Disney has often been known to push the envelope on the sad, scary, and gruesome. The most prominent is in the villains, these most beloved of characters always get their just deserts, but sometimes it can be a little much. Here are the ten most gruesome of these villain deaths.
10: The Evil Queen (Snow White)
We can’t write this top ten list without acknowledging the first ever Disney death. The death is very unique for Disney movies: The Queen falls off a cliff, is followed by a boulder, and dies off-screen. Not much to make mention of, right? Well, let’s actually look at this death in more detail. First of all, she falls off a cliff. Yeah, gravity is definitely the most common cause of death in a Disney movie, as it’s usually off-screen, bloodless, and less frightening to children, not to mention it absolves the films’ heroes from having to actually commit murder. But then she is followed by a giant boulder. So if the fall doesn’t kill her (we really don’t know how high up this cliff is, after all), the boulder crushing her certainly will. And then what really makes this scene, to me at least, are the vultures that are watching in the background.
9: Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
The Reason Maleficent is so low on the list is because it isn’t very different from the generic fall. After transforming into her dragon form, she is defeated by Prince Phillip. He is given an enchanted sword by the fairies Flora, Fauna, and Meriwether who then guide it as he throws it at her chest. The sword impales her causing her to collapse and rupture the ground beneath her, making her (Guess what!?) fall to her death into a pit of her own flames. After the smoke clears all that is left is her cloak and the sword. This is separate from the previous because it adds a bit more violent detail, and because Maleficent is often considered to be Disney’s maiden of evil, their darkest female character and one of the darkest in general. Although it wasn’t very spectacular, it isn’t a very pleasant way to go out and it is good enough to make the list.
8: Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
This is another case of Disney’s questionable symbolism. After attempting to throw Quasi Moto off of the cathedral, he grabs Frollo’s cape and pulls him down too. Clinging on for dear life he swings himself onto a nearby gargoyle and gains his footing. He then pulls out his sword and attempts to kill Quasi and Esmerelda both in one swing while quoting the bible. The gargoyle then cracks beneath him, causing him to slip and grab onto it. It then comes alive and taunts him with a devilish grin before breaking off and plunging him to the city below which is aflame from the riots, and he is crushed by the stone gargoyle. Yet another case of falling, however the heavy symbolism in this one makes it a bit more unique. The only reason this ranks above Maleficent is because of the religious taboo that goes along with it. This essentially implies that Frollo was being pulled directly into hell, and even gives us a bit of a graphic poof when he hits the ground.
7: Clayton (Tarzan)
This is one that strays a way a bit further from the traditional fall. After shooting Tarzan, Clayton chases him up into the treetops where they struggle, the one-sided fight is made into an even fistfight after Tarzan breaks Clayton’s shotgun. Clayton then pulls out his machete and Tarzan retreats back into some vines, clinging to another tree with his one good arm. Clayton chases after him, but not knowing the environment the way Tarzan does, he gets entangled in the vines. In a fit of rage he begins carelessly cutting them one by one, oblivious to the vine precariously dangling around his neck. After cutting away all but the one on his neck, he plummets and the vine acts as a noose, causing him to unintentionally hang himself. To top it all off, there is a flash of lightning that shows the shadow of his hanging corpse on the tree behind Tarzan. Need I explain further than that?
6: Shan Yu (Mulan)
Here’s one that legitimately has nothing to do with falling, I swear. During the final fight with Mulan, Mushu sneaks away and grabs a firework. As they fight, they jump to the rooftops, where Mulan distracts Shan Yu while Mushu readies the explosive. Mulan is able to pin him down with her sword by the cape and he is helpless to avoid the oncoming firework which launches him into (Guess what?) more fireworks. After being blasted into the storage room for fireworks, the entire room is set off, the resulting explosion completely tearing him to shreds and raining down Mongolian beef from the sky. I’m sorry that pun was a bit off color, but I couldn’t resist.
