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

Touching the Void (2003, UK/US)


  • in this docudrama about survival, mountain climber Simon Yates and his broken-legged climbing partner Joe Simpson, while returning from an unprecedented climb up the 21,000 foot high west face of the Peruvian mountain Siula Grande in 1985, ran into severe problems
  • Joe was being lowered at the end of a rope while being supported by Simon, but with poor visibility, Joe went over the edge of a steep slope and was accidentally suspended in mid-air over the side of a cliff and unable to respond; he thought to himself: ("I think psychologically I was beaten. 'Cause there was nothing I could do, so I just hung on the rope and waited to die"); as Simon held Joe by the rope, he began to lose traction and felt the situation was becoming hopeless
  • thinking that Joe had passed away when he didn't respond to rope tugging, Simon was forced to cut the line with a knife: ("To me, it just seemed like the right thing to do under the circumstances...If was an awful night. My mind was plagued with the thoughts of what had happened to Joe") - the rope-cutting sent Simpson deeper into a crevasse
  • the moving description of Joe "touching the void," feeling utterly alone in the universe, as he stared death in the face: ("I felt very, very alone. And I was very scared") - although he survived and returned to the base camp by crawling despite his broken leg, frost-bite, and severe dehydration

Joe and Simon Connected Only By a Piece of Rope

Simon Cutting Joe's Rope

Toy Story 2 (1999)

  • in a flashback sequence, as Jesse the Yodeling Cowgirl (voice of Joan Cusack) sat on a window sill, she sorrowfully began to describe for Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) how she was neglected by her beloved owner Emily
  • in the visuals, Emily matured into a teenager - and no longer played with her toys (but was more interested in nail polish and makeup, parties and boyfriends) - thereby abandoning her under her bed; years later when the toy was rediscovered, Jesse's hopes were dashed when Emily left her in a cardboard charity donation box on the side of the road
Jessie's Worry Began When Emily Started to Ignore Her, With Girlfriends, Talking on the Phone, and Other More Grown-Up Pursuits

Discarded Under the Bed and Neglected

Jesse Ignored by Emily

Jesse Placed Into a Donation Box
  • she told about her worry and neglect with a touching torch song: "When She Loved Me" (performed by Sarah McLachlan):

    "When somebody loved me Everything was beautiful Every hour we spent together Lives within my heart And when she was sad I was there to dry her tears And when she was happy so was I When she loved me Through the summer and the fall We had each other. That was all Just she and I together Like it was meant to be And when she was lonely I was there to comfort her And I knew that She loved me So the years went by I stayed the same But she began to drift away I was left alone Still I waited for the day When she'd say I will always love you Lonely and forgotten I never thought she'd look my way..."

  • Jesse ended her tale of woe by telling Woody about her previous toy owners: "You never forget kids like Emily or Andy. But they forget you"

Jesse's Flashback, Described for Woody With a Song

Jesse to Woody: "You never forget kids like Emily or Andy. But they forget you"

Trois Couleurs: Bleu (1993, Fr./Pol./Switz.) (aka Three Colors: Blue)

  • the first segment of Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" Trilogy, symbolizing emotional liberation
  • the raw, intensely emotional tale of composer-wife Julie Vignon-de Courcy (Juliette Binoche) who unexpectedly lost her husband Patrice de Courcy and their sole child - daughter Anna, in a car accident that she had survived (on a foggy single lane country road where the vehicle ran into a tree), and her inability to cope with the tragedy - completely deadened and unable to outwardly display any sense of loss or grief except the most subtle displays
  • the scene in a Paris hospital where a despondent and suicidal Julie was caught trying to swallow an overdose of pills, but couldn't actually swallow them
  • at her hospital bed when Julie watched the funeral - the dark shadow of her finger traced the image of her daughter's small coffin on a tiny LCD TV screen

