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Everybody knows that one of the key elements of the Disney Animated Canon is its Rogues Gallery, one of the most iconic sets of villains in all of Western Animation. We know them, and we know their histories. But what we don't know is their children. Are they themselves just as evil as their parents? Or are they simply doing what is expected of them? Can they break free of parental influences and carve their own path? Leave it to Kenny Ortega to answer that question in the form of Descendants, a Disney Channel Original Movie that premiered July 31st, 2015. It stars Dove Cameron, Sofia Carson, Cameron Boyce, and Booboo Stewart.

The story is set in the United Kingdom of Auradon, a merging of all the various locations established in the various DAC films. A form of paradise, where all the "heroes" and associated friends and family live in peace. Of course, where there are heroes, there are villains, and those who filled that role are exiled to the Isle of the Lost, a place where magic is unusable, and have been scratching out a living ever since. In both places, life goes on, families begin...

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With his coronation as king approaching soon, Belle and Beast's son Ben decrees that the children of the most notorious Disney villains (Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar, and Cruella De Vil) should be allowed a second chance by attending the kingdom's Elaborate University High.

Seeing it as an opportunity to get revenge, Maleficent and co. send their children - Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos - to obtain the Fairy Godmother's magic wand for their evil purposes. However, their children become torn between obeying their parents, or escaping their shadow to become better people; as mentioned, are they evil by birth, or are they just raised that way?

A sequel premiered on July 21, 2017, simultaneously on Disney Channel, Disney XD, ABC, Freeform, and even both Lifetime and Lifetime Movies, taking place six months after the events of the film. After Mal cracks under pressure and returns to the Isle of the Lost, Ben and the other Villain Kids must race to save her from herself and from the new leaders of their turf: Uma (daughter of Ursula), Harry (son of Captain Hook), and Gil (son of Gaston).

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The third film premiered August 2nd, 2019. This one involves Audrey, the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, who after serving as an Alpha Bitch in the first film and being completely absent in the second film, finally snaps and calls upon the darkest magic in Auradon to exact revenge. The film also sees the revelation of Mal's father: Hades, who apparently seeks revenge for being imprisoned on the Isle when he didn't want anything to do with either party.

The third film is also notable for being the last major film role for Cameron Boyce before his untimely death on July 7th, 2019, less than a month before its premiere.

The film has had several other works based on it, though the canonicity of them compared to each other is nebulous at best:

  • A series of novels by Blue Bloods author Melissa de la Cruz. The Isle of the Lost is a Prequel and depicts how the original four Villain Kids met. Return to the Isle of the Lost is a direct sequel to the film's events. The third book, Rise of the Isle of the Lost, ties into Descendants 2 and introduces Uma, Harry and Gil under different circumstances. The fourth book, Escape from the Isle of the Lost, takes place before Descendants 3 and mostly serves as a novelization of the "Under the Sea" special and the first teaser for the third film, with extra scenes about the Auradonians preparing for graduation and Uma and Hades forming a temporary alliance, the latter of which is book-exclusive.
  • ''Disney's Descendants: Wicked World'', a series of animated shorts taking place after the events of the first movie and before Descendants 2, and introducing several other children of heroes and villains.

Not to be mistaken for the film The Descendants.


Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Why the Villain Kids act as they do. In her opening lines from "Rotten to the Core", Evie says outright that she didn't receive any love from her mother (though considering it's unlikely she'd know what love is if she didn't receive any, as well as the fact that she isn't surprised by her mother's display of affection during the video chat, she may be saying this to be dramatic), and when talking to Lonnie while making the love potion, it's all but stated that none of the kids were loved by their parents. It's also the catalyst for the events of the film and why Ben wanted them to come to school, because he felt that they deserved a chance away from the influence of the villain parents.
    • Seems to be averted with Dr. Facilier, as he's shown to have a very close and loving relationship with his daughter Celia, even if he encourages her to pull scams. He also doesn't have any ulterior plan for her to follow, is not upset when she says she's on a mission that doesn't involve hustling people, is never condescending or manipulative towards her, and trusts her when she says she's got everything handled.
  • Actionized Sequel: The first film was more of a caper-style film, with the only action moment from the first film was Maleficent's attack, which only last a few minutes and only involves the Villain Kids. Descendants 2 has a brawl between Uma's pirates and the Villain Kids (plus Ben and Lonnie), followed by a duel between Uma and Mal in their respective Sea Witch and Dragon forms.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Queen Leah. In Sleeping Beauty, she is portrayed as a Nice Girl who makes a minimal effort to be cordial with Maleficent before she cursed her daughter. In Descendants, however, she blames Mal for her mother's actions, complaining about how she missed out on her daughter's childhood despite Mal being in no way responsible for Maleficent's actions. In Descendants 3, she's practically an abusive grandparent towards Audrey, berating her for not being able to marry Ben to preserve their family status, while stating that Aurora managed to hold on to a prince in her sleep (ignoring that Phillip and Aurora met beforehand, and Audrey managed to win over Chad Charming), ultimately being the final straw for Audrey's Face–Heel Turn. She does seem to have gotten better near the end of the film, though, as she apologizes to Mal for everything and claps when Mal declares to take down the Isle's barrier, contrasting her previous feelings about Villain Kids being brought to Auradon.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Partly justified by the fact that some of these villains are Retired Monsters.
    • Downplayed with Lady Tremaine. In Cinderella, she is portrayed as a very cruel woman who doesn't care about her daughters or stepdaughters, only herself. Here, while Descendants 2 described her as basically wicked “grandmother” instead of “stepmother”, by the time of Descendants 3 she is shown to harbor some affection, albeit stoically, towards her granddaughter Dizzy, who serves as a Morality Pet for her, like being supportive of Dizzy’s desire to go to Auradon, even though it would not benefit herself. Sure, she makes Dizzy sweep her shop constantly, but Dizzy implies that Lady Tremaine wasn’t all bad to her aside from this.
    • Dr. Facilier, the murderous and dangerously shady Big Bad from The Princess and the Frog, is now a loving father who runs an arcade for the villain kid community.
    • Hades isn't nearly as hotheaded and sleazy as his animated counterpart. He genuinely loves his daughter Mal and even helps save Audrey at the end of 3.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Belle is aghast at the idea of welcoming the children of villains and doesn't come to their aid later on either. What was the point of her movie again?
  • Age Lift: Fairy Godmother was a grandmotherly woman in the original film, here she's portrayed by a woman in her forties, probably to make the fact that she has a teenage daughter more believable. Justified in that she could have magically de-aged herself to better fit so that she would look more like Jane's mother rather than her grandmother, and so that her students would not make fun of her for being an old lady. It's implied she did de-age herself, as the villains do make fun of her being old.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The prequel novel has a lot of world-building not featured in the film. One thing of note is the brother-sister relationship that Evie and Carlos share in the novel is something that's not really evident onscreen proper.
    • As does the School of Secrets web series.
    • Audrey's Royal Return, released on Youtube on July 5, 2019, reveals what she was up to in Sherwood Forest and why her appearance changed.
  • Alternate Universe: To the Disney films they're based on. Most notably, it is a Constructed World where they have some modern day technology and the movie's setting is one where worlds collide.
  • An Aesop: Several of them -
    • You are not your parents- choose your own destiny, but that can cut both ways.
      • Your parents don't always know what's best for you.
    • The flip side of the first one: It's really not cool to punish children for the horrible things their parents did.
    • You can be smart and pretty. And being smart isn't a bad thing.
    • No matter what anyone says, you're beautiful inside and out. It's nice to get a compliment from time to time though.
    • Do what makes you happy. Trying to please someone else isn't worth it if you're unhappy while doing it.
      • Related: Never sacrifice who you really are for your passions. Do what you love and do it your way.
    • The above two Aesops being said, there's a right way and a wrong way to be yourself. When being yourself puts others in danger, then you need to rethink your expression.
    • Your past will always be a part of you, but don't let it hold you back.
    • If you want the world to change, do it yourself instead of waiting for it.
    • The second film has a girl power message involving Lonnie, even though Mulan didn't break gender norms for the sake of fighting for equality.
  • Animated Adaptation: There are animated shorts called Descendants: Wicked World, which are considerably Denser and Wackier.
  • Animated Armor: Several suits are brought to life in the third film.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: A few of the Disney Heroes' children are this in the sense that they are the opposite of their sweet-natured parents. We have Chad and Audrey, though she becomes friends with Mal and her prior antagonism toward her makes sense given their parents' history. In the third film, this is taken to a whole new level when Audrey makes a Face–Heel Turn and becomes the Big Bad, with Chad serving as her Dragon. Audrey is still more sympathetic than Chad though, as she's an Anti-Villain whose goals to marry Ben and become queen of Auradon was because she believes it's her destiny and nobody else's to marry Ben and become his queen, especially since they were goals her family has forced upon her, while Chad becomes her lackey just to save his own skin. By the end, however, both of them have made a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Anti-Hero: All four of the main VK protagonists of the franchise. Especially Mal and Jay. Justified since they're kids of (in)famous villains.
  • Anti-Villain: Uma and Audrey. The former holds a desire for vengeance against Auradon because they neglected to consider the conditions of those living on the Isle, and her plan to destroy the Isle's barrier is so she can free the Villain Kids. The latter is understandably hurt that her boyfriend and future title as queen were taken from her by the daughter of the evil fairy who tried to kill her parents, and her desire to become queen of Auradon by force is therefore justified. Humorously enough, when Uma reads Audrey's diary (without her permission), she tells Mal "and dang, did you ruin Audrey's life!", as though she's making a bit of a comparison between herself and Audrey, though she wonders how anyone with Audrey's bed could ever be unhappy shortly after.
  • Audience Surrogate: Lonnie fills this role, acting as a stand-in for the audience as she is shown to be curious of what the Villain Kids' lives are really like, and what they're going through as they experience life in Auradon.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Maleficent and the Evil Queen died at the end of their films, and Jafar died at the end of the sequel to his film. This isn't a Plot Hole either: the prequel novel, The Isle of the Lost, reveals that they were brought back to life just to be imprisoned on the island.
    • They aren't the only ones. The prequel novel reveals several other deceased Disney villains were also revived simply to be banished as well.
  • Bait-and-Switch: During Ben's coronation, someone snatches the Fairy Godmother's wand and cracks the force field around the Isle of the Lost, allowing Maleficent to escape. At first, we assume that it was Mal, and that she decided to carry on with her mother's plan after all. Eventually, it is revealed that Jane was the one responsible, and that she grabbed the wand out of desperation and subsequently zapped the force field by accident.
  • Beam-O-War: Between Mal and Audrey in the final battle of 3 when Mal uses Hades' ember to defeat her and undo all her spells.
  • Beyond the Impossible: The fact that Fairy Godmother's anti-magic barrier can neutralize even the power of a god (who would rank higher on Super Weight) is quite the conundrum.
  • Big Bad: Maleficent. She's the one who leads the other villains and plots their revenge against Auradon. She's also the one who wants the Fairy Godmother's wand the most. Maleficent wants her daughter, Mal, to grow up to become this trope and rule along with her. By the end of the film, Mal has other ideas.
  • Big Man on Campus: Ben as a benevolent version, both as a leader due to being the future king of Auradon as well as being on the Tourney sports team. Chad who is also a sports jock, also acts like one but is more of a Jerk Jock.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: The third movie takes place mostly during Jane's birthday.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Chad. He charms Evie and makes her think he likes her back, but only wants her so she can do his homework for him. He did the same to other girls too.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Audrey definitely does not resent Mal for her mother trying to kill Audrey's parents and stuff.
    • Mal also totally does not resent Audrey for her grandparents inviting the whole world but her mother to their stupid christening.
  • Brainless Beauty: Subverted with Evie. She's actually pretty smart, but has repressed it due to her mother teaching her that looks are the only thing that matters. She's still naive though, and she only comes off as stupid because she's more emotionally involved.
  • Brick Joke: In the Establishing Character Moment song "What's My Name?", Harry says he "never learned to count 'cause he's number one". Later, when taunting a captive Ben, he pulls out a pocket watch and claims that Ben has twenty minutes (until a noon deadline) left before being thrown overboard from Uma's ship. it's actually eleven-thirty.
  • Broken Aesop: Zig-Zagged. The main characters learn their lesson that it's OK to be different from your parents and are able to have their own character. Great, but what about all the other characters like Lonnie, Ally and Zevon who have literally no identity outside of being like their parents?
  • Bullying a Dragon: The Auradon students ('specially Audrey and Chad). They think the villains' kids are evil like their parents, but never stop to consider they might have inherited their magical powers or been trained in other more mundane ways by the other villains they lived with. Even with Mal openly using magic or Jay being much stronger than any other guy, they still choose to antagonize them. The Villain Kids decide they've had enough of their abuse and decide to unleash their wrath on them.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Mal gets the opportunity when Maleficent shows up. Carlos did this to his mother during the group video call, and even Jafar was impressed.
  • Canine Companion: Dude the dog later becomes one for Carlos after Ben introduces them to show Carlos dogs in general aren't dangerous, vicious creatures his mother Cruella lied to him about.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Wicked World seems to be this judging from the sequel as none of the new characters appear and Captain Hook has a son instead of a daughter. Taken further in Descendants 3, in which Audrey's role completely ignores the Character Development she had in Wicked World, and Dr. Facilier's daughter Celia from that movie appears to replace his other daughter Freddie from Wicked World.
  • Canon Foreigner: In a way, all of the descendants could be considered this to their respective parents' films. Wicked World also introduces several new characters unseen in the original film: Jordan (daughter of Genie), Freddie (daughter of Doctor Facilier) Ally (daughter of Alice), CJ (daughter of Captain Hook), and Zevon (son of Yzma).
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Disney villains from the first movie, referring to themselves as villains. Only Maleficent and Jafar had these traits in the source material. Cruella and the Evil Queen didn't.
  • Catchphrase: Fairy Godmother tends to start her sentences with "Bibbidi Bobbidi."
  • Color-Coded Characters:
    • Each of the students wear certain colors that affiliate with their respective parents; Mal wears purple (and sometimes black and green) like Maleficent's cloak, Ben wears blue and gold a la Beast, Doug wears green like Dopey, etc.
    • Subverted with the kids introduced in the sequel. While they have their own defined color schemes (Uma with blue and sea-green, Harry with red and white, Gil with orange, and Dizzy with green and paint-splatters), none of them match up with their parents. Costume designer Kara Saun explained that because some of the villain parents shared a primary color scheme with other characters (ex. Purple already being Mal's color theme and red being shared by the original Hook and Gaston) she chose a secondary color the villains had in their original design. While Harry got to maintain Hook’s main red color, Uma's turquoise was based off of Ursula's eyeshadow and Gil’s sandy orange was from Gaston's gloves.
    • Dizzy dresses up in shades of green similar to her mother, Drizella Tremaine, but she wears paint-splatters all over her outfits.
  • The Cameo:
    • Aurora and Phillip, Prince Charming and Cinderella, Dopey, and Mulan all appear as background, blink-and-miss characters. Aurora's mother, Queen Leah (who's old and possibly widowed) appears too, though her role is less of a cameo and more of an incredibly large and coffin sealing Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! moment in both of the movies she appears in!
    • Snow White briefly shows up as a reporter filming at Ben's coronation.
  • Chekhov's Gag: In Descendants 2 Dude being able to talk and him not listening when any of the Core Four VKs order him to stay. He comes in the knick of time when Mal has to convince Uma that their fake wand is real and pretends to cast a spell also using his new ability to talk.
  • Constructed World: Being that the film has a fantasy setting, Auradon was created with the purpose of bringing together every world and element from the Disney Animated Canon, and judging by the map, doesn't seem to correspond to any specific land on Earth (even if it clearly is on our Earth). Even works from wildly different times show up and interact- for example, Carlos is the son of Cruella, who was from a relatively modern London, with automobiles, trains and technology, but no magic, but he frequently interacts with Mal, daughter of Maleficent, from a world of swords, sorcery and no technology more advanced than the horse and carriage (which is also used in Auradon). How these worlds were put together has not yet been explained.
  • Continuity Nod: In the first film, Carlos is thrilled after tasting a chocolate peanut butter cup for the first time during the limo ride to Auradon. In the third film, during the limo ride escorting new VKs to Auradon Prep he encourages Squeaky (one of Mr. Smee's sons) to try a peanut butter cup, which Squeaky also enjoys.
    • Similarly, Mal tries strawberries for the first time in the first film and is amazed by them, and in 2, we hear a TV broadcast noting "Since Mal revealed her love of strawberries, she has received hundreds of cartons from her admirers."
    • Gil discovering and devouring a bowl of grapes in the third film is very similar to how Mal reacted when she got to taste strawberries for the first time in the original film.
  • Contralto of Danger: Played around with a bit. Evie has that smoky Emma Stone quality to her voice but she's probably the least villainous of the group, second only to Carlos. Her mother also has a deeper voice, and she is pretty bad.
  • Covers Always Lie: Slightly subverted with 3. The main boxart shows Celia amongst Hades and Uma above the VKs, when really, she's one of the heroes. Hades is also front and center when he does not have much of a role to the plot and the true villain is Audrey. However, the back of her head can be seen behind such, and is much larger.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The premise of Descendants 3 is essentially this; Mal falling in love with Ben during the first film was Innocently Insensitve such that she never addressed this with nor considered Audrey's feelings about it afterwards, thinking Audrey was fine after she decided to take Chad as rebound. However, Audrey felt like she was cast in the dust, even considered a failure by her own grandmother because of this loss. This broke and cracked Audrey, driving her with a desire to take over Auradon herself.
  • Curse Cut Short: Downplayed in the sequel's It's Going Down. Judging by how Uma cuts Harry off in mid-sentence and how her line does not rhyme with his, it most likely does rhyme with what he intended to say, but couldn't - that is, kill. Though it's not really a curse word, it might be just a little bit darker than what Disney was going for:
    Harry: All it takes is one swing and I'll humiliate him
    Matter of fact, make one wrong move and I'll debilitate him
    And if he even starts to slip, I'll eliminate him
    All it takes is one long look and I'll—
    Uma: Harry! We get it. Chill.
  • Cycle of Revenge: In the first film, Mal has to go out and steal the wand so that Maleficent can invade Auradon and take revenge on her enemies. But in doing so, she ends up falling in love with Ben, future king of Auradon. This ends up hurting Aurora's daughter Princess Audrey (Ben's first girlfriend), making her a failure in her grandmother's eyes and an embarrassment to her family. In the third film, Audrey decides to take revenge on Mal, Ben and all of Auradon for abandoning her like that. Mal breaks the cycle by saving Audrey's life after defeating her and apologizing to Audrey for everything she put her through, all with unconditional support and care.
  • Damsel in Distress: Celia in 3 during the final battle when Audrey holds her hostage.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Villain Kids. They wear dark outfits, but at the end of the first movie make a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Dating Catwoman: Ben and Mal, even if they weren't enemies themselves. Belle and Beast weren't exactly delighted to hear that Mal dated their son, despite she wasn't the daughter of their very own sworn enemy (though Maleficent is Auradon's most hated enemy).
  • Denser and Wackier: The animated shorts series Wicked World is essentially this, to the point where the series is driven by mostly comedy-driven and zany situations with surreal humor that the characters get themselves involved in. Justified in that each short is two minutes long and thus there isn't that much room for actual conflict. If anything, the humor presented is only good in small amounts.
  • De-Power: Seems to have befallen Jafar, as he's no longer a lamp-bound evil genie as per the end of Aladdin. This is also true of other magic-based villains, due to the effects of the island's barrier.
  • The Ditz: Evie comes off as this in the beginning, having being raised by her mother to marry a prince and be a good housewife. The first film has her grow in realizing that she is capable of more than just being a pretty face. Gil takes up the role in the two sequels, taking after his father Gaston along with being Dumb Muscle in Uma’s henchman crew, though it’s more him being simple-minded instead of outright dumb.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Doug, the son of Dopey, initially, as he becomes attracted to Evie despite her pining after Chad, who's just using her to do his homework. When Chad betrays Evie by stealing her magic mirror and trying to get her expelled for cheating on her chemistry test, Doug supports her by convincing the teacher to let her try to take the test in class without the mirror. When she gets a passing grade, she thanks him for what he did and they become friends.
  • The Dragon: The Evil Queen portrays shades of this for Maleficent as she seems to have been more invested in Maleficent's plan than the other villains. She's also the first villain to agree to Maleficent's plan, just after she does Evie's eyebrows.
  • The Dreaded: Maleficent is considered Auradon's #1 enemy, and the sound of her name strikes fear and terror in everyone's hearts, especially for Audrey's grandma.
  • Dream Intro: The sequel begins with the VKs giving the AKs poison apples which turn them evil...which turns out to be a daydream Mal is having when being interviewed before the Cotillion.
  • Easily Forgiven: In the third film, Audrey is forgiven and gets no punishment for what she did, despite there are Disney villains who committed lesser crimes, and been banished. Even Hades lampshades the fact that Audrey is treated with indulgence because she is an Auradon citizen. Of course, considering that Mal and Ben have deeply wronged her by not once considering how she may have felt about having her boyfriend and future title taken from her (Mal even used magic to steal Ben from her, initially), they may have felt they owed it to her, and Audrey expressed remorse for her actions.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number:
    • The hip-hop a capella rendition of "Be Our Guest".
    • "It's Goin' Down" from the sequel.
    • "My Once Upon a Time" from the threequel.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: 'Bertha' for Mal, and 'Florian' for Ben.
  • End of an Age: The third film ends with Mal deciding to destroy the barrier forever, deciding to let everybody come to the mainland.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The end of the film shows Mal with Glowing Eyes after Maleficent's defeat, saying the story doesn't end there. Ditto for the sequel with Uma.
  • Enemy Mine: Mal, Uma, and their respective VK crew join forces to stop Audrey from destroying Auradon.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: In Descendants 2, Jay points out that one advantage the Isle has over Auradon is that they don't bar girls from doing anything.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Several of them.
    • Mal:
      • One of her ECM comes at the end of "Rotten to the Core". She steals candy from a baby and is happy that Maleficent is pleased - but she's visibly uncomfortable when Maleficent spits on the candy, puts it under her arm and has it returned to the kid. It shows that despite her mom's training, Mal really is a good person.
      • A second one for Mal comes the first time we see her, when she's working on an excellent piece of graffiti depicting her mother. We see that she's really more interested in both her art and making her mother happy than in being evil.
      • A third happens during her first date with Ben when she is singing to herself. The song portrays not only her own self-conflict with her evil upbringing and her inner good nature, but it also arches over to her friends of both their doubts for their parents evil plan and their ideas that maybe being good isn't really so bad, wondering if they should follow their hearts or the desires of their parents.
    • The first thing we find about Ben is that even though he's about to become King, he's more concerned about making the lives of the less fortunate - even the lives of the kids of convicted criminals - better, and his first act as King will be to make that happen. That says a lot about both Ben and his parents (Belle and the Beast), and how they raised him.
    • Jay always talks about acting on his own and "there's no 'team' in I" - but the first thing we see of him is that he's part of a group that he's devoted to.
    • The first time we see Evie - she's walking across an area like a supermodel strutting down a runway. This is a girl who's been taught not only that beauty is the most important thing for a girl, but that one has to use it to get attention whenever possible.
    • In his first appearance, Carlos snatches a painter's rag and a little girl's apple, but tosses the latter back to her without a glance after one bite. His "badness" is petty at worst, and he's got compassion even if he won't face or own up to it.
    • The fearful scattering of people heralds Maleficent's arrival, whereupon she immediately (and continually) chides Mal for "not being good enough" at anything she does.
    • The first time we see the Evil Queen, she's looking in a magic mirror.
    • When we meet Audrey, she's practically super-glued to Ben's arm and doesn't miss a single opportunity to remind the Villain Kids of their own royal status.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Averted with the villains, who, as the "chocolate chip cookies" scene makes it abundantly clear, treat their kids as horribly as they treat most other people and have never once done a single thing to show they care.
    • Played straight with Dr. Facilier in Descendants 3. He and his daughter Celia are shown to be very loving to each other, and all his scenes has him focusing solely on her well-being without any ulterior motives.
    • Downplayed with Lady Tremaine as she seems to have mellowed a bit between the second and third films when she's seeing Dizzy off to Auradon Prep.
    • When his twin sons are about to go to Auradon, Mr. Smee kisses both of their foreheads.
    • Later shown to be a case with Hades; he claims his abandonment of Mal was for the better but it's revealed he truly misses her and comes through twice when she asks him for help, including to help his enemies out.
  • Evil Laugh: As expected in a story about villains. Most notably, Maleficent lets out a sinister cackle at the end of "Evil Like Me".
  • Evil Makeover:
    • Evie, Carlos and Jay give Ben one to sneak him onto the Isle in the second film.
    • Audrey gets one in the third film when she grabs the Scepter.
  • Exact Words:
    • Lonnie isn't allowed into the school's fencing team because the rules say that the only members must be the "captain and eight men." The issue is eventually solved by making her the team's captain and Jay quitting since the rules didn't say anything about the captain also being a man.
    • Audrey states that she never asked for anything that wasn't hers. She then goes on to steal the Queen's crown and Maleficent's scepter.
    • In "Wicked Woods: A Descendants Halloween Story", Jay argues that, the last time he checked, the Villain Kids weren't adults.
  • Extremely Short Timespan:
    • In the sequel, excluding the Daydream Surprise at the start, the movie is over by the end of the third day.
    • The events of the third film take only a week, with a majority of the story confined to a single day.
  • Eye Am Watching You:
    • Maleficent gives this to Mal from her balcony when the kids are leaving for Auradon Prep to remind Mal about fulfill her plan of getting Fairy Godmother's wand.
    • Hades gives this to Ben near the end of 3 at his and Mal's engagement party.
  • The Faceless: Ursula in the sequel. When she comes out to yell at her daughter, the most we get to see of her is a single tentacle.
  • Fairy Tale Free-for-All: By virtue of the franchise taking place in a universe where all the Disney Animated Canon characters — many of which are fairytale characters — exist in the same world. The main characters are the offspring of said characters. For example, Ben is the son of Beauty and the Beast, Mal is the daughter of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, while Evie is the daughter of the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. That said, Disney characters that aren't from fairy tales are present as well, but the fairy tale themes of goodness and Happily Ever After are analyzed.
  • Family Theme Naming: Downplayed. All of the children have a name that's close to their parent's, yet also giving an Aerith and Bob feeling as most of the children fall into the "Bob" category to their parents' "Aerith". For instance, Mal is the daughter of Mal eficent, and Jay is the son of Jafar. This is also true for the hero children, such as Audrey, daughter of Aurora, and Lonnie, daughter of Mulan.
  • Fictional Currency: Played with; Auradonian currency is in Dollars, but payment is in the form of gold coins and jewels.
  • Fictional Sport:
    • Jay is recruited to participate in Tourney, a field sport employing lacrosse sticks and nets, kite shields, and air-cannons that fire projectiles at players crossing a designated "kill zone".
    • The sequel gives us R.O.A.R., which is a combination of acrobatics with fencing.
  • Fille Fatale: Downplayed but Evie has a reputation as a heartbreaker and by her own admission is a flirt.
  • Fingerless Gloves: All four wear them and from the sequel they seem to be standard Isle wear. It helps with their delinquent image.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: The main conflict in the film (and not just for the villains' kids) - will they end up living their parents' lives or make their lives their own?
  • Foreshadowing: Evie's sarcastic comment in "Rotten to the Core" that she "never got no love" foreshadows the later, more serious revelation that she really didn't and neither did any of the other villain kids.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The four villain kids.
    • Mal is Choleric: determined, authoritative and with leading skills.
    • Carlos is Melancholic: analytical, anxious and more at ease with things than with people.
    • Evie is Phlegmatic: shy and passive but also sensible.
    • Jay is Sanguine: charismatic and prone to action but often impulsive.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Several of them, mostly on chalkboards or cameos from classic Disney characters in crowd scenes.
    • If you look carefully during the tourney game, the person in the knight mascot outfit is Jane.
    • In Descendants 2, if you pause at the scene where Mal rides back into the Isle, you can see that Shan Yu has been forced to open up a dim sum restaurant, called "Shan Yu's Dastardly Dim Sum". It must be a special kind of hell to have to sell your sworn enemies' cuisine for a living.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • After Maleficent has frozen the crowd at the coronation, a terrified Chad is seen as he grabs Doug.
    • Judging by the position of Audrey in the same scene, Chad has evidently thrown her aside to grab Doug.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The main Villain Kids, a.k.a. the Core Four, consist of two girls (Mal and Evie) and two boys (Jay and Carlos).
  • Generation Xerox: A major focus of the film, with the children of the villains having to face the prospect of their entire lives based around the deeds of their parents, or being judged because of their deeds. This culminates on Family Day. Mal looks so much like a young Maleficent that Queen Leah has an Oh, Crap! moment upon first meeting her, and when facing Maleficent, Ben seems to channel his father's Beast-side (too bad Maleficent didn't give him a chance). His attempt to redeem the villain kids is compared more than once to what his mother did for his father.
  • Genre Shift:
    • The first film is a heist movie where the four main characters attempt to pull the greatest caper in villain history, though the narrative take a very different turn from there.
    • The second film is along the lines of an action thriller.
    • The third film is a more somber character-driven narrative that also looks back on specific plot elements, such as the implications of the Isle of The Lost, leading up to the climactic Final Battle.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Fairy Godmother suggests Jay and Carlos to use all their energy on the tourney field, they turn down the offer. Cut to them joining the tourney team.
  • Glowing Eyes: Mal's magical abilities manifest this way.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: During the beginning of the third film, Mal claims she knows how villains think and worries about Uma's (who has been missing since the second film) return, believing that she's out for revenge once her crew is back together and Auradon is at it's weakest. When Uma actually returns, she tells them she didn't wait outside the Isle just for petty revenge, but to wait for Mal and her friends to make another mistake and open another hole so that more VKs can come through.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: The film is very blatant about this, even with the descendants. Much of the hero kids are shown wearing bright-toned colors. The Villain Kids wear dark, harsh-toned colors.
  • Good Costume Switch: If noticed throughout the film, during the villain kids' Heel–Face Turn, their clothes slowly decrease in rebellious imaging. Come the coronation and after-party, complete with formal wear, the transition is complete.
  • Good Counterpart: By the end of the second film, Mal has effectively become one to her mother down to the fact that both of them can turn into dragons.
  • Good Feels Good: Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay begin to realize this during their time at Auradon Prep, to the point where they make a Heel–Face Turn because they prefer going to school over plotting evil.
  • Good Is Not Nice: The only characters who are unambiguously nice are Ben, with Doug, Lonnie and Jane coming a close second (Doug and Lonnie's only sin is passiveness after the incident with Queen Leah, and Jane acted uncharacteristically rude towards Mal at Family Day due to pressure to feel accepted), everyone else does morally questionable acts (Audrey, Queen Leah, Beast, and even a little bit of Belle and Fairy Godmother), or are downright mean (Chad), and not only to the "villains".
  • Grand Finale: Subverted. After declaring the gap between Auradon and the Isle forever open, and the inevitable song, the main four VKs return to the bridge and decide to go visit their parents. As Descendants is pretty much Disney Channel's High School Musical of the 2010s, as well as all of its current spin-off material, they can definitely find a way to come back to this universe. Unless, of course, they don't because of Cameron Boyce's death.note 
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Audrey sings it in 3 as she casts the sleeping spell at Jane's birthday party.
  • Harmless Villain:
    • After their opening Villain Song neither Carlos nor Evie really do anything bad.
    • Cruella, Jafar and the Evil Queen are pretty harmless as well. At worst, they're just bad parents and only commit petty crimes, but are otherwise left watching from the sidelines due to their imprisonment on the Isle. The only villain who becomes a serious threat in the end is Maleficent, and she ends up abandoning the other villains when the barrier is broken.
  • Has a Type: Implied but between Jay, the Beast and her mention of Gaston, Maleficent has a thing for well-muscled bad boys. Makes you wonder who Mal's father was. It's Hades.
  • He Who Must Not Be Named: It's revealed in the prequel book that Mal has a human father "known as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named-in-Maleficent's-Presence". He was later revealed to be Hades.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The ultimate end goal of sending the four to the Kingdom's school. It works because what they really needed were good people in their lives.
  • Heist Episode: The bulk of the first installment is this in a fairy tale/fantasy setting. The 4 VKs try to pull off a caper to steal the magic wand and give it to Maleficent. There is planning involved, each character would have a specific role with their unique talents. Standard heist elements were shown, such as hacking and using knockout gas. As one would expect with most caper movies, things don't go smoothly as planned.
  • Hero Academy: Auradon Prep was established to educate a new generation of heroes.
  • Heroes Act, Villains Hinder: Downplayed. In the third film, Auradon was about to be swallowed by dark magic, Mal needed Hades' ember to stop it, and just as Mal predicted, Uma uses this opportunity to reappear and wait for Harry and Gil to escape and then take the ember for herself. However, since Uma wouldn't let Mal have the ember, Mal decides to avoid having a third party in the conflict by bargaining for Uma's help instead, to ensure the Ember makes it to the final battle.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Even Ben sees how Carlos and the campus mutt have bonded, and his defying Cruella (when she wants him to bring the pup to her) is his heroic moment.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jay and Carlos on the male side, Evie and Mal on the female one, given that they act like siblings.
  • High Collar of Doom: Mal and Evie's "signature" outfits and coronation gowns feature high collars that take after their mothers'.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: In the second film Uma and her pirates hold Ben captive so Mal will give them Fairy Godmother's wand in exchange for him.
  • "I Am Becoming" Song: "If Only" is sung by Mal as she realizes she's falling in love with Ben, and begins to question whether she should follow in her mother's footsteps or chart her own path.
  • "I Am" Song:
    • "Rotten to the Core" from Descendants is the Establishing Character Moment for Mal and her friends in song, as they show how rotten they are as they cause havoc on the Isle of the Lost.
    • "What's My Name" from Descendants 2 is essentially Uma's Establishing Character Moment in song, explaining both who she is and what her plans are for revenge.
  • I Choose to Stay: The Villain Kids decide they will stay at Auradon and not complete what they were told to do at the end.
  • I Just Want to Be Beautiful: Jane, the Fairy Godmother's daughter, has crippling self-esteem issues, and wishes that her mother wasn't so True Beauty Is on the Inside-oriented. It almost screws up a lot of shit.
  • Incoming Ham: What did you expect when you cast Glinda (The Kristin Chenoweth version) as Maleficent and when you cast Kathy Najimy as the Evil Queen? Wendy Raquel Robinson as Cruella isn't far behind them either. Descendants 3 later brings in Hades, already a hammy character, played by Cheyenne Jackson.
  • In Memoriam: Although not invoked by name, the third film does contain a tribute to Cameron Boyce both at the beginning and just before the final credits roll.
  • Internal Reveal: In Descendants 3, Mal tells her friends what has already been made known to the audience: Hades is her father. Evie and Celia were already informed of this beforehand, and it's implied that Uma somehow knew given her lack of shock when Mal reveals this, but Ben, Jay, and Carlos certainly didn't, and they (especially Ben) are visibly shocked upon finding out.
  • I Want My Mommy!: In 3, a terrified Chad utters this when the VKs find him in Fairy Cottage.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • While the hostility and discrimination against the Villain Kids is harsh, the wariness towards them isn't unfounded since they are planning to steal the Fairy Godmother's wand for their parents and tried to manipulate Ben and Jane for a chance to do so.
    • Also, Chad is spot-on with his denouncing of Mal for stealing someone's boyfriend and Jay for liking to hurt people. He loses points when he gets to Evie and calls her a "gold-digger", and says nothing about Carlos (though Carlos hadn't done anything wrong so it's more or less justified).
  • Jerkass Realization: Queen Leah has one near the end of the third film, finally apologizing to Mal for blaming her for Maleficent's actions.
  • Just the Way You Are: A major plot point in the sequel, with Mal feeling that she's still too much of an Isle girl to be a good match for Ben. Ben has to prove to her that he loves all of her, even the parts she's not proud of.
  • Large Ham: All of the villains, but Kristin Chenoweth as Maleficent in particular hams it up like it's going out of style. Cheyenne Jackson as Hades also does so in a very intense fashion in the third film.
  • Living Prop: Squirmy and Squeaky, twin sons of Smee, in Descendants 3. They have no significance to the plot, and only have one line, ("I'm hungry!") said together.
  • Loophole Abuse: In Descendants 2, Lonnie is trying to join the school fencing team, but even though Jay respects her skills, he can't let her on because the school rules state that the team must comprise one captain and eight men (a term which is apparently interpreted very strictly in Auradon). Jay gets around it by giving his position to Lonnie, as there is no rule requiring that the captain be male).
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Audrey. She is only a bitch to the villain kids for understandable reasons. The ending gives the impression that she may not be all that bad, and this is confirmed by the prequel novel and later the web series in which she is Vitriolic Best Buds with Mal and Evie. It's also hard to really hate her when it's revealed in the third film that she's under a lot pressure by her grandmother to marry Ben and become the next queen of Auradon.
  • Love Potion: Made into a cookie. Mal uses it on Ben with the desired results. There is an antidote, but the effects are dispelled after a dip in a magic lake. Later in the film, Ben reveals that he knew Mal spelled him and that his feelings are true.
  • Magical Database: Evil Queen bestows her (now compact) magic mirror to Evie to use as this when in Auradon, particularly to find the Fairy Godmother's magic wand.
  • Magic Pants: Literally. Transforming into an animal and back will give clothing to match. Case in point, Mal transforms wearing a more traditional ballgown and then comes back with a completely different (clearly dragon inspired) gown.
  • Makeover Montage: In 2 when Mal visits Dizzy at her salon and gets her hair re-dyed back to purple and wears it in a Hime Cut.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Not only does it have Disney characters' offspring, but we are also treated to appearances by the parents themselves, in some cases. The Wicked World spinoff series improves on this with more characters not seen in the movie itself.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The villain kids make a Love Potion and wonder if the human tear to be used as one of the ingredients really needs to be generated by sadness. When Carlos suggests using onions to force someone to shed tears, Evie offers a scientific explanation to believe it won't be the same thing.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Ben takes his shirt off a couple of times, and it's clear he's been working out.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson spend almost the entire third film in leather/pleather jumpsuits.
  • Mythology Gag: The film features numerous references to the Disney Animated Canon.
    • The design of Maleficent's staff is based off of its 2014 film counterpart.
    • Ben and co. perform a hip-hop remix of "Be Our Guest" during the Family Day celebration.
    • Evie's bag resembles the box that the Evil Queen wanted to use to contain Snow White's heart.
    • When Mal's corset is being laced up at the start of the second film, Mal tells Evie: "Okay, Evie, I cannot breathe", with Evie's actions alluding to the Grimm Brothers' literary version of the evil queen's attempt to kill Snow White with a tightly laced bodice.
    • While admiring Jay's physique, Maleficent mockingly remarks, "Gaston should be jealous."
    • When Doug sees Evie for the first time, he (exasperatedly) utters "Heigh ho..."
    • There are a few instances where Ben roars ferociously, just like the Beast.
    • In the third film, Audrey turns him into an actual beast.
    • Beast is shown to wear glasses, similar to how he wears a pair when he, Belle & Chip presented the award for Best Animated Short at the 64th Academy Awards?
    • Upon seeing a lamp in Jay's hands, Jafar grabs it and rubs it eccentrically (it doesn't work, of course). Clearly, he's still a little crazy when it comes to magic lamps and genies.
    • In one scene, Fairy Godmother teaches a special class for the VKs. The answers to her multiple choice questions allude to their parents' past exploits (cutting out Snow White's heart, cursing Aurora, etc.)
    • Maleficent crashes the coronation uninvited, dramatic entrance and all, just like in Sleeping Beauty.
    • So does Audrey in the third film when she crashes Jane birthday's party. The irony of Aurora and Phillip's daughter acting similarly to Maleficent is just too perfect.
    • The number on Carlos's tournament jersey is 101.
    • Ben's middle name is "Florian". That's one of the alleged names of Snow White's Prince.
    • The opposing team in the tourney match are the Sherwood Falcons.
    • The third film reveals that Mal's father is Hades, signifying that he and Maleficent were an item in the past. A relationship between the two characters was previously hinted at in ''House of Mouse'.
    • At the end of the third film, Audrey is vanquished and fall in a deep sleep, just like her mother. She was also drawn to Maleficent's scepter like how her mother was drawn to the spinning wheel.
    • Asked by Dr. Facilier what her "hustle" is with the AKs, Celia answers "No hustle. I've got friends on the other side", a reference to Facilier's Villain Song.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: The third movie features Audrey Invoking it in "Queen of Mean":
    Being nice was my past time
    But I've been hurt for the last time
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The "The Reason You Suck" Speech the Villain Kids get at Family Day from the "good guys" makes them want to continue with their parents' plan after already abandoning it.
  • Not Brainwashed: When Ben sees Evil Audrey in the third film, he first believes she is under a bad spell. Actually not: she became a villain willingly, though not without reason.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Descendants 3 has destroyed the Status Quo when Mal brings down the barrier once and for all, and lets the Isle citizens on Auradon.
  • Not So Different: The villains are...villainous, but the Heroes and their children are prone to acting holier-than-thou, which leads to refusing to forgive or look beyond face value. Descendants 3 finally addresses this, showing that good and evil can come from anybody no matter which side of the barrier, and can come from within.
  • Official Couple: Ben and Mal, who begin dating in the first film and become engaged in the third film, much to Audrey's dismay.
  • Oh, Crap!: Mal's reaction when she finds out she's speaking to Queen Leah, Aurora's mother who finds out who Mal is, and it goes south from there.
  • Overnight Age-Up: In 3, Mal is briefly turned into an old hag by Audrey.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Mal's side of It's Going Down, since she isn't so much rapping as talking in time to the music. Uma's side comes off much better.
  • Princess Protagonist: The setting is filled with royalty, so this is a given. It's played with in Evie's case that she has the traits of a princess, and even claims to be one, but on Auradon, she's just another Villain Kid. Fortunately, Audrey's around to pick up the princessly slack among the main cast. Mal, as First Lady of The Court, is recognized as a princess after the second film.
  • Prolonged Prologue: 3 has this, with seven whole minutes passing (song included) before the title finally appears.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Chad and Doug are the only Auradon kids who have not appeared in Wicked World, done to make room for new characters. Dude the dog also doesn't appear.
    • Audrey is the only AK who does not appear in the sequel. The Evil Queen, Jafar and Cruella are also absent from the film.
    • After having a major appearance in 2, Lonnie is the only AK who does not appear in the threequel. She does appear in archive footage, however.
  • Race Lift: Done to match the ethnicities of some the actors and actresses portraying the descendants.
    • Cruella was white in 101 Dalmatians; here, she is black.
    • Aurora's family is black here, whereas they were white in Sleeping Beauty.
    • Lady Tremaine, also originally white in her respective film, is portrayed as Asian here.
  • Rampage from a Nail: Beast-Ben's aggressive behavior turns out to be due to a large thorn in his palm. Carlos calms him down and removes the thorn, after which Beast-Ben is no longer violent, albeit still animalistic.
  • Reality Ensues: Crops up in Descendants 2: Ben picking only four Villain Kids to be invited to Auradon means that there were a lot of kids who didn't get picked and some of them aren't happy about being left out. Ben notes that he did intend to invite more, but he got so caught up in being king that he forgot.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Queen Leah and Chad deliver these back-to-back to the Villain Kids on Family Day under the belief that they're evil like their parents.
    • Uma in Descendants 2 gives one to Ben while he’s her hostage, explaining the general, awful conditions of having to grow up on the Isle and why she’s so mad at him and the Core Four VKs for forgetting about the other VKs left behind and not making actual changes for the rest of them.
  • Repetitive Audio Glitch: In 3 when Mal and Celia sneak into Hades' lair and hear a dog barking, it eventually loops repeatedly and it's revealed to come out of a record playing on a phonograph.
  • Retired Monster: There are a number of villains on the Isle implied to have been as bad as they were in their respective Disney films prior to their imprisonment in the Isle of the lost, who on one hand don't care as much for the good of Auradon, but no longer have motivation for revenge and villainy after spending a long time on the Isle. This is true for villains like Dr. Facilier, who has a good relationship with Celia, but still encourages her to "get her cut" and has his own business to make ends meet, Lady Tremaine, who is still acts rather stoic and apathetic, and Hades, who does nothing but gripe about his Glory Days as a god, and has very much given up after his last attempt to escape and wreak havoc, and resigned himself to the fact that it's futile, even though he's let out twice. Even Jafar and Evil Queen don’t seem to care much about revenge or being rulers anymore, as they act pretty passive about Maleficent’s plans for the magic wand, and their goals for their kids, while notably self-centered, don't involve anything that would be considered “villainy” note ; in fact they can be fairly doting towards Jay and Evie compared to Maleficent and Cruella's parenting styles.
  • Royal School: Auradon's prep fits much of the requirements; notably some students are royals because their parents were, and princesses are one of the popular groups in the spin-off web series School of secrets.
  • Running Gag: The VKs eating Jane's birthday cake in Descendants 3.
  • Sassy Black Woman: You never physically see her in Descendants 2, but it's clear that Ursula (appropriately voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) is this around her daughter.
    Ursula: Shut your clams! These dishes ain't gonna wash themselves!
  • Secret Test of Character: When Mal tried to save Ben in the enchanted lake, even though she can't swim (and he wasn't in any danger). With his head clear (after the lake washed away Mal's love spell), he saw her for who she really was.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The royal families left children of villains to rot on the Isle of the Lost with their parents because they believed Evil was In the Blood, but abandoning them to live in a Wretched Hive where all they learn is how to be cruel and corrupt is what made them rotten more than any other factor.
  • Sequel Hook:
    • At the end of the final number, Mal's voiceover says the story doesn't end there, complete with Glowing Eyes and mischievous smile.
    • Returns in Descendants 2, with Uma saying the same line verbatim. It also has plot lines set up for a potential next film, as Evie and Ben are working to bring more VKs into Auradon to help them.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Some Leg:
    • After Lonnie gets her hair done by Mal, she tears a slit in her skirt to complete the image she wants.
      Lonnie: Now I'm cool.
      Mal: Like ice.
    • Jane also tears her skirt - and immediately freaks out.
      Jane: What did I just do? Mom's gonna kill me!
  • Signature Style: If you've seen a music-oriented DCOM in the past decade, then you can see the fingerprints of Kenny Ortega on this film. If "Rotten to the Core" didn't tip you off, "Evil Like Me" all but shouts out Ortega's name.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Did I Mention", the song Ben sings after being affected by Mal's love spell and shows his love for her is indeed ridiculous.
  • Softer and Slower Cover: "Did I Mention" returns in 3 with a slower, more romantic version as Ben expresses his love for Mal just before he proposes to her.
  • Spin-Offspring: The major characters are the children of Disney Animated Canon heroes and villains.
  • Spiritual Successor: No doubt this DCOM is one to High School Musical, as it is music oriented, and is also directed by Kenny Ortega.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: Mal has a staring contest with her own mother, Maleficent, twice throughout the film. The second time, she's staring down Dragon Maleficent.
  • Stealth Pun: Jane. Her background is that she's very shy, wears simple clothing, has no special talents (that we know of), and all she wants to be is as pretty as the other girls. In other words, she's Plain Jane. This is hilariously lampshaded in Wicked World. Being told that true beauty is on the inside shows that her mother is somewhat out of touch with how teenage kids think about their looks.
  • Sticky Fingers: Jay's principle vice is his love of stealing.
    Mal: (to Jay) What are you doing?
    Jay: It's called stealing. It's like buying whatever I want, except it's free.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: In Wicked World, even after they have defected to Good, the VKs wear their dark, edgy, studded fashions. By Descendants 2, Mal is being pressured into dressing like a girly Princess, while Evie, Jay and Carlos still have their villain-inspired clothes.
  • Story Book Opening: More of a tablet computer opening, but Mal narrates the introduction explaining the origins of Auradon, how the Isle of the Lost became to be, and how the kids of the most notorious Disney villains wound up in the heroic Auradon.
  • Stop Motion: Used for the franchise's two "seasonal" shorts, A Rotten Holiday and Wicked Woods.
  • Suddenly Speaking:
    • In Descendants 2, Dude the dog gains the ability to speak after taking a snack of Mal's truth serum.
    • Squeaky and Squirmy in Descendants 3 are silent for most of the film, except when they say "I'm hungry" after Audrey is defeated.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Mal's basic reaction to Ben's assumption that she gave him the love potion because she had a crush on him but didn't trust that it could happen on its own because he was with Audrey at the time.
  • Sweet Tooth: The Villain Kids all show this, with Jay and Carlos being the most enthusiastic as seen when the limo they’re riding in from the Isle comes stocked with various candies. The Isle residents are fed literal unfresh scrap food and therefore none of them have never had tasted any kind of sugary foods before.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Lonnie feels this for the Villain Kids when she learns that their parents don't take care of them like other kids' parents do.
  • Team Normal: Cruella is this to the rest of the villains, by virtue of being the only one of the group never to possess or indulge in magic prior to her banishment.
  • Time-Passage Beard: In Descendants 3, both Doug and Chad have noticeably longer hair, to show how much time has passed.
  • Tired After The Song: After singing "Did I Mention?", Ben appears out of breath and sweaty. Justified because he'd been dancing on a sports field after a game and he was wearing a heavy jersey and padding.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Chad Charming. He's on the Heroes' side, but he's more of a smug jerk than evil.
  • Token Good Teammate: Jafar is the least abusive of the villainous parents, even giving Jay some encouragement before he travels to Auradon.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Strawberries for Mal after she has them for the first time during her date with Ben (not much fresh fruit on the Isle of The Lost). For Carlos and Jay (but especially Carlos), it's chocolate.
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • There are a few scenes that the trailer takes out of context, most notably the scene where Mal casts a spell to undo Jane's hair. The trailer presents it as Mal simply messing with another student out of spite, but in the film, Mal merely returns Jane's hair to the way it was before she enchanted it and only because she's in a bad mood after Jane makes fun of her. There's also a scene in the trailer that's left out of the film: when the Evil Queen plucks Evie's eyebrows and tells her 'Beauty is pain'.
    • This could also be the case for "Where is Evie?" Disney made everyone think it was a big event, but it turned out to be a music video for the Wicked World show.
    • The trailers for 3 made it look like Hades was the villain of the film when he only plays a crucial part in helping Mal. The true villain is Audrey. Also, the scene with Audrey in bed is used for the news report of the sleeping spell when really, she was the one who cast the spell and she fainted after returning to normal after the final battle.
    • Like with Hades, other Descendants 3 trailers played up Uma’s return and revenge and new VK Celia as possible villains responsible for the sleeping spell. Not only are they not the antagonists, Celia is a valuable ally and more of a Nice Girl compared to most of the other VKs (and Auradon kids), and while Uma does provide some conflict for Mal, her first scene ends with her crew forming an Enemy Mine with the Core Four to figure out who spelled Auradon.
  • True Companions: The protagonists. At first it looks like they barely tolerate each other, mocking, teasing and stealing from each other. Then you realize it's because they are comfortable with each other and see themselves basically as siblings (with Mal and Evie even calling each other sisters). They are quick to share and show new stuff to each other (sweets, games, sports) and are quick to defend each other as they need (in Family Day and in the final battle). From the second film onward Lonnie, Doug, and Jane are part of their circle, such that the former two end up being disgusted that Ben supposedly did Mal dirty by choosing Uma, and were willing to leave the scene if Mal so chooses.
  • True Love's Kiss: At some point in the second film, Evie and Mal discuss the trope, saying it works every time. A Foreshadowing to the ball scene, when Mal manages to take a under love spell Ben back to his senses thanks to a kiss. It's also utilized in the third film, when Evie finds Doug under Audrey's sleeping spell, and must come to terms with her first kiss, thanks, in no part, to a musical number.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • Uma's revenge as the Big Bad in Descendants 2 stems from her anger at those in Auradon for not making any actual changes for the rest of the other VKs on the Isle after the Core Four VKs were brought over, despite it being presumed that this would be a regular occurrence. She has to spell it out for Ben when she takes him hostage, which he acknowledges that it was his initial plan that he failed to follow up on. And while her anger at Mal (and Evie, Jay and Carlos by extent) is also partly personal, she isn't wrong about them seeming to forget about their lives on the Isle and not advocating for changes either. Indeed, it took the Core Four traveling back to the Isle for them to remember the awful conditions and realize they couldn't ignore that part of their lives anymore, instead using their new privileges as a way to help others.
    • Hades makes one when he's brought over from the Isle to use his ember to save Audrey, who has fallen under a deep sleep after she is defeated. He lampshades the fact that they need him to help them, his enemies, and how Audrey is treated with indulgence because she is an Auradon citizen despite actively trying to destroy Auradon, to which no one has a rebuttal. He still helps but out of reluctance solely because of his daughter Mal's request.
      Hades: Since when do heroes care about villains?
      Ben: She's —
      Hades: One of your own... Right. When you guys try to destroy the world... it's an error in judgment. But when it's one of us... lock them up and throw away the key. Right, Beast?
  • Villainous Badland, Heroic Arcadia: The Isle of the Lost is a dingy, bleak, almost shantytown-like place where the air is filled with smog 24/7 and where the villains of the Disney canon were sent to after their defeats (even if they canonically died; yes, it's odd). Compared to that is the United Kingdom of Auradon, a lush, sunny and pristine area like you would expect out of a fairy tale, where the heroes and their descendants live.
  • Villain Protagonist: The ragtag team of the villains' children are this, with Mal as their leader, plotting to help their evil parents take over Auradon.
  • Villain Song:
    • Appropriately, Rotten to the Core — the first film's opening number.
    • Maleficent also gets a Broadway-esque showstopper called Evil Like Me. Fitting, since she's played by Broadway veteran Kristin Chenoweth.
    • Although more of an Establishing Character Moment, What's My Name? is the second film is this for Uma, as well as China Anne McClain's end credits cover of Poor Unfortunate Souls.
    • In the third film, there are two. The first, Queen of Mean, goes to Audrey, who, after stealing the crown and scepter, goes on a vengeful rampage throughout Auradon. The second, Do What You Gotta Do, is performed by Hades and Mal as Mal has to ask her father for his ember, the one thing that can stop Audrey's evil magic.
  • The stage adaptation includes new villain songs, and recontextualizes other songs:
    • Rotten to the Core (Parent's Revenge) has the main lead's parents singing their hopes of taking over the world.
    • Ways To Be Wicked (Preprise) has the main 4 planning on using the love spell on Ben.
    • Ways To Be Wicked is turned into an Angry Mob Song lead by Audrey and Chad.
    • Evil Like Me (Reprise 2) is sung by a newly freed Maleficent in the climax.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • All Mal wants is for Maleficent to be proud of her. It's what drives her throughout the film to get Fairy Godmother's Wand, no matter the cost.
    • The third film reveals Audrey was a bit of one too. After Ben proposes to Mal, Queen Leah chides her for Ben breaking up with her because she was raised with the goal for her to marry Ben so their family would regain a higher royal status.
  • Wham Line: The ''Descendants 3'' teaser mostly consists of Mal walking towards a blue flame (representing Hades, who ultimately ends up being something of a Hero Antagonist). It ends with the flame hissing Mal's name, and Mal responding with:
    (shocked) "Dad?"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Mal is shown punching air holes in a box to take her mom, still stuck as a lizard back to the Isle, but we never see Maleficent after that scene. It's not even clear whether she was still on the Isle or not afterwards. It's later revealed in the fourth novel that Mal has absolutely no idea where her mother is, now.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Descendants 3 all the accompanying VKs give one to Mal when she lied about promising all the kids from the Isle would get to come to Auradon and that the proposal to permanently close the barrier due to looming possibilities of Villains coming through was her idea. Uma, Harry, and Celia just solemnly express their disappointment in trusting her while Evie tearfully calls her out not only explaining that they’re breaking their promise and responsibility to create actual change to help the other Isle kids but also that she lied to her, Jay, and Carlos, since they all consider each other as a family. Ben’s silence throughout all this can count as well, compared to all the other times he’s come to Mal’s defense, as he wasn’t happy with the idea to close the barrier in the first place, and there's nothing in what Evie says that he can disagree with.
  • White Sheep: The villain kids (and especially Mal). Inverted in the case of Princess Audrey and Chad, as they're also nothing like their parents (in terms of personality), though the former at least has a more sympathetic angle to her behavior.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Thanks to Cruella, Carlos is terrified of dogs. He gets better once he gets to know one.
  • Wicked Witch: Mal and her mother, Maleficent, of course, Mal isn't all that wicked in the end. The Evil Queen is also this, though, her wickedness isn't seen as much here as it was in the original.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Evie has, well, blue hair. Mal's is purple, and magenta for most of the sequel, and gains blue highlights in the threequel. The antagonist of 2, Uma, has blue and sea-foam green hair. Hades, in 3, has his signature blue hair, and Audrey gains pink hair with blue underdye when she undergoes an Evil Makeover.
  • Young Love Versus Old Hate: One of the major themes: the heroes and villains hate each other, but thanks to Ben, the children of both factions unite.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Descendants 2, Descendants 3

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Mal vs Maleficent

Mal stares down her mother Maleficent and uses a spell which defeats her and turns her into a lizard.

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