Despite its innocuous-sounding premise, The Brave Little Toaster is infamously regarded as one of the darkest animated family films of the 80s, as these examples can attest to.
- For one, the movie has a surprising number of allusions to suicide.
- The Air Conditioner raging himself to death after Kirby triggers him by reminding him that he's stuck in a wall. His resentment of his function in life to sit in one place, watching as The Master would play and interact with the other appliances, sends him into a fit of Tranquil Fury which slowly builds into screaming rage as he literally flies apart, spewing sparks and flames until he short-circuits. It's like the machine equivalent of watching someone die from a rage-induced aneurysm. Toaster is even surprised that he took it so hard. Thankfully, The Master fixes him, giving him a little validation in the process.
- Lampy, in an effort to recharge the battery when it goes dead at a crucial moment, uses himself as a lightning rod. It works, but he's violently electrocuted in the process and the scene ends on a Fade to Black on his broken, burnt body. Thankfully, we see him alive, but in critical condition, in the next scene.
- Upon seeing the huge waterfall that the group has to cross, Kirby has what can only be described as a terror-induced seizure and tries to swallow his own cord.
- In the final verse of "Worthless," the green pickup truck decides to Face Death with Dignity and drives itself onto the Conveyor Belt o' Doom rather than be picked up by the magnet.
- And of course Toaster sacrificing itself to save The Master.
- All of this is Harsher in Hindsight considering that Thomas M. Disch, author of the original book, eventually shot himself in 2008.
- The appliances going into the woods as the sun sets. We hear animals sounds as they travel through. And startled by an owl flying by. Later when they decided to rest, the bushes suddenly shook, startling the appliances who hear a growl (either from an animal or the approaching storm).
- Toaster's dream, symbolizing it's deepest fear of shorting out and accidentally killing his beloved Master. And then there's THAT CLOWN.
- Take a look at the clown's hair. It makes him look like the Devil!
- It touches upon a bigger subject do appliances dream? The answer is yes - and their nightmares are all about not being used for their intended purpose. Toaster being dropped into the bathtub and being shocked to death is the tip of the iceberg. You don't want to imagine what kind of bad dreams a blender would have.
- Blanky being sucked up into a stormy night's sky, disappearing into the pitch-black sky, as everyone stand out in the middle of the rain and lightning and calls out for him, Toaster's calls growing more and more desperate. Lampy tries to use himself as a search light, but the battery goes dead, leading to the aforementioned moment where he uses himself to recharge it and nearly destroys himself in the process.
- The way that this scene is followed by Toaster's nightmare about getting violently electrocuted.
- The terrifying part when everybody is near doomed, sinking down the quicksand.
- Kirby making snide remarks ("I knew I shouldn't have let you guys drive!") until he realizes that he's really sinking and yells for help.
- The eerie way Blanky reassures Toaster by saying "I'm not scared..."
- Had Mr. St. Peters not seen Radio's tiny antenna sticking out of the mud, they'd have all drowned then and there.
- The worst part is when a blender is dismembered by the goofy shopkeeper who laughs as he does it. This is played exactly as if it's getting brutally murdered (which on the level the audience is watching it really is), dripping fluids and all. The scene also invokes vivisection and organ harvesting, complete with protective sheet on the table and rubber gloves.
- When the shopkeeper takes the main group into his workshop, Blanky looks especially unnerved at the sight of his tools for dismemberment/etc.
- "It's a B-Movie". Menacing, deformed appliances, the little plaintive part in the middle ("There goes the sun"), and the spooky shadow puppets. The portable fan even gets an Eye Scream.
- "There goes the sun
Here comes the night
Somebody turn on the light
Somebody tell me that fate has been kind
You can't go out
you are out of your mind!
Look at me, I mean, really! Barf, barf, barf. I'm a can opener, a lamp, and a shaver. Oh god, I'm a mish-mash!
- The fan lifting the appliances into the shadows at the end.
- The Mish-Mash◊, which has been driven insane by the deformed and mutilated condition she's in.
- She then flops down, either unconscious or dead, and gets lifted away by a bunch of cords.
- The fact that the deformed, broken or amalgamated appliances singing about how horrifying their existence is is not the darkest song in the movie.
- The song "Worthless" is packed full of Nightmare Fuel that would probably only apply to older people watching the film, since the catchy but fairly complex (for a kids' movie) lyrics are riddled with oblique hints of aging, death, and suicide. Seriously, try imagining humans singing that song and see where your mind takes you.
- The pink convertible's verse, which is intended to sound like a washed up Valley Girl but could just as easily come off as a cry for help from someone with depression.I just can't
I just can't
I just can't seem to get started
Don't have the heart
To live in the fast lane
All that has past and gone.
- The car that sings about how she once took a Texan to a wedding. The lyrics state that 'he kept forgetting, his loneliness letting his thoughts turn to home and we turned' revealing that they crashed on the way to the wedding. This is immediately followed by a second car declaring that he took a man to a graveyard ending with those two cars going into the compactor together. It's not hard to believe that the Texan who crashed on his way to the wedding was the same man who got taken to the graveyard.
I took a man to a graveyard
- The line said by that second car (a hearse) may very well be the most chilling in the entire song, and that's saying quite a lot:
I beg your pardon, it's quite hard enough
Just living with the stuff I have learned.
- The yellow Packard Woody (the surfer van) looks salvagable...why is it in the junkyard? Look at the board strapped to it—there's a huge chunk bitten out of it, right where a person's head and right shoulder would be (while laying down and paddling, which is reportedly when most shark attacks on surfers happen). The previous owner may have died, which could explain what a 40s-era van is doing in a junkyard during a movie implied to take place in the early 80s; it languished for years and was simply forgotten about and discarded because no one cared enough about it.
- And don't forget the one car who, after singing part of his verse about how his life has amounted to nothing, jumps onto the conveyor belt of his own volition. The people who wrote this must have been going through some seriously tough times. Supposedly, the writers intended to show that car sacrificing itself for another vehicle, but it ended up looking like a suicidal move.
- Even the above-mentioned magnet looks taken-aback at the sight of a car intentionally driving onto the conveyor-belt to go to the crusher.
- Among the cars at the junk yard is a schoolbus with nothing more than a broken window and a damaged eye or headlight. Might he have been damaged while transporting children?
- One of the cars is trying desperately to escape the conveyor belt by turning his wheel.
- The pink convertible's verse, which is intended to sound like a washed up Valley Girl but could just as easily come off as a cry for help from someone with depression.
- THE MAGNET. An angry creature chasing you from above, who can see you wherever you hide, and if you're made of metal (or at least in close proximity of it) you can't move! 100% Paranoia Fuel.
- Even worse, this is something that can not only carry you to your death, but it can get angry and spiteful! When the gang hide from it, it becomes so enraged that it just sucks up all of the garbage in it's immediate vicinity until it's just a big, floating ball of scrap, then dumps it all onto the conveyor belt.
- The fact that the cars are all humanized by having faces makes the magnet seem downright homicidal. When it tries to kill Rob, its eyes disappear, erasing any humanity in it and rendering it more frighteningly alien.
- The junk yard itself is basically the appliance's equivalent of a disturbingly grotesque mass grave...
- The appliances freezing when they think that Rob is coming around a corner to find them, thus leaving themselves inanimate and totally vulnerable to when it turns out to be the magnet, looming over them slowly and menacingly. Kirby's holler of "RUN!" sounds perfectly terrified.
- How about Rob's near-demise? Seeing the cars get crushed one by one is bad enough, but when a human is there, it's viscerally terrifying!
- Notice how the rest of the scene is tinted blood-red. Subtle? No. Scary? You better believe it.
- And at the height of this incredibly intense scene, Rob begins SCREAMING HIS LUNGS OUT knowing that he's about to be slowly crushed to death. All the Toaster can do is watch in frozen terror as the scene is reflected on it's face.
- The whole time Rob is on the Conveyor Belt o' Doom, Chris is calling his name trying to find him. When the trash compactor stops, we get a bit of Black Comedy when she seems only mildly frustrated that he's up there. She had no idea that her boyfriend was in serious danger. One wonders how she would have handled eventually finding his bloody remains coming out of the other side of a trash compactor.
- The toaster's Heroic Sacrifice, and decidedly Family Unfriendly Disney Death via graphic mutilation in the inner workings of the trash compactor!
- The compactor. All the other machines have some semblance of intelligence. He-it-just sits there, mindlessly eating anything the Magnet feeds it. The fact that it looks like a skull doesn't help either.
- In one scene, we have very non-consensual experimentation including what amounts dissection and sewing multiple appliances together.note And in another scene, we see a highly efficient means of disposing of those who have been deemed no longer useful. Now I wonder what that could symbolize.