As children, many scenes in our favorite films were designed to push us to tears or break our tiny hearts. In the very best of these films, these scenes remain equally, and sometimes even more, heartbreaking as an adult. Here are some of those scenes. WARNING: Spoilers for all the films mentioned to follow.
1. Ash's 'Death' — Pokemon: The First Movie
When Pokémon: The First Movie was released in 1999 (1998 for Japanese fans), young Poké-fans everywhere rushed to theaters for a film they hoped to be filled with epic battles between all their favorite Pokémon. It was, but it was probably also a lot more emotional than many were expecting. After running into the middle of Mew and Mewtwo's battle, desperate to stop the fighting between the natural Pokemon and the clones, Ash (the series protagonist) is turned to stone. Ash's loyal Pikachu tries desperately to revive him, to no avail. All the Pokémon present, along with most of the children in the audience, begin to weep, and their tears magically reviving Ash.
Nostalgia alone is probably enough to bring most older fans to tears when revisiting this film. However, emotional weight contributes to the symbolism in this scene that viewers may have missed when they were young. All the Pokémon weep at Ash's demise, natural and clone alike, and all are equally responsible for reviving him. In that act, for the first time, they are equal. This aids Mewtwo in coming to his final conclusion about his existence.
"I see now that the circumstances of One's birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are."
2. Shadow Is Left Behind — Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey tells the tale of three lost pets — two dogs, Chance and Shadow, and a cat named Sassy — as they embark on a long journey to return to their owners. Right when they can smell home, the elderly Shadow falls through some rotting planks into a pit of mud, and is unable to muster the energy to climb out. Chance refuses to leave him, but Shadow, who has been mentoring the much younger Chance throughout the film, tells him that he must.
"You've learned everything you need, Chance. Now all you have to learn is how to say Goodbye."
This scene is sure to resonate with anyone old enough to have lost a beloved pet. Like Chance, we are never really ready to say goodbye. Shadow does ultimately survive and make it home at the film's conclusion, but this does not at all lessen the impact of this scene.
3. Chuckie Wants A Mom — Rugrats In Paris
The plot of the second Rugrats film, Rugrats In Paris, revolves around Chuckie Finster's search for a new mother. Early in the film, while on board a plane to Paris, the mothers of Chuckie's friends come to collect them for changing or nap time, leaving poor Chuckie alone. Sadly watching his friends, Chuckie longs for the maternal love that they all have.
Chuckie is so adorable that seeing him upset is bound to tug at one's heartstrings, but the music accompanying the scene, Cyndi Lauper's "I Want A Mom," really sells it, ensuring that even older viewers are easily moved to tears.
4. Tadashi's Death — Big Hero 6
Early in Big Hero 6, Tadashi Hamada, the older brother of protagonist Hiro Hamada, is killed after running into a burning building to rescue a beloved professor who was apparently trapped inside. Unlike most #Disney films, Big Hero 6 does not shy away from the aftermath of Tadashi's death, showing us his funeral, and a startlingly realistic take on the effect his death has on Hiro.
It is this realism that makes the sequence even more tragic when watched through adult eyes. We expect a parent to die in Disney films, that has become par for the course. The death of Tadashi, a young man with his whole life ahead of him, is shocking; an all-too-real reminder that death does not always come just for the old.
5. 'I'm Going To Go Back There Someday' — The Muppet Movie
In this scene from the original Muppets movie, Kermit and the gang are down on their luck, stranded in the middle of nowhere with no hope of reaching Hollywood. While they gather around the campfire, Gonzo sings the heartwarming "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday," a song about the wonderful familiarity he has found with his new old friends.
When Muppets From Space was released 20 years later, Gonzo's song gained deeper meaning. In this film, Gonzo, mostly referred to as a "whatever" up until this point, is revealed to be an alien accidentally left behind by his people on an earlier visit to Earth. The familiar feeling Gonzo described while singing with his friends in The Muppet Movie was that of being with family, something he had not felt since before his biological family left him behind. Adults who realize this while watching Muppets From Space is sure to get a little emotional when Gonzo ultimately decides to stay with the Muppets.
6. The Ending Of The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh
At the conclusion of the first Winnie The Pooh film, The Many Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh, the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood learn that Christopher Robin is going away to school, though none of them are quite sure what that really means. Christopher Robin takes one last trip with Pooh, making the little bear promise that he will not forget him.
What makes this scene so heartbreaking as an adult is the loss of childhood innocence. With school comes the beginning of more grown-up responsibilities, and the woods that Christopher shares with Pooh will become harder to access. The worst part is that Pooh bear doesn't understand what's happening at all.
7. 'Can I Keep You?' — Casper
In Casper, the friendly ghost falls for Kat, the human girl who moves into the manor haunted by Casper and his three uncles. Towards the end of the film, Kat's deceased mother, now an angel, grants Casper a wish to be alive again for a few hours. Casper uses this time to dance with Kat at her Halloween party, allowing both of them a perfect Cinderella moment.
"Can I Keep You?"
With adult foresight, this sequence becomes extremely bittersweet. Things will inevitably change. Casper cannot keep Kat forever, because she is alive, and he is dead. Kat will continue to grow, mature, and eventually find love, while Casper remains frozen forever at age twelve.
8. Artax Succumbs To The Swamps Of Sadness — The NeverEnding Story
Early in The NeverEnding Story, the hero Atreyu must navigate the Swamp Of Sadness. Many previous travelers had been lost to the Swamp, sinking as sadness overwhelmed them. While a magic amulet given to Atreyu protects him from the Swamp's effects, his beloved horse, Artax, begins to sink. Despite his best efforts, Atreyu cannot save him.
As heartbreaking as this scene is as a child, it's even worse as an adult. Sometimes, people we love or admire become lost to depression, and it is not always possible to save them.
9. The Opening Montage Of Up
The mostly wordless opening scene of Up shows us the life of Carl and Ellie Fredricksen — from meeting as children, their marriage, right up until Ellie's heartbreaking death just as Carl has bought tickets for a trip she had wished to take her whole life.
With an adult level of understanding, the opening becomes even more heartbreaking, particularly the sequence depicting Carl and Ellie's struggle with infertility. Young children watching would not understand that Ellie suffers a miscarriage. Adults, sadly, would.
10. Leslie's Death — Bridge To Terabithia
After the trailers for Bridge To Tearbithia had led people to expect a Narnia-style adventure, many moviegoers were blindsided by a tragedy well known to anyone who had read the novel. After blowing off a daily trip to the imaginary world of Terabithia with his friend Leslie in favor of visiting a museum with the teacher on whom he has a crush, Jess returns home to the devastating news that Leslie has died. The old rope they used to swing across the river to Terabithia snapped, causing Leslie to fall in and drown.
This one is just as tragic to adult viewers as it is to children, though adults will have a greater understanding of the long-term effect Leslie's death could have on Jess. While he most likely couldn't have changed what happened even if he had been there, he will probably always wonder whether he could have saved her.
Which sad movie moment still makes you shed a tear?