The seventh and final season of Orange Is the New Black came to Netflix today, and fans are already hurting.
In the six years the show has aired on the streaming service, fans have laughed and cried while watching the touching show about women in prison. The series received some criticisms for portraying prison life as too easygoing, but after the past two seasons, that's no longer an issue. Seasons five and six depicted an epic and frightening prison riot plus the aftermath of angry guards and maximum security.
There are too many heartbreaking moments in the show's six seasons, but the following moments were some of the hardest to watch and brought actual tears to viewers' eyes. People are already crying over the seventh season of the show being the last, but it's not time to put the tissues away just yet — there are plenty more tear-inducing moments to come.
This season six final moment is less heartbreaking as it is bittersweet, so it rounds out the bottom of the list.
Piper (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Laura Prepon) have had a long and storied history, but they always seem to find love with each other again. Now that Piper is heading out of the prison in season seven, the lovebirds decided to make it official, or at least prison-official anyway, and get married.
Alex Vause still has a few years left to serve in Litchfield, but one of the duo's vows is that Piper will wait for her until that day comes. The heartfelt goodbye is sweet and loving but so sad because they're about to be separated.
Corrections Officer Bayley tries to apologize for his incomprehensible crime.
After murdering Poussey at the end of season four, albeit accidentally, Bayley struggles with guilt and regret. In season five, he finds Poussey's father and tries to apologize to him for the terrible mistake, but he doesn't accept the apology and instead tells him to live with the pain of knowing what he's done. This moment was a poignant example of black people being expected to forgive their white oppressors and was important to show that this act was unforgivable.
The bubbly Soso's decline into depression and subsequent suicide attempt.
Brook Soso showed up to Litchfield all too cheery, and it put a target on her back from other inmates. Her talkative nature makes her unpopular with the inmates and she has trouble adapting throughout season two, so in season three she is fully depressed without friends. Soso attempts to talk to counselors about her mental health issues but is dismissed. This leads to a suicide attempt by Benadryl overdose, which is obviously what makes this moment so heartbreaking. However, she was found mid-attempt by fellow inmates, which cause them to go easier on her, and she eventually forges friendships.
Season two faces the wrath of Vee, and Suzanne Warren a.k.a. Crazy Eyes has it the worst.
Vee (Lorraine Toussaint) was one of the most manipulative characters to enter the show, and eventually got what she deserved at the hands of Rosa and the prison van. Suzanne (Uzo Aduba) was blindly devoted to Vee and did anything she asked her to do, even if it wasn't in her own best interest. Vee places sole blame on Suzanne for inflicting violent attacks, and ultimately it gets her in trouble. When Vee dies, Suzanne has a difficult time accepting it because of the emotional abuse she had experienced.
Only three episodes in to season three, Nicky is sent to maximum security for heroine possession.
Fans were unsure if they'd seen the last of Natasha Lyonne's character after she was tragically sent to the maximum security prison. Nicky struggled with a drug addiction for the majority of the series, and when heroine became disposable thanks to Vee in season two, Nicky took advantage of the situation. The inmate ended up getting caught trying to sell the drug and was whisked away not to be seen again until half way through season four.
One of the first tragic deaths that showcased how unethical prison guards could be is Tricia Miller's in season one.
Tricia, played by Madeline Brewer, was a tough girl but liked by many. Like many of the inmates, she struggled with a drug addiction that Correction's Officer Mendez took advantage of. Mendez had a side business delivering drugs to the women and used Miller as his mule. The inmate ended up overdosing on drugs that Mendez blackmailed her into taking, and he set up her death as if it were a suicide to cover his own tracks.
When Jimmy Cavanaugh, one of the prison's Golden Girls, is prematurely released in season two.
Jimmy is one of the oldest inmates at Litchfield, and often needs to be taken care of, which her friends are happy to do. The oldest women in the prison are given privileges because they're seen as less problematic. However, the prison does very little to help with Jimmy's dementia and other mental health problems.
The elderly inmate manages to escape from the prison, just by wandering off, and she injures herself by accidentally jumping off of a stage while thinking she was at the pool. Instead of getting Jimmy proper help, or moving her to a home, they give her early dismissal so as not to deal with her any more. The heart-breaking last time viewers see her she's calling out for her friends in the prison because she doesn't want to leave them.
One of the most endearing couples on the show, Maureen and Suzanne, ends in disaster.
Thanks to manipulation by the prison guards, Suzanne and Maureen get into a physical altercation that lands Maureen (Emily Althaus) in the hospital. It's so sad because of how close the two were to each other. They find each other in the hospital once again and all is forgiven, but it ends in tragedy as Maureen dies from an infection caused by the wounds Suzanne inflicted.
Officer Healy tries to help Lolly with her mental health issues and fails.
Officer Healy had a soft spot for Lolly Whitehill (Lori Petty) because she had similar mental illnesses as his late mother. The inmate murdered one of the Corrections Officers in season four because he was attacking Alex Vause. As Lolly's counselor, Healy didn't want to believe that she was capable of that and convinced her she had made it up in her head. When the truth came out, he had her sent to "Psych," or the psychiatric unit of the maximum security prison. The saddest part of the episode was watching Lolly scream his name as she's being escorted out.
Taystee is hit hardest by Poussey's death, as they were best friends and eventually romantic partners.
Taystee gave an emotional speech to the press following the horrific treatment the women faced inside the prison in season five. The speech touched on the systemic oppression of people of color and people living in poverty, but it was also a tribute to her late best friend.
"Two days ago our friend and fellow inmate, Poussey Washington, was murdered by a prison guard. Poussey Washington. I'm saying her name again, because it can't ever be said enough."
Pennsatucky's rape scene and the aftermath in season five was so hard to watch.
An article by Vulture praised the series for portraying rape in an honest way. The horrific act was dehumanizing and violent, but wasn't sensationalized and kept the focus on her experience and the events that followed. The scene was so heartbreaking because it focused in on Pennsatucky's (Taryn Manning) lifeless gaze; she'd given up.
One of the most heartbreaking lines comes after the traumatic event, as her friend Carrie Black aka Big Boo (Lea DeLaria) offers up a revenge plan, Pennsatucky simply replies, "I’m not angry... I’m just sad."
Finally, Poussey's (Samira Wiley) death in season four sparked the riot that took up the entirety of season five.
Poussey's death was completely avoidable and so wrong. Wiley's character was trying to calm down Suzanne Warren and placate a blooming altercation when suddenly she was targeted by a guard. CO Bayley pinned Poussey to the ground and cut off her air supply with a knee to her back until she suffocated to death. The scene was especially disturbing because of the news surrounding police brutality happening in real-time when the episode was released.
Other than losing one of the most beloved characters way too soon, the scene was heartbreaking because of who committed the murder. While none of the CO's were the inmates' favorite people, CO Bayley was one of the few good ones. By having two characters that were overall seen as the "good guys" experience this atrocity, it symbolized how no one is safe from the systemic violence that is prevalent in prisons.
Her death sparked an outrage that incited a riot that took up the entire season five because it deserved to be looked into with immaculate detail.