Top 10 Saddest Kids Movie Endings

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Top 10 Saddest Kids Movie Endings

VOICE OVER: Samantha Clinch WRITTEN BY: Beau Kimpton
We're still crying over the saddest kids movies endings. Our countdown includes "All Dogs Got to Heaven," "Old Yeller," "Toy Story 3," and more!
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Top 10 Saddest Kids Movies Endings


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Saddest Kids Movies Endings.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most heartbreaking conclusions in child-friendly films. Although we are counting bittersweet endings, we won’t be including movies where a sad event is completely reversed in the final act.

Which of these finales pulled at your heartstrings? Let us know in the comments below!

#10: Jack Returns to the Afterlife
“Jack Frost” (1998)


This holiday flick stars Michael Keaton as a family patriarch who loses his life in a Christmas day car crash and is reborn as a snowman. After seeing Jack get a new lease on life and reconnect with his son Charlie in this new form, the film’s conclusion becomes hard to swallow. Since Jack’s new form is dependent on the winter, the warmer weather spells the end for his resurrection. He’s able to leave them with some touching words before his spirit drifts away in a flurry of snow. Although the movie’s final shots show a happy life for the loved ones Jack left behind, it’s not easy to see Charlie lose his father twice in one movie.

#9: Charlie Visits Anne-Marie
“All Dogs Go to Heaven” (1989)


Although we knew this animated film would deal with death, it wasn’t any less sad to watch. Charlie B. Barkin is a German shepherd and casino magnate in 1939 New Orleans who is slain by his business partner Carface. The unlucky dog snubs heaven for a shot at revenge. However, he soon becomes responsible for his enemy’s hostage — an orphan who can communicate with animals. After he sacrifices himself to save Anne-Marie, Charlie earns back his spot in paradise and pays his friend a final visit in ghost form. It’s never easy seeing dogs pass on, but it’s a particularly emotional goodbye after seeing Charlie grow over the course of the film.

#8: E.T. and Elliott’s Final Embrace
“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982)


This beloved sci-fi film chronicles the close bond between an alien stranded in California and a 10-year-old boy. Although Elliott goes to great lengths to keep his new friend hidden, there was no question that E.T.’s time on Earth was limited. In their short time together, they form an intense telepathic connection and desperately try to keep each other safe. Their unbreakable bond made it tough to watch the partners in crime separate at the film’s climax. After making a mad dash to E.T.’s getaway shuttle, it’s clear that neither of them wants to part ways. E.T.’s touching iconic final line is still a tearjerker for viewers of all ages.

#7: Skip’s Death
“My Dog Skip” (2000)


This adaptation of Willie Morris’s memoir depicts the writer’s childhood relationship with a Jack Russell Terrier named Skip. Although the canine becomes a beloved presence in Willie’s town, he still endures his fair share of hardships. But Skip perseveres and never stops caring for his owner. In the movie’s final moments, Skip watches his best friend leave for university and relaxes at home, his old age apparent. The moment where an adult Willie recalls hearing of his pet’s passing is an absolutely devastating moment. The film’s final line is truly moving. It captures the special bond that can exist — and endure — between animals and their human companions.

#6: Charlotte’s Death
“Charlotte’s Web” (1973)


While the ending of the 2006 live-action version of “Charlotte’s Web” is emotional enough, the animated movie ends on an even more bittersweet note. In both films, the titular barn spider spins public-facing messages to save the pig Wilbur from slaughter. Her plan thankfully succeeds to save her friend. But since her eggs were already laid, her life cycle comes to an end. While three of her offspring remain at the barn with Wilbur, the narrator explains that no one could take Charlotte’s place. This children’s tale is a story of selflessness and true friendship. Knowing the beloved spider could never be forgotten makes for a heartbreaking conclusion.

#5: Tod and Copper’s Parting Glance
“The Fox and the Hound” (1981)


In this animated buddy drama, Tod and Copper are a fox and a puppy respectively who become best friends as residents of neighboring farms. Their relationship becomes strained after farmer Amos trains Copper to hunt foxes. At the film’s climax, Copper is stalking Tod in a game reserve. But the fox still saves his old friend from a bear attack. Copper repays the favor by protecting an injured Tod from Amos. Although the pair share one last smile, the duo still has to part ways. It’s tragic that they can’t remain in each other’s lives. For a tale about best friends, this movie ends on an awfully melancholy note.

#4: Old Yeller’s Death
“Old Yeller” (1957)


Whenever dogs pass away on screen, it’s never easy to accept. But “Old Yeller” manages to make this occurrence nearly unbearable to witness. The live-action Disney drama follows a family living in 1860s Kansas who adopt a troublemaking but loyal pooch. After helping the family get by on their farm, he falls victim to a rabid wolf. In a devastating turn of events, a member of the family is forced to put down the infected dog and it’s truly hard to watch. Travis’s sadness is palpable in the film’s final minutes as his father talks him through the difficult events. Although he gets one of Old Yeller’s pups as a new companion, we can’t forget the tragic reasons for this new arrival.

#3: Jesse Grieves Leslie
“Bridge to Terabithia” (2007)


This coming-of-age tale follows Jess and Leslie, two schoolmates and next-door-neighbors who imagine a vivid world in the forest beyond a nearby creek. Their friendship deepens as they explore their shared fantasy. Their adventures come to a terrible end when Jess discovers that Leslie has died while trying to reach their fantastical hideout. After getting this depressing news, the rest of the film is devoted to his grief and all the scary ways in which his feelings manifest. After Jess finally processes his loss, the film tries to inject some hope as he builds a bridge to his hideout and invites his sister to join him. But the realistic grief he experienced still casts a heavy shadow over this film’s ending.

#2: Andy Gives Away His Toys
“Toy Story 3” (2010)


The “Toy Story” franchise is a beloved animated film series that was present in many of our childhoods. After watching the toys bond with their owner Andy for two movies, he stops playing with them regularly. Thinking their college-bound owner intends to toss them, Andy’s toys hitch a ride to Sunnyside Daycare. After encountering terrible conditions and the twisted Lotso, the gang survives near-incineration and finds their way to a new owner named Bonnie. It’s a bittersweet occasion to watch Andy introduce all his old friends to their new caretaker. He even delivers a special tribute to Woody. But the truly heart-wrenching moment comes when the toys watch Andy drive away. The movie’s jolly epilogue still doesn’t make their goodbye any less difficult to watch.

#1: Vada's Poem for Thomas J.
“My Girl” (1991)


This coming-of-age comedy-drama focuses on the friendship between Thomas J. and Vada, a girl haunted by her mother’s passing during childbirth. She grows up as a hypochondriac and befriends a boy named Thomas J. The two become closer and even share a tender kiss. Unfortunately, after Thomas J. disturbs a bee hive while looking for a lost ring, he is stung. Since he’s allergic to bees, he doesn’t survive. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch Vada lose her friend and attend his funeral. The film ends with the girl reciting an elegy at her adult poetry class, reflecting her acceptance of life’s complexities. This touching tribute is downright devastating to witness every single time.
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