Where do we even begin with the most moving moments on TV in 2021?
With emotions running high during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, viewers have often been in need of an escape – while also sometimes needing to watch something that can give them a bit of a cry.
The year opened with one of the best programmes in years, with Russell T Davies releasing his lauded drama It’s A Sin, which was filled with joy and heartbreak in equal measure.
The Friends Reunion pulled at the heartstrings, with the nostalgia-filled special emphasising just how strongly connected the ensemble cast remain all these years later.
Meanwhile, Kate Garraway’s powerful documentary on her husband Derek Draper’s journey with Covid-19 resonated with a multitude people, as the virus continues to impact the globe.
Here are some of the most tear-jerking TV moments of the year.
It’s A Sin’s powerfully moving scenes
It’s A Sin marked one of the first exciting releases of 2021, beautifully telling the story of a group of friends who go from living their lives to the full without a care in the world to being drastically impacted by the Aids crisis in 1980s London.
The series celebrated the joy of their friendship while also mourning the immense loss felt by the LGBT+ community, inspiring many to undergo HIV tests.
Colin’s tale struck a particularly sad chord among audiences, with the most endearing member of the friendship group’s decline in health and death breaking hearts.
The end of Ritchie’s story in the series finale left an emotional mark on viewers, with numerous people dubbing the show one of the best programmes they’d ever watched.
WandaVision’s poignant quote on grieving
Following on from the events of Avengers: Endgame, Marvel series WandaVision on Disney Plus placed the spotlight on the relationship between Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany).
Having witnessed Vision being killed by Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Infinity War, the series depicted Wanda creating a false reality with a new version of the synthezoid, as a means of coping with her grief.
One of the most memorable and poignant lines in the MCU came in a flashback scene shared between the pair, where Vision told Wanda: ‘What is grief, if not love persevering?’
The final episode – where Wanda was forced to say goodbye to Vision yet again – left fans sobbing.
Kate Garraway’s journey with her husband Derek
Ever since Kate Garraway’s husband, Derek Draper, was admitted to hospital in April 2020 after testing positive for Covid-19, the nation has followed his progress in the hopes of his recovery.
Having previously been in an induced coma, Derek returned home in April this year, requiring round the clock care after the virus caused severe organ damage.
Good Morning Britain presenter Kate created a heart-rending documentary about her husband called Finding Derek, which became ITV’s most watched factual programme in years, accumulating an average of 4.5million viewers.
Not only did the film move scores of viewers, but it was also honoured at the National Television Awards, with Kate delivering an emotional speech paying tribute to all the families that have been affected by coronavirus.
Friends stars are there for each other in tearful reunion
Having aired their first episode in 1994 and ended the series in 2004, earlier this year, the cast of Friends were reunited, delighting fans around the world.
Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, David Schwimmer and Matt LeBlanc had viewers in tears as they reminisced on the good and tough times they shared together, with the group revealing new insights into their friendship that fans had no idea about.
Not only did Jennifer and David reveal that they could have had a real-life Rachel and Ross romance when they confessed they had crushes on one another, but at one point, Matthew candidly shared the heartbreaking memories he had from filming.
It was beautiful to see the connection the six of them still share, all these years later.
Rose and Giovanni inspire the nation with silent dance
Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice were favourites on Strictly Come Dancing from the start, powering through all the way to the final to win the Glitterball Trophy.
One of their best moments – which they performed for a second time in the finale – was when midway through one of their routines, the music in the background went silent in celebration of the Deaf community.
It was incredibly moving for viewers to gain just a small insight into what it is like for Rose to dance with Giovanni, as the first Deaf contestant and winner on the show.
The influence she had on the series was inspiring, on top of the fantastic talent she brought to the dancefloor.
Adele has an emotional blast from the past
After a little bit of a break, Adele came back this year in a big way, releasing her acclaimed latest album, 30.
One of the events she took part in to promote the album was An Audience With Adele, an ITV programme that saw stars including Emma Thompson, Stormzy, Emma Watson and Idris Elba dance the night away as they sat in the audience for the concert.
While asking Adele a question, Love Actually star Emma revealed that there was a special guest in the audience – the singer’s English teacher from school who she credited for changing her life.
Adele was in tears as they reunited on stage – as were we.
Jürgen’s heartfelt note after Bake Off exit
When this year’s series of The Great British Bake Off began, Jürgen was one of the clear frontrunners to be crowned the winner.
So, when the baker was eliminated in the semi-final, many viewers were crushed.
In true Jürgen fashion, his exit letter was heartfelt to read, with the IT professional comparing his time in the competition to ‘flying to the moon’.
As can be expected, his sweet words about what it was like to be on the series and his admiration for all those who were a part of it had many fans reaching for the tissues.
Andrew Garfield beautifully describes grief after mother’s death
During an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, tick, tick… BOOM! star Andrew Garfield opened up about how he channeled the grief of losing his mother into the role of Jonathan Larson in the film.
Becoming choked up, the actor eloquently compared his grief to ‘unexpressed love’, having lost his mum from pancreatic cancer in 2019.
‘I love talking about it, by the way, so if I cry it’s only a beautiful thing – this is all the unexpressed love, right?’ he said, in words that resonated with many.
‘I hope this grief stays with me because it’s all the unexpressed love I didn’t get to tell her – and I told her every day, we all told her every day – she was the best of us.’
Tipping Point helps woman with motor neurone disease reconstruct voice
Earlier this year, it was revealed that a woman who was a contestant on game show Tipping Point who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease was able to have her voice reconstructed using footage from her appearance on the show.
Helen Whitelaw, 76, was diagnosed with the condition a year after going on the programme hosted by Ben Shephard, with her speech deteriorating at a rapid rate.
Helen spoke to Ben via video chat on Good Morning Britain about her reconstructed voice, telling the presenter: ‘‘Couldn’t have done it without you.’
Carrie receives flowers from long-lost friend Samantha
When it was revealed that Kim Cattrall would not be reprising her Sex and the City role of Samantha Jones in And Just Like That, many fans were – understandably – sorely disappointed.
Several people watching the reboot series pointed out that it would have been out of character for Samantha not to return to the US to support Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) in the wake of Big’s (Chris Noth) death, as depicted in the new show.
However, viewers were moved by the gesture Samantha made to Carrie for her husband’s funeral, when she sent a beautiful display of flowers that Carrie decided to feature in the ceremony.
Bake Off star Lizzie praised as she celebrates neurodiversity
The latest series of Bake Off featured several standout stars, including Lizzie, who amazed viewers with her imaginative and innovative takes on challenges.
On the episode that she was chosen by the judges to leave the tent, the baker astounded those watching at home with what some described as her best bake so far, which celebrated her neurodiversity and ‘being different’.
She explained that she has SEN (special educational needs) and is dyslexic, dyspraxic (DCD), has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and concentration disorder.
The contestant received an outpouring of praise, with charities dubbing her ‘inspiring’.
John and Johannes deliver unforgettable showdance
In the final, both couples had to perform three routines, one of which was their brand new showdance.
John and Johannes’ showdance was a celebration of their friendship and bond as dance partners, with the final shot of their dance featuring the same-sex partnership walking together under confetti towards a rainbow-coloured heart.
Many found the joyous dance incredibly touching, including judge Motsi Mabuse, who broke down in tears as she said: ‘I am thinking what a great time it is to be part of Strictly, we are changing so many lives with this dance show.’
Queen sits alone as she mourns death of husband Prince Philip
On April 9, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, died at the age of 99.
The funeral ceremony for the late royal had to be scaled down due to the pandemic, meaning that only 30 guests could be in attendance.
As the event aired on TV, people across the country found the sight of the Queen sitting on her own at the funeral a very sad to behold, as she couldn’t sit with anyone as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
Queen Elizabeth II was married to Prince Philip for 73 years.
Michaela Coel dedicates I May Destroy You to sexual assault survivors
I May Destroy You was one of the most prolific shows of 2020, which was created, written, co-directed and executive produced by its star Michaela Coel.
The 12-part drama was based on Michaela’s own experience of sexual assault, with the actor honouring other people who have survived similar situations while accepting her history-making Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Limited or Anthology Series or Movie in September this year.
‘In a world that entices us to browse the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to, in turn, feel the need to be constantly visible – for visibility, these days, seems to somehow equate to success – do not be afraid to disappear,’ she said in her profound acceptance speech.
She added: ‘I dedicate this story to every single survivor of sexual assault.’
Woman with cancer has boiler fixed by This Morning
In November, a standard game of Dosh On Your Doorstep on This Morning resulted in mounds of tears when the show came to the aid of a woman in need.
During the segment, Josie Gibson surprised a woman called Beth at her home in Warwickshire for a chance to win £1,000, discovering that Beth had been diagnosed with a form of leukaemia in April.
Her heating had also broken, so she planned on spending the £1,000 winnings on fixing it, leaving Alison Hammond and Dermot O’Leary looking shocked from the studio.
Beth burst into tears with her children when she found out that This Morning had quickly organised for a plumber to go round to her house to fix her boiler free of charge so that she could enjoy her winnings.
Celebrities strip off for important cause on Full Monty
Strictly The Real Full Monty came back for a new series earlier this month, featuring a new batch of celebrities willing to take their kit off on TV to raise awareness of life-saving cancer checks.
The show was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least, particularly when it came to the last dance, when Laila Morse proudly revealed her scars after suffering from breast cancer in the past.
Viewers highly commended the programme, with one person tweeting: ‘Powerful stuff, Strictly the Real Full Monty. A check is for life, not just for Christmas,’ as another said: ‘Strictly The Real Full Monty had me in tears, what a show.’
‘Sobbing at Strictly The Real Full Monty, so emotional,’ someone else remarked.