When Walt Disney first established his mission to create family-focused feature films, one of his main goals was to tell stories as they had never been told before. We can honestly say that Disney as a studio has and continues to do just that. Who didn't grow up with a favored Disney movie that they could watch over and over again? Everyone knows the classic fairytale formulae of The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Tangled; but Disney also gave us the high-flying adventures and excitement of Aladdin, The Lion King, and Treasure Planet. No matter how you slice it, the writers, artists, and creative minds at the House of Mouse can really dish out some pretty fantastic tales.
That all being said, not every story is easy to tell. If it were that easy, everyone would do it, right? Some films were easier to make than others, but then there are those that needed a little more pixie-dust just to get them off the ground. Not every Disney classic had magical beginnings. Some went from just a few edits, but then there were those that completely covered the cutting room floor. Many of our favorite films that we know today started out as completely different narratives with entirely different directions. Some were too weird, some were too slow, and some were just too dark for Disney. Today, we're here to peek behind the curtain and take a look at a few scenes that were cut for all those reasons and more. Some are funny, some are freaky, and some we're glad we never saw. Here are our top scenes deleted by Disney.
15 THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS: MAD SANTA
This film is what happens when you blend the stop-motion artistry of Henry Selick and the weird and whimsical genius of Tim Burton. The result was a strange and splendid trip through the Holiday worlds. The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of Disney's most fan-beloved films, but there was a time where it was more macabre than merry.
Before Oogie Boogie was brought in, Santa was just left in Halloween Town while Jack took over his Holiday. When Jack is shot down and lands in the graveyard, he's met by a rather spiteful Santa who gets a little rough confronting the Pumpkin King. We can understand his rage, but this is a side of Santa that's a bit uncomfortable to see.
14 HE'S OUR GUEST
There are some scenes cut for content, some scenes cut for time, and some scenes are cut because they just don't make sense. This scene is one of those. In the original cut of Beauty and The Beast, the show-stopper, "Be Our Guest," was sung by Lumiere and the rest of the enchanted staff to welcome Maurice to the castle after escaping death by wolves moments before.
The scene would have been followed by the introduction of The Beast, who scares the daylights out of the old man before throwing him in the dungeon. Because this scene contrasted so much with the song sequence, it was rearranged to welcome Belle to the castle instead. It was a simple fix, but one with better flow.
13 NIGHTMARE IN NOTTINGHAM
Disney's swashbuckling outlaw of Sherwood Forest is perhaps the most beloved incarnation of the character. It's a fun film with sword-fights, castles, and talking animals. What more could you possibly need? As fun as the film is, its climactic castle fight sequence almost took a hard left turn into some grim territory.
In the original scene, Robin Hood flees from the burning castle by jumping into the moat. He's wounded and taken back to Sherwood Forest. Prince John follows after them with a literal cloak and dagger. As Robin lies weakened with Marian at his side, Prince John attempts to finish him only to be stopped at the last second by King Richard, himself! Thankfully, Disney gave us a more comical ending.
12 THE CHILLING FATE OF CHARLES MUNTZ
A favorite amongst the Pixar crowd, Up is a warmhearted adventure everyone can enjoy. With its flying houses, colorful squawking birds, and talking dogs, you wouldn't think this film almost had a dark edge to it. Everything's all balloons and birdies until Charles Muntz almost meets a haunting end.
In the film, Muntz falls to the ocean below clutching a pair of balloons -- simple but effective. But originally, he was to have chased after Kevin into the labyrinthian crags, then be driven mad as he became lost in his never-ending search. No death, but it's still eerie. This sounds more like something out a Kubrick film than a Pixar production. The filmmakers thought this too and decided to go with the more cartoony approach.
11 COPPER'S REVENGE
The Fox and the Hound is a warm, cutesy movie about a pair of unlikely best friends who stay together despite their differences. The film has its overly-sweet moments, but it also has a few intense scenes for a fluffy animal flick. One scene, in particular, made even the artists shudder.
Originally, Chief, the old hunting dog, was hit by the train after chasing Todd onto the railroad tracks. Copper, now driven by vengeance, would pursue the fox like the fierce hunter he was. What happened to being the best of friends? This was all accurate to the book by Daniel P. Mannix, but way too dark for Disney standards. The scene was scrapped, and the two remain the pinnacle of friendship.
10 COCO: THE ALMOST MUSICAL
And now for something completely different. Pixar's Coco was an imaginative look at Dia De Los Muertos inspired by Mexican music, cuisine, and culture. Though it has some magnificent melodies, we can't really call it a musical by Disney's standards. But there was a time when that was the idea.
Originally, Coco was to have been a big bombastic musical like any other Disney flick. The film was supposed to open with a bright, colorful, Vegas-styled song-and-dance number complete with a kick-line. While an interesting concept, this idea was toned down to preserve the folk-music theme that became the focus of the film. As the saying goes, sometimes less is more.
9 PSYCHOPATHIC STITCH
The wacky aliens combined with the tropical tones of Hawaii really do set the overall mood of Disney's Lilo and Stitch. However, it almost took a dive into dark waters. In a deleted scene, Lilo takes Stitch to a tidepool where a fish named Pudge swims about. Lilo picks him up and shows him to her new friend. It's cute, until Stitch flings him onto shore where he's immediately eaten by seagulls while Stitch watches with sadistic glee.
It only gets darker from there as the duo have an emotional moment by her parents' graves and Stitch comes to grips with his actions. The scene was cut for obvious reasons -- watching it even made us uncomfortable. It certainly would have altered our love for Stitch.
8 THE INCREDIBLES COMEDIC ORIGINS
Before the superhero family went into hiding and kept their powers under wraps, The Incredibles was meant to show the domestic life of the everyday Super. Instead of being a dramatic and action-packed superhero flick, it was originally 100% a family-based comedy. Before Mr. Incredible was fighting Syndrome, he was awkwardly hiding his powers at a neighborhood barbecue.
The original idea had loads of scenes like that, from Mr. Incredible trying to explain how a kitchen knife bends at his touch to Elastigirl trying to find an invisible baby Violet. It was only until Syndrome figured out their identities it went full circle. We're not saying we wouldn't like to see these ideas, we're just happy Brad Bird went another direction.
7 SCAR'S INCINERATION
One of the most recognizable Disney villains, the sinister Scar commits dark and deadly acts in his rise to power. All seemed horrible and hopeless until Simba followed the sun back home and took his rightful place as king. You all know how the story goes, but before you break out the Elton John, hear how Scar was almost victorious.
In the first draft of the fight sequence, Simba was flung from Pride Rock onto a clearing below. Scar, blinded by his own pride, would then laugh maniacally in victory as flames slowly consume him. Simba survives, but with a hollow victory that undermines the entire sequence. This cheap scene was scrapped in favor of a triumph worthy of a king for Simba.
6 EVIL ELSA
At this point, everyone should be familiar with the merchandise machine that is Frozen. Before it was Disney's biggest cash cow, the film stuck a bit closer to the original Hans Christian Andersen story than they care to admit. The Elsa in the original drafts and sketches was not the same blonde beauty we know today. She gave new meaning to the term Ice Queen.
Elsa originally had blue skin, a Cruella De Vil-inspired coat made out of living minks, and "Let It Go" was an ironic, tongue-in-cheek villain song. The plot focused on Anna and Kristoff riding off to her castle to break her icy curse and warm her frozen heart. Believe us, it was a bit more than a fixer-upper.
5 WE'RE ALL MAD HERE
In its early development, Disney's Alice in Wonderland was originally going to be as book-accurate as possible. Walt Disney believed that Alice's adventures should be a cartoon first, as they lent themselves better to animation than live-action. Though it was more accurate to the Lewis Caroll novel, it was also a dark and twisted trip down a nightmarish rabbit hole.
With artwork inspired by the original illustrations and a story that featured an angry duchess, a questionable Lewis Caroll, and an ending sequence that featured Alice's execution, it's no wonder Disney went the opposite direction. The storyboards by David Hall can be found on Google and in his own illustrated version of the original book. It's one strange journey, no white rabbit required.
4 THE SINISTER SHEEP CONSPIRACY
Zootopia was Disney's feel-good-flick of the year when it debuted in 2016. The poignant and fun animated animal outing was bright colorful and heartwarming. It was everything a Disney film should be and more. That being said, it certainly didn't start out that way.
What began as a Bond-esque spy-thriller with anthropomorphic animals went back and forth between stories before settling on the Nighthowler case. One story involved Nick having a doomsday-ready badger friend who believed that the sheep of Zootopia were planning a violent uprising... and she was right. What started as an army of sheep rebelling against the predator population evolved into the character Bellwether and her Machievelian notion that fear always works. That's pretty out-there, but not our only stop to Zootopia.
3 A BAFFLING CONCEPT
This next entry makes us wonder who thought this would ever be okay. In one of the original concepts, the predators of Zootopia wore electrified collars that shocked them if their adrenaline levels got too high. This was supposed to prevent them from acting on primitive instincts and "going savage" on innocent prey. It was an absolutely barbaric scene that was stopped mid-production, but perhaps not early enough.
There is a scene that made it all the way to test animation of Nick being violently electrocuted during an authority ordered examination. What transpires is a scene reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange and it is positively scary. We're relieved that Disney went with the buddy-cop motif, Zootopia looks much better in a brighter light.
2 THE BLACK FRIDAY REEL
Who could ever forget Buzz and Woody? The two are practically synonymous with the Pixar company. As the first characters to star in a completely CGI feature film, they had to bring their A-game. Though they've got a friend in each other now, that wasn't how their careers began. As hard as it may be to believe, Woody was almost the villain of the flick.
In what John Lasseter refers to as "The Black Friday Reel," Woody is portrayed as a more sarcastic, mean-spirited character. Instead of accidentally knocking Buzz out the window, he literally throws him out with his bare hands. He shows no remorse and even insults the other toys. Don't believe us, go to YouTube and see for yourself. It's incredibly jarring.
1 AN R-RATED DISNEY FLICK
You read that right, a Disney film came dangerously close to receiving an R-rating. The black sheep of the Disney family, The Black Cauldron was the studio's attempt at a swords-and-sorcery epic. Though it's a cult-favorite today, it was cut so much and did so poorly it nearly killed the studio.
The scariest part is without a doubt the Horned King and his Cauldronborn Army. There was a scene in the original print where a Cauldronborn attacked a living henchman who becomes a skeleton warrior himself. This doesn't just happen, the man's skin and blood melt right off like something out of a Cronenberg film! The original was destroyed, but there are animation cells that are not for squeamish eyes. Look at your own peril.