Top 10 Emmy Awards Moments That Made Us Cry

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Top 10 Emmy Awards Moments That Made Us Cry

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
These Emmy moments all won in the crying game. For this list, we'll be looking at the moments at the Primetime and Daytime Emmy Awards that made us the most emotional. Our countdown includes Sarah Paulson tributes Marcia Clark, Kate McKinnon's acceptance speech, Tracy Morgan returns, and more!
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Top 10 Emmy Awards Moments That Make Us Cry


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Emmy Awards Moments That Made Us Cry

For this list, we’ll be looking at the moments at the Primetime and Daytime Emmy Awards that made us the most emotional.

Did any of these Emmy moments make you cry? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Kate McKinnon’s Acceptance Speech
“68th Primetime Emmy Awards” (2016)


Kate McKinnon is a pro at making us laugh, which is why she won a well-deserved Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2016. But this moment shows she’s also great at making us cry. At the start of her speech, a visibly emotional McKinnon emphasized she was shedding actual tears. But she managed to keep herself together and deliver a touching tribute to the people who inspired and believed in her, including her late father. We cherished Kate McKinnon during her time on “Saturday Night Live,” but this speech might be her greatest live television moment so far.

#9: Sarah Paulson Tributes Marcia Clark
“68th Primetime Emmy Awards” (2016)


“The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story” taught us there was more to this famous true crime case than we assumed. It also shone a new light on prosecutor Marcia Clark, played brilliantly by Sarah Paulson, who won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. In her speech, Paulson spoke about the pressure that comes with playing real-life figures. She discussed how, while researching Clark, she realized she had previously misjudged her. Clark was in the audience as Paulson’s guest of honor, and you can tell how touched she is by this tribute. With this speech, Sarah Paulson delivered an Emmys moment we’ll never forget. Case closed.

#8: Jharrel Jerome Tributes the Central Park Five
“71st Primetime Emmy Awards” (2019)


Another great chronicle of a shocking case is “When They See Us,” a miniseries about the Central Park Five, who were falsely convicted of a heinous crime. Jharrel Jerome won the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie. And his speech was brimming with power. After recognizing his family and others, Jerome took a moment to honor the series’ subjects, listing them by name. The Exonerated Five stood up and offered applause and salutations in return. Speaking to members of the press backstage, Jerome talked about how significant their presence at that night’s ceremony was. Justice might not always prevail, but this incredible speech reminded us why it’s so important to keep believing and fighting.

#7: Julia Louis-Dreyfus Tributes Her Father
“68th Primetime Emmy Awards” (2016)


Julia Louis-Dreyfus has won an incredible eight Emmys and counting for acting. So, there have been plenty of memorable speeches. However, this one is arguably the most touching. Winning her fifth consecutive Emmy for “Veep,” Louis-Dreyfus sounded choked up at the start of her speech. And she ended it by paying homage to her late father. It’s clear how much Louis-Dreyfus’ father meant to him based on her body language alone. Her speech also had moments of humor expertly woven in. Just like with seemingly everything else she does, Julia Louis-Dreyfus can deliver one exceptional speech.

#6: Tracy Morgan Returns
“67th Primetime Emmy Awards” (2015)


In 2014, actor Tracy Morgan was seriously injured in a vehicular collision and underwent an extensive physical rehabilitation process. The following year, he appeared at the Emmy Awards as a surprise presenter and received a standing ovation even before he began speaking. Morgan spoke from the heart about how he made it through this unimaginably difficult time and the people who helped him along the way. He also brought in some of his beloved comedic persona and showed his sense of humor was still intact. Though Morgan wasn’t nominated for any awards, there’s no question he was an absolute winner that night.

#5: Billy Crystal Honors Robin Williams
“66th Primetime Emmy Awards” (2014)


Robin Williams had passed away just two weeks before the 2014 Emmy ceremony, and we hadn’t even begun reeling from the shock. However, there was arguably no better person to tribute the late icon than his friend and fellow comedian Billy Crystal. After Sara Bareilles sang during the “In Memoriam'' segment, Crystal appeared on stage and talked about just how much of a legend Williams was. He shared stories about Williams that were both hilarious and heartfelt. Crystal referred to Williams as “the brightest star in the comedy galaxy.” We might not know exactly where that galaxy is, but we do know that this was the perfect way to honor a legend.

#4: Henry Winkler Wins
“70th Primetime Emmy Awards” (2018)


Henry Winkler gave us one of the greatest television characters of all time when he played Fonzie on “Happy Days.’ But he didn’t win his first Emmy until decades later, when he won Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for his role on dark comedy “Barry.” The room bursts into huge applause as Winkler’s name is announced, and his speech earned even further adulation. It seems like Winkler had been dreaming of this moment for a very long time. And his speech is lovely from beginning to end, including his adorable tribute to his adult children. As if we didn’t already think Henry Winkler was the coolest.

#3: Viola Davis Wins
“67th Primetime Emmy Awards” (2015)


Viola Davis made history when she became the first Black actress to win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. And her acceptance speech made this already-historical moment even more special. Davis begins by quoting words from Harriet Tubman that resonate now as much as they did more than a century ago. She speaks of the need for opportunity for actors of color and moves the crowd - and us - in the process. Davis also tributed other Black actresses starring on television series at the time. This speech - and her victory - truly shows why representation matters.

#2: Oprah Winfrey’s Lifetime Achievement Award
“25th Daytime Emmy Awards” (1998)


If you don’t watch the Daytime Emmy Awards, you’re missing out on seeing some very moving speeches. That includes this one, from the Queen of Daytime herself, Oprah Winfrey. Receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998, Winfrey earned a standing ovation and was wiping away tears before her speech even started. Speaking over cheers from the audience, Winfrey tributed Barbara Walters, partner Stedman Graham, and others. She also spoke about growing up in Mississippi and dreaming of a better future and how blessed she is. Oprah Winfrey’s influence is immeasurable. And this speech shows why she continues to inspire us.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Candice Bergen Tributes Her Dad, “41st Primetime Emmy Awards” (1989)
The “Murphy Brown” Star Gave a Wonderful Ode to Her Late Father, Ventriloquist Edgar Bergen

Camryn Manheim Wins, “50th Primetime Emmy Awards” (1998)
A Great Moment for Body Positivity From This “Practice” Star

Billy Porter Wins, “71st Primetime Emmy Awards” (2019)
The “Pose” Star Gave Us Another Amazing Moment for Representation at the Emmys

#1: Fred Rogers' Lifetime Achievement Award
“24th Daytime Emmy Awards” (1997)


The most touching speech in Emmy history wasn’t delivered by an actor or late-night talk show host but by a children’s television show host. Fred Rogers, known to countless viewers young and old as “Mister Rogers,” was honored at the 1997 Daytime Emmy Awards with a Lifetime Achievement Award. But in true Rogers fashion, he didn’t make it about himself. He spoke fondly of the people who had brought him to that special moment. He then made a special request of the audience, asking that they take a moment to think of someone who inspired them. To say the crowd is moved is an understatement. We will always remember Fred Rogers as our favorite neighbor.
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