For a grim and gritty crime drama like True Detective, it certainly has some heartwarming moments.
- Cohle shows up for dinner with Hart's family, dead drunk... and sincerely and tearfully apologizes to Hart.
- Coupled with Hart making him coffee to sober him up and being supportive for the first time in their relationship.
- After finding out about the death of Cohle's daughter during one of their car rides in Episode 2, Hart becomes genuinely apologetic for berating him so often.
- Cohle, with no hesitation whatsoever, helping Hart cover-up the unplanned Vigilante Execution of Reggie Ledoux. He also, in his usual, blunt way, tells Marty that he's proud of him for "committing to something for once," and agreeing that he did the right thing in putting down Ledoux for murdering and torturing children.
- In 2012, Hart refuses (until shown pretty convincing evidence) to consider that Cohle is the Yellow King, and manipulated him throughout their investigation and careers.
- The growing camaraderie and trust between Rust and Marty, starting from episode 4. Especially when Rust tells Marty that it looks that his wife will return to him.
- Watching both detectives at ease after the Ledoux case is over. Especially Cohle, who is actually cracking smiles and seems fairly content with life.
- Cohle and Marty's reunion in 2012, where they genuinely smile to see each other and share a drink. Undermined somewhat by the fact that Marty immediately checks to see if his gun is loaded.
- As Marty recovers in the hospital, talking to Papania and Gilbough, he refers to Cohle as his friend for the first time in the series.
- Maggie and her daughters visiting Marty in hospital. He lost them, but at least for a moment they're a family again, and their relationship may improve.
- Marty and Rust's last couple of interactions in the finale make it clear that they've ended up somewhere between Fire-Forged Friends and Vitriolic Best Buds, in spite of all that's happened between them.
- Cohle's new view on life, and him telling it to Marty in an unusually vulnerable moment. He felt his loved ones in the afterlife after he was stabbed, particularly his daughter's love. So life does have meaning and Cohle does have something to look forward to, as he can reunite with his family after death.
- Appropriately, the last shot of the series is the two of them walking off in arms, as the camera drifts up to the starry sky, which Cohle now views as a symbol of hope, of light beating back the dark.
- Many Ray-Chad moments:
- Ray trying his best to let his son live a normal life, despite the fact that he is almost certainly not be the biological father, due to his mom's Dark and Troubled Past and subsequent divorce. In a meeting with lawyers, he consistently referred to Chad as his son.
- Ray having a covert farewell with his son after realizing he really does need to stay away, including passing on his father's badge.
- In Chad's final scene, he brought his grandfather's police badge to school with him.
- Bezzerides moments:
- Ani and Athena reconcile at least a little bit — especially with Ani's reaction to the news that Athena landed a spot at CalArtsnote .
- Ani and her father reconciling over his failure at raising her. He regrets that he just wanted to avoid becoming too much like his own father, overly strict and controlling. And his too trusting nature led him to invite a rapist onto his commune, who kidnapped Ani. He also mentions how he looked in the woods for four days straight when Ani went missing. And he easily counters Ani's question why he hadn't asked if she was indeed guilty of murder:"You are the most innocent person I've ever known."
- Ani leveling with Ray about the investigation she's supposed to be doing on him after he saves her life.
- Ani and Ray giving each other support, and reassuring each other that they can overcome their problems. After awkward drinks, they make love in a tender scene that contrasts with the season's bleak tone and cynical portrayal of sexuality.Ani: You're a good man.Ray: No I'm not.Ani: Yes you are.
- Velcoro taking care of a hungover and stressed out Paul, helping him clean up and comforting over the media hounding him and his issues with identity.
- Velcoro being entirely upfront about the fact that he considers Paul a war hero, and that the media snapping at his heels doesn't matter compared to that, is especially heartwarming. Later calling him a "fucking god-warrior" when talking to Athena after the shootout cements his immense respect for the much younger cop.
- Frank and Ray semi-reconciling.Frank: You might be one of the last friends I got left.
Ray: Wouldnt that be fucked up?
- Frank talking to his friend Stan's son, showing that he would be a good father. The boy hasn't really been helped by well-wishers, who have just been telling him that Stan was a good man. Frank instead tells him that this will be a defining moment in the boy's life, but that he can use it to make himself stronger, and a better man because he has the same gold heart that Stan had. Then they hug while the boy cries.
- Jordan and Frank telling each other "I love you", before planning to finally escape their troubles.
- The final scene, in an odd way. Ani and Jordan have met and become friends in Venezuela, and they're on the run a year later, two badass women, a baby, and Nails. They didn't break, fall, or fight. They're united.
- The fact that Nails is still protecting Ani, Jordan, and the baby they're both raising. He didn't want Frank's money, and would have done it for free after what Frank did for him, but he made a promise: "Nobody's gonna get near her." Damned if he didn't mean it.
- Roland has held a grudge against Wayne for almost 25 years because Wayne manipulated him into kidnapping and killing Harris James. When Wayne does finally show up, he tearfully admits he can't remember much of his life, including his own wife, because of his worsening dementia, but apologizes for anything he's done. Roland instantly drops his rage and reverts to being his friend, accepting the apology, recognizing that even though Wayne's mind might be going his old partner is still in there.
- Made even more heartwarming in the next episode where elderly Wayne, after confusing a stranger for his college-age daughter he's supposed to "drop off at school" spontaneously recalls the circumstances of Harris's death and gives Roland the apology he's been waiting 25 years to hear. The look on Roland's face says it all, especially after Wayne, with genuine remorse, asks if they can get past it.Roland: We're past it, bro.
- Made even more heartwarming in the next episode where elderly Wayne, after confusing a stranger for his college-age daughter he's supposed to "drop off at school" spontaneously recalls the circumstances of Harris's death and gives Roland the apology he's been waiting 25 years to hear. The look on Roland's face says it all, especially after Wayne, with genuine remorse, asks if they can get past it.
- Hays' last discovery: Julie is alive and well, with a daughter and a loving husband. During the moment he realises who she is face to face, Hays decides not to disturb her before he forgets again.
- The last 2010s scene: Hays relaxing on his porch with both kids and Roland, watching his grandchildren cycle away.