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Establishing Character Moment / Animated Films

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  • Aladdin:
    • Aladdin shows himself to not only be an affable thief, but a guy who's soft enough to give his stolen food away to a pair of homeless children without a second thought. The "One Jump Ahead" song tells you absolutely everything you need to know about the guy in a catchy two-minute package. The later reprise after giving away the bread also reveals his more vulnerable side and that being called a street rat really does bother him, and this insecurity eventually leads to further conflict in the movie.
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    • The Genie enters in a fantastic shower of Magic, lets out a magnificent yell, and then has this to say: "TEN THOUSAND YEARS will give you such a crick in the neck!" Establishing him as something of a goofball Large Ham.
  • The Wonderlanders in Alice in Wonderland each get a moment to show just how crazy they all are; the White Rabbit frets over how late he is, the Doorknob expresses irritation at Alice waking him up and goes on a tangent of making terrible door related puns, the Dodo sings about being a sailor and displays a method of drying off that makes no sense, the Caterpillar yells "Who are you?" at Alice, the Cheshire Cat trolls her, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare and the Dormouse have an "unbirthday" party and the Queen of Hearts sentences her own guards to beheading for painting her roses red.
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  • In Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, each of the turtles' personalities come out when dealing with the Penguin. Raph is the first to break their stealth when the Penguin mistakes him for Batman, Mikey jokes to his goons that they're aliens, Donny corrects him in the midst of the fight, and Leo tries to keep Donny focused on the fight at hand.
  • Big Hero 6:
    • We first see Hiro when he competes in a battle bots arena, where after he drops his noob façade, he is shown to be very cocky and confident when in combat. There's also the fact that he had the guts to hustle in an illegal bot fight, showcasing both Anti-Hero tendencies and his recklessness.
      Hiro: Hey, I'm as surprised as you are. Beginner's luck.
    • Tadashi demonstrates his Big Brother Instinct when he jumps in to rescue Hiro from angry bot fighters and later encouraged Hiro to do something productive with his intelligence.
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    • Baymax's first inflation in the film — from stepping out of his charging case, walking very slowly across the room, very gently moving a stool out of his path and matter-of-factly scanning Hiro and administering bacitracin-based antiseptic. Not only does it cement him as a slow and careful caregiver, but a completely literal-minded machine.
      Baymax: "I cannot be sick. I am a robot.
    • Hiro is admiring the zero resistance technology used on GoGo's bike, when she says...
      GoGo: Zero resistance. Faster bike. But not fast enough... [flips wheel into recycling bin full of its kind] ...yet.
    • Wasabi's perfectly clean and ultra-organized table of tools. He even has a coffee mug that measures portions!
    • Honey Lemon kisses Hiro on the cheeks before demonstrating chemical-metal embrittlement to him.
    • Fred casually introduces himself while in a fish monster costume, and also reveals that he's asked his friends to use their scientific knowledge to give him superpowers (namely, to turn into a monster) and an invisible sandwich.
  • Despicable Me:
    • Gru is shown to be Affably Evil as he makes a balloon for a crying boy only to pop it. And when he goes into a coffee shop, he freezes everyone around him so he could be first in line but tips the cashier before he leaves (though he doesn't actually pay for the coffee or muffin).
    • Miss Hattie firmly establishes herself as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing when she cheerily greets the girls. But as soon as Agnes ask if anyone has come to adopt them, she brutally tells them "Hmm, let me think... NO!"
  • The Emperor's New Groove:
    • After a How We Got Here moment showing that it won't last — begins with Emperor Kuzco dancing through his castle in a huge musical number about how great he is, which is only briefly interrupted by having an old man thrown out a window for bumping into him and throwing off his "groove".
    • Having established that guy as our protagonist, his advisor, Yzma, is quickly established as being even worse as she sits on his throne, tuning out a pitiful little peasant whose voice bears more than a passing resemblance to Piglet:
      Yzma: It is no concern of mine whether or not your family has... what was it, again?
      Peasant: Um... food...
      Yzma: Ha! You should've thought of that before you became peasants!
  • In Frozen II, "Some Things Never Change" serves as this for the three main human characters:
    • Anna is an optimistic, nurturing person who likes to take care of others, and can cope with almost any change as long as she has her family and loved ones. The song starts with her comforting Olaf that lots of things may change, but it's okay because they have each other. She later learns to cope with losing everything, including her home and her whole family, and to find her own leadership skills before taking on the role of queen in her own right, rather than seeing herself primarily as her sister's support.
    • Kristoff wants to propose to Anna, but is awkward and not good with communicating with people the way he does with his reindeer.
