Tear Jerker / Survivor

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     Moments On The Show 

Evacuations

  • Michael from the Australian Outback becoming the first player to be medically evacuated. For those who need a recap; Michael fell into the campfire and severely burned his hands. We're treated to close ups of his burnt hands as well as him screaming in pain, and all his teammates can do is offer moral support. By the time he's evacuated, everyone, including the camera crew, is in shock and disbelief. This was the moment that established that for all the glitz and glamor that the media bestowed on the castaways, this wasn't a vacation. This was truly a reality show where bad things could happen to anyone.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Terry getting pulled out of the game with the news that his son was in the hospital, and both his wife and the doctor said he should come home as soon as possible, with Terry not even hesitating or questioning about doing so. His son needed a heart transplant, and was fortunately fine after the surgery.
  • All of the evacuations in Kaoh Rong are heartbreaking to watch.
    • The end of the Episode 4 reward challenge in Kaoh Rong, where THREE people went down after the challenge and the entire production crew getting involved to care for the fallen contestants. It is then deemed that Caleb had to be pulled from the game in a very heart wrenching scene. His tribe members, especially Tai, who really bonded with him, were absolutely distraught. For those who disliked him in Big Brother, you can't help but to feel sorry for him, especially since he Took A Level in Kindness since his time on Big Brother.
    • Neal's elimination on episode 7 of Kaoh Rong. His fifteen year long dream was looking promising, but he was medically removed from the game resulting in his Manly Tears. The dream is possibly over and he will never have a clear answer if he would have taken control of the game the next two tribal councils. The episode put focus on his friendship with Aubry, and the potetial foreshadowing that many other players could also be evacuated due to infections.
    • At the Final 5 of Kaoh Rong, Joe, after winning a reward challenge despite his old age, came down with constipation and bladder trouble thanks to all of the food he ate. After medical came to camp to check on him, it was deemed that he had to be pulled from the game. For a man his age (he is 72, the second oldest contestant to play) to make it this far and then be pulled due to matters out of his control, it's hard not to shed a tear for him.

Other Moments

  • All Stars:
    • 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.
    • Rudy being voted out in All Stars. The 75 year old Navy SEAL veteran was voted out for his age being a burden on the ailing Saboga tribe, despite being respected by all of his tribemates. After Rudy is voted out, Jeff comments on the fact that they didn't want to vote him out, but they didn't have a choice and someone had to go. Jerri is especially in tears.
    Jeff: Well Tribal Council is an interesting place. Always emotional. Tonight was no exception. How could you not like Rudy? 75 year old former NAVY SEAL, hanging with kids a third of his age. A hero in anybody's book. I know you didn't want to vote him out, and yet, somebody had to go, which is exactly what makes Survivor what it is, complicated.
    • Boston Rob and Lex's fight in All-Stars. Going into the game the two were very good friends and were reported to have had one of the tightest friendships between former players at the time. Although they went into the game intending on aligning with each other they ended up on different tribes and eventually came into conflict. And unlike in future seasons where players return and have pre-existing relationships, All-Stars was the first of its kind and there was no precedent in place for how to balance friendship and the game. As a result, Rob and Lex permanently ended their friendship. While the conflict and their behaviour is extremely controversial and divisive in the fanbase, the fact remains that for the first time the game ruined a pre-existing relationship and there was basically no way either player could have been prepared for it.
    • All Stars in general is a very dark season. All of the players were really tight and close with each other, and friendships were put on the line when they played the game. This culminates at Final Tribal Council, where pretty much the entire jury is bitter towards the two finalists. As Jerri said at the reunion, "it's not worth it."
    • The bullying of Shii-Ann was horrible. Throughout the merge, especially after losing Kathy, she was treated like garbage by nearly everyone. They made no secret she was next to go - and when she won immunity they still kept up their terrible treatment, sneering at her victory and outright ignoring her as they targeted each other. The only consolation from her treatment was that Amber gave her a car after the show for being the swing vote that won her the million dollars, but is it no wonder Shii-Ann decided not to return after that?
  • 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.
    • Not only that, but Jane, who was also left unpicked, said that this summer was the last time she would get to see her daughter before she left for college.
  • 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. And not only that, in the DVD commentary, it was revealed that she was only voted back into the game not because she was the most deserving, it was because the pre-jurors didn't want her around during their pre-merge vacation, so essentially she was voted out of the Outcasts! 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.
  • This secret scene from Aras about his former drug addict brother Vytas.
  • Kass, the resident villain and shit-stirrer of her season, winning the Final 4 immunity to the elation of her husband can be a happy tearjerking moment. For one, she made a massive comeback from being long abandoned on the perch twenty minutes after everyone was on the puzzle. To see her pull out the unexpected win while her husband cheers on ecstatically is an unforgettable moment, made even sweeter by the fact that she admits that she needed him there.
  • 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.
    • Harsher in Hindsight, as in Cambodia, Shirin shares an antagonistic relationship with Abi-Maria that ends with her laughing at Abi's complaints, who tearfully laments that the reason she wanted to side with Shirin was because she understood what she went through in her season.
  • In one episode of Cook Islands, the Aitus find a bird's nest and Cao Boi pokes it with a stick to see if there are any eggs to be eaten. Then they knock it out of the tree and see that there are none, Penner looks into the bush that the nest had fallen into and finds a baby bird. It was literally less than a day old, as Penner tearfully mentions how it still has the gunk from the inside of its shell still on it. They (most likely futilely) put it back in the nest and hope for the best.
  • Janu's storyline in Palau. Throughout the entire game, she was made fun of by her Koror tribemates. In episode 10, she is sent to Exile Island, where she finally has some peace alone on the island, away from her tribe, which she claims was the best part of her experience. At the end of the episode, she decides that she has had enough and decides to throw a wrench in her tribe's plans by quitting the game to save Stephenie. Who knows what else happened to her that wasn't shown on screen? It's hard not to feel bad for her.
  • The ending of the Tocantins auction is this and doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. Jeff puts up the last item up for bid- video messages from home, and allows people to pool money. Everyone begins to give their money to Taj, who left her newborn baby at home to play Survivor, and she is clearly in tears. Even Jeff comments on their generosity in such a cutthroat game. After watching the video, Taj is in tears and is very emotional when she finds out that her husband is there. Jeff then says that only she will be able to see her loved one unless she sends herself to exile island to meet her husband there so everyone can see their loved ones. As a thanks to her tribemates, she sends herself to exile. Truly an emotional scene.
  • A sort of underrated sad moment in Kaoh Rong is the lead up to Debbie's blindside. Throughout the episode, Debbie is nothing but supportive towards the women's alliance, actively cheering on the other girls to succeed in challenges and very motherly towards them, and she absolutely trusted Aubry - saying that the remaining Brains were like The Three Musketeers, how she'll never vote out Aubry and Aubry will never her, and even outright saying to Joe at Tribal Council that she "loves that girl". She put so much love and trust into her alliance that, despite how kooky she is, it's actually uncomfortable to watch her get voted out.
  • After Cydney loses the firemaking challenge in Kaoh Rong, she talks about how she wanted to use the money to help herself and her parents to pay their mortgage. It really is a tearjerking moment.
  • One of the first tearjerkers in the show's history came during Borneo: A post-merger reward challenge had the castaways compete in an archery contest. The reward was home movies from the loved ones of the castaways. It's all pretty heartwarming to see their families wish them well...until Jeff informs Jenna they never received a tape from hers. Jenna instantly breaks down, and everyone tries to comfort her.
    • The winner of the challenge would get to record their own video message to send back to their family. And Jenna loses that too. While the rest of the castaways join Greg in making the video, we see Jenna solemnly shooting at the target so many times that the bow and arrow leaves scars on her, complete with a tearful voiceover about how much she misses her kids. Her breakdown was so bad that the tribe nearly voted her off out of pity.
    • Thankfully all this sets up a nice heartwarming moment in the next episode: the reward was letters from the castaway's families, including Jenna's. Colleen wins the challenge, but then Jeff tells her that she can select another castaway to share the reward. She immediately picks Jenna.

     Moments Off of the Show 
  • As if Jenna's mother passing away wasn'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.
  • 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.
    • The death of any Survivor is truly awful. B.B. Anderson from Borneo passed away in 2013 after succumbing to brain cancer, and Jennifer Lyon from Palau died from breast cancer in 2010, just ten days after visiting the ten-year survivor reunion.
  • On March 17th, 2016, Josh and Reed broke up.
  • After China winner Todd Herzog won the show, he started to have an drinking problem. He made an appearance on Dr. Phil where he could barely walk and was clearly miserable. It's hard not to feel bad for the guy.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TearJerker/Survivor