TV Tearjerkers: Episodes That Make Us Cry

You settle into your couch, stuff your face with snackage, and prepare for some quality mind-wasting time—and all of a sudden you find yourself crying like a little kid who skinned his knee. These are the TV moments that catch us off guard, but also make us come back for more. Television has the power to make us laugh, cower, and beam with happiness, but it's the moments when we're reaching for tissue that stick with us the most.

We asked the writers at TV.com to recall some of the episodes that always make them cry and gathered up some clips to make your eyes wet as well. Don't forget to share your own weepy moments in the comments; we'll be your shoulder to cry on.

The West Wing

"Two Cathedrals"
The West Wing's brilliant second season built to a singular moment in the finale. President Bartlet and his wife had been covering up the President's advancing multiple sclerosis, and it was finally time to reveal the deception to the American public (having only revealed it to the rest of the staff, like, two days prior). Bartlet was weak from disease and from verbal beat-downs of all stripes, consultants, and Congressmen telling him this was career suicide. But in the 11.5th hour, Bartlet realizes that not only does he want to run for a second term, he absolutely must. Regardless of how hard it will be. He's so sure, in fact, that he plows through crowds of people from the Oval Office to the press room, refuses a jacket in the pouring rain, ignores press secretary CJ's advice to call on a reporter with a softball question first, and goes right to someone with the big guns: "Are you going to run again?" Bartlet stands there, supremely confident. While tears stream down my face at home. —Steve Heisler



Firefly

"Out of Gas"
Talk about a roller coaster of emotions! "Out of Gas" alternates between the present day, where the Serenity is experiencing some catastrophic, possibly fatal mechanical problems, and the stories of how each person on the ship came to be there. We watch Mal at a shipyard years earlier, being told that if he buys this ship, she'll be with him for the rest of his life. As he and Zoe recruit their crew, Mal gets ribbed about the "new" ship's rundown condition. Back in the present day, things just get worse and worse, but Mal manages to repair the ship on his own after sending everyone away in escape pods. At the end of the episode we cut back to the shipyard scene, and realize that the salesman had been talking about another ship—a sleek, modern one. Mal isn't listening to the pitch. Something else has caught his attention, and he smiles. It’s the Serenity. On top of being a genuinely touching look at how this misfit crew became a family, you see the sacrifices they've made for each other, and how much they adore their ship. Just when you think it can’t get any sweeter, you realize that the Serenity is just as much of a misfit as everyone it carries. One-way ticket to Niagara Falls, please. —Emily Gordon



Lost

"Through the Looking Glass"
Chaaaaarrrrrrrlie! Noooooooooooo! You knew it was coming for several episodes, but it didn't matter. Damn you and your strings, Giacchino! —Tim Surette



The O.C.

"The Dearly Beloved"
The O.C. was about privileged, sheltered teenagers living in an idyllic bubble—and yet their trivial life problems made me tear up at least once an episode. I cried when Seth sailed away on the Summer Breeze in the first-season finale, and I broke down with Marissa as she tried to compose her college application essays during Season 3. But "The Dearly Beloved" turned me into a sobbing wretch. Season 2 ended with Caleb's stunning funeral procession, Kirsten's public breakdown, and Marissa shooting Trey—all to the tune of Imogen Heap's haunting "Hide and Seek." Watch it and weep. —Stefanie Lee



Six Feet Under

"Everyone's Waiting"   The last six minutes of Six Feet Under are the most brutal I've ever seen on television.  Set to Sia's "Breathe Me," we follow Claire as begins her long drive to New York to start a new life, alone. As she sobs with fear for her own future, time starts speeding up, and we see the Fisher's future. We watch Keith and David marry, we watch Claire marry, and we are forced to watch every single main character of the show meet their own demises. As was customary in the show, Ruth, Claire, and David each see their dead family members just before they pass.  Some deaths are dramatic, some are just the eventual end to long and rich lives, but all are heart breaking. This episode is a sobfest no matter who you are, but the finale also aired the week before I moved away from my family in North Carolina to start a life of my own in Chicago. My sister and mother and I were all huge fans of the show, and the coincidence was not lost on us. My sister actually made me a CD for the road with that song. I still can’t listen to it. —Emily Gordon


What TV moments turn on your eye faucets?

