29 TV Episodes That Made Us Cry In 2016

Photo: Scott Everett White/The CW.
Watching TV can be a way to escape — and after everything we've seen in 2016, we could all use a mental getaway. But a great show will make you feel things, because you're invested in the characters and the story.

With that in mind, we've rounded up the TV episodes that brought us all the feels this year. Whether it was happy tears or sad ones — ok, mostly sad ones — we openly wept while watching these scenes. (Be forewarned, though: This slideshow isn't for the faint of heart. We're talking major tearjerkers — deaths, PTSD, and even shootings all come into play.)

These episodes might have made us uncomfortable, but that's what makes them so memorable. Many of the shows on this list are comedies, too. But their emotional episodes transcended anything you'd typically expect from a half-hour show.

Click through to see the 29 TV episodes that made us cry in 2016. Even if you don't watch all of these shows, you'll probably shed a tear or two.
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"Twenty-Two," You're The Worst
This heartbreaking episode was one of the show's best to date. It looks back at the previous episode, but from Edgar's (Desmin Borges) perspective.

We knew before this that Edgar, a veteran, had PTSD, but "Twenty-Two" took us inside how that actually affects his day-to-day life. We see Edgar fight with a V.A. officer about his medications, which he says aren't working. He eventually meets a fellow veteran, who tells him about coping mechanisms for PTSD. (He also tells him that 22 veterans commit suicide each day, something Edgar himself considers this episode.)

"Twenty-Two" differs sharply from the typical You're The Worst episodes, and that's not a bad thing. It adds some much-needed reality about the consequences the main characters' actions have on other people.
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"There's My Baby," How To Get Away With Murder
Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) is an antihero for sure — she's literally framed people for murder and consistently alienates everyone who cares about her. But in the flashbacks to Annalise and Sam's (Tom Verica) devastating loss, we're hurting along with her.

After a car crash — which we later learn Frank (Charlie Weber) was linked to — Annalise has an emergency C-section, but the baby doesn't survive. She holds the baby's body in her arms at the hospital, a scene that's impossible to watch without shedding tears.
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"DJ Twins," Baskets
You might not think something that starts out with Zach Galifianakis dancing to "Conga" would be a tear-jerker, but Baskets isn't your average TV show.

"DJ Twins" was a turning point for Baskets. Throughout the first season, we saw Chip (Galifianakis) be exceptionally mean to Martha (Martha Kelly), despite the fact that she's nothing but kind to the entire Baskets family. Chip seems pretty heartless a lot of the time, which made "DJ Twins" all the more moving.

The episode is, ostensibly, about Christine Baskets' (Louie Anderson) other twins coming home for a visit. But throughout the preparations for the family dinner, she reveals more details about her late husband. It sets the stage for the rest of the season and helps explain why the Baskets family is the way they are.

Before this episode, we saw her explain to Penelope (Sabina Sciubba) that Chip and Dale's father died after falling from a bridge examining the view. It seems suspicious — the "bridge" in question isn't anywhere close to being fully constructed, and the "view" is a patch of dirt. But in "DJ Twins," Christine looks at a family photo, saying of her husband, "Sometimes, you just don't know how unhappy someone is."

The statement is a gut punch. We officially know that her husband committed suicide, which explains why she's so devoted to her children's every need, even in their adulthood. Later in the episode, after the comment about the photo and after being ditched by the DJ twins, Christine eats whipped cream straight from the mixing bowl while crying in her room.

That leads us back to Chip. He observes his mother's sorry state, and determines that he has to do something about it. He and Martha visit the DJ twins, where he tells them to be nicer to their mom. But the trip comes at the expense of Chip's entry into the Mr. Rodeo contest — he misses his show and a chance to meet the talent scouts. He's still unkind to Martha, but Chip put so much work into the contest — more than we've ever seen him put into anything on this show — that it's a small act of redemption for his character.
4 of 30
"Chapter Forty-Four," Jane The Virgin
Jane (Gina Rodriguez) and Michael (Brett Dier) are finally married! The wedding is perfect, complete with Charo as a bridesmaid and a choreographed father-daughter dance between her and Rogelio (Jaime Camil).

But this is a telenovela, so things can't go off without a hitch. Jane and Michael are preparing to (finally!) have sex, but he gets shot by his partner, Susanna — who turns out to be Rose in disguise.

How much heartbreak does one woman deserve? This episode made us cry happy tears during the wedding festivities — and then sad ones over Michael's fate. (Luckily, Michael recovers in season three, and the two do get to have sex.)
5 of 30
"Landing Gear," New Girl
Not all the tears we shed while watching TV this year were out of sadness. On New Girl, Cece (Hannah Simone) and Schmidt (Max Greenfield) finally tied the knot, and we shed all the tears.

Was it ridiculous that the gang held the original ceremony without Schmidt there? Yes, of course it was. But the intimate wedding — held, where else, in the loft — was perfect. The smashing of the Douchebag Jar was an on-point callback, and it was just heart-warming to see these characters, whose relationship we've followed for five seasons, finally profess their love to each other.
6 of 30
"The Jacket," Atlanta
In the finale of Atlanta's first season, Earn (Donald Glover), Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), and Darius (Keith Stanfield) watch a man die at the hands of the police.

Some critics have noted that the episode illustrates society becoming desensitized to police brutality. The shooting scene was relatively brief, and Earn doesn't seem too affected by it. It's still shocking to viewers, though, and it will be interesting to see how the incident plays into the second season.
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7 of 30
"Trump Card," Scandal
Scandal has never shied away from episodes that mirror contemporary American politics. In "Trump Card," Hollis Doyle (Gregg Henry) runs on a platform remarkably similar to that of President-elect Donald Trump.

Meanwhile, Rowan (Joe Morton) tells Democratic presidential candidate Edison Davis (Norm Lewis) not to rock the boat too much about issues of race. But at Olivia's (Kerry Washington) suggestion, Edison ends his campaign by doing just that.

Edison's speech about why "all lives matter" and "make America great again" are such harmful sayings rings true outside the context of the show. "The idea that this country belongs to one kind of person is the least American idea that anyone has ever had," Edison says.
8 of 30
"The Animals," Orange Is The New Black
Fans were not happy to see Poussey (Samira Wiley) die at the hands of a correctional officer. And neither were Poussey's fellow inmates.

In the following episode (and the finale), Caputo (Nick Sandow) defends Bayley (Alan Aisenberg), which leads to a riot at Litchfield.
9 of 30
"Last Christmas," This Is Us
Nothing bad ever happens on Christmas Eve — until it does. In the show's fall/winter finale, Toby (Chris Sullivan) suffers a heart attack, and it's not clear whether or not he'll survive.

That wasn't the only moment in the episode that brought us to tears, either. William's (Ron Cephas Jones) former love finds him at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting and wants to stay with William before he passes away from his cancer. Let the tears flow.
10 of 30
"Hope," Black-ish
Black-ish often deals with controversial topics, and February's episode about police brutality was no exception. The episode features Andre (Anthony Anderson) and Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross) debating how to talk to their children about police brutality in America.

In this scene, Dre explains to his wife that he was "terrified" watching Obama's inauguration. "Tell me you weren't worried that someone was going to snatch that hope away from us like they always do," Dre says to Bow. "That is the real world, Bow, and our children need to know that that's the world they live in."

Bow wants to remain hopeful, but she also acknowledges that her husband has a point. In the end, the family goes to a protest together. It's a well-handled, emotionally fraught episode about an incredibly complex issue.
11 of 30
"Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!" Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
The second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was marred by an incredibly tone-deaf episode where Titus (Tituss Burgess) dressed up as a geisha, and a group of Asian-Americans admitted they were overreacting by being offended by it.

There's no defense for that episode — which is a real shame, because the rest of the season was incredibly on-point in addressing the PTSD Kimmy experiences after her time in the bunker. This season, we learned that her kidnapper considered them "married." And Kimmy hits Dong (Ki Hong Lee) with a phone when he tries to kiss her.

In "Kimmy Goes to Her Happy Place!" we see a cartoon song that looks like a Disney movie taking place inside Kimmy's head. In therapy, she confesses that she goes to that "happy place" when things spiral of her control. It's an upbeat-seeming way of dealing with all the trauma she's endured — and serves as a powerful reminder that even a seemingly chipper person like Kimmy might be suffering through some really tough issues.
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12 of 30
"The Door," Game Of Thrones
Hodor's death spawned memes galore, but it's still painful to think about. No one is safe on this show.
13 of 30
"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia," The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
A lot has been written about how The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story was Marcia Clark's "redemption." This episode, in particular, demonstrated the struggles that Clark, played by Sarah Paulson, faced during the trial. Clark is constantly hit with sexist remarks about her appearance and even about buying tampons.

Clark's ex-husband also filed for custody while the trial was taking place, and topless photos of her were leaked to a tabloid. The sexism wasn't played up for the FX series — it was frustratingly accurate.
14 of 30
"Holly, Jolly," Stranger Things
In the grand scheme of Stranger Things, Barb (Shannon Purser) is a minor character. But that didn't stop legions of fans from mourning her death.

Aside from this scene about the loss of Barb, we also see Joyce (Winona Ryder) become more and more obsessed with communicating with Will, hanging Christmas lights everywhere. Joyce knows everyone else thinks she's crazy — but she just misses her son. It's tragic to see her determination to get her son back at all costs.
15 of 30
"When Will Josh And His Friend Leave Me Alone?" Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Santino Fontana, who played Greg on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, left the show this year. Greg's departure from West Covina included this airport scene with Rebecca (Rachel Bloom). The true sadness isn't in the fact that their characters won't end up together — Greg really is making the best choice for his future — but in the fact that Greg won't be singing any more songs on the show. Who won't miss that beautiful voice?
16 of 30
"Summer," Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
Sutton Foster's beautiful performance of "Unbreakable" — which was written by Amy Sherman-Palladino herself — is both moving and heartbreaking at the same time. Lorelai (Lauren Graham) feels like the song is speaking directly to her, and the lyrics represent the pain she's experiencing in her own life.
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17 of 30
"Hit And Run, Run, Run," Pretty Little Liars
Even if you ship Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Hanna (Ashley Benson), you have to admit that this scene between him and Spencer (Troian Bellisario) was genuinely heartbreaking. Their relationship had a believable origin story, and it's clear they both have strong feelings for each other.
18 of 30
"Chapter Forty-Two," Jane The Virgin
Yes, Anezka later drugs her twin sister into a coma and assumes her identity. But her defense of Petra (Yael Grobglas) at the Mother's Day brunch will bring even the most stone-hearted to tears.

Rogelio puts together a video series of interviews with Jane's family about how great she is, in honor of her first first Mother's Day. Anezka notices Petra feeling left out (it's her first Mother's Day as a mom, too) and raises a toast to her sister. Cue the waterworks.
19 of 30
"Who's Dead?," How To Get Away With Murder
The show pulled a bait-and-switch with the much-hyped death this season, but that's what makes it so intriguing. We thought Wes (Alfred Enoch) was safe, but the winter finale revealed that he's actually the one who died.

The reveal was truly shocking. And it will be interesting to see how the death impacts Annalise, since she seems to have seen Wes as a stand-in for the child she lost. RIP, Wes.
20 of 30
"Faith," Outlander
This episode included the rape of a child as well as a miscarriage. There's really nothing sadder than that.
21 of 30
"The Marshmallow Experiment," Younger
I don't consider myself a romantic person by any stretch, but I still swoon over how cute Liza (Sutton Foster) and Josh (Nico Tortorella) are in this episode. She tells him about the "marshmallow experiment," in which children could either have one marshmallow immediately or wait and be given two marshmallows (and those who delayed the gratification had better life outcomes).

The experiment explanation comes because she and Josh are taking it slow because of the whole Charles thing. But in the end, Liza tosses marshmallows at Josh's window — and it's so freaking adorable, I'm tearing up just typing it.
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22 of 30
"The Panic In Central Park," Girls
When Christopher Abbott left Girls, we didn't think we'd see his character, Charlie, again. But in one episode of the fifth season, Charlie returned for a one-night reunion with Marnie (Allison Williams).

This isn't the same puppy-dog, tech-founder Charlie of yore, though. Charlie is now a cocaine dealer and a heroin addict.

Charlie and Marnie spend the night going to a fancy party (so Charlie can complete a cocaine delivery) and drifting through Central Park on a rowboat. Marnie isn't always the most likable Girls character, but it's impossible not to feel for her in this episode, as she lets go of her first love for good.
23 of 30
"Thwack!" Scandal
This might have been one of the most difficult episodes of Scandal to watch. Olivia is suffering from PTSD after being kidnapped, a torture that was orchestrated by Andrew (Jon Tenney). It's difficult to see him taunt her mercilessly — and it's incredibly hard to believe this is the same man who once saved Mellie (Bellamy Young) from suicide.

Olivia eventually snaps and kills Andrew by beating him with a chair. Hopefully, season six will see Olivia get treatment for the suffering she's going through after the kidnapping, so that she can work things out in a healthier way.
24 of 30
"Episode 9," Downton Abbey
Downton Abbey's final season premiered this January in the United States, with the final episode airing on March 6 for U.S. viewers. Naturally, the last episode was a Christmas-themed one.

The ending was definitely a happy one — we shed plenty of happy tears for the Downton crew. Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) have a son, and Edith (Laura Carmichael) marries Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton). Plus, who didn't tear up when Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) got to call each other by their first names?
25 of 30
"Falling Slowly," The Last Man On Earth
Jason Sudeikis' character, Mike Miller, was a wonderful addition to the Last Man crew. Phil Miller (Will Forte) isn't always the most likable character, but it was truly heartwarming to see him reunite with his brother.

That made it all the more heartbreaking to learn that Mike had the plague the original group was immune to (and that killed the rest of the human population). There are a lot of sad "goodbye" moments to choose from, but watching the two of them sing the Once song (over and over again) is incredibly moving.
26 of 30
"The Day Will Come When You Won't Be," The Walking Dead
Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) killed Glenn (Steven Yeun) in the seventh season's premiere, and fans had all the feels. One fan even placed a fake obituary in Glenn's honor.
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27 of 30
"The Best Washing Machine In The Whole World," This Is Us
You didn't think we'd only include one episode from this tear-jerking show, did you? When Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Kevin (Justin Hartley) finally hashed out the anger they've held toward each other over the years, it was impossible not to be moved. And when Kevin called Randall his brother for the first time? Sob.
28 of 30
Photo: Robert Voets/Netflix.
"Winter," Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life
Edward Herrmann, who played Richard on Gilmore Girls, passed away in 2014. The show's Netflix revival honored Herrmann and Richard, saying the character died after suffering a heart attack.
29 of 30
"Unbreak My Heart," Grey's Anatomy
This episode centered on April (Sarah Drew) and Jackson's (Jesse Williams) relationship (and its demise). The focus on the loss of their child — and how that affected them — is truly heartbreaking.
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