YMMV / The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The original novel:

  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: The Gypsies are portrayed as thieves in the slums of Paris. At the time of its publications (and indeed, even today), Gypsies were not well-liked by other Europeans.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • This happens the most to Quasimodo and Frollo. In the book, Quasimodo is rather reclusive, and generally shuns the outside world. In the films, he is usually put in a more sympathetic light, and desires to be accepted by society. 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, the Burbank Films Australia version, and the Disney film he is put in the role of a pure love interest for Esmeralda. However, in the book he was a jerk who was just interested in her for sex.
    • In the novel, Gringoire is a pompous coward who abandons Esmeralda to her fate. In the film versions, he genuinely cares about Esmeralda and does everything he can to secure her release.
  • Crazy Awesome: Clopin who runs a Parody of the King's Court with fake ministers with phony titles, and constantly has fake injuries. Yet also gets a Dying Moment of Awesome during The Siege.
  • 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.
  • Slow Paced Beginning: For all its strengths, the book could afford to shave off some of its exposition. There's a chapter that's as long as its own book devoted to explaining the view from Notre Dame.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Sexual obsession in a priest? Bad, wrong, dangerous. Sexual obsession of a man in his thirties for a 16-year-old girl? No prob.
    • The depiction of the Gypsies in the book has not aged well. While Esmeralda’s persecution as a witch is portrayed as wrong, near the end of the novel, its revealed by birth she was French, and was exchanged with Quasimodo(who is actually Romani by birth). The other Gypsies in the novel are portrayed as part of the lower class in the Cour des miracles(Slums), who survive by begging, and pickpocketing. Clopin, their leader, is depicted as a Anti-Hero, who while possessing a heroic side, is hostile towards the Middle class, and threatens to hang Gringoire for trespassing in the Cour des Miracles. At several points, they are referred to as the "Egyptians."

The 1939 film:

  • Creepy Awesome: Quasimodo. He's deformed, socially inept, and possibly afflicted with a mental disorder, but he fiercely defends Esmeralda and thwarts a mob of rioters who were attacking Notre Dame.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Dead and dying rioters lying on the ground, covered in molten metal.

The Disney film:

  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation:
    • You don't need romance in your life to be happy.
      • Also you can't force someone to love you and no one is "owed" a lover just because they're a good person. That person's choice of who they end up with is theirs and theirs alone.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Judge Claude Frollo gets this too. Do we see flashes of guilt and torment in him that make him more sympathetic? Did he really feel nothing for killing Quasimodo's mother or did he take seriously the Archdeacon's plea to adopt Quasimodo out of guilt and a genuine fear of God? Do we see signs of him suffering and desiring to become a better person in his villain song, or is it more important that the experience makes him act even more evil than before?
    • 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 Feast of Fools would have been bad for the Gypsies.
    • The Archdeacon doesn't even acknowledge Quasimodo's existence after the opening scene, despite them both living in the same building. So, that raises the question: is he really the benevolent arbiter of justice in Notre Dame, or a callous hypocrite, willfully blind to Frollo's abuse of Quasimodo?
  • Anvilicious: The film repeatedly points out Frollo's hypocrisy, in case you missed it. A few examples below.
    • From Clopin:
    Clopin: Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin / And he saw corruption everywhere except within.
    • From Esmeralda:
    Esmeralda: You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help!
    • From Quasimodo:
    Quasimodo: All my life, you've told me the world is a dark, cruel place. But now I see that the only thing dark and cruel about it is people like you.
    • The Bette Midler version of God Help The Outcasts has harsher lyrics than the movie version, taking the religious hypocrisy message even further as the singer accuses God of favouring certain people that discriminate against those down on their luck and being responsible for making the outcasts in the first place.
    • In the sequel, there are many symbols about true beauty.
  • Award Snub: None of the songs received Oscar nominations. Among all the movies Alan Menken composed for the Disney Animated Canon during the 1990s, this is the only one that happened to.
  • Base Breaker: Scrappy they may be, but the gargoyles do contribute a lot of genuinely Funny Moments. Which side of the Broken Base a fans falls into often depends on the age of that fan. With people who were teens or adults when the film came out hating them and people who were children loving them. Then there are those who don't think they're unequivocally awful, but don't like them much either. Base truly broken.
    • Quasimodo not winning Esmeralda's love in the end is a major point of contention, as it's one of the few times Disney subverted the true love ending between the leading man and woman. Either it's a Family-Unfriendly Aesop about ugly people not deserving true love, or a refreshing change of pace for demonstrating Esmeralda's right to choose (Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped explains that argument further).
  • Cargo Ship: Hugo thinks Djali is pretty hot. Hugo is a gargoyle, Djali is a goat. But come on, Hugo's part goat!
  • Complete Monster: Judge Claude Frollo is the self-proclaimed Minister of Justice, but is in truth a deeply prejudiced corrupt official. Frollo holds the gypsies scattered around Paris in deep contempt, and seeks to eradicate them. Killing a young gypsy mother on the steps of Notre Dame, Frollo then attempted to drown her infant son for his deformities, only being stopped by the archdeacon. Solely for fear of being punished for his crimes, Frollo takes the boy in, naming him Quasimodo and raising him in isolation, teaching him to think of himself as a monster. Frollo lusts after the gypsy dancer Esmeralda, resolving to force her to be his, or kill her. Frollo terrorizes Paris while searching for her, imprisoning many gypsies and having a massive portion of the city burnt down. He finally besieges the gypsy hideout and captures them all, including Esmeralda. Accusing Esmeralda of witchcraft, Frollo attempts to publicly execute her when she rejects his advances before launching an attack upon the cathedral when Quasimodo rescues her. When Esmeralda seemingly dies, Frollo asks a mourning Quasimodo for forgiveness, only to try and stab him when he lets his guard down. He finally pursues Quasimodo and Esmeralda onto a balcony and attempts to murder them both. Perhaps Clopin puts it best, when he asks, "Who is the monster and who is the man?"
  • Crack Ship: As noted on Tangled's YMMV page, Frollo x Mother Gothel became one when people realized how similar they are.
  • Crazy Awesome: Clopin.
  • Creepy Awesome: Frollo, according to some people's opinions. Especially in the finale.
  • Critical Dissonance: Despite being moderately well-received (scoring somewhere in the 70s on Rotten Tomatoes), this is the ONLY Disney Animated Canon film to EVER get nominated for a Razzie note  which is ESPECIALLY baffling considering that Disney has released more deserving films. It's considered (by those who remember it, anyway) better than its direct predecessor, Pocahontas (or at least a worthy successor).
  • 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.
    Frollo: D?
    Quasimodo: Damnation.
    Frollo: E?
    Quasimodo: Eternal Damnation!
  • Crossover Ship: It's become somewhat popular to pair Clopin with Harley Quinn from the Batman-franchise (the pairing is even called "JesterBells"). In many cases, they're essentially the male and female versions of each other (especially now that Harley's being portrayed as more of an anti-heroine by DC Comics), and many people have pointed out that Clopin would treat Harley way better than the Joker treats her.
  • Cry for the Devil: "Hellfire". Behind closed doors, Frollo prays to the Virgin Mary for protection from Esmeralda's "witchcraft", which he convinces himself is driving him to sin through lustful, burning desire. He begs Mary to either burn Esmeralda in Hell or deliver her to him as his love to free him from his sin. He may be a vicious Knight Templar or at best a Well-Intentioned Extremist gone too far, but he's also very human and very conflicted, two qualities that generate sympathy and may make it at least more understandable.
    Frollo: God have mercy on her...God have mercy on me...
  • Die for Our Ship: The Phoebus from the movie is much, MUCH nicer than the one from the novel, and he comes to sincerely like Esmeralda. And yet the Quasi/Esmeralda fans still hate him for "stealing her away from the one who DESERVES her better".
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Despite being a Complete Monster, Frollo has a lot of fangirls.
  • Ear Worm: "Beata Maria. Hellfire! Mea Culpa! Be mine or you willllll buuuuuuuuuuurrrrrnn!"
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: A lot of people also seem to have a fondness for Clopin, the All-Knowing Singing Narrator of the film.
