Ranking the Saddest Scenes in ‘The Fault in Our Stars’
We are a nation dehydrated.
This past weekend, The Fault in Our Stars stole all of our tears, transforming the floors of movie theaters across the country into salty pools of sadness. The film adaptation of John Green’s wildly popular—and epically tragic—teen romance novel brought audiences to the theaters in droves to see Shailene Woodley’s terminally ill Hazel Grace Lancaster fall in love with Ansel Elgort’s terminally ill Augustus Waters, and then weep uncontrollably as the characters try to cram a lifetime of true love into the short amount time left before they die.
It’s a beautiful film about young love and the audacity of optimism in the face of life’s unjustness. It also sets out to massacre our hearts and lay waste to our tear ducts, and does so with the precision of an emotionally manipulative samurai.
The Fault in Our Stars is a crying jamboree. As such, we’ve ranked the saddest scenes in the movie, light sniffles on the bottom and Costco-sized order of Kleenex on the top.
There are MANY SPOILERS ahead.
1. The eulogy
Gus asks Hazel to speak at his eventual funeral, but decides he wants to hear what she has to say first. So Hazel, while sobbing, reads what she wrote, which is in essence a love letter to the man she knows is the love of her life, and who she knows is about to die. “You gave me forever within the numbered days and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity,” Hazel says. “Does my body even have enough water to produce the amount of tears that are about to be necessary?” your mind replies.
2. “I’m not going to be a mother”
There’s a flashback to Hazel in a hospital in dire, dire health, with everyone around her assuming she’s about to die. “I’m not going to be a mother anymore!” her mother wails. And then she whispers to Hazel that it’s OK to go, to let herself die. I can barely even recap this scene without tearing up.
3. “I’ll always be your mother”
In a rare act of defiance, Hazel gets in an argument with her parents when she tries to leave the house without dinner and, out of spite, tells her mom that she heard her say that “I’m not going to a mother anymore” thing. Her mom replies with a speech about how hard it is going to be to move on after Hazel dies, but she’ll “always be your mother.” Laura Dern is heartbreaking in the scene. Have you hugged your mother today?
4. The funeral
The real one. Oh god, the real one. Hazel actually doesn’t give the eulogy she originally wrote for Gus, and instead gives a speech that she thinks Gus’s parents would like hearing. It’s the right choice. The camera shows Gus’s parents visibly moved, cinematography doubling as emotional slaughter. It’s a wrenching scene. Anytime they show the parents being sad, it’s unbearable. It bears repeating: HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR MOTHER TODAY?
5. Gus’s cancer is back
If you read the book, you knew this second-act twist was coming, announced from a park bench in Amsterdam after the loveliest date of all lovely dates. Never have two people been more in love than Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster, and now one of them is about to die. Even for those who knew it was going to happen, watching the scene in the movie was like a punch to the heart. By Floyd Mayweather.
6. Gus at the gas station
Throughout Fault in Our Stars, Gus is the personification of strength and confidence. Even while sick, he’s teflon. But this is the scene where he breaks, and it’s gutting to watch. In the middle of the night he drives himself to a gas station to buy (metaphorical) cigarettes, but his body begins to shut down while he’s there and he needs Hazel to rescue him. He’s pleading for her not to call for help, though he’s never been more vulnerable and in need of it. Somewhere in the theater, you also hear a soft, whimpering, “Help”—a woman is about to suffocate on her own tears.
7. Gus’s eulogy for Hazel
The movie ends with Hazel learning that Gus actually wrote her his own version of a eulogy before he died, and sent it to Van Houten to make more writerly. Hazel reads it: “I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes her.” The movie ends with Hazel actually happy—she made the choice to be in love with Gus, and she likes that choice.
8. The Anne Frank house kiss
After Hazel doggedly huffs and puffs up to the attic of the Anne Frank house, Hazel and Gus are so overcome with emotion—the journey to the top of the stairs, the lengths it took to even get to Amsterdam and be together, the weight of where they are—that they have their first kiss. Everyone in the museum claps. The movie does a good job of finding some emotional authenticity in this moment, but it’s too hard to get past its hokey-ness: They were making out in the freaking Anne Frank house and other patrons clap, instead of being offended?