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Tear Jerker / House

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I'd rather die here, not in the hospital...

"LIFE IS PAIN! I wake up every morning in pain! I come to work in pain! Do you know how many times I wanted to just give up?! How many times I thought about ending it?!"
Gregory House, M.D.

As much of an apathetic cynic as House can be, life still finds a way to emotionally break him, both in and out of the hospital clinic.

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    Season 1 
  • The end of the second episode, "Paternity", has House either having an early hallucination (or just going, and being so sad that he just stays there, it's never made clear) of standing on the edge of a lacrosse game, and getting into it before he remembers he's crippled and can never do this again.
  • The episode "Maternity", because it featured the first patient to actually die on the show: a newborn baby. Then there's the scene right afterwards, when Cameron and Wilson go to tell the parents that their baby has died, the sight of them breaking down in each other's arms is only made worse by the lack of audible dialogue.
    • House himself has a brief Thousand-Yard Stare before beginning the autopsy on said baby.
    • The reveal at the end that a sweet, grandmotherly volunteer with the newborns caused the epidemic in the neonatal unit by obliviously and carelessly not practicing proper hygiene after a sneeze. There's an implication that House is about to tell this lady, who clearly cares about these kids, what she's done, and she's also going to be devastated.
  • The episode "Histories", where a homeless woman sent to the hospital after collapsing. At the end after they find out she has rabies so advanced there's no hope for survival, Foreman and Wilson go to investigate her past using her comics as a guide. They find out this 'James' she kept talking about was her son, who died in a car accident that also killed her husband, and that she felt guilty ever since. After realizing what happened, Foreman enters her room, claims to be her husband, and tells her he forgives her. She breaks down crying.
    • Just the fact that two years prior the patient was a happy mother and wife, and in the wake of her car accident she went from living in a nice home to a bat-filled cardboard box in an alley. The ending of the episode is quite haunting as well. House follows Wilson to a poor neighborhood, and Wilson tells him this is the last place he ever saw his brother, nine years ago, and that he doesn't even know if he's still alive. It drives home how anyone can lose everything, become homeless and essentially disappear into the street.
  • Season 1 episode "Socratic Method", Luke's efforts to take care of his sick mother. Taking notes at every doctor's visit, keeping very detailed records of what she ate and drank, organizing her medicines and clothes, and taking care of the bills. His despondent reaction when the team first diagnoses his mother with cancer, and then when Child Protective Services come to take him away is just heartbreaking.
  • The House/Wilson conversation near the end of "Detox" where House has to admit that it's not just the leg that's made him worse, it's the addiction too, but essentially it is what it is and the pills let him do his job.
  • In "Heavy", an overweight ten year old tearfully confesses to taking diet pills because she "wanted just one person [her] age to be nice to [her]" and because she wanted to be pretty. Anyone who was ever bullied for their weight probably knows exactly how she feels. (It doesn't help that Chase spends the entire episode making fun of her.) Her smile at the end, though it may be a bit of a Broken Aesop, doubles as a Heartwarming Moment.
  • The episode "Babies and Bathwater" features two successive impossible choices for a pregnant mother and her husband. The team struggle to save the mother and child... and fail. The baby's cries at the end are the cherry on top.
  • In "Sports Medicine", the patient's wife wants to donate one of kidneys to him. After the tests, House tells her that she's a perfect match and that she's pregnant (they've been struggling to conceive for years). Then House explains that her pregnancy prevents her from donating the kidney. Watching her look of absolute joy turn into a look of grief is heartbreaking. This is followed by her husband's reaction to finding out that she's willing to have an abortion to give him that kidney, saying that he won't accept the organ if she does.
  • "Three Stories". Especially this piece of heartbreaking conversation in one of the flashbacks:
    Stacy: We've got to let him cut the leg off.
    House: (in massive amounts of pain) It's my leg. It's my life.
    Stacy: Would you give up your leg to save my life?
    House: Of course I would.
    Stacy: Then why do you think your life is worth less than mine? If this were any other patient, what would you tell them to do?
