In 1995, two scientists named Robert Levenson and James Gross published a list, based on seven years of research, of the sixteen scenes in movies that are mostly likely to elicit specific emotional responses (anger, sadness, amusement, etc.) in people in a lab watching movies for science. For example, their top-rated scene for “amusement” was the fake orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally. So clearly this is bologna? I mean, I’m certainly no scientist, and I’m not sure how the movie climate was from 1988 – 1995 because I was barely born, but coomeeee onnnn. NOTHING from Dumb and Dumber? Did they even ever hear of that movie? Anyway, this study was done not only so people could write about it on blogs many years later, but also to find a way to bring people to certain emotions in order to test them for other things. An article on the study in Smithsonian Magazine gives this example:

The Champ has been used in experiments to see if depressed people are more likely to cry than non-depressed people (they aren’t). It has helped determine whether people are more likely to spend money when they are sad (they are) and whether older people are more sensitive to grief than younger people (older people did report more sadness when they watched the scene). Dutch scientists used the scene when they studied the effect of sadness on people with binge eating disorders (sadness didn’t increase eating).

But that’s where this study gets it REALLY wrong. That scene in The Champ? No spolio, but the sad one? Not the saddest scene of all time. Saddest scene of all time after the jump.

:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

(Via /film.)

Comments (91)
  1. Fuck, Gabe! Are you TRYING to make me cry at work?!

  2. I’m pretty sure the saddest scene of all time is when Jar Jar Binks first appears in The Phantom Menace.

    Why does the internet keep reminding me of this?! I spent lots and lots of money on therapy suppressing that memory! SOMEBODY HUG ME!

  4. haha. this is actually an insanely weird list of film clips and emotions:

    Amusement: When Harry Met Sally and Robin Williams Live
    Anger: My Bodyguard and Cry Freedom
    Contentment: Footage of waves and a beach scene
    Disgust: Pink Flamingos and an amputation scene
    Fear: The Shining and Silence of the Lambs
    Neutral: Abstract shapes and color bars
    Sadness: The Champ and Bambi
    Surprise: Capricorn One and Sea of Love

    I guess it’s true though. When I saw “beach scene” I felt the most extreme amount of contentment I had ever felt. And when I saw “abstract shapes” I felt a huge wave of emotional neutrality.


  5. I cried when Dumbledore said, “Well you know that I’m gay, Harry.”

  6. My emotions are so easily manipulated I’ve banned myself from watching dramas in public. Doesn’t matter how formulaic, cheesy, over the top; if I hear the opening strings on the “epic sad score”, or see the first glimmers of constipated grief face, I transform into a loud bawling mess. But then, I rarely cry at real life events. Not enough atmosphere, life!

  7. You are correct. Although, I’ll cry at anything. For instance, this 1983 McDonald’s ad:

  8. I don’t know guys. The saddest scene of all time is when Treebeard realizes all his tree-friends got cut down in The Two Towers and then “The Last March of the Ents” ensues.

    Yes I have been rewatching the trilogy.

  9. On a serious conversation note… I think the saddest scene I’ve ever witnessed was “that scene” from Sophie’s Choice.
    Like. Um. Yikes.
    Oh, or shit… the little girl in the red coat in Schindler’s List! THE LITTLE GIRL IN THE RED COAT!

  10. On the flip side of the Saddest Swamp scene, the most hilarious swamp scene is when Sarah, Hoggle, Ludo, Sir Didymus & Ambrosius cross the Bog of Eternal Stench.
    That shit is 100% pure, unadulterated HILARITY.

  11. Kelly, I completely agree! I first saw The Never Ending Story when I was five and cried so much that the babysitter had to call my parents.

  12. Just gonna say that I have been witness to my boyfriend openly sob twice, and once was towards the end of watching The Road.

  13. The saddest scene of all time was when adult Jake Sisko dies in Benjamin Sisko’s arms in DS9 “The Visitor”, but since that’s a TV-show it didn’t make the list.

  14. Let’s go with: the end of Bicycle Thieves, Sansho the Bailiff, and Late Spring. Let’s put them on infinite loop. Let’s never do anything but cry again…

  15. Counterpoint: YouTube.

  16. Ugh, “The Champ” was next on my netflix queue. Now I know how it ends. Great. Thanks, Kelly.

  17. Dammit Kelly. I didn’t even have watch the scene again, just being reminded of it made me well up.



    Good night everyone! (shoots self)

  19. Sorry, but what about the scent in Terms of Endearment when the little boy is supposed to say goodbye to his dying mother, and he instead acts like an asshole, and she’s all “I’m not mad at you, don’t look back on this someday and think I was mad at you.”

    • OMG, at the end of that scene where the little boy leaves and Debra Winger tells him, “I was really scared, but I think that went OK, right? Right?” and he cries and closes the door, and she breaks down.

      Excuse me, there’s something in my contacts.

  20. The Saddest Movie Scene of all Time as obviously “everything that happened in Dear Zachary.”

  21. How about this as a close second?

    He can’t see without his glasses!!!

  22. I’m actually old enough to have seen Rick(y) Schroeder’s The Champ in the theater and I have to tell you, it was rough. I remember this woman sitting in front of my mom and I who was just bawling when the thing was over. She couldn’t get up out of her seat. It was kind of disturbing. I was determined not to cry in a movie theater, but I remember I lost it when we got home. Why did you bring me to such a depressing movie, mom?

  23. We watched this movie at school once and when Artax died it was SO SAD I left the room to cry. I never tried watching it again.

  24. My Dog Skip. Can’t even type out the title without tearing up.

  25. Because I’m super old, I actually saw The Champ in the theater when I was a kid. Little Ricky Schroeder was about my age and I thought it was the greatest movie of all time (after Star Wars, obviously)

    Also, I just watched the documentary film ‘Dear Zachary’. Goddamn if that isn’t one sad freaking movie. Like, super. And all real.

  26. No. … No.

    So, there was a midnight showing of the Neverending Story last summer (the summer before? Who knows, I’m ancient), and let me tell you – the movie does NOT hold up. But this scene? You could hear a fucking PIN DROP in that theater. Hundreds of twenty-somethings holding their breath, waiting to see if they cry.

    PS that horse definitely thought it was really about to drown in mud, and that is kind of incredibly not cool?



  28. I hate the Neverending Story. I was so afraid of the Luck Dragon as a child, and then HORSE DEATH. That movie and my horse loving childhood did not get along.
    That said, this can’t hold a candle to how I felt about “The Fox and the Hound”, “Dumbo” (I’m crying now thinking about it), and “Bambi”. The fact that the “saddest scene” is not a classic Disney movie just shows that these so-called “scientists” are wrong.

  29. You’re all right! And now I’m crying, so… thanks?

    Though I totally cried at Captain America this weekend, so maybe I’m just easily manipulated, and it’s Hollywood I should be “thanking”.

  30. Don’t worry, Atreyu. It gets better.

  31. No one mentions Dancer in the Dark? Now THAT is the saddest fictional movie ever (Dear Zachary is the saddest of everything ever).

    This lady knows what I’m talking about:

    • I was covered in cords of mucus and tears by the end of Dancer in the Dark and I did not even care. (Runner up is The Wind That Shakes the Barley? Maybe?)

      • The Wind That Shakes the Barely..! Oh god when he has the kid who ratted them out, and he has to shoot him, and the kid just asks if he’ll go to heaven and he says yes and I’m just like, I hope my roommate doesn’t come home at this very second because I am a disgusting, sobbing mess and would like to keep this moment private.

      • agreed. we have the same taste in crying your snotting face off movies.

    • WHATTTT? I laughed like the whole time! i loved it! the music! the camp! it was so over the top! And the lady from Men in black was her guard and i just love her and wanted her to say “Edgar” JUST ONCE and she didn’t but that was ok. it was great. i STILL rock out to the soundtrack.

      “Why do i love it so much?” I ask myself every time…..

    • yep- was just going to post this one. last scene. insane.

  32. That’s odd, I didn’t see Fry’s dog in any of these movies.

    • That very episode was on Comedy Central like 4 hours after you wrote this comment, Marty McFly. Will never ever watch that one again! (with respect to That One)

  33. You have all got to be kidding me. How about “Watership Down”? No one, NOT A SINGLE ONE OF YOU, not even Gmarley (!) mentions the saddest part of any movie ever: And now I’m crying. Great.

    • Signed in late to agree and also: GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES. Orphaned Japanese children during WW2. a cartoon to ruin your week, but also SO wonderful because most Studio Ghibli things are.

  34. I got to tell you never having seen ‘The Champ’ I still got misty eyed at Silver Spoons crunched up sad face wailing away. Poor Silver Spoons! Faye Dunaway will make it better, yes?

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  36. Has anyone ever seen Adam? Really good movie. Also, very, very sad.

  37. Or the part in the Chipmunks Adventure when the baby penguin has lost its mommy? That made me cry for like my whole childhood. Anyone else? Eh? Eh? Anyone?

  38. Oh man! My mother, that’s who I need. My sisters and I would bawl everytime.

  39. I remember being in summer camp and leaving the room when Artex starts to sink because I didn’t want anyone to see me cry.

  40. And let us not forget the scene in Return of the Jedi where you can almost see the struggle behind Darth Vader’s mask as he prepares to throw the Emperor over into that tube thingy and save Luke.

    Gets me every time.

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