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

Bang the Drum Slowly (1973)

  • the tearjerking relationship between two ball players during a baseball season: mentally-slow catcher Bruce Pearson (Robert De Niro), who was diagnosed with incurable Hodgkin's Disease, and his protective best friend and star pitcher Henry "Author" Wiggen (Michael Moriarty)
  • the poignant performance of "Streets of Laredo (The Cowboy's Lament)" by cowboy 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...")
  • the final good-bye between Henry and Bruce after the season ended -- 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...don't forget to send me a scorecard from the Series")
  • and the very next scene of Bruce's funeral which none of his team-mates attended, with Henry's narrated last lines: ("...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 on nobody.")

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."

*batteries not included (1987)

  • the scene in this bizarre sci-fi fantasy in which tough Hispanic gang leader Carlos (Michael Carmine) -- whom silver-haired severe Alzheimer's patient Faye Riley (Jessica Tandy) mistakenly thought was her deceased son Bobby, had a change of allegiance and rescued Faye from a fire he had been hired to deliberately set in her apartment complex, with Faye looking at news clippings of her son's death
  • the complex, heart-breaking, non-formulaic scene in which Faye's patient and clear-headed husband Frank (Hume Cronyn) attempted to cheer her up in the hospital by presenting Carlos as Bobby ("Faye, look who's here! It's Bobby! He came back, how about that?") --- Faye, who was distraught over the departure of her alien mechanical life-form friends, sobbed in Frank's arms: "That's not Bobby" - she had finally acknowledged her real son's death over 40 years earlier, and at the same time dashed Carlos' hopes of redemption. He dumped the flowers he brought to give her in a trash can as he silently left

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)


  • the scene in which daughter Victoria Cecilia Essex (Grace Johnston) found her uptight WASP single mother Hillary Whitney Essex (Barbara Hershey) 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 (Bette Midler) - to take her from the hospital to live out her last days at a Pacific Ocean beach house
  • the scene of their conversation while playing cards, 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 and Death
  • after Hillary's death, the 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?")

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?")

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

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

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

Big Fish (2003)

  • a 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)
  • in Ed's dying moments, it was revealed what Ed had seen in the witch's/Jenny Hill's (Helena Bonham Carter) glass eye ("with mystical powers") - Ed's moment of death - that he died in the river surrounded by all the people he had met on his far-flung adventures
  • the real-life versions of the people from Ed's stories turned up to bid their final farewells and pay respects at his death, in a story that Will told his dying father about their imagined escape from the hospital to a nearby lake; 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

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 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 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

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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