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July 05 2016

Ranking the Whedonverse's most soul crushing moments. That good feeling you got from celebrating the 4th of July? Let this list kindly rip it away from you. And in the spirit of cheeriness, Bloody Disgusting has a "10 Buffy Moments Guaranteed to Make You Cry" list.

How is Buffy's "Passion" not on this list? Everything about that episode is just soul crushing moment after soul crushing moment!
Angel getting cancelled would be my number one.
What about, "Goners never being made."
Can't miss what I never had.
If the list was a bit longer, I would have included Doyle's end.

"Our rates are low, but our standards are high. When the chips are down, and you're at the end of your rope, you need someone that you can count on. And that's what you'll find here - someone that will go all the way, no matter what. So don't lose hope. Come on over to our offices and you'll see that there's still heroes in this world.

Is that it? Am I done?"
I was coming here to mention 'Passion' too. I'd also put 'A Hole in the World' much higher up because it gets even worse every time.

I was interested that the Battle of Serenity Valley was in the list, because it must only make it there on rewatches. I can't imagine any first scene of a series would hit people hard the first time.
alexreager - that scene instantly came to my mind as well. It's marvelously written. The video is goofy, charming and funny at the start of the episode, then it ends with Angel and Cordy watching it in silence and the same thing fits like no other dialogue would. Those final words "Is that it? Am I done?" - that might be the Whedonesque moment where I'm mostly struggling to keep myself from breaking down and crying.

That, and the bit in the Body where Joyce is revived and thanks Buffy for being there in time, only to cut back to the reality of her talking to the policeman with her looking straight in front of her, not in his eyes.
Or the bit in the Body where she tells Dawn what happened.
Or any other scene in the Body.

One other Buffy scene which always hits me hard is something much, much different: it's the bit in Potential where Dawn is so disappointed and sad about not being a potential slayer, but gets comforted by Xander who tells her that she's "Not special. You're extraordinary." So beautiful. One of my favourite scenes from the show.
I added a link to a Bloody Disgusting list for sad Buffy moments. Passions is on it btw.
Like some other such lists I've seen, this one is just slightly off... the moments chosen are certainly momentous, plot- and character-affecting at very deep levels. But the soul-crushing part almost always is slightly before or slightly after the specific moment that has been listed.

12. The Battle of Serenity Valley might have somewhat crushed Mal's soul, but not the audience's. That moment actually came in Objects in Space, during River's speech to Jubal, that the rest of the Serenity crew was forced to hear.

11. Topher's sacrifice in Dollhouse (Epitaph 2) was his redemptive moment. The soul-crushing moment for that character came in Epitaph 1, when he came face to face with his own guilt: "Why didn't I think of that... did I think of that?!"

10. see 7 below

9. this one works for me

8. Anya's death may have been unfair (to her, to Xander, to the audience) but it wasn't nearly as soul-crushing as her return to the vengeance-demon racket earlier.

7. Buffy's sacrifice was necessary, and true to her character. The soul-crushing moment is not her act, but (a) Spike's immediate reaction to it, and (b) Willow's reaction, in OMWF, when she realizes her mistake in bringing Buffy back.

6. I cannot agree that *everything* related to Fred is soul-crushing. Her death was tragic (and necessary for the storyline to move to a new place). But the soul-crushing moment was Spike's and Angel's acceptance that they were powerless to prevent it.

5. Buffy killing Angel might surely have damaged her soul, but not the audience's -- again, a necessary part of character and story. Her departure from Sunnydale following that act (set to a Sarah MacLachlan dirge) is where the gut-punch happens.

4. The death of Tara is another tragic moment but the soul-crushing comes just a tiny bit later, with Willow's reaction to it. We feel her pain.

3. Wash's death is perhaps the best example of getting the moment wrong in this list... his death was tragic and shocking in its suddenness, yes. But the true moment of soul-crushing comes just a few minutes later, when Kaylee asks about him and Zoe answers. Whedon forces the audience to become Zoe and feel what she feels, forcibly deferring our grief, because there is still too much dangerous action to come and this is no time to lose focus. Brilliant storytelling.

2. I Will Remember You is romantic tragedy, but heroes making sacrifices is somewhat par for the course in this genre.

1. The Body is perhaps the most difficult episode of television I've ever watched, but it's not Joyce's death that crushes the soul. I'd put that moment at the end of the previous episode, when Buffy comes home to find her mother prone on the couch... cut to credits, and we have to wait an entire week living with that dread and anticipation.
From the article: "Before we had Game of Thrones to kill off major characters, we had Buffy". Wrong. "A Game of Thrones", aka the first book of "A Song of Ice and Fire" was published in 1996, so George R. R. Martin was killing off main characters before Buffy started doing that.
It seems odd that the Battle of Serenity Valley made this list (something I've never even considered sad), when 'Would you like me to lie to you now?' did not.
I love this topic. Here's five more to destroy your spirit:

5. "The Wish." Cordelia, fresh from Xander's emotional infidelity and an extended hospital stay, is humiliated in front of the (ex-)Cordettes... by Harmony. Ouch. Hurts more than the rebar.

Soul crush level: 8.

4. "Home." Angel Does (Stella) Dallas: After the mindwipe, Angel looks forlornly through the window at Connor and his new family, convinced that Connor is lost to him forever.

Crush level: 8.

3. "Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog." Dr. H.'s beloved Penny is accidentally killed by his own Death Ray.

Crush level: 9. (Exposing Captain Hammer as a total wuss, Billy gains the world, but loses his soul.)

2. "The Trial." Angel battles to give Darla a second chance at life. (Yay!) He wins, but Darla is doomed anyway. (Boo!) Darla quietly accepts her fate, and it looks like Angel and Darla will share some beautiful moments in the time she has left. (Yay!)

Drusilla glides in and vamps Darla. (What the #%&-?!)

Crush level: 12.

1. "Not Fade Away." Lorne kills Lindsey, pretty much destroying his non-violent, good vibes philosophy.

Crush level (for Lorne): 10.
Crush level (for the fans): 30--knowing that's the last time we'll see Andy Hallett.
tomg - great points, I completely agree. Likewise, I suspect that should that death of Doyle scene have been included, the article would probably have included the actual death scene, not the soul-crunching video repeat afterwards.

I also still had to think of a couple of other scenes from season 3 of Angel:
-'Lullaby': everything regarding Holtz' backstory
-'Sleep Tight': Angel watches as his son is abducted to a hell dimension
-'Double or Nothing': Angel dismantles the crib. (Just writing that line down felt like a punch to the gut...)
I can't really make a list. In general, these scenes affect me in other ways than 'crushing my soul'. I find "Passion" to be rather beautiful, for example. No matter how many years have passed and how many times I've seen it, I still get actual goosebumps when Buffy and Willow get the news with Angelus watching them through the Window. Probably my favourite scene in the entire series, though there's some 'Buffy & Dawn'-stuff, that comes atleast close.
Another scene, that had great effect on me, was when Angel attempted to murder Wesley. It might be the closest thing to actual 'soul crushing' I can name in this context - which is fitting, since in order for it to occur, Angel's soul had to have been crushed, as well.
Fred desperately clinging on her life was brutal. As was Illyria channeling her and her emotions (mixed with its own) in order to give Wesley a peaceful farewell.
"Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog." Dr. H.'s beloved Penny is accidentally killed by his own Death Ray.

You nailed it.
Faith asking Angel to kill her in Five by Five, nothing tops that for me. The mix of pain, sadness and self loathing that came pouring out of her was a powerful moment. It was Faith hitting rock bottom, nothing left to live for. And it was Angel at his most compassionate.

Everything we've seen between those two including the Angel & Faith comic books began in that moment. It was the foundation that their relationship would be built on, and it was a moment that I think defined both characters.

The Trial may be a close second. That really was a soul crushing moment for Angel to lose someone he cared about and fought so hard for. The Trial was the beginning of his downward spiral

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