There are certain moments in popular culture that feel so right, where something happens in stories that feels so good and so appropriate in the story, that you can't help but be moved by it. Usually when seeing a character taking a Woobie under his/her wings.
They could include a character helping another when it was especially needed, or when a villain finally has a real change of heart in response to the earnest efforts of the hero.
That is where the Heartwarming Moments come in, when the writers actually pull off a glowing scene that makes the whole audience say, against their better judgment, "Aw."
This trope can have massive overlap with Squee, when the moment is aimed at fulfilling the (mostly sexually or romantically oriented) wishes of the fanbase. And what may be heartwarming for one may be more of a case of Tastes Like Diabetes for another, since opinions may vary vastly on a highly subjective trope like this one. A failed attempt at creating a heartwarming moment can result in Narm if the producers muck it up. To create a genuinely heartwarming moment is a lot harder than it seems without plunging into sentimentality.
- Tears, if any, are primarily tears of joy &/or emotional relief, not sadness. Some examples include tears shed at weddings, when babies are born, when parents come home from wars, when your kids graduate, when lost kids at the mall find their parents, when the world has gone to hell and someone holds you and tells you it will be okay, etc.
- It has got to fit the story's narrative and tone. It can't come out of the blue as something tacked on.
- It has to be original; clichéd nice things happening would induce more "yawn" than "awww".
- It has to feel sincere, like the writer and/or director wanted it there to make a real point for the story, not just for a coldblooded audience appeal.
- It must not involve setting literal hearts on fire or heart burn.
Several Tropes (if done right, that is) are common methods of achieving this:
- Babies Ever After.
- Big Damn Heroes
- Earn Your Happy Ending
- Everybody Lives
- Hold Me
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy
- Now Let Me Carry You
- Selfless Wish
- So Proud of You
- Take My Hand
- Tears of Joy
- When She Smiles
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are
- You Are Not Alone
Compare Heartwarming in Hindsight.
- Anime and Manga
- Comic Books
- Fan Fiction
- Live Action TV
- Newspaper Comics
- Professional Wrestling
- Tabletop Games
- TV Tropes
- Web Comics
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- Real Life