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31 TV Scenes That Are Absolutely Heartbreaking, But Don't Involve A Character Dying
The moment on Grey's Anatomy when all the female doctors lined the hallway for a patient still gives me chills.by Nora Dominick
Over the years, we've asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about some of the most heartbreaking TV moments of all time, and they've delivered time and time again. Now, while a lot of those scenes often include a tragic death, there's something even more emotional when a scene makes you cry and there's no death involved. So, here are some of the saddest TV moments that don't involve a character's tragic end:
Warning: There are massive spoilers ahead, as well as mentions of assault and depression.
1. First on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Will broke down to Uncle Phil over his dad leaving again.
"I only just saw this Fresh Prince episode, and it just dropped me."
2. On Fleabag, when the Priest told Fleabag to move on after she said, "I love you."
Amazon Prime Video
"Honestly, Season 2 of Fleabag is an absolute masterpiece, and I cannot recommend it enough."
3. On Euphoria, when Rue started screaming at her mom after she realized her stash of drugs was gone.
"Zendaya's performance was heartbreaking. It literally won her an Emmy. Rue's addiction almost killed her, and she hurt everyone she loved."
4. On The Good Place, when Chidi was about to have his memory wiped and he said goodbye to Eleanor.
“The montage with Chidi and Eleanor where we see all the times they fell in love throughout the reboots. That shit HURTS."
5. On Stranger Things, when Max escaped Vecna while "Running Up That Hill" played.
"The 'Running Up That Hill' scene. It made me cry every time I saw it."
6. On The Summer I Turned Pretty, when Belly, Jeremiah, and Steven learned that Susannah's cancer returned, and that Conrad had known all summer.
Suggested by: jenniferabidor
7. On Grey's Anatomy, when all of the women at Grey Sloan lined the hall to usher a sexual assault survivor into surgery.
"In the grand scheme of Grey's this is still a kind of recent episode, but it already makes me bawl every time I think about it."
8. On Parenthood, when Alex broke up with Haddie, and then he had to say this heartbreaking goodbye to Kristina.
"When Alex realizes that he needs to break it off with Haddie, but in doing so, he will miss Kristina because she treated him like a son, something he never had experienced before. It destroys me every time."
9. And on Parenthood, when Max was upset that all of the kids on his field trip made fun of him and one of them peed in his canteen.
"That scene is heartbreaking. Just remembering it makes me wanna cry."
10. On Maid, when Regina dropped off Alex and Maddy at the domestic violence shelter.
"Alex was holding Maddy while bawling her eyes out because she couldn’t take Sean's abuse anymore. It breaks my heart whenever I watch it. Alex deserved so much better."
11. On The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, when Bucky told Sam that he was worried Steve was wrong about him.
Marvel / Disney+
Suggested by: clumsyfoo94
12. On Black-ish, when Bow and Dre decided to take some time apart.
"The whole episode of Black-ish where Bow and Dre decided to split up was absolutely heartbreaking."
13. On Never Have I Ever, when Devi told her mom she didn't want to go away to a boarding school for senior year because it meant they wouldn't be together.
"Never Have I Ever is a show that can have me laughing hysterically one minute, then absolutely weeping the next. This moment in Season 3 between Devi and Nalini broke my heart in a million pieces and made me weep. I love this relationship so much."
14. On Boy Meets World, when Mr. Feeny said goodbye to his class one last time.
Suggested by: kathleenanne13579
15. On One Tree Hill, when Brooke begged Julian to save Jamie before he saved her as their car filled up with water following a car crash.
"She makes him get Jamie first and says, 'He's just a boy...' That whole episode is a sobfest, but there's something about that moment that breaks me!"
16. On This Is Us, when Kevin sat on his high school football field, and relived his childhood and what led to him hitting rock bottom and feeling completely alone.
"I truly cannot believe Justin Hartley wasn’t nominated for an Emmy for this scene. His performance was raw, heartbreaking, and even nostalgic, all at the same time. During this particular moment, his character was secretly addicted to painkillers and alcohol. He felt so lonely, and he was basically begging for help, but no one could see his pain and trauma because they were too blinded by his celebrity. The acting, writing, and editing are simply incredible in this scene."
17. On One Day at a Time, when Elena told Alex what she really wanted to say at their dad's wedding, and how much it still hurt that their dad didn't accept her right away after she came out.
"Pretty much any time Elena is talking about her dad on One Day at a Time, but this one gets me. All of Elena's lines really hit home for me so that made them very emotional, and Isabella Gómez’s delivery of these lines is just perfect."
18. On Wynonna Earp, when Jolene was torturing Waverly by convincing her that nobody loved her.
"It’s such an accurate depiction of what depression feels like, and when Waverly reminds herself that simply existing with your loved ones is enough, I lose it every time. As someone who has struggled with depression for a long time, it’s easily one of the most important scenes I’ve ever seen on television."
19. On Only Murders in the Building, when we watched Bunny's final day before she was murdered, and it included the sad moment when she just wanted to hang out with Charles, Oliver, and Mabel, but they didn't get the hint.
"They had this whole episode following Bunny (who was murdered) around. How she was going to retire from running the apartment building and her plans. Bunny could hear the trio laughing and having fun through her vent, so she went over with champagne hoping to join them and they took the champagne, had an awkward conversation, thanked her, and slammed the door in her face. She stood there for a minute and then started crying, and OMG, I felt that pain. Then she walked back to her apartment to watch a show with her bird, and she ended up getting murdered. So not only did she have this awful last day on earth, but if the trio had JUST LET HER IN, she would maybe still be alive."
20. On The Flight Attendant, when Cassie revealed that she had broken her sobriety a few times, and she went to the beach and sobbed.
"This scene is some of Kaley Cuoco's finest acting on the show, I think. It's such a rock bottom moment for Cassie, and Kaley performs it in such a heartbreaking way. It's hard not to shed a tear or two."
21. On Angel, when Angel got to spend a day as a human with Buffy, but then they had to reset the day like it never happened.
"The emotions are so strong and real in that minute when they're hugging and saying goodbye that it gets me every time. Also, you can hear that David Boreanaz accidentally calls Sarah Michelle Gellar 'Sarah' instead of Buffy here because they were so caught up in that moment as well."
22. On Outer Banks, when JJ broke down to Kie and Pope after he said he couldn't take his father's abuse anymore.
Suggested by: laurengarafano
23. On Our Flag Means Death, when Ed waited for Stede to show up on the dock so they could run away together, but Stede never arrived.
"He waits until the sun rises and you can see the sadness and disappointment growing in his expression the longer he waits before he finally gets in the boat and rows away. I don't know why, but that scene really got me."
24. On Criminal Minds, when Emily listened to a message from Garcia saying everyone was coming to help her.
"God, this ripped my heart out."
25. On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., when Bobbi and Hunter said goodbye to the team.
ABC / Marvel
"This episode always makes me tear up. They deserved to get to stay on the team, and it’s just so sad but also sweet that the whole team came to say goodbye to them."
26. On Pachinko, when Sunja's mom begged the rice merchant for some Korean-grown rice so that Sunja could have it before leaving for Japan.
"So much of Pachinko, but for me, especially the scene when Sunja’s mom, Yangjin, begs the rice merchant for some Korean-grown white rice so that her daughter could experience a final taste of her homeland before leaving for Japan, with both of them knowing that her daughter would likely never return home nor see her mother again."
27. On Superstore, when ICE arrived at Cloud 9 and took Mateo.
"The final scene of all the employees standing outside, watching Mateo be driven away in the van, breaks my heart. I bawled and I don't even consider Mateo my favorite character!"
28. On Kevin Can F**k Himself, when Allison revealed to Patty how much Kevin had taken away from her over the years.
"This scene shows the audience why Allison has come to the point of killing her husband, Kevin. Annie Murphy was so good in this moment too."
29. On Dickinson, when Sue begged Emily to want her back and the scene took place at the orchard from the very first episode.
Suggested by: kaylaharrington
30. On Supernatural, when Dean told Sam about his time in hell and how he was forced to torture people.
"The pain I feel every time I hear Dean tell that story never gets easy, and seeing Jensen Ackles put all that pain into his performance kills me every time."
31. And finally, on Gilmore Girls, when Emily told Richard he wasn't allowed to die first.
"This scene always got to me before, but watching it now after Edward Herrmann's death is utterly devastating. I absolutely lose all composure."
We can't fit everything into one post, so tell us which other TV moments are so heartbreaking, but don't involve a character dying, in the comments below!
Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
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