Follow TV Tropes

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


Tear Jerker / The Twilight Zone (1985)

Go To

WARNING: Per wiki policy, all spoilers are unmarked on Tear Jerker pages. As such, this page will contain no spoiler markings of any kind. You Have Been Warned.

  • The ending of "Examination Day", as well as the short story it is based on. While the parents had an expectation of the outcome of the test results, their sad expressions at the end say it all. Imagine being parents and being asked by authorities how you want the remains of your child dealt with. No parent should ever have to bury their child. Not to mention that this happens on a regular basis, as the whole purpose of the test is to eliminate children whose intelligence might lead them to challenge or disobey the rulers of this Dystopia.
  • Advertisement:
  • The ending of "Shatterday". While bittersweet, in a sense, a part of Peter dies alone and sick. He and the other Peter may part on good terms, but the other Peter says so himself: "It would've been a lousy way to go."
  • "Children's Zoo" has Debbie approach an exhibit of two good, promising parents who somberly share how they were dropped off at the Children's Zoo by their 7-year-old son. The haunted tone in his voice hints how they both regret not raising their son right, and how they ruined their chance at being good parents all those years ago.
  • "Kentucky Rye" has an Alas, Poor Scrappy variety with Bob Spindler. Sure the guy is an annoyance (especially when he's drunk), and his constant drinking hurts somebody else as well as himself (to say the least). But you can't but help sympathize with him a little when he regrets buying the bar, only to find he's been tricked into staying there as a personal hell.
    Bob Spindler: I never wanted this... I never wanted this...
  • Advertisement:
  • "Little Boy Lost": A woman is trying to decide if she should marry her boyfriend now or go abroad for several years for her job. She meets a little boy and plays with him, but eventually decides to go abroad, angering her boyfriend. The boy is disappointed. He then explains that he is the son she would have had if she had stayed with her boyfriend. In tears, she says that she will marry her boyfriend, but he says it is too late; even if she has children, they won't be him. He then fades away.
  • In "Wong's Lost and Found Emporium", everyone who visits the Lost and Found Emporium is this, considering they each did lose something important.
  • "To See the Invisible Man":
    • Mitchell Chaplin goes from a cold-hearted jerk who enjoys his punishment of "invisibility" to steadily liking his punishment less and less. It gets to the point where he's practically begging somebody to talk to him.
    • Advertisement:
    • There's one point where he sits at a table, and a little boy innocently tells him that's his mother's seat and politely tells him where he can find an empty one. And then his mother whispers something along the lines of "Sweetie, you're not supposed to talk to that man with the ugly mark on his forehead, he's invisible". It's that moment where you see a tiny portion of innocence being overwritten with society's standards of who you can or can't talk to.
  • "Dead Run" is about a truck driver who gets a job carting souls to Hell. During the first scene in Hell, the dead confront the main character, Johnny, telling their stories and begging for help in escaping. The worst part? The things that got them put on "the low road" as Hell is called are pretty trivial thingsnote  something Johnny muses about to a former driver, Gary, who is now trapped in Hell.
    Johnny: They were confessing like they was ancient mariners or something. They didn't sin any worse than the poor slobs I call friends. Throw away their lives chasing after trucks, booze and hookers. No worse than me. They don't deserve to be here.
    Gary: That's right. Neither do I. But we're here anyway.
  • "Red Snow":
    • For a guy who works for the KGB, Ilyanov proves a tragic character, despite how he pretends to be Affably Evil. He secretly tries to give the rebels he captures a relatively lenient sentence of exile. But as he so puts it, "for every life saved, two more were lost".
    • The death of Titov. Ilyanov feels especially responsible that he couldn't even save just one life.
  • The ending of "Devil's Alphabet". The whole thing is a dark echo of the meeting we saw in the opening: a cheerless gathering of sober-looking gentlemen (ghosts) who can't laugh or live or enjoy each other's company like they used to. Frederick, the only living member left in his old fraternity, somberly joins his now ghost brethren in yet another such meeting. He even lampshades at one point how the Devil's Alphabet was originally meant to encourage laughter and casual conversation, not come to meetings for the sake of coming to meetings.
    Frederick: [raising a glass in a toast to the ghosts] Gentlemen, to our mutual damnation.
  • "The Once and Future King": Gary, an Elvis Impersonator, gets sent back in time and meets Elvis Presley the day before he recorded his first record. Pretending to be his twin brother (that died in the womb), Gary decides to work with Elvis (while also making sure he avoids the pitfalls in his life). However, because of Creative Differences (Elvis wants to play slow ballads and thinks the music Gary's playing [which is actually his music] is the Devil's music), the two wind up getting into a fight, resulting in Gary accidentally killing Elvis. He is forced to take his place to prevent history from changing, leading to all kinds of sadness:
    • The ending shows Gary, now in The '70s, telling a young fan (who, before his trip through time, was his manager Sandra) his story, saying that the guilt of killing Elvis and the stress of his performances is killing him (in particular, he mentions having dreams of Elvis telling him that "[he] still [owes] him"). She doesn't believe him and thinks he's just working too hard, kissing him good night. He sadly looks out the window, while "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" plays.
