Movies with tragic heroes that make you cry have you rooting for the good guy or girl until the very end. Nothing is more poignant than the death of a person who only tried to save others or themselves the whole movie; you find a good cry afterwards doesn't always help. Sometimes, tragic hero flicks sometimes make you wish you'd never watched, but you always carry the tragic hero's character and the movie with you.
"Million Dollar Baby" (2004): Maggie Fitzgerald (Hillary Swank) is a female boxer who, despite all odds, does not give up her dreams of success as a fighter in this award-winning movie. She finally finds the help she needs in the form of a bitter trainer, Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood). As Maggie achieves success, we see she had no help getting there: her family could care less and knock her down no matter what she tries to do to help them. She buys her mother a house only to be made fun of by the woman; despite her heroism, she's tragically treated like dirt. Her big shot comes in the form of a million-dollar Vegas match, but in true tragic hero form, she breaks her neck. Left as a quadriplegic with a family who is more interested in going to Disneyland and spending her money, she ultimately gets Frankie to end her pain, leaving you crying for hours afterward at the unfairness of it all.
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975): Based on the book of the same title, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" focuses on one man's attempt to liberate a ward full of mentally ill patients from the grip of the cold nurse who runs the place. Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is sent to a mental ward while serving a short jail sentence; he is hoping to avoid hard physical labor by spending his time in an institution. He begins to feel bad for the truly ill patients, as they are terrorized by Nurse Ratched (Louse Fletcher) throughout the entire movie, and enrages her by sidestepping her authority in an attempt to end her cruel treatment of the patients. The nurse eventually wins, getting McMurphy, the film's tragic hero, a lobotomy. McMurphy's horrified friend and fellow patient, Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) suffocates McMurphy before leavin the ward using the escape plan both men devised while yelling and crying at the same time. The final scene of the movie will make even the most hardened viewer cry, as the Chief's triumphant escape is marred by the sadness of the friend he lost.
"Philadelphia" (1993): Based on a true story with names changed, Tom Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a gay lawyer fired because he is diagnosed with AIDS at the onset of the movie. He sues the firm for wrongful termination, determined to end discrimination against AIDS sufferers, but the only lawyer willing to take the case is the admittedly homophobic Joe Miller (Denzel Washington). As Beckett fights in court, Miller begins to see him as a person and a friendship forms. Sadly, our tragic hero's health steadily deteriorates throughout the film, and he dies nearly immediately after winning the case, leaving the audience in tears.