The hallmark of any good movie is the ability to make its audience feel something. A well-written narrative and convincing performances are usually enough to inspire some emotion, but this is usually done in line with the film’s overall tone. For example, superhero movies and sports dramas are predominantly designed to inspire, action movies are intended to excite, thrillers and horror movies are written to keep us on edge or outright scare us. There are also tearjerkers – a specific subgenre of drama that exists with the sole purpose of upsetting its audience.
However, every now and then, movies aren’t content to stay in their lane. For example, some horror movies are unintentionally hilarious, and some action movies are surprisingly uplifting. However, nothing quite compares to the way that some movies switch gears and abruptly and unexpectedly become altogether upsetting.
This seems to happen most often in comedy movies, where an unforeseen turn of events suddenly hits us straight in the feels. The silly nature of comedies makes it the easier genre to achieve this particular feat in, but it also happens in other movies, too: ultimately, the only criteria to count as a part of this phenomenon is for the film to have established a certain tone, and then delivered a particularly upsetting moment or scene out of nowhere. With this in mind, here are 7 of the most unexpectedly upsetting scenes in movies.
7. The Simpsons Movie – Wedding Video
The Simpsons Movie arguably left it too long to deliver the world’s favorite yellow family to the big screen, but that didn’t detract from its overall success. The titular family’s first feature-length outing delivered a number of excellent moments, all while playing fan service to a number of the beloved show’s best moments. Though The Simpsons Movie naturally told a story on a larger scale than the typical episodic narratives of the TV show, the general tone was intact, with consistent comedy peppered throughout.
However, at the end of The Simpsons Movie‘s second act, it suddenly delivered an unexpected gut-punch. Having fled another problem caused by Homer, the Simpson family struggle to adjust to their new life. Selfishly failing to realize how unhappy his family is, Homer returns to an empty house to discover that Marge has left him and taken the children, leaving behind nothing but a tape explaining her decision. After watching his wife’s goodbye message, Homer discovers that Marge has taped over their wedding video, and collapses into a heap on the floor, sobbing with the weight of his loss.
Maybe it’s the way the scene rips all comedic pretense away from The Simpsons Movie for just a few minutes, or maybe its seeing such a beloved wacky character confronting his own selfish nature, but it’s a heavy moment. It’s such an unexpectedly powerful scene that it makes The Simpsons Movie feel less like a big-screen adaptation and more like a much-needed deeper examination of its characters. The fact that the rest of the movie is primarily just a high-concept comedy caper makes The Simpsons Movie‘s saddest scene stand out all the more.