Emotional Speeches and Tear-Jerking Tributes: All the Emmys Moments That Made Us Cry

The 2016 Emmy Awards were a night to break out the tissues

Photo: Vince Bucci/Invision/AP

We tune into awards shows for one reason and one reason only: to get our cry on.

The 2016 Emmy awards more than came through for the catharsis-loving television fans of the world on Sunday, providing a number of heartfelt moments that reduced us to blubbering puddles of emotion.

Below, a handful of the most sniffle-inducing quotes of the evening.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ tribute to her father
It started out as a hilarious riff about the increasingly fading line between political comedy and reality, but by the end of Louis-Dreyfus’ speech we were all wiping away our tears.

While accepting her fifth consecutive lead actress statuette, the Veep star shared that her father William had died just two days before the ceremony.

“I’d like to dedicate this to my father, William Louis-Dreyfus, who passed away on Friday. And I’m so glad that he liked Veep because his opinion was the one that really mattered,” she said.

Jeffrey Tambor’s message on transgender acceptance
No one was surprised when Tambor won his second consecutive award for Transparent, but his poignant appeal to the entertainment industry defied all expectations – and required some tissues to get through.

“Listen to me, I’m not gonna say this beautifully, but to you people out there you producers and network owners and you agents and you creative sparks, please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story,” the actor said.

Adding, “I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male to play a female gender on television. We have work to do.”

Watch PEOPLE & EW Red Carpet Live Sunday night on PEOPLE.com and on People/Entertainment Weekly Network – available on streaming devices or at people.com/PEN.

Kate McKinnon’s reaction to winning
Yes, the comedy category really brought the tears on Sunday night.

McKinnon had our eyes welling from the moment presenter Kristen Bell called her name. It was the Saturday Night Live star’s first-ever Emmy win and her excitement was undeniable.

“I’m really crying, I’m not making it up,” she began.

McKinnon ended her speech with a sweet message for her late father, saying, “Thank you to my beautiful and hilarious mother and sister, and to my father, who is not with us anymore, but he made me start watching SNL when I was twelve, so thank you, and I miss you, Pop.”

The Garry Shandling tribute
Jeffrey Tambor led a tribute to the legendary TV star and comedian, who died of a heart attack in March.

“It seems appropriate that tonight we celebrate comedy, we remember a legendary, standup, fantastic Emmys host – a great, real late-night host, a great fake late-night host, a great fake late-night host who David Duchovny was sexually attracted to,” he joked. “He was happy with his poor vision because he said he could date anybody.”

After Tambor’s remarks, some of the icon’s best moments, from The Larry Sanders Show to It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, were played on the screen.

Check out PEOPLE’s full 2016 Emmy Awards coverage and complete winners list!

Sarah Paulson’s apology to Marcia Clark
Paulson won her first Emmy for portraying the real-life prosecutor Marcia Clark in The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.

During her acceptance speech, the actress talked about her experience getting to know Clark, who she also brought as her date for the evening.

“Now the responsibility of playing a real person is an enormous one, you want to get it right – not for you, but for them,” she said.

“The more I learned about the real Marcia Clark, not the two-dimensional cardboard cutout I saw on the news, but the complicated whip smart, giant-hearted mother of two, who woke up everyday, put both feet on the floor and dedicated herself to righting an unconscionable wrong – the loss of two innocents, Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown – the more I had to recognize that I, along with the rest of the world, had been superficial and careless in my judgment. I am glad to be able to stand here today and tell you ‘I’m sorry.'”

Sterling K. Brown’s name revelation

Onstage to accept the award for outstanding supporting actor in a limited series or movie for his role in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Brown shared a short anecdote about his name that surely warmed even the coldest hearts in the Emmy audience.

“Mama, I can hear you, I love you. Sterling Brown Jr., I changed what people called me at age 16 so I could hear your name every day of my life. I love you, daddy,” he said through tears.

The In Memoriam montage
Introduced by Henry Winkler, who shared words about the late Garry Marshall, the in memoriam tribute was as beautiful and moving as ever.

The montage recognized entertainment industry figures who died over the last year, including Jackie Collins, Anton Yelchin, Ken Howard, Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Gene Wilder and Prince.

As memorable moments from the departeds’ careers played on screen, singer Tori Kelly delivered a stirring rendition of “Hallelujah.”

Related Articles