Although it is what first springs to mind, Disney is not all about adorable animals who help you get ready for the ball, or meeting your Prince Charming and living happily ever after. Oh no, the folks over at Disney and Pixar are certified experts in heartbreak, in making you quickly wipe away tears and swallow the lump in your throat so no one else in the room realises you’re crying. I can guarantee everyone else was weeping with you. Grab your tissues, here’s a look at the most heartbreaking Disney moments.
1) The Lion King
Mufasa’s death in The Lion King is our generations Bambi’s mom. I cry just thinking about it. Especially when Simba wraps his father’s paw around himself in comfort and disbelief. This scene rips away Simba’s innocence, and the innocence of any child watching. Sob.
The beginning of UP is bittersweet and tragic. Carl and Ellie’s story is amazing. The epitome of a true love story, done in ten minutes and mostly without dialogue. If you did not cry at this you have no heart. The opening of this 2009 movie shows the life the couple shared, from their first meeting, to their wedding, Ellie’s miscarriage, growing old together, and eventually Ellie’s death. It is, in my opinion, one of the most touching sequences in Disney history, and moves on into a brilliant movie!
3) Toy Story 3
The end of Toy Story 3 tugs right in the heartstrings. When Andy plays with his toys for the last time, and then drives away and leaves them to go to college, I bawl like a baby. I recently moved away from home for college myself, so this may just be because the story resonates with me, but the whole idea of having a Disney movie, typically for children, where the reality is that the main character is all grown up, breaks my heart.
Flynn’s death (that wasn’t really his death) in Tangled had me needing a moment. They had seen the light guys, they were each other’s dream. And then he had to go and die to save Rapunzel. I think Flynn may be one of my favourite Disney characters (although I do have a lot) so I was really upset, and for a minute I really thought he was dead for good and I couldn’t see how Disney were going to get out of it! I mean, they did and he was brought back to life, but I was crying, the damage was already done.
5) Monsters Inc.
Saying goodbye to Boo in Monsters Inc. is the worst thing to watch. “Kitty.” It was like they were saying goodbye to their child. Then Sully alone with Boo. She looked so sad to see them go. I can’t.
The death of Bambi’s mother in Bambi messed up a couple generations. Similar to Mufasa in The Lion King, loss of innocence as pop culture teaches us about the hard stuff like losing a loved one. Well done Disney, you broke my heart again.
7) The Fox and The Hound
The end of the friendship in The Fox And The Hound rings an uncomfortable truth: friendships can end. Adorable childhood besties Tod and Copper aren’t allowed to be friends anymore because one is a fox and one is a hound and their owners says so. Not only a statement about racism and equality, also utterly heart wrenching as they don’t understand what the problem is.
8) Saving Mr. Banks
Saving Mr Banks has too many moments to count. Just the whole movie broke my heart really. It sheds new light on the character of Mr Banks in Mary Poppins through the relationship P.L Travers, or Ginty Goff, had with her father. Emma Thompson is outstanding throughout and I cried multiple times, like when they all sang ‘Lets Go Fly A Kite’ and when she was sobbing in the cinema. So emotional.
9) The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The treatment of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame heralded some darkness into childhood. This actually might be Disney’s darkest movie. Quasimodo has been kept in solitude his whole life, and if that wasn’t damaging enough, his only human interactions lead to humiliation, bulling, and torment. That is until Esmeralda comes along. But still my heart breaks for him and what he had to go through.
Finally, John Smith leaves in Pocahontas. One of the few on this list that doesn’t have a happy ending, no one returns or comes back to life. John Smith leaves the love of his life Pocahontas after being shot. So sad.
So that’s it! Special shoutouts to Nemo’s mum’s death in Finding Nemo, when Ralph destroys Vanellope’s race car in Wreck-it Ralph, the destruction of the cave in The Little Mermaid, and when the puppies are stolen in 101 Dalmations.
I’m now going to cry for days now.
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