WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Saddest Cinematic Deaths

%name WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Saddest Cinematic Deaths

Arguments – they’re part of life. We’re all competitive beasts, never wanting to admit fault or defeat, and will go to great lengths when defending our honor when challenged or threatened. Arguments have started wars, shattered relationships, broken families, declared victors, but have also awarded respect. A win will always be a win, but longstanding respect and admitted defeat are far greater trophies than another tally mark on a record sheet somewhere. That’s where our story begins for this group of alcohol swigging, loud mouthed master-debaters (had to make that joke once, c’mon!), connected by our love of whiskey, which is only overpowered by our love for all things pop culture – cinema, music, television, gaming, you name it. Inebriation and verbal assaulting, how could this go wrong?!

Needless to say, all we do now is argue about pop culture and hot topics of the day. Despite sounding like the grunts and groans of a pack of psychopaths, we decided to translate our debates into a readable affair. This means that every few weeks or so, we will be posting our thoughts on upcoming releases and pop culture in general. Since agreeing is for peace-loving hippies, our arguments will be broken up into two sides, and the winner is decided by the readers. Yes, our fates are in your hands!

Before we begin though, allow us to introduce ourselves.

Christian: A nearly retired cop with nothing left to lose, Christian turned to bath salts and cat urine to deal with losing three wives and up to seven stepchildren (they were gingers though, does that even count?). Although it is true that he is extremely opinionated, Christian only pushes his opinions on those he loves most (especially you, dear reader). Famous for his last stand at the Alamo and ability to produce children with a single look, this is a man who should by no means be considered harmless. Aside from devilish good looks and cologne that doesn’t come in an aluminum can, his knowledge of everything pop-culture will leave wives crying for divorce and daughters breaking the locks their fathers rightfully installed on their chastity belts. Debating isn’t exactly his strong suit, but he did once defeat a whole debate team using only the power of a flamethrower, so maybe that counts.

Gem:  Gem has lived the secluded life of an academic, dedicated to a better understanding of critical analysis. Emerging from five years struggling to insert page numbers into Word, Gem indulged in the world of film to satiate her creative side – from which burst the need to obliterate those who do not agree with her inane, profane ranting. Her most critically acclaimed debate was executed at this year’s Comic Con when she swayed a crowd of riotous nerds into agreeing that yes, a coat rack could defeat Wolverine. The opposition doesn’t stand a chance.

Nato: Traveling back in time from a dystopian universe where pop culture debates are a game of life and death, Nato (formerly Natobombious Kick-Assious) continues to extend his unbeaten streak against the competition he now sees in three (barely) functioning alcoholics who devour useless entertainment factoids like the bottles of Jack taped to their hands. Matt can make a case for anything, but enjoys the new challenge of debate through writing, disabling his hypnotically enchanting “hair-flip” closing visual, typically bringing competition to their knees with one swiftly punctuated “swoosh.” Who needs a closing argument when you have great hair? You’re about to witness the great lengths he’s willing to go and mighty stretches he’s willing to make, abandoning all notions of self-respect just to deliver the most convincing arguments conceivable. A pop-culture chameleon, Nato can do it all. We promise we’ll do our best to contain him, but it might be too late already…

Alex: Formed from the recovered DNA of Stephen A. Douglas, Ben Franklin, and Socrates, Alex is an unstoppable force in an argument. Basically every epic speech in every courtroom movie/TV show ever was copied verbatim from arguments Alex has made. If the world listened to his points on abortion, gay marriage, or America’s healthcare system, all people would finally be in agreement. But why waste his talents on such minutia? It’s the world of the media that sparks the fiercest debates, and thus his fiercest opinions. But just because he’s such an eloquent debater in person doesn’t mean that doesn’t translate into his writing. Some argue the pen is mightier than the sword. Well Alex doesn’t write with a pen, he uses a sword to slice paper into the words that crush those who disagree. Whoever opposes him ought to fear for not only their dignity, but their safety as well.

Today’s Argument: Which On-Screen Death Do You Consider The Saddest?

With the glorious re-release of Top Gun in 3D this weekend, my fellow Throwdown team and I decided to get a little somber and honor those film characters that were lost all too soon. Be it from war, disease, dinosaurs, or evil brothers, there are a handful of cinematic deaths that deserve so much more recognition than others. Sure, every death is technically sad, but not every one is done right. These are the deaths we’ve all deemed tear worthy, but of course, we still can’t agree and it’s up to you to decide which one of us has picked the pinnacle of saddening cinema. We’ve made it a bit tougher this time as well as some of us have put forth two choices. This one’s for you Goose, my sweet, sweet angel.

Please note that the following article does contain spoilers for Saving Private Ryan, Up, American History X, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Steel Magnolias, The Land Before Time and The Lion King.


Nato – Captain Miller (Saving Private Ryan)

%name WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Saddest Cinematic Deaths

If you have a heart, a soul, a love for this country, and a f#cking shred of decency, then you cry like a baby every time Tom Hanks is gunned down in a blaze of glory at the end of Saving Private Ryan.

I’ll be honest, I get choked-up during the most random times, be it Joseph Gordon-Levitt talking to his dad right before surgery in 50/50 or more prominently mentally unstable characters trying to function in normal life (I Am Sam for example), but Captain John Miller’s death takes the cake when discussing the saddest on-screen movie deaths.

You can keep your P.S. I Love You arguments and animated movie deaths, because Captain Miller is a true American hero whom every citizen should model their life after. In his normal line of work, before gearing up for World War II, Miller was nothing but a simple English teacher, molding the minds of children. No one could suspect such a fearless and decorated soldier had such a mundane day job, but in battle, Captain Miller has literally no care for his own life – only the ones that surround him, but still manages to pluck our heartstrings by mentioning fond memories of his wife waiting at home, making his death all the more meaningful yet tragic.

Think about the mission he takes on. The whole point in saving Ryan is to spare his poor mother from losing her fourth son to the war, as we learn all three of Private Ryan’s brothers had died within days of each other and their mother would receive all three letters at once. A heart-wrenching scenario to take, Miller gathers a small group of individuals and marches into both allied and enemy territories to look for Ryan and return him home safely – even though no one has any idea were the private in question is located. Hell-bent on finding Private Ryan, Miller knows his mission is far greater than any military-based operation, and that a family hangs in the balance based upon whether he can complete his task successfully.

Sure, other soldiers lose their lives along the way, from Vin Diesel’s character getting sniped to Barry Pepper’s character getting blown up by a tank, but when Captain Miller goes down, your heart just sinks. Every soldier in battle has to be prepared for the worst, in this case death, but no man accepts that more than Miller. He never regrets for a second giving his life to save Private Ryan, and this is reflected when he whispers “James…earn this. Earn it.” Miller cared not if he lived or died, only that he could die with the satisfaction of knowing Mrs. Ryan could be consoled by her last surviving son, and he basically tells Ryan to make his sacrifice worth it. Triumphantly fearless heroics – what else is there to say?

Fast-Forward to James Ryan standing over the grave of Captain Miller with his wife. He asks her to confirm that he has led a good life and that he is a “good man,” making the sacrifices by Miller and his men worth it. One final salute to Miller’s grave right before the film ends all but ensures the water-works are turned on, and there you have the saddest cinematic death in any movie.

Hoo-rah Captain Miller, hoo-rah.

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Gem – Shelby (Steel Magnolias)

%name WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Saddest Cinematic Deaths

Those of you who’ve seen it cannot deny the amount of Kleenex required to survive this film’s entirety. A late eighties female ensemble set in Louisiana, Steel Magnolias hits all the marks required for a Southern comedy-drama. Women bonding (in a beauty parlour), gruff fathers shooting guns (out of the goodness of their heart), sharp wit (“Why are you in such a good mood? You run over a small child or something?”) and a heart-wrenching death.

We join the story on the morning of Shelby (Julia Roberts)’s wedding, as she and her mother M’Lynn (Sally Field) visit Truvy (Dolly Parton)’s beauty parlour. Along for the ride are newly-hired glamour technician, Annelle (Daryl Hannah) and the funniest odd couple since Matthau and Lemmon, Ouiser (Shirley MacLaine) and Clairee (Olympia Dukakis.)

Sadness and tears in film often present themselves as tragedy suddenly befalls a character the audience has fallen in love with. When you don’t know someone is about to die, it makes their death all the more devastating. This is where Steel Magnolias dallies with tradition and lets the audience know right away: Shelby is very ill. Death is not danced around, as Clairee tells Shelby she hopes she and her fiancé will be as happy as she and her late husband were.

The story glides through the seasons, and against the wishes of her doctors and parents, Shelby becomes pregnant. She fights with her mother, as all M’Lynn wants is for her daughter to be responsible; her body is weak. The only thing that will make Shelby happy is to have a baby and live a normal life. In what at first sounds like a throwaway aphorism, she pleads with her mother to understand: “I’d rather have thirty minutes of wonderful, than a lifetime of nothing special!”

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o STEEL MAGNOLIAS 570 WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Saddest Cinematic Deaths

Against the odds her baby boy is born healthy – and everyone’s lives are blessed by this miracle. It later is revealed the birth put strain on her kidneys and she has to undergo a transplant. M’Lynn steps up and donates hers.  It fails to take, and not long after Shelby goes into a coma then dies. It’s through the career-best performances by the actresses that we feel the sting of her passing.

That’s when the tears start. As Shelby slowly slips away, and the beep of the heart monitor recedes, M’Lynn holds her hand and strokes it with her own. As she drives to pick up her Grandson from his Aunt’s, to collect that little boy who is the only piece of her daughter left, the tears stain her cheeks.

At Shelby’s graveside, the women gather to comfort M’Lynn.  If you can watch this scene without unleashing torrents of tears than you may have contracted something (like a parasite) or possibly sold your soul to the devil.  As M’Lynn describes the moment her daughter died, you can sense your lip starting to tremble:

“I just sat there. I just held Shelby’s hand. There was no noise, no tremble, just peace. Oh god. I realize as a woman how lucky I am. I was there when that wonderful creature drifted into my life and I was there when she drifted out. It was the most precious moment of my life.”

When M’Lynn finally lets go of her anger and grief, you cannot help but feel that same swell of loss as she cries:

“I’m fine! I can jog all the way to Texas and back, but my daughter can’t! She never could! Oh God! I am so mad I don’t know what to do! I wanna know why! I wanna know why Shelby’s life is over! I wanna know how that baby will ever know how wonderful his mother was! Will he ever know what she went through for him! Oh God I wanna know why? Why? Lord, I wish I could understand!”

The earlier aphorism spoken by Shelby is echoed here, this time in her Mother’s place as M’Lynn has had her thirty minutes of something wonderful: her daughter. Her daughter, who sacrificed her own life so as she calls it, “a little piece of immortality” could live on. And with four friends surrounding her grave they represent the life Shelby desired but never had. Truvy, with her successful business and warm-hearted nature; Annelle, a young woman on the cusp of pregnancy and marriage; and Clairee and Ouiser, proof of life-long friendship.

There lies the real sadness in her death. All those she has left behind have attained the simple dreams she so desperately wanted to claim as her own.

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Christian – Littlefoot’s Mother (The Land Before Time)

%name WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Saddest Cinematic Deaths

I don’t remember a lot from when I was a child, but the very first memory I have is clearly ingrained in my mind: I was watching The Land Before Time in my basement, and after it was over, I ran upstairs and projectile vomited all over my kitchen. That’s not a joke, that seriously happened. I’ve always wondered why it had to be that classic movie that conjured this reaction out of me, and I finally figured out why: because it’s the saddest movie ever made for children.

Littlefoot is a “long-neck” dinosaur that is attacked by a T-Rex when playing with a “three-horn” away from his herd. Just before the big baddie can finish them off, Littlefoot’s mother storms in to fight off the T-Rex. She suffers a ton of bites and scratches, and before she can die in front of her child, an earthquake hits out of nowhere and throws her down a hole, because kids need to learn that they’ll lose everything at a young age.

If that wasn’t enough, Littlefoot actually finds her on her deathbed, where she manages to croak out that he needs to travel to the Great Valley on his own, with the T-Rex still at large. This is about the same of telling your only child to walk from wherever you are to Wisconsin as you die (we don’t have readers in Wisconsin, do we?).

Forget the fact that Littlefoot eventually finds a ton of friends, makes the trip and even kills the T-Rex on the way. Forget all that crap, because when you’re five years old, all that matters is that his mom is dead. Done. Gone forever and never coming back. Sure, her ghost leads the way now and then, but isn’t that even more tragic that her son imagines her ghost telling him where to travel?

When you’re a kid that fits into this movie’s demographic, seeing a mother die has the same effect as having a T-Rex come out of the screen and eat your own mother while staring you in the eyes. It’s just plain tragic. As a kid, I barely watched the movie after that first time I threw up because I was so scared to watch this child see his mother get mauled right in front of him.

Not to say that this isn’t a fantastic film, I absolutely love it and still tear up every time I watch it (shut up, you’re just heartless). But to find a death on par with the death of Bambi’s mother (spoiler alert!) in another children’s movie means that Hollywood is just heartless. Let the children weep, they’ll see the twelve sequels we put out straight to DVD! By the way, that’s not an exaggeration. Look it up. Twelve sequels, and a TV show. Suck it, Saw!

I’m sure there have been sadder deaths in movies before (Gooooooooooooose!), but none have made me vomit all over my house because of how sad they are. Or, you know, maybe I had a flu. Whatever, the point is, The Land Before Time is Les Miserables with dinosaurs, and I’ve lost more childhood innocence over that movie than those kids in Mystic River did.

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Alex – Mufasa (The Lion King)

%name WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Saddest Cinematic Deaths

I have no problem admitting I cry a lot during movies. Tears of happiness, tears of sadness, tears due to the pure epicness of what I’m watching, I’ve had them all. So the task of narrowing down which movie death made me cry the most was a daunting one to say the least. I went to the deepest darkest compartments of my soul where I keep all the jars of tears I’ve accumulated over the years. Once down there I found something astonishing. One movie had surpassed all the jars, surpassed even the gallon jugs I keep just in case. In fact, a full keg of tears was just waiting to be re-tapped. The label on that keg? The Lion King.

In case you’re completely heartless and thus confused, the death I’m talking about is that of Mufasa. Anytime a father dies, especially when his son is still a child, it will always be heart-wrenching, but the fact that Simba’s jerk of an uncle was able to convince that innocent little cub that it was his fault is absolutely horrible.

Simba is so distraught by his guilt that he runs away and eats bugs in the middle of the wilderness, far away from Pride Rock. Think about the impact that has on a child. The fact that he’s still a child amplifies the gravity of this death all the more. Not only is he a child though, but he’s a cute little lion cub. When he places his paws on his father’s lifeless body and calls out in a voice filled with confusion and grief I have a part of my soul torn apart every time.

Throw in Hans Zimmer’s hauntingly beautiful score that echoes through every inch of your being as you watch the little lion in that giant wildebeest-stomped chasm and you’re stuck watching with wide eyes as you question why those bastards at Disney felt the need to make you feel so bad.

I’d keep writing, but if any more tears hit my keyboard it’d be ruined forever.

RIP Mufasa

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Christian – Ellie (Up)

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Just mentioning the movie Up is enough to elicit tears from fans of the film. Pixar is known for their stable of emotionally charged stories (sans Cars) that can make adults cry while leaving children giggling uncontrollably. At the height of their legendary run, Up was released to a hoard of fans who quickly found that the silly premise was really just a cover for one of the most emotional stories ever told in film.

I’m being 100% serious when I say that the first ten minutes of Up make me cry every time I watch it. If you forced me to watch a week’s worth of videos of cute kittens supporting human rights, I would still immediately burst into tears the second I see that title screen. Up is easily Pixar’s most beautifully accomplished film to date, whether you make it to the end or not.

For those who don’t know what scene I’m referencing, then let me give you a quick overview: Carl, the grouchy old man who eventually floats his house away, is shown as a child forming a loving friendship with Ellie, an exhuberant young girl who shares a love for adventure with him. So begins the most perfect montage in film history, illustrating the life the two share together as they grow older.

Executed without either character speaking, this short sequence shows two people’s dreams coming true while their best-laid plans to escape to a tropical land like their favorite explorer keep getting put aside as real life intervenes. There is no better way to describe the experience than as perfect, because everything about it is done right. Every success, every heartbreak, every second of love is portrayed beautifully. It’s simply one of the most profound scenes in film to date.

The fact that Ellie’s death is so impactful despite the fact that we hardly know her speaks to how well done her part of the story is. I am here to tell you that anybody who doesn’t shed even a single tear during any of this is indeed heartless. That’s not an opinion, either. They’ve done science on this type of thing. Watch Up once for the incredibly well-done story, and watch it again if you forgot to read your Chicken Soup for the Soul today.

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Alex- Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)

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When it comes to cinematic deaths, usually the ones that tug at the heartstrings the most are the tragic losses of loved ones. The first deaths that will come to mind involve love for a spouse, or a pet, or a child, but what about the love that people have for their leaders and mentors? It’s inevitable that these older sages are going to die at some point, but that doesn’t make it any less sad when they do pass. And, it’s even sadder when the death comes much earlier than expected in the form of getting pulled into a bottomless pit by a Balrog.

Perhaps the saddest part of Gandalf the Grey’s death is the fact that now they’re out on this journey without their fearless leader. Not only was he comforting to the hobbits and the wisest of them all, but the journey was pretty much his doing. He was the one who decided the ring had to be destroyed. Now, they’re out risking their lives and they don’t even have the guidance of the only one with a plan.

The Fellowship hardly even has time to grieve properly. There’s no time to sit and reflect on their friend’s passing, especially not at first. His iconic final words are “Fly you fools!” That’s because if they took even a moment to mourn his death before getting out of the cave, there was a pretty good chance that they would all die as well.

Even once the group escapes out into the open air they still don’t have time to pay their respects, at least not properly. The scene where they do take a brief moment to cry is as heartbreaking as any. The music alone is enough to bring a tear to my eye, and that entire scene is sure to induce a good cry. But, they’re still in the middle of a quest with the fate of the known world resting in the balance. There’s barely a moment to remember how great Gandalf was before they have to get back on their feet and continue on for fear of being overtaken by orcs.

Sure, I get it. He comes back from death later on, and most characters who die don’t. But that doesn’t diminish his death in any way. When Gandalf first died, the characters didn’t have any idea that they’d eventually see him again, and people experiencing the story for the first time are just as unaware. Middle Earth is left without one of their best hopes for salvation, the Fellowship is left without their leader, and worst of all, they’re left without a true friend.

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Nato – Danny Vinyard (American History X)

2yltzxy WGTC Weekly Throwdown: Saddest Cinematic Deaths

What makes death tragic? Is it someone’s age? Is it how the now deceased person led their life? Is it your personal connection to the body being lowered into the ground? Characters come and go on screen, but some deaths stick with us like chilling ghosts who haunt our memories. No, I’m not talking about horror movies where the pot-smoking teenager gets slashed to bits by Jason, I’m talking about being haunted by guilt, grief, and righteous emotion. I’m talking about a death so stunning, your mouth is left planted on the floor, along with a completely paralyzed mind and that unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach. These emotions, plus more, are all brought on by the ending of American History X – rest in peace Danny Vinyard.

For those of you who need a refresher course in modern cinema, Edward Norton plays Derek Vinyard, a recently paroled ex-skinhead sentence for brutally killing two men who attempted to steal his truck. Before going to jail, Derek led a prominent LA white supremacy clan that acted out in bouts of vicious rage, but now that he’s out, Derek is ready to embrace a reformed life of peace. Unfortunately for him though, his past actions had serious consequences.

This is when we meet Danny Vinyard, played by Edward Furlong, who has embraced Derek’s past habits of racism and hatefulness, carrying on his brother’s legacy. Disturbed, Derek makes it his mission to prevent Danny from making the same mistakes he once did, steering Danny away from his regrettable past.

Danny is forced to take a class in school called American History X after showcasing his religious intolerance, and his homework assignment is simple – write about his brother. From here, we watch a series of flashbacks and current interactions between Derek and Danny, as the two fight about Derek abandoning his past and Danny embracing a dangerous future. Thankfully, an understanding is eventually reached, Danny has an enlightening change of heart, and he completes a character transformation worthy of an A+. Then, just as he’s ready to hand his paper in, he’s gunned down by an African American boy who proves sometimes we can’t escape our past choices, and Derek is left to grieve over his newly deceased brother.

Do I have to explain why this character death knocks the wind out of you immediately? Danny spent his whole life listening to Derek, idolizing him, and shaping his life around impressing his older brother, but suddenly that curb-stomping racist he once knew is completely changed into a wholesome civilian – and this strange, new man expects Danny to forget everything he’s been taught. Danny is a child, just a confused teenager looking for family guidance, but he only found an untimely demise brought upon by Derek’s poor lifestyle choices. Although Danny embraced a life full of anti semitic chants, skinned heads, and intolerable thinking, would any of that have happened had Derek been a upstanding member of society? Our choices don’t only impact ourselves, but they cause a ripple effect that touches those around us as well – which the Vinyard family unfortunately had to learn the hard way.

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The arguments have been made! Now it’s your turn, head to the comments section and weigh-in on which cinematic death hits you hardest emotionally.

Enjoy what you read? Check out last week’s article where we discuss the most messed up relationships ever caught up on film!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kserenyi Kenneth Serenyi

    Even sadder than having to watch “My Girl” as a kid (hey Anna Chlumsky was a cutie) was Macaulay Culkin’s character’s death.

    • juarhela

      I have not been able to rewatch that movie since the first time I saw it – simply because of that. That killed me.

    • Jessg517

      I remember my dad taking me to see My Girl in the movie theater when I was in second grade. When we got home that night I went and grabbed my blanket and a pillow and hid under the kitchen table because I was so sad about Thomas J..lol it traumatized me!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kserenyi Kenneth Serenyi

    Even though I knew Spock would come back later, Spock’s death scene in Star Trek II is still so moving and well acted, it deserves to be on the list.

    • JonRalphs

      Spock? You mean Captain Kirk.

      • https://www.facebook.com/kserenyi Kenneth Serenyi

        The original Star Trek II (Wrath of Kahn) ;)

  • The Deleted

    Optimus Prime! That s all I can say…

  • vangpo

    Animated deaths? GTFO of here with that. Little kids cry over cartoon deaths. I’ll go with Red Stovall (Clint Eastwood) in HonkyTonk Man, or Hooch in Turner and Hooch.

  • Darkstar

    Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby…choked up just writing that!

    • Voidsman

      Also Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino because the way it happened, and the conscious sacrifice he makes for the two kids and their family.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scasey Samuel J Casey

    Back with I was a kid, I gotta go with both Optimus Prime in ‘Transformers: The Movie’ (1986), and Atreyu’s horse Artax in ‘The Neverending Story’.

    • John “Ratty” Arbuckle

      Great choices! Unlike the ones by the authors of the article. Mufasa’s death is quickly passed over, Land Before Time AND Lion King have the “dead” character reappear as a ghost (lessening the “gone forever” theme), Steel Magnolias…well…I’m not a woman so I’ve never seen that one…..Top Gun? Get real, I laughed at that. Randy Quaid’s death in ID4 had more impact that Goose dying in Top Gun. As for Saving Private Ryan? I f*cking hate that awful movie. Almost as terrible as Forrest Gump, which also stars the insufferable Tom Hanks.

      • Junk Horder

        steel magnolias- read my comment i just left, then grab a copy & watch it. you wont burst into tears, but you will not regret having seen it.

      • OBKB

        You wouldn’t be less of a man if you watched Steel Magnolias, I promise. You’re missing out. It’s funny.

      • Pork McShutty

        Tom Hanks loses dandruff on a daily basis that is genetically 1,000 times more valuable to mankind than you are – not to mention more entertaining (the dandruff that is)

        • John “Ratty” Arbuckle

          Shut your cakehole. Tom Hanks is terrible.

    • http://twitter.com/gwyndra Jen

      Yes!! Artax’s death… that one always makes me cry. :(

    • ghost Echo Seven

      I hate the Swamps of Sadness to this day, thirty years later.

  • blubba

    I saw it once when I was about 10.
    Captain Courageous. When spencer Tracy is teaching alittle rich brat how to behave properly.

    Later in the film Spencer Tracy’ character is lost during an accident, not before giving some sage advice, both my dad and myself were fighting for the hankies. I still remember it vividly 20+ years later.

  • Aaron

    What about Obi Wan Kenobi?! This guy needs to watch more movies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andythewys Andy Estes

    Let me first commend you all for voicing compelling and poingnant arguements to support your opinions. Opinions which, sadly, are so very wrong that the grief they evoke can ONLY be rivaled by the SaddestMmovie Death of all Time. (Take note:Its always valid-er when you capitalize) Think of every dream help dear by the oppressed peoples of the world and roll them into one brief Hollywood Moment. Of course I speak of the death of the Russian XO aboard Red October. Sam Neil, who simply wanted an RV and a fat American wife. “I should have liked to see Monatana….”

    • http://www.facebook.com/andythewys Andy Estes

      Exscuse the typos…my tears have blinded me…

    • http://www.facebook.com/michael.cooney.1650 Michael Cooney

      Yes very sad

    • terpmd

      I definitely agree with the Lou Gehrig comment….it’s so much sadder knowing this was based on a real person, not a fictional character or cartoon. That being said, I’m shocked the death of Brian Piccolo in “Brian’s Song” hasn’t been mentioned; and I’m not even a Bears fan.

  • http://twitter.com/jujuthefirst Julie Gordon

    I’m old. Ol’ Yeller. If you do not weep at a boy forced to kill his own dog, you have no soul.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jallwood1 Joe Allwood

      Oh, without a doubt…I’m puddling up just thinking about that one.

    • Another Boomer

      I agree with Phoebe on “Friends”: sick doggy snuff film.

    • Gail Gray

      This is horrible !!!

    • Devon

      i sold my soul a long time ago

  • tainted lunch

    Optimus Prime and the little sister from Grave of the Fireflies.

    • Morgan

      Oh, god, Grave of the Fireflies itself is just a completely heart-wrenching movie. One of the saddest movies I have ever seen.

  • http://twitter.com/NicoCuevas Nico Cuevas

    Giovanni Ribisi’s death in Saving Private Ryan, was much more tragic than Tom Hanks.

    • Voidsman

      He is the one that gets stabbed while the translator dude looks on right (sry haven’t seen it in forever!)? If that is the case I say it is WAY more disturbing and haunting than sad. Just imagining that happening sends chills down my spine.

      • den314

        No..adam goldberg.. (the really jewish one) is the one that died while the translator watched…ribisi volunteered to run at at a gun outpost..it was notable because he was the medic…it was stupid for them to let him go in the first place…he was dying and was the only person the even had a chance of saving himself

        • OBKB

          He had zero chance of surviving even if another medic was there. The bullet hit him in the liver. A punctured, lacerated, or ruptured liver in the middle of a field in 1944 had a mortality rate of 100%.

