Darker And Edgier: Animated Films

  • As far as Pixar movies go, Brave, The Incredibles, Cars 2 and Toy Story 3 are darker than the usual fare.
    • Toy Story 3 doubles as an example of Darker And Edgier within a series, and was an especially memorable case, since it took a series with a reputation for lightheartedness and gave it a Prison Episode.
    • The Incredibles: With gun violence, Electric Torture, suicide attempts, large-scale destruction, bad guys who Would Hurt a Child, and "good guys" who run from the police and lie to their own families, all in the same film, The Incredibles may very well be the darkest Pixar movie yet. Brad Bird's history of working on The Simpsons really comes through here.
    Brad: Really, really little kids should not see this movie. They should wait till they get older. We're getting some reactions from people who were disappointed that their four-year-old was a little freaked out by it. Well, I don't want to compromise the intensity in order to please a four-year-old.
    • A good portion of WALL•E takes place in a dark, trashed covered earth. Not to mention the main character is completely alone. His only company is a cockroach. He then finds himself on a colorful starship full of apathetic obese people.
  • As for the Disney Animated Canon, The Black Cauldron and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are considered to be among Disney's darkest. The Black Cauldron was known for its use of darker fantasy concepts, such as the undead, and was the first Disney Animated Canon movie to get a PG rating. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, despite getting a G rating, is just as dark. The whole story is driven by the villain's sexual obsession with one of the female protagonists, and a number of darker themes - including lust and religious fanaticism - are shown. It's still Lighter and Softer than the original book, however.
    • Frozen is a major, major contender for this, despite having a bodycount of only 2 minor characters (the King and Queen), and the villains punished justly without death. The film features childhood trauma, dead parents, murderous noblemen, a comic relief character that spends the movie dreaming about what would kill him, and the entire cast nearly dying in a massive snowstorm near the end.
    • While not as extreme as the above, The Lion King is considered darker than most Disney movies seeing as it involves the villain successfully killing one of the good guys, his own brother, for real, and clearly averted Never Say "Die". It also dealt rather bluntly with issues like mass starvation. Roger Ebert notably stated that Lion King "is surprisingly solemn in its subject matter, and may even be too intense for very young children."
      • Even in comparison to the first movie, the sequel is perhaps even darker. Its Villain Song is considered much more intense than that of the first, subjects like child abuse and war are dealt with much more bluntly, and the violence is both heavier and more frequent.
    • Disney's Pinocchio is dark both literally and metaphorically. There's a few really horrifying sequences such as the scene where a boy is seen turning into a donkey, made even worse when we see tons of other boys being turned into donkeys who are either sold to the salt mines or kept to pull the carriage to take more boys to the island to meet the same horrifying fate. Even more unusual for a Disney film, there are three different people who serve as villains (four if you count Monstro), and all of them get away with the things they do, including the ruthless coachmen who kidnaps boys and turns them into donkeys.
    • Mulan thoroughly addresses the subject of war, and the grim consequences thereof, including the implied large-scale murder of the innocent and the grieving family members of those killed. Unfortunately for some, the comic relief may ruin the mood of these scenes.
      • And Mulan's strategic avalanche-triggering makes her personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of men, something you cannot say about any other Disney Princess.
      • The original poster for the film, compared to the VHS cover.
    • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is way darker/edgier than the original classic. We have Lady Tremaine concocting a very diabolical plan, this time with dark magic on her side, a demonic pumpkin carriage that nearly carries Cinderella to her doom and a pretty intense climax. In addition, Cinderella and her prince take levels in badass.
  • How to Train Your Dragon wasn't that dark or edgy, but it was more serious compared to most of DreamWorks' other animated films, and it's certainly Darker And Edgier than the book it was based on.
    • The sequel takes it further. Here, the Big Bad wants to enslave all dragons, there is a battle with a gigantic ice dragon and one of the main characters dies. Oh, not only that, it was the titular dragon, Brainwashed and Crazy that killed him.
  • The 2009 made-for-DVD animated film Wonder Woman takes this approach. Wonder Woman is shown killing on numerous occasions, including cold-bloodedly killing several guards (including two who have their throats cut by her tiara). The film also ramps up the sexual innuendo.
  • The G.I. Joe animated film G.I. Joe: Resolute predated the live-action GI Joe The Riseof Cobra in depicting the Joes as actually hitting and killing enemy soldiers, something that was rather glossed over in the classic TV series.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 is significantly darker than the first film. Multiple characters are Killed Off for Real on screen, (though we don't see their bodies) and the Never Say "Die" rule is broken a LOT, to the point where it seems like "death", "dead", and "kill" are used every other sentence. The villain wants to take over all of China with giant cannons that are seemingly unstoppable and really are used to kill. And then there's the repressed memories of Po's traumatizing childhood, which involved the attempted genocide of his entire species.
    • The first film was also an example in comparison to most other DreamWorks Animation films at the time, which were mostly pure comedy while Kung Fu Panda is an action/comedy with some pretty serious drama thrown in as well. Even the comedy is a bit more mature, with Dreamworks dropping the pop-culture jokes that they had been previously known for. This is a trend that would later be continued by How to Train Your Dragon.
