1. My Girl (1991)
Why it’s depressing: Thomas J. gets stung to death by bees.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Through her grief, Vada is able to reconnect with her distant father. She also learns that death is a natural part of life and not anyone’s fault, which allows her to come to terms with her mother’s death during childbirth.
2. Bambi (1942)
Why it’s depressing: Bambi’s mother is shot and killed by a hunter.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Bambi still manages to grow up into the Great Prince of the Forest, eventually falling in love with a doe named Faline, who gives birth to twins.
3. My Dog Skip (2000)
Why it’s depressing: Although Skip survives an attack by moonshiners, he dies of old age. The last line is, “For he really laid buried in my heart.”
Why it’s not a total bummer: Skip lived a full life? Nope, still upsetting. Dogs shouldn’t die, ever.
4. The NeverEnding Story (1990)
Why it’s depressing: Bastian’s mother is dead, Atreyu’s horse Artax dies, and The Nothing nearly swallows Fantasia whole. It’s all very dark.
Why it’s not a total bummer: In the end, Bastian saves Fantasia by giving the Childlike Empress a name. He manages to restore the land to its former glory and gets to ride Falkor.
5. Charlotte’s Web (1973)
Why it’s depressing: Charlotte dies.
Why it’s not a total bummer: She saves Wilbur from ever being slaughtered. And she leaves behind 514 children, three of whom stay with Wilbur on the farm.
6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012)
Why it’s depressing: Timothy’s time on earth is limited, and once he fulfills his purpose, he disappears. Kids love it.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Timothy manages to touch those around him with his good deeds. And after he disappears, the Greens are able to adopt an actual human child.
7. The Iron Giant (1999)
Why it’s depressing: The robot sacrifices himself by flying into a missile and saving the town of Rockwell.
Why it’s not a total bummer: The robot is able to repair himself, and the film ends with him waking up.
8. Old Yeller (1957)
Why it’s depressing: After Old Yeller gets rabies, Travis is forced to shoot and kill his beloved dog.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Travis adopts Old Yeller’s puppy, which he names Young Yeller. But whatever, Young Yeller will die eventually, too. Everything is terrible.
9. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Why it’s depressing: E.T. has to return to his home planet, leaving Elliott and Gertie behind.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Before he leaves, E.T. says he’ll always be with Elliott. And hey, at least he’s never captured by the government agents who want to experiment on him.
10. Fluke (1995)
Why it’s depressing: Fluke reveals to Carol, his wife when he was alive, that he’s her reincarnated husband. Then he leaves his family forever so they can all move on. Oh, and Fluke’s friend Rumbo is also shot and killed.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Fluke reconnects with Rumbo, who has been reincarnated as a squirrel.
11. The Land Before Time (1988)
Why it’s depressing: A Sharptooth (T-rex) fatally injures Littlefoot’s mother, who dies before his eyes.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Littlefoot and his friends all make it safely to the Great Valley, where he’s adopted by his grandparents.
12. The Fox and the Hound (1981)
Why it’s depressing: Tod the fox and Copper the hound grow up and can no longer be friends. In the end, they part ways forever.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Neither animal dies!
13. Casper (1995)
Why it’s depressing: Casper is dead. And while he gets to spend a few moments as a human, he’ll be a ghost forever. Kat’s dead mom also shows up to her husband briefly, before cruelly disappearing again.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Even if Kat can’t dance with him, Casper will still be around to keep her company.
14. The Bridge to Terabithia (2007)
Why it’s depressing: As Leslie ventures to Terabithia, the rope breaks and she falls to her death.
Why it’s not a total bummer: Jesse builds a bridge to Terabithia (hence the title) that provides safer access to his secret world. He also invites his sister May Belle to join him as the new princess.
15. All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
Why it’s depressing: Charlie dies TWICE.
Why it’s not a total bummer: He gets to go to heaven. But guess what? If dogs didn’t die THEN THIS WOULDN’T BE AN ISSUE. Ugh. I need to be alone for a while.
16. Marley & Me
Why it’s depressing: Marley is euthanized.
Why it’s not a total bummer: It is. I give up.
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