Tear Jerkers - 25 Movies to Help You Have A Good Cry

Old Yeller has made generations of children cry.
Old Yeller has made generations of children cry. | Source

The "A" list of tear jerker movies

Sometimes we just need a good cry. There are ways to make it happen without sitting down and trying to force the tears. Nothing works like a good movie, a real tear jerker.

Women know about tear jerkers. Some men do, too. For those of you who don't know, a tear jerker can make you cry because it has scenes that are so sad, or it can make you cry because it has scenes that are so happy. Sometimes you cry because it's so intense and poignant. Whatever the reason, you cry, and that's the goal. So you make your goal, and watch a good movie at the same time.

Well, of course, the movie has to be a good one. The only way a bad movie makes you want to cry is due to regret over wasting your money.

I've divided the movies into two lists. My "A" list has movies that required me to reach for the tissue box, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The "B" list made me cry, but with various reservations.

So here's your "have a good cry" list

"A" list tear jerker movies to watch with the kids

The children's favorites, Bambi, Old Yeller and E.T. The Extra-Terrestial are good for adult tears, too. Just remember, if you watch one of them with the kids, you're introducing your children to a good cry at the movies.

Especially Old Yeller, my first cry at the movies. While the tears were running down my face, I remember turning around to see if anyone else had noticed that I was crying. (Well, my sister was crying beside me, but she cried easily, so that didn't count.) The whole theater was full of children, and they were all crying, boys and girls. It was a unique scene, to say the least, and I've remembered it all of my life.

Bambi is one of the best examples of the superb skills and talent of the old Walt Disney animators. It's also a wonderful story. Today, deer fawns are almost automatically referred to as a bambi and it wouldn't surprise me to find that one of every ten pet rabbits is still called Thumper.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestial is a great story for children. It's a little old-fashioned on the special effects, but I think once a child is into the story, that won't be an issue.

The theatrical release poster for the Green Mile by  Drew Struzan
The theatrical release poster for the Green Mile by Drew Struzan

"A" list tear jerker movies to watch with a guy

Do you know a guy who needs a good cry? These movies will do the trick! With luck, he may not even know what you're up to.

Brian's Song - James Caan is such a nice guy here. And he's a guy's guy, too. Valient, a football player, not a complainer. Someone that a guy can really relate to. For women, this was James Caan at his youthful best, both a nice guy and a hunk.

Gladiator - This is the guy's guy of all time. Nobody beats him, not even cowboys or soldiers. But he's vulnerable, sad, tormented. This guy has the whole audience hooked, men and women. Then he brings everyone to their knees with his final scene.

Captains Courageous (get the one with Spencer Tracy) - Spencer Tracy is a man to be emulated here and he teaches Freddie Bartholomew how to be a good guy instead of a spoiled brat. You want to know Spencer for a long, long time.

Ladder 49 - A young man with a family to support leaves his dangerous job as a firefighter because his wife is afraid. But then he returns to it, and his captain wonders if he'll make it. get the tissues ready and expect some serious suspense.

The Green Mile - This is an unexpected tear jerker, because it's on death row. But it's magical and Tom Hanks is the main character, along with a huge, mysterious man who was very probably sent by God. But people just don't understand.


Jane Austin and Emma Thompson Together!

The general "A" list tear jerker movies

Sophie's Choice - Who can beat Meryl Streep's agony when the Nazi makes her choose? And who can show grace and a lack of will to live as she can?

Steel Magnolias - Sally Field tears your heart out. This is a good laugh and a major cry all at the same time.

Finding Neverland - Sad, sad, sad. Kate Winslet as a young and beautiful invalid is heart breaking. The story is supposed to be how the children inspired Peter Pan to be written.

Philadelphia - The scene where Tom Hanks is listening to the music always tears me up. Fair warning that this one has many scenes that can break your heart.

Sense and Sensibility - Emma Thompson's crying scene is all the more poignant for her reserve in the rest of the movie. And then there are the final love scenes that make you melt with happiness.

Doctor Zhivago - There's nothing like the continuous, extended poignancy of doomed lovers coming to their predestined demise. And the scenes they struggle through! A striking movie, as well as an emotional ride.

Cold Mountain - Oh, Nichole Kidman's lonely yearning and Jude Law's traumatic struggling to get back to her are barely bearable. Your heart goes out to both of them, as well as several other important characters.

Message in a Bottle - These grieving, handsome widowers are always so sad. But you don't get off that easily.

Ghost - Oh, my. Even Whoopi Goldberg's great character can't keep the tears away. Demi Moore is heartbroken, and the viewer is completely sympathetic.

Terms of Endearment - Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger argue and fuss their way to a sad ending. This has some very funny scenes, too. One of my favorites is when Shirley MacLaine loses it at the nurse's station.

My Life (Michael Keaton) - Oh, Lord! I cried about 10 times through this one. Michael Keaton takes a long time to die, and a young Nichole Kidman is by his side the whole way.

The Color Purple - Sad tears, happy tears, tears, tears, tears. The first time I watched this movie, felt wrung out to dry by the time the credits rolled.

Titanic - The old woman's memories led me right to a box of kleenex, especially the last scene. And, of course, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play the two young and troubled lovers with such skill and talent.

The Miracle Worker - Oh, happy tears! Well, maybe. I've been amazed at how many people can watch this one without crying. I'd call it a two-tissue special, myself.

Always - Oh, who can resist a lover who dies? And continues to want to be with his sweetheart as a ghost? This has pathos and magic, at the same time.

Meet Joe Black - The whole thing is full of poignancy, until you have to cry. It may not be at the crying parts, but it happens. I've tested it on several friends. Another one with a magical story line. For example, Joe Black (Brad Pitt) is death, who has taken over the body of a young man, and falls in love with Anthony Hopkin's daughter. He has actually come to take Anthony Hopkins away. Great story!

Fried Green Tomatoes - Great fun and a good cry. A lady always knows when to leave. Oh, sob!



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Comments - what are your favorite tear jerker movies? 27 comments

WhydThatHappen 4 years ago

I'll remember this list when the time comes, haha. Another surprisingly sad movie is click, but it's funny throughout as well- 50/50 is another sad/funny movie, and then eternal sunshine of the spotless mind is another good one. You might want to check them out if you haven't seen them already


flagostomos profile image

flagostomos 4 years ago from Washington, United States

Nice list. I would add Hachiko. Only movie that has ever made me tear up.


Becky Katz profile image

Becky Katz 4 years ago from Hereford, AZ

You missed my favorite that works better than most of these for me. "Pay it Forward" always gets to me. Enjoy your other offerings though.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

These are all great movies and I've seen them all. They do make you cry but I really like this list.


phoenix2327 profile image

phoenix2327 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Wonderful selection, HP. Winners all of them.

I personally would have added 'Gone With the Wind.' The scene when Scarlett returns to find her beloved mother lying in state; Bonnie Blue's tragic accident which nearly drove Rhett insane; Melanie's quiet dignity even death and when Rhett leaves behind a shattered Scarlett. (sigh)


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Thanks for the suggestions, WhydThatHappen. If I have a bad year, the same old movies might get a little shopworn. lol


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Oh, is that the one with the faithful dog? I loved that movie! Thanks for the addition, flagostomos.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Hi, Becky!. I almost included that one, but it left me TOO sad!


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, Pamela99. And thanks for stopping by.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

I don't think of GWTW when I think of a tear jerker, but you're right. I do cry when Melanie dies. She's such a good character! And, before that, another spot where I cry is when Mammy tearfully asks Melanie to come and help Scarlett and Rhett after Bonnie Blue is killed. I would cry for some of the terrible things that happen to Scarlett, but she annoys me so. lol This would be a good addition, though. Thanks, phoenix2327


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Oh gosh Healthy, you hit it spot on with Bambi and Old Yeller. The later would probably still swell some mature eyes up with salty water. Brains Song was one of the most emotional TV movies of the early 70s too. Terms of Endearment had the females and even some of the men coming out with kleenex. How about 'Somewhere in Time' with Chris Reeve and Jane Seymour?


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Oh, yes! That one was followed by a pile of tissues, too! Thanks for the suggestion, Alastar.


vturp90 profile image

vturp90 4 years ago from Gambrills, Md

For me, "Terms of Endearment" has to be the biggest tearjerker. Though I haven't cried in about ten years, when I saw that film I came incredibly close. The thought of losing a Mother is just heart-wrenching. And to get me that close to misty is certainly a tremendous feat. Great list.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, vturp90.


jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

I've seen many in your list. Yup, they can be very moving.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Thanks for stopping by, jpcmc. Glad you liked the list.


fromMarkHall profile image

fromMarkHall 4 years ago

I don't know why dying is so sad. Or why crying is even associated with loss, sadness and death. Movies try to wrap everything up and crying just seems natural. I mean, why NOT act like a baby. Somebody you loved died. But what's death really after? For this reason alone, I thought 'Little Buddha' made an interesting tear-jerker. Not so much for the Story of Buddha segments (which play more like filler), but for the less than grandiose lives (and deaths) of the priests involved in the search for the reincarnated soul of their spiritual leader.


Danette Watt profile image

Danette Watt 4 years ago from Illinois

my husband always gets teary at the end of Shenandoah when the son Jimmy Stewart has been searching for during the Civil War comes in to the church in the middle of the service. It's an old movie but a classic.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Oh, Danette, you're right! There are several teary parts to Shenandoah! And if it gets to a guy, it's a good addition for the guy list.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

I haven't seen that one, fromMarkHall. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the suggestion.


Michelle Taylor profile image

Michelle Taylor 4 years ago from New Jersey

This is a great list! Every once in a while when I need a good cry I pop in What Dreams May Come, A Walk to Remember, Life as a House or Rent. Doesn't matter how many times I have seen them, they get me every time.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

I know, Michelle. Nothing like a good movie to move the water over the dam. It's great to have our favorites!


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 4 years ago from Sunny Florida

Wonderful selection of tearjerkers. I saw several of my favorites. Old Yeller can make me cry every time. Up and awesome.


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 4 years ago from Oregon Author

Thank you, KoffeeKlatch Gals. You're right. Old Yeller is a guaranteed good cry!


epbooks profile image

epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

I'll have to remember this list if I ever get in the mood for a good crying movie. I loved Meet Joe Black- that is definitely a tear jerker! I haven't seen any of the other ones. Another good movie if you want to cry is An Unfinished Life. Not too popular, but still love it. :)


Healthy Pursuits profile image

Healthy Pursuits 3 years ago from Oregon Author

I like Meet Joe Black, too. I'll have to watch an Unfinished Life. Thanks for stopping by, epbooks.


Sarah Masson profile image

Sarah Masson 2 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Great list :)

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