Disney movies are filled with joy and optimism, introducing us to inspiring characters we grow to love dearly. However, sometimes a character's journey requires some pain in order to allow them to reach their fullest potential. These are what we consider to be the Top 10 most heartbreaking moments from Disney films because they are pivotal points in the storylines where beloved characters experience loss, separation, or sacrifice. These scenes elicit strong emotional responses from viewers and often leave a lasting impact on them, following them from their childhood into their adulthood.
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Tadashi speaking through Baymax – Big Hero 6
In Big Hero 6, Tadashi's sacrifice to save his brother, Hiro, and his friends is a testament to the power of selflessness and the bonds of family. Throughout the film, we see Hiro grapple with the tremendous loss of his brother. The scene towards the end of the movie is a touching tribute to the character's bravery and his legacy, as his spirit lives on through his robot, Baymax. It shows the passion Tadashi had for his project, Baymax, and how you can continue to honor lost loved ones' lives and dreams even after they are gone. This scene doesn't fail to make me cry every single time, not only because of the feelings of grief but also due to the undertones of hope and inspiration.
Opening Scene – Up
The opening scene of Up is a powerful portrayal of loss and grief. It shows how the elderly protagonist, Carl, deals with the loss of his wife, Ellie, and the void that her absence leaves in his life. The scene is notable for its use of visual storytelling mixed with its iconic music by Michael Giacchino, as it conveys the passage of time and the progression of the couple's relationship without the characters even having to speak once. This is often considered the saddest moment of any Disney movie, causing many people to even hesitate rewatching Up to avoid the feelings that may arise during this scene. This scene is only about 10 minutes long, yet it has a lasting effect on the viewers.
Mufasa's Death – The Lion King
Mufasa's death in The Lion King is another heart-wrenching moment that is famous from the film. The scene depicts the betrayal and murder of the beloved king by his own brother, Scar, and the resulting emotional trauma experienced by Mufasa's son, Simba. The death of Mufasa is a turning point in the story, as it sets in motion the events that lead to Simba's exile and eventual return to reclaim his place as king. Mufasa continues to guide Simba through his life, even after his death. Many Disney fans were emotionally affected by this scene the first time they saw it as children, and they continue to feel those emotions every time they see this scene again as adults.
Remember Me – Coco
Mama Coco's death in Coco is a symbolic moment that marks the end of Miguel's journey to connect with his ancestors. It is a culmination of his efforts to reconcile with his family and understand his identity. Mama Coco is able to remember the song her father sang to her and make Hector be able to reconnect with his family by honoring his life. The scene is particularly moving, as it shows how the memories of the deceased continue to live on through the stories and traditions passed down by the living. It doesn't fail to make us cry every single time and reflect on our own moments of love and loss within our families.
Bing Bong – Inside Out
In Inside Out, the moment when Bing Bong disappears is a heartbreaking scene that represents the loss of childhood and the power of memory. As Joy and Sadness try to make their way back to headquarters, they come across Bing Bong, a long-forgotten imaginary friend of Riley's. Bing Bong helps the two navigate through Riley's memories, but as they approach the memory dump, he realizes that he must sacrifice himself to help them escape. The scene is particularly poignant as Bing Bong fades away, uttering the words “Take her to the moon for me.” The moment is a reminder of the fleeting nature of childhood and the importance of cherishing the memories that make us who we are.
Bambi's Mom – Bambi
In Bambi, the death of Bambi's mother is a heartbreaking moment that has stuck with generations since its initial release in 1942. The scene depicts the tragic death of Bambi's mother at the hands of hunters, leaving the young deer alone and vulnerable in the forest. The death of Bambi's mother is a turning point in the story, as it marks the end of Bambi's carefree childhood and the beginning of his journey to adulthood. It also shows how much Bambi's mother loved him, sacrificing herself for him to be able to live his life fully.
Sully Leaving Boo – Monsters INC.
In Monsters, Inc., the moment when Sully is forced to say goodbye to his friend Boo is a touching and emotional scene. After spending time with Boo and forming a close bond with her, Sully is heartbroken when he realizes he must leave her and return to his own world. The scene is notable for its depiction of the power of friendship and the pain of separation, as Sully is forced to sacrifice his own happiness for the greater good of his world. He also knows it is best for Boo to return her to her home safely. The moment is very reminiscent of the phrase “if you love something, set it free.” Though he loves Boo and wants to spend more time with her, he knows it is best for both of them to let each other go. Despite this, they will both live in each other's hearts for all the time they spend apart.
Moana's Grandmother – Moana
The death of Moana's grandmother in the movie Moana is a poignant moment that marks the passing of the old ways and the beginning of a new era. It is a symbolic moment that represents the transition from the traditions of the past to a new future and the importance of carrying on the legacy of one's ancestors. After her death, Moana's grandmother returns as a manta ray to guide Moana through her journey in the ocean. It is an emotional moment which really emphasizes the importance of trusting nature's plan and honoring the past.
Andy's Goodbye – Toy Story 3
In Toy Story 3, Andy's decision to give away his beloved toys to a young girl named Bonnie marks the end of an era for the franchise and a symbolic passing of the torch to a new generation. It is a bittersweet moment that represents the transition from childhood to adulthood and the importance of letting go of cherished memories. This scene encapsulates letting your childhood go and living in the nostalgia that is the past. Many fans grew up alongside Andy and grew to love these toys like Andy did, so seeing him give them away as he grows up and continues his life is truly a sad, yet hopeful moment that resonates with fans.
Ray's Death – Princess and the Frog
In The Princess and the Frog, Ray's death is a tragic moment that marks the end of his journey in helping Tiana and Naveen. Throughout the movie, we grow to love Ray and root for his love for a star named Evangeline. When he sees the shadow man, Dr. Facilier, trying to take Tiana and Naveen's blood to complete a spell, Ray sacrifices himself to save them. His death is a touching moment that shows the power of friendship and the willingness to do whatever it takes to help those you care about. At the end of the film, you see another star appear next to Evangeline, which is assumed to be Ray. It is extremely heartwarming to see Ray be united with his true love, even after he passes away.
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