Fan Says This Is Disney’s Darkest Death, Internet Goes Wild

in Movies & TV

scar clayton and frollo from Disney

All Images Credit Disney

The Walt Disney Company is universally known for its joy, humor, and unrivaled sweeping romances. Most Disney animated films are filled with uplifting musical numbers and messages of hope and unity, like when Moana gave back Te Fiti’s heart in the 2016 seafaring adventure or when Anna and Elsa regained their sisterhood in Frozen (2013).

There is something else that Disney’s animated features are known for — the villains. And more specifically their deaths, which are often dark and gruesome. In fact, some of their demises call into question how Disney managed to get away with it at all, with their movies being aimed at a family audience. Although, we have seen recently in Disney’s live-action fare, such as the upcoming Cruella, that things can get pretty scary.

Scar from The Lion King
Credit: Disney

A Twitter thread recently went viral after one Disney fan brought back a scene from a 1999 Walt Disney Animated Classic, and deemed it Disney’s darkest death. Fans were quick to discuss other dark demises, and others were only just discovering how Disney decided to animate the scene.

What Did They Say?

Twitter user Alec G. shared a clip from Disney’s animated Tarzan (1999) film, which showed the scene where ape hunter Clayton (Brian Blessed) — the film’s main antagonist — causes his own death while trying to fight the title character, Tarzan, voiced by Tony Goldwyn.

In a tweet, Alec G. said:

No Disney death, at least in the animation department, will ever be as dark as this.

The scene they are referring to is dark indeed. During a battle with Tarzan, Clayton gets tangled in vines. As he swings his machete, crazed at the thought of his plan going awry, he cuts all the vines except the one wrapped around his neck while Tarzan shouts for him to stop. Clayton falls and the shadow of his hanging body can be seen in the flashes of lightning.

clayton with jane and her father
Credit: Disney

Villains often face a dire end in Disney’s movies, but Clayton’s is surely one of the worst. Reacting to the video, it was clear that some Disney fans were only just noticing what happens in this late ’90s movie.

One tweet from The Blazing Fire Pony said:

As a kid I NEVER noticed the hanging silhouette that they had on Clayton back then! Dark indeed!

With another user replying — “Damn ….just found out now”

Chris D. said:

I just recently watched all the way to the end of this movie, and i was shocked as hell that they did this. Especially the silhouette on the tree!

A tweet from Alimations echoed the others’ thoughts by saying — “I never noticed this.” It’s fair to see why some viewers missed this dark Disney moment. After all, it only lasts seconds. Still, these scenes can often be among the most memorable and even a highlight of the films.

Walt Disney World has played into the love of Disney Villains with their annual Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom, which brings together Disney’s darkest characters, like Cruella, Maleficent and the Evil Queen, for a night of fun and spectacle. Or, there’s the Disney Villains After Hours special ticketed event where attendees can — as Walt Disney World describes — “indulge [their] inner villain at this sinister soiree.”

mickey and minnie mickey's not so scary
Credit: Disney

Sometimes the villain characters in Disney’s movies survive, something increasingly evident now, but the films of the Disney Renaissance period — namely those released between 1989 and 1999 — were all the more gruesome.

In response to the original tweet, a thread quickly developed as Disney fans discussed the other dark Disney villain deaths of the Disney universe.

MechaMark replied to the Clayton video with a GIF of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) villain, Judge Claude Frollo (Tony Jay). They said:

Frollo has a pretty brutal death. The fall alone would’ve killed him but they added the stone gargoyle to land on top of him and land in the molten fire. Like damn!

Mentioning the mid-90s mega-hit, The Lion King (1994), Caleb F. commented how Scar’s end should be up there in the darkest deaths Hall of Fame. They said:

I’d say that Scar’s death is more dark. He was eaten alive by the hyenas as payback for him trying to pin the blame on them. Ed’s psychotic laughter, the hyena’s evil faces and the look of pure terror on Scar’s face when he realizes what’s about to happen is what makes it so dark

Disney’s return to traditional animation with The Princess and the Frog (2009) brought us the headstrong Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), but it also gave us the shady villain, Dr. Facillier (Keith David). Replying to Dustin K. — who said that Dr. Facilier’s death was darker than Clayton’s — Expositor Lemonade said:

dr facillier
Credit: Disney

Not just that, but the whole time he’s pleading, and his final scream is literally baked into the instrumental version. Creeped me out when I was listening to the instrumental versions and suddenly the wail of a man being dragged to Hell echoes out.

There was little mention from fans in regards to other iconic Disney villains like Shere Khan, Ursula, Captain Hook and Jafar (he didn’t die as such, but being trapped in a lamp for the rest of time could be just as dark).

Last year, Screenrant revealed their top 10 scariest Disney villains deaths with Clayton coming in at number 6, behind Frollo, who topped the list. However, this Twitter user discusses why Clayton’s death is the darkest. Chelsea M. said:

Others commenting brutal villain deaths – the reason why Tarzan’s is top of the list is because of Tarzan calling out his name: Clayton’s death was not wanted by the hero, and subsequently it was not seen as a victory compared to villain deaths like Gaston, Facilier, and Scar.

As Marvel and Star Wars are now part of the Walt Disney family, there is a blurred line between how dark deaths should be portrayed now that their audience is so diverse. Whether you love the Disney villains or hate them, it’s never easy to watch them meet their fates. As Disney’s villains are continually immortalized through theme park events and board games like Disney Villainous, it is a wonder whether we will ever see moments as dark as these ever again.

Which Disney villain death do you think is the darkest?

Comments Off on Fan Says This Is Disney’s Darkest Death, Internet Goes Wild