10+ Sad Movies That Fans Forget Are Based On True Stories

Real-life events have long inspired Hollywood films.

While obvious movies such as the Titanic or Schinder's List come to mind, that's not all.

There are many other movies based on true stories that involve harrowing subjects, such as serial killers, genocides, and kidnappings.

Here are 10+ sad movies fans might forget are based on true stories.

*Into the Wild*

The true story may sound unreal, but Christopher McCandless really did give away his college fund to go live in the wild.

Sadly, he ended up dying from starvation after a river blocked his way out.


The true story of this film is tragic.

Several young boys were kidnapped and murdered between the years 1926 and 1928. In the end, the crimes were discovered to have been committed by ranch owner Gordon Stewart Northcott.

*Gorillas In The Mist*

The tragic true story goes like this: American zoologist Dian Fossey spent almost two decades doing research on gorillas in Rwanda.

Sadly, she was murdered in 1985 — a case that is still unsolved.

*The Iceman*

Richard Leonard, also known as "The Polack" and "The Iceman," was a cold-blood murderer for three decades.

Thing is, he hid his job as a mafia hitman from his family. In the end, he claimed to have killed between 100 and 250 people.

*Eat Pray Love*

Eat, pray, and love is exactly what writer Elizabeth Gilbert did after her marriage to her husband crumbled.

Reeling from the divorce, she traveled to the countries in the film in hopes of healing and finding herself again.

*Hotel Rwanda*

The 2004 film tells the story of the Rwandan genocide, which took place in 1994.

The hero's film, Paul Rusesabagina, is a real man who saved the lives of more than 1,200 people from the genocide that wiped out 20 percent of the country's population.


The movie about a group of strippers who scheme rich men out of their money actually happened.

Four hustlers Samantha Barbash, Roselyn Keo, Karina Pascucci, and Marsi Rosen, were charged with larceny, assault, conspiracy, and forgery.

*Lost Girls*

The Netflix film is based on the true story of one mother's search to find her missing escort daughter, Shannan Gilbert.

Tragically, her body was eventually discovered a year later by police. The mother makes it her mission to advocate for other missing sex workers.

*Mississippi Burning*

The drama is loosely based on the real-life murders of three American civil rights workers in 1964.

They had been advocating for the rights of African Americans to vote when they were shot and killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan.


The biopic follows the story of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes meeting and falling in love.

In both the movie and real-life, Plath struggled with depression and tragically offed herself in the end.

*Out Of Africa*

The movie is based on the memoir of Isak Dinesen who spent 17 years living and working on a coffee plantation in Kenya.

During those 17 years, she had an affair with Finch Hatton, who ended up dying in a plane crash.


To this day, the infamous Zodiac killer hasn't been found. He is a serial killer who sent taunting letters to the police during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

He claimed that he took the lives of 37 people.

*A Royal Affair*

Royal wedding scandals are more than real.

For Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, she was embroiled in scandal when she married her cousin. After it was discovered that she had an affair with a physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, she was exiled while he was executed.

*The Girl in the Box*

The true story behind this movie is devastating.

Between the years of 1977 and 1984, Colleen Stan was kidnapped and held as a sex slave by Cameron and Janice Hooker in their home. She spent a lot of time in captivity in a box under their bed.

*The Strangers*

The horror film about a couple who are terrorized by strangers is based on the true murders by members of the Manson Family in Los Angeles.

They broke into the home of actress Sharon Tate’s home and brutally murdered her and several others.

*The Bling Ring*

The movie retells the story of a group of teenagers who broke into several celebrities' homes. They were called the Bling Ring.

They ended up breaking into the homes of celebs, such as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Megan Fox, and Rachel Bilson.

*The Exorcism of Emily Rose*

The film follows the true story of Father Richard Moore who was charged for the negligent homicide of Emily Rose during an exorcism.

The movie was based on Anneliese Michel, who actually had a seizure condition all along.

*The Pursuit of Happyness*

The movie is based on the book by Chris Garner. He went through many obstacles in life, including living on the streets with his young son, before achieving success. This rag-to-riches story ended with him becoming a millionaire.

*In This Corner of the World*

The movie may be animated, but it follows the true story of how World War II impacted the Japanese community.

The film is known for bringing viewers to tears since it's not easy seeing children living in a war-torn location.