Disney movies are known for being extremely lighthearted, but in those same movies, many moments are way too real for anyone, especially a child to understand. Disney films have the ability to teach so many lessons about inclusion, race, wealth status, and so much more in every clip. But while many of Disney’s most popular films are animated, it’s the cartoon ones that have brought to life some moments that were so real and relatable that you’ll definitely need a tissue to get through them.
Somehow, these little creature, who in some movies aren’t even human, give us all the feels as we experience the same roller coaster ride of emotions that the main characters, their family, and friends go through during the entire film. There are countless moments that suck us in and we really don’t realize to what capacity until the ending credits roll. But that is a major reason why Disney is so successful today. A child who has gone through the loss of a parent can relate to dramatic scenes in many Disney films just like a woman who has lost a best friend or gets teased in class.
Some might question whether Disney is way too deep and heavy for a group of children at a sleepover, but at the same time, it’s things that they (and their peers) experience daily, whether we can help it or not. So we’ll let you be the judge. Take a look at 15 Disney movie scenes that were way too real, both for kids and adults.
15 When Bambi’s Mother Died
This is probably the first scene that many children and adults think about when the topic of sad Disney scenes is addressed. As if the tragedy of Bambi’s mother, the Great Princess of the Forest, being shot and killed by a hunter halfway through the film isn’t enough, Bambi was there to experience it all. The now epic scene begins with Bambi’s mother summoning him to come a little closer to her. She shows him that “new spring grass” has begun to come in from underground. This is something that clearly excites the young deer. But both of their excitement is absolutely gone after shots are heard firing throughout the forest. She tells Bambi to run faster and faster and he makes it to a small hiding place in the forest. As he waits for his mom, she never arrives. He goes out to find her only to discover she didn’t make it.
14 Pocahontas Was Going To Sacrifice Her Life
Pocahontas was willing to do anything she could to stop the war between her Native American family and the European builders who came to transform the land they all knew and loved in Disney’s Pocahontas. But when Pocahontas fell in love with the European ringleader, John Smith, she caused even more of a ruckus between them. In the end, she was ready to dive in between a knife that was set to kill Smith. She knew her father wouldn’t go any further if she was in between Smith and the knife, but the idea that she was willing to die because of it is gut-wrenching. Self-sacrifice is a major theme that rings throughout Disney movies. But she didn’t do it for love, she did it for peace. Because after she saved his life, her father told her she had to choose. And she told John Smith to go back to his native land, and she would stay in hers.
13 These Toy Story Moments
The Toy Story franchise had more than enough real moments go around during its time on the big screen. In the very first Toy Story, one of the extremely real scenes was when Woody realized that he had lost his best friend, Andy, to newcomer Buzz Lightyear. Randy Newman’s "Strange Things" echoed throughout the scene as Woody looked on only to find his friend consistently distracted by Buzz, his new arch nemesis. Another sad scene in the Toy Story movies was in the most recent and final film Toy Story 3, that featured a now grownup Andy getting rid of all of his toys. Everything seemed to come full circle when Andy had an extra hard time letting go of Woody. It proved that after all they had been through together, and even separately, Andy and Woody still had a connection like no other. Disney was really smart to wrap it up this way.
12 Dumbo’s "Baby Mine" Scene
Even adults have to check their eyes on this one as anyone with emotions and heart strings would tear up at this scene that was all too real. It happened in Dumbo after the main character’s mother was captured and put behind bars. But that didn’t stop her from reaching through to show extra love to the baby elephant when he needed it the most. The part when Dumbo looks up at his caged up mother with big, white, tears coming down his blue eyes and almost reaching his elephant ears is way too much to handle. To add even more emotion to the scene, "Baby Mine," rang out as Dumbo and his mother clearly didn’t need any words during this special moment. It was one full of heartbreak, sadness, and emotions that even a grown person would have a hard time maintaining. But many can relate to it as well, and that's why it's so important for Disney to tackle themes like this.
11 Aladdin Betrays The Genie
Aladdin’s betrayal to the genie was one that was so painful to watch. The genie, voiced by the late Robin Williams, had been nothing but a kind, sweet friend to the character who was previously known as “riff raff” and a “street rat.” But when the Genie had granted him his two wishes, Aladdin failed to keep his end of the bargain and use his third and final wish to free the Genie. Instead, he tried to use it to get more power and the attention of his friend turned lover, Princess Jasmine. Genie’s face when Aladdin let him know he wouldn’t be using his third wish for him was nothing less than heartbreaking; even the big blue lug could exert some sort of sadness that made you want to pull through the television and give him a big hug. Of course in the end everything worked out, as the genie got freed and Jasmine and Aladdin got married. But that was a tough moment to get through for sure.
10 Meg’s Death In Hercules
Hercules had been through enough in his life since he was a baby. Yes, he was born a god, son of the great king Zeus. But he was kidnapped and was meant to be drained of all his god-like abilities, but ended up surviving with a little bit of her strength. He never fit in and when he did, he found out his strength was because of his father. But he had to earn his way back into the kingdom. Still, his life was changed even more when a hint of sunshine arrived in the form of Meg. But that even seemed to be stripped away when Meg died... even if it was just for a few moments. Hercules’s hurt and heartbreak was apparent as he bellowed out “No!” like any mythological hero would. He was able to rescue Meg and save her life just moments later, but it wasn’t looking good for about 60 seconds. Why does Disney always do this to us?
9 The Barracuda Attack In Finding Nemo
This scene in Finding Nemo certainly gave barracudas a bad name for quite some time. The barracuda was only at the beginning of the movie but it certainly made an impact as it effected the entire plot and storyline. Viewers know that the barracuda targeted Nemo’s parents, Marlin and Coral. She flips into mother bear mode and aims to protect her children before herself. But as she goes to do so, the barracuda turns his wrath on her and attacks big time. Marlin tries to step in but he’s unsuccessful as the vicious creature attacks him too and knocks him unconscious. He even ate all of the eggs except one, who turned out to be Nemo. While this was scary enough, there is speculation that the scene was actually going to show Coral and the eggs in the barracuda’s mouth, but filmmakers thought that would be too scary for children.
8 Triton Takes Ariel’s Place In The Little Mermaid
Coral isn’t the only one who exemplified the ultimate sacrifice for her child in a Disney movie. In fact, that’s the theme that rings out in tons of Disney films, including The Little Mermaid. Triton and Ariel might have had their differences, but he didn’t let that stop him from being a loving father when Ariel was in danger thanks to Ursula. The king of the sea decided to trade in not only his power but his freedom, in order for Ursula to free Ariel. Things in the sea instantly turn ugly and dangerous under Ursula’s control, which clearly is detrimental to the sea and all of its living creatures. Ariel tries to stop it but gets in danger herself. Her boyfriend Eric even steps in but ends up getting captured. But in true Disney form, things can’t stay that negative for long as Ursula ends up losing in the end, and Triton gets his power back without fail.
7 Elsa And Anna’s Fallout In Frozen
Siblings could definitely relate to the sad situation between sisters Elsa and Anna in Frozen. This movie, like other Disney films, contains way too many real moments to count. But it all started when it was revealed that Elsa had the power to create ice and snow. This might have sounded cool to her younger sister Anna, but it ended with Elsa running way to a dark palace made of ice that she used her own powers to create. Anna, who was set to marry a prince herself, ran after her. The movie tells the story of her journey in trying to find her sister. To make matters worse, it turned out the prince was just as conniving as he made out Elsa to be and tried to kill them. Here’s a spoiler alert: the creator of Frozen 2 revealed that Anna will also have special powers in the sequel. What else can this movie do to hit home?
6 Pinocchio’s Untimely Death
Disney never hesitates to add a tragic death scene in its animated films. This certainly holds true for the 1940 film Pinocchio. In the scene when Pinocchio died (in hopes of successfully saving the life of his father no less), Geppetto has a crying session along with Jiminy Cricket and the pets. It is devastating to watch. Yes, Pinocchio and Geppetto clearly had issues as Pinocchio’s nose grew every time he told a lie, but it was still his son. Well, the magic of Disney proved to be enough once again as Pinocchio’s sacrifice to save his father ironically saved his own life, after his brief death. He comes alive and Jiminy takes a moment to take in the appearance of the Blue Fairy. It also marks the special moment when Pinocchio actually transitions from a toy made in Geppetto’s shop to a real boy. This was definitely a dream come true for him but life alone was probably enough for the tot at this point.
