
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 20:52
  • 1
    I'm not trying to say in any way that the name isn't real, just that there is little context for its usage in the film. So, for example, none of the characters referred to him as a doctor, or the doctor. If they did call him Dr. Facilier, it might have provided a more definitive answer, that's all. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 21:52

Tiana is openly contemptuous of him styling himself as 'Doctor' Facilier.

The only thing she did notice was Dr. Facilier's place. She always walked a little faster when she passed his shop. As far as Tiana knew, 'Doctor' Facilier had never healed anyone. His trade was in working with spells and potions. Tiana had often heard old folk say that there was plenty of magic in New Orleans, but not all of it was good.

Disney's The Princess and the Frog: Junior Novelisation

The film's Essential Guide refers to him as a...

"...doctor of bad magic" [note, not capitalised]

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