    House: I would say it's their choice.
    Stacy: What? Not a chance! You'd browbeat them until they made the choice you knew was right. You'd shove it in their face that it's just a damn leg! You don't think you deserve to live? You don't think you deserve to be happy? Not let them cut off your leg? (They're both near tears.)
    House: I can't, I can't, I'm sorry.
    • It's even more painful in hindsight because he later tells a patient that she should get her leg amputated because he chose not to, and he thinks it made him a worse person, and that he wishes that he hadn't forced them to save his leg.
    • As the lecture ends, the camera focuses on Cuddy and you can tell that she still feels guilt for her part in the damage to House's leg.
  • The end of "Honeymoon". It's near impossible not to feel a massive wave of sympathy in the scene where House tries to walk properly but instead collapses on a nearby chair in agony.

    Season 2 
  • In "Autopsy", House tells a nine-year-old cancer patient that she's going to die if they don't perform a particular procedure. She's brave at first, but when she says she can't let her mom mourn her just because she's tired... OH THE FEELS!
    • And after all that, they fix the immediate problem, which only means she has a year left to live. No matter what, she's going to die young.
  • "Daddy's Boy": The upshot is they can't do anything for the patient. They remove the tumor in his spinal cord, but he's severely immunocompromised and already hit with infections. The worst is that it's his dad's fault, first for making him a keychain out of what turned out to be radioactive metal, then for lying about what he did for a living, simply because he thought a better job would equal better treatment from the doctors, which held up the diagnosis until it was too late. At the end, the man is left sitting by his son's bedside, lying to him and saying he's going to be all right.
  • Because House is usually such a jerkass, the moments when he's vulnerable/human are that much more striking. Take, for instance, the scene in "Skin Deep" where he's asking Cuddy for some morphine. He drops his trousers and cane, shows her the ugly scar and says, near tears, "I could swear I remember a thigh muscle being here". The scene ends with her quietly getting a syringe, and on him rubbing his leg, almost crying with humiliation and relief.
  • The two-parter "Euphoria", especially the second half. For so many reasons.
  • "Forever". The mother's cancer caused her to kill her child and the father is so traumatized as well that he doesn't even try to convince her not to let herself die.
    • And then there's Chase tearfully praying over the baby's body and apologizing for having to put him through an autopsy.
  • Season 2's episode "Who's Your Daddy?". In the beginning of the episode, House fills a syringe with an emergency supply of his morphine. As he's about to shoot up, a case comes up. In the end of the episode, House is shown lying on a couch, his eyes glazed in obvious relief. Then the camera's focus switches to now-empty syringe...
  • The season 2 finale, "No Reason". Four words: "You're miserable for nothing." Also House closing his eyes when Jack Moriarty - the man who shot him - says he doesn't know why House would even want to live, him shouting at Cuddy/Wilson that all he has is his brain, and the fact he's still angry over what Stacy did; conjuring up another instance where people close to him mess with his body when he's in a coma and wouldn't consent.

    Season 3 
  • In "Meaning", Wilson convinces Cuddy not to tell House that his crazy diagnosis was right, on the grounds that he got lucky, which has never, ever happened before. Convinced he's lost his mojo, House resumes taking Vicodin. Wilson massively fucked House over this time.
  • The treadmill scene in "Cane and Able". To see House like that - close to crying because of all the pain he's in but still running anyway - is just excruciating for the viewer.
  • Ketamine healing thigh muscle requires Willing Suspension of Disbelief, but it's still an agonizing Yank the Dog's Chain (as Wilson puts it, "a tortuous window into the good life") cos House starts off genuinely trying; running, skateboarding, attempting more empathy, but the world dumps on him until two episodes later, the pain and grumpy misery are both back.
  • The main patient's father's final decision in "Son of a Coma Guy". Knowing he has a few hours left until he goes back into a vegetative state, the father decides to donate his heart to his dying son. Since there is no legal and by-the-book way for him to do so in time due to the circumstances, he has to commit suicide with the help of House and Wilson. Even Cuddy knew that this was going to happen.
