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Tear Jerker: Babylon 5 aka: Babylon 5
These two moments in the TV movie In the Beginning.
Londo Mollari's account of the Human-Minbari war produced some tears. Can be seen here.
Londo Mollari: The humans, I think, knew they were doomed. But where another race would surrender to despair, the humans fought back with even greater strength. They made the Minbari fight for every inch of space. In my life, I have never seen anything like it. They would weep, they would pray, they would say goodbye to their loved ones and then throw themselves without fear or hesitation at the very face of death itself. Never surrendering. No one who saw them fighting against the inevitable could help but be moved to tears by their courage and their stubborn nobility. When they ran out of ships, they used guns. When they ran out of guns, they used knives and sticks and bare hands. They were magnificent. I only hope, that when it is my time, I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes at the end. They did this for two years. They never ran out of courage. But in the end, they ran out of time.
Almost immediately followed by the Earth Alliance President's call for ships to take part in the Battle of the Line. Can be seen here. note It's especially bad when you realise that even if the Line does its job, you're talking about a few hundred humans left. This is an extinction level attack, and she's begging for whatever help she can to save a pitiful few hundred people.
Earth President: This is... This is the president. I have just been informed that our midrange military bases at Beta Colony and Proxima 3 have fallen to the Minbari advance. We have lost contact with Io and must conclude that they too have fallen to an advanced force. Our military intelligence believes that Minbari intend to bypass Mars and hit Earth directly, and the attack may come at any time. We have continued to broadcast our surrender and a plea for mercy, and they have not responded. We therefore can only conclude that we stand at the twilight of the Human race. In order to buy more time for our evacuation transports to leave Earth, we ask for support of every ship capable of fighting, to take part in a defense of our homeworld. We will not lie to you. We do not believe survival is a possibility. We believe that anyone who joins this battle, will never come home again. But for every ten minutes we can delay the military advance, several hundred more civilians may have a chance to escape to neutral territory. Though Earth may fall, the Human race must have a chance to continue elsewhere. No greater sacrifice has ever been asked of a people, but I ask you now, to step forward one last time, one last battle to hold the line against the night! May God go with you all.
For someone who knows the Backstory, the meeting between Delenn and "King Arthur" in "A Late Delivery from Avalon". Both bore heavily the knowledge that they had helped to start the Earth-Minbari war. Indeed "King Arthur" might actually have fired the shot that killed Delenn's beloved mentor.
The prequel Clip Show movie In The Beginning verifies that his flashback was the real deal. This also has the weird effect of giving Micheal York a half-second cameo in the film.
Londo after he finds out Adira is dead. The haunted loss on Peter Jurasik's face was something that a lesser actor could have reduced to narm, but in his capable hands...sob.
There's also the follow-up in the Season Four episode "Into the Fire." Londo has been informed that it was in fact Mr. Morden who had Adira killed. As soon as he is alone, he completely trashes the room he's in, upending tables and breaking furniture, screaming "He played me!" over and over again. Then, he collapses against a wall, sobbing uncontrollably and staring at a picture of himself, looking into the face of the one indirectly responsible for her death.
The last scene of "Gropos" is extremely sad due to the waste of human life. This moment really hammered home the wastefulness of war: that whether the characters were not-very-admirable, like the men who accosted Delenn and started the barfight, or sympathetic like Dodger; whether they were seasoned, like the black man who stayed with Keffer, or men just having their first fight, like the Asian man; that battle didn't discriminate, and in the end, all of them, good or bad, were killed in this battle they didn't even know they were going to fight. This brings in an additional bit of Fridge Horror for repeat viewers, when you realize that because they had no idea they were going on a potentially deadly mission, so many of them probably didn't concern themselves with saying goodbye properly. The wastefulness of war, indeed...
It gets worse when you remember why they were out there. Earthforce was helping an alien government suppress a rebellion in exchange for basing rights, gaining Earth a forward defence-outpost in case of conflict with the Centauri Republic... but at the end of the season, the Alliance signs a non-aggression pact with the Centauri, meaning that those Gropos' sacrifice was for nothing.
Or how about Sheridan touching the screen with his wife's face on it at the end of the episode where his sister visits and saying "Goodbye, Anna. I love you." So..very..poignant. Must..get..tissues. He forgot to say that the last time they spoke, and always regretted it. In Season 3 she shows up again, but she's not really Anna any more.
The scene where Kosh dies. Sheridan figured it out when it was well too late to stop it. Kosh appearing as Sheridan's father and explaining that the reason he didn't act earlier was that he was afraid, because he knew the Shadows wouldn't let him live if the Vorlons got involved. It's very humanizing and it made the death all that much more painful.
Just before that, after Sheridan presses Kosh into helping the Army of Light, Kosh notes that there will be a price, which is that he won't accompany Sheridan in his eventual journey to the enemy homeworld of Za'Ha'Dum. Sheridan (and viewers) cannot understand the true meaning of this condition until the spoiler above happens, whereupon that scene becomes much more poignant: Kosh wasn't trying to save face or punish the impudent human - he was afraid, because he'd already known the ultimate price he would have to pay.
And there's another thing. When he's heading off, just before turning back to tell Sheridan that he won't be with him at Z'Ha'Dum, he just seems so... dejected. You wouldn't think that a faceless mask and an encounter suit would be able to convey that, but he just looks tired.
Sheridan's departure in "Objects at Rest", where he orders the ship turned around and takes one last look at C&C, now filled with the station's new staff. Lochley steps forward and she and Sheridan share a salute across space. I have talked to people for whom Lochley was The Scrappy who said they still teared up.
The scenes from the Minbari civil war.
The scene in "The Fall of Centauri Prime" when Londo walks willingly to his doom - knowing he has to sacrifice his freedom and his friends to save his people. All while we see a montage of his life so far set to heartbreaking music.
Made even worse by the fact that he doesn't get out of it, and he is controlled by his 'keeper' until the day he dies.
It gets better / worse in the Centauri Prime Trilogy of sequel novels. They put a whole new spin on Londo's death at the hands of G'Kar. And Londo finally gets to see what a Vorlon looks like: it takes the form of his dead lover Adira, and guides him away from the Shadows and into heaven. It's kind of breathtaking.
Also, the conversation beforehand when G'Kar finally forgives him for all the terrible things he did...let's face it, that entire episode was one big Tear Jerker.
It may take someone who is just not human not to cry as G'kar tells Londo he can't forgive the Centauri, his people can't forgive...but he can forgive Londo, and we can see how even though he can't say it, this is probably the most important moment of his life for Londo. The climax of probably the most powerful character arcs on the show played by two incredible actors.
"I think I loved Talia."
The very end of "Endgame" (and the resulting personal aftermath). Marcus Cole, trying to save the life of what he thought was his pretty much unrequited love, bludgeons his way through the medlab so he can resuscitate her with an artifact (that, incidentally, needs to drain his life to work its magic). The faint "I love you" that the nearly-dead Marcus whispers over the still unconscious Ivanova had this relatively stoic male viewer convinced there was something in his eye.
And the following episode which opens with Ivanova curled up the ground just sobbing her heart out. By the time she tearfully confesses that she never appreciated Marcus or told him how she felt you'll be a wreck. There's a reason this scene is the Trope Namer for All Love Is Unrequited.
Made even worse in the finale when they remember absent friends and Ivanova barely chokes out 'Marcus'. Word of God reveals this is the first time she's said his name in twenty years. Just argh.
Sheridan's farewell message for Delenn, played to her after he departs to Z'ha'dum. And especially her reaction: after his last words "I love you, Delenn", she touches the screen...and sinks to the floor with utter desperation on her face.
The ending of "Confessions and Lamentations". Dr. Franklin has finally developed a cure to a deadly plague that torments the Markab race. Together with Sheridan, Ivanova and Garibaldi, they rush to the quarantine zone but...they are too late. All the Markabs are dead. Along with the rest of their race. Delenn, who willingly entered the restricted zone to give the sick some consolation, emerges with a completely devastated look on her face. She was there when they started to die one by one all around her, while she could only watch helplessly.
To make matters worse Dr Franklin had just developed a possible treatment and, after the bleakness of the episode, and the introduction of a small Markab girl infected by the disease you think they're going for an Everybody Lives ending, only for the humans (and audience) to discover they were too late.
Delenn and Lennier both look like they've been through the wringer in this one. When he leaves Lennier looks like he's already been crying, but Delenn manages to hold it together until she's alone with Sheridan, and then... she breaks down and we all cry with her.
Then, to drive the point in at the end, you hear a news report saying that most of the Markab Homeworld is in flames from rioting, looting... and then no one being alive to stop the flames. It goes further to state that unless there are hidden colonies that were totally isolated that no one has ever heard of, the Markab Race is essentially extinct. And from this point on, you never see another Markab in the entire show.
Pretty much the entire episode "The Coming of Shadows", but most especially:
The Centauri Emperor's apology to G'kar and the Narn.
Near the end of the episode, when the Centuari have started outright attacking the Narn. G'Kar, in a murderous rage, is on his way to kill Londo and is confronted by Sheridan. G'Kar is in absolute anguish as he begs Sheridan to let him pass:
G'kar: They're doing it to us again. Step aside, Sheridan, I won't let this happen. Not again!
Sheridan: Then you're gonna need all the help you can get. Set one foot in Ambassador Mollari's quarters, and you'll either be dead, or gone. Either way, you won't help your people.
G'kar: They'll kill everyone! Don't you understand? They've done it before, they'll kill everyone!
G'Kar: "No dictator... no invader... can hold an imprisoned population by force of arms forever. There is no greater power in the universe than the need for freedom. Against that power, governments and tyrants and armies cannot stand. The Centauri learned this lesson once. We will teach it to them again. Though it take a thousand years, we will be free."
It's a much smaller moment, but when Delenn and Sheridan tell G'kar that they will only be able to bring a limited amount of help to his people, and he politely thanks them for what they're trying to do-then breaks into sobs and slides slowly down the wall, holding his face in his hands. Perhaps, as with the Londo moment above, the moment could have been ruined by a less capable actor-but Andreas Katsulas pulls it off so perfectly. Without saying a single word, he manages to convey every bit of sorrow, frustration, helplessnes, and desperation he feels at his inability to make things better. An impressive feat that most actors couldn't pull off au natural, but add in doing that through the cold, reptillian-looking Narn makeup, and Andreas has proven himself a beyond-amazing actor.
As scripted: "G'Kar is unsure whether to laugh or cry. And so, he does both."
"Sleeping in Light". Hell, even JMS sounded like he was having trouble holding it together on the DVD commentary.
JMS: Pretty much everybody cried. I came home to a message on my machine from Mira, who was almost unable to speak, and another from Claudia who said she was honored and proud to be a part of this, and the script had made her cry. Bruce, Richard, big beefy guys on the crew... all said the same thing. And there I have to concur; I lost is several times as I was writing it, due to the content; there's one scene in particular... you'll know it when you see it... that put me away for an hour when I finished writing it.
When Delenn curled up in the empty bed clutching his pillow.
Or when they say their last goodbye and they're both managing to keep their composure, then he touches her shoulder, and she just falls into his arms as the music starts and they both lose it... "Sleeping in Light" is a contender for most tear-jerking episode of anything, ever filmed.
"You know, Londo never liked the Pak'ma'ra..."
"There are 49 gods in our pantheon, Vir. To tell you the truth, I've never believed in any of them. But if just one of them exist...then god sings with that voice."
The first time Sheridan's shortened lifespan comes up is awful, because at that moment you know what's coming and that Sheridan and Delenn will lose the war personally no matter how the battles turn out.
John Sheridan: Goodnight, my love... the brightest star in my sky. Delenn: Goodnight, you, were my sky, and my sun, and my moon.
"Every morning for as long she lived, Delenn got up before dawn and watched the sun come up"
The moment JMS himself walks through a hallway of the deserted station dressed as a technician, takes a quick look round, and turns out the lights. This was pre-internet-spoiler age for me and it came completely out of the blue. Seldom have I been reduced to a quavering, snot-nosed, blubbering wreck of SAD so effectively.
"Well, look at that. The sun's coming up."
The news in "Lost Tales" that G'Kar and Franklin are "exploring beyond the rim" together. Reality Subtext at its tear-jerkiest. And now, Zack Allen took ship and went out to join them.
While it was not something that is on the show, JMS' introduction on the Season Five DVD booklet as he explains the odds the show overcame to become what is was, especially the final words.
On the front of my house, there is an art deco door knocker, with a small silver plaque in the center. It contains just three words: Never Surrender Dreams. Faith manages. Here endeth the lesson.
Delenn and G'Kar's discussion right before the latter joins the war council.
After Marcus dies Lennier is talking with Delenn, and he asks this question, "Delenn, do you know what Ivanova said at the end? That all love is unrequited?" It's a small one but it hurts to hear his voice crack when he says it.
Sheridan talking with his dad one last time before everything is about to hit the fan in "Severed Dreams". His dad doesn't know the details, but he's Genre Savvy enough to have a solid idea, and simply reassures his son that he and his mom will be alright, and that Sheridan must do what he needs to do, just like he was raised to do.
Vir: I-I'm sorry... I wish, um, that there was something that I could do, but... I tried telling them, but... they wouldn't listen, they... they never listen! ...I'm sorry! G'Kar: (Takes out a knife and slices his own hand open, squeezes it and as each drop of blood drips from his hand) Dead...dead...dead...dead...dead...dead...dead! How do you apologize to them!? Vir: ...I can't! G'Kar: (Closes his hand) Then I cannot forgive.
"The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari." It has a lot of powerful moments, but the bit that's the hardest to watch is his small, pathetic, "I do not want to die."
From the episode "The Long Night", after the Centauri withdraw from Narn and an exhausted G'Kar confronts a group of his fellow Narns in the replica throne room. The Narns want to immediately begin plans to strike back, saying that the Centauri have taught them the path to victory, but G'Kar tells them that they have learned the wrong lessons.
Narn: "But the Centauri—"
G'Kar: "ARE A LOST PEOPLE! They should be pitied! They are already on a course for self-destruction! They do not need help from us!"
The way G'Kar's voice almost breaks as he shouts this got me tearful. Part of it's no doubt a result of having been brutally tortured for days, but another part of it is G'Kar taking another step on his path to full enlightenment. He once lived for the purpose of destroying the Centauri, but now he's almost crying for them. In some ways, I found this moment as tear-provoking and significant as his epiphany in Dust to Dust.
"I never thought you were a coward, G'kar! We suffered and died during their occupation. Where were you? What have you endured?"
"What have I endured?"
To clarify the previous exchange: G'kar is walking freely for the first time in weeks, his left eye has been gouged out because it "annoyed" Emperor Cartagia , has been whipped to an inch of his death, has broken unbreakable chains in order to provide a needed distraction in order to let Londo murder the Emperor... and when asked "What have you endured" starts laughing like a madman. Watch it here.
It's even worse than that. For close to two years, G'Kar has been through the emotional wringer. He's seen his once proud race brought to the brink of extinction, had to live in exile, had most of his authority stripped from him and was broken emotionally, having to go through incredible personal reflection to come out the other end a better person. He suffered physically, but it was nothing compared to what he suffered emotionally.
The same episode shows us Vir's reaction to the recent events. He started out as a sweet kid and got stuck watching Londo's deal with Morden, unable to convince him not to do it. Said deal results in the Centauri-Narn war. In an effort to protect Vir Londo recommends him as the Centauri ambassador on Mimbar. Vir uses the position to save Narn refugees by falsifying the records to fake their deaths. When he's visiting Babylon 5 Ivanova discovers this and calls him out on "murdering" 2000 Narns. The operation is exposed, and Vir is demoted and called back from his position while stating that he only regrets not being able to save more Narns. In this episode he's been involved in a plan to kill Emperor Cartagia to prevent him from dooming Centauri prime. The plan was for Londo to poison him, but Londo annoyed the Emperor enough to be under attack, so Vir had to do it. Later Londo found him drunk.
Vir: How much more until I can look in the mirror and not see me? 'Cause I keep looking and I'm always there. And now I don't want to see me.
Everything in Dust To Dust from the words "It is enough!" to G'Kar awakening from his Dust-dream and weeping.
The despair in Ivanova's voice at the end of Season 3 when she says "He's gone" is heart-breaking... but it's G'Kar's season closing narration that makes it impossible to keep a dry eye.
Londo is given a moral dilemma to help a young Centauri couple who are in unhappily arranged to marry someone else, but is forced by his station and the traditions of the Empire to force them to return to their respective spouses. Vir angrily confronts him about this.
Londo: ...My shoes are too tight. Vir: ...Excuse me? Londo: Something my father said. He was... Old, very old at the time. I went into his room, and he was sitting, alone in the dark, crying. So I asked him what was wrong, and he said, "My shoes are too tight. But it doesn't matter, because I have forgotten how to dance." I never understood what that meant until now. My shoes are too tight, and I have forgotten how to dance. *Pause* Vir: ...I don't understand. Londo:*Smiling wistfully* Nor should you.
For all that a lot of people hate Lochley, Neil Gaiman gave her one of the most tear jerking moments in the entire series in the Day of the Dead episode: she is confronted by the "ghost" of her dead friend Zoe, who OD'd decades earlier when they were teenage drug addicts, and whose body Lochley found (and never knew whether the OD was an accident or suicide). Just three simple words, and it will break you in half, just like it does Zoe:
Lochley: Password: Zoe's dead.
Neroon:I was born Warrior Caste! But I see now, the calling of my heart is RELIGIOUS! The war is over! Listen to her! Listen!
"The Face of the Enemy": The way Sheridan trustingly walked into the bar on Mars to meet Garibaldi who will supposedly help him rescue his captive father (although we know he's walking into betrayal). His drugged beatdown in the bar was also sad to see, especially with Garibaldi looking on with that empty but vaguely haunted expression, while his friend slowly goes down swinging with that brutal industrial-style music in the background. Sheridan's whole treatment at the hands of his Earth Alliance captors and interrogators in this episode and the next was alternatingly tearjerking and outrage-inducing.
And then his forgiveness (of sorts) of Garibaldi upon rescue was a little tearjerking in a heartwarming way:
Sheridan (drugged up): Michael... boy was I gonna kick your butt for something... but I don't remember.
The scene between Londo and Regent Virini on Centauri Prime in "In The Kingdom of the Blind" was also very moving. Virini was a bit silly and campy when we knew him earlier, but at heart I think we could sense he was a decent man (encouraging honesty in Vir's reports for one thing, even if that might not be politically expedient); here we saw him as a kindly but sad and terrified man who had aged quite a bit, and we knew he was afflicted with a Drakh Keeper. This line of his to Londo:
"You still have time. Enjoy it! Run in the sunlight! Eat! Laugh!"
... where he knows what's coming to Londo, and he's genuinely sad for what awaits this man he remembers since his (Londo's) childhood. And then later, the Drakh (Shiv'kala) punishes him through the Keeper for giving what can hardly be seen as even a hint of a revelation of what was going on to Londo—and if you've read The Centauri Trilogy you know that these Keepers can be used to inflict a great amount of pain on their hosts.
From the real world, J. Michael Stracyzynski's long-delayed revelation that the reason Michael O'Hare left the show was to get treatment for schizophrenia, despite which the condition continued to plague him up until his death. And that he went through the last few episodes of season one like "a man clinging to a cliff by his fingernails," pushing through his issues so that he wouldn't be the reason everyone working on the show lost their jobs.
In "Passing Through Gethsemane", everything that happens to Brother Edward. It's revealed that he used to be a serial killer before he was mindwiped, and someone is out to mess with his head by making him remember the murders he committed. What makes it heartwrenching is that they make clear several times that, even with his memories intact, Brother Edward the kindly monk and the Black Rose Killer are completely different people. Yet Brother Edward blames himself for everything his past life did to the point where he willingly goes to death by torture at the hands of his victims' families to atone for his sins. He barely stays alive long enough for Brother Theo to pardon him.
The end of "Intersections in Real Time". Sheridan has been tortured, interrogated, beaten, the inquisitor has done everything within his power to break him but he has said no. After he refuses his "last chance" to recant and join Clark, they strap him to a bed and take him to "Room 17", with a priest reading the last rites as they go... and then in Room 17 they reveal a chair identical to the one he'd been strapped into, and a new inquisitor comes in to start it all over again. What's worse, the Drazi he "convinced to stay strong" was working with them the whole time. The look on Sheridan's face is heartbreaking.