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Tear Jerker: Friends
While Friends is usually a very light hearted and optimistic show, it's had a few notable examples.
A brief one when Ross admits he kissed Nora Bing. Chandler looks so betrayed, dropping the telling comment that Ross knows better than anyone "what I go through with my mother"- It's a rare occasion when his troubled childhood isn't played for laughs.
After Rachel finds out about Ross's feelings for her in "The One Where Rachel Finds Out" and realizes she feels the same way, she decides to meet him at the airport as he comes back from his week long arecholgical dig in China, only to find Ross getting off the plane with his new girfriend Julie.
'TOW the Flashback' when Ross finds out about Carol being a lesbian and starts sobbing in Phoebe's arms. His divorces are usually Played for Laughs but the scene really shows how devestated he was at the time.
Ross: "She was the only woman who ever loved me..."
Just seeing how crushed Ross looks at the end of the tape the gang is watching in "The One With the Prom Video" where he attempted to take Rachel to the prom after it looked like her date abandoned her so she wouldn't have to miss it, only to learn that the date arrived at the very last second.
Earlier on, when Rachel tells Ross his love for her isn't worth getting "clobbered" over. One of the worst things you can hear from the one you love is that your love isn't worth fighting or getting hurt over.
'TOW The Truth About London' Chandler's reaction when he finds out Monica wanted to sleep with Joey instead of him. As he's always been second best to Joey and an Insecure Love Interest with Monica, the news is shattering for his already fragile self-esteem.
Chandler: "How can I not be upset? Okay? I finally fall in love with this fantastic woman and it turns out that she wanted you first!"
When Ross, Joey & Chandler are at the veterinarian's office because the duck ate Ross's grandmother's ring, they imagine all the history with the duck, as a montage of the duck plays backed by "Weekend in New England" by Barry Manilow. The guys' affection for the duck makes the montage touching, not funny.
Monica and Richard's break-up in "The One With Barry And Mindy's Wedding". They are perfect together, but he doesn't want to have kids... And Monica longs for them.
The One In Vegas: Chandler and Monica get into a fight about her seeing Richard. Chandler comes to make up...only to find her happily gambling and seemingly not missing him at all. (She'd actually been depressed all evening but he doesn't know that). The mixture of regret and hurt in his reaction, complete with a bitter, defeated smile, makes the one scene heartbreaking.
Made worse later when they talk and he says that Richard is the love of Monica's life. You realize that seeing Monica apparentely so blase about their fight just reinforced his belief that he was always going to come second to her. He walked away because he honestly believed she didn't care about him as much as he cared about her. Oh yeah, and this is their anniversary; meaning he'd been carrying around these assumptions for months and apparently accepted being runner up to the first woman he'd ever truly loved. When Monica sorts it out you want to cry with relief.
Rachel finding out about Ross sleeping with Chloe the copy girl in "The One On The Morning After" and their massive fight and break-up afterwords is one of the most devastating and gut-wrenching moments in the entire series.
"I wish I could take you home and see you every single day... well, if you're going to cry... (starts to cry)"
Almost the whole of 'TOW the Last Night' when Chandler and Monica move in together. They're happy they're moving forward, but have to say goodbye to Joey and Rachel who have been their roomates for the last 5 + years. It's a surprisingly touching episode that shows how even good change can be hard.
TOW The Lottery when Chandler finds out he didn't get the advertising job. He's clearly crushed and quietly admits to Monica that he really thought he deserved it. After years working a job he hated, him failing in a career that he's actually passionate about is extremely sad. Previous episode also hinted he was depressed and losing confidence at being unemployed and Monica having to support him. (Thankfully this is all undone when he finds out he got a much better position).
TOW Chandler's Dad is a sober episode. Although Played for Laughs, Chandler is obviously still hurting from his dad's treatment of him and you can see Charle's sadness when he hears his son is getting married and hasn't invited or even told him. (Especially as Chandler admitted he tried to get in touch in the last few years).
Again played for laughs but Chandler's freak out before the wedding is pretty sad. Especially when he admits to Ross and Phoebe how much he loves Monica but can't get married because he's going to be a terrible husband. Given he and Monica have been nothing but happy together you realize how deep seated his anxieties and childhood trauma's really are.
Chandler: "I want to. I love her so much, but Iím afrÖItís too huge."
When Chandler thinks Monica has left him (just before he was going to propose). She hasn't, but for a moment he breaks down sobbing, and its absolutely heartbreaking.
Chandler: I can't believe I ruined this. I can't...
Chandler and Monica finding out that they can't have children makes one of the most devastating moments in the entire series. They both literally cling to each other sobbing as the scene fades out.
Chandler at the end of TOW Heckles Dies: "Goodbye, Mr. Heckles. We'll try to keep it down."
Anything when Matthew Perry uses his considerable acting chops to make us cry instead of make us laugh. Like when he tells Erica, the birth mom, that when his chance comes, he'll step up and be a good dad. Considering the contextual information regarding the cast's notoriously close friendship and Courteney Cox's well reported battle to have a baby in real life, that line must have meant a lot to him.
Chandler: But my wife? She's already there. She's a mother without a child.
Rachel leaving for Paris and saying goodbye to each of the friends individually. Fortunately it is saved when she and Monica start whimpering incoherently at each other.
The series finale has several emotional moments, but their are a couple that really stand out. While we all know Rachel gets off that plane, her initial rejection of Ross at the airport and his breakdown after it are incredibly heartbreaking.
The last episode, particularly the final moments of the show, when they are all in the apartment saying goodbye and leaving their keys on the side. Courtney Cox's exact line is: "This is harder than I thought it would be." She didn't need to act very much to get the emotion there. The writers specifically mentioned that Matthew Perry found his response: "Its going to be ok" incredibly hard to deliver comfortingly because in many ways it wasn't going to be ok or at least not the same. Whatever your feelings towards Friends, for them it was still ten years of working together, and by all accounts being fantastic friends. All the emotion comes across in the final episode, and it breaks your heart.
Lisa Kudrow's voice breaks in practically every line in the last scene ("Do you realize that at one time or another we've all lived in this apartment?") and after her line "So I guess this is it", Matt Le Blanc says "Yeah," pauses to give a subtle glance/nod to the audience, and then says the rest of his line, "I guess so." It's heartbreaking.
In TOW The Candy Hearts, Ross sees Carol and Susan at a restaurant on Valentine's Day while he's there with a date. After Susan gets buzzed in to go to work, Carol is left by herself and Ross invites her to come sit with him and his date. They end up having a nice conversation and Ross doesn't even notice when his date leaves. Pleadingly, Ross futilely asks Carol to give it one more try with him. Carol gives him a kiss and tell him she'll always love him . . . but that the one thing that has to be put to the side to make it work won't go away. It's heartbreaking to see that Ross, after all this time, still sees Carol as the woman he loves, even with Rachel around, and that he seems to want to make their incompatible relationship work just to get some normality back into his life.. It's the only time in the series Carol really gets a sympathetic portrayal and her lesbianism isn't Played for Laughs. Worse still, Carol seems to harbor regret and that, on some level, she wishes she was straight to ease Ross's pain.
In spite of the infamous Joey-Rachel storyline, the growing guilt Joey had over how he felt he was completely betraying Ross was pretty heartwrentching. A particularly stinging moment is in TOW the Secret Closet where Joey is mistaken for the father of Ross and Rachel's baby. Ross, who has already been missing several bits of her pregnancy especially the baby's first kick, winds up feeling even worse, and Joey meanwhile feels like even more of a louse. It's hard not to feel bad for both of them.
When Phoebe and Mike decide to not just end moving in together, but also their relationship. Considering the rarity of dramatic moments for these characters, both of them being really affected by the abrupt ending of their relationship despite being deeply in love with each other is pretty heart-wrenching. Fortunately, they got better.
In TOW Rachel's Date, Ross is acting possessive, pushy, and...well, like he did when he had feelings for Rachel. So that's it, right? He has a crush on Rachel again, and the whole cycle starts again, right? ...Nope, not even close. In fact, he confesses that he's done trying to force himself to fall in love with Rachel. What he's actually anxious about is that his dream of having a real family is slowly moving farther away. He confesses that it kills him that he has to let go of his son and return him to his mother and her lover, and it scares him that Rachel might go off with someone else, taking Emma, and having a family with said person instead of him. Sure, Ross has his bad moments, but this scene reminds us that he has had his dream of not just a romance but a complete, functioning family broken repeatedly over the course of the series.