One of the things that has made Disney animation great is the multitude of fantastic villains the studio has created over the years. Of course, the reason it's wonderful to have a great villain is that it's incredibly satisfying to see them defeated. Disney villains always lose, but sometimes they aren't simply beaten. Sometimes they're straight up killed.
Sometimes they're bested in a fight, sometimes their own hubris leads to their defeat, but regardless of how it happens, it can still be incredibly satisfying to see them killed. Here are 10 times that it felt good to see an animated bad guy die in a Disney flick.
Ursula from The Little Mermaid is one of the great Disney villains. She's deliciously evil to the point of being fun. In fact, she's so much fun that we almost hate to see her die, but the way she dies is so great that it needed to be included here. After taking King Triton's power, Ursula makes herself a massive creature to show off that she's the new ruler of the sea. Unfortunately, this just makes her a bigger target for Eric, who expertly pilots a ship through stormy seas to impale her with the bow.
Scar kills his brother and convinces his nephew that the child is responsible for the death, driving him away from his home. Scar is a grade-A asshole. His death is also one of the all-time best. Simba throws him off of Pride Rock, and while that would be enough to kill many Disney villains, Scar survives the fall, only to find himself surrounded by angry jackals. We see the terror in his eyes as he realizes what's about to happen to him. We only see the death in shadow, but that's all we need. We don't need to see the viciousness of the attack, it can't beat our imagination.
Oliver & Company is not one of Disney's crowning achievements. However, it does have an utterly despicable villain in Sykes, a man who resorts to kidnapping and ransom of a small child as a way to make money. He's certainly a guy who needs to receive his comeuppance, and man does he. In one of the most brutal Disney villain deaths of all time, Sykes is run down by a damn train. Most Disney villains still had enough of their body left to give them a proper funeral. Sykes, however, is likely obliterated.
7. Lyle T. Rourke
Lyle T. Rourke is not the most famous Disney villain. Atlantis: The Lost Empire is probably not the favorite film of many Disney fans. Still, Rourke is a significant villain, mainly because we spend most of the movie believing him to be on our team of heroes before he stabs them (and us) in the back. This turncoat behavior is justifiably punished after our hero Milo scratches him with a shard of the Atlantian relic that turns him into a crystalline creature before he gets shattered into pieces by the propeller on his hot air balloon.
Maleficent is pure evil and is quite possibly the greatest Disney villain of all time. With evil that great, you almost can't help but have the death be equally great, and Sleeping Beauty does not disappoint. With the help of a little fairy magic, Prince Philip lets his sword fly and he stabs the dragon in the chest. She takes one final lunge at the hero, but only succeeds in plummeting to her doom. It's one of the few times that a hero actively causes the death of a villain, but it's the only way that Maleficent could possibly go down.
While The Hunchback of Notre Dame came out while the Disney Renaissance was coming to a close, there's a lot to love about this movie. Frollo is an absolutely diabolical villain in what is actually one of Disney's darkest films ever. His death is no less twisted. Once again, we have the standard "fall from great heights" death, but this one happens into a pool of molten lead. It's an absolutely awful way to die, but it's hard to say that it's not a just way for this villain to meet his end.
4. Dr. Facilier
The Princess and the Frog is an overlooked gem of a movie. One of the reasons it turned out to be a great movie was Keith David's Dr. Facilier, aka Shadowman. Without a doubt the smoothest Disney villain ever. He's got a rock-solid Disney song and an equally satisfying death. After losing control of the forces of magic that have given him all his power, he falls victim to them. They overwhelm him and take hold of him, then proceed to drag him, literally kicking and screaming, into their word, where one assumes things will not be pleasant. Bye Shadowman, have a nice trip.
3. Shan Yu
Shan Yu doesn't get an awful lot of screen time in Mulan which limits his effectiveness as a villain overall. However, this is made up for by making him one of the most physically imposing villains ever. This makes the finale, where Mulan not only outsmarts him but out fights him, an incredibly satisfying battle. Their brief rooftop fight ends when Mushu, strapped to a large firework, sends himself flying at Shan Yu. Mushu stops, Shan Yu keeps going, and the villain is sent crashing into even more fireworks, leading to his end in an epic explosion.
2. The Evil Queen
Disney's Evil Queen from Snow White is the prototype for all Disney villains that followed her. She also started the trend of having Disney villains die by falling extreme distances. However, this one gets bonus points because, in addition to the Queen falling to her doom off a mountain top, the rock that she's trying to dislodge in order to smash the seven dwarves follows her off the cliff, implying that she was squashed shortly after she hit the ground. Even if she somehow survived the fall, the rock certainly finished the job.
Disney's Tarzan is a solid movie although it likely won't be on most peoples' lists of the best ever. It's villain, the hunter Clayton, isn't nearly as evil as some, though he has no problem hunting and killing for no other reason than his own enjoyment of it. However, if he had known how he would meet his end, he likely would have stayed home. Clayton looks like he's going to meet his demise the same way many do in Disney movies, by falling from a great height following a battle with Tarzan. Except that Clayton falls among a collection of vines which get tangled around his neck as he falls, resulting in them becoming a makeshift noose around his neck. He would have kept falling had the vines not stopped short of the ground. We even get to see him hanging there, though only in shadow. Brutal.
CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.
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