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"To think six years ahead — even two or three — in this business of making animated cartoon features, it takes calculated risk and much more than blind faith in the future of theatrical motion pictures. I see motion pictures as a family-founded institution closely related to the life and labor of millions of people. Entertainment such as our business provides has become a necessity, not a luxury... it is the part which offers us the greatest reassurance about the future in the animation field."

Promoted by Disney as the Disney Animated Classics, the animated feature films produced by their main feature animation studio, currently known as Walt Disney Animation Studios, has a long history.

In 1937, Walt Disney released the first feature-length animated film in the English-speaking world and the first feature film made completely with hand-drawn animation. However, it wasn't, as many claim, the first feature-length animated film ever. Foreign examples predating Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and using other kinds of animation include Argentina's The Apostle (combining hand-drawn with cutout animation) in 1917, Germany's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (done with silhouette animation) in 1926, and The Soviet Union's The New Gulliver (done with Stop Motion) in 1935.

This category does not include productions from Walt Disney Animation's sister studios Pixar and Blue Sky, nor does it include every animated feature released by Disney (such as the Direct to Video Sequels and other films created by Disneytoon Studios, Studio Ghibli dubs, animated films made under a different Disney banner such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, which was made under Touchstone Pictures, or animated films distributed by Disney but produced by non-Disney studios). There don't seem to be any hard-and-fast rules as to which movies get to be part of the canon and which don't, but generally, the canon films are made by the Disney feature animation unit (live-action/animation hybrids like Song of the South and Mary Poppins tend not to count unless the animation is the bulk of the film, as in The Three Caballeros, Fun and Fancy Free or Melody Time). The Other Wiki has a set of lists for both the canon and non-canon films.


See also Disneytoon Studios, Disney Princess, Enchanted (an Affectionate Parody of Disney's own films), Kingdom Hearts, a video game series which also seems to follow the rule of only using canonical characters from nearly all of these films (and then some!), or House of Mouse which represents almost every canonical movie up to 2001 with at least a cameo appearance. Once Upon a Time is a live-action fairy tale series shown on Disney-owned ABC, with versions of the fairy tale characters heavily and obviously indebted to the Disney animated film versions. Descendants is a similar all-DAC crossover Disney Channel Original Movie, featuring the offspring of classic Disney characters in a live-action musical. The Disney Live-Action Remakes refers to a series of films that remake DAC films in live-action format.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Nightmare Before Christmas were both produced and released by Disney under its Touchstone Pictures banner (the latter's 3D re-releases were under the Disney banner). Compare the works of former Disney animator Don Bluth, as well as the two feature length animated films made by Fleischer Studios.

For notable Disney staff, go here.

The list of all the films in the canon (plus upcoming films, related franchises, cancelled films, and live-action remakes) can be found on this Recap page.

All of them have been pitted together in a competitive tournament-style poll as the subject of the podcast Mouse Madness.

Tropes common to the Disney Animated Canon:

