Follow TV Tropes


Bittersweet Ending / Animated Films

Go To

As said on the main page, spoilers are unmarked.

  • In The Admiral And The Princess (aka The Blood Crystal), the Big Bad Court Mage has been defeated after his amulet (the Blood Crystal) has been shattered (killing him). But unfortunately, the titular admiral forever remains a heron, and the sorcerer's amulet was the only thing that could turn him back human. The admiral realizes this, knowing he and the titular princess can never be together now, and flies away. But not wanting to be without him, the princess begged her father the king and her nanny to turn her into an egret, knowing she won't ever become human again, and possibly not see them or her friends and subjects again. The movie ends with the two birds flying together (and helping lost ships) as the credits roll, accompanied by this song.
  • Advertisement:
  • All Dogs Go to Heaven: Charlie dies again, but he dies saving Anne-Marie and is allowed back into Heaven after saying goodbye.
  • American Pop: It took four generations of tragedy and loss, but Pete finally succeeds his family's long sought goal of becoming a musical star.
  • Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero: Barbara not only is rescued, but she is able to save Nora's life without losing her organs. Freeze is believed dead - he isn't, but he cannot return to society due to his crimes or his condition. He's last seen crying Tears of Joy as he learns that Nora will live on, and quietly leaving with his polar bears.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head Do America: The boys recover the X-5 Unit and President Bill Clinton makes them honorary ATF agents but they don't receive any recognition for their heroics (since it has to remain top-secret), and fail to score (as usual), but at least they get their TV back.
  • Advertisement:
  • Bird Boy: The Forgotten Children has an ending of the very bittersweet variety: Dinky and her friends fail to get off the island and Birdboy is shot and killed but the scrapyards could potentially become safer thanks to Birdboy decimating the Forgotten Children, and Birdboy's soul guides Dinky to a secret cave containing a tree which produces magic acorns, posthumously entrusting his task of reviving the island to her.
  • The Chipmunk Adventure: The bad guys are arrested, and the kids make it home safe, but the question of who won the race is left unanswered, they receive no reward of any kind, and it's implied they'll be grounded.
  • At the end of Corpse Bride, Emily breaks off her engagement to Victor, allowing him to return to his real fiancée. Even though she doesn't get to marry him, her soul is finally free to move on, and she ascends to the heavens in a flurry of blue butterflies.
  • Disney movies: In case they don’t have a Happy Ending, then they’ll end their films with this:
    • Make Mine Music!: In the final segment Willie the Whale is harpooned, but now he's in heaven, free to sing to his heart's content.
    • Melody Time: Happens in two segments. Johnny Appleseed dies, but has left a huge legacy in his wake and is off to grow apple trees in heaven; while Pecos Bill gives up being a cowboy after the death of his fiancée Slue-Foot Sue, but Texas is implied to be a much safer place because of him.
    • The Jungle Book (1967): Mowgli leaves the jungle for the man-village. Baloo is heartbroken as it seems likely he will never see Mowgli again, but Bagheera assures him that Mowgli is safer in the man-village, and that is where he belongs. It's made more bittersweet once realizing that this was the final film Walt Disney ever saw completed in his lifetime. In the sequel, Mowgli does see Baloo and Bagheera again, so the ending is softened.
    • The Fox and the Hound: After Tod and Vixey narrowly escape death at the hands of Amos Slade and Tod's former best friend Copper, Copper and Slade are attacked by a huge bear. Tod saves Copper's life but is injured in the process, leaving him at Slade's mercy, who in the end decides not to kill Tod after Copper induces Slade's Heel Realization. Tod and Copper depart with tiny smiles at each other and Copper returns to to the farm as the foxes watch him from afar. It's implied they never see each other again, though.
