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

Blade Runner (1982)

  • bladerunner cop Rick Deckard's (Harrison Ford) cruel undressing of Rachael's (Sean Young) humanity when she insisted that she was human (by showing him a picture of her and her mother and by describing her intimate, implanted memories first about playing doctor with her brother and then seeing a spider egg hatching) with his retort: ("Implants! Those aren't your memories. They're somebody else's. They're Tyrell's niece's [memories]") - the retraction of his comments came too late, as a tear flowed liberally down Rachael's cheek -- followed by a long shot of her throwing the photo to the floor and fleeing Deckard's apartment (later, she would tearfully come to terms with her artificiality: "I'm not in the business. I am the business")
  • the famous scene in which replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) gave a poignant, eloquent speech before dying, after he had saved Deckard's life: ("I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die")

A Tearful Rachael

Replicant Roy's Eloquent Speech at Death

Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

  • in a shocking and tense "ballet of blood" finale - an ultra-violent, country backroads ambush was set for outlaw doomed lovers Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway) and Clyde Barrow (Warren Beatty) - in their final freeze-frame of life, with a silent glance at each other, Bonnie and Clyde revealed both panic and love in their faces - knowing that something was ominously wrong and that they were facing their ultimate destruction, the natural result of the escalating violence
  • their frenzied corpses writhed in slow-motion as they were gunned down, 'shot,' and riddled with bullets - they died cinematically-beautiful, abstracted deaths to accentuate the romance of the myths and the larger-than-life legends that surrounded them. Their last moment of 'life' occurred when Clyde rolled over gently in slow-motion and Bonnie's arm dangled unnaturally and then stopped moving. Bonnie's flowing blonde hair, streaked in sunlight and gently blowing in the breeze, cascaded down in many arcs as she hung out of the car

Last Glances

Riddled With Bullets

Born Free (1966, UK/US)


  • the scene in which adult lion Elsa, previously the youngest of a trio of orphaned cubs, was released into the wild to enjoy a free life after being tested to assure that she could feed herself and survive during a three month period, after being raised by two Kenyan game wardens George and Joy Adamson (husband and wife Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna)
  • the couple became very worried when after releasing Elsa into the wild, she wasn't able to easily assimilate into a pride of lions, and once returned to them injured; Joy was concerned: ("All my nightmares had come true"), and George argued she'd be safer in a zoo: ("It won't do. Look, by now it's perfectly obvious she can't make it. She can't fend for herself, she can't mix with her own Kind, she can't do anything a wild lion must do to survive. We've - You've done too good a job on her. We've made her tame, and it's too late to try to let her go wild now. All we're doing is making her miserable, torturing her. How can you be so cruel?")
  • although George thought a zoo might be the best option, Joy was adamant that Elsa should remain free and not live in a cage for the rest of her life: "She was born free, and she has the right to live free. Why don't we live in some nice comfortable city, George? Other people do. But we've chosen to live out here because it represents freedom for us. Because we can breathe....So could she be! She can"
  • as a result of a further time extension to help Elsa adapt, they took her to an area only 35 miles from where she was born, and slowly, she began to leave the Adamsons for days at a time and eventually made several kills to feed herself
  • during her "most dangerous and final test," Joy had to shoot a warning shot when a competing lioness fought against Elsa, to scare away the other lioness; he assured Joy: ("She's done it. She's crossed the bridge. She's wild now and free. You should be very happy. And proud. We've... you've done something no one else has ever done. And you should be very proud") but Joy was worried: "Suppose we never see her again?"
  • when the Adamsons returned to Africa a year later, they camped in the same spot but feared they would never find Elsa again. At the end of their week's stay, they finally located and saw Elsa who approached their campsite with three cubs of her own: (Joy's voice-over) ("Elsa and her babies stayed with us all the afternoon and she made it quite clear that she was happy to be with us again. I was dying to pick them up and hold them, as I had done with Elsa and her sisters. But I knew that it would be wrong. They were wild and it was better now that they remained wild...We saw her many times again, born free and living free. But to us she was always the same: Our friend, Elsa.").
  • the climactic ending view of Elsa was set to the strains of the Oscar-winning title song and score by John Barry
Reunited with Elsa (and Cubs) A Year Later Returning With Her Cubs

Elsa's Release Into Wild

Joy's Concern About Elsa

Joy: "Suppose we never see her again?"

The Brave Little Toaster (1987)

  • the surprisingly poignant scene in the animated musical-comedy in which nature and technology met: the Toaster (voice of Deanna Oliver), hiding from woodland animals, encountered a yellow flower standing in a single ray of light. The flower saw its own reflection in the Toaster's shiny metal chrome and thought it had found a companion, but the Toaster backed away and dismissively explained: "Oh, no, no. It's just a reflection. It's not real."
  • undeterred, the flower embraced the Toaster anyway. Panicked, the Toaster then hid behind a bush, took a peek through the leaves and saw that the flower, now wilted and dying, was bent over in sorrow, rejection and loneliness - a petal dropped to the ground like a tear
  • the Toaster walked away, looking back in guilt and with some pensiveness, while learning a lesson about cameraderie, as he would be more friendly and supportive of his other appliance friends from now on (an antique radio, a gooseneck lamp, an electric blanket, and a vacuum cleaner)

The Toaster with Yellow Flower

The Dejected Flower - A Lesson Learned

Braveheart (1995)


  • Scottish legendary kilt-clad, war-painted hero William Wallace's (Mel Gibson) rousing, emotional speeches to his loyal followers: ("I AM William Wallace! And I see a whole army of my country men, here, in defiance of tyranny. You've come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you fight?...Aye, fight and you may die. Run, and you'll live - at least awhile. And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willing to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take OUR FREEDOM!")
  • Wallace's heroic death scene as he courageously faced torture: ("I'm not dead yet") and then was brutally beheaded - when he saw the ghost of his dead wife Murron (Catherine McCormack) in the crowd

"They'll Never Take OUR FREEDOM!"

Wallace's Death Scene

Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)


  • in the film's final scene set in a cab during a downpour; NY socialite Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) stubbornly insisted to neighbor writer Paul "Fred" Varjak (George Peppard) that she would still be traveling to NYC's Idylwild Airport and fly to Brazil (even though South American millionaire José da Silva Pereira (Vilallonga) had decided to break up with her through a letter delivered by his cousin, to protect his reputation) - Paul read the letter outloud, with its final line: ("I have my family to protect and my name and I am a coward where these institutions enter. Forget me, beautiful child. And may God be with you. Jose")
  • in a heartbreaking moment, Holly decided to abandon her nameless Cat by letting it out the taxi's back door: "I'm like cat, here. We're a couple of no-name slobs. We belong to nobody. And nobody belongs to us. We don't even belong to each other. Stop the cab. What do you think? This ought to be the right kind of place for a tough guy like you. Garbage cans, rats galore. Scram! I said take off! Beat it! Let's go!"
  • the sequence of Paul's angry lecture at Holly after ordering the cab to pull over and stop: "You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken. You've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, 'Okay, life's a fact.' People do fall in love. People do belong to each other because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness. You call yourself a free spirit, a wild thing. And you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well, baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas or on the east by Somaliland. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself"
  • Paul tossed the engraved Cracker Jack ring at her ("Here. I've been carrying this thing around for months. I don't want it any more"), and left the cab to find Cat
  • in the film's final moments, with a sudden change of heart, Holly put on the ring, exited the cab and ran back down the rain-soaked street, joyously located Cat, and was reunited with both Cat and Paul in an alleyway - she kissed Paul with the Cat squeezed in-between them - her last line: "Cat! Cat! Oh, Cat... ohh..."
Reunited - With Cat and Holly - In the Rain

On the Way to Airport in Taxi

Holly Abandoning Her Cat

Paul's Angry Lecture

Holly Putting On the Cracker Jack Ring

Breaking the Waves (1996, Den./Swed./Neth./Fr./Norway)


  • the melodramatic plotline was set in North Scotland where immobilized and paralyzed Danish oil-rig worker Jan Nyman (Stellan Skarsgaard) (with a broken neck) insisted his new, simple-minded, kind-hearted wife Bess McNeill (Emily Watson) sleep with other men as a way to establish spiritual contact with him: (Bess: "I don't make love with them. I make love with Jan. And I save him from dying"); at the same time, Bess believed that her selfish prayer to God to have Jan return to her resulted in the accident - it was God's punishment
  • Bess began to believe that her husband's demands that she find a lover would actually save and revitalize her husband and heal him
  • the scene of Bess' ultimate sacrifice - resulting in her tragic gang rape/murder in a sacrificial martyr's death aboard a ship where even prostitutes wouldn't go
  • during Bess' burial, the discovery was made that there were only bags of sand in the coffin - Bess had been refused a proper burial as a transgressive cast-out from the community and her church, so a miraculously-healed Jan had stolen her body in order to bury her at sea
  • the on-deck scene just before Bess' burial into the ocean, when Jan kissed her face before she was tossed into the water
  • Jan listened joyfully as two heavenly bells mercifully rang over the oil rig in the film's cosmic ending - a view through the clouds of the tiny oil rig was accompanied by two gigantic, pealing church bells

Bess' Tragic Death After Gang Rape/Murder

Jan's Reaction to Beth's Burial At Sea

Brian's Song (1971) (TV)


  • running tailback Gale Sayers' (Billy Dee Williams) haltingly-spoken locker room address to his fellow Chicago Bears players on Brian Piccolo's (James Caan) terminal testicular cancer, and his break down into uncontrollable sobs to prematurely end his speech: ("Uh, you uh, all know that we hand out a game ball to the outstanding player...Well, I'd like to change that. We just got word that Brian Piccolo is...that's he's sick, very sick...And, uh, it looks, he might never play football...again, or, uh, a long time...And, I think we should dedicate ourselves to give our maximum effort to win this game and give the game 'Pic'. We can all sign it. And take it up...Aw, sh....Oh, my God...")
  • and later, Sayers' tear-jerking acceptance of the George S. Halas Award for Courage that he dedicated to Brian, who died at age 26: ("I love Brian Piccolo. And I'd like all of you to love him too. And tonight, (when) you hit your knees - please ask God to love him.")

Gale Sayers at Bedside of Cancer-Dying Brian Piccolo

Sayers' Locker-Room Address

Sayers' Acceptance Speech at Award Ceremony

The Bridges of Madison County (1995)

  • the lingering glance between married Iowa farmwife Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep), seated in her husband's truck, and National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) following their four-day love affair, as he stood in the street a short distance away on a rainy afternoon (Francesca in voice-over: "For a moment, I didn't know where I was. And for a split second, the thought crossed my mind that he really didn't want me. That it was easy to walk away")
  • at a red stoplight behind Robert's truck (from Washington State), she noticed that Robert leaned over in his truck's cab and retrieved something from his glove-box (she remembered, in voice-over: "8 days ago, he'd done that, and his arm had brushed across my leg. A week ago I'd been in Des Moines, buying a new dress")
  • Francesca's heartbreaking, pivotal, and fateful, cross-roads decision to remain with her husband in their truck instead of jumping out (although she partially turned the truck's doorknob), and her thoughts after watching Robert's truck turn left and drive away forever: ("Oh, no. The words were inside of me. I was wrong, Robert, I was wrong to stay, but I can't go. Let me tell you again why I can't go. Tell me again why I should go. I heard his voice coming back to me: 'This kind of certainty comes but once in a lifetime.'")
Francesca's Agonizing Decision About Whether to Jump Out of Her Truck of Not
  • the scene of Francesca's later receipt of a package from Robert's lawyer on his death featuring mementos of their affair

Glance Between Francesca and Robert

Brief Encounter (1945/1946, UK)


  • the many emotionally potent scenes between middle-class housewife Laura (Celia Johnson) and doctor Alec (Trevor Howard) in their weekly clandestine meetings, including the famous scene of their final day together when they were interrupted by a friend during their last, painful, repressed goodbye (both at the start and end of the film) as Alec gently placed his hand on her shoulder and then disappeared forever (on a medical journey to Africa)