NEXT: More episodes that made us cry >>

Roseanne

"Into That Good Night, Part 2"
The final season of Roseanne got its fair share of flak, and I can't say I don't understand why: It took the struggling lower-class family we'd come to love and gave them lots and lots of money. But I enjoyed the wacky rich-people hijinks that ensued, and the lottery storyline paid off in the end. The series finale concludes with Roseanne admitting that the last season was a figment of her writerly imagination—a story she made up to cope with Dan's death. I start to well up when she admits, "I lost Dan last year when he had his heart attack," and the tears continue through to the end, as Roseanne sits on her less-than-glamorous couch, alone. —Louis Peitzman



Buffy the Vampire Slayer

"The Body"
In a show about vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness, it figures that the most shocking and upsetting death would be a natural one. Buffy's mom Joyce passes away from a brain aneurysm, and "The Body" deals with the aftermath. The episode offers a somber reflection on mortality—no music, no supernatural elements (save for a vampire at the end), no snark. The scene that always gets me is Anya's speech, in which the 1,000-year-old former vengeance demon tries to come to terms with the impermanence of human life: "I knew her, and then she's—there's just a body. And I don't understand why she just can't get back in it, and not be dead anymore." —Louis Peitzman

The Sopranos

"Long Term Parking"
After watching a couple seasons of The Sopranos, I realized that David Chase was not, in fact, killing off characters just to toy with my delicate emotions—he was actually advancing the plot. (Imagine that!) At once, I began to brace myself for the potentially brutal, spontaneous deaths of my favorite characters, and it helped lessen the blows of those whacks. But nothing could have prepared me for the shock of “Long Term Parking.” Silvio, Tony's hands-off consigliere who hadn’t so much as taken a mistress for five whole seasons, drove Adriana out to a forest and shot her. I still can't believe it. —Stefanie Lee



My So-Called Life

"So-Called Angels"
I tear up whenever I hear the My So-Called Life THEME SONG, but for a show in which basically every episode is Very Special, the 1994 Christmas episode, "So-Called Angels," is on a whole other level of tear jerkage. When gay character Rickie gets kicked out of his house (literally?), Angela and her clueless upper-middle-class family torment themselves over what to do about it. There's a devastating moment where typically aloof and apathetic Jordan Catalano reaches out to Rickie, having been abused himself. But the episode saves its most audacious and earnest scene for last: a local homeless teen girl (Juliana Hatfield), having successfully united Rickie with Angela's family, reveals herself as Rickie's guardian angel (literally!) and ascends to Heaven. Hi, I'm running for Mayor of Crytown. —Price Peterson



Futurama

"Jurassic Bark"
Sure, "Luck of the Fryrish" is also an instant eye-moistener, but nothing makes me lose it like cartoon tales about the loss of a pet. When Fry discovers the fossilized remains of his dog, Seymour, he decides to clone the pooch to bring back his BFF. But just as he's about to extract some doggy DNA, he learns that pup dog lived another dozen years after he fast-forwarded a millennium into the future. Fry then comes to the conclusion that Seymour must have found a new owner and forgot about him, so he cancels the cloning and accepts that Seymour moved on in his absence. A flashback proves otherwise, and many manly tears are shed. —Tim Surette


Friday Night Lights

"A Sort Of Homecoming"
When I get upset or stressed out, I find myself with an unhealthy fixation on one tiny, insignificant thing. The singular focus is the quickest path to avoiding the pain at hand—a total stop-gap solution. On a related note, nothing is more emotionally powerful than recognizing this behavior in others. Such was the case when, on the eve of his father's funeral, Matt Saracen arrived unexpectedly at the Taylor's house for dinner, only to criticize their choice to serve carrots, a vegetable Saracen doesn't like and HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY NOT KNOW THAT? In a moment that should have singlehandedly clinched Zach Gilford the Emmy, Saracen twirls those carrots on his plate, muttering to himself and devolving into a sloppy, teary mess. Me too. —Steve Heisler


What TV moments turn on your eye faucets?

