If there’s one thing that can be said about a Disney movie, it’s that the creative teams on them know how to kill a villain. If you don’t know what we mean by that, just think about it for a moment. Every baddie in a Disney movie that meets their demise does so in what can usually be called grotesquely horrible. In fact, some of the more notable Disney deaths over the years are so horrific, we aren’t even going to put up still images of their demises. Disney animated films have been around since as far back as 1938 with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs so there have been lots of villain deaths over the years.
This has long been a subject of discussion since the Internet first arrived, so we thought it would be fun to weigh in on our favorite Disney deaths. We combed through each and every major villain demise so that we could come up with a comprehensive accounting of the worst of the worst. Of the more than 60 films Disney and Pixar have released over the decades, we found the 15 we thought were the most disturbing and have knocked out this list of The 15 Most Brutal Disney Villain Deaths, Ranked!
They say that “No on’e s quick like Gaston” and nobody fights like him, but it turns out no one dies like Gaston either. There are many villain deaths resulting from a fall of some kind, but Gaston’s was particularly brutal in comparison. At the climax of Disney’s Beauty & The Beast, Gaston reveals his true nature and strikes at the Beast from behind, only to slip and fall from a high ledge.
In a normal castle, Gaston might have even survived his fall with a few broken bones, but along came a vast ravine, which inexplicably seemed absent prior to his swan dive off the balcony. Not only did Gaston drop from the building, he fell into a ravine that appeared to rival even the Grand Canyon. Ouch.
14. WILLIAM CECIL CLAYTON
Clayton is one of those Disney villains you just knew was going to get it in the end. While it seemed likely he might be torn apart by a jungle cat or even killed by an angry Tarzan himself, in the end, he was the instrument of his own demise. Following Clayton and his men’s poaching initiative’s failure, the fight between the two heads aloft into the treetops where Tarzan is truly king of the jungle.
After Tarzan successfully smashes his beloved rifle into pieces and jumps back into a grouping of vines, Clayton draws his machete for some personal in-your-face brutality. Tarzan is able to ensnare Clayton in some vines and in his rage to free himself using his machete, he cuts himself loose and falls, but not to the ground. Instead, he tangles his throat and falls short of the ground snapping his neck in the process.
13. THE EVIL QUEEN
This lady was so evil, she didn’t even get a name and is only known as “The Evil Queen.” Following her plot to assassinate her step-daughter, she takes matters into her own hands and provides the young princess with a poisoned apple. This plan falls through thanks to the intervention of one Prince Charming and his “true love’s kiss.”
The one thing she failed to take into account in her planning were the Seven Dwarfs mentioned in the title of the film. Upset at the witch’s attempts on their friend’s life, the Dwarfs chase her from the forest and corner her onto a cliff with a large boulder. Just as she is about to use the boulder to kill the Dwarfs, a bolt of lightning startles her and she falls from the cliff, only to have the bolder roll off and crush what we assume was her lifeless body.
12. KING CANDY
The tale of King Candy is a sad one. He was once a character called Turbo who went insane when his game was disconnected and he had to seek refuge in another game world. After arriving in Sugar Rush, he manipulated the game’s code and re-wrote the world to make himself king. With his sanity well behind him, KC goes on to become a tyrannical ruler who keeps Princess Vanellope from her true roll as leader.
Ralph finds himself in Sugar Rush only to learn of KC/Turbo’s true machinations, so he works to return the world to normal. KC eventually morphs with a Cy-Bug, which transforms him into an amalgam of the creature and himself, which proves to be his undoing. After successfully detonating a beacon, the other Cy-Bugs fly into it, followed finally by KC who zones out as he flies into a beam of light and is incinerated.
She may appear to be a witch, but Maleficent is an evil fairy who takes particular umbrage at being left off the invite list for the christening of the newly-born Princess Aurora. The Three Good Fairies of the land received their invitations and they come to bestow gifts upon the young Princess, but Maleficent instead curses the child. Understandably, this causes a few people to become upset and the King takes appropriate measures to protect his daughter.
After the curse comes to fruition, Maleficent and the Prince get into a bit of a fight. She nearly kills him but with the help of the Good Fairies, he escapes. She then confronts him and transforms into a gigantic dragon. Without wetting himself like most anyone might, Philip charges at the dragon and thrusts the Sword of Truth into the beast’s heart. Maleficent tumbles back and falls from the cliff.
10. BILL SYKES
Bill Sykes is the principal villain from Disney’s Oliver & Company and there’s no mistaking him for a bad guy the second he graces the screen. He is represented as a businessman, but he is more of a mobster and a murderer who uses two Dobermans names Roscoe and DeSoto to take care of his more nefarious business.
By the end of the film, Sykes is in an all-out battle to the death with Oliver and the gang with his trusty Dobermans at his side. His dogs fall onto some train tracks and are electrocuted, but he doesn’t notice this. Sykes is too busy dealing with Jenny and Oliver to pay attention to his surroundings. After throwing his aggressors off, he turns just in time to see the giant train barreling down on him. His car explodes with him in it and he is thrown into the Hudson River.
Ursula is the queen of the Faustian deal thanks to her trickery in manipulating Princess Ariel into giving up her voice for a couple of legs. The sea witch was the principal antagonist of Disney’s The Little Mermaid and while she appeared interested in messing with Ariel, her true intentions were to leverage her manipulation over the girl to acquire the powers of King Triton so that she could rule Atlantica and all the ocean.
Unfortunately for Ursula, her plan goes awry when Ariel does get the Prince to fall in love with her. He decides to take the fight to the sea after Ursula acquires her power and becomes a gigantic version of herself capable of manipulating the weather and the seas. This doesn’t save her when Prince Eric rams the bow of his ship into her gut, killing her in an epically brutal fashion.
8. SHAN YU
In Disney’s Mulan, Shan Yu is a pretty terrible guy. Not only does he invade China by crossing the Great Wall, he obliterates villages along the way. While they don’t show it, it is more than implied that he slaughtered entire villages of children and anyone unlucky enough to cross his path. Thanks to Mulan and her unit, he is buried in an avalanche of snow… or so it seems.
Unfortunately for Mulan, you just aren’t going to be able to kill off the main villain in the second act, so after arriving in the capitol to meet with the Emperor, Shun Yu reappears. He attacks, but she is able to guide him into a tower where she fires a large firework missile at him. It strikes him in the chest and fires him across to another tower filled with fireworks. The entire tower explodes, taking Shan Yu with it.
Syndrome started out as a brilliant young mane named Buddy Pine who wanted nothing more than to become the sidekick to Mr. Incredible. Adopting the name “Incrediboy,” Buddy followed his hero around town and attempted to assist him. He ended up getting in the way and causing problems. After receiving a verbal whooping from his hero, he decides to become a supervillain because… reasons.
As The Incredibles eventually reveals, Buddy grew up to become the criminal mastermind Syndrome, who came with a villainous lair built into a volcanic island. He threatens his former hero’s family and eventually kidnaps their infant son. When the little boy manifests his powers, Syndrome has to release him and flies too close to a jet engine. His cape gets sucked in and he quickly follows. Fortunately, they don’t show the gruesome death in all its morbid glory.
Disney’s The Lion King tells the tale of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with adorable animals, but that doesn’t make the main villain any less nefarious. Scar is the younger brother to King Mufasa, so he has some issues with his inability to become King. To fix this slight error in the rules of succession, he orchestrates the murder of his brother and even pins it on his nephew Simba, who flees the kingdom in shame.
To accomplish his goals, Scar allies himself with a pack of hyenas who prove to be his downfall. By the end of the film, Simba has returned to assert his royal rights and battles his uncle. Eventually, Scar loses and the hyenas don’t take too kindly to the way he tried to throw them under the bus. Their response is to gather around the lion and eat him alive.
5. LYLE TIBERIUS ROURKE
In the Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Lyle Tiberius Rourke is the main villain. Initially, he appears to be the nicest guy on the planet and he even worked with Milo’s grandfather on an expedition to Iceland. It turns out that his only true goal is to steal whatever he can from the people of Atlantis with his main mission to retrieve their power source. This doesn’t sit well with the people living there and his true nature is revealed.
While attempting to leave in a zeppelin, Helga fires a flare causing the airship to begin to plummet. Rourke takes his frustrations out on Milo with an axe, but before he can strike him, Milo cuts him with a crystal shard and Rourke transforms into a being of living crystal… which looks rather painful. He is then thrust into the ship’s propellers and is torn apart.
4. MOTHER GOTHEL
Mother Gothel is an example of what happens when we let our ideal image of beauty and youth get the better of us. An evil witch who is so obsessed with staying young, she kidnaps Rapunzel and traps her in a tower deep in the forest under the guise of offering her protection. In this way, she becomes a mother-figure to the trapped girl, but is only interested in harvesting her 70+ feet of golden hair to maintain her magical youth.
Eventually, Rapunzel is freed by Flynn Rider and she learns the true nature of her imprisonment. After returning to the tower, Gothel threatens to kill Flynn if Rapunzel doesn’t return to a state of slavery. She agrees, but Flynn slices off her hair, which causes Gothel to age rapidly. In her horror, she stumbles out of the tower window and turns to dust before hitting the ground.
Pixar’s second animated feature, A Bug’s Life, tells the story of The Seven Samurai but from the perspective of a bunch of insects. The main protagonist is Hopper, a menacing grasshopper who forces the community of ants to deliver food to him and his gang. He does this via threats and intimidation, but one adventurous ant finds a group of “warriors” to aid him and his people in fighting against Hopper.
They band together and fight against Hopper and his gang of grasshoppers. Using various forms of trickery and technology, they are able to overcome their would-be bully, but Hopper nearly wins the fight and just when things are looking their bleakest, along comes a bird. Hopper is quickly picked up and taken to a nest where he is fed (still alive) to three adorable chicks.
2. JUDGE CLAUDE FROLLO
Judge Claude Frollo is the principal antagonist of Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. While he is a deeply religious man, Frollo has some serious issues with outsiders and what he perceives to be right and wrong. He nearly kills Quasimodo as a child, but begrudgingly raises him as his own son in the cathedral so that he can be hidden from the world. He does this out of shame and under the direction of the Archdeacon.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and Quasimodo is told by an angered Frollo that it was he who killed his mother. Frollo attempts to kill Quasimodo and then Esmerelda, but ends up hanging from a gargoyle. The statue breaks and roars at Frollo as he falls from the cathedral into a lake of molten copper, which results in a rather large explosion.
1. OOGIE BOOGIE
In Disney’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, it seems like Jack Skellington is something of a villain, given what he does to Santa Clause, but by the third act, we find that the true evil in Halloween Town resides in Oogie Boogie. Boogie is a sadistic and grotesque boogie man whose skin is made of burlap that houses thousands of nasty insects, worms and spiders. Boogie is a gambler and a cheat who has no problem playing with the lives of others.
After getting his hands on Santa, Oogie tortures him sadistically before Jack can come to his rescue. As the two battle, one of Boogie’s threads gets entangled and begins to loosen. Jack sees this and grabs the thread, which causes Boogie’s “skin” to unravel. The resulting imagery is haunting as thousands of creepy crawlies fall apart and into a molten pit killing Oogie Boogie in the nastiest way possible.
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