Top 10 Darkest and Scariest Disney Moments

Script written by Sean Harris. Kids’ films they may be, but Disney can certainly shock. For this list, we’ve compiled what we felt are the scariest samples of Disney darkness. They have to be animated moments – so no live action, and they must be pure Disney – so no Pixar! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 darkest and scariest Disney moments. Special thanks to our users Jamie Dunlop, DiscordsDestiny and Andrew A. Dennison for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Sean Harris.

Kids’ films they may be, but Disney can certainly shock. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 darkest and scariest Disney moments.

For this list, we’ve compiled what we felt are the scariest samples of Disney darkness. They have to be animated moments – so no live action, and they must be pure Disney – so no Pixar!

#10: Ichabod Crane’s Encounter with the Headless Horseman
“The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” (1949)

Narrated by Bing Crosby, there’s an ‘around-the-campfire’ feeling to this particular tale known as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” As Ichabod and his trusty, tired steed saunter through the forest, it’s clear there’s danger ahead. The sounds of the night have us all sweating, and when the Headless Horseman arrives, everyone’s heart rate hits overdrive! Then there’s also red fire and orange pumpkins, which make us white as a sheet. And finally, Ichabod’s unconfirmed death has us abandoning all hope!

#9: The Ghost of Christmas Future and the Flaming Grave
“Mickey’s Christmas Carol” (1983)

In this Disney-fied Dickens classic, it’s Christmas time and Scrooge won’t share – in fact, he’s the most tight-fisted son of a duck out there! But as he glimpses the future, he sees his own funeral: no one is there and his grave stands open. When the angel-come-devil pushes him inside, hellish flames tickle his tail-feathers and our screens are awash with a dangerous red. A nightmarish message for kids and grown-ups!

#8: Judge Claude Frollo Bursts into “Hellfire”
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)
While most people would pull petals off of daisies, humming ‘she loves me, she loves me not’, Claude Frollo goes crazy and gives us this spine-chilling serenade. As he marches through the church holding (and sniffing) Esmeralda’s shawl, it’s gothic and oh-so-ghostly. With a blazing fire and a choir of hooded, faceless monks, Frollo’s infatuation is one we’re sure glad we’re not the source of!

#7: The Devilish Chernabog Summons Evil Spirits
“Fantasia” (1940)

The archetype for what a nightmare might look like, “Fantasia”’s final scene is perhaps Disney’s debut as a purveyor of darkness. The wispy white demons float into our minds, and they stay there… frightening us… forever. It’s a testament to how effective this scene really is that the musical score is practically synonymous with fear. Emotional, and undoubtedly dark, this is one terrifying “Night on Bald Mountain.”

#6: The Horned King’s Undead Army
“The Black Cauldron” (1985)

In this skeletal sequence, the Horned King has death at his beck and call. As the good guys hang helpless, a sacrifice is made and the Black Cauldron pours forth all the darkness it can muster. Watched over with red, pinprick eyes and guided by a voice as sinister as Satan’s own, the Army of the Dead is coming! It blurs out our vision and rings in our ears.

#5: Ursula’s Demise
“The Little Mermaid” (1989)

Who’d have thought that this sweet, sea-bound tale could take such a dark turn? First, a shark chases Ariel, then the King is turned into a wormy something or other, and finally, Ursula meets her monstrous death – well, that’s just scare supreme. As the demon of the deep with a voice to match, she’s got a trident in hand and weather on her side. But when the boat takes her down, we’re as wrecked as the ship!

#4: Dumbo’s Drunken Hallucinations
“Dumbo” (1941)

The phrase ‘too much, too young’ might’ve been invented for Dumbo and this ordeal. ‘Seeing things he knows there ain’t’, our favorite elephant plunges into a dream from which he can’t escape. It’s black and bright all at the same time and a recurring nightmare that burns through your eyes. No one likes an elephant in the room… now imagine there’s hundreds of ‘em… and they’re pink… Exactly!

#3: Clayton’s Horrific End
“Tarzan” (1999)

Nobody likes Clayton. He’s a posh, pompous, animal-poaching, pain in the ass! But did we see his death coming?! It’s a dark, stormy night and our two macho-men are fighting it out in the trees. Tarzan’s skill keeps him safe, but Clayton is clumsy and he’s hung out to dry – quite literally. As the vine snaps and the dagger falls, we’re as shocked as we are satisfied!

#2: Lampwick Becomes an Ass
“Pinocchio” (1940)

In Pinocchio’s quest to become a ‘real boy’, he inevitably encounters vice – and then some! After the tough-talking Lampwick takes one mouthful too many of some bad beer, his transformation begins and Pinocchio’s innocence ends. The ears and tail are bad enough, but as his voice switches to a squeal and his hands into hooves, Disney terrifies us with a frightful few minutes that live long in our memories.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- The Evil Queen’s Transformation ”Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)
- Olivia Flaversham’s Kidnapping ”The Great Mouse Detective” (1986)
- Shan Yu Orders Execution of Extra Messenger “Mulan” (1998)

#1: Scar’s Betrayal and Mufasa’s Murder
“The Lion King” (1994)

We’ve reached Disney’s darkest hour – and it doesn’t come scarier, more dreadful, or more genuinely horrible than Mufasa’s death at the hands of his brother. Until this, Scar had been merely sarcastic, but now he’s as evil as they come: robbing the jungle of its King and leaving Simba absolutely inconsolable. That’s right, the leader of the pack shall lead no more. This gut-wrenching moment is powerful and painful, no matter how old you are!

Do you agree with our list? Which Disney scare is your favorite? For more dark Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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