Movies can affect us on a profound emotional level. Some romantic movies inspire that loving feeling and can warm even the most jaded heart. By the same token, some movie deaths can scar us for life. Famous movie deaths of characters like Dumbledore, Bambi’s mother, and, well, every Disney parent, actually, can leave a lasting emotional impact. Plus, there’s all the crying.
When you combine romance with gut-wrenching tragedy, you get an emotional rollercoaster that can leave you wanting to throw a wine bottle at your screen. Keep your tissues at the ready, because these are some of the saddest romantic movies that end in death.
My Girl, on paper, may not seem like a romance, but when you think about it, it’s a first love story. A young girl named Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) with no mother and serious daddy issues falls for an unavailable man. Granted, it’s just a crush on her teacher, Mr. Bixler (Griffin Dunne). Meanwhile, she ignores her best friend Thomas J. Sennett (Macaulay Culkin), who is madly in love with her.
If everyone in this movie were older, this would sound like a romantic comedy. Yes, Vada is only 11, but this movie captures the pain of first love and first heartache - and a ton of loss.
Thomas J. gets an extremely sad death. The kid goes to get her mood ring and is swarmed by bees. Try to watch this scene and not cry. While it ends on a bit of a high note, with Vada learning to be happy, it’s not a movie that sells you on love. Here’s a girl who lives in a mortuary, has lost her mother, and now loses her best friend. Plus, the two barely get to learn about their feelings for each other. It's just a sad loss for love.
Directed by: Howard Zieff
Cherubic Mandy Moore plays Jamie Sullivan, the local preacher’s daughter, who falls for bad boy Landon Carter (Shane West). Various high school hijinks bring the two together, leading to friendship and a budding relationship. Landon is inspired to turn over a new leaf as Jamie gets the standard plain-turned-pretty makeover. But then Landon learns she has leukemia.
Jamie’s passing is so gut-wrenching because the movie makes us fall in love with this gentle, sweet outcast. She gives major Snow White energy, being sweet and kind and bullied for no reason. She finally gets the guy after he’s tried to keep her a secret and taken her for granted, but as he finally sees how amazing she is, the other shoe drops.
The couple even get married and have a sweet, albeit short, pre-death marriage. And, in the end, it's pretty clear that Landon will always love Jamie - even well into his adult life.
Directed by: Adam Shankman
Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort play lovable and surprisingly emotionally mature young people dealing with the ravages of cancer.
Hazel (Woodley) has terminal thyroid cancer. It’s spread to her lungs and she’s justifiably depressed about it. But at a support group, she meets Gus (Elgort), a charming, seemingly cancer-free boy whose disease has given him a lust for life.
This movie, based on the book by John Green, is such a bait-and-switch. You spend the whole movie emotionally preparing yourself for Hazel’s death. You desperately want her to enjoy her time with Gus. But then, it’s actually Gus who dies because his cancer comes back. This movie really brings the tears because it gives you hope and plucks it away. Their whole relationship is centered in his joie de vivre. This one can definitely hit home for anyone who has ever lost a family member to cancer.
Directed by: Josh Boone
Titanic is one of the biggest cinematic love stories, and features one of the saddest deaths in film history. Set against the backdrop of the most infamous shipwreck in history, two young people fall in love. Rose (Kate Winslet) is engaged but miserable. She considers taking her life but is saved by Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), a scamp who conned his way onto the ship, and the two form an unlikely but passionate relationship.
What makes Jack's demise so sad is that it feels like it could have been avoided. Brad Pitt even took a second of his 2020 Golden Globe acceptance speech to say, “I would have shared the raft” with his Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood co-star. It seems unnecessary for Jack to perish, especially when Rose has the social clout to survive without him. It’s just one of those cruel moments of movie fate.
Directed by: James Cameron