Even lighthearted and hilarious TV shows can have heartbreaking episodes that leave you sobbing on the couch. I rounded up the saddest TV episodes, some of which come from the funniest sitcoms! This is your official spoiler warning, however, as I’m going to mention some crucial plot points in many of these shows.
1. “Jurassic Bark” – Futurama
This episode of Futurama belongs at the top of this list, as it will have even the toughest people weeping uncontrollably. It’s about Fry’s dog that he had in his old life and how Fry finds his fossilized remains. It turns out the dog waited outside in the heat, rain, snow, and freezing cold for Fry to come back, but he never did.
2. “My Screw Up” – Scrubs
This episode of Scrubs will positively wreck you. Throughout the episode, Dr. Cox is talking to his brother-in-law, Ben. Toward the end of the episode, it is revealed that Ben recently died, however. Brendan Fraser plays Ben, and the character’s playfulness only makes the revelation sadder.
3. “My Lunch” – Scrubs
Another depressing Scrubs episode, this one follows three patients in the hospital who need organ donations. Jill Tracy, a recurring character who struggles with mental health, returns, and she tragically overdoses. Her organs save the three aforementioned patients, but Dr. Cox and JD feel horrible that they ignored this woman’s cries for help.
4. “Bad News” – How I Met Your Mother
Most of this episode focuses on Lily and Marshall’s fertility problems. However, in the final moments of the episode, Lily tells Marshall that she just spoke to his mother and his father had passed away. His response and Lily’s emotion are powerful and make the scene all too real for viewers.
5. “Last Words” – How I Met Your Mother
Following the “Bad News” episode, the gang heads to Marshall’s father’s funeral. Marshall’s family shares the beautiful last words his father spoke to them and Marshall struggles to accept that the last words his father said to him were not insightful or emotional. The episode does have a happier resolution, howver.
6. “Mother’s Day” – Rugrats
Chuckie was always one of the cutest and most innocent characters on Rugrats, making this episode extra heartbreaking. On Mother’s Day, all the babies give their moms love and presents, and the show reveals that Chuckie’s mother, Melinda, passed away. Chuckie’s desire to have a mom is so painful and clear in this episode.
7. “And Maggie Makes Three” – The Simpsons
Homer Simpson has always annoyed me. He just seems like a disengaged doofus who isn’t a great dad. This episode made me eat my words. Homer explains their house doesn’t have any pictures of Maggie because he hoards them all at work. He stayed at his soul-crushing job when Maggie was born to give her a good life, and the photos remind him why he’s there.
8. “Four Regrettings and a Funeral” – The Simpsons
While this episode of The Simpsons is sad because of the regrets many of the characters express, it’s particularly depressing because it follows the tragic and sudden death of voice actress Marcia Wallace. She voiced Edna Krabappel, Bart’s school teacher, and the episode pays tribute to her.
9. “Mother Simpson” – The Simpsons
As you can see, The Simpsons can be very emotional, but this is the last episode I’ll mention. Homer meets his mother after trying to get out of work, and the episode quickly becomes deeply emotional. One online fan commented, “The shot of him sitting there looking up at the stars still breaks me.”
10. “Everyone’s Waiting” – Six Feet Under
The final episode of Six Feet Under is a tough one. The episode wraps up most of the show’s storylines and gives the characters their endings, which are not necessarily happy. One online fan put it perfectly, saying, “I still haven’t recovered from her seeing Nate jogging in the side mirror as she drove away.”
11. “Goodbye, Michael” – The Office
Michael Scott was an irritating, idiotic fool, but his final episode in The Office is still sad. For many fans, Steve Carell was always the best part of the show, and seeing him get such a happy ending is bittersweet. However, compared to other episodes on this list, it’s very positive.
12. “The Animals” – Orange Is the New Black
I can barely write about this episode without my eyes watering, and by watering, I mean full-on sobbing. Poussey dies in this episode, which ignites a prison riot. Her death scene is unbelievably emotional, and all the actors bring an incredible amount of power to the scene that I’ll never forget.
13. “The Body” – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I was never the biggest fan of Joyce because she was one of the most boring characters on the show. But when she died, it ripped my heart out. Sarah Michelle Gellar is fantastic in her final death scene, screaming out for her like a real daughter would, and it just breaks your heart into smithereens.
14. “Free Churro” – BoJack Horseman
To be fair, almost every episode of BoJack Horseman is painfully depressing, but “Free Churro” is particularly powerful. BoJack gives a eulogy at his mother’s funeral, which is more of a stream of consciousness that keeps you captivated the whole time and leaves you heartbroken. However, there is a little chuckle at the end!
15. “The View From Halfway Down” – BoJack Horseman
Hands down, this is my favorite episode of BoJack Horseman because of how raw and powerful it is. BoJack is dying in a pool and dreams of all the people he’s lost in his life and watches them all disappear into the darkness, beckoning him to give up and follow them. Luckily, he wakes up, but it’s one of the darkest episodes, which is saying a lot for this show.
16. “Whenever You’re Ready” – The Good Place
“Whenever You’re Ready” is the finale of The Good Place, and while it’s not completely depressing, it’s highly emotional. All the main characters, one by one, move on to the next chapter, exiting the afterlife they currently know. When I tell you I was weeping, I mean I could barely see the screen through the tears.
17. “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse” – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is not a super emotional show, but it has some impactful moments, and this is one of the strongest. Will sees his father, who he hasn’t spoken to in 14 years, at a restaurant. In the end, Will learns that Uncle Phil has been more of a dad to him than his real father ever was or will be.
18. “Geothermal Escapism” – Community
Many of the saddest episodes are about death or betrayal, but saying goodbye to a dear friend can be just as emotional. “Geothermal Escapism” is Donald Glover’s final episode of Community, and the group’s difficulty letting him go, particularly Abed, will tug at your heartstrings.
19. “The Quarterback” – Glee
Cory Monteith’s tragic passing due to drug intoxication was a shock to the whole Glee community. They honor his memory as well as the character he played in the show in this heartbreaking episode that doesn’t give viewers any options but to sob along with the other characters.
20. “Killer Within” – The Walking Dead
I was never a big fan of Lori, as she was kind of a terrible person. Nevertheless, her death in The Walking Dead was upsetting. While Carl is emotionless, as always, Rick falls to pieces in an excruciating display of heartbreak that will bring you to tears. I was crying, and I basically hated Lori as a character.
21. “Be Right Back” – Black Mirror
Many of the Black Mirror episodes are emotional for different reasons, but this one takes the cake. A young woman loses her partner when he dies in a sudden car crash. She is devastated and turns to a new technology where a robot that looks like and sounds like her partner can keep her company, but it’s not the same.
22. “Through the Looking Glass” – Lost
I’ll never forgive the Lost writers for letting Charlie die. During the season, Charlie spends most of his time trying to avoid death as he knows it’s coming, but he spends his final moments acting heroically to save the other survivors on the island. He drowns as he tries to tell Desmond not to trust the people on the oncoming boat.
23. “The Candidate” – Lost
Why do the Lost writers hate me? They could’ve written off Kate or John or Jack, but no, they let Sun and Jin drown together in one of the most heartbreaking moments in the show. While seeing them die is tear-jerking, I’m glad they got to be together in the end after spending so much time trying to find one another.
24. “Broad City” – Broad City
While most of the series is happy and ridiculous, the final episode of Broad City is full of emotions as Abbi and Ilana say goodbye to one another. It’s a bittersweet ending to the series but perfectly sums up their enduring friendship and how life goes.