  • Evil Is Cool : Frollo. Ironically, he was meant to be so despicable that people would despise him with all their hearts. Instead, he became one of the most popular Disney Villains.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Frollo has huge numbers of people who find him attractive.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: As mentioned on this page, Quasimodo/Esmeralda (because he is The Hero and thus the character the viewers most identify with) and Frollo/Esmeralda (for...some reason).
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Gargoyles were carved for medieval churches for two reasons. The first being to divert water (namely rain) from the church, thus preventing the mortar from getting worn down and the second to protect against evil. Which makes Frollo's death scene even scarier if you understand medieval architecture.
    • The actual, present day Notre Dame has two pillars missing, a damaged gargoyle, and a broken doorknob. Not only does this damage happen in the climax, it's all significant in some way.
    • Also, the background singing in Frollo's scenes throughout the film has several layers of meaning:
      • 'Kyrie Eleison', a refrain which is repeated throughout the film, means 'Lord have Mercy'...appropriate.
      • The chanting when Frollo is chasing Quasimodo's mother through Paris comes from a Gregorian chant called the Dies Irae - Day of Wrath - and includes a phrase that roughly means 'Beware the coming of the judge.' Again, appropriate.
      • And, during "Hellfire", the shadowy figures that torment Frollo in his madness chant 'Mea Culpa' - 'Through my Fault' - something which Frollo constantly denies.
      • The Latin in this scene is the culmination of the Latin singing of the Confiteor, the prayer used during the Sacrament of Confession in the Catholic Church. The three other lines are translated as "I have sinned against the father", "In my thoughts", "words and deeds". Each line is placed to counter a claim of Frollo's in the song (that he's purer than others, that he doesn't want to think about Esmerelda, and that what he's saying and doing are beyond his control). This is significant as the Catholic Church believes that sin can only exist if you willing commit the act. As a man of faith, Frollo would be aware of this prayer, the significance of Confession, and that even when he is trying to confess, he's doing it wrong. In addition, the purpose of confessing to a priest is an act of humility. By telling another living person, you are willing to open yourself. By doing this alone, Frollo's is not correctly performing the sacrament.
    • Quasimodo's climatic scene (being chained to the pillars of the church, then tearing them down in rebellion) is lifted directly from the story of Samson in the Bible.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: This film is really popular in Germany, having several stage shows based off of it.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Frollo's Villain Song "Hellfire" sounds eerily similar to rhetoric used by misogynistic mass shooter Elliot Rodger.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: The fact that the voice actor for Patrick Star voices a guard whom of which has the line "Now THAT's ugly!" Why is this hilarious in hindsight?
    • Frollo is well-known for being the most sexual Disney villain. Now, consider that this is the 34th Disney Animated Canon entry...
    • The jester in the Steadfast Tin Soldier number in Fantasia 2000 looks quite a bit like Frollo. And dies like him too!
    • In the stage show, as pointed out by the actors themselves on Twitter. Patrick Page plays Frollo, Quasimodo (Michael Arden)'s father figure. Come the Spring Awakening revival, directed by Michael Arden, Page plays the Adult Man - a composite of multiple characters, one of which is Herr Rilow, Hänschen Rilow's father. Hänschen is played by Andy Mientus, Michael Arden's fiancé.
  • Ho Yay: Djali is referred to as a male. Hugo makes no secret of his attraction to him.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: The 2 most well-known types of fangirls in the fanbase, "Frollophiles" and "Clopinphiles", are often known for watching the movie merely to see Frollo and/or Clopin. Clopin's side often has many fans complaining about how he "doesn't have enough screentime".
  • Love to Hate: Frollo.
    • He is, first of all, realistically scary. He's an example of the many times throughout history that bigotry and persecution has been self-righteously excused as justice.
    • He is voiced by Tony Jay which automatically gives him a badass voice.
    • He is Faux Affably Evil in where he generally appears pretty polite but yet there is a glint of madness and zealotry underneath, and you know it. See the episode with the ants and the torture chamber.
