Movie Moments Where We All Secretly Cried

Seeing just how many film genres there are out there, if you'd rather avoid really sad movies, you should be able to. But moviemakers wouldn't be the creative types they are if they didn't slip a little sadness into every one of our popcorn-and-soda outings. When it comes to the films on this list, nobody but a true sociopath could exit the theater without at least dabbing a single tear from their eyes.

The Neverending Story (1984)

Here, we have a wonderful tale about a child who may be a bit weird and picked-on by his peers, but darn it if he doesn't love to read. Reading is such a huge aspect of his life, he ditches school to hide in what has to be the scariest attic/storage room in all the world so he can leaf through his recently stolen copy of The Neverending Story. As Bastian reads the book, the story unfolds to tell the tale of Atreyu, a young warrior from the Grassy Plains. Atreyu must travel with his trusty horse, Artax, across the realm to stop The Nothing from destroying all of Fantasia.

While traveling through the Swamps of Sadness, Atreyu is pulling Artax by a lead while he trudges through the waist-deep mud, muck, and mire. Just when it seems like things will start to look up, Artax stops. The horse succumbs to the sadness and refuses to go any further. Atreyu begs the horse to just please, please take another step, but he cannot. The Swamps of Sadness have taken their toll, and Artax sinks further into the swamp until, finally, the horse is no more.

If you watched this film and the scene didn't make you at least a little sad, you either hate horses or took that exact moment to run out of the theater to take a leak.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Even without watching this film, most people know of World War II's Battle of Normandy from the famous images of Allied ships hitting Omaha Beach. Saving Private Ryan moves from a strikingly realistic portrayal of this invasion to the more personal, fictional story of the titular Private Ryan. He is the last survivor of four brothers and is selected for return to the States because his mother has already lost so much. Most viewers can hold it together until the final scene, when the emotion that has built up throughout the conflict finally comes to a head in a veterans' cemetery.

Ryan's face morphs from a young man into the elderly gentleman standing at the foot of a grave. In that grave is the man who saved his life and died in the process. The last thing he said to Ryan before he died was, "Earn this." Remembering this and speaking to the marble cross, the old veteran asks his wife if he is a good man. Had he lived a good life? She reassures him that he is and he has.

The movie started out in the same sunny spot and circles back around in the end, and yet the scene still hits the viewer as though from out of nowhere. We knew this was sad going in, but pulling this last bit on us just wasn't cool, Spielberg.

I Am Legend (2007)

Not too many zombie movies are tearjerkers, but Will Smith's 2007 solo romp through New York City managed to be. The film's ending wasn't great, and the zombie/monsters/people weren't animated too well, but one thing that did stand out was the beloved dog, Sam, who accompanies Smith everywhere he goes. As the story progresses and flashbacks show how he got the dog, we learn his daughter gave him the puppy seconds before she died. The dog represents the family he lost, besides just being a loving and loyal companion.

Movies being what they are, you know the dog has to die, right? Well, they don't waste much time in forcing that. Sam gets bitten by an infected hound from hell, and Smith has no choice but to put her down.

It would be one thing if he gives her an injection and puts her to sleep or even shoots the dog in the head. We would probably be okay with that. But no: he has to hold the dog in his arms as she begins to change and then literally chokes the life out of her. Never mind whether you're invested in the story or characters. This scene is impossible to get through simply because you like dogs!

Smith, being the talented actor he is, shows every emotion his character goes through as he's forced to kill the only link he has to his family — and to humanity itself. This was the transition point for Smith's character, who then decides the best way to deal with his pain is to violently commit suicide. His attempt is thwarted when a deus ex machina swoops in and saves him, but by this point, we hardly care about him. Who cares whether some human lives or dies when the real heart of the film has already been killed?

The Dirty Dozen (1967)

Do you remember the scene in Sleepless in Seattle when Tom Hanks and Victor Garber are talking at the table with Rita Wilson about a sad scene in a movie? They compare An Affair to Remember to The Dirty Dozen and end up in tears remembering the  scene we're about to remind you of.

The Dirty Dozen is a classic film about convicts who are recruited into a ragtag group of paramilitary troops intent on going deep into Nazi-occupied France. Their task: to kill the German elite within a chateau in what can only be described as a suicide mission. That itself isn't sad. It's a pretty awesome plot, and with the ensemble cast, it's a great movie. But then, there's that one scene ...

Toward the end of the action, after the DD successfully get all of the Germans into a bunker with conveniently exposed air vents, Jim Brown's character, Jefferson, has to run across an open square and drop live grenades into air shafts. This, along with the gasoline they already poured on top of the screaming and trapped Germans, means that things are about to go boom. Brown drops a grenade, runs to the next shaft, and repeats, successfully getting them all in. Then right before they explode, when he is just feet from the awaiting arms of his comrades and their getaway truck, a Nazi scumbag comes from out of nowhere and takes him out.

Any theater screening The Dirty Dozen will be filled with hitherto macho men tearfully embracing, as they shout, "He almost made it! He was that close! Why did they have to kill him?"

Up (2009)

When parents took their little ones to see the latest and greatest Disney/Pixar film in 2009, they didn't expect to find themselves crying their eyes out right at the start. We watch a couple fall in love and spend their life together, and then their hopes for children are dashed by infertility, their hopes of adventure travel are dashed by mundane misfortunes, and just as the husband plans to surprise his wife with the trip of a lifetime, she tragically dies, leaving the old man all alone. We suppose they could have thrown a dead puppy into the mix, but that might have had folks demanding their money back.

Watching this flick in the theater left pretty much everyone feeling sad and even lonely, hit with an entirely unwelcome blast of realism. It's easy to imagine growing old all by yourself, especially when it's depicted for you so brilliantly and without a single spoken word in the first five minutes of a kids' movie. Thanks for the sad and lonely thoughts, Pixar! We thought we were seeing a wacky story about an old man and his floating house, but you had to offer up a treatise on futility and death.

The Green Mile (1999)

Death row may not seem an expected setting for a heartwarming film, but The Green Mile manages it for much of its runtime. John Coffey is accused of murdering twin sisters and is sentenced to death. Through the course of his confinement, we learn that he has a magical and possibly divine ability to heal the sick. As the story progresses, it becomes time to kill the gentle giant — did we mention that he is innocent and also a bit slow?

The normal procedure for killing an inmate in the electric chair requires that the guards place a black hood over the person's head. Coffey is afraid of the dark, so he pleads with the guards, "Please boss, don't put that thing over my face, don't put me in the dark. I's afraid of the dark." Sure, nobody likes being in the dark, but Coffey's pleas make us all feel just like we did when we were kids who demanded their parents close their bedroom doors, but for God's sake, "Not all the way!"

Inside Out (2015)

Take a look into the minds of everyday people, says Pixar, and you'll see their strongest emotions as sentient actors controlling their actions. This interesting concept allowed the filmmakers to explore how we all handle such grand problems as growing up or ignoring your nagging wife when the game is on. The film follows the emotion/character Joy as she and Sadness journey through the mind. Along the way, they meet an old imaginary friend named Bing Bong whom we all come to just adore and love because he is so cheerful and sweet and ... oh, crap. They're going to kill him, aren't they?

But they don't merely kill this character, who becomes so endearing that everyone wishes they had one of their own. They erase him from existence.

Bing Bong falls into a memory dump where ideas, thoughts, and even imaginary friends go to be forgotten. Watching that sweet elephant-thing disappear to save Joy — and in the process save Riley, the girl whose mind they're in — beats the emotional crap out of the audience with the realization that we lose the greatest aspects of our imagination as we grow up. We get it, Disney — you like to kill off characters everyone loves, but maybe, every once in a while, knock out just one flick where that doesn't happen.

Forrest Gump (1994)

This film had some heartwarming moments and certainly offered nostalgia for the latter part of the 20th century, but it also contained a lot of sadness. And we mean a lot of sadness. Seriously.

We watch Forrest grow up and fall in love, and then he ends up shipping off to Vietnam, where his good friend Bubba dies in his arms on a beach. When the viewer recovers, his mother up and dies on him. And if you thought that would be it, you are in for a world of hurt because the love of his life, Jenny, succumbs to AIDS and dies, leaving behind her and Forrest's son.

If you don't choke up when his mother, best friend, and even Jenny dies, the scene where he finds out he is a father and asks Jenny if his son is smart or like him will get you every time. Hanks was pretty good at pulling tears all through the '90s with this performance as well as another film he did, Philadelphia. Fortunately, he seems to have moved on to less sad films, but you never know when he'll flip around again and make us all bawl our eyes out.

Dumbo (1941)

When you watch the scene above of Dumbo finding his mother's cage and touching trunks with her, you better be in the process of chopping an onion, or people will think you have real feelings and aren't as mighty as you pretend to be. The song that plays as she rocks her son in her trunk is one of those memorable Disney tunes that sticks with you forever. Every time you hear "Baby You're Mine" after watching Dumbo, it takes you right back to Dumbo and his momma.

Throughout the song, the viewer is subjected to seeing all manner of animals sharing their beds with their children — all except for the elephants of course. It's such an emotional scene, you almost forget about the horribly racist black crows/African-American stereotypes from the film ... until we just reminded you, that is.

The Lion King (1994)

It isn't so much that Simba's father is killed by a rampaging stampede of wildebeests in this scene. It's that Simba believes it's his fault.

Why, Disney? Why did Mufasa have to die? We get that The Lion King is Hamlet animated with a bunch of animals, but that little lion loved his papa.

And then along comes his loving Uncle Scar, whom we know to be the true villain of the tale. Scar convinces Simba that he really is at fault for Mufasa's death, so the little guy takes off running to the jungle. You'd think Simba might have figured out his uncle wasn't the spectacular role model he made himself out to be. The guy's name was Scar ... why didn't everyone know he was evil to begin with? And who the hell names their cub Scar anyways? We're going to sit and ponder those questions because that's more fun than contemplating death, loss, and guilt.

The Iron Giant (1999)

The Iron Giant made us all feel sadness for a huge killer robot from outer space, and that's exactly why it was such a great film. It follows the standard tale of a boy finding an alien everyone thinks is dangerous only to find that it's really a loving, caring being. Sure, he looks like a bipedal tank with an alien death ray, but maybe don't judge a giant, killer robot by its cover, okay?

The movie climaxes with the Army engaging the Iron Giant, who has to defend himself while simultaneously protecting his newfound friends and family. When the idiot in charge decides to nuke the giant, who everyone else has finally realized isn't the bad guy, it becomes an immediate threat to the people and the town. So the robot says his goodbyes and flies toward the nuke to intercept it. Just before he does, he remembers the words "you are who you choose to be" and says the word "Superman." This hearkens back to an earlier scene where he imagined himself as a superhero, which is exactly what he becomes with his sacrifice.