Follow TV Tropes



Go To
There is also singing, per the norm.note 

"It was much earlier even than that when most people forgot that the very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood. Later on they took the blood out to make the stories more acceptable to children, or at least to the people who had to read them to children rather than children themselves (who, on the whole, are quite keen on blood provided it's being shed by the deservingnote ), and then wondered where the stories went."

A form of editing or retelling a story that renders a story "safe" for juvenile audiences (or the parents thereof) by removing undesirable plot elements or unpleasant historical facts, adding Broadway-style production numbers, and reworking whatever else is necessary for a Lighter and Softer Happily Ever After Ending. There is often a clearer line between good and evil, which may cause one character to be forced into the cackling villain role. Talking Animal sidekicks tend to be tacked on somehow.

This isn't always a bad thing, though. Done properly (i.e. not too cute or dumbed-down), the Disneyfied property can be just as entertaining as the original or even better (for example, if you're not a fan of Downer Endings, or if they've improved boring parts and given the characters personality, or fixed a Plot Hole). The actual tales themselves are often too short to adapt properly, and the expanded versions can be hit and misses. The reworked Disney versions lead to Adaptation Displacement and Sadly Mythtaken, with most people being unaware that the original fairy tales might have even contained grimmer aspects. Visual representations of the fairy tales are often strongly influenced by Disney —Snow White is seen wearing a dress with primary colors and a red bow in her hair, The Little Mermaid with red hair, a green tail, and a purple seashell bra, and so on.

Named for its most notorious practitioner, Disney studios, although it actually started before the Victorian Era. Ironically, the Trope Maker would be The Brothers Grimm, who despite being the Trope Namer for Grimmification, actually were the first ones to make fairy tales more suitable for children. The violence and sex were actually toned down tremendously from the originals.

A Sub-Trope of Bowdlerise. Compare Abridged for Children, when this happens to the original work. See also Sadly Mythtaken (often caused by this). Contrast Grimmification. Not to be confused with Disneyesque, which is emulating the stereotypical visual style of Disney animated movies, but not necessarily emulating the tone.


  • Disney: For the trope namer themselves.

    open/close all folders 

Non-Disney Examples:

    Anime & Manga 
  • Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette is a family friendly adaptation of Les Misérables, removing almost all the violence, adult themes and angst. It still has its dark moments, though.
  • Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics averts this trope for the most part, and sometimes even inverts it (a few episodes, such as "Hansel and Gretel" and "The Iron Stove", are actually darker than their sources). A few straight examples exist in "Cinderella" (where the stepsisters don't cut up their feet) and "Bearskin" (where the two older sisters don't kill themselves).
  • Cutey Honey Flash changed the original story from a violent and sexy Action Girl series into a shoujo Magical Girl series, quite similar to Sailor Moon.
  • Most of Go Nagai's classics were originally aimed for teens and adults. TV adaptions for kids during 1970s-1980s softened the materials significantly. A notable example is Devilman. Even though the show is still a horror genre, it's nowhere as brutal as the original.
  • Battle of the Planets was the Disneyfied version of Science Ninja Team Gatchaman by dint of some "interesting" (for a given value of "interesting") editing and the addition of the egregious 7-Zark-7 and his cute not-quite-talking robot dog sidekick. Thank whatever powers-that-be, there were no musical numbers. The end result was an entirely different story.
  • The Warrior Cats manga waters down a dark children's series notorious for its Family-Unfriendly Death and other mature themes. The manga adaptations have a cute art-style that contrasts with the realistic cats on the book covers. There's barely any violence, the plots focus on romance and non-actiony elements, and there's Bloodless Carnage galore. This is enforced by TokyoPOP. They wouldn't even allow a shot of a dead rabbit without censoring it to be less graphic.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in the Danish comic book series Valhalla. Most of the stories from the Nordic Mythology are both severely simplified and kidified. On the other hand, the comic series also features gore, boobs and full frontal nudity! The comic pays a lot of homage to the original myths even when changing them.
    • Two kids, who have little to do with the original mythology, are made into protagonists for most of the earlier books.
    • In one myth Freyja sold her body to receive the Brisinga-necklace, but in the comics she just gave up a small part of her blood. In the case of Freyja, Odin (and the reader) are led to believe for most of the story that she did, indeed, sleep her way to getting the necklace. Odin gets Loki to steal it for him, intent on asking the same price for it as she originally paid if she wants it back (instead of asking her to cause strife in Midgard). He wasn't expecting her to cut her finger and give him a few drops of her blood.
    • The book dealing with Baldur's death takes this trope even further. Loki kills Baldur purely by accident (not on purpose, like in the original myth), and he spends much of the story trying to avoid committing the prophesized murder, thereby setting up the very circumstances that lead to it. Granted, Baldur still dies, but when he comes to Helheim (the realm of the dead), his cheerful disposition makes the goddess Hel so happy that the dark and miserable Helheim spontaneously turns into a lush, green pasture.
    • The final album in the series, which deals with Ragnarokk also manages to play this trope, even if it deals with the prophesied end of the world. It does so partly by playing up the oft-forgotten "rebirth" part of the myth, and partly by treating the "end of the world" as not the literal end of the human world, but a sign that the Scandinavian lands were converted to Christianity. The famous scenes of Asgard burning, Odin being swallowed by the Fenris wolf and Thor falling in battle with the Midgard serpent still happen, and are treated very dramatically, though the end of the story reveals in roundabout ways that this probably wasn't their final end and that they would go on in some form even if they were no longer worshipped as gods. The biggest Disneyfication is in Loki's fate, though: In the original myths he is killed by Heimdall, but in the comic he skips out of their fight and escapes to the untouched Midgard with Tjalve and Roskva. He gets about half a page to gloat that he's the only god left before being interrupted by a pair of Christian monks who invite him down to the newly-built church and join him in the worship of the "Almighty Lord."
  • Asterix does this for The Roman Republic and the Roman conquest of Western Europe. Plenty of Politically Correct History is used — for instance, the historical Gauls were big fans of human sacrifices and killed enemies often in highly disturbing ways to serve as a deterrent, but the Gauls in the comic are big-hearted, childish party animals who love a good, friendly brawl and to poke fun at authority, and Nobody Can Die is in full effect (save for a single Hoist by His Own Petard death in a particularly dark story). Slaves in the comic are usually shown in such a way that the horror of being literally owned by another human being is nullified; the gladiators in one story all decide they prefer playing parlour games to fighting; the pirates, while not quite The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, are way too incompetent to actually get any pillaging done; and the complicated politico-sexual mess between Cleopatra, Caesar and Mark Antony is completely glossed over in favour of excising Mark Antony and making Caesar and Cleopatra a happy (if prone to bickering) husband and wife, with Cleo being something of a softening influence on him. Brutus, one of Caesar's eventual murderers in Real Life, is portrayed as Obviously Evil and just there for Dramatic Irony Horrible Judge of Character jokes.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • The Gone with the Wind fic GWTW: The Animated Film parodies this.
    Meeting up with Rhett, the pair sings a duet or so before wondering what to do. Rhett is still blockade running slaves, and offers to smuggle Scarlett out along with Big Sam, so that they can both settle down in peace. Scarlett, after three animated moments of agonising soul searching, decides to refuse. Her place is with her people, she tells him. The Yankees have reached Atlanta, and though the South's defeat seems imminent, Scarlett cannot betray her side, faulty and racist though they may appear to be even after all of Disney's modifications.
  • This is discussed in Fixing RWBY. Ruby Rose loves fairy tales but grew up on the darker, older versions. She later saw how they were made softer for newer generations. The fact that something enjoyable can come out of something so unpleasant resonated with her. Ruby sees the world as being plagued by monsters, but it can be improved by hunters fighting these monsters. That's why Ruby's so invested in becoming a huntress.
  • Rainbow Brite and the War of Darkness has the original Rainbow Brite show being the fictionalized incarnation of Brian's memories of Rainbow Land. They're watered-down for children. Brian only saw a select portion of Rainbow Brite's life and only saw the kid-friendly parts. Only parts of the show were accurate to real life. Most was pure fantasy.
  • Walt Disney Presents: The Lord of the Rings shows what would've happened if Disney had gotten their filthy paws on The Lord of the Rings instead of Ralph Bakshi for the first attempt at an Animated Adaptation of the book. Ugly extras, butchered scenes, butchered songs, comic releif, cutesy-poo animal sidekicks, and romance subplots crammed in where they're not wanted (between Frodo and Arwen), and reducing Gandalf to an idiot because he attacks Barad-Dûr by his lonesome and gets captured because Saruman was cut to keep from confusing people.

