The only episode that Chris Farley hosted, which aired less than two months before he died of a drug overdose (it was the 23rd seasonnote 1997-1998 and the musical guest for that episode was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones). Watching it again, it's hard not to notice how pale, clammy, and out of breath he is, not to mention his voice sounding really hoarse (which actually had more to do with him blowing it out during rehearsal, and not from drug abuse as initially speculated). In fact, Chris Rock was brought in as a back-up host in case anything happened to Farley (also Chevy Chase, even though Chase had been banned from ever hosting SNL again due to his Jerkass attitude).
In the early seasons, they did a Schiller's Reel entitled "Don't Look Back in Anger", in which John Belushi played a much older version of himself as the last surviving member of the original cast. A few years later, he was the first cast member to die.
In late 2011, Maya Rudolph made a surprise appearance to reprise her impression of Whitney Houston which, as usual, made light of Houston as a drug-addled nut. Just two months later (and a week before Rudolph was to host the show herself), Houston died of an overdose.
The iCarly special "iPsycho" shows a depressed Gibby saying that he has nothing better to do than to watch Diff'rent Strokes reruns. This episode aired the same week Gary Coleman passed away. Considering the "Awww" that came from the canned laughter, it may be possible that they added it at the last minute to pay tribute to him.
The climax of "iRue the Day" involves Nevel having his home raided by a SWAT team while he hacks into the iCarly signal, the whole thing being webcast live. In 2014, "swatting" prank resulted in armed officers arresting gamer Jordan Mathewson during a livestream.
History Channel's Underwater Universe has been preceded by a sympathy message and filmed-prior-to-3/11/11 disclaimer ever since the quake. This is particularly relevant for the episode featuring a previous tsunami in Samoa.
The seaQuest DSV episode "The Regulator" contains the following dialogue relating to a character who faked his death in 2003:
Crocker: Not dead either.
Bridger: Might as well be. A genius whose every effort failed. And then he fakes a suicide to escape the ridicule of his peers.
Lucas: I can sympathize with that.
Pretty depressing considering Jonathan Brandis (who played Lucas) committed suicide in 2003.
Perhaps the most eerie example was the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen, in which The Government nearly succeeds in crashing an airliner into the World Trade Center and thereby creating a new era of conflict. It aired in March 2001. Yikes.
The BBC children's drama Grange Hill had a nasty and quite personal example of this back in 2000. The character of Judi Jeffreys was (long story short) locked in a storage room that was on fire. She tried to escape by climbing out of the window onto a nearby fire escape, and ended up falling head first to her death. The actress who played her, Laura Sadler, met her own sad and untimely demise in the exact same way about 3 years later. (That is, she fell head first out of a building to her death; but while drunk and drugged up with vodka and cocaine, not while trying to escape a fire).
In the fourth season of Angel, Fred and Gunn are discussing whether or not it's good to feel. Fred says she'd rather feel the pain, she'd "take that over being a shell any day." In the fifth season, she dies and her body is used by the demon Illyria, who repeatedly refers to Fred as a shell.
In Scrubs, Dr Cox reacted badly to the birth of Jack, feeling ignored and like he couldn't love him. He's critical of Jordan for paying too much attention to the baby. Harmless, until we find out three years later that Jordan had post-partum depression.
The ending of the Mork & Mindy episode "Mork MeetsRobin Williams", where Mork gives his report to Orson about the downside of fame, which ends with a listing of celebrities who became victims of their own fame (mostly from drug overdoses). About a year later, Robin's friend, John Belushi, would die of a drug overdose. It's also tough looking at that knowing that Robin himself had a pretty nasty cocaine habit at the time. He's said that John's death was one of the reasons he quit. Then, William's own suicide enters the picture...
Choudenshi Bioman was the first Super Sentai installment to feature a female Yellow Ranger (the original Yellow Four). However, the actress playing her (Yuki Yajima) had to leave the series, so her character was killed off early in the series in what was also one of the few instances in the franchise where a core member of the team was killed off. While only one hero in Power Rangers was killed off within the actual show, Thuy Trang (the actress who played the first Power Rangers Yellow Ranger in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers) ended up dying in a car accident in real life. And that's before we make it a yellow trio by mentioning the real life typecasting-induced suicide of Baku Hatakeyama, the actor who played the first Sentai Yellow Ranger in Himitsu Sentai Goranger.
And when Hatakeyama took a break from the show, his character was replaced with a Suspiciously Similar Substitute, who was also killed off so Hatakeyama's character could return.
Power Rangers has now suffered another real life Ranger death. Peta Rutter, who played Udonna, the White Ranger in Power Rangers Mystic Force. While Udonna was still alive at the end of the season, ironically, her Mahou Sentai Magiranger counterpart was killed off at the start of the series. Also, while Mystic Force was in production, Machiko Soga (Rita Repulsa from MMPR) died, so footage of her from Magiranger as another character, which would normally have been skipped over, was used in tribute in the finale, and said to be a reformed Rita.
The actions of the character of Daigo in Gosei Sentai Dairanger have also taken on new meaning after the death of his actor Tatsuya Nomi.
The page picture as of November 9th, 2011 comes from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. It is a vision of a Bad Future, of what would happen if the Zyurangers failed to fully unite as a team. It was distressing enough back then, but after the earthquake in March 2011 that devastated Tokyo it's even worse.
Power Rangers Samurai featured Ricardo Medina Jr. as the villain Deker; a swordsman with a lust for battle after a curse was placed on him. This is much harder to watch after Medina has been charged with killing his roommate and pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter. This also extends to Power Rangers Wild Force, which featured Medina as Red Ranger Cole, and the Rangers on that team used swords as their main weapons.
On a related note, the character of Mentor Ji often being depicted as being hard on the Samurai Rangers has taken on new meaning after his actor Rene Naufahu was charged with indecent assault and sentenced to house arrest.
The Granada Sherlock Holmes episode "The Dying Detective" takes on a whole new significance when you know that Jeremy Brett, who played Holmes, died the year after it was filmed. (Also of note: The A&E Biography of Sherlock Holmes - featuring Jeremy Brett's costar David Burke - aired the same day Jeremy Brett died.)
For Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the speech to Cordelia about wanting to live in the world for a moment, in spite of her duty, at the time? Sad. Given everything Cordelia goes through over the course of Angel for her duty? Oh dear God. * sobs*
An in-universe example, the ending of the episode "Lie To Me". Depressing and sad when aired, but the characters hadn't suffered great tragedy or major deaths yet. By the time the show is over that ending is second only to "The Body" in tear factor.
The season 3 episode "Earshot" — whose plot involved a school sniper — was originally withheld from airing in the U.S. because of the Columbine shootings in April 1999. The season finale, "Graduation Day, Part 2" was also postponed the following month for similar reasons. Both episodes eventually aired later that summer, "Graduation Day, Part 2" in July and "Earshot" in September.
In the seventh season of The Big Bang Theory, the gang were asking each other if they had dated other people while dating each other. When Leonard asked Penny, she denied it, then didn't bother asking him the same. When pressed, she scoffed "Really?" This moment becomes darker when in the eighth season finale, Leonard tells Penny that he actually cheated on her while on a work trip just moments before their wedding.
Early in 24's third season, Jack is occasionally seen wrapping a belt around his arm in preparation for shooting up heroin. This becomes even more horrifying in the season finale, when he's wrapping it around Chase's arm in order to cut his hand off.
In the same season, after Tony learns that Michelle is trapped inside a hotel whose inhabitants are infected with the Cordilla Virus, Ryan Chappelle tells him that the best way to focus is to assume the worst and think about getting revenge. In season 7, Tony's desire for revenge for Michelle's death at the start of the fifth season leads him to attempt to curry favor with the main antagonists so that he can meet up with and kill the man responsible, even if thousands of innocent civilians die in the process.
And that in turn winds up becoming all the more harsher for the final season when Jack goes down nearly the exact same path to avenge Renee, even justifying starting a world war in order to kill the ones behind her death, at the parallels between Jack's mindset between seasons 7 and 8 now make things all the more worse. At the very beginning of season 7 when Renee compares Tony and Jack's situations with their wives' murders, Jack responds he would never go that far. And Jack yelling at Tony that he's betraying everything Michelle believed in is all the more worse when Chloe tells Jack the same thing regarding Renee exactly 24 episodes later.
The diffusion of the first episode of Fringe, which contains a plane accident, in France coincided with the Rio-Paris plane crash... The episode was broadcast one week later instead.
