Disney movies are famous for their happy endings. But when you think about it, it takes a hell of a lot of death to get there.
Scar falls down the cliff in The Lion King. Gaston is thrown from the Beast’s castle in Beauty and the Beast. Hook tumbles from the ship’s mast in Return to Neverland. Maleficent (in dragon form) plummets into a deep valley in Sleeping Beauty. Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame plunges into a lake of molten metal.
Anyone else starting to notice a pattern here?
Yes, a significant number of the Disney villains die from falling. Falling from things, off things, into things.
And so the hero triumphs with his/her enemy’s literal downfall.
There are those who speculate that the tragic trope is about more than just Disney hanging onto a PG rating. One theory holds that by suggesting the character's death rather than explicitly showing it, the writers are sparing the little kiddies from trauma.
Look, if true, we'll take it. Because, Lord knows, they've done enough already. Bambi's mum, anyone?
Shelley Craft on having it all and movie-inspired parenting mantra. Post continues below.
Another suggests that it's to maintain the divide between good versus evil.
For example, if Simba had just sunk his teeth straight into Scar's throat, there would be no doubt he was a straight-up murderer.
But the whole kicking-him-over-the-cliff-to-a-pack-of-rabid-hyenas thing seems to make him slightly less culpable. More like manslaughter, perhaps.
For proof that gravity is the true Disney villain, see this incredible compilation video: