What K-drama Ending was the Most Traumatic and/or Tear-inducing, You Still Can’t Get Over it?

This week KBS 1980’s period romance Youth of May wrapped up and perhaps the cheerful posters and seemingly innocent romance setting mislead viewers or the production chose to downplay all the Gwangju Uprising backdrop, the ending was of course T-raumatic with a capital T. That happens, it’s happened to me a lot watching twenty years worth of K-dramas. The early Hallyu ones were notorious for jerking the rug out from under people with mostly the terminal illness plot device but since then it’s evolved and death/separation comes for our OTP and beloved drama characters in newer ways. But even then some K-drama BE (bad ending or the opposite of HE or happy ending) are more traumatic and tear-inducing than others, it’s not all created equal. Some memorable ones for me are of course the OG What Happened in Bali (don’t play mind games with a totally mind-fucked already male lead), Shark (or shall I say Kim Nam Gil in Shark, and earlier in Queen Seondeok and Bad Guy), Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (though that helped I was already once traumatized over by Bu Bu Jing Xin so knew what to expect), Mr. Sunshine (not just a rock but meteor fall down), Seven Days Queen (39 years, really?), Hundred Million Stars Falling From the Sky (also tempered by knowing what to expect), and Uncontrollably Fond (cried so much I got dehydrated). What are yours?


What K-drama Ending was the Most Traumatic and/or Tear-inducing, You Still Can’t Get Over it? — 75 Comments

  1. Pingback: What K-drama Ending was the Most Traumatic and/or Tear-inducing, You Still Can’t Get Over it? - Kpopnchill - All About K-pop News

    • OMG 49 Days wrecked me – I am still devastated and bitter over the ending! Though if I remember right Koala did some great coverage of that drama.

    • I was actually at peace with 49 days since the characters got closure. Just sad the 2 sisters never got to meet as reunited sisters, but I was happy that fate somehow brought them together to change each other’s lives.

      Lookout – to suffer your entire life just to die

      God’s Gift – traumatic and did you really have to do this, male lead?!

  2. My vote for the fucked ending is lovers in paris
    You invested in the drama and in the end its just all imagination of the female lead lmao

  3. Chicago Typewriter. I’m pretty sure I called in sick and cried in bed. Both leads are powerful actors- even though they didn’t have the most crackling chemistry in the modern timeline.

  4. Stairway to heaven, it as my first kdrama and one of the firsts dramas broadcast in South America.
    Iris 1.
    After those dramas I was a little afraid of watching anything else because it was too much suffering and we weren’t used to such a tragic endings in Latin America; on the other hand, the stories were addicting so I kept suffering.

    • I’m Sorry I Love you still makes me weep – so tragic it broke my heart.

      Reply 1988 also really hit me in the feels!

      • same here @KatieKat.Forgot to mention “Snow Queen “but I see some commenters wrote about it.First time I saw Hyun Bin there and was crying for days with the ending.

  5. I watched What Happened in Bali with my mom, and we were stunned by the ending. I was like oh shit, oh shit, how can they leave me like that, since then my mom and I always wait till the final episode is air to see if we will watch or be left flabbergasted once again.

  6. @Ms.Koala

    I think you are actually referring to Uncontrollably Fond, not Warm and Cozy. I have never watched Warm and Cozy but that kind of sad/tear inducing ending not likely penned by Hong Sisters.

    • The Hong Sisters did write a sad ending for Hong Gil-dong (pardon the reminder of that lead actor).

      The ending of Big was also sad in a sense that that was when the Hong Sisters betrayed their fans, lol.

      • I cried OUT LOUD for two days after Hong Gil-dong.
        I had to convince myself that if those characters were real, they would have lived to be 100 in order to get my life back. LOL

  7. Reply 1988 – that drama broke me and I am still not over it.

    and also:
    -Cruel City – I am pretty sure he is supposed to be dead, but the ending was such mind-f***-is-he-dead-or-not?
    -What happened in Bali – but it was such a good satisfying epic ending
    – High Kick Through the Roof – this was a freakin sitcom
    – Bridal Mask – I was sad for Kangto losing the love of his life, but as a watcher kinda glad it happened.
    -Sandglass – this one is THE CLASSIC. and man how it ended still haunts me

    • I second Cruel city, I cried buckets and I felt my heart ripped apart. But I never regreted watching it, it was that good. To this day, hearing joeng kyong ho’s voice makes my heart flutter. Also, hyon soo ya..?

    • YES! to both Cruel City and Sandglass.

      (Sandglass had two endings: the one for the drama itself and the one for Baek Jae-hee. Cried at least a week.)

    • He lived in Cruel City (at least according to the writers). The last scene of the drama shows a guy wearing a trenchcoat with his back turned in some other city, so it was left to the audience to decide if that was him or not. But right after the show finished airing the writers said that the original ending showed him getting a new ID card or the 2nd male lead getting him fake ID for another undercover job or something (it’s been a long time since I read the article). But I guess they decided to leave it more open to decide since it was too much like Time Between Dog and Wolf. But basically he lived.

  8. WTF Ending: Fashion King…I didn’t cry, I just wanted to throw my TV out the window and scream: give me back my time!!!

  9. Bridal Mask was such a good ending but the things that kept happening to Kangto. T_T

    Also 49 Days, such a bittersweet ending.

  10. for me it was Sang Do.. uggggh, the trauma..

    i developed a habit of not watching the last 2 or 4 final eps. i stopped at a happy place, creating the perfect ending and the reason why i dont mind spoilers.

  11. Definitely several you mentioned (Bali, all the Kim Nam Gil, etc…). Also 49 Days, Sang Do, Emperor of the Sea, Hong Gil Dong, Emperor of the Sea, Gaksital, Hwang Jin Yi, Painter of the Wind, Scarlet Heart, Sign, Hymn of Death, That Winter the Wind Blows. Honestly, I now try to avoid the ones that will rip out my soul unless they are sageuks. If I hear a drama has one of those Sang Do endings I’m not watching anymore.

  12. As for me, Scarlet Heart is so traumatizing yet memorable. the OST itself making it more devastated and mood wrecking. I really wanna re-watch Wangso/Hae Soo but yet not ready to start it.

    Something happened in Bali..barely remember the whole story but I do remember me and my niece skipped the finale eps. We finally knew bout the ending from people rants about its ending. but we literally never watch it.

      • My Eyes is so ugly after watching it I don’t dare to open the door and face people, lol..

        I would like to rewatch it. I save it on my HarDisk WIng.

  13. Damo & Memories of Bali. Recent ones include The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, Reply 88 & Memories of Alhambra. MOA, man, that ending was so messed up. Any drama that has the concept of reset sent shivers down my spine. Thank goodness 365 Repeat The Year was ok. This year, I’m stupid enough to watch DAYS till the end to compare how munted the reset ending is. I keep telling myself if I could power through Warm & Cozy, surely I can do the same for DAYS purely for the love of Jeju-do. Lol.

  14. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. Purposely didn’t read up the Japanese original. I didn’t recover till OTP were re-incarnated as Grim Reapers in Abyss. I only watched those two then flicked the off button.

  15. Isn’t Warm and Cozy a Hong sisters drama?? Or is there another one by the same name?

    Chicago Typewriter – though I can’t remember if I had already cried myself dry by the time the ending rolled around.

    I didn’t watch these two – too much of a chicken to do so -but I read their recaps and the recaps alone made me cry buckets:
    I’m Sorry I love You
    The Light in Your Eyes

    If I ever watch them with the acting and music, I would probably get sick from how heartwrenching they are.

  16. I don’t understand how the ending of Warm and Cozy made you cry so much you were dehydrated? Admittedly, I found the entire so soporific I was practically comatose throughout, but I don’t recall a weepy end. I thought it ended “happily”?

    • Koala seems to be referring to Uncontrollably Fond, based on the last image. Incidentally, Kim Woo-bin was first chosen for Warm and Cozy.

      • Thank You! I never watched that one, but at least now I know I hadn’t missed some secret sad ending to the Drama I know as “Dull and Snoozy” 🙂

  17. 49 Days : I felt cheated.
    Bad Guy : it was abrupt and uncessary… (It’s the army’s fault)
    God’s Gift : 14 Days : Whyyyyy?
    The Smile that Left Your Eyes : It was so sad 🙁
    Fashion King : this drama wasn’t good and the end was the same.
    A Korean Odyssey : it was disapointing.
    My Country : It was super sad but so beautiful in the same time.
    The Crowned Clown : Except the end, it was a great drama!

    • A Korean Odyssey – It took me 1 whole year later to watch the last episode. It was good for 19.5 episodes. 🙁

  18. Gu Family Book. I watched the last episode livestrean over an unstable connection (and I could only understand 60-70% of the show without subs). Imagine my shock when, all of a sudden we had a 500+ year timeline jump and I see Kang Chi driving a car, and Yeo Wool didn’t recognise him. I laid off drama for 3 whole years.

  19. So Ji Sub in Glass Slipper. Second male lead was finally going to get his deserved happy ending. Long unrequited love getting fulfilled. But nope.

  20. A Love to Kill – that was plain depressing.
    And actually K2H because killing Shi-kyung was just… that was cruel. So. Effin. Cruel.

  21. I cried:
    – I am sorry I love you – one of the saddest kdrama I have seen.
    – secret garden : not final epi but I cried with HB
    – mouse : I cried for the psycho
    – move to heaven : The brothers’ story is so touching

  22. Bad Guy, the whole ending left me frustrated. It was one of the first Kdramas I watched and I still don’t understand that ending.

  23. Queen Seon Deok for has the biggest crying ending.Since the drama is based on true story, she couldn’t ended with Kim Yu Shin or Bidam. If this wasn’t, the queen should have ended with either or. The last scene when they were in the top of the somewhat plateau and the queen was talking to Yushin, wahhhhh, i and my sister cried our eyes out. Months passed by but still our hearts were still sad.

    Scarlet Heart Ryeo is also heartbreaking. I preferred IU’s role should have ended with Haneul’s role but you know this is about IU and JunKi.

    What Happened In Bali had tragic ending. I hope the writer made a difference with its ending.

  24. Oh well, the first ones will always be the worst in your heart, after you just got used to it. Nowdays I either hardly finish k-dramas or I expect the worst to happen at the end like in Mr. Sunshine. You’ll know how it’s going to end, but it still hard to accept it.

    My most memorable traumatic k-drama ending was in Damo and in Autumn in my heart. Btw, many of MGY’s dramas are like that. That girl likes to cry and run. lol


    I just watch that drama and the ending really make me feel empty. Its really hurt to see Daegil fate after soo many year trying to find Eonyeon. At least make them hug or something (〒﹏〒) He even sacrifice a lot for people around him. I need Daegil appreciation.

  26. Chuno/ Slave Hunter

    Lee Daegil ending always make me sad and feel empty. After so many year he trying to find Eonyeon, he still can’t get her. At least make them hug or something. Poor Daegil Unnie. (〒﹏〒)

  27. K-drama – most recent is Hospital Playlist. Not really the ending per se but the finale episode of Season 1 has two scenes where I cried buckets. The scene at the Obs/Gyn room and the scene of the elderly parents with their cardiac patient son.

    J-drama – 1 Litre of Tears

  28. High kick through the roof: they hated happiness but it was a freaking sitcom
    The smile has left your eyes: it made me cry for two days straight. Just the saddest ending ever
    About time: I still just want my time back.

  29. Moon lovers ( Scarlet heart Ryo) i was so devasted , Fashion king : still don’t understand the end, The smile has left your eyes ( so sad) What happened in Bali ( my first trauma ), East of eden, Reply 1994, Empire of gold, Lookout . and for the ones that turned to be a mess and made me waste my time Marry him if you dare, Black, the 3rd charm, Time,Melting me softly, Abyss, Alice,More than friends, When i was the most beautiful, Cheese in the trap, Triple,

  30. Damo and The Snow Queen. The older dramas did depressing and tear inducing the best imo. WHIB was more wtf than sad for me.

  31. Sad/devastated ending:

    I’m Sorry, I Love You

    A Love to Kill

    Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (also a wtf with that time jump)

    Wtf ending: Arthdal Chronicles (because it’s…..not actually finishing the freaking story! Wtf @Netflix for literally giving us half a drama while pretending like it’s the full thing)

  32. A true actress who stood her ground against seniors and as second lead became one of rage of show. You acting like k media is making her? She has became cf queen and earning dramaa on her right
    Op go stan pathetic showpiece like suzy who had big company backu0
    This girl has bright future and is face of tens of brands and countless offers than any actressss in 20s. She is new queen in making

  33. Cheese in the trap. Took me a while to recover and to this day I find it really frustrating. So much potential wasted.

  34. Memories of Bali shocked me the most… Autumn in My Heart and Stairway to Heaven were crazy sad at the end. Hong Gil Dong was a bit of a shock too at the end… And Fashion King!

  35. YES! to both Cruel City and Sandglass.

    (Sandglass had two endings: the one for the drama itself and the one for Baek Jae-hee. Cried at least a week.)

  36. I don’t think any drama can beat What Happened in Bali. It was so addicting and then, boom!!! I was totally stunned.

  37. But the best ending for me is Memories of Bali. It was so epic. And memorable. I’ve watched most of the ending dramas you mentioned above and some in the comments but still, MoB hits me in the feel. It was a happy sad ending tho. Lol

  38. Rooftop Prince traumatized me. I hated that ending so badly and ruined the whole 16 episode run. It was terrible and I just wanted to scratch the writers eyes out.

    Gu Family Book also broke me. The first two episodes was so beautifully written and acted and was a whole show on its own. I cried buckets and buckets ugly tears on that.

  39. SPOILERS ALERT I guess. Veteran drama watcher here so these are fairly old:

    -Damo- i think this was one of the first dramas I cried over the ending
    -Bali- holy crap this ending was one of the most traumatizing endings to a kdrama to this day. i’ve never recommended this drama to anyone because of that ending
    -Lover’s in Paris- it wasn’t even a sad ending, this ending just made me angry
    -Queen Seon Deok
    -Comrades- i remember my eyes were just raw from crying so much in like the last 3 episodes

    As I got older I learned to just drop dramas so the most recent is Reply 1988 which is crazy because I think this is probably the best drama I’ve ever seen. It’s so touching and outstanding in pretty much every way but the reason I can’t go back to this drama is that the ending pretty much broke me. Pretty much anything after the ‘confession’ scene, I was a bawling mess. I can’t get over Deok Sun not getting together with the person I considered the actual male lead. My heart physically broke after that confession scene and right at the end when Deok Sun is reminiscing about the neighborhood.

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