Top 20 Saddest TV Goodbyes
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Top 20 Saddest TV Goodbyes

VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Kim Mabee
The saddest TV goodbyes still hurt. For this list, we'll be looking at the most tear-jerking scenes in which fictional television folks bid adieu to the show and/or other characters. Our countdown includes "Glee," "Friends," "The Simpsons," and more!
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Top 20 Saddest TV Goodbyes


Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Saddest TV Goodbyes.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most tear-jerking scenes in which fictional television folks bid adieu to the show and/or other characters – even if only temporarily. We’re excluding deaths since those warrant their own list, but important plot points will be discussed, so consider this your spoiler alert.

Which of these goodbyes broke your heart? Let us know in the comments!

#20: Rachel Berry & Finn Hudson
“Glee” (2009-15)


Although Rachel unfortunately has to grieve Finn’s passing in the fifth season, their goodbye during the season 3 finale is also gut-wrenching. One of the season’s biggest storylines revolves around the duo’s upcoming wedding. When Rachel decides to put off studying at her dream performing arts school in New York, he realizes that she can’t put her ambitions on hold for him. Plus, he needs to figure his own path out. In other words, the wedding is off, which leads everyone to the train station. The farewell between Rachel, Finn, and the other glee kids as she heads to the Big Apple is punctuated by a stunning performance of “Roots Before Branches.” There’s definitely a tear in our eye.

#19: Eric & Red Forman
“That '70s Show” (1998-2006)


We see Red Forman as the stern father who rarely shows emotion. We also see him being particularly hard on his son Eric and his friends. But Eric is the glue that holds the group of misfits together. So his decision to leave for Africa is devastating to his friends, family, and viewers alike. While his goodbyes with his friends and mother are emotional, it’s the farewell chat between father and son that really leaves a lump in our throats. Red tells Eric that he’ll miss him and that he loves him, and it’s clear the latter is touched that he finally gets to hear those words.

#18: Grogu & Din Djarin
“The Mandalorian” (2019-)


Grogu, perhaps better known as Baby Yoda, took the internet by storm when he first made his appearance on “The Mandalorian.” He falls into the care of Din Djarin, aka Mando’s custody, and the two become so close that he essentially grows to be Djarin’s son. Their deep, often unspoken bond makes their parting as Grogu goes to learn The Force from Luke Skywalker that much sadder. Before Baby Yoda leaves, Mando takes his helmet off for the first time, revealing his face in a particularly touching farewell scene. Luckily, this separation didn’t last forever, as we got to see the two reunite in the spin-off series “The Book of Boba Fett.”

#17: Ann Perkins & Leslie Knope
“Parks and Recreation” (2009-15; 2020)


Leslie and Ann’s friendship is incredibly fun to watch, so seeing the latter leave Pawnee is as heartbreaking for the former as it is for us. With a baby on the way, Ann and her partner Chris decide to start their family somewhere new. Of course, that means a going away bash is in order, and Leslie delivers. She and Ann even manage to finally break ground on the project that first introduced them. The symbolism of that moment alone is incredibly bittersweet. And watching as Leslie tries to keep it together while her best friend drives off the following morning is downright heartbreaking. But it’s okay, because Ron has the remedy we all need.

#16: Devon Carter & Raven Baxter
“That’s So Raven” (2003-07)


Although this goofy show was mostly known for psychic-induced hijinx, it did have some tear-jerking moments. Raven and Devon’s romance was one many fans were rooting for, and we could feel her devastation when she had to say goodbye to him in season 2. Misinterpreting a vision of an engagement ring like only she can, she initially thinks that he’s going to pop the question. She’s soon devastated to learn that his dad is tying the knot, which also means the family will be relocating to Seattle. Their goodbye involves them reaffirming their love for one another, but that doesn’t make it any easier for us to process.

#15: Johnny Rose, Moira Rose, & the Town of Schitt’s Creek
“Schitt's Creek” (2015-20)


When the Roses first arrive in Schitt’s Creek, they can’t wait to leave. But as the years go by, they find friends who become family, and grow immensely as people. Of course, all good things must come to an end. In the end, son David and his husband Patrick decide to move into a house in town, while daughter Alexis plans to go to New York. Meanwhile, parents Johnny and Moira are California-bound. The couple end the series by emotionally saying farewell to their kids and loved ones, before driving out of town. Johnny bids one final farewell to Schitt’s Creek – and that unforgettable town sign, making us smile and cry at the same time.

