Even if you have never seen Parenthood, the great and critically acclaimed family drama on NBC, you are probably still aware of how much it makes viewers cry. It’s all we can talk about! Parenthood is basically a master class in emotional manipulation, setting up storylines each week just to knock viewers down into a sobbing spiral. The characters on the show do plenty of crying themselves, which means the actors have to be skilled in the art of spontaneously producing tears. In celebration (and premature mourning) of tonight’s series finale, here are the top ten best crying actors on Parenthood.
10. Sydney Graham (Savannah Paige Rae)
True, Sydney is the worst child on Parenthood by a wide margin, so maybe it’s due to a bit of schadenfreude that I love her so much when she cries. But actress Savannah Paige Rae is definitely talented, so much so that when Sydney cries upon learning of her parents’ divorce, it’s one of the most devastating moments of the series.
9. Julia Braverman (Erika Christensen)
The only problem with Julia Braverman’s constant crying jags is what those crying jags are about. The last two seasons have focused a little too much on the back-and-forth between Julia and Joel’s relationship, which makes her sobfests a little less effective, but there are still periods when Julia breaks down and it’s impossible not to care for her.
8. Kristina Braverman (Monica Potter)
To be fair, Monica Potter is definitely one of the best crying actors on this list — and in Hollywood — but she gets knocked down a bit in the rankings because of the sheer frequency with which she cries. Of course, Kristina has a lot to cry about (the cancer storyline, for one, must have dehydrated Potter) and she commits to it every single time.
7. Crosby Braverman (Dax Shepard)
Who knew Dax Shepard could act? No one, really, but he acts his ass off on Parenthood and even manages to provide some truly emotional moments in Season 1 when he tries to get his act together and become a father overnight.
6. Max Braverman (Max Burkholder)
Max Braverman is one of the most fascinating characters on television due to Parenthood‘s careful and emotional depiction of Asperger’s syndrome. Because of his Asperger’s, Max rarely cries and instead acts out in other ways (generally with anger). But after an especially rough camping trip with his classmates, Max breaks down about being labeled a “freak” and unable to understand his peers’ motives, prompting his mother to climb into the backseat and comfort him as they both cry, and everyone watching cries, too.
5. Drew Holt (Miles Heizer)
Like Max, Drew isn’t a character who cries much, but when he does, Miles Heizer brings it. He goes from zero to 60 in two seconds, from awkward, stuttering Drew to all-out crying machine, especially when he breaks down to his mother about his girlfriend’s abortion.
4. Haddie Braverman (Sarah Ramos)
Although Parenthood may have forgotten Haddie (save for her brief return from college with a girlfriend in tow), we still remember all of the times she basically broke her heart by collapsing into sobs when she was either fighting with Amber or dealing with one of many break-ups. She’s the queen of television teens cry-fighting with their parents.
3. Adam Braverman (Peter Krause)
Brave crier! Handsome crier! Six Feet Under crier! Peter Krause is the quiet, hidden crier of the cast. When Adam cries, it’s usually silent and in the background as he wistfully watches his family. But his biggest moment came in Season 4, when he watched the video Kristina recorded. That single tear!
2. Sarah Braverman (Lauren Graham)
Lauren Graham has been crying all over television for a while now, but no show has utilized her skills better than Parenthood — particularly in the first few seasons, with storylines that revolved around Sarah and her two teen children. She is a perfect mom crier, one who straddles the line between ugly sobbing and pretty breakdowns.
1. Amber Holt (Mae Whitman)
Not only is Amber the absolute best character on Parenthood, but Mae Whitman is the cast’s best crier. She’s prone to crying when she’s upset, scared, happy, confused, or anything really. But no matter the reason, there is always one universal rule: When Amber cries, we all cry.