Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

J - K

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

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

  • in an hallucinatory scene, lethally-wounded Vietnam veteran Jacob Singer (Tim Robbins) had a horrific experience in hell/purgatory where he was bluntly told by an Evil Doctor (Davidson Thomson) that he was dead ("You've been killed. Don't you remember?")
  • Jacob was then visited by his ex-wife Sarah (Patricia Kalember) and their two sons while in the hospital, as he asserted to her: ("I'm not dead, I'm alive. I'm not dead"). She responded: "Oh, Jacob. I still love you, whatever it's worth," but their reconciliation was dashed when a sardonic disembodied voice taunted: "Dream on" - causing Jacob to break down in tears, as he realized that her appearance was only a wish-fulfilling fantasy while he was dying (as he pleaded: "Help me")
  • Jacob experienced the ongoing trial of being reconciled with the death of his young 6 year-old son Gabriel (uncredited Macauley Culkin) while he was in Vietnam, when he remembered /imagined Gabe's death by an automobile when the young boy was picking up baseball cards he had dropped in the middle of the street while walking his bicycle
  • the scenes of Jacob being thwarted by demons into seeing his son again - until the next-to-final scene (in his old apartment bathed in golden light) in which he finally accepted his own death. In the tearjerking climax, Jacob spotted his dead son Gabe, who was playing with a red music box (playing "Sonny Boy") on the stairs - the boy looked up and greeted him with: "Hi Dad!" As they hugged, Gabe reassured his father: "It's OK" - followed by Gabe telling him: "Come on, let's go up" - meaning their ascension up the staircase into the golden light.
Ascending the Staircase Together in Golden Light - Jacob's Death
  • Jacob's death on an operating table in Vietnam was then revealed, as an army doctor stated: ("He's gone. He looks kind of peaceful... He put up a hell of a fight, though")

Jacob's Torment

Gabriel's Death

The Jazz Singer (1927)

  • the moving reconciliation scene in which jazz singer Jack Robin (Al Jolson) met his estranged dying father Cantor Rabinowitz (Warner Oland) and later decided to sing "Kol Nidre" in his father's place in the synagogue

Jack with Dying Father

Jean de Florette (1986, Fr.)


  • the sad scenes leading up to the tragic death of hunchbacked prospective farmer Jean de Florette (Gerard Depardieu), who planned to generate a temporary income of 2000 francs by pawning his wife Aimee Cadoret's (then real-life wife Elisabeth Depardieu) heirloom emerald necklace - however, his plans were dashed when she admitted that she'd already pawned her necklace away for 100 francs a month earlier to pay their expenses ("I had no more money. You bought many things: books, tools, bran for the rabbits"), since it had fake emeralds, not real ones ("The emeralds were fake")
  • Jean's desperate delivery of a prayer to God for rain -- and when it did rain in a faraway place elsewhere, it caused him to scream at God and berate him in anger and anguish: ("Thank you, God. But it's raining over there! The rain is over there! I'm a hunchback! Have you forgotten that? Do you think it's easy? Isn't there anybody up there? There's nobody up there!")
  • the scene of Jean's death after a dynamite explosion he set off while trying to dig his own well to get water to feed his crops, when he rushed forward into the smoke and debris and fell into the dynamited hole; his wealthy, covetous and cruel neighbor-landowner Cesar Souberyan (Yves Montand), who desired the property for himself for growing red carnations, had deliberately blocked the well spring
  • Cesar's nephew Ugolin (Daniel Auteuil) was grief-stricken with guilt over his own duplicity (he had been pretending to be Jean's friend): "It's not me that's crying. It's my eyes"
  • Jean's daughter Manon (Ernestine Mazurowna) showed tearful anger upon viewing the uncovered well by the greedy Cesar and Ugolin; she sought revenge against the two co-conspirators in the sequel film

    [Note: The film was the first half of a two film series based on Marcel Pagnol's novel L'Eau des Collines, followed by Manon des Sources (1986, Fr.).]

Jean's Prayer to God For Rain

Jean's Outrage At God

Jean's Death From Explosion

Ugolin's Grief Over Jean's Death

Jeffrey (1995)

  • in this gay oriented comedy, homosexual NY actor/waiter Jeffrey's (Steven Weber) opening line (in voice-over) under the title credits, that he loved: "I love sex. It's just one of the truly great ideas. I mean, just the fact that our bodies have this built-in capacity for joy, oh it makes me love God. Yes!" - but he was facing tremendous fear of the AIDS epidemic due to his having sex with multiple partners
  • fearful of contracting AIDS, Jeffrey decided to become celibate; Jeffrey's quick-witted, middle-aged, flamboyant interior decorator friend Sterling (Patrick Stewart) counseled Jeffrey, as a devil's advocate, to find a monogamous male life partner to end his fear of AIDS; Patrick had already done so with a life-partner relationship of his own - with his dim-witted boyfriend-lover Cats chorus member Darius (Bryan Batt)
  • then came the off-screen death of HIV-positive Darius (Bryan Batt) from a brain hemorrhage
  • after Darius' death, Sterling spoke to Jeffrey, who was experiencing feelings of sadness and fear in the face of his own impending mortality; Jeffrey had been concerned about what to do in his relationship with hunky HIV positive Steve Howard (Michael T. Weiss): (Sterling: "You know, Darius once said that you were the saddest person he ever knew...(he said that) because he was sick, because he had a fatal disease, and he was one million times happier than you"); Jeffrey replied: "You loved Darius, and look what happens. Do you want me to go through this - with Steve?"
  • Jeffrey turned to look at Darius' apparition from the afterlife that appeared in the hallway, to comfort him: ("Jeffrey, guess what. It's the tunnel of light you're supposed to see right before you die....Jeffrey, I'm dead, you're not...Go dancing...hate AIDS, Jeffrey, not life...just think of AIDS like the guest that won't leave, the one we all hate, but you have to remember...Hey, it's still our party")
  • there was a parting glance between Jeffrey and Darius, after which Darius added: "Be nice to Sterling" - he also directed a great big smile toward Sterling, who was smiling back

Darius' Apparition From the Afterlife to Comfort a Fearful Jeffrey

Jeffrey's Astonishment at Darius' Appearance

Darius to Jeffrey: "Go dancing...hate AIDS, Jeffrey, not life"

Sterling (Darius' Lover) with Jeffrey

Sterling Listening as Darius As He Advised Jeffrey to be Nice to Him

Jerry Maguire (1996)


  • cocky sports super agent Jerry Maguire's (Tom Cruise) admission of his love to his stunned wife Dorothy Boyd (Rene Zellweger) in front of her friends during a divorced womens' support group meeting in her own living room, stressing: ("I'm looking for my wife...If this is where it has to happen, then this is where it has to happen. I'm not letting you get rid of me. How about that?...Our little project, our company had a very big night. A very, very big night, but it wasn't complete. It wasn't nearly close to being in the same vicinity as complete, because I couldn't share it with you. I couldn't hear your voice, or laugh about it with you. I missed my wife. We live in a cynical world, a cynical world, and we work in a business of tough competitors. I love you. You complete me, and I just....")
  • Dorothy interrupted with tears: ("Aw, shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello. You had me at hello") - they embraced (viewed from outside the window)

Jerry's Admission of Love for Dorothy

Dorothy: "Aw, shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello. You had me at hello"

Couple Embracing (Shot From Outside Window)

Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

  • the extreme long-shot of Joe Banks (Tom Hanks) leaving his doctor's office during his lunch hour, after finding out that he had an incurable terminal disease; Doctor Ellison (Robert Stack) counseled: ("You have some time left, Mr. Banks. You have some life left. My advice to you is: Live it well")
  • Joe was so lonely for contact that he bent down and embraced a Great Dane being walked outside the office - with Ray Charles' mournful rendition of "Old Man River" on the soundtrack
  • he straightened out a trampled single daisy that was growing out of a crack in the pavement
  • the astonishing fever-dream Joe hallucinated, while drifting on an ocean raft in the Southwest Pacific, of a gigantic full moon on the horizon to which he bowed and prayed: ("Dear God, whose name I do not know - thank you for my life. I forgot how big. Thank you. Thank you for my life")
Joe's Fever Dream

Long Shot of Joe Leaving Doctor's Office

Straightening a Trampled Daisy Flower

Johnny Belinda (1948)

  • mute rape victim Belinda McDonald's (Jane Wyman) silent recitation of the Lord's Prayer in sign language at the bedside of her dead father Black (Charles Bickford)

Belinda's Recitation of the Lord's Prayer

The Joy Luck Club (1993)


  • the criss-crossing stories stretching over 30 years told by the "Joy Luck Club" (a mah-jongg group of four aging Chinese women in San Francisco) - Suyuan Woo (Kieu Chinh), Lindo Jong (Tsai Chin), Ying-Ying St. Clair (France Nuyen), and An-Mei Hsu (Lisa Lu) - about their lives in China and their coming to America and their relationships with their Chinese-American daughters
  • the hairdresser salon scene in which frustrated child chess prodigy Waverly Jong (Tamlyn Tomita) admitted to her passive-aggressive controlling mother Lindo how she never seemed satisfied with her: ("You don't know the power you have over me. One word from you, one look and I'm four years old again, crying myself to sleep. Because nothing I do, can ever, ever please you")
  • the scene in which abusive and demeaning husband Lin Xiao (Russell Wong) introduced and kissed his opera singer mistress (Grace Chang) in the presence of his wife Ying-Ying and their crying young baby son: ("This person is a whore, just like you"); Ying-Ying grabbed a piece of broken china and threatened him, although he ordered: ("Look at you! Disgusting! You make me sick! Clean up this mess! You hear me?")
  • soon after, the depressed Ying-Ying vengefully and semi-accidentally drowned her own baby son while washing him in order to end the connection between herself and her cruel and unfaithful husband Lin Xiao: ("He had taken from me my innocence, my youth, my heart, everything. So I took from him the only thing I could. My baby was so light in my arms because his little spirit had flown away. And with his, my spirit had also gone")
  • the scene of Ying-Ying's obedient daughter Lena (Lauren Tom) complaining to her dominating, miserly, bespectacled husband Harold (Michael Paul Chan) that their marriage was contentious, due to his continual making of financial lists and splitting things unfairly: ("Why do you have to be so goddamn fair? The way we account for everything. What we share, what we don't share. I'm sick of it. Adding things up, subtracting. Making it come out even when it's not. I'm sick of it....I--I just think that we need to change things. We need to think about what this marriage is based on, not this balance sheet")
  • the older and mentally-unstable Ying-Ying told Lena to demand respect and tenderness from Harold, or leave him: ("Then tell him now. And leave this lopsided house. Do not come back until he gives you those things [i.e., respect, tenderness], with both hands open")
  • the concluding scene of half-sister June Woo's (Ming-Na Wen) arrival in China for a reunion with her long-lost twin sisters, telling them that their mother Suyuan Woo was dead: ("Mama's gone to heaven...Four months ago. I'm so sorry. She loved you very much. I'm your sister, June...I've come to take our mother's place. I've come to bring you her hopes"); June accepted her Chinese heritage with them, and the sisters gratefully replied and hugged June: ("Our sister, our family")
Reunion Between June Woo and Her Two Twin Sisters
  • in voice-over, June narrated that she had finally found peace with her dead mother: ("It was enough for them and for me. Because really she was there and I'd finally done something for her. I'd found the best of myself, what she kept for all of us, her long-cherished wish")

Mah-Jongg Group

Conflict Between Lin Xiao and Wife Ying-Ying

Lena with Husband Harold

Kes (1969, UK)


  • the torment, bullying and abuse inflicted by older working-class brother Jud (Freddie Fletcher) on his younger brother Billy Casper (David Bradley)
  • Jud had given Billy horse-betting money for two horses, but he spent it on a meal of fish and chips for himself and was also planning on getting meat for Kes (his loving pet falcon/kestrel) although the meat was given to him for free by the butcher - and then the horses won the race, and Jud felt cheated out of his winnings
  • the scene of Jud's senseless, cruel and vengeful murder of Billy's beloved pet - the baby kestrel (falcon)
  • afterwards, Billy frantically searched for Kes, retrieved the bird's body from a trash bin, confronted Jud, and then dug a grave (with an axe) in the side of a hill, and buried his beloved pet

Billy with Kes

Kes Found in Trash Bin

Burying His Beloved Pet

Abused Billy Casper (David Bradley)

The Kid (1921)


  • the heart-breaking scene of an emotional separation in which social workers of the County Orphan Asylum tried to take The Kid (Jackie Cooper) away from his de facto foster parent The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin); he outstretched his arms from the back of the truck toward the Tramp
  • the Tramp's run across the rooftops and jump into the vehicle to hug, kiss and rescue the Kid

Emotional Separation of the Kid From the Tramp

The Tramp's Rescue of the Kid

The Killing Fields (1984, UK)


  • the tearful reactions over the plight of Cambodia (abandoned by the callous United States, and invaded by the vicious Khymer Rouge)
  • the close relationship between New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) and Cambodian assistant, friend and interpreter, Dith Pran (Dr. Haing S. Ngor); their separation when the Khymer Rouge took over Phnom Penh
  • the trials Dith underwent while a prisoner of the Khymer Rouge and his escape through "the killing fields"
  • the famous reunion scene on October 9th, 1979, with Schanberg's request for forgiveness: "(Do) You forgive me?", and Dith's memorable reply ("Nothing to forgive, Sydney. Nothing"), as John Lennon's "Imagine" played
  • the film's epilogue was provided in two title cards as the camera slowly panned to the left over the rooftops, and looked out over rice fields, followed by a still image of two refugee children (that changed from color to black and white): "Dith Pran returned with Sydney Schanberg to America to be reunited with his family. He now works as a photographer for The New York Times where Sydney Schanberg is a columnist. Cambodia's torment has not yet ended. The refugee camps on the Thai border are still crowded with the children of the killing fields."
Reunion Scene Between Schanberg and Dith

Schanberg with His Cambodian Interpreter Dith

The 'Killing Fields'

Kings Row (1942)

  • the melodramatic scene of playboy Drake McHugh (Ronald Reagan) waking up, calling to Randy Monoghan (Ann Sheridan) and looking toward the foot of his bed to discover that both his legs had been amputated by a vindictive doctor following a railroad accident ("Where's the rest of me?")
  • the embrace between legless Drake and best friend/doctor Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) while Randy repeated over and over again at the door: ("Mary, Blessed Mother of God")
  • the final triumphant scene of Parris running off to meet his new 19 year-old love Elise Sandor (Kaaren Verne) as Erich Wolfgang Korngold's music swelled at the end

Drake: "Where's the rest of me?"

Randy's Thankfulness: "Mary, Blessed Mother of God"

Triumphant Ending - Parris Running to Meet Elise

Kitty Foyle (1940)

  • the concluding scene in this 'women's picture' in which hard-working and self-reliant Philadelphia woman Kitty Foyle (Ginger Rogers) made her final decision before her mirror-reflection 'conscience': ("You're no longer a little girl, you're a grown woman now") with a snowglobe in her hand -- about her choice for marriage, either to (1) upper-crust philanderer and ex-husband Wyn Strafford VI (Dennis Morgan) who was on the dock ready to sail for South America, or to (2) struggling and idealistic Dr. Mark Eisen (James Craig) at the hospital - the scene provided an answer to the question
  • her note left with the doorman was about her choice of life's path: ("...I'm going to be married tonight -- (to taxi driver: "St. Timothy's Hospital")) - and the astonished doorman's last line: ("Well, Judas Priest")

Kitty's Mirror-Reflection - Should She Get Married?

To the Hospital

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)


  • the scene in which separated dad Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) read a heartless letter from "Mommy" Joanna (Meryl Streep) to their young son Billy (Justin Henry): ("Mommy has gone away...Being your mommy was one thing, but there are other things too and this is what I have to do...I will always be your mommy and I will always love you. I just won't be your mommy in the house, but I'll be your mommy at the heart. And now I must go and be the person I have to be")
  • Ted's heart-felt defense plea on the courtroom witness stand at a child custody hearing, admitting that he wasn't a perfect parent, but pleading that his ex-wife Joanna should not take Billy: ("Billy has a home with me. I've made it the best I could. It's not perfect. I'm not a perfect parent. Sometimes I don't have enough patience 'cause I forget that he's a little kid. But I'm there. We get up in the morning and then we eat breakfast, and he talks to me and then we go to school. And at night, we have dinner together and we talk then and I read to him. And we built a life together and we love each other. If you destroy that, it may be irreparable. Joanna, don't do that, please. Don't do it twice to him.")

Letters From Heartless "Mommy"

Ted's Courtroom Defense to Keep Billy

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

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