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Tear Jerker / The Phantom of the Opera

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The show

  • The final scene:
    • When Christine went to give Erik his ring back
    • "Christine, I love you. . ."
    • Thanks to YouTube, the show's longevity, and its numerous versions, there are countless versions of this scene—there are even YouTube clips outright titled "Phantom Comparison" to allow us multiple views of this and other signature scenes. Sometimes Christine runs off before he even finishes the line. Other times, he holds onto her and tries to prevent her from leaving, often offering her the ring again. Gentler versions even have her trying to offer him some measure of reciprocation—giving him the ring after he declares his love for her, kissing his hand, touching his face. One particular favorite has her kissing him a THIRD time. But however it's done, it never fails to make your heart break for him, and sometimes even for her, as there are times when it's obvious that she's genuinely sorry that she can't return his feelings.
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    • One part in particular, the Dark Reprise of Masquerade, which dissolves some people into Inelegant Blubbering until the end. It doesn't help that the stage Phantoms often keep repeating "I love you!" brokenly after they sang it, some shouting it into Christine's veil, clinging to it pitifully because it's the only thing they have left of her.
    • Seeing the broken mess of a man left on stage after Christine and Raoul depart is... Just heart-rending.
    • As well as that final line, "You alone can make my song take flight. It's over now, the music of the night." If you weren't crying already, most actor's delivery will put you over the top.
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    • Even before all that. After the Phantom has released Raoul and orders him and Christine to leave, some actor's delivery of "Go! Go now and LEAVE ME!" are so wrenching that it borders on frightening—see Ramin Karimloo's version in the 25th anniversary concert for a perfect example of this.
  • The absolute anguish in the Phantom's voice when he sings "No compassion anywhere," is particularly heartwrenching.
    • Don't forget "Down once more to the dungeon of my black despair. Down we plunge to the prison of my mind. Down that path into darkness deep as HELL!!!" Done right, the line is bonechilling and heartbreaking all rolled into one.
  • Just about any time "All I Ask of You" is being sung or reprised, really.
    • The reprise of "All I Ask of You" is so, so much sadder.
    "Anywhere you go... let me go too...!"
    • When Christine and Raoul sing, they request that each other "Say you need me with you here, beside you." When the Phantom sings to Christine after Point of No Return, he changes it: "Say you want me with you..." He has given up all hope of being needed and simply wishes to be wanted by someone, anyone.
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  • Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.
  • Howard Mcgillin's Music of the Night. Holding out that last note, looking at Christine so lovingly, as if she was his EVERYTHING
  • Nowadays, most Phantoms kneel at Christine's side (after she's fainted) and take her hand while singing, "You alone can make my song take flight. . ." Makes it even sadder when it's recalled in the final scene of the show.
  • In "Stranger Than You Dreamt It", when Christine accidentally unmasks the Phantom. We don't see his face, but she does and is horrified. He CRAWLS towards her, understanding that she's repulsed, but still pleading for even a hint of affection, and she gently hands his mask back to him.
    • At one performance, the actor playing the Phantom caught a glimpse of his own reflection in the shards of glass framing the mirror bride and just crumpled, sobbing "Oh, Christine..." Talk about putting the Woobie in Jerkass Woobie...
  • During the first incarnation of All I Ask Of You, as it nears the end and you can see him on the angel above the stage listening to the lovers... Leading up to his declaration ("you will curse the day you did not do..."), over the last few lines that the lovers sing you could see him shaking, putting his hands over his ears and thrashing back and forth, very clearly just trying to make it all stop, go away, anything at all just to not have to hear it... It was ridiculously effective at displaying his torment.
    • At least one recording with Michael Crawford takes this a step further and has the Phantom give a muffled, agonised howl as he listens to them sing.
  • The 25th Anniversary performance on DVD, with Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom. It's kind of hard to find any single Tearjerker moment for the Phantom, but the end was really striking. During the "Point of no Return" trio, the Phantom himself is even crying. And then during the reprise of Masquerade, when he mimics the action of the toy and smiles like a comforted child. Oh, and then when Christine returns the ring, and when she goes to leave, she looks back at him and he gives a tiny encouraging nod, as though to let her know that she's completely free and he won't pursue her.
    • Karimloo's Phantom is just the most heartbreaking thing ever. The closeup on his face as Christine is kissing him, flailing around with his hands like he can't believe it, then just melting against her, holding her hand to his cheek with the most quiet tender desperation.
    • Karimloo's face when Christine screams 'Tears of HATE!' is heartbreaking, like he knows he's messed up forever and has crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
      • Added to that is his delivery of the line "You try my patience. Make your choice." Most productions have him deliver it in a snarl but Karimloo's delivery is heartbroken and resigned, like he knows Christine deserves better than this but he doesn't know how else to act.
    • Most Phantoms do pretty well with this moment—for example, Norm Lewis basically crumples and collapses.
    • The way Sierra's Christine looks at the Phantom after returning the ring - she wants to help him, but she can't. He just can't be saved. She starts to leave but turns back with tears in her eyes and all the Phantom can do is sadly nod, encouraging her to go.