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  • Adaptational Alternate Ending:
    • Bambi: In the book Bambi spends more and more time with his mentor and parent-figure the Great Old Prince of the Forest. He in turn becomes distant from everyone and loses interest in his mate Faline. Bambi ends up becoming much like the Great Prince, a distant and aloof buck. In the film there is a fire where Bambi's father, the Great Prince of the Forest (a younger Composite Character of the book character and Bambi's sire), helps him and his new doe Faline escape. Both the book and film end with Bambi and Faline having twins, however in the book Bambi is absent in their life just like a real deer. The film also excluded the part where Bambi sees the body of a dead hunter and the part where Faline's Adapted Out brother comes back and gets shot. Curiously the sequel to the novel Bambi's Children retconned the original book's ending anyway, with Bambi turning out to be closer and more sentimental towards Faline and his children after all (though Disney never adapted the second book into film, their Comic-Book Adaptation expectedly follows the same tracks).
    • Peter Pan: Unlike the original novel and play, the Lost Boys don't go back to London with Wendy, John and Michael, Captain Hook and Smee both survive, and there is no Time Skip to when Wendy is an adult with a daughter named Jane. Said time skip is moved to the sequel.
    • Fun and Fancy Free: The original "Little Bear Bongo" short story by Sinclair Lewis does feature a happy ending, but is still more cynical and violent. Notably, Bongo never becomes accepted by the other bears, his beloved rejects him for Lumpjaw, and the happy ending comes from another circus troupe finding him and re-introducing him to civilization. In the movie, the other bears and his beloved accept him.
    • The book The Fox and the Hound ends with a full blown Downer Ending where Tod and both of his mates and his kits all die, and Copper gets shot in the head by the unnamed hunter so he doesn't have to abandon him when he's taken to a nursing home. The Disney adaptation alters it into a Bittersweet Ending where Tod, his mate Vixie, and Copper survive, but are forced to go their separate ways.
    • In The Little Mermaid, the mermaid gets to marry the prince and live Happily Ever After. In the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, she dies after refusing to kill the prince, and becomes an air spirit.
    • If The Lion King (1994), as it commonly is, is taken as an adaptation of Hamlet, then the equivalents of Hamlet himself (Simba), Ophelia (Nala), Gertrude (Sarabi), Polonius (Zazu), and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Timon and Pumbaa) all live, whereas the play has them all die in the end.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame heavily changes the ending of the story — in the original Victor Hugo novel, both Esmeralda and Quasimodo die; in the Disney version, they both survive, Esmeralda marries Phoebus and Quasimodo gets accepted by the society. Interestingly, the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation of the Disney movie brings back the Downer Ending.
    • Hercules completely changes the ending. In the original myths, Herakles dies, but after Philoctetes lit his funeral pyre, he ascended to godhood on Mount Olympus and stayed there. The Disney movie changes it to where Hercules earns his godhood by saving Meg from Hades and is allowed to come home to Olympus — but Hercules, who realizes Meg can't join him there, willingly gives up his godhood so that he can stay with Meg.
    • Fantasia 2000: In the original Hans Christian Andersen story The Steadfast Tin Soldier, both the Tin Solider and the Ballerina he loves die in a fireplace. In the adaptation for Fantasia 2000, they both live. The main reason for this change in the Disney adaptation is because the writers of the film actually did not want to cause any Soundtrack Dissonance considering the fact that the musical piece accompanying this scene is an optimistic-sounding one.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the original The Adventures of Pinocchio book, Pinocchio is typically depicted as being a lanky, goofy looking puppet. The Disney adaptation initially planned to use this, but animator Milt Kahl helped redesign the character to look cuter, and it stuck. Jiminy Cricket (unnamed in the original story) also went through this, going from looking like an actual bug to what can be described as a tiny man with an egg shaped head and no ears—like with Pinoc, they had initially tried to stick closer to making him look like an actual bug, but none of them could figure out how to make it appealing.
    • In The Black Cauldron, Gurgi is changed from a hideous gorilla-like monster in the original books to a cute badger-like animal.
    • While not attractive, Quasimodo from Disney's version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is upgraded from hideous to Ugly Cute. Presumably, if they added the little details of how ugly he is, it would be a pain on the animators, and would have scared the children in a movie that's already pretty dark to begin with.
    • In the original Big Hero 6 comics, Baymax was a monstrous-looking robot. In the movie, he is a Cute Machine. And while Hiro Takachiho wasn't ugly in the comics, Hiro Hamada is designed to look more adorable.
  • Adaptational Comic Relief:
    • The Jungle Book was intended to be Lighter and Softer than the book it was based on. Baloo became a fun-loving character who has a scatting duel with an orangutan, rather than a serious law teacher. Most of the other characters underwent a similar evolution (with the possible exception of Shere Khan).
    • The Genie in Aladdin becomes a Fun Personified, cartoony character in contrast to the original story, where he was basically just a magical prop character for Aladdin to use.
    • Big Hero 6 has three examples: Baymax in the comics was built by Hiro to act as his bodyguard. Movie!Baymax is a gentle and naive acrofatic healthcare robot who was built by Hiro's Canon Foreigner brother, Tadashi. Wasabi No Ginger goes from a quiet, disciplined warrior to a neurotic plasma engineer with Super OCD. Fred goes from The Stoic to a Fun Personified, Plucky Comic Relief character.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • All of the fairy tale-based films fall under this by default, as the original fairy tales are typically rather short and simplistic, requiring a good amount of character and plot expansion to stretch them out to an hour and half. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs padded out its length with several dwarf-centric scenes, Sleeping Beauty greatly expanded the roles of the fairies and gave the prince something to do other than be lucky enough to be standing in front of the thorns just as the century-long spell expired, Tangled has Rapunzel spend more time outside her tower than inside it for the film's running time, etc.
    • Dumbo was based on a very short (thirty-six pages) children's book. Even with a decent amount of padding, the final film clocks in at only sixty-four minutes.
    • Meet the Robinsons added a whole time travel plot around the children's story A Day With Wilbur Robinson. The second act, where Lewis meets the Robinson family and looks for Grandpa's teeth, is the only part of the movie that's actually in the book.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • The Enchantress from Beauty and the Beast is a curious example. In the original tale, she was a wicked fairy who cursed the prince for no good reason. The film has her curse the prince after he refuses her shelter and shows himself to be selfish. While not presented as a heroic character, her spell served to teach the prince about love rather than anything malicious. Still pretty callous though in regards to the servants and castle staff who got transformed into sentient housewares because they happened to work for a guy who needed to learn a lesson about being selfish.
    • Captain Phoebus from The Hunchback of Notre Dame is transformed from a dishonest cad to a genuinely heroic figure, being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at worst.
    • In Tarzan, Kerchak is deeply suspicious of the title character, but only because he considers him a potential threat. Other than that, he's a heroic figure and good leader. In the original books, on the other hand, he was a straight-up Killer Gorilla who was responsible for the death of Tarzan's father.
    • Rapunzel's parents in Tangled. The father steals lettuce from a witch's garden in the original tale, simply because his pregnant wife had a craving for them. They also disappear from the story and never seem to bother about the whereabouts of the daughter they gave up. In the film, the mother is dying. And rather than knowingly stealing from the witch, they find a golden flower that the witch had been using to make herself young. And the witch kidnaps the baby. Rapunzel is also reunited with her parents at the end — and they're implied to have been searching for her all her life.
    • Elsa the Snow Queen from Frozen is Not Evil, Just Misunderstood, instead of the Designated Villain from the original tale.
    • Big Hero 6: GoGo Tomago. Her comic counterpart was a criminal who was forced into the team to avoid imprisonment. In the film, she is a noble and kind Action Girl who willingly joined the team.
    • Fagin from Oliver & Company. In the original Oliver Twist novel, Fagin was an abusive criminal leader who forced children to steal for him. In the Disney adaptation, he takes the same criminal leader role with the dog pack, but is a Benevolent Boss and a rather desperate character who only enforces criminal pursuits to avoid the wrath of Sykes, the loan shark whom he's debted to. He ends up pulling a Heel–Face Turn for Oliver's sake during the climax, even if he remains something of a Loveable Rogue.
    • Silver of Treasure Planet is a far more sympathetic character than in the original book Treasure Island, saving Jim out of love rather than necessity. His surrogate father-figure traits are also played up.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Beauty and the Beast: In the original tale, the Beast was never a bad guy to begin with. He is seen to be kind-hearted for the most part, and gentleman-like, with only an occasional tendency to be hot-tempered. In the Disney version, he starts out as an antagonist and outright Jerkass who is always angry, and only becomes good after Character Development.
    • Big Hero 6: In the comics, Hiro Takachiho is an Ordinary High-School Student. At the start of the animated movie, Hiro Hamada partakes in illegal bot-fights before his brother shows him around his school.
    • The Sword in the Stone: In the original book, both Sir Ector (Wart's foster father) and Kay (his older half-brother) were much more shaded and sympathetic in personality. Ector's Jerk with a Heart of Gold qualities were much more clear—he was stern towards Wart and Kay, but not mean, and he truly cared for their welfare and actually wanted Wart to have a tutor to educate him, and was even proud of him well before he pulled out the sword, and not to mention Ector was on much better terms with Merlin, to the point where he was as distraught to see him leave as Wart. Kay could act like a jerk, but he had a justifiable reason, since he suffered from an inferiority complex and Sibling Rivalry with Wart. The Disney adaptation throws out most of their sympathetic qualities and plays up their flaws in turn—Ector is almost a 180 in personality, becoming a bossy, demanding and judgmental disciplinarian who is against Wart being educated because it would mess up his rigid schedule, while Kay is reduced to a one dimensional bully who hates Wart for no good reason.
    • Tangled: In the original tale, "the prince" (who Flynn is based on) was the stereotypical heroic character. Here, he is a selfish anti-heroic thief, but becomes less selfish after spending time with Rapunzel and steps up to true blue heroism.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Pinocchio: Pinocchio was still the hero in the original, but was altered from a Bratty Half-Pint to a more innocent and merely easily misguided Cheerful Child. Geppetto is a milder example. He was similarly altered from a bad-tempered, antisocial crank to a kindhearted character who genuinely wants a son of his own — and something of a badass to boot.
    • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: In the original The Wind in the Willows story, Mr. Toad was in fact guilty of stealing the car. The Disney adaptation changes it so that Toad, eccentric as he is, was framed for it and has to clear his name.
    • In the original stories and plays by J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan was one of The Fair Folk and came off as a Sociopathic Hero — he didn't show much concern for his "friends," took nightmarish pleasure in killing pirates, and even murdered Lost Boys just for growing up (or to make a battle against the pirates more interesting). The Disney version, understandably, left out this aspect of Peter.
    • Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh went from a snarky and self-centered Jerkass in the books to a forlorn sweetheart who just needs a hug in the Disney films and associated media. Although, he is still mostly a Deadpan Snarker.
    • Aladdin: Aladdin is a great deal more ruthless and unscrupulous in the original tale.
    • Hercules: By modern standards, the Hercules of Greek Myth wasn't exactly a paragon of heroic virtue. He killed more than one innocent person simply for being too close when his temper got the better of him (although he was always remorseful when this happened), and he would go stage a HUGE war for a mere verbal insult one day, although he did go to great lengths to help his friends and his deeds did the world a lot of good. The Hercules in this movie is a wide eyed boy scout who doesn't have much, if any, vices. The worst thing he does is lash out at Phil for trying to warn him about Meg being in league with Hades, but he immediately comes to regret that. Also, Hera is presented as Hercules's loving mother. In the myths, she was not his mother and did not like him one bit — it was her that made Herc go mad and murder his wife. The film omits that plot entirely and gives Adaptational Villainy to Hades. And anyone who knows their Greek myth knows that Zeus is a self-righteous, womanizing jerk and rapist. Here, he's pretty much a cross between Grandpa God and Bumbling Dad who certainly loves Hercules and stays loyal with Hera, making his status as a Top God of Mt. Olympus and Big Good of the series a lot more plausible.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: While still a heroic character, book Quasimodo was much more asocial and inclined to violence, displaying a softer side only toward Frollo and Esmeralda due to them being the only human beings to treat him somewhat decently. This incarnation pretty much is a Nice Guy with no resentment​ or animosity toward anyone.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Some characters in Disney's adaptations of a story have their personalities completely overhauled:
    • In The Jungle Book (1967), Baloo and Bagheera essentially switch personalities (Baloo was a Stern Teacher and Bagheera was a laid-back friend in the book), Kaa becomes a clownish villain rather than a wise mentor for Mowgli, and Shere Khan is turned from a Smug Snake to a Faux Affably Evil villain.
    • In The Little Mermaid, the eponymous mermaid and one of her sisters change personalities — the most distinguishing traits of Andersen's heroine were that she was thoughtful, quiet, and pensive (quite unlike Ariel), and one of her sisters is actually said to be by far the most daring and boldest of the family (quite like Ariel). Also, the Sea Witch becomes a cunning, dishonest, power-hungry villain who tricks Ariel into signing a contract with her, rather than the neutral character in the original tale who warns the mermaid of the consequences of her magic.
    • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, compared to their book counterparts, Quasimodo is much more gentle, Esmeralda is smarter and less naive, and Phoebus is more heroic, with his womanizer tendencies dropped. Meanwhile, Frollo gets Adaptational Villainy and loses all his redeeming traits (which are given to an original character, the Archdeacon of Notre-Dame).
    • In Tarzan, Kerchak is a stern, but benevolent leader of the apes, rather than the violent, abusive character he is in the books.
    • In Chicken Little, Foxy Loxy gets downgraded to a schoolyard Barbaric Bully as opposed to a Big Bad out to fan the flames of paranoia for a free meal.
  • Adaptation Species Change:
    • Bambi: The novel's Bambi was a roe deer in (presumably) Austria, but Disney made Bambi a white-tailed deer in Maine because the latter species was more familiar to American audiences.
    • In the original Peter Pan, Nana is a Newfoundland, but in the Disney adaptation, she is a Saint Bernard.
    • In the original Basil of Baker Street books, Professor Ratigan was implied to have been a mouse. In The Great Mouse Detective, his species is changed to a rat to be more in line with his last name.
    • In Edgar Rice Burroughs original Tarzan stories, Sabor was a lioness, but in Disney's Tarzan, she was changed to a leopardess—since lions don't live in the jungle, this was a largely pragmatic change. Also, the apes Tarzan lived with weren't gorillas, but a fictional species of ape (or hominid?) called mangani. The mangani were mortal enemies of the bolgani (the mangani's blanket term for gorillas).
    • In The Snow Queen, the titular queen is heavily implied to be of The Fair Folk. In Frozen, Elsa is a human who was born with the ability to create and manipulate ice and snow.
  • Adaptation Title Change:
  • Adaptational Ugliness:
    • The original illustrations for The Hundred and One Dalmatians show Cruella De Vil as an elegant yet cold-hearted beauty. The Disney version turns her into a wild-haired harridan with a corpse-like face.
    • In the original The Chronicles of Prydain novels, Fflewddur Fflam the bard is a 30-year-old man who is described as handsome, if unkempt. In the Disney adaptation, Fflam is an unattractive man in his 50s with a potbelly.
    • Downplayed in Moana: Maui in Polynesian Mythology is described as being a thin, lithe, handsome teenager on the verge of manhood that usually has his hair tied back in a neat topknot or ponytail. The movie portrays him as a massive, muscular adult with a head of thick, wild hair. However, his broad, round face, big nose, bigger mouth, heavy brow, sloped forehead and small, piggish eyes, makes him rather weird-looking.
  • Adaptational Villainy: A lot of their movie adaptations tend to do this to characters from their original stories;
    • Pinocchio: The puppeteer from Pinocchio (Mangiafuoco in the book, Stromboli in the film). In the film, he was far more cruel and simply wanted to exploit Pinocchio, and states that he'll use him as firewood after he can't perform anymore. In the book, although he initially does want to use Pinocchio as firewood after the boy accidentally ruins one of his puppet shows, Pinocchio is able to convince him not to do so, and he even gives the talking puppet some coins to help Geppetto out. This is probably an influence from Alexey N. Tolstoy's book adaptation, Buratino, where the puppeteer, named Carabas Barabas, is the main villain and a very ominous person (although, incidentally, the scene mentioned above still happens anyways).
    • Fantasia: Chernabog in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence. While he was a black god, he wasn't evil; he was a pre-Christian Slavic deity. Though we don't really know enough about Chernobog to say whether he was or wasn't evil, it's certain he wasn't a giant Satanic figure who called up the spirits of the damned. The film works around this by referring to him as Satan himself, but Disney prefers to call him Chernabog these days.
    • Bambi: Ronno the deer is an ominous antagonist who appears only once to battle over Faline, and abiding by the non-Animated Canon Interquel, was initially a jealous bully who spent much of his childhood antagonising Bambi. In the original book, Ronno and Bambi were actually good friends instead of enemies, although this does change as they grow older and see each other as competition for does. Also, the human hunters in the book are ordinary people who are frightening and god-like from the perspective of the animals, although Bambi's father makes a point of showing Bambi a dead hunter to teach him that humans are subject to the same rules as the forest animals are. The sequel book even begins depicting sympathetic human characters. In the Disney movie, the hunters are explicitly reckless and careless, shooting everything that moves and setting the forest ablaze from a badly tended campfire. Bambi's mother is, judging from the time of her death in early spring, the victim of a poacher.
    • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: In the original story, Brom doesn't physically attack Ichabod, due to his rough sense of honor and fair play. He so thoroughly outclasses Ichabod physically that he might as well have two other guys there to hold him down as fight one on one, and limits himself to trying to hound him away from Katrina with practical jokes. In this version, however, he clearly was about to beat the snot out of him, and Ichabod only escaped due to Brom suffering a Wile E. Coyote-level bout of bad luck.
    • Alice in Wonderland: The Queen of Hearts is depicted as an Ax-Crazy villainess in the Disney adaptation. In the book by Lewis Carroll, while she does constantly order executions, the King quietly pardons everybody she sentences to death when she isn't looking and no real harm is done. She never notices this, and the inhabitants of Wonderland just choose to play along with her. Also, it's outright said by the Gryphon that she doesn't execute anyone. Part of the reason for this is because the Queen as depicted in the movie is a mash-up of three different characters from Alice's Adventure in Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass (the Queen of Hearts, the Duchess, and the Red Queen). The King himself goes from pardoning people to openly supporting the Queen's executions (though in Alice's case, he instead makes sure all available options are exhausted before going along with it). The Cheshire Cat in the Disney movie is a Jerkass to Alice if not a villain, while in the book he was a more friendly character. And as a lesser example, the White Rabbit in the Disney version is a pompous servant of the Queen. In the book, he's a little friendlier to Alice, advising her not to play well in the croquet game so the Queen can win. The Walrus in "The Walrus and the Carpenter" also goes through this. While neither he nor the Carpenter were particularly good people in the original poem (Alice notes that the Walrus showed remorse for his actions but still ate more oysters than the Carpenter, while the Carpenter ate as many as he could), he was much more remorseful in the poem. Here, however, he's depicted as an arrogant, manipulative, greedy, evil aristocrat. Also, this movie portrays the oysters as youngsters, making the Walrus seem even more monstrous!
    • The Jungle Book (1967): Kaa the python. In the book, he is a mentor and friend of Mowgli as much as Bagheera and Baloo are and helps to save him when he is kidnapped by monkeys, engages him in friendly wrestling matches, and offers him advice for battle against the dholes, indeed never harming or threatening him in any way and saving his life more than once. The other animals in the jungle respect and fear him for his wisdom and powers of hypnosis, which only Mowgli, because he is human, is immune to. In the Disney movie, he is an Affably Evil villain whose only role in the plot is to serve as a minor nuisance. Apparently it was thought by Disney that audiences wouldn't accept a snake as a heroic character. This also applies to Shere Kahn; in the books, he was an antagonist, but represented as somewhat pitiful (he has a bad leg, restricting his ability to hunt), is something of an arrogant fool, and is taken half-heartedly by a lot of residents of the jungle, including Bagheera. The other animals generally see him as a troublemaker and a coward because he attacks humans (something forbidden under the Law of the Jungle), and characters like Bagheera and Kaa command a lot more respect and fear. In the original Disney film, he is somewhat comedic and playful, but is genuinely feared and implied to be stronger than many animals put together.
    • The Black Cauldron: The three witches in the film are grasping and sneaky, if not evil, characters who try and trick Taran into giving up a treasure for the cauldron. In the book, they are neutral figures who bend their own rules to help Taran and the others get rid of it.
    • The Little Mermaid: The Sea Witch in the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale is a neutral character who shows no vindictive intentions toward the unnamed mermaid, only making the famous tongue-for-legs exchange, even warning the mermaid of the consequences of the transformation. She doesn't go back on the deal or interfere with her relationship with the prince until she is asked to by the mermaid's sisters, and only indirectly. In the Disney movie, she is named Ursula, is an out-and-out villain with a tendency toward Faustian deals, and gets in the way of Ariel's romance with Prince Eric far more than the character in the fairy tale did. Ursula also takes the place of the princess who the prince eventually marries in the original, who is innocent in Andersen's fairy tale and genuinely loves him.
    • Aladdin: While it's far from the first adaptation to make Grand Vizier Jafar a villain, it's probably the most well-known example of it. In the Arabian Nights, Jafar was a minor character but generally a hero (although Sunni tradition, which thinks very highly of Harun al-Rashid, assumed that Ja'far must have been guilty of something if the great Caliph had him killed). And in the Aladdin story, the Grand Vizier (who is actually not the same character as Jafar, as Jafar did not appear in the Arabian Nights Aladdin story, but he is replaced by Jafar in the movie) is hostile to Aladdin at first, but then he has a point, and is actually The Good Chancellor in contrast to the Disney movie's depiction of Jafar as an Evil Chancellor; the real villain of the story is a magician from North Africa.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Claude Frollo was a more sympathetic character in the original novel by Victor Hugo. While driven to evil deeds later by his lust for Esmeralda, he willingly adopts and cares for Quasimodo, instead of threatening to throw him down a well as he did in the Disney version of the story. All while looking after his layabout of a brother, Jehan (who most movie adaptations composite with Claude), and being orphaned himself to boot. He was also more tolerant of gypsies, asking only that they keep their activities away from the cathedral rather than actively hunting them down. Also, Frollo was originally archdeacon of Notre Dame; in the movie, the archdeacon is a separate, kindly character, who induces a guilt trip on Frollo at the beginning and is beaten up by him at the end. In a sense, both these scenes depict the man struggling with himself. It's believed the reason for this Adaptational Villainy was due to Disney being concerned that having a priest for a Big Bad would offend people, and their solution was to divide the literary character in two and give one all the good qualities and the other all the bad.
    • Hercules: Hades is a Satan-like villain (again), intent on overthrowing Zeus and taking over Mount Olympus. In Classical Mythology, he was a neutral but just ruler of the dead and was downright nice compared to the other Greek gods. Hades had no antagonism towards Heracles, only meeting the hero when Heracles asked to borrow Cerberus for one of his twelve labors. Heracles's original divine enemy was Hera, his stepmother and Zeus's wife. As for overthrowing Zeus, Hades never tried that in the myths. While Hades did kidnap Persephone (with Zeus's permission), he was nowhere near as bad a husband as his brothers Zeus and Poseidon. In fact, Hades is probably the least antagonistic god Hercules ever met in the original myth; the entire obstacle Hercules has in borrowing Cerberus is that Hades politely asks Hercules to bring it back when he's done. His sidekicks, Pain and Panic, also go through this compared to Deimos and Phobos, who they were both very loosely based on. While neither of their original counterparts were exactly good guys, they were the sons of Ares and definitely weren't evil, impish comic relief lackeys. In fact, Heracles worshiped Phobos as a god and had him depicted on his shield. And in the myths, the Cyclopes were Zeus' allies in the fight against the Titans, and they gave the thunderbolt to Zeus, the trident to Poseidon and the helmet of invisibility to Hades. The movie has one lone Cyclops who is in league in the Titans, and is sent by Hades to destroy Thebes and kill Hercules.
    • Tarzan: Clayton. In the novels, he is Tarzan's cousin who inherits the title after Tarzan's parents are presumed dead. His worst fault is that he is not as brave or capable as Tarzan, and his worst crime is concealing Tarzan's true identity after he figures out the truth so that he can keep the title. Other than that, he is a decent man who is willing to sacrifice himself for Jane. In the movie, he is an Egomaniac Hunter.
    • Fantasia 2000: In the story of "The Firebird Suite", the titular creature aids a Prince in defeating an evil wizard. In the animated segment at the end of the film, the Firebird is a destructive Eldritch Abomination in the shape of a bird that destroys an entire forest.
    • Wreck-It Ralph: A number of villains get together for a support group, and among them is Zangief, who isn't a villain in the games — though he is often a victim of this trope, being a villain in both the first live-action Street Fighter movie and Street Fighter American cartoon. This makes his comments toward Ralph during his sole scene all the more poignant. Word of God admits to considering Zangief a villain simply because he was That One Boss.
  • Ambiguous Time Period:
    • A lot of the Disney films have this; being fairy tales, they're just set "a long time ago." Sleeping Beauty actually does say "This is the fourteenth century" (though the fashion doesn't match) and newer films tend to aim for more historical accuracy (for example Frozen is set in the 1840s, albeit with some Anachronism Stew here and there), but most of the rest don't even have that.
    • Bambi, despite being featured in a more down to earth setting, is very difficult if not impossible to pin down to a specific point in time. There is no indication of what time the film, its midquel or tie-ins take place or where beyond the general depiction of a eastern American forest. The stories do not feature any (on-screen) humansnote , only animals in the wild who have basic, symbolic personalities, and there are zero pop culture references, so there's hardly anything within the setting that could ever become dated. Even the characters' more humanized behaviour in the direct-to-video midquel is just detached enough from any specific human culture to remain rooted outside of any specific time or place.
    • The Lion King gives no indication of what time the story takes place. There are references that hint it is set in present day and the cartoon series confirms this, however it's very dubiously canon. On the other hand, since we never see any humans, it's still plausible to depict the setting as taking place in very ancient or even prehistoric times.
  • An Aesop / Central Theme: Most of the films in the line-up have one, though how prevalent and deeply tied into the story it is varies from film to film. Several of them have more than one, though, and generally one for each song for those that have them:
    • Pinocchio: Evil Is Easy, but it will get you nowhere good in the long run.
    • Cinderella: Staying strong and hopeful, even if just a little bit, in circumstances that try to beat you down.
    • Peter Pan: Not Growing Up Sucks, but you should not let go of your inner child, either.
    • Lady and the Tramp: The divide between the rich and the poor.
    • The Sword in the Stone: Knowledge is power.
    • Beauty and the Beast: Who you are inside is far more important than what's on the outside.
      • Being kind to others will make you a better person.
      • People are always capable of change; while some never will, others will if given the chance.
    • Aladdin: Be honest with yourself and others, for deception will only get you so far.
    • Pocahontas: Fearing racial differences leads to destruction; love, not just romantic but for fellow humans as a whole, is the only answer.
    • The Lion King (1994): Taking responsibility, whether for yourself or for your duties.
      • Even the most destructive despots will be deceptively charming.
      • You cannot run from the past, only overcoming it will let it rest.
      • Your loved ones will always be with you, even in death.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Again, it's what's inside that counts.
      • We are all humans deserving of respect and love, no matter where we come from or what we look like (and it sucks to be an outcast, so why treat others that way).
      • Again, selfless people can change the world.
      • How the clergy can and has been used as a platform for corrupt ends.
    • Hercules: Selflessness is what makes a hero, not strength or force of will.
    • Mulan: Do not be ashamed of who you are inside; live for yourself rather than the demands and prejudices of others.
      • Gender roles are archaic; women are not inferior to men and have the capability to be as strong or stronger, and acting 'effeminate' does not make a man weaker.
    • Tarzan: Family extends further than blood ties; adoptive parents can be just as loving as birth parents.
    • The Emperor's New Groove: Being selfless can make you a better person.
    • Lilo & Stitch: Family refers to those who turn to each other when no one else will.
    • Brother Bear: True brotherhood comes from love, not blood.
    • Chicken Little: The importance of communication.
    • Meet the Robinsons: Persevere towards the future and don't let your past control you.
    • Tangled: A free spirit can never remain confined for long.
      • Your dreams will motivate you to achieve in life, but you may be overlooking what will truly make you happy.
      • Again, the importance of honesty; however, this time the fact that dishonesty will make it harder for people to trust you is emphasized more than previously.
    • Frozen: The nature and importance of love, and how it is far greater than mere romance.
    • Big Hero 6: Healing from a painful loss and not letting it consume you.
    • Zootopia: The nature of bias and prejudice in a society, and the role we play in overcoming it.
  • Anachronism Stew: Several of their features deliberately employ this for laughs, most famously Aladdin, Hercules, and The Emperor's New Groove. Even the more serious features like The Hunchback of Notre Dame will employ anachronisms for laughs (most notably in the "A Guy Like You" musical number). Some features like Mulan and Atlantis: The Lost Empire employ it on purpose for the sake of atmosphere or story.
  • Animorphism:
  • Animated Adaptation:
  • Animated Musical: Most of the movies in the canon are this, though there are exceptions such as Tarzan, Lilo & Stitch, Wreck-It Ralph, and Zootopia (Tarzan does include several musical numbers, but only one of them is sung by the characters in-universe).
  • Animation Bump: Generally in the musical numbers, the animation may change.
  • Anti-Villain: Several characters in the canon fall into this.
    "The biggest threat, of course, is from the predator, man, and his gun. As victims, the deer have no way of combating this foe and must suffer the consequences. Man, for his part, has no thought or understanding of the pain he has inflicted on the wild animals by pursing his own personal desires. There is no villainy in his heart when he kills Bambi's mother, yet to the audience, this is an event that stays with them for the rest of their lives."
    • Professor Terri Tatti from "The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met", since he has a somewhat justifiable reason for attacking Willie — whales normally don't sing opera, so he assumes the whale swallowed three whole opera singers to get his talent (it actually comes from the fact that Willie has three uvulas), so he kills Willie with a harpoon to free them. His act is described not as a villainous one, but a misguided one springing from his lack of understanding.
    • Brom Bones from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The Sleepy Hollow segment goes out of its way to prove that while Brom is not above terrorizing the local schoolmaster to drive him out of town or bullying Katrina's other suitors, isn't really bad (just a bit of a Jerkass), and may in fact be a better husband for Katrina (unlike Ichabod, who appears to care more about her money.)
    • Sir Ector of The Sword in the Stone. While he's a jerk to Wart, he's not evil, just a very strict and demanding Control Freak.
    • Edgar of The Aristocats is one of the few Disney Villains who is not exactly pure evil; while he is greedy, he does not seem to be cruel. It would have been easy for him to just kill Duchess and her kittens, but instead, he chose to kidnap them and release them into the wild —- and when that didn't work, he decides to send them to Timbuktu. Moreover, he's shown to have more redeeming features and is never willing to kill anyone.
    • Amos Slade is a more shaded antagonist than a typical Disney villain. He may be a curmudgeon who wants to kill Tod, but his true nature comes out when Copper convinces him not to kill Tod. Even beforehand, his hatred for Tod is driven mostly by misunderstandings or his supposed injuring of his dog Chief, who Slade legitimately cared for along with Copper.
    • The Beast starts off as this. He acts malicious for the first part of the film, but he's not acting out of evil intentions as much as he's consumed by anger and despair at being trapped in the body of a beast while his chance to regain his humanity is slowly ticking away. The scene where he saves Belle from the wolves is the part that makes it clear to the audience that he's not a villain. Glen Keane, the lead animator of Beast, is quoted on this in The Disney Villain;
    "He probably wouldn't have minded killing Maurice. That was the extent where someone like the Beast, who had the potential to be good, could become a villain. The Beast was pitying himself, frustrated, so he felt justified in treating the father that way, and when he comes back, Belle is crying — his actions do cause people pain — and he starts to get a glimmer that he's not entirely comfortable with the role of a villain... He had incredible limitations — it's kind of like taking the villain and the hero and wrapping them up into one body."
    • In Treasure Planet, John Silver is supposed to be the bad guy; and he does it pretty well, most of the time. But he also turns out to be a great father figure to Jim Hawkins and his soft spot for the lad pushes him to do the right thing now and then. His core motivation of wanting to get what is, in his eyes, rightfully owed to him, is more complex than just standard pirate-related greed.
    • Brother Bear: Denahi goes rather nuts after losing both his brothers.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The films are not really known for their accuracy when it comes to animal behavior or anatomy, to say the least. Bambi in particular is notorious for this, due to its numerous creative liberties spreading many misconceptions about wild deer behavior in real life, to the extent that it has its own subpage about it. The Lion King (1994), while nowhere as infamous for it, likewise takes just as many if not more liberties and also has its own subpage on the subject.
  • Audience Shift:
    • Wreck-It Ralph was made to appeal to gamers along with traditional children/family audiences.
    • Big Hero 6 is aimed at Marvel superhero fans and the general boy demographic.
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet were designed to appeal to teenagers more than just children. Unlike the film released in between them, they did not do well at the box office.
    • The Great Mouse Detective, Oliver & Company, and The Little Mermaid were intended by Roy E. Disney and (then-new) studio heads Jeffrey Katzenberg and Peter Schneider to take Disney animation in a lighter, more 1980s direction after former studio head Ron Miller's attempts in the late 1970s/early 1980s to take the studio in a darker and moodier direction with The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, and The Black Cauldron pretty much ended in failure (Rescuers and Fox and Hound were still financial successes, with Rescuers getting a sequel from the new guard; Cauldron was NOT a success, and almost killed the canon off). The Great Mouse Detective itself was retitled from Basil of Baker Street after Michael Eisner decided that the original name was "too English" for American kids, which led to a major backlash from the animators who were working on the film; they protested with an infamous fake memo that Katzenberg got, and said memo made it to the press and on to Jeopardy!, embarrassing Schneider in the process; Schneider repaid the favor by ripping into the department in a meeting for the stunt (Katzenberg was also unamused with the decoy memo at first, but he lightened up to the situation according to the documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty).
    • On a similar note, recently and not without backlash, Tangled, and Frozen received their title changes from Rapunzel and The Snow Queen respectively, as well as a whole new marketing strategy to make sure their more princess-central films can still net young males. Notably this came after the presumed failings of The Princess and the Frog. Though admittedly it was for the better as far as Frozen is concerned, seeing as the title fits the setting and theme a lot more than The Snow Queen does (it was also initially going to be an adaptation of The Snow Queen, but ended up being inspired by it instead).
    • Of course, the MPAA rating system didn't exist until 1968, so everything released before then (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through The Jungle Book) had the G rating applied to them retroactively on their post-'68 re-releases.

  • Beauty Is Bad: Specifically in The Evil Queen, Vanessa, Gaston, Mother Gothel, and Hans' case.
  • Big Bad: See this page for the entire list.
  • Big Good: See the trope's page for the entire list.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At least a few of the films are notable aversions of the franchise's movies having happy endings:
    • Pinocchio: The main protagonist gets reunited with Geppetto and becomes a real boy, but most of the villains, especially the Coachman, are never punished. And those hundreds of innocent children who were taken from their families, turned into donkeys, and sold into slavery? They're still donkeys and no one comes to save them.
    • Make Mine Music!: In the final segment Willie the Whale is harpooned, but now he's in heaven, free to sing to his heart's content.
    • Melody Time: Happens in two segments. Johnny Appleseed dies, but has left a huge legacy in his wake and is off to grow apple trees in heaven; while Pecos Bill gives up being a cowboy after the death of his fiancée Slue-Foot Sue, but Texas is implied to be a much safer place because of him.
    • The Fox and the Hound: Nobody dies in the movie except for the bear, and Tod and Copper go their separate ways, but they remember what good friends they used to be. And Tod lives happily with his mate Vixie.
    • Pocahontas: Ratcliffe is defeated and is tied up by his own men to be taken back to England, but John Smith takes a gunshot from the former to protect Chief Powhatan, forcing him to also return to England to be nursed back to health, meaning he and Pocahontas don't get to stay together. But they and their people are better for the experience.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Quasimodo didn't win Esmeralda's heart. But she survives, Frollo is defeated and the people of Paris finally accept Quasimodo as one of their own.
    • The Princess and the Frog: Ray is Killed Off for Real, but he is Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, as he's seen appearing as a new star next to his star lover Evangeline. And at least Tiana and Naveen get together.
  • Black-and-White Morality: In the bulk of the movies in the canon, the line between good and evil is very clearly drawn, hence why Disney has frequently relied on Obviously Evil, hammy villains back in the 20th century.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: In the more mature films.
  • Black Magic: Several of the villains are Evil Sorcerers, and Sleeping Beauty has an evil fairy.
  • Bookends: On a meta example; the first and the last releases in the original Walt Disney "Black Diamond" Classics video line were Dark Age Disney movies (Robin Hood in 1984, The Fox And The Hound in 1994, and these movies have similarly designed characters and Pat Buttram in them; in addition, the first (1985) and last (1993) movie made under Walt to be issued in the line is Pinocchio). This trope also applies to the Platinum Editions; Snow White and Pinocchio are the first and last titles in this line, and they are the early Golden Age since they're the first two installments in the canon. The Walt Disney Masterpiece Collection is a minor example because the first and last new releases in that line were two films Walt supervised; his original animated classic Snow White in 1994, and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad in 1999.
  • Bowdlerise: The company has been known to edit some of their films.
    • All of the home video releases of Fantasia censor the Pastoral Symphony sequence to remove the presence of Sunflower, who is depicted as a degrading African-American stereotype (rat tail hairs, subservient to another centaur, and being stylized as a donkey instead of a centaurette). The home video releases worked around her by digitally zooming in on the footage of the centaurettes she was near, and slightly rearranging one scene to cover up that they excised a brief scene with her that was impossible to pan away from. For other shots where it was both absolutely impossible to pan away from her and too crucial to remove, they digitally edited her out altogether, resulting in oddities like a red carpet that she pushed now magically rolling out on its own. The only way the original footage can be seen now is by finding bootlegs of very old TV recordings of Fantasia.
    • The first DVD release of Saludos Amigos edited out the cigarette Goofy was holding. The second printing included as an extra on Walt and El Groupo uses the uncut print.
    • The US DVD release of Make Mine Music! removed the entire opening Martins and the Coys segment for excessive gunplay. The PAL DVD has the whole sequence intact. The All the Cats Join In segment also makes some small edits to the shower scene.
    • One of the DVD releases of Peter Pan makes a color timing edit to the Indians to make them look less, well, red.
    • The Rescuers originally had a topless woman photo in a background as a Freeze-Frame Bonus, but it was removed from almost all home video releases of the film.
    • The opening song of Aladdin, "Arabian Nights", had a line changed from "Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face/It's barbaric, but, hey, it's home" in the original theatrical version to a more acceptable "Where it's flat and immense, and the heat is intense/It's barbaric, but, hey, it's home." for the home release when Disney received complaints that the ear-cutting part was offensive to those living in Arabic countries (despite that punishments like that do exist in Arabic countries). The original version made it to the early pressings of the soundtrack on CD, but later versions used the less offensive version. MTI's junior musical of the movie uses the less offensive version, but "It's barbaric" was replaced by "It's a furnace!"
    • Treasure Planet has one scene where Captain Amelia is injured and clutching her side. Her hand is covered in blood in the theatrical version however this was cut from home video releases of the film.
    • A developmental variant happened with Tangled. Early in the film, Rapunzel confronts Flynn with a frying pan when he hides in her tower. Originally she was meant to confront Bastion (the character Flynn replaced) with a crossbow.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good:
    • Especially in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Emperor's New Groove (the brainy lead character selfish and the brainy villain character is evil, the brawny lead character is warm and fatherly and the brawny villain sidekick who gets his own movie outside of the canon is not actually evil), Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen (The brawny Kristoff is good and the calculating Hans is evil), but it might be apparent in other Disney movies too.
    • Though it's averted or inverted in Atlantis, Beauty and the Beast (the protagonist Belle is the brains, and the villain Gaston is the brawn), Meet the Robinsons, The Great Mouse Detective, and Big Hero 6.
    • And it's actually reversed in The Sword in the Stone.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • Lady and the Tramp talks about the difference between rich and poor, or upper and lower class within the context of dogs. In the beginning the Tramp is seen as a scoundrel for not having a dog collar and being a stray dog. After having a romance with Lady and going out scaring chickens Lady is captured by the dog catcher, where she finds out the Tramp has had many lovers before. When freed again she refuses to see him again and the others dogs with a collar also look down up on him... until the Tramp saves the day by killing a rat that tried to get in the baby's room. At first this seems to be a decent aesop: "don't judge others for their appearance or poverty". But when you really think about it: no sane human would just accept a stray dog in their midst, certainly not in the presence of a baby. And the fact that he, within the context of the story, is only rewarded and accepted when he does something that benefits the rich people (saving the baby from a rat) is actually rather cynical.
    • The Sword in the Stone: The film tries to have a "Knowledge is the real power." message delivered by Merlin to Wart both throughout the film and in the ending, but almost nothing in the film supports it because Wart is a Pinball Protagonist who has no control over anything that's going on around him, and his problems are almost always solved by Merlin's magic anyway despite Merlin saying magic can't solve all his problems (even if they do unwittingly tend to cause as many hardships as they solve, Merlin is basically doing the real work for Wart, even if he sincerely is trying to make a point to him) and he doesn't even get his happy ending by using anything he learned from Merlin — in fact, Wart ends up doing the exact opposite of what Merlin wanted by willingly accepting a degrading position as Kay's squire instead of focusing on an education. It was by sheer luck that he ends up going to London and turns out to be the one worthy of pulling out the sword, making him King of England right then and there.
    • The Lion King (1994): In what is probably one of the most infamous cases, Simba the lion thinks he killed his own father and runs off to another land. Eventually people tell him to confront his fears and he goes back to challenge Scar, who took over his kingdom in his absence and turned it into a tyranny. Yet when Scar again puts the blame on him for causing his fathers' death Simba starts to doubt himself again and the other lions doubt him too. It's only when Scar has Simba in a situation where he will probably die that he confesses that he was the actual murderer. This gives Simba the confidence to finally defeat Scar and when he does this, all the others finally accept him in their midst.
    • Meet the Robinsons is particularly Anvilicious about its Aesop: don't worry about making mistakes because you can always learn from them and fix them later. The movie contains two plot-stopping lectures and a musical number to hammer it in. So, when confronted with DOR-15, Lewis solves the problem by declaring he will never invent her, causing a Temporal Paradox and removing her from existence. A quick and easy way to end the movie, but at the cost of undermining its Aesop. Right from the beginning, DOR-15 was still fully-functional, if only disobedient. The movie's solution prevents a viable third option: Instead of writing DOR-15 off as a failed invention too early, Lewis could remind his future self to either correct DOR-15's behavior or outright build a better one, allowing him to dispatch DOR-15 while still having his Helping Hat invention. Lewis also never demonstrates that he learned his roommate had needs and would be more conscientious about it. Meanwhile, the two characters who DO follow the Aesop's advice don't exactly get rewarded for it: Wilbur scrambles around trying to fix his careless mistake but only ends up making things worse and is eventually punished by his mother when he admits to it, while the Bowler Hat Guy keeps trying new schemes when the old ones fail and is consistently chewed out for his incompetence by DOR-15 and everyone else around him. The short version: The film's Aesop is about getting better through learning from your mistakes. While Lewis laments that he makes the same mistakes over and over again, he ends up solving his problems by denying his mistakes (and potentially repeating them), rather than identifying and improving on them. Conversely, when Wilbur and Bowler Hat Guy do try and learn from their own mistakes, they end up making things worse for themselves.
  • Canines Primary, Felines Secondary: The Canon as a whole has more movies featuring dogs in lead roles than housecats in lead roles. The movies with a dog or dogs in lead and major roles are Lady and the Tramp, 101 Dalmatians, The Fox and the Hound, and Bolt. The only movies with a cat or cats in a lead role are The Aristocats and Oliver & Company. If wild felines are included, however, then it's an even four for four, with The Lion King (1994) and The Jungle Book (1967) added to the list.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Despite many of the films in the canon getting direct-to-video sequels or even sequel and Spin-Off TV shows (as listed under Recycled: The Series on the Trivia page), none of those are considered canon to the original movies. To date, the only canonical sequels are The Rescuers Down Under, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Frozen II, plus Frozen short film Frozen Fever (also made by WDAS) due to the Snowgies appearing in The Stinger of Frozen II. Disney has also implied (but not outright stated) that Lilo & Stitch's sequel material—at least the ones from 2003 to 2006note —are the only exceptions to the unwritten (i.e. purist fan-enforced) "rule" that only WDAS-made sequels count. (Read the Trivia page for more on this one.)
  • Cute Kitten: Seen in a few Disney films with the most notable being Marie, Toulouse, and Berlioz, Figaro and Oliver.
  • Cats Are Mean: Used (Cinderella), subverted (Bolt) and averted (The Aristocats, Oliver & Company).
  • Classic Villain: Just about every Disney Villain qualifies, to the point of Disney having its own section on the page.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: There have been a lot of comic books based on the films, way too many to list as is, and they've been around as long as Snow White.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Occasionally used, despite the theme park's "Happiest Place on Earth" motto.
  • Cover Version: DisneyMania, for a number of hits from movie soundtracks. In some cases, song covers are included in DVD sets. It's also fairly common for a contemporary artist to cover a song from a movie.
  • Darker and Edgier: Pinocchio, The Black Cauldron, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are frequently considered unusually grim story content for Disney.
    • While The Black Cauldron features animate skeletons and self-sacrifice, it doesn't quite touch on the darkness that is The Hunchback of Notre Dame, since that film has a scene with an older man lustfully sniff a young woman's hair and then singing about his uncontainable lust.
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire does away with the color, Non Human Sidekicks, and songs of previous features, and replaces them with action, explosions, and the death of many a background character.
    • Pocahontas is one of the few without a complete resolution for the main characters. The villain has admittedly been defeated but John Smith's fate is left uncertain. The Direct to Video sequel (not part of Disney Animated Canon) was created to elaborate on this, though even then there isn't a perfectly blissful resolution.
    • Zootopia is a more recent contender for one of Disney's darker animated movies, not so much for what is shown onscreen but for the fact that it is a disturbingly realistic depiction of how bias and cultural prejudice can impact society.
  • Darkest Hour: Most notably occurs in Aladdin, The Lion King and Hercules.
  • Deal with the Devil: How Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Hades from Hercules and Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog all work. Is it telling that all these share the same directors?
  • Decon-Recon Switch: This along with subversions have become a growing trait of the newer films, what with Disney having been around for so long that telling something completely and entirely new gets understandably difficult. As such, they've begun taking what's been done and ...toying with it. Heavily prevalent in the three most recent princess-centric films: The Princess and the Frog, Tangled, and Frozen.
  • Denser and Wackier: Several of the films tend to be much more wacky and comedic than the typical Disney movie. Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, Hercules, The Emperor's New Groove and Home on the Range are most notable for this. The large majority of Disney's xerox-era films in the 60s and 70s were both cosmetically and thematically wackier, with more bumbling villains, a more nominal death count, slapstick emphasis, and jazzier upbeat soundtracks in place of the usual atmospheric orchestra.
  • Disneyfication: Disney, being the Trope Namer, frequently takes massive creative liberties for movies in the canon that are based on a pre-existing story, and they are by far the most well known examples of doing this, to where they have their own page for examples of it.
  • Disney School of Acting and Mime: Trope Codifier.
  • Disney Villain Death: Trope Namer. See "Killed Off for Real" below; it's easier to list villains who didn't die this way.

  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The Disney Animated Canon has several examples:
    • Aladdin has Abu as Aladdin's Non-Human Sidekick.
    • Tarzan was based on Tarzan of the Apes, but Disney did work the monkey trope into a wacky lather in the film, particularly with Tarzan's loud-mouthed female gorilla sidekick Terk, her not-too-bright buddies Flynt and Mungo, and the mischievous baby baboon Manu. On the other hand, some primate characters are completely serious (i.e. Kerchak, the stern silverback and Kala, Tarzan's loving foster mother) or are more threatening than funny (the baboon horde).
    • The Lion King (1994) had the shaman-type, Rafiki, who was an African vision-having kung-fu mandrill.
    • King Louie from The Jungle Book (1967) was Disney's original addition to the movie, yet arguably, feels very much as if he belongs to Mowgli's world. The original book does, however, have a scene where the monkeys try to make Mowgli their leader, and won't let him go. He was later transplanted to TaleSpin.
    • A few Disney geeks have a theory that this trope is the only acceptable reason why there are "lemurs" in the Late Cretaceous period in Dinosaur.
    • Gorillas and monkeys appear as background characters in Dumbo. A ferocious gorilla tries to escape from its cage during a parade, and a whole family of monkeys sleeping on a swing can be seen during the "Baby Mine" number.
  • Evil Is Hammy: With a few exceptions.
  • Evil Laugh: Another thing many of the villains have in common.
  • Evil Minions: Most of the Big Bads have at least one.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: A lot of Disney queens are often portrayed as villains, most notably in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Alice in Wonderland. Also, positive queens are either killed off early or shoved in the background.
  • The Good Guys Always Win: The good guys almost always win in these movies. There are very few exceptions, like The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (and even that depends on how you interpret the ending) and the villains in Pinocchio never being punished — Pinocchio just escapes from them. The loss of just one boy presumably not being significant, it can even be said that the Coachman won as far as his scheme went.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: A number of films and their worlds will involve a villain who is not involved in the main plot yet is indirectly responsible for the conflict.
  • Happily Ever After: Most of the movies end like this. Averted with The Fox and the Hound and Pocahontas, however.
  • Hate Sink: Given how large and varied the canons Rogues Gallery is, there's plenty to go around.
    • Dumbo generally does not have a central villain. The Ringmaster, though admittedly responsible for locking away Dumbo's mother, was not aware that she was trying to protect her son and believed that she was a public menace which could result in his circus being closed for good and many other animals there no longer have a job there. Even the four elephant bullies who made fun of Dumbo for his large ears occasionally have a point in being angry at him (especially when he screwed up their climax and wounds them greatly). Key word is occasionally, but outside that, they are actually competent circus elephants that kept the normal circus going. But good luck finding fans of that one kid that bullied Dumbo and incited the wrath of Mrs. Jumbo, triggering a chain of events that resulted in Dumbo's misery. Most people use him as a prime example of the show's Kids Are Cruel and Humans Are the Real Monsters.
    • Lady Tremaine is an absolutely despicable person who is cruel and petty in every scene she's in, and has no likable, sympathetic or humorous qualities to her at all. It says a lot that a Lady with no magical powers, evil henchservants or ambitions beyond social climbing manages to be one of the most vile characters in the entire Disney rogues gallery based on her personality alone.
    • The Lion King (1994) gives us Scar. Given that he's a ruthless, cruel bastard who killed his own brother in cold blood and blamed Simba in the process, it's not hard to imagine that Scar was meant to garner much of the viewers' hatred as possible. It backfired, however, as Scar ended being a Love to Hate example for his awesome charisma.
    • Pocahontas has Governor Ratcliffe. A racist, elitist asshole who is motivated entirely by greed and his social status, looks down on his men as expendable tools, is willing to commit genocide as part of his agenda, and has no sympathetic qualities at all.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The reason why Judge Claude Frollo was so monstrously cruel was because Disney wanted to avert the Evil Is Cool trope, which was common among Disney villains at the time (and continues to be so). Just like Scar, Frollo ended being a Love to Hate example.
    • Chi-Fu from Mulan is a misogynistic, obnoxious, snooty Obstructive Bureaucrat who constantly irritates the other characters with his arrogance. He is even told to his face by the emperor that he can easily be replaced by the heroine. The reason for his presence is that Mulan, as a war movie, has a villainous faction that is difficult to personalize, even once the Hun army is stripped down to five members, and Shan Yu, the movie's resident Big Bad, is a Lightning Bruiser who regards Mulan as a Worthy Opponent, as well as one of the few people in the movie who never cares about her gender.
    • Emperor Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove is a rare example of the protagonist being this, and (almost) all of it is Played for Laughs. Kuzco, while charismatic, is a completely unsympathetic character at the start who is only a hair-breadth away from being as bad as the actual villain Yzma, being a cruel, narccisitic and selfish jerk, and is basically a protagonist solely by designation who was asking for pretty much everything bad that came his way—until the third act, where he finally starts mellowing out into a nicer, if still foolish and flamboyant, person.
    • Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke from Atlantis: The Lost Empire. At first coming off as a Reasonable Authority Figure, once he's revealed to be the villain, Rourke goes out of his way to become as unlikable and despicable as possible, with the flimsiest of excuses, even when it's not wise to do so, and has the most transparent of motives, all while acting like an insufferable jackass who thinks he knows better. His bad sense of humor is tasteless, he is completely unreasonable, and his actions and attitude are so repulsive that most of the cast immediately turn on him. And he didn't hesitate to throw Helga off the blimp in order to lighten its load. Milo also mentions that the most probable buyer for Kida and the crystal, in terms of who has enough money in the world for it, is the Kaiser.
    • Mertle Edmonds from Lilo & Stitch is a bullying Alpha Bitch who repeatedly kicks the dog by insulting and excluding Lilo, and also making harsh comments about her mother (even though Lilo happens to be an orphan who is being looked after by her sister). She exists because the real antagonists, Jumba, Pleakley and Captain Gantu, have sympathetic motivations and the former two eventually decide to move in with Stitch and Lilo as part of her ʻohana allowing them to be a whole family again. She's made more sympathetic in the series when she adopts one of Jumba's experiments much as Lilo did with Stitch, though she otherwise plays this straight, such as in "Checkers" in which she sends numerous people to the dungeon for things such as giving Lilo (who is queen in this episode thanks to the title experiment) helpful advice.
    • Bolt is, at its heart, a Road Trip Plot with no real villains; even the slightly insane director and the snarky network representative are doing what they believe is best for the Show Within a Show. That's why we have Penny's horribly obnoxious agent, who by contrast is doing what he thinks is best for himself, with no regard for the feelings or well being of the child he's supposed to be looking out for or her mother.
    • Frozen: After Prince Hans revealed his deceptive nature, Elsa, Anna and Kristoff do not have a good opinion of him, knowing that he never truly cared for Anna at all, but was instead using her naive infatuation for him to get Arendelle's throne and callously abandoned her to die to further his own fiendish schemes. And the book The Secret Admirer confirms that Olaf is aware of Hans' actions against Anna and Elsa, and dislikes for the prince as a result.
  • The Heavy: The bulk of the films have their conflict driven in whole by an overarching villain setting things into motion, with the protagonists getting dragged into it.
  • Held Gaze: Has been used in several of the romance-focused movies to imply the underlying UST of the characters. Notable films that use this trope are Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Tangled.
  • The High Queen: At the end of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, where its princess becomes Queen by the end of the movie. Frozen also features one of the two princess characters become a queen by the beginning of the movie and be good.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • Robin Hood portrays Prince John as an effeminate Large Ham who is prone to childish tantrums upon mention of his brother and always begins sobbing at the mention of his mother. He also taxes Nottingham until most of the citizens are in jail because they invented a song that insulted him and plans to have Friar Tuck hanged to lure out Robin Hood.
    • Governor Ratcliffe from Disney's Pocahontas. The real John Ratcliffe seems to have been more foolishly trusting than villainous, as he wanted to trade with the Native Americans, not to rob them or commit genocide on them. He was eventually captured and tortured to death (flayed alive, actually) by the Powhatan Indians, who seem to have received a bit of a Historical Hero Upgrade in the movie.
    • Granted, the Huns weren't all that nice, but Disney's demonic portrayal of them in Mulan (complete with inhuman yellow eyes) is pretty extreme. They shouldn't even have been Huns. The tribe that Mulan fought against were the Xiongnu, a similar but distinct tribe.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Played with on several occasions such as in Bambi, The Little Mermaid (1989) or The Jungle Book (1967).

  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Often used as a justification to give the villains a Karmic Death. If a villain is on the verge of death or defeat, the hero will try to spare them only to fail.
  • In Name Only: Some of their adaptations fall into this:
  • "I Want" Song: Starting with "I'm Wishing" in Snow White, these songs became a staple of Disney musicals.
  • Karmic Death: Happens to many if not most of the villains.
  • Killed Off for Real: The films tend to avoid this with good guys, and greatly enforce this with villains.
    • Disney Villains who play it straight:click here 
    • Disney Villains who avert it (Karma Houdini examples are marked with an *):Click here 
    • Some non-villainous Disney characters (heroic, neutral and villain sidekick alike) who really did bite the dust:Click here 
  • Knight of Cerebus: Though some may still be somewhat comedic, a lot of villains have a very menacing tone (especially in the earliest examples) and are responsible for a lot of Mood Whiplash away from Disney's usual whimsy. See this page for their rather haunting effect on many audiences.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: In the original Disney movies from Snow White to The Jungle Book (and several of the features afterward), getting the audience to suspend their disbelief was usually taken very seriously by Walt Disney—broad cartoony gags were often verboten, and what gags in the picture had to come strictly from personality and be internally consistent with the stories setting and tone (however, there were exceptions such as Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros). From Aladdin and onward, Disney has become notably more lenient on broad gags and breaking the tone of a picture for cheap laughs. Also, whereas Walt went out of his way to avoid having anything topical or contemporary in his features to keep the feel of them timeless, the modern Disney features often have settings and stories that are heavily rooted in modern culture (e.g. both Wreck-It Ralph films, Zootopia, Big Hero 6).note  Also, the majority of the animated features from the mid 2000s onward are done with CGI, not hand-drawn animation.
  • Lighter and Softer: Some of the Disney animated films tend to be much, much lighter than others, in addition to some of their adaptations being lighter than their source material, despite the franchise generally being for young children.
  • Light Is Good: Both this and Dark Is Evil are played straight in most of the movies.
  • Light Is Not Good: This and Dark Is Not Evil are in Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Tarzan, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Zootopia.
  • Long Runner: The canon started with Snow White in 1937, has well over 50 films under its belt, and is showing no signs of slowing down to this day.
  • Love at First Sight: Ubiquitous; we might as well just focus on the ones that avert it.
    • Deconstructed and later averted with Frozen.

  • Maid and Maiden: Several princesses have an older motherly character who isn't their birth mother to give them guidance.
    • Sleeping Beauty kicked off the Disney universe with a bit of a subversion. Aurora was the Maiden, but the role of The Maid was split between three fairiesFlora, Fauna, and Merryweather. Future examples play it much straighter.
    • Cinderella: The Fairy Godmother is the Maid who helps Cinderella, The Maiden. She's Older and Wiser, rounder, and by way of being a Magical Guardian is 'in the service' of Cinderella. The Fairy Godmother also gives her a sweet ride to the Ball behind the Evil Stepmother's back, and the iconic dress and shoes that entice Prince Charming.
    • Beauty and the Beast: Mrs. Potts is the Maid to Belle the Maiden. She plays matchmaker in order to break the curse. Technically she's actually Beast's servant, but gives Belle motherly support at the castle.
    • Pocahontas: Grandmother Willow is the Maid to Pocahontas, The Maiden. Willow's a spirit that helps everyone who comes her way, but does try to steer Pocahontas from her intended in favor of John Smith.
    • The Princess and the Frog: Grandma Odie is the Maid who helps Tiana The Maiden. She tries to get her together with Naveen as soon as they meet, and even marries them at the end. Despite being a little crazy, her role is a mix of the previous three Maids, being a helper to everyone in her realm like Willow, a matchmaker that breaks a curse like Potts, and a magical old lady that teaches tricks and gives gear like the Fairy Godmother.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: The canon is all over the place with this. You have films like Three Caballeros and The Emperor's New Groove with nothing but cartoony violence, and the canon rarely stays beyond that level of violence to keep the tone of the movies family-friendly. But on rare occasions, the films will dip into the 2 scale, such as the scene of Quasimodo's mother getting brutally killed onscreen in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: If a mother appears at all, odds are she'll look to be only in her twenties, even if she's still around when her child reaches his or her late teens. To whit:
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Surprisingly often, the hero/heroine or heroes have a connection to a relative who is greatly revered (in most cases, a royal parent; but in other cases, a war hero dad or a renowned scientist grandfather will do just as well).
    • Only a handful Disney movies subvert or avert this trope. In some examples, John Smith (explorer), Taran (pigkeeper/peasant) and the main characters of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (soldier, son of a gypsy, gypsy performer) are self-made heroes.
  • No Antagonist: There are several films with no real villains in them:
    • Dumbo: Dumbo has no clear cut villains; the conflict came about mainly because Dumbo's ears made him a target for mockery—Dumbo lived in a selfish, rather than hostile, world that causes his problems. The other elephants simply looked down on him and his mother, the ringmaster had no idea what to do with Dumbo once he's forced to lock up his mother, the clowns had their own problems to deal with, and the kids that got Dumbo into the whole mess were just insensitive, not outright malicious.
    • Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros have no villains either.
    • Neither The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh nor Winnie the Pooh (2011) have a real villain in them — they're just figments of the characters imaginations.
    • Brother Bear: Kenai blames a bear for the death of one of his brothers and kills her in revenge, but his own experience as a bear helps him realize that the bear was just a mother trying to get food and that killing her was a prime case of Revenge Before Reason. Denahi, Kenai's own brother, keeps on trying to kill Kenai for most of the film, but that's because he doesn't know the bear he saw next to Kenai's empty clothes was Kenai and instead jumped to the logical conclusion that the bear must have killed his one remaining brother. The plot's major conflicts are essentially the product of multiple misunderstandings.
    • Bolt: Meddlesome TV executives and dog catchers cause problems for the main heroes, and Bolt initially blames "Dr. Calico" for everything, but in reality there is no central villain.
    • Ralph Breaks the Internet The movie has no villain (though the closest things to villains are Arthur, the virus from the Dark Net and the clones of Ralph it creates), but rather a series of conflicts caused mainly by Ralph himself, who acts out of concern that he and Vanellope might no longer be friends when she finds the Slaughter Race game more appealing and Vanellope looks up to Shank as a Cool Big Sister figure.
    • The closest thing Frozen II has to a villain is King Runeard, whose actions set up the plot of the film. The catch is, by the time the film takes place, he's been dead for 34 years, and as a result doesn't directly oppose the heroes in any way.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Most of the main characters and/or their love interests have one, as do some villains.
  • Non-Standard Character Design: Most of their films centering on a human cast (especially their princess ones) use this type of design formula: The lead characters, such as the prince and princess, and sometimes their parents, have hyper-realistic designs, while the rest of the cast have more cartoonish and exagerated proportions.
  • No Smoking: Since July 2007, Disney has banned onscreen smoking from being depicted in any of their films. Even before they enforced the ban, they edited a couple (but not all) of their older films to remove instances of smoking, such as Goofy lighting up a joint in Saludos Amigos (the uncut version was eventually released as a bonus feature on the Walt and El Groupo documentary) and any instance of Pecos Bill with a cigarette in Melody Time.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: A lot of the less sinister villains of the franchise are known for being very fanciful, hammy and at face value outright buffoonish and vain, though during the climax can prove to be just as calculating and deadly as the more serious ones:
    • Prince John of Robin Hood is depicted as cowardly manchild, and he and his forces most of the early half of the film suffering slapstick humiliation, to the point of ending up a laughing stock with the rest of Nottingham. He does not take this well however, and increases taxes and arrests to an extreme detriment and plans to have Friar Tuck executed simply to leave fear in the town. Robin intervenes, though still almost perishes after a far more fearsome battle from the equally buffoonish Sheriff of Nottingham.
    • The hyena clan of The Lion King (1994) are at first set up as bungling Starter Villains who are easily chased off by Mufasa. Then Scar utilizes them in his plan to kill Mufasa and take his place as ruler of the Pride Lands. They later make a meal of Scar after he double-crosses them, quickly abolishing any suggestions of them being mere grovelling lackeys.
  • Obviously Evil: A great many of these films do this, even going so far as to base their color and shape schemes around it (as talked about in the Aladdin DVD documentaries). Just take one look at a character sheet for an average Disney film and you can immediately pick out the villains. This is kind of odd when it's done with Animal Stereotypes — bears are painted as horrible, deadly, kaiju-like monstrous demons in The Fox and the Hound and as friendly and lovable heroes in The Jungle Book (1967) and Brother Bear. However, there have been subversions of this in their more recent films, such as Frozen.
  • Oddball in the Series:
  • One-Winged Angel: Their use of this trope is only surpassed by Square Enix.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Prince Hans from Frozen is this for the entire canon. Unlike every other villain in the canon, there is no indication whatsoever that he is even morally suspect until the Motive Rant at the climax. In a canon defined by hammy Classic Villains, he is entirely defined by Pragmatic Villainy, a flawless mask and skill at manipulation to which even the audience is not immune.
    • Hans would be followed by the villains of Disney's next two movies, Robert Callaghan from Big Hero 6 and Dawn Bellwether from Zootopia, both of which are revealed as being the main antagonist after only brief prior appearances in which they were helpful and supportive to the main protagonist, were not particularly hammy, and did nothing that would directly indicate anything morally suspicious about their character, and Callaghan was even presumed dead by the time of his reveal as Yokai.
  • Parental Abandonment: At least 28 of the features either have their parents missing, dead, or separated from their kids.
  • Period Piece: Most of the films in the canon take place at some time in the past. Only twelve films are set in The Present Day of when they were made: 1. Dumbo (early 1940s; according to the newspaper at the end of the film, which sets the film in March 1941), 2. 101 Dalmatians (late 1950's-early 1960s), 3. The Rescuers (1970s), 4. Oliver & Company (1980s), 5. The Rescuers Down Under (early 1990s), 6. Lilo & Stitch (early 2000s), 7. Chicken Little (mid-2000s), 8. Meet the Robinsons (mid-2000s when not in the future), 9. Bolt (late 2000s), 10. Wreck-It Ralph (early 2010s), 11. Zootopia (mid-2010s) and 12. Ralph Breaks the Internet (late 2010s). And then there are the relative indeterminates: Bambi and The Lion King (1994) take place in an unknown time period (Bambi can be narrowed down to anytime in the last 2-3 centuries), and Treasure Planet and Big Hero 6 are set in a constructed universe.
  • Pigeonholed Voice Actor:
    • Phil Harris (The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Robin Hood) and Cheech Marin (Oliver & Company, The Lion King) are particularly glaring examples of this.
    • Kathryn Beaumont (Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan) who voiced both Alice and Wendy Darling (respectively).
    • Hans Conried (Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty) who voiced Captain Hook/Mr. Darling and possibly as the herald called Lord Duke (a major charcter in the first segment of Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams'') respectively, is best known for voicing and portraying villains, authority type figures, or foils. Ironically, Conried modeled for King Stefan and initially auditioned for Stefan until that role went to the late Taylor Holmes, making an unsolved mystery of the herald's voice actor.
    • Barbara Jo Allen (Sleeping Beauty, The Sword in the Stone) who voiced both Fauna and Lord Ector's scullery maid, respectively.
    • Tudor Owen (101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone) and Junius Matthews (101 Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh'').
    • invokedVerna Felton only ever voiced either energetic characters/stuffy villains (Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Lady and the Tramp) or kindly matriarchs (Dumbo, again), Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book).
    • Pat Buttram (The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound) used his own distinct rural Alabama accent for every character he voiced.
    • Alan Tudyk (Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Moana) is a more recent example, if only for playing antagonists in four movies in a row, two of which were examples of Evil Old Folks. A downplayed example as he brings a good deal of vocal variety to his characters and is being considered the "good luck" voice of the Disney Revival.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: A cute, goofy sidekick will show up a lot in these movies, from Dopey in Snow White, to Olaf in Frozen.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Several of the movies villains fall into this, such as the animal abusing, fur skinning Cruella De Vil, the misogynistic Gaston, the xenophobic John Ratcliffe and genocidal racist, and the religious zealot and would-be rapist Judge Claude Frollo.

  • Random Events Plot:
    • Bambi: The film eschews traditional narrative in favor of episodic mood pieces with an overarching theme of friendship, love and growing up tying it all together. Considering the film is meant to be a naturalistic portrayal of nature, this works perfectly in the films favor.
    • Saludos Amigos: The film has no overarching story, since it's just four cartoon shorts stitched together into a mini pseudo-feature. The only thing that ties it all together is the South of the Border setting.
    • The Three Caballeros: There's no real storyline. It's about Donald Duck (along with Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistoles) going through a series of increasingly bizarre vignettes on Donald's birthday.
    • Alice in Wonderland: Like with the original books, there is no real story going on; the whole film is about Alice going through a stream of conscious series of Random Encounters with the bizarre residents of Wonderland.
    • The films solely directed by Woolie Reitherman (The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and The Rescuers) tended to have very loose, episodic story structures.
  • Recurring Character: With five speaking/starring appearances to his name, Donald Duck is by far the most commonly used character within the canonnote . The only other characters who come close are Jose Cariocanote , Mickey Mouse note , Eeyorenote , and Queen Elsa and Princess Annanote  with three such appearances each. Jiminy Cricket, who recurs in many a Disney work, has two appearances within the canon, in Pinocchio and in Fun and Fancy Free. And this doesn't include the numerous non-speaking cameo appearances made by other characters in multiple films (in which case Mickey and Donald and Jose's appearances in The Little Mermaid for the former two and Alice in Wonderland for the latter one would have to be taken into account).
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: But there are a few exceptions, including Bill the lizard from Alice in Wonderland, Louis the alligator and JuJu the snake from The Princess and the Frog, and Pascal the chameleon from Tangled.
  • Reused Character Design: Very common. Compare...
  • Rogues Gallery: Holy cow, the Disney Animated Canon has one of the largest, most iconic group of villains in not only animation, but media in general, and they are often some of the popular elements of the Disney movies. Even though the movies are mostly self-contained, you'll see them grouped together as bad guys almost as often as you'll see the princesses grouped together, especially in crossover series like House of Mouse and Kingdom Hearts. It got to where an entire book, Frank and Ollie's The Disney Villain, was written about them, all because over 50 of the Renaissance Era Disney animators asked them to do it. And then they got a live-action spinoff, CGI and book series inspired by (but not quite) starring them, Descendants.
  • Running Gag: Recycled: The Series, as well as importing (usually faster-paced) songs to serve as theme songs for the same.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: Disney is not known for accuracy when it comes to adapting myths. Their Hercules adaptation is infamous for this, to the point where it has its own folder in the trope's subpage for works based on the myth.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Most of the male and female partnerships in modern movies, both romantic and platonic.
  • Scenery Porn: Disney's animated films are usually praised by fans and critics for having beautiful environments, and in turn often end up being just as memorable as the stories and characters. Read the list over on the trope's page for Animated Films for the many stand-out examples.
  • Sequel:
    • Sequels are a rare sight in the animated canon. Walt Disney himself was extremely against making full follow-ups to his features (however, he was OK with the odd follow-up short cartoon) and almost all attempts to make feature-length sequels never got beyond the planning stages — the lone exception is debatably The Three Caballeros. It wasn't until the early 90's that another sequel, The Rescuers Down Under, would come out, but its box office failure put the kibosh on more official sequels for years — Fantasia 2000 was the lone exception, and the 2011 Winnie the Pooh film was more of a Soft Reboot than a true sequel. As of the late 2010s, Disney is showing signs of lightening up on this with the sequels to Wreck-It Ralph and Frozen, with a follow-up to Zootopia also being currently in the planning stages.
    • In the 90s and 2000s, Disneytoon Studios did make numerous Direct to Video and made for TV follow ups to their films, but none of them are considered part of the canon.
  • Shades of Conflict: The films generally rely on Black-and-White Morality, and occasionally dip into grayer morality on occasion.
  • Shadow Archetype: In addition to being Classic Villains, the villains of many Disney movies reflect a potential flaw or weakness of the heroes, meaning that they must overcome themselves as well as the odds against them.
  • Shared Universe: Defied. Disney enforces the stance that each film (and its sequels/spinoffs, if there are any) stands on its own, with any "crossover" works declared non-canon and subject to certain rules to ensure they don't mingle too much. For example, Disney Princess merchandise can show the Princesses together in group shots, but they can't make eye contact, which would imply they know each other. In Kingdom Hearts, there's a rule that each world involved can only interact with Mickey and his friends and Original Generation characters, not with each other. Ralph Breaks the Internet stretches this furthest, as it involves several Disney characters, but it uses the excuse that these are Internet fansite versions of the characters and not the real deals.
    • There are occasionally rare exceptions to this. Aladdin and Hercules crossed over in the latter's TV show, and Tangled and Frozen are commonly held to share a universe since Rapunzel and Flynn make a Freeze-Frame Bonus appearance in the latter. Lilo & Stitch teaser marketing involved the latter character messing with the big four Renaissance films, with its original theatrical poster having many of Disney's characters revolted by his appearance, and its franchise's first TV series crossed over with not other Disney films, but rather with other Disney animated shows.
    • Several special Disney featurettes do play the crossover trope perfectly straight however, though many of these make use of the Animated Actors trope to further their discontinuity. The House of Mouse TV series is probably the most iconic case of this, with almost every noteworthy character from the Disney films made at the time shown interacting throughout the show, Played for Laughs of course.
  • Shifted to CGI: All movies made post-2011 are no longer traditionally hand-drawn and are entirelly 3D CGI.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: During most the intense or dramatic climaxes, the comic relief characters aren't usually present. It's so prevalent that the canon has its own folder on the trope's subpage for animated films.
  • Sissy Villain:
    • Scar from The Lion King (1994) is easily the most limp-pawed feline ever to grace the big screen. This becomes a Parental Bonus for the Swedish viewers, where Scar is dubbed by the very gay and very out Actor/Singer Richard Wolff. How out is he? He penned a song describing his Coming-Out Story titled "Beautiful Boys, Beautiful Men." Don't worry, Scar is still awesome.
    • Robin Hood's anthropomorphic depiction of Prince John out-swishes Scar to such a degree, the Lion King villain looks positively Leatherman by comparison.
    • Ratigan of The Great Mouse Detective. Until he drops the veneer and goes feral during the climactic Clock Tower scene, anyway. (He was still rather imposing even before then, due to his enormous size and strength compared to the other characters. Well, as imposing as a big mouse can get, at least.)
    • "Honest" John Worthington Foulfellow in Pinocchio has his moments, though it may be more of a Large Ham persona thing. See the bit where he prances around and mimes throwing flowers while describing Pleasure Island "where every day is a holiday!"
    • Disney's human villains aren't immune either. Take Pocahontas 's mincing, flouncing, bow-wearing villain Governor Ratcliffe, for one. Most of that facade was forced on him by his assistant, Wiggins, who was extremely effeminate. Ratcliffe had his boisterous and rowdy side on occasion, though it was often just an act as well; when his men stood up to him, he folded.
    "Nothing says sinister like little pink bows on your pigtails!" — The Nostalgia Chick
    • Also to mention is Captain Hook of Peter Pan.
    • King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph, up until the moment it's revealed that it was an act to conceal his real identity, Turbo. Lives in a salmon-coloured castle, has a lisp, hops around with various effeminate mannerisms. The castle's actually a plot-point: it's girly because he stole it from a 10-year-old princess.
  • Sliding Scale of Adaptation Modification: The films in the canon that adapt pre-existing stories are all over the place with this. Some, such as Snow White and 101 Dalmatians, fall into Near Identical Adaptation. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad is a special case, as the Wind in the Willows segment is a Recognizable Adaptation, while the Sleepy Hollow section is close to being a Near-Identical Adaptation with some Pragmatic Adaptation elements sandwiched in. Alice in Wonderland falls onto the Pragmatic Adaptation end. Some films like Pinocchio, The Sword in the Stone, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin fall into the Recognizable Adaptation category. Several film adaptations, such as The Jungle Book, The Fox and the Hound, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Frozen and Big Hero 6 fall squarely on the In Name Only end of it.
  • Sliding Scale of Animal Cast: It varies.
    • A big chunk of the canon falls on the Level 7 end of the scale, with many of the films having human protagonists with an animal Non-Human Sidekick or two.
      • Cinderella has Gus and Jacques the mice and Lucifer the cat and in its supporting cast.
      • Sleeping Beauty has Diablo the raven as the sidekick of Maleficent, the humanoid wicked fairy.
      • The Little Mermaid stars humans and humanoid merfolk, but also has Flounder the fish, Sebastian the crab, Scuttle the gull and Max the dog, as well as Flotsam and Jetsam the eels.
      • Aladdin has Abu the monkey, Raja the tiger and Iago the parrot.
      • Pocahontas has Percy the pug, Meeko the raccoon and Flit the hummingbird.
      • The Hunchback of Notre Dame has Djali, Esmeralda's pet goat.
      • Mulan has Cri-Kee the cricket and Khan the horse as Mulan's sidekicks, and Hayabusa the falcon as Shan Yu's sidekick.
      • Tangled has Maximus the horse and Pascal the chameleon.
      • Frozen has Sven the reindeer.
    • Films like Dinosaur and The Lion King have an entire cast of animals with no humans at all.
    • Films like Bambi and The Great Mouse Detective have a human cast implied but never or rarely physically present.
    • Films like Winnie the Pooh and Oliver and Company where the cast is predominately animal but also have a human (or humans) as major supporting characters.
    • Films like The Jungle Book where the protagonist is human but the bulk of the cast is animal.
    • Pinocchio, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad, The Rescuers and The Rescuers Down Under feature an equally human and animal cast.
    • The first act of Tarzan zigzags between 4 and 7 on the scale—the first act is Tarzan living among the gorillas, but In the second act, the humans arrive, including Jane and Clayton, pushing the animal characters to the background and the film to Level 7.
    • The Emperors New Groove is a Level 6; it stars Kuzco the llama, although he's actually a human who fell victim of Baleful Polymorph. The rest of the cast are humans, except for Bucky the squirrel.
  • Sliding Scale of Animation Elaborateness: The films uniformly land at the top of the scale.
  • Sliding Scale of Endings: The films generally end with happy endings, and occasionally feature the odd Bittersweet Ending.
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Most of the Disney Animated Canon falls into the Fantastic part of the scale. Beauty and the Beast is a (if not the) prime example of internal consistency in a fantastic story where the background and the basic rules concerning the magic spell which transformed the prince to a beast (and his servants to house objects), and how it can be undone are disclosed in the opening narration. Some films like The Three Caballeros throw out the notion of realism altogether and land on the Surreal end of the scale.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: It depends on the film, but the films generally tend to roller coaster back and forth between having comedic and serious elements.
  • Sliding Scale of Visuals Versus Dialogue: The older films tend to put more emphasis on visual storytelling than dialogue (Bambi is particularly notable for having less than 900 words of spoken dialogue) while the newer films tend to strike a balance of visuals and dialogue.
  • The Sociopath: A recurring characteristic of the villains. Notable examples include Lady Tremaine, Percival C. McLeach, Gaston, Scar, Mother Gothel, King Candy/Turbo and Prince Hans.
  • Stock Footage: Since Disney often ran into financial trouble from trying so much to show off with their animation, this became a vital cost saver. See this video for examples, with Robin Hood being the most extreme.
  • Storybook Opening: Many of their animated films and shorts opened this way, from Snow White to Beauty and the Beast.
  • Strictly Formula: During the 1990s, Disney had a very successful run from 1989 till 1994, but after that they were often accused of enforcing this trope. Rebellious princesses who want to marry for love, heroines looking for something beyond what they know, bumbling or fantasy-forbidding fathers, bad guys falling off great heights. Pocahontas especially was accused of adhering to Disney formula, which does have some merit as a complaint. Ironically though, the problem seems to have been that all these movies came out in succession, as every single movie of the Disney Renaissance has been Vindicated by History and is now well-loved (some more than others: Pocahontas is still not thought of as a great movie, and The Rescuers Down Under has gained a cult following but isn't anywhere near mainstream).
  • Talking Animal: From the mice in Cinderella to the swamp creatures in The Princess and the Frog.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song:
    • Surprisingly, avoided for the most part. Though some have argued that "Trashing the Camp" from Tarzan qualifies. There's also "Everybody Wants To Be A Cat" from The Aristocats and "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
    • "Human Again" from Beauty and the Beast and "Morning Report" from The Lion King (1994) were un-needed additions to their respective films, since the movies didn't have them originally. ("Human Again" was a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment that rendered the story's timeline confusing, a realization that convinced Editor-In-Chief and studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg to send it to the scrapboard, while Alan Menken and Howard Ashman relocated some of the parts about Belle's and the Beast's love blossoming to the replacement song "Something There". "Morning Report" didn't even exist until the time came for The Lion King to hit Broadway.) They aren't terrible songs, nor completely irrelevant (they're both in the stage versions of the respective movies, too). Neither of them exactly advanced the plot or provided much if any character development, but both are in the Special Editions released during the Turn of the Millennium. The 2011 3D conversions of both movies removed "Human Again" and "Morning Report" once again.
  • The Theme Park Version: While many of the movies in the Disney Animated Canon are Pragmatic Adaptations, they are often seen as Theme Park Versions of their sources due to Public Medium Ignorance. It doesn't help that most people are generally familiar with the actual Theme Park Versions, from the literal theme parks, spin-offs/sequels, crossovers, or merchandise. Considering the popularity of those Theme Park Versions however, the company obviously has no intention of correcting this mindset towards the original films, much to the vexation of fans.
  • Time Skip: Several movies in the canon started adopting this measure beginning in the Disney Renaissance period (though it had been used since the earliest movies), and continuing to this day. It got really egregious during the height of the Disney Renaissance period, when films like Hercules and Tarzan would have two or more timeskips within the expanse of a 3-minute song.
  • Toilet Humor: Averted. Gross-out gags are a rare sight in the canon, and are virtually nonexistent in the older films (the only notable example is Pumbaa farting in The Lion King). The newer films occasionally have them (i.e. Zootopia, Moana) but only in very small doses and strictly as throwaway gags.
  • Tomboy Princess:
    • The Black Cauldron: Princess Eilowny. Although heavily watered down from her original characterization, which fits this more.
    • Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Very feisty, active and adventurous, and can hold her own against a shark—the start of a Renaissance-era tradition involving the Disney Princesses. Her daughter Melody in the sequel fits as well.
    • The Lion King (1994): Nala (although she's never called a princess), as seen when she play-wrestles with Simba on her way to an elephant graveyard with him. That far into the movie, they're just friends (and they don't take seriously the idea that they'd grow up to be more than friends) and you could almost forget they're opposite genders if not for the voices. The Lion King has its protagonist and princess more similar to each other than most Disney movies do. Her rebellious, boisterous young daughter Kiara is another example, especially as Nala matures and becomes more regal.
    • Pocahontas has the titular character, who is athletic, scales mountains, climbs trees, jumps off cliffs, and steers her canoe into turbulent waters. After Merida, she's probably one of the most tomboyish Princesses.
    • The eponymous character of Mulan is not a princess, but she is part of the official Disney Princess lineup, and she's tomboyish to the extent of pretending to be a man to join the army.
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Princess Kida, which seems to be part and parcel of her being The Chief's Daughter, right up to the point where they actually show her climbing up a large rock structure while wearing a long, flowing dress at the end of the film!
    • Princess Merida from the Pixar film Brave. This is the root of the conflict with her mother; she hates the courtly education Elinor gives her and doesn't want to marry. She just wants to ride horses and practice archery.
    • Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck-It Ralph, a spunky and tomboyish little kart racer, is revealed to be a princess at the end of the movie, although she gives up that title to become a President instead.
  • Training Montage: Featured in Mulan, Big Hero 6 and Zootopia.
  • The End: Prior to 1985's The Black Cauldron, every Disney animated film (excluding Fantasia) ended with a screen saying "The End", and below that, "A Walt Disney Production" (during Walt's lifetime) or "Walt Disney Productions" (after his death). The Great Mouse Detective (1986), Aladdin (1992), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) also had "The End" screens, without the Walt Disney credit.

