Chatterbox: TFIOS Aftermath – Why do we love sad movies?

June 13, 2014 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | Books, Chatterbox, Features, Reflections


It’s been a mere few hours since I finished watching The Fault in Our Stars at the Penguin Teen Marathon, and I’m absolutely exhausted. My heart was shattered a million pieces and I don’t know how I will put it back together again. Hearing sniffles in the cinema and exiting with others with tear stained faces made me feel the comfort that so many people got to experience such a brilliant, beautiful love story.

Which got me thinking, why do we love sad, tragic movies, if we know the ending is going to inevitably make us want to crawl into our covers and weep at our broken hearts? The power and the beauty that is The Fault in Our Stars, is that we will experience such a powerful depth of emotion throughout the experience. We will fall in love with two adorable, intelligent characters, the idea of love even though it won’t last for infinity, and reach that inevitable ending where all good things must come to an end. Which is exactly what life is.


We love the idea of romance and love, even though heart break may occur because that’s what makes us feel human. We want to believe that there is some happiness out there, and that we can momentarily forget our problems for a while and immerse ourselves in a little bubble of a love story. Seeing fictional characters going through such a monumental experience makes us reflect our own life, and feel grateful that we aren’t in a similar situation.

Having witnessed something beautiful and capturing it within a little infinity, is better than to have not felt anything at all. That’s why we go and see sad love stories, because even though we’ll be a million pieces at the end of it, it’s better to have lived and experienced than not at all.

I’m so proud that The Fault in Our Stars is now out as a movie, because that means movie goers everywhere will get to experience the joy, the sadness, the beauty, the passion and the heartbreak that makes us so human.

Look out for my discussion review of The Fault in Our Stars with Chiara this coming Wednesday, in our next installment of Happy Eternity Discussions.

Why do you love watching sad movies?

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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76 responses to “Chatterbox: TFIOS Aftermath – Why do we love sad movies?

  1. GAH. I get that LOTS of people love movies and books like this b/c it makes them feel human, but I gotta tell you–I am not one of those people. And when I say "like this," I mean movies/books that not only don't have HEAs, they emotionally destroy you, and yes, I know that John Green thinks that readers shouldn't expect HEAs, but I say PHOOEY. I do like sad movies/books that make me feel human, but I NEED hope. I like the books where something terrible has happened, BUT life goes on and you still find HAPPINESS. Can't find happiness if you're dead. BUT, I'm glad that you enjoyed it. Truly. Just b/c it's not my bag, doesn't mean I can't appreciate that it's yours. And I'm probably going to be outnumbered in a couple of weeks (by my sisters) when I hit the beach with them, so I'll be forced to see this, and who knows . . . maybe I'll change my mind 😉
    Jessica @ Rabid Read recently posted…Review: A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley ColeMy Profile

    • You never know what you might think once you see the movie! The beauty in this movie is these two have a sad life but the found happiness in one another, which they never thought they would find. There's just something so powerful and emotional in that.

  2. Really interesting thoughts here, and an excellent conversation- I would love to talk to someone about this in day to day and see how it expanded! I'd really enjoy a follow up post, actually, where you did ask people about it and spoke about their general reactions. That's be really neat.

    Excellent post! x
    Romi recently posted…A Feature of Pictures (and Books!) No. 5My Profile

  3. I watch sad movies, and not even sad romance movies, because you just feel like you spent 1-3 hours watching something and coming away with something that you don't get with others. That being said, I don't know when/if I'll ever watch TFiOS, because I honestly don't think I can do it, haha.
    Kirsty-Marie recently posted…Review: OtherboundMy Profile

  4. I don't know why I love sad movies or books. I don't think I like them, actually. I have a love/hate relationship with them. They just make me feel sad and depressed. But at the same time I can't help but read and watch sad stories. I don't know if I can go to the movies to watch TFiOS. I feel like crying thinking about it. AH!
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  5. I think I seek out sad movies or books (when I do seek them out, that is–I have to be in the mindset to handle them!), I think it's because we've all felt lonely and sad and helpless and hopeless, and experiencing someone else's story helps us feel connected to the world somehow? It makes you feel like you're part of something much bigger.

