Warning: there will be lots of falling from great heights from hereon in.
The ‘disneyfication’ of a story has come to mean making something sugary sweet – which is actually pretty unfair when you consider how great the House of Mouse is at producing hateful villains and then killing them off with gleeful nastiness. Here are our picks for the best ever Disney villain deaths.
7. Evil Queen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The original and still one of the very best. The Evil Queen’s tumble off the crumbling cliff face begins the fine tradition of Disney villains falling to their deaths. Two wonderfully nasty touches are the boulder falling after her (there’s no way she’s surviving that) and then those sinister-looking vultures swooping down for their supper…
6. Gaston, Beauty and the Beast
Gaston’s transition from arrogant jock to sadistic hunter is one of the most memorable Disney villain arcs, so it is only right that he has one of the best deaths. The actual event is a fairly standard one but his crazed attack on the Beast before hand ensures we are cheering when his final moment comes. Plus, notice the tiny skulls in his pupils as he falls. Good riddance, Gaston!
5. Syndrome, The Incredibles
Far and away Pixar’s greatest villain, former spurned sidekick Syndrome learns not to mess with the Parr family the hard way when he gets his cape caught in the propellers of his jet. It’s a nasty, almost James Bondian, way to go but it is also a clever callback to a running joke earlier in the film. Capes only get you in trouble…
4. Clayton, Tarzan
Animal-hating Clayton is a despicable personification of the evil of men, so it is fitting he is felled by nature. Once again, Disney use the fact that they can’t show any gore to make the scene more effective; the split-second shot of the shadow of Clayton’s hanged form is a terrifically chilling moment. Who would have thought you could ever hate Brian Blessed so much?
3. Judge Frollo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The most despicable villain in Disney’s filmography, Frollo is culpable of attempted genocide, religious extremism and just being a really creepy guy. As such, he deserved a horrible end. The moment the gargoyle transforms into a demon and he finally realizes that he has been doing the devil’s work and not God’s is particularly delicious.
2. Professor Ratigan, The Great Mouse Detective
Disney’s take on one of the great ‘fall-to-your-doom’ scenes in all of fiction (Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty’s tussle over the Reichenbach Falls) is naturally top-notch. The animation and sound design of the scene inside Big Ben, as the cogs tick ominously and Ratigan becomes ever more animalistic, is sublime. A fantastic climax for a very underrated Disney film.
1. Scar, The Lion King
Well, who else could take the top spot of a Disney-related list other than the Shakespeare of Disney productions? Scar and Simba’s final fight is a brilliantly tense affair. The evil uncle’s eventual fate is also perfect for this master manipulator, as his backstabbing and general snakery finally come back to bite him – or tear him to shreds, as the case may be.
What’s your favourite Disney villain death? Let us know in the comments!