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Heartwarming / Onward

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As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

  • The whole premise of Ian and Barley's dad leaving them behind a magic spell that would let them spend some time together after how he died before getting to know them really says a lot about the kind of father he was (given the fantasy setting).
  • Laurel's pride at seeing Ian wear his late father's sweater from when he was Ian's age.
    Ian: Yep, it finally fits.
  • While getting some food at a fast food joint, Ian runs into a man who turns out to have been an acquaintance of his father's at college. The man tells some amusing stories of his father he had never heard before and expresses grief at the fact his father died so young from illness. Ian is grateful for the meeting and thanks him for telling him all of this.
    • Among them are stories about how his late father was a trendsetter who marched by the beat of his own drum. Whether or not everyone else thought it was cool, he used to wear purple socks. It's sweet to know that in life, Wilden wasn't afraid to be himself.
  • Ian's adorkable attitude when he tries to be a "new him" on his birthday, even making a checklist for how he's going to change.
  • Laurel, despite being annoyed by Barley's attachment to his role-playing games, still speaks his language when telling him to pick up after himself—after stepping on a figurine, she tells him not to leave his warriors lying about in "her kingdom".
  • Despite Officer Bronco's dismay at Barley's antics, he does care for both of the boys. Going off of the conversation Ian had with the other cops while impersonating him, he's trying really hard to be a good step-dad and is just flustered at how to respond to them.
    • As reviewers have noted this is a rare Disney film where there is a living mother and the step-parent isn't evil. The mom is alive and kind and Colt is match for her and the family.
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  • It has been very common in media where the protagonist has been shunned and ridiculed for being different. Not so here: Ian’s classmates genuinely seem to like him, and want to go to his party even after Barley drives in and Ian thinks he ruined it. It’s refreshing to see those characters-and high schoolers, at that-be so accepting of a shyer peer.
  • Laurel assuring Ian that despite his illness, their father tried very hard to get better so he would've been able to meet him.
    • She even points out that their father leaving them the tools for the Visitation Spell (despite it seemingly not working) serves to cement how much he wanted to meet the men his boys grew to be.
  • Instead of feeling resentful for not having the gift of magic, Barley not only supports Ian for possessing it but also does his best to teach his brother all the spells he knows.
  • Even though he's just an lower half, Wilden could recognize Barley whenever the latter invokes the foot drumming he used to do.
    • After this, Wilden reaches out, finds Ian's foot, and gently presses against it. Even though you can't hear him or see his face, you can tell how joyous Wilden is for finally meeting his son for the first time.
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  • Laurel going full Mama Bear mode when she realizes her boys are in danger.
  • Even though she's been reduced to a harried and mundane restaurant owner, Barley treats Corey with as much respect as a (normally) great and powerful manticore deserves.
  • While Barley and Ian are having a heated discussion, the tension is broken when Wilden starts dancing to loud music. Even if it's just his lower half, it's sweet to know their dad could help mend his boy's bond.
    • Afterwards, how does Barley convince Ian to give his ideas a try? By admitting he too wants to see their father in person, even if the Path of Peril will cost precious time. He's committed to going through this quest the hard way, but it's not out of blind recklessness. He wants to make sure they both meet their father, and in a way, he wants Ian to do this quest the right way.
  • Even though Ian's a bit livid that Barley withheld that the safety rope accidentally slipped off and he could've fallen, Barley expresses pride in his own way when he points out Ian did just fine using the Invisible Bridge spell.
    Ian: How long... was the rope gone?
    Barley: Oh, only just... for the second half.
    Ian: I needed that rope!
  • When confronting the boys at the drawbridge, Colt's only major concerns are that they're safe and that they stop worrying their mother with their escapades, not even bothering to bring up the numerous laws they'd broken up to that point. It's subtle, but it's the first solid proof that he genuinely cares about Laurel and her boys despite his difficulties connecting with the latter.
  • Guinevere being given a swan song when Barley sacrifices her in order to block the road and stop the cops.
    • As strange as it is, there's something enchanting about Guinevere's popped tire making a galloping sound, and then making a brave "whinny" right before it hits the rocks. It's the tear-jerking feeling that for a moment, magic from days of yore returned one last time.
    • What's the drive that Barley puts Guinevere in? Poetically, "Onward".
    • Just the act itself is a beautiful act of personal sacrifice on Barley's part. He loves this vehicle very much, but he loves his brother and father even more. If nothing else, this cements that he's like a father to Ian.
  • Barley and Ian spending quality time practicing the latter's magic on the cheesepuff boat.
  • Ian begins crossing off his checklist out of hopeless despair of ever doing any of them with his dad, but then coming to the realization that all of the things he wanted to do with his dad was already achieve through his adventures with Barley.
    • What's the one item that made him realize he did them all with Barley? "Share my entire life". Because it made him think "Who have I shared my entire life with?" And it's obvious who fits that description.
  • Seeing Corey rediscover her old mighty self, after having been reduced to a hassled fast-food manager. She goes on an adventure one more time, reclaims her sword, proves her might by helping fight the Curse Dragon, and at the end returning her tavern to its former glory, as a place were tales of adventure begin.
  • At the climax, Barley offers to hold off the dragon so Ian could finally meet their dad, but instead, Ian says Barley should be the one to see him so he can finally get to say goodbye. Ian tells Barley that even though he never had a father, Barley was always there for him, and what little time they had left was better spent on Barley than himself.
    • After the fight, Barley does finally get to say goodbye. After their father disappears for good, Barley walks over to help Ian. Ian asks what Wilden said. Barley replies he thought his wizard name would have been "Wilden the Whimsical", and that he was so proud of the men his sons had become. This is followed by a Big Damn Hug that Barley tells Ian their father asked for him to give to his little brother.
  • Tying into the above: all the while Barley has a reunion with the fully animated Wilden, Colt shows not one trace of jealousy or insecurity at seeing Laurel's first husband. If anything, he seems happy on behalf of his stepson.
    • Earlier, his running up to Laurel after the fight, sincerely concerned for her well-being.
  • Even though technology still remains prevalent, there's the sense that the Lightfoot brothers have affected enough creatures on their journey that magic is steadily returning again. Centaurs, Manticores, Pixies, they're all discovering what makes them unique once more.
  • During the epilogue Colt has moved in with the Lightfoots and, in a blink and you'll miss it moment, both Laurel and Colt are now wearing wedding rings.
  • Guinevere 2 getting a paint-job by Ian, showing a picture of himself and Barley riding a pegasus together.


  • As he was developing this film, director Dan Scanlon realized that he'd never felt the need for a father figure in his life because his brother, Bill, had stepped in to fill that role. This eventually formed the core of Onward and Dan set off to turn the film into a message of love to his brother.
  • Reportedly when Chris Pratt learned that he and Tom Holland were cast as siblings, he promptly called him exclaiming “I’m your brother!”
  • The end credits thanking "D&D" for lending Pixar a couple of their fantasy creatures, in the name of all things fantasty and magic.