According to the Disney Wiki, 664 named characters have died during the run-time of our favourite children’s movies.
Disney is known for being a bit of a loose cannon when it comes to heartbreaking deaths, with beloved characters regularly biting the dust.
I’ll never forget you, Bing-Bong.
For most of us, these are nothing more than tear-jerking moments — or joyful, in the case of villains like Scar — but what if you lived in the Disney Universe?
What if, one day, all the stars aligned, a wormhole opened up and you were sucked right into the heart of a Disney movie.
Kinda like reverse Space Jam.
You’ve got 90-120 minutes of screen time before you are safely hurtled back through time and space to your comfy armchair, bed, seat in Starbucks, or wherever else you happen to be sat right now: How do you survive a Disney movie?
Don’t Be a Parent
It’s a well-known narrative device.
You’ve seen it in Harry Potter, you’ve seen it in Star Wars and you see it in plenty of Disney films. The parents almost always bite the dust.
The reason behind killing off the parents is simple: It frees up the protagonist to move unencumbered around their world. Without support or guidance, hindrance or rules.
The character is free to be treated however they need to be, no pesky parents getting in the way. But, for that to happen, ties to parents need to be cut. Sure, you could send them off overseas, but why not kill them in a heartbreaking tragedy?
Or both, in the case of Frozen.
Parents aren’t likely to make it past the 10-minute mark in a Disney movie, that’s if they ever make it onto the screen at all.
Whatever you do, if you find yourself in a Disney movie, make sure you use protection…
Don’t Be The Villain
You’ve just been thrown into a Disney movie. You were in the middle of dinner, you’re not dressed for the occasion. You’re scared, angry, hungry and some cutesy little rabbit won’t stop telling you to say nice things.
It’s enough to make anyone come off the rails a little, but hold up. Before you use your time in the Disney world to do as much damage as possible, consider the implications of being the bad guy.
Disney villains are often effective until the last, but rarely survive their encounter with a prince or princess.
Not all villains die, of course, Lots-O from Toy Story 3 ends up on the front of a garbage truck — belonging to Sid? — and Darla from Finding Nemo is sadly left very much alive. Yet, we’re hedging our bets here and since a good deal of villains die in Disney movies, quite horribly too, it’s best to watch your temper and keep it cool until the end.
Disney movies often follow parable narratives, stories that offer a moral lesson by mimicking real-life situations – just look at Zootopia and its message of acceptance and the damage of racial prejudice. However, at some point, their symmetry with real-life must come to an end and balance must be restored. Often this means the death of the primary antagonist.
As we all know, life isn’t like a Disney movie. The bad guy doesn’t always end up liquified by a jet engine. Yet, this is a kids movie and good must conquer evil.
While Jack the Ripper got away with it, his Disney counterpart definitely wouldn’t have. Keep on the straight and narrow and you’ll seriously increase your odds of survival.
Stay Low: Keep Away From High Places
Ever wondered why you’re scared of heights? Maybe it’s all Disney’s fault.
Characters in Disney movies drop like flies. Literally.
Perhaps this is because a fall from a great height implies death without the bloody visual evidence? It certainly serves to create a just ending or a heartbreaking moment without having to show a mangled corpse or a scene too scary for young audiences.
Although if that’s the case, why couldn’t Bambi’s mother have slipped over an icy cliff, Walt? Why?
Falling is a popular form of population control in Disney flicks. If you find yourself in a Disney death show, improve your odds and stay close to sea level. Or you could end up like this:
Stay Away From Anything Pre-21st Century
If you land in the crude, hand-drawn world of Disney circa 40s-90s, I’m sorry but you’re a goner, and it ain’t going to be pretty either.
The vibe pre-Pixar was a little different to your Toy Story underdog scenario. The plotlines in many of the older Disney classics had much darker undertones. In Alice in Wonderland (1951) the character Walrus literally eats a score of baby oysters alive. It’s off-camera, but it happened.
You only have to watch a classic Disney film to understand that they aren’t nice places to be: the dark themes, the eerie music, that creepy visual style. Deaths in the older movies came thick and fast. Murder, disease, falls from a great height…
This article on GamesRadar really sums up the savage nature of pre-21st century Disney.
Of course, you aren’t safe in a newer movie — just ask Nemo’s mother. But, you are at least safer and your demise would be decidedly less grim. Also, look at the pretty colours!
This is the first — and hopefully not last — in our survive series: Blogs aimed at helping you survive in the highly unlikely, yet totally possible scenario you accidentally enter the fictional universe of your favourite TV shows and movies. Got a universe you’d like us to include in our survive series, let us know in the comments or on twitter!
James is THG’s technophobic TV nut, movie addict and theorist crackpot. He’ll be bringing you features, insights and incoherent ramblings on all your favourite and least favourite shows and movies.