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Disney Deaths That Traumatized Us As Children

Disney movies are supposed to be wholesome and sweet. They're films for the whole family to enjoy. They're filled with friendly fairies, talking bunnies, and whimsical songs like "Be Our Guest" and "Whistle While You Work." In other words, there shouldn't be anything traumatic about a Disney film...right? Well, for a company that prides itself on making kids' movies, Disney is responsible for some of the most disturbing death scenes in cinema history. 

Watch a Disney flick, and you might start off with singing mice or smiling dwarfs, but eventually, somebody is going to be screaming in terror as they fall to their doom. It's that sudden contrast between fanciful and frightful that has scarred so many children for life. After all, there's nothing worse for a kid than to get drawn into the wonderful world of Mickey magic, only to witness a gruesome murder. Some of these moments are simply being true to a movie's grim source material, while others are straight out of the twisted minds at the Mouse House. From the sacrifice of adorable creatures to some straight-up body horror, these are the Disney deaths that traumatized us as children.

Gurgi's sacrifice

The Black Cauldron isn't your typical animated Disney movie. There's a demonic Horned King, a trio of terrifying witches, and an undead army of skeletal killers. In other words, this movie gets really dark. In fact, it's so dark that a furry little dog monster commits suicide to stop a zombie horde from conquering the world.

Granted, Gurgi is a pretty annoying character, but the little dude is kind of cute. Plus, you really don't expect to see a two-legged Shih Tzu take his own life in a Disney film. However, the fate of the world is at stake. The only way to stop the Horned King's evil army is by flinging yourself into the cursed black cauldron. And to prevent his master from taking the plunge, Gurgi tosses himself into the bubbling vat of death. Sure, he comes back to life just a couple of scenes later, but for a few moments, kids across the world thought an adorable puppy-monkey had been boiled alive by black magic. And when the tears started flowing, parents probably weren't too happy with old Gurgi's sacrifice.

Long live the king

Disney movies might be for families, but there aren't a lot of families in Disney movies. The House of Mouse has orphaned the likes of Quasimodo, Cinderella, and Elsa, while poor Nemo, Belle, and Ariel are all missing a parent. But hey, at least Simba is lucky. This little lion cub has got a loving mom and the best dad on the planet. Mufasa is protective, gentle, and understanding. He's the perfect patriarch, a father who'll always care for his kid and teach his son how to become a king...until he gets trampled to death.

In the film's darkest moment, Simba finds himself trapped in a gorge, desperately trying out to outrun a herd of stampeding wildebeest. When it looks like he'll wind up as a Pride Land pancake, Mufasa shows up to the rescue, leaping into a raging river of hooves and horns to save his kid. But while Mufasa gets Simba to safety, climbing out of the gorge proves to be too difficult for the mighty king. Fortunately, his dear old brother, Scar, is there to help.

Of course, this whole thing has been a set-up by Scar. The guy is a cold-blooded schemer who wants to claim the throne for himself, and while Mufasa has never been on great terms with his brother, there's a look of absolute betrayal on his face when Scar tosses him down to his doom. But the waterworks really start flowing when Simba tries to get his dad to wake up, nuzzling his lifeless body before heading into exile. If we said this didn't shake us to our core as kids, we'd be lion.

Horror in the jungle

In between the 1967 animated classic and the 2016 remake, Disney released a live-action version of The Jungle Book in 1994, one that turned Mowgli into a hot 20-something trying to impress Cersei Lannister...while causing bad guys to die in ways far too intense for a PG film.

The plot of the film involves Mowgli leaving the jungle and trying to live in the human world. Unfortunately, things get gruesome when Mowgli crosses paths with a ruthless British officer played by Cary Elwes. This guy is looking for a hidden treasure and forces Mowgli to lead him to the gold by kidnapping the man cub's ladyfair. But as Mowgli and his sadistic captors head into the jungle, this kids' flick becomes a legitimate horror movie.

One villain falls screaming from a cliff, another is viciously mauled by a tiger, and the big bad finds himself in a watery grave before he's finished off by a gigantic python. But while those scenes are pretty hardcore for a kids' film, there are two deaths that turn the Jungle Book into straight-up torture porn. While chasing Mowgli through the jungle, one British bully falls into a pit of quicksand, and despite his friends' best efforts, he slowly sinks into the muck, crying in terror all the way down. Maybe even worse, another baddie is caught in a temple tramp, and we watch him scream in horror as the roof slowly comes down and the room fills with sand, entombing him for all eternity. It's a far cry from the "Bare Necessities," and it gave kids nothing but worries and strife.

Frollo winds up in hellfire

Despite its goofy gargoyles, The Hunchback of Notre Dame goes in some pretty serious directions. The movie opens with an evil judge murdering a lady and trying to drown her baby. A disfigured man is tortured and humiliated for the amusement of a crowd. There's a musical number about a guy who's going to kill a woman because he can't control his lust for her. And the theme of genocide hangs over the whole film.

With all that said, it should come as no surprise that when the villainous Claude Frollo meets his end, it's in the most disturbing way possible. In the film's big finale, Frollo is chasing the hunchbacked Quasimodo and beautiful Esmeralda through the halls of Notre Dame, hoping to kill the object of his desire. The chase eventually leads to the cathedral's balcony, and in the ensuing showdown, Frollo finds himself dangling from a demonic gargoyle, swinging back and forth above a sea of molten lead.

Then suddenly, the stony monster comes to life. As its eyes grow fiery and it starts to roar, the base of the gargoyle cracks, and a terrified Frollo falls into the lava below. Even kids probably understood the hellish metaphor, and while Frollo deserves some red hot justice—in this world and the next—watching him fall into the flames is enough to make anyone fear for their immortal soul.

A bad death for a bad lion

Four years after The Lion King, Disney followed up on their Oscar-winning success with The Lion King II: Simba's Pride. A straight-to-video sequel, it told the tale of Simba's daughter, Kiara, who falls in love with an outsider named Kovu. Unfortunately, that poses a bit of a problem, as Simba isn't too fond of Kovu's mom.

Evidently, back when Scar was running the Pride Lands in the first film, he had a couple of loyal followers, including the villainous Zira. So when Simba came back to power, he kicked out the traitors, banishing them to the desolate "Outlands." Ever since then, Zira has been plotting her revenge and training her children to kill Simba should the day ever come. And Nuka has been waiting for this moment for a long, long time.

Zira's oldest child, Nuka is weasley, jealous, and as obnoxious as any other character Andy Dick has played. But you can't help but sympathize with the guy as he lives in Kovu's shadow and can't ever seem to impress his mom. However, he finally gets is moment for glory when the Outlanders ambush Simba. When the lion king tries to escape by climbing a pile of dead trees, Nuka gives chase, only to lose his footing. And that's when an animated lion is pinned and smashed to death by rolling logs. Even his final words ("I'm sorry, mother. I tried.") are pretty heartbreaking, and it's safe to say that when most kids rented a Lion King sequel, they weren't prepared to see a scrawny cat have its internal organs crushed.

Hopper's death is for the birds

Birds are gorgeous creatures that bring light and laughter into our lives...unless you're an insect. Then, birds are terrifying dinosaurs that will rip you into tiny pieces. So it makes total sense that Hopper, the villainous grasshopper of A Bug's Life, is terrified of birds. After all, he lost sight in one eye after an encounter with one of these avian monsters. Yeah, he talks a big game when he's bullying ants, but when a sparrow shows up, this invertebrate loses his spine.

Granted, if there's any Disney villain who deserves to get eaten, it's got to be Hopper. He steals food from defenseless insects. He tries to murder the heroic Flick. He's voiced by Kevin Spacey. But when he's snatched with ruthless efficiency by a terrifying finch, you can't help but feel a little bit stick. Things get even worse as the bird carries Hopper to her nest and lowers him down toward the wicked beaks of her fluffy, frightening babies. Hopper screams in horror, and when the scene cuts to black, it's guaranteed to bug plenty of poor kids.

Clayton hangs around

Released in 1999, Tarzan is a wildly popular Disney film whose fans fondly recall dancing gorillas, an adorable Minnie Driver, and some catchy earworms courtesy of Phil Collins. However, there are other fans who can't shake the image of Clayton swinging in the trees. Sure, Clayton isn't what you'd call a likable guy. This big game hunter double-crosses his comrades, locks up a bunch of innocent apes, and sends poor Kerchak to that great big jungle in the sky. Still, his death is pretty twisted, especially by Disney standards.

In the film's climax, Tarzan and Clayton take to the trees, with the wild man ducking and dodging the hunter's machete. As the two work their way into a thicket of vines, Clayton gets a bit too kill-crazy, chopping down the very vines that are keeping him from falling. As he tumbles to the ground, one of those vines stays wrapped around his throat, turning this cartoon climax into an Old West execution. Sure, we don't actually see Clayton's lifeless body blowing the breeze, but that awful silhouette was enough to leave a generation of kids traumatized for life.

Losing Coral

The folks at Disney know there's nothing scarier for a kid than the idea that their mom is going to die someday. It's one of the reasons Bambi is basically the saddest animated movie ever made. And Pixar did a pretty good job of following in Bambi's hoof prints, traumatizing children with Finding Nemo, a cute cartoon where nearly an entire family gets gobbled up by a barracuda.

The movie opens up on a hopeful note, with expectant parents Marlin and Coral moving into their oceanfront anemone home. These clownfish have over 400 little eggs waiting to watch, and they couldn't be more excited about their future. That's when Marlin looks up to see a hungry barracuda, staring straight at the clownfish and their unhatched kids.

When the barracuda moves in for the kill, Marlin does his best to ward off the beast, but he's knocked unconscious. Tragically, when he wakes up, Coral is gone, and every egg save one has been devoured. We don't actually see anyone get eaten, but we do watch poor Marlin mourn his dead wife. And those heartbreaking sobs, coupled with the idea you could lose your mom at any moment, made so many kids feel completely adrift watching this film.

Aslan's incredibly cruel death

Make a checklist of the tropes you'd find in a Disney film, and you might consider things like "musical numbers" or "true love's kiss." Chances are you wouldn't think to include "torture" or "ritualistic sacrifice." But The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe isn't playing by the usual House of Mouse rules. Based on the children's book by C.S. Lewis, this fantasy tale follows four children who wind up in a magical world where the forces of light follow an all-powerful lion named Aslan, while the armies of darkness serve an ice cold enchantress known as the White Witch. Unfortunately, one of the kids falls under the sway of the witch queen, so Aslan pulls a move from the Jesus playbook and offers his life in exchange for the boy's.

And that's when The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe turns into a Disneyfied version of Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom. Aslan is surrounded by a hoard of cackling trolls, pig-men, and bat-demons. As the White Witch smiles with sadistic glee, the monsters tie Aslan up and shave his beautiful mane, all while laughing and mocking the once-powerful cat. After Aslan is dragged onto a stone altar, the Witch pulls out a knife, lets Aslan know that his death is completely pointless, and drives the blade into his heart. The scene is incredibly savage, especially for a movie aimed at children, and although Aslan returns for some feline revenge, it's impossible to forget the cruelty of that sacrifice scene.

Tentacle terror

Played by Bill Nighy, Davy Jones is one of the great Disney villains, with a CGI face that still looks amazing years after his appearance in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. With his lobster hand, tentacled chin, and supernatural crew, Jones was a powerful force to be reckoned with, until the East India Trading Company got ahold of his heart. Stashed away in a wooden chest, the heart gives the villainous Ian Mercer the ability to control the pirate lord, but near the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Mercer finds out why you should never play with a buccaneer's heart.

During a major sea battle, a cannonball kills Mercer's men, leaving him alone with the octopus pirate. Seizing the moment to reclaim his body part, Jones proceeds to murder Mercer in the slimiest way possible. All those tentacles on Jones' face? Yeah, he shoves them into Mercer's eyes and mouth, choking the bad guy to death. The moment that truly sells the ick factor is when one of those tentacles pops out of Mercer's nose. It honestly might be the most gruesome death in any Disney film ever.