    • Elsa is happy where she is, but is feeling restless, not sure whether or not she wants things to change. She soon afterward chooses to follow a voice in hopes of finding a different destiny and more about her magic.
  • The Great Mouse Detective introduces Professor Ratigan by having he and his henchmen sing an over-the-top Villain Song praising Ratigan for how great and evil he is, has him feed a drunken henchman to his pet cat Felicia for calling him a "rat", and then demand the rest of his henchmen continue singing said song about how evil and great he is, perfectly setting his intelligence, his brutality, and his Berserk Button in one very catchy song.
  • Several in The Hunchback of Notre Dame:
    • Frollo's moment comes after he's chased down the Gypsy Woman, and in the struggle to relieve her of her "stolen goods", caused her death. Now he realizes that the bundle in her arms was actually an infant, and a deformed one at that. So what's the right thing to do? Why, drop the kid in the nearest well and justify everything! Only the threat of eternal damnation can shake him.
    • Quasimodo, despite his hunchback, squashed nose, and bent eye, is established as a kind and gentle spirit as he encourages a baby bird to fly.
    • Phoebus is established as a snarky smartass with a good heart who doesn't hesitate to do the right thing when he witnesses Esmeralda being unfairly persecuted by Frollo's men and helps her get away. Even before he sees Esmeralda for the first time, he puts coins in the Gypsies' hat, even though Gypsies have been established as social outcasts, showcasing that Phoebus is charitable to the less fortunate, pretty girl or not.
    • Obviously Esmeralda's biggest moment in the film is her rescue of Quasi from the crowd, then straight up defiance of Frollo when he tries to forbid her from doing so, giving him a world class "The Reason You Suck" Speech while she's at it. But before all of that, she has a minor moment when Quasimodo crashes into her tent while she's dressing. She could've screamed, yelled at him for being clumsy, gotten angry. But what does she say? "Are you all right? You're not hurt, are you?"
  • The Incredibles:
    • Dash using his speed to pull pranks on his teachers.
    • Violet turning invisible and shyly looking at her crush as he walks by.
    • The first minute or so of the movie also sets up a nice Subversion for Bob, Helen, and Lucius. Bob expresses a desire to settle down and Helen says she can't get enough of the superhero gig, viewpoints that both do a complete 180 on once the main story has actually started. Lucius is portrayed at first to be a womanizer who doesn't like to get intimate, but is shown to have a wife later on in the movie. Bob and Helen's are justified almost entirely by their decommissioning; Helen prefers to focus on the present and the future, which at this point is dedicated to taking care of her family; Bob, easily distracted Chronic Hero Syndrome sufferer that he is, feels unappreciated and useless when he's not performing heroics. His non-superpowered attempts to be helpful are unappreciated and resented by others, usually due to technicalities.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Po's first scene is in the dream sequence which begins the film. He is imagining himself as a respected warrior, establishing his admiration for kung fu. Later after he wakes up, another establishing character moment he has showcases his awkwardness when his kung fu moves attract the attention of a pig villager.
    • Master Oogway's wisdom, kindness, and tranquility (but all with a healthy sense of humor) are clearly defined in his very first scene, when Shifu finds him meditating in some kind of advanced yoga pose while balanced atop his cane. After exchanging some brief words with Shifu, he then goes to blow out the hundreds of candles lighting the room — one at a time, even looking Shifu right in the eyes as he does so — until a mortified Shifu snuffs them all out at once with a flare of wind. It's a great gag, but also genuinely informative about the differences in the two masters' worldviews — Shifu is brilliant and experienced, but also suffers from very worldly restlessness, while Oogway has the patience of a saint and is willing to devote his individual attention to every single candle, no matter how long it takes. Oogway's first lines are very telling:
      Shifu: Master Oogway. You summoned me. Is something wrong?
      Oogway: [getting down from his perch] Why must something be wrong, for me to want to see my old friend?
      Shifu: So... nothing's wrong?
      Oogway: Well... I didn't say that...
    • Immediately before this scene, Shifu first appears playing the flute in the Jade Palace gardens while sitting in the Lotus position... before fighting off all the Furious Five at once when they try to ambush him and dismissing them with a harsh comment. When summoned to Oogway's chambers (as Oogway points out, above), his response shows that Shifu always assumes the worst from unexpected developments, and is usually right... but not always.
      Shifu: [to the Five after they ambush him] Well done, my students...if you were trying to disappoint me!
    • Tai Lung is clearly established as both ingenious and terrifyingly badass with when he breaks out of Chorh-Ghom Prison with the use of a single goose feather.
