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    21 Times Disney Movies Handled Serious And Dark Topics Reallllllly Well

    Zootopia and Big Hero 6 don't get the credit they deserve for being SO smart and aware.

    We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which dark and serious Disney movie moments were actually handled super well. Here are the eye-opening results.

    1. In Zootopia, when the entire movie was a giant metaphor that explored topics of race, racism, stereotypes, microaggressions, and discrimination.

    Nick (a fox) sneakily playing with the assistant mayor's (a sheep) hair
    Walt Disney StudiosMotion Pictures

    "Zootopia tackled all sorts of issues in a 90-minute kids movie. The prey feared that the predators would 'turn savage' after years of assimilating. Animals were even stereotyped — Nick, a fox, was treated as a sly character who could never be trusted. It even featured a lot of teachable moments about microaggressions."

    jennaclairej and laauuren-a

    2. In Frozen II, when Anna hit her rock bottom and realized that the only way out of it was to acknowledge her pain and take things one step at a time, even if it wasn't going to be easy.

    Anna climbing out of the cave and into the light
    Walt Disney StudiosMotion Pictures

    "The song 'The Next Right Thing' is so perfect. After Anna learned the cruel history of Arendelle, lost her sister and best friend, and seemingly had nothing left to fight for, she still pushed through by just taking things one step at a time. The best part was that she lifted herself back up while still acknowledging how poorly she was feeling. It's such a great example for kids and adults alike!" —lexir4a

    "'Show Yourself' was also great, when Elsa realized she’d been looking for something to define her all her life even though, in reality, she was already enough just as she was. The lyric 'You are the one you’ve been waiting for' is so good." —charlotteackroyd

    3. In Big Hero 6, when Hiro's grief over his brother's untimely death was expressed through several unfamiliar stages, illustrating that there's no right or wrong way to heal or mourn the loss of a loved one.

    Hiro talking to Baymax in his room
    Walt Disney StudiosMotion Pictures

    "The entire arc about Hiro healing through Tadashi’s death was fantastic. It showed his denial and anger and spite, but it also showed that Baymax and the rest of the team were there to support him. They shared his grief and were able to help him navigate it and overcome it. Hiro still mourned his brother – they all did – but his death was accepted, not 'gotten over,' and that’s an important message." —mefirippis

    "I also loved when Baymax downloaded a database on loss and grief. It subtly showed that it’s OK to admit you’re not an expert, but you're willing to learn to help someone you love." —katiecolemans

    4. In Tangled, when the toxic relationship between Mother Gothel and Rapunzel examined themes of emotional manipulation and abuse.

    Mother Gothel yelling at Rapunzel in the tower
    Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    "Tangled perfectly depicted these really dark and serious topics, even though it was 'just a kids movie.' Like, Rapunzel was literally trapped in that tower and made to believe certain lies for her entire life."


    5. In Moana, when Grandma Tala said her final goodbye to Moana before dying, reminding her that the people you lose will always be with you.

    Moana reuniting with the spirit of her grandma on the open waters


    6. In Mulan, when Mulan proved to the misogynistic men/society that women can be strong, smart, and tough, and their place doesn't have to be in the home.

    Mulan being thrown to the snowy ground and then sacrificed by Li Shang

    "They almost killed her when they found out she was a woman, even after she saved everyone with the avalanche. Then, when she tried to warn the people of China that the Huns were still alive, all of the men ignored her because she was a woman. This movie was obviously reflective of the times, but it's still a good lesson in misogyny."


    7. In Up, when Ellie found out she was pregnant and decorated the entire nursery, but then she ultimately lost the baby due to a miscarriage.

    Ellie receiving bad news at the doctor's office

    "This whole movie was about perspective. They showed Ellie and Carl accepting their obstacles and pushing through them. This particular moment didn't shy away from the fact that life can be hard and painful."


    8. In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, when all of the townspeople bullied Quasimodo and threw tomatoes at him simply because he was a little different.

    The townspeople throwing tomatoes at Quasimodo

    "The whole movie focused on religious corruption, a fear of those who are different, and the need to show compassion and be open-minded. This is why Disney continually pleases audiences — they don't dumb storylines down for kids, and they can tackle serious issues."


    9. In Cinderella, when the evil stepsisters violently tore apart her homemade dress, harshly illustrating that not everyone comes from a happy home.

    The stepsister tearing apart Cinderella's pink dress

    10. In Monsters, Inc., when Sulley had to let go and say goodbye to Boo, proving that sometimes you have to say goodbye to the ones you love.

    Sulley hugging Boo in her room and then exiting through her closet door


    11. In Frozen, when Anna sacrificed herself by jumping in front of Hans' sword to save Elsa, representing how important familial love can be.

    Anna jumping in front of the sword and turning to ice
    Walt Disney Pictures

    "That moment when Anna threw herself in front of Hans' sword and turned into was the most powerful representation of familial love. It really does send an important message about true love and the importance of family. In fact, the whole movie has some of the most relevant messages, and it also has the best LGBTQ representation in Disney to date."


    12. In Toy Story 2, when Jessie's entire backstory revealed that she was abandoned by her owner, but that didn't mean she was no longer capable of giving or receiving love.

    A compilation of Jessie's human getting older and then leaving her in the donation pile

    "This entire scene was heartbreaking, but she was ultimately able to open up again to a new group of people."


    13. In Onward, when Barley opened up about how he didn't say goodbye to his dad because it was too scary and painful to see him so sick.

    Barley talking to his brother in the cave's river

    "The scene when Barley explained the memory about his dad that he didn't care to remember...that was one of the most important scenes ever in a Disney/Pixar movie. It really showed how people react to both good and bad experiences and how they both equally shape our lives. Some things are just too painful to want to experience again, and that's OK."

    rnhercam and brianklidies

    14. In The Princess and the Frog, when Ray accepted the bad news of his own fate, knowing (or at least hoping) that something good would come from it.

    Ray looking up at the two shining stars in the sky

    "He knew that he'd be reunited with Evangeline as a star in the sky, and I think that's a great way to think about life. Sometimes all you can do is surrender and accept the outcome."


    15. In Tarzan, when Tarzan, Kala, and Kerchak suffered insurmountable loss but still found hope and home in their chosen families.

    Tarzan trying to free Kerchak from a rope trap

    16. In Coco, when the entire movie prepared Miguel for the death of Mamá Coco and focused on the importance of celebrating the life of a loved one after their passing, rather than just mourning the loss.

    Miguel talking to Mamá Coco
    Disney / Pixar

    "I loved the relationship between Miguel and Mamá Coco. It was so important for me to hear the line about how she doesn't remember things but that it's good for people to still talk to her. When I was younger, I dealt with my great-grandmother's dementia. I was always afraid to visit relatives in the hospital and in nursing homes, and I never knew what to say to them. But I really think this movie will help kids who are in similar situations and may feel scared or don't fully understand what's going on."


    17. In Finding Nemo, when Marlin discovered that Nemo was the only one who survived the barracuda attack, introducing the movie's key focus on themes of love and loss.

    Marlin finding only one egg left after the barracuda attack

    —Paloma Pinzón Umaña, Facebook

    18. In Toy Story 3, when Andy gave all of his favorite toys to Bonnie, proving that we all outgrow our past eventually, and that's OK.

    Andy saying goodbye from his car as he admires his childhood toys in Bonnie's hands

    19. In The Lion King, when Scar killed Mufasa and blamed it on Simba, showing the dangers of how far some people will go for power.

    Simba trying to wake up Mufasa's lifeless body

    "It's a great lesson in power and betrayal. It's also a necessary reminder that sometimes we need to separate ourselves from certain people, even if they're in our family."


    20. In Lilo & Stitch, when Lilo opened up to Stitch about her parents' deaths, and Stitch admitted that he felt lost too.

    Lilo talking to Stitch in her room

    "On the face of it, the film is about an uncontrollable alien who learns the meaning of family, but there are subplots that deal with social services, adoption, and feeling unwanted."

    lulupanda57 and jbmasta

    21. And in Inside Out, when Riley's depression was illustrated as a real issue, rather than simply labeling her as an angsty kid.

    Riley's wardrobe appearing less colorful through the movie

    "The other emotions couldn't make Riley 'feel anything' because of her depression. I've been there before, and I really related to these scenes. I'm glad Sadness was able to help her! They also did a great job of representing how Riley felt through her wardrobe — as the movie went on, her clothes got more and more devoid of color."


    Did your favorite Disney moment not make the list? Tell us about it in the comments below.

    Note: Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.

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