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Adult Fear / Animated Films

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  • The Secret of Kells' third act. Because the young protagonist Brendan has once disobeyed his uncle's (the abbot of Kells) strict curfews, he locks him and another monk who helped Brendan in the scriptorium, i.e. to keep them out of reach of the invading northmen. In the ensuing chaos, the abbot has a very sudden and positive character change when he is horrified to see all his schemes and preventive measures against an invasion going up in smoke. He himself is wounded repeatedly and badly, and passes out. The scriptorium is set on fire. Unbeknownst to him, Brendan and the other monk managed to escape beforehand. They, in return, see the abbot lying in the snow and believe him dead. Now, Brendan believes the abbot, the only parent and relative he had ever known, is dead, while the abbot thinks that Brendan, his only surviving relative whose own life he risked to save him as a baby, has burned to death because he himself had locked him there in the first place. The movie ends very much with a very dark Bitter Sweet Ending as this misunderstanding is cleared up decades later. But still, the fears of an adult authority to fail in really really trying to protect his community and his nephew's life are fully and conveniently exploited in this film.
  • The Lion King has an exchange between Simba and Mufasa, in which the latter admits that despite looking like the most badass father in animation history, he was still scared beyond belief at the possibility losing his son to the hyenas.
    • A double dose of this is applied a few scenes later where Mufasa dies. Scar lures Mufasa out by telling him Simba has been caught in a large wildebeest stampede, preying on him via this trope alone with good reason for it. A minute or so later, right after Hope Spot no less, Mufasa is killed and Scar tells Simba, who's a cub and has just seen his father plummet to his death, that it was all his fault. Adult Fear was in full heart/gut wrenching and Tear Jerker effect for this entire scene for both father and son. One cannot help but unabashedly cry at this poignant scene.
  • Despicable Me: Seeing your children, whether adopted or not, being kidnapped. It's also just as bad to see them returning back to the orphanage after bonding with them.
    • This happens yet again in Despicable Me 3; especially when you don't even realise this until you find out that Bratt, who is known for being a wanted supervillain and an extremely unstable one at that, was impersonating your spouse to be able to do this.
      • Lucy's still learning to be a mother to three girls, and then this wanted supervillain comes into the picture, ties her up, throws her in a closet, takes them and leaves her utterly helpless to go off and rescue them until she makes enough noise for Gru to find her. Motherhood should not be this difficult and traumatising.
      • Imagine seeing your own kids trapped on the ledge of a tall, collapsing building, potentially about to fall to their own deaths.
      • And earlier, Gru and Lucy are fired from the AVL and have to break the news to their three kids and 10,000 Minions that they no longer have a job to support themselves.
  • Tangled:
    • The baby Rapunzel was kidnapped from her parents' room where she should have been the safest. Making it worse is that her parents wake up just in time to see Gothel escaping out the window with their baby daughter. What makes it worse is the queen nearly died during pregnancy or childbirth with Rapunzel. In other words, they narrowly avoided losing their child (and for the king, his wife too) one time only to actually lose her later on. It goes further upon the reveal of why Gothel took Rapunzel away from her loving stay young and beautiful forever. The spinoff TV show makes this worse where Rapunzel still has nightmares about Gothel wanting to take her back to the tower, and King Frederic is overprotective of Rapunzel to the point where she refuses to confide in him about her daily adventures.
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    • She's routinely emotionally abused by the woman she was raised to think of as her mother, to the point at which setting foot outside of the tower once makes her briefly angst about how she's a terrible daughter. This is sadly not only a fear for adults, but "Mother Knows Best" is horrifically dark for an otherwise fairly cheerful, encouraging movie, if you consider that Gothel doesn't use magic to keep Rapunzel locked up. She preys on her innocence, affection and vulnerability, like a real-life abusive parent.
      Abi Sutherland: "Plenty of Disney films have wicked stepmothers; they’re quite ordinary villains in the genre. They do things like banish the heroine to the kitchen or send her out into the forest to be murdered. There may be rags and neglect involved. But Tangled’s Mother Gothel is much worse than that. She uses love like a poisoned apple or a witch’s curse, as a tool to achieve her own ends. And she’s clearly written by someone who knows, bone deep, how that works."
    • The scene where Gothel returns to the tower and finds that Rapunzel is missing is eerily similar to how any parent would freak out if their child disappeared without their knowledge and they don't know where their kid was, even though we know that Gothel is the Big Bad.
  • Pinocchio:
    • Where young boys were turned into donkeys, shipped off and forced into labor, the parents not knowing what happened to their sons and if they did find them, they wouldn't have recognized their own kid, seeing how they are now stuck as donkeys.
