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  • Once upon a time, it's how all classic Disney stories go.

  • Our heroes face a problem, take down the villains and maybe find love.

  • But when we look past the villains and evil monsters, you might also notice that a lot of the main characters mothers are dead.

  • Bambi, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Snow White, Pocahontas, Finding Nemo, Aladdin.

  • The list goes on and on, and it extends beyond just Disney.

  • Of course, there are outliers but this is definitely a trend, and we want to know why.

  • If you haven't noticed this before, you probably will now.

  • So why kill off the mothers?

  • Turns out, the answer is deep within our psyche.

  • Be sure to subscribe and ring the bell to get answers to questions just like this one.

  • [MUSIC] Tale as old as time.

  • Mom dies in the beginning, the protagonist carries on with the dad, faces a problem, thrives, survives, and lives happily ever after.

  • Longtime Disney producer, Don Hahn, revealed his theories in an interview with Glamour.

  • His first theory is a more practical one.

  • Animated films, are typically 90 minutes and we need the action to begin almost immediately.

  • The main character needs to accept responsibility and grow as soon as possible in the story.

  • It's much easier to force your characters to grow when you bump off the parents.

  • His words, not mine.

  • The death of a parent, would inherently make the child more resourceful and independent, creating a more colorful and relatable main character for the audience.

  • Makes sense, but that still doesn't answer the question of, why always the mother?

  • Hahn second theory believes the story tradition lies within Walt Disney himself.

  • After the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, Walt bought a house in North Hollywood for his mom and dad to move into, but the furnace was broken.

  • So he had some studio guys, not specialists, come over to fix the furnace.

  • Then when his parents moved in, the furnace leaked and his mother got ill from it and passed away.

  • Walt took complete responsibility for the death because he was the one that pushed his parents to move into the house in the first place.

  • It's theorized that Walt haunted by the death of his mother, excluded mothers from films that followed.

  • But Hahn's theory, ignores the fact that Snow White was released a year before this happened and Snow's mother died during childbirth.

  • So Sarah Boxer from the Atlantic, has a few other theories.

  • The first being that it is simply a traditional plot device, the dead mother plot dates back far before Walt Disney's, Snow White and even the literary tales of the Little Mermaid and Cinderella.

  • In fact, one of the first uses of this plot, was from ninth century China with the telling of Ye Xian.

  • Why was it a traditional plot device in the first place?

  • Her second theory, much like Don Hahn's, expands on it by saying that when the mother dies, the character development begins, the plot and personality of that character, depends on that death and others support Boxer's theory.

  • Carroll Endeavor, an English professor, wrote that character development begins in the space of the missing mother, and child psychologist, Bruno Bettelheim, agrees.

  • Society still carries the notion that the mom is a primary parent and that the dad is the secondary parent, since the mother is the one who carries.

  • So when the mother dies, it tugs on the heartstrings of the viewer and perhaps if it was the father, that was always passing away instead of the mother, it would hit too close to home for a lot of society since 23 percent of families have single mothers, while only four have single fathers.

  • The death of the mother, also allows us as the audience to dislike or hold a grudge against the villains and stepmothers of the stories, that in many cases killed the mother.

Once upon a time, it's how all classic Disney stories go.

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