Devastating Disney Movie Moments

Disney movies show us magical worlds that we wish we could be part of. Maybe you want to go under the sea with Ariel or join another of the Disney Princesses. Or maybe you are a Toy Story fan that thinks the idea of shrinking down to the size of a toy and playing with the gang in Andy’s room would be so fun. Heck, even hair-raising Disney movies like The Haunted Mansion or action-packed films like Pirates of the Caribbean engage Guests in that Disney movie magic in a unique way. 

But sometimes movies can also strike an emotional chord, particularly if a viewer relates to a character or situation in the movie. Other times, it’s just flat-out sad scripting that has us reaching for the tissues while we watch a Disney movie. There are several devastating Disney movie moments that Disney fans bond over. Are any of your saddest Disney movie moments included in this list?

Stitch’s ‘Ohana Moment

Lilo and Stitch


Credit: Disney

So maybe this moment isn’t exactly sad, but it is extremely touching. I always get misty-eyed when I watch Stitch resign to his fate of returning to space as he explains the meaning of ‘Ohana to his alien counterparts. Every time I hear Experiment 626 utter “This is my family, I finally found it. It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah, still good.” I cannot keep it together. 

This movie is also packed with other tear-jerking moments, including Nani and Lilo’s solemn scene in the hammock and the night when Lilo explains her parent’s death to Stitch.

Mufasa’s Death

The Lion King


Credit: Disney

Let’s talk about the movie scene that got the trauma rolling for many a millennial. Watching Mufasa fall to his death as the wildebeests stampede the gorge in The Lion King is traumatic. But watching adorable cub Simba stand over the body of his dead father and attempt to wake him up is mentally scarring. 

The helplessness of Simba, paired with the immense loss of a parent, and Uncle Scar’s deceit, make this one of the saddest Disney movie moments for many Disney movie fans. But you don’t have to take our word for it, this scene is still breaking hearts today. In fact, a clip of an adorable toddler watching this sad movie scene for the first time went viral this week.

Baymax Floating Away

Big Her0 6


Credit: Disney

Big Hero 6 was a sad movie in many ways. We watched the protagonist, Hiro, deal with the loss of his brother who died in a tragic accident, and followed him as he unpacked his emotions following the death. But the hardest-to-watch scene for me is when adorable Baymax sacrifices himself to save Hiro at the end of the movie. 

Sure, Baymax is technically a health tool and not a person, but he is so real to viewers that watching him float away into space wrecks anyone watching. When Baymax reminds Hiro that he was programmed by Tadashi, his brother, to help people regardless of the cost, I always tear up.

Carl Fredricksen’s Devotion to Ellie


Credit: Disney Pixar

If watching soulmates find each other leads to an extremely happy ending, watching soulmates leave each other is another matter entirely. That’s right, I’m talking about that crotchety yet lovable old geezer in the Disney Pixar movie Up!. Carl is a devoted husband to his wife Ellie, even after she dies.

The opening montage of their life together and the depiction of how quickly the years pass ruins me every time I watch it. Viewers will definitely leave this film with inspiration to live in the moment and shoot for their dreams. In fact, this movie is the epitome of the slogan “take the trip”.

Carl and Ellie spent a lifetime enjoying each other, but procrastinated on the travel and adventures they hoped to have together. But nothing beats the emotional surge of watching Carl finally flip the page of The Adventure Book and see all the memories Ellie pasted on the subsequent pages at the end of this movie. This scene is more touching and emotional than sad, but it still brings the waterworks in my house.

Widow Tweed Releasing Todd

The Fox and the Hound

Credit: Disney

We’ve all heard the old adage, “if you love something, you have to let go” – well, The Fox and the Hound taught us this lesson early. Kind Widow Tweed that raised and bottle-fed an adorable orphaned fox kit, Todd, is forced to return him to the wild when his life is threatened by the next-door Hunter and hounds. The true love this kind woman feels is reflected in her actions

The music sequence of Widow Tweed reflecting on the good times she and Todd had as she drives her car down the lane away from home is too much for me to handle. Even worse, is the obvious confusion Todd feels when abandoned. This is a heart-wrenching Disney movie moment and as a pet owner, I sob when watching this scene

Bing Bong Sacrificing Himself

Inside Out


Credit: Disney Pixar

For every anxious child that has ever wondered if their toys or imaginary friends loved them or miss them, this one is for you. The Disney Pixar movie, Inside Out, brings us inside Riley’s mind, where we meet her imaginary friend Bing Bong. In his quest to help Joy save Riley’s happiness, he sacrifices himself to a pit of lost memories.

The symbolism, sacrifice, and true love shown by this quirky character are so overwhelming I always ugly cry as Bing Bong cheers “Go save Riley! Take her to the moon for me…” Audiences are huge fans of Bing Bong and agree that this is a heartbreaking scene.

Medusa Crushing Penny’s Hopes

The Rescuers


Credit: Disney

Slimy pawnshop or Madame Medusa is an especially volatile Disney villain that gives me the creeps. She’s all about using people to get what she wants, be it vulnerable little orphan Penny or that blundering henchman Snoops. 

One of the most devastating Disney movie moments in my opinion will always be in the 1977 film The Rescuers when Medusa tells Penny that she need not worry about going back to the orphanage because no family will ever adopt her. Watching the tears take Penny as she leaves the room dejected is one of the saddest moments in a Disney movie. This low blow was especially sad as viewers watch such a malicious comment break little Penny’s spirit.

 We broke out the tissues in movie deaths while watching Brother Bear, the ridicule of the crowd in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and of course, as Marlin guards the one precious egg left in Finding Nemo. Still, there are many more sad Disney movie moments in animated movies.

Which movie moment do you think is the saddest?

About Katie Chapman

Hey There! I am a Georgia native with a passion for writing, traveling, cooking, decorating, pugs and of course all things Disney. Growing up in South Georgia just a few hours from Walt Disney World made for a magical childhood. Some of my best memories were made on Main Street U.S.A. with my sister watching SpectroMagic nighttime parade or beside my grandparents, parents and extended family at Chef Mickey’s celebrating on a family vacation. Epcot was my favorite park from a young age and I credit it with my interest in and love for international travel. As a kid I loved meeting characters and watching films around World Showcase and could spend hours exploring each of the countries in Epcot. These days, my husband and I get away to explore a new country whenever we can and even incorporate trips to The Disney Store and Disney Parks around the world in our travels. One of our travel goals is to visit every Disney Park in the world. I love writing about Disney restaurants, park tips, Disney outfit inspiration and Disney history. Pocahontas is my favorite Disney Princess (90s kid here!) but Mr. Toad is my spirit animal. When I’m not at Disney I’m reading about park history, watching Disney documentaries and shopping vintage Disney merch for park outfits. I never pass up a reservation to Ohana, an empty seat on Living with the Land or a Violet Sake.