So last night I watched The Princess and the Frog for my Junior I.S. Hold your envy.
It was a pretty good movie, but the one thing that stood out was the villain's sticky end. Even by Disney standards, this is pretty bad. Dr. Facilier is seized by the hoodoo spirits he's been allied with, pulled into a giant green mask and eaten, and his name and agonized face are inscribed on a nearby tombstone.
But that got me thinking, always a bad thing, and the thought was: was that the worst Disney death? As it turns out, it wasn't even close. Here's a list I've compiled of Disney animated villains and the grisly fates they've met.
And They Say These Fairy Tales Were Cleaned Up For Kids!
Dr. Facilier/The Shadowman, Princess and the Frog: Dragged off screaming into voodoo hell.
Ursula, The Little Mermaid: Stabbed with the jagged prow of a recently resuscitated ship.
Medusa (sort of a Cruella De Vil knockoff), The Rescuers: Left clinging to a stovepipe of her ruined ship, beset by her (former) pet alligators, Brutus and Nero.
McLeach, The Rescuers Down Under: Falls down a 700-foot waterfall.
Scar, The Lion King: Simultaneously attacked by hyenas and burned alive.
The Wicked Queen, Snow White: Nearly electrocuted by a lightning strike, then falls down a mountain to her death.
Sykes, Oliver & Company: Drives his limousine into an oncoming train and is obliterated.
Prince John, Robin Hood: Put to work on a chain gang.
Hades, Hercules: Dragged by lost souls into the pit of said lost souls.
(This isn't a clip of Hades' death, it's a clip of Hades is fucking awesome.)
Shan Yu, Mulan: Hit by a giant rocket, which carries him into a tower full of other rockets and detonates.
Jafar, Aladdin/Return of Jafar: After being turned into a genie in the first movie, Jafar’s lamp is kicked into lava in the second. He is electrocuted before exploding into a cloud of dust. (Bonus: Sa’Luk, the villain from Aladdin and the King of Thieves, is killed when he grabs the Hand of Midas and is turned into gold.)
Ratcliffe, Pocohontas/Pocohontas II: Dragged back to England in chains at the end of the first film, he frees himself in the second but is eventually arrested by the King. (I haven’t seen this one, so I’m not sure about his fate.)
Commander Lyle Rourke, Atlantis: This has to be the single weirdest death. Rourke is stabbed by a magic shard of glass that turns him into a blue, red-veined, golden-eyed soulless monster. He then runs into a giant fan blade (on a flaming blimp that’s rapidly falling out of the sky) and explodes. Whatever’s left of Rourke is then blown to hell and beyond when the blimp, now a gigantic flaming comet, hits earth. And as if he wasn’t sufficiently dead, the crash sets off a volcanic eruption, which drowns Rourke’s blue, shredded, exploded, flaming remains in HOT LAVA. Somebody in the Disney studios really had it in for this guy.
(None of that was made up.)
Frollo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Falls from a bell tower and dies.
Ratigan, The Great Mouse Detective: At the end of a balloon chase, Ratigan crashes into Big Ben, along with the titular hero. Ratigan, who makes his way to the outside of the clock tower, falls to his death after the clock strikes midnight and the vibrations shake him off.
Gaston, Beauty and the Beast: Falls to his death from the tower of the Beast’s castle.
Edgar, The Aristocats: Locked in a trunk and mailed to Timbuktu.
Captain Hook, Peter Pan: Last seen swimming like heck into the distance, with a crocodile in hot pursuit. Wikipedia tells me that he does the same thing at the end of Return to Neverland, only with an octopus this time.
Yzma, The Emperor’s New Groove: Changed into a cat and becomes some sort of miniature Wilderness Scout.
Lady Tremaine, Cinderella: Absolutely nothing.
Shere Khan, The Jungle Book: Chased away with his tail on fire, but reappears in the sequel.
Cruella De Vil, 101 Dalmatians: Crashes into a ditch after her hellmobile car is hit by a truck, but is otherwise unharmed.
Maleficent, Sleeping Beauty: Possibly the most awesome of all the deaths. After a protracted battle with Prince Phillip, Maleficent changes into a giant black dragon and is stabbed by Phillip’s magic sword. She tries to crush him, but falls forward and instead breaks a rock ledge, falling to her death in a sea of fire.
Watch the first six minutes. It's like the Ben-Hur chariot scene of Disney movies.
I'm not sure what to say to that, except that falling to one's death is weirdly common (Maleficent, Gaston, Ratigan, Frollo, Rourke, Hades, The Wicked Queen, McLeach). Women also get off relatively easy; four of the seven female villains on here survive past the end of the movie. Nine male villains die, six live and the immortal Hades is dragged into a pit of living death, so count that however you want. The women tend to be motivated by greed (for things such as coats and diamonds), envy of someone's beauty or good looks, or envious of male power. The males are more generally motivated by greed, whether it's for money (McLeach, Rourke) or power (Hades, Scar).
If I Had To Rank the Top Five Worst Deaths/Punishments:
Medusa's going to die. She's clinging to a stovepipe in the middle of a deserted bayou, without allies and with two hungry alligators waiting for her to fall. She's got no means of transportation, no way to call for help, and sooner or later she's going to be eaten by her former pets. What gets her on this list is the hours and hours of clinging to the stovepipe she'll endure, with the certain knowledge that the alligators are waiting at the bottom, before her exhausted arms finally give in and she falls to her death. That's a horrifying thought.
Even when I was a kid, I found this scary. He can see the humongous waterfall drop, and he knows he can't get away. That dawning comprehension makes his last moments absolutely terrifying. I mean, damn.
Pulled, screaming and panicking and trying to make a deal, into the giant mouth of a huge evil mask by his former friends? It takes a lot to top this guy on the list, but we're going to go further...
No villain on this list can match the ridiculous extreme that Rourke's creators went to to kill him off.
As Rourke might say, "Congratulations, cat! You just won the solid gold Kewpie doll."
Scar loses what he's always wanted, is beaten in a fight by the lion he thought was dead, loses everything he had as king of Pride Rock, then is attacked and eaten alive by his former allies at the same time as he's burned to death by rising flames. That, dear readers, is a fucking hardcore death and it's No. 1 on this list.