Follow TV Tropes

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

Following

Tearjerker / Heathers

Go To

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


The Movie

  • During the party scene, both Heather and Veronica get moments by themselves when they let their guard down. It's heartbreaking to watch such beautiful girls engage in such destructive behaviour. First Heather performs fellatio on a guy she clearly has no interest in beyond being an older man, then washes out her mouth and spits at her own reflection; she's angry at herself rather than at him. Then Veronica, also angry at herself, lights her drink on fire and sticks her hand in it. Anyone with experience of Self-Harm can relate to the depression, anxiety, and self-loathing that lead to this type of behaviour.
  • Advertisement:
  • Heather Chandler's scene echoes well with her earlier supposed Badass Boast: "Like I give a shit what anyone thinks. Everyone wants me either as a friend or a fuck!" Except that people only want those things from her as a way of boosting their own social reputation. Hell, even Veronica. Nobody really cares about what she wants or who she is. Unlike in the play, this strongly implies that Veronica's fake suicide note for her hit pretty close to home.
  • As funny as the quote is, seeing Ram's dad break down as he says "I love my dead gay son" is pretty heartbreaking. It sort of seems like he might have some latent homophobia, but it's clearly outweighed by his despair over his child's death.
    • And a little bit afterwards, when Veronica laughs during the funeral (something JD said), a little girl hears and looks at Veronica...with tears in her eyes and nose running. It's unknown what kind of relation she has to either Ram or Kurt, but the look on her face causes Veronica to freeze up.
  • When Veronica fake hangs herself and J.D. walks in, it's the only death that actually rattles him. Somewhat a subversion since he snuck into her room to do the deed himself, but he made it clear he only wanted to should he have failed to win her back.
    • Veronica's mother's reaction, too, when she pleads with her daughter and berates herself. She's been mostly cool towards Veronica up to this point, but you can see how devastated she is.
  • Advertisement:
  • In a weird and twisted way, J.D.'s final stand with Veronica at the boiler room. Most other movies would show such a confrontation as an intense, suspenseful, and epic one. This movie does not. Instead it's played with sorrow and bleakness, and a little tragic as well. The way Jason depravedly rants about how Westerburg will be remembered as a reflection of society, almost in a tone that sounds like he's trying to win back Veronica. This along with the depressing music playing in the background, it comes off less disturbing and intense, and more just plain sad to see someone just go far off the deep end like that.
  • Martha's failed suicide in the middle of the movie. While not as developed in the musical, the way it not only shows how painful she looks afterwards, but that fact that almost everyone just laughs it off and/or flatly ignores it just goes to show how freaking cold and mean this movie was. Heather's comments in particular.
    Get crucial, she dialed suicide hotlines in her diapers. Is that pate?
  • Advertisement:
  • Heather Duke's bulimia is heavily implied to be at the very least worsened- if not outright caused- by Heather Chandler's verbal abuse of her.
  • Real life example: Kim Walker's death due to brain cancer in 2001, only thirteen years after Heathers came out. She never got to see what the film became to so many people, and never got to see the musical it became. She left behind a wonderful career, but it's still a tragedy. "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?" indeed.
  • Heather McNamara's breakdown in the bathroom, especially when she admits that if everyone else jumped off a bridge, she would too, especially the way she's clearly aware of how goddamn sad that is. She isn't saying it because she thinks it's normal, she's just aware she can't stand up to peer pressure.

