These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
This happens the most to Quasimodo and Frollo. In the book, Quasimodo is rather mean and hates most people. In the films, he is usually put in a more sympathetic light. The exact opposite usually happens to Frollo. In his book form, he is, for the most part, benevolent but sexually frustrated, and his transformation into a villain is tragic. However, in the films he is made into an all-out evil, sexually depraved monster from the start.
Phoebus gets this treatment as well. In the 1923 and Disney adaptation he is put in the role of a pure love interest for Esmeralda. However, in the book he was kind of a jerk, who was just interested in her for sex.
Die for Our Ship: Frollo/Esmeralda fans of any of the adaptations are eager to kill off Phoebus for the sake of this ship. Then again, even if you don't support this ship, almost every Hunchback of Notre Dame fan would gladly see Phoebus die (discounting the Disney version, where Phoebus is actually a nice guy).
Actually, it's a full "book" within the book, as the book itself is set up in this format... This particular section of the book happens to be nearly 300 pages long. And yeah, it's literally descriptions of Notre Dame, with absolutely no story... But once you get into the actual stories, it's quite gripping.
Sexual obsession in a priest? Bad, wrong, dangerous. Sexual obsession of a man in his thirties for a 16-year-old girl? No prob.
Also, this is not an anti-racist story. The Parisians' mistreatment of Esmeralda is treated as literary irony: they're wrong to treat her as they do, because she's really one of them. Their treatment of real "Gypsies" is completely excusable: it's clearly established that "Gypsies" really are dangerous — thieves and con artists who will readily steal children. If you think Victor Hugo loved gypsies and was protesting their mistreatment, go and read The Man Who Laughs.
Clopin—he seems very happy and nice, but he does call Quasi the ugliest person in Paris in a way that even the context can't completely excuse, doesn't let him hide in the "Feast Of Fools" sequence, apparently bugs out the second everything goes pear-shaped (as Frollo would likely want to arrest him for the confusion), and then expresses complete delight in hanging Quasi and Phoebus. Without giving them the chance to defend themselves in any way. He's also protecting his home, friends, and family from the most monstrous person in the country by silencing what he believes to be the man's most loyal subordinates... In fairness to Clopin, the only time he vanishes is during the "Feast of Fools" when the crowd turns on Quasimodo, but when the fighting outside Notre Dame happens he's shown jumping into the fray with the other gypsies. He's their leader, so getting himself arrested at the FOF would have been bad for the Gypsies.
Personally, I wouldn't classify book Esmeralda as Neautral Female... First of all, she saved an innocent man (who was deleted from the Disney film) from being executed upon stumbling upon The Court of Miracles, by marrying him, no less, though she refuses to let him touch her, she gives Quasimodo, who's being publicly punished for his attempted kidnapping of her (on Frollo's orders) water, and, after being saved by Quasimodo from near execution, and after being nearly raped by Frollo in the cathedral, who is stopped by Quasimodo, Frollo nearly kills Quasimodo, who is so devoted to his master, he's willing to die... Except Esmeralda grabs the dagger and threatens to kill Frollo herself if he lays a hand on Quasimodo or herself ever again.
It's a great score, but "Hellfire" and the instrumental track "Sanctuary" take the cake. "Made of Stone" from the stage version certainly counts as well.
"Out There". The combination of the gorgeous music, beautiful lyrics and Tom Hulce's spectacular performance makes it one of the most magnificent songs of the Disney Animated Canon. (Or any Disney film, for that matter.)
And out there, living in the sun...
Sing the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, bells, BELLS OF NOTRE DAME!!!
Pay attention, dear listener, to Clopin's voice toward the end of that song (particularly in its first iteration). God knows why they decided to practically drown it out with the chorus, but actor/singer Paul Kandel holds an absurdly high note (a high D, a very impressive note for a male singer to hit) perfectly for an absurdly long time.
While "Sanctuary" is about four different kinds of incredible (it's a four part piece), and Hellfire is without a doubt, the best villain song ever included in a Disney movie (if not any film), the real crowner here is without a doubt, "God Help The Outcasts." The music is incredible, but the lyrics deserve special mention, as they are a deconstruction of the typical Disney "I Want" Song, in that a Gypsy who doesn't even believe, or doubts, in God ("I don't know if you can hear me, or if you're even there") is offering to God a more humble prayer than the Catholics there who are asking for money, fame, and glory, whereas Esmeralda simply says "I ask for nothing; I can get by. But I know so many less lucky than I."
Equally heartwarming in the original movie the animated film was based on when Esmeralda gives the same prayer when she is introduced to Mary and Jesus.
"Heaven's Light" is the sweetest, most perfect love song ever written. Anyone who has ever been unpopular or different knows that feeling when someone notices you, even for a moment, and this song perfectly captures that feeling: knowing that they'll probably never love you back, but for the moment, you can hope, just a little.
I dare to dream that she/Might even care for me/And as I ring these bells tonight/My cold dark tower seems so bright,/I swear it must be heaven's light!