    • Despite spending all its time kicking dogs, his Hidden Depths are hinted at once in the movie: the Villain Song. Is he Necessarily Evil and hates himself for it, does he actually hate himself for lusting towards Esmeralda or is he just a deluded Knight Templar ? Is it a real epiphany that throws him more into madness or an Ignored Epiphany ? No one knows, so it adds a layer of depth to the character.
    • He shows himself quite competent in his endeavors in general, if evil.
    • And there's the whole Creepy Awesome thing.
    • Has come to a head with the YouTube Poop turned Widget Series The Frollo Show, in which Frollo is slightly toned down into an anti-heroic Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist.
  • Magnificent Bastard: For all his hatefulness, Frollo has one moment of being this when he 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.
  • Memetic Molester: Frollo, for good reasons.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Hellfire" is becoming an increasingly popular subject for YouTube Poop.
      • Also, statements to the likes of "most dramatic reaction to a boner ever."
    • The scene where Frollo attempts to throw baby Quasimodo down the well has also become a popular YouTube Poop source. People commonly edit things like bad movie posters or unpopular celebrities like Justin Bieber over Quasimodo.
    • This screencap of Phoebus, usually attached to posts of a confusing or mind-bending nature.
    • "Witchcraft."
    • Frollo's final line, "And he shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!'', followed by posters adding a nonchalant response from God such as "As you wish", or "That's not a bad idea."
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: The movie was 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". This is possibly why Disney was shocked later, when Hercules was met with A LOT of hate in Greece.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Frollo was often thought of as cool despite having much less reason to be thought of as such (and much more NOT to) than other Disney villains. Instead of being a muscular macho-man like Gaston or a powerful sorcerer like Jafar, he is a genocidal self-righteous old religious fanatic; an intent to avoid Evil Is Cool is apparent here, yet it apparently did not work either.
    • The movie portrays Esmeralda and Phoebus's romance in a fully positive light, and though Quasimodo is heartbroken and jealous at first, he eventually fully accepts their love and is content as their friend. But you wouldn't know this from the Quasi/Esmeralda shippers either calling Esmeralda a "stupid whore" for choosing Phoebus or depicting Phoebus as anything from a brainless, dullard pretty-boy to an abusive monster just so Esmeralda can dump him and be with Quasimodo. Like she was "supposed" to, because apparently a woman's choice matters a lot less than the hero always getting the "hot girl" he was "owed".
  • Mondegreen: Some viewers mishear some of the Ominous Latin Chanting in "Hellfire" as "Because he's horny...", particularly the bit after "Then tell me, Maria, why I see her dancing there/Why her smoldering eyes still scorch my soul?" Which, hilariously enough, is entirely appropriate given the context.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Frollo crossed it when he almost killed him too as a baby for being deformed. And he only goes downhill from there.
  • Narm Charm: The entire ending teeters on this, especially the unprovoked hug by a random kid (who also shows up at Clopin's puppet show...)
  • No Yay: Frollo's obsession with Esmeralda. Yet the majority of the fanbase ships them...
  • Older Than They Think: Quasimodo wearing green, Esmeralda in danger of being burned at the stake as opposed to hanged and everyone except Frollo being Spared by the Adaptation aren't unique to this story - they first appeared in the Animated Adaptation by Burbank Films Australia.
  • Padding: "A Guy Like You" seems to be in the movie just to give the gargoyles something to do. It doesn't advance the plot in any meaningful way, and merely retreads Quasimodo's hopes that Esmeralda loves him, which were already covered in "Heaven's Light". It also hurts that the song is a jarring Mood Whiplash and borderline Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Painful Rhyme: In "A Guy Like You".
    We all have gaped at some Adonis
    But then we crave a meal more nourishing to chew
    And since you're shaped like a croissant is
    No question of, she's gotta love a guy like you!
  • Ron the Death Eater: Esmeralda is often depicted as an ungrateful bitch who rejects Quasimodo due to his ugliness, and stops caring for him. Esmeralda consistently did care for Quasi as a friend... just not as a lover. In fact, she didn't even know that he was in love with her.
  • Rooting for the Empire: One reason Disney made Frollo such a monster was because they saw this happening in previous movies and wanted to create a villain that everyone would hate. It didn't work.
