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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Power Grid

The 10 Saddest Animal Deaths in Geekdom

Allow Us to Explain

Allow Us to Explain

Gluttons for punishment, aren’t we? Only a week after writing an entire Grid about food, where we couldn’t write more than a few sentences without a snack break, we decided to do a grid about Sad Animal Deaths. Well, let it never be said that we didn’t share the pain, so here goes.

While there are sad animal deaths all over fiction (especially young adult fiction) we decided to focus only on those that occurred in science fiction or fantasy, partly because, well, that’s the mandate of the site, and partly because animal death tends to be connected to different themes in speculative fiction than in regular fiction. Pet death in young adult fiction, for example, is almost always used as a metaphor for personal growth on the part of the animal’s owner, where here we’ll see pet death and animal death run the gamut from the loss of parents and family, to the acceptance of the past, to the meaning of trust and friendship to even an incidence of I-Don’t-Think-You-Meant-That-To-Be-As-Sad-As-It-Was.

Some notes on the composition of the list: We tried as much as possible to focus on pet death, and pet death of actual animals, not talking animals, because we were more interested in how we use this trop to show human/animal interaction even in sci-fi/fantasy. However, this left us with some seriously obscure and significantly less meaningful entries hanging onto the end of the Grid, and so we let in some the most heartwrenching sentient animal deaths that we could think of (while trying to keep them to the least anthropomorphized characters). The following runners up may be a good way for you to judge if you should just give up now and go get some tissues. These are, after all, what we left out.

All Dogs go to Heaven, the deer scene from The Iron Giant, Dragonheart (makes Susana tear up every time, shamefully enough), Charlotte’s Web, the dogs in Watchmen, and Romo Lampkin’s cat Lance from Battlestar Galactica.

Oh, and the Rat Thing from Snow Crash.

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  • Anonymous

    glaring omission: krypto in “whatever happened to the man of tomorrow?”

    gets me every. goddamn. time.

  • Anonymous

    oooh, good one. I have got to read that. Definitely a hole in my Brits-Writing-American-Comics-in-the-80′s love. 

  • Anonymous

    oh man. yeah, i mean, it’s a timeless classic — you should read it on general principle.

    it just got reprinted in a volume that also contains “for the man who has everything,” alan moore’s other perfect superman story:

  • Jayme

    “In a horrifying parallel to an earlier scene of play, Simba runs down to
    his fallen parents and tugs at his ear, pushes at his body, desperately
    asking him to wake up, to respond, to do anything at all. Even
    describing this scene, which this writer hasn’t seen in years, brings me
    close to tears.”

    Cannot read without crying. Actually, I can’t even watch the commercials for the 3D theatrical re-release of The Lion King without thinking about this scene and bawling my head off. And I LOVE this movie.

  • Mauricio Ariel Portnoy

    same here, i’m weeping already

  • Mauricio Ariel Portnoy

    same here, i’m weeping already

  • Talia

    As a girl who grew up with German Shepherds until she was in high school, Samantha’s death in I Am Legend was probably one of the animal deaths that touched me the most. I remember crying as a little girl at the parent deaths in Land Before Time and Lion King. Til this day, that episode of Futurama where Seymour dies still makes me tear up whenever I see it.

  • Talia

    As a girl who grew up with German Shepherds until she was in high school, Samantha’s death in I Am Legend was probably one of the animal deaths that touched me the most. I remember crying as a little girl at the parent deaths in Land Before Time and Lion King. Til this day, that episode of Futurama where Seymour dies still makes me tear up whenever I see it.

  • Nikki Lincoln

    Even reading about the Futurama scene brings tears to my eyes. I have always thought that was the saddest episode ever and also one of the reasons you could tell the show was much deeper than its comical exterior. 

  • Francesca M

    I can’t believe you forgot about Nemo’s mom. If you haven’t seen Finding Nemo, watch it.. and feel your heart totally broken into pieces. Its one of Pixar’s first… ‘here we’re going to just tear your heart to pieces’.

    As soon as I saw the dog in I am Legend, I knew I wasn’t ever going to see that movie ever because I could tell she was good and true and faithful and completely screwed.

    Also that Futurama episode is like the biggest heart breaker ever. Just thinking about it makes me shudder. Excuse me.. I need to go and cuddle my dog for like 4 hours now.

  • Sarah Goesch

    So ..I just checked it up

    Lion King is from 1994 (moment to feel old right here!) and still: Each time I am waching that particular scene I hope and pray that Mufasa is okay! Which, of course, never happens and makes it all the more heartbreaking ;_;

    PS: on a sidenote: the scene with sam is the only reason I don´t like to watch I am legend >.< . I am sorry I just can´t cope with dieing pets. 

  • Rose Jones

    AFI’s list of top movie villains of all-time includes the nameless hunter in “Bambi” as #20…just a few notches under the likes of Darth Vader and Norman Bates.

  • Ashley Sue

    I can’t even think about Seymour from Futurama without tearing up (yep, doing it right now). 

  • Beth Smith

    I become inconsolable when an animal is killed or dies in a movie/show/book.  I mean humans are nice and all, but animals, for the most part, are innocent.  I could hardly watch movies like Benji or Lassie, cause I knew they’d face some frightening peril.  I just think of when, as a child, we had to read, then watch Where the Red Fern grows… goodness, just thinking about it upsets me.

    So yeah, mostly all of these resonate with me, but Seymour, poor Seymour….  As a child, I had a dog I loved so much, the mere thought, that one day, she might not be around would bring me to tears.  I’d hope she’d live a long time and I would go before her, admittedly a very dark though for a little girl.  Of course that’s not how it worked out, I’m a grown woman and well… you know. Futurama has, at many times, touched me, even made me tear up, but Seymour’s life after Fry and ultimate dismal death is so heart breaking I cannot watch that episode more than halfway, if at all.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad I’m not alone in blaming Luke for killing the Rancor.  I mean, sure I was rooting for Luke during the fight, but the moment I saw flabby apron guy sobbing over the death of his beloved Rancor, my heart sank.  It may have been a brutal monster, but there was someone on the other side of that door who loved that Rancor — the kind of love that can only exist between a flabby apron guy and his three-story-tall killing machine.

    I can imagine him taking the Rancor for walks in the park on a sunny day.  Playing fetch.  Teaching it tricks.  Keeping it away from the Sarlac pit.  Cleaning up poo studded with the bones of its many victims.  But flabby apron guy did it cheerfully, because he’d raised that Rancor from an…  egg or whatever… and it was worth it just to spend time together.  Because Rancors give unconditional love.  Bloodthirsty, unconditional love.

  • Anonymous

    I feel a little better knowing I’m not the only one who can’t sit through that episode of Futurama. 

  • Julianne McCartney

    Stop it! Stop it! I’m gonna cry! I’ve got a lump in my throat already!

  • Anonymous

    Oy, in The Dark Tower. I cried buckets.

  • Anonymous

    i’m confused as to why there is a sort of spoiler at the end of the futurama post. I remember that episode and it being really sad. I haven’t seen the movie yet which is why I don’t get it.. 

  • Anonymous

  • Shalan McGrinder

    Bender’s Big Score revisits the Seymour character in a way that makes his death less sad, but honestly, having seen both, the episode still wrecks me.

  • blissfulslavery

    You can still watch Jurassic Bark? I saw it once and immediately decided never again. It’s a fantastic episode but I just do not need that much added depression in my life.

  • Jazmin thelovelyjazmin

    Why don’t I remember this Antie death from Honey I Shrunk the Kids?! Have I repressed these memories? Was this part edited out? Do I just have the worst memory ever?

  • Francesca M

    OH MY GOD… Where the Red Fern Grows…. I saw that at Girl Scout Camp…. so there we all all partially homesick, everyone of us has some sort of pet at home. The entire freaking camp was crying… just as we were starting to calm ourselves someone it was always different would say, “IT WAS SOOOOO SAD.” and the whole cycle would start again.

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

  • Jessica Oliver

    YES!  I was wondering where Oy would land on this list…and he wasn’t mentioned.  

  • Elsajeni

    Wow, I was totally unprepared for Hedwig to be on this list. I think I had forgotten she was, technically, an animal.

  • Amy C.

    Oh man. I was having a good time reading this list until it got to all the mother characters and reminded me that my mom is going to die one day. What a downer on my night.

    Also, when I was watching True Grit I was like “THISMOVIEISAMAZINGTHISMOVIEISAMAZING” *SPOILER*Then he kills the horse*SPOILER* I was like “HOW. DARE. :’C “

  • Saki Guzman

    what about Lady from Game of Thrones?

  • Anonymous

  • Helen Chappell

    Seconded.  Especially the way it’s portrayed in the HBO series.

  • Jon Lancaster

    I think I have some dust in my eye. Dammit.

  • Julie Allen

    omg, the Futurama episode… I cried!  And I was so mad at the writers for ending it the way they did, even if it was a perfectly touching story.  But yeah, go work for Pixar why don’t you, since you’re so good at ripping out my heart.

  • Anonymous

  • Katie

    Seymour’s death in Futurama always makes me cry buckets! I just cannot watch it anymore.

    I ended up in a bad situation when I was younger where I had to go live somewhere separate from my cat, whom I had since I was a small child. My aunt ended up letting my half-blind, senior, INDOOR cat out into the country and she never came back. That was after being thought lost after several moves before, only to return home soon after.

    That episode of Futurama always makes me window if she went looking for my family or thought that she had been abandoned… Ack! Too sad.

  • Clare Harry Duncan

    I can handle nearly all these deaths without a tear, suck it up when all my favorite characters die, and even managed to keep myself somewhat together after watching my absolute favorite series end on paper and on film, but Futurama just knows how to make me bawl uncontrollably. For a relatively mediocre show, it handles sad, and especially bittersweet, endings better than anyone else.

  • Anonymous
  • Raptorendame

    Oh, this futurama episode. I remember watching it on a lazy sunday evening just to be shocked at the ending. Even my boyfriend said: “Wow, that was.. hard.”.

    And Hedwig! I could take all the other deaths, but Hedwig? God, not Hedwig! :(

    As something not on the list I remember a series I watched as a child: Some anime thing with a boy who lived on a old school farm and adopts a little deer. I just can’t remember how the show was called, but I remember crying. Hmpf. someone, any idea?

  • Raptorendame

    Ah, it’s “The Yearling” Anime adoption and just now I remembered why I cried hard at watching the show as a child. Gosh, that are some serious downers…

  • Kate Gould

    I just always think of when they leave the dog outside in Shyamalan’s Signs…
    And she squeals when the aliens get to her and kill her. And they should have remembered to bring her inside.

    T_____T *sob*

  • Wulfy

    Kudos on the rancor. Most people only care about animals when it’s Mr Fluffikins the Cuddly Furball, but you felt genuine compassion for a giant monster. /salute

    That said, I feel Watership Down deserves honourable mention here for the most psychologically scarring film ever made. Yes children, not only do rabbits die, they rip each other’s throats out in an Orwellian nightmare.

  • Anonymous

  • Liz Wright


    In one of the newer movies, Bender’s Big Score, they actually reveal that a time-traveling duplicate of Fry went back in time and lived for another 12 years in the 21st century, working at the same pizza place and living in the same apartment and taking care of Seymour. IT’S OKAY IT’S NOT SAD ANYMOREthank God because I had never cried so hard watching tv before

  • Jennifer Green

    The three biggest omissions on this list –
    WOLF from The Talisman
    AMPERSAND from Y: The Last Man
    LADY from Game of Thrones

  • unpublishedguy

    I thought the Philip Fry/5 leaf clover episode was also pretty sad, although Philip Fry was a person, not an animal. I liked that about Futurama, but most of the newer episodes don’t seem to go there all that often. The time machine/universe ending (and ending again) came close.

  • Elle

    Seymour! Stupid futurama! I cry just thinking about it.

  • Kitty

    Same here! I didn’t expect Hedwig here but I’m so glad she was included.

  • Kitty

    Thanks for making me cry, list! I didn’t expect Hedwig! Sam’s death made me BAWL. I can’t even talk about that Lion King scene without wanting to cry. Each death here deserves it places, some I haven’t seen but just the descriptions are sad! Seymour’s death is just horrible. :( All alone for those years. TT_TT

  • Ebony Leopard

    I dare someone to read The Pride of Bagdad and not end that sucker tearing up. And please don’t watch the animated movie Plague Dogs if you are easy to crying. To me, THAT movie seeing those poor dogs swimming to what they think is a island that’s not really there…now that’s some F’ed up stuff.

  • Kathy Coleman

    I have never, EVER gotten over the end of “Jurassic Bark”!  “Futurama” was NOT supposed to make me cry!  And I cry EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT!  (Just thinking about it makes me cry.)

  • Emily Hill

    I bawled when Seymour sat waiting for fry

  • Anonymous

    I still cry and think of my father when Mufasa dies because he and I would watch that movie together a lot. I forget how much I miss him sometimes, but I thank him for making me a strong, artistic, well humored, geeky woman thru the short time I had him. My childhood is filled with memories of Star Treck, The X-Files, MST3K, Star Wars, Predator, Tremours, X-men and may others. Thank you Daddio. I’ll always love you…and Spok and Mulder :)

  • Anonymous

    Also, Rooter made me bawl almost as much as when Littlefoot’s mom died

  • Anonymous

    You may have blocked it out. I teared just reading it because eI haven’t thought of him since I saw the movie last, years ago. I forgot about him and I feel terrible for forgetting such a beloved insect from my childhood

  • Fay Franklin

    For me, the saddest animal death ever comes from T H White’s The Sword in the Stone. I simply cannot read it without tears, plus it is so beautifully written.

    It begins when the hound Beaumont has had his back broken by a wild boar:

    Master William Twyti… picked up his spear without saying anything and limped over to Beaumont. He knelt down beside him and took his head on his lap. He stroked Beaumont’s head and said, “Hark to Beaumont. Softly, Beaumont, mon ami. Oyez à Beaumont the valiant. Swef, le douce Beaumont, swef, swef.” Beaumont licked his hand but could not wag his tail. The huntsman nodded to Robin, who was standing behind, and held the hound’s eyes with his own. He said, “Good dog, Beaumont the valiant, sleep now, old friend Beaumont, good old dog.” Then Robin’s falchion let Beaumont out of this world, to run free with Orion and roll among the stars.

  • Cameron Hadoken Russball

    My #1, and I still can’t deal with it without tearing up massively, will always be Algernon in “Flowers for Algernon.”

    If you can get through that book without doing one of those little sob-gasps, then you are simply missing a soul.

  • Roisin McCormac

    Jurassic Bark gets me EVERY time…i cant even read about it and i tear up.
    Hedwig too…i sobbed my heart out as i read that…

    Another one that gets me is Dumbos mother (i know she doesnt die, still gets me tough) in jail, makes me cry thinking about it

  • kreshenda keith

    OMG!! Plague Dogs!! That movie has stuck with me for years. I had seen it as a kid and will always remember when the dogs (SPOILER ALERT) just swim off in the end.. I kept asking my brother (who was in his teens and totally trying to hide his tears) where did they go and when were they coming back. And he finally said, they’re not coming back and I lost it and was crying for the next three hours. I’ve watched that movie as an adult now and still cry like the little girl I once was. Oh and that Futurama episode absolutely slayed me. So did Artax and Antie :’(

  • Anna Sophia May

    the Death of Littlefoot’s mother broke my heart as a child, and still does. It made the Nostalgia Critic’s top 11 saddest nostalgic moments ( along with Artex and “every disney movie ever made’)
    Strangely, Bambi’s mother.. not so much. I was sad, but I didn’t really understand it, I never watched it again because I thought the movie was boring as a kid- I can’t even remember the plot now, and while that line is sad…it never comes up again. Littlefoot sees his mother’s ‘spirit’ (that cloud thing) and he sees her die, and then there’s that heart wrenching bot where he sees his shadow and thinks it’s her- but Bambi’s mom- does it even come up again? I don’t remember at all. Maybe I’m over thinking things?

  • Jessika Acklin

    oh god…. i remember the dog scene in I Am Legion ………….that is probley the worse (that iv seen, i didnt see the Never Ending Story… just reading that made me cry..)

  • Jessika Acklin

    And the Futurama one! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy did they have to end the episode that way??? Why did they do that?! It was sooooo sad……. that poor dog :(

  • MarraJade

    Only reading about Simbas guilty face made me tear up! I will cry about 5 times watching the Lion King, beginning with tears of joy as soon as the sun goes up, but seeing Mufasa die breaks my heart every time!

    Some years ago I went to see Bambi 2 in the cinema together with a friend. We sat in a quite empty cinema and some rows behind us sat a mother with her son, who was maybe 4-5 years old. He obviously had not seen Bambi before, and when the flashback scene of the Death was running, he was getting very agitated and did not understand what was happening. Hearing this very sad little child ask his own mother things like “Where is Bambis mom? When is she coming back?” and his mothers answers “I’m sorry dear, his mom is not coming back, the hunter shot her”, followed by the sobbing of the little boy was SO heartbreaking…I cried my eyes out!

  • MarthaThompson

    Yup! Wiping tears right now. Oh THAT episode killed me. I was stunned by what Futurama put me through.

  • John doe

    Seymour from Futurama was pretty sad. Mans best friend indeed.

  • Ellie Potten

    YES! My mum and sister think it’s hilarious to suddenly curl an arm like her trunk and mime rocking, because they know full well I’ll burst into tears uncontrollably. It’s like a party piece or something. Oh, wait… yup, there I go. Tears running down my cheeks, just like that. :(

  • Katharine Ellis Tapley

    I can’t watch that episode of Futurama. I saw it once, and I cried so hard, that the next time it was on, I had to turn it off at one point, because I knew what was coming.

  • Tom Hodges

    The Two on this list that got to me more then any are Sam from “I Am Legend” and Seymour from “Futurama”. I saw IAL in theaters and when that happened, I wanted to leave. I was balling and it ruined the whole movie after that for me. As for Seymour, I can’t even watch that episode. It tears me apart.

  • Anonymous

    The book Tales from Jabba’s Palace actually has a short story about the Rancor keeper and his buddy, and it just makes the Rancor’s death even sadder.

    And the novelization of Return of the Jedi actually goes to some pains to make it clear that Luke thought he was doing a mercy killing.

  • Ailsa Clarke

    I’m gone, I miss my dog. Poor Seymour