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Darker And Edgier / Animated Films

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T'was the tale of a man... and a monster.

  • As far as Pixar movies go, Brave, The Incredibles, Cars 2 and Toy Story 3 are darker than the usual fare.
    • Toy Story 3 doubles as an example of Darker And Edgier within a series, and was an especially memorable case, since it took a series with a reputation for lightheartedness and gave it a Prison Episode.
    • The Incredibles, with its gun violence, depictions of Electric Torture, suicide attempts, large-scale destruction, bad guys who Would Hurt a Child, and "good guys" who run from the police and lie to their own families, all in the same film, may very well be the darkest Pixar movie yet. Brad Bird's history of working on The Simpsons really comes through here.
    Brad: Really, really little kids should not see this movie. They should wait till they get older. We're getting some reactions from people who were disappointed that their four-year-old was a little freaked out by it. Well, I don't want to compromise the intensity in order to please a four-year-old.
    • A good portion of WALL•E takes place in a dark, trash-covered Earth. Not to mention the main character is completely alone. His only company is a cockroach. He then finds himself on a colorful starship full of apathetic obese people.
    • Despite being considered a Breather Episode by some, Cars 2 is a lot darker than the first one. It's plot focuses on Mater accidentally getting mixed up on a spy mission, and there's a lot of violence and character deaths to be seen along the way, in spite of the wackier narrative and protagonist trying to moderate it.
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    • The teaser for Cars 3 is substantially grittier than the rest of the franchise since it revolves around a life-changing car crash that its protagonist, Lightning McQueen, gets into. The color palette is washed-out grey, the CGI looks a lot more realistic, and the cartoonish faces of the cars themselves are nowhere to be seen. The whole thing actually has more in common with a Public Service Announcement about car safety than it does a Pixar movie. Subverted with the film itself, however, which remained fairly in-tone with the first film.
    • Poked fun at in Incredibles 2 when Helen complains about her new "angsty looking" monochromatic super-suit. It also serves as a Take That! to dark superhero redesigns.
  • And as far as the Disney Animated Canon goes, The Black Cauldron and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are considered to be among Disney's darkest.
    • The Black Cauldron was known for its use of darker fantasy concepts, such as the undead, and was the first Disney Animated Canon movie to get a PG rating.
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    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame, despite getting a G rating, is just as dark. The whole story is driven by the villain's sexual obsession with one of the female protagonists, and a number of darker themes - including lust and religious fanaticism - are shown. For that matter, Frollo tries to drown baby Quasimoto solely because of his deformities, right after killing his mother early in the film. It's still Lighter and Softer than the original book, however.
    • Frozen is a major contender for this, despite having a bodycount of only two minor characters (the King and Queen), and the villains punished justly without death. The film features childhood trauma, dead parents, murderous and/or selfish noblemen taking advantage of a crisis for their political gain, a comic relief character that spends the movie dreaming about what would kill him, and the entire cast nearly dying in a massive snowstorm near the end.
    • While not as extreme as the above, The Lion King is considered darker than most Disney movies seeing as it involves the villain successfully killing one of the good guys, his own brother, for real, and clearly averted Never Say "Die". It also dealt rather bluntly with issues like mass starvation. Roger Ebert notably stated that Lion King "is surprisingly solemn in its subject matter, and may even be too intense for very young children."
      • Even in comparison to the first movie, The Lion King II: Simba's Pride is perhaps even darker. Its Villain Song is considered much more intense than that of the first, subjects like child abuse and war are dealt with much more bluntly, and the violence is both heavier and more frequent.
    • Disney's Pinocchio is tamer than the above, but still dark both literally and metaphorically. There's a few really horrifying sequences such as the scene where a boy is seen turning into a donkey, made even worse when we see tons of other boys being turned into donkeys who are either sold to the salt mines or kept to pull the carriage to take more boys to the island to meet the same horrifying fate. Even more unusual for a Disney film, there are three different people who serve as villains (four if you count Monstro), and all of them get away with the things they do, including the ruthless coachmen who kidnaps boys and turns them into donkeys.
    • Mulan thoroughly addresses the subject of war, and the grim consequences thereof, including the implied large-scale murder of the innocent and the grieving family members of those killed. Unfortunately for some, the comic relief may ruin the mood of these scenes.
      • And Mulan's strategic avalanche-triggering makes her personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds of men, something you cannot say about any other Disney Princess.
      • The original poster for the film, compared to the VHS cover.
