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Tear Jerker / Dear Evan Hansen

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♫ We start with stars in our eyes
We start believing that we belong
But every sun doesn't rise
And no one tells you where you went wrong! ♫
"Waving Through a Window"
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Dear Evan Hansen is the prime contender for the saddest musical ever made, and it really shows.

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


Musical

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    Act One 
  • "Anybody Have A Map?, a song about well-meaning parents desperately trying to help their children to seemingly no avail. Those fifth chords are what sell it.
  • "Waving Through a Window." There's a reason it's the show's most popular song, and it can definitely make anyone who's ever felt socially ostracized or alone cry.
    ♫ Step out, step out of the sun
    If you keep getting burned
    Step out, step out of the sun
    Because you've learned, because you've learned... ♫
  • Evan's last meeting with Connor at the school cafeteria. While Connor is still foul-mouthed, he is seen to be much more gentle and kinder, offering Evan a signature for his cast. And then it all goes to hell when Connor reads Evan's printed therapy letter, being enraged at the mention of Zoe. This causes Connor to angrily accuse Evan of wanting to see Connor freak out and give definitive proof to him that he is basically a freak in the school. The tears come from what could have been; if Connor didn't see Evan's therapy letter, a genuine friendship could have been formed between the two due to their similar "invisibility" at school. Instead, we see these hopes go crashing down with every word Connor yells at Evan. And even worse, this therapy letter is implied as the trigger for Connor's suicide.
  • The entire meeting with Evan, Larry and Cynthia in the principal's office. Larry and Cynthia break the news to Evan that Connor ended his life, and all he had with him was Evan's therapy letter, with the two believing it to be his own suicide note. But as Evan tries to tell Connor's parents what that note really was, Cynthia begins demanding Evan to accept her truth, with Larry trying to stop her. She is left in tears over this. This is what starts Evan's Snowball Lie. It might have been wrong to lie to Connor's parents, but the desperation in Cynthia's voice makes it understandable as to why Evan would do it.
    "THIS IS ALL WE HAVE! THIS IS THE ONLY THING WE HAVE LEFT!"
  • "For Forever" is particularly heartbreaking because Evan describes his perfect day hanging out with Connor. We know this didn't happen. But it's clear from Evan's wavering voice that he desperately wishes it did.
    • The song goes from heartbreaking to soul-crushing with the reveal of how Evan really fell.
  • "Requiem" focuses on how Connor's family is coping with his suicide, particularly Zoe, who can't bring herself to feel sad about him dying due to their strained relationship.
    • While both Zoe and Larry are angry about how Connor treated his family, Cynthia finds comfort in Connor's (fake) emails to Evan, feeling like he isn't truly gone.
    • Made worse in the novel considering Connor's ghost is listening the whole time, and he can't say anything to them.
    • Zoe's voice breaking on the word "monster" in "you weren't the monster I knew" and she just manages to choke back tears. Connor treated her horribly, but that didn't mean she wanted her brother dead.
  • Zoe in "If I Could Tell Her". Evan's telling her all these things that Connor allegedly said about her, and she's so desperate for some kind of indication that her brother actually cared about her that she's eating it up. After the first verse, she asks Evan for more, and when he acts surprised, she says that she doesn't really care. However, her tone of voice betrays her and tells the audience just how much she really does care. Add in the fact that all of what Evan's telling her is his own feelings masqueraded as Connor and you realize that the only thing we know about him that suggests that he does in fact care is him freaking out at Evan the day he killed himself.
  • The mere notion that everyone in the school forgot about Connor's suicide after one week. It shows the sad truth that, inevitably, life eventually gets in the way of grieving.
  • The lead-in to "You Will Be Found" sees Evan attempting to give a speech about Connor in front of the school. He gets nervous and his social anxiety starts to take over; causing him to shake, trip over his words, drop his cards, collapse, and cry before steadying himself and beginning the song. Seeing his anxiety cause physical pain shows just how serious it is.
  • "You Will Be Found" really gets the waterworks going. Especially when Larry sees the impact that social media and the Connor Project have made.He finally sheds tears after previously not showing any grief at Connor's funeral.
    • The rapid violin strings at the end of the song. It's meant to show that despite Evan's rise to fame and his satisfaction of the happiness he gives to the Murphys, maintaining the lie will mean that unavoidable consequences will arise, both good and bad.

