In medieval France, the corrupt and sinister Judge Claude Frollo once uncovered several Gypsies trying to enter Paris with an unidentified and bundled object. One of them attempted to escape with it and Frollo ran her down, indirectly causing her death. It is then that Frollo realized that the woman was carrying a baby, and, disgusted by the infant's deformity, nearly drowned the child in a well when he is stopped by the Archdeacon. He warned Frollo that his sin of spilling innocent blood must be atoned for and has Frollo care for the child as his own. Frollo reluctantly agrees to do so, with the stipulation that the child - whom he names Quasimodo (meaning "half-formed") — reside in the bell tower of the cathedral, never to be seen by public eyes.
Twenty years pass, and the kindhearted but isolated Quasimodo strongly desires to have one day of freedom beyond the walls of Notre Dame to see the Feast of Fools festival and decides to act on his decision after receiving encouragement from his animate stone gargoyle friends Victor, Hugo, and Laverne. However, when Quasimodo's identity is revealed, he is publicly scorned and humiliated by the townspeople until he is rescued by the beautiful and strong-willed Gypsy Esmeralda, who has no tolerance for Frollo's ill-treatment of Quasimodo and her people. This encounter results in an unlikely friendship between Quasimodo and Esmeralda (as well as a one-sided love from Quasimodo to Esmeralda) and an unsettling lust in Frollo, whose inner conflict over his piety to God versus his growing sexual lust for Esmeralda drives him to hunt the Gypsy girl down with the intention of having her for himself or not letting anyone have her at all. With Esmeralda and the other Gypsies' lives in danger, and the whole city of Paris in the grip of Frollo's corruption, Quasimodo must team up with Esmeralda's love interest Captain Phoebus in order to stop Frollo and rescue Esmeralda.
In 1999, the film was translated into German for a stage musical, Der Glöckner von Notre Dame. A second English-language stage adaptation of the film, with a book by Peter Parnell rather than the one James Lapine wrote for the German production, debuted at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse in 2014. This was restaged at New Jersey's Paper Mill Playhouse the following year, though plans for a Broadway transfer were cancelled (although a cast recording has been made.) In 2017 Peter Parnell's version was translated into German and brought to Berlin where it runs until November before going on tour. Both musicals backtracked from Disney's take towards the original novel, and are thus Darker and Edgier to varying extents.
This film provides the following tropes:
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: Near the climax, Frollo pursues Quasimodo and Esmeralda on the balcony of Notre Dame, all the while cleanly slicing through stone gargoyles attempting to slash at them.
- Acting Unnatural: When Quasimodo is entertaining Frollo, all the while desperately hoping he doesn't notice the wounded Phoebus hidden under the table, Frollo suspiciously points out that Quasimodo hasn't eaten any of his dinner. Quasi nervously shoves a handful of grapes into his mouth and almost chokes on them.
- Action Girl: Esmeralda openly insults Frollo and his guards, can outrun and outwit many soldiers (even if they are rather stupid), and is shown to have better-than-average combat skills when she fights Phoebus. While at the stake facing certain death, she spits onto Frollo's face and gives him a Kubrick Stare when he says, "Choose me or the fire."
- Actor Allusion:
- Adaptational Alternate Ending: Disney's version heavily changes the ending of the story - in the original Victor Hugo novel, both Esmeralda and Quasimodo die; in the Disney version, they both survive, Esmeralda marries Phoebus and Quasimodo gets accepted by the society. Interestingly, the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of the Disney movie brings back the Downer Ending.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: It is difficult to know exactly how Victor Hugo pictured Quasimodo as we have only his words, but his monstrous description invites the reader to think of him as being as ugly and scary as they possibly can and then add some. In Animated Adaptations Quasimodo is portrayed as more Ugly Cute. This is downplayed though, as Quasi is still shown as ugly to a degree.
- Adaptational Badass: Original!Esmeralda was a docile Damsel in Distress. Disney!Esmeralda is an Action Girl and a Defiant Captive.
- Adaptational Heroism: Phoebus. In the book, he's a womanizing Jerkass who gets no comeuppance. Here he's pushed from being a loyal soldier into a revolutionary, who opposes Frollo whenever he can.
- Adaptational Nice Guy:
- While still a heroic character, book Quasimodo was much more asocial and inclined to violence, displaying a softer side only toward Frollo and Esmeralda due to them being the only human beings to treat him somewhat decently. This incarnation pretty much is a Nice Guy with no resent or animosity toward anyone.
- Also in the novel, Clopin is an extremely violent and roguish cad who is an Anti-Hero at his best. Here, he's a colorful, over-the-top jester (outside of the Court of Miracles, at least).
- Adaptational Villainy: Claude Frollo, while he becomes an Anti-Villain, is a much more sympathetic character in the original book. To begin with, he voluntarily takes in Quasimodo in the beginning instead of killing his mother and threatening to hurl him down a well.
- Adapted Out: Gringoire, Jehan Frollo, Fleur-de-Lys, Sister Gudule, and the King of France are all absent from this version. Gringoire's role in the plot has been mostly given to Phoebus, so he's not really necessary. The King is said to be away fighting in the wars, so this allows Frollo to have full control of the city.
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "Why her smoldering eyes still scorch my soul?"
- Adult Fear: There's a taste of this in the introduction. Claude Frollo tries to take Quasimodo away from his mother, and assumes that the bundle is stolen goods when the mother refuses to give up the swaddled infant. She then has to evade Frollo through the streets of Paris in order to protect her baby. She's running, he's on horseback
- Aerith and Bob: Victor, Hugo, and... Laverne. The first two double as Shout-Out Theme Naming, to Victor Hugo obviously.
- An Aesop: There is a difference between laughing with a crowd and being laughed at by a crowd. While Quasimodo is initially being celebrated by the crowd during "Topsy Turvy", the lyrics of the song are a Stealth Insult, saying "once a year the ugliest will wear a crown". It takes only one thrown tomato to turn the crowd to acts of sadism.
"And we wish we could leave you a moral/Like a trinket you hold in your palm."
- Averted in the stage show:
- Don't judge people based on appearances, as even people who appear "normal" have the capacity to do horrific things.
- Age Lift: Frollo was only in his mid-thirties in the book yet seems to be around 20 years older in the movie. Esmeralda also seems to be in her mid-twenties rather than 16 like in the book.
- All-Loving Hero:
- The Archdeacon extends the same compassion to the despised and the deformed as he does to everyone else.
- Esmeralda. If her "God Help the Outcasts" doesn't fill the bill, her treatment of Quasimodo does.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Frollo and his men invade the Court of Miracles after he tricks Quasimodo into revealing its location.
- Amazon Chaser: Watching Esmeralda single-handedly trounce Frollo's guards makes Phoebus exclaim "What a woman!" despite nearly being decapitated.
- Angry Mob Song: "The Court of Miracles" is sung primarily by Clopin, but it includes all the people in the court, and they're all angry at Frollo.
- Annoying Arrows: Averted. It only takes one shot to down the armoured Phoebus. Though not long after being downed by the arrow (approximately a couple hours in movie-time), he's fine. The wound was cleaned, stitched and still hurts him, but he's using the affected muscles to catch falling hunchbacks with no difficulty.
- Anti-Hero: Esmeralda is a Knight In Sour Armor (jaded but still acts heroically) while Clopin is an Unscrupulous Hero (happy to kill perceived enemies).
- Any Last Words?: Clopin, while preparing to hang Quasi and Phoebus in a parody of Frollo's court. When they can't say anything due to being gagged, he quips, "That's what they all say."
- Apologetic Attacker:
- Phoebus tries one on Esmeralda, while she has him pinned to the floor with his own sword at his throat, and it works!
- Victor goes so far as to cover his eyes as he drops a single brick on a soldier from atop the cathedral. After it impacts, he peeks over the edge of the cathedral and calls down an apology.
- Archnemesis Dad: Frollo takes Quasimodo in after killing his mother, but only to save his own soul and keep Quasi for later use. He raises his erstwhile son to hate himself, tells him that the world is dark and cruel, and keeps him locked away from sight to prevent being associated with him. When Frollo's atrocities increase, Quasi realizes the man's evil, calls him out on his abusive parenting, and saves Esmeralda from the murderously insane Frollo.
- Arc Words:
- "Who is the monster, and who is the man?"
- "Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison..."
- Armor-Piercing Response: When Phoebus is told by Frollo to burn down an innocent family's house with them inside.Phoebus: With all due respect, sir, I was not trained to murder the innocent.Frollo: But you were trained to follow orders!
- Artistic License – History: The real Notre Dame de Paris has never - at any point in its history - had steps leading up to the front doors. Presumably the film makers added them for dramatic effect (and so it would be easier to Frollo to 'accidentally' kill Quasimodo's mother when she falls and breaks her neck.)
- To be fair, the depiction of the medieval Paris is full of inconsistencies, most of which would only be picked up by historians (e.g. a bridge represented next to Notre-Dame built decades after the action of the film takes place). However, even a layman could object to the presence of tomatoes and tobacco pipes (two products from South America) in France ten years before discovery of the New World.
- Ascended Extra: Quasimodo, the titular Hunchback of Notre Dame, is much more important to the plot than in the original.
- As the Good Book Says...: Averted; Frollo's Famous Last Words sound like a verse from The Bible, but aren't. However, it does bear resemblance to Isaiah 11:4 ("[A]nd he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked").
- Barefoot Poverty: Esmeralda, as a poor Gypsy woman. At the end of the film, she falls in love with the clearly wealthy-looking Captain of the Guard, Phoebus, and in the sequel she inexplicably gains shoes.
- Batman Gambit: How Frollo finds the Court of Miracles. He knows that Quasimodo is in league with the Gypsies and so likely has a means of communicating or meeting with them. Thus, he tells him that his men have found the court and that he plans to advance upon it in the near future. This is a lie, as Frollo has no idea where the court is. Quasi buys it, though, and heads off to warn the Gypsies. Frollo covertly follows him and ends up discovering the court.
- Because You Were Nice to Me: Esmeralda's act of kindness of defending Quasimodo during the Feast of Fools is what makes Quasimodo fall for her.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Quasimodo is sweet and kind, almost to a fault, but if you cross him, look out; he can break steel chains.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Clopin acts like a silly jester on the streets, but underground, in his own territory, he is a terrifying authority figure.
- Big Bad: Judge Claude Frollo is responsible for all the movie's conflict because of his racism, misogyny and tyrannical attitude.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- The Archdeacon steps in to save Baby!Quasimodo from drowning.
- Esmeralda is the only one who stands up to not only Frollo, but to the entire crowd when they torture and bully Quasimodo during the Festival of Fools.
- Esmeralda stops her people from hanging Phoebus and Quasimodo.
- Quasimodo rescues Esmeralda in the climax.
- Phoebus for that family in the burning building and also when he rescues Quasimodo from falling.
- Big Good: The Archdeacon opposes Frollo and keeps him to a certain degree of civility.
- Big "NO!": Happens four times times in the climax. Played completely straight, given the horrific circumstances behind it. The first time is by Quasimodo when Frollo lights the stake to burn Esmeralda alive, the second by the people of Paris when they rebel against Frollo, the third when Frollo falls to his well-deserved death, and the fourth when Esmeralda loses grip on Quasimodo's arm and he only escapes falling to his death thanks to Phoebus.
- Big "SHUT UP!": Frollo yelling "Silence!" towards Esmeralda for calling him out for his cruelty. She counters this with "Justice!"
- Big Word Shout: "STOP!" cried the Archdeacon!
- Bilingual Bonus:
Judex ergo cum sedebit (Therefore, when the Judge will take his seat)
- During the "Hellfire" sequence, the Ominous Latin Chanting in the background is the Confiteor, a prayer Catholics recite during the Mass that is an admission of guilt and wrongdoing. Most awesomely, when Frollo is proclaiming that it's not his fault, what the red hoods of doom chant back at him is "mea culpa" and "mea maxima culpa", Latin for "through my fault" and "through my most grievous fault" respectively. As if that isn't enough, the portion of the Confiteor that actually asks for forgiveness is omitted.
- During "Hellfire", when Frollo says "God have mercy on her/God have mercy on me", you can hear the "kyrie eleison", Greek for "Lord, have mercy", being chanted in the background.
- The Latin lyrics to the piece that plays as Frollo hunts Quasimodo and Esmeralda is "dies irae" or "Day of Wrath", which is about how the wicked shall be punished in eternal fire. It gets even better when you realize that the same lyrics were used in the score much earlier while Frollo was chasing down Quasimodo's mother, as in both cases, he is using his religious fundamentalism to justify hunting down an innocent who is trying to protect someone who cannot defend themselves.