    • Beauty and the Beast is a very dark movie, despite the breather instances of the 'Be Our Guest' number of dancing teapots and silverware. The story openly shows how much of an outcast Belle is in the town for not conforming to the norm of how the rest of the girls were and were going to throw Maurice into an isane asylum, for talking about a monster nearby. The Beast's background and current position is pretty dark as well. Isolated, cursed with a horrible appearance and the only way to break the curse is to get a woman to fall in love with him, which is difficult because of his looks, but also his personality. It's well-balanced with the aforementioned, lighter moments, but in essence is one of the darker movies Disney had brought out at the time.
    • Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is way darker/edgier than the original classic. We have Lady Tremaine concocting a very diabolical plan, this time with dark magic on her side, a demonic pumpkin carriage that nearly carries Cinderella to her doom and a pretty intense climax. In addition, Cinderella and her prince take levels in badass.
    • Dinosaur, for the time, deviated from the Disney norm of warm sing-along-filled movies. It has a subplot where a meteor destroys the lemur's once-lived lands, the musical tone is dark and the movie is about survival.
    • Some of the Disneytoon Studios Winnie-the-Pooh works, while still very light hearted (especially compared to everything described above), have a much greater sense of peril and emotion than the original film and books. In both The Tigger Movie and Piglet's Big Movie, characters nearly die and many of the movies Deconstruct the usual playfulness of the cast to deal with rather heavy insecurities and conflicts (especially Pooh's Grand Adventure).
  • How to Train Your Dragon wasn't that dark or edgy, but it was more serious compared to most of DreamWorks Animation's other films. The sequel, on the other hand, takes it further. Here, the Big Bad wants to enslave all dragons, there is a battle with a gigantic ice dragon and Stoick dies. To make matters worse, it was the titular dragon, who was Brainwashed and Crazy, that killed him.
  • The 2009 made-for-DVD animated film Wonder Woman takes this approach. Wonder Woman is shown killing on numerous occasions, including cold-bloodedly killing several guards (including two who have their throats cut by her tiara). The film also ramps up the sexual innuendo.
  • The G.I. Joe animated film G.I. Joe: Resolute predated the live-action GI Joe The Riseof Cobra in depicting the Joes as actually hitting and killing enemy soldiers, something that was rather glossed over in the classic TV series.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 is significantly darker than the first film. Multiple characters are Killed Off for Real on screen, (though we don't see their bodies) and the Never Say "Die" rule is broken a LOT, to the point where it seems like "death", "dead", and "kill" are used every other sentence. The villain wants to take over all of China with giant cannons that are seemingly unstoppable and really are used to kill. And then there's the repressed memories of Po's traumatizing childhood, which involved the attempted genocide of his entire species. The first film was also an example in comparison to most other DreamWorks Animation films at the time, which were mostly pure comedy while Kung Fu Panda is an action/comedy with some pretty serious drama thrown in as well. Even the comedy is a bit more mature, with Dreamworks dropping the pop-culture jokes that they had been previously known for. This is a trend that would later be continued by How to Train Your Dragon.
  • The Transformers: The Movie compared to most of the rest of the series, the original series occasionally took a darker turn but everything usually turned out fine in the end, but in the movie the vast majority of the original Autobots are killed within the first 20 minutes in increasingly gruesome manners, Optimus Prime included, later the surviving Autobots (mostly newer characters) band together to save the world from Unicron, a planet-eating Transformer, while having to avoid Galvatron, the rebuilt Megatron.
  • Digimon X-Evolution. When Digimon die, they actually leave their corpses behind, the hero has an attack called "All Delete", and previous heroes are ruthless killers.
  • Ice Age: The first film is this in comparison to the sequels, with a sombre colour palette, constant references to death and/or dying, Adult Fear, and a serious depiction of life during the Ice Age and the fight for survival between humans and animals. And let's not forget that Soto is a Magnificent Bastard who is setting up his own second-in-command throughout the entire film whilst Diego does the same with Manny, Roshan, and Sid....
    • While not as heavy and dramatic as the first film, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown has quite a bit more peril as now there is a threat to all of the cast, main and background, the threats ranging from being eaten by reptiles to being killed by explosive geysers.
  • Epic is this to Blue Sky Studios' other films. As Blue Sky stuck mainly with comedies, this is their first film where the action is pushed to the forefront. Characters die, and a few have major daddy issues.
  • Despicable Me: In the first film, when the girls were taken by Vector, things just got really serious. Especially the sequel, Never Say "Die" is averted multiple times, and the villain's plans for global domination are to set the Brainwashed and Crazy minions (who are turned into omnicidal maniacs as a result of the PX-41 serum) onto the major continents if world's leaders don't hand over control to him. And he wants Gru to help him.
  • The Secret of NIMH is much more frightening than than the novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. While it has does have some elements of Disneyfication, the majority of the events are Played for Drama more than in the book, considering the protagonist is a mouse. For example, Brutus scares off Mrs. Brisby with a spear rather than simply turning her back from the rosebush. Then there's onscreen blood, an evil villain, multiple violent deaths, and the threat of Mrs. Brisby's home sinking into the mud, all of which were completely absent from the novel. The director and producers tried to get a PG rating to appeal to a wider audience, but it rated G anyway.
  • The Franklin film Franklin and the Turtle Lake Treasure threw off a lot of viewers with this and pretty much completely split parents and the show's base. Franklin is an animated children's show once aired on Nick Jr. in the United States in which a typical story dealt with something like two friends having a sleepover, or having an argument about a lost baseball card. Franklin and Friends, its All-CGI Cartoon spinoff, features stories pretty much along the same lines. The Turtle Lake Treasure film opens with the title character's grandmother having a flashback of her losing her home and family in a fire. Later, the same grandmother falls ill, and Franklin states out loud his worry that she might die. He and his friends, along with two new characters, one of his aunts and her goddaughter, go on a journey to retrieve a magic amulet and along the way, Franklin's friend Snail is kidnapped by a group of birds and spirited away to their nest on a high mountain.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants ' film adaptations are much darker than the series.
    • The first movie. Unlike the rest of the series, this movie is considerably a lot darker and has plenty of horror elements. Plankton is more depraved and vicious than in the series, to the point that he sadistically shows excitement and joy when King Neptune is about to kill Mr. Krabs, not to mention the monsters that abound in the way of SpongeBob and Patrick and the mercenary Dennis sent by Plankton to kill the duo.
    • While it's not as dark as the first movie, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water still has its moments compared to the show. A major example being that the Bikini Bottom Apocalypse is actually played rather seriously, especially in the sacrifice scene.
  • Moomins on the Riviera was not so much darker but definitely edgier than the other animated adaptations of The Moomins. Critic Sara Steensig of gbtimes was enthusiastic towards the film but pointed out Moominpappa's painful hangover and Moomintroll's bitter jealousy, and noted that "These are phenomena that adults will recognize but most children will not, and they are shown in a way that will not make young kids wonder about things they are not ready for."
  • The DC Universe Animated Original Movies is a line of animated movies aimed for older comic fans. Tellingly, the first movie out of the gate was an adaptation of The Death of Superman. At times, the Animated Adaptation of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns got darker than the comic it's based on, and Batman: The Killing Jokenote , Justice League Dark, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, and Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay all got rated "R".
  • Babar: The Movie, the first Babar animated film with theatrical release premiered a few months after the 1989's animated series is much darker than the series and includes things like rhinos pillaging and burning down villages, separating children from their mothers (and throwing one of them into a water well), using elephants as slave labor to build pyramids and planning a genocide on Elephantland. The animated series had some pretty harsh stuff (like Babar's mom being shot dead) but in general was a more lighthearted comedy with rhinos as more comedic antagonists than evil slavers.
  • Among the The Mind's Eye series of videos, there's The Gate to the Mind's Eye. While the others showcase a number of different animation segments with a wide range of atmospheres and subjects, the beginning of The Gate goes for the jugular with depictions of an advanced civilization at war, decimation of the environment, implications of death by the millions (called "River of Souls" for a very good reason), dark and gritty imagery in general, and a Satan-like being who likes to loom in the sky using the moon as a headrest. The music for these sequences features Ominous Latin Chanting and a downtrodden piano solo. Naturally, the first of these sequences is called "Armageddon". The rest of the video remains about as sombre until "Nuvogue", where it picks the whimsical and fun-loving tone back up.
  • A few parents complained that the Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends film The Prince, the Princess and the Bee went a bit too far with this with a fire-spitting fire and some drama involving danger in a hot-air balloon, but it really isn't too much of a slide.
  • My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) is a Big Damn Movie and considerably more dramatic and actionized than the show it is based on, as evident from the trailers, which show the characters basically almost dying several times (even though they won't) To cement this further, the movie actually received a PG rating, when most expected a G. Of course, it's still My Little Pony, so it being "Darker And Edgier" really doesn't say all that much in the long run. The movie still has all the lighthearted fun one would expect from the show and its characters.
  • Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a standout example. While it's not uncommon for animated Batman movies to be rated PG-13, the movie falls into this even more due to being the first animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, as well as the first animated Nickelodeon movie, to be rated PG-13. There are a number of brutal moments in the movie including, but not limited to, Shredder nailing a Foot Soldier in the head with a shuriken, Mr. Freeze's Disney Death , Leo's Scarecrow induced nightmare of his brothers dying as rotting corpses, and Donatello's brutal arm shatter.


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