    Patient's Father: I'm okay with pain.
    • The father struggles to come up with final words to part with his son before he dies and asks House for advice on what he wished his father would say to him.
      House: I'd want him to say, "You were right. You did the right thing."
  • There are a few moments in the episode "One Day, One Room", especially at the end when House says, "It was true."
    • Eve breaking down near the end, trying to make sense of both how to keep her faith and dealing with what happened to her. "Maybe He was challenging me!"
    • At the end, after Eve has told him everything and is likely on her way to recovery because of him, House still can't feel good about this, as he wonders if the whole thing was pointless.
  • "Half-Wit", with the idiot savant concert pianist who gets half his brain removed. "Are you happy?"
  • The end of "House Training". Foreman has just managed to kill a patient (she died of a staph infection caught via a wound caused by her bra strap, exacerbated by Foreman giving her radiation and destroying her immune system in the process) and goes home to his mother, who has Alzheimer's, for some reassurance. It's all going along swimmingly as she hugs him and says she forgives him. The next words out of her mouth? "My little boy's name is Eric." His face crumples in despair.
    • "Aren't you ever gonna leave?" "No." And he stays with the patient until she goes, holding her hand.
    Season 4 
  • "Alone": The final piece of the puzzle turns out to be that the patient isn't the patient. The woman they thought was Megan turns out to be Liz, a co-worker who looked similar enough that given how damaged their faces were after the disaster, they got mixed up. The woman they thought was Liz, actually Megan, had died earlier in the episode. It's hard to see the reactions of Megan's boyfriend and mother.
  • "97 Seconds" has many tear-jerking moments in its final act:
    • When Wilson tells the patient (incorrectly) that he's got terminal cancer and has no more than around six months left to live, the patient admits that death will feel like a release to him, as he's spent his entire life in a body crippled by a muscle-wasting disease. And then just to make things worse, House decides to ridicule the patient's implied belief in an afterlife.
    • The dying patient requests his assistance dog, gets Thirteen to place his hand on the dog's head, and then with his last breath tells the dog: "Don't get scared."
    • It then goes From Bad to Worse in the next scene, where we discover that the dog has also died, after (unbeknownst to House and his team) previously being poisoned by eating medication meant for his owner. One of House's soon-to-be-fired fellowship candidates off-handedly comments that she's seen dogs hang on for years until their owners die, after which they lose the will to live... which leads to the even more tragic implication that the dog somehow hung in there, despite being close to death himself, just so that his owner wouldn't have to die alone.
    • And the most tragic part of it all? The deaths of the patient and his dog were completely avoidable — the women's sub-team's initial diagnosis was the right one all along, and could have been cured with just a couple of pills. Which Thirteen actually did give to the patient, but unbeknownst to her, Kutner and Brennan dragged him off for a scan to prove their own theory about what was wrong before he could actually take them, allowing the dog to eat the medication and for the patient's infection to become lethal.
  • In "Guardian Angels", when the patient that sees her dead mother accepts that it's a hallucination and says goodbye to her. The music during that scene really doesn't help.
  • In "House's Head/Wilson's Heart", the tears start from "what's my necklace made of" and don't let up from there:
    • When House talks to Amber in the Limbo-bus. "I don't want him (Wilson) to hate me." A classic example of petting the dog. "Because... because it doesn't hurt here. I don't want to be in pain. I don't want to be miserable. And I don't want him to hate me."
    • It didn't help that the music selection used as the bed for that scene was Iron & Wine's "Passing Afternoon".
    • Taub clinging to his wife.
    • Wilson finally going back home to try and sleep and finding Amber's last note.
    • The scene where Amber dies in Wilson's arms after having him pull the plug on the machine keeping her alive. On top of the entire scene's usage of Bon Iver's heartbreaking "re: stacks", the final exchange of words had by the two before Wilson pulls the plug is very sad.
      Amber: I'm tired. I think it's time to go to sleep.
      Wilson: Just a little longer.
      Amber: We're always...gonna want "just a little longer".
      Wilson: I don't think I can do it.
      Amber: It's okay.
      Wilson: It's not okay. Why is it okay with you? Why aren't you angry?
      Amber: That's...not...the last feeling...I want to experience.
    • Wilson then kisses Amber, so that anger isn't the last thing she experiences.
    • The fact that it was Wilson showing such raw emotion when he's usually cast as the straight man.
    • Amber waking up and knowing exactly what's wrong with her after Wilson tells her what happened.
    • House's recovered memory of what happened. The moment when he realizes that by taking the pills Amber has sealed her fate is heartbreaking. And having to explain to Wilson that there is nothing to be done...
    • All the team comes to say goodbye, the bit where they were clinging to each other and having their last conversation, and the bit where Thirteen's Huntington's test shows positive.
    • The look on Cuddy's face when House wakes up.
    Season 5 
  • Wilson telling House that they've never been friends. House doesn't say anything at that point, but looks like he's been punched.
  • "Birthmarks": "Wilson? My dad's dead."
    • House starting to crack when he's speaking at the funeral.
      House: There's a lot of people here today. Including some from the Corps. And I noticed that every one of them is either my father's rank or higher. And that doesn't surprise me. Because if the test of a man is how he treats those he has power was a test my father failed. This man you're eager to pay homage to, he was incapable of admitting any point of view but his own. He punished failure, he did not accept anything less than... (pause) ...He loved doing what he did, he saw his work as some kind of sacred calling, more important than any personal relationship. Maybe if he'd been a better father, I'd be a better son. But I am what I am because of him, for better or for worse.
  • "Lucky Thirteen:" The entire things is pretty wrenching as it explores Thirteen's downward spiral after her Huntington's test came back positive (made worse when recent news was revealed that she had an even shorter time than she initially believed). The icing on top is when she finally forms a bond with someone after giving her a terminal diagnosis... just to find out later on that they were incorrect.
    Thirteen: I feel so alone... and she hasn't gone anywhere.
    Foreman: She gets to live...
  • "Joy", when after all the stuff Cuddy went through she still doesn't get the baby.
  • In the season 5 episode, "Emancipation", when the poor girl reunites with her parents. Made worse when she reveals why she’s lied the entire time she’s in the hospital until House drags the truth out of her. When she sees her parents, she breaks down in tears and you can see the grief on her parents' faces upon seeing her in such a condition as well.
    Sophia: I killed my brother. I was supposed to watch him. He was in the bath. I could hear him laughing. Every time they look at me, it’s like I killed him again.
    • With Rewatch Bonus, House's strange reaction of looking like he's going to cry at her explanation makes sense: Survivor's Guilt over Amber and the bus, he knows how she feels.
  • Soon after the beginning of the Season Five episode "Simple Explanation", Kutner is found dead in his apartment, having committed suicide for no known reason. The biggest Tear Jerker comes at the end of the episode, where a montage depicting Kutner's funeral is shown, including a shot of Taub breaking down as he sits alone in one of the hospital corridors. As if that weren't enough, the montage ends with a black screen showing contact details for mental health organisations and an "If you are thinking of suicide..." message.
    • The simple scenes of House at Kutner's apartment, still insisting that his "Kutner was murdered" theory. While looking through Kutner's items, he comes across some photos showing Kutner happy and cheery...but it hits hard with the Wham Shot where House looks at a photo that left him rather slack-jawed: a shot of Kutner looking down rather solemn, making him realize that Kutner wasn't murdered as he thought, but that Kutner was depressed and was Driven to Suicide. Which fits the episode's name: The simple explanation being Kutner was struggling with depression.
  • The detox scenes in "Under My Skin", with House crawling towards the pill while his own subconscious digs in that he doesn't deserve anyone, and literally sticking his hand down the toilet when Cuddy flushes the pill down. Made much worse when you find out in the next episode that it wasn't real, and House spent the evening popping pills by himself.
    • As the post-detox scenes/conversation are all in his head, House seeming to think that he's just expensive hospital property. Huge ego, low ass self-esteem.
  • The ending of the season five finale. House goes all episode believing he and Cuddy bonded after she helped him detox and they had sex, only to realize the entire event was just a Vicodin-induced hallucination, making him realize he's actually losing his mind and he has no choice but to check himself into a psychiatric hospital. When he follows Cuddy into Wilson's office after The Reveal, he looks so lost and like he's been crying for a while.
    Season 6 
  • The second part of the "Broken" has a few, when the man who thought he was a superhero gives another patient a music box that makes her say "thank you", the first words she's spoken in over 10 years.
    • Also: House becomes pissed when one of the doctors puts "Freedom Master" in medication-induced catatonia and makes him depressed, believing that he was functional and well, delusions of superheroism aside. Eventually, House sneaks away with him to a carnival, where he helps him regain his good mood by taking him on a ride on a skydiving simulator machine that lets him believe he can fly. His plan to help him works all too well when the patient genuinely believes he can fly and leaps from a second-story parking lot, nearly killing himself in the process. By feeding into the patient's delusion, House realizes how screwed up he is and practically begs Dr. Nolan to help him.
    • Alvie finally decides to start taking his meds in the wake of House being discharged.
    Alvie: I want to get better.
  • The scene in "Wilson" where Wilson asks House if he'll be there for his liver surgery:
    Wilson: The operation is in two hours and I'd like you to be there.
    Wilson: ...Why?
    House: Because if you die, I'm alone.
    • And then he goes anyway. It shows that in the end, House cared for Wilson's feelings more than his own.
    • It's also the basis for what happens at the end of the show, with Wilson being sick and House trying to not cope with the reality of it, but coming through. (And he will be alone next time, or dead too if you go by Hugh Laurie's word).
  • "Lockdown", when House's would-be patient calls his daughter and leaves his message.
    • This episode is an extreme case of Mood Whiplash because in between Taub and Foreman getting high, and Wilson and Thirteen playing Truth or Dare in the cafeteria, you've also got scenes like the one mentioned above and Chase and Cameron finalizing their divorce while locked in a room together. The real low point between the two occurs when Chase asks Cameron if she ever really loved him. When finally pushed, Cameron says she doesn't know.
  • The season 6 finale "Help Me". House was fighting so hard to save the girl's leg from being amputated. In the end there was no other way for her leg to be saved from the rubble. House had to amputate her leg with no anesthetic. She beared through the pain and came out alive. On the way to the hospital she died. A fat embolism from the amputation killed her. House did everything right, but she still died. In the end of the episode we actually see House shed tiny tears and almost relapse.
    Foreman: Even if you'd done this in an OR, you couldn't have saved her. [...] You can't blame yourself for her death. This wasn't your fault.
    House: THAT'S THE POINT!!! I did everything right; she died anyway!
    • House admitting that he wishes that his leg hadn't been saved, because the pain from the damage made him a worse person, and has led to him being alone, and that she can live a great life without his leg. It makes her death in the end even more painful.
      House: They cut out a chunk of muscle about the size of my fist, and they left me with this mutilated, useless thing. I'm in pain... every day. It changed me. Made me a harder person, a worse person. And now... now I'm alone. You don't want to be like me. You got a husband who loves you. You have friends. You can start a family. You have a life. And this... This is just a leg.
    Season 7 
  • The speech from Hugo to his sister convincing her to take part of his lung, saving her life at the cost of significantly shortening his own.
    "You do so many great things. I just watch. I get to watch and coach and cheer. That's not me out there - never will be. If you take this piece of me, carry it with you, then I really can share in everything you do. This is the great thing I can do with my life. Don't make me live without you."
  • In "Unplanned Parenthood", a mother who has just given birth to her second child finds out that the reason her newborn infant is sick is because she has melanoma and that her child also developed cancer while in utero. Instead of opting for surgery to remove the cancerous tumors, she tries to wait and wants to continue giving her child blood transfusions so that her newborn could have a chance to survive. Instead, she ends up dying instantly from a massive pulmonary embolism, one of the bigger risks for delaying surgery. The mother’s blood is harvested, but it cost the mother her life. Her older daughter steps up and decides to raise her newborn sister to honor her mother, from whom she has been estranged for quite some time. The older daughter wants to make sure her sister never forgets her mother, who was simply trying to be the best mother she could be for her daughters, even if her decisions were incredibly risky.