      • BarryRand

        No that was Adam Goldberg (E-3 Mellish)–the big Nazi killing the Jewish soldier in a fight to the death. Then later the translator E-3 Upham kills the big Nazi Sargent (played by Peter Miles. It was NOT a statement of the Holocaust (where the Nazi’s had guns-the Jews had none)…in this case, it was a Jew fighting like hell to kill a Nazi bastard (who earlier had been set free because of Upham at the Radar site where Ribesi died)….For some reason, Steven Spielberg always has the Jewish people getting the worst of it while the Nazi win out. In the real history it was much different i.e. Shindler’s List would have you believe that the Jews in Warsaw just gave up when actually they put up a terrific fight (one is reminded of the Alamo–it they kill us we will take hundreds of them with us first). The Jews in Warsaw in 1943 held on for 6 weeks and held up 2 full German infantry divisions. The Russians after the War said that pulled so many German’s off the line that it helped the Soviet Army win at Kursk in Summer of 1943.

        • matthewmess

          The soldier let go by the squad and the one that kills Mellish are not the same character.

  • neoanakinpotter

    The 3 most saddest cinematic deaths that never fail to make me cry…

    #3: Joe Pesci @ the end of “With Honors”.

    #2: the last 5 minutes of “Ghost”. Even more tragic/touching now after Patrick Swayze passed away back in 2009.

    #1: John Coffey @ the end of “The Green Mile”.

    • Alex Lowe

      After Watching Lethal Weapon 3 and 4 about 100 times, I can never do anything except root for Joe Pesci to die.

  • SamIam

    The Animated Feature: Grave Of The Fireflies – The Brother & Sister, Old Yeller for childhood and recently Saving Private Ryan’s – Captain tied with
    the Last Samurai’s – Katsumoto

  • Clark

    1. Jenny in Forrest Gump (gravestone scene)

    2. John Coffey in The Green Mile

    3. Bambi’s mom in Bambi

    4.Ellie in Disneys Up

    • DeltaJuliet

      All four of these, yes, but especially #4. I still leave the room to “do dishes” or “get a drink” whenever that scene comes on. My heart can’t take it.

    • ks

      5-Bonnie Blue Butler (Scarlett and Rhett’s Daughter) in “Gone with the Wind”.

    • ghost Echo Seven

      John’s execution in Green Mile is brutal. Especially when he cries about the hood. I lose it every time. The epitome of unfair.

    • Lead Faun

      What about Wilson from Cast Away?

  • angela

    The saddest death to me was of John Wayne’s character in “The Cowboys”. His character was a magnificent man with principles and courage. It was so sad to see him die at the hands of a man who was who wasn’t good enough to kiss his feet. His death at the hands of such a man was so hard to take and it broke my heart.

    • Voidsman

      I argue that The Shootist is way sadder because of how much his real life events went into that movie. The combination of Jimmy Stewart’s (How awesome was it for Jimmy Stewart to be in his last movie?) guidance on what is a good death, his actual death scene is one of my favorite gun duel scenes ever, and Ron Howard’s horror of killing someone which allows John Wayne to die peacefully knowing that his legacy won’t pass on to him. Such an underrated western. If I had a choice of another John Wayne movie the Coen brothers would remake, it would be The Shootist because it is such a complete package of a movie, or maybe a tossup between El Dorado/Big Jake because as an action western, those movies deliver some great action set pieces for its time.

      • SPE763

        I agree that The Shootist was sadder. When I watched it my brother told me that John Wayne dies at the end, but I thought he was going to die because of his health. I teared up at the end.

        I also teared up when Dog was killed in Big Jake.

  • nick_jones55

    Slim Pickens in “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”, with Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heavens Door” on the soundtrack

  • IminyJo

    I’m a crier so all the films listed and more have produced water works. And I don’t know if this will be considered a flippant or insensitive or somehow inappropriate answer because it’s a dramatization of real events but the little girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List is my absolute undoing. At the end, when Schindler thinks how many more people he could have saved for the cost of his watch, etc. I am absolutely destroyed. I watched it for the first time in college with my roommate and I was completely inconsolable for hours. I haven’t, can’t watch it again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jallwood1 Joe Allwood

    Saddest for me is Augustus McCrae in “Lonesome Dove”. It’s unexpected…you think he HAS to pull throught…it’s Gus, after all…then he doesn’t and it’s just…empty.

  • Cat

    There are soooo many here that I fully agree with, but I have to throw down Wash in Serenity. That was rough.

  • alex

    akilles from the movie troy

  • alex

    rue from hunger games

    • ghost Echo Seven

      That is certainly the most recent one on my list. The book was waaaay worse though.

  • alex

    hector in troy

  • Evan Bolick

    This is really no contest. The absolute saddest movie death is Littlefoot’s mother. COmbined with the epic score, it is truly a heartbreaking loss, made all the worse that they actually spent some time developing the mom before she died heroically. I bawl then, and again when Littlefoot gives up hope before following his mother’s shadow to the Great Valley. I also weep knowing how awfully this film has been butchered by sequels.

  • lavalampryanman

    Um, Dobby? (Harry Potter 7)

    • jayk dodds

      Dude yeah

  • Jack

    Guido? Life is beautiful.

  • Me

    Jack in Titanic… look I was a young girl obsessed with Leo Dicaprio… I cried for days it seemed like. “JUST MOVE OVER YOU SELFISH COW!!!” lol…

    • Outlaw

      To this very day I feel if they had just balanced on the board he would’ve lived.

  • JW

    I don’t know why, but when Ken Wananabe dies in the Last Samurai I get teared up, should’ve gotten best supporting actor for that movie

  • Kardoushian

    How About In Frosty The Snow Man… When Frosty Melts At The End Of Winter? Biggest Tear Jerker Ever For Little Kids!

  • jess21013

    Ellie in “Up” was truly sad, but thankfully my heart couldn’t feel like it did before I saw “I Am Legend” and actually wept over the death of a dog.

    • http://www.facebook.com/cat.war Cat War

      omg that dog is the saddest death in a film ever because it leaves poor will smith completely alone and signifies the loss of the last piece of his old life – i totally cried like a baby!

      • Mack Nelson

        I have to admit, that was fucking bad.

        I cry more when characters die in videogames though, like Chopper in Ace Combat 5.

        • Gail Gray

          Really ?? Do you have to use your POTTY MOUTH ??? I don’t think so. No one ever has to use that filthy word. It really has no meaning at all and it sounds awful.

          • Mack Nelson


            This is the internet. Grow the fuck up or get off of it.

          • omegaman

            Hey Mack, fuck you. Moron.

          • Mack Nelson

            Trolls love being fed. Please, keep feeding me.

          • Diane Champion Brocker

            megaman Ive come across mack nelson before he/she is in jr high. notice how he/she thinks using foul language means you’re grown us.

          • Skippy

            It does have a meaning. It’s a colloquialism for sexual relations. You do realize it’s just a word and can’t hurt you.

      • John Sutherland

        As long as we’re on the topic of dogs, what about Marley and Me? That one had me reaching for the Kleenex – maybe because it’s so easy to relate – most of us who have owned pets have had to deal with this. Oh, and funny coincidence: WIll Smith’s favorite singer in “I Am Legend” was Bob Marley.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tammy.ward.7355 Tammy Ward

      I cried like a baby in “I Am Legend”. It was bad enough that the dog, the only friend in this sad man’s life, but that he had to kill him. It was terrible. Worse than “Old Yeller”

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Smiles-Noel/55703392 Mike Smiles Noel

        Yeah, I cried in that too. It wasn’t just because of the dog, it was like all he had left of his family, his daughter’s dog

      • Jeff Erickson

        The alternate ending was better. They should have gone with that. The cinema ending left it wide open for a sequel that should never be filmed.

        • Guest

          I actually agreed with the ending they chose for I am Legend, since it required the least suspension of disbelief. I found it a lot easier to tell myself that the zombie/vampire monsters had basic animalistic brain function (to explain the occasional mental recognition and pack mentality) and that Will Smith’s character got caught in one of his own traps he had set up.

          The alternative?
          1) The monsters are all fully thinking and feeling, yet have for no reason whatsoever lost the ability to communicate. No speech, no graffiti saying “Please stop killing us, Will Smith”. Additionally the body temperature that his character says they sustain (about 104 degrees I believe) will totally cook a brain in real life and he restates that in the movie.
          2) The infection doesn’t create almost uncontrollable hostility toward everyone else, despite EVERY infected being trying to kill Smith’s character, up to and including his dog who had only been infected for a matter of minutes.
          3) The one leader monster is intelligent enough to duplicate Will Smith’s complex trap after seeing its effects ONCE. I found it kind of unbelievable that Smith put it together with his character’s background, and that he somehow has to perfectly balance a car to make it work, but you can chalk that up to him having years of off-screen downtime to have puzzled out how to make that trap. The leader monster sees it once and recreates it without the specialized tools Smith used?
          4)…And creates the perfect bait for the trap by placing a recognizable but out of place mannequin from the video store Smith frequents along his patrol route, all details he would have to have been observing Smith during different times of day, at very different parts of the city, over a fair bit of time in order to put together?

          That’s not a thinking and feeling human that merely looks like a monster. That’s freaking Sherlock Holmes and Batman rolled into an infected Nosferatu. I can see where they tried to have the build up to the alternate ending but there’s really no way they could have been as smart as that and been incapable of controlling their violent urges or easily establishing communication.

    • http://twitter.com/gwyndra Jen

      I was thinking the same thing about Ellie. I cry like a baby every time I watch that scene.

      I care more about dogs than people mostly, totally forgot about the dog dying in I Am Legend… that was so sad.

  • handsome

    How weird. The saddest death is the one you don’t see: Lou Gehrig, “Pride of the Yankees.”

  • Cheryl Loudd

    Oh my GOD when Mufasa dies! And Bambi’s mother. I still cry buckets. What is it about me and animated animal films?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Seano123 Sean Ramsay-Moore

    When I was a kid, the most tragic death that always had me in tears was the otter’s from “Ring Of Bright Water” – haven’t seen it in years (probably too traumatised!). John Coffey’s from The Green Mile is right up there as well!

    • Frog_in_a_Blender

      Thank you! I was hoping someone would mention “Ring of Bright Water”, easily the saddest movie I’ve ever seen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.lockerumbolt Lisa Locke-Rumbolt

    My Dog Skip

  • http://www.facebook.com/cat.war Cat War

    Leon in Leon – it’s the line “this is for Mathilda” and the beautiful camera work that makes all the more heart breaking.

  • http://twitter.com/ASAP_Tipton Tipton

    My top 3:
    1. Hector in Troy… That was just absolutely unfair… His wife and father had to watch
    2. The dog in I Am Legend… It didnt just die… it was gonn turn into a zombie… And Will Smit had to strangle it! *bursts into tears*
    3. Jack in Titanic: The background music made it even harder to swallow. I kept hopin that when the boast came back they would maybe find him or something… too sad

  • elimgarak01

    I cried like a baby at the end of Terminator 2….that scene….oh,my God…

    T-800: “I now know why you cry, but it is something I can never do.” As he touches John Connor’s face…

    And when he’s lowered into the molten iron…His thumbs up the very last thing you see…

    Goodness that was an emotional moment for me,silly as it sounds.

    • Railgun101

      yes this was truly a moment in time when movie going showed humanity its true heart this was a moment of true writing and skill touching moments that meant so much bravo eelimgark01

  • shockhoss

    just thinking about Meg Ryan’s character in “City of Angels” and how it left Nicholas Cage

  • Kevin Rubio

    You know guys, movies existed before 1982. You really need to broaden your knowledge of film.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Canor63 Claudia Nordling

    Alfredo in “CInema Paradiso” Hands down. I dare you to watch the ‘clips’ scene and watch the grown up Toto crying and not bawl your eyes out.

  • Junk Horder

    “At Shelby’s graveside, the women gather to comfort M’Lynn. If you can watch this scene without unleashing torrents of tears than you may have contracted something (like a parasite) or possibly sold your soul to the devil”

    Or you’re a dude.

    dont get me wrong, its a great movie and ive even gotten some of my friends to watch it with the argument of “yeah.. its a chick flick, but dude… its actually really freakin good!” (which works to get guys to watch the joy luck club also… which kinda sorta relates to the list here).
    this scene requires a bucket to catch the flood and a mop to clean up the tears that missed the bucket from girls, and every guy i know thats watched it just says “that was pretty harsh” (or some variant)

  • nanoen

    really, no reference to Moulin Rouge! One of the most dramatic and heartfelt movies in the history of film. Satine’s death makes me cry everytime. You guys are idiots.

    • Alex Lowe

      Moulin Rouge is horribly sad. I cry every time. Kidman is incredible, but I still stand by Mufasa being way sadder. As sad as a lost love is, a child left without his father, and thinking he’s to blame, is absolutely heartbreaking

  • Payno

    Marley and me. Enough said.

  • Jamklein

    What about Ole Yeller and Bambi’s mother.

  • Jamklein

    What about Ole Yeller and Bambi’s mom?

  • Jared

    Old dan and little Ann in where the red fern grows

  • eddiemoney

    Quentin Tarantino’s character in “Django.”

  • Tayo

    Bambi has to be the winner after Bruce in Armageddon .. so freaking sad … yeah and when smith died in The Matrix .. I was like :’(

    • SPE763

      What about the Yearling?

  • Rodders

    What? Noone has mentioned Watership Down? One of the few films I cried at as a kid. That ending haunted me for days!

    • SilentXero

      I can’t hardly watch Watership Down. During the song “Bright Eyes” I just loose it; and I haven’t watched that movie since 1999 and I still remember it crystal clear. Another one is Iron Giant.

  • dukecal

    What a pretty poor list there are loads more worthy like R.P McMurphy in One Flew over the cockoo’s Nest or even Frank Sinatra running for the train in Von Ryan’s Express but the greatest for me is Dennis Hopper in True Romance when Christopher Walken shoots him after he says “if that’s a fact tell me I am lying because you are part eggplant” classic.

    • Tuberski

      McMurphy wasn’t a death scene, he was lobotomized.

      • dukecal

        Is there a difference?Looked to me like the big Indian smothered him with a pillow.

        • Tuberski

          Duh!. I forgot

      • sheeplepeeple

        Chief Bromden smothers him with a pillow during the films final moments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gracie.szentmariay Gracie Szentmariay

    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I bawled like a baby.

  • hippyherb

    Wash from the movie Serenity.

    • Mike Martini

      Yes! It was sad seeing Shepherd Book go, but at least we were prepped a little for his passing. With Wash, it was just…BOOM. No warning, we weren’t ready. I get that that was the point, but still…jeez. On top of that, it had to happen right in front of Zoey? Hadn’t she been through enough already? On the plus side, she’s available now, assuming she doesn’t kill you with her pinky…

  • Colcum

    The snowman in ‘The Snowman’ … maybe that’s a UK?Ireland thing, Hmm.

  • BirdSong

    1) The Wrath Of Kahn
    2) King Kong

  • S.F.Thunder72

    Come on….what about the shooting death of Cornbread….from Cornbread, Earl and me….that starred an up and coming guy by the name of Laurence FIshburne.

  • S.F.Thunder72

    what about Shane?…….was he dead or injured while he rode off into the sunset…either way it was beautiful.

  • S.F.Thunder72

    Sean Connery as King Arthur in First knight….gave his life for his Kingdom…his Kingdom…not his Whore queen….it doesnt get any better than that…

  • Someone

    Dally in the Outsiders. When TwoBit yells “he’s just a kid” but they shoot him anyways always makes me cry even more than when Johnny tells Ponyboy to stay gold right before he dies.o

  • Mo Fro

    Boromir LOTR brilliant and soooooooo sad

    • Jeff Simon

      I always disliked the character of Boromir in the books. Sean Bean did such an awesome job or humanizing and redeeming that character I can’t express my admiratioon enough.

      • Bänny Baryton Johansson

        How can you dislike Boromir?? :O
        He sacrificed himself for Merry and Pippin!

        • Jeff Simon

          As written by Tolkien I did not feel any empathy for Boromir’s character. Sean Bean’s portrayal made me love Boromir.

  • Jack the Ripper

    Very surprised that “Braveheart’s” William Wallace (Mel Gibson) or “Gladiator’s” Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) have not been mentioned, not even though of for the list. Both guy flicks leaves a heavy heart in the chests of all adult men that workout at the gym like fiends. Even the the themes in the movie are excellent for relation to the viewers: loyalty, honor, betrayal, consequence, love, death, and revenge! A top 10 list needs to be created!

    • Stephen Zeigler

      William Defoe where he’s running from NVA trying to catch the helicopter.
      forgot the name….I’m getting old too….lol

      • Bella


      • matthewmess

        Platoon. Great movie.

      • Ut


        • Ryk

          Definetely Sgt Elias’ death in Platoon should be #1 in any such list

      • kmc

        Speaking of old and on those same lines how about Frank Sinatra’s death at the climax of Von Ryan’s Express?

  • Jordan

    Saddest (sort of) death from my childhood was from the first pokemon movie, when Ash was turned to stone and pikachu was trying so hard to revive him.

  • nick

    I cry like a little bitch at the end of Man on Fire everytime. Creasy is the embodiment of passion.

    • Jeff Simon

      Yeah. Creasy is tough to take. Dakota Fanning loves him so much. That soundtrack doesn’t make it any easier.

  • Gavlar

    Interesting choices, but taking death and sadness into context, the death of David (Kiefer Sutherland) is pretty tragic and sad. Through out most of the film, he is a charismatic, rebellious, sadistic and violent killer. He has no compunction to using his vampirism to reach his goals. However after the battle with Michael, David is staked through the heart, and unlike some vampire films were vampires turn to goo or ash, David reverted back to his human self.
    Michael looks relieved at David’s death but one can speculate that there was a moment of horror that really what he had done was killed an innocent who was cursed by another. Very few films show such loss of innocence like Lost boys, and that’s why it will always be in my all time favourite movie list.

  • Draya

    Sissy Spacek in ‘Night Mother

    Micheal Keaton in My Life

    Mary Louis Parker in Fried Green Tomatoes & Boys on the Side

    Dobby in Harry Potter

    Clark Greg in The Avengers

  • http://twitter.com/VognG Vogn Gee

    Mel Gibson’s death in Braveheart n, that firefly character in Princess and the frog…#sad… bt thr r probably many moments a feel like cryin whn a character dies

  • http://www.facebook.com/danielle.whitakerowens Danielle Whitaker Owens

    Bruce Wilils in Armageddon. Jack in Titanic. John Coffee in the Green Mile. “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas” was a great movie which I’m sure a lot of people haven’t seen.

    • mike

      I cheered when Jack sunk in Titanic. I hated that character even more than the actor playing him.

  • Old film fan

    Ryan in Von Ryan’s Express – you always think he’s going to make it, but he never does.

  • theMan

    Cartoons? Did your mom make you include Steele Magnolias? Here are 4 off the top of my head. You need to age a bit and watch more movies:

    1) at least you included pvt ryan…most were very sad deaths
    2) Million Dollar Baby is sadder than anything listed, yes even Pvt Ryan.
    3) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    4) Blade Runner
    5 Forest Gump

  • chris


  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.slater.100 Steve Slater

    ‘Rizzo’ from ‘Midnight Cowboy’…John Coffey in’Green Mile’…….John Merrick in ‘The Elephant Man’. ..John Merrick especially as it was based on a true story…

  • Vomit Tears Smith

    I’m sorry, but vomiting out of sadness over any film or source of fiction is just plain pathetic. I understand being “in the moment” and tearing up… but vomiting?

  • Louise

    Satine – Moulin Rouge
    Marley – Marley and Me
    Snape – HP DH 2
    and also dobby in DH1
    Ellie – Up

    Maggie – Million Dollar Baby

    Walt – Gran Torino
    Jean ValJean – Les Mis!!!!

  • tesstan1

    Does anyone remember Always? Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and John Goodman? About pilots who put out forest fires. John Goodman’s reaction when (no spoilers here) the EVENT happened while they were flying. He definitely should have received an Oscar!!! I get tears thinking about it.

  • Jen

    Hillary Swank in Million Dollar Baby. I never need to watch that one again. PS: I’m from Wisconsin ;-)

    • BarryRand

      How about Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment–she’s dying of cancer and
      her two boys come into the room. The older one is angry that she is
      dying but the little one needs his mom for the comfort of all small boys
      in their moms….I am a male but I cried openly for a few minutes…..

  • K

    Mufasa wins. Also, Bruce Willis in Armageddon.

  • Elvis


    • eve

      Omg your right.and seeing Daniel radcliffe cry like that was unexpected and jarring and the sight of it turns on the waterworks for me.

  • http://twitter.com/DeionPartyboy97 Deion G.

    I cried as a child when I saw these movies but I don’t cry now, there is only one movie that will still make me cry though, the pacifier, I saw it around the time my mom and dad got a divorce, so I related to the movie.

  • Antonio Leggieri

    The cartoon shoe in Who framed Roger Rabbit is the worst of the worst.

  • wiessej

    I think people should watch the movie “The Cure” and see if they don’t cry at the end when Dexter dies. I mean SERIOUSLY!!

  • Frog_in_a_Blender

    THE saddest movie death EVER was Mij in “Ring of Bright Water”. You also missed Jennifer in “Love Story”, Brian Piccolo in “Brian’s Song”. Thomasina in The Three Lives of Thomsina, and Fantine in “Les Miserables”.

  • Sasson

    Matt Donato and others;
    No doubt the death of Littlefoot’s mother in THE LAND BEFORE TIME is haunting and doesn’t leave you… and same is Truth so much more with Mufasa’s death in THE LION KING…
    But if that got such a strong reaction from you…
    the Japanese Anime movie “Grave of the Fireflies” is a movie which would NEVER ever leave you. The movie is called “Hotaru no haka” originally, in Japanese.
    That movie is HEART WRENCHING.
    There will be the person you were BEFORE watching that movie…
    and there will be the person you become AFTER watching it…
    When a person who has a Heart watches that movie… that person might think their Heart might not survive(!) this movie–
    but as time passes, your Heart grows emotionally and spiritually for and because daring to watch this movie ;- “Grave of the Fireflies / Hotaru no haka (Japanese)”. It takes time, but you Heart GROWS because of this movie…
    After watching ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, I learnt– Truly learnt– that focus on anything except on LOVE in this world– is focus wasted.
    You’ll look at animated movies in a completely different way, after (and if) you watch ‘Grave of the Fireflies’…

  • Sasson

    Matt Donato and others;
    No doubt the death of Littlefoot’s mother in THE LAND BEFORE TIME is haunting and doesn’t leave you… and same is Truth so much more with Mufasa’s death in THE LION KING…
    But if that got such a strong reaction from you…
    the Japanese Anime movie “Grave of the Fireflies” is a movie which would NEVER ever leave you. The movie is called “Hotaru no haka” originally, in Japanese.
    That movie is HEART WRENCHING.
    There will be the person you were BEFORE watching that movie…
    and there will be the person you become AFTER watching it…
    When a person who has a Heart watches that movie… that person might think their Heart might not survive(!) this movie–
    but as time passes, your Heart grows emotionally and spiritually for and because daring to watch this movie ;- “Grave of the Fireflies / Hotaru no haka (Japanese)”. It takes time, but you Heart GROWS because of this movie…
    After watching ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, I learnt– Truly learnt– that focus on anything except on LOVE in this world– is focus wasted.
    You’ll look at animated movies in a completely different way, after (and if) you watch ‘Grave of the Fireflies’…

  • eve

    Skipper in the Pacific.that just killed me.

  • Iam_Sparticus

    Nicki’s Russian Roulette death at the end of The Deer Hunter and the following funeral scene when they’re singing God Bless America. Gets me everytime.

  • Iam_Sparticus

    Nicki’s Russian Roulette death at the end of The Deer Hunter and the following funeral scene when they’re singing God Bless America. Gets me everytime.

  • Khan

    Old Yeller / Shane / Mr. Roberts
    Braveheart / The girl in red (Schindler’s list) just horrifying
    Watch the end of Galipolli …
    John Wayne in his last movie, where he is gunned down and makes his last shot (I think it’s the Shootist)
    there are so many good ones, it’s hard to pick a great one, but all of the above

  • ed

    Willem Dafoe

    Sgt. Elias when Elias was running and getting shot getting back up and then falls again he throws his hand up in the air with glooorious background music.

  • James

    When Rose let go of Jack’s hand, Titanic, it was over. I was done. To make it so bad, every male in the theater was either bawling or holding back the biggest lump in their throat in their life. Not the women, that’s a foregone conclusion, but grown, macho, put up a good front, men went to pieces. I’ve only seen the movie once.

  • Guy Smiley

    Setsuko in Grave of the Fireflies. It didn’t just make me sad, it destroyed me. Couldn’t ever bring myself to ever watch that movie again cause it hurt so much.

  • steve

    How about the Champ’s (John Voight) death in THE CHAMP and Ricky Schroeder’s 3 minutes of actual crying over the body?

  • Richard121196

    John Merrick in the elephant man. Only film I’ve ever cried over. Next would have to be several deaths in game of thrones

  • Richard121196

    John Merrick in the elephant man. Only film I’ve ever cried over. Next would have to be several deaths in game of thrones

  • abl14

    Watching The Pursuit of Happyness (yes it is a Y ) is still one of the most emotionally engaging/exhausting/exhilarating movie experiences ever!!

  • Soturi

    Kind of a shitty list guys, two animated deaths? What about John Coffee in The Green Mile? Or perhaps the infant in Trainspotting?

    • BarryRand

      How about Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment–she’s dying of cancer and her two boys come into the room. The older one is angry that she is dying but the little one needs his mom for the comfort of all small boys in their moms….

  • Jelle

    You forgot the worst movie dead of all time! I never cry with movies but I did once. John coffee in the Green Mile. That was just heartbreaking!

  • Old Guy

    I agree that Capt. Miller in Saving Private Ryan was tragic. Here’s a short list for everyone to consider (in no particular order):

    Spock in Star Trek: Wrath of Khan
    Katsumoto in The Last Samurai
    Col. Robert Gould Shaw
    General Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator
    And although it is not a physical death, but the death of a relationship, the scene in the movie musical Scrooge where Albert Finney, as the old Scrooge watches helplessly while his younger self throws away the relationship with the only woman he ever loved. The song he sings, “You”, is about as sad and heart-rending a song as you will ever hear–full of regret for never going back to her, and knowing in his heart that it was the biggest mistake he ever made. I never can watch that scene without feeling a pain in the depth of my soul.

  • Alli

    John Coffey in The Green Mile, hands down.

  • JonRalphs

    The Fuck how is the deer hunter not on here. Christopher Walken’s death.

  • 082071

    Wyatt, “Captain America” (Peter Fonda) in “Easy Rider”.

  • 082071

    Emma Greenway Horton (Debra Winger) in Terms of Endearment. That scene was heartbreaking.

    • BarryRand

      You are SO right. When her two boys came to the hospital room to say goodbye. The older one was mad that she was dying (a normal reaction in some children) but the little brother needed to be comforted by his Mom..like any little boy…he didn’t understand her dying but knew he would be alone with his distant Father…..I cried for 10 minutes.

  • Andy

    The end of Glory.

  • Phil

    Will smith in seven pounds

  • Thomas Priday

    Yep, just as I thought: contemporary American releases. These writers are so unqualified. No Ozu characters, no Bresson characters, no Joan of Arc. Just Saving Private Ryans and Kings of Lions.

  • Ray

    William Wallace’s death is the saddest of them all!

  • John Taylor

    The captain’s death in Ryan was totally stupid. For an experienced combat officer, he made a monumental mistake in tactics and men that got him and his men killed. Ruined an otherwise excellent movie.

    • den314

      I thought that was one of the major points…he wasn’t experienced..he wasn’t a military man…he was a teacher…he hadn’t been in the war all the longer than the others…he had his post because of his education

      • John Taylor

        You don’t get to be a captain without some combat experience. He was there on D-Day and I believe there was reference to combat in Italy or North Africa. The point being that he, like everyone else at that point was tired of the war and wanted to go home.

    • csmit

      Gauge in Pet Sematary…Ricky in Boyz N The Hood

  • den314

    I agree with many of the comments and my winner for the article was land before time…but one of the strangest ones that hit me was king kong in the peter jackson version if peter jackson knew how to edit..aside from that the relationship specifically between ann and kong was beautiful and showed the effect that a woman could have on a male…we are so enamored that we go against our nature…from “kings” to willing to sacrifice it all..even ourselves

  • Ħřf Häðjåðj

    Pay it forward !! so sad i cried

  • Eric E Hulette

    I felt the same way when the crane came down on Eleanor (Gone in 60 seconds) and carried her off to be destroyed………… :(

  • Buggalo Shrimp

    Watching Robert Duvall get shot and killed from a distance in “We Own The Night” was one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve ever watched..

  • Scott

    All of these gentlemen are wrong wrong wrong, the fact is this, the saddest movie death of all time is a toss up between john merrick in the elephant man (though granted we don’t actually see him die but it is implied), or setsuko from grave of the fireflies

  • Parmenion59

    not a movie….but…Ned Stark in Game of Thrones!

    • kmc

      Now that you mention TV how about vampire Nick Knight’s death at the hands of his mentor Lacroux?

  • Miguelt

    Has anyone seen Hachiko?

  • heyassbutt

    John Coffey in “The Green Mile”, James in “Third Star”, Kirk in “Star Trek Into Darkness”, Spock in “Wrath of Khan”, Bruno and Shmuel in “The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas” and Sirius Black in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”.

  • judith

    Yup thats goose -top gun
    cried like a baby

  • Khaoe Smith

    Gauge in pet Sematary…Ricky in Boyz N The Hood

  • Smack

    Leslie (AnnaSophia Robb) in Bridge to Terabithia
    Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Titanic
    Katharine (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The English Patient
    Tracy (Gwyneth Paltrow) In Seven
    Brandon Lee in The Crow

  • Tuberski

    In no particular order:

    1. Brian in Brian’s Song – the original
    2. Joseph Mazzello The Cure
    3. John Coffey The Green Mile
    4. Old Yeller
    5.Jon Voight The Champ

  • anita

    Creasy – Man on Fire
    John Coffey – Green Mile

  • JC

    The death of Bruno in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”. Not your typical Holocaust movie.

  • Krista

    To this day, I have not cried as hard as I did at the end of Marley and Me.

    But there are also a handful that I would count on the List as well:
    Ellie- Up
    Leslie- Bridge to Terabithia
    Sam The Dog- I am Legend
    Mama- What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
    Satine- Moulin Rouge!
    Dobby- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1
    Ofelia- Pan’s Labyrinth
    Harvey Milk- Milk
    Danny- American History X
    Jack- Brokeback Mountain

    Basically you’ll see me have an emotional breakdown if the death is totally unexpected.

  • 2X

    Eddie Murphys’ career

  • James Hodge

    Hoo-rah is Marine Corps slang, Captain Miller was in the Army, the Army’s equivalent is ‘hooah’

  • Moe

    u missed out lucy from sweeney todd

  • John Taylor

    The captain’s death was not trajic. Militarily it was kind of his own fault. A number of tactical decisions he made that could have saved him and most of his men if he’d done it differently.

  • Matt

    this one wasnt much a death but it was a death of andys childhood in toy story 3 and when he plays with his toys for the last time in the end now that is what i call a real tear jerker.

  • Stunned Pro

    Greedo, anyone (Star Wars, 1977)? Or was it just me?

  • Max

    The little kid (I think his name is Jeffrey?) in Hardball with Keanu Reeves. I don’t cry when I watch movies but I teared up a little bit when they were at the funeral and showed him winning the game. Also Dobby.

    • Raivn Swaim

      “Throw your hands in the air, if youse a true playa!”

  • sheeplepeeple

    Phar Lap.. The famous Australian racehorse. His cinematic death never fails to choke me up.

  • Morgasshk

    Been a long time, but when the young girl throws herself off the cliff in Last of the Mohicans after her love was killed always got me.

  • Sharlto

    “I’ll be honest, I get choked-up during the most random times, be it Joseph Gordon-Levitt talking to his dad right before surgery in 50/50″

    And to think I thought I was alone all this time.

  • Bänny Baryton Johansson

    Boromir in Lord of the rings: The Fellowship of the ring! Because the ring corrupts him and he tries to kill Frodo, but when the Uruk-Hai comes to take Merry and Pippin away Boromir comes to rescue them and sacrifices himself so they would get a change to escape (even though they didn’t) :’(

  • B

    Yes, yes you do have readers in Wisconsin…

  • Will
  • Laura Sardeson

    The death of Marley in Marley and Me.

  • sam

    What was sadder than the dog in I Am Legend was Shaun’s mom in Shaun Of The Dead. Way sadder, seriously heartbreaking.

  • Rhiannon

    Reader from Wisconsin…who found hilarious ;)

    • Rhiannon


  • Steve Freeman

    Yeah, when Private Ryan as an old man asked his family if he was a good man…that part sucks. EVERY SINGLE TIME, something gets in my eye.

    Also, it’s not exactly cinematic, but it might as well be…the final interviews from the surviving members of Easy Company, at the end of the last episode of Band of Brothers…that shit just tears me up every time I watch it.

    • kmc

      How about the church scene where all the departed soldiers disappear one by one leaving the survivors ?

  • Matt

    robin Williams in Bicentennial Man. That’s a rough one.

  • Bill Gore

    No “Old Yeller”? The dog contracts rabies while saving the kids from a wolf and then has to be put down by one of the kids. Still breaks my heart.

  • Berzerker37

    Robert Duvall as Gus in Lonesome Dove and again in We Own The Night…

  • fr4475

    you forgot bambi’s mom

  • Sue Fox

    I cried when the wolf was killed in Dances with Wolves.

  • Dr. Strangelove


  • tuhlulah

    I have to say the kid in Les Miserables died a horrible, honorable death. But I cry the whole time through when I watch What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams.

  • Donnie

    The Green Mile…how can you forget !!

  • Ghostkid31

    It was truly seeing these characters die I loved Littlefoot’s mom :(

  • Hiiii

    Gandalf and/or boromir in The Fellowship of The Ring

  • Pasta


  • Ross Morton

    I’m not ashamed to admit that Bjork’s death in Dancer In The Dark had me bawling my eyes out. Probably the most harrowing movie I’ve ever seen.

  • dgcasey0325

    Every time someone puts one of these lists together they never mention the death of George Malley in Phenomenon. That was a sad one.

  • Brucethebuilder

    Beaches… When Hillary Essex (Barbara Hershey) dies, I cry like a baby. Watched this with my 15 year old daughter and we both sobbed like no tomorrow…

  • RedSpectre82

    Started tearing up thinking of Littlefoot’s mom dying.

  • Bella

    The German Shepherd. I Am Legend. I was bawling even before she got bit.

  • Bella

    Cold Mountain. Jude Law’s death.

  • Matt

    I was sad when Arthur died in the t.v show Merlin.. even though it was inevitable.

  • Lakan Kildap

    Gwyneth Paltrow in Se7en

  • Nobody

    Nobody saw Shoah then? No one? People don’t get to die like Tom Hanks in real life. Hollywood sells violence! it’s one of it’s principle products isn’t it? And they can’t really afford to be honest about death, now can they? It’s all good clean fun as long as it’s sanitized with the right amount of fake moralizing, and a convenient expunging of the details of the effects on the fragile human body of violent death.

    No one gets blown into big lumpy pieces or dies naked and covered in their own shit scared in a way that fat suburbanites can’t even conceive of, do they?

    If you want to see some sad deaths, YouTube is full of ones from Syria. I bet you won’t last ten minutes. The last one I watched (three years ago) had a 13-ish year old kid with his mouth, teeth and jaw totally blown away. Just a big bloody mess with strips of flesh hanging down where the lower half of his face should have been. He was awake, and conscious, and trying to cry, but he had no jaw, and no tongue to do so with, so he was just sort of… whimpering.

    There was absolutely no capacity to treat such serious injuries among the rebels in 2010 Homs, much less give the kid his face back, so he is almost certainly dead. However he finally left this world, however, I’m sure he would have loved to go out blasting away with a .45 at Bashar’s tanks, a la SPR, instead.

  • OtomatiQ

    I must say Dobbie’s death in HP : Deathly Hallows pt 1 , and King Leonidis in 300 i cant bare to watch those 2 moments

  • The Gunny

    You people go to a movie and cry when some actor dies! What do you do when a Real Person dies that you know?

  • bOb

    “Sometimes a Great Notion” 1970 Richard Jaeckel’s character getting stuck under a tree trunk in the river and the river was rising and his brother, Paul Newman’s character, couldn’t save him. He drowned right there in front of him and he was helpless. Heartrending.

  • Jake

    Just mention ” Olde Yeller ” to someone aged sixty and watch for a tear.

  • Jake

    At the end of ” Electroglide in Blue ” Robert Blake died a very sad death on the highway, just stiing on the yellow line, slumped over from a gunshot.

  • A Miffed Whovian

    Oh, I remember, I used to start bawling every time I saw the beginning of the Land Before Time and the ending. Even now when I watch it, I can’t help but cry when his mom dies and the grieving that happens after that and then when they make it to the Great Valley..

  • Ut

    “The Color Purple”. After a lifetime of spousal abuse, Celie is reunited with her sister and grownup children and their family from Africa. The hugs, the kisses,
    the whispered words of greeting in African language… arranged by the very man who separated them decades ago (his act of contrition from a guilty heart). Then as he rides past in the background, Celie and her sister play pattycake again like old times… in a field of purple flowers. I cried like someone had died.

  • James Durham

    I cant believe no one has mentioned Setsuko in ‘Grave of the Fireflies’

  • the locust

    Little girl in bridge to teribithia.

  • Ut

    “Hamburger Hill”. When “Doc” died and his buddies silently huddled over his body as a chopper landed in the background that would’ve medevaced him to a hospital and eventually home. I’m a vet and I felt that all too well.

  • Randy

    General Armistead’s death scene in “Gettysburg” I always find sad, as actor Richard Jordan’s died shortly afterwards. Also, Edward G. Robinson’s death scene in “Soylent Green” – same reason, but a much more amazing exit.

  • Reg King

    Matt Donato…you’re a cunt.

    • Matt Donato

      :( Well that was harsh, but it wasn’t only me! What about Al, Christian and Gem?! We weren’t making a list, but arguing our personal #1 picks each

  • vincent

    john russell (paul newman) from “hombe”…….”I like at least to know his name”

  • Jay

    “My Girl” deserves a mention.

  • Lady Deathstrike

    Poseidon with Kurt Ruseell.

  • Jeff Morrison

    1. Old Yeller (not even close)
    2. John W. Creasy in “Man on Fire”
    3. ET (although he comes back to life)

  • Jerec350

    I’d have to say Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, and Mick in Rocky III.

  • jasoom

    I cried like a baby in armageddon, and I not even American.

  • kmc

    My girlfriend once told me that the death of Babylon 5′s John Sheridan really got to her. His walking away from the woman he loved because he knew his time was up was heartwrenching . I agree with her. We both sat there trying not to cry during it.
    Also Rutger Hauer’s dying monologue in Blade Runner, the released dove and Harrison Ford’s voice over afterwards – just incredible.

  • jwoe

    How about at the end of ‘The Return of the King’ when Aragorn reallizes that Arwen has come back for him at the cost of forfeiting her immortality to be with him? Is there any other scene that is both happier and tragic at the same time?

  • Vanihm

    NATO utterly missed the point in Saving Private Ryan – Particularly Millers motivation.

  • Vanihm

    If any of you had watched anything other than totally mundane fare you would have mentioned Setsuko or Garp’s mother.



  • Rob Dotzler

    I went back as far as 8 months on the comments and noticed one glaring omission. Data. I know, not a “death” per se. However, Data was a part of my life for 15 years and his death actually rocked me. His childlike beginnings, his personality growth during the weekly episodes and his further growth in the movies combined with the fact he became the perfect reflection of what it would be to be a good, honest man. That’s the stuff that hit me in the gut as he saved Picard’s life in Nemesis. The fact that Picard gave Gordie something to do right after he died made me want to punch Picard in the face, as Gordie just lost his best friend. Then later, upon reflection, it’s what Gordie needed at the time, rather than be torn apart by the immediacy of his grief. An underrated movie and an incredibly underrated death scene.

  • Joshua Jones

    there are plenty of other movies that could of made this list. But I will say Marley and Me was the only movie where everyone in the theater was crying, not just a rare few.

  • Scuba_tom0488

    Dumbo! When he goes to see his mother when she’s locked up. Always used to make me cry lol

  • Steven P Chiolan

    My dog Skip. I can’t watch any movies where the dog dies now.

  • Diane Champion Brocker


  • tigger20637

    When the horse died in “War Horse”, You could see the pain the horse’s eyes and he stayed until his buddy passed. I cried through the whole movie.

  • Matt

    Brooks – Shawshank. Anty – Honey I Shrunk The Kids.

  • Roland Larssen

    My top 3 are the dog Hooch from Turner and Hooch, Maximus from gladiator, and Neal (De Niro) from Heat.

  • Alex

    The end scene to the decision based game of the Walking Dead…that was so heart wrenching I could barely bring myself to complete the game I was in tears. Even remembering it now is setting me off a bit.

    • Lisalisa

      Poor Lee :( That was an excellent game with a very unexpected ending.

  • Joey Gonzalez

    Will Andersen (John Wayne) in The Cowboys……….

  • BanzaiKen

    If you didn’t tear up when the Iron Giant Superman flies at the nuke while Hobart’s voice reminds him that he can choose to be anything and he simply replies “Superman” and Superman punches the nuke into oblivion and explodes you have no soul.

    Also I have a prank I do to people who tell me they like anime. I give them a copy of Graveyard of the Fireflies and tell them it’s a Miyazaki film and have them invite people over to watch it. I have yet to see someone unmoved by that film and usually I get a call afterwards filled with alot of cursewords.

  • gf84

    The Cure. End of story.

  • RTFirefly

    OK. I’m old. I’ve watched Dr. Zhivago dozens of times, and each time I secretly hope that Zhivago doesn’t have the heart attack, and the woman he sees from the bus really is Lara. Yeah, I’m also a crazy romantic.

  • BeeDeck

    Will Smith in Seven Pounds… Every time.

  • dan

    Whats his name from boys in the hood. Super sad and im not even black.

  • DM

    Brian’s Song, Bang the Drum Slowly, Gladiator, to name a few.

  • Lisalisa

    What about the movie The Road? When the father dies at the end, that’s a real tear jerker.

  • Douglas Green

    If Bambi’s mom isn’t on the list, it has no credibility whatsoever

  • Tim

    Wash getting killed in Serenity.

  • TheYaXxE

    Gwen Stacy’s death in TASM2 was very sad and heartbreaking. Emma Stone played that role so well and real-like, that her death actually felt like, that I was loosing a loved one myself.

  • xXGrizZ

    Fox and the Hound!

  • Rolo_Tomasi

    Jon Voight as Billy Flynn in The Champ

  • Chase

    I was thinking Monica Potter’s character, Carin in Patch Adams.

  • Gary

    Zod in Superman II. Hitler in Inglorious Basterds. Vernon Schillinger from Oz. Robert Paulson from Fight Club (he now has a name). Any red shirt from Star Trek. Pick a Storm Trooper. All of earth in Noah.

  • Andrew Arnold

    This is a bunch of bullcrud! How is “Old Yeller” not up there? How is “Brian’s Song” not up there? Gandalf??? GANDALF???

  • walter

    ok its not a movies but the Red Wedding in GOT was God awful to watch

  • MadSimmy

    Michael Keaton in 1993 film “My Life” and what about Beaches. Im a 38 year old man that still breaks down in tears when I watch those.

  • Danielle Owens

    Danny didn’t “take a class” called “american history x”, he got in trouble for calling a teacher a jew (the boyfriend of his mom later on in the movie) and his principle made him write a paper about his brother. Danny called it “american history x” …. just to give ya little info.

  • Whatknot

    “The Crime of the Century” I never cried so hard during a movie.

  • Mike Butler

    You can blame Scott Bakula for that…

  • David Levy

    Sure Gandalf’s death was sad but what about Boromir? I cried while watching him fight those orcs while knowing that this was his final battle.

  • Holeybartender

    After reading all of these I can’t believe noone remembered my saddest death in a movie. Heroin Bob in SLC Punk,by far the saddest I ever watched. I felt like my best friend died after watching that movie.

    My second would have to be Robert Deniro in 15 minutes. What a way to go.

  • paulgilliam

    when tom hanks croaks in philadelphia