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Western Animation / The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

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Promotional Art Always Lies: No scene like this actually takes place in the film, much as one might wish it had...

"Three of the world's greatest story-tellers... Walt Disney, Bing Crosby, Basil Rathbone... bring you two of the most fabulous characters ever screened!"

Released in 1949, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is the 11th film in the Disney Animated Canon, and the last of the six (or seven, if you count Fantasia) "package films" created by the studio in The '40s before they returned to full-length feature animation with Cinderella. Like Fun and Fancy Free, it is a collection of two short films, bundled together to make one feature-length movie. Despite the title, the two eponymous characters' stories — which have nothing to do with one another — are actually presented in the reverse order:

  • The Adventures of Mr. Toad or The Wind in the Willows: Narrated by Basil Rathbone, it stars J. Thaddeus Toad (voiced by Eric Blore), owner of the fabulous Toad Hall. His various obsessions and his reckless personality cause a large amount of damage to the town. He thus has acquired a large amount of debt. His latest obsession, motor cars, gets him into trouble with the law. Sent to jail for stealing a car, he breaks free and sets out to clear his name.
  • The Story of Ichabod Crane or The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Narrated by Bing Crosby, it stars the lanky Ichabod Crane (also voiced, like most of the male characters, by Crosby), a newcomer to the small town of Sleepy Hollow as their new schoolmaster. He becomes smitten with the richest woman in town, and competes with the local men for her affections, but soon finds himself facing off with the Headless Horseman one Halloween night.

Unlike most other Disney animated features from before the age of home video, this was never given a theatrical re-release. The two shorts are seen apart in individual collections more often than they are together in their original package film form.

Nowadays, the film is probably best known for the fact that the Mr. Toad portion inspired "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" at the Disney Theme Parks.

The film provides examples of:

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    The Wind in the Willows 
  • Actor Allusion: The narrator, Basil Rathbone, mentions Sherlock Holmes as one of many possible nominees for the most fabulous character in English literature. This is taken a step further by Ratty, who wears a deerstalker cap and a coat very similar to Holmes' trademark garb, and Moley could pass very easily in appearance as an animal Watson.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The segment omits all of the subplots involving Rat and Mole, which Walt Disney deemed too boring for a Disney film, which is why the movie had to be released as part of a package film.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Cyril's role is expanded on, as he becomes not only Toad's horse but his best friend and partner in crime; he appears as a witness at Toad's trial and helping him to bust out of prison. In the book, he was simply an unnamed, non-speaking horse.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the original story, Toad was in fact guilty of stealing the motor car. The Disney adaptation changes it so that Toad was framed for it and has to clear his name.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Kind of. Toad is given the full name "J. Thaddeus Toad," while Badger has been renamed "Angus MacBadger".
  • Adaptational Nationality: Badger's nationality is changed from English to Scottish, and gets the full name Angus MacBadger to match this.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: The segment retains the basic personalities of all the main characters from the novel, with the exception of Ratty. Wheras in the original novel and most other adaptations of the story, he is a considerably laidback and easygoing chap with a definite Bohemian streak (though not above expressing annoyance with Toad's overly reckless behavior), the Disney version turns him into a caring but incredibly stuffy and proper Englishman.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Also doubles as Named by the Adaptation. The chief Weasel becomes a human named Mr. Winkie.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original story, while incredible jerkasses who steal Toad's house while he is in prison, requiring Toad and his friends to drive them out in the climax, the weasels aren't truly villains. The Disney film, however, turns them into full-fledged criminals who use the naive Toad as a fall guy for their auto-theft by tricking him into trading Toad Hall for the stolen motor car. Early versions of the film played this trope even more so, by having them nearly shoot the gang just to prevent them from exposing them, only to be saved just barely by the police showing up upon hearing the commotion.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the original novel, the four protagonists snuck into Toad Hall to face the weasels in direct Good Old Fisticuffs, and won, scaring all the weasels out. In the film they are clearly outmatched by the weasels and have to retreat with the deed to Toad Hall. It's especially noticeable with Angus MacBadger; in the book Badger was feared and respected by the weasels from the start because he could take on any number of them, but in the movie he's more of a neurotic if temperamental older gentleman who isn't much use in a fight and is easily the one who's the least involved in the struggle for the deed to Toad Hall.
  • Anthropomorphic Zig-Zag: Cyril Proudbottom. When he's introduced, he's a Talking Animal walking on all fours like a real horse. But for the rest of the segment he is seen walking upright and even successfully disguises himself as a human being. Well, he disguises himself as Toad's grandmother, who, presumably, is also a toad. (How myopic would a prison guard have to be...?)
  • Ascended Extra: Cyril Proudbottom. Toad did have a horse in the original novel, but he was an extremely minor character and only appeared briefly. Here, Cyril is Toad's loyal Sidekick.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: After Mr. Toad escapes from prison, and MacBadger reveals that Mr. Toad really did trade off Toad Hall for Mr. Winky's (probably stolen) motorcar, it's up to Mr. Toad and his friends to get it back! And they do so on Christmas, so that Mr. Toad's name is cleared by New Year's Day!