    • It was heartbreaking to see the older daughter trying not to cry while telling her newborn sister all of this, and realizing that her mother tried her best, even if she never seemed to be there.
  • As Romantic Plot Tumor as their relationship was, the Huddy break up in "Bombshells": House is begging Cuddy not to do this, and she sobs in her sister's arms later.
  • "Out of the Chute": Following the breakup, House rapidly descends into hedonism as he desperately tries to find something to help him get over the pain of losing Cuddy. At the end of the episode, Wilson, who is justifiably worried about him, witnesses him jump from a hotel balcony in what initially looks like a suicide attempt (in actuality, in yet another escalation of his hedonism, he was "just" diving into the hotel pool from a dangerous height).
  • "The Dig" in season 7, when Thirteen confesses she assisted her brother's suicide. The whole episode was a massive tearjerker, what with House hearing Thirteen crying in the night, and when she lashes out at him in grief for his perceived lack of emotions.
  • The Self-Surgery scene in "After Hours": House had been taking an experimental medicine that was meant to regrow muscle tissue in legs, but wound up giving him tumors. He tried to excise the tumors himself in his bath tub, but even with a boatload of localized anesthesia, the pain became too much for him to bear. His cries as he tried to bear the pain make it heart-wrenching.
  • The simple fact that after "Moving On" ...that was the last we see of Cuddy. After House crashes a car into her house, she finally just gives up and resigns, and is never seen again. House and her never reconcile or make peace. She just leaves and probably never hears about the events of the final season either.
    Season 8 
  • House actually sounding... anxious and doublespeaky around the topic of Prison Rape (and Mendelsohn was leering at him enough in the last episode), saying essentially to Let Us Never Speak of This Again.
  • The mother in "Parents" trying to protect her son from his sexually abusive father, and everyone (including House, excepting Adams) thinking it kinder to not tell the kid because there's no point in re-traumatizing him.
  • It all ends up okay because like mother, like son, and she was just manipulating Wilson so House could see her new hubby, but House looks so quietly destroyed when he thinks his mom has terminal cancer.
  • "Body and Soul" has the Wham Line from Wilson: "I have cancer". House can only stare in shock.
    • Poor Dominika was a genuinely endearing Genki Girl, and she looks crushed when she finds out House lied to her and hid her letters.
  • "The C-Word" has Wilson breaking down as he pores over gifts from dead patients who statistically should have made it, and the suffering and insanity he suffers during his chemo.
  • A Deleted Scene in "Post Mortem" had Wilson visiting Amber's grave.
  • The penultimate episode "Holding On", where Wilson has only five months to live and House is begging him to undergo chemo, which will extend his lifespan to a few years but comes with pain and being mostly hospital-bound. And when House and Wilson finally come to terms and are planning how to spend the last five months of their friendship, House is told he violated his parole (with a stupid prank on Foreman that resulted in severe water damage to the hospital and destroyed an MRI machine) and has to go back to jail. His sentence? Six months.
    • Wilson breaking down crying in his car begging House to tell him that he loves him and his life was worth it. By the end of that scene they're both crying.
    • House's breakdown in front of Taub where he declares "life is pain" and how many times he's thought of suicide.
  • In "Everybody Dies", House's death and funeral, at least until it's evident he's still alive.
    • The fact that some small part of House wants a normal suburban life, and that seeing what he could have had makes him literally lie down and curl up to die. Luckily he has the "Eureka!" Moment that he can actually change, and does the selfless thing.
    • According to Hugh Laurie several times, House will end up killing himself after Wilson passes from the cancer. It's up to you whether you want to believe him or not, but that's tragic on both Ho Yay levels and just how broken House really is.