- "You know, I went through quite a few supers to get it worthy to fight you, but man, it wasn’t good enough!! After you trashed the last one, I had to make some major modifications. Sure it was difficult, but you are worth it. I mean, after all....... I am your biggest fan."
- —Syndrome when he meets Mr. Incredible for the first time in 15 years.
Syndrome (real name Buddy Pine and formally referred as Incrediboy) is the main antagonist of The Incredibles and a cameo antagonist in Jack-Jack Attack. He is Mr. Incredible's former fan and was Mirage's boss until she turned on him. He was the creator of the Omnidroids, robots designed to kill Supers.
Syndrome stands at 5'7" (not including the height of his hair). He is barrel-chested and weighs 185 lb (83 kg). His red hair extends straight up with a widow's peak in a manner reminiscent of flames. He has fair skin, light freckles, blue eyes, and a barrel chest. The animators had intended Syndrome to be a caricature of director Brad Bird, but it had been debated as to whether they should spoof Bird in their drawing of Mr. Incredible. Ultimately, both Mr. Incredible and Syndrome are pastiches of Brad Bird.
As a child, he was eager and cheerful, if naïve, having great respect and admiration for superheroes, particularly Mr. Incredible, who he claimed was his number one fan. However, after Mr. Incredible rejected his offer to be his sidekick, he stopped idolizing Mr. Incredible and became embittered, eventually descending into megalomania. He developed a personality into adulthood that was sociopathic, sadistic, cruel vengeful, arrogant, ruthless, power-hungry, short-tempered, hateful, and cowardly. Nevertheless, he retained some traits such as charisma and resourcefulness and appeared to still enjoy supers performing impressive feats.
Syndrome is considered to be one of the best Pixar villains in the film for his childish and fanboy sadism, and his need for attention. At some points in the film, he seemed to enjoy having Mr. Incredible and his family performing heroic acts, but that only happens when things are in his control. If something unexpected happens, he cowers and attempts to flee. He can be described as short-tempered, rude, nasty, wicked, murderous, ruthless, evil, cheerful, dangerous, bad-natured, happy-go-lucky, silly and maniacal.
As a young boy, Buddy was in his own words Mr. Incredible's biggest fan, even wanting to become his sidekick, Incrediboy. Buddy is insistent on this and shows up in Mr. Incredible's car unexpectedly and tries to force this on his idol, but Mr. Incredible immediately ejects him from his car and speeds off as Buddy yells at him, begging him to wait. One night, as Mr. Incredible is facing Bomb Voyage, Buddy shows up with a pair of rocket boots to help him. He flies off to get the police, but he doesn't realize that Bomb Voyage had attached a bomb to his cape. Mr. Incredible has to release Voyage to save Buddy. Eventually, Mr. Incredible is angry at the boy for meddling in his affairs and had the police take him home and report his actions to his mother. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Buddy stops idolizing Mr. Incredible and hates him for his actions, even tearing off the huge poster he had of him on his wall in a fit of rage. By now, Buddy has begun to descend into villainy.
Fifteen years later, Buddy becomes a rich and successful weapons designer. No matter how rich and powerful Buddy became, he never forgot about Mr. Incredible and formulated his plans for vengeance. Operating through his agent Mirage, Buddy calls for several superheroes to fight his battle robots: the Omnidroids, as test subjects to ensure that the Omnidroid would be powerful enough to take down Mr. Incredible. All of them are killed by the battle robot and those that defeat it are killed by its successors. Eventually, Buddy deems it ready to fight his ex-idol and has Mirage send for him when the femme fatale discovers Bob's identity and location. Mr. Incredible defeats the robot, but Buddy builds another, more powerful unit, the Omnidroid v.9. The robot defeats Mr. Incredible and Buddy arrives, revealing his identity as the latter is shocked that it was his former fanboy. Buddy declares himself to be Bob's nemesis and better, "Syndrome." Syndrome discusses his past and reveals how he got rich before Mr. Incredible tries to attack him. Syndrome immobilizes him with his zero-point energy invention, laughed that he is almost caught monologuing, and, in a fit of rage, accidentally tosses Mr. Incredible over a cliff with his invention, making the hero land in a river. After tossing a bomb into the water, Syndrome sends a robot probe after him to confirm he was dead. Mr. Incredible manages to trick the probe by hiding behind the corpse of the late hero and activist Gazerbeam.
