Top 10 Tear-Jerker Movies


It seems odd to think that many of us choose to spend our time in front of the big screen in tears, but crying seems to indicate a quality flick in many cases. Whether you are shedding tears of joy when the main character finally triumphs or lamenting the loss of a favorite, tear-jerker movies never go out of style. While my opinions may be slightly flawed (after all, I cried at Bambi all 17 times I watched it), I believe I can shed some light on the best films to rent if you want a good cry on a Friday night.

10. Old Yeller

There is nothing more touching than a boy and his dog and Old Yeller and Travis tug on our heartstrings from the first moment the two connect. Old Yeller proves himself to be eternally loyal to Travis and the rest of his family – even to the point of fighting off a rabid wolf. Unfortunately, the wolf means the long and painful end of Old Yeller and a devastating decision for Travis. It’s a multi-tissue movie that does provide a happy finale – thank goodness for all of us who suffer through to the bitter end.

9. Ghost

Forget the fact that Patrick Swayze is at his sexiest in this chick flick – the scene with the pottery wheel is sure to bring out the romance and the tears in all but the toughest. Dealing with the loss of someone close to senseless violence is a subject that most of us fear too much to ever think about too seriously, but Ghost handles the experience with heart-wrenching finesse.

8. Terms of Endearment

Isn’t this on everyone’s list of best tear jerkers? There is nothing sadder than watching a child die, no matter how old she might be, and Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine portray this scenario brilliantly. And how about the moment when Debra Winger bids farewell to her two young sons? Pass the Kleenex.

7. Gone with the Wind

After a four-hour commitment to the characters of this epic film, you would like to see at least one of them enjoy a happy ending. Instead, numerous characters meet their demise and the rest resign themselves to the devastation and hopelessness that lie ahead. Does it help that Scarlett shows renewed spunk and spirit at the end of the film? Most of us would have rather seen her end up in Rhett’s arms. Alas, poor Scarlett! Your life inspires more tears than a Shakespearian tragedy.

6. Romeo and Juliet

Speaking of Shakespearian tragedies, we couldn’t complete this countdown with at least one making our list. We are referring to the 1968 classic that won multiple awards the year it was released, including Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design. Who can hear the story of these star-crossed lovers without a feeling of profound sadness and many tears? The double funeral at the end finally brings the two feuding families together – too little, too late. Don’t even try to hold back the sniffles.

5. E.T. the Extraterrestrial

Rumor has it even male viewers have to whimper a bit at this movie. Steven Spielberg uses his mastery of the film venue to draw us in to the life of this extraterrestrial and the lonely boy Elliot who he develops a close friendship with. Tears are guaranteed in the scene showing Elliot standing by the motionless body of his companion in the medical facility where the two have been quarantined. And if you make it through E.T.’s near death experience, try sitting through their farewell without the tissues. It can’t happen.

4. It’s a Wonderful Life

Sure, the tears are happy tears at the end, but don’t we all deserve an uplifting ending once in a while? Especially at Christmas. I’ve watched this film every holiday season for the past twenty years, and I still get teary when that darn bell rings on the Christmas tree. Nobody can tug on the heartstrings like Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey and his adorable daughter Zuzu. Not bad for a film that could boast the title of the ultimate sleeper – enjoying unprecendented popularity years after its original release.

3. My Life

In this amazingly touching flick, Bob Jones (played by Michael Keaton) is eagerly anticipating the birth of his first child. When he is told halfway through his wife’s pregnancy that he has cancer and about four months to live, he begins to videotape himself to provide his child with the father he will never know in person. As if this tragic concept is not enough, the process of self exploration that Bob Jones experiences will inspire tears and laughter nearly simultaneously. It’s like an emotional amusement park ride that will keep you wanting more, even after the peaks and dips have left you completely exhausted.

2. Beaches

The two main characters of this film, brilliantly played by Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, find friendship transcends the challenges of life even to death. The two women share a long and arduous relationship at times, with many conflicts and much time spent apart. However, when push comes to shove, they are there for each other, which is what true friendship is all about. This movie should be viewed with your best pal, a bottle of wine and plenty of Kleenex to go around.

1. Titanic

This breathtakingly beautiful movie explores much more than a love affair that meets an early and tragic end. It explores the historic significance of this event, the devastation of the class system of the times and a society that reveled in sophisticated luxury and leisure. And then there is the gripping relationship between Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet). Who says youth is wasted on the young? These two lovers make every fleeting moment count together. By far, the top movie if you want a good cry with the one you love.

by Wendy Travis

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  1. chris boakes on

    lovely bones gets me every time….such a mix of emotion….its enough to make any man cry ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Yes, I think these movies are pretty sad, but you should add The Boy in the Striped pajamas. That movie made me cry my eyes out at the end

  3. ManWell from Philippines on

    – Kingkong
    – Cast Away
    – A Dog of Flanders (not actually a movie but a great tearjerker)
    – Titanic

  4. Peter Boucher on

    The ending of the greatest Western Movie ever made……”SHANE” (1953) with Shane on his horse and little Joey who idolized Shane and there talk with each other and then Shane riding off into the sunset as little Joey repeatedly yells out his name. My theory on the end of that movie was because of the gunfight in the saloon Shane was shot, didn’t show it and hid it from Joey. As he drifts off on his horse, he knows that he is mortally wounded.

  5. It seems everyone forgot “I Am Sam” this movie was awsome.
    I couldnt hold back the tears. Really sad but beautiful story.

  6. Marley & Me with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson was TRULY touching. In the theatre where we saw it, there were grown men crying all around us. I think it was because it really delved into the substance and powerful emotion of the bond between man and his best friend (dogs)…the memories you form with these loyal animals for years…and the heart break of seeing them go. It actually explored it in a pretty honest, yet emotional manner. I think the movie remains one of the biggest Christmas box office openers ever. I’d say aside from making ya cry…it was a pretty decent film.

    50/50 was also very a tear jerker because it got very raw at times.

    I’d definitely also add “Prayers for Bobby” to the list. Homophobia is not cool, and dang did this film explore that.

  7. Dead Man Walking! The ending is one of the saddest I have ever seen. I watched it in an airport on a layover. I’m sure everone there thought I was having some kind of breakdown.

  8. Titanic made me cry, A Walk to Remember, Notebook, Deerhunter made me weep buckets in the end..what else? Oh, there was this movie with Meryl Streep , in the scene she has to choose between her two babies which one to give up(i forgot the title)..MOulin Rouge, that one had me weeping like a child , Dying Young made my heart died also…

  9. A good number of those mentioned in comments I have to see! I am an American guy, but I don’t think I would be a whole person or parent, friend or lover without my empathy and the ability to show it… One question concerning Grave of the fireflies-what version should I see? Animated or one of the live actions? Thank you. Chas

  10. Rushmore (The dance at the end)

    Map of the Human Heart (The Ending)

    Tae Guk gi (The ending with the brother crying over his older brothers grave)

    Smoke Signals (The end where Victor throws his dads ashes into the river)

    The Passion of the Christ (The entire movie just about. Also the scene where Mary sees Jesus fall and remembers him falling when he was a child)

    Glory (The ending)

    Benji (I can’t remember which film it was, but I remember crying a whole lot at the end of one of them where Benji was almost left behind by his owner who kept calling out for him. lol ah, childhood memories…)

    Snoopy Come Home (Just about the whole movie)

    The Land Before Time (The whole movie had this harsh reality to it that still bothers me to this day and I’m 28. I didn’t cry at it because I was too shocked to understand the depressiveness of it. It’s even more sad today because the actress who played Ducky was killed by her father)

    An American Tale (This is similar to the one above. Dang, just about all of Don Bluth’s films were depressing and surreal. He took a nosedive though after all Dogs Go To Heaven though.)

    The Shawshank Redemption (The latter half of the movie)

    Bridge To Terrabithia (When the girl dies and the boy asks if she’s going to heaven)

    The Deer Hunter (The hunting scene towards the end)

    Saving Private Ryan (Ryan kneeling at the graves. Ryan asking his wife at the end if he has lived a good life)

    GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES (probably the saddest movie I’ve even seen…)

  11. Philadelphia (ending, with the home movies)

    A.I. (ending, where he’s reunited with his “mom”)

    Toy Story 3 (ending, last “playdate” with his toys)