Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time


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

Bambi (1942)


  • the heartbreaking scene in which young fawn Bambi (voice of Bobby Stewart) was with his mother (voice of Paula Winslow) in the snowy meadow, grazing on some exposed green plants. Suddenly, she sensed a human presence -- and warned: "Bambi. Quick! The thicket!" There were gunshots as they both raced away. She encouraged: "Faster! Faster, Bambi! Don't look back. Keep running! Keep running!"
  • As Bambi ran and ducked behind a snowbank - and made it to the protective thicket, there was a fateful gunshot. Bambi turned and exclaimed while panting: "We made it! We made it, Mother! We...", but his Mother was nowhere in sight. Bambi emerged, asking and calling out: "Mother. Mother! Mother, where are you?!" He fruitlessly searched for her during a raging snowstorm, not knowing she had been killed by a human hunter
  • after not finding her and hearing no response, the young fawn Bambi began to sob, and then gasped at the imposing sight of his stag father, the Great Prince of the Forest, who stated: ("Your mother can't be with you anymore"). A tear formed in Bambi's eye as he looked up, and was told: "Come. My son." He followed, but looked back one last time in the direction of where his mother had been
"Your mother can't be with you anymore"

Fateful Gunshot

Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

  • the tearjerking relationship between two ball players on the New York Mammoths (a fictional team) during a baseball season: mentally-slow catcher Bruce Pearson (Robert De Niro) from Georgia, who was diagnosed with incurable Hodgkin's Disease, and his protective best friend and star pitcher Henry "Author" Wiggen (Michael Moriarty) [Note: The nickname was given to him because he wrote a book. Bruce often referred to Henry as 'Arthur'.]; Henry was protective of Bruce, especially due to his vulnerability to his opportunistic girlfriend Katie
  • the poignant performance of "Streets of Laredo (The Cowboy's Lament)" by country-boy cowboy and team-mate Piney Woods (Tim Ligon) about a dying cowboy's funeral wishes ("...Oh, bang the drum slowly and play the fife lowly / Play the dead march as you carry me along..."); Piney was a hot prospect for the season
  • the final good-bye between Henry and Bruce after the regular season ended (before the Series) when Bruce returned home to his parents (to die) -- as Bruce bid farewell to his friend: ("Thanks for everything Author. Thanks. And I'll be back in the spring. I'll be in shape then, you'll see...Hey Author, don't forget to send me a scorecard from the Series")
Final Goodbye Scene at the Airport Between Henry and Bruce
  • and the very next scene of Bruce's funeral which none of his team-mates attended, with Henry's voice-over narrated last lines; he lamented that he neglected to send Bruce the World Series scorecard: ("...We breezed through the playoffs and wrapped up the Series on a Sunday - my win. I took the scorecard home and threw it on the shelf and left it lay there. It would have been simple to shove it in the mail. How long would it have took? Couldn't I afford the stamps?..."
  • then, Henry explained how he was the only one present at Bruce's funeral in Georgia from the team: "I was his pallbearer - me and some local boys. There were flowers from the club, but no person from the club. They could've sent somebody. He wasn't a bad fella, no worse than most, and probably better than some -- and not a bad ballplayer neither, when they gave him a chance, when they laid off him long enough. From here on in, I rag nobody")

Bruce Pearson (Robert De Niro)

Henry "Author" Wiggen (Michael Moriarty)

Piney Woods' "The Streets of Laredo" Song

Henry - the Sole Team Participant at Bruce's Funeral

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

  • the downbeat and sad ending, in which Dark Knight Batman/Bruce Wayne's (voice of Kevin Conroy) true love and ex-fiancee Andrea Beaumont (voice of Dana Delany), the daughter of a wealthy lawyer with ties to the mob - was surprisingly revealed to be the murderous and vengeful Phantasm - and decided against a future life with Bruce
  • Bruce's mourning of his loss to consoling loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth (voice of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr): ("I don't think she wanted to be saved, sir. Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I've always feared you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven't fallen in and I thank heaven for that. But Andrea fell into that pit years ago, and no one, not even you, could have pulled her back")
  • Bruce's discovery of Andrea's shiny pendant, which he clutched tearfully
  • and the following scene that revealed a troubled and melancholy Andrea standing alone on a moonlit cruise ship deck - when a tipsy partygoer asked her if she wanted to be alone, she sighed: "I am."
Andrea's Grief

Bruce/Batman's Mourning About the Loss of Andrea to Alfred

Clutching Andrea's Pendant

*batteries not included (1987)