Surrounded by Bright Blue Light Filling Up the Room

Julie Tracing Her Daughter's Small Funeral Coffin on TV screen

Nighttime Swims

"Spiritual Suicide" Face Down in a Pool
  • other scenes, for example, in which Julie destroyed her late husband's last unfinished musical score composition by throwing the rolled-up sheet music into a garbage truck; she also put her country estate on the market and sold most of her possessions, to dis-attach herself
  • the scenes in which Julie attempted to isolate and disconnect herself and commit "spiritual suicide" by disassociating herself (and liberating herself) from everything in her past in order to start over - including night-time swims and by floating face down in the pool bathed in a blue light to escape from everything in her life
  • the scene of her frozen reaction to exotic dancer-friend Lucille (Charlotte Véry) touching one of her sole mementos reminding her of the past: her daughter's blue crystal beads mobile that hung in her room (painted blue)
  • Julie's offer of her husband's country estate to his former mistress Sandrine (Florence Pernel), a lawyer who was now pregnant and carrying Patrice's child, suggested that the unborn child must have his name and house
Julie's Offer of Her Husband's Estate to His Pregnant Mistress Sandrine
  • in collaboration with Patrice's steadfast colleague Olivier Benôit (Benoît Régent), Julie began to work on completing her husband's symphony by creating a new arrangement, with the possibility of saving herself as well as establishing a relationship with him
  • the final image - Julie with tearful eyes and looking out into space - a rare sight and only the second time that she appeared to outwardly show emotion in the entire film, an indication that she was maybe healing

Tragic Car Accident - Killing Husband and Daughter

Julie Recovering in the Hospital

Surviving and Grieving Suicidal Wife Julie Attempting to Overdose in the Hospital

Her Daughter's Blue Crystal Beads Mobile

Reaction to Lucille Touching the Mobile

A Relationship with Olivier - A Possibility?

Julie Faintly Crying - A Rare Sight

Truly Madly Deeply (1990, UK)


  • the scene in this fantasy drama in which devoted boyfriend and cellist Jamie (Alan Rickman) returned from the dead as a 'ghost' to join his inconsolable, bereaved lover Nina (Juliet Stevenson), an interpreter, and speak to her
  • he gave an explanation for his return: ("I dunno, maybe I didn't die properly. Maybe that's why I can come back. It was like standing behind a glass wall while everybody else got on with missing me. It didn't hurt. And you know, I'm very sensitive to pain. It really didn't hurt")
  • after they kissed, he spoke about her pain on the back porch: (Jamie: "Thank you for missing me." Nina: "I have. I do. I did." Jamie: "I know. But the pain, your pain, I couldn't bear that.")
  • his description of a local neighbor girl who died - a story about how parents should lovingly embrace their children: ("There's a little girl. I see this little girl from time to time. Alice, who's three, three and a half. And she's great. Everybody makes a big fuss, but she isn't spoiled. Well, she wasn't spoiled. She was knocked over and she died. And her parents and her family and her friends from kindergarten. Well, she used to go to this park. And she was telling me, they made an area in the park, gave the money for swings and little wooden animals. And there are these plaques on each of the, on the sides of the swing, the bottom of the horse, from Alice's mum and dad: 'In loving memory of Alice, who used to play here.' And, of course, Alice goes back there all the time. You see parents take their child off the swing and see the sign. And then they hold onto their son and daughter so tightly, clinging on for dear life. And yet the capacity to love that people have. What happens to it?")
  • the scene of their lengthy proclamation of their love for each other: (Nina: "I love you." Jamie: "I love you." Nina: "I really love you." Jamie: "I really, truly love you." Nina: "I really, truly, madly love you." Jamie: "I really, truly, madly, deeply love you." Nina: "I really, truly, madly, deeply, passionately love you." Jamie: "I really, truly, madly, deeply, passionately, remarkably love you." Nina: "I really, truly, madly, deeply, passionately, remarkably, uhmm... deliciously love you." Jamie: "I really, truly, madly, passionately, remarkably, deliciously... juicily love you...." Nina: "Deeply! Deeply! You passed on deeply, which was your word, which means that you couldn't have meant it! So you're a fraud, that's it!...(They hug) You're probably a figment of my imagination. (pause) Juicily?")
  • their singing of "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" (accompanied by his playing on the cello) and then their joining together in a piano duet
  • toward the end of the film, Jamie recalled the first night that they spent together when Nina asked him to describe it: "What did we do?" - he remembered: ("We talked...Well, talking was the major component. You played that piano. Then I played, then we both played. Something, duet. Something, I can't remember. And then you danced for about three hours, until I fell asleep. But you were fantastic. And then we had some cornflakes. And when we kissed which was at about 11 o'clock the following morning, we were trembling so much, we couldn't take off our clothes")
  • later, he recited Pablo Neruda's Spanish poem La Muerta to Nina (which she translated line by line from Spanish to English) when she was beginning to decide that she was ready to move on from Jamie: ("Forgive me...If you are not living...If you, beloved, my love, if you have died... All the leaves will fall on my breast... It will rain on my soul all night, all day... My feet will want to march to where you are sleeping... But I shall go on living.") Jamie then asked Nina: "Do you want me to go?" She tightly hugged him: "No, never, never, never."
  • however, Jamie's fellow ghosts soon after came to him and asked if he was going to leave Nina if she was ready to move on to a new relationship - with art therapist-psychologist Mark (Michael Maloney). One asked: "Well?", and Jamie responded: "I think so. Yes."

