The trend of actors dying in films is nothing new. It happens in almost every action-packed book and is something that audiences have become used to. Some are happier than others for various reasons, but this is usually to be expected, depending on the genre.
When an animal dies in a film, it's simply unfair. Sure, even if the animal actor doesn't die in real life, the thought of any character they play dying under any circumstance can bring tears to anyone's eyes.
Artax - 'The Neverending Story' (1984)
The Neverending Story's main protagonist, Artax (Noah Hathaway), finds themselves in a disgraced area called the Swamps of Sadness around halfway through the film.
The swamps are packed with mud and insects, and they have a magical effect on anyone who encounters them that causes them to experience great sorrow. Atreyu is well-versed in this, but Artax is not fortunate. Artax begins to sink, and despite Atreyu's begging and attempts to free his beloved horse, it is too late.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1' (2010) by Hedwig
Hedwig, a beautiful white snowy owl, was Harry Potter's first pet during his first year at Hogwarts, and she sat on his arm whenever she was allowed out of her cage.
Her murder is a swift gut punch that even people who have read the books don't know how to get through them. Minutes later, she comes barreling out of nowhere to attack a Death Eater who is attempting to kill Harry. The Death Eater suddenly strikes her with a well-aimed killing curse, sending her down.
Mufasa - 'The Lion King' (1994)
Disney had no right to stoke a generation of children with this film, yet they did it anyway. Mufasa (James Earl Jones) is a lion, and of course, the king of the beasts. However, his universally hated brother, Scar (Jeremy Irons), isn't quite as happy about that and believes he would be better fit for the throne. So, when Mufasa's son, Simba (Jonathan Taylor
Mufasa comes to his son's rescue, but is unable to save himself. He asks for Scar's assistance, but Scar throws him to the ground below, where he is crushed by the stampede.
Samantha - 'I Am Legend' (2007)
I Am Legend may not be a great film, but the death of the protagonist's dog is a touching and heartbreaking moment that really sticks with viewers. The movie is about a zombie apocalypse, and it's only a matter of time before a friendly character becomes infected.
Samantha - or "Sam," as Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) prefers to refer to her - is a German Shepherd who is fiercely loyal to her owner. Tragically, she is bitten by a zombie while defending him and rapidly begins to deteriorate. Neville quietly sings Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." Shortly afterward, Sam succumbs to the infection and begins to terrorize Neville, forcing him to cut her life in pieces.
'Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey,' Nestor's Mother (1977)
Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a holiday-themed stop-motion animation film created by the same studio that made famous films like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) and The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974).
Nestor (Erik Stern) is a young donkey with abnormally long ears, as the title suggests. Early in the film, Nestor's stable master, Olaf (Paul Frees), penalizes him for being a ludicrous character and causing him to miss out on a huge sale. Nestor's mother (Linda Gary Howerton) sleeps over him during the night. She dies unexpectedly in the morning.
'War for the Planet of the Apes,' Caesar (2017)
Caesar (Andy Serkis) is a chimpanzee who, like his many brethren, has acquired many human abilities, including the ability to talk, ride horses, and operate weapons. Throughout the younger Planet of the Apes trilogy, Caesar develops into a mature and wise leader, despite still being young in ape years.
Caesar dies peacefully on a hill in the final installment of the trilogy. Despite his grievousness, he manages to carry his people to a promised land of sorts where they may live in peace without the suffering and turmoil they endured over the previous three films.
Old Yeller - 'Old Yeller' (1957)
Old Yeller's death is quite similar to Sam's in I Am Legend, in that his family is forced to give up their own lives for their own safety, and to release the poor dog from his misery. Travis (Tommy Kirk) adopts Old Yeller, who remains a loyal companion to the boy and his family.
Old Yeller is able to defend the family but is bitten by the wolf, infecting him with rabies, and is eventually aggressive due to the nature of the disease. Travis has to fatally shoot Old Yeller before he can attack anyone and pass on the disease.
Daisy - 'John Wick' (2014)
Daisy is a sweet little beagle puppy that is given to protagonist John Wick (Keanu Reeves) as a way to rekindle his wife's death. Despite John's stoic nature, he bonds with Daisy fairly well, but their connection is short-lived.
John Wick confronts members of a Russian mob at a gas station, who try to deceive him into giving them his car. They break into his house and murder his poor puppy. John responds to this by personally defying the mob that made his life miserable.
Bambi's Mother - 'Bambi' (1942)
Bambi, one of the most recent Disney films, depicts what may be one of the greatest painful deaths in film history. Sadly, the world of a deer is a dangerous one, especially with all of its predators. The most deadly of which is humanity itself.
Bambi and his mother are chased by a hunter one winter, but a gunshot is heard as Bambi arrives at safety. Though his mother's death is never explicitly shown, Bambi's slow realization is a horrible thing to watch, and implies everything the viewer needs to know without actually saying it.
Marley - 'Marley & Me' (2008)
Marley is a yellow Labrador Retriever, famous for repeatedly causing trouble and wreaking havoc on his owners. Regardless, they cherish him and he loves them.
Marley, who is in his old age, is struck with a medical condition, and it's only a matter of time before the family has to make the difficult decision to put him down. It's a brutally depressing scene that is all too familiar for many. The soundtrack certainly does not make it any easier.