Movies about death are never a fun experience, but the 5 best terminal illness movies that won’t make you want to die provide a relatively easy viewing. While you know that the person you are watching will soon kick the bucket, you also want to be entertained and not leave the movie feeling depressed and hating the viewing. These movies take the idea of death and infuse it with something that makes it a slightly enjoyable experience so you can feel happy, despite the loss of a beloved character.

“The Family Stone”

In this movie, the illness is kept a secret until the end. The film takes place at Christmas and, while none of the kids returning home know it yet, this is the last Christmas they will spend with their mother. She keeps it hidden to allow them to enjoy the one last Christmas happily, which allows the movie to zip along with the other characters and only uses the death at the end to wrap it up.

“Royal Tenenbaums”

This terminal illness movie that won’t make you want to die doesn’t even involve a terminal illness. Instead, Royal Tenenbaum has estranged himself from his entire family and wants to get them back together. To do so, he lies and tells them he is dying. This works to bring everyone back together but then all their insecurities and eccentricities comes out and a brilliant movie occurs. What is great is that Royal dies at the end anyway, proving that what goes around, comes around.


While this is a terminal illness movie that won’t make you want to die, the illness only plays a part of the story. This P.T. Anderson film takes a number of characters and intertwines their lives through one night. Everyone in the movie is messed up beyond belief but somehow Anderson creates a perfect film, from start to finish. In his final screen role, Jason Robards plays a wealthy man dying of a terminal illness. In a tragic coincidence, Robards shortly died after making the movie, marking the passing of an all-time great.

Moulin Rouge!”

One of the most creative musicals ever put to film, this remains one of the best terminal illness movies that won’t make you want to die. Taking modern songs and creating amazing Broadway styled musical numbers, director Baz Luhrmann created a brilliant masterpiece. Nicole Kidman stars as Satine, a dancer in the legendary club who learns she is dying at the same time she finally finds the man of her dreams. It is depressing, but the songs make this a movie that rises above the melodrama.

“Big Fish”

Tim Burton directed this terminal illness movie that won’t make you want to die, a fairy tale that remains one of his finest works. A man (Billy Crudup) returns home when he learns that his father (Albert Finney) has a terminal disease. All his life, his dad told him fish tales and he never believed any of them. The movie then shows these tales and the son soon learns that all the tales were grounded in reality. This is a movie that will make the eyes water of anyone with a father. However, it is a great story and keeps you smiling at the end, tears or not.

-Shawn Lealos