Movie deaths are always meant to be emotional. Most of the time, deaths in a film provide conflict for the actual characters in the movie or a shock ending to blow the audiences away. Every now and again, a death is meant to make us, the viewer cry. I am not much of a crier, but I must admit some of these movie deaths below had my throat somewhat itchy and raw. If you feel that I have missed out a big death – and I am sure I have, because my brain is still racking itself to come up with some more – let me know in the comments below.


OK, I am keeping this one vague, because everyone seems to have a different idea of who claims the saddest Disney death. I have a feeling it depends on which one you watched first, rather than how well the scene was portrayed. It is also somewhat surprising how many children’s films contain this idea of death – the death of a parent figure, no less. Looking back, I think Disney taught me about this idea of death, rather than anyone else, so maybe these choice scenes are more ritualistic than simply entertaining.

Worst CPR ever!

Worst CPR ever!

The most common one that crops up is the Lion King, with Simba’s father dying. The emotion running through that scene, where Simba tries to wake his dead father: it is enough to make a grown man cry, let alone a child. However, Bambi’s mother is a close second, when it comes to the saddest Disney death. For myself, I have a bit of a left-field choice. Little Foot’s mother in ‘The Land Before Time’. I don’t know why this got to me more than the others – in fact, it is pretty much the same scene in Lion King, just with dinosaurs, rather than lions. I just saw this one first, so it stuck with me more than the Lion King did. It is just that idea of the child figure, not truly understanding the concept of death that makes these scenes so heart-breaking.


Was it just me or did Peter Jackson draw out King Kong’s death so freaking long? We felt every bullet, every grunt of pain in that poor Gorilla’s screams. It was the most drawn-out, heart-breaking monkey death in cinematic history. Not that I can think of many monkey deaths in cinematic history, but it is something, right?

I am choosing the remake for a couple of reasons. One, as I have said, Peter Jackson pulled every last strand of emotion out of the death. Two, when I am watching the old version, part of me can’t get over the terrible animation. I know it’s part of the era, but I just can’t feel sad for a plastic figurine on a model skyscraper. And finally, when watching the reboot, we all know the story. From the moment we sit in the cinema, we know that Kong is going to end up dead. We spend the scenes on the island, pushing it out of our minds, enjoying the movie for the simpler reasons. But when the city battle begins, we know that Kong isn’t going to make it, and I found that hard to take. In fairness, there was only one way a monkey vs. the military was going to pan out anyway, but it doesn’t stop it from getting any tougher to watch.


OK, with the other examples, I could be forgiven for crying. With the first, I was a child and with King Kong, it was a respectful tear. However, with Marley and Me, I was an eighteen year old man, sobbing his eyes out. I am talking streams of tears and a box of tissues. And you know what, as anyone that has seen this movie will know, that is nothing to be ashamed about.

Marley's stunt double is the one you should really feel sorry for.

Marley’s stunt double is the one you should really feel sorry for.

Marley and Me is a simple film. It is about a couple’s love story, but it focuses on the way their lives revolve around the family pet, a Labrador called Marley. Of course, the film ends when the couple have to put the dog down, due to old age. Nothing fancy. And that is what gets me and everyone else. It is such a damn relatable story. Almost everyone has been in the position, where the childhood pet needs to be put to sleep. And that is what makes this movie death, in my opinion, the most soul-crushing death in cinematic history.

Depending on who you are, this film gets you at different times. For some, it is after, when Owen Wilson realises that he has to live without Marley. For others, it is when they are in the vet’s and the needle is going in. For me, it was when the dog began to get old and struggle up the hill. Because that is when you know, that it is nearly time. And that fucking broke my heart right there and then. I had a dog at that time, that was in its final year of life (a Labrador as well), and it was just so easy to relate to this film that it got me.

Also, does anyone think it is weird that all of the deaths I have listed are animals and not humans? We really don’t give two shits about each other, do we?

4 thoughts on “3 Soul-Crushing Movie Deaths

  1. I recall watching the 1930s Kong as a kid, maybe about five or six. I just didn’t understand why the hero of the film (as far as I’m concerned, Kong was undoubtedly the hero) had apparently died. When the credits rolled and it was confirmed he really was dead and wasn’t going to get back up, get the girl and get back to Skull Island I cried and cried and cried.

    And twenty five odd years later it happened all over again while watching the Peter Jackson version…

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