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Tear Jerker / True Detective

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Season 1

  • After Cohle shows up drunk to dinner with Hart's family, he tearfully apologizes for it. Emphasised by the implication that the loss of his own family is what's caused Cohle to become so reclusive.
    • In their first one-on-on conversation, Maggie teases out the barebones of Rust's life. Then she asks about children, and Rust says he has a daughter, before hesitantly adding "she passed... marriage didn't last long after that". Maggie goes very still, and stares, and realises just how lonely Cohle is that even his partner doesn't know Rust's life disintegrated.
  • Cohle's speech about how his daughter died peacefully in episode 2.
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  • Episode 3 ("The Locked Room") has a rare one from Hart. Right in the middle of recounting one hypocrisy-laden story after another to Gilbough and Papania, the narrative shifts to a scene where Marty and Maggie are arguing (again), before making up and having sex. The narrative then cuts back to 2012!Hart, lost in his own memories, glancing briefly at his ringless hand. We're shown a rare moment of regret from a man who has spent three episodes displaying both a remarkable amount of hypocrisy and an astounding lack of self-reflection.
  • At the end of Episode 3, Maggie calls Cohle late at night while Hart is out beating up his lover's boyfriend. She asks him if he knows about Hart having an affair, to which Cohle gives an ambiguous answer, wanting to be honest but at the same time not betray Hart and ruin his marriage. Maggie can tell all of this, naturally.
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  • At the start of Episode 4 ("Who Goes There"), Charlie Lange's dazed expression when Cohle pretty much bluntly confirms he got his ex-wife killed. Even Hart finds it to be rather brutal.
  • In Episode 5 ("The Secret Fate of All Life"), when Hart and Cohle find the two kids in Reggie Ledoux's hideout, having been tortured and one of them killed. Hart is immediately broken and executes Ledoux in retaliation and even the jaded Cohle looks close to tears when they carry the kids out.
  • Hart's gradual estrangement from his eldest daughter, Audrey, to the point that, in Episode 5, he slut shames her after she's found parked in a car and in a state of "undress" with two older boys, then strikes her when she tells him to "go fuck [him]self."
  • Cohle and Maggie's sex scene, where immediately afterwards they're consumed with shame and regret. His reaction afterwards is the only time we see Cohle show true rage, when he realises he was used.
  • Marty and Cohle downplaying their lives in 2012, while flashbacks show the real story. Cohle walks out of his shack to dump a bin bag full of beer bottles in his bin, while Marty browses through Match.com with a tired expression, then later watches a microwave dinner alone in his house.
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    • Hart's life in particular is sad because he seems to realize exactly how he screwed everything up, he just figured it out too late. While in 1995 and 2002 he had affairs with women who looked like Maggie when she was younger, in 2012 the dating profiles he browses are all of women who are roughly Maggie's age now. Rather than vainly trying to relive his youth, he just wants to experience family life again. And as his dismal life shows, without his family Marty really has nothing.
  • Cohle's revelation why he's finishing the Yellow King case. He's finally found the will to kill himself, and wants to end his last debt before he can do so.
  • Marty's visit to Maggie in 2012. Marty's clearly been out of his family's life for a long time as he barely knows what his daughters are up to, and he and Maggie haven't spoken in at least two years. Marty gives a sincere thank you, almost apologetically, to Maggie and she asks if he's saying goodbye. Marty can only thank her again as he knows he probably won't be coming back after committing to the investigation with Cohle.
    Marty: I'm glad you're doing good Maggie. It seems like everybody's happy and... it's good to see. Thank you. For everything
  • Marty's reaction after watching the video tape: he can only scream and curse as he realizes that he the cult is still active and he is party responsible for it, because he killed the only witness.
  • Marty breaking down in tears when he receives a visit in hospital from Maggie and his daughters. At first he tries to tell them and himself that he's alright. Then he relents and admits he'll be alright. Then finally he cries from his experiences and how he lost his family.
  • The closing scenes of the season finale, in which Rust and Marty share a smoke outside of the hospital, and Rust tells his old partner about his near-death experience. He wanted so badly to join his daughter and other relatives in death, it's actually pretty heartbreaking. However the scene has an overall heartwarming theme, in that Cohle now has something to look forward to, and a new-found optimism in life

Season 2

  • Ray gets called out by his ex-wife for compromising his values and his work as a police officer by being a Dirty Cop. Not only that, but she wants to get custody of Chad and supervise his visits to him because of what he did to the bully's father.
  • Woodrugh gets frustrated by the media hounding him not only for the controversy with the actress he stopped for speeding, but due to questions on whether he knew the details his Black Mountain colleagues were involved in the Middle East.
  • The shootout. The aftermath is so horrific, with plenty of casualties in criminals, cops and civilians, some even due to friendly fire, that Ani and Ray are both on the verge of a full-blown panic attack after the adrenaline wears off.
  • Velcoro crying once he learns that he never avenged her wife's rape, since Semyon pointed him towards the wrong guy. Doubly so since he realizes this is why his ex-wife was so cold and vicious towards him earlier in the same day.
  • Velcoro having a hedonistic breakdown due to a disastrous supervised meeting with Chad, which culminated in the latter just replying "Ok" to Ray emotionally outpouring his love for the boy. It drives him to even completely revoke his custody claim, just so long as his wife never tells Chad the truth of his parentage.
  • Frank desperately trying to have Jordan leave with Nails. He tries a Break Her Heart To Save Her but she sees straight through it and tell him she is staying to face whatever they face together . The only way he convinces her to leave is by promising her that he would be with her in two weeks, that if he knows she is safe he can do what needs to be done and most of all that if he doesn't stop them and runs with her one day he would find her dead and then he feels he would deserve to die. They both cry while Nails promises Seymon that nobody will get near her. That is the last time they see each other
  • Paul's death at the hands of Burris. Emily seems to feel it across town, suddenly crying.
  • Ray perishing in a forest after a shootout with some assassins as per the vision he had in the third episode.
    • This one deserves emphasis: Ray is being chased through the forest, and knows he has basically no chance to survive the coming gun battle. He pulls out his phone and sends a final message to his son, steels himself, and goes down shooting...only for the phone to reveal that he has no service. The message is never sent.
  • Frank succumbing to his wounds during the finale after confronting his demons.
    • This one also deserve emphasis: Frank goes to meet the Mexicans, to give them "everything he has left", while also secretly carrying many hundreds of thousands of dollars in diamonds in his suit jacket. He meets the Mexicans in the middle of a desert, gives them "everything", and takes it like a bitch when they treat him terribly. They start to leave him stranded in the desert (several HOURS by CAR in the desert), and when he protests, they demand his suit jacket as an additional humiliation. He refuses, they stab him, take his jacket anyway, and then leave him to die. True to his Determinator nature, he stands up, and starts walking. And keeps walking. And keeps walking, for what is implied to be hours, while bleeding out from his stab wound. And just when he gets a Hope Spot, seeing Jordan waiting for him and getting his panache and bravado back, the hallucination points out that he fell way back there. He turns to look, sees his now-dead body...and she's gone after the next camera cut. Frank's hallucination then falls to the ground dead.

Season 3

  • The end of Episode 5, "If You Have Ghosts:" Wayne visits Roland after 25 years and finds his old partner sad, bitter and alone, the exact opposite of how he used to be. What's worse, it's clear that whatever happened, Wayne is partially responsible but can't remember a thing about it because of his worsening dementia. Then Wayne insists on dredging up the worst parts of the past because it's all that he can remember. The entire scene on Roland's back porch is fueled by 100% pure Manly Tears.
    Roland: This what you came to see me about? Twenty-five years. What, you doin' old man fantasy camp? You think you'll just roll up here and I'll be all, Golly gee partner! Let's grab our junior detective clue finders and have an adventure! You... You know '80? We stopped being partners. You got married. It's natural. People drift apart. This right now? This ain't that! All this time. You never picked up the phone. Never dropped by for a beer. Never said you're fucking sorry, once!
    Wayne: Roland, I-
    Roland: I was gonna put that shit aside. Have a drink with ya. Reminisce. Maybe just watch the dogs play and the sun go fucking down. But look what you're doin'.
    Wayne: [pointing to a whiskey bottle] How many of those you go through in a week?
    Roland: Hey fuck you, man! I'm fine! Alone out here. No woman. No kids. And no old friends. So that means I get to drink exactly as much as I want to!
  • A knife-twisting one comes at the end of the season. Hays, who has been struggling with dementia and forgetfulness, finally confronts the still-alive Julie, who was living a new life after the convent helped her restart, but as he arrives he forgets why he was there, instead talking to her without knowing who she was, and thus inadvertently missing out on badly-needed closure.
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