20 Disney Movie Stories With Depressing Original Endings

When you’re looking for the perfect kind of movie to fill a child with joy, where else can you turn but into the incredibly popular arms of Disney? However, just because the classic films all have glorious endings doesn’t mean the source material was all sunshine and roses – quite the contrary, in fact. The stories and fairy tales that Disney bases its beloved animated movies were never originally intended to bring smiles, but rather teach lessons — often in the most brutal ways.

The Fox Aand The Hound

This lesser known Disney flick is about Todd, a fox, and Copper, a hound – two childhood best friends who maintain their platonic love despite growing to learn they are natural enemies. In the Daniel P. Mannix novel the film was based on, Copper’s owner, called simply “the Hunter,” forces him to hunt Todd until Todd collapses and dies. When the Hunter gets so old he must live in a nursing home, he puts Copper down with a shotgun.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The adorable deformed bell ringer Quasimodo finds happiness when he helps the handsome Captain Phoebus rescue the gorgeous gypsy Esmerelda in the Disney version of the Victor Hugo novel. In the original story, however, when Quasimodo realizes Esmerelda does not love him back, he turns her in and she is hung. But he feels so guilty about her death that he clings to her corpse until he dies of starvation.

The Jungle Book

The short story by famous author Rudyard Kipling tells the tale of the boy Mowgli and his childhood being raised in the jungle animals. While everything ends happily in the movie, the novel is quite sad: for instance, when Mowgli tries to return to human society he is rejected by them outright. Eventually, he, Bagheera the panther, and Hathi the elephant return to the village and destroy it.


Probably the most anti-climactic film on this list, Disney’s Hercules is about the son of Zeus who finds his way back to Mount Olympus through the power of love. In the Greek myth, Hercules is Zeus’s bastard with a human woman. Zeus’s wife Hera hates him so much that she drives Hercules insane to the point that he kills his whole family, children and all.