Pixar Animation Studios specializes in computer-animated films. In 1979, Pixar started as a group that was a part of the Lucasfilm computer division known as the Graphics Group. In 1986, the Graphics Group was spun-off into its own corporation with funding from Apple Inc. In 2006, The Walt Disney Company purchased Pixar for $7.4 billion. Pixar is known for making CGI-animated films by using RenderMan. Pixar first made an impact in animated films with a short film in the 80s. In 1986, Pixar released the short film Luxo Jr., which revolved around a desk lamp playing with a ball. It was first shown at SIGGRAPH where it received a standing ovation before it was even done. The lamp is now seen as the mascot and logo for Pixar. Pixar has made several critically and commercially acclaimed animated films. Pixar’s first feature film was the universally praised classic Toy Story, which was released in 1995. By the end of 2016 Pixar had made roughly $10.8 billion and counting. Additionally, Pixar has won several awards for their work, including 16 Academy Awards, 11 Grammy Awards and 7 Golden Globe Awards.
Besides being known for their innovation and groundbreaking work in CGI and animated films, Pixar is also known for breaking hearts. Pixar has produced some of the greatest animated films that contain some of the most memorable and heartbreaking moments. Pixar has made us laugh, cry and hug the person closest to us. Here is a look at 15 of the Most Heartbreaking Moments from Pixar films.
15. Andy’s Goodbye To Woody – Toy Story 3
Pixar’s Toy Story 3 has so many heartbreaking and gut-wrenching moments that it should probably get its own list. Many consider Toy Story 3 to be the most emotional and saddest film out of the Toy Story series. In Toy Story 3, Woody’s owner Andy is growing up quickly and becoming a man. He has many other interests now like relationships and college. He has clearly lost interest in playing with his toys, especially Woody. Eventually, both Andy and Woody begin to accept that it’s time for both to move one. First, Andy plays with Woody and his other toys one last time before he leaves for college. At the end Andy decides to give his toys to a family friend’s daughter, Bonnie. It’s heartbreaking to see Andy give away his cherished childhood toys. He says goodbye to each toy with the saddest being his goodbye to Woody. When Bonnie tries to grab Woody, Andy is reluctant to give him up but realizes it’s the right thing to do. It’s a heartbreaking end for Andy and his old toys but a beautiful start for Bonnie and her new toys.
14. The Story of Doc Hudson – Cars
Doc Hudson’s story is a familiar story. It’s the story of an icon that becomes larger than life and suddenly one day disappears and is soon forgotten. John Lasseter directed Cars and it was released on June 9, 2006. It featured an ensemble voice cast that included Owen Wilson, Paul Newman and Bonnie Hunt. The plot revolved around a world consisting only of anthropomorphic cars and other vehicles. The story of Doc Hudson is a sad and heartbreaking story. Doc Hudson was once the most famous and greatest racer. He won three Piston Cups but was injured in the 1954 Piston Cup Championship. It was a career-ending injury but he managed to make a return. However, the fans seemed not to care about the return of Doc because new and younger racers had passed him by. He become bitter over his career and went into obscurity. He became a physician and left the racing behind him giving up on his dreams. Of course, he eventually returns to the racing world as Lighting McQueen’s pit crew chief. Sadly, Doc Hudson died before the events of Cars 2.
13. Riley Runs Away – Inside Out
Regardless of the age, it’s always difficult to move to a new town, city or country. Making new friends and learning new things can be hard for some people. It’s difficult on anyone but can be especially painful and difficult for a child. Pete Docter directed Inside Out, which was released on June 19, 2015. It starred an ensemble cast that included Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Lewis Black, Bill Hader and Mindy Kaling. The plot revolved around Riley Andersen who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco with her parents. Much of the story takes place in Riley’s mind as her five personified emotions, Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust and Sadness, attempt to navigate her through life. The film is full of heartbreaking and sad moments and starts right off with Riley struggling in her new surroundings. She then decides to run away and go back to Minnesota. Eventually, she decides to return to her parents at which point she breaks down in tears. She tells her parents that she misses Minnesota and her parents tell her it’s been hard for them too. It’s a heartbreaking moment initially but soon turns into a sweet and loving moment.
12. The Family Tapestry – Brave
There are some family arguments that are difficult to come back from. Teenagers and parents have had a long feud over the years. Often teenagers start to think they know better than their “old” parents. However, some of those arguments can sometimes come back to haunt us if we’re not careful. Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman directed Brave, which was released on June 22, 2012. It starred an ensemble cast including Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson. The plot revolves around a princess, Merida, who rebels against tradition and old customs when she refuses to be betrothed. After defeating her possible suitors Merida has a huge argument with her mother. The heartbreaking moment comes when in a moment of anger, Merida tears up the priceless family tapestry. Later, a witch turns her mother into a bear and the only way to bring her back is repair the family tapestry.
11. Buzz Lightyear Realizes He’s A Toy – Toy Story
As we’ve mentioned, Toy Story is known for its innovation in animation, incredible story and its ability to tug on the heartstrings. John Lasseter directed Toy Story, which was released November 19, 1995. It starred a memorable ensemble cast, including Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Don Rickles, Annie Potts and Jim Varney. Toy Story was a massive critical and commercial success. Toy Story is the first feature full-length animated film released by Pixar. It was also the first ever computer-animated film. The plot revolved around Woody and Buzz Lightyear’s fight for their owner’s affection. When we first meet Buzz Lightyear he believes that he’s a human. He’s in denial throughout the film and doesn’t believe Woody that he’s a toy. Later, Buzz sees a commercial for a Buzz Lightyear toy. He’s so devastated and heartbroken over his discovery that he tries to fly out a window but instead breaks his arm. The true heartbreak is when Buzz realizes that he’s not human.
10. Dory Is Looking For Something – Finding Dory
Pixar’s Finding Dory is the sequel and spin-off to Finding Nemo. Finding Nemo is known for its fantastic writing, humor and its heartbreaking moments. Finding Dory picks right up where Finding Nemo left off. Andrew Stanton directed Finding Dory, which was released on June 17, 2016. It starred the voice cast of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Kaitlin Olson, Ed O’Neil and Ty Burrell. The plot revolves around Dory, who suffers from short-term memory loss, and her attempt to reunite with her parents. The film wastes no time breaking hearts and causing the toughest adult to weep. At the start of the film we meet a young Dory and her parents. They explain to her that she has short-term memory, which is something she doesn’t forget. However, Dory is soon separated from her parents and the innocent and adorable Dory is alone. She tries to find her parents but as time goes by, she starts to forget what she’s been searching the ocean for. Eventually, she bumps into Marlin moments after Nemo had been taken from the first film. Soon Dory completely forgets what she’s been searching for. It’s sad and heartbreaking to see Dory confused and lost after being separated from her parents.
9. Mr. Incredible Has Nothing Left To Lose – The Incredibles
Pixar’s The Incredibles revolves around a family of superheroes that are forced to keep their powers a secret and live a normal life. The father of the family, Mr. Incredible, becomes restless with life and is pulled back into the life of a superhero. Brad Bird directed The Incredibles, which was released on November 5, 2004. It starred the voice cast of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Jason Lee and Samuel L. Jackson. The Incredibles find many different ways to break hearts of all those in their audience. At one point, the evil Syndrome holds Mr. Incredible captive. Mr. Incredible’s wife Elastigirl, and their two children fly out on a jet in an attempt to save him. However, Syndrome is able to shoot down the jet but the family manages to survive and is safe. However, Mr. Incredible is under the impression that his family died. His sadness quickly turns into anger before he breaks down and weeps.
8. Bing Bong’s Sacrifice – Inside Out
It’s no secret that Inside Out is a very emotional movie. For children it’s a simple story filled with humor and drama. For a grown up, it’ll surely bring up old faded memories they all assumed were gone. In Inside Out, the emotions of Joy and Sadness must find a way to work together to help Riley and her emotional distress. When we first meet Bing Bong, it’s in Riley’s old faded memories. Bing Bong was her imaginary friend but has since been forgotten. Bing Bong had big plans for Riley, including travelling to the moon. Bing Bong believes that if he helps Joy he can reunite with Riley and they can finally go to the moon. Joy and Bing Bong attempt to escape on Bing Bong’s old wagon rocket but Bing Bong soon realizes they both can’t go. Bing Bong sacrifices himself so that Joy can help Riley get through this difficult time in her life. Bing Bong’s sacrifice saves Riley while he becomes a completely forgotten memory.
7. Marlin Leaves Dory – Finding Nemo
It’s one of the most heartbreaking moments in any animated film. It’ll make your eyes fill up with tears and your heart will break into tiny little pieces. Finding Nemo will pull at your heartstrings throughout the whole movie. However, this one particular moment is incredibly sad and a little difficult to get through. Andrew Stanton directed Finding Nemo, which was released on May 30, 2003. It starred a memorable voice cast that included Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould and Willem Dafoe. The plot followed an overprotective father, Marlin, who teams up with the forgetful Dory to go in search of Marlin’s son. Finding Nemo is universally praised for its phenomenal writing, innovations in animation and its ability to make a grown up break down in tears. It’s sad and heartbreaking on so many levels. First, Marlin comes to terms with the fact that his son, Nemo, is gone. He gives up and decides to leave Dory behind but she pleads with him to stay. She remembers better when he’s around. They’ve become friends but he accepts his son’s fate. Marlin leaves as Dory pleads with him to stay.
6. Sully’s Goodbye To Boo – Monsters, Inc.
It’s always hard to say goodbye to someone that we love and Monsters, Inc. truly captured that gut-wrenching feeling in this painfully heartbreaking moment. Monsters, Inc. featured an outstanding voice cast, which included John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi and Jennifer Tilly. The plot revolved around two monsters, James P. “Sully” Sullivan and Mike Wazowski, who are employees at Monsters Inc and live in Monstropolis. They meet a young child, Boo, who enters Monstropolis through her closet and they must return her home. Monsters, Inc. is full of heartbreaking moments but Sully’s goodbye to Boo is incredibly sad. Sully is finally able to return Boo but he won’t be able to see her again. Boo doesn’t understand that she’ll never see Sully again but he’s fully aware.
5. Jessie’s Story – Toy Story 2
Pixar’s Toy Story 2 contains many sad and gut-wrenching moments. Jessie’s Story is possibly one of the most heartbreaking moments in Pixar films and to make the story even sadder, the story is told to Sarah McLachlan’s “When She Loved Me”. In Toy Story 2 Woody is taken by a toy collector and Buzz and the other toys must rescue him. Woody struggles with the idea that Andy will move on and forget about him. However, he soon meets Jessie and she tells him her heartbreaking story. Jessie was once the toy of a girl named Emily. They did everything together and went everywhere together. They were inseparable until Emily started to grow up. Soon Jessie was left underneath Emily’s bed alone. Then one day when Emily was all grown up she discovered Jessie. Jesse was elated to finally be with Emily and to go for a car ride. Sadly, Emily dropped Jessie into a donations box and left, Jessie never saw Emily again.
4. The Death of Coral – Finding Nemo
The opening sequence in Finding Nemo broke every audience members’ heart and left them sobbing. Pixar knows how to make us cry and they can do it quickly. Finding Nemo breaks hearts right as the movie starts and they don’t stop till the end. At the start of the film we meet Nemo’s parents before his birth. His parents, Marlin and Coral, admire the plethora of eggs that’ll hatch any moment. Suddenly, a barracuda swims up so Marlin and Coral escape. However, instead of swimming near their home she attempts to protect her unborn babies. Marlin gets knocked and out awakes in a daze. In one of the most heartbreaking moments of all time Marlin realizes that Coral and a majority of the eggs have died. Only one remains and Marlin promises to never let anything bad happen to that egg, Nemo.
3. WALL-E Forgets EVE – WALL-E
Pixar’s WALL-E proves that a beautiful love story between two robots can make anyone break down and weep. WALL-E contains one of the most devastating and heartbreaking moments in any film. WALL-E was released on June 27, 2008. The film takes place in a future where Earth has been abandoned. WALL-E is a robot trash compacter that was left behind with the other robot trash compacters but is the only unit still working. He soon meets and falls madly in love with the robot of his dreams, EVE. Initially, EVE rebuffs WALL-E despite his charm but they soon grow closer. WALL-E is damaged but EVE is able to save him and reactivate him. However, once WALL-E is reactivated his memory is lost and his charming personality is gone. Also, he doesn’t remember the love of his life EVE. EVE is heartbroken that Wall-E doesn’t remember her, as is any person that watched this movie. However, just holding hands with EVE is enough to bring the adorable and charming WALL-E’s memories and personality back.
2. The Incinerator – Toy Story 3
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Woody, Buzz and their friends gave up fighting to survive in the incinerator. Instead they come together as a family and accept their fate and end. Toy Story 3 was released on June 18, 2010, and is the third film in the Toy Story series. It starred an outstanding ensemble voice cast, which included Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Michael Keaton, John Ratzenberger and Don Rickles. Toy Story 3 revolved around Woody, Buzz and their friends not knowing what the future holds for them with their owner Andy moving away to college. Toy Story 3 was critically and commercially acclaimed and was one of the highest grossing films in 2010. Toy Story 3 contains one of the saddest and most heartbreaking moments in Pixar films. Woody, Buzz and the other toys find themselves in an incinerator. Initially, they fight and try to escape the incinerator but soon accept that their end is near. Instead of fighting they hold hands and await their fate. It’s one of the most heartbreaking moments in all movies.
1. The Love Story of Carl and Ellie – Up
Carl and Ellie’s love story had audiences all over the world weeping right at the very start of Up. Carl and Ellie’s sweet love story is the most heartbreaking moment in Pixar. Pete Docter directed Up and it was released on May 29, 2009. It was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards making it only the second animated movie to be nominated. It starred Ed Asner, Jordan Nagai and Christopher Plummer. Up was a massive success when released. It’s critically and commercially acclaimed and was a huge success at the box office. The plot revolved around Carl, a widower, who ties several balloons to his house to fulfill his late wife’s dream of going on an adventure. The opening sequence in Up tells the beautiful and heartbreaking love story of Carl and Ellie. It follows them from their first meeting as children, to marriage. It also shows their inability to conceive children and the toll it takes on Ellie. Ellie and Carl are able to get through it and soon try to save up to go to South America. However, life gets in the way and soon they grow old together. Eventually, Ellie becomes sick and dies leaving Carl alone. Without a doubt it is the most heartbreaking moment.