Traditionally, science-fiction revolves around action rather than drama, humour rather than tragedy. Whilst deaths are commonplace in a genre filled with space battles and horrifying creatures, truly emotional moments are much harder to come by, but that’s not to say they do not exist: far from it. Below is my personal top ten tear-jerking moments in science-fiction, I’ve had to cut many more out as this could easily have been a top fifty.
Warning: big spoilers contained herein.
- Men in Black: Agent K tells Agent J that he is Agent K’s replacement, rather than his partner. However what really tugs the heartstrings is the tortured voice in which he instructs J to remove all his memories of his time as a Man in Black because “I’ve just been down the gullet of an interstellar cockroach, kid, and that’s one of a hundred memories that I don’t want”.
- Independence Day: President Whitmore leaves the hospital room at Area 51 after his wife dies, shortly after they were reunited. He walks silently along the corridor, to join his very young daughter who is sitting alone on a plastic chair. She look at her father then asks simply “is mommy sleeping now?” to which he sadly agrees.
- Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of The Sith: On the orders of the new Emperor, “Order 66” goes into operation throughout the galaxy, causing the clone army battalions on every planet to turn and mercilessly slay the Jedi they have fought alongside for so many years. The sheer cold-hearted brutality of the act is enough to bring a tear to the most hardened of eyes.
- Star Trek (2009): Captain George Kirk makes the ultimate sacrifice to save all aboard the USS Kelvin. At the same time, he talks to his wife as his baby is born on one of the ship’s evacuation shuttles. I watched this at the cinema whilst pregnant and blubbed the whole way through, I even had to leave the room when we re-watched the film at home.
- WALL-E: An increasingly frantic EVE desperately tries to rebuild WALL-E and restore his memory as the other faulty robots look on. It is a tribute to Pixar’s creative team how beautifully this scene works as you find yourself holding back tears when WALL-E’s memory initially appears to have been wiped.
- Futurama – Jurassic Bark: What is it about animals that gives us the weepies every time? This is the only episode of Futurama that I simply cannot watch; the ending sees a time lapse of Fry’s dog Seymour waiting in vain for twelve years for the return of his master to the refrain of “if it takes forever, I will wait for you”. It just doesn’t get any more heartbreaking.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Body: Buffy discovers her mother lying dead in their living room having suffered a sudden brain aneurysm. The episode is frequently cited as one of the most accurate portrayals of death ever broadcast in any genre and Anya’s speech articulates the loss, confusion and anger at such a tragic time: “I mean, I knew her, and then she’s… there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead any more. It’s stupid.”
- Dr Who (New Series) – Doomsday: The 10th Doctor burns up a star in order to say an incredibly emotional goodbye to Rose Tyler before the gateway between the separate universes they have been forced into closes forever. He is only a projection and their inability to touch one another during their last moments together adds to the grief you feel on their behalf.
- Moon: Sam Bell discovers that he is only one of many clones with life-spans of a mere three years – his pre Moon memories copied from an original human “Sam Bell”. Having worked his three year stint alone on the Sarang Moon base, Sam finally learns that he is destined to never return to Earth and his family who have moved on without him, his wife having died years ago.
- The X-Files – Closure: FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder finally discovers the truth about his sister’s disappearance, bringing closure to the story-arc that had carried the show for almost seven seasons. As he leaves the site of his revelation, he says to a worried Special Agent Dana Scully: “I’m fine. I’m free.”
This is my personal Top Ten, I know there are many classic moments of emotional science fiction not listed, so tell me, what are your favourite tear-jerking moments?