The franchise takes place in a world that serves as a continuation after the Disney Animated Classics series, and follows the lives of the teenage children of four Disney Villains on the Isle of the Lost, and their move to Auradon at the request of the teenage son of Queen Belle and King Beast. The first film was released in July 2015. Following its success, two sequels were released in the following four years, along with television shorts, novels, and soundtracks.
In the United States of Auradon, Belle and Beast rule as king and queen, twenty years after they married, united the settings of many Disney animated films, and banished all villains to the Isle of the Lost, a slum surrounded by a magic-suppressing barrier. Beast plans to abdicate in favor of his and Belle's son, Ben, who announces a program to invite four children from the Isle of the Lost to live in Auradon, away from the influence of their villainous parents: Carlos, son of Cruella De Vil; Jay, son of Jafar; Evie, daughter of The Evil Queen; and their gang's leader Mal, daughter of Maleficent. Maleficent orders them to steal the Fairy Godmother's magic wand and deactivate the barrier, so Maleficent can conquer Auradon. But the four find themselves fitting in and enjoying a normal childhood, and Mal begins a relationship with Ben, supplanting Audrey, daughter of Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip. When the barrier is inadvertently dispelled, Maleficent attacks Ben's coronation and transforms into a dragon. With Ben encouraging her to make her own choice, Mal decides to be good. She and her friends rebuke Maleficent, turning her into a small lizard, from which state she can recover if she fills her heart with love. The people of Auradon celebrate.
Mal struggles with her new celebrity life as King Ben's girlfriend, secretly using magic to maintain a lifestyle she feels is a façade. Mal decides she does not belong in Auradon; she returns to the Isle, where gang leadership has fallen to her old rival, pirate captain Uma (Ursula's daughter), and her first and second mates, respectively, Harry (Captain Hook's son) and Gil (Gaston's son). Evie, Jay, and Carlos agree to help Ben find her, but Mal rejects Ben, believing it best for him and Auradon. Uma captures Ben and demands the Fairy Godmother's wand in exchange for his life. Uma resents not being chosen to live in Auradon; Ben respects her as a leader and invites her to Auradon, but she vows to make her own way there instead. Using a 3D-printed decoy wand, Mal's group rescues Ben. At the shipboard Royal Cotillion, Uma appears as Ben's date and he announces he will destroy the barrier; Mal realizes Uma has cast a spell on Ben. When Mal discovers Ben commissioned a portrait that depicts her as she was before she changed herself with magic, she accepts the emotion of love and kisses Ben, breaking the spell. Uma and Mal battle, transforming into an octopus and a dragon, respectively. Ben tries to negotiate with Uma, but she leaves, unreconciled. Evie asks to bring more children from the Isle to Auradon and Ben agrees.
In the film, Ben proposes to Mal, making her the future queen of Auradon. However, threats from Uma, Mal's father Hades and Ben's ex-girlfriend Audrey has Mal trying to stop evil once and for all. While Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos are recruiting a new generation of villain kids, Hades is trying to breach through the barrier, then Audrey steals the crown and the scepter and becomes the evil version of herself. The VKs return to the Isle of the Lost on a mission to retrieve Hades' ember and later, Uma, Harry and Gil teams up with Mal and the others to stop Audrey from destroying Auradon.
Before the film's premiere, a live action mini series leading up to the event was released on Disney Channel. Every day leading up to the release of the film, a new episode of Descendants: School of Secrets would be released revealing more secrets about the students at Auradon Prep. Each episode of the series is under five minutes long, with twenty-three episodes in total.
Right after the first film, a CGI-animated spinoff short series entitled Descendants: Wicked World was released on September 18, 2015. Former Phineas and Ferb storyboard artist Aliki Theofilopoulos Grafft directed the series, with Jenni Cook as producer, and included the original cast respriring their roles along with new characters.
The Planning of the Royal Wedding
An animated short prequel premiered on November 6, 2020 enlight of the upcoming television special, Descendants: The Royal Wedding. The series followed Mal and Evie as they prepared for the royal wedding with Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson reprising their roles.
An animated special that aired on August 13, 2021. This was the first Descendants project to be announced after Boyce's death, and as such, it was reported that the absence of Carlos would be addressed.
The Descendants Novels are a series of books based on the Descendants franchise, written by Melissa de la Cruz. The first book, The Isle of the Lost, was released on May 5, 2015, which served as a prequel to the first Descendants movie. Since 2015, there have been four novels.
- The Isle of the Lost - May 5, 2015
- Return to the Isle of the Lost - May 24, 2016
- Rise of the Isle of the Lost - May 23, 2017
- Escape from the Isle of the Lost - June 4, 2019