    • Pocahontas ends with the conflict between the Powhatan tribe and British settlers having died down. Chief Powhatan has accepted his daughter's love for an outsider. The British settlers come to see that Governor Ratcliffe was the only one really in the wrong. But also, John Smith was shot trying to protect Chief Powhatan from Ratcliffe, forcing him to return to England and leave Pocahontas behind. The lovers wave goodbye to each other with the strong possibility they may never see each other again. They eventually do see each other again in the direct-to-video sequel. John Smith is well. But by that point, Pocahontas has fallen in love with someone else.
    • The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Quasimodo didn't win Esmeralda's heart. Yes, Esmeralda survived. Frollo's dead. And the people of Paris finally accept Quasimodo as one of their own. But he didn't win his love. Though he eventually does find love in the sequel. While bittersweet, it's certainly a kinder ending than that of the book it was based on.
    • The Princess and the Frog: Ray is Killed Off for Real, but he is Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence, as he's seen appearing as a new star next to his star lover Evangeline. And at least Tiana and Naveen get together and the movie's main plotline has a Happily Ever After ending.
    • Ralph Breaks the Internet: Ralph and Vanellope destroy the virus, saving the internet, they manage to order the new steering wheel and fix Sugar Rush, and Ralph returns to the arcade safe, but Vanellope chooses to reside permanently in Slaughter Race and doesn't go back with him, though both still keep in touch with each other and their friendship still goes on.
    • In Pinocchio while Pinocchio becomes a real boy after giving his life to save Gepetto, giving Gepetto the son he's always wanted, and Jiminy gets a badge for his recognition as Pinocchio's conscience, but the other boys including Lampwick who went to Pleasure Island are still donkeys, nothing is done for them onscreen, the implication is they may be donkeys for the rest of their lives, and the evil Coachman who did that to them gets away with it.
    • Pooh's Grand Adventure: Even though the friends have found Christopher Robin and faced their flaws head on, Christopher Robin still won't be able to come and see them as much. But it's okay, since Pooh knows he always has Christopher in his heart, and they truly will always be together, forever and ever.
    • Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch: Lilo doesn't win the competition, but Stitch is revived and both are closer than ever before.
    • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: Downplayed. Although everyone has earned their happy ending and Atlantis is now thriving once more, Milo and Kida's story ends with them holding an Atlantean funeral for her father.
    • Aladdin and the King of Thieves: Aladdin and Jasmine are finally married and Cassim is free of the Forty Thieves with a companion he can trust in Iago. However, father-and-son aren't likely to see each other again, given how Cassim is a wanted fugitive in the city that his son is going to rule and Iago leaves his friends to journey with Cassim.
  • The Flight of Dragons: Ommadon is destroyed, the heroes are all revived, the wizards create a realm for magic and Carolinus sends Melisande to the future so she can be with Peter but the two of them will never be able to return to the world of magic as Peter had to deny everything about it in order to defeat Ommadon.
  • Granpa: Granpa dies but leaves behind his memories with Emily.
  • Hayop Ka!: The Nimfa Dimaano Story: Nimfa does not end up with either of her love interests, having dumped Roger for Inigo only to discover Inigo never cared about her, leaving her with no choice but to raise her baby by herself. But she strikes up a friendship with Jerry and seems to be doing fine as a single mother. She even patches things up with her sister who, along with her mom and Jerry, helps her out.
  • Hey Good Lookin': Crazy and the Stompers are killed and Vinnie leaves town for thirty years but when he comes back, he goes back to Rozzie to stay with and fight for her.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World: Though the village and the dragons are saved from Grimmel and are still thriving, until the rest of the world is ready to live in harmony with them, the dragons retreat to live in the Hidden World, and fade into myth. Years later, when both have families of their own, Hiccup and Toothless reunite.
  • The Illusionist: Alice matures and gets a boyfriend. Tatischeff, however, hangs up his top hat and white rabbit for good, and departs. Alice also realizes how naïve she's been in thinking that Tatischeff could perform real magic, not to mention the guilt of knowing that all of the expensive gifts didn't actually come from thin air.
  • In Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, it's implied that Jack dies as he's finally kissing Miss Acacia, considering he's in bad shape and he threw away the key that keeps his mechanical heart running. Romance is dangerous for Jack's heart even at the best of times.
  • Jack Frost. Jack frees January Junction from Kubla Kraus; however Elisa, while clearly caring about him as a friend, falls in love with Knight in Shining Armor Sir Ravenal Rightfellow. Jack turns back into a spirit and blows one of his wintry gusts through their wedding, and Elisa comments that "an old friend just kissed the bride."
  • Joshua and the Promised Land: As in the Bible, only Caleb and Joshua are allowed into the Promised Land because the rest of the Hebrews worshiped the idol and Moses bashed a rock for water. Moses passes on his title of leader of the Hebrews to Joshua. Joshua then returns to the present day, parts ways with Chris, defeats some sort of demonic being, and has apparently made his family more happy by being happier.
  • Justice League Dark: Apokolips War: Darkseid is defeated, dragging into a Prison Dimension with Trigon, but the damage has been done as the galaxy has been ravaged by Darkseid's lust for conquest, the Earth's core is permanently damaged, and half of Earth's population is dead, whose numbers include many heroes and villains. The only real bright spot is John Constantine convincing the Flash to go back in time to stop Darkseid's invasion, causing another Flashpoint incident be damned.
  • Klaus (2019): Smeerensburg is now a peaceful town, and Jesper and Klaus continue working together, making and delivering toys. But as the years go by, Klaus grows old and eventually joins his wife in the afterlife, and is implied to be continuing his tradition of Christmas gift deliveries. The last scene is Jesper, now a father, quietly waiting in the living room by the fire on Christmas Eve night, because that's when he "gets to see his friend." We leave Jesper as he can hear the sound of bells ringing.
  • By the end of Kubo and the Two Strings, both of Kubo's parents end up dying by the end of the film, but he manages to defeat the Moon King. His parents' spirits in their true forms briefly return to him so he may send their boats down the river for the festival, ending the story. Also, Kameyo the widow poses as the amnesiac Moon King's second wife and tells him about Kubo being his grandson, meaning that Kubo still has family to take care of him. Lampshaded by Kubo at the end.
    Kubo: This was a happy story. But... it could still be a whole lot happier...
  • In The Last Unicorn, the last unicorn (Amalthea) finds and frees her fellows, but at a price. As a human, the Lady Amalthea falls in love with Prince Lír. Returned to her immortal form, she can no longer stay with him (or even feel love anymore), so she leaves both her love and her two human friends behind to return to her home in the lilac wood. Even sadder, however, because she has experienced love, aging, and regret- experiences foreign to "pure" unicorns she is no longer as innocent and aloof as others of her kind, separating her even from her own species. And yet, as sad as these things may be, she thanks Schmendrick for them. It is a good thing to have known love.
  • Leafie, a Hen into the Wild: Greenie becomes the guard duck of his flock and is able to set out and see the world while Leafie lets herself be eaten by One-Eye so her babies can survive.
  • The Little Prince (2015): The Prince returns to his planet to learn his Rose has died, but accepts that she will always be an essential part of him. Meanwhile, the Girl gets into Werth Academy and manages to live a happy, less meticulous life with her mother, and although it's implied that the Aviator has passed away in the end, it wasn't before spending a little more time with the Girl.
  • Magic Gift of the Snowman: In-Universe. The story Landon tells Emery-Elizabeth ends like this. Charlatan is defeated and Princess Electra gets back her smile, saving the kingdom. However, Snowden melts. Averted for the actual special, which has a Happy Ending, as Snowden turns out to be real and still alive, and Emery makes a full recovery.
  • Mary and Max: Max forgives Mary and she comes to visit him for the first time with her newborn baby, only to find that he passed away, albeit peacefully, on the very morning that she arrives. And then Mary looks up to see that Max has laminated all of her letters and attached them to the ceiling in his home, the last things he saw before he died.
