In The Moon By Whale Light by the science and nature writer Diane Ackerman, the author marvels at a mother penguin's ability to recognize her chick's voice amidst the clamor of the rookery... Then, as she cuddles one of the penguin chicks that she has helped to feed and care for, she realizes that she has learned to pick out his voice from all the other birds in the enclosure, and understands that they have imprinted on each other. Awwwwww
In Generation Kill, there's the scene where the Marines of First Recon find themselves helping a group of Iraqi refugees fleeing their city. Considering the chaos and insanity the Marines have dealt with throughout the rest of the war, the chance for the Marines to do something to help these people they've been helpless to assist for the rest of the war is exceptionally moving.
The story behind that video is heartwarming in itself. The grandmother of Juan Mann (The Free Hugs Campaign's creator) died, so the lead singer of the Sick Puppies created that video out of video clips of the Free Hugs campaign and the band's song All The Same and sent it to Juan on a DVD with the message 'This is who you are'.
Danny Wallace has a way of creating these in real life. In each of his solo memoirs, there's at least one:
The very end of Join Me, where it's shown how much his 'cult of kindness' has spread. There's another good one earlier on, too, where he visits his friend Ian, confident that Danny has acquired the last of the 1000 passport photos he needs for completion of his goal...until it turns out that he's one short. Ian responds by pointing out that Danny missed an envelope. Danny opens it...and it contains Ian's own photograph, which he had long refused to give to Danny. There's also the part where Danny buries the box of photographs at his uncle's old plot of land in tribute. Really, the book is itself one big crowning moment of heartwarming, as it shows humanity at its best and kindest.
The book Yes Man is the tale of how Danny decided to spend almost a year saying yes to every opportunity, request, etc. that was given to him. Part way through, he meets a depressed civil servant at a party, who has an inclination to join his brother travelling, but for whatever reason feels unable to do so, feels that he has too much responsibility at a job which is troubling him. Danny, who previously only mentioned his 'yes' policy to Ian for fear of it being used against him, chooses to tell this stranger, Jason of his quest and encourage him to say yes more himself. In response, Jason swears at him and walks off. Not that heartwarming, I know, but later in the book Danny gets a reconciliatory postcard from Jason, who is in Thailand, having decided to go travelling with his brother after all. This inspires Danny to take a risk himself and try to make things work with his Love Interest. He succeeds. Beautiful.
In Friends Like These, he tries to track down twelve of his old schoolfriends. By the time his deadline for the task has come, he has failed. One of the friends died in the intervening years, another refused to meet with him, and one other couldn't be found at all. He throws a housewarming, at which he is greeted by an unfamiliar guest, who turns out to be the friend that refused to meet with him, whom Danny's wife persuaded to come. And she also found the missing friend, Danny's first ever best friend, for him.
Several in various David Sedaris essays, usually regarding his partner Hugh or his mother. His CMOHs still usually manage to be darkly hilarious and sweet at the same time.
The IMAX movie Magnificent Desolation features some interviews with real little kids asking questions about the moon landings. One little girl goes "My name is Veronica, I'm seven years old, and I want to be an astronaut.", while holding up a cute little drawing of a rocketship. At the END of the movie, we see an astronaut standing on a hill on the moon, communicating with others via radio. We see the astronaut bend down to place something on the surface and then see that it's Veronica's drawing. THEN, we hear the other astronauts saying stuff like "X is online" and see lights coming on that indicate that their base is HUGE and probably a permanent settlement. Even if you don't care about the space program one bit, it's touching.
A not-exactly recent episode of the show Cake Boss had Cousin Anthony, the delivery man, get in a minor car accident while delivering a cake. He immediately calls Buddy, the boss, and Buddy comes with three other men to assess the damage. Now, the CMOH comes in when viewerss, with the hindsight of previous episodes where Buddy freaks out at Cousin Anthony for various things, expect to see Buddy freak out at him again. However, instead, it is Mauro and a couple of other guys who freak out, and Buddy actually seems only concerned FIRST about Anthony's safety, then the car, and only then does he look at the cake. This troper awwwwww'd at that moment and continues to awwwww everytime she sees it.
Mythology and Religion
Classical myths tend to have a Downer Endings so often that the occasional happy ending is worth it:
The myth of Admetus and Alcestis. Admetus is a beloved king, and when he is due to die Death agrees to allow him to live if he can find another willing to die in his stead. However, he is unable to find anyone - for all that his subjects love him, they don't love him enough to die for him, with even his father refusing to do it. Finally, believing himself doomed, he returns to his room - to find that his wife, Alcestis, has already agreed to do this, and sure enough, she dies, leaving Admetus alive, but alone. Then Admetus's Hot-Blooded friend Hercules comes along. Not realizing what just happened, Herc feasts, and Admetus humors him and doesn't tell him about his tragedy. When Hercules finally figures out what happened, he is so remorseful at the violation of Sacred Hospitality and is so moved by the story that he beats up Death to save Alcestis' life and bring her back. When Hercules wants to Pet the Dog, he'll beat up The Grim Reaper himself!
The ending of The Odyssey. After twenty years of separation, ten of which were spent fighting in a vicious bloody war and ten of which were spent wandering around the Agean Sea through one hellish experience after another because Posiedon refused to let him go home, Odysseus is finally reunited with his now fully grown son and his beloved wife Penelope, who not only waited for him all those years but refused to remarry until she could be certain her husband was dead. A belated but well deserved happy ending indeed.
Pygmalion: A young sculptor who was so disgusted by the sacred prostitution occuring in Aphrodite's temple he swore never to have anything to do with those priestesses... But a bit later, he sculpted a wonderfully beautiful statue of a young woman, so beautiful he fell in love with it. Of course, he was deeply suffering as he perfectly knew this was hopeless. Except that Aphrodite was so moved by his devotion towards her and by his impossible love that she actually gave life and flesh to the statue. As far as this troper remembers, Pygmalion and his former-statue-now-wife Galatea lived a long and happy life together. And their son Paphos went on to found a kingdom.
Hercules' rescue of Prometheus — it could be seen as one big thank-you on the behalf of humanity to the deity who cares about them the most.
The story of Baucis and Philemon, wherein Zeus and Hermes came to a town to find who would host some hungry and tired travelers. Most of the town refused, but the poor old couple, knowing the rule of Sacred Hospitality (xenia), happily invited the travelers into their humble home and offered them what little they had to eat. After a while, the old couple started to realize that no matter how much they gave their guests, neither food nor drink ever ran out. After this, they realized that their guests must be gods, and they raised their hands in supplication. Zeus and Hermes subsequently turned the rest of the town into a lake and its inhabitants into fish (notunwarranted, as hospitality was really important in the days before hotels and restaurants, not to mention that besides being King of the Gods and the Sky, Zeus was God of Sacred Hospitality, as well) and asked Baucis and Philemon what they wanted. The couple asked to die at the same moment, so that neither should have to die widowed. Zeus not only granted their wish, having them both die at the same time several years later (with their larder always fully stocked as a side benefit), but turned them both into trees with intertwined branches overlooking the beautiful lake. Awww....
From Ovid's The Metamorphoses, comes the story of Iphis and Ianthe. Telethusa's husband had threatened to kill their child if it were born a girl. When Telethusa gives birth to a girl, Iphis, she hides her gender and raises her as a man. When Iphis is betrothed to a girl named Ianthe, Iphis falls deeply in love with Ianthe. Telethusa fears that Iphis's gender would be revealed if the marriage was allowed to happen. Iphis prays to the gods to let two women marry. Isis fulfills her wish and turns Iphis into a man. Iphis and Ianthe marry and live Happily Ever After.
In an old Chinese story called the Painted Eyebrow, there is a woman who is beautiful in all ways except she has a scar instead of an eyebrow because a boy was throwing rocks and accidentally hit her when she was a child. One day when she is grown, a man sees her from a tree and is only able to see the side of her face with the good eyebrow, he uses a go-between to get permission to marry her. The go-between tries to tell him about the eyebrow but is never given the chance. All through her wedding she was afraid of being rejected because of the eyebrow. Once she's married he takes off her veil and sees it, his reaction? He doesn't care, in fact as it turns out he was the one who threw the rock. He paints a fake eyebrow over the scar and nobody ever notices it again. Made especially heartwarming because in Ancient China, most men would go back to the matchmaker and demand a divorce.
In one version of the Japanese myth where Amaterasu goes into hiding this troper read, the gods try everything they can to get her to come out. Finally, one of the goddesses gets a wash tub, turns it upside down, and starts dancing until everyone is clapping and cheering her on. Curious, Amaterasu asks what they are celebrating. The goddess responds that they found a new sun goddess to replace her. Amaterasu refuses to accept this and comes out of the cave...where she sees her reflection in a mirror hung outside. Because she never saw it before, she is stunned by her own beauty long enough for one of the stronger gods to grab hold of her so that she doesn't retreat into the cave. The goddess who danced then admits they could never replace Amaterasu.
In The Mabinogion, King Math ap Mathonwy needs to rest his feet in the lap of a virgin to keep his powers. Unfortunately, his foot-holder Goewin gets raped by his nephew Gwydion (who started a WAR just to make sure Math would be too busy fighting to protect her). Math's response when Goewin tells him what happened, in a time where she'd either be condemned to spinsterhood, left to fend for herself, or forced to marry her rapist? He turns Gwydion and his accomplice into three different animals for a year each, and in the meantime marries Goewin. Because unless they want to die for attacking the queen or saying she lied, nobody in their right minds would try that again.
The Chinese Valentine's Day, or Qixi Festival, which is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, commemorates the legend of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl. The Weaver Girl was the daughter of a goddess, and she fell in love with a mortal cowherd. Her mother was enraged by this, and ordered her to return to heaven. The Cowherd tried to gain entry to heaven to reunite with his love, but the Weaver Girl's mother used her hairpin to scratch a river through the sky (the Milky Way) to separate them forever. But, some magpies took pity on the two separated lovers, and every year, on the 7th day of the 7th month, they build a bridge so the Cowherd and Weaver Girl can be together again for just one night.
The final episode of Red vs. BlueReconstruction. After spending over a hundred episodes hating the Blues simply because command told them to, watching Sarge, Simmons and Grif urging Caboose to get to safety after their own jeep stalls really is something.
Sarge: Go, go, go!
Grif: Don't worry about us, get Epsilon outta here!
Caboose: Okay! I'm scared!
Simmons: Watch where you're going!
(Caboose drives over the cliff, screaming)
Grif: Caboose, no!
In a Meta example: During the Comic Con 2010 Panel, the crew was asked how long they where going to keep on with Red vs Blue. Without a second of thinking, Geoff replied: "How long do you want us to?".
Youtube let's player Pyschadelicsnake's reactions to the endings of Fatal Frames 1, 2, and 3. His ending monologues are amazing, especially considering how he normally comes across as a bit of a Ditz in actual gameplay. The level of immersion and connection he feels towards the three heroines is also incredibly adorable.