All The Tropes Wiki
All The Tropes Wiki
Farm-Fresh balance.pngYMMVTransmit blue.pngRadarWikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotes • (Emoticon happy.pngFunnyHeart.pngHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3.pngAwesome) • Refridgerator.pngFridgeGroup.pngCharactersScript edit.pngFanfic RecsSkull0.pngNightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out icon.pngShout OutMagnifier.pngPlotGota icono.pngTear JerkerBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersHelp.pngTriviaWMGFilmRoll-small.pngRecapRainbow.pngHo YayPhoto link.pngImage LinksNyan-Cat-Original.pngMemesHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconicLibrary science symbol .svg SourceSetting

Cold Case is Made of TearJerker. In most cop dramas we only get after-the-fact descriptions of the murder/crime and the events leading up to it. Cold Case shows us these things via flashbacks. Every episode shows us a new group of people, most of them happy, just trying to live their lives. Then it shows the events that lead one of them to taking the life of one of the others. You get to see all the stupid STUPID reasons people decide to take each others' lives. And the worst part is: while each episode depicts the culprits being brought to justice, in most cases, they've gotten away with it for years, if not DECADES! This Troper loves the show, but can only watch a couple of episodes a week because the stories are so soul-crushing.

  • One Night, just... 'One Night.' The killer, who has a degenerative disease, abducts teenage boys, because they think they're going to live forever and he believes that they need to learn that they're not. He lets them choose where they're going to be buried alive in a box. Justin, the latest victim and a prostitute, chooses the place he and his mum rode horses because it's the last place he meant something to someone. He writes his goodbye note and tells the killer that he should have asked his friend Valentino if he wanted to come when Justin left, one more time like Valentino asked him to do seconds before Justin was abducted- Justin seems to be in love with Valentino. As if that's not enough, Justin asks if he meets his mom is Heaven, will she remember him? At the end, when Justin is saved and he and Valentino held hands, this troper broke down for the third time.
  • Best Friends. It turns out that this too is one of the rare occasions where it wasn't murder. It was supposed to be a double suicide, with the young couple driving off a bridge into the water below - only one of them (Rose aka Rosie) doesn't die. Why did they feel they had to commit suicide? It was the 1930s, and the white Girly Girl Rosie and her black Bifauxnen girlfriend Billie were an interracial same-sex couple being chased down by Rosie's insanely possessive older brother and guardian Curtis. The end is a more bittersweet moment, when Billie's ghost reaches out to an aged and then suddenly young Rosie, giving the impression that they are both dead now, but reunited. This video is the tearjerkiness of the episode, concentrated in musical form.
  • Fireflies, which had two young girls, one black and one white, growing up to be friends in a racist neighborhood. A young boy was angry at this, and shot at them in order to scare them, but ended up shooting the white girl, while the black girl ran away in fear. He picked up the white girl and dumped her body in a different state. She would've died if it wasn't for the fact that the fireflies her and her friend always played with told her to stay awake. She was saved and lived the rest of her life in that state, locking away her memories. Until, of course, the Cold Case gang came back to start a tearful reunion.
  • Another episode with gay themes is Forever Blue about two gay cops in love and having a secret affair in 1968. One of them is shot, and the other hides his true feelings until the case is reopened. Even then, he denies he's gay and in love with his partner, right up until the very end, where he admits it with tears in his eyes. He tells Lily that he's still in love with and missing his partner. The end montage features the Byrds doing Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages" with the lyric 'Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now'. Saddest thing this troper's ever seen.
  • Only The Heartless wouldn't react to the reunion of Max and his mom in Ghost of My Child.
  • Justice: the reunion of the four women who, in the 80's, plotted to kill the Jerk Jock who raped each one of them and then got off scot free? Only to chicken out when they had the asshole at their mercy... and then have one of the girls's little brother grab a gun and kill him, as revenge as well as "atonement" for not being able to help his older sister? When this troper saw the four hug each other with Duran Duran's Save a Prayer on the background, she bawled.
  • Static did it for this Troper, who has seen just about all of Chip Esten's death scenes but this episode was something else. He was just trying to be a father to his daughter, however belated, and her mother ruined all that by killing him.
  • In World's End there's the case of a woman murdered during Well's War of the Worlds radio show. And her old lover was still alive, as well as her now very senile husband and murderer, who died towards the end. The final scene with her and the old flame dancing always reduces this troper to tears.
  • Fly Away, about a mother and child who apparently fall to their deaths out of a high window. It turns out that the mother was so desperate to prevent her child being taken away by a pedophile social worker that when she thought she heard him coming, she grabbed her daughter and jumped. The child died. The mother survived.
  • The Good-Bye Room in season four, set in 1964, involves a teenage single mother being forced to give up her child for adoption. This troper doesn't normally get teary-eyed until the montage, but she was sobbing by the halfway mark.
  • Stand Up and Holler. That episode just made this troper cry.
  • The end of Family.
    • A high school couple get pregnent. The initially decide to give the child up for adoption; specifically to a teacher and his wife who cannot have children of their own. After seeing his girlfriend with their baby daughter, he finally steps up and tells the teacher the deal's off in the most moving, heartwrenching way possible... and the teacher hits him with his car and leaves him to die. Not only that, but he never had a chance to tell the girlfriend how much he loved her and their daughter.
  • Wishing: It's about a mentally disabled teenager who was murdered on the train tracks while wishing for his dying mother to get better. It's pretty heartbreaking throughout, but the identity of the killer makes it a million times worse.
  • Rampage, an episode about two teenaged misfits shooting up a mall. In the beginning, I was expecting a stock Columbine massacre ripoff. It Got Worse. The whole sequence with the identity of the 'third shooter' was absolutely heartbreaking. The girl realises exactly what's been done and you see her break again-- amidst quick shots of the carnage and the screaming and cutbacks to a scene earlier where she's frantically trying to talk a security guard who's been shot in the chest out of dying. Then, once it's over, you see the two boys come forward to one another, congratulate each other the ways teenage boys do, for a split second just look at each other, giddy and scared, and then you hear the shots. Keep in mind that you get this whole flashback while Lilly talks the girl in question (eleven years later) out of shooting herself as well in the same mall. All the teenaged flashback actors have bad skin, mall-rat hair, and hell, actually look a lot like people I know. I cry like a fool for the rest of the episode, of course. The worst part? It all started because the girl wanted revenge against a specific group of other boys who had just gang-raped her in a back room at the mall.
  • Family 8108, set in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Seeing the father get murdered by the man who was once his friend literally made this troper die inside the first time he saw it, especially after it becomes clear that the killer still feels guilt for what he did.
  • The Sleepover. Sure, standard issue fare about the dangers of peer pressure and how you shouldn't let something that happened in high school dictate the rest of your life, right? Wrong. There's a flashback where the two popular girls tease their friend and tell her that she'd be better off hanging out with the victim, who they considered a loser, that was so similar to how I met one of my best friends that I just started crying. To make it worse, the victim even resembled the friend in question.
  • Boy Crazy: An early-1960s teenage girl looks, dresses, and acts like a boy but still likes boys, so her classmates ridicule her and her only friend, another boy, shuns her when she reveals her feelings for him. After she gets expelled from school, her widower father puts her in an asylum. She rebels against the doctors' attempts to make her a "lady," so a guilt-ridden nightshift nurse (who was also the high school's nurse) lets her friend into the hospital to help her get out. He finds that they've given her enough electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) to brainwash her and leave her half dead in a red dress. He then smothers her with her pillow and drops her body in the lake to fulfill the pact they made there to "never let them change us--be free or die trying." It's an absolutely heartbreaking look at the fluidity of gender and sexuality and the pain that comes when it's met with harsh intolerance.
  • In Sandhogs, a 1947 miner tries to start up a union because one of his freinds died with the boss/company taking absolutely no accountability. His friend and his friend's widow (Alice) are black, and he is white, which starts up some tension right there. By the end, Alice and the (married)miner are head over heels in love with eachother, but due to some friendly backstabbing by another miner, the boss is onto his union idea and goons are hired. The miner tells Alice that he doesnt love her after all and that she should go off somewhere in an attempt to protect her from the bad guys. He is, of course, murdered and she spent all those years thinking that he really didn't love her, and had refused to listen to their song that had been played throughout the episode. The ending sequence has her youngerself and the specter of the miner dancing together to the song. Tears were jerked. Hard.
  • Saving Patrick Bubley. Over the course of six years, 4 Bubley brothers all have been shot to death and the mother turns to drugs to deal with the pain. Patrick is the only brother left and Lily is determined to save him. She finds out why his brothers have all died and it was because some Latino gangbangers stole Patrick's scooter that he won in an essay contest when he was a little kid. He wrote the essay about W.E.B. Du Bois and thus he and his brothers named the scooter WEB D. The oldest brother was shot trying to get the scooter back. All of the other brothers were shot by the same gang members for various reasons but they all led back to that scooter. It's a tearjearker because it really shows how sensless violence is and it's bawling at the end when Patrick decides to go back to school and he sees his brothers at the fence watching him and cheering him on.
  • Oh, boy... Daniela. One of the only cases that turned out to be something other than murder (suicide, in this case), it tugged on my heartstrings painfully hard. All the title character wanted was to be loved for who she was, not what she was. But after her boyfriend lied about his activities with her out of shame in front of his dad, she kicks him out. And he returns. Just in time to hear the gunshot that she fired into her own head. No live action show has made me come closer to crying than this episode. Hell, I'm tearing up just typing this.
  • Time To Crime is sad first of all because it's about a 6 year old girl who is killed in a drive by shooting in 1987. It Gets Worse. It made me cry for two reasons: one is when the killer is revealed and it's the then 12 year old brother because he was trying to kill the guy that mom was cheating on dad with and mistakenly killed his sister instead and the second is in the Medley Exit where the closing song is Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror" the girl's ghost looks as if she is really sad and lonely on the other side. It's like she's saying "Damn, my brother killed me?" and it just makes me tear up. It also didn't help matters that TNT broadcasted this episode the day Michael Jackson died.
  • Saving Sammy is pretty bad as far as tearjerkers go. It has everything needed to jerk tears. Disabled/mentally disordered kid witnessing his parents die? Check. Disabled/mentally disordered child of the dead parents extremely close to a pet? Check. A fairly sympathetic killer, who only killed because he didn't want to lose the love of his life when the family moved to Vermont, only to lose her anyways due to her heartbreak? Check. Let's leave it at this. I've seen every single one of these episodes listed, and in fact, posted one of them, Daniella. This is the only episode I have sworn to never rewatch because of how depressing it is. Of course, this is Cold Case. 25% of the episodes will leave you happy, 50% will leave you in tears, and the last 25% will leave you in happy tears.
  • The Promise: An overweight college girl is invited to a frat party by her friend who is a pledge. It turns out it was a pig party with lots of other overweight girls. The victim gets crown the pig while her friend looks on, guilty. He apologizes to the girl, only to have [[spoiler: the frat boys show up, knock him out and lock the girl upstairs. The friend tries to get her out, but the head Jerkass Jock throws the key away and runs off like a dirty coward. By this point I was bawling, knowing what was going to happen. It turns out it was one of the girls at the pig party who started the fire to get revenge. The friend stays with the girl, promising he'll get her out but knowing there's nothing he can do. After all this, what does the girl say to him? It's not his fault. She then dies of smoke inhalation. I think a part of me died when she did. The ending, however, was rewarding, as the Jerkass Jock is carted off in handcuffs, all the girls are there taking pictures of him with their cellphones the way the jocks did to them at the pig party. This episode was especially sad, because I am overweight also, and could relate to what the poor girl had to go through.
  • Shore Leave, but it hits home at the end, with a beautiful rendition of 'Taps' and the correction of his status.
  • Greed (a.k.a. Greed is Good) is one of this troper's biggest Tear Jerkers. It doesn't seem particularly sad: the victim was a Depraved Bisexual stockbroker who'd cheated and conned many people out of money, as well as sleeping with / hitting on every person he met. The sad part was the character of his boyfriend, who was also one of the young men that worked for him. His boyfriend was the only person who acted decently. It turned out that it was the boyfriend's mom that had killed the victim. The reason? He'd slept with both her and the boyfriend, and broken her son's heart by dumping him hours before he died. Twenty or so years later, the boyfriend is still in love with and mourning the victim. It's only when the case is reopened that he learns about what a jerk the victim was. The last scene is of him and his mom, now in handcuffs, hugging and crying.
  • Volunteers, where a young girl is trapped in the backseat of her car watching her boyfriend get shot, knowing she's next, and Strange Fruit, where a black teenager is lynched while the titular song plays in the background, are both solid tearjerkers.
    • The final scenes of Strange Fruit are absolute agony--first this handsome young man's murder with Dr. King's legendary "I Have A Dream" speech playing in the background, then the standard "then and now" montage, capped off with both the older and younger versions of Jeffries seeing the victim's ghost in the playground where his body was found.
  • While it may not carry the same plot needs or gravitas, you can't help but tear up during the ending of Knuckle Up. Admittedly, its The Fray's 'How to Save a Life' that does it, but still..
  • The ending of It Takes A Village, which had the three of the killer's victims looking on while the detectives put away the case files, and found the grandmother of the final victim sitting on her porch, listening to his iPod. She looks up and sees his ghost standing before her. He smiles and nods before fading away. Particularly touching considering that that was how the episode had started, with them chatting on the porch, and a very fitting way of the victim assuring his loved one that he was at peace.
  • The ending of Shuffle, Ball Change.
    • When the killer (the victim's brother) is brought into the police station, the looks exchanged between him and his father are priceless and without any dialogue, convey:

 Young/Older Grant: "Dad, I'm sorry. I let you down."

Young/Older Father: "No, * I'm* sorry. I should have told you both how much I loved you."

    • Capped it off with Lily seeing the victim dancing and being bathed in a white light before fading away, all to the tune of "I Wanna Know What Love Is", and the whole sequence doubles as Crowning Music of Awesome.
  • Love Conquers Al involves the 1981 murder of Paige Pratt, a high school track star. She became friends with a male track runner from another school. The male track runner is dating Jane, a cheerleader at his school. When the cheerleader won't have sex with him, he loses his virginity with Paige. Jane finds out and they decide that if he kills Paige then he will prove his love to Jane and "restore his virginity".
  • Triple Threat involves the 1989 murder of Nadia Koslov, a teenage opera singer originally from Russia. She and her family defect to the U.S. and she enrolls in a performing arts school. She decides to change from opera to pop/rock. Initially her father is against this change, but finally comes to accept his daughter for what she wants to be. That night, she is killed by one of her teachers because the teacher is jealous of Nadia's future.
  • The River consists of a Doctor who looks like an adult version of a friend of mine, who (the friend not the doctor) was suffering from Cancer (He got better), and the fact that the Doctor died to protect his family from his self-caused poverty, and the fact that at the end, Valens beats the crap out of a man who, is only accused of being a Paedophile, mercilessly.
  • The episode about the mentally handicapped teenage boy. In the episode, he was accused of sexual assault and beaten, when the girl actually let him kiss her, but then her boyfriend walked in. His mother was dying of cancer, and his father didn't want him. In the end, he's told by someone who had been helping him and his mother to stand on train tracks and make a wish for his mother to get better, as a train fast approaches... It seemed to be more sympathetic than an actual murder. And it was just saddening.
  • The ending of the A Time to Hate which involves the college baseball player Danny, found beaten to death in an alley behind a gay bar in 1964. For one thing, it's set, as one may have guessed from the title, to The Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn." For another, it also heartwrenchingly ties up all the plot threads in the episode in just a few minutes; the dead man's mother and friends build a memorial to him where the bar used to be. The perp (Tim O'Brien) not only cracks and confesses, but also gives up his two toadies who were accomplices to the crime (who are dragged into the station just as the song hits "A time to kill"). And finally, Danny's ghost appears to four people: Lilly (to whom he gives an approving nod), Paul aka the then-rookie cop who was persuaded by a bigoted superior to look the other way on the murder (something that came to be his biggest regret, especially since as an older man, he has a gay son whom cares for a lot; he ends up giving the cops the doer in the end), whom he flashes a forgiving smile to; his old boyfriend Henry, now a judge, whom he embraces; and finally his mother Helen, whom he tips his hat to before fading away.
  • The episode titled A Perfect Day, in which, near the ending, we see two little girls, one of which is the episode's focus, being held by their abusive father over a large body of water. Their mother cries for the father to let them go, and when she reaches to get them from the father, she only manages to get one, Laura. The victim, Vivian, falls in the water. She drowns. Me and my sister watched the episode together, and by the end we were both squalling.
  • This troper can not watch the episode Committed without bawling like a baby. The combination of the friendship between the girls in the asylum, the sheer likability of the victim, and just how much she loves(and ends up doing for)her son, makes me breakdown weeping halfway through the episode, every time. The fact that they play The Platters' Only You, which this troper has a strong emotional tie to, at the end, doesn't really help matters either.
  • An episode from season 3, "Sanctuary", which presents us Valen's ex-girlfriend involved in a drug deal. Seeing the victim be killed by her only friend, and seeing her dreaming with herself happily working in a office... I couldn't help breaking into tears.