By EW Staff
December 05, 2012 at 02:30 PM EST

We don’t really enjoy watching our favorite characters suffer – but great crying scenes are cathartic, moving, and totally captivating. They’re also rare; it’s easy enough to tug at heartstrings with manipulative music cues, but it takes real skill to make an audience empathize with someone whose job is to fake emotions. Get a hanky ready – here are our favorite crying scenes of 2012.

Carrie (Claire Danes), Homeland

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Claire Danes is Hollywood’s best crier. (Just ask the Internet.) Her tears as Carrie Mathison, Homeland’s unstable heroine, are unparalleled – and so ubiquitous that it’s impossible to single out just one crying scene from the Showtime drama’s second season. Trust us on this one; when Danes’s chin starts trembling and it looks like “her whole face is chewing gum,” you’ll want to pay attention.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Rue (Amandla Stenberg), The Hunger Games

Spoiler alert! Rue’s death scene is this blockbuster’s most poignant, heartbreaking moment – and it reaches its apex when a teary Katniss sniffles her way through a lullaby, comforting her fallen friend until Rue stops breathing. We’re getting misty just thinking about it.

Peggy (Elisabeth Moss), Mad Men

Right after Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce won the Jaguar account, Peggy finds Don (Jon Hamm) to tell him she’s leaving the firm. “I’m giving my notice. I’ve accepted another offer,” she says. “Look, it’s been crazy around here, and I know I’ve taken you for granted, and, frankly, I’m impressed,” he replied. “You finally picked the right moment to ask for a raise.” Still, Peggy wouldn’t budge. And Don got angry. But when she goes to leave his office, he grabs her hand and kisses it. That’s when Peggy — and the rest of us — succumbed to tears.

Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), Grey’s Anatomy

We don’t blame Meredith for losing her sh— after crash landing in a plane in the middle of the wilderness. Her sister just died, Mark is about to die, Derek’s hand looks like it went through a meat grinder, Arizona’s leg is caught under the plane and Mer and Cristina have no idea if they will get out of there alive. So we’ll cut the dark and twisty one some slack this time.

Bane (Tom Hardy), The Dark Knight Rises

The final showdown between Batman (Christian Bale) and Bane becomes the (Spoiler Alert) final showdown between Batman and Talia Al Ghul — the daughter of Rha’s Al Ghul was pulling the strings the whole time. And as she weaved her tale of Bane’s heroic efforts to save her from the very literal pit of despair she grew up in, a single tear runs down his cheek. “His only crime was that he loved me,” she said.

Written by Hillary Busis and Denise Warner

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