Top 10 Cartoon Deaths in Film

Script written by Alex Crilly-McKean. It’s time for animated heads to roll. For this list, we’re taking a look at the most memorable or iconic deaths in movies, whether it’s cartoon, CGI or another type of animation. And resurrections count. If you didn’t see a death you thought should be on this list, be sure to check out our Top 10 Saddest Cartoon Movie Moments. Warning: this list contains major spoilers, and the final moments of heroes and villains alike. Special thanks to Moses Delira, cmoehrle, James Dylan Bassil and Kate Laing for submitting the idea on our Suggest Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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It’s time for animated heads to roll. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 cartoon deaths.

For this list, we’re taking a look at the most memorable or iconic deaths in movies, whether it’s cartoon, CGI or another type of animation. And resurrections count. If you didn’t see a death you thought should be on this list, be sure to check out our Top 10 Saddest Cartoon Movie Moments. Warning: this list contains major spoilers, and the final moments of heroes and villains alike.

#10: Coral
“Finding Nemo” (2003)

Animated mothers seem to have the worst luck. Pixar’s award-winning undersea adventure opens with both joy and terror as Nemo’s mother risks everything to save the life of her newborns from a hungry barracuda. While her deathwas quick and the sacrifice she made only saved one of her children, there’s no question this was a helluva tearful way to open the flick.

#9: Ursula
“The Little Mermaid” (1989)

While you almost always want the bad guy to get their comeuppance, this is probably the closest to overkill we’ve ever seen in a Disney film. After stealing Triton’s trident and growing to an enormous size, Ursula ends up meeting her match when a very gutsy Eric impales her on the bowsprit of a ship. We’ve heard of death at sea but this is ridiculous. And yet, it works.

#8: Charlotte
“Charlotte’s Web” (1973)

Most of us wouldn’t shed a tear if a spider died; in fact, some of you would probably feel relieved. Well, even arachnophobia wasn’t enough to stop kids and adults alike from crying their eyes out when this little spider kicked the bucket. After Charlotte saves a piglet named Wilbur from certain death with her webbing, the cycle of life takes its toll: the talented multi-legged creature fades away after giving birth. Maybe next time you’ll think twice before squashing that arachnid you see.

#7: Clayton
“Tarzan” (1999)

When hunting, you should really be careful what kind of target you’re dealing with. Classy huntsman Clayton played the odds and lost when he took on man-ape Tarzan on his home turf. After losing his firearm and getting strung up by vines, he makes the foolish decision of trying to cut himself loose. Bad idea, Clayton; the law of the jungle always wins out.

#6: Buddy Pine / Syndrome
“The Incredibles” (2004)

Sometimes a single piece of clothing can mean the difference between life and death. This Pixar villain learned this the hard way when he tried to escape via plane. Two things, Syndrome: 1) Never threaten a member of a superhero family, and 2) Be very aware of jet engines. Sounds like Edna was right, after all: “no capes!”

#5: The Iron Giant
“The Iron Giant” (1999)

This just goes to show that you don’t have to be human to make a heroic sacrifice. Sent to Earth as a tool of mass destruction, this Vin Diesel-voiced machine learns what it means to care for others and even overcomes his original programming. When a rogue missile threatens to kill an entire town, the Iron Giant gives up his life for his friend and chooses to die a hero’s death.

#4: Optimus Prime
“The Transformers: The Movie” (1986)

He may’ve been the leader of the Autobots, but he gave up his life for the freedom of all races. Needless to say, we were all shocked when Optimus bit the dust. A fatal confrontation against the Decepticons’ Megatron leads to hisdeath relatively early on in the film and sets the bleak tone for what follows. But at least he went out with one heck of a speech. R.I.P. big guy.

#3: Bambi’s Mother
“Bambi” (1942)

There are probably very few people who haven’t been scarred from this moment. You would have thought a movie about a cute little deer growing up in the woods would be cheery and all fun and games. But, nope. In this Disney classic, we get treated to one of the most famous animated deaths in cinema after Bambi and his mother try to escape a hunter, only for her to be gunned down and never seen again. It may’ve happened over half a century ago, but we’re still reeling from it.

#2: Mufasa
“The Lion King” (1994)

No surprise here. In what many consider the quintessential Disney death, the King of Pride Rock is betrayed by his jealous younger bro and thrown right into a herd of stampeding wildebeest. It’s powerful, unexpected and certainly upsetting. How can you not get a little teary eyed when Simba tries unsuccessfully to wake his deceased father?! …Ah damn it, pass the tissues!

Before we reveal our number one death, here are a few gloomy honorable mentions:
- Gaston
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)
- Shan Yu
“Mulan” (1998)
- The Watership Down Rabbits
“Watership Down” (1978)
- Ray
“The Princess and the Frog” (2009)
- Judge Claude Frollo
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)

#1: Ellie Fredricksen
“Up” (2009)

It’s in no way the flashiest or most tragic death, but this makes our number one because it has something that the others lack. After watching Carl and Ellie grow up together and fall in love, we find out that Ellie dies as an elderly woman after living a full and happy life. It’s a peaceful passing away but it’s also natural. And while it’s sad to see her go, especially as it leaves her husband Carl completely heartbroken, this is the big screen’s most realistic animated death and hits closer to home than any other.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite cartoon death of all time? With entertaining top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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