  • The 'Verse: Possibly with all the cameos and Easter eggs and what not. If Kingdom Hearts is considered, each movie takes place in its own world that exists separate from the others due to the events of the Great Keyblade War.
    • Tangled and Frozen are all but explicitly confirmed to exist in the same universe, with Fanon generally accepting Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa to be cousins by way of their respective mothers being sisters. A common theory also places The Little Mermaid in this same universe with the sunken ship Ariel explores at the beginning being the same one that carried the king and queen of Arendellenote .
  • Vanity Plate: With Lasseter's arrival at Disney, newer films (starting with Meet the Robinsons) now have a vanity plate paying homage to the studio's roots in traditional animation and Mickey Mouse's first hit short Steamboat Willie. Like the RKO Radio Pictures/Buena Vista/Walt Disney Pictures logos, it too got an alteration for a film (in this case, Wreck-It Ralph).
  • Very Special Episode: Zootopia deeply explores the nature of social bias between two groups (predator and prey) that have a historical tension between them in a way unexpected of most animated films, let alone Disney movies. It's especially notable given the increasing racial tensity of The New '10s. It is also an incredibly thorough deconstruction of how a World of Funny Animals would actually work.
  • Victorious Chorus: Commonly used at the end of some films.
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: However the "Saccharine Show" becomes less notable with its more mature films.
  • Warrior vs. Sorcerer: Some of the movies feature heroic warriors fighting evil wizards or witches.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Feature Animation


Cinderella's Dress (1950)

The classic version, the Fairy Godmother gifts the Princess to be a magical dress for the ball. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / GorgeousGarmentGeneration

Media sources:

Main / GorgeousGarmentGeneration