50 most heartbreaking movie moments

31. Shane (1953)

The Moment: Wounded in a gunfight after protecting the Starrett family, Shane (Alan Ladd) rides away to an uncertain future.

Get Your Tissues Ready: The Starrett boy Joey (Brandon De Wilde) tries in vain to persuade Shane to stay: "Shane! Come back!"

If It Was Played For Laughs: Shane comes back, only to find that all Joey wanted was to take his gun.

30. Gladiator (2000)

The Moment: Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) realises that not only has mad Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) murdered his father to claim the Emperorship, but he has ordered the death of Maximus' entire family.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Maximus escapes but too late to prevent his wife and son from being slain.

If It Was Played For Laughs: He realises that he's walked into the wrong villa. The Meridius house is next door.

29. Biutiful (2010)

The Moment: Uxbal (Javier Bardem) installs heaters in the warehouse to try and make the Chinese immigrants who work for him more comfortable.

Get Your Tissues Ready: He arrives to find that the heaters were faulty and everybody has been gassed to death.

If It Was Played For Laughs: It'd be laughing gas, and he'd turn up to find them all in hysterics.

28. Philadelphia (1993)

The Moment: Lawyer Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) visits dying AIDS victim Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) to tell him he has won his court case for wrongful dismissal.

Get Your Tissues Ready: The previously fearful, homophobic Joe reaches out to touch Andrew.

If It Was Played For Laughs: Andrew has wired himself up with electricity so that Joe gets a shock when they touch.

27. American History X (1998)

The Moment: Reformed neo-Nazi Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) arrives at his skinhead brother Danny's (Edward Furlong) school only to find him shot dead by a fellow student.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Danny's school essay is heard in voiceover, revealing that Derek had persuaded Danny to mend his ways too.

If It Was Played For Laughs: Danny's essay is told entirely in the format of rap lyrics.

26. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Moment: Lifer Brooks Hatlen (James Whitmore) is paroled but struggles to adjust to civilian life.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Brooks hangs himself with the same methodical precision he applied to running the prison library.

If It Was Played For Laughs: The rope miraculously breaks in a later flashback, it is revealed that Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) provided the noose back in Shawshank, but had made sure it wouldn't work.

25. The Wrestler (2008)

The Moment: Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) insists on competing in a rematch of his famous fight against The Ayatollah despite suffering a lethal heart condition.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Randy leaps to certain death in order to win the fight with his signature move, the Ram Jam.

If It Was Played For Laughs: The Ayatollah, realising that the fall would kill Randy, hurriedly moves a trampoline into the ring and Randy safely bounces back onto his feet.

24. Million Dollar Baby (2004)

The Moment: Fight trainer Frankie Dunn reluctantly agrees to ethuanise his disabled boxer Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank).

Get Your Tissues Ready: As he administers the lethal dose, Frank reveals that the nickname he's given Maggie Mo Chuisle is Gaelic for "my darling, and my blood."

If It Was Played For Laughs: The syringe breaks in Maggie's arm; she finds this so funny that she has a change of heart and decides to live.

23. The Child (2005)

The Moment: Strapped for cash, petty criminal Bruno (Jrmie Renier) sells his baby, Jimmy, on the black market.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Bruno is shocked into sorting out the mess he's caused by the shock and anguish on the face of Jimmy's mother, Sonia (Dborah Franois).

If It Was Played For Laughs: Instead of selling the child, Bruno signs a lucrative deal with Disney for the kid to become a superstar.

22. About Schmidt (2002)

The Moment: Returning from his abortive trip to break up his daughter's wedding, Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson) finds he's been sent a letter from his African penpal, Ndugu.

Get Your Tissues Ready: Schmidt is reduced to tears by Ndugu's crayon drawing of the two of them holding hands and smiling.

If It Was Played For Laughs: The letter continues, "PS. Ndugu is coming to stay with you," and there's a knock at the door.