Why Cruella’s Mother Had To Die

Cruella‘s origin story revealed the event that shaped the Disney villain person into that fans know her to be — the death of her mother. The 101 Dalmatians timeline prequel chronicles her dark character development over the course of about a decade, ending with her becoming a fully realized villain. That journey was fueled by her mother’s death, which is exactly why she needed to die.

Her story begins when she’s simply just a young aspiring fashion designer named Estella — it’s just her and her mom against the world. But when her mother dies in a tragic accident, Estella is taken in by a pair of thieves. The trio builds a life for themselves but becomes upended when Estella begins working for fashion design icon Baroness von Hellman. But when Estella learns a devastating secret about the Baroness’ past, she embraces her wicked side in order to become Cruella.


On the surface, the death of Cruella’s mother might look like yet another example of Disney’s dead mom trope. But Cruella’s journey from thief to villain wouldn’t have been complete without it. As one of the most iconic villains in Disney history, she needed a tragedy to get her there. The death of her mother was the perfect catalyst.

Cruella demonstrates that people aren’t born villains. While she did possess a wicked side, Estella was a sweet and curious girl at her core. Losing her mom drove her to a dark emotional place as an adult. But the thing that truly turned her into Cruella wasn’t the fact that her mom had died, but the specific circumstances surrounding her mother’s death. In Cruella‘s climax, she gets the devastating news that changes everything. The Baroness and her dogs were the reason that Estella’s mother was dead. That discovery caused Estella to permanently transform into Cruella.

A good villain origin story adds depth and layers to the existing character. 101 Dalmatians didn’t explore what made Cruella tick. So, her origin story had to. A villain who is evil just for the sake of it simply is overdone. Disney has been churning out a steady stream of remakes and prequels for quite some time now, so it needed to do something to set Cruella apart from the pack. While killing off a character’s parent is an overdone Disney trope, it complicated Cruella in a fascinating way. She may end up being a fully-fledged villain, but she started off as a loyal young woman with people in her life that she cared about. The journey from point A to point B is why enough people watched Cruella to earn it a sequel, and it was all thanks to the death of her mother.

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Brynne Ramella (370 Articles Published)

Brynne is a lifelong lover of movies hailing from Chicago. Ever since discovering “The Ring” at age 13, she’s had a slightly sadistic love affair with horror movies. Tweet her your horror movie recommendations @brynneramella. Please — she’s running out of movies to watch.

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