- On top of that, the only lines sung when Frollo chases Quasimodo's mother, right after we're informed he's a judge, are:Dies irae! Dies illa (The day of wrath, that day)
Solvet saeclum in favilla (Will dissolve the world in ashes)
Quantus tremor est futurus (How much tremor there will be)
Quando iudex est venturus (When the judge will come)
- On top of that, the only lines sung when Frollo chases Quasimodo's mother, right after we're informed he's a judge, are:
- 'Notre Dame' is not the name of the cathedral. The full name is Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris - often translated as "The Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris" or simply "Notre Dame Cathedral,". 'Notre Dame' directly translates to 'Our Lady' but is used specifically to refer to the Virgin Mother, Mary. This means that the Archdeacon's line about 'the very eyes of Notre Dame' just as much refers to the 'eyes of Our Lady', the Virgin Mary, as he does the Genius Loci of the cathedral. The statue of Mary is featured prominently in the accompanying animation sequence. This is brought up again and made even more brilliant with Phoebus' line "and now [Frollo] has declared war on [Our Lady] herself!" Frollo, in his quest to murder innocent people and purge entire races, has now began an attack on the epitome of all innocence; the Mother of Christ herself. note
- The lyrics of the choir in Sanctuary, the score that plays while Quasimodo saves Esmeralda from being burned at the stake, match up perfectly with the animation when translated - such as "Libera me Domine de morte aeterna" ("Free me, Lord, from everlasting death") while Quasimodo is breaking from the chains holding him; "Sit sempiterna gloria" ("May You always be praised") as he climbs Notre Dame while carrying her; and "Sanctus, sanctus in excelsis" ("Holy, holy, in the highest") as he claims sanctuary. The entire set of verses as he's freeing Esmeralda is a prayer for strength and salvation:O, salutaris hostia ("Oh saving victim")
Quae caeli pandis ostium ("Who expand the door of heaven")
Bella premunt hostilia ("Hostile wars press us")
Da robur, fer auxilium ("Give us strength, bring us aid")
O saving Victim, open wide
- "O Salutaris Hostia" has the verse rendered in English as
The gate of heav'n to us below,
Our foes press on from ev'ry side;
Your aid supply, your strength bestow.
- And then when Frollo moves to attack the cathedral:
Nil inultum remanebit (Nothing shall remain unpunished)
Quem patronum rogaturus (To what protector shall I appeal)
- And when Phoebus rushes to the rescue:
Cum vix justus sit securus? (When scarcely the just man shall be secure?)
- Birds of a Feather: Played with. Esmeralda and Quasimodo bond over their mutually restricted freedom, and while Esmeralda and Phoebus are both sarcastic and rebellious to do what is right, Phoebus doesn't rebel against Frollo until Frollo attempts to burn down a house with an innocent family still inside.
- Black Comedy: A visual example during "A Guy Like You". When Hugo sings the lines "Those other guys that she could dangle...", we see three little ragdolls getting hanged.
- Blatant Lies:
Esmeralda: What are you doing?
- "Besides, knights in shining armour aren't her type", and the entire song following that line.
- Many of Frollo's lies are quite blatant to the audience, but some of them are blatant to Esmeralda as well. Consider the scene where he sniffs her hair.
Frollo: I was just imagining a rope around that beautiful neck.
Esmeralda: I know what you're imagining.
Frollo: ... Such a clever witch. So typical of your kind to twist the truth, to cloud the mind with unholy thoughts.
- Bloodless Carnage: Averted. When Frollo kicks Quasimodo's mother, she falls to the steps unmarked. As the Archdeacon cradles her body, however, we see the snow splattered with blood.
- Bloodstained Glass Windows: No bloodier than you'd expect for a Disney animated film, but Phoebus lampshades it in his fight with Esmeralda inside the cathedral's sanctuary: "Candlelight, privacy, music! Can't think of a better place for hand-to-hand combat!" It's done much more seriously in the climax, as Frollo and Quasimodo fight on the parapets of the bell tower.
- Body Horror: Victor drops a brick on a guard's head during the climax. The results aren't pretty.
- Bookends: "Bells of Notre Dame" is played at the beginning of the film, and its reprise plays at the end of the film.
- On the Disney Sing-Along Songs video released to promote this movie, the title track is a sanitized version of "Topsy Turvy". Not only did they cut out Esmeralda's dance, but they also rewrote the lyrics so that Clopin wouldn't mention devils and beer. See for yourself here.
- The film straddles the line in between playing this straight and averting this. On one hand, Phoebus is a good guy, the gargoyles are comic relief, Esmeralda is old enough to make Phoebus' attraction to her natural, and there's a happy ending. On the other, gypsies are portrayed as both entertainers and cutthroats, genocide is implied, and Frollo's sexual desires conflicting with his religious beliefs is only downplayed enough to make it as a family film.
- Played straight with the racial politics of the film. The gypsies of the novel are mostly dangerous & violent, though Clopin is protrayed sympathetically, and the Sack Woman does not hate gypsies for taking Esmeralda away from her after they reunite. This film, on the other hand, is explicitly anti-racist.
- Also, while Quasimodo's humiliation occurred in the book, there it was semi-justified as he had tried to kidnap Esmeralda and not because the crowd was just sadistic. Also, he was actually whipped as punishment, and Esmeralda's kindness involved giving him water after he begged for it.
- Brains Evil, Brawn Good: Quasimodo is strong and good, Frollo is clever and evil.
- Brick Joke: "I'm free! I'm free! ... Dang it."
- But I Would Really Enjoy It: Frollo's sexual frustration.
- Butt-Monkey: The old man, who is imprisoned in first a cage, then a pillory, then a sewer:[The cage breaks]Old Man: I'm free! I'm free![He stumbles into a pillory and gets locked back up again]Old Man: Dang it![Later the pillory breaks]Old Man: I'm free! I'm free![He stumbles into an open sewer grate]Old Man: Dang it!
- Calling the Old Man Out: During the film's climax in the cathedral, Quasi says to Frollo, "All my life you've told me that the world is a dark, cruel place, but now I see the only thing dark and cruel about it is people like YOU!"
- Can't Kill You, Still Need You: Frollo spares Quasimodo, though the main reason Frollo can't kill Quasimodo as a baby is that the Archdeacon caught him trying and used his fear of God to get him to adopt Quasimodo. He does, however, state that he's going to find a use for the "foul creature".
- Catch a Falling Star: Phoebus manages to catch Quasimodo as he falls off of Notre Dame and haul him inside. It's an especially egregious example of snatching someone out of midair since he'd gotten shot through the shoulder the day before.
- Celebrating the Heroes: While Phoebus and Esmeralda get to hold hands, Quasimodo gets carried on the shoulders of joyful Parisians, proud of the recluse of the belltowers that defeated the haywire Judge Frollo.
- Cerebus Callback: During "A Guy Like You", a borderline Disney Acid Sequence, the gargoyles give Quasimodo the Ace of Hearts card while they're trying to convince him that Esmeralda would love him. Shortly after this when he sees Esmeralda kissing Phoebus, he pulls out the card and rips it up.
- Character Development:
- Quasimodo goes from being passive to becoming more assertive with his oppressive guardian.
- Quasimodo is tied up twice. The first time, it's with rope, he's completely helpless, begging Frollo to help him, until Esmeralda comes to his rescue; the second time, it's with chains, which he breaks with his own willpower, in an act of defiance against Frollo, so that he can rescue Esmeralda.
- Phoebus is initially the pawn who loathes injustice. In the opening, he discreetly rescues Esmeralda from arrest but never quite speaks out against injustice, and Frollo refuses to let Phoebus intervene when Quasimodo undergoes public humiliation. It's when he witnesses Frollo's attempted execution of an innocent family that Phoebus starts intervening explicitly from then on.
- Esmeralda initially starts off as confrontational and distrustful due to the hardships she and the other gypsies have endured, but her interactions with Quasimodo and Phoebus gradually soften her and teach her how to trust.
- Frollo, while always evil, is initially much more collected and methodical. He also shows at least some fear of God and respect for the institution of the Church, as when the Archdeacon reminds him that God knows of his sins as much as he denies it and this spurs him to adopt Quasimodo out of that fear. By the end of the film he's so angry and insane that he has no problems burning down the homes of random citizens, attacking Notre Dame, and throwing the archdeacon off a staircase.
- Quasimodo goes from being passive to becoming more assertive with his oppressive guardian.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The amulet that Quasimodo receives from Esmeralda. It is a perfect map of Paris with the Ile de la Cite (the island in the River Seine where Notre Dame stands) as the reference point. Phoebus and Quasimodo uses it to locate the Court of Miracles in Cimetière du Père-Lachaise (the still-standing graveyard in Paris' 20th district).
- That gargoyle head that breaks under Frollo's feet during the climax? He sliced halfway through it a few moments earlier.
- Children Are Innocent: The little girl who hugs Quasimodo at the end, plus infant Quasimodo.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Phoebus. He's obviously very excited by Esmeralda's dancing (and much less ashamed of his excitement than Frollo is), but is able to look beyond just that to her kindness and spirit.
- Chromatic Arrangement: It's subtle, but Laverne is slightly reddish, Victor is slightly bluish, and Hugo is slightly greenish.
- Churchgoing Villain: Frollo will recite prayers while plotting genocide.
- Climbing Climax: The Final Battle takes place on Notre Dame, from the main hall all the way to the top of the tower.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: During Phoebus' introduction, Frollo explains to him that the previous captain of the guard was "a disappointment." Cue a whip crack in the background as a man screams in agony as Phoebus looks disturbed and Frollo just smirks.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
- Frollo and his soldiers (with the exception of Phoebus) are all in very dark, faded colors, while Quasimodo, Esmeralda, Phoebus, and any given Gypsy wear much brighter clothing. At the end, Phoebus and Esmeralda are both wearing white, which stands for purity and is the customary color to get married in.
- In the sequel both of Madellaine's outfits match Quasimodo's-Love Interest ahoy!
- Comically Missing the Point: The gargoyles ward off the soldiers with the help of a catapult. Instead of shooting projectiles with it, they throw the entire thing at the enemy. It misses the soldiers, falling face down.Victor: Are you sure that's how it works?
(the catapult deploys, flipping over and hitting the guards; smashing them like a mousetrap)
Hugo: Works for me!
- Companion Cube:
- A minor example, but the bells are this to Quasimodo. He has names for all of them, and refers to them in terms of gender. note
- Assuming that the gargoyles are truly in Quasimodo's imagination, then they'd be these too.
- Composite Character: Phoebus, who gains his good traits from Pierre Gringoire, an Author Avatar character who appeared in the book.
- Compressed Adaptation: The film compresses a really big book into an animated film not much longer than an hour in length, and several characters—Gringoire, Jehan Frollo, Fleur-de-Lys, Sister Gudule, and the King of France are all Adapted Out.
- Conspicuous CG: The crowd in the ending zoom-out.
- Conspicuously Light Patch:
- The ant-infested tile Frollo picks up.
- Played with in that the gargoyles, when they aren't "alive", appear as matte paintings, but then look like this when they come to life.
- Convection Schmonvection: During the climax, Quasimodo pours a ton of molten lead down onto the guards besieging the cathedral. Frollo is trapped behind the fall of molten metal, barely an arm's length away, and is absolutely fine.
- Cool Horse:
- "Achilles! Heel!" According to the DVD commentary, when asked "What's the horse's name?", someone finally answered "Achilles!" just for this joke.
- Frollo's horse. When Phoebus steals it, he tells the guards to avoid hurting the horse in the process of taking down Phoebus.
- Covering for the Noise: Quasimodo is hiding a wounded Phoebus under his table when Frollo comes to visit. As Quasimodo starts eating the grapes Frollo brought, Phoebus moans, and Quasi tries to cover it up by going "Mmmm!". When Phoebus keeps moaning, Quasimodo kicks him under the table and pretends to be choking on seeds.
- Creator Cameo: Gary Trousdale, the director, voices the prisoner who is freed from one prison before landing in another.
- Crowd Song: "Topsy Turvy" is the official song of the Festival of Fools and so is sung by many people there.
- The first few verses of God Help the Outcast are sung by the regular congregants-selfish prayers for things "I can posess," to contrast Esmerelda's prayer for succour for the homeless.
- Curse Cut Short:Esmeralda: You sneaky son of a...
Phoebus: Ah ah ah, watch it. We're in a church.
- Darker and Edgier:
- This film is much darker than the standard Disney Animated Canon fare. The villain sings about lusting after a woman and burning her alive if he can not have her. It is even worse in the stage version, where Esmeralda dies, which premiered in Berlin in German and New Jersey in English. Much more jokes for the benefit of the adults were added, along with sexual innuendo, and Esmeralda's hideout being a tavern and her protector being the madam of the whorehouse (who was specifically referred to in the lyrics as "the madam, that whore".)
- The villain's a genocidal racist (as demonstrated when he crushes ants beneath a stone block while talking to Phoebus to show what he will do when he finds the Gypsies) and telling the Gypsies he's just rounded up, "There'll be a little bonfire in the square tomorrow, and you're all invited to attend."
- Strangely, despite the movie's Disneyfication, it's actually darker than the novel in a few respects; gypsy genocide isn't on the agenda at all in the book, nor is Paris burned. Also, Disney changed Quasimodo's public humiliation from simple corporal punishment to the whim of a sadistic crowd. Not to mention Disney's Frollo completely lacks any of his literary counterpart's Anti-Villainous traits.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Unless you're Frollo.
- Dark Reprise: Inverted by multiple melodies simply by switching between major and minor keys:
- The opening fanfare is in a minor key, as is "Hellfire", but the endings of "The Bells of Notre Dame" and "Heaven's Light" are in parallel and relative major keys respectively.
- The melody of the verses of "Out There" is repeated throughout the score in a minor key. (See Leitmotif for a list of instances.)
- Whether or not this is an inversion, or if the trope is played straight here, could be debated, as the minor key is heard on the soundtrack twice before the actual song.
- Dead Man's Chest: Quasimodo hides the wounded and unconscious Phoebus under the table when Frollo comes to visit unexpectedly.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Phoebus is more clearly a snarker than Esmeralda since most of her snark is from her banter with Phoebus earlier in the movie. He's been known to snark outside of that moment:Quasimodo: Is this the Court of Miracles?
Phoebus: Offhand, I'd say it's the Court of Ankle-Deep Sewage.
- Frollo gets in some zingers.Frollo: And look what else I've caught in my net: Captain Phoebus, back from the dead. Another miracle, no doubt. I shall remedy that.
- Phoebus is more clearly a snarker than Esmeralda since most of her snark is from her banter with Phoebus earlier in the movie. He's been known to snark outside of that moment:
- Death by Cameo: In one of the shots of the streets of Paris during the song "Out There", Pumbaa from The Lion King is being carried off on a pole, presumably to be roasted.
- Death by Irony: "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into a fiery pit!" Ask and ye shall receive...
- Death by Racism: In a Disney Film, of all places. Frollo attempts to kill Esmeralda, believing that she's guilty of witchcraft because of her Romani roots, and ultimately dies in the process.
- Death Glare:
Archdeacon: But you never can run from nor hide what you've done from the eyes! (Points up at Notre Dame) The very eyes of Notre Dame!
- The statues that adorn Notre Dame Cathedral give one to Frollo during the "Bells of Notre Dame."
- Frollo does this twice to Quasimodo after he disobeyed his orders to stay in the Notre Dame bell-tower and was humiliated by the crowd (due to Frollo's guards starting a riot). Much later in the last third of the film, he then gave Quasi another one before ordering his guards to take him back to the bell-tower after discovering the Court of Miracles.
- Quasimodo does one when he sees Frollo lighting the stake that he tied Esmeralda to, this shows that Quasi is not going to stand for this any longer.
- Decomposite Character: Disney decomposed Frollo. The book's conflicted Archdeacon Claude Frollo is split into the good Archdeacon and the evil Justice Minister Claude Frollo.
- Averted in the English stage show, where Frollo is once again Archdeacon. He promptly used the position to order soldiers to negate sanctuary for Esmeralda.
- This also extends to Quasimodo for that matter. in the original novel Quasimodo is Esmeralda's attacker(Under Frollo's order) only to be stopped by Phoebus, while the Disney version gives Quasimodo's attacker role to the Brutish and Oafish Guard.
- Deconstructed Trope:
- The movie takes Madonna–Whore Complex and shows how unrealistic it is to look at a woman from either standard. Frollo sees Esmeralda only as a Whore who represents lust and danger (plus he hates Roma), so he decides that he shall have her or she'll be burned to death; on the other hand, Quasi sees her solely as the super kind and gentle Madonna who saved him, thus he idealises her. Therefore both of their views are very inaccurate... and this is the reason why she was drawn to Phoebus: because he saw Esmeralda's true personality and went beyond these strict definitions.
- This is Lampshaded by Esmeralda who is drawn to the Madonna because she sees her as a strong, caring woman who's seen her share of hardship - someone she can relate to, not a paragon.
- The movie takes Madonna–Whore Complex and shows how unrealistic it is to look at a woman from either standard. Frollo sees Esmeralda only as a Whore who represents lust and danger (plus he hates Roma), so he decides that he shall have her or she'll be burned to death; on the other hand, Quasi sees her solely as the super kind and gentle Madonna who saved him, thus he idealises her. Therefore both of their views are very inaccurate... and this is the reason why she was drawn to Phoebus: because he saw Esmeralda's true personality and went beyond these strict definitions.
- Defiant Captive: When Esmeralda is captured and about to be burnt at the stake, she spits at Frollo. She's Defiant to the End.
- Demoted to Extra: Downplayed in the case of Esmeralda. While she is still plays a pivotal role in the story, the movie clearly gives Quasimodo more focus than her, even dropping Esmeralda's subplot of finding her mother.
- Descent into Darkness Song: Frollo's "Hellfire" song counts as a Dark Reprise of "Heaven's Light", but it also counts alone as this trope. A sacred chant leads into the song, With composure, Frollo sings to the Virgin Mary, "You know I am a righteous man..." and then the song gets darker as he sings of how desire for Esmeralda tempts him. The accompanying chants turn ominous, and Frollo pictures himself condemned. He concludes: "She'll be mine or she will burn!"
- Deus ex Machina: A literal case: Frollo spends the movie on a reign of terror that he proclaims to be for a higher cause, sings a Villain Song that's an inverted confession of sins, and assaults a cathedral. When he's swinging a sword and raving about how He shall cast down the wicked, the gargoyle under his feet roars at him and breaks off.
- Did Not Get the Girl: Quasimodo. He's not bitter about it. In fact, he's encouraging Esmeralda and Phoebus at the end.
- Disguised in Drag: Hugo briefly during the "A Guy Like You" song.
- Disney Death:
- Esmeralda is briefly unconscious due to smoke inhalation, not dead.
- In the stage version, it's not so Disney. She revives long enough to look at him and weakly say, "I... think you are a good friend", then dies, probably from carbon monoxide poisoning. All in all, the chain-yanking makes it worse than in Hugo's novel.
- Disneyfication: You wouldn't think Victor Hugo's original novel would be suitable fare for a children's movie. Despite being one of Disney's darkest movies, they still made it much nicer than the book — Esmeralda was nicer, Phoebus was nicer, Quasimodo was nicer, there was a clearer line between good and evil, and the good guys didn't all die or kill themselves at the end. Even more strangely, the Disney movie is actually darker than the novel in a few respects; gypsy genocide isn't on the agenda at all in the book, nor is Paris burned. Also, Disney changed Quasimodo's public humiliation from simple corporal punishment to the whim of a sadistic crowd.
- Disney Villain Death: Frollo falls, all right, but it's given a fair bit more detail than the usual Disney Villain Death. You see the splash as Frollo falls into the pool of molten lead below him. In the musical, Quasimodo throws him (as in the book). In the film, Quasimodo would be an heroic example if Phoebus hadn't caught him.
- Distressed Dude: Phoebus and Quasi find the Court of Miracles. They are Bound and Gagged by Clopin and the Gypsies, mistaking them for "Frollo's spies", leaving Esmeralda to save them from an untimely execution.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The Lawful Evil antagonist singing about how much he desires the resident sensual brunette? In a church? With the sound of people praying in the background?
- The climax, where the antagonist corners the hero high above the flames and tells him he was lying all along about the protagonist's parents death, and that he was responsible for it.
- An elderly judge confessing his lust for a young woman in an intense musical number. The phrase "mea culpa" is also present.
- Frollo's "Hellfire" song contains the lyrics 'Like fire, hellfire, this fire in my skin, This burning desire is turning me to... sin!' Given Frollo's hidden lust for Esmeralda, the "fire in his skin" could be suggestive of some S.T.D. like syphillis or gonorrhea.
- Doorstop Baby: Frollo accidentally (but remorselessly) kills his mother and is forced to adopt Quasimodo by the Archdeacon.
- Elite Mooks: Frollo's visored soldiers, who may be one of the most competent Disney henchmen in history. Compared to Frollo's more thuggish non-visored soldiers, these semi-faceless soldiers are far more menacing, skilled, and overall, very competent, and have effectively carried out Frollo's will, such as ambushing and arresting gypsies, searching for gypsy hiding places, shooting down Phoebus without hitting Frollo's horse, burning down most of Paris, and even when they were defeated by molten lead in the climax, they managed to damage the cathedral doors just enough so that Frollo can go after Quasimodo. The worst part is that there are a thousand of them at Frollo's command.
- Enthralling Siren: What Frollo sees Esmerelda as - imagining that she cast a spell on him with her dancing.
- Establishing Character Moment:
- The very first thing we see Frollo do is murder an innocent woman and attempts to drown her defenseless child, then to defend his actions as righteous.
- When Quasimodo is fully revealed on-screen, the first thing he does is demonstrates his compassion for living things and a longing to get out of the bell tower by helping a little bird learn how to fly. He turns and we see this playful smile on his face, and says hello to the baby bird in a gentle and approachable voice. The DVD commentary stated that because this scene was the first moment on-screen where you see Quasi's face, it was very important in making sure that the audience was rooting for Quasimodo right off the bat with this moment, and it makes Frollo's emotional abuse of Quasi all the more repulsive.
- Everyone Has Standards: It took very little incentive from a few guards to push the crowd of Parisian citizens to bully and mock Quasimodo. However, during the finale, they have clearly become disgusted by Frollo's parody of "justice". When he's about to burn Esmeralda, the crowd is clearly furious, with people shouting that she didn't do anything and she is innocent, and the guards are barely containing the uprising. (Also note that Esmeralda is an outcast among their society, yet they still pick her side.) It only takes a brief but inspiring speech from Pheobus to launch a full-blown revolt against Frollo.
- Everyone Hates Mimes: Victor has to stop Hugo from spitting on one during the Feast of Fools (although it's more to console Quasi than to protect the mime).
- Evil Eyebrows: Frollo has these, which make him look rather creepy.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: For being one of Disney's most darkest, and most serious villains, Frollo does show a sick, cruel, and twisted sense of humor. Most notably when he is supervising someone being whipped, just as his new Captain of the Guard Phoebus arrives.Frollo: You know, my last Captain of the Guard was um...a bit of a disappointment to me.
[whipcrack follow by a loud scream of pain; Phoebus cringes while Frollo smirks]
Frollo: Well, no matter. I'm sure you'll...whip my men into shape. [grins]
Phoebus: Well...th-that's a...tre-tremendous honor, sir...
- Evil Minions: Frollo's regular, non-visored guards, in contrast to the visored soldiers.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Frollo with the cold, baritone voice of Tony Jay.
- Evil Plan: Initially Frollo was all about arresting and killing the Gypsies. After the Festival of Fools this is expanded to include possessing Esmeralda.
- Evil vs. Evil: While Frollo is clearly a genocidal maniac it is interesting to note that the gypsies themselves live in the Court of Miracles (where all the criminals in Paris hang out) and try to murder Quasimodo and Phoebus for discovering them, all the while singing a jaunty tune about their crimes and deception. On the other hand, some of the lines in "Court of Miracles" imply that the gypsies are doing to (what they think are) Frollo's spies what Frollo did to them. So the lines about how criminals live in the Court might have been their way of mocking Frollo's prejudices, along the lines of "You say we're criminals? We'll give you criminals."
- Extreme Omni-Goat: Djali, though this trope was not used in the original.
- Family-Unfriendly Death:
- Judge Frollo falls to his death off of a crumbling gargoyle and into a pit of molten copper. It may be clouded by smoke, but it is certain that he died from the impact only to have his corpse immolated. Not to mention there are strong implications that this was the result of divine intervention.
- Quasimodo's mother to a lesser extent; she is knocked down the stairs of the cathedral and dies the moment her head hits the bottom stair. While we only see her from the front, it's implied the back of her head split open and her neck broke upon contact.
- Fan Edit: There's a fan edit with some of the gargoyles' scenes edited out or shortened to prevent the Mood Whiplash. The edit makes the film much darker.
- Fashionable Asymmetry: Esmeralda's outfit isn't symmetrical (she has a decorated wrap on one side of her skirt and only one ankle bracelet), and both she and most of the other Gypsies such as Clopin (who themselves are hardly symmetrical in dress) only have one earring in. Esmeralda is actually sharing a pair of earrings with Djali. Quasimodo is a bizarre subversion of this—his simple outfit is symmetrical, but his body (his hump is slightly offset to the right) and facial asymmetry aren't very attractive.
- First Guy Wins: Esmeralda ends up with Phoebus, the first love interest that she meets in the film.
- Flames of Love: Given a dark twist by Judge Claude Frollo. His Villain Song compares his "burning desire" for Esmeralda as "Hellfire in [his] skin". He sings in front of a huge fireplace, sees a fiery version of Esmeralda in there and ends his musical number with flame-like shadows surrounding the scenery.
- Foil: Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Phoebus are all foils to Frollo in their own way.
Now here is a riddle to guess if you can, sing the bells of Notre Dame:
- Clopin makes the Quasimodo-Frollo contrast explicit in the opening scene:
Who is the monster and who is the man?
- Later on, Quasimodo and Frollo sing "Heaven's Light" and "Hellfire" back-to-back, with the two songs each placing Esmeralda on one side of the Madonna–Whore Complex.
- Esmeralda's song "God Help the Outcasts" also contrasts sharply with "Hellfire". While both songs are addressed directly to Mary, Esmeralda asks selflessly for the well-being of her people and the poor, while Frollo selfishly asks to kill and/or possess Esmeralda.
- Lastly, Phoebus' strong sense of justice and protecting the innocent contrasts with Frollo's flagrant disregard for justice when it benefits himself.
- "Remember, Quasimodo, this is your sanctuary."
- Quasimodo's speech mocking the idea that he could possibly be the hero- literally everything he says comes to pass by the end.Quasimodo: What am I supposed to do, go out and rescue the girl from the jaws of death and the whole town will cheer like I'm some kind of hero?!
- Look at 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. Also, aside from the obvious symbolism he's invoking by burning Esmeralda's figure, there is how he smashes all the other figures and the cathedral model in his rage; not only does this foreshadow his Villainous Breakdown later on, it specifically shows how he's willing to do anything, whether killing the citizens or attacking the cathedral itself, to get what he wants.
- When Phoebus first visits the belltower, an enraged Quasimodo effortlessly picks him up with one arm, showing his extraordinary strength when protecting those dear to him. The next time he becomes angry is when he sees Esmeralda about to be burned alive.
- Friend to All Children: The story opens with Clopin entertaining some children with the story of Quasimodo's backstory, and at the end of the film he is seen carrying a little girl as he reprises the opening song with the crowd carrying Quasimodo.
- The Fundamentalist: Frollo goes about killing a racial minority for no reason than his own bigotry.
- Funny Background Event: After Esmeralda pulls Quasimodo into line for the crowning of the king of fools and moves away; Clopin can be seen mimicking Quasimodo behind his back.
- The Gadfly: Clopin during the Feast of Fools. The second he spots Quasi, you can see plainly on his face that mentally he's saying "This is going to be fun."
- Game Face: The gargoyle that drops Frollo to his death snarls in his face, glaring at him all the way down with Glowing Eyes of Doom. Keep in mind that gargoyles in this film may or may not really be angels in statue form.
- Genius Loci: The cathedral of Notre Dame itself seems sentient, and the characters sometimes treat it as a person.
- When Frollo tries to drown the baby Quasimodo, the Archdeacon points toward the facade of the Notre Dame, showing that all the statues of the saints, demons and angels, the Holy Mother and even little Jesus are menacingly staring at Frollo. This shakes him enough to backtrack on his murder and merely raise Quasimodo in an abusive environment.
- Quasimodo's gargoyle friends, confirmed to be actually sentient, try to be a positive influence on Quasimodo. They revert back to stone statues whenever someone else is present, making their nature quite ambiguous in the first film.
- In the climax of the film, Frollo tries to hang onto a gargoyle only for the gargoyle to come to life and roar toward the judge, breaking and sending him into a fiery pit of molten lead.
- Get Out: When Phoebus comes into Quasimodo's tower looking for Esmeralda:Phoebus: Hi there. I'm looking for the gypsy girl. Have you seen her? [Quasimodo approaches Phoebus glaringly] Whoa - whoa, whoa, easy!
Brutish Guard: Minister Frollo, the gypsy has escaped.
- When the brutish guard reports Esmeralda's escape:
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
- They gave Frollo a Villain Song called "Hellfire" that announces the villain's intention to force a girl to submit to sex or burn at the stake.
- But also intentionally averted during the same song. A visual effects supervisor went through the animation of the song frame-by-frame to ensure Esmeralda was fully clothed at all times to ensure the G rating.
- The mention of 'strumpets' in "Topsy Turvy", which they probably only got away with because it's such an archaic word. Frollo calling the common crowd "licentious" (a somewhat archaic term for "sexually promiscuous") was probably allowed for the same reason.
- They let the word "damnation" be used in the movie. There are many other words that start with "D" in the church; how did the movie still get G-rated with that? Simple: to show that Frollo had been heaping abuse on Quasimodo from the get-go, both through neglect and presumably the content of the lessons Quasimodo had been taught.Frollo: "D"?
Quasimodo: Eternal damnation!
- Phoebus' and Frollo's exchange during Esmeralda's "dance".Frollo: Look at that disgusting display.
Phoebus: [ear to ear grin] Yes sir.
- The brief scene of a troupe of women doing the Can-can with their knickers are in full view. Clopin is at the end of the line of can-can dancers, also in a skirt.
- When Phoebus gets hit by Esmeralda's goat Djali, he makes a punny retort: "I didn't know you had a kid."
- There are plenty of sexual puns and double entendres that fly over kids' heads. See especially Esmeralda and Phoebus's battle dialogue and the gargoyles' "A Guy Like You."
- They gave Frollo a Villain Song called "Hellfire" that announces the villain's intention to force a girl to submit to sex or burn at the stake.
- God Is Good: Everyone from Frollo to the Archdeacon believes that God will always punish the wicked and aid the righteous. However, the Archdeacon also seems to believe in God's mercy, and scolds Frollo for not showing it. Given it's implied that God Himself struck Frollo down, saving Quasimodo and Esmeralda from him in the process, all signs point towards them being correct.
- Good Bad Girl: Esmerelda is a seductress but she uses her sensuality to entertain, rather than to seduce. Frollo imagines her as a Femme Fatale but she is a much more kind-hearted person than that.
- Good Shepherd: The Archdeacon is well named; he's the most benevolent character in the story. A lesser man would give a minister with armed soldiers what he wanted but he denies Frollo with a simple rebuke and assures Esmeralda of her safety. He'll put the fear of God into anyone who violates the sanctity of the Cathedral.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Averted. It's the second Disney film that refers to "hell"/"Hell" and the first that outright mentions "Damnation" . . . Twice in the same scene.
- Green Eyes: Esmeralda. Her name even means emerald.
- Groin Attack: Quite a few, once notably with a bottle cork. Also, pity those poor guards who ran afoul of the guy in stilts. Ouch.
- The Grotesque:
- Quasimodo won a prize for being the ugliest person in Paris.
- Victor, Hugo, and Laverne, while repeatedly referred to as Gargoyles, are all actually technically Grotesques (a Gargoyle generally has a spout to convey water, while these three are apparently just decorational when in stone form. Grotesques are the correct name for the fantastical stone figures that often adorn buildings). This is entirely separate from the trope, however.
- Hair Decorations: Esmeralda wears a pink ribbon in her hair.
- Hand Gagging: Victor does this to prevent Hugo from spitting on a mime.
- Handicapped Badass: For a guy with a spine like a boomerang, Quasimodo is surprisingly nimble and strong. Not only can he lift a grown woman over his head, he broke solid iron chains with his bare hands. All this from years of ringing big, heavy bells and leaping around the cathedral (see Le Parkour below).
- Hanging Judge: The only way Frollo will not pronounce you "guilty" is if you agree to sleep with him.
- Happy Harlequin Hat: The points of the King of Fools crown droop and have bells on the end like the flaps of a jester's cap.
- Heroes' Frontier Step: Quasimodo didn't make a step when he saved Esmeralda. No. His HFS is when he holds Frollo by the cape and doesn't let him go. He wouldn't let the man who mistreated him for years, killed many gypsies, including his mother, fall to his death. This short moment definitely solves the riddle: "who is the monster and who is the man".
- He Who Fights Monsters: Clopin was perfectly willing to execute Phoebus and Quasimodo because he thought they were spies of Frollo. That kind of "justice" is similar to the kind of thing Frollo does, though he might have let them get a word or two in before gagging them.
- Holier Than Thou: Frollo again, during his song "Hellfire".Beata Maria, you know I am a righteous man; of my virtue I am justly proud,
Beata Maria, you know I'm so much purer than the common, vulgar, weak, licentious crowd.
- Homeschooled Kid: Poor Quasimodo—Frollo royally sucks as a teacher, seeing that Quasimodo is still learning the alphabet at age 20. Then again, this is set at a time when most people were completely illiterate, so he's still ahead of the curve. It's possible that he's purposefully not teaching Quasimodo everything so he could keep him as uneducated as possible. He doesn't want Quasi to get any ideas... (after all, "damnation" is listed twice).
- Horsing Around: Phoebus' horse Achilles when he was told to "sit". His face seemed well smug. Self-satisfied maybe?
- Hot Gypsy Woman: Esmeralda status as such informs the plot; Frollo wants to both kill her and possess her.
- Humiliation Conga: Ironically after Frollo's guards incite a riot and torture Quasimodo they suffer one themselves by falling down getting hit in the family jewels and beaten into unconsciousness. It happens again in the later battle.
- Hypocrite: Frollo as laid out in his villain song; he repeatedly says it's not his fault while the red robes point out that it is. As well as the first time he appears in the movie:Judge Claude Frollo longed
To purge the world
Of vice and sin
And he saw corruption everywhere
- If I Can't Have You...:Hellfire, dark fire. Now Gypsy, it's your turn!
Choose me or your pyre,
Be mine, or you will burn!
God have mercy on her...
God have mercy on me...
But she will be mine, or she... will... burn!
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Frollo tells his soldiers to not hit his horse when stopping Phoebus. To their credit they DON'T hit the horse!
- Incredibly Long Note:
- "The Bells of Notre Dame" (and its reprise), "Out There", and "Hellfire".
- Clopin holds the A of Esmeralda's name for an incredibly long time in "Topsy Turvy" too.
- This echoes the motif in "The Bells of Notre Dame", when both the Archdeacon and Clopin sing "Notre Dame".
- From the stage show, the last line of "Made of Stone". "As if IIIIIIIIIIIII - were made of STOOOOOOOOOOOONE -"
- In-Name-Only: This film uses very little of the novel's plot, even if you ignore the considerable bowdlerisation of the more mature themes from the book. Also, the characters' personalities have all been drastically reworked. While there are scenes that echo events from the book, even these appear in mixed-up order, or are performed by different characters, changing their context. Disney's Hunchback is probably better considered as an update of the 1939 film, with which it has many similarities.
- In the Hood: Esmeralda uses a cloak to disguise herself and evade the guards.
- Infernal Background: The song "Hellfire," where Frollo sings about his Villainous Crush on Esmeralda, is sung in front of a fireplace. Later, it's backed by...you guessed it, hellfire.
- Ironic Name:
- According to the DVD commentary, Frollo apparently named his big scary black horse "Snowball".
- Inverted with Quasimodo and Phoebus, whose names have been de-ironized. In the book, Quasimodo is called such because Frollo finds him on Quasimodo Sunday, with its meaning of "half-formed" an ironic coincidence; in this film, Frollo gives Quasimodo the name because he's a Jerkass. Also, Phoebus' name, meaning "sun god", is meant to contrast with his cowardice and dickishness in the novel; in this film, though, Phoebus is legitimately heroic.
- I Should Have Done This Years Ago: During the climax, Frollo admits that Quasimodo's mother risked her life trying to save him, rather than abandoning him like Frollo had claimed. While Quasi is still reeling, Frollo says that he's going to do what he should have done "TWENTY YEARS AGO!" and tries to kill him.
- It's All About Me: Frollo only spares Quasimodo because he believes he may be useful to him later. He also seems to have no problem committing mass murder and destroying Paris to get rid of a single woman who isn't even to blame for his own problems.
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet:[While searching for the Court of Miracles]
Phoebus: Speaking of trouble, we should have run into some by now.
Quasimodo: What do you mean?
Phoebus: You know, a guard, a booby trap...
[His torch goes out, leaving them in complete darkness]
Phoebus: ... Or an ambush.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Quasimodo does what he can to make Esmeralda happy, including blessing her relationship with Phoebus at the end.
- "I Want" Song:
- Played straight with "Out There", in which Quasimodo sings about wanting a day of freedom.
- Inverted with "God Help the Outcasts" as Esmeralda specifically does not want anything for herself, but asks God to help others who are worse off than she is.
- Played for drama with "Hellfire", a mix between an Obsession Song, a Sanity Slippage Song, a Villain Song, and a Villain Love Song that ultimately conveys that wanting something can turn you into even more of a depraved person that you already are.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Phoebus calls the Gypsies "criminals and dangerous". He's not entirely wrong; the Court of Miracles is a hang out for "scoundrels".