What nearly happens to Sir Keith in that episode is eerily prescient of what happened to Karen Silkwood a few years later.
The episode "Forest of the Dead" ends with River Song making a Heroic Sacrifice. At the time, it's pretty sad, but we don't really feel much connection to her since she'd only just been introduced. But as the show continues, we find out more about her and her relationship with the Doctor, and that first episode becomes simply heartbreaking to watch...especially once you realize the Doctor himself should have mourned her death far more than he did, it was just unlucky chance that he didn't know her when she died.
And remember, the Doctor KNOWS River's fate. He knows the date and destiny of the daughter of Amy and Rory Pond. As uplifting a note as the episode "A Good Man Goes To War" ends on, remembering that the Doctor already knows when it is that she dies, and that she dies for him, can be quite the Fridge Horror moment - the daughter of the companions that he has come to look at as his family died for him before he knew who she was or even met her parents.And it was probably intentional.
The Seventh Doctor, distraught over the apparent death of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, in "Battlefield", tells him "You should have died in bed!" Fast forward to "The Wedding of River Song"...
The conclusion of "The War Games" where the Doctor is forced to "change his appearance" before going into exile is now seen as being forced to use one of his 12 regenerations. Ergo, the modern viewer would see this as the Doctor being executed after a fashion by shortening his lifespan.
It's even worse. Remember what the Tenth Doctor was saying about regeneration? The man he was dies and a new person walks off. He was executed.
In "The Pandorica Opens", the Eleventh Doctor makes a big, grandiose speech to all the alien spaceships, telling them that if they want the Pandorica, they have to get through him, and reminding them of all the times he beat them. It turns out that the aliens weren't after the Pandorica at all, and it was instead a trap set by them to imprison The Doctor. Bet that speech doesn't seem so grand now.
It is obviously unimaginably horrible to have your child stolen from you. This is made even worse when we find out in "Asylum of the Daleks" that Rory ALWAYS wanted children and Amy is infertile as a result of what happened on Demon's Run. Made even more heartbreaking when you realize that Amy had a very noticeable BSOD in "A Good Man Goes to War" but Rory never outwardly reacted, opting to stay strong for his wife even though he must have been completely crushed.
"Day of the Moon", in which Amy Pond shoots the little girl in the astronaut suit to save the future Doctor's life becomes almost painful to watch when you realize that said little girl was actually Melody/River Song, the baby daughter stolen from her later in the season.
The crossover sketch the original show did with Jim'll Fix It, "A Fix with Sontarans". Did the Sixth Doctor and Tegan give Whoniverse Gareth the meson gun to protect him from Jimmy Savile or to protect Savile — and the timeline — from them? Six had been shown to kill...
A DVD extra recorded in 2006 on "The Sontaran Experiment" briefly covers that sketch — after a clip of the Oh, Crap! from the Doctor and Tegan, Colin Baker notes, "Jimmy Savile is much more frightening than the Sontarans. Much more." This is only made worse after the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal.
Considering how Savile's vileness was an open secret at the BBC, it's quite possible Colin was referring to it, too.
One of the reveals in Series 8's "Time Heist", and the Doctor and Clara's discussion about it, is a LOT more poignant after the three-part Series 9 finale. As the enslaved Teller killed to protect its imprisoned mate, so too does the Doctor resort to desperate, in his case almost universe-destroying measures (including shooting the General and forcing a regeneration) to save Clara Oswald from the grave. And he too experiences brutal treatment at the whims of a villain on the way to temporarily abandoning his principles.
Several BBC shows hosted by Jimmy Savile have him copping feels whenever he gets the chance live on air. At the time no one thought anything of it and it just looked like he was being playful. Then it turned out he'd molested over 400 children, reportedly.
The Sarah Jane Adventures story "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith" is about Sarah Jane struggling with senility brought on by a terminal illness. In fact, the illness was fabricated by Sarah Jane's replacement, and once she's defeated, Sarah Jane instantly recovers. And to think Elisabeth Sladen must have known she was ill when she filmed them. The episode was also the last one to air while Lis Sladen was still alive.
Even worse, in the fourth episode of the fifth series, which was aired after her death, Sarah Jane says "It feels like someone has died."
