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[[caption-width-right:350:Pictured: Bluth with an [[WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH admirer]].]]

In much the same way that Creator/{{Pixar}} and Creator/DreamWorksAnimation are UsefulNotes/TheMillenniumAgeOfAnimation's biggest names and toughest rivals, there was one animator in UsefulNotes/TheDarkAgeOfAnimation who took it upon himself when no one else would to challenge Creator/{{Disney}} as the reigning king in traditionally animated features. Remembered fondly by children of the 80s and 90s, his independent features laid the ground work for what would eventually be animation's [[UsefulNotes/TheRenaissanceAgeOfAnimation return to its former glory]] in the waning years of the 20th century, an effort felt to this very day in [=DreamWorks=], Pixar and, yes, even Disney.

That animator was one Donald Virgil Bluth (born September 13, 1937).

Bluth's films boasted some of the most [[SugarWiki/AwesomeArt lavish character and effects animation]] at the time and are notably {{darker|AndEdgier}} in theme and content than even most animated features for families made to this day, usually having a high mortality rate or grim subject matter. His were also some of the ''[[DerangedAnimation weirdest]]'' [[DerangedAnimation animated features]], many following a [[RandomEventsPlot disjointed fever-dream kind of internal logic]]. Even his more poorly-received features have their fans for their bizarre plots and ''really'' pretty animation.

Bluth's career as an animator began at his future rival's studio, working as an assistant animator on ''Disney/SleepingBeauty'' and ''Disney/TheSwordInTheStone''. He took a break for a few years to go to Argentina on a Mormon recruitment mission, briefly working for Creator/{{Filmation}} as a layout artist before eventually getting re-hired by Disney. Unfortunately by that point, the studio was going through [[DorkAge major financial and creative turmoil]] in the wake of [[Creator/WaltDisney their founder]]'s death, and he was put to work on some of their more economical films like ''Disney/RobinHood'' and ''Disney/TheManyAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh'' (most notably, the scene where Rabbit is lost in the woods). Bluth nevertheless proved himself a skilled artist, working his way up to a directing animator on ''Disney/TheRescuers'', ''Film/PetesDragon1977'' and ''Disney/TheFoxAndTheHound''.

Deeply unhappy with [[UsefulNotes/TheDarkAgeOfAnimation the state of animation at the time]] and feeling that Disney was too concerned with saving money to produce a great film, Bluth wanted to remind both movie executives and the public at large [[DoingItForTheArt what painstakingly attentive hand-drawn animation could do]]. He recruited colleagues Gary Goldman and John Pomoroy to start work on a pet project in his garage and for six years, the three of them met after work to teach themselves the kind of top-tier quality classical animation they felt they weren't getting at Disney, frequently consulting Creator/DisneysNineOldMen for tips and techniques (Bluth even briefly dated Ward Kimball's daughter). Their research and development resulted in the half-hour TV special ''WesternAnimation/BanjoTheWoodpileCat''. Reasonably successful, it was proof to the three men that they were capable of striking out on their own.

The following year, Bluth quit Disney, taking half the staff of ''Fox And The Hound'' with him to work at [[StartMyOwn his new garage-based studio on an independent feature]].

The new studio took its first job with the "Don't Walk Away" sequence in the CultClassic ''Film/{{Xanadu}}''. Two years later was their first feature and Bluth's feature directorial debut, ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH''. A massive, effects-heavy undertaking which forced Bluth and his two partners to [[NoBudget mortgage their houses just to get more funding]], it was a big hit with critics and fantasy fans alike, but [[AcclaimedFlop only barely broke even]] (not helped by the fact that it was [[DuelingMovies going up against]] ''[[Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial the]]'' [[Film/ETTheExtraTerrestrial biggest film of the decade]] thus far). They produced the animation for two laserdisc-driven videogames, the cult hits ''VideoGame/DragonsLair'' and ''VideoGame/SpaceAce'', in order to recoup their losses.

