TV | Pop Culture | Movies | 90s | 80s

10 Character Deaths That Still Make Us Tear Up Decades Later

For some reason, the movies we watched as kids all had an obsession with forcing us to deal with the concept of death. In particular, these 10 movies not only traumatized us as kids, but still get us teary-eyed years later.

The Land Before Time - Littlefoot's Mother


if you're a son who grew up very close to his mother, the scene where Littlefoot's mom fights off a friggin T-Rex to protect him, only to die afterwards as he cries out for her, is one of the singularly saddest things you can ever see. It happens right at the friggin start of the movie too!

Not to mention the scene later where he thinks he finds her again, only for it to be a rock. Even to this day that scene destroys me.

The NeverEnding Story - Artax

Warner Bros.

When Atreyu and his loyal horse Artax have to cross the Swamp of Sadness, they're told that only someone who brings sadness in with their hearts will sink into the mire.

Atreyu is just about able to make it across no problem... when Artax begins to sink to his death. Atreyu looks on and screams for his friend, but Artax sinks entirely into the swamp. I have a ton of questions about how Artax could've been that sad, but I'm too busy crying my eyes out over a dead horse to care that much.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Joyce Summers

Warner Bros.

Buffy was already no stranger to death by the time the episode "The Body" aired (we'd already lost several notable characters, including Angel at one point), but this was the one that truly ruined everybody's day.

Buffy returns home only to find Joyce wide-eyed on the couch, her panic soon gives way to real sadness as she realizes Joyce is dead. Joyce was Buffy's unsung rock through the show, and hearing Buffy going "Mom... Mommy..." as she holds her body was just way too much.

The Lion King - Mufasa


Probably the first movie a 90s kid remembers really making them face the concept of death, Mufasa's death is tragic, sudden, and brutal.

Between him risking his life to save his son, his betrayal at the hands of his brother Scar (complete with the most brutal line in movie history, "Long. Live. The King."), the extended fall to his doom, Simba sadly trying to revive him, and worst of all, Scar blaming him for the whole thing, it's a rough watch even today.

Crying into your morning coffee yet? Keep reading...

My Girl - Thomas


Really, all you need is one line for this one: "He can't see without his glasses."

The Simpsons - Maude Flanders


The Flanders family were always the hilarious, upright Christian foil to the Simpsons's own particular breed of insanity. However, their family got a jolt of tragedy when Maude was killed at a racing event (by a barrage of t-shirts fired out of cannons at Homer no less).

The worst part of the whole thing is the behind-the-scenes story of her death: Maude's voice actress wanted more money on her contract renewal, and instead Fox just killed off the character. It wasn't even the same actress playing her in this episode.

Old Yeller - Old Yeller


Nobody likes the idea of a pet dying. It's literally one of the saddest events in someone's life, especially if they've raised that pet since they were really little.

Old Yeller infamously makes us face that reality in the worst possible way. When the titular dog contracts rabies, it falls to his young owner to shoot him and spare both him and everyone around the dog from the pain of the disease. It's the actual worst.

Hook - Rufio


The brash, aggressive Rufio takes over the leadership of the Lost Boys while Peter Pan's away living a normal life in our world, and he's easily one of the best characters in this classic movie. I mean, just look at that hair!

Unfortunately, he makes the mistake of trying to take on Captain Hook in a one-on-one fight, and he pays the price for it, dying in Peter's arms while uttering one of the most tearfully sweet phrases any adult could hear: "I wish I had a dad like you."

The Green Mile - John Coffey

Warner Bros.

All I can remember about this scene of the movie was screaming "NO! HE'S SCARED OF THE DARK!" at the TV.

Titanic - Jack


Easily one of the most tragic scenes in cinema history, audiences everywhere completely broke down as Jack sank into the ocean in order to save Rose. One question though: did they ACTUALLY not have enough room for both of them on the debris? Because it looked pretty roomy.

What fictional death made you absolutely break down?