On our various programs (but mostly on Top 5), I’ve spoken repeatedly about my occasional need to submerge myself in a sad book, movie or (mostly often) song, and wallow a bit in angst.  It’s a habit that, admittedly, a lot of people don’t really get or share with me, but it’s as much fun as the terror of a Stephen King story, the exhilaration of playing my wrestling vidja game or that quiet superiority that comes watching my wife’s reality TV.  Last night, though, I really doubled down on the solemnity and watched all of ‘Lost In Translation’, a story of emotional entanglement and ennui that is still making me sigh a day later.  It was, in an odd way, both devastating and enjoyable, which leads us to today’s inconsolable query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) believes that art’s main job is to make you feel something, even if it’s something you don’t entirely recommend, asking: What pop culture do you enjoy in spite of the fact that it fills you with sadness?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Transformers: The Movie. The original animated movie, not the live-action movie. Even all these years later, I still cry like a baby when Optimus Prime dies.

    The episode of Supernatural where Bobby dies. It is really heart wrenching, and even though he does return as a ghost, it doesn’t make his death any less devastating.

    And the finale of Digimon season 3, when the Digimon have to go back to the Digital world or risk deteriorating into nothingness.

    Might not be the sort of answers you were expecting, but I can’t really watch anything too realistic that makes me sad. They usually bring up too many bad memories from my past and send me into panic attacks.

  2. The last three Johnny Cash Albums, especially “Hurt”
    Gordon Lightfoot
    Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series. I’ve had the final book for over a year now and I can bring myself to read it.

  3. I had something for this, a movie or a tv show…

    Not necessarily in a blubbering, snot crying way, but more in a bleak, unrelenting things fall apart kind of way. Mostly, I enjoy these genres cause it shows that its mostly just about life going on. Books work the best for this, in my opinion. Off hand Neil Gaiman’s American Gods or The Ocean at the End of the Lane, maybe Stardust. Some anime too, like Wolf’s Rain. The new HBO show Leftovers is kinda good for this too.

  4. Pretty much anything where the ending is… not complete? Like in Dragon Age Origins one of the things I love about is there is always this sense of doom during the game, especially in camp where the characters are desperately trying to find and feel good things. And no matter how you end, there’s no 100% happy ending.

    A song of ice and fire is the same way, love it because of the devastation.

    Dune was maybe the first thing I got into that I considered said because everything goes wrong for Paul after he gets revenge.

    Blade Runner, same thing (depending on the ending you like!).

    One of the first Spider man comics I read had Peter all beat up from a fight, he goes home to find all his photos are ruined so he has no hope for money, he’s dead broke and when he drinks some milk from the fridge it’s spoiled.

    On the Beach was something I had to convince my father to let me read, that was pretty brutal but as a kid in the 70’s the Apocalypse was reassuring somehow.

  5. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service still gets to me no matter how many times I see it. Also the episode of Futurama dealing with Fry’s nephew (not a dog person so Seymore doesn’t do it for me.)

  6. Well… I have a list of movies for this cathegory. Lost in Translation is in there, maybe Her, but I’m not sure, The Kid and, definetely, Once (wich I’ve watched after my last break up for extra pain). SEE WHAT YOU DID, I’M GONNA GO SEE LOST IN TRANSALTION NOW! And then I have to watch Definitely maybe or garden state so I’ll feel better!

  7. What i like to watch when I want to feel sad is the last episode of the Anime series “And the Town Yet Moves”. After a high schooler girl’s first mystery novel is rejected (it’s unbelievably dreadful) she it hit by a truck and killed. To Hotori’s dismay, Heaven turns out to be a low budget version of bureaucratic Japan at its worst, during the 80s recession. Trying to cheer her up, her Guidance Angel allows her to spy on earth to see how her friends and family are doing, and Hotori begins to realize how much she meant to her companions and family members, and how much of life she is missing out on. Given that the series is a slice-of-life comedy, this episode is strangely touching. Since this is a spoiler site, I might as well reveal that she is given a second chance at life, but when she awakens from her coma, she has no memory of her time in Heaven, and one of the supernatural pranks she played on her best friend boomerangs on her. I always get choked up by this episode. But unlike “Grave of the Fireflies” this anime bears up under repeated watching. Grave of the Fireflies is so depressing that I have never been able to watch it all the way through again.

  8. Once in a blue moon I watch some of season five or six of buffy the vampire slayer. Yellow Crayon speech, or certain Terra episodes choke me up in a cathartic way. I’ve seen Bridge to Terabithia twice and it always gets to me.

    Fables has some issues wich hit me but there is always so much underlying hope involved it isn’t the same catharsis.

    I don’t listen to music which brings me down. I so rarely need the melancholy that I haven’t searched for it outside the tv and movie I cited. I wouldn’t mind a good suggestion.

    • I’ve only seen Bridge to Terabithia twice because I got busy during the second half of it the first time I watched. So when I finally saw the whole thing through, I was pretty much curled up in a ball crying. I can’t even watch promos for it without tearing up.

      And I have trouble watching the last Tara episode. Not long before it aired was when I lost one of my close friends, and it just brings back so many bad memories. At the time the next episode aired, I was actually rooting for Dark Willow to destroy the world.

  9. Somewhere between Owen Pallet and The Mountain Goats, with a touch of Eels’ Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor, that’s where I tend to go for sad. Although, the final episode of XXXHolic always gets me too. Mainly its sad songs, I probably indulge in those way too often.

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