Top 10 Movies About Orphans

In all forms of storytelling, one of the most important aspects for a protagonist is that they must be likable so the reader, or in this case viewer, can feel compassion and relate to the main character. One way to do this is for the protagonist to be an orphan, because that instantly generates sympathy from the viewer. For this list, we're looking at movies in which the main character is an orphan after either being abandoned by their parents, or worse, after their parents' deaths. Many movies on this list are fun to watch and heartwarming so let's see which ones are the best.
The Top Ten
1 Hugo (2011)

In 1931 Paris, 12-year-old Hugo Cabret lives with his widowed father, a clockmaker who works at a museum. Hugo's father finds a broken automaton, a mechanical man created to write with a pen. He and Hugo try to repair it, documenting their work in a notebook. When his father dies in a fire, Hugo goes to live with his father's alcoholic brother, Uncle Claude, who maintains the clocks at the Gare Montparnasse railway station.

Hugo attempts to repair the automaton with stolen parts, believing it contains a message from his father, but the machine requires a heart-shaped key. Hugo is caught stealing parts from a toy store, and the owner, Georges, takes his notebook, threatening to destroy it. The store owner's daughter, Isabelle, tells Hugo to demand it back. Georges instead proposes that Hugo work for him to earn his notebook. The two kids become good friends, and it is soon revealed that Isabelle wears a heart-shaped key necklace. I'll let you guess what happens afterward, or even better, you could watch the movie yourself.

2 The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The darkest and most epic movie ever produced by Disney. I felt so bad for Quasimodo throughout the whole picture.

3 Anastasia (1997)

Another animated Disney movie makes it onto this list, and this one is based on a true story. If you guessed that it's based on the House of Romanov, who ruled over Russia and were murdered during the revolution in 1918, you are correct. For years, there were theories that maybe one of the Romanov children might have survived, more specifically Anastasia Romanov. This Disney movie is partly based on that theory.

The movie starts as a royal ball in the palace is interrupted by the evil sorcerer Gregory Rasputin and a bunch of revolutionaries who besiege the palace. Eight-year-old Princess Anastasia and her grandmother, Maria, escape in the confusion. While getting on board a moving train, Anastasia falls and hits her head, causing her to suffer from amnesia. Ten years later, Russia is under communist rule, and Marie publicly offers 10 million roubles for the safe return of her granddaughter. A conman named Dimitri decides to search for an Anastasia look-alike to bring to Paris so he can collect the reward. The real Anastasia is now 18 and leaves the orphanage she grew up in to search for her family.

4 Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

Three young siblings of the Baudelaire family are left orphaned by a fire in their mansion. The three kids are 14-year-old inventor Violet, her 12-year-old bibliophile brother Klaus, and their mordacious baby sister Sunny. They are sent to live with their distant relative, Count Olaf, who wasn't the children's closest living relative - that is, until he made it so. Olaf is a cruel, scheming man and is only after the inheritance that the eldest Baudelaire, Violet, is set to receive once she reaches 18 years of age.

5 Batman Begins (2005)
6 The Witches
7 Spider-Man
8 Tarzan (1999)
9 Lilo & Stitch

Two orphans are more tragic than one.

10 A Little Princess
The Contenders
11 Pollyanna
12 Spider-Man 2
13 Annie (1982)

This film is about an orphan named Annie who lives in an orphanage run by the mean Miss Hannigan. Annie believes that her parents left her there by mistake. When a rich man named Oliver Warbucks decides to let an orphan live at his home to promote his image, Annie is selected. She even gets to bring the stray dog Sandy she saved from street kids.

While Annie gets accustomed to living in Warbucks' mansion and is quickly liked by the staff and Warbucks himself, she still longs to meet her parents. Warbucks then makes the decision to announce a search for them and a reward, which brings out many frauds, including a couple Miss Hannigan knows personally.

14 The Jungle Book (1967)

One of Disney's best animated films, The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling's book of the same name, takes place in the Indian jungle and tells the story of Mowgli, a young orphan boy who was abandoned as a baby. Found in a basket by Bagheera, a black panther, he was raised by wolves.

His peaceful existence with his canine family is threatened by the return of the man-eating tiger Shere Khan. The wolf pack leader decides it is best for Mowgli to return to his kind, and Bagheera volunteers to escort him to a "Man-Village". Along the way, Mowgli comes across a fun-loving sloth bear named Baloo and has wild encounters with a giant snake, elephants, monkeys, vultures, and last but not least, the tiger Shere Khan.

15 The Land Before Time

How did Littlefoot not die at any point during this entire feature?

16 Cinderella (2015)
17 The Secret Garden (1993)

Set in 1901, this movie starts with a recently orphaned 10-year-old girl named Mary Lennox. After the death of her parents, she is sent to live with her uncle, Lord Archibald Craven, in his mansion in Liverpool, England. She was neglected by her parents, and it's not any different with her uncle. As a result, she begins exploring the estate and discovers a garden that has become hidden. Aided by one of the servant's boys, she begins restoring it to its former glory.

Mary hears strange sounds of crying in the house. She eventually finds her cousin, Colin Craven, Lord Craven's son, who has been treated like a sickly invalid his entire life and hidden away in his room. The three children grow close and spend their free time in the garden every day. Colin improves with each passing day.

18 All Dogs Go to Heaven
19 The BFG (2016)

The BFG (which stands for Big Friendly Giant) is a fantasy adventure film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg, written by Melissa Mathison, and based on Roald Dahl's 1982 novel of the same name. The story follows 10-year-old Sophie, who is living in a London orphanage. One night, she sees an elderly giant outside her window. He captures her and takes her to his home in Giant Country.

He explains that he cannot allow Sophie to return to her world and reveal the existence of giants. If she ventures out alone, she may be eaten by the nine much larger giants. Naturally scared at first, the young girl soon realizes that the 24-foot giant is actually quite gentle and charming. As their friendship grows, Sophie's presence attracts the unwanted attention of Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater, and other giants. After traveling to London, Sophie and the BFG must convince Queen Victoria to help them get rid of all the bad giants once and for all.

20 The Jungle Book (2016)
21 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
22 Cinderella (1950)
23 Anne of Green Gables (1985)

Thirteen-year-old orphan Anne Shirley learns that she has been adopted by a family in Prince Edward Island. Upon arriving in the small town of Avonlea, she is met at the train station by the elderly Matthew Cuthbert, who is surprised to find her there. Matthew and his sister Marilla had requested a boy to help them on their farm, Green Gables, but Anne was sent by mistake.

Marilla puts Anne "on trial" before deciding whether to keep her or send her back. She charms her new home and community with her fiery spirit and imagination.

24 Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
25 The Fox and the Hound
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