    Act Two 
  • Evan and Heidi's argument at the beginning. She is finally free to talk to Evan... just as he is about to leave for the Murphys, and lies that he is actually going to Jared's house. The one time she isn't swamped by work or class, she is unable to communicate with her son. As such, she becomes increasingly desperate for a single shred of recognition and respect.
    "I'M YOUR MOTHER! I'M YOUR MOTHER... I'm sorry. I was... I don't know why I... I'm happy. I'm happy you had a friend, sweetheart. I'm just so sorry he's gone. I wish I had known."
  • "To Break In a Glove" has this line from Larry Murphy: "Or you're trying to do what's best / for a kid who's lost control". At that point, we remember that Larry is still a grieving father who hasn't gotten over this loss yet. But he is healing because of Evan's willingness to learn about breaking in a baseball glove.
  • While "Only Us" is mostly a heartwarming song that describes Evan and Zoe's reaffirmation of their relationship, pictures of Connor can be seen on the projections. This symbolizes that their relationship only exists because of Evan's lie, meaning that their love is not genuine. And Zoe is only singing this entire song because she wants their relationship to be about more than just the Connor Project. See "Words Fail" entry for the result.
  • "Good For You" is a collective and admittedly well-deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Heidi, Alana and Jared to Evan—Heidi calls out Evan for seeking solace in the Murphys and not trusting her; Alana starts to see inconsistencies in Evan's story and starts to suspect it's all a lie; Evan panics and tries to get Jared to write more emails. Jared refuses and calls him out for his absence and threatens to expose him. He thinks better of it when Evan points out how that would backfire on him. While all three parties are extremely angry, you can tell that they're also extremely hurt by Evan's actions.
    • The spoken parts are even more heartwrenching...
    Evan: I'm just SUCH a burden. I'm the worst thing that's ever happened to you. I've ruined your life!
    Heidi: You are the only... THE ONE GOOD THING THAT'S EVER HAPPENED TO ME, EVAN! Sorry I can't give you anything more than that! Shit!
    Evan: Well it's not my fault that other people can...
    ...
    Alana: (After Evan asks her why she's so obsessed with Connor's situation when she didn't actually know him) Because I know what it's like to feel invisible! Just like Connor! To feel invisible and alone and like no one would even notice if you vanished into thin air! I bet you used to know what that felt like too!
    ...
    Jared: You should remember who your friends are!
    Evan: I thought the only reason you even talked to me was because of your car insurance!
    Jared: So!?
    Evan: So, maybe the only reason you talk to me is because you don't have any other friends!
    Jared: I COULD TELL EVERYONE EVERYTHING!
    Evan: Go ahead! Do it! Go tell everyone how you helped write emails pretending to be a kid who killed himself!
    Jared: (Stunned Silence) FUCK YOU, EVAN! Asshole!
    — The stage directions here describe Jared as a "helpless, heartbroken little kid".
    • Heidi's section must also be elaborated upon. Before "If I Could Tell Her", we learn that Evan's father divorced and moved to Colorado with his stepmom. When Evan yells that he's nothing more than a "burden" to her, this must bring to mind horrible memories about her divorce years earlier. Also, since she and Evan were left alone, she probably viewed the situation as a consolation — her life hadn't completely hit rock bottom. Now, Evan has taken that away from her, too.
    • Then there's this lovely exchange...
      Evan: If you're not here, why does it matter where I am?
      Heidi: Uh, they think you're their son! These... people...
      Evan: They're not "these people"! They're my f- (Realizes what he's saying and trails off)
      Heidi: (Understandably angry) WHAT?! WHAT ARE THEY!?
      Evan: I DON'T KNOW!
  • Evan's second and final talk with Imaginary!Connor. Evan just wants to escape his own spiraling lie while Imaginary!Connor is pressuring him into maintaining it. As Evan exclaims that he is ready to be done with the lie, Connor merely asks why Evan is having doubts and chatting to himself. Then the Wham Line drops regarding Evan's broken arm:
    Connor: How'd you break your arm? How’d you break your arm, Evan?
    Evan: I fell.
    Connor: Really? Is that what happened?
    Evan: YES! I was- I lost my grip and then I-- I fell...
    Connor: Did you fall? Or did you let go?
    • Then, Connor sings a reprise of "For Forever", solemnly reminding Evan of the good times he made up about Connor just so he could be accepted by the Murphys. With every good thing mentioned, Evan is repeatedly facing the truth.
  • "Words Fail" involves Evan finally telling Connor's family the truth, realizing how much harm he did to his close friends and family just to feel a sense of belonging. On the official recording, Ben Platt sounds like he's fighting back tears.
    • Hearing how badly Evan wanted to have people who would make him feel wanted is really, REALLY hard not to get touched by.
    • The sadness of it only builds to the very end, including a Dark Reprise of "Waving Through A Window", quoted below.
    ♫ Cause I've learned to slam on the brake
    Before I even turn the key
    Before I make the mistake
    Before I lead with the WORST OF ME
    I NEVER LET THEM SEE THE WORST OF ME!


    'Cause what if everyone saw?
    What if everyone knew?
    Would they like what they saw?
    Or would they hate it too?
    Will I just keep on running away from what's true?

    All I ever do is run
    So how do I step in
    Step into the sun?
    Step into the sun... ♫
    • Also, if one remembers Evan's other songs beforehand, they kept using plenty of metaphors, which is Evan's preferred way of speaking. Now, look at the lyrics above. The metaphors of stopping a car and stepping into the sun are the only ones used in "Words Fail". In short, it's emotionally painful to realize that this song contains all his raw and undiluted sorrow.
    • In the middle of the song, Zoe tearfully runs away from the kitchen, followed by Cynthia. All Larry does is walk up to Evan and give him a Death Glare before leaving. And then Evan sees Imaginary!Connor with a disappointed expression. The light slowly fades on him. It's sadder than it sounds; you realize that Imaginary!Connor was right - Evan told the truth, the Murphys left, and now he's all alone, just as he feared. Even Connor abandoned him.
    • The second stanza in the lyrics above is worse to hear when one realizes that they detail the sole reason why he prefers to stay in the background. It's because he's afraid of what others might think of him. Some could accept him, social anxiety and all, but others may still reject him and not care about his kinder qualities due to his inability to communicate properly. This makes him completely relatable to those suffering from this stigma.
  • "So Big/So Small" from beginning to end. The general consensus here is that if you haven't already cried by this point in the show, you will cry when this song comes — especially if you're a child of a single parent or close with your mother. Heidi is reminiscing about the day Evan's father moved out. Evan, too young to understand what was going on, was only excited to get into the truck and pretend to drive it. Only after Evan's dad had left did Evan realize what had happened. One particular stanza strikes a chord with most fans.
    ♫ That night, I tucked you into bed
    I will never forget how you sat up and said
    "Is there another truck coming to our driveway?
    A truck that will take Mommy away?" ♫
    • And towards the end, when Heidi assures Evan that, "There's not another truck in the driveway. Your mom isn't going anywhere. Your mom is stayin' right here." Evan breaks down, and Heidi hugs him.
    "And I knew there'd be moment that I'd miss, and I knew there would be space I couldn't fill. And I knew I'd come up short a million different ways, and I did. And I do. ...And I will..."

    Cut Songs 
  • "This'll Be The Year," the song that was replaced by "Anybody Have A Map," shows that Heidi initially came across as being frustrated with Evan, which adds onto the ending.
  • "A Little Bit of Light" gives some insight into Cynthia's grief and the kind of person Connor used to be before his mental illness began to affect him. It also reveals how Connor died, with two heart-smashing lyrics:
  • "In The Bedroom Down The Hall" shows Heidi's relationship with Evan and, even worse, has Cynthia packing away Connor's things in boxes.
    • The last lines of the song are much more painful when in November 2017, Ben Platt had his last performance on the show as Evan Hansen. It reads less of a eulogy to an emotionally-difficult boy and more of a farewell to a beloved member in the Dear Evan Hansen cast.
    ♫ In the bedroom down the hall
    I think I'll wait another day to pack these boxes
    'Cause once I'm through
    I'm left with just one thing to do
    Remember. ♫
  • "Part of Me" is an alternative version of "You Will Be Found", and shows the entire Murphy family grieving over Connor, including Larry, who doesn't open up much about Connor's suicide in any of the current scenes.
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Book