''NIMH'' managed to catch the eye of ''Film/{{ET|TheExtraTerrestrial}}'' director and notable animation fan Creator/StevenSpielberg who was looking to turn the script for a proposed TV special into an animated feature. Under Spielberg's supervision, the studio created ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'', the first animated feature to out-gross a Disney film and was briefly the '''highest grossing animated feature at the time'''. They followed it up two years later with the prehistoric epic ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime'', which became an even ''bigger'' hit. Both films were also hugely successful with critics and audiences and are still beloved to this day. By this point, Bluth's tiny garage business had expanded to a fully-operational studio in Ireland. Feeling successful enough to once again work on his own (and [[CreativeDifferences getting annoyed that Spielberg was always getting the last word in creativity on their projects]]), he cut ties with Spielberg and resumed fully-independent production on his next film.

Back at Disney, the old guard sat up and took notice that Bluth's was beating them at their own game. The financial success of ''American Tail'' raised concern (though the absolute nadir was their own lavish fantasy epic ''Disney/TheBlackCauldron'' under-performing against ''WesternAnimation/TheCareBearsMovie'' of all things), convincing the studio's new ultra-competitive head Jeffery Katzenberg to whip the animation unit of Disney back into shape to take down the competition. Spielberg, meanwhile, continued to produce animation: he was a major driving force between the groundbreaking live-action/animation hybrid feature ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'' and introduced the kind of fluid, appealing animation Bluth had introduced him to in their partnership to TV audiences with ''[[Series/AmazingStories Family Dog]]'' and, later, ''WesternAnimation/TinyToonAdventures''.

In short, Don Bluth near single-handedly kickstarted the [[UsefulNotes/TheRenaissanceAgeOfAnimation renaissance of animation in the west]]. Sadly, it was not a victory he could share in.

1989 saw the release of Bluth's 4th feature, ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven''. It was [[DuelingMovies released on the same day]] as [[DavidVersusGoliath Disney's mega-blockbuster musical smash]] ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid'', which [[CurbStompBattle blew Bluth's tiny little indie flick out of the water]]. With Disney [[BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor heading his word]] (and admittedly [[NeverLiveItDown still salty about the mass exodus he lead 1980]]) and reclaiming their title as top dog in feature animation, Bluth's films from that point on became lost in the overcrowded "all the animation that isn't by Disney" market, and were burdened by [[ExecutiveMeddling demands from what few investors he had left]] to be less dark and more marketable.

What was left of his studio after ''Mermaid'' was leveled two years later when his next film, ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle'', went up against Disney's ''Disney/BeautyAndTheBeast''. There was no competition any more: the Bluth film was such a massive BoxOfficeBomb that he was forced to close his studio and sell the right to his previous film in order to form a new studio a couple years later. But the message was made clear at that point that animated features in the 1990s belonged to Disney, and Bluth's next three films were [[ExecutiveMeddling meddled with]], [[ChristmasRushed rushed]] and [[NoBudget underfunded]], each [[BoxOfficeBomb failing harder than the last]]. After ''WesternAnimation/ATrollInCentralPark'' became the '''lowest''' grossing animated feature of all time, John Pomoroy left his partnership with Bluth and Goldman to return to Disney.

Things looked up for Bluth in 1995 when 20th Century Fox offered him the director's chair for the first film of their new animation arm. Desperate, Bluth [[ScrewThisImOutOfHere abandoned his floundering indie project]] ''WesternAnimation/ThePebbleAndThePenguin'' and took the reigns of Fox's AnimatedMusical, ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}''. It was Bluth's only financially successful project of the 90s and [[CareerResurrection his first financial success since]] ''[[CareerResurrection Land Before Time]]''. However, by that point, the animation landscape had changed significantly for everyone.

The arrival of Creator/{{Pixar}} and the first fully computer-animated feature ''WesternAnimation/ToyStory'' signaled the dawn of a new age. During production of Fox's second animated feature, the sci-fi epic ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'', more CGI animated films were released and outdid even Disney's most high-profile hand-drawn features both financially and critically. The major studios all took the hint and began dismantling their 2D animation units with Fox being one of the first as soon as ''Titan'' was released in 2000.

This was [[CreatorKiller the final straw for Bluth]], who was not only burned out from years of struggling to stay afloat but also wasn't not willing to give up on his trusty paper and pencil in favor of the computer. One year later, he announced his retirement from filmmaking saying "Never again will I draw a character and hand the rights over to someone else, which pretty much puts me out of the animation business."

Bluth now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he directs plays in his own theater, the [[http://www.donbluthfrontrowtheatre.com/ Don Bluth Front Row Theater]], and gives online animation tutorials from time to time. He's released two books, ''The Art Of Animation Drawing'' and ''The Art of Storyboard'', through an independent publisher, as well as a handful of educational [=DVDs=]. His last major animation project to date as been the Music/ScissorSisters music video for "Mary."

A prequel film to ''Dragon's Lair'' has been floating around in DevelopmentHell since the mid 2000s, with Bluth and his partner Goldman trying and failing to secure funding due to Hollywood's lack of faith in hand-drawn animation. A successful Indiegogo campaign secured them the budget for a pitch reel, which was completed in 2017.

You can read his full biography (up to the early '90s) [[http://www.cataroo.com/DBconts.html here]]. Reviews of his movies in chronological order can be read [[http://babbletrish.blogspot.com/2010/09/don-bluth-month-full-index-of-reviews.html here]].

His website can be seen [[http://www.donbluthanimation.com here]], which includes animation tutorials and a forum in which you ''might'' even be able to talk to the man himself. You can also find his Website/YouTube page [[https://www.youtube.com/user/DonBluthProductions here]], and his Twitter page [[https://twitter.com/DonBluth here]].

[[AC:Bluth's various productions include, in approximate chronological order:]]

* ''Disney/RobinHood'': His first animation credit.
* ''[[Disney/TheManyAdventuresOfWinnieThePooh Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too]]'': Animated the scene where Rabbit gets lost in the woods.
* ''Disney/TheRescuers: '' His first animation directing credit for Disney.
* ''Film/PetesDragon1977'': Lead animator on Elliot. This is said to be the movie that made him disillusioned with Disney and he quit soon after.
* ''Disney/TheSmallOne'': His last official project with Disney.
* ''WesternAnimation/BanjoTheWoodpileCat'': First independent project. An experiment made by Bluth's crew to see if they could make the kind of animated film they wanted on their own. Mostly animated in Bluth's garage while he and his team were still at Disney, working on it on nights and weekends.
* ''Disney/TheFoxAndTheHound'': Left midway through production but animated several early scenes with Young Tod and Widow Tweed, for which he was uncredited.
* The [[AnimatedMusicVideo "Don't Walk Away" sequence]] in ''Film/{{Xanadu}}''.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH'': First feature. Loosely based on the book ''Literature/MrsFrisbyAndTheRatsOfNIMH''. Established his efforts to revive the rich, classical style of [[UsefulNotes/TheGoldenAgeOfAnimation the older Disney films]], and his BreakthroughHit. Many fans and critics still consider this his best film.
* The ''VideoGame/DragonsLair'' game series, largely kicking off the [[FullMotionVideo Interactive Movie]] genre.
* ''VideoGame/SpaceAce'', another Interactive Movie, being ''Dragon's Lair'' [[RecycledINSPACE IN SPACE]]!
* ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'': First collaboration with Creator/StevenSpielberg. The highest-grossing animated film of 1986, briefly also held the highest-grossing non-Disney feature and highest-grossing animated feature of all time.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime'': Second and final collaboration with Creator/StevenSpielberg, this time with Creator/GeorgeLucas in tow. Was even ''more'' successful than the previous film.
* ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven'': A film [[InNameOnly very loosely inspired]] by Beth Brown's 1943 book of the same name. Got some good reviews, but was [[DuelingMovies financially curb-stomped]] by ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid''.
* ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle'': First film to bomb both critically and financially, also [[JumpTheShark alienated a lot of his fans]], forcing him to close his studio in Ireland.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Thumbelina|1994}}'': A rather notorious attempt to ape ''all'' the films of the Disney Renaissance up to that point.
* ''WesternAnimation/ATrollInCentralPark'': Widely considered to be his worst movie largely due to its [[TastesLikeDiabetes DEFCON level 4 cutsiness]]. One of the biggest animated bombs of all time.
* ''WesternAnimation/ThePebbleAndThePenguin'': A film so plagued with ExecutiveMeddling, terrible animation and unnecessary songs that Bluth gave up on it halfway through and [[AlanSmithee took his name off the credits]] to move to 20th Century Fox. To date, his last independent feature. Amazingly, it managed to get even ''worse'' reviews than ''Troll''.
* ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}'': His other attempt to ape the Disney Renaissance style. This time, it was successful. To date, his last big hit.
* ''WesternAnimation/BartokTheMagnificent'': Direct-to-DVD, continuity-free sequel to ''Anastasia'' and --this is important-- the '''only''' sequel to one of his films he was ever actually involved with.
* ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'': Final feature to date.
* An animated segment in the Music/ScissorSisters video for "Mary," loosely based on the story of Rapunzel.
* Did some storyboards for the Arabic show ''Gift of the Hoopoe''. Despite turning down the offer to direct, he and Gary Goldman were credited as directors, much to his annoyance.
* Designed the iPhone game ''Tapper World Tour''.
* He made two guest appearances on WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic, first in one of the Critic's commercial reviews and again in a ''VideoGame/DragonsLair'', where he plugged his Indiegogo campaign. Bluth and Gary Goldman were later interviewed for Doug Walker's other show, ''Shut Up and Talk''.
* A pitch reel for the ''VideoGame/DragonsLair'' prequel movie.