  • The Land Before Time: Ducky's personality for being curious bordering on getting in danger is established the moment she hatches out of her egg. She tries to crawl into the mouth of a giant turtle, only to be saved at the last minute by her mother. Cera has one too when she hatches out of her egg, showcasing her fearless but brash attitude. Petrie has one when Littlefoot is finding something to eat, and when the young Apatosaurus pulls down a branch, Petrie falls off the branch screaming, showcasing his Lovable Coward personality. Lastly, Spike has one as soon as he hatches from his egg and Ducky finds him. Spike immmediately eats the grass that surrounded the egg he hatched from.
  • The LEGO Movie:
    • Emmet's life is so empty and meaningless that "family and friends" are a plant and a broom. It would be heartbreaking if it weren't so hilariously pathetic. Following that, his obsession with fitting in by "following the instructions" is made clear when he studiously observes every page in the instruction manual, showing that he can't even remember how to do things like shower and put on pants before going out in public without the instructions telling him to do so. Despite his seemingly pathetic, rule-driven existence, he appears completely happy with who he is.
    • Wyldstyle rescues Emmet from his execution and then builds a motorcycle out of spare parts in an alleyway, which is also our first introduction to the Master Builders' abilities.
  • The Lion King:
    • Scar is introduced "playing" with a helpless mouse he is about to devour while skipping out on his nephew's birth ceremony. When Zazu reprimands Scar (causing him to lose the mouse) he immediately tries to eat Zazu.
    • Simba has two. The first one is when he's a cub and his love for adventure, impatience and admiration for his father Mufasa are showcased with him being the first one awake on Pride Rock and attempting to wake the older lion up. The second one comes in as an adult when he's happily stargazing with Timon and Pumbaa, only to sadly wander away when they laugh at the idea of "the great kings of the past" looking down from the stars. This personality as an adult shows that while he's found comfort with a new father figure and uncle figure in Timon and Pumbaa, he's still secretly traumatized from having seen Mufasa die and been blamed for the crime by the real culprit, Scar.
    • Timon and Pumbaa have one showcasing their fun-loving comic relief personalities as they laugh about chasing vultures away from the unconscious Simba. Pumbaa's straightforward kind heart is shown when he immediately wants to take Simba home with them, while Timon is established as a Jerk With A Heart of Gold when he wants to leave the half-dead cub behind out of fear, only changes his mind when Pumbaa points out that having a lion to protect them would be useful, and takes the credit for that realization.
  • When asked what makes an effective roar in Monsters University, Mike rattles off the five-point strategy. Sulley just roars.
  • Mulan:
    • Mulan shows off her cleverness and resourcefulness to the viewers when she fashions a means of getting her dog to feed the chickens so she still has time to change her clothes. Soon afterward, she reveals a lack of grace during a meeting with the matchmaker, suggesting that life as a trophy wife will not properly fulfill her destiny.
    • The Emperor, when told his armies will protect him from the invading Huns, immediately declared that the armies should go out and protect his people instead. He then orders his General to get as many army soldier reserves and new recruits as possible, because he knew how dangerous the Huns were and didn't want to take any chances with them. All of this shows that the Emperor is a wise and benevolent ruler.
    • Mushu's first words upon awakening are "IIIIII LIIIIIIIIVE!"
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
    • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls redoes many of the establishing moments from the show with some variations as Twilight Sparkle meets the human versions of her pony friends. The villain Sunset Shimmer gets her establishing character moment in the human world by picking on human Fluttershy.
    • The sequel My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Rainbow Rocks quickly establishes Sunset Shimmer's post Heel–Face Turn personality by having her shunned by the Crusaders in spite of her attempts to be nice and helpful, showing both how much she has changed and how hated she still is by the school.
    • The third movie My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games starts with Sunset Shimmer rushing to help with an emergency, then making her frustration clear when the emergency isn't actually as serious as all that. She's still a good person, but (or "and") now she has her old confidence back.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas does this for each of the main characters.
    • Jack gets a dramatic entrance during the Halloween celebration, but it's during his song a few minutes later that his real character is shown.
    • Sally's is more subtle. In her first few seconds onscreen she is shown doing what she will spend the rest of the movie doing: gazing lovingly at Jack and rebelling against her mad scientist creator/father figure.
    • The Mayor gets an ECM as well, albeit a little ways into the story, when he goes to Jack's house for advice and panics when he finds Jack has disappeared. This is the first time we see him wear his second face.
    • Oogie Boogie's reputation precedes him as the most malevolent resident of Halloween Town, but his first few seconds on screen (even though only his shadow is shown) make his creepiness, evil intentions, and love of gambling very clear.
  • The Princess and the Frog has several:
    • Prince Naveen gets a wordless one: his very first scene has him ripping off his royal decor, grabbing a ukelele, and disregarding his manservant and any royal pomp as he joins a street band, complete with immediate posse of fawning ladies. It easily establishes him as an impulsive ladies' man completely dedicated to enjoying himself.
    • The film's Big Bad Dr. Falicier gets one too; He's a street corner fortune teller who gives a spell to restore a bald man's hair- which soon covers the rest of his body. This establishes the doctor as a man out to use other people's needs to profit and screw them over. And that Living Shadow shows he's NOT just a Snake Oil Salesman...
    • Spoiled rich girl Charlotte gets a delayed one. When Charlotte finds Tiana sitting amid the ruins of the beignets with which Charlotte had hoped to seduce the Prince, she might have bawled Tiana out and demanded the beignets be replaced. Instead, she abandons the Prince and takes Tiana upstairs to get her cleaned up and into a fresh costume.
    • Her father gets one during the opening scene as well; he buys a newspaper off of a little boy, and pays him with what is probably the biggest wad of cash in Disney history.
  • Shrek:
    • Shrek introduces himself by narrating a fairy tale about a princess locked away in a tower...but when he gets to the part about her being rescued by Prince Charming, he casually tears out a page of the book and uses it for toilet paper, demonstrating his cynicism and worldly personality, followed by a montage of his morning routine that shows off his intentionally disgusting personal hygiene. Later on, when he's threatened by a mob with Torches and Pitchforks, he casually extinguishes their leader's torch with his bare hand, showing us that he's not only a funny gross ogre but also a legitimate badass who's afraid of nothing (physically harmful) the world can throw at him.
      Shrek: [whispering] This is the part where you run away.
    • Lord Farquaad's first scene shows us an imposing and serious-looking medieval noble entering his private dungeon, before we see his true height, followed shortly after by him torturing a prisoner for information (it's the Gingerbread Man, but still) and blaming him (and by extension, all fairytale creatures) for "ruining my perfect world."
  • Sing establishes several of the main characters, introducing their situations before the plot starts.
    • Buster is someone who deeply loves theater and remains optimistic despite the sorry state his theater has become.
    • Rosita is a stay-home mom who enjoys singing but her husband and children are either too young or busy to appreciate it.
    • Mike is a street musician who has a short temper and bullies a passing monkey to giving him more money.
    • Ash is a talented singer who is constantly put down by her pushy boyfriend.
    • Meena has a lovely singing voice but is terribly shy and passive.
    • Johnny quietly sings to himself while waiting awkwardly for his dad and his gang to return from their latest heist.
  • Storks:
    • Junior is introduced as the widely popular Ace who masks his disappointment with quick talk and strained casualness.
    • Tulip is first seen as she prepares to help herself and her flightless bird friends achieve their dreams of flying with untested jet-packs, neatly summing up her reckless and altruistic personality.
  • Strange Magic: You know exactly the type of guy Roland is when the first song ends with him cheating on Marianne right before their wedding.
  • Gothel from Tangled is shown discovering a magical flower that could heal people from any disease, including aging. Instead of sharing it, she hoards this flower for hundreds of years, using it for her selfish gain of remaining young. She gets another one, showcasing her skill at subtle emotional abuse in one of her earliest lines:
    Gothel: Rapunzel, look in this mirror. You know what I see? A vibrant, confident, beautiful young lady. Oh look! You're here too! Ahahahahah! Oh darling- I'm just teasing!
  • Ralph in Wreck-It Ralph declares he doesn't want to be a Bad Guy anymore to his fellow video game villains, but then he proves to the audience that he's not a bad guy... by giving his Pac-Man fruit to some recently unplugged characters.
  • Zootopia:
    • As as a child, we see Judy being passionate about being a cop and standing up to a bully despite the risk to her safety. Despite losing the fight and getting beaten up badly, she manages to steal back the stolen tickets, showing she is capable of thinking quick on her feet.
    • Nick Wilde is introduced abusing Judy's trust by pretending to be a father and then being a successful conman/businessman, cleverly making profits wheeling and dealing across the city while staying within the law so that Judy can't arrest him. He then shows his cynicism by viciously deconstructing her "small town girl in the big city" backstory, her aspirations to be a cop (including the startlingly accurate prediction that she'll fail, resign, and return home to farm carrots), and the idea that Zootopia is an egalitarian paradise for all animals.


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