  • The entire prologue. It details Connor's bitter thoughts as he secretly leaves home to commit suicide in a secluded area, not only describing Connor's personality, but also setting the tone very well for the book that you will read.
    I made my exit.
    Better to burn out, right, than to fade away? Kurt Cobain said that in his letter. I watched a video about all the famous ones. Ernest Hemingway. Robin Williams. Virginia Woolf. Hunter S. Thompson. Sylvia Plath. David Foster Wallace. Van Gogh. I’m not comparing myself—trust me. Those people actually made an impact. I did nothing. I couldn’t even write a note.
    Burning is the right way to paint it. You feel yourself getting so hot, day after day. Hotter and hotter. It gets to be too much. Even for stars. At some point they fizzle out or explode. Cease to be. But if you’re looking up at the sky, you don’t see it that way. You think all those stars are still there. Some aren’t. Some are already gone. Long gone. I guess, now, so am I.
    My name. That was the last thing I wrote. On another kid’s cast. Not quite a goodbye note. But hey, I made my little mark. On a broken limb. Seems about right. Poetic if you think about it. And thinking is just about all I can do now.
  • The first chapter has Evan failing to write a reassuring letter to himself, just like the musical, but with a few gut-wrenching details added:
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    • His real name is Mark Evan Hansen. He doesn't like his first name, as the initials spell out "Meh". He has got rid of it, wanting his intitials to be "Eh", as in, a somebody who is recognized by others.
    • Evan dislikes his therapy sessions, as his lack of commitment gets in the way of the path to becoming a better person.
    • He thinks about the cliques he witnessed the previous year, and then contemplates what could happen in his new school year.
      I barely had a handle on the way things were last year, and now there will be so much newness to absorb. New wardrobes, tech, vehicles. New hair styles, colors, lengths. New piercings and tattoos. New couples. Whole new sexual orientations and gender identities. New classes, students, teachers. So much change. And everyone just marches on like nothing’s different, but for me, every new year feels like starting from zero.
    • He has a map on his bedroom, which initially contained pins marking all the places he would like to hike. But after his recent summer holidays, he took all but one of them down: Colorado, where his dad lives.
    • When his mother is always at work, he tries to call his father, but he is always busy.
    • He goes on a mini rant in his mind, about the difficulties of writing self-improvement letters, but also his perceived notion that NO ONE can understand what it's like to be him, whether it's taking drugs or attending a therapist.
  • Connor's Heel Realization during "Requiem" in the novel. On the bright side, it's a catalyst for him getting better later on.
  • One tiny detail was added for Evan's confession of his lie to the Murphys. When Larry confronts Evan after the latter has spilled the beans, he can only respond with two words: "Please leave".
    It's the please that destroys me.
  • The Reveal of Evan's "accident" actually being an attempted suicide. Leading up to this, Evan has finally fixed the Ellison Park sign and is anticipating his father's awe at his hard work after texting him... only to receive an ultrasound picture announcing that the father has a new son. The idea that something insignificant, like sibling favouritism, triggered Evan to try to take his own life is extremely harrowing.

Movie

  • In general, the portrayal of Evan's anxiety is turned Up to Eleven. Evan struggles to breathe at several points, he's barely able to stand, and it's clear that his fight-or-flight response is kicking in at certain moments, like when Connor shouts at him in the hallway.
    • After Connor takes Evan's self-improvement letter, Evan runs inside a toilet, and struggles to open one of his medication bottles. He succeeds... but the pills spill all over the floor. Evan then has to pick one up and blow on it before consuming the pill. No one should have to go through this kind of emotional pain.
    • When giving his speech at the Connor Murphy memorial assembly, not only does Evan drop his cue cards like the musical, he also knocks the microphone stand. The feedback it emits punctuates the untold levels of panic Evan must be going through in doing something completely out of his comfort zone. And the worst part? The unnamed students watching this start snickering and taking out their phones to record this stuff-up.
  • During "Requiem", another tragic layer was added during Zoe's portions. The bridge segment has her angrily singing about Connor's problematic attitude while driving at night. What does she do while she continues to sing? She holds her foot on the accelerator, and lets go of the steering wheel. At an approaching red light, she immediately brakes, and we see the look of regret and horror on her face. If she had killed herself at that moment, the Murphys would have lost both of their children.
    Zoe: ♫ So, don't tell me that I didn't have it right
    Don't tell me that it wasn't black and white
    After all you put me through
    Don't say it wasn't true
    That YOU WERE NOT THE MONSTER! ♫

    [Zoe immediately brakes upon seeing the red light, where the instrumentals stop playing. She lifts her head up, holding back tears.]
    Zoe: (Voice trembling) ♫ That I knew. ♫
  • It was only hinted at in the original play and book, but the movie expands upon Alana's depression. It's rough to see her just go through the motions with no semblance of a smile during "The Anonymous Ones" when she'd been so upbeat in ever scene beforehand.
    • As a whole, "The Anonymous Ones" is pretty damn sad. It drops a pretty hard, but no less true, moral. Everyone can suffer from depression. Everyone can. Even the overachiever popular girl or the jocks at school. And not just that, but it can be frighteningly easy for people to hide it.
    • The reprise of this song in the third act. Alana has received what she believes is Connor's suicide note, but Evan wants her to keep it a secret. When she sings again, she's telling us how torn she feels over the conflicting responsibilities. She wants to follow what her friend and close confidant told her to do, but the Connor Project deadline for the apple orchard Kickstarter needs to be met in 2 days. Eventually, after looking at some of the inspirational online messages on the website, she finally uploads the letter to the Internet. While viewers may be pleading for her not to do this, they can understand why she made this tough decision.
  • When Cynthia looks for a tie to give to Evan, he looks around Connor's room... and sees some big holes in the wall. They were undoubtedly caused by Connor's punches.
  • Alana finally confronting Evan about the inconsistencies in his story is difficult to watch due to Alana's facial expressions and voice almost begging for the whole thing to be genuine, and the whole thing is punctuated by Alana's Armor-Piercing Question to Evan.
    Alana: ...did you lie to me? Did I lie to all these people?
  • "Words Fail". It's a masterclass of how to take an already sad song and make it even sadder. Evan is crying while singing, his voice eventually becomes raspy as the song goes on, and he even goes off-sync at times. And the camera soaks in every ounce of emotion present on Ben Platt's face.
    • During the song, Zoe runs from the room, but in a change from the musical, Larry runs after her. All that's left is Cynthia, who calmly reminds Evan to leave. As soon as Evan has left the house, Cynthia finally breaks down.
    • The next day at school, Evan runs into Zoe, who numbly tells him that Cynthia and Larry won't reveal the lie. Why? Because they have already lost one son. And just to make things even better, Zoe tearfully tells Evan to stay away from her family. It's clear she's pretty devastated about that, as well.
    • Finally, Evan sings the final portion of the song at the Ellison State Park. That moment begins with him sitting alone on a bench, which is somber in itself. But then, it's interspersed with flashbacks of Evan's accident, where we see his saddened face as he runs across the bridge and the closing of his eyes as he lets himself fall from the tree. Not only that, the present day has Evan tearfully screaming the lyrics, calling himself out for his social anxiety and lies. After that? His entire face shrivels up as he falls to his knees. In other words, tears are absolutely guaranteed after this entire song.
  • When Evan finally reveals how he fell and broke his arm to his mother, he says something that just eviscerates one's heart.
    Evan: Do you hate me now? You should. (Voice breaks) You should. If you knew who I am, just how broken I am.
  • After Evan confesses his entire lie online, the next scene makes it very clear that his friendship with Alana is irrevocably ruined. He reads alone in the cafeteria, while every other student, including Alana, glares at him with disappointment.
  • While "A Little Closer" is a song about how Connor was staying at least a little hopeful, some of the lyrics can really hit home for people who have a history of depression. In other words, this song is very bittersweet, leaning a bit towards bitter. On one hand, Connor still believed he would get better. On the other... he didn't make it.
    High above, a streak of sunlight
    And a wall too tall to climb
    All the reaching, all the wanting
    Just to tumble every time.

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