At the end of season two of Dexter, Dexter has trapped James Doakes in a cage inside a remote cabin in the Everglades after he found out Dexter was a serial killer. Trying to convince his captor to turn himself in, Doakes describes Dexter's urge to kill as being "like a cancer - and in case you haven't noticed, it's spreading". Michael C. Hall contracted Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2010, before recovering later that year.
The Touched by an Angel story "Netherlands", which aired in May of 2001. The plot has heroine Monica witnessing a building being destroyed by a bomb. Many are killed, and though she's an angel she has a crisis of faith that culminates in her being tempted to forsake God by Satan himself. (CBS pulled a scheduled repeat in the wake of 9/11.)
Its longevity has made Law & Order and its numerous versions teem with examples of this:
In a season 16 episode of Law & Order, after a hit list is discovered with Jack's name on it, Alexandra Borgia advises him to hand the case off to someone else because it might save his life. Five months later she's tortured and killed because of a case she's working on. What's more, Arthur Branch tells Jack she would have fought him tooth and nail if he'd tried to take her off the case.
Another example would be an early episode called "Second Opinion", where the victim was killed by a quack remedy for her cancer, and Lt. Van Buren and Detective Briscoe are discussing the woman's condition. Briscoe's actor, Jerry Orbach, died of cancer, and a final season story arc involved Van Buren receiving a scare about possible cancer.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit : Life Imitates Art, although at least one version might have been deliberate: An episode about a pedophile coach aired a few weeks before the Penn State scandal broke and an episode about a couple faking a kidnapping to cover up the accidental death of their baby may have caused a real-life woman to try and do the same thing maybe she missed the end where they couple was caught. Fortunately the next episode (about a pair of killers who kill their classmate and almost succeed in pinning it on a feeble-minded neighbor) hasn't happened... as far as we know...
Another episode about gamers guest starred Tobuscus, and as pointed out on H 3 H 3 Productions, the episode-of course-depicts gamers in a negative light, implying that they're sexual predators. Tobuscus was later accused by his ex-girlfriend of raping and abusing her, making his appearance in this episode a very disturbing coincidence.
In-universe example for Law & Order: UK: An episode in which the detectives are investigating the shooting death of an officer has DS Matt Devlin musing to partner Ronnie Brooks that it must be tough to lose a partner, then immediately cringing as he remembers that Ronnie has lost a partner to violence. Another episode that also involved the shooting death of an officer had Ronnie stating, "God forbid Matty here got himself shot, I'd be out there straightaway trying to find who did it and string him up myself"
Approximately a year later, Matt was killed in a drive-by shooting. The irony becomes even crueler when you recall that it was always MATT who would flip out if/when Ronnie was in danger.
And a more typical one: Matt was killed by someone seeking revenge against the police for bungling the investigation into his brother's murder—something he had nothing to do with. The recent murders of two NYPD officers by a man who wanted to avenge the death of Eric Garner (a man suffocated by the cops as they attempted to restrain and arrest him for selling loose cigarettes. The officer who applied the fatal chokehold was not indicted) bears an eerie similarity, right down to the fact that the officers in question had nothing to do with the aforementioned incident and that their killer was intentionally targeting the police.
Parodied in The Whitest Kids U' Know when a hunter is making a tasteless joke about hunting accidents at the expense of a friend — the friend died in a hunting accident just the other day. He insists that this makes it exceptionally funny, while the other members of the hunting party are more reluctant to laugh.
There were a lot of moments on the TV show Titus in which Titus's dad doubted that his son and Erin would be together forever, which Titus tried to prove wrong time and again. In reality, Christoper Titus and his wife Erin Carden (the inspiration for the character's girlfriend) divorced three years after the show was canceled (and, in the comedy special Love Is Evol, Titus revealed that Erin [renamed "Kate" for legal reasons] tried to ruin his life to the point that Titus wanted to kill himself and denounce his faith in God — until he found love with a woman who wasn't a psycho-bitch and had a normal, loving family, something that Titus initially found odd as he's never been around mentally stable women or loving, functional families).
In a 2007 episode of Kitchen Nightmares, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay told New Jersey restaurateur Joseph Cerniglia that his business was "about to swim down the Hudson." In 2010 Cerniglia's body was found — in the Hudson — in an apparent suicide.
