Top Ten Saddest On-Screen Moments With Replay Poker

Mufasa's death in 'The Lion King'
Image courtesy of Disney

From Ellie’s death in the opening of Up to the finale of Friends, it’s safe to say that some emotional on-screen moments stick with you. They tug at your heartstrings and force a tear from your eye, even years after you’ve first watched them, but which ones are the saddest on-screen moments, all but guaranteed to make you bawl your eyes out?

Free online poker site Replay Poker ran a poll in February, to find out once and for all the top ten saddest scenes in films and TV shows. So here are the respondents’ top ten picks for on-screen moments guaranteed to make you cry…

The Top Ten Saddest On-Screen Moments:

  1. Mufasa’s death in The Lion King (25%)
  2. Marley’s death in Marley and Me (21%)
  3. Bambi’s mom in Bambi (20%) 
  4. Tony Stark’s death in Avengers: Endgame (19%).
  5. The old couple cuddling in bed before the ship sinks in Titanic (19%)
  6. Will being stood up by his biological father in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (16%).
  7. Dobby’s death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (13%)
  8. When the toys are in the incarcerator in Toy Story 3 (13%)
  9. The last scene—when everyone leaves their keys on the table—in the series finale of Friends (12%)
  10. Ellie’s death in Up (11%)

It will come as no surprise that 60% of these saddest on-screen moments don’t involve humans, but our furry friends and childhood animated characters. Taking the top spot, as the saddest moment of all time, was Mufasa’s death in Disney The Lion King. In fact, 30% of the participants aged between 25and 34 years old—who would have been at the prime viewing age when the film was released in 1994—still felt the pang of the emotional connection to this moment as adults.  

Equally, three of these moments take place in some of the biggest global franchises: Dobby’s death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the final scene in Friends and Tony Stark’s death in Avengers: Endgame. All of these, you’ll notice, mark the final moments of these beloved characters after years spent with them on-screen. And yet, not even these tear-jerking goodbyes made everyone cry. In fact, 7% of the survey’s respondents disclosed that they’d never cried at a sad movie scene. 

Thibault Richard-Folian, General Manager at Replay Poker, explained that “We conducted this survey as a fun and interesting way of understanding the psychological link between entertainment and emotions, and how the emotional elements of film and TV can really affect viewers.”

Words by Jess Bacon

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