  • Backfire on the Witness Stand: In his trial for car theft, Toad swears that he bought the motorcar fair and square, trading it for the deed to Toad Hall. He calls Mr. Winkie, proprietor of the tavern where the deal took place, to corroborate. Toad introduces him as "a man of unimpeachable honesty" and actually begins to walk out of the courtroom thinking he already won. Once Winkie takes the witness stand, however, he shamelessly lies in order to incriminate Toad.
    Toad: Now, Mr. Winkie, do you recall an incident that took place in your establishment, about August the 12th, that I was a party of?
    Winkie: Oh, yes, sir. That I do, sir.
    Toad: Well, then, just tell the court what actually happened.
    Winkie: Well, gov'nor, you tried to sell me a stolen motorcar.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Toad uses one to escape his bedroom. Also used later for lowering Mole to get the deed from Winky.
  • Big Bad: Mr. Winky
  • Blatant Lies: It all takes just one from Winky to get Toad framed. "Unimpeachable honesty", indeed!
    Toad: Tell the court what actually happened.
    Winky: Well, guv'nor, you tried to sell me a stolen motor car!
  • Bring the Anchor Along: Toad escapes jail by disguising himself as a washer woman, hiding the iron ball he's chained to under the dress as a bustle.
  • British Stuffiness: In what's probably the most radical departure from the book, Ratty has become an extremely stuffy and uptight "proper gentleman." Both the narrator and Cyril comment that he's a rather stuffy sort of fellow.
  • Carnivore Confusion: And incidentally, one of the most confusing examples ever. Not only do Rat and Mole have a roast turkey for Christmas, but it's also small enough to fit on their dinner table. And considering that the animals are drawn to scale in this story, it almost suggests that one of these anthropomorphized animals killed a three-inch turkey. Though it could've just as easily been some kind of songbird, like a sparrow or finch.
  • Cassandra Truth: The prosecutor and the judge don't believe Cyril's testimony that Mr. Toad traded his own wealthy estate for a simple motorcar, because, admittedly, few people would actually make such a bad trade of their own free will.
  • Cement Shoes: Subverted. Mr. Toad ended up in a river with a metal ball chained to his leg, but only because he jumped there himself to escape the police. And even then, he is able to get out of the water before he drowns.
  • Character Catchphrase: Toad gets one: "Travel! Change! Excitement!"
  • Chase Scene: There's also a train chase during Mr. Toad's escape from prison.
  • Clear My Name: In the climax of the segment, in order to prove that Toad didn't know the motor car he had traded Toad Hall for was stolen, he and his friends need to get the deed he signed back from the Weasels.
  • Composite Character: Cyril replaces the Jailer's Daughter as the one who gives Toad his washerwoman's disguise to help him escape from prison.
  • Crappy Holidays: Mr. Toad prepares to spend Christmas in prison... until Cyril shows up to spring him.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Mr. Winkie, the mustachioed bartender, who trades the automobile to Mr. Toad in exchange for the deed to Toad Hall, and later on, accuses Toad of stealing a car that the weasels themselves had already stolen, falsely accusing Toad of trying to sell him a stolen car.
  • Deadly Dodging: During the climax, four weasels are about to hit Ratty over the head with clubs, but he ducks at the last moment, resulting in the weasels knocking each other out instead.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When the police start gaining on Toad during the train chase, Toad decided to give them the slip by jumping into an upcoming river under a train bridge. He succeeds and starts laughing at the thought of his pursuers chasing an empty train for who knows how long... only to remember that he still has his prison ball attached to him and holding him underwater!
  • Disguised in Drag:
    • Mr. Toad disguises himself as a woman to get out of prison.
    • Cyril, whose idea it was in the first place, who also dressed up as Mr. Toad's grandmother.
  • Disneyfication: The segment changes the story so that Toad is innocent, whereas in the book he really did steal the car.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cyril has a moment of this during Mr. Toad's trial.
    Prosecuting Lawyer: How did he get the motor car?
    Cyril: The only way a gentleman gets anything: the honest way.
    Prosecuting Lawyer: And what is the honest way?
    Cyril: Ha ha! I thought you wouldn't know that, governor.
    (Cue jury breaking out in laughter)
  • Demoted to Extra: With the focus on Toad, the other three main characters of Wind in the Willows suffer from this. Mole is hit especially hard; while he's the main focus of much of the original novel, here he's little more than Ratty's sidekick, and barely gets any lines.
  • Easily Forgiven: Toad does not hesitate for a second in forgiving the sincerely remorseful Ratty and Moley for sternly attempting to turn him over to what they believed were the authorities after learning that Toad was actually innocent the whole time.
  • Faint in Shock: McBadger does this twice: first when he learns that Toad has traded Toad Hall to weasels for a motor car and again at the end when Toad has gained a new mania: airplanes.
  • Fatal Flaw: Toad's lack of impulse control is constantly getting him into trouble. The only reason it hasn't completely ruined him is because of his fortune and his more responsible friends.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: Toad received an extremely harsh sentence for supposedly stealing a motor car. The narrator justifies this by saying that the courts were determined to make an example of him.
  • Fighting Your Friend: Not a very straight example, but Ratty's friendship with Toad briefly ends and he angrily refuses to help Toad when the police arrive at his house pounding on the door (it turns out to actually be MacBadger, who has discovered Winky and his weasel gang in Toad Hall and now realized Toad was innocent), thinking he really did steal the motor car.
