Parenthood Series Finale: Watch the Show’s 10 Biggest Tearjerkers

Erika Christensen and Sam Jaeger in Parenthood
Erika Christensen and Sam Jaeger reunite as Julia and Joel in Parenthood. Byron Cohen/NBC

May your wishes all come true this Thursday, Jan. 29, when Parenthood airs its final episode. After six seasons of fans cleaning out their tissue boxes and bonding over the Bravermans, the beloved NBC drama is coming to a close. 

The series finale promises a beautiful outdoor wedding for Sarah (Lauren Graham), a likely death (we’re guessing for Zeek, but there are plenty of theories), and all kinds of tears. But we would be remiss to ignore the years of blubbering this show has caused. 

So take a look back at Parenthood’s 10 biggest tearjerkers:

1. Max’s field trip

No one’s had a bigger journey than Max Braverman (Max Burkholder), who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in Parenthood’s pilot. But despite how far he’s come, Adam (Peter Krause) and Kristina’s (Monica Potter) son still struggled with his differences. In season 5, Max’s parents picked him up early from an overnight field trip only to discover that another student peed in his canteen and called him a “weirdo freak.” Unable to make her child’s life better, Kristina climbed into the backseat and held him close instead. 

2. Kristina’s message 

When the prospect of losing her battle to cancer loomed in season 4, Kristina recorded a video message to her children, which her husband Adam watched in the hospital. In it, she spoke to each of her kids, concluding, “I may not always be with you the way that I want to be, but I will never leave your side. I’ll always be with you. And I’m so lucky I got to be your mom.” Why, Kristina, WHY?

3. Zeek sets Amber straight

Amber (Mae Whitman) was on a bad path in season 2 after she didn’t get accepted to college. She started drinking and abusing pills, culminating in a nearly fatal car accident with a friend. When she came to in the hospital, Amber still didn’t seem interested in turning her life around. It took a trip to see the destroyed car with her grandfather Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) to change her mind. While there, the beloved family patriarch reveals that during his time fighting in the war, he dreamt of returning home and starting a family. “You do not have my permission to mess with my dreams,” he sternly told his weeping granddaughter. 

4. Hank’s realization

Late into his 40s, Hank (Ray Romano) met Max and started reading up on Asperger’s so they can work together. But as he’s reading, the photographer started realizing that he shares some of the traits commonly associated with the syndrome. “I’m reading this book for Max,” he explained to his ex Sarah. “I’m reading it for the kid, and then all of the sudden I’m not reading about the kid anymore. I’m reading about me.” The look of shock and sorrow in her eyes was enough to bring on the waterworks, and when her date walked in, that made it even worse. 

5. Julia and Joel’s divorce

Look guys, we know things are okay now, but in early season 6 the fate of Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) was really up in the air, and we could not cope. Their struggles with Victor’s adoption, their separation, other partners, and their decision to divorce all culminated in the moment they had to sign the papers. Standing in the elevator at the lawyer’s office, with so much unsaid between them, Julia reached for Joel’s hand, holding it tight. Defeated, Joel visited Zeek to say goodbye and to thank him for being a father figure in his life. Zeek’s insistence that Joel fight for his wife was enough to destroy us entirely. Julia and Joel forever!

6. Crosby and Jasmine’s wedding

After three seasons of Crosby’s (Dax Shepard) immature antics, he finally found the woman of his dreams in Jasmine (Joy Bryant), and they shared a beautiful backyard wedding in the season 3 finale. Soundtracked by a stunning gospel rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love,” the couple said their vows, shared some laughs, and made us all weep tears of joy. Plus, any opportunity for Jabbar (Tyree Brown) to wear a bow tie is good in our book. 

7. Kristina’s chemo shirt

As she prepared to enter chemo in season 4, Kristina kept waiting for her mom to visit and help her out. When she didn’t, Kristina rejected the idea of her mother-in-law Camille (Bonnie Bedelia) taking her mom’s place. Camille brought Kristina a warm flannel shirt from a friend who also went through chemo. It was worn by seven women who went through the same thing to keep them warm during the treatments. “I know I’m not your mom,” Camille said to Kristina. “I would never try to replace her, but I love you Krissy. I’m here for you. I would do anything for you.” 

8. Victor’s adoption

Not all tearjerkers have to be sad! After a season of debate, Joel and Julia made the joint decision to adopt Victor (Xolo Mariduena) in season 4. When it comes time to make the adoption official, the entire Braverman clan comes into the judge’s office, happily promising Victor to take care of him and love him. It’s a sweet moment in which Victor and Joel wore matching ties and Victor called Julia “Mom” for the first time. Again, it’s another opportunity for Jabbar to wear a bow tie. 

9. Alex says goodbye

When Alex (Michael B. Jordan) broke up with Haddie (Sarah Ramos) in season 3, he didn’t realize that the hardest part would be saying goodbye to Kristina. As a kid with a troubled childhood, the Bravermans became more to him than just his girlfriend’s parents. He started to cry thanking her, and by the time he hugged her tight and said goodbye forever, we’ve lost it too.  

10. Amber names her baby

Okay, so this is a recent one, but in last week’s penultimate episode, Amber finally gave birth to her baby boy. Apart from her mom, Sarah, the first people to meet the little one are his great-grandparents Zeek and Camille. Handing her little boy over to her grandfather, who has been battling a failing heart condition the entire season, Amber informed him that her son is named Zeek. Goodbye, emotions, we have surrendered them to Parenthood.

Tell Us: What were your favorite Parenthood moments?

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