Pop Culture Moments That Make Me Cry

Some pop culture moments are engineered to make you cry. Any time they show you an old man who is alone, or a beloved dog bravely facing his mortality, you know they’re trying to make you bawl.

Others aren’t supposed to be sad, but for some reason they grab onto your feelings and twist them until your eyes water. For instance: any time a child sings and it’s very beautiful.

Then there are those moments that were meant to be sad, but came out hilarious instead. I present for your approval:

This is the rare tearjerker scene that makes us weep – because we’re laughing so hard. So with Dawson Leery as our patron saint of pop culture crying, we’re listing those moments in entertainment that brought us to tears. Our scale stretches from one Crying Dawson (your eyes are lightly watering, but there’s no real tearstorm) to five Crying Dawsons (or as we like to call it, a Full Leery). And disclaimer: there will be spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned.

One Crying Dawson1 crying dawson

  • The final, heartrending scenes of The Notebook. And I’m only putting it here because zero crying Dawsons wasn’t an option. I’m a monster, I know.
  • The end of Bridesmaids where Maya gives one last glance back at Kristen before she gets in the limo with her new husband. There’s an unspoken understanding between two best friends that just gets me.
  • Any time an actor/actress that is announcing Emmy/Oscar/Golden Globe nominations at the asscrack of dawn, only to announce their own name as one of the nominees.
  • Cyrus realizing he was the reason his hubs got killed on Scandal. You brought it on yourself dude.
  • When Little Michael Scott wants to grow up and have 100 kids so he can have 100 friends and no one can say no to being his friend.
  • The end of City Lights (taking it way back to the 1930s here!), when the blind girl sees the tramp for the first time.
  • When Mary is sort of mean to Martha in A Secret Garden but it’s because she doesn’t know how to play or love and her parents are dead and she lives in a creepy house in the middle of nowhere.
  • The “Love Is A Dream” sketch with Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks, serving the one-two punch of old people thinking about their youth, and people who died before their time.
  • When the now-elderly Peaches take a team picture and sing their song one last time in A League Of Their Own.
  • In The Great Gatsby, both the book and film adaptations, when Daisy delivers the “beautiful fool” line. Gut punch.

Two Crying Dawsons2 crying dawsons

  • When Papouli taught us about Greek dance, the love of family, and brief character arcs on Full House.
  • The look on Louis’ face when his daughter plays the violin duet with the neighbor on Louie.
  • The episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets the crayon lodged in his brain removed and suddenly becomes smart. At the end Lisa reads a letter he wrote her from before he got dumb again and it was the first time anyone in her family understood her.
  • Also, after Maggie is born and Homer goes back to work at the plant, he covers the mean plaque from Burns “Don’t Forget, You’re Here Forever” with her pictures so that it now reads “Do it for her.”
  • When Brian Williams reported on the NBC Nightly News that his daughter Allison Williams had been cast in the live version of Peter Pan. No matter what you think about the casting decision itself, you have no soul if you don’t get emotional watching him be so proud of his daughter.
  • Mr. Feeny dismissing class one final time.
  • Jen Lindley’s final conversation with Jack. And TBH, I might have cried more when Jack and Dougie declared their commitment to each other on the beach.
  • When Will believes his father isn’t going to leave him again on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air but Pops lets him down again, and Will breaks down in the arms of Uncle Phil asking why his dad doesn’t want him.
  • The voiceover at the end of The Time Travelers episode of How I Met Your Mother, when Future Ted says that he wants 45 extra days with The Mother… probably because at that point I had a pretty good idea of what that darn show was going to do to us.
  • Leslie saying goodbye to Ann on Parks and Rec. Uteruses before duderuses.
  • When Mel Gibson is getting ready to leave in The Patriot, and his mute daughter runs after him screaming “I’ll say anything!” Doubly so now that she’s passed away.

Three Crying Dawsons

3 crying dawsons

  • The final moments of that old dog in Homeward Bound.
  • The Muppets (2012), just in general. It made both of us cry and neither of us knows why.
  • Jessie singing When Somebody Loved Me in Toy Story 2.
  • The little girl singing Desperado in In America.
  • I was in a hotel a few months ago and came across a documentary on like the Travel Channel or something that was about the new Diagon Alley attraction in Harry Potter World at Universal Studios Orlando, and the planning, construction and attention to detail that went into it before they opened the doors. Before opening it to the public, a select group of young HP fans were let into the park as a sneak peak and the look of awe was astounding. I can’t imagine being a kid, being obsessed with the books & movies and finally being in Diagon Alley for real.
  •  In what is one of my favorite dances over all the seasons of So You Think You Can Dance, golden child Travis Wall choreographed an emotional contemporary (and Emmy nominated) piece to Coldplay’s Fix You, a dance based on his own experience of helping his mom through her bout with cancer. While Fix You is always a tearjerker, add on the brilliant dancing by Robert Roldan and Allison Holker and you have a piece of pure art that will leave you breathless.
  • Speaking of SYTYCD, season 11’s Ricky Ubeda was one of those winners who actually deserved the victory, thanks to his combination of talent and personality. But during Hollywood week, it was his solo that made me (and a lot of other viewers) single him out from the crowd, thanks to vulnerability and emotion he brought to the dance.
  • Lily telling Marshall his dad died on How I Met Your Mother.
  • The final scene in Friends when they all walk out of Monica & Chandler’s to go to Central Perk and there’s one final sweep of the empty apartment with swelling music in the background.

