10 TV moments that made us cry in 2017
Television giveth and television taketh away; where there may be hardy laughs one week, there may be utter devastation the next. But it’s okay – sometimes we need a good cathartic cry over fictional characters to keep us sane out in the real world (which hasn’t exactly had a banner year).
Here are the 10 primetime TV moments (unranked) that made us cry in 2017.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale, Ofglen’s wordless goodbye with her lover
We refrained from putting “the whole damn thing” as the ugly cry moment in The Handmaid’s Tale – but to be clear, we ugly cried throughout the whole damn thing. One scene in particular stands out, however, as the most gut-wrenching of them all. Ofglen and an unnamed Martha are found guilty of loving one another. In the van that brings them to their death, they sit across from each other – bound, gagged, unable to speak. In their final, silent moments together, they can only stare into the agony reflected in the other’s gazes, wrestling against their restraints to touch each other. Ofglen craddles her, but there is no comfort for what she will endure. Then the van stops. A noose hands at the ready. Ofglen’s beloved Martha is ripped from her clutches. She is made to watch, screaming, as the life is choked out from her lover’s body. But they even deny Ofglen the closure of being with her as she dies. The van pulls away – doors still agape – as the unnamed Martha dies. Alone.
2. This Is Us, Rebecca chooses Randall
After the death during childbirth of one of her three babies, Rebecca Pearson is too emotionally exhausted for husband Jack’s idea: that they take home the baby who was abandoned at a fire station that same day. In a flashback from when the Pearsons officially adopt Randall, Rebecca recalls seeing him in the maternity ward and speaking alone to her new son for the first time. A year later, he’s officially part of the family.
3. Game of Thrones, Viserion explodes fire and blood
The surprise twist of Game of Thrones Season 7 was actually that the most tragic death wasn’t any of the dozens of protagonists, but rather an oversized CGI reptile bird. I mean seriously: from the first shriek as the icy spear pierced Viserion’s neck, to his fiery, blood-soaked fall into a harsh cold death, it felt like watching our favorite pet explode before our eyes. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he is corrupted by the very evil that kills him — transformed into the unnatural monstrosity of an ice-breathing dragon. Viserion’s demise hurts most because it signaled the death of something even larger. The dragons are Westeros’ most fearsome symbols of hope for humanity in the war against the dead. The White Walkers didn’t just steal our rad dragon dog. They robbed humanity of its fire (literally).
4. Jane the Virgin, Michael’s death
The Season 3 premiere ensured Michael’s survival from a bullet, but months into his perfect marriage with Jane, Michael died of complications from the wound. There’s barely a few seconds of Jane receiving the news – she falls to the floor just as Rafael arrives at her house – but the pain is pervasive, and the show has dealt with grief and loss in a manner that should be the new TV standard. Mercifully, the timeline jumped forward three years to when Jane has been healing and returned to some semblance of her old self, but we’re still met with the occasional flashback to Michael’s death – or his life.
5. Stranger Things, Eleven and Hopper fight
Being a teen is hard. But being a young girl with telekinetic powers raised inside a government experiment, the confusion of adolescence can feel, uh, a bit heightened. The (literal) explosion between Eleven and her surrogate daddy Hopper tugs at the heart strings because neither of them is wrong, and both are simply struggling to cope with unimaginable trauma. Eleven went from being imprisoned by bad guys pretending to be good, to imprisonment by a good man who needs to play the bad guy to keep her safe. Hopper can’t help but see the daughter he lost in Eleven as she recklessly risks her safety. Add the tragic significance behind Hopper’s bracelet and – oh god – don’t look at us. We’re already a mess.
6. 13 Reasons Why, Clay’s tape
There are several heartbreaking plot points in the story of Hannah Baker’s death by suicide, and episode 11 is the only tape which offers forgiveness. Even then, Clay torments himself with the possibilities of what would have happened if he told Hannah how he felt; What if he had fought for her, if he hadn’t left her side the night of Jessica’s party? He imagines things going differently that night, but even the Hannah in his mind reminds him that what’s done is done and he can’t save her.
7. Insecure, Issa imagines a different future
After a difficult season away from Lawrence and a confusing push-pull between the two of them while apart, Issa gets ready to say goodbye to her apartment and her ex for good. But when he comes over – tearful and aloof – the pain between them is tangible. Both feel immense regret and the crushing weight of things left unsaid. In a fit of chivalry, Lawrence gets down on one knee, but no sooner is he back up and hugging Issa than we realize it’s not real – it can’t be. What follows is a gut-punch montage of the two of them living happily ever after, getting married and having a child. Yes, it’s the La La Land twist. Cause that shit works.
8. Bojack Horseman, Bojack finally reconciles with his mother
The latest season of Bojack continued to push the emotional boundaries of what we expect from animated comedy shows — especially one that makes so many animal puns. Yet, despite being set in a world populated by literal (like horses) and figurative (like Hollywood agents) animals, Bojack Horseman‘s finale ended on a devastatingly human note. After several seasons of Bojack understandably despising his abusive mother, and taking pleasure in her bouts of confused dementia, we finally see him let go of his resentment. He gives his mother some peace, and by extension, makes peace with the inner demons he inherited from her…. Until his next bender, that is.
9. Claire and Jamie’s reunion, Outlander
Outlander gave us five episodes of build-up before we got to see the reunion between Claire and Jamie Fraser after two decades of separation, but thankfully, it was more than worth the wait. We definitely got misty at how awkward and shy our OTP were when they first laid eyes on each other again, but there was no stopping the waterworks when they finally kissed — a culmination of 20 years of longing, loneliness and love wrapped up in one achingly romantic moment.
10. Netflix cancels Sense8
This dense, sprawling drama about eight individuals with a powerful telepathic connection was shockingly canceled shortly after Season 2 debuted. Netflix confirmed the sensates will return for a movie, but it’s still rough to lose a show that represented queer and trans people and people of color well.
Laura Prudom contributed to this article.