|“||It's called a "hustle", sweetheart.||„|
|~ Nick to Judy|
|“||If the world's only gonna see a fox as shifty and untrustworthy, there's no point in trying to be anything else.||„|
|~ Nick telling Judy what he learned after being ostracized.|
Officer Nicholas "Nick" Piberius Wilde is the deuteragonist of Disney's 55th full length animated feature film, Zootopia. He is voiced by Jason Bateman as a young adult and by Kath Soucie (who also voiced Phil and Lil) as a child.
Due to his troubled background and harrowing childhood where he tried to be something more than what he was but was met with abuse and bullying because of his race and species, Nick Wilde grew to be cynical and prejudiced himself, and learnt to never show others his vulnerability and aspire to be only what others viewed him as, and there was no point pretending to be anything else. Thus, Nick is sly, shifty, devious, mysterious and cunning, the fitting stereotype of a fox. He has a negative view of Zootopia and animals, predators or prey, who attempt to be something more than their designated social stereotype or what they are, viewing them as wasting their time and energy and Zootopia as an abysmal place where predators and prey live antagonistically rather than in harmony and where dreams come to die.
Beyond his own misfortunes and sad past, Nick is generally sociable, charismatic and wise-cracking. He has stated to knowing everyone and is extremely well-connected throughout Zootopia, especially in regards to its criminal element. He has gotten in trouble because of this, though, as he got on the bad side of Mr. Big, a fearsome crime boss which almost cost his life. It is strongly implied, and even admitted, that he belittles others over their shortcomings to make himself feel better over his own miserable life. Nonetheless, despite his seemingly untrustworthy and uncaring demeanor, Nick can be sympathetic to other people who were downtrodden as he was, defending Judy from the prejudiced Bogo after finally learning of the gravity of the case she was stuck with and continued to encourage and assist her with finding the missing mammals from that point on.
Always brazen and slick, and rarely ever fazed during critical or dangerous events, but with a sly smile and endless charm, he is capable of fooling and hustling others around him without any difficulties and is a master con artist. Being a former criminal himself, Nick is aware of how criminals operate and uses this knowledge to locate the Timberwolves. Nick is also an incredibly cunning and resourceful planner, able to formulate intricate and devious hustles in a rather short period of time, as he was able to manipulate Bellwhether into fully admitting into her involvement of turning fourteen predators savage by pretending to be turned himself by replacing the savage serum pellet with a blueberry and recording said confession with a carrot pen. Nick is quite an astute judge of character as he was able to correctly deduce where Judy was from, what her ambitions were and (what he thought) her future would become instantly after meeting her.
However, Nick would eventually allow himself to be vulnerable and this would create another opportunity for him to be hurt yet again. As no one ever gave him a chance to be something he could have been or believed in him, he became quite touched when someone finally did and was granted an opportunity to become a police officer by Judy. But when she then made unintentional bigoted comments regarding predators to a press conference, he felt extremely hurt and betrayed because he, and many others, were being singled out due to their species again, and by someone he loved and admired it caused him to break his easy-going facade. However, Nick's laid-back attitude also makes him a very quick forgiver and he is not spiteful if he is wronged.
In spite of having a usual collected and unconcerned head, Nick doesn't handle intense situations very well in compared to the likes of Judy, a specialist cop. He is prone to pleading desperately or pessimistically accepting his incoming fate, if he has lost control of the situation but he is still loyal enough to never abandon his friends in times of crisis or otherwise.
Nick also has an intense dislike of muzzles and bigoted mammals because of his bleak history with the like, which can also induce flashbacks or anxiety.
Nick is a fox with a trim build. He's covered in red fur with a cream underbelly up to his muzzle. He has dark auburn fur on his feet, his hands, the tips of his ears, and at the tip of his tail. He has green eyes and a dark purple nose.
Nick's wardrobe consists of a light green Hawaiian shirt, a dark indigo necktie with red-and-blue stripes, and a pair of brownish-gray pants. While helping Judy during her investigation, he wears a junior ZPD badge sticker over the pocket of his shirt, originally a gift from Judy for Finnick before the latter humorously passed it onto Nick. The sticker is removed after Judy's press conference when Nick feels betrayed by her.
After Nick graduated into a police officer, his fox-size uniform is navy blue with sleeves, a high collar and pants with a gold aiguillette and the ZPD insignia on his shoulders, along with having a black tie and a utility belt filled with various paraphernalia. He's also shown wearing police sunglasses.
As a child residing in Zootopia with his mother, Nick had a dream of joining the local Junior Ranger Scouts, for the goal of receiving genuine acceptance. Though he appeared to have been welcomed by the fellow young members, this was not truly the case. Upon "initiation", Nick was ridiculed, brutally beaten, made fun of and muzzled by the other scouts, as a result of being a fox (and the only predator present), which are considered amongst the most untrustworthy and vile species of mammals in Zootopia. After running outside to escape his tormentors, Nick broke down in tears, developing a triggering fear of muzzles and dislike towards prey, and bigoted mammals.
As a result of this experience, Nick vowed to never expose his true vulnerability to others, resulting in the fox presenting himself as stoic and unreachable. He additionally decided that, if the world viewed foxes as nothing more than sly, vile and untrustworthy scoundrels, he should not only accept it, but embrace it, subsequently doing so by becoming a successful con-artist.
At some point during his status as a con-artist, Nick fell in with the feared crime boss Mr. Big, developing a stable partnership with him. Big liked and trusted the fox, welcoming him into his home and even introducing him to his beloved grandmother. However, Nick later took advantage of Big's trust by selling him a very expensive wool rug secretly made from the fur of a skunk's rear end. Feeling betrayed and disrespected, Mr. Big turned Nick away, threatening to kill him if they ever met again.
Nick appears to be well-off by the start of the film, claiming to have made $200 a day since the age of 12 (though the accuracy of these claims is questionable), and often working alongside and splitting the day's earnings with his quick-tempered partner and fellow fox, Finnick.
On an average day, Nick and Finnick were in the midst of their latest scheme. He is first seen snooping about Savanna Central, and eventually entering Jumbeaux's Café, unknowingly being tailed by Officer Judy Hopps, a rookie of the Zootopia Police Department, as she believes Nick, being a fox, is up to no good. Inside the café, Nick is denied service due to his species, though Nick claims he means no harm, and is simply looking to buy a jumbo pop ice-cicleas a birthday present for his son (Finnick, disguised as a toddler). Jerry refuses again, prompting Judy to intervene. She does so by threatening to shut down Jerry's establishment for health code violations, and out of fear, Jerry complies with Judy's demands by allowing Nick to buy the pop. With his luck running strongly, Nick furthers his scheme by claiming to have left his wallet at home, prompting Judy to pay out of sympathy. Nick then thanks Judy for her services, before he and Finnick leave the scene. They head to Sahara Square to further their plot, which is revealed to be an elaborate scheme in which he and Finnick melt down the jumbo pop to create dozens of miniature pops (Pawpsicles), selling them to lemmings at less than the original price, and recycling the popsicles' sticks to sell to mice for construction in Little Rodentia. After the work for the day is complete, Nick and Finnick split the profits and part ways, just before Judy reveals to have witnessed their entire scheme unfold, feeling foolish for having fell for Nick's trickery.
Out of anger, Judy threatens to arrest Nick, but the fox retorts by claiming he's done nothing illegal, having all of the required permits and paperwork in check to allow such schemes to take place. He subsequently berates Judy on her failure as a police officer, and giving her the "reality check" that Zootopia is a not a place where anyone can be anything, but a place where you are who you are. These words strike Judy, and the following day, she becomes determined to prove herself, as her boss, Chief Bogo, also has negative feelings towards a bunny cop. She receives the opportunity when she volunteers to help solve the missing mammals case of Emmitt Otterton, though Bogo only allows her 48 hours to do so, or face resignation. After investigating, Judy finds that Nick had ties to Otterton, and labels him as a witness. She finds both Nick and Finnick in the midst of another scam, and asks information on Otterton's whereabouts, being that Nick sold him a pawpsicle shortly before his disappearance. When Nick refuses to help, Judy threatens to arrest the former for felony tax evasion, which she hustles him into admitting to have committed, using her carrot pen with a voice recording function to do so.
With his luck run out, Nick begrudgingly joins Judy's mission, hoping to retrieve and dispose of the carrot recorder once their job is complete. Nick takes Judy to the Mystic Springs Oasis, a naturalist club, where its owner, Yax, aids them by giving the license plate of the car Otterton was last seen in. Nick then asks for the carrot recorder, believing his role to be fulfilled, but Judy realizes that she cannot run a plate, as she is not yet in Zootopia's system, forcing Nick to do it for her. Nick takes Judy to the DMV, where Flash the Sloth, being a sloth, takes the entire rest of the day to run the plate, as according to plan for Nick. Judy chides Nick on his actions, but the fox merely admits that the idea of her failing is something he relishes in.
When they find the car in Tundratown to be fenced off, Nick comments that Judy must back down as she doesn't have a police warrant to enter the premises, meaning their partnership is over. However, Judy once again tricks Nick by throwing the recorder over the fence, making him rush to get it, thus violating trespassing laws and forcing him into another corner of blackmail. Judy digs under the fence as fast as Wilde can climb, and the two begin searching through the car. Nick soon realizes that the car belongs to Mr. Big, the most feared crime boss in Tundratown, who has a price on his head for a business transaction gone wrong. Nick attempts to escape, only to find himself and Judy captured by Mr. Big's henchmen. They are taken to the crime boss' mansion, where Judy interrogates the arctic shrew, accusing him of being a suspect in Mr. Otterton's disappearance. In response to this and Nick, Mr. Big orders to have the two frozen to death, only to have a change in heart when his daughter, Fru Fru, arrives and explains that Judy saved her life earlier. Mr. Big allows the two to live, and invites them to Fru Fru's wedding as honored guests. There, Mr. Big gives information on Otterton's disappearance, advising that Nick and Judy travel to the Rainforest District, to question a black jaguar named Manchas, the last person to have seen Otterton.
Upon meeting Manchas, Nick and Judy find him in a state of deep fear; the jaguar explains that Otterton had mysterious went "savage" - reverted to a feral state - and attacked him before running off, leaving him with a scarred eye. Manchas also mentions that Otterton had been yelling about "night howlers" in his last moments of sanity, but before he can reveal anything else, Manchas suddenly goes savage himself and chases the two of them. The jaguar eventually corners and nearly kills Nick, but Judy handcuffs him to a pole just in time before they escape. When the police arrive, however, Manchas has mysterious disappeared. Chief Bogo, not believing Judy's story, demands her badge. Nick defends her and asks Bogo for another chance, which he gives our heroine.
Nick and Judy take their leave on a gondola, where Judy thanks Nick for his compassion. Nick then takes to time to explain his rough childhood, his sympathy towards the oppressed, and the reasoning behind his stoic nature and conning lifestyle. He immediately regrets doing this, as he broke his vow to keep his vulnerability under wraps, and makes an attempt to change the subject. Judy merely comforts him on the matter, thanking him for sharing his story. Nick doesn't acknowledge her words, as he suddenly gets the idea to uncover what happened to Manchas by using the city's camera systems, which are plugged into just about every area in each district, with Judy having the connections in City Hall that allows her to accomplish this.
Later that morning, they visit Bellwether, the assistant to Mayor Lionheart, who grants them access to the city's traffic cams. They find that Manchas was captured by wolves (which Judy assumes to be the "Night Howlers"), and Nick cunningly tracks their path through hidden roads to an abandoned hospital outside of town called Cliffside. Judy, impressed by Nick's actions, congratulates the fox, and notes that he has the potential of being a valuable addition to the ZPD, though he brushes this off. Once the two head out, they eventually find an asylum heavily guarded by wolves, and filled with imprisoned predators who have fallen under the "savage" infection. The operation seems to be run by Mayor Lionheart, who Nick and Judy eavesdrop on, learning that he wants to keep the imprisoned predators a secret to prevent public panic, and by extension, protect his job. When discovered, Nick and Judy escape, and report their findings to Bogo, who arrives with his force and arrests Mayor Lionheart.