- Also, Frollo warns Quasimodo that people will be cruel to him if he goes out of Notre Dame, and boy, is he right, though he did nothing but rub in the fact to make it feel worse for him.
- Frollo points out God made the devil far stronger than man.
- Joker Jury: Quasimodo's and Phoebus' trial in the Court of Miracles. It is a mockery of Frollo's corruption of justice where the Gypsies are concerned, but ends up coming dangerously close to what it is mocking. This is reinforced when, while pronouncing sentence on Phoebus and Quasimodo ("I am the lawyers and judge all in one!"), one of Clopin's split-second costume changes is into a reasonable facsimile of Frollo's, though since he believes them to be Frollo's spies, he probably did it deliberately for the irony.
- Judicial Wig: Clopin wears one briefly in the "Court of Miracles" number.
- Just Following Orders: Frollo reminds Phoebus that he was trained to follow orders after the latter refused to burn down a windmill with an innocent family locked inside. This just causes him to extinguish his torch in a water-butt and do a Heel–Face Turn (not that he was much of an antagonist anyway).
- Karmic Death: It's heavily implied that God himself is smiting Frollo. The molten lead Frollo falls into also suspiciously resembles Hell, and the gargoyle that comes alive to drag him down reminds us of someone. The fact that Frollo had said, "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit" right before all this reinforces the idea.
- Kick the Dog: Frollo does this a lot in the movie. Especially shoving the Archdeacon down a flight of stairs. It's far from being the worst thing he does, but it's still considered one of those things that you're not supposed to do, and gets bonus points for showing his contempt for religious authorities who get in the way in a way that contrasts with his role as The Fundamentalist at the same time.
- Kid-Appeal Character: The gargoyles, who provide the lions share of levity and comic relief in an otherwise dark movie.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Phoebus. Not only does he look the part with his armor and horse but he acts the part in protecting Esmeralda and saving the family trapped in a burning house.
- Knight Templar: Judge Claude Frollo in a nutshell. He is very much convinced that he is a righteous man of God, but there is nothing righteous or godly about what he does throughout the movie. Clopin tells us all we need to know about him during his introduction:Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin,
And he saw corruption everywhere... except within.
- Kubrick Stare:
- When Quasimodo finally decides that he's taken enough crap from Frollo, and that violin starts softly playing in the background...
- Esmeralda gives one to Frollo just after spitting in his face while tied to the stake. Later in that same scene, Frollo manages a chilling stare himself. From Esmeralda's point-of-view, she sees Frollo through the distorted air above the flames grinning maniacally through the smoke.
- Lack of Empathy: Frollo believes that gypsies are incapable of real love and tells Quasimodo that Esmeralda was simply using him the entire time so that she could escape from the judge.
- Lady in Red: Esmeralda wears an alluring red dress during her performance at the Feast of Fools.
- Large Ham: Clopin. "Court of Miracles" has him dancing and costume changing and arguing with his puppet while singing.
- Last-Second Word Swap: During Frollo's catechism of Quasimodo:Frollo: Shall we review your alphabet today?
Quasimodo: Oh, yes, Master. I would like that very much.
Frollo: Very well: A.
Quasimodo [nervously]: C-C-Contrition.
Quasimodo: Eternal damnation.
Frollo [gives Quasimodo an angry stare] Excuse me?
- In 90% of the music accompanying Frollo, whether song or score, the choir chants "kyrie eleison", which means "Lord, have mercy" in Greek.
- The opening fanfare is also reintroduced at the end of "Heaven's Light", makes up the melody during the chorus of "Hellfire", and plays in the instrumental "Sanctuary!" Also, along with "kyrie eleison", "dies irae" is also thrown in at times. "Dies irae" translates into "Day of Wrath".
- It's very subtle, but in the scene where Quasimodo is chained up in Notre Dame, and the gargoyles are trying to convince him to save Esmeralda, there is a brief reiteration of the melody from the verses of "Out There", (e.g.: the line "Every day they shout and scold, and go about their lives, heedless of the gift it is to be them"). The same reiteration first appeared in Frollo's line from "Bells of Notre Dame" when he sings, "Just so he is locked away where no one else can see. Even this foul creature may yet prove one day to be of use to me." Then it briefly comes back in "Topsy Turvy", when the crowd discovers that Quasimodo's face is no mask. Finally, you can last hear it when Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Phoebus step out of the cathedral in front of a crowd at the end of the movie. It can be safely assumed that this melody from "Out There" is Quasimodo's leitmotif.
- There are in fact two variants of this melody. Quasimodo sings in a major key, while the minor-key variant is found in every instrumental instance stated above, except for "Into the Sunlight". The most notable instance, however, is in the transition between "In Here" and "Out There". This sets a divide between the two variants, marked further by the minor key being used during moments best matching Frollo's words, and the major key Quasimodo's.
- Phoebus has his own motif as well, a five note, military sounding fanfare on the brass. However, it lets us know from the get-go that Phoebus is a decent man, as unlike Frollo's theme, which is dark and moody, Phoebus' theme is in a major key, and has an uplifting tone to it. His theme would eventually provide the melody for his solo, "Rest and Recreation", in the stage musical.
- Lean and Mean: Frollo's thin stature is more severe than anyone else. His foil is more stout.
- Lighter and Softer: It's definitely lighter in tone than the book. Many of the elements and themes presented in the novel—like Quasimodo's hate and contempt for most people or Phoebus being a jerk trying to take advantage of an innocent young girl—were either changed or taken out completely. This is even more the case with the sequel in comparison to the original movie.
- Lightning Bruiser: For such a stocky, barrel-chested guy Quasi is remarkably agile and fast.
- Listing The Forms Of Degenerates: Frollo's description of the feast of fools..."Thieves, cutpurses, the dregs of humankind, all meshed together in a shallow drunken stupor..."
- Loophole Abuse: Frollo tries to pull this when Esmeralda indirectly claims sanctuary via Phoebus; since they can't arrest her inside the cathedral, he orders Phoebus to drag her outside. Fortunately, the Archdeacon comes along and tells Frollo off.
- Lost in Imitation: The film is based quite strongly on the 1939 film version (which was itself based on the 1923 version with Lon Chaney), which is also one of the furthest from the book. Ranging from Frollo being a judge rather than the archdeacon, Phoebus being a genuinely heroic character rather than the jerkass he was in the novel, and the overall story and plot structure changed completely. It is still generally considered an enjoyable movie.
- The visual designs of Quasimodo, Frollo, Phoebus, the Archdeacon, and Frollo's guards strongly resemble their 1939 counterparts, as do their personalities. With that said, Esmeralda and Clopin have been completely reworked in both looks and temperament.
- The film also borrows some imagery from the 1939 film. The climax, in which Quasimodo rescues Esmeralda and then defends the cathedral from Frollo's guards, plays out very similarly to how it did in 1939; even specific shots are recreated, such as Quasimodo holding up Esmeralda and shouting "Sanctuary!"
- Love at First Sight: Poor Esmeralda must have had some Love Potion No. 9 before the Feast of Fools because everyone wants her immediately. Inverted with Esmeralda personally; though she falls in love with Phoebus at first sight in the book, in this adaptation she's both distrusting but fascinated by Phoebus and doesn't necessarily fall for him until she witnesses him saving an innocent family from a burning house after refusing Frollo's order to burn it himself.
- Love Hurts: When Quasimodo witnesses Esmeralda's and Phoebus' kiss and realizes that they are in love with each other.
- Lovely Assistant: Esmeralda is this to Clopin; after he gives the introduction he calls her out and she dances for the crowd.
- Love Makes You Evil: Frollo's unhealthy obsession with Esmeralda drives the plot. Although in this adaptation, all it did was send him completely over the edge; the man was pretty evil to begin with, so an insane and illegal relationship is enough to make him an abomination.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming: Frollo, if his reaction to overhearing a prisoner's torture is anything to go by.
- Love Triangle: Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda, who in turn falls for Phoebus. Frollo's lust for Esmeralda forces it into a tetrahedron.
- Loving a Shadow: "Heaven's Light" and "Hellfire" show Quasimodo and Frollo fall in love with Esmeralda, but having warped opinions of her (see Madonna–Whore Complex below). To further the point, Quasimodo builds a figure of her while Frollo lusts after an illusion of her in the fireplace's flames, both resembling Esmeralda but not quite perfectly her.
- Madonna–Whore Complex: Deconstructed. While Quasimodo sees Esmeralda as an angel sent by God Himself because she was so kind to him (and he wasn't familiar with kindness), Frollo sees her as a devil seductress and whore sent by Satan. And it is Phoebus (who sees the middle ground, recognizing both Esmeralda's merits and quirks) who strikes the right note with her in the end.
- Mama Bear: Quasimodo's mother ran in a snow-filled Paris in order to protect her son from being killed by Frollo.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The film remains ambiguous as to whether Quasimodo's gargoyle friends are really magical stone creatures that only Quasimodo can hear or just his imaginary friends. On one hand, no one else interacts with them (except for that quick kiss gag) but on the other hand, who pushed the catapult off if not them?Frollo: Can stone... talk?
Quasimodo: No, it can't.
- The sequel confirms the Gargoyles are real magical creatures and not Quasi's imagination; At the end, the Gargoyles are sad to lose Quasimodo and hope that Madellaine will take care of him. Then Madellaine winks at the Gargoyles and tells them she'll take good care of Quasi causing the shocked Gargoyles do to a literal Jaw Drop.
- That said the gargoyle Frollo saw before he died is never stated whether or not to be real or a hallucination brought on by his increasing madness.
- Meaningful Echo:
- "Nobody wants to stay cooped up here forever." First said by Quasimodo to a little baby bird that he is encouraging to fly, later said by Laverne to Quasi when she, Victor, and Hugo encourage him to go to the Feast of Fools.
- From the stage show: "The wicked shall not go unpunished." First said by Claude to Jehan Frollo, and last said by Quasimodo (and the choir echoing) as Frollo falls to his death.
- Meaningful Name:
- Quasimodo means "half formed", Esmeralda means "emerald", and Phoebus means "sun god" (aka Apollo, who was the patron god of many things, including truth and healing).
- Claude Frollo's name comes from Claudius, which means "lame, crippled." His brother Jehan's name is a form of John, which means "God is gracious."
- Melancholy Musical Number: Esmeralda has sought sanctuary in the cathedral of Notre Dame from Judge Frollo and his minions. While they dare not violate the sanctity of the Church, she is effectively a prisoner there. Since her plight mirrors the prejudice and oppression of the gypsy people in Paris, she sings God Help The Outcasts as a prayer for divine relief of the gypsies living in the margins of French society.
- Midword Rhyme:
- In "The Bells of Notre Dame":Dark was the night when our tale was begun
On the docks near Notre Dame.
Four frightened gypsies slid silently un-
-der the docks near Notre Dame.
- And "Out There" has no fewer than three:And these are crimes for which the world has little pity
You do not comprehend.
You are my one defend-
-er.Out there they'll revile you as a monster.
Out there they will hate and scorn and jeer.
Why invite their calumny and conster-
-nation? Stay in here.
Out there, sitting in the sun,
Give me one day
Out there; all I ask is one,
To hold forever
Out there, where they all live un-
What I'd give, what I'd dare
Just to live one day out there.
- And in the reprise of "The Bells of Notre Dame":Whatever their pitch, you
Can feel them bewitch you,
The rich and the ritu-
Of the bells of Notre Dame.
- In "The Bells of Notre Dame":
- Mildly Military: Frollo's authority is vaguely defined and appears to have no limits, as it seems as far as the movie's concerned he is the Knight Templar dictator of Paris. He commands a sizable garrison in the city, and can slaughter suspects and burn property at will. The movie makes mention of the King and that there is a war that Phoebus was called back from. It's possible that the King is off leading the war effort and Frollo is in charge in his absence.
- A Minor Kidroduction: An interesting example — the film does start with a baby Quasimodo being snuck into Paris with his parents, but his face isn't seen at the time.
- Mondegreen: An in-universe one. Laverne mishears "Frollo's wrong about both of us" as "Frollo's nose is long and he wears a truss."
- Mood Whiplash:
- The gargoyles' goofy jokes often seem out of place, especially when Frollo's running around trying to slaughter the Gypsies:Hugo: Paris, the City of Lovers, is glowing this evening.
True, that's because it's on fire, but still, there's l'amour.
- Used intentionally in the "Heaven's Light/Hellfire" sequence: High among the clouds, Quasimodo sings a heartbreakingly beautiful song of love and hope, having finally found some acceptance and affection from Esmeralda, which segues immediately into Frollo all but masturbating over Esmeralda's scarf and fantasizing about burning her at the stake.
- Done in the Feast of Fools sequence. It starts out with a light-hearted, fun musical number, with a dance interlude from Esmeralda but once the song's over and Quasimodo has been crowned the King of Fools, some Jerkass in the crowd tosses a rotten vegetable at him to see if he can make Quasimodo any uglier. Clopin and the other cheerful characters abruptly disappear, replaced by a cruel mob that ties Quasimodo to a pillory and continues to verbally and physically abuse him until Esmeralda puts a stop to it and rescues him.
- In the beginning of the movie, the gargoyles successfully persuade Quasimodo to sneak out of the bell tower and enjoy himself at the Feast of Fools. Happy and confident, he talks about how he's going to get cleaned up, head right down those stairs, march right out that door — and then he runs smack dab into Frollo. In an instant, he's cowering and his stutter is very prominent.
- The gargoyles' goofy jokes often seem out of place, especially when Frollo's running around trying to slaughter the Gypsies:
- Morality Chain: There is only one thing keeping Frollo in check for a good 50% of the movie: the Archdeacon. He constantly reminds Frollo of his mortality, and also that even though he can deny his atrocities, he can never hide his crimes against the Almighty. He's constantly reminding Frollo of his place, but Frollo doesn't like it one bit. By the end of the film, not even the Archdeacon can hold him back.
- Ms. Fanservice: Esmeralda, so much that all three of the other main characters want her. Sick of drawing petite princesses like Ariel and Belle, Disney decided what they really needed was a heroine who looked like a Victoria's Secret model who pole dances.
- Mundane Solution: When Quasimodo and Phoebus search for the entrance to the Court of Miracles. They come across a gravestone marker serving as the secret entrance. Phoebus notices some writing on it and deduces they have to translate it in order to open the path. Quasimodo simply shoves aside the stone lid covering the hidden staircase.
- Mythology Gag: With the novel in that two of the gargoyles are named Victor and Hugo, and with the rest of the Disney Animated Canon in that Aladdin's flying carpet, Belle, and Pumbaa (Death by Cameo on a spit) can be glimpsed in the "Out There" sequence.
- Narrator: Clopin is an All-Knowing Singing Narrator because unlike most narrators, Clopin is a significant part of the story, though he enjoys himself far too much considering what is going on.
- Never My Fault: One of Frollo's defining personality traits. Anything bad that he does, he blames it on someone else. This includes killing Quasimodo's mother (she ran from his soldiers to protect her son, so he had to run her down with his horse) and his lust for Esmeralda (blaming Esmeralda herself for the way he feels, even blaming God for allowing the Devil to tempt him). See Blatant Lies. When he figures out Quasimodo helped her escape, he tells Quasimodo that all of Paris is burning because of him, despite the fact that Frollo is the one burning it!
- Never Say "Die": Averted in the Swedish dub of "Hellfire".(English) Frollo: But she will be mine or she will BUUUURN!
(Swedish) Frollo: If she won't be mine then she'll DIIIIE!
- Nice Hat:
- Frollo wears one. The commentary bemoans its existence because it was so difficult to draw. Towards the end of the movie the animators had it randomly fall off Frollo's head just so they wouldn't have to draw it anymore.
- Clopin gets a pretty darned nice hat himself. Big blue pirate number, and a feather that has got to be sentient.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Frollo's Batman Gambit might have failed had Quasi not had his epiphany and led Frollo directly to the Court of Miracles.
- Nightmare Face: Frollo's face at the climax on the bell's tower looks like a demonic version of and The Joker with fiery red eyes.
- Nobody Here but Us Statues: When Quasimodo helps Esmeralda and Djali escape, they briefly pose as statues when a distracted guard comes into the path.
- Non-Human Sidekick: Believe it or not, Djali, Esmeralda's adorable and intelligent goat, is not a Disney creation.
- Noodle Incident: It's never explained what Frollo's previous captain of the guard did to disappoint him.
- Not Allowed to Grow Old: Averted. Both Frollo and the Archdeacon have visibly aged between Quasimodo's adoption and the events of the main movie.
- Not a Mask: Happens to Quasimodo during the festival. That horrendous visage is HIS FACE!
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Frollo claims that he wants to purge the world of vice and sin. However, his real motive seems to be genocide against all those that he considers as living outside the natural order of things (aka his order) and are therefore sinful and having sex with Esmeralda.
- Oblivious to Love: Esmeralda has no idea of Quasimodo's crush.
- Obsession Song: "Hellfire" again. "She will be mine or she will BUUURNN!"
- Oh, Crap!:
- In Frollo's introduction, Quasimodo's father reacts in fear upon seeing him.
- Frollo when he realizes his soul is in danger after the Archdeacon scolds him for killing Quasimodo's mother.
- Quasi when he suddenly runs into Frollo and then accidentally gives away his intention to attend the Festival of Fools.
- One of the Gypsies very clearly has this expression when Frollo first arrives in the Court of Miracles.
- Frollo also has it after Quasimodo throws down a wooden block that smashes his carriage.
- Frollo when he comes face to face with the demon that drags him into the molten lead for his death.
- And probably realizing God has passed judgment on him.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Given the setting, this happens often. A good deal of it is during Frollo's Villain Song where it quotes Latin Catholic prayers.
- Opposite Day: The Feast of Fools. "Once a year we turn everything upside down; every man's a king and every king's a clown!"
- Our Gargoyles Rock: The Plucky Comic Relief trio, and the bat-head-from-hell that turns on Frollo in the climax.
- Parent Service: The best example is probably Esmeralda's pole dance.
- Parental Abandonment: Frollo claims that Quasimodo's mother abandoned Quasimodo when he was an infant when in reality Frollo murdered her. His dad is presumably dead as well, since he was captured by Frollo's thugs the same night Quasimodo's mom was murdered.
- Le Parkour: How Quasimodo gets around the Cathedral exterior. Apparently he gets it from his mother, who was able to vault over fences, one-handed and carrying a baby.Esmeralda: You're quite the acrobat.
- Personal Horror: Quasimodo has this when he inadvertently leads Frollo to The Court of Miracles when he goes there to warn everyone that Frollo is coming.
- Perverted Sniffing: Frollo sniffs Esmeralda's hair at one point. Both the audience and Esmeralda herself know that he was not imagining a rope around her neck, as he claims he did.
- Pet the Dog: Averted. Frollo sparing Quasimodo's life in the prologue and raising him might have been an act of kindness for an otherwise wicked person and even become a redeeming factor if his reasoning wasn't screwed up in the first place and he did right by it. Frollo twists it around for the following reasons. First off, he only does it after the Archdeacon tells him to. Second, he does it simply because he fears God may punish him for his sins, despite denying he sinned at all. Third, he refuses to allow Quasi into his household, and exiles him to the belltower for the rest of his life. Fourth, he simply sees Quasi as a pawn he may use later on, and never truly accepts him as his son. Fifth, he lies about the death of Quasi's mother instead of revealing the truth when Quasi's ready that he raised him to atone for her death. Sixth, he's emotionally abusive towards Quasi, drilling it into his head that he's just a monster whom no one but him could "love".
- Please Wake Up: Quasimodo's reaction to Esmeralda's death in the stage show.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Frollo compares Gypsies to ants earlier in the movie, and alludes to his genocidal intentions by squishing an ant nest.
- Power Trio: Hugo is led by whims, Victor is very moral, and Laverne is in the middle—Id, Ego, Superego.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Admittedly, it isn't an accurate adaptation of the book, but on its own merits, it is a very enjoyable film.
- Prayer of Malice: Frollo's song "Hellfire" includes a prayer to the Virgin Mary for Esmeralda to burn in hell or else become his.
- Produce Pelting: After Quasimodo is crowned the "King of Fools", he is strapped to a pillory and spun around while the crowd throws vegetables at him, such as tomatoes.
- Public Execution: The climax of the film involves Quasimodo trying to rescue Esmeralda from being burned at the stake in public by Frollo.
- Punished for Sympathy: Frollo orders Phoebus to burn down a mill with the miller and his family still inside. Not only does Phoebus refuse, but when Frollo sets the fire himself, he goes in to rescue the family. Frollo would have had him executed for treason right then and there, had Esmeralda not come to the rescue.
- Race Lift: In the original novel Esmerelda was actually a white girl who was stolen by the Romani, and she was usually portrayed as white in adaptations. Here she is definitely Romani.
- Quasimodo also; in the novel, his parentage is unknown, but in this version, his mother is a gypsy.
- Reality Ensues: The gargoyles get Quasimodo thoroughly convinced that Esmeralda returns his feelings just in time for him to learn that no, she doesn't.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After trying to literally backstab Quasimodo, Frollo finds himself at his mercy, and Quasimodo renounces everything Frollo ever told him about what a cruel place the world is, saying that it's men like Frollo who have made it so.
- Rescue Romance: Played with. Quasimodo falls in love with Esmeralda after she rescues him; Frollo ironically develops his lust for her due to this same incident. Esmeralda, on the other hand, is oblivious to the former and is disgusted by the latter. After they rescue each other several times, Esmeralda and Phoebus end up falling for each other, but only when they rescue other people (Phoebus falls for Esmeralda when she rescues Quasimodo, and Esmeralda falls for Phoebus when he rescues the miller's family).
- Rivals Team Up: Quasimodo and Phoebus team up to warn Esmeralda of Frollo's ambush on the Gypsy hideout at dawn. Frollo followed Quasimodo and Phoebus, leading him straight to the hideout.
- Rule of Symbolism:
DVD commentary: Here's some more of our ham-fisted symbolism—Frollo falls down in the shape of a crucifix!
- 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.
- in "Hellfire", the camera pans from a huge opulent cross to the fireplace below, indicating that under all his apparent virtue, Frollo has a much darker side, notably his lust for Esmeralda.
- At the end of "Hellfire" in the DVD Commentary:
- Frollo offers pieces of silver to the gypsies he captures for information about Esmeralda. While it doesn't go to thirty, the allusion is still there to Judas selling Jesus out to the Romans.
- 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. Also, aside from the obvious symbolism he's invoking by burning Esmeralda's figure, there is how he smashes all the other figures and the cathedral model in his rage; not only does this foreshadow his Villainous Breakdown later on, it specifically shows how he's willing to do anything, whether killing the citizens or attacking the cathedral itself, to get what he wants.
- 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.
- Roma: Clopin, Esmeralda, Quasimodo, and Quasimodo's mother.
- Rousing Speech: Phoebus in the climax. "Our people" in this context likely refers to the French that Frollo terrorized, made homeless, and (probably) murdered innocent people in his obsessive search for Esmeralda. At the very least, a pretty large section of Paris was burning because of Frollo's actions.Phoebus: Citizens of Paris! Frollo has persecuted our people! Ransacked our city! And now, he has declared war on Notre Dame herself! WILL WE ALLOW IT?!!?
Crowd (charging): NOOOOOO!!!!
- Sadistic Choice: Frollo gives Esmeralda one last chance to decide her fate before her execution: "Choose me or the fire." She spits in his face.
- Saintly Church: The cathedral itself, since there are hints that it has a life of its own and is silently watching everything. The fact that a gargoyle on it comes to life to make Frollo fall to his death would back this up. That also applies to the 3 gargoyles. They were sent/brought to life to watch over Quasimodo, thus setting up all the events that have occurred through the film. Finally, Genius Loci (in the form of a patron saint) is Church doctrine.
- Samaritan Relationship Starter: Esmeralda and Phoebus are initially attracted to but wary of each other, but they only fall for each other after each witnesses the other committing a noble and selfless act (e.g. Esmeralda defending Quasimodo from Frollo; Phoebus refusing to burn an innocent family in their house and rescuing them).
- Sanity Slippage Song: "Hellfire" is like a visual metaphor of Frollo's religious hypocrisy collapsing in on itself, leading to the conclusion he either marries a Gypsy or slays all of them.
- Save the Villain: Quasi has an easy chance to let Frollo fall to his death during the climax, but chooses not to. Frollo promptly tries to kill him anyway...and pays the price.
- Scenery Porn: The Cathedral of Notre Dame is drawn with perfect accuracy. When you visit her IRL and slowly come to the realization that the artist painted every single statue correctly as possible, it gets even better. Particularly since they included the medieval statues which were once part of the facade of the cathedral and are now stored in a small museum on the other bank of the Seine.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Phoebus objects to Frollo's order to burn down a windmill with a family trapped inside.Phoebus: With all due respect, sir, I wasn't trained to murder the innocent.
Frollo: But you were trained to FOLLOW ORDERS!
Phoebus: Citizens of Paris! Frollo's has persecuted our people! Ransacked our city! Now, he's declared war on Notre Dame herself! Will we allow it!?
- Phoebus defies the order, in which Frollo commits the deed himself. When Phoebus breaks in and rescues the innocent family, he gets arrested by Frollo's guards and is ordered an immediate execution.
- In the final battle, Phoebus invokes this in the citizens if Frollo's word is seen as law.
(The people of Paris arm themselves, free the captured gypsies, and they all attack the guards)
- Seeking Sanctuary:
- Quasimodo's mother tries to do this in the opening scene, but the door was locked, and the Archdeacon too late.
- Esmeralda does this when Frollo tries to capture her inside Notre Dame. He orders the guards to physically drag her outside, but is again confronted by the Archdeacon. He decides to bide his time, knowing she'll have to leave eventually.
- Finally, Quasimodo claims sanctuary for Esmeralda before all of Paris during the climax, to unanimous cheers.
- Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Frollo is a pure case of this (exaggerated from the book version, who too had more than a hint of this), believing Esmeralda to be an evil witch who has enchanted him — since that's the only reason he could be in lust with her — and trying to have her burnt at the stake for it. This is in contrast to Phoebus, who is equally aroused by Esmeralda but much less ashamed about it.
- Shoo Out the Clowns:
- When the crowd turns on Quasimodo at the end of "Topsy Turvy", Clopin immediately disappears despite having been present through the whole number, as well as crowning Quasimodo and putting him up on the stage. This is subverted later when Clopin turns out an intimidating leader of the gypsies, and also becomes part of the captives set to be burnt at the stake.
- Double-subverted with the gargoyles, who jump right into the battle for Notre Dame, but disappear during the final confrontation with Frollo.
- Laverne near the end tells the pigeons that are always bugging her to "fly my pretties, fly, fly!" (which is a "Beam Me Up Scotty") complete with the original backing music from The Wizard of Oz. Also a shout out to one of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, The Birds.
- Quasi and the gargoyles' relationship (and the fact that they can move (and shoot crunched-up rocks at rapid fire speed) even though they are probably imaginary (although Djali and quite a few soldiers would argue)) is similar to the relationship of Calvin and Hobbes.
- Beauty and the Beast, considering her brief cameo in the beginning, when Paris is panned and Belle is seen strolling along reading yet another book. She does live in France, after all. Not to mention both films are directed by Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale.
- In the same scene, Pumbaa is shown being carried through the street on a stick and The Magic Carpet is draped over a man's arm. One of the costumes is a horse with two rear ends. In addition, Jafar's old man disguise appears for a slapstick gag in the climax.
- Two of the gargoyles are named "Victor" and "Hugo".
- The climax, with the dramatic Notre Dame battle between Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Frollo, may have been inspired by the end of Batman, which has Batman, Vicki Vale, and The Joker in a very similar situation atop a gargoyle-filled Gotham Cathedral. And like the Joker, Frollo is sent to his doom by a gargoyle statue and Screams Like a Little Girl too. Both even had an ironic choice of last words (Frollo: "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!"; Joker: "Sometimes I just kill myself!") In the rare moments when Frollo smiles, he strikingly resembles the Joker.
- There are numerous Shout Outs to both Singin' in the Rain and King Kong (1933) in Quasimodo's climbing and acrobatics throughout the film.
- Clopin's animator noticed how similar the music for "Court of Miracles" was to Dukas' L'apprenti sorcier (best known for its use in Fantasia), that at one point, he had Clopin dance and lift with his robe like Mickey. This melodic similarity is probably what led Alan Menken to change the melody for the song in the theatrical adaptation.
- One can hear the Goofy yell at one point during the film.
- Silent Snarkers: Djali and Achilles, being a goat and a horse respectively, do not talk but their snark is clear regardless.
- Sitting Sexy on a Piano: Laverne conjures up both an evening dress and a piano during the gargoyle's Disney Acid Sequence.
- Slasher Smile: Frollo briefly sports one as the fire is set to burn Esmeralda at the stake. He also sports one at the climax when he's about to kill Quasimodo and Esmeralda during his "And He shall smite the wicked, and plunge them into the fiery pit!" line.
- Smack on the Back: Phoebus winces from Quasimodo slapping him on the back, which no doubt aggravated his shoulder injury.
- Smoke Out: Esmeralda disappears and reappears in a puff of smoke at will.
- The Smurfette Principle: Only Esmeralda, making the main cast at a 3:1 male-to-female ratio. Likewise in the gargoyles, it's 2:1 with Laverne as the only female.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Clopin.
- Spiteful Spit: When Frollo offers Esmeralda a choice between him or death by burning, she chooses the latter by spitting on his face.
- Stalker with a Crush: Frollo, and to a more innocent extent, Quasimodo.
- Steel Ear Drums: Unlike the original book, Quasimodo's hearing is perfectly functional.
- Stock Scream: One of the guards in the climatic battle lets out a Goofy Holler (YAAH HOO-HOO-HOOEY!) as he falls to his death.
- Straight Edge Evil: Frollo prides himself on his disdain for worldly pleasures, unlike the crowds that debauch in the Festival of Fools. Then he gets horny...
- Straw Hypocrite: Technically Frollo (in this version) is a judge, and is simply religious (or finds religion convenient for his racism and holier-than-thouness). It's implied several times in the film that his religiousness degrades along with his sanity. It is best demonstrated by the first line of his Villain Song "Beata Maria, you know I am a righteous man, of my virtue I am justly proud", since Pride is considered to be the worst of the seven deadly sins in Christianity and especially Catholicism, this line is essentially an oxymoron even if it wasn't Frollo saying it.
- The Storyteller: The introductory sequence is presented as Clopin singing the story of Quasimodo's adoption to a brace of children.
- Sudden Principled Stand: Phoebus against Frollo.Phoebus: With all due respect, sir, I was not trained to murder the innocent.
Frollo: But you were trained to follow orders.
[Phoebus angrily douses his torch in a barrel of water; Frollo snarls with rage]
Frollo: Insolent coward. (grabs another torch and sets the fire himself)
Frollo: The sentence for insubordination is death. Such a pity. You threw away a promising career.
- Then after Phoebus manages to save the miller's family, Frollo orders him executed right before Esmeralda intervenes.
Phoebus: Consider it my highest honor, sir.
- Suffer the Slings: Esmeralda uses a makeshift sling to rescue Phoebus.
- Surrogate Soliloquy: Esmeralda's song "God Help the Outcasts" is delivered to the image of Christ hanging on the cross inside the cathedral.
- Tempting Fate:
Phoebus: Speaking of trouble, we should have run into some by now.
- Frollo says, "And He shall smite the wicked, and plunge them into the fiery pit!" ... whilst standing above a fiery pit.
- Phoebus saying there should be an ambush waiting for them. He considers bad things that could happen, then mentions an ambush only when he realizes that they're about to be ambushed.
Quasimodo: What do you mean?
Phoebus: You know, a guard, a boobytrap... (the torch goes out) ... or an ambush...
- Tenor Boy: Contrast here. Quasimodo looks nothing like a typical tenor but his personality (innocent, kind, etc) is spot on and suits his tenor voice.
- Third-Person Person: Clopin, to judge by his opening narration, although this may have been included solely so the audience would know what his name was (since he isn't called by name at any other point in the movie).
- This is No Time to Panic: When Quasimodo helps Esmeralda and Djali escape the cathedral.Quasimodo: Don't be afraid.
Esmeralda: I'm not afraid.
[Quasimodo jumps and the trio is dangling over the ground a second later]
Esmeralda: Now I'm afraid.
- The Stinger: A twelve-second clip of Hugo telling the audience "Goodnight, everybody!" and engaging in some insane banter plays as the last roll of the credits pops up on the screen, before cutting to the Disney logo.
- Timmy in a Well: Djali saves Phoebus and Quasi from hanging by running to get Esmeralda.
- Title Drop:
Clopin: Ladies and gentlemen, don't panic! We asked for the ugliest face in all Paris, and here it is! Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame!
- In the middle of the Feast of Fools, Clopin crowns Quasimodo with one of these.
- Several non-English dubs share this title drop, such as Swedish ("Det är Ringaren i Notre Dame!") and Finnish ("Se on Notre Damen kellonsoittaja!"). The Japanese dub of the film, however, changed the movie's title to "The Bells of Notre Dame" because "hunchback" is too much of an insult to say. This introduces other Title Drops, however; particularly the opening and ending song.
- Together in Death: Done very subtly in the climax. After Quasimodo is left hanging off the Notre Dame balcony, Esmeralda tries to help him up to no avail. As Frollo towers over her ready to strike down with his sword, the look on Esmeralda's face shows that although she's terrified, she would rather die alongside Quasi than let him fall to his death to save her own skin.
- Totem Pole Trench: Esmeralda is known for doing this to hide from the soldiers. She does this by carrying Djali on her shoulders and wrapping a blanket around them so they could pass as an old man.
- Trick-and-Follow Ploy: How Frollo finds the Court of Miracles; he tells Quasi that he's already found it so Quasi (accompanied by Phoebus) goes to warn them, thus enabling Frollo to find it.
- Two Guys and a Girl: Quasimodo, Phoebus, and Esmeralda for a Love Triangle.
- Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Variation of the "Deformed Hero, Normal Villain" kind: Frollo is not handsome, but his looks don't have the stigma attached of Quasimodo's looks.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Esmeralda pulls a hankie from her cleavage to use it for a magic trick to escape from Frollo's guards.
- Villain Has a Point: Downplayed, but present. The gypsies all hang out in the Court of Miracles, a bunch of gypsy thieves who make up the criminals of Paris, and who indeed attempt to murder Phoebus and Quasimodo out of hand for finding them, all the while singing a jaunty tune about their crimes. While not all the gypsies are evil, they clearly are aligned with a bunch of bad guys who appear to be mostly gypsies.
- Villainous Crush: Frollo's lust for Esmeralda leads to more villainy than he was planning to do. In addition to comitting genocide on her race, he also wants to force her into sex with him.
- Villainous Face Hold: Frollo does this multiple times to Quasimodo. He grabs the face of an upset Quasimodo and forces him to look up at him whilst mocking him over his only friends being the stone gargoyles. He grabs Quasimodo's face again during his Villain Song, where, in an attempt to control Quasimodo, Frollo tells Quasimodo he'll be killed if he ever leaves the bell tower.
- Villain Song and Villain Love Song: "Hellfire" speaks of Frollo's lust for Esmeralda but it's more than that. It's also about Frollo's Holier Than Thou attitude and his Evil Plan to reconcile the two.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: "The Bells of Notre Dame" becomes this in one part. It rants about how evil Frollo is.
- Villain World: With the king out fighting a war, Big Bad Frollo runs the show here and he is a genocidal Gypsy-hating tyrant who kills people for committing petty crimes.
- Wham Line: Several.
Frollo: Burn it.
- From Frollo:
Frollo: Nor would I.
- And later:
Frollo: I should have known you would risk your life to save that Gypsy witch, just as your own mother died trying to save you.
- And still later:
Guard: Minister Frollo, the gypsy has escaped.
- He also has one delivered to him in the "Hellfire" sequence:
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- During the final battle, the Archdeacon tries to stop Frollo once again, this time from killing our heroes. Frollo shoves him down a flight of stairs. Though he is alive after impact, he is never seen or mentioned again. Actually you can spot him in the final scene of the film, when Esmeralda and Phoebus are leaving the Cathedral... but it's only for few seconds and in background. In fact most people didn't notice him until the Blu-ray edition.
- What became of Quasimodo's father after his arrest is unknown.
- It's never addressed in the end what happened to any of the soldiers who aided Frollo, but chances are, they were likely arrested and will stand trial for their crimes against Paris and the church.
- What the Hell, Hero?: During the climax, when Quasimodo has given up on trying to save Esmeralda and tells the gargoyles, who are trying to encourage him to save the day, to leave him alone, the gargoyles respond with disappointment. As they revert back to inanimate stone one by one, they deliver this powerful punch to the gut:Hugo: Okay. Okay, Quasi. We'll leave you alone.
Victor: After all, we're only made out of stone.
Laverne: We just thought maybe you were made of something stronger.
- While Rome Burns: When Frollo is threatening to burn down all of Paris (and seems to have already burned down quite a bit of it), the gargoyles are singing about how Quasimodo might have a chance with Esmeralda after all.Paris, the City of Lovers, is glowing this evening.
True, that's because it's on fire, but still, there's l'amour.
- White Stallion: Achilles. It helps with the characterization of Phoebus as a Knight in Shining Armor.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: At one point, Clopin wears a skirt.
- Woman in White: Esmeralda in the climax when she's sentenced to be burnt at the stake. It's the symbol of purity and hence 'innocent victim'.
- Would Hit a Girl: Frollo shows us within the first five minutes of the film that he is perfectly willing to murder a woman and also burn a woman at the stake because he couldn't have her.
- Would Hurt a Child: In a similar vein, Frollo tried to drown baby Quasimodo in a well and later to burn down an innocent family alive (including even the children) in their house.
- X Must Not Win: The gargoyles use this on Quasimodo, who responds to "You can't let Frollo win" with "He already has." Then, upon hearing Frollo's words as he tries to burn Esmeralda alive, Quasimodo changes his mind and keeps fighting anyway.
- You Fight Like a Cow: This exchange occurs between Phoebus and Esmeralda in the cathedral:Phoebus: You fight almost as well as a man!
Esmeralda: Funny, I was going to say the same thing about you!
- You Monster!: An indirect version. In the opening song, narrator Clopin asks "Now here is a riddle to guess if you can, sing the Bells of Notre Dame: Who is the monster and who is the man?" Frollo does call baby Quasimodo a monster when he sees that the child is misformed, and tries to kill him for it. You can probably figure out on your own to which character the riddle alludes. Then its reprise asks, "So here is a riddle to guess if you can, sing the Bells of Notre Dame: What makes a monster and what makes a man?"
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the stage show, the hideously deformed Quasimodo is played by the rather attractive Drew Sarich◊ (German version) and Michael Arden◊ (English version). The only signs of his deformity aside from his movements are black makeup smeared on his face and a pouch the actors wear on their back to represent the hump.
- Adaptational Badass: More of a Recursive Badass; Clopin is a much tougher character this time around (like his original novel counterpart), and in the German production's climax, he wields his signature scythe in battle.
- Adaptational Wimp: Relative to the movie, this applies to Frollo, though much of it simply comes from him being less of a card carrying villain. In the ending of the movie, he tries to kill Quasimodo and Esmeralda himself, and the climax is them trying to escape him. The climax of the play however is him struggling to escape as Quasimodo drags him to the edge of Notre Dame before throwing him off. However in the play, Frollo displays no desire to hurt Quasimodo, so he was no doubt taken off guard by Quasimodo's actions.
- Adaptation Distillation: The show is an amalgam of Hugo's original novel and the Disney film. Phoebus is more of a womanizer here than in the film (although he's still a pretty good guy), Clopin's relationship with Esmeralda is more established, and the climax of the show mirrors that of the novel's rather than the film's ( Esmeralda dies shortly after Quasimodo saves her, and Frollo is thrown off the roof by Quasi himself). The 2014 American production includes even more elements from the book: Frollo is once again an archdeacon rather than a judge, and the rewritten prologue focuses solely on his backstory and the relationship between him and his younger brother, Jehan.
- One production of the show at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre includes several elements from the film that the original La Jolla production omitted, such as Quasi's imaginary ensemble being portrayed as gargoyles (a reference to the gargoyle trio), as well as the inclusion of Djali, played here by an actual goat.
- Adaptation Expansion: Adds about five more songs and a couple of scenes. One new scene focuses on Esmeralda being taken in by Clopin and the gypsies in the Court of Miracles (which was established in the novel but cut from the film).
- Adaptational Heroism: The La Jolla production restores Frollo's original role as an Anti-Villain. He's much more sympathetic here than in the film, and while he's still very cruel and sinister, he's genuinely fatherly to Quasimodo. He also never kills Quasi's mother (although he does attempt to kill the baby until he stops himself from doing so). And unlike the movie, at the end he doesn't try to kill Quasimodo over Esmeralda's body, he tries to comfort him saying things can now return to how they used to be. Unfortunately for Frollo however, Quasimodo isn't so ready to forgive him.
- Despite the Adaptational Villainy stated below, Clopin relatively has this as well. At least as much heroism one can have when trying to lynch the heroes. In the movie, the lyrics to The Court of Miracles are very whimsical and Clopin is obviously enjoying himself with the kangaroo trial he's giving Quasimodo and Phoebus. In the stageplay, even though he is still comical about it, Clopin makes it clear they are being hanged for the safety of the gypsies.
- Jehan in the book was an unrepentant hedonist who cared little for anything but his own pleasure and didn't give two craps about Quasimodo. While he's still a hedonistic frat boy here, he's also depicted as Quasimodo's father and a genuinely good person at heart, expressing great sorrow over the death of his lover and pleading for Frollo to take Quasimodo in and raise him as his own when his own life starts slipping.
- Adaptation Name Change: Victor, Hugo, and Laverne are renamed Charles, Antoine, and Loni.
- Adaptational Villainy: Clopin acts a bit more like a crimelord in the stageplay. He demands a cut of Esmeralda's earnings from her dance at the Feast of Fools and when she balks at this he tells her she can either follow his rules or get out of town. Also in a deleted scene, after Quasimodo gets depressed seeing Esmeralda and Phoebus dancing together, Clopin cheers him up. The stage version seems unlikely to give a damn about anyone who isn't a fellow gypsy. In fact in the equivalent song, he is mourning the fact that the gypsies must flee Paris at the same time Quasimodo is sad.
- Adapted Out: The gargoyles do not appear in the 2014 production. Instead, Quasimodo's "friends" are embodied by the chorus, who act as the voices in his head. As for comic relief, the show's lighthearted and comedic moments are provided by Phoebus.
- Age Lift: Esmeralda and Jehan were both only sixteen in the book. Here, they're both clearly adults.
- Arc Words: Sanctuary. Even more so than the film.
- "The wicked shall not go unpunished" (sometimes followed by "the heart of the wicked is of little worth") is repeated enough for it to be this as well.
- Armor-Piercing Response: Jehan delivers one when Frollo refuses to take Quasimodo in.Frollo: But he is a Gypsy child!
Jehan: And mine.
- Bare Your Midriff: Esmeralda at the Festival of Fools for a different sort of fanservice than the Disney one.
- Both Sides Have a Point: Frollo and Jehan, in the opening number—Frollo is right to scold his brother over his unhealthy lifestyle and disrespect toward the church that took him in when he had nowhere else to go. When he finally has enough and exposes Jehan's actions to the Archdeacon, however, Jehan rightly calls out Frollo for both his lack of loyalty (valuing the church over his own brother) and the stupidity of believing that the Archdeacon would even let him stay there after discovering what he's been doing.
- Canon Foreigner: Saint Aphrodisius and Lieutenant Frederic Charlus in the American production.
- Canon Immigrant: Jehan Frollo (Claude's younger brother) plays a pivotal role in the prologue as Quasimodo's father. King Louis XI also appears to grant Frollo permission to search the town for Esmeralda (this eliminates Frollo's seemingly tyrannical rule in the film).
- The Casanova: Phoebus regains some of his womanizing traits, but he still genuinely loves Esmeralda.
- Chekhov's Gun: The hot lead used to mend the bells that Quasimodo mentions early in the show becomes important during the finale, as he pours it on the guards who are coming to get him and Esmeralda.
- Darker and Edgier: The play is darker than the Disney film it is based on, but it is still Lighter and Softer than the novel.
- The new Berlin cast recording is darker than the New Jersey one, being recorded live onstage and therefore retaining all of the elements left out of the American album. For example, in the Finale Ultimo, the sound of Frollo hitting the ground can be heard, as well as Quasimodo's anguished line of "There lies... all that I have ever loved."
- Dark Reprise: A couple new ones from the movie.
- Quasimodo first sings "Heaven's Light" about how he has found someone who might actually love him as ugly as he is. During "In A Place of Miracles", Phoebus and Esmeralda's love duet, Quasimodo, watching from a distance, reprises the aforementioned song confirming to himself that nobody could ever love him.
- Though it wasn't exactly a happy song, musically the song "Esmeralda" is up tempo and bright sounding as the city searches for Esmeralda for various reasons. At the end of the story, it is reprised by Frollo celebrating Esmeralda's death in a slow and ominous tone.
- Death by Adaptation:
- Unlike the Disney film, where Esmeralda is Spared by the Adaptation, here, she dies just like in the novel, succumbing to smoke inhalation shortly after Quasi saves her.
- In some versions of the American and the new German production, Quasimodo dies too, having spent the rest of his life with Esmeralda's corpse until they both rotted away into skeletons. This ending is taken straight from the original novel.
- Played with in regards to Jehan. He dies near the very end of the book (and at the hands of Quasimodo of all people), but here, he dies in the opening number.
- Demoted to Extra: Clopin in the 2014 American production. While he still has a very sizable role in the show, he no longer serves as the narrator. Instead, the ensemble narrates much of the story in a way similar to that of a Greek Chorus.
- Disappeared Dad: Jehan Frollo, who is Quasimodo's father in the stage adaptation, dies in the story's prologue, leaving Quasimodo for his brother Claude Frollo to raise.
- Disney Villain Death: Frollo still falls to his death in the show, but this time, Quasi is the one that throws him off the building, like in the original novel.
- The Dog Bites Back:Frollo: Quasimodo, please, you don't want to hurt me!
Chorus: Yes you do...
- Downer Ending: Esmeralda dies of smoke inhalation, despite Quasimodo saving her. After Quasi throws Frollo to his death, he then sings a Dark Reprise of "Out There", in which he realizes that while the world is ugly and cruel, it is the only world we have, and there will always be a glimmer of light that sheds through all the darkness (like Esmeralda). The show wraps up with a Dark Reprise of "The Bells of Notre Dame", led by a mourning Clopin.
- Eloquent in My Native Tongue: In the stage show, Quasimodo's voice is hoarse and raspy with simple sentences and occasional grammar mistakes when he speaks aloud, but smoother and nearly flawless when he's expressing his thoughts in song. (In the original novel, Quasimodo became deaf due to his ringing of the bells. He is at least hard-of-hearing in this version. This acting choice might be deliberate, as Michael Arden (the New Jersey Quasimodo) has previously worked with Deaf West Theatre and knows American Sign Language.)
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Played with Frollo. Unlike the movie, he is genuinely fatherly to Quasimodo even if he is a cruel man. However at the end when Quasimodo angrily asks him who he has ever loved, he is unable to bring himself to say Quasimodo, he can only say he loved his brother.
- Famous Last Words:
- "I don't think forever...you're such a good friend, Quasimodo...—Esmeralda
- Fingerless Gloves: Quasimodo wears a pair of these, along with ragged red clothes as opposed to green.
- He's back to green in the American production
- Freudian Excuse: Frollo has a reason for his hatred of Gypsies in the stage version. He watched his brother descend into hedonism with the gypsies and eventually die of the pox years later. Frollo blames the Gypsies for all of this.
- Hollywood Fire: Averted; it's not the fire that kills Esmeralda but the smoke she inhaled.
- Honor Before Reason: This is a bit of an issue with Esmeralda and the main reason why Clopin is a bit weary of her as well. She has a tendency to always do what's right, always speaking her mind and to value her independence and freedom above all else. When told that something isn't her business her usual response will be "Someone has to make it their business." Following rules and keeping a low profile isn't exactly her forte.
- In-Name-Only: Although the USA production is still advertised as "Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame", the show itself can best be described as an adaptation of the Victor Hugo novel with songs from the Disney film. It borrows several elements from the book, Downer Ending included, the characters are much closer to their novel counterparts, and as a whole, the show lacks the lighthearted, family-friendly tone of the Disney film.
- Ironic Echo: "The wicked shall not go unpunished." Said multiple times by Frollo throughout the show before being thrown back in his face by Quasimodo moments before Quasimodo throws him off the top of Notre Dame.
- Ladykiller in Love: Phoebus toward Esmeralda, Jehan toward Florika.
- Mad Dreamer: Quasimodo. Here it's made explicit the gargoyles are in his imagination to help him cope with his loneliness.
- Named by the Adaptation: Quasimodo's mother is named Florika in the American production.
- Parental Abandonment: Jehan Frollo and Quasimodo's mother Florika to Quasimodo due to the both of them dying from an unknown sickness.
- Pet the Dog: Instead of saying Quasi would be "of use to him" when he takes him in an act of guilt because of killing his mother (in the film), Frollo says he will take him in as a son. However, Frollo still only visits Quasi in the bell tower to bully him, telling him that he should stay in "sanctuary" in the bell tower because he is "ugly" and "deformed."
- Playing Gertrude: Frollo is now played by a actor who looks to be middle-aged, rather than as an old man like in the Disney film.
- Related in the Adaptation: In the American production, Frollo is Quasimodo's uncle (his brother, Jehan Frollo, is Quasi's birth father).
- Self-Disposing Villain: Averted unlike the movie version and like pretty much every other Disney production. Instead of Frollo falling to his death while trying to kill Quasimodo and Esmeralda, Quasimodo drags him to the edge of Notre Dame and throws him to his death while he begs for Quasimodo to let him go.
- A Taste of the Lash: In the American production, Quasimodo is publicly whipped during the Feast of Fools.
- War Is Hell: Phoebus' intro song indicates he suffers from PTSD as a result of four years of harsh fighting in the crusades, complete with grisly lyrics reflecting the harsh conditions of being a soldier. He ends up fighting a different kind of war in the course of the play.
- White Stallion: Captain Phoebus rides a white horse because he's the captain.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Frollo is much closer to his book incarnation in this version, being a man who was once genuinely good, but a crisis of faith drives him mad.