If you’re like us, then chances are you’ve openly sobbed while watching an episode of Glee or two… or five… or ten. You get the point. But we’re not quite sure anything has prepared us for the tidal wave of emotions we’re about to feel during Glee’s tribute to late star Cory Monteith.
Season 5, Episode 3 (“The Quarterback”) is going to be a difficult one to watch for diehard Gleeks and fairweather fans alike, but there’s one we know — we’re all in this together. So as we prepare to stock up on tissues for Thursday night’s big episode, we’re taking a look back at some of Glee’s most emotional moments. Read our sob-worthy picks below and leave your’s in the comments!
1. Kurt Comes Out
There are a lot of problems with Glee — it’s unbalanced, too ridiculous, and has a knack for skimming the surface when it comes to covering serious issues — but the one thing the show has gotten consistently right since Season 1 is the relationship between Kurt and Burt. The writers took what could have a one-dimensional father figure and turned him into one of the most compelling characters on the show. The writers beautifully handled Kurt’s coming out in Season 1, Episode 4. Even though Burt wasn’t completely thrilled about the idea, he understood, and in the end, isn’t that the heart of Glee anyway? “If that’s who you are, then there’s nothing I can do about it, and I love you just as much.”
2. Kurt Sings “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
Again, Kurt and Burt are the heart of the show, so when Burt suffered a heart attack in Season 2’s standout episode, “Grilled Cheesus,” our hearts dropped. But we didn’t start reaching for the tissues until Kurt stood in front of the glee club and dedicated the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” to his ailing dad. Oh, and did we mention a flashback montage of Burt teaching baby Kurt how to ride a bike played on? We were emotional wrecks.
3. Burt Hummel Says Goodbye
Season 4 started with an emotional bang as Rachel tried to find her way in New York City without her friends and Kurt struggled to find happiness in Lima even though his heart longed for the Big Apple. In the end, Kurt decides to move to the city to live with Rachel, and who drops him off at the airport? Burt. As Kurt leaves, unsure of what his future holds in the big city, he tells his father that he can always come back home if the city doesn’t work out for him. Burt replies, “But you won’t.” And now we’re sobbing all over again. Sometimes less is more, especially when it comes to Glee.
4. “The Break-Up”
Was there even a way to survive this episode without shedding a tear? Finchel broke up. Klaine broke up. Brittana broke up. And even our hearts broke up with our bodies. This Season 4 episode was fraught with emotion — as Rachel broke up with Finn, Blaine came clean about cheating on Kurt, and Brittany and Santana decided to go their separate ways after trying to keep up their long distance relationship. Each scene was realistic and heartfelt, featuring some of the show’s best performances ever.
5. Rachel and Shelby Sing “I Dreamed a Dream”
Maybe it was the song choice (Les Mis is an emotional black hole), but Rachel’s duet with her birth mother Shelby is hard to get through even four seasons later. Rachel’s life-long dream was to meet her birth mother, while Shelby’s life-long regret was not being able to meet Rachel face to face. Shelby gives Jesse St. James a tape to give to Rachel. On the tape, Shelby is singing “I Dreamed a Dream,” which then leads to a dream sequence in which Rachel imagines signing the song on stage with her mother. Season 1 Rachel wasn’t the easiest person to like, but that scene definitely made us feel for her.
6. Karofsky Attempts Suicide
Yet another example of Glee skimming over a serious subject, Karofsky’s suicide attempt was one of the most talked-about scenes in the history of the show. Kurt’s former tormentor Dave Karofsky is a closeted homosexual who isn’t comfortable with is sexuality. When he gets outed at school, he’s the victim of online harassment and physical bullying. This leads him to make the decision to end his own life. Luckily, his mother find him just in time. While we wish Glee wouldn’t have rushed through this emotional storyline in a three-minute musical montage (to Blaine singing Young and the Giant’s “Cough Syrup”), we can’t watch this scene without tearing up. Glee has shown every possible outcome of the coming out process, but this was most certainly the hardest pill to swallow.
7. Finn Surprises Kurt at Burt and Carole’s Wedding
When Finn first found out that Kurt’s father was marrying his mother, he had a hard time adjusting to Kurt’s “gayness” as he not-so-nicely put it. At one point, Burt even throws Finn out of his house after he catches Finn calling Kurt a “fag.” However, by the time the wedding came around, Finn had abandoned his previous notions about Kurt’s sexual orientation and accepted him as his brother through this tear-jerking Bruno Mars tribute. Can someone please pass the tissues?
8. Finn Proposes to Rachel
In what is perhaps the most subtle and beautiful declaration of love in all of Glee’s five seasons, Finn’s proposal to Rachel was absolutely perfect because it demonstrated why America fell in love with Finn Hudson. He didn’t always make the most rational decisions, but he followed his heart. "I opened up my first credit card to get this. I know it's not a swimming pool full of dancers, or a tux, or…it's not very big, but it's a promise," an emotional Finn told Rachel in the Season 3 episode. "A promise to keep loving you for the rest of my life. All you've got to do is say yes. Rachel Berry, will you marry me?" And we haven’t stopped swooning since.
9. Don’t Stop Believin’
This doesn’t really need an explanation, does it? Nothing gets us more emotional than reliving the glory days of Glee. On May 19, 2009, we were introduced to a ragtag group of high school misfits. Since its premiere Glee has always been about the underdog, and perhaps there’s no greater representation of this than the pilot’s closing performance of “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It proved that no matter how different these kids were, they would always come together in perfect harmony.