Remember when you were younger and were awed by the bright colours of film on the big screen? Life was a lot simpler then. You didn’t have to deal with this four-hour feature film bullshit or have to remember 100 different characters and their deep and meaningful backstories.

Until you got older and rewatched a few of your childhood favourites and realised just how traumatic it was. Oh, nostalgia. You messy son of a bitch.

Charlotte’s Web – 1973

Based on the novel by E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web tells the tale of Wilbur the pig – the runt of the litter – who teams up with Charlotte the spider in a bid to avoid becoming a couple of sausages. All the other farm animals aren’t the friendliest to begin with and Charlotte befriends Wilbur. She then starts weaving words into her web to fool farm owner Zuckerman into thinking it is Wilbur’s amazing creation.

The film tells us that pigs and other farm animals are sentient animals who do not want to be eaten or sent to the smokehouse. We also learn that farm animals are there to work and do not want to have fun and that spiders are unnecessarily feared and bullied. They are the undercast creatures of society who are just misunderstood (but I still crap my pants when I see one).

It also tells you that it’s okay to take all the credit for other people’s hard work.


Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory – 1971

We all know the story by Roald Dahl. Young Charlie Bucket finds a golden ticket and gets the opportunity to visit eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka in his Chocolate Factory. The narrative teaches all the classic moral lessons. Don’t be greedy, spoilt or obsessed with technology. But the original film had that one scene that is fucked up. All, “hey kids let’s take you into a tunnel of fear and despair.”

The psychedelic boat trip that lead to your nightmares. Made even worse by Wonka’s Jim Morrison style poem, and the moving images of insects on faces, fleeting colours, close-ups of bugs and then Wonka’s screaming face. But then you find out it was just an illusion and you’re left just as scared and confused.

Oh, and Uncle Joe tells us it’s okay to commit benefit fraud of sorts.

Bambi – 1942

kids trauma films

A Disney classic. Bambi is destined to become the great prince of the forest and is taught to walk and talk by his rabbit pal, Thumper. He makes friends with Flower the Skunk, and a fawn, Faline who he inevitably falls in love with. However, he has to battle another Stag, Ronno for her affections. After he defeats Ronno, he is forced to save Faline from a pack of wild hunting dogs during a forest fire. They then live happily ever after.

That one damn scene. The scene that gives you a lump in your throat. Although his Mother’s shooting never happened on screen, something much more gut-wrenching happened. You hear the gunshot. He keeps running, following his mother’s orders. He then turns around and realises his mum isn’t there. He searches and then his Dad appears and simply says “your mother can’t be with you anymore.” Bambi realises. A mess. It is up there with the death of Simba’s Father.

Fuck you Disney and your hatred of parents.

Bridge to Terabithia – 2007

kids traumatic films

Adolescent teenager Jesse becomes friends with the class outsider Leslie, and together they create a beautiful and magical world called Terabithia. With their imagination, they fill Terabithia with all manner of mystical creatures and rule as King and Queen. That is, until Jesse’s music teacher takes him out for the day and Leslie drowns in a river while visiting Terabithia. Jesse struggles to deal with the grief of losing his best friend and uses Terabithia as a way to help him grieve.

Rewatching it, it is clear that one should not approach any river or body of water on our own in case of an accident.  That is solid life advice that I can get on board with. However, watching a young boy grieve and trying to cope with the loss of his best friend is devastating. Especially when he is taking his pain out on his little sister, who idolises him and does not fully understand the situation.

The feels.

Watership Down – 1978

kids traumatic films

When Fiver the rabbit foresees serious danger in the current warren, he, Bigwig, Hazel, Dandelion, Blackberry, and Pipkin all search for a better home, facing a serious of horrendous situations on the way. Bigwig gets caught in a rabbit trap. When the rabbits discover Watership down, they are then involved in the notorious Efrafan War and must fight against the horrible warlord  – Woundwort. Hazel is caught by a cat. Bigwig is beaten within an inch of his life.

There is blood everywhere. Even in the sky. But then they live happily ever after. Until Hazel dies.

The first ten minutes of the film show Fiver’s horrific apocalyptic premonition of imminent danger, which quite frankly is scary enough. Their actual journey is an onslaught of unstoppable violence. The bloody battle scenes were not appropriate for youthful eyes at all.


Pokémon: The First Movie  – 1998

kids traumatic films

A  group of scientists try and fuck shit up after obtaining a fossilised eyelash of the legendary Pokémon, Mew, and create the clone Mewtwo. When Mewtwo realises he is going to be treated as a lab rat, he uses his psychic powers to destroy the lab. He then teams up with antagonist Giovanni, escapes and plots to destroy humanity.

When Ash gets petrified after placing himself in the firing line between Mewtwo and Mew to save the other Pokémon who are suffering psychic battle wounds, your heart was in your mouth. When Pikachu uses thunderbolt, again and again, to try and defibrillate his best friend, the eyes sting. Damn it Pikachu. Don’t cry. When Pikachu starts to cry, a waterfall of tears is inevitable. It is arguably the saddest moment in Pokémon history. 

(But don’t worry, he got better!)

The Land Before Time – 1988

Baby dinosaur Littlefoot befriends a three-horn, Cera, which leads to the demise of his Mother, he is left orphaned. Simultaneously an earthquake occurs, opening a deep ravine that separates Cera and Littlefoot from their herds. They then go their different ways in a search for dinosaur paradise, under the name of “Great Valley”.  Littlefoot’s journey is somewhat upsetting when Cera ditches him, but he finds companions along the way, and after a scary journey they find paradise and they all become friends.

Littlefoot’s mother sacrifices her life to save her son and Cera. It all gets too real when Littlefoot’s Mum says, “I’ll be with you, even if you can’t see me.” *chokes up* Death. Which is then followed by more death after the GROUND LITERALLY DIVIDES AND SWALLOWS DINOSAURS, TAKING LITTLEFOOT AND CERA AWAY FROM THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES. Then Cera is super mean and just constantly parrs everyone off.

For the love of God, though, don’t look up what happened to the voice actors in real life.

The Fox and The Hound – 1981

Kids traumatic films

When an orphaned fox (Tod) is taken in by Widow Tweed, life is pretty sweet. He has a best friend in next door’s puppy, Copper. Everything is going well until Copper’s owner, Slade, decides that they cannot be best friends as Copper is a hunting dog and they are natural enemies. They have different paths they must follow, but their friendship will always remain.

It breaks my heart when I think about Tweed leaving Tod. After a blazing row with Tweed, Slade threatens to kill Tod if he trespasses onto his farm again. When one of Slade’s dogs is injured in an accident, Slade vows to kill Tod. One of the saddest Disney scenes in history ensues. Realising that Tod is no longer safe, Tweed leaves him in the forest. When she takes his collar off and drives away, my heart hurts.

I am welling up as I write this.

Jumanji – 1995

kids trauma films

Orphaned siblings Peter and Judy are forced to move into their Aunt Nora’s house after their parents die in a skiing accident. The pair come across a really old board game, Jumanji. Upon playing it, the kids end up unleashing a shitstorm of monkeys, bugs, and rhinos into the world, and they have to see it through to the end in order to restore normality. They come across Alan Parrish who has been trapped in the game for decades and have to win it to free him and reverse the horrors of the game.

For a start, a kid is trapped inside a board game. He is sucked in there. And then there is Sarah, who is mentally traumatised by said game. We then learn that Alan’s Father’s gave up his business to search for his missing son, which had a devastating effect on the town’s economic climate. Oh, and don’t forget the man-eating plants, giant mosquitoes and monkeys. Earthquakes, and fucked up floor boards.

Did the film producers just want to give a bunch of kids nightmares?

Transformers: The Movie – 1986

kids trauma films

Set in the far-off future year of 2005, the feud between the Autobots and Decepticons has taken a turn for the worse on Earth and Cybertron (which has been conquered by Decepticons). Meanwhile, the planet eating Unicron – voiced by Orson Welles in his last role – is out to devour the Transformers’ home planet.

The TV Series was typical Saturday morning fare and hadn’t killed any characters off, although some “new toy” characters were never seen again after their one showcase episode. The movie did it GoT style and killed off some much-loved characters in a fairly graphic fashion. Adios Brawn, Ironhide, Ratchet, Windcharger, and Wheeljack, there’s a new wave of toys to sell.

Nothing in this world could have prepared the children of the 80s for the death of Autobot leader and surrogate father figure Optimus Prime though. Killed in a final confrontation with Megatron (who cheats and gets rebuilt as Galvatron), he was to make way for new leader Rodimus Prime. However, parents got into such an uproar that Optimus was resurrected twice and all later releases have a voiceover that says “Optimus Prime will return”.

At least he didn’t kill himself over a video game though.

Do you have any others to add to the list? Leave a comment below!

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