Disney is synonymous with family friendly entertainment but, uh, it shouldn’t be. For years, Disney has been cranking out children’s films to the delight of kids and parents alike. They release colorful films with catchy songs and heartfelt messages. There is even usually a joke or two for the parents to enjoy. What is there not to love?
Well, while Disney may be about princesses and adorable animals, Disney can also be about some dark shit. I’m not kidding. They put some deeply disturbing stuff into some of their films.
Obviously, some of Disney’s darker moments are noticeable, like, for example, all of the dead parents. Seriously, Disney offs parents like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead offs main characters. It doesn’t matter if it is a human parent or an animal parent, Disney is going to kill them. Disney doesn’t care about your tears for Mufasa.
Dead parents are just the tip of the iceberg. Some of Disney’s songs have alarming meanings. There’s songs about suicide, odd sexual shame, and a mob mentality leading a whole town’s worth of people wanting to kill someone. Disney just slaps on a catchy tune and you hardly notice how messed up the lyrics to these songs are.
On top of all the dead parents and twisted songs, plots about infertility, friendships ending, and the acceptance of one’s mortality are also woven into Disney films.
These are thirteen movies that may make you wonder what the hell Disney has been releasing all these years. Oh, and sorry for ruining your childhood and stuff.
12 A Bug’s Life – A Character Being Eaten Alive
Near the end of the film, the big climatic scene between Flik and Hopper comes to a head. With his hands around Flik’s neck, Hopper tells Flik that Flik won’t be around next season... because, you know, Hopper is going to kill Flik right there and then.
Fortunately, Flik is saved but unfortunately, the scene takes an even darker turn.
A bird appears and takes Hopper, saving Flik. That’s not where the scene ends though. The bird takes Hopper to her nest of three hungry, little baby birds, all chirping with excitement. The scene ends right before we actually see the teeny birds tear Hopper apart limb from limb but the damage was done. We all already know what becomes of Hopper.
11 Guardians Of The Galaxy – Mom Dies
Okay, so technically Guardians of the Galaxy is a Marvel film but Disney distributed it so it’s making the list because that opening scene of Guardians was some tough shit. Like, honestly, it was probably the saddest scene of any Marvel film and it happened in the first five minutes. Luckily, the rest of the film was hilarious so the audience didn’t have to dwell on the mom dying and young Chris Pratt running away to another freaking planet. Jeez, talk about abandonment issues.
10 Bambi - Another Mom Dies
Okay, Disney has some parent issues. If there isn’t an evil step-mother in the film, there is probably a loving mother in the film who dies. Seriously, Disney kills off more parents than any other studio in Hollywood. In Bambi’s case, it really didn’t matter that the mom who died was a deer. It still hurt, Disney.
Since it is Disney, it’s a death made for children. Bambi’s mother hears gunshots and tells Bambi to run and not look back so they run and run. After a gunshot sound, we know longer see Bambi’s mom on the screen (because she’s dead) but we still see little Bambi running to safety. Upon arriving in a little dugout, he turns around and says, “We made it, mother.”
Uh, nah, kid. Mommy is dead.
9 The Fox and the Hound – "Forever Friends" Is Bullshit
Hey, remember that absolutely adorable Disney film about a dog and a fox being BFF? Yeah, well, it was actually really depressing. It was like the Casablanca of animal movies.
First, they are tiny little babes and BFF but then they grow up and grow apart. They are on other sides of the war, as the hound is supposed to hunt the fox. Then, sometimes amazing happens. The fox saves the hound from a bear attack and the hound saves the fox from being shot by his master! All is not lost! These two former buddies can rekindle their friendship, right?! I mean, they did just save each other’s lives.
That is not the world that Disney wants us to live in. Instead, the fox and hound share one last smile and literally just go on with their lives without each other. That’s what Disney thinks about being forever friends.
8 The Good Dinosaur – Tripping Balls
Blah, blah, blah the dad dies in this Disney film too. Big surprise, right? Parents drop like flies in Disney films.
What’s so dark about this Disney movie? How about he fact that the dinosaur and the kid get high as kites. They eat some gross berries on the ground and go ape shit. The kid imagines that the dinosaur has five eyes and then the two imagine flying through the air. Sure, some say that supposedly the berries were fermented and they were actually just drunk but, uh, it really seems like they are tripping balls. I guess Disney is trying to teach children not to eat bad fruit… or maybe to eat bad fruit?
7 Dumbo – Drunk As Hell
The Good Dinosaur wasn’t the first Disney film to show its main character imbibing. In Dumbo, Dumbo accidentally drinks some champagne. At first, it’s cute really when he hiccups. Suddenly, Dumbo is hammered. I’m talking toasted. He imagines pink dancing elephants marching around. The Good Dinosaur’s tripping scene maybe have been a minute long but Dumbo’s was four minutes. Four freaking minutes of a drunken hallucination! So, in this children’s film, there is a four minute scene that is a drunken hallucination. How does a parent even explain to their children what the hell those pink elephants were doing in the movie?
6 Beauty and the Beast – Mob Mentality
Beauty and the Beast is known for some standout songs. I mean, "Tale as Old as Time" is a damn classic. The opening Bella song is catchy as hell too. One of the songs that doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking about Beauty and the Beast is "The Mob Song". There’s good reason why one doesn’t necessarily associate this song with the charming movie about beauty being on the inside.
"The Mob Song" is, err, all about mob mentality, which is pretty dark. I mean, we’re talking about a song in which all the townsfolk decided that it’s okay to kill the outsider (The Beast) mostly because they are in a crowd of people who all also think it’s okay. Some dark things in mankind’s past can be attributed to mob mentality, including The Holocaust, so yeah, that shit’s a little dark.
5 Hunchback of Notre Dame – "Hellfire"
Remember Esmeralda, the hot gypsy in The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Sure you do because she a hot gypsy who everyone loved.
Now, remember the awkward song “Hellfire” that the evil Judge Claude Frollo sang? It was pretty dark. Basically, the song is about how hot Esmeralda is and how ol’ Frollo thinks his “burning desire” is sinful. More or less, Frollo really wants to bone Esmeralda but cannot digest his sexual urges because of his religious beliefs.
By the end of the song, he wants to kill her so she can “taste the fires of hell” because he cannot deal with being aroused. That is one deeply sexually disturbed dude for a Disney movie.
4 Inside Out – A Movie About Depression
Inside Out was the hit Pixar film all about emotions of a girl named Riley. During the course of the film, 11-year-old Riley has mixed emotions about moving to San Francisco. When Sadness and Joy end up one some crazy adventure in Riley’s mind, it renders Riley unable to feel joy. She falls into a deep depression and plans to run away from her family.
Wait, hold on. This is the plot of a Disney movie?
You bet it is! In the end, everything is happy so I guess Riley struggling with depression throughout the movie is cool.
Oh, also, in Disney-like fashion, a lovable character must die. Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend, sacrifices himself to save Joy in a tear-jerking scene.
3 The Lion King – Mufasa’s Death
This scene is the OG of dark Disney scenes. Mufasa is basically the world’s greatest dad and after rescuing Simba from a stampede, he hangs onto a cliff for dear life. Scar, his brother, his own flesh and blood, grabs his hands to seemingly help him. Instead of helping, he throws Mufasa off the cliff, into the stampede, killing him - as brothers apparently do to one another according to Disney.
This is all while poor, young Simba is watching. Disney, then, really lays it on thick, as Simba goes to find his dad after the stampede has ended. Simba tries to get his dad up, but his dad is definitely really dead. After Simba yells for help and realizes it’s useless, Simba just lies there, cuddled up to his father’s corpse.
2 Frozen – “In Summer”
Hey, remember that awkward time in Frozen when Olaf, the snowman, sang about how much he’ll love summer? Sure, on the surface, it’s a goofy little song but he’s also kind of singing about being dead.
On top of that, Disney uses a ton of imagery to really nail it in, like the close up on the ice cubes in his drink. We get it, Disney, cold things melt in the summer. There’s also the scene when Olaf jumps into the warm ocean water and his body floats apart, kind of looking like, you know, he’s melting.
Olaf keeps saying he’ll be so much “cooler” in summer but in reality, he’ll just be so much deader and the whole audience knows that.
1 Up – Infertility Then Death
Remember when Pixar was able to tell Carl and Ellie’s whole life story through four minutes of imagery? We see them get married, buy a house, then get baby fever. They even paint a perfect nursery. Then it cuts to a depressing scene at the gynecologist office. Without any words, the audience knows Ellie is unable to get pregnant. Gee, thanks, Disney. I’m sure parents were really excited to explain this scene to their children.
This montage gets even more depressing. Carl shows the depressed Ellie their adventure book and is basically like, “Yo, if we don’t have kids, we can go on so many adventures!” This cheers Ellie up and the couple starts saving money for their adventures. Their makeshift piggy bank keeps getting more and more full. They are going to go on so many adventures, right?! Nope. Instead, they have to go into their piggy bank for a flat tire, broken leg, and a tree that falls on their house – like, literally falls on their house.
This has to have a happy ending, right? Adventures, babies, something? Well, Carl and Ellie get old and Ellie dies, without ever going on any adventures. According to Disney, this is life: a series of responsibilities and then you die.
If you don’t cry when Ellie dies, you must have zero feelings. Like, zero.
1. Toy Story 3 – The Acceptance Of Morality
What is darker than dead parents, infertility, depression, and dinosaurs tripping? The frigging incinerator scene from Toy Story 3!
In what may be Disney’s darkest scene ever, the toys that we all know and love are being pushed towards a flaming furnace, which will melt them all down. The toys scurry up but to no avail. Finally, they join hands and accept their fate. They literally accept this seemingly unavoidable death, join hands and just let it happen. Disney, what the hell?
It’s likely that more adults cried at this scene than children because adults were able to grasp the depth of what the toys were really doing by holding hands and facing down their own morality. Of course, this is a children’s movie so the toys were saved and, you know, no one died but what a dark message to put out there.