10 Saddest Flashbacks In Movies That Made Us Cry


Films often look back on past events, or even go so far as to make most of the film a reminiscence of a character’s past. Flashbacks, when used correctly, don’t derail the plot no matter when they occur in the film. Instead, they’re meant to give more context to the characters’ motivations and backgrounds.

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They even explain things that most viewers would have otherwise missed, unraveling a mystery that has been building over a period of time. Many of these flashbacks can be tragic, as characters with sad stories can be dragged into bittersweet memories when they remember someone dear to them.

ten Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2: Snape’s memories were the series’ most tragic revelations

Snape cries and holds Lily's corpse.

Severus Snape seemed like a cold man at first, who always looked down on Harry and mercilessly murdered Albus Dumbledore. The latest film in the series proved there was a lot more to Snape than most people ever imagined. In his final moments, Snape bequeathed his memories to Harry. These memories revealed that Snape was in love with Harry’s mother, Lily Potter. He blamed himself for his death, and he was actually protecting Harry. His memories also revealed that Harry was Voldemort’s last Horcrux and that Harry had to die for Voldemort to be truly defeated.

9 Coco: Héctor’s memory of singing for his daughter showed he didn’t care about fame

Hector sings for his daughter

Héctor initially left his wife and child to pursue a career in music. Shortly after leaving, he realized he was leaving the people he cared most about and was willing to give up success and fame just to return home.

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When Héctor looked back on his memories of singing with Coco, he said he didn’t care about superficial things and that his songs were written for her. This flashback was all the more tragic, as Coco slowly forgot about him and the memories he cherished.

8 Toy Story 2: Jessie was abandoned by Emily

Jessie is sitting on Emily's bed

Jessie had a child before becoming Andy’s toy. She loved Emily, but she had to watch Emily grow up while Jessie herself was frozen in time. Emily was born out of her love of cowgirls and horses and instead got into things like makeup. Jessie picked up dust under Emily’s bed until Emily found her. Their reunion was cut short, as Emily quickly gave it away. Jessie felt abandoned as a result and developed a deep fear of being trapped in boxes alone. Since the toys are restricted by a “no talking to humans” rule, the scene used the music to its advantage to make it even more tragic.

7 Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor died to save thousands of lives

Steve and Diana crouch in the woods

Steve Trevor was a pilot in the First World War. His main goal was to end the war as quickly as possible. Working as a spy, he put his life on the line for his country. However, he developed a sweet romance with Diana, which unfortunately was short-lived.

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In order to prevent Doctor Poison’s gas from killing thousands of people, he boarded the plane. Once the plane was high enough, he lit the gas with a single bullet. What made this scene particularly tragic was the fact that it’s unclear whether or not Diana heard his parting words.

6 Deadpool: Wade Wilson fought a tough battle with cancer, and the cure wasn’t much better

Wading through a bar before becoming a mutant

Before becoming Deadpool, Wade Wilson was diagnosed with terminal cancer. When he heard the news, he noted that he wasn’t thinking about his options. Instead, he stared at his girlfriend and tried to remember her face since he wasn’t sure how much time he had left. He eventually became so desperate that he participated in the most inhumane experiments. His healing granted him immortality but mangled his appearance. Although the film was largely lighthearted, moments like these prove that the film was capable of taking itself seriously and being genuinely emotional.

5 Encanto: Abuela’s flashback showed she had insecurities

Alma when she was younger

Audiences and the Madrigal family saw Abuela as the type of person they wanted them to see – the stern and responsible head of the family, who tried to keep a cool head even in dire situations. At the end of the film, it was revealed that she was just as insecure as most of the other members of her family. Her flashback showed her falling in love, then losing the man she loved. The loss hit her so hard that she was consumed with her goal of protecting her family. Her eyes were so forward looking that for a very long time she didn’t really see the individuals within her family.

4 Titanic: the sinking of the ship is one of the most tragic scenes in cinema

Sinking of the Titanic

The film was told as Rose’s recollection of her time on the Titanic. As the ship sank in the ocean, the passengers struggled to survive. It was a horrible tragedy, and the film didn’t pack a punch in its portrayal. As Rose lay on debris in the middle of the ocean, she was surrounded by the bodies of the less fortunate. Jack, the man she had fallen in love with during their time on the ship, did not survive. By telling the story from Rose’s perspective, the film was able to make audiences cry better for all the lives lost.

3 Demon Slayer The Movie – Mugen Train: Tanjiro finds a dream version of his family

Tanjiro hugs the dream version of his siblings and cries

When Tanjiro and other Demon Slayers investigated Mugen’s train, he was forced into a deep sleep by the demon Enmu. Enmu gave her sweet and peaceful dreams of her life before she lost her family. Tanjiro was sucked into his own happy memories and reliving the best days of his life as one of the demon’s followers attempted to kill him in the real world. He eventually realized he was caught up in a life he could no longer return to and made the difficult decision to leave his family. This decision hurt him deeply, mainly because he regretted not being able to save them.

2 Ice Age: Manny remembers how he lost his family

Manny looks at a cave painting

When Manny came across a cave painting, he couldn’t help but stare at it. The painting depicted a family of woolly mammoths, which was enough to freeze him and trigger a flashback. As the film showed the painting come to life, audiences got to experience why Manny was so prickly. His past was tragic, as humans were responsible for the death of his wife and child. Despite this, he was helping a human child, though he probably saw the same pure innocence in the human child that he saw in his own.

1 Inside Out: Riley’s basic memories were replayed at the end in a sadder light

Joy holds a core memory

Riley’s main memories are memories of major events in Riley’s life that shape who she is. These memories started off happy and were even considered some of the best times of her life. As she moved into a new home, it became increasingly difficult for Riley to look back on those moments with the same joy. At the end of the film, Sadness takes over and replays those memories, now in a bittersweet tone. This scene is an unconventional type of flashback, as the characters in the present react to memories as they play.

NEXT: The 10 Best Movie Flashbacks, Ranked

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