Follow TV Tropes

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


Tear Jerker / Live-Action TV A to C

Go To

    open/close all folders 

     12 Dias que estremecieron a Chile 
  • 90% of times, the Chilean TV series "12 días que estremecieron a Chile" ("12 days that shocked Chile to the core") was a huge, giant tear: not only the terrible things that are told happened in real life, but the mixture of fiction and real life montages was incredibly effective. The crowner was the episode touching the horrifying incident known as "caso degollados" aka "case of the slit throats", specially two scenes: the one one of the victims's day, a famous stage actor, is told that the corpses have been found in the middle of one of his and his troupe's theater sessions; he and his fellow artists (including the original troupe members playing as themselves) decide to not stop the show, specially to say "fuck you" to the dictatorship that robbed them of their friends/relatives and the one where the same dead man's wife suffers an Heroic BSoD and starts claiming for justice and the fall of the dictatorship. The latter is made worse/better due to the mix of the fictional scene with real footage of the moment when it happened.

  • There are a lot of scenes, especially in the pilot, since most of the Returnees have gone for extended periods of time, when they try to find their families, and everything inevitably changed: as an example when Lily goes to see her husband and daughter, and finds out he has remarried.
    • Lily dying in the season 3 premiere. Especially because Isabelle, understanding that her ultrarapid aging is the cause tries to kill herself to save her mother. It doesn't work.
      • Shawn having to kill his brother Danny at his own request.
      • The funeral scene in what turned out to be the final episode was overall very effective tearjerker-wise, in spite of the fact that the characters who died, Shawn's brother Danny and his mom Susan, were never important.

  • Adam, the 1983 made for TV movie about the kidnapping and death of Adam Walsh. The scene where Jon Walsh learns of his son's death and starts tearing up a room while cursing the world is arguably the most gutwrenching scene in television history.

     The American Music Awards 
  • As if "Isn't She Lovely"—a song where a blind man rhapsodizes about his newborn daughter's beauty—weren't enough of a tearjerker, it went to a whole new level at these awards when they did a tribute to Stevie Wonder. The segment ended with an ensemble singing "Isn't He Lovely" and the camera turned to Stevie in the audience. If you didn't know already, blind people can cry.

    Animal Cops 
  • Animal rescue shows can be heartbreaking when it comes to animals having to be put to sleep or seeing really bad neglect or cruelty.
    • Wildlife SOS, when CT the Badger was put down. Gracie Lizzie cried, not so much for CT herself but from watching her being cradled in her last moments by a heartbroken Simon Cowell (no not, that, Simon Cowell - this Simon Cowell).
    • Oh, God. One particular episode of Animal Cops. A breeder of shi tzus had been injured and more or less confined to her bed, and enlisted the help of her daughter and grandsons to care for several of the dogs, who lived outside where she couldn't get to them. They didn't, but told her they did. Watching that poor little old lady cradle the miserably neglected creatures and sob when the SPCA officers brought the dogs inside and she saw their real condition for the first time and realized her family had been lying to her for months... Almost as bad as the old lady's grief was the pitiful little noise of agony the oldest dog (who'd never recovered from a broken back and had gone blind in the kennel) kept making during the examination, and the revelation that she'd have to be put down, because there was nothing else the vets could do to spare her more pain.
      • On the opposite end of the tear spectrum, another episode featured a dog who officers found almost frozen to death in his owner's back yard. They had to pick him up, as he couldn't even move, and take him to an ASPCA vet. Cut to the next day... where he's begun to recover. Cut three months later, where he's running around in his new owner's yard and playing with her and her other dog. * Sniff*

    Battlestar Galactica Classic 
  • Adama's finding the picture of his wife, Ila, amongst the ruins of his home on Caprica, in the pilot episode:
    Adama: I'm sorry Ila... I was never there when it mattered. Never...
    • And a little later when Apollo comes in:
    Apollo: Maybe mother wasn't here.
    Adama: No, she was here. She was here.
  • "That, Mr. President... was my son."
  • "You can fly with me anytime, little brother."

Galactica 1980

  • The fate of Cy, Starbuck's Robot Buddy in "The Return of Starbuck".
  • Boomer and Starbuck saying goodbye in "The Return of Starbuck."

    Behind The Music 
  • The ending of the Andy Gibb episode, as the show plays his very last recorded song, "Arrow Through the Heart", while his friends and family talk about how they miss him.
  • In the Vanilla Ice episode, Vanilla opens up about his 1994 suicide attempt, talking about how he'd had a party that day, and had been enjoying himself with his friends, but then got depressed at the thought that his friends would leave him, and he'd be alone again, and thus tried to overdose. Happily, his friends intervened.
  • The Milli Vanilli episode originally ended on a bittersweet note, with Fab Morvan trying to re-establish his credibility as a musician, and Rob Pilatu struggling with drug abuse, suicide, and jail time. The post-1998 re-edited version ends with Rob's death from a drug overdose on the eve of a new tour with Fab.

    Birds of Prey 
  • Most episodes ended on a sad, or at least melancholy note, but the end of the finale, when Alfred rings up Batman, who never otherwise takes any part in the show and says:
    Master Bruce, I thought you might want to know, your daughter's doing very well. You would be most proud... most proud indeed.
    • He then silently agrees with something said on the other end, and hangs up.

    Boston Legal 
  • Boston Legal, when Denny's old acquaintance lost his argument to be frozen cryogenically, and is going to Arizona to die of ALS, Denny goes to say goodbye to him, and Winston says that they never were close friends, and Denny suddenly grasps his hand and hugs him . . . When a show that usually makes you laugh goes for the tears, get out the hankies.
  • "Last Call." That is all.
  • Shirley's father is dying of Alzheimer's, and she goes to court - with Alan as her lawyer - for the right to end his suffering. This speech ensues, after which the camera pans to Denny and the entire audience starts sobbing like children.
    Alan: My, uh, best friend has Alzheimer's, in the, uh, very early stages, it hasn't... He is a grand lover of life and will be for some time. I believe even when his mind starts to really go, he'll still fish, he'll laugh and love, and as it progresses he'll still want to live because there will be value for him, in a friendship, in a cigar. The truth is I don't think he will ever come to me and say, this is the day I want to die, but the day is coming and he won't know it. This is perhaps the, the most insidious thing about Alzheimer's. But, you see, he trusts me to know when that day has arrive, he trusts me to safe guard his dignity, his legacy and self respect. He trusts me to prevent his end from becoming a mindless piece of mush and I will. It will be an unbearably... * chokes up* painful thing for me, but I will do it, because I love him. I will end his suffering, because it is the only decent humane and loving thing a person can do.

    Bulgaria's Abandoned Children (Documentary) 
  • Bulgaria's Abandoned Children which is not only heart breaking, but is a heartbreaking documentary. A young girl named DiDi, who can only cling to the belief that her mother is coming to pick her up from the Mogilno children's home (even though DiDi's mother abandoned her, and never wants to talk to her again). She makes the following speech to her friend, Todor:
    DiDi: Todor, you are my friend, because you're very nice and you love me. If I had stayed in Pazardjik and not come here, I would have got married. I would be a good mother. I would look after my children very well. If I had children, even if they weren't my own, I would never send them to such a place. What have I done so wrong...that made Mummy send me to an institute. I didn't want to be sent here. I wanted to live in Pazardjik forever. (pause) I don't think I will become crazy like the others. I don't want to stay here any longer. I am missing my Mummy. I love you very much, Todor. You kiss me and hold my hand...
    • One of the final scenes, where a young boy, almost too crippled to walk, gives the journalist covering the story a hug, and he has to be held up as he slowly walks over to her.

  • The ending of Season 1's "Babylon" and the next episode, "Pick a Number", where Dora Mae is murdered by the Babylon miners. From drunken, heartbroken Jonesy finding her body and carrying it back to the Carnivale, to Ruthie and Lila cleaning and wrapping the body in silk and telling stories about where the silk came from, to Rita Sue keeping all her pain locked up until she goes to throw out the bloody water from cleaning her daughter's body and can't get her hands clean, and bursting into tears.
    • Even sadder was the look on Samson's face when, not quite believing his own eyes, he saw Dora Mae as the literal whore of Babylon.
  • The part where Jonesy runs to hug his wife after she was convinced he was about to die a horribly unpleasant death
    • Unexpectedly dashed later on. "Sophie... don't..."

  • The ending of the David Tennant serial of Casanova. Despite, well, you know, being busy naming his trope, Casanova spends much of the serial trying to win Henriette, the one woman he truly loves, as told by his elderly self. The tears come in three stages:
    • Edith, the maid to whom older-Casanova has been telling his story, reading the letter sent by Henriette's daughter that says that Henriette had died 6 months ago.
    • Instead of giving him the letter, Edith sits with Casanova at his bedside while he lays dying and still believing that Henriette is alive and coming to see him. As he fades, Edith whispers to him "She never stopped looking...and she never stopped loving you...she's coming...she's coming to be with you..." and when he finally dies, "......she's here."
    • The final shot of a young Casanova and Henriette dancing through the streets of Venice, united forever in death, while a cheerful music-box tune chimes away into the closing credits.

    Charlie Daniels' Volunteer Jam 
  • January 1979: The surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd performs for the first time since the plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zant and Greg and Cassie Gaines (with the exception of bassist Leon Wilkeson, who was still too injured to play, but was backstage). With Daniels and his band sitting in, they played an instrumental version of their signature song, "Free Bird". The kicker: a lone spotlight, shining on an empty mic stand, where Van Zant would've been. Daniels himself later said there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

  • While Cheaters is trash TV and 90% of the times it's utterly... unremarkable, one episode was a total tearjerker. so there was this divorced mother with a kid who had hooked up with a generical guy, and he was cheating on her? It turns out that the jackass not only was cheating, but he was about to get married to another girl. A rather normal Spaniard girl who truly had no idea of what she was getting into. And in one of the saddest examples of Speaknow Or Forever Holdyour Peace... the Cheaters team and the original girlfriend catch the cheating boyfriend/fiancè in the middle of his "wedding" to the other girl. It's really freaking depressing to see the bride's dreams crashing all of a sudden as she's told that the man she was about to marry was... well, a two-timing asshole - so much, that the cheated-on woman went to her and ended up expressing her own share of sympathy for the totally crushed fiancèe.

     The Closer 
  • An episode of The Closer has Detective Sanchez's little brother being shot and killed. As events turn out, the Sanchez's brother was killed because he was mistaken for being a gang member due to the hat he was wearing. At the end of the episode, Sanchez breaks down over his deceased brother's blood-stained hat saying that he had given his brother the hat a month earlier for his birthday. Sanchez then goes on to sob his heart out while shouting, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" and proclaiming that his baby brother's death was all his fault.
    * Made all the worse by the fact that his full-on sobbing breakdown happens in front of Lt. Provenza, the squad's crotchety old bastard, and when Sanchez starts choking out, "I'm sorry, sir," the look on Provenza's face is enough to break your heart. He awkwardly put his arms around Sanchez, and holds him, and I'm getting overwhelmed just writing this out.
  • Provenza's got a lot of these. He's such a mean old hardass, and then he kills you. Another recent ep, he had to tell a little kid his whole family was dead, and he comes out of the interview room and tells Brenda the kid's been crying all night "and I'm not doing so well either."
  • Any interaction between Brenda and Gabriel in Ruby, after Gabriel beats the living tar out of a child murderer. Brenda's so angry at him and sympathetic at the same time, and Gabriel, her favorite, is so broken and desperate for her to tell him it's all gonna be okay.
  • The last scene in "Red Tape" in Season 5, when Brenda makes a decision about Kitty.
  • The very shocking and heartbreaking last scene in "Last Rites" in Season 7. Poor, poor Brenda!

    Count Dracula (BBC) 
  • This BBC 1977 mini-series is noteworthy for being the most faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker's original Dracula novel yet made, save for a few minor changes, one of them being that Mina is now Lucy's sister. Coupled with a Wham Shot: Both Lucy and their mother die at Dracula's hands while Mina is away to nurse and marry Jonathan Harker. She returns happily awaiting to tell Lucy of their marriage, But then she opens the front door to a sobbing maid...


  • In the last episode, Carl Sagan does his desperate plea to cherish life and to stop nuclear proliferation, which threatens everyone on the planet. This, for those of you keeping score, was filmed in 1980. Sagan was ardently against nuclear weapons, and was even arrested for once breaking through a fence with protesters trying to stop a weapons test. Fast forward ten years later—1990, right after The Great Politics Mess-Up—when Sagan was filming updates for the series. He talks about how "the impossible has happened" and how old enemies (namely the US and Russia), are now working together. The statement, after decades of fighting against the Cold War and nuclear proliferation, against the constant threat of death and of mutually assured destruction, he simply says "perhaps we have, after all, chosen life".

Example of: