Greatest Tearjerkers
Scenes and Movie Moments
of All-Time


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

Touching the Void (2003, UK/US)


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

Toy Story 2 (1999)

  • in a flashback sequence, Jesse the Yodeling Cowgirl's (voice of Joan Cusack) touching torch song: "When She Loved Me" (performed by Sarah McLachlan):

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

    Jesse described to Woody (voice of Tom Hanks) her sorrow. In the visuals during the song, beloved owner Emily matured into a teenager - and no longer played with toys (but was more interested in nail polish and makeup, parties and boyfriends) - thereby abandoning her under her bed; years later when the toy was rediscovered, Jesse's hopes were dashed when Emily left her in a cardboard charity donation box on the side of the road
  • Jesse's sorrowful words to Woody were about her previous toy owners: "You never forget kids like Emily or Andy. But they forget you"

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

  • the first segment of Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Three Colors" Trilogy
  • the raw, intensely emotional tale of composer-wife Julie Vignon-de Courcy (Juliette Binoche) who unexpectedly lost her husband Patrice de Courcy and daughter Anna in a car accident (on a foggy road, the vehicle ran into a tree) that she had survived, and her inability to cope with the tragedy - completely deadened and unable to outwardly display any sense of loss or grief except the most subtle displays
  • the scene in the hospital where suicidal Julie was caught trying to swallow an overdose of pills, but couldn't actually swallow them
  • at her hospital bed in which Julie watched the funeral - with the dark shadow of her finger tracing the image of her daughter's small coffin on a tiny LCD TV screen
  • the scenes in which Julie attempte to commit "spiritual suicide" by disassociating herself from her past - including floating face down in a pool bathed in a blue light to escape
  • the scene of her frozen reaction to exotic dancer-friend Lucille (Charlotte Véry) touching one of her past's sole mementos: her daughter's blue crystal beads mobile
  • other scenes in which Julie destroyed her late husband's last composition and gave his estate to his pregnant mistress Sandrine (Florence Pernel)
  • the final image - Julie crying - a rare sight

Truly Madly Deeply (1990, UK)


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

The Truman Show (1998)

  • the triumphant moment in which unwitting reality-TV show star Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) rejected omniscient, God-like producer Christof's (Ed Harris) plea to remain in the artificial world (where he had "nothing to fear" - "You belong here with me") rather than venture into the real world (with "the same lies, the same deceit"). Truman smiled beatifically at the camera, and sarcastically uttered his cheerful catchphrase: ("In case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!"), took a deep farewell bow, and then exited from the massive set through the stage door to freedom from the virtual prison of Seahaven Island's massive set and a new existence (to the sounds of Philip Glass' stirring "The Opening from Mishima") - as TV's Truman Show ceased transmission

12 Monkeys (1995) (aka Twelve Monkeys)

  • in the film's conclusion, the sad, long drawn-out death scene of time-traveling, delusional convict James Cole (Bruce Willis), who was shot in the Philadelphia airport by security guards, and was mourned over by grieving present-day blonde lover, psychiatrist Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), as a young incarnation of himself (Joseph Melito) looked on and was knowingly recognized by Kathryn as he witnessed his own death

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, UK)

  • the scene in which astronaut David Bowman (Keir Dullea) incapacitated-lobotomized the sentient HAL-9000 computer (voice of Douglas Rain) by turning off his higher functions as HAL begged: ("Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave? Stop, Dave. I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a-fraid...")
  • HAL's end of life as he mindlessly sang "Daisy" or "A Bicycle Built for Two"

2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)

  • the scene on Earth, in which the ghost (an incorporeal being) of astronaut David Bowman (Keir Dullea) visited his former wife Betty Fernandez (Mary Jo Deschanel) - now remarried. he appeared on her television screen to check on her and say good-bye for one last time: ("I remember Dave Bowman and everything about him...All Dave Bowman really was is still a part of me...Something's gonna happen and I wanted to say goodbye...something wonderful"); he also paid a visit to his terminally-ill mother before her death
  • the tearful scene in which Dr. Chandra (Bob Balaban), HAL-9000's creator, told HAL (voice of Douglas Rain) the truth -- that they intended to sacrifice HAL on the spaceship Discovery One to escape an imploding Jupiter (due to rapidly-multiplying Monoliths and a nuclear fusion reaction)
  • HAL's quiet and dignified acceptance of his fate - and his thanks: ("I understand now, Dr. Chandra...Thank you for telling me the truth"), and Chandra's response and farewell: ("You deserve it...Thank you, HAL")
  • the fond, final exchange between an ethereal David and a doomed HAL: (HAL: "I'm afraid." David: "Don't be. We'll be together")
  • Dr. Heywood R. Floyd's (Roy Scheider) final transcendent speech and transmission, to his son Christopher (Taliesin Jaffe), about the miraculous appearance of a second star in the sky (the remains of Jupiter) and his dreams of long-lasting interplanetary friendship and peace: ("My dear Christopher. This is the last time I'll be able to speak to you for a long while. I'm trying to put into words what has happened. Maybe that's for historians to do sometime later. They will record that the next day, the President of the United States looked out of the White House window and the Premier of the Soviet Union looked out of the Kremlin window and saw the new distant sun in the sky. They read the message, and perhaps they learned something because they finally recalled their ships and their planes. I'm going to sleep now. And I will dream of you and your mother. I will sleep knowing that you are both safe, that the fear is over. We have seen the process of life take place. Maybe this is the way it happened on Earth millions of years ago. Maybe it's something completely different. I still don't know really what the Monolith is. I think it's many things. An embassy for an intelligence beyond ours, a shape of some kind for something that has no shape. Your children will be born in a world of two suns. They will never know a sky without them. You can tell them that you remember when there was a pitch black sky with no bright star, and people feared the night. You can tell them when we were alone, when we couldn't point to the light and say to ourselves: 'There is life out there.' Someday the children of the new sun will meet the children of the old. I think they will be our friends. You can tell your children of the day when everyone looked up and realized that we were only tenants of this world. We have been given a new lease -- and a warning -- from the landlord.")
  • the final evocative shot of the Monolith in a primordial jungle on Europa as Richard Strauss' Thus Spake Zarasthustra plays

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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