Disney animated movies have changed a lot over the years, from classic hand-drawn animation to CGI. But one thing that hasn’t changed is how these films can tug at the heartstrings and render the most strident of people into blubbering messes. It’s not just kids affected by these scenes, but adults as well, as Disney has a unique way of causing tears when not expected.
There are scores of moments, and it’s hard to narrow them down, given the wide range of properties from Disney and Pixar as well. Yet some stand out from the pack, whether they were from the classic Golden Age of animation or more recent offerings. Here are the five most tearjerker scenes in Disney animated film history to show how these movies have the power to turn on the waterworks.
5. Bambi’s Mother
It’s the moment that traumatized generations and is still one of the most shocking Disney animated scenes ever. For the most part, Bambi was a light-hearted tale of this fawn growing up, befriending Thumper and Flower, and looked to be a good comedy. Then comes a band of hunters, Bambi’s mother telling him to keep running as he heads over the hill, and then a gunshot echoes.
As the snow falls, Bambi wanders out, calling for his mother’s name. He’s stopped by the Great Prince, who solemnly tells him his mother is gone. It was a gut punch to viewers in 1942 and even more jarring for scores of home viewers as the lack of warning for Bambi and the audience made this one of the first Disney tearjerkers.