Thoughts on storytelling and the world of animation. Caution! SPOILERS!

Disney Kill Count

I came across this metapicture post on Pinterest the other day, and laughed.


Then I took it to a more serious intellectual level.  What’s the body count for bad guys vs good guys?  Not nearly as high as I originally thought.  Plus the comments turned out to be a bit wrong.

We’ll start at the beginning.  Who dies in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs?  The Wicked Queen, essentially pushed to her death by the dwarfs.  (I think lightning and a cliff was involved, too, so their hands technically aren’t bloody.)  Did we see her kill anyone?  No. Implied that she had in the past?  Yes.  Attempt to kill someone?  most definitely yes.

No deaths in Cinderella, and her father’s death before the story begins is presumably natural.

Sleeping Beauty – Prince Phillip kills Malificent, also a cliff falling death.  She’s certainly seen scaring people, but I don’t believe the wicked fairy kills anyone during the movie.

 The Little Mermaid – Ursula merely turns mermaids and mermen into . . . shrunken sea monkeys?  They’re not dead, but we do witness the explosive deaths of her companions, Flotsam and Jetsam, by King Triton.  Eric kills the wicked sea witch by driving the prow of a ship into her.  In Aladdin, Jafar actively tries to kill the sultan, but fails.  Gaston falls to his death from the Beast’s castle.  Hook is well known for being a murderer, and in the book, everybody pretty much kills indiscriminately, pirates and indians and lost boys alike, but the movie is much tamer.  Hook falls from the ship into the jaws of the hungry crocodile and races off, presumably to be eaten off-screen.  Lots of attempts, no actual on-screen deaths.  Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove (that’s the lady in purple and black on the far right)  is another failed murder plotter.  She lives, but gets turned into a cat.

Don’t think that all movies are death-by-villain free.  No one has ever forgiven Disney for killing Bambi’s mother.  And  there’s the poignant and dramatic death of Simba’s father, Mufasa, at the claws of his brother, Scar.  ALSO a cliff falling death into a stampeding herd of wildebeests.  Scar is in turn killed after a vengeful Simba throws him off Pride Rock, into a pack of furious hyenas.   We also have Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, who kills Quasimodo’s mother, and probably others in the burning of houses in the city.  Frollo also dies – FALLING from the cathedral balcony.  Mother Gothel kills Eugene in Tangled, but Rapunzel is able to bring him back to life with the last of her magic.  What happens to her?  SHE FALLS FROM THE TOWER.  Facilier, the voodoo king from The Princess and the Frog, is responsible for the death of Ray, a comic relief sidekick in the form of a firefly.  He gets dragged to Hell by random angry voodoo spirits, which probably counts as falling.  Shan Yu, in Mulan, kills all across China, though most deaths happen off screen.  He is responsible for the death of a messenger and a defender of the Great Wall.   Mulan finishes him off with fireworks on the top of the roof, which means that he fell off.  In Pocahontas, we have the death of Kocoum by a secondary character, Thomas, John Smith’s friend.    Quite a feat for a sidekick!  It’s hard to define Thomas, as he’s not really made out to be villainous.

This is not a definitive list, but a good representation, I hope.

Victim Responsible Hero Responsible Villain
The Wicked Queen (Grimhilde) 7 dwarfs
Malificent Prince Phillip
Mufasa Scar
Scar Simba Hyenas
Ray Facilier
Quasimodo’s mom Frollo
Ursula Prince Eric
Shan Yu Mulan
messengers/villagers Shan Yu
Kocoum Thomas
Flotsam, Jetsam King Triton
Gaston Beast
Frollo Quasimodo
Bambi’s Mom Hunter
Eugene (temporary) Mother Gothel
Captain Hook Peter Pan Crocodile?

I’m not sure which is more interesting, a roughly even death rate caused by heroes and villains, or the fact that most villains die while falling from something.  What’s THAT about?  Does it make the deaths less horrible, less personal?  The audience knows they’re doomed, but doesn’t have to SEE the body to know it’s a body?    Does it make the hero less of a murderer because technically gravity is at fault?  Maybe it’s just a successful dramatic climax.

But seriously, future Disney Villains – STAY ON THE GROUND.

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