WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.
The Disney Film:
- Zeus and Hera losing Hercules. You're not given as much time to feel bad thanks to happy adoptive parents and Pain and Panic getting the crap beaten out of them, but it's still pretty sad. It's bad enough when Zeus howls in rage; all Hera does is scream, then collapse into tears. Also, even after they find Hercules, the mortality forced on him by Hades and his minions means they can't bring him home.Muses: But Zeus and Hera wept, for they knew their son could never come home. They had to watch their precious baby grow up from afar...
- Hercules being bullied by everyone else in the town he grew up in. He is REALLY good at looking like a kicked puppy.
- The first part of Hercules' number "Go The Distance", where he sings about how he feels like he doesn't belong. For anyone who was a loner as a teenager, it's too relatable.
- Hercules leaving Amphitryon and Alcmene to go find the Temple of Zeus.
- Amphitryon finally accepting that he has to tell his son the truth.Amphitryon: Hercules, there's... something your mother and I have been... meaning to tell you...Hercules: [sometime later] ...but, if you found me, then where did I come from? Why was I left there?Alcmene: This... was around your neck. [gives Hercules the medallion Zeus gave him when he was a baby] It's the symbol of the Gods...Hercules: This is it! Don't you see?! Maybe they have the answers! I'll go to the Temple of Zeus and-and... [looks to his parents] Mom... Pop... you're the greatest parents a boy could have, but... I gotta know...[Cut to the next morning as Amphitryon and Alcmene see off their son on his journey, with Alcemene giving him a cloak against the weather]
- Phil after it seems like Hercules dies along with the hydra.Phil: There goes another one, just like Achilles...
- Meg's story.Hades: You sold your soul to me to save your boyfriend's life. And how does this creep thank you? By running off with some babe. He hurt you bad real bad, didn't he, Meg, huh?
- Meg's face when Hades brings this up says it all. It's not angry; it's more like, "Yeah, I know... I don't wanna talk about this..."
- While Hercules is talking with a proud Zeus about his heroic deeds, he's convinced that he's finally gonna come home to Mount Olympus. But Zeus tells him he is proud but he's not yet proven himself a "true hero"; being a rich and famous monster hunter doesn't count. When Hercules asks what more is there, Zeus can only say that his son has to discover that for himself by looking into his heart. After Zeus leaves, Hercules slams his fists on the floor in anger and confusion.Hercules: [to Phil] This stuff doesn't seem to be getting me anywhere. I gave this everything I had, and it's still not good enough.
- Meg and Hercules have a philosophical moment on their first date. Listen to Meg. We already know she's a Broken Bird, but here, it's taken Up to Eleven.Hercules: You know, when I was a kid, I would've given anything to be exactly like everybody else.
Meg: You wanted to be petty and dishonest?
Hercules: Everybody's not like that.
Meg: Yes, they are...
Hercules: You're not like that.
Meg: How do you know what I'm like?
Hercules: All I know is you're the most amazing person with... weak ankles I've ever met. Meg... when I'm with you, I don't feel so... alone.
Meg: Sometimes it's better to be alone.
Hercules: What do you mean?
Meg: Nobody can hurt you.
- Tying into both of the above is Meg's furious attempts to keep from admitting she's in love with Hercules. She's been burned before and doesn't want to even entertain the possibility, just go with the idea that Hercules is a mark and once she gets what Hades wants out of him, she can get her soul back and leave. "I Won't Say I'm In Love" is Meg refusing to admit, not to the Muses, but to HERSELF that she's fallen for Hercules.
- Meg is thrilled and bragging that Hercules will beat Hades, facing away from him. But then she turns toward him and he informs her of what she's just done:Meg: [smugly] You can't beat him! He has no weaknesses! He's going to...Hades: [smiling] I think he does, Meg. I truly think he does. [burns the flower that Hercules gave Meg to a cinder just to prove the point]
- When Phil discovers that Meg is working with Hades (and misses her reluctance) and attempts to warn Hercules, Hercules just goes into complete denial, leading him to hit Phil in a blind rage when he begins to insult her. The look of hurt on Phil's face right after this shows just how much this has affected him emotionally.Phil: I thought you were gonna be the all-time champ...not the all time chump.
- Hercules looks back him as he leaves, obviously horrified at what he did, but is still too mad at his friend and mentor to make up with him properly.
- After Hercules loses his strength, Hades, Pain, and Panic humiliate him in front of Meg, causing her to cry. Hades even gleefully reveals that Meg was under his employ the entire time and mocks that Hercules gave up his strength for a lie. Cue Hercules screaming out that Hades is lying.
- Hercules loses his strength after fully realizing his betrayal by Meg and his betrayal of Phil. Cyclops is yelling for him to come fight, and he goes.Meg: What are you doing? Without your strength, you'll be killed!
Hercules: [dully] There are worse things.
- When Phil arrives and tries to pep talk him during the fight with the Cyclops, Hercules just tells him dully that he was right; "only rookies have dreams." As he says this, he's glaring at Meg, who can't even bring herself to meet his gaze.
- Hercules's Big "NO!" when he sees that Meg's been crushed after pushing him out of the way of a falling column. Sadly, the mood does not improve as Hercules gets his strength back and gets the column off her.Meg: Hades' deal is broken. He promised I wouldn't get hurt.
- Meg's death. The movie gives a lot of focus to her agony as she lies dying. Once Hades throws the knowledge back at him as a last taunt, Hercules stops in his tracks and rushes back to try and see her before she dies (even though there's not a whole lot he can do), while the Fates prepare to snip her thread. And she doesn't die in his arms. She dies and doesn't even get to see him. Phil can only helplessly hold her hand before he feels it go limp as the Fates cut her thread. Hercules arrives to see her just lying there, clearly dead. He doesn't get to tell her he's won, or say sorry, or that he loves her. No, he can only cradle her limp, cooling body in his arms and sob Manly Tears. Tate Donovan's voice acting is just amazing for this. And even Phil is crying during this scene; he hated Meg up until she came to tell him that Hercules was in trouble.Phil: I'm sorry, kid. There are some things you just can't change.
- The music is even more heart-wrenching. When Meg is first crushed, a few bars from "I Won't Say I'm In Love" play in a slightly bitter tone. Then, as we watch her die, "Go The Distance," a song full of joy and hope, plays in a tragic refrain as Hercules cradles her body. If you didn't cry before... Who really went the distance? It was Meg...
- The end. When a constellation is created for Hercules, Phil is awed. Then someone points out the constellation, saying "That's Phil's boy!", and Phil sheds a tear of joy, having just realized his life's ambition.