Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Tear Jerker / The Secret of NIMH

Go To
Poor Nicodemus...

  • Nicodemus's opening monologue as he laments Jonathan's death and wonders what will happen to his wife now:
    Nicodemus: Jonathan was a dear friend. I am lost, knowing how to help his widow. She knows nothing of us, or the Plan. Perhaps best that I do nothing at present. I shall miss him. Jonathan, wherever you are, your thoughts must comfort her tonight. She'll be waiting, and you will not return. friend.
    • The fact that this is the first scene in the movie pretty much sets the tone for the emotional roller coaster that is in store for us.
  • The scene where Mrs. Brisby gives Timmy his medicine while the song "Flying Dreams Lullaby" plays in the background, and the other Brisby children watch, wondering if their brother is going to be okay.
    • The harshest part of this scene is the fact that Never Say "Die" is averted by children. The children crowd around Timothy's bed, clearly worried, and ask their mother if he's going to die.
      Cynthia: Is Timmy gonna die?
      Mrs. Brisby: No, sweetheart. He's just very sick.
      Teresa: What's the matter with him, Mother?
      Mrs. Brisby: Mr. Ages called it...pneumonia.
      Teresa: Pneumonia?
      Cynthia: When will he get better?
      Mrs. Brisby: Soon...I hope.
    • If you pay attention to Teresa just as Cyntha finishes asking if Timmy will die, she looks like she's trying to not start crying at the idea of her little brother dying.
  • And later, when using the power of the amulet previously given to her by Nicodemus, Mrs. Brisby single-handedly moves her home to safety.
    • The part after the home was completely submerged in the mud is exceptionally well handled, at least in terms of Mrs. Brisby's reaction. She has a very disturbed (and disturbing) wide-eyed expression, summarizing the horror and shock of a widow seeing her house with all her children and her friend sink while the rescuers are just standing next to it, unable to do anything against it. Plus, they forcefully drag her away from said sinking house while she watches, being all hysterical and quite possibly near breakdown. It is only moments later that there is any indication that this predicament would be resolved.
      • If that wasn't bad enough, they show the children terrified, scrambling for survival.
        Teresa: Mother. Mother!
        Cynthia: What's all that black stuff?
    • Advertisement:
    • Then, when the block ''does'' rise after being saved the amulet saves it, it shoots out and the instrumental version of ''Flying Dreams'' starts to play, and Mrs Brisby collapses out of sheer exhaustion.
  • The part when Mrs. Brisby finds out what happened to her husband. It's that little hitch in her voice as she's reading from Nicodemus's journal that gets the tears flowing:
    Mrs. Brisby (reading): "He was ki— (Her voice breaks.) …"killed today… while drugging the farmer's cat, Dragon." Oh, I....I never knew... just what happened.
    • It's also a nasty bit of Fridge Horror when you realize Mrs. Brisby hadn't known until then just how her husband died. It's likely he just never came home one night and she was forced to assume the worst. If she had never visited the rats, it's likely she never would have gotten closure for what happened to Jonathan.
      • In the original novel, she explicitly tells Nicodemus that she never knew what happened, only that Jonathan left one night and didn't come home.
    • Hell, pretty much any time she's forced to remember her late husband or invoke his name for help there's a little catch in her voice. The wound is still very fresh. Her reaching out to the image of him in the image Nicodemus shows her is absolutely heartbreaking.
    • Advertisement:
    • Now imagine her entire time in the farmhouse, during her own attempt to drug Dragon. How many times must she have thought to herself, "This is how Jonathan died."
  • Nicodemus explains to Mrs. Brisby why Jonathan couldn't tell her about NIMH: the experiments performed on him, Mr. Ages, and the rats slowed their aging process. You can see Mrs. Brisby coming to realize that, for Jonathan, watching her grow old while he remained young would likely be even worse than allowing his wife and children to outlive him. There's also the fact that her children would outlive her since they probably would have inherited their father's abnormal traits.
  • The death of Nicodemus as well as Justin and Mr. Ages's reactions to it. Justin has a momentary Heroic BSoD, while Mr. Ages breaks down and seems to start crying as he tells Mrs. Brisby what happened. Ages has been rather crotchety in all his previous scenes, but his sorrow makes sense when you realize that he and Nicodemus escaped NIMH together and must have been very old friends.
    • To add to that, when Mr. Ages tells Mrs. Brisby what happened, he breaks down crying in her arms, and she looks directly at the camera with her eyes full of tears and it's just heartbreaking. Having said that, she gets a Moment of Awesome immediately afterward when she composes herself and warns the rats that NIMH is coming to kill them.
  • Poor, poor Sullivan. True he was in league with Jenner, but the entire time the poor guy just can't bring himself to go through with the murder of their leader, and is essentially forced to work against his own just to appease the power-hungry Jenner... whose victory will mean nothing as NIMH knows where they are hiding and plan to have them destroyed by morning. Sullivan eventually comes to the aid of Justin over him in the final battle, and quickly loses his life for it. Even after he lands the killing blow on Jenner with his final breath, we don't see anybody coming to mourn him onscreen.
  • You have to feel sorry for Jeremy near the end, after going through all sorts of hell to impress Mrs. Brisby, he finally comes back enthusiastically with string in tow to lift her house out of the mud, only to realize he's missed the whole ordeal. Dejected, he fails to see any other point for the string anymore ("What's a guy like me gonna do with a love nest anyway?") and slowly walks away slumped over. However, just then a klutzy female crow crashes into him...
  • While it quickly stops thanks to Jeremy, Mrs. Brisby breaks down in tears near the beginning of the movie because she thinks she lost Timmy's medicine to help him with his pneumonia. When you look at it in her view, she just lost the only chance she had of her younger son surviving his illness.