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You said it: The Body is the most gut-wrenching thing I've ever seen, and I continue to feel that way no matter how many times I've seen it. That episode - literally - keeps me up at night, still.
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Agree with The West Wing - "Two Cathedrals" and the series finale of Roseanne, but the other one that always gets to me the most (besides MASH - "Abyssinia, Henry") is the Season 3 episode of Homicide: Life on the Street - "Crosetti." The final scence of Det. Pembleton (Andre Braugher) in his dress uniform saluting is one of the most moving scenes I have ever seen on TV.
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Henry Blake's death on MASH. Several Buffy episodes -- "The Body", Tara's death, "The Gift". Fred's death on "Angel". Criminal Mind's "100". The three 9/11 episodes of "Third Watch" and the death of Bobby Cannavale's character on "Third Watch" (I still can't listen to "Only Time" without tearing up). Mark Greene's death on "ER". The deaths of Denny, George, Lexie and Mark on "Grey's Anatomy". The death of David Tennant as the Doctor on "Dr. Who". Magnum's listening to the recording of Michelle's death on "Magnum, P.I." I have a feeling that the firefighters' tribute to the little boy on "A Coffin So Small" on "Chicago Fire" will be right up there, too.
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Buffy the vampire slayer "the gift". Is the only show that I can remember crying my eyes out, when she dies.
There are a few other shows that have made me tear up however, the episode of Buffy when she has to kill Angel at the end of season 2. Yes, I agree with the Roseanne season finale episode. Most recently JR Ewing funeral on Dallas. When Sue Ellen spoke over his grave saying that she would have dinner with him....I was real close to turning on the water works.
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It's possible that, as well as issues with pacing and fractured storyline, the third place on this list contributed to me stopping Lost...it's possible...that's all I'm saying...*EMOTIONS*
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Oh my that would be a very long list...
But recently I cried when I saw the episode of ER and Mark Greene died.
Man I couldn't help it
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There are four episodes of MASH that do it to me every time:
1. Henry Dies
2. Radar leaves
3. Margaret lets the other nurses know that she's lonely and feels alienated
4. Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (the whole two hours)
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"I have a message. Lieutenant Colonel... Henry Blake's plane... was shot down... over the Sea of Japan. It spun in ... there were no survivors."[

Gets to me every time as well.
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Also the episode of Friends where Monica proposes.
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Six Feet Under last episode, watched that on a bus commuting to work in Prague and I really struggled to hide my tears!
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Mark Greene
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I have to agree with the "Angel" episodes that dealt with Fred's death, Mark Greene dying on ER, Tara dying on "Buffy", but, the episode that left me bawlin' was "Criminal Minds" Riding the Lightning (where the husband/wife serial killer team, murdered 14 blonde girls). The wife had murdered no one except, supposedly, her own son (who her husband had told her to kill, when he was 2, because he slowed them down). Come to find out, he was placed with a good family, and was still alive ... but, would the female confess her innocence, could they save her if she did (doubtful, it was 2 days to execution), and would she tell Gideon who her son was, so he could bring her son to see her before she was put to death? Gut-wrenching and sad!
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It's ridiculous that ER didn't make the list, I cried for the entire episode when Mark Greene died. Grey's Anatomy when Meredith discovered that John Doe was actually George and when Cristina told Alex and Dr Bailey that Izzy has cancer. CSI - when Grissom made the low-profile exit and left the show (bring him back!) Glee Season 1 - Sectionals - When they didn't have a set list and Rachel sang "Don't rain on my parade" I am sure there are more.. but these are off the top of my heads, still cannot believe ER didn't make the list.
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Futurama, where's Fry's dog just kept waiting for him.
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I can only think of a few instances where I may have welled up. One would be that episode of Cupid where Jeremy Piven thinks he's brought two people together, but the guy gets runs over by a car on his way home and the woman (who had a weak heart) receives his in a transplant. Then there's the episode of Law & Order where the reveal was that the apartment fire that had killed a retarded child had been set by his mother in an attempt to kill both of them because she was stressed out from caring for him on her own. And finally, there's the end of the Doctor Who episode, The Girl in the Fireplace, when the Doctor returns to find years have passed and the Marquise has died..
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One that really got to me was Criminal Mind's "100" in which George Foyet - aka The Reaper (C. Thomas Howell) - finally meets his end, but not before killing Hotch's estranged - but still much loved - wife, Haley. The whole "Reaper" story was an incredibly well done roller coaster, set up when Hotch refuses to take the Reaper up on an offer to stop killing people as long as Hotch stops hunting him. This begins a cat-and-mouse game with clues about and messages from Foyet are sprinkled over the next few episodes until the season finale where we see Foyet surprise Hotch in his apartment and are left hanging for the summer with an unseen gunshot. When the show picked back up the next season, we learned that Foyet had attacked Hotch, stabbing him in the same way Foyet had stabbed himself (so that he's be seen as a victim and not a suspect) and Hotch having to send his estranged - but still much loved - wife Haley and young son Jack into hiding, with a promise to Haley that he'd spend the rest of his life making it up to her. The strain of the situation is touched on in following episodes as Hotch is relegated to only being able to celebrate his son's birthday by watching a video of him, and eventually steps down as team leader - both so that Foyet will think his life is falling apart - something Foyet wants to see quite badly - and because his life actually IS falling apart. Sadly, he never gets that chance to keep his promise to Haley as in the episode "100" Foyet takes Haley and Jack hostage, and - as Hotch, who's racing helplessly to his home to try and save them, listens in - murders Haley, with Jack only being spared because Hotch was able to use a touching father-son memory to tell him to hide while Foyet listened to the call. When Hotch gets to his home and sees Haley's lifeless body on the floor and Foyet once again attempts to attach Hotch, their fight is nothing less than the months of fear, anguish and furor that Hotch had been burying in order to keep functioning, exploding from his grieving heart in an utterly believable and understandable rage as he kills Foyet with his bare hands. The episode itself opens with scenes of Hotch's teammates in silent slow-motion rushing into his home to find the scene as it was after Hotch had killed Foyet - though the audience doesn't yet know what happened - setting a tense and anxious scene before flashing back to the events leading up to that moment. The events were then recalled by the various team members as they reported to Hotch's boss - who had long been looking for an excuse to remove him from the team - about what had happened. The whole arc was just beautifully done. It was touched on often enough to keep it alive for the audience without ever overshadowing the team's regular job of investigating crimes wherever they were needed, and Hotch's decline was subtle but present. By the time the episode ended, I had been in tears for the better part of the hour, and I still get weepy when I see it in repeats. It was just an exceptionally well-written and well-performed story that hit all the right emotional buttons
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Haven't actually bawled at TV (save from losing big football matches) but I do have some moments where I well up EVERY TIME. Firstly the 10th regeneration of the Doctor - David Tennant's last scene and his words "I don't want to go" are just brutal (why the hell do that to us!?) - and even though Matt Smith is excellent it's hard to take seeing David explode like that. Theother real choker for me is Buffy's "The Gift", when she sacrifices herself for Dawn, with Giles and the gang seeing her body on the rubble and Spike losing it in the background. I guess I'm a sucker ofr a real hero and I don't like to see them go.
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I would say, News Radio's "Bill Moves On" and Scrubs' "My Lunch" are both classics on the tear jerkers.
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I have to give credit to 24. Edgar's death in season 5 when him and Chloe look at each other through the glass. And also Tony's death in the next episode (before he came back in season 7) when he looks at Jack and says "She's gone Jack" and dies in Jack's arms, Jack realizing he's losing his best friend.
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I really can't believe how you can yourselves a "good TV site" and in an article like this, you don't mention for instance:

Prison Break? In season one, when they are strapping Lincoln to the chair and Veronica and Michael are crying and are helpless. Then in season 2, where Michael turns himself in for Sara... Season 3, where he finds out Sara's dead and season 4 Mahone's pain for his son and Michael's deadh, which got to be the most painful image on history of TV - well, right after the part where he kills himself with electricity.

Dexter? Final episodes of season 1, where he finds out his past and kills his brother...

24? Such a lot of tearjerkers, where he must kill Ryan Chappelle (while holding gun to his head, Chappelle admits that he has no friends and no family and cries...), finding his dead wife in season one, saying goodbye to Chloe...

The X-Files and Battlestar Galactica has quite tearjerkers also...

And you didn't mention any of the above. I would understand if I was the only one mentioning this but you can see in the comments that I am not the only one.
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1. Saving Grace, the season finale. Seeing everyone salute including Earl as Grace's body is being carried by Ham and Butch.I couldn't stop crying especially when Ham throws the engagement ring, Episode 2 of Moonlight: When Mick reveals to Beth that he is a vampire. He looks so lost and vulnerable. 3. ER: Love Labor Lost and Death of Dr. Greene. 4. Prison Break: Death of Michael 5. Greys Anatomy: Death of Denny and George. 5. Bones: Finding out that Zack was part of the Gormagon evil plot. 6. 24: Jack saying goodbye to Audrey
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I got a lot, just in 3 shows. John Doe - When John finds his friend dead in the island. Season 1 - "Ashes To Ashes". Prison Break - Michael's tombstone was a really hard image to see on the end. Season 4 - "Killing Your Number". The Final Break also. But the breakout from Fox River made me feel an amazing emotion that included tears. Season 1 - "Go" & "The Flight". The X-Files. Scully's cancer killing her, making feel Mulder responsable and then he cries next to her meanwhile she's sleeping at the hospital. Season 5 - "Redux II". The movie Fight The Future & The End of the series were exciting too.
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Ally McBeal when Billy collasped and died in the courtroom and of course ER when Dr Greene died and Dr. Pratt.
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I can only think of two. Providence, whenever the dead mother appeared especially at the end of the program was always difficult. Memories.



The other was Lassie from a long time ago. A two or three parter where the dog is lost. Timmy finally accepts it and starts to bury the dog's toys. Then you hear a bark in the distance. Finally the dog comes runnng over the hill. I still cannot tell this story today after all these years.
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As weird as this sounds, an episode of Heroes got me all choked up, "Company Man". When Noah gets shot and Claire leaves... gah. And I saw someone mentioned an episode of Hey Arnold, "Parents Day"? I agree! It'll break your heart. Also, Lost, pretty much every time anyone died, except for Jin and Sun, because I was mad that they were ditching their kid haha
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How about when the weather started getting rough and that tiny ship was tossed. I was almost in tears. If not for the courage of the fearless crew the Minnow would have been lost. Luckily it wasn't and i cried Tears of Joy!! :-) Does that count?
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How can (several) episodes of ER not make this list?The two that stand out the most are the final letter about Dr. Greene's passing and number one ( my personal all time sobfest) the episode where we lose Dr. Pratt (Mekki Phifer). One of the saddest events ever on TV.
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The episode of Bones where Booth reveals his love for Bones, and she basically says no (literally says no). You could see the heartbreak for Booth, and watched him try to pick himself up and say that he is going to find someone who makes him happy then. That was also a tear jerker. And pissed a lot of Bones fans off.
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Marie Sixel: I totally agree with you on that Scrubs episode. It was a very moving episode and a total tearjerker. Also with scrubs, the episode where JD is thinking about what the future may hold for all of them, with glimpses of the actual future, and I believe there were flashes to the past as well. The music there just helped that scene along as well, and made tears come to my eyes.
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what about when marcia broke her nose on Brady Bunch and Doug Simpson, big man on campus, broke their date.

i wept for her!!
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1 more I thought of. Laverne and Shirley when Laverne's firefighter boyfriend dies in a fire and he was going to ask her to marry him. She's standing in front of his gear and helmet and told him she would have said yes.
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NYPD Blue. Simones Death, & The episode where Sipowiz's wife is shot dead in the court house ): . Archies Place, when Archie says goodbye to Edith while sitting on the end of the bed. MASH, Radar stating Col Blake's plane has been shot down, and of course 50% of the finale MASH episode. Then of course there's General Hospital, When luke finally saw Laura on the lawn of the Mayor's mansion!!
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Sounds silly, but the episode of Scrubs, where we learn, at the end, that Dr. Cox's borther in law (played by Brendan Fraser, reprising his role from a pervious season and who was hilarious) is really a figment of his imagination. There are hints through out the show, but the end, where Dr. Cox and Brendan Frasers character (cant remember his name) are talking about going to a funeral and then it's just Dr. Coz talking to himself and JD and we realize it's his brother in laws funeral? That killed me. You don't often see a comedic lead break down like that. I think it made it all the more touching and human.
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BOy Meets Worlds: The finale, the main cast saying goodbye to Feeny in their old classroom



South Park: Kenny Dies-where the offically kill off Kenny for the season, and Stan couldnt stand seeing Kenny in the hospital and at the end he gets enough courage to see him and Kyle tells him hes gone and his last words were "Wheres Stan"



Hey Arnold: Helga on the Couch: Helga talks about her horrible homelife and how Arnold was the only person to acknowledge her.

