Top ten ‘divorce’ movie characters

by Carolyn on September 25, 2009

I got this idea from Avitable.  I loved his top ten movie characters and I lamented in a comment that my blog wasn’t ‘cool’ enough to do the same.  His reply was, “Do it!”  So I thought long and hard about how I could approach my own top ten while keeping with the theme of divorce and I came up with this.  My ten favorite movie characters who are either divorced parents or children of divorce.

Juno MacGuff (Juno, 2007)


A sharp tounged and sarcastically charming teenager facing an unplanned pregnancy; who is also a child of divorce.  I love the relationship that is shown between her and her father and stepmother.  The scene at the end with her and her stepmother in the hospital as she’s laboring models how positive this relationship can be (pretty rare for main stream media!).

Favorite Quote:

Juno: You should’ve gone to China, you know, ’cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events.

Frank Abagnale Jr. (Catch Me If You Can, 2002)


After running away to escape having to choose between his parents, Frank lives by his wits and uncanny ability to forge, counterfeit and hustle.  It’s amazing that this movie is actually based on true life events.

Favorite Quote:

Abagnale Jr: Do you concur?
Doctor: Concur? Concur with what?
Abagnale Jr:With what he just said.
Doctor: Well, the boy fell off his bike…he told us that.
Abagnale Jr: Well then I can see you don’t need me here. Good work, men. (walks away.)
Doctor: Damn it, why didn’t I concur?

Jackie Harrison (Stepmom, 1998)


A loving mother but jealous ex wife, Jackie comes to grips with her husband’s much younger wife.  I like how in this movie, the birth mom is the one doing underhanded things in her struggle to accept another co-parent.  It also shows how kids can get caught up in loyalty binds.  The ending is sappy, but touching as well.

Favorite Quote:

Isabel: Look down the road to her wedding. I’m in a room alone with her, fixing her veil, fluffing her dress, telling her no woman has ever looked so beautiful. And my fear is she’ll think, “I wish my mom were here.”
Jackie Harrison: And my fear is… she won’t.

Brad (Four Christmases, 2008)


I’m not sure if this movie could be really appreciated by people who aren’t grown children of divorce.  But trust me, it’s story line is like every acod’s fantasy and nightmare come true.  I especially loved the scenes of Brad at his father’s house.  Mistletoe!!

Favorite Quote:

Brad: You can’t spell ‘Families’ without ‘lies’, try it.

Holly (P.S. I love you, 2007)


A grown up child of divorce who has just lost the love of her life to cancer.  I love how her mother struggles to share her experience as Holly refuses to equate losing a mate to death with being abandoned.

Favorite Quote:

Patricia: You know the worst thing for a parent… second after losing a child? Watching your child head for the same life you had. You can’t stop it. It’s a terrible, helpless feeling. Makes you angry all the time. And I’ve been angry. For a very long time. I’m exhausted.
Holly Kennedy:
Do you think we’ll ever see dad again?
No sweetheart, never. So you have to stop waiting.

Chris Gardner (The Pursuit of Happyness, 2006)


Based on a  true story.  After his wife leaves him, Chris struggles to care for his son and enter a new career as a stock broker.

Favorite Quote:

Christopher Gardner: I met my father for the first time when I was 28 years old. I made up my mind that when I had children, my children were going to know who their father was.

June Carter (Walk the Line, 2005)


Watching Cash’s marriage crumble in this film is difficult.  But I loved June’s character and how they depicted her hesitation to really commit, being a single mom herself.  Another great movie based on actual events, highlighting one of our culture’s most memorable and romantic love stories.

Favorite Quote:

June Carter: My problem is that it’s 2 A.M. My problem is I’m asleep. I’m on a tour bus with eight stinkin’ men. Rule number one: Don’t propose to a girl on a bus, you got that? Rule number two: Don’t tell her it’s because you had a bad dream.

Juliet Hulme (Heavenly Creatures, 1994)


Talk about putting a kid teetering on the edge insanity right over into crazy land!  After hearing the news that her parents were divorcing, Juliet learns that she will be moving to another continent with her father.  Her best friend Pauline wants to go with her but is told she won’t be permitted to go.  In response, the girls conspire to kill Pauline’s mother and actually carry out the deed.  Frightening and dark yet fascinating to watch.

Favorite Quote:

Juliet Hulme: Affairs are much more exciting than marriages. [Then, with disgust] As Mummy can testify.

Andie Walsh (Pretty in Pink, 1986)


Love her.  Need I say more?  (And I think I listened to the soundtrack so many times that I actually wore my cassette tape out! Gee…now I’m dating myself.)

Favorite Quote:

Andie: I’m going to go. I’m not sad about it. I’m not hurt. I mean, you know, I am hurt, a little bit. But I know if I don’t do it I’ll just feel a lot worse. I’m just going to go in. I’ll walk in, walk out, and come home. I just want to let them know that they didn’t break me.

Marcus (About a Boy, 2002)


A quiet and rather subtle movie with and an endearing character.  Marcus is the son of a suicidal single mother who finds camaraderie and a father figure in a single, unattached man.

Favorite Quote:

Marcus (referring to his family): Suddenly I realized – two people isn’t enough. You need backup. If you’re only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you’re on your own. Two isn’t a large enough number. You need three at least.

Honorable Mention

Carol Connelly (As Good as It Gets, 1997) “When you first entered the restaurant, I thought you were handsome… and then, of course, you spoke.”

Ray Boyd (Jerry Maguire, 1996) “D’you know that the human head weighs 8 pounds?”

Erin Brockovich (Erin Brockovich, 2000) “I don’t need pity, I need a paycheck. And I’ve looked. But when you’ve spent the past six years raising babies its real hard to find somebody who pays worth a damn, are ya getting every word of this down honey or am I talking too fast?”

Birdee Pruitt (Hope Floats, 1998) “You and Connie deserve each other. You were lucky to have me. But you know what? I think I already got the best part of you. And she’s standing right out there, and she’s waiting for me. I don’t know… what’s left just doesn’t look so good anymore.”

Elliott (E.T., 1982) “Dad would believe me.”

Well, there you have it.  My ten favorite movie characters who’ve lived through divorce.  I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together.  So, what do you think?  Did I miss any good ones?  What would make your list?


{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Avitable September 26, 2009 at 1:04 am

I haven’t seen half of these movies! The ones I’ve seen, though, are great examples.
.-= Avitable´s last blog ..My Review of Surrogates =-.


2 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Thanks Avitable. I’m glad you approve. :)


3 La Bell Mere September 26, 2009 at 4:13 am

Love it! It’s great when you can really relate to the characters in a film.

Trouble is it’s not so good when its from the opposite viewpoint!!!
I watched the First Wives Club the other day and it drove me NUTS!!! :-D

LBM xxxxx
.-= La Bell Mere´s last blog ..Knowing the REAL truth. Part Deux. =-.


4 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 2:02 pm

I’m sure it did LBM! Too funny.


5 Holly September 26, 2009 at 8:51 am

Happy Saturday Sharefest! Just stopping by from SITS to say hello. I love all of those movies! I am a move addict and have seen so many :)


6 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Thanks for stopping by Holly! I love movies too. But I’ve found since I had kids I don’t see anywhere near as many as I used to.


7 Liz McLachlan September 26, 2009 at 9:10 am

Excellent character choices. When you sent the prompt to post favorite movies, one that came to mind were Parenthood – I loved watching Diane Keaton’s character evolve as a single mom after her jerk of a husband left her and the kids. First Wives Club – because you know this is so true. I also like Jerry Maguire because Renee Zellweger’s character is like so many of the single mom’s I know (minus Tom Cruise before he did the whole jumping on Oprah’s couch thing!). Great idea!
.-= Liz McLachlan´s last blog ..It’s Time to Fall =-.


8 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Great additions, Liz! I was thinking of Parenthood myself, but I couldn’t remember it clearly enough to include it. I also added the kid from Jerry Maguire in my ‘honorable mentions’. I probably could have split this list into a top ten divorced children characters and divorced parent characters.


9 Tammy September 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Great post Carolyn and amazing choices of movies.


10 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Thanks Tammy!


11 Maricris of Zen MamaVentures September 26, 2009 at 9:12 pm

I just got reminded that I wanted to watch Happyness & never got to. Thank you. Now back to the topic, what sad is that most of these movies are actually happening in real life now. Not sure if it’s influenced by the movies we see or vice versa.


12 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm

The whole question of whether life imitates art or art imitates life is a good one. I think it’s a little of both. Divorce is strung through tons of movies because it’s so embedded in our society. If we saw a movie where everyone’s parents were still married it just wouldn’t seem realistic, would it?

Thanks for stopping by!


13 Amber September 27, 2009 at 12:50 am

I love most of these movies.

Stepmom never fails to make me laugh. One of my fave quotes is, “You look tired.” And then Susan Sarandon says, “I hate when people say that. It’s just a polite way of saying that you look like sh*t.”
.-= Amber´s last blog ..When You Live With A Two Year Old… =-.


14 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 2:08 pm

That is an awesome quote. And so true! Thanks for commenting, Amber!


15 Amanda September 27, 2009 at 8:23 am

What about Bella Swan from the Twilight movie (and of course novel). Her whole reason for moving to live with her Dad was so her Mum could go travel with her Stepdad. I love the way she rebuilds her relationship with her dad.


16 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I know! I can’t believe I didn’t include her. I loved the relationship she had with her father too.


17 One Sassy Girl September 27, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I LOVE Juno… but then who doesn’t? But I can’t stand Holly from PS I Love You. Partly because she seemed so helpless and self-sabotaging (though she fixes that in the end) but also because Gerard Butler couldn’t use his hotness to cover up that bunk Irish accent. Having dated an Irishman, I couldn’t get over it. I hate when I let myself ruin cute movies. So really, I guess I’m okay with Holly and annoyed with myself ;)


18 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 10:10 pm

Sassy, you kill me.


19 Yaya September 27, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Juno is my favorite movie. I cry at the end every time.
.-= Yaya´s last blog ..VGNO Heart-Shaped Rock Project =-.


20 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Me too! I cry even just thinking about it. When you see Juno’s note framed above the baby’s crib…see? I’m welling up right now.


21 Theta Mom September 27, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Pretty in Pink was the best! Great movies. Catch Me if You Can and The Pursuit of Happyness…simply awesome.
.-= Theta Mom´s last blog ..Dr. Brown Proves I Have the BEST Followers =-.


22 Carolyn September 27, 2009 at 10:11 pm

I wanted to be Molly Ringwald when I was a teenager. :D


23 Pollyanna September 28, 2009 at 1:54 pm

This is awesome! I think I need to do something similar. Hmmm, top 10 optimistic or top 10 pessimistic movie characters of all time???

Seriously, I’m a child of divorce too. It’s hard to accept that it defines us, but even if our parents had stayed together that would have defined us as well. Danged if you do, danged if you don’t :)
.-= Pollyanna´s last blog ..I Feel Bloggin’ Awesome =-.


24 Carolyn September 28, 2009 at 10:29 pm

I hear ya! Thanks for stopping by Pollyanna!


25 Kelly September 28, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Great list! A few of these I have not seen, but About a Boy is one of my all time favorites. When I think of divorce, I always think of Mrs. Doubtfire. That movie came out right when my aunt and uncle got divorced and my cousins were having such a hard time. The movie reminded me so much of their family.
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..Never Happier =-.


26 Carolyn September 28, 2009 at 10:30 pm

I remember seeing Mrs. Doubtfire for the first time. So funny. And sad.


27 Sassy Chica September 28, 2009 at 3:34 pm

What a great list…loved most of these movies!

Sassy Chica


28 Carolyn September 28, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Thanks Chica!


29 WhiteSockGirl September 29, 2009 at 6:15 am

I love the list but my fave is without a doubt the quote from Erin Brockovich. Julia Roberts had some sharp lines in that movie!!
.-= WhiteSockGirl´s last blog ..My Addiction: Big Brother Africa =-.


30 Carolyn September 29, 2009 at 10:05 pm

I know! I loved her through and through in that one.


31 Tammy September 29, 2009 at 6:38 am

Confession time (unrelated to your post…) – I followed you quite a while back – AS MY DAUGHTER!!! (long stupid story). Following as ME now, so I’ll actually get your updates. Sheesh.

Fun post! I’ve only seen a few of those movies…
.-= Tammy´s last blog ..By Any Other Name =-.


32 Carolyn September 29, 2009 at 10:05 pm

That’s funny, Tammy. Well, I’m glad you’ll be by more! I have really enjoyed reading your posts too.


33 Angelia Sims September 29, 2009 at 7:25 am

Hi Carolyn!
Wow, it really makes you think about how many divorce movies are out there! The first divorce movie I ever saw….Kramer vs Kramer with Dustin Hoffman.(dating myself too!) I was little but I remember it had a profound effect. Pretty in Pink was definitely a favorite. Great picks!
.-= Angelia Sims´s last blog ..Timely moments =-.


34 Carolyn September 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Kramer vs Kramer is an epic divorce movie and one that I think we all (who are old enough) think of when we think of the topic. Thanks for stopping by Angelia.


35 Peggy September 29, 2009 at 11:50 am

Hi Carolyn!

I’ve seen some of these movies…and now I need to see “Families” just because of that great line you posted…HYSTERICAL!

I remember when I saw Stepmom. I thought the girl was over the top snotty and then wondered, “was I like that?” (The ending was too convenient…sure wish Hollywood would nix convenience for reality)

And what that little boy said about needing more than two in case one goes off the deep end – couldn’t be more truer in the lives of my daughters and for my stepkids. But at least in the case of my stepkids, their mom is finding her way back to shore :-)
.-= Peggy´s last blog ..The Beat of a Different Drum =-.


36 Carolyn September 29, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Hey Peggy! Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you liked the quotes. The ‘families’ and ‘lies’ line was definitely one to remember. I love the one from About a Boy too.


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