6 Disney Scenes That Are Way More Tragic Than You Realized

Disney stabs you with the overt malice, then twists it with the subtler cruelty.
6 Disney Scenes That Are Way More Tragic Than You Realized

Hey, remember before those sadists at Pixar came along, when Disney movies were filled with nothing but joy and childlike wonder? Sure, they usually had one or two sad scenes per film, but by the end, everything was resolved and everyone was perfectly happy. Remember that?

Well, you're remembering wrong. If you pay close attention, you'll realize ...

The Lion King -- Mufasa's Body Got Super Defiled

The '40s had Pearl Harbor, the '60s had the JFK assassination, and the '90s had that time Disney killed a cartoon lion. A whole generation of children developed an irrational fear of antelope hooves thanks to Mufasa's death scene in The Lion King -- though it's unclear if he died from getting trampled by the antelopes, falling off that cliff, or because the claw wounds on his paw got infected. Whatever the case, that's the last we ever see of Mufasa, discounting his brief return as a giant sky ghost to give his son Simba a pep talk.

Walt Disney

Which was probably a "Hakuna Matata"-triggered hallucination, anyway.

So ... ever wondered what happened to Mufasa's body? Simba has no chance to bury it before he fucks off to hang out with a meerkat and a warthog for several years. By the time Simba returns, he either refuses to go look for his father's mangled skeleton, or he's blocked out the memory of where it all went down. As far as the audience knows, Mufasa has turned into grass and currently exists as some gazelle shit down by the watering hole.


"It's the ciiiiiiiiiiiircle of liiiiife!"

But, of course, there's another explanation for what happened to Mufasa's remains. How long do you think Mufasa's big, meaty lion corpse was able to lay baking in the sun in a land that's now run by hyenas? (You know, the same hyenas Mufasa had forced to starve.) See, if there's one thing hyenas love more than eating dead things, that's dismembering lions -- and you can find plenty of evidence of that on the internet if you don't mind looking at animal gore. There's a pretty good chance Mufasa's body became lunch for Whoopi Goldberg and Cheech Marin's dipshit hyena characters, is what we're saying.

As for the non-edible parts of his body? Well, it might not be a coincidence that we later see Mufasa's trusted advisor get trapped in a rib cage that's suspiciously close to the size of a lion's torso.

Walt Disney

This is like if Trump forced Joe Biden to live in a tent made out of Obama's skin behind the White House.

Don't feel bad, though. As we've pointed out, Simba totally murdered and ate those fucking hyenas at the end of the movie. Poetic justice, Disney-style!

Finding Nemo -- Nigel The Pelican Never Learns That Nemo Is Alive (And Blames Himself For His Death)

In Finding Nemo, Nigel is a kind, friendly pelican voiced by ... holy shit, Geoffrey Rush?! Captain Barbossa?! How?

Walt Disney

He does have the stare of someone who's into the S&M scene.

Anyway, Nigel is good friends with some fish who live in the dentist's office where Nemo ends up trapped. When he runs into Nemo's dad (Marlin), Nigel agrees to help him bust Nemo out of the dentist jail instead of, you know, ripping him from fin to fin and eating him alive, like any other pelican would.

However, unbeknownst to Nigel and Marlin, Nemo was already planning an escape of his own. When Nigel and Marlin arrive, they see Nemo floating upside down and looking to all the world like a dead-ass fish. Of course, Nemo's only faking it so he'll get flushed down the toilet and into sweet, stinky freedom ... but Nigel doesn't know that.

Walt Disney

A perfect representation of this movie's ecological impact.

And while Marlin eventually reunites with Nemo, Nigel never learns the truth. Discounting a short cameo in the credits (which is probably not in continuity, since birds can't breathe underwater), the last time we see Nigel he's telling Marlin, "I'm so sorry." It's pretty clear that Nigel blames himself for the botched rescue attempt. He didn't get there in time, and now a child is dead (remember -- in this world, everything is a person). And it gets worse -- as seen in the final scene of the movie, the rest of the fish at the dentist's office also manage to escape. The next time Nigel returns to say hey to his friends, they'll all be gone. As far as he knows, that satanic girl with the braces murdered every single one of them.

Walt Disney

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go off and make this exact same face at seven more parents."

