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  • Accidental Aesop:
    • Walk with your kids to school to make sure they don't run off or get kidnapped by strangers.
    • Even from Pinocchio's perspective rather than Geppetto's, it comes across less as a conventional morality play about virtuous living than as an Unbuilt Trope version of Too Smart for Strangers, since his only real fault is being too gullible and falling for the tricks of those who want to exploit him.
  • Adaptation Displacement: In English-speaking countries (and Japan) at least, the movie is much more well-known than the book, though this does not apply in its native Italy.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: The Coachman is a rather ambiguous character. While he could just be an unscrupulous man who seeks to profit from bizarre phenomena that could only occur in the world of a morality play, he's also been interpreted as a supernatural Karmic Trickster, a red wearing Evil Counterpart to the Blue Fairy — while she has children learn from their misdeeds and sends them towards redemption, he punishes them for their stupidity by transforming them into donkeys. A less common variant of this theory interprets him not merely as a malevolent fairy, but as being literally Satan. The fact that his Nightmare Face involves contortions that a normal human face simply can't do is often taken to be evidence of this, although it could just as well be ordinary cartoon exaggeration that was turned Up to Eleven for the sake of Rule of Scary, without really implying anything about the nature of the character.
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    • There's also the terrified reaction of Honest John upon hearing of Pleasure Island's business. Was that a truly Even Evil Has Standards moment or perhaps Pragmatic Villainy as he actually feared the law's punishment if he get caught?
  • Angst? What Angst?: Considering all the horrifying and unsavory things Pinocchio sees and endures in his quest to reunite with his father, the kid is remarkably collected and chipper when his long personal hell comes to an end.
  • Anvilicious:
    • The fairy gives Pinocchio a lecture about lying, obviously meant as an Aesop for the audience.
    • Also the bit "If you don't go to school, you'll become a donkey". Justified in that when the book was first written and published (in 1883), hardly any Italian kids actually went to school.
  • Audience-Coloring Adaptation: This film has shaped the way Pinocchio is seen in popular culture. Many adaptations of the book The Adventures of Pinocchio have incorporated concepts from the Disney film, even if they are otherwise faithful to the book.
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  • Awesome Art: The film's animation was absolutely groundbreaking in 1940, and is still considered to be one of the most, if not the most, beautifully animated films ever made.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Some viewers, like Unshaved Mouse, see Jiminy Cricket as one of the great Disney sidekicks due to his sarcastic wiseass personality. Others, like Doug Walker, find him to be the Ur-Example of an annoying Disney comic relief for this very same reason. It helps that the original Talking Cricket was not meant to be a likeable sidekick.
  • Common Knowledge: The film is sometimes criticized for giving the message that all your problems will be solved simply “when you wish upon a star,” when in fact the entire point is that Gepetto’s wish for Pinocchio to be human isn’t granted right away, and the newly alive puppet has to earn it by proving he’s a good person. What’s more is that Gepetto’s wish is granted in the first place because he’s already brought such happiness to others that he deserves for it to come true, according to the Blue Fairy.
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  • Complete Monster: The Coachman runs Pleasure Island, a too-good-to-be-true amusement park for troublesome children. Presenting a guise as a kindly old man, he laces the cigars and beer of the children with a substance that transforms the children into donkeys whenever they act like jerks. The Coachman then sells them as normal animals into harsh working environments and keeps the boys who can still talk within a pen with no indication of their fates afterwards. Even Honest John and Gideon, a pair of con artists, are visibly terrified by him and his actions.
  • Crossover Ship:
  • Designated Villain:
    • Lampwick. He's a bit of a brat, and hardly a good role model, but he's still a kid. Plus, he isn't exactly heartless as it's shown he cares for Pinocchio, and judging by his heartbreaking screams, his mother too. He's much less malicious than the other Karma Houdini villains (Honest John, Stromboli, The Coachman), yet he's the only one who is punished for his actions and the punishment was a horrible Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Stromboli, mainly due to the over-the-top hamminess of the voice actor. Even contemporary critics at the time lauded him for being able to be hilarious ("Constantiople!") and just as terrifying ("Firewood!").
    "I WILL POOSH YOU IN DE POOBLIC'S EYE!"
    • Figaro proved to be so popular that he starred in a series of theatrical shorts in the 1940s, mainly against Pluto.
    • Lampwick has gotten this, judging by the amount of focus he's gotten in fan art online.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: The original books were already fairly blatant religious parables, and while Disney did—and still does— prefer to avoid religion in its movies, it's common to see this one interpreted in a Christian light. In particular the Pleasure Island scene can be seen as representing the temptation of sin.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: There's a fair following around the two animal villains in the Japanese fandom. Foulfellow being as cunning and as handsome as he is might've helped. As well as being voiced by Yasuo Yamada! Gideon is often paired with him to some degree.
  • Genius Bonus: One of the possible translations of the name Gideon means "feller of trees", Pinocchio is made of wood after all.
  • Hard Truth Aesop:
    • If you behave badly as a child, neglect your studies and indulge in addictions such as smoking and drinking at a young age, there is a high chance that you will perfectly ruin your future, and it may be too late if you try to change to save yourself from such a fate.
    • Some bad people can get away with evil deeds completely unpunished, and even get richer from it.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • When the first scene of the film fades in after the opening credits, if you look to the left of where Jiminy is sitting and singing, two other tales can be seen in the background: Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, both of which Disney would later adapt into animated films as well.note 
    • Jiminy was originally designed to look more like a real cricket, with toothed legs and waving antenna, but Walt didn't think that looked appealing enough. 58 years later, Disney managed to create a cricket with that design and make him look cute.
      • And then 78 years later, Disney brought it to full circle by creating an Expy of Jiminy, the Ghost of Christmas Past in DuckTales (2017), who also has more cricket-like features and looks cute.
    • John, Gideon, and the Coachman meet in a tavern called the "Red Lobster Inn".
    • Michael Eisner wanted to do a shot-for-shot All-CGI Cartoon remake of this movie "for a new generation to enjoy". This didn't happen, but an all-CGI remake of a hand-drawn Disney film eventually would indeed come out years after Michael Eisner left Disney.
    • Monstro himself is an exaggerated version of the real-life sperm whale, with an gargantuan size, a broader head shape and teeth on both jaws. In 2010, paleontologists officially named Livyatan melvillei, a predatory ancestor of modern sperm whales which Monstro greatly resembles. Still, Livyatan was not as big as Monstro is, who seemingly reaches almost Kaiju-like proportions.
    • Gepetto calls Cleo "my little mermaid."
  • Ho Yay: Pinocchio and Lampwick are quite close during their time in Pleasure Island. Due to Pinocchio's naivete, he's very susceptible to Lampwick's influence and happily takes part in making mischief with him. Lampwick, for his part, is also very friendly to Pinocchio for someone who's introduced as a delinquent who would most likely rather pick a fight with other kids but by the end of the whole thing, they already have nicknames for each other, which he no doubt came up with for both of them.
    • It doesn't help that Lampwick's original name in the novel was said to be 'Romeo'. He even dies in Pinocchio's arms as a donkey, for crying out loud!
    • Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket is another example. This scene in particular when he gets angry at Lampwick, acting almost like Pinocchio's scorned lover.
    Pinocchio: Don't hurt him, Jiminy. He's my best friend.
    Jiminy: Your best friend!? And what am I? Just your conscience!?
  • Jerkass Woobie: It's really hard not to feel sorry for Lampwick after he becomes one of the Coachman's many victims.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Memetic Molester: The Coachman. Many viewers took note of his "They never come back...AS BOYS!" and how he wants to take "stupid little boys" to a place called Pleasure Island.
  • Moe: Pinocchio, being crafted to resemble a young boy and being very innocent and naïve, is probably the most adorable marionette ever.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Coachman crosses this when he turns all the boys into donkeys and sells them to the Salt Mines, Circus, etc.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: "You have no strings, your arms is free, to love me by the Zuider Zee"
  • Narm: It's difficult to take the SNES game seriously because of all the ridiculous sound effects!
    • Pool being portrayed in such a negative light on Pleasure Island; see Values Dissonance below.
  • Nausea Fuel: When Pinocchio inhales the whole cigar with one breath, and first turns red and then green.
  • Older Than They Think: Disney in The New '10s gets a lot of flak for including too many Evil All Along characters. Those people have probably forgotten that Stromboli, Disney's first Evil All Along character, is from a movie released in 1940.
  • Once Acceptable Targets: Honest John briefly mentions that Stromboli is a Gypsy. His visual design is also reminiscent of the Greedy Jew stereotype.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Lampwick only appears in the Pleasure Island scene, but sports a memorable design and personality of a juvenile delinquent trying to act like a big shot gangster, plus Frankie Darro's absolutely terrifying performance as he realizes he's being turned into a donkey and desperately cries out for his mother.
  • Padding: The movie uses every single opportunity to delay our characters getting out of Geppetto's workshop and any action on their part will be prolonged to a ridiculous degree, such as Figaro opening the window, Geppetto looking around the room with a gun in his hand, or Pinocchio's finger catching on a candle's fire.
  • Paranoia Fuel: The entire Pleasure Island sequence certainly made many kids wary of giving in to things like drinking and smoking, among other things, which was likely intentional.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Averted. In the 1951 German dub, Lampwick was voiced by Horst Buchholz, who was not yet famous. Sadly, the 1951 German dub is lost.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The dark subject matter of immoral and dangerous people who are not stopped by the end of the story and continue exploiting and tormenting people who are never saved is usually unspeakable in a Disney film. None the less, it makes very evident the message that sometimes you must learn to take caution for yourself as magical rescues and karma don't always happen in real life.
  • Toy Ship: Pinocchio/Lampwick, a.k.a Pinocchwick, is the most popular ship (see Ho Yay above), despite it being the only ship that exists for the movie.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Pinocchio's human form, if you're used to seeing him as a puppet. This is largely due to his eyes being noticeably smaller as a human than as a puppet.
    • To some extent, Pinocchio's first appearance, when he has no mouth and looks decidedly doll like, as compared to how most people remember him. This is not helped by the camera angles used, which makes him look unseeingly huge.
    • It's very clear that the Blue Fairy was rotoscoped and looked more humanoid than the other characters, a somewhat down step from Snow White.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • One of Geppetto's clocks features a child being spanked for breaking a bottle. Even in 1940, this was a controversial form of discipline.
    • The story overall holds a rather dim view of how misbehaving children should be treated. Aside from the above-mentioned spanking, the Blue Fairy tells Pinocchio "boys who won't be good might as well be wood" (particularly horrifying given what Pinocchio had just been told what happens to old marionettes), and other misbehaving children are transformed into donkeys and sold into slavery, without any hope of being rescued. The message seems to be: behave, or horrible things will happen to you.
    • Playing pool, due to its association with gambling, is treated as a vice on par with drinking and smoking. Nowadays, it's considered a respectable game of skill that people of any age can take part in and have fun.
  • Values Resonance: At the time, Pinocchio and Lampwick smoking cigars was only viewed as bad because of their age, and was considered perfectly fine for adults, to the point that doctors actually advertised their favorite brands. Now that it’s known just how harmful smoking is, it looks even worse.
  • The Woobie:
    • Geppetto. He first desperately looks for his kid, then he get swallowed along Figaro and Cleo in the belly of a whale where he risks to die starving. Then Pinocchio dies saving his life leading Geppetto to mourn his son's loss until the Blue Fairy revives him as a real boy.
    • Pinocchio. The poor kid's naïveté leads him to some really awful situations.
    • All those poor kids who got turned into donkeys. Especially the one named Alexander.

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