The 12 Most Tear-Jerking Netflix Original Movies To Watch When You Need A Good Cry

by Danielle Burgos

While it seems counterintuitive, seeking out depressing entertainment is nothing new; in fact, it goes all the way back to the ancient Greeks. They even had a term for it: catharsis, a way to purge one's own sadness and negativity through fictional tragedy. They believed it let viewers experience true relief and restored a sense of personal balance, and as anyone who's felt much better after a serious cry can tell you, there's definitely something to the concept. If you need a firm restorative for yourself, here are the 12 most tear-jerking Netflix Original movies, ready to be queued up at a moment's notice for an intense session of therapeutic sorrow.

The classic tear-jerkers are all here: love doomed by irreparably different points of views over time that can't be reconciled with emotion (Us And Them), love doomed by inevitable early death (Irreplacable You), short documentaries on coping with hospice care and decisions (Kodachrome's attempt at reconciliation before the loss), and the bittersweet romances borne of personal tragedy that can never shake their roots (To The Bone, Tallulah, and 6 Balloons). There's also the trauma of survival in First They Killed My Father and Strong Island, two very different views on true stories that left the living coping with the horrors of their past as best they can. Read on for more options.


'Us And Them'

A bittersweet romance set during Beijing's late 2000s economic push, the story follows two friends-turned-lovers whose views on balancing happiness and financial security slowly swap over time. It leaves them wondering whether they can reach their dreams, or each other.



A jaded executive and estranged, famous, dying photographer father go on a road trip to develop his last role of Kodachrome film at the one facility still processing it before they close.


'Our Souls At Night'

Two widowers share a bed and town gossip in this sweet film acknowledging that getting older can be lonely.


'Irreplaceable You'

Childhood best friends Abbie and Sam are engaged, but Abbie's diagnosis of terminal cancer changes everything, and causes her to look for other women to eventually date him.


'To The Bone'

An anorexic young artist with a difficult family situation joins a last-chance inpatient program, where she meets a young man who morally boosts the group and encourages her to recover.


'End Game'

This brief documentary shows the compassion, grace, and comfort end-of-life treatment can give not only to patients, but their families dealing with the inevitable.


'First They Killed My Father'

Directed by Angelina Jolie, this is a heart-wrenching tale based on the true story of a girl pressed into service as a child soldier during the reign of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.



This short documentary focuses on difficult end-of-life decisions that must be made quickly in the ICU and emergency room, and their effects on family and friends.


'6 Balloons'

The heartbreak of heroin addiction hits home as a sister drives her brother and his two-year-old daughter to find a detox center over the course of one night.


'Sand Storm'

In a society strictly regulated by tradition, the women of one family chafe against them, but one can only push so far before something breaks.



A desperate young woman steals a baby from its irresponsible mother. Seeking help from the only responsible person she's known in her life, her ex's mother, she's mistaken for the baby's mother, and the two form a strange family.


'Strong Island'

This documentary investigates the death of the filmmaker's brother at the hand of a white mechanic set free by an all-white jury. It probes both the unfairness of a biased system where justice is based on race, and the double loss of a family hoping for some closure.

By now you'll hopefully be refreshed through tears, ready once again to face the world.