  • The Scrappy:
    • 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 most scenes they appear in.
    • 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.
    • Also from the sequel, a lot of people find Zephyr extremely annoying.
  • Sequelitis: The first film had gorgeous animation, dealt with some pretty heavy themes for a Disney movie, and had very good music. The sequel dispensed with all of these and made the tone much Lighter and Softer. Why Kevin Kline, Tom Hulce and Demi Moore stuck around for it is a mystery for the ages.
  • Signature Scene: "Hellfire" is the most famous scene in the film but "Out There" is another strong contender as is "God help The Outcasts". Perhaps all of them are dwarfed by the "Sanctuary" scene.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • The Anvilicious Aesops aside, the film does raise a very real and still very relevant issue regarding Frollo and his treatment of the gypsies: it shows someone who shouldn't have political power using it to abuse others, especially minorities. Persecution due to racism and their harmful stereotypes is still going on in this day and age.
    • Hiding behind religion and dogma does not automatically make you a good person.
    • No one is obligated to love you, even if you're a good person and really deserve a loving partner. The object of your affections is still a person and it's their right to choose. Basically, it's wrong to feel entitled to romantic love since only the other person can decide if you're right for them.
  • Squick:
    • Frollo grabbing Esmeralda in the church and smelling her hair.
      • During "Hellfire", he rubs one of her scarves against his face.
      • Keeping on the "Hellfire" point: no matter how glorious the song is, it's still Frollo singing about how if Esmeralda doesn't submit to his desire, "she will buuuuuuuuuurn." Once again, how did they manage to get this past the censors?
    • While it's played for laughs, Hugo the Gargoyle's attraction towards Djali the goat is fairly disturbing.
  • Special Effects Failure: The crowd scenes utilize CGI people. Especially on the Blu-Ray, it's... noticeable.
    • See Frollo's effort to grab the gargoyle as he hangs for dear life, as it constantly changes position between shots.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Even though he is essentially an abusive foster parent, Frollo's grim depiction of the world "out there" actually sounds quite realistic considering the film is set in Medieval Europe which was not known for being kind to those with severe birth defects. Quasimodo does, however, get to witness this first hand, and later says that it's because of people like Frollo that the world is that way.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. The entire movie is animated with bright colors that only emphasize the lower quality of the animation, and the entire plot of the film, on top of Quasimodo's quest for love revolves around the cast's respective couples professing their love for each other before the entire city in a huge festival; to say that this was jarring for those who appreciated the original's unusually dark tone would be an understatement.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The sequel has some good ideas that many fans liked: Phoebus and Esmeralda facing realistic challenges in their marriage and the raising of their son, 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), but so much about the sequel is just so poorly executed it ruins the whole concept.
  • Ugly Cute: Quasimodo, who's Ugly Adorable. Word of God states that he was specifically designed this way (taking inspiration 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.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • The gargoyle Laverne has no Tertiary Sexual Characteristics and a voice actress (Mary Wickes) with a husky voice. Although she has a mostly feminine name, it's only mentioned once in the film. Averted in other languages where either her voice is unmistakably female, the language itself has grammar rules that indicates gender (like in Spanish or French) or both.
    • Djali the goat is female in the novel, male in this movie, and indeterminate in the sequel.
  • Vindicated by History: When it was released, it was a moderate hit with both critics and audiences - the consensus was "Hey, it was better than Pocahontas, but nowhere near as good as The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast". However, it gradually became a contender for the Magnum Opus of Disney's Renaissance era.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Notre Dame, and the image of Esmeralda dancing Frollo sees in the flames in "Hellfire". It is mentioned in the commentary that the special effects team gave their best in that scene.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Endlessly marketed to kids with cute dolls and toys and such... and then Frollo sings "Hellfire", which is all about his lust for Esmeralda. There is no ambiguity about the nature of his feelings for her. Also, he "accidentally" kills Quasimodo's mother and then tries to outright murder him as an infant, flat out saying he's going to send him to Hell. That happens just minutes into the film.
  • The Woobie:
    • Quasimodo's life from start through adulthood is one long story of isolation and abuse.
    • 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".
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