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Tear Jerker / Glee

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It's curious how a show titled Glee could produce so many moments that make you cry - and not just of the Tears of Joy variety.

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

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    Seasons 1 - 3 
  • Any time Kurt cries, but his silent, heartbroken reaction to Finn calling him a fag and his father throwing Finn out is probably the worst.
    • The entirety of "Grilled Cheesus."
      • You truly cannot mention "Grilled Cheesus" without bringing up Kurt's HEARTBREAKING rendition of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", complete with childhood home movie footage of a kid who looks exactly like Kurt. No matter how tough you are, you cannot watch that scene without feeling close to tears.
    • And at least half of "Never Been Kissed" and "Furt".
    • Everything in "Furt" that isn't a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming is this. Particularly the scene where Mr Schuester asks Kurt if he's okay, and he tears up and barely gets out a terrified "No," and Kurt's goodbye to the New Directions, where he walks out in tears, leaving Finn and Mercedes standing in the middle of the choir room looking heartbroken and helpless.
    • Special mention goes to NBK's famous Wham Moment where Karofsky grabs Kurt's face and kisses him. Normally it would lead to a comedic "What the hell just happened?!" or a Slap-Slap-Kiss storyline, but instead Kurt is as confused as an actual person would be in that situation. Look at it from Kurt's perspective - he thought that if he stood up to his bully, even if he had to do it a couple of times, Karofsky would eventually get the message and maybe realize Kurt had no interest in him. Or Kurt could threaten him with school disciplinary action. Instead, the Wham Moment happens - knowing Karofsky is gay makes it infinitely harder for Kurt. Now he can't rat him out because he sympathizes with him, and standing up to him again would probably achieve nothing. Feeling like all he can do is take the abuse ultimately drives him to leave the school. Worse, he might feel obligated to protect Karofsky because he doesn't want his feelings to be hurt if Kurt rejects him. Amidst all the petty cast it just shows how nice and how human Kurt is, and it's hard watching for anyone who's tried standing up to a bully, in any measure, and gotten nowhere and had no support from their school.
  • Terri's false-pregnancy being revealed and Will walking out. She did it all just to make him stay, and it backfired spectacularly.
  • The montage at the end of Mattress. The look on Will's face alone is heartbreaking. Combine it with their cover of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile"? It's gut wrenching.
  • The scene in "Dream On" where Artie uses arm braces to try and walk, crumples to the floor, and refuses to let Tina help him up. It's even more of a tearjerker when you know the things that got him excited were doomed from the start, then watching his disappointment as the inherent problems are spelled out. Arm braces only work when your legs can carry some of the weight, and the experiments Tina looked up will take years before they reach humans (if successful).
    • And his performance of "Dream a Little Dream of Me." His voice is upbeat and almost happy, his face looks like he's close to tears.
    • His dance sequence ends in the most depressing, soul-crushing way possible, with Artie sitting in the middle of the mall, in his chair, all alone.
      • Even worse is that when Tina comes back and they go somewhere else, he smiles to himself, completely believing that what he just daydreamed will come true soon enough. Also, when he goes to Miss Pillsbury and starts going on about how he'd need therapy to "help him adjust" after he starts to walk. The saddest part is his absolute faith in the idea that these treatments will work and that he'll be able to walk, and his silent heartbreak when Emma tells him that it won't work.
    • Duh, it's Joss Whedon. It'd be a Tear Jerker if he didn't cause one of these.
    • In the second season, seeing his face as he watches Tina and Mike together is heartwrenching.
  • Any time Tina cries, you know things are getting serious. Especially her reaction to Bryan Ryan's trashing everyone's dreams, and the scene in "Journey" where the Glee kids are gathered at Will's house, talking about their good memories of the club.
    • Although her crying in "Silly Love Songs" was just awkward instead.
  • In a way, the fact that The New Directions will never know that Sue voted in their favor at Regionals is a little heartbreaking.
  • Brittany's almost child-like faith in Santa Claus being shattered in "A Very Glee Christmas" when Coach Beiste (dressed as Santa) explains to her that there are some miracles even Santa can't pull off when Brittany asked for Artie to be able to walk for Christmas. And she really believed that her wish would come true!
    • Later on in a scene with Artie she heart-wrenchingly confesses that she doesn't think it's fair that someone as nice as him can't walk. It's one of the best bets of acting Heather Morris has pulled off.
    • Then in "Sexy" as she struggles to come to terms with her feelings for Santana. Remember, this is the same girl who earlier in the episode thought she was "definitely" pregnant after a stork built its nest on her roof.
  • Shelby telling Jesse about her regret at never knowing her daughter, Rachel, and singing "I Dreamed a Dream" on a cassette tape to Rachel because she cannot legally contact her until she's 18.
    • *sobs*
    "And still I dream she'll come to me
    That we will live the years together
    But there are dreams that cannot be
    And there are storms we cannot weather."
  • Part of the reason why seeing Shannon Beiste crying is so incredibly effective is because she puts up such a strong front, possibly even moreso than Sue.
  • The Piano Scene. Just the way Quinn's clearly given up on her dreams and ambitions, plus Rachel's reactions, should have anyone break down in sympathy for them
    Quinn: Do you want to know how this story plays out? I get Finn, you get heart-broken. And then Finn and I stay here and start a family. I'll become a successful real estate agent, and Finn will take over Kurt's dad's tire shop. You don't belong here, Rachel, and you can't hate me for helping to send you on your way.
    Quinn: Yes it is! You are so frustrating! And that is why you can't write a good song; because you live in this little schoolgirl fantasy of life. Rachel, if you keep looking for that happy ending, then you are never going to get it right!
    • Especially when you consider her determination to get out of Lima and do something great with her life, even during the pregnancy plot. She went through absolute hell to get her life back, and just when things were looking up, an entire new wave of drama came up. And now, here she is, Quinn Fabray, finally battered and broken to the point where she has finally given up all her ambitions and is resigned to the fact that she's not going to amount to anything particularly great in life. I mean, Quinn has spent quite a bit of time being a bitch this season, but... just, damn.
    • And then you have Rachel, still harping about Finn, but having a seed of doubt planted about being with him and still going to New York. As the next season showed, she devoted everything to him, nearly giving up her dreams to marry him, only to be dumped by him because he realized he was holding her back. Quinn was on the money here, if she focused on her dreams and not trying to get a boy back, the events of her first year at NYADA wouldn't have been as drama filled.
  • The whole "Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy" sequence had shades of this, with Kurt and Rachel's conversation before hand (because those are happy tears) and the song contrasting with scenes of Brittany eating alone at Breadstix and watching Artie from a distance. The song itself sad as well, mostly because of the fact that it's two very energetic, happy songs being mashed together and done at an much lower tempo and an almost melancholy tone.
  • From "Funk".
    Rachel: "Break it. Break it like you broke my heart."
  • Brittany pushing a meatball across the table in Breadstix with her nose, alone. Keep in mind the entire episode has led us to believe that she was only dating Artie to make Santana jealous, but now we realize she was actually trying to have a relationship with him too and he turned her down.
  • From "Born This Way".
    Brittany: "Obviously I love you more than you love yourself, or you'd put this shirt on and dance with me!" [Shows her the "Lebanese" t-shirt in her arms.]
    • It's also one of the few times when Brittany shows some real energy in her voice and actions compared to her normal ditzy monotone. She may not have the words right but she is absolute in what she means.
  • Quinn and Rachel's beautiful mashup of "I Feel Pretty" and "Unpretty." Rachel's miserable expressions throughout and Quinn's vague discomfort (the latter of which becoming a case of Fridge Brilliance later in the episode) are heartbreaking enough, and let's face it; how many teenage girls (or, hell, how many people in general) haven't been in Rachel's position before?
  • The Warblers' performance of "Somewhere Only We Know" was beautiful and heart-wrenching, in which an almost teary Blaine sings his goodbyes to Kurt.
    • "I'll never say goodbye to you."
  • Karofsky and Santana's faces at the end of watching the ND perform Born This Way. They both clearly want to join in, especially with Santana wearing her "Lebanese" T-shirt.
  • There's also Will's smaller one when talking to Emma, in regards to the New Directions' True Companions status:
    Will: Of course they all accept each other—it's loving themselves that's the problem.
  • In Rumours, when Artie says to Brittany "Why are you so stupid?" Seeing Brittany instantly tear up. "You're the only one in this school who never called me that!"
    • To say that it's a Tear Jerker is quite possible a massive understatement.
      • Beyond massive. Seems like anytime anyone hurts Brittany, her being so vulnerable and clueless, it's fold-her-up-in-a-huge-hug time.
  • Sam in Rumours, which led to his quasi-official induction into the Glee club True Companions.
    • "Don't cry, Sammy." What's that sound? Oh, just the sound of my heart breaking, that's all.
  • In Prom Queen Dave apologizing to Kurt (and meaning it) while tearing up.
    • And then him running out of the prom when he can't even dance with Kurt.
      • What makes it worse: Imagine having a secret crush. Imagine wanting that crush every minute of every day, but being afraid to show it because you're afraid to be bullied because of it. Now imagine getting the chance to dance with your crush, on Prom Night, after being crowned Prom King and Queen, but not going through with it because you're still afraid.
      • "Be here when I get back." It's less a demand, less of a request, and more of a plea. Remember for Dave, despite everything else, Kurt has been the one person that knows everything going on, who has forgiven him for everything, and accepts him nevertheless. On top of being the person that made Dave question his sexuality in the first place. He's basically pleading for Kurt to stick by him so that he has some sort of support network.
    • Kurt was voted Prom Queen as a horrible, horrible joke. His expression is pure, undiluted humiliation.
    • Rachel and Finn's "corsage" scene in Prom Queen, complete with Rachel attempting to sweetly help Finn with getting the right corsage for Quinn, then smiling and walking away with the saddest puppy-dog eyes seen this century.
    • Another from Prom Queen: Rachel and Quinn's fight in the bathroom. Special mentions to Quinn's horrified "I am so, so sorry," and Rachel's, "You're a pretty girl, Quinn, the prettiest girl I've ever met— but there's more to you than that." Many people who wished Rachel & Quinn got together pinpoint this scene as a reason why, as it's one of the most raw, honest scenes these two had together.
    • Jar of Hearts. That is all.
    • A subtle one pointed out in this interview. When Santana runs off, Brittany goes after her. When Quinn runs off, Rachel goes after her. When Kurt runs off, Blaine goes after him. But when Karofsky runs off, nobody goes after him because nobody cares about him enough.
    • I didn't think it was a case of "nobody caring". Going to comfort an Armoured Closet Gay after he refused to dance with a Camp Gay character would have effectively outed him.
    • It's highly probable that no one realized Dave was in distress, just squeamish at the thought of dancing with another boy.
  • What's the opposite of a Funny Background Event? Because when Blaine starts channeling a Disney prince and asks Kurt to dance, you can see people behind him looking freaked out, disgusted, or just glaring daggers at them.
  • "Funeral": All of it.
    • Becky being kicked off the Cheerios.
    Did I do something wrong?
    • Sue telling Will how Jean died, and asking Kurt and Finn why it was Jean who died and not her.
    • And the fact that Jean's funeral was a full house. And Sue not being able to finish her speech because she broke down in tears, and Will of all people standing up and continuing it for her.
    • "When you love someone like I loved her... They're a part of you. It's like you're attached by this invisible tether, and no matter how far away you are, you can always feel them... And now, every time I reach for that tether, I know there's no one on the other end, and I feel like I'm falling into nothingness." Coming from Sue, of all people.
    • Quinn having her heart broken then Finn having his broken.
    • I began to tear up at only the starting music of Try A Little Tenderness.
      • The same with My Man.
    • Jesse after Rachel says that she isn't singing My Man to anyone.
    • Emma's brave face when talking to Will at the end, and then watching her sweet smile fade, and turn to complete, utter heartbreak. It's like watching her heart shatter in slow motion.
      • Her face? Try Terri's. She tells Will that she's over him, and they part on good terms. But you can tell when she watches him talk to Emma that she's still in love with him, and doesn't want to go.
  • "I'm sorry, guys. We're not in the top ten."
  • "For Good." Yes, it was a happy scene, but all of the emotion in it was just...amazing. Especially considering where they were this time last year. Doubles, of course, as a Heartwarming Moment.
  • Santana admitting her feelings to Brittany in "Sexy" and how she's afraid to go public because of the consequences. That single moment humanized Santana and launched her from stereotypical bitch to Woobie status. Naya Rivera was amazing in that scene.
  • In "New York", when Finn goes to all this trouble to take Rachel on the most amazing date she's ever had, then tries to kiss her only to be rejected because she's still dating Jesse. The look on his face is devastating enough, but you can tell from the look on Rachel's face that it caused her as much as distress as it caused him.
  • Jesse's face after Finn and Rachel kiss in "New York". He came back to Ohio for her and went to New York specifically to see her perform, and she ignores his texts and kisses someone else.
  • Season 3 -
    • In "The Purple Piano Project" Kurt and Rachel in the car after seeing the other kids trying out for NYADA are awesome and worrying if they even have a chance was absolutely depressing. It turns out sweet, but it starts out tear jerking.
  • Puck seeing Beth for the first time in over a year becomes this the moment his face lights up.
  • When Mike Chang Sr. and Jr. are in Figgins' office, Mike seems concerned, but he's not freaking out. As soon as his dad says that he should quit Glee club, the look on Mike's face becomes heartbreaking.
  • The end of Asian F. Poor Emma...
    • Emma's scene, especially the shot of her compulsively rubbing her hands together, to be the most heartbreaking scene ever. She's made so much progress with her illness, and her disturbingly emotionally abusive parents just come in and tear her down in one swipe. Seeing her so completely broken and lost was awful, and the reflection of Emma praying as a little girl...
    • For that matter, Mike's story is Truth in Television for everyone who has ever had over-achieving parents.
      • Mike's mom promising to support him and Mike teaching her to dance was such a tearjerker. Not what I was expecting at all.
      • "The only time I feel special"...How many young artists have tried to explain that to their parents?
  • "Rachel, when you look back on high school in ten years, you won't be thinking about the clubs you were a part of or the parts you got. You'll be thinking about the friends you had and the ones you just tossed aside." Capped off by the look on Rachel's face, which seems to say "What have I done?"
  • "No, mummy, America's wonderful— I've made tons of new friends." Followed promptly by the phone being slapped from his ear by some passing jock.
    • It gets worse. He loses the connection after that.
  • "The First Time": "Then I guess I don't have a dad anymore."
    • Then when Mike performs, he glances at an empty seat next to his mother. His mother smiles encouragingly and that is all Mike needs.
    • Finn's complete breakdown when he's told by the recruiter that his football career is over, and then freaking out about how he's not a good enough quarterback or a good enough singer to get out of Lima.
      • It gets even worse when Rachel suggests having Their First Time after he tells her- it sounds like he thinks it's going to be pity sex, and he doesn't want that for their first time.
    • When they're making up after their fight, Kurt tells Blaine that he's proud of him. Blaine's response, of "I want you to be," is so choked and teary that it's almost like Kurt's the first person to tell him that. And considering Blaine's parents aren't even in town for his big opening night...
    • This one's kinda subtle, but when Rachel's asking for advice on whether to sleep with Finn, Tina's there. Brittany's there. Santana's there. Quinn is there, for crying out loud. But no Mercedes. Rachel points out they're currently "a house divided," but even Quinn and Santana were willing to come to her aid, but Mercedes, who used to have slumber parties with Rachel and Kurt and go on three way dates with her and Sam to Prom, isn't there during her time of need. Ouch.
    • Seeing Karofsky starting to accept himself and apologizing to Kurt is this and a heartwarming moment as well.
  • Almost anything Finn goes through in "Mash Off". Santana humiliates him so often.
    • On the other hand, the last five minutes of the episode are absolutely heartbreaking for Santana. No one deserves what happened to her, and the Adele mashup just made the entire scene even more painful.
    • Santana's face after Finn outs her. Even though later it's going to get so much worse, for that one moment, it's the absolute worst thing Santana can imagine happening (because even the worst pessimist could not have imagined the ad coming) and it's happening right then in a crowded, public hallway. All of her control over what is a very personal, very scary process was yanked out from under her and you can see every bit of that on her face. It's not even humiliation, like Finn is supposedly taking from her trash-talking. It's pure, animal fear, and it's gut-wrenching.
    • Something about the raw emotion in Santana's voice during 'Rumour Has It/Someone Like You' always gets to em, where it sounds like she is trying to use the song as an outlet about her feelings for Brittney - the I Want My Beloved to Be Happy mixed with that longing for her to be happy with her.
    • Santana after the ad in tears: I haven't even told my parents yet!
    • Rachel pledging her support to Kurt for class president and telling him she's realized that he's part of her New York dream.
    • Puck's "I used to think Beth was an accident, but now..." speech. He may want to hook up with Shelby, but his joy that his little girl has found a loving mother in Shelby is genuine.
    • Rory's treatment after the dodgeball game.
  • "I Kissed A Girl": Kurt looking close to tears when he discovers he might get suspended and he lost the election for class president.
    • Santana being kicked out of her grandmother's house after coming out.
    • Blaine telling Kurt to not give up hope.
    • Rachel getting suspended for one week for rigging the elections in the hopes that Kurt would win and getting banned from competing in Sectionals.
    • Beiste singing a tear inducing rendition of "Jolene" by Dolly Parton. The emotion she imbues the song with is absolutely heart-wrenching and gorgeous.
  • "Hold On To Sixteen": After New Directions runs offstage to celebrate, the Troubletones just stand there as all the lights go out on them, and they look absolutely heartbroken because of their loss. It's worse because at the end of "Survivor/I Will Survive", they all look so happy, and it's not impossible that they could actually win.
  • Rory's song during "Extraordinary Merry Christmas". "Blue Christmas" is the only sad moment in the whole episode. Combined with Rory's speech of how his parents can't come over to America and that this will be his first Christmas without, you'll be in tears.
    • It was especially tearjerking for some tropers as it is they're also on the other side of the world from their family and it will their first time away from their family from Christmas.
  • Finn learning in "Yes/No" that his father didn't die a war hero in Iraq, but came home a Shell-Shocked Veteran, left his family, and died from a drug overdose in Cincinnati. Between Carole bursting in tears as she tells him this, and Finn's own heartbroken reaction as he is forced to question everything he knew about his father, it was quite the soul-punch.
    • This became even worse with the fact that Cory Monteith died of a drug overdose. In a hotel room. Away from his family. After he had apparently succeeded with rehab, which Christopher Hudson also tried for the sake of his son.
    • Will's heartfelt proposal to Emma and her getting chocked up as she said yes jerked quite a few Tears of Joy from at least one viewer.
    • "I didn't ask him if [the reason he broke up with me] was because I had Down's. I didn't ask because I knew the answer was yes."
      • Oh, gosh yes - this and the scene where Becky is having catharsis ice cream and watching Lifetime with Sue in her office to feel better because she really liked Artie and is horribly disappointed by the breakup.
      • The fact that she said it in the Queen of England voice she uses for her voiceovers made it that much worse, since it drove home the fact that she can be what she wants in her own mind, but cold hard reality will always prove otherwise.
    • Emma's teary speech to Will when he asks her if she would be able to handle the messes that inevitably come with getting married. Jayma Mays was brilliantly heartbreaking in that scene.
  • "Michael": "Hi mommy!"
    • Blaine gets his first slushie in this episode. Perfectly normal right? Oh well now he's just a full member of the New Directions family - it is after all practically a rite of passage. Well, when it's thrown by Jerk Jocks it is. Instead, the Smug Snake new Warbler captain throws one at his boyfriend and, well, protective instincts go into gear. Well, you're saying, it's just a slushie, how bad could it be? Well when it's laced with rock salt to the point that it scratches his cornea bad enough he'll need surgery, it's pretty bad, and Blaine ends up on the ground moaning in the fetal position from the pain.
    • Rachel when she thinks that she didn't receive a NYADA letter. The poor girl was so looking forward to that, to the point that she's basically decided that without NYADA, the only thing she has that's worth living for is Finn.
  • "The Spanish Teacher": Puck saying that in ten years he sees himself in jail or dead. He's so out of hope for himself, it breaks my heart.
    • Made even worse in real life as Mark Salling committed suicide to avoid going to jail for possessing child pornography.
    • Will saying that Emma's pamphlets are stupid. She looks absolutely heartbroken.
  • Heart: "I Will Always Love You". Even if it wasn't right after Whitney Houston's death, it'd still be a tearjerker.
    • Seeing Sam's reaction to her singing is heartbreaking. He goes back and forth from being happy at seeing Mercedes and hearing her amazing rendition to being so heartbroken that he lost her and barely able to look at her to an almost catatonic blank stare at nothing.
    • The dedication to Whitney at the end.
    • Rory's singing "Home". Again for the tropers away from their families.
  • The beginning of On My Way, when Dave Karofsky tries to kill himself. And when his dad finds him.
    • Before that, Karofsky going into the locker room to find the other boys had spraypainted the word "FAG" across his locker. Cut to numerous shots of Dave going on Facebook to find so many hate messages, trying to listen to music to get his mind off it, and sobbing like you never thought David Karofsky ever would.
    • Kurt going to the Christian meeting and quietly telling Quinn off for daring to compare what Karofsky went through to what she went through, and cursing himself for ignoring Karofsky's 9+ calls after Valentine's Day.
    • Dave tells Kurt that Azimio won't go near him and that his own mom thinks he's diseased.
    • Quinn texting while driving and getting hit by a truck.
    • Sebastian's Heel–Face Turn. Turns out he had met Karofsky before at Scandals, and told him to stay in the closet, and he clearly feels horrible about it.
    "It's all fun and games until it isn't."
    • Sue blaming herself for not helping Karofsky when she was the principal at the time.
    • The quick cut away during that scene in the office when Sue says she can't stop thinking about Dave's father finding him. Normally quick cuts were comedic and silly, but this was officially the only Jump Scare Glee ever had.
      • There's a bit of Fridge Horror here too- I could be wrong, but I think this is the only time Sue's commentary has led to a quick cut like that. You have to wonder if she imagines the worst all the time.
  • A meta-example; Dave's attempted suicide isn't even mentioned in the "Previously On" montage in "Big Brother".
    • Pretty much the entirety of Blaine's relationship with his brother. Particularly during "Fighter" where he was trying so hard to stay strong but at one point looks like he's about to break down crying. Seriously, give this poor woobie a hug!
    • And let's absolutely not forget the duet, "Somebody That I Used To Know". Cooper breaks into tears during his verse at the end; forget the actual words he's singing, all you can hear is "I'm sorry".
  • From "Dance with Somebody," the scenes dealing with Kurt and Blaine's relationship. Particularly when Blaine finds the texts from Chandler to Kurt and the scene where he finally admits that he's not only upset that Kurt was getting cutesy texts from another guy, though that did make him upset; he's upset that Kurt's leaving and that it could be the end of their relationship.
    • One could only hope, since in the next season Blaine did the same, BEHIND KURT'S BACK, and kept justifying himself even after he was caught. And what could make it worse? It wasn't texts...
    • "Who's Chandler?" Blaine's face during that conversation just makes your heart hurt.
    • Quinn's face when Brittany tries to get her to dance in "Dance with Somebody". Becomes retroactively tearjerking when you realize that Quinn was hardly in the previous episode, which had a large focus on dancing, probably because the subject was too depressing for her.
    • In Emma's office, as soon as Blaine says and while we're being perfectly honest... until they make up and he hugs Kurt like he's afraid to let go. Made even sadder when you remember that Blaine transferred schools for the sole purpose of getting to spend more time with Kurt every day. And though the new directions has come to accept him as someone other than just Kurt's boyfriend, every single member of ND would still take Kurt's side no matter what. He doesn't have a true bond with anyone at that school other than Kurt, and Kurt is going away for college within a few weeks. Poor baby.
    • And this. "You're right, I have been distant...And I'm sorry. But I'm trying to practice what life is going to be like without you."
    • AAAND this. "I love you so much." "I love you, too."
    • Kurt's apology via "If I Don't Have You".
  • Choke is full of them.
    • Puck is convinced he's going to fail high school.
    • Rachel choked on her audition, and thinks she won't be getting into NYADA.
    "Please just give me one more chance! Please! Please..."
    • Beiste was beaten by Cooter. And even though everybody told her not to, she stayed with him because she's afraid nobody else will ever care for her.
  • Sam and Mercedes throughout the time spanning from his return, trying to get her back, her breaking up with Shane and still refusing to date him and them finally dating, particularly "I Will Always Love You"
  • Prom-asaurus is, for the most part, a fairly funny, non-tearjerking episode. Except for one part - Becky talking to Puck about how badly she wanted to be Prom Queen. She just wanted it so badly your heart hurts for her - and then when he crowns her and himself king and queen of the anti-prom and escorts her to the dance himself, you start crying harder but this time it's because of how awesome that is! Becky's sheer joy of being at the Prom with a crown on her head and a hot date is all kinds of tear inducingly adorable.
  • "Props," when Puck breaks down in Beiste's arms about how he feels worthless. Beiste subtly reveals that she's in the same boat as Puck is because of Cooter's abuse:
    "You and me, we're badasses. Nobody thinks anything hurts us. But it does. It does..."
  • The sneak preview to "Goodbye" is sad in of itself because it features the cast talking about how they're going to have to close a chapter in their lives now. Everybody cried a lot during the filming of that episode.
    • From the actual episode, only Rachel made it into NYADA. Kurt was denied.
    • Brittany couldn't graduate.
    • Finn and Rachel broke up. Even if you hated their coupledom, it was still a heartbreaking scene.
    • That episode's final song because of the breakup.
    • And the fact that it was the last time the entire original cast were together on camera.

    Seasons 4 - 6 
  • Season 4 premiere "The New Rachel". Marley's mom is willing to keep their relationship a secret and sew J Crew tags on top of Wal-Mart clothing just so that the other kids think she's cool, because in her last school she didn't have any friends, then Sam eventually telling her he knows her mom does that because his did as well.
    • While any scene with Marley and her mother takes the cake for tear jerking in this episode, one also has to mention the scene of Burt Hummel dropping off his son at the airport to follow his dreams of the bright lights and big city. Just seeing his break down crying but trying to keep Kurt from noticing because his son is all grown up and leaving the nest is just so touching - especially the part where he tells Kurt that if he doesn't like New York, he can always come home, only to say to just himself that he knows Kurt won't before starting to cry. Let it never be said that Burt Hummel doesn't love his son!
  • Blaine trying to get a hold of Kurt to let him know about his election as class president - only to have the phone silenced by Kurt on the other end who's having drinks with his new boss at - then sitting down and defeatedly explaining to Sam that, yes, he may have won the presidency, but the whole reason he's even there in the first place is Kurt, so he feels like he doesn't really fit in or belong there now. He just seems so alone and dejected in that scene.
  • Blaine and Kurt's fight in Battery Park during "The Break Up", leading into the "Don't Speak" quartet with Finn and Rachel. The fact that they spent almost two years together only for them to end like this, with Blaine admitting cheating was just... ouch.
    • Blaine's slow, heartbreaking reprise of "Teenage Dream", in which he nearly breaks down in tears.
    • The entirety of "The Break Up", for that matter, since all the official couples that ran through the series came to an end (except maybe Will and Emma).
    • And to put icing on the cake, the episode ends with "The Scientist" by Coldplay by the couples, but the performance ends with Finn onstage alone, confused, and directionless.
      • Oh, you cannot mention The Scientist without mentioning the montage during the number: You know the one that starts with Rachel and Finn's first date and kiss, leads into Lea Michele's gorgeous belting of "I'm going back to the start," and then goes into the very beginnings of all of the couples: Blaine and Kurt in the hallway at Dalton holding hands when they first met, Will and Emma's first kiss, Santana and Brittany on their first Valentine's Day as an official couple being adorable in the choir room... Seriously, thanks to this episode, my tear ducts may never function properly again!
      • Watching that scene again, with the knowledge that Cory Monteith and Lea Michele were dating for over a year when Cory suddenly died makes that scene even worse.
    • Also, when Finn met up with Will for the first time in months, then threw his arms around him and sobbed uncontrollably in light of everything that has happened to him. OH. MY. GOD.
  • In "Glease", Unique being forced to drop out of the play by her parents, after she fought so hard to get the role of Rizzo. She can only bare to come watch during "There Are Worse Things I Could Do", which was supposed to be her song, and isn't seen afterwards.
    • Marley going bulimic after Kitty's manipulations. Plus her sheer terror of becoming big like her mother.
    • The sheer awkwardness between Kurt, Blaine, Rachel, and Finn when they run into each other because Kurt and Rachel came from New York to see the show was heartwrenching to see, considering how close they'd all been before. Not to mention the subsequent fights between the two sets of now exes, and Kurt and Rachel both proclaiming McKinley is no longer "home".
  • In "Dynamic Duets", Ryder's breakdown after being tested for his dyslexia.
    • The Flashback to Blaine after he was implied to have slept with Eli. Within seconds he goes from "what have I done" to "I can't believe I did that" to "how am I going to tell Kurt". The poor guy knows how bad he screwed up, and it's pretty clear that he hates himself for letting it happen.
  • In "Thanksgiving", Marley collapses on stage because she's been depriving herself of food in hopes of fitting into her sectionals dress.
  • In "Swan Song", Marley fainting on stage leads to the New Directions being disqualified from Sectionals and Sue taking the choir room.
    • Also, while the scene is a Moment of Awesome for Kurt, there is a Fridge Tear Jerker afterwards. After Rachel's two solos, you see her accepting the applause like a professional who has done it a million times (which, in truth, she has). After Kurt's surprise audition, he gets a standing ovation for his performance of "Being Alive", and he starts crying onstage. He's so overwhelmed because, due to continuously being bullied in McKinley and overlooked in the New Directions, he's never had everyone cheering for him before.
  • In "Glee, Actually," Artie's It's a Wonderful Plot dream had a couple such moments, namely Quinn dying after never recovering from her accident (turns out texting while driving was a bad habit of hers rather than an isolated incident), and Kurt still being a bullied outcast.
    Kurt: Who's Blaine?
    • Double tearjerker for Quinn's death as it wasn't a quick death. The accident broke her, leaving her a breathing husk. Quinn Fabray died at the scene. The rest of her took a while to catch up.
  • "I Do" has Emma running away at the altar.
    • As well as the revelation that Brody might be a prostitute, and Rachel had a pregnancy scare because of him.
      • How about "We've Got Tonight"? Not only is the song about lost loves uniting for one final night together, but this was the final song Cory Monteith & Lea Michele sang together before he died.
  • The end of 'Girls (and Boys) on Film" has Finn demand that Will punch him as punishment for kissing Emma. Because Finn still has such low self esteem that he (somewhat rightfully) blames himself for the entirety of the previous episode's drama and is no longer worthy of being Will's friend.
    • Also the Come What May sequence. Especially the flashbacks to the first time Kurt and Blaine met and the first time they had sex. As well as the reveal that it was all a daydream taking place in Kurt's mind while watching Moulin Rouge. Then they really drive it home at the end of the episode when Kurt reveals that while he's still in love with Blaine, he desperately wants to be over him. The poor shippers' hearts.
  • The lead up to Blaine trying to hide that he has feelings for Sam, with the mournful looks in Sadie Hawkins to the discussions in Naked to the eventual reveal in Guilty Pleasures.
    • Most of the Blam heart to hearts, like the Brittana or Quinchel ones, are heartfelt and sweet.
  • "Shooting Star". Oh where do we begin? A gun goes off at school, trapping most of the club in the choir room. Most, but not all. Brittany is stuck standing on top of a toilet by herself in the bathroom for most of the experience, and Tina is stuck on the outside and can't contact any of her friends. Nobody knows if any of the others parties are even alive. Sam tries several times to break out of the choir room and save Brittany, and Will basically has to put him in a headlock to keep him from endangering everyone. Then it turns out that Becky had brought the gun to school because she was scared for her safety, and when she showed it to Sue and Sue tried to take it it went off. So Sue covers for Becky, says that it was her gun, and is summarily fired.
    • There's also that moment when Marley calls her mother, since the kitchen doesn't have a back way out. Her phone's across the room from her, and so she can't pick up. Eventually, Marley hangs up, and you can see both her and her mother assuming the worst.
  • "Sweet Dreams":
    • After getting advice from Finn (in what would turn out to be Cory Monteith's final episode) on what song to audition with for "Funny Girl", Rachel goes back to her roots for a solo take on "Don't Stop Believin'", imagining the rest of Glee with her in their Pilot costumes. The Tear Jerker comes into play when you realize this was the second and final time the original six sang together, a heartbreaking case of coming full circle.
    • While "I Do" was the final time Cory and Lea were on camera together, the above conversation was the final time the two had a scene together period.
  • "All or Nothing":
    • Ryder to Unique, aka Katie: "I'm not going to punch you. But I'm never talking to you again."
    • Brittany's teary eyed goodbye to the club as she tells them about her MIT early admission and how much she'll miss them, because they're her family.
    • A little moment in that scene. The only person there that she forgets to mention is Kurt. Imagine what he would be feeling.
    • A line she says in her speech as well is also a major hit in the gut considering how many people previously felt that Brittany was rather oblivious to her being The Ditz;
    Brittany: My entire life, people have always told me that I was stupid and after a while I started to believe them.
    • A meta example: This was one of the last things Patty Duke appeared in before her death in 2016.
  • "Love Love Love"
    • Rachel singing "Yesterday" after her audition didn't go quite the way she wanted, especially when you realize it was the first song Lea recorded for the show after Cory's death.
    • "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" is quite tear-inducing. It's obviously pretty sad for Artie, given that Kitty has told him that their relationship has to stay secret, but if you look closely at Kitty, you can tell that she's not enjoying this any more than Artie is. She doesn't want to hide their relationship, but she feels like she has no other choice.
    • Blaine's proposal to Kurt. The whole performance of "All You Need Is Love" was stunning, but his speech really takes the cake. Many reviewers, fans, non-fans and non-shippers have admitted to tearing up. And of course the characters were in tears.
  • Just the trailer for "The Quarterback" sent the fandom into a tailspin of emotion, particularly Will holding Rachel while she cries and Kurt sobbing into Finn's letterman jacket. One could imagine the episode itself will be 40-some minutes of nonstop tearjerker.
    • It is. From start to finish. From Kurt, Burt, and Carole going through Finn's things, to Santana breaking down in the middle of 'If I Die Young' and refusing any of the comforting hands of her friends, to Puck singing to an empty chair, to Rachel's mere arrival at the school, let alone her song and her memorial, to Will finally breaking down at the very end.
    • Rachel's performance of "Make You Feel My Love" itself is enough to make you teary-eyed, not to mention the very, very real emotion that is poured into it. (her voice basically broke halfway through, god knows how she managed to finish that song without sobbing on the floor)
    • A more subtle tearjerker is when Puck and Shannon discuss the memorial tree. Puck says, "In fifty years, this tree is gonna be thirty feet tall and kids are gonna be making out under it, but they won't have any idea who Finn Hudson was." A sad reminder that when you die, no matter how many people mourn, the world will keep spinning without you, and eventually even the people whose memories you live on in will be gone.
    • Puck mentioning that Finn's whole life is now only a line between two years (1994 - 2013).
    • The Glee rendition of "Seasons of Love" is very efficient in setting the mood for the tribute episode.
    • Really, the simple fact of knowing that, other than saying character names, plus a couple of scenes to move the "plot" along, the actors are not acting, that the tears and feelings they're expressing are completely genuine, is enough to hit you in the gut - Like mentioned above, getting choked up and starting to cry during 'Seasons of Love' seems to be extremely common, and it only got more painful from there.
    • Retroactively, "Let It Be" from the end of the previous episode becomes a lot more heartbreaking after the events of "The Quarterback".
    • At the beginning of the episode we hear Kurt talking about Finn, and we see that he has his and his brother's high school graduation photo in his bedroom in his apartment - but he only keeps it out when he's positive Rachel won't come in. Cut to him calling into Rachel's room to let her know he's leaving. It's pretty much implied she's depressed to the point of not coming out of her room.
    • Special mention goes to Carole's speech. It especially hit home for any parents watching the show.
    Carole: How do parents go on when they lose a child? You know, when I would see that stuff on the news, I'd turn it off cause it was too horrible to think, but I would always think "How do they wake up every day? How do they breathe?". But you do it, though. And for just a second, you forget. And then, oh, you remember. And it's like getting that call again and again, every time. You don't get to stop waking up. You have to keep on being a parent even though you don't get to have a child anymore.
    • The revelation at the end that Will stole Finn's jacket. It gets worse when he breaks down sobbing into it. Not just a few tears, but the gut-wrenching sobs of someone whose heart has been broken.
  • "A Katy or A Gaga"
    • Marley and Jake have a fight over Marley's refusal to sleep with him, after which it's implied that he went and slept with Bree. Marley doesn't know yet, but it's not hard to imagine the turn things will take when she finds out.
  • "The End of Twerk"
    • "If I Were a Boy" and the events leading up to it - Unique, a trans girl, is verbally attacked when she uses the girls' washroom but when she uses the male one she is physically threatened - abuse she's been dealing with endlessly for a long time. During her performance she bursts into tears. The whole Glee club was crying with her.
    • Marley's emotional rendition of "Wrecking Ball" near the end of the episode
  • "Previously Unaired Christmas"
    • Kitty spends the majority of the episode coldly brushing off Marley's attempts to help her get the role of the Virgin Mary in the school's live-action Nativity Scene, only to ruthlessly snark at Marley when the latter ends up with the role. When Marley asks why she's acting that way, Kitty confesses that she actually did want the role, but after everything she'd done to Marley and others, she didn't feel deserving of it.
      • Especially sad to hear how she's not good enough to play the virgin when you remember that the only sexual experience she has is when she was sexually assaulted as a child.
  • Sam quietly dealing with his body issues over the years, coming to a head in Naked (especially heartbreaking because it is relatable and for someone so seemingly perfect to have those issues is awful to see)
  • The New Directions dedicating their set at Regionals (s5) to Finn, especially when Carole figures out they're performing all his favourite songs.
    • They lose Regionals, forcing Sue to pull their funding. (Something she makes very clear she'd rather not do.)
  • The episode "New Directions" was filled with tearjerkers.
    • Glee Club is, for the time being, officially over and there's no chance of them bouncing back this time.
    • The final performance of Don't Stop Believing, the show's Signature Song/Bootstrapped Theme. It starts with the original five then slowly growing to include nearly everyone who was ever in New Directions except for those who are no longer around.
    • For fans of the newbies their final scene in the choir room was extremely touching. They were mostly dispersed to different schools by the time Rachel manages to reform the club. Marley doesn't even appear at the auditorium rededication that takes place years later.
    • The video Artie and Holly made for Will featuring the glee club leaving touching and moving messages for his future child. (And it's followed immediately by the aforementioned performance of "Don't Stop Believin'".)
    • Will bowing to an empty choir room while we hear the voices of New Directions from their Season One Finale. Hearing Cory's voice while Will leaves for the last time is absolutely heartbreaking.
    • Rachel's face while Puck and Quinn are singing to each other. She's obviously thinking of Finn.
  • After Kurt is gay bashed, everyone's reactions to getting that dreaded phone call are heartbreaking. Also heartbreaking is Kurt's father Burt's reaction to it in the hospital. A different kind of tear jerking can be found later, when a fresh out of the hospital and wound covered Kurt triumphantly sings 'I'm Still Here' to a cheering crowd.
  • In the happiest sense of the term, in "Opening Night" Will and Emma welcome their first child, whom they have named Daniel Finn.
  • In "The Untitled Rachel Berry Project", Sam's reaction to being sexually coerced by a female photographer is heartbreaking. When she's photographing him wearing very little clothing, she corners him and makes sexually charged comments about his body, and after he tells her he doesn't want to because he loves his girlfriend, she tells him he'll be fired if he doesn't do what she says and then she kisses him. We later find out that after the kiss he broke down sobbing and she continued to take photos of him. Of course Sam doesn't understand what happened so he breaks down in front of Mercedes (his girlfriend) and confesses to "cheating" on her. After hearing the full story she assures him he didn't.
  • "Loser Like Me":
    • Learning that everything has gone straight to hell since the end of Season 5: Rachel's TV show? It tanked...hard! Also, her dads got divorced and her old house is being sold. Blaine's marriage to Kurt? Not only did it not happen, but Kurt and Blaine broke up again. Also, Blaine dropped out of NYADA and went back to Dalton. On the McKinley end, remember how Sue shut down the New Directions after the Nationals loss? Well, she not only shut them down, she forced the former members to transfer to other schools, meaning if you grew attached to any of those characters, you can forget about seeing them again.
    • Kitty's justification for why they won't be seen again is also tear-jerkery. She reminds the alumni that after all the founding members graduated they forgot about her and the others - not that they bothered to get to know them very well in the first place. Furthermore, Artie dumped her almost immediately after graduation. So, yeah, they have no interest in even trying to help Rachel rebuild the club. Heartbreaking considering how much these characters grew when they were in the club, only to find out that it was never really there for them in the first place.
    • Dave as Blaine's rebound. You just know that with it being the final season and Ryan Murphy going for the "happily ever after" ending, the poor guy doesn't stand a chance. And instead of being jealous of Kurt, he's extremely nice and welcoming and wants them all to be friends.
      • Confirmed as of "Transitioning." And he's still a great big teddy bear about it.
  • In "The Hurt Locker", Rachel tries to talk Kitty into rejoining the club, only for Kitty to respond that the club used to be full of people she knew would have her back and now it's just filled with people she doesn't even know and who don't know her. It's pretty clear that the loss of the club hit her much harder than she previously let on.
  • In "What the World Needs Now", Santana's abuela continued to reject her for being gay, even after her fiancee Brittany worked hard to reach out to her. Santana acts like she doesn't care in front of her abuela, but as soon as she leaves, she curls into Brittany's side looking defeated and exhausted.
  • In "2009", the first half of the finale, we spend most of the episode watching the original cast come together for the first time. On its own, that would be enough, being reminded of how insecure and desperate they all were (Kurt is even shown leafing through a pamphlet about suicide). Then, at the end, we see Mr. Schue walking into the hallway, and the coloring of the shot changes just slightly. And that's when you know what's coming: a re-airing of "Don't Stop Believing" from the pilot.
  • Of course the Grand Finale, "Dreams Come True" was going to be tearjerking. Especially with "I Lived", what with every single person involved in the glee club from day one gathering for one last song, ending on a shot of the new plaque dedicating the Finn Hudson Auditorium with the words, "See the world not as it is, but as it should be." Glee in a nutshell, as is its final words... "With every broken bone, I swear, I lived".

  • The death of Cory Monteith. At first, it was unclear what exactly happened at the time but three days later, his autopsy report confirmed that he had died of a heroin and alcohol overdose.
    • It seemed almost all the cast and crew first learned the news via Twitter, about the worst way possible.
  • Just a few weeks later Glee won "Best Comedy" at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards and the cast dedicated the win to the fans on behalf of their "brother" Cory. Later that night, his girlfriend Lea Michele won "Best Actress", appearing onstage, putting on a brave face and smiling through tears as she dedicated her award to Cory:
    "I just wanted to be here today to personally thank all of you and tell everyone out here how much all of your love and support had meant to me over these past few weeks. Not that I had any doubt before, but we certainly do have the greatest fans in the world. I want to dedicate this award to Cory. For all of you out there who loved Cory as much as I did - I promise you, we’ll get through this together. He was very special to me and also to the world, and we were very lucky to witness his incredible talent, his handsome smile and his beautiful, beautiful heart. So whether you knew him personally or as Finn Hudson, he reached out and became a part of all of our hearts. So thank you guys so much.”
  • After Monteith's death, many Gleeks had a realization that the first number the original six performed together (the half-finished Grease number doesn't count) was also the last: "Don't Stop Believing" in the pilot and again in "Sweet Dreams" when Rachel imagines them backing her up during her "Funny Girl" audition. An odd case of Book-Ends, but it seems oddly touching.
  • Lea Michele being such a sweetheart that not only did she face the barrage of photographers waiting for her outside in LA on the first anniversary of Cory's death but she did so selflessly because that's the day she found out that co-star Becca Tobin's (Kitty) boyfriend was found dead in his hotel room a few days earlier and she wanted to go comfort and be with her. Some fans were so touched, and also sad at how heart wrenching the news on that day must have been for her, that they cried in posts on the internet.
  • Although a few lines in "The Quarterback" had most of fandom assuming this anyways, Ryan Murphy's reveal at the end of 2013 what the final scene of the show was meant to be:
    Some time in the future. Rachel has made it on Broadway and Finn has happily found his calling as a teacher. Rachel walks into Finn's glee club.
    Finn: What are you doing here?
    Rachel: I'm home.
    Fade to black. The end.
  • This tribute to the show, made shortly after its finale.
  • The downfall of Mark Salling culminating in a series of sexual assault and child pornography charges and his eventual suicide, particularly after Puck's sketchy pedophile plots.
  • Lea Michele being accused of racist behavior on set by some of the show's black stars during the BLM movement in 2020, and even the stars defending her saying she was at best sometimes unpleasant to work with. A good few did just not comment, though.
  • And then there's Naya Rivera's death on July 8th, 2020. Her son was found unharmed on her boat, Naya’s lifejacket and identification left behind. After several days of searching and the hopes of fans, Rivera's body was found on July 13th. The cause of death was accidental drowning at only 33. If that wasn't bad enough, her last actions were saving her son's life but at the cost of her own.
    • Even more chilling: Rivera's body was found and identified on the seventh anniversary of Monteith's death.
    • As many have noted, her performance on the show of "If I Die Young" is even more heart-breaking to watch now.


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