Cryfest 101: Movie Tropes That Make You Cry Every Time

Photo Credit: Photofest.
There are a few different types of criers in the world.

There are quiet criers. There are loud ones. There are those that whimper. There are wailing criers, too. There are cute criers and there are ugly criers.

I am a proud, quiet, and ugly crier. The quiet part comes in handy when I'm in public, say, sitting in a crowded movie theater watching the incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking film The Light Between Oceans.

The movie, based on a novel by the same name, centers on the (real-life) couple Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender as newlyweds who struggle to start a family while living on a small island in total isolation. After they finally find happiness, one of them has to make the decision to...well, I won't give any spoilers, except for the fact that you will cry. A lot. For many reasons. During the final scene of the movie, I had a few big, black mascara tears slowly running down my face. Like I said, quiet and ugly.

But while watching the movie and attempting to stifle the waterworks before they went off, I realized there are certain elements and scenes of films that consistently trigger all of the sad feels. Dying animals? Forbidden love? Parents dying? Terminal illness? Are you crying yet?! I tallied a total of 17 cinematic tropes that always result in a full-on cryfest.

So yes, this is the unofficial saddest slideshow of all time. Tissues not included.
1 of 17
Terminal Illness
A Walk To Remember (2002)
Few things are as heartbreaking as that final hospital scene when the beeps of the monitor suddenly go steady and flatline. Even when we know the character is sick with a fatal disease, like Jamie (Mandy Moore), it doesn't make the death any less heartbreaking.

Other examples: The Fault In Our Stars (2014) and My Sister's Keeper (2009)
2 of 17
Pet Deaths
Marley & Me (2008)
A pet dying in a movie is sometimes even sadder than a character dying. Especially in Marley & Me, where the dog was so much more than just a furry friend. He was an integral part of his family's lives.

Other examples: Old Yeller (1957) and Seabiscuit (2003)
3 of 17
Voice-over Reading Letters
P.S. I Love You
A deceased character reading a letter or note, paired with some emotional background music, gets me every time.

Other examples: The Notebook (2004) and The Light Between Oceans (2016)
4 of 17
Forbidden Love
The Notebook
Why couldn't these couples just be together their whole lives? A story of star-crossed lovers like Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie (Rachel McAdams) can be as frustrating as it is depressing.

Other examples: Love Story (1970) and The English Patient (1996)
5 of 17
Loss Of A Child
The Light Between Oceans (2016)
A parent losing their child under terrible circumstances is hauntingly depressing.

Other examples: Sophie's Choice (2011) and Changeling (2008)
6 of 17
Aging Montage
Up (2009)
People getting old, learning about life together, and then one dying before the other is heartbreaking. Animated movies love doing this to us.

Other examples: The Lion King (1994) and Frozen (2013)
7 of 17
Armageddon (1998)
With great power comes great responsibility. And apparently, self-sacrifice.

Other examples: Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Braveheart (1995)
8 of 17
Innocent People Dying
Fruitvale Station (2013)
These scenes are the hardest to watch. The moment Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant is shot, the tears are flowing. It's agonizingly sad. Unfortunately, these films are also based on real events.

Other examples: Hotel Rwanda (2004) and The Pianist (2002)
9 of 17
Happy Tears
Free Willy
Yes! Finally something to smile about. Those water droplets falling off Willy? Those are metaphorical happy tears.

Other examples: The Little Princess (1995) and Fluke (1995)
10 of 17
Death Of A Parent
Bambi (1942)
If a movie is going to show me a scene where a parent dies in front of their child (I'm looking at you, Lion King) I will ball up and silently weep.

Other examples: Casper (1995) and Edward Scissorhands (1994)
11 of 17
Athletic Redemption
Remember The Titans (2000)
What's more inspiring that dedication, conviction, and overturning decades of useless hatred? Oh, you also get to see the enlightened team win the final game. Athletic redemption can quickly turn anxious tears into celebratory ones.

Other examples: Radio (1993 ) and We Are Marshall (2006)
12 of 17
Senseless Gun Violence
Hardball (2001)
15 years later, senseless gun violence still permeates every corner of our nation. It's sickening and gut-wrenching. A movie portrayal of it is no less depressing.

Other examples: The Land (2016) and Dear Zachary (2008)
13 of 17
Adorable Friendships
The Fox And The Hound (1981)
I would trade a human friendship for an a perfect animal friendship any day — especially when it's an unlikely duo that are meant to be enemies. These are happy tears.

Other examples: Babe (1995) and E.T. (1988)
14 of 17
Heartbreaking Surprise Endings
Atonement (2007)
If only the events could have been altered. I. Just. Can't. I'm tearing up again.

Other examples: Remember Me (2010) and One Day (2011)
15 of 17
Addiction-Addled Relationships
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Addiction is fucking sad.

Other examples: Candy (2006) and The Basketball Diaries (1995)
16 of 17
Natural Disasters
The Impossible
Unpredictable deaths inspired by both real-life and fictional natural disasters are the worst, because it's easy to place yourself in their shoes. What would you have done?

Other examples: The Perfect Storm (2000) and Children Of Men (2006)
17 of 17
Death Of A Lover
Titanic (1997)
Jack! Don't let go! Right when things were getting hot between Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet), their love had to be frozen in time.

Other examples: Forrest Gump (1994) and Me Before You (2016)