Following these events, Judy is hailed a hero, and a press conference is held in regards to the situation. Nick advises a nervous Judy to remain calm, and moments before it's time for her to speak to the press, Judy offers Nick a position on the police force as her partner. Nick, touched that someone sees something beyond his species, takes it into consideration, and proudly looks on as she speaks about her latest victory. When asked why the predators have gone savage, however, Judy, at a loss for answers, suggests that it may have something to do with "biology", which is taken as a serious sign that predators are reverting back to their ruthlessly primitive and aggressive ways. Nick takes extreme offense by this, feeling Judy has done nothing but labeled all predators as "savages" which, in technicality, she did. While being confronted on the matter, Judy starts to feel threatened, and actually reaches for her fox repellent, confirming that she, too, sees Nick as a potential savage, much like the rest of the world. A betrayed Nick then leaves the department, declining Judy's offer to join the force.
Following these events, Nick returns to his normal life, reuniting with Finnick and finding himself lounging about in solitude in his spare time. Suddenly, Judy returns with a breakthrough in the case, needing Nick's help to solve it and save the city. Nick declines, which prompts Judy to confess how foolish she's been, and how regretful she is for causing so much trouble while, most importantly, hurting Nick in the process and believes once the case was solved, he can hate her forever and she will live with it. Knowing her words are genuine, Nick forgives Judy, teasingly recording her confession on her carrot recorder, which he held onto. The two then make their leave and track down Duke Weaselton for information. Duke stole unique flowers on Judy's second day in the city, and those flowers were linked to what causes animals to go savage. When Duke refuses to cooperate, the pair bring him before Mr. Big, who threatens to ice him unless he told them what they wanted to know. Duke reveals that the flowers were sold to a ram named Doug, who owns a lab hidden in the subway tunnels. Nick and Judy find Doug, and learn that he is using the flowers to produce a serum which he been exposing to predators via a dart gun, turning them savage. Judy hijacks the lab (which is on a still-functional train) and tries to take the evidence to Bogo. Doug's henchrams pursue, and though they are defeated, the train is derailed and destroyed.
Nick, fortunately, reveals to have saved the evidence containing the dart gun and its night howler toxin ammo, and the two make way to Bogo through the history museum. There, they encounter Bellwether, who is revealed to be the true mastermind behind the villainous operation. She sends her henchrams to capture Nick and Judy, and though they make a break for it, Judy is injured in the process. Nick refuses to leave her, and tries to carry her to safety, only to be thrown into a pit-like exhibit by Bellwether's thugs. There, Bellwether shoots Nick with the savage serum so that he would become feral and kill the injured Judy. Bellwether subsequently calls Bogo to make it all look like another accident, but both Judy and Nick reveal to have got the best of Bellwether, as the bullet was actually just a blueberry. With Bellwether's confession recorded on the carrot pen, Bogo and his force predator and prey reunited arrive and arrest her.
In the end, Judy is reinstated as a member of the Zootopia Police Department. Nick, with a change of heart towards his life, joins as well, as her partner. A ceremony is held, where Judy badges Nick herself, and the two begin their duties immediately afterwards. The epilogue shows that Nick has become a welcomed member of the force, and even a liked companion of Chief Bogo, who gives both Nick and Judy the task of tracking down a street racer, who ironically reveals himself to be Flash, much to Nick's surprise and amusement.
During the end credits, Nick joins Judy and several other Zootopia citizens in attending a concert starring pop star Gazelle.
- Nick was originally supposed to be the main protagonist in the film.
- Throughout the movie, Either Nick or Judy hustled someone. First, Nick hustled Judy after the latter realized that the former tricked her, and later, she hustled him into admitting to have committed a felony tax evasion. Then, near the end of the film, both Nick and Judy hustled Bellwether when Nick switched the serum with Judy's blueberries and pretended to be savage and when Judy pretended to be genuinely scared and recorded Bellwether's confession, ultimately sealing her fate.