    Toad: (on his knees panicking) Hide me! Hide me, Ratty!
    Ratty: Sorry, Toad, but you owe a debt to society, and you've got to pay! Mole, let them in.
  • A Fool for a Client: Toad represents himself in his own trial. It does not go well for him.
  • HA HA HA—No: This is the crown prosecutor's reaction to the idea that Toad legally got the stolen motorcar through a trade in exchange for Toad Hall.
    Crown Prosecutor: Hmm... traded Toad Hall, an estate worth a hundred thousand pounds... for a motorcar. (Starts laughing uproariously for a bit to the judge, who joins in for a bit, before the crown prosecutor angrily confronts Toad) You expect me to believe that?!
  • Have a Gay Old Time: After Toad gets imprisoned, we have the narration: "Hearts were gay and spirits high".
  • Here We Go Again!: At the end of the segment, the characters' toast to the new, reformed Toad is interrupted by Toad unveiling his new obsession: airplanes.
  • High-Class Glass: Toad puts on a monocle to get a closer look at a motorcar.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: MacBadger's reaction to hearing that Toad traded Toad Hall for the motor car.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When he's warned that the police are on his tail, Toad laughingly mocks them and the idea that he could be scared of them until the police actually turn up, at which point he's swiftly struck with terror.
    Toad: Afraid of the police? I? Toad? Afraid of the police? (laughs until a loud knock comes from the door)
    MacBadger: Open up! Open up, I said!
    Toad: (horror-struck) THE POLICE!
  • Ignored Aesop: While in prison, Toad realizes that he has been irresponsible and promises to never let his impulses get the better of him again. Unfortunately, once he escapes he reverts back to his usual self and the segment ends with him recklessly flying a plane.
  • Impoverished Patrician: At the start of his story, Mr. Toad's estate is on the verge of bankruptcy as a result of his reckless impulses. At one point he even loses Toad Hall by trading it for a motor car, even if only temporarily.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: While escaping from prison, the police officers are more than willing to shoot at Mr. Toad with real guns. Fortunately, they don't even come close to hitting him.
  • Interrogation Flashback: During Toad's trial, Toad's horse Cyril is put on the witness stand, and as he tells the story (in rhyme) of how Toad got the stolen motorcar, the scene then plays out onscreen.
  • Jerkass: The prosecutor at Mr. Toad's trial isn't quite an Amoral Attorney, but he goes about interrogating the witnesses in such an abrasive and accusatory way that it's hardly a shocker that the judge did not hold Cyril in contempt for accusing the prosecutor of not knowing the "honest way" of dealing.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Toad is opportunistic, unruly and difficult, but he loves his friends.
  • Judicial Wig: Both the judge and the prosecutor wear white curly wigs (though the former's is far longer than the latter's) in the episode where Toad is on trial. Toad himself puts on a curly white wig while representing himself. The story takes place in England, where even in modern times, judges and lawyers both wear wigs in court.
  • Keep Away: A huge scuffle for the deed to Toad Hall and, subsequently, proof of Mr. Toad's innocence. Toad complicates things by throwing out dozens of decoy deeds.
  • Kill It with Fire: Winky attempted to do this to the deed in early versions of the Mr. Toad segment, only to be foiled by Ratty and Moley just in time.
  • Macguffin Melee: In the climax, the characters fight over possession of the deed to Toad Hall.
  • Manchild: Moley is very innocent and childlike at times. As is Toad, though where Moley is more like a kind and gentle Cheerful Child, Toad's more of a hyperactive and unknowingly destructive kid with a number of personality disorders.
  • Motor Mouth: The man introducing Toad's trial speaks in a rapid, tightly informative manner.
  • Mouse World: The Wind in the Willows segment is an interesting variation, in that the animal characters interact with human ones and nobody thinks it the least bit odd.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ratty and Mole both have a mild version of the reaction when they learn that Toad was innocent after they had nearly turned him over to the authorities out of disappointment in him.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: As Winky and the weasels chase after the deed, which has been made into a paper airplane, Toad throws more decoy paper planes to throw them off the trail while he pockets the real deed.
  • New Year Has Come: The segment ends with the characters toasting the New Year "and a new Toad". Well, one out of two ain't bad...
  • Nice Guy: Mole, who borders on being a Kindhearted Simpleton.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: As Toad's crew sneak upon Toad Hall in a rowboat, they pass by a weasel standing guard. Toad impulsively tries to shoot at him with a shotgun and has to be restrained by his friends. This arouses the weasel's attention and he follows their trail to the secret passage into Toad Hall. He catches them just as they are about to make off with the deed, and the Keep Away chase with Winky and the weasels begins. This never would have happened if Toad just remained still as they approached Toad Hall.
  • Nominal Hero: Toad is mostly concerned with his various hobbies, staying out of jail and reclaiming his home and fortune rather than any moral causes.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Mr. Toad's failed attempt to walk out the door of the courthouse during Winky's testimony only made him more guilty in everyone's eyes.
  • Off with His Head!: During the keep-away chase at Toad Hall, there is one scene where two weasels hold Moley down while Mr. Winkie tries to chop his head off! Fortunately, Mr. Toad rescues Moley with a well-timed Vine Swing.
