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The Most Powerful Sad Endings In Cinematic History

Everybody loves a film that makes them smile, but not every story can end on an upbeat note — and not all sad endings are created equal. Some might make us a little misty-eyed for a bit, only to be forgotten in a day or two. 

But then there are the film finales that leave us absolutely devastated. These endings tear our hearts in half and lodge in our brains forever. Their last few minutes are so memorably melancholy that they can make us cry if somebody even mentions the title of the movie. These scenes pack a tremendous emotional punch — perhaps a fan favorite character bit the dust, or maybe a sweet romance tragically crumbled apart — and when asked to list a few of the most powerful sad endings in cinematic history, these are some that often spring to mind.

Creasy goes back to Blue Bayou

While Man on Fire was critically savaged upon release, this fiery revenge thriller features one of Denzel Washington's most moving performances. He plays John Creasy, an alcoholic bodyguard who gets a shot at redemption when he takes a job in Mexico as a bodyguard for Pita (Dakota Fanning), the adorable daughter of a Mexican businessman. Soon, the suicidal gunman forms a father-daughter bond with his young charge.

After years of booze and bullets, actually caring for somebody is a new experience for Creasy, but sadly, it doesn't last long: Pita is soon abducted by a powerful crime syndicate that learns you should never mess with a Creasy Bear's cub. Eager for some righteous revenge, he buys pretty much every gun in Mexico and goes on a murder spree, eventually capturing the kidnapper's brother. Creasy then does a bit of bargaining, promising to trade the creep for the kid. The gangsters agree, with one little caveat: they want Creasy, too.

Dying from a gunshot wound, Creasy agrees to the deal and gives himself up. But before handing himself over, he reunites with Pinta for a few brief seconds, and when he tells her goodbye, it's a moment that will make even the toughest action fan weep. It's probably no coincidence that John Creasy shares the same initials with another guy who sacrificed Himself to save lives, and as the gangsters drive Creasy away, the bodyguard closes his eyes and drifts away to Blue Bayou.

Maggie's last moments

Million Dollar Baby might be the sneakiest movie ever made. This boxing drama starts off like an inspirational tale (more Rocky than Requiem for a Dream) and follows Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), a backwoods waitress hoping to jab her way into the squared circle. She hopes that a grizzled trainer named Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) will teach her all about the sweet science, but he's reluctant to teach a woman, especially one who's over the hill in fight years. But Maggie is persistent, and after convincing Frankie, she KO's her way to a championship fight... when the movie takes a hard left turn into depressing territory.

During the fight, Maggie is illegally punched after the bell, and our hero falls hard, smashing her neck against a footstool and becoming paralyzed from the neck down. After the doctors are forced to cut off her leg, Maggie begs Frankie to perform the ultimate act of mercy. At first, the trainer can't even think about taking Maggie's life, but after she bites her tongue off in a vain suicide attempt, Frankie agrees to do the deed.

Before he administers the lethal injection, Frankie tells Maggie the meaning of her Irish nickname, "Mo Cuishle": my darling and my blood. Yeah, this is when the tears start flowing. Even steely-eyed Eastwood can't keep the tears back, and if you see the Man with No Name getting weepy, you know it's too much emotion for the rest of us to handle.

And Treadwell is gone

Was Timothy Treadwell a conservationist samurai or a madman who didn't respect the power of nature? Was he a kind warrior, a crazy man, or a bit of both? Whatever you think, we can all agree on two things. First, he was deeply passionate about protecting bears. Secondly, he captured some incredible images of some majestic animals. And after Treadwell's tragic death at the jaws of a brown bear, director Werner Herzog assembled Treadwell's footage and created one of the most moving documentaries of all time.

Grizzly Man follows Treadwell as he journeys into the Alaskan wilderness, interacts with animals, and shares his unique worldview about man's place in nature (one that directly contradicts Herzog's own opinions). As a man, Treadwell seems both troubled and beautiful, and while there's a lot about his behavior we could call questionable, it's hard not to admire his passion. With the help of Herzog's guiding hand, we really grow attached to Treadwell as Grizzly Man heads for its inevitable ending.

We all know Treadwell was killed by a bear. That's not a third-act plot twist. But it's upsetting to finally say goodbye to such a unique soul. There aren't a lot of people like Timothy Treadwell — free-spirited outlaws still living that wild life — and in the film's final moments, we watch for the last time as the titular Grizzly Man wanders into the woods, accompanied by two fuzzy friends and a mournful country song that feels like it was written for Treadwell himself.

He was my brother

If you only saw the last three minutes of End of Watch, you might think this cop drama was ending on a happy note. The final scene features two buddies sharing a crazy story, laughing their heads off, and having a pretty good day. But context is everything. In actuality, the camaraderie between Officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) is incredibly bittersweet because this is a flashback scene, one that jumps back to a moment before Zavala was gunned down by gangsters.

Taylor and Zavala are super cops. Sure, they're just patrol officers, but they're really good at their jobs, from building trust with the community to saving kids from a burning building. In fact, they're such good cops that they try to take down the Sinaloa Cartel...only that doesn't pan out too well. After disrupting the cartel's business, the officers are ambushed by heavily armed thugs, and despite their bravery, Taylor is gravely injured, and Zavala is murdered.

After learning about his partner's death, Taylor is absolutely shattered. Zavala was his best friend in the world, and at the funeral, Taylor is so grief-stricken that he can only muster four powerful words: "He was my brother." Gyllenhaal absolutely sells the pain and the agony, and when the movie cuts from the funeral to the flashback, it's makes those final "happy" moments all the more heartbreaking.

The faint glimmers of civilization disappear

Wes Anderson ostensibly directs comedies, but while his films are full of jokes, there's always a deep sense of melancholy underlying them. That's especially true for The Grand Budapest Hotel. A story nestled inside multiple timelines, the bulk of this beautiful tale is set during the 1930s, in the fictional European country of Zubrowka. That's where we meet our hero, Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori and F. Murray Abraham), who works as a lobby boy at the titular hotel under the guidance of flamboyant concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes).

The plot involves a dead heiress, a missing painting, and a family of greedy goons, but as film critic Amy Nicholson writes, the real "emotional drama" revolves around "Gustave's struggle to keep order while chaos — personal and geopolitical — encroaches on his manicured fiefdom." See, in the 1930s, the Grand Budapest is an impossibly charming world of pastel colors and "marvelous grace." But there's a dark shadow hanging over Wes Anderson's dreamworld. As the film goes on, both Zubrowka and the Grand Budapest are overrun by enemy forces — quasi-Nazis followed by quasi-Soviets. As the totalitarian horrors of the 20th century creep in, M. Gustave's civilized world starts to fade away.

As the story jumps from timeline to timeline, we see the hotel decay and its colors fade. The guests stop coming, and eventually, the place is torn down. M. Gustave is killed during the war, communism washes over Zubrowka, and Zero is left alone with nothing but his memories of better days. The film finally ends with a nostalgic author (Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson) remembering the quaint world that existed before the war. Talking about both the hotel and the cherished past, the wistful author says over the closing frame, "It was an enchanting old ruin, but I never managed to see it again."

The angels, they forgot her

On its cold, gray surface, The Blackcoat's Daughter is a movie about a girl who's demonically possessed. But under the slow-building dread and eerie music, there's a tragic story about a helpless kid who's deathly afraid of being alone. Played by the wonderful Kiernan Shipka, Kat is a boarding school student with some serious abandonment issues. When her parents are late to pick her up for the semester break, Kat slowly but surely begins to freak out. And it doesn't help matters any when she has an unsettling dream about her parents' untimely fate.

Terrified her parents are dead and that she'll be all alone in the world, Kat literally makes a deal with the devil, allowing herself to be possessed in exchange for a little company. The evil spirit even tries to convince Kat to behead three people, and she's so afraid of being abandoned that she follows the demon's commands.

Eventually, a priest exorcises Kat; she's so scared of being alone that she begs the demon to stay, but her pleas are no match for holy water, and that's why years later, an older Kat (Emma Roberts) murders two new victims and takes their decapitated heads back to the school. She's hoping her sacrifice will summon the demon back, but when she realizes the evil spirit has left the school behind, the movie ends with Kat sobbing and screaming into the wintry void. She realizes now that she's truly by herself. Nobody will ever come to pick her up, and even the devil himself has abandoned her. When Satan leaves you behind, that's pretty darn depressing, even by horror movie standards.

Dancing and dreaming about what could've been

Nobody will ever forget what happened at the 89th Academy Awards. For a few brief minutes, it seemed like La La Land had won the Oscar for Best Picture, but sadly for the cast and crew, that wasn't meant to be. The fantasy quickly faded away, and the filmmakers had to face reality with bittersweet acceptance. 

In other words, what happened in real life is a whole lot like what happens in the movie.

Directed by Damien Chazelle, La La Land follows two star-crossed lovers: aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) and jazz devotee Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Like any relationship, theirs faces its fair share of ups and downs, happiness and heartache. But despite their love for each other, the two eventually go their separate ways to chase their separate dreams. Five years later, they accidentally bump into each other, and that's when you've got to reach for your box of tissues.

By this point, Mia is a movie star, and Sebastian runs a thriving nightclub. But when the two lock eyes across the room, we're treated to an elaborate dream sequence. It's the kind of ending we expect to see — the guy and girl end up with one another and live happily ever after — but the dream soon comes to an end, with Mia and Sebastian going their separate ways again. It's a bittersweet reminder that life forces us to make sacrifices, and no matter what you choose, you're always going to feel a pang of regret.

No more guns in the valley

Before Tony Stark made his Iron Man suit, before Christian Bale donned the Bat-cowl, and before Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, or Tobey Maguire spun their first web, there was Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine. With his gruff exterior, adamantium skeleton, and heart of gold, he slashed his way into theaters — and our hearts — in 2000, and appeared (in one form or another) in every single X-Men movie up until his blood-soaked swan song, 2017's Logan.

Set in the near-distant future, the movie follows a dying Wolverine as he uses the last of his strength to protect Laura (Dafne Keen), a young mutant girl who happens to be his clone/daughter. There's a shady scientist who want her for nefarious purposes, so when his goons show up to take her captive, Wolverine makes his final stand in the woods, chopping up fools left and right.

But after confronting another clone — one that's younger, stronger, and faster — Logan succumbs to his wounds. Thankfully, after a brutal life full of hard decisions, Logan gets to experience a moment of fatherly love before shuffling off this mortal coil. In the film's final scene, a tearful Laura gives Logan the eulogy he deserves, quoting Alan Ladd's final monologue from the similarly depressing Shane. After ending her speech, Laura tips the cross on his grave over on its side, marking the Wolverine's final resting place with an "X."

While the DCEU and the MCU have made plenty of amazing movies, Logan was the first superhero film to truly make audiences weep for such an iconic character. If that final graveyard sequence didn't make you a little misty-eyed, chances are pretty good that you're a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants.

Running away to Disney World

It's always hard watching a child cry, especially when that child is a phenomenal actress like Brooklynn Prince. Fortunately, for most of The Florida Project, Prince is happy and carefree as Moonee, a rambunctious six-year-old who spends her time wandering around her Florida hotel, pulling pranks with her friends and playfully harassing unsuspecting tourists. Moonee is totally oblivious to the fact she's dirt poor, and when her mom (Bria Vinaite) turns to prostitution to pay the bills, Moonee has no clue what's going on.

When the authorities learn about her mom's poor parenting choices, they show up to take Moonee away from the only life she's ever known. That's when the funny stunts and charming adventures come to a screeching halt. Realizing she's about to be taken away, Moonee absolutely breaks down; with tears streaming down her face, she takes the hand of her best friend (Valeria Cotto), and the two make a desperate run for Disney World.

The whole scene might be a fantasy in Moonee's mind — or maybe she really is heading for Cinderella Castle. Either way, Moonee hopes to escape the coming horrors by losing herself in the magical world of Walt Disney. It's a place for dreams, after all, a shelter from the harsh realities of life. But no matter how fast she runs, Moonee can't escape what's coming, and her magical childhood is coming to an end.

Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good

Since Thanos' first MCU appearance in 2012, Marvel fans couldn't wait for the big purple baddie to throw down with the Avengers. Six years later, Thanos finally arrived with his Infinity Gauntlet, and Earth's mightiest heroes were completely overmatched. It looked like Thor was going to save the day when he slammed Stormbreaker into the Mad Titan's chest, but as the God of Thunder quickly learned, when you want to kill somebody, you better aim for the head.

And just like that, with a snap of his fingers, Thanos wiped out half the population of the universe, including the majority of our beloved heroes. Black Panther went up in smoke. Doctor Strange turned to dust. Peter Quill disintegrated into nothing. And then there's poor Teenage Groot. Before the beloved tree vanished from the Earth, he managed to whisper one last "I am Groot" to Rocket Raccoon — and according to Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, it translated into one heartbreaking word: "Dad."

Peter Parker's death was even more painful to watch. After muttering the now-infamous line "Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good," Spider-Man collapsed to the ground, begging Iron Man for help. Even though he just fought the toughest villain in the MCU, Peter's still just a kid, afraid of fading away. Avengers 4 will undo a lot of the damage, but when a horrified Captain America — the team's strongest and most optimistic member — can only whisper "Oh, God," you know things are bad.

Really, Infinity War might have the darkest ending of any major blockbuster ever. There's no moral victory here; there's no feel-good speech. For the first time ever, the Avengers have truly lost, and it all ends with Thanos admiring his handiwork, smiling as the sun rises on a "grateful universe."

No happy endings for anyone

Atonement is one of the trickiest movies ever made. Just when you think you're going to get a happy ending, it rips your heart in half. Based on the novel by Ian McEwan, this period piece starts in 1930s England, when 13-year-old Briony Tallis (Saoirse Ronan) starts picking up on the sexual tension between her upperclass sister, Cecilia (Keira Knightley), and their housekeeper's son, Robbie (James McAvoy). After a series of misunderstandings, a jealous Briony tells a lie that sends Robbie to jail, destroying any chance he has of a life with Cecilia.

Eventually, World War II breaks out, allowing Robbie to exchange his prison sentence for military service. Cecilia also signs up as a nurse, and after narrowly avoiding death, the two young lovers finally reunite. It seems that all is well and love has triumphed, until the gut-wrenching twist in the last act. As it turns out, Briony (now played by Vanessa Redgrave) has grown up to become a novelist, and that happily-ever-after ending between Robbie and Cecilia is a scene from her book. In real life, Robbie died at the Battle of Dunkirk, and Cecilia was killed as the Nazis bombed London. On top of all that, an elderly Briony is miserable because she destroyed all of their lives — not to mention our hopes that Atonement would leave us smiling instead of sobbing.

I had a date

Despite their god-like superpowers, the Avengers are a sad bunch of people. Bruce Banner keeps turning into a hulking rage monster, Black Widow is haunted by a dark past, and Thor's family life is a gigantic mess. But perhaps the saddest Avenger is Steve Rogers, a man out of time. In Captain America: The First Avenger, the star-spangled superhero decides to give his life for the good of mankind by crashing a Hydra plane into the Arctic ice. In those final moments before taking the plunge, Cap promises to take his new love, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), dancing as soon as he returns. Obviously, neither expect Steve to make it back home, but after crashing the plane, Cap is preserved by the extreme cold and wakes up 70 years later.

When Cap finally comes to, he finds himself in a 1940s-style hospital, but something isn't quite right. That baseball game playing on the radio? That's not a live broadcast. In fact, he actually attended that very game. Suspecting some sort of plot, Cap bursts out of his fake hospital room... and stumbles into a modern-day Times Square, filled with giant TV screens and strange technology. That's when Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up, apologizes for the sham, and explains that Steve has been asleep for nearly seven decades. It's a gut punch of a moment, and the look of shock and sadness on Cap's face is heartbreaking. Yeah, he survived the suicide mission, but the world he knew is gone. Most importantly, the woman he loves has grown old. When Fury finally asks if Cap is going to be okay, all his pain is summed up in one sentence: "Yeah, I just — I had a date."

