Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
Tear Jerker: Demo Reel
open/close all folders
Donnie must be on a bad day, because after "Mission Improbable", he's clearly dreading the response on how they did. He's not even trying to be his usual optimistic self.
Tacoma assuming their roots are crying themselves to sleep. It's presented as a snarky joke, but with everything that's happened to all three of them, there's no reason to think that hasn't happened.
Donnie's quietly hurting reaction to Tacoma and Rebecca laughing at his cheap Optimus Prime outfit. He stands there for a while completely silent and then when he tells Tacoma that his costume is worse, his voice is measured just enough to let him know he went too far.
Tacoma finding out that his letter to his brother got returned unopened (until Carl got to it for security reasons) with no forwarding address.
And then a drinking Carl revealing that because of the wall falling, he has no family left.
Wreck It Ralph vs. Angry Birds
Tacoma's back story: he was an investigative journalist who uncovered a massive ponzi scheme and got the ringleader thrown in jail. Unfortunately, said ringleader was his own dad, and now his whole family hates him and his mom won't even talk to him over the phone without charging him.
Tacoma (on Donnie's lack of Thanksgiving plans): Don’t you have a wife?
Donnie: She’s with relatives.
Rebecca: Then, why are you here?
Donnie: It was part of the…pre-nup.
Tacoma: And, what about your family-
Donnie: They were part of the pre-nup too.
Rebecca: That’s one big pre-nup.
Donnie: Yeah, it was kind of a big family affair! Everybody was invited to talk about it, except...me.
And after Tacoma and Rebecca actually talk about their awful home lives:
Rebecca: [before leaving] Well I hope things work out with your family.
Tacoma: [sadly] Me too.
Donnie looks seconds away from a meltdown when he talks to a sick Tacoma.
Tacoma's murmuring of "finish the story..." can hit pretty hard.
Also a moment of heartwarming and awesome, Donnie's speech about family and friends. Look at how red his eyes are, the words really hit home for him.
Lost In Translation: Bromance Version
After cementing themselves as a family in episode two, it's really heartbreaking to see the three leads fight. Especially as Tacoma and Rebecca are working their asses off to be nice, and Donnie is obviously having something go wrong in his brain.
Donnie trying to enjoy the convention, but just ending up telling Carl he's miserable (who doesn't care) and taking refuge in the bar.
Donnie looks more hurt than scared when Carl tells him that he'd know how to use the dragon knife thing.
Donnie calling himself the problem when Uncle Yo why he's sitting at a bar instead of shooting a Lost in Translation parody. The egotism of episode one is completely gone.
The meta is amusing, but Donnie's reasoning for wanting a Slash Fic of him is surprisingly sad: he just wants to be popular enough for that to happen.
Donnie's wife hangs up before he can finish saying "Love you".
Oddly, Donnie talking about his favorite film. It looks like it hurts trying to explain why he enjoyed it, and he just wants to drop the subject almost immediately.
"The acting's really good." Fittingly, Doug's acting is wonderful, sounding exactly like a little boy who just got news that his mommy died.
Donnie explaining why he hates Hollywood, that it never lets you forget about the pain of your real life, and his refusal to expand on anything further.
Twice, Donnie realizes he's let too much slip about his life and tries painfully and obviously to change the subject.
The Blair Witch Hangover
Donnie’s scenes where he’s trying to survive in the woods are hard to watch. Especially when he ends up in tears because there’s no water (until he quotes Dune).
The look of absolute anguish when he realizes he’s gone in a circle.
It doesn't help that unlike Critic or Ask That Guy's wailing (or red eyes), Doug's crying for Donnie are actually sounds that could come from a normal person. There's coughing, spluttering...
Donnie wanting Tacoma and Rebecca to do his eulogy because, “no doubt you were the only people concerned while I was missing.”
You'll notice that his wife never gets mentioned. Whether it's his own lack of self-esteem making him think she won't care when he's dead, or she really won't, that's pretty sad.
Donnie's desperate prayer to God, calling himself worthless and small while trying to get some form of hope.
“I’m going to die. Alone.”
The utter resignation when he says, “This looks like a good place to die. Don’t worry, I’m coming soon mom.”
Donnie can't even bring himself to say his mom died yet. When he's about to, he clasps a shaky hand over his mouth to stop the words coming out.
Rebecca and Tacoma discussing how meaningless their work can seem at times and whether or not they should stop Demo Reel.
Tacoma: It's nice to have a job where I can express myself, but then everyone hates it anyway. Why write if no one thinks you can write?
Rebecca:(agreeing) Why act if no one thinks you can act?
Not to mention Rebecca's mini-rant about how having talent means nothing in the industry, because the roles always go to prettier, younger actresses.
The Reality Subtext makes it worse, this was half-improvised from Rachel's experiences as a model and aspiring actress.
And just to make it Harsher in Hindsight, Demo Reel did indeed come to an end, because, while it had a fanbase, it wasn't big enough. For a fan of the show, it hits hard.
Rebecca's reaction to Tacoma accidentally insulting her. She looks like she doesn't even recognize him anymore.
Rebecca confirming her first sexual experience was camping with "Uncle Frank". Tacoma and Fabrizio were right to be grossed out.
Carl at the end, running through the woods looking for Donnie and finding his hat. Just the way he breathes "Nien" is gut-wrenching.
Retroactive heartbreaker: the folder that Tacoma and Rebecca find, with the big dorky picture of Doug, was the one Donnie carried everywhere in the third episode. No wonder he was so depressed if he kept giving himself that reminder.
Donnie's already starting to tear up when the family shows him the DVD case of "Galaxy Battle".
It's hard to tell what's worse, Donnie's Sarcasm Mode speech about how sorry his for not giving a movie his all when his mother had just killed herself, or his caretakers thinking he's just acting afterwards.
And Donnie's so numb at this point that even his eyes don't register any surprise that the father would react like that.
Finding out what happened to his mother in the first place, and that Jimmy had to shoot the rest of the movie with a fake mummy. Plus how you get the impression the crew just didn't give a damn about his feelings and kept the death secret "because it would ruin the Christmas spirit".
Again, the Reality Subtext makes it hurt worse. Elisa Hoffman was based off Elizabeth Hartman, an actress who starred in A Patch Of Blue and had her career dry up when she got older, resulting in a "killed by Hollywood" suicide.
Being on set and finding out that their mother had died, resulting in a bad performance people mocked them for, was what happened to Mara Wilson. Her mom didn't kill herself and she was taken care of, but still a heartbreaking nod.
"42 years old and already nothing to live for." Poor Donnie.
"You took something that was miserable from the past and you just obsessed over it. You turned it into your lives!" Sad on its own, even worse because it's clear who he's also yelling at on a meta level. Don't worry Donnie, Critic hated himself and his job too.
In the movie "sequel", the movie, though a little cliche is still acted good enough to leave a substantial mark, especially with Tacoma's character quoting "Amazing Grace" as their closing line.
Donnie clinging to Karl because he doesn't want him to disappear. He just looks and sounds like a terrified child.
And when Karl yells at him, he shrinks back like he's been slapped hard. Someone needed to give the poor man a hug.
The resignation in Donnie's voice when he tells Tacoma he's going to get himself committed. You can tell by the tone in his voice that he thinks he'll be following in his mother's footsteps in more ways than one.
Tacoma disappearing right after he promises to stay with Donnie. It's just sadistic.
It's also unfair that right after the only time Quinn was nice to Donnie, he disappears from existence.
People who were so happy over Critic maturing in To Boldly Flee and becoming a Big Good adult might cry rage tears at the final "explanation": he needed to be punished and learn his lesson (you know the one he'd already learned) by becoming a tragic Former Child Star.
Donnie's rant over what an unbelievable Deus Angst Machina his life has been, and how unfair it is that he tried so hard to do good things for people but is getting shit on.
Tacoma, Karl, Quinn and Rebecca being far too accepting that their lives aren't real and they're doomed to stay in purgatory. No wonder Donnie's nearly crying when he's forced to say goodbye.
It's horrible to watch as Tacoma, Rebecca, Quinn and Karl all tear Donnie down and call him worthless when they loved him so much before.
Karl giving a final salute before they all disappeared and Donnie left the purgatory, possibly forever. The music played during this doesn't help.
Rebecca waving and jumping up to try and get Donnie to see her while she's fading away.
Doug doesn't escape anything, as Critic gets played like a vicious psychotic hallucination breaking him down and dragging him back into doing the show.
The sad, lost expression he has when he comes across the To Boldly Flee poster. You don't even need to remember how proud he was of giving Critic a happy ending, it's still depressing to see the Puppy-Dog Eyes.
As it sounded so small and defeated, the "yes" to wanting Critic back wasn't exactly evoking the warm happy feelings anyone was hoping for.
The loathing evident in Doug's voice whenever he talks to Critic can be hard to take, as can that little flash of fear on his face when Critic brings up having a rule of his own.
Rob's epitaph for Karl. "Hier ruhen meine Gebeine, ich wollt' es wären Deine." Or translated: "Here rest my bones, I wish that it would be yours."
After Donnie walks to his death, we see a quick shot of Doug leaning back in his chair, looking for all the world like he had to Shoot the Dog.
The utterly melancholy music that starts when Critic leaves with yet another threat and Doug sits down to write the end of his dream project.
They even managed to make Critic's review room scary and depressing. Donnie looks so broken and scared, and the music is so sad until an especially discordant version of “The Review Must Go On” signifies that Critic has completely taken over.