Top 10 Saddest Scenes in Teen Movies

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Top 10 Saddest Scenes in Teen Movies

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Trevor J Fonvergne
We're not crying, you're crying! Welcome to MsMojo, and today we'll be counting down our picks for the top 10 saddest moments in teen movies.

For this list, we're looking at the most tear jerking scenes rom movies that revolve around teenage characters. Since a lot of these scenes happen in later parts of the movie, there will be spoilers ahead.
Transcript
We’re not crying, you’re crying! Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 saddest moments in teen movies.

For this list, we’re looking at the most tear jerking scenes rom movies that revolve around teenage characters. Since a lot of these scenes happen in later parts of the movie, there will be spoilers ahead.

#10: She Just Didn’t Love Us Back
“Pretty in Pink” (1986)


This classic John Hughes comedy follows Andie as she struggles with her frustrations about her lower-class upbringing. Much of this tension manifests in her relationship with her father, which comes to a head in this explosive scene. Molly Ringwald exemplifies why she was the queen of teen films in the ‘80s as Andie’s anger is released full force. The scene turns from anger to sadness however as she forces her father to reconcile with the fact that her mother is simply gone. There’s a compassionate honesty to the scene that makes it both compelling and poignant.

#9: Arnie Tries to Wake His Mom
“What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” (1993)


Leonardo DiCaprio received his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Arnie Grape, and scenes like this show the pathos he injected into the performance. When he tries to awaken his sickly mother, she remains unconscious, and it becomes clear to the audience that she’s dead. Arnie, however, as a developmentally delayed child, takes a bit longer to figure it out. There are no special filmmaking tricks here; all of the emotion arises from the compassionate performance of a child coming to terms with a parent’s mortality. It’s understated and simple storytelling like this that makes the film one we remember decades later.

#8: Kayla Signs Off
“Eighth Grade” (2018)


Few films embrace the realism of how hard it is to be a young teenager like Bo Burnham’s debut feature. Kayla is a graduating eighth grader who has a habit of posting admittedly awkward advice videos on the Internet. However, after an unfortunate encounter with an older boy, she falls into a deep depression. She records a new video, but instead of the bright, enthusiastic Kayla, we get a despondent girl who opens up about her struggles with anxiety. The natural dialogue and Elsie Fisher’s subtle performance will break your heart and put you right inside the poor girl’s head. Fortunately for us, she does bounce back later - and everything turns out pretty Gucci.

#7: The Airport
“Lady Bird” (2017)


The complicated dynamic between Lady Bird and her mother Marion comes to a head when Marion discovers that her daughter is going to New York for college. A resentful Marion decides not to walk her to her gate at the airport, but instantly regrets it. Her pain is palpable, thanks to Laurie Metcalf’s superb performance, and you can’t help but feel for both mother and daughter. It exemplifies the walls that these two characters have put up, but also the tenderness for each other that hides behind those walls. Thankfully, though, it also sets up one of the most beautiful film endings in recent memory.

#6: Khalil Gets Pulled Over
“The Hate U Give” (2018)


One of the decade’s most underrated coming of age films, “The Hate U Give” deals with more intense subject matter than most. At the end of the first act, the protagonist, Starr, is driving with her lifelong friend, Khalil, and the two are pulled over. The scene becomes tense as Starr tries to convince him to take the cop seriously, and ends in tragedy as a misunderstanding results in Khalil’s death. Starr is forced to watch, horrified, as he dies slowly on the road. The pacing, directing and acting in this scene is exquisite, and it’s not easy to watch, but it proves that this is a film that has something to say.

#5: Landon Gets into Medical School
“A Walk to Remember” (2002)


What would this list be without at least one Nicholas Sparks adaptation? After a short, wistful relationship, Jamie and Landon get married for a brief period before Jamie passes away from leukemia. In the film’s epilogue several years later, Landon meets with Jamie’s father and reveals that he’s been accepted into medical school. It’s a touching moment as the two reflect on the love he shared with Jamie, and it illustrates how far he’s come from the delinquent he once was. The scene may feel a little dated all these years later, but there’s no doubt that it can still bring a tear to your eye.

#4: The Fireplace
“Call Me by Your Name” (2017)


After a passionate whirlwind romance, Elio is forced to say goodbye to Oliver, who has to return to the US. Several months later, Oliver calls the family with the news that he’s getting married, which naturally crushes Elio. In a scene that’s since become the movie’s most iconic image, he stares into the fire and sobs. Timothée Chalamet brilliantly portrays the scene’s quiet but powerful emotion, ending the film on a beautifully understated note. It’s a scene that speaks to the central idea of the movie; of embracing feelings rather than turning away from them, as Elio is able to find beauty in his sadness.

#3: Okay, Hazel Grace?
“The Fault in Our Stars” (2014)


We all knew that a movie about two lovebirds with cancer wasn’t really going to be particularly happy. Still, it packs a major emotional punch when Gus passes away. As the movie reaches its emotional conclusion, Hazel reads the eulogy Gus never got to give for her. Ansel Elgort’s heartfelt voiceover works in tandem with Shailene Woodley’s performance to make Hazel’s grief and love searingly palpable. Rather than allowing the film to have a downer ending, the scene comes off as a love letter to the tragic coupling that’s somehow uplifting even through the tears.

#2 Charlie’s Breakdown
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012)


After a tumultuous freshman year of high school, Charlie must say goodbye to his best friends Patrick and Sam as they leave for college. His already declining mental state comes to a low point as he’s beset by bizarre memories of his late aunt. It becomes clear that he suffered abuse at her hands, and blames himself for her death. This moment finally gives us some insight into Charlie’s complicated mind and there’s no way not to feel for the sweet boy. His mental illness isn’t something that’s entirely resolved by the film’s end, but he’s surrounded by people who love him, leaving us on a note of hope.

Before we reveal our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Charlie’s Goodbye
“Charlie St. Cloud” (2010)

I’m a Planet!
“Juno” (2007)

Sutter Rejects Aimee
“The Spectacular Now” (2013)

Maria Loses Tony
“West Side Story” (1961)

O, Happy Dagger!
“Romeo + Juliet” (1996)

#1: Why Brian Is in Detention
“The Breakfast Club” (1985)


It’s fitting that our list both begins and ends with moments from John Hughes films, as he was among the first and most noteworthy filmmakers to take teenage problems seriously. The film reaches its emotional climax when Brian reveals he’s in detention because he had a flare gun in his locker. He planned on using it to take his own life because of academic pressure from his parents. In this moment, each of the characters stop being the stereotypes they initially saw each other as, and they become five friends who sincerely care about one another. It brings the movie’s themes front and center with impeccable dialogue and earnest performances, making this a movie that sticks with us to this day.
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What's the name of the background music used in this top 10 video? It's a beautiful piano piece but I cannot find the name of it.
What's the name of the background music used in this top 10 video? It's a beautiful piano piece but I cannot find the name of it.