The end of the first episode, "Encounter at Farpoint" when the two aliens are reunited. Awful episode but damn, that scene was heartwarming (even with Troi's sappiness and the cheesy music.)
From the same episode, Admiral McCoy's cameo and his words of wisdom to Data: "You treat her like a lady, and she'll always bring you home." Feel free to sob into a pillow.
It's even more sad/heartwarming considering this was DeForest Kelley's final appearance in any Star Trek television series.
Also, the story of how it came about. The episode's director was having lunch with DeForest Kelley and casually joked about him possibly making a cameo. Kelley leaped at the idea and even did it for a standard day player's paycheck rather than the much higher amount he could well have demanded.
Picard asks Riker about an incident where Riker refused to follow an order that would've put his former captain's life in danger. Riker simply responds by explaining that a captain's life matters more than their rank. After a brief pause, Picard gladly welcomes him aboard the Enterprise.
Riker's moment of understanding in his first meeting with Data, calling him Pinocchio.
The second episode has its moments, despite being, well, "The Naked Now":
Despite the undercurrent of danger (after all, we don't know yet how dangerous the Polywater is going to be to the crew, but we know it ultimately caused the crew of the Tsiolkovksy to kill themselves), but LaForge's interaction with young Wesley is mostly to be impressed at Wesley's technical skill and to provide him with encouragement.
Troi finds Yar, now infected, in her quarters rampaging through her clothes. Yar announces that she's changing her style, and she wants Troi, who always has the most beautiful clothing, to help her find something to wear. Troi, the empath and counselor, realizes Yar's emotional turmoil and tries to dissuade her from trying to change herself.
When Troi later succumbs to the effects, she throws herself at Riker, overwhelmed by both the intoxication and the emotions of the crew, but Riker stolidly insists that he take her to sickbay instead (although this does result in Riker, Crusher, and Picard all getting infected as well).
Picard and Crusher, both infected, struggle to resist their urges while under the influence of the Polywater, reminding each other of their duty to the ship. The results are equal parts this and hilarious, as it turns out Picard is downright adorkable under the Polywater's effects.
In "Where No One Has Gone Before," the Enterprise is accidentally sent to a very distant region of the universe, where anything the crew can think of becomes real. Picard briefly encounters his Missing Mom, who offers to pour him some tea and have a nice talk.
Picard: This can't be. You've been— Yvette: Dead? But I'm always with you. You know that. Picard: Yes. I felt that.
It's particularly moving in what it shows about humans in general in the Star Trek Universe: we don't dismiss this please as "making illusions" or "tricking us." We say whatever we think BECOMES real. Asides from Picard meeting his mother, we also see a female crewman dancing as a ballerina, a man happily enjoying playing the violin with a group of fellow musicians. Worf sees his childhood pet. The normally straightforward and serious Tasha meeting her cat was lovely (well, at least until it turned into a Flashback of Turkana 4). All these possibilities and not one of us wished for power, or control, or did anything to harm others. Like Picard, we know that, still with us or not, actually existing or not, these things and people matter, and are always with us.
In "Hide and Q", Riker (gifted with Q powers) gives their blind navigator Geordi real sight for a few moments. The first thing Geordi does is turn to look at Tasha and delivers a line that would've been Narm if it came from anyone else.
Geordi: ...You're even more beautiful than I imagined.
Also from this episode, Tasha is stuck on The Bridge with Picard, with Q using it as a "penalty box" and any additional penalties resulting in her falling into nonexistence. While explaining this to Picard, she starts to tear up, and immediately chastises herself for doing so, leading to Picard instituting a new standing order: while in the penalty box, tears are permitted. This successfully gets Tasha to smile a bit, despite the situation.
In "Datalore," shortly after reactivating Lore and learning that the Crystalline Entity was responsible for the destruction of the colony, Data leaves the bridge to monitor Lore. Tasha turns to Picard and asks, "speaking strictly as security chief, how much can you trust Data right now?" Both Wesley and Geordi look to her as if offended that she has asked the question. But Picard immediately responds not only that he absolutely trusts Data, but that Tasha was asking a legitimate and necessary question on the matter of ship's security. By the smile on her face as she thanks Picard for answering, she appreciates both the answer and the affirmation that she was asking a question that needed to be.
The sheer fact that they gave Data clothes to wear. Granted it was because "some of the colonists objected to having an anatomically correct android" running around naked. But look at it this way, they did it out of decency which is also a human behavior. Something which Data holds in high regard and fascination.
In "Coming of Age", Wesley forms a friendship with another one of the Starfleet candidates, Mordock, who is exceedingly talented but struggles with certain confidence issues at points in the exam. During one test, Wesley provides him with supportive words that allow Mordock to not just finish it, but finish it in the fastest time of anyone in the class (and second-fastest overall). At the end of the episode, Mordock is the one chosen as the class representative to join the Academy, and he expresses frustration at being picked over Wesley when the latter sacrificed some of his own time to help him during the testing. Wes assures Mordock that he earned his placement regardless and that it doesn't matter because they both know Mordock would have helped Wesley if the situations had been reversed.
After antagonizing Picard and the crew throughout the majority of the episode, Remmick reveals in his final report that not only is there nothing wrong with the Captain's handling of the Enterprise, but that he would be honored to join as part of the ship's crew himself in the future.
Riker's reaction to discovering Picard has been offered the role at Starfleet Academy. He mentions how the Captain would be able to do an incredible job of shaping the minds of future Starfleet officers and shows great pride in Picard's potential accomplishment.
Even if you hate Wesley, Picard reassuring him that he didn't pass his test the first time either is still a very sweet moment.
"Arsenal of Freedom" has the moment when Riker, Yar, and Data find Capt. Picard and Dr. Crusher trapped in a deep underground cave. When Riker notes that they can't climb down, Data suggests that he would be of more help if he simply jumped down to the injured officers. At that, Riker and Tasha protest that doing so would required falling 11.75 metres, which risks Data being seriously damaged. At that scene, there is no thought of Data being an expendable tool, but as a friend who appears to be taking a serious risk. Fortunately, Data reassures them that his structure can take the impact and, with Riker's permission, he does so, ready to lend a hand below.
When Geordi is given command of the ship, he outright refuses to leave the away team on the planet, and even when he's forced to retreat by an enemy ship, it's only so he can detach the Saucer Section to protect the rest of the ship before going back.
When Troi speaks to Geordi about his leadership, she tells him that he should be proud of how he's handling the situation but that the temporary Bridge Crew is nervous, prompting him to give them a pep talk before they head back into danger.
When Picard gets back on the ship, he orders Geordi to stay in command until both sections are reconnected, clearly just giving him more time in charge because he did a good job.
Tasha's Memorial Service in "Skin of Evil". Could've been bad. Could've been really corny, but they pulled off with just the right tone, made especially poignant by Data's ultimate confusion about the whole thing, and Picard having to tell him that he hadn't missed the point at all.
The line that got Dummied Out gets extra points (you can tell where they cut it; they kept Geordi's eyebrow-raising reaction shot)
Tasha: Data? It did happen.
Also in the episode: When Deanna Troi responds automatically to the bitter and twisted Armus's question about how much she is willing to give to save her crew. Any member of the crew: Everything.
Tasha discovering that Worf bet on her to win the Martial Arts tournament on the ship in "Skin of Evil". This seems like more of a "heh, sweet" moment (or an incredibly clumsy Ship Tease) than a Heartwarming Moment, until you realize this is the episode where she dies and she won't be in the tournament. Then it becomes a bit of a Tear Jerker.
The fact that Tasha left a holo-message for her friends. Her time on the Enterprise was, effectively, her first time with a family who cared about her as an individual, and, knowing that she'd likely die in the line of duty, left them this message, presumably to give them a sense of closure that they couldn't have due to whatever death she would suffer.
Denise Crosby would say that had she been given more scenes like that, she might not have left so suddenly.
In its own way, the Martial Arts tournament on its own, and the fact that Worf placed a bet on anyone - it's a little reminder of the Enterprise being its own community of individuals who are living on the ship, rather than just a bunch of faceless extras. There are community events happening below decks, and Tasha - the security chief who works on the bridge and is part of the senior staff - is competing, with her coworkers believing in her skill enough to put (proverbial) money on her.
The ending, when Data learns part of what mourning means:
Data: The purpose of this gathering confuses me.
Picard: Oh? How so?
Data: My thoughts are not for Tasha, but for myself. I keep thinking how empty it will feel without her presence. Did I miss the point?
Picard: No, you didn't, Data. You got it.
Data gets another one earlier in the episode as well. Armus takes Geordi's visor, and when Data tells him where to find it, Armus moves it, and is surprised that Data does not continue to guide Geordi. Data responds that he knows Armus will move it again, and he refuses to help Armus hurt his friend. In that moment, he shows not only that he cares about Geordi, but also that he understands how painful, difficult, and even scary the situation is for him.
Speaking of Troi and Data, in "The Child" When Troi goes into labor, Data offers to stay with her. Dr. Pulaski objects, stating that she needs human contact and Data is nothing more than a machine. Troi defends him and personally asks him to stay with her while she gives birth.
Not to mention his expressions and voice afterward. When Data thanks Troi for allowing him to participate, he sounds so awed.
Deanna being a mother was adorable.
Lost in society having marched on, Pulaski says that at every delivery she'd been in charge of, the father had been in the room with the mother. Up until the 1970s and 1980s, the general rule was that everyone but the one giving birth would be kicked out of the delivery room during the actual birth, so the idea that the standard state of affairs in the twenty-fourth century is that there is always someone there who the expectant parent loves and trusts, simply to hold their hand through the process, is still a novel thought.
"Loud As A Whisper." Riva, a deaf negotiator - with his "chorus" in tow - is being introduced to the bridge crew, and when he meets Geordi, they have a wonderful bonding moment.
Geordi: It is my pleasure to meet you, sir.
Riva: What is that you're wearing?
Geordi: A VISOR. It interprets the electromagnetic spectrum and then carries the readings to my brain.
Riva: It's a blessing to understand we are special, each in his own way.
Geordi: Yes. Yes, that's the way I feel exactly!
Also, Data being amazing and learning all known sign language, in a matter of minutes, just for Riva.
The final scene of "The Measure of a Man" when Data comes to the briefing room to cheer up Riker. Riker was still kicking himself about the role he was forced to play, the prosecutor that could have condemned the android. Data simply tells him that he is not only well aware that Riker had no choice in the matter, but will never forget that making that sacrifice gave him his one chance to win his freedom:
Data: Sir, there is a celebration on the Holodeck. Riker (drenched in self-loathing): I have no right to be there. Data: Because you failed in your task? Riker: No, God, no. I came that close to winning, Data. Data: Yes, sir. Riker: I almost cost you your life! Data: Is it not true that had you refused to prosecute, Captain Louvois would have ruled summarily against me? Riker: Yes. Data:That action injured you, and saved me. I will not forget it. Riker (smiling): You're a wise man, my friend. Data: Not yet, sir, but with your help, I am learning.
And what about Commander Maddox, the Jerkass who wanted to disassemble and experiment on Data? Well, after Data wins, he goes up to Maddox...and encourages him to continue his project, as he will still be there when it's ready to go. And as Data leaves the courtroom:
A couple years later we learn that Data and Maddox are pen pals. The entire episode "Data's Day" is a narrated email to Maddox.
Early in the episode, Picard was given an Armor-Piercing Question by Data - if Geordi's VISOR is far superior to human eyes, why aren't all Starfleet officers required to have their eyeballs replaced by cybernetic implants? This quickly made Picard realize that what's happening to Data is wrong, and he immediately went through some legal wrangling to try and get Data out of Maddox's clutches. And later, when Picard tells Data about the forthcoming hearing, Data shows his appreciation for Picard's efforts:
Picard: Now, I have been asked to represent you, but if there is some other officer with which you would feel more happy-
Data: Captain, I have complete confidence in your ability to represent my interests.
Picard: You have no other portraits of your fellow crew members. Why this person? Data: I would prefer not to answer that question, sir. I gavemy word. Picard: Under the circumstances, I don't think Tasha would mind. Data: She was special to me, sir. We were... intimate.
A subtle one, but at Data's retirement party, notice that Doctor Pulaski is there, too. After the events of "Unnatural Selection," it's not hard to imagine that Pulaski and Data are friends now, or at least on good terms, which is much better than they started out as.
Picard pointing out to everyone in the courtroom that — in a way — Data represents the entire point of why Starfleet was founded in the first place, and thus is a being whose rights must be respected and recognized.
And the cherry on top is Judge Louvois's final ruling, which is particularly well-spoken and satisfying:
Phillipa Louvois: It sits there looking at me. And I don't know what it is. This case has dealt with metaphysics, with questions best left to saints and philosophers. I'm neither competent nor qualified to answer those. But I've got to make a ruling, to try to speak to the future. Is Data a machine? Yes. Is he the property of Starfleet? No. We have all been dancing around the basic issue: does Data have a soul? I don't know that he has. I don't know that I have! But I have got to give him the freedom to explore that question himself. It is the ruling of this court that Lieutenant Commander Data has the freedom to choose.
The crew cheering Data on in "Peak Performance" during the Stratagema game. More so when he wins and quips "I did not win. I busted him up." Yes!
Adding to that heartwarming is that all through the episode, one person has persistently been Data's biggest supporter - Doctor Pulaski. She pushes him to play the first time, she tries to get him out of his funk, and she goes to Picard to get him to talk some sense into him. Over the course of the season, she went from treating him like a tool to his biggest cheerleader.
In the same episode Riker is given the option of picking almost any member of the crew for his allies during the Training Exercise, which will pit him against the Enterprise in a hugely mismatched face-off. Every single one of the people he asks not only agree, but many of them were ALREADY PREPARING STRATEGIES. Even Worf, who considers the whole thing a waste of time, agrees quickly.
Riker: Join me.
Worf: The honor is to serve.
There's also the sheer delight on Wesley's face when Riker asks to have him on the team too for educational purposes. Riker is always willing to give him new experiences and opportunities - and his presence ends up massively aiding the Hathaway.
After Kolrami has spent most of the episode snidely putting down Riker and his ability to command, Picard brings him into the ready room and absolutely roasts him for disrespecting his Number One.
In "Up The Long Ladder" Pulaski saves Worf from embarrassment from catching a childhood illness, so he brings her a Klingon tea ceremony. She knows what it is and what it means, and thanks him for the honor.
While most people tend to focus on the Wesley/Salia relationship in "The Dauphin", the one between Anya and Worf is Heartwarming in its own way. Unlike many visiting aliens who tend to look down on Worf (or the other way around), the two show each other respect even when they temporarily are at odds. At the end Worf comes to escort her home, and they part on good terms and with the hope that the next time they fight, it will be on the same side.
When Wesley first notices Salia, Will doesn't do what many adults would do: tell Wesley that pursuing Salia is silly at best and a potential diplomatic disaster at worst. As long as Salia isn't rejecting Wesley (harassment wouldn't be okay) Will will help his friend if asked.
This extends to the rest of the senior staff. Neither Worf nor Data discourages Wesley even though both have a vested interest in ensuring the mission's success and ship's security by avoiding this potential diplomatic disaster. Even Picard asks Wesley to back off, he doesn't order because he admits that it isn't his place. It's only when Anya's shapeshifting puts the ship in danger that he makes a request, not an order.
A minor one, but during the scene where the ship is malfunctioning and in danger in "Contagion", Riker and Troi can briefly be seen holding hands on the bridge.
There's a moment in "The Royale" where the crew find a long dead American astronaut from centuries earlier — indicated by his diary, and the fact he's wearing a uniform with a US flag — living in the illusory Hotel Royale. It turns out that the aliens who accidentally destroyed his vessel and killed his crew created the Hotel in an attempt to repent for their actions. They unintentionally trapped him in a badly written hell for the rest of his life, but their intentions were good, and the colonel holds no malice towards them.
When they learn his name, Riker looks at the corpse in the bed and says "Rest in peace, Colonel." That he has respect for a man who died centuries before he existed, is touching.
In "Pen Pals", Picard has ruled that the ship can't assist the aliens of the week because of the Prime Directive. Then Data prepares to shut down his communications with the planet, leading to the bridge crew hearing the alien child he's been talking to pleading for her life...and Picard, for all his distaste for children, for all his dedication to the Federation's laws, can't bring himself to turn his back on them now. It doesn't take long before the Enterprise openly flouts the Prime Directive and saves the planet.
Earlier in the scene, when the crew is arguing about it, Pulaski insists that her emotions are involved in the situation, like it or not, because Data's friend is going to die and that matters to Data, therefore it matters to her too. It's a long way from the woman who didn't believe Data was capable of that kind of sentiment or caring.
The plot hijacks the scene by the end in "Contagion," but Wesley coming to Captain Picard because of his difficulty with dealing with the destruction of the Yamato, the Enterprise's sister ship. He's struggling to process the fact that roughly a thousand people died in a senseless accident, and wants to know how the officers around him can accept it. Before being distracted by the plot, Picard is already giving him the start of a speech on how we can handle these events but it is still valuable to be affected by it.
"Where Silence Has Lease" has Pulaski not just apologize for questioning Data's ability, but also apologizing for how her initial attempt at an apology was still condescending. As much as fandom holds her initial attitude towards him against her, she DOES change her tune over time.
At the beginning of "The Ensigns of Command," Picard and Dr. Crusher are attending a violin concert that Data is performing in. Just as it begins, Picard is called to the bridge and leaves; the look on Data's face is painful disappointment as he watches his friend leaving his recital (for legitimate reasons, but he doesn't know that). At the end of the episode, Picard summons Data to his ready room, and reveals that he is listening to a recording of the concert, complimenting his performance.
The compliment itself stands out. Picard specifically compliments Data's style. When Data argues that he is merely mimicking other performers, Picard counters that Data selected performers with different styles, making his own in the process.
Ard'ian kisses Data when he is confused trying to figure out how to convince the colonists to leave the planet before they're wiped out by the territorial Sheliac. When he asks why she just says he looked like he needed it.
"The Bonding": Jeremy Aster is still shellshocked by the death of his mother. Cue Captain Picard (who is not comfortable with kids) reassuring him with this:
Picard: Jeremy, on the starship Enterprise, no one is alone. [takes his hand] No one.
Though it would have denied Jeremy a life among real people, it's hard to fault the motivation of the alien being who assumes Marla Aster's form, trying to give him his mother back in the only way they can, a very touching and human gesture from a non-corporeal alien.
This is particularly heartwarming, because it shows that there is no actual villain in this episode. No one has any malice or bad intentions. Every single character is concerned only with doing what they think is best for Jeremy's sake to get him through this painful time.
The ending of "Who Watches the Watchers" is very heart-warming. And tear-jerking. And so awesome.
Nuria: You have taught us there is nothing beyond our reach. Picard: Not even the stars. Nuria: Pahkee. [Pahkee, a little boy, gives Picard a piece of woven cloth] I wish you good journeys, Picard. Remember my people. Picard: Always.
Picard keeps the cloth and uses it as a cover for the headrest on the chair in his ready room, a place it will keep on the Enterprise-E up until it disappears in Nemesis.note The director never watched an episode and unfortunately disregarded things of significance and continuity.
In another moment from the episode, Picard explains to Nuria that his people used to live in caves, then huts, then starships. She makes the connection for herself and wonders if one day her people will "travel above the skies." Picard replies that he has absolutely no doubt that they will.
"Yesterday's Enterprise" sees one from Guinan. They've just experienced a hellish Alternate Timeline where Guinan sees Tasha Yar alive and well, despite the fact that Tasha was supposed to have died before Guinan joined the ship. Once the timeline is restored and Tasha gets a Heroic Sacrifice fate instead, Guinan sits down in the original Ten-Foward with Geordi, and asks:
Guinan: Tell me about Tasha.
The pre-credits sequence with Worf is a fridge heartwarming moment — a former mortal enemy, now a beloved crewmember, just hanging out and shooting the shit with Guinan without a care in the world. It serves as a reminder of what could be lost if the crew doesn't escape the alternate timeline.
When Tasha Yar is preoccupied with her thoughts about the alternate timelines and Lt. Castillo's eventual fate (not to mention her feelings for him), she ends up talking with Data about it, showing that even in the bad timeline she and Data were close friends.
In the episode "The Offspring", when Data creates a daughter named Lal (which means "Beloved" in Hindi), there are a few aaaww moments. One that really stands out is when Lal observes how humans hold hands to show affection. When she next sees her father, they just hold hands for a while.
This also happens at the end when Lal fails. Data says she "so enriched his life" that he couldn't just forget her and he took her memories and put them into his positronic brain, saying she'd always be with him.
And the dialogue, that, in another situation could have been Narm or just Tastes Like Diabetes, but instead gets the tears flowing.
Lal:I love you, Father. Data: I wish I could feel it with you. Lal: I will feel it for both of us. Thank you for my life.
Captain Picard's defiance of Admiral Haftel, who wants to take Lal away, without Data, refusing to refer to Lal as 'the android' because, like her father, she is still a sentient being who deserves to have choice in her fate - and she doesn't choose to leave her father. It's a vivid contrast to how he reacted to learning that Data had created Lal at the start.
Admiral Haftel was an Obstructive BureaucratJerkass for most of the episode, but once Lal's neural net begins to fail, he immediately offers to assist Data in saving her, and is visibly moved by Data's heroic effort. By episode's end, he seems almost a completely different character.
When Data asks Dr. Crusher for advice about parenting:
Crusher: Just help her realize that she's not alone, and be there to nurture her when she needs love and attention.
Data: I can give her attention, Doctor. But I am incapable of giving her love.
Crusher: Now, why do I find that so hard to believe?
In "The Defector", Admiral Jarok's Patrick Stewart Speech to the man himself about why he defected is equal parts heartwarming and Tear Jerker, especially the ending line:
I... will never see my child smile again. She will grow up believing that her father is a traitor. Butshe will grow up.
At the end of the episode "Deja Q", Q's expressions of gratitude to the crew of the Enterprise were mostly viewed as annoyances, but Q giving Data a moment of laughter was purely heartwarming.
The fact that the crew took him in and gave him protection at all after all he had done to them was fairly heartwarming and a complete subversion of Humans Are Bastards. And they do all get rewarded in the end, in a sense: from then on, Q acts as a Trickster Mentor to them instead of an antagonist.
Q telling Data that he's much more human than Q after Data saved his life without hesitation. And Q calling Picard his "only friend" and coming to Picard to confess his feelings even though the captain gets mad at him for it.
Qs willingness to sacrifice his life to save the crew from Calamarain becomes even more significant after watching Voyagers Death Wish, in which it becomes clear that not only is death for the Q more terrifying as they are immortal and never had to deal with it, but suicide is also viewed as the greatest crime for them to commit (the view which Q himself especially argues in that episode). For him to not only be willing to die but to in essence break that taboo and commit suicide in Deja Q speaks volumes of his changed feelings for Data and the crew as a whole.
In "Sins of the Father," Worf explains his situation and asks Picard for a leave of absence. Picard refuses.
Picard: If I understand correctly, a Starfleet officer, a respected member of my crew, could be charged with a capital crime. Your actions on this matter will reflect on this ship, and on the Federation. Therefore, it seems only appropriate that your captain should be at your side while you make your challenge. I'm sure you would do no less for me."
After his brother is stabbed, Worf chooses Picard as his cha'Dich.
Picard: Thank you, Lieutenant. I appreciate the gesture, but I know there are stronger and younger men from whom to choose. Worf: I can think of no one I would rather have at my side.
Worf accepting discommendation to protect his brother, and the Empire.
Riker: For an android with no feelings, he sure managed to evoke them in others.
Geordi refusing to accept Data's apparent death, going over every scrap of evidence repeatedly looking for some proof that his friend is still alive. Finally, he remembers the audio logs and discovers something that Data would never have done (specifically, not announcing his departure from Fajo's ship) and uses that to build an argument that Data is alive.
At the closing of "Sarek", Picard's exchange with Sarek's wife.
Picard: He loves you, very much. Perrin: [smiles] I know. I've always known.
Just the thought that as fraught a relationship as Sarek and Spock have had, Sarek has always had a genuine love for his son deep down inside.
At the end:
Sarek: We shall always retain the best part of the other, inside us. Picard: I believe I have the better part of that bargain, Ambassador.
The ending of "Tin Man", when Data talks to Counselor Troi about the disappearance of her friend Tam. There's a rare moment between the two of them (who are literally the most different characters in the show on an emotional level), when Data actually takes a step towards understanding emotions—not just defining them, or explaining how they affect people, but actually understanding. They end with Data turning to the viewscreen, in as close to contentment as he ever gets, and Deanna leaning against him. D'awww.
Troi: Data... you do understand. Data: Yes, counselor. When Tin Man returned me to the ship, I realized... this is where I belong.
Tam finds Data "restful" because he doesn't get all of Data's thoughts at once like every other crew member on the ship. Being an android, Data has no thoughts for him to read ("It's like you're not even there"). Troi observes that Tam's impression of Data is truly unique. When visiting Data's quarters to discuss the mission at hand, Data gets a rare opportunity to play host and Tam gets to be an ordinary visitor, even expressing fascination that while Data could dedicate all of his time and energy to work, he still finds time to paint.
In "Hollow Pursuits", Captain Picard is informed by Riker and Geordi about how Reg Barclay isn't living up to Enterprise standards, derisively referring to him as 'Broccoli' while doing so. Picard immediately tells them to stop using the nickname, and that he won't give into the easy solution of having Barclay transferred. Instead, he has Geordi find a way to help Barclay live up to ship standards. Best part is, it works: Barclay goes on to become one of the best members of the engineering staff (and one of the best in Starfleet), and years after leaving, he still considers his time aboard the Enterprise as the best of his career. Knowing everything that comes later for Barclay makes Picard's early support very Heartwarming in Hindsight.
"Transfigurations" has one John Doe who doesn't remember his former life. He's a very kind man who grows close to Dr. Crusher and the Enterprise crew. Despite Sunad's accusation that he's a violent criminal, John ultimately learns he's not only a good person, but that he and his kind are on the verge of a evolving beyond the physical plane.
John capping off his speech by crediting that he survived Sunad's attack thanks to the kindness of the Enterprise's crew.
Despite that Sunad refused it, the newly evolved John gently offers that all of their kind can evolve.
Also a Tear Jerker, John's farewell to Picard and the crew.
The episode "Family" tugged on the heartstrings a bit, but the defining moment was the conclusion, in which Captain Picard gets into a fight with his brother over past differences, breaks down about his experience with the Borg (which was essentially a Mind Rape and he hadn't come to terms with it yet), and then they get crazy drunk together, finally reconciled after decades.
In another subplot of the same episode, Guinan tells Worf's adoptive parents that when he looks towards home, he's looking not to the Klingon Empire but to them.
Worf's adopted parents in general. They can be a bit much(as all parents can be), but they are genuinely kind, sweet people who love their son unconditionally. While they are not entirely understanding of what Worf is going through with his discommendation, they know they have to be there for him to make sure he's doing okay. They cap it off by telling him just how proud they are of him. All while Worf despaired the whole time that he had "dishonored" them
Worf: I must bear my dishonor alone.
Sergey: That is not true.
Helena: I'm sorry if this is too human of us but, whenever you are suffering, you must remember we are with you.
Helena: You're our son. (Worf smiles and holds their hands)
Before this moment, Worf admits that when he saw his parents on the arrivals list, he wasn't sure that he wanted them to come. After a few moments, he reassures them that he is glad that they are there.
The fact that these two, despite being human, did their best to support Worf's desire to embrace his heritage, up to and including cooking Klingon meals for him, despite not having the stomach for Klingon cuisine themselves.
At the end of the episode Robert gives Jean-Luc a bottle of wine and asks him not to drink it alone, if possible. And Picard doesn't, he shares it with Chancellor Durken in "First Contact."
When Sergey and Helena are preparing to leave, Worf quietly asks if they can send over one of Helena's homemade Rokeg blood pies. Even a warrior appreciates the comforts of home every now and then.
The final scene of the episode deserves mention too. After Jean-Luc has left, Robert and his wife see their son Rene (who wants to join Starfleet and explore the universe like his uncle) sitting under a tree staring up at the stars.
Marie: He's still out there... dreaming about starships and adventures. It's getting late...
Robert: Yes...but let him dream.
In the episode "Brothers":
Soong: Everybody dies, Data... Well, almost everybody.
It may be undermined by Lore's later actions, but when Lore initially learns that Soong's dying, he has a very human reaction to the notion, to the point of protesting that Soong's "not that old" despite the obvious evidence.
After Data tells Soong that he won't be able to grieve for him, Soong replies, "You will, Data. In your own way."
All throughout the episode, Data repeatedly calls Soong "sir." As Soong is about to die:
Soong: Goodbye, Data... Data: Goodbye... Father.
Meanwhile, Data's actions have stranded the Enterprise in orbit with a boy who has only a few days to get to a medical facility and a very irritated crew. They're understandably pissed off, but when they're preparing to beam down to the planet to look for him, Picard has only five words: "Bring him home, Number One." It's rather sweet that despite all the trouble he's caused, they're still determined to get him back where he belongs.
This is a small moment, but when Picard helps Beverly up from the floor after she crashes through the vortex in "Remember Me", Beverly hugs him. A proper squeeze, too, and Captain "no-touching-I-am-dignified" Picard squeezes back. This was the only time out of two that they've hugged on the show (the second being in "The Host"), while not possessed, drunk, or impersonated by aliens.
Wesley gets a hug too. The Scrappy he may be, but a son reuniting with his mother, both convinced they'd never see each other again earlier, can always tug the heartstrings.
The same episode has this moment which crosses over substantially with Tear Jerker. When the crew is reduced to her and Captain Picard, and Beverly runs through the people who are missing — not just their rank on the ship, but all the little pieces of identity that make them who they are.
"Will Riker, your First Officer! He's... he's very good at playing poker, loves to cook; he-he listens to jazz music, plays the trombone. Commander Data, the android who sits at Ops. Dreams of being human. Never gets the punchline of a joke. Deanna Troi, your ship's counselor, half-Betazoid, loves chocolate; the arrival of her mother makes you shudder. O'Brien, Geordi, Worf. Wesley, my son! They all have been the living, breathing heart of this crew for over three years! They deserve more than to be shrugged off... brushed aside, just pinched out of existence like that. They all do. They deserve so much more."
Picard's response to this — going along with her requests and accepting her apology for his forgetting everyone because "If I have forgotten so many of my dearest friends and comrades, then I deserved every word."
There's a meta level to all of this - in the years since the episode first aired, it's becoming more documented that women are not as believed when reporting things like abuse and harassment (to say nothing of victim blaming). In this episode, the only person who ever suggests that Crusher is perhaps hallucinating the crew steadily decreasing, vanishing from existence as if they'd never existed, is Crusher herself, about halfway through, only because she's unsure if she is when there's no evidence. And on top of that, even when she does, Deanna immediately shuts down the idea that she is crazy for having done so.
Crusher: Deanna, I've delivered babies that no longer exist. No one else remembers them. Yet I can close my eyes, and see their faces as clearly as I see yours now. What if it's not some huge conspiracy? What if it is just me?
Troi: What if it is just you?
Crusher: Then I've delayed a mission, frightened a lot of people including myself.
Troi: So what? You've acted in the best interest of your ship and crew. What more could you ask of yourself? If it turns out to be a mistake, then we'll be a little late arriving at Durenia Four. That's all.
"Legacy." Picard thanks Tasha's sister, Ishara, for helping them on the planet, only for Ishara to bitterly reply "I don't run away when things get tough, like some people," referring to her late sister. Of course, Picard ain't havin' that.
Picard: Let me tell you about your sister. First time I saw Tasha Yar, she was making her way through a Carnelian minefield to reach a wounded colonist. Her ship had responded to their distress call, as did mine. When it was all over, I requested that she be assigned to the Enterprise. Her ship's captain owed me a favor. In the months that followed, she never once failed to put the safety of the crew before her own and she died doing the same. I'm sorry you never knew the woman Tasha became. I think you would've been proud of her. And she of you.
Worf spends the majority of "Reunion" refusing to acknowledge Alexander as his son, due to the ramifications of Worf's discommendation and wanting to shield him from them. But at the end of the episode, after K'Ehleyr has been murdered by Duras, and Worf has slain Duras in response, leaving Worf Alexander's only remaining family, aside from Worf's adoptive parents (who take Alexander in until the following season), he accepts the responsibility of fatherhood.
Alexander: Are you my father?
Worf: Yes. I am your father.
In "Future Imperfect", where Riker wakes up 16 years in the future with no memory of what happened, he finds out that he has a son. He offers to bond with the boy and recreate their father-son relationship.
Once Riker realizes hes in a holographic world, he starts acting aggressive to all of his crew members. The only one he spares is Troi who he merely warns to back off. He may have discovered the world was fake, but he would never talk harshly to Troi.
After The Reveal, where the future Enterprise is revealed to be a simulation and Riker's "son" was an alien child named Barash, Riker offers to bring Barash with him.
Basically everything between Picard and Wesley in "Final Mission".
"The Loss." Troi struggles to cope with the sudden, well, loss, of her empathic abilities. She doesn't cope well at all, and even snaps at Picard at one point, refusing to be condescended to or pitied, and asks to resign. But Picard brings her into his office a second time, wanting her to try and help Data make contact with a cluster of beings enveloping the ship before they're all pulled into a cosmic string. Picard makes it abundantly clear that she's The Heart, with or without her abilities, and his request ends with this heartfelt line:
And then at the end when her senses are restored, she gets a huge, relieved smile on her face. Just precious.
The end of "Data's Day" is quite uplifting, but Captain Picard visiting the newborn baby and telling him "Welcome aboard" is wonderful.
Data's letter to Maddox, given as an inner monologue at the wedding:
There are still many human emotions that I do not fully comprehend. Anger, hatred, revenge. But I am not mystified by the desire to be loved, or the need for friendship. These are things I do understand.
The mere fact that Data and Maddox have become pen pals is a nice way to show that Data doesn't hold a grudge over what happened two years earlier.
Troi is surprised when Data says that he has considered getting married someday, but when he says that he believes that he has a lot to offer a potential mate, she says that she believes so as well. She even changes seats to be near him so she can grasp his shoulders in a gesture of affection.
The somewhat Insane Troll Logic Data employs as Keiko gets cold feet and wants to call off the wedding: Chief O'Brien wants her to be happy. She says she wants to call off the wedding. Therefore, he'll be happy for her. (Spoiler alert: He is not. Additional spoiler alert: It's just jitters and the wedding happens.) Something about the overly optimistic view he takes this is just so sweet, that he's seeing the bright side of what anyone else would immediately see as bad news, or a mistake on Keiko's part.
The wedding itself, down to Picard using the same opening that Captain Kirk had in an episode of the Original Series and Data taking the role of "father" of the bride and escorting her to the altar.
In "The Wounded", where O'Brien beams over to the ship of his former captain, Maxwell, who has gone rogue and is trying to kill Cardassians, convinced that they are plotting another war against the Federation. O'Brien's pain at seeing his old captain acting this way, the bitterness Maxwell holds for the Cardassians who had slaughtered his family in the previous war, watching O'Brien slowly bring Maxwell back to reality, and Maxwell realizing how close he is to Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, all in very unexplicit ways, is touching enough; but the crowner is when he remembers the old song mentioned earlier, and asks O'Brien for the words. He trails off at the end, letting O'Brien finish. The whole scene doubles as a Tear Jerker.
Maxwell: I'm not going to win this one, am I, Chief? O'Brien: ...No, sir.
The two men singing The Minstrel Boy in honor of a fallen comrade is absolutely heartbreaking. The Minstrel Boy will be O'Brien's Leitmotif throughout the rest of the series and his entire run of DS9; symbolically showing O'Brien as an innocent man marked by the horrors of war.
This makes it even more touching that he was humming it at the breakfast table earlier in the episode.
A couple in the episode (not the movie) "First Contact" between Picard and Chancellor Durken, who woke up that morning as the leader of a whole world and now finds that his world is only one of many: "But I think it was a good day." Later, when he learns that the Federation has been covertly observing his people, Durken angrily confronts Picard... and then admits he might have made a similar error in Picard's place, and it actually pleases him to know the aliens are not infallible. Picard wryly observes that he has made "some fine [mistakes] in my time."
Mirasta Yale, after seeing her warp program shut down, gets the chance to live her dream of traveling the galaxy. Her joy when Picard grants her request to take her with them is sweet to see.
Worf swallows his pride and tells Dr. Crusher about his wrist aching because despite feeling that a warrior should not complain about physical discomfort, he wants to be thorough and report anything out of the ordinary. This is ultimately an important clue in unraveling the mystery presented in the episode.
Data would rather suffer a court martial and be "stripped down to [his] wires" to find out why he's lying to Captain Picard than endanger the lives of the crew.
At the end of "Night Terrors," the way Data gently orders Picard and the rest of the crew to bed, in his last act as acting captain.
"Identity Crisis" puts Geordi's life in danger, and while Data insists he is incapable of worry, he admits that he is "strongly motivated" to come up with a solution.
Later, Geordi becomes infected and escapes to the planet's surface. By the time they find him, his transformation is nearly past the point of no return. His friend Susanna manages to reach the small part of him that remains and she is able to convince him to go with her and be saved.
In "The Mind's Eye", there's some Fridge heartwarming: The Romulans brainwash Geordi and one of the things they want him to do is kill O'Brien. When Geordi is brainwashed, he... spills a drink on O'Brien.
"The Host" swung back and forth between this and Tear Jerker, but one of the sweetest scenes ever to hit Star Trek occurred between Beverly Crusher and Odan (hosted at that time in Will Riker's body). She'd walked away from her relationship with Odan because she couldn't deal with him essentially living inside someone she'd basically considered a brother for years, but when she sees the rosebud Odan gave her blooming on her desk, she goes to where he's staying, resulting in this sexy, adorable dialogue (which also proved that Gates McFadden and Jonathan Frakes could fucking act):
Beverly: [on how to administer anti-rejection medications in the middle of diplomatic talks] You could schedule a series of breaks... Riker-as-Odan: Oh, that's good. ...Beverly. I want you. If you're going to leave you had better leave right now. Beverly: [choking back tears] I'm not leaving!!!
In the same episode, Deanna tells Beverly about the first man she, and any woman alive, ever loved: her father. Heart-warming and heart-breaking in the same instant.
Deanna: What I wouldn't give to hear those songs again.
Near the very end, immediately after stating her plan to help Odan-in-Riker's-body help finish the negotiations despite his continued pain, Beverly tries to leave to see to it. Until Picard calls out to her, knowing full well that she's barely holding herself together at this point:
Picard: Beverly. Whatever else I may be to you, I'm your friend. I can only imagine what you're going through [right now]. And I just want you to know that... I'm here for you.
We all knew Data's relationship with Jenna D'Sora from "In Theory" was doomed to failure but their obvious friendship, and the fact that he tries so damned hard to make it work (he asks pretty much the entire bridge crew for advice because he has no idea what he's doing) is as endearing as it is funny.
Worf's departure from the Enterprise at the end of "Redemption Part 1". He's resigned his Starfleet commission to fight in the Klingon Defense Fleet, due to both loyalty to Gowron, who restored his family's honor in the eyes of the Empire, and because he feels responsible for the Klingon Civil War beginning as a result of his backing of Gowron. First, Captain Picard comes to escort him personally to the transporter room. When they get there, they find several of the crew assembled, forming an honor guard from the turbolift to the transporter room, where the senior staff wait to see him off.
"Redemption Part 2" pays off the emotion in the first part with this exchange at the end of Part 2, something Picard had obviously been waiting for.
Worf: Permission to return to duty, sir. Picard:(without hesitation) Granted.
Guinan sticking up for Ro Laren, vouching for her with Picard and naming her a friend...a woman she only just met. Made even more heartwarming when Picard states, "Guinan is very selective about whom she calls a friend."
Also heartwarming to see how much Picard values Guinan's opinion.
Picard comes to see Ro as a officer with value and potential, and persuades her to remain on the ship.
Ro: There would have to be one condition. Picard: Condition? [Ro puts in the earring Riker made her take off and smirks] Picard: [big grin] Picard to Enterprise. Two to beam up.
In "Darmok", there is the growing friendship between Picard and Dathon, the captain of the Tamarian vessel. They cannot understand each other, not truly, for most of the episode, but nevertheless forge a bond nonetheless. The scene where Picard having worked out that the Tamarians communicate through metaphorical cultural references - which he does not understand, but whose meaning he begins to decipher - tells the dying Tamarian the Tale of Gilgamesh is one of beauty. Dathon obviously doesn't understand all of what Picard is saying, but starts to see the similar themes between Gilgamesh and his own species' hero, the titular Darmok. He slips away, smiling, knowing that his efforts in bringing the Federation and his people closer together was not completely in vain.
The moment where Picard figures out the basis of Tamarian communication is also an utterly joyful one, with Picard's huge grin, despite the fact that they're also in the middle of defending themselves against a dangerous creature — not only has he made a breakthrough, but he clearly thinks it's such a cool thing — and Dathon's sheer glee that Picard gets it at last.
Dathon: Sokath, his eyes uncovered!
At the end of the episode "Disaster", the three children Picard shepherded through danger by deputizing them as officers present him with an adorable plaque. The real CMOH comes when he gives the bridge to "Number One" and both Riker and the eldest girl respond.
Picard and the children singing Frère Jacques as they climb up the turbolift shaft.
Spock: An inexorable evolution toward a Vulcan philosophy has already begun. Like the first Vulcans, these people are struggling to a new enlightenment, and it may take decades or even centuries for them to reach it, but they will reach it... and I must help.
Listen to the way Spock speaks. (Most notably when he is first speaking to Picard, "You cannot remain here, Captain Picard!", or later, Sela, "I'm afraid I don't know too much about Romulan disruptor settings.") His voice no longer exudes a neutral, logical tone. He seems to have found a balance between his human and Vulcan sides, which is later shown in Star Trek (2009)when he meets his alternate self face-to-face in the alternate timeline.
This is mitigated a bit in the Expanded Universe, where it's revealed that in the prime timeline, the Romulan survivors have split into two factions. The traditionalists want to restore the Romulan Star Empire and maintain their old ways, but others who want to live more peacefully and develop friendlier ties with other races break away and form the Romulan Republic. And the first Proconsul of the new republic? D'Tan, Spock's young Romulan friend.
Mitigated some more by Star Trek: Discovery, which reveals that the surviving Romulans eventually relocated to Vulcan, which was subsequently renamed "Ni'Var" — a Vulcan term (originating in a short story from The New Voyages) meaning two halves coming together to form a whole.
The dedication of this episode in particular to the recently deceased Gene Roddenberry. With its message of optimism, peace, and brotherhood, it's a perfect tribute to the man who expounded it his whole life.
The moment in "New Ground" which introduces Alexander when Riker and Worf save the endangered animals. It wasn't anything big, it wasn't anything anyone would have noticed...they did it because a little boy begged them not to leave them behind.
Worf's interactions with his Adopted Mother, fussing over him, pointing out a touch of grey in his beard. Notice his warm smile as she does this even as he squirms away.
"Hero Worship": Pretty much all of Data's interactions with Timothy, the ten year old boy who was the sole survivor of his destroyed vessel. He pretty much latches onto Data, going so far as wanting to be an android himself. This is also partly Tear Jerker as the real reason he wants to be an android is because they don't have emotions, and ergo, he wouldn't have to feel the grief and guilt of losing his entire family.
The usually stoic and unyieldingly stubborn Worf accepting his son Alexander's help (indeed, asking for it) in relearning how to walk at the end of the episode "Ethics".
There's the fact that he asks Riker for help in the suicide ritual. Despite how painful it is for Riker and the argument they have over it, it speaks to Worf's regard for and trust in him.
The other reason he asked Riker was that he couldn't bring himself to ask Alexander - by tradition, the one that is supposed to perform the ritual - to do it. Worf, despite caring deeply about Klingon tradition, values protecting his son's innocence over following the letter of the ritual, and knows that even asking Alexander to do it could be traumatizing.
Worf asking Troi to, if he doesn't survive the surgery, raise Alexander.
Worf: I can't imagine anyone who would be a better parent to my son.
Say what you like, but Lwaxana Troi making friends with Alexander in "Cost of Living" was positively adorable.
Another Lwaxana moment: In "Dark Page," when the telepath is describing Lwaxana's image of Deanna. "She has an image of you. It's even more beautiful." As exasperated as Troi often is with her mother, and as irritating as the woman can be, Llwaxana positively adores her daughter.
When Geordi is explaining why friendship is so important and valuable to non-Borg species, Hugh thinks it over for a moment and then says, "Like Hugh and Geordi," seeming pleased with himself that he understands what friendship is. Geordi's response of surprise that Hugh already considers him a friend is touching.
In "The Next Phase," Geordi and Ro are presumed killed during a transporter accident. They're only "out of phase," but none of the crew can see or hear them, so a memorial service is planned. Data is the one to plan it, and he recalls that Geordi was the first person to treat him as more than a machine.
Data: I never knew what a friend was, until I met Geordi. He spoke to me as though I were human. He treated me no differently from anyone else. He accepted me for what I am. And that — I have learned — is friendship."
All the more effective—to the point of Tear Jerker—when you consider the math: before his assignment to the Enterprise, Data had been alive for twenty-six years, nineteen as a Starfleet officer, and in all that time not one person accepted or befriended him. Thank god for Geordi.
And earlier in the episode, when Data calls Geordi his "best friend" and asks to plan the memorial service. Despite Data being technically unable to grieve, nobody has a problem with him running the funeral.
Picard's intended eulogy for Geordi:
Picard: I've been thinking about the first time I met Geordi La Forge. He was a young officer, assigned to pilot me on an inspection tour, and I made some off-hand remark about the shuttle's engine efficiency not being what it should. And the next morning I found that he'd stayed up all night, re-fitting the fusion initiators. Well, I knew then that I wanted to have him with me on my next command.
Ro's intended parting words to Picard:
Ro: I just wanted to say "thank you" for trusting in me when no one else would.
The fact that Riker wants to give a eulogy for Ro, despite the fact that they generally didn't get along, is also rather sweet (although Ro's reaction to this news is hilarious).
The episode "The Inner Light" is made of this trope, but it reaches an all-time high at the end when Picard discovers he still knows how to play Kamin's tune of the flute... sniff
Kamin and Eline's loving relationship, along with their adorable teasing of each other, and the running joke of Eline putting Kamin's shoes away because he always forgets.
Another instance is the spine-tingling moment when Batai and Eline, both long dead, come back to Picard at the end.
When Picard takes the flute out of its box at the end of the episode, he doesn't play it right away. He holds onto it tightly, you can see him relive all of his memories with it. He played it every night for decades, composed music for it, everything. Even the feel of the wood on his skin would be familiar, and being a piece of a home that he thought he'd never see again hit him with so many conflicting feelings he was rendered speechless.
The first part of "Time's Arrow" has one after the crew find evidence that Data is going to die (i.e. his severed head buried underground in San Francisco... it's a time paradox thing). The reaction of the crew is, in Deanna's words, like discovering someone you love has a terminal illness, and people start acting awkward around him (like stopping conversations whenever he enters a room). The fact that the entire crew, including the captain, spends the best part of the episode trying to keep him away from any incidents that might result in his predestined death is heartwarming enough, but by far the sweetest moment is when Data confronts Deanna and Will about their behavior and Riker quotes:
Riker: It's just that we've become accustomed to your sensory input patterns. Data: Ah... I am also fond of you, Commander. And you as well, Counselor.
Data's reaction is especially heartwarming: rather than trying to avoid his death with any sort of fear or apprehension, Data instead decides to keep living his life the same way he always has, and actually finds comfort in the fact that he has a finite existence because it brings him closer to being human.
The captain and Riker even go so far as to not bringing Data with them to the planet this very mission sent them to, even though it's standard procedure for the second officer to join an away team on this kind of mission. Data figures out why, and points out to the captain that this decision isn't rational.
The second part of "Time's Arrow" has one after one of the aliens escapes through the time vortex back to the 24th century. While the rest of the crew go after him, Picard stays behind with the younger Guinan (who was injured).
Picard: You were hurt. I had to make sure you were all right. Guinan: And so you stayed for that? Picard: I didn't want anything to happen to you. You're far too important to me. Guinan: You know an awful lot about me. Picard: Believe me, in the future, the tables will be turned. Guinan: Do we become friends? Picard: Oh, it goes far beyond friendship.
There's a smaller one for Doctor Beverly Crusher, in a comparatively small moment while they're pretending to be members on 18th century San Francisco and currently trying to subtly investigate a cholera ward. Beverly risks exposure by helping a cholera patient who is struggling to catch his breath drink. She knows she can't fix anything, she's just trying to make him more comfortable. There is no reason to help someone in an era they aren't a part of, but Beverly is ever a doctor.
Later in the episode, after La Forge angrily ejects Scotty from engineering for getting in the way, while working together in the Jenolan, La Forge comments that "just because something's old, doesn't mean you throw it away," referring to both The Jenolan and Scotty. In return, when they get the Jenolan active again, Scotty cedes command to La Forge, a former bridge officer, despite a superior rank, as Scotty is happier being an engineer.
At the end of the episode, Scotty and Geordi have formed a genuine bond and the experienced engineer imparts some great advice:
"Enjoy these times, Geordi. You're the chief engineer of a starship, and it's a time of your life that'll never come again. When it's gone, it's gone."
After the holodeck got out of control in "A Fistful of Datas" and Worf had to engage in an actual shootout to save Alexander from outlaws, Alexander presumes Worf won't want to be revisiting the "Ancient West" again anytime soon.
Worf: The town of Deadwood may face danger once again. If they do, they will need a sheriff... and a deputy.
Picard smiling and laughing when he gets stabbed in the heart at the end of "Tapestry", knowing his life would be restored to its normal timeline.
There's a callback here to when he was discussing the accident with Wesley in an episode years earlier - Picard remembers laughing out loud, though at the time, he didn't know why. Read a certain way, it seems Q has been having a hand in helping Jean-Luc out for much longer than it seems.
Even more heartwarming was the closing scene between Picard and Riker, and the tears start flowing when Picard begins to reveal his other adventures to Riker.
Picard: I still don't know what to make of it. Was it a dream? Was it one of Q's elaborate tricks? Riker: A lot of people near death have talked about strange experiences, but I've never heard one so detailed. Picard: And, you know, there's still a part of me that cannot accept that Q would give me a second chance, or that he would demonstrate so much compassion. And if it was Q, I owe him a debt of gratitude. Riker: In what sense? It sounds like he put you through hell. Picard: There are many parts of my youth that I'm not proud of. There were loose threads, untidy parts of me that I would like to remove. But when I pulled on one of those threads, it unraveled the tapestry of my life. Riker:(smiling) I was just trying to imagine a hell-bent-for-leather young officer insulting a Nausicaan twice his size. I wish I'd had a chance to know that Jean-Luc Picard. Picard: Oh, well, to tell the truth, that wasn't the first run-in I'd had with a couple of surly Nausicaans. Riker: Really? Picard: Oh, yes. During my sophomore year, I was assigned to training on Morikin Seven. Well, there was a Nausicaan outpost on one of the outlying asteroids, and one day... (Credits Roll)
Just heartwarming that Q did all this just to teach Picard that the parts of his past he didn't like shaped him into the man he is, freeing him from those regrets.
Bashir does a more-or-less unintentional one in "Birthright". What does Data want most in the world? To be human. What does Bashir immediately start commenting on? Data's hair, his breathing, his pulse...in other words, his most human features.
Data: Most people are interested in my extraordinary abilities. How fast I can compute, my memory capacity, how long I will live. No one has ever asked me if my hair will grow, or noticed that I can breathe.
Also, after Data has his first dream, he seeks advice from Worf, who has a problem of his own regarding his father. When Data mentions that his own father appeared in his dream, Worf begins to explain the Klingon significance of such imagery, and ends up answering his own question.
Worf: You are very fortunate. That is a powerful vision...You must find its meaning. If it has anything to do with your father, you must learn all you can about it. In the Klingon MajQa ritual, there is nothing more important than receiving a revelation about your father. Your father is part of you, always. Learning about him teaches you about yourself. That is why...(realizing) no matter where he is or what he has done, you must find him.
Despite being a primarily action-oriented episode, "Starship Mine" begins with a quiet heartfelt moment. The Enterprise is vacant, and Picard is the last to leave. We see him gaze fondly around the empty bridge, taking in the silence, enjoying this quiet time alone with his ship. It's a common theme throughout Star Trek that the Enterprise and her captain are basically a couple, and we see that affection in that moment. And of course it resonates throughout the episode, as Picard singlehandedly takes down a bunch of would-be hijackers: no one messes with the Enterprise when her captain is around.
In "Rascals" Ro is dismayed (even more than the others) at being a child again, as she had a horrifying childhood. Guinan, also turned into a child, tries to coax her into playing, and introduces her to the simple joy of jumping on the bed. Ro, in spite of herself, has a lot of fun for probably the first time in her life.
Picard and Commander Daren are just adorable together in "Lessons." Bonding over playing music together is sweet, but it becomes particularly heartwarming when Picard shares the folk melody he remembered from "The Inner Light."
At the end of the episode "The Chase", the Cardassians and Klingons have left in a huff, refusing to believe that they could possibly share a common ancestor and infuriated that the message that revealed this is the "treasure" they spent so much time and effort to find. Picard is feeling down, but then the Romulan commander calls him and offers a little hope. "It would seem that we are not completely dissimilar after all; in our hopes, or in our fears." Picard can only answer "Yes..." The Romulan puts forth an olive branch, of sorts: "Well then perhaps, one day..." Picard is comforted, and echoes: "...one day..."
This doubles, perhaps, as a Call-Back to the end of "The Defector", and an affirmation of Picard's hope there that "one day" they might be able to deliver Jarok's final message to his daughter, and explain why he sacrificed everything in the belief that he was preventing another war, and giving her a chance to grow up.
Hell, it calls all the way back to "Balance of Terror": "In another reality, I could have called you friend." That reality is drawing closer.
Data's poem "Ode to Spot" is a bit ridiculous, but the last line is heartwarming.
And though you are not sentient, Spot and do not comprehend I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.
The conclusion of "Descent, Part II" where Hugh explains that their rogue Borg colony has no leader with Lore gone, and Riker suggest that they actually do, with a meaningful look at Hugh. The look on the little guy's face after he says that.
In Interface, Geordi disobeys Captain Picard's orders to not use the interface to try and use the interface to save his mother due to the risk it posed to Geordi's life. Data tries to stop him but ends up helping when Geordi gives him an ultimatum and is forced by Geordi to remove the safety limits on the interface. Without giving away anything other than Geordi surviving, Picard tells Geordi that this will be put in his permanent record. Either right before Picard actually says this or right after, Geordi accepts this and that he takes full responsibility for the incident. Picard (and the viewer knowledgeable about Geordi and Data's friendship) see right through this, but HW points to Geordi to take the heat for Data after putting the android in, in Data's words, "in a difficult position."
And now a HW moment that is a spoiler: Even though Geordi disobeyed his orders and he had to reprimand him, Picard switched hats and offered condolences to Geordi that his mother wasn't even down there.
The end of "The Pegasus" shows a very subtle but still heartwarming moment. To explain, Riker has just turned himself in for being part of an immoral captain's actions in his early days in Starfleet. Picard later walks into his cell in the brig and has a talk. Essentially, he realized Riker had made a rookie mistake: Just Following Orders when he didn't realize the orders were immoral. He then assures Riker that while he made a mistake, he owned up to that mistake once he realized the implications. This means he's really a just man, and given that, Picard is willing to trust Riker to keep the Starfleet code from here out and then lets him out.
Before that, when Picard was explaining to Admiral Pressman exactly WHY he chose Riker for his first officer - because Riker had, according to his record, risked a court martial for refusing to allow the captain of his previous ship to beam down during a crisis (unlike in Kirk's day, it is now a general rule in Starfleet that the captain not beam down for away missions, and for a very good reason). Because he thought he was right. This was what Picard wanted in his first officer - someone who would stand up to him and care more about the ethics of the mission and the duty of Starfleet than with just obeying orders without thinking.
In the episode "Inheritance", when Data meets Juliana, who is essentially his "mother", there's a touching Continuity Nod to "The Offspring" when she finds out about Lal, and exclaims, equal parts ecstatic and heartbroken, "I had a granddaughter?"
Really, the episode is full of little heartwarming moments, but then there's after The Reveal that Juliana is really an android version of the original, deceased Juliana. Data is faced with the choice of telling the unaware android of her true nature and finally not being alone in the universe, or letting her have her humanity. Picard lets him know he has the support of the crew no matter what in a nice True Companions moment, but even better is when Juliana wakes up... and Data simply tells her that "everything is fine."
Data discovers Juliana has a special holodeck chip that explains her android nature. The holodeck program is a recreation of Dr. Soong to answer the questions of anyone who discovers the truth about Juliana, and it turns out he programmed a special subroutine for the event that it was Data who activated the program. The first thing he does is beam with pride and ask "How are you, boy?"
There are so many moments in the episode that stand out, but there's something oddly sweet about the fact Juliana has embarrassing childhood stories, that she and Soong actually had arguments about whether he'd be male or female, that she's so interested in finding out about his life and experiences. It means Data actually HAD a childhood.
In "Parallels," Worf keeps shifting into different realities. The last one is fairly idyllic - he's first officer, married to Troi and has two children with her. However, in this reality, Alexander doesn't exist and such a thought saddens Worf.
In that reality, the events of "The Best of Both Worlds" ended instead with Picard dying and Riker staying captain. When events allow for this alternate Riker to speak to our Picard, he tells him (with a wistful sadness), "It's good to see you again, Captain. It's been a long time."
In the same installment, in earlier quantum reality, Worf asks Troi to be Alexander's Soh-chIm, which would make her the human equivalent of a stepsister. Troi considers a great honor, but notes that it would make her mother his stepmother. After a double-take, Worf decides it is a risk he is "willing to take."
At Worf's birthday party Troi gives Worf Alexander's gift as Alexander is currently on Earth visiting Worf's foster parents. It's a clay molding of the ridges on his forehead, Worf smiles fondly at the gift and proudly calls it "the ridges of a Warrior".
The Beverly-Picard scenes in "Attached". Every single one of them.
This exchange in "Masks" (which would've been more heartwarming if it didn't immediately become disturbing, because Data sounding anything other than calm and composed, much less outright scared, is a freaking event):
Geordi: Hey you're gonna be all right. You're with me, okay? Data: ... Okay. [sic]
The episode "Thine Own Self": When explaining to "Jayden" that her mother is dead, Gia draws on Data's buried memories of the Enterprise and her crew, despite the fact he currently has amnesia and has no idea who he is. Watch!
Gia: Father said she... she went to a beautiful place, where everything is peaceful, and everyone loves each other. Where no one ever gets sick. Do you think there is really a place like that? Data:(Looking up at the stars) ... Yes. I do.
The rock-climbing scene in "Bloodlines" where Picard bonds with his long-lost son, Jason. Of course, it was a ruse by DaiMon Bok, and Jason isn't really Picard's son, but nonetheless when Jason goes on his way at the end of the episode, Picard gives him a kind, genuine send-off regardless.
The final scene in "All Good Things", when Picard finally joins in on the crew's poker game.
Picard: I should have done this a long time ago. Troi: You were always welcome. Picard: So. Five card stud, nothing wild, and the sky's the limit...
From that same episode, Q actually congratulating Picard for figuring out the puzzle, and in the larger context, proving humanity was worthy to continue its trek through the stars. And Picard actually thanking Q. Both sentiments of course were very begrudged. Not to mention, Q goes on to acknowledge that it was his doing that got Picard into the whole mess, a level of personal responsibility Q is not typically inclined to express.
Picard: Thank you. Q: For what? Picard: You had a helping hand in getting me out of this. Q: I was the one who got you into it. A directive from the Continuum. The part about a helping hand... was my idea.
Then you have this:
Picard: I sincerely hope that this is the last time that I find myself here. Q: You just don't get it, do you, Jean-Luc? The trial never ends. We wanted to see if you had the ability to expand your mind and your horizons. And for one brief moment, you did. Picard: When I realized the paradox. Q: Exactly. For that one fraction of a second, you were open to options you had never considered. That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.
Then, Picard asks Q what he's really saying, Q begins to tell him, changes his mind, smiles broadly and bids him farewell.
Q: You'll find out. In any case, I'll be watching. And if you're very lucky, I'll drop by to say hello from time to time. See you... out there!
To collapse the anomaly, the Enterprises from three different timelines have to enter it. Present and future are onboard, but Picard has to convince the past crew:
Picard: Now, this will put the ship at risk. Quite frankly, we may not survive. But I want you to believe that I'm doing this for a greater purpose and that what is at stake here is more than any of you can possibly imagine. I know you have your doubts about me... about each other... about the ship. All I can say is that although we have only been together for a short time, I know that you are the finest crew in the fleet and I would trust each of you with my life. So, I am asking you for a leap of faith... and to trust me."
This is immediately followed by Tasha Yar relaying the orders to head into the anomaly and not one single crew member hesitating to carry them out.
While trying to get things organized with the Enterprise crew from the past, has a brief chat with O'Brien. The smile in his voice when he mentions their common interest in model ships (something that O'Brien won't mention for another few years), and on his face when O'Brien looks up at him confused, is just adorable.
Also worth noting is how O'Brien isn't an engineer at this point, but Picard expresses faith in his engineering skills.
When Picard returns to Troi's quarters in the present from the past, he says that he'd just been with Tasha. He doesn't use the more formal Lieutenant Yar, or clarify that it specifically was Tasha Yar, just expects that when he says 'Tasha,' Troi knows he means their fallen friend. Six years after her death, she's still remembered and loved by the crew.
In the future timeline, on the Pasteur, after beaming aboard Worf and preparing to head to the Devron system, Beverly turns to Picard and steps away from the captain's chair, and asks him "once more, for old time's sake?" Even though we've still seen our Picard in the normal timeline commanding as usual, the swell of music as he stares at the chair longingly and slowly sits down before ordering them to go really makes you feel how long it's been for him (25 years!) and imagine what that means to him to get one more chance to command.
In "Lower Decks", Picard gives Sito Jaxa a brutal "The Reason You Suck" Speech over her screw-up at the Academy and how he doesn't know how someone like her could be assigned to the Enterprise. After she comes back to him later and demands to be judged by her service aboard the ship rather than her past, Picard explains that it had been a Secret Test of Character that she has passed. He also explains that he actually does know how she got assigned to the flagship of the Federation: he requested her, because he wanted to see that someone gave her a fair chance to redeem herself.
What inspires Sito Jaxa to confront Picard? After getting her dressing down from Picard, Worf subjects her to a blindfolded martial arts test. Despite her best efforts, the un-blindfolded martial arts master Worf puts her on the mat repeatedly. She calls him out on the unfair test, leading to the following exchange:
Sito Jaxa: Sir, is there really such a thing as a gik'tal challenge? Worf: No, there is not. But perhaps next time you are judged unfairly, it will not take so many bruises for you to protest.
While the episode's ending in general is heartbreaking, it does have a heartwarming aspect when Ben the bartender convinces Worf — who had been sitting alone with only his chessboard and personal grief for company — to join with Sito's fellow juniors in mourning her loss, assuring him that Sito didn't just see him as her CO — she considered him a friend.
In "Emergence" Data asks why Picard let the emergent life form fly away without tracking it. Picard replies that he has faith that he made the right decision:
Picard: The intelligence that was formed on the Enterprise didn't just come out of the ship's systems. It came from us. From our mission records, personal logs, holodeck programs, our fantasies. Now, if our experiences with the Enterprise have been honorable, can't we trust that the sum of those experiences will be the same?
In "Preemptive Strike" Ro is overwhelmed by the greetings of the senior staff upon her return, and is momentarily disappointed to see Picard leave after a short time. But then Picard pages her from the corridor, wanting to give her a break and talk one-on-one with her.
In one of the licensed novels ("Spartacus"), the Enterprise encounters a ship full of androids who look and act far more human than Data, which causes him to experience a small existential crisis (because they've managed to develop individual personalities, something that he fears lies the scope of his own programming.) Geordi shows up and gives him a Tough Love pep talk to the effect that he always tries too hard to be human, but the crew will always care for and respect him even if he never fully grasps human behavior. At the end, Data gives Geordi one of his rare smiles and says, "You are my best friend." D'aww...
A sort of general one, but the way that Geordi often touches Data (up to and including holding his hand) is very sweet. It's not only a testament to the strength of their friendship, but to how Geordi sees Data — as a person, not a machine.
The comics draw on it more, particularly in one of the 90's annuals where Data is involved in an accident which almost kills him - and Geordi stays with him almost CONSTANTLY desperately trying to find a way to save him. Which he does. When Data reappears at the end it turns out he had been conscious for a little while - but didn't communicate this immediately because he wanted to surprise Geordi in person.
Data's cat Spot manages to find her way through several floors of a Galaxy-class starship to get to him, and Geordi walks into sickbay to find her asleep on Data's chest.
Meta heartwarming - Gates McFadden left the show after season 1 due to being underutilized, not to mention some sexual harassment from head writer Maurice Hurley. Her surprise return in the season 3 premiere "Evolution" (which was after Hurley left), was warmly welcomed by Trekkies. To say nothing of her seriously awesome new hairdo.
As with all the Trek series, the TNG cast became close friends over the years. And even Denise Crosby, despite leaving during season one, is still included among them at conventions.