Mr. Incredible sneaks into Syndrome's hideout and infiltrates his computer and discovers elements of Syndrome's plot: Operation Kronos. Unfortunately, due to a tracking device, Mr. Incredible is caught and held in a high-security trap and torture device. When Syndrome finds out that a government aircraft is coming to the island, he assumes his prisoner has sent reinforcements. When Mr. Incredible denies any involvement, he sends missiles to destroy the plane anyway, not knowing that it was, in fact, the Parr Family.
Even though the missiles hit their mark, the family survives and swims to the island, but Mr. Incredibles thinks his family had been killed. After Mirage tells Syndrome the target was destroyed, he mocks Mr. Incredible, telling him he will get over it since he recalls that Mr. Incredible prefers to "work alone". In a fit of rage, Mr. Incredible lunges toward Syndrome, only to capture Mirage since she pushed Syndrome out of the way to save his life. Mr. Incredible angrily orders Syndrome to release him or he will crush Mirage. Syndrome comments on how uncharacteristically dark that sounds for Mr. Incredible, but dares him to do it. Upon releasing Mirage, Syndrome tells Mr. Incredible he knew he could not do it, even with nothing to lose, denouncing him as "weak" and that he has outgrown him. Later, Mirage calls Syndrome out on his attitude, stating that valuing life is not weakness and disregarding it is not strength. Syndrome assures Mirage he simply called his bluff and implies that he does care about her since he already knew Mr. Incredible would never kill an enemy. Nonetheless, Mirage tells Syndrome to bet his own life next time he gambles and storms off in a huff, leaving Syndrome confused.
Later, Elastigirl breaks Mr. Incredible out of Syndrome's prison and they reunite with their children. Syndrome manages to recapture the family and is surprised that Mr. Incredible had a family with a fellow hero. He later reveals his plan which was to send his Omnidroid v.10 to wreck the city and he would arrive to stop it and look like a hero in the public's eyes. However, when he arrives to defeat the robot with a special remote control, the Omnidroid (which has become self-aware like its predecessor before it) betrays and outsmarts him, knocking Syndrome's remote out of his hands, and shooting at his rocket boots with a laser gun. With his rocket boots out of control, Syndrome smashes into a building and is knocked unconscious. He remains unconscious during the Incredibles' battle and awakes just as the robot is defeated spectacularly; destroying his plans of glory and revenge and infuriating him.
With his plans foiled, Syndrome breaks into the Incredibles' home and tries to kidnap their baby Jack-Jack, to be his sidekick and protege, just as he had been denied in his youth. The family arrives just as he is preparing to leave, and he suspends them and slams them into a table. He then flies up with Jack-Jack towards his manta jet. However, Jack-Jack transforms into his monster form and disables his rocket boots. Syndrome gets back on his jet and starts yelling that their battle was not yet over and he would get him eventually. However, as Syndrome laughs evilly, Mr. Incredible throws his prized sports car at the jet, knocking it off-balance and making Syndrome slide toward the left turbine. Syndrome's cape gets tangled in the spinning blades (just as foreshadowed by Edna Mode) and he is pulled in, resulting in the explosion of the plane. Syndrome is seemingly killed, ending his reign of terror on the Incredibles, avenging Gazerbeam and the other supers he killed.
Powers and Abilities
Syndrome doesn’t have any superpowers, but compensates for it thanks to his intellect and technology.
Intelligence: At a young age during Mr. Incredibles glory years, Buddy showed his amazing abilities with machines by inventing rocket boots. Years went by, and “Syndrome” used his knowledge that countries and armies will pay big money for weapons. Using his mass wealth in purchasing a secret island, security force and rocket science.
Though, he hasn’t gone over his fanboy obsession and revenge scheme. This makes him an unpredictable villain, as well as an entertaining bad boy.
Weapons and Gadgets: Since Syndrome doesn't have powers, he makes up for them by inventing weapons for countries, or for himself.
- Zero Point Energy Gloves - One of his best tools for fighting, the Zero Point Energy gloves literally freezes the targets and removes the gravity making them easy to throw around.
- Rocket Boots - Giving Syndrome the power of flight in order to outpace heroes or look awesome.
