- The ending of Othello when Iago's wife comes in and tells Othello what really just happened. Say what you want about the play; that breaks the heart.
- That scene is heartrending for everyone involved. Watching Emilia gradually realise that a) her friend is dead, b) Othello killed her, c) her own husband persuaded him to do so, and d) oh, and it's sort of her own fault too.
- Desdemona's very death itself; as her husband's trying to kill her she screams things like "Kill me tomorrow, let me live tonight!" and plead to be allowed to say one prayer.
- Desdemona's final words, when they're left in. When given the opportunity to name her killer, she says it was herself. When put in context, it's a very Christian woman telling a lie on her deathbed, condemning her to hell because she still loves Othello too much to cause trouble for him.
- In keeping with the above, in spite of the violence and death, the love between Othello and Desdemona is still heart-rendingly obvious in the chamber scene. His monologue watching her sleep has many lines commenting on how beautiful and sweet she seems, and being wracked with anguish about hurting her in any way: "Yet I'll not shed her blood/Nor scar that whiter skin of hers than snow/And smooth as monumental alabaster/Yet she must die, else she betray more men." When she wakes, the first thing he asks her is if she has said her prayers, and confessed her sins, because he doesn't want her soul to be unabsolved before she dies. Even mid-way through strangling her to death, he presses the pillow over her face, saying, "I will not let thee linger in thy pain." All those subtle signs of affection, combined with Desdemona's final words, will turn you into a blubbering mess if the production is doing its job.
- Fridge Brilliance: Desdemona saying that her killer was herself isn't exactly a lie. Married couples are often considered the same legal and spiritual person— "one flesh." Her last act is a reaffirmation that she is his wife and he, her husband.
- The 2015 Stratford production turned the last scene between Emilia and Desdemona before her murder into one of these, in an odd way. They'd been played as especially close in that production, almost to Les Yay levels, and the contrast between Desdemona singing 'Willow' and Emilia starting to sing along, and the brutality we all knew was coming was just heart-wrenching, as was Emilia's utterly broken grief when Desdemona died. That production's version of 'Willow' was also one of the more heart-rending I've heard.
- There is something really, really sad about Emilia trying, however hopelessly, to get on Iago's good side... by giving him Desdemona's handkerchief. Emilia is (rightfully) praised for being brave and strong-willed, and she's shown to hate Iago for his shitty treatment of her, and yet she can't help but try to win some favor. Whether it's Stockholm Syndrome, a result of Emilia having loved Iago at one point (and possibly still caring for him a little), or simply an abused woman trying to make her abuser happy so he'll be a little bit kinder to her, it's just really depressing. Especially since the most affection or kindness Iago ever gives her is saying, essentially, "good girl" when she gives him the handkerchief — and then he basically tells her to shut up, go away, and leave him alone. And then we all know how it turns out for Emilia in the end...
Tear Jerker / Othello