!!Tropes associated with Don Bluth Productions Include:

* AnimatedAdaptation: A few of this films are adaptations of (or at least very loosely inspired by) works from other mediums.
** ''The Secret of NIMH'', which is an adaptation of the book ''Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH''.
** ''All Dogs Go To Heaven'', which is an InNameOnly adaptation of the obscure 1943 book by Beth Brown.
** ''Rock-A-Doodle'' is a very loose AdaptationExpansion of the tale of Chanticleer the Rooster, and is also an equally loose adaptation of the play ''[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chantecler_(play) Chanticler]]'' by the French writer Edmond Rostand.
** ''Thumbelina'', which is based on the classic Creator/HansChristianAndersen fairy tale.
** ''Anastasia'' is a ''very'' loose adaptation of the 1956 Creator/IngridBergman film ''{{Film/Anastasia}}''.
* AuteurLicense: Went independent in an effort to gain one. Ironically, he got ''less'' control over his films with each success. He eventually had to sell the rights to all of his films after ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle'' bombed and the rest of his career languished in ExecutiveMeddling hell. That said, he still remains one of the few animation filmmakers to brand himself by his name rather than by a studio or team.
* AuthorAppeal: Reuniting with family and loved ones is a common theme in his films ([[WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail Fievel with his parents]], [[WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime Littlefoot with his grandparents]], [[WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven Charlie with Anne Marie]]). Bluth claims that this is because he rarely if ever sees his own family any more.
* AwardBaitSong: Occurs in almost all of his own animated features, and in fact Bluth [[TropeCodifier codified]] it with "Somewhere Out There" in ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail''.
* BlackAndWhiteMorality: Most of his films usually follow the typical hero vs villain story. Theres no debate who is good and who is bad.
* BreakTheCutie: Anytime there's a cute, young protagonist, expect terrible things to happen to them before the end in most of Bluth's movies.
%%* CarnivoreConfusion
* CatsAreMean: Written in giant, neon letters. His [[WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH first feature]] depicts one cat as a ''literal monster''! There are exceptions, like ''WesternAnimation/BanjoTheWoodpileCat'' and Edmund in ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle'', and even a mix of both [[MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch good]] and bad cats in ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail''. And despite his claim that he likes dogs better than cats, even they don't come of much better (Charlie and Carface - especially Carface - in ''All Dogs Go To Heaven'', the vicious dogs in ''Banjo'' and ''A Troll In Central Park'').
* CentralTheme: Family and ThePowerOfLove
* CherubicChoir: Used in nearly every one of his films.
* CoversAlwaysLie: The DVD covers to his films always use sub-par stock art and make the movie look far more [[LighterAndSofter cutesy]] than it really is. One of the worst victims, aside from the aforementioned "Family Fun Edition" of ''NIMH'' (perhaps better known for this because it has a more vocal fanbase), would have to be the cover of ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'', which shows Tanya as she appears in ''Fievel Goes West'', a movie Bluth ''didn't even direct''. And depending on which edition of the DVD it is, a lot of very minor background characters made it onto the cover, for whatever reason. Because the original VHS cover done by ''Drew Struzan'' apparently wasn't good enough anymore.
* CreatorThumbprint: In addition to his distinct illustrative art style, nearly all of his movies include scene with a character moving (usually falling) across a background with a tight vanishing point on either end (the mice falling down the vent in ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH'', Charlie ascending to heaven in ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven'', Bartok falling into the underworld in ''{{WesternAnimation/Anastasia}}'').
* CreepyShadowedUndereyes: Used on almost every villain in his movies.
%%* CuteLittleFangs
* DarkerAndEdgier: In more ways than one. His first four movies are considered to be some of the darkest family films in all of Western animation, let alone of the 1980s, with higher death tolls and more down-to-earth drama than even the darkest stuff Disney was making at the time or since. His own storytelling philosophy is that kids can handle dark stuff as long as it has a happy ending (even ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven'', one of the few American animated films to kill off its main character, had a cathartic ending). ExecutiveMeddling forced him to [[LighterAndSofter cheer up]] in the 90s until he was allowed to go back to darker stuff with ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}'' and eventually direct exactly one PG-rated film with ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE''.
* DirectToVideo: Second only to Disney, his first four films are notorious for their glut of cheap direct-to-video sequels, ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime'' being the worst offender with almost ''fifteen'' released between 1993 and 2016. Bluth has no involvement with any of them, save for maybe being offered to direct which he always turned down because he was busy with his own projects. ''WesternAnimation/BartokTheMagnificent'' is the only DTV sequel to one of his films that he oversaw.
%%* DisneyAcidSequence
%%* DisneyDeath
%%* DisneySchoolOfActingAndMime
%%* DisneyVillainDeath
* DownOnTheFarm: In ''WesternAnimation/BanjoTheWoodpileCat'', ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH'' and ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle''. Possibly a case of WriteWhatYouKnow because Bluth grew up on a farm; this is definitely the case with ''Banjo'', which was based on a childhood pet who got lost and later found his way back.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: And then some. In a lot of his films, this is probably the only thing that keeps his audiences from walking away severely depressed.
* EvilIsHammy: The Grand Duke from ''Rock-A-Doodle'' and the beetles from ''Thumbelina''. All Bluth films listed above from ''A Troll In Central Park'' to ''Bartok the Magnificent'' use this trope too.
* EvilSorcerer: Mordroc from ''Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp'', The Grand Duke from ''Rock-A-Doodle'', Gnorga from ''A Troll In Central Park'', and Rasputin from ''Anastasia''
* FollowTheLeader: ''WesternAnimation/{{Thumbelina|1994}}'' and ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}'' were pretty blatant attempts to copy the Disney formula.
* FurriesAreEasierToDraw: But then again, ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'' and ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}'' both had very well-animated humans as main characters (humans were usually simply rotoscoped in his earlier films). ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'' also used a significant amount of rotoscoping.
* GenreThrowback: All [[WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH four]] [[WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail of his]] [[WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime eighties]] [[WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven films]] are clearly trying to emulate the feel of Disney's earliest films such as ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' and ''Disney/{{Bambi}}''.
* GoneHorriblyRight: Great news, Don! Everyone likes your movies so much that Disney's decided to start putting more effort into theirs and now [[UsefulNotes/TheRenaissanceAgeOfAnimation animation is popular again]]! Bad news, now you have to compete with Disney's multi-million dollar hype-machine blockbusters ''and'' a handful of other features with better funding and advertisement than yours.
* GoodSmokingEvilSmoking: If a character smokes in one of his movies, expect them to be a villain.
* GrayRainOfDepression:
** First appears in ''WesternAnimation/BanjoTheWoodpileCat'', and the scene of a little lost animal crying in the rain is replicated almost identically in ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail''.
** It becomes a plot point in ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle.''
* GreyAndGrayMorality: ''Titan A.E.'' (the Drej are acting in premptive self-defense, while Corso is a very sympathetic AntiVillain).
%%* HappilyEverAfter
* HumansAreBastards: The scientists at the eponymous institute in ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH''. It doesn't really crop up much elsewhere, most humans are usually just ignorant in his other movies with animal protagonists.
* InkSuitActor: Not entirely, but one of Bluth's signatures is that when creating the characters, he likes to take physical features from their voice actors and incorporate them into the design.
* InstantIndexJustAddWater: Water and related tropes are featured extremely prominently in his five first movies; in each of these there is at least one rain sequence, one under water sequence (there is even a specific under water ''musical theme'' in ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime''), scenery where water is featured profusely (a watermill, a rusting cargo, sewers, docks...), several dramatic sequences and/or a climax involving water more or less directly...