  • in the plot of this bizarre sci-fi fantasy, small extraterrestrial living spaceships helped to try and save an East Village apartment building under threat from property development; the building was managed by an elderly couple, Frank (Hume Cronyn) and silver-haired Faye Riley (Jessica Tandy)
  • the crooked development manager named Lacy (Michael Greene) sent tough Hispanic gang leader Carlos (Michael Carmine) to intimidate and bribe the Rileys and the other tenants - without success, until some of the residents decided to move on
  • to the Riley's surprise, tiny alien spaceships arrived to repair damage and to save the building - they were nicknamed "The Fix-Its" by the remaining residents, and for a long while, they were able to foil the developers' plans
  • frustrated by delays, Lacy hired an arsonist to deliberately set a fire and burn down the apartment complex, to force the residents out; as the destruction was occurring, Carlos discovered that Faye was still in the building, and with a change of allegiance, he posed as Faye's deceased son Bobby to get her transported to a hospital; he was able to convince Faye (a severely afflicted Alzheimer's patient) to believe him, by showing Faye news clippings of her son's death
  • meanwhile, the mechanical family of 'Fix-Its' returned to entirely repair the building to its original condition
  • in a complex, heart-breaking, non-formulaic scene, Carlos appeared in the hospital where Faye was a patient - he appeared with flowers and donuts; Faye's clear-headed husband Frank who was visiting attempted to cheer Faye up by presenting Carlos as Bobby: ("Faye, look who's here! It's Bobby! He came back, how about that?")
Carlos' Failed Attempt to Pose as Faye's Deceased Son
  • Faye, who was distraught over the departure of her alien mechanical life-form friends, began to sob as Frank embraced her; then she blurted out: "That's not Bobby" - she had finally come to terms and acknowledged her real son's death over 40 years earlier, and at the same time dashed Carlos' hopes of redemption
  • on his way down the hall and out of the hospital as he silently left, Carlos dumped the flowers he brought to give her in a trash can

The "Return" of the 'Fix-Its'

The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996)

  • the sorrowful, downbeat conclusion (or epitaph) in this made-for-TV documentary in which a teary-eyed and regretful Orson Welles commented on his professional struggle to finance and make films after Citizen Kane (1941), and how he should have quit the movies: ("I have wasted the greater part of my life looking for money and trying to get along, trying to make my work from this terribly expensive paint-box, which is a movie. And I've spent too much energy on things that have nothing to do with making a movie. It's about two percent movie-making and ninety-eight percent hustling. It's no way to spend a life")

Beaches (1988)


  • in flashback, the fateful meeting in 1958 of New York child performer Cecilia Carol "C.C." Bloom (Bette Midler as adult, Mayim Bialik as 11 year old) with San Francisco rich kid Hillary Whitney (Barbara Hershey as adult, Marcie Leeds as 11 year old) at an Atlantic City holiday resort - the beginnings of a life-long friendship
  • the scene in which Hillary's daughter Victoria Cecilia Essex (Grace Johnston) found her uptight WASP single mother Hillary Whitney Essex collapsed on the bedroom floor when she was in the last stages of her terminal cardiac disease (viral cardiomyopathy)
  • the hospital scene following in which Hillary asked her life-long best friend - brassy, Jewish, low-brow and spirited NY singer/entertainer C.C. Cecilia Bloom - to take her from the hospital ("I don't want Victoria to see me here") to live out her last days at a Pacific Ocean beach house (C.C. to Staff: "Who do I speak to about getting Hillary Whitney released?...Yes, I know how sick she is, and so does she. She wants to go")
  • the scene of their conversation while playing cards at the beach, when C.C. told Hillary: "Listen, I know everything there is to know about you and my memory is long. My memory is very, very long" - followed by Hillary's response to herself: "I'm counting on it"
  • Cecilia's (or Bette Midler's) rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" on the soundtrack as they watched a final sunset together - ending with Hillary's funeral after her death
Hillary's Final Days at Hospital and Death at the Beach House

"I don't want Victoria to see me here."

C.C. Requesting Hillary's Release From Hospital

Sunset Goodbye
  • after Hillary's death, there was a tear-jerking scene of C.C. discussing the future with Hillary's teary-eyed daughter Victoria, inviting her to come live with her and admitting her selfishness: ("If you don't want to come with me, Victoria, I - I will understand. I'll understand. I mean, I don't know what kind of a mother I'd make. You wouldn't believe the things that go through my head sometimes. And I'm very selfish too. I don't know what she was thinking of when she picked me. Now that I don't want to do it, there's nothing in the world I want more than to be with you. You think about it"), and Victoria's request: "C.C.? if I go with you, can I bring my cat?" - with C.C.'s reply: "Of course you can bring your cat. You can bring any old thing you want" - the two consoled each other's grief with a strong embrace
  • C.C.'s resumed performance at the Hollywood Bowl - singing an encore tribute song "The Glory of Love" to her friend, while wearing a wine-velvet gown: ("Ya gotta laugh a little, cry a little and til the clouds roll by a little / That's the story of, that's the glory of love...") with Victoria watching back-stage - afterwards, they walked off together, hand-in-hand, as C.C. told the young girl about first meeting Hillary in 1958 under the boardwalk on the beach at Atlantic City, NJ: ("I sang that song the day your mother and I met in Atlantic City. We were just about your age. Did you know that?...We met when I was under the boardwalk smoking cigarettes")
  • a concluding flashback (in color and then freeze-framed black and white) of 11 year-olds Hillary (Marcie Leeds) and C.C. (Mayim Bialik) having their pictures taken in a photo booth on the day they first met in Atlantic City on the boardwalk - as they promised always to write to each other - in voice-over: ("Be sure to keep in touch, C.C., OK? Well sure, we're friends, aren't we?")
Flashback to 11 year Olds

Hillary Found by Daughter Victoria Collapsed on Bedroom Floor

C.C. to Hillary: "My memory is very, very long"

Hillary: "I'm counting on it"

C.C. and Victoria At Hillary's Funeral

C.C.'s Talk with Hillary's Daughter Victoria

"The Glory of Love"

Beau Geste (1939)

  • the scene in which John Geste (Ray Milland) presented Lady Patricia (Heather Thatcher) with a letter from brother Beau (Gary Cooper), disclosing that her prized valuable gem - "The Blue Water" sapphire, had been sold years before and that Beau had stolen a substitute gem to save her the embarrassment of selling it - she read the letter aloud at the foot of the stairs: ("I was inside the suit of armor in the hall the day you sold the Blue Water to the Maharajah's agent and received an imitation to take its place. When the wire from Sir Hector came, I thought I could repay your devotion to us by giving Brandon Abbas its first robbery. So the lights went out and so did Beau. Lovingly, Beau Geste")
  • after reading the letter, she delivered a tearful last line of thanks: ("Beau Geste? Gallant gesture. We didn't name him wrongly, did we?")

"We didn't name him wrongly, did we?"

Before Sunrise (1995)

  • the concluding hours between two young tourists: American Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and French Celine (Julie Delpy), after roaming around Vienna throughout the night, when they realized that they would have to part
  • the concluding heartbreaking scene set in the train station when they hastily split with a few final kisses and embraces: ("OK, I guess this is it, no?...Have a great life. Have fun with everything you're gonna do!"). They vowed to see each other again in exactly six months at the same location, and then boarded separate trains (and each reflected upon their time together as the film returned to the locations they had visited which were now empty) - to the sound of Bach's Andante from Sonata No. 1 in G Major for Viola

Train Station Goodbye and Vow to Meet 6 Months Later

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

  • war veteran double amputee Homer Parrish's (Harold Russell) self-loathing homecoming with his family when his mother (Minna Gombell) first noticed her son's hooks/hands
  • Homer's speech to his fiancee Wilma Cameron (Cathy O'Donnell) later in the bedroom: ("Well, now you know, Wilma. Now you have an idea of what it is. I guess you don't know what to say. It's all right. Go on home. Go away like your family said")
  • Wilma's refusal to abandon Homer - her vow of devoted, steadfast love for Homer and that nothing had changed her love for him: ("I love you and I'm never going to leave you, never") as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him, before helping him to bed. After she left, Homer laid in bed, staring upward at the ceiling, with tears welling up and streaming down

Homer's Awkward Homecoming

Homer in Bedroom with Fiancee Wilma

The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)