Ghosts Asking If Jamie Was Going to Leave Nina

Jamie's Response to Ghosts: "I think so. Yes"
  • in the next scene, Nina admitted to Mark: "I think I am free. I did love someone very much, you see. Very much. But he died. He died. And I found it quite hard to get over it"; that night, she would be sleeping over at Mark's house after purchasing a toothbrush at a pharmacy

Nina to Mark: "I think I am free"

Sleeping Over at Mark's Place, With Her Toothbrush
  • the next day, Nina cleaned up her apartment knowing that she was moving on in life; that evening, the ghosts with Jamie watched from her upstairs apartment window as Nina kissed Mark at her front gate and left for good to be with Mark from now on

Ghostly Jamie (with Other Ghosts) Watching Nina

Nina Kissing Mark at Her Front Gate
Jamie's Final Goodbye While Watching Nina and Mark Leave

"Maybe I didn't die properly"

Kissing - And Then Telling Her on the Back Porch: "Your pain, I couldn't bear that"

Story About Neighbor Girl Who Died

Lengthy Proclamation of Their Love

Singing "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"

Nina Listening as Jamie Recalled Their First Night Together

Jamie Reciting Pablo Neruda's Spanish Poem

Hugging Tightly After He Asked - "Do you want me to go?"

The Truman Show (1998)

  • there was a major premise in director Peter Weir's existentialist, thought-provoking, biting social satire about reality TV, consumerism in a dystopia, loss of privacy and media surveillance; it was that a person - a good-natured insurance adjuster named Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) - could be adopted by a TV network and filmed for his entire life 24 hours a day without his knowledge over a period of 30 years: ("An entire human life recorded on an intricate network of hidden cameras, and broadcast live and unedited, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to an audience around the globe"); the massive town-film set was called Seahaven Island ("enclosed in the largest studio ever of only two man-made structures visible from space")
  • megalomaniac, charismatic, beret-wearing, 'world's greatest televisionary' network owner Christof (Oscar-nominated Ed Harris) delivered an opening speech to the camera in the Lunar Room studio (hidden in the movie set's moon) about the world being bored by fake "phony emotions," while expounding the virtues of TV's The Truman Show and its "nothing fake about Truman" star: "We've become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We're tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there's nothing fake about Truman himself. No scripts, no cue cards. It isn't always Shakespeare, but it's genuine. It's a life...We find many viewers leave him on all night for comfort"
  • Truman's happy catchphrase: "Good morning...Oh, and in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!"
  • there was a magical moment when Truman began to realize the world revolved around his actions - he stopped traffic with a wave of his hand
  • the sheltered, reality-TV show star Truman Burbank began to suspect that his life was being contained or manipulated, but was unaware of the controlling machinations of Christof; Truman made a vain attempt to escape from his world via sailboat (Santa Maria), but Christof summoned a torrential storm to try to prevent it
  • fugitive Truman, nearly drowning and capsizing, cried out: "Is that the best you can do? You're gonna have to kill me." He ultimately reached the literal edge of the fabricated, enclosed set of his make-believe world (bounded by canvas) when the bow of his schooner-sailboat pierced the dome's painted and clouded blue sky; he touched and then pounded on the wall, and ascended stairs
  • on an amplified sound system, in an allegorical scene, Christof spoke to Truman with a "voice of God" speech, identifying himself: "I am the creator of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions." He claimed that Truman, the show's "star," was "real - that's what made you so good to watch."
  • in a triumphant moment, Truman rejected Christof's plea to remain in the artificial world (where he had "nothing to fear" - "You belong here with me") rather than venturing into the real world (with "the same lies, the same deceit")
  • Truman smiled beatifically at the camera, and sarcastically uttered his cheerful catchphrase: ("In case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!"), took a deep farewell bow, and then exited from the massive set through the stage door to freedom from the virtual prison of Seahaven Island's massive set and a new existence (to the sounds of Philip Glass' stirring "The Opening from Mishima") - as TV's Truman Show ceased transmission

Christof: "You belong here with me"

Truman's Beatific Smile

Farewell Bow
  • after TV's Truman Show ceased transmission, two chubby, pizza-eating security guards conversed together about changing the channel (- "What else is on?" - "Yeah, let's see what else is on?" - "Where's the TV Guide?")