Four Crying Dawsons

4 Crying Dawsons

  • Carrie Underwood singing. Pretty much singing anything. Especially if it’s live. I’ve seen her in concert three times and every single time I was brought to tears. She sings with such passion and conviction. And if she’s singing any kind of religious song, you know she’s channeling the big JC, making her voice even more powerful for some reason.
  • The scene in both the book and movie version of The Fault in our Stars where Hazel is giving the ‘eulogy’ for Gus in the church.
  • The Normal Heart. All of it.
  • Friday Night Lights – pretty much the entire show. However, I’ll pinpoint one that stands out, which is when Coach throws Matt Saracen into the shower, but QB1 breaks down, insisting that his loved ones always abandon him. And to continue this Zach Gilford lovefest, the entire episode of The Son is heartwrenching, but I won’t ruin it for you if you haven’t seen it.
  • Call it the Jason Katims effect because Parenthood also makes me cry during every episode, no matter what. Again, it’s hard to pick just one, so the scene where Kristina tells the family that she has cancer – a scene so powerful with no words at all. This current season hasn’t been lucky for Zeek, and because of personal reasons, I’ve found his storyline extremely upsetting. Also Mae Whitman crying. Legit the best crier in the biz.
  • The series finale of Gilmore Girls in which Rory assures Lorelai that she’s “already given her everything she needs” before she goes on the road following Senator Barack Obama. In fact the final like 20 minutes of that show including Rory’s speech under the tent make me cry so hard that I’ve only watched the finale approx thrice, as opposed to like the 30 times for all the other episodes.
  • The finale of I ❤ Nick Carter where he and Lauren get married. Legit stayed up til 4am watching it and it was totally worth it. His family sucks but good thing they have the rest of BSB and other friends and family – that’s what got me.
  •  Jim Halpert learning he and Pam are having a baby after she injures herself at the company picnic. The whole office singing Seasons of Love to Michael on his last episode. The ‘Forever’ flash mob at Jim & Pam’s wedding and them getting married on the Maid of the Mist and Jim cutting off his tie. The entire series finale. I had a hard time saying goodbye to The Office.
  • The first 5-ish minutes of Up.
  • When Mary and Edith realize that they’re the only ones left after Sybil dies.
  • I was never big into Buffy, but that scene where Buffy tells Dawn that their mom has died, and you’re watching it through the window of her classroom? Nope.
  • DOBBY. RIP.

Five Crying Dawsons

5 crying dawsons

  • The Quarterback episode of Glee where Finn (Cory Monteith) dies. I literally went through almost an entire box of tissues during that and I’m not even a huge Glee fan. The pain on everyone’s face was real, and watching Lea Michele sing – forget it.
  • The end of The Best Man Holiday – what in the fuck was that all about?! I paid $15 to see Taye Diggs and his fellow HBM co-stars possibly take their clothes off and it turned out that I needed extra sleeves because my tears and snot were all over the shirt I went in with.
  • Right before Leslie and Ben get married, when she’s talking with Ron in the hallway. I’m a wedding crier anyway, but jeez.
  • In Little Women, when Jo is going through the trunk in the attic after Beth has died (note: Beth’s death gets knocked down to 4 Crying Dawsons because of the weird brogue Claire Danes starts speaking in).
  • Everything that happens after Sara Crewe goes to live in the attic in A Little Princess. This is the second Frances Hodgson Burnett appearance on this list so I hope wherever she is, she’s proud of her vast legacy of children’s tears.
  • The funeral scene in Philadelphia, when they show the home movies of Beckett as a kid with his mom.
  • Good Will Hunting: 4 words – “It’s not your fault.”
  • My Girl: 6 words – “He can’t see without his glasses!”
  • Dead Poets Society: 4 words – “O Captain! My Captain!”

Life Lessons From The Fault in Our Stars: C+S Book Club

Hey C+S Book Club-ers! Last time we visited Harriet the Spy, and since we’re ladies in our *late 20s*, our next choice is obviously a little more mature than a kid spy. This time it’s about teenagers.

By now, most of you have heard about or read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a young adult novel about two teens, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters who meet and fall in love. Oh and they both have cancer. I remember reading this for back when it first came out and appropriately crying harder than I have ever cried before. Legit had to stop reading it for a few days because it made me that sad. Now that the movie is coming out today, I can only imagine how that feeling will be magnified thousands of times more once I see it with my eyes. But essentially, TFiOS isn’t supposed to be a sad story, it’s supposed to be a celebration of life, no matter how long or short it is. So with that, here are just a few of the life lessons I gleaned from reading this book – **spoilers ahead** (but you should really read this book and see the movie anyways).

You can’t escape the hurdles

“I wondered if hurdlers ever thought, ‘This would go faster if we just got rid of the hurdles.'”

Hazel & Augustus initially meet in a cancer support group for teens, so a lot of the folks we encounter in the book (save for the parents and hospital staff) have been dealt a rather bad card of hands when it comes to overcoming difficulties in life. But it’s there in front of them, and the only thing to do is try to clear it and get to the next problem. We may face hardships in our life, but we can’t just give up. What would become of us if we didn’t have hardships or hurdles to get over and improve our lives (hopefully) for the better? The things that try to bring us down in the past only make us stronger. And then we can look back and see just what we’ve gone through.

Pain demands to be felt

“That’s the thing about pain – it demands to be felt”

Pain wouldn’t be pain if we didn’t at least feel something when we get hurt. You can’t go on avoiding something that you know is going to hurt you because you don’t want to feel it. If you do, it’s going to get worse and worse, so it’s better to just let it all out. In TFiOS, Augustus’ BFF Isaac has eye cancer, and subsequently has to undergo surgery which leaves him blind. During this time, his girlfriend breaks up with him, and he has so much rage that he just needs to let it all out. Augustus lets Isaac demolish his old basketball trophies in his basement, as if it’s no big deal. Why? Because Isaac needed to let it out. There’s no use of keeping that anger and frustration in. And while it might be gut-wrenching as it happens, that pain needs to be felt – or it will never go away.

Time isn’t good to anyone

“What a slut time is. She screws everybody.”

I can’t tell you how many times over the past few days I’ve said, “HOW IS IT JUNE ALREADY?!?” When we want time to speed up, it seems to slow down. When we want it to slow down, it’s like it’s gone in seconds. Luckily, everyone is a victim of time’s bitter kiss. Both Hazel and Augustus know they don’t have very good chances of staying alive forever, so it’s even more frustrating that they fall in love knowing this devastating fact. But the most they – and we – can do is make the most of our time, and not waste it on things we will regret doing.

Dare to be fearless

“Our fearlessness shall be our secret weapon.”

It’s easier said than done, but a problem I think a lot of people have is not being afraid to jump in and do something out of your comfort zone, no matter the outcome. We worry too much about what’s going to happen next that we don’t think about how great it could be if we even try. For the longest time, Hazel put her feelings about Augustus to the side, and refused to let their friendship turn romantic, as she called herself a “grenade”, ready to explode at any second. She finally put that fear aside and let her guard down, only to experience one of the greatest loves of her life.

Your true self is revealed in the darkest of times

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”

Like 9/11 or the Boston Marathon, there were the people who ran away from the explosions, then there were the first responders who initial reaction was to run towards the problem to see who they could help. That first gut reaction of how you respond to something tragic and life-changing tells a lot about you as a person. You can either give up, not face the “hurdles”, or you can be strong, live a life – live a better life knowing that whatever caused you grief in the first place has since given you reason to become a better person. When Hazel and Augustus visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, Hazel takes note that Anne’s father, Otto, was the only one out of their family to survive the Holocaust. She says, “I thought about Otto Frank not being a father anymore, left with a diary instead of a wife and two daughters.” Otto eventually decided to publish that diary, and of course it went on to become on of the most revered and studied books from the war. Otto didn’t give up when he was left alone – he preserved their legacy.

You can’t always get what you want

“The world is not a wish granting factory.”

“Cancer perks” are what Hazel and Augustus call the things they’ve received in sympathy for their struggles with cancer, you know the Make-a-Wish type things. Throughout the book, they make it clear that their sickness is not what defines them, it’s just something they have to live with, therefore the cancer perks, while usually cool, ultimately doesn’t give them what they really want. If you do want something, you have to work for it, and if you don’t get it – you don’t get it. Not everything is going to work out in your favor, but the most we can do is try.

A life is still important, no matter how long or how short

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

Probably one of the most quoted excerpts from the book, this line really sums up the entire story of Hazel and Augustus. Towards the end of the book (again, spoiler alert, I’ve warned you twice!) Augustus dies, another teenager succumbing to that bitch called cancer. While his life may have been short compared to you know, people who live to be 100, he still lived a significant life. The point of the book isn’t to feel sorry for Hazel and Gus, it’s to remind us that a life, no matter how long, or how short, can still make a profound impact on those around you, but it’s our choice  as to how we decide to live it.