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Top 10 Bravest Moments in Disney Movies

VO: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Garrett Alden
There’s nothing two-dimensional about their bravery. For this countdown we’re taking a look at the Top 10 Bravest Moments in Disney Movies! For this list, we’ll be going over the most courageous actions and scenes undertaken by characters in animated Disney and Pixar films. We’ve included moments like when Copper saves Tod, when Nemo saves Fish & Marlin from Finding Nemo, when Quasimodo saves Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and more!

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Top 10 Bravest Moments in Disney Movies

There’s nothing two-dimensional about their bravery. Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Bravest Moments in Disney Movies.

For this list, we’ll be going over the most courageous actions and scenes undertaken by characters in animated Disney and Pixar films.

#10: Copper Saves Tod
“The Fox and the Hound” (1981)

The titular fox and hound, Tod and Copper are the best of friends when they’re younger. However, the role expected of Copper in hunting drives a wedge between them as they grow older. While on a foxhunt with his owner, Slade, Copper and his human are attacked by a bear, prompting Copper and then Tod to fight off the large carnivore. While this in itself is quite brave, when Slade tries to shoot Tod after the dangerous episode, Copper stands in front of his master’s gun, unwilling to see his old friend be killed.

#9: Nemo Saves Fish & Marlin Lets Go
“Finding Nemo” (2003)

Single, over-protective Marlin is a fish who spends most of the film trying to find his missing son Nemo. Both go on pretty exciting adventures on their own and when they’re reunited, the moment is nearly ruined when Marlin’s friend Dory is captured, along with a lot of other fish, in a net. Determined to save them, Nemo asks his father to let him slip inside the net to instruct the fish on how to save themselves, which Marlin wrestles with, since he’s only just gotten his son back, but eventually lets him go. Together, they’re able to free all the fish by being brave and learning from their experiences.

#8: Eugene Cuts Rapunzel's Hair
“Tangled” (2010)

Out of context, this doesn’t sound all that brave, but it definitely is. Eugene and Rapunzel bond during several adventures after he brings her out of the tower where she’s been kept for years by Gothel, who raised her only to use the magical properties of her hair to keep herself young. Upon confronting Gothel, the villainess stabs Eugene, forcing Rapunzel to choose between saving him and staying with her, or letting him die. Rather than see Rapunzel continue her captivity and knowing he will die, Eugene instead cuts Rapunzel’s hair, removing its powers and turning Gothel to dust. While he is saved, his sacrifice is still heroic.

#7: Belle Takes Her Father’s Place
“Beauty and the Beast” (1991)

There are many kinds of bravery. While it was tempting to put something like Beast’s fight against a whole pack of wolves on here, we’re going with a quieter kind of courage. After her father, Maurice, is imprisoned by the Beast in his castle, Belle goes looking for him. When she finds him in the dungeons, and Beast finds her trying to free him, she offers to take Maurice’s place as Beast’s prisoner. The fact that Belle, who so values her freedom, is willing to give it up only shows how much she loves her father and demonstrates excellent nerve on her part.

#6: Quasimodo Rescues Esmeralda
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)

Given his appearance and upbringing under the tyrannical Frollo, Quasimodo is not especially brimming with confidence. However, his friendship with Esmeralda helps bring him out of his shell and while he’s heartbroken about her love for Phoebus, he nevertheless is intent on saving her when Frollo intends to burn her at the stake. Breaking free of his literal chains, in a fantastic feat of strength, Quasimodo swings down from Notre Dame and rescues Esmeralda from Frollo and his angry mob; going against his pseudo-father figure and standing up to the kind of mob that he was afraid to fight earlier in the film.

#5: Pocahontas Saves John Smith Right on Time
“Pocahontas” (1995)

The Native American “princess” who gives the film its name and the Jamestown settler John Smith each fall for one another as they come to learn about each other and their respective cultures. However, their family and friends are far less open-minded. Their hatred escalates to the point where Pocahontas’ father, Chief Powhatan, is ready to execute Smith. Yet, at the last minute, Pocahontas throws herself on top of Smith’s body, stopping her father from killing Smith and convincing the chief to end the conflict. Standing up to one’s parents always takes courage, but risking death to do so is on whole ‘nother level.

#4: Hercules Saves Megara from Hades' Pit
“Hercules” (1997)

This film’s eponymous demigod performs plenty of heroic deeds throughout its story, though not always for altruistic reasons. Herc’s most truly selfless heroism occurs when, after defeating Hades’ attempt to take over Olympus, he follows that up by attempting to rescue his friend and love interest Megara, who died saving his life. In order to save her from torment among the souls trapped in the River Styx, Hercules dives right in, willing to give his life and soul to save hers. Although he makes it out because his selflessness restores Hercules’ godhood, it’s no less brave because it turned out well for him.

#3: Mufasa Braves a Stampede to Rescue Simba
“The Lion King” (1994)

The wise father of the lion cub Simba, Mufasa tries to guide his son as best he can in how to be a good king. But Mufasa’s brother Scar covets the throne and lures Simba into a valley while directing his allies to cause a stampede. Upon being told that Simba’s life is in danger, Mufasa throws himself among the runaway wildebeests, threading his way through them to save his son. Despite the danger involved, Mufasa is able to get Simba away without a scratch to either on either of them, illustrating that he’s skilled and brave, as well as wise, even if he didn’t account for Scar’s treachery.

#2: Moana Confronts Te Kā
“Moana” (2016)

Moana proves her bravery many times in her adventures, from defying her parents and leaving to save her land and the ocean, to her returning to confront the fiery Te Kā to restore the heart of the nature spirit Te Fiti. It’s during the latter event that Moana realizes that Te Kā and Te Fiti are one and the same and approaches Te Kā to restore her heart, despite the possibility of her being wrong and Te Kā killing her. Granted, Moana guessed Te Kā’s identity correctly and it all works out, but we doubt we’d be quite as composed when walking up to an enormous volcanic giant of destruction.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Miguel Defies His Family to Play the Guitar for Coco
“Coco” (2017)

Gurgi Jumps into the Cauldron
“The Black Cauldron” (1985)

Ralph's Suicide Mission
“Wreck-It Ralph” (2012)

#1: Mulan Becomes a Soldier to Save Her Father
“Mulan” (1998)

Several of our previous entries have dealt with defying tradition or self-sacrifice, but this one combines both into one act. Mulan is anything but a typical girl in China and she rejects the roles that society imposes on her. When the army comes recruiting, her father, who is old and sickly, is called on to sign up, which will surely kill him. In order to save his life, Mulan disguises herself as a boy and joins in his place. While this does allow her to prove her worth like she’s always wanted, war is still extremely dangerous, and Mulan is fighting to literally save someone she loves.

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