Repressed Goodbye - Light Touch on Shoulder

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

  • the scene in which bisexual cowboy Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and lover Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) painfully tried to deal with their mutual sexual and romantic attraction and Jack's painful admission: ("The truth is... sometimes I miss you so much I can hardly stand it...") as they dealt with the secretiveness of their affair, and the pained partings after each tryst
  • the two infrequently met for 'fishing' trips - but suspiciously never brought home any of their catch; there were tearful scenes in which their wives learned of their affair: ("You don't go up there to fish")
  • at the end of one fishing trip, Ennis taunted Jack: "I'm goin' a tell you this one time, Jack f--kin' Twist, and I ain't foolin'. What I don't know - all them THINGS that I don't know, I'd get you KILLED if I come to know them! I ain't jokin'!"
  • the sexually-frustrated Jack responded back with an ultimatum speech to Ennis, expressing his pain when they were apart: ("Tell ya what. We coulda had a good life together! F--kin' real good life! Had us a place of our own. But you didn't want it, Ennis! So what we got now is Brokeback Mountain! Everything's built on that! That's ALL we got, boy! F--kin' ALL! So, I hope you know that. If you don't never know the rest! You count the damn few times that we have been together in nearly 20 years, and you measure the short f--kin' leash you keep me on, then, you ask me 'bout Mexico! And you tell me you'll KILL me for needin' somethin' that I don't hardly NEVER get! YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW BAD IT GETS! And I'm not you, I can't make it on a couple of high-altitude f--ks once or twice a year! YOU ARE TOO MUCH FOR ME, ENNIS! You son of a whoreson bitch! I wish I knew how to quit you!") and Ennis' sobbed response: ("Well, why don't you? Why don't you just let me be, huh? It's because of you, Jack, that I'm like this! I ain't got nothing, and I'm, I'm nowhere... Get the f--k off me!...Sorry I can't stand much anymore, Jack")
  • the scene of Ennis visiting Jack's parents some time after Jack's death in 1980; Jack's tomboyish rodeo queen wife Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway) told him that Jack had died while changing a tire that exploded, although Ennis imagined it as a gay-bashing homophobic incident in a field
  • during Ennis' visit to Jack's parents in their home, he discovered blood-stained shirts in Jack's childhood bedroom closet. The shirts belonged to himself and ex-lover Jack from when they fought together years earlier on Brokeback Mountain in 1963. Ennis held the intertwined shirts (Jack's denim shirt was on the outside) to his face and breathed in their scent. When he left, he took the shirts with him
  • broke and lonely, Ennis lived in a trailer, where in 1983 in the melodramatic ending, Ennis went to his trailer closet where he again saw their two old shirts (hanging in the back of his closet). The two shirts were both together on one hanger, intertwined but reversed - Jack's blood-stained denim shirt was now covered by Ennis's. He also saw a postcard of Brokeback Mountain tacked next to the shirts and straightened it - he tearfully and regretfully cried about their forbidden homosexual love affair: ("Jack, I swear...").
The Melodramatic Conclusion

Ennis: "I ain't jokin'!"

Jack: "We coulda had a good life together!...I wish I knew how to quit you!"

Ennis' First Discovery of Shirts in Jack's Bedroom Closet

Broken Blossoms (1919)

  • the tragic life of the sensitive and frail teenage Cockney waif Lucy Burrows (Lillian Gish), and the scenes of her forced smile by pushing up the ends of her mouth with her fingers
  • the unforgettable death scene as her brutal and bigoted father Battling Burrows (Donald Crisp) savagely broke down a closet door as she cowered there and twisted to avoid him, but later received the fatal blows in the bedroom
  • Lucy succumbed on her pillow while clutching her doll (her link to the Yellow Man) and gave a final finger-smile (her link to her father): (title-card) "Dying, she gives her last little smile to the world that has been so unkind"
Lucy's Death After Brutal Beating From Her Father

Lucy's Fearful Forced Smile

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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