- Iris being Driven to Suicide by Donovan's claim that she was a bad mother.
- Later, Donovan desperately trying to bring her back from the brink of death using the virus.
- At this point, you actually feel sorry for Donovan when he tries to save Iris. While Iris obviously isn't the best mother, Liz Taylor told him straight forward: she did what she could for him, even if it wasn't enough. Imagine being in his shoes when he hits that realization, goes to apologize, only to find her dying. Because of what he said. No wonder he jumps the gun with using the virus to save her.
- Alex talking about how much she bonded with Holden when he was born, and how much it affected her when he went missing.
- Alex telling John that she wants a divorce. The look on his face when she said that is just devastating, and veers towards Break the Haughty, especially when he tells Alex that he loves her and asking if he did something wrong. Even when Alex is just about to leave, he only holds onto her hand and simply begins to break down hard, even concerning Alex as he just begs her to not leave him. It looks like he's about to suffer a panic attack!
- Even worse is that Alex isn't divorcing him because he's a bad husband, but because she believes it'd be best for the two of them since Holden's disappearance. She even tells him that she loves him too.
- Holden's little "Hi, Mommy," when she finds him at the hotel.
- Scarlett, who has to deal with the fact that her brother was kidnapped and her parents marriage is failing. Her mother favored her brother, and continues to do so, neglecting her daughter who is still present and in need of love and attention because she cant cope with the absence of her other child to the point of attempting suicide. The fact that the poor kid manages to stay relatively cheerful just makes it even more sad.
- Miss Evers' tearful recollection of her son's death and the deep guilt she feels at having lost him.
- When the policeman tells her all that they found of her son was his bloody ghost costume and how his remains were scattered in a mass grave, she lets out a mournful wail. Years later, she still has his bloody costume, and desperately tries to clean it, only for the blood to always come back.
- Liz Taylor's somewhat Troubled Backstory Flashback, in which she recounts the time when she was a man who felt out of place in his body, until the Countess helped her transform into a woman.
- Especially when she breaks down in tears and calls herself ugly in the flashback.
- Hits it harder when she returns to her room only to see her friends completely do a 180 degree turn and automatically assume she's gay. Makes it worse when they flat out call her slurs and even one says she probably infected him with AIDS.
- The Countess slitting Tristan's throat in front of Liz after she says that she's in love with him.
- Worse at the fact that Tristan and Liz become more closer and even Tristan becomes more open and emotionally connected to her, more than he already was with the Countess considering how she focuses more on screwing Will Drake than him.
- John. He's lost his son and feels responsible for not paying enough attention to him, his wife wants a divorce and later begins gaslighting him and trying to drive him insane to drive him away from the secrets she's keeping, the ghosts at the hotel delight in psychologically and physically fucking with him in the most traumatizing ways possible (including attacking and nearly killing him, drugging him and forcing him to watch other people be horribly murdered, and enticing him to a threesome that turns into a bloodbath), his only remaining child shows a marked lack of interest in being around him despite his efforts to reconnect and then becomes terrified of him when she sees bloodsplatter on his sheets and him shooting a gun at the Countess's monster child in the house, and he's lost his job but remains obsessed with catching the perpetrator of a series of grisly murders, as though he's desperate for something he can fix. The poor guy is trying to keep it all together, but he's obviously on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
- He finally loses it after learning He's the Ten Commandments Killer successor, having been chosen by James March. He confesses this to Hahn, along with his huge Start of Darkness. After Hahn understandably doesn't believe him, he stabs Hahn to death & castrates him. After this, John becomes one with the Killer.
- The Countess's love to her son Bartholomew. It's one of the few times in the show that you see the Countess in a loving light.
- We actually see her become sympathetic when we learn she developed a relationship with Rudolph Valentino (who gave her the vampire abilities) and Natacha Rambova, who James happily locked away in a location of the hotel as a means of revenge against her. She's immensely heartbroken.
- Even beforehand, she was heartbroken and pissed when Valentino reveals himself to her by not being dead, as well as Natacha knowing he was alive.
- While it's intended to be funny, Iris's tribute video to herself is somewhat sad. Especially considering she made it because she felt it was the only way she'd be remembered.
- Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment, but Iris and Liz carrying Donovan out of the Cortez after he has been fatally shot, so he can die without being stuck inside the hotel for all eternity.
- The ending of the show concludes with it being later on 2022 with John revealed to have died while returning to the Hotel Cortez while being on the run with Alex and Holden. It's heartbreaking to watch how he struggles to make it to hotel grounds so he can die there, only to be stopped just a few feet short..
- Makes it worse that John and Alex allowed Scarlet to be left to live with other relatives so that she could live a normal life and not be dragged into theirs. Even worse is in the end, John talks to a now full adult Scarlet.
- Might go into Unintentionally Unsympathetic territory, since it's clear by midpoint of the series that neither parent cared as much about her as they did Holden. While it might be argued that it was merciful, given that they were both pretty thoroughly off their rocker it seemed likely that if they did see her as their child they would have brought her to the Hotel too. Instead it's implied she was just sent off to get her out of the way.
Tear Jerker / American Horror Story: Hotel