    Films — Animation 
  • Golden Films has some examples:
    • Camelot removed the sexual undertones of the original myths to make the story kid-friendly. It still shows the adulterous affair between Guinivere and Lancelot, but anything explicit is not shown, not even a kiss.
  • The DreamWorks movie The Prince of Egypt was relatively faithfully adapted from the book of Exodus. However, it still Disneyfied...
    • The potential drowning of Pharaoh. Given the relationship between the Pharaoh and Moses in the movie (and the movie's efforts to humanize him), killing the Pharaoh off would have been a pretty bad dramaturgical choice. (The last time we see him he's roaring Moses' name to the heavens in despair, while on the other side of the Red Sea Moses whispers "good-bye, brother.") It also glosses over that such a pounding would result in severe internal injuries.
    • There is spontaneous chariot racing for whatever reason.
    • The original text reveals Moses as actively deciding to kill the Egyptian taskmaster for beating a Hebrew slave instead of a moment's impulse causing an accident. Then he (unsuccessfully) tried to cover it up to avoid blame.
    • Moses was 80 years old and father of two sons when he came to see the Pharaoh. He also was "slow of tongue" and so Aaron did the talking. Moses as a younger man is probably more due to the influence of The Ten Commandments (1956) than this trope.
    • The movie ends on the most hopeful point possible after the crossing of the Red Sea, showing Moses coming down with the Ten Commandments. It stops there on a Happily Ever Before note, leaving out all the business with the Golden Calf, the Hebrews' struggles and wandering in the desert for forty years, and Moses's barring from the Promised Land and death.
  • Anastasia:
    • The movie manages to show the Russian Revolution without mentioning Communism. Instead, Rasputin is plucked out his historical context for use as a pure Evil Sorcerer (ignoring his complex relationship with the Romanovs), and given an annoying talking bat as a Non-Human Sidekick.
    • They didn't even mention Lenin, the Soviets and the Bolsheviks when they attacked the Czar's palace... Which is closer to being historically correct. Bolsheviks were not a major power until November in 1917 (it's mostly forgotten these days that there were two Russian Revolutions in 1917, the first overthrowing the monarchy and the second being the Bolshevik takeover). Well, except for Soviets, given you recall what that word originally meant.
    • There was one Communism joke. One. "That's what I hate about this government: everything's in red!" They get out of the USSR about as fast as the plot can carry them, saving it from any further inconvenient relevance to the cute-little-bugs musical numbers.
    • There was also a nick at the laws on free speech at the time, but it's very subtle.
  • This actually happened to Tom and Jerry, of all characters, in The Movie, where they ditched most of the slapstick, started to talk and sing, became best friends, and helped a little girl reunite with her father. Needless to say it was not very will liked.
    Tom: "Don't... you... believe it!"
  • The Warner Bros. animated feature Quest for Camelot, supposedly based on Vera Chapman's novella The King's Damosel, itself a feminist retelling of the Arthurian tale of Linette and Gareth. Similarities between the book and the film are, in total, that the lead character is an Action Girl with a falcon, she's accompanied by a blind man, and it's set in Arthurian England. It was decided to add songs to compete with Disney, change all the lead characters' names, add three Non Human Sidekicks, add more Disney cliches to make the film more of a Disney-esque musical, and to top it all off, dump the Bittersweet Ending in favor of "Kayley" living Happily Ever After with "Garrett" (an amalgamation of Lucius [the blind man] and Gareth).
  • Titanic movies:
    • Titanic: The Legend Goes On alters history so that (almost) everyone survives, including bad guys who would be considered Acceptable Targets, and also shoehorns some really bad singing and dancing in. It's a ripoff of a bunch of more famous movies, such as like James Cameron's Titanic (1997), with comic scenes practically lifted wholesale from Disney movies.
    • It's even worse in The Legend of the Titanic, released at the same time as the former in Italy, where the ship is rescued from sinking by a giant octopus atoning for having chucked the iceberg in the ship's way in the first place. And in this one, everyone survives, even the captain and the band. The only possible saving throw is the ending, which implies that the narrator of the story, as a sailor, exaggerates and makes up stuff. This does absolutely nothing to excuse the sequel, which involves mermaids, Atlantis, talking toys, and evil mice.
    • Parodied in a 1998 installment of Saturday Night Live's animated "TV Funhouse" segment, there's a Real Trailer, Fake Movie for a Disney film called "Titey" in which the Titanic is a singing, dancing ship and the story mangles history in countless ways - the ship swordfights a singing, dancing iceberg voiced by Whoopi Goldberg, and then "refuses to stay sunk" by being rescued by a gang of wise-cracking whales. (The final line of the skit is "See it, or your children will hate you!") The sad thing is, this skit predated the two above films — and if ever became a real movie, it'd probably still manage to be better than them.
  • The Swan Princess for the most part stays true to the original Swan Lake fairy tale, but makes the classic set of changes: talking animal sidekicks, a healthy dash of women's lib, and a happy ending in which the swan and the prince marry instead of drowning themselves in the lake. They even went on to star in direct-to-video sequels and are still alive and kicking!
  • The Rankin/Bass Productions movie adaptation of The Hobbit makes a few questionable changes (all death is represented by the screen spinning) but is actually less destructive than you would expect. But for a sequel, Rankin-Bass got to make a mawkish version of The Return of the King. However, it also manages to avert the trope at the end, as not only does the mortally wounded Thorin die on screen, but a total of seven of the thirteen dwarves are killed in the Battle of Five Armies, as opposed to the three who are killed in the original book.
