The Saddest Documentaries Of All Time

List Rules
Vote up the saddest documentaries.

What is the saddest documentary of all time? The saddest documentary films offer strong narrative arcs, memorable characters, and emotional payoffs that stick with you long after they're done. Sad docs focus on a variety of subjects and share somber stories. Some sad docus are about war, human rights, or lost loved ones, while others just cover the blunt reality of every day life. So, what are the saddest documentaries of all time? What sad documentaries should do you love?

When it comes to the saddest documentary movies ever, Blackfish is up there with any of them. The film documents the life of Tilikum, a killer whale kept in captivity at SeaWorld to be exploited for human amusement. Then there's sad doc films like The Cove, The Act Of Killing, and Boy Interrupted which are some of the saddest movies of all time. A lot of these sad documentary films will make you cry hard, such as The Most Beautiful Boy in the World, Amy, and Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father.

Vote up the saddest documentary films of all time, and be sure to check back for new sad docs as they are added to the list upon release.

Ranked by
  • How to Die in Oregon

    How to Die in Oregon

    Cody Curtis, Peter Richardson
    32 votes
    • Released: 2011
    • Directed by: Peter D. Richardson
    This documentary explores real life responses to Oregon's "Death with Dignity Act," the first law in the U.S. to allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to the terminally ill. A ...more
  • The Most Beautiful Boy in the World
    Björn Andrésen, Riyoko Ikeda, Hajime Sawatari
    35 votes
    • Released: 2021
    • Directed by: Kristina Lindström, Kristian Petri
    Filmmakers Kristina Lindström and Kristian Petri examine the life of actor Björn Andresen, once called the world's most beautiful boy by director Luchino Visconti.
  • Bulgaria's Abandoned Children

    Bulgaria's Abandoned Children

    Mogilino children
    29 votes
    • Released: 2007
    • Directed by: Kate Blewett

    Mogilino is a village in Ruse Province, northern Bulgaria. It became well known internationally after several reports about the institution for children with physical and mental disabilities.

  • Blackfish
    Tilikum, Dave Duffus, Samantha Berg
    33 votes
    • Released: 2013
    • Directed by: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
    The story of Tilikum, a captive killer whale that has taken the lives of several people, underscores problems within the sea-park industry, man's relationship to nature, and how little has been ...more
  • The Act Of Killing
    Anwar Congo, Adi Zulkadry, Herman Koto
    30 votes
    • Released: 2012
    • Directed by: Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn
    The Act of Killing is a 2012 Indonesian documentary film directed by Joshua Oppenheimer. The filmmakers challenge former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever ...more
  • Amy
    Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson, Tony Bennett
    27 votes
    • Released: 2015
    • Directed by: Asif Kapadia
    Amy is a 2015 British documentary film about the life and death of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse. Directed by Asif Kapadia, it covers Winehouse's life and her struggle with substance abuse, ...more