11 Times 'Disney' Subplots Upstaged The Main Storylines In These Classic Animated Features

Can we be honest for a second? Even though I proudly own mouse ears from three Disney theme parks (and counting), I’ll be the first to admit that some of the core plots can be repetitive. In fact, given the brand’s obsession with love, romantic pairings in Disney usually take up the crux of the movie and stale over by the time you’re four movies deep in a Princess movie binge-watch. You really have to give a shout out to the underlying stories and subplots in Disney movies... if you pay more attention to all the things happening on the side, you start appreciating them even more than the core plots.

But, of course, there are definitely factors in what makes a good or bad subplot. Sometimes it’s about breaking up the darkness in a particular film. Other times it adds a bit of sophistication to what would otherwise be considered a children’s movie. And honestly? Sometimes you just want an adorable scene where some tiny woodland creatures make a dress. I’ve rounded up a slew of favorite subplots that feature some of these concepts, and more.

Without further delay, these are some excellent Disney subplots we should all appreciate more.

1. Megara’s Trust Issues In Hercules

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Pretty much everything involving this Grecian goddess (uh, metaphorically speaking) is the highlight of Hercules. She's so unlike every Disney heroine, wounded from the sting of love, very nearly able to trade it all in for freedom. Luckily Herc's one of the good ones, and those two crazy kids can make it work, but her backstory and subsequent cynicism sure is refreshing.

2. Timon And Pumbaa's Happy Family In The Lion King

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Is it any wonder how these two got their own movie? We only get a taste of their life with Simba in The Lion King, but that detour in Hakuna Matata is a refreshing break from all the fratricide going on in the jungle.

3. Gaston As The Friendly Neighborhood Misogynist In Beauty And The Beast

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Make no mistake, Gaston is the literal worst. He is, however, the best at being the literal worst. Watching bold sense of entitlement and Trump-like arrogance in acting is as hilarious as it is terrifying. And hey, it makes for some great music.

4. All The Adorable Mice Antics In Cinderella

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Apparently Cindy's biggest life hack of all is just not hiring an exterminator. Not sure about that dress, tho. And on a related note.

5. The Drama Between The Three Fairies In Sleeping Beauty

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Seriously, all that sparring over blue versus pink had major pay-off, Aurora was fortunate enough to don both as she danced. Although, with all respect to recent Disney Princess canon, Team Blue all the way.

6. The Struggle To Fit Into The Army In Mulan

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Not with the bride stuff, girl didn't have a chance with that. We're just talking about all the efforts to keep her, um, feminine secrets under wraps, whether that's modesty in bath time or just being made into the best man she can be. Girl woke up early to climb a wooden pole, mad respect.

7. The Idea That Andy Needs To Grow Up In Toy Story 3

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There's a classic Toy Story plot at work in the franchise's flawless third installment; the gang is trying to escape a hellhole of a nursery to get back to Andy's. Bookending and underlying that tale is the story of Andy leaving for college... and thusly, you know, realizing that he needs to leave his past behind (although he does so lovingly). It was a realization that made thousands of 20-somethings bawl in a theater... well, that, and the incinerator thing.

8. Frollo’s Creepy Gypsy Esmerelda Obsession The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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"Hellfire" alone adds another thick layer of "awful" onto the crooked character, particularly when you consider his absolute hatred of gypsies and quest to be-rid of them. Like, it's all way too dark for a children's movie, but you appreciate all those layers as an adult.

9. Jasmine's Attempts To Free Herself From The Obligations Of Princessing In Aladdin

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Jasmine is definitely at her coolest when she's running away from home, trying to make it on the streets and vouching to marry someone she truly loves versus someone of decent royal lineage. This magic carpet ride towards independence unravels when she starts falling for our titular hero, but it was fun while it lasted.

10. Sebastian's Behind-The-Scenes Machinations In The Little Mermaid

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One minute he's supposed to keep an eye on her, the other minute he's playing wingman and trying to get Prince Eric to lay his lips on that underage fish princess. Either way, it's pretty magic.

11. Anna And Elsa's Crumbling Relationship In Frozen

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The cold heart in Frozen is all the sisters having a huge falling out... and, in their time of crisis, reconnecting again. We wouldn't have appreciated Anna's act of true love if we didn't see everything from the years of Elsa refusing to build a snowman to the awkward interactions at the coronation ball.

Images: Disney (1); Giphy (11)