5 Flynn Rider Cuts Rapunzel’s Hair In Tangled
Maybe this one should have been titled “Eugene Cuts Rapunzel's Hair” because by the time it happened, he had let go of his alter ego, Flynn Rider. Either way, the moment when Eugene cuts Rapunzel’s hair marks a gasp-worthy moment in the film. It all went down after Mother Gothel stabbed Eugene and Rapunzel had to promise to be a slave in the tower again if Rapunzel and her hair could heal him. Of course Eugene doesn’t want her to go through with it, but there’s not much he can do, until she gets too close and Eugene uses a piece of a broken mirror to cut her hair, causing all of its power to go away with it. But this still doesn’t help Eugene in his fateful moment. Interestingly enough, it’s actually one of her tears that saves him and all is well within the kingdom once again.
4 The Beast’s Death In Beauty and The Beast
The dramatic death of the Beast in Beauty and The Beast is also a memorable one. The huge creature crashed to the ground almost just as he was really beginning to take a turn for the best as far as his integrity was concerned. His dishes and friends that kept him company during his time in the abandoned mansion looked on with disbelief and hurt. And Belle had nothing but tears as she grabbed him on his way down to the ground. But no sooner than he closes his eyes, he opens them again and starts smiling. The two have a sentimental moment as he puts his paw (that’s bigger than her face) up to her head and then crashes back down to the ground. Talk about a roller coaster. Belle cries over him and so does the adorable Mrs. Potts, but a magical moment happens as she lays across his body and he comes back to life as a handsome prince.
3 Quasimodo At The Festival of Fools
Where do I begin to explain this disturbing scene? It was in the movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame that was released in 1996. Quasimodo was so understood simply because of his arguably scary appearance. It was his master, Frollo, who raised him and clearly took advantage of Quasimodo’s trusting and kind ways. In the scene of the Festival of Fools, Quasimodo has snuck out of the tower to attend the popular event. He meets Esmeralda who brings him on stage, not knowing he isn’t supposed to be there. Frollo recognizes him and the crowd ends up throwing all kinds of things at him as he’s tied down and can’t do anything but take it. It was Esmeralda who helped him, not Frollo, and his devastated face was priceless. Quasimodo is just one of the underdogs who ended up on top in an animated Disney film, and he probably will not be the last.
2 Lewis’ Moment With His Mom In Meet the Robinsons
When Lewis went back in time to see his mother drop him off at the orphanage as a baby, his look of defeat was something no one would want to see in a child, even an animated child. He immediately recognized his mother, who was holding an infant version of him and heading to the door. Lewis got so overcome with emotion that he went as far as almost stopping his mother from just leaving him there. But something comes over him and he decides to let her move forward with her extremely tough decision to leave him. It’s clear that it’s difficult for his mother to let go as she stands at the door for a few minutes, leaves the baby, and rushes down the stairs. Lewis is still overcome with emotion as he goes up the steps to look at the baby version of himself. He helps move the process along and knocks at the door for someone to open up. When they do, Lewis is gone. They see the woman look around and without saying any words, makes a vow to take care of the child.
1 Mufasa’s Death In The Lion King
Mufasa’s death goes down as one of the most heartbreaking scenes in Disney history. It’s right up there with Bambi’s mother. But the idea that Simba was there to see the whole thing, and then be told he is the one to blame, is just so sad. But it was Mufasa’s own brother Scar’s fault as he was jealous that Simba would be the one to be the king of Pride Rock after him, not Scar, so he set up a stampede and when Mufasa went to check on Simba, Scar was the one who pretty much pushed him off the cliff. Talk about betrayal! But Scar did get his way considering Simba disappeared, after Scar told him Mufasa’s death was his fault. But thanks to Timon and Pumba, Simba goes back to Pride Rock to gain back his kingdom, and see his girl Nala. And he even gets a visit from Mufasa while doing so to let him know he’s on the right path.