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Tear Jerker / Hell's Kitchen

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Moments on the show

  • Larry's withdrawal due to illness in Season 2. It was the first elimination for medical reasons in the show's history, and it's hard to watch Larry talk about how he's losing his chance at his dream due to reasons outside of his control.
    Larry: I didn't quit. My body quit.
  • From Season 2, Rachel's run after Heather was assigned to the blue team is heartbreaking as well. She began to struggle more, and tended to put herself down a lot more. One moment in particular that stands out as after she gets ice after barely managing to convince the other customers to pay for it, she ends up tripping and breaking one of the bags.
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  • Aaron's withdrawal in Season 3. When he gets the call that he can't come back into Hell's Kitchen, he just replies with a defeated "okay".
  • Season 3, Episode 9. The episode before, Julia was eliminated and Ramsay had promised her she's off to culinary school. What's going on with everyone else? Bonnie is heartbroken that she had to put up her close friend to be eliminated and is hugging Jen. Rock? He's sitting alone, hitting his head with a fist in dismay because Julia was such a Worthy Opponent to him.
    • The end of that episode is also heartbreaking as Ramsay sadly stated that Julia was eliminated and how he promised to send her to culinary school, hoping that she would come back one day to win the competition hands down.
    • Not only that, but unlike seasons before and even future seasons, Gordon seemed genuinely reluctant to eliminate Julia over Rock, who was also a favorite.
    • And twisting the elimination further, just rewatch Julia's expression as she is announced the winner of the first Black Jackets Challenge, having struggled with Tiffany and Joanna's bullying in the first episode and her struggles to keep up with her more formally trained competitors...and then remember that she's going to be eliminated at the end of that episode.
    Julia: I made it really far, but I don't wanna go home.
    • Speaking of the episode before, Josh's mid-service elimination can be sad according to some. During his elimination speech, while he isn't seen crying, his heavy breaths indicate he's on the verge of tears.
  • Season 4, Episode 2. Petrozza almost losing all will to fight after he was twice sent back up to the dorms to study that evening's dessert menu. Feeling his spirit beaten down by Ramsay's chastising, he was so ashamed of his carelessness that he said he was ready to throw in the towel. Thankfully, Bobby rushes in and gets his spirits back up, and with a little motivation Petrozza was back to his old self. Still, watching such a genuine guy feel so deflated for having made an honest mistake is pretty tough to watch.
  • Season 4, Episode 5. After burning her hand on a hot grease-filled pan in the previous episode, Vanessa was forced to quit the competition for she felt that she could not perform up to the kitchen's intense standard with only one hand. Ramsay lamented that the circumstances had forced her to leave, and even Jen of all people was hugging Vanessa as she announced her decision to leave to her entire team. Shayna felt that Vanessa had given up on herself too early. What makes it all the more bittersweet is that if Vanessa had continued competing, her injury would almost certainly have resulted in far more lasting damage than had already been dealt.
  • Robert withdrawing from the competition in Season 5 due to health problems. As one of the most passionate chefs that season, he worked so hard and fought his way to the final 5, only for him to get his dream taken from him by a heart condition. Right in the middle of seeing the prize restaurant. To add to it, Robert cancelled his wedding just to compete.
    • Especially saddening is when he returns to the restaurant in person to a standing ovation from Ramsay and the remaining contestants, in full uniform and seemingly back to his old self. When he reveals he's still not well and must withdraw, everybody's hearts just sank.
    • Not to mention Ji's withdrawal in the second episode of that season due to an accident where she sprained her ankle. Her teammates were all crying (and some of the men even appeared to be on the verge of it) because they felt she was a strong competitor even with her injury.
  • Season 5's Danny may have come across as a bit arrogant at times. His final confessional, after winning the competition, shows him crying, knowing that his late mother is smiling down being proud of him.
  • Nilka's ejection as a whole, in Season 7. After repeatedly messing up, Ramsay is finally fed up enough to force her out, but she refuses to give up to the point that she becomes a detriment to the work of the remaining team. Compounded by Ramsay's tonal reversal when he personally wishes her well as she truly leaves the studio.
  • Curtis's elimination is heartbreaking. While he was The Load on service that night, he was not only not nominated for elimination, but was put on a station that he knew he was weak on. His exit interview sees him absolutely crushed and tearing up, apologizing for letting his family down.
  • Season 9's Paul revealing that he was on Hell's Kitchen for his mother, who apparently died not long before he was on the show. Watch the finale, and try not to cry when he wins.
  • Season 11 Finale. When it was revealed that Ja'Nel was the winner, Mary is crying because while she wants to be happy for Ja'Nel's success, it's a bitter pill to swallow. To twist this moment even further, Dan (who was acting like a total jerk throughout prep and who slowed down dinner service to the point that Mary had to kick him out) goes to Mary and hugs her, apologizes for his behavior and promises to make it up to her someday. Question, Dan: Where was that kind side of you throughout the season?! Made even worse by the fact that Ja'Nel didn't even end up getting the job due to her failing a drug test, leading many to argue that Mary should've won instead.
    • And speaking of Dan, his elimination can be a bit sad, depending on one's view. During his elimination speech, as he was calling out his teammates for bullying him over the course of his run in the competition, you can hear small cracks in his voice as if he was trying to hold back tears.
  • In a way, Simone's leaving Hell's Kitchen at the end of Season 12, Episode 3. Whether she was faking illness or not is still up to speculation, but she sounds so defeated and just says "It's ok Chef, I'll leave" instead of giving Chef Ramsay a chance to announce who is leaving.
  • Jessica's elimination in Season 12, she has a complete mental breakdown and begs not be kicked-off the show, even with her mistakes it's really hard to watch and not feel sorry for her.
  • Joy's quitting in Season 12. While she was a very divisive chef during her run, and her quitting soured fans on her, her realizing that she just threw away her chances at winning and not having the confidence to go back in and ask for a second chance really hurts.
  • Ashley's elimination in Season 13. Throughout the season, she remained blank-faced and emotionless, but in the interview afterwards, she's seen crying, saying all she wanted was to work with Chef Ramsay and that it really hurts knowing he thought she wasn't good enough. It's made worse since she arguably didn't deserve to be eliminated (Roe and Steve were up for the second time in a row).
  • Season 13, episode 9: Steve is forced out of the competition due to a leg injury. Ramsay even expressed disappointment, as he felt that Steve had been a solid competitor throughout the season. What makes it worse is that Steve clearly wanted to go on, but Chef Ramsay said he couldn't let Steve sacrifice his health for the show.
    • Frank's elimination, too, for that matter. He takes it gracefully, but is visibly holding back tears and is very upset with himself. It's made even worse since he wrote Chef Ramsay a thank-you note earlier that episode for not eliminating him the previous night (which is sort of happy-tear-jerking, since Ramsay expresses gratitude for it).
  • In Season 14, Bret suffered a fate almost identical to Steve's the previous season, being removed from the competition due to a slipped disc in his back by Chef Ramsay, despite being considered one of the best (if not THE best) chefs on the blue team.
    • Luckily, with Season 18 (Rookies vs. Veterans), Bret finally got another shot at the title, and despite yet another health scare, this time he made it all the way to third place.
    • It becomes much more bittersweet when you learn that Bret's parents both passed away within mere months of each other since his last appearance, and has their names tattooed on his wrists in honor of their memory. He explains to Season 4's Jen, whom he got off to a bad start with just how much cooking means to him and his family and how cooking was a passion he shared with both of his parents and thus motivates him that much more in his second run on the show. Jen visibly tears up after hearing his story.
  • In Season 16, the Blue Team teaming up to bully various members of the Red Team in hopes the stress would lead to them messing up and getting eliminated, and outright bragging about who the plan to go after next.
    • Also in Season 16, Paulie meeting up with his parents. While he isn't the most well-liked contestant on the show, knowing that he would pass away only a few months after the episode aired really hurts.
  • In Season 17 (All Stars), Ben (previously on Season 5, not to be confused with Benjamin previously on Season 7) reveals that he had been diagnosed with diabetes, and nearly falls on the floor during the first dinner service until Jared catches him. He gets eliminated that night even though his team won the service, with Chef Ramsay suggesting that his health could be a liability further down the competition. Give Ben credit for stating in his exit interview that he felt it was the right decision.
  • Robyn and Jennifer tearing up during the end of the black jackets challenge in Season 17 (All Stars). It's clear that the two respect each other as chefs and did not want to see the other get eliminated.
  • Chris' departure in Season 18 (Rookies vs. Veterans). He already revealed in the beginning that he suffered a massive accident to the head that caused him trauma, and was starting to go back into a dark place he once was in nine months ago. Not even him being the key factor that helped the red team won the challenge was able to break that, and it led to him making the ultimate decision to walk out. When Ramsay announced it to everybody before service, you can see how shocked and saddened they were by that news.

Moments off the show

  • The life of Season 1 winner Michael Wray after he won Hell's Kitchen, Several years after winning Hell's Kitchen, his daughter died, his wife divorced him, and he got addicted to drugs. He eventually managed to get clean and got remarried, but he's still having trouble finding a job.
  • Anything involving Aaron Song since his death in 2010, especially his brief appearance in Season 4.
  • Two people from Season 2 are no longer with us. Rachel shot herself in 2007, and Keith drowned in 2012. Even worse if you remember how close they were to Heather. She must have been devastated.
  • In spring 2017, Paulie from Season 16 passed away from an accidental drug overdose. Even if people didn't like him, his death is still very tragic.
  • Jessica from Season 12 tragically passed away due to liver failure in the summer of 2018.
  • In late November 2019, Season 4 runner-up Petrozza passed away due to cancer. To say that fans were devastated would be an understatement.
  • On August 7th, 2020, Season 16 contestant Genaro Delillo unexpectedly died at just 32, with a four year old son among his survivors.
  • On February 9th, 2022, Season 9 contestant Jonathon Plumley died at 45 years old, leaving behind five children and seven grandchildren.