#14: Mary Richards & the Staff
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (1970-77)


When this sitcom came to a close in 1977, audience members everywhere were shedding a tear. “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was an innovative program centered around a single woman in her thirties trying to make it in the working world. We saw her navigate her career in a way that felt real and relatable throughout the years, which made the finale that much more heartbreaking. Mary, along with most of the other staff members, are let go. Before parting ways, they give each other one long group hug. They don’t want it to end, and neither do we. We’re not ashamed to admit we were reaching for the tissues right alongside them.

#13: Fiona Gallagher & Her Family
“Shameless” (2011-21)


Throughout Fiona Gallagher’s nine seasons on “Shameless,” she experiences big successes and failures. She reaches rock bottom after finding out that her boyfriend has a wife and losing her apartment building. She finally realizes, with the help of her brother Ian, that she needs to leave Chicago. Before she goes, she has a poignant moment with her dad Frank, and leaves her family money to ensure they’re taken care of. Even from afar, their love for each other shines through. And seeing how at peace Fiona is on that airplane feels like confirmation that she’s making the best choice for herself. It’s a bittersweet departure, to say the least.

#12: Troy Barnes & Abed Nadir
“Community” (2009-15)


“Community” wasn’t known for its more tender moments. But watching Troy Barnes leave Greendale in season five always tugs at our heartstrings. After the gang discovers that Pierce has passed away, Troy inherits a hefty sum of his money — but there’s a catch. The recipient must embark on a worldwide sailing trip, so that’s what he plans to do. But this means leaving his friends. Seeing him and Abed part ways is particularly difficult, considering how iconic their bromance is. One mega game of “The Floor is Lava” and a final, emotionally charged send-off later, Troy departs. It still stings when we think about it!

#11: Doug Ross & Carol Hathaway
“ER” (1994-2009)


We all fell head over heels for George Clooney’s Dr. Doug Ross, so we can’t blame Carol for being devastated when he leaves for the west coast in season five. These two face a lot of ups and downs as a couple, and this goodbye really seems like the end. Doug abruptly leaves, leaving Carol — and us — shattered. Soon after, she realizes that she’s pregnant with his babies, and initially attempts to raise them by herself. It goes without saying, but we were thrilled when this adorable, slightly dysfunctional couple decided to give it a go as a family in Seattle.

#10: Jax & Abel Teller
“Sons of Anarchy” (2008-14)


During the season six finale of “Sons of Anarchy” everything seems to unravel for the club. The moment of calm among the storm, and the one that leaves us in sorrow, is when Jax says goodbye. He resolves to turn himself in, but not before parting with his crew and young sons, Abel and Thomas. The latter is too young to realize what’s going on, but the former knows his dad is leaving. The scene is set to a sentimental soundtrack, and you can actually see the emotions in all of the characters' faces. It marks a turning point for the series as a whole, Jax, and everyone watching at home.

#9: Elena Gilbert & Damon Salvatore
“The Vampire Diaries” (2009-17)


Many fans were cheering when Damon and Elena finally got together, which made their goodbye all the more gut-wrenching. She’s in a prolonged sleep for her and her best friend Bonnie’s safety. But luckily, she still gets to say goodbyes to her loved ones in her mind. Each interaction is deeply moving, and it all culminates in a powerful moment with her true love. There’s not a dry eye in the house as we watch this fan-favorite couple spend a few final moments together. They dance and express their feelings, and it’s all tragically beautiful. Knowing that this will be the last time they see each other for decades further amplifies the stakes, and we can feel the sheer emotion through the screen.

#8: Cristina Yang & Meredith Grey
“Grey’s Anatomy” (2005-)


This long-running medical drama is no stranger to intense goodbyes, as many characters have come and gone throughout the seasons. And while we were weeping when Meredith said goodbye to Derek, the hardest farewell to watch was between her and her best friend, Cristina. As the time comes for Cristina to leave Seattle Grace, she shares some final words of wisdom with Meredith, instructing her to look out for the others and herself. Of course, they also have a goodbye dance session together. While we were gutted to see her go, we know she’s living her best life in Zurich.

#7: Rachel Green & the Friends
“Friends” (1994-2004)


The final season of “Friends” ushers in many changes for the group members. One of the biggest is Rachel announcing that she would be taking a job in Paris. While the series finale is undoubtedly a tearjerker, the penultimate episode in which we see her going away party leaves us with the heaviest of hearts. She has emotional parting talks with Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey, and each goodbye is more devastating than the last. She also saves an extra special — and extra stirring — goodbye for Ross. Thankfully, Rachel ultimately stays in New York, turning our sad tears into happy ones.

#6: Dorothy Zbornak & the Golden Girls
“The Golden Girls” (1985-92)


There’s nothing like a group hug in a series finale to kickstart the waterworks, and we get quite a few in this one. This iconic sitcom came to a close after 7 seasons, as Dorothy decided to get hitched and move out of the Golden Girl dwelling. In the last scene, we tearfully watch as she, Sophia, Blanche, and Rose say their final farewell in their home. It takes the bride a few tries to finally leave for good, but when she does, we’re left feeling melancholic. It’s a new chapter for the women, to be sure. But it’s also the end of an era, and what an era it was.

#5: Mona & Homer Simpson
“The Simpsons” (1989-)


Even an animated comedy can find ways to unexpectedly touch your heart. And we can’t help but feel heavy-hearted when Homer says goodbye to his mother, Mona. It takes seven seasons for us to finally get introduced to her outside of a flashback. And as beautiful as it is to see her and son reunite, it's just as difficult watching their farewell. You see, she’s wanted by law enforcement, so she can’t stay in Springfield. Watching Homer struggle with her departure is nothing short of heartbreaking. And it’s only made worse by the fact that a few seasons later, he has to say goodbye to her for good.

#4: Diane Chambers & Sam Malone
“Cheers” (1982-93)


Sam and Diane were the original will-they-or-won't-they couple. At the end of the fifth season, the two are finally going to tie the knot — until Diane gets a big break in her writing career. Their parting is impactful enough to make even the biggest cynic shed a tear. It’s clear that Sam knows this is the end for them, despite the love they share. Meanwhile, she’s convinced it’s temporary and that she’ll be back in just a few months. Of course, fans of the show know that they don’t see each other again until years later. While they almost make it work in the series finale, this goodbye cements the fact that they were always headed down different paths.

#3: Tenth Doctor & His Companions
“Doctor Who” (2005-)


We see the Tenth Doctor and his companions go through many adventures, and sadly, in this two-parter, we see the last of him. After a victory against the Master, he gets exposed to a fatal amount of radiation, and accepts his fate. He shares melancholic goodbyes with his companions before he regenerates, becoming the Eleventh Doctor. Audiences were devastated to say goodbye to the Tenth Doctor, as he was widely considered to be one of the best versions of Doctor Who. Of course, we were also devastated when he shared a goodbye with Rose earlier in the show. But this moment takes the cake.

#2: Michael Scott & The Dunder Mifflin Staff
“The Office” (2005-13)


This show normally had viewers everywhere in stitches. But one of the most heartbreaking moments was when Michael decided to leave Dunder Mifflin and Scranton to be with Holly. He misleads the staff to believe that he’s leaving the next day in hopes that he’ll keep it together during his departure, but Jim figures it out anyway. The duo share an extremely heartfelt final conversation, expressing their love and appreciation for each other. We were already crying at this point, so Pam saying her last goodbye to him at the airport completely wrecked us. We can’t hear what they’re saying, but it doesn’t even matter.

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

Butterfree & Ash Ketchum, “Pokémon” (1997-)
Ash Touchingly Lets the First Pokémon He Ever Caught Go

J.D. Dorian & Perry Cox, “Scrubs” (2001-10)
A Moving Sight That Won’t Leave Anyone Indifferent

Carly Shay & Her Loved Ones, “iCarly” (2007-12)
Before Leaving for Italy with Her Father, She Shares Meaningful Goodbyes With Spencer, Sam, & Freddie

#1: All the Characters
“M*A*S*H” (1972-83)


To put it simply, this episode pulled on our heartstrings non-stop. The tragic instance in which we had to say goodbye to Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake was devastating, to be sure. But the show’s final farewell is unbeatable. Viewers watched as the characters had their final moments with each other and the Korean War. There wasn’t a dry eye in the world when we saw “Goodbye” spelled out from the helicopter. Even though this episode first aired decades ago, it remains one of the most well-known and talked about finales ever. It just goes to show how incredibly impactful this farewell really was.
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