Saddest Sci-Fi Movie Moments

Usually recognized for their action and plot, the saddest sci-fi movie moments also have an impact on their audience

When science fiction fans talk about their favorite films, more often than not the discussion always comes back to the saddest sci-fi movie moments. Who knows why? Maybe the sad scenes leave an impact on the viewers that cannot be ignored. Maybe science fiction fans just enjoy being miserable while watching their movies. Whatever the reason, there are an abundance of sad moments in sci-fi cinema.

The saddest sci-fi movie moments know the right note to play to leave you a blubbering mess in search of tissues. Here are some of the biggest tearjerker moments in sci-fi movies you might remember. 

Bride of Frankenstein

I have prayed many times for God to send me a friend.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is both one of the first horror novels and first science fiction novels ever written. It seems logical that Universal's films count as both horror films and science fiction films, then. 

It is in the second Universal Frankenstein movie, Bride of Frankenstein, that we find the first of the saddest sci-fi movie moments.

The Monster (Boris Karloff) has just escaped prison, and is running wildly through the woods when he stumbles upon the home of an old hermit. The hermit, being blind, is the first person to not see the Monster as a stitched-together hodgepodge of body parts, and, to the Monster's awe, treats him with respect and kindness.

It starts off as an intensely heart-warming scene, with the Hermit and Monster becoming friends, only for it all to be ruined by hunters stumbling upon the Monster. For a moment, the Monster finds a shred of happiness in his miserable life, only for it to be dashed away. If you aren't devastated by the end, you may be less than human.

Godzilla

But if we continue conducting nuclear tests, it's possible that another Godzilla might appear somewhere in the world again.

This one is gonna confuse a lot of you. I assume the majority of you have never actually watched the original, Japanese version of Godzilla, so me ranking it among the saddest sci-fi movie moments is probably a little odd. It's just a dumb monster movie, right?

Wrong.

The finale of Godzilla is not among the saddest sci-fi movie moments only because it's a sad scene. It's that the film represents the real life horror of the atomic bombs. This is not a subtle allegory, either. The original Japanese film utilizes imagery of charred cities, filled hospitals, and radiation burns. 

The end of the film is a haunting sequence, where a scientist kills Godzilla using an Oxygen Destroyer. But the film, rather than celebrating the destruction of the beast, ends on a sobering note that Godzilla's trail of destruction is hardly stopped, as the world continues on toward the path of annihilation thanks to its use of nuclear weapons.

Its a sobering, sad scene that is more than itself – a feat only accomplished by the best of sci-fi movies.

The Man Who Fell to Earth

You're going to die like an animal.

David Bowie's surreal science fiction escapade results in one of the saddest sci-fi movie moments. It's such a sad and depressing movie that I'm surprised more people don't talk about it. 

David Bowie plays an alien who travels to Earth to save his home planet from running out of water. Along the way, he learns what it means to be human.

However, just before Bowie can return home, the government comes, and captures him. He's apprehended, tested on, and hooked on drugs and booze to keep him placid and from leaving. All the while, we see the people on his home world, waiting for him.

Waiting.

Waiting...

Dead.

All while humanity keeps Bowie shackled up and alone in an apartment, a wreck who knows he failed his people. Tragic.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Is it fair to say Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is the best Star Trek film? A lot of fans may debate it, but this sci-fi movie has it all: an epic adventure, a narrative about aging, obsession, and, of course, the death of Spock.

In a last ditch effort, Khan, who has been trying to kill Kirk for the whole movie, attempts to activate a device known as Genesis in order to ensnare the Enterprise. This in turn would mean killing everyone in one fell swoop. 

Earlier in the film, the Warp Drive had been damaged. The ship can't escape in time, so Spock, seeing the logical next step, goes down to repair the Warp Drive himself.

And, in the process, becomes bombarded with Warp Drive radiation. He lives long enough to have one final farewell with Kirk before passing on.

Kinda.

This death is in many ways lessened in its intensity knowing the next film brings Spock back. (The next movie is literally called Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, so even people who don't watch Trek knows Spock comes back!) But that doesn't change the fact that this scene is still one of the saddest sci-fi movie moments, especially given the real-life passing of Spock actor Leonard Nimoy.

