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Western Animation / The Secret of the Hunchback

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The Secret of the Hunchback is a 1996 Direct to Video Animated Musical made by UAV Entertainment. It tells the story of Quasimodo, the hunchbacked, bell-ringer of Notre Dame, who longs for love and acceptance from those around him despite his deformed appearance.

As usual for UAV, this film is another mockbuster of the Disney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.


  • Adaptational Badass: Pierre was a cowardly Non-Action Guy in the original book, but here, he's able to hold his own in fights against multiple trained soldiers. For bonus points, his opponents are generally armed and armored, while he generally isn't.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Instead of being a member of the clergy, Frollo's the High Sheriff of Paris.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the original book Quasimodo and Pierre have little interaction, with Pierre being shown to be jealous when Quasimodo receives more attention than him during the King of Fools ceremony. Here Pierre immediately accepts and befriends Quasimodo despite his deformities, trying to stop Frollo from whipping Quasimodo and even trying to rescue him when he's hanging from the roof in the climax.
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  • Adaptational Villainy: Frollo is not depicted as the noble Archdeacon who adopts Quasimodo (with most of his good character being given to the unnamed Archdeacon) and is a jerk from the start.
  • Adaptation Species Change: While Quasimodo was human in the book, he's (probably) an angel here.
  • Adapted Out: Quasimodo, Gringoire, Frollo, Pierre, and Esmeralda are the only characters who avert this trope.
  • Always Save the Girl: Though they're both targeted by Frollo, Pierre chooses to only save Esmerelda at first, saying he will avenge Quasimodo... eventually.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Esmerelda's backstory from the book, where she is adopted by the Romani, is not mentioned at all in this adaptation, and Frollo and his minions casually refer to her as a "gypsy girl". Though she has darker skin than Pierre and the rest of the Parisians, she still dresses and speaks differently from the other Romani characters shown in the film.
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  • Anachronism Stew: The doctor in the beginning has a stethoscope, a device that wouldn't be invented for over 300 years.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Brother Labas calls Quasimodo a "thoughtless ingrate" when he returns from his day in the town, but is clearly relieved to see his adopted son is safe.
  • Animated Musical: Like all UAV productions.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The narrator says that The Bible mentions that you shouldn't judge anyone for their looks.
  • Badass Preacher: The Archdeacon does have his moments. He is one of few characters who never shows fear of Frollo, and when captured later in the film, he unlocks his prison cell using his cross medallion.
  • Bad Habits: One of the evil gypsies impersonates a priest to force the marriage between Frollo and Esmeralda.
  • Beard of Evil: Frollo sports a chin curtain and pencil mustache combo.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Among the gypsies. Esmeralda is beautiful and kind (although somewhat greedy), while the other gypsies who range from plain-looking to ugly are evil.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: The male gypsies form this trio.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Quasimodo's back is only reddened after receiving his fifteen lashes. Lebas mentions that the whip has "cut him to the bone" when tending to his injuries, but these wounds are not shown onscreen.
  • Broken Aesop: Despite the main point of the story being seeing past people's looks, Pierre knows Esmeralda's good because of her looks, despite not knowing anything about her yet. The audience is supposed to assume Esmeralda as good just because she is beautiful without presenting her good qualities before.
  • Carpet of Virility: Frollo has some rather thick chest hair.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: The fattest gypsy dresses up as a belly dancer in order to lure Quasimodo into a trap.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Frollo has his moments.
    LeFaux: A monster? Creating panic and fear? Who does that make you think of?
    Frollo: My first wife?
  • Death by Looking Up: Lord Frollo's belt gets stuck in a gargoyle, which breaks off and crushes Frollo.
  • Decomposite Character: As with some other versions, Frollo and the Archdeacon are two different characters.
  • Deus ex Machina: An egregious example. In the ending, Quasimodo seems to fall to his death, but then... he grows wings and flies away.
  • Dirty Cop: Frollo is the Sheriff of Paris, and abuses his authority to make himself rich by demanding protection money.
  • Disguised in Drag: The fat gypsy attempts to disguise himself as Esmeralda. Key word being "attempts".
  • Disney Villain Death: It's Quasimodo and not Frollo who almost suffers this.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The gypsy trio are a group of crooked thieves and played an active role in Quasimodo's capture, but even they can't bear to see the innocent Hunchback being whipped.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Instead of falling from Notre Dame like most versions, Frollo gets his whip caught around a Gargoyle which breaks off and crushes him to death when he tries to yank it loose.
  • Fan Disservice: The Belly Dancer scene is done by the fattest, ugliest gypsy.
  • Fat and Skinny: The Archdeacon is skinny and Brother Labas is considerably fat.
  • Fat Bastard: Two of the gypsies. They're fat and greedy.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Quasimodo's brutal whipping is not shown onscreen. Only the sound of the whip is heard while the other characters react in despair.
  • Has Two Mommies: Quasimodo is raised by two men: the Archdeacon and Brother Labas. The two are not romantically involved, being men of the church, but both serve as loving father figures.
  • Healing Hands: Quasimodo has these, which is probably meant to be foreshadowing for the fact that he's actually an angel.
  • A Hero Is Born: The story begins when Quasimodo is left at the cathedral.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Frollo fakes remorse and willingness to give up when Quasimodo subdues him, only to shove Quasimodo off the edge of the balcony when the latter isn't looking.
  • "I Want" Song: Esmeralda's song. It's somewhat greedy.
  • In Name Only: This has nothing to do with the book, except for the cathedral and a few characters.
  • Instant Sedation: The gypsy trio use chloroform to subdue and capture Quasimodo, and later use a similar substance to knock out both Pierre and Esmerelda in the cathedral.
  • Jeweler's Eye Loupe: Frollo uses one to examine one of the church's goblets.
  • Lost in Imitation: The decomposition of Frollo so the villainous Frollo is not a cleric comes from two films and the Disney version.
  • MST: Here, courtesy of Musical Hell.
  • Mythology Gag: One of Frollo's schemes to extort the Church involves having Quasimodo flogged, and Esmerelda gives the Hunchback water afterwards. This is notably the only major plot-point directly taken from the original book.
  • No, You: After Frollo accuses the Archdeacon of keeping a monster in Notre Dame, Brother Labas responds by saying Frollo is the only monster in the cathedral.
  • Obviously Evil: Much like the Disney version, Frollo. His evil smile, Sinister Schnoz, pencil moustache, and Beard of Evil just screams cartoon villain, and that's before you get to his deep voice and Evil British accent. Downplayed however as, unlike his Disney counterpart and most other examples of this trope, no one is stupid enough to trust him.
  • Our Angels Are Different: They look like deformed folk.
  • Our Gargoyles Rock: Or sing the blues, to be more precise.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The biggest of the male gypsies disguises himself as Esmeralda (or more accurately, tries to). Later, the leader impersonates the Archdeacon.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Like the 1939 and 1982 films before it and the 1997 film after it, this film also promotes Pierre Gringoire to the position of Esmeralda's love interest.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Archdeacon serves as the Blue Oni - he's calm, fatherly, and even wears a blue cap - while Brother Lebas serves as the Red Oni - he wears a reddish-brown robe and is more passionate and quick to anger, though is still kindhearted.
  • Sinister Minister: Averted with Frollo. He's a sheriff in this version.
  • Sinister Schnoz: Frollo has a rather large hooked nose.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Quasimodo and Esmeralda.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Frollo laments this shortly before his Villain Song.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Frollo has Quasimodo publicly whipped as punishment for the earlier riot, expecting the Archdeacon to give up the Church's treasury in exchange for the boy's safety. The Archdeacon reluctantly refuses, and watches hopelessly as Quasimodo receives his fifteen lashes.
  • Tears from a Stone: One of the gargoyles (in stone form) cries while Quasimodo is getting whipped.
  • Technicolor Eyes: Esmeralda's eyes are pink.
  • "Test Your Strength" Game: There is one at the Day of the Innocent festival. Quasimodo plays one and he is so strong that he breaks the device.
  • Token Good Teammate: Esmeralda among the gypsies.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Frollo gets his belt tangled on the gargoyle's arm, he decides to yank hard on it rather than simply untying it. When this causes the gargoyle to break off it's post, Frollo also clearly has ample time to dodge it, but instead remains frozen and lets it crush him.
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside: The big secret of the film.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: In the book and most other adaptations, Frollo is Quasimodo's adoptive father figure. In this film, due to the Decomposite Character trope mentioned above, Frollo and Quasimodo do not interact directly until their fight on the balcony in the finale.
  • Villain Song: Frollo gets one.
  • Whip It Good: Frollo removes his belt to use as an impromptu whip during his showdown with Quasimodo.