* LighterAndSofter: ''Rock-a-Doodle'', ''Thumbelina'', ''A Troll In Central Park'', and ''The Pebble and the Penguin'' compared to the last four movies before them. Perhaps not coincidentally, these were his only films to flop critically and financially.
* LoveAtFirstSight: A trait of some of Bluth's projects.
** In ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH'', there is an implied attraction between Mrs. Brisby and Justin, but it doesn't go much further than that. Played more straight with Tony Toponi and Bridget in ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'', Goldie and Chanticleer in ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle'', ''WesternAnimation/{{Thumbelina|1994}}'' and Prince Cornelius, as well as Hubie and Marina in ''WesternAnimation/ThePebbleAndThePenguin''.
** Two exceptions are Anya and Dmitri in ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}'' and the leads in ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'', who both detest each other at the start.
* NiceMice: Probably the only exception in any of his movies would be Ms. Field Mouse from ''Thumbelina'', and even then she's just a bit of a {{Jerkass}}. Plenty of [[YouDirtyRat villainous rats]] in his work though.
* ObviouslyEvil: Most of his villains.
* ParentalAbandonment:
** [[WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime Littlefoot's mother]] was fatally wounded by Sharptooth, [[WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven Anne-Marie]] is an orphan, and Anastasia's whole family was murdered, except for her Grandma who she got separated from, getting amnesia in the process, and ended up in an orphanage for 10 years of her life.
** With WesternAnimation/BanjoTheWoodpileCat and [[WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail Fievel]], these abandonments were self-inflicted. Banjo ran away from home after being sick of constant punishment for getting into trouble, and Fievel was just too curious about the fish that washed up on the boat.
** And then there's ''WesternAnimation/TitanAE'', where '''the entire planet Earth''' is [[YouCantGoHomeAgain blown up within the first fifteen minutes]], leading to some fans calling it the "ultimate Don Bluth parental abandonment movie".
* PunchClockVillain: Killer in ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven'', Hunch in ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle'', and Llort in ''WesternAnimation/ATrollInCentralPark''. And they're all voiced by Charles Nelson Reilly.
* RandomEventsPlot: In addition to the inherent weirdness of his films, most of them tend to have rather bizarre, disjointed story structures. He has made some that have more straightforward stories, such as ''Dragon's Lair'', ''Space Ace'' and ''The Land Before Time''.
* ReusedCharacterDesign: While his films aren't ''too'' bad about this, if you really pay attention a lot of his characters have similar facial features, body types and mannerisms. For example, compare [[WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail Fievel]] to [[WesternAnimation/RockADoodle Edmond]], WesternAnimation/BanjoTheWoodpileCat to [[WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH Martin Brisby]], [[WesternAnimation/Thumbelina1994 Jacquimo]] to [[WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail Henri]], [[WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH The Great Owl]] to [[WesternAnimation/RockADoodle The Grand Duke of Owls]], [[WesternAnimation/RockADoodle one of the Duke's owl henchmen in the chorus]] (the one with the green cape, NOT Hunch!) to [[WesternAnimation/ThePebbleAndThePenguin Rocko]], [[WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail Warren T. Rat]] to [[WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven Carface]] or [[WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH Ms. Shrew]], [[WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven Carface]] to [[WesternAnimation/ATrollInCentralPark Gnorga]] and [[WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH Jenner]] to [[WesternAnimation/ThePebbleAndThePenguin Drake]].
* RidiculouslyCuteCritter: Nearly all the animal character designs.
* {{Rotoscoping}}: Bluth likes to do this a lot, but he usually sticks with using it to animate difficult vehicles and such. The effect is very appropriate, as the giant rotoscoped machines in ''NIMH'' and ''American Tail'' look ''terrifying''. In more recent movies, this effect was largely replaced by ConspicuousCG and the impact is... less good. Human background characters in ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH'' and ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'' were also rotoscoped, though non-rotoscoped humans appear in later movies.
* RuleOfSymbolism:
** Another common motif is characters unwillingly sliding, tumbling down or being washed away by water or wind. This is never played for the comedic effect; these sequences are always dramatic, as they emphasize the loss of control of the characters.
** Most of Bluth's films involve a metaphorical or literal journey down to hell. Keep in mind that Bluth is a life-long Mormon, and it's far easier to [[EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory read Christian themes into his films]] than it is with comparable Disney films.[[note]] Mormon theology doesn't have a comparable hell concept, so this theme may be more to add to the fairy tale atmosphere of some of his older movies.[[/note]]
* SceneryPorn: Often inverted -- Bluth's backgrounds can seem watery and washed-out to non-fans.
* SciFiWritersHaveNoSenseOfScale: Averted in a vast majority of his works, even ''WesternAnimation/ATrollInCentralPark''. For instance, look at the demon cat Dragon compared to the size of Brisby in ''WesternAnimation/TheSecretOfNIMH''.
* ShadesOfConflict: Most of his films could focus on BlackAndWhiteMorality, many of his films can differentiate.
** BlackAndGrayMorality: ''WesternAnimation/AllDogsGoToHeaven''
** BlackAndWhiteMorality: ''WesternAnimatiion/TheSecretOfNIMH'', ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}'', ''WesternAnimation/ATrollInCentralPark'',''WesternAnimation/BartokTheMagnificent'', ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle'' and ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime''. The last one, toys with WhiteAndGreyMorality with the antagonist, Sharptooth, looking like a mere animal that is just acting on its predatory instincts, whereas Littlefoot and his friends, except Cera, are unambiguously good. In the book however he is given intelligence making him unambiguously evil.
** GreyAndGrayMorality: ''Titan A.E''
* ShownTheirWork: For its time (hard emphasis on the "for its time" part), ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime'' was one of the most accurate dinosaur movies, at least in the sense that the dinosaurs in question were treated more or less like ordinary animals rather than sci-fi monsters.
* SlasherSmile: A common trend in his villainous characters.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: An interesting example in that his films are typically optimistic, but the characters go through hell to get their happy ending.
* SmallAnnoyingCreature: A stock character that shows up in his works to lighten the mood. Examples include Digit in ''WesternAnimation/AnAmericanTail'', Ducky and Petrie in ''WesternAnimation/TheLandBeforeTime'', Hunch from ''WesternAnimation/RockADoodle'' and Bartok from ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}''. The fact that one gets ''blown to pieces on-screen'' in [[WesternAnimation/TitanAE his final film]] shows that even he started to get sick of them after a while.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: ''Titan A.E.'' is very different from his other films for a variety of reasons. First, it didn't even start off with Bluth--it spend a while in DevelopmentHell before 20th Century Fox gave Bluth, fresh off the success of ''Anastasia'', the directors chair and 19 months to slam the film out. It also completely eschews the fairy tale aesthetic and tone of his previous films and, unlike his previous work ''Space Ace'', plays its Sci-Fi art and tone completely straight. And while Don's work is known for its dark elements already, this film throws in more cynical elements to go with it, which are sometimes played for laughs, and there are also no [[KidAppealCharacter kid friendly characters or sidekicks]] (with the possible exception of Gune) sandwiched in--in fact, the film takes a potshot at the trope when a Drej trooper [[BloodyHilarious unceremoniously (and comically)]] kills one such character who tried to tag along with Cale and Korso. The soundtrack also consists of pop music instead of an orchestral score. On top of that, it's also ''very'' heavy on CGI, far more than any of Bluth's previous work.
* StartMyOwn: Bluth's animation studios after he left Disney but before he joined Fox Animation.
* TechnicianVersusPerformer: The performer to Gary Goldman's technician. Bluth claims that he's better at coming up with broad ideas while Goldman is better at production. That said, it's clear that both their strengths lay more in technique than in story. The stories are there, but there's clearly more attention given to the animation.