- Explosions - Like all mad geniuses, Syndrome has wrist size explosives that act as mines from the first film. As the bomb was beeping in the waterfall, it detonated by touching the bottom. The same way a landmine does after interacting with a vehicle.
- Hovering Wrist Robot - On the field, Syndrome carries a wrist-size hovering robot that can operate underwater and scan for lifeforms. However, it can be deceived through scanning the wrong source.
- Energy Shot - Syndrome shoots a bolt of electric energy that is different from the usual zero-point energy when chasing Mr. Incredible
- Omnidroids - Syndromes best and successful inventions, the Omnidroids were intelligent, multi-armed killing machines specifically designed to kill supers. Learn more about the machine here.
- Before Jason Lee was cast as Syndrome, Joaquin Phoenix was originally considered for the role.
- When Edna Mode refuses to design a cape for Mr. Incredible, deeming capes as hazardous to superheroes, she recalls several past accidents that involved their interference. This foreshadows Syndrome's ultimate fate.
- In another bit of foreshadowing, as Incrediboy, Bomb Voyage placed a bomb on his cape before Mr. Incredible got it off, leading to the string of events that brought down costumed superheroes in the first place.
- As a young boy, his hair was blond. However, as an adult, it is red. He could have either dyed it red or his hair could have naturally turned said color.
- In Jack-Jack Attack, his mask is not on and he still has his cape.
- Syndrome is one of the few characters whose voice actor also voiced his juvenile counterpart.
- When Buddy sneaks into Mr. Incredible's car, Mr. Incredible goes through several names trying to remember Buddy's name. One of the names he says is Brodie, possibly a reference to Syndrome's voice actor Jason Lee's breakout character from Mallrats.
- Syndrome bears some resemblance to Kent Mansley, the villain from The Iron Giant, another film Brad Bird worked on. (which was released 5 years before The Incredibles)
- Both have the same hair colour, chin and eyes.
- Both have devious plans where a robot is involved.
- Kent plans to destroy the Iron Giant at all costs, whereas Syndrome wants to send the Omidroid to terrorize Metro City.
- Both expose their plans in front of the main protagonists (Mr. Incredible and Hogarth).
- Syndrome is a direct homage to the DC comics antagonist Ozymandias from the novel "Watchmen". Like Ozymandias, Syndrome has no inherent superhuman powers but possesses an incredible intellect and technical aptitude. They brought themselves up from nothing to become exceptionally wealthy. They both as villains enacted a plan to fabricate an invasion to unite humanity (albeit their motive differed, Syndrome did to masquerade as a hero, Ozymandias did so to end war and violence worldwide). Both worked a scheme to eliminate costume heroes that could potentially offset their plans.
- In some novelizations, Syndrome's fate is not fully explained. Instead of being sucked by the propellers, it's described that after Mr. Incredible launched his car against the plane, Syndrome was left without his getaway vehicle. Then it is said that after that "anyone never heard anything about Syndrome again".
- In one of the comics, Syndrome's profile was among the rogue files, implying the possibility that he may have survived the cape malfunction and the jet explosion and may still be fighting the Incredibles (unless he received a clone).
- Syndrome was to be a minor antagonist in the original version of the film when Xerek was to be the main antagonist. In the originally proposed opening sequence, Syndrome was to attack the Incredibles after learning from his agent that Mr. Incredible had recently moved into the agent's neighborhood. Syndrome broke into their home, disguising himself as a burglar and making enough noise to lure Bob to him, and then used Bob as a battering ram to wreck the home. He also tried to capture Violet while she was still in her infancy, but in her invisible state, regurgitated saliva onto his eyes (she had a problem with this), making him drop the parents. In response, Syndrome immobilized both Helen and Violet but became immobilized when Bob rolled a mirror between them and lodged him into the ceiling of Violet's room. Syndrome was ultimately killed when the family's home was totaled in a gas main explosion sparked by a flame in the fireplace (the Incredibles, however, managed to escape in time). In the same scene, Syndrome, upon discovering Violet, also hinted that Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl essentially broke the law by marrying and having children, although this concept was cut in the final version. It should be noted that in the proposed original prologue sequence of the film, it is clear that Syndrome and Mr. Incredible had already met and fought in the past on several occasions.
View Syndrome's quotes here.