23 Tear-Jerking Films That Have Us Bawling Each Time

There’s something deeply cathartic about hunkering down to watch a film and having a good cry. Some of our favorite movies touch our hearts so deeply that they bring us to tears time and time again. Whether you need an emotional release or want to avoid anything that gets the waterworks flowing, here are 23 films that will make you reach for the tissues.

The Fault in Our Stars

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Present anyone with the story of two teenagers who fall in love while battling a terminal illness, and you’ll have even the hardiest individual holding back tears. In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters’ journey through love and loss is portrayed with such raw emotion that it’s impossible not to be moved.

Marley & Me

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Dogs and pets are a guaranteed way into our hearts; the movie industry knows this well. Following the life of a lovable but mischievous dog and his owners, Marley & Me explores the joys and heartbreaks of dog ownership, from the soaring highs to the devastating lows. The ending is particularly heart-wrenching, resonating with anyone who has ever loved a pet.

A Walk to Remember

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

A Walk to Remember presents a moving tale of unexpected romance between two high school students from different worlds. With its intense themes of love, faith, and loss, this movie isn’t for the fainthearted.

Schindler’s List

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

This powerful historical drama depicts the Holocaust through the eyes of a businessman who saves his Jewish workers from extermination. Its stark and unflinching portrayal of human suffering is deeply affecting, earning it multiple awards over the years. 

Toy Story 3

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios.

As Woody and the gang face their greatest adventure yet, themes of friendship, loyalty, and growing up come to the forefront. With its poignant farewell and surprisingly emotional dialogue, the film’s climax often leaves audiences in tears.

The Green Mile

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Despite its death-row setting, The Green Mile presents us with an unlikely set of characters, focusing on a gentle giant with a mysterious gift. Nothing is more thought-provoking or deeply moving than the on-screen exploration of justice, mercy, and humanity.

Titanic

Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox.

If there’s one film infamous for making us weep, it’s James Cameron’s Titanic, a sweeping romantic epic set against the backdrop of the infamous shipwreck. Its central love story combines with tragic real-life events to create an emotional rollercoaster that lingers long after the credits roll.

Bridge to Terabithia

Photo Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Another example of a kid’s film that packs an emotional punch is Bridge to Terabithia. This adaptation of a beloved children’s book explores the power of imagination and the pain of unexpected loss. Boasting emotional depth and a heart-wrenching twist, this film is unforgettable, especially for anyone who grew up in the noughties.

My Girl

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Critics state that the beauty of this film lies in its directness, and we’re inclined to agree. My Girl is a poignant coming-of-age story about a young girl dealing with the complexities of life and death. The film’s emotional core, particularly its handling of loss, resonates with people from all walks of life and connects us in shared grief. 

The Pursuit of Happyness

Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

When Will Smith isn’t basking in his comic roles, he’s depicting emotional struggle and resilience. Based on a true story, this follows a single father and his young son as they struggle through homelessness. The depiction of their unwavering bond and relentless pursuit of a better life is inspiring and deeply moving.

Hachi: A Dog’s Tale

Photo Credit: Stage 6 Films.

Tear-jerking films share several themes, one of which is the “Base don a true story” tagline. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale is similarly inspired by a true story. The portrayal of a loyal dog waiting for his deceased owner is incredibly touching. The portrayal of unwavering loyalty and love ensures a tearful viewing experience.

The Notebook

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema.

Few romantic dramas can chronicle a lifelong love story with grace and emotional weight like The Notebook. Especially visceral in its emotional final scenes, the film’s exploration of enduring love leaves a lasting impact.

Life Is Beautiful

Photo Credit: Miramax Films .

A blend of humor and tragedy set during World War II, Life is Beautiful focuses on a father who uses his imagination to protect his son from the horrors around them. Both beautiful and heartbreaking, this iconic film’s narrative is deeply moving.

Up

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios.

Known for being among the most tear-inducing scenes in cinema, the opening sequence of this animated film depicts a lifelong love story with devastating features. The rest of the film explores themes of adventure, love, and loss with poignant depth.

Grave of the Fireflies

Photo Credit: Toho Company.

Grave of the Fireflies is an animated film about two siblings struggling to survive during wartime. Its raw and powerful depiction of loss and resilience is profoundly moving.

Les Misérables

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Since its release in 1862, Les Misérables has been praised as an epic tale of love, redemption, and revolution. Though it has had many adaptations over the centuries, the most recent film’s powerful performances and tragic narrative elements create an emotional experience that is hard to forget.

Coco

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

This vibrant animated film explores themes of family, memory, and the afterlife in Mexican culture. Its climax is especially touching, and the story’s resolution often leaves viewers in tears.

Brokeback Mountain

Photo Credit: Focus Features.

With Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal at the fore, Brokeback Mountain is a poignant love story that explores the complexities of forbidden love and societal pressures. The heartbreaking narrative and powerful performances are deeply moving and will stay with you long after the credits roll.

A Star is Born

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

This film follows the tumultuous relationship between a rising star and a declining musician. Its raw portrayal of love and loss is heart-wrenching. With iconic performances from both romantic leads, the emotional depth and musical performances leave a lasting impact.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Photo Credit: Miramax Films.

It’s rare for a film to tackle such a dark historical period with grace and respect, but The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a masterful adaptation. Unlike other pieces exploring the Holocaust, this film is told through the innocent perspective of a child, and the tragic conclusion is profoundly affecting.

Terms of Endearment

Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures.

This multi-generational love, family, and illness story has emotional moments, heartbreaking scenes, and bittersweet interactions. The characters’ journeys and poignant resolution ensure tears.

Saving Private Ryan

Photo Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

Depicting the horrors of war and bonds of brotherhood with harrowing accuracy, it’s rare that someone emerges dry-eyed from watching Saving Private Ryan. More than just a war epic, there are enough tear-jerking moments to keep you reeling for days, from the opening battle scene to the final moments of contemplation and all the moments in between.

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Mandy Smith

Writer & Blogger

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