    • When Karimloo screamed "Angel in HELL!" All he wanted was to be loved, to be adored like one does with an angel. But the twisted part of him doesn't allow for that.
    • When he screams, "Go now! Go now and LEAVE ME!", it's downright terrifying.
    • During the reprise of "All I Ask of You" the Phantom hears Christine and Roul proclaiming their love, and the Phantom just covers his ears like child trying to put as much distance between himself and the bad things as possible.
    • Hadley Fraser's Raoul is also very heartbreaking with the anguish in his voice when he screams "Let me see her!" and he immediately rushes to her side as soon as she can. And when Christine kisses the Phantom, the look on his face says it all: he understands why she's doing it, but it still absolutely kills him to see the love of his life kiss what he considers a monster.
    • Made even worse by the fact that unlike in the Broadway staging, Raoul isn't being held back by a gate. The Phantom is literally choking Christine when Raoul gets closer, and he's forced to stay put and watch helplessly as the girl he promised to protect is being hurt.
    • Also from that DVD: during the celebration after the performance, when the four famous Phantoms, joined by Ramin Karimloo, sing "Music of the Night." Ramin directs the final line ("You alone can make {our} song take flight") at Michael Crawford, the originator of the role. Most people cannot watch that part without tearing up — and neither could Michael Crawford. Oh, God, the wibbly lip....
    • Prior to "All I Ask Of You," in the DVD version, when Christine hears the Phantom calling out to her, she fearfully looks around before she just breaks down and then stares up at Raoul, looking as lost as a child, when he offers his hand to her.
  • It's hard not to feel any sympathy for the Phantom, he is such a Woobie. Even though he can be a Draco in Leather Pants according to misguided fans, the fact is that he is a tragic character. The fact that he lets Christine go at the end is what allows him to retain his status as a woobie. This is what LND misses the boat on, he let her go, and sacrifices his own happiness.
  • It's hard to explain why, but one thing which can often seem saddening if not tearjerking is the final moment in the musical when, after Erik has vanished from his throne, the mob breaks in, including Meg, and she picks up his mask and looks at it. Maybe it's because it seems to hint that she, the one character who remains innocent and sympathetic throughout the whole musical, now seems to be showing sympathy for the Phantom without even knowing him the way Christine did. The fact in the libretto the moment is described as her holding it "in her small hand", emphasizing her youth and vulnerability, only adds to it.
  • A bit of Fridge Horror in Meg leading the mob to the Phantom's lair, the long way around. The fact that she reflexively, desperately offered to go with Raoul despite the danger when her friend was kidnapped is more heartwarming than a tearjerker, highlighting how much she loves Christine. She disobeys her mother's orders to stay behind in order to rally a second rescue party, they finally get there...and find an empty room, the Phantom and Christine clearly having recently vanished, Raoul and her mother nowhere to be found. Meg thinks she was too late.
  • Carlotta breaking down when she finds Piangi's body backstage. It's such a quick moment, but it's so sad. She may be The Prima Donna, but she did love her husband, and Piangi died for being at the wrong place at the wrong time and in the way of the Phantom's plan. Carlotta is not acting when she loses it.
    • This gets a bit more screentime in the 2004 film version; even as the theater starts to burn down, she's crying over his corpse. It might be the saddest moment in the film. With a bit of thought, this whole business makes sense: Piangi is a bit of a jerk, but he doesn't do anything to warrant being killed by the Phantom except be in the way of an onstage reunion with Christine. Moreover, he genuinely cares for Carlotta as a person, and the feeling is clearly mutual. And this relationship gets sacrificed on the altar of one that isn't possible.
  • The end credits of the 2004 film adaptation gives us the heartbreakingly beautiful song "Learn to Be Lonely". What adds a bit of awesome/heartwarming to it is that the person singing is Minnie Driver, who, believe it or not, played Carlotta.
  • Raoul during Final Lair (especially as played by Hadley Fraser) deserves his own entry. He was the one who thought of the plot to use Christine as bait for Erik and coaxed her into doing it out of worry for her wellbeing and their relationship. Final Lair was his My God, What Have I Done? moment - this is yet another part where he truly shows his concern for Christine. He tried his best to get Christine to think for herself and flee ("Don't throw your life away for my sake!"/"For either way you choose he has to win!") and, failing that, tried to provoke Erik into killing him so that she could run ("Why make her lie to you to save me?"). His line of "I tried too hard to free you," implies that he did not want to involve her in the plot, but views it as a necessary evil that he now regrets because he sees how much it is tearing Christine apart to choose between them. ("Christine, Christine, don't think that I don't care...") In sum, a man who was so confident, so sure of his ability to save his loved one is here being put into a helpless, vulnerable position, with his life at stake, while realizing that all the risks he took were all for nothing.
  • Many of Raoul's songs on the original cast recording are this for some people after Steve Barton's death in 2001.
  • The Phantom pleading with Christine at the end of "Point of No Return," even singing a repriese of her love duet with Raoul. In spite of all the horrible things he's done, he just sounds so desperately alone, and is practically begging her to let him be in her life. Oh, Erik...
    Erik: Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime.
    Lead me, save me from my solitude.
    Say you want me with you here... beside you.
    Anywhere you go, let me go too!
    Christine, that's all I ask of...
    • ...Followed by Christine ripping off his mask. Admittedly, it's awesome, but it's still hard not to pity him.

The Novel

  • The revelation that the Phantom/Erik's own mother never even kissed him because of his deformed face is heartbreaking. Your mother should be the one person you can count on to love you no matter what, but Erik never even had the comfort of that. Is it any wonder why he's so bitter towards the world?
  • During the epilogue of the Leroux novel, the narrator mourns for Erik and the circumstances that led him to be a monster, when if he'd only had a normal face he could have been one of the most recognised and celebrated geniuses who ever lived. "He had a heart that could have held the empire of the world, and in the end he had to content himself with a cellar. Ah yes, we must needs pity the opera ghost."
  • There's something very sad about what Erik wants from Christine. What does the poor guy want in their marriage? He wants to go to the park with her on Sundays and buy little presents for her. That's pretty much it. No mentions of intimacy. No mentions of romance or anything. All he thinks marriage is are what most people take for granted, things he's never had the joy of experience, given his deformity. It almost wants to make you let the poor guy off the hook. Almost.

The Miniseries

  • Christine faints after seeing Erik's face, after repeatedly assuring him that she loves him too much to care how he looks. He lets out an agonizing howl of anguish, "WHY?!" and breaks down sobbing.
  • This gets a Meaningful Echo at the end, when he's dying. She removes his mask over his feeble protests and kisses him gently, showing that as she said before, she loves him too much to care about his appearance. This time, he utters a tearful, grateful, "Oh, Christine. . ."—-and dies in his father's arms.
  • Carriere tells Christine the story of Erik's birth and reveals he is Erik's father. It's shown how Erik's mother died in child birth and Carriere never showed her Erik's face, letting her die thinking she had given birth to a beautiful boy. Carriere thus raised Erik, letting him think he was "some sort of uncle."
    • Later on, Carriere tries to talk Erik out of his homicidal plans by revealing himself as his father. Erik simply smiles that he wondered when Carriere was going to say it.
    Erik: My eyes are the only part of my face I can look at in a mirror without wanting to break the glass. But they're not her eyes...they're yours.
  • Richard White's performance as Erik in the musical version of this series (a decent bootleg of which can be found on YouTube) is especially heartbreaking. Though the show mostly follows the same plot as the series, some soul-crushing changes include:
    • Christine does not faint after seeing Erik's face in this version, but rather is overcome by horrified revulsion and runs away in terror, unable to stand the sight. When she screams Erik collapses and desperately tries to block out the sound, then breaks down completely; screaming in agony, destroying the painted forest he had created, and finally curling in on himself while sobbing. The song which follows this (called 'My Mother Bore Me') is terribly sad in its own right.
    • Unlike the Charles Dance version, in which Erik appears to be dying of some unknown illness, here he is shot by one of the soldiers in the chaos which follows his grief-stricken rampage. He looks and sounds so believably pained during the conversation in which Gerard reveals himself as Erik's father, and even more so later when he begs Gerard to shoot him.
    • As in the miniseries, Erik begs Christine not to take off his mask as he dies. She does so anyway, singing to him and kissing his forehead as he expires.
    • In the 2004 Takarazuka Revue Cosmos Troupe production of this musical, Christine kisses Erik's deformed cheek as he dies in her arms and the way he smiles at her in overwhelmed adoration and gratitude in the following moments is enough to bring tears to anyone's eyes.