Because we never see Nigel again (he's not in Finding Dory), it's safe to assume he never learns the fate of any of those fish and simply goes on believing he's responsible for all of their deaths. Nigel probably ended his life a few years later by drinking himself into a stupor and drowning in the Pacific Ocean. We can't wait for the next sequel, Finding Nigel's Bloated Corpse Washed Up On The Shore.

The Little Mermaid -- Ursula Didn't Need To Marry The Prince To Stop Ariel, She Was Probably Just Lonely

The Little Mermaid is the touching story of a bizarre fish creature who goes to extreme lengths to fool a human man into loving her. While that description perfectly fits the protagonist, Ariel, we're actually talking about the "villain," Ursula the sea witch.

Walt Disney

"Lay off my man. There's plenty of dogs on the land."

In the movie, Ariel (the titular mermaid) decides she needs to become human to seduce her crush, Prince Eric, so she makes a deal with Ursula for three days of leggy land action. The price for this trade is Ariel's voice ... which historically hasn't really been needed for love in Disney movies, anyway. Half of these princesses just lie there and wait for a dude to come make out with them.

So, if Ariel gets kissed by Eric by sundown on the third day, she gets her voice back and gets to keep her sexy legs free of charge. But of course, Ursula's fish-to-human-conversion powers extend to her own tentacles, and she transforms herself into a beautiful brunette. Ursula also bewitches Eric into falling in love with her (which sort of makes the whole "looking like a nubile human" thing unnecessary) and tricks him into marrying her in a massive, elaborate sea wedding.

Walt Disney

The priest is already picturing their wedding night (unless you're watching this movie on DVD).

Except ... why? Eric is already under her control. If Ursula's only objective is keeping him busy so he can't kiss Ariel, she could have just forced him to eat fifteen pounds of Taco Bell so he couldn't leave the bathroom for three days. Or said, "Hey, slave, don't kiss her." The thing Ursula absolutely did not need to do was spend time and effort planning a fancy wedding. It makes no sense for her to put in all that work just to win a bet.

It would make sense, though, if what she truly wanted was love. Ursula needed to use Ariel's voice to magically seduce Eric -- their deal was the only way Ursula thought she could finally achieve her dreams of being married and raising a family of human/octopus hybrids from hell. Suddenly, Ursula is like a sad side-character in a romantic comedy who pulls off wacky schemes to find a spouse. And in response, her would-be lover impales her through the gut with a massive boat. Take that, non-conventionally-attractive women!

Walt Disney

We'd make a "penetration" joke here, but honestly, that just seems mean at this point.

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame -- Quasimodo Gets Cheered Up By Singing Gargoyles ... Who Are Clearly In His Head

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame is Disney's progressive attempt to star a character that isn't a beautiful white lady. The resulting film follows a stalker hunchback, Quasimodo, who lusts after a Romani girl ... who still falls for the traditionally handsome dude. But hey, at least he helped the pretty people get together.

Walt Disney


Quasimodo has a pretty tough time over the course of the movie, but thankfully, he's got three friendly stone gargoyles that come and cheer him up whenever he's feeling blue. At one point, they do a whole musical number just telling their boy Quasi how awesome he is -- that girl would be lucky to have such a strapping young man as himself! OK, so maybe they stretch the truth on some occasions, but sometimes that's what friends do for each other. And that's definitely what these gargoyles are: Quasi's best (only?) friends.

Too bad they're completely fucking imaginary.

Walt Disney

Even his idealized fantasies are ugly.

Think about it. Quasimodo has spent his entire life living in a cathedral, with only a creepy old racist for company. At one point, he starts having conversations with the decorative gargoyles -- who are never seen talking to anyone else. We see them pour molten lava on people, but if Fight Club has taught us anything, it's that our imaginary friends can sometimes do extreme damage to other people's bodies and faces.

So, from an outsider's perspective, Quasimodo is just sitting on a ledge cheering himself up by picturing some inanimate objects singing to him about how sexy his grossly deformed face is. They're basically Quasimodo's mom telling him how any gal would be lucky to have him. Why couldn't the movie just show that?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit -- That Little Shoe Totally Went To Hell

If you remember one scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, it's probably the one where the villainous Judge Doom dips an adorable cartoon shoe into some cartoon-killing acid, which immediately lives up to its name. We've been trying to delete that image from our minds for almost three decades now.

