Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time

Q - R

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

The Queen (2006, UK/It./Fr.)

  • the scene in which Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) - embattled and despised by the British public for her family's silence in the week between former Princess of Wales Diana's (played by Herself in archival footage) death and funeral - drove into the country and wept after her Land Rover stalled in a stream, and she was stranded in the wild; and then she encountered by chance a large "14 pointer" stag on the Balmoral estate - she shooed it away to safety when hunters approached: ("Oh, you're a beauty. Shoo! Shoo! Go on! Go on. Go on!")
  • the upsetting symbolic scene in which she later visited the stag in a bleeding room - it had been killed and beheaded by a paying guest/hunter, an investment banker from London on a neighboring estate - and her statement: "I hope he didn't suffer too much"
  • the tearjerking scene in which the Queen, forced to have a royal funeral for Diana, perused the thousands of bouquets left for "the people's princess" in front of Buckingham Palace's gates - and saw such bitter, callous sentiments directed toward Diana such as: "You Were Too Good For Them," "We Love You," "They Don't Deserve You," "We Will Miss You Princess Diana," and "Your blood is on their hands" - but then, the sweet moment of vindication when a little girl told the thankful Queen that the bouquet she brought was for Her Royal Majesty: ("These are for you") and not the Princess; and the formal, respectful curtseys and head bows by the mourning crowds as she passed them
  • the final closing shot as recently-appointed Labour Party Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) and the Queen walked through the Royal Gardens at Buckingham Palace and amiably chatted - and opened up personally - about the issues of the day and her position as Queen: ("One in four, you said, wanted to get rid of me?...I've never been hated like that before...Nowadays, people want glamour and tears, the grand performance. I'm not very good at that. I never have been. I prefer to keep my feelings to myself, and, foolishly, I believed that was what the people wanted from their Queen - not to make a fuss, nor wear one's heart on one's sleeve. Duty first, self second. That's how I was brought up. That's all I've ever known....But I can see that the world has changed, and one must modernize")

The Railway Children (1970, UK)


  • this nostalgic Victorian era family drama by writer/director Lionel Jeffries (his directorial debut film) - one of the best childrens'/family films ever made (it was also filmed as a 1968 BBC serial)
  • the tearjerking, emotionally heart-swelling ending when missing father Charles Waterbury (Iain Cuthbertson) returned after being framed and wrongly arrested for the crime of treason and sent away to prison during Christmas. He was reunited at the train station with his oldest daughter Roberta (or Bobbie) (Jenny Agutter), as she ran along the platform and called out: ("Daddy! My Daddy!")

Rain Man (1988)

  • the emotional farewell scene between idiot savant autistic Raymond ("main man") Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) and his slick, car-dealing brother Charlie (Tom Cruise) after a memorable cross-country road trip together
  • the image of touching their heads together: (Charlie: "I like having you for my brother." Raymond: "I'm an excellent driver." Charlie: "Yes, you are. I like having you for my big brother") and then the camera slowly zoomed in. Charlie turned away, but then heard his brother spelling out his name twice: "C-H-A-R-L-I-E," followed by "Main man"
  • their parting after a short discussion at the Amtrak train station, when Charlie handed Raymond his pack: ("I guess I'd better give this to you. You're gonna have to carry this now. It's got your cheeseballs, your apple juice, notebooks, pens and 'Who's On First?' video that you like"). Then they spoke briefly with a final goodbye once Ray was on the train:
    Charlie: "Ray?"
    Raymond: "Yeah."
    Charlie: "I'll see you soon."
    Raymond: "Yeah. One for bad, two for good."
    Charlie: "Bet two for good."
    Raymond: "Yeah. Three minutes to Wapner."
    Charlie: "You'll make it."
    Raymond: "Yeah."

Ran (1985, Jp./Fr.)

  • in Akira Kurosawa's nihilistic 'samurai' version of Shakespeare's King Lear, elderly, Japanese warlord father Lord Hidetora Ichimonji (Tatsuya Nakadai) had just spoken to his loyal and youngest son Saburo Naotora Ichimonji (Daisuke Ryu), about how hopeful he was of their newfound relationship as father and son - now repaired: ("l have so much to say. When we're alone and quiet, we wiIl talk, father to son. That's aIl I want. Nothing else")
  • then, immediately afterwards, the senseless death of Saburo as he rode on horseback and slipped off his horse to the ground after being shot by a sniper, and the scene of Lord Hidetora's extreme anguish and overwhelming grief, so devastating that he perished and laid over his son's body
  • Lord Hidetora's servant Tango and Kyoami's (the "Fool" or Royal Jester character) weeping over the two - including Kyoami's cursing at God for allowing them to die: ("If you exist, hear me. You are mischievous and cruel. Are you so bored up there, you must crush us like ants? Is it such fun to see men weep?"). Tango told her to stop cursing: ("Enough! Do not bIaspheme! lt is the gods who weep. They see us kilIing each other over and over since time began. They can't save us from ourselves. Don't cry! lt's how the worId is made. Men prefer sorrow over joy, suffering over peace")

Random Harvest (1942)

  • the marriage proposal scene between WWI-era amnesiac John Smith (or "Smithy") (Ronald Colman) and music hall actress Paula Ridgeway (Greer Garson) during a picnic in the countryside, as he told her: ("My life began with you. I can't imagine a future without you...")
  • the final revelatory scene about three years later at the countryside cottage in which wealthy aristocrat Charles Rainier (also Ronald Colman), who had lost all memory of his life with Paula, approached their familiar-looking old cottage after going through the squeaky gate and blossoming bough - he used a long-treasured key to open the door. Behind him at the gate, his devoted and faithful secretary Margaret Hansen/Paula (also Greer Garson) (with tear-stained cheeks) softly called out to him: ("Smithy? Oh, Smithy! Oh, darling"). He unraveled the clue and recognized her voice - and remembered his former life being married to her - he turned around, softly responded "Paula!" to his long-lost love, and they came together to embrace and kiss as the music built to a crescendo -- and a fade to black as the film ended

The Reader (2008)

  • director Stephen Daldry's Holocaust love story, adapted by David Hare from Bernhard Schlink's neo-classic novel
  • the film's flashback to the summer of 1958 when 15 year-old virginal German schoolboy Michael Berg (David Kross, and Ralph Fiennes as an adult) engaged in an erotic, passionate and secret summer-time affair with beautiful, hard-working, uneducated, repressed 36 year-old tram conductor Hanna Schmitz (Oscar-winning Kate Winslet). They had sex on a regular basis, after which he would read literature outloud to her: (The Odyssey, Huckleberry Finn, The Lady with the Little Dog, War and Peace, and Lady Chatterley's Lover). His life was forever changed by the relationship
  • as a law student in 1966 in Heidelberg, he witnessed Hanna's Nazi war-crimes trial for being an SS guard at a satellite of Auschwitz near Cracow during the war. The trial revealed that Hanna had the weak and sickly women also read to her outloud before they were sent to the gas chambers. She admitted, falsely to the judge (to conceal her embarrassment about being illiterate), that she had written the report about the deaths of 300 trapped prisoners in a locked church fire. Unlike five other female scapegoating defendants who were sentenced to a few years in prison, she was sentenced to life imprisonment
  • in 1988 after almost twenty years in prison, Hanna was to be paroled in one week, and Michael saw her during a poignant, painful prison visit for the first time in decades during which there was no real physical contact. He had been sending her audio cassette tape recordings of his readings of her favorite books (and she had painstakingly taught herself how to read and write), fulfilling his role as "The Reader," without any other kind of correspondence or replies to her letters. She told him: "You've grown up, kid." He described how he had made arrangements for a job and apartment for her after her release. He also revealed how his own brief marriage hadn't lasted and then asked: "Have you spent a lot of time thinking about the past?" - she asked: "You mean with you?" He responded: "No, no, I didn't mean with me." She told him about her thoughts of the past: "It doesn't matter what I feel. It doesn't matter what I think. The dead are still dead." He replied: "I wasn't sure what you'd learned." She responded: "Well, I have learned, kid. I've learned to read."
  • when he returned a week later to pick her up, he sadly learned that she had committed suicide in her room - she had stacked up library books on a table (including copies of War and Peace and The Odyssey) before standing on them and hanging herself (off-screen). When he visited her cell, he was told: "She didn't pack. She never intended to leave." In her 'will,' she had written: "Tell Michael I said hello," causing him to sob uncontrollably
  • in the film's final scene in a steady rain, Michael took his grown-up daughter Julia (Hannah Herzsprung) to visit Hanna's grave in a church graveyard (where they had taken a bike ride when he was 15), as she asked: ("Who was she?") The film ended with them walking slowly away from the grave, with his voice-over: ("I was 15. I was coming home from school. I was feeling ill. And a woman helped me")

