- "All right, so I'm not made of stone."
- ―Diego on his tough appearance.[src]
Diego was a saber-tooth tiger that was part of a herd of animals after living out a number of experiences that united them all. He serves as the secondary antagonist, and later the secondary protagonist of Ice Age and one of the three main protagonists of the franchise. He is the tritagonist of Ice Age and The Meltdown, a supporting character in Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Collision Course and the tetartagonist of Continental Drift.
Initially a cunning and remorseless hunter in a pack of other sabers, Diego was to deliver a human baby to his pack leader, Soto, as revenge upon the humans. During his interception of the child, Diego met a mammoth named Manfred and a sloth named Sid, who had already taken the child and, in time, convinced the saber to leave his old pack and join up with them as part of the herd.
Some time later, Diego and his herd resided in a valley that would soon flood over, due to the large amounts of melting ice. As the herd journeyed along with the other herds of animals, they met a female mammoth named Ellie, who lived with her adopted possum brothers Crash and Eddie. Manny, through Sid's urgings, took Ellie as a wife, making her and her possum brothers new members of the herd.
Within time, Diego grew upset with his complacent life in a herd, having lost his edge as a hunter and so considered leaving his herd behind. However he rejoined as they went out on a search for Sid, who had taken three dinosaur eggs as his adopted children. After their adventure in the Dinosaur World, Diego decided to stay with his herd and returned to the surface.
Years later, Diego remained a member the herd and stayed with them through it all. Unfortunately, he, along with Manny and Sid, was separated from the herd as an ongoing continental drift divided them. After reuniting with Granny, the four going on to meet a group of animal pirates, led by the viscous seafaring ape, Captain Gutt. Among the pirates was a beautiful female saber named Shira who caught Diego's eye. In time, Diego convinced Shira to leave the crew and join the herd as his mate. After Gutt was defeated, Diego and the rest of the herd left their old home to find a new one due to the continents shifting.
For the next couple of years, Diego lived happily married to Shira in the Herd Valley. He ends up experiencing a strange new feeling: The urge to start a family with Shira. However the herd would once again find their home endangered when they discovered a massive asteroid was headed for the planet. After reuniting with Buck, the herd began their journey to stop the asteroid before it's too late.
A gruff saber-toothed cat, Diego had a change of lifestyle, leaving the pack he once ran with to join a ragtag herd of animals. Through this, Diego learned to be caring, gentle and not as quick to anger.
As a cub, Diego was brought up in a pack with other sabers, including his father. Diego's father, being an adept hunter, would bring back a gazelle for Christmas as a feast for the whole family.
At some juncture in the past, a pack of humans had attacked Diego's pack, taking the lives of half of them so as to use their skins to fashion warm clothing. Soto, the pack leader, was driven furious by this, choosing to exact revenge by killing and devouring the pack leader's baby, Roshan. Diego, being appointed Soto's lieutenant, agreed to assemble the pack for an oncoming attack at dawn, also motivated by revenge.
That evening, the others in the pack, Zeke, Lenny and Oscar, all balked at their leader's fixation with the human pack, wondering why they could not follow the animal herd migrations heading south, but Diego asserted his leader's decisions, despite his pack-mates deriding him for it, asking why they couldn't take orders from Soto himself. Soto then appeared, asserting that they followed Diego's orders because Diego was the only saber that Soto trusted. Soto maintained that the attack on the humans would give them all a chance to teach the humans a lesson.
Ambush on the Humans
Early the following morning, the pack moved on for an ambush on the humans' camp. As the sabers moved in to attack, the tribe's dogs barked and alerted the humans to the sabers' presence, the humans led by their chief, a man named Runar. While Soto and the others engaged the humans and their dogs in a fight, Diego crept into the human leader's tent, where he found the baby, sleeping in his bed.
As Diego moved in on his target, the chief's wife, Nadia, quickly grabbed her son out of the bed and struck at the saber with a club. The woman then fled the tent as the men of the tribe fought the sabers, with Diego in hot pursuit as he chased her away from the camp. Diego chased Nadia away from the camp and through a stream, lashing out at her, hitting only the baby's charm necklace, which he swatted away onto the ground and continued to give chase. He then succeeded in chasing Nadia onto a rocky ledge atop a waterfall where, holding her baby closely, Nadia was cornered. As Diego moved in closer, Nadia, holding her baby tightly, jumped from the rock down the waterfall.
Having failed to retrieve the baby, Diego headed back to Soto, who was angered to hear that Diego had lost it over the falls. Before either could say much more, a spear was thrown at the sabers, and Soto led his pack away. Diego assures that he'll find the baby, to which Soto retorted that he better or serve himself as a replacement; the pack then agreed to regroup at Half Peak, where Diego was to produce the baby, alive and well. As the others in his pack were chased off by the humans, Diego left to find the baby.
When Diego found the baby, he saw it with Manny and Sid. After unsuccessfully trying to convince them that the baby was his, Diego formally introduced himself. Manny and Sid then learn from Diego that their too late to return Roshan, as the tribe just left this morning.
Knowing he would never be able to take the baby by force, Diego kept close to Manny and Sid waiting for an opportunity. Seeing as they had trouble knowing how to find the humans, Diego offered to use his tracking skills to help. Angry at Sid for mocking him earlier, Diego warned him Manny wouldn't always be around to protect him.
After a fight with some Dodos over food, the group went to sleep for the night. Diego attempted to take the baby, but Manny had it wrapped up tightly in his trunk. Diego then realised he was being watched. He pounced, only to find Oscar and Zeke. They inform him that Soto is getting impatient and reminded him of the mission. Diego told them that he was bringing Soto both the baby and Manny.
The next day, Diego was awoken abrubtly by Manny, who thought he had taken the missing baby (It turned out Sid took him to impress some ladies). Shortly after, Sid, running from a pair of rhinos, begged Diego to pretend to eat him. Diego turned away in disgust, but a kick from Sid changed his mind. He held the sloth in his jaws, convincing the rhinos he was dead, and only spat him out when Manny and the baby came by. When Sid said he thought Diego was going to eat him, the saber coldly replied "I don't eat junk food."
The group continued on their journey, Diego doing everything he could to keep Manny from finding the humans. He even lead to an Ice Cavern, claiming it was a shortcut. Sid voiced his refusal, and Diego's angry rebuttal caused an avalanche, forcing inside. Once inside, the baby slipped away from them. During the chase, Diego tried to get the baby, but was beaten to him by Manny. Afterwards, they came across a tunnel filled with cave paintings.
Not long after going outside, the group was caught in an underground eruption. Diego almost fell into a river of lava, but was saved by Manny, who almost died in the process. Confused, Diego asked Manny why he did it. Manny replied "That's what you do in a herd," touching Diego deeply. That night, they took shelter in a cave. The baby started to walk, and, despite Diego's protests, walked over to him.
The next morning, Diego stopped Manny and Sid from going further, revealing that there was an ambush waiting at the bottom of Half Peak. Manny became furious that Diego had set them up and pinned him to a wall. However the saber convinced them to let him help, as he was their only chance.
When Soto's pack attacked, Diego came to Manny's defense. Soto questions his actions, only for Doego to respond to leave Manny alone. Realizing Diego has betrayed the pack, Soto decided to kill Diego first. Diego, badly wounded and unable to move, told Manny and Sid to keep moving, so that Roshan could be reunited with his father. Diego's wounds weren't as bad as they seemed, however, and he recovered in time to say goodbye to Roshan and reunite with Manny and Sid. The three of them decided to follow the herds south.
Some time later, the trio had taken up resident near a water park. After saving Sid from a foolhardy attempt to impress others, they discovered that the ice dam was about to break.
As the animals fled to a Boat at the end of the valley, the herd picked up three new members: the possums Crash and Eddie, and Ellie, a mammoth who thought she was a possum. Along the way, they were attacked by Cretaceous and Maelstrom, Diego's fear of water revealing itself. Sid later attempted to talk to Diego about it, but Diego refused.
As the journey continued, Ellie discovered her true identity, but had a falling-out with Manny. When the group were in danger, it was Diego who convinced her to bury the hatchet in order to save everyone.
Leaving the herd
Some time later, after the animals had settled into a new home, and Manny and Ellie were expecting a child, Diego found himself unable to catch an Elk. Believing he had lost his edge. Diego decided to leave the herd and go out on his own, a decision that angered Manny.
