There are plenty of deaths that should NOT have happened, but did. (see: Pay It Forward, Time Traveler’s Wife, Country Strong, X-Men: The Last Stand). It was also too soon for someone on Once Upon a Time. We will always mourn a hottie. There are also deaths that SHOULD have happened, but didn't. (I Don’t Know How She Does It) There are deaths that almost happened that we are so glad didn’t. (Shadow on Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. If he had died, that would have effectively ended our childhoods.) In this series, we will remember entertainment deaths that stayed with us. In this first entry, we will list the deaths that made us cry.
Spoilers included for Harry Potter, The Big C, Scrubs, and a bunch of books and movies. We really try to hide them so that if you are skimming for things you’ve seen, you probably won’t be spoiled just by that. Still, tread carefully.
The fact that this guy is being drawn and quartered is rough to watch, but he goes out with an attitude all dying people would envy. The death scene is powerful and a real tearjerker.
The Lion King and The Land Before Time
Damn wildebeests! That is a death that still makes us tear up 18 years later. The early death of the main character’s daddy shocked kids all over the nation and instantly made the whole audience root for Scar’s death. Littlefoot lost his mom. YOU KNOW that was sad. We haven’t seen that movie since we were kids, and we still remember how sad it was. That’s how sad it was!
Meet Joe Black: Don’t They Go By In a Blink?
This movie is a tearjerker due to the death of the main character. You know it’s coming, obviously, but what makes it touching was the man’s opportunity to settle all his affairs, say goodbye, and reflect on his life. We were touched by his strong relationship with his youngest daughter, his courage, and his business integrity. But what really got us crying was his birthday speech where he wishes all his friends a good life like the one he had.
Valkyrie and Sophie Scholl The Final Days
It’s rough to watch movies set in Holocaust days when you know the main characters are going to fail in their pursuits and die trying, but we watch them anyway. Still, it’s inspirational and emotional to remember that even in the darkest places or times, there are still people who won’t compromise, stand down, go with the crowd, or ignore suffering. Sophie Scholl’s death in particular made us sob. That was a well-made movie.
The Big C: The end of season two
The Big C became less depressing in its second season and really brought the humor, making it less black and easier to watch than its first season. We were so worried about Cathy’s health that we had no idea someone else on the show was at risk. The way Cathy and viewers found out at the end of Cathy’s race was perfect, shocking, and definitely touching. We didn’t care for that character too much, but his death and the way the news broke were perfect enough to make it a good, emotional death.
Scrubs: Pretty much every time they killed a patient
This show could go from goofy and funny to emotional at the drop of a hat without feeling awkward, losing its overall tone, or feeling false. One moment that really sticks out is when Dr. Cox accidentally gives his patients the poisoned livers and throws a fit after the last one dies, all to the tune of How to Save a Life by The Fray. Another touching one was old lady who died in season one and taught J.D. not to fear death and to smell the roses. We spent mere minutes with the Scrubs patients, but the show knew how to make them count.
Meerkat Manor: Darn flipping snakes!
Meerkat Manor follows an actual family of meerkats, which is a lot more interesting than it sounds. We were pretty sad when the fearless female leader got bit by a snake and died. It was real life, you guys! She really did die. Ern cried like a bitch.
Les Miserables: Jumping in the Seine
This story shows two characters responding to grace. One submits to it, accepts forgiveness, and watches his life and heart get transformed. The other has too big of a pride problem. When his black-and-white world is ripped to shreds and he is no longer the most righteous person around, his identity is shattered and he no longer wants to live. Grace destroys him. Readers of the story and viewers of the musical were relieved when the main character’s problems evaporated after the cop’s suicide. The song he sings in the musical before he jumps is pretty great. This scene inspires pity, so it is sad, but we didn't cry. It's included here because it's inspirational/meaningful. It shows the impact of mercy, one way or another.
The Book Thief
This book killed a ton of people and then took you inside the head of the girl who loved them. Rudy’s death was sad and poetic, but the one that made us cry was the death of the main character’s adoptive father. When she found his body, we just lost it.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: The Forest Again
These books were a bloodbath, but the scene that left us crying the hardest and respecting the character the most was the part where Harry walks, willingly, to his death. We heard Harry's thoughts on what a miracle his living body was, we saw his dead loved ones come back to comfort him before the end, and we were reminded of other, real-life sacrificial deaths.
Honorable mentions: Deaths in The Hunger Games trilogy, The Lives of Others, Six Feet Under (the finale), The Green Mile, and Hamlet (he WOULD HAVE made a good king).
Did we miss the death that made you cry? Let us know.