Disney musicals are beloved classics, but they’re not without their faults. One such flaw is that in some of these films, there are major characters who don’t sing. This has been happening since Disney’s feature-length debut with 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Is it too much to ask that every hero and heroine get a song? And let’s not forget how important a good villain song is, too. Having a main character who never gets to belt out a song while all the other leads do doesn’t make sense. If these main characters had gotten to sing, their movies would have been so much stronger. As it stands, you feel like something is lacking.
You may not have remembered that some of these characters aren’t musically inclined, or may not have realized it until you really thought about it, but now that you know, it will really bother you. Here are 15 Major Disney Characters You Didn’t Realize Never Sang.
15. Prince Eric (The Little Mermaid)
Prince Eric from 1989’s The Little Mermaid is a surprising case of a Disney prince who doesn’t express himself in song. His love interest, Ariel, gets to sing, but poor Eric doesn’t get even one measure. It seems like a strange decision on Disney’s part, especially because Eric is an official Disney prince, not just a hero.
The singing is part of what makes Disney princes so dreamy. Aladdin, Prince Charming, and Flynn Rider all show off their vocal talent, whether in a captivating solo or a sweet duet. But Eric is silent. You’d think that he would at least get a line of song in “Fathoms Below,” the opening number in which the crew of his ship sing about the sea. But nope, he just comments on how great it is to be in the sea air.
Eric doesn’t sing in the final song, a reprise of “Part of Your World” titled “Happy Ending,” either. The musical accompaniment is provided by an off screen chorus (you would think that King Triton and the merpeople are the source of the voices, but close inspection reveals that their lips aren’t moving). Ariel doesn’t join in either.
It’s frustrating that Eric doesn’t sing because he’s so perfect otherwise. His flowing black hair. His blue eyes. His boyish charm. Alas, with this fault hampering him, he’ll never be one of the best Disney princes.
14. Tarzan (Tarzan)
Tarzan is another Disney hero lacking a musical side. And what’s more, he’s the title character. You might be scratching your head, remembering all those great Phil Collins songs from the 1999 movie. Well, Tarzan didn’t actually sing any of them. Phil Collins sang them as an off-screen voice. in a decision that broke Disney’s musical tradition.
Collins was sometimes an avatar for Tarzan: “Strangers Like Me” is clearly from Tarzan’s perspective. It’s a strange concept, looking back. Other characters in the movie sang, but with the caveat that they shared their songs with Collins. Terk and the gorillas perform “Trashin’ the Camp,” although Phil Collins provides the singing voices for all the gorillas,except for Terk (Rosie O’Donnell was Terk’s speaking and singing voice). Kala (played by Glenn Close) sings “You’ll Be in My Heart,” although the song is taken over part of the way through by an invisible Phil Collins, another move that is weird in retrospective.
Why couldn’t Tarzan have shared a song with Collins too? Having the character of Tarzan not be a singer was something co-director Kevin Lima felt strongly about. “I did not want Tarzan to sing,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 1999. “I just couldn’t see this half-naked man sitting on a branch breaking out in song. I thought it would be ridiculous.”
13. Jane (Tarzan)
At least Disney gives Tarzan an avatar in the form of Phil Collins: Jane doesn’t get anything. It’s a shame because she’s such an strong, intelligent heroine. She’s a brave explorer, she has great drawing skills, and she stands up for herself. Imagine what an empowering song Jane could have had about her her sense of wonder at being the jungle and observing fascinating gorillas. Or what a unique song she could have sung about realizing she was falling in love with Tarzan, despite being from different worlds.
As we see in “Trashin’ the Camp” and “You’ll Be in My Heart,” other characters can share songs with Phil Collins. Why couldn’t Jane? This also makes Jane and Tarzan a non-musical Disney couple. There are no love duets to be found here. It’s pretty strange to have a movie musical in which the two lead characters don’t sing, but the supporting characters do.
12. Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)
Maleficent, the evil sorceress from 1959’s Sleeping Beauty, is one of the most terrifying Disney baddies ever. She has a commanding presence, dangerous powers, and just looks scary with her horns, black cape, and glaring raven sidekick. Even her name is an adjective that means causing harm or destruction. She was even frightening enough to earn her own live-action villain movie 55 years later: 2014’s Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie.
So it’s strange that in the original 1959 film, she didn’t get the villain song she deserved. In her powerful introduction scene, she comes to the castle for the christening of Aurora (otherwise known as Sleeping Beauty), furious that she wasn’t invited. She casts a terrible curse on the baby and disappears. This would have been such a great opportunity to deliver a fierce ballad. You can just imagine how amazing a Maleficent song would be. But it seems it wasn’t in the cards for her.
11. Hades (Hercules)
Hades, the king of the underworld, does not get to sing. Let that sink in. In all of Greek mythology, Disney couldn’t find enough inspiration to write this god a song? At least he gets a song about him. In 1997’s Hercules, Thalia, one of the five muses who serve as the narrators, introduces him with “The Gospel Truth II.” Actually, Hercules and the Muses are the only gods that get to sing. Zeus, Hermes, Hera, and the others don’t get to perform, although their part are smaller than Hades’.
Given that Hades (who is voiced by James Woods) strikes a balance between evil and hilarious, who knows what a song from him might have been like? Funny? Scheming? One of each? How about a group number with his minions Pain (Bobcat Goldthwait) and Panic (Matt Frewer), who are also hilarious? We’ll just have to imagine how this could have turned out.
10. Peter Pan (Peter Pan)
Oddly, even though he’s the title character, we don’t ever hear Peter Pan‘s singing voice in the 1953 movie. The memorable tune “The Second Star to the Right” is an opening title number that is sung by an off-screen chorus. In “You Can Fly! You Can Fly! You Can Fly!,” the song in which Peter helps Wendy, John, and Michael learn to soar, he doesn’t sing. In fact, none of them do. They just talk over the music until the off screen chorus takes over for the melody.
It would have been so easy for the children to sing their version of the song and still have the chorus take over after. None of them sing the song’s finale reprise either. And, although Peter is the impetus that begins “Following the Leader” by making John the temporary leader of the Lost Boys while he shows Wendy the mermaids, he departs and the track is sung in unison by John, Michael, and the other boys.
9. King Triton (The Little Mermaid)
He may be the king of the ocean, but unfortunately, that doesn’t qualify King Triton to get a song. This is strange because it’s clearly important to him that his daughters be musical. He’s made sure every single one of them gets musical training from Sebastian. We know Ariel has a great voice, and her sisters do too, as we hear in “Daughters of Triton.” Maybe they got their musical talent from their mother and King Triton is tone deaf. Or maybe, for some reason, he just doesn’t get a chance to sing in the 1989 film.
It would have been easy to have him sing in the film’s finale, “Happy Ending,” but Disney made the decision to give that song to an off screen chorus. King Triton and the other mermaids and mermen are left mutely waving goodbye to Ariel. This is the first and only time an off screen chorus is used in the film. Why introduce them in the last few minutes when there are characters on screen who could sing this song?
8. Bambi (Bambi)
Bambi is yet another title character who doesn’t sing. Actually, none of the characters do. All the singing is done by off screen voices. Bambi, his mom, and the other animals do talk, however. When it first came out in 1940, Bambi lost money at the box and received mixed reviews from critics. However, over the years, public opinion of Bambi has changed and it is now considered a classic. Still, it doesn’t have the most memorable songs.
Do you remember tunes like “Little April Shower,” “Let’s Sing a Gay Little Spring Song?,” and “Looking for Romance (I Bring You a Song)?” Probably not. Being sung off screen doesn’t necessarily doom a song though: “Circle of Life” and “Strangers Like Me,” along with all the Tarzan songs Phil Collins performs, are classics. Perhaps what made Bambi‘s soundtrack unmemorable was the combination of the tracks not being sung by the characters and the unexciting songwriting.
7. The Sultan (Aladdin)
The first injustice done to the Sultan, Princess Jasmine’s father, is that we don’t know his full name. It’s super annoying when Disney doesn’t give its characters actual names. Why can’t we have this basic information about each character?
The fact that the Sultan doesn’t get to sing in 1992’s Aladdin is the second blow he is dealt by Disney. He’s present for “Prince Ali,” but he just watches. He doesn’t join in for the finale, “Happy End in Agrabah.” Backup vocals for Aladdin and Jasmine are provided by an off screen chorus.
The Sultan is one of the few Disney parents who’s around for their child. Even though he insists that Jasmine get married when she doesn’t want to, he does it from a place of love. He knows he isn’t going to be around forever and he wants her to be taken care of. Why not give a good parent like that more screen time with a song?
6. Phoebus (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Captain Phoebus is yet another Disney hero who doesn’t sing. What makes this even more perplexing is that his love interest, Esmeralda, does.
This is especially strange because Phoebus is voiced by Kevin Kline, who is a trained singer and has an extensive musical theater resume. He has sung on Broadway in musicals like The Pirates of Penzance and On the Twentieth Century. He won a Tony Award for both of these roles. He also reprised his Pirates of Penzance role in the 1983 film. He even starred and sang in the animated DreamWorks musical The Road to El Dorado, in which he played Tulio– one of the biggest animated musicals to compete with Disney. Why would you have this vocal talent and not use it?
Although Phoebus is present in the musical numbers “The Court of Miracles” and “The Bells of Notre Dame (Reprise),” he doesn’t sing. The 1996 film is based on the 510-page novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (Les Misérables). In all those pages, Disney couldn’t have found some material to turn into a song for this character?
5. The Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
The Queen from 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a villain who doesn’t get what she deserves from Disney. First of all, she doesn’t even get a real name. And second of all, even though she is one of the most truly terrifying Disney baddies, she is robbed of a villain song.
Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is based on “Snow White,” the fairy tale from The Brothers Grimm. This dark and fascinating story provides a rich basis that Disney could have drawn on to write a song for the Queen, but they decided not to. There’s an instrumental theme on the soundtrack called “Queen Theme,” but it’s less than a minute long and it’s underwhelming. Way to add insult to injury.
4. Flounder (The Little Mermaid)
Flounder is Ariel’s best friend, but apparently that’s not enough to earn him a song in The Little Mermaid. You might think that Flounder was one of the sea creatures who joined in while Sebastian sang “Under the Sea,” but he didn’t utter a note. Flounder is present during Under the Sea, but he’s too focused on grabbing Ariel and ditching Sebastian’s presentation about how they’re now allowed to go above the surface.
Sebastian’s next big number, “Kiss the Girl,” also features backup vocal from his fellow animals. Even Scuttle sings along, although he has a terrible voice and is quickly silence by some flamingos. Flounder helps contribute to the romantic atmosphere, swimming around Ariel and Eric’s boat. But he doesn’t sing in this number either.
Although he says a sweet goodbye to Ariel in the movie’s finale, he isn’t anywhere to be seen when the chorus starts singing during “Happy Ending.” Actually all of Ariel’s sea creature and animal friends disappear by this time: Sebastian and Scuttle are gone too. It’s just King Triton and the merpeople who stay to watch and wave as Ariel’s ship sails into the horizon. Weird… you’d think that Flounder, Sebastian, and Scuttle would stay for that part.
3. Mufasa (The Lion King)
Simba’s father Mufasa is a very significant part of 1994’s The Lion King. After Mufasa dies a tragic and untimely death in a wildebeest stampede, Scar manages to convince young Simba that he should blame himself, and Simba flees, leaving Scar to ascend to the throne.
Later, in a particularly moving scene, adult Simba sees Mufasa’s ghost in the stars. Mufasa convinces him to return to his kingdom, which sorely needs him, and take back the throne.
Despite Mufasa’s influence on the movie, he doesn’t perform in any songs. He’s present during the end of “Circle of Life,” but he doesn’t sing. In fact, none of the animals do. The song is performed by the offscreen voices of Carmen Twillie and Lebo M. With the exception of Mufasa, The Lion King is a film in which every major character sings. This makes Mufasa’s absence from the musical numbers stand out even more.
2. The Blue Fairy (Pinocchio)
You would think that the Blue Fairy would get to sing. After all, other Disney fairies do, including Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother and Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather from Sleeping Beauty. But alas, she doesn’t.
The most famous song from the film, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” is sung by Jiminy Cricket, but during the scene in which the Blue Fairy first appears to make Pinocchio a real boy, there’s no song. The Blue Fairy has all the other markings of a Disney heroine: she’s beautiful, kind, and wise. But unfortunately, she’s not musical.
The Blue Fairy is one of the only female characters in the 1940 movie, so it feels like a big ommission that she doesn’t get a song. Is it really necessary to have a reprise of “Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee,” the song that John Worthington Foulfellow (also known as Honest John) the fox gets to sing, if the Blue Fairy doesn’t even get a single song?
1. Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians)
The song “Cruella de Vil” is not actually sung by Cruella. This makes sense, since it’s about her and how evil she is, with lyrics like “Cruella De Vil/Cruella De Vil/If she doesn’t scare you/No evil thing will.” It would be strange if she was singing in the third person. Instead, Roger performs it. But this also makes Cruella de Vil another iconic Disney villain who doesn’t get a song.
This decision makes a little bit of sense when you consider that the 1961 film only had three songs, and the other two besides “Cruella de Vil” barely count. One of them is the jarring, baby-voice-filled “Kanine Krunchies,” the tune for a commercial the dogs watch on TV. It comes it at a mere 30 seconds long. The other is a one-minute long song Roger sings in the finale called “Dalmatian Plantation.”
At least 101 Dalmatians‘ best song is about Cruella de Vil.
How many of these Disney characters did you know didn’t sing? Who should get a song? Let us know in the comments!