Behind-The-Scenes Facts About 14 of Disney’s Most Heartbreaking Moments

If there’s one thing it seems like Disney (and Pixar) love to do with their films, it’s to make the adults in the room cry (and the kids wonder wtf is going on). From Bambi to Up and too many in between to name, who among us hasn’t broken down in the fact of animated beauty and loss?

If you’re a big Disney fan, you’re not going to want to miss these fun (and sad) tidbits that helped shape some of their more heartbreaking moments.

14. Disney wasn’t willing to invest much in Lilo & Stitch.

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It wasn’t based on a fairy tale and included tough storylines, which in Disney’s mind made it a “gutsy” movie – and they invested much less in it as a result.

13. Many of the early films include parent death for a reason.

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They need the character to grow up, says executive producer Don Hahn.

“The movies are 80 or 90 minutes long, and Disney films are about growing up. They’re about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility.”

12. Originally, Bing Bong’s death in Inside Out was more drawn out.

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It was “a lot sadder” and I, for one, and glad we didn’t get to see it.

11. They tried to make Mufasa “the greatest father that ever lived.”

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You know, so it would hurt more when he died. Jerks.

10. Actor Kaitlyn Dias imagined her cat dying in order to cry on cue.

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She’s the voice of Riley in Inside Out.

9. Kristen Bell inspired “The Next Right Thing.”

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It’s a personal mantra she uses to handle her own depression and anxiety.

8. The originally planned to reveal Nemo’s tragic beginnings slower.

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They were going to intercut Nemo in the net with the scenes of the barracuda.

7. Andy looking back at his toys one last time was inspired by director Lee Unkrich’s last moment with his grandmother.

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“I went back to visit her, and there was a moment during that visit that I had to say goodbye, and I knew I’d never be seeing her again. I looked at her and knew that I was looking at her for the last time. Taking that in before I turned away and left. Of course, that’s something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

6. Onward creator Dan Scanlon based the relationship on his own with his brother.

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His father died when he was a baby, and he knew he wanted the film to end with Ian realizing Barley was a perfect father figure.

5. Tadashi was always going to die.

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It was part of the initial pitch for Big Hero 6, and the rest of the story and moments were all built around that “emotional core.”

4. They originally left out the gory details at the beginning of Tarzan.

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Director Kevin Lima explained that not only did audiences not quite get it, but the impact was off, too.

“There is a yin and a yang to these pictures that is good. When these awful things happen, you can feel the joy later in the film all the more. It’s a savage world out there, even when you walk out your front door and out on the street, and kids realize that.”

3. They almost cut the moment in Up when Ellie learns she can’t have children.

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Some thought it was going “too far,” but others knew it was just what they needed to really make people care about them and their journey.

2. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen cried together watching Jessie get donated during Toy Story 2.

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Hanks said, “I was in tears, and we were looking at each other, going, ‘That’s some powerful stuff.’ To be reduced to that and to a level of emotion like that on a cartoon about talking toys and their adventures, it’s profound, there’s no other word for it.”

1. It took animators nearly a year to perfect the scene in The Little Mermaid where Eric almost dies.

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The final scene was only about 2 minutes long.

I’m tearing up again but it’s fine. I’m fine.

What’s the saddest moment in a Disney movie for you? Now that I’m a mom, it’s definitely Dumbo. 

I’m seriously never watching it again.