It’s no secret that I have a tendency of becoming overly invested in the lives of fictional characters. (You know what I mean, when you subconsciously add John Locke to your prayer list because he’s struggling with daddy issues….) Well, there are a few key tv moments where I’m not the only one who is brought to tears and let’s be real- they’re not the delicate, lady-like droplets easily swept away with your recently monogrammed, lacy-trimmed hankie. I’m talking those big, ugly tears complimented by hiccuping sobs and a hammering headache only rivaled by Sally Field’s award winning monologue in Steel Magnolias. Come, take a journey with me. Let’s explore our emotions, tap into that vulnerable side and review the top 5 “ugly cry” tv moments. Oh and of course *SPOILER ALERT*!
Summary: Jonathan Kent dies of a heart attack
Why it deserves an ugly-cry: Papa Kent was the source of wisdom and integrity of the show. Raising Superman is a tough job, apparently too tough for this mid-western farmer and with a little manipulation from Clark Kent’s “biological” father, Jor-El, his life is brutally traded for Lana’s. A wife loses her husband, her partner, her rock and a son loses his mentor, his father, his friend. In his dying moments, Jonathan Kent embraces his wife and son and with a blended expression of pride and dismay, he collapses. Later, Jonathan Kent’s funeral is blanketed with a purifying, freshly fallen snow as Peter Gabriel croons “I Grieve”. One by one the many attendees depart, leaving a crestfallen, stoic man alone as he mourns the loss of his father.
2. The OC “The Graduates” 3×25 (May 2006)
Summary: Marissa dies in a car accident
Why it deserves an ugly-cry: I’ll be honest, Marissa Cooper drove me insane more often than not. Her selfishness, moodiness and all around reckless decision making left me with no pity for her. However, her one redeeming quality was Ryan’s love for her. That’s what makes this episode so difficult. It’s interwoven with flashbacks of their first meeting. It doesn’t hurt that Mischa Barton gives one of those iconic slow death performances as the bloody gash on her temple gradually seeps the life out of her. Ryan cradles her in his arms as he reassures that she’ll be okay. Alas, it is not to be.
Summary: The One Tree Hill cast struggles to cope with the murder of Quentin Fields
Why it deserves an ugly cry: Again, I didn’t have much sympathy for Quentin’s disrespectful attitude. However, in the two episodes leading up to his murder, the writers clearly tried to garner a sense of loyalty for this egotistical teenager… and it worked! Quentin pushed Nathan to attempt a comeback in basketball while building an adorable rapport with Jamie to the tune of Flo Rida’s “In the Ayer.” Jamie even commissions a matching, 6 foot plus cape for his grown up friend. In a random gas station robbery, Quentin becomes the victim and each main character, especially Jamie grapples with the now gaping hole he’s left in their lives. One Tree Hill is renowned for having at least 2 tear-evoking scenes per season, this one just happened to take me most by surprise. I literally touched my face a la Cameron Diaz in The Holiday as if to say ” What is this? Am I crying??!?!”
Summary: The greatest TV show EVER ends
Why it deserves an ugly cry: Probably not even the plot, just the unwelcome anticipation of withdrawals from the most addictive show I’ve ever watched. All of my favorite characters reunite to the lilting, orchestral genius of Michael Giacchino. It induces tears, it pulls them out of you against your will. I won’t go into detail because I’ve made a life-long promise to never spoil this series for a single, solitary sole. I couldn’t deprive you, dear reader, of the emotional roller coaster.
Summary: Sybil Crawley dies in childbirth
Why it deserves an ugly cry: Much like Steel Magnolias, this is a cinematographic recipe for emotional disaster. The sweetest, most likeable character the show has to offer is treated like a lamb to slaughter. When watching back to back episodes on the internet, it seems like just days ago Sybil and lower-class family chauffeur Thomas Branson wed. Off camera, we discover she is pregnant and their bliss comes to a screeching halt when Sybil undergoes a complicated pregnancy. In pre-modern medicine times, the symptoms of eclampsia go almost unnoticed. With some intense foreshadowing, Sybil begs her family to obey her wishes in the raising of her newly-birthed daughter. Suddenly, Sybil is racked by seizures and her sister, husband and mother desperately implore her to stay alive… to no avail. Let’s be real. A young wife, new mother and beloved daughter taken too soon demands nasal leakage, indecipherable moans of anguish and gnashing of teeth. It’s almost enough to make me quit watching. I ache.
I’m sure I’ve failed to mention some key gut-wrenching scenes. Feel free to comment with your suggestions.