Tear Jerker: Survivor

  • Jenna Morasca quitting Survivor: All Stars to be with her cancer-stricken mother. At first this seems like a heartwarming moment, until you learn that she passed away merely eight days later.
    • As if that weren't bad enough, we later learn that Survivor: Africa winner and Jenna's fiance, Ethan Zohn has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Doubling as a Tear Jerker for Ethan and Jenna again. The poor girl just can't catch a break.
    • And they broke up, after a decade.
  • Russell Swan's exit in Samoa. The tribe leader who worked himself to death is still fighting Jeff telling him they had to evacuate him when he's extremely close to death and routinely passing out.
    • YMMV on whether or not this is Narm, but Russell Swan losing the fourth and final Matsing Immunity Challenge in Philippines qualifies. Going from being the leader of one of the most successful tribes in Survivor history before his evacuation in Samoa to being the leader of one of only two tribes to lose every single immunity challenge visibly breaks his heart. Even worse when you contemplate his Losing Is Worse Than Death mentality spawned by both his loyalty to God and by a small yet powerfully traumatic incident he had as a child that put him on his guard.
      • The whole fourth episode of Philippines qualifies when you take into account that Matsing is not going to have an epic comeback. It's clear that the three of them are just miserable. Malcolm even said it was the lowest moment of his life, and Malcolm isn't the type that gets affected all that often.
  • Episode 8 of Thailand is often overlooked or seen by some as Narm, but it is truly affecting to see the last 4 Sook Jais so distraught over having no choice but to vote someone out. Jake, in particular, felt extremely guilty for having lost the Immunity Challenge for the tribe. They spent most of their last day as a tribe together, comforting each other. Even sadder when you realize that there is nowhere for them to hide and they are going into the late merge down in numbers 5-3, and all of them will be Pagonged.
  • While it was highly entertaining and a signature moment in the entire series, Brandon's meltdown in Survivor: Caramoan has to make you feel at least a little sympathy for Brandon. He is clearly mentally unstable and suffering from the pressure his family puts on his shoulders.
    • Brandon in general has many tendencies of mental illness and seeing them, the show's treatment and possible exploitation of it, and the derisive reactions of the viewers can be very triggering to people with mental illnesses who watch Survivor.
  • Kat in Survivor: One World is lucky to be alive and may not live very long after she was eliminated. Not only did she have surgery several occasions in the past, but she has to undergo surgery again after the season and she could die.
  • In the Nicaragua family visit, Chase has promised to take Fabio on the family reward from early on in the game because they bonded over how close they were to their mothers, but when Chase and his mother wins it, Chase decides to pick Sash and Holly. The look on Fabio's face is one of pure heartbreak, and he's bawling as he calls Chase out.
    Dan: He's a scumbag.
  • Lillian being voted out in Survivor: Pearl Islands, if only for one line:
    Jeff: They don't want you to leave.
    Lil: Yeah, right.
  • In general, Lil is just a truly pitiful case. After being isolated from her tribe and voted out third, she returns via the Outcast Twist, but is drastically in over her head. Constantly emotional to the extreme, Lil would go through the entire merge being lied to, hurt, and demeaned. While she had an epic moment taking down Fairplay in the FIC, she would go into Final Tribal Council only to be completely brutalized by the jury (according to outside sources, including the man himself, Fairplay delivered an inhumanely hateful speech that couldn't be aired solely to make her life hell) and she ended up getting slaughtered in the final vote (6-1). To add insult to injury, when the jury said in the reunion that they would vote for her over Fairplay, they had only done so because producers tipped them off to lie in order to keep Lil from crying during the reunion. Regardless of what you might feel about her, there's no denying that it is very hard to have as miserable of a Survivor experience as Lil did (although Woobies like Bobby Jon Drinkard and Kathy Vavrick O'Brien give her a run for her money.)
  • Sophie's massive Defrosting Ice Queen moment in the South Pacific finale can be hard to watch, especially seeing it come from someone as tough and controlled as her. After Ozzy and her get into a fight at the F5 Tribal Council, she tries to brush off Ozzy's statements that everyone on the jury hates her, but slowly begins to break down into tears and then sobs. The jury is visibly stunned.
    • Especially heartbreaking is this exchange:
      Jeff: Do you see this as any kind of opportunity, if you survive tonight's vote, of thickening the skin?
      Sophie: I mean, I would say that I learn more from my weaknesses from my strengths. I would think that when I came out here that I would have much tougher skin, so I don't think I'm building skin out here, I think I'm losing it.
  • A bit of an underrated sad moment is Frosti getting voted out 7-1 in Survivor: China. He's such a likable character that even Todd, a strategist who had no problems before and after cutting the throats of allies, says he finds it hard to vote him out. When Frosti gets the votes the expression on his face is pure rejection, and every vote comes up for him with a small drawn frown-face. After he leaves to go, no one seems even remotely happy that they had to vote him out.
  • Jonathan Penner's evacuation in Micronesia. It's enough when the rest of his tribe starts to cry at the news, but when Kathy Sleckman, who's already emotionally on the edge, begs him not to go, it's enough to tip it over the top. Then, cut to the boat where Jonathan is hunched over sobbing and try not to feel sympathy.
  • This secret scene from Aras about his former drug addict brother Vytas.
  • After Tina is responsible for Katie's elimination, she talks about how she was adopted and never felt the strength of a blood bond to her family, but when she gave birth to Katie, she was the first person she truly felt that bond with in her life. It's heartwarming and sad enough, until you remember that Tina and Katie lost their son and brother, respectively, in a car crash after filming just two weeks before the finale, in fact the week before this episode was on TV.
  • In June 2014, Blood vs. Water contestant's Caleb Bankston's death due to a train he was working on derailing, apparently only weeks before he was to be married to his fiance, Colton Cumbie.
    • On the day Caleb and Colton were supposed to be married, Colton posted this. Try not to cry.
  • Shirin explaining her past and how her family was torn apart by domestic abuse. Made even worse by Will continuously interrupting her and accusing her of playing the victim.