If you watch Pixar films, you know they deal with some emotional real-life issues. Growing up is hard. Life doesn’t always work out as planned. Letting go of our fondest friendships is a part of life. This is the foundation of Pixar’s genius.
While Pixar’s films routinely make kids laugh, they are films that will drop an adult to their knees. Think about all the Pixar movies you have seen with your kids, friends, or even by yourself (be honest).
Can you name the most emotional moments in Pixar history? Here are 10 cinefeels to consider:
(This should go without saying but just in case… there are SPOILERS below)
10. poppa’s death: the good dinosaur (2015)
This is a trend you will see throughout these top ten emotional moments. Pixar (and Disney) is clearly obsessed with killing parents. Here, we begin with Arlo’s father’s death scene from The Good Dinosaur. Are we sure Pixar even makes kid’s movies? Watching Arlo’s reaction as his father is swept away from the flood is incredibly dark and tragic for an animated film.
9. WALL-E is Restored: Wall-e (2008)
This is the single greatest romance in animation film history. WALL-E was full of life and love. You root for this lovable robot during his journey across the galaxy. Watching him turn into a somber machine at the end was borderline torture. You can sense WALL-E‘s innocence and search for true love was all but nearly gone. After nearly being destroyed, EVE restores his memory by humming a song and giving WALL-E an Eskimo kiss (spark).
8. the taste: ratatouille (2007)
Food is love, but it’s also the bridge to our fondest memories spent our loved ones. Watching Anton Ego’s reaction to tasting Remy’s ratatouille is hands-down one of my favorite Pixar moments. Seeing him finish his plate with his fingers, throwing away any resemblance of etiquette, was so great.
We see Anton immediately flashback to himself as a child. There he is, tearing up while watching his mother cook one of his favorite childhood meals. This isn’t the tearjerker moment like many others on the list. However, it’s easily one of the best cinefeels.
7. opening scene: finding nemo (2003)
Why do you do this to me Pixar?! The title sequence of Finding Nemo was a straight shot to the stomach. The sudden loss of Coral paired with the beautiful film score by Thomas Newman left everyone frozen in their seats. Marlin naming the one remaining egg Nemo after the memory of his wife cements this as one of the most emotional moments in Pixar history.
6. jessie’s farewell: toy story 2 (1999)
This is the Old Yeller scene of Pixar.
This scene from Pixar’s team of sadists is so gut-wrenching that I immediately skip forward past this scene. Each time I find myself watching Toy Story 2, this happens. If sadness was heavy and rectangular-shaped, then this scene hits like a bag of bricks.
Through a collection of flashback scenes, we see Jessie’s owner eventually grow up and forget that Jessie has been lying under her bed. When Jessie gets picked up by accident, she gets her moment in the sun only to be left at a donation center. It’s a firm reminder to cherish and never take for granted the time you have with your loved ones.
5. bing bong’s death: inside out (2015)
The concept that an imaginary friend loving you eternally, despite being abandoned for years, hits many of the same notes as Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. Bing Bong disappears from memory after his sacrifice for Riley’s happiness. That is absolutely brutal. Personally, I’m glad I watched this film as an adult because this scene would have messed me up as a child. “Take her to the moon for me,” says Bing Bong. He is one of the most selfless Pixar characters of all time.
4. sadness’ redemption: inside out (2015)
Watching Riley breakdown in front of her parents was nightmarish. “I miss Minnesota,” says Riley, who has been the emotional rock of her family throughout the film. The realization that sadness is a healthy component to everyone’s mental health was an incredible message. That message is even further nailed into our souls by Michael Giacchino’s beautiful and hauntingly emotional piano score.
3. Proud Corazón: coco (2017)
The ending scene of Coco is a beautiful salute to family and remembering those who have fallen. Even though they’re gone, we must remember they are forever a part of our soul. Watching Hector finally able to cross the bridge and return home while holding hands with his family is so incredibly heartwarming. Beyond that, seeing Miguel’s family finally accept his love for music at the end of the film is the perfect recipe for one of the most emotional moments in Pixar history.
2. the handoff: toy story 3 (2010)
Growing up can be so much fun, but it also means moving on. As someone in mid-30s who grew up loving all the characters of Toy Story, there is an overwhelming scene. When you watched Andy move to college and hand his toys to Bonnie, how emotional were you?
I remember completely losing it during Andy’s last ride with Woody and Bonnie in the front yard. As a massive Toy Story fan, it’s been quite the journey. Even though there was a fourth Toy Story film, this scene cemented the franchise as one of the best trilogies of all time when it was first released.
1. ellie’s death: up (2009)
I remember being able to hear the tears rolling down everyone’s face vividly when we saw Up on opening weekend. The first few minutes began with so much wonder and imagination, only to throw you into a complete waterfall of emotions. Watching Carl’s best memories with Ellie, only to see her become the memory, easily makes this the number one most emotional moment in Pixar history.