This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.
Tear Jerker / Orange Is the New Black
Tricia's death, and the subsequent ways that the inmates deal with their grief.
Taystee's confession to Poussey about why she couldn't handle it on the outside.
The reason Janae is in prison. She was a promising athlete who fell in with a bad crowd. She ended up robbing a store with her boyfriend, who managed to escape in the chaos, leaving her behind.
Suzanne weeping during Larry's radio show and earlier that episode, when she asked Piper why everyone called her Crazy Eyes.
The reactions from Claudette and Piper herself are also brutal.
Pornstache inadvertently confessing his loneliness and self-loathing to Bennett.
Chapman's breakdown in solitary during the 'Fucksgiving' episode. She may or may not have been hearing voices.
Miss Claudette losing her appeal after excitedly dreaming of the things she'd do after gaining freedom. She flies into such a rage that she starts choking the guard Susan. The inmates comment that as soon as you lay your hands on a guard, you're moved to maximum security, and you never get out.
"Your tits are better than mine." The whole scene, but Sophia's wife's comments, dear God.
"Why do people call me Crazy Eyes?"
Maria is so excited to meet her baby that she doesn't realize it'll be taken from her shortly after its birth.
Yoga Jones' crime: She was drunk, standing in her marijuana field at night with a shotgun hoping to kill any deer that might try to eat her crop. She shot at something moving in the dark...only to learn that it was a child. The boy had tried to run away from home because his father took away his video games. And he lived nearby, so its possible that she knew him. No wonder Yoga Jones is so haunted by it.
Larry's reaction when he discovers that it was Piper who came on to Alex, not the other way around. The look on his face is heartbreaking.
The way his voice breaks when he asks, "Do you love her?"
"Bitches gots to learn." Piper's speech to Dina about how prison will ruin you simply by forcing you to confront yourself affects not only Dina, but all of the inmates, kids and guards who were listening outside.
Even though Pennsatucky is the Big Bad, the sight of her panicking and crying out when she ends up strapped to her bed in Psych is devastating. And even though she didn't become religious until after she got a Christian lawyer, her anger towards God for believing that He abandoned her during a time when she genuinely believed she was helping people was pretty harsh, too, considering religion was clearly just as much of a comfort for her as it was a tool.
Everyone believed that Flores is insane, talking to herself in the one stall with a door on it. It turns out she was just talking to her boyfriend via a hidden cell phone. She's overjoyed when she gets a visit from him and it's a cute moment... Until Piper has to turn in the cell phone to Healy in order to try and get the track open. Flores is so upset when she realizes that her connection to her boyfriend is gone that she breaks the bathroom door and is taken away, crying. And then we see her later in Psych...
The truth about Morello's backstory - she and Christopher were never actually engaged, and he never loved her. They only went on one date and she basically stalked him prior to her incarceration. Yet she still deludes herself into thinking the opposite.
This becomes more tragic when he comes to visit her in prison, loudly announcing to everyone there exactly what she did.
When Jimmy (the elderly senile woman) is taken away after breaking her arm for a "compassionate release" and she cries for help from "Roberta" (what she calls Piper). Compassionate release meaning being thrown out onto the streets and left homeless to avoid having to pay the costs of caring for a senile woman
Piper's entire relationship with Jimmy is both tearjerking and heartwarming; she starts looking after her, cutting up her food for her, and listening to her stories about Jack. It's most likely because Piper has learned that her grandmother is dying. Jimmy's senility is very sad in itself, especially since she isn't getting help for it; the other inmates are the ones taking care of her.
When Piper looks the other way when Lolli is beaten by the other women.
Rosa's backstory when both men that she falls in love with end up dying. She thinks that she's actually cursed, and panics when the boy she's formed a friendship with through their chemotherapy sessions appears to get bad news about his cancer. She even states that all of the men in her life end up dying, and seems genuinely upset until she learns it's good news; the boy has gone into remission. The scene becomes a tearjerker for an entirely different reason then.
When Taystee confronts Poussey and pushes her down after Vee throws her out of the group. The expression on Poussey's face and Taystee's subsequent reaction is both tearjerking and heartwarming.
Soso being forced to take a shower. Sure, she's naive and irritating, but the utter look of defeat on her face is genuinely heartbreaking.
For Pete, being told that his wife is leaving him for his close friend.
One for Fig of all people, when she walks in on her husband and his staffer kissing. Even though she's a total jerkass, it was sad to see her like that.
On a more subtle level, Taystee as a character. As the first season hinted at and the second season further explores, she's very smart and charismatic but spent her life trapped by her racial and class background, with Vee the only person who gave her a chance.
It is sad to see as the season goes along that Vee really doesn't genuinely care for Suzanne and that she's only using her for for own advantage.
The scene of Suzanne sitting on her bed clutching the pack of Uno cards, crying her eyes out with no one comforting her. Its obvious she's just come to the realisation that Vee, her only 'friend', was using her
Generally a lot of Suzanne's scenes this season, especially the flashbacks of her as a kid, being isolated.
After Red is brutally beaten by Vee and her girls while Norma is forced to watch, and she is lying on the ground, bloody, whimpering, and sobbing. By extension, seeing Poussey in a similar position when Vee lets Suzanne beat her up and leave her crying in the bathroom.
Piper finding out that her grandmother passed away just a short time before she managed to get off on furlough, which had been almost impossible to achieve.
The anger and hostility that the other inmates have against Piper for her getting furlough is a Tear Jerker in itself; at first it seems like they're just jealous that she gets to be free for two days and do whatever she wants, but later on it's clear why they're upset: they had to miss their own share of tragedies, such as missing the birth of grandchildren and Poussey losing her mother.
Black Cindy of all people has one when her flashbacks show that she rarely visits her sister and when she does, she gives her a stolen iPad. And when she gets called out it's revealed that her sister is actually her daughter and she wants to take her back but it's clear she wouldn't be able to handle it. It makes you look at the usually upbeat woman in a different light.
Taystee's relationship with RJ, someone who she likely harbored romantic feelings for. She believed that he died as a result of carrying a weapon, even after Vee tells him not to. It's later revealed that Vee found out he was planning to start his own dealing operation and had him killed by her corrupt cop buddy. She was supposed to be like his mother!
A subtle one. Up until '40 OZ of Furlough,' Red has been working on earning the forgiveness of her prison family and reestablishing her reputation while also dealing with her own family, none of whom have visited save her son Vasily, and she is worried that something might be wrong. When Piper receives furlough, Red asks her to stop by her husband's business if she has time to visit. When Piper does visit, it's apparent that the shop has been out of business for a while.
Even sadder is when Piper can't bear to tell Red the truth, and Red seems so happy when Piper spins a tale about visiting the shop. It's a real bitch, knowing she's going to eventually find out.
Compare Brook's first few conversations with Piper, to their last one in the finale. Brook is a lot less warm and bubbly, and you can tell prison has really broken her spirit.
After a season of getting colder and insisting to her dad that she is who she truly is while in prison, Piper admits that she doesn't like who she's becoming once Soso tells her how alone she feels, and that prison only changes people for the worse.
Piper's pained screaming at the end of "Thirsty Bird", when she realizes that by taking Alex's advice, she just missed out on her chance to get out of prison early, and may face additional prison time for perjury while Alex walks free.
The ending to "Empathy Is a Boner Killer". Long story short, Angie and Leanne (who find and steal the heroin Nicky and Boo had planned to sell, before getting the heroin stolen back from them by Luschek) rat out Luschek to any authority figure they can find. This spurs Caputo and a pair of guards to perform a drug sweep on Luschek's desk, where they find heroin-laced gum. Luschek IMMEDIATELY passes the buck to Nicky, who is hastily cuffed and sent on her way to maximum security. As she's being led through the halls, Lorna and Red try to stop the guard, Red claiming that Nicky is 'her daughter'. After a tearful goodbye (and heartbreaking looks from all three), Nicky's led into the prison's transport shuttle. Pennsatucky asks Nicky if she said goodbye to 'her people' - and I quote, 'the dykes, your mom' - to which Nicky replies "Red's not my mom. I wouldn't wish that on her. I wouldn't wish that on anyone."
Taystee breaking down when trying to tell Crazy Eyes that Vee is dead, because even though they're better off without her, she was still a big part of Taystee's life that's now gone.
When Boo is going to meet the "Eastberg" Baptist minister, she has her hair done in a more "hetero," conservative style with Tiffany watching. She says "I look like my mother," and the look on her face is heartbreaking. We then find out that when Boo's mother died, they had been estranged for years because of Boo's orientation and her choice of self-expression.
"Mother's Day" has an incredibly sad flashback to Nicky as a child, in which during Mother's Day her mother ignores the breakfast she made for her, having been stated to have been up since six in the morning to cook it for her only to be unknowingly brushed off by her mother more concerned with the fact she isn't properly dressed yet. Her dejected comment to the maid on how she didn't even acknowledge the handmade card she made for her is heartbreaking.
Morello begs Sophia to do her hair for her because she wants to feel better and she admits that she throws up often now and it's the only thing that kind of makes her feel better.
Pennsatucky, after the guard rapes her in the van. "I wanted him to stop, so bad."
In Episode 12, when Boo attempts to help Pennsatucky take revenge on Coates for raping her. This seems like it would be played for laughs at first, but Pennsatucky is clearly reluctant to go along with it. When Boo asserts it would help her work out her anger, Pennsatucky simply looks up in utter defeat and says "I don't have rage. I'm just sad." The fact that this is coming from Pennsatucky, of all people, makes it doubly heartbreaking.
In "Trust No Bitch", Aleida calling Mrs. Mendez to inform her that Daya's baby (boy) was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and that the baby died. Despite the fact that she was lying, the audience doesn't know that at this point and, even on rewatch, Mrs. Mendez's face is enough on its own to make tears roll.
Soso's attempted suicide. You slowly see her become more and more depressed as the season goes on, and it's so sad to see the once bright and chatty girl become so desperate for an end to the loneliness.
Pennsatucky paying her respects to her aborted children on Mother's Day. Regardless of any political feelings on abortion, it's clear that Pennsatucky is filled with deep regret and sadness over them.
Luschek visits Nicky in prison, largely to absolve his own guilt over send her there. Nicky completely chews him out, and explains the hell he sent her to where she is constantly surrounded by her addiction and she is completely alone. It's horrible to see her losing control like that, as all her pain is dragged to the surface.
Literally any scene showing Sophia in the SHU, particularly when she's interacting with Caputo or Nicky. A particularly painful one is when her conversation with Nicky is interrupted by a guard, and Sophia quietly begs to know whether it's raining outside as Nicky walks away.
Healy calling Katya and leaving a heartfelt message because he just wants someone to talk to. Then he proceeds to walk deeper into the ocean as if he's ready to kill himself, only to be stopped when he hears his phone ring. He goes back, probably thinking Katya is answering him, but it's just work. He may have done some shitty things before, but after witnessing how crappy his life was growing up and how lonely he is, you really can't help but feel bad for him.
Healy slowly bonds with Lolly over the course of the season through their mutual fear of dealing with everyday life, but she ends up sinking further into her schizophrenia, and eventually he has to admit her to psych. There’s a double punch in the scene where they’re dragging her away as Lolly screams for Healy’s help, and Healy with his hands on the psych ward bars watches on in tears.
Suzanne's back story, which we get more of in Season 4. First, her desperate attempts to make friends, then her innocent kidnapping of a child, who falls out her apartment window. It's a gut-wrenching scene, because it's all gone so terribly wrong. Poor Suzanne!
Red finding Nicky high and out of her mind in the shower stalls. Nicky clearly wants a reaction out of Red, wants her to get angry, but instead Red breaks down crying because she feels she failed Nicky by letting her fall back into addiction. She says that Nicky looks like she's already dead, and she’s going to fail her just like she failed Tricia.
The abuse that Maritza suffers through under one of the sadistic new guards. Specifically when he forces her to eat a live baby mouse after hearing her having a ‘would you rather’ conversation with Flaca. When Flaca finds her afterwards she’s in terrified tears, and her horrified explanation that she could feel its toes as she swallowed it is both chilling and heartbreaking.
Fan-favorite Poussey's sudden, tragic, completely avoidable death in the penultimate episode, asphyxiating after being kneeled on by Bayley as he tries to fight off Suzanne. It brings out a slew of other tearjerking moments:
Taystee's howl of agony when she sees Poussey's body.
Bayley's near-suicidal depression when he realizes what he's done (as the death was an accident).
Poussey's body being left in the cafeteria for a day before they can move it.
Suzanne piling books on her chest to know what it's like to not breathe.
Suzanne not being able to decide if she should say Poussey keeps books under her bed, or kept.
Various prisoners from different cliques offering their condolences to Poussey’s friends.
The Mood Whiplash moment of Cindy and Watson remembering Poussey's amazing singing voice, laughing over her exploits with a shewee, and then bursting into tears.
After one of the white supremacists makes a joke about Poussey being wheeled of in an ambulance despite being dead, Watson snaps and punches her, and then breaks down into floods of tears.
Norma rocking a hysterical Soso back and forth while singing quietly. So heartbreaking seeing as it's silent Norma.
Soso later mourning alone with some of Poussey's homemade alcohol. Given how her relationship with Poussey showed her as the happiest she had ever been in the show, it's especially sad to see her regress to the sad loner she was in season three.
Taystee exploding over Caputo in his office.
The Hispanic inmates discussing when they can get back in the kitchen and what they should make, because they feel the need to provide food for the grieving.
The MCC won’t even let Caputo call the police before they come up with a spin story to either make Poussey look like a violent thug, or her killer, a sweet kid who was in completely in over his head and is now practically suicidal over having killed someone, look like a murderous loose cannon.
When Caputo finally defies his MCC overlords and calls Poussey's father to tell him about his daughter's death - all the more heartbreaking because we know from flashbacks that Poussey actually did have loving and supportive parents. You can tell he's never dreaded anything so much in his life as he says "No, she's not okay."
It's quite a high adrenaline moment, but the prisoners going into full riot mode after they find out of that the guard is not going to be fired, and Poussey didn’t even get mentioned by name in the official statement. It really puts into perspective the amount of rage and pain they’re all feeling.
Finally, the season closing with one last shot of Poussey in a flashback of her outside, in a happier time, a sad and jarring cut from the rage and violence that's overtaken the prison in its final scene.
It's almost cruel to see the intercut flashback scenes of Poussey’s life before prison, where she really lived life to its fullest, and was such a bright happy person, and then to snap back to the present where she’s still lying dead on the cafeteria floor.
Made even worse with a throwaway line from one of the MCC handlers. He lists off Poussey's crimes, trespassing and possession. The flashback has her, having hopped a fence with the "monks" and smoking some weed with them. The little "it's gonna be okay" smile she gives at the end? Likely just before police showed up. Her dream of a better life in Amsterdam never happened, and never will, now.
Seeing just how far the sociopathic new guards have pushed the inmates, to the point where in the finale, they’re all screaming for Daya to shoot the CO. They’re so angry, and have been pushed so far to the edge, that they are all screaming for blood. It's terrible to see the characters that viewers know as kind, funny, caring people, who have been dealt a hard life, pushed down and broken to that level.
Hell, the fact that it's Daya, who spent the last 3 seasons drawing cute pictures and being so in love with John and so ready to have her baby, and is now holding a man at gunpoint really shows how the situation has passed the point of no return.
Aleida's look of horror watching Caputo's press conference, where he only says "a young woman" was killed.Adult Fear in its purest form.
Maria, Flores and the Hispanic inmates crudely branding a Swastika onto Piper's forearm while she screams in agony. Despite her jerkass tendencies that scene complete with her being ignored by the prison population while everyone is socializing together and dancing is quite sad. And then Hapakuka turns on her for treating her horribly and sells her out to the Hispanic inmates
The next episode shows Piper crying in her bunk and when Hapakuka asks her if she's okay Piper responds brokenly "Not even a little bit." She also looks unwell physically as well as mentally.