  • A particularly egregious case occurs in The King and I. The king's advisor Kralahome is turned into the Big Bad. Animal sidekicks are omnipresent, and they serve little actual purpose in the story. The slave girl Tuptim is given as a love interest to King Mongkut's eldest son instead of Mongkut himself to avoid the implications of a fifty-something man interested in a teenage girl. The King's multiple wives are never referred to as such, giving the impression that they are merely servants. Comedy is put in the movie in exchange for the stuff taken out. And yet the film includes a rather stereotypical caricature in the form of the villain's sidekick. The King also lives at the end of the movie. The estate of Rogers and Hammerstein was not pleased with the film, and as a result it no longer allows animated adaptations of its musicals; this move plus the film becoming a Box Office Bomb crushed the career of director Richard Rich.
  • Arthur and the Minimoys was an international hit and yielded two sequels, but the American release of the first film, retitled Arthur and the Invisibles, failed miserably at the box office. This might be because the American release completely removed the romantic subplot between Arthur and Selenia.
  • The Secret of NIMH is based on a book called Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. There were a number of small changes between the books:
    • Notably, Mrs. Frisby of the novel became Mrs. Brisby in the film (mainly to avoid trademark issues with the Wham-O! company).
    • A shift of focus from the rats' time at NIMH to Mrs. Brisby's looming crisis.
    • Some of the characterizations are obviously much more whimsical and goofy than in the novel (particularly Jeremy).
    • However, the biggest and most Disneyfied change is the random inclusion of magic and mysticism, which plays an important role in the movie, but was not present in the book whatsoever. Many fans prefer the movie to the books — enough that a large schism is present in the NIMH fandom.
    • Then there's the treatment of Jenner, which actually inverts this trope and adds more drama and darkness with making him the evil, murderous Big Bad out to take control of the rats, while in the book he's never even seen, just mentioned as a rat that disagreed with the way the tribe was living, and so he and some others that thought the same way packed up and left (However, it's implied that he and they are the dead rats found in an electronic store, and this sets up the last act of the book, as the rats who stayed behind must leave the farm before human authorities track them down too.)
    • There's also a larger death count in the film. Oh, and Justin says "Damn" once.
  • In came The Secret of NIMH 2: Timmy to the Rescue, the sequel to The Secret of NIMH. Despite being an example of Lighter and Softer of the highest order, it uses some elements from the book the novel neglected (e.g. Brutus turning out to be a Gentle Giant, the NIMH survivors being six rather than two). That said, these mostly do play more into softening the tone of the film, and naturally also cause some contradictions with the first film.
  • It didn't hit much harder than in The Thief and the Cobbler. What was intended to be Richard Williams' magnum opus (and a decidedly anti-Disney film) eventually became a victim of Executive Meddling, and the film was edited by different studios to fit into the Nineties Disney format. The theatrical versions added musical numbers, half of which were very dated pop ballads; Yum Yum became a stock Rebellious Princess; and the two voiceless title characters were given dialogue and would talk constantly. Critics even dismissed the movie as a knockoff of Disney's Aladdin despite the former's production beginning three decades earlier.
  • The Animated Adaptation of Animal Farm is Disneyfied in a similar manner to the later live action version. Although a notable difference is that while the animals in the live action adaptation express their displeasure of Napoleon's policies after a cumulation of him sending Boxer to the butcher shop and altering the entirety of the animal seven commandments, especially the seventh, by simply leaving the farm, the animals actually rebel outright against Napoleon and his pigs and successfully depose his regime. Though, given that the original novel was an allegory about Stalinism, and the animated adaptation was in large part bankrolled by the Central Intelligence Agency, this is understandable. Maybe not ideal, but understandable.
  • The Mighty Kong is a version of King Kong with musical numbers (done by The Sherman Brothers no less), a boy and his monkey, the voice of Ariel, and dancing animals. Also Kong lives at the end.
  • The 2003 Spanish animation El Cid: The Legend tells the story of real-life national hero Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. Though it lacks elements such as magic and musical numbers, this is an historical adaptation that takes several liberties to make it lighter and softer, such as toned-down violence, the lead being less morally ambiguous and a couple of animal sidekicks, all to make it more palatable for families.
  • Christmas Carol: The Movie has mice added for comic relief and cuteness purposes, and Scrooge and Belle make up and have a happy ending.
  • The 2017 CGI movie of Condorito is more like Pixarfication in this case. The general character design was reshaped as modern CGI movies and also were modernized, specially noticed on Cone.
  • Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Gahoole:
    • The movie greatly tones down the violence and darker elements from the books, including removing the "fun" fact that Digger's brother was killed and eaten by the St. Aggie's owls. As well as depicting Soren's parents as alive and well rather than being murdered offscreen by Kludd.
    • Kludd himself is also made to be more sympathetic by having him initially be a separate character from The Metal Beak and slowly corrupted by the Pure Ones. Unlike the Complete Monster and Enfant Terrible he was in the books.
