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Tear Jerker / Shameless (US)

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Shameless sure has some downright heartbreaking moments.

Warning: Spoilers unmarked!

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     Season 1 
  • Debbie crying when their fake "Aunt Ginger" has to go back to her home.
    • "Aunt Ginger" then being largely ignored by the other members of the nursing home as soon as she goes back. Just take the damn rice krispie treats!
  • A small one when Fiona says to Steve that "I hope I'm not fucking up the kids," after they have to concoct a plan to return a child that Debbie kidnapped that involves theft and lying to police — and that's the norm for the Gallaghers. Though most of their antics are played for Black Comedy, the contrast between the Gallagher life and the normal, stable home of Casey Casden (which drove Debbie to kidnap him in the first place) is startling. And considering just how far the family members fall after Cerebus Syndrome sets in, she's right.
  • After Frank's brief sobriety makes him impossible to live with, when Lip talks to Fiona about the last time Frank had tried going cold turkey.
    Lip: He had a bet with some guy at the bar and became the perfect dad. It was the first time he ever came to one of my little league games, and I hit a double, and I’ve never seen him so proud.
    Fiona: You knew he was going to go back to his regular shitty self.
    Lip: That's the thing. I didn't know.
  • Lip's summation of their mother to Ian: "You know how Dad's a total fucking asshole?" "Yeah?" "Turns out he's the good one."
  • Fiona breaking down crying as she yells at Monica for leaving them.
  • Karen and the other teenage women being forced/pressured into the "purity confessions" and being told that they have to "repent" for being sexually active, particularly the one who only participated in a sexual act under threat of being assaulted with a pipe, but is still told that she has sinned.
    • And as an extension of this, Eddie's suicide is this as well. Yes, he could quite frankly be considered a monster for his treatment of his daughter, but when he realized that Frank wasn't really having sex with her willingly, he considered why his daughter would be doing that to get back at him and in turn realized how much of a horrible person he'd been, and due to his moral absolutism, he took his own life out of guilt.
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     Season 2 
  • Seeing Claire, a woman who is much younger than her peers in the old person home, try to hold back tears during Excursion Day, as well as pleading to do something interesting instead of visiting the CVS.
    • The death of one of Debbie's elderly friends at the end of it.
  • Frank getting kicked out of Sheila's house and then exploding at Peggy for being a horrible mother, and her not even caring.
  • Surprisingly enough, Frank breaking down and crying, and even going back to Monica after his mother's death.
  • "A Great Cause": Fiona's discovery that Monica and Frank stole all of the family's "Squirrel Fund" savings is just heartbreaking.
    • Fiona's breakdown at the end of the episode is one of the most beautifully tragic moments on television. After Fiona sees all the repercussions for trusting Monica with her responsibilities and trying to have a life of her own, she has a short but epic meltdown in the kitchen... and then stops, gathers herself together, and goes right back into routine, being the mother her own could never be.
  • Fiona shouting at Monica to wake up when she refuses to get out of bed for days during a low swing. Made worse when Debs and Ian try to bring her food, but she refuses it. Made even worse when Monica tries to commit suicide during Thanksgiving dinner.
    • Fiona's desperate call to 911, one of the few times where she calls Frank "Dad" — while the latter abandons ship as quickly as he can.
  • When Lip finds out Karen's baby isn't his.
  • Sheila breaking down when baby Hymie's other grandma comes to take him.
    "Don't forget Neil Diamond!"
  • The immensely melancholy opening scenes of the second season finale.
  • The fact that Monica had an opportunity to receive therapy and recover from all of the crazy, and it was destroyed because of Frank's selfishness.
  • Carl asking Lip if all families are as messed up as theirs.
  • The end of the second season. There is very little happiness to be found there.
  • Karen running away and abandoning Sheila.

     Season 3 
  • Season 3 doesn't let up on the tearjerking moments either. The first episode of the season has Estefania spend most of the episode mourning over Marco after her father shoots him point blank. Though this may double up as a CMOF.
  • There's Lip's message to Karen and it looks like he's going to break down into tears.
  • Fiona's speech to the judge in "A Long Way From Home" as detailed on the series' main page. To reiterate, she was six years old, was stuck with Lip and Ian alone while Frank and Monica were off God-knows-where getting high, and Ian just barely survived a high fever when she had to run to get him to a clinic.
  • In the Season 3 finale we get to see Carl's unconditional (and arguably, undeserved) love for and faith in his father when he shows up at the hospital to shave Frank's head to "let the sun rays in" to heal him, just as Frank had told him earlier that season.
    • "Last message, I promise. Wherever you are... Bye."
  • "Don't... just..."

     Season 4 
  • As much of an asshole as he is, seeing Frank chalk-pale and too weak to stand, pleading with Sammi not to leave him in the depressing hospice care home is just heartbreaking.
  • Fiona walking around the empty house turning off the lights.
    "Good night, Liam."
  • In "Emily", Frank, delirious after surgery, sees the titular little girl and fellow hospital patient as a younger version of Fiona. He shows genuine remorse for his behavior, and Emily plays along with the conversation as Fiona. At the end of the episode, when it appears Emily is about to die, Frank's heartbroken, because as far as he can tell, he is watching his daughter dying. Doesn't help that the real Fiona is in prison throughout the episode.
    • It also doesn't help that Emily plays along partially because her own father abandoned her after she fell ill and this gave her the opportunity to imagine having a father that will take her on all sorts of fun adventures when/if she gets better. It's a double punch in the gut when she dies and never gets that chance.
  • Mike's sister giving Fiona a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech in front of the whole office. While she may have good reason to be angered with Fiona for breaking Mike's heart, it's still just painful to watch.
  • In the Season 4 finale, Ian enters a deep depression, revealing his bipolar disorder. Mickey is in near panic, and when it is explained to him by Fiona he flatly refuses to have Ian locked up in a mental hospital. He wipes away tears and his voice cracks as he asserts that they are all going to take care of Ian in the Milkovich house and nobody is taking Ian away from him.
    • Debbie trying to talk to Ian when Mickey brings her and Carl over for help, without getting much reaction, other than a "leave me alone".
  • Mandy's entire situation with her abusive boyfriend, as well as her heartbreak over seeing Lip with his new college friends.

     Season 5 
  • In the Season 5 finale, Ian breaks up with Mickey because he doesn't want to be with someone who wants to "fix" his bipolar disorder when he doesn't see himself as broken. After all that they've been through, especially in this season, it's a low-key and extremely depressing end to the relationship.
    • Ian's time with Monica before the breakup. He wants to convince himself he can have a good life without medication, but he realizes more and more what kind of life Monica is living, leading to an argument between Ian and Monica, with Monica desperately trying to make him believe her life is good.
    Monica: People like us, we can be happy. I love him. And that's the most important thing — to find somebody to love, right? Who loves you back, for who you are.
    • This is then followed by a hug, and Monica going back into the truck and arguing with her boyfriend while Ian's phone starts ringing because Mickey is calling him. Ian ignores the call.
  • The entire arc with Frank and Bianca. This young woman who's worked hard all her life and has so much of it ahead of her receives a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Frank takes her in to help her fulfill some desires she never got to act on like get drunk off her rocker, try marijuana, and spend time in Costa Rica. However, as her disease progresses and her pain becomes worse, she ultimately decides to kill herself, downing a whole bottle of pain meds and walking out to float in the ocean. Frank's reaction of devastating heartbreak is just as cutting.

     Season 6 
  • In "NSFW", Carl's horror when he sees that Nick has killed the kid who stole his bike, and he vomits and runs home to Fiona, proving that he's just a scared kid not cut out for being a hard gangbanger.
    • The way he describes it to Sean and Fiona sometime later is also sad.
  • "Familia Supra Gallegorious Omnia!"
    • Frank crashing Fiona and Sean's wedding and revealing that Sean is still using heroin in the season finale . The fact that Frank chose to do this just to cause Fiona pain and Sean leaving Fiona outside the church is gut-wrenching. Although Frank does get punished for his actions when Lip punches him in the face and the Gallaghers (plus Kevin, Veronica and Svetlana) literally toss him off a bridge.
    • Debbie telling Lip she doesn't want him to end up like Frank.
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     Season 7 
  • In "Ouroboros", Frank being reduced to tears when Monica reveals she is dying.
  • Lip throughout "Ride Or Die". He's going down a messy downward spiral, drowning his sorrows away with copious amounts of alcohol. He gets blackout drunk, passes out in random locations, and shows up to work hungover, with Fiona pleading with him not to piss away whatever good he's got going in his life. It all culminates with him breaking into Helene's home by smashing a window with the art book she gave him, and her pleading with him to move on and get help.
  • The ending to "Happily Ever After" is a big one, with Frank waking up next to Monica and discovering she has passed away, Fiona leaving Etta in assisted living, and Ian deciding not to go to Mexico with Mickey.
    • Ian leaving Mickey. Again. At the Mexican border no less. Noel Fischer's delivery is heartbreaking.
    Mickey: I don't want your fucking money! I want you to come with... Don't do this.
    Ian: I love you.
    Mickey: Then get in the fucking car!
  • Fiona and Frank's confrontation in "Requiem For A Slut" after Frank physically assaults Debbie and the other Gallaghers while trying to look for the meth Monica left for them to sell. Frank asserts that Monica, for all her flaws, did love her family and was trying to do something good by leaving them the meth to sell and get extra money, only for Fiona to bitterly throw it back in his face by pointing out that does not erase the times Monica abandoned them and dumped the responsibilities for caring for the kids to Fiona, who never got to have a normal life because of that. The way she cries as she recounts how she took care of them all without any help is heartbreaking, particularly this exchange:
    Fiona: She didn't love me. She didn't love you. She didn't give a shit about anyone but herself.
    Frank: (voice broken) Please...
    Fiona: I'm glad she's dead. At least now she can't fuck us over anymore.
    • Monica's funeral, particularly Frank's eulogy.

     Season 8 
  • A broken and depressed Professor Youens telling Lip he intends to drink himself to death in "God Bless Her Rotting Soul" so he can avoid actually committing suicide.
  • "Occupy Fiona"
    • Youens landing in jail as a result of his DUI crash. It's hard not to cry when Lip visits him in jail and yells at him for getting drunk during his trial. The look on Lip's face when Youens tells him that he "chose booze" is heartbreaking.
    • Brad's situation in this episode is pretty heartbreaking too. As a former alcoholic who's helped Lip previously, he falls Off the Wagon in the worst way imaginable, screwing up his relationship with his wife in the process. While he's determined to get himself back on track for the sake of his family, he's clearly in pain and consumed with all kinds of self-loathing. His bleak outlook on Youens' prospects also count, as he's probably had encounters with these sorts of cases all the time in AA meetings.
  • Lip finding out that Professor Youens has died in prison and his subsequent breakdown towards the end of the episode in "Church Of Gay Jesus".
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