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Tearjerker / Empire

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Season 1

  • The flashback in "The Lyon's Roar" to Cookie tearfully saying goodbye to her family before going into the courtroom to hear the verdict (which was obviously not in her favor). The episode ends with another flashback, showing her sitting alone in her cell, surrounded by pictures of her family, softly singing "You're So Beautiful" to herself.
  • Andre confronts Lucious about why he refused to make him temporary CEO of the company. In the ensuing argument, Lucious flat-out tells Andre that he's not a part of the family and will never run Empire Entertainment. At the end of the episode, Andre is sitting in a studio booth, while 'The Great Pretender' blares in the background. The punch comes when the camera closes up on Andre and he's about to shoot himself and screams when the gun jams.
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  • The sad and disappointed looks on Jamal and Hakeem's faces after discovering Lucious impregnated Jamal's ex-wife, resulting in Lola, in order to make them stay together.
  • Just the idea of Cookie never seeing any of her kids for 17 years. And her so-called husband sending her divorce papers after he promised he'll always be there for her.
  • Cookie's heartbreak when dealing with Andre's mental illness for the first time. Despite her belief that bipolar and other mental health disorders are "white people's problems", Cookie quickly realizes that something is very wrong with her son and that she was never once informed of it. The fact that Lucious never mentioned it to her, during or after her time in prison, just makes it even worse due to their current relationship with each other.
  • The fear on Rhonda's face when Andre slips into a bipolar episode and screams at her while throwing objects off the conference room table. She's been shown at several points trying to make Andre take his medication and despite her thirst for power, it's obvious that she loves him dearly and attempts to mitigate his disorder to the best of her abilities. When Lucious directs the paramedics to Rhonda as his next of kin, she's curled up and crying against the wall, and has to visibly force herself to sign the legal papers to keep Andre under 48-hour medical supervision.
  • In flashbacks, Cookie having to pull Jamal out of the bin and get him away from Lucious, and tearfully comforting him as she runs back into the house carrying him. Plays to the Adult Fear in all of about our inability to protect our children from our own families.
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    • And from Jamal's perspective, realising that your own father despises you for something so innocent, and having to grow up in fear of him, without your mother there to protect you anymore.
  • Jamal telling Lucious about watching him compose, and thinking that if only he could do that, maybe Lucious would love him. Its painful to think that any son would have to earn his fathers love. Its also the wistful way that Jamal says it, as if he's already accepted the fact that he never will anyway. It even seems to affect Lucious, seeing the level of inadequacy and loneliness Jamal must feel, knowing what he thinks of him.
  • Andre being painfully aware that he is the favourite of neither of his parents.

Season 2

  • Episode 2.01 gives us Cookie watching her plans to give Andre and Hakeem an equal share of Empire - and also save Jamal from turning into his father - blow up in her face. This culminates in Jamal ordering her to leave the family home for 'betraying [Lucious] my father.' It's painful watching them grow further apart when all throughout last season, Jamal and Cookie were all each other had in terms of support.
    • Watching Jamal obviously struggle with trying to run the company and make his album. He takes on the worst of Lucious' characteristics with almost none of his business savvy or people skills. The poor boy's been only at this for three months.
  • Episode 2.02 opens with Cookie, Andre and Hakeem being fired from Empire Records. This family has never been more divided.
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    • Andre's reaction to being coldly rejected by Lucious for his part in trying to oust him from Empire. In tears, he furiously points out that Lucious hates Jamal for being gay but named him his heir, and Hakeem slept with his fiancee but still has his career. And here's Andre, actually apologetic and trying to make amends, only for Lucious to throw it back in his face. Then he goes quiet and finally asks his father: "Why do you hate me?"
  • Andre's attempts to return to Empire and win back his father's approval being met with further scorn and indifference. Made even worse when Lucious rebukes Andre for trying to use his unborn son as leverage against him.
    • The flashbacks to Lucious' childhood, and having to take care of his bipolar mother. Includes one heartbreaking scene where Lucious has to gently tell his mother that they have to return the toys she bought in a manic episode, so they can have food to eat.
  • Episode 2.04 has Andre's fifty-nine word eulogy of Vernon from apologizing for the events that transpired his death to genuinely wishing he could've changed what happened and acknowledging it was his influence that made him the man he is today.
  • Episode 2.11, in which Rhonda suffers a miscarriage, and the Lyons' collective grief at the loss of the unborn child.
    • Cookie actually pushing Hakeem away, because his vote caused Lucious to lose the company, telling him to his face that nobody wants him around because he betrayed the family. He can't even comfort Andre when he's openly wailing.

Season 4

  • Episode 4.08. It turns out "Pamela" was just a hallucination, brought on by Andre's therapist prescribing him psychosis-inducing drugs. If you thought Andre's previous psychological breakdowns were sad, the one he has at the end of the episode will destroy you.

Season 5

  • Episode 5.09. Kingsley's reveal of his past is terribly saddening. Had Lucious simply given Tracy and him some attention, his life might have turned out completely different.
  • Episode 5.18. After talking to Lucious while holding him at gunpoint, Kingsley commits suicide to save Andre and to escape his own demons. Lucious is devastated and the funeral scene later on in the episode is heartbreaking.
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