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Tear Jerker: The Lion King
Mufasa's demise, obviously. The scene where Mufasa is killed shows the body pulled about by his son.
It's especially sad for kids because if something so horrible could happen to the perfect dad, who's to say it couldn't happen to their own father?
The music that plays during the scene certainly doesn't help, especially when the part when Mufasa's theme comes in. It's the part around 1:15. Add Simba trying in vain to wake his dad up, and then in utter despair trying to cuddle up under his paw, and you have a scene that is possibly one of the saddest in any animated film ever.
The scene also became a tearjerker for the film's creators, as they received a letter from a young boy who had lost his father, thanking the creators for the film as it helped him deal with his loss. The staff were moved to tears by it.
The scene is even more heartbreaking in theaters, in 3D...
This scene is arguably worse than the death of Bambi's mother. For one thing, there isn't any Mood Whiplash to this scene. Afterwards, Scar tells HIS OWN NEPHEW that it's his fault his father is dead, to run away and never return, before sending the Hyenas kill him. There's a little bit of comedy courtesy of Banzai falling into a bramble patch ("Cactus Butt!").
There's also the fact that, unlike Bambi's mother, Mufasa is a *real* character with heart and humor who the audience has come to love and sympathize with. To see him snuffed out so cruelly is heartbreaking for audiences.
Afterwards, however. we see Scar giving a none-too-sincere eulogy for Simba and Mufasa just before he takes the helm, and we see the lionesses and Zazu's reaction to this... And then the Hyenas come out. And these aren't the goofy trio that we know and love; these hyenas are Nightmare Fuel.
Followed by Rafiki's reaction.
Followed by Simba almost dead in the desert. A lot of people probably consider it a good thing Timon and Pumbaa showed up when they did.
2 Meta examples with voice actors. Jonathon Taylor Thomas was recording this scene and his mom was present so his director told him to imagine his mother falling; he proceeded to screw up the take by yelling "MOM!" instead of the scripted "DAD!" And then in a different dub (I can't quite remember which), there was a break in the recording and the director noticed that Simba's cub voice actor was unusually quiet and asked what was wrong. Turns out the kid's father had recently died.
The size of this point proves that this scene is, and will remain, within the top 5 saddest moments ever in animation history.
The scene following Mufasa's death when Scar convinces Simba that it's all his fault.
Although not quite as bad as the other tearjerkers, when Mufasa saves Simba and Nala from the hyenas you feel Mufasa's distress at his son being in grave danger if you're a parent. Driven home in the following scene when Mufasa confesses to his son that the possibility of losing him is the one thing that made him genuinely scared. Even moreso during the stampede, when you can clearly see the distress on Mufasa's face as he searches desperately for Simba among the mass of wildebeests.
There's a very understated bit during the stampede. Zazu is flying through the gorge searching for Simba and finds him desperately clinging to a tree branch over the rampaging wildebeest. Simba cries out for Zazu to help him, and all Zazu can do is reassure him that his father is coming and tell him to hold on. Simba has caused Zazu plenty of irritation in the past, but Rowan Atkinson's excellent voice acting definitely gives the impression that right now Zazu would give anything to be able to pull Simba out of harm's way. But he knows he's not strong enough to lift Simba and therefore can't save him. That probably haunted him for years.
Nasty Fridge Horror when considering Zazu for this whole thing. After Mufasa goes down into the gorge to save Simba, Zazu tries to fly back to Pride Rock and get help, only to be smacked into a wall by Scar and knocked unconscious. Imagine what happened when Zazu woke up. He probably thought he panicked and hit the wall himself and failed to get potential help for Mufasa and Simba because of it. Until the truth comes out later, it's not unreasonable to think that he blamed himself and felt that he failed both Simba and his king. It makes a Deadpan Snarker character suddenly seem very woobieish.
Some more fridge horror for that scene; how do we know Scar didn't pull the "it's all your fault" trick on Zazu, too?
The look of utter horror and betrayal on Mufasa's face when he realizes his own little brother is about to throw him to his death. In spite of the vitriol shown between Scar and Mufasa at the beginning, Mufasa is still a good and noble character and he probably still cares about his brother and is completely unaware of Scar's hatred for him until the very end. Someone he knew as family, someone he probably loved and wanted to see happy, tricked and brutally murdered him.
Even moreso when you consider that at that moment, he probably realized that Scar wanted his son dead too, and there was nothing he could do about it.
Also, he knew that Scar was next in line for the throne—Scar, who had no qualms about killing his brother and young nephew, ruling the Pridelands. Even if Mufasa didn't know about Scar's alliance with the hyenas, he still knew that he was powerless to stop his family and his kingdom from being utterly destroyed.
The Lion King II
"When you first came here, you asked for judgement! And I pass it now...EXILE!!!"
Kovu being rejected by Simba, and seeing Scar as his reflection. Made even worse by the fact that he loves Kiara and didn't want to kill Simba.
That entire scene was sad, with the song, Not One of Us, being one of the most emotional songs in the movie. Kovu looked so heartbroken while he was being cast out of the Pride Lands.
The depressing Face Palm that Rafiki delivers at the end of the song doesn't help, either, almost as if he's representing us, the audience, and how we feel about Kovu being driven into exile.
After all this time, it turns out Simba is still not completely over his father's death and he shuns the Outlanders thinking Mufasa would have done the same to Scar and his clan for their actions. Plus, he has a nightmare of not being able to save him in the stampede. Makes you wonder who's the realwoobie in this.
But at the end, he welcomes the Outlanders back into the Pridelands. And he gets this message from his father...
Although a great deal of The Lion King is deeply emotional and affecting (as is the film it was based on), there's one particular addition not in the movie: the solo number performed by Simba, "Endless Night." In particular the lines: "You promised you'd be there/Whenever I needed you/Whenever I call your name/You're not anywhere/I'm trying to hold on/Just waiting to hear your voice/One word, just a word will do/To end this nightmare." Also, the earlier lines "Sleepless, I dream of the day/When you were by my side/Guiding my path/Father, I can't find the way." By the time the end of the song comes, Simba sings such a stirring, heartfelt testimonial to hope for the future, but the way the song uses actual lines from the movie and builds upon them to reference both the deep love Simba and Mufasa shared (and how he was such a perfect father) and the guilt, despair, and suffering Simba went through as mentioned above is just so overpowering and gut-wrenching.