The Beagle Boys are a repugnant group of thugs from the Scrooge McDuck universe. They are a gang of criminals who constantly try to rob Scrooge McDuck. Their introduction and first appearance was in Terror of the Beagle Boys, in Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #134, although in this story they only appear in the last frame and have no lines. They appear again in the next issue in a similar fashion, in The Big Bin on Killmotor Hill. They first get a more prominent role in the later story Only a Poor Old Man. They and their mother Ma Beagle also appeared as major antagonists in the Disney animated series DuckTales, both the original and its 2017 reboot.
Beagle Boys in comics
The Beagle Boys made their first appearance in the 10-page story The Terror of the Beagle Boys (WDC #134) that was first published in November 1951. Although the Beagle Boys are only shown very briefly on the last page of this story, it is implied that Scrooge has known about them for a long time. The first story to feature the Beagle Boys in a major role is Only a Poor Old Man from March 1952, which serves as a template for virtually all future Beagle Boys appearances, and establishes them as a serious threat to steal Scrooge's fortune.
The Beagle Boys are usually depicted as a gang of about six to ten members, who are similar in appearance and personality, and without an established leader. However, sometimes the Beagle Boys are led by their grandfather, Blackheart Beagle (prison number 186-802). The Blackheart character originates from two characters created by Carl Barks: Blackheart Beagle, a riverboat pirate from The Fantastic River Race and Grandpa Beagle, who appeared in The Money Well. Don Rosa later combined the character into one in chapters 10 and 11 of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. According to Rosa, Blackheart Beagle semi-retired in 1947, following a failed attempt at robbing Scrooge's money bin.
According to Don Rosa's Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, Scrooge first met The Beagle Boys in his Mississippi riverboat days, circa 1880. Those Beagle Boys included Blackheart Beagle and his three sons. Scrooge first met the modern Beagle Boys during Christmas 1947, which was when he first met his grandnephews Huey, Dewey and Louie and met his nephew Donald for the second time. Since then the Beagle Boys have been a constant threat to Scrooge's huge money bin.
The three most common numbers on Beagle Boys prison tags are 176-167, 176-671, and 176-176. In fact, no digits other than one, six, or seven appeared on their prison ID tags. Carl Barks used to include the words "Beagle Boys Inc" on their shirts under their numbers, which was later deleted.
According to one of Don Rosa's stories, the Beagle Boys have been known by their prison numbers since their childhood, and they don't even know their real names themselves. (Their parents do know their real names, but demand a bribe from their sons to let them know.) Also according to that story, Blackheart Beagle doesn't remember his sons' names.
In the Barks/Rosa universe, the Beagle Boys have almost identical personalities, but one of the members (176-167) is known to be very fond of prunes, a weakness that proves to be the Beagle Boys' downfall in some stories. The Beagle Boys usually operate on their own, but collaborated with Magica De Spell in the 1963 Barks story Isle of the Golden Geese, and again in the 1997 Don Rosa story A Little Something Special where they also teamed up with Flintheart Glomgold.
In all comics, the individual Beagle Boys are referred to by their prison numbers, indicated on the tags seen on the chests of their distinctive orange or red shirts. The original depictions by Barks in American comics always showed the Beagle Boys with orange shirts. European comics recolored these same Barks drawings to show Beagle Boys in red shirts. Subsequent European comic depictions of the Beagle Boys by artists other than Barks also showed them in red shirts, as did the DuckTales cartoons.
In later years, they appeared in the comics as a trio (some combination of the most common numbers with 176-167, 176-671 and 176-761), plus cousins and other relatives of various talents as spin-off characters. They live in a small tumbledown hide-out in Duckburg; in 1980s American-produced stories, their pet cat Ratty often lived there as well. In the Italian stories, they are sometimes accompanied by their pet dachshund, 64, who shares their criminal mindset, but it is often overcome with 64's constant, voracious appetite.
Sometimes they team up with other villains such as Magica De Spell, Black Pete, Mad Madam Mim, or hire out their services to Flintheart Glomgold or John D. Rockerduck. During these occasions they continue to operate out of their own interests rather than their employers. The Beagle Boys make cameos in the Darkwing Duck episode "In Like Blunt", where they are among the villains bidding on a list of S.H.U.S.H.'s secret agents.
Many other authors use a character purely based on The Money Well version as the Beagle Boys' grandfather. In particular, Italian authors use a "Grandpa Beagle" who differs from Blackheart in being much skinnier and constantly smoking a pipe.
Sometimes they antagonize Super Goof, Mickey Mouse, or some other characters from Walt Disney's comic books.
Although the characters are obviously based on dogs, they in no way resemble the actual beagle breed.
Ma Beagle, based on the real-life Ma Barker and the mystification around her, is the mother of the seven common Beagle Boys featured on the original DuckTales series (named Bigtime, Burger, Bouncer, Baggy, Bankjob, Bugle/Bebop, and Babyface) and the clan matriarch. She often smuggles hand grenades, chainsaws, and other tools in baked goods which easily pass prison security to help her sons escape from jail.
Although she's far more competent then her children the Beagles never succeed because Scrooge McDuck and his nephews always outwit them. However, in most of the episodes she appears in (especially in the first season), she is able to avoid being arrested along with her sons; that way, she will be able to bust them out the next time she appears. (This trait notably seems to disappear in the later seasons. In the second season premiere, Time is Money, it is implied that she was eventually arrested; when Big Time disguises himself as an elderly woman, Burger initially mistakes him for Ma, saying "She must've broke out of jail!" Additionally, two episodes in the show's later seasons, The Bride Wore Stripes and New Gizmo-Kids on the Block, end with Ma Beagle going to jail along with her sons.) In one episode, she pretended to be "married" to Scrooge, so that she could steal his fortune, but her plans were thwarted by both him and his nephews. She was voiced by the late June Foray, who also voiced Natasha Fatale, Lucifer, Witch Hazel, Witch Hazel (Disney), Sour Kangaroo, Wheezy and Magica De Spell.
Ma Beagle first appeared in the episode "Till Nephews Do Us Part" at the end, but her first significant appearance was in the episode Robot Robbers. Since then she has become a recurring character. She appeared more frequently in the second season than in the first.
64 is the Beagle Boys' pet dachshund. Like his masters, he wears a red shirt and a green cap, marked with the number 64. The Beagle Boys frequently take 64 along on their robberies, to act as a guard dog and to reach spaces too small for the Beagle Boys themselves. However, the plans are often spoiled by 64's constant, voracious appetite. Whenever 64 smells food, he abandons everything else to get to eat it.
Beagle Boys in DuckTales (2017)
In the 2017 reboot of DuckTales, the Beagle Boys are separated in several different gangs who follow a theme as revealed in the episode "The Beagle Birthday Massacre!".
The Original Classics consisted of Bigtime, Burger, and Bouncer Beagle who were in the original series. They debuted in the episode "Daytrip of Doom!" where they kidnapped Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby and held them for ransom.