Well, you see, that never technically happened and we prefer not to think about *sniffle* it...
When something can make you cry the first time you watch it, when you have next-to-zero knowledge of the epic love story and heartbreak that came before...damn, that's some great writing and acting. Of course, after you have aforementioned knowledge-well, just pass the bucket to hold my tears, please.
Buffy(crying): "I'll never forget...I'll never forget..."
I was doing fine, FINE DAMMIT, until that moment when Buffy becomes hysterical at the idea of only having one more minute with Angel as his human self and he begs her not to cry. Anyone who's broken up with someone they were still in love with should be BANNED from this episode.
Even worse is the Reality Subtext of that scene: Sarah Michelle Gellar was a strong advocate of the "Buffy and Angel are soulmates" perspective, and as such the tears in that scene are real, because she had a breakdown upon realizing how close the two had gotten to a Happily Ever After. At one point, you can even hear David Boreaniz call Buffy "Sarah" because of how distraught she was filming the scene.
Kate baring her soul to her father in "Sense and Sensitivity". Sadly, he was not affected. It's a long speech, but it deserves to be told in full:
"He forgot how to be anything but a cop a long time ago. And maybe - maybe that's-that's why I became a cop, too. After Mom died, you stopped, you know. It was like you couldn't stand the sight of me. Her face, her eyes looking up at you. But big girls don't cry, right? You said, gone's gone and there's no use wallowing. Worms and dirt and nothing, forever. Not one word about a better place. You couldn't even tell a scared little girl a beautiful lie. God, I wanted to drink with you. I wanted you to laugh once with me, the way you laugh with Jimmy here, or Frank . . . My best friend, Joanne, her mom was soft and she smelled like macaroni and cheese and she would - she would pick me up on her lap and she'd rock me. She said she wanted to keep me for herself, that I was good and sweet. Everybody said I was. Do you realize that you've never told me that I'm pretty? Not once in my life?"
Angel (interrogator): Big question. What do I want? (Thinks) Love - family - a place on this planet I can call my own.
All of which he gets...and then is promptly robbed of.
From "Five by Five:"
Faith:"I'm bad! I'm evil! I'm bad, I'm bad! Angel you hear me, I'm bad! Angel, please... Angel, please just do it. Please, Angel, just do it. Kill me. Please, Angel, just kill me."
And then Angel holds her as she sobs with remorse and self-hatred and the rain lashes at them both.
It's a powerful enough moment to move Wesley to tears when he sees her. Keep in mind that Wesley was coming to kill Faith for torturing him nearly to death at that moment, and even he stops and is moved by it.
Again with Faith in the next episode, "Sanctuary", after Buffy tracks her down in Los Angeles:
Faith: Buffy, I'm sor-
Buffy: Apologize to me, and I will beat you to death.
Faith:[very quietly] Go ahead.
And then later, we have this:
Faith: You have no idea what it's like on the other side! Where nothing's in control, nothing makes sense! There is just pain and hate and nothing you do means anything!
Even Lorne gets a heartbreaking scene at the beginning of "Underneath," when he's reading the bartender at the bar where he's drowning his sorrows.
This troper is now tearful just from reading this. Thank you, fellow tropers!
Oh, we're just getting started.
And then this. The demon-king grieves.
Illyria: Wesley's dead. I'm feeling grief for him. I can't seem to control it.
Personally, it's the fact that he asks her to lie to him. This is after demanding that she never do such a thing again after she did so earlier. But for his last moments, he wanted the lie.
What makes this troper beside himself is the way Fred was depicted. She needed saving at the start, but was perfectly capable of saving others when she recovered. She was a geek, and proudly so. She was cute and pretty, not sexed up to the extent other female characters on the show could be. She overate. She was shy. She was innocent without being naive. She was the ultimate geek girl, designed to tug at the heartstrings of the target audience. Of course Joss made her to die horribly. It was the whole point of her character.
This troper always finds insane people who know they're insane and wish they weren't to be quite saddening, in any shape or form. Fred happens to be one of those people, and she gets two of these. (1) is the scene in Hearthrob where she's refused to leave her room in the months since she was rescued out of Pylea, and is writing "listen," over and over on the walls. When asked, she tells Angel she's listening for a "click" that would come when everything made sense again, but she doesn't know what to do if she runs out of wallspace before she gets the click. Making the scene more heart-tugging is Angel's obvious concern and disappointment as he realizes that her mental state has apparently gotten worse since Pylea. (2) is the breakdown when her parents find her at the bus station, and she is forced to accept that her five years in a hell dimension were 100% real, not just something she made up. Also, the other reason she was trying to run away from them? She didn't want them to see that she'd gone crazy. "If you see what they made of me..." Sob.
And her poor parents... not knowing if she was even alive for five years, finding out she was, NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND HER, and then once they do, they don't know what happened- just that she doesn't want to see them, wondering if she doesn't remember them, and hearing how their daughter had "awful things happen to her". Fred's mom hugging her and telling her, "It doesn't matter what they did to you! You're still my little girl! I'll make it all better!" just makes me choke up every time.
Angel forgiving Judy and staying with her until she dies in "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been".
"Carpe Noctem" where Fred just completely and utterly breaks down after she sees who she thinks to be Angel all over Lilah. As soon as Lilah came in I knew that this scene was coming, and it still managed to be one of the few television experiences to make me cry.
Cordelia's farewell. "Oh, and you're welcome." Bawl.
Don't forget this heart-breaking scene from "That Vision Thing." Dear god, is Cordy in pain.
Cordy: Am I a bad person? Am I just a horrible person? Because I know I can be snippy sometimes.
Angel: This isn't happening because you're bad - If anything it's because you're strong. Stronger than you realize.
Cordy: "I'm not - I know what I said earlier - But I don't want the visions anymore. I tried to be brave. I did. But I'm just scared now. I'm scared all the time. (Does her best not to cry) I mean look at me!
When Angel is *this close* to staking Darla, then he feels the baby's heartbeat. He backs up, staring at her belly and Darla flips the hell out.
DARLA: Do it! Do it! Make it stop! (Angel pins her arms to her sides and pulls her up against his chest.)
ANGEL: No it won't, Darla. Darla, listen to me.
DARLA: Make it stop! Make it stop.
ANGEL: The child. The child has a heartbeat. It has a soul.
DARLA: No! Not my child! No!
ANGEL: Our child. Our child. Our child. That's why you've been craving purer and purer blood. That's why it's been driving you out of your mind. It has a soul!
DARLA: (sobbing) No, it doesn't.
ANGEL: It does.
DARLA: It can't.
ANGEL: Yes, it does. It does.
When Darla stakes herself in a moment of Heroic Sacrifice to give birth to Connor.
The worst part of her sacrifice is one of the reasons why she was so willing to do it: She realized that the only reason she loves her baby is because his soul is inside of her... at least, while she's pregnant. She breaks down because she realizes that the soul will go away when the baby is born:
Darla: Angel, I don't have a soul. It does, and right now, that soul is inside of me. But soon, it won't be, and then-
Darla: ...I won't be able to love it. (begins sobbing) I won't even be able to remember that I loved it. And I wanna remember! (breaks down in Angel's arms)
And then later, Darla, completely broken, makes sure of something from Angel:
Darla: ...You won't let me hurt it, will you? You'll protect it, right? From me, I mean?
The flashback scene where Holtz kills Sarah, his five-year-old-daughter-turned-vampire. At the start of the scene, Sarah is cowering in a corner to avoid the sunlight. Holtz comes over, picks her up, and throws her outside where she burns up.
Summer Glau's breakthrough performance in "Waiting in the Wings".
I don't dance. I echo.
For me, all of the above, plus, the season four finale: Angel looking in at the happy, laughing Connor with his different family. That expression on his face, of love and bitter bitter pain...not that I'm tearing up just thinking about it or anything. Damn you and your incredible writing skills combined with a tendency towards ruthlessness towards your characters, Joss. The only show I ever cried at before yours was Babylon 5, and you made a regular waterworks out of me.
It gets so much worse rewatching Season 3 after you've seen that scene. I started sobbing at Angel's hockey speech in "Loyalty" exactly because I knewhe would never get to see any of that, but Connor's fake parents would.
Angel: I know it's a little bit too early to be thinking about stuff like this, but I -I can't wait to watch him, you know, grow up. For him to lose his first tooth. Learn how to ride a bike. Ha. I want to help him pick out a tux for his senior prom. I just can't wait to see who he's gonna to be. I know it's mushy, but it's just... He makes me so happy.[ ... ] I think Connor? He's gonna be center, you know?
That episode is full of painful speeches.
Angel: It scares me. You know? If anything like that ever happened to Connor, I don't know what I'd...I love my son.
Wes: Love can be a terrible thing.
Angel: I used to think that. I thought love was—something that swallowed you whole, ripped you up inside, but, you know, what I feel for Connor, even that fear...Wes, it's-—it's not terrible. It's beautiful.
Hell, it gets so much worse rewatching it as soon as we realize that Connor isn't coming back. You're watching Angel at his happiest, only now it's with a heaping dose of Foregone Conclusion and instead of the intended Heartwarming all you feel is pain.
The end of "Sleep Tight," when Angel has to let Holtz take Connor in order to keep him away from Wolfram and Hart, and then Holtz runs into the portal to Quor-Toth, sealing it behind him and leaving Angel lying on the ground, crying for his son.
While everyone else just walks away.
Commander: Should we do something about... (indicates Angel, still staring in shock at where the portal used to be)
Lilah: (looks back at Angel) Yes, we should. We should let him suffer.
And consider what Connor meant to Angel: aside from being Angel's son, he represented everything that was good. He proved to Angel that past be damned, Angel could literally create something with a soul. He made Darla feel love. He was someone that Angel could raise to be truly good, a chance for Angel to prove himself as something more than the monster people remembered. Connor was a major step on Angel’s road to repentance—and then he was gone and there went Angel’s redemption, quite literally into Hell. And when Connor came back, he’d been shaped into a monster himself. A monster intent on killing his father. Oh, Angel…
Bonus: Look at Angel’s face in the Buffy episode “Bad Eggs” when he tells Buffy that vampires can’t have children. There is pain in those puppy-dog eyes. And remember one of the reasons he gives for breaking up with Buffy in “The Prom:” She should find a man who can have children with her. Buffy is askance at that bit (“I killed my goldfish!”), but Angel holds firm. This vampire actively wants kids. And then, within the space of a few episodes, Angel a)learns that he’s going to have a son, b) proves himself to be an amazing (and fairly dorky dad, and c)proceeds to lose his son to treachery, bad parenting in a Hell dimension, and for-Connor’s-own-good memory wiping.I dare you to say that that type of pain didn’t finish the atonement job. Oh, Angel…
So, what happened between the end of "Sleep Tight" and the beginning of "Forgiving?" Angel did have to get home. And tell the others what had happened...
I always found the scene in "Double or Nothing" where Angel starts dismantling Connor's cot to be one of the saddest moments ever in a TV series.
This troper held it together from “Sleep Tight” right through the above scene. And then this conversation happened:
Angel: (finds a snowglobe he’d bought for Connor) Don't know why I bought this for him. A whim, I guess... Thought he'd like to look at it. The snow. Doesn't ever snow in Southern California.
Cordy: Did, once.
That couldn't have been the first time Angel thought he'd finished putting away Connor's things and then found something lurking under a couch cushion or somewhere.
Remember what Spike told Buffy, about how every night he always saved her? I wonder how long it took before Angel stopped having those dreams. Or Wesley.
Joss Whedon didn’t even write that much of the show and yet he still managed to leave that special mark of pain.
When Wesley is in the hospital after Justine slit his throat, and the nurse tells him he's going to be released that day, she asks if he has any friends or family who could pick him up. He doesn't respond, but you realize that at this point he has completely alienated every single friend he has, and he has no one.
Why not create a special Heartwarming/ Tear Jerker wiki just for that arc?
In a related note, when Wesley is at home with his dinner table impeccably set, candles lit, but he's all alone and eating a microwave dinner? I've never seen a show communicate how low someone's fallen as effectively.
CONNOR: You gotta do what you can to protect your family. I learned that from my father.
What line always gets me? It's not Connor's toast to family, it's a joke made immediately afterward. It's horrific irony is a sight to behold.
Conner: To family. (later) I mean, not this family...
Quite possibly the only example on this page that doubles as a Crowning Moment Of Awesome: The series finale, where Angel and the remnants of the group stand there, waiting to take on the incoming army. Knowing damn well there's no way they're going to survive and Angel closing the series with "Let's get to work," and the show ending with swords clashing.
If it makes you feel any better, the canon follow-up comics reveal that they survive.
The ridiculously depressing scene in "Salvage" where Wesley talks to his hallucination of Lilah after her death. Alas, Poor Villain does not begin to cover it.
Lilah: Why so glum? It is kinda what you wanted, isn't it? I mean, deep down. Me out of the picture utterly, finally. You can't get outer than this. It makes your life simpler, doesn't it? Cleaner?
Wesley: I didn't want this.
Lilah: Come on, what are you worried about, Wesley? You hated yourself for being with me. Or maybe you just hated yourself for loving being with me. (laughs) Hey, semantics. In any case, we both knew, sooner or later, it would come to a messy end. For one of us, anyway. (pulls him to face her; she touches his face and arms) So ease up on that furrowed brow. You're free now. No longer encumbered with the secret shame of our relationship.
Wesley: It wasn't a relationship.
Lilah: There's a signed dollar bill in your wallet I think proves different. You knew how I felt.
Wesley: You don't feel.
Lilah: The only true thing I ever - "
Wesley:You didn't love me! You couldn't.
Lilah: We'll never know now, will we? I know what it is. The reason you're having such a hard time with this. Why you're taking so long to - you know..." (makes a creaking noise as she gestures across her throat with her hand) The awful truth: you couldn't save me. And this is the exclamation point.
Wesley: Saved you from the Beast, for all the good it did.
Lilah: Wesley, you know that's not what I'm talking about. You couldn't save me from me.
Wesley: Is that what you thought?
Lilah: Me? (laughs) Lover, I'm not even here. I'm just a figment in your devilishly handsome head. So, clearly, it's what you thought. For all your supposed darkness, edge of the razor mystique, there was always a small part of you that thought you could pull me back from the brink of my evil, evil ways. Help me find redemption.
Lilah: Angel's influence, I suppose. The whole not giving up on someone, no matter how far he - or she - has fallen. Oh, well. Too late for me. Let's just get it over with. That body's not gonna dismember itself, you know.
Wesley: I'm sorry, Lilah.
Lilah: Oh, Wes, we don't have that word in our vocabulary. Not people like you and - "
(the axe swings forward)
The scene in the season 4 finale, where Wesley burns Lilah's contract to try and free her - and it doesn't work. It's both heartbreaking and heartwarming, to see Lilah, Magnificent Bitch extraordinaire, that obviously moved.
Flames wouldn't be eternal if they actually consumed anything... But it means something, that you tried.
The end of season five episode, Damage; after Dana the insane slayer has been carted off, Angel and Spike have a sombre discussion in the latter's hospital room about the nature of evil, finishing up with the absolute heartbreaker:
Spike: The tingling in my forearms tells me she's too far gone to help. She's one of us now. She's a monster.
Angel: She's an innocent victim.
Spike: So were we, once upon a time.
Angel: Once upon a time.
Spike spends the bulk of the episode telling Dana that she's got the wrong guy. Eventually he realizes that it doesn't matter, because even though he never did anything to her, he's done plenty worse to other people.
I mean, this is nothing compared to all the epic deaths that fill this page but the opening music gets This Troper every time. The music just sums up exactly what Angel is about. Grief and pain and suffering and the fact that it never ends but someone has to fight for it to continue because that's life.
Lineage. Wesley's whole life is pretty much fodder for this page, but excepting Fred's death, this was it. Wesley spent his entire life fearing and trying to prove himself to his father, who cynically downplayed all his son's accomplishments. At the episode's climax, his father threatens Fred, and Wesley guns him down mid-sentence, revealing his "father" as a cyborg duplicate. Fred tries to comfort Wesley, to tell him that somehow Wesley knew it wasn't him... but Wesley rejects that, and says he was certain it was. He was willing to kill his own father to save the woman he loved, and it wasn't some kind of chivalrous moment — it was a sign of how far he'd fallen, that even his love for Fred provoked such darkness from him. Quietly desperate, he calls his father up, just to talk, but the man rebukes his son for calling him too late at night and waking him.
The bit in that episode that always gets me is when — after all his Character Development, after all the frankly amazing things he's done since joining Angel Investigations — he walks into that woman and makes her drop her papers, all because his father's there and he can't help but regress to the person he used to be. That's the moment that it really sunk in just how atrocious a father Roger Wyndham-Pryce must've been, and how horrible Wesley's childhood was.
As well as Wesley's death in the final episode, including the part where Illyria turns back into Fred for him.
Illyria: Would you like me to lie to you now?
Wesley: Yes. Thank you, yes.
What choked up this troper about the scene is when Wesley out, Illyria is sobbing "oh my love." That doesn't sound like Fred inside Illyria talking, it's the grief of the demon-king itself for a mortal love. Thank you, Mayfly-December Romance and Joss Whedon, thank you, you've brought down Cthulhu!
Except for the cavemen vs. astronauts debate, which lifted our spirits just so they would have a longer way to fall and die. And what started out as a joke in the beginning of the episode, gave us one of the saddest lines at the end:
Fred: "Cavemen win. Of course the cavemen win." Damn this episode...
Fred's death in the last season.
Fred: (crying) I need you to talk to my parents. Th-they have to know I wasn't scared, th-that it was quick. That I wasn't scared. Oh, God. I'm not scared. I'm not scared. I'm not scared. Please, Wesley. Why can't I stay?
Oh god, "Please, Wesley. Why can't I stay?" breaks me every time. Sniff.
It's not even so much Fred's death that gets me every time (although that was beautifully done) as much as her crying out for Feigenbaum, her stuffed rabbit, during "A Hole In The World" and then the indescribably lovely montage of everyone remembering her set to that beautiful song at the end of "Shells." It made my dad, an otherwise fairly tough guy, cry like a baby. Not to mention me...
What makes her pleas for Feigenbaum especially heartbreaking is that she doesn't remember who he is any more, just she needs him. It's not just that she's dying, or that she's dying painfully, it's that as it happens, everything about her is going away, forever, not even leaving her soul behind.
The song is "A Place Called Home" by Kim Richey, and is a Tear Jerker in its own right, especially since lyrically it's so damn hopeful. Combined with Fred's death? This Troper just bawls any time it plays.
What got me was Wesley using the templates (books that could become any book in the world) to read children's stories to her and comfort her as she lay dying.
What started this troper was Spike's speech.
Don't forget the realization for Angel and Spike that they chose not to save her. They could have, and chose not to, because the cost was still too great. They let Fred die because it was the right thing to do, as horrible as it was.
In this troper's opinion, the most heartbreaking scene in the whole arc was Gunn approaching the evil-medical-law-guy to try and undo the damage:
Take it back. All of it, the law language, take it back. [Beat] Take more! Leave me a vegetable! I don't care, just bring her back.
Harmony: Why'd you do it?
Gunn: Because I was scared. Because I didn't want to lose it. Because I didn't want to go back to being just the muscle. Because of a million reasons that don't mean a damn thing because she's gone.
It gets worse when the normally airheaded Harmony simply acknowledges his sadness and comforts him.
Angel and Cordelia's final scene ever in "You're Welcome"
What always kinda got me about this one too was that Angel and Cordelia were the last characters from the first season of Buffy still around.
It's worse on DVD. During the original airings, you had a whole month to recover from Cordelia's death before Fred's. On video, both episodes are on the same disc. The Disc of Pain.
Interspliced with Smile Time, AKA the Puppet episode. AKA The most gratuitous Mood Whiplash ever created. Brings you up after Cordy's death, only to punch you in the face with Fred's. OUCH.
Gunn begging Doctor Sparrow to drain his mind dry, or even leave him a vegetable just to get Fred back. His breakdown with Harmony at the end of "Shells".
"Would you like me to lie to you now?"
Am I the only one who found the opening of "Ground State" absolutely heartbreaking? Forget all about Gwen later on; here she's just a scared little girl being left at a strange new school, with parents who obviously love her deeply but don't have the slightest clue how to deal with a girl who they can't even hug. Then as she's being led away towards the school she looks back towards her parents, they turn to leave, and she tries to take the teachers hand for comfort, but the woman just smacks her hand away and says "No, Gwen." And now I think I have something in my eye....
A minor one, but one of Angel's hallucinations in "Soul Purpose" definitely qualifies. Angel dreams that Spike saves the world and becoming human again as a reward. Angel is the mail-cart guy, and can only stand in silence as his rival receives everything he (Angel) ever wanted. The absolutely crushed look on his face as he leaves and pushes his cart away is pretty damn sad.
The very end of "Just Rewards", when Spike confesses to Fred that each time he disappears, he is getting pulled into hell. The way he realizes that after all he's done, winning back his soul and sacrificing himself to save the world, he still can't save himself, you can't help but feel sorry for him.
Still not as bad as during "Hell Bound." Spike agreeing that he deserves to go to Hell; the look of pure terror on his face as he experiences most of the episode; and of course the ending. God, the ending.
"Spin the Bottle." Amazing how one of the funniest episodes in the series has one of the most depressing endings in television history. Lorne's speech at the end and the pan shot of the empty lounge is too heartbreaking to watch.
Also in the season 5 finale...it's so silly to say it but my tears started flowing when we saw Spike in that little cafe reciting his poetry. It was really kind of sweet that that's what he wanted to do with what might've been his last day on earth.
Lorne's finale - Although a member of team Angel, he's always been a pacifist, and then he kills Lindsey. Worse, he says that he read this fate for Lindsey when he sang. Lorne had known for YEARS that he would be the one to kill him.