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Tear Jerker / Cold Case

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In most cop dramas we only get after-the-fact descriptions of the murder/crime and the events leading up to it. Cold Case shows these things via flashbacks. Every episode shows us a new group of people, most of them happy, just trying to live their lives. Then it shows the events that lead one of them to take the life of one of the others.

As a Moments subpage, all spoilers are unmarked as per policy. You Have Been Warned.


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     Season 1 
  • "Gleen" gives us a flashback towards the ending where the killer "makes up" with his wife, the victim, before he tricks her into setting off the bomb he planted for her. Although not sad in itself, the song "Total Eclipse" establishes how poignantly, the victim wholeheartedly trusted her husband and she never saw it coming that he would kill her. And most of all, it drives the point home how betrayed and heartbroken she must've felt in her final moments alive.
  • "Love Conquers Al" involves the 1981 murder of Paige Pratt, a high school track star. She became friends with a male track runner from another school. The male track runner is dating Jane, a cheerleader at his school. When the cheerleader won't have sex with him, he loses his virginity with Paige. Jane finds out and they decide that if he kills Paige then he will prove his love to Jane and "restore his virginity". Anyone used to seeing Summer Glau as an Action Girl will find her death hard to take.
  • The ending of "A Time to Hate" involves a college baseball player who was found beaten to death in an alley behind a gay bar in 1964. For one thing, it's set, as you may have guessed from the title, to The Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn." For another, it also heartwrenchingly ties up all the plot threads in the episode in just a few minutes; the dead man's friends build a memorial to him where the bar used to be. The perp not only cracks and confesses, but also gives up his two toadies who were accomplices to the crime (who are dragged into the station just as the song hits "A time to kill"). And finally, the victim's ghost appears to four people: Lilly, to whom he gives an approving nod, the then-rookie cop who was persuaded by a bigoted superior to look the other way on the murder (something that came to be his biggest regret; he ends up giving the cops the doer in the end), whom he flashes a forgiving smile to, his old boyfriend, now a judge, whom he embraces, and finally his mother, whom he tips his hat to before fading away.
  • "Fly Away", about a mother and child who apparently fall to their deaths out of a high window. It turns out that the mother was so desperate to prevent her child being taken away by a pedophile social worker that when she thought she heard him coming, she grabbed her daughter and jumped. The child died. The mother survived.
    • The ending montage shows a long line of Mr. Freely's poor young victims, each waiting solemnly to testify against him. Lily comes up to one of them, a little girl on the verge of tears. Although it's good these girls will finally get to say their piece, it's still a bitter blow to see Rush's stunned face, haunted by what she said earlier about girls like Toya being "dime-a-dozen" and "unloved".
    • Imagine what Phillip Williams must have felt when he finds out that he played a role in Toya's death. When he came to visit them to give them leftover pizza and opened their door Rosie thought he was the social worker coming to take Toya and jumped out of the window. His attempt to be nice got Toya killed and Rosie damaged even further.
  • The killer's breakdown in "Sherry Darlin". A con woman manipulated him into killing his grandmother for the insurance money. She kept squeezing money out of him until he finally sold his grandmother's house. She stole the last of the money and left him. Years later he goes on a rampage after he sees the house has become a tacky bar.
  • "Glued", An eight-year old boy named Tim Barnes is murdered by a racist convenience store owner after he shoplifted a glue bottle from his store. It turned out that Tim was ordered by a black teenager to steal the item in order to get high. When the owner discovers this, he ran after Tim and beat him unconscious before running off and leaving him to die in the snow. In his confession, he stated that he felt that Tim was betraying "honest white guys". All the same, that poor boy died a victim of something as petty as racism.
    • What really makes this case heartbreaking is that the murder affected other people's lives for a long time. Tim's overprotective mother held both sadness and guilt over her son's death because she prayed to God that same night for her burdens to be taken away. For years until the case was solved, she believed that her prayer caused her son to die. The mother of the wrongfully accused black teenager suffered heartbreak over lonesomeness and loss. And Stillman, who was the detective originally assigned to the case, missed the birth of his daughter due to trying to find the murderer.
  • The end montage of the "The Boy in the Box" where the titular boy and his mother (who was one of the nuns) are at a petting zoo.
  • "Volunteers", A young interracial hippie couple secretly working for an underground abortion agency go missing. They were killed by the leader of their hippie commune, who was also secretly a government informant. When they discover him spying on them, he forces the couple into their car where he shoots the guy in front of his girlfriend, who's terrified because she knows that she's next.
  • "Greed (a.k.a. Greed is Good)". It doesn't seem particularly sad at first: the victim was a Depraved Bisexual stockbroker who'd cheated and conned many people out of money, as well as sleeping with / hitting on every person he met. The sad part was the character of his boyfriend, who was also one of the young men that worked for him. His boyfriend was the only person who acted decently. It turned out that it was the boyfriend's mom that had killed the victim. The reason? He'd slept with both her and the boyfriend, and broken her son's heart by dumping him hours before he died. Twenty or so years later, the boyfriend is still in love with and mourning the victim. It's only when the case is reopened that he learns about what a jerk the victim was. The last scene is of him and his mom, now in handcuffs, hugging and crying.
    • It doesn't help that the boyfriend's younger self was played by Bones's TJ Thyne, a perfect Woobie actor or that the montage music played over the aforementioned final scene is Cyndi Lauper's "All Through the Night".
  • "Maternal Instincts". A woman is found lying dead next to her toddler son who is seen crying helplessly. Years later, when the boy is now a 17-year old, the case is reopened after he suffers from hallucinations relating to the 1989 incident. The detectives discover that the mother was not his real one. The victim had kidnapped the boy from his biological family as an infant. She later was murdered by a doctor whom she was once in love with but later broke up with him. The Bangles song, "Eternal Flame" playing at the end plus the teenager's reunion with his real family makes it heartwarming after such a tragic episode.
    • The image of the little boy sobbing and reaching up for somebody to pick him up while he sits in his supposed mother's blood.
    • The Killer was just so cold-blooded and selfish as to come only to either have the victim to himself or kill her. He could've returned the boy to his rightful family, but he doesn't even bother to pick him up and comfort him. He just unceremoniously tells the kid he's got a train to catch and leaves him in such a sad state.
    • Also in the ending montage, the victim's ghost watching on as her "son" reunites with his real family. It's sad for her because she essentially kidnapped that boy to have a child to call her own, only to be murdered. What's more, perhaps she's realizing how her selfish actions have deprived that boy of a loving family his whole life.
  • "The Plan". When the killer confesses to murdering the Asshole Victim, who was a pedophile. Not just because the guy had abused him, not because he kept his mouth shut and therefore felt responsible for the fact that he went on to abuse more kids, but because he himself was beginning to look at little boys in an improper manner and knew it was only a matter of time before he acted on his impulses. He turned himself in order not to ruin children's lives the way his life had been.
  • The Season 1 finale, "Lovers' Lane". An adorable and likable victim (Mae Whitman) who you really don't want to see die plus a particularly repulsive doer plus a very sympathetic key witness who hasn't stopped loving the victim in almost twenty years plus Stevie Nicks' "Leather and Lace" plus the implication at the end that the victim is perfectly happy on the other side equals many tears of both sadness and happiness.
    • The fact that the killer's son has been abused by his father for so long, even well into his adult years, he has the mindset to say "My dad's gonna kill me." (Meaning it literally.)

     Season 2 
  • "Daniela", It's one of the only cases that turned out to be something other than murder (suicide, in this case). The title character, who was a male-to-female transgender woman, just wanted was to be loved for who she was, not to be hated for what she was. When her boyfriend's father finds out about the two of them, he tears them apart and forces them to never see each other again. Her boyfriend returns for her that night, but arrives only seconds after she shoots herself in the head.
    • The ending montage, with David Gates' song "Goodbye Girl" playing in the background is all sorts of beautiful: Daniela and her boyfriend's past self finally get to have their prom dance after 25 years, and Rush crosses out Jane Doe on the case box and relabels it with Daniela's name.
  • "Who's Your Daddy" involves the murder of an illegal immigrant couple from Cambodia at the hands of their boss who shot them to death because the woman refused to submit to him sexually. Seeing their daughter's look of both fear and sadness on her face makes it heart-shattering.
    • For a brief moment the daughter wondered if she might have gotten her parents killed as the girl was showing off a bracelet and talking about the stories of royalty her mother was talking about, which she didn't know at the time were actually real and she is related to the royal family and she simply thought they were made-up stories. The poor girl must had thought it was her parent's murder was all her fault and some random person believed in her "lies" and robbed her house to get the supposed riches they have and killed her parents in the process.
  • "Sleepover". Three popular girls invite their classmate Rita to a sleepover, just so they can humiliate her. At one point, two of the popular girls tease their other friend and tell her that she'd be better off hanging out with Rita, who they considered a loser. Rita and the other girl then leave and walk home through the forest. Rita tries to comfort the other girl by asking if they can be friends, but she gets upset and pushes Rita into the river, killing her.
    • What makes it worse is the actress playing the murderer's younger self: Daveigh Chase. That's right folks: Lilo's the killer.
    • Right before she confesses, she tearfully admits to her motive: "I didn't know that you live through it". Every viewer who had ever been bullied probably cringed in empathy—all she knew at 13 years old was that her life was over because the "cool girls" didn't want to be friends with her anymore and all she could think of was to punish the one she felt was responsible. If she'd only toughed it out, she would have seen things get better instead of committing an irrevocable act.
    • Equally sad is that despite being an accomplished physician, she's essentially still being bullied in the present, being blackmailed into supplying the Alpha Bitch with drugs, lest the woman tell the cops that she's the killer.
    • The Alpha Bitch herself was being violently abused by her father. It was obviously wrong of her to take it out on Rita, who was only trying to help, but there are moments where she's clearly just a terrified little girl trapped in a nightmare situation and lashing out because she's humiliated and scared.
  • The third and final member has fallen off the wagon completely and is completely unrecognizable in the present. While at first she remains as apathetic and mean as she was 14 years ago, during her interview she admits she still feels guilt over the events of that night, namely abandoning Rita to what she presumes to be her death. Her descent into alcoholism begins that same night, leading her into her current state, which is rather sad considering the situation that lead to it.

  • In "It's Raining Men", as one half of a gay couple realizes that he has AIDS, his partner simply hugs him, wordlessly offering his love and support. The brutal irony is that within months, his partner dead, murdered, and 20-something years later, the long-term AIDS survivor is able to walk into a police station and ask that the case be re-opened. Very fittingly, it's he who sees his late partner's apparition once the case is closed. Equally touching, it's at his wedding, and the apparition is dressed in a tuxedo, appropriate for the occasion as if he's telling his partner that not only is he at peace because his murder has been solved, but because his partner has found happiness.
    • The partner is revealed to have received treatment paid by the victim's rich homophobic father to honour his son's memory. The old man states that he still sees homosexuality as unnatural, but burying a son is even more.
  • "Red Glare", a teacher and civil rights activist in the '50s is accused of being Communist unless he names others. He hangs on to his honor despite losing his job, the respect of his community, and the love of his family. He is murdered by his friend who was a Communist because he was afraid the woman they were both in love with would be ratted out.
  • In "Time To Crime" a 6-year-old girl is killed in a drive-by shooting in 1987. The killer is revealed to be the girl's then 12-year-old brother because he was trying to kill the guy their mother was cheating on their dad with and mistakenly killed his sister instead. During the Medley Exit, (which is set to Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror") the girl's ghost looks as if she is really sad and lonely on the other side. It also didn't help matters that TNT broadcast this episode the day Michael Jackson died.
  • "Wishing": about a mentally handicapped teenage boy. In the episode, he was accused of sexual assault and beaten, when the girl actually let him kiss her, but then her boyfriend walked in. His mother was dying of cancer, and his father didn't want him. In the end, he's told by someone who had been helping him and his mother to stand on train tracks and make a wish for his mother to get better, as a train fast approaches... It seemed to be more sympathetic than an actual murder. And it was just sad.
  • "Schadenfreude", the lives of a rich couple fall apart and the wife ends up getting a job to support them. She ends up resorting to drug manufacturing and insurance fraud to earn money. During all of this, her husband spirals into a deep depression, has an affair, and almost ends up killing himself as well. The two of them end up talking and finally manage to rekindle their love for one another. Just as things are finally looking up for the couple, the victim's friend and the man she had asked to rob her house for the insurance money break in. She tells them that the robbery is off but her friend doesn't listen. Her friend claims that she feels betrayed and shoots the victim with the gun her husband planned to kill himself with, and he ends up spending the next 23 years in jail for her death.
  • "Strange Fruit", a young black man in the 60's moves into an all-white neighbourhood with his parents. He ends up befriending the wife, daughter and black maid of a man who lived in there. When the daughter accidentally reveals that the boy had been spending time with them, the man and his brother take him out to the woods, beat him, and lynch him. During the murder scene, Dr. King's legendary "I Have A Dream" speech playing in the background, and during the ending montage, Jeffries sees the victim's ghost in the playground where his body was found.
  • "Kensington" is a heartwrenching tale of the breakdown of three blue-collar carpet factory co-workers' friendship after they are laid off from their jobs. When the Jerkass taunts the killer regarding money issues, the killer in a fit of rage accidentally stabs his other friend after that friend tries to stop their fight. Years later, when Lilly and Scotty confront the doer, he tearfully shows signs of guilt as he prepares to commit suicide with the same knife that killed his best friend. However, the detectives manage to stop him after Scotty makes an emotional plea to help him and his family after his arrest.
  • "Best Friends". It turns out that this too is one of the rare occasions where it wasn't murder. It was supposed to be a double suicide, with the young couple driving off a bridge into the water below - only one of them doesn't die. Why did they feel they had to commit suicide? It was the 1930s, and they were an interracial, lesbian couple being chased down by the white girl's insanely possessive older brother. The end is a more bittersweet moment, when the one girl's ghost reaches out to the other, with the impression that they are both dead now, but reunited.
  • George Marks's backstory as revealed in "The Woods". His mother kept him locked in the attic and blamed him for everything wrong with her life, calling him "the darkness"; he killed her when he was still a little boy after she told a burglar to rape him instead of her. No wonder he went crazy.
  • The final flashback of "The Badlands", where we learn that it was the drug addict brother of one of the victims who was the killer. Especially the kid's final words as he insists on trying to get help for the other two—"I'm your BROTHER! You're NOT going to shoot me!", only to be instantly proven wrong.
    • Even sadder, in the year since the incident, the guy had a Heel Realization / My God, What Have I Done? moment and has legitimately gotten his act together, but it's all for nothing—he's on his way to prison and likely death row.

     Season 3 
  • The end of "Family". A high school couple get pregnant. They initially decide to give the child up for adoption; specifically to a teacher and his wife who cannot have children of their own. After seeing his girlfriend with their baby daughter, he finally steps up and tells the teacher the deal's off in the most moving, heartwrenching way possible... and the teacher hits him with his car and leaves him to die. Not only that, but he never had a chance to tell the girlfriend how much he loved her and their daughter. What's even worse is that when he didn't come back, the girlfriend abandoned the baby in a closet. So the would-be adoptive father didn't even get what he killed for, the mother lived on thinking her boyfriend didn't love her, and their baby grew up without a family at all.
    • The broken, defeated look on Claire's face when Lily tells her the man she thought was her biological father was not her father at all. She bought this man's lies because deep down, despite her antisocial attitude, all she wants is a family.
  • "The Promise": An overweight college girl is invited to a frat party by her friend who is a pledge. It turns out it was a pig party with lots of other overweight girls. The victim gets crowned the pig while her friend looks on, guilty. He apologizes to the girl, only to have the frat boys show up, knock him out, and lock the girl upstairs. The friend tries to get her out, but the head Jerk Jock throws the key away and runs off like a dirty coward. It turns out it was one of the girls at the pig party who started the fire to get revenge. The friend stays with the girl, promising he'll get her out but knowing there's nothing he can do. After all this, what does the girl say to him? It's not his fault. She then dies of smoke inhalation. The ending, however, was rewarding, as the Jerk Jock is carted off in handcuffs, all the girls are there taking pictures of him with their cellphones the way the jocks did to them at the pig party.
  • The killer in "Start-Up" was pressured into murdering his best friend and lets the guilt flow out when confessing, quietly asking if the detectives think they have to tell him that his victim was a better person than he is.
  • "Bad Night". A girl is paralyzed in a car accident. Her friend who caused it is murdered months later by her husband who had been the fireman who "saved" her. The friend found that it was the fireman's carelessness that crippled her. The real kicker is that her old boyfriend who abandoned her after the accident did so because he was ashamed of not being able to save her. He is last seen working late, implying that he has not reconciled with her and probably never will.
    • Jeffries's Imagine Spot during the ending montage of that episode wherein he pushes his wife out of the way of the hit-and-run trucker that actually killed her.
    • Vicky, the accident victim, spends 27 years refusing to speak to her loving father because she thinks he killed Angus, when the bloody knife she found was just part of her brother's Halloween costume.
  • The stories of the killer and accomplice in "Committed," especially the killer. He was an incredibly handsome, black orderly at a mental hospital, friendly and beloved by all the (white) female patients. When the victim starts a secret art class, against the rules of the hospital, she and her friends got the orderly to model for them (nude), but they were caught by a nurse. After the incident one of the patients (a very talented artist who by modern standards shouldn't even be in there) was ordered to get a lobotomy. After much convincing, the victim persuaded the head nurse to let her get the lobotomy and not the artist since she really wanted to see her son again. It was supposed to be all cloak and dagger, but a snowstorm ruined their chances and the head doctor found out. To preserve the hospital's reputation, the head doctor blackmailed the orderly into killing the victim, threatening to turn him out into the street and charge him with attempted rape of the women in the art class, which, since this was the '50s, would have almost certainly resulted in a conviction if not a lynching. Once the crime was committed, the head had the nurse cover it up. When we flash back to the present, the orderly and nurse, now quite old, are led to lock up, aghast and on the verge of tears at what they had to do, and to make matters worse the real villain, the head doctor, had died years before and thus could not be punished.
  • "Saving Patrick Bubley". Over the course of six years, 4 Bubley brothers all have been shot to death and the mother turns to drugs to deal with the pain. Patrick is the only brother left and Lily is determined to save him. She finds out it was because some Latino gangbangers stole Patrick's scooter that he won in an essay contest when he was a little kid. He wrote the essay about W.E.B. DuBois so he and his brothers named the scooter WEB D; the oldest brother tried to confront them over it and ended up dead for his trouble. All of the other brothers were shot by the same gang members for various reasons but they all led back to that scooter. It's a tearjearker because it really shows how senseless violence is and it's bawl-worthy at the end when Patrick decides to go back to school and he sees his brothers at the fence watching him and cheering him on.
    • A subplot in this episode deals with The Reveal that Lilly's first partner, Det. Fulcrum, was a racist who dropped the oldest brother's case almost as soon as he got it, indirectly leading to the other three brothers being killed trying to avenge him. As she struggles with witnesses, including the remaining members of the Bubley family, being unwilling to testify due to hating the police or fearing the gang, Lilly actually begins to wonder if Fulcrum was right and that poor minority victims such as the Bubleys aren't worth her time. By the end, Lilly has found common ground with Patrick, and as she looks in a mirror she sees Fulcrum beside her, and fades away as if the fear that she's Not So Different from him is banished from her mind.
  • "Start-Up" has the victim, a one-time millionaire who created a medical website to look up disease symptoms to diagnose it and potentially save lives, create the site in the memory of her kid brother, who died of a seizure years earlier. The ending has her older sister watching her ghost rowboat on a lake and she come to the realization that both of her siblings are gone.
  • "Honor" has Carl Burton, a Vietnam veteran come back to his family after a couple of years of being a POW, while also dealing with both the physical and psychological trauma of that ordeal and the fallout of his years away. It's similar to the season four episode "The War at Home", but unlike the heroine there, things didn't seem like they would get better here. Aside from his aforementioned trauma, his wife and young son had since moved on with their lives and she started dating a man who pretended to be him. Additionally, all of his friends unjustly blamed him for the death of Rex Potter, his other friend and fellow soldier, who died in the same prison camp. To wit, as he was unable to stomach being a POW, Carl caved and did what the Viet Cong wanted of him and denounced himself and his fellow American soldiers as war criminals to be spared torture and be sent home early. This led to him being seen as a Dirty Coward among his fellow veterans, who were led to think that this denunciation was the reason for Rex being tortured and killed, as Rex refused to do the same. To add to Carl's troubles, Rex's son, Daniel, bought into the stories that Carl was culpable for Rex's death. Daniel would then constantly harass Carl for details concerning Rex's death, to which Carl would only tell him the bare minimum, as he was still trying to process the trauma of being imprisoned and being blamed by others for said death. Ultimately, during a final confrontation where Daniel pointed a gun at Carl and demanded the truth, the latter divulged that Rex loved Daniel deeply and stated that he was the brave one who would not give in when Carl himself did. Emotionally shattered by this, Daniel unintentionally shot Carl. Despite this, Carl would spend his Famous Last Words yelling at Daniel to run away and not be at the scene. To wit, Carl understood that Daniel did not mean to shoot him and thus did not want his friend's son to be charged for his murder, and so, his last act was to try to protect Daniel from prosecution. At the end of it all, during a visit to Carl's gravesite, Lt. Stillman (a fellow Vietnam vet) sees his sad-looking ghost, and all he can do is salute Carl farewell.
  • "A Perfect Day", A housewife tries to escape from her abusive policeman husband with her two twin daughters. When the father catches them trying to leave, he takes them to the bridge over the Philadelphia river and holds the two girls over the edge, threatening to throw them in if his wife leaves. Their mother cries for the father to let them go, and when she reaches to get them from the father, she only manages to save one before he drops the other girl. She dies on impact and her body isn't found for decades.
    • Granted the policeman husband may as well be abusive to the core, one has to wonder: "How does it feel to destroy everything you ever loved or wanted?" Think about it.
    • In an earlier scene, we learn that the mother left the surviving daughter, Maura, in a church. The scene is heartbreaking enough by itself, but it's even worse when you know what the mother's been through; the last thing she'd want to do is to give up the one child she had left, but she knew her husband would never stop looking for them, so she gave Maura up so that even if her husband tracked her down, he wouldn't find Maura. And then there's the moment when she tells Maura that Vivian wasn't real and was just her imaginary friend...
    • There's a bit of this in the fact that the husband was killed shortly after murdering the victim, but the wife didn't find out about this until the detectives came knocking. She lost decades of her life to protect herself from a threat that, as it turned out, hadn't been a threat for most of that time.
  • "Detention": A lonely teenager named Trevor in 1994 is depressed about Kurt Cobain's passing, because Nirvana's music made him feel less alone. Cobain's death leads Trevor to eventually bond and fall in love with a bookish classmate named Dawn. With her he finds happiness, and he vows to rescue her from her abusive stepfather. In doing so, he reneges on a suicide (and later murder) pact he'd made with another teenager named Boris. When Boris attempts to jump off of the school roof, Trevor stops him, and in the scuffle Boris knocks Trevor off of the roof, killing him in what looks like suicide. At the end of the episode, everyone — Trevor's parents, Dawn, and another girl — find closure and put up a shrine in the same spot that Trevor had put a Kurt Cobain shrine in 1994. All while The Smashing Pumpkins' cover of "Landslide" plays.
    • The whole episode captures the different degrees of soul-crushing loneliness that teenagers feel, and the saddest part is, when one teen overcomes it through personal growth, he's killed trying to save his best friend.
  • "Debut" features the 1968 death of a young woman killed on the night of her debutante ball. She was killed by her boyfriend. The girl, who had risen into society because her father was an astronaut, told him that she didn't want to keep pretending to be something she's not so that she could stay in the high society's good graces, comparing it to how her boyfriend lies about his family's Jewish heritage. In anger, he pushes her down the stairs, which ends up killing her. The victim's kindly mother, who insisted that she join the debutante season in the first place, ends up regretting this for the rest of her life. She finally gets to see her daughter's ghost during the ending, which is set to a beautiful rendition of "Moon River".
  • "Dog Day Afternoons" has Roween, a Shrinking Violet bank teller who gets charmed by a man she meets, named Julius, into helping him rob the bank where she worked. Roween is killed during the heist by Phil, an alcoholic that Julius had also manipulated into working for him. Roween tried to back out at the last minute and tried to convince Phil into going to the police with her, but Julius convinces him to kill her, which he reluctantly does. Phil pulled the trigger, but the episode clearly shows that Julius is the real villain.
  • "Sanctuary", which involves a girl who was a mule for a drug trafficking ring that Valens was undercover in at the time. Seeing the victim be killed by her only friend and seeing her dreaming about herself happily working in an office like she always wanted...
  • "One Night". The killer, who has a degenerative disease, abducts teenage boys because they think they're going to live forever and he believes that they need to learn that they're not. He lets them choose where they're going to be buried alive in a box. Justin, the latest victim and a prostitute, chooses the place he and his mother rode horses at a fair because it's the last place he meant something to someone. He writes his goodbye note and tells the killer that he should have asked his friend Valentino if he wanted to come when Justin left, one more time like Valentino asked him to do seconds before Justin was abducted- Justin seems to be in love with Valentino. As if that's not enough, Justin asks if he meets his mom in Heaven, will she remember him? Thankfully, at the end, Justin is saved and he and Valentino held hands with each other.
  • "Death Penalty: Final Appeal", a young teenage girl is found raped and murdered after having just moved to a new house. The alleged killer, a black man who was one of the movers, insists that he is innocent and ends up being executed before his innocence was proven. The real killer was the other mover, who raped her because she reminded him of his own runaway daughter, whom he had also sexually abused when she was younger.
    • The Downer Ending isn't even the worst part. the ending montage has the victim's father, Stillman, Jeffries, Kat, and a priest at the black man's funeral, while the song "Hallelujah" is played in the background. The alleged killer then appears first dressed normally then in his orange prison suit, looking at them.
  • "The River" consists of Dr. Grant, a gambling-addict doctor who makes his friend kill him in order to protect his family from his self-caused poverty and to allow them to collect a huge sum of money from his life insurance.
    • The fate of Cyrus, the doctor's best friend, is even sadder. He is a gambling addict too and his life was ruined because of his addiction. It's mentioned that he's estranged from his wife and kids and, at one point, he admits that he wasted his life. He also agreed to kill his friend when the latter asked him to do it (as his life insurance didn't cover suicide). Then, he had to live with that all his life and, decades later, he's arrested because of that.
    • There's also the fact that an innocent man was arrested for the crime, and died in prison shortly thereafter, decades before the team reopens the case.

     Season 4 
  • "Rampage", an episode about two teenaged misfits shooting up a mall. The whole sequence with the identity of the 'third shooter' was absolutely heartbreaking. The girl realizes exactly what's been done and you see her break again— amidst quick shots of the carnage and the screaming and cutbacks to a scene earlier where she's frantically trying to talk a security guard who's been shot in the chest out of dying. Then, once it's over, you see the two boys come forward to one another, congratulate each other the ways teenage boys do, for a split second just look at each other, giddy and scared, and then you hear the shots. Keep in mind that you get this whole flashback while Lilly talks the girl in question (eleven years later) out of shooting herself as well in the same mall. The worst part? It all started because the girl wanted revenge against a specific group of other boys who had just sexually assaulted her in a back room at the mall.
  • In "Baby Blues", a mother, suffering from postpartum psychosis, unintentionally kills her infant daughter after she went outside and laid in the snow under the delusion that she was sending the baby "back where she came from", i.e., Heaven. For years, she lets her (now ex-) husband and son believe the son (who was maybe seven at the time) was responsible due to a botched attempt at a baptism. The episode ends with the appropriately heartbreaking Journey song "Open Arms".
  • In "Sandhogs", a 1947 miner tries to start up a union because one of his friends died with the boss/company taking absolutely no accountability. His friend and his friend's widow (Alice) are black, and he is white, which starts up some tension right there. By the end, Alice and the (married) miner are head over heels in love with each other, but due to some friendly backstabbing by another miner, the boss is onto his union idea and goons are hired. The miner tells Alice that he doesn't love her after all and that she should go off somewhere in an attempt to protect her from the bad guys. He is, of course, murdered and she spent all those years thinking that he really didn't love her, and had refused to listen to their song that had been played throughout the episode. The ending sequence has her younger self and the spectre of the miner dancing together to the song.
  • "Saving Sammy" is pretty bad as far as tearjerkers go. It has everything needed to jerk tears. Child with autism witnessing his parents die? Check. Said child extremely close to a pet? Check. A fairly sympathetic killer, who only killed because he didn't want to lose the love of his life when the family moved to Vermont, only to lose her anyway due to her heartbreak? Check. Said child with autism's older sister, who loves him deeply, spending years thinking he killed their parents, only to learn it was her boyfriend? Check.
    • There's also the disappointed look on Scotty's face when he thinks Brent killed his own parents.
  • "Static", a popular radio DJ dies while on the air. He was just trying to be a father to his daughter, however belated, and her mother ruined all that by killing him.
    Dottie: (chokingly) Don't fill her head with dreams. Dreams just break your heart.
    • It doesn't help that the episode had a heartbreakingly lovely original song called "Scarlet Rose", which was written as a lullaby by the murder victim for his baby daughter—and recorded In-Universe by said daughter when she was a teenager. Even worse was that the record was playing on the victim's radio show at the moment he was murdered.
  • "Fireflies", which had two young girls, one black and one white, growing up to be friends in a racist neighbourhood. A young boy was angry at this, and shot at them in order to scare them, but ended up shooting the white girl, while the black girl ran away in fear. He picked up the white girl and dumped her body in a different state. She would've died if it wasn't for the fact that the fireflies she and her friend always played with told her to stay awake. She was saved and lived the rest of her life in that state, having lost her memory. Until, of course, the Cold Case gang came back to start a tearful reunion.
  • Another episode with gay themes is "Forever Blue" about two gay cops in love and having a secret affair in 1968. One of them is shot, and the other hides his true feelings until the case is reopened. Even then, he denies he's gay and in love with his partner, right up until the very end, where he admits it with tears in his eyes. He tells Lily that he's still in love with and missing his partner. The end montage features the Byrds doing Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages" with the lyric 'Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.'.
    • The entire Cold Open from the episode is heart-wrenching, from the shot of the officer lying dead in his patrol car, his hand on the radio as the dispatcher futility calls for him, to the detectives solemnly filing away the records once the case goes cold. There's not the usual one box, but four of them, each marked with not only the deceased's last name, but a small "PO", shorthand for "Police Officer". It shows how hard his fellow cops really tried to solve his case, but had to give up anyway.
  • "Blackout", another episode that doesn't make you feel for the victim, but instead for the killer. The victim is a bitchy, self-absorbed older woman who despises her family and is despised by them just as much. Her killer was her own daughter, who she always looked down upon for not being pretty enough, but the main reason she was killed was that her daughter found out she was trying to seduce her grandson and the victim did the same thing to her son. The ending montage shows the killer's brother and her son crying and embracing her as she is being taken away.
  • "8:03": the reason the killer stole the dreamcatcher off of his victim? "We all have dreams." This is a sober reminder that the killer is a Shadow Archetype of the victim who gave up trying to get a good education and resigned himself to being a seemingly light-hearted banger.
    • In the flashback, when it shows Madison's death at the hands of a young drug dealer, she spits in his face how she's not a dealer like him. But he snidely sneers that at least his mother isn't a crack addict like hers. She manages to quip back, but it must've still been painful to have the figurative knife twisted in her like that. Of all people, her soon-to-be killer abusively brings up that her rich, confident (if struggling) mother was reduced to a poor pathetic drug addict by a punk kid like him.
  • "The Good-Bye Room" in season four, set in 1964, involves a teenage single mother being forced to give up her child for adoption. She was killed by another unwed mom in what can only be called a fit of temporary insanity.
    • Her rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" is utterly heartbreaking as it happens right when she's been told by Sister Margaret to leave before her child was to be adopted out.

  • The ending of "Shuffle, Ball Change". When the killer (the victim's brother) is brought into the police station, the looks exchanged between him and his father are priceless and without any dialogue, convey:
    Young/Older Grant: Dad, I'm sorry. I let you down.
    Young/Older Father: No, I'm sorry. I should have told you both how much I loved you.
    • Capped it off with Lily seeing the victim dancing and being bathed in a white light before fading away, all to the tune of "I Wanna Know What Love Is", and the whole sequence doubles as Awesome Music.
  • "A Dollar, A Dream": a young widow is forced to live out of her car with her two daughters. She disappears one day after dropping them off at school, and the two girls eventually end up in foster care, where they are both split apart. The elder daughter ends up hating her mother all those years for believing she had abandoned them. She was killed by a homeless man she had befriended that was helping her adjust to homelessness. The two of them had decided to split the winnings of the lottery ticket he gave her if it won anything. It turns out to be a $25 prize, and she drives to the homeless camp to cheerfully give her friend his half. However, her friend has convinced himself that she was "destined" to win the million-dollar jackpot, so when she tells him the ticket had been a "winner", he is unable to accept that it was a small prize and not the million dollars and ends up destroying the cake she bought for her daughter's birthday while searching for the rest of the money before killing her in his rage and frustration.
    • While the elder daughter is no doubt an Ungrateful Bitch and Jerkass, her initial reluctance to meet with her sister, lamenting that "she's with a good family now, she doesn't need me", makes her quite sympathetic, seeing how she was separated from her last living family member, likely after a fight, so shortly after losing both her parents.
    • A happier one is Jeffries finally making peace with his wife's death after confronting her killer, who is just a broken man who feels genuine guilt for his actions. It ends with him finally listening to Miles Davies for the first time in 12 years.
  • "Offender" has a dad who not only lost his 6-year-old son 20 years ago but was wrongfully accused and convicted for the boy's murder. It even convinced ''his own wife'' to lose faith in him. It's no wonder he becomes a serial killer targeting sexual offenders years later.
  • "Stand Up and Holler": The victim died because she stood up to the Alpha Bitch and her best friend helped cover it up because couldn't give up her popularity.
    • Generally, Celeste's gradual transformation into a metaphorical puppet for the Alpha Bitch. Between Becca's verbal abuse and the hazing ritual with the football team, poor Celeste slowly loses her self-confidence to the point where she's convinced she can't live without the cheerleading squad as her identity. It doesn't help when you realize she must've put up with it throughout her high school years, and all without her friend by her side.
    • The point that started the investigation, came from a note on an art exhibition stating "I killed Rainey Karlsen". It turns out to have been written by Joe, an outcast who befriended Rainey and convinced her to quit the cheerleading squad, which lead to her death. As a result Joe blames himself.
    • Not to mention the confession the victim's mother adds to the art exhibit during the ending: "My daughter is my hero".
  • In "The Good Death", we have the victim Jay, a Jerkass dying from a brain tumor who decides he's going to beat the disease no matter what and gets into a lot of arguments which makes him unpopular with many people. He also experiences strange hallucinations of a beach that seem to imply he did something terrible in his past. It turns out he's actually reliving one of the few happy memories he had with his wife and son. When he asks his son about it on his deathbed, he lies about remembering it (which he regrets years later) and his wife rushes to the hospital for one last time where he asks her to help him die as he had already given up on life and hopes she will remember him as the man he used to be and not the man he had become.
  • The fourth season finale "Stalker" manages to contain several tearjerkers: While Lilly grieves at the death of her estranged mother, Ellen, she is investigating the murder of a teenage girl's family shortly after they move to the neighborhood by a man who has a crush her. When the girl (the sole survivor who has just recovered from a coma resulting from the incident) and the alleged perp are being interviewed at police headquarters he shoots Stillman (though he survives) and takes the whole staff hostage. Scotty manages to kill the perpetrator, but not after mortally wounding Lilly in the process leaving her colleagues in shock and sadness.
  • "Blood On The Tracks". As the killer leaves her husband and her friend to die in an explosion, there is a truly haunting shot of a picture of them and their college friends, all blissfully happy. The contrast is heartbreaking. The scenes of both victims sleeping peacefully, unaware that they're going to die in a few minutes doesn't help.

     Season 5 
  • It's had to tell what's worse about "Thrill Kill": The Break the Cutie process done to the two misfit teens accused of killing three little boys causing one of them to commit suicide, the fact that the killer beat his own son and his friends to death because of a harmless prank, and that his wife found clues that her husband was the killer but never said or did anything for years or that the cop who thought he solved the case by using the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique to extract a false confession had ruined his career for nothing.
    • There's Teddy Nimmo, one of the two (not) killers. He was little more than a shy, insecure Mama's Boy who was roped into the whole mess due to his friend's forced confession. Even worse, he was convicted of the crimes simply because he smiled too much during the trial (which his mother explained as whenever he was nervous or afraid, he smiled as a response—which happens in real life.) Even after he was convicted and as he about to face the angry mob, he started looking for his mother and crying out for her. Believing that he will never get out of prison, he is last seen stroking a picture of his Mom and the card she gave for his 30th birthday and then proceeds to hang himself in his prison cell. At the end of the episode, his ghost appears to his friend/co-defendant and his mother.
    • What makes it even worse is that this case was based on a real-life case in which the defendants were acquitted only after serving 18 years in prison.
  • "That Woman": A girl named Carrie joins her school's chastity club to try and change others' perceptions of her. When Carrie ends up discovering the dirty secrets of the other members, they turn on her and stone her to death, claiming that she "corrupted" them with her 'wicked ways'.
    • Their club adviser told them to write a message to God and put it in a jar. When Rush looks at it, everyone else's said, "Carrie must die" while Carrie's said,"God loves me for who I am".
  • "Running Around" tells the case of an Amish girl who is murdered after she goes on a Rumspringa into the urbanized world. It was revealed that she was killed by her friend, a fellow Amish boy who in a moment of panic and frustration stabs her. The saddest part is that he himself was on a Rumspringa, but he could not come home because he fell into a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol despite desperate attempts to clean up his act. During, his confession he expresses deep remorse for his actions and wishes to see his parents.
    • Even more bittersweet is the ending to this episode. Although he gets arrested for the murder, he is last seen tearfully embracing his saddened parents. Meanwhile, the ghost of the victim appears to one of her sisters who is going on a Rumspringa herself. All these events are set to the song of "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson.
  • "Devil Music" is essentially Pleasantville with a sad ending. A teenager in the 1950s is growing increasingly uncomfortable with his seemingly idealistic, Leave It to Beaver-style neighborhood, believing there must be something greater out there. Over the course of the episode, he starts ferreting out dirty secrets about the community, most notably the fact that its female and African-American residents have been pretty much brainwashed into subservience. He encourages the other characters to do what they want to do with their lives instead of what society expects of them, which ultimately gets him murdered by his cousin, who blamed him for "breaking" the community (the saddest part, of course, is that it was broken to begin with).
  • "Wunderkind", about a murdered inner-city youth who was also a math prodigy. He got tired of everybody using him and his talent so he decides to make a run for it. He is killed by his own brother who craves the approval of his father and of the local gang. The gang promised him a place if he kept his brother in line. It worked for a while until he ended up in a wheelchair and got abandoned by the gang anyway.
  • "World's End", the case of a woman murdered during the infamous War of the Worlds radio show. And her old lover was still alive, as well as her now very senile husband and murderer. The final scene has her ghost and the old lover dancing together at the dance hall like they used to.
    • One really has to feel bad for the killer's son, as well. Not only did he lose his more loving parent, but in the present he's getting on in years himself and had to take care of his ancient father when he came down with Alzheimer's. It's implied that he'd already figured out his father was a killer, but even so outright begs the cops to let him live out his final days in peace. They don't listen.
  • The ending of "It Takes A Village", which had the three of the killer's victims looking on while the detectives put away the case files, and found the grandmother of the final victim sitting on her porch, listening to his iPod. She looks up and sees his ghost standing before her. He smiles and nods before fading away. Particularly touching considering that that was how the episode had started, with them chatting on the porch, and a very fitting way of the victim assuring his loved one that he was at peace.
  • "Boy Crazy": An early-1960s teenage girl looks, dresses, and acts like a boy but still likes boys, so her classmates ridicule her, and her only friend, another boy, shuns her when she reveals her feelings for him. After she gets expelled from school, her widower father puts her in an asylum. She rebels against the doctors' attempts to make her a "lady," so a guilt-ridden nightshift nurse (who was also the high school's nurse) lets her friend into the hospital to help her get out. He finds that they've given her enough electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) to cause severe and irreparable brain damage note  and leave her more than half-dead in a red dress. He then smothers her with her pillow and drops her body in the lake to fulfill the pact they made there to "never let them change us—be free or die trying." It's an absolutely heartbreaking look at the fluidity of gender and sexuality and the pain that comes when it's met with harsh intolerance.
    • One line will make the tears come every time after her friend sneaks in and finds her functionally brain dead.
    Sam: (in a voice totally devoid of emotion, face blank) Don't I look pretty?
    • Sadder still, the victim only appears to the friend who mercy killed her and not to her father. He's just sitting there looking at her photo as a child, living the rest of his days regretting leaving her to that hospital.
    • Even worse: the true villain, the head doctor, is long dead and cannot be punished for his doing to Sam and several other girls.
  • "Justice": the reunion of the four women who, in the '80s, plotted to kill the Jerk Jock who raped each one of them and then got off scot free? Only to chicken out when they had the asshole at their mercy... and then have one of the girls' little brother grab a gun and kill him, as revenge as well as "atonement" for not being able to help his older sister.
    • Seeing these girls used to be trusting and innocent is very sobering: they once had their own care-free college lives before the Jerk Jock ruined it. And afterwards, they became scared, hurt, embittered versions of their former selves.
    • The jerk jock's youngest victim was only 18 years old. And she killed herself when even her own dad didn't stand up for her.
      • Generally, all the girls he raped are this, for trying to tell somebody (friends, the police, their families, the Dean), only for it to backfire when they're told it's their own fault.
    • The victims writing on the bathroom wall to communicate with each other about their experiences with the jock. Many of them said that they believe it was their fault or someone told them it was their fault or at least they think that if they told someone they will be the one that will be blamed for getting raped instead of the jock. It's a poignant testament to how lonely they are in their inability to stop the perpetrator. Also crosses into Nightmare Fuel and/or Moment of Awesome when the last chilling message is shown: "We have to stop him TOGETHER".
  • "Family 8108", set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Seeing the father get murdered by the boy who was once his son's friend is awful, especially after it becomes clear that the killer still feels guilt for what he did (albeit he tries to cling to his racism in order to live with it).
    • Stillman accurately sums up what it must've been like for the killer, to go off to war and face an enemy that painfully resembles your best friend and his father, looking upon you with an expression of hatred. When he came back, he was no longer same on the inside, but a different man who looked upon familiar faces with contempt.
    • Then there's the end where instead of period music, we hear the victim's son's (who died in the war) last letter to his father.
  • "Spiders", we have a 14-year-old who witnessed his mother's murder by Neo-Nazis 10 years ago. By the time he's finished recollecting the traumatic memory, he's been reduced to tears. If it's any indication of how deeply this scarred him, he started out calm and collected before he recognized one of the neo-Nazis.
    • The killer turns out to be the Shrinking Violet who was badgered by the Evil Matriarch of the neo-Nazi leader into killing the victim. She even shamed him by saying he has to "burn out" his Jewish blood (from his biological mother's side). The reason he went along with it? Because she was the only mother figure he felt ever loved him. In the present, he seems to firmly believe the old teachings of the neo-Nazi group. Yet, his sad tone hints he knows deep down, the murder didn't "clean" his soul but tainted it with innocent blood.
    • The main victim, Tamyra, is one of the biggest Woobies on the show ever: her mother died when she was young, her father was a cruel and abusive racist and she was fighting a seemingly losing battle to become a ward of the commonwealth when she met a boy who took a romantic interest in her and even rescued her from her father... only for him to be a violent Neo-Nazi, forced to be present at the murder of the other victim and locked up in his house for all hours of the day. Although she was initially freed by the other guy in her group, the mother forces him to track her down and kill her. In the end, her ghost has no one to appear to other than Lilly, and she looks just as sad and lost as she did when she was still alive. Her expression says it all, "There's nothing left here, except moving on..."
  • "Andy in C Minor": Andy got a cochlear implant so he could play piano and hear Emma's voice. His joy at accomplishing the former dream is short-lived when he's killed by his own friend. And the latter? All he can do is weakly mumble one word: "Emma...."
    • Worse still, Carlos has his moment. Although he has a bad temper, his breakdown in the interrogation room shows a tragically broken side to him. On the verge of tears, he half-buries his face in guilt. He can't look Detective Rush in the eye. All he can do is look up at the ceiling tearfully, either recalling happier times with Andy or wordlessly begging his forgiveness.
    • In the end sequence, Andy's parents sombrely look through a book (presumably a photo album of Andy), juxtaposed by a flashback of them smiling as they read through it. It really hammers in how their son's death had devastated them.
  • "Bad Reputation": It's hard to watch an ex-con just out of prison try to convince everyone he's really changed and wants a second chance. It's even harder when he realizes he's about to be murdered in cold blood by a Dirty Cop and uses his last tearful breath to taunt his killer: "I'm a good man now, nothing you do to me changes that!"
    • To elaborate: Pistol Pete and ex-officer O'Leary were working a scam where Pete and his friend would rob an armored truck and at a signal, O'Leary would come in and stop it. Except O'Leary wanted Pete to rob the truck for real, so didn't come in when Pete gave the signal, assuming that Pete would just follow through and finish the heist. But Pete didn't want to hurt the driver because the driver was his son's stepfather, and told the guard to hit the panic button so they'd be forced to call it off. When he confronted O'Leary over it, O'Leary killed him in revenge and for fear that he might get caught if the driver talked.
  • "Slipping" gives us the daughter of the victim, who was only 5 years old at the time of her mother's presumed suicide. Her envious, cold-hearted stepfather set it up to make it look like suicide and, in the process, allowed the poor child to grow up believing it was her fault and she was destined to go crazy like her mother.
    • Annette might count as this. Although she helped the killer carry out his plan, she was too stupid, naïve, and in love with him to see him for who he was. Doesn't help that she's arrested to "The End of the World", as though voicing her heart-broken understanding that the man she moved Heaven and Earth for was just using her.
  • The reunion of Max, the little boy believed to have died in a fire nearly three years earlier, but was really kidnapped by a childless social worker and her husband and his mom in Ghost of My Child.
    • The fact that the social worker and her husband justify them taking away Max was they had so little faith that his mother can become fully clean and they believe that if Max stayed with his mother he would die from neglect or abuse from his addict mother or his mother will eventually overdose, leading him without a family. They believe that the baby was better off with them so they can raise Max in a healthy and loving environment despite Priscilla trying her best to fight against the addiction for Max's sake and had been clean for years despite believing Max was dead until recently.
    • The baby John Doe that was used to fool the authorities that Max did die in the fire was never fully identified leaving it without a voice or a name.
    • All the segments throughout the episode where we see Priscilla struggling with raising her baby. Particularly, the one taking place some time after Max was born. When the heat first went out that night, she was left trying to find a warm place within walking distance. All the warm places like restaurants and cafes are closed. She pitifully sings "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" before she breaks down believing she doesn't have what it takes to keep her baby warm and safe.
  • The ending of The Road, when the victim, who was abducted on the night of her engagement party, is reunited with her fiance 7 months later — all set to the strains of OneRepublic's hauntingly beautiful "Come Home". Somehow, she survived when none of the other victims had, and the man who loved her never gave up on seeing her again. Especially given just how vile the doer was, that's worth shedding a few tears over.
    • One of the victims of the episode's killer was a woman who had given birth shortly before she was kidnapped. During the ending montage, it shows her daughter, who's now a few years older, reaching out to a video of her mother who she most likely doesn't remember much of.
    • In the opening sequence, seeing her fiancé become more panicked and terrified as he futilely searches the parking lot for her (she'd failed to return to their engagement party), then seeing how much he'd seemed to age when we see him in the present day.note 

     Season 6 
  • In the ending of "Glory Days", the killer breaks down into tears of remorse during the interrogation, having thought of the victim as his son.
  • "Roller Girl", a girl in the '70s is found dead at the bottom of a ravine. She just wanted to be seen as grown up, gets a makeover and she and her girlfriend go out on the town. Instead, they get exposed to alcohol, drugs, and date rape. She runs into her friend and they spend the next few hours frolicking around the park, recapturing their youth. Everything goes well up to when he tries to kiss her. Considering everything that's happened earlier, she freaks out and accidentally falls to her death.
  • "Shore Leave", but it hits home at the end, with a beautiful rendition of 'Taps' and the correction of his status. Also at Jimmy's funeral, which several people, including Lilly, Stillman, and Jeffries, attend are also his two friends that he died protecting: the one who reminded him of his younger brother and who his killer was convinced took the gun and tried to run out of the Marines and the other one who actually took the gun as a joke and had no realization that it would escalate so far. The latter puts on a pair of sunglasses to shield others from his tears.
  • "One Small Step" has one scene where Vera leaves a suspect in the interrogation room to contemplate over the photos of his two dead friends, one murdered long ago, the other who hanged himself just hours ago. It must've been quite a blow for the suspect to realize his Shrinking Violet tendencies have thus far killed two out of his three childhood friends, all to cover for someone who's held him back.
  • "Triple Threat" involves the 1989 murder of Nadia Koslov, a teenage opera singer originally from Russia. She and her family defect to the U.S. and she enrolls in a performing arts school. She decides to change from opera to pop/rock. Initially, her father is against this change, but he finally comes to accept his daughter for what she wants to be. That night, she is killed by one of her teachers because the teacher is jealous of Nadia's future.
  • "Jackals", a biker couple tries to cut ties with a notorious gang. The gang leader finds out and kills the girl right in front of the guy who couldn't stand up for her. The leader even told him to get some shovels.
  • The victim in "Lotto Fever" giving the last of his money away to the only person who didn’t ask him for anything.
  • Pops's death in "Officer Down", one of the few victims on the show to have a personal connection to one of the main characters (he helped straighten out Jeffries' life by giving him a job) and the fact that he was killed by a little kid who was protecting the honor of his older brother, who had been feuding with Pops, not knowing that his brother had made peace with Pops the same day and taken a job from him in order to turn his life around and become a good role model for his little brother to follow. Not to mention the fact that the older brother was killed as well, by another man Pops had helped set straight because he thought that he was the one who had killed Pops.

     Season 7 
  • "Flashover" has a case where a father was accused of setting a fire that killed his two sons. Despite being considered an alcoholic, you can tell the father was breaking down from the constant accusations of killing his sons and the loss of his sons. Vera eventually helped to get him behind bars but a variety of factors including the man's brother's accusations and a professional in the matters of fire who told him that the fire was most likely accidental, not arson, Vera began to break down and even disappeared on the team for a bit, which caused the team worried and investigate the case, as he realized that he just most likely sent an innocent man to prison. The man's name is eventually cleared but the man was killed sometime before the episode started after he was attacked in prison.
  • "Soul" is about an up-and-coming record producer killed because he was Oblivious to Love until it was too late. The money he spent the whole episode collecting so he can start his own label is used by the girl who killed him to buy his tombstone.
  • One for animal lovers: in "Dead Heat" not only does the ghost of the victim, a jockey, appear at the end, but also that of the abused horse he had tried and failed to save from the cruel racetrack owner.
  • "Read Between The Lines", about two black sisters who end up in foster care. The older sister, Donalyn, was an aspiring rapper but was murdered before she hit success. It turns out that she was planning to run away with her younger sister, Meesha, because she had seen signs that the foster father was a pedophile, and the foster mother murdered her because she'd bonded with the younger sister and didn't want to lose her. Perhaps the worst part is that the victim's younger sister never knew that her adoptive mother was the killer until years later.
    • What makes it even worse is that the foster mother believed the victim when she told her the foster father was a pedophile and was willing to do the right thing as far as protecting Meesha from him — she left her husband after the murder to keep him away from her. If she had just told Donalyn that she believed her and that she was going to kick her husband out immediately, there's a chance they could have worked things out — Donalyn might have agreed to stay when she saw that the mother was serious about protecting her and Meesha. But rather than even try to talk things through, she just lashed out in a rage and ended up killing her.
    • There's thankfully something of a Belated Happy Ending for the sister, though, as she's able to get out of poverty and go to med school.
  • "Chinatown", when the killer breaks into tears after reading his mother's note. She was so disgusted by what he did to his brother she didn't even bother talking to him.
  • "The Good Soldier" about a recruitment officer who was shot to death in mysterious circumstances. He gets killed by a young girl he's trying to help. She's now in the military and finally well-adjusted because of that tragic accident, which in cruel irony turns out to be the thing that vanifies the victim's efforts. Before dying, the victim also has to deal with grief and guilt over the death of one of his recruits, while also dealing with the anger of the young man's grieving father.
  • "Two Weddings": The team's Bomb Squad ally Louis is getting married, and the team investigates the death of the bride's previous fiancée from a year earlier. It turns out the groom called off the wedding when he learned that his previous wife, who'd spent the last several years in a coma after falling off a boat while drunk, began showing signs of consciousness. However, while he's preparing to leave to see her, he learns that his wife has died. Crossing the Despair Event Horizon, he jumps off the balcony of his hotel room in front of his friend who'd been the one driving the boat that led to his wife's accident.
  • While investigating his mother's mugging, Scotty interviews another woman who was attacked by the guy. It soon becomes obvious that the woman was not only robbed, she was also raped and Scotty visibly struggles to hold back tears upon realizing what really happened to his mother.

  • In a sense, the cold case boxes themselves essentially serve as coffins for the victims, with names, faces and lives that can't fade away, no matter how many years it has been since they died. Worse, as many of the cases that the detectives do solve, there are twice as many that they don't.
  • Nearly every death scene, even ones that employ a Gory Discretion Shot. The victim has appeared throughout the episode to the point where the audience can easily forget that he/she is dead. Seeing the murder occur can be quite jarring and upsetting.


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