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13 heartbreaking The Handmaid's Tale moments, ranked 

We're never not sobbing at this show! 

handmaids tale june 7
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
September 1, 2021
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The Handmaid's Tale season four has just finished airing in the UK, and we have taken a look back at some of the most heartbreaking moments of the dystopian series so far. Check out our top picks, and have tissues at the ready... 

MORE: The Handmaid’s Tale star points out major plot hole in season four finale

Spoiler alert for seasons one to four!

June's memorial at the Boston Globe 

As June hides in an old office building, she realises that she is in an old newspaper headquarters, and soon discovers that the staff were massacred during the coup that turned the US into Gilead. Although she is initially horrified, she tries to mark the terrible tragedy by making a memorial in the building. 

handmaids tale 1

Season two, episode three, Baggage

Emily is reunited with her son 

In a bittersweet moment of the show, Emily is finally reunited with the son she was parted from years before. The little boy is delighted to see her, but they are now strangers to one another, and her heartache at having missed so much is palpable, particularly when she becomes overwhelmed while reading a story about dinosaurs to him.

emily son

Season three, episode four, God Bless the Child

Nick tries to save Eden 

Nick is married to teenage bride Eden against his will, and treats her disdainfully as she attempts to make him a good wife. However, when she falls in love with one of the Waterford guards and is put on trial for infidelity (the sentence being death), he desperately tries to convince her to do whatever it takes to save her own life, promising her that he'll be a better husband. It is a desperately sad moment, as the religious Eden doesn't want to renounce her love for the guard - and the pair apologise and forgive one another before she is killed.

nick thm

Season two episode 12, Postpartum

June speaks to Luke on the phone 

When the Waterfords want to say goodbye to baby Nicole in Canada, they arrange for June to call Luke, who now has custody of the child, in order to meet them at the airport. As such, the long-awaited sort-of reunion between husband and wife is done over the phone with June surrounded by watchers - but it doesn't make it any less heartbreaking as Luke sobs his apologies for leaving her and Hannah, while June struggles to keep it together to speak to him. 

WATCH: June speaks to Luke on the phone, season three episode five, Unknown Caller

Serena shows June where Hannah is 

In order to make sure that June keeps her unborn baby safe (that she plans to take as her own), Serena drives June to a nearby house, disappears into it for a moment and reappears... with June's daughter. June is locked in the car, and can only scream for the child she was separated from while being unable to go to her. It was a horribly cruel moment and confirmed our loathing of Serena. 

MORE: The Handmaid's Tale: why season five is going to be delayed

MORE: The Handmaid's Tale: the one huge difference between the show and books

june sees hannah

Season one episode ten, Night

Emily is a victim of FGM 

After Emily is spared the death sentence after having a same-sex relationship with a Martha, who is killed for the crime, she instead undergoes surgery and wakes up to discover that she has been subjected to FGM (female genital mutilation). The moment where Emily realises what has happened to her and screams makes this one of the most horrifying parts of the series. 

emily hospital

Season one episode three, Late

Luke looks for Hannah on the plane 

After June manages to arrange for dozens of children in Gilead to be taken safely to Canada, Luke is there at the airport to help out whoever arrived. When he realises that it is all children, he desperately begins looking for Hannah. His silent heartbreak when he realises she isn't there was devastating to watch. 

luke june 6

Season three, episode 13, Mayday

Emily makes it to Canada with Nicole 

The moment where Emily manages to make it to Canada will always leave us with a tear in our eye! As she and baby Nicole almost die while making it across a river at night, she is terrified when a man in uniform approaches her, thinking that she has been recaptured. However, he confirms that she has made it to Canada, and her sobs of relief had us sobbing too! 

handmaids emily

Season three episode one, Night

Serena says goodbye to baby Nicole 

Although Serena has done plenty of terrible things in the show, her ambiguity as a character makes her decision to do the right thing - and let June take baby Nicole to safety in Canada - was heart-wrenching. As a viewer, we know how much Serena has done in her desperation to have a child, and so we know we are watching her commit a truly selfless act in letting her go.

MORE: The Handmaid's Tale producer hints at show ending after season five

nicole serena

Season two episode 13, The Word

The train scene

Do we even need to explain what happens here? In a desperate bid for freedom in season four - and to avoid being taken to a breeding colony, June, Janine, Alma and Brianna escape the van and make a run for it over the train tracks and away from Aunt Lydia. We think that they are also about to make it... when the train hits Alma and Brianna. 

elisabeth janice

June's reunion with Luke 

After over three seasons of patiently waiting, June is finally reunited with her beloved husband, Luke. The moment is seriously bittersweet, as June feels like she has let Luke down for escaping from Gilead without their daughter, Hannah, and her sobs and apologies as he holds her are just heartbreaking. 

luke june reunite

June is assaulted by the Waterfords 

The Waterfords become increasingly desperate for June to give birth, and so in one of the most shocking moments of the series, they hold her down and assault her in the hopes of encouraging the baby to come. It is a senseless moment of violence from Fred and Serena, and harrowing to watch. 

june pregnant

Season two episode ten, The Last Ceremony

The Handmaids think they are about to die 

After disobeying Aunt Lydia by refusing to stone Janine to death, the Handmaids are rounded up and taken to a mass hanging site in an old stadium. In their final moments, with Kate Bush's Woman's Work hauntingly playing, June has a quiet moment to herself where she accepts her death. However, the entire thing was a plot by Aunt Lydia to ensure they would keep in line from thereon. 

handmaids hanging

Season two episode one, June

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