The Unshaved Mouse’s Top 10 Most Tear-Jerking Disney Moments

Being a tough, grizzled, tobaccy chewin’ kind of rodent I rarely succumb to displays of emotion. But there have been times over the past two years that have caused my granite-like emotional stoicism to crack. Reviewing the entire Disney canon is a bit like pregnancy *dodges wife-flung heavy object* in that no one ever warns you what it does to your hormones and such. This is a list I’ve wanted to do for a while now: the Unshaved Mouse’s Top Ten Moments That Made Me bawl like an infant Chop Onions. How weepy are these moments? Let me put it this way; Bambi’s mother getting shot doesn’t even make the list. So stiffen your upper lip and think happy thoughts because this list is about to nutsack you right in the feels.

# 10- “NO! They pretend they’re going to always be there for you, and then one day they pack up and move away and take their love with them, and leave their declawed cat to fend for herself! They leave her, wondering what she did wrong.” Bolt.

Good grief but this movie does not get the respect it’s due.

#9- “You see, Willie was a miracle. And people just aren’t used to miracles.” Make Mine Music.
The oldest, and certainly the most obscure entry on this list, The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met is a short from Make Mine Music that starts out as an hilarious comedy about a whale with a talent for singing opera and takes a sudden massive swerve into darker territory when Willie is harpooned by an opera impresario who mistakenly believes that he’s swallowed an opera singer. It’s incredibly bleak, a story about someone who simply wanted to share his gift being destroyed by a world that cannot accept the unbelievable, no matter how wonderful it is.
Sad Stitch
#8- “Waiting” “For what?” “Family.”-Lilo and Stitch
Man, I could have made this list up of bits from Lilo and Stitch alone if I wanted to. Stitch’s transformation from furry sociopath to someone who needs love and affection has many steps along the way. This is the scene where he wanders into the forest, hoping that he will find someone to be his family only to be told by his creator that he was never meant to be loved. Harsh.
 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh Pooh and Christopher Robin
#7- “Promise me that you’ll never forget me? Even when I’m a hundred?” “How old shall I be?” “Ninety-nine. Silly old bear.” The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Aw jeez…he’s had him since he was a year old! Keep it together Mouse, keep it together…
Sad Squirrel
#6- “Well…yes boy. Yes, in its way I’d say it’s the greatest force on earth.”- The Sword in the Stone.
There are only entry two entires on this list from the Scratchy Era, which tended to go pretty easy on the emotional trauma all things considered, but this scene manages to wring real tragedy out of what is, on the surface, a pretty farcical situation. Wart is transformed into a squirrel by Merlin and meets a girl-squirrel who falls instantly in love with him. It’s played for laughs until Wart is transformed back into a human and his admirer’s dreams are transformed to ash. In the midst of all the emotional wreckage, Merlin sadly tells Wart that love is “powerful business”. Even the mightiest wizard in the universe knows that there are some forces that simply should not be trifled with.
#5- “The greatest glory and honour is having you for a daughter.” Mulan
Did I find this scene as affecting before I had a daughter of my own? No. What can I say? Becoming a dad flips a switch. It’s the way that Fa-Zhou casts aside the medal and the sword, articles of honour beyond any price, as if they mean nothing. His little girl is home. And nothing matters compared to that.
 my family
#4-“This is my family. I found it. It is small and broken. But still good. Yeah. Still good.” Lilo and Stitch
Look, I just want five minutes where Lilo and Stitch is not trying to break me like glass, is that too much to ask? Seriously, what did I ever do to this movie?
#3- “Dad. Come on. We gotta go home.” The Lion King
Yeah, you all knew this was coming. I don’t even know what I can say about this scene. Incredibly harsh, emotionally raw, utterly beautiful. And I’ve said it before, Jonathan Taylor Thomas does not get enough praise for his voicework in this movie. Absolutely phenomenal.
Onions. Shut up.

Onions. Shut up.

#2- “Aloha ‘oe.” Lilo & Stitch
And for the hat-trick…
Do you want to build a snowman
#1-“Do you want to build a snowman?”- Frozen
Part of me wants to hold off on this until I finally review Frozen, but I couldn’t have any other entry on the top of this list. This is the only one that will, without fail, get me to cry chop onions whenever I hear it. It’s sneaky too, it starts out with that joyous little piano intro so you think it’s going to be a happy, chirpy little number about a little girl whose unflagging optimism finally convinces her sister to open the door and come play with her. But she never does, and the song follows Anna’s mood, starting out happy and light, becoming more forceful and energetic as she gets older, then slower and more melancholy as she stops even trying. And then, after the death of her parents, Anna finally slumps down with her back to Elsa’s door, trying one last time to get through to her. The final, world-weary, “Do you want to build a snowman?” is utterly devastating not because of what’s being said but what’s left unsaid: I know you don’t. I just have to ask one more time. Because after this…I give up.
“Do you want to build a snowman?” in my opinion, is the single most emotionally devastating song in the entire canon because it is about the death of hope.
Now wasn’t that fun? What did I leave out? What should have been higher? What has no business on this list? Let me know in comments.
Mouse out.


  1. Bolt- that was a very sad and powerful moment.
    Make Mine Musc- never saw it
    Lilo and Stictch- My saddest moment in it is when Stitch see the Ducklings walk by further making him realise he seemingly ruined his chance at a family. It s very sad.
    Lon King- At that part all could think was “how long till true love’s kiss brings him back.” When Rafki said ” know where your father is.” knew he was dead and actually could tell they would have a dead speaker part right there. The sadness was outdone by excitement.
    Sword and the Stone- no emotional feel.
    Frozen- that seen made me a little sad, but that was it.
    Manny Adventures- I adore the movie, but the end is not that sad to me.
    My personal number 1 would be from Pinochio. “Name.” “Alexander.” “So, you can talk, huh?” “Yes sir, and I want to go home to my father.” that scene is what always got me.
    Wreck-it-Ralph would also have a spot with the car destruction and Ralph’s near death. Just commenting this made me tear up. Why did I have to read this before my most dry eye contest I gambled my life on?

  2. Nice list! I haven’t seen most of these entries on other peoples’ lists of the same subject (for example, your mentions of the scenes from “The Sword in the Stone” and “Bolt”). It’s also one of the few lists I’ve seen that doesn’t have Mufasa’s death scene at number 1 (or at least the top 2).
    I think you could’ve given “Baby Mine” from “Dumbo” an honorable mention. I know it’s a bit of a clíche pick for a list like this, but the whole concept of an INFANT seeing his mother in chains and (for all he knows at the moment) never being able to see her again is pretty tragic.
    I don’t know what my list would look like, but there are bits of the score of certain films that make me a bit weepy, like the score of Mufasa’s death scene and this piece of score that was cut from “BatB”:

    Still, great list!

    1. Oh, GAH “Baby Mine”! That was the first Disney moment I cried at. I think I was about seven. And my mom was utterly clueless as to what to do with me at that point.

  3. Love the list. Love. It. Couldn’t agree more.

    My friends are always on my case because I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about Frozen as they are. I ‘like’ the movie, but I don’t think it’s the single greatest thing Disney has ever made ever. But, one thing I WILL say is that I, do, occasionally, cry during that song…

    Also I love how Lilo & Stitch has three, THREE entries on this list! HA! Suck it Bambi!!!

  4. Lilo and Stitch was a real heart breaker. All Lilo wanted was a family. Stitch at the start of the movie wanted to destroy things, not realizing he didn’t have a family. That scene where he walked off into the forest was just well written, and well animated.

    When Mulan returned home to her family, Fa Zhou acted just like any real father would. What do meaningless items mean when the daughter you never thought you’d see again walks into the garden and says hi. I think they couldn’t have played it any better.

    The death of Mufasa was emotionally devastating to me. When i first saw it, I was like, he’ll get back up. He’s the king. But when Scar started talking, and when he said, “But the king is dead.” I lost it. I think it was one of the first times I ever saw a death in Disney. Hit me right in the feels.

    Frozen. I wanted to save my rants for Frozen until the review, but since Mouse decided to play this scene ahead of the review, let me just say it was so well written its scary. That song portrayed so much feeling it’s scary. Every verse matched her feelings at the age she was. And the last one? You could see Elsa wanted nothing more than to open that door and hug Anna, but her room was frozen solid. Her fear was fueling her power and she was afraid of hurting Anna again. It was the whole reason for everything in the movie. Why they were separated, growing up apart. I would love to see more of the time they were growing up, but to prequel something in now would ruin the feel. Can’t wait for the review, Mouse.

    And you will review it or I’ll put a glue pad on your laptop.

