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 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.
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.
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.
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:
Crazy Awesome/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.
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: 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.
Clopin: Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin / And he saw corruption everywhere except within.
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!
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.
In the sequel, there are many symbols about true beauty.
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).
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.
Regarding the gargoyles, 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.
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 It was a one-off category called "Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 million", and actually included three other films (Independence Day, the original Mission: Impossible film, and A Time to Kill) that were deemed fresh on Rotten Tomatoes; the film that won this Razzie, Warner Bros. 's Twister, was the only "Rotten" nominee in this category, which hasn't aged well and has never been used since, although ID has had some snark thrown at it in the 20 years since these movies hit theaters. which is ESPECIALLY baffling considering that Disney has released moredeservingfilms. 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.
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".
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.
Frollo is well-known for being the most sexual Disney villain. Now, consider that this is the 34thDisney 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".
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Moral Event Horizon: Frollo crossed it when he killed Quasimodo's mother merely for believing her to be a thief, and almost killed him too as a baby for being deformed. And he only goes downhill from there.
The guards and the members of the crowd crossed it when they publically tortured Quasimodo. It stands out as the only atrocity that was not committed personally by Frollo and yet he still refused to stop it.
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...)
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Technology Marches On: When the film was being promoted, the CGI people were touted as a huge technological advancement. They were the logical next step after the CGI stampede scene from The Lion King. Instead of using CGI to reproduce the same model making the same movements over and over again, the crowds of Hunchback were randomized, with different elements such as clothing, body types, and behaviors being mixed and matched to create these gigantic Ben Hur crowd scenes that would, otherwise, either be much too expensive to animate, or have to be static parts of the matte. It's more noticeable now (especially if you remember watching "Behind the Scenes" featurettes which showcased the various behaviors back on the '90s Disney Channel), but at the time, especially on a first-time viewing, they were pretty impressive and evocative towards the party atmosphere in "Topsy Turvy" especially.
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.
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.
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.
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".