Alas, Poor Scrappy: Gurgi sacrifices himself to destroy the Cauldron Born Army, but he is resurrected.
Anticlimax Boss: Despite all the build up the character had, the Horned King doesn't put up much of a fight before he is sucked into the cauldron: he lunges unarmed at Taran and grabs him, showing no display of powers or fighting abilities whatsoever, and is killed when Taran pushes him in the general direction of the cauldron.
Audience-Alienating Premise: The film's darker story could be counted as such, having none of Disney's trademark lightheartedness or kid-friendly moments with which to balance it out. Tellingly, it would be years before Disney would try again for a more exclusively adult audience, again to a similarly mixed response.
Bile Fascination: A downplayed example; It has certainly found a respectable fandom in later years, but its status as the black sheep of the Disney Animated Canon continues to draw newcomers who are curious as to how it gained its reputation.
Broken Base: The movie as a whole. Either it's one of Disney's most unique underrated classics, with an enchanting world, likable characters, and a genre Disney hasn't tackled much (high dark fantasy/medieval fantasy ala The Lord of the Rings — the closest we have to that is Sleeping Beauty), or it's one of the most generic, clichéd movies that tries to be something ambitious but mostly comes off as a poor rip-off, and barely stands out compared to the other fantasy films of the 80s (Labyrinth, The NeverEnding Story, The Last Unicorn...).
Predating The Legend of Zelda by a year, Taran wears clothes and carries a sword strikingly similar to those of Link in his very early years. Plus looting dungeons, working well with animals, wielding a magic sword, having to stop a very old Big Bad from getting an artifact of great power, and breaking lots of pots. Also, Eilonwy seems to be this to Zelda.
Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis seem to have taken inspiration from Gurgi's voice and mannerisms when it came to Gollum for The Lord of the Rings... Heck, the comparisons don't end there; after all, the story happens to be about a boy from the countryside guided by his elderly mentor to go on a quest to destroy a magical artifact that would kill the evil overlord ruling over the land. You draw your own conclusions from here.
Ensemble Darkhorse: The Horned King. Even if the movie failed at the box office and is one of the lesser known Disney feature films, The Horned King is a cult favorite within the Disney fandom and many times is compared with the likes of Maleficent and Chernabog. He probably would've had a respectable presence in Disney properties if it hadn't been for the movie's poor initial reception. Fans have even demanded Disney to let the Horned King make an appearance in future Kingdom Hearts games. Being played by the late John Hurt probably has quite a bit to do with it.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Taran's character arc contains one: Some people just aren't cut out to follow their dreams.
Genre Turning Point: The film was meant to be this for animated Disney movies in general, an attempt to darken and "modernize" the studios feature film output while also proving that Walt Disney's one-vision method of filmmaking was still viable in the 1980s. And it was a turning point... just not in the way that the film makers had hoped; its massive box office failure not only led to a trend of lighter Disney animated films (which culminated with their "true" turning point in 1989, The Little Mermaid), but also ended (most of) Walt Disney's methods as solid company policy in favor of a more "Hollywood" style of movie making (stricter deadlines, tighter budgets, more committee meetings, more executive influence, attempts on franchise integration, etc.).
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Horned King has plenty of attention in Japan. This may have had to do with the extinct attraction in Tokyo Disneyland. Shall we begin?
'Mickey Mouse'' on the Game Boy in 1989 has him as the final boss.
Mickey Mouse II on the same system two years later again has him as the final boss.
Both of these games replaced him with Witch Hazel when they were converted to the Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle games.
Mickey Mouse III: Dream Balloon in 1992 again puts him as the final boss, only to be replaced by Night Mayor when it was converted to Kid Klown in Night Mayor World.
Finally appeared without alterations in Land of Illusion on the Game Gear and Sega Master System in 1993, although this time colored from older concept art and given the name of "The Phantom." And this was the only time that he appeared in North America and Europe in a Japanese produced game.
Most of the violence and death in the movie (both what was allowed to be shown and what Katzenberg left on the cutting room floor) these days wouldn't be out of place on Cartoon Network's Adventure Time.
The magic sword sounds and glows much like a lightsaber, as well as being able to cut through most anything. The Horned King also has a habit of throttling his underlings when they have failed him. Then Disney acquires the rights to Star Wars...
This wasn't the last Disney work with a lovable, pink pig.
Mis-blamed: Gurgi's mannerisms were not, in fact, Disney putting in an obvious Plucky Comic Relief - things like talking in the third-person, speaking in redundant phrases, referring to Taran as a lord, and "Munchies and crunchies" are in fact in the books, and Gurgi still does play somewhat of a comic relief character.
The witch's deranged laughter quickly becomes this when she does it constantly in her scene.
Gurgi's voice, to most viewers.
Never Live It Down: The troubled production and ultimate box office failure of the film shook the Walt Disney Company so much that even after the successful revitalization of its animation department in the years that followed, they largely ignored it for the next decade or so and have released virtually no merchandise tied to it; not even of Princess Eilonwy who remains absent from the Disney Princess lineup. It eventually received a full VHS release and later a DVD release thanks to its respectable cult following, but remains one of its least-publicized pictures. Disney made some noise in 2016 about trying a more faithful adaptation of the Prydain novels in live action, but so far it seems stuck in Development Hell, probably due to this reputation, as well as the Prydain series not being very well known, especially compared to Harry Potter or Narnia.
Gurgi isn't quite as bad as most examples, but he has the makings of one: a small, nonhumancomic relief character with a grating voice whom the filmmakers are desperate to prove is cuter and more charming than he is.
Creeper may also qualify, given his tendency to break the mood during some of the Horned King's more genuinely frightening scenes.
For some folks, Taran qualifies as one. Many people find his bragging annoying, and they do not like how he patronizes Eilonwy in a sexist way ("What does a girl know about swords, anyway!?"). Sadly, this is actually fairly accurate to Book!Taran, and losing this arrogance is part of his character arc in the book series, which the cancellation of any sequels prevented being shown.
Towards the book series it was based off of, it reads almost like a shopping list of cliches. Except one has to consider that the series was originally published in the sixties - Taran predates Luke Skywalker in the "Farm-boy turned hero who befriends a princess".
So Okay, It's Average: The wider consensus of the film, which agrees that while it's far from the worst animated movie and actually has a few good points, its story and characters are thoroughly underwhelming with few of the traditional Disney elements to compensate for it.
Squick: Orwen's unsettling attraction to Fflewddur.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The Horned King is held by some to be a genuinely terrifying Disney villain, yet sadly has little to show for this due to his surprisingly easy defeat at Taran's hands. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston cited this as one of the films biggest flaws in their book The Disney Villain, feeling the film presented him in a way that robbed him of mystery and presented him with so much action and close ups, that it made him come off as a villain who was approachable and unpleasant rather than all powerful.
"Typical of the failings, the Horned King, who should have been mysterious, was as ordinary as the leader of a street gang. As Roy Disney said later, their approach was "too literal-minded. He was just a guy." The use of close-ups and too much activity gave the impression that here was a man one could argue with. He should have been as unreachable and intimidating as Chernobog. No one should speak in his presence. The words should wither in one's throat. We should not even know if this evil creature was man, animal or demon. Here was unlimited power on the verge of taking over the world that somehow had to be stopped, and that was the special challenge to the tiny band of characters who carried the hopes of the future on their uncertain shoulders. It seemed an impossible burden for the heroic cast as well as the inexperienced staff of the studio."
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Who else is disappointed Taran had to give up the awesome magical sword midway through, instead of maybe using it on The Horned King?
The fact that the Eilonwy is a scullery maid only gets mentioned in passing. We also never find out why she has that bauble and what it isnote In the books, Eilonwy is a descendant of an ancient line of magic wielders, and the bauble is actually the Golden Pelydryn, an heirloom of her house that can be used to reveal the words in their book of spells. What doesn't help is the last time it's seen is in Morva.
Vindicated by History: Its noticeably darker tone, new animation format, Executive Meddling and a lot of bad luck made 1985 viewers see the film as a train wreck; modern viewers can appreciate it more.
Visual Effects of Awesome: For all its problems, the film's animation stands out as one of its more polished elements and really lends itself on the dark tone and atmosphere of the story.