Ah, the joys and wonders of animation. There’s something about animation that just captures my attention in a way a live-action movie couldn’t really do. Animated movies show off artists’ talents as their characters come to life through the painstaking process of drawing, re-drawing, editing, texturing and more. I think we sometimes take for granted the amount of work it takes for an animated movie to be created. It’s an incredibly extensive process that relies on the talents of many people.
For many of us, animation was a bit part of our childhood. We loved those movies that had colorful characters and scenes, and later as we grew older, we appreciated the beauty and artistic quality those movies brought as well. Whether we wanted something silly and childish or more serious and intense, there was likely some sort of animated movie that could fulfill that desire.
That being said, many animated movies, especially those intended for kids or considered family friendly, often have some darker or more disturbing moments, scenes, or situations. Oftentimes, these moments sailed over our heads as kids, or we simply weren’t paying close enough attention to catch them. These moments can raise the stakes of the movie, show a look into a character relationship we hadn’t considered, or just completely weird us out.
So here are 25 disturbing things from animated movies that you have likely missed. (Note: This article will not include Disney movies. Since there are so many Disney animated movies, they will have their own article.) Think we missed some creepy moments? Let us know!
25. Disowned Over A Dragon
I think Dreamworks surprised everybody with How to Train Your Dragon, with its beautiful animation and captivating story. Don’t get me wrong, Dreamworks is not a bad animation company, but before How to Train Your Dragon, they were a company of hits and misses. But the introduction of Hiccup and Toothless put this company on a whole new level.
That being said, the movie does have a few harsh moments. One that you may not have picked up on is during the moment when Stoick finds out that Hiccup has been harboring a Night Fury. He’s incredibly angry and is on his way to find the dragons’ nest. Hiccup begs him to not go, but Stoick tosses him aside, telling him he’s not a viking and that he’s not his son. Stoick basically disowns Hiccup at this point, refusing to acknowledge him. That’s pretty sad.
24. My Life Is A Lie!
The Lego Movie was a fantastic movie that had unique animation, entertaining characters, hilarious comedy, and a surprisingly heartwarming ending. It deals with themes of childhood versus adulthood and the importance of imagination and creativity. There was also a fascinating plot twist that people either loved or hated.
The problem that this plot twist brought is that it essentially implied that this entire world that The Lego Movie created is essentially not real. It was all the product of one child’s imagination, which makes these characters not real. (Well yes, they aren’t real, it’s a story after all, but the movie implies that they’re not real even in the movie.) It’s a very interesting way to look at imagination, but it also can cause you to question everything about this movie.
23. He’s Feeling Pretty Blue
I think Megamind was another movie that surprised everybody. I know that I was surprised by how much I liked it, and it’s a really good movie. It subverts the hero vs villain archetype, it shows that people often aren’t just born evil, and it has some great humor and dialogue. Another thing it deals with is prejudice and racism, which you may not have initially noticed.
From the minute Megamind arrives at earth, he is treated like a criminal. When he attempts to go to school, all the kids turn against him, simply for his appearance. He’s constantly bullied, teased, and ostracized because he looked different from everyone else. Granted, later people don’t like him mostly because of the bad things he’s done, but there’s still that underlying attitude of prejudice against him. He looks different from everyone, so he must be a bad guy, which is what everyone, including Megamind himself, took to heart. That’s pretty messed up.
22. Seriously, What’s Up With This Guy?
Shrek was one of the first animated movies to really subvert the fairy tale trope of the prince rescuing the princess from the monster, since it puts an ogre in the role of the rescuer. There’s also the fact that the “prince,” Lord Farquaad is not your typical nobility.
For one thing, this guy is a creepy jerk. He hates all fairy tale creatures and basically threw them out of his kingdom. He also has a rather unhealthy fixation on Princess Fiona. One especially creepy scene that stands out is when Farquaad is in his room, looking at the image of Fiona through the Magic Mirror. The guy is in his bed shirtless, possibly totally unclothed. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure he’s not just looking at her picture. Totally creepy, dude.
21. Trafficking In A Kids’ Movie?
If you remember in An American Tail, Fievel gets separated from his family and spends most of the movie trying to find them. In one scene, a rather suspicious looking “mouse” named Warren T. Rat lures Fievel to his place where he kidnaps Fievel and sells him off to a sweatshop. This mouse is actually a rat and he’s a trafficker. Fievel manages to escape the sweatshop, but this whole scenario is seriously disturbing.
Warren T. Rat basically trafficked Fievel into slavery. Who knows what Fievel’s fate would’ve been if he had stayed at the sweatshop? The fact that Fievel is a very young mouse makes this whole issue even more disturbing. This is pretty heavy stuff to be included in a children’s movie. Kidnapping, slavery, trafficking? Yeesh, that’s pretty intense!
20. Dude, That’s Pretty Awful
Do you guys remember Shark Tale, Dreamworks’ attempt to do a fish movie? It bombed pretty spectacularly in theaters, and it wasn’t very good at all. The story was rather boring and full of overused tropes, and the animation wasn’t very good either. But did you also realize that a lot of the characters were based off of racial stereotypes?
Yeah, there are a lot of stereotypes in this movie involved in character design and mannerisms. Whether or not these designs are offensive depends on the person you talk to, but most people don’t really love it when movies use stereotypes as characters. And in this case, they’re not used very well except for cheap jokes. Come on, Dreamworks, we know you can do better than that.
19. Hey Kids, Let’s Talk About This
The Brave Little Toaster was quite the acid trip of a movie. The idea of appliances traveling across the country to find their master is… odd, but perhaps a little touching. This movie is full of rather interesting if somewhat disturbing moments. One particular moment is actually in the beginning of the movie.
The air conditioner in the home where other appliances were residing snaps and essentially blows itself up. You probably didn’t catch this as a kid, but this appliance pretty much offed himself. He had decided that he had enough, didn’t feel appreciated enough, and decided to end it. That’s a pretty dark element that happens fairly early in the movie. Looks like it was starting off pretty intense.
18. She Clearly Doesn’t Really Want This
Shrek 2 was a great sequel that explored further the world of Shrek and fairytales. There are also quite a few dark and slightly creepy moments in this movie, such as the rather interesting relationship between Prince Charming and his mother, the Fairy Godmother. But one really disturbing scene stands out more for its implications than anything.
When Fiona proves to be resistant to Charming’s advances, the Fairy Godmother tells the King to slip a love potion into Fiona’s tea. The potion will activate once Charming kisses her. Granted, love potions in general are creepy, but the scenario around this one reminds me a lot of a certain kind of “date” pill. If you look at it from that perspective, this gets way creepier. They basically are trying to manipulate Fiona into being with Charming against her will. That’s totally messed up.
17. This House’s Appetite Is Rather Deadly
Monster House in general is a movie that is rather creepy. I mean the whole premise is that this house has basically turned into a monster that hungers for people. The entire movie involves three kids trying to figure out why the house is cursed and how to stop it. It does have some impressive animation and a unique darker style that you don’t see as often in animated movies. It really adds to the creep factor in this movie.
But the really creepy thing involving this movie is what we don’t see. The creepy fact is that people have likely already died from the Monster House. While, it isn’t confirmed, it’s been implied that people have been killed/eaten by this cursed house. Talk about a terrible way to go.
16. She Met A Terrible Fate
Paranorman was another one of those movies that I think surprised everyone with its rather mature insight into accepting others and being kind. It does have a lot of rather disturbing moments since the whole premise of the movie revolves around ghosts. But there is one insight that is actually very dark, even for this movie.
We find out toward the end of the movie that the source of the curse in the town is from (spoilers!) a little girl who was accused of being a witch and was put to death a few centuries ago. Here’s the disturbing thing that doesn’t get talked about in the movie. The little girl was likely tortured before she was killed. At the very least, the way they killed her likely wouldn’t have been pleasant since people accused of being witches during that time met some pretty terrible ends. That’s pretty horrifying if you think about it, especially since she couldn’t have been much older than 10.
15. How Does That Even Work?
This one is less disturbing and maybe a bit more weird, but it involves Donkey and his dragon lady friend from Shrek. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but it did not occur to me until later that Donkey and the dragon were actually getting it on. Now in the first Shrek movie, it was just implied since it was shown that the two seemed to be dating at the end of the movie. But the real proof comes in Shrek 2.
Toward the end of this sequel, Donkey’s dragon girlfriend comes to Far Far Away and brings along a few surprises, namely some dragon-donkey hybrid babies. That’s pretty much all the proof we needed that these two are dancing the dirty tango. It is a little weird in my book, mostly just because I’m not sure how the logistics of that kind of relationship would work. And I’m not sure I want to know…
14. They Weren’t The Greatest Parents
Coraline is a masterpiece of stop-animation that is also incredibly dark and frightening while still being charming and funny. Yeah, it’s confusing that way. This movie is full of disturbing animation, creepy scenarios, and a truly horrifying villain. But I recently noticed a detail that’s a little more real and a little disturbing in its own light.
The issue is that Coraline’s parents (her real parents) are actually a little neglectful at the beginning of the movie. They aren’t really neglectful physically (though Coraline thinks their cooking is pretty bad), but emotionally they don’t give Coraline much. They’re constantly ignoring her and asking her to go away while they work. It’s more evident since this is what the Other Mother preys on. She lures in kids with what they really desire. The fact that Coraline just wants parents who actually pay attention to her is a little sad.
13. He’s Done This Before
Carface is quite the villain in All Dogs Go To Heaven. He actually kills Charlie, he tries to kill Charlie again when he comes back, and he kidnaps a little girl. This guy is one piece of work. But there’s a detail that many of us have missed before that makes Carface even more nefarious.
It’s very likely that Charlie wasn’t Carface’s first victim. There’s a lot of evidence pointing to this. First, he doesn’t even flinch at the idea of killing Charlie, and does it with practiced ease. Second, he’s got a lot of deadly weaponry, and he has a piranha pit. How many unlucky dogs do you think met their untimely death there? This guy is just too familiar with death and killing that there’s no way he hasn’t killed before, and he’s likely killed a lot. It’s a detail that seems obvious when you notice it, but you don’t really think about it.
12. This Secret Is Darker Than You Think
The Secret of NIMH was a beautifully animated movie that combined science, magic, and even a bit of philosophy. But all in all, it was about a mother mouse who was trying to save her children. This movie has quite a bit of dark material in it, portraying things that we wouldn’t normally see as scary to be downright terrifying from the perspective of a mouse.
There’s one really disturbing element that kind of gets glossed over a bit in the movie, but is still pretty horrifying. That is the nature of NIMH. This institution was essentially experimenting on animals, putting them through painful procedures and injecting them with dangerous drugs. Animal experimentation can be a pretty horrifying subject, so for a child’s movie to have this element in there is pretty disturbing.
11. She’s Definitely Not Mom Of The Year
Despicable Me was movie that brought us a rather human villain. Gru is quite the interesting supervillain and he becomes all the more intriguing when he finds himself caring for three little girls. This movie shows that even a supervillain isn’t always a bad guy.
But an element of this movie gets a little disturbing when we look at some of Gru’s childhood, especially his mother. Gru’s mother was pretty emotionally abusive and neglectful to Gru as a child. She constantly berated him, put down any accomplishment he did, and she still does that to him. You can tell it affects him, and it’s likely one of the reasons why he became a supervillain in the first place. I know it’s all done for comedic effect, but it’s kind of sad when you think about it.
10. This Troll Might Not Be As Good As You Think
If you don’t remember A Troll in Central Park, you’re not really missing much. It’s a rather odd story about a troll named Stanley who gets banished from his world to Central Park in New York City. But unlike other trolls, Stanley loves plants and flowers. The movie follows his adventures with two little kids. It’s incredibly cheesy and doesn’t offer much in plot, but it’s harmless.
But there is one detail that’s a little disturbing. Toward the end of the movie, the kids go to Central Park with their parents and see that Stanley is alive and well. The ending of the movie shows that his plants are slowly taking over the rest of New York. I don’t know about you, but that seems a little nefarious. Was Stanley actually plotting to take over New York and eventually the world with his plants? That would make the movie more interesting.
9. These Guys Are All Doomed
The Land Before Time was a beautiful movie that explored the dangerous adventures of five young dinosaurs as they struggled to be reunited with their families. The movie is cute, tragic, and pretty intense in some scenes. It was a classic that many of us have grown up with.
That being said, there’s a much darker element to this movie that we likely didn’t pick up on as kids. It comes with the setting of the movie. The problem is that the events of this movie tentatively take place in the Late Jurassic period, which means that they are close to the time that dinosaurs began dying out. So essentially Littlefoot and his friends are very likely doomed in later years, or at least their children were. Sorry, guys.
8. She’s In Constant Labor
Antz was a rather interesting movie that tackled heavy elements like war and political corruption, all from the perspective of ants that are simply trying to survive. The movie was done rather well with sympathetic characters, interesting villains, and an intriguing story. There are several dark elements in this movie, but there’s one slightly disturbing element that we tend to look over.
We see the queen ant early in the movie as she is talking with the general. What we probably didn’t catch is that she was likely giving birth at the time. Queen ants are generally constantly giving birth in order to grow and replenish the ant population. So, this character is in a constant state of giving birth. While not necessarily creepy, it’s just odd enough to make you pause and think.
7. This Old Man Didn’t Stand A Chance
Kubo and the Two Strings is one of the most impressive feats of stop-motion animation, with gorgeous visuals, creepy villains, and amazing action sequences. While the characters and some of the plot left something to be desired, the movie overall was fascinating and fairly enjoyable to watch. But there’s a plot element toward the end that never quite sat right with me.
The climax of the movie involves Kubo going up against his own grandfather who is incredibly powerful. The fight ends with the grandfather having lost his memory. Kubo then tells him that he is a good man that likes to help people. The villagers then chime in, giving this man a list of things they could do for them. Pretty much this man is left for the villagers to take advantage of. Considering some of the evil things he had done before, this does seem like a good penance, but it still didn’t feel right.
6. How Did They Get Away With That?
The Brave Little Toaster is full of all sorts of dark and rather adult themes, despite that it’s clearly marketed toward kids. There are some rather frightening scenes involving various appliances being destroyed in rather graphic manner, and let’s not even talk about the toaster’s terrifying dream sequence (that clown still haunts my nightmares).
But there are some rather adult elements that kids likely didn’t pick up on while watching the movie. There are some appliances that have rather… interesting designs, and let’s not forget the computer that was a little too into printing (seriously, who came up with that?). I’m not entirely sure how half of these jokes and designs made it into script, but it does make it for a rather interesting movie.
5. Exploration And… Murder?
If you haven’t seen A Long Way North, you’re likely not alone. It’s a more obscure movie, created by the same people who did The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea, and it’s a rather beautiful, if simple movie about Sacha, a teenage girl who sets off with a crew to go to the North Pole to find a missing ship.
The movie isn’t particularly dark, mostly dealing with the crew as it works to survive the harshness of the northern seas and ice. But things decidedly get much more desperate when the crew’s ship is destroyed by ice. Their only hope is to find the missing ship, but as they continue to fail, the crew gets more afraid. At one point, one of the crew members wonders why Sacha should get food since this is her fault. It gets a big dark, since this crewmember is implying that she should be killed. It’s a pretty intense moment.
4. This Problem Is More Real Than You Know
The Lorax, a movie adaptation of the popular Dr. Suess book is one with a rather poignant message about environmentalism and how it’s important to take care of the world. It’s a movie that’s done rather well with a great lesson that both kids and adults can process rather well.
What’s disturbing about this movie is more of the very real threat that it talks about. Deforestation is a big problem, especially for rainforests that are homes to countless species of animals and plants. And yet, thousands of acres are lost at rapid rates. The Lorax takes a rather difficult situation and shows why we should be fighting for it by showing what could happen if deforestation isn’t stopped. It’s a rather grim look at the future and it’s a look into our future if we don’t do something.
3. He Wanted To End It All
The Little Prince was a beautifully animated movie that combined the philosophies of the book by the same title, and telling a charming story of a little girl who has learned to enjoy the wonders of childhood. This movie gives you a lot to think about, dealing with friendship, death, fear, and wonder. But there is one particularly dark moment that gets glossed over a bit.
At one point, the little prince, whom the pilot has talked to throughout the movie, is talking about the idea of returning to his planet, but he basically says that the only way to do that is through death. If you think about it, the prince was actually considering doing it to himself. It’s a subtle hint to it that you might miss if you’re not paying attention, but it’s there.
2. The Path To Insanity Is Not Pleasant
The Boxtrolls is another great example of stop-motion animation, although the designs of the characters in this movie are a bit more grotesque. This entire movie is a rather wild ride, filled with strange creatures, a rather evil man, and a boy who eventually finds his family. But there’s one element that’s particularly disturbing.
Eggs, the main character was separated from his family as a baby, thought to be stolen by the box trolls. But it turns out instead that his father was captured by Archibald the exterminator and subsequently tortured for information. This tortured continued until the father went insane. This poor man was tortured to the point of insanity. That’s completely messed up, and you might not realize it when you first watch the movie.
1. Those Shoes Must Stink
Based on the popular book, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was an entertaining movie filled with a mixture of strange, charming, and funny elements. The characters were quite likable, and the unique elements of the movie kept you intrigued. But there is one element that gets a little disturbing if you think about it.
In the beginning of the movie, a young Flint Lockwood shows off his invention of spray-on shoes, spraying his own feet. However, he finds that he cannot take these shoes off. This element is brought up again years later when he’s an adult. So, if I’m correct, Flint has been wearing the same pair of shoes for years, over a decade even. His feet haven’t seen the light of day since he was a kid. Am I the only one who finds that a bit gross and kind of terrible? That can’t be healthy for his feet.