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10 Disney Movie Plot Twists That Are Absolutely Perfect – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

10 Disney Movie Plot Twists That Are Absolutely Perfect



Who doesn’t enjoy a mind-bending plot twist? It’s a thrilling experience to watch a movie and be blindsided by a twist that you never saw coming. The best plot twists are often found in suspenseful dramas like The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, or Primal Fear. Nevertheless, Disney and its subsidiary Pixar have managed to surprise us with their animated films on occasion. While some of their plot twists might feel overused and clichéd, others are nothing short of perfect. They make us gasp in shock, cry out at the screen, or nudge our viewing partners in excitement. Here are ten unforgettable Disney movie plot twists that left us reeling.

10. Pinocchio (1940) – The Truth About Pleasure Island
Pinocchio, Disney’s animated adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s fantastical story, has been brought to life several times over the years. However, Walt Disney’s version reigns supreme as the best adaptation. During Pinocchio’s journey to becoming a real boy, the mysterious Coachman takes him and other mischievous little boys to a place without rules or adults called Pleasure Island. Pinocchio and the other boys indulge in cigars and beer, throwing themselves into the vices of Pleasure Island. But they end up paying a steep price for it. In a shocking plot twist, the boys transform into donkeys, revealing the terrible truth about this twisted version of Disney World: all the donkeys at Pleasure Island, including those that get whipped by the Coachman, are actually little boys.

9. Tangled (2010) – Rapunzel’s Haircut
Tangled is Disney’s take on the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel. Traditionally, Rapunzel is known for her long, golden hair, and in this version of the story, that hair comes with magical properties. Her wicked adoptive mother holds her hostage in a high tower, so that she can use Rapunzel’s hair to concoct a youth potion. To save her from captivity, Rapunzel’s sarcastic love interest, Eugene, slices off her golden hair to set her free. Eugene dies in the process but is resurrected by Rapunzel’s tears. Unless you’re familiar with the fairy tale, the loss of Rapunzel’s hair is a surprising twist, though it happens a little differently in the story.

8. The Little Mermaid (1989) – Ursula in Disguise
Disney’s 1989 The Little Mermaid is an animated classic, which was just adapted into a live-action film this year. In order to become human and win over Eric, the man of her dreams, mermaid Ariel surrenders her voice to the evil sea witch Ursula. But who needs a voice when you have that brilliant red hair and sweet personality? Ariel wows Eric, though things take a turn for the worse when a mysterious, dark-haired woman named Vanessa appears with an enchanting singing voice. Her voice casts a spell on Eric and forces him to marry Vanessa. But it’s soon revealed that Vanessa is really Ursula in disguise, armed with Ariel’s voice.

7. Toy Story 3 (2010) – Woody’s Last Minute Decision
The Toy Story franchise has a number of twists, like a couple of good guys who turn out to be bad, Woody’s famous backstory, and a Darth Vader-inspired reveal between Buzz Lightyear and his arch-nemesis Emperor Zurg. But perhaps the franchise’s greatest twist takes place in Toy Story 3. Andy, the toys’ owner, is off to college and is only bringing his longtime pal Woody with him; Buzz and the rest of the gang are going to be given away. Andy reaches into the donation box and introduces each toy to a little girl named Bonnie. But he pauses in surprise when he spots the last toy in the box: Woody. At the last second, Woody decides to go with his friends instead of his owner. It’s a memorable twist that takes us into one of the most emotional scenes in a Pixar movie.

6. Hercules (1997) – Meg’s Betrayal
Hercules is another animated classic from the 1990s Disney Renaissance. During his journey to becoming a hero, Hercules saves a damsel in distress named Meg. The two hit it off, with Hercules’ boyish innocence meshing with Meg’s sarcasm, and Hercules falls hard. But in a surprising twist, it’s revealed that Meg is actually working for the god of the underworld Hades, who has made it his mission to kill Hercules and his godly father Zeus. As it turns out, Meg sold her soul to Hades to save a former lover. Meg redeems herself in the end when she sacrifices herself to save Hercules, which helps him to finally become a god. Hercules revives Meg, and in another plot twist, decides to forgo his immortality and godliness to be with her.

5. Coco (2017) – Miguel’s Great-Great-Grandfather
Pixar’s Coco explores Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and is one of the animation studio’s best films. For most of it, the main character, Miguel (and the audience), believes that his musical idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, is his great-great-grandfather. He inadvertently travels to the land of the dead, where he meets his idol Ernesto and a family-less skeleton named Hector. In classic Disney fashion, Ernesto turns out to be a villain and a fraud, who stole Hector’s music. But the real twist comes when it’s revealed that Hector is Miguel’s actual great-great-grandfather. Don’t grab those tissues just yet, though; it also turns out that Ernesto’s most famous song, “Remember Me,” was actually Hector’s song, which he wrote for his daughter and Miguel’s great-grandmother Coco.

4. The Incredibles (2004) – Syndrome’s Past
The Incredibles is arguably the best non-Marvel and DC superhero film. It also features one of the best twists. Early in the film, when Mr. Incredible is in his prime and superheroes still exist, he meets a young, devoted fan who calls himself Incredi-Boy and wishes to be his sidekick. Mr. Incredible blows him off — and this proves to have drastic consequences fifteen years down the road. We don’t think of Incredi-Boy much after the beginning. Until we suddenly learn that he’s grown up into Syndrome, a villain who relies on technology rather than superpowers. His goal is to rid the world of the heroes who rejected him while making himself into a hero in the process.

3. Encanto (2021) – Bruno Never Left
Disney’s latest animated phenomenon, Encanto, has taken the world by storm. “We don’t talk about Bruno,” the Madrigal family and all their fans sing. Bruno is a member of the magical Madrigal family, who was vilified for his dark premonitions of the future and mysteriously disappeared. But in a creepy and sad twist, we learn that Bruno never actually left the Madrigal’s house. He’s been living within the walls this whole time, having dinner alone and hanging out with rats. Sure, Bruno is a little…odd. But he’s not at all the villain that’s depicted.

2. Wreck It Ralph (2012) – King Candy’s True Identity
Long before The Super Mario Bros. Movie, there was Wreck It Ralph, a video game film that turned into one of Disney’s most creative and brilliant offerings. Both Disney and Pixar love to take seemingly good characters and turn them into the film’s secret villain. Big Hero 6, Toy Story 2 and 3, Zootopia, and Monsters, Inc. were all guilty of this overdone trope. So is Wreck It Ralph, although this film executed it best. Fed up with being his video game’s villain, Ralph finds himself in the kart-racing game Sugar Rush, where he meets a young “glitch” character named Vanellope and the ruler of Sugar Rush, King Candy. But as Ralph soon learns, Sugar Rush isn’t as sweet as it seems. Vanellope isn’t a glitch at all; she’s the…

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Who doesn’t love a good plot twist? There’s nothing better than watching a movie and suddenly getting walloped with a twist that you didn’t see coming. The best plot twists are usually found in suspenseful dramas, such as The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, or Primal Fear. But Disney and its subsidiary Pixar have been known to occasionally surprise us in their animated films.


Some of their twists feel tired and repetitive; Disney loves spinning a seemingly good character into the film’s secret villain. But others are absolutely perfect. They make us cry out at the screen, grab our faces in shock, or excitedly nudge our viewing partners. Here are ten perfect Disney movie plot twists that blew our minds.

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10 Pinocchio (1940) – The Truth About Pleasure Island

Pinocchio Walt Disney
RKO Radio Pictures

Carlo Collodi’s fantastical story, The Adventures of Pinocchio, has been brought to life several times over the years. But Walt Disney’s animated classic, titled simply Pinocchioreigns supreme as the best adaptation. During Pinocchio’s journey in becoming a real boy, the mysterious Coachman takes him and other mischievous, little boys to a place without rules and adults called Pleasure Island. Pinocchio and the other boys smoke cigars and drink beer, throwing themselves into the vices of Pleasure Island. And they end up paying dearly for it. In a horrifying plot twist, the boys transform into donkeys, revealing the truth about this twisted version of Disney World: all the donkeys at Pleasure Island, including those that get whipped by the Coachman, are really little boys.

Related: Pinocchio: How Guillermo del Toro’s and Disney’s 2022 Remake Compare

9 Tangled (2010) – Rapunzel’s Haircut

Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) and Eugene/Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) at a dam in Tangled
Pixar

Tangled is Disney’s take on the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel. Rapunzel is traditionally known for her long, golden hair, and in this version of the story, that hair also comes with magical properties. Her wicked, adoptive mother holds her hostage in a high tower, so that she can use Rapunzel’s hair to concoct a youth potion. To save her from captivity, Rapunzel’s sarcastic love interest, Eugene, slices off her golden hair to set her free. Eugene dies in the process but is resurrected by Rapunzel’s tears. Unless you’re familiar with the fairy tale, the loss of Rapunzel’s hair is a surprising twist, though it happens a little differently in the story.

8 The Little Mermaid (1989) – Ursula in Disguise

Ursula, voiced by Pat Carroll, in The Little Mermaid
Buena Vista Pictures

Disney’s 1989 The Little Mermaid is an animated classic, which was just adapted into a live action film this year. In order to become a human and win over Eric, the man of her dreams, mermaid Ariel surrenders her voice to the evil sea witch Ursula. But who needs a voice when you have that brilliant red hair and sweet personality? Ariel woos Eric, though things take a turn for the worse when a mysterious, dark haired woman named Vanessa appears with an enchanting singing voice. Literally. Her voice casts a spell on Eric and forces him to marry Vanessa. But it’s soon revealed that Vanessa is really Ursula in disguise, and she’s armed with Ariel’s voice.

7 Toy Story 3 (2010) – Woody’s Last Minute Decision

A scene from Toy Story 3
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The Toy Story franchise holds a number of twists, like a couple of good guys who really turn out to be bad guys, Woody’s famous backstory, and a Darth Vader inspired reveal between Buzz Lightyear and his arch nemesis Emperor Zurg. But perhaps the franchise’s greatest twist takes place in Toy Story 3. The toys’ owner, Andy, is off to college and is only bringing his longtime pal Woody with him; Buzz and the rest of the gang are going to be given away. Andy reaches into the donation box and introduces each toy to a little girl named Bonnie. But he pauses in surprise when he spots the last toy in the box: Woody. At the last second, Woody decided to part ways with his owner rather than his friends. It’s a memorable twist that takes us into one of the most emotional scenes in a Pixar movie.

Related: Toy Story 5 News Gets Largely Negative Reaction from Fans

6 Hercules (1997) – Meg’s Betrayal

Meg and Hercules in Hercules
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Hercules is another animated classic from the 1990s Disney Renaissance. During his journey to becoming a hero, Hercules saves a damsel in distress named Meg. The two hit it off, Hercules’ boyish innocence meshing with Meg’s sarcasm, and Hercules falls hard. But in a surprising twist, it’s revealed that Meg is actually working for the god of the underworld Hades, who has made it his mission to kill Hercules and his godly father Zeus. As it turns out, she sold her soul to Hades to save a former lover. Meg redeems herself in the end though when she sacrifices herself to save Hercules, which helps him to finally become a god. Hercules revives Meg and, in another plot twist, decides to forgo his immortality and godliness to be with her.

5 Coco (2017) – Miguel’s Great-Great-Grandfather

Coco Gets Second Box Office Win This Weekend with $26.2M

Pixar’s Coco explores Mexico’s Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and is one of the animation studio’s best films. For most of it, main character Miguel (and the audience) believes that his musical idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, is his great-great-grandfather. He inadvertently travels to the land of the dead, where he meets his idol Ernesto and a family-less skeleton named Hector. In classic Disney fashion, Ernesto turns out to be a villain and a fraud, who stole Hector’s music. But the real twist comes when it’s revealed that Hector is Miguel’s actual great-great-grandfather. Don’t grab those tissues just yet, though; it also turns out that Ernesto’s most famous song, “Remember Me”, was actually Hector’s song, which he wrote for his daughter and Miguel’s great-grandmother Coco.

4 The Incredibles (2004) – Syndrome’s Past

The Incredibles Syndrome
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

The Incredibles is arguably the best non-Marvel and DC superhero film. It also features one of the best twists. Early in the film, when Mr. Incredible is in his prime and superheroes still exist, he meets a young, devoted fan who calls himself Incredi-Boy and wishes to be his sidekick. Mr. Incredible blows him off — and this proves to have drastic consequences fifteen years down the road. We don’t think of Incredi-Boy much after the beginning. Until we suddenly learn that he’s grown up into Syndrome, a villain who relies on technology rather than superpowers. His goal is to rid the world of the heroes who rejected him while making himself into a hero in the process.

Related: Why The Incredibles is Pixar’s Best Franchise

3 Encanto (2021) – Bruno Never Left

charm-bruno-madrigal
Disney

Charm is Disney’s latest animated phenomenon. “We don’t talk about Bruno,” the Madrigal family and all their fans sing. Bruno is a member of the magical Madrigal family, who was vilified for his dark premonitions of the future and mysteriously disappeared. But in a creepy and sad twist, we learn that Bruno never actually left the Madrigal’s house. He’s been living within the walls this whole time, having dinner alone and hanging out with rats. Sure, Bruno is a little…odd. But he’s not at all the villain that’s depicted.

2 Wreck It Ralph (2012) – King Candy’s True Identity

king-candy_1_1200x630
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Long before there was The Super Mario Bros. Movie, there was Wreck It Ralpha video game film that turned into one of Disney’s most creative and brilliant offerings. Both Disney and Pixar love to take seemingly good characters and turn them into the film’s secret villain. Big Hero 6, Toy Story 2 and 3, Zootopia, and Monster’s, Inc. were all guilty of this overdone trope. So is Wreck It Ralph, though this film did it best.

Fed up with being his video game’s villain, Ralph finds himself in the kart racing game Sugar Rush, where he meet a young, “glitch” character named Vanellope and the ruler of Sugar Rush, King Candy. But as Ralph soon learns, Sugar Rush isn’t as sweet as it seems. Vanellope isn’t a glitch at all; she’s the rightful ruler of and a playable character in Sugar Rush. King Candy had reprogrammed the game to make himself its ruler. What’s more is that his name isn’t King Candy. He’s actually Turbo, a racing character who took over Sugar Rush after his own game failed.

1 Frozen (2013) – An Act of True Love

Elsa holding Anna's hands
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Frozen was the Disney phenomenon that had adults and kids everywhere singing the words “Let It Go.” You were probably expecting us to list Hans, Anna’s love interest, as the film’s villain here, right? While that is a great twist, Frozen actually has an even better one. After her sister Elsa accidentally freezes her heart, Anna learns that the fatal spell can only be reversed by an act of true love, or else she’ll be frozen solid. She races back to her kingdom, so Hans can save her with Disney’s most famous cliché: true love’s kiss. Instead, Hans reveals himself as the villain, refuses to kiss Anna, and tries murdering Elsa. But Anna jumps in the way at the last second to stop him, just before the spell takes over and turns her into a frozen statue. Distraught, Elsa cries and mourns her sister, which actually ends up thawing Anna and bringing her back to life. In Disney’s most surprising and beautiful twist, it was family love, not romantic love, that saved Anna. With this twist, Frozen took the traditional Disney formula and turned it on its head, subverting our expectations and changing the definition of true love.

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