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Tear Jerker: Wreck-It Ralph
Pictured: the homeless cast of Q*bert. "Will appear as a Non-Player Character in a First-Person Shooter for food". Are you happy, modern gaming industry?note 

Roger Ebert once stated that Video Games were not art to him.note  Nevermind the gamers' community's Internet Backdraft, this is what will make anyone with that idea change his or her mind. Because, just as Toy Story did with toys, Wreck-It Ralph will do with Video Games: showing the heart that lies within such things.

And given this is Disney we're talking about, the task will be accomplished in the most gut-wrenching of ways.

Oh, and it's directed by Rich "Lisa's Substitute" Moore, to boot. Bottom-line if you don't know what that means: you will cry, so prepare your tissues.


  • The ostracizing of one character is just a matter of who the game developers choose as a villain.
  • The entirety of Ralph's speech at the Bad Anon meeting. He just sounds so miserable and exhausted, as anyone in his position would be.
    Ralph: My name's Ralph, and I'm a bad guy. Uh, let's see... I'm nine feet tall, I weigh six hundred and forty three pounds, got a little bit of a temper on me,note  my passion bubbles very near the surface, I guess, not gonna lie. Anyhoo, what else? Uh, I'm a wrecker. I wreck things, professionally.note  I mean, I'm very good at what I do. Probably the best I know. Thing is, fixing's the name of the game. Literally. Fix-It Felix Jr. So, yeah, naturally, the guy with the name Fix-It Felix is the good guy. He's nice enough as good guys go. Definitely fixes stuff really well. But, uh, if you've got a magic hammer from your father, how hard can it be? If he were a regular contractor, carpenter guy, I guarantee you, he would not be able to fix the damage that I do as quickly. And when Felix does a good job, he gets a medal. But, are there medals for wrecking stuff really well? To that, I say, ha! And no, there aren't. For thirty years I've been doing this, and I have seen a lot of other games come and go, how sad. The thing about those guys at Asteroids? Boom, gone. Centipede? Who knows where that guy is, you know? Look, a steady arcade gig is nothing to sneeze at, I'm very lucky. It's just, I gotta say, it becomes kinda hard to love your job when no one else seems to like you for doing it.

    I don't know... maybe I wouldn't be feeling this way if things were different after work. But... it is what it is, you know. Felix and the Nicelanders go hang out in their homes... which he's just fixed and everyone, you know... They go to their homes, I go to mine, which just so happens to be... a dump. And when I say a dump, I don't mean, like, a shabby place. I mean, an actual dump, where the garbage goes... and a bunch of bricks and... smashed building parts; that's... that's what I call home. I guess I can't bellyache too much; I've got my bricks, I've got my stump... It looks uncomfortable, it's actually fine. I-I'm good. But, if I'm really honest with myself... I see Felix up there, getting patted on the back, people giving him pie and thanking him and so happy to see him all the time... Sometimes I think "Man... It sure must be nice, being the good guy."
    • During it, we get a glimpse of how the inner world of Fix-It Felix Jr. looks. All the Nicelanders go inside the front apartment entrance to relax after another hard day of work and are greeted by Felix at the door. Ralph picks himself up, covered in mud, and walks past them... right in time for the last tenant to rush in frightened, and for Gene to give him an angry glance before shutting the door behind him. This has been happening in that game every single day for 30 years at least!
  • Seeing that Q*bert and his crew are now homeless and starving, as a result of their game being unplugged. Ralph giving them cherries is makes it more tearjerking
    • Extra heart-wrenching when you remember that Ralph lives on a pile of bricks in a dump in his own game, and likely doesn't have that much access to decent food himself. Sharing the cherries with the Q*bert characters shows that he really is a good, selfless person.
      • Him not having access to food may be why he snuck out the cherries from Pac-Man because hey, free food lying around. No one's going to stop him (except the Surge Protector).
      • When Ralph walks into the penthouse and hears about the cake, he says he's never had cake before because no one throws it away—which suggests most of the food he gets is possibly scavenged from garbage cans.
    • The second trailer reveals that he uses a pile of bricks as a bed cover! ...damn.
      • Ralph says, "but it's actually fine." It seems more like a living condition a guy with his brawn can handle.
      • It's more like he's such a humble and good-natured guy that he really just doesn't like to complain. His speech at the Badanon meeting is so reserved and restrained when, considering what he's been putting up with for thirty years, he has EVERY right to be thoroughly pissed off. He's such a Nice Guy that he doesn't even like to complain about sleeping under a pile of bricks. And that's just sad.
      • Also think about where that pile of bricks comes from. It's all the bricks he slammed out of the building over the 30 years. It's a constant reminder about what his role in the game is.
      • Also, he's using the tree stump as a back rest. The same tree stump he gets booted out of at the beginning of the game.
  • This article gives a rather depressingly realistic perspective on Vanellope's life:
    Hunter Daniels: "Vanellope's status as a glitch and her various digital malfunctions place her as a very, very sad character indeed. She spends her nights hiding out in the unfinished track for her unfinished level, cuddling up with candy wrappers as her blankets as she dreams about the day that sheíll finally get to race. She's like a physically disabled and orphaned undocumented ten-year old with delusions of grandeur. So, you know, not your typical Disney heroine."
    • Vanellope even says, "Everyone says I'm a mistake." With that, she turns from simply an annoying brat to a lost little girl in a world that despises her for simply existing and desperately needs help to become the Plucky Girl we now know she can be.
    • Vanellope is Plucky Girl personified, even before Ralph shows up. Imagine being trapped all alone in a world where everyone ignores or belittles you because of a condition that you have. Yet when we first see her she's no weeping mess. She confronts a guy twenty times her size and she's not intimidated in the slightest. She fends for herself and manages to survive as a Street Urchin, outwitting King Candy and his idiot guards whenever they try to capture her. She'll also do anything to achieve her dream of racing, against the will of an entire kingdom. Can we give this kid a freaking round of applause?
      • YMMV on the round of applause part, as she was also willing to risk the wellbeing of all the characters in Sugar Rush in order to race, but this tidbit makes her all the more tragic. But considering the way she's been treated by them for years, it's not surprising that she would not be too concerned what would happen to them.
      • The part where she wraps herself up in discarded candy wrappers, smiling all the while, shows how alone and defenseless she really was. Ralph pretty much picks up on it instantly and probably feels like a jackass at that point. Sure he's shunned in his game, but at the most the Nicelanders just avoid him and he at least has the ability to leave. What's more, at the time, he didn't know Vanellope was a crucial part of the game too and figured as a minor character, nothing would be lost if she did leave. Vanellope is in a world where the inhabitants treat her like a Class-A criminal and will actually harm her.
    • If you thought that Vanellope's backstory couldn't get any more tragic, read this: it's all a lie. King Candy is really an old video game character named Turbo whose Attention Whore status destroyed two games in the past and is the reason why others freaked out about Ralph "going Turbo". Turbo/King Candy manipulated the game code by making Vanellope a glitch, locking away everyone's memories about her and rigging the entire system to ensure that he always stays number 1 and Vanellope never has a chance to do what she was created to do, to race. Princess Vanellope was supposed to be the main character of Sugar Rush. She was supposed to live in the big fancy castle and have everyone else love and adore her. And instead she's a despised outcast sleeping under discarded candy wrappers in an abandoned bonus level because of the greed and powerlust of one corrupt old monster... and because if she ever was allowed to cross the finish line just once, the game program would reset and return her to her rightful place.
      • And according to the game trailer, Sugar Rush came out in 1997. Assuming the movie takes place in 2012, that means Vanellope has been living this way for fifteen years. Ouch.
  • Sergeant Calhoun's backstory. Dear God, her backstory. Her fiance was eaten by a Cy-Bug at the altar on their wedding day because she forgot to do a perimeter check.
    • It might even be worse than that: Unless this actually takes place in flashback in a cutscene in the game, it's just a memory the game developers programmed into the character.
      • And if it does take place in a cutscene, then she has to relive her fiance's death every time someone plays the game.
      • Moreover, since cutscenes in arcade games are usually part of its Attract Mode, looping whenever a game isn't in play, it's also possible that Calhoun has to relive said death, or at least have it on display, even when the game's not in action.
    • It gets worse. Calhoun has flashbacks of several dates with her betrothed!
      • It is, however, a bit lessened by the fact that she immediately pulls out a Minigun and starts attacking.
      • Not quite lessened when you see the pain in her eyes. It may have come off as a little funny and tragic in the movie, but her eyes. At no other point do we see her that frightened.
    • Also. remember what happens to things Cy-Bugs eat. They are assimilated. She knows this. So not only did she watch her fiance die, but she has to kill him again.
      • She's seen firing a minigun in that scene so it's possible that she's already killed him. It's a Tear Jerker either way.
  • Ralph tries to get into his game's 30th anniversary party, but gets a door slammed in his face. In fact, him not being invited at all to the celebration of a game where he is one of the main characters is unbelievably stupid and disgusting. Good job, Nicelanders. What's worse is that it's Felix's party, so Felix, afraid of being shunned by the NiceLanders for inviting Ralph to the party, caved into the others into not inviting Ralph.
    • Felix seems to consider Ralph a friend, so not inviting him might have seemed like the best option, given how Gene seems to hate Ralph and how easily the crowd follows Gene. Between Gene's attitude and Ralph's self-admitted temper, Felix was not in a good position. Note how hurriedly he assures the Nicelanders that he's okay when Ralph accidentally crushes him.
    • The whole scene with the anniversary cake (and the horrible, insulting little figurine they made of poor Ralph) will crush your soul.
    Gene: You're just the bad guy who wrecks the building!
    Ralph: No, I'm not!
    Gene: Yes, you are!
    Ralph: No, I'M NOT! *smashes the cake*
    *beat*
    Gene: Yes, you are.
    • What makes this worse is that Ralph seems to genuinely like the cake at first...but then notices he doesn't seem to be anywhere on top of it with the others. Then the camera pans down and he sees the figurine at the bottom in the mud pit where he usually lands after someone finishes a stage. His reaction is pretty understandable yet the others (including Felix) don't seem to understand his displeasure with this.
    • Also, the face Ralph makes when he realizes he really destroyed the cake. After saying he's more than just the guy who wrecks the building, he smashes the cake, which was designed like the building. Ralph's just trying to let go of his bad guy persona and be accepted, but he just can't get away from what he's supposed to be and how the world sees him.
  • Ralph's game has an automatic intro which appears when the game isn't played. It shows how his home is destroyed to make place for the Niceland Appartment. If anything happening on screen is the characters playing roles, this means that Ralph has to relive his backstory over and over.
    • It does since after that very scene, we cut to inside the game and there's a brief shot of one of the bulldozers pushing away some bricks.
  • The second trailer has "Some Nights" by Fun playing during the dramatic moments. It really moves you... even before you see the actual movie!
  • Ralph walks through the Game Central Station, munching on some cherries and minding his own business... while a bunch of other video game characters jump out of his way like he's the coming apocalypse. "Bad guy coming!" God, imagine how that feels.
    • Doubles as a moment of Fridge Brilliance. Some characters are programmed to take damage when they come into contact with "bad guy" characters. So for some of them, he is an apocalypse, doubly so since they're all outside their games.
  • In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment from this faux-90's commercial for Sugar Rush at Litwak's, about 10 seconds, the player chooses a character. The cursor goes over Vanellope and she gets excited - then moves on to Snowanna and Taffyta. If you look close enough as the cursor moves on, she puts her hands over her face in a defeated, sobbing gesture.
    • Compare her reaction to Snowanna Rainbeau's (the girl between Vanellope and Taffyta on the selection screen), who looks totally fine with being passed over for the moment. She'll always get another chance to race, but for Vanellope...
    • Watch it again in fullscreen HD. She was just winding up for a celebratory jump.
  • Once he gets to Sugar Rush, Vanellope steals his medal, and it's inadvertently destroyed, Ralph totally loses it and proceeds to wreck anything he can smash in a fit of rage! It's a bit narmy and maybe hilarious to some until you really consider his situation. After a life of neglect from being a bad guy and finally doing the impossible and proving a bad guy can get a medal, he LOSES it before he can show anybody he knows! This was probably his only chance to get a medal the hard way, and now he's just back to face a life of utter torment! The look on his face screams, "Because I wreck stuff!! That's all I exist for right, World, you piece of crap!!!??" It's more than a few peoples' dream to be worth something, and even more people have given up on it already.
    • During the scene where Vanellope actually takes the medal from him, Ralph seems to be on the verge of tears as he helplessly tries to explain his situation and get it back from her. You really have to feel bad for the damn guy.
    Ralph: Thatís why I was climbing the tree, itís mine! (his voice cracking) Itís my- Itís precious to me! W- That thing, itís my- Itís my ticket to a better life—!
  • Ralph bitterly saying 'We are not friends" to Vanellope when she offers to make a deal with him was pretty sad to hear, especially for those who already know what their friendship will mean to both of them later on in the movie.
  • Ralph, after hearing King Candy's explanation (which later proves to be a deception) about the danger Vanellope could possibly bring to herself with her glitch status, decides to destroy the very car he and Vanellope bonded over. Worse, he's not doing this because he made the selfish choice of choosing his medal, he immensely worries for the worst for Vanellope. The devastated cries of Vanellope over the object that would finally make her dream come true is heartwrenching. We don't blame her when she cries, "you really are a bad guy."
    • What's worse is that the scene actually averts a common cliche and is played out differently than how it is in most films, and most Genre Savvy watchers would think. Vanellope doesn't rush off in a rage before he's done explaining his Sadistic Choice, Ralph holds her still and makes sure she gets all of the details of it. It's only when she ends up not believing him that he finally moves to his last resort and destroys her cart. And when he does so, you can tell, you can tell just by the look on his face, that he hates what he's doing..
    • Even worse, this happens just after Vanellope gives Ralph a medal that she made herself. Sure, it was made from a heart-shaped cookie, but on the back of it were the words "You're my hero." Ralph isn't just choosing to crush Vanellope's dreams in order to keep her safe; he's doing this to the one person who saw him as something other than a villain.
    • If you're not focused on Ralph's desolate form, you're noticing Vanellope glitching off the tree and falling to a miserable heap on the ground. She could only remove herself through emotional distress that devastated her.
      • King Candy's words effectively twist the knife and pour salt in the wound.
    King Candy: I know it's tough, but heroes have to make the tough choices, don't they?
    • Of course, now we know that King Candy/Turbo was goading him on to advance his plan, making this worse.
    • Again, her cries as Ralph destroys the car are absolutely agonizing, because it doesn't sound like a voice actor playing her role. It genuinely (and jarringly) sounds like a poor little girl's heart breaking over the one thing that was gonna help improve her life.
  • Ralph's near-Heroic Sacrifice by divebombing head first into mentos, planning to be boiled alive in Diet Cola Hot Springs, all while stating the Bad Guy Creed and looking at Vanellope's message of "You're my Hero" as he whispers, "There's no one I'd rather be than me."
    • The track that plays underneath this moment, here, with a sweeping chorus, makes this a severe tear-jerker to many!!
    • What about the moment that leads to this decision of his? The Cy-Bug revived Turbo grabs Ralph and flies with him up in the air, grabs his head and yanks it in the direction of where Vanellope is along with Felix and Calhoun, and proceeds to tell him to watch while Vanellope gets eaten by the Cy-Bugs.
    • To wit, at this point all the Sugar Rushers have been evacuated. Only Van, Felix, and Calhoun are there to witness his act and it's debatable how much longer Felix and Calhoun could stay in/near the threshold of the plug. Meaning that his sacrifice would not be known to anyone but a handful. And he doesn't care. A far cry from the start of the movie where he wanted that public recognition.
      • Except Felix probably had no intention to escape. Ralph was essentially committing suicide, so it would be impossible to save Fix-It Felix Jr. from getting unplugged. The Nicelanders would all be able to evacuate to Game Central Station, but his new friends were in danger. Felix grabs his trusty hammer and holds his ground, as if he's preparing to put himself between Calhoun, Vanellope, and the Cy-Bugs.
    • A bit of Fridge Brilliance and extra tearjerker, Ralph is reciting the creed to comfort himself in the wake of his impending death. Look at his face as he's reciting it, he's trying to keep from breaking down.
      • Look at Ralph's face when he finds he can't bring Vanellope through the exit. It is eating him up inside something awful at the prospect of leaving her behind, even as she entreats him to.
      • Even worse: Not only is Ralph forced to leave Vanellope behind, but he probably can't escape the fact that this was all his fault, and that if he didn't senselessly put the arcade in danger just for that stinking medal, none of this would have happened.
  • During the finale while Calhoun and Felix are trying to evacuate the residents of Sugar Rush due to the Cy Bug invasion, Ralph desperately trying to take Vanellope with him but her glitching doesn't allow her to follow. Vanellope then proceeds to tell Ralph "It's okay. Just go. Go without me." Cue the waterworks.
    • Notably, Calhoun and Felix both gradually back into the portal as they helplessly hold Vanellope's hands to prevent her from running toward Ralph. They lose grip of her as soon as they are through the portal.
      • Alternative Character Interpretation makes this detail bad in a different way: Not only are they holding her back, but they're trying to comfort her, a little girl that they barely know. They might not even realize she's a glitch until they make it through the barrier and she doesn't. Imagine being two good-hearted people, especially a chivalrous goof like Felix, and being stuck in that situation.
    • Just an Imagine Spot of poor Vanellope begging and pleading for someone to help her as the world disappears is terrible. No one should have to go through that.
    • Also note that her words of "It's okay. Just go. Go without me" aren't spoken in a manner typical to the situation in a movie. It isn't an anxious urgent shouting. It's soft. It's calm. It's the voice of someone at peace with the situation. With dying as long as someone they love is safe. She's a 9 year old girl facing a death in a literal Apocalypse and she's somehow okay with it. That's how much torment she's been through. That's how much it meant to her that Ralph was her friend.
    • This may count as Fridge Brilliance, but remember how in the Imagine Spot Vanellope was shown screaming and panicking while the world around her was collapsing? Yeah, when it actually did happen, Vanellope didn't react like that at all. She was perfectly calm, willing to stay behind so that her beloved friend could escape safely. Conclusion: this girl is much stronger than everyone perceives her to be. Truly a case of Underestimating Badassery.
      • It is Fridge Brilliance, but perhaps in a different way. King Candy probably did try to persuade her not to race at some point, with the same story he told Ralph about it being for her own good, but, as Candy told Ralph, she would not listen. Why? Because racing is in her code, that is, in her soul. She knows that racing may kill her, but she is willing to die to do it. That's why Ralph's willingness to sacrifice his own life at the end is so important to his character development: he finally has something that he is willing to die for.
  • The other racers breaking Vanellope's kart while mocking her as she helplessly tells them to stop. And when it's revealed that it was all King Candy's doing when he locked up everyone's memories, they all get a My God, What Have I Done? moment for what they did to Princess Vanellope Von Schweetz.
    • Her horrified sobbing is the worst part. If you've ever been bullied, that scene is gut-wrenching.
  • When Vanellope gets sent to prison, we see chains and cuffs everywhere, one on her waist, two on her wrists, her ankles... she is chained down like a wild animal and it hurts.
    • The room was filled with colorful imagery and the words "You have been a bad girl." on the walls. 10/1 if King Candy/Turbo had managed to find her sooner that would have probably been her new home until the game was inevitably unplugged.
    • To boot there's a picture of Turbo in his original form in his victory pose on the wall. He's gloating.
      • It also shows how much of a bastard Turbo is. He doesn't care the least for others except himself, not even a child. Though to imprison a child for being a glitch (who isn't doing anything harmful, mind you) is even more bastard-worthy within itself.
  • As if the scene where Ralph wrecks Vanellope's car wasn't enough of tearjerking, soon afterwards Ralph returns back home to "Fix-it Felix Jr." where, to his surprise, finds Gene inside of the Penthouse, who has just finished packing up and getting ready to leave the game before it gets unplugged the next day. Ralph came home expecting a warm welcome by the Nicelanders after winning a medal, but instead learns about the bad news from his own rival, who by this point has completely given up on Ralph. To top it all off, all Gene did after telling Ralph what happened was give him the keys to the Penthouse as promised. Then he leaves Ralph all alone in the Penthouse.
    • The worse part is, he doesn't even yell or really criticize him. He just sounds extremely disappointed in Ralph.
    Ralph: I was just tired of living alone in the garbage!
    Gene: Well now you can live alone, in the penthouse.
    • You could read that as Gene telling him to live in the penthouse and then die when it gets unplugged, which is actually sort of chilling.
    • The line also feels like Gene is rubbing in how poorly the Nicelanders treat Ralph while still foisting all of the blame for the situation onto him, ignoring how the whole mess could have been avoided if they hadn't treated Ralph like dirt all that time for no good reason.
      • Alternatively, Gene does know that it's all largely his fault. But after being mean to Ralph for so long, it's just easier for him to pin the blame on the "bad guy" than to blame himself.
  • The retro commercial for "Fix-It Felix Jr." says Ralph loves living up to his Wreck-It name. Compare that to where he is 30 years later.
  • The quick gag that Felix says that Ralph sometimes falls asleep in the bar "Tappers". Through a darker lens it could be that he drinks a lot some days.
  • The heartbroken look on Ralph's face, the moment he realizes he and Vanellope's plights are similar. "By yourself? ...With all this garbage around you?"
    • Also, when Vanellope explains that she likes to use discarded candy wrappers as blankets "like a little homeless lady." She is a little homeless girl. Kid, usually the point is to not be okay with being homeless!
  • Ralph and Vanellope's farewell at the end after saving Sugar Rush. It's also heartwarming, but you can see Vanellope's eyes welling up with tears as she's telling Ralph he could stay in Sugar Rush where he'd be appreciated.
    • Swings to heartwarming right before the end credits when you realize that the appreciation given to him by Vanellope is the catalyst that gives him a new lease on life, and allows him to play his role with the same enthusiasm he did when the game was plugged in.
  • "I'm bad, and that's good. I will never be good, and that's not bad. There's no one I'd rather be than me."
    • What really clinches it is Ralph looking at the medal Vanellope made for him while he falls. Cue the tears.
    • Take a real close look at these two screenshots. For just a second as he falls, Ralph opens his eyes to look at the medal one last time- it is almost the last thing he ever sees. And then he closes his eyes again and he smiles. He just smiles. Cue more tears.
  • Turbo/King Candy's death. Yes, he deserved it, but you gotta admit that the recurring cheery theme as he is almost to the coke volcano sounds like good bye music to one of the best Disney villains ever made.
  • YMMV on this one, but the scene near the end where Vanellope, who has regained her status as the game's princess, makes all the other racers who tormented her earlier break down in tears after decreeing that they be executed seems to come off as a bit cruel and mean-spirited. Sure, she revealed that she was just joking about it moments later, and, to be fair, the other racers KINDA deserved it, but you can't help but feel sorry for them as they bawl their eyes out. Hell, after all the other stuff already mentioned on this page, you might even cry along with them.
  • The fact that Bad Guy Anon even needs to exist. A bunch of video game bad guys meet up every week to work through their issues with their jobs. It makes you wonder if Ralph's situation is really so unique...
    • Some of the other bad guys should have definite issues. Think of Bowser and M. Bison, two other bad guys who've been plugged in for years. Wreck-It Ralph may be programmed to commit an astounding amount of property damage, but Bowser has to kidnap a princess and enslave a kingdom, and M. Bison is a murderer and terrorist leader. These guys have to be screwed up with that kind of reality. Those jobs have to be rough on the mind. The only thing Bowser and M. Bison have over Ralph is that they have henchmen who in-game they have the respect of, and they've also been going to Bad Anon for years. Ralph is *all* alone in the world of Fix-it Felix Jr. and doesn't come to Bad Anon until he's been plugged in 30 years.

"You really are the bad guy..."
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