Franchise / Disney Animated Canon

"To think six years ahead - even two or three - in this business of making animated cartoon features, it takes calculated risk and much more than blind faith in the future of theatrical motion pictures. I see motion pictures as a family-founded institution closely related to the life and labor of millions of people. Entertainment such as our business provides has become a necessity, not a luxury... it is the part which offers us the greatest reassurance about the future in the animation field."

The animated feature films produced by Disney's main feature animation studio, currently known as Walt Disney Animation Studios, has a long history.

In 1937, Walt Disney released the first feature-length animated film in the English-speaking world and the first feature film made completely with hand-drawn animation. However, it wasn't, as many claim, the first feature-length animated film ever. Foreign examples predating Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and using other kinds of animation include Argentina's The Apostle (combining hand-drawn with cutout animation) in 1917, Germany's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (done with silhouette animation) in 1926, and The Soviet Union's The New Gulliver (done with Stop Motion) in 1935.

This category does not include Pixar productions, nor does it include every animated feature released by Disney (such as those created by DisneyToon Studios, Direct-to-Video Sequels, Studio Ghibli dubs, animated films made under a different Disney banner such as The Nightmare Before Christmas or animated films distributed by Disney but produced by non-Disney studios). There don't seem to be any hard-and-fast rules as to which movies get to be part of the canon and which don't, but generally, the canon films are made by the Disney feature animation unit (live-action/animation hybrids like Song of the South and Mary Poppins tend not to count unless the animation is the bulk of the film, as in The Three Caballeros, Fun and Fancy Free or Melody Time). The Other Wiki has a set of lists for both the canon and non-canon films.

See also Disney Princess, Enchanted (an Affectionate Parody of Disney's own films), Kingdom Hearts, a video game series which also seems to follow the rule of only using canonical characters from nearly all of these films (and then some!), or House of Mouse which represents almost every canonical movie with at least a cameo appearance. Once Upon a Time is a live-action fairy tale Massive Multiplayer Crossover shown on Disney-owned ABC, with versions of the fairy tale characters heavily and obviously indebted to the Disney animated film versions. Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Nightmare Before Christmas were both produced and released by Disney under its Touchstone Pictures banner (the latter's 3D rereleases were under the Disney banner). Compare the works of former Disney animator Don Bluth, as well as the two feature length animated films made by Fleischer Studios. For notable Disney staff, go here. For when these movies become available for home viewing, go here.

    The Films (In Chronological Order) 
  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937; carries the honor of being the first full-length animated feature film in the English-speaking world)note 
  2. Pinocchio (1940)note 
  3. Fantasia* (1940)
  4. Dumbo (1941)
  5. Bambi (1942)
  6. Saludos Amigos* (1943)
  7. The Three Caballeros* (1945)
  8. Make Mine Music* (1946)
  9. Fun and Fancy Free* (1947)note 
  10. Melody Time* (1948)
  11. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad* (1949)
  12. Cinderella (1950)
  13. Alice in Wonderland (1951)
  14. Peter Pan (1953; last film to have all nine of Disney's Nine Old Men working together, along with the last entry to be distributed by RKO Radio Pictures)
  15. Lady and the Tramp (1955; first entry to be distributed by Buena Vista; the film has a custom Vanity Plate for this label)
  16. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
  17. 101 Dalmatians (1961)
  18. The Sword in the Stone (1963; final animated film released while Walt was alive)
  19. The Jungle Book (1967; final animated film produced while Walt was alive)
  20. The Aristocats (1970; final film Walt personally green-lit, and the beginning of the Dork Age of Disney)
  21. Robin Hood (1973; final animated film released while all of Disney's Nine Old Men were alive)
  22. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh* (1977; partially made while Walt was alive)
  23. The Rescuers (1977; end of the Dork Age/start of the Dark Age)
  24. The Fox and the Hound (1981; last film that any of Disney's Nine Old Men worked on apart from Eric Larson, along with the last entry to be distributed by Buena Vista)
  25. The Black Cauldron (1985; the first animated Disney film to carry a PG rating due to violence and nightmarish imagery)
  26. The Great Mouse Detective (1986; last film to have one of Disney's Nine Old Men directly credited; that was Eric Larson, who retired this year and died soon after)
  27. Oliver & Company (1988; the last film of the Dark Age)
  28. The Little Mermaid (1989; the first film of the Disney Renaissance)
  29. The Rescuers Down Under (1990; first completely digital film ever produced)
  30. Beauty and the Beast (1991; the only movie of the canon to be nominated for Best Picture so far)
  31. Aladdin (1992; first animated film to gross $200 million)
  32. The Lion King (1994; the most successful traditionally-animated film of all time and the third-highest grossing film in the canon)
  33. Pocahontas (1995)
  34. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
  35. Hercules (1997)
  36. Mulan (1998)
  37. Tarzan (1999; the last film of the Disney Renaissance)
  38. Fantasia 2000* (1999; follow-up to Fantasia; first animated film initially released in IMAX theaters; the first film of Disney's "Post-Renaissance" era)
  39. Dinosaur (2000; first hybrid-CGI movie done without Pixar)**
  40. The Emperor's New Groove (2000)
  41. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
  42. Lilo & Stitch (2002; first entry to be nominated for Best Animated Feature; the most successful film of the "Post-Renaissance" era)note 
  43. Treasure Planet (2002)
  44. Brother Bear (2003)
  45. Home on the Range (2004; last traditionally-animated film until 2009)note 
  46. Chicken Little (2005; first true CGI movie done without Pixar and the last movie with a variation of the original Walt Disney Pictures logo)
  47. Meet the Robinsons (2007)
  48. Bolt (2008; usually considered the last film of the "Post-Renaissance" era, although it's sometimes considered the first film of the Disney Revival)
  49. The Princess and the Frog (2009; first traditionally-animated film after 2004; usually considered the first film of the Disney Revival) note 
  50. Tangled (2010; Disney released a rather nifty video to celebrate its milestone as the fifty mark)
  51. Winnie-the-Pooh (2011; last traditionally-animated film to date)
  52. Wreck-It Ralph (2012)
  53. Frozen (2013; first entry to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature; currently the most successful animated film of all time and the first film in the canon to gross a billion dollars worldwide)
  54. Big Hero 6 (2014; won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature)
  55. Zootopia (2016; the second-highest grossing film in the canon thus far and the second to gross a billion dollars worldwide)

* Consists of several short films released as one feature.

** In the UK, this film is not considered part of the Canon. Instead, The Wild (2006) is in its place.

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Upcoming films

  • Moana (2016)
  • Wreck-It Ralph 2 (2018)
  • Gigantic (2018)
  • Frozen 2 (planned for 2019)
  • King of the Elves (TBA; was announced in 2008, but has been in development hell since)
  • The Name Game (TBA)
  • Teen Space Race (TBA)

Cancelled films

  • The Wizard Of Oz (the studio did some conceptual art for it shortly after Snow White but it was canceled in pre-production after MGM released their own version. Incidentally, Disney would much later release an "unofficial" sequel and prequel to the MGM version.)
  • Chanticleer (some ideas from development migrated into Don Bluth's Rock-A-Doodle)
  • The Gremlins (Based on Roald Dahl's book. Questions of whether plane sabotaging creatures could be made sympathetic and development running late into the war leading to a cancellation due to possibly becoming dated. Some Gremlins would later appear in the 2010 video game Epic Mickey.)
  • Don Quixote (just like several other attempts to adapt that story into a movie have been cancelled)
  • Fraidy Cat (a homage to the work of Alfred Hitchcock focused around house pets, was supposed to be Ron Clement's and John Muskers' next film after Treasure Planet)
  • Wild Life (a Pygmalion-type story about a nightclub recruiting a singing zoo elephant to hype into the next big thing to discredit a critic, cancelled due to concerns about more mature content)
  • My Peoples (Loose Appalachian set adaptation of The Canterville Ghost, cancelled due to the closure of the Florida studio, which was the only one making the movie)
  • Fantasia 2006 (due to shifting management; several shorts were completed and released separately)
  • Mort (Disney couldn't get the adaptation rights, which were sold as one large package rather than individually)
  • The Search For Mickey Mouse (Was going to be Disney's first Crossover of all their characters, centering around Mickey getting kidnapped and Minnie recruiting a group to find him. It was also going to be their 50th animated film until new management restructured everything.)
  • Sequels were planned for films such as The Jungle Book and Bambi during earlier phases, though didn't get past early production stages (allegedly due to Walt not being a fan of sequels). Actual follow ups were made much later on, though are not made part of Disney canon. A Tangled sequel was also considered at one point.
    • In their line of Direct-to-Video sequels, Disney had plans to make Dumbo 2, The Jungle Book 3, The Aristocats 2, Chicken Little 2note , and Meet the Robinsons 2. Dumbo 2 was in on-and-off development for a while (even though it was promoted on the 2001 DVD of Dumbo) before being cancelled altogether, while The Jungle Book 3 was cancelled after the under-performance of The Jungle Book 2. The remaining three projects were cancelled under order of John Lasseter after Walt Disney Animation Studios was given control over DisneyToon Studios (the division making the sequels) in 2007.
  • Kingdom of the Sun, an Inca-era prince and the pauper type Animated Musical, which was later retooled into The Emperor's New Groove, and the subject of the documentary The Sweatbox.

Tropes common to the Disney Animated Canon:

  • Adaptational Comic Relief:
    • The Jungle Book was intended to be Lighter and Softer than the book it was based on. Baloo became a fun-loving character who has a scatting duel with an orangutan, rather than a serious law teacher. Most of the other characters underwent a similar evolution (with the possible exception of Shere Khan).
    • The Genie in Aladdin becomes a Fun Personified, cartoony character in contrast to the original story, where he was basically just a magical prop character for Aladdin to use.
    • Big Hero 6 has three examples: Baymax in the comics was built by Hiro to act as his bodyguard. Movie!Baymax is a gentle and naive acrofatic healthcare robot who was built by Hiro's Canon Foreigner brother, Tadashi. Wasabi No Ginger goes from a quiet, disciplined warrior to a neurotic plasma engineer with Super OCD. Fred goes from The Stoic to a Fun Personified, Plucky Comic Relief character.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Disney tends to do this to certain characters in their adaptations as often as they'll make other characters into villains.
    • Pinocchio: Pinocchio was still the hero in the original, but was altered from a Bratty Half-Pint to a more innocent and merely easily misguided Cheerful Child. Geppetto is a milder example. He was similarly altered from a bad-tempered, antisocial crank to a kindhearted character who genuinely wants a son of his own — and something of a Badass Grandpa to boot.
    • In the original stories and plays by J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan was one of The Fair Folk and came off as a Sociopathic Hero - he didn't show much concern for his "friends," took nightmarish pleasure in killing pirates, and even murdered Lost Boys just for growing up (or to make a battle against the pirates more interesting). The Disney version, understandably, left out this aspect of Peter.
    • Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh went from a melancholic and self-centered Jerkass in the books to a forlorn sweetheart who just needs a hug in the Disney films and associated media.
    • The Enchantress from Beauty and the Beast is a curious example. In the original tale, she was a wicked fairy who cursed the prince for no good reason. The film has her curse the prince after he refuses her shelter and shows himself to be selfish. While not presented as a heroic character, her spell served to teach the prince about love rather than anything malicious. Still pretty callous though in regards to the servants and castle staff who got transformed into sentient housewares because they happened to work for a guy who needed to learn a lesson about being selfish.
    • Similar to Pinocchio, Aladdin is a great deal more ruthless and unscrupulous in the original tale.
    • Captain Phoebus from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is transformed from a dishonest cad to a genuinely heroic figure, being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at worst. And Quasimodo, while not being as mean as Phoebus in the book, is transformed from a rude and angry Jerkass to a timid and kind guy.
    • Hercules: By modern standards, the Hercules of Greek Myth wasn't exactly a paragon of heroic virtue. He killed more than one innocent person simply for being too close when his temper got the better of him (although he was always remorseful when this happened), and he would go stage a HUGE war for a mere verbal insult one day, although he did went to great lengths to help his friends and his deeds did the world a lot of good. The Hercules in this movie is a wide eyed boy scout who doesn't have much, if any, vices. The worst thing he does is lash out at Phil for trying to warn him about Meg being in league with Hades, but he immediately comes to regret that. Also, Hera is presented as Hercules's loving mother. In the myths, she was not his mother and did not like him one bit - it was her that made Herc go mad and murder his wife. The film omits that plot entirely and gives Adaptational Villainy to Hades. And anyone who knows their Greek myth knows that Zeus is a self-righteous, womanizing jerk and rapist. Here, he's pretty much a cross between Grandpa God and Bumbling Dad who certainly loves Hercules and stays loyal with Hera, making his status as a Top God of Mt. Olympus and Big Good of the series a lot more plausible.
    • In Tarzan, Kerchak is deeply suspicious of the title character, but only because he considers him a potential threat. Other than that, he's a heroic figure and good leader. In the original books, on the other hand, he was a straight-up Killer Gorilla who was responsible for the death of Tarzan's father.
    • Rapunzel's parents in Tangled. The father steals lettuce from a witch's garden in the original tale, simply because his pregnant wife had a craving for them. They also disappear from the story and never seem to bother about the whereabouts of the daughter they gave up. In the film, the mother is dying. And rather than knowingly stealing from the witch, they find a golden flower that the witch had been using to make herself young. And the witch kidnaps the baby. Rapunzel is also reunited with her parents at the end - and they're implied to have been searching for her all her life.
    • Elsa the Snow Queen from Frozen is Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, instead of the Designated Villain from the original tale.
    • Big Hero 6 has GoGo Tomago. Her comic counterpart was a criminal who was forced into the team to avoid imprisonment. In the film, she is a noble and kind Action Girl who willingly joined the team.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Some characters in Disney's adaptations of a story have their personalities completely overhauled:
    • In The Jungle Book, Baloo and Bageehra essentially switch personalities (Baloo was a stern mentor and Bagheera was a laid-back friend in the book), Kaa becomes a clownish villain rather than a wise mentor for Mowgli, and Shere Khan is turned from a Smug Snake to a Faux Affably Evil villain.
    • In The Little Mermaid, the Sea Witch becomes a cunning, dishonest, power-hungry villain who tricks Ariel into signing a contract with her, rather than the neutral character in the original tale who warns the mermaid of the consequences of her magic.
    • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, compared to their book counterparts, Quasimodo is much more gentle, Esmeralda is smarter and less naive, and Phoebus is more heroic, with his womanizer tendencies dropped. Meanwhile, Frollo gets Adaptational Villainy and loses all his redeeming traits (which are given to an original character, the Archdeacon of Notre-Dame).
    • In Tarzan, Kerchak is a stern, but benevolent leader of the apes, rather than the violent, abusive character he is in the books.
  • Adaptational Villainy: A lot of their movie adaptations tend to do this to characters from their original stories;
    • Pinocchio: The puppeteer from Pinocchio (Mangiafuoco in the book, Stromboli in the film). In the film he was far more cruel and simply wanted to exploit Pinocchio and states that he'll use him as firewood after he can't perform anymore. In the book although he initially does want to use Pinocchio as firewood after the boy accidentally ruins one of his puppet shows, Pinocchio is able to convince him not to do so, and he even gives the talking puppet some coins to help Geppetto out. This is probably an influence from Alexey N. Tolstoy's book adaptation, Buratino, where the puppeteer, named Carabas Barabas, is the main villain and a very ominous person (although, incidentally, the scene mentioned above still happens anyways).
    • Fantasia: Chernabog in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence. While he was a black god, he wasn't evil as a pre-christian slavic deity. Though we don't really know enough about Chernobog to say whether he was or wasn't evil, it's certain he wasn't a giant Satanic figure who called up the spirits of the damned. The film works around this by referring to him as Satan himself, but Disney prefers to call him Chernabog these days.
    • Bambi: Ronno the deer is a jealous bully who spends much of his time antagonizing Bambi, culminating in their battle over Faline. In the original book, Ronno and Bambi were actually good friends instead of enemies, although this does change as they grow older and see each other as competition for does. Also, the human hunters in the book are ordinary people who are frightening and god-like from the perspective of the animals, although Bambi's father makes a point of showing Bambi a dead hunter to teach him that humans are subject to the same rules as the forest animals are. In the Disney movie, the hunters are explicitly reckless and careless, shooting everything that moves and setting the forest ablaze from a badly tended campfire. Bambi's mother is, judging from the time of her death in early spring, the victim of a poacher.
    • Alice in Wonderland: The Queen of Hearts is depicted as an Ax-Crazy villainess in the Disney adaptation. In the book by Lewis Carroll, while she does constantly order executions, the King quietly pardons everybody she sentences to death when she isn't looking and no real harm is done. She never notices this, and the inhabitants of Wonderland just choose to play along with her. Also, it's outright said by the Gryphon that she doesn't execute anyone. Part of the reason for this is because the Queen as depicted in the movie is a mash-up of three different characters from Alice's Adventure in Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass (the Queen of Hearts, the Duchess and the Red Queen). The King himself goes from pardoning people to openly supporting the Queen's executions. The Cheshire Cat in the Disney movie is a Jerk Ass to Alice if not a villain, while in the book he was a more friendly character. And as a lesser example, the White Rabbit in the Disney version is a pompous servant of the Queen. In the book he's a little friendlier to Alice, advising her not to play well in the croquet game so the Queen can win. The Walrus in "The Walrus and the Carpenter" also goes through this. While neither he nor the Carpenter were particularly good people in the original poem (Alice notes that the Walrus showed remorse for his actions but still ate more oysters than the Carpenter, while the Carpenter ate as many as he could), he was much more remorseful in the poem. Here, however, he's depicted as an arrogant, manipulative, greedy, evil aristocrat.
    • The Jungle Book: Kaa the python. In the book, he is a mentor and friend of Mowgli as much as Bagheera and Baloo are and helps to save him when he is kidnapped by monkeys, engages him in friendly wrestling matches, and offers him advice for battle against the dholes, indeed never harming or threatening him in any way and saving his life more than once. The other animals in the jungle respect and fear him for his wisdom and powers of hypnosis, which only Mowgli, because he is human, is immune to. In the Disney movie, he is an Affably Evil villain whose only role in the plot is to serve as a minor nuisance. Apparently it was thought by Disney that audiences wouldn't accept a snake as a heroic character. This also applies to Shere Kahn; In the books he was an antagonist, but represented as somewhat pitiful (he has a bad leg, restricting his ability to hunt), is something of an arrogant fool, and is taken half-heartedly by a lot of residents of the jungle, including Bagheera. The other animals generally see him as a troublemaker and a coward because he attacks humans (something forbidden under the Law of the Jungle), and characters like Bagheera and Kaa command a lot more respect and fear. In the original Disney film, he is somewhat comedic and playful, but is genuinely feared and implied to be stronger than many animals put together.
    • The Black Cauldron: The three witches in the film are grasping and sneaky, if not evil, characters who try and trick Taran into giving up a treasure for the cauldron. In the book, they are neutral figures who bend their own rules to help Taran and the others get rid of it.
    • The Little Mermaid: The Sea Witch in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale is a neutral character who shows no vindictive intentions toward the unnamed mermaid, only making the famous tongue-for-legs exchange, even warning the mermaid of the consequences of the transformation. She doesn't go back on the deal or interfere with her relationship with the prince until she is asked to by the mermaid's sisters, and only indirectly. In the Disney movie, she is named Ursula, is an out-and-out villain with a tendency toward Faustian deals, and gets in the way of Ariel's romance with Prince Eric far more than the character in the fairy tale did. Ursula also takes the place of the princess who the prince eventually marries in the original, who is innocent in Andersen's fairy tale and genuinely loves him.
    • Aladdin: While its far from the first adaptation to make Grand Vizier Jafar a villain, its probably the most well known example of it. In the Arabian Nights, Jafar was a minor character but generally a hero (although Sunni tradition, which thinks very highly of Harun al-Rashid, assumed that Ja'far must have been guilty of something if the great Caliph had him killed). And in the Aladdin story, the Grand Vizier (who is actually not the same character as Jafar, as Jafar did not appear in the Arabian Nights Aladdin story, but he is replaced by Jafar in the movie) is hostile to Aladdin at first, but then he has a point, and is actually The Good Chancellor in contrast to the Disney movies depiction of Jafar as an Evil Chancellor; the real villain of the story is a magician from North Africa.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Claude Frollo was a more sympathetic character in the original novel by Victor Hugo. While driven to evil deeds later by his lust for Esmeralda, he willingly adopts and cares for Quasimodo, instead of threatening to throw him down a well as he did in the Disney version of the story. All while looking after his layabout of a brother, Jehan (who most movie adaptations composite with Claude), and being orphaned himself to boot. He was also more tolerant of gypsies, asking only that they keep their activities away from the cathedral rather than actively hunting them down. Also, Frollo was originally archdeacon of Notre Dame; in the movie, the archdeacon is a seperate, kindly character, who induces a guilt trip on Frollo at the beginning and is beaten up by him at the end. In a sense, both these scenes depict the man struggling with himself. It's believed the reason for this Adaptational Villainy was due to Disney being concerned that having a priest for a Big Bad would offend people, and their solution was to divide the literary character in two and give one all the good qualities and the other all the bad.
    • Hercules: Hades is a Satan-like villain (again), intent on overthrowing Zeus and taking over Mount Olympus. In Classical Mythology, he was a neutral but just ruler of the dead and was downright nice compared to the other Greek gods. Hades had no antagonism towards Heracles, only meeting the hero when Heracles asked to borrow Cerberus for one of his twelve labors. Heracles's original divine enemy was Hera, his stepmother and Zeus's wife. As for overthrowing Zeus, Hades never tried that in the myths. While Hades did kidnap Persephone (with Zeus's permission), he was nowhere near as bad a husband as his brothers Zeus and Poseidon. In fact, Hades is probably the least antagonistic god Hercules ever met in the original myth; the entire obstacle Hercules has in borrowing Cerberus is that Hades politely asks Hercules to bring it back when he's done. His sidekicks, Pain and Panic, also go through this compared to Deimos and Phobos, who they were both very loosely based on. While neither of their original counterparts were exactly good guys, they were the son of Ares and definitely weren't evil, impish comic relief lackeys. In fact, Heracles worshiped Phobos as a god and had him depicted on his shield. And in the myths, the Cyclopes were Zeus' allies in the fight against the Titans, and they gave the thunderbolt to Zeus, the trident to Poseidon and the helmet of invisibility to Hades. The movie has one lone Cyclops who is in league in the Titans, and is sent by Hades to destroy Thebes and kill Hercules.
    • Tarzan: Clayton. In the novels, he is Tarzan's cousin who inherits the title after Tarzan's parents are presumed dead. His worst fault is that he is not as brave or capable as Tarzan, and his worst crime is concealing Tarzan's true identity after he figures out the truth so that he can keep the title. Other than that, he is a decent man who is willing to sacrifice himself for Jane. In the movie, he is an Egomaniac Hunter.
    • Fantasia 2000: In the story of "The Firebird Suite", the titular creature aids a Prince to defeating an evil wizard. In the animated segment at the end of the film, the Firebird is a destructive Eldritch Abomination in the shape of a bird that destroys an entire forest.
    • Wreck-It Ralph: A number of villains get together for a support group, and among them is Zangief, who isn't a villain in the games - though he is often a victim of this trope, being a villain in both the first live-action Street Fighter movie and Street Fighter American cartoon. This makes his comments toward Ralph during his sole scene all the more poignant.
    • Big Hero 6: In the comics, Hiro Takachiho is an Ordinary High-School Student. At the start of the animated movie, Hiro Hamada partakes in illegal bot-fights before his brother shows him around his school.
  • An Aesop: Most of the films in the line-up have one, though how prevalent and deeply tied into the story it is varies from film to film.
  • Anachronism Stew: Several of their features deliberately employ this for laughs, most famously Aladdin, Hercules and The Emperors New Groove. Even the more serious features like The Hunchback of Notre Dame will employ anachronisms for laughs (most notably in the "A Guy Like You" musical number). Some features like Mulan and Atlantis: The Lost Empire employ it on purpose for the sake of atmosphere or story.
  • Animorphism:
  • Animated Adaptation:
  • Animated Musical: Most of the movies in the canon are this, though there are exceptions such as Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, Wreck-It Ralph, and Zootopia.
  • Animation Bump: Generally in the musical numbers, the animation may change.
  • Audience Shift:
    • Wreck-It Ralph was made to appeal to gamers along with traditional children/family audiences.
    • Big Hero 6 is aimed at Marvel superhero fans and the general boy demographic.
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet were designed to appeal to teenagers more than just children. Unlike the film released in between them, they did not do well at the box office.
    • The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company and The Little Mermaid were intended by Roy E. Disney and (then-new) studio heads Jeffrey Katzenberg and Peter Schneider to take Disney animation in a lighter, more 1980s direction after former studio head Ron Miller's attempts in the late 1970s/early 1980s to take the studio in a darker and moodier direction with The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron pretty much ended in failure (Rescuers and Fox and Hound were still financial successes, with Rescuers getting a sequel from the new guard; Cauldron was NOT a success, and almost killed the canon off). The Great Mouse Detective itself was retitled from Basil of Baker Street after Michael Eisner decided that the original name was "too English" for American kids, which led to a major backlash from the animators who were working on the film; they protested with an infamous fake memo that Katzenberg got, and said memo made it to the press and on to Jeopardy!, embarrassing Schneider in the process; Schneider repaid the favor by ripping into the department in a meeting for the stunt (Katzenberg was also unamused with the decoy memo at first, but he lightened up to the situation according to the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty).
    • On a similar note, recently and not without backlash, Tangled and Frozen received their title changes from Rapunzel and The Snow Queen respectively as well as a whole new marketing strategy to make sure their more princess-central films can still net young males. Notably this came after the presumed failings of The Princess and the Frog. Though admittedly it was for the better as far as Frozen is concerned, seeing as the title fits the setting and theme a lot more than The Snow Queen does (it was also initially going to be an adaptation of The Snow Queen, but ended up being inspired by it instead).
    • Of course, the MPAA rating system didn't exist until 1968, so everything released before then (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through The Jungle Book) had the G rating applied to them retroactively on their post-'68 re-releases.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Specifically in The Evil Queen, Vanessa, Gaston, Mother Gothel, and Hans' case.
  • Big Bad: See this page for the entire list.
  • Big Good: See the trope's page for the entire list.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At least a few of the films are notable aversions of the franchises movies having happy endings;
    • Pinocchio: The main protagonist gets reunited with Geppetto and becomes a real boy, but most of the villains, specially the Coachman, are never punished. And those hundreds of innocent children who were taken from their families, turned into donkeys, and sold into slavery? They're still donkeys and no one comes to save them.
    • In Make Mine Music, In the final segment Willie the Whale is harpooned, but now he's in heaven, free to sing to his heart's content.
    • Melody Time: Happens in two segments. Johnny Appleseed dies, but has left a huge legacy in his wake and is off to grow apple trees in heaven; while Pecos Bill gives up being a cowboy after the death of his fiancé Slue-Foot Sue, but Texas is implied to be a much safer place because of him.
    • The Fox and the Hound: Nobody dies in the movie except for the bear, and Tod and Copper go their separate ways, but they remember what good friends they used to be. And Tod lives happily with his mate Vixie.
    • Pocahontas: Ratcliffe is defeated and is tied up by his own men to be taken back to England, but John Smith takes a gunshot from the former to protect Chief Powhatan, forcing him to also return to England to be nursed back to health, meaning he and Pocahontas don't get to stay together. But they and their people are better for the experience.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Quasimodo didn't win Esmeralda's heart. But she survives, Frollo is defeated and the people of Paris finally accept Quasimodo as one of their own.
    • The Princess and the Frog: Ray is Killed Off for Real, but he is Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, as he's seen appearing as a new star next to his star lover Evangeline. And at least Tiana and Naveen get together.
  • Black and White Morality: In the bulk of the movies in the canon, the line between good and evil is very clearly drawn, hence why Disney frequently relies on Obviously Evil, hammy villains.
  • Black and Gray Morality: In the more mature films.
  • Black Magic: Several of the villains are Evil Sorcerers, and Sleeping Beauty has an evil fairy.