  • A Plot in Deed: Toad is arrested for stealing a motorcar, but he claims he exchanged it for the deed to Toad Hall. He calls Mr. Winkie, owner of the pub where the trade took place, to corroborate, but instead Winkie claims Toad tried to sell him the motorcar, and Toad is put in prison. Later, McBadger discovers Winkie and the weasels living in Toad Hall, with Winkie holding the deed. So our heroes have to steal the deed back to prove Toad's innocence.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The segment does avoid being an In Name Only adaptation by keeping Toad's personality the same as in the book (even if other characters are very different) and staying true to the basic story structure of the Toad parts of The Wind in the Willows, but it does change a few things up, attempting to turn Toad more sympathetic by having him actually innocent of the crime he's imprisoned for.
  • Recycled Animation:
    • The tussle for the deed to Toad Hall is the first use of the chase scene that was later seen in The Jungle Book (1967), with Baloo as Mole and Mowgli as the deed, and Robin Hood (1973), with Lady Kluck as Mole and a football as the deed.
    • During Toad's escape from jail, the dogs from Bambi show up. Their most realistic designs stand out against the other, much more cartoony characters.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Mr. Toad. In fact, the "rich in dollars" part is questionable due to the huge debt he's in from all the damage fines handed to him.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: For some reason, Cyril testifies to the court about Toad's agreement with Winkie and the weasels through rhyme.
  • "Somewhere" Song: Inverted early on in the Mr. Toad story, where he's "merrily on the road to nowhere in particular".
  • Stealth Pun: The prosecutor "interviewing" Angus MacBadger assumes he's answering "yes" to each loaded question, while MacBadger doesn't really get a chance to truly answer. He was "badgering" the witness, who is a badger!
  • Stolen Macguffin Reveal: When Toad, Ratty, Mole, and MacBadger manage to escape the weasel gang with their lives, MacBadger bemoans that they failed to get the deed to Toad Hall. Then Toad pulls a paper airplane out of his pocket and unfurls it, revealing it to be the deed.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: A shot of Toad Hall's hallway shows some portraits of toads in Renaissance-Era Noblemen's attire. All of these toads look like Mr. Toad in period clothing.
  • Stuffy Brit: Ratty, of all animals, as a stark contrast to his more laid-back and easygoing book counterpart.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: One that's Played for Laughs. Toad and his friends manage to retrieve the deed from Mr. Winky and the weasels, proving Toad's innocence and presumably landing Winky and the weasels in jail. However, as everyone gathers to celebrate their victory, Toad suddenly disrupts the celebration by recklessly flying an airplane over Toad Hall with Cyril, showing that he has learned nothing from the ordeal and will continue to create headaches for MacBadger, Ratty, and Mole with his manias in the future.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: During his trial, Toad is sure that he's going to win; he's casual about the whole affair, serves as his own attorney, and even prepares to leave the courtroom during his final witness' testimony. Justified in that he is innocent, but he doesn't know that his witness, Mr. Winky, is in league with the Weasels and planning to throw him under the bus.
  • Thrifty Scot: Angus MacBadger, who is in charge of Toad's finances. Although pretty much anyone would be thriftier than Toad.
  • Train Escape: Toad steals a locomotive to escape the cops, who commandeer another locomotive to give chase.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: It is not mentioned if Mr. Winkie and his gang were ever punished. They stole a motorcar, obstructed justice, and attempted to murder Mr. Toad and his friends, yet there is no shot of them being dragged off to jail. Of course, the final scene of Toad and his friends was at Toad Hall, so they were at least evicted.
  • Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: The prosecutor refuses to believe Cyril's testimony because he refuses to believe that Toad would be stupid enough to trade Toad Hall, an estate worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, for a simple motorcar.
  • Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Breaks out of jail? Evades arrest? Steals a train? Apparently none of that matters because Toad didn't steal the car! Admittedly, it's one step up from the book where he actually did steal the car and still escaped with no repercussions, but still...

    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Tilda at the Halloween dance. Desperate to dance with Katrina, a partnerless Brom tries to use Tilda to swap dancing partners with Ichabod, which backfires completely when she becomes madly smitten by him and refuses to let go of him.
  • Accidental Truth: Brom Bones seemingly made up the story about the Headless Horseman to terrorize the superstitious Ichabod Crane. Depending how you interpret the ending, however, the Horseman may be Real After All.
  • Accidental Ventriloquism: While Ichabod is teaching a singing class, Brom Bones pranks him by making a dog howl just as he reaches a high note, which makes him believe he produced that howl himself.
  • Actor Allusion: Ichabod is a Chick Magnet despite his gaunt features, much like his voice actor Bing Crosby. He also does some of Crosby's signature "ba ba bo" scatting, in which his facial animation even changes to a greater resemblance.
  • Adaptational Villainy: 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.
  • Aerith and Bob: Lampshaded during Ichabod's introductory song with the phrase: "Ichabod, what a name./Kind of odd./ But nice just the same."
  • The Alleged Steed: Ichabod Crane borrows a skin-and-bones, broken down plow horse (named Gunpowder, in the book, but unnamed here) to ride to Van Tassel's Halloween ball, traveling at a plodding pace. When faced with the Headless Horseman on the way home however, Gunpowder panics and takes off like a champion racehorse, outrunning the Horseman's black steed.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Tilda spends her entire time on-screen trying to snag a man, and after Katrina marries Brom, she demonstrates how enthusiastic she is about the whole idea.
