Killing the main character’s father is a well-known trope in movies. This is because the death of a loved one provides a huge emotional hurdle for the protagonist to overcome. But sometimes, these parents are already deceased as soon as the movie begins.
These types of deaths feel like a footnote in history. In some cases, neither the protagonist nor anyone else mentions the death of a parent. As a result, the public is left with no explanation for his death and must accept that he will not play a major role in the plot. Even so, killing these characters so casually can seem random and very unnecessary.
10/10 Pocahontas’s mother is only referenced with the spirit of her daughter.
Chief Powhatan often tells Pocahontas that she embodies her mother’s adventurous spirit, but that is all that is known of her. In Pocahontas, her mother barely gets a line of acknowledgment, leading viewers to wonder what happened to her.
Also, his supposed death doesn’t add any real value to the story. In the story, Pocahontas’s mother is Nonoma Winanuske Matatiske, but she doesn’t even get a name in Disney’s retelling. Other than the occasional reference to the free-spirited Pocahontas, neither his mother nor the nature of her demise are directly mentioned.
9/10 The death of Hogarth Hughes’s father is never directly addressed (The Iron Giant)
Not much is known about the father of Hogarth Hughes in The iron Giant, but the public can assume that he is deceased based on the few lines about him. After Hogarth laughs, his mother, Annie, comments that she sounds just like her father. Hogarth then replies that she misses him.
Although never stated outright, it is implied that Mr. Hughes was killed in action while serving in the Air Force. Other than leaving a father figure void in Hogarth’s life, his death serves no other purpose. But eventually, even this reason proves useless, as the movie focuses more on the developing friendship between Hogarth and the Iron Giant.
8/10 The public never finds out about Belle’s mother (Beauty and the Beast)
As soon as Bella interacts with her father in Beauty and the Beast, fans suspect that her mother is not in the photo. She plays no role in the story and her name or whereabouts are never confirmed.
While Disney’s 2017 version of Beauty and the Beastattempts to provide a bit of backstory to Belle’s relationship with her mother, the original 1991 version pays no attention to it. The supposed death of her feels like she was only scripted to simplify the story. Other than that, there’s no valid reason for Bella not to have a mother figure.
7/10 Raya has no mother and no one mentions it (Raya and the last dragon)
Most of Raya’s trip in Raya and the last dragon it involves saving his people from the Druun. While one of his main goals is to reverse his father’s transformation to stone, nothing is known about his mother. Raya’s mother is never mentioned, nor does she provide him with emotional motivation.
While it would have been simple to have both of her parents imprisoned in stone, the movie chooses to kill her off. The choice is most likely intended to keep the plot simple, but would also have required minimal effort to include Raya’s mother in the story. As a result, her supposed death feels out of place and meaningless.
6/10 Ariel’s mother is not discussed until The Little Mermaid prequel
Although fans finally get answers about the fate of Ariel’s mother in the prequel, The Little Mermaid: The Beginning of Ariel, are initially left in the dark in The little Mermaid. The film prioritizes Ariel and her father’s tumultuous relationship, but there is never any hint of Queen Athena’s existence.
What’s even stranger is that the nature of her disappearance is never mentioned in the original movie. In the prequel, Athena is killed by humans, which fits perfectly with King Triton’s main fears about Ariel going to the surface. If her death had been mentioned in the original, there might be more reasons for it. But as she is, she’s never mentioned to him, which makes her disappearance feel unnecessary.
5/10 Odette’s mother dies giving birth off-screen (The Swan Princess)
at the beginning of the swan princess, King William receives his daughter Odette as soon as she is born. While he shows her her kingdom and joyfully celebrates her birth, her queen is never shown on screen or referenced. Odette’s mother is supposed to have died giving birth.
This choice is especially disturbing considering that Odette’s first appearance is as a newborn, implying that her mother was alive only moments ago. With such a jarring opening, the death of Odette’s mother feels unexpected and unnecessary. The film shows no indication of the king’s grief at her passing, nor of Odette’s curiosity about what her mother was like. She could easily have stayed alive for as long as her husband.
4/10 Tiana’s father did not need to be killed (The Princess and the Frog)
Tiana’s father in The princess and the frog Help your daughter realize the importance of working hard to achieve her dreams. James is a strong role model who motivates Tiana to open her own family restaurant.
That’s why it feels cheap for him to die off-screen. The only hints of her death come from a photo of her from Tiana’s military service in Tiana’s wardrobe and when she and her mother refer to him in the past tense. While Tiana works to keep her memory alive, James’ death doesn’t impact the story enough to be warranted.
3/10 Donna Sheridan dies before the start of Mamma Mia Here We Go Again
Many fans of Oh my gosh! were shocked and upset to find out that Meryl Streep’s Donna doesn’t appear in its sequel, Oh my gosh! Here we go again. Early on, Sophie reveals that Donna died between the two movies.
While audiences suspect that Meryl Streep failed to reprise her role, her character’s death feels completely unnecessary from a story perspective. The sequel focuses on Donna as a young woman as she meets Sam, Harry, and Bill and seeks a brief fling with each of them. While the flashbacks are sweet and honor the memory of the character, having Sophie marry without her mother makes almost no sense. The story would have been much more impactful if Donna had been able to share her memories with her daughter in the present day.
2/10 Both of Hiro’s parents passed away without explanation (Big Hero 6)
Hiro Hamada can’t seem to catch a break when he loses the ones he loves in Big hero 6. During the movie, Hiro loses his older brother Tadashi in a fire, but this isn’t the first time he has had to mourn a family member.
In the opening scene, Hiro reveals that his parents died when he was young. The loss of his parents never comes into play in the film, and it is never revealed how Hiro and his brother came to live with his aunt Cass. Since Hiro has already lost his brother, he feels too harsh and unimportant that his parents are dead. He adds nothing to the story and only serves to add to Hiro’s emotional trauma.
1/10 Dorothy is already living with her aunt and uncle at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz
Although never addressed, Dorothy Gale is an orphan following her introduction into The Wizard of Oz. He lives with his Aunt Em and Uncle Henry on their farm, and it is assumed that his parents are no longer alive.
It is clear that Dorothy loves her aunt and uncle dearly, as she will stop at nothing to return home to them. She is even willing to fight the Wicked Witch of the West to be reunited with her family. Still, she could just as easily have longed to return to her birth parents in Kansas. Instead, her parental figures are removed from the story without explanation.
NEXT: 10 Most Brutal Deaths In The MCU