  • My Life as a Zucchini: Zucchini and Camille are adopted by Raymond, but are forced to leave their friends at the orphanage behind, though Zucchini writes a letter to the orphanage children, reassuring them that he still loves them.
  • Next Gen: Ares and the Q-Bots are destroyed but 7723 had to wipe his memory to fight him. However, Mai begins making new memories with him.
  • Once Upon a Forest: The Furlings manage to make it back in time to save Michelle, some humans clean away the remaining poison, the inhabitants of Dapplewood come back and the Furlings are reunited with their families. However, the plantlife of Dapplewood is still damaged, and some of the animals had been killed by the poisonous gas (including Michelle's parents).
  • Pixar:
    • Cars 3:
      • Jackson Storm lost his winning streak, and Lightning has won his bet with Sterling and gets to keep his job, but the fates of Bobby Swift, Brick Yardley, and the other veterans remain unknown, and it's likely we'll never see them again.
      • In a subversion, it's somewhat too sad to see Lightning gotten too old to compete, but it's comforting to see he hasn't given up the sport after sharing the victory with Cruz. He transitioned into being a racing coach like his deceased mentor Doc Hudson for a new racer, Cruz, who has accomplished her dream of becoming a racer when she (and a few others) thought she wouldn't.
    • In Monsters University, Mike and Sulley are expelled from the university but they become the close friends that they were in the first movie. Also, they work their way up from being mailmen in Monsters Inc. to eventually become a scarer and assistant team, fulfilling their dream. Mike surrenders his life-long dream of becoming a Scarer and settles for being a Scare assistant. It's a lower position than what he aimed for, but he feels like an equal as he is the one in charge of coming up scare tactics.
    • Ratatouille: Rémy, Linguini, and Colette successfully service Ego, who gives a glowing review for Gusteau's while not minding the fact that rats run the kitchen. However, the public do mind; it doesn't take long until Skinner and the health inspector expose everything, causing the restaurant to close and taking Gusteau's posthumous legacy and Ego's reputation as a food critic with it. Despite this, Ego helps fund a bistro serving ratatouille, employing Rémy and Colette as cooks and Linguini as waiter. Rémy's colony live above the bistro and have access to all the food they want.
    • Toy Story 2: Andy may inevitably grow out of his old toys in the future (and he does - see Toy Story 3), but when that happens, at least Woody will still have Buzz and all his other friends with him, to Infinity and Beyond.
    • Toy Story 3: The toys now have a new loving owner, but they have lost many of their friends to yard sales, donations, and breaking, and will likely never see Andy again.
    • Toy Story 4: Gabby Gabby now has an owner and Forky is reunited with Bonnie and the toys, but Woody has sacrificed his voice box to Gabby Gabby and decides to stay behind with Bo for the time being, meaning he cannot go home with Bonnie and will presumably never see Buzz and the others again (or at least not for a long time), but he knows there are other toys out there that need owners, and wherever he goes, he'll always have his friends with him.
    • Onward: Ian completes the spell to fully resurrect his father during the last few moments before the sun sets. However, Ian gives up the chance to actually talk with Wilden face-to-face in order to save New Mushroomton from the dragon and allows Barley to properly say goodbye to their father instead because he realizes he had a father figure all along in his older brother. He also becomes much more confident thanks to his new magical powers. In Barley's case, while he's able to get closure in his father's death during the last few moments of his resurrection, he still has to deal with the fact that this is the last time they'll ever get to talk. On the other hand, he gets a new van and Ian surprises him by hiring a paint job artist to design a mural of the brothers going on a quest on the side of it, and he becomes much more respected due to his knowledge of magic since people are rediscovering it. Also, while technology is still prevalent, the brothers' journey has inspired several people, such as the pixie bikers, Corey, and Officer Bronco, to begin to use and embrace their natural powers and the brothers themselves have a much closer relationship.
    • Soul: Joe returns to his body and resolves to treasure his life to the fullest. While he does show 22 the beauties of life on Earth, he will likely never see 22 again due to her starting a new life and incarnating as a different person.
  • PollyWorld: More sweet than bitter. Polly and her friends don't win the Roll Like That competition, but that doesn't matter to Polly anyway because her father, John, finds out his fiancee Lorelei's true colors and real intention to send his daughter to boarding school—he breaks up with Lorelei, rehires his butler, Samuel, and cancels Polly's boarding school plans.
  • The Prophet: Almitra begins to speak again having been inspired by Mustafa. Mustafa is still executed by firing squad, but his inspiration lives on and Almitra and Kamila save his works. In the end the pair watch the ship Mustafa was bound for sail away with his spirit aboard.
  • The Red Turtle: The father lives and dies on that island, but at least he dies in his sleep, and in the company of the mother no less. This also counts for the mother as well, who mourns for her husband until she changes back into a sea turtle. Content with the life she lead with him, the red turtle returns to the ocean.
  • Samson and Sally: Samson has a family with Sally but he feels let down by Moby Dick, who wasn't able to help him, and it's implied humanity is done for.
  • Scamper the Penguin: The poachers are killed and Scamper becomes the penguins' leader but Gilbert and several other penguins are dead, Mac leaves in search of his family and Don leaves with his owner without getting to say goodbye to Scamper.
  • In The Secret of Kells, the wall did not manage to keep the Vikings out, and there were numerous casualties. Brendan, Pangur, and Brother Aidan managed to escape the carnage and the Book of Kells was finished years later, but during this time Brother Aidan died of old age, and the Abbot believed Brendan was dead for several years. He and Brendan are finally reunited in the last scene of the movie, however, aside from a brief, chance reunion in her wolf form, it's quite likely Aisling and Brendan will never see each other again.
  • Shinbone Alley: Archy accepts Mehitabel's decision to return to Shinbone Alley but it's probably not going to turn out well for either of them in the end. Then there was her kittens...
  • Sky Blue. Sure, Ecoban falls, but Jay will almost certainly die, and Woody isn't in great shape either. Oh, and they were wrong about Gibraltar.
  • Song of the Sea: Saoirse is saved, her song is able to send the Fair Folk home, and Ben has grown to truly love her, but Bronagh is now gone from the human world forever and Saoirse could only stay behind by sacrificing her selkie side. Nonetheless, the story ends on the note that Ben and Saoirse's family is no longer broken as it was before.
  • The Triplets of Belleville: Madame Souza and the triplets rescue Champion and escape Belleville but it's then revealed the whole movie was an elderly Champion reminiscing on the adventure and Souza, the triplets and Bruno are long dead.
  • White Snake (2019): The snake hunting village is saved, antagonists are dead and Blanca is saved by Xuan but he sacrificed himself to do and almost has his very soul destroyed, Blanca manages to save his soul and he is reincarnated. However, this also means that Xuan couldn't properly part ways with Dudou or the villagers. And 500 years later, with the help of her now redeemed sister, Blanca manages to find Xuan's reincarnation with the implication that they will be together.
  • World of Tomorrow: The young Emily safely returns to her own time period, but the cloned Emily is left to die in sixty days due to a meteor, not to mention that young Emily will eventually grow up into her cloned self.
  • The Yogi Bear tv special "Yogi and the Invasion of the Space Bears" although the aliens plans are thwarted and the clones of Yogi and Boo Boo are defeated leaving them in suspended animation, Boo Boo's girlfriend Snulu goes to outer space to fight in the space war to prevent further invasions, and the implication is they never see each other again.
  • 9 ends with The Fabrication Machine finally being destroyed, and 1, 2, 5, 6, and 8's souls being released from the Talisman, so they're finally at peace. But the world is still badly messed up, and the remaining Stitchpunks aren't sure what's left. And the microbe-like creatures in the rain imply that they might've somehow restored life. Probably.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: