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Scariness is the true measure of a monster. If you're not scary, what kind of a monster are you?"
~ Dean Abigail Hardscrabble

Dean Hardscrabble (full name Abigail Hardscrabble) is an anti-hero of Monsters University. She was voiced by Helen Mirren.

Personality

Hardscrabble is the archetype of a strict and no-nonsense school headteacher, and not so easily pleased. She is not afraid to point out somebody's shortcomings and even lightly taunts students who do not impress her. At the same time, however, she believes in fair circumstances, as she is angered when one of the teams in the Scare Games cheats and when Sulley admits that he rigged the machinery on the last event to help Mike win. But despite her harsh exterior, the climax of the film depicts Hardscrabble as capable of a certain degree of sympathy. After Mike bravely makes a bet with her and indeed surprises her at the end of the Scare Games, Hardscrabble warms up to both him and Sulley, and is visibly upset at the idea of expelling them from the university, and does her best to encourage them and wish them the best of luck in the future.

While Hardscrabble is far from evil or malicious, it is entirely possible for her to be seen as the main antagonist of the film, given that she is Mike and Sulley's primary opponent in the film, in a similar vein to Anton Ego.

Role

Dean Hardscrabble is first seen flying into Professor Knight's classroom, causing all of the lights in the room to go out with a single flap of her wings. Hardscrabble then tells all of Prof. Knight's students (including Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan) that they all have to complete a final exam so that they can enter the Scaring Program or else they will be kicked out of the program. Unfortunately, Mike, despite wanting to be a scarer very badly, is unable to scare anyone. And Sulley, despite already being scary, never studies or completes his homework. Because of this, Hardscrabble sees Mike and Sulley get into a big roar-off, ending with both monsters accidentally breaking the dean's prized scream canister. Despite staying calm about it, Hardscrabble has the two both kicked out of the School of Scaring.

However, Mike and Sulley find out that the only way to get back into the School of Scaring is to compete in the Scare Games with a fraternity of rejected monsters called Oozma Kappa. And as a result, Mike makes a deal with the dean that if they and OK win the Games, he and Sulley will be readmitted to the program. But if they lose, they will have to leave the school forever. During the Scare Games, Dean Hardscrabble is secretly watching Mike and Sulley competing from afar, aware that they are both going to fail. But after OK wins the Games when they beat Roar Omega Roar in the final round with the scare simulators, Sulley tells Hardscrabble that he cheated by setting Mike's simulator level to easy just to make OK won since to him it's a no-win situation for them otherwise due to Mike's inability to scare. The dean orders him to leave the campus when all of a sudden, she is alerted that Mike had secretly snuck into the door lab, prompting Sulley to go there to save his friend. Hardscrabble then shuts down the door in question, which led to a cabin at a campsite until the authorities arrive, but Mike and Sulley manage to escape back by scaring several human adults in the form of a team of police officers.

Hardscrabble then has both Mike and Sulley expelled from Monsters University permanently, but was sad to let them go because their actions, while considered as a major offense to her school, ended up surprising her. As Mike and Sulley leave, Hardscrabble catches them at the exit and encourages them to "keep surprising people," wishing them luck in the process.

Trivia

  • Both Elsa from Frozen and Abigail Hardscrabble act as antagonists and later redeem themselves (even if they are not villains).
  • Both Dean Hardscrabble and Sergeant Calhoun act as strict people. While Hardscrabble takes authority in school, Calhoun takes authority in Hero's Duty.
  • In some ways, Hardscrabble appears to be the complete opposite of Waternoose and Lotso from Toy Story 3: while both Lotso and Waternoose appeared friendly and kind-natured they are actually cruel and evil; Hardscrabble appears stern and unpleasant but she is actually caring and benign, and is therefore an ally to Mike and Sulley.

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