We all love a happy ending, but those are few and far between in real life. Goodbyes are a part of life, whether you're saying farewell to a friend, realizing the romance is gone, or leaving behind something meaningful. These spectacular and emotional movies depict some of the saddest and most devastating goodbyes in movie history that will have you reaching for the tissues.
1. Lost in Translation (2003)
Lost in Translation is a nuanced movie about two strangers who become unlikely bonded upon meeting briefly in Tokyo. It has heavy themes about feeling out of place in the world and your life. Ultimately, the two must part ways, delivering a bitter and challenging goodbye that leaves you feeling empty.
2. La La Land (2016)
La La Land is a musical about two lovers trying to break into show business. After all the trials and tribulations they experience together, they don't work out. While there is no obviously brutal goodbye scene, their goodbye is subtle and achey as they see each other flourish without the other.
3. Casablanca (1942)
One of the most iconic goodbyes in film history, Casablanca ends with the two romantic leads bidding one another adieu forever. Ilsa leaves Rick behind in Casablanca to return to her husband, Victor. This story shows how, sometimes, love isn't enough, and life goes on.
4. Wizard of Oz (1939)
After facing their fears in the mystical land of Oz, Dorothy has to say goodbye to the pals she made during her transformative adventure. Even though the characters are represented by her real-life friends, there's a sense of finality in her farewell, as it's unlikely she returns to the bizarre — but charming — fantasy realm.
5. Furious 7 (2015)
A couple of months into the filming of Furious 7, Paul Walker died in a single-vehicle car accident. The tragedy left his fans, family and friends devastated. It also left the screenwriters for Furious 7 with an ostensibly impossible task: pay proper homage to Brian O'Conner while adjusting the storyline so his exit made sense. The result was one of the most touching character departures ever put on film.
6. Interstellar (2014)
I thought Interstellar would be another bland space movie, but I was happily wrong. This intense, thrilling, and emotional flick is about an astronaut and his team sent on a mission to save Earth. Unfortunately, this mission means leaving his daughter behind, but they get to say an unorthodox goodbye in the end.
7. Gone With The Wind (1939)
Gone with the Wind is a brilliant story of romance, war, and classism, taking place in the South during the Civil War. While the two leading characters are passionately and woefully in love, they do not end up together, mostly because he realizes their love is toxic and she is selfish and diluted.
8. Roman Holiday (1953)
Roman Holiday is one of my favorite movies, starring the gorgeous Audrey Hepburn and the enigmatic Gregory Peck. Hepburn plays a European princess sick of her demanding life, while Peck is a reporter. The two fall in love, but their lives do not fit together, and the final farewell scene is heartwrenching.
9. Blue Valentine (2010)
Blue Valentine is a miserable and tearful movie from beginning to end, so get your tissues ready. It's about a married couple on a downward spiral who are pulling apart from one another painfully slowly. Nothing particularly miraculous happens, offering viewers a raw look at a disintegrating marriage.
10. Armageddon (1998)
In Armageddon, we get a classic sacrificial goodbye, where the hero of the movie gives up his life to save the people he loves and, in this case, also the entire planet. The final scene where Bruce Willis's character says goodbye is emotional and inspiring, to say the least.
11. The Fault in Our Stars (2014)
I'm not going to lie; this movie is not my favorite. However, there is no denying that the ending is tragic, and the final goodbye will rip your heart out. It's sad from the opening scene to the final credits, so be prepared to cry your eyes out and leave feeling damaged.
12. Booksmart (2019)
Going off to college is an exciting new adventure, but sometimes, it means you have to leave behind your person. Two high school best friends have to say goodbye to one another after four years together and one wild night to go to colleges in different parts of the country. It's a very genuine and melancholy goodbye, but they manage to keep it lighthearted.
13. The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
This moving movie is about missed connections. A housewife meets a photographer while her family and husband are away, and after a brief but intense emotional affair, they must return to their lives. The movie asks the question: What happens if you meet your soulmate too late?
14. Call Me by Your Name (2017)
Call Me By Your Name is a love story about two men who meet on summer vacation and fall madly in love. At the end of the movie, one of them becomes engaged to a woman, and they must say goodbye. The ending of the movie will destroy your soul, but you can read the book for a happier ending!
15. The Notebook (2004)
I debated whether or not to add this to the list, as they get to grow old and die together, which is supposed to be a happy ending. However, Allie's inability to remember who Noah is makes their lucid final moments all the more impactful and heart wrenching.
16. Castaway (2000)
While on the island alone, Chuck befriends a volleyball who becomes his only source of comfort on this terrible journey. The volleyball, named Wilson, is inanimate but becomes so important to Chuck that the scene where it floats away from him is heartbreaking to watch. Not all tough goodbyes are between humans!
17. Titanic (1997)
You saw this one coming, right? At the end of Titanic, Rose is forced to choose between saving herself or hanging onto Jack, although he is already dead. She decides to physically let go but promises to never let go of him in her heart. It's an iconic and devastating goodbye, and I'm definitely not tearing up while I write this.
18. Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Two cowboys begin a complex affair during the 60s in Wyoming, which spans over 20 years, despite them both being married to other people. It's an intense movie about love, acceptance, and lies. When they finally say goodbye at the end, you'll be sobbing into the couch pillows.
19. Sophie's Choice (1982)
Meryl Streep delivers a harrowing performance in this movie as a Holocaust survivor forced to give up one of her two children to the Nazis. Neither option is going to have a happy ending, but the goodbye at the end is more painful and heartbreaking than you could ever imagine.
20. Toy Story 3 (2010)
Toy Story 3 had me unexpectedly sobbing in the theater as Andy said goodbye to his toys to go off to college. Again, not all goodbyes are between humans, and this movie exemplifies how hard it can be to accept that you're growing up. The bittersweet ending is cathartic and endearing but still crushing.
21. Someone Great (2019)
Break-ups are hard, and Someone Great offers a raw look at how not all break-ups are black-and-white. The leading lady in this is dealing with the end of her long-term relationship. She has to say goodbye to her boyfriend and best friend, not because they don't love each other, but because they don't want the same things.
22. Forrest Gump (1994)
If you want a movie with a collection of tough goodbyes, watch Forrest Gump. He has to say goodbye to his mother as she dies of cancer, his best friend who was shot in Vietnam, and the love of his life who succumbs to AIDS. The movie will make you cry roughly every 30 minutes, but the end will lift you up again with the promise of new beginnings.
23. Marley & Me (2008)
I'm sorry, okay? But it had to go on the list! If you love dogs and are willing to cry until your eyes are puffy and sore, this is the movie for you. This movie tells the story of a family and their yellow lab, Marley. If you've ever loved or lost a pet, this movie will wreck you.
24. The Iron Giant (1999)
This movie is probably one of the best-animated films of all time, and the ending will break your heart. A young kid discovers an alien robot, and they become friends, but the alien can't stay on Earth. The two form an adorable bond throughout the film, and their final goodbye is heartfelt.
25. Secondhand Lions (2003)
Secondhand Lions is a woefully underrated film about a young boy who moves in with his eccentric and hostile uncles. The movie shows the relationship between the three develop as we see flashbacks of the wild lives the two uncles lived. The boy, all grown-up at this point, must say goodbye to one of the uncles when he dies in a plane crash.
26. My Girl (1991)
In this film, a young boy who is outcast by the other kids in town befriends a girl in his neighborhood. They become close until they begin to grow up and start to drift apart. It's one of those slow-burn, extra-sad goodbyes that are all too realistic, as many friendships don't last forever.
27. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
This campy adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play takes a modern and whimsical approach to the story. However, the tragic ending remains the same, as both love interests die at their own hands because they can't be together. It's one of the most dreadful goodbyes because they never actually get to say goodbye.
Veronica is a food, fashion, and entertainment writer from Boston, MA, with a passion for all things lifestyle and culture. She graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a bachelor's in English literature. From Anna Wintour to Angelina Jolie to Alton Brown, she has her finger on the pulse of all things Hollywood and celebrity.
If she's not in the kitchen crafting new recipes, then she's binging the latest HBO series and catching up on the hottest trends in Vogue.
She has written for and been syndicated by publications like The Weather Channel, The Daily Meal, The Borgen Project, The Good Men Project, The Express, MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and Not Deer Magazine. Her writing experience ranges from global news articles to celebrity gossip pieces to movie reviews to homemade recipes and more.