Not all movies have happy endings and sad movie endings effect an audience in ways not other movies can. When a character loses a loved one or sacrifices his own life, it can drive any person to tears. These sad endings live in films that caused audiences to talk about and question why the movie had a powerful effect on them.
- “Beaches” "Beaches," starring Bette Midler, has one very depressing, sad movie endings. The movie is about friends CC and Hillary and their friendship as Hillary slowly dies from a cardiac illness. The movie ends with CC taking Hillary home to die in comfort.
- “Big Fish” Albert Finney plays a man who embellishes his family with tall tales, a habit that helps drive away his son when he grows up. The son returns home when his father grows ill and learns, as his father dies, that even the tallest of tales has truth in them for one of the most touching, sad movie endings.
- “Braveheart” Based on a true story, Mel Gibson plays Randall Wallace in this movie about people seeking freedom. Wallace leads his fellow Scottish compatriots to stand up and fight against oppression. It is not until his execution that they finally unite as one in one of the sad movie endings.
- “Brian’s Song” If there is one movie moment that can make almost any man cry, it is this sad movie ending. This is a football movie about Brian Piccolo (James Cann), a player who learns he has terminal cancer. When the movie ends and Brian has passed away, it is his best friend (Billy Dee Williams) who reveals his feeling towards his close friend.
- “Gladiator” Russell Crowe stars in this Academy Award-winning film about a once-proud soldier who becomes a gladiator for the former king’s evil son. Soldiers kill the gladiator’s wife and son before he can reach home and, as he dies in the gladiator ring, he sees both of them waiting for him to join them in a tragic sad movie ending.
- “Grave of the Fireflies” This Japanese World War II film follows two young children during the destruction the war on Japan. Their family dies and the two stick together. Eventually, the little girl also dies and by the end of the movie, the little boy dies as well. After he dies, he finally rejoins his sister as fireflies surround the two, who seem finally at peace.
- “The Green Mile” John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan) is a man accused of a murder he never committed. This movie, adapted from the novel by Stephen King, shows a corrections officer (Tom Hanks) who takes care of Coffey, knowing the man did not commit the crime but is unable to save him from the electric chair.
- “Life is Beautiful” Roberto Benigni won an Oscar for this film about a father and son sent to a concentration camp. The father does everything in his power to protect his son from the truth, making it seem like they are playing a game. By the end, the father makes his son laugh one last time as a Nazi guard guns him down, protecting the child up to the end in one of the greatest sad movie endings.
- “Million Dollar Baby” Clint Eastwood directs this movie about a woman named Maggie (Hillary Swank) who trains to become a world-class boxer. After becoming paralyzed in a match, she begs for a mercy killing and her mentor (Eastwood) finally gives in and disappears, never to be heard from again in a heartbreaking sad movie ending.
- “Old Yeller” “Old Yeller” is the movie that's always brought up when talking about sad movie endings. The ending shows Travis killing his faithful dog after Ol’ Yeller contracts rabies.
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