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14 Teen Movies That Definitely Made You Cry

February 12, 2020 1.6k votes 359 voters 9.9k views14 items

List RulesVote up the teen movies that brought the waterworks.

If you think sad teen romance movies skew too young to truly affect you, you're just plain wrong. Just like the heartbreaking moments in every lovable Disney movie, teen films know how to lay on the emotional content. In fact, they can be more overtly sad than some of their adult counterparts. 

By focusing on a younger audience but addressing very real issues, teen movies have the ability to hit you right where it hurts. You don't have to pretend that you just spent an hour cutting onions. It's okay to admit that the cheesy teen rom-com made you cry.

From sweet coming-of-age stories to dramatic tales of loved ones lost to illness, adults and children will find themselves reaching for the nearest box of tissues when they pop one of these films on. Take a look at these teen movies that will definitely make you cry, and vote up the titles that are real tearjerkers

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  • The Story: When Charlie (Logan Lerman) starts high school, he quickly realizes that he doesn't quite fit in. Just before his freshman year began, Charlie was discharged from a mental health care institution following a particularly bad spell that resulted from his lifelong struggle with clinical depression. While still trying to recover and get his health back on track, Charlie bonds with two seniors, Sam (Emma Watson) and her stepbrother Patrick (Ezra Miller). The rest of the story follows the many ups and downs of Charlie and his friends, all of whom are dealing with their own unique issues as they try to find their place in the world. 

    The Defining Moment: During the movie, Charlie's mental health continues to deteriorate until he eventually recalls some traumatic repressed memories involving his Aunt Helen. 

    Why It's Sad: This movie perfectly captures the difficulty of surviving in the world when you're just a bit different. From struggles with sexuality to mental health issues to normal teen jealousy, this film touches on various emotional aspects that come with being a young adult. Each issue is depicted in a painfully raw and real fashion, which makes the entire movie a bit of an emotional experience. 

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  • The Story: Mia Hall (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young cello prodigy, seemingly has the perfect life. During a snow day, Mia takes a trip with her family to visit her grandparents, but their car is struck by an oncoming truck. Instead of moving on to the afterlife, Mia has an out-of-body experience where she can see herself and her family being transported to the hospital. While Mia is initially confused, she realizes that she'll have to decide whether to allow herself to move on or to return to her body and continue living her life. 

    The Defining Moment: While Mia watches her body undergoing surgery, she learns that her mom, dad, and little brother did not survive. After that heartbreaking revelation, Mia's grandfather also lets her know, by speaking to her unmoving body, that it's okay if she wants to move on. Without a family to return to, Mia decides that it's best to leave and be reunited with her loved ones on the other side. 

    Why It's Sad: While Mia ultimately changes her mind and decides to stay, the entire movie is an emotional roller coaster. The possibility of returning without the people she loves breaks Mia, and it's clear that a large part of her wants to be with her loved ones. The simple fact that she can make the decision for herself presents all kinds of emotional issues. It's hard to know what the right choice might be. Honestly, the entire movie will have you reaching for the closest box of tissues. 

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  • The Story: Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is a young Black girl who lives in a primarily Black neighborhood, but she attends a predominantly white private school. While driving home with a childhood friend following a party, a police officer pulls the car over for failing to signal a lane change. Starr's friend, Khalil (Algee Smith), disagrees with the officer and is ordered to exit the vehicle. When Khalil reaches inside the driver's side window to pick up a hairbrush, the officer takes his life. The rest of the movie follows the fight for justice for Khalil. 

    The Defining Moment: As the only witness to the crime, Starr is wrapped up in the entire process, thereby earning the ire of a local crew, the King Lords. Towards the end of the film, the leader goes after Starr, and Starr's younger brother picks up a gun and points it at him. It's a poignant representation of the cycle of violence and the fact that it has to stop somewhere or else it will continue to be passed down from generation to generation. 

    Why It's Sad: By addressing the issue of police violence against people of color, this movie already strikes an emotional chord. Although the issue is clear-cut, the movie perfectly mimics what often happens in real-life situations, where outsiders try to justify a senseless act. The movie expertly presents differing opinions while still maintaining a clear line between what's right and what's wrong. Most importantly, watching an entire community grieve the loss of an innocent individual is difficult, particularly because it's not far removed from what's happening on a day-to-day basis. 

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  • The Story: When rebellious teen Ronnie (Miley Cyrus) is forced to spend the summer with her estranged father, Steve Miller (Greg Kinnear), she makes up her mind that she's going to have a bad time. However, she ends up falling for the handsome and popular Will Blakelee (Liam Hemsworth). Their relationship encourages Ronnie to pick up piano again, a skill she stopped pursuing the day her dad left. Although the pair have a few ups and downs, their relationship is fairly strong. At the same time, Ronnie begins to open herself up to fixing the poor relationship with her father. 

    The Defining Moment: As Ronnie and her father grow closer once again, he reveals that he's terminally ill with cancer. Wanting to make up for the time she lost, Ronnie chooses to take care of him, which also involves finishing a song he was composing. She later plays the song at his funeral, letting everyone know that she has decided to pursue piano once again in honor of her dad.

    Why It's Sad: Although Ronnie harbors lots of anger towards her father, he continues to be patient, kind, and loving towards her. Their relationship slowly comes back together, only for Ronnie to realize that she's about to lose it forever. The sadness she feels when he finally passes is palpable, but it's tinged with a bit of hope since she was able to show just how much she really loved him before he was gone forever. 

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