The Sad Story Behind Why Most Disney Characters Don’t Have Mothers


Walt Disney, the founder of the Disney Company, left a great legacy behind. Many Disney characters and productions had a huge influence on our childhoods, and they actually remain to be influential on our adult lives too. But one detail about these characters was maybe more interesting than anything: They didn’t have mothers around. They were either dead or lost somehow. Here’s the sad story behind it:


Let’s start with Cinderella.

When you have a look at the stories of Cinderella, the Little Mermaid or Pocahontas, you’ll see that none of them had moms. Of course these were fairy tales and were told a thousand times in history before Disney, but is there some kind of reason why Disney chose to tell their stories in particular?

Viewers who noticed this fact had a closer look at the Disney productions, both fairy tales and new stories, and they found out that most of the characters had no mothers!

Many of the main characters have neither moms nor dads. For example, in Aladdin, some supporting characters had fathers but no mothers. And think of Princess Jasmine, you’ll remember the Sultan, but anyone notice a mother?

The answer to this question came from inside the company.

Don Hahn, executive producer of “Maleficent,” who also worked on Disney classics such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Lion King,” gave an interview to Glamour and shared his two theories on the subject.

The first theory is, well, kind of obvious...

Having no parents is a good way of telling stories about “growing up.”

Now let’s think a little bit more about these characters. Most of the Disney productions is about main characters growing up. Don Hahn says: “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.”

"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."

And Don Hahn adds:

"Simba ran away from home but had to come back. In short, it's much quicker to have characters grow up when you bump off their parents."

Don Hahn told that this is technique is not special to Disney productions. Many traditional fairy tales use the same storytelling method: main characters without parents grow up.

But he also adds that this isn’t the only reason...

Hahn tells that another reason why so many characters have no mothers is that because a tragic event happened to Walt Disney...

What happened to Walt Disney’s mother unravels the mystery a bit more...

Walt Disney had one thing in mind when he started his job...

He really wanted to buy a house for his parents. After he bought a house for them, there were a few things in the house that needed to be fixed, and one of them was the furnace.

One of the studio guys working at the company went to the house to help Disney when fixing things. And he made a very big mistake...

After Walt Disney’s  mom and dad moved in, the housekeeper came in the next morning and found them laying on the ground. She pulled them out on the front lawn. His father was sick and they took him to the hospital, but his mother had died.

Walt Disney personally felt responsible for his mother’s death all his life.

Don Hahn also says that this is just a theory of him and he’s not a psychologist or anything.

Although it’s just a theory, however, we think it’s a very convincing one.

Of course it’s not the same as before now in Disney productions, but in many classics, main characters will remain orphans forever... 😢
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