“I love the way your foul little mind works!”
―Jafar to Iago
Iago is the secondary antagonist in Disney's 1992 animated feature film Aladdin. In its 1994 direct-to-video sequel The Return of Jafar, Iago reformed and served as a supporting protagonist for the remainder of the franchise.
Next to Genie, Iago is arguably the second most popular character from the Aladdin franchise. Iago is voiced by Gilbert Gottfried in all of his animated appearances.
Iago's past is mostly shrouded in mystery. However, it has been hinted at a few times. In Return of Jafar, Jafar noted that he purchased Iago in the bazaar at some point in his life.
Screenwriter Terry Rossio shared a concept behind Iago on his website Wordplay, in that Jafar took all his emotions and transferred them into his parrot, leaving him free of distractions and thus more able to conjure magic. Rossio also mentioned, since Iago is too small for so many emotions to be bottled up inside, "you end up with a feathered Gilbert Gottfried."
He is part of a royal menagerie in Arabin city Agrabah and is named after the villain Iago in the play Othello by William Shakespeare, as evidenced by a mention in the TV series, revealing that he has a twin brother called Othello.
“Conscience? Never had one. Never!”
Iago is a parrot heavily resembling a Red Lory. He can speak fluent English and has the ability to perfectly mimic other characters' voices including Jafar's, possibly due to his influence. He also possesses a fine knowledge of magical lore learned from Jafar, which often comes in handy as Genie's magical knowledge is 10,000 years out of date. He is easily frustrated and openly vocalizes his frustrations such as "That does it. All reports are in. Life is now officially unfair.". Although he denies it, he actually has a good heart, and his guilt from abandoning his friends or leaving them to deal with a crisis usually makes him return to intervene, and he even sometimes come out as a hero, but almost every time at the expense of losing something of value, which he without fail berates himself for afterwards.
He also seems to hate crackers (which is not what you would normally expect for a parrot), which the Sultan, apparently being completely unaware of Iago's distaste for them often fed him directly to the mouth, which also acted as the main reason why he aided Jafar in his treacherous ambitions against the Sultan in the first film. Upon Jafar becoming both the Sultan and the most powerful sorcerer on the planet, one of Iago's first actions was exacting revenge against the Sultan (who was relegated to a marionetted jester) by constantly force-feeding him the same crackers he was fed by the Sultan. It's implied in Return Of Jafar that his hatred of crackers stemmed from a particularly bad experience at a Bazaar where he, ironically, did indeed squawk "Polly want a cracker," which acted as the final straw that led to his defection from Jafar and trapping him in a well after the latter reminded him of it.
Interestingly, Iago often displays a certain fondness for Jasmine, being generally unhappy when he disappoints her, and often helping her out in smaller matters. In the Return Of Jafar, it seems to be her compassion towards him that increases his guilt to the point of near-confession, and then her anger and disappointment that prompts him to release Genie to save Aladdin.
Iago will do almost anything to keep out of danger or at least try and talk Aladdin or the others out of attempting something he deems crazy or impossible, usually both. However, he is at times willing to do Jafar's dirty work, such as retrieving Genie's lamp. His loyalties to Jafar either pertain out of true loyalty of a Promised reward (like in the first film, although in that case, it was closer to revenge, as he hated the Sultan's constantly feeding him crackers), or out of fear (the second film). He's very clever, and makes witty, sarcastic remarks constantly. But he's also very greedy, which sometimes makes him gullible if he thinks there's treasure to be found and doesn't always think all of his plans to get said treasure all the way through due to his overeagerness to get his hands (or wings in this case) on it, which causes some problems. In other words, he's a wacky bird that can make anyone laugh.