Disney Movie Mistakes That Will Leave You Scratching Your Head

By Pete JohnsonLast Updated Sep 1, 2020 12:13:10 PM ET
Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

Disney is one of the biggest names in the film industry, which means the company has a lot of money available to make its movies nothing less than perfect. But just like Mulan’s attempt to battle in disguise, not everything goes smoothly. In fact, Disney movies have quite a few mistakes, plot holes and inconsistencies that you may or may not have noticed before.

Most people don't spot all of these errors on their own without someone else pointing them out. But, a warning: Once you discover these mistakes, the films will never be the same again.

Cinderella Had a One-of-a-Kind Shoe Size

Cinderella starts out as the servant to her malicious stepmother and stepsisters, but after meeting her Fairy Godmother, her luck changes. The Fairy Godmother gets Cinderella the fancy attire to attend a prince's ball, where the two hit it off. However, her midnight curfew has Cinderella running, leaving her glass slipper behind.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Productions/IMDb

The prince then vows to marry the girl whose foot fits into that slipper, but Cinderella gets trapped by her evil stepfamily. What's strange is that her shoe size was so unique that, of the entire nearby population of young women, no one else's foot fit into the slipper.

Elsa's Shackles Should Have Shattered

At one point in Frozen, a Disney film that has become a favorite for children and adults across the globe, Elsa is locked up waiting to hear her sentencing. Her shackles are made of metal. Using her powers to create ice, she frees herself from the shackles. However, the shackles bend as she uses her ice power, and that goes against science.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

Very cold temperatures cause metal to shatter, not bend. It’s when metal is heated up that it becomes malleable and can bend. Due to the excitement of Elsa freeing herself, most people probably didn't think twice about this.

Mulan Couldn’t Have Fooled Everyone That Long

Based on medieval Chinese folklore, Mulan is the story of a young girl who joins the armed forces disguised as a man so she can help defend her country's honor. She does prove herself to be quite a capable soldier, and at the time, that could maybe have led her fellow soldiers to believe she was a man — but probably not.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

Mulan is with her soldier peers all day, every day, for a long time. It’s highly unrealistic to think that no one would have figured out her biological sex. Needless to say, that's a pretty significant, questionable plot element.

Ariel's Hair Is Always Dry

The Little Mermaid is a Disney classic following the adventures of mermaid princess Ariel. Underwater life was just not enough for her, especially when she rescued and fell in love with a human prince and found a way (through some dark magic) to be with him on land.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

One very curious thing is that Ariel's hair, no matter if she's underwater, recently out of the water or out of water for a long time, is always dry. Do mermaids have an altogether different kind of hair that never gets wet? They must.

The Beast Should’ve Been Younger in His Old Portrait

In Beauty and the Beast, a curse turned a young, handsome and egotistical young prince into a monstrous animal. The curse stipulated that the only way the Beast could return to his human form was if he could find true love before he turned 21.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

One remnant in the movie of the Beast's former human life is a portrait Belle finds in a hidden room in the castle. Since the Beast has been under the curse for a decade, that should have made him 11 years old in the portrait. However, he looks much older.

Tarzan's American Accent Doesn’t Make Sense

Tarzan, as a baby, was raised in the jungle by apes. When he reaches adulthood, he finally encounters an English man and his daughter Jane, who end up teaching him English. Before this, we can safely assume that the only language Tarzan spoke was that of the jungle.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios & Edgar Rice Burroughs/IMDb

Once he learns to speak, though, he speaks like an American. How can this be the case when his only exposure to the language comes from English people with English accents? By all accounts, Tarzan should most definitely share the same accent.

Roger and Anita Must Have Had a Secret Trust Fund

Having one dog is not necessarily cheap. Having 101 dogs, like in Disney's 101 Dalmatians, requires a lot of money. It’s probably safe to say that anyone who embarks on such an endeavor should have a lot of disposable income. The couple who own the dogs, Roger and Anita, don't appear to be all that financially comfortable, though.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Productions/IMDb

Roger is a songwriter struggling to make it in the industry, and Anita's career remains unknown. The only way this could’ve worked is if the couple somehow inherited a large sum of money in order to afford raising so many dogs.

Finding Dory Got Its Octopus Biology Wrong

One of the characters in Finding Dory, Hank the octopus, is known for only having seven arms. Apparently, he lost one of his arms in an incident. This would be fine, except octopus biology is a bit more awesome than human biology where missing limbs are concerned.

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Photo Courtesy: BagoGames/Flickr

When an octopus loses an arm, it doesn't take long for the creature to grow a new one. So, it doesn't make sense that Hank only has seven arms. At the very least, a new one should be growing in at some point during the movie.

Rapunzel's Parents Never Sent a Search Team

Tangled is the story of Princess Rapunzel, who is kidnapped by a wicked woman named Mother Gothel. Instead of panicking and using all of their royal resources to find their daughter, Rapunzel's parents have an annual birthday party for her instead, thinking she’ll miraculously turn up to celebrate.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

Meanwhile, Rapunzel is locked in a tower — a tower that isn't particularly well-hidden, either. The fact that Rapunzel's parents never thought to formally search for her or check to see if she was in that ominous tower seems a bit peculiar and unrealistic.

Princess Jasmine in a Hood Still Looks Like Princess Jasmine

Princess Jasmine and "street rat" Aladdin first meet in the streets of Agrabah because Jasmine has grown tired of the fakeness and isolation of her royal life. In order to escape the castle, she disguises herself in a cloak with a big hood. This is apparently enough for no one to realize who she is.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

Meanwhile, under her cloak and hood, she's still wearing her fancy princess clothes and her big gold earrings, which are constantly peeking out. That fact that no one would recognize her as the princess is simply absurd.

Pocahontas and John Smith Never Fell in Love

Disney's version of Pocahontas is far from historically accurate. Pocahontas and John Smith did not fall in love when they met, in part because John was 27 years old and Pocahontas was around 9 or 10 years old. No romance occurred between them whatsoever.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

They did develop a sort of friendship, the kind a child and an adult can sometimes have, though that's it. As far as Pocahontas saving John's life goes, that's false too. While the changes Disney made were certainly entertaining, they shouldn't serve as a history lesson.

WALL-E Never Actually Compacts Trash

The premise of Disney's WALL-E is that humans have deserted Earth and are living in space. What remains on Earth are millions of robots called WALL-E units designed to clean up the planet by compacting all the trash left behind so that humans can come back someday.

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Photo Courtesy: Pixar Animation Studios/IMDb

The main WALL-E character never actually seems to compact any trash though. What he does is simply reshape the garbage he finds into something of a similar size — hardly what he was built for. If WALL-E was a dysfunctional model, that probably should have been mentioned.

Nala's Eye Color Is Always Changing

One of Disney's most famous movies is The Lion King, and no mistake in its production will ever take that honor away. That being said, there’s a glaring error in the film that deserves mentioning. Simba's supportive lady-friend, Nala, has a constantly shifting eye color. In one moment her eyes are blue. In the next, they're green.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures/IMDb

An animal's eye color can change over the course of its life, but not from moment to moment as it does for Nala. Fans don't seem to mind though, likely because the plot of the movie is just too good.

The Incredibles Makes an Accidental Jump Into the Future

The Incredibles is set in the 1960s, taking place just after the golden age of superheroes. The movie makes it clear that Mr. Incredible wasn't pleased about his job ending though, which we know from all the newspaper clippings he still has hanging in his office, left over from his old life.

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Photo Courtesy: Pixar Animation Studios/IMDb

Disney's error comes in when Mr. Incredible starts thinking about getting back to his superhero life and the movie pans to a faded newspaper page on his wall with the date September 16, 2002. That date had to be a mistake; that would have been 40 years in the future.

There Are Laughter-filled Inconsistencies in Monsters, Inc.

In Monsters, Inc., we find out that the city of Monstropolis gets its power from children's screams. When one child, Boo, thinks monsters are funny rather than scary, she ends up giggling a lot when they come to frighten her. It’s then revealed that her laughter is actually more powerful than the screams.

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Photo Courtesy: Buena Vista Pictures/IMDb

In fact, her giggles leave Monstropolis with major power outages. This wouldn't be an issue except that Boo has been laughing the entire film. Yet, her early laughter in the movie has no effect. Why does it suddenly have such power?

Brave Has a Big Costuming Error

One of the coolest things about Disney's Brave is that the main character, a girl named Merida, by choice doesn't end up with a prince; she remains happily independent instead. This is real feminism displayed by Disney, and that element is hard to overlook.

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Photo Courtesy: Disney/Pixar/IMDb

Still, one part of the movie gets it all wrong. Historically speaking, Brave takes place during the 10th century. During this time period in Scotland, women did not wear headdresses and men weren’t wearing body paint much anymore. This is a bit of flubbing on the part of the producers, who must have overlooked some history-related details.

Belle's Sudden Superhuman Strength Is Puzzling

The 1990s were a crucial era for Disney: They created hit movie after hit movie, including Beauty and the Beast. A major turning point in the film is when Belle runs from Beast's castle, only to be surrounded by a pack of wolves. Beast comes to her rescue but is injured in the process.

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Photo Courtesy: Diana Gaunt/YouTube

We then see Beast draped over Belle's horse on their way back to the castle. How on Earth did Belle manage to get the Beast onto that horse? He’s a huge guy, after all, and she's a petite woman who doesn’t exactly look like a bodybuilder.

The Toy Story Humans Are Incredibly Unaware

In all the Toy Story movies, the toys come to life when no one is around. The trick is that when humans are with them, they drop to their standard inanimate-toy state. Usually, they’ve moved around quite a bit. It seems hard to believe that humans would never notice their toys aren’t where they left them.

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Photo Courtesy: Pixar Animation Studios/IMDb

Aside from that, the toys have pretty active lives. The fact that no human ever catches a glimpse of them moving around like people is unrealistic, especially because they tend to go outside a lot.

Ariel Is Not the Slightest Bit Reluctant to Eat Seafood

In The Little Mermaid, Ariel's friends are sea creatures of all kinds. Most of her life took place under the sea, surrounded by fish. It’s strange, then, that when she's with Prince Eric on land and his chef brings out freshly cooked seafood, Ariel doesn't even bat an eye.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures/IMDb

While she’s concerned that her pal Sebastian the crab is on a platter (still alive, luckily), the rest of the fish? She couldn't care less about them. What if she’d been hanging out with some of those fish earlier that week?

A Mysterious Poster Appears in Finding Nemo

There's a scene in Finding Nemo in which Nigel (the pelican) makes a big ruckus at a dentist's office to distract the dentist from the fish escaping the tank. It's actually quite an amusing vignette, full of fun and excitement. However, there’s just one little problem.

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Photo Courtesy: Bryan Sigala/YouTube

When the pelican enters the office, viewers can see that the wall has nothing on it. Later, when the dentist manages to get the bird out, there’s suddenly a poster on that once-plain wall. This should’ve been noticed and fixed during post-production, but it wasn't.

There’s a Problem With the Great Wall of China in Mulan

Disney's Mulan is based on a true story, with Mulan disguising herself as a man in order to join the army and defend the Emperor sometime between the years 386 and 538. Knowing these dates, there’s a historical error in the movie's portrayal of the Great Wall of China.

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Photo Courtesy: Scenes and Scores/YouTube

A version of the Great Wall of China, called the Qin wall, was originally built in the third century B.C., but it looked nothing like the one we know today, which was built about 600 years ago. Disney's Mulan mistakenly presents this newer Great Wall.

The Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland Changed Colors

The scene in the forest between Alice and the smoking caterpillar during the Disney cult classic Alice in Wonderland is hard to forget. It's the one in which he sternly yells at Alice, "Keep your temper!" While he’s admonishing her, he momentarily turns red, but then he goes back to blue.

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Photo Courtesy: Aryianna/YouTube

Normally, he has a dark blue belly and a light blue back, but this scene mistakenly reverses his coloring. Perhaps that’s easy to overlook, given the psychedelic quality of the whole movie. The colors, shapes and sizes of objects are changing all the time, after all.

Cinderella Would Never Have Set Up a Mouse Trap

Poor Cinderella's only friends are the mice in the house where her stepmother and stepsisters have turned her into a servant. She's in charge of all the household chores. It's odd, then, that her friend Gus, a mouse, is at one point caught in a mousetrap. Cinderella is shown helping him escape.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Productions/IMDb

The inconsistency here is that the only person who would’ve set up the mousetrap in the first place is Cinderella. Surely the cruel stepmother and stepsisters wouldn’t bother themselves with that task. There’s no way Cinderella would do that to one of her only friends, either.

They Didn't Use Enough Balloons to Lift the House in Up

The movie Up has a logistical issue at its center. The premise is that a house takes flight with the help of lots and lots of balloons lifting it into the air. Of course, there must be a suspension of disbelief to go along with this idea, especially considering that the house would’ve been affixed to the ground with plumbing pipes and electric lines.

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Photo Courtesy: Pixar Animation Studios/IMDb

Still, the film's producers researched the number of balloons it would take to make this premise realistic. Unsurprisingly, they couldn't find a scientific solution, likely because there isn't one. They went along with their best guess anyway.

Not Even Snow White Could Breathe Inside Glass

After Snow White eats the poisoned apple and the seven dwarves presume she has died, the dwarves take care of her. They can't bear to bury her in the ground, so they place her in a glass coffin instead. That does seem like a lovely sentiment, but humans need air to breathe, even when they’re in an apple-poison coma.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Productions/IMDb

Snow White wouldn’t have been able to breathe inside of the glass coffin for too long. She was in there for three days (longer in some legends) before the prince came and kissed her. That's a long time to hold your breath!

Anton Ego Made an Illogical Insult

Disney's Ratatouille is a foodie favorite. One of the main characters is a food critic named Anton Ego. At one point, Ego recalls his final scathing review of Gusteau's restaurant in which he likens the chef to a supposedly lowly food figure, Chef Boyardee — a brand of low-quality canned pasta dishes.

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Photo Courtesy: Pixar Animation Studios/IMDb

Historically, however, Hector Boiardi was an award-winning chef at the Plaza Hotel in New York long before he started his canned-food business. If only Ratatouille's producers had researched this, they wouldn’t have made Anton Ego look so uneducated — or was that the point?

Of Course Moana Wants to Be Near Water

In Disney's Moana, the title character, a teenage girl, is ordered by her parents to stay away from the water. Despite their tribe's deep history with the ocean, getting too close to the water has become dangerous because of a curse from the demigod Maui. It's not the easiest thing to stay away from either, considering the film is set among Polynesian islands.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Animation Studios/IMDb

However, if Moana's parents were so set on her staying away from the water, perhaps they shouldn't have named her Moana, which means "large body of water" in the Hawaiian and Maori languages.

Goofy Has a Pet Dog

Goofy is one of the original Disney characters, along with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy's dog, Pluto. Considering the majority of these animals are anthropomorphic, it's a bit strange that one of them, Pluto, is still a pet. What's even more alarming is that Goofy is a dog, and he also has a pet dog that he walks on a leash.

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Photo Courtesy: Mickey Mouse/YouTube

Why do some animals get to be normal citizens and others end up like Pluto — just regular pets? When you think about it, it really doesn’t make sense.

Lilo Never Got Swooped Up by Social Services

The Disney flick Lilo & Stitch follows Lilo, a little girl whose older sister Nani takes care of her. Throughout the movie, social services is always watching them, so Lilo being taken from her sister is a real threat. You wouldn't necessarily know that by Nani's actions though.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures/IMDb

Lilo is, for some reason, given more freedom than almost any small child should have. She's always wandering around in public all alone, which is how she comes to meet an alien in the first place. Child protective services almost certainly would’ve taken Lilo away if they’d known.


Buzz Lightyear's Behavior Isn’t Consistent

The toys in Toy Story only come alive when humans aren't around. When humans are around, Woody and friends immediately drop to the floor. In the first Toy Story, Buzz Lightyear doesn't realize he’s a toy, though. He thinks he's a real space ranger.

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Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios/IMDb

It doesn’t make sense, then, that Buzz would freeze when humans are around if he doesn't think he's a toy. But he freezes anyway. This is a questionable element of the movie, but it's hard to mind too much when it's such a fun film to watch.