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Top 10 Greatest Pixar Movie Endings of All Time

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Ricky Manson
These are the greatest Pixar movie endings! For this list, we’re looking through Pixar's catalogue of feature length films, and focusing on endings with emotional resonance and thoughtful messages.We’ve included movies like the farewell from “Brave”, the family reunion from “Coco”, Nemo goes to school from “Finding Nemo”, when sparks fly from “WALL-E”, when Boo reunites with Sully from “Monster’s Inc”, and more!
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Top 10 Greatest Pixar Movie Endings Of All Time

For over twenty years, Pixar has been making us cheer and cry, from start to finish. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Greatest Pixar Movie Endings of All Time.

For this list, we’re looking through Pixar's catalogue of feature length films, and focusing on endings with emotional resonance and thoughtful messages. A spoiler alert is sure in effect.

#10: A Farewell
“Brave” (2012)

Swallowing her pride, Merida is able to lift the curse, changing her mother and brothers back from bears to humans, learning the value of family in the process. As the rest of the clans return home, the film closes with Merida and Elinor riding off on horses, having made peace with each other at last. It’s a healthy learning curve for the free-spirited Merida, who had to deal with more than just the repercussions of a daughter’s natural desire to defy her mother. With this ending, themes of fate and destiny come to a head, highlighting the notion that you can choose your own path . . . should you be brave enough.

#9: Family Reunion
“Coco” (2017)

His adventure over, Miguel returns from the afterlife determined to ensure his grandmother Coco remembers her father Hector, so that he may reunite with the Rivera family on the next Day of the Dead. Despite his family’s disapproval of music, Miguel plays "Remember Me" for Coco, a song Hector would play for her in her youth. It does the trick, and the following year Miguel plays for his relatives, both living and dead, including Hector, all of whom are proud of him. The ending dots the i’s and crosses the t’s on a film that celebrates Mexican traditions, and delivers a strong message about the bonds of family across time, in life and death.

#8: Nemo Goes To School
“Finding Nemo” (2003)

It would have been unforgivable if Nemo was never reunited with his dad; fortunately Pixar spilled all of that drama upfront at the beginning. Following their reunion, the movie ends as it began; with Marlon seeing Nemo off to school. Only now he is not as overprotective as he was, having learned, like all parents, that children must be allowed the freedom to live their lives. Dory joins Marlon in saying goodbye, having selflessly helped him find his family; a favor Marlon returns in the sequel. The pride in Marlon’s eyes in those final seconds is enough to bring on an ocean of happy tears.

#7: Lightning Learns Humility
“Cars” (2006)

Self-centered Lightning McQueen concerns himself only with winning, preparing himself for a championship race for most of the film. Victory is within grasp, until one of the racers crashes violently, and we see just how much Lightning has learned from his experiences in Radiator Springs, as he gives up first AND second place to ensure the wrecked racer crosses the finish line. It’s a touching moment that demonstrates how true victory is achieved by putting others before yourself, embracing dignity and offering respect. Lightning is hailed by the crowd regardless and offered the coveted Dinoco sponsorship, which he humbly turns down in favour of his rusty but loyal friends. Aw shucks.

#6: Sparks Fly
“WALL-E” (2008)

The things we do for love! Upon their return to Earth, EVE works frantically to fix the broken WALL-E. She succeeds, but is seemingly unable to wake him from his default settings, and it seems his old self is lost forever. But with a spark-charged “kiss” he reanimates, allowing a heartfelt reunion between the two robot leads. After chasing her across space, WALL-E finally gets the girl. The movie champions undying love and resilience, and ends with the humans teaching future generations the importance of plant life, and the credits roll over beautiful art depicting their work toward an eco-friendly future.

#5: Ego’s Review
“Ratatouille” (2007)

Though not a tearjerker ending, Remy the rat’s dish is enough to blow Ego’s mind, and his reveal as the chef behind it brings into question everything Ego knows about food criticism. Despite it costing his credibility, Ego subsequently declares Remy the finest chef in France and helps the rat open his own successful bistro. Several ingredients come together to make this ending a sweet one: With Ego’s flashback to his childhood, the film-makers perfectly capture how vivid memories can be recalled from something as simple as a taste. And Ego’s review brilliantly punctuates the movie’s moral regarding humble beginnings, challenging expectations, and being open to different approaches to creativity.

#4: Sadness Saves Riley
“Inside Out” (2015)

Leave it to the LITERAL personification of emotions to make you feel feelings! Having tried the entire movie to keep Riley cheerful in the wake of a life-altering move to San Francisco, Joy finally understands that sadness is needed to spark empathy in her parents. Joy permits Sadness control over Riley, breaking though her suppressed frustrations with a tearful breakdown to her parents. The emotional release is enough to bring Riley’s emotions back in check, and she is able, with her parents, to adjust to her new lifestyle accordingly. A poignant ending, but also a necessary lesson to adults and children alike that expressing sadness is vital for a healthy and happy life.

#3: Boo Reunites With Sulley
“Monsters, Inc.” (2001)

It broke our hearts when Sulley had to say goodbye forever to Boo, especially after the bond they shared throughout the movie. Fortunately, it wasn’t forever. Months later, Mike surprises Sulley with the reveal that he has reconstructed Boo’s shredded door, allowing Sulley his reunion with her. The long work Wazowski puts into this gesture for his pal is every shade of generous, especially considering Mike didn’t share Sulley’s soft spot for the child. The final shot sees Sulley anxiously enter Boo’s room, and smiling widely as Boo calls out to her “kitty”. Followed up with a simple fade to black, the writers leave it to us to picture the happy reunion, and weep accordingly.

#2: The Ellie Badge
“Up” (2009)

After an opening that can only be described as soul-crushing, it was difficult to picture how the end of Carl Frederickson’s adventure would match it, emotionally, but this ending will warm any cold heart. Carl’s loyal boy-scout companion Russell went beyond the distance to get his “Assisting-the-elderly” badge, but it’s Carl’s improvised “Ellie Badge”, calling back to his late wife’s love of adventure, that proves the greater reward. With this small gesture, Carl invites Russell into his life in a way he probably hadn’t done since Ellie’s passing; and their friendship is affirmed. The film ties it up neatly, with a final shot of the Fredrickson house resting at Paradise Falls . . . where it belongs.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honourable mentions:
Ant Island Thrives
“A Bug’s Life” (1998)


The Underminer
“The Incredibles” (2004)

Arlo & Spot Part Ways
“The Good Dinosaur” (2015)

#1: So Long, Partner
“Toy Story 3” (2010)


Could it have been anything else? After tackling themes of abandonment, growth and mortality, the third chapter in the “Toy Story” saga ends with Andy leaving for college and bequeathing his beloved playthings to young Bonnie, playing with them one final time before driving away into the horizon. Woody’s final words to his departed owner are the very definition of bittersweet, as it sinks in that a fifteen-year chapter in these characters’ lives is closing, while another one might just be opening. This scene takes on special meaning considering much of the film’s viewership was made up of children who saw the first “Toy Story,” and became, like Andy, all grown up.


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