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Tear Jerker / The Land Before Time

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"Littlefoot... let your heart guide you..."

Don Bluth's The Land Before Time is widely recognized as a classic animated film. It is also widely recognized as having really, really sad moments.

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

First Movie
  • Littlefoot's mother's death. She fights off a lethal predator to protect not only her son, but Cera as well. She gets a fatal wound in the process, but still stays on her feet long enough to save them and get them to (relative) safety as an earthquake erupts around them. After all that, Littlefoot finds her, and she's utterly beaten up and he pleads with her to get up, and she does manage to for a moment, only to collapse. Then, as she succumbs to her injuries, her last words to her son are to head to the Great Valley and that she'll always be with him. He then watched as she finally died. His "Mother? Mother?!" line at the end is particularly heart-wrenching.
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  • Rooter comforting Littlefoot after his mother dies - he's initially gruff and annoyed, but then when he realizes why Littlefoot is so sad, he immediately comforts the kid and reassures Littlefoot that his mom will always be a part of him as long as he remembers what she taught him. Particularly the line: "It's nobody's fault." It's such a sweet line in its own right, showing the compassion an old dinosaur has for a heartbroken child (and hints that he's been in Littlefoot's place). However, if you've ever lost someone important, then you'll know how desperately you try to look for someone to blame for their passing, including yourself, and sometimes you really need to hear someone say that to you.
  • The little pterosaur tries to cheer Littlefoot up with food and Littlefoot just stares on dully, not even reacting...
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  • The scene after that, where Littlefoot wanders aimlessly and nuzzles his head against his mother's tracks while sobbing.
  • And soon after that when Littlefoot sees his shadow cast large on the side of a cliff, and mistakes it for his mother. Because you know she's dead, but he doesn't understand, and he's so sure she's back, he's so happy but you know better and you have to watch him, knowing what's coming. Made even worse when he licks the rock.
  • Littlefoot's mother gives him a star-shaped leaf, which he holds on to as a memento of hers. What happens to it? It gets crushed by none other than Sharptooth.
  • Littlefoot and Cera's fight. Cera is becoming more and more impatient while the others are at their wits end, and it all comes to a breaking point when Cera insults Littlefoot's mother and declares she's going another way. The two come to blows, with Cera coming out on top, and Littlefoot, holding back tears, yells at her to go on ahead.
  • Cera walking off alone and then breaking down crying after her Humiliation Conga and her remorse for almost getting her friends killed, but still being too proud to admit she was the one in the wrong. Sure, she was a massive Jerkass, and said Humiliation Conga did feed her a much-needed fat slice of Humble Pie, but she's still a kid and realizing how terrible she'd behaved after such a traumatizing experience is still not going to be pleasant.
    • While not mentioned, it's heavily implied that Cera may feel responsible for the death of Littlefoot's mother. After all, she had ignored Littlefoot the first time and went the wrong way while escaping the Sharptooth.
  • Petrie's Disney Death after the Sharptooth pulls him down with it during it's Disney Villain Death, bone chilling scream and all. Upon this sight a traumatized Ducky breaks down into quiet sobbing, though a still-alive Petrie interrupts it.
  • Littlefoot's mother appearing to him in the form of the clouds. As he tells her he tried and failed to find the Great Valley, her form begins to dissipate. "Mother? Mother? Don't go, Mother! Don't go!" Geez...
  • The song "If We Hold On Together". Also the dialogue that comes before it; "And they all grew up together in the valley, generation upon generation, each passing on to the next. The tale of their ancestor's journey to the valley long ago."
    • Here's the cover with the kids who played Cera and Ducky in the sequels, Anndi McAfee and Aria Noelle Curzon respectively, singing it.
  • On a meta-level; Ducky's voice actress Judith Barsi was murdered at the tender age of ten by her own father four months before the film's release. And if that weren't sobering enough, what is inscribed on her gravestone? "Yep! Yep! Yep!"

The Sequels

  • II - The Great Valley Adventure: Littlefoot having to say goodbye to Chomper.
  • III - The Time of the Great Giving: Realizing why Hyp has been a jerk after his dad shows up.
  • IV - Journey Through the Mists:
    • "Grandma Longneck's Lullaby", as she tries to help Littlefoot cope with the impending death of Grandpa Longneck. Made even worse by the fact that she is Littlefoot's maternal grandmother, and despite all her waxing philosophical on the circle of life, she ends the song in tears, trudging with head down to her mate's deathbed. Made even worse by the fact that this was Linda Gary's final role before her death.
    • At the end of the film, even though he became friends with the heroes, especially Spike, Tickles chooses not to return to the Great Valley with the dinosaurs, presumably because his main family was still in the Valley of Mists. Therefore, there's a scene in which they have to part ways.
  • V - The Mysterious Island:
    • "Always There", which sees Littlefoot referring to his deceased mom.
    • Chomper is seen leaving the group briefly, crying, due to Cera thinking that he would bite into Littlefoot and not fully trusting him for being a Sharptooth and believing that he might eat them when he grows up.
  • VI - The Secret of Saurus Rock: The final verse of "On Your Own".
  • VII - The Stone of Cold Fire:
    • Pterano's backstory is pretty harsh. As Grandpa Longneck reveals, during the events of the first movie, Pterano and the current adult residents of the valley were members of the same herd who planned to rendezvous with the children at the Great Valley following the massive earthshake that separated both parties. Only Pterano felt dissatisfied with only being a member of the herd and was convinced that he could be an effective leader, managing to convince a cluster of herd members to break off from the main group and let him lead them on an alternate route to the valley. Tragically, this went horribly wrong when he inadvertently led his followers into a sharpteeth ambush that, in spite of them putting up a valiant fight to defend themselves, resulted in ALL OF THEM being overwhelmed and killed, with Pterano being the Sole Survivor simply because he was able to fly to safety. Apparently, the one casualty that traumatized him the most was the death of a hapless female swimmer who plummeted to her doom off a cliff while the rest of the herd was getting slaughtered. When he meets back up with the main herd at the Valley, he can only turn his back and cradle his head in his hands in grief and shock, undoubtedly horrified by the carnage he brought upon the dinosaurs who trusted him.
      Grandpa Longneck: He never told us what did happen, only that It wasn't his fault... And we never saw any of the others again...
    • To make it worse, take a look at Pterano's expressions and body language in that flashback. He really did try to take control of the situation, and he really wanted to help them. But to put it bluntly, the poor guy just was completely in over his head when it came to taking up the role of a leader (as Grandpa and Grandma Longneck pointed out after the flashback). The whole situation was just too much for him to handle and he was Forced to Watch them die without being able to help them.
    • Even years after, he's still haunted by the massacre. When Ducky falls from the mountain during the climax, he immediately starts to hallucinate/have flashbacks of the swimmer who fell off the cliff because of him. Luckily, this time it turns into a Moment of Awesome when he manages to save her in time.
  • VIII - The Big Freeze:
    • "Family"
    • After Spike leaves the valley with a herd of his own kind, his mother and sister are despondent. Ducky's mother goes to her daughter and tries to talk to her about it, and Ducky sadly keeps brushing her off again and again until she snaps at her mother. By that point, while plenty of dialogue applies to Ducky, you realize that Ducky's mother isn't just trying to talk to her about how her daughter feels, especially after she keeps getting brushed off - Ducky's mother is confessing how she feels now that her son has left her for who knows how long.
  • IX - Journey to Big Water: The ending, where Mo just didn't want to leave his new friends, and the song "No One Has To Be Alone" (especially the end credits version).
  • X - The Great Longneck Migration:
    • Littlefoot's initial reaction to meeting his dad. Instead of a joyous reunion, Reality Ensues and Littlefoot runs off with tears in his eyes and feelings of betrayal in his brain. Subverted when they talk it over and begin to bond.
    • You have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by "Bestest Friends", tackling the implications that a friendship that has lasted ten movies might come to a physical end even if the gang will always be best friends in their hearts.
    • The ending. Littlefoot's distress at having to choose between his friends and grandparents, or his long-lost father. His grandparents distress at the thought of losing him, which they try very hard to cover up for his sake. And his final explanation to his father that he just isn't ready to leave his friends and grandparents, despite really wanting to go live with his father.
  • XI - Invasion of the Tinysauruses:
    • After Littlefoot confesses to being the one who knocked down all the tree sweets, his friends all their backs on him and explain why they mad at him, just seeing Littlefoot wander off depressed is hard to watch. Made worse by the fact that Cera making fun of him for being well little was the whole reason he ended up knocking down the tree sweets to begin with.
  • XIV - Journey of the Brave: In the prologue, which recaps the series both for newcomers to the series and longtime viewers, we get a direct mention of Littlefoot's mother - that "the perils of this world had claimed Littlefoot's mother". It may be a form of Never Say "Die", but it's still poignant to be included in the revival of the series after so many years.

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