10 Tearful Goodbyes In Film

Rom-coms and funny movies have their place, but sometimes you’re just in the mood to cry. Whether you’ve been dealing with heartbreak, illness, or you’re just feeling all the feelings, a tearjerker movie is sometimes exactly what you need to feel better. Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up sad movies so you can have a good cry or when the goodbye just get’s you.

In this year’s Marvel Studios blockbuster Thor: Love and Thunder, Odinson had to say goodbye to his old flame Jane Foster when she chose saving the Asgardian children kidnapped by Gorr the God Butcher over her own health. It was just the latest in a long line of heartbreaking goodbyes on the big screen.

From E.T.’s farewell to Elliott in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to Andy’s farewell to his toys in Toy Story 3 to Truman Burbank’s farewell to his audience in The Truman Show, film history is full of heartbreaking goodbyes.

Toy Story 3

Andy Says Goodbye To His Toys

Woody’s farewell to Buzz at the end of Toy Story 4 was certainly a tearjerker, but the franchise already had the perfect ending when Andy passed on all his toys to Bonnie in Toy Story 3. There isn’t a dry eye in the audience when Andy drives off to college and Woody says, “So long, partner.”

Children and adults alike cry uncontrollably during this scene. Woody finally letting go of the past and recognizing that his time with Andy is over is the perfect resolution to the film’s emotional arc.

The Choice

Sophie is faced with the hardest decision imaginable at the end of Sophie’s Choice: she must decide which one of her two children to hand over to a Nazi soldier, and which one gets to live. If she doesn’t choose, both children will die. Watching the young daughter part from her mother is painful in every conceivable way.

In Lost In Translation

Bob Says Goodbye To Charlotte

Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation is a heartwarming tale about the friendship that blossoms between a fading movie star and a neglected young spouse as they wander around Tokyo. After feeling dissatisfied with their goodbye, Bob jumps out of his taxi to the airport, approaches Charlotte on a crowded street, embraces her, and whispers something inaudible in her ear.

The ambiguity of Bob’s final farewell to Charlotte – not knowing exactly what he said, but knowing it was perfect – makes this a beautiful ending.

Armageddon

Dad Gets to Say Goodbye to His Daughter in Armageddon

In order to save the world, Harry Stamper makes the ultimate sacrifice. Before he rides off into the eternal sunset, he says farewell to his daughter, Grace. Michael Bay’s Armageddon certainly has its flaws as a (disaster) movie. However, this tear-jerker of a goodbye scene is powerful enough to make even the darkest heart reach for a tissue.

Casablanca

Rick Says Goodbye To Ilsa

Michael Curtiz’s wartime romance Casablanca originated as a standard Hollywood production – it wasn’t a passion project; it was just a genre picture starring two actors under contract at the studio – but it ended up standing out as one of the greatest movies ever made.

After reconnecting with her old flame Rick throughout the movie, Ilsa has to choose between embarking on an adventure with her new lover and staying with Rick. She ultimately decides to leave. Realizing he has to let her go, Rick famously tells Ilsa, “We’ll always have Paris.”

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan

Spock Says Goodbye To Kirk

Captain James T. Kirk and his trusty science officer Spock have one of the most iconic friendships in all of pop culture. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, after defeating the titular baddie and saving the Enterprise, Spock dies of radiation poisoning while Kirk helplessly watches from the other side of a pane of glass.

Kirk’s half-Vulcan sidekick signs off with a logical but heartfelt farewell, telling his captain, “I have always been, and always shall be, your friend. Live long… and prosper.”

The Truman Show

Truman Says Goodbye To His Audience

This one isn’t a goodbye between two people, but rather between one person and one billion strangers. When Truman Burbank realizes he’s the star of a reality TV phenomenon at the end of Peter Weir’s The Truman Show, he sets sail into the “ocean” to find a way out of the dome where he’s spent his whole life under constant surveillance.

When he finally hits the wall, he finds a staircase leading up to the exit. Before leaving his artificial world to discover the real one, Truman says one last goodbye to his worldwide audience, using his catchphrase: “In case I don’t see you… good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”

Shane

Shane Says Goodbye To Joey

Over the course of George Stevens’ classic western Shane, the eponymous ex-gunslinger gets a job on a family’s ranch, develops a sweet father-son dynamic with their young son Joey, and protects them from a ruthless cattle baron. After defeating the cattle baron and his men in a shootout, Shane decides he has to move on.

Joey desperately wants Shane to stay, but Shane explains, “There’s no living with a killing,” and that he can’t escape his violent past to lead a peaceful life. As he rides off into the wilderness, Joey calls after him: “Shane, come back! Come back, Shane!”

Harold And Maude

Maude Says Goodbye To Harold

Hal Ashby’s delightfully dark romantic comedy Harold and Maude revolves around a 19-year-old boy who’s obsessed with death falling in love with a 79-year-old woman who embraces life. When Harold throws Maude the 80th birthday party of her dreams, he thinks it’ll convince her not to keep her promise to take her own life when she turns 80. But, midway through the party, during a tender romantic moment, Maude tells Harold she “couldn’t imagine a lovelier farewell.”

Harold is confused by the use of the word “farewell,” and Maude explains, “I took the tablets an hour ago. I’ll be gone by midnight.” Maude is at peace with the decision, but Harold is horrified. With pitch-perfect comic timing, he says, “WHAT!?” before Ashby cuts to a speeding ambulance.

In stark contrast to all the sci-fi movies about evil aliens who want to invade Earth and enslave humanity, Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming coming-of-age blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial revolves around a sweet, gentle, friendly alien who just wants to get home.

Before embarking with his people in the mothership, E.T. says a farewell to Gertie and Michael before giving a special goodbye to his kindred spirit, Elliott. E.T. touches Elliott’s forehead and tells him, “I’ll be right here.”

Before Sunrise

Jesse And Céline Part Ways

At the beginning of Richard Linklater’s romantic drama Before Sunrise, Jesse and Céline meet on a train journey through Europe and decide to spend the day together in Vienna before they have to return to their respective homes. But by the time the final scene rolls around, they’ve fallen in love and don’t want their romance to end there.

Throughout the whole movie, they insisted that they would only spend the day together. But when they have to say goodbye at the train station, they can’t bear to part ways, so they make plans to reunite in the same place in six months. Rewatches come with the hindsight of knowing how it all turned out in the sequels.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

Chief Says Goodbye To A Lobotomized McMurphy

At the end of Miloš Forman’s psychological dramedy One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chief is heartened to learn that McMurphy kept his promise not to escape without him. And then he sees the lobotomy scars on McMurphy’s forehead. With tears in his eyes, Chief hugs McMurphy goodbye and tells him, “You’re coming with me.”

Chief smothers his friend with a pillow before throwing the hydrotherapy console through the window and escaping alone. There’s a bittersweet quality to this ending. McMurphy’s inspiring rebellion against Nurse Ratched’s oppressive regime was ultimately fruitless – but at least Chief managed to escape.

 

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Stevie Flavio
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