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  • Absolutely everything associated with the real life death of John Spencer (Leo):
    • "Election Day." Specifically, the end of part one and the opening moments of part two, especially the all-too-real reactions of the cast members as they finally got to acknowledge the death on-screen.
    • On that note, Martin Sheen's quietly dignified tribute before Spencer's final featured episode worked as well as any scripted tearjerker.
  • Near the end of "Two Cathedrals", the second season finale. During a tropical storm, the door leading from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden bursts open due to an issue with a faulty latch mentioned earlier in the episode. President Bartlet, having just returned from Mrs. Landingham's funeral, loses his temper and shouts for Mrs. Landingham out of habit. Moments later, she opens the door from the reception office and walks in, saying simply, "There's no need to shout". The two have a conversation, where Mrs. Landingham prods Bartlet into remembering all of the work and good deeds he can still accomplish. She finishes by saying, "If you don't want to run again, I respect that. But if it's because it's too hard or because you're scared, well then, God, Jed, I don't even want to know you" and walks out the door, closing the door behind her.
    • The fact that the phrase echoes one that Mrs. Landingham used to get Jed involved in a just cause when he was very young added more poignancy to the scene.
      • I think everything she said in that scene she said before she died and Bartlet remembered it. He cared enough about so many things she said from so long ago to remember them all this time. That's a tear jerker right there.
  • Topped at the end of "Bartlet for America" the next season, as we find out exactly what Leo went through to get Jed to run in the first place. The final line, "That was awfully nice of you," provokes bawling in almost everyone.
  • The look on Donna's face when the others tell her that Josh has been shot and might not make it.
    • Worse for this troper was everyone else's faces when she came in all anxious and relieved: a lot of frozen expressions, all glancing back and forth, nobody wanting to be the one that says it. Of course, that was probably not helped by having had to deliver bad news shortly before watching it.
  • Also When Josh wakes up and asks "What's next?" at the beginning of season 2.
  • Not to mention the 3rd season finale with the death of Secret Service agent Donovan, just as he and C.J. were growing closer, done to "Hallelujah".
  • The end of "20 Hours in America", with one of the most heartbreaking speeches in the series (about a school bombing where many people were killed), set to Tori Amos' cover of "I Don't Like Mondays"
  • And the end of "In Excelsis Deo", where Toby sets up a funeral for a homeless Korea vet and Mrs. Landingham, who lost her two sons in Vietnam comes along. And the rest of the cast listen to a boy's choir sing "The Little Drummer Boy".

 If we start pulling strings like this, you don't think every homeless veteran will come out of the woodwork?

I can only hope, sir.

  • Andy: You're too sad, Toby. You bring the sadness home with you. You're just too SAD

 Toby: Did you feel that way when we were married? That I was SAD? Did my (voice breaks) friends feel like that?

  • "Noel". All of "Noel", but especially Josh screaming at Bartlet in the Oval Office about the "sirens" and Leo's "man in a hole" speech.
    • The part that always gets me comes towards the end of Noel, when Stanley tells Josh his diagnosis.

 Stanley: You have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Josh: Well... that doesn't really sound like something they let you have if you work for the president.

Stanley: Josh...

Josh: Can we have it be something else??

  • Leo's "guy in the hole" speech in Noel gets a beautiful Call Back at the start of the aforementioned Bartlet for America.

 Josh: I'm gonna help you out, you know why?

Leo:Because you're so obsessed with everyone you love dying that you're a compulsive fixer?

Josh: *smiles* No, Leo, it's because a guy's walking down the street and he falls in a hole, see.

  • The moment in "Twenty-Five" when Abbey is briefly determined to go into the press room to make a direct appeal to the people who have kidnapped Zoey, because she'd "seen other mothers do it".
  • Whatever people may say about season five, the last sequence of "7A WF 83429", which cuts together scenes of the Bartlets and Charlie attending a private mass, Josh and Donna leaving the White House to see hundreds of tributes to Zoey, and the search for her continuing in the situation room, and is set to Lisa Gerrard's song "Sanvean", is heartbreaking for all the right reasons.
  • The scene in the final episode, where current Chief of Staff CJ gives the traditional note to her incoming counterpart, Josh. It simply says "WWLD?": What Would Leo Do?
  • The episode "Gaza". The entire thing, from the bombing to the build-up to hearing that Fitzwallace is dead to seeing Donna in the hospital.
  • President Bartlet has to tell the President of Equatorial Kundu - a proud and intelligent man who nonetheless has come to the U.S. to beg for the life of his AIDS-stricken continent in the form of medical relief - that his government has fallen to a coup, his wife is in hiding, and his brother and two sons are dead. He is executed in the airport parking lot upon returning home at the end of the episode ("In This White House").
  • Towards the end of the second half of "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen," then-Governor Bartlet has a conversation with Josh the night that Bartlet wins the Illinois primary, sealing his position as the Democratic candidate for president and that Josh's father dies of a pulmonary embolism. It rings true of so many parts of grief, but these are the lines that always get me:

 Josh: He liked that I was working for you, though. He liked that we were starting to do well. He would've liked tonight. At least all his friends and neighbors will be spared all the-

Bartlet: He'd be doing some bragging right about now?

Josh: Yeah. Your name wouldn't have come up, by the way. 'My son won the Illinois primary tonight.' [Beat] Another couple of hours, he'd've been able to say that. He'd have been proud.

Bartlet: He was already. Trust me Josh, I'm a father. He was already.

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