Follow TV Tropes


Heartwarming / Cold Case

Go To

As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.

     Season 1 
  • The ending of Gleen after the killer is arrested, the victim's daughter sees her mother's ghost. The latter gives an approving nod, because her daughter turned out "head strong" enough to do the right thing and help stop a bad guy.
    • Out of principle that Gwen still loves her father, Lily simply leads Rob away without cuffing him, allowing him to be arrested with dignity.
    • The implication that although she wasn't married into her family proper, Rob's would-be bride will act like a mother figure to Gwen.
  • In Fly Away, Toya's teacher has nothing but good things to say about how much Rosie loved and took good care of her daughter. She hasn't forgotten that, even years after the fateful night of the crime.
    • In the end Rosie sees the ghost of her daughter, Toya. This shows that not only does Toya forgive her mother for basically 'murdering' her, but she's grateful she did it to save her from Mr. Freely. She's even wearing her butterfly costume from her school play, signifying her soul may now safely fly away.
    • Also, we see Philip wave good-bye to Rosie. She may have unintentionally ruined his life by leaving him a scapegoat, but he still shows forgiveness to her.
  • The ending of Sherry Darlin, where, true to their agreement, once James turns himself in, his grandmother is given a proper burial. In a sense, this is a posthumous Earn Your Happy Ending.
    • The entirety of the episode shows Lily unwittingly form a friendship with James. In trying to solve the case, she helps him through the very trust issues Sherry planted in him. At one point, James even lamp shades how Lily actually addresses James by name, as opposed to Sherry who only referred to him by nicknames.
  • At the end of The Plan, instead of seeing the usual apparition of the victim (who was a pedophile who preyed on his swim class students), we instead see a blurry reflection of him in the pool water, which is then erased by the splashing of a new class of boys who will never have to suffer from his predation. It's like a final sign that the academy is finally free of him and his memory.
  • Another one from the apparitions: at the end of "Greed" we see the Smug Snake victim Charles Danville, wearing perhaps the first genuinely-friendly expression we'd seen from him all episode, offering Lilly a toast for solving his murder. Like a posthumous Pet the Dog, if such a thing is possible.
     Season 2 
  • The ending scene of The House where the supposed victim's ex-girlfriend and current wife is peacefully fishing with the supposed victim, still alive, in a non-extradition country where neither one of them can be arrested for their role in his jailbreak.
  • The ending montage for Discretions.
  • The entire relationship between Booker and Kara in 'Who's Your Daddy?'. Especially how Lily was convinced he was guilty of her parents' deaths or the very least somehow shifty throughout the episode and during the ending, she realizes that, yes, he ultimately was a good guy who really loved and protected Kara.
    • Especially when the whole ending montage is coupled with the song "Send me an Angel" by Scorpions, as though saying Booker is something close to Kara's guardian angel.
  • The victim, Jeff, in "It's Raining Men" comes to see his boyfriend Artie (who he had previously had an open relationship with) in the hospital when he gets sick with HIV. Despite Artie's telling him to stay back so he doesn't get it, Jeff takes off his mask, curls up next to him and says "I can't believe I only want to be with you." Meanwhile "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper is playing in the background. Of course, the fact that we know Jeff will soon be killed puts this into Tearjerker territory as well.
    • Parts of the ending montage fall into this as well: not only will Artie and Russ' wedding bring happy tears to your eyes, but also Carlo watching a gay couple and their baby look at the puppies in his store... something that would have been impossible in 1983. It also has Artie seeing Jeff's ghost at his wedding. In this case, it seems like Jeff is not only appearing because his murder has been solved. He's also letting Artie know that he's okay with him getting married.
  • Time to Crime has a boy who had the family maid fired because she caught him with a gun. At the end, we see him visiting her and asking for her forgiveness.
  • The relationship between George Marks and his mother is as far from heartwarming as it can get, but it appears him doing the marks at the top and bottom of the stairs was done with no other motive than to help her. In addition, when she complained about it to the social worker, George simply said, "But I did to help you," rather than revealing her disability or taunting her.
     Season 3 
  • The ending to A Perfect Day. After forty years of living in hiding and keeping a terrible secret, Cindy is reunited with her surviving child (who she had given up in order to keep her safe) and with the one man who ever really loved her. And then the victim (in ghost form) turns up to complete the family reunion, the only time we see her without her broken arm, and the final shot shows the twins standing side-by-side with their arms around each other, finally getting a chance to say a proper goodbye.
  • Every scene with Vera and the abandoned baby in Frank's Best, and the end where Vera is filling out the adoption application.
  • In the ending of Saving Patrick Bubley, the titular character is seen going back to school, when he turns around and sees the ghosts of his brothers behind him, encouraging him on with their waves.
    • The opening scene is really good, with the boys sharing a laugh and Maeve expressing gratitude and good wishes for each of her children (and Patrick returning the favor) before they all share Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Will and Scotty showing up at Vera's hotel room at the end of Superstar, pizza and beer in hand, after Nick's wife has kicked him out of the house.
  • The end of "Family" has Claire forgiving her mother, and Quinn in turn accepting Claire as her daughter. They share a long, meaningful hug. In the same ending, we see Jimmy's ghost happily look on as his girlfriend and their daughter share a bonding moment. He can move on, knowing the two girls he ever loved are a family at last.
  • Stillman saluting the victim (a fellow Vietnam War veteran) at the end of Honor.
    • In the beginning of the episode, Stillman informs the detectives to treat this case as though the victim had been a family member.
  • "One Night" implies that Justin, the killer's attempted victim, is alone and that his recent acquaintance Valentino is his closest friend. At the end, Justin is rescued and Valentino comes to see him and hugs him.
  • Both the victim's mother and potential love interest in "Bad Night". While the love interest who was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident was obviously unhappy about her state, unlike everyone else around her, she never blamed him for what happened and was able to live a happy, productive life as a elementary school teacher who genuinely loved her work and her students. Even after finding out that her husband, the firefighter who "rescued" her but in actually was the one who caused her injury due to his inexperience, was his killer, she cried out, "No, not that sweet kid!" Also, she was reunited with her estranged father and brother at the end of the episode. The mother was able to convince the skeptical detectives to reopen her son's case, never believing a serial killer did him in, regardless of the little evidence available. Her ending has her being able to move out of the house they shared and hugging Lily for solving her son's murder. Lily even hugs her back.
    • The end montage counts too because it has the victim avoiding being in the accident that kicked off the events of the episode, which also hints that his possible love interest may have started seeing him in a new light if he had managed to do so. There is also an Imagine Spot of Jeffries saving his wife from her own accident.
  • "Strange Fruit" has a bittersweet one where, during the ending montage, Jeffries leaves a flower at the spot where the victim died 50 years ago. It was sadly established in the prologue that nearly everybody had forgotten about the victim, and thus forgot to leave flowers for the first time in years. But Jeffries (who found the victim's body as a little boy) never forgot about him.
     Season 4 
  • The ending to Fireflies, in which the victim turns out to be still alive and she is reunited with her family and best friend.
  • Vera's nod of acknowledgement to the ghost of one of Serial Killer couple's many victims at the end of "Lonely Hearts".
    • The homeless possible hooker who helped out the team is seen getting married.
  • In the episode, "Rampage", the girl was desperately telling the security guard that got shot to survive. She tries to motivate him with a picture of his family that she assumed he had, but then he told her he was all alone. Then she told him that he still needs to stay alive so that he can get another chance to have a family. At the end of the episode, we see the security guard, while unable to walk due to his wounds, has a wife and baby, and he seems very happy.
  • In "Saving Sammy", Brent has to work through both his existing difficulty in communicating and his depression from knowing that the murderer of his parents is his big brother figure and sister's boyfriend, in order to share information which helps to solve the case. When Brent succeeds at this, Scotty tells Brent, in a way that he can understand, that he is proud of him.
    • In the ending montage, Brent is allowed to stay with his older sister. The new room he's staying in? The wallpaper is decorated to look like an ocean with dozens and dozens of fish swimming around his room, perhaps symbolizing how Brent wants to interact with other people again. And he smiles for the first time in years.
  • The ending of "The Offender". Although it borders close to Bittersweet Ending, the wife and husband make up after 20 years of the former believing the latter killed their son. As a fitting send-off, both see their son's ghost walking right up to them, as though meaning to join in a group-hug. The episode fades out to white, the symbolic color of the boy's undying love and innocence.
     Season 5 
  • The episode Devil Music was a loving tribute to Elvis Presley for the thirtieth anniversary of his untimely demise. Not only was his Expy, Bingo Zohar, an extremely likeable and talented non-conformist, but the ending itself deserves special mention; not only does the Medley Exit feature the King's much-loved classic "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You", note  but Bingo's ghost is also dressed in a sparkly Elvis-inspired costume. Furthermore, unlike some other Cold Case victims, his ghost had a variety of people whom he could have appeared to (his loving Aunt, his girlfriend, any of the investigators, etc.) but chose to appear to his friend who he defended to the bigoted jerks in the episode at the man's club, who in turn was just as happy to see him again one last time.
  • The end of The Road, where the serial killer's most recent victim is found alive and reunited with her fiance, both of them having clearly never given up hope that they would see each other again.
  • The end of "It Takes a Village" when the killer's last attempted victim is freed and his older sister runs to hug him.
  • In "Andy in C Minor", we have a flashback where Andy's father tells him he's changed his mind and will allow his son to get a cochlear implant. Why? He was looking through the photo album and saw a picture of younger Andy playing piano, back when he could hear. He admits he was afraid Andy would be ashamed of his deaf parents, and Andy assures him that will never happen.
    • During that flashback, what's the one phrase that's not in subtitles? "I love you".
  • The mother in Bad Reputation giving her son his father's letters (which she had been hiding from him) after they found out exactly how he died.
  • In Slipping, the grown daughter of the victim kept a keepsake: a drawing she made for her mother. As luck would have it, it turns out the drawing is exactly the evidence the detectives need to incriminate her stepfather, the killer.
  • In Justice, the little kid loves his sister so much, he's willing to kill the man who raped her. Hell, even the detectives take compassion on the guy since the guy was such a manipulative bastard.
    • The following reunion of the three rape victims. Although their past experience hurt them, it's touching to see they came out of their adversity as old friends. And as they leave their past behind, they still remain good friends.
  • The ending of "Family 8108", we see the victim's wife finally give her daughter an admiring smile, proud of her for having called upon Lily and the detectives, who solved the case of her husband.
    • Although, very poignant, hearing Billy's last letter is also heartwarming, as he admits his father inspired him to fight in the war, and how his experiences have taught him what you're fighting against isn't nearly as important as what you're fighting for. And if that doesn't make your heart melt, he mentions dreaming of his whole family being free from the internment camp, including his then baby sister!
  • The ending of "Ghost Of My Child", where the mother is reunited with her child, who was kidnapped from her as an infant, six years later after it was revealed that he didn't die in an apartment fire that destroyed their home. The mother is shown offering her son a flower and smiling as her son looks at her for the first time in six years and smiles at her in recognition. It also shows a glimpse of the mother, six years before, holding her infant son and embracing him while "Far Away" by Nickelback plays throughout the entire scene.
    • Everything Priscilla does to raise Max in the flashbacks, from getting a job to staying clean. One notable time is the memory of how she came to find solace at the flower shop. When Max was just born and the heating went out in her apartment, she searched for any warm place within walking distance, but with no luck. She was just about to give up hope of keeping her baby warm when she heard music from a flower shop that was still open. She and Max were able to stay warm there, and she promised her son she'd make sure he was always warm and happy and loved.
  • During the closing montage of "That Woman" we see Valens with the victims mother who finally gets to celebrate her daughter's case being solved (she's been waiting over a decade to do so). Valens's gift to her: a note written by Carrie saying God loves me for who I am. Its especially heartwarming as this poor girl has been slut shamed by everyone even people who didn't know her and her mother had even said to the detectives that she was worried Carrie didn't realize how lovely and special she was.
     Season 6 
  • In "One Small Step", we have the victim's older sister. Although she used to find her brother annoying when he was alive, she's matured to be a loving mother for her own family, and she feels bad about how she wasn't always the nicest to her late brother.
  • The end of "Libertyville" with the victim's spirit happily looking on as his wife and black sister finally meet.
  • The relationship between the victim and his (not) daughter in November 22.
  • The ending of "Street Money", where the victim's childhood friend and former drug dealer turns his life around and begins helping out in the community, starting with putting up a new basketball hoop for the kids (something the victim wanted to accomplish) and sees the victim's father, who had always believed that he would never amount to anything, nod his head in approval. Finally, the victim himself appears to show he's proud of how his old friend has turned out.
     Season 7 
  • The ending of "Soul" where Thomas meet Archie and both see Billy's spirit.
  • The victim's fiance in "The Crossing" finding out after so many years that Darcy had intended to marry him, and then getting to see her in what would have been her wedding dress.

  • The ending montages often have moments like this for the side characters, implying that the solving of the case made their lives better, too. Examples include the drug-addicted mothers of the victims in both "Saving Patrick Bubley" and "8:03 AM" checking into rehab, the victim's Jerkass boss in "Ravaged" adopting her dog, and one of the suspects in "Wilkommen" a former Gang Banger who went straight after discovering acting, playing with his baby.
  • Most of the spirit reunions at the end of an episode.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: