Whether it is for a happy or sad reason, I love it when an episode of television can move me to tears. As Katie said a few weeks ago, it gives us the opportunity to examine ourselves and figure out why it affects us so much. It also gives us an outlet for our feelings when they get to be too much. Sometimes we just need to cry but if you’re like me, you don’t always give yourself the space to fully feel, so clips like these are waiting for us and give us the freedom to fall apart on our own terms. These are 10 moments that not only made me cry the first time I watched them but continue to make me feel deeply on re-watches as well.
Sawyer and Juliet remember (LOST) Yes, I know this finale is one of the more divisive in television history. But if it’s one that works for you, it is almost guaranteed to make you cry. While all of the reunions are emotional, the one between Sawyer and Juliet makes me cry the hardest. This love story snuck up on me and got one of the most perfect episodes imaginable in “La Fleur” before being tragically separated. Their typical banter is so beautifully reflected in this scene but it’s the montage of their relationship that starts the sobbing for me even before the looks of wonder that cross each of their face as they remember their history. It was a gift they could never have imagined and the way they cling to each other and that glorious smile on Juliet’s face as she tells Sawyer to kiss her will stay with me forever.
Tommy and Eric reunite (Girl Meets World) There was no better story arc for Eric on Boy Meets World than his brief relationship with Tommy. Eric loved Tommy enough to give him up so he could have his best chance. Eric wasn’t in a position to be a full-time parent, no matter how much he wanted to be. So he let Tommy go and find the family he deserved. It was a story that made me cry every time I watched it and just hearing that it had been revisited on Girl Meets World had me crying before I watched the clip. Hearing Tommy talk about Eric is such glowing terms and knowing that as he grew up, he recognized exactly what it was that Eric gave him and never forgot him was simply beautiful, as was the look on Eric’s face when he realized who he was. It was a moment that probably played better for fans of the original series than fans of the new one, but I’m so grateful they made the decision to revisit such a successful story line.
Seasons of Love (Glee) I think Glee handled “The Quarterback” in the best way they could but this song is most successful as the cast’s tribute to Cory Monteith. The grief wasn’t what their characters were feeling for Finn, it was what these actors felt at the loss of their friend. The staging was simple and it was a remarkably understated moment for the show, which just felt right.
Rory’s going away party (Gilmore Girls) As soon as Jackson and Zach show up with umbrellas to escort Rory and Lorelai to the party, I am a mess. I love seeing everyone we love in Stars Hollow there to celebrate Rory and that it’s also a way for the audience to say goodbye to them. Kirk’s ridiculous sash is perfectly fitting as is Taylor’s awkward preamble to Rory’s speech. In recent watches, however, it’s been Lorelai’s conversation with her parents that gets to me the most. Richard is right, the party wasn’t only for Rory. Yes, Stars Hollow has fallen in love with her and many of the adults at that party had a hand in shaping her as she grew up. But it’s also a testament to the life Lorelai made for herself and a tribute to the love this town has for her. It does take a remarkable woman to inspire that love and there is not a more fitting word to describe Lorelai Gilmore.
Victor’s adoption (Parenthood) It’s a running joke that every episode of Parenthood will make you cry and that is especially true of season finales, this one being no exception. The Bravermans are a special family. There are so many of them and each of them have so much love to give so of course everyone squeezed into the judge’s chambers when it was time for Victor to be adopted. Seeing them all standing behind Joel, Julia and Victor in support would have been emotional enough but then they went around and promised Victor that they were all his family. They’d teach him to play baseball and be there for him and give him bad dating advice and love him always. It was a celebration for this new addition to the family and of the love they share that is found in everything they do.
Ben’s proposal (Parks and Recreation) There are so many Parks and Recreation moments that I could have chosen and narrowing it down to one was nearly impossible. This moment is pure joy and there is no one who conveys that emotion better than Amy Poehler. And all that joy is matched by the beautiful sincerity on Adam Scott’s face. Everything about this scene feels exactly right for them from Leslie’s need to memorize everything about the moment to the adoring look on Ben’s face when she tells him to wait. It’s simply perfect.
You stayed (You’re the Worst) This is at least the 3rd time I’ve written about this scene, so there is a chance I will be repeating myself. Nothing on TV made me cry harder in the past year than this scene. The second half of the season was hard to watch (in a good way). The show never demonized Gretchen for her depression but it also let us see how hard this was on Jimmy and his struggle to cope with this new side to his girlfriend. It was frustrating and I yelled at him a lot but I also understood what he was feeling. When Gretchen told him to leave and go find happiness with Nina, my heart broke for both of them. But Jimmy didn’t listen and as a result, we got this beautiful scene. We see the initial confusion on Gretchen’s face as she wakes up before the reality of what was happening hit her and it allows her to drop the walls she had been maintaining and collapse into him. The overwhelming nature of her feelings takes over and you feel them all, thanks to Aya Cash’s stunning performance.
Beckett arrests Bracken (Castle) This triumphant moment hurts a lot to think about right now, but it didn’t feel right to leave it off. This moment gets at the heart of why I love the storytelling that television makes possible. Over six seasons, we watched Kate Beckett struggle with the death of her mother and her quest to find the people responsible. We saw her come so close to answers only to fall short. We saw her lose herself in her mission. We saw her decide to choose a life that was more than just this case. It became a journey for this character that we were able to take with her and become emotionally invested in. This moment was the culmination of that journey, not just for Beckett, but for the fans as well. For those of us who dearly loved this character, it was a moment of pride and accomplishment that we were allowed to feel with her and for her. It was a powerfully filmed moment but it was made even more potent because we intimately understood what this moment meant for Kate Beckett and that is something that television makes possible in a way that other mediums never quite manage for me.
Jason Street gets hurt (Friday Night Lights) This is the moment I fell in love with this show. As this list shows, I cry a lot at TV. But this was in the very first episode, before I was attached to any of the characters, and it was all because of how real this world already felt. I was a cheerleader at a school too small to have a football team so basketball was the sport of choice. We traveled to a lot of small towns that weren’t quite as extreme as Dillon, but high school basketball was definitely a way of life. I recognized my own experiences and it brought back the memories of seeing my fair share of sports injuries and the quiet restlessness that comes over the crowd when they happen. It’s a very specific feeling and Jason Katims nails it. I feel the worry coming off of each character and it never fails to bring me to tears.
Standing/Under Your Spell reprise (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) There are dozens of moments I could have picked from this show because as anyone who has ever loved a Joss Whedon show knows, the man is fueled by our tears. There are moments that made me cry harder (anytime Willow cries), moments that I felt so deeply that I was beyond tears (the end of The Gift), and moments that are more iconic (Anya in The Body) but I love the understated emotion that runs through this scene and of course, Anthony Stewart Head and Amber Benson sound wonderful together. I may never agree with the decision to send Giles away but the emotion that he pours into Standing and the reprise is staggering. You feel his sorrow and desire to protect Buffy all while knowing he can’t. You feel Tara’s betrayal and heartbreak at Willow’s actions. But you also feel all the love Giles and Tara have for Buffy and Willow, respectively. It’s quietly devastating and that makes it all the more potent for me.
What are some of the moments that make you cry?