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The 21 Best 'Parenthood' Cries Ever, Ranked From Sobs To Sniffles

There is a lot of Max and Kristina on here.

Tonight (January 29), our tear ducts will fight their final battle against the emotional onslaught that is "Parenthood." For six years, we've stood by the Bravermans as they dealt with everything from Asperger's to alcoholism to heart disease and back again, and with Zeek's health failing and Amber giving birth to new life, there's no doubt that the final goodbye will open the flood gates like never before.

So, to honor the one and only show that managed to make us feel things, here are the 21 best cry moments in "Parenthood" history, ranked according to whether or not I threw out my mascara in frustration when I was watching it:

  1. Drew becomes a man.

    Drew has always been one of the more reserved Bravermans (or Holts, whatever), but it's usually because he feels like he has to put on a brave face for those who are suffering around him. His sweet selflessness brought all the tears when Drew, who was struggling with Amy's response to her abortion, had a rare feelings-sesh with Amber. See, guys -- he can cry!

  2. Adam culturally appropriates.

    Okay, okay, so these were tears of secondhand embarrassment, but still tears, nonetheless. Adam's heart was in the right place (as per the usual) when he bought his hip-hop swag to that bizarre hip-hop meeting, but the cringe will never end -- and just be warned that only legit tears follow.

  3. Zeek councils a youth.

    In later seasons we've gotten to see the softer, more human side of Zeek, so it's easy to forget that seasons 1-3 Zeek was a lot less open with his feelings, and a lot more likely to be stubborn and even a bit machismo. This all changed when Ryan (Matt Lauria) hit the scene, and Zeek's heart wrenching conversation with the PTSD-stricken vet both A, made us cry, and B, cracked the veneer of a character we'd been dying to see more of for years.

  4. Mark dumps Sarah.

    To tell you the truth, I was never the biggest fan of Mark and Sarah as an OTP. They had great chemistry, and Jason Ritter was a doll, but they were just at completely different places in their lives. However, Mark's agony came through in this breakup scene, in one of the rare moments when we cried over a non-Braverman.

  5. Crosby gives a pep-talk.

    Crosby doesn't often get to be the strong, sensitive type on this show, but he really stepped up to the plate when Julia was at one of her lowest moments with Victor. His words were exactly what his suffering little sister needed to hear at the time, and also 100 percent true.

  6. Kristina gives everyone the news.

    When Haddie returned from college, seemingly out of the blue and with a look of extreme concern on her face, Kristina could no longer hide the truth of her cancer diagnosis from the rest of the family -- and we could no longer hold our tears as she gave them the news.

  7. Joel shows up for Jesus.

    Usually when I cry about church stuff, the tears are related to my mom making me go. But when Joel showed up to Aida's baptism to show Julia that he was still invested in her family, I lost it for a completely different reason -- it was our first sign of hope for this struggling marriage in, like, years.

  8. Haddie and Adam have a father-daughter talk.

    It is not easy to always have to be the adult in the family, but Adam Braverman makes it look easy -- and judging by this conversation, Haddie definitely inherited this remarkable trait.

  9. Max learns to dance.

    Kristina's goodbye message to her kids was heartbreaking, but so were the little things she did to enjoy what she thought was her final moments with them. Top of the list was this dance sequence with Max, as Adam watched with a smile from the kitchen. It's something that would look normal to the outside observer, but we knew how much that dance meant to Kristina, and it hurt like hell.

  10. Haddie says goodbye.
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    Part of what makes "Parenthood" so great is its relatability, and Haddie's final goodbye to her parents when she went to her college was a sweet, touching moment that reminded us all of how it felt to finally grow up. And that run back she did, for one final hug? Priceless, and I'm 99 percent sure I did the exact same thing when I moved out of the country my junior year. (Don't worry, Kristina -- daughters always come back.)

  11. "It's a yes."

    Sorry, haters -- the show may have struggled to figure out what to do with Hank in the beginning, but his very different struggle with autism and his sweet, touching relationships with Sarah, Max, Amber and Drew has been a highlight over the past season. His first proposal to Sarah might have been rushed, but his follow-up actions to show her how much he cared nailed it more than he nailed that crib. We as an audience needed Sarah to find her happy ending, and I think she found it with the right guy -- and job. The job is important, too.

  12. Haddie comes out.

    We obviously knew that Kristina would be accepting of her daughter's sexuality -- it's Kristina, after all -- but what really made this scene powerful was seeing how Haddie was hiding the truth because she didn't want her parents to worry that things would get difficult for her. Haddie is a relatively selfless and criminally underrated character, and it was nice to have that showcased, if only for a moment.

  13. Amber names her baby Zeek.

    Seeing how touched Zeek was when he met his great-grandson, and Sarah's face watching his face, was perfect. It's also probably a sign of impending doom, but whatever. We'll deal with that later.

  14. Julia loses Zoe's baby.

    We knew pretty much all season that Julia wasn't getting that baby, but knowing it was coming didn't make Julia's heartbreak -- and her commitment to buttoning it up and being a good parent to Sydney while she dealt with it -- any easier. Remember when she ran off and cried by herself in that sad little room? Of course you do.

  15. Amber messes with Zeek's dreams.

    Amber was having a prettttty rough time when she didn't get into Berkley back in season two -- and to tell you the truth, I still really wish she'd sucked it up and gone to community college -- and it was great (slash heartbreaking) to see her get the slap in the face she needed via Zeek's "don't mess with my dreams" speech. This was the moment in which Amber realized that people loved her more than she could possibly imagine, and luckily, she never forgot it.

  16. Adam and Kristina tell Max he has Asperger's.
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    "Parenthood" has had its ups and downs with pretty much all of its characters, but one area where they've always nailed it has been in dealing with Max's Asperger's. Now, maybe this just kills me because a close member of my own family -- one around Max's age -- has to deal with the "qualities and difficulties" that come with the syndrome as well, but I don't think so. In fact, I think that the show just handles this issue really, really well, and the first scene in which Adam and Kristina told him about his "disability," and ultimately did it "wrong," was a gut-punch. Everything about it was real, from Kristina's shame at her tears, to the decision of what terminology to use in framing what it is that makes Max different. This came on early in the series -- in season two -- and was a huge sign of blubbery mess things to come.

  17. Kristina says goodbye to Gwen.

    Soon after Kristina got her clean bill of health, her wonderful friend Gwen took a sharp turn in the opposite direction. The show didn't shy away from the loneliness of Gwen's death, nor Kristina's pain as she grappled with life's biggest questions. Sometimes, s--t just ain't fair.

  18. Victor gets adopted.

    Happy "Parenthood" tears are the best "Parenthood" tears, and Victor joining the family -- with each and every Braverman offering up how they would make him feel welcome -- was the best of the "Parenthood" happy tears. Congrats on getting to hold Max's lizard, Lil' V.

  19. Max wins the election.

    Poor Max rarely gets to enjoy big "wins" on this show, so it was a huge gift for both fans and the Bravermans when he "came out" to the student body at his awful, awful middle school (more on that in a sec). Saying that "his greatest strength" came from his Asperger's while Haddie cheered him on from the sidelines was just gorgeous; nothing left to say through all these tears.

  20. Kristina leaves a powerful message.

    Kristina's goodybe message for Max -- "My wish for you is for you to go out into the world. Step out of yourself, and let the world see how beautiful you are, and what an amazing person you are" -- was only outdone by her goodbye to Nora. How unfair it was, that Kristina had brought a baby into the world and then (seemingly) robbed of her time with her, came across in every frame, and Adam's cry-face as he watched it was brutal.

  21. Max gets bullied.

    Alas, though many "Parenthood" tears are happy tears, the top spot goes to one of the hardest scenes "P-Hood" fans have ever had to sit through -- "why do all the other kids hate me?" Everything about this felt very earned and very real, especially Adam and Kristina's helplessness as they realized that they could never shield their son from the cruelty of middle school kids. It's something that pretty much every parent goes through, but for the parents of a child with Asperger's, the secondhand pain is just that much greater. When Kristina climbs into the backseat to be with him, we all lose it. We all do.

    Oh, and by the way? SCREW YOU, MICAH. Screw you until forever.