10 Times Sitcoms Got Real And We Weren't Ready For The Feels

10 Times Sitcoms Got Real And We Weren't Ready For The Feels
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Those sitcom moments slapped us with a dose of reality and that was not what we signed up for.

1. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – "Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse" (1994)

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Years past, but it's impossible to forget that heart-wrenching episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? In "Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse", Will's estranged father, Lou (played by Ben Vereen), shows up after a 14-year absence. Over the course of the episode, Will (Will Smith) is so excited about going on a road trip with his dad, it's kinda hard to watch, knowing how it's going to just crash and burn later.

As is Lou's habit, he flakes out, leaving Uncle Phil (James Avery) to pick up the pieces. Will's subsequent breakdown, questioning why his father doesn't want him, was a devastating moment – like, seriously, try not to tear up during that particular scene. What's more striking is that Smith's emotional performance wasn't entirely scripted. The tears were real, as Smith drew upon his complex relationship with his own father for this pivotal scene.

2. M*A*S*H – "Abyssinia, Henry" (1975)

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M*A*S*H, set during the Korean War, often balanced humor with the harsh realities of war quite masterfully. The third season's finale, "Abyssinia, Henry", offered one of the most poignant moments in sitcom history. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson), having received his discharge papers, bids a farewell to his comrades. As viewers, we were lulled into a false sense of happiness, only for it to be shattered in the episode's closing moments.

Radar O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff) enters the operating room to announce that Henry's plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan… with no survivors. The crushing silence that followed is an unforgettable moment in television history: nobody, and I mean, nobody was ready for that heartbreaking twist. It remains a brave choice for a sitcom, breaking away from the traditional comedic mold to mirror the tragic unpredictability of war.

3. The Office – "Goodbye, Michael" (2011)

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In Season 7, Episode 22 ofThe Office, we had to brace ourselves and bid farewell to the World's Best Boss, Michael Scott (Steve Carell). With a IMDb rating of 9.8/10, "Goodbye, Michael'' effectively blends the show's signature comedy with deep sentimentality. Michael's interactions with his employees throughout the day range from hilariously awkward to profoundly heartfelt.

However, it's his silent goodbye with Pam (Jenna Fischer) at the airport, mouthing a tearful "that's what she said, that truly hits home, and if you didn't tear up during that scene, well... I got nothing to say to you. After seven seasons, Michael's departure left us all a little misty-eyed. Behind the scenes, the tears were just as real: Carell's farewell episode was shot with minimal number of takes.

4. Scrubs – "My Screw Up" (2004)

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Scrubs, known for its zany humor and surreal fantasy sequences, had an uncanny ability to deliver a gut punch of reality, and the episode "My Screw Up" is a prime example of it. As the narrative unfolds, Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) believes he's attending his son's birthday party, but eventually we find out that he's actually at the funeral of his best friend, Ben (Brendan Fraser).

The tonal shift from humor to solemnity is heartbreaking, and grief and denial are just palpable. Interestingly, the episode creators dropped subtle hints of the twist throughout, like Ben not appearing in any photos since his diagnosis. The reveal, coupled with McGinley's quietly heartbreaking performance, marked this episode as one of the most poignant in the series.

5. Friends – "The One with the Morning After" (1997)

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Even amidst the laughter and camaraderie of Friends, we found moments that hit just a bit too close to home. In "The One with the Morning After", Ross (David Schwimmer) and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) confront the aftermath of Ross's infidelity. Their heated argument is intercut with the other friends eavesdropping, trapped in Monica's room, creating a tension that builds throughout the episode.

The resulting scene, where Ross pleads with Rachel not to leave him, is achingly raw. Interestingly, this episode sparked off the infamous "We were on a break" catchphrase, which became a recurring joke throughout the series, further highlighting the sitcom's ability to balance humor with heavier emotional moments.

6. How I Met Your Mother – "Bad News" (2011)

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In the How I Met Your Mother episode "Bad News”, Jason Segel (Marshall) unknowingly provided one of the series' most genuine reactions. Throughout the episode, eagle-eyed viewers noticed numbers counting down from "50" in the background, leading to "1" – and the climactic moment when Lily (Alyson Hannigan) stepped out of a taxi.

Lily reveals to Marshall that his father has passed away. Not many HIMYM fans know this, but in reality Segel wasn't privy to the script's details, thus his response, "I'm not ready for this" was entirely spontaneous; as a result, this pivotal scene became even more heart-wrenching.

7. Roseanne – "Crime and Punishment" (1993)

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The Roseanne episode "Crime and Punishment" brought a grave issue to the forefront. When the usually vivacious Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) arrives at Roseanne's (Roseanne Barr) house with a bruise on her back, the sisters discuss domestic abuse.

Jackie's admission that her boyfriend, Fisher (Matt Roth), is the culprit, leaves Roseanne and Dan (John Goodman) grappling with the news. The episode is a departure from the usual banter and wisecracks, effectively addressing one of the most serious societal issue within the sitcom format.

8. Bojack Horseman – "Free Churro" (2018)

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Bojack Horseman isn't your conventional sitcom, and "Free Churro" isn't your typical episode. The entire episode centers around Bojack (voiced by Will Arnett) delivering a eulogy at his mother's funeral. There are no cutaways, no interactions with other characters, just Bojack and his reflection on their complicated relationship.

Not the easiest episode to watch, even for the most cynical of Bojack Horseman fans. For an animated series about anthropomorphic animals, this episode dives into the nuances of parent-child dynamics and personal regret in an uncommonly candid way.

9. The Simpsons – "Mother Simpson" (1995)

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In "Mother Simpson", we delve into Homer's (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) past. We learn that his mother, Mona (voiced by Glenn Close), was forced to abandon him when he was a child due to her involvement with a group of radical hippies. This episode provides a rare glimpse into Homer's vulnerable side. Mona is ultimately forced to flee again to avoid arrest, leaving Homer alone under the stars, and also, well, leaving us all heartbroken.

10. Cheers – "Thanksgiving Orphans" (1986)

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In the Cheers episode "Thanksgiving Orphans", we see the Cheers family gather at Carla's (Rhea Perlman) for a non-traditional Thanksgiving. The evening doesn't go as planned, leading to an all-out food fight, with everyone drenched in leftovers. Amidst the mayhem, Norm's (George Wendt) camera timer finally goes off, capturing an image of the makeshift family in their disarray.

Behind the laughter and food flinging, the episode subtly underscores the importance of found family, especially for those without a place to go during the holidays. My advice? Just don't watch this episode if you're spending the holidays alone. Don't do that to yourself.