  5. Cool list Mouse! You always know how to cheer us up! 😀 So, here are my thoughts:
    BOLT: I’ve seen that scene, and I think it deserves that spot on this list.
    MAKE MINE MUSIC: I’ve never watched that movie, but reading your review of it was enough to make me really sad about the whale’s death.
    LILO AND STITCH: Yep, this movie has its sad moments, although I don’t think they would be THAT sad.
    THE MANY ADVENTURES OF WINNIE THE POOH: Kinda sad, sad enough.
    THE SWORD IN THE STONE: I always felt really sorry for that squirrel, it’s a really sad scene.
    MULAN: Well, it isn’t one of my favourite Disney movies and I didn’t get sad with that scene.
    FROZEN: That’s REALLY surprising, I didn’t get very sad with that moment, but I didn’t think about it too much neither.
    THE LION KING: My God, what can I say about this scene? There are some reasons about why this is my favourite animated movie of all time (fourteen reasons to be clear) and THAT SCENE is one of them. Of all my relationships with the people I know, the relationship with my father has always been the biggest one in my life, and from the first minute of the film I was able to identify our relationship with the one in the movie. And when I saw this movie for the first time, this scene… THIS SCENE traumatized me for life. The saddest one in my list.
    Well, see you in your next amazing post Mouse! 😉 I’m going to visit my psychiatrist and tell her that my nightmares came back 🙂

      1. I have to be at 1000 kilometres away from mine as required by court order. But this is a special case, and I think she is going to miss me a little 😉

      2. Na, what you need is one of those live animal traps sized for a cat and put a mouse-sized hole in the back of it. Then, when he’s chasing you, run through the trap and out the back and your psychiatrist is caught and you can have safe sessions.

  6. Ah yes, there are alot of really sad moments in the Disney Canon. I certainly agree with all of these, although I would put Mufasa’s death at the top just because my earliest memory is my parents carrying me out of the theater because I was crying so hard, which only made me more upset because even at three years old I knew the movie wasn’t over yet and I wanted to see what happened next.
    In my own list, I’d also add the scene towards the end of Marry Poppins where Marry says “And what would happen if I loved all the little children that I had to leave.” She’s just so matter-of-fact about it, it’s really cold and sad. And the scene from Wreck-it Ralph where Ralph has to destroy the car to protect Vanelope. I really cried at that part. And the death of Ray in The Princess and the Frog.

  7. Huh? I mean some of them, I get, but most of them are more heart warming moments than real “damn, I want to stop the waterworks” scenes….and yes, Bambi’s mother would my list…. as would the “Baby mine” scene (hell, when I was a child, I tended to start water up the moment Dumbo’s mother was taking away until the point when the crows turned up)….the Goodbye scene from “Fox and Hound”…..Penny loosing hope in “The Rescuers”…..The dog pound scene from “Lady and the Tramp”….even Marian begging for Robin’s life made me cry more than some of those….(but thanks for including the squirrel).

    1. And naturally the “death” of the beast and Eugene, respectively, and Snow White’s “funeral”…I mean when Grumpy starts to cry, I loose it to this day…with the organ music and all…and this scene is so damn long….

      1. lol…I really look forward to your review.

        The healing tears are btw. based on the original story (for some reason most reviewers seem to harp on this, but if there was ever a movie which has the right to use this trope, it’s Tangled).

      2. Yeah, the thing with “Tangled” is that on the surface, it has nothing to do with the original story…but on a second look, more or less all elements are there, just a little bit twisted. The long hair, the flower the mother eats during her pregnancy, the controlling witch, the tower, the murder attempt on the hero, the healing tears….the story which results out of it is totally different, but still true to the source material in a way.

  8. Interesting list and kudos for putting a scene from one of the package films on there!

    I agree that the “Do you wanna build a snowman” is extremely sad at the end and also agree with some others.

    I’ve never fully cried, but I can feel my heart getting heavy at times and water starting to well up. For me, the utmost moment that makes me “cry” is the scene in “Tangled” when it’s one of the Lantern Day Festivals and the King and Queen are inside the castle, not saying a word, and the King just heaves one heavy sigh looking downcast and the Queen puts her hand on his face to console him….I can’t write anymore….WAHHHH!!!!!

  9. Pretty good list, though I think using Lilo and Stitch multiple times is a bit of a cheat. But it’s your list and your blog so you make the rules.

    And in that tradition I’ll cheat too and echo what others have said and throw some praise at “Tangled.”

    The Lantern scene with the King and Queen is heartbreaking.

    Eugen’s death combined with the…

    “You were my new dream”
    “And you were mine”

    …. is a pretty good tear jerker even if the lines themselves are a tiny bit cliche, they’re delivered with such sincerity that they still pack an emotional punch.

    Finally Rapunzel’s reuniting with her parents also hits right in the feels.

    There are plenty of other great emotional Disney moments but I sometimes feel the need to stick up for “Tangled” as it seems to be glanced over more and more, especially after “Frozen” made such a big splash.

    1. You know, during the Disney Renaissance, “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” made the big splash (financially speaking)….but Imho, both “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast” are the better movies. Now Frozen is the big money maker…but I think it is for a big part riding on the quality of “Tangled” and “Wreck it Ralph”. For me, Tangled is the defining movie of the current era, no matter how much some people gush over Frozen.

    2. Tangled’s still plenty strong! Okay, maybe not as great songs or the box office or the impact in general to Frozen, but it was received just as well as Frozen critically.

  10. I have some major disagreements with this list.

    First of all, Lilo and Stitch will always be number 1. There’s a shocking amount of despair throughout that movie. There’s a trade off between having a “good” family and having a loving family, with BOTH main characters, and they never really get both.

    That song in Frozen was mostly used to set up the character, which it did well, but personally I need to already know the character to feel emotion when things happen to them.

    Really happy that you included Bolt and the Whale. They’re both usually left off lists like this.

    I would’ve included Fox and the Hound’s end goodbye scene. The whole movie leads up to them being friends again, and… They prove that the circumstances of your birth are more important than what you do with life? Depressing.

  11. I love “Do you want to build a snowman?”, but I think Anna’s act of true love is even sadder. Elsa’s face just makes me want to cry.
    I may be mistaken, but isn’t Anna the first princess to die, even if it was for a few seconds?

      1. Lol THANK YOU!
        I’m getting kind of sick of the whole “Frozen is the first to do [insert whatever]” crap. Honestly, the ONLY thing Frozen was the FIRST Disney movie to do was have a main character be a Queen that’s not evil. 😛

        I still LIKE Frozen, but it’s not as progressive as people think.

    1. Technically it is death by sleeping curse. Snow White was meant to sleep forever and be buried alive, which is pretty much the same thing as death.
      “I’m getting kind of sick of the whole “Frozen is the first to do [insert whatever]”
      About everything has been done by now, but films can still be different by doing the old things in different ways or by combining them with something else. The reviews of Frozen that bug me are the ones saying it is the only good Disney movie since Lion King. at least we still got several great Disney movies added to the cannon is the last half a decade.

      1. The movie is pretty specific that Snow White is dead, but will come to live again if she gets a true love kiss…if she weren’t dead, the Evil Queen wouldn’t be satisfied, because sleeping she would still be more beautiful.
        I know what you mean…the whole “that is the first movie which did that” was already annoying me with Brave, and with Frozen it is even worse. I give it the sister relationship (though it should be focus more on it instead of stupid side plots) and having a queen as deuteragonist.

      2. I agree. People are saying that it’s the best thing Disney has ever done which, quite frankly, it isn’t. If I had to choose the greatest crowning achievement of Disney, it would have to be Lion King. It’s not my personal favorite, but I think it’s the best they have ever done.

      3. I never heard anyone say Frozen was the ONLY good film since The Lion King. I heard “Best Animated Musical Since The Lion King” which seems more accurate. Well…kinda. There hasn’t been a best selling soundtrack from Disney for a while, okay?

      4. I know, me too! Think of:
        Emperor’s New Groove
        Lilo and Stitch
        Princess and the Frog

    2. Well, Anna is the first Disney Princess to “die” and bring herself back to life on her own. Her “act of true love” saved herself and Elsa.

  12. (Long time lurker; delurking)
    All very sad scenes (presumably, because I’ve never seen the whale one) – but in my opinion some of the most wrenching emotional scenes come from Toy Story 2 (“When somebody loves you”), Toy Story 3 (SO much of it! The incinerator scene! Andy’s face when he finally gives up Woody!), and then there’s Up. Ohhh boy. That scene at the beginning recounting his life with his wife is something else. I suspect none of the kids in the audience that day got it. I suspect EVERY adult had teary eyes.

  13. My number one sad Disney moment would have to be the part in Lilo and Stitch where Stitch is leaving and Lilo says: “I’ll remember you. I remember everyone that goes away.” There are plenty of incredibly sad scenes in that movie, but that line, spoken so matter-of-factly by a lonely little girl, always brings the tears. And the howling.

    Baby Mine, too. I start crying on the exact second the song begins. Other soft spots that come to mind are the heartbroken squirrel in The Sword in the Stone, Widow Tweed leaving Todd behind in Fox and the Hound and the sad king in Tangled. Don’t cry, sad king!

    I’ve only seen Frozen once, so I’ll pay attention to the song next time I watch it. But I got the feeling that the separation kinda weakened the sisters’ relationship – it’s like Anna and Elsa didn’t really know each other as grownups. Their unwavering love for one another was sweet but also stagnant, since they never doubted each other no matter what happened. If there had been fears and doubts in their relationship, events like Anna’s sacrifice would’ve been much stronger. In general, I think that Frozen was an okay movie with some really great scenes, but the hype is really overblown.

  14. How dare you leave out Ralph destroying Vanellope’s car! That still gets me to almost cry every time I watch the movie.

    The rest, I agree. That scene in Make Mine Music, especially, threw me off because it totally came out of nowhere.

  15. I completely agree with your list, Mouse. I would say the Disney moments that make me cry the most are the songs, Baby Mine from Dumbo and Someone’s Waiting For You from The Rescuers. Also, Ray’s death from The Princess and the Frog had me in tears when I first saw it in theatres.

  16. Well, for me in no particular order:
    -“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”
    -Anna’s death.
    -Eugene’s death
    -Lady yells at Tramp for not looking for her.
    -Mufasa’s death.
    -Mulan returns to her father.
    -Bolt finds out that “Penny” doesn’t
    love him.
    – Penny’s last words to Bolt.
    -Belle is separated from Maurice and a prisoner forever.
    -The Beast’s death.
    -Cinderella’s dress is ruined by her stepsisters.
    -Tiana’s reprise of “Almost There.”
    -Wreck-It Ralph smashes Vanellope’s car.
    -Bambi’s mother’s death.
    -Quasimodo is tortured by the townsfolk.
    -Nani finds out that Lilo is “gone.”
    -Dumbo visits Mrs. Jumbo (in chains).

    I’m sure there’s a lot more, but that’s as much as I can think of at the moment.

  17. One scene I think deserved a mention is the death of Kala’s baby in “Tarzan”, you know that scene at the very very start of the film where Phil Collins is singing something really sad sounding? Yeah. That always makes me cry.
    Otherwise, awesome list 😀

  18. “I don’t care what anybody says. You’ll always be a prince for me…” My number one for eternity.

  19. Did you ever see/read a fanmade reprise to ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman’ sung by Elsa. It hypothetically happens towards the end (you know after what scene). Another fan gave it a voice and uploaded it to Youtube. It’s a huge tearjerker in its own right

  20. Personally, having grown up absent a father figure, there are a duo of scenes at the end of Treasure Planet that make me bawl like the devastated and lonely child I am.

    1. When Jim and Silver part after the climax of the adventure – Silver with tears in his eyes encouraging Jim to “rattle the stars.”
    2. When the cyborg’s proudly smiling face is visible in the clouds following Jim’s graduation from the Interstellar Academy.

    Also, there are two moments that make me truly believe in magic, and those instances always move me to tears as well.

    1. When the Beast/Prince Adam is brought back to life (as opposed to when he passes; that’s always seemed like an overly-operatic death scene to me).
    2. The end of “Meet the Robinsons.” The perfect, loving adoption of sweet Lewis (Cornelius) and completing the movie with that perfect quote from Uncle Walt himself = tears every time.

    Finally, Ralph’s acceptance of himself as a worthwhile individual exactly the way he is despite the fact that he’s ruined pretty much everything in his world repeatedly. “There’s no one I’d rather be than me.” – Words to Die By

  21. I agree with everything on your list. Especially Mittens’ moment in Bolt – often compared to Jessie’s song in Toy Story 2 but Mittens seems to feel it more deeply. Also, that moment in Sword in the Stone is terribly under-appreciated, thank you for including it.
    I think what has to be the saddest moment in any Disney film (unless we’re counting Pixar’s Up of course, but I don’t think we are…) is this moment in Dumbo:
    I do not care for the rest of the movie, it is possibly my least favorite Disney film of all. But I know exactly how Mrs. Jumbo is feeling in that scene.

  22. Maybe it’s just ’cause being a Boomer and all and seeing as how a lot of these flicks were just plain after my time, but…
    …Very, VERY strange to me that all of you regular readers of the Unshaven One, as well as the One himself, live in a universe in which not only can Bambi be so easily overlooked, but Old Yeller apparently doesn’t even exist…

    1. Oh I get plenty of requests for Old Yeller and it’s dear to the hearts of many. The reason I haven’t reviewed it yet is that it’s not part of the Disney canon. As for Bambi, it is absolutely beautiful and the score is amazing but the characters are just a little too cutesy to engage me.

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