This is the next major Disney character to enter public domain

92nd Annual 6ABC Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade
92nd Annual 6ABC Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade / Gilbert Carrasquillo/GettyImages

Earlier this year, both Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse entered the public domain. Well, technically it was the earliest version of these characters as they appeared in the 1928 animated short Steamboat Willie.

Despite not looking like its contemporary counterparts, the Steamboat Willie version of Mickey and Minnie is still iconic and definitely recognizable. As both characters are now in the public domain and no longer protected by strict copyright laws, artists are now free to use these characters for various projects.

What we've seen so far though are generic, low-budget horror takes on Steamboat Willie. Hopefully, as time passes, we get a few more creative spins on the characters and not just quick cash-grabs on the name.

Looking ahead though, more of Disney's iconic characters will be entering the public domain. So who's next?

This major Disney character enters public domain in 2025

While lesser-recognized Disney characters will be entering public domain in the coming years, the next major character will be Pluto. Mickey's beloved pet dog made his debut in the 1930 animated short The Chain Gang.

In the short, Pluto, who was unnamed at the time, was one of two bloodhounds who were used to help track down Mickey after his escaped from prison. Pluto wasn't named until the 1930 short The Picnic, but even then he was called "Rover." Pluto didn't get his official name that we know him as today until the 1931 short film The Moose Hunt.

Like Mickey Mouse, Pluto has gone through multiple transformations over the years. I'm going to assume that Disney holds several copyrights for the character and its different designs.

All of this to say, it's expected that the unnamed version of Pluto from The Chain Gang will be entering the public domain in 2025, while the other versions will remain protected for at least a few more years. I hope if anyone chooses to take advantage of Pluto entering the public domain, they do so in a creative way and not just push out another lame horror film.