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

  • the concluding tragic scene in which panicky teen Plato (Sal Mineo), with an empty gun in his hand, attempted to flee from the observatory ("Those are not my friends, make them go away"), but was shot down by gunfire from the police cordon. Anguished by the senseless killing and his failure to avert violence with his utmost effort, Jim Stark (James Dean) cried out: ("I got the bullets! Look!"). He kneeled and crawled next to his friend's body, mourned the death of his surrogate 'son' who was unable to reach the adult world, and asked: ("Hey jerk-pot. What did ya do that for?")
  • Plato's distraught maid/housekeeper (Marietta Canty) delivered his epitaph: ("This poor baby got nobody. Just nobody") and then Jim zipped up the red jacket on his friend's corpse and told ambulance workers: ("He was always cold")

The Red Balloon (1956, Fr.) (aka Le Ballon Rouge)

  • the sad, tragic scene in this short 34-minute film in which bullies with a slingshot popped and deflated young towheaded schoolboy Pascal's (Pascal Lamorisse) beloved bright red balloon to the ground
  • the very sweet, uplifting, magical surprise ending in which Pascal discovered his resurrected red balloon accompanied by thousands of other colored balloons from around Paris, that lifted him up and carried him off on a ride to another world

The Red Shoes (1948, UK)

  • the melodramatic tragic death scene when young, red-headed prima ballerina Victoria (Vicky) Page (Moira Shearer) fell to her death just before an encore concert presentation of The Red Shoes ballet - the controlling red shoes willfilly took her to a balcony overlook and forcefully pulled her off (into the path of an oncoming train on the tracks below), followed by a closeup of her bloody legs (and tights) and feet wearing the shoes
  • her last request before dying was made to conductor-composer husband Julian Craster (Marius Goring) - to remove her red ballet shoes
  • the film's final images of the ballet - performed as planned without her (with a spotlight shining on the floor where she would have been dancing) and the announcement: "There will be no performance of The Red Shoes tonight"

The Remains of the Day (1993, UK)


  • the scene in which rigidly polite, reserved British butler James Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) presided over an international dinner function, knowing his under-butler father (Peter Vaughan) had passed away
  • the touching scene in which Stevens was reluctant to reveal the book he was reading ("a sentimental old love story") to housekeeper Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), after she playfully asked: ("Are you reading a racy book?...What is it? Let me see it. Let me see your book....Why won't you show me your book?...What's in that book? Come on, let me see. Or are you protecting me? Is that what you're doing? Would I be shocked? Would it ruin my character? Let me see it"). He admitted embarrassingly: ("I read these books, any books, to develop my command and knowledge of the English language. I read to further my education, Miss Kenton")
  • the final farewell scene of urgent, but unfulfilled and repressed longing and love between Miss Kenton (now Mrs. Benn) and Stevens in a rainstorm - he wished her well in the future: ("You must take good care of yourself, Mrs. Benn...You must try to do all you can to make these years happy ones for yourself and for your husband. We may never meet again, Mrs. Benn. That is why I am permitting myself to be so personal, if you will forgive me"). When she was about to depart on a bus, they shared a lingering handshake. Stevens tipped his hat to her as the bus pulled away, and then finally showed an outward emotion of regret when he let himself cry afterwards in his car. The splattering raindrops on the windshield obscured his own tears

The Road Home (1999, China) (aka Wo de fu qin mu qin)

  • the brilliant sequences (flashbacking to the past 40 years earlier) shot in vibrant color in this old-fashioned love story with a grandiose score, about the legendary courtship of a son's parents
  • the unique and legendary 'romantic love' courtship period when two young people fell in love at first sight: young, bright red-jacketed, pig-tailed and infatuated Di Zhao (Zhang Ziyi) and her future husband Changyu Luo (Zheng Hao) - a teacher from the city who came to her small rural village of Sanhetun in Northern China
  • the scenes of her painstakingly preparing a meal dish for the working men building the schoolhouse - hoping that Luo would choose her food
  • the scenes of Di's loss of a prized red/black/pink hair barrette given to her by Luo (she told him: "I'll be waiting")
  • her long and urgent cross-country chase after her beloved's horse-drawn cart when he abruptly left town and she tripped and broke her meal dish (of mushroom dumplings) - and then heartbroken, she cried piteously
  • the scenes of her waiting in the bitter freezing cold for Luo's return - told in flashback: (voice-over: "On the day my father promised to return, my mother started waiting at dawn. She remembered his promise that he would return on the 27th before the school holiday began on the 28th. He had to be back before that"); and then waiting again for his return for the last time, after becoming sick: (voice-over: "That evening, my father had to leave again. He left the city without permission, just to see my mother. He couldn't stand it when he heard about my mother. So he sneaked back. For this disobedience, my parents were kept apart for another two years. Someone told me that on the day my father finally returned, my mother put on her red jacket, my father's favourite, and stood by the road waiting for him. From that day on, my father never left my mother again")

The Roaring Twenties (1939)

  • the memorable bloody death scene of rough gangster Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney), shot in the back as he fled, and dying on the snow-covered steps of a church, cradled lifelessly in the arms of Panama Smith (Gladys George). She delivered his epitaph - spoken to a curious cop:

    Cop: Who is this guy?
    Panama: This is Eddie Bartlett.
    Cop: Well, how are you hooked up with him?
    Panama: I could never figure it out.
    Cop: What was his business?
    Panama: He used to be a big shot.

RoboCop (1987)

  • the heart-breaking scene in which RoboCop (Peter Weller) relived and recalled past events from his life. RoboCop strolled through his former home at 548 Primrose Lane (now up for sale after his wife and son had moved away), with intermittent, ghost-like flash-backs of his old life as Police Officer Alex Murphy. There were POV shots of his son Jimmy (Jason Levine) watching TV, his discovery of a family photo in the kitchen, and his pink-robed wife Ellen (Angie Bolling) in the bedroom intimately telling him: ("I really have to tell you something...I love you!"). As RoboCop left the property, he punched the TV with a video-realtor imploring: ("Hey, have you thought it all over? Why not make me an offer?")

Rocky (1976)


  • the climactic ending in which boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), after "going the distance" of 15 rounds with champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) (and losing in a split decision), ignored interviewers and press crowding him in the ring, and instead called out for Adrian (Talia Shire): ("Adrian! ADRIAAAN!") Finally, after reaching her, he held and lovingly embraced her with a mutual "I love you!" to the sound of Bill Conti's triumphant score

Rocky III (1982)

  • the scenes surrounding the traumatic death of Rocky's (Sylvester Stallone) long-time, loyal trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) - during Rocky's defense of his title against James "Clubber" Lang (Mr. 'T') in Philadelphia in 1981. Even before the big contest, a name-calling brawl broke out between the two opponents as they approached the ring. Mickey was shoved aside by a charged-up and angry Lang and suffered a heart attack. As ailing Mickey was cared for in the dressing room, he urged Rocky to go out and fight: ("Take him, take him good. Get it over with, why don't you?...Now get out there and do it")
  • in the championship match-up, Lang won with an upset defeat of Rocky in the second round. Rocky returned to the dressing room where Mickey was dying, and still awaiting an ambulance. He told Mickey about the "knock-out" defeat (misinterpreted by Mickey as a win for Rocky), to which the delirious trainer replied: ("I love you, kid") - before expiring. Rocky collapsed onto the chest of his long-time friend and deeply wailed and mourned the loss: ("Mick, don't go away. We got more to do...').
  • the scene of a small memorial service at a mausoleum was led by a Jewish rabbi (Gravemarker: In Loving Memory, Mickey Goldmill, April 7, 1905-August 15, 1981)

Roman Holiday (1953)

  • the sad goodbye scene between Princess Ann (Audrey Hepburn) and commoner newspaper reporter Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) after they had spent a wonderful day together. She gave Joe difficult-to-hear directions after he drove her to the Embassy gate so she could return to her royal duties: ("I have to leave you now. I'm going to that corner there and turn. You must stay in the car and drive away. Promise not to watch me go beyond the corner. Just drive away and leave me as I leave you... I don't know how to say goodbye. I can't think of any words") - Joe suggested: "Don't try" - and they sadly hugged and kissed each other for the last time
  • the bittersweet scene of the Princess' final press conference in which Princess Ann said farewell to all the city's newspapermen - and to Joe - in the lineup. They both had to pretend that they didn't know each other. She could only be polite and impersonal: ("So happy Mr. Bradley") and not reveal the secret of her day with him. During her final goodbye to everyone, she slowly turned toward the audience, gave a wide smile toward everyone (and then directly towards Joe), held the tear-inducing gaze, and then departed.
  • after the press corps left, Joe stared at the door through which she left, never to see her again - with echoing footsteps, he slowly walked out of the room. The camera with a backward-moving tracking shot followed his retreat from the girl he had loved, as he turned one last time at the end of the hall to sadly look back before leaving

Roma, Citta Aperta (1945, It.) (aka Open City)

  • the shocking, realistic scene in which pregnant widow Pina (Anna Magnani) ran after a military truck hysterically screaming the name of her lithographer fiancee and underground leader Francesco (Francesco Grandjacquet) who was being driven away, when she was abruptly machine-gunned in the street and killed on her planned wedding day. She was murdered in front of her ten year-old son Marcello (Vito Annichiarico) and brave parish priest Don Pietro (Aldo Fabrizi), who both rushed to her side

Romeo and Juliet (1968, UK/It.)


  • Franco Zeffirelli's beautiful version of the classic Shakespearean "tale of two star-crossed lovers"
  • the classic double-suicide, Romeo's (Leonard Whiting) poisoning and especially Juliet's (Olivia Hussey) "potion" and "happy dagger" scenes, when she realized that Romeo had died only a few moments earlier: ("What's here? Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end. (She tried to drink from the poison vial.) O churl! Drunk all, and left no friendly drop to help me after! I will kiss thy lips. Haply some poison yet doth hang on them to make me die with a restorative. Thy lips are warm. Oh, no, no!"); and then Juliet's own death, when Juliet picked up Romeo's dagger, stabbed herself in the chest, and inevitably joined her love in marriage-death - she crumbled over his body: ("O happy dagger! This is thy sheath. There rust and let me die")
  • to the sound of tolling bells, the final somber epilogue with the funeral procession of the corpses of the two dead teens, who were carried up church steps to be laid in front of the Prince who pronounced judgment on the two feuding families: ("Where be these enemies? Capulet! Montague! See what a scourge is laid upon your hate; That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love; And I, for winking at your discords too, Have lost a brace of kinsmen; All are punished. All are punished! (ECHO: punished!))"
  • the off-screen narration of Laurence Olivier: ("A glooming peace this morning with it brings. The sun for sorrow will not show his head, For never was a story of more woe, Than this of Juliet and her Romeo")

Rudy (1993)


  • the climactic and inspirational scene (based on a true story) in this sports drama in which underdog, small-framed and big-hearted Daniel E. 'Rudy' Ruettiger (Sean Astin), with unwavering determination, overcame unsurmountable odds
  • in the only play of his career (wearing jersey # 45), which lasted just 27 seconds, he sacked the Georgia Tech quarterback and thereby won the game for his team, and was victoriously carried off the field on the shoulders of his Fighting Irish Notre Dame football teammates in 1975 - fulfilling his dreams and having his family witness his triumph

The Rules of the Game (1939, Fr.) (aka La Regle du Jeu)

  • the famous scene of the shooting party, featuring the graphic slaughter of a number of pheasants and rabbits, with the disturbing shot of a rabbit in the last throes of dying, clutching its fore-paws to its breast
  • the sweet, heart-breaking scene in which upper-class heiress Christine de la Cheyniest (Nora Gregor) admitted in a greenhouse that she loved her close friend - the clownish, middle-aged, low-brow Mr. Octave (director Jean Renoir):

    Christine: "You know, it's you I love. Do you love me?"
    Octave: "Yes, Christine. I love you."
    Christine: "Then kiss me."

    When Octave gave her a warm peck on the cheek, Christine protested: ("On the mouth, like a lover"). Octave admitted his secret love (although he knew that she was unsuited for him in terms of class), and they kissed each other passionately, impulsively deciding to romantically run off together (taking a 3 am train). This was an impossibility when he was soon brought back to reality, but ended with a tragic misunderstanding and "accident" nonetheless.

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