  • Ambiguous Ending: It's never made clear whether Ichabod Crane was killed by the Headless Horseman, or he simply fled Sleepy Hollow out of fear. The latter is implied, but never confirmed as the townspeople prefer to believe the ghost story.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Aside from the ending, it's never made clear whether the Headless Horseman is real or Brom Bones in a disguise, like in the original story.
  • Anti-Villain: Sleepy Hollow goes out of its way to prove that Brom Bones, while he's 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).
  • Artistic License – History: In this version of Sleepy Hollow, the night of Van Tassel's party and Ichabod's ensuing encounter with the Headless Horseman takes place on Halloween, with the townspeople explicitly celebrating the holiday. In real life, Halloween was not widely celebrated in the United States until the mid-19th Century, several decades after the story is set, when it was brought over by Scottish and Irish immigrants. In fact, in the original story the party is actually a "quilting frolic" celebrating the harvest season.
  • Asshole Victim: Regardless of his fate, Ichabod Crane kind of deserved his encounter with the Headless Horseman. It's made abundantly clear that despite the girls (especially Katrina) fixating on him, all he's really after is money and free food. He even has a fantasy about marrying Katrina and waiting for her old man to croak so he can inherit his vast fortune. With that in mind, do you really feel sorry for him by the end?
  • Babies Ever After: One possible ending has Ichabod marrying a widow and having children... who all -- daughters included -- look like him.
  • Badass Cape: The Headless Horseman has one that billows dramatically as he rides.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Brom is ultimately able to chase Ichabod away. Interestingly, Disney's presentation of the story plays up Brom Bones as more of an Adaptational Jerkass compared to the original, thereby likewise emphasizing this trope, unusually for a brand otherwise synonymous with The Good Guys Always Win.
  • Big Bad: The Headless Horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
  • Big Eater: Ichabod LOVES food, despite his almost emaciated appearance. Half the gags in the segment are visual gags about him swiping or otherwise getting food, and at Katrina's party, he gathers up a huge plate of food from the buffet.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • Downplayed. Ichabod puts on a veneer of sophistication and charm, but in reality he's a mooching jerk who uses the women of the town for free food, and even mostly falls for Katrina because of her father's money.
    • Possibly Katrina, who it's implied is just leading Ichabod on to get under Brom's skin. It's made very clear that she likes having men fight over her.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Brom Bones. He's the strongest and handsomest man in town, a notorious prankster, and a great guy to have at parties. See Establishing Character Moment below for a great specific instance of this.
  • Butt-Monkey: Brom Bones. The man would honestly not be all that out of place as the bad guy in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. However, he does get to marry Katrina in the end.
  • Buxom Beauty Standard: The narrator admiringly describes Katrina as "a blooming lass, plump as a partridge" (and he's certainly not talking about her waist). Her waist actually has a smaller circumference than her neck.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: Brom Bones claims this about the Headless Horseman. Ichabod manages to cross the river and turns to see if the Horseman can follow him; he doesn't, but he does throw his pumpkin head at Ichabod.
  • Chase Scene: Between Ichabod and the Headless Horseman.
  • Chick Magnet: The ladies quickly take to Ichabod because of his fascinating lanky appearance, sophistication and charisma. Ichabod notices their food.
  • City Mouse: Ichabod Crane is a well-dressed, superstitious, rake-thin Anglo-Saxon in a town full of rustic, sensible, well-fed Dutch Americans.
  • Cool Horse: Cyril, Brom Bones's black horse, and the Headless Horseman's black steed (the latter two are very possibly one and the same.
  • Creepy Cemetery: The Sleepy Hollow graveyard which appears to be the Headless Horseman's encampment.
  • Creepy Crows: After leaving the Halloween party and riding through a dark and ominous wood, Ichabod hears a crow, which flies off cawing, "Beware! Beware!"
  • Creepy Jazz Music: Brom Bones (which is to say, Bing Crosby) sings a jazzy song about the Headless Horseman to scare Ichabod.
  • Dark Reprise: When Ichabod is coming up to the dark forest, following being scared out of his wits by the story of the Headless Horseman, he is whistling an eerie version of "Katrina".
  • Deadly Dodging: While being accosted by Brom, Ichabod spends most of the scene either reacting too quickly to touch or not even noticing the attempts to sock him in the face.
  • Determinator: Tilda. Once Brom offers to dance with her (to try and foist her on Ichabod), she absolutely refuses to let go.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Upon first sight of Katrina, Ichabod, who has his hat in one hand and a turkey in another, becomes so enamored that he places the turkey on his head and takes a bite out of his hat.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The Hollow, which is where the Horseman supposedly lurks on Halloween Night. While it's fine during the day, at midnight, with the moon covered by omnious clouds, it's so terrifying it borders on an Eldritch Location.
  • The Door Slams You: While Ichabod is wooing Katrina Van Tassel in her home, her would-be boyfriend Brom Bones is seething with anger outside. As Ichabod is about to leave, Brom hides behind a double door waiting to attack him. Ichabod swings out the upper half of the door, slamming Brom into the wall and squashing him.
  • Downer Ending: Sort of. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow lets the viewer decide if Ichabod simply moved away from Sleepy Hollow or was actually "spirited away" by the Headless Horseman. Whether it was a harmless prank or not also tends to alter whether or not the viewer feels that Crane had it coming.
  • The Dreaded: The Headless Horseman. According to Brom Bones' song even the demons themselves are afraid of him.
  • Dude Magnet: Katrina, who is both quite pretty and the daughter of the richest man in town.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Brom's song states as much, that the ghoul doesn't seem to have a racial preference on whose head he takes: "Black or white, or even red / The Headless Horseman needs a head!"
  • Establishing Character Moment: Ichabod's is when he opens a gate for a woman balancing a heavy load of pies — and then reveals he snuck a pie away for himself (as well as his ability to avoid all superstitious items without once looking up from his book). Brom Bones, on the other hand, races like thunder through the village on a huge horse startling people, something that is greeted with laughs from his friends, carries in a big barrel of beer on his shoulders, pops it open to share with his buddies — then smashes open the top so the horses and dogs can drink too.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: During the Halloween party, Brom Bones is morosely munching a sandwich when he notices Ichabod's scared expression when he accidentally spills salt (superstition has that as an evil omen) and sprinkles a pinch of salt over his shoulder to ward off bad luck. Brom immediately breaks out into a vicious grin as he realizes just how scared of the supernatural Ichabod is, leading to Brom scaring Ichabod witless with the Headless Horseman story.
  • Expy: Because they wanted to save money, the animators used the same model sheet for Grace Martin from "The Martins and the Coys" segment of Make Mine Music and Slew-Foot Sue from the "Pecos Bill" segment of Melody Time for Katrina.
  • Fatal Flaw: As in the book, Crane's weakness is that he's massively superstitious. Brom is finally able to get the upper hand against Ichabod by using the legend of the Headless Horseman to scare the daylights out of him.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: Ichabod, when he puts too much pepper on his hard-boiled egg (he was too distracted by Brom Bones' tale of the Headless Horseman).
  • Forced Dance Partner: Brom Bones is trying to get Ichabod Crane away from Kathrina Von Tassel during the Halloween dance. Brom gets the idea to get a short, fat woman (called Tilda in the script) to dance with Ichabod. Tilda, however, only wants to dance with Brom, who then finds it impossible to shake her off.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Ichabod Crane first walks through the streets of town, he deftly avoids walking under a ladder and uses his cane to steer a black cat away from his path. This establishes his superstitious nature early on, which Brom Bones uses later to his advantage, though he has to be reminded of it when Ichabod throws the salt he spilled over his shoulder.
    • Also during Katrina's party, while Brom Bones is telling the legend of the Headless Horseman, he throws a jack-o-lantern into the fireplace. Guess what gets thrown at Ichabod later on?
    • Throughout the short, Brom is seen riding a black horse (named Daredevil in the book, though unnamed here) and at the party he is briefly seen holding an old cavalry sabre. The Headless Horseman also rides a black horse and has a very similiar-looking sabre. Hmmmmm...
  • Genki Girl: Tilda, the squat woman who takes a liking to Brom Bones and Ichabod.
  • Gold Digger: Ichabod seems to be more interested in the food of the women he courts than the women themselves. It's also directly stated that he only wants to marry Katrina for the money.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The Sleepy Hollow segment, atypically for Disney, does not clearly define who is the bad guy and who is the hero. Ichabod, the protagonist, is pretty clearly shown as a manipulative gold digger who only hesitates to beat his students in order to get into their mothers' good graces, whereas Brom Bones, the antagonist, has no stated amoral ulterior motives for wooing Katrina but is nevertheless something of a violent bully (he only firmly tips into the category of a "villain" if you interpret him as both being the Headless Horseman and having murdered Ichabod in the story's conclusion, neither of which is clearly spelled out by the film). Even Katrina herself comes across as somewhat morally questionable in the way she manipulates her suitors and seemingly enjoys and endorses the way Ichabod and Brom fight over her.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Ichabod really pushes Brom Bones' buttons.
  • Halloween Episode: The segment takes place around Halloween.
  • Headless Horseman: An Animated Adaptation of the Trope Namer in fact, though this version actually manages to be even more terrifying than Irwing's original.
  • Hellish Horse: The Headless Horseman rides one. It looks incredibly mean and angry, with a perpetual scowl on its face. It also has red eyes.
  • Hell Is That Noise: A particular sinister example can be found during Ichabod's ride in the Sleepy Hollow forest. The crickets' chirping sounds like "Ichabod, turn back!", an owl hoots eerily (which could be sound like "you" or "go"), a frog in a pond croaks "Headless Horseman", the wind blows through the swamp reeds emitting a spooky female wail-like choir (which reminds one a little of the female background vocals during "The Headless Horseman Song") and a large red-eyed crow caws "Here he (The Horseman) comes!" and "Beware!"
  • Heroic Mime: A rare animated example. Ichabod's vocalizations are limited to a few singing chords, screams, and introducing himself to a woman during his Theme Song. His thoughts are explained to the viewer by the narrator (although he does think to himself directly aloud when he imagines marrying Katrina and getting her money).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Brom opens a cellar trap door to get Ichabod to fall in since Ichabod had danced atop it while it was closed but without knowing it was there. Seconds later, Tilda bursts out of the pantry where Brom had tried blocking her in to get rid of her, and as she makes a mad dash across the dance floor to get to him, oblivious to how he finds her repulsive, Brom steps back in terror, forgetting the cellar is open. As he falls in, the door slams shut, leaving Tilda to wonder where he went and Ichabod to continue dancing uninterrupted with Katrina.
  • Hope Spot: For Ichabod, when he notices to his relief that all the creepy noises that have been freaking him out during his ride home are just various nature sounds — the rapping of willows against a log, croaking frogs, crickets, etc. Which is when the real Horseman shows up. A second one crops up during the chase: Ichabod sees the bridge and remembers Brom's advice to cross the bridge, since the Headless Horseman can't follow, but Gunpowder gets turned around and starts running away from the bridge. Then when he finally makes it across the bridge and seems to be safe, he looks back, only to get nailed by the Headless Horseman's pumpkin that is thrown at him.
  • Horrifying the Horror: If Brom's song is to be believed at least, other terrifying creatures fear and exclude the Horseman from their nightly hauntings.
  • The Hyena: The Headless Horseman has a truly spectacular Evil Laugh. Impressive for a guy with no mouth.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brom Bones. Crane brings out the worst of him, and he's an incorrigible prankster and a bit of a boor. At heart though, he's a decent guy who's a bit rough around the edges. He's a Foil to Crane, who is superficially sophisticated and smooth despite being greedy and high-handed.
  • Kavorka Man: Ichabod is lanky, basically skin and bones, with huge feet and a giant nose. The women of Sleepy Hollow still fall head over heels for him, in no small part due to his charming, suave personality, intellect and surprising skill at dancing (not to mention that lovely singing voice!).
  • Kick the Dog: When Tilda shows interest in dancing with Brom, he looks utterly repulsed and Tilda is clearly hurt by Brom's rejection. Brom then tries to foist her onto Ichabod so he can have Katrina all to himself, but this backfires when Tilda refuses to let go of Brom.
  • Laughing Mad: Upon learning that the hoofbeats he thought he was hearing were actually cattails knocking against a log, Ichabod goes into a laughing frenzy, with his horse joining in followed by the Headless Horseman.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: All of Brom Bones' attempts to manhandle Ichabod only end in his own humiliation. It's only when Ichabod's Gold Digger intents for Katrina are fully established and Bones resorts to shrewd trickery to get rid of him that the odds start to reverse perhaps a bit more than Bones expected, depending on how the ending is interpreted.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The film is deliberately ambiguous as to whether or not the Headless Horseman exists, unlike the book, which very strongly hints that the horseman was Brom in disguise. Ichabod does look down the Horseman's coat at one point and doesn't appear to see anything, but given how dark it is, and his state of mind (sheer, pants-crapping terror), he could have simply missed the top of a real person's head, especially if they had a cloth covering to help hide the real head.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The Sleepy Hollow segment is essentially a wacky comedy...all the way up to the climax: one of the most terrifying sequences in Disney movie history, and unlike most of the other contenders, it's not followed up by a happy ending that cancels it out.
    • Even in the midst of said climax is a moment of whiplash so intense that it once provided the main page image. Ichabod and his nag are laughing at the sheer absurdity of them mistaking reeds thumping on a log for the galloping of ol' Headless... until a third laugh joins in. A bone-chilling, spine-tingling, altogether murderous laugh. Enter the Galloping Hessian himself.
    • The entire chase is in a permanent state of this, constantly standing with one foot on each side of the line between comedy and horror. The Horseman is always a terrifying, inhuman figure who could give Maleficent or the Evil Queen lessons in being scary, but every move by Ichabod to escape is a cartoonishly slapstick riot. It's basically Wile E. Coyote trying to escape from Freddy Kruger.
  • Never Found the Body: After his encounter with the Headless Horseman, all that can be found of Ichabod is his hat and a shattered pumpkin. There's a school of thought that believes Ichabod left Sleepy Hollow and married a widow. Of course, everyone knows what really happened...
  • Nominal Hero: Ichabod is nice to the Townsfolk but only to obtain social advancement and free food.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • Before the Headless Horseman shows up, it's mostly silent though occasionally being abrupt to frighten the viewer, then it seems as if the wildlife is trying to warn him to just go back or beware, and then it seems like the Horseman actually is going to show up... but it turns out that it's just cattails being knocked on a hollow log. Ichabod and Gunpowder laugh for a while, relieved... and then the Horseman shows up.
    • Ichabod actually gets a good look right at the Headless Horseman's missing head, and all he's greeted with is an evil laughter. The fact that the viewer is not shown what he saw really helps lead to the ambiguous ending. It's worth noting that Ichabod — who was already scared out of his mind — completely freaks out when he gets a good look under the Horseman's collar.
  • Ominous Owl: During Ichabod's journey in the dark forest, there's a sinister-looking one perched on a tree, although this could be Ichabod's imagination running wild.
  • Pumpkin Person: The Headless Horseman is portrayed as carrying around a jack-o-lantern in place of his head.
  • Rearing Horse: The Headless Horseman's horse has this pose in its introduction in the graveyard.
