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YMMV / The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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     The original novel 
  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: The Roma are portrayed as thieves in the slums of Paris. At the time of its publications (and indeed, even today), the Roma were not well-liked by other Europeans. Despite this, their leader Clopin is still ultimately portrayed more positively than France's own king, King Louis XI.
  • Crazy Awesome: Clopin who runs a Parody of the King's Court with fake ministers with phony titles, and constantly has fake injuries. Yet also gets a Dying Moment of Awesome during The Siege.
  • Die for Our Ship: Frollo/Esmeralda fans of any of the adaptations are eager to kill off Phoebus for the sake of this ship. Then again, even if you don't support this ship, almost every Hunchback of Notre Dame fan would gladly see novel Phoebus die.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Claude Frollo is an educated and enlightened man who grows darker out of his self-inflicted disappointment in himself for not raising his brother Jehan to be as faithful or hardworking as himself and his later uncontrollable lust for Esmeralda, which is based more clearly in his sexual frustration as a priest than in later adaptations.
  • Older Than They Think: Victor Hugo's Self-Adaptation the opera "La Esmeralda" features many things that would appear in later adaptations.
    • Phoebus undergoing Adaptational Heroism originates with that opera. His Death by Adaptation that appears in the 1939 film also originates with the opera but rather than being in the middle it happens at the end where he dies of his wound after Esmeralda has been exonerated. Him being Promoted to Love Interest also originates with the opera.
    • Esmeralda escaping execution originates with the opera but she does not have time to enjoy it. After Phoebus dies Esmeralda vows to follow him, which of course means she will commit suicide so they can be Together in Death.
    • Clopin undergoing Adaptational Villainy such as in the 1923 film also originates with the opera where he was an accomplice of Frollo's in a second abduction of Esmeralda that never ended up being carried out.
    • Pierre Gringoire, King Louis, Jehan Frollo and a good many others being adapted out also originate with the opera but in the case of Jehan some aspects of his character were incorporated into his brother Claude.
    • Claude Frollo being Spared By Adaptation originates with the opera as he does in the 1923 and 1939 as well, especially odd since in the opera he does not undergo Adaptational Heroism and is basically a Karma Houdini by the end. Quasiomodo too survives to the end but this has more to do with him having been Demoted to Extra in contrast to the adaptations that keep him alive in the end and have him as a major character.
    • Esmeralda's Race Lift so she is Romani by birth rather than by adoption also comes from the opera. Due to Gudule having been Adapted Out, the entire sub-plot of Esmeralda's origins went with her.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: For all its strengths, the book could afford to shave off some of its exposition. There's a chapter that's as long as its own book (thirty pages in total) devoted to explaining the view from Notre Dame, although to be fair it does also provide the reader with some insight into the history of Paris' architecture and the author's opinion on its state in 1831.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Sexual obsession in a priest? Bad, wrong, dangerous. Sexual obsession of a man in his thirties for a 16-year-old girl? No prob.
    • The depiction of the Roma people in the book has not aged well, although it's still a Zig-Zagging example. While Esmeralda's persecution as a witch is portrayed as wrong, near the end of the novel, it's revealed by birth she was French, and was exchanged with Quasimodo (who is actually Romani by birth), although his persecution is also portrayed as wrong. The other Romani in the novel are portrayed as part of the lower class in the Cour des Miracles (Slums), who survive by begging and pickpocketing, but then again these are living conditions thrust upon many an oppressed minority in real life. Clopin, their leader, is depicted as an Anti-Hero, who while possessing a heroic side, is hostile towards the Middle class, and threatens to hang Gringoire for trespassing in the Cour des Miracles, but Clopin is nevertheless still depicted in a better light than the then-current King of France. At several points, they are referred to as the "Egyptians," which reflects the real-life misconception that the Romani people originate from Egypt, which is the origin of the "Gypsy" monkier.
    • Also double subverted in one Reality Is Unrealistic way as regards Quasimodo. As per the attitudes of actual Medieval Parisians, the peasants actually take no issue at all with Quasimodo's physical deformities; it's his red hair of all things that they ostracize him for.
  • Values Resonance: In a deeply metaphorical way, when Victor Hugo wrote Frollo's speech on how the printing press would destroy the church (ceci tuera cela) he was using hyperbole to make a point. Obviously the church itself was not literally destroyed. His point was that by allowing people to take the printed scripture into their home the physical church was going to suffer from it. The very base concept is that something which helped propel the religion into more homes could also chip away the relevance of one of its previously important facets. Frollo's position as a priest adds to this because if less people attend the physical church there is less money and incentive to maintain the physical church's structure. note  Fast forward to the earlier days of the internet you would have found people following on Frollo's coat tail with wondering could it do the same to the printed book or at least do some damage to elements contained in them? One one hand thanks to the internet it's a lot easier for us to get our eyes on the text of a work like "Hunchback" but with so many other distractions and options a lot of people would agree reading stories from the past is one of those facets of the printed book that has less prominence as before the internet. Exactly how many tropers are on this very page for the Disney film and have never read this story to know what this example is even about?

     The Disney Film 
  • Adorkable: Like his book counterpart, Quasimodo has No Social Skills due to his upbringing. But instead of being hostile to others, the Disney version portrays him as sweet, shy, awkward, and even endearing enough to be Ugly Cute. His glee and following awkwardness at the Festival of Fools is comparable to a 20th-century teenager at a school dance.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation:
    • You don't need romance in your life to be happy.
    • Also you can't force someone to love you and no one is "owed" a lover just because they're a good person. That person's choice of who they end up with is theirs and theirs alone.
    • Whatever people are like as individual, crowds are fickle, and can turn the entire group towards or against something once a single person says or does something sufficiently attention-getting, whether it's a thrown tomato or a Rousing Speech.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Judge Claude Frollo. Do we see flashes of guilt and torment in him that make him more sympathetic? Did he really feel nothing for killing Quasimodo's mother or did he take seriously the Archdeacon's plea to adopt Quasimodo out of guilt and a genuine fear of God? Do we see signs of him suffering and desiring to become a better person in his villain song, or is it more important that the experience makes him act even more evil than before? Part of this alternate interpretation is due to his Adaptational Villainy, since he was a conflicted character in the original source material.
    • And for his offer to Esmeralda right before her execution - "choose me or the fire" - what exactly was he intending to do if she did pick him? Was he imagining keeping her as a mistress, glorified slave or even a wife? Or was the offer rhetorical and was he hoping she would reject him so he'd have an excuse to kill her? Would he have killed her even if she said yes?
    • Clopin—he seems very happy and nice, but he does call Quasi the ugliest person in Paris in a way that even the context can't completely excuse, doesn't let him hide in the "Feast Of Fools" sequence, apparently bugs out the second everything goes pear-shaped (as Frollo would likely want to arrest him for the confusion), and then expresses complete delight in hanging Quasi and Phoebus. Without giving them the chance to defend themselves in any way. He's also protecting his home, friends, and family from the most monstrous person in the country by silencing what he believes to be the man's most loyal subordinates... In fairness to Clopin, the only time he vanishes is during the "Feast of Fools" when the crowd turns on Quasimodo, but when the fighting outside Notre Dame happens he's shown jumping into the fray with the other Roma. He's their leader, so getting himself arrested at the Feast of Fools would have been bad for the Roma.
    • The Archdeacon doesn't even acknowledge Quasimodo's existence after the opening scene, despite them both living in the same building. So, that raises the question: is he really the benevolent arbiter of justice in Notre Dame, or a callous hypocrite, willfully blind to Frollo's abuse of Quasimodo? Or is he too scared of Frollo to do anything about it?
    • Are all of Frollo's soldiers — aside from Phoebus — jerks who follow any of Frollo's orders just for an excuse to abuse their authority, or are they for the most part just Loyal to the Position? When Frollo gives the Brutish Guard the order to seize the cathedral, do the three background Elite Mooks become tense in preparation of carrying out the order, or is it a silent gesture of disapproval?
  • Anvilicious: The film repeatedly points out Frollo's hypocrisy, in case you missed it. A few examples below.
    • From Clopin:
    Clopin: Judge Claude Frollo longed to purge the world of vice and sin / And he saw corruption everywhere except within.
    • From Esmeralda:
    Esmeralda: You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help!
    • From Quasimodo:
    Quasimodo: All my life, you've told me the world is a dark, cruel place. But now I see that the only thing dark and cruel about it is people like you.
    • The Bette Midler version of God Help The Outcasts has harsher lyrics than the movie version, taking the religious hypocrisy message even further as the singer accuses God of favouring certain people that discriminate against those down on their luck and being responsible for making the outcasts in the first place.
    • At the beginning of the film, Clopin asks the viewer a "riddle" regarding Quasimodo and Frollo: "Who is the monster, and who is the man?" This comes directly after Frollo murders an innocent woman and attempts to drown her baby.
  • Award Snub: None of the songs from this movie received Oscar nominations. This is the only movie that Alan Menken composed for the Disney Animated Canon during the 1990s which this happened to.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Scrappy they may be, but the gargoyles do contribute a lot of genuinely Funny Moments. Which side of the Broken Base a fan falls into often depends on their age. People who were teens or adults when the film came out tend to hate the gargoyles, and people who were children at the time love them. Then there are those who don't think they're unequivocally awful, but don't like them much either; or they like Victor and Laverne but think Hugo is too crass and over the top. And then there are those that think they're cute and funny characters, but they're completely misplaced in this movie and would fit better in either Aladdin or Hercules. One thing that does tend to be generally agreed upon, though, is that the decision to depict the gargoyles as definitely animate and sentient in several scenes, rather than purely figments of Quasimodo's imagination, was a bad idea.
  • Broken Base:
    • Quasimodo not winning Esmeralda's love in the end is a major point of contention, as it's one of the few times Disney subverted the true love ending between the leading man and woman. Either it sends a wrong message about ugly people not deserving true love, or it's a refreshing change of pace for demonstrating Esmeralda's right to choose (Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped explains that argument further).
    • A smaller one is the depiction of the Romani characters besides Esmeralda. Lindsay Ellis felt that despite the 'justice for the oppressed' theme in the film, the song "The Court of Miracles" did still demonise them to an extent. The Unshaved Mouse by contrast liked that it showed a Gray-and-Gray Morality - and that being persecuted didn't automatically make them saints, therefore making them more realistic.
    • The film itself, particularly when first released. Many viewed it as a wildly-misconceived bastardization of Hugo's novel, to the point that the screenplay received a Razzie nomination. Its reputation has, however, improved since then.
  • Cargo Ship: Hugo thinks Djali is pretty hot. Hugo is a gargoyle, Djali is a goat. But come on, Hugo's part goat!
  • Catharsis Factor: After seeing Frollo persecute and kill Quasimodo's mother (and later having the audacity to rub it in Quasimodo's face just before he's about to kill him), have one of his own former officers tortured and launch his purge of the Roma in Paris, seeing him fall into a molten mass was pretty fulfilling. It’s not one of the most (if not, the most) satisfying deaths of a Disney villain (maybe the most satisfying for a villain in general) for nothing.
  • Complete Monster: Judge Claude Frollo, the Minister of Justice, is a deeply prejudiced and hypocritical official who seeks to totally exterminate the Roma scattered around Paris. Frollo introduces himself by murdering a fleeing mother and nearly drowning her infant child for the crime of being deformed. With the archdeacon's intervention instilling the fear of divine retribution in him, Frollo dubbed the child Quasimodo and raised him in isolation under emotional abuse. Deeply enraptured with the Romani Esmeralda, Frollo resolves to make Esmeralda his or watch her burn, offering "choose me or the fire" when she's tied to the stake. Frollo has gigantic sections of Paris burned in his further attempt to find the Roma; orders a family torched alive in their own house; and even tries to murder Quasimodo himself in the end after having seemingly murdered Esmeralda, forsaking all piety to reveal the monster he's always been within.
  • Crack Ship: As noted on Tangled's YMMV page, Frollo x Mother Gothel became one when people realized how similar they are.
  • Creepy Awesome: Frollo, easily one of the most disturbing villains Disney has ever written. He's a pitch-perfect depiction of a lustful, bigoted monster and an Abusive Parent who's both frighteningly depraved and disturbingly competent.
  • Critical Dissonance: Despite being moderately well-received (scoring somewhere in the 70s on Rotten Tomatoes), this is the only Disney Animated Canon film to ever get nominated for a Razzie Award. It was in a one-off category called "Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million", which also included Independence Day, the original Mission: Impossible, Twister, and A Time to Kill. Twister won this Razzie, and it was the only "Rotten" nominee in the category. Said category hasn't aged well, and has never been used since by the Razzies.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: When Frollo is reviewing the alphabet with Quasimodo, this exchange happens. The censors probably let it pass because of Tom Hulce's harmless, innocent delivery of the lines and the happy gesture Quasimodo makes when he gets it right.
    Frollo: D?
    Quasimodo: Damnation.
    Frollo: E?
    Quasimodo: Eternal Damnation!
  • Crossover Ship: It's become somewhat popular to pair Clopin with Harley Quinn from the Batman-franchise (the pairing is even called "JesterBells"). In many cases, they're essentially the male and female versions of each other (especially now that Harley's being portrayed as more of an anti-heroine by DC Comics), and many people have pointed out that Clopin would treat Harley way better than the Joker treats her.
  • Cry for the Devil: "Hellfire". Behind closed doors, Frollo prays to the Virgin Mary for protection from Esmeralda's "witchcraft", which he convinces himself is driving him to sin through lustful, burning desire. He begs Mary to either burn Esmeralda in Hell or deliver her to him as his love to free him from his sin. He may be a vicious Knight Templar, but he's also very human and very conflicted, two qualities that generate sympathy and may make it at least more understandable.
    Frollo: God have mercy on her... God have mercy on me...
  • Cult Classic: While it isn't as popular as other Disney animated films, it seems to have had grown a following thanks to the Internet, perhaps because of Tony Jay's performance as Frollo.
  • Die for Our Ship: The Phoebus from the movie is much, MUCH nicer than the one from the novel, and he comes to sincerely like Esmeralda. And yet the Quasi/Esmeralda fans still hate him for "stealing her away from the one who DESERVES her better".
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Despite being a Complete Monster, Frollo has a lot of fangirls.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: A lot of people also seem to have a fondness for Clopin, the All-Knowing Singing Narrator of the film.
    • Djali and Hugo being both male characters that tie the knot has sparked the seeds on interested in the fandom.
    • Esmeralda is one of the most popular Disney heroines alongside Hercules' Meg despite either not being in the Disney Princess franchise, appearing in fandom works often alongside the more popular princesses. It probably helps that she is the first person to defy Frollo's authority and inspires Quasimodo and Phoebus to also take a stand against his tyranny. Aside from being a badass she's also very selfless and kind, praying for the wellbeing of others and being the first person to show concern over for Quasimodo. She also has a very attractive design, which definitely caught the attention of the men in her movie. Ahem.
  • Evil Is Cool: Frollo. Ironically, he was meant to be so despicable that people would despise him with all their hearts. Instead, he became one of the most popular Disney Villains for being one of the most realistic in the canon, having a great Villain Song, and Tony Jay giving a fantastic performance.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Frollo has huge numbers of people who find him attractive.
  • Fanon: While the king is referenced once or twice, it's never explained what he's doing at the time of the movie or why he doesn't intervene when Frollo is torching Paris. Common consensus is that he is off fighting in the wars that Phoebus has returned from.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The opening lines of "A Guy Like You" indulge in some Black Comedy as the gargoyles observe the fires from Notre Dame cathedral. The Notre Dame cathedral fire in 2019 can make this moment rather uncomfortable in hindsight.
    • Outside of the film itself, the "Making Of" special that aired on the Disney Channel has Jason Alexander humorously boasting that the three gargoyles are destined to become Disney's most beloved characters. Since the gargoyles turned out to be some of Disney's most hated characters and their presence is widely considered to be the film's main flaw, Jason's statement is either this trope or Hilarious in Hindsight.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Gargoyles were carved for medieval churches for two reasons. The first being to divert water (namely rain) from the church, thus preventing the mortar from getting worn down and the second to protect against evil. Which makes Frollo's death scene even scarier if you understand medieval architecture.
    • The actual, present day Notre Dame has two pillars missing, a damaged gargoyle, and a broken doorknob. Not only does this damage happen in the climax, it's all significant in some way.
    • Also, the background singing in Frollo's scenes throughout the film has several layers of meaning:
      • 'Kyrie Eleison', a refrain which is repeated throughout the film, means 'Lord have Mercy'... appropriate.
      • The chanting when Frollo is chasing Quasimodo's mother through Paris comes from a Gregorian chant called the Dies Irae - Day of Wrath - and includes a phrase that roughly means 'Beware the coming of the judge.' Again, appropriate.
      • And, during "Hellfire", the shadowy figures that torment Frollo in his madness chant 'Mea Culpa' - 'It's my Fault' - something which Frollo constantly denies.
    • Quasimodo's climatic scene (being chained to the pillars of the church, then tearing them down in rebellion) is lifted directly from the story of Samson in the Bible.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: This film is really popular in Germany, having several stage shows based off of it.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The original ending where Quasimodo is stabbed by Frollo only for Frollo to die later and Quasimodo's wish to ring the bells one last time bears some similarities to the 1997 version, which came out a year later.
    • Multiple scenes (including "Hellfire" and numerous shots of the cathedral surrounded by fire and smoke, especially in the film's fiery climax) have become even more uncomfortable to watch since the real Notre Dame cathedral caught fire in April 2019.note  Not to mention the Ominous Latin Chanting lines such as ''Dies irae, dies illa, solvet saeclum in favilla," which actually means "The day of wrath, that day, shall consume the world into ashes." On top of this, there's Frollo's Famous Last Words:
      Frollo: And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Frollo is well-known for being the most sexual Disney villain. Now, consider that this is the 34th Disney Animated Canon entry...
    • The jester in the Steadfast Tin Soldier number in Fantasia 2000 looks quite a bit like Frollo. And dies like him too!
  • Ho Yay:
    • Djali is referred to as a male. Hugo makes no secret of his attraction to him.
    • It's way too easy to read something going on between Quasimodo and Phoebus, considering how they started out hating each other, much like Phoebus did with Esmeralda, but become Fire-Forged Friends and Quasi even pulls him into a hug after Phoebus saved his life.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Quasimodo's life from start through adulthood is one long story of isolation and abuse, and he even gets friendzoned by Esmeralda. Nonetheless, he remains a kind man and even blesses the two's love in the end.
    • Esmeralda counts as well, given all the persecution the Roma go through, the fact that Frollo is after her specifically, and she still manages to be willing to pray for everybody else in "God Help the Outcasts".
  • Just Here for Godzilla: The 2 most well-known types of fangirls in the fanbase, "Frollophiles" and "Clopinphiles", are often known for watching the movie merely to see Frollo and/or Clopin. Clopin's side often has many fans complaining about how he "doesn't have enough screentime".
  • Love to Hate: Frollo.
    • He is, first of all, realistically scary. He's an example of the many times throughout history that bigotry and persecution has been self-righteously excused as justice.
    • He is voiced by Tony Jay which automatically gives him a badass voice.
    • He is Faux Affably Evil in where he generally appears pretty polite but yet there is a glint of madness and zealotry underneath, and you know it. See the episode with the ants and the torture chamber.
    • Despite spending all its time kicking dogs, his Hidden Depths are hinted at once in the movie: the Villain Song. Is he Necessarily Evil and hates himself for it, does he actually hate himself for lusting towards Esmeralda or is he just a deluded Knight Templar? Is it a real epiphany that throws him more into madness or an Ignored Epiphany? No one knows, so it adds a layer of depth to the character.
    • He shows himself quite competent in his endeavors in general, if evil.
    • And there's the whole Creepy Awesome thing.
    • Despite being such a loathesome individual, Frollo is such a well-written, three-dimensional, and all-around memorable character you can't help but like him despite all the crimes he commits.
    • Has come to a head with the YouTube Poop turned Widget Series The Frollo Show, in which Frollo is slightly toned down into an anti-heroic Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist, and is joined by Gaston and the Anarchy Sisters.
  • Memetic Molester: Frollo, for good reasons.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Hellfire" is becoming an increasingly popular subject for YouTube Poop.
      • Also, statements to the likes of "most dramatic reaction to a boner ever" or "the boner that burned down Paris."
    • The scene where Frollo attempts to throw baby Quasimodo down the well has also become a popular YouTube Poop source. People commonly edit things like bad movie posters or unpopular celebrities like Justin Bieber over Quasimodo.
    • This screencap of Phoebus, usually attached to posts of a confusing or mind-bending nature.
    • "Witchcraft."
    • Frollo's final line, "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!'', followed by posters adding a nonchalant response from God such as "As you wish", or "That's not a bad idea." Somehow it may soften the creepiness of the scene.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: The movie was a huge hit in France. The filmmakers were especially worried about offending the French people by taking an iconic symbol of French literature and culture and giving it the so-called "Disney Treatment". This is possibly why Disney was shocked later, when Hercules was met with A LOT of hate in Greece.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • Frollo was often thought of as cool despite having much less reason to be thought of as such (and much more NOT to) than other Disney villains. Instead of being a muscular macho-man like Gaston or a powerful sorcerer like Jafar, he is a genocidal self-righteous old religious fanatic; an intent to avoid Evil Is Cool is apparent here, yet it apparently did not work either.
    • The movie portrays Esmeralda and Phoebus's romance in a fully positive light, and though Quasimodo is heartbroken and jealous at first, he eventually fully accepts their love and is content as their friend. But you wouldn't know this from the Quasi/Esmeralda shippers either calling Esmeralda a "stupid whore" for choosing Phoebus or depicting Phoebus as anything from a brainless, dullard pretty-boy to an abusive monster just so Esmeralda can dump him and be with Quasimodo (granted, it helps that Phoebus really is an absolute bastard in the original novel).
  • Misaimed Marketing: The original trailers heavily emphasized the comic relief characters and the brighter musical numbers, especially the gargoyles and "Topsy Turvy", without giving even the slightest impression of the incredibly dark, emotional story and characters the film would later stand out for. Funnily enough, the video commercial describes it as "loaded with laughs".
    • Unsurprisingly, the toyline for the movie was a big flop in sales—one K-Mart employee recalled how a full year after the films release, there were whole shelves of toys of Quasimodo and Frollo still shelfwarming, even though they had been marked down to clearance price.
  • Mondegreen:
    • There are two regarding the Ominous Latin Chanting in the "Hellfire" sequence. The first lines of the chorus ("Et tibit Pater", translated as "And to you, father...") are often misheard as "It's Harry Potter...". Likewise, the lines "Mea Culpa" (Through my fault) and "Mea maxima Culpa" (Through my most grevious fault) are sometimes misheard as the surprisingly fitting "You're at fault!"
    • The line "Frollo's nose is long and he wears a truss!" is one in-universe, but out of universe its commonly misheard as "Frollo's nose is long and he wears a dress!"
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • In his very first scene, Frollo does a combo, he arrests a group of Roma and has them tortured and executed and when a woman escapes he pursues her which ends with him killing her through use of excessive force in order to get what she was holding. When it turns out to be a deformed baby he is willing to simply drown it, a moment that was so bad, Frollo himself feared divine retribution FOR THE FIRST AND ONLY TIME IN HIS LIFE if only because of the Archdeacon's warning. And that's only the start...
    • Among Frollo's minions the Oafish and the Brutish guard stand out as the most equal to their master in cruelty. It appears that they enjoy the freedom that his ruling leaves them to mistreat those that they see fit as they both harass and threaten Esmeralda for being a Romani and incite the mob to torture Quasimodo For the Evulz. By the time that they gladly burn down the city and immediately attempt to behead Phoebus for saving a family of kids from a fire that their boss started they have clearly chosen to follow him to damnation.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
    • If talking about the soundtrack, most will at least mention Tom Hulce's singing voice. It's not grand or anything, but it's just so sweet.
    • A slightly odd example, but when Esmeralda pulls a Shut Up, Hannibal! on Frollo and shouts "Justice!" at the top of her voice. It's so powerful and awesome that it's prone to giving people goosebumps.
  • Narm Charm: The entire ending teeters on this, especially the unprovoked hug by a random kid (who also shows up at Clopin's puppet show...)
  • Newer Than They Think: The 1939 film version is what introduced the 'justice for oppressed minorities' theme into the story, drawn from director William Diertele's experiences in Nazi Germany. "God Help the Outcasts" is more inspired by a scene from that film, where Esmeralda prays for help for her people. It was also the first version to Race Lift her into being an ethnic Romani (albeit played by a white actress) - whereas Esmeralda of the novel was a white French girl raised by Romani. Of course, this could also qualify as Older Than They Think, if one is under the impression Disney invented these elements.
  • No Yay: Frollo's obsession with Esmeralda. Yet a portion of the fanbase ships them...
  • Older Than They Think:
    • Quasimodo wearing green, Esmeralda in danger of being burned at the stake as opposed to hanged and everyone except Frollo being Spared by the Adaptation aren't unique to this story - they first appeared in the Animated Adaptation by Burbank Films Australia.
    • Frollo being a judge instead of the Archdeacon of Notre Dame first occurred in the 1939 film, due to the Hays Code prohibiting negative depictions of the church.
    • It's commonly believed the gargoyles were invented purely for the film for comic relief purposes. While their individual characterizations were Disney's invention, Quasi did converse with Notre Dame's gargoyles in the original novel, to the point where they were his only friends despite being inanimate, which is where Disney got the idea to include them as characters and make them sentient.
  • Padding: "A Guy Like You" seems to be in the movie just to give the gargoyles something to do. It doesn't advance the plot in any meaningful way, and merely retreads Quasimodo's hopes that Esmeralda loves him, which were already covered in "Heaven's Light". It also hurts that the song is a jarring Mood Whiplash and borderline Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • Realism-Induced Horror: Judge Claude Frollo is often considered one of Disney's most disturbing villains due to being a surprisingly realistic portrayal of religious fanaticism, xenophobia, and violent male lust, in contrast to other Disney villains, who often have more simply (if not cartoonishly) evil goals and personalities. Ironically, his own fears of hell and eternal punishment lend him even more human-like qualities, although he eventually puts these fears aside to focus on his Knight Templar mission to eradicate the Roma.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The Oafish Guard is voiced by Bill Fagerbakke, aka Patrick freaking Star! And Kurt! And Broadway! And he uses the exact same voice for him too!
  • Ron the Death Eater: Esmeralda is often depicted as an ungrateful bitch who rejects Quasimodo due to his ugliness, and stops caring for him. Esmeralda consistently did care for Quasi as a friend... just not as a lover. In fact, she didn't even know that he was in love with her.
  • Rooting for the Empire: One reason Disney made Frollo such a monster was because they saw this happening in previous movies and wanted to create a villain that everyone would hate. It didn't work. Some even have a disturbing habit of justifying his actions.
  • The Scrappy: Hugo is probably one of, if not the most hated Disney sidekick of all time. Even people who like the other Gargoyles tend to single him out as the worst part of the movie, mostly due to causing a great deal of Mood Whiplash, having little personality beyond being a Fat Idiot, especially in comparison to Victor and Laverne, and his creepy attraction to Djali.
  • She Really Can Act: Demi Moore developed quite a hatedom in the 90s and 2000s for a series of badly received Box Office Bombs and attacks over her perceived diva-ish behavior. Now that the hate has died off, people are far more receptive to this - which was following poor turns in Striptease and The Scarlet Letter. Her performance as Esmeralda is considered a real highlight of the film - especially conveying Esmeralda's fiery Action Girl persona, as well as her soft compassionate side.
  • Signature Song: "Hellfire"; many consider it to be one of the very best songs in a Disney Movie, and the best Villain Song. Other strong contenders are "Out There" and "God help The Outcasts."
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • The Anvilicious Aesops aside, the film does raise a very real and still very relevant issue regarding Frollo and his treatment of the Roma: it shows someone who shouldn't have political power using it to abuse others, especially minorities. Persecution due to racism and their harmful stereotypes is still going on in this day and age.
    • Clothing yourself in religion and dogma does not automatically make you a good person.
    • The scene where Quasimodo is publicly tortured shows with brutal honesty that anyone can turn out to be a downright vicious bully, especially to those who are different, even with the slightest provocation.
    • Do not treat women as objects or prizes to be won. Frollo's lust for Esmeralda led to widespread chaos and agony, and she nearly died horribly over it.
  • Squick:
    • Frollo grabbing Esmeralda in the church and smelling her hair.
    • During "Hellfire", he rubs one of her scarves against his face.
    • Keeping on the "Hellfire" point: no matter how glorious the song is, it's still Frollo singing about how if Esmeralda doesn't submit to his desire, "she will buuuuuuuuuurn." Once again, how did they manage to get this past the censors?
    • While it's played for laughs, Hugo the Gargoyle's attraction towards Djali the goat is fairly disturbing.
  • Special Effects Failure:
    • The crowd scenes utilize CGI people. Especially on the Blu-Ray, it's... noticeable.
    • See Frollo's effort to grab the gargoyle as he hangs for dear life, as it constantly changes position between shots.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • Even though he is essentially an abusive foster parent, Frollo's grim depiction of the world "out there" actually sounds quite realistic considering the film is set in Medieval Europe which was not known for being kind to those with severe birth defects. Quasimodo does, however, get to witness this first hand, and later says that it's because of people like Frollo that the world is that way.
    • While his beliefs are still bigoted and he remains a crusader/fanatic, the movie proves Frollo more or less right that at least those Roma who are associated with the Court of Miracles are dangerous criminals, and arguably even terrorists for attempting to murder the serving captain of the guard. Even had they done nothing bad whatever before, that by itself actually serves to perfectly justify him arresting them, even under modern legal norms.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Par for the course with Disney films that spawned sequels. It's considered to be the darkest film in the animated canon, and certainly one of the most ambitious in its willingness to address some themes that most would consider less than family-friendly and in the frighteningly realistic main villain. The sequel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame II, was a direct-to-video film that was unable to meet the acclaim of the original. The end result turns out worse than most had expected, with subpar animation and an uninteresting villain.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The movie is widely considered to be one of Disney's best, mostly because it's so much darker than their usual material.
  • Ugly Cute: Quasimodo, who's Ugly Adorable. Word of God states that he was specifically designed this way (taking inspiration from, among other things, pugs) so it's much easier for the audience to identify and sympathize with him early on. If he's too ugly it takes too long and the moment is lost, and there are even some people who will never empathize with him no matter how good of a person he is if he's too ugly.
  • Values Resonance:
    Lindsay Ellis: I think [Hunchback] would be more appreciated if it came out today, because we need stories like this today. Fasci-y abusive Frollo, justice for the oppressed, the focus on how some men really loathe the objects of their desire, the wholesale demonization of ethnic groups... Maybe this movie wasn't appreciated in its time because it didn't resonate as much in 1996, but it does resonate now in 2017.
    • With regards to Esmeralda not ending up with Quasimodo, that plot point has only aged better as the years have gone on. Esmeralda is a powerful and compassionate character in her own right, and Phoebus is the one she chooses (he doesn't pursue her or 'win' her; she chooses him and they fall in love mutually). Quasimodo accepts Esmeralda's choice and is happy to have her friendship, understanding he is not Entitled to Have You. And Frollo, who does have the latter attitude, is shown to be in the wrong.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • The gargoyle Laverne has no Tertiary Sexual Characteristics and a voice actress (Mary Wickes) with a husky voice. Although she has a mostly feminine name, it's only mentioned once in the film. Averted in other languages where either her voice is unmistakably female, the language itself has grammar rules that indicates gender (like in Spanish or French) or both.
    • Djali the goat is female in the novel, but male in this movie – which doesn't stop male gargoyle Hugo from flirting with him.
  • Vindicated by History: When it was released, it was a moderate hit with both critics and audiences - the consensus was "Hey, it was better than Pocahontas, but nowhere near as good as The Lion King or Beauty and the Beast". However, in the years since the film's release it's now far more common to see people praising the movie as not only the best movie of the Disney Renaissance, but one of Disney's most ambitious films ever, thanks to its dark storyline and heavy themes of prejudice, social injustice, lust, eternal damnation, and powerful religious imagery. Frollo is frequently brought up as one of Disney's most frightening and memorable villains because of the relative realism of his monstrous beliefs and actions, which only makes them more horrifying.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Notre Dame, and the image of Esmeralda dancing Frollo sees in the flames in "Hellfire". It is mentioned in the commentary that the special effects team gave their best in that scene.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Endlessly marketed to kids with cute dolls and toys and such... and then Frollo sings "Hellfire", which is all about his lust for Esmeralda and how she will burn if he can't have her. There is no ambiguity about the nature of his feelings for her. Also, he "accidentally" kills Quasimodo's mother and then tries to outright murder him as an infant, flat out saying he's going to send him to Hell. That happens just minutes into the film. It even got a G rating in North America. Interestingly enough, one of the film’s actors Jason Alexander even said he thought the film was too dark to take his kid to. And that’s coming from a guy who played the most child friendly character in the movie!
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Jason Alexander as Hugo is a sore spot for many fans, as Disney was perceived to be trying to recapture the magic of Robin Williams as the genie - by just blindly casting a comedian as a comic relief sidekick. As noted under The Scrappy, Hugo is the least liked of the gargoyles, although some will say that the problem isn’t Alexander’s performance so much as the writing for the role, which gives him practically no good material to work with.

     The 1997 film 


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