Tear Jerker / An American Tail

"Don Bluth's philosophy was that children could handle just about anything as long as you attached a happy ending. Fuck you Mr. Bluth! I may be able to handle it, but my therapy bills won't! (Inelegant Blubbering)

This has been argued as the most depressing movie Don Bluth has ever directed.

  • James Horner's score is absolutely heartbreaking.
  • The Orphan Alley scene. It's just hard to watch.
    Fievel: This is my home now...
    • And the camera panning out, showing us the hundreds of other orphans sleeping, also having lost hope...
      • Then it pulls a Bambi and gives us happy birds after arguably the saddest part.
  • Fievel hearing his father's voice and muttering a barely audible "Papa...?" near the end of the movie is the simplest, yet strongest tearjerker ever.
  • The Irish lad in the song "There Are No Cats in America", singing about how his true love was killed by a cat, after all.
    Irish Lad: In a flash of teeth and fur/Her tail was all he left of her...
  • The song Somewhere Out There is really one big tear jerker as well.
  • When Fievel is finally reunited with his family (a happy tearjerker, but one nonetheless). Especially since Fievel was shown as having given up all hope in the previous scene.
  • "Five. I mean...four."
  • The scene where Fievel first thinks he hears his father's violin playing...it turns out to be a record player. It's his reaction that does it.
  • Fievel looking at a classroom through a window, especially since it was based off a story about Steven Spielberg's grandfather (also named Fievel), who couldn't go into a school because he was Jewish and could only hear the lessons outside in the snow.
  • As a child (and adult) I could never get past Fievel calling out Mama! Papa! from the bottle without seriously sobbing.
  • In Fievel Goes West, when the cats attacked the Mousekewitzes and the Toponis does it when you realize that these families had accomplished so much in the 1st movie, but they're still being attacked by cats. What made it worse was that Tony and Bridget now have a baby that was being attacked.
  • While The Treasure of Manhattan Island doesn't really have any specific moments that will leave you bawling, it's a surprisingly depressing movie in its own right, tackling themes of racism, police brutality and sweatshops. It doesn't even have much of a happy ending. The underground Native Americans decide that Europeans are incapable of sharing the upper world with them (having witnessed Police Brutality and a race riot), so they seal off the main tunnel. And the villains behind it only get off with a slap on the wrist. The An American Tail universe really is a bit of a Crapsaccharine World.
    • Of course, the beginning of The Mystery of the Night Monster mentions that slave-driving clothing factory owners were exposed by Nellie Brie and put in jail. Those factory owners could likely be the third film's main villains, although it isn't exactly stated who they were. Check the Awesome tropes for details.
    • Watching Fievel tear up in one scene after becoming disillusioned with America does tug at the heartstrings.
  • From a meta-level, Jimmy Stewart's last role, a tribute to his Western roles in the best. His final lines are achingly poignant:
    Wylie: Just remember, Fievel - one man's sunset is another man's dawn. I don't know what's out there beyond those hills. But if you ride yonder... head up, eyes steady, heart open... I think one day you'll find that you're the hero you've been looking for.