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"I told you, it's 'Xander' or 'Sergeant Fury'."
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April 08 2010

The biggest tearjerkers in the scifi pantheon. This io9 list includes two moments from the Whedonverse.

Though let's be honest, there could have been a heck of a lot more. Especially Anya's speech in The Body.

Wesley's death in "Not Fade Away".
Fred's death, along with the rest of "A Hole in the World".
Doyle's death in "Hero".
Topher's sacrifice at the end of "Epitaph Two".

Also, it's not a sad tearjerker, but Buffy's smile at the very of "Chosen" tends to bring on a lot of tearyness.
I gotta say, the moment that gets me every time is Buffy punching then hugging Giles at the end of Passion.
Buffy killing Angel in "Becoming".
The end of "I Will Remember You".
Pretty much all of "The Body".
The hilltop scene in "Amends".

And those mentioned so far.
The Dr Who scene featured in the list really got me, I didn't like how they cheapened it with the end of season 4.
Fred's death, to me, was the saddest death in all of Joss' shows. Tara comes a close second, because it's Tara, and THEY JUST GOT BACK TOGETHER. Sorry, still haven't quite gotten over it yet.
Wesley's death and Fred's death gets me every time. EVERY time. Also, Buffy consoling Giles after Jenny's death is also a frequent tearjerker. Those would be my picks from the Whedonverse.
Oh, I forgot about Jenny. I can't watch that episode anymore. Well, that's a lie. I watch half of the running through the high school, then I fastforward until the death scene is over. D:
re Anya's speech in The Body... I didn't like it. I liked that Willow was angry and didn't understand Anya's point of view. Nice if it had stayed messy and unresolved and Willow could have lived a while with prejudice that she mistook for righteousness.
Riley saying "But she doesn't love me" to Xander
Spike telling Buffy many days she had been away for in "After Life"
The end of You're Welcome.
Willow/Warren's breakdown at the end of "The Killer In Me".
Buffy singing "I was in heaven" on Once More With Feeling and the look of devastation of Willow's face.
Darla dying to give birth to Connor in the alleyway.
Xander's "7 years" speech to Dawn in Potential.
I totally agree with the two Whedonverse moments included in the list, though I also agree with those who say there could have been more. Personally, the very end of Dr. Horrible - when the music cuts out and you just have Billy sitting there, saying that he won't feel a thing - always gets to me.
As far as Wash's death goes, I can see where the writer is coming from. For me, it was everything that came AFTER his death, particularly Zoe's reaction, that really brought the tears for me.
Emmy - I have to agree with your entire Joss list.

Buffy killing Angel in "Becoming".
The end of "I Will Remember You".
Pretty much all of "The Body". (especially Anya's speech)
The hilltop scene in "Amends".

I'd also have to add the expression on Giles' face when he realizes Jenny is dead in "Passion", and when Oz left Willow in "Wild At Heart", especially when he says 'My whole life, I've never loved anything else."
I sobbed at both of the Whedon ones on this list, but the ones that really kill me are Fred and Wesley's deaths. I can't watch "A Hole in the World", "Shells", or "Not Fade Away" without crying myself to sleep. Buffy and Wash didn't actually have me crying until I saw the other characters' reactions.

I like that they included Doctor Who's "Father's Day". I think that's one heartbreaking episode that's often overlooked. And I cried harder at the end of "Doomsday" than at anything Joss has done. Just seeing references to it makes me tear up.

...And because I'm a nerdy masochist, I now have to go watch all of these.
"Giles, I'm sixteen years old. I don't want to die."
The last two scenes of "Innocence" - Giles and Buffy in the car, Buffy and Joyce in the house.
The last scene in "I Was Made to Love You" with the sudden smash to black.
Spike's brief speech, staring into the abyss in "A Hole in the World". More affecting than Anya's speech, if you ask me.
E. Scissorhands I would contend, is fantasy, not science fiction. Wish they would make that delineation in their lists or just say it's a combination. Because it bugs. All the Whedon-notes are being hit already so I'll just add this:

Start at 5:22 in

Don't spoil yourself if you've never seen this film.
Pretty much what everyone has mentioned here and especially Zoe's 'he ain't comin' after Wash is killed.

And Zoe's "she's torn up plenty, but she'll fly true," when you know they're not really talking about Serenity...
Aside from all the scenes already listed, the one that always brings a lump to the throat and tear to the eye for me which may not be an obvious choice, is the Spike/Buffy "I know you'll never love me, but you treat me like a man..." scene. Its not that long, but from the start, the look on his face where Buffy re-invites him in to the end of that brief scene, something just gets me. The actors just nailed it.
Buffy's death was sad, but I cannot watch "Hole in the World" anymore, because it just kills me. That's what should have been on the list.
Wash's death didn't affect me at the time. Not until later did it resonate with me. Maybe because it was so sudden and unexpected. It was more of a, "whoa, did that just happen?!?" moment versus the schmaltzy death of Wesley. Which is my #1 tear-jerk moment. That is followed closely by Doyle's demise. There's just such a torrent of emotion elicited from a heroic death.

Honorable mention must go to the end of Chosen because while it was sort of an uplifting moment for Ms. Summers, it was sad for me because it was "the end."
Fred's death still sort of bothers me since it seemed so inevitable. I mean the character was established enough but as the token remaining girl, more or less, it seemed annoying they had to build her up to an epic damsel in distress and they went a bit too maudlin to hammer in the point. (Winnifred Burkle. Now Thundercats are go!) Even if I did exactly like how she tried to rebel from it.

Plus I thought some of the poignancy comes from the element of self-deception on part of fans. Despite how many times they kept proclaiming that her soul burned up to make way for the awesome Illyria, I couldn't help but keep focusing on the little trace elements we saw of Fred and wondering "what if?"

As for the big Buffy moment, mostly there are just individual lines that perfectly sum up some of the sadness, but merely thinking of the dorm room scene in The Body can make me cry on demand.

I'm sort of surprised they didn't have any sort of cathartic tear moments though.
Agree with much that has been mentioned. Most of all, I'll second Simon on the end of "You're Welcome"--one of the only moments that really, really got the tears flowing for me. I'm not quite sure why--but it hit hard.

Willow & Oz's breakup in "Wild at Heart," and then "New Moon Rising" again.
The class protector award (happy tears).
River: "You gave up everything you had to find me, and you found me broken." And, "I'll be your bounty, Jubal Early. And I'll fade away."
Giles and Tara's duet.
"I don't understand. I don't know how to live in this world if these are the choices. If everything just gets stripped away. I just wish...I wish my mom was here."
Whiskey slowly falling down, and Caroline saying, "I hope we find me alive out there."
Willow telling Kennedy that she chose Buffy over Tara, and she doesn't want to do that again to someone she loves.
Emma and Kitty's last exchange, and the Peter at the end of "Gone".
I agree with pretty much all the scenes already mentioned, but I have to add Willow's speech to Oz at the end of "New moon rising". Never fails to make me sob.
God, there are a million moments that made me cry and some where I ended up on a ball on the floor actually sobbing.

Prophesy Girl - tears
Buffy killing Angel - sobbing wreck
Buffy's death in The Gift - sobbing wreck
Joyce dies - sobbing
IWRY ending - gah! sobbed forever

I also cried at Jenny's death and Giles' discovery of her body, the Willow/Oz breakup, Buffy crying on her bed in Innocence, the breakup and Buffy sobbing in Willow's arms in The Prom, Angel's return from hell when he falls to his knees after saying Buffy's name, Angel leaving in Grad Day II, Fred's death, Wes' death, when Buffy and Dawn collapse in each other's arms in "Forever"...

Yeah, I can mention a lot of crying. lol.
I've seen "A Hole in the World" and "Not Fade Away" over 20 times and I still haven't made it through either without crying! There was a list on here around last August that was 26 greatest sci-fi tearjerkers. I cried when they simply talked about Fred and Wesley's deaths. I also cry at Anya's speech every time. I make it until she says "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." For some reason the 'fruit punch' thing gets to me.
And I need to rewatch it, but I cried for pretty much the entire second half of the Dollhouse finale. From the moment Echo broke down crying to the end - but hard core tears rolled down when Topher sacrificed himself.
We belong to a fandom that causes a lot of tears!!! But that's what makes it great. We care so very much about what happens to these people/vampires/demons/dolls. Gosh, I love these shows! : )
The Dollhouse suggestions made me think of another.
Topher and Whiskeys scene in "Vows".

Amy Acker is just amazing when it comes to tearjerking scenes.
100 points to alexreager for the usage of the word "schmaltzy." That is one of my all-time favorite words! : )
Wash's death didn't affect me at the time. Not until later did it resonate with me. Maybe because it was so sudden and unexpected.

Yeah, Wash's death was too quick and shocking to be tearful and Zoe's response is just too brave, too wise, too her - i'd only ever cry at Zoe out of species pride I think, not sadness. From 'Serenity' it's actually probably the little bit leading up to "My turn" just because both Sean Maher and Summer absolutely hit it out of the park. "The Gift" though, definitely and many of the others folks have mentioned.

'Doomsday' is pretty powerful, particularly because The Doctor's crying too and that's kind of like Jayne being scared of Reavers - if he's crying then it must be sad. What happens to Donna also gets me. "End of Time Pt 2" for sure (not the very end but his "not going gentle" just before his reward gets me, particularly in reference to Wilf). Then maybe a bit misty eyed at the end of "Forest of the Dead" ("Everybody knows that everybody dies... But not every day") though not from sadness as such.

Wesley dying yep, Fred dying yep. But the end of "I Will Remember You" is still probably the sobbiest fest in all of 'Angel' for me - SMG didn't always convince me with her laughing but man, when she cries it's like the end of the world. And maybe oddly, the end of "Power Play" also always gets me - there's something about them standing there apparently at loggerheads while Hamilton looks on and him totally not getting what they're agreeing to do together that just does it.

More generally, the end of "Silent Running" has been one for years. Hmm, what else ? There must be loads.
"I'll just let it burn" - Innocence
The look on Willow's face - There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb
"My turn now" - Serenity
"Your job is way harder" - Epitaph Two
Echo/Caroline tearing up about losing Paul and Topher's final scene from Epitaph Two. Also the Topher/Adelle scene in Epitaph One as well.
There's one moment in Futurama that should be on there. It's the end of Jurassic Bark. If you've seen it, you'll know why.
God, I saw that Futurama episode for the first time two weeks ago. It made me want to hit Matt Groening so hard.
Agreed, that ending is so sad it actually feels kinda cruel.
Oh yes, poor Seymour Asses should definetely have been there :(

Also the entire Babylon 5 finale "Sleeping in Light". I can't even listen to the music without tearing up - and it's the same with the music for "The Gift" (which oddly is the only Jossverse moment that has made me cry).
Wow. We watched very depressing shows.
I have to admit that those final two seconds of Dr. Horrible are probably the most powerful moments in anything I've seen Joss write. And that's pretty amazing when you realize how screwball funny the whole thing is right up until the final few minutes. That's what Joss does, you know. Makes you laugh and feel safe. And then he kicks you in the nads. And we love him for it.

The other moments are easy to list, and everyone seems to have hit the major ones. The best moments aren't necessarily the heroic ones, when the characters set their own desires aside for the greater good (such as Buffy's killing Angel). Not that those moments aren't tear-jerkers. I still like the moments of blinding confusion and despair the characters face the best, because they're so damned rare on TV. Anya's speech in The Body is one (I know not everyone likes it), and the moment in Once More With Feeling when Buffy reveals where she's been. All great moments.
Oh my gosh, how could I forget about Doyle's death? And Angel and Cordy watching the video at the end when the episode ends with Doyle saying, "Is that it? Am I done?" *SOB*
fred wed and doyle are the ones that always get me from the whedonverse, but it's the end of series 2 of doctor who that always gets me. i'm a manly man and the second he says "i'm burning up a sun just to say goodbye," i literally start crying.

agreed that the end of series four didn't cut it. i don't think it cheapened it, it just doesn't have the emotion of the first time.
What does it say about us, that it is moments like these that keep us coming back for more? Just reading through the list (and the additions posted here) is wrecking me.
What does it say about us, that it is moments like these that keep us coming back for more? Just reading through the list (and the additions posted here) is wrecking me.

That we're about of Joss Whedon addicted masochists? LMAO.

- Prophecy Girl - Buffy overhearing the prophecy - that was the first bit of Buffy I saw in the Summer of 1997, and it really got to me, having just left high school. I don't think any fiction had gotten to me like that before. Oh, was I in for some tearjerkers since...

- Passion - the last 5 minutes - not for Calendar, for Giles.

- A Hole in the World - Fred's last scene - the one time Angel really got to me.

- Dr. Horrible - the last few minutes

Never really got tears from anything in Firefly, even though I love the show - no, not Wash's death either - actually, Mal's "Are you all gonna be here when I wake up?" got more to me. I'm sure there's something in Dollhouse, but can't remember right now - not watching it again until it's on Blu-ray.

Agree completely about "The Constant" on LOST. The one time that show (which I love) has brought me to tears. Der Himmel Über Berlin also, yes.

Who: "Doomsday", yes - but like emmy, I hate how RTD cheapened it in season 4. He should know better, but I'm not surprised. No tears in "Father's Day", even if it was emotional. Much more for "Journey's End" - the very ending with Donna, not the cheapening bit before it, with Donna. And - like Saje - yes, the actual "knock four times" bit and what comes right after in "End of Time, Pt. 2" and the ending of "Forest of the Dead" - but moreso the ending of "Girl in the Fireplace". And the last few minutes of Torchwood season 2.

ETA: "Girl in the Fireplace" - how could I forget that? :-P

[ edited by Kaneda on 2010-04-08 23:58 ]
I actually think Penny's death scene was way more tear jerky than Wash's. Wash was more shocking, I held my breath. But the way NPH sold that scene.

And of course I agree with their other choice ;)
Sorry. Accidental double post.

[ edited by DeathIsYourGift on 2010-04-09 00:11 ]
I'll throw "Safe" into the mix. Simon's stoic, at-all-costs protection of River (and then her returning the favor in the film) never failed to work. Man, "Ariel" too, at the end there. I dunno if it made me tear up, but it was poignant. "No mei mei, it's time to wake up". D'awww, maaan. But I'll be honest, River and Simon were sort of my touchstone during the initial airing of the series because I wasn't 100% convinced that the show was working for me outside of "Bushwacked", a few funny moments in "Our Mrs. Reynolds" (still think Morena Baccarin is hilarious with the whole "I only fell is all!" schtick), and "Out of Gas". So "Safe" (which shouldn't have aired out of order and before "Ariel", but did originally) and "Ariel" sealed the deal for me, I enjoyed what little else we got of the series, and then I was able to go back and appreciate it even more with the two or three more times I watched, in proper order and knowing the characters better.

Sean Maher doesn't always get as much attention as I feel he deserved for what he brought to Firefly (Mal, Jayne, Wash, and Kaylee seem to get singled out the most, plus a bit of Zoe for badassery, and then River for the film) and, if I had to pick one thing I most regretted not being able to see due to cancellation, it's his character's journey and all the potentially great little and big moments he would've brought to the screen.

Re: Edward Scissorhands
I'm pretty sure it counts as sci-fi, because wasn't it implied that the man who created Edward (who lived up in that castle on the hill) did so in a Frankenstein fashion (maybe minus stealing body parts though?). It almost felt like Edward may've been partly mechanical, given all the other creations in the inventor's castle that I vaguely recall. There was no magic or even convenient-twists-of-schmaltzy-fate to imply it was a fantasy film. I've thought of it as "lightly sci-fi suburban fairy tale".

[ edited by Kris on 2010-04-09 00:16 ]
Oh snap, I forgot about the end of Innocence. The part with Giles and Buffy in the car... say what you will about all the deaths in the Whedonverse, but this little moment of friendship/family hits me harder than almost anything else. Man, I want to rewatch season two now.
I think they got this list exactly right. Nothing makes me sob quite like "The Gift."
I have but one thing to add:

"We have one more award to give out. Is Buffy Summers here tonight?"
For me, there's a distinction between "tearjerker" and "emotional/poignant/heartfelt/etc.". As far as tearjerkers, for a guy who doesn't do a lot of crying, the end of The Gift did in fact jerk the highest volume of tears. I cried, actual tears rolling down my face, like at no other Whedonverse moment. (Second to that was probably Buffy killing Angel in Belonging II.)

Billy's moment at the end of Dr. Horrible is amazing and had me thinking about it for days, but never drew an actual tear for me. Nor did Wash's death, for reasons that have been discussed. The holograve and Zoe's "she'll fly true" gave me misty eyes and lumpy throat, but that's it. The Gift though was pretty much built for crying: from the death, to the reactions (Spike crying is what put me over the edge), to the tombstone, all with our girl's voiceover.
The Doctor/Rose moment from "Doomsday" kills me every time. It's one of my biggest guilty pleasure sad-moments of all time. I'm not big on the moments they chose for the Whedonverse, though. To me, Fred's death "Why can't I stay?" is probably the hardest moment for me, followed by Willow's breakdown at the end of "Grave". Both of them make my insides tremble at the very thought.
The only one that makes me cry every single time that no one has mentioned is at the end of "Family." Tara's look of devastation when she thinks Buffy is rejecting her and sending her away followed by every single one of those people (except Spike. He doesn't care what happens) standing up for Tara and insisting that she is family when hours ago they were talking about how weird she was and how they didn't get her- for me, that moment sums up half of what the show was all about.
I'm going to throw "Five by Five" in here, because the moment where Faith breaks down actually sends lightning through my heart. After seeing her at her worst and then finally succumbing to her own pain...yeah. very poignant for me. Thought alot of people say Eliza Dushku doesn't have alot of range, I truly believe she does those kind of scenes really well, like in Instinct from Dollhouse.

speaking of Dollhouse, the Epitaph Two with mentally insane Topher and maternal loving Adelle, that whole scene just makes me feel really weak. I always get misty eyed, especially when topher realizes what he's done, and he does it in such a way that makes me believe that he has to go through that everyday, having a few moments of peice and then have it all crash down on him when he remembers what he did.
"If I think I can figure things out is that curiosity or arrogance?"
how do you not respond to that.

And finally, from Firefly(it's not Wash's death) is Tracy's death. Yep, the old soldier buddy of Mal and Zoe. From the episode Heart of Gold I believe.
What really, really, reeeaaaaallly got to me about this was this line
"If you can't run anymore you crawl, and when you can't crawl, you find someone to carry you."
It was the first scene from a Whedon show that actually had me literally sobbing. when Tracy dies and they take him back to his home with his voice talking over the music, I just lose myself. That line has stuck with me ever since, both because it showed pretty much the whole theme of the Firefly crew, and because I always think that it's important for people to be able to depend on one another in need. that line just sums it up for me.
Wesley's death, when he's asking Illyria to lie to him absolutely kills me. Same with Doyle's noble sacrifice, something about when he starts screaming in agony as he saves everyone really gets me as well. "Is that it, am i done?" :(

I also agree shazzam, very touching when Spike gives Buffy that speech about being treated like a man, it was almost more for his own need to say it to her than for Buffy to hear it, wonderful moment. Speaking of Spike i noticed jam2 mentioned this and i just wanted to elaborate how important it was to me.

When Spike sees Buffy's dead body at the end of The Gift and breaks down and starts crying, and he can't even gets his hands to his face to cover the sheer agony he is experiencing... breath taking hurt, my heart bleeds every time i see that personal hell unleashed.
Gah, reading all these post's isn't good for the old clichéd masculinity.

"You think it'll hurt"- Prophecy Girl
"Mom? Mommy?"- The Body
Buffy watching her friends in front of the school, before leaving Sunnydale, at the end of Becoming Part 2. It's the song man.
Xander's speech about trusting Buffy in S7.
The crew returning at the end of Out of Gas. Happy tears!
"The Body" is really an amazing episode. Every time i watched that episode, it always took me to the night when my father died. It depicted what i felt really well. It was in a middle of the night, my mom woke me up and i saw him. He was awake but couldn't move his feet and right hand and i just froze there. Couldn't move, couldn't think. Then when we arrived in the hospital i knew that he wouldn't survive. There was never any show or movie that able to capture and reflect what i feel that night beside "The Body". That's why it always makes me cry every single time i watch it.
I'm getting my major serious complaints out of the way first - No B5 Sleeping in Light? Blasphemy. Someone even posted a YouTube video of the last 5 minutes, in the comments section.

Happy to see that my other major compliant was also heavily represented in the comments - the last half Daybreak pt2, a major sob-fest for me.

And a big non-'verse "agree", The Constant.

I understand choosing The Gift, but there are other BtS choices I would have made ...
The end of Becomming pt2, - and I am so not a fan of the B/A relationship - but that was just great TV (and yes, the Sarah McLaughlin song was the perfect touch and had a lot to do with the waterworks, for me).

The end of Tabula Rasa - Willow sitting on the floor sobbing, as Tara leaves.
The end of Grave.
Willow and Oz's goodbye at the end of New Moon Rising.

The Body did not make me cry - mostly, I couldn't breathe. The cathartic moment for me was in Forever, when Buffy and Dawn, after quarreling, collapse on the floor, sobbing together. That's when I finally cried. (Someone else mentioned that moment).

A Hole In The World - of course. Also the end of Shells - the flashback to Fred leaving home and another perfect use of just the right song.

Faith's collapse at the end of Five by Five - I agree with whoever said that Eliza does these breakdowns as well as anyone.

I didn't cry at Wash's death. I was completely unspoiled for Serenity, and totally in shock. I cried at the beautiful funeral scene.

I agree with the two popular Dollhouse choices:
Topher and Adelle in Epitaph 1, and Topher's heroism (dare I say "redemption"?) at the end of E2 .... "Your job is way harder".
I have to agree with Arison and everyone else that said The Prom's "Class Protector" scene -- I'm having a hard time thinking of any other scene in the entire series where Buffy got to be happy. In other episodes where they gave her moments of happiness, it seems they would always take it away minutes later. We finally got a happy Buffy--and I was thrilled no pigs blood came crashing down on her ala Carrie. She (and we!) deserved a happy ending for once. (even if it was bitter sweet knowing that it was just for that night)
I LOVE Wesley and Fred, but when "the Gift" came out - it was mind and heart blowing.

There have been some fantastic posts here, and thank you to the ones that posted the end of Passion. I totally forgot how amazing that scene is with Buffy and Giles, and some of the most powerful scenes of the entire series are with those two.

Cheers to Tears!
I saw one, Buffy's death in "the Gift," out of only 15.
It was more a fantasy series, but this episode was decidedly sci-fi apparently in its explanation of the weirdness--Miracles' second episode (with the airplane event). D'ahh!

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