No escape from tragedy

The Planet of the Apes franchise is notorious for its downbeat endings, and the finale for Escape from the Planet of the Apes might be the saddest of the bunch. The third film in the original series, Escape follows a group of chimps who travel back in time from the ape-dominated future and wind up in the 1970s. Naturally, these talking chimps cause quite a stir, and they quickly become superstars. After all, Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius (Roddy McDowall) are an incredibly cute couple. They're witty, intelligent, and friendly. Who wouldn't love them?

Dr. Otto Hasslein, that's who. Played by Eric Braeden, Hasslein is the president's chief science advisor, and when he learns that Zira is pregnant, he worries her baby might give rise to a race of uber-intelligent apes who could overthrow mankind. And after a series of very unfortunate events, Zira and Cornelius are forced to go on the run with their newborn baby. Tragically, Hasslein tracks them down to an abandoned ship, and in the film's hopeless climax, everybody dies. Hasslein fills Zira and the baby full of lead, Cornelius shoots the scientist, and then he's gunned down by the military.

Of course, the film does have a twist up its sleeve. As it turns out, Zira swapped her real baby for a circus chimpanzee, so her actual kid is still alive. And in the movie's final moments, we cut to Zira's baby as he begins crying, "Mama!" Sure, the baby is going to live, but now he's an orphan — one who might bring the end of humanity. But then, maybe human beings deserve it.

Glorious deaths in a historic battle

War movies aren't really known for their upbeat endings, but when it comes to pure tearjerking power, they don't get any more dismal than Glory. This Civil War flick tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, which was the first African-American regiment to fight for the Union army. The regiment was led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, played in the film by Matthew Broderick, and after overcoming a lot of racism, Shaw and the 54th wind up leading the charge in the film's climactic battle.

The 54th's mission is to take a heavily guarded fort, and in their desperate charge across a war-torn beach, the good guys get shot to pieces. Trapped in a ravine and surrounded by Confederates, Shaw charges the enemy, hoping to inspire his men, and he's quickly gunned down. Enraged, Private Silas Trip (an Oscar-winning Denzel Washington) picks up the flag and charges after the colonel, only to be shot down seconds later. But the double whammy of Shaw's and Trip's deaths inspires the rest of the 54th to rush out of the ravine and continue their charge. And for a few seconds, it look like they might be victorious.

With James Horner's rousing soundtrack driving the men forward, the 54th storm down the beach... only to wind up facing a bunch of cannons. Despite their bravery, these guys are no match for cannonballs, and all the characters we've come to love — played by the likes of Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, and Andre Braugher — are blown to oblivion. If that wasn't sad enough, the movie ends with Shaw's and Trip's bodies being buried side by side in a mass grave. As far as endings go, it's equal parts glorious and gloomy.

A detective's regrets

Directed by Ben Affleck, Gone Baby Gone is a movie about kidnapping, pedophilia, and child abuse. In other words, this isn't exactly a feel-good film, and the ending is appropriately downbeat. Based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, this thriller follows two Boston detectives — Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) — who are hired to find a little girl named Amanda. At first, they believe the kid was murdered by a local drug dealer, but as they dig deeper into the case, they discover a surprising conspiracy.

As it turns out, Amanda's junkie mom (Amy Ryan) is negligent to the point of abuse, so she was kidnapped by her concerned uncle with the help of several high-ranking cops. The kid was then sent to live with a kindly police captain (Morgan Freeman) who would give her the life she deserved. But Patrick isn't a big believer in moral ambiguity. He sees the world in black and white, and even though Amanda's mom is awful, he doesn't think anyone has the right to take her daughter away. So after a 911 call, Patrick brings the conspiracy down and has the little girl sent back home.

However, Patrick almost immediately starts to regret his decision when he goes to visit Amanda. He sees that her mom is just as awful as ever and realizes he might've damned Amanda to a life of poverty, neglect, and mistreatment. In the final few moments, he volunteers to babysit Amanda and sits beside her, watching the traumatized, lonely kid as she stares at the television. Maybe making that phone call was legally right, but Patrick will have to live with his "correct" decision forever.

Starless and Bible black

Directed by Panos Cosmatos, Mandy opens with a song by prog rock band King Crimson, a heartbreaking ballad about a depressed man whose soul is "starless and Bible black." It's an appropriate lyric for this particular film, as that's what Nicolas Cage feels like by the end. Cage plays a lumberjack named Red Miller, a man with a troubled past who's found solace in the arms of his lover, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). The two are deeply connected and truly in love, so when she's murdered by a violent cult, Red goes to a pretty dark place. He gets a crossbow, forges an ax, and consumes every substance he can get his hands on.

And that's when he goes hunting for hippies.

Fueled by rage and cocaine, he exacts bloody revenge on the religious nuts who killed Mandy and ruined his life, but even though his quest is just, it doesn't bring him any comfort. At the end of the film, Red has absolutely lost his mind. He's covered in blood, driving away from the church he just burned to the ground, and imagining Mandy sitting beside him. But, of course, she's not really there. The one thing that made his life worth living is gone, and he'll never get that back. The pain has pushed him over the edge, and from here on out, his life will only be starless and Bible black.

Caesar is home

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a movie designed to make you weep. This sci-fi film is one sad scene after another, from a confused John Lithgow losing his mind to Caesar getting tossed into a primate prison. But nothing can top the finale, when Caesar (Andy Serkis) says goodbye to his human friend, Will Rodman (James Franco). Their relationship is the emotional crux of the story. Caesar has known Will his entire life, and the biologist is basically his adoptive dad. In fact, Will is the guy who gave Caesar is above-average intelligence. But after Will is forced to put Caesar in a primate sanctuary, the chimpanzee decides it's time for a revolution.

After sparking a full-blown rebellion, Caesar and his followers escape from the sanctuary and, after a battle on the Golden Gate Bridge, escape into a redwood forest. But before vanishing into the trees, Caesar is confronted by Will who begs the chimp to come back home. That's when Caesar pulls his foster father close and whispers into his ear, "Caesar is home." With those three powerful words, Caesar and Will realize nothing will ever be the same. It's time for the apes to disappear and start their own world, and as an emotional Will watches, Caesar climbs into the treetops, leaving the human world behind.

He was my father

Tom Hanks movies generally leave audiences feeling pretty good, but Road to Perdition is an exception to that cheerful rule. This gangster flick finds Hanks playing Michael Sullivan Sr., a mob enforcer who wants revenge after the murder of his wife and youngest boy. His quest for vengeance is complicated by the fact that he has to make sure his surviving son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), doesn't wind up dead too. That's easier said than done when you're being hunted by a psychopathic hitman.

But after some bloody betrayals and epic gangland violence, it seems like the Sullivans are going to be okay. They've reached an idyllic beach house, and things finally seem peaceful. But Michael's violent past catches up with him when he's ambushed by the assassin. After taking two bullets to the back, Michael lies dying as the psychopathic hitman assembles an old-timey camera and begins taking photos of his bloody victim. However, his sick little hobby is interrupted when Michael Jr. shows up with a gun, but unlike his dad, the boy isn't a killer. He's unable to pull the trigger.

Fortunately, the distraction gives his dad enough time to gun down the hitman before shuffling off this mortal coil. A Tom Hanks death is a rare sight indeed, and that alone would be enough to earn a place among the saddest endings of all time. But what really seals the deal is Michael Jr.'s final lines as he reminisces about his father's complicated legacy: "When people ask me if Michael Sullivan was a good man, or if there was just no good in him at all, I always give the same answer. I just tell them he was my father."