  • Transformers: The Movie compared to most of the rest of the series, the original series occasionally took a darker turn but everything usually turned out fine in the end, but in the movie the vast majority of the original Autobots are killed within the first 20 minutes in increasingly gruesome manners Optimus Prime included, later the surviving Autobots (mostly newer characters) band together to save the world from Unicron, a planet eating Transformer, while having to avoid Galvatron, the rebuilt Megatron.
  • Digimon X-Evolution. When Digimon die, they actually leave their corpses behind, the hero has an attack called "All Delete", and previous heroes are ruthless killers.
  • Epic is this to Blue Sky Studios' other films. As Blue Sky stuck mainly with comedies, this is their first film where the action is pushed to the forefront. Characters die, and a few have major daddy issues.
  • Despicable Me: In the first film, when the girls were taken by Vector, things just got really serious. Especially the sequel, Never Say "Die" is averted multiple times, and the villain's plans for global domination are to set the Brainwashed and Crazy minions (who are turned into omnicidal maniacs as a result of the PX-41 serum) onto the major continents if world's leaders don't hand over control to him. And he wants Gru to help him.
  • The Secret Of NIMH is much more frightening than than the novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. While it has does have some elements of Disneyfication, the majority of the events are Played for Drama more than in the book, considering the protagonist is a mouse. For example, Brutus scares off Mrs. Brisby with a spear rather than simply turning her back from the rosebush. Then there's onscreen blood, an evil villain, multiple violent deaths, and the threat of Mrs. Brisby's home sinking into the mud, all of which were completely absent from the novel. The director and producers tried to get a PG rating to appeal to a wider audience, but it rated G anyway.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks is notably darker than the first Equestria Girls. While the Big Bad of the first film was a failed former student of Celestia's turned Alpha Bitch, seeking control and power over others without having known The Power of Friendship, and was redeemed in the end, the Big Bad trio of this film were evil from the get-go, having terrorized Equestria as sirens in the past before being banished to the human world, and in addition to brainwashing the entire school into fighting other via Mind-Control Music, also increase their power from the resulting negative emotions, similar to the Windigos. Sunset Shimmer, said reformed Alpha Bitch learns the hard fact that although her new friends have done their best to forgive and forget, the other students at CHS aren't so forgiving. She's shunned, passive aggressively mocked and reminded of her admittedly cruel misdeeds despite her attempts to stay on the straight and narrow, and her resulting depression and self-esteem are treated realistically. When the Humane Five get in an argument after being locked up, the Dazzlings take advantage of the infighting to empower themselves to nearly-unstoppable levels. After being Brought Down to Normal, they only get off with losing their singing voices and being humiliated by the audience.
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games is a bit darker. This time, the villain Principle Cinch isn't a magical denizen from Equestria, she's just a petty school administrator with no bigger aim than to maintain her school's reputation and her pride. She blackmails and intimidates human Twilight Sparkle into competing in the titular games because she's their brightest student. Like Sunset before her, the years of neglect and peer pressure by the students have taken a toll on her optimism, to the point where she believes she's better off without caring about anyone else. Sunset herself while doing better, still has some anxieties to work through, especially since Princess Twilight can't be there as her crutch, and has to work out the problem of new magic on her own. The Games themselves are rather lighthearted, but the underlying threat of Twilight's captured magic creating tears into the Equestrian universe is treated very seriously. At the climax, she gives in to the school's bullying and pressuring to unleash the magic she's stored in her amulet, her despair and negativity painfully transforming her into the intimidating Midnight Sparkle. With her curiosity taken to an extreme, she's obssessed with magic and has no hesitation over destroying their universe to get to Equestria, posing the largest threat in the franchise thus far.
  • The Franklin film Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure threw off a lot of viewers with this and pretty much completely split parents and the show's base. Franklin is an animated children's show once aired on Nick Jr in the United States in which a typical story dealt with something like two friends having a sleepover, or having an argument about a lost baseball card. Franklin and Friends, its All-CGI Cartoon spinoff, features stories pretty much along the same lines. The Turtle Lake Treasure film opens with the title character's grandmother having a flashback of her losing her home and family in a fire. Later, the same grandmother falls ill, and Franklin states out loud his worry that she might die. He and his friends, along with two new characters, one of his aunts and her goddaughter, go on a journey to retrieve a magic amulet and along the way, Franklin's friend Snail is kidnapped by a group of birds and spirited away to their nest on a high mountain.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants ' film adaptations are much more darker than the series.
    • The first movie. Unlike the rest of the series, this movie is considerably a lot darker and has plenty of horror elements. Plankton is more depraved and vicious than in the series, to the point that he sadistically shows excitement and joy when King Neptune is about to kill Mr. Krabs, not to mention the monsters that abound in the way of SpongeBob and Patrick and the mercenary Dennis sent by Plankton to kill the duo.
    • While it's not as dark as the first movie, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water still has its moments compared to the show. A major example being that the Bikini Bottom Apocalypse is actually played rather seriously, especially in the sacrifice scene.