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Tear Jerker / Penny Dreadful

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

  • Everything about Victor and Proteus in “Seance”: Proteus remembering his life as a whaler, and his wife waiting for him on the docks. Victor wishing that Proteus will have many more friends. Having one beautiful day to experience the world, and then Proteus being ripped apart by Victor’s first Creature, returned to bring vengeance upon his “father”.
    • "I'll have ten friends! I'll have more!"
  • The seance itself, before things got nasty - Peter, possessing Vanessa, recreates his death as he perishes from dysentery, sadly asking his father, "Did you name a mountain after me?"
    • Made sadder by the rapid-fire revelations that Peter contracted the disease during an expedition... which he only went on because he wanted to prove himself to his father ("It'll be an adventure!") He held onto this as he got worse and worse, treating the progressing disease like a part of this 'adventure' until things reached the fatal stage... whereby Malcolm, apparently, abandoned his own son to die. "You knew I was dying, didn't you, father?"
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    • Sir Malcolm does in fact get the chance to name one of his discoveries after his son... and promptly names the Murray Mountains in the Congo after himself, because he wasn't even thinking about Peter at the time.
  • In the flashback to Victor's childhood. Not just how his dog and his mother both died in quick succession, but how, after her funeral, little Victor calmly and stoically carries a huge medical text to his room, grimly brushing aside all the artwork and poems he'd been working on to make a place for it. Sir Malcolm had said Frankenstein had a poet's soul; in that scene, you can see that poetic side of a grieving boy who'd loved art for its own sake turning to ice.
  • Caliban's entire life. The first human interaction he has is rejection from Frankenstein. After he manages to find a job in the theater he experiences a longing for one of the actresses whom he can never have.
    Caliban: I proved an able and agile worker. You made me strong and tireless. If only you'd made me handsome.
    • His poor, soul-crushingly sad speech in "Grand Guignol". After being completely rejected by the actress he was crushing on and getting fired and kicked out of the theater, he completely breaks down and decides he'll never be normal, never be happy, and he'd be better off if Victor just shot him in the the head right then and there.
  • All of "Closer than Sisters". How strong Vanessa's feelings for Mina are, the love that she and Mina (and Peter) share, the sheer regret in her voice as she narrates the events that tore their families apart. The tears literally streaming down her face as she tries to apologize to Malcolm and asks to see Mina, after which he closes the gate in her face.
    • Vanessa's institutionalization. You can tell her parents are just at the end of their ropes, desperately trying to help their daughter. And then what Vanessa goes through, being sprayed with water, thrown into ice baths, strapped down and her head shaved, and finally a hole drilled into her brain for an attempt at trepanation. It triggers catatonia, Vanessa reduced to lying in bed unable to move.
      • What makes it even more sad is the fact that it's clear that they're only doing all this because they're trying to help her. As evidenced by the head doctor's noticeable concern, their expressions and the nurse giving her a maternal kiss on the cheek before the doctor begins trepanning her. They only want to help, but are limited by the fact medicine hadn't progressed far enough by this point.
    • The depiction of Peter's childhood. Malcolm gives Peter a rather rigid handshake upon arriving home from his trip, but embraces and clearly dotes on Mina and Vanessa, ignoring his son. This is only a precursor to Peter's fate being even more retroactively tragic - neglected by his father and having been warned by Vanessa not to go to Africa, that he would die if he did.
      • It gets even worse when you realize the only way Vanessa could warn him was by giving in to the demon. For all intents and purposes, the surgery had "worked." Her brain had been so bludgeoned into submission she could no longer channel her power. She couldn't see her visions. Nor could she speak or talk. She was too brain dead. Yet the demon's possession brought her back to life in a way. She embraced the demon so she could have the power to tell Peter he would die just to have him ignore her and march off to his death.
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  • Malcolm's been a complete bastard all season, but it's hard not to feel for him when he breaks down in Vanessa's arms after killing Mina. Not to mention the Sadistic Choice itself.
  • Brona's death bed scene, where she's terrified of what comes after she dies: "I haven't been good." To make matters worse, Victor smothers her while a distraught Ethan's temporarily out of the room, meaning that she and Ethan didn't even get to say goodbye. And, while it was probably in part a Mercy Kill, he's going to use her body to make Caliban's Bride.
  • The entire scene of Gladys and Malcolm Murray grieving on the graves of their children, which ends with Gladys delivering a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to him.
    Gladys: A hollow thing wasn't it? Putting an empty coffin in Peter's grave; his body left in Africa. Such a need we had for the ceremony of it. I don't know which makes me sadder: Mina's full coffin, or Peter's empty one.
    Malcolm: Gladys, we've been too much apart these past years. I think I should come home. We don't need the London house.
    Gladys: And what will we do?
    Malcolm: We were happy once you and I.
    Gladys: No, Malcolm. You were happy once. Everything that was left between us is buried here. We shall remain married, despite all. That modicum of decency I'll insist upon myself. But I'll live in the house here. You stay in London, or go to Africa. I don't care.
    Malcolm: If only you knew how hard I tried to save her.
    Gladys: We have no more children for you to save. Or to kill.
  • Joan Clayton, the Cut-Wife of Ballantree Moor, is such a tragic figure. Betrayed by her sister Evelyn, she must live off the peasants of Ballantree who hate her, even as they come to her for love spells, potions, and abortions. When Vanessa shows up, Joan mentors her, even while knowing that Vanessa brings Joan's death with her. Joan meets her death on her own two feet, refusing to give up Vanessa to Evelyn, and is covered with tar and burnt alive for it. Her eyes staring out at Vanessa through the pitch are just heartbreaking.
  • Vanessa discovering that Victor is addicted to morphine and staying with him while he injects just enough to stave off the detox.
    "I'm sorry you feel so unloved. You are a beautiful monster, and those who could love you and shall."
  • Sembene refusing to allow Ethan to kill himself rather than transform, because he is just a man, and Ethan has been "chosen by God". He sacrifices himself, letting Ethan loose the wolf on him and dying in the process.
    • Malcolm finding Sembene's body, and being determined to return it to Africa for a proper burial.
  • From the second season finale:
    • In the aftermath of the battle, Malcolm ruefully notes that he should have never brought Sembene out of Africa.
      Malcolm: Sembene was a proper man. I've not known many.
    • Victor retreating even further into his addiction after learning what a monster Lily really is.
    • Vanessa visits John Clare, who tells her that he's leaving London as he no longer believes humanity will accept him. Knowing that she herself is haunted by her actions, he offers to take her with him but she declines because she believes she only brings suffering to those around her.
      Vanessa: Mr. Clare there is around me a shroud that brings only pain. I won't allow you to suffer. Not you. I think you are the most human man I have ever known.
    • Vanessa asks Ethan to leave with her since she fears that running from the darkness has only led her further into it. He, believing that he's irredeemable while she is not, turns himself in to the police.
      Dear Vanessa, your many kindnesses I will always carry with me. Such generosity has not been a part of my life, and I thank you for your affection and understanding. In my most frightened and lonely moments you were there. And such light you brought to me. But I am made for the dark. This we both know. I am fit for only one place and should have been there long ago. Deep in the cold clay on a forgotten hill. Your road may be difficult, but mine is doomed. So we walk alone. Written with love, Ethan.
      • After all of these events, Vanessa believes that she's crossed a line and that not even God can save her.
    • Ethan's despair and self-loathing after Sembene's death.
  • The revelation of just how severely depressed and lethargic Vanessa has gotten after Ethan, Victor, and Malcolm's abandonment. She has been living off deliveries of milk, bread, cheese, and tea, letting dishes pile up in both the kitchen and her bedroom. There is a thick layer of dust over Grandage Place, flies buzzing and cobwebs covering the once-beautiful house. Vanessa herself has taken to wearing only her shift and hair loose, uncaring what she looks like, and seems frightened of seeing anyone.
  • Sir Malcolm too is in a bad state after the affairs of Season 2. Season 3 finds him rudderless in Africa, spending his time drinking in a seedy watering hole in Zanzibar amongst thieves, addicts and whores; it is clear that after burying Sembene, Sir Malcolm suffers greatly without his one true friend by his side. Even further sadness when Sir Malcolm admits in his communique to Vanessa that Africa has lost the mystery and allure it held for him all his life. Sir Malcolm Murray - the explorer who wasted the lost the formative years of his children and the love of his wife in the hunt for the source of the Nile and the glory of the Dark Continent - now has neither to drive him forward. Until Kaetenay shows up to stir him into action, Sir Malcolm truly is lost.
  • John Clare/Caliban appears to be beginning to recover fragments of his original mortal life as of 3x01 — which is revealed in a scene of him soothing and preparing to Mercy Kill a dying child on an ice-locked ship full of starving strangers. He sings the boy a lullaby, and it's a strangely gentle moment for a character we've seen perpetrate truly brutal acts, punctuated by visions of himself as an apparently living man, singing his child to sleep in the company of his wife. Like Proteus before him, Caliban seems to be remembering — but unlike Proteus, he is lucid enough to know exactly what this means for the domestic life he'll never have again.
  • Every single moment in "A Blade of Grass" has most people sobbing uncontrollably, when they're not screaming in terror. Everything about Vanessa remembering her time in the asylum, but the ugly-crying really starts as the Orderly admits quietly "it IS torture", places the bit back in Vanessa's mouth, and tells her that it's Christmas Day.
  • Ferdinand Lyle bidding Vanessa goodbye in "No Beast So Fierce". He's being sent on a "jaunt" to Cairo, where people are "more accepting of my eccentricities"; basically, they're shipping him to Egypt for being too flamboyant, and of course, he's sad to leave Vanessa.
    Lyle: Think of me only when you dance.
    Vanessa: I shall have to dance more often.
  • Lily tells Victor about how her daughter died: she froze to death after Brona was knocked unconscious in an alley by a john. Billie Piper's acting as she begs Victor not to take her memories of her daughter away is heartbreaking.
  • Caliban faces the choice of letting his son rest in peace, or taking the boy to Victor to be brought back to life. Caliban chooses to sink his son's body in the Thames, not wanting him to be cursed to a lonely immortality as Caliban himself. His weeping as he does this are utterly heartrending.
  • Ethan fulfills his purpose as God's instrument by dealing a mortal blow to the vampiric Vanessa, urging her to embrace faith in God once again. As she dies in his arms, she feels God's grace again, finding her own redemption and going to heaven at the end of her life. The show concludes as the heroes are forced to live on, remembering what she meant to them. Caliban secretly visits her grave, quoting Wordsworth's poetry as 'The End' appears onscreen.


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