Just as as he was leaving, Diego saw Sid being carried away by a T-Rex, and followed the rest of the herd in a rescue attempt, which led them into an underground world where Dinosaurs still existed. They were attacked soon after, but saved by a deranged weasel called Buck, who was convinced to help them search for Sid. Along the way, Diego, alongside Crash and Eddie, developed an admiration for Buck's survival skills, and Diego contemplated staying in the dinosaur's cavern.
As they made their way out of the cavern, they were attacked by Buck's arch-enemy Rudy. Diego, Manny and Sid helped Buck fight the Baronyx, with Momma Dino helping by pushing him off a cliff. As they reached the entrance to the cavern, Buck heard Rudy's roar, and decided to stay. Diego informed the others that Buck was "where he wants to be." As Peaches was introduced to her home, Diego reconciled with Manny, declaring that the life of adventure he sought was right there.
As Sid returns, Diego attempts to lie that his family was wiped out by an asteroid. Shoving the saber aside, Manny tells Sid the truth. Diego tries to comfort the heartbroken sloth saying he still has Granny. Unfortunately, they then realize Granny had disappeared due to her tendency to wonder.
During the search, Manny got into an argument with Peaches. As the argument went on, there was another rumble. The ground broke apart, seperating Diego, Sid and Manny from Ellie and Peaches. Diego stopped Manny from trying to jump across the gap, as he knew the irate mammoth wouldn't have made it. The chunk of ground they were on floated out to sea, despite their attempts to turn it around. After weathering a storm, they discovered that Granny had inadvertently come with them, having been sleeping inside a tree that was part of the chunk of land that broke off.
Captured by Pirates
Soon after, they were accosted by a crew of pirates, who declared their intention to take their "vessel." During the scuffle, Diego was confronted by Shira, telling her "I don't fight girls." Offended, Shira released the rope she held under her paw, smacking Diego in the face and then pinned him, snarking "I can see why." The herd were taken to the pirates' ship, where their leader, Gutt, tried to convince them to join. When Manny refused, Gutt decided to have Sid and Granny fed to his pet Narwhals. While the crew watched, Diego and Manny escaped, and went to save their friends.
In the ensuing scuffle, the pirates' iceberg was destroyed. The herd found a piece of ice to ride on. They saved Shira, who was less than happy at their actions. Diego took the chance to mock Shira calling her the punch line of a "bad joke" since they were the ones who saved her. Shira snapped after Diego called her kitty and pounced him. Though Diego overpowered Shira, he released her when Granny said "If they kiss, I'm gonna puke!"
Some time later, Sid accidentally made a crack in the ice. Diego points out they won't be able to make it home on the floe and an argument between him and Shira breaks out when she says they shouldn't have destroyed the ship. Fortunately, an island was nearby, and the group paddled toward it. Shira attempted to make a run for it, but Diego gave chase, and caught her. He then discovered that Gutt and his crew were also on the island. Shira was imprisoned in a tree, and Sid enlisted the help of the island's native Hyrax.
The next morning, the group saw that Shira had escaped, and went ahead with their plan to steal Gutt's new ship. While Manny and the Hyrax distracted the pirates, Diego freed their captives. The hyraxes then climbed all over their savior to thank him, which Diego reluctantly accepted.
As the pirates came after them, the herd ran toward the ship. Shira tackled Diego. Diego asked her why she was doing this, to which Shira responded that she had no choice. Diego assured Shira she didn't have to live her life like this and that she would be treated much better in the herd. A few seconds of thinking, Shira agreed to come with him. However, she is ultimately forced to stay behind to slow down Gutt, leaving both of the sabers heartbroken.
Later, Manny and Diego were watching a hawk and hornets game with Crash and Eddie. The hawks lost and Manny asked if they could watch another game at Diego's den. Diego said they couldn't because Shira was still sleeping because she was up all night hunting with The Cougars. They later go on an egg adventure.
Manny and Ellie's Anniversary
At Manny and Ellie's anniversary party, Diego grabbed some grapes, along with Shira. The sabers watched some kids play around. The grape juice dripped down on their chins. Diego told Shira he keeps imagining their own kid and that he'd be the best one. Shira disagreed, saying he meant "she". Unfortunately, they are reluctant to have kids because as Shira points out, children run away every time they see them. Two kids, a Young Start and Young Aardvark, came across Diego and Shira and saw the juice dripping down their chins and their glowing eyes. Even though Diego and Shira acted friendly, the kids thought the juice was blood and ran away in fear. This left the sabers confused, as Shira even points out she smiled this time.
Sid then pointed out a "fiery ball" in the sky. Diego went to go tell Manny that they had a problem. Manny said his problem was more important. Diego eventually got Manny's attention and they made a run from the meteor and went into an Ice Cave until they thought in was safe.
Later, they found their old weasel pal, Buck. Buck told them an asteroid was coming and lead the herd. They later were stuck in an electrical storm. Diego saw his fur was puffing up by his paw. Later Diego whole fur fluffed up. Manny and Ellie got stuck by the zapping lightening and Diego saved them. Buck heard a baby crying and ran into the forest. He came out of the forest with a baby pumpkin named Bronwyn. The herd thought it was strange. Before the herd continued off on their journey, Diego caught the scent of some scattered feathers lying around, sniffing them suspiciously until they were blown away. Buck told the herd to rest the night and Diego and Shira rested together.
After escaping the forest, Diego is seen having a friendly conversation with Julian. The two even perform a cool "peace-out" gesture. When Manny shows displeasure towards this, Diego attempts to convince him that Julian is a good kid and he should try bonding with him. During a hockey match, Manny accidentally hits Julian with the puck and causes him to fall through the ice. Displeased at this, Diego sarcastically says it's a mystery why Peaches wants to move away after the marriage.
In the morning they found that Granny was missing and that there were more scattered feathers lying around where the herd slept. Buck ended up revealing that there was a family of Dino-Birds that chased after the herd the entire time. The herd suspected that the Dino Birds must of eaten Granny, and thought she was gone for good. That was until they heard her yells and followed them.
After Sid accidentally breaks the Geotopian wall, the Shangri Llama throws a fit. Seeing this Buck gets the idea to seal the steam vents around a nearby volcano to throw the asteroid elsewhere. Diego voices doubt at the plan so Buck continuously pokes his nose until he roars, demonstrating "tremendous pressure leads to a tremendous explosion". However the Shangri Llama isn't willing to give up the eternal youth that the crystals provide. With some convincing from Brooke however, the Geotopians go along with Buck's plan. After the asteroid is sent back into space, the herd celebrate their victory.
Personality and Traits
As a saber-tooth cat, Diego was made for action, with a usually curt demeanor: short for words, Diego was not one to be trifled with. Initially a sharp hunter and a harsh speaker, Diego's demeanor softened as he joined a herd with Manny and Sid. Loyal to the herd, Diego was always one to step in and take action. Diego at times, can be abusive, mainly towards Sid as the latter would often joke with him. Nevertheless, Diego still cares about Sid and everyone else in the herd.
Even after joining the herd, Diego maintains his pride and therefore is shown to have a short temper when he is insulted. He once angrily choked Sid when the sloth made fun of his fear of the water. His pride is also displayed when he had a discussion with Shira who called him soft for caring about others. He denied it when Manny and Sid saw that he had fallen in love with Shira's beauty.
Though Diego lived with other herbivorous animals, he curbed his natural instincts as a hunter. As a result he was able to live peacefully with other animals and only hunted when necessary. His composure, however, was shaken when Shira caught his eye. As time passed, Diego and the pirate developed feelings for each other, and later got married.
Like his mate, as time passed, Diego develops a fondness for children and plans on starting a family with Shira.
Diego was built like other sabers, with a compact, muscular build and powerful running legs, retractable claws on all four paws, a short set of ears and tail, and, most notably, his set of long canine teeth, with which he hunted other animals. Diego's pelt was burnt orange with a lighter underbelly and light facial fur, and with a short brown mane along his neck and upper back. Diego's eyes were vivid green and were ideal for hunting or looking out at night, as in the darkness they would glow brighter like other cats' eyes.
Behind the Scenes
The initial plan with Diego was that he would die in the first Ice Age film: when younger test audiences saw this, they burst into tears, and so the directors decided to let Diego live.