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Top 10 TV Episodes That Made You Cry

Script written by Francesca LaMantia Get ready to cry because these are the Top 10 TV episodes that made you cry! We’ve included episodes from 8 Simple Rules, The Office, Boy Meets World, This is Us, 13 Reasons Why, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Glee, Angel, Downton Abbey, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill and more!

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Top 10 TV Episodes that Made you Cry

Grab a box of tissues and settle in. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 TV episodes that made you cry.

For this list, we’ll be looking back over the history of popular television to find the specific episodes that made us cry the hardest. We'll be focusing exclusively on live action TV shows, and will be excluding series finales, because, well, they have an unfair advantage. Given that we’ll be talking about the nature of specific episodes, a spoiler alert is in effect.

#10: “Goodbye”
“8 Simple Rules” (2002-05)

More often than not, sitcoms will keep up their humorous tone even when tackling grave subject matter. But following a real life tragedy that affected this TV family, this show got serious. The family members dealing with the unexpected death of their patriarch was particularly difficult to watch given that this in-story loss was prompted by the all-too real unexpected passing of John Ritter. Bridget’s struggle was particularly heartbreaking as she tried to resolve her guilt over the fact that the last words she said to him were "I hate you". We all shed a tear as Cate read Paul’s last article about how every “I hate you” is an “I love you”.

#9: “Goodbye, Michael”
“The Office” (2005-13)

In this bittersweet episode, everyone’s favorite boss, Michael Scott, says goodbye to Dunder Mifflin and ventures off into a new life with his true love. Though out of character, Michael foregoes a grandiose farewell, and instead lies about his last day so he can share personal final moments with each member of his Dunder Mifflin family. Making the episode even more emotional, Pam leaves for part of the day, meaning that Michael risks not getting to say goodbye to his surrogate daughter. Thankfully, in the final minutes of the episode, Pam catches up to him at the airport and our tears of sadness turn into tears of joy as the two share a tearful goodbye.

#8: “Seven the Hard Way”
“Boy Meets World” (1993-2000)

Cory and the gang were always certain they’d be best friends forever, and as viewers, so were we. But as the gang becomes divided when a prank war gets out of hand, old problems emerge, loyalties are questioned, and the future of this friendship is threatened. Eric calls on Mr. Feeny to help, but even he doesn't seem to be able to get them through this one. In a flash forward, we get a glimpse into the tragic future for these friends if they do not work it out. Seeing these cherished bonds severed is truly heartbreaking. Thankfully, they work things out before that future can become reality.

#7: “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse”
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” (1990-96)

West Philadelphia, born and raised, but with no help from his absentee father. After fourteen years of radio silence, Will's father returns claiming he wants to make things right. But just when Will starts letting himself get close to the man who disappointed him, Lou Smith takes off yet again. In the final moments of one of the most emotionally charged episodes of the series, we see the usually care free and goofy Fresh Prince break down in an unforgettable and heart wrenching monologue. Thankfully, there’s another father figure in Will’s life to comfort him.

#6: “Losing My Religion”
“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)

This hospital drama has a flare for episodes highlighting dramatic character deaths. For example, the episode “How To Save A Life” when Meredith watches as the nurse slowly unplugs all of the machines keeping Derek alive after a terrible car accident. But the one making this list is the heartbreaking episode containing the death of Denny Duquette. Things were looking up for Denny; he received the heart transplant he so desperately needed, and Izzie finally accepted his marriage proposal. Then in a twist that broke hearts of both characters and the viewers, he suffers a sudden and fatal stroke. Who didn’t lose it as Izzie cried over his body?

#5: “Tape 7, Side A”
“13 Reason’s Why” (2017-)

This series about the events leading up to a young woman’s suicide and its aftermath pulls no punches. In the finale of this show’s first season, Clay plays the last tape which reveals that Hannah, in one last cry for help, went to her guidance counselor, whose line of questioning regarding her rape only makes things worse. Of course, it’s one of many difficult scenes in this episode. Her incredibly graphic suicide is understandably disturbing. One of the most tear jerking moments however, comes when Clay imagines what life would have been like if he had done just a few simple things differently with Hannah.

#4: "Super Bowl Sunday"
“This Is Us” (2016-)

Let’s be honest: every episode of this show makes us cry, but this one seriously brings on the waterworks. For nearly two seasons, viewers tried to piece together how Jack, the Pearson family patriarch, passed away. It seemed at first like the fire that engulfs the Pearson home might claim his life, but miraculously everyone makes it out. The episode postpones the inevitable event by showing how the Pearsons are handling the 20th anniversary of Jack’s death. Both the audience and characters don’t know which scene is Jack’s last, until his wife Rebecca leaves the room, and he suffers a fatal heart attack caused by smoke inhalation. Even though we knew it was coming, losing him was absolutely devastating.

#3: “Becoming (Part 2)”
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003)

The Scoobies have faced more than their share of demonic baddies and suffered terrible losses, but one of the toughest moments they have ever endured is when they had to face one of their own. Angel has reverted to Angelus, his evil past self, and is hellbent on destroying the world. In close contention with “The Body”, wherein Buffy’s mother dies, this is one of the saddest episodes in Buffy history. While Buffy tries to stop his evil plan, Willow races to find a way to give Angel back his soul. She succeeds, but not in time, and Buffy is forced to look into the eyes of her true love as she kills him.

#2: “Bad News”
“How I Met Your Mother” (2005-14)

As Barney found out in previous episodes, putting a clock on an unfortunate circumstance you are about to face, does not make it any easier. Even with the episode title, and the countdown built into the episode, fans couldn't have expected the devastating news of Marshall's father's death. Although he is a minor character in the series, the news nonetheless rocked fans. The episode centers around Marshall and Lily visiting a fertility doctor, and therefore, fans naturally assumed that the bad news would be that the couple are unable to have a baby. As a result, the twist hit twice as hard in the final scene when Lily delivers Marshall the bad news.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“The Wind That Blew My Heart Away”
“One Tree Hill” (2003-12)

“Series 3: Episode 5”
“Downton Abbey” (2010-15)

“A Hole in the World”
“Angel” (1999-2004)

#1: “The Quarterback”
“Glee” (2009-15)

Another show affected by a devastating real life tragedy, in this episode there was a beautiful tribute to late Glee star Cory Monteith, which allowed the fans and the cast to grieve together. The older cast reunited to mourn their friend’s death in their own ways. Finn’s parents talk about how they could possibly go on without him, the Glee kids reminisce on good times shared with him, and sing songs that remind them of him. Even Sue ditches her stony exterior and expresses her true feelings for him. There weren’t enough tissues in the world for this moving episode.

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