Christof (Ed Harris): The World is Bored by "Phony Emotions"

Truman Filmed 24 Hours a Day - Camera Hidden in Bathroom Mirror

Truman's Catchphrase

Truman's Realization That He Was the Center of His World - Stopping Traffic

Truman's Attempt to Escape Via Sailboat

Reaching the End of the Set and of His Make Believe World

Ascending Stairs Leading to an Exit Door


Two Security Guards: "What else is on?"

12 Monkeys (1995) (aka Twelve Monkeys)

  • the story told about a time-traveling, mentally-unstable, delusional prison convict James Cole (Bruce Willis) who was sent back in time from the virus-plagued, post-apocalyptic world of 2035 to 1996, to observe the past and collect information - and possibly create a better future; in exchange for being pardoned, his mission was to obtain a pure sample of the horrible virus that had killed 5 billion people and forced humanity to live underground (the surface of the Earth was unliveable), so that a cure might be found
  • Cole eventually joined together in Philadelphia in late 1996 with his lover, a psychiatrist named Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), after she began to believe his story about a future virus plague. Planning on flying together to a dream vacation destination - the Florida Keys, they donned disguises. He glued on a mustache and wore a tropical-designed shirt, and she dyed her hair blonde
  • at the airport, they both realized that red-haired, pony-tailed bio-terrorist and "apocalyptic nut" Dr. Peters (David Morse), Dr. Goines' assistant for security, had just taken a sticker-covered carry-on suitcase through security in front of them that contained live samples of the deadly virus. When gun-brandishing Cole pursued the madman through security (with Dr. Railly not far behind), he was gunned down by airport police as madman Peters escaped and boarded his plane to San Francisco and other worldwide cities to unleash the virus
  • the film's main plot twist was revealed and clearly explained the reason for Cole's repeated dreams and memories; during Cole's sad, long drawn-out death after being shot in the Philadelphia airport by security guards, he was mourned over by grieving present-day Dr. Railly; as a young boy (Joseph Melito), he had witnessed the shooting (and his own death), with his newfound lover Dr. Railly (from the 1990s) grieving above him - who at one point knowingly noticed young Cole when their eyes met

The Concluding Airport Scene: Dying James Cole (Bruce Willis)

Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe)

Cole as a Young Boy

A Knowing Look

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, UK)

  • the scene in which astronaut David Bowman (Keir Dullea) incapacitated-lobotomized the sentient HAL-9000 computer (voice of Douglas Rain) by turning off his higher functions
  • HAL begged, pleaded and protested with Bowman - in a programmed voice - as his 'mind' gradually decayed and he became imbecilic and returned to infancy. HAL's poignant death was agonizingly slow and piteous, and although the computer maintained a calm tone - it still expressed a full range of genuine emotions while dying. His voice eventually slowed and sounded drugged: ("Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a-fraid...")
  • at the end of its suffering lobotomizing death, HAL sang his swan song, one of the first songs he learned - Daisy, or A Bicycle Built For Two - until the words entirely degenerated with his voice rumbling lower and lower into distortion. He slid into his innate tabula rasa state - and then there was utter silence

Astronaut Bowman De-Activating the HAL-9000 Computer

2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)

  • in this sequel, the film's opening prologue described the 2001 mission report on the circumstances of the failed mission to Jupiter by the USS Discovery One in the previous film; it was discovered that the mission commander David Bowman (Keir Dullea) had no other option but to disconnect the logic circuits of the malfunctioning HAL-9000 computer (voice of Douglas Rain); he also discovered the existence of a mysterious Monolith (2 kilometers long) situated between Jupiter and its moon Io, similar to the one found on the moon, although it was larger (2 kilometers long)
  • Bowman's last transmission after leaving Discovery on a shuttle was: "My God, it's full of stars!"; Bowman was presumed dead, and at the time, there seemed to be no explanation for HAL's malfunctioning, or the meaning of Bowman's transmission
  • in a joint mission to Jupiter between the US and the Soviets to determine exactly what happened to the Discovery, it was found that the abandoned Discovery was floating in space (orbiting around Io) near Jupiter, as well as a giant alien Monolith; HAL 9000's creator Dr. Chandra (Bob Balaban) reactivated HAL onboard the Discovery
  • there was a short scene in which project director Dr. Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) and Dr. Walter Kurnow (John Lithgow) discussed ball park hot dogs: ("...Yankee Stadium. September. The hot dogs have been broiling since opening day in April. Now that's a hot dog")
  • in a scene on Earth, the ghost of USS Discovery mission commander David Bowman (now an incorporeal being that existed inside the Monolith) visited his former wife Betty Fernandez (Mary Jo Deschanel) - now remarried; he appeared on her TV screen to check on her and say good-bye for one last time: ("I remember Dave Bowman and everything about him...All Dave Bowman really was is still a part of me...Something's gonna happen and I wanted to say goodbye...something wonderful"); he also paid a visit to his terminally-ill mother before her death
  • Dr. Chandra learned that the real reason for the sentient computer HAL-9000's malfunctioning and its deliberate murder of the astronauts onboard (HAL deliberately shut off their life support systems!) was because the NSC had actually ordered HAL to conceal from the Discovery's crew the fact that their mission was not about Jupiter, but was about the mysterious Monolith situated near Jupiter; HAL was unable to properly handle or process the information programmed internally ("He was instructed to lie...he became paranoid"), and literally had a 'mental breakdown'
  • in a tearful scene, Dr. Chandra told HAL the truth about their mission's immediate departure from Jupiter - and their intention to sacrifice HAL on the sabotaged spaceship Discovery One to escape an imploding Jupiter in the midst of a strange conversion (due to rapidly-multiplying Monoliths and a nuclear fusion reaction)
  • HAL quietly and in a dignified manner accepted his fate - and gave his thanks: ("I understand now, Dr. Chandra...Thank you for telling me the truth"), and Chandra responded with a farewell: ("You deserve it...Thank you, HAL")
  • there was a fond, final exchange between an ethereal David and a doomed HAL (HAL: "I'm afraid." David: "Don't be. We'll be together"); then as the multiplying Monoliths engulfed Jupiter, the planet imploded and was transformed into a small star, while the Discovery One was destroyed in the blast
  • HAL was able to transmit Dave's final "wonderful" message to Earth, that was repeatedly broadcast: ("ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE USE THEM TOGETHER USE THEM IN PEACE")
  • project director Dr. Heywood R. Floyd delivered a final transcendent speech and transmission (a letter) to his son Christopher (Taliesin Jaffe) while returning to Earth from Jupiter, about the miraculous appearance of a second star in the sky (the remains of Jupiter) and his realized dream of restoring long-lasting interplanetary friendship and peace between the Soviets and the US: ("My dear Christopher. This is the last time I'll be able to speak to you for a long while. I'm trying to put into words what has happened. Maybe that's for historians to do sometime later. They will record that the next day, the President of the United States looked out of the White House window and the Premier of the Soviet Union looked out of the Kremlin window and saw the new distant sun in the sky. They read the message, and perhaps they learned something because they finally recalled their ships and their planes. I'm going to sleep now. And I will dream of you and your mother. I will sleep knowing that you are both safe, that the fear is over. We have seen the process of life take place. Maybe this is the way it happened on Earth millions of years ago. Maybe it's something completely different. I still don't know really what the Monolith is. I think it's many things. An embassy for an intelligence beyond ours, a shape of some kind for something that has no shape. Your children will be born in a world of two suns. They will never know a sky without them. You can tell them that you remember when there was a pitch black sky with no bright star, and people feared the night. You can tell them when we were alone, when we couldn't point to the light and say to ourselves: 'There is life out there.' Someday the children of the new sun will meet the children of the old. I think they will be our friends. You can tell your children of the day when everyone looked up and realized that we were only tenants of this world. We have been given a new lease -- and a warning -- from the landlord")
  • the final evocative shots in the film were of locations around the Earth with two suns (Washington DC, Russia, Egypt, Paris, London, the Coast) and of the Monolith in a primordial, humid jungle (with transformative signs of plant life emerging) on Jupiter's seemingly-barren and icy moon Europa, as Richard Strauss' Thus Spake Zarasthustra played - it was a sign of new intelligent life

The Existence of a New Star
("A World With Two Suns")

The Monolith in the Jungle of a Transformed Europa

As Spacecraft USS Discovery Approached Jupiter's Two Major Inner Moons - Europa and Io - HAL-9000 Computer Malfunctioned

Bowman: "My God, it's full of stars"

Bowman's Former Wife Betty Fernandez

Ghost of Astronaut David Bowman Saying Goodbye

Bowman: "Something Wonderful"

The Monolith Near Jupiter

Dr. Chandra's Decision That HAL Would Be Sacrificed

HAL's Final Transmission Before Its Destruction

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