1. Sid Blows Up Combat Carl ('Toy Story')
Looking back in retrospect, Sid blowing up Combat Carl isn’t terribly shocking. As we’ve since learned in Toy Story’s two sequels, 1999’s Toy Story 2 and 2010’s Toy Story 3, the heroes might be inanimate but they’re just as subject to mortal peril as their human counterparts. (Two words: The Incinerator.) But Combat Carl’s grisly demise marks a turning point in the Toy Story saga, as it’s the first time that we realize that any one of the movie’s protagonists could find themselves subject to similar treatment. The hapless soldier’s destruction instantly raises the stakes and ensures that Sid’s inevitable comeuppance at the end is far more satisfying than it would have been otherwise.
In the tradition of Disney classics like Bambi and The Lion King, Finding Nemo features the death of a parent as an important plot point. In this case, it’s the loss of Coral, Marlin’s wife and Nemo’s mother, prior to the opening credits that sets Finding Nemo’s storyline into motion – as her death (and also the deaths of Nemo’s hundreds of brothers and sisters) transforms Marlin into an extremely overprotective parent. Though the murder occurs entirely off-screen, the sequence is creepy and disturbing enough to leave viewers young and old alike shaken.
There’s little doubt that Syndrome effortlessly lives up to his reputation as one of Pixar’s most fearsome villains, as the character spends much of The Incredibles’ running time plotting against and torturing the film’s hero, Mr. Incredible. And while his dastardly deeds are numerous, Syndrome’s evil behavior reaches its shocking apex after he kidnaps Mr. Incredible’s young son, Jack-Jack – with his ultimate goal to raise the adorable tyke as his own sidekick. Syndrome’s plan is foiled, of course, but that hardly negates the inherently frightening thought of one’s child being abducted by a ruthless supervillain.
In a distant future, the Earth is no longer able to sustain human life. Our planet is covered in trash and garbage, and it’s up to one lone robot named WALL-E to somehow return the world to its habitable self. Shocking as that may be, the most stunning revelation within Andrew Stanton’s frequently jaw-dropping science fiction drama is that humankind has become a race of shapeless blobs. As we eventually learn, humanity has come to rely on technology to such an extent that we no longer do anything for ourselves (including walking or exercising). It’s a disturbing twist that’s also quite plausible, as it’s certainly not difficult to envision humanity eventually ending up that way.
This one’s probably the most subtly shocking entry on this list, but when you think about it, Little Bo Peep’s absence in Toy Story 3 is nothing short of flabbergasting. The first two films placed a rather heavy emphasis on the adorable relationship between Woody the cowboy and Little Bo Peep, and it really did seem as though the two were destined to ride off into the sunset. But, as we learn in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit of dialogue near the start of Toy Story 3, Little Bo Peep, along with Wheezy and Etch A Sketch, has moved on to another family and Woody is left with nothing but a memory of the time he spent with his beloved.