10 Jokes Disney Wouldn’t Get Away With Today

Yzma revealing a dagger strapped to her thigh in The Emperor's New Groove alongside an image of an injured Francis the ladybug in A Bug's Life. 

Most animated Disney movies are intended for children. Therefore, they are often rated G. Many of the popular G-rated movies, from Hercules to Toy Story 2, technically don’t have anything explicitly inappropriate. However, some subtle jokes intended for the adult audience are unsuitable for children.

Related: The 10 Highest-Grossing Animated Disney Movies

Some of these Disney jokes are raunchy, mature sexual references the creators assumed children wouldn’t understand. Others are less obvious, making crude jokes referencing outdated or offensive stereotypes. However, in today’s more scrutinizing audience, Disney wouldn’t get away with certain previously overlooked jokes.

10 The Oedipus Play Reference In Hercules

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Though Hercules is still considered an animated classic, it’s also one of the most controversial Disney movies. When Meg and Hercules go on a date and talk about the play they attended, Hercules says, “That play…that Oedipus thing? I thought I had problems.”

This refers to the classic play Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, in which a man is destined to marry his mother and kill his father. While this was clearly thrown in as an adult joke that would go over a child’s head, the age of modern technology and search engines mean a joke like this could lead to some complicated questions from a curious child.

9 Buzz Pops His Wings When Jesse Impresses Him

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Woody and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story.

Toy Story is one of the most successful movie franchises ever from Disney’s Pixar, leading to a few sequels, beginning with Toy Story 2 and a storyline dedicated to Buzz Lightyear and Woody’s friendship. In this sequel, the audience first sees Buzz begin his infatuation with Jessie, the cowgirl doll.

Related: 9 Best Movie Trilogies Of The ’90s

When Jessie does an impressive maneuver with a toy car and a ramp to open the bedroom door for the dog, Buzz looks impressed, his wings popping out. Though subtle, this is an erotic reference to being aroused that wouldn’t be overlooked by many parents of today’s modern culture.

8 Lightning McQueen Gets “Flashed” In Cars

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lightning McQueen posing for cameras, Cars

In Cars, Lightning McQueen is a superstar racecar that gets stranded in a small town on his way to a major race. In the opening, he’s leaving a race when two of his “biggest fans,” Mia and Tia, roll up a flash him with their headlights.

In this movie about cars, flashing him is taken more literally, but the reference to a superstar being flashed is clear. Though this is another joke intended more for adult viewers than the innocent child audience, it seems like a particularly inappropriate joke to incorporate into an animated children’s film.

7 The Drunk Duck In The Aristocats

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Waldo the Duck pointing at a sign in The Aristocats. 

Though The Aristocats is one of the few Disney movies without any super sad scenes, the movie as a whole has not aged well. One character in this film, Waldo, is a duck that appears to be constantly intoxicated. His character is a clear representation of the “drunk uncle” trope.

The cat O’Malley even jokes about Waldo’s drunkenness, saying, “Basted? He’s been marinated in it.” One of the most problematic aspects of classic Disney movies is the casual use of smoking, drug use, and intoxication. Though it may have been overlooked at the time, modern audiences are more aware of how this depiction can influence children.

6 Yzma Flashing Kuzco And Pacha In The Emperor’s New Groove

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Yzma flashing a dagger strapped to her thigh in The Emperor's New Groove. 

In The Emperor’s New Groove, the villain Yzma, who repeatedly tries to kill Emperor Kuzco to take his place, is the punchline in many jokes. In one scene, she begins lifting her dress, saying, “I bet you weren’t expecting this!” Pacha and Kuzco freak out until she reveals a dagger, with them initially thinking she was about to reveal her private area.

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Jokes at the villain’s expense are easier to overlook. However, modern viewers of The Emperor’s New Groove may be more uncomfortable with this crude joke that suggests seeing an older woman’s privates is more terrifying than a deadly weapon.

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Mulan with Mushu and her horse

Mulan‘s iconic sidekick Mushu is one of the most beloved and hilarious animal companions in a Disney animated film. However, even this lovable character has some dated jokes that modern audiences don’t find as funny as they may have been originally.

When he tries to prove his power to Mulan, he says he can see right through her armor, causing her to cover her chest and smack him. Though some sexually inappropriate jokes are discreet enough to be overlooked by younger viewers, the implied perversion of this one is blatantly obvious.

4 The Pollination Joke In A Bug’s Life

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Francis the ladybug with a wrapped leg laying on his back on a flower in A Bug's Life. 

A Bug’s Life is not one of the most popular Disney-Pixar creations, but it continues to be one of the most unique premises with colorful imagery and a captivating plot. In one scene, a pair of flies go by Francis, a ladybug, and one of them says, “Hey cutie, wanna pollinate with a real bug?”

This is another obvious reference to sex in a children’s movie. While audiences might expect children not to understand the pollination process, the reproduction of plants is taught as early as third grade. They might still not catch on to the joke in A Bug’s Life, but it’s risky to assume they won’t.

3 The Ancestors Rag On Mulan

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Two ancestors looking angry at one another in Mulan. 

Though Mulan continues to be a beloved Disney classic, a few jokes throughout the film have not aged well. When the ancestors are discussing what to do after Mulan steals her father’s armor to join the army, one of them says to another, “Your great-granddaughter had to be a cross-dresser!”

Related: 10 Disney Musicals That Actually Aged Well

While the term wasn’t inaccurate when referring to Mulan disguising herself as a man, the negative way “cross-dresser” is used is problematic to modern audiences. This joke has aged poorly, putting parents in a position to have to explain why “cross-dressing” is considered inappropriate in Mulan.

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Genie from Aladdin 1992.

Aladdin and the King of Thieves is not as popular as the original installment. Though the audience sees Aladdin and Jasmine’s romance begin in the original Aladdin, the third one features their marriage. When the couple is about to be married, an invasion occurs. As the ground shakes, Genie jokes, saying, “I thought the earth wasn’t supposed to move until the honeymoon.”

Though Aladdin is a beloved animated film, this joke should have stayed in the Disney vault. Children may not pick up on what the Genie is referring to, but it’s an odd enough statement that it might elicit some questions.

1 The Bus Driver In Hocus Pocus

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>The bis driver talking in Hocus Pocus. 

Hocus Pocus was not positively reviewed upon its initial release in 1993, but it became a cult classic. The popularity of the Halloween-themed movie inspired the 2022 sequel, Hocus Pocus 2. Even though the film has a large adult fandom, it’s rated PG and assumably appropriate for young audiences.

However, not all the jokes in Hocus Pocus are appropriate for young viewers. When the witches get on a bus and tell the driver they desire children, he replies, “It may take me a couple of tries, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”

Next: 10 Best ‘90s Disney Live-Action Movies


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