5: Scar (The Lion King)
This is a stereotypical scenario, but not a death used very often by Disney. This is a classic case of the villain’s henchmen turning against him. During the fight with Simba, Scar takes the cowards way out and blames the hyenas for everything. Simba of course doesn’t buy it and banishes him from the kingdom. Scar then begins to walk away but doesn’t pass up the chance to attack samba while his guard is down, and he throws cinders into his eyes and pounces on him. After a brief struggle, he is knocked down the rock onto a lower level, where he is surrounded by the offended hyenas, who then proceed to tear him to shreds and eat him. It looks like Scar….wait for it….wasn’t prepared. I’m sorry; I don’t know when I’ll stop.
4: Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Anybody who has seen this movie knew this was coming; it is the very definition of overkill. After Ursula has usurped control over King Triton’s power, she grows to gigantic proportions and begins tormenting Ariel. Eric then sweeps in and saves the day by manning his ship and fighting her off. She is nearly too much for him to handle, but he makes the winning blow that saves Ariel’s life before Ursula can get to her. He summons the courage within him and braves the heroic deed of IMPALING HER WITH HIS FREAKING SHIP. That’s right; he uses the whirlpool to get enough speed to ram the broken hull into her, impaling her with his entire ship. As if that weren’t enough, she is then struck by lightning which fries her to a crisp and sends her drowning at the bottom of the sea. Can anyone say overkill?
3: Syndrome (The Incredibles)
The irony in this death was not lost on the audience. Edna Mode foreshadowed this with her rant about why capes are a bad idea. After rambling on about the amount of heroes who have died because of accidents involving their capes, the movie gives the audience just enough time to forget about it before striking out the bad guy. After the final battle, Syndrome decides to make things personal by kidnapping baby Jack-Jack and flying away with him. Jack-Jack gets angry after seeing his family upset by this and begins to transform into a variety of forms, torturing him before damaging his flight boots. After Jack-Jack falls off and into his mother’s arms, Syndrome’s damaged boots send him spiraling towards an airplane. After landing on the wing and getting a car thrown at him, he slips into the engine and desperately tries to escape, but is sucked in by his cape. Not only is he shredded to pieces, but the plane blows up right after. Shredded and Fried? I’ll take that order to go, thank you.
2: Oogie Boogie (The Nightmare Before Christmas)
Now this one is brutal. After Oogie tries to boil Santa and Sally, Jack steps in to save the day. Oogie makes him brave his death traps, which Jack does with great success. After Jack finally starts getting close enough to Oogie to be a threat, Oogie jumps up onto the gyrating claw above him, but fails to notice the loose thread in his stitching. Jack takes advantage of this and tugs on the thread, ripping open his arm. He then throws the string into the rotating claw, which then rips off the rest of the burlap sack that Oogie uses as skin. The insects that make up Oogie’s body then begin to fall into the boiling pot of lava. All but the main one that basically represents his heart are burned, and the one that gets away is crushed by Santa Claus. If you put this into human perspective, Oogie is essentially skinned alive, has all of his internal organs burned, and then has his heart crushed. I know it’s a movie about Halloween, but come on Disney; it’s still a kids’ movie.
1: Dr. Facillier (The Princess & the Frog)
This one takes the cake as the most violent Disney death. It may come as a bit of a surprise to some to be at the top, but it truly does leave its mark. After trying to con Tiana into giving him back his voodoo amulet, she refuses and attempts to destroy it. His shadow catches it and returns it to him. After the world is reverted back to normal, Tiana manages to get him while his guard is down and use her frog tongue to get the amulet back and destroy it. This then essentially sparks another case of the villain’s henchmen turning against him. All of the shadow creatures and voodoo monsters come to life and open up what is basically the gateway to hell. They then grab his shadow, which then grabs him and drags him down into the fiery depths. When the smoke clears, all that remains is a tombstone marked with a carving of his screaming face, and the name: Facillier. Now you may argue that Frollo went through something similar and was found pretty low on the list, but the difference between the two was Disney’s bravery. With Frollo, they simply imply that he falls to hell. With this one, the show him getting DRAGGED in and sing a song about it. That’s cruel, and that is the number one most violent Disney villain death.