Tear Jerker: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Don't worry, she's not really dead!

The Disney film

  • The sheer intensity of "The Bells of Notre Dame" informing us of Quasi's backstory:
    "You can lie to yourself and your minions
    You can claim that you haven't a qualm
    But you never can run from
    Nor hide what you've done from the eyes
    The very eyes of Notre Dame..."
  • When Quasimodo is tormented by the townspeople during the Feast Of Fools.
    • Also: Quasimodo flinching in fear as Esmeralda approaches him while he's tied up, and her reassuring him to "Don't be afraid".
      • It gets worse when you realize that Esmeralda's compassionate look isn't born out of the fact she feels sorry for Quasimodo and because she's a nice person. The look on her face is that of somebody who knows what it's like to be outcast (as her ballad "God Help the Outcasts" later on reveals). Esmeralda has been established as a resilient, intelligent and kind person...and most likely has endured being shunned/outcast/humiliated as Quasimodo just endured.
      • The shot of Esmeralda from Quasi's POV, bathed in light, with an expression of pure compassion on her face? Kills me. Kills!
      • Quasi being tortured by the crowd. He begs his master to help and Frollo just looks away and does nothing!
    • ALSO: Quasi limping back to Notre Dame in the pouring rain, and then shutting the massive door behind him with... Oh God, that heartbreaking look on his face...
      • If you listen closely, you can hear the crowd saying things such as "Oh my goodness, he's hideous!". Poor Quasi.
  • Every song Quasimodo sings is, if not tragic (my God, "Heaven's Light (Reprise)") is unbelievably beautiful and uplifting
    I knew I'd never know that warm and loving glow
    Though I might wish with all my might
    No face as hideous as my face
    Was ever meant for Heaven's Light...
    • "God Help The Outcasts". It might be the most beautiful Disney song ever created.
  • When Frollo holds baby Quasi over the well during 'Bells of Notre Dame', fully prepared to kill an infant. It's one of the most callous things a Disney villain has done - preparing to drown a baby simply for its deformity.
  • The fact that Frollo gave Quasi a name that means "half-formed" will in itself make you cry, if it doesn't make you boiling mad first. The guy is the epitome of Jerk Ass.
  • When Quasi thinks Esmeralda is dead, the look on his face is just so heartbreakingly sad.
  • The song at the end, with the line "Who is the monster and who is the man?" because it sums up the theme of the film, and causes you to flash back through the events of the story and appreciate Quasi's journey.
  • At the beginning, Quasi is all excited about going to the festival, but the second he bumps into Frollo, all joy is gone and he is scared and trembling. Quasimodo has to be the woobiest of all Disney heroes
  • During the opening of "Out There", Frollo curls his fist like his is threatening Quasimodo.
    • And in the intro to "Out There" when Frollo sings that Quasimodo is deformed and ugly and he is the only one who is looking out for Quasimodo, Quasimodo brokenly repeating these lines. It really hits home for someone who has been emotionally abused by a parent.
    • Heck, "Out There" itself is a really sad "I Want" song if you think about it. It's all about Quasimodo's longing to be able to be normal and be amid people...for just one day. It really resonates for people who have been bullied, outcast or shunned for things they couldn't control.
  • Try not to cry when Quasi finds out that Esmeralda loves Phoebus instead of him.
    • Especially when he rips the ace of hearts in half...
    • Topped off with the heartbreaking reprise of "Heaven's Light".
  • "I ask for nothing; I can get by. But I know so many less lucky than I..." Even after everything Esmeralda goes through—sexual harassment, imprisonment, persecution for her race—she still uses her prayer to ask God to help others, not herself, saying she'll be fine. That single line shows just how selfless she really is. And most people still only remember her as "the hot Disney girl".
  • Say what you will about it being an Award Bait Song, but the intended version of Someday still exists on some special features, and is perhaps more heartrending than "God Help the Outcasts" in its plea for justice.
    • In fact that was the very reason the song was cut and replaced with "God Help the Outcast," it was too emotional.
  • True, most of Hellfire is Frollo singing about how much he blames Esmeralda for tempting him and how if she won't submit to him she'll burn - he'll kill her - but after he throws her scarf on the fire, he murmurs "God have mercy on her," and his voice breaks as he whispers "God have mercy on me." He hates what's happening to him and knows it's wrong, but he can't see any way out. There's just enough of his real faith left for him to beg for one.

Stage Play (Berlin and USA Productions)

  • Esmeralda's introductory song (in the German version) where she got thrown out of a city for protesting injustice. She calls herself a fool for continuing to right wrongs and paying the price.
  • "Someday" is included in the German version, sung by Esmeralda and Phoebus as she's escorted to the stake.
  • While chained to the cathedral and Forced to Watch Esmeralda's execution, Quasimodo tells the gargoyles to Get Out in song form since they're "Made of Stone" and every time he takes their suggestions he gets in trouble. They finally agree with him and turn to stone
    Antoine: But we thought you were made of something fore.
    • The entirety of "Made of Stone," for that matter is a powerfully heartbreaking song in it's own right. Quasimodo has reached his Despair Event Horizon and in his sorrow over his part in the upcoming demise of Esmeralda, his only true friend, he chooses to break off ties with his sanity and with the rest of humanity, choosing to live a life void of emotion and feeling as if he too where "Made of Stone"
  • Esmeralda gets Killed Off for Real, despite Quasimodo saving her from the stake, suffering from smoke inhalation. She thanks him for being a friend to her and falls unconscious.
    • Quasi, not understanding, shakes her several times, saying her name, until it sinks then. Then he breaks down.
    • To drive the knife in further, Frollo appears, and is ecstatic that he and Quasi are free from the "spell of Esmeralda." Quasi, grief-stricken, attacks his former master and drops him from the Notre Dame steeples. While this is going on the gargoyles (or the Greek Chorus) echo Frollo's words "The wicked shall be punished".
    • After this, Quasimodo does a Dark Reprise of "Out There" about how the world is full of cruelty, but also sparks of light, like Esmeralda. He and Phoebus exit with Esmeralda's body, and Clopin offers another Dark Reprise of "Bells of Notre Dame."
    • Clopin, formerly the bright-eyed narrator, Well-Intentioned Extremist and A Father to His Men, is completely broken in the end. In this case, he says "I wish I could offer you a moral/ A trinket to hold in your palm." His question of "what makes a monster and what makes a man?" has more moral ambiguity, given that Quasimodo actually did a monstrous (if satisfying) thing by killing Frollo instead of watching him fall to his death.
  • In the USA production, the death of Frollo, of all people, is actually quite tragic, due to him being a much more sympathetic and fatherly character. After Quasimodo hurls him to his death, he stares at his master's (offstage) body on the ground and quietly states "There lies...all that I have ever loved..." before breaking down completely.