The saddest animated kids’ movies may be good, but they can also be extremely difficult to watch. And with ‘Toy Story 3′ being the latest tearjerker making audiences of all ages cry, it seems like a good time to check out the saddest animated movies for kids (and it’s also a good opportunity to see some of saddest kids’ tearjerkers of all time that TIME left off of this list). So from robots to Rover, here’s a look back at some of the saddest kids’ animated movies:
Up – I’ll start with the saddest of all of Pixar’s animated movies. It’s one that probably made more adults cry than kids, as us older folks all fear losing someone we hold dear before they can achieve their dreams. I guess Dug the Dog was supposed to be the perfect comic relief tissue later on, but even his antics didn’t keep me from feeling like I was on the verge of tears throughout the rest of the film.
Bambi – Has there ever been a better anti-hunting movie? When it comes to the saddest animated kids’ movies, they just don’t make them like this anymore. I mean, adorable Bambi’s mother was basically murdered in cold blood at the beginning of the film. It may be a great coming-of-age story full of cute and cuddly characters, but I’ve only been able to make it through the entire thing once.
The Iron Giant – We’ve all seen the boy meets dog, boy loses dog tales, but what about a boy meets giant robot, boy loses giant robot story? It’s heart-wrenching to watch Hogarth lose his only best friend as the iron giant makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his little buddy and the rest of the town he lives in, but, like many of the saddest animated movies for kids, at least this one does have a happy (and creative) ending.
The Lion King – This movie was the ‘Bambi’ of my generation, but here the bad guy is one of little lion cub Simba’s own kind and kin. To watch his father’s own brother let him fall into a stampede of wildebeests was hard enough, but seeing Simba’s reaction to the event is what will really get the waterworks going. The tragic death definitely makes it one of the saddest kids’ movies, but the portrayal of a family betrayal and the reality that such hatred for one’s on flesh and blood exists in the world makes it even more difficult to get over seeing.
Dumbo – Yet another of the saddest animated Disney movies for kids featuring animals suffering at the hands of humans, poor tiny Dumbo is growing up within the confines of a circus. It’s tragic itself that a fate like this would befall a majestic animal like an elephant, but Dumbo’s life is made much worse through constant teasing and (here’s the real tearjerker) separation from his mother. Once again, the movie has a happy ending (that involves the elephants staying in the circus), but that won’t stop you from shedding a few tears for Dumbo and his gigantic ears.
Fox and the Hound – In this saddest of animated Disney movies aimed at kids, the hunter’s little helper that sniffs out little Bambis befriends one of his biggest enemies: an adorable little fox. It’s heartbreaking to watch the two grow older and suffer an inevitable separation (especially when the hound finally turns and tries to hunt down his old friend), and the ending is a bit bittersweet (after all, the hound will always be a hunting dog). It may be sad, but it’s still one of Disney’s most underrated animated movies.
An American Tail – In this heartbreaking “tail”, a tiny little mouse gets separated from his family before arriving in a strange new world where he suffers by working in a sweatshop and braving the dangerous streets to search for his family. But what also makes this one of the saddest animated movies are the naïve mice in it whose dreams of a new, cat-free world are dashed when they encounter some of the filthiest felines you’ve ever seen. It has plenty of moments brought to you by Kleenex, but it’s an imaginative movie about the dashed dreams of early American immigrants worth watching.
All Dogs Go To Heaven – Sure many of the saddest movies about dogs involve them dying in some way, but not quite like streetwise Charlie does here. It’s hard enough to watch poor Charlie get murdered, but when he manages to sneak back to Earth, it’s terrifying to think that he’s going to doggie hell when he dies. To make things even sadder, dirty dogs are taking advantage of a poor orphan girl with the ability to talk to animals, and Charlie proceeds to do the same, breaking her heart by breaking his promise to help her find a family. And to make things even sadder, Charlie dies a second death in the movie! It’s definitely one of the oddest animated movies you’ll ever see, but it’s nice to know that all our furry friends are better off than us when it comes to the afterlife.
Secret of NIMH – In another of the saddest animated movies for kids starring mice, you’ll definitely shed a tear over a mother’s love for her very sick son. There are plenty of tearjerker deaths in this adventure about a secret society of super-smart rats and the animal stars are, once again, in danger due to humans, but it does have a happy ending.
The Last Unicorn – If the idea of the last unicorn isn’t enough to make a girl cry, then one of the saddest movies you’ll ever seen about these fantastical beasts definitely will. Here a unicorn learns that she is the last of her kind (thanks to the evil Red Bull). A magician’s volatile sorcery turns her into a human, which gives the last unicorn a whole new kind of heartbreak: falling in love and losing her love. It’s another of the saddest animated movies with a bittersweet ending, as the last unicorn has to learn to live with regret (but she is thankful she got a small but sweet taste of love).
So from mythical beasts to those suffering at the hands of man and an iron man, the saddest animated movies here might have you shedding a few more tears that the ending of ‘Toy Story 3’.