Pixar has been creating some of the highest quality animation this side of the Atlantic. Animation is often dismissed as a medium, but Pixar has been blessed with some great commercial and critical success, and part of what makes that success so successful is how emotional the films are, both in terms of their comedy but also in the emotional pathos that highlights those funny moments.

Here are five of my picks for the most heartbreaking moments to come out of Pixar movies.

5. The Brave Little Toaster flower scene

This is kind of a cop-out, since it isn’t technically Pixar. But many of the team that would later become Pixar, including John Lasseter and Joe Ranft, cut their teeth on this project, and it’s a very well made movie, so I’d include it as a sort of proto-Pixar film. It was one of my favorite movies as a kid, and this scene always stood out to me as very sad.

4. Monsters Inc.: “Kitty has to go”

This is why they make the big bucks (and earn the big bucks at the box office as well.) Pixar movies has such strong emotional cores, and the entire creative team knows really how to tap into the emotional moments of a scene and make them as effective as possible without feeling forced or melodramatic (which a lesser animated movie team might.)

3. The opening credits to Up

What makes the moments of heartbreak here so powerful is how strongly it punctuates these happy moments. You get to go on these emotional little journeys, both positive and negative, and the combination of the two seems to contribute to making the lows low and the highs even higher.

2. When She Loved Me, Toy Story 2

I am saddened beyond the capacity for non-emoticon based communication. 😦

1. The Ending to Toy Story 3

I actually don’t want to talk about this, for the risk of actually sobbing, and spoiling it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. It is, for me, by far one of the most heart-wrenching moments in cinema pretty much ever.

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