'The Fault In Our Stars' & the 24 Biggest Tearjerkers of the Past 20 Years

Everyone knows that TFIOS stands for The Fault In Our Stars, but it could just as easily be short for Tears Fall Intensely, Oh Sadness! (not as catchy a title, we admit). That's because John Green's novel, and the upcoming, eagerly anticipated film adaptation, is a great, big, unstoppable, heaving tearjerker. In fact, if the movie is even a fraction as tear-inducing as the book, not even Dolby theaters will be able to drown out the sounds of sobbing moviegoers.

Considering TFIOS is already breaking records before it even hits theaters, don't be surprised if Shailene Woodley and continue to make movie history after it's released. In fact, we'd be willing to bet that TFIOS will become one of cinema's bona fide romantic tearjerkers like Titanic or The Notebook. In honor of TFIOS (which had us crying at the trailers alone), we picked the biggest tearjerkers of the past twenty years. Grab a box of tissues and take a trip down depressing movie memory lane with us, won't you?

Image: 20th Century Fox

'The Lion King' (1994)

Because Disney apparently hadn’t sufficiently traumatized kids enough with the mother’s death in Bambi, they decided to upset a whole new generation with a father’s death in The Lion King. Not only did we watch little Simba watch his dad Mufasa plummet to his death (at the paws of Scar), but then we desperately see him cry out for help. Simba pleading with his dead father to wake up is enough to send anyone, not just kids, into hysterics.

Image: Walt Disney Pictures

'The Shawshank Redemption' (1994)

Granted, The Shawshank Redemption is more likely to make you cry happy tears, they are tears nevertheless. Between Red’s monologue about freedom to his joyous reunion on the beach with Andy, you’ll basically be reduced to a puddle. Plus it has one of the best lump-in-your-throat lines in all of movie history: “Get busy living or get busy dying.”

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'Forrest Gump' (1994)

Forrest Gump runs the gamut of sad tears (Forrest’s mother dies, Jenny dies, Bubba dies) to happy tears (Lieutenant Dan gets new legs) to happy/sad tears (Forrest sees his son for the first time). The Oscar-winning weepie clocks in at 142 minutes, of which you’ll spend roughly 133 minutes crying.

Image: Paramount Pictures

'Titanic' (1997)

If you’re not sobbing uncontrollably from the minute the ship starts to go down until that final scene in which young Jack and Rose are reunited, then your heart is as cold as that iceberg. Take your pick of what does you in: the old couple clutching each other in bed as water fills their room, a mother comforting her children during the chaos, or Jack and Rose spending their final moments together in the freezing water, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” or all of the above… and then some.

Image: Paramount Pictures

'Life is Beautiful' (1998)

Life is Beautiful is, in fact, a beautiful movie, but it will definitely make you ugly cry. The Oscar-winning Holocaust drama about a father who tries to hide the horrors of the concentration camp they are in to his son by making it a game has one of the saddest scenes imaginable. As Guido is being marched to his death, he sees his son Joshua hiding and continues to pretend it is a game so that he does not realize what is really going on. Heartbreaking, in every sense of the word.

Image: Miramax Films

'Saving Private Ryan' (1998)

“Earn this.” If that classic line doesn’t absolutely reduce you to tears than any number of scenes in the harrowing World War II drama ought to do it. The horrors of war are on full display in Saving Private Ryan (including that memorable, but hard-to-forget Normandy Invasion sequence) but it’s a reminder and tribute to all of the lives lost.

Image: DreamWorks Pictures

'The Green Mile' (1999)

The scene in which John Coffey is executed was gut-wrenching enough the first time around (his plea to not wear the hood because he is afraid of the dark is when the waterworks are in full force), but it’s even sadder to watch now since the passing of the actor who played him, Michael Clarke Duncan.

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

'The Iron Giant' (1999)

Hey, robots and Vin Diesel have feelings! In fact, The Iron Giant will make you feel their feelings, and all of the other feelings, too. You’ll get choked up around the point where Eli explains to his friend the Giant that “souls don’t die” but you’ll be a blubbering mess when Giant later sacrifices his own life to save all the living souls on Earth from a nuclear missile.

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

'Boys Don't Cry' (1999)

Based on the real-life story of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was raped and murdered by a group of men, Boys Don’t Cry is a harrowing portrayal of a life taken because of discrimination and fear. It will make you weep for the loss of Brandon, and others like Brandon who had to endure unspeakable acts of hatred and violence because of who they are. A shattering, startling film that will not only make you cry, but shake you to your core.

Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Dancer in the Dark' (2000)

Talk to anyone who’s made it through all of the musical drama Dancer in the Dark and they’ll tell you: once was enough. This is a movie that’s so deeply upsetting, not only do you never want to watch it ever again, you don’t even like thinking about it. Selma, a nearly-blind woman who is trying to make a better life for her son and often escapes to a fantasy world in her mind, is fired from her job, robbed, and eventually executed, among other seriously depressing things.

Image: Fine Line Features

'In America' (2002)

An Irish family moves to America in the hopes of a fresh start after their son, a little boy named Frankie, has died of a brain tumor. As the family tries to cope in various ways, they befriend a neighbor named Mateo who is dying of AIDS. This spirited indie, which is a semi-autobiographical account from the film’s director Jim Sheridan, is all about “letting go,” which you will do…to all of the tears you have inside of your eyeballs.

Image: Fox Searchlight Pictures

'Big Fish' (2003)

A beautiful, strange story about love, as well as the strained relationship between a father and his son that can turn anyone into a believer. When tall tale teller Edward begins to pass away his son Will, who never believed his dad’s stories, tells him how his story ends: with all of the people in his life he has known and loved come to send him off in the river. It’s pretty much heaven on Earth and it will simultaneously make your heart break and swell with joy, especially when all of the “characters” from Edward’s stories attend his funeral.

Image: Columbia Pictures

'Million Dollar Baby' (2004)

What starts as a scrappy underdog tale about a female boxer named Maggie and her relationship with her curmudgeon trainer Frankie takes a sharp turn halfway through into one of the most depressing sports movies ever. After a devastating injury during a fight, Maggie is left a quadriplegic and loses the will to live. She begs Frankie to help her take her life and, well, you’ll be a sobbing mess faster than you can say ”mo cuishle.”

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

'The Notebook' (2004)

The weepie love story to end them all: Noah tells his wife Allie (who is suffering from dementia) the story of how they met and fell in love. Told through flashbacks, the couple — from opposite ends of the tracks — are torn apart, but eventually find their way back to each other. In the present day, Noah stays by his wife’s side, even though she doesn’t recognize him. It’s full-on waterworks when Allie briefly remembers him and “their story,” but it’s a whole different tearjerker ballgame when the couple die side-by-side together in their sleep.

Image: New Line Cinema

'Hotel Rwanda' (2004)

Tragic for so many reasons, Hotel Rwanda shows the horrors that unfolded during the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, a devastating chapter of history that is far too often untold. The film tells the story of hotelier Paul Rusesabagina, who saved the lives of 1,268 Rwandan refugees in the midst of a genocide that claimed the lives of nearly one million people. An undeniably difficult film that can never, and should never, be forgotten.

Image: Lions Gate Entertainment

'Brokeback Mountain' (2005)

An emotional gut punch of a movie, the tragic love story between two men, Ennis (the late, great Heath Ledger) and Jack has one of the saddest movie endings of all-time. When Ennis learns that his estranged former lover Jack has passed away, he visits Jack’s parents home and sees that Jack had kept a shirt from their time together many years ago. Ennis smells the shirt and the floodgates open…not just for Ennis, but for moviegoers. Ennis’s final words in the film “Jack, I swear…” will stay with you for a long, long time.

Image: Focus Features

'Pan's Labyrinth' (2006)

When Pan’s Labyrinth isn’t frightening you to your core (damn you, Pale Man), it will make you weep uncontrollably. A young girl named Ofeila escapes from the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and her monster of a stepfather Captain Vidal to a fantasy land in her mind. Ofelia is bright and beautiful and loving, which makes her horrifying death at the hand of her stepfather the ultimate tearjerker. The tears only keep coming when she’s reunited with her late father in the underworld.

Image: Picturehouse

'Bridge to Terabithia' (2007)

Oh, little baby Josh Hutcherson, why do you have to make us cry so? Based on the beloved classic novel, the movie will make you cry just as much as the book did, particularly when Jesse learns that his best friend and fellow adventurer Leslie has drowned in a creek. A lesson in friendship and growing up and death that will take you right back to the childhood trauma of when you read the damn thing the first time.

Image: Walt Disney Pictures

'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' (2008)

It sounds redundant to say that a Holocaust movie is depressing, but The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is as harrowing and heart-wrenching as they come. Two young boys befriend one another during the Holocaust: Shmuel, who lives inside of a concentration camp, and Bruno, the son of a Nazi commander. When Bruno finds his way into the camp to help Shmuel find his own father, both of the boys are executed. This one doesn’t just make you cry, it pretty much ruins you.

Image: Miramax Films

'Marley & Me' (2008)

Who in the world let this movie open on Christmas Day? Seriously, we want to know. Because millions of families spent their holiday openly sobbing when the beloved Grogan family dog Marley has to be put to sleep. Oh yeah, and then there’s a dog funeral. Merry Christmas, everyone.

Images: Twentieth Century Fox

'Up' (2009)

Most movies save their emotional wallop for the end, but not Up. No, Up decided to start their movie with one of the most tear-inducing sequences ever put on screen, animated or otherwise. The movie begins with a young Carl and Ellie and tells their whole love story, from when they met as children to when they fell in love to their struggles in life…to Ellie’s death. It’s a completely wordless sequence, and it will do just that to you.

Image: Walt Disney/PIxar

'Toy Story 3' (2010)

In case Pixar hadn’t clobbered you enough with Up, they went and made Toy Story 3. Take your pick of which scene will destroy you more: when the toys accept their fate that they are about to die and hold each other’s hands (they survive, but still, pretty heavy stuff) or when Andy plays with his beloved childhood toys one last time before he heads into joyless, crushing adulthood.

Image: Walt Disney/Pixar

'Beasts of the Southern Wild' (2012)

Just hearing the sweeping score to Beasts of the Southern Wild should turn you into a misty-eyed mess, but the movie itself is what really does you in. Hushpuppy will make your heart soar when she bravely faces down her fears, but will break it when she has to say goodbye to her dying father who urges her not to cry. Yeah, good luck with that.

Image: Fox Searchlight

'12 Years a Slave' (2013)

12 Years a Slave tells the harrowing true story of Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841. The film takes an unflinching look at the unspeakable horrors of slavery and there’s no question that it takes an emotional toll watching, but understandably so. There are so many scenes that will not only make you cry in the Oscar-winning film, but ones that will haunt you long after the credits have rolled. Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar-winning turn as the abused slave Patsey is one of the most devastating things you will ever witness.

Image: Summit Entertainment