As a child, I saw Sleeping Beauty and could not get over how messed up Maleficent was. She cursed a child because she wasn't invited to the birthday party?! Who does that?! Has she never heard of therapy?
She later turns into a dragon to try and kill a prince before he can reach the film's titular character and save the day. It's a downright creepy scene, actually. Short but thrilling.
And what about Cinderella? Who knew Disney movies could introduce us to the horrors of child abuse? The Evil Stepmother needs a therapist, too. (Did you know that both Maleficent and the Evil Stepmother were voiced by the same actress? It probably explains a lot.)
After Redditor shoopdahoop22 asked the online community, "What's the darkest Disney movie?" people shared their suggestions.
"I'm not even talking..."
I'm not even talking about the crows. The amount of abuse that elephant goes through is heartbreaking for a kids movie. Plus the pink elephant scene was pure nightmare fuel.
"He was ruthless..."
The villain of Oliver and Company was so dark. He was ruthless and realistic. He was on the phone telling his men to drown people. He also sicced his dogs on the main character with killing intent and only stopped when he offered a scheme to kidnap a little girl that seemed viable. Plus he straight-up died at the end.
Otherwise a great movie though.
"Aoart from the old lady..."
Fox and the Hound. Apart from the old lady abandoning a hand-reared fox in the woods and just expecting it to know how to survive, the end message of the movie is, Stick With Your Own Kind.
"I kind of wish..."
The Black Cauldron.
A ragtag group of two children, an old man, and some weird childish talking animal are trapped in a torture-maze-castle by a satanic demon king who plans to sacrifice them by throwing them into a possessed cauldron to summon the souls of the dead who will melt the flesh off of his living soldiers and then inhabit their skeletal remains and serve as his undead army.
I kind of wish that they had decided to go full speed ahead with this and really owned the twisted horror of the movie. As it is, they cut out a lot of the graphic scenes and the result is a poorly edited mess of a movie that hardly makes any sense whatsoever.
"It was about a boy..."
Good answers here. I'll add Child of Glass. It was a made-for-TV movie for Wonderful World of Disney in the late 70s. It was about a boy who moves with his family to a (Louisiana?) plantation and is visited by the ghost of a little girl whose soul can't rest until he solves the mystery of her murder. Which also puts his own life in danger. Pretty heavy stuff, but also kind of sweet.
"They've been trying..."
Song of the South.
They've been trying to sweep their grossly altered historical depiction of benefactor slave owners and their happy slaves story under the rug for years.
Beauty and the Beast. Kidnapping. Attempted murder. False imprisonment. Coercion. And that's the "good" guy.
"It's tough to pick..."
Disney went through a weird period in the early 80s and tried some darker fare, resulting in releases like The Watcher in the Woods, Dragonslayer, The Black Hole, The Black Cauldron, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Return to Oz. It's tough to pick the darkest of that weird (but lovable) bunch.
"Thousands of people die..."
How is Atlantis not on this list? Thousands of people die, each character on the expedition is the literal example of a stereotype about a culture, and not a single person feels sad about the hundreds of crew members lost trying to find the city.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Judge Frollo kills a mother and tries to murder her child. He also decides that he will burn down the entire city of Paris if he doesn't get the girl and that the girl should burn in hell for tempting him.
"I would argue..."
I would argue that The Little Mermaid was pretty dark. Those merpeople-turned-polyps really scared me as a kid.
But Pinocchio scared the crap out of me when I was an ADULT.
Dumbo is horrifying to watch through adult eyes. A mother and child separated because the mother was trying to protect her baby. Racist stereotypes. The portrayal of the circus industry. It's honestly a little sickening.
"They almost showed..."
Zootopia was originally going to be waaay darker. In the version first planned, the prey forced predators to wear tame collars, which delivered electric shocks whenever the preds got a little antsy. They almost showed a police state in a kids movie.
Okay, how has no one said Inside Out? A little girl basically gets depression and runs away from home while she can't feel any emotions anymore.
"I think people are..."
I think people are either choosing to ignore it or forgetting Wall-E.
The depressing events that took place in that movie regarding human beings is nearly a direct reflection of what's happening in real life right now, with people getting lazier and fatter and just staring at their mobile devices all day while life passes them by.
"Throughout the whole movie..."
Everyone's listing the classics but I'm going to nominate my favorite animated Disney film: Lilo and Stitch.
Lilo is an emotionally scarred and socially outcasted girl whose parents died in a car crash. She lives in poverty with older sister Nani, her only remaining family member. Throughout the whole movie, a social worker threatens to (and eventually does) take Lilo away from Nani. On top of that, aliens spend the whole movie trying to kill Lilo's new pet. This culminates in a scene where the aliens fight with guns and chainsaws and eventually burn down/explode Lilo and Nani's house.
It's a pretty dark movie until the happy ending.