This is a tough one.
When I came up with this list of emotional moments, one of the first scenes I wrote down was the breakup scene between Finn and Rachel from Season Four of Glee. When that episode first aired, I found myself sobbing almost uncontrollably when the couple I’d been rooting for since the pilot ended their relationship for good. I cried because Lea Michele was so raw, real, and absolutely devastating. I cried because this scene perfectly encapsulated the pain of walking away from your first love. I cried because Cory Monteith gave such a subtly heartbroken and lost performance. And I cried because even though this was a breakup scene, it was filled with so much chemistry and so much love that you could practically feel it through the TV screen.
Now, though, I’ll cry even harder every time I watch this scene because of what it means after Monteith’s death. In this scene, he was Michele’s rock, and that’s who he was in all of his scenes on Glee—a rock for his costars and a relatable presence for the audience. Monteith was Glee’s everyman, and the show will never be the same without him. But what really breaks my heart is thinking about how the people who loved him will never be the same without him. It’s clear watching this scene how connected and in love he and Michele were. Throughout the show’s run, he gave her the strength and confidence to go to emotional depths she never reached opposite any other actor. That kind of support and partnership produced her best moments, such as this scene. My heart aches for her when I think of what she lost.
This scene is about the very real heartbreak of the end of a relationship even when love is still clearly there. With time, it will only get more painful to watch as we remember the real-life love story that ended even more painfully than its fictional counterpart.
R.I.P. Cory Monteith.