How many times have we seen this happen? We get a main character we love, or a supporting character we love, and at the end of the film it appears they have made the supreme sacrifice and died. The characters are crying, we are on the verge of ears..and suddenly they wake up and all is well with the world. Sure this cliche is not specific to Disney, but man did they know how to do it right! It seems we always fall for it, and years later when you watched these scenes it still put a lump in your throat. Not to say Disney can’t actually kill off characters. Bambi’s mother traumatized a generation and Mufasa’s death traumatized the next one, Kerchak really died in Tarzan (which I liked!!…the movie I mean not the death) and I still donâ€™t know why they killed the bug in Princess and the Frog.
But usually it’s a fake out, all for one last moment of drama. Here are my favorite Disney character death fake outs. The Only rule is these moments have to be from a movie I actually saw
#5. The Jungle Book
I hated The Jungle Book, it was one big bore. But I will give it credit for one thing. The scene where Baloo is apparently killed was very sad; it may be the one thing I took away from this movie. Baloo was the best character in the film, it’s no surprise they gave him his own cartoon show (did anyone see Tale Spin growing up? Show of hands?). Â The scenario is that after a battle with Shere Khan, Baloo is injured. Long story short, Mowgli manages to get rid of the Tiger and all is good. Except that Baloo is not moving. Then the scene which follow is basically Mowgli trying to get Baloo to wake up, and is so freaking sad! Two seconds later he wakes up and is perfectly fine. Yeah, I seem to remember this being a worst scene than it is because watching it again it doesnâ€™t seem half as sad. I almost took It off the list, but since it is made clear, briefly, that everyone believes he was killed I will leave it here. This is a good example of something which seemed so sad as a child not having the same affect when youâ€™re an adult.
Have I ever talked about how much I hate this movie? Well, hate is to strong but it is so dark and even scary (the scene where the boys turned in donkeyâ€™s traumatized me). After all the crap we get thrown at us, we get the whale climax. The scene with the whale is an impressive scene, and what do we get when it ends? Pinocchio face down in the water. Sad enough? No? Okay letâ€™s show Geppetto crying over Pinocchioâ€™s lifeless body. We see Figaro and Jiminy also in tears. This is the saddest ending ever! Then, the blue fairy appears. She must be a sadist like the good witch in Wizard of Oz who didnâ€™t tell Dorothy she could go home by clicking her heals right away. I mean, what took her so long? Why didnâ€™t she show up before Geppetto had to carry his sonâ€™s lifeless body home? Anyway, she makes Pinocchio not only live again, but grants his wish to be a real boy (and the line where Geppetto tells Pinocchio why he is crying is actually a funny bit). Everyone is happy and all is right with the world. Man, was that sad though.
#3. Beauty and the Beast
Some fifty years later, this little clichÃ© is alive and well. We all know the drill; Beast and Gaston are fighting on the castle. Like an idiot, Beast saves Gaston who thanks him by shoving a knife in his back. Too bad he didnâ€™t watch where he was standing because he loses his grip on the wall. I love how Belle grabs Beast to make sure he doesnâ€™t fall but doesnâ€™t even blink as Gaston falls into the gorge below. Guess I canâ€™t blame her, but you think she would have expressed some shock. Anyway, then we get the beautiful moment where he tells Belle he loves her and is happy he got to see her one last time, before apparently dying. The rose wilts, and thatâ€™s it. Right? Well no, because the conditions for breaking the curse were fulfilled so not only is the Beast returned to his normal form, but to life as well. Suddenly all the characters are people and the castle is beautiful and fixed. That was some curse the castle was under! All kidding aside this movie has always been one of my favorites, and I can even forgive the ending for being a little hokey.
#2. Lilo & Stitch:Stitch Has a Glitch
This was a direct to video release so may not be as popular as the other examples. But Stitch is one of my favorite characters and this scene was done well. What is not done well is the resolution, but weâ€™ll get to that in a second. Basically in this movie Stitch begins malfunctioning (due to a glitch) and it turns out if they donâ€™t do something about it then Stitch will become evil again, and then die. The movie is kind of weak, it feels like another episode of the series (what do you expect from a direct to dvd release), as it takes Lilo forever for figure out what is going on. By the time they get Stitch to the chamber which will cure him, they find it is too late. Stitch is gone, and everyone is in tears. They all loved him and will miss him. Now if youâ€™re into Disney clichÃ©â€™s, you can guess how he gets cured. It wasnâ€™t magic, so whatâ€˜s the other option? Love! How did you guess that? Yep the power of love not only brings him to life but cures him of the ailment he had been suffering from. Corny, yes, but the scene where he dies was very good and would have worked fine if they hadnâ€™t gone to the lame â€œpower of loveâ€ stuff. Stitch was a favorite character of mine; I loved the first movie and enjoyed the TV series. Maybe thatâ€™s why I cared a little more, this wasnâ€™t a character I hardly knew this was one I had spent lots of time with and really liked.
#1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
I mean this character is so dead we get a funeral for her! It’s amazing how sad this is! This is the first Walt Disney feature length film, so I guess itâ€™s not fair to say this was a clichÃ© when it came out in 1939. I commented before on how the scene where Snow White is tricked into eating the poisoned apple is one of my favorite villain moments ever. It is soon followed by the seven dwarfs chasing the witch when a random bolt of lightning send her right into a gorge where she is killed. Worst death ever. Anyway, even though the witch is gone it looks like it was all for nothing. We see the dwarfs crying over Snow White as she lies in their bed, and then we get the scene with the glass coffin. They are crying and putting down flowersâ€¦..this is a kidâ€™s movie right??? Then the bland prince appears, and gives her a kiss which wakes up her. The music plays, and everyone is happy because Snow White is alive and going to live happily after ever with the man she has never spoken to! Man this movie is dated. The ending always felt rushed and I always hated how Snow White never had any more real dialogue, sure we see her say goodbye which is nice but it would have been nice if she had said something else, like, maybe asking the prince what his name is. Well, this was done a long time ago so I guess I can forgive them but this death fake out is still one of Disneyâ€™s saddest moments, and set a standard which has been copied and copied over and over.
Honorable mentions include Lady and the Tramp which is often cited, but as sad a moment as it is when Trusty is hit it is never clear what happened, and then we see him in the next scene with a broken leg. If we was alive, than were these dogs just big on drama or something? Hunchback of Notre Dame is a great example when we think Esmeralda has been killed, but I never saw the movie so I can’t say it made an impact on me. Finally, Pixar is not immune to this as we get scene likes this in Toy Story, Monsterâ€™s Inc, and even Finding Nemo when Marlin believes Nemo has been killed.
Sure I missed a few, so please let me know if I missed your favorite. Before I go I have to steal a joke from the Nostalgia Critic regarding all these death scenes which are â€œyou know, for kids!â€