    • The setting's status as a Fantasy Conflict Counterpart of World War II is also dropped.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Wizard of Oz: The original L. Frank Baum books contain a surprising amount of casual and sometimes decidedly un-PC violence: in the first one alone — besides the wholesale witchicide — the Scarecrow twists the necks of crows sent to attack them, the Tin Woodsman chops the heads off vicious wolves, and the Cowardly Lion swats the head off a giant spider with his paw. And, of course, the Tin Woodsman became tin by gradually having all his bits cut off and replaced — up to and including his head. Additionally in the book Dorothy intentionally throws the bucket of water on the Wicked Witch after the Witch steals one of the Silver Shoes (she doesn't know it'll make her melt of course). The film changes this to Dorothy trying to put out a fire on the Scarecrow's arms and the water accidentally splashing on the Witch. Granted the way the violence is depicted in the books are somewhat averted, with the above mentioned examples being cases of Bloodless Carnage.
  • The ending of The Witches (1990) is altered from the Bittersweet Ending of the original book so that, rather than the protagonist remaining a mouse because there's no spell to restore his humanity, the Canon Foreigner surviving good witch turns him back into a human and is implied to do the same for Bruno as well. Roald Dahl reportedly hated this change so much, he stood outside cinemas with a megaphone to tell people not to watch it.
  • The Little Princess (1939): In addition to changing its heroine from a quiet, thoughtful girl into Shirley Temple's usual brassy, vivacious smart-aleck, the film softens the hardships Sara undergoes, changes the villain's weak and complicit sister into a heroic brother, and, while Sara's father is reported dead, he's really suffering from a head injury and brain damage, including amnesia. There have been more faithful adaptations since, but even the 1995 Alfonso Cuaron version has her father survive.
  • The Golden Compass:
    • The movie noticeably ends the story a bit early — before the bit where Lord Asriel murders the little boy Lyra thought she was saving in cold blood. It was filmed but saved as an opener for the second movie — needless to say, it proved to be a Stillborn Franchise. It's possible to find cobbled-together versions of the chopped-off ending; it's very beautiful and heartbreaking and a shame that it looks like it will never be seen.
    • In a useless effort to forestall complaints from religious viewers and to get Nicole Kidman to take the job, a lot of the original anti-Christian themes were also removed.
  • In almost every film or television adaptation of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the N-word is taken out. In one particularly tacky example, a CBS Made-for-TV Movie made Jim white and removed any mention of slavery. Also, at least one removes all trace of barefootedness for some reason.
  • Although the film Enemy Mine and the novella both have happy endings, the film has a very optimistic one in which Davidge saves Zammis from evil slavemasters and this leads to an implied greater understanding between humanity and the Dracs, as Davidge is added to the line of Jeriba. Meanwhile, the novella instead ends with Davidge saving Zammis from his own people, who have had him imprisoned as mentally ill due to his strong identification with humans. Davidge then takes Zammis back to the planet Zammis was born on and Davidge and Jerry crashed on and founds a colony for those few humans and Dracs that are willing to look past the hostility and cultural differences between the races and work together in a spirit of cooperation, while giving up on a greater reconciliation of the two peoples in his lifetime.
  • Stardust replaces the bittersweet ending of the book with a straight-up happy ending. Rare in that author Neil Gaiman actually gave his blessing to the change, saying it served the film better than the book's ending would have done.
  • Even by the low, low standards of movies that are Very Loosely Based on a True Story, The Greatest Showman definitely disneyfies P.T. Barnum and history in order to be a PG-Rated Family Musical. First off, in real life, Barnum did, in fact, have a father who was a tailor. But he also had a rich grandfather named Phineas Taylor, who is conveniently left out so the movie can make it look like Barnum grew up in extreme poverty to gain audience's sympathy. Not only that but the movie also makes it look like he wasn't successful at anything until he created the circus, which couldn't have been further from the truth, considering he had several businesses running before he created the circus.
    • But it really disneyfies his relationship with his circus performers. The movie makes both Charles Stratton/Tom Thumb and The Bearded Lady, both of whom were 5 years old and a baby in real life when they started working for Barnum, into fully grown adults who could give their consent to joining Barnum's circus. Plus it also ignored that Stratton was not only a child but Barnum had him drink alcohol to entertain people. And, while the movie does acknowledge that Barnum had his performers alter their appearance to make them look more unique than they already were, the ways he did it were far more horrifying than what the movie showed. And let's not get started on Joice Heth, amongst other people!
    • Director Michael Gracey stated on the DVD commentary that the Disneyfication was invoked because Barnum rewrote his autobiography twice, and burned the original prints, to make his life seem more fantastic than it was; as such, they felt the movie was one that Barnum would actually make about himself (casting a man with a heroic build like Hugh Jackman to play himself, writing his late wife into the movie to show his fidelity, having a lesson about how family is more important than fame, etc).
  • The book The Call of the Wild does not hesitate to describe the harsh realities of the wild, sometimes in graphic detail, but the 2020 film adaptation softens or removes several events. Most notably, the book has Buck defeat Spitz by breaking two of his legs with crushing bites and then killing him by ripping his throat open. In the movie, Buck just pins Spitz, who submits to Buck and then wanders off to disappear into the wilderness.

