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Dancing With The Stars
- J.R. Martinez's military tribute dance during Season 12. The most stunning moment in the show's history.
- Dark Angel: "X5-599. I've got a heart for you."
- Almost the entirety of The Berrisford Agenda. Damn Jensen Ackles for being so flipping good at the angst.
- And, on the subject of Jensen Ackles, the ending to "Pollo Loco", with its Of Mice And Men homage. "Tell me about the good place", he says. * sniffle*
- The death of Diamond at the end of "Shorties in Love".
- One of the earliest was in the first season, with the sinking of the FV Big Valley. Feature vessel Maverick and Cornelia Marie (then not a feature vessel; it was partnered with Maverick and only had cameras as a backup) were part of the rescue effort. Of six on-board, only one was found alive, and only two of the dead were recovered.
- Season five had a several of these, starting with the sinking of another boat. The episode is punctuated with home videos of the doomed crewmates, with one of them joking that "they oughta be on Deadliest Catch."
- Later, upstart greenhorn Jake of the Northwestern (who was earlier burned in effigy on another boat for a prank he pulled - it was all in fun, they really just wanted to get rid of the effigy's Northwestern sweatshirt) got the devistating news that the youngest of his four older sisters had died after years of battling painful illnesses. Captain Sig and the cameraman decided not to film Jake getting the news but kept the audio, which is gut-wrenching. The episode ends at night, with Jake on an engineless boat crossing to another boat as the background music contains the lyrics "My sister and I..."
- In a follow-up episode Jake talked about how close he was with his late sister, who he talked to her every day he was back home, and that he also considers his crewmates the big brothers he never had.
- Likewise, the seemingly hard-hearted Captain Sig considers Jake to be the son he never had. Aww.
- Word of Captain Phil's stroke making its way through the crab fleet, and the varied reactions of the other captains as the news makes it down the line. Captain Sig throws the radio handset, then throws away his cigarettes in anger while Captain Keith tearfully pleads to God, "Cut him some slack, Big Guy."
- The montage at the end of the episode "Redemption Day", alternating between scenes of Josh Harris at the hospital after Captain Phil has a setback and the fleet working and plowing through rough seas with Johnny Cash's "Redemption Day" playing in the background. And at the very end is Josh Harris' phone call to his younger brother Jake to let him know that their father has passed away.
- The last half of the episode Valhalla when the rest of the crabbing fleet learn of Phil's passing is heartbreaking in itself but watching each ship do a different method of tribute to him will leave you in tears.
- Time Bandit sets off fireworks in Phil's honor.
- When they leave harbor after learning of the passing the Northwestern makes a slow pass around the Cornelia Marie as they do one of crew salutes the ship, later Sig talks about the old fisherman's tale of how seagulls are fishermen passed on and how the seagull sitting on his bow at that moment just might be Phil. He also noted that, while Phil was in hospital (almost a month), the sea raged...and then after he died, it went dead calm.
- On the Wizard Captain Keith rings the bell eight times as his crew throws back a full crab pot, with its shot and buoys (one of which has In Memory of Captain Phil Harris written on it) inside so it stays submerged as a memorial, so he'd "always have some crab to come back to."
Degrassi The Next Generation
- Smash Into you has Dave breaking down after Jacinta gets hit by a car.
- The ending of "Time Stands Still".
- Most of Time Stands still. When the paint and feathers spill on Rick. . .oh my god, he looks humiliated.
- "Rock This Town". Especially because nobody saw it coming.
- "Venus", when Manny tells Emma just how badly she screwed up. "I lost my family... My reputation... and my best friend."
- Riley's confession to Peter at the end of "Bad Medicine"..."I never wanted to be like this..." Any young gay person- Especially a straight gay- will know EXACTLY what he's talking about. It doesn't help that he goes back into denial right after this.
- "Beat It" Part One was just heart-wrenching.
- "Why Can't This Be Love." "...Sav....are you breaking up with me?"
- In "Degrassi Takes Manhattan" The scene where Declan kicks Fiona out.
- "My Body is a Cage" Adam's scenes, especially the scene where Clare sees "Gracie" burning herself.
- Liberty finally breaking down at JT's memorial service, proving that she's Not So Stoic.
- Adam gets shot at prom in the shoulder.
- Ghost in the Machine:
Paige: The truth? Paige went upstairs that night. She never came back.
- The Mini "Six months" where JT's friends gather to pay tribute to JT.
- The last scenes of the series finale are devastating. The episode was fairly humorous despite an ongoing theme of out-of-control environmental catastrophe, at least until Earl had to explain to his infant son that the world was coming to an end.
Baby: Are we gonna move?Howard Handupme: And taking a look at the long range forecast, continued snow, darkness, and extreme cold. This is Howard Handupme, goodnight. (beat) Goodbye.
- Earl's reaction to Robbie wanting to keep fighting in "Nuts to War Part II":
- Earl: You're not a soldier, you're a kid! You're gonna go to school. You're gonna take girlfriends to dances. You're gonna drive me crazy like you always have. Until it's time for you to grow up.
- One section of the PBS documentary Carrier as the sailors stand on the deck while pulling into Pearl Harbor. The combination of Five For Fighting's "World" in the background and the sheer beauty of the execution of the scene sent her into a blubbering mess.
- The documentary series "Secrets of the Dead" also had one incredibly tear-jerking episode. The scientists were trying to identify several anonymous corpses recovered in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster, nearly a century after they had been buried. When they exhumed the bodies however, they found to their horror that most of the graves had been filled with water and there was almost no DNA left they could use for identification. Only one grave wasn't flooded - the grave reserved at the top of the hill for the body of an unidentified baby boy. Incredibly, they found a tiny bone fragment that hadn't decomposed yet, and it contained just enough DNA so that they could finally identify the boy. The scientist who performed the identification was so moved that he seemed to be holding back tears, and could only say that "Someone wanted us to know who this child is."
- There's more. IIRC the reason why the bone fragment had been preserved was because of a copper plaque reading "Our Babe" that had been bought for the no-expense-spared funeral arranged by the men who found the body. These were big, tough men who had done the dangerous work of laying telegraph cables in the Atlantic; and because they were so moved by their discovery of the Unknown Child, and honoured him with that plaque, it was finally possible ninety years later to find out his identity.
- The episode ends with another incredibly tear-jerking scene. It was found that the boy had surviving relatives in Finland, they flew all the way to Halifax, Canada to visit his grave. They found that there were already flowers on his grave. It was then that they realized that ever since the baby died, the people of Halifax had been taking care of the boy as one of their own. It took nine decades and the love of countless strangers so that a baby boy could finally have a name.
- Worse still, they spoke to a lady whose mother met the boy's mother, recalling seeing her panicking in the flooding stairwell, lamenting to God, 'Do they all have to die by water?!' Yes, it seems just months before, Our Babe's older sister had drowned in a pond.
- One episode of Walking with Dinosaurs featured the last flight of a male Ornithocheirus (a massive flying reptile ) on his way to the mating grounds: it ends with the male dying alone on a deserted beach over the course of several agonizing hours. Everything about the scene, from the heartwrenching music to the sight of the creature trying desperately to rise one last time.
- In the sequel series Walking With Beasts, when the young indricothere (a giant giraffe-like rhino) was violently abandoned by its own mother as she got a new baby. RL is such a Crapsack World...
- What gets me every time isn't so much the Parental Abandonment itself; that was strongly foreshadowed earlier on in the episode. Instead, it's the scene where the young indricothere is injured while on his own, prompting him to return to his mother — except, now that she's suckling her new baby, she sees the previous one as nothing but a threat, and drives him away. It's worth noting that this practice occurs among modern-day rhinos as well.
- The Alzheimer's Project - just reading an article about it was enough to induce tears.
- China's Unnatural Disaster - The 2008 earthquake in China. All those children, almost all of them only children.... One mom: "I have no tears left" and later you see her neighbors berating her for protesting the Communist Party. They just want some answers, dammit!
- CBS did a miniseries of the life of George Washington. At the end of the Revolution, just before Washington resigns his command of the Continental Army to go home, he has a meeting with all of his principal commanders and staff. After a short speech Washington asked that each one of them to come up so he can shake their hand before he leaves. These men had fought a war that lasted eight years, fought in tremendous battles and suffered great deprivation and as they passed Washington both he and them (and the viewers) were so overwhelmed with emotion that no one was capable of speech and wept unashamed as Washington embraced each one of them. This was also Truth in Television.
- In the History Channel's The Revolution series, the show mentions that after the Revolutionary War, many of the American generals and officers were unhappy with Congress refusing to pay them, and began considering a military coup to seize power from Congress. Washington, horrified at the idea, confronts his officers. He gathers them all in the room and prepares to give a speech, but before doing so, puts on a pair of glasses. The officers are shocked, as they had never seen Washington wear glasses, and Washington explains that he had lost his vision over the course of the war. Realizing how much Washington had sacrificed to win the war, every single officer in the room breaks down in tears and the crisis is averted.
- The World At War is full of heartbreaking stories from various eyewitness accounts, but the speech from a Hungarian who'd survived a concentration camp - made even sadder by the speakers almost completely emotionless narrative.
You could say today I'm 27 years old. I was reborn when I left the camp. The years before didn't matter.
- The documentary Mayday! Bering Sea on the sinking of the Alaska Ranger, during Ed Cook talking about finding that his brother had died.
- History Cold Case is a programme which goes back in time and analyses dead bodies, finding out their history. One episode involved a Victorian prostitute, originally thought to be in her late 20s, racked with non-congenital, tertiary syphilis and likely to be utterly destitute, living in one of the most deprived areas of the country. That depressing enough for you? Then its revealed that the girls is in her late teens. This means that she would have had to have got her syphilis as a child, possibly when she was six/seven.
- One episode of Nova documented a six-year attempt to identify a World War II-era submarine that had been found off the coast of New Jersey. It was finally identified as U-869. The filmmakers found that one of the crewmembers' sisters had emigrated to the United States after the war and had settled in Maryland, a few hours from the New Jersey coast. She had been told that her brother's U-boat was presumed lost off Gibraltar. The filmmakers went to her home and filmed the moment that she was told that her brother was much closer than she had believed...
- Leopard Queen is a Nat Geo Wild documentary about a man's seventeen-year friendship with a wild leopard. Her death at the end is very sad.
- The "Victoria's Secret" arc in Due South. Especially at the end when Fraser chases the train to grab Victoria's hand and right when he reaches her gets accidentally shot by his best friend. Then, as he's lying on the platform bleeding, he recites the poem. Full scene here.
- Oh, man. The scene that does it for me is Fraser in the confessional, as he calmly/numbly explains how he and Victoria fell in love. It's the precision, the details, the absolute devastating clarity of Fraser's description... * bawl*
- Ray Kowalski's reaction when Ray Vecchio turns up again and his devastating fear when he thinks he'll lose Fraser which leads him to ask Meg Thatcher of all people the following: "You ever feel like you don't know who you are? Like if you weren't around somebody or that somebody wasn't around you, that you wouldn't be you or at least not the "you" that you think you are? Do you ever feel like that?" Heartbreaking. And then there was Fraser's final epilogue.
- Definitely YMMV for these two examples. I personally found Ray Kowalski very irritating in that scene, and Fraser very matter-of-fact and uncaring in his voiceover, which only made me sad because he seemed to have discarded Ray Vecchio as a friend!
- The final scene in "The Ladies Man," when Ray Kowalski breaks down in his car and starts to cry and Fraser awkwardly tries to comfort him.
- The final scene from "Juliet is Bleeding." Ray Vecchio is crying, or close to it, and Fraser never takes his eyes off him as a way of comforting his friend.
- Also, Ray V's reaction earlier in the episode, when Irene is shot and he carries her down the stairs
Eight Simple Rules
- 8 Simple Rules after John Ritter died. Just... those episodes. It's even worse if you've lost a loved one in real life.
Einstein and Eddington
- Einstein and Eddington, anyone? Eddington's best friend, William, is about to go off to fight in WWI and Eddington almost misses the train. Just when you think he's about to say goodbye to William, he's caught by a colleague seeing his son off and forced to make small talk. He cycles to the next station, but doesn't quite catch the train - he sees William on board, but William doesn't look out of the window. Later, inevitably, William dies at Ypres. Finally, Eddington breaks down and admits to his sister that he loved William, which is what he wanted to tell him at the station...and a few scenes later, to highlight the poignancy, the aforementioned colleague accuses Eddington of knowing nothing about grief.
- Nathan being erased from time at the end of "I Do Over".
- The end of the episode "Right as Raynes." After Callister and Zoey skip town, and Callister is leaning against the bus. With tears all around, including Nathan, Callister asks if a machine can have a soul, just before he dies in his creator, and truly his father's, arms. Seeing Nathan, of all people, in tears, somehow makes it worse.
- Kim 2.0 being melted in "Shower the People". Watching Henry keep himself from breaking down just makes it that much worse.
- Ricky Gervais' heartrending speech in the final episode. Damn you Gervais! Damn you and your incredible talent!
Extreme Makeover Home Edition
- Some of the episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition have Tear Jerker moments in them. The Wofford family, especially. If you don't tear up at least a little when the father starts whispering to the picture of his deceased wife, you have no soul.
- Some of the episodes?! Try the whole frickin' series, period! They should've called this show "Tear Jerker: The Series!"
- The worst is the episode about the Kadzis family. Absolute soul-wrenching sobs.
- The one where Alex's friend Greg dies in a car accident. The two-parter focuses solely on Alex reflecting on his past to a psychiatrist while coping with Greg's death.
Series/The Fast Show
- The sketch where Rowley Birkin talks about the only woman he truly loved who he lost due to his drinking and only utters his catchphrase after an long agonising pause
- And the slow zoom-out at the end instead of the usual jumpcut to the next sketch. Usually the catchphrase results in audience laughter - this one got a round of applause. And very well deserved it was too.
- On the episode 'Change of Address' when Gobo sang 'Petals of a Rose.'
- "Marooned": It's episodes like this that make Media Watchdogs forbid children's shows from showing two main characters slowly suffocating to death in the dark, wondering what it will feel like to die...
- Despite this (or possibly because of this), "Marooned" is considered by many fans to be the overall best episode of the series.
- "I'll miss the coffees."
- "While it's tempting to play it safe, the more we're willing to risk, the more alive we are. In the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took." Damn you, damn you, damn you and your tear jerking abilities, Kelsey Grammer.
- Daphne's breakdown while Niles is in surgery.
- The home movies of Frasier and Niles' mother.
- "Take it from someone who knows... you don't want to spend half your life thinking about a chance you didn't take."
- At the end of the 2001-2002 season premier, these words appeared on the screen: "In loving memory of our friends Lynn and David Angell". The executive producer and his wife, killed aboard the first plane to hit the World Trade Center.
- When Niles & Daphne named their baby David in the series finale.
- In the 9th Season, when Martin calls Eddie over for a hug after realizing how old he's gotten, and that he won't be around forever.
Freaks and Geeks
- Freaks and Geeks - Pick an episode. This was the most painful, aching example of growing up I've ever seen on television. "Carded and Discarded," "Kim Kelly Is My Friend," and "The Garage Door" are particularly painful examples. The bit when Neil told his mother that he didn't want to tell her what was bothering him because "he didn't want to ruin her life" was a real killer because it was so damn TRUE.
- "Dead Dogs and Gym Teachers" has not one but two such plots. In the first, Bill (a character usually played for comic relief) has to come to terms with his mother's new sweetheart, who happens to be his gym teacher and a leading cause of his isolation. In the second, Millie (a character usually played for comic relief) breaks down after her beloved dog is run over (unbeknownst to her, by Kim and Lindsay — the latter being her best friend). Fortunately for viewers' souls, the second halves of both plots pay dividends of the hilarious and heartwarming varieties.
Friday Night Lights
- The Son. Matt Saracen's father has died by stepping on a mine, and Matt is distraught with grief while agonizing over having not had the time to confess to his father exactly what he thought of him and felt about him.
- Matt: I gotta get up there in front of everybody and say good stuff about this man. and all I really want to say is ĎHere lies Henry Saracen, his mother annoyed him, his wife couldnít stand him and he didnít want to be a dad so he took off to be in the army because thatís the only way he could come up with to get out of here and ditch all your responsibilities and no one could call you out on it and that worked out great so you just decided to enlist four more times and that ended up getting you killed and now here you are. And all you left behind is a mother with dementia, a divorced wife and a son that delivers pizza. Thank you for coming 100 people I do not know.í You know what the worst part is even if I did get up and say all that I donít even know if Iím saying it to him because I donít know whatís in that damn box. Itís a closed casket might be someone else, someone funnier or a bunch of rocks.
- Fridays is a Saturday Night Live Expy-cum-Dueling Show from the early 1980s that not that many people remember and hasn't been seen on television in a long time (prior to 2013, the only way you could see Fridays was on YouTube or on the Seinfeld season three DVD set, which had clips of Michael Richards and Larry David, who were cast members on that show. Now, Shout! Factory and Hulu have released a collection of the best episodes of the series and YouTube has a lot of sketches uploadednote ). Nonetheless, it still had its Tear Jerker moments:
- Faced with the daunting task of doing a live comedy show the Friday after John Lennon's death and not making light of the tragedy, Fridays did itself proud. The show went on with no mention of Lennon until just after the "Friday Edition" news segment. Then the screen went blank and the words to "Imagine" scrolled across the screen. It said all that needed to be said.
- Another episode had a dramatic sketch in which a punk rocker (Michael Richards) returns home to his elderly father, who keeps asking who he is and telling the man that he has no son. The son takes this as a sign that his father wants nothing to do with him because the son had been away from home for so long. The son then gives an impassioned speech about loving and accepting him, despite the mistakes he made — until it's revealed that the man is right — the punk rocker really isn't his son, as in "He's not biologically related to him".
- Another sketch they had was one around the time of Ronald Reagan's assassination attempt where all of the cast members talk about where they were when they heard that a political figure was shot. Mark Blankfield'snote story of how he was in school when the principal announced that John F. Kennedy was shot was the most heart-wrenching, as his teacher tried to continue with class, but Blankfield broke down and cried.
- Early in the second season, Bill Lee (one of the producers) was diagnosed with cancer, and the goodnights for most of the shows had the cast member with the microphone saying some variant of "Get well, Bill" or "We miss you, Bill". Sadly, Lee succumbed to his illness on February 3, 1981; that week's show (Valerie Bertinelli with musical guest, The Jim Carroll Band) ended with John Moffitt (the other producer) eulogizing his professional partner and best friend before the credits ran over a black screen.
- In the season 3 finale, even knowing that it (probably) won't stick, Olivia's funeral and Peter breaking down in their kitchen is absolutely heartwrenching.