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What TV Tearjerkers Still Make You Cry?

It's okay to admit that you cried at Parks and Rec a few times.

Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusack) calls home in LOST episode The Constant

There’s always that one episode of that one show. The one where your favorite character died or your OTP split up and you bawled into your popcorn, spent hours on Twitter commiserating with fellow fans, and in general were a weepy mess for at least the rest of the night. We love TV, and we love the characters on our TVs. It’s only natural that when bad things happen to them—or when they finally triumph, because happy tears definitely count, too—we get emotional because they’re emotional, and we, as humans, tend to empathize with our fictional faves. But what tearjerking scenes are your go-to for when you need to have a good cry?

Warning, spoilers for several TV shows will follow. The comments will probably have spoilers, too.

I cry at a lot of television. The first show I can remember sobbing over was The West Wing, when Leo McGarry, played by the late John Spencer, passes away after a heart attack. Spencer’s real-life death meant they had to write Leo out of the show somehow, and the episode immediately following his death brings tears to my eyes even thinking about it. The characters are all not only just reacting to the loss of Leo, but the actors are finally getting to deal with their grief, as well. It’s a powerful episode, made more powerful by Matt Santos’s presidential victory in the same night.

LOST introduced me to the concept of spending week after week crying, because that show is tearjerker central. There are a million character deaths that made me weep—Libby, Charlie, Faraday, Sun and Jin, etc.—but the biggest weepy episode doesn’t involve a single major player dying. In “The Constant,” Desmond comes unstuck from time and is leaping between time periods in his life. He’s told by Faraday in a past timeline that he has to find someone, a constant, to tether him and ground him back in his own timeline; Desmond immediately finds his ex-finacée and star-crossed lover, Penny, and begs her to pick up the phone when he calls her.

Flash forward to three years later, where a present-day Desmond frantically calls the number she used to have, hoping she’ll pick up … and she does. The two share a tearful conversation where Penny promises to find Desmond, and Desmond swears he’ll find his way back to her again. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and the episode remains one of LOST‘s all time best.

Like I said above, all of these don’t have to be unhappy tears. Parks and Recreation, the happiest show on Earth, always makes me cry at certain episodes. When Leslie won her city council seat, I cried, though not as hard as I did when her friends surprised her at Christmas by offering to be her campaign staff. The finale is definitely a grade-A tearjerker, though the tears are mostly happy.

And of course, this list would not be complete without the wedding of the century for Ben and Leslie. When Leslie gets married in her office, to the man of her dreams, with her family at her side, in the best makeshift wedding dress, it’s impossible to not tear up a little as she tells Ben, “I love you and I like you.”

There are plenty of tearjerkers that didn’t make the list: Ask me about Richard Harrow on Boardwalk Empire, or the last six episodes of Star Wars Rebels, and you’ll get an earful between sobs. Let us know in the comments what some of your favorite TV tearjerkers are, so we can all share in the feels together, because that’s the best way to combat television-induced crying.

(Image: ABC)

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Kate (they/them) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions they have. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, they are now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for their favorite rare pairs.