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32 "Glee" Performances That Made Me Cry, Ranked From Least To Most Tears

"I could offer you a warm embrace to make you feel my love." Annnd I'm sobbing.

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32. "Don't Dream It's Over"

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Episode: "Swan Song" (Season 4, Episode 9)

This is more of a hopeful moment than a tragic one — but there's still something heartbreaking about Marley (Melissa Benoist) blaming New Directions' loss on her eating disorder. And, as with 95% of the other songs on this list, Cory Monteith's untimely death makes it that much sadder in retrospect.

31. "How Will I Know"

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Episode: "Dance With Somebody" (Season 3, Episode 17)

The saddest thing here is that this tribute episode exists because of another untimely death: Whitney Houston's. It is normal to also get emotional over how great a performance this is.

30. "Bring Him Home"

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Episode: "Diva" (Season 4, Episode 13)

Again, not a sad moment, just a really beautiful song. Sometimes, just hearing Lea Michele and Chris Colfer hit those notes is enough to bring the tears. Not to mention the fact that, once again, if you think about Monteith during this song, you will absolutely lose your shit. So don't do it.

29. "Just the Way You Are"

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Episode: "Furt" (Season 2, Episode 8)

This is a happy cry, and frankly if you don't get a little choked up at weddings, you might be a monster. It's all about Finn (Monteith) singing to his tearful mother (Romy Rosemont) before openly embracing his new stepbrother Kurt (Colfer), after Finn was called out for not defending Kurt against bullies.

28. "Don't Speak"

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Episode: "The Break-Up" (Season 4, Episode 4)

There are a lot of songs from "The Break-Up" on this list, because, well, look at the title. This is the least emotional of its musical interludes, and it's still pretty upsetting.

27. "Landslide"

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Episode: "Sexy" (Season 2, Episode 15)

A recurring theme in Season 2 is that Santana (Naya Rivera) can only express her feelings for Brittany (Heather Morris) through song. Here, she gets an assist from Gwyneth Paltrow and a song that makes me cry regardless of the context. Have you heard the Smashing Pumpkins cover? Bye.

26. "Against All Odds"

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Episode: "Guilty Pleasures" (Season 4, Episode 17)

Blaine's (Darren Criss) crush on Sam (Chord Overstreet) was one of the more forgettable Glee Season 4 storylines, but you can't really go wrong with "Against All Odds." (Personal note: I listened to this on repeat the first time I got dumped. I don't want to talk about it.)

25. "Songbird"

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Episode: "Rumours" (Season 2, Episode 19)

TELL HER YOU LOVE HER, SANTANA. Or just sing this song and make us all cry over the limits of emotional expression. You do you.

24. "Forever Young"

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Episode: "Goodbye" (Season 3, Episode 22)

Graduation is sad enough as is — did they really have to call this episode "Goodbye"? Regardless, Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) gets to deliver a lovely performance, singing "Forever Young" to his departing students. There are a few songs with the title of "Forever Young," and all of them are emotional af.

23. "Pure Imagination"

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Episode: "Funeral" (Season 2, Episode 21)

This is a very sweet rendition of a song sung at the funeral for Jean (Robin Trocki), Sue Sylvester's (Jane Lynch) sister. It would be ranked higher on the list, but Jean was never developed enough as a character to really make this moment as much of a gut-punch as it could have been. Still, tears.

22. "Fix You"

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Episode: "Asian F" (Season 3, Episode 3)

Ugh, Coldplay, always manipulating my emotions. This isn't even the saddest Coldplay performance on the list — see No. 6 — but it's still a gorgeous number, particularly when coupled with Emma's (Jayma Mays) OCD struggles. (Remember? That was a major plot point once upon a time.)

21. "Keep Holding On"

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Episode: "Throwdown" (Season 1, Episode 7)

OK, the real reason "Keep Holding On" makes me cry is that it was the song all the eliminated Glee Project contestants had to sing when they were kicked off. I miss that show so much. But I digress. In the context of Glee, it's powerful watching New Directions stand behind a pregnant and scared Quinn (Dianna Agron).

20. "Shake It Out"

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Episode: "Choke" (Season 3, Episode 18)

Florence + the Machine's upbeat rendition of "Shake It Out" is better, but Glee's version offers pathos, as Mercedes (Amber Riley), Santana, and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) sing to Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones), who is struggling to leave her abusive husband (Eric Bruskotter). (Also, Glee's > Smash's.)

19. "Cry"

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Episode: "Choke" (Season 3, Episode 18)

What is it about Rachel Berry's (Michele) cryface that makes me feel so many things? Fucking up an audition is only the end of the world for Rachel Berry and the way she sings this Kelly Clarkson song makes you feel like the universe is collapsing on itself. "Cry" indeed.

18. "Mine"

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Episode: "The Break-Up" (Season 4, Episode 4)

"Mine" is saddest when you realize that Santana and Brittany aren't going to be able to make it work, Taylor Swift song aside. (Spoiler alert: They eventually get married. But like, it was really rough there for a while — Santana dated Demi Lovato and Brittany almost married Sam.)

17. "I Dreamed a Dream"

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Episode: "Dream On" (Season 1, Episode 19)

This song has been done to death, but that doesn't mean I couldn't watch Idina Menzel and Lea Michele kill it over and over again. It's an odd choice for a moment about the relationship between a birth mother and the daughter she gave up for adoption, but this is Glee, so it ends up working despite itself.

16. "No One Is Alone"

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Episode: "Bash" (Season 5, Episode 15)

This is a tough one. On the one hand, it's way too Auto-Tuned. On the other hand, it's one of the most powerful songs from Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods, and it's sung at a rally for the victim of a hate crime. Turns out, it's possible to criticize a performance through tears.

15. "Cough Syrup"

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Episode: "On My Way" (Season 3, Episode 14)

Glee hasn't always known how to handle Dave Karofsky (Max Adler), and the attempted suicide was honestly a lot. At the same time, Blaine's stirring performance of "Cough Syrup," with scenes of Karofsky getting bullied the way he once tormented Kurt, is powerful stuff.

14. "I Have Nothing"

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Episode: "Dance With Somebody" (Season 3, Episode 17)

So, growing up is really emotional, both for the people growing up and for the parents they leave behind. Kurt's stunning "I Have Nothing," another song by the late, great Whitney Houston, is so good. He's also on the outs with Blaine at this point, which is salt in the wound.

13. "Not While I'm Around"

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Episode: "Bash" (Season 5, Episode 15)

A better Sondheim cover than "No One Is Alone," certainly, and the shots of Kurt recovering from a hate crime in his hospital bed can cause serious distress. (Personal note: This is one of the songs that played during my bar mitzvah montage, so pardon me for getting a little extra verklempt.)

12. "Teenage Dream"

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Episode: "The Break-Up" (Season 4, Episode 4)

The first performance of "Teenage Dream" on Glee was one of the best they ever had. But Blaine's semi-reprise — a heartbreaking breakdown directed at Kurt — is the most emotionally honest the show has ever gotten (outside of "The Quarterback"). And it hurts so, so good.

11. "What I Did for Love"

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Episode: "Audition" (Season 2, Episode 1)

Rachel's "come to Jesus" moment in the Season 2 premiere isn't particularly sad, but this goddamn song. "Look, my eyes are dry," my ass.

10. "Fire and Rain"

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Episode: "The Quarterback" (Season 5, Episode 3)

And now we enter "The Quarterback" section. These songs are, of course, the most upsetting, because the episode addresses the real-life death of Glee star (and Lea Michele's then real-life boyfriend) Cory Monteith. "Fire and Rain" is probably the least distressing, but it'll still start the flood of tears.

9. "If I Were a Boy"

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Episode: "The End of Twerk" (Season 5, Episode 5)

Like Max, Unique (Alex Newell) was another character Glee struggled with, particularly when it came to her sexual and gender identity. This song was a major part of her coming out, and it proved that "If I Were a Boy" was the trans anthem we never knew we needed. (See also: "Reflection" from Mulan.)

8. "Roots Before Branches"

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Episode: "Goodbye" (Season 3, Episode 22)

Putting aside the weird condescension of this scene — it's a dick move to trick your girlfriend into thinking you're getting married when you're actually breaking up with her and putting her on a train for her own good — there is nothing sadder than watching Rachel say good-bye to Finn and the other New Directions. Well, almost nothing.

7. "I Know Where I've Been"

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Episode: "Transitioning" (Season 6, Episode 7)

Another moment that's more triumphant than sad, "I Know Where I've Been" features a pitch-perfect performance by Newell and an actual trans choir — Glee's trans characters have otherwise been played by cis actors. It is a beautiful scene, one of Season 6's most unforgettable.

6. "The Scientist"

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Episode: "The Break-Up" (Season 4, Episode 4)

Season 4 was a mess in a lot of ways, but "The Break-Up" is a great episode about moving on from the high school "love of your life." Nobody said it would be this hard, damn it. (Personal note: I listened to this on repeat the night before I left home for college. No, you're crying.)

5. "Seasons of Love"

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Episode: "The Quarterback" (Season 5, Episode 3)

Sure, it's an obvious song choice. But if you don't bawl when they sing to the giant photo of Finn, you're probably a robot.

4. "I'll Stand By You"

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Episode: "The Quarterback" (Season 5, Episode 3)

Skip ahead to the actual song (1:18), because the music was really the best part of this episode. Of course Riley crushes it. When does she not?

3. "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

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Episode: "Grilled Cheesus" (Season 2, Episode 3)

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" is absolutely not the song for this moment. It shouldn't work. But oh, man. The way Kurt sings it, remembering his father (Mike O'Malley) taking his hand at his mother's funeral, is deeply moving. The song hasn't been this powerful since Julie Taymor turned it into a lesbian ballad in Across the Universe.

2. "If I Die Young"

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Episode: "The Quarterback" (Season 5, Episode 3)

There's a rumor that Santana's breakdown wasn't scripted, and that Rivera was just so overwhelmed with emotions that she bolted from the room. That isn't true (sorry!), but it doesn't matter: Knowing the pain these actors were going through at the time is awful enough. It doesn't get much more upsetting.

1. "Make You Feel My Love"

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Episode: "The Quarterback" (Season 5, Episode 3)

And here it is, the one performance from Glee guaranteed to turn every human being with a heart into a quivering mess, a puddle of hot tears, a wretched shell of their former self. Michele is incredible and powerfully honest as she belts this song in Monteith's honor. The reactions from everyone else in the choir room is too much. Or it would be if I weren't BLINDED BY MY TEARS.

The Glee series finale airs March 20 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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