Top 22 Saddest Movie Scenes of Each Year (2000-2021)



Top 22 Saddest Movie Scenes of Each Year (2000-2021)

VOICE OVER: Samantha Clinch WRITTEN BY: Sammie Purcell
From 2000 to 2021, these sad movie scenes wrecked us. For this list, we'll name all those scenes that made us well up with tears for each year of the past couple decades. Our countdown includes "Cast Away," "Juno," "Furious 7," and more!

Top 22 Saddest Movie Scenes of Each Year 2000-2021

Welcome to MsMojo, where today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 22 Saddest Movie Scenes of Each Year 2000-2021.

For this list, we’ll name all those scenes that made us well up with tears for each year of the past couple decades.

Be wary of tear jerking spoilers, and if we missed any of your favorites, let us know in the comments below.

2000: Chuck Loses Wilson
“Cast Away” (2000)

It might seem strange to cry over the relationship of a man and his volleyball best friend, but when it comes to Tom Hanks, anything is possible. “Cast Away” centers around Chuck, the lone survivor of a plane crash who finds himself marooned, alone on an island. He has but one friend for company – a volleyball that he’s drawn a face on and named “Wilson.” After years together, Chuck and Wilson sail off the island, and Wilson is lost following a storm. Chuck attempts to reach him, but ultimately has to stay close to his raft. Wilson may be a volleyball, but he’s also the only comfort Chuck has had during this whole ordeal, and it’s devastating to watch him lose that.

2001: Haku Remembers
“Spirited Away” (2001)

“Spirited Away” is a film that washes over you, and can make you cry for its entirety if you let it. While the moment we chose might not be sad in a traditional sense, it still makes us well up and feels deeply, deeply melancholy. A young girl named Chihiro becomes trapped in the spirit world, meeting a boy named Haku who takes her on an adventure to try and get back. There’s a moment where Chihiro has to break a curse put on Haku, and remembers an event from her past, where she almost drowned, but was safely washed ashore. Her realization finally frees Haku from the spell. Later when the two part, the moment is deeply bittersweet.

2002: Penpals
“About Schmidt” (2002)

“About Schmidt” follows a newly retired man – Schmidt – who has trouble adjusting to his new life. Out of boredom, he decides to sponsor a child in Tanzania, and begins writing long, meandering letters about his life to a boy named Ndugu Umbo. He tells Ndugu all about his troubles with his family, his work, and everything in between. At the end of the film, he receives an answer back from a nun telling him that being six years old, Ndugu is unable to read or respond to Schmidt’s letters. This sweet, simple gesture overwhelms Schmidt completely. He is moved to tears, and so are we.

2003: Cheating
“Love Actually” (2003)

For a holiday favorite, “Love Actually” has quite a few moments that make us sadder than any Christmas movie should. But the moment that gets us the most is the moment that Karen, Emma Thompson’s character, learns that her husband Harry has been cheating on her. Earlier in the film, she found a necklace, and believed that it was a Christmas present for her. But, when she opens up her gift from Harry and finds something quite different. Karen realizes that the necklace must have been for someone else, and retreats to her bedroom to briefly fall apart. As we listen to Joni Mitchell along with her it’s impossible not to feel our hearts breaking too.

2004: Allie Forgets
“The Notebook” (2004)

If you can get through “The Notebook '' without crying, we really commend you. The 2004 romance is filled with moments that stir the heart, but none other than this moment at the end of the film. We learn that the elderly couple are the young protagonists, Noah and Allie after many years together. In the present, Noah reads Allie’s diary to her, as she suffers from Alzheimers and hearing their story helps her remember. But the effects are, sadly, only temporary. After a few minutes of love and dancing, the dementia takes hold again, leaving Allie confused and frightened. It’s devastating to see, but for these two, a few moments of happiness makes it worth it.

2005: The Final Scene
“Brokeback Mountain” (2005)

2005’s “Brokeback Mountain” might be the tear jerker to end all tear jerkers. There are plenty of scenes we could have chosen from this movie, but we had to go with the film’s final moments. After his lover, Jack, has died, cowboy Ennis has lived a life of relative solitude. The film ends on a conversation between Ennis and his daughter, but lingers a bit after she leaves. It’s revealed that Ennis has kept one of Jack’s shirts, and keeps it hung together with one of his next to a photo of Brokeback Mountain, where the two first fell in love. Ennis’s eyes well up as he stares at the shirts and the picture, making for a beautifully sad ending.

2006: Sleeping in the Subway
“The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006)

While this movie ends up in a happy place, it takes a lot of hardship to get there. “The Pursuit of Happyness” is based on the memoir of Chris Gardner, and chronicles a year in Gardner’s life where he was homeless. Will Smith plays Gardner in the film, and Will’s own son Jaden plays Gardner’s son Christopher Jr. There are many moments that are tough to watch, but one of the worst has to be when Chris and his son are forced to sleep in the restroom of a BART station for the night. It’s a really vulnerable and upsetting moment, and definitely one of the most tragic of the film.

2007: Juno Gives Birth
“Juno” (2007)

Just because a movie is a comedy doesn’t mean it can’t have poignant moments of sadness. So is the case with 2007’s “Juno,” which follows the titular character through the trials and tribulations of a teenage pregnancy. When Juno finally gives birth, the irreverent tone gives way to deeply emotional scenes. First, Juno, knowing she’s going to be giving the child up for adoption, closes her eyes so she won’t see the baby and fall in love with him. She shares a tender moment with her father, who offers words of support and comfort. When her boyfriend Paulie comes in he’s there to hold her as she cries. It’s a really honest moment, and the movie is all the better for it.

2008: Wendy Finds Lucy
“Wendy and Lucy” (2008)

When it comes to dogs, you can bet there will be tears. “Wendy and Lucy” follows a young woman named Wendy who is traveling to Alaska with her dog Lucy, hoping to find work. At one point in a desperate attempt to get food for Lucy, Wendy is caught shoplifting from a store. She’s taken to the station and separated from Lucy, and can’t find her when she’s set free. She quickly learns that her dog has been taken to the pound and given up for adoption. The last scene shows Wendy going to the house where Lucy is and realizing that she’s found a good home. Though there’s no doubt she loves her dog, it’s unclear if Wendy will be able to keep that promise.

2009: You Can’t Go Back
“The Lovely Bones” (2009)

Sometimes healing means moving on. In 2009’s “The Lovely Bones,” Susie is a young girl who is stuck between the land of the living and the dead. Given the violent circumstances of her death, she is torn between letting go and seeking vengeance on her killer. In a bittersweet, heartbreaking moment, one of the man’s other victims – a young girl named Holly – urges Susie to leave the world behind and move onto Heaven. Susie can’t give up her life just yet, though. While she eventually decides to move on, watching Susie struggle in that moment is one of the saddest scenes in the movie.

2010: Andy Gives Away His Toys
“Toy Story 3” (2010)

Pixar has always been adept at making kids happy while making adults sob into their popcorn. When it came time to round off Andy’s role in the Toy Story franchise, they pulled out all the stops. We could have gone with the perilous moment where the toys all bravely hold hands as they move towards the furnace. But the film’s final moments are just too good to pass up. Before Andy goes to college, he gives his toys away to a little girl named Bonnie. As she goes to take Woody from him, Andy hesitates – giving up Woody means leaving childhood behind. After one last play time, he finally leaves them with Bonnie, and we felt like our own childhoods were ending too.

2011: Fight Scene
“Like Crazy” (2011)

“Like Crazy” is a lovely indie romance, following a couple who is torn apart after Anna, a foreign exchange student, stays longer in the United States than her student visa allows. Anna and her boyfriend Jacob try to make things work anyway, but long distance makes things harder. Their relationship grows more strained until eventually – inevitably – an argument breaks out. Tension was already simmering under the surface, but the subject of Jacob’s texts sends them erupting into a fight. It is visceral and raw, with both saying things they can’t take back. The moment perfectly captures the paranoia and hardship of long-distance relationships, and is beautifully acted.

2012: Charlie Remembers
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012)

One of the greatest coming of age stories in recent memory, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” follows shy, awkward Charlie as he navigates his way through high school, friendship, and first love. As the movie goes on, it becomes clear that something deeper is affecting Charlie, and there’s been some great trauma in life that he’s pushed from his mind. It’s finally revealed, in a deftly done, incredibly tragic scene, that Charlie’s aunt abused him when he was a little boy. The movie handles a really sensitive subject with tact, highlighting the fact that there’s no shame in addressing one’s mental health. Logan Lerman’s wonderfully nuanced and sad performance makes this movie one to remember.

2013: Scene With Dad
“The Spectacular Now” (2013)

While this is largely a movie about first love, this emotional indie film also has a lot to say about parenthood. Sutter has spent his whole life resenting his mother, who he believes kicked his father out of the house when he was young. But when he takes his new girlfriend Amy to meet his father, the truth quickly becomes clear. Over a round of beers – of which his father clearly drinks too much of – Sutter learns that his father actually left of his own accord. The dynamic grows colder and more awkward as the scene goes on, and the pain on Sutter’s face is almost too much to handle. His father even manages to pour salt on the wound by abandoning him again.

2014: Gus’s Letter
“The Fault in Our Stars” (2014)

You could pretty much pick any moment from “The Fault in Our Stars,” and it would probably have a place somewhere on this list. The story follows Gus and Hazel, two teenagers who fall in love while both dealing with terminal cancer – that’s a recipe for tears, if you ask us. But one moment gets us more than all the others. After Gus’s death, Hazel finds out that he’s written a pre-emptive eulogy for her. In the letter, Gus makes a lasting, and memorable declaration of his feelings. In these emotional words there is also a sense of peace for Gus as well as Hazel. It’s exactly what she needs to heal, and one of the most bittersweet parts of the film.

2015: Paul Walker’s Last Ride
“Furious 7” (2015)

When Paul Walker died in 2013, it seemed like the whole world was in mourning. Walker passed away before finishing filming on “Furious 7,” causing the filmmakers to decide to do a lovely tribute to Walker’s character Brian at the end of the film. After Brian decides to retire, the friends gather once more on the beach. As they watch Brian and his family playing together, it’s clear that there’s not much acting happening from the cast. And the emotions don’t stop coming there. By the time we see a loving montage of Walker’s great moment from the franchise, we’re barely holding it together. It’s obvious that this cast truly was a family, and the sequence brings that home beautifully.

2016: Dory’s Mother Crying
“Finding Dory” (2016)

We first fell in love with Dory, the lovable, if forgetful, fish in 2003’s “Finding Nemo.” We got more moments of fun when our favorite blue tang got her own starring role in “Finding Dory,” but, of course, it wasn’t without a few tears. In the movie, we find out how Dory got separated from her parents in the first place. She heard her mother crying, went to go get a shell to try and cheer her up, and got swept away in the current. Watching a small, baby Dory search for her parents, and then slowly start to forget what she was looking for in the first place, is an extremely heartbreaking moment. We should expect no less from a Pixar movie.

2017: Remember Me
“Coco” (2017)

If you want to make us cry, just play the first few notes of “Remember Me” from 2017’s “Coco,” and you’ll succeed. When Miguel finds himself trapped in the Land of the Dead, he finally meets his great-great-grandfather, Hector, who was banished from the family tree when it was mistakenly believed that he’d abandoned his wife and daughter, Miguel’s Mama Coco M. After his tragic death separated him from his family in life, Hector hoped to eventually reunite with them in the Land of the Dead. To help him, Miguel returns to the land of the living and sings Hector’s song “Remember Me” to Coco. It works- Coco’s eyes light up as she sings along, remembering her father, and saving his afterlife.

2018: “I’ll Never Love Again”
“A Star is Born” (2018)

If you know anything about the other three renditions of “A Star is Born,” you know that things don’t end well for the story’s main couple. Knowing the fate of the lovers doesn’t make things easier, though. In the 2018 version, Ally and Jackson almost make it to a point where they’re happy. Ally is successful, and Jackson is sober and out of rehab, but good things don't last. Jackson decides to end his life over worries that he will ruin Ally’s career, leaving her alone. In the film’s final moments, she sings a lovely tribute to him, and we get to see them together one last time.

2019: The Fight
“Marriage Story” (2019)

Divorce is never easy, and that’s never been more clearly illustrated than in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” Starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, the story follows Charlie and Nicole, a couple navigating the throes of divorce and trying not to let it affect their son Henry too much. The two are strained around each other for the first half of the film, until they finally explode in an all-out beast of a fight. Seriously, we don’t think we’ve ever heard more cruel or callous things said between two people than in this scene. It’s a doozy, and definitely one of the sadder, meaner moments of the year.

2020: Grandma Starts the Fire
“Minari” (2020)

2020’s “Minari” is a moving family drama, filled with nuanced characters who stole our hearts the minute they arrived on screen. But, every family has its problems, and the Yi family goes through more than their share of hardships. This is especially true towards the end of the movie. One day when most of the family is gone, Grandma – who suffered a stroke earlier in the film – accidentally sets the barn on fire. All the produce that the family farm has yielded burns up, meaning months of hard work has been for nothing. It’s a grueling scene to watch, especially when the family shows up and tries to save things to no avail.

2021: Michael has HIV
“Tick, Tick… Boom!” (2021)

One of the more pleasant surprises in movies this year has been Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, a film rendering of “Tick, Tick...Boom!” One of Jonathan Larson’s earlier works, the musical had never been put to the screen before, but Lin did an incredible job. He also managed to deliver one of the year’s most devastating moments. In the middle of an argument with his best friend Jon, Michael reveals that he is HIV positive. In a film set in the New York arts scene of 1990, the specter of HIV had loomed over the entire story. However, this moment cements its danger as undeniably real for Michael, and for Jon. With a beautiful performance from Robin de Jesús, the moment is heartbreaking to behold.
Really? Lovely Bones instead of the %u2018Up%u2019 Montage! F7 instead of Bing Bong%u2019s sacrifice in %u2018Inside Out%u2019!