As this list will soon prove, the Toy Story series has many, MANY, moments designed to make a grown man weep like a freshly minted orphan. This is the original. When Buzz Lightyear sees a commercial for himself on TV, he tries to prove to himself that he's not just a toy by climbing up a stair bannister and trying to fly to a nearby open window. The scene is shot in a way that almost feels motivational. Even though you know Buzz can't fly, there's a brief moment where you almost think he could make it....then he plummets to the ground, breaks his arm off, and helplessly sits there grappling with the fact everything he knew about himself was essentially a lie. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if an original draft of the script included a dog walking over and pissing on his mangled body, because the people at Pixar are monsters who don't care who they hurt.
Okay, so we all kinda knew Wall-E was going to die, right? This is a Pixar movie and he was too lovable not to. We also all knew that he wasn't going to stay dead for very long, because, well, he's lovable and Pixar movies are still technically for children. That said, even though there's nothing particularly shocking about the scene, it's still devastating for the brutality with which it's presented. I mean, just look at how his lifeless corpse just flops down like that. For comparison, here's a scene from the highly disturbing art house horror Funny Games in which a woman finds the battered body of her dead dog.
See. Pretty much the same thing.
They had such a good thing going. What kind of hubris would make them think they could devote an entire movie to Larry the Cable Guy?!?!?
Toy Story 3 needed to wrap up the trilogy, and when this scene rolled around it almost felt possible that the bastards at Pixar would do so by violently murdering their protagonists in a blistering inferno of scrap metal. Honestly, would that be worse than Finding Nemo? (More on that in a sec.)
Okay, so maybe we don't watch the toys die, but we do get to see them accept their own mortality and brace themselves for death which...honestly, it might be worse. There are few scenes as grim as watching the toys grab each others hands and accept their fate, and the fact that it happens in a kids movie is all the more astonishing. Also, +10 points to Pixar for evoking the Holocaust!
[Note: Youtube wouldn't let me embed the part I wanted to, so click the link in the paragraph to see the truly upsetting parts of the scene.]
Goodbyes are always hard. They become infinitely harder (and harder to watch) when one of the people saying goodbye doesn't realize this is the end. The fact that Boo is arguably the cutest child in the history cinema doesn't help much either. Watching her swing the door open expecting to see her friend, but only seeing a closet is not only heartbreaking, but also a perfect metaphor for the loss of childhood innocence experienced by anyone forced to watch this scene.
I dunno why everyone thinks Bambi is so sad, given that Finding Nemo exists. The movie begins with an actual massacre, in which our protagonist tries in vain to stop an eel from eating his wife and most of his children. Honestly, I'd take one dead deer over this bloodbath any day of the week.
Given that the movie is basically meant to teach people that sadness is a part of life, you could've probably guessed that Inside Out was going to have some sad moments. That being said, nothing could have prepared you for the death of Bing Bong. After years of hearing "You killed my childhood!" Pixar went literal with this one and dramatized the death of an imaginary friend. The scene is so sad that it even makes an actual personification of happiness shed a tear.
Of course the finale of the Toy Story trilogy was designed to make you sob. Of course it was. Though the sight of Andy playing with his plastic friends one last time before he leaves them behind for college isn't as inherently sad as some of the other moments on this list, the fact that it's the culmination of 15 years worth of build up makes the melancholy that much more palatable. It's the emotional equivalent of pulling your leg waaaaaaaaaaaay back, before giving someone a swift kick in the testicles.
Okay, obviously this was going to be on this list, but what are we supposed to do? Not include it? Up! was tasked with making us relate to a bitter old man protagonist, so they decided to cram a lifetime's worth of heartbreak into one 5 minute long montage. Arguably one of the greatest scenes in the history of cinema, the opening sequence is at both beautiful and definitive proof that life is miserable.
Long before she was singing background vocals for images of dogs being abused, Sarah McLachlan was making us cry with this soul crushing ditty from Toy Story 2. The song itself is so sad that if you played it over a montage of happy babies in silly hats, it would still manage to be really upsetting. The fact that it's paired with images of Jessie realizing that she's been abandoned by the only person she cares about makes it....well, it's devastating. Fuck you, Pixar.