At the end of the film, Tarzan and Clayton engage in a vicious confrontation as the protagonist fights to protect his family of gorillas from the nefarious intentions of the hunter, who murders the patriarch of the gorillas, Kerchak (Lance Henriksen). During their skirmish, Clayton falls and becomes trapped in a tangle of vines. In an attempt to free himself with a knife, Clayton inadvertently creates a noose, hanging himself. Surprisingly, the shadow of his swinging body is shown on the screen.
At Reddit, u/JMueller2012 posted, “Clayton’s death in Tarzan (1999) has to be Disney’s most brutal death scene to date.” Other users agreed, citing the shot as an unexpected “haunting” choice in the animated film. U/Acrimony shared, “It took years for me to see the figure. The first time I saw it, I got chills down my spine.” A deleted user added“I think Tarzan is considered more gruesome because you see him happen… [Y]You see it all unfold and the sudden end of the [villain’s] life, of course, you don’t see the neck snapping, but you see the body swinging against the lightning.”
As these viewers note, the death scene, while slightly obscured in the distance, arguably goes a bit too far largely due to its graphic nature – especially in a movie made for young children. In this way, the animated classic joins the list of Disney movies that have historically incorporated dark and chilling deaths into their storytelling (via Watch Mojo).