I’m going to preface this article by saying that I love Tangled, and I love Disney. Tangled is one of the bridges that connects Old Disney to New Disney; it keeps the joy and magic of older Disney films while bringing in new styles and stories that are most enjoyable to younger generations. It ushers in the new era of CGI-animated Princess movies, like Brave, Frozen, and Moana — all movies that I’ve watched students, younger relatives, and children I babysat fall in love with just as much as I did as an adult.
That being said, analyzing beloved movies to shreds and pointing out plot holes is the greatest pastime for the Internet age. And I regret to inform you… that there are some things about Tangled that just don’t make sense.
I’m sorry. I know. You may commence the booing.
But while writing this article, I watched the movie, the 2012 short Tangled Ever After, and the first few episodes of Tangled: The Series (which, side note, is actually… really good). I fell down entire research rabbit holes. I ranted about some of it to the supportive but politely confused faces, family, and coworkers. And guess what? I still loved every second of it. You can analyze the heck out of something, realize parts of it made no sense, and still absolutely adore it for no real reason other than… you just do.
So make no mistake — compiling this list of 25 Tangled plot holes was absolutely a labor of love. I'm certain that reading it will you will feel the same way.
During the song "When Will My Life Begin,” we learn that Rapunzel is a pretty mean baker. Her tower has a kitchen, and she clearly has access to fire to cook with. We also know that the only entrance and stairs to the tower were walled up by Mother Gothel.
So here’s a little-considered but incredibly important question: What is Rapunzel expected to do in the event of a fire? Or any emergency situation, really? Has Mother Gothel really left her only ticket to immortality without a comprehensive fire escape plan?
If you live alone and you’re inside most of the time, there’s no problem with kicking off your shoes. Being barefoot is comfortable. While it’s true that Rapunzel keeping her bare feet throughout the movie helps symbolize her naivete, the movie also omits the usual obstacle that stops us from just being barefoot all the time — debris. There’s no way Rapunzel went the whole movie without stepping on a branch or stubbing her toe on a rock.
She’s also barefoot while dancing on tables in the Snugly Duckling, which is probably some kind of health code violation. “No shirt, no shoes, no service” policies exist for a reason.
Rapunzel’s official Disney profile lists her hair as 70 feet long. According to some Redditor math, that would make her hair weigh almost 21 pounds. Imagine having a twenty-pound weight hanging off of your scalp every day. Rapunzel must have the world’s most toned neck. That’s not even mentioning her biceps, which probably also get a workout from hauling her hair around all the time and lifting her arms up to brush it.
It’s worth noting that some Redditors argue that her hair’s magical properties might also make her hair lighter than typical hair, and therefore easier to sport and maintain. However, this is speculation at best.
During the scene where Rapunzel and Eugene are trapped in a flooding cave, Rapunzel reveals that her hair is magic and sings to use its light to illuminate the cave. They are able to swim to the bottom, find a weak spot in the cave wall, and move enough rocks to burst through.
If Rapunzel was taken to the tower shortly after birth, and she had never left her tower before her adventure with Eugene, how does Rapunzel know how to swim? Maybe adrenaline and survival instincts could help her quickly figure out staying afloat, but swimming to the bottom and helping Eugene move some rocks is a bit of a stretch.
Side note: How much does Rapunzel’s hair weigh when it’s wet? My scalp hurts just thinking about it.
A few movies have attempted sassy horse sidekicks, but few have done it as well as Tangled. Maximus is pretty cool. He’s smart, capable in combat, and twice as competent as literally any other guard from the kingdom Rapunzel hails from. When Eugene outmaneuvers the guards after stealing the royal crown, Maximus still manages to track Eugene down all by himself.
Even after Maximus joins forces with Eugene and Rapunzel, he really seems to be running the show. He appears to be the mastermind of the plan to break Eugene out of prison so they can rescue Rapunzel.
Is everybody in the Tangled world just completely chill with taking orders from a horse? At the end of the day, Maximus doesn’t even have thumbs and that's going to limit him a little bit.
Mother Gothel breaks into the royal castle and takes Rapunzel from the king and queen’s own bedroom. You’d think that after something like that, they’d buff up their security, but Flynn Rider and the Stabbington Brothers manage to successfully steal Rapunzel’s crown from the castle eighteen years later. Not even a few days after that, Maximus and the thugs from the Snuggly Duckling help break Flynn out of prison so he can rescue Rapunzel from Mother Gothel. The point is that if you’re a giant, prosperous kingdom, your most capable guard shouldn’t be a horse.
During the epilogue of Tangled, we hear Eugene declare that they do, eventually, get married, and Rapunzel sports the short-cropped brown hair she gets during her final confrontation with Mother Gothel. The 2012 short Tangled Ever After shows us what happens at the wedding, and Rapunzel still has her brown hair.
This all goes out the window during the Disney Channel TV movie Tangled: Before Ever After, where Rapunzel actually gets her long, blonde hair back! The blonde hair remains in Tangled: The Series as well, and we also learn that the magic that brought the hair back also made it indestructible. The show has yet to address if Rapunzel’s hair will go back to brown before her big wedding to Eugene, and if so, how? Here’s hoping it gets addressed in future seasons!
This one is straight from the IMDB goofs page. According to a Collider interview with Tangled creators Byron Howard and Nathan Greno, the movie takes place around 1780. During the song “Mother Knows Best”, we see Rapunzel using matches to light candles extinguished by Mother Gothel.
This isn’t really possible, because modern matches weren’t invented until 1805, and friction matches weren’t invented until 1826 (although it’s difficult to determine what kind of match Rapunzel is using). And while we know that Rapunzel has many talents — such as baking, sewing, playing the guitar, and painting — we also know that inventing doesn’t seem to be one of them.
Mother Gothel cuts a strand of hair from baby Rapunzel, and it turns brown and loses its magic, prompting her to steal the child so she can stay young. Rapunzel later shows this strand of hair to Eugene—the brown strand is much shorter than the rest of her hair.
Is Rapunzel’s hair completely incapable of growing once it’s cut? It would make sense for the strand that got cut to lose its magic, or even change color, but having the hair stop growing altogether seems like a bit much.
It’s a fairly well-known Easter-egg that Rapunzel and Eugene are seen in the background of Frozen during the song “For the First Time in Forever”. When Anna opens the gates to Arendelle’s castle for the coronation ceremony, you can spot Rapunzel’s short hair and pink-and-purple dress among the crowd. According to a map shown in the Frozen Fever short, the events of Frozen take place sometime in 1839.
If creators of Tangled say that it takes place around 1780, and Rapunzel is 18 during the evens of Tangled, this would make Rapunzel 77 during the events of Frozen.
Right before her eighteenth birthday, Rapunzel asks if Mother Gothel will take her into the kingdom to see the lanterns. Mother Gothel appears to have no idea what Rapunzel is talking about. Does this mean that Mother Gothel has never been around for Rapunzel’s actual birthday?
It’s possible that Mother Gothel might just be acting dumb to play down the significance of the lanterns appearing on Rapunzel’s birthday every year. Which is kind of an oversight all of its own; if Mother Gothel had told Rapunzel that her birthday was on some day other than the literal festival of lights, Rapunzel might have been less inclined to leave the tower to go see them. Am I a better villain than Mother Gothel herself? Perhaps.
IMDB credits the lantern scene as having 45,000 lanterns in the background, and that's just from one year! Corona has been putting this festival on for eighteen. How has nothing caught on fire yet? That’s 45,000 individual opportunities for houses probably made of wood and thatched roofs to light up.
And how bad is the cleanup after the festival? Are there just thousands of lanterns accrued from eighteen years of lantern ceremonies just chilling at the bottom of the lake? Does it affect the wildlife and flora of the nearby ecosystem?
How often does Mother Gothel actually come to check in on Rapunzel? It seems like Rapunzel has a lot of alone time, and Mother Gothel is Rapunzel’s only source of companionship. Also, her only source of groceries. What does she get up to outside of the tower?
And there doesn’t appear to be a second bedroom in the tower, so it doesn’t look like Gothel stays in the tower much (although making Rapunzel sleep on the floor when she visits does seem like a very Mother Gothel thing to do.)
It takes Rapunzel and Eugene about a day to walk to the kingdom of Corona. It’s there that she sees a mural of the lost Princess, the sun motif she subconsciously remembered and painted all over her room, and other things that help her eventually infer that she is that kingdom’s lost Princess.
Why would Mother Gothel keep Rapunzel that close to the kingdom when she could have avoided this discovery by whisking the princess away to literally anywhere else? The tower is pretty sweet real estate, but is it worth risking one’s only source of immortality? Probably not.
In the original Brothers Grimm fairytale, a poor man steals some rapunzel (sometimes also called rampion) from a witch’s garden to satisfy his pregnant wife’s cravings. When he is captured, he agrees to give up his firstborn child if he can bring some of the parsnip-like plants back to his wife. When the child is born, the witch takes her away and gives her the name Rapunzel.
In Tangled, there’s no rampion exchanged, so it begs the question who named the kid after a parsnip — and furthermore, why?
Any list of iconic Disney villain anthems would be remiss not to include two-time Tony Award-winner Donna Murphy’s performance of “Mother Knows Best”. It’s catchy, its menacing while still being entertaining, and it’s got that theatrical flair that hearkens back to Disney musicals of old.
Where did Mother Gothel even learn to sing like that? Why be a villainous, craddle-robbing witch when she could easily sell out shows? She’s had hundreds of years to hone her theatrical craft. Everyone knows that true immortality comes from the lives your music touches long after you’re gone.
The prologue, as told by Eugene, explains that the magical golden flower grew when “…a single drop of sunlight fell from the heavens.” Perhaps this is Eugene narrating in his own, melodramatic, Flynn-Rider way, but the light doesn’t really have any physical properties, let alone the ability to form a ‘drop’. And if it were possible for a drop of sunlight to fall to earth, the ground it landed on would be absolutely eviscerated – because the sun is about 5,778 degrees, Kelvin.
Mother Gothel is referred to as a witch several times in Tangled, but we never see her using any magic. It’s true that she can use the flower (and, later, Rapunzel’s hair) to restore her youth, but this is an ability that Rapunzel also possesses; theoretically, anyone who knows that the magic is activated by singing can do this.
It's true that Mother Gothel is an actual witch in the original fairy tale, but in Tangled, we never see Mother Gothel make anything float, or fly, or cast any kind of spell to imply that she’s actually a witch. When Mother Gothel confronts Eugene, she even tries to take care of him the old-fashioned way. So why call her a witch, aside from the fact that she’s just kind of mean?
Keeping 70 feet of hair clean is probably hard work. In an isolated area like her tower, it might be possible — if you keep the floors clean, keep your hair off the ground whenever possible (such as we see her doing in the rafters of the tower) and brush it regularly. But once Rapunzel leaver her tower, it should be basically impossible. Her hair is literally dragging on the ground for parts of the movie. How is her hair not covered in dirt and leaves?
When Mother Gothel fatally wounds Eugene, he cuts off Rapunzel’s hair so she can be free of the witch. By doing so, however, he dooms himself to tragedy. Rapunzel sings her song and tries to heal him anyway, and her tears end up bringing him back to life. This is never really explained.
Is Rapunzel herself magic? Was it the power of love that healed Eugene? Was bringing Eugene back from the dead the last of her magic, and this was only a one-time ability? What is even going on here?
Rapunzel has a very surprising talent for whacking people upside the head with cast iron. She knocks Eugene out three times in a row the first time she meets him.
Was Mother Gothel giving her tips on fending off intruders? Did Rapunzel get a black belt in frying pan combat? Does she just have ridiculously swole biceps from hauling her hair around and brushing it all the time? We’ve already figured out that her hair is around 20 pounds.
Maybe it’s just all in the technique?
We see Rapunzel using her hair as a lasso to grab things, as a rope for tying up Eugene, as a pulley system for Mother Gothel, and we even see her swinging from it from time to time. While its true that you can learn all sorts of crazy things when you’re bored enough, a lot of these things would probably result in hair knots or breakage, which is probably the last thing you want when your hair is 70 feet long. Also, what on earth was going on in Rapunzel’s head the first time she ever tried to use her hair to swing from the rafters?
Eugene Fitzherbert (aka Flynn Rider) is a wanted criminal in Corona, and there’s a possibility that he’s wanted other kingdoms as well. The King and Queen of Corona pardoned Eugene, considering he returned their daughter and all, but if he’s wanted in other kingdoms, would this become a diplomatic issue?
Does Eugene become a Bonafide Disney Prince when he marries Rapunzel?
Is he slated to rule Corona alongside Rapunzel upon the passing of her parents? Although I don’t claim to be a monarchy expert, it seems more than likely that Eugene would be named Prince Consort (the spouse of the reigning female monarch) upon Rapunzel’s ascent to the throne. Whether he would want the title or do anything with it is a whole other conversation.
When Rapunzel and Eugene end up surrounded by royal guards after the song “I Have a Dream”, their newfound thug friends help them escape capture through a secret passageway under the bar.
Secret passageways under establishments aren’t unheard of — especially in America during the Prohibition Era. But considering the fact that the Snuggly Duckling’s passageway doesn’t lead to anywhere in particular, I find myself asking… What exactly is it used for? Is the passageway for moving merchandise? Is it for escaping the law? What sort of suspicious operations are the Snuggly Duckling partaking in? Am I truly the only person in the universe lying awake and thinking about this?
Tangled is the first major Disney Princess movie to receive an MPAA rating of PG, and after some thinking, it’s easy to see why. Rapunzel is taken at birth and essentially held prisoner for 18 years. Eugene is, at one point, slated to be eliminated for stealing the royal crown before he is broken out of jail. He is also fatally wounded by Mother Gothel. Mother Gothel turns to dust as she's falling from the tower, which makes her one of the few Disney villains to shuffle off their mortal coil on screen. In between adorable scenes of a young, wide-eyed, barefoot girl enjoying her first taste of freedom hides something a bit more sinister, and just maybe a little out of place.