- Michael's desperate worry after hearing that his father has been shot, despite his estrangement from his family.
- Vito torn by the news of Michael being the one who killed Sollozzo and McClusky.
- Vito's reaction to seeing Sonny's body:Vito: [weeping] Look how they massacred my boy...
- From the very first scene:Bonasera: They made her drink whiskey. And then they tried to take advantage of her. She resisted. She kept her honor. So they beat her, like an animal. When I went to the hospital, her nose was broken. Her jaw was shattered, held together by wire. She couldn't even weep because of the pain. But I wept. Why did I weep? She was the light of my life — beautiful girl. Now she will never be beautiful again.
- Tom Hagen's reaction to Sonny's death. Particularly in the novel, where it's detailed that he feels as if he has failed. He's also the one who has to tell the news to Vito in another heartbreaking scene. No wonder he needed a drink first.
- When Vito is shot and nearly killed, Fredo's reaction is just painful. Not only was he sitting in the car instead of protecting his father, but he fumbles his gun, allowing the shooters to get away. When he sees Vito's injured body lying in the street, he just sinks to the ground and sobs "Papa!"
- Apollonia's death. They were so happy with Michael you can almost tell it's too good to last...
- And while Michael is busy getting married in Sicily, Kay is desperate to find him.
- Tessio is taken away and appeals to Tom, who is quietly saddened by the turn of events.Sal: Tell Mike it was only business, I always liked him. [...] Tom, can you get me off the hook, for old times' sake?
Tom: Can't do it Sally.
- Michael and Sonny's goodbye before the latter leaves for Sicily becomes this in retrospect, as it's the last time they ever see each other.
- Tom's backstory. He grew up in a dysfunctional family with a violent alcoholic for a father and a mother who apparently was completely neglectful towards him. His mother contracted an eye infection and later died of an unknown disease. In reaction to her death, his father wound up drinking himself to death. Tom and his younger sister were put in an orphanage, but Tom ran away (as 1920's orphanages didn't have the greatest track records when it came to the treatment of their charges), and spent an unspecified amount of time living on the streets. By the time Sonny found him, he was starving and nearly blind in one eye (having developed the same infection his mother had before dying). In the novel it says that even as an adult, Tom has nightmares of him and his children reliving his horrible childhood, showing that he's a lot more affected by this than he seems.
- After Vito gets shot, Tom tries to convince Sonny to not get revenge and try to make a deal to avoid bloodshed. Sonny does not take it well and things get heated:Sonny: That's easy for you to say, Tom, he's not your father!
Tom: (clearly hurt) I'm as much a son to him as you or Mike!
- Nobody, but nobody, counts Fredo.
- Vito confides to Michael that he is cursed with his legacy.I knew Santino was going to have to go through all this and Fredo... well, Fredo was... But I never- I never wanted this for you. I work my whole life - I don't apologize - to take care of my family, and I refused to be a fool, dancing on the string held by all those bigshots. I don't apologize - that's my life - but I thought that, that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the string. Senator Corleone; Governor Corleone. Well, it wasn't enough time, Michael. It wasn't enough time.
- Tom Hagen witnesses what Woltz has done to an exquisitely beautiful pre-teen actress. The description of the sweet child torn and broken on the stairwell — while her mother's all business and clearly unconcerned with her daughter's pain — is enough to make you cry and puke.
- Right after it's revealed Kay had an abortion so she wouldn't have to bring another child into the Corleone's ruthless world, the scene fades into a flashback of baby Fredo suffering from pneumonia, crying hysterically and Vito tearing up outside the door, feeling helpless. It's such a heartbreaking sequence, showing how much parents want to protect their children from experiencing pain and hardship.
Michael: Enough! [Beat] You won't take my children.Kay: I will —Michael: YOU WON'T TAKE MY CHILDREN!Kay: They're my children too...
- Even before then, Michael slapping and shouting at Kay sounded more like he was scared than he was mad about losing his kids.
- The fallout between Mike and Fredo is full of these:
- Michael confronts Fredo in the middle of the New Year's party and delivers a devastating line with almost reptilian but true, anguished emotion.Michael: I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart, you broke my heart.
- The scene where Michael coldly disowns Fredo. The whole time he's speaking, Fredo is weeping and begging for forgiveness.Michael: You're nothing to me now... You're not a brother. You're not a friend. I don't want to know you or what you do... I don't want to see you at the hotels. I don't want you near my house... When you see our mother, I want to know a day in advance so I won't be there... You understand?
- Just before that, watching Fredo spill out all his rage and despair at Michael for having been stepped over as the older brother, being treated ill by his own family, becomes just heart-wrenching. And on a meta level, watching John Cazale give this incredible performance in this one scene, considering how short his life and acting career ended.
- Shortly after Fredo is murdered, we cut to a flashback from 1941, where Michael gets criticized by Tom and Sonny for his decision to join the marines. The only one that supports him is Fredo.
- Listening to Fredo cast his fishing line into the waters of Lake Tahoe, offering a Hail Mary prayer with Neri sitting behind him, finishing out the entire tragedy with a discretionary off-screen gunshot...
- Michael confronts Fredo in the middle of the New Year's party and delivers a devastating line with almost reptilian but true, anguished emotion.
- Vito's mother Signora Andolini's Heroic Sacrifice. Knowing full well it would result in her death, she held a knife to Don Ciccio's throat and screamed at Vito to run so as to ensure that he would live. And with her death, a young Vito was left completely alone in the world...
- In a Saga only scene, the film concludes with Kay in a church, lighting candles for Michael's soul. Despite their divorce, she clearly still cares about him.
- Speaking of Apollonia, Michael's flashback to their wedding day. When the flashback ends, he's in tears, showing that after all this time, he hasn't forgotten her.
- Michael's confessional to Cardinal Lamberto:Michael: I, uh, betrayed my wife. I betrayed myself. I've killed men, and I ordered men to be killed. No, it's useless. I killed... I ordered the death of my brother; he injured me. [He now begins to sob] I killed my mother's son. I killed my father's son.Lamberto: Your sins are terrible. And it is just that you suffer. Your life could be redeemed, but I know you do not believe that. You will not change.
- When Michael has a stroke, after Joey Zasa's assassination attempt. It starts out as Nightmare Fuel since it legitimately looked like Al Pacino was having one for real. It goes into this territory when he shouts one name before his collapse.Michael: FREDO! FREDO!
- Vincent ends his relationship with Mary in a very cold way. Especially considering she is killed a few minutes later, and this is the last thing he says to her.Mary: I'll always love you.
Vincent: Love somebody else.
- Connie watching, regretfully, as her godfather Don Altobello is dying in his seat at the opera.
- A one-two punch with Mary's death, followed by Michael Dying Alone.
- It's Michael's agonized screaming after Mary's death that does it. That's not grief. That is PAIN.
- If one interprets the movie by the original title suggested by Coppola, The Death of Michael Corleone, then the entire movie is one big Tearjerker.
- It's been said by many that THIS moment, Mary's death, is the moment that Michael Corleone dies. His daughter dying leaves his spirit completely broken, and the final scene is just his body catching up. So, in a way, you can say that Michael Corleone dies screaming in agony.
- Not to mention the montage between the two tear jerkers featuring all the women Michael has lost - Apollonia, Mary, and, in a sense and now permanently after Mary's death, Kay.
- The sheer, undignified manner in which Michael dies, with him slowly falling off his chair with a wide shot, and the dog nearby running around him. It solidifies Michael's tragic journey, one where he unwillingly embraced his family's violent business, exacerbating his ruthlessness and driving his loved ones away from him until the bitter end.