There were moments of sadness within The Lorax itself.
The TV special
- The TV special has the Once-ler arguing with himself about destroying the Truffula Trees, and eventually he rationalizes that if he didn't do it someone else would.The Once-ler: (singing) Every once in a while, I'll sit down with myself asking, "Once-ler, why are you a Once-ler?" And I cringe, I don't smile as I sit there on trial asking, "Aren't you ashamed, you old Once-ler? You ought to be locked in a hoosegow, you should. The things that you do are completely un-good!" Yeah? But if I didn't do them, then someone else would! "That's a very good point, Mr. Once-ler!"
- From the TV special version, near the end, we hear the song the Once-ler sings to the boy, with a danger sign, crashed cars, and abandoned tires appearing as he sings.Boy: What's an "unless"?Once-ler: (singing) Just a far away word...just a far away thought...Boy: A thought? About what? About something I ought?Once-ler: Well...(singing) A thought about something that somebody ought...a thought about something that somebody ought.
- Immediately following that: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get get better...it's not."
- All three scenes of the animals in the TV special in their own right. The Barbeloots song as they leave is creepy and depressing, and the Swomee Swans leaving just takes this to a whole new level. The Humming Fish leaving isn't as sad as the first two, however it still has the impression that they are no longer able to live there.
"Now all that was left 'neath the bad smelling sky, was my big empty factory, the Lorax, and I. The Lorax said nothing. Just gave me a glance. Just gave me a very sad, sad backward glance as he lifted himself by the seat of his pants and I'll never forget the grim look on his face when he heisted himself and took leave of this place through a hole in the smog without leaving a trace. And all that the Lorax left here in this mess was a small pile of rocks with one word..."
- But most of all, the Oncelers family leaving. The song they sing is an absolutely heartwrenching reprise of Jolly Good Onceler.
- The Onceler's broken narration of the Lorax's departure. You can tell the man has been living with the guilt for a long time.
- After the last tree is cut down, the Once-ler is not only told by his mom that he was a big disappointment, but all the forest friends he had looked sadly at him (even Pipsqueak himself). Still trying desperately to win them back after all that happens, he even offers the little bear a marshmallow, though the little tyke, with sadness in his eyes, only turns away. Even Melvin the donkey leaves with the other animals. And then comes when the Lorax himself lifts himself up to the sky, leaving behind the small pile of stones that says "unless". Alone with his failures, the Once-ler lowers his head, silent, mourning. Just, the entire scene here.
- Made especially powerful by John Powell's score; the music for this scene is considered to be the most powerful piece of the whole film.
- Tying into the above, Ted's silent shock at this shows he's starting to comprehend that this is the man who ruined the world, a man who couldn't feel any more sorry than he already does.
- The fall of the first tree: Partly the music, and partly the dramatic camera angles, but the scene is reminiscent of the end of a boss from Shadow of the Colossus. We cannot help but feel that something terrible has happened, and that something beautiful has died, with no way of bringing it back...
- The simple fact that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands of trees in this forest, and that they're shown to be hardy and fast growing — and the Lorax and the forest animals gather in mourning for this one all the same.
- This exchange, though sarcastic at first, makes you realize just how lonely the Once-ler's been...Once-ler: Aww, you missed me.Ted: What?Once-ler: Well, you're already back. Clearly, you missed me. A little. (voice trembles slightly) Right?
- The scene in which Audrey comes back to her house to add onto her mural and finds it was painted over with a spray painted "Courtesy of O'Hare Inc."
- "Thank you, Ted." For so many reasons:
- This is the first look we get of the present-day Onceler and we finally discover that he has grown a moustache in the style of The Lorax. Maybe it's an attempt to keep part of the Lorax's spirit alive, if only in terms of his grooming style. Or maybe it's just so he can see his long-lost friend's face whenever he looks in the mirror.
- We finally get the Anvilicious realization that the enthusiastic go-getter we've known from the main flashback story is now just a sad old man, a shadow of his former glory. Yet in the same breath, the film redeems him after a lifetime of regret.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: You can see tears welling up in the Onceler's eyes as he says this. Just in case the delivery of the line or the emotional backstory hadn't already hammered home just how important it was for him to see people's reverence for trees restored.
- Considering that Ted is named for Theodore Geisel (Dr.Seuss), The Onceler might in fact be speaking to the good doctor and thanking him for creating him and spreading the Lorax's message to all of us in our world.
- Alternatively, it may be a message to Dr.Seuss from the production's cast and crew, thanking him for the myriad of fond childhood memories he has given not just themselves, but also their children, grandchildren and generations to come.
- "That's it. The very last one. That may stop you." While anyone who's read the book knew it was coming, the way the last chop is portrayed is very poignant. It's the look... the look on the Once-ler's face when he's knocked out of his comfort zone and shown just what his "glorious" Thneed company has created.
- The ending scene where The Lorax returns and the Once-ler hugs him.