No one ever wants to see a character die. It’s always a bitter and hard moment for any viewer who’ve spent countless hours getting to know said characters and for some reason, Disney seems to have a lock on creating some truly sad deaths.

Whether it’s someone’s human brother or some animal crying over their lost father. Over the years though, Disney and its offshoot, Pixar, have managed to create some devastating and emotional demises that have scarred young ones, left audiences in tears, and never fails to elicit a sense of emotion anytime the scene pops up on the small and big screen.

Updated on February 20th, 2021 by Kristen Palamara: Disney movies, and in particular Disney animated movies, tend to have a great balance between comedy and tragedy. Most movies begin with someone the main character is close to, usually their parents or another relative, and the character has to reckon with the death of a loved one for most of the movie. The death of a loved one is, for most, a relatable painful experience that is heartbreaking to see on screen, and Disney movies are full of sad and emotional deaths that will stay with fans forever. 

15 The King And Queen Of Arendelle

Anna and Elsa’s parents from Frozen aren’t on screen for long but their deaths put a lot of the plot in motion, deeply affected their daughters, and impacted every citizen of Arendelle’s lives. The kingdom’s castle closed its doors after their death as Elsa was determined to hide her powers as her parents had insisted.

Although it’s nowhere near the most emotional death of Disney movies, it’s still a sad death that affects two young women and leaves them feeling lost at a young age.

14 Several Supers

The Incredibles was mostly a comedy, but like with most Disney animated movies, there’s heartbreak and sadness just beneath the surface. There’s a funny montage of Supers being injured or killed because of capes and explains Edna Mode’s refusal to add a cape to any Super’s costume, but the movie also had a much sadder montage of Super deaths.

Although the movie doesn’t build any of the Super characters the heartbreaking montage of several Supers being killed by Syndrome’s machines is heartbreaking especially seeing Mr. Incredible forced to watch the video of his friends dying.


13 Sitka

Brother Bear might not be the most well-known Disney movie, but it still is as emotional as any of their other animated movies. Kenai’s older brother, Sitka, is attacked and killed by a bear in their small community and appears to Kenai to help guide him throughout the movie.

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Kenai is magically turned into a bear after he kills a bear for no reason other than out of his own anger over his brother’s death.

12 Héctor

Even though Héctor is a main character of Coco once Miguel travels to the land of the dead and the two interact for most of the movie, his death is still an emotional climax. For most of the movie, Miguel’s family believes Héctor left his wife and child to pursue music and suddenly died from some bad chorizo, but the truth is much more sinister.

It’s revealed that Héctor was attempting to go home to his family when he was purposefully poisoned by the other half of their musical duo who didn’t want him to leave the tour.

11 Tala

Moana is a touching movie about a young woman finding her way, going on a journey, and attempting to save her small community including her Grandma Tala. Tala has supported Moana for her entire life and encouraged her to follow her passion to go to the ocean even though her father forbade it.

Grandma Tala dies and the death profoundly affects Moana and pushes her to finally leave her small island and travel to try to find the demigod Maui and save the future of her community.

10 General Li

Watch enough movies a pattern emerges with deaths. Usually, deaths will come after a joyful or positive scene, lifting the viewer’s mood before smashing it down again, as done in Mulan.

Following the classic “Girl Fighting For” musical number, filled with great gags and lines, the soldiers, Mulan and Li Shang are shocked along with the audience to see Shang’s father, his army, and the villagers they were sent to protect dead. One of the film’s funniest scenes gives way to one of the saddest as viewers take in the brutal scene and watch Shang lays his father to rest.

9 Lilo and Nani’s Parents

Far too often are deaths expected to be seen on screen to have an effect. Audiences always assume that the bloodier and more brutal demise is, the more impactful it maybe whereas a death offscreen, can be far more lasting.

While viewers never meet Lilo and Nani’s parents in Lilo and Stich, there is a mystery surrounding them up until Lilo explains to Stitch what happened. The words “they died in a car crash” coming from a little girl is nothing anyone wants to hear and has the desired effect.

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8 Coral

It’s strange how death can be quick yet long-lasting to the viewers. One would think that once someone’s gone, that’s it. Yet, as Finding Nemo proved, death can be longer than it seems, with the death of Marlin’s wife, Coral.

While only on screen for a few minutes, Coral leaves her mark as she tries to convince Marlin to name one of their many Nemo before being attacked by a barracuda that eats Coral and the kids. However, as Marlin and the audiences mourn, Coral’s sacrifice allows Nemo to live.

7 Kerchak

Oftentimes, the best deaths come from those redeemed in the eyes of the viewer. When Tarzan began, audiences took a disliking to the man who thought he was an Ape’s adopted father, Kerchak, who was always harsh and rough on Tarzan.

By the end of the film though, Kerchak finds love for Tarzan to the point of taking a bullet from the insane hunter Clayton as a way to save Tarzan. As Kerchak passes away, however, he finds himself finally able to see Tarzan as one of his own.

6 Tadashi

Typically in a film, death will come at the end or at a pivotal moment in the character’s arc. When the character, like Hiro’s brother Tadashi in Big Hero 6 perishes in a fire in one of the movie’s saddest moments, though, that’s not where his path ends even as his death rattles viewers.

Throughout the rest of the film, Hiro struggles with Tadashi’s death, right up until BayMax, a lovable, marshmallowy robot, shows a video of Hiro’s brother, letting him in a way say good-bye and bring about the waterworks once more even after death.

5 Ray

Love is a curious thing. Love, as most people believe, pertains only to human or realistic characters. For Ray, the cajun firefly from The Princess and the Frog expresses a love for a star that he calls Evangeline that he believes is a firefly.

Ray does get a chance to be with his love though, after being squashed by the nefarious Dr.Faciler(who also has one of the best Disney villains outfits) after Ray tried to help Tiana. As the tears flow, a smile forms as Ray is changed into a star and joins his Evangeline in the sky.

4 Bing Bong

Everyone has had an imaginary friend at one point in their life. They may not remember them anymore, but they had them. Inside Out reminds audiences of the imaginary friend they forgot with Bing Bong, Riley’s imaginary friend, and a great imaginary mentor.

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Long since forgotten, Bing Bong helps Joy when the two fall into a pit, using his rocket-powered wagon to get them out. However, when they can’t make it up, Bing Bong sacrifices himself happily, cheerfully telling Joy to “take her to the moon for me” before fading away as the audiences bawl.

3 Bambi’s Mom

As far back as anyone can tell, Disney has been scarring young audiences since the golden age of animation. Whether it be in the form of a witch who can turn into a hag or dragon or something as simple as evil in humanity, such as in Bambi.

Viewers fell in love with Bambi as well as Bambi’s caring mother. So, of course, Disney decides to murder Bambi’s mom by having a hunter shoot her. It’s a vicious and heartbreaking scene, made worse by Bambi lying by his mom afterward.

2 Mufasa

There’s always one scene, something that’s become classic not because of happiness or spectacle, but because of the evil, horror, and sadness, the scene holds. The Lion King has probably one of the more horrific scenes in cinema: the death of Mufasa.

After rescuing Simba from a stampede, Mufasa tries to escape only to be confronted by his treacherous brother, Scar, who utters a single, cruel Disney villain line that has become one of the best, “Long live the king” before sending Mufasa to his death in a brutal, shocking, and emotionally scarring scene.

1 Ellie

So many times, audiences see a character die fighting a terrible foe, or risking their lives for someone else. Yet, in animation, viewers don’t see someone die a death like that in Up.

In one of the greatest opening scenes in any movie and one of the saddest scenes in Up, audiences are treated to watching Ellie and Carl live their marriage out, through all the highs and the lows until Ellie passes away from an illness after saying goodbye to her friend and lover. It’s a scene so beautiful and heartwrenching, no one’s eyes are left dry.

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