Often the first time a child will experience any sort of loss in their lives will be when a beloved pet passes away. While death is an inevitable and unfortunate part of life, it is something that, unlike many things, never gets any easier to experience.
I believe it's often because of our own experiences that watching the death of animals in movies is ridiculously difficult and emotional. As viewers, we empathize with the characters who have lost a furry friend, often to the point of tears ourselves.
Today I've compiled a group of 12 clips of the most upsetting and heart wrenching animal deaths in films, and your challenge, if you choose to accept, is to read the rules and follow along:
Don't be afraid to feel the emotion - the clips are pretty intense, but be sure to let us know what one was saddest for you in the comments.
1. Artax - The NeverEnding Story
On his quest to find a cure for the Childlike Empress' illness, Atreyu travels through the Swamp of Sadness. While Atreyu makes it through unscathed, he loses his companion and friend Artax who just couldn't overcome his sorrow.
2. Hachiko - Hachi: A Dog's Tale
Faithful dog Hachikō waits for his owner Parker Wilson outside the train station every day. One day Parker dies at work, but Hachikō continues to return to the station every day for 10 years to wait for his owner's return. One day, a now-elderly Hachi imagines Parker coming out of the station and greeting him, and the old dog dies, finally content at having been reunited with his master.
The film was actually based on a true story of the Akita Inu Hachikō, who waited outside Shibuya station for his master for 9 years, until his death in 1934.
3. Littlefoot's mom - The Land Before Time
After saving Littlefoot and Cera from Sharptooth, and then being caught in an earthquake, Littlefoot's mother suffers severe injuries. She imparts her final piece of wisdom on her son, and dies shortly thereafter.
4. Hedwig - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Hedwig was Harry's 11th birthday present from Hagrid, and was his faithful friend and pet for the next 6 years. While trying to escape Little Whinging in the Battle of the Seven Potters, Hedwig was callously struck down by a Killing Curse which killed her instantly.
5. Marley - Marley & Me
After adopted a rambunctious golden Labrador puppy, John and Jenny Grogan go through many ups and down trying to train him. After seeing the couple through new jobs, houses, and the arrival of two children, the old dog becomes ill and is euthanized with John at his side. The Grogan family takes Marley home, and buries him with Jenny's necklace under a tree in their front yard.
6. Ginger - Black Beauty
After being separated from his beloved friend Ginger for many years, Black Beauty finds her, weakened and working as a cab horse. Despite begging Ginger to stay strong, he one day spots her dead body on a wagon being led away.
7. Charlotte A. Cavatica - Charlotte's Web
Spider, Charlotte A. Cavatica forms an unlikely friendship with Wilbur the pig, and prevents him from being butchered due to her wonderful web spinning skills. However, eventually Charlotte produces an egg sac, and shortly after saying goodbye to her porcine pal, she dies.
8. Bambi's mom - Bambi
Running from hunters, young Bambi manages to escape gun shots and flees to safety inside a cave. Unfortunately, his mother never makes it, and Bambi is orphaned.
9. Old Yeller - Old Yeller
Old Yeller forms a close bond with the Coates family, and proves a friend and protector while patriarch Jim is away - particularly to young Travis Coates. One night while protecting the family from a rabid wolf, Old Yeller is bitten and infected with rabies. After becoming rabid, Travis is forced to shoot his best friend, and take his step towards adulthood.
10. Samantha - I Am Legend
When Samantha the dog, Robert Neville's only companion in the whole world, is bitten by infected zombie-dogs, Neville does everything he can to save her life. Sadly, it's not enough and when a sick Samantha shows signs of infection, Robert is forced to strangle his friend to death.
11. Mufasa - The Lion King
After Simba is put in danger by Scar, Mufasa rushes to save his young cub from a stampede. After almost escaping, Scar throws Mufasa to his death, and Simba is riddled with guilt, believing he was responsible for his father's death.
12. Skip - My Dog Skip
Looking back on his life, only child Willie Morris fondly remembers his childhood dog, Skip. With the help of Skip, Willie makes friends and comes out of his shell until eventually he grows up and leaves to go to Oxford University. In the final moments of the film a now-elderly Skip remains at home with Willie's parents and eventually dies, sleeping on Willie's bed.
BONUS: Shadow - Homeward Bound
Now, this clip doesn't strictly contain an animal dying, but it looks like that's where things were headed for elderly Shadow in Homeward Bound. After surviving a huge trek in the wilderness to return home, Shadow falls into a muddy pit and is unable to get out. While urging his companions Sassy and Chance continue home, it seems as though Shadow will die scared, alone and muddy. Thankfully, Shadow somehow musters the strength to get himself out of the pit, and limps home to his owner, Peter.