The Musical

  • "Beautiful" is certainly catchy, and takes a turn for the uplifting at some points, but much of the early song with Veronica's desperate optimism juxtaposed against the cruelty of her classmates is just heartbreaking, especially for people who have experience bullying themselves, whether back then or now. It's even worse when it shows that she, her tormentors, and even the teachers are Not So Different:
    Veronica: Dear diary: Why...?
    Hipster Dork: Why do they hate me?
    Young Republicanette: Why don't I fight back?
    Kurt: Why do I act like such a creep?
    Veronica: Why...?
    Martha: Why won't he date me?
    Ram: Why did I hit him?
    Students and Ms. Fleming: Why do I cry myself to sleep?
    Veronica: Why...?!
    Students: Somebody hug me! Somebody fix me! Somebody save me! Give me a sign, God! GIVE ME SOME HOPE HERE! SOMETHING TO LIVE FOR...!
  • Happy tears can happen during the end of "Beautiful." The combination of the triumphant key change and Veronica's Adorkable joy at finally being accepted, with everyone cheering her name.
  • The original "Fight For Me" can be pretty heartbreaking too, on a second listen. It's such a raw out-pouring of emotion from Veronica, and we know that she is going to get everything she wants so desperately, only to have it turn out horribly...if only the person to hold her hand and fight for her hadn't decided to do so by killing anyone who makes her feel bad. Even "I would fight for you if you would fight for me" foreshadows her role in their relationship to come - seeing as she gives him a chance and tries to get him to come to his senses up until one last-straw proof of him being incapable of seeing anything wrong with his actions, and even after he goes off the deep end, she tries appeal to him with sympathy to talk him down from blowing up the school, and tries to talk him down again from blowing himself up. She's in his corner and willing to fight to stay with him... up until he fails to return the favor and fight to stay with her the ways he actually needs to.
  • A lot of the song “Freeze Your Brain” not so subtly implies that JD isn’t okay//.
    • He talks about how he constantly moves around and 7-Eleven is the only constant thing in his life because they’re all over America.
    “I’ve been through ten high schools, they start to get blurry, no point planting roots ‘cause you’re gone in a hurry.
    My dad keeps two suitcases packed in the den so it’s only a matter of when.
    I don’t learn the names, don’t bother with faces, all I can trust is this concrete oasis.
    Seems every time I’m about to despair, there’s a 7-Eleven right there!
    Each store is the same from Las Vegas to Boston! Linoleum aisles that I love to get lost in!”
    • He also mentions that his mom is dead and that he’s learned the truth about the world and had to grow up too fast.
    “When mom was alive, we lived halfway normal, now it’s just me and my dad, we’re less formal. I learned to cook pasta, I learned to pay rent, learned the world doesn’t owe you a cent!”
    • Not to mention that he flat out uses slushees as a substitute for drugs and brain freezes as self destructive behavior.
    “Happiness comes when everything numbs, who needs cocaine?”
    [...]
    Freeze your brain
    Shatter your skull
    Fight pain with more pain
    Forget who you are
    Unburden your load
    Forget in six weeks
    You'll be back on the road
    When the voice in your head
    Says you're better off dead
    Don't open a vein!
    Just freeze your brain
  • The prank the Heathers had in mind for Martha is just cruel. Firstly they tricked her into attending the party by bullying Veronica into forging a love letter from Ram, whom Martha has been in love with since Kindergarten. Then Heather McNamara announces they're going to play hit the piñata and nominates Martha, blindfolding her. The crowd starts chanting Martha's name as Heather Duke brings out the Razorback mascot, a pig - which has been dressed up to look like Martha, complete with her name on it. Thank god Veronica jumped in to intervene when she did.
  • The first verse of "Our Love is God," where J.D. attempts to comfort a crying Veronica after what Kurt and Ram did. It's one of the only times we see J.D. act like a normal, loving boyfriend, and it's touching... and heartbreaking if you've seen the movie and you know that J.D.'s idea of getting revenge on Kurt and Ram involves murder.
    • Kurt's immediate reaction to Ram being shot? "You killed my best friend!"