    • As Gary explains, Elvis's mom had some inkling that he wasn't Elvis, and that her son was actually dead. He even hypothesizes that this knowledge wound up killing her.
    • Once touch of sad irony: At the start of the episode, Gary outright refuses to do a show in Las Vegas, saying that Vegas wound up killing Elvis and that he wants to avoid making the same mistakes. At the end, Gary admits that Elvis would've liked Vegas.
    • All Gary wanted to do was be a legit musician instead of a nostalgia act but instead, he spends the last years of his life being somebody else instead of getting famous off of his own name. Between that and the guilt of accidentally killing Elvis, he's Driven to Suicide.note  Hence his advice to a young Sandra to "just be yourself".
  • "A Saucer of Loneliness". The main character's life practically screams loneliness. She's never had a boyfriend all her life, lives with her verbally abusive and alcoholic mother, and if that's not bad enough, her encounter with a saucer garners so much attention that it ironically makes her even more lonely than before. It has to be seen to be believed.
  • "Nightsong" has Andie's breakdown when she looks upon the corpse of Simon Locke from years ago. Just the way she sobs so uncontrollably, you know she didn't just lose a boyfriend or a lover: she lost her soulmate.
  • The end of "The Toys of Caliban". To prevent his son from being taken away by Social Services, Earnest has Toby "bring" a fire, destroying the house and killing them inside.
  • "The Card" has one. Imagine being Linda Wolfe and, after a couple of weeks of your pets mysteriously going missing, your kids disappear from right under your nose, as though they'd never been. Understandably, her desperate search for her sons comes to a head when she breaks down on a doorstep.
  • "The Curious Case of Edgar Witherspoon" ends on a down note, and unless you're paying attention, you might have missed it: After effectively taking over for Edgar in maintaining the machine that keeps the universe in check, Dr. Jeremy Sinclair suddenly receives word that he needs to get a tambourine now. The episode ends with him going on a frantic search to find one, but when he does, the alarm on his watch goes off, depressing him. He was too late.
  • "Dream Me a Life" gives us Roger's reason for pushing everyone away. Three years ago, his beloved wife succumbed to cancer, and he tried to hold her hand to comfort her, but to this day, he doesn't know if she felt it. Deeply hurt by his sense of helplessness, he isolated himself.
  • "Memories" is a Deconstruction of what life would really be like if reincarnation existed to an extent where we remembered our past lives. One particularly depressing case is when our main character Marie stumbles upon a woman willingly dying simply because her present life is miserable. In said woman's past life, she had a loving family and a nice job, and she was popular among friends. She believes "Nobody needs [her]" and wants to start over. Thankfully, Marie objects to this and talks her out of it.
  • Miley and Frannie's rocky relationship in "The Hellgramite Method". The latter is pretty "fed up" with Miley's drinking problem, to the point that when Miley makes the sound decision to go sober once and for all, she merely sighs "Same old broken record..." before her husband convinces her otherwise. And it's never shown in the end if Miley going sober really did solve their marriage problem.
  • "The Call" gives us the back story of Mary Ann: In life, she was an artist who made wondrous creations. But when her boyfriend broke up with her, she was so lonely that she killed herself. But her suffering didn't end there. She reincarnated as the bronze statue of herself and, since then, has known nothing but the very loneliness she tried to escape.
  • "Acts of Terror" has Louise Simmonson, a battered Love Martyr who has tried for years to earn her abusive husband Jack's love and approval, no matter how many times he beats her up for the littlest things (like burnt eggs). She receives a dog statue as a birthday gift from her sister, which summons a vicious Doberman pinscher that attacks Jack every time she feels anger at him. While the Doberman attacks Jack, Louise sadly and tearfully confesses that there was a time when she did love Jack. But now, she doesn't love him anymore. Fridge Sadness: Abuse victims normally "love" their abusers unconditionally, despite what happens to them. The reason she chooses now to stop loving him? Because she learned recently how he was cheating on her with another woman. It must've truly broken her heart to learn she loved this man unconditionally with nothing to show for it, not even fidelity.
    • Their toxic relationship comes a head when during the climax, he promises Louise things will be different from now on... only to snatch her dog statue and break it to pieces. Louise's heartbroken speech is what essentially sells it. Nothing sadder than seeing a normally kind, loving woman broken to the point of using the word "hate".
      Louise: You broke it. It was the only thing that was mine, and you broke. And I hate you. [...] I hate you. I WISH YOU WERE DEAD!
  • In "20/20 Vision", we see glimpses of the Bad Future, where the farmer is but an old broken-down man, and his farm house is abandoned after the bank foreclosed his farm.
  • "Room 2426" has one doozy of a heart-breaker. As it turns out, Martin's new friend Joseph is actually a spy who tricked our hero into giving away the location of the notebooks he was hiding. Thankfully, Martin escapes by invoking teleportation that existed all along, but not before learning of Joseph's betrayal. The episode ends on a Bittersweet Ending: Martin may have restored faith in the impossible and possibly in the powers that be, and he did manage to burn the notebooks so no one would abuse his findings, but his faith in friendship has now been damaged.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: