- After hearing how badly the fight is going for the Starfleet forces, Picard announces his intention to violate orders and take the ship into combat to help, but will allow any dissenters to speak up. As funny and awesome as it is, Data's response after the beat is also a heartwarming display of loyalty:Data: Captain...I believe I speak for everyone here, sir, when I say..."To hell with our orders."
- Riker helps Cochrane get over his fear of destiny:Riker: Someone once said, "Don't try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history make its own judgments."Cochrane: That's rhetorical nonsense. ... Who said that?Riker: (grinning) You did, ten years from now.
- Picard apologizing for calling Worf a coward:Picard: I apologize for some of the things I said to you earlier.Worf: (bitterly) "Some"?Picard: As a matter of fact, I think you're the bravest man I've ever known.Worf: (Standing up a little straighter) Thank you, sir.
Worf: If you were any other man, I would kill you where you stand...
- Actually, when you consider that Worf is a Klingon and Picard just called him a coward, his response kind of counts as one too...
- Picard telling Riker to "stay out of history's way" when evacuating the Enterprise crew to Gravett Island. There's something charming and heartwarming about the scene - probably because they think they won't be able to return home and it's sort of a retirement package to live out their days on a deserted Polynesian island... Wait a minute...
- Picard going back for Data as the ship is evacuating because he's certain the android is still alive. He justifies it by recalling how the crew risked everything to save him from the Borg years earlier."I owe him the same."
- It's not just denial either. He hears Data calling for him. It's unclear how, but it's likely to do with the fact that at one point they were both linked in to the Borg collective. Whatever terrible things the Borg did to Picard, they left enough of themselves behind for him to know his friend was still around. Unintentionally or not, they gave them that link- and a chance to save each other.
- Cochrane's subdued "Oh, wow" at seeing the Earth from space. "It's so small." One wonders if that didn't help, just a little, to turn him into the man he was to become.
- Riker's reply counts as well: "It's about to get a whole lot bigger." Cochrane has just made Earth relevant to the galaxy, which Riker acknowledges with one great line.
- The epilogue, where aliens land to find the human who flew Earth's first warp-drive vessel. When the visitors reveal themselves to be Vulcans (because of ''course'' they were), you know it is the Dawn of an Era where humanity's time of desolation and despair has ended and its hopeful beginning of the building of The Federation has begun.
- Every little moment of wonder from the 21 century Terrans led to a slight dampness of eye, because it's so perfectly what Trek is about—this is what the future could be! And then when the first Vulcan pulls back his hood to reveal his ears, and the music crests, and you know everything that will unfold and everything that is to come...yeah. Definitely something in the eye.
- It's also great in meta sense, many of Gene Roddenberry's older fans have often gone on the record of how Star Trek's creator would not have approved of many of the shows and films that have come out since his death. But just about everyone can agree that he would have liked the idea of the first meeting between humanity and Vulcans.
- Enterprise later used this to illustrate how the Mirror Universe diverges, with Cochrane suddenly shooting the Vulcan instead, and it works very effectively as a deliberate Shocking Swerve because of how heartwarming the original scene was.
- A more subtle part is the Enterprise crew being unable to resist the urge to observe the moment for themselves. They ought to have just beamed back to the ship... (And Sisko shouldn't have introduced himself to Kirk, etc.)
- Picard and Lily's final scene together, as this all unfolds.Lily: I envy you; the world you're going to.
Picard: I envy you; taking these first steps into a new frontier.
- When the lead Vulcan gives the traditional salute, Cochrane tries to mimic it, fails, and settles for a handshake. Which the Vulcan accepts (albeit cautiously).
- A rather subtle one for Zefram Cochrane. After he gets fed up with the Enterprise crew worshiping him and the future he helps create, Cochrane gives a rather brutal Money, Dear Boy speech to Commander Riker, claiming he only ever worked on creating warp drive and the Phoenix for the paycheck. But here's the thing, who could possibly have paid him for his discovery in the post-atomic horror world he lives in? Rather than give up after World War III Cochrane continued working on the project because he knew one day warp drive might help humanity. And boy does it ever.
- There's also the fact that Riker shows no sign of Broken Pedestal after Cochrane makes his admission of only being in it for the money. It's easy to see the 24th century as a utopia, and many an episode that brings up humanity's past have had gentle (and not so gentle) condemnations of humanity of the present and the motivations that drive them. But Cochrane says that he was set on creating warp drive for the money, and Riker just takes it in stride, then says simply "Someone once said 'Don't try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history make its own judgments.'" A quote of Cochrane, ten years later, and Riker saying that the why doesn't matter as much as what he did and what it led to.
- A minor one considering the Big Events happening all around, but Picard casually mentions that the Smithsonian Institution of the 24th century is still successfully preserving the knowledge and artifacts of humanity for future generations, including the Phoenix itself.
Heartwarming / Star Trek: First Contact