Animated movies that don't end happily ever after?
February 14, 2016 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for kids/animated movies where things don't end happily ever after. Think the opposite of every '90s Disney movie where love conquers all, etc. In fact, tragic endings are preferable. And no singing is a must.
posted by atinna to Media & Arts (34 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Grave of the Fireflies.
posted by leesh at 9:14 AM on February 14, 2016 [19 favorites]

Lots of Studio Ghibli's work fits the description.

Akira isn't really for kids but it's gritty and dark.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:21 AM on February 14, 2016

Apart from Grave of the Fireflies (which, yep) the first Rurouni Kenshin OVA ends in the most depressing notes. If you accept the three-part OVA of Berserk.... ditto.
posted by sukeban at 9:21 AM on February 14, 2016

There's a whole lot of death in Watership Down. I remembered it as being quite cute and a few years ago decided to show it to my 7 year old niece. As it went on I realised it's basically a slasher movie with animated rabbits.
posted by merocet at 9:22 AM on February 14, 2016 [7 favorites]

The 1975 Japanese version of The Little Mermaid sticks closely to Hans Christian Anderson's original story and is hence a total bummer (and slightly scary when you're 6 years old). We watched both this and the Disney one growing up - they're night and day.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:22 AM on February 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

The Plague Dogs is pretty miserable, as I recall...
posted by The otter lady at 9:28 AM on February 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


All Dogs Go to Heaven technically has a happy ending for Anne Marie, but the happy ending is "get visited by the ghost of your dead best friend in your bedroom at your adopted parent's home where you are finally being cared for after a short lifetime of being orphaned, neglected, and exploited."

The ultra bummer is when you google the voice actress who performed Anne Marie, Judith Barsi. I regularly refer to her as "the saddest Wikipedia entry." Read at your own peril.

I would say that Don Bluth movies are generally "Disney Movies but darker" - I remember Little Foot's mom's death in Land Before Time more than anything else. There is singing, though.
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:29 AM on February 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

Snoopy, Come Home! is a tearjerker.
posted by asperity at 9:46 AM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Disney's The Fox and the Hound.
posted by Melismata at 9:52 AM on February 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

When the Wind Blows
posted by misteraitch at 10:11 AM on February 14, 2016 [9 favorites]

I'm seconding Song of the Sea. My wife and I saw it recently, knowing nothing about it, and wow, what a beautiful story, and so, so Irish.
posted by kindall at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Check out Warner Bros animation for DC superheroes -- Batman, Superman, etc. Sure, the heroes win, but it's often bittersweet. For example, The Flashpoint Paradox is entirely about accepting the truth of death and loss.

Similarly, the Gargoyles animated series was entirely bittersweet endings. The heroes weren't ever going to get a truly happy ending.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:30 AM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Illusionist (Note: the 2010 one is animated; there's a different, live-action movie of the same title but otherwise no relation)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:36 AM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Twilight of the Cockroaches
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:42 AM on February 14, 2016

Barefoot Gen. Also, the anime series Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.

But Grave of The Fireflies wins for saddest movie ever, I think.
posted by ananci at 10:53 AM on February 14, 2016

Iron Giant.
The first 10 minutes of Up.
posted by erst at 11:05 AM on February 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

I saw The Sea Prince and the Fire Child when I was younger and the sadness stuck with me forever - I don't remember the details, but it's based on Romeo and Juliet so it's pretty safe to say that it doesn't end well!

(also +1 for the Japanese Little Mermaid. I think there is a random bit of singing but it's totally the opposite to the Disney version)
posted by ukdanae at 11:42 AM on February 14, 2016 [3 favorites]

Iron Giant, for sure.
posted by irisclara at 11:46 AM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

+1 fox and the hound. Romeo and Julliet but for animal friends.
Even more sad if you see it as an allegory for class struggles and the importance of early childhood experiences being nurturing and not abusive.

The Last Unicorn About looking for your tribe, and looking for yourself. She does not end up with the sweet geeky prince either.

Both have songs tho - please forgive them this, they are tragic beautiful movies.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:07 PM on February 14, 2016 [6 favorites]

Another vote for The Iron Giant. I tear up at the thought of that movie, which I saw when my 20-something kids were little. Also, I don't remember the ending, but The Brave Little Toaster was pretty dark.
posted by she's not there at 12:07 PM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Disney's The Little Match Girl.
posted by mustachio at 12:16 PM on February 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Lorax

Not the recent remake, which I haven't seen (and for all I know turns things around so there is a happy ending -- to, you know, protect the children) but the original, from 1972, which replicates the Dr. Seuss (and even has bonus scenes, if you're familiar with the book).
posted by Rash at 12:19 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ringing Bell, I used to rent this Japanese anime from the children's section of my local video store in the eighties, over and over. It had an, effect, on me, that's for sure.
posted by saucysault at 1:35 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Some may argue, but I would say Pan's Labyrinth does not have a happy ending.
posted by dotgirl at 1:37 PM on February 14, 2016

And then there is a movie with bonus testicles to go along with the bittersweet ending: Pom Poko
posted by saucysault at 1:40 PM on February 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mouse and his child was disturbing, I can't remember the actual ending though, does anyone else?
posted by saucysault at 1:42 PM on February 14, 2016

Bugs I saw this film in IMAX in Los Angeles with an audience of children who were devastated when the preying mantis ate the butterfly at the end. I thought the photography was beautiful.
posted by effluvia at 3:50 PM on February 14, 2016

No one has mentioned The Snowman yet? That one gets me.
posted by daisystomper at 8:03 PM on February 14, 2016

Oh and how could I forget The Neverending Story. The hero fails and his horse dies. No songs.

The original Frosty the Snowman. Spoiler: he melts.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:17 PM on February 14, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions! Very helpful. I plan on watching all the ones that I can.
posted by atinna at 11:53 PM on February 14, 2016

Animated, not a kids' movie: Perfect Blue. (spoilers abound)
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:09 AM on February 15, 2016

Since you seem to be okay with anime - A lot of Makoto Shinkai's works are pretty depressing.
posted by Gev at 6:10 AM on February 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Triplets of Belleville doesn't end tragically, but it's pretty dark and weird (it was rated PG-13, and isn't really intended for kids). There's one fun, jazzy song that gets reprised a couple of times.

Gandahar (also known as Light Years) is a French dystopian movie with a pretty downer ending. It's not violent so much as disquieting and weird, if I recall--I haven't seen it since I was a kid.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:24 PM on February 15, 2016

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