It just feels like a tragic end to an already tragic film.

E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial

I'll... be... right... here...

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is Steven Spielberg's attempt to make children cry all over the world. How dare he make such a good, emotionally sincere film that tugs on our heart strings like this?

While there are a couple upsetting scenes in the movie (E.T. being taken in by the scientists is fairly disturbing) it is the ending where Elliot has to say goodbye to his alien friend that really ranks among the saddest sci-fi movie moments.

Granted, the whole point of this alien encounter story is that E.T. wants to return home, but over the course of the film we've become, like Elliot, attached to the poor guy. Seeing him go is nothing short of devastating and tragic.

Yeah, I know E.T. says "I'll be right here," and points toward Elliot's heart, but so what? You're still going 50 million light years away. You won't be right here when Elliot has to go to his PTSD therapy sessions. Damn it, Spielberg. 

Blade Runner

All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Damn, June 1982 must've been a sad month for sci-fi fans. Star Trek II, ET, and Blade Runner one after the next. No joke, all of these sorrowful sci-fi movies came out in the same month! 

Imagine being a movie theater regular back in the day and seeing this pattern. Some of the saddest sci-fi movie moments, all concentrated into one month, would probably make you upset. 

Blade Runner is the Ridley Scott classic, based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. The film features Harrison Ford as Deckard, a "Blade Runner" who hunts down androids called replicants.

 The whole film is kinda chilling and melancholy, given how replicants really appear no different than people, and Deckard has to "retire" them.

Of all the Replicants, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is the most fleshed out and developed. We understand that he came to Earth with his companions to extend his limited life span. So at the end of the film, when he realizes that not only was his whole mission for nothing, but that he also led his family to their deaths, we can feel for Batty.

Following an exciting confrontation that ends with Deckard falling off the side of a building, we expect Batty to just watch the guy who killed his companions die – but instead he pulls Deckard to safety, sits him down, and tries in his final seconds of life to share his experiences with him. The Blade Runner watches a machine come to term with the reality of his mortality just as he dies.

What makes this one of the saddest sci-fi moments isn't just that a sympathetic character dies. It's that he dies so naturally  – not to mention the improvised speech by Rutger Hauer. It all makes an incredibly moving moment.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

I know now why you cry, but it's something I can never do.

No one expects a movie like Terminator 2: Judgement Day to be sad, let alone feature one of the saddest sci-fi movie moments ever – but director James Cameron surprised us.

Over the course of the film, John Connor, the future savior of the planet, becomes close with a reprogramed T-800 (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Connor, whose time traveling father died before he was born, never had a father figure in his life, so, in a bizarre yet touching way, the Terminator becomes almost a dad to Connor, even though, in many respects, the T-800 is learning from Connor.

This culminates in the finale of the film, where John Connor, along with his mother and new metal best friend, defeat the evil T-1000 and destroy Skynet before it can ever be created, thus saving the future (until Terminator 3 ruins everything).

Or so they think.

In order to truly destroy Skynet, the T-800 has to be destroyed, as Skynet, it turns out, had been created thanks to the remains of the first Terminator from the original movie (time travel is weird). So, in order to save the future, the T-800 has to be melted down.

This leads to a tearful self-sacrifice, with John watch as the only father he ever knew has to melt in a molten metal pool. The thumbs up at the end is either adorable or depressing. Still not sure which.

The Iron Giant

Suuuuuuppeeeerrrmaaaaann...

Many discounted Brad Bird's The Iron Giant for a number of unfair reasons – it being an animated film for kids chief among them. However, what they missed was a beautiful throw-back to classic sci-fi, with a plot about a giant machine (voiced by Vin Diesel) landing on Earth, and befriending a young boy.

So yeah, it's E.T. Only, in my opinion, better.

But toward the end of the movie, the Giant starts messing things up. Causing mass destruction and all that. Military fires a missile at the town to destroy the Giant, but – thanks to the power of love – the Iron Giant comes to his senses, and flies to intercept the missile.

Easily one of the saddest sci-fi movie moments, especially given his final words and the music and – damn it, I'm not crying; you're crying!

By the way, this isn't going to be the last time Vin Diesel appears here. Just so you know. The guy may mainly play Dungeons and Dragons characters, but he tends to pull on heart strings pretty hardcore.

Moon

I wanna go home.

Don't ask what moment in Moon is the saddest sci-fi movie moment. The whole movie, from start to finish, is sad. There is not a single moment in this film that doesn't either break your heart, leave you teary eyed, or, at the very least, move you.

Sam Rockwell (the most underrated actor still living) plays Sam Bell, an astronaut miner on the moon, just about to end his three year shift. But it turns out that he might not be alone up there, as, after an accident up there, another Sam Bell appears. And, from there, things go downhill fast.

To say anything else would ruin one of the most under-rated hard science fiction movies ever. The entire movie following the 20-minute mark is just one sad moment after another. It is heart wrenching, and to say anymore would ruin a masterwork of science fiction.

But, without spoiling anything, the most heart wrenching scene is the scene in the space buggy with the radio communication. That conversation, along with the immediate aftermath, ranks as one of the saddest – yet subdued – moments in any movie.

Just bring tissues. Seriously, I'm not messing around. 

The Road

How many people do you think are still alive?

Cormac McCarthy is not a very happy guy. The adaptation of his novel The Road depicts a world gone dry and cold. Again, like Moon, it is hard to find the saddest moment in The Road, as, from start to finish, it is an exercise in nihilism and tragedy.

The whole film is a collection of the saddest sci-fi movie moments, all put into one. There is no joy, no happiness, nothing. You are going to be emotionally broken the whole way through. 

Chief among these scenes may be the ending. After a trek through human misery and suffering, you'd expect at least some joy at the end. Some sort of hope – 

Nope. Dad's dead. Kid's alone with a slightly-mad Guy Pearce. Life is horrible. Don't drown yourself in alcohol to numb the pain. It won't work.

The Road is notorious for being incredibly depressing. I advise you not tot watch this if you want to feel good about life.

Guardians of the Galaxy

We... are... Groot...

Damn it, Vin Diesel! Why do you keep being in the saddest sci-fi movie moments? You make my eyes leak every damn time.

Seeing as how his movie is incredibly popular, you know the premise. Space assholes go on a trip, become heroes, and kick evil's ass. Insert colorful characters and random celebrities, and you're good to go.

Ronan the Accuser's ship is falling down to Earth with our lovable heroes inside. It seems like all hope is lost, until Groot, the living tree alien, extends his branches around his companions to protect them, putting himself willingly in harm's way to protect his new family.

When they crash, Groot is reduced to splinters.

Yes, he regenerates, but we have no idea if Baby Groot is the same Groot who died. For all we know, this is like his baby or something. We don't know alien biology that well. 

While the recently released Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has an incredibly sad finale too (possibly even sadder) this scene is so unexpected and so out of nowhere that it really leaves us emotionally devastated.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Ben!

This movie, also known as Star Wars: Episode VII – the Force Awakens, is just too emotional not to include here. 

The Star Wars saga has a ton of sad moments. A film does not go by without at least one tear-jerking moment – except Attack of the Clones, because that film is the worst. But the saddest sci-fi movie moment in a series full of the saddest sci-fi movie moments? Easily the death of Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Han Solo is a beloved character, but Harrison Ford has wanted to get Han killed off since the first film. Well, in this one, he gets his wish, as his own son, Kylo Ren – Ben Solo – drives a lightsaber through his own father in order to eliminate any trace of the Light Side from his heart.

Science fiction fans have idolized Han Solo since the start of the Star Wars saga, so to see him killed off – it's tragic. Inevitable, in many respects, but tragic. Even sadder is the knowledge that, given the passing of Carrie Fisher, we will never see Luke Skywalker with either Han or Leia ever again.

Unless they meet in a flashback in The Last Jedi. Fingers crossed, but I don't think that's happening.

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