    I just love feeling things, period. I think most women tend to be more empathetic anyway, so it's no surprise that majority of readers or moviegoers for these types of stories are female.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda: Exclusive Cover Reveal + giveawayMy Profile

  6. I haven't seen TFIOS yet, but I typically prefer a comedy rather than a tear jerker, but we all need a sad movie every so often to let it out. I don't think it's really the movie as such, I think we tend to let our emotions build up and need an outlet, whether it be a sad movie, and emotional book or just seeing the puppy on the Kleenex ad that falls asleep on a roll of toilet paper. I cry at the drop of a hat and rarely bottle anything up for long, so I don't think I'm even qualified to comment 😀
    Kelly recently posted…Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman Review and GiveawayMy Profile

    • Oooh I hope you will go and see it Kelly, it was really good! Definitely worth catching on the big screen. Oh after seeing your puppy I had the feels, sooo gorgeous.

  7. I saw TFIOS last Saturday and I'm still feeling from it omg. It's truly such a emotionally poignant movie that digs into some deep philosophical thoughts. Can't wait to see your movie review of it (:

    I feel like the fact that I'm still having emotions regarding this movie is why I enjoy watching sad movies so much. They truly can have such a profound impact on you and can actually cause you to view things differently than you originally would have. They can also really make you reflect on certain scenarios.

    Personally I love sad movies and how much I can truly get invested in their plots and character. Forming these strong emotional connections is great (:

    • Oh my gosh I know right? I can't read or watch any other emotional things at the moment becaues it's too much! It definitely does make you appreciate life more and view your life differently. Glad to hear you love the sad tearjerkers 🙂

  8. I love reading and watching sad sotires like this because i don't read or watch movies as an escape. I like to learn about a world bigger than my own and the meduim of film and books lets me do that. These stories are so real and heartbreaking and they just never fail at making us FEEEEEEEEEEEL something. Good or bad and they give us hope! I love these types of stories!
    Lily recently posted…Summer of Yesterday: ReviewMy Profile

  9. I don't know if I love sad movies per se, but there is something really beautiful about them you know? The Notebook comes to mind for me as well. Wow, I can't believe you didn't experience those emotions in the movie! Thank you Shirley 😀

  10. YAY I am so glad you have discovered this awesome, beautiful story, it's so touching isn't it? They do make things more memorable because our emotions were able to be manipulated if you know what I mean. Thank you Purple!

  11. I know what you mean, stuff like those Marvel movies, I really enjoy them. Haha I guess it's hard to break down in a movie when there are people around you, but if they are experiencing the same it kinda helps things along.

    • Lol I know what you mean about those big Marvel or action movies that I enjoy, or stuff like Harry Potter. I've heard How to Train your dragon is REALLY good! Hope you enjoy.

  12. Honestly, I've never really sat and thought about WHY I like sad movies. I don't many of them, but I do enjoy them. I guess it's because I like to see how people deal with REAL things in life. Not everyone is happy go lucky all the time, ya know? Make sense?! LOL

    I wasn't the biggest fan of this book, but I can almost guarantee the movie will make me cry.
    tonyalee recently posted…My Week in Books (6/14/14)My Profile

    • I know right, I guess it came about because I was thinking after the movie "Why do I put myself through this if I know what the ending will be" lol. That was the same with Chiara, she said the book didn't make her cry and it was meh, but the movie she was bawling.

  13. To be honest, I don't watch a lot of sad movies, just because I don't like to feel sad :p I like how realistic they are and how they make me think about life, but I'm more a happy ending type of girl. I've read this book and will watch the movie, because it's a beautiful story 🙂 I find it interested to pick something sad every now and then, but most of the times I go for the uplifting ones.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 265. Lisa Ann O’Kane – Essence.My Profile

    • I know, feeling sad just makes you really depressed after movies! Happy endings are awesome 🙂 I'm glad you'll be seeing this one though, it's definitely worth it.

  14. Oh that sounds awesome that you are bringing your friends Livia, what an awesome experience! It really does need to be experienced by everyone at least once I think. It was definitely sad but those ones are more memorable aren't they?

  15. So funny, I was just thinking about this! My mom and dad and I were together and were saw the preview and my dad was like "Don't we have enough sad and depressing stuff in real life? People go to movies to get away from all that stuff in their lives." And my mom was like "Maybe we go to them so we are reminded to appreciate our lives all the more." And I was like O.O Go, Mom. Unexpectedly deep, there xD Anyways, fantastic explanation, I definitely agree. We get to see a more vulnerable side to people we usually don't see but is all too real in reality. Great post!
    Alise recently posted…Marooned: Hidden by Marianne CurleyMy Profile

  16. Hahaha! The thing is, I personally try to avoid sad movies at all costs! 😛 For example, My Sister's Keeper–no matter how many classmates of mine recommend it, I don't want to watch it. XD But this one… I had to, you know? It's The Fault in Our Stars. So yeah, I spent all my time DURING the movie crying. And AFTER the movie, I started questioning life, haha! When we went to the restroom after watching the movie, people were coming in with red-rimmed eyes, and I was one of them. 😛
    Aimee @ Deadly Darli recently posted…Blog Tour: Threats of Sky and Sea by Jennifer EllisionMy Profile

    • Oh my gosh, My Sister's Keeper was so sad because you know what is going to happen! I am SO glad you went and saw it regardless because it was a beautiful experience! Pretty much everyone in our movie cried, it was just like that. At least they could relate.

  17. I have to be honest… I am not going to this movie or reading that book because I actually don't like being sad. I know a lot of people enjoy it… well I don't know if the word is enjoy it but they like to let it go like you said. I don't know… for me I don't like feeling sad or crying. I was diagnosed with melanoma last year.. and luckily we got it all but I don't want to know what could've happen had I not caught it in time. 🙁
    Angie @Angela's recently posted…Project Disney: DumboMy Profile

  18. I guess sad movies can sometimes act as a viable outlet for our emotions to flow. We're taught to be strong and often this means we hide or suppress our emotions because we believe it's inappropriate to show them. Watching sad movies give us a reason to let things out – it's therapeutic, don't you think?
    Henrietta recently posted…Dark Metropolis – Jaclyn DolamoreMy Profile

    • Oh no, I can't handle sad movies when I'm sad because it would make me even more depressed. It's such a great movie Janina, good idea on reading the book first. I hope you do read it soon!

  19. Sometimes I like movies that don't require me to think. I just want pure pleasure from watching them. But other times, I want a sad movie because it causes me to think about my life. I like to reflect sometimes. TFIOS was a definite thought-provoking film for me, because of my family's situation.
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Book Recommendations From Bookish People!My Profile

    • I love that about movies too (and books) because they are so immersive and you can forget about your own life for a while. Sad movies do make you appreciate life more don't they?

  20. After reading the book I've actually decided to stay clear of the movie for my own heart. I have a thing for emotional movies and especially this one. Its such a huge hit here in the UK but for me I think it would break me to see it! So sad and I don't think I could watch that at this time. Lovely post, Jeann! 🙂
    Emma @ Never Judge a recently posted…REVIEW – THE SOUND by Sarah AldersonMy Profile

  21. I don't know if this makes sense, but I once read in an article that when you feel pain, it just means you're alive, and you live. For me watching sad movies is like seeing the harshness of reality. We wouldn't be sad because of it, if it weren't possible in real life. I think one of the best movies that made me cry like a baby is Hachiko and Stuck in Love. My tears were just overflowing. 😀
    Jules recently posted…Book Review: True by Erin McCarthyMy Profile

    • That is so true, it makes you feel so much more as a person doesn't it? Watching sad movies makes you feel really emotional. I haven't read those books before but wow, they do sound sad if you were crying that much. I've really broken down during Les Mis as well (the movie), it was so emotional!

  22. It's not out till the 20th here!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! I need to see it, now! I didn't cry reading the book – which is odd as hell because I am a total crier in general & weep uncontrollably at sad books – but I have a feeling the movie will have me sobbing like crazy. I am planning to reread the book before I go see the film, curious to see if I cry the second time around.
    Reviews from a Bookw recently posted…Five Friday Favourites: Favourite Parents In FictionMy Profile

  23. I might be a little bit of an oddball here, but I'm one of those people who absolutely hates sad movies or books. I feel like real life is already full of negativity and sorrow that when I read a book or a movie, I don't want to experience those same feelings. I read and watch movies to escape reality and relax. It's why I'll watch a dumb Adam Sandler movie than watch a sad movie.

    It's one reason why I probably won't watch The Fault in Our Stars.

    Despite that though, I completely understand why people seem to devour these books. Just look how successful Nicholas Sparks movie adaptations are!

    I'm glad you enjoyed the movie, Jeann.

    Great post!
    Nick @ Nick's B recently posted…Review : Boomerang by Noelle AugustMy Profile

    • I can kind of understand what you mean because real life situations are sad enough that you don't need some fictional movies or books make you experience even more sadness and frustration. Thank you Nick! Oh THE NOTEBOOK was such a sad movie.

