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10 Saddest Live-Action Disney Movies


Disney has produced some of the most iconic and beloved media properties. The company’s movies are so popular because they allow audiences to escape into adventurous worlds and feel a full range of powerful emotions. However, sometimes, the strength of the emotions is a little too strong, as in the case of sorrowful movies.


RELATED: 12 Saddest Disney Movies, Ranked

Although many animated movies cause fans to tear up, live-action films tend to be even sadder. Even in fantasy movies, the real-life scenes make the emotions seem more tangible. These stories may be some of the best Disney films, but they are also some of the saddest.

10/10 Flubber Loses One Of Its Best Characters

Professor Brainard talks to his robot Weebo.

Flubber is a remake of a classic Disney film that has a wonderful 90s charm. Starring Robin Williams as Professor Philip Brainard, the movie centers around an absentminded inventor who creates a living, rubbery compound that causes mischief.

While the premise seems mostly tame, the movie culminates in the death of Weebo, a sentient AI who has fallen in love with the professor. Although Professor Brainard creates a second Weebo, fans still had to mourn the loss of the first iteration. In addition, it is also hard to watch Professor Brainard struggle in his relationship with Dr. Sara Jean Reynolds.

9/10 Inspector Gadget Shows The Protagonist’s Near DeathMatthew Broderick as Inspector Gadget

Inspector Gadget is a live-action adaptation of the beloved 80s cartoon by the same name. Although the antics of the titular character are zany fun, his origins are not as lighthearted.

RELATED: 10 Worst Changes Live-Action Adaptations Made From The Cartoons

When John Brown is gravely injured after confronting a vicious criminal, doctors agree for him to become the test subject for the Gadget Program. They then turn John Brown into Inspector Gadget, a crime-fighting cyborg. Had John not transformed, he would likely have perished, creating a sad and dark end to an otherwise lighthearted tale.

8/10 Mary Poppins Has To Go

Mary Poppins flies away in Mary Poppins movie

Mary Poppins is an older Disney film, but it is undeniably a classic. The movie depicts two children, Jane and Michael Banks, who require a nanny. However, they frighten each of them away until, at last, Mary Poppins arrives.

Mary Poppins is a beautiful yet stern woman who teaches the children that fun can be had even in mundane things. However, the more time they spend with their new nanny, the more they realize that Mary Poppins is not the typical governess. By the film’s end, the children and audiences have grown to love Mary Poppins, but it is sadly her time to leave. After coming to care for someone who showed them so much life and family, it is hard to see the characters say goodbye to the mysterious Mary Poppins.

7/10 Bedknobs And Broomsticks Uses Magic During World War II

bedknobs and broomsticks animation

Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a quirky film set during World War II. Eglantine Price takes in three evacuated children, all while trying to figure out a way to use her magic to stop the German army. She and the family eventually pair up with her witches’ correspondence course professor, Emelius Brown. The group then travels on a magical bed to fantastical places to gather all the pieces she needs for a particular spell to aid in what would become the Battle of Britain.

While Bedknobs and Broomsticks has its moments of fun, the setting and stakes remind audiences of what England — and many other countries — went through during that terrible war. Plus, knowing that children lived through such trauma is devastating in itself.

6/10 Saving Mr. Banks Shows The Life Of P.L. Travers

Emma Thompson as PL Travers and Tom Hanks as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks is a dramatized true story of P.L. Travers and Walt Disney combining forces to create Mary Poppins. Travers and Disney are constantly at odds over the vision for the movie, creating tension and dread over what would eventually become the beloved film.

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Despite Travers’s and Disney’s arguing, the saddest moments come in flashbacks of Travers’s childhood. Her memories of her beloved father paint a picture of a struggling family trying to make ends meet amid her father’s continued poor choices. It is then that Disney and fans realize that Mary Poppins was always there to save Mr. Banks (Travers’s father) and not the children, as once thought.

5/10 Maleficent Loses Her Wings

Angelina Jolie as Maleficent in Maleficent (2014)

Maleficent is a re-imagined tale of Sleeping Beauty from the villain’s perspective. Although she is seen as pure evil in the original Disney animated film, this movie shows her to be a betrayed and misunderstood creature of a magical land.

While many things lead to Maleficent’s downfall from an adventurous fairy to the villainous dragon, the most gut-wrenching instance is when the boy she loves, Stephan, drugs her, cuts off her wings, and leaves. Mutilated and heartbroken, Maleficent travels down a road of vengeance that no one seems to blame her for any longer.

4/10 Remember The Titans Tackles Serious Issues

remember the titans denzel washington with team

Remember the Titans is another dramatized true story about a newly integrated football team in Virginia in 1971. Herman Boone is offered a job as the school’s first Black head coach, much to the chagrin of the white members of the community. Despite the backlash, Coach Boone does his best to train his team to be champions.

As the team progresses, they face increasing prejudice and racial tension. Coach Boone is even threatened by the school board that he will be dismissed if the team loses any games. However, the movie’s climax occurs when one of the team captains, Gerry Bertier, is in a major car accident that paralyzes him from the waist down. Though he is unable to play with his teammates in their final game, the entire team bands together to win for him. Though the team came together, the fact that their community could not is deeply lamentable.

3/10 Into The Woods Shows The Darker Side Of Fairytales

Into The Woods disney cast

Into The Woods is a dark fairytale musical that remains truer to the original Grimm stories it is based on. Although all the protagonists get what they want, many of them still find themselves unhappy and looking for more.

The movie shows Cinderella running from her prince and the Baker’s wife dying after having an affair — events that unearth the dark sides of their stories. The movie is overall a sad reminder that no one can control their fates — not even fairytale characters.

2/10 Tuck Everlasting Highlights The Downside Of Immortality

Winnie Foster and Jesse Tuck started from Tuck Everlasting

Tuck Everlasting is the tale of a family of immortals living as peacefully as they can in the woods. Though they try not to interfere with the outside world, the world comes to them in the presence of Winnie Foster.

RELATED: 10 Worst Disney Live-Action Movies, Ranked According to IMDb

Winnie and one of the Tuck boys, Jesse, find themselves falling in love, much to his family’s chagrin. Although they like Winnie, they know that she will eventually grow old, leaving Jesse alone again. However, they do not want to subject her to immortality, as they feel it is also a curse. The story of the star-crossed lovers is tragic, as fans know it will end even before their love begins.

1/10 Bridge To Terabithia Reminds Audiences That Death Could Come At Any Time

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia follows two young friends, Jesse and Leslie, as they imagine a world filled with fantastical creatures that they can rule together. Terabithia is a magical place that helps them escape their daily struggles and allows them to enjoy each other’s company in peace.

Tragically, Jesse comes home one day to discover that Leslie drowned trying to cross into Terabithia alone. The tragedy illustrates the suddenness of death and the immense loss of a young life. The abruptness of Leslie’s death made the movie even more sorrowful, making it one of the saddest Disney live-action films to date.

NEXT: Disney Live-Action Remakes, Ranked



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