Mickey Mouse has entered the public domain — or at least his original version has. The cartoon mouse first appeared in Steamboat Willie in 1928, which means it entered the public domain in 2024. And, as has become a tradition for beloved characters entering their copyright-free era, there are already dozens of weird knockoffs and parodies of Disney’s most famous mascot.
Just two days into the new year, there are already quite a few video games and movies taking advantage of the Mickey Mouse likeness. Of course, the vast majority of these are horror-themed, since making the Disney Mascot a murderer has a pretty clear anti-Disney appeal. And turning classic children’s characters into monsters when they hit the public domain is starting to become a tradition. One example is Mickey’s Mouse Trap, a film that seems to have been made in anticipation of the character’s copyright expiring, which features the mouse as a slasher villain.
On the video game side of prepared-for-January-1 projects, there’s Infestation 88, a co-op survival horror game that sets players against a deformed version of Steamboat Willie’s Mickey Mouse.
There are also projects that have been announced but don’t have trailers yet, like Steven LaMorte’s untitled horror movie that will set a murderous Mickey loose on the unsuspecting passengers of a steamboat.
However, despite the laundry list of imitations and re-imaginings that have popped up already (and are sure to appear in the next few months), far and away the best use of Steamboat Willie going into the public domain is that you can now watch it on YouTube.