  24. I've never been a big fan of sad movies really… I'll read any sort of book, but I like my movies to be powerful and grandiose, so I tend to go to the cinema to see big productions or movies with loads of effects that are better on the big screen. The rest of movies I prefer watching them at home quietly… And I only watch movies that I know will make me sad when I feel like I need a good cry and I'm not capable of crying on my own.
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  25. I love sad movies because they're the ones I'll think about every now and then, months or years after watching it. For me, when I think of "sad movies" Titanic immediately pops up in my head, and every few months I would think "IF Jack had survived and she survived as well, would they have ended up together? Or would their social status continue to prevent them from being together once they landed on solid ground." Having said that, I didn't particularly feel the emotions everyone else did during TFiOS. I *liked* the movie, but I unfortunately didn't feel pain, sadness, heartbreak, nor happiness… Yeahh…honestly not sure what's happening to me hahaha! Anyway, fantastic post Jeann! Looking forward to more discussion posts from you<3

  26. I actually don't like sad movies. Or books. I will occasionally read/watch them, but I have to push myself to do so. I HATE being heartbroken at the end (or anywhere in between for that matter).

    I think what you say is true, for those that like those types of things. I do want to see TFIOS, and I have read them book, I do appreciate those who love sad books/movies, but I'm not one of them.
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  27. I just read TFIOS the other day, because I wanted to read the book before I see the movie this week and I was floored. Can't wait to see the movie even if it's going to break my heart all over again <3.

    For me there's just something inexplainably beautiful in these heartbreaking stories. They always leave a bigger impression on me than your usual HEA book. It's not that I'm pessimist, I just think that they seem more realistic and that's what makes readers connect with them on some deeper level just like you said.

    Great and thoughtful post Jeann!
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  28. I can't believe I haven't seen this movie yet!!! I'm going to try to go this weekend. I think it's a good idea for EVERY ONE to take a break from your normal lives and remember just how wonderful it feels when you watch an amazing movie that can make you FEEL, even if that means crying your eyes out. We all need to let our emotions out sometimes and sad movie are a safe way to do that. Loved this post, Jeann!
    Tammy @ Books Bones recently posted…Cover Reveal & Giveaway: THE PERILOUS JOURNEY OF THE NOT-SO-INNOCUOUS GIRL by Leigh StathamMy Profile

  29. I can't wait to see the movie 😀 Haven't yet, hopefully this week. And I'm making ALL my friends see it too, I want us all to cry together and shudder in agony by the end 😀

    I for one love bittersweet movies & reads because they ring truer to me than the happy ones. Maybe that sounds bad, but those that end in HEA always feel like a definite exercise in imagination, like clear fiction, you know? Throw in pain, suffering, heartbreak, and a bitter end to something which had a stellar beginning, and I'm gonna feel it's real, I guess.

    Most if not all of my all-time fav stories end with me in tears. But then again maybe I'm just a sucker for pain, I dunno… 😐
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  30. Oh, you summed this up so so well. I kind of ask myself why I like to read sad and/or scary books. I do like to feel when I read. I like to be emotionally connected! I'm going to see this in like a week…eeehhh SO EXCITED. And nervous. I've never cried in a cinema before…gosh, I've only ever cried in a movie once. x) I wonder how I'll go!
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  31. In my case, I love watching these kinds of movies because seeing these fictional characters feel love and happiness amidst their trials gives hope to people like us. It helps that the characters, the story, and the events are relatable because sometimes their story becomes our story too. Yes they are fiction, but there will still be parts wherein we can connect with them, and this makes us hope that like them we can see love and happiness through trials too. And it helps that the male characters are swoon worthy too. 🙂
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  32. I love what you said here about experiencing the emotions.

    Which to be honest, is why I watch sad movies sometimes.

    I remember when this guy absolutely broke my heart, and I REALLY wanted a good cry but I didn't want to just cry for me. So I got out The Time Traveller's Wife, KNOWING that it makes me wail like a newborn baby every time I watch the darn thing. But I knew I was gonna cry, and I knew I'd be able to let my emotions out the way I wanted to.

    But TFiOS was COMPLETELY different. I didn't even KNOW it was going to wreck me like it did. But I guess it makes it all the more special.


    P.s. I'm reading Spark at the moment, too! We're totally reading buddies ^.^
    Chiara @ Books for a recently posted…Book Review: The Word Ghost by Christine PaiceMy Profile

    • It's so true Chiara, we know it's going to be sad but we go and see it anyway. Oh my gosh, I really did cry at the end of Time Traveler's Wife (the book) as well! I'm glad you were able to let the emotions out. (and I hope your heart had mended over time). TFIOS was crazy, especially since you went in going "nah I'll see how it is". YAY for reading buddies! Can't wait until Wed xoxo

  33. That's a really really good question! For me, I think it's because I love the fact that a story could be told so amazingly that my emotions are controlled. I love being able to feel all the feels and to just cry about fictional characters every now and then. It really hits me in the heart and makes me think about how it would feel if the characters were real!
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