  • Bookends: On a meta example; the first and the last releases in the original Walt Disney "Black Diamond" Classics video line were Dark Age Disney movies (Robin Hood in 1984, The Fox And The Hound in 1994, and these movies have similarly designed characters and Pat Buttram in them; in addition, the first (1985) and last (1993) movie made under Walt to be issued in the line is Pinocchio). This trope also applies to the Platinum Editions; Snow White and Pinocchio are the first and last titles in this line, and they are the early Golden Age since they're the first two installments in the canon. The Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection is a minor example because the first and last new releases in that line were two films Walt supervised; his original animated classic Snow White in 1994, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad in 1999.
  • Bowdlerise: The company has been known to edit some of their films.
    • All of the home video releases of Fantasia censor the Pastoral Symphony sequence to remove the presence of Sunflower, who is depicted as a degrading african american stereotype (rat tail hairs, subservient to another centaur, and being stylized as a donkey instead of a centaurette). The home video releases worked around her by digitally zooming in on the footage of the centaurettes she was near, and slightly rearranging one scene to cover up that they excised a brief scene with her that was impossible to pan away from. For other shots where it was both absolutely impossible to pan away from her and too crucial to remove, they digitally edited her out altogether, resulting in oddities like a red carpet that she pushed now magically rolling out on its own. The only way the original footage can be seen now is by finding bootlegs of very old TV recordings of Fantasia.
    • The first DVD release of Saludos Amigos edited out the cigarette Goofy was holding. The second printing included as an extra on Walt and El Groupo uses the uncut print.
    • The US DVD release of Make Mine Music removed the entire opening Martins and the Coys segment for excessive gunplay. The PAL DVD has the whole sequence intact. The All the Cats Join In segment also makes some small edits to the shower scene.
    • One of the DVD releases of Peter Pan makes a color timing edit to the Indians to make them look less, well, red.
    • The Rescuers originally had a topless woman photo in a background as a Freeze-Frame Bonus, but it was removed from almost all home video releases of the film.
    • The opening song of Aladdin, "Arabian Nights", had a line changed from "Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face/It's barbaric, but, hey, it's home" in the original theatrical version to a more acceptable "Where it's flat and immense, and the heat is intense/It's barbaric, but, hey, it's home." for the home release when Disney received complaints that the ear-cutting part was offensive to those living in Arabic countries (despite that punishments like that do exist in Arabic countries). The original version made it to the early pressings of the soundtrack on CD, but later versions used the less offensive version. MTI's junior musical of the movie uses the less offensive version, but "It's barbaric" was replaced by "It's a furnace!".
    • Treasure Planet has one scene where Captain Amelia is injured and clutching her side. Her hand is covered in blood in the theatrical version however this was cut from home video releases of the film.
    • A developmental variant happened with Tangled. Early in the film, Rapunzel confronts Flynn with a frying pan when he hides in her tower. Originally she was meant to confront Bastion (the character Flynn replaced) with a crossbow.
  • Brains: Evil; Brawn: Good:
  • Canon Discontinuity: Despite many of the films in the canon getting direct-to-video sequels (and in the cases of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules, Tarzan, The Emperor's New Groove, and Lilo & Stitch, sometimes even getting full-fledged TV shows), none of them are considered canon to the original movies.note  To date, the only canonical sequel is The Rescuers Down Under, although this will change with the planned upcoming Wreck-It Ralph 2 and Frozen 2.
  • Cute Kitten: Seen in a few Disney films with the most notable being Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz, Figaro and Oliver.
  • Cats Are Mean: Used, subverted (Bolt) and averted (The Aristocats, Oliver & Company).
  • Crapsaccharine World: Occasionally used, despite the theme park's "Happiest Place on Earth" motto.
  • Cover Version: DisneyMania, for a number of hits from movie soundtracks. In some cases, song covers are included in DVD sets. It's also fairly common for a contemporary artist to cover a song from a movie.
  • Darker and Edgier: Pinocchio, The Black Cauldron, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are frequently considered unusually grim story content for Disney.
    • While The Black Cauldron features animate skeletons and self-sacrifice, it doesn't quite touch on the darkness that is The Hunchback of Notre Dame, since that film has a scene with an older man lustfully sniff a young woman's hair and then singing about his uncontainable lust.
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire does away with the color, Non Human Sidekicks, and songs of previous features, and replaces them with action, explosions, and the death of many a background character.
    • Pocahontas is one of the few without a complete resolution for the main characters. The villain has admittedly been defeated but John Smith's fate is left uncertain.
  • Darkest Hour: Most notably occurs in Aladdin, The Lion King and Hercules.
  • Deal with the Devil: How Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Hades from Hercules and Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog all work. Is it telling that all these share the same directors?
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The Disney Animated Canon has several examples:
    • Aladdin has Abu as Aladdin's Non-Human Sidekick.
    • Tarzan was based on Tarzan of the Apes, but Disney did work the monkey trope into a wacky lather in the film, particularly with Tarzan's loud-mouthed female gorilla sidekick Terk, her not-too-bright buddies Flynt and Mungo, and the mischievous baby baboon Manu. On the other hand, some primate characters are completely serious (i.e. Kerchak, the stern silverback and Kala, Tarzan's loving foster mother) or are more threatening than funny (the baboon horde).
    • The Lion King had the shaman-type, Rafiki, who was an African vision-having kung-fu mandrill.
    • King Louie from The Jungle Book was Disney's original addition to the movie, yet arguably, feels very much as if he belongs to Mowgli's world. The original book does, however, have a scene where the monkeys try to make Mowgli their leader, and won't let him go. He was later transplanted to TaleSpin.
    • A few Disney geeks have a theory: this trope is the only acceptable reason why there are "lemurs" in the Late Cretaceous period in Dinosaur.
    • Gorillas and monkeys appear as background characters in Dumbo. A ferocious gorilla tries to escape from its cage during a parade, and a whole family of monkeys sleeping on a swing can be seen during the "Baby Mine" number.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses
  • Evil Is Hammy: With a few exceptions.
  • Evil Laugh: Another thing many of the villains have in common.
  • Evil Minions: Most of the Big Bads have at least one.
  • Mom Looks Like a Sister: If a mother appears at all, odds are she'll look to be only in her twenties, even if she's still around when her child reaches his or her late teens. To whit:
    • Sleeping Beauty: Aurora's mother.
    • The Lion King: Post-time skip, Sarabi doesn't look any older than when Simba was a cub, even though he has grown up to strongly resemble his long-deceased father.
    • Hercules: Averted for his mortal foster mother, Justified for his immortal goddess birth mother.
    • Treasure Planet: Sarah to Jim.
    • Tangled: Invoked by Gothel, who uses Rapunzel's hair to keep herself looking young while posing as her mother. Played straight for her birth mother, who has no such round-the-clock access to de-aging hair, yet barely ages a day eighteen years after Rapunzel's birth. Their resemblance is especially pronounced after Rapunzel's Important Haircut.
    • Frozen: Elsa's and Anna's mother looks to be a brunette version of her 21- and 18-year-old daughters, even when she lived to see them reach 18 and 15 in the prologue.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Surprisingly often, the hero/heroine or heroes have a connection to a relative who is greatly revered (in most cases, a royal parent; but in other cases, a war hero dad or a renowned scientist grandfather will do just as well.
    • Only a handful Disney movies subvert or avert this trope. In some examples, John Smith (explorer), Taran (pigkeeper/peasant) and the main characters of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (soldier, son of a gypsy, gypsy performer) are self made heroes.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Most of the main characters and/or their love interests have one, as do some villains.
  • No Smoking: Since July 2007, Disney has banned on-screen smoking from being depicted in any of their films. Even before they enforced the ban, they edited a couple (but not all) of their older films to remove instances of smoking, such as Goofy lighting up a joint in Saludos Amigos (the uncut version was eventually released as a bonus feature on the Walt and El Groupo documentary) and any instance of Pecos Bill with a cigarette in Melody Time.
  • Obviously Evil: A great many of these films do this, even going so far as to base their color and shape schemes around it (as talked about in the Aladdin DVD documentaries). Just take one look at a character sheet for an average Disney film and you can immediately pick out the villains. This is kind of odd when it's done with Animal Stereotypes and say - bears are painted as horrible, deadly, kaiju-like monstrous demons in The Fox and the Hound and as friendly and lovable heroes in The Jungle Book and Brother Bear. However, there have been subversions of this in their more recent films, such as Disney/Frozen.
  • One-Winged Angel: Their use of this trope is only surpassed by Square Enix.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Prince Hans from Frozen is this for the entire canon. Unlike every other villain in the canon, there is no indication whatsoever that he is even morally suspect until the Motive Rant at the climax. In a canon defined by hammy Classic Villains, he is entirely defined by Pragmatic Villainy, a flawless mask and skill at manipulation to which even the audience is not immune.
    • Hans would be followed by the villains of Disney's next two movies, Robert Callaghan from Big Hero 6 and Dawn Bellwether from Zootopia, both of which are revealed as being the main antagonist after only brief prior appearances in which they were helpful and supportive to the main protagonist, were not particularly hammy, and did nothing that would directly indicate anything morally suspicious about their character, and Callaghan was even presumed dead by the time of his reveal as Yokai.
  • Parental Abandonment: At least 28 of the features either have their parents missing, dead, or separated from their kids.
  • Period Piece: Most of the films in the canon take place at some time in the past. Only eleven films are set in The Present Day of when they were made: Dumbo (early 1940s; dated only by the modern-ish train car at the end), 101 Dalmatians (early 1960s), The Rescuers (1970s), Oliver & Company (1980s), The Rescuers Down Under (early 1990s), Lilo & Stitch (early 2000s), Chicken Little (mid-2000s), Meet the Robinsons (mid-2000s when not in the future), Bolt (late 2000s), Wreck-It Ralph (early 2010s), and Zootopia (mid-2010s). And then there are the relative indeterminates: Bambi and The Lion King take place in an unknown time period (Bambi can be narrowed down to anytime in the last 2-3 centuries), and Treasure Planet and Big Hero 6 are set in a constructed universe.
  • Pigeonholed Voice Actor:
    • Phil Harris (The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Robin Hood) and Cheech Marin (Oliver & Company, The Lion King) are particularly glaring examples of this.
    • Kathryn Beaumont (Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan) who voiced both Alice and Wendy Darling (respectively).
    • invokedVerna Felton only ever voiced either energetic/stuffy villains (Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp) or kindly matriarchs (Dumbo, again), Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book).
    • Pat Buttram (The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound) used his own distinct rural Alabama accent for every character he voiced.
    • Alan Tudyk (Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia) is a more recent example, if only for playing antagonists in four movies in a row, two of which were examples of Evil Old Folks.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Several of the movies villains fall into this, such as the animal abusing, fur skinning Cruella De Vil, the misogynistic Gaston, the xenophobic John Ratcliffe and genocidal racist, religious zealot and would be rapist Judge Claude Frollo.
  • Random Events Plot: The films solely directed by Woolie Reitherman (The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and The Rescuers) tended to have very loose, episodic story structures.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: But there are a few exceptions, including Bill the lizard from Alice in Wonderland, Louis the alligator and JuJu the snake from The Princess and the Frog, and Pascal the chameleon from Tangled.
  • Reused Character Design: Very common. Compare...
  • Rogues Gallery: Holy cow, the Disney Animated Canon has one of the largest, most iconic group of villains in not only animation, but media in general, and they are often some of the popular elements of the Disney movies. Even though the movies are mostly self-contained, you'll see them grouped together as bad guys almost as often as you'll see the princesses grouped together, especially in crossover series like House of Mouse and Kingdom Hearts. It got to where an entire book, Frank and Ollie's The Disney Villain, was written about them, all because over 50 of the Renaissance Era Disney animators asked them to do it. And then they got a live-action spinoff, CGI and book series inspired by (but not quite) starring them, Descendants.
  • Running Gag: Recycled: The Series, as well as importing (usually faster-paced) songs to serve as theme songs for the same.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Most of the male and female partnerships in modern movies, both romantic and platonic.
  • Scenery Porn: Disney's animated films are usually praised by fans and critics for having beautiful environments, and in turn often end up being just as memorable as the stories and characters. Read the list over on the trope's page for Animated Films for the many stand-out examples.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: During most intense climaxes, comic relief aren't usually present.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: The films in the canon that adapt pre-existing stories are all over the place with this. Some, such as Snow White and 101 Dalmatians, fall into Near Identical Adaptation. Some films like Pinocchio fall into the Recognizable Adaptation category. Several film adaptations, such as The Jungle Book, The Fox and the Hound, Hercules, Frozen and Big Hero 6 fall squarely on the In-Name-Only end of it.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic Versus Fantastic: Most of the Disney Animated Canon falls into the Fantastic part of the scale. Beauty and the Beast is a (if not the) prime example of internal consistency in a fantastic story where the background and the basic rules concerning the magic spell which transformed the prince to a beast (and his servants to house objects), and how it can be undone are disclosed in the opening narration. Some films like The Three Caballeros throw out the notion of realism altogether and land on the Surreal end of the scale.
  • The Sociopath: A recurring characteristic of the villains. Notable examples include Lady Tremaine, Percival C. McLeach, Gaston, Scar, Mother Gothel, King Candy/Turbo and Prince Hans.
  • Stock Footage: Since Disney often ran into financial trouble from trying so much to show off with their animation, this became a vital cost saver. See this video for examples, with Robin Hood being the most extreme.
  • Storybook Opening: Many of their animated films and shorts opened this way, from Snow White to Beauty and the Beast.
  • Strictly Formula: During the 1990s, Disney had a very successful run from 1989 till 1994, but after that they were often accused of enforcing this trope. Rebellious princesses who want to marry for love, heroines looking for something beyond what they know, bumbling or fantasy-forbidding fathers, bad guys falling off great heights. Pocahontas especially was accused of adhering to Disney formula, which does have some merit as a complaint. Ironically though, the problem seems to have been that all these movies came out in succession, as every single movie of the Disney Renaissance has been Vindicated by History and is now well-loved (some more than others: Pocahontas is still not thought of as a great movie, and The Rescuers Down Under has gained a cult following but isn't anywhere near mainstream).
    • Many viewers are starting to notice a distinct pattern among Revival films, especially princess movies. (From The Princess and the Frog to what's revealed about the upcoming Moana.) That is, slap-stick Road Trip Romance musicals where the main couple Meet Cute, engage in some Slap-Slap-Kiss, then find a Commonality Connection, then later have a Love Epiphany, then end up together; all over the course of a few days at most. Brave (an Honorary Disney Princess film) averts the romance bit, but then Merida's mother functions as The Not-Love Interest anyway; the formula still holds sans the romantic element. Only Wreck-It Ralph and Big Hero 6 seem to avert it thus far.
  • Talking Animal: From the mice in Cinderella to the swamp creatures in The Princess and the Frog.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Surprisingly, avoided for the most part. Though some have argued that "Trashing the Camp" from Tarzan qualifies. There's also "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" from The Aristocats and "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
    • "Human Again" from Beauty and the Beast and "Morning Report" from The Lion King were un-needed additions to their respective films, since the movies didn't have them originally (they are somewhat Big Lipped Alligator Moments, a realization that convinced Editor-In-Chief and studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg to send them to the scrapboard). They aren't terrible songs, nor completely irrelevant (they're both in the stage versions of the respective movies, too). Neither of them exactly advanced the plot or provided much if any character development, but both were intended to be in the original production (and are in the Special Editions).
  • Time Skip: Several movies in the canon started adopting this measure beginning in the Disney Renaissance period (though it had been used since the earliest movies), and continuing to this day. It got really egregious during the height of the Disney Renaissance period, when films like Hercules and Tarzan would have two or more timeskips within the expanse of a 3-minute song.
  • Tomboy Princess: The Renaissance Princesses (curious and somewhat rebellious Ariel, intelligent and outspokenly feminist Belle, and fiercely independent Jasmine), particularly in comparison to the Classic Princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora).
  • The End: Prior to 1985's The Black Cauldron, every Disney animated film (excluding Fantasia) ended with a screen saying "The End", and below that, "A Walt Disney Production" (during Walt's lifetime) or "Walt Disney Productions" (after his death). The Great Mouse Detective (1986), Aladdin (1992), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) also had "The End" screens, without the Walt Disney credit.
  • The Verse: Possibly with all the cameos and easter eggs and what not.
    • Tangled and Frozen are all but explicitly confirmed to exist in the same universe, with Fanon generally accepting Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa to be cousins by way of their respective mothers being sisters. A common theory also places The Little Mermaid in this same universe with the sunken ship Ariel explores at the beginning being the same one that carried the king and queen of Arendellenote .
  • Vanity Plate: With Lasseter's arrival at Disney, newer films (starting with Meet the Robinsons) now have a vanity plate paying homage to the studio's roots in traditional animation and Mickey Mouse's first hit short Steamboat Willie. Like the RKO Radio Pictures/Buena Vista/Walt Disney Pictures logos, it too got an alteration for a film (in this case, Wreck-It Ralph).
  • Victorious Chorus: Commonly used at the end of some films.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: However the "Saccharine Show" becomes less notable with its more mature films.