Follow TV Tropes

This is based on opinion. Please don't list it on a work's trope example list.


Tear Jerker / Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Go To
"Am I a thing worth saving, huh? Am I a righteous man? The world wants me gone."
"What about me?"
"Ooh, I need a hug."'
'The grarg, at the end of "Becoming, Part Two".

As a show about the pains of growing up, seen through the filter of a fight against forces of Evil and Darkness on an everyday basis, Buffy the Vampire Slayer naturally has no shortage of shattering moments. This is pretty much the norm for Joss Whedon. The Scooby Gang suffers through a lot in their time at Sunnydale, and while they keep on fighting through it all, that doesn't mean that the sad moments aren't any less powerful.

WARNING: Spoilers are unmarked.

    open/close all folders 

     1992 film 

    Season 1 
General Examples
  • The early season deaths of Dr. Gregory and Principal Flutie, two teachers who were mentors to Buffy and supported her in escaping her reputation as a delinquent.

1x03 — "The Witch"

  • The scene where Amy tells Buffy and Giles what Catherine has done. Poor, poor girl. This quote in particular:
    Amy: She told me I didn't deserve to have it so easy, that I didn't know what it was like, to be her... I guess she showed me, huh?

1x10 — "Nightmares"

  • The conversation between Buffy and her dad. Buffy doesn't even know what's going on yet, that they're just nightmares, and then her dad comes and says that it's her fault he and her mom broke up, and she's so much less than he hoped. And oh, by the way, he doesn't really get much out of these father-daughter weekends.
  • When Xander, Willow, and Giles see Buffy's grave, which is Giles' nightmare.
    Giles: I failed... in my duty to protect you. I should have been more cautious. Taken more time to train you. [choking up] But you were so gifted... and the evil was so great... [whispering] I'm sorry.

1x11 — "Out of Mind, Out of Sight"

  • Cordelia's main purpose in Season 1 is to appear, trade a few zingers, and scream. But in this episode, she gets a sudden burst of Character Development, in seeing her speak with Buffy about how she DOES feel alone, but she'd rather be alone in the crowd than alone on her own. It's the first glimpse of Cordy behind the Alpha Bitch routine, and we see the scared, lonely, teenage girl she is:
    Cordelia: Please! I don't have anyone else to turn to!

1x12 — "Prophecy Girl"

  • Buffy learning of her imminent death.
    Buffy: Do you think it'll hurt?
    • When Giles tries to persuade her to face her destiny:
      Buffy: I don't care! ...I don't care. Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't wanna die.
      • Made even worse by the fact that the second "I don't care..." is said in a way that shows without a doubt that it's a lie. She cares. Of course she cares. But... well, she's sixteen years old, and she doesn't want to die.
    • She looks terribly young in this scene. For all her badassery and confidence (and the Dawson Casting), it really hits home that she's still just a girl condemned to death and scared out of her mind.
  • Willow when Buffy's at her side after the AV club massacre.
    Willow: I thought I could take anything. But, Buffy, this... this was different.
    Buffy: It'll be alright.
    Willow: I'm trying to think how to say it... to explain it so you understand.
    Buffy: It doesn't matter as long as you're okay.
    Willow: I'm not okay. I knew those guys. I go to that room every day. And when I walked in there, it... it wasn't our world anymore. They made it theirs. And they had fun.
  • The bigger Tear Jerker is Cordelia in this episode. Right before they stumble onto the bodies, she's telling Willow about how she's really starting to fall in love with her boyfriend, and how instead of being mad that he was "watching cartoons" instead of helping her, she finds it cute. She never felt that way about a guy before, and just as she was starting to, she stumbles onto his dead body.
    • To add to that, she's having this conversation with WILLOW of all people. The same girl whom she tore down in the pilot episode. But here, for this brief moment, she opens up and exposes something vulnerable to her. Despite the fact that they aren't close, because Willow, as a member of the Scoobies, helped to protect her in the previous episode, Cordelia is willing to be more open with her than she is with her flock of popular friends.

    Season 2 
  • Willow giving Giles the rose quartz necklace that she found in Jenny's desk.
  • Anytime the tune "Remembering Jenny" is played, it's a good idea to reach for the tissues.

2x01 — "When She Was Bad"

  • After Buffy's incredibly low moment with Xander, it's Cordelia of all people who calls her out. Cordy is as serious as we've seen her yet, and warns Buffy that she shouldn't treat her friends like that.
  • Buffy shows off just how not okay she is by destroying the Master's bones, then completely breaking down in Angel's arms.

2x03 — "School Hard"

  • When everyone is locked in different parts of the school, hiding from the army of vampires, Giles starts to panic, considering going out into the halls to find Buffy, despite Jenny's warnings. The emotion in his voice is quite touching.
    Giles: [choked up] I-I-I'm the Watcher, I'm responsible for her, I have to go.

2x04 — "Inca Mummy Girl"

  • The fate of the real Ampata. He was only supposed to be in Sunnydale for a couple of weeks. Instead, he's killed as he steps off the bus and stuffed into his own trunk.
    • And the brutal fact of the matter, is that his body was probably never found. Buffy explaining that the trunk in her room's owner was an ancient Incan mummy who, by the way, is dead now? They probably just buried it in the cemetery.
  • The titular Mummy Girl's fate is also sad when you consider how she was killed so many years ago, never really getting a chance to live her own life or anything, and when she does, it comes at the price of killing people, repeatedly.

2x07 — "Lie to Me"

  • The ending. Buffy asks Giles if life ever gets easy and tells him to lie to her.
    Giles: Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and, uh, we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.
    Buffy: [after the Smash to Black] Liar.

2x09/10 — What's My Line? (Parts 1 & 2)

  • An odd, rare, villainous one: When Drusilla has Angel tied up. It's dreadful because you know just what happened to Drusilla to make her the way she is, and just how penitent Angel is about what he's done:
    Drusilla: The lamb is caught in the blackberry patch. [approaches Angel with holy water] My mummy ate lemons. Raw. She said she loved the way they made her mouth... tingle. Little Anne. [pours some on him] Her favorite was custard... brandied pears.
    Angel: Dru...
    Drusilla: [sternly] Shhh! And pomegranates. They used to make her face and fingers all red. [more pouring] Remember? Hmm? Little fingers. Little hands. Do you?
    Angel: [struggling to speak] If I could...
    Drusilla: [interrupts angrily] Bite your tongue! They used to eat cake, and eggs, and honey. Until you came and ripped their throats out!

2x11 — "Ted"

  • Buffy is wigged over her mother's new boyfriend. There's something really off about him, and when she fails trying to voice her concerns and makes herself look like a heel, she's swinging pensively on a swing, waiting for something to slay.
    Buffy: Vampires? Heeeere, vampires...
  • The car ride home from the police station after Ted's presumed death, where Buffy, after Ted forcibly grabbed her and shoved her, tossed him down the stairs and apparently killed him. Though Buffy says he struck her first, there's no evidence, courtesy of her Slayer healing. Buffy and Joyce are right next to each other in the car, but it so clearly might as well be opposite ends of the earth, and you wonder how the mother/daughter dynamic can survive this.

2x12 — "Bad Eggs"

  • Angel confesses to Buffy that vampires can't have children. It becomes even more heartbreaking when you take season three of Angel into account.

2x14 — "Innocence"

  • Willow catching Xander, the boy she's always pined for, kissing Cordelia, the Alpha Bitch who made their life a misery for years. Xander tries to argue that It Doesn't Mean Anything. Willow replies, "No. It just means you'd rather be with someone you hate... than be with me."
  • When Buffy wakes up notices Angel is missing, she goes mad with worry and spends the several hours looking for him, unaware of him losing his soul. When Angelus finally returns to his apartment, she is elated to see him again until he starts viciously mocking her and acting like their night together meant nothing to him. From Buffy's perspective, the guy she lost her virginity to has basically just admitted he doesn't care about her.
  • The moment after Angelus shoves Buffy, she stays sitting on the floor, staring at nothing.
  • The scene where Buffy takes off the claddagh ring, curls up in bed, and cries.
  • Stealth Tear Jerker. Buffy, left devastated and shell-shocked, is on the couch with her mother, and it dawns on her (and us, the audience) that it's still her birthday. Joyce asks Buffy about her day; due to The Masquerade, Buffy can only respond "I got older". Joyce lights her cupcake and, instead of making a wish, Buffy opts to just "let it burn." It's only when you watch the series in its entirety that it becomes so clearly obvious just how shattered Buffy is in this moment. Tear Jerker indeed.
    • The song that plays in the background, from the movie their watching, originally an innocent little love song from a cute Shirley Temple movie now has a finite connotation in regards to her first real love. "Goodnight My Love" just the moment when the music swells back up as Buffy seeks comfort in her mother's arms and fades to black.

2x17 — "Passion"

  • Giles discovering Jenny's corpse at the end of what looks like a setup for a romantic encounter.
    • The swelling music when Giles finds her. The O Soave Fanciulla aria from Puccini's La Bohème is Awesome Music and already a Tear Jerker in itself, but the use in this scene is heartbreaking.
    • Apparently, the viewers were originally not going to be aware that she was dead at that scene; knowing it and seeing Giles' pleased reaction to the setup makes it so much worse.
    • And then they put the rose scene in the title sequence. Just in case anyone forgot that heartwrenching moment.
      • They also have a brief clip of the exact moment Angel snaps Jenny's neck in the title sequence. Because we want to be reminded of that every time we see an episode, apparently.
  • Seeing the reactions of Buffy and Willow through the window when they find out about Jenny's death.
  • Buffy confronting Giles after his suicidal attack on Angelus, screaming at him that she can't do this alone, while bawling an apology for not having been strong enough emotionally to fight and kill Angel before he could have killed Jenny. And then they both break down crying on each other's shoulders.
  • Harsher in Hindsight/Be Careful What You Wish For: Willow had previously, on seeing that Jenny had made it to school after all, complained that all of her hours of preparation for subbing the class had gone "down the drain."
  • Jenny's death actually manages to retroactively make any prior scene with her difficult to watch. Especially since she and Giles go through so many problems and hold-ups in their relationship, it's hard not to wish they would just get it together to be happy in what little time they have left.
    • Notably the scene at the end of "The Dark Age", when Jenny breaks off her budding relationship with Giles after being possessed by a demon from his youth. Actually, even without knowing her eventual fate, that scene is pretty tear-jerking. He tells her he wants to help, but when he reaches out to touch her arm, she pulls away, and it's clear that something has irrevocably broken between them.

2x19 — "I Only Have Eyes For You"

  • Giles being so desperate to believe the poltergeist is Jenny, against all the evidence and his usual careful self, is heartwrenching. When he finally accepts the truth, his expression is so very bleak.
    Willow: Giles..?
    Giles: What?
    Willow: Jenny could never be this mean.
    Giles: I know. I—
  • Buffy and Angel's reenactment of the poltergeists' doomed romance, an obvious foil to their own. Apart from realizing Buffy still very much blames herself for what happened, Gellar's acting really sells how heartbroken and desperate Buffy is. (This might also count as heartwarming, given Angel's forgiveness (albeit through Grace) and how Angelus himself seems shaken afterwords.)
    James/Buffy: I don't give a damn about a normal life! I'm going crazy not seeing you. I think about you every minute.
    James/Buffy: You don't care anymore, is that it?
    Grace/Angelus: It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter what I feel.
    James/Buffy: Then tell me you don't love me!
    Grace/Angelus: It wasn't your fault. [...] You thought I stopped loving you. But I never did. I loved you with my last breath.
  • After the spell breaks, Buffy timidly says Angel's name as they're both coming out of it, and instead of ripping her throat out, he just bolts.

2x21/22 — Becoming, Parts 1 & 2

  • We see a flashback to a sane, human, innocent, and well-intentioned Drusilla back in 1860, thinking she is confessing to her priest who is actually Angelus in disguise. She confesses about her terrifying and agonizing visions, and you see just how scared and utterly helpless she is. Angelus then goes on to tell her that she is the spawn of the devil and that, for her, there is no salvation. The way that she begs him for his help is absolutely heartbreaking, especially seeing as you know what Angelus does to her further down the line, and what he turns her into. At the very worst, Drusilla is a Jerkass Woobie.
  • We get Buffy that is off to fight Angel while everyone else is still at the library with the spell to restore Angel's soul, only at this point vampires start popping up and taking everyone out from Willow to Xander to Giles, and then Drusilla comes in and offs Kendra. Aside from Buffy (who actually gave herself up to The Master last season instead of losing to him in a fatal fight), this is the first time we've really seen a Slayer lose a fight and their life. What follows is Giles being taken away by Drusilla and Buffy arriving back at the library too late, with the music that had been playing throughout this whole scene finally coming to an end, with Buffy running back to the library in slow motion and we even hear the sound of Kendra's heartbeat fading and stopping just as Buffy gets there.
  • Drusilla hypnotizes Giles and pretends to be Jenny Calendar.
    Giles: Jenny! I thought I'd lost you.
    Dru/Jenny: Shh. I'll never leave you.
    Giles: We have to get out of here.
    Dru/Jenny: No-no-no-no-no. Slowly.
    Giles: It can't be you.
    Dru/Jenny: Did you tell Angel? About the ritual?
    Giles: No. We have to get... him away from Acathla.
    Dru/Jenny: Why? Is he close to figuring it out?
    Giles: Later.
    Dru/Jenny: Tell me what to do.
  • "If you walk out that door, don't even think about coming back." Oh God, Buffy...
  • Angel's death.
  • It doesn't seem like much of an exaggeration to say that the last 10 minutes of Part 2 are the saddest 10 minutes of the entirety of all of Buffy. Even knowing what comes later doesn't lessen the impact.
    • Joyce walking into Buffy's room, finding a note and immediately going My God, What Have I Done? at how her seventeen-year-old has run away
    • The music accompanying it ("Full of Grace" by Sarah McLachlan) makes it even worse. Wanna break a Buffy fan's heart in five words? "Winter is cold and bitter..."
      • "Full of Grace" is just the icing on the sad cake. Before that, we get the return of the Buffy/Angel love theme which had been weaving through the early season, then had been absent for the most part (after "Innocence"). That theme playing again was like a dam breaking.
      • It gets so bad that even the Mutant Enemy mascot that pops up after the end credits breaks its usual demeanor to instead dejectedly state "Oh, I need a hug!" You know things are depressing when even the mascot starts crying.

    Season 3 


3x01 — "Anne"

  • The sheer emptiness of Buffy's life in the city, highlighted by a moment when one of the patrons slaps her bum and she doesn't even react.
  • Joyce telling Giles that she blames him for Buffy's departure.
  • The fate of Sickeningly Sweethearts Ricky and Lily, and by implication that of every victim: Worked to old age in the foundry, then left on the street to die before anyone has even noticed they're missing. Buffy freed six out of dozens, and the portal closed behind her.
    • When Buffy has to break the news to Lily, she can't believe that she'll never see the love of her life again.
    "But...he takes care of me."

3x02 — "Dead Man's Party"

  • Buffy and Joyce's argument during the former's homecoming party.
    Joyce: You can't imagine months of not knowing. Not knowing whether you're lying dead in a ditch somewhere or, I don't know, living it up—
    Buffy: But you told me! You're the one who said I should go. You said if I leave this house, don't come back. You found out who I really was, and you couldn't deal. Don't you remember?

3x04 — "Beauty and the Beasts"

  • The scene at the end when Angel, after killing Pete, turns to Buffy and, after spending most of the episode in a feral state, says her name before just hugging her and crying into her chest.
  • There's a stealth Tear Jerker in the form of a throwaway line when Buffy tells Giles that she had a 'dream' where Angel came back (when actually he HAS returned and Buffy is trying to find out how and why). Giles replies that after Jenny died he often had dreams where she was alive, because he managed to save her.
    • This also has a rather upsetting subtext, because it implies that Giles feels personally responsible for not saving her life.

3x05 — "Homecoming"

  • This speech:
    Buffy: This is all I do. This is what my life is. You couldn't understand. I just thought ... Homecoming Queen. I could pick up a yearbook someday and say, I was there. I went to high school, I had friends, and, for one moment, I got to live in the world. And there'd be proof, proof that I was chosen for something other than this.

3x08 — Lovers Walk

  • Oz and Cordelia walking in on Xander and Willow's kiss. It's probably the first time we ever see Cordelia genuinely heartbroken.
    • When Xander visits her in the hospital, she can only give him a weak "stay away from me".
  • The end montage of each of the characters sitting sadly on their own, especially Willow looking at the funny pen Oz had got her earlier.

3x09 — "The Wish"

  • The series' first breakdown came during the final scene with the sad music playing as Wishverse Buffy stakes Wishverse Xander, Wishverse Oz kills Wishverse Willow, and then Wishverse Buffy gets her neck broken by the Master. All interspersed with Wishverse Giles facing off against Anyanka.
    Anyanka: How do you know that world is better?!
    Wishverse Giles: Because it has to be!
    • Fridge Horror still sets in. Remember where Wishverse Buffy was from? Cleveland still has a hellmouth, confirmed in the series finale, and she was never there to stop anything there. It's entirely possible Wishverse Giles could have been wrong.
    • Despite it being an alternate reality, watching all those much beloved characters die is heartbreaking... but by far the hardest was seeing Wishverse Oz stake Wishverse Willow.
    • There's also Wishverse Angel's death. In "Becoming", we learned he loved Buffy from seeing her outside Hemery High in LA. He loves her and, as he dies, he calls out to her. There's complete indifference on Wishverse Buffy's face. Knowing the ups and downs and tortured relationship, and the fact that Buffy and Angel, in the normal reality, never stop loving each other, seeing her completely not even care that Wishverse Angel has been killed is incredibly tragic.
  • Cordelia's death, though fortunately it gets reversed.

3x10 — "Amends"

  • Heck, it may not make other people cry, and it certainly ends in one of the cheesiest scenes ever, but at the end when Angel and Buffy finally have it out on top of a hilltop as Angel waits for the sun to rise and burn him. The two of them are acting like they have never acted before, and it is heart-rending to see just how much they both clearly still love each other.
    Angel: The demon told me to kill you, to lose my soul with you and kill you. You were in the dream, you know.
    Buffy: And why does that matter?
    Angel: BECAUSE I WANTED TO! I want to lose myself to you, take comfort from you. And I know that doing so will cost me my soul, and a part of me doesn't care.
    • Buffy's response:
      Buffy: I wish I wished you dead. I don't. I can't.

3x11 — Gingerbread

  • Sweet Jesus, Joyce's reaction to finding the two children. Sure it's all a trick, but the poor woman looks traumatized at the sight. As a mother herself, she's probably picturing what might happen to her own daughter now she knows what evil lurks in Sunnydale.
  • It's mostly played for comedy, but Willow's mother is so neglectful she has only just noticed her daughter's new hairstyle...which she's had for months.
  • Poor Michael as well. He gets attacked by an angry mob offscreen and looks shaken when he stumbles into the library. It's bound to hit home for those who have been bullied for being different.
  • Buffy has a Heroic BSoD when her mother asks the Armor-Piercing Question "is Sunnydale running out of vampires?" - and doesn't know if she's making the town any better if innocents still keep getting killed.
  • The implication that the demon has been convincing narrow minded villagers to persecute innocent good witches for centuries.

3x12 — "Helpless"

  • Buffy's reaction to Giles' deception and Giles' attempts to explain himself and apologize are gut-wrenching.

3x15 — "Consequences"

  • Willow sobbing in a bathroom stall after finding out that Xander and Faith had sex in, then cutting to a scene of Xander alone after having found out that the guys Faith sleeps with are a joke to her.

3x18 — "Earshot"

3x20 — "The Prom"

  • After Angel breaks up with Buffy:
    Buffy: I think horrible is still coming. Right now, it's worse. Right now, I'm just trying to keep from dying. [collapses into Willow's lap] I can't breathe, Wil. I feel like I can't breathe.
    • "I want my life to be with you!" "...I don't."
  • The award Jonathan gives Buffy. That whole scene actually, but this is what starts the tears.
    Jonathan: This is actually a new category. First time ever. I guess there were a lot of write-in ballots and, um, well, the prom committee asked me to read this... We're not good friends. Most of us never found the time to get to know you, but that doesn't mean we haven't noticed you. We don't talk about it much, but it's no secret that Sunnydale High isn't really like other high schools. A lot of weird stuff happens here. But whenever there was a problem or something creepy happened, you seemed to show up and stop it. Most of the people here have been saved by you, or helped by you at one time or another. We're proud to say that the Class of '99 has the lowest mortality rate of any graduating class in Sunnydale history... [applause from the crowd] ...And we know at least part of that is because of you. So the senior class offers its thanks, and gives you, uh, this. [produces a glittering, miniature umbrella with a small plaque attached to the shaft] It's from all of us, and it has written here, "Buffy Summers, Class Protector."
    • This is even more emotional in hindsight when you remember that three episodes before this, Buffy talked Jonathan down from killing himself.
  • Giles and Buffy's conversation after she gets the Class Protector award.
    Giles: You did good work tonight, Buffy.
    Buffy: And I got a little toy surprise.
    Giles: I had no idea that children, en masse, could be...gracious.
    Buffy: Every now and then, people surprise you.
    Giles: ...Every now and then.
    • At which point he takes the award and nods for her to turn around...and there's Angel in a tux, come to dance with her.

3x21/22 — Graduation Day, Parts 1 & 2

  • Wesley was a smug, uppity Watcher who wound up making a huge mess when he tried to have Faith sent out of the country for her murder of the deputy mayor, and his attitude and ill-advised decisions cause Buffy to refuse to cooperate with the Watcher's Council any longer, and himself being fired. So when he slowly walks into the library, he's genuinely ready to help with the Mayor's ascension, but he sounds so utterly defeated. And this is after Cordelia earlier reports that Wesley had been crying after Buffy's rejection. Luckily, he got a new lease on life over on Angel...before it all became an even bigger mess.
  • Mayor Wilkins standing over Faith's bed. While he may be the season's Big Bad and is planning the destruction of the entire town and hundreds if not thousands of innocent people, watching the Mayor look over Faith, being told she'll likely never wake up, is heartwrenching. It's clear with this scene that the Mayor clearly loved Faith like a daughter and wanted to share his victory with her. It's also telling that this act is the one thing that actually makes the Mayor lose his cool for the first time in the entire season and endangers his entire plan—the one that he has spent hundreds of years building towards—just to take revenge upon Buffy.
  • The death of Larry. For a minor character, he'd been through a surprising amount of Character Development, going from an obnoxious and lecherous bully in his earliest appearance to a kind-hearted and genuinely nice person, even one of the White Hats who fought the vampires who controlled Sunnydale alongside Giles and Oz in the Wishverse, plus a rare openly gay character on TV in the mid-nineties (that is, before Willow came out in Season 4). Worse that his fate was murky (whacked by the Mayor's tail) and it took a throwaway line three seasons later to finally confirm that he was dead.
  • Buffy and Angel's silent farewell to each other at the end of Part 2. They both seem to understand now that Angel leaving Sunnydale is for the best, but their faces show how much it really hurts the two of them.

    Season 4 

4x03 — "The Harsh Light of Day"

  • The Scoobies find Harmony weeping after Spike abandoned her.
  • The ending where Harmony, Buffy, and Anya are wandering around campus alone, regretting having sex the night before.

4x04 — "Fear, Itself"

  • The Fear Demon tells Buffy that "There all going to abandon you, you know?" This becomes so much worse in late Season 7 where Buffy's friends kick her out of her own house. Her fear that her friends would turn on her came true.

4x06 — "Wild at Heart"

  • Willow and Oz's breakup, especially the part where Willow discovers Oz cheated on her and him leaving at the end.

4x09 — "Something Blue"

  • Buffy speaks to Willow about "Seeing Angel in LA, even for five minutes." If you watched "I Will Remember You" and after "Pangs", you will understand why this statement is so saddening.

4x12 — "A New Man

  • Professor Walsh telling Giles that Buffy lacks a father figure. It makes her death at the hands of her own "son" in the next episode so much more satisfying.

4x15 — "This Year's Girl"

  • Faith watches the Video Will from former Big Bad and her father figure, Mayor Wilkins. Sure, he was completely evil, but his fatherly love for Faith was completely genuine and watching her expression as she watches it quite heartbreaking. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment.
    Wilkins: Now, Faith, as I record this message, you're...sleeping. And the doctors tell me you might never wake up. I don't believe that. Sooner or later, you'll find the world has gone and changed on you. I wish I could make the world a better place for you to wake up in. But tough as it is to accept, we both have to understand that even my power to protect and watch over you has its limits. The hard pill to swallow here is, once I'm gone, your days are just plain numbered. Now, I know you're a smart and capable young woman in charge of her own life...but the problem, Faith, is that there won't be a place in the world for you anymore. Right now, I bet you're feeling very much alone. But you're never alone. You'll always have me.
    • Just the fact that the most positive relationship in Faith's life up to that point had been with a murderous human sorcerer who wanted to become a demon, eat a ton of people, and rule the world. Sure, the Mayor was the epitome of Affably Evil, but he was still evil. How bad was the rest of Faith's life that this guy is her positive role model?

4x16 — "Who Are You"

  • Faith (in Buffy's body) beating up Buffy (in Faith's body). It's clear that Faith is screaming at and beating up herself and not Buffy. The desperation, despair, and hatred for herself is heartbreaking.
    Faith in Buffy's body: You're nothing! Disgusting! Murderous bitch! You're nothing! You're disgusting!

4x19 — "New Moon Rising"

  • Oz and Willow's final conversation and breakup manages to be both tearjerking and heartwarming.
    • Willow telling Tara she's staying with her shortly afterward also qualifies.

4x20 — "The Yoko Factor"

  • Giles at home, singing and playing "Freebird". A most appropriate song, as he was going to quit as Buffy's Watcher and leave her, until Spike interrupts.

4x22 — "Restless"

  • Buffy's dream has her intrude upon a meeting between Riley and Adam. The latter had been killed by Buffy in the previous episode and now appears here completely human, and, aside from his immense height, is almost unrecognizable from his bio-mechanical demonoid form. He spends some time mildly antagonizing Buffy, noting how they're not too dissimilar from each other, or from demons, for that matter, when it comes to their aggression. Finally, Riley tries to dismiss Buffy by saying that they have to do "a lot of filing, giving things names." Picking up on that last part, a genuinely affected Buffy asks Adam what his name was, and his response is surprisingly sad.
    Buffy: What was yours?
    Adam: Before Adam? [lights dim around him] Not a man among us can remember.

    Season 5 
  • Basically everything around Joyce in the first half of the season. A few little hints horrifying in retrospect, but then Buffy and Dawn have to try to deal with what so many others will: Their parent falling apart from something random and natural. In some ways, it's worse on a repeat viewing: At least, the first time, there was hope things would turn out well.

5x03 — "The Replacement"

  • Many consider him a Scrappy, but there's something heartbreaking in Riley's statement at the end where he tops off his declaration of how Buffy is "the one" with "But she doesn't love me." And he says it not with sadness or bitterness or even anger, but a quiet acceptance.

5x06 — "Family"

  • A bit of Fridge Tear Jerker: Tara, like Willow in the next season, panicked and used magic to solve a problem (clumsily) instead of addressing it directly. Willow never mentions it, not even to defend herself. It would have been easy, even natural, to point out that she's not the only one who's ever used magic to smooth over a rather serious relationship problem like addiction or, oh, say, being a demon. But she never uses that weapon. She forgave Tara so completely that either she actually forgot, or it was a line that she was not willing to cross, no matter what.
    • It was a line that had been crossed before with her. When she walked in on Oz and Veruca, Oz throws her previous dalliance with Xander in her face. Willow knows what that feels like and she would never do that to Tara.

5x07 — "Fool For Love"

  • When Buffy is going through the Watcher diaries.
    Buffy: Why didn't the Watchers keep fuller accounts of [the Slayers' deaths]? The journals just stop.
    Giles: Well, I suppose if they're anything like me, they just find the whole subject too—
    Buffy: Unseemly? Damn. Love ya but you Watchers are such prigs sometimes.
    Giles: "Painful"... I was going to say.
  • William so humbly and earnestly trying to confess his love to Cecily, only to be met with the most needlessly harsh rejection possible.
    William: I know, it's sudden... and, please, if [the poems] are no good, they're only words. But the feeling behind them... I love you, Cecily.
    Cecily: Please, stop!
    William: I-I know I'm a bad poet, but I'm a good man. All I ask is that you try to see me—
    Cecily: I do see you, that's the problem. You're nothing to me, William. You're beneath me.
  • Buffy telling Spike he's beneath her, directly mirroring Cecily's rejection 100 years prior, and Spike's weepy reaction that equally mirrors William's. It's not that bad the first time around, but knowing where the character is going in the series and even at the end of the episode makes it sting a bit.

5x09 — "Listening To Fear"

  • Buffy breaks down while the sound of Joyce's psychotic ramblings can be heard. She's really talking to the Monster of the Week.

5x13 — "Blood Ties"

  • Dawn's breakdown after she finds out the truth about herself. After returning home, she interrupts Buffy's birthday party by showing everyone she slashed her own arm.
    Dawn: Is this blood?
    • She even destroys the diary she's been writing for the past few episodes. Willow notes that it was her favourite thing since childhood.

5x15 — "I Was Made to Love You"

  • The fate of the android April.
    • Note that Warren indicates that he expected April's battery to have run down some time ago, implying that April was more or less running on The Power of Love, which runs out after Warren reveals he doesn't love her back.

5x16 — "The Body"

  • Joyce's death. Buffy returning home...and then you see her mother just lying there on the couch.
    Buffy: Mom? ...Mom? ...Mommy?
    • Then:
      Buffy: She's cold.
      911 Dispatcher: ...The body's cold?
      Buffy: [insistently, not understanding] No, my mom!
      • The change in the dispatcher's voice is a punch all its own. The woman on the other end of the line starts the call trying to calm down Buffy, talking her through CPR, speaking in a soothing voice. And then when she hears that Joyce is cold, that she's clearly been dead for a while and can't be revived, the voice on the other end just goes utterly silent for too long, and then the very clinical "The body is cold?" When she speaks to Buffy again, she's clearly aware that she's talking to someone who can't process that someone they loved is dead, and doesn't know what to say, but has to say SOMETHING to the panicked young woman on the other end of the line.
    • The paramedics arrive...and manage to revive Joyce. They rush her to the hospital, declaring it "a beautiful miracle." Joyce, snuggled on the hospital bed with Dawn in her arms, thanks Buffy for finding her in time...and we cut back to Buffy in the living room, as the paramedics give up and inform her that her mother is dead.
  • Xander's reaction to Joyce's death hit hardest. In his grief, he tries to deduce that Joyce's death was somehow supernaturally linked because, up until now, that's how most people died around them: Someone is killed, dramatic music plays, the Scoobies figure out who/what the culprit is, they slay it, and then optional mourning if it's a character who is particularly endearing (Jenny, Dr. Gregory, etc). But the standard supernatural procedural never happens because that's not what happened. Joyce died how the majority of people die: A sudden, natural death that could not have been avoided and cannot be justifiably reversed. Her death utters the reminder of how permanent and natural death is; at one point, Buffy opens the door after the EMTs leave and she's waiting for Giles and the medical examiner, but she's not greeted by the Monster of the Week or empathic weather patterns, just sunshine, birds chirping, and kids playing in the street. Joyce's death will not make the newspaper like how most deaths in Sunnydale do because it's just another day for people outside of Buffy's circle. The Scooby Gang is dealing with a situation that every viewer has gone, or will have to go, through at some point. This episode plays out just as how a day would go if someone close to you died.
    • Xander gets so angry in his grief that he punches through a wall, injuring his hand. He naturally jumps to the conclusion that Glory or the doctors are responsible, because he just wants something anything to blame.
    • This also brings to mind how when Joyce's condition was first mentioned earlier in the season, Buffy assumes that a demon is making her sick. It's not, and it pretty much marked the beginning of Buffy's trial of having to cope with losing a loved one due to causes outside of her control.
  • When Dawn's at school, the girl's demanding to know know what's going on, where's her mom, and breaks down in big "no's" and tears in front of everyone, then the camera switches to an "empty space" drawing, symbolizing how Joyce is gone.
    • What makes this truly terrible is that, just before this, Dawn's having a breakdown in the bathroom. It sounds like she might be reacting to Joyce's death, she's so beside herself, but she's not. She's upset because another girl embarrassed her in front of a boy she liked, and Dawn thinks her life's over. Five minutes later, her sister tells her outside the classroom, and the audience is still in the classroom, and can't hear what Buffy's saying... but we can hear Dawn's cry of utter despair. Dawn never had much of a childhood, and was The Scrappy for a lot of people, but she loses her innocence here. It's hard to watch.
    • Dawn's innocuous comment to Buffy "I thought Mom was picking me up" right before she leads her out of the classroom. For Dawn, it's just a normal day, but Buffy's somber expression quickly leads her to panic and Dawn is obviously trying very hard not to realize what's going on the moment before Buffy tells her.
  • Anya's stumbling attempt at human connection:
    Anya: I wish Joyce hadn't died! Because, she was nice. And now, we all hurt.
    Anya: [after Willow reams her out] But I don't understand! I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's, there's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore! It's stupid! It's mortal and stupid! And, and Xander's crying and not talking and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn, or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why!
    • The above speech creates one for Anya, too. While her quirky misunderstanding of socializing and human behavior is usually Played for Laughs, this is a woman who spent so much time as a demon she's forgotten just what it means to be human.
  • Willow fussing over what shirt to wear to the funeral. Then she gets upset thinking about how Dawn is coping.
  • What's chilling about this episode is the long eerie silences strategically placed throughout the episode.
    • This is emphasized by the fact that the entire episode had no background track. Specifically because a background track might provide a relief to the tension. Joss Whedon really does just hate people.
  • Something that nobody seems to have thought of: Brian, Joyce's date. He left this card with the flowers, wanting to see her again. And he never does.

5x17 — "Forever"

  • The Cold Open has Buffy, Dawn, and Giles picking a casket for Joyce. After Buffy makes a decision, Dawn is skeptical and gives a broken, hurt rationale as to why, with Michelle Trachtenberg showing off her incredible acting chops:
    Dawn: What if she'd like something better? I mean, she's the one who has to be in it forever.
  • Maybe because the pain was still fresh, it was kind of heartbreaking for everyone to act as if Spike just wanted to earn brownie points, when he actually wanted to bring Joyce flowers because he actually liked her.
  • Joyce's funeral speaks for itself, the music of the scene even MORE so.
  • Angel appearing to comfort Buffy.
  • Dawn casts a spell to bring Joyce back. The way Buffy says "Mommy" and rushes to answer when Zombie!Joyce knocks on the door, only to find nobody there because Dawn realised it was wrong and undid the spell will rip your heart out, the Summers girls collapsing into one another's arms, united in love and grief.
    • The scene right before that, when Buffy finally breaks down and releases all the grief and anxiety she's held inside since finding Joyce.
      Buffy: I have to do these things 'cause...'cause when I stop...then she's really gone. And I'm trying, Dawn, I am really trying to take care of things. But I don't even know what I'm doing! Mom always knew.
      Dawn: Nobody's asking you to be Mom!
      Buffy: Well, who's gonna be if I'm not?!? Huh, Dawn?! Have you even thought about that!? Who's gonna make things better? Who's gonna take care of us? I didn't mean to push you away! I didn't. It's just, I didn't want you to see me. Oh, God, Dawnie. I don't know what we're gonna do. I'm scared.

5x18 — "Intervention"

  • Spike may have a truly screwed-up idea of love and lust (hence his having Warren build the Buffybot), but in this episode, he allows himself to be tortured for hours, with a high probability of dying, just to spare Buffy the pain of losing Dawn. But the thing is that at this point in the series, he honestly has given up hope that Buffy will ever love him. He goes through all that pain for someone who despises him.
    • Worse yet, he goes through that for someone who fully intended to kill him to shut him up.

5x19 — "Tough Love"

  • Dawn's guilt and self-loathing in Season 5 is always heart-wrenching, but it reaches critical mass in this episode. This quote make one want to take her out of the Buffyverse, wrap her in blankets, and feed her soup and ice cream:
    Dawn: Right now, Glory thinks Tara's the Key. But I am, Spike. Anything that happens to Tara, happens because of me. Your bruises, your limp... that's all me, too. I'm like a lightning rod for pain and hurt... and everyone around me suffers and dies. I must be something truly horrible to cause all this.
  • Pretty much everything with Tara after this (until she gets healed, of course) qualifies. She still obviously loves Willow. The way she reacts whenever she's separated from Willow during this time is heart-wrenching.
  • Dawn's barely-suppressed panic as she tries to avoid the realization that Tara might not recover.
    Dawn: So, what'd the doctors say? Is those guys in the mental ward or-or is it different somehow?
    Buffy: They said there's no way of knowing right now.
    Dawn: 'Cause... none of those guys got better. I mean, none of them.
    Buffy: Dawn, honey...Tara might not, either.
    • At which Dawn breaks down, sobbing that it's all her fault.
  • Tara, before she's healed, slapping Willow and calling her a bitch before stopping and looking so utterly, completely scared and confused. She doesn't understand what she's doing or what's going on. And this is Tara...
  • All of the Mind Rape storyline. Look at Tara. Does This Remind You of Anything?? No, okay, think. She acts unnervingly like someone with severe mental disabilities. Depressing, to say the least.

5x20 — "Spiral"

  • Tara accidentally setting Spike on fire by opening the curtain on the RV. Yes, he freaks out (who wouldn't, being on fire and all), but he immediately forgives Tara and glosses over the incident. It hits tearjerker territory when you remember that he spent over a century taking care of someone who was only slightly more lucid that Tara at that moment, and he was undoubtedly thinking of Dru and their times together when he wandered off away from the window.

5x21 — "Weight Of The World"

  • Buffy emerging from her catatonic state and collapsing into Willow's arms. She was convinced that she had a brief moment of doubt that led to Dawn's death.

5x22 — "The Gift"

  • Spike reaffirming his support for Buffy just before the final battle.
    Spike: I know you'll never love me. I know that I'm a monster. But you treat me like a man.
    • When Doc asks why Spike's protecting Dawn despite not having a soul, Spike replies "I made a promise to a lady."
  • Dawn has just put on the dress she must wear for Glory's portal-opening ritual and she sets her own clothes down on the chair and you know she has accepted that she is going to die and has given up hope. The music playing and the expression on her face is enough to get someone a little misty-eyed.
  • Spike gets to the top of the tower to protect Dawn from Doc who beats him in a fight and throws him off the tower. Dawn's Big "NO!" isn't just about the fact that she's left alone with a demon who then cuts her to start the ritual, but at seeing a friend thrown off possibly to his death. Sure we see that Spike is alright straight away, but Dawn can't.
  • Buffy's final sacrifice for her sister, followed by the viewers hearing the speech she gave Dawn right before diving into the portal.
    Buffy: Dawn, listen to me, listen. I love you. I will always love you. But this is the work that I have to do. Tell Giles...tell Giles I figured it out. And, and I'm okay. And give my love to my friends. You have to take care of them now. You have to take care of each other. You have to be strong. Dawn, the hardest thing in this world... is to live in it. Be brave. Live...for me.
    • What's particularly powerful is Scoobies' reactions, coming closer to her body. Willow and Spike, in particular, were heartbreaking.
    • When Buffy's narration gets to "You have to be strong", the camera cuts to Spike on the ground, weeping into his hands uncontrollably. At no point in the series do you ever see Spike get this emotional. There's no Manly Tears or dignified grieving like Giles and Xander; he's crying his eyes out at the death of the woman he loved.
    • You also realize that Dawn had to witness Buffy jumping off the tower and walk down to the ground completely alone. At least the others had each other and were together for some of it. Dawn had to climb down from that height, terrified and traumatized. She's only fifteen!
    • The others also had no idea of knowing that Dawn was alright. At the point they find Buffy's body, Dawn is still climbing down the tower. For all they knew, Buffy and Dawn could have been killed.
  • The original ending had Dawn willingly sacrificing herself, which Buffy painfully allows.

    Season 6 
  • The entirety of Buffy and Spike's relationship. Finally, when Buffy is at her lowest, when she is traumatized, depressed, isolated from her friends, and doesn't have Giles there to protect her, Spike sees an opening for him to swoop in and use Buffy's aforementioned trauma and mental illness to coerce her into a sexual relationship with him. He knows that she would only ever consider being with him when she is at her lowest point, so he does everything he can to convince her that she Came Back Wrong and is subhuman thus can only find solace in him. And poor Buffy is too mentally beaten down to stop him. It's especially disheartening to hear that Sarah Michelle Gellar found Buffy's relationship with Spike to be degrading.
  • Things are pretty bleak from Spike’s end too. He’s expected to be around when needed for whatever; a protector for Dawn, an extra pair of fists, to provide sexual escapism, a verbal or literal punching bag for Buffy to take out her frustrations on, an emotional crutch etc. but also expected to shut up about his feelings and disappear immediately when he’s not. On top of that, he’s put down constantly, dehumanized (when it clearly meant a lot to him back season 5 not to be), pushed into sex when he didn’t want it in “Gone”, and even beaten bruised and bloody in “Dead Things”. The fact that Buffy is using him as a sort of emotional escape is something she refuses to explain, leading to him believing that it’s her morality about being with a monster—something he’s entirely unequipped to understand by his very nature—that keeps her from being with him the way he wants, and thus attempts to convince her she’s already on his level. It’s a deadly cycle of her using him for solace because she’s so self-loathing, taking it out on him in the aftermath, and him feeding into said self-loathing, believing that she restrains herself due to a moral quandary he doesn’t understand or think is valid. The relationship is just… so depressingly toxic for everyone involved.
  • In many ways, the whole of the season is an ongoing tearjerker. This year, the Scoobies have to face the ultimate Big Bad: Life itself. Every serious issue they face, the ones that linger over multiple episodes, are entirely mundane issues. And they utterly SUCK at handling them. Things get so bad because they have such poor coping skills for the mundane. Demons attack, they're in their element; life happens and they all just get beaten to a pulp.

6x01/02 — Bargaining, Parts 1 & 2

  • Willow tearfully proclaiming that she won't leave Buffy trapped in a hell dimension the same way Angel was, and her utter dejection when she thinks the resurrection spell failed.
  • Giles leaving, and his admission to the Buffybot that he feels he was no better than any other Watcher since his Slayer still died under his care.
  • The pained look on Spike's face when the damaged Buffybot uses one of its old programs to flirt with him.
  • Dawn snuggling up to the Buffybot as she recharges.
  • The fate of the Buffybot, plus her little speech afterwards.
  • The Scoobies' reactions when they realize they left Buffy in the ground to dig herself out.
  • The first cognizant words Buffy has about coming back to life are just the massive punch to the gut, and manage to sum up the theme of the whole season.
    Buffy: Is this hell?//
    • And, when you know why she's asking that, it's all the worse.

