Action movies aren’t really well-known for making you cry, or feel emotional. The genre typically pumps you full of adrenaline, producing exciting, thrilling movies that will make you want to come back and watch it again. But what elevates an action movie and makes it stand out from a very crowded genre, is the emotional impact. Humanizing the characters and making them somewhat relatable, so when we see that character fail or die, it will bring you to tears and tug at your heart strings. So, with that, here are some of the most emotional moments in action movies, that are sure to make you cry.
6 Goose’s Death – Top Gun (1986)
This cheesy, high octane ’80s action flick may not be remembered for tugging at your heart strings, but with the film focusing on a relationship so pure and infectious, you will be forced to shed a tear during this adrenaline-filled action movie. Maverick and Goose quite easily have one of the best bromances in cinematic history, due to Cruise’s and Edwards’ infectious real-life chemistry. Top Gun does a great job at demonstrating the pair’s bond, with them singing “Great Balls of Fire“ together and being each other’s wingman, when serenading women. There is an unequivocal love between the two, and we can feel a purely unconditional and fraternal love for one another, which results in a relationship we all wish we came across at one point in our lives.
Goose’s death was so impactful that 36 years later, in the film’s recent sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, the main theme and storyline of the sequel is Maverick trying to process the grief of losing his best friend, alongside building a relationship between him and Goose’s son; Rooster, who resents Maverick.
In the film we see Maverick and Goose suffering from engine failures, with both engines catching fire, causing the pair to go into a fatal flat spin. The two are forced to eject with Maverick safely ejecting and landing in the ocean, but tragically Goose hits his head on the cockpit window, causing him to die on impact. Maverick rushes to Goose’s aid, only to find his best friend dead.
5 Blake’s Death – 1917 (2019)
Meant to look like it was filmed as one continuous shot, 1917 is an award-winning World War 1 film, which delivers a truly tense and dramatic experience unlike any other. Lance Corporal Thomas Blake’s death was unexpected and shocking, considering how important the character is in the story, and to his friend, Lance Corporal William Schofield, we didn’t expect his death to be so quick and heartbreaking. Thomas Blake was a character we quickly fell in love with. Dean Charles Chapman delivers a heartfelt performance as a somewhat naive and hopeful soldier, who just wanted to go home to his family and to deliver a message to his brother.
During the scene, a German fighter plane is shot down and comes crashing towards them. Narrowly escaping the plane crash, the two aid the German pilot and save him from the burning wreckage. Once they recovered him from the wreckage, Schofield ran to a water pump to help the pilot. After hearing a kerfuffle, Schofield turns around to find that the German pilot stabbed Blake. Quickly loading his rifle and shooting the pilot twice, he then runs to his friend as he is forced to sit with him as he slowly loses blood.
4 T-800 Sacrifices Himself – Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The menacing T-800 returns in this excellent ’90s action movie, however, James Cameron completely flips the script, and instead, makes the once-terrifying T-800, a lovable cyborg who is sent to protect a young John Connor. Throughout the film, our favorite Terminator, the T-800 has many awesome and humanizing moments, with many cool action scenes, like the T-800 using a mini gun against a swarm of police, and the infamous motorcycle chase against the T-1000. While these scenes make us love the T-800, it’s the humanizing moments between young John Connor that make us truly care for the character.
At the end of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-800 realizes that Skynet can still exist as long as he is still around, which leads the cyborg to sacrifice himself to truly protect the young John Connor. After a tearful goodbye, the T-800 grabs hold of a metal chain, which lowers the cyborg into a pool of molten lava, before finally giving a final, heartfelt thumbs up.
3 Robert is Forced to Kill His Dog – I am Legend (2007)
There are almost no words to describe the pain and trauma you will feel while watching this scene. Robert (Will Smith) lives in a world where a deadly virus has turned humans into some kind of vampire creatures. Robert resides in the world on his own with his loyal and brave dog, Sam. Of course, seeing a dog die is sad enough, but seeing the pair’s bond and love for one another throughout the film makes the scene feel much more emotionally painful. While I am Legend wasn’t necessarily a smash-hit with critics, this scene did, however, elevate the film to greatness, and left every single audience member balling their eyes out.
In the scene, Robert is helplessly attacked by the infected, but fortunately, Sam dives in to save Robert, and protect him from the infection. Tragically, Sam gets bitten and Robert rushes back to his lab. Knowing there is no treatment to save his loyal friend, he must sit there and sadly put Sam down himself. Thankfully, we do not see the death, but what we are left with is much more emotional. We are left with a continuous shot on Will Smith’s face as we see tears rush down his face, with no music, and only the cries of Sam, as Robert is forced to suffocate his dear friend.
2 Daisy the Puppy – John Wick (2014)
Witnessing the death of a puppy or dog is devastating enough, but knowing what the dog symbolizes to John Wick will leave you heart shattered. Before John Wick’s wife Hellen passed away, she arranged for a dog to be given to her husband, to provide a semblance of hope for John in a world without his wife. After your heart has been ripped from its chest, it is truly satisfying seeing the boogeyman go on a vengeful murder spree, and you will be screaming at your screen in delight as John finally shoots Yosef (Alfie Allen), the main thug behind his dog’s death. John Wick is hailed for its groundbreaking action scenes, but it was this tragic and emotional scene that elevated John Wick and gave the film its important pop culture status.
In the scene, a group of burglars breaks into the home of the boogeyman, stealing his car and killing his dog. Losing all semblance of hope, he is forced back into the life which he fought so hard to leave behind.
1 The Final Farewell – Furious 7 (2015)
It was a devastating blow to all when we heard the news of Paul Walker’s death, which caused many fans and co-stars to pay beautiful tributes to the beloved actor. Brian O’Connor has been one of the main characters of the franchise for just under 15 years. Upon Furious 7′s release, we spent six movies with the character and witnessing his wholesome arc throughout the franchise. We are left with a scene that was equally both devastating and heart-warming at the same time. This beautifully emotional scene was backed up by the award-winning song “See You Again“, which only made us shed even more tears. This scene helped Furious 7 take home the People’s Choice Awards for best movie of 2015, with Vin Diesel giving an emotional tribute to his friend, Paul Walker.
In this expertly directed scene by James Wan, we see Dom riding off in his infamous Dodge Charger, before Brian catches up with him in a white Toyota Supra, a nod to the cars they both used in their race in Fast and Furious. What begins is a beautiful and emotional tribute to Paul Walker, as Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” elevates the emotional impact of the scene.