  • In a milder sense, the scene at J.D.'s house when Veronica meets "Big Bud" Dean. Anyone with a parent like that (or a friend with a parent like that) can probably relate to Veronica's discomfort and J.D.'s embarrassment, and knows what a crappy situation it is to be in.
  • J.D.'s backstory.
    Veronica: J.D., how did your mother die?
    J.D.: You really wanna know?
    Veronica: Yeah.
    J.D. My dad said it was an accident, but... she knew what she was doing. She walked into that building two minutes before Dad blew it up. She waved at me out the window, and then... kaboom. She left me.
    (long, heavy pause)
    Veronica: ...I'm really sorry, I—
    J.D.: It's okay. The pain gives me clarity; you and I are special! We have a lot of work to do.
    Veronica: What work?
    J.D.: Making the world a decent place for people who are decent!
    Veronica: When does it end?
    J.D.: WHEN EVERY ASSHOLE IS DEAD!
    • Even with Veronica, the only person he really cares for or trusts, JD doesn't seem able to talk about his mother's suicide without breaking down in his own emotionally-maladjusted way. Some performances seem to indicate that he's not even fully aware of his Suddenly SHOUTING!.
    • JD's penchant for leaving suicide notes at his killing sometimes seems to go beyond a simple need to cover his tracks. In light of what happened to his mother, it seems more like he's lashing out at someone. His mother for leaving him? Society in general for being bad enough that people are driven to suicide? Either possibility is pretty horrible.
    • And then it's followed by "Seventeen." The first listen alone can make you cry from the sheer emotion behind the song, but any subsequent listens are worse when you know J.D.'s promises to Veronica don't stick - and when you realize that he may not have even intended to make them. As a comment made on this video points out, all J.D. really does is repeat Veronica's words back to her, making it seem like he's agreeing and seeing the error of his ways when in retrospect, the only thing he's making a real effort to do is maintain Veronica's faith in him, fixate on the affirmations of love she's giving him while brushing off the reasons she wants him to take them to heart, and/or concur that it would be nice if things were normal. If.
  • "Let us be seventeen, if we've still got the right!" The harmony will get you every time...
  • "People hurt us..." "Or they vanish..." "And you're right, it really blows."
    • Especially when you remember what happened to J.D.'s mom.
  • "Lifeboat." Really drives home the fact that Heather McNamara is a generally good person who's following a bad crowd...and she knows it. She can't say "no" to the popular kids because she knows they'll turn on her if she does, and she's terrified of being alone.
    Everyone's pushing!
    Everyone's fighting!
    Storms are approaching, there's nowhere to hide!
    If I say the wrong thing, or I wear the wrong outfit
    THEY'LL THROW ME RIGHT OVER THE SIDE!
    • Blink and you might miss it, but she never does say "full of my friends". It's always "full of people I know," and she only refers to Heather Duke as "The Captain"
  • Catchy as it is, the reprise of "Shine a Light" where Heather McNamara imagines the other students, led by Heather Duke, taunting and goading her to commit suicide hits extremely hard when one considers all the awful things they're saying, even if they may not be too out of character from Heather Duke for example, are really Heather berating herself. Made worse in the staging, where Heather is visibly crying as they mock her.
    Heather Duke:You don't deserve to live!
    Students: Why not kill yourself?
    Heather Duke: Here, have a sedative!
    * "Kindergarten Boyfriend" is enough to make you feel guilty for laughing at Martha in earlier scenes.
    • The live performances really make it worse. On those last few notes, she spreads her arms out and begins to fall backwards... and then the theater just blacks out, and you suddenly realize what just happened. She survives, but Veronica visiting her in the hospital and seeing her unconscious was still devastating, however brief it was.
      • Often during live performances, the Tearjerker nature of the song hits even earlier. It starts out fairly funny, but then Martha suddenly sings the line "Some boys are only meant for kindergarten, some girls are meant to be alone" and then the song just stops for a moment and the reality of how Martha thinks of her situation just suddenly sinks in until you feel bad for even finding the song funny until that point. It's not uncommon to hear audiences have some kind of an emotional reaction to that line.
      • Before this, Veronica finally tells Martha about her forging Ram's letter to her, and Martha lets out a shocked, heartbroken "What?" before sadly walking away.
  • Creepy as J.D.'s mood-swinging during "Meant To Be Yours" is, the part where he believes Veronica killed herself is heart-breaking.
    Oh my God. No. Veronica...
    Please don't leave me alone.
    You were all I could trust.
    I can't do this alone...
    • The entire thing is one. Between Veronica hiding from someone she deeply cared for because he's dangerously psychotic and J.D. being absolutely genuine through the entire thing, not seeming to realize that he's completely gone insane and is scaring Veronica. It's a creepy and tragic spin on it.
  • At least one regional production upped the creepiness and tragedy of "Meant to be Yours," by having J.D. briefly hold his gun to his head with a downright broken expression when he talks about Veronica leaving him. At this point, it becomes clear to the audience that there is no way this can turn out that allows both of them to live.
  • "I wish your mom had been a little stronger. I wish she'd stayed around a little longer. I wish your dad were good! I wish grown-ups understood! I wish we'd met before they convinced you life is war! I wish you'd come with me..." "I wish I had more TNT!"
    • The live version makes it worse. On the soundtrack, Veronica sounds angry, but live, she sounds sympathetic for J.D.
    • Similarly, J.D.'s response, "I wish I had more TNT!" is an angry growl on the soundtrack, but live, his voice breaks, as if he's about to cry.
    • From the beginning, this scene is tragic; Veronica confronts J.D. and orders him to step away from the bomb. You'd think he would be happy to see her alive, or at least comment on it. Instead, he just taunts her about how there are worse bombs upstairs before the two fight for the fate of the students. This is the guy who earlier cried at her "corpse" and asked Ms. Flemming for a tribute before attempting mass-murder. The J.D. Veronica loved is too far gone, and her futile attempts to get him back are all the more depressing.
    • Recent versions of the show have made it slightly worse, with Veronica's lines through this sections being interspersed with JD angrily telling Veronica to shut up about his mother, either because A) he doesn't want to hear anything that would cause his petty morals to keep him from his "purpose", B) because he knows Veronica is right, with the undertone of his awareness that his mother would probably be ashamed of him, or C) because he's finally forced to come to terms with the fact that Veronica is not on his side, and that she's willing to say anything she believes will get him to stop.
  • "...Say hi to God."
    • To clarify: the movie tried to play JD's death off as just a badass moment for Veronica. In the musical it's much more emotional. JD still cares enough about Veronica to trade his life for hers. Veronica still cares enough about JD to beg him not to do it ("Not this way!"), and give him those last parting words.
    • There's a couple ways to interpret those words. "I hope there's someplace you can find that will finally let you be at peace." Or "I'm sorry someone made the world so screwed up that it's come to this." Or even "Too bad it couldn't have worked out for us here."
    • One of the things JD says before his death...
    JD: You were right about me. I destroy things, just like my dad. I don't want you to turn out like my mom.
  • "Are there any happy endings?" Especially jarring since Martha was The Pollyanna at the beginning at the show.

  • The Cut Song, "Fight For Me (Reprise)".
    If you go on like this, you'll lose your soul...
  • "I Say No" from the West End production, though also an Awesome Moment for Veronica, is also a sadly realistic portrayal of someone choosing to leave an abusive relationship. Some highlights include...
    • Veronica's summary of her and JD's relationship:
    You are a drug
    You are a poison pill
    I've got to kick this habit now or else I never will
    I love the rush
    When you would hold me close
    But you will not be satisfied until I overdose!

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report