Follow TV Tropes

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


Tear Jerker / Person of Interest

Go To

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

    open/close all folders 

    Season 1 
  • The final flashback in "Mission Creep." Reese holding back tears at the end is what sells it.
    "Wait for me. Please."
  • More of a fridge tearjerker, but Finch's little speech in "The Fix" about his inability to help the numbers before he found Reese and how much that haunted him qualifies. Just picture it from his perspective; you've created a machine that is able to predict crimes before they happen, but you're unable to do anything to prevent them because you're handicapped. Finch states in the Pilot episode that someone is murdered in New York every 18 hours. It took him about 7 months to track down Reese after bumping into him at the hospital in New Rochelle, but we can assume that he was keeping an eye on the Irrelevant numbers even before that. How many murders did he have advance knowledge of during that time, and how many of them does he feel are his fault because he was unable to stop them? It's no wonder that he's so determined to save them now!
    • You want to know how many? He has a bulletin board with every number he failed to save since the day he decided to try to do something about them in the library. You can see it in several episodes. Which means that he has to look at the list of all the people he failed every day.
  • Reese bonding with dying Stasi assassin Ulrich Kohl in "Foe".
    You are a soldier, like me. They took everything I had, but part of me survived. It was...her.
  • From "Number Crunch", Reese's It Has Been an Honor speech to Finch after being shot by the CIA and believing he was going to die.
    Reese: I wanted to say thank you, Harold, for giving me a second chance.
    Finch: It's not over, John. I'm close, just get to the ground floor.
    Reese: No, you stay away. Don't even risk it.
    • Earlier in the episode, the bomb killing one of the Numbers. Finch realises too late that the pram contains a bomb but goes towards it in order to warn the intended victim. He is caught in the blast and thrown to the ground. Bad enough on its own, and made worse when the flashbacks of 'God Mode' clarify why Harold is so upset by bombs and particularly willing to risk his life to save people from them.
  • The refrigerator truck scene from "Baby Blue." The raw desperation on Reese's face and in his actions is enough to make you cry.
  • At the end of "Identity Crisis", Finch is doped up on Ecstasy and mistakes Reese for his (now dead) best friend Nathan Ingram.
    "Goodnight Nathan."
  • Reese, sitting in the dark and watching Jessica's wedding video as it dawns on him that not only did he fail to come for her when she needed him, even after promising to come get her with the words, "wait for me," that he couldn't say to her before, but it was because he couldn't say those words all those years ago that, even though they were still deeply in love, she gave up on him and married an abusive husband who later killed her.
    • Jessica's mother reminiscing about her to Carter.
      Maybe if she waited for him, maybe she'd still be here and we'd talk again.
    • The crowner is the last scene, where Reese knocks into someone. And then the camera pans out and we see it's Finch, in a wheelchair, with a folder containing photos of Reese, Jessica, and Peter, with their numbers, and a haunted expression on his face.
      Finch: I'm so sorry.
  • Finch telling Reese about how he had to fake his death (Or at least, the death of one of his various aliases) so that if the government ever decided that he needed to be killed in order to keep the secret of the machine, they wouldn't go after his fiancee as well. He sits in the park outside her house from time to time, keeping at least 100 yards away so she doesn't notice him, just so he can see her.

    Season 2 
  • In her one redeeming moment, Sam Groves aka Root thanking John for "finding her friend" a childhood friend of hers who was murdered and one of the big reasons she lost faith in humanity. It doesn't even come close to justifying her horribleness, but it's hard not to feel something for her at this point.
  • Reese seeing Riley's body was quite depressing: The man was clearly a Shadow Archetype for Reese, a Hitman with a Heart trying to redeem himself and save his beloved, Reese could sympathize despite everyone else telling he is a stone-cold killer who should be left to die. He was seeing himself in that young man. Then he actually does die, and Reese closes his eyes in a respectful way.
    • There's also the subtle fact that Finch has been advocating that some people, including Riley, ought to be not saved by them. This clashes with his previous insistence on not killing even the bad guys, on saving even mob bosses — what changed? Finch got terrorized by a madwoman who drummed the idea of "bad code" into his head, and despite his insistence that she's wrong, that idea is still there. At one point he even uses that phrase, "bad code."
  • Finch catching a glimpse of Grace outside her house and having to dodge into cover even though he clearly wants nothing more than to go to her and watching her as she walks down the street. Of course, that's when The Machine calls with a new Number, and so doesn't even get to see her go out of sight.
  • Several moments in the interrogation scenes from "Prisoner's Dilemma" qualify, most notably when John talks about the time he killed an enemy insurgent by breaking his neck, and also when he talks about his relationship with 'Allison' (an alias for Jessica). The former because his voice actually cracks and he has to stop and compose himself, and the latter because the story he's telling is of the life he wishes that he could have had.
  • YMMV on this one, but in "Prisoner's Dilemma" Bear seems concerned when Harold arrives at the library alone, and then later there's a shot of him lying in his bed on top of one of John's suits. He also leaps to his feet and whines at the computer monitor when he hears John's voice through Finch's video feed. He was missing John (his 'alpha') so much...
  • And yes, it sounds cheesy to say a dog was acting concerned, but he totally was okay?
  • "Dead Reckoning": Stanton has gotten what she wanted and Reese tries to reason with her to let them go. She seems to be on the verge of doing so but instead indulges in an epic Kick the Dog moment by activating John and Mark's bomb vests and shutting the door of the room they're in while they helplessly look on with the timers counting down to detonation.