Walt Disney

(Before you leave a comment: No, "Jessica Rabbit's boobs" doesn't count as a scene.)

But how could this legendarily tragic moment be any worse? Well, think back to the only other times we see cartoon characters die in this movie. In a scene that looks like the guy from The Raid directed a Three Stooges short, protagonist Eddie Valiant kills a bunch of Doom's henchmen weasels by literally making them laugh themselves to death. Thankfully, the weasels must have managed to get right with God, because from their corpses rise some ghostly angels that flit away to heaven:

Walt Disney

This one only went into crime to care for his sick mother and five adopted meth babies.

However, when Eddie kicks another one of the weasels in the balls and it falls into a vat of Doom's acid, there's no angel. The same thing happens to Doom (a closeted cartoon) when he himself gets the acid treatment at the end of the movie ... and to the little shoe. Surely that innocent clog was more worthy of Jesus' embrace than a couple of literal weasels and a guy with the last name "Doom."

The implication here is that Doom's sludge burns away not only a cartoon's body, but their soul. It's sort of like reading the Harry Potter books for Seventh-Day Adventists. Because we've seen two different weasel fates, we know it's not a morality thing. It's not like the shoe knocked boots with his brother's wife or something.


And if he did, who could blame him? Goddamn.

The only other explanation we can think of is that the acid doesn't actually kill the cartoons; it merely dissipates their still-conscious molecules, which will now live in perpetual agony at the bottom of that barrel for all eternity. So, as you're falling asleep tonight, just remember: That poor murdered shoe is burning in hell, one way or the other.

Aladdin -- The Genie Has Stockholm Syndrome

Aladdin is a beloved animated classic ... that we're about to ruin for you with two simple images. You know at the end of the movie, when Aladdin uses his third wish to free the Genie? This is symbolized by the unclasping of the magical shackles on his wrists:

Walt Disney

But not the shackle on his hair, which remains a slave of that ponytail.

And yet, when we see the genie next, in The Return Of Jafar, the shackles are there again:

Walt Disney

This isn't just the animators keeping the characters on-model. Look at Aladdin's face.

They're also there in the animated series, and all of the Genie's further appearances. Why? Because the sad truth is, after thousands of years of being trapped in a lamp and forced to grant wishes to people ... the Genie doesn't actually want to be free. He suffers from the condition known as Stockholm syndrome, in which captives empathize with their captors as a way to cope with their situation. He's basically a big, blue Patty Hearst.

Sure, the Genie claims he wants freedom -- but he could have freed himself long ago. When Aladdin almost drowns, the Genie rescues him by voicing a request ("Genie, I want you to save my life") then nodding Aladdin's unconscious head up and down. Why didn't the Genie just do that while one of his other masters was sleeping, or passed out from having sex 200 times in a row with their newly acquired 20-inch penis?

Walt Disney

This guy has some weird ideas about consent.

Furthermore, the Genie displays issues with the fundamentals of relationships from the get-go. He calls himself Aladdin's friend as soon as he meets him (over and over, through a musical number) but also refers to Al as "master" -- clearly, the Genie is deeply confused about what friendship means. Meanwhile, Aladdin says at the beginning of the movie that Abu is his "only friend," and that remains true throughout the series. Aladdin, a well-documented shitbag and manipulator, tricks the Genie into giving him a free wish, goes back on his word, frequently forces him into his tiny, uncomfortable lamp, and aggressively ignores his advice to stop lying to Jasmine.

The one nice thing Aladdin does is set the Genie free with his final wish, but that was probably just to convince Jasmine that he's not a lying scumbag (despite all previous evidence to the contrary). Besides, he just hooked up with a rich sugar mama. He's set for life. That the Genie still comes back and continues serving as this asshole's de facto magical manservant is one of the most tragic twists in all of fiction.

Jordan Breeding has a blog, a Twitter, and a debilitating fear of Walt Disney's frozen head. Liam is a writer and editor at Ranker. He has an infrequently used Twitter, and he's thinking about getting a cat.

For more classic Disney sadisticness, check out 5 Horrifying Details Hidden in Classic Children's Cartoons and 8 Horrifying Moments From Classic Kids Cartoons.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out 5 Ways 'Little Mermaid' Is The Most Terrifying Disney Movie, and other videos you won't see on the site!

Follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.

Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?