What we want to watch is mostly a matter of mood. Sometimes, we want to be on the edge of our seats in suspense or laugh until we cry. But other times, we just want to cry. That’s when a sad movie really feels right.
From the feel-good movies that forever move us to the subtly tragic tear jerkers that will catch you off guard, here are the saddest movies to stream on Disney Plus right now.
The Lion King
Sure, The Lion King is full of fun characters, endless adventure, upbeat songs, and incredibly uplifting moments. But it’s also hella sad in unforgettable ways. In fact, Simba’s hardest-learned lessons are also the most heartbreaking.
No matter how old you are, Disney’s surprising directness when it comes to tragedy will likely get to you again and again. Will we ever get over that fateful day Mufasa got trampled while his only son helplessly watched? I highly doubt it.
Saving Mr. Banks
This Academy Award-winning film was inspired by the true story behind the making of 1964’s Mary Poppins. It follows Walt Disney during his long journey to get the screen rights to P. L. Travers’s novels, but the toughest moments are the most personal.
Audiences are given a glimpse into the acclaimed author’s complex and troubled childhood through a series of flashbacks. The silver lining, of course, was that these harrowing moments inspired much of her work. And what do we get when we combine the magic of Disney with true stories of perseverance? Tears for days.
History buffs already know the tragic story of Alexander Hamilton and his rival Aaron Burr. Regardless, that doesn’t make it any less upsetting to see those events play out in Hamilton.
If you haven’t streamed this musical biography yet, you definitely should whether you feel like crying or not. If nothing else, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s moving music will pull an unexpected emotion or two out of you.
Often considered the weepiest of all Avenger installments, we’re dropped in the middle of things following the final events of Infinity War, and we’re in notably bleak times.
The Avengers left standing team up to reverse what is essentially the end of days. If you haven’t seen it yet, word to the wise: brace yourself for the ending. It’s a punch to the gut.
Anna Sewell’s 1877 classic children’s novel continues to find its way to the screen throughout the years, in large part thanks to its bittersweetness. As the OG story goes, a spirited teenage girl forms a beautiful bond with a wild horse.
An inspiring tale of resilience, we watch them struggle through life’s ups and downs, cope with abuse, and endure a painful separation. This version of the book also boasts intensely sad scenes throughout.
Big Hero 6
Baymax is one of the most lovable, huggable robots Disney has ever dreamed up. And you know the rule: the more likable the robot, the more heartbreaking events in store for the audience.
Without giving too much away, an unspeakable tragedy takes place pretty early on in the plot. But don’t worry. While there’s plenty of sad stuff happening, Big Hero 6 also offers many reasons to shed happy tears.
Queen of Katwe
Adapted from Tim Crothers’s book of the same name, the biographical flick follows 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) living with her family in Katwe in Kampala, Uganda. Under the wing of Robert Katende (David Oyelowo), she falls in love with chess and becomes quite skilled.
Chess provides Phiona with a rare opportunity to escape poverty. Leaving behind family and feelings of hopelessness, she starts competing in national tournaments and makes a name for herself. But make no mistake about it, this inspirational story is loaded with heartbreak and hardship along the way.
Inside Out is one of those special Pixar comedies that is unexpectedly sad in its most honest moments. It explores the inner workings of the mind and consistently pulls on the heartstrings.
The plot unfolds inside the mind of a girl named Riley (Kaitlyn Dias). We meet her personified emotions: Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling). As Riley faces life’s difficulties, we watch how her emotions shape and guide her, for better or worse.
Nothing put me in touch with my six-year-old despair quite like what transpired in Bambi. While this award-winning movie might be made for children, it is by far one of the saddest Disney movies ever released. People of all ages agree, decade after decade.
A young fawn destined to become Prince of the Forest has his life turned upside down when his mother is killed by a hunter. Feeling alone and afraid, he looks to others in the forest for friendship and answers. But as he grows up, Bambi continues to learn how beauty and tragedy sometimes go hand in hand throughout life.
Ask anyone who watched Old Yeller when it first came out, and they’ll admit to still getting choked up to this day. There’s just something about animal tragedy movies that hit us right where it hurts.
Based on Fred Gipson’s novel of the same name, Old Yeller tells the story of a young boy who forms an unbreakable bond with a stray dog. But when his new best friend contracts rabies, he has to make the most difficult decision of his life.
Toy Story Franchise
Pixar is at it again! This is one of those movie franchises that seems fun and fancy-free at first. It’s all so colorful. Inspiring, even. But once you make it to the grand finale, good luck not crying. I suggest at least one box of tissues, maybe two if you’re binging all three.
The toys love their humans and the humans love their toys. In turn, there’s a lot of unrequited love, lost love, broken hearts, broken toys, and moving on throughout. Here are the 10 saddest scenes from the whole franchise, compliments of ScreenRant.
There’s no telling how many people would come for me if I didn’t add Coco to the list. For those who’ve seen it and cried, you know why. For those that haven’t, the film is about a 12-year-old boy named Miguel who gets transported to the Land of the Dead, where he attempts to reverse his family’s strict music ban.
Touching and relatable, Coco explores how complicated and painful family history can be, generation after generation. On an existential note, it’s about the healing power of music. Not to mention, the cinematography is worth the tearjerking ride on its own.
Old Yeller, Homeward Bound, Marley and Me… I feel like dog movies (especially underdog movies) were specifically designed for a good cry. This one’s no exception to that cinematic rule. Underrated and incredibly sad, Togo is a wonderful movie based on true events, and it brings the old-school Disney charm in heaps.
It is the remarkable tale of the 1925 champion dogsled trainer Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog, Togo. Boasting an audience score of 95% and a critics score of 92%, the Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus calls it, “an endearing and exciting underdog story that benefits greatly from its stars (canine and human alike), Togo is a timeless tale, well-told.”
The Fault in Our Stars
I’ll admit, I didn’t foresee myself crying in this one at first, especially after I learned the same producers behind Twilight made this film. But there I was, sobbing like a fool. Many say the best-selling book it’s based on had the same misty-eyed impact on them, with some teens calling it the first book to ever make them bawl.
This well-received romance drama tells the story of two teens who fall in love after meeting in their cancer support group. As one critic from Indie Wire puts it, this melodramatic movie is “unabashed in its efforts to make you well up, but the tears come from a real place.”
Poignant and painful, this Pixar adventure will take you on one heck of an emotional ride. But you’ll be better for it. Or rather, your heart will be cracked open by this engrossing story of childhood sweethearts, lifelong dreams, and untimely loss.
In this imaginative tale of bursting bubbles, what starts out as a quintessential “happily ever after” gradually becomes a much sadder story. Due to the candy-colored visuals, many moviegoers said they expected Up to be funnier and lighter, but the film isn’t lacking in laughs or uplifting aspects. It’s just that unexpectedly sad.
It’s all too easy to forget just how sad Dumbo really is. For a good chunk of the movie, the adorable baby elephant is shunned and laughed at for having oversized ears. His mother hides him away from the world for protection.
Overlooking his true gifts and beauty, he is made to believe the only place he’ll fit in is at the circus, where he’s basically a prisoner. Remember the sad and sweet moment little Dumbo’s mother rocks him from her cage? I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Bridge to Terabithia
According to those ranking sad flicks for The Top Tens, Bridge to Terabithia is not just one of the saddest movies on Disney Plus, it’s one that’s too often overlooked. The general consensus? “I cried my eyes out.”
This top-notch adaptation of a beloved children’s novel goes to dark and devastating places while ringing universally true to the experience of being a child. While it may be “for kids,” many movie-goers say they got even more choked up when they rewatched it in adulthood. So return if you dare.
The Fox and The Hound
What’s more heartwarming, yet heart-wrenching than another dog movie? A movie where a hound dog and a fox who are conditioned not to trust each other become best friends as children, drift apart as adults, and find their way back to each other somehow. Still, it’s not the happiest of BFF stories.
Sentimental and simple, The Fox and The Hound is mostly a story about the people and perspectives we lose, including childlike innocence and pure openness. It’s also Disney’s understated stab at discussing the lasting damage of prejudice.
Dubbed one of the best sad movies to stream on Disney Plus, Wall-E will move you like no cartoon robot movie has ever moved you before. The last robot on earth, he’s been collecting waste for a living for hundreds of years. And he’s “more than a little lonely.”
Robot, schmobot. This story is 100% human, especially when it comes to themes of longing and loneliness. “Ultimately, WALL-E is about nothing less than one of the tenets of human existence: the need to find a partner with whom to share life’s experiences,” per Film Frenzy.
Good luck finding anyone who made it through Bao without shedding at least one tear. It can’t be done, I tell ya! This Oscar-winning short film follows a middle-aged Chinese-Canadian mother struggling with empty nest syndrome who finds herself raising some new buns in the oven. And I do mean that literally.
When her deliciously adorable steamed bun (baozi) magically comes to life, she’s given another bittersweet shot at motherhood. As noted by Variety, this well-timed Pixar short is jam-packed with “well-earned emotional truths” for audiences throughout, but especially in its twists.
Some people have actually called Brother Bear the saddest Disney movie they’ve ever seen, often claiming they couldn’t stop the waterworks because the movie just didn’t allow it.
Truly, there’s no shortage of sad incidents in this one. And the music is particularly powerful. Remember “No way out”? Thanks for the ugly cry, Phil Collins.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame not only introduced us to arguably the most tragic hero in Disney history, but it gave us one tragedy after another until the credits rolled. If you go back and stream it as an adult, you’ll quickly find the whole plot’s even heavier than you remembered. And believe it or not, the 1831 novel of the same name is even sadder.
After Quasimodo’s mother was murdered, he almost drowned. He survived, only to be imprisoned and abused for most of his life. He has dreams of living among society, but upon trying to mingle with the masses, he’s publicly humiliated. There seems to be a sliver of hope when he befriends and falls in love with a gypsy named Esmerelda, only to be completely heartbroken.
Frank and Ollie
Through this documentary’s lens, take an unusually intimate look at two of the most talented animators in Disney history. Chances are, it’ll put you in touch with your own mortality. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston weren’t just long-time coworkers, they were next-door neighbors and close friends. Spanning their four-decades-long friendship and professional partnership, it’s like watching all the seasons of two people’s adult lives.
There’s the birth of inspiration when they meet at Stanford, the early determination in their careers, the mutual admiration, the obstacles, the Disney magic, and the inevitable impact of time. Nothing lasts forever, but those once-in-a-lifetime moments shared with people we hold closest are worth living for and reflecting on.
10 Things I Hate About You
Okay, so 10 Things I Hate About You is definitely not a sad movie, and it ends on a happy note. Heath Ledger’s character buys Julia Stiles’ character a guitar as a way to say sorry. He was “paid to take out this amazing girl,” but he screwed up and fell for her. Yes, they work it out just in time for “a happily ever after” moment. But for those who love this movie like I do, it took a lot of tears and heartache to get to that magical moment of relief.
Loosely adapted from The Taming of The Shrew, it’s a spunky modern twist on a Shakespearean tragedy, but a tragedy nonetheless. While everyone is dealing with their fair share of angst in this 90s teen classic, the central love story keeps us knee-deep in heartbreak for much of it. Let us not forget that even in their happiest moments, one big lie was ever-present, threatening something vividly real. The truth comes out and things abruptly fall apart. By the time a teary-eyed Kat (Stiles) reads her hate-love poem to the class (but mostly the one who broke her heart), we’re all suffering, but still in love with love.
This remake of the 1963 film The Incredible Journey is forever adored for the parts that make it inspiring just as much as the parts that make it so sad. It’s also heavily nostalgic for 90s kids.
A story about pets on a journey to find their way home, it’s one of those “hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, and then beg for the best again” kind of movies. Even though you know how this lovable adventure film goes, you’ll find yourself being struck by all the old familiar feels.
Lilo & Stitch
Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind. After a tragic family accident, Nani became her younger sister Lilo’s caretaker. In need of a friend, lonely Lilo adopts what she thinks is a strange dog and names him Stitch. But Stitch is no dog. Soon enough, everyone learns the destructive alien cannot be tamed, but he’s ohana now, so Lilo refuses to cut her new friend loose.
As the social worker keeps an eye on the struggling sisters, Nani almost loses custody of the one person she’s been working so hard to protect. After Lilo almost drowns, they sit together in a hammock and she tries to explain to her kid sis why this may be their last night together. In this story of family tragedy, loneliness, love, and outcasts, we are always rooting for brighter days, ironically, in Hawaii.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: nothing is sadder than the story of Edward Scissorhands, especially if you’re looking for a sniffle-inducing Christmas movie. In this gloomy, gothic fairy tale, Edward’s creator died before finishing his real hands–and he did so right in front of him. After years spent afraid and alone, an Avon lady stops by and winds up taking him home, integrating him into suburban society, and attempting to give him a better life. For a moment, he’s happy and hopeful. But only for a moment.
Excited for new things and in need of acceptance, sweet and unassuming Edward does whatever is asked or needed of him. Meanwhile, he is treated like a spectacle rather than a person, celebrated for his artistic abilities, and then run out of town like the village monster. The saddest moment comes after he’s been set up by a teenage punk who’s jealous he unwittingly stole his girlfriend. Which, may I remind you, he can’t even hug because of his scissors for hands even though he loves her too. And I’m sad all over again just thinking about it.