20 Inappropriate Moments In Disney Films You Only Noticed As An Adult
With princesses, monsters and cute animated creatures galore, Disney films rarely fall short of the mark as family movies made purely for general viewing – still, that’s rarely, but not always.
If you’ve ever revisited some of your old Disney favourites as an adult, you may just have noticed some entirely inappropriate moments that went entirely over your head as a young viewer.
Next time you make the decision to sit down and watch an old Disney flick, take the opportunity to reevaluate your initial perceptions and revel in the revelations you will find in the classics, including (but not necessarily limited to) the following moments that children tend not to notice…
20. A man attempts suicide in The Incredibles
2004’s The Incredibles was a watershed movie for Disney’s all-CGI offshoot Pixar, partly as it was their first film from a writer-director who did not originate with the company: Brad Bird (who previously made The Iron Giant).
The Incredibles also broke new ground for Pixar as – in the US at least – it was their first film to be given a PG rating due to its level of violence.
Pixar films were already known for striking a slightly more adult tone than traditional Disney fare, but early on The Incredibles goes quite a bit farther, even if younger viewers might not pick up on it.
The prologue sequence shows Mr Incredible on a normal evening, with one daring rescue after another – including catching a man who was plummeting from a skyscraper.
As is clear to the adults thanks to the spectator’s cries of “he’s going to jump!” this man isn’t falling by accident – he’s trying to kill himself.
19. Hercules cracks a joke about Oedipus
1997’s Hercules was considered a bit of a flop on release, but over the years its reputation has grown significantly.
A big part of the film’s enduring popularity is its highly tongue-in-cheek approach to the classical myths on which it is based.
While the movie uses the character’s more popular Roman moniker, Hercules draws primarily on Greek mythology (in which he’s called Heracles) – and along the way it squeezes in a reference to one of the more notorious figures in that pantheon.
At one point in the movie, Hercules drolly remarks, “that Oedipus thing – man! I thought I had problems!” Doubtless many parents were hoping their kids wouldn’t ask for an explanation there.
In case you need reminding, Oedipus was the tragic figure who killed his own father and married his mother, and centuries later had a psychological complex named after him by Sigmund Freud.
18. Buzz’s physical reaction to Jessie in Toy Story 2
The Toy Story movies are renowned for piling on jokes that only the grown-ups will get, and every so often said jokes are a tad bit inappropriate for younger viewers.
This is certainly the case at the end of Toy Story 2, when the toys welcome the latest arrival in Andy’s bedroom: the rootin’-tootin’ cowgirl Jessie.
As kids, we might not have quite picked up on Buzz Lightyear seeming to take a bit more than a friendly interest in his brand new playmate.
After awkwardly attempting to express his admiration for Jessie, Buzz stands there stunned as Jessie runs to the rescue of Andy’s dog Buster, pulling off an acrobatic move worthy of the intergalactic hero himself.
And how do we know Jessie makes an impression on Buzz? His wings instantly pop out, standing to attention (ahem). We should think the connotation there is pretty clear for older viewers.
17. Kronk literally pitches a tent in The Emperor’s New Groove
Not unlike Hercules, 2000’s The Emperor’s New Groove is another movie that was considered part of Disney Animation’s decline on release, but has since developed a following.
Originally conceived as a more earnest take on Inca legends and entitled Kingdom of the Sun, the project was ultimately reworked into something far goofier.
In the midst of all the heavy-handed slapstick humour, The Emperor’s New Groove throws in a rude visual pun that (hopefully) the kids will have missed.
One scene sees the musclebound dimwit Kronk lying asleep under the stars – with a small tent over his crotch.
That’s right: this family-friendly animated comedy shows one of the main characters quite literally pitching a tent.
16. Miss Piggy sure seems to get around in Muppet Treasure Island
Jim Henson’s beloved creations The Muppets have been part of the Disney stable for a great many years now.
Like Pixar, Muppets tales are also famed for being ostensibly family-friendly, while still squeezing in more than their share of jokes specifically for the grown-ups.
1996’s Muppet Treasure Island pushes the boat out a bit further in that regard, making us see Miss Piggy in a rather different light.
A discussion between Kermit’s Captain Smollett and Piggy’s Benjamina Gunn brings to light that she is – ahem – somewhat well-acquainted with Captain Flint.
Then, on meeting Tim Curry’s Long John Silver, Piggy/Benjamina exclaims, “Hello, Long John” – at which Kermit/Smollett gasps, “oh no, him too?!”
15. Echoes of Breaking Bad in Zootopia (AKA Zootropolis)
2016’s Zootopia (renamed Zootropolis in several territories for copyright reasons) is essentially a buddy cop movie with a cast of animals.
Of course, Hollywood cop thrillers tend to deal with less-than family-friendly subjects: murder, robbery, drugs etc.
Zootopia ventures into similar territory whilst remaining okay for kids to watch – and in the process, there’s a big nod to one of the most popular small-screen crime stories of the past decade.
Note the scene in which we see a ram clad in a yellow lab suit, cooking up something with a very distinct blue colour.
Hopefully the kids won’t think anything of it, but the grown-ups are likely to recognise it as alluding to the meth labs of TV’s Breaking Bad.
14. The harem in Aladdin
Disney’s original animated Aladdin has been a firmly-held family favourite since its release in 1992.
Of course, as we’ve established based on its direct-to-video sequel, part of the film’s charm is its slightly naughty sense of humour, and – dare we say it, considering it’s a cartoon for kids – its sex appeal.
Both Aladdin and Jasmine have long been noted for their allure, and the film doesn’t shy away from sexual insinuations throughout (not least when the enslaved Jasmine pretends to be seduced by Jafar).
Perhaps the most eye-openingly sexual moment in Aladdin comes while our hero sings One Jump Ahead, and his escape from the Agrabah guards lands him in a room filled with scantily-clad women in veils, who immediately surround him.
Just a bunch of ladies, as far as the kids are concerned – but as the adults will realise, Aladdin has stumbled into a harem; or, in other words, a whorehouse.
13. All that substance abuse in Alice in Wonderland
The connection between Alice in Wonderland and recreational drug use has long since been widely accepted.
It’s there in Lewis Carroll’s original stories, and it’s every bit as clear in Disney’s well-loved 1951 animated adaptation.
In fact, it may surprise you that on its original release Disney’s Alice in Wonderland wasn’t that big a hit – but it really found its audience on re-release in the late 60s, when hippy culture was in full swing.
What children see as a magical adventure, adults might as easily interpret as one long psychedelic trip, with the various items marked ‘drink me’ and ‘eat me’ having a role to play.
On screen, though, the druggy aspect of Alice in Wonderland is never more blatant than when we see the caterpillar smoking whatever it is that’s in its hookah.
12. (Non-homophobic) gay joke in Inside Out
2015 saw Disney/Pixar once again do their utmost to both delight the young and old alike, and leave us all in fits of hysterical tears with the often unbearably emotional Inside Out.
Still, as heartbreaking as Inside Out gets at times (please, nobody mention Bing Bong, we just won’t be able to hold it together…), it still packs in plenty of big laughs.
And, once again, many of those laughs are liable to go over the heads of young ‘uns – notable a sneaky reference to San Francisco’s gay scene.
An exchange between the little people in Riley’s head sees the emotions argue over whether or not there are any bears in the city – at which Anger remarks, “I saw a guy with a hairy back, does that count?”
As it’s feasible that some adults might not even have got that one, ‘bear’ is a term that refers to large, hairy gay men, and it’s a subculture known to thrive in the LGBT-friendly San Francisco.
11. Mr Potato Head alludes to oral sex in Toy Story 3
We return to the Toy Story series once again: after all, with four films to its name, the franchise had to have snuck in at least a few more blatantly adult references.
Toy Story 3 features possibly the single dirtiest joke of the whole series, but as ever it’s done in such a way that the kids hopefully won’t get it.
The scene in question involves Mr and Mrs Potato Head, whose main distinguishing feature is the fact that their eyes, ears and other appendages are all removable.
Mrs Potato Head is left temporarily faceless by the villainous bear Lotso, who holds her lips aloft – prompting Mr Potato Head to angrily declare, “no one takes my wife’s mouth except me!”
If you’re aware of a more blatant oral sex joke in a film rated suitable for all ages, please let us know.
10. There’s a drug reference in The Santa Clause
The Santa Clause is one of the best Christmas movies of all time, and oh-so-relatable to all children of divorced parents.
Charlie Calvin is devastated when his dad Scott accidentally injures Santa by causing him to fall off the roof of a house, but luckily Scott steps up and agrees to dress up as Santa to finish his rounds.
What might seem like an innocent tale of Christmas wonder actually has some references that you probably missed as a child. When Scott grabs Santa’s bag, it turns into a balloon, causing him to fly over a chimney.
“You’re flying!”, Charlie explains, to which his dad replies “it’s okay, I’m used to it. I lived through the 60s.”
Whilst this reference would presumably fly right over the heads of any children in the room, it provides a moment of comic relief for all the grown-up viewers, who know full well that Scott is referring to a period of narcotic experimentation in his youth.
9. There’s a reference to Hitler in The Lion King
Now, The Lion King isn’t exactly a film where you would expect to find a reference to a certain German dictator.
However, this is exactly what we have in the sequence when the villainous Scar (voiced by Jeremy Irons) sings Be Prepared.
In announcing his plot to overthrow his brother Mufasa, Scar addresses the hyenas from high on a rock – whilst the hyenas themselves goose-step in formation below
To adult eyes, the scene is reminiscent of a Nazi rally – and animators who worked on The Lion King have since confirmed this was no accident.
The sequence was directly modelled on The Triumph of the Will, a Nazi propaganda film made in 1935.
8. Anna makes a ‘foot size’ joke in Frozen
Frozen is one of the most popular Disney movies of the 21st century, putting a modern spin on a princess-filled fairytale.
But despite its joyous nature and tendency to burst into song at the most inopportune moments, the film does have a more risque side.
First off, there can’t be a single person – young or old – who hasn’t giggled at the song The First Time in Forever, when Kristen Bell’s Anna sings, “why have a ballroom with no balls?”
In another scene, Kristoff asks Anna what she actually knows about Hans and she reveals that she doesn’t even know his last name.
To test her knowledge, Kristoff asks Anna what shoe size Hans wears, to which she cheekily replies “foot size doesn’t matter”.
7. The Genie makes a honeymoon joke in Aladdin and the King of Thieves
This one might not be too surprising to all the Aladdin fans out there, considering the Genie is prone to the odd inappropriate comment.
However, the big blue guy took this to a whole new world (see what we did there?) in the third instalment of the Aladdin film series.
1996’s Aladdin and the King of Thieves was released straight to home video, so if you thought you might have missed this one on the big screen, that’s why.
Even so, the film did bring back all the key voice actors from the 1992 original – including Robin Williams, who was replaced by Dan Castellaneta as the Genie in 1994’s first sequel, The Return of Jafar.
During the film there’s an earthquake, at which the Genie quips, “I thought the earth wasn’t supposed to move until the honeymoon.” (Aladdin and Jasmine get married in this one, in case you hadn’t guessed.)
6. Linguini makes a double entendre in Ratatouille
Ratatouille is one of the most beloved Disney films. It’s fun, cheeky and even a little poignant.
However, there are once again a few moments which may just make you raise an eyebrow.
Ratatouille’s bawdiest gag comes in the scene where Linguini tries to confess to Colette that Remy is actually doing all the cooking.
Struggling to explain it’s all being done by the rat hiding under his hat, Linguine stammers, “I have this tiny little, little…”
Colette then looks down at Linguine’s crotch area, perhaps implying something that would be far too improper to mention in this article.
5. Cruella makes a bestiality joke in 101 Dalmatians
Being incredibly unlikable is kind of Cruella de Vil’s whole thing. But she took her “mean girl” persona to a whole new level with one risque, and frankly quite bizarre joke.
In the live-action remake of 101 Dalmatians, there is a scene where Roger reveals to Cruella that Anita is expecting a child.
Cruella scathingly replies “Well, what can I say? Accidents will happen,” to which Roger responds “we’re having puppies, too!”
Cruella takes this opportunity to make the joke of the century, saying “Puppies! Well, haven’t you been a busy boy.”
Again, the kids probably didn’t bat an eyelid, but parents were definitely spitting popcorn at this barely concealed bestiality joke.
4. The bus driver makes an inappropriate come-on in Hocus Pocus
1993’s Hocus Pocus may have flopped on release, but over the years it’s grown such an adoring following that Disney have finally green-lit a sequel.
The witches in the film get up to plenty of mischief, but none more so that in the scene where they run into the bus driver.
The driver, who immediately comes off as the leering wolf-whistler type, asks the witches what they desire, to which they reply, “children.”
The bus driver then looks the sisters over and says “Hey, it may take me a couple of tries but I don’t think that’d be a problem.”
Hey, where does it say you can’t have a nice family-friendly comedy adventure without an outrageous insemination joke?
3. Many of the Disney princesses and princes have large age gaps
Watching Disney princess movies as a child, you were probably so caught up in the romance of it all that you failed to notice the rather sizeable age gaps between some of the Prince-and-Princess couples.
For example, the original Disney Princess, Snow White, is a mere 14 years old, whilst Ferdinand (who, lest we forget, wakes her with unsolicited affection) is 18, making him a fully-fledged adult.
Whilst a four year age gap in itself is not necessarily problematic, the fact that Snow White is underage and quite literally a child must surely give us pause for thought.
Similarly, many of the other Disney princesses, such as Aurora and Ariel, are aged just 16.
Whilst their partners are just a few years older, the fact that the princesses are only just legal seems somewhat of an issue in the modern age.
2. Clayton accidentally hangs himself in Tarzan
1999’s Tarzan was one of Disney’s last real hits made in their traditional cel animation style.
It’s also by far one of their scariest films, with many of the jungle’s inhabitants – gorillas, monkeys, the dreaded jaguar – presented as very fearsome indeed.
However, surely the most terrifying moment in Tarzan comes in the final showdown with the villainous Clayton, who, despite Tarzan’s efforts to help him, starts hacking away at random vines in a bid to escape.
With vines tangled around his neck, Clayton falls – and as lightning strikes overhead we can briefly see his shadow swinging from the vines in the trees.
To older viewers, it’s clear that Clayton inadvertently hung himself – a grim fate indeed for a character in a kid-friendly cartoon.
1. There’s some saucy catcalling in A Bug’s Life
Near the beginning of A Bug’s Life, there’s a scene where two fleas are seen catcalling circus worker and male ladybug Francis.
Whilst catcalling is inappropriate in any circumstance, these guys take it to a whole new level.
One of the fleas yells “Hey cutie! Want to pollinate with a real bug?”,- much to his pal’s amusement.
For the benefit of anyone who didn’t make it to biology class, pollination is how most plants reproduce.
This being the case, we’re sure you can make an educated guess as to what the flea was inferring.