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 Tarzan (1999)
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 Spider-Man 2
4 Spider-Man
5 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, and 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.

6 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 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 works 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 afterwards, or even better ...more

7 Batman Begins (2005)
8 The Land Before Time

How did Littlefoot NOT DIE at any point during this entire feature?

9 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 being 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.

10 The Secret Garden (1993)

Set in 1901, this movie starts with a recently orphaned 10 year-old girl named Mary Lennox who, after the death of her parents, is sent to live with her uncle, Lord Archibald Craven's 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 and, aided by one of the servant's boys, begins restoring it to its former glory. Mary hears strange sounds of crying in the house, which she eventually finds to be Lord Craven's son and Mary's cousin, Colin Craven, 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 everyday with Colin improving every day.

The Contenders
11 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. For years there were theories that maybe one of the Romanov children might have survived, more specifically Anastasia Romanov, and so this Disney movie is partly based on that. The movie starts as a royal ball in the palace is interrupted by the evil sorcerer Gregori Rasputin and a bunch of revolutionaries who besiege the palace. 8 year-old princess Anastasia and her grandmother Maria escape in the confusion. While getting on board of a moving train, Anastasia falls and hits her head, making her suffer from amnesia. 10 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 ...more

12 Pollyanna
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 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 BFG (2016)

The BFG (which stands for Big Friendly Giant) is 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 Man outside her window, who 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.

15 Lilo & Stitch

TWO orphans is more tragic than one.

16 A Little Princess
17 The Witches
18 All Dogs Go to Heaven
19 Cinderella (2015)
20 The Jungle Book (2016)
21 The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993)

This film written and directed by Stephen Sommers is based on Mark Twain's 1884 novel Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mischievous Huck Finn is unnerved when his father reemerges after years away and kidnaps him in an attempt to take away a $600 inheritance from his late mother. Fearing for his life, Huck fakes his own death and escapes. He soon runs into his friend Jim, a slave fleeing his master. Together, the pair embarks on a raft journey down the Mississippi River, staying ahead of pursuers.

Does this count given that his father is known to be alive and hasn't technically abandoned him? Granted the effect is the same story wise.

22 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
23 Cinderella (1950)
24 Anne of Green Gables (1985)

13-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.

25 August Rush (2007)

A musically gifted orphan named Evan runs away from his orphanage and searches New York City for his birth parents convinced that his parents will find him through his music. He was born after his father Louis and his mother Lyla met and had a one-night-stand. Lyla's father was very strict and did not approve of her pregnancy when he found out. Following an argument with her overbearing father over her unborn baby, she is struck by a car, forcing her to give birth prematurely. While Lyla is unconscious, her father secretly puts the baby boy up for adoption, telling Lyla that her son died.

The opening scenes with a grown up Evan show him meeting a boy named Arthur in New York who was performing in the streets and he follows him back to his home in an abandoned theater where he is introduced to "Wizard" Wallace, a vagrant and musician who teaches homeless, orphaned and runaway children to be street performers. The movie also follows the child's parents with Lyla finding ...more

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