Parents Day: Shows how Arnold parents left and how hard it was for them to leave him



Futurama: The Sting-Where Leela was dreaming of Fry



Friends: The finale-i was bawling at the end where everyone left their keys



Grey's Anatomy-Season 5 finale: Where you find out the bus guy is George and where Izzie and him meet in the elevator
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24 - Either last moments of Season 1 when Jack holds dead wife Teri in his arms, or Season 2 when he has to say goodbye to Kim before he almost goes down with a nuclear-bomb carrying airplane
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Judgement Day or Twilight on NCIS.
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Its probably said somewhere in the comments here about the SOA episode, I'm too lazy to look... but Gemma admitting her rape to clay and jax is the only time I've ever cried during an episode of television.
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@ rye06p - Which is the other one?
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the body is one of only two episodes in the entire world of television shows that make me cry.
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "The Body", when Buffy's mom dies. I was a serious hardcore Buffy fan and I identified with the show very much. This episode was true hell for me. I was soooo right there with Buffy and the gang.
Buffy: Mom? Whadya doin'? Mom? ... Mom? ... Mommy?
Giles (answering the phone): Hello? Buffy: Giles. You have to come. Giles: Buffy? Buffy: She's at the house.
Then, when Buffy tells Dawn at school.
And I seriously broke down when Anya began crying after Willow had scolded her for making one of her wonderfully inappropriate remarks. That's when Anya became a real person. Sort of.. "And, and Xander's crying and not talking, and, and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me WHY.."
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Californication. Last season. last episode. last 5 minutes. Oh my gawd that was heart wrenching
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I can't believe Criminal Minds episode 100 wasn't included here, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? It was heartbreaking when Hotch was talking on the phone with Hayley and then the shots were fired ... it was amazing
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Amethyst52,

I too am very weepy. Nothing wrong with that. I agree with all your picks. I have one that gets me. It's a very, very old movie called "Going My Way" At the end when Fr O'Malley brings in Noah Beery's Mother from Ireland. It had been year since he had seen her.
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When i saw this i had to to se firefly again.
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When Bobby Simone dies on NYPD Blue, when Radar comes in the OR and says COL Blakes plane crashed, (I never forgave the writers for that) NCIS the Dead Man Walking episode, when Sun and Jin drown, Warrick getting shot on CSI, too many to list! Hallmark commercials make me cry, I'm very weepy!
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West Wing when during the kidnap of Zoey, when Donna and Josh walk out and see the candles, flowers and everything lining the wall, I lost it.
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and when Tara died in Buffy. Heartbreaking.
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Futurama 'Jurassic Bark' made me curse like a mad old lady and cry like a baby.
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defentliy when mark green died on ER
and when alex died on roswell
haaa Chaaaaarrrrrrrlie! my favorit carecter on lost!!!
it was so sad
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Seriously Hayley's mum on OTH ... balling my eyes out while the'yre sitting on the bed watching the photos it was beautiful to see (and still have trouble watching it now ... I tear up every time )
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Definitely Mark Greene dying on ER, too many on Supernatural to count, when Jonathan died and later when Lana was all kryptonited up and had to stay away from Clark forever on Smallville, and Alex dying on Roswell.
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Every week Parenthood makes me and my family cry. Such real life situations with problems actually being met with learning and tender moments. I especially cried when Sarah played by Lauren Graham has had moments with her daughter, a very believable character and wonderfully acted but also the moments of parents with a child with Asberger's touches others who deal with a disability in family as well. Great show, good tears. Nice to have a show that isnt focused entirely on sexual situations as that is so far from what true life is all about, as well as shows that show no consequences from bad choices.
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