Even better is how it's a perfect counterpoint to "Hellfire", which follows immediately after. From gentle hope and love to fiery rage and passion.
Crosses the Line Twice: When Frollo is reviewing the alphabet with Quasimodo, this exchange happens. The censors probably let it pass because of Tom Hulce's harmless, innocent delivery of the lines and the happy gesture Quasimodo makes when he gets it right.
Also, Frollo is arguably this for the Disney Villains. Despite almost never appearing in crossovers, rides, merchandise or games (though will change with Kingdom Hearts 3D) he's one of the most well remembered and many people's favorite.
Esmeralda's "God Help The Outcasts" and Frollo's "Hellfire", when taken together, sound much like the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector.
Quasimodo tied with chains to the cathedral pillars with his arms outstretched brings to mind both Christ's crucifixion and Samson being put on display for the Philistines. When he breaks free and the pillars crumble, it is reminiscent of how Samson met his end, pushing down the pillars and bringing the roof down on himself and everyone else in the hall.
Elements of the Notre Dame architecture are used to convey different moods: for example, the statues foreboding and ominous, the stained glass beautiful and hopeful.
At the end of "Hellfire" in the DVD Commentary:
DVD Commentary: Here's some more of our ham-fisted symbolism—Frollo falls down in the shape of a crucifix!
Pay very close attention to the scene where Frollo destroys Quasimodo's model of Paris. As he does so he picks up a wooden figure of Esmeralda and throws it, knocking over a figure of himself in the process.
Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The movie was (perhaps, naturally) a huge hit in France. The filmmakers were especially worried about offending the French people by taking an iconic symbol of French literature and culture and giving it the so-called "Disney Treatment."
Ho Yay: Djali is referred to as a male. Hugo makes no secret of his attraction to him.
Magnificent Bastard: Frollo tricks Quasimodo into thinking that he knows where the Court of Miracles is located, causing Quasimodo and Phoebus to go their in order to warn the gypsies, thus leading Frollo straight to them.
Also, the most prevalent shipping in the fanbase is Esmeralda x Frollo, AKA "Fresme". Go ahead, look. You'll be VERY hard-pressed to find any artwork depicting her with Phoebus or even Quasimodo.
Also, Quasimodo/Esmeralda fans get angry at Esmeralda and accuse her of being shallow, ungrateful or slutty for choosing the handsome Phoebus over the physically deformed Quasi. Thing is, Esmeralda did NOT choose Phoebus for his good looks, but because he saw her as the person she actually is (unlike Quasimodo who heavily idealised her)... and not to mention Esmeralda did NOT owe Quasimodo ANYTHING because he liked her. Being nice to a person does NOT automatically equal to having any inherent "right" to their affections.
The Scrappy: Nobody seems to like the gargoyles (unless you're a Jason Alexander fan), mostly due to their contribution of the Lighter and Softer tone of the film. And causing Mood Whiplash in almost every scene they appear in.
The gargoyles are Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in the German musical version. They are portrayed as figments of Quasi's imagination and their humor is toned down, which many feel is how they should have been done in the actual movie.
To be more precise, Hugo is the one usually considered The Scrappy, while Victor and Laverne are at the very least tolerated. In particular, the Running Gag of pigeons annoying Laverne is generally considered a little funny at the beginning and very funny by the end.
Sarousch in the DTV sequel is considered one of the worst Disney villains of all time, especially in comparison to his predecessor, Frollo, who is considered one of the best.
Tear Jerker: The reprise of Heaven's Light as Quasimodo watches Esmarelda kiss Phoebus and tearing up his ace of hearts card.
I knew I'd never know/ that warm and loving glow/ though I might wish with all my might/ no face as hideous as my face/ was ever meant for heaven's light!
God Help The Outcasts, especially the line "I ask for nothing/ I can get by,/ but I know so many/ less lucky than I" coming from Esmerelda.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Many fans liked the idea of Quasimodo gaining his own Love Interest, and feel Madelline herself is a fairly interesting character who provides a nice contrast to him (as someone who is beautiful on the outside but feels she is ugly on the inside), so much about the sequel is just so poorly executed it almost ruins the whole concept.
Ugly Cute: Quasimodo, who's Ugly Adorable. Word Of God states that he was specifically designed this way (taking inspriation from, among other things, pugs) so it's much easier for the audience to identify and sympathize with him early on. If he's too ugly it takes too long and the moment is lost, and there are even some people who will never empathize with him no matter how good of a person he is if he's too ugly.
Unfortunate Implications: The fact that Quasimodo didn't end up with Esmerelda suggests that looks really are important, seeing as from a purely objective standpoint Quasimodo is a much kinder and gentler person than Captain Phoebus.
Visual Effects Of Awesome: Notre Dame, and the Frollo's image of Esmeralda dancing in the flames in the Hellfire song. It is mentioned in the commentary that the special effects team gave their best in that scene.
Esmeralda counts as well, given all the persecution the gypsies go through, the fact that Frollo is after her specifically, and she still manages to be willing to pray for everybody else in "God Help the Outcasts."