  • Charles Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty" was preceded by the 17th-century tale "Sun, Moon, and Talia" by Giambattista Basile, in which the princess was woken not by a kiss, but by being raped, giving birth — both while unconscious — and her child sucking the sleep-inducing splinter out of her finger. The ending of one variant of the tale is the princess being so pissed off when she realizes what's happened to her that she eats the babies.
  • Notably, The Brothers Grimm made many of their fairy tales less scary than their original versions. This was partly because of complaints that their first edition was not suitable for children. They had, after all, titled it Household and Children's Tales. They chiefly cut down the sex and converted evil mothers to wicked stepmothers, and some stories such as "How Some Children Played at Slaughtering" were left out entirely from later editions. Later writers toned down the violence. One interesting example is what they did to the story of "Rapunzel". In the most commonly encountered version, Mother Gothel learns that Rapunzel's being visited in her tower when Rapunzel tells her — asking her, "How is it, good mother, that you are so much harder to pull up than the young Prince? He is always with me in a moment", which makes the heroine seem at best a bit on the dim side. In the original edition, Rapunzel was only naive, not stupid: she wanted to know why her dresses had grown so tight—specifically, around her stomach.
  • Older Than Steam: Folktales were being softened as far back as Charles Perrault's version of the Pentameron in 1696.
  • Little Red Riding Hood. In the earliest version, the wolf kills the grandmother, tricks the girl into eating her flesh and drinking her blood, then eats her. Perrault's version leaves out the cannibalism, but still ends with the girl's death. Only the Brothers Grimm added the huntsman.
  • Gulliver's Travels is often a victim of this trope because it has giant Brobdingnagians and small Lilliputians which make for easy kid appeal, but the original novel is satirical and includes a scene where Gulliver upsets the Lilliputians by pissing on a fire to put it out. This scene, needless to say, is nearly always changed.
    • Most modern renditions leave out vast amounts of Gulliver's Travels, starting with scenes like the one in which a Brobdingnagian woman uses Gulliver as a dildo, and moving on to excise the entire second half of the book with the voyages to Laputa and the land of the Houyhnhyms, which can in no way be made kid-friendly.
    • The closest interpretation was the 1996 TV movie featuring Ted Danson, and even that one told the story differently, with Gulliver being treated as a mental patient raving about his adventures, while Grimmifying many elements of the tale and toning down the various elements involved in the story's ending, whether they contributed to its Downer Ending or not. At the end, he's proved sane when his son finally manages to live-trap a Lilliputian sheep (which he'd brought back from that journey) and present it to the judge.
    • The 2010 film notably keeps the peeing scene.
  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard discusses this, with the tales of a bowdleriser who'd rewritten the primal and admittedly occasionally horrific Tales to be filled with obnoxious Glurge. Dumbledore sourly comments that hearing her versions of the Tales causes children to be filled with "an intense urge to vomit". However, the book takes a sympathetic stance on her, attributing her attitude as being caused by sneaking downstairs as a child and hearing her sisters talk about what she claims was the most bloody of the Tales, but what is implied to be details of a sexual affair. And apparently "The Warlock's Hairy Heart" was just too gruesome for her to find a way to give it this treatment.
  • Mercedes Lackey's retelling The Black Swan splits the difference on the happy vs traditional endings to Swan Lake: Odette and Siegfried throw themselves in the lake but are restored to life by a turned-good Odile.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Merlin. Goodbye incestuous lovechild of Arthur and Morgan le Fay, hello adorable orphan druid boy. Mordred does get considerably less adorable as the series goes on. He was a Creepy Child when he was first introduced, and he just keeps getting creepier. At one point he magically picks two spears and stabs one soldier with each of them. Then he smiles. All this before the watershed. Worth noting that the incestuous love child was in itself a Retcon. In older stories Mordred is not related to Arthur (though nor does he have magical powers), and Morgan le Fay is a good Fae (hence the title), one of the three who take Arthur to Avalon. Even after Mordred was made a relative of Arthur, he was originally just portrayed as his nephew, the child of his sister Morgause and her husband, Lot, rather than his nephew and son.
  • Wishbone does this as a matter of course, being a kids' show about reading literature. Does it ever make you wonder what happens if some of these kids get inspired to actually pick up one of those old books that have been "edited" by these shows?
  • Clueless: Even though Dionne and Murray had sex in the movie, they do not hook-up on the TV show until the last episode of the show.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger was Disneyfied rather abruptly in the fifth season. Three weeks after "Forgotten People", the plot of which dealt with a veritable Dr. Mengele working in a nursing home, there was "Brainchild", featuring an orphaned Child Prodigy, whose best friend is a talking supercomputer, and a plot more fitting of a late-60s live-action Disney flick.
  • CNNNN parodies and subverts this in a commercial for an animated musical based on Oedipus the King, which doesn't actually seem to tone down the patricide, incest or Eye Scream from the play even while singing about it.


