12 Heartbreaking Movies That Will Leave You Emotionally Wrecked

Movies have the power to take us on emotional journeys that leave us feeling touched, moved, and inspired. Sometimes, however, the impact of a film can be so profound that it leaves us emotionally drained and feeling wrecked. These 12 heartbreaking movies are just that: they will take you on a journey of heartbreak, loss, and raw emotion that will leave you feeling emotionally drained but also deeply touched.

From love stories that end in tragedy to tales of personal struggle and loss, these films will leave a lasting impact and remind us of the power of the human spirit in even the toughest of times. So grab your tissues, brace yourself, and get ready for a journey through some of the most emotionally powerful films ever made.

1. Dead Poets Society (1989)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

When people in a movie forum asked for suggestions of films that get you every single time, Dead Poets Society was the top response. And, since Robin Williams' passing, the movie's emotional weight has only become heavier. Oh Captain, My Captain, would you please pass the tissues?

2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

the shawshank redemption
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures

After all their trials and tribulations in Shawshank State Prison, there is just something about (spoiler alert) Andy Dufresne and Red's reunion on a picturesque beach that ties together a darn near perfect movie in the darn near perfect way. I'm not crying. You're crying.

3. Field of Dreams (1989)

Field of Dreams 1
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

Putting on Field of Dreams is like unleashing a firehose of tears for any father or son with half a heart.  The scene where Kevin Costner's Ray Kinsella reunites with the ghost of his father to have a catch is where most viewers lose it, especially if they have lost their pops.

4. Stand By Me (1986)

Stand By Me
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” Want to feel the tinge of sadness that comes with nostalgia and perhaps even cry a little bit over long-lost  friends? Watch Stand By Me, one of the most reliable coming-of-age films ever made.

5. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

lord of the rings return of the king
Image Credit: New Line Cinema

After three epic films culminating in the crowning of Aragorn as the king of Gondor, one movie fan gets choked up at the line “My friends, you bow to no one,” which Aragorn speaks to his hobbit companions Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin.

6. Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Manchester by the Sea
Photo Credit: Amazon Studios.

Anyone who has experienced a loss will find that Manchester by the Sea strikes a nerve or perhaps even a well of tears. While the film explores the complicated ways that each person processes grief, those who know grief well will likely find that this film resonates with them and may conjure memories of loved ones lost.

7. Magnolia (1999)

Magnolia tomcruise
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Paul Thomas Anderson's masterpiece Magnolia intertwines several different narratives, each of which is heartbreaking in its own way. Unabashedly diving into themes of addiction, loneliness, peaking too early, and estranged loved ones. The ending of Magnolia is as poignant as endings come.

8. Hachi: A Dog's Tale (2009)

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Like its predecessor Marley & Me, the pup-centric film Hachi: A Dog's Tale preys upon our affinity for domesticated canines. Predatory as it may be, the filmmakers' bet that we couldn't resist yet another man's-best-friend trope is a winning one.

Rather than recycle the dog-dies-too-soon narrative, though, Hachi puts a new spin on the dog film genre to the same tear-jerking effect.

9. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Pursuit of Happyness
Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Knowing that The Pursuit of Happyness is based on the true story of rags-to-riches stockbroker Chris Gardner makes your tears all the more justifiable. Cry away, you big baby. You've earned this one.

10. Up (2009)

Photo Credit: Disney/Pixar.

You're crying about a kid's film? Aren't you like 30? Yes, I am, and yes, I am. However, the animation doesn't make the timeless story of Carl and Ellie Fredrickson any less touching.

11. October Sky (1999)

october sky 1999
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Based on the true story of Homer Hickam, who loves rocket science but comes from a coal mining family. He leaves his small town to pursue his dreams.

“October Sky when Homer's dad comes to launch the last rocket with him,” says one fan. “It gets me.”

12. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

little miss sunshine 2006
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

One fan says, “Olive talking to her grandpa feeling like a loser” makes them cry every time. The movie is authentic and relatable.

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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Sam Mire is a freelance writer who has manned a variety of beats over nearly a decade in the literary biz. He has spent weeks in the Alaskan wildlands, immersed himself in the world of Florida's homeless population, covered live sporting events, and served as a linchpin for media outlets in the legal, tech, and entertainment spaces. Sam has been published in Fast Company, Forbes, Entrepreneur, AP News, Fox News, and, most notably, Wealth of Geeks. In his free time, he enjoys boxing, woodwork, petting his dog, and reveling in good company.