  • Recycled Animation: Some animation from the rainstorm sequence of The Old Mill are reused during the Headless Horseman sequence in "Sleepy Hollow".
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: When the Headless Horseman first appears the sky in the background turns burning red.
  • Rule of Funny: Brom Bones seems to take his rivalry with Ichabod a little more personally... but it's more Played for Laughs here.
  • Rule of Scary: How does the Headless Horseman possess such an awesome Evil Laugh when he's got no head? It's freaky enough that we don't need an answer.
  • Run or Die: The Headless Horseman chase scene; Ichabod and Gunpowder are clearly fleeing for their lives, even if they were (possibly) never really in mortal peril.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Possibly, the original short story is a bit more heavy on the implication that the Horseman is Bones in disguise, but this version still hints at it. After all, the Horseman does share Bones' Heroic Build, wild riding skills, and a few other traits.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Bing bails out, spooked after he finishes telling Ichabod Crane's story: "Man, I'm getting out of here!" It's the final line of the movie.
  • Skeleton Motif: In the house party scene, Brom Bones recounts to Ichabod Crane the legend of the Headless Horseman (and turning it into a musical number, natch). One of the party guests is a skeletal-looking fellow who sings the line "And some don't even wear their skin!"
  • Slasher Smile: Brom Bones grins this way as he sings "The Headless Horseman", mainly to get Ichabod worked up.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Ichabod's hair queue rises to an erect position when he meets Katrina.
  • Split Hair: Brom Bones intimidates Ichabod during his telling of the legend of the Headless Horseman by slowly splitting a hair off his head with a cavalry sabre.
  • Spoiled Sweet: Despite charming suitors she has little interest in doing favors for her, Katrina is not without her kindness and does not take well to Brom's bullying of her suitors. When Ichabod is knocked into a puddle he tried to help her cross, she tosses her handkerchief to him.
  • Spooky Animal Sounds: On his way home from the Van Tassel Halloween party, Ichabod Crane is spooked by the sounds of crickets, owls, and frogs. Already frightened as he is, he imagines that they're warning him to turn back.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: One possible ending for Ichabod has him marrying a widow and having a bunch of children who all look like him.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The ambiguity of Ichabod's fate. The story takes place in the late 1700's, during the infancy of the United States, long before reliable communication, long-range transportation, photography, or really any way to confirm the truth other than seeing it with your own eyes, and a time when most people lived their entire lives in the place they were born. The word of the occasional traveller that Ichabod was still alive somewhere far away would sound like a bigger fairy tale than the Headless Horseman. Of course, it probably helps that Ichabod being "spirited away" makes for a better story to the townsfolk.
  • That's All, Folks!: The movie ends with Bing Crosby saying, "Man, I'm gettin' out of here!" after finishing The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
  • Through His Stomach: Anything that involves food will make Ichabod happy.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ichabod, why in the hell did you stop after crossing the bridge when the Headless Horseman was right behind you?
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Ichabod apparently brought out the worst in Brom Bones. Although subverted in that, it's pretty justified considering how much Brom had been through, and that Ichabod is the real Jerkass.
  • The Trees Have Faces: Ichabod Crane imagines the trees having monster faces as he becomes increasingly scared as he rides alone through the forest. One of the trees has an actual monster-face-shaped hole, but the "eyes" that are staring at him from it are only a couple of fireflies.
  • Truth in Television: Well, mythological truth, anyway. A long-standing legend of ghosts is that they cannot cross running water, which makes the Headless Horseman stop in his tracks when Ichabod reaches the bridge. Unfortunately for Ichabod, the fearsome specter has a parting gift for him.
  • Uncertain Doom: As far as the villagers are concerned, Ichabod's fate is obvious, but as for the viewers, they're left to decide on their own if Ichabod really was killed by the Horseman, or if the longstanding rumor about him fleeing the town and eventually marrying a wealthy widow far away is true.
  • "The Villain Sucks" Song: "The Headless Horseman", sung by Brom Bones, is all about how mean and scary the Horseman is. Also doubles as a Ghost Story.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Ichabod is a tall, rail-thin nerd with a huge nose. He sings like Bing Crosby, though.
  • Warning Song: Brom Bones sings "Headless Horseman", an ominous yet swingy number about the titular Headless Horseman, although the song is less out of a genuine desire to warn the people than it is to frighten the superstitious Ichabod.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: While fleeing the Headless Horseman in the climax, Ichabod winds up riding Gunpowder straight into a creek and the horse is underwater for a bit... until it crashes into a tree and starts running again.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: While the fate of Ichabod is at least hinted at, the fate of his borrowed horse isn't even mentioned (in the book, the horse is found in a field near the shattered pumpkin, unharmed, happily eating grass).
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: After the party at the Van Tassel home ends, Ichabod Crane starts his long, dangerous way home at the Witching Hour — midnight. He will shortly meet his ultimate nemesis — the Headless Horseman.


Video Example(s):


Mr Toad's new mania

After being thrown in jail for supposedly stealing a motorcar, which he impulsively bought with the Deed for Toad Hall, Mr. Toad swears off his manias and change for the better. Then at the end, when he regains his freedom and hall back, he is back to his old ways, becoming obsessed with planes.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / AesopAmnesia

Media sources: