2022 was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of Disney and Pixar movies. There were acclaimed successes like Turning Red and flops like Strange World. While there are a lot of things that contribute to what makes a truly great Disney movie, leaving the audience with a great ending is certainly one of them.
Whether it is an all-time Disney classic that ends on a pitch-perfect note or a movie that is only memorable for its final scenes, there are some truly great Disney endings to admire. From the emotionally devastating to the satisfying victories for the heroes to the beloved happily-ever-after romances, these Disney movie endings are the best.
Though it received critical acclaim upon its release, Luca feels like an underrated Pixar movie. It is a charming story of a childhood friendship between two sea monsters posing as young boys on the surface world with plans to buy a Vespa together and travel the world.
The movie seems fairly low stakes at times, although it is filled with humor and heart. But the ending brings it all together beautifully as the young Alberto sells the Vespa in order to buy Luca a train ticket to fulfill his dream of going to school. It is a truly touching end to a movie that more people should check out.
Ratatouille showed the unlikely bond between man and rat. When a wannabe chef realized his chances of being a professional were slim because he wasn’t a good cook, he looked for guidance in a rat named Remy who was an unbelievable chef when no one was around. The movie was unconventional but had endearing and fun moments.
In the end, Linguini came clean about Remy helping him cook for an entire restaurant, which was seen as a clear violation by the health inspector. Despite a rat in the kitchen, a prestigious food critic, Anton Ego, wrote Linguini and the restaurant a review that summed up the true meaning of the movie.
Toy Story 4 (2019)
There are many fans who would suggest that Toy Story 3 was a movie that didn’t need a sequel and served as the perfect ending. While Toy Story 4 certainly doesn’t live up to the third movie in terms of fun and emotional payoffs, it is hard not to get choked up at the end.
As Woody prepares to say goodbye to Bo Peep once again and return to his new life as Bonnie’s toy, Buzz ensures him Bonnie will be alright without him. The best friends share a tear-jerking goodbye for good ending it with “To infinity… and beyond.”
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a rather dark tale, but it had a happy, and realistic, ending. Quasimodo lived inside the bell tower of Notre Dame in Paris. Because of his hunchback, he never felt comfortable leaving the bell tower for fear of humiliation. This changed when he met a beautiful gypsy named Esmeralda. However, their friendship complicated things when she was chased by the movie’s antagonist, Frollo.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame was praised for its original songs and ending. Quasimodo and Esmeralda defeated Frollo and saved the people of Paris. Quasimodo felt compelled to leave the bell tower for the first time and was greeted with cheers from his people. Unlike other Disney movies, Quasimodo doesn’t get the girl, but he gets self-respect instead.
One Hundred And One Dalmatians (1961)
One Hundred and One Dalmatians is a classic that features one of the best Disney villains of all time. As entertaining as Cruella De Vil is, fans are obviously rooting for the heroic dogs to save their pups from being turned into a fur coat.
Luckily, Cruella is defeated in a humiliating fashion, but the real joy comes when all 101 dalmatians are welcomed into their new home. Despite the overcrowding, the family is thrilled to imagine their new life in the country with spotty dogs as far as the eye can see.
Pocahontas is one of Disney’s more beloved animated movies. Based on a real figure in history, the movie loosely detailed Pocahontas’ run-in with an English settler (although the historical accuracies have been disputed over the years). The differences between the movie and the real-life Native American tribes have made it one of Disney’s more controversial movies.
Nevertheless, it had a beautiful ending. Unlike other Disney movies, Pocahontas did not end up with her love interest. She chose her family over love, and it ended with both of them learning a lesson about different cultures and acceptance. It’s culturally an important film for today’s generation.
Meet The Robinsons (2007)
Meet the Robinsons was a Disney movie released in 2007 that doesn’t get as much attention as it should for its remarkable ending. It centered around a young boy named Lewis who was an orphan. While looking for a family, Lewis was stunned when he met a time traveler, and an adventure of a lifetime began.
The ending was an emotional one because Lewis was able to go back in time to see the moment his mother abandoned him before being transported back to regular time. He later got adopted by a lovely family who encouraged and loved him the way he should. Even more emotionally, the movie ended with a quote about strength and happy endings, encouraging its viewers.
Fox & The Hound (1981)
Fox & the Hound is one of Disney’s saddest movies of all time, but it had an amazing message. Unlike movies like The Lion King or Cinderella, Fox & the Hound didn’t involve the death of a main character, but it did deal with the ending of friendships and growth.
In the movie, a fox named Tod and a dog named Copper become best friends. But when they got older, they realized their friendship could never be because Copper was being raised to be a hunting dog. In the end, Copper’s owner was on the hunt for Tod, and he had to choose between his owner and his former friend. The power of friendship prevailed and the ending was one of the braver ones for Disney because it wasn’t the happy-go-lucky route.
Monster’s Inc. (2001)
Monster’s Inc. was so successful that it spiraled into a sequel and a series on Disney+. The unique movie focused on monsters in a fictional world who relied on the screams of children for energy. But when a human child accidentally entered the monsters’ world, an adventure began to get her back safely after years of fearing humans.
In the end, the main characters, Sully and Mike, found out that their society didn’t need to rely on screams and terror for energy. They could also rely on laughter for energy. This would change the way monsters and humans treated each other, creating a safer world. Sully and Mike fought for this exposure and wound up winning. It was a beautiful ending with a personal surprise from the human girl they saved.
Mulan is one of the rare Disney movies that doesn’t focus on a love story. When Mulan’s elderly father was called to war, she dressed as a man and took his place, disguising herself as her brother. During a time when women didn’t fight in wars, Mulan was heroic and inspiring for female viewers.
In the end, Mulan’s true identity was identified, and she was released from battle, but that didn’t mean she stopped fighting. Mulan’s hard work and continued perseverance saved China and brought honor to her family. It was a heartwarming ending.
Within the Disney Renaissance, Aladdin remains a favorite with its adventure, amazing songs, and of course, the iconic performance from Robin Williams as Genie. And after such a fun ride from the beginning, the end leaves a smile on the faces of the audience.
After defeating Jafar with some perfect karmic justice, the movie ends with proof of Aladdin and Genie’s wonderful friendship. Using his final wish, Aladdin chooses to free Genie from his servitude to live his own life.
In 2017, Disney and Pixar released Coco, a film that centered around the Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. In the film, a young boy named Miguel found himself stuck in the spirit realm otherwise known as the Land of the Dead.
Miguel, a music lover, learned more about his ancestors and where his love of music came from. Miguel became independent and grew during his time with his deceased ancestors, which ultimately changed how he lived life when he was transported back to Earth. The film had both funny and sad moments that kept viewers engaged. When Miguel made it back home, the ban on music was lifted, and he had a new appreciation for his family. The ending was emotional but satisfying for viewers.
The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King has some of the more likable characters in any Disney movie. From Simba to Rafiki, there’s a character for every viewer, and it’s impossible not to root for them. While many viewers remember the horrific death of Simba’s dad Mufassa, the ending should also be remembered for perfectly wrapping up the story.
Not only did Simba return to his home at Pride Rock, but he defeated the uncle who killed his dad, took his pride back from his enemies, and started a new future for his loved ones. Watching Simba’s reign transform Pride Rock into a thriving land after years of danger was an inspiring way to end it.
The Incredibles (2004)
Along with being a stand-out Pixar movie, The Incredibles is also a terrific superhero animated movie that follows a family of super-powered beings. After being forced to hide their abilities from the world, the thrilling third act finds the family banding together to defeat an evil robot in a brilliant action sequence.
But even following such a sequence, the ending sticks the landing with the epic reveal of the baby Jack Jack’s powers and the defeat of the villainous Syndrome in a hilarious way. And seeing the family suit up to take on a new villain promised more fun for the sequel.
Toy Story 3 (2010)
Many Toy Story fans agreed that Toy Story 3 should have been the final movie in the franchise, not Toy Story 4. The third movie had an amazing ending that wrapped up the toys’ lives for the better.
When Andy was ready to go to college, the toys realized their days of playtime were over. After a rough journey that involved an evil daycare and garbage truck, the toys found a way to be donated to a young girl named Bonnie who was capable of playing with them and loving them the way they deserved. Andy gave Bonnie his childhood toys in an emotional ending that perfectly wrapped up the franchise.