It’s been 15 years since we said goodbye to the gang of Dawson’s Creek, but for many fans, we’ve never really left the small, fictional town of Capeside. Thanks to reruns and streaming, new generations of fans have gotten to experience life with Dawson, Joey, Pacey, Jen, Jack, and Andie, and that means they’ve also experienced the heartbreak.
The cast of Dawson’s Creek, including James Van Der Beek, Katie Holmes, Joshua Jackson, Michelle Williams, Kerr Smith, and Meredith Monroe have now reunited for the latest edition of Entertainment Weekly in celebration of the show’s 20th anniversary, appearing together for the first time in years. Although talks of a reboot have been largely shut down, the series continues to age well, taking on love, family, and friendship during the teen years. And sex. There was a lot of sex.
Of course, another thing Dawson’s Creek did well, in addition to having a great soundtrack, was make us cry. Like, so much. To celebrate the recent reunion of the cast, we’re looking back at the top Dawson’s Creek moments that broke us.
There were very few healthy family relationships on Dawson’s Creek and that included Pacey’s relationship with his father. An alcoholic, Pacey’s father is mostly absent and when he is around he’s demeaning to Pacey. One night when his father is passed out, Pacey takes the opportunity to have the father-son discussion of his dreams with his dad. “Cute? Man, Andie’s beautiful. She’s smart, she’s funny. Tell you, this girl’s really something special, Dad. Whatever reason, she seems to think I’m pretty special, too. So why can’t you see that? What can’t you see me? When did you give up on me, when I was five? Ten, twelve? I’m sixteen years old, Dad! And I’m here and I’m not perfect, Dad, but I try so hard for you! I just… And it’s your job! It is your job to love me, no matter who I am or what I become! Because you’re my father. You’re my dad. You’re supposed to love me, you son of bitch. I can’t do this by myself.” Someone please hug Pacey.
After trying to deal with her mental health on her own, Andie eventually breaks down in Season 2 and is carted off to an institute by her father. While she did need help, what was truly heartbreaking was that part of the help she needed was unwavering love from her father, something she and Jack desperately crave and never quite get.
It’s pretty amazing that Joey and Pacey ever made their way back to one another after the prom episode, but thankfully they did. Rather than have a private conversation about why things weren’t working out, Pacey stood in the middle of the dance floor at Prom and told Joey and the rest of the school that she made him feel like nothing. It was a heartbreaking revelation from Pacey and brutal to watch for Joey.
In Season 5, a stand-alone episode featured Joey being held at gunpoint at an ATM, where she was forced to empty her bank account. When the robber was hit by a car only moments after taking Joey’s money, she stayed with him until an ambulance arrived, spending that time learning how similar the man was to her own father. When the man later dies in the hospital, Joey is by his side and tells his young daughter that her father saved Joey, leaving the little girl with the idolized image of her dad that Joey once had of her own father.
Thankfully, Jack’s father would eventually change his mind and accept his gay son with open arms, but when Jack first attempted to come out to his father, Mr. McPhee refused to believe him, telling Jack he wasn’t gay. This led to Jack giving one of the most heart wrenching speeches in Dawson’s Creek history. “Yes, I am! You know it. I see how you look at me — and I know you know. And as hard as you’ve tried to stamp it out or to ignore it, I’ve tried harder. I’ve tried harder than you, to be quiet, and to forget, and to not bother my family with my problem. But I can’t try anymore because it hurts. I’m sorry, Dad. Andie, I’m sorry. I don’t want to be going through this. But I am.”
Following Jack’s decision to tell his sister and friend he was gay, Pacey and Andie try to shield Jack as much as possible. For Pacey, this means taking on an English teacher who forces Jack to read a poem in front of the class that outs Jack. It was the spit heard round the world and while we love that Pacey stood up for Jack, the entire situation was brutal to watch.
After getting into a fight with his Dad, Dawson took off for Boston and left things on bad terms. That’s why seeing Mitch Leery die in a car accident that same night was even more painful. The most gut-wrenching scene wasn’t even when Mitch died, but when Dawson finally broke down after returning home and picking up milk for his mother at the same store Mitch visited only moments before his death.
Long before Game of Thrones was killing off main characters on a weekly basis, showrunner Kevin Williamson broke our hearts by killing Jen Lindley. In the series finale, fans learned that Jen had a heart condition that would kill her. Leaving her one-year-old daughter to Jack, her friends take turns saying tearful goodbyes to Jen before she eventually dies in the hospital with Gram next to her. It. Was. Brutal.