To live as a monster or die as a good man

Directed by Martin Scorsese, Shutter Island is a frightening film noir that finds Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels, a detective who's investigating a disappearance on an Alcatraz-style mental hospital. But as Teddy and his partner, Detective Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), dig deeper into the case, Teddy makes a horrible discovery: he isn't really Teddy. In reality, he's a dude named Andrew Laeddis, a World War II vet who killed his mentally ill wife after she murdered their kids. His partner is actually his psychologist, and the whole investigation is an elaborate role-playing game meant to bring Andrew back to reality. And if the game doesn't work, then poor Andrew has to get lobotomized.

After this shocking twist, it seems like Andrew has finally been cured, but the horror of his past is just too much for him to bear. In the final scene, our hero reverts back to his Teddy persona, forcing his doctors to perform the dreaded lobotomy. But before he's taken away to his mind-numbing fate, Teddy looks over at Chuck and asks a haunting question: "Which would be worse? To live as a monster, or to die as a good man?" It's a simple line, but it conveys so much sadness. The experiment worked. Andrew is completely sane. But he just can't live with the guilt so he lets the orderlies lead him away to his grisly fate, one that's free from pain.

The T-800 says goodbye

Arnold Schwarzenegger movies aren't generally considered tearjerkers, but the ending of Terminator 2: Judgment Day will make the manliest action movie fan sob like a baby. Sent from the future to protect teenage John Connor, the T-800 (Schwarzenegger) starts out this sci-fi flick as an ice cold animatronic. But as he spends time with the future resistance leader (Edward Furlong), the T-800 becomes the teen's best friend and father figure. The robot also becomes increasingly lovable because when he's not doing battle with a shapeshifting android, he's picking up slang words, developing human emotions, and learning you can't just go around killing people.

He also realizes that if humanity is going to survive, then all Terminators need to be destroyed. When it comes to defeating the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), that's easy enough, as this is one Terminator who deserves to die. But the T-800 also realizes that if he doesn't destroy the advanced AI inside his own head, that tech will eventually give rise to the robot rebellion that will doom mankind. So despite John's pleas for him to stay, the T-800 slowly lowers himself into a pit of molten steel. He gives a thumbs up before disintegrating completely, letting John know everything is going to be okay. Despite that reassurance, poor John is in tears, and so is everybody watching the saddest ending in Schwarzenegger's career.

Heroic deaths on a horrific day

If you know anything about 9/11, then you know United 93 isn't going to end well. Directed by Paul Greengrass, this disaster film follows the passengers of the ill-fated United Airlines Flight 93 as they fight back against the terrorists who've hijacked the plane. Even though the film is shot with documentary-style realism, that doesn't detract at all from the huge emotional stakes. We watch as the passengers mentally prep themselves for the revolt, knowing full well they might die if they don't reach the cockpit in time. We see them storm down the aisles, screaming in anger and fear as they face the hijackers. And when they break into the cockpit, we watch through our fingers as they come so frustratingly close to stopping the plane from crashing into that Pennsylvania field. But despite their courageous, desperate efforts, the plane gets closer and closer to the ground, and suddenly, the film just cuts to black. Even though we all know it's coming, the ending of United 93 never fails to leave audiences absolutely devastated.

One last Ram Jam

With movies like mother! and Requiem for a Dream in his filmography, it's safe to say that Darren Aronofsky loves a truly depressing ending. But of all the films he's ever directed, none have caused as much sobbing as The Wrestler. This gritty and grim drama follows the story of Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a professional wrestler who's seen better days. This dude has a lived a hard life and made some bad decisions, and now he's all alone. His daughter doesn't want anything to do with him, his romantic life isn't working out, and the world outside the ring is nothing but pain and misery.

Lonely and depressed, Randy gets back into the wrestling game, where at least the fans respect and adore him. But stepping back into the ring comes at a high price. Randy has a bad heart and knows that another match might be his last. However, when he hears the cheers of the crowd, the wrestler climbs up on the turnbuckle to perform his signature move...even as his heart starts to fail him. When he leaps down onto his opponent, we know it's the last time he'll ever do the legendary "Ram Jam." He'll never get off the mat again. But it's all worth for it Randy, because he's living and dying for the only family he's ever known, the fans, and that might be the most heartbreaking part of the story.