Disney makes magical, whimsical movies that have captured the imaginations of children and adults alike for generations. But as much as they’re the top of the game for bringing wonder to the world, they’re also the best at just totally and completely destroying your emotions.
Fair enough; after all, without the hardship and suffering of life’s worst moments, we’d never be able to appreciate the beauty and wonder of its best. “Life is composed of lights and shadows” Walt Disney famously said, “and we would be untruthful, insincere, and saccharine if we tried to pretend there were no shadows,” And boy do Disney’s storytellers love offsetting their moments of brilliant light with darkness.
Of course, that’s part of what’s made Disney’s stories so enduring, and why they can continue to re-tell them with live-action renditions that reinvent those profound, often deep-cutting life lessons for a new generation. Just think, a whole new batch of kids are about to learn the harsh realities of death when the watch Mufasa die in the upcoming The Lion King remake. And they’re lessons well worth learning.
With that in mind, we’re running down some of the most devastating moments in Disney’s history. For the purpose of this article, we’re sticking to the animated theatrical releases, including those at Pixar, where the Disney tradition of storytelling forged a sister studio of beautiful, heartbreaking films. Their live-action fare has plenty of tear-jerking moments (don’t even talk to me about Homeward Bound), not to mention the emotional warfare that goes on in the MCU, but we’re honing in on the animated classics, from the earliest days of Walt Disney Animation Studios, to the latest Pixar releases.
There’s no shortage of damaging Disney moments and these are just a few personal favorites (or maybe least favorite would be more appropriate given the emotional toll), so sound off in the comments with the moments that messed you up the most. Obviously there are a lot of spoilers here, so if you get to a movie you haven’t seen, just scroll on by.