Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time


The Greatest Tearjerkers of All-Time
Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Brief Tearjerker Scene Description

Gallipoli (1981, Australia)


  • the senseless, suicidal bayonet charge scene of young Australian soldiers against impenetrable Turkish trenches in 1915, when message running soldier Frank Dunne (Mel Gibson) arrived just a few moments too late, and let out a scream of despairing anguish, knowing that a friend and other companions would be senselessly killed because of miscommunications and bad timing. They were all mowed down by Turkish machine guns as they charged ahead
  • before charging the guns, accompanied by Tomaso Albinoni's mournful Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ, Frank's friend Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) chanted the mantra that his track coach and uncle Jack (Bill Kerr) used while training him: ("What are your legs? Springs, steel springs. What are they gonna do? They're gonna hurl me down the track. How fast can you run? As fast as a leopard. How fast are you gonna run? As fast as a leopard. Then let's see you do it...")
  • the film's conclusion with the famous death moment of Archy - captured in freeze-frame at the instant of his death when riddled by bullets - the image slowly faded to black

Archy (Mark Lee)

Frank's Too-Late Scream of Despair

Archy's Death - Freeze Framed

Ghost (1990)


  • the scene in an alleyway of Sam Wheat's (Patrick Swayze) unexpected murder while Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) cradled his bloody body in her arms
  • the moving scene at the pottery wheel - to the tune of the Righteous Brothers' Unchained Melody - in which spirit-ghost/lover Sam tried to reveal himself to the grieving Molly at her pottery wheel
  • the scene of spiritualist medium Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) who convinced the bereaved Molly that Sam was trying to contact her by using Sam's favorite expression: "Ditto"
  • in the finale, Sam kissing Molly and bidding her goodbye before he passed on into The Light of heaven: (Molly: "Sam?" Sam: "Molly." Molly: "I can hear you. Oh, God." (They kissed. He bid goodbye to spiritualist Oda Mae.) Sam: "I love you, Molly. I've always loved you." Molly (tearfully): "Ditto." Sam: "It's amazing, Molly. The love inside, you take it with you. See ya." Molly: (responding likewise) "See ya. Bye.")
Final 'Spiritual' Goodbye Kiss

Sam's Unexpected Murder

Ghost Sam Attempting to Reveal Himself to Molly

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

  • the scene in which ghostly sea captain and lover Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), Gull Cottage's former owner who had been haunting the bedroom and thoughts of Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) in his non-flesh-and-blood form, bid good-bye to her while she slept, telling her that she must find her own way in life - and that she had only been dreaming of a sea-captain haunting the house: ("You've made your choice, the only choice you could make. You've chosen life and that's as it should be. And that's why I'm going away, my dear. I can't help you now...You must make your own life amongst the living, and whether you meet fair winds or foul, find your own way to harbor in the end...It's been a dream, Lucia")
  • the transcendent ending many years later in which white-haired, elderly widow Lucy died in her British seaside cottage's chair when captain Daniel Gregg reappeared, and greeted her with outstretched hands: ("And now, you'll never be tired again, come Lucia, come my dear"). Rejuvenated and young again, she walked off, hand-in-hand with him downstairs and through the front door into the afterlife with him
Years Later - Reunited In Death: "Come, Lucia, Come my dear"

Daniel's Goodbye to Lucy While She Slept

Gladiator (2000)


  • the death scene of the moving last moments of condemned, enslaved Colosseum gladiator "The Spaniard" (Russell Crowe), who had earlier revealed himself as vengeful General Maximus Meridius. In the arena during one-on-one combat with treacherous Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), he had already been stabbed with a stiletto (causing punctured lungs) and was slowly dying. Weary from his own wounds, Maximus saw visions of himself entering into his home's wooden gates in the afterlife. Before dying, he ordered Quintus (Tomas Arana): ("Free my men, Senator Gracchus is to be reinstated. There was a dream that was Rome. It shall be realized. These are the wishes of Marcus Aurelius")
  • as Maximus succumbed in the arms of Commodus' sister Lucilla (Connie Nielsen), his own ex-lover, he told her (his final words): "Lucius is safe." She urged him to go to his dead family: "Go to them." As he perished, his body floated upwards and he experienced visions of his family in the afterlife as they greeted him on a dusty road and he waded through waving yellow reeds. She reassured that he had greeted them: "You're home."
  • Lucilla's words to everyone after Maximus' death: ("Is Rome worth one good man's life? We believed it once. Make us believe it again. He was a soldier of Rome. Honor him.") Fellow gladiators surrounded Maximus and carried his body out of the arena

Lucilla's Address

Burial of Two Statues
  • the film's conclusion in which newly-freed gladiator Juba (Djimon Hounsou) buried Maximus' two small statues of his wife and son in the dirt of the Colosseum where he had died: ("Now we are free. I will see you again, but not yet. Not yet")

Maximus' Death

Visions of His Family in Afterlife

Glory (1989)


  • the film's moving score by James Horner accompanied by the Boys Choir of Harlem
  • the bull-whipping scene in which rebellious runaway soldier Trip (Denzel Washington) was punished - his back scarred from repeated lashings after being tied to a cart wheel - on false charges of desertion (he was looking for his shoes) with his steely eyes locked on white regiment leader Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) as a single tear flowed down his right cheek
  • the confrontation between ex-gravedigger Sgt. Major Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) and the angry Trip: (Trip: "So the white man give you a couple ot stripes, next thing you know, you hollerin' and orderin' everybody around like you the massa himself. Nigger, you ain't nothin' but the white man's dog." Rawlins: "And what are you? So full of hate you just wanna go out and fight everybody, 'cause you've been whipped and chased by hounds. Well, that might not be livin', but it sure as hell ain't dyin'. And dying's what these white boys been doin' for goin' on three years now. Dyin' by the thousands. Dyin' for you, fool! I know, 'cause l dug the graves. And all the time I'm diggin', I'm asking myself, 'When?' When, O Lord, is it gonna be our time?' Time's comin' when we're gonna have to ante up. Ante up and kick in like men. Like men! You watch who you call a nigger. If there's any niggers around here, it's you. Smart-mouth, stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger. If you ain't careful, that's all you ever gonna be")
  • the unit's pre-battle campfire spiritual scene in which Rawlins led the soldiers in prayer and singing - including Trip's confession: ("I ain't much about no prayin' now. Uh, I ain't never had no family and kilt off my Mama...Well, I just, you know, uhm, y'all's-- y'all's. Y'all's the onliest family I got...And uh, I love the 54th")
  • the stirring battle-cry "Give 'em Hell, 54" shouted by Union soldiers (led by screenwriter Kevin Jarre) as the Massachusetts 54th Regiment marched to launch a doomed suicidal assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina
  • Shaw's self-reflective moment as he looked out over the sea one last time and freed his horse
  • the scene of the frenzied assault on Fort Wagner after the men had been stirred by the death of Shaw in the midst of them, and the wounded Trip picking up the flag and the charge before he fell together with his commander
  • the regiment's progress as far as the inner sanctum, but ultimately destroyed and obliterated by the interior cannons
The Deadly Suicidal Assault Against Fort Wagner
  • the final image of Shaw's burial in a mass beach grave with his soldiers (including Trip next to him) - and the end credits shot of "The Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Regiment Memorial" relief sculpture by August Saint-Gaudens in Boston Common

Trip (Denzel Washington) During Flogging

Rawlins Confronting Trip: "So full of hate..."

Campfire Scene with Trip's Confession

The Godfather, Part II (1974)

  • abused and embittered wife Kay Corleone's (Diane Keaton) denouncement speech of her crime boss husband Michael (Al Pacino) regarding their marriage, admitting she'd had an abortion: ("Oh! Oh, Michael, Michael, you are blind. It wasn't a miscarriage. It was an abortion. An abortion, Michael, just like our marriage is an abortion, something that's unholy and evil! I didn't want your son, Michael. I wouldn't bring another one of your sons into this world! It was an abortion, Michael! It was a son, a son, and I had it killed because this must all end!")

Kay's Admission of an Abortion

Godspell (1973) (aka Godspell: A Musical Based on the Gospel According to St. Matthew)

  • the scene in which Jesus (Victor Garber) wordlessly bid all of his disciples farewell as he went into the garden to pray, knowing it was for the last time, as the aching, yearning song "On the Willows" (From Psalm 137) was sung by the cast on the soundtrack

Jesus' Farewell to 'Disciples'

Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

  • the surprisingly poignant tribute to the travails of the common man during The Great Depression number: "Remember My Forgotten Man", sung by Carol King (Joan Blondell) and by a group of down-trodden tenement housewives
  • the poignant number of the "Forgotten Man" undercut in the film's conclusion by the militaristic, gung-ho marching tribute to the United States

"Remember My Forgotten Man"

Greatest Film Tearjerkers, Moments and Scenes
(alphabetical by film title)
Intro | A | B | B | C | C | D | D | E | F | F | G | G
H-I | J-K | L | L | M | M | N | O | P | P
Q-R | S | S | S | S | T | T | U-V-W | X-Z

Previous Page Next Page