The real reason most Disney characters have lost a parent

It's really sad

by Anna Lewis |
Published on

Ever noticed that a great number of Disney characters don’t have either a mum or dad? Or worse still, they’ve lost both.

Well now we know the sad reason.

Don Hahn, executive producer of Maleficent, recently told Glamour: "I’ll give you two stories that are the reasons. I never talk about this, but I will. One reason is practical because the movies are 80 or 90 minutes long, and Disney films are about growing up. They’re about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility.


“Simba ran away from home but had to come back. In shorthand, it’s much quicker to have characters grow up when you bump off their parents. Bambi’s mother gets killed, so he has to grow up. Belle only has a father, but he gets lost, so she has to step into that position. It’s a story shorthand."

Don – who worked on Disney classics such as The Lion King and* Beauty And The Beas*t – went on to give an even more tragic reason.


In the early 1940s, Walt Disney bought a home for his parents.

"He had the studio guys come over and fix the furnace, but when his mum and dad moved in, the furnace leaked and his mother died," Don said. "The housekeeper came in the next morning and pulled his mother and father out on the front lawn. His father was sick and went to the hospital, but his mother died."

According to Don, Disney never spoke about his mother's death, nor did anyone else at the time.

"He never spoke about that time because he personally felt responsible because he had become so successful that he said, 'Let me buy you a house.' It’s every kid's dream to buy their parents a house and just through a strange freak of nature – through no fault of his own – the studio workers didn’t know what they were doing," said Don. "There’s a theory, and I’m not a psychologist, but he was really haunted by that. That idea that he really contributed to his mum’s death was really tragic."

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