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Tear Jerker / Western Animation

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"Oh, Ferdie... (sobs)... he was the only friend I ever had, in my whole life..."
"Well, what did you expect in an opera? A happy ending?"

Moments that belong to animated films are listed here.

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Individual examples:

For examples that do not yet have a dedicated Tear Jerker subpage.

Specific Networks:

  • KaBlam!! of all shows, had one of these. When Henry left the show and June was really sad, was really heart-wrenching. It's hard to see the duo away from each other.
    • Not an intended tear jerker, but when H&J said the pledge of Blam-leigiance (in the pilot, "Your Real Best Friend"). And when they say, "...And jet-packs for all". Why? Because the show is cancelled, not on VHS or DVD (this was viewed on Nick and Nicktoons during the original run, and then on Retrojunk), and it just brings back childhood memories. There will never be any other lines like this in any TV show. * sniff*
    • "Loopy and the Snow-Lady" from the Life with Loopy shorts. Seeing loopy's departure from Snow Lady was so tear-jerking. A bit odd coming from the Loopy shorts, as usually they're silly, gross, scary, or even just cute.
    • "Trouble with Inflation" from the Life with Loopy shorts. Loopy notices her dad gets upset whenever bills come in the mail, and tries (without success) to prevent bills from being delivered to the house. At the end, Loopy's dad grimaces as he looks through the latest delivery of bills, but sees and reads a heartfelt letter from Loopy, making him smile. The fact that no silly music was playing just made the scene more special.


  • There's one of the Casper the Friendly Ghost shorts, "There's Good Boos Tonight", which provides the page image. A classic tear jerker, the short has Casper befriending a baby fox named Ferdie, who winds up being chased by a hunter. As you can tell from the image, the hunter succeeds in killing Ferdie, and Casper is too nice to return the favor so he lets him off with a scare, and promptly breaks down once he discovers Ferdie's corpse. But Casper gets his Happy Endingsort of—for Ferdie returns as a ghost, allowing them to live—er, exist happily ever after.
  • From Columbia Cartoons, there's the 1937 short "The Little Match Girl". Here, we are presented the Dying Dream of a lonely orphan girl, mocked and ignored by the world around her, cold, ragged and starving, with only her matches to keep her warm—and her dreams of happiness. Not long in the short, we get a dose of Sweet Dreams Fuel, showing the girl prancing around in a Heaven-like setting, where she finally finds good clothes and happiness through a doll the cherubs gave her as a present. But like the match that was keeping her warm in real life, the dream comes crumbling down in a gut-wrenching sequence where the utopian setting is torn apart by a strong wind, quickly snapping the girl back to reality, where she desperately crawls to the burning match—only to freeze to death. But fear not, for the girl finally gets her happy ending, when an angel descends and carries her soul off to Heaven, leaving us with ringing bells and a starry night sky. This cartoon is hands down one of the most emotionally powerful cartoons ever made during The Golden Age of Animation. But you know what's even sadder? This cartoon lost the 1937 Academy Award to Disney's technically superior but nowhere near as powerful Silly Symphonies short "The Old Mill".
  • FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman: in the first episode of season five, a continuity error is fixed in the most heartbreaking way possible. Ruff reveals the last thing his mother made for him before her disappearance along with his father was a homemade rope bone. Blossom is confused, saying that a “Good Luck from Mom” balloon and note were seen in the pilot episode of Fetch (which is true; it’s seen in the first scene of the pilot). Ruff discloses miserably to a shocked and saddened Blossom that he forged his mother’s “Good luck” note out of grief that she and his father couldn’t celebrate his first big break with him.
  • Bruno Bozzetto's Life in a Tin (1967); it condenses the harsh realities of life into a six-minute cartoon, and it's a brutally honest, melancholy watch.
  • The very first Afterschool Special, 1972's The Last Of The Curlews, created a generation concerned about endangered species and other green issues.
  • There's a scene in the episode "The Pinballs" when the man in charge of the group home takes one of the kids to the hospital to visit his aunts and he tells the boy (while tearing up) about his mom who was strict and emotionally distant throughout his childhood and when she was on her death bed asking her son to tell her that he loves her he is unable to do it because of the way he was brought up.
  • The end of The Snowman. The boy runs outside first thing in the morning after his adventure with the snowman the previous night... only to find the snowman has melted. Wondering if the previous night's adventure was a dream, he finds the scarf Father Christmas gave him in the pocket of his dressing gown, and is left staring forlornly at the pile of melted snow at his feet as a solemn piano rendition of "Walking in the Air" plays on the soundtrack.
  • Surprisingly, Woody Woodpecker, of all series, has one-Born To Peck is a surprisingly chilling short, which shows an elderly, possibly dying Woody, who is so weak and frail that his beak crumples if he even tries to make a simple peck or two on a tree and can barely move—all while this is juxtaposed with him reminiscing of his childhood when he was hyper fast and able to rip through trees like a drill. It reaches the point where Woody finally decides to throw himself off a cliff in despair. And the cartoon plays this completely serious. And the scary part is that IT WORKS. This alone makes it certainly stand out from the typical Golden Age cartoon in general, let alone a Woody Woodpecker cartoon. But he gets a happy ending-when he jumps to his death, the animator hastily draws in a Fountain of Youth at the bottom to rejuvenate Woody back to his youthful self.
  • A clay-animated short accompanied by the Carly Simon song "I Get Along Without You Very Well." It dealt with a dog reminiscing about his former owner.
  • The short film Kiwi! starts off with what you think is a whimsical animated comedy, but it's guaranteed that the ending will shock you to tears.
    • The music video that sets it to Mad World is even better.
  • The ending bumper of Toonami:
    Tom: Bang...
    • Back when Tom was a guy in a space-suit, watching Reboot and Ronin Warriors — Goddamn it, CN, even weird alien-robot Tom was still Tom!
    • It's probably not just because of Tom but of what he had represented. For some he was part of their childhood, others he WAS their childhood. When Toonami left it wasn't just a series of programs that left, it was our childhood that left.
    • TOM 1's death by drowning/digestion by alien parasite. Made even worse because immediately after, while you might still hope he's fine, there was the commercial for the next segment, beginning with the announcer booming "TOM IS DEAD!"
  • The final episode of The World of David the Gnome has two tear-jerking moments. The first is when David finally has to separate with his fox friend Swift and tell him not to follow him up the mountain. Swift disobeys this and follows anyway to witness the second tear jerker, where he watches helplessly as David and his dying wife Lisa morph into a pair of trees, forever at each other's sides. As if it can get any worse, you can then see their "spirits" dancing happily and you know from that moment that's the last time you'll ever see them again. Most depressing kid's show ending ever... At least we get a Bittersweet Ending when Swift makes friends with a younger gnome.
  • A British example, the film Granpa (directed by Dianne Jackson, who also directed the animated adaption of The Snowman). It chronicles the relationship between a young girl called Emily and her grandfather, who tells her stories and looks after her. Throughout the 35 minute film his health declines. Near the end, Emily runs through the house calling out for her granpa, and comes across his empty chair, the one he's always sat in...
    • And then there's the following line, where deep down in your heart you just know are his final words...
    I'm just not quite quick enough... anymore...
  • The Puff the Magic Dragon specials have a powerful moment each:
    • Puff The Magic Dragon: When the final lines of the song are sung with Puff in despair at the devastated Honna-Lee after he told Jackie Paper to leave, only to have Jackie immediately return right after the song finishes with help to restore the island.
    • Puff The Magic Dragon and the Land of the Living Lies: The climax when the girl who seems to be a pathological liar confesses that the real reason for her lying is as a shelter from the "truth": she believes that she is responsible for her parents' divorce. Thus the girl is revealed not to be a brat, but a deeply troubled child who is all too hard on herself for something out of her control and needs Puff's wisdom to realize the real truth.
    • Puff the Magic Dragon and the Incredible Mr. Nobody: While Puff and a boy named Terry look for an imaginary friend, the boy encounters copies of the kids who verbally abused him for his talents. When the boy pleads with Puff to send them away, Puff instead shows the truth behind the abuse, a petty envy that marks Terry as superior to them.
  • The 1980 animated movie The King and the Mockingbird manages to be both scary and a Tear Jerker. The end, when the giant robot frees the bird, then crushes its cage.
  • Overtime, a graduate thesis film by French director Damien Ferrie. The film depicts an army of cute, froglike hand puppets finding their human creator slumped over at his workbench, dead. Being puppets, and not fully grasping what's happened, they attempt to bring him back to life the same way he brought them to life — by attaching rods and wires to his body and manipulating him as if he were alive. They prop him up in a chair so he can watch them play, watch home movies of him performing with them, and prepare and serve a huge banquet. This is all pretty melancholy in itself, but the dam breaks when one of the puppets catapults a grape at the puppeteer, expecting him to catch it. It hits the corpse in the head, and he falls face-first onto the table. The puppets hang their heads in unison as they realize their best friend is never coming back. Not surprisingly, this film is a tribute to Jim Henson.
  • The Large Family episode "Baby Chilly". Like The Snowman ending, only with elephants — and the snow elephant doesn't actually come back to life, but baby Lucy loved him.
  • Jean Sibelius' "Valse Triste" is bad enough on its own, but the treatment it gets in Allegro non Troppo (briefly: Cynical Italian Fantasia) makes it that much worse.
  • The animated film When the Wind Blows, a film based on the equally depressing book by Raymond Briggs (author of another tearjerker, The Snowman) about a naive elderly couple dealing with the after effects of a nuclear bomb. Suffice to say, Surprisingly Realistic Outcome follows.
  • Ziggy's Gift, where Ziggy, the ultimate Butt-Monkey, refuses to be bitter and is steadfastly determined to do some good in a grimy, cynical city with some unexpected magic to do what seems impossible, but you want to believe in it so badly.
  • The Christmas episode of Pound Puppies (1980s). Dogs barking "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen".
  • Of all the places, you would never expect Aqua Teen Hunger Force to drive anyone to tears. But lo and behold, the episode where Frylock is revealed to have Melanoma. As Frylock rests in his room, Meatwad asks what they're going to do if Frylock dies. Shake tells him to be quiet, that they need to be strong for Frylock, so he doesn't have to worry about them. Carl, Meatwad, and Shake all hug each other.
  • Vuk AKA The Little Fox. His FAMILY gets killed by hunters and later, his adoptive father Karak gets killed by hunters as well which is much, much worse than what Bambi had to endure.
  • Home Movies —the one where Brendon accidentally lets the neighbour's cat outside, only for it to get rabies. There's just something about the poor doomed cat, the owners' reaction, and Brendon's guilt.
  • Huntik: Secrets and Seekers: Episodes 25-26. Dante's Heroic BSOD, Zhalia holding him in her arms and crying when they're surrounded and she thinks that it's the end, and Sabriel's Killed Off For Real death. The Professor vaporizes her, with no ceremony or final goodbye for Sophie.
  • The Adventures of Mark Twain: In the end of the "The Diary of Adam and Eve" segment, Adam and Eve, now both old and frail, write in their respective diaries how they both wish they'll be the first one to die, since neither of them wants to be alone in the world. Eve dies first, leaving Adam mourning.
    Adam: Wherever she was, there was Eden.
  • The song "I'm All Alone in the World" from Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Eep.
  • Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol is a mostly straight retelling of the story (which can come as a shock to someone seeing it for the first time, expecting typical Magoo slapstick...uh UH) and, in many respects, one of the best. It's full of heartbreaking scenes, and music is one of the most powerful emotional triggers.
  • "Sebastian's Voodoo" and "Reach"...
  • Ruby-Spears' Mega Man cartoon has a couple.
    • Near the end of "Bro Bots", Mega Man saves Proto Man's life during their fight, despite the latter betraying him and his family after pretending to be good. After a corny line, Proto Man grows serious and asks if he's getting sentimental. Mega responds that he owed Proto for telling him about the scrambler chip he'd placed on him, and now they were even. Then sad music starts playing as Proto Man leaves to rejoin Wily. Protoman punches through a glass window as he makes his escape. The shards become embedded in the now-cooling molten metal, and you saw Mega Man in their reflection. Not moving to stop Proto Man. Just sitting there, staring at where his brother left...
      Proto Man: Until next time, bro.
      Mega Man: (bitterly) Yeah. Until next time... bro.
    • Another was in the episode "Mega-Pinocchio". After believing he was turned into a human, Mega Man failed to stop Guts Man and Cut Man, taking the blame for letting them get away. It was really Wily toying with his mind that made him hesitate, but Mega was unaware of this. He ended up talking to Dr. Light about it, which resulted in the following lines.
      Light: Don't be upset, Mega. Failure is a human quality. But we humans learn from our mistakes.
      Mega Man: ...Am I one of your mistakes?
  • The Cybersix episode, "Terra". When the Blob Monster Monster of the Week gains emotions and a conscience, you know things could only end in tears.
    Cybersix: Please come back... my friend.
  • Bunny. A strange tale, but the ending...
  • HBO's Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child - A child-friendly series trying to promote diversity by retelling famous classic fairy tales in different ethnic backgrounds. Most episodes are just like their anvilicious, Disneyfied fairy tale counterparts (but with more jazz....and black people!), but the episode "The Happy Prince" based on a story by Oscar Wilde was a stand out.
  • The HBO Family series HBO Storybook Musicals had one episode that was a musical version of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. There's a very sad song Peter sings when he starts missing home after having trouble finding his way out of Mr Mcgregor's Garden.
  • Don Hertzfeldt's The Meaning of Life (be sure to watch both parts) is definitely an example of this overlapping with CMOH. Near the end two alien creatures (presumably) from Earth's far future are standing on a beach and the smaller (presumably) asks the bigger what the meaning of life is. The bigger scoffs and (again, presumably) explains why it's a stupid question, crushing the smaller one's curiosity. Then the bigger one leaves, the sun sets and the smaller one looks up at the night sky and cracks a Mona Lisa Smile (presumably) in understanding.
    • His Bill movies, especially I am so proud of you. The film is an emotional rollercoaster, but the ending where Bill's death is contrasted with his birth and early childhood is just too much.
  • Any one of the three Raggedy Ann shorts from the 1940s, especially Raggedy Ann's song from "Suddenly It's Spring" and the absolutely heart-wrenching scene that lead up to it.
    • That's to say nothing of the short "Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy". The whole second half is one tear jerker right after the other, though it does end in tears of joy. It's a shame there's no record of the voice actors from any of these cartoons. They deserve props for their roles in these cartoons.
    • A Halloween cartoon back in The '70s: a sad pumpkin left all alone in the pumpkin patch on Halloween night, crying because he wasn't "perfect" enough to be a Jack 'o Lantern, and so no one had picked him. "Maybe I could be a pie, or something."
    • "Raggedy Ann and Andy and the Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile". Let it be known that happy tears soon arrive, as the leads come across him in time to hear his lamenting, and cry out joyfully "We want you! We want you!"
    • "The Enchanted Square", in which Raggedy Ann befriends a little blind girl and teaches her to see through her imagination. The song "You Can See With Your Heart" and the ending are especially moving.
  • Galaxy Rangers had many a Bittersweet Ending, but one of the most heart-breaking was at the end of Tom DeHaven's "Galaxy Stranger." The scene could have been pure Narm had the voice actors been at anything less than their best, or the setup been any less tragic.
    • The final line in "Psychocrypt": "We'll free her one day, I know it." It's a sucker punch when you realize they never will.
  • "The Little Match Girl" is a sweet tale about a homeless little girl selling matches. As she lights the matches to try and stay warm, she has visions of happier times. When she lights all the matches she has left, she has flashbacks to times with her grandmother and quietly dies in the snow.
  • The Plague Dogs!: The ending. Also, when one of the dogs meets a friendly hunter and accidentally paws the trigger to his rifle, shooting said hunter in the head.
  • The reprise to "We'll Be Together" in the Timeless Tales from Hallmark episode "Rapunzel".
  • Surprisingly, even Superfriends had one of these. Unsurprisingly, it happened in the somewhat Darker and Edgier last season (Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians)... as the first animated rendition of Bruce Wayne's loss of his parents.
  • The Jimmy Two-Shoes episode "Heloise, Schmeloise", where Heloise is ripping up her Stalker Shrine to Jimmy in a Breakup Bonfire after he falls in love with her Robot Me. Seeing such a usually strong character so broken can really get to you.
  • I Am Weasel. My Friend The Smart Banana. Oh my god. It starts off funny with IM Weasel befriending a talking banana but turns completely sad once the banana starts getting sick. IM Weasel has tears dripping down his muzzle like a leaky faucet as he holds the dying banana's hand in the hospital and he's probably crying because he knows how completely helpless he is and despite being a genius, there's nothing he can do to stop his banana friend from dying. *sniff*
  • The Secret of Kells:
    • Old Abbot Cellach in the Distant Finale. His spirit was broken after the Vikings broke through the defenses that he'd been working on for so long and hundreds, if not thousands people died because the wall was the only thing he concentrated on, rather then supports for the stairs to the safest building (which broke under the weight of so many people, dropping them to their deaths). Plus, he had locked Brendan, his own nephew and last surviving family member, in the scriptorium as punishment for working on something other than the wall. Said scriptorium was destroyed by the Vikings and Cellach was lead to believe for years that he had caused Brendan's death.
    • Aisling's Song. It is possibly the most beautiful song in an animated film, or in any film, period. The beauty is juxtaposed later on when the audience finds out Aisling does not get along well with Crom Cruach. Just listen to the words: " must go where I cannot..." At least Crom Cruach was one of her own.
  • Song Of The Birds
    • In Max Fleischer's original version a boy goes too trigger-happy to the point that he actually shoots a baby robin learning how to fly. His mother and father try to revive him via giving him water from the fountain. The birds stage a funeral for the poor birdie, and the boy tearfully watches the action, pleading for mercy and forgiveness. But when it rains, the baby bird woke up alive and well.
    • If you are to watch the remake with Little Audrey, better grab a lot of Kleenex. Seriously. The makers of the 'toon are not responsible for any eye redness due to crying or high therapy bills caused by it.
      • The part when all the forest animals hold a funeral for the baby bluebird is more elaborate. Director Bill Tytla goes to extremes by adding scenes of birds hanging a black ribbon on the nest, hummingbirds flying in "missing man" formation, and a flock of birds making a wreath of flowers in the air. NOW THAT'S TOO MUCH! Even the flowers are crying for him.
      • One YouTube commentator was so touched by the part when the rabbit hugs her child during the funeral procession that she hugs and kisses her dog whenever she sees an animal abuse commercial.
      • That particular part is supposed to be a bit of comic relief, as shown by the baby rabbit being confused by his mother's actions. It's not - she's doing it because she knows it could have been her child's funeral instead of the bird's and she's grateful it isn't. Also kinda heartwarming.
      • The poor moon and sky - they are crying so much that the clouds rain tears over the corpse of the poor birdie. They cry so much, only to have the bird awakened by them.
    Little Audrey: I... I didn't mean to do it... I didn't mean to do it... the little birdie's... so sad...
    • The ending will make you cry tears of a happy sort - Audrey destroys her gun and scatters bird seed around, only for the birds to refuse to come near as they are still scared of her. Then the little bird she shot, seeing how sad she is, flies over to her, and the other birds, seeing him forgive the person who nearly killed him, join him.
  • "Gribet" from My Little Pony Tales has the "Off You Go" song, which is about having to let go of a pet frog because it belongs in the wild. Heck, Sweetheart, the pony that has to let the frog go, is shown crying herself, as is Spot, the frog.
  • In the Donkey Kong Country episode Kong For A Day, Donkey Kong is banished to the White Mountains after King K. Rool frames him for various misdeeds. When he gets there, he sings this song.
    I don't know what's happening to me/I'm getting all the blame for things I didn't do/Can anybody tell me just what I did wrong?/I'm all alone and I'm so confused/I don't know what everyone wants me to be/I only know just how to be me/Once I was the ape of the hour/They think I'm a coward/An absolute zero/I'm nobody's hero/An absolute zero/I'm nobody's hero/I'm nobody's hero...
    • The majority of the episode "Klump's Lumps" qualify for this in spades.
  • In the Polish Ark, there's a virus wiping out mankind, forcing them to go aboard large ships (dubbed Arks) to search for uncontaminated land. The main character discovers he has the illness, pulls out a gun, and... stops. He then goes up to the top of the ship, seeing land right there, only for his gaze to drop to the deck below him... and the scattered corpses of others in his situation. He falls to his knees as tears stream down his face, putting the gun to his temple and is stopped by a nurse slapping his cheek, taking away the gun (revealed to be a door handle), and escorting him back into the convalescent home.
  • The German animated film Laura's Star is positively adorable and usually pretty heartwarming...and then the audience notices Star is losing losing its light and turning gray, while Laura is unwilling to accept what's going on. Star's dying; this is what losing light and turning gray means for a star. And then in the climax of the film, Star and Laura are both caught in a sudden rainstorm that knocks Laura into a dumpster and sends Star splashing into the river. Laura manages to fish her friend out, but the last of Star's light fades out as she holds it in her arms. And then there's the scene right after, when her neighbor Max finds her sitting under the footbridge, sobbing and telling him to go away.
  • An animated short from Spain titled Cuerdas (Ropes), is about a little girl named Maria from an orphanage who befriends a mute and wheelchair-bound boy, becoming his Only Friend. Maria is determined to help and spend time with the boy, teaching him to play soccer and read, and hoping to travel around the world with him when they grow up. The two form a cute bond that lasts until one day, when Maria overhears the orphanage's principal and discovers that the boy died in his sleep the night before. This unexpected situation, as well as Maria's reaction is a big tearjerker, although the short's ending turns into a heartwarming moment when it's shown that twenty years later, with the orphanage now turned into a school for children with special needs, Maria has become a teacher and still wears a little piece of rope on her wrist that belonged to the boy as a memory of him. Watch it here.
  • In the animated version of Harold and the Purple Crayon, the episode "I Remember Goldie" is pretty depressing. Harold learns that his fish died. He doesn't know about the concept of death and thinks that it was something he did to make her go away. Harold meets a mermaid who tells him that it's not his fault and that death is a natural part of life. At the end of the episode, Harold draws a picture of Goldie, then says his only line in the episode: "Goodbye Goldie..."
  • The Magic Pudding: The vision Bunyip has of his mother singing halfway through the film is so hauntingly sad that it brings the tears right from your heart.
  • Animal Behaviour will strike a chord with anyone who's been to therapy, especially Victor the gorilla's breakdown near the end.
  • Jingle Bell Rap features the K9 4's Lancer, Rollover, and his issues with his Disappeared Dad. He reveals that the last time they spoke to each other was a heated argument over the former's dreams of music which ends with them disowning each other. They both regret this ever since, especially when Rollover comes to visit him to reconcile, he learns from a neighbor that he died, much to his devastation. However, unknown to him, his dad simply moved away and is trying to find him, to the point where he took a job playing Santa for his son's band to reunite with him. This culminates in Rollover reminiscing the happier times with his father while performing "Christmastime in My Hometown" in which they respectively shed a Single Tear. Fortunately, they finally reunite near the end of the concert and make amends.