  • in a touching and sentimental scene, womanizing radio host Buzz Fielding (Bob Hope) and ex-wife Cleo Fielding (Shirley Ross) serenaded each other with a duet of the Academy Award-winning Best Song Thanks For the Memory. [Note: this was the song that would launch Hope's career and become his famous trademark or signature theme song.]
  • they sang as they shared drinks, poignantly and slightly regretfully looking back on the good times they had experienced within their failed relationship
  • he began singing with "Thanks for the memory / Of rainy afternoons / Swinging Harlem tunes/ Motortrips and burning lips / And burning toast and prunes" and she joined in: "How lovely it was / Thanks for the memory / Of candlelight and wine / Castles on the Rhine / The Parthenon..." as they continued to alternate the lyrics
  • their singing ended wistfully, as they clinked their glasses together again and sang: "Hooray for us." She asked, still singing: "Strictly entre nous, darling, how are you?" and he replied: "And how are all those little dreams that never did come true?" She responded: "Awfully glad I met you," with his response: "Cheerio, toodle-oo." She collapsed in tears in his arms when they finished

"Thanks For the Memory"

Big Fish (2003)

  • Tim Burton's fantasy drama with a series of dramatized fanciful stories, legends, myths, whimsical and magical autobiography - when estranged and doubting prodigal son Will (Billy Crudup as adult son) returned home to console and confront his tall tale-telling, dying cancer victim father Ed Bloom (Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor as a younger traveling salesman); Will had spent his life struggling to determine what was 'fact' and/or 'fiction' in his father's life
  • in Ed's dying moments, it was revealed what Ed had seen his own moment of death in the glass eye ("with mystical powers") of a witch/Jenny Hill (Helena - he saw that he died in the river surrounded by all the people he had met on his far-flung adventures
  • while Will was at his father's bedside in the hospital, he told his father of their imagined daring escape from the hospital -- Ed was revived, removed his breathing apparatus and affirmed: "Let's get outta here!"; he ordered Will to get his wheelchair and get him out of the hospital; they raced in Ed's old red Charger to the river side
  • at the river, the real-life versions of the people from Ed's stories turned up to bid their final farewells and pay respects at his death - this illustrated to Will that his father's tall tales were very close to reality: (Will: "We see that everybody is already there. And I mean everyone. It's unbelievable." Ed: "The story of my life." Will: "And the strange thing is, there's not a sad face to be found. Everyone is just so glad to see you and send you off right")
  • as Ed was carried to the river's edge by Will to be dipped in the water, he bid everyone goodbye: "Goodbye, everybody! Farewell! Adieu!" He was transformed into the 'big fish' (a giant catfish) that he always wanted to be - a beautiful metaphoric death
Death Scene: Ed Carried to River's Edge, Where He Was Transformed into a "Big Fish"

Dying Father Ed Bloom (Albert Finney)

Son's Imagined Story of Ed's Death

"Let's get outta here!" - Flight From the Hospital to the River

The Big Heat (1953)

  • director Fritz Lang's landmark bleak, film noir crime classic and violent melodrama
  • the scene in which homicide Police Sergeant Dave Bannion's (Glenn Ford) pretty wife Katherine 'Katie' (Jocelyn Brando) was killed in a car-bombing intended for him
  • the retaliatory scene in which heroine Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame), the beautiful moll and kept-woman of sadistic, reflexive, cold-blooded Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) sought revenge with hot coffee, but was shot fatally twice in the back - Bannion sympathetically cradled her head with her mink coat while kneeling at her side, although she pulled it up to hide her disfigured face. She expressed peacefulness in her final words when she referred to Bannion's murdered wife: ("I like her...I like her alot")

The Car-Bombing Accidental Death of Bannion's Wife 'Katie'

The Death of Face-Disfigured Debby Marsh

The Big Parade (1925)

  • the scene of French girl Melisande's (Renee Adoree) farewell to her lover, World War I American soldier James Apperson (John Gilbert), as he was taken away in an army truck and she ran after it -- James tossed his watch, dog-tags chain and shoe to her, which she clutched to her breast
  • the scene of James' return from war and amputation, as he came down a French road in a traveling suit - hobbling on a wooden leg and steadied with a cane, returning to the girl of his dreams as he promised. In the gripping, moving finale, he tried feverishly to quicken his pace and run into her arms, as they called out: "MELISANDE! JIMMEE!" They were finally reunited and overjoyed as they embraced and hugged each other once more

The Gripping Farewell Scene

James' Return

The Birth of a Nation (1915)

  • mentally and physically scarred Benjamin "The Little Colonel" Cameron's (Henry B. Walthall) homecoming, in which his arrival on the doorstep of his old ruined home was greeted by a hug from his initially reticent sister Flora (Mae Marsh) -- and the brilliant side-shot in which the house itself seemed to beckon him back home as hands and arms of his unseen mother (Josephine Crowell) held him lovingly and pulled him inside

"The Little Colonel" Returning Home

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

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