Pixar movies have never been afraid to confront the big questions in life. Including some pretty heavy stuff.

Hopper Is Eaten Alive in A Bug’s Life

The end of a bug’s life in A Bug’s Life

Hopper the bully grasshopper is terrible for demanding food from the sweet residents of Ant Valley, but even he doesn’t deserve his grim fate: being fed to baby birds.

The Me Too Moment in Toy Story 2 (1999)

Stinky Pete suggests an illegal quid pro quo in Toy Story 2.

 A “blooper reel” that originally played during the end credits of Toy Story 2 was edited in the #MeToo era to remove a joke in which Stinky Pete (Kelsey Grammar) tries to seduce two twin Barbies by promising, “Y’know, I’m sure I could get you a part in Toy Story 3.”  

The Scream Extractor in Monsters Inc. (2001)

We love you, Monsters Inc., but was this necessary?

The setup for Monsters Inc. is a little dark to begin with: the monsters’ entire way of life is powered by the screams of the children they scare. The scares are lightened by the twist that the monsters are more scared of the kids than the kids are of the monsters.

But things get a little too high stakes when Boo is strapped into something called a Scream Extractor to optimize the amount of terrified volume she projects. Luckily Sully (John Goodman) saves her, in one of the most cathartic rescues of the Pixar movies.

The Barracuda Attack in Finding Nemo (2003)

Yes, Finding Nemo goes there.

We’ll give a pass to any parent who skips the intense opening of Finding Nemo, in which Nemo’s mother, Coral, and all of Nemo’s soon-to-be-hatched brothers and sisters, are devoured by a barracuda. Yow.

This awful event sets the stage for the rest of the movie, in which Nemo’s dad, Marlin, tries to overcome his many (understandable) oceanic fears. The opening of Finding Nemo continues a time-honored, dubious tradition of kicking off Disney and/or Pixar movies with a mother’s death.

Finding Nemo, Again (2003)

Sharks about to backslide in Finding Nemo.

At one point Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) wanders into a 12-step meeting for sharks trying to curb their bloodthirsty addictions. There’s nothing grim about getting help — but things do get grim when the sharks relapse and go on a feeding frenzy.

The Jumper Rescue in The Incredibles (2004)

A scene in The Incredibles that may shake your faith in humanity.

Mr. Incredible gets out of the superhero business — for a while — after he saves a man trying to end his life by jumping from a building… and the man then sues him for it. “You didn’t save my life, you ruined my death!” the ungrateful survivor tells Mr. Incredible.

The grim newsreel-type footage contributes to making this one of the grittiest sequences in the Pixar movies.

The Incinerator in Toy Story 3 (2010)

You took it too far, Toy Story 3.

Toy Story 3 finds Buzz, Woody and the gang grappling with the end of Andy’s childhood, and what will become of them. But things hit a nadir when they wind up in an incinerator, and doom seems certain. They’re saved, thank goodness, but the incinerator scene is as successful at eliciting shrieks as any Monsters Inc. Scream Extractor.

The Terrible Loss in Up (2009)

Ellie and Karl in Up.

The opening moments of Up include a sensitive and devastating depiction of Ellie losing her pregnancy.  

“I remember seeing it for the first time and, of course, crying,” Up director of photography Patrick Lin has said of the film’s opening. “Actually, three times throughout production.”

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