The moments are relatively minor, but Arthur grinning in spite of himself in 1x02 when Merlin calls Valiant a creep, then saying he can't buy Merlin a drink because he can't buy drinks for his servants (I.e. he's hiring Merlin back). They're just two cute moments because Arthur actively disliked Merlin in the pilot, didn't want him as a servant, and is trying very hard to be a Mean Boss all episode - except he keeps catching himself just liking and admiring Merlin and trying to reel himself back. Not to mention immediately believing Merlin about Valiant even though Merlin's word as a servant had little value to Uther and Arthur was putting his own reputation on the line. For a servant he barely knew and wouldn't even admit to liking, it's pretty major.
Uther and Arthur's exchange in Excalibur, when Uther tells his son without hesitation that he is the most important thing in his life, after which he and Arthur smile and laugh and roughhouse together, like father and son.
In the same episode, he remarks on Merlin's loyalty to Arthur, and when Merlin brushes it off as being his job, insists that it goes above and beyond the call of duty (which it does). This is remarkable, because while Merlin has already demonstrated a willingness to die for Arthur, Uther implied in that same episode that that was expected (or at least, that Arthur should get used to the idea of people dying for him), and it's still fairly early on, and Merlin is still a relatively new figure at court. The fact that Uther notices and acknowledges Merlin's loyalty, and trusts him to look after Arthur after he's gone (as he believes he's going to his death) is a remarkable Pet the Dog moment for him.
In The Labyrinth of Gedref. "I had no idea you were so keen to die for me." Well, that whole scene really, especially when Arthur takes the poison for Merlin. Good thing that it's not actually poison.
In The Moment of Truth:
Combined for Arthur and Uther. When Merlin comes to Arthur with his somewhat frail mother, Arthur is implied to immediately go to his father to get her an audience. Not only that, but Uther grants her a fair audience, hears her out, and is genuinely regretful that he can't help, actually explaining why - her village is barely in Cenred's kingdom, and to intervene would be to invite a war. It's one of those moments that shows that Uther is actually a very good King when magic isn't involved (unfortunately, it almost always is).
Morgana and Gwen both insist on coming with Merlin to try and save his village, because he's helped them so much since he arrived. Merlin tends to assume that he goes more or less unnoticed, despite having saved the whole city multiple times. This doubles as a Moment of Awesome when one realizes: Gwen has very few, if any, combat skills. She doesn't know how good she'll be in a fight-but she's coming to help anyway, because she knows Merlin would do the same for her.
Not to mention the fact that Arthur, despite being unable to secure help from the royal army, proceeds to show up on his own to do what he can.
Arthur also says no more to Merlin than "you should have told me" when Will (who's dying) claims that he was the sorcerer who conjured the tornado, not Merlin, and leaves it at that.
Actually, the entire episode, from Merlin being reunited with his mother at the beginning to the final shot of the OT4 riding back to Camelot (which, due to how things turn out, is a bit of a Tear Jerker).
I don't know why, but the exchange between Arthur and Uther in Le Morte d'Arthur, after Merlin secretly trades his life for Arthur's and brings him the water from the Cup of Life, struck me as sweet. "I think there's someone watching over me, keeping me from harm." Oh, Arthur, you have no idea.
The Once and Future Queen has Gaius tell Merlin that he needs to take care of himself, and that they should all be grateful to him for his hard work.
In the same episode, Arthur and Gwen share a moment when she calls him out for his It's All About Me attitude, and he admits he has much to learn.
Afterwards, he asks Gwen if he may continue to stay in her home. The Arthur of even the day before would have demanded or assumed that she put herself in danger for and continue to share her cramped quarters with him.
Their first kiss, and the way both of them look at each other afterwards.
At the end, he lets the man who was taking his place accept the trophy, showing Gwen and the audience that he's started to learn humility.
He also advocates against pursuing revenge on Odin, and is genuinely regretful that his son had to die.
In Lancelot and Guinevere - Arthur telling Morgana that he's going to rescue Gwen, and only refused to before because he couldn't disagree with his father in front of the court. And then Gwen and Morgana's reunion.
And in The Witchfinder - Merlin breaks down in court and tries to attack Aredian when Gaius is sentenced to death. Arthur restrains him and drags him towards the dungeons, saying he'll 'deal with him'. This turns out to mean that he'll let him visit Gaius, even though his father has forbidden it, so that he can say goodbye.
This one manages to be awesome and tear-jerking as well as heart-warming; when Morgause is about to start the spell to call up Igraine's spirit Arthur turns to Merlin and tells him that maybe magic in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. The look of raw hope and disbelief on Merlin's face when he says: "do you really think that?" is heart-stopping.
While it's tear-jerking in context, since Merlin had to lie and say it wasn't really Igraine (it probably was) and Morgause was just using it to manipulate Arthur into killing Uther (which, admittedly, she also probably was), breaking the Hope Spot caused by the above, Uther once again acknowledging Merlin's loyalty to Arthur and that he is a trusted ally. Unfortunately, it's in "the fight against magic", so Merlin can barely stop himself from breaking down in tears.
The scene between Arthur and Merlin at the end of The Lady of the Lake, with the former lifting the latter's spirits. Never has a noogie made this troper smile so hard.
Also from that episode, most of Merlin's interactions with Freya were this, if not a Tear Jerker. Special mention goes to their First Kiss, and when he gives her a rose instead of a strawberry by mistake.
Well, she didn't ACTUALLY care in that moment. Not about him, at least...
In "Sweet Dreams," Arthur promises Gwen that she will be his queen. There's also their Big Damn Kiss in the tent.
Arthur and Morgana's interactions in The Tears of Uther Pendragon are this. Somehow, even though you know Morgana is most likely faking the affection so she can carry out her plan of killing Arthur's father, one can't help but go "awww."
The Changeling has a few of these, particularly the scene between Merlin and Arthur right before the wedding. For just a moment, Merlin lets Arthur see a little bit of the part of himself he's been hiding. Colin Morgan acts the hell out of this scene.
Merlin: What's wrong?
Arthur: You wouldn't understand, Merlin. You have no idea what it's like to have a destiny you can't escape.
Merlin: Destinies... are troublesome things. You feel trapped. Like your whole life is being planned out for you, and you've got no control over anything, and sometimes you don't even know if the destiny decided is... really the best thing at all.
Also, when Arthur and Gwen part after their incredibly sweet moment at the end, you see him skipping up the last couple of stairs.
Merlin taking care of Gwen in The Castle of Fyrien.
Arthur's goodbye kiss to Gwen in The Eye of the Phoenix. It was perfect because it was so understated - no violins or slow motion this time, just a silent affirmation of the fact that she's his girl and they're in a relationship.
From that same episode, Merlin's conversation with the Fisher King. "When all seems lost, this will show you the way."
Even better when you realize that "this" is Freya. So lovely.
This conversation between Merlin and Gwaine in 3x08, as they go to find Arthur:
Merlin: Why do you want to do this?
Gwaine: Same reason as you. Help a friend.
Merlin: Arthur is lucky to have us.
Gwaine: (giving Merlin a meaningful look) Not Arthur.
If Arthur and Gwen's romantic picnic in the forest doesn't reduce you into a helpless puddle of Squee!, then nothing on earth will.
Also, Merlin telling Gwen that she looks lovely just before escorting her to the picnic. In fact, basically any time throughout the series Merlin is a Shipper on Deck.
At the end of episode 03x11 when Uther tells Arthur that he knew that he had let him win and just how much he appreciated it. Awwww... The look on Morgana's face afterward when she realizes her plan to get Uther killed has just made the father son relationship stronger is great too, especially after how bitchy she was to Gwen, the only one her former friends who she has no justification at all to be mean to, the last episode.
Also from the end of 03x11, Merlin's conversation with Gilli about the nature of magic and their future in Camelot. Merlin looked so happy.
In regards to Merlin, Arthur, and Gwen, at various points during the first three seasons, each one has given specific instructions to the second to "look after" the third. Something of a Tear Jerker when one considers Morgana: part of the reason she performed her FaceHeel Turn was because the Power Trio were looking out for each other, but not for her.
After the coup on Camelot, Arthur sends Gwaine, Elyan and Gaius out to hide in the woods. He suggests that Merlin go with them, only for Merlin to reply: "Nah, I've already seen the woods."
In 3x13 when Merlin realizes that Freya is still alive. If the little boy happy look he gets on his face doesn't make you go "awww" then I don't know what will.
The conversation from 3x13 between Merlin and Kilgharrah was so much this:
Great Dragon: My allegiance has never been with the witch.
Merlin: I know. But is it with me?
Great Dragon: Yes, young warlock. It is with you.
When Arthur gathers his friends, allies and future wife around the Round Table and thanks them for their loyalty and pledges their Undying Loyalty. Then when he asks for their aid in freeing Camelot, each of them thanks Arthur in turn for what he's done for them over the course of three seasons. Yeah, even Percival, the guy he's only known for ten minutes.
Except Merlin, who takes the opportunity to deliberately (but jokingly) ruin the mood, before standing up and grinning at Arthur. Which, in its own way, is even more cute. It's also Fridge Brilliance, because you know that Merlin doesn't need to affirm that he's with Arthur: Arthur knows already.
The knighting ceremony that follows, especially the big proud grins on Merlin and Gwen's faces when Gwaine and Elyan are knighted.
When Lancelot tells Merlin that "you're the bravest of us all," and that it was him that Arthur should be knighting.
Lancelot's concern for Merlin in The Darkest Hour. He tells Merlin that he shouldn't be with the knights, since he's no warrior and Merlin's magic doesn't work against the things they are fighting. His evident interest in his friend's well-being, and Merlin's insistence on staying to help Arthur, are both very endearing.
Also, the scene between the two of them at the beginning of the episode, concerning Arthur's stained shirt. Just... the hints, the adorable, knowing grins... it just reminds you that now that Lancelot is a knight, there's finally someone else in Camelot who knows his secret, and is completely accepting of it. (Let's not mention how scenes like these become Tear Jerkers in hindsight after The Darkest Hour...)
Also from The Darkest Hour where Percival sees three frightened children and realizes that his group has already moved ahead and the Dorocha are closing in. He can't carry the children and carry the torch at the same time. So what does he do? He picks up all three children and runs for it, essentially leaving himself defenseless against the Dorocha.
And when one of the Dorocha inevitably attacks him, Elyan arrives to save him, and the two of them return the children to safety.
Elyan: Couldn't let you have all the glory, could I?
Arthur's goodbye to Gwen is part this and part Tear Jerker, when you consider that she doesn't know he's planning to sacrifice himself to fix the veil.
Arthur: Smile for me.
Gwen: I can't.
Arthur: Do you remember the first time I kissed you?
At the Beginning of Part 2, Arthur's kindness and concern for the pale, dying Merlin as he sends him away with Lancelot. Especially squeezing his shoulder encouragingly as he leaves.
After he's healed from being hit by the Dorocha, Merlin's reunion with Arthur and the knights. Elyan and Percival hug him, Leon ruffles his hair, Gwaine embraces him, and Arthur just smiles at him for several seconds...patting him on the shoulder and affectionately pulling him back to the fire with the rest. True Companions indeed!
Although it's mostly a funny moment, Arthur's face when Lancelot comes back and says "bad news...he's still alive." There's an expression of absolute dread, followed by relief, when he thinks his friend is gone.
In The Wicked Day, Arthur finally acknowledges Merlin as "a loyal friend."
Though Uther has spent the past two episodes (technically an entire year counting the timeskip) in a Heroic BSoD over Morgana's betrayal, he refuses to miss his son's birthday celebration.
In Aithusa, the knight's prank on Merlin is inadvertently sweet because it actually seemed like Arthur would totally let Merlin go hungry. Its good to see development in their relationship.
Merlin's face when the dragon egg hatches.
Arthur calling Merlin "old friend" in His Father's Son, especially after Arthur pushing everyone away throughout the episode.
Merlin and Arthur finally hug in A Servant of Two Masters. Of course, it's sweeter because Arthur has just found out that Merlin is alive and actually instigates the hug.
The conversation Gaius and Arthur have at the end of The Secret Sharer. All the more heartwarming because someone was actually telling Arthur the truth for a change and because Gaius was also hinting at how much Merlin had done for him.
Gaius: I've known you since you were a nursling, Arthur. I love you far too much to betray you.
And earlier in the episode, Gwen comforting Merlin after Gaius is gone. The way she just squeezes his shoulder...
Also... Merlin finally getting an ally besides Gaius who a) knows the truth about him, b) understands what it feels like to be persecuted and c) appreciates him for what a badass he is.
In Lamia, it's hard to decide what's more adorable: Merlin and Gwen's utter faith that Arthur is out looking for them, Arthur's ability to recognise Gwen's tunic from a tiny scrap she left behind for him, or Merlin and Gwen trying to protect each other moments before Arthur saves them both.
Earlier in the episode, Elyan standing up for Merlin when one of the villagers tells Gwen he needs a skilled physician, not a boy. It's nice to see that when they aren't Brainwashed and Crazy, the knights care for Merlin.
It all went to hell by the end of the episode, but Arthur's proposal to Gwen in Lancelot Du Lac was adorable, particularly Gwen's reaction: she's so overjoyed that she forgets to say yes!
In A Herald of the New Age, Arthur's speech at the Druid shrine and the spirit's last three words: "I forgive you."
A subtle one at the end of the episode. Merlin teasing Arthur about his sensitive emotional side, then quickly saying. "You meant it. Every word." in a tone that makes it clear he's testing the waters. When Arthur denies it, Merlin knows that this means he did, and brightens up immensely, requesting a hug. note Arthur ended the persecution on the druids and thus started the ball rolling towards magic being accepted.
The Hunter's Heart:
Arthur actively seeking Merlin's counsel for the first time.
"I don't know what to do. What should I do, Merlin?"
Arthur deciding Gwen is worth his kingdom.
Merlin's loyalty to Gwen, staying with her until she woke up after what was inarguably a totally shit day for her and the little hug.
Mithian bowing out gracefully when Arthur has to admit that he can't marry her, because he loves the blacksmith's daughter.
Mithian: Over her you would risk your kingship? Your kingdom?
Arthur: Without her, they are worth nothing to me.
Mithian: I would give up my own kingdom to be so loved.
Merlin and his mother reunite in Ealdor. Especially sweet for the audience considering Hunith hasn't been seen since the end of series 1.
The implication that Merlin had told Gwen to go to Ealdor, and that she was being looked after by Hunith.
Merlin gets a series-long CMOH in that he's always there for Arthur. Even the one time he lost faith in magic returning, he remained because his emotional support was important to him. You'd think a guy who'd been through so much emotional hell with no true end in sight would have at least broken down a bit, but Merlin hasn't, ever.
Merlin: I believe in you. I always have. *after finally telling Arthur of his destiny to rule Albion*
Arthurs proposal to Gwen at the end of the series 4 finale. everything in this scene is beautiful anyway, but its absolute simplicity compared to his elaborate previous declarations of love and proposals, as well as in light of recent events between them, makes it that much more incredibly sweet.
Gwen: I cant forgive myself.
Arthur: I dont care. I just dont ever want to lose you. *Squee-filledbeat* Will you marry me?
Gwen: Yes... Yes, with all my heart.
And the way this scene transitions into her coronation scene is a Moment of Awesome for the Awesome Moment of Crowning. You can just see on Merlins face how happy he is for his friends, together after all this time.
Merlin disappearing in The Sword In The Stone so he can distract their pursuers long enough for the others to get away, with Arthur running after him, and then desperately backpedaling to cover up why he did it.
Arthur: I came back for you because you're the only friend I have and I couldn't bear to lose you.
Oddly enough, one of the most heartwarming lines in the entire series comes in the second part of "Arthur's Bane" from the man who's destined to end Camelot's golden age. When Mordred tells Merlin, "The love that binds us is more important than the power we wield," you can see how much he really believes what he's saying, and just the slightest hint in Merlin's eyes that perhaps he believes him.
The opening moments of 5x03 are this when compared to the very similar opening in 1x07: Arthur and Merlin are hunting, Merlin is being disruptive and scaring off game. In 1x07, Arthur loses his temper, yelling at Merlin and hitting him for spooking the deer he was stalking, even though Merlin was holding several other catches from that day. But in 5x03, they don't seem to have gotten anything at all, and Arthur just lightheartedly teases Merlin for sneezing (or falling into a stream) everytime they get near an animal. It really shows Arthur's Character Development over the course of the series and how much he just enjoys hanging out with Merlin, even if the day is a disaster.
Debatable but in The Death Song of Uther Pendragon, Merlin lets Arthur go off to meet Uther in the otherworld against his better judgment. It is ultimately not a wise decision at all especially when the safety of the whole castle is at stake, but Merlin sympathizes with his friend in the pain of suddenly losing one's father.
If not that, then the constant support he gives Arthur (who is doubting his ability to rule the kingdom) certainly counts.
In The Disir, Arthur's respect for Merlin is exemplary; He notices Merlin is being unusually worrisome, asks whats wrong, and seems disappointed that Merlin won't tell him.
From The Dark Tower, Arthur wants to go to rescue Gwen alone, since it's likely that no one who comes on the quest will return. The Knights all tell him they're going with him, and that Gwen is their friend too.
Later, Merlin is trying to use his new ability to find a way out of the forest, and tells Arthur to trust him. Arthur is about to ignore him again, only for Elyan and Leon to stick up for him and ask Arthur to give him a chance. Percival also congratulates him at the end when he gets them out.
In A Lesson in Vengeance: Sir Leon swearing his allegiance to Guinevere and assuring her that he and the knights will support her claim to the throne should Arthur die. It's just a pity that Gwen isn't in her right mind at the time.
Tyr Seward and his mother's concern for each other, with Tyr only agreeing to keep silent if she is kept safe and his mother assuring the knights that he would never betray the king.
Merlin asking Gwaine to protect Arthur, and the huge smile on Gwaine's face when Merlin is pardoned.
In addition, Arthur did not doubt for a minute Merlin wasn't the one who poisoned him. True Companions indeed.
When the spell breaks in With All My Heart. Arthur and Gwen's hug was a sweet "hold me" moment.
Arthur showing genuine gratitude toward Dolma and promising to remember that magic is neither good nor evil. After the Cruel Twist Ending of The Wicked Day, it's great to see a happy twist on it.
Finna telling Merlin that he will make a better place for all, and that she's glad to sacrifice her life for him. Likewise, Gaius tells Merlin, after having spent so many episodes arguing with him, that he is the only one who could have shouldered this much responsibility and that he will not fail.
The Great Dragon accepting his death. He's spent years as the Last of His Kind, and now the other member of his species has gone crazy. He's dying, but he knows that someone will remember the dragons as they were, and that is enough for him.
Gwen going to battle with Arthur. Gwaine wishing him luck on the way to the Crystal Cave. Gaius also wishing him luck before he sets out. Gwaine's sympathy towards Eira, even if it's poorly placed. Gwen's concern for Merlin. Arthur reacting to Merlin's message. Merlin's first thought after getting his powers back being to help Arthur. The episode is one big frenzy of heartwarming.
Merlin's huge smile when his magic returns.
Upon realising he's got his magic back, Merlin's first act isn't to blow up the cave wall or arm himself. He makes a butterfly.
The sight of Arthur and (a disenchanted) Guinevere asleep in bed. It's just the two of them, holding each other and resting peacefully, in what might well be their last night together.
Arthur finally realizing all Merlin's done for him. His last words: "I want to say something I've never said to you before. Thank you."
The implication that magic's no longer banned due to Merlin's actions in the final battle.
The quiet moment when Merlin's lighting the fire and Arthur silently gives his approval to use magic.
Merlin is still alive and waiting for Arthur's return.
When Percival hears Gwaine's screaming, he rips his way out of his restraints and runs to help him.
Guinevere figures out that Merlin has magic. And she's totally cool with it. Merlin need never fear to use magic in Camelot ever again.
The reason she figures it out is that she knows that Merlin would never abandon Arthur. Gwen's faith in Merlin is unshakable.
At one point in the last episode, Merlin tells Arthur with a determined face that he's proud to be Arthur's servant and he wouldn't change any of it. Compared to his initial opinion on having to serve Arthur in earlier seasons, the amount of loyalty he expresses in that scene is extraordinary.
When Arthur tells Merlin "I don't want you to change." May also double as a Tearjerker, as Arthur is dying.
Behind the Scenes
This brief clip from behind-the-scenes. The main cast is struggling over a muddy incline, and Bradley keeps trying to grab Angel's hand so she doesn't fall over (she keeps missing it). But when the director yells "cut" all the men take off and leave Angel stranded at the top of the muddy slope...but Rupert Young doubles back and takes her hand to help her down. Aww. Sir Leon indeed.
Sadly Angel Coulby and Janet Montgomery did not interact in the episode in which they both appeared, but will be starring together in Dancing on the Edge. On her Twitter, Janet had this to say◊ about Angel. Aww.
Bradley James talking about how hard it was to film the scenes of Arthur physically abusing Merlin, sometimes even arguing with the director to downplay the violence.
In performing her final scene, Katie McGrath said that Colin Morgan did everything he could to make sure she didn't shoot it with complete strangers. They were originally supposed to shoot it together, but Colin got pulled away to do another scene. He organized it so that he could run back and forth between them. Because the main crew was shooting with Colin, it didn't look like Katie was going to get a "proper golden wrap" which is where everyone congratulates the actor and says goodbye to them. But on her last take, Colin ran over and refused to leave until everyone from the main unit came over to give Katie a proper sendoff.
The cast's congratulatory tweets to Colin after he wins the National Television Award for Best Actor.