Top 5 Tear Jerker Movies

Photo Source: IMDb

Mirabel Elias-Upham, Copy Editor

Sometimes the best thing you can do when you’re having a bad day, when nothing seems to be going right, and you just need a good cry is to watch a sad movie. Having a few different ones on retainer to cycle through is important, and so is determining the saddest one. After considering personal experience and inputs from others, I have compiled a list of the saddest movies that are guaranteed to keep your sad day going.

Disclaimer: Although it is avoided, this article may contain spoilers for the movies listed. 


  1. The Pursuit of Happyness 
Photo Source: IMDb

This movie conveys the difficulty of raising a child as a single parent and the struggle to succeed when one has little resources and advantages through the depiction of the true story of Christopher Gardner. The story begins with Chris’ struggling with his wife to provide for their son and make a life for themselves, as he is dead set on selling a medical device that has had very little success. When his wife, fed up with the constant struggle, leaves the family, Chris is forced to provide solely for his son with an increasingly limited income. 

He decides to start a new career, and their situation worsens significantly as Chris takes a six-month unpaid internship to become a stockbroker. He pushes through, knowing that if he can get a job in that industry, they will be comfortable forever from that point on. This bodes difficult, though, as he attempts to keep his son healthy and happy and out of a homeless shelter while maintaining his childhood innocence. Although his son ultimately has to grow up slightly faster than the rest of the children his age, he learns how to persevere through difficult times and succeed despite endless setbacks. 

The saddest part: 

Towards the end of the movie, Chris is told that he has beaten out nineteen candidates for the position of stockbroker at a large company, and he is guaranteed a job. After dressing his best despite having only the clothes on his back, Chris beats the odds and finds success through only his own character. This is an incredibly meaningful moment for Chris, and as soon as he is told the news, he rushes to his son’s daycare, and they realize that after everything they have been through, they are going to be okay. 


  1. The Notebook
Photo Source: IMDb

Although this movie is not as devastating as the rest, the bittersweet ending and romantic moments will make you believe in love. Told from the perspectives of the main characters, Noah and Allie, the story is revealed at the end to be written by Allie and read to her by her now husband, Noah. This is especially touching, as the movie depicts Noah attempting to jog Allie’s memory and remind her of their past. The movie switches between the current day and flashbacks and tells the story of a wealthy girl with the world ahead of her, and a boy with little money whose opportunities are limited and is incredibly disconnected from her world. Despite their unlikely pairing, they find love and spend a summer together. 

Met with the pressure of distance, both physically and socially, they end their relationship once Allie moves away for college. As they live their separate lives, they both find new love but ultimately reconnect. They quickly realize that any distance apart is a mistake and make the necessary but difficult adjustments to their current life to make their love possible. 

The saddest part:

While most of the tears shed in the movie are happy ones, the most bittersweet moment is the end. Once Noah and Allie decide to spend their lives together in the flashbacks, the movie stays in the current day. Allie temporarily remembers her past with Noah, and a heartbreaking moment shows them dying together. 


  1. Dog’s Purpose
Photo Source: IMDb

Reincarnated through many different lives, a lovable dog makes his way through different owners, changing their lives as he learns the purpose of his own. Beginning as Bailey, the dog begins by helping a young boy, Ethan, through his childhood and difficult home situation. After he passes away, he lives through more difficult lives and often gives up his own to help others. He constantly looks for Ethan in all of his lives and the reunion they share at the end of the movie is a satisfying end to the dog’s journey. 

The humility of the film is touching, as Buddy, the dog’s current name at this point in the film, helps Ethan reunite with a past love and changes his life. After helping five different owners, the dog realizes its purpose is to have fun and aid others in having fun. 

The saddest part: 

During one of his live’s apart from Ethan, the dog is living with a homeless man when he takes him to the woods. Trapped and unable to get away, the dog passes away with his owner. Because this moment so perfectly juxtaposes the dog’s innocence with his terrible death, this is a devastating moment that will leave you reaching for tissues. 


  1. Beautiful Boy
Photo Source: Amazon Studios

Starring talented actors, Timothee Chalamet and Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy tells the story of a teenager addicted to drugs, and his father’s struggle to help him in any way he can. Steve Carell portrays his father, caught between the desire to protect his son and the responsibility he has on behalf of the rest of his family. 

He conveys the experience people often go through when someone close to them is addicted to drugs. Eventually, he has to learn the hardest lesson he will ever learn- to let his son heal and break from his addiction on his own. Chalamet’s performance is unexpectedly breathtaking and convincing, and Carell’s break from comedy in this movie showcases his surprisingly wide range. 

The saddest part: 

One of the most heartbreaking moments in this film is a time when Nick’s addiction becomes severe, and it is shown just how bad it has gotten. In a quick visit to his childhood home, Nick steals money from his much younger brother to buy drugs. It serves as a turning point for Nick’s character, as getting his younger, innocent siblings involved in his addiction shows how terrible and uncontrollable it has gotten for him. 


  1. Titanic 
Photo Source: Paramount Pictures

Oscar winning director James Cameron creates a heartbreaking story, making the audience fall in love with the characters and become invested in their love story in the backdrop of one of the saddest events in history. Although the audience is most likely aware of the characters’ eventual fate, Cameron draws them in and, for at least an hour, makes them forget about what is to come. Coming from two very different backgrounds, the two main characters, Jack and Rose, overcome the odds and find life changing love and comfort with one another. They are both exactly what each other needs, which makes the first half of the movie so enjoyable, and the last half an emotional roller coaster that ultimately ends in tragedy. 

Saddest part: 

This movie is riddled with devastating moments, and they get sadder as it gets closer to the end, but the saddest part has to be the end. Having been stranded outside in the water for hours, Rose has to let Jack go, as he has passed away in the water while waiting for a rescue boat. After everything they had been through to get to that point, Rose has to learn to let go and fight to survive for herself. This is incredibly empowering for Rose, as she learns through Jack throughout their story that her life has meaning, and in this moment, she begins to implement him into her own life, even if he can’t be there for her physically.