In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Assignment: Earth", Spock mentions that one of the events that occurred during the Enterprise's visit to Earth in 1968 was an assassination. The episode was first aired on March 29, 1968. Six days later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered. Robert F. Kennedy was killed that year as well.
The episodes involving Romulus have gained a little bit of a bittersweet overtone since their airing. "The Defector" had a disgraced and banished Romulan Admiral who'd defected to stop an all-out Romulan/Federation war (actually part of a ploy by Romulus to start said war, albeit the Admiral didn't know that), leaving behind a suicide note to be delivered to his child; the ending played up the hopes that, one day, relations would eventually be good enough between the two sides that the Federation could deliver it personally. The two-parter "Unification" ends on a hopeful note that the young of Romulus will eventually replace their warmongering elders and embrace their relationship with Vulcan on far more friendly terms. Neither will happen; the Romulus of this universe was canonically vaporized by a supernova in Star Trek, giving Nero the impetus to go back in time and screw around with the alternate universe of the Abrams films.
The second season episode "Pen Pals" has Wesley Crusher confiding to Commander Riker that he's scared of making a mistake where someone dies. Wesley ends up making a stupid mistake that kills a Starfleet classmate in the fifth season episode "The First Duty".
Also in season 2, in "Up The Long Ladder", Riker gets offered the opportunity to be cloned. But he refuses, giving an impassioned speech about how cloning him diminishes him in ways he can't even imagine. In the sixth season episode "Second Chances", he finds out that he's had an identical duplicate, created by a Teleporter Accident, for years!
In "Symbiosis", Merritt Buttrick plays a man suffering from a worldwide plague. Less than a year later, he died of AIDS. What makes things even harsher is the (probably unintentional) Reality Subtext, as the entire reason why Buttrick took the role was because he needed money for his AIDS medication.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the 2-part episode "Past Tense", Sisko and Bashir find themselves in the year 2024, to which Bashir remarks "21st century history isn't one of my strong points. Too depressing." Given the political and socioeconomic strife that has gone on, including the War on Terror and the 2008 recession, it's become more uncomfortable.
The Colbert Report: Stephen Colbert's astronaut training clips are a bit less funny since the wife of the shuttle pilot who helped him was targeted for assassination — she was shot in the head but survived; unfortunately the mentally unstable shooter killed six other people, including a federal judge and a little girl who was born on 9/11 who had just been elected class president.
The Hill Street Blues season one episode "Life, Death, Eternity, Etc." features the sudden death of a secondary character due to ill health, causing Sgt. Phil Esterhaus (perhaps the most beloved character in the series, played by Michael Conrad) to ponder the transient nature of life. Michael Conrad would die three years later at the age of 57 due to cancer, with Sgt. Esterhaus dying in a special episode timed to correspond with the actor's death.
The episode "Blood Brothers" features Patrick Swayze as Pvt. Sturgis, a wounded soldier diagnosed with leukemia (which in the 1950s had a much higher mortality rate than it does now). Almost thirty years after the episode aired, Swayze himself died of cancer (it was pancreatic cancer, not leukemia).
The same episode had this trope intentionally written-in. When Swayze's character learns he has leukemia, and Hawkeye urges him to go to Tokyo to begin experimental treatments, Swayze's character cynically predicts "they'll have a cure in twenty years!" The episode aired in the early 80s, more then twenty years after the Korean War ended, and no, there's no cure.
(In-universe) Watching the episode 'Ceasefire' is a whole lot harder after knowing the outcome of 'Abyssinia, Henry', especially the exchange between Henry and Radar about meeting up after the war ends is heartbreaking.
Following a nasty contract dispute, Susan St. James was McLeaned from McMillan & Wife by having her character and infant son killed in an airplane crash. Nearly 30 years later, St. James' son was killed, and her husband (Dick Ebersol — the same one who was hired to fix Saturday Night Live after Jean Doumanian wrecked it in the early 1980s) and another son critically injured, in a plane crash.
Pretty much anything that focused on Captain Phil Harris in Season 6, to deliberate effect. 'Catch' fans knew that Phil's death was going to be documented and thought the four months between his death and the showing would help steel themselves, but it still made it all the more unnerving when it happened on TV. One particular moment: In the episode "Valhalla", which documented the fleet's reactions to the death of Phil, Sig Hansen goes to meet Cornelia Marie relief captain Derek Ray in Saint Paul. While talking with Sig, Derek commented he could only take up so much of Phil's space in the wheelhouse so the only thing he removed was the ashtray. Sig joked that Phil would find that funny. Problem was, none of the fleet knew that Phil had passed yet, so Derek broke the news. It was awkward from that point on.
Similarly, season three's final moment (as part of the Northwestern crew meeting with their families at the docks at the end of the season) is a shot of Jake Anderson hugging his father, who was waiting for him along with the families of the rest of the crew. Several seasons later, Jake's dad was murdered under mysterious circumstance (the murder remains unsolved) and worse, his body was not found for over 18 months, leaving Jake tormented with the lack of closure.
The Jake Anderson/Phil Harris tragedies were made harsher when you consider that they happened at the same time. Worse, was Jake having to repress his anger and jealousy towards Josh and Jake Harris, over the fact that they at least had closure regarding their father's death. At the time of filming, Anderson's father's body had not been found (and ultimately was found inbetween seasons 7 and 8)
This year's After The Catch is/was in New Orleans, where that area's fishermen are experiencing some very bad times due to the Gulf Coast oil spill. This is addressed a few episodes later when the captains see the effects of the spill up close; having lived through the Exxon Valdez oil spill themselves the Gulf spill is especially disturbing. It's also noted that all the fishing-related activities they did have since been shut down indefinitely.
In the home video of a crew not associated with the show, one man jokingly said that his friends ought to be on Deadliest Catch. The video aired as part of a special episode after the ship sank with either one or no survivors.
Burn Notice: S1, Episode 9, "Wanted Man". The Libyan spy that Michael is cultivating comments, "The security forces of my country are not known for being gentle." This has been dramatically proven; as of the day of this edit, the 2011 Libyan Uprising riots are being suppressed—with gunship strafing.
Menat Work has this: In an earlier episode, Neal had a chance to be with a woman who had feelings for him, while he felt that he was in a rut with Amy. However, he chose to stick it out with Amy. The HIH comes in when, two years later, she rejects his marriage proposal and dumps him to try new things.
It gets worse when one thinks of the signs that are there: he commits to role-playing while she doesn't have to; she buys a storage room for their stuff, but only his stuff is there, etc.
The Route 66 episode "I'm Here to Kill a King" has Tod and Linc encountering a would-be political assassin who looks just like Tod. The episode was originally scheduled to air on the night of November 29, 1963; after the real-life assassination of President John F. Kennedy exactly one week earlier, CBS pulled the episode from its schedule, and it was not seen until the series went into syndication several years later.
The X-Files episode "Beyond the Sea" opens with Captain William Scully, Scully's father, dying of a massive coronary off screen. Fourteen years later Don S. Davis who played him would die of the exact same thing.
In "Duane Barry", Mulder tries to intimidate a skeptical detective by asking if she'd like to know what aliens do to a woman's ovaries after abduction. This is incredibly harsh given what happens to Scully not one episode later and the ensuing physical trauma.
In-Universe Example: In "Requiem" there are two notable scenes, one in which Mulder longingly watches Scully play with a witness's baby and the next scene, where he tells her the quest isn't worth it. These scenes are emotional enough, but become even more heartbreaking after watching season 8 and learning that at the time "Requiem" was set, Mulder and Scully had gone through a round of IVF—which failed, and Mulder was secretly dying of brain cancer and did not expect to live long.
Speaking of Don S. Davis: in the Stargate SG-1 episode "2010", it was mentioned that General Hammond (Don S. Davis' character) had died of a massive heart attack in 2004. This was four years before Davis's fatal heart attack.
Also, In the Season 7 two-parter finale (the end of the first part, more specifically), when introduced to Hammond's temporary replacement, Weaver, Bra'tac asks if Hammond of Texas (his term of respect for the General) had fallen in battle. It becomes a lot more harsh when watching it after Davis' death.
The Golden Girls featured an episode in which the girls, in the end, made a pact to always take care of each other, even if it meant going to the same nursing homes. At which point, Rose, played by Betty White, asks the question "What happens when there's only one of us left?" Fast forward to 2012, where White is now the only member of the cast who's still alive (making that line from her SNL monologue, about how she uses a Ouija board instead of Facebook to contact old friends, really sad in an episode that's otherwise considered one of the funniest in recent memory). To rub salt in on the wound, Estelle Getty, who played Sophia, the oldest character on the show, nonchalantly replies that she'll be able to take care of herself at that point. Getty would die first of the four, despite being younger than co-stars Betty White and Bea Arthur.
On The Nanny, there was one episode where Fran and Maxwell are being hounded by the paparazzi, who invent a phony story about Maxwell and Fran. Later on, they go to the tabloid's office to confront the editor, and he glibly announces his plans to go back to hounding Princess Diana. Given the fact that just a few years later Diana died—while trying to escape from the paparazzi no less—this scene is certainly much more awkward now.
The last episode, released in 1988, had a Logo Joke where throughout the credits, Mimsie, the cat from the MTM logo, was seen on a hospital bed as the beeps of a life monitor played in the background. When the credits ended, Mimsie flatlined. Mimsie died for real that exact same year.
While the rapist is terrorizing the hospital, Dr. Fiscus offers to escort some of the female nurses to their cars, and is turned down because the women don't know if he's the rapist or not. He tells Dr. Morrison offhand that he feels bad because they don't know what the women are going through. Until a couple seasons later, when Morrison is himself raped.
There was an episode of Jack & Bobby where teenaged Jack gets a track injury that sidelines him for the season. At first, one is inclined to believe that this will only lead to some usual teenage Wangst and nothing more...until the documentary from the future reveals that the injury became a long-term weakness. It gave Jack recurring pains in his knee that eventually resulted in his not being fast enough to escape an armed robbery after being elected a Congressman in the future, resulting in his death.
Tori Spelling's short-lived sitcom So NoTorious was a self-parodying look at her life as a struggling actress and daughter of Hollywood royalty. It featured caricatured versions of her parents: her mother as a glamorous yet passive-aggressive nutjob, and her father as...basically the speakerbox from Charlie's Angels. A year later, Aaron Spelling dies, and Candy Spelling basically disinherits Tori. Maybe she hit a nerve there...
The Daily Show: In one episode, Jon Stewart was commenting on the rising unemployment rates, the increasing deficit, and lack of solid political leadership with a very simple "We're doomed!" The day that episode aired? September 10th, 2001.
There's a running storyline through the show that Monica is The Unfavorite. The main reason for this is because the Gellers believed they couldn't have children, so Ross was a huge (and happy) surprise to them. Monica coming along later wasn't such a special event and the situation was made worse by Ross winning lots of scientific awards in school whereas Monica wanted to be a chef which isn't so overtly prestigious. The storyline was always played for bitter-sweet humor, but in the later years of the show, when Chandler and Monica try to have children, they learn they're both infertile. The storyline was triggered by Monica's actress having problems in real life and the writers deciding to address it in the show. With hindsight, knowing the pain Chandler and Monica go through later in the show, the subject of infertility being in the Geller family is even harsher than it was before, an all infertility jokes (including Chandler joking that he's incapable of having children in the final episode of season 3) are much less funny when rewatched.
In an episode of season two, there's a plot deciding that Chandler is Hollywood Pudgy. This isn't particularly funny to begin with, as he had no idea he'd gained any weight and the plot consists of Monica treating him badly because she needs a project and ending with him making her depression over life worse. But with Perry's weight issues from his drug addiction, ranging from looking like a sunken in skeleton with skin in season three to bloated in season six, it gets even more uncomfortable.
More of a heartbreaker than "harsh", but still: The Series 1 finale of Downton Abbey has Mrs. Hughes warn Tom, following a warm moment with Sybil, "Be careful, my lad, or you'll end up with no job and a broken heart." Come 3x05, that's exactly what has happened, with his wife dead and his job in Ireland forever out of reach.
Could be this or Hilarious in Hindsight depending on your point of view, but the comment from Mrs Miggins in Blackadder regarding a French aristocrat being served a horse's willy instead of a sausage takes on a different meaning after the UK "horsemeat in beef products" scandal.
Padre Coraje: In a situation that ocurred during a rerun of this soap opera in the Argentinian channel Volver, the episode rerun on March 5, 2013 was about people thinking that dictator Manuel Costa had "died", and got divided in two halves: those who openly celebrated his death, and those who tried to give him the respect Due to the Dead. A funeral was hosted at the church... and Manuel Costa, who was Not Quite