  • Stephen Foster — The Musical was originally the story of Stephen Foster's life, called, appropriately, The Stephen Foster Story. It was later revised to give the story a happy ending and omit references to slavery.
  • Wicked is much more kid friendly than its source novel. You can't have the heroine of a musical (at least, not a Stephen Schwartz one) be a homicidal terrorist — or dying at the end. Gone are the heavy religious, political, moral, and sexual themes of the Wicked book.
  • La gazza ladra is based on actual history. At the last minute, Ninetta, the heroine, is saved from the scaffold, whereas the real accused wasn't so lucky.
  • Stagings of the Swan Lake ballet are divided on the happy ending vs the traditional: some have the lovers die (or parted forever as Odette is condemned to remain a swan), while others have them live happily ever after. Research suggests that the happy ever after one might be the originally intended ending of the ballet... which would push it in the opposite trope.
  • Inverted by the stage musical of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which utilizes the music of the Disney movie, but retains the dark storyline of the novel, including its Downer Ending.

    Video Games 
  • In-world example: In Escape from Monkey Island, the legacy of the dread pirate Tiny LaFeet is Disneyfied by real estate kingpin Ozzy Mandrill to better appeal to local tourists. According to Ozzy's marketers, the actually quite mean Tiny LaFeet "always said 'please' and 'thank you', twice!"
  • Occurs in story in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, when the tale of a war hero is repackaged as a story for kids:
    Richard Baxton piloted his Recon Rover into a fungal vortex and held off four waves of mind worms, saving an entire colony. We immediately purchased his identity manifests and repackaged him into the Recon Rover Rick character with a multi-tiered media campaign: televids, touchbooks, holos, psi-tours, the works. People need heroes. They don't need to know how he died clawing his eyes out, screaming for mercy. The real story would just hurt sales, and dampen the spirits of our customers.
  • Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 2's GT Mode's ending was disneyfied in a very odd way. In the Dragon Ball GT series itself, Goku had to sacrifice his time on Earth to allow Shenron to revive all those killed during the reopening of Hell and the Shadow Dragon's emergence, and apparently returns to Earth 100 years later in the final episode. In GT Mode, however, Goku (who is an adult in this instead of a kid) ends up wanting to have lunch after killing Omega Shenron, with Vegeta making a snarky comment while leaving with him as if nothing happened.
  • In the arcade version of Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Marian is killed off by Machine Gun Willy and she stays dead in the end. In the NES version, she is still killed off as well, but the scene where she is shot to death by said villain (who is absent in this version) is never shown and she is restored to life after defeating the final boss (a new villain who was not in the arcade version).
  • In Dynasty Warriors, many of the events depicted in the series tries as much as it can to make all the political intrigue, alliances and marital relationships present in the original Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel, and some historical excerpts, to be as a lighter and mystified as possible. The most horrid actions are altered to be less harmful events, people with much blood in their hands through morally ambiguous actions are pushed as very ideal heroic figures, marital relationships are often very romantic and set out of real love, instead of mere arranged marriages with some level of tolerance towards each other at best, or outright hatred at worst.
  • Activision's Oink!, a video game adaptation of The Three Little Pigs, avoids the Family-Unfriendly Death of the pigs when the Big Bad Wolf captures them by simply having the wolf chase the pigs off the screen.
  • Many yokai have dark backstories or behaviors. Yo-Kai Watch softens most of it up to appeal to a young audience.

  • Oceanfalls gives a rare In-Universe example. Most fairytales heard within the world of Oceanfalls tend to be of the Grimm variety, but one of Aria and Kotori's old hobbies was rewriting them to have more optimistic and happier endings.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • VeggieTales used to do this to Bible stories, but more recently they've expanded their horizons to any story they want to use.
  • The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police replaces the guns with bazookas and generally has the characters involved in decidedly not detective-related plots. Max also has a much friendlier voice and personality than he did in Sam & Max Hit the Road. However, the humor and general atmosphere is still there.
    Max: I never dreamed we could have this much fun and still be suitable for young viewers!
  • The PBS show Super Why! makes adaptations of fairy tales where Disneyfication runs rampant:
    • Of "Hansel and Gretel": The title characters go and nibble on the witch's house. The witch comes out and yells at them for ruining her roof. After a brief break for literary education from Our Heroes, Hansel and Gretel apologize to the witch; she accepts their apology and delivers the moral, then gives them cookies shaped like houses.
    • Of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses": Turns out they were sneaking out to plan a surprise party for their father, the king. What this has to do with the original tale's twelve princesses. And there might have been some dancing.
    • Of "The Little Mermaid": The title character is afraid to play with the kids on the island because she has a tail. Combine with an especially Anvilicious frame story about "being different" and it's arguably the worst of the lot.
    • Of "Sleeping Beauty": The reason that Sleeping Beauty was asleep was not because she got pricked on a spinning wheel due to a curse, but because she stayed up too late.
  • Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child mellowed down most of the fairytales they adapted. For instance, their "The Little Mermaid" adaptation is closer to the source than the Disney movie, but in the end the Mermaid marries the Prince anyway.
  • The Darkstalkers cartoon. While originally there was a lot of moral ambiguity, with the monster hunter wanting to kill nice monsters and even the main heroine not caring about being queen, the cartoon had Black-and-White Morality and was way less violent. For example, Demitri's teeth are just two fangs instead of an entire jawful of sharp teeth. They also tone down all the sexual elements, turning Morgan from a sexy teenage-looking succubus heroine to an older-looking villainess in a much less appealing outfit.
  • Dino Babies often adapted stories this way. For example, their adaptation of Oliver Twist ended with Oliver finding his mother, while in the original story she was dead from the start.
  • The first four seasons of Thomas & Friends have some examples of how the adaptations from The Railway Series become less dark and harsh:
    • In the novel "Resource and Sagacity", Oliver falls into a turntable thanks to the troublesome trucks and was given a stern talking to by The Fat Controller, Donald, and Douglas whom the latter two were angry that he had broken their turntable. In the television adaptation "Oliver Owns Up", The Fat Controller was more forgiving towards Oliver and advised him on how to handle trucks better and the other engines felt sorry for Oliver in his situation and hoped that he returns from the works to be mended.
    • "Tenders For Henry" (adapted as "Tender Engines") omits almost all references of steam being abolished in other railways and the revelation of all but one of Gordon's brethren being scrapped.
    • The TV adaptation of "Wrong Road" tones down a Black Comedy moment, in which Bill and Ben argue whether they should push Gordon into the sea or scrap him, in increasingly graphic detail ("Besides, he'd make a lovely splash!").
    • Many episodes that ended with the starring engine suffering a Humiliation Conga or left in disgrace were altered or lengthened for a more upbeat ending. "A Scarf For Percy" for example adapts "Percy and the Trousers" loyally, but adds a longer epilogue in which Percy is cleaned and makes up with Henry. "James Goes Buzz Buzz" also adds a side plot with the Reverend raising bees for honey, and James' situation inadvertently helping him, leading him to get praised at the end of the story.
    • The episodes adapting More About Thomas The Tank Engine cut down Thomas and Percy's feud to just the first episode (due to not adapting the stories in order and the final story "Drip Tank" being omitted). In the original version of "Thomas, Percy and the Coal", Thomas laughed at Percy's mishap with the coal, leading Percy to swear revenge. In the TV episode, Thomas decides to call it even and they make peace in the shed later.
    • In the novel version of "Percy's Promise", Percy's train merely consisted of Annie and Clarabel, meaning that Percy's Driver and Fireman had to chop up some of Clarabel's floorboards to use as firewood for Percy's boiler. In the TV Series adaptation, a non-sentient brake van is added to the train, and Percy's driver and fireman are able to get floorboards from it.
  • The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo is even more Lighter and Softer than the Disney version - there are spells and magic potions, Never Say "Die" is firmly in place, and Frollo has no romantic interest in Esmeralda at all. Also, Phoebus was Adapted Out.
  • Subverted in an episode of Transformers: Rescue Bots where Cody tells the Rescue Bots the story of John Henry and intentionally skips over the Downer Ending.
    Cody: John Henry worked as hard as he could, and he beat that machine with the strength of his arms and the power of his mighty heart.
    Boulder: So he got to keep his job?
  • In the HBO Storybook Musicals adaptation of The Little Match Girl the story is set in more modern times, the girl doesn't die, and she receives a Happily Ever After. Oddly, their adaptation of The Marzipan Pig kept its depressing nature.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Parodied in "The Daughter Also Rises", where Grampa tells Lisa the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, only for Lisa to discover a Disney-like version with the tragic ending removed and a rapping parrot thrown in.
    • Lampshaded in "Throw Grampa From the Dane" regarding the Disneyfication of The Little Mermaid.
      Soren: (describing the Little Mermaid statue) Created in 1913, The Little Mermaid is a world-famous icon of Denmark.
      Bart: No, The Little Mermaid was created by Disney, right before he created Spider-Man and Star Wars.
      Soren: This is the real Little Mermaid. And she was a very tragic figure.
      Bart: What about her buddy, the crab?
      Soren: There was no crab!
      Bart: He was the only funny thing in it.
      Homer: Got that right.
  • Lampshaded in an episode of Garfield and Friends where a cricket named Ichabod poses as a conscience for Garfield and tells him to read the book version of Pinocchio, only to then stop him so that he wouldn't get sued by Disney. At the end after Ichabod ends up causing more trouble for him, Garfield shows him what really happened in the book... which has the cricket getting squished by Pinocchio.
    Ichabod: It wasn't like that in the movie!
    Garfield: No, but that's the way it was in the original book. And here. (chases Ichabod, trying to squish him with a rake)
  • Robot Chicken ruthlessly parodies this with their sketch on The Diary of Anne Frank, which is reimagined into a Home Alone-esque Rom Com starring Hilary Duff.
  • Danger Rangers did this to two different historical works in the music video segment "Don't Touch That!" to get across the aesop of not playing with poisonous chemicals:
    • Socrates drinking hemlock is portrayed by Fallbot accidentally stumbling upon a cup of it and saying "I shouldn't have touched that!" before falling apart. In reality, Socrates was charged with the crime of corrupting the youth and was given the choice of either death by drinking hemlock or being exiled. He chose the former because he refused to be away from his home of Athens.
    • The ending of Romeo and Juliet is changed to Romeo (played by Sully) drinking the cyanide he found on the step of Juliet (Kitty)'s house as she pleads him to not do so. The actual play has Romeo do this to take his own life when he thinks Juliet isn't alive.
  • A good majority of cartoons based on Marvel and DC comics tend to be aimed at children, and lighten up some of the more adult elements found in their source material, such as sex, violence, drug use, and murder. For example, the Joker's gas kills people and leaves them with a grotesque rictus grin in the comics, while most cartoons keep the smiling aspect, but with his victims giggling uncontrollably instead of outright dead. Your Mileage May vary on which one's creepier. Another, better example is the Green Goblin tossing Mary-Jane off a bridge into an inter-dimensional portal, instead of tossing Gwen Stacy off a bridge to her death.


Video Example(s):


Double Trouble

The TV series adaptation of the story "Thomas, Percy and the Coal" from the book "More About Thomas the Tank Engine" has its ending revised so it's more child-friendly. In the book, Percy vowed revenge on Thomas after he laughed at his mishap with coal, but in the episode, Thomas and Percy decide to call it even and apologize to each other in the shed.

How well does it match the trope?

3.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / Disneyfication

Media sources: