Nicholas Sparks has become king of the novels that feature weepy love stories—which he is quick to point out is very different from romance novels. As Sparks himself says, romance novels are "trite" and "fantastical," while love stories are realistic. In the goal of reaching realism with his stories, Sparks uses tragedy, which is how many love stories often end.
With that in mind, the long list of movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels is almost always seeped with tragedy—even down to the most depressing endings imaginable. With death and illness, or at least a bittersweet end, a Sparks' movie will almost always leave the viewer in tears. Here is a look at the 10 most sob-inducing Nicholas Sparks movies, ranked.
10 The Last Song
Nicholas Sparks was such a known commodity that his 2009 novel The Last Song was commissioned as a movie before he even started writing it. Miley Cyrus wanted a vehicle to promote her acting career as a pop star similar to how A Walk to Remember helped launch Mandy Moore's acting career.
What resulted was a Nicholas Sparks movie that was panned by critics mostly due to Miley Cyrus' performance. The film stars Cyrus as troubled teenager Ronnie who sets out to reconcile with her terminally ill father (Greg Kinnear) and falls for a local boy (Liam Hemsworth).
9 Safe Haven
Safe Haven is a 2013 Nicholas Sparks movie based on a book he published in 2010. The film stars Julianne Hough as a woman in possession of a bloody knife who flees her home in Boston and goes into hiding in a small town of Southport, North Carolina under the name Katie. While there, she meets a widowed father named Alex (Josh Duhamel) and the two fall in love.
However, things are not right as a Boston police detective is looking for a woman named Erin, who he claims is wanted for first-degree murder. When Alex learns that Katie is Erin, he agrees to protect her and keep her safe. It turns out the Boston cop is Katie's abusive husband, and everyone in Southport is in danger.
8 The Choice
Released in 2016, The Choice is based on a Nicholas Sparks novel from 2007 about two neighbors who fall in love. The movie has a lesser known cast from many of Sparks' films, with Benjamin Walker portraying veterinarian Travis who meets and falls in love with his neighbor, a medical student named Gabby, portrayed by Teresa Palmer.
After marrying, Gabby ends up in an auto accident and winds up in a coma. Travis has to decide whether to remove her from life support or wait it out and see if she recovers.
7 Dear John
Released in 2010, Dear John is a Nicholas Sparks movie based on the novel released in 2006. Channing Tatum stars in the film as Staff Sergeant John Tyree, a soldier fighting in the war in Afghanistan in 2003 who is shot and, as he lies on the ground, he remembers a young woman he met in 2001.
That woman is Savannah (Amanda Seyfried), who John met when he was on leave in South Carolina. Savannah was a college student building homes for Habitat for Humanity. The two fall for each other and promise to continue writing to each other after John is deployed.
6 Nights of Rodanthe
Based on the novel released in 2002, Nights in Rodanthe is a Nicholas Sparks movie released in 2008 starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane. Lane stars as Adrienne, a woman whose estranged husband wants to reconcile and whose daughter rebels when her mother said she needs time to think. Adrienne takes a small trip to Rodanthe, North Carolina for a weekend to consider things.
While there, she meets a guest at the bed and breakfast she is looking after named Paul (Gere), a surgeon with his own problems. After they both bond and fall in love, Adrienne convinces Paul to go and reconcile with his estranged son, and, as with all Nicholas Sparks movies, a tragedy occurs and leaves Adrienne buried in grief.
5 The Longest Ride
Based on the novel released in 2013, The Longest Ride is a Nicholas Sparks movie that came out in 2015 and starred Scott Eastwood as professional bull rider Luke Collins. After a severe injury that left him on the sidelines for a year, he starts to ride again and meets a girl named Sophia (Britt Robertson).
The two ends up saving an older man involved in an accident (Alan Alda), and Sophia starts to visit the man regularly in the hospital. The man then tells her the story of the love of his life and how they made things work despite hardships along the way, and the story parallels Sophia and Luke's relationship.
4 The Best Of Me
Nicholas Sparks published The Best of Me in 2011, and the movie hit theaters in 2014. Like most of Spark's novels, it was an almost immediate acquisition, as Warner Bros. gained the rights the same year the book hit stores. In some trivia, Paul Walker was supposed to star until he died and The Notebook star James Marsden took his place.
The movie tells the story of Dawson (Marsden) and Amanda (Michelle Monaghan), with the timeline moving from their relationship in 1992 and then moving into the future where the two had not seen each other in 21 years, reunited after the death of a common friend.
3 Message In A Bottle
The first Nicholas Sparks movie made based on his books came in 1999 with Message in a Bottle. The film was based on the second novel of his career, released in 1998, and starred Robin Wright as a news reporter named Theresa who set out to find the person who wrote a mysterious love letter sent out to sea in a bottle.
Her investigation leads her to a man named Garrett (Kevin Costner), and she publishes them in her newspaper, launching her career. When Garrett approaches her about the letters, he learns there was a third letter, which was not written by him, but by the woman he loved before she died.
2 A Walk To Remember
Released in 2002, A Walk to Remember was the movie that turned Mandy Moore into a major movie star. Based on the 1999 novel, the film had Shane West portraying a rebellious teen named Landon who got into trouble when a prank caused a serious injury to another student. He is forced to choose from several projects to avoid expulsion, and one of them is participating in a school play.
It is in this play that he meets Moore's Jamie, the daughter of a local minister. The two fall for each other but Jamie does not want a relationship. When they finally start to date, that is when she tells Landon that she has leukemia and the two marry before she dies.
1 The Notebook
The first book that Nicholas Sparks ever wrote was The Notebook in 1996. In 2004, Nick Cassavetes turned it into the best movie based on anything Sparks ever wrote. The film stars James Garner as Noah, a man who reads journals to Allie (Gena Rowlands) in a nursing home every day.
It turns out the stories he is reading is their love story, and Allie has dementia but made Noah promise to always read her the journals to keep their love alive—even if only for a short time. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams portray the young Noah and Allie in the flashbacks to their love story. When the two die together holding hands at the end, there isn't a dry eye in the house.