6x03 — "After Life"

  • Spike's shock at Buffy's resurrection, and his feeling of betrayal from the rest of Scoobies for leaving him in the dark about their plan knowing that he would try to stop them.
  • Spike's small speech to Buffy:
    Spike: I do remember what I said. The promise. To protect [Dawn]. If I'd have done that, even if I didn't make it, you wouldn't have had to jump. But I want you to know I did save you. Not when it counted, of course, but after that. Every night after that. I'd see it all again, and do something different. Faster, or more clever, you know? Dozens of times, lots of different ways. Every night, I save you.
  • Buffy telling Spike that she had been pulled out of Heaven.
    • Worse is that she tells him that the others can never know - she understands that the others NEED her to have been rescued. Meanwhile, Buffy feels like the life preserver got yanked out of her hands.

6x06 — "All The Way"

  • Dawn, her friend Janice, and two boys visit a senile, lonely old man who delighted in making toys for kids. When he tries to serve the teens marshmallow treats, one of the boys reveals he's a vampire and kills him offscreen. Poor guy...
  • This exchange is so incredibly, painfully wrong that if you don't tear up, it's because you're in shock.
    Tara: What do you want me to do? Just sit back and keep my mouth shut?!
    Willow: [snapping] That'd be a good start.
    • The look on Tara's face at that is heartbreaking in itself, as is the sense of utter betrayal in her response.
      Tara: If I didn't love you so damn much, I would! [storms off]
      • Try watching this episode right after "Family", with the knowledge of Tara's abusive past fresh on the brain; she spent most of her life being told to sit back and keep her mouth shut or else.

6x07 — "Once More, With Feeling"

  • The episode opens with "Going Through The Motions," a (pardon the pun) pitch-perfect expression of depression; it's going through life, doing the things that you used to, that are supposed to fulfill you, and yet feeling nothing. Sure, it's funny watching Buffy dispatch the singing demons, dismissing the handsome guy with the open shirt... But it's Buffy saying that none of these things really matter to her, and she's doing it not because it matters, but because she feels she has to, that she is "going through the motions" of living, and wants to feel alive, but doesn't.
  • Sweet invites Buffy to come to rescue her sister. This seems like he's pulling the Villain Ball because she is the Slayer and can kick demon butt. Then Buffy confronts him, and he compels her to sing her heart out, and we realize she really is at his mercy. Buffy is so broken that a The Music Meister demon can kill her without lifting a finger.
  • Buffy revealing she was in Heaven. Blame the music.
    There was no pain.
    No fear, no doubt,
    'Til they pulled me out
    Of Heaven.
    So that's my refrain:
    I live in Hell,
    'Cause I've been expelled
    From Heaven...
    So give me something to sing about!
    Give me something!
    • Note that she can't even sing the word "Heaven." Every time she tries, the note falls flat. When Spike joins in to sing his refrain, the same thing happens to the word "living."
    • An earlier related moment: During "Walk Through the Fire," she sings: "But why I froze, not one among them knows/And never can be told." Someone give this girl a medal; she had true perfection and was finally at peace from the pressures of Slayer-age, and is forcefully ripped from it by her friends, but refuses to call any of them out on it. That's love and devotion right there because she knows their intentions were intended to be good ones.
    • How about the fact that the last lines of her song seem like she's pleading to Sweet to "Give me something to sing about." Cue to him basically dismissing her plea and her flipping off the stage and dancing like crazy. She had to know it would kill her. And then Spike catching her, giving her a Cooldown Hug, and giving her a lesson on living. Now go back to her words "Give me something to sing about"; she is pleading to a demon to give her a reason to live.
    • What really makes it a Tear Jerker are the reactions of the others, especially Willow. She has a horrified expression, realizing that she made her best friend suffer for nothing.
  • Giles' "Standing in the Way." Sure, it was pretty much an excuse for Whedon to rob Buffy of that one necessary father figure, but Anthony Stewart Head's delivery... God, the sheer emotion in the thing is tear-jerking. Especially when you know how Seasons 7 and 8 end up breaking what little relationship they have left into little tiny pieces.
    • The duet between Giles and Tara when reprising "Standing in the Way" and "I'm Under Your Spell." Especially the line about "how can this be, playing with my memory, you know I've been through hell...there'll be nothing left of me." After what Glory did to her head, someone she trusted and loved so much also messing with her mind has got to be incredibly painful. Not only that, but she's questioning a huge chunk of their relationship. In a Dark Reprise of the song where she told Willow how said relationship made her life so much better. It's heartbreaking.
      • The line that really sells the confusion and pain is "Wish I could trust/That it was just this once." Willow broke Tara's trust so hard that Tara honestly thinks it's possible that Willow has done it to her more than once. And to make it worse, Willow does it to her again.
  • Sweet is the only Buffy villain that won; he comes into town when Xander summons him by accident. He kills a few people, kidnaps Dawn, and makes everyone reveal their deepest darkest secrets. When he leaves, he quite aptly points out that they are now left to do with their problems and promises to see them in hell.
  • Anya has a brief anguished reaction when it seems Sweet will take away Xander to make him queen.

6x08 — "Tabula Rasa"

  • When the spell wears off and Tara realizes what's happened. She's so hurt and angry at Willow that she can't even speak. Willow realizes she screwed up, but also can't say anything.
  • The closing montage. Giles and Tara leaving, and Willow crying over Michelle Branch's best musical performance of the series. It doesn't help that it's also one of the funniest episodes ever.
    • As Tara leaves, she attempts to talk to Dawn, who just storms off. She's basically going through her parents' divorce again.
    • What makes the ending sadder is that it's the last time Giles and Tara see each other.

6x10 — "Wrecked"

  • Willow's magic addiction arc wasn't particularly great, this scene was still powerful. Willow's sobbing and truly horrified at what she's done and what she's become, and she finally recognizes that she has a problem and that she's powerless to stop it and she needs help. The way she pleads with Buffy for help is just too much.
  • Willow and Buffy's conversation at the end definitely has one for Willow. Despite the addiction arc muddling things and somewhat derailing her character, we do see a sad glimpse of insight from Willow that reveals she knows what her real issue has always been: that her abuse of magic was her way of covering up her insecurities and feelings of powerlessness.
    Willow: It was. I mean, if you could be, you know, plain old Willow or super Willow, who would you be? [...] Who was I? Just, some girl. Tara didn't even know that girl.

6x13 — "Dead Things"

  • There is something genuinely saddening about the first scene, where Buffy and Spike engage in normal, pleasant conversation for a few seconds and you can see a genuine friendship and chemistry that they could (and later will) have if they were in a better place (and he had a soul).
  • Your Milage May Vary hard based on how you view Buffy and Spike's relationship in Season 6, but the scene where a grimacing and tearful Buffy watches from the shadows while her friends all dance and have a good time, as Spike begins to initiate sex with her all while whispering in her ear about how she knows she doesn't belong in her friends' world anymore, that she belongs in the darkness with him is hard to watch for many fans.
  • Buffy got there too, as she keeps saying she's bad and wrong and pleading with Tara not to forgive her.
    Buffy: It's wrong. I'm wrong. Please tell me that I'm wrong! ...Please don't forgive me... God, please don't forgive me...
    • It's not just that she doesn't want to be wrong (bad enough on its own). With her pleading, it's almost as if Buffy NEEDS something to be wrong with her, that she had been depending on the fact that, since Spike could hurt her, it meant that she was no longer human. It gave her a release that she had refused to indulge in before learning this and it allowed her to view her actions as things that someone who is not human could do. But now Tara is confirming that she's been human all this time, which means the things she has done (specifically with Spike, using him to feel), she's done with her humanity fully intact. Which, to her, makes her a horrible person.
    • It's also the fact that Tara has essentially accidentally highlighted Buffy's twofold guilt when it comes to Spike; one she's told her it's alright if she's with him even despite his past, because he has done a lot of good, aggravating Buffy's guilt that she's a hypocrite who sleeps with the exact type of monster she's supposed to be sworn to destroying. The on the other end, Tara says it's also okay if Buffy doesn't love him, because she's going through a rough patch. This in turn, aggravates the other half of Buffy's guilt, because she knows she's using and abusing a person who—for all his shortcomings—has proved again and again to love her enough to die for her. Buffy wants to be held accountable for her actions, to be whipped back in shape, but is only being offered non-judgemental, unconditional understanding and it's overwhelming her.

6x15 — "As You Were"

  • The scene where Buffy seeks Sex for Solace with Spike because she's upset about Riley being married is doubly troubling to watch; for one, her pain is all too real for anyone coming out of a long-term relationship. For another, while she would normally reject all romantic talk from Spike, this time around she orders him to tell him he loves her, as she desperately wants to feel desired. He does, and means every word.
  • Spike seeming to understand that Buffy is in fact just using him and genuinely sounding hurt.
    Spike: Well, that's bloody funny comin' from you! No more games? That's all you've ever done, is play me. And you keep playin' with rules you make up as you like. You know what I am. You've always known, and you come to me all the same.
  • There's something pathetically sad about Spike trying to insist that there's nothing wrong with them being together, even if Buffy's weak and selfish—he's basically giving her overt permission to treat him as poorly as she wants if it means he can be with her even on just this physical level.
  • Buffy breaking off her tryst with Spike, in a scene that is clearly painful but necessary for her to move forward, even calling him by his human name to show how apologetic and guilty she feels, and acknowledge that he is, in fact, a person with feelings that she had no right to toy with.
    Buffy: I'm sorry, William.

6x16 — "Hell's Bells"

  • Anya walking down the aisle alone.
  • The most heartbreaking moment in this episode is when Anya is reciting her final version of her vows (how being with Xander taught her what love really is) while Xander is walking through the rain, leaving her at the altar.
  • Say what you will about how Xander handled it, the reason he breaks things off with Anya is all too real. He's the child of an emotionally and, more than a little implied, physically abusive father, whose parents are seemingly out of love but staying together for whatever reason, with resentment and bitterness just festering between the two of them. What the demon shows him is what he's most afraid of becoming: His father. The fact that he breaks things off with Anya is because he's afraid that history will repeat itself. He's breaking her heart in an effort to spare her from ending up like his parents, the only example of love and marriage he really has.

6x17 — "Normal Again"

  • Willow rehearsing what to say to Tara, only to see her with another girl. Heartbroken, she leaves before Tara even knows she's there.
  • Xander returning after ditching Anya at the altar. When he explains why, he sounds so broken.
    I know that I'm a better person with her in my life. But things got so complicated with the wedding, and with my family, and with her...demons, and... what if it all goes to hell, a-and forever? But then I left...and ever since...I've had this painful hole inside. And I'm the idiot that dug it out.
    • His line about getting chills to the bone at seeing a closed sign on the Magic Box door.
  • It's little, but the scene when Buffy has her first big head trip in the graveyard—not that itself but the moment after. Willow and Xander pull Buffy away from Spike to take her home and take care of her. Spike calls after them "Put some ice on her neck," followed by quietly saying "She likes that." If it wasn't clear before, Spike clearly liked being intimate with Buffy enough that he pays attention to what she likes, as opposed to Buffy, who's mostly in it for rough escapism. That and it implies she probably trusted him enough to let him put his cold, undead hands on her neck.
  • Buffy, while hallucinating, says that she doesn't have a sister in her other world. Dawn is naturally crushed at this.
  • The climax:
    Buffy: Goodbye.
  • The last scene. Buffy going into permanent catatonia while her parents helplessly watch.

6x18 — "Entropy"

  • Anya's lament. For someone known for her Brutal Honesty, this is her most honest moment.
    Anya: This whole time I've been coming on all hellbent and mad. Wanting [Xander's] head, you know. When really I can't sleep at night thinking that it's my fault somehow. What if he was just pretending? What if he never wanted me the way I wanted him?
  • When Anya explains why she slept with Spike, both Spike and Buffy exchange pained looks, as it hits very close to home for both of them.
    Anya: I felt bad and he was just... there.
  • Tara's speech to Willow at the end, right before they reconcile:
    Tara: Things fall apart. They fall so hard. You can't ever put them back the way they were. I'm sorry, it's just... You know it takes time. You can't just have coffee and expect... There's so much to work through. Trust has to build again, on both sides. You have to learn if you're even the same people you were, if you can fit in each other's lives, it's a long and important process and can we just skip it? Can you just be kissing me now?
  • The mere fact that Spike had come to the magic shop for a numbing spell to use on himself because he's just that miserable.

6x19 — "Seeing Red"

6x20 — "Villains"

  • In the preceding episode, Tara's actual death is too sudden for it to really sink in. However, in this episode, as Willow is crying and holding Tara's corpse, asking the Egyptian god of death "How is this natural?"... Yeah.
    • Compare this with previous main character deaths in the Buffyverse - Jenny was murdered in cold blood; Doyle sacrified himself to save others; Darla staked herself so her child could live; Joyce died of a natural cause; Tara died because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Xander's line describing the situation:
    Xander: I've had blood on my hands all day. Blood from people I love.
  • Dawn finding Tara's body. And Buffy finding her sitting against the wall across from Tara.
    Dawn: [voice cracking] I didn't want to leave her alone.

6x21 — "Two To Go"

  • During Xander and Anya's argument, it's clear that Xander blames himself for Buffy and Tara getting shot.
    I saw the gun. Before Warren raised it, I...I saw it, and I couldn't move. He shot two of my friends...before I could even...You want me to know how useless I am? That it's my fault? Thanks. Already got the memo.

6x22 — "Grave"

  • The utter brokenness of Dark Willow. She's not some megalomaniac with delusions of godhood, and even when she ends up wanting to end the world, it's not because she just wants it all to burn. She does it because the pain hurts so much, she sees it as a Mercy Kill. But more to the point, it's because, without Tara, her world has already ended, and continuing to live at all is a cruelty. This isn't something that's infected Willow; this is all the negativity that Willow has hidden inside for so long because, without Tara to light up her life, all she has left is the darkness she's carried.
    Dark Willow: The only thing Willow was ever good for...the only thing I had going for me...were the moments—just moments—when Tara would look at me and I was wonderful. And that will never happen again.
  • Xander's speech to Willow:
    Xander: The first day of kindergarten, you cried because you broke the yellow crayon and you were too afraid to tell anyone. You've come pretty far; ending the world—not a terrific notion, but the thing is, yeah, I love you. I loved crayon-breaky Willow, and I love scary, veiny Willow. So if I'm going out, it's here. You wanna kill the world, well then start with me. I've earned that.
  • Seeing Willow's wrathful facade crumble as her powers drain out and she's reduced to ineffectually punching Xander, then breaking down in tears as her grief overwhelms her is tear-inducing. During those two episodes, Dark Willow is such a powerful presence that it's hard to reconcile it with her normal, sweet, vulnerable self, so when her hair begins to change back to its normal color, you will break down.
    • Xander repeating "I love you" to Willow, his voice breaking on the final "I love you, Willow", and Willow gradually breaking down as a result until she collapses in tears.
  • It's a bit less than everything else that was going on, but Giles "dying", and Anya acting so worried and sad, despite Anya having reverted to being a Vengeance Demon. Tears from a Stone, writ small.
    • Anya to Buffy and Dawn (about Giles): "I should get back to him...I don't think he has a lot of time..."
  • Buffy regaining her will to live.
    Buffy: [to Dawn] I don't want to protect you from the world; I want to show it to you!

    Season 7 

7x01 — " Lessons"

  • When Buffy sees Spike in the basement, she notices the cuts on his chest and asks him what happened. He dreamily notes that he'd tried to "cut it out" but offers no further explanation, leaving Buffy baffled. However, since the audience knows he's regained his soul, it's fairly obvious what he actually meant: he's so out of his mind and in so much pain that he'd attempted to cut his soul back out of his chest.

7x02 — "Beneath You"

  • Spike’s reintroduction scene at Buffy’s house when he offers to help, makes no excuses, expects no forgiveness and tries to pretend he’s not changed at all since before he left. The implication being that he knows Buffy knowing about his soul would cause her view him differently, and attempts in his few hours of lucidity to maintain that he is a soulless monster in her eyes, only for the illusion to quickly fall apart once Anya almost blurts it out and his sanity slips. It’s a rather sad case of dramatic irony, as his soulless self had hoped getting a soul might earn him forgiveness and allow him to be what Buffy needs —- only to get that soul and seemingly come to the conclusion that he deserves absolutely no forgiveness from anyone, let alone her.
  • The final scene. Spike's insanity, guilt, and self-loathing are absolutely heart-breaking, and James Marsters acts his bloody heart out.
    Spike: [to Buffy] Why does a man do what he mustn't? For her, to be hers. To be the kind of man who would never... To be a kind of man. And she will look upon him with forgiveness, and everybody will forgive, and love...and he will be loved. So everything's okay, right? Can we rest now? Buffy? [...] Can we rest?

7x03 — "Same Time, Same Place"

  • Willow realizing that she wasn't left all alone, and that Xander and Buffy came to rescue her. Props to Alyson Hannigan for having a Heartwarming Moment while mumbling through paralysis.

7x04 — "Help"

  • Willow visiting Tara's grave for the first time, gently caresses the headstone, and leaves remembrance stones on top of it as per Jewish tradition.
    Willow:'s me.
    • Bonus points for the realization that Willow wasn't able to go to Tara's funeral. The love of her life died right in front of her, and it was months before she was allowed to properly say goodbye.
  • Blame Azura Skye for being so sweet and vulnerable. The end is heart-wrenching, along with:
    Cassie: You think I want this? You think I don't care? Believe me, I want to be here! Do things! I want to graduate from high school and I want to go to the stupid Winter Formal. I have this friend and it'd be fun to go with him, to dance and hear lame music, to wear a silly dress and laugh and stuff. I'd like to go. There's a lot of stuff I'd like to do. I'd love to ice skate at Rockefeller Center, and I'd love to see my cousins grow up and see how they turn out, because they're really mean and I think they're going to be fat. I'd love to backpack across the country or...I don't know...fall in love? But I won't. I just never will.

7x05 — "Selfless"

  • Hell, the very start of the episode shows Anya sitting in the dark, surrounded by the murdered college boys, covered in blood, and horrified at what she's just done.
  • The flashback to Anya turning Olaf into a troll is initially Played for Laughs, but then when D'Hoffryn shows up, we see that she's just a young woman who had her heart broken and doesn't know what to do with herself. When D'Hoffryn compliments her on the spell, she replies with a quiet "thank you," showing that the revenge brought her very little satisfaction.
  • Buffy's "I killed Angel" speech.
  • When Buffy fights Anya, they show "Anya's Lost Song" ("I'll Be His Mrs.") and it cuts off at the end while she's singing and instead shows her lifeless body impaled by Buffy's sword. Luckily, she gets better.
    • While Anya does survive, this sequence seems designed to make the viewer gasp and think this really is the end for her. In particular, the Smash Cut to a happy scene and then back to Anya's seemingly lifeless body is reminiscent of the Christmas dinner scene in Season 5's "The Body."
    • All the more tearjerking because her song ("Mrs.") is about becoming Xander's wife, and because it's a flashback, we already know that he left her at the altar, prompting her to turn back into a Vengeance Demon.
      Anya: Just stand aside! Here comes the bride! [walks onto the balcony and is suddenly wearing her wedding dress] I'll be Mrs.! I will be his Mrs.!
  • Anya offering her own life and soul to reverse the wish and bring back the boys. It's possible it's not just because it's the right thing, but there's a chance Anya is so broken and disgusted with herself that she wants to commit Suicide by Cop as punishment for her crime.
    • Then the sacrifice turns out to be not Anya herself, but Halfrek! D'Hoffryn kills Anya's best friend specifically to hurt her, and so that she has to live with her guilt.
      • Fridge Horror: If Halfrek and Cecily were the same person, Spike lost one of his former lovers without realizing it.
  • Anya telling Xander to stop trying to save her and wondering if there's a her left to save.
  • The ending (Anya asking "What if I'm really no one?") with Xander and Anya walking away from each other in tears. God. Anya of "The Bunny Song" should not create an episode this goddamn heartbreaking.

7x06 — "Him"

  • During their argument at the Bronze, Dawn tells Buffy that she's not her mother, to which Buffy responds that she's glad that Joyce isn't here to see her in this manner. There's a Beat where Buffy realises that she just crossed a major line and instantly regrets it. The next scene has Dawn storming off. Remember how close Dawn was to her mother and how badly she took her death.

7x07 — "Conversations With Dead People"

  • "...It's cuz I'm gonna win..." never fails to elicit tears. The sadness in Buffy's voice, knowing that, once again, the socializing and having a life will inevitably have to once again take a backseat to the Slay-age.
  • The First, posing as Cassie, tells Willow: "She (Tara) says, even though you can't hear her, she still sings to you."
    • The fact that it is clear that Willow is fully believing the First's story about Cassie relaying Tara's messages. Willow fully believes and accepts that she can't see or hear Tara because she is still being punished.
    • Tara was supposed to be in the scene, but depending on who you ask, Amber Benson was either unwilling or unavailable to return. Here's how it was supposed to go.
  • Dawn seeing her mother again, although a Deleted Scene makes it clear that it's the First.
    • For that matter, the utter wringer that she goes through in trying to make contact with "Joyce," physically and emotionally - by the end of the night, the house is in pieces and she's a scratched and bloodied mess. And, because it was the First, it ends up being All for Nothing - she was trying to rescue her mother from something that was preventing contact, but the truth is, the only thing there WAS the something.
  • Jonathan's speech right before being killed:
    Jonathan: I really miss it. Time goes by, and everything drops away. All the cruelty, all the pain, all that humiliation. It all washes away. I miss my friends. I miss my enemies. I miss the people I talked to every day. I miss the people who never knew I existed. I miss 'em all. I want to talk to them, you know. I want to find out how they're doing. I want to know what's going on in their lives.
    Andrew: You know what? They don't wanna talk to you. All those people you just mentioned, not one of them is sitting around going, "I wonder what Jonathan's up to right now." Not one of them cares about you.
    Jonathan: Well, I still care about them. That's why I'm here.
    • Jonathan's Story Arc in general. Everything Jonathan does until the end of Season 6 is because he's so desperately lonely that he's willing to put up with torment from his peers, leap blindly at the hope that a woman might like him, and he's genuinely touched when Buffy stops him from killing himself in "Earshot." He's thankful to her for the remainder of the series, giving her the Class Protector award, wanting desperately for her to think he's a good person to the point where he re-writes reality to do so, and gives THAT up when he realizes the cost, though he knows it ostracizes him further. He joins the Trio out of a sense of companionship more than boredom or a desire for power or money. When he realizes that Warren's not just a goofball friend, but a seriously twisted bastard, Jonathan pushes for the Trio to turn themselves in to the police and spends the rest of his time trying to save Andrew from following Warren. He does his best to aid Buffy surreptitiously while doing so, and only abandons his plan of going back to prison to pay for his crimes out of raw fear of Dark Willow. His reward for trying to stand up and do the right thing, even at considerable risk to himself? His best friend murders him.
      • And Principal Wood is the only one decent enough to bury him.
      • And even he only did so under the thrall of The First and Jonathan still got a rather undignified resting place, out in a shallow grave in a construction site.

7x08 — "Sleeper"

  • Spike's final breakdown.
    Spike: [holding out his heart for the staking] Just do it quick, okay? [pause] He said you'd do it!
    Buffy: Who said?
    Spike: Me. It was me. I saw it. I was here the whole time, talking and singing. [sobs] There was a song.
    Buffy: What are you talking about?
    Spike: I don't know. Please, I don't remember. Don't make me remember. [to invisible person] Make it so I forget again! I did what you wanted!
    Buffy: There's something here. [throws away the stake]
    Spike: Oh, God, no, please. I need that. I can't cry this soul out of me. It won't come. I killed, and I can feel 'em. I can feel every one of them.
    Buffy: There's something playing with us. All of us.
    Spike: What is it? Why is it doing this to me?
    Buffy: I don't know.
    Spike: Will you... Help me. Can you help me?
    • Especially the way he can't meet her eyes. Like he knows he's lost that connection and doesn't deserve to be on a level with her anymore.

7x09 — "Never Leave Me"

  • Spike keeps telling Buffy to kill him.

7x10 — "Bring on the Night"

  • Willow's breakdown after feeling the First inside of her. This is even sadder when you remember that she's hurt her friends before when she was out of control, and the First tried to convince her that she'd do it again.
  • The death of Annabelle is still pretty sad, considering she appeared to be the most sensible of the Potentials. But Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs, she panics and runs into the Turok-Han.
  • A moment from Kennedy where we're reminded of what she's been through - she had a Watcher and had to watch the Bringers tear him apart.

7x11 — "Showtime"

  • The end when Buffy rescues Spike and he touches her shoulder to make sure she's real. She is, and he just can't believe that she'd come for him.

7x13 — "The Killer In Me"

  • The climax, when Willow-in-Warren's-body breaks down over Tara's death:
    Willow: [to Kennedy] It was your fault, slut! You tricked me! It was just for a second, but I kissed you... I let her go. She was here all the time. And I let her be dead. [now directing her comments at Tara] I'm sorry! Please, baby, I'm sorry, come back! Please, baby, come back!
    • Despite later developments in the canon follow-up comics, the climax of that scene can be seen as Warren and Willow begging for forgiveness (Warren for accidentally killing the girl he loved after she left him again, which was his crossing of the Moral Event Horizon before he got serious about being a villain). Note how Kennedy takes on her appearance during the kiss to break the spell? It sure doesn't redeem him, but it's a touching display of human grief and vulnerability even coming from the guy who puts the "monster" in Humans Are the Real Monsters.
      • It's even more insane when you realize that Adam Busch (Warren) was dating Amber Benson (Tara) at the time. Apparently, Joss told him what how "Seeing Red" was going to end by saying "You're gonna kill your girlfriend" to which Busch replied "Warren gets a girlfriend?"
    • The fact that the one responsible for Willow's predicament is Amy Madison. Once a friend, actually seeming at least adjacent to the Scooby Gang. But those three years trapped as a rat and then subsequently being cut out of Willow's life, her only remaining friend, while she tried to get clean... As bad as her actions were, you can follow a fairly straight line to understand why she's so bitter, and why that resentment is turned on Willow.

7x14 — "First Date"

7x15 — "Get It Done"

  • Poor Chloe is Driven to Suicide thanks to the First's manipulations. It's bound to be even sadder for those who knew Lalaine as Miranda on Lizzie McGuire. The First even taunts the others with "TTFN", which is a Winnie the Pooh reference - and Amanda sadly says "Chloe loved Winnie the Pooh".
  • We have to see Buffy bury Chloe's body in the garden. She buries her next to Annabelle, the first Potential under her care to die.

7x16 — "Storyteller"

  • The Mood Whiplash later in the episode only makes it worse:
    Buffy: When your blood pours, it might save the whole world? What do you think about that? Does that buy it all back? Are you redeemed?
    Andrew: [sobbing] No. Because...I killed him. Because I pretended I thought it was Warren, but I knew that it wasn't. And now you're gonna kill me, and I'm gonna die, and I'm scared, and...this is how Jonathan felt.
    • Followed by Andrew, who's been Breaking the Fourth Wall as a Running Gag throughout the entire episode to distance himself from everything, sitting down alone with the video camera.
      Andrew: Here's the thing. I killed my best friend. There's a big fight coming, and I don't know what's going to happen. I don't even think I'm going to live through it. That's, uh... [Beat] Probably the way it should be. I guess I'm... [Beat, then turns the camera off]

7x17 — "Lies My Parents Told Me"

  • "Early One Morning." Sure, it contributes heavily to Spike's already terrible Badass Decay, but the realization of why the trigger works is tear-inducing. It's frequently assumed to be magic, but it's not. It's the First using Spike's soul against him. The titular song is the one Spike's mother sang to him as William, and when William became a vampire, his first thought was that he could save his mother from her gradually worsening tuberculosis. Instead, she became a monster. The song reminded him that his love for his mother damned her, and the knowledge of it is what drove him to become merciless killer Spike instead of Momma's Boy William. The song provoked that memory violently every time he heard it.
  • Spike pointing out the fact that it wasn't really him Robin resented, but rather the fact that his mother never prioritized him over slaying. Spike storms out after beating Robin into submission, and Robin just sits on the floor, broken and bruised, but apparently having come to terms with what Spike had forced him to confront. Like Spike, this realization seems to have broken the hold The First had on Robin.

7x18 — "Dirty Girls"

  • The death of Molly, one of the three original Potentials brought to Buffy's house. She's killed in cold blood by Caleb, terrified and crying.

7x19 — "Empty Places"

  • The scene where Willow and Xander try to act normal and make jokes about Xander losing his eye, only for Willow to start crying and Xander to just look away and say flatly "Willow. Please don't." You can tell he's this close to falling apart.
  • Buffy visits the deserted school and looks at a photo of her, Willow and Xander from season one. Already emotional, she's about to cry before Caleb shows up.
  • The end where everyone gangs up on Buffy and decide to kick her out of her own home. Made all the worse by the fact that none of them even bother to apologize to her, even after Buffy's proven right, comes back, and saves the day after Faith and the Potentials' plan quite literally blows up in their faces.

7x21 — "End Of Days"

  • It's part Heartwarming too, but Spike's speech where he admits that spending the night holding Buffy had been the greatest night of his life has an underlying sadness to it, and the implication of it is really genuinely heartbreaking. He's carrying memories of nearly 150 years, 3 relationships, and just now realizes what it feels like to be close to someone on an emotional level from something as simple as being able to spend the night holding Buffy. It speaks volumes about how largely devoid of actual affection his relationships have always been. The fact that it's coming from a man so highly defined by his romantic ideals and emotional attachments and who believes the feeling is wholly unrequited only makes it sadder.
    Buffy: Let's just get to the truth here, OK? I don't know how you felt about last night, but I will not—-
    Spike: Terrified.
    Buffy: [softly] Of what?
    Spike: [lets out a slow sigh] Last night was... [looks away] God, I'm such a jerk. I can't do this.
    Buffy: Spike...
    Spike: It was the best night of my life. [angrily] If you poke fun at me, you bloody well better use that, 'cause I couldn't bear it. It may not mean that much to you, but—-
    Buffy: I just told you it did.
    Spike: Yeah, I hear you say it. But I've lived for sodding ever, Buffy. I've done everything. I've done things with you I can't spell, but, I've never... been close... to anyone, least of all you, until last night. All I did was hold you, watch you sleep, and it was the best night of my life. So yeah, I'm... [inhales nervously] terrified.

7x22 — "Chosen"

  • Call it cheesy, but the "Every girl a slayer" speech.
    Buffy: From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power, can stand up, will stand up. Slayers...every one of us.
  • All the empowerment, all the Potentials gaining so much power.
  • The presumed death of Amanda. Despite being among the most competent of the Potentials, we see her fall to the ground during battle.
  • Andrew telling Xander about Anya's death.
    Andrew: She was incredible. She died saving my life.
    Xander: That's my girl. Always doing the stupid thing.
    • Made all the sadder by the fact that Andrew is lying.
    • And then there's also Xander calling for Anya as they evacuate the school, not seeing her dead body lying about six feet away from him.
  • Spike's Heroic Sacrifice.
    Buffy: I love you.
    Spike: No, you don't. But thanks for saying it.
    • "I want to see how it ends."
    • Spike, obviously in agony, forcing himself to laugh as he bursts into flames and is reduced to ash.

    Season 8 
  • The death of Renee in the Wolves at the Gate arc, especially the beginning of the fourth issue, where we get her POV as she dies and listen to all her regrets as she watches Xander try to get to her before she dies.
  • Buffy finding out Giles trusts Faith and sent her on a mission without telling Buffy, and when she confronts him about it over the phone, he tells her that he doesn't want her to be any part of it. Buffy is floored by the fact Giles won't tell her something and went to Faith instead of her, and numbly hands the phone to Willow as the split between her and Giles grows even wider. For a while after this, they aren't on speaking terms.
    • Buffy's response when Xander says that he thinks she needs some alone time:
      Buffy: What other kind is there?
  • In the penultimate issue, we get a Twilight-possessed Angel killing Giles the same way Angelus had killed Jenny Calendar in Season 2. Naturally, this leads to Buffy completely losing it and destroying the Seed of Wonder, removing all the invading demons from the world, along with all magic, which leads to another Tear Jerker when Willow crashes to the ground and begins crying and screaming at Kennedy that they lost and it was the end.
    Angel: Did we win?

    Season 9 / Angel & Faith 
  • The whole Daddy Issues arc. Especially when Faith finds out what her dad really came for and is horrified by what she did to protect Angel.
    • Also the end:
      Angel: Drusilla...I'm so sorry...
      Drusilla: No, Angel, please! ... Don't do this to me, Angel. Not again.
  • Quite a few in the Family Reunion arc:
    • After Angel gives her a What the Hell, Hero? for wanting to involve Connor in her quest, Willow snaps and gives him an Armor-Piercing Slap before declaring that everything that has happened is his fault because he always jumps at the chance to be redeemed and never worries about the consequences of his actions until it's too late, screaming that he's ruined everything. Immediately afterwards, Willow has an emotional meltdown, insisting that the Earth is dying without magic and she's the only one who cares before collapsing in tears.
      Willow: Can't you see what were missing? How empty the world is? There hasn't been a decent song, movie, or book since we lost the Seed! Suicide rates are spiking! All over the world, people are losing hope! It's just starting! It only gets worse from here! The world's dying and nobody will admit it! I need to save it. There's nothing more important. Why doesn't anyone understand...?
    • Later, while in Quor'toth, Willow freaks out when she realizes the realm's influence is turning her dark again, and she understandably panics. Angel does his best to comfort her and calm her down, but she's still worried.
      Willow: Angel, I can't! Please, I can't fight! Not now...
      Angel: It's going to be okay.
      Willow: No! You don't know me like this! It's never okay!
      Angel: Willow, it will be. I promise you. I need you to trust me. I know that's hard after Twilight, after everything, but please, Willow. Can you trust me?
      Willow: I... I... yes. But I don't trust me.
  • Near the end of the season, Buffy is finally forced to contend with the consequences of destroying the Seed of Wonder when it turns out that the Cosmic Retcon that brought Dawn into existence back in Season 5 is being undone, and Dawn is slowly fading away. The real Tear Jerker comes into play when Xander, one of her closest friends, whirls on her and starts blaming her for the whole thing, since she destroyed the Seed and caused the end of magic to begin with. He ends up so disillusioned with Buffy that he sells her out to Simone Doffler of all people, because she claimed she also wanted to reverse Twilight and restore magic.
    • When Buffy and Willow plan to storm the Deeper Well to find a way to save Dawn, Xander, not willing to send them to their deaths, spills his alliance to Severin and Simone, insisting they've already saved Dawn by doing so. Both girls are infuriated and hurt that Xander had so little faith in them, and the situation is made even worse when it's revealed that if they do try to revert Twilight, it will result in a Time Crash.
      Xander: I did it to save your sister!
      Buffy: You did it because you didn't believe in me. In any of us.
      Willow: We could've gotten the magic.
      Buffy: But it turns out you're the one we shouldn't have believed in.

    Season 10 / Angel & Faith vol. 2 
  • Xander and Dawn trying to make things work even though her emotions are reset and she doesn't love him anymore. It's just so painful that it's honestly a relief when Xander realizes they have to break up.
    • We get an echo of Spike and Buffy from "Chosen". Dawn tries to snap Xander out of Dracula's thrall by saying she loves him...
      Xander: No, you don't.
    • Worse, the emotional reset means Dawn has to go through Joyce's death again.
  • Willow's love life. She realizes she can't really trust Aluwyn since Aluwyn is a trickster deity and breaks up with her. She then starts dating Lake, but when she decides to stop working with the government, that relationship ends too.
    • Made even worse by the fact that she discusses Tara with Andrew, admitting that she's considered finding a way to bring Tara back to her, but knows she can't because it would destroy Tara to be ripped out of heaven.
  • Spike and Buffy have a candid conversation about their relationship in season 6, and Spike apologizes for everything. Buffy states that she couldn't hold it against him any more than she can Angel for Angelus' actions. She goes on to reflect on those times, about how she had been punishing herself, and Spike's reaction is genuinely heartbreaking; he physically flinches and looks to the ground. It's clear hearing the woman he got a soul for telling him to his face that he was a punishment still stings severely, even if he already knew it and doesn't disagree at all.
    • Later, Spike asks Buffy to kill him if the soul-eating demon they're fighting manages to devour his soul, as he'd rather be dead than go back to being him. Horrified by the suggestion, Buffy refuses and protests that he wasn't so bad—that he protected the Scoobies, looked out for Dawn, and loved her. Spike's speech in reply is extremely sad:
      Spike: I thought I did. Would've sworn it up and down, but it was a selfish bastardization of love. The kind that wouldn't take no for an answer. That couldn't accept not havin' you, even if it was best for you. It was nothin' like what I
      ...It wasn't real love.
  • Spike's arc shows us that, even if he's functioning better than he did in Season 7, his insecurities are still a huge problem for him to the point where he's so sure he's not good enough that he tries to break up with Buffy who, thankfully, snaps him out of it. When Archaeus sends him false dreams to make him think he's killing again, Spike thinks he's going mad again. He's also terrified of letting Buffy in his head since he's scared his past will run her off.
    • He even almost refused to start the relationship in the first place due to those insecurities; upon Buffy making a move on him, his gut instinct is to assume she's simply reaching for what she can't have rather than that she may genuinely have fallen for him—and that's despite them having a pretty healthy and well-adjusted friendship of a couple years at that point.
      • And once they actually do hook up, he's scared of falling asleep out of an irrational fear that Buffy might be gone in the morning.
    • The fact that Harmony of all people managed to bring the majority of those insecurities to the fore only makes it more painful.
  • A small one, but the morning after Buffy and Spike sleep together, Buffy jokingly asks him if he's evil now... which turns awkward fast for obvious reasons. However, the fact that she still presses him to answer implies that there was a small part of her that was genuinely irrationally scared that her ensouled vampire love might turn on her again following the first time they're intimate, and really just needed a bit of direct assurance otherwise.
  • After Willow and Giles go through just about every ritual they can think of to figure out if Spike killed anyone while under some sort of magical influence and coming up empty-handed, Willow admits there's only one they haven't tried yet but refuses to do it on the basis that they'd end up killing him if they did. Spike tells her to do it anyways, as he's become convinced there's a part of him that may actually want to kill, and he doesn't want to live with himself anymore if that's the case. Fortunately, they find a non-fatal alternative to clear his name.
  • When they realize they have to leave Dawn behind in a hell dimension to close a portal and prevent an apocalypse, Buffy outright breaks down and Spike is unable to comfort her right away since he's still too upset Dawn was left behind.
  • Andrew seeing what the others say behind his back. While he's clearly upset that the Scoobies don't trust him, he accepts it...but seeing Brian and Clive criticizing him pushes him so far he nearly leaves the city.
    • Brian implying there's something wrong with Andrew because it took him so long to realize he was gay, a fear Andrew had expressed earlier in the season.
  • Spike's general patience for Buffy pretty constantly lashing out at him and the others after they have to leave Dawn and Xander behind. He does his best to gently remind her that infighting does nothing but give the baddies a bigger lead, and generally keeps his head better than even Willow or Giles. However, when she implies that maybe she would have been better off with Angel there instead—playing off his deepest insecurity about being Always Second Best—he walks away.

    Season 11 
  • Buffy and Willow being forcibly depowered by the Supernatural Crisis Act. The part where Buffy proves to be Brought Down to Badass by beating up a Jerkass MMA fighter goes from an awesome moment to this territory when, afterwards, a beaten and bruised Buffy retreats behind a tree and cries her eyes out.
  • Throughout the first few issues of the season, Willow had been having serious UST with one of the witches in her coven, Calliope. However, since Calliope still had a girlfriend outside the Safe Zone, Willow told her she wouldn't humour this relationship while they're still together. Calliope promises she would break things off with her girlfriend and that she and Willow would try things out once they got out. However, once out, Willow finds that Calliope has returned to her girlfriend and picked up right where they'd left off—confirming what Willow had feared all along; Calliope's interest in her was a result of her clinging to Willow's protection rather than any deep feelings for her.
  • Buffy, Spike, Faith and Willow run into a cyborg in one of the government facilities they're investigating and dismantle his electronic parts enough to release his mind from the programming. Upon gaining his mind back, the cyborg begs them to kill him, as he knows the government will simply repair him once he's found and he'll lose his free will again. Spike obliges, hoping to spare Buffy and the others from having to do it.
  • Bit of a fridge tearjerker; before parting ways in the Safe Zone so Buffy and Willow can get depowered, Buffy tries to give Spike a Love Confession. He shushes her and asks that she wait until they’re together again to say it. It doesn’t seem sad until you consider that the only other direct Love Confession he’d gotten from her was back in “Chosen”, where whether he was right or not, he truly believed it was something she only said to Let Them Die Happy. While the situation is significantly less dire this time around, it’s likely he hoped to get a Love Confession when things weren’t so stressful and scary, so he would know for sure that she meant it.

    Season 12 
  • The Reckoning, the event that leads to the dystopian timeline shown in Fray, is this, especially what the Scoobies learn from the future Harmony in the 23rd century: Demons and vampires had united against the threat of Buffy and Willow's effort in empowering humans. A battle had taken place at Willow's empowerment center and something caused all Slayers to lose their powers, including their memories of being Slayers—except Buffy's, who continued to fight while the others ran away. Outnumbered, Buffy had Dawn open a portal to a hell dimension, so Willow threw all the demons through it. Buffy had to go with them to keep them from returning to Earth, but she never came back, bound to fight demons in the hell dimension for the rest of her brief life. Angel and Spike were never heard from again, with different sources claiming that they either went to hell with her or, out of guilt for failing her, committed Suicide by Sunlight. Willow stood guard for centuries, eventually becoming the Dark Willow Buffy killed during Season 8's Time of Your Life; here, it's revealed that Future!Willow in fact brought Buffy to the future to kill her in repentance for Willow leaving her in hell.
  • Illyria's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Despite everything he did, Harth gets an Alas, Poor Villain sendoff. After Buffy stakes him, he slowly dusts and apologizes to Melaka, his twin sister, before transferring the Slayer memories to her.

    Tales of the Slayers 
  • The end of "Righteous." After the unnamed Slayer in that story saves the town from St. Just, the people respond by declaring her a witch and having her burned at the stake as her Watcher is Forced to Watch. Driven past the Despair Event Horizon, the unnamed Watcher returns the favor by opening the town gates and letting the rest of St. Just's vampires in.
    The town made merry, gamboled, dined;
    They'd nothing now to fear;
    They burned the darkness from my mind
    The world at last was clear
    For God is good and God is kind
    But He's not welcome here.
  • "The Innocent": Claudine lives, but with the knowledge that her Watcher had tricked her into committing murder.