    • And a subtler example from the same includes the moment when Geppetto puts on his coat to go out in the pouring rain to look for Pinocchio who never returned home from school. Hearing the agony in his voice as he paces around his kitchen is enough to make parents whose children like to play hide-and-seek in department store racks flashback a little.
    Geppetto: What could have happened to him? Where could he be at this hour? I better go out again and look for him...
    • After their raft is destroyed, a weakened Geppetto pleads for Pinocchio to save himself. He wakes up on the beach to find that his son drowned saving his life.
  • The Little Mermaid:
    • King Triton had to deal with the aftermath of his youngest daughter Ariel running away after having a huge and violent argument with her. His words "What have I done?" certainly brings the trope home. When Ursula traps his daughter in a binding contract that will turn her into one of her sea barnacles, he exchanges himself for his daughter when he can't destroy the contract.
    • Even worse in hindsight. After the third movie of the series we're made aware that King Triton not only believes humans are a threat to mermaids and mermen, but he holds them responsible for the death of Ariel's mother: his own wife. And while he was just trying to keep his youngest daughter safe, he threw her in the hands of his worst enemy and the kind of people he despises most with a single stroke.
  • Ariel gets her own in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. After an argument she has with her daughter, Melody, Melody ends up running away. Ariel then regrets being so harsh on her and not telling her the truth about her merfolk heritage, so she has to turn back into a mermaid to find her.
  • Mulan: Mulan's parents found out their daughter ran away to join the army. They are not able to save their child from the horrors of war and possible gruesome death, since any attempt would reveal her gender and sentence her to execution. The reason why Mulan ran away in the first place was save her father's life; he was too infirm to go to war and survive. Their fear would have been compounded with the most extreme guilt imaginable. Not helping that guilt is how Mulan had gotten into a brief argument with her dad right before deciding to run away. The last words he said to her were, "I know my place. It's time you learned yours."
  • The Incredibles: The entire freakin' movie was full to the brim with Adult Fear.
    • The scene where Elastigirl realizes that the missiles are going to hit the plane and she frantically yells into the radio "Abort! Abort! There are children aboard!"
    • Mr. Incredible is led to believe both his wife and children were actually killed during that same scene, not realizing they got out safely. His horrified expression, and the revenge he almost takes, say it all. This combines the classic "fear for child" with the less-commonly depicted "fear for spouse" variety. Brilliantly demonstrated by Mr Incredible's "not strong enough" comment near the end.
    • Having children in danger is actually such a powerful trigger, that Mirage's own horror at Syndrome's actions is the first hint that she may be a villain, but still isn't as evil as her boss. Later, she has a Heel–Face Turn.
    • A deleted scene from the original version of the movie would fit. Syndrome (a minor villain and not the Big Bad) breaks into the Incredibles' home at the beginning and freezes them with his "zero-point energy" ray. In the middle of taunting them, he hears baby Violet crying down the hall. He proceeds to drag Bob and Helen with him as he goes after their newborn daughter.
    • Near the end of the movie, when Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible hear Kari the babysitter's voicemail thanking them for calling a replacement sitter for Jack-Jack, Elastigirl frantically exclaims that she never called a replacement. It's a short moment, but no less terrifying for the parents in the audience.
    • Also the fact that Jack-Jack, as revealed in the accompanying short "Jack-Jack" attacks, could have killed Kari on a number of occasions by burning her or shooting lasers, or been killed if he had gotten caught in the washing machine. Kari by the end of it is lucky to be alive, if sleep-deprived enough to hand off the baby to her "replacement" actually Syndome. She's also lucky that Syndrome didn't kill her on the spot, taking pity on her Sanity Slippage. As she puts it to Mr. Dicker, "THE BABY WAS EXPLODING! Have you ever seen an exploding baby?!"
    • Mr. Dicker also mind-wipes Kari, an underage teenager, so that she won't be able to reveal what happened with Jack-Jack. It's a very crude device that shoots a plastic dart at her head and knocks her out. Maybe her parents should have believed her . . .
    • There's a heartbreaking scene partway through the movie where Mr Incredible sees the true scope of the Omni-Droid Project, and sees just how many heroes have been killed by Syndrome in what can only be described as a superhero version of the Great Jedi Purge. His face says it all.
    • Throughout a significant chunk of the movie Elastigirl is convinced her husband is having an affair.
    • The reason why capes aren't worn anymore: several superheros have been killed when their capes snagged or were pulled by something. Sure the scene was funny but the deaths were not. One of the worst was Stratogale who died when she flew in the way of a jet turbine as she waved to passengers. She was a teenager. It was hard on her parents who had to learn that their daughter was a superheroine (if they didn't already know) as well as the fact that she died so gruesomely; it was hard on other supers who knew her for the same reason; hard on Edna whose design lead to the girl's death; and hard on the people inside the jet who both had to see a super die as well as fear for their lives when a turbine blew out mid-flight.
  • The Rescuers movie. Both of them.
    • Penny was kidnapped from the orphanage, taken to a dangerous swamp with two callous adults (even Snoops doesn't care much for her). The New York police aren't searching for her because they think she ran away and have only come across dead ends, and only the Rescue Aid Society mice find her bottle. She's clearly there against her will, and can't escape because well, it's a dangerous swamp, that and the alligators will catch her. Rufus, the cat who comforts her at the orphanage, describes Medusa as a "weird old lady that wanted to take Penny for a ride" which implies that they kidnapped her the minute she was outside. Later on when she's in the pirate's cave, she's at risk of drowning or being sucked out to sea.
    • Down Under gives us Cody. While not suffering from Parental Abandonment, he viciously deconstructs Free-Range Children when he manages to walk right on in to a poacher who kidnaps him with intents of finding an endangered eagle. Said Poacher Would Hurt a Child. The following two scenes at Cody's house make it even worse, first with his mother shouting his name to call him home, followed by a ranger handing over her son's crocodile-mutilated backpack. We don't see her face, but the way she hugs it to her chest is nothing short of heartbreaking.
  • In Hercules, Zeus and Hera awake from their room to find that their infant son was kidnapped. Hera shouts her son's name on seeing the upturned crib, while Zeus releases a Big "NO!". When they did find him, he was mortal and couldn't return to Olympus with them. So they could only watch as their son is raised by another couple - by this point though, this trope is thankfully averted, as Alcmene and Amphitrion were Good Parents that earn Karmic Jackpot (if they weren't, Zeus would have just killed them), thus Herc ended up being Happily Adopted.
  • Lilo & Stitch:
    • Lilo isn't handling her parents' death well. She copes by feeding peanut butter sandwiches to a local fish because "Pudge controls the weather" and her parents died on a rainy day, getting into fights with the local Alpha Bitch, and refusing to behave for her sister's sake.
    • Her sister Nani isn't faring much better. Nani is legally an adult, but she has to balance an undignifying, minimum-wage job while grieving her parents and caring for her eccentric little sister. Unlike Lilo, she doesn't have the energy or the time to cope, because she always has to work. As Cobra Bubbles sadly points out, he knows Nani is doing her best and gives her a lot of chances, but the Promotion to Parent is too much for her and will prove harmful for Lilo in the long run.
    • For Cobra, it's having to do his job and evaluate Nani as a competent guardian. He pretends to be a jerkass, but he actually gives Nani more time than a real-life social worker would to clean up her act, and keeps an eye on them because he's worried about Lilo's safety. Also, he's very right that Nani is out of her depth with the house being a mess, Lilo showing Troubling Unchildlike Behavior, and her sudden loss of employment. It's hard to blame him for taking Lilo away after she calls him and says that weird aliens are attacking her house and her "dog" found the chainsaw.
    • The threat of Lilo being taken away from her older sister and caretaker Nani's side by social services casts a long shadow over the entire film. The moment when it actually happens is utterly horrific. Many a parent watching it in the theatres gripped the seats when Nani saw a fire truck and prayed "Don't turn left" in the direction their house was.
    • She watches a giant alien kidnapping Lilo. When she asks the other aliens to help her get Lilo back, they're forced to tell her that there's no way that can happen. (Fortunately, Stitch convinces them otherwise.)
  • Astro Boy (2009). Toby's death leads to manic-depressive behavior by his father.
  • An American Tail is full of this, particularly after Fievel sneaks onto the deck of a ship in a raging storm and his father watches helplessly as he's washed overboard. The tragedy compounds throughout the film as Fievel and his family are constantly in the same place but keep just missing each other.
    • Not to mention the Jerkass orphans who pick on Fievel for trying to find his family towards the end of the film. It is implied that they themselves got separated from their families and later gave up on their parents, and abandoned their better nature. Those poor, poor kids!
  • In The Secret Of Nimh, it's scary enough for the single mother Mrs. Brisby having to deal with her critically ill son, but during the climax when her children are stuck in their cement block house and it's sinking into the mud the fear is amped up ten-fold.
  • The kidnapping of the puppies in 101 Dalmatians was this for Pongo and Perdita, as well as their human masters Roger and Anita, who react as if their own children had been taken.
  • Beauty and the Beast:
    • Maurice has to watch as Belle arranges to be kept prisoner in his stead, all while he cries for her to just escape and leave him to his fate. He spends the rest of the movie trying to rescue her.
    • Once Belle and Maurice are reunited? Belle faces the fear of having her father taken away from her, as Gaston blackmails her into either becoming his puppet-wife or getting him thrown in the local asylum. She takes a third option and proves her father is telling the truth... but they're imprisoned and the townspeople go Storming the Castle.
  • Tarzan plays on the same parental fear of losing a child as many of the other Disney movies listed here. A little before they find baby Tarzan, Kala and Kerchak lose track of their infant gorilla son in the jungle while the deadly Sabor is on the prowl. When they realize what happened, Kerchak has to hold Kala back as they hear the giant cat chasing down their baby. Unlike other Disney movies, the parents and child are never reunited since Sabor kills and eats the baby gorilla. With the added "bonus" of knowing Sabor was also able to get into the house Tarzan's parents made and kill them, then stuck around, probably intending to go after the child while he was alone. If Sabor had left, if Kala had not adopted him, Tarzan would almost certainly have starved to death in his crib.
  • Done surprisingly well in the Animaniacs movie Wakko's Wish Especially with Yakko. Despite the fact the movie still has the comedy you'd expect, the characters live in a Dying town with no food and no money. Dot is seriously ill and needs an operation to save her life which turns Yakko, a character who would normally crack one-liners into an early parent. And the quest to find the wishing star is Dot's and the town's only hope for survival. All that would put a ton of stress on anyone despite the hope present in the quest.
  • How to Train Your Dragon has Stoick believing his son was dead after the fight with the Green Death. And this was due to Stoick's own misguided actions that led to the above event. His "I did this" was downright heartbreaking.
    • Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third is a walking moment of Adult Fear for Stoick the Vast. In the first movie, he regularly puts himself in the line of dragon fire. Gobber, Stoick's righthand man and Hiccup's blacksmith master, has to deliver Brutal Honesty to Stoick:
      "The truth is, you won't always be around to protect him. He's going to get out there again. He's probably out there now."
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
    • Hiccup as an adult believes that he can reason with Drago Bludivist to not build a dragon army and see them as friends. Stoick, who has encountered Drago and barely survived, knows that Drago won't listen to reason. Unfortunately, Hiccup won't listen to his father, and Astrid won't let Hiccup run off into danger by himself.
      • This comes to a head during the battle with the Bewilderbeasts, when Hiccup tries and fails to change Drago's mind. Stoick sees Drago using his Bewilderbeast to brainwash Toothless into firing at Hiccup, and runs like Hel to take the fatal blow instead. If Hiccup had listened to his father about Drago killing men for no reason, Stoick would still be alive.
    • For Hiccup, it's Adult Fear to become chief, and take up his father's responsibilities because he doesn't think he can be his father, and it would not allow him to map the world or fly with Toothless. Growing Up Sucks indeed.
    • He also gets this when Valka first appears. Her dragons kidnap him and leave Toothless to drown in the icy water, or so we're led to believe. Hiccup is shouting frantically for them to get back his best friend.
    • In the flashback, a dragon Cloudjumper plays with baby Hiccup in the crib during a dragon raid and scratches him on the chin. Even if the scratch was by accident, it's a scary moment for Stoick, who rescues Hiccup from the blazing house, and Valka, who Cloudjumper takes to his nest. Riders of Berk also mentioned that Hiccup as a baby was scared of dragons; this incident was probably why.
    • Valka gets this moment several times, the first when she realizes that Hiccup has managed to build peace between dragons and humans, and had to grow up without her. The guilt on her face is obvious, more so when Stoick finds them. Fortunately, because Stoick has changed and Hiccup is a forgiving person, there is no Calling the Old Man Out or What the Hell, Hero?.
    • Stoick finding Hiccup's helmet in the ocean which would normally be a Dead Hat Shot. Thankfully Stoick is smart enough to know better and uses his dragon Skullcrusher to smell the helmet and follow the scent.
  • This is the parental fear scenario presented in Help! I'm a Fish. The character is babysitting their niece and nephew for the evening, with their son there as well, and they accidentally fall asleep. When they wake up, they find a darkened house, with all three kids gone. When the parents return, they all go down to the beach to search, and find one of the skates used by the kids with no sign of them...
  • In Finding Nemo, Marlin's happy future together with his beloved wife is all torn apart one day, when he can't protect them from a barracuda. Only Nemo survives, with a disability, just in case Marlin was going to be anything less than terribly protective. Terrified that Nemo will be hurt, Marlin almost smothers his son, which drives Nemo to rebel, telling his dad "I hate you" and then swimming out into open water — where a giant, horrible thing beyond comprehension takes Nemo away as Marlin watches.
    • Nemo screaming "Daddy! Help me!" as this is happening makes it a hundred times worse.
    • And then there's the scene directly after it, where Marlin is rushing around the ocean and trying to look above the surface to try and get any clue of where Nemo was taken, all the time yelling his name and growing more and more desperate.
  • Finding Dory also has its share of Adult Fear: Dory's parents had to be protective of their mentally-disabled child that needed 24/7 supervision. Not only were they scared that she wouldn't be able to make it on her own, but she ended up getting caught in an undertow and separated anyway.
  • The original Ice Age film is certainly more serious than the sequels. Manny's Troubled Back Story Flashback reveals that his family were killed by human hunters with him unable to protect them. The tigers attacked the human settlement in the beginning with the sole purpose of kidnapping and eating a baby. The baby's father tries to protect his family and fails, and is seen throughout the movie desperately trying to find them.
  • Brave:
    • One happens right in the beginning of the movie. Fergus was having a nice picnic with his wife and small daughter when a bear comes out of nowhere and goes after his wife and daughter.
    • Where Merida runs into the forest after a fight with her mother. When she comes back, it was clear that Elinor had been scared and gone out to look for her.
    • It has a scene where Merida is trapped in a castle with Mor'du. This is horrific enough from her perspective, but watching from above is her mother, who is helpless to do anything as her daughter is pursued by a twelve-foot-tall bear intent on eating her alive.
    • Fergus finds Elinor's room trashed and her clothing torn, coming to the realization that a bear was there. Then he finds what is likely the same bear attacking his daughter. Fergus likely didn't come into her room, see that and think "A bear has attacked my wife". He would have come in, see the trashed bed and ripped clothes and think "Someone has attacked and raped my wife". Only after looking closer at the evidence would he realize it was a bear.
    • The moment Elinor realizes that she accidentally hurt Merida when her mind lapsed into acting like a real bear. And especially when she realizes she accidentally hurt her husband as well.
    • The whole scene where Mor'du is relentlessly pursuing Merida and manages to trap her beneath him, snarling right into Merida's face as he prepares to rip her apart and then likely eat her. Meanwhile, Fergus is laying off to the side, unable to reach his daughter in time to save her. It's this act that finally makes bear Elinor go ballistic and square off against Mor'du in a battle of Mama Bear vs. Evil Bear. The entire sequence is an showcase of a frightened and vengeful mother desperately trying to protect her child from one of the most dangerous creatures in existence.
    • Although it likely flew under most people's radar, imagine what would've happened if Fergus had found his triplet sons (without their sister there to stop him like in the film) after they'd been transformed into bear cubs like their mother. Considering Fergus' hatred of all things bear, it's likely that he would have killed the boys without a second thought.
  • ParaNorman: Centuries ago, the town put an accused witch to death. The accused was an innocent little girl whose only "crime" was acting in a way they couldn't understand, since they assumed her natural born gift to see the dead was the result of witchcraft. In short she was accused of being a witch for talking to the only people in the entire town who didn't treat her like a freak. Not only was this sort over-reaction towards people who were "different" common in Real Life. The whole community is against them—they bully them, ostracize them, and perhaps someone decides to kill them... and there was nothing to do to save them. To make matters worse her family could never leave the town that killed her since they had to make a ritual in order to keep her vengeful ghost asleep so that she wouldn't take revenge or have to watch how the town twisted the story of her death into a tourist attraction. This means they had to watch it happen instead, so not only are they unable to stop the defilement of her memory, but they also know she may never be able to truly rest in peace because of what happened to her (the ritual involves reading her a story she hates). Long story short: the zombies were originally the judges responsible for her death. While they did later apologize because they were afraid of her, the townsfolk still want to shoot them. When Norman tries to soothe the ghost by reading to her, he is accused of being a necromancer.
  • This comes up in both The Prince of Egypt and Joseph: King of Dreams. The first movie opens with the abduction and killing of the Jewish babies and, while the actual deaths aren't shown, we do see the Egyptian soldiers bringing weapons into homes and grabbing the kids, while the parents scream. Then, there's the part where Moses runs into the desert, while Ramses tries desperately to get him to go home. He never sees his parents again, and his brother was clearly worried about him when he came back. Finally, there's the killing of the Egyptian firstborns including Ramses's own son. The second movie is centered around the idea that your brothers can be jealous enough of you to sell you into slavery and lie about your fate to your parents. Joseph later turns the tables on them by threatening to the same thing to Benjamin.
    Joseph: But why? Why should you care if I lock him up, beat him, make him a slave?
  • In Wreck-It Ralph, King Candy tells Ralph that if Vanellope races and her glitching is seen by the players, the plug on their game may be pulled and Vanellope as a glitch cannot escape the game like the other characters, leaving her trapped inside the game. When the Cy-Bug invasion happens, Ralph panics that he will fail to get a little girl out of the game to save her from the gruesome death of being eaten alive.
  • In Rise of the Guardians, two children went out to ice skate and the brother (none other than Jack when he was a human) drowned to save his sister.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • Po is scared of telling his adopted father Mr. Ping that he doesn't want to make noodles and instead go into kung fu. Then when he gets the chance to learn kung fu by accident, or so he thinks, his former idols the Furious Five and Shifu make him feel unwelcome either insensitively or bluntly, with Shifu actively trying to make him quit. Po even discusses with Oogway that maybe he should just quit after his first day because he doesn't feel good enough with everyone seeming to hate him.
    • Also Mr. Ping refuses to tell Po that he's adopted at any point. He lampshades in the third movie that he kept it a secret for twenty years.
    • The story of Tai Lung and Shifu. Shifu saved him as a Doorstop Baby and raised him as his own son, hoping he would be the Dragon Warrior. Tai Lung is hurt when Oogway says he hasn't earned the Dragon Scroll and goes on a rampage; Shifu can't stop him because he sees the leopard cub that he raised. Shifu later apologizes for failing Tai Lung and being blinded by love for him, while Tai Lung shouts at him that he only wanted to make his adoptive father proud.
    • Shifu also adopted Tigress, and she did her best to please him. Instead, weighed down by his failure with Tai Lung, Shifu was aloof and brusque with her in training.
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
    • For Shen's parents, they discover that their son launched a genocidal campaign against an innocent village of pandas. Due to The Chains of Commanding, they have to exile him, and as the Soothsayer puts it, the very act killed them.
    • Po's mother pulls a Heroic Sacrifice by hiding her baby in a basket of radishes, shushes him, and then waves at the wolves to make them come after her. In the third movie Li Shan confirms that Po's mother got killed in the bloodbath.
    • Po discovers that he's adopted and spends most of the film fearing that his real parents abandoned him, a very real fear for anyone who's adopted. Mr. Ping meanwhile fears that Po rediscovering his real parentage will make him not view him as his father anymore, as anyone who's adopted children will attest to.
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
    • Mr. Ping faces his worst fear when a strange panda that resembles Po shows up and claims to be looking for his son. After a Delayed Reaction, Po and Li Shan recognize each other while Mr. Ping points out that there's no proof they are related. Mr. Ping clings to Po's side for the rest of the movie, so that he won't lose his child to Po's biological father.
    • For Li Shan, finding his son after twenty years of believing he was dead. He thanks Mr. Ping with a Bear Hug for saving his child and taking care of him. Just as he and Po bond, he finds out that his son fights monsters and enemies that could kill him on a regular basis, and one more powerful enemy plans to take Po's chi. Li Shan then lies that he can teach Po chi manipulation, to take him to the safety of the panda village. Po is hurt with his father admits that he lied to save his life, and prepares to sever ties with him. Li Shan then makes up for it by rallying the panda villages to become an army.
    • In the climax Mr. Ping and Li Shan team up to save Po from a zombified Shifu and are horrified when Po pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to save everyone from Kai. When Po returns thanks to everyone manipulating chi to save him, Ping chides him for disappearing into a mess of petals.
  • The opening of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. All of it. While his father Zuba is distracted for a minute, cub!Alex wanders off and is kidnapped by poachers. When Zuba realizes what's happened, he chases after the poachers' truck, desperately trying to save his son. Alex's crate is then knocked off the truck and into the river, where it ends up floating to New York. Zuba, however, doesn't notice, and continues to chase the truck. Until a grown Alex winds up back in Africa and reunited with them, Zuba and his wife believed their son was dead. Zuba must have felt very guilty for all those years, thinking that it was his fault his child was dead because he failed to protect him.
  • The King and Queen of Arendelle in Frozen has one daughter born with ice/snow powers who could potentially harm people and accidentally does so to their other daughter. They are forced to isolate both sisters from each other and the outside world to protect them but their well-intentioned yet misguided attempts to help their daughters resulted in misunderstandings and trouble for them later on.
    • A lot of fans believe that the King was a Jerkass for this move, but there's another adult fear that was largely edited out of the movie but can be found in some of the songs that didn't make it in. Namely, there was a prophecy that foretold the coming of a "ruler with a frozen heart" and their kingdom being plunged into an eternal winter. It's implied to be so widely believed that Arendelle holds an annual pageant to celebrate spring coming. Imagine growing up hearing this story over and over. And then your first daughter is born with ice powers. Knowing that your own child would be feared, hated and possibly even killed for just being born is horrible, and provides a bit more explanation for the seemingly jerk-assy behavior.
    • How the King and Queen died is also chilling because of how quick it was. They were just going on a routine voyage and would be gone for two weeks. They hit a storm...and were taken out by one wave. All the sudden their two daughters (one of whom has powers that is slowly getting out of control) are now orphaned and alone, having been isolated most of their lives in an attempt to protect their daughters.
    • Elsa also has one. Even after her parents' death, she remains isolated under the belief that it's the best way to protect her sister. But in the end, her greatest fear - what she spent thirteen years doing her very best to avoid - is realized. The movie even lampshades it a bit because at no point is Elsa more terrified than the moment she sees what's happened to Anna.
  • In Once Upon a Forest, Cornelius lost his parents and then his sister to human malice/carelessness. And in the same chemical spill that killed his sister, his niece Michelle fell into a coma, and all he can do is sing to her as the only family he has left slowly slips away, hoping against hope that his three students can Find the Cure! for her before it's too late.
  • In Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Mr. Peabody trying to prevent Social Services from taking his son, Sherman away. Also Sherman wandering off during the French Revolution and running off to join the Trojan war.
  • In The LEGO Movie, Ma and Pa Cop get to witness with full, soul-crushing clarity just exactly what's been happening to their son when he's been so busy working in the city.
    • There's also the interaction between Finn and his dad/"The Man Upstars" where the latter realizes that his son holds him in such disrespect over not being allowed to play with his Lego sets, going as far as to base Lord Business on him.
    The Man Upstars: (upon holding the Lord Business minifigure in his hands) "So... President Business is the bad guy?"
  • In The Boxtrolls, the residents live in fear of the Boxtrolls stealing their children...and their cheese.
  • The Book of Life:
    • Your child goes missing and then turns up dead due to an unforeseen accident.
    • From Word of God, regarding Joaquin, having one parent die (father) and the other just up and leave you (mother).
  • Tip's entire predicament in Home. Imagine one day, you and your child are separated by forces beyond your control. Those said forces take you away and your child manages to not get caught. You're left wondering if they are safe or dead. Incidentally, this is also the Gorg's motivation.
  • In Inside Out:
    • Riley isn't adjusting well to moving to a new city, with Finagle's Law being in effect. She misses Minnesota, her friends, and hockey but represses her sadness because her dad tells her he appreciates her being a trooper.
    • Riley's parents have a moment when they realize Riley hasn't come home and never showed up at school.
    • "Do you remember what she was wearing?!" Said by Riley's mother, to her husband, as they prepare to call the police and file a missing persons report. Thank God Riley turned up just then.
    • Also Riley nearly succumbs to depression, so that none of the emotions except Sadness can control what she's doing..
  • The main plot of Balto is run on Adult Fear. A town's children come down with a deadly disease, their only hope is sending a team of sled dogs to bring medicine back, and then the dog team goes missing. In winter. In Alaska. And the humans have no way of knowing that Balto is going out to find the missing team; as far as they know, the team froze to death, they can't send another team, and their children are going to die.
  • "The Rugrats Movie": Your children (all babies under the age of four with a newborn included) are lost in a forest in danger of the elements, rogue circus monkeys, a wolf, and each other.
  • In Zootopia,
    • Judy's parents are terrified by both their daughter's chosen career path and the fact that she's moving to a big city so far from home. Then they experience a different kind of fear when Judy temporarily quits and works at the family business, where she's obviously miserable. They got what they wanted — Judy safe at home — but at the cost of her happiness.
    • Both the backstories of Judy and Nick involve bigoted bullies because they wanted to defy the roles society placed upon them due to unfair stereotypes. Watching both scenes can be especially tough for parents and/or viewers who have been bullying victims themselves.
    • Mrs Otterton's reaction to seeing her husband savage, on all fours and quarantined is a harsh moment for anyone who experienced a loved one getting sick and losing awareness of who they are.
    • The fear induced backlash against a minority due to the actions of a few members, allowing the rise of a politician threatening the tolerance the pluralistic society was built on turns out to be surprisingly and depressingly relevant.
  • In The Boy and the World, Cuca is alone in a city that is decidedly not-child friendly. It's implied he's not old enough to read, but he is exposed to bars and prostitution before a nice man takes him in. And after that, he's exposed to warfare against a civilian uprising.
  • The Secret Life of Pets is this for Pet owners - imagining you leaving for the day, while your pets get lost and run around a very dangerous city.
  • In Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Flashpoint!Batman's backstory is this. In his world, it's Bruce who got shot, while Martha went insane and became The Joker. In other words, Thomas has lost both his young son and, figuratively speaking, his wife.
  • In Coraline, Coraline's parents aren't purposefully neglecting her but simply overworked and preoccupied with other things. This lack of attentiveness soon leads Coraline into trouble.
    • Wybie's grandmother had a twin sister who mysteriously disappeared. We find out that the Other Mother killed the sister. Wybie's grandmother never finds out what happened to her sister and (presumably) spends most of Wybie's childhood afraid that her grandson is going to wander into the Pink Palace and disappear just like her sister.
  • In Kubo and the Two Strings, Kubo's mother had to live with the knowledge that her own family killed her husband and deliberately took one of her son's eyes. While on the run to safety, she nearly drowns and briefly loses the infant Kubo. The sheer panic and desperation on her face as she crawls towards Kubo is terrifying and saddening to watch.
  • Cars 3: Being deemed too old to do what you love. And then realizing you really are too old to compete and no amount of work will reverse that.
  • Moana: A toddler is fascinated with the ocean before she even knows how to swim. She goes Straying Baby and keeps trying to climb into the waves. Moana's father, to her irritation, constantly pulls her back from going beyond the shallows, even as she gets older and devises more clever means to try her hand at sailing. While she's annoyed, his fear is understandable, especially since his own fascination with the ocean in his youth directly led to his best friend's death.
  • Coco practically revolves around this through the backstory of the Rivera family.
    • Imelda was left to raise her very young daughter by herself when her husband Héctor left home in hopes of making a living while doing something he loved. Not only was he never interested in fame but he also never wanted to tour around different towns and cities every day for fame like Ernesto. She never found out that her husband had been murdered so she believed that he walked out on the family and was so devastated by this that she banned music from the family. The rest of her family was so hurt by her husband's supposed abandonment that they upheld the ban well after her death and avoided even speaking his name for generations.
    • On Héctor's side, his 25-year-old childhood friend murdered him when he was only 21-years-old all on the account that Héctor wanted to return home to his wife and daughter, and because his family never learnt that he was murdered and believed that he abandoned them, Héctor ended up disgraced and ostracized from his family in the afterlife. He doesn't even realize he was murdered for 96 years and when he does, Ernesto essentially tries to murder him again.
    • There's also the reaction of the Rivera family members, both living and dead, when Miguel runs away. The whole thing feels similar to a terrified parent trying to find their child missing in a mall. The whole thing ends with the dead Rivera family members watching as Miguel is nearly murdered and then Héctor almost undergoes Final Death.
    • Two of the Rivera ghosts, Julio and Victoria, were actually Coco's late husband and daughter respectively, meaning she's not only a Widow Woman who outlived one of her children, but a daughter who waited her entire life for a father whom she isn't aware was murdered.
    • When Ernesto de la Cruz is threatening to throw Miguel off a building, Hector is too weak from being forgotten to do more than plead helplessly: "He's a living child, Ernesto!"
    • Lighter than the other examples listed here, but the idea that a beloved member of the family could one day become so senile, they don't understand anything that's going on around them, know what year they're in, or even recognize their own children, is pretty scary to a lot of people. Especially since it happens in real life tragically often, and there's not much anyone can do to prevent it or fix it. It's doubly scary if you consider the possibility it could one day happen to you. Though the ending of this story shows that, even with her Alzheimer's, Mama Coco still loves her family with all her heart, even if she isn't always lucid enough to express it.
    • During his life, Héctor spent so much time working away from home that he was genuinely worried that his relationship with his daughter would suffer for it. Remember Me is a sweet song, but it's also a product of guilt, a desperate plea for his daughter to understand that he still loves her even though he's not around to show it.
  • Robin Hood:
    • There is an ongoing theme where the Sheriff taxes the Nottingham citizens for taxes. When the taxes are tripled, the residents, including children, are thrown in jail because they cannot afford it.
    • Robin Hood and Maid Marian each worry that since so much time has passed since they last saw each other, the other has forgotten them (Marian) or that he's not good enough for her (Robin).
    • During the jailbreak, in the chaos of escaping, Skippy's little sister gets left behind with the mother, horrified, crying out for her. Robin goes back for her, risking his life and ends up getting trapped behind.
  • In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo's mother runs from Frollo and has her baby ripped from her arms shortly before her own demise. Imagine doing all you can to protect your deformed infant in a society where this was considered a curse, and knowing in your last moments, he's in the arms of a man who likely won't show mercy.

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