YMMV: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The original novel:

  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: Gypsies. At the time of its publications, 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 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.
    • 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.
  • It Gets Better: 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.
    • 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 kidnap children. If you think Victor Hugo loved gypsies and was protesting their mistreatment, go and read The Man Who Laughs.

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.

The Disney film:

  • 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: 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.
  • 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.
  • Awesome Music:
    • 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.
    • "Paris Burning" plays in the scene immediately following "Hellfire" and perfectly embodies the fear and terror that the citizens of Paris are forced to suffer as Frollo's madness drives him to burn the city to the ground. The last twenty-five seconds of the track are guaranteed to require the listener to bring their brown pants.
  • Base Breaker: Scrappy they may be, but the gargoyles do contribute a lot of genuinely Funny Moments...
  • 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 likely one of the most evil characters Disney has ever invented. In the film's opening, he pursues a young woman on horseback, and pushes her onto steps of the church, causing her to tumble to her death. He tries to drown her infant son, Quasimodo, in the well for being ugly, but the archdeacon stops him. Solely out of fear of being punished for his crimes, Frollo takes the boy in, keeping him under strict rule, isolation, and emotional abuse. He initially seems to have fallen in love with the young gypsy girl Esmeralda, but when she rejects him, he decides she must burn in hell. Taking his anger out on all gypsies, Frollo tries to burn an innocent family alive for harboring them. After that, Frollo tries to have a massive section of the city burned so he can kill Esmeralda. Even being a classic case of Knight Templar, his actions cast his "good intentions" as being sham and hollow.
  • 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, 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!
  • 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.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Clopin.
    • Also, Frollo is arguably this for the Disney Villains. Despite almost never appearing in crossovers, rides, merchandise or games he's one of the most well remembered and many people's favorite.
  • Evil Is Cool : Frollo. For some people anyway.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Frollo has huge numbers of people who find him attractive.
  • Faux Symbolism:
    • Frollo falling into a lake of Hellfire-like molten lead.
    • 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!
    • Also, during the last few minutes Esmeralda is wearing a white dress. See Color-Coded for Your Convenience above.
    • 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.
    • Quasimodo's mother running away from Frollo and his soldiers with a baby draped in a white cloth, looks very similar to the scene in The Bible where Moses' mother tries to hide him when Pharaoh ordered that all boys of Israelitic origin shall be thrown into the Nile. The difference here is that she succeeds by putting him in a braided basket and has him float by the river, and never getting killed.
  • The French Love Quasimodo: 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".
  • Grandpa, What Massive Hotness You Have: Despite being around his 50's-60's, Frollo has a lot of fangirls.
  • 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...
  • Ho Yay: Djali is referred to as a male. Hugo makes no secret of his attraction to him.
  • Just Here For Clopin/Frollo: 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, scary and threatening. (That's what a good villain should be like, but I digress) He scares pretty much everyone, excepted for Esmeralda. And more, he's realistically scary. How much people have been killed due to religious zealotry ? Frollo is an animated example of that.
    • 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.
  • 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 reason.
  • 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."
  • Memetic Sex Goddess: Esmeralda.
  • 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 subvert Evil Is Cool is somewhat apparent here, yet it apparently did not work either.
    • He certainly rocks the Tall, Dark and Snarky look and being voiced by Tony Jay certainly helps.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 doesn't help 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.
  • 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 almost every scene 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.
  • 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 arguably the most famous scene in the film.
    • Although "Out There" is another strong contender.
    • As is "God help The Outcasts".
  • 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.
    • Technology Marches On: When the film was being promoted, these 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.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Improved Successor: While the film is a Contested Installment in the Canon, Hunchback (and Hercules) are considered at the very least a step in a different direction from Pocahontas.
  • 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: 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 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. And 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.
    • Iron Woobie: Towards the end of the movie.
    • 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".