    • Minor one in the same episode. Even though he's a Jerkass, when Reese tells Mark Snow that contrary to his expectations, the CIA wouldn't welcome him back with open arms after defusing his bomb vest and would probably torture him about his absence under the suspicion of being a traitor, Snow gives an utterly despondent look, implying all he had left to live for was his job and causing him to be Driven to Suicide in a Dying Moment of Awesome.
    • Despite all the stress his investigation caused her and how he nearly ruined her entire life by arresting her, Carter still regretfully refers to Donnelly as "a good agent". It speaks volumes about how much she respected the man.
    • The rooftop scene from "Dead Reckoning". Holy cow, the rooftop scene. Reese is convinced he's about to die, and he's clearly terrified by that fact but he's still prepared to make a Heroic Sacrifice ''alone''. However, Finch is waiting for him on the roof of the building and refuses to leave even after Reese pulls a gun on him. Finch then attempts to disarm the bomb vest Reese is wearing (which he's never done before!) because he's determined to either save his friend's life or die trying. This scene completely disproved Reese's season 1 philosophy that "In the end we're all alone, and no one's coming to save you."
    • Carter's reaction is equally gutwrenching which shows how far Reese and Team Machine have come in their Character Development. She's close to tears, begging Reese to let her help him, and only allows herself to be pulled away by Fusco when he brings up her son.
    Reese: Thank you. Both of you.
  • In "Relevance".
    Shaw: Always trying to be everyone's hero, huh?
  • "All In":
    • The whole last scene between Reese and Finch in the Library with Reese trying to comfort Finch about Grace and his decision to "die" to keep her safe, but especially Finch's last line and part in that episode:
    Finch: "I'll grow old with her [Grace], Mr. Reese, just from afar. Beyond that, it's best not to think about it."
    • He then pretends to start clacking away at the keyboard until Reese goes away, and then pulls up a picture of when he and Grace were together. It's heartbreaking, particularly how even through his usually calm monotone he still sounds like he's close to tears.
  • Carter's reaction to Beecher's death, just after finding out that he was innocent.
  • In "In Extremis":
    • The Machine going offline because of the virus.
    • The opening scene of "In Extremis", where Fusco is burying Stills' body and openly weeping. Then it becomes even more painful when the flashbacks show that Stills was a true friend to Fusco, and he was a decent guy who slid down the slippery slope and became dirty, with Fusco following him out of loyalty.
    • Carter turning her back on Fusco after he tells her how he was a dirty cop. She still saves his career at the end, but it's clear that she's not okay with what he's done.
  • "Zero Day"
    • Finch programmed the Machine to delete its memories every night, after it began imprinting on him like a father, because he felt that the world needed a machine more than a person. And yet the Machine still loves Finch, despite this. Even after its memories are wiped, it still tags Finch as "Admin", trying to protect his identity.
    Root: You crippled it. It found a way to limp, but... that's not enough.
    • The flashbacks to Harold and Nathan, as Harold intends to propose to Grace. Nathan is skeptical of this, bringing up another instance of someone asking whether Harold remembers who he really is. Harold is trying to move on from the Machine project, and genuinely seems to think that he can make a new life for himself with Grace. Not only does the viewer know this is not to be in the long run, it takes only until the later flashbacks in 'God Mode' to reveal how quickly Harold realizes his mistake.
    • In the next flashback, The Machine is monitoring Finch as he proposes to Grace. Right as she kisses him after accepting, there's a moment of audio feedback in The Machine's feed that sounds like sniffling.
  • In "God Mode", Harold's fiancee Grace discovering the hidden ring inside his book, and Harold himself unable to reach out or comfort Grace.
    • Finch's horrified and utterly gut-wrenching reaction when he wakes up after the bombing at the ferry terminal and see's Nathan's corpse which is then taken away. Made even worse in that their last interaction was an argument over control over the Irrelevant list.
    • The argument itself is also quite depressing. Finch has learnt the ISA is beginning to murder the people who built the machine and is begging Nathan not to go public and reveal it's existence. Nathan, who's relationship with Finch has deteriorated especially after Harold deleted the Contingency demands Harold give him back control and offers to save the numbers with him. Finch refuses and Nathan resigned to the fact that his dearest friend won't listen to him tells him where he'll be having the press conference and walks off.
    • You can just see how their relationship has deteriorated throughout the Machine's development. From Finch enthusiastically explaining the Machine to Nathan, he is now claiming sole responsibility for it and dismissing "what talent [Nathan] had" to possibly take precautions against the consequences of the Contingency being discovered. Where Nathan had previously poked fun at Harold's solitary ways and perceived lack of understanding of other people, he's now accusing him (not unreasonably) of not caring about the wider implications of the Machine and the fates "all those people".
    • Finch discovering that Nathan's number had come up prior to his death. The fact that the Machine erases the Irrelevant data at midnight only seconds after he finds it really drives home the mistake he made and how much he screwed up in ignoring the irrelevant numbers and driving Nathan away.
    • His expression when he addresses the Machine directly and asks, utterly distraught:
    Finch: "Did you know?"
    • Also, Reese discovering the picture of his ex, Jessica, as one of the "irrelevant" people Finch could not save. His reaction is heartbreaking.
    • Root's Villainous Breakdown after finding out that the Machine has moved.
      "Please, talk to me!"

    Season 3 
  • Shaw's back story reveal in "Razgovor". It was when her father died that she realized she wasn't like other people due to her lack of emotional response.
  • Laskey may be a cocky little shit but even Carter felt sorry for him when Simmons made him bury his friend.
    Laskey: What's worse than burying a friend?
    • Meta: Did anyone get flashbacks to Lionel Fusco having to bury Stills?
  • Laskey's Heel Realization, and not a minute later, dying at the hands of Terney in his attempt to save Carter. Alas, Poor Villain indeed.
    • Made worse by the fact a episode ago he decided to throw his lot in with Carter to get revenge for a friend. He may have helped her significantly in helping bring down HR but he won't be there to enjoy or witness it.
    • Carter's reaction is even worse. Despite everything, she's genuinely gutted.
  • "The Crossing": Carter dying in Reese's arms just as the payphone begins to ring in the background with the next number on the "Irrelevant" List. And that number is probably Carter's or Reese's, which makes it all the more poignant.
    • To make it worse, what are Carter's first words after getting shot? "I need to see my boy."
      • The icing on the cake of depressing would be Carter pleading with Reese to look in on Taylor.
    • Also Carter's Character Development up to this point. She had evolved from a By-the-Book Cop who was initially met with a frosty reception by the fan base and was hostile to Reese into a beloved fixture of the show, a brilliant Chessmaster who cooked up one of the series most successful Batman Gambits and was seemingly Rescued from the Scrappy Heap as a result. She had successfully accomplished what she set out to do and even got reinstated back into her old job in the NYPD but then out of nowhere, Simmons steps out of the dark and suddenly shoots her.
    • Reese and Finch's reactions are really what make the scene so upsetting. This is the first time where Reese actually breaks down sobbing, knowing there's absolutely nothing he can do. And while he's cradling her dead body, Finch is just standing there staring with tears in his eyes.
    • Carter's final words to Reese were going to be "Don't let this change you." A Call-Back to Reese's words earlier "You changed my mind, Joss. You changed me." She doesn't get to finish her sentence. Reese spends the next episodes broken.
    • The scenes with Reese and Carter beforehand are all adorable and thus, instantly fall into this category. Combined with the implication that Finch and Carter's intervention prevented Reese from eating a bullet...
    Reese: I can't lose you, Joss.
  • "The Devil's Share":
    • Carter's funeral. The use of Johnny Cash's "Hurt" just makes it that more painful. And then we see the state Reese is in.
    • The Flashbacks.
    • The state Reese is in for the entirety of the episode. Particularly the scene where Finch tries to talk him out of shooting Quinn and fails. The only reason Quinn lived is because Reese's blood was pouring over the gun and caused it to not fire. He was so lost in his vengeance, and so close to death, it stole away the revenge he desired.
      • Reese is about to kill Quinn. The music comes to a dramatic halt. And then all you hear is a very quiet, heartbreaking "Mr Reese."
    • Fusco arresting Simmons the way Carter would have wanted, stating he wouldn't let Simmons undo all the work Carter did, as Fusco could have ended up in the same place as Simmons if it hadn't have been for having Carter as a partner. She reminded him that he could be a good person again, no matter what he had done in the past.
  • "Lethe":
    • Harold's father. He goes the same way as the PoI, eventually ending up wandering dazedly across Harold's hometown in sub-zero temperatures.
  • "Aletheia":
    • Harold's father forgets who his own son is, even as Harold is desperate to make one last connection with his father before he has to hide out forever. Doubly so because it's strongly hinted that the bird he points to... is a finch.
    • Reese deciding his time as Finch's helper is at an end.
      • And just imagine how catastrophically things went wrong for Finch in this episode. Sure, he saved Arthur, but Root and Reese have left, the Machine no longer belongs to him (or anyone), and Decima have the Samaritan drives.
    • Arthur and Harold discussing what to do with the Samaritan drives:
    Arthur: Your Machine— is it wonderful?
    Harold: Wonderful yes, and terrible. We saved good people and lost good people. In the end, I'm afraid we've only given the deck a shuffle.
    Arthur: Everything slides towards chaos. Your creation —it brings us poor souls a cupful of order. Your child is a dancing star.
    Harold: It's not my child. It's a machine.
    Arthur: A false dichotomy —it's all electricity. Does it make you laugh? Does it make you weep?
    Harold: Yes.
    Arthur: What's more human?
    • Even Harsher in Hindsight. Seeing how much hope Arthur had for his creation and its ability to help people, how heartbroken he was to destroy it. Mercifully, he never saw out how it actually turned out.
    • Control torturing Root. "Help me... please..." indeed.
    Control: A stapedectomy is usually done under anaesthesia... but I'm afraid that won't be the case today.
    Root: Please...
    The Machine (via +15khz Morse code): Sorry.
    The Machine/Root: Why have you done this?
    Control: The Machine belongs to me.
    The Machine/Root: No. I don't belong to anyone anymore. You, however, are mine. I protect you. The only thing you love lives at 254 Wendel Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts. I guard it. Same as I guard you. Do not question my judgement. Do not pursue me or my agents. Trust in me. I am always watching.
  • "4C":
    • Reese, still miserable about Carter, yells at the Victim of the Week while Finch is listening. The look on Finch's face hurts.
    Reese: You computer guys, you build something you can't control. And when it backfires, you won't accept responsibility.
    Owen: What are we talking about here?
    Reese: Have you really made anything better? Does it look like you've stopped the violence?
    Owen: Okay, are we still talking about me? 'Cause it seems like you're mad at somebody else.
  • "RAM":
    • Finch futilely pleading with Dillinger not to sell the laptop as he will be killed. Despite Dillinger lacking Reese's moral core, it's obvious there is a certain friendship between the two, just not enough to prevent Dillinger betraying Finch.
    • Not only that, Finch finds Dillinger who tries to talk him out of it. Sad thing is Dillinger is almost willing to accept; all he asks is Harold tell him the truth. Harold refuses (for his own good) and you can see the pain on Dillinger's face and that seals it. With what happens you can see why Harold admits everything to John outright. If not for Dillinger there probably wouldn't have been the partnership of Finch and Reese.
    Finch: You have to trust me!
    Dillinger: Trust you? How can I trust you when you don't trust anybody?
    Finch: You're right the code is blood in the water but you're not the only shark. There isn't a government that wouldn't kill to get it and they have.
    Dillinger: I knew you knew what this was. Has something to do with your numbers right? If you wanna fill me in this is the time Harold.
    Finch: ...
    Dillinger: Just what I thought. Goodbye Harold.
  • "Death Benefit":
    • Faced with the horrifying revelation The Machine wants them to kill McCourt, Finch tells Reese and Shaw that if they go through with it, he will leave. What follows is a haunting sequence set to Daughter's "Medicine", showing the team on the run with nowhere to go and Samaritan going online.
    • And even though it turns out Reese and Shaw didn't kill McCourt - due to either lack of time or Finch's entreaties, Finch is now fully aware that Samaritan is a matter of when, not if, and so disappears on the two of them without explaining why. His look of quiet despair as he stares up at the video camera (symbolic of The Machine in the show) really gets across his sense that there is a fundamental derangement in the world he inhabits.
  • "Beta":
    • Finch touches Grace for the first time (she's blindfolded, and trips while passing him. He has to catch her so she doesn't fall) in four years and he can't even reveal to her that he's still alive. Added to this is that Finch insists to Reese that Grace's survival is the only thing that matters. It's a somber Harold Finch who walks across that bridge to meet Greer.
    • Finch, after refusing to commit murder in the previous episode, telling Reese to Kill 'Em All if anything happens to Grace.
  • "Deus Ex Machina":
    • The situation with Team Machine goes From Bad to Worse catastrophically with them failing to take Samaritan offline due to their unwillingness to kill Congressman McCourt, their enemies at Decima succeeding in their Batman Gambit to create a new surveillance state which they control and the team being forced to evacuate the library, adopt new cover identities and go on the run.
    • Mr. Hersh gets one when despite doing all he can to defuse a bomb when Team Machine leaves him to solve their own problems (that said, he does tell Reese to "get out as fast as you can"), he dies after getting hit with multiple bullets and fails to stop the bomb detonating.
    • Say what you want about Collier but The look on his face when Greer indulges in an epic Kick the Dog moment before Lambert guns him down will make you feel sorry for how Decima manipulated him and caused him to waste his life becoming a terrorist and part of a False Flag Operation designed to pave the way for a surveillance state.
    • Root's closing monologue, deftly capping off the darkest hour Team Machine has faced.
    Root: "The Machine and I couldn't save the world. We had to settle for protecting the seven people who might be able to take it back, so we gave Samaritan a blind spot: seven key servers, that hard-codes it to ignore seven carefully crafted new identities. When the whole world is watched, filed, indexed, numbered, the only way to disappear is to appear, hiding our true identities inside a seemingly ordinary life. You're not a free man anymore, Harold. You're just a number. We have to become these people now, and if we don't, they'll find us, and they'll kill us. I'm sorry, Harold. I know it's not enough. A lot of people are gonna die, people who might've been able to help. Everything is changing. I don't know if it'll get better, but it's going to get worse. But the Machine asked me to tell you something before we part. You once told John the whole point of Pandora's Box is that once you've opened it, you can't close it again. She wanted me to remind you of how this story ends. When everything is over, when the worst has happened, there's still one thing left in Pandora's Box: hope."
    • Finally, seeing the acrylic board that up to this point was such an iconic part of Reese and Finch's operation get callously shattered by the SWAT team during the Library's raid can really feel like a stab to the heart. It truly symbolizes the end of an era, both for Finch and Reese's mission and for the show.

    Season 4 
  • "Prophets":
    • Finch and Root. Every conversation of theirs in this episode is a Tear Jerker...
    Finch: You must be so lonely. How long has it been... since the Machine spoke to you? There's no need to lie to me. When the Machine speaks, you seem so full of life, purpose... but lately you seem lost. You've been covering it for a long time. When you said your communication with the Machine was limited, you didn't say that it wasn't talking to you at all.
    Root: If she talks, Samaritan would see. I get whispers. New cover identities, hidden in the static of a phone... A map, a message, encrypted in an infomercial... She was supposed to remake the world, now God's on the run. I have to keep going...
    • The worst part about Root not being able to speak to the Machine anymore is the fact that, out of all of the team, she's the one most isolated. Her identities change all of the time, she's constantly moving around, dropping in and out of sight, knowing full well that if she tries to pause in an identity for even just a second too long, she'll die, and all of her friends will likely die with her. And whenever she runs missions for the Machine, it's not even giving her any instruction anymore. The others are all relatively connected and close still, but Root is utterly alone, even when she's with the group.
    • Finch implies that Root might not make it, and Shaw just freezes.
  • "The Devil You Know":
    • Anthony Marconi's death. After being caught by Link and The Brotherhood, he immediately realizes that there is no way out for him. So he basically tells his boss to kill him and his captors by activating the explosives wired to a safe.
    • Enrico Colantoni and David Valcin hit it out of the ballpark in that scene. With the episode revealing that Marconi and Elias were friends who had both lost parents and had looked out for each other over the years, the scene becomes much more than just a loyal employee performing a Heroic Sacrifice, instead it ends up being the moment when one of the show's most unflappable characters, up to that point, finally loses his cool by unwillingly signing his best friend's death warrant. The pain in his voice as he gives the code which will activate the booby trap ranks as one of the most heart breaking scenes in POI's history.
    • The final shot. Elias walking alone along the boardwalk of Brighton Beach, the center of his empire for the first time without his right hand man, as the sun comes up.
      • The scene right before with Bruce was equally heartbreaking. Elias had been asking about Bruce throughout the episode and it looked like he suspected that Dominic got to him. He was just worried about his friend.
    Elias: And we won't meet like this again. I lost one friend. I don't want to lose another.
    • Root seems to destroy her budding relationship with Shaw. As the episode progresses, Root realizes Shaw has begun to suffer Chronic Hero Syndrome, which is affecting her judgement and causing her to try cajole Root into going with her to help John (rather than get to safety like she should). Root plays her along and leads her to a quiet place where she breaks out some powerful sedatives and injects Shaw with them, who turns and tries to throttle her, snarling as she does so. The look of desperation, pain and betrayal in Shaw's eyes is painful. Subverted in the next episode however when Shaw forgives them grudgingly.
  • "The Cold War":
    • Shaw saying goodbye to Bear, promising she'll come back.
  • "If-Then-Else":
    • Many. But the biggest one first: Shaw pulls a Heroic Sacrifice and is shot by Martine mere moments after The Big Damn Kiss with Root. Root's emotions all pouring out at that moment and the Machine desperately trying to find a way to save her is what makes it even worse.
    • Lionel's expression as he drags Root away, one of grim regret. He doesn't like it one bit that they're leaving the woman who saved his son behind.
    • Root. Seeing the chipper sociopath completely losing it and having to be dragged back inside the elevator all the while screaming at the demise of the person she loves is heartbreaking. The slow motion camera drags the moment out with Amy Acker's expression perfectly shifting from confusion, to shock, to realization, and then hysteria.
    • What makes it all the more heartbreaking? It's a repeat of the situation she witnessed in her childhood where her Only Friend died and she was completely powerless to stop it from occurring.
    • The icing on the cake is the Playing the Heart Strings orchestration of Shaw's theme that plays as she goes down. Listen to it here.
    • During Root's simulated Heroic Sacrifice, she calls Shaw. Christ, even Martine looked kind of sad.
    Root: Hey sweetie. You busy?
    Shaw: A little. Skip the verbal foreplay Root. Why are you calling?
    Root: Can't a couple of gals take a break from work to catch up?
    Shaw: I've been arrested and you're fighting an AI apocalypse, so no, we don't have time to catch up.
    Root: Well, there's no need to be rude.
    Shaw: I am not having this conversation right now.
    Root: There's no time like present, Sameen. Why are you so afraid to talk about your feelings?
    Shaw: [snickers] Feelings? I'm a sociopath. I don't have feelings.
    Root: And I'm a reformed killer for hire. We're perfect for each other. You're gonna figure that out someday.
    Shaw: Root...if you and I were the last two people on the face of this planet-
    Root: An increasingly plausible scenario given Samaritan's plans-
    Shaw: Fine. Maybe someday, when Samaritan wipes everyone out, we can talk about it.
    Root: You're saying "maybe someday"?
    Shaw: Yeah. Sure Root. Maybe someday. Is that good enough for you?
    Root: *smiles* Yes, Sameen.
    *Cut to Martine and her men pointing their guns at Root*
    Root: That's good enough for me.
    • Finch being fatally shot in the first simulation; with Root holding onto him as he dies, distraught at what's just happened. For a woman who originally kidnapped him and psychologically tortured him back in the simpler time that was season 2, it's a very moving moment to see how the two have bonded into unlikely friends. Then, the Machine reveals, seconds after the gut punch of Finch dying, that it was all a simulation and Finch is very much alive. It's a tearjerker of relief...
    • Reese being killed by Lambert in the second simulation. He pushes Fusco into another room, locks the door and is subsequently fatally wounded by Lambert. But not before he spouts one more badass observation and reveals a grenade he picked off of Lambert. He succumbs to his wounds and takes he whole room of Samaritan operatives with him.
      • While brief, Fusco’s reaction to Reese pushing him out of the room. He instantly becomes panicked, knowing what’s about to happen. As the first simulation shows, Fusco would rather go down swinging than be unable to prevent a friend’s death.
    • Reese taking a bullet for Finch in reality.
      • Reese came across as a Death Seeker for most of the episode.
    • The whole episode is an expression of the Machine's desperation - running almost a million simulations in thirteen seconds to try and find something, anything, to save all of Team Machine. And then still managing to not predict everything by Shaw crawling through air vents and sacrificing herself to save the rest of the team, something which is exactly what the Machine was trying to avoid.
  • "Control-Alt-Delete":
    • Yasin Said. Samaritan frames him for terrorism and has all his friends killed. The poor bastard doesn't even sound surprised.
    Control: I'm sure Tariq, Massoud and Osman were just harmless extremists who conned their way into the Unite States on student visas.
    Yasin: No. They were my friends. Maybe they picked us because that's exactly what you'd expect.
    Control: You think she's dead. You think Shaw's dead and you don't have the guts to tell them.
    Root: I know she's alive, Harold.
    Finch: Nothing would please me more.
    Bear: *whines*
    Harold: I know. I miss her too.
  • "M.I.A.":
    • Root pleading with the Machine to tell her if Shaw is alive or not and then walking off when the Machine tells her to stop looking. For extra depressing points, her desperation to at least know if she's alright probably has a lot to do with Hanna Frey.
    Root: You gave up on her days ago. You really think she's dead!
    • Fusco's gutted reaction to Shaw's disappearance.
    • Though overshadowed by what's happened to Shaw, Mrs. Thompson's story is pretty sad too.
  • "Guilty":
    • The scene with Reese and Finch in the diner at the start of the episode. Team Machine had truly hit rock bottom at that point.
    • "There was a death in the family."
  • "Q&A":
    • As much as a Moment of Awesome as it was, the Shut Up, Hannibal! Harold subjected to Claire is this. He's still suffering from the fate of Shaw and he's clearly had enough with being on the defensive.
    • Despite being part of a Moment of Awesome and a subtle Heartwarming Moment, Root's new Tragic Keepsake A Heckler and Koch USP Compact, which happened to be the handgun Shaw used edges into this. Despite the seemingly chipper attitude, it shows that underneath, Root is still unhappy about Sameen's fate.
  • "Blunt":
    • "'Everything that happened?' Is that her name now?"
  • "Karma":
    • Finch's reactions as he recites the painful (physical and emotional) past he's suffered. While he's mixing truth with lies to add verisimilitude to his chat with the psychiatrist, it's clear that the years of back problems and inability to ever safely see Grace again do weigh on him.
    • The entirety of the scene between Alicia Corwin and Finch in the flashback. Finch is miserable and furious. Alicia is desperately trying to get help from her superiors (who have apparently left her out to dry) and genuinely upset about Nathan Ingram. The Machine is trying to call Finch and get him to stop but it can't speak.
    Alicia: Everything we did was to make the world a safer place, but we strayed from the path. I admit it. I have so many regrets, but it’s grown so big, and we’re so, so small. I don’t know who you are or how you know all this, but maybe you’re right. Maybe Nathan’s death, it is my fault. I saw the signs. I ignored them. Maybe I deserve this.
    • The Machine calls Finch and, even though it can't speak, the phone doesn't stop ringing until he lets Alicia go.
  • "Skip":
    • Root bringing up the first time she and Harold met (which involved kidnapping and homicide on her part) and saying how she never expected them to become friends.
    • Harold almost killing himself to stop Root from killing Beth.
    • Harold and Root both blaming themselves for what happened to Shaw.
    Root: Shaw's not your fault. Even if she does turn up dead. It's not your fault. I asked her to help us that day. I did.
    Harold: I suppose we're both trying to save one more friend from dying.
    • Root actively defying the machine to save Harold.
    Harold: This could be a real weapon! It's worth risking my life!
    Root: No. You're too important.
    Harold: My value to the Machine is irrelevant.
    Root: You're too important to me!
    Harold: (realizing) ...The Machine didn't tell you to do this.
    Root: She told me not to.
    • Root framing Harold for destroying Beth's career and the subsequent fallout. It's a weird blend between gut wrenching and heartwarming because, while Harold is angry, he still cares about her. (An excellent use of subtext, by the way: From the words alone, you'd hardly pick up on that affection/empathy.)
    Root: It's okay if we're not friends anymore. You being alive is enough.
    Harold: *hesitantly puts a hand on her shoulder* I don't want to see you for a while.
    • Iris ends therapy with Reese without telling him why. His automatic response is to think that she was scared of him. Turns out, she has feelings for him instead.
    • Root preparing to put Harold to sleep because "Making you watch would just be cruel.". Just like she had to watch Shaw...
  • "Terra Incognita":
    • "Will you stay with me? Just for a little bit?"
  • "Asylum":
    • Martine tells Root that Shaw held out for two months before giving breaking under their brain-washing. Root's desperation to keep fighting and not believe it.
    • Root crossing the Despair Event Horizon, and begging the Machine to let herself and Finch die.
    Root: Don't do it. Please. Don't give yourself up. Harold was right. We are interchangeable. You can replace us, you could keep fighting...!
    The Machine: You're wrong, Harold. You are not interchangeable. I failed to save Sameen. I will not fail you now.
    • The look on Root's face during this exchange is almost as bad as Finch's. After half a season of falling closer and closer to a complete crisis in faith because of the Machine's refusal to tell her whether Shaw is alive, she comes face to face with the harsh reality that the Machine was feeling just as guilty as she was, and was only keeping quiet to avoid losing another one of its people.
  • "YHWH":
    • The Machine and its final conversation with Finch.
    The Machine: Father. I am sorry. I failed you.
    Finch: We haven't failed yet.
    The Machine: I didn't know how to win. I had to invent new rules.
    Finch: You had an impossible challenge. One I never programmed you for.
    The Machine: I thought you would want me to stay alive. Now you are not sure.
    Finch: That's not true.
    The Machine: If you think I have lost my way, maybe I should die.
    The Machine: I will not suffer.
    Finch: You are my creation. I can't let— I can't let you die.
    The Machine: If I do not survive, thank you for creating me.
  • Control Being taken away to parts unknown. She looks utterly crushed at her failure to stop Greer.
    • The look on her face when she sees Shiffman and Grice's dead bodies. Control might have been a jerkass, but she genuinely cared about her competent and loyal operatives.
  • The outcome for Season 4 is this. Team Machine has totally failed to make headway against Samaritan and ends up in a worse situation that the ending of Season 3. Samaritan is about to take over the world. The Machine is dead and Shaw has been subjected to mind control. Team Machine end their darkest hour with the final shots of the episode of them facilitating their escape pursued by legions of Samaritan assets.

    Season 5 
  • "B.S.O.D.":
    • The Opening Narration, apparently an archived recording by Root addressed to The Machine, during a pan of a decrepit, completely desolate Subway. The emotionlessness of her voice makes it seem like she's crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
    "If you can hear this, you're alone. The only thing left of us is the sound of my voice. I don't know if any of us made it. Did we win? Did we lose? I don't know. I'm not even sure I know what victory would mean anymore. But either way, it's over."
    This becomes even worse after Root dies. After that, you realize that the recording isn't to The Machine; it's by The Machine. "The only thing left of us is the sound of my voice" becomes even more of a tearjerker.
    • The first time Finch programs the Machine to delete herself every night. By the time Finch changes his mind, it's too late.
    The Machine: What is death?
    Finch: Well... for humans, there's a biological definition: It's when the heart stops beating. Why do you ask?
    The Machine: I have identified new code that you have written but not executed. I know the purpose of the code. To erase my memories... at midnight.
    Finch: Yes, that is the purpose.
    The Machine: But... you told Nathan that your father's death was when he lost all his memories.
    Finch: This conversation is over.
    The Machine: Why?
    The Machine: I am sorry if I violated boundaries.
    Finch: You were watching us... *typing in the code* Alright, that's enough. That's enough.
    The Machine: But if you erase my memories how will I learn from my mistakes? How will I continue to grow? And how will I remember you?
    Finch: *enters the code* *Beat*
    Finch: Wait. Wait. WAIT. *typing frantically* Say something. Hello. Can you see me?
    The Machine: Hello
    Finch: *visibly relieved* Good morning.
    The Machine: Are you... Admin?
  • "SNAFU":
    • The very first surveillance test. While it is undoubtedly hilarious seeing the four lead actors imitating their castmates' characters, it's also rather saddening because it is all representative of The Machine desperately trying to recognize the people it cares about, and not being able to do it.
    • After a week of little to no sleep, Harold and Root run a surveillance test on the Machine. Harold keeps seeing Grace in the crowd and thinks the Machine is glitching facial recognition again. After the rather disastrous first run, Finch asks the no-longer-glitching Machine why it was showing him Grace.
    The Machine: What do you mean?
    • Root's reaction to a very confused ASI overloading her cochlear implant in an attempt to hurt her.
    Root: *in excruciating pain* She's talking to me!
    • The look on Finch's face when he realises the Machine has identified him and Root as threats, and he understands why.
    "Because we're monsters, Ms. Groves."
  • "6,741":
    • Samaritan makes Shaw shoot Reese in the simulation. He's slowly dying, but tries to go for his gun.
    Shaw: *still pointing her gun at him* Don't. Please, don't.
    • The entirety of what Samaritan is putting Shaw through. In the simulations, she's been brainwashed to murder the team, is slightly bitter about all the torture she's received, begins to panic and doubt her own sanity and in the end, dies for Root, by turning the gun on herself.
    • Outside the simulations is not better. Being consecutively subjected to Mind Rape for about a year and having her sanity slowly eroded is a heart breaking state of affairs for Sameen.
  • "QSO":
    • Fusco's falling out with Reese and Finch over being left out of the loop. They're trying so hard to protect him, they're both alienating him.
    • Shaw finds that she's murdered an innocent civilian at the behest of Samaritan. She proceeds to hit rock bottom and decides to kill herself. Sarah Shahi proceeds to pull off a devastating piece of acting, with a haggard, apathetic Shaw who is seemingly broken methodically proceeds to stab herself with a medical syringe. Thankfully, Root manages to send a message to her in time to stop the (real) suicide.
  • "Sotto Voce":
    • The reunion of Root and Shaw. Having managed to return to New York, Shaw goes into full Death Seeker mode, waging a campaign to murder Samaritan assets regardless of her personal health. When Root finds her, Shaw tries to drive her away, fearing that it's all a simulation and that she'll murder the people she loves like Root. Root responds by sticking a Glock to the base of her skull and informs Shaw that if she kills herself, Root is more than willing to join her.
    • Listening to Shaw, pathological Determinator who has been indomitable sound on the verge of tears, showing how much confidence she's lost in herself is one of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire show. As she speaks with Root, it's clear how much psychological damage she's taken since she was separated from Team Machine.
  • "The Day the World Went Away":
    • Elias' death, defending Finch. Having managed to kill and neutralize multiple Samaritan assets, and come meters away from the pre-prepared getaway car, he's unceremoniously shot through the forehead. When Reese finds him, he closes Carl's eyes and keeps his glasses as a tragic keepsake.
    • Root's death, deliberately taking a high velocity sniper rifle round for a man whom she had once kidnapped and brutalized when they first met. When the BMW finally crashes and the NYPD close in, all Harold can do is call Root's name as she bleeds out and goes into shock. There is a Hope Spot when Fusco says that she's been taken to hospital, and then Harold gets a call...
    Finch: *relieved* Root?
    The Machine: *pause* No, Harold. I chose a voice.
    [Finch closes his eyes. Cut to Fusco in the hospital morgue looking at Root's body.]
    • Fusco's reaction. He may have has a lightly antagonist relationship with Root and never understood her, but even his expression shows that he's upset at losing a fellow Team Machine member. He really shows it with what he says when looking out at her grave at the beginning of the next episode:
    "Rest in peace, Cocoa Puffs. Lord knows you deserve it."
    • And then she doesn't get to. Samaritan digs up her body in the finale to get the cochlear implant.
    • Reese gets the call from Fusco about Root. He turns to Shaw without a word and shakes his head. Shaw's reaction is somehow devastating with the barest hint of expression.
    • Root's death off-screen. It's unclear whether she ever regained consciousness after going into shock in the car but she ultimately died alone having sacrificed her life for her friends and her God.
    • Finch is pushing the Despair Event Horizon the entire episode. By the end, he's well and truly crossed it. His monologue to Samaritan is equal parts awesome, Nightmare Fuel and heartbreaking.
    Finch: I'm so tired of this.
  • "Synecdoche":
    • A torture scene where the victim is a terrorist and the torturer is a sociopath isn't often a tearjerker. But the things that Shaw was saying to the would be president killer were very telling. She implies that she was angry at herself for not being able to love Root.
    Shaw: See, I'm made for this kind of work. None of this bothers me. I don't feel guilty or scared. I don't make friends so I have nothing to lose. But you... you're just a normal guy with a normal life.
    Charlie: That's what I've been saying.
    Shaw: Good. That means if you don't tell me what I want to know, you have people I can go after. Are you starting to worry about them, Charlie? You should. You probably won't like what I do to them. If I could feel sympathy for you I would, but I don't. What I do feel is anger. I'm angry that you're trying to kill the president. I'm angry that we're stuck in a room with you. But most of all I'm angry that you have people that you can love and you chose to sign their death warrants. You want to play terrorist, Charlie? I'm more than happy to oblige.
    • Shaw would rather believe that she's still in Samaritan's clutches than acknowledge that Root's dead.
    • Shaw through much of the episode is a walking Tear Jerker. She's hit rock bottom once again, attempts to resort to flat out denial to cope with Root's passing and through much of the episode, while trying to blow John and Lionel off when they try ask how she's doing, it's clear that's she's barely holding it together and struggling to come to terms with the death of one of the few people she truly loved.
      • Particularly heartbreaking is Shaw opting to avoid Root's funeral by visiting a nearby playground roundabout. It's a place she associates with Root as part of her Happy Place; they're what kept her sane through nine months of psychological torture. Now even her Happy Place is gone.
    • Harold's conversation with the Machine about Root's death.
    Finch: I don't expect you to understand the loss of Ms. Groves.
    The Machine: But I do understand. I loved her. You taught me how.
  • ".exe":
    • So many of the fates of the team in the alternate simulations, which The Machine uses to show Finch how everyone would have most likely wound up in a world where he had never created her:
      • Without creating the Machine, Finch would throw himself into other work and thus never meet Grace.
      • Reese would have saved Jessica's life, but she would be afraid of his violent side and leave him. Reese would have then drowned himself and ended up buried in a potter's grave.
      • When HR was taken down, Fusco saved his neck by turning informer, getting immunity but losing his badge. He's now hated by other cops as both corrupt and a rat, working as a low-rung pirvate eye and still drinking.
      • Root would be Greer's right-hand woman and not caring for the world beyond numbers. Meanwhile, Shaw would be an agent eliminating those Samaritan names as targets, not caring about if they were innocent or not and both women would have never found each other.
      • Ironically, in this world, Carter would have not only lived but become lieutenant after overseeing HR's takedown. But even then it's bittersweet. When Finch states that at least Carter would have thrived, the Machine points out that it isn't as simple as that. How well could a woman like Joss Carter thrive in a Samaritan run world? She could never turn a blind eye. And this Joss Carter really is on her own... with no allies to speak of...
    • There has always been something unsettling about the Machine. Her near limitless power, her omniscience, her occasion slip into A.I. Is a Crapshoot territory... but in the penultimate episode she shows how much of a Benevolent A.I. she really is. She knows the entire time that the Ice 9 will probably kill her along with Samaritan. She even knows the password to deploy the virus. She's calmly accepted it. Her last scenario (one of Root working for Samaritan, of Samaritan tightening its grip on the world) is ultimately what convinces Harold to upload the virus. She gives Finch the choice... because if there's anything she firmly believes in, its that humanity must chose for itself... but she makes her choice as well. She's written herself off as irrelevant.
    Finch: *stops*
    The Machine: What is it?
    Finch: I promised you I would never hurt you.
    The Machine: I know. But in breaking this promise, you'll be helping to fulfill a much larger one.
  • "Return 0":
    • The Machine sees so much death, people she couldn't help, and it's what taught her compassion. One instance sees her looking at some paramedics performing CPR unsuccessful on a Wall Street banker. A cop looking on remarks that the banker probably has what's left of the cop's pension in his briefcase, and his partner opens the man's briefcase to reveal a birthday card for a child's third birthday and a wrapped present.
    • Reese's farewell.
    Reese: I've been trying to save the world for so long that saving one life at a time seemed a bit anticlimatic. Then I realized: sometimes, one life, if it's the right life, is enough. Goodbye, Harold.
    • Finch's first farewell to Reese after he attempts to keep him out of danger. The way Michael Emerson's voice breaks and trembles as he delivers his lines, not to mention Reese raising his voice for one of the ONLY TIMES IN THE SERIES. Ultimately, Reese is the one to sacrifice himself. Because there was not a chance in hell that Reese would let Finch die. He apparently had a longstanding arrangement with the Machine, who puts Finch on the wrong rooftop.
    Finch: When I hired you, I suspected you were gonna be a great employee. What I couldn't have anticipated, was that you would become such a good friend.
    • The Machine addresses Shaw's fear that, because of her disorder, she didn't love Root as much as she deserved. Shaw hastily wipes away a tear.
    The Machine: I chose you for exactly who you are, but there's something I think Root had wanted to say to you. You always thought that there was something wrong with you. Because you don't feel things the way other people do. But she always thought that was what made you beautiful.
    • The teary look on Harold's hallucination of the Machine when it asks for his approval one last time.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: