1. The Princess And The Frog (2009)

One of the most subtle not-happy endings is also perhaps the most upsetting. Disney’s The Princess and the Frog puts a voodoo spin on the classic tale, setting the story in 1920s New Orleans and changing its princess into an aspiring chef and business owner. Tiana and Prince Naveen couldn’t be more different, but they’re forced to overcome these differences in order to break the frog curse and achieve Tiana’s dream of owning her own restaurant/nightclub/respectable establishment.

Predictably, the Disney film ends happily, with Tiana and Naveen achieving Tiana’s dream together. Naveen is able to convince Tiana that she needs to learn to have fun, Tiana teaches Naveen the importance of hard work, and the pair fall in love and attain Tiana’s lifelong goal. However, the real-world implications of the story actually make it a far more troubling ending than it seems, as it hints that all will not end well for Tiana and her business.

Tiana and Naveen are Black business owners in the 1920s. That alone would provide a significant obstacle to any lasting success, due to the widely accepted racism of the era. However, even worse, the Great Depression followed shortly after the events of The Princess and the Frog, meaning that not only would Tiana and Naveen have had to contend with racism, but economic crisis, too. The combination of those two factors make the chances for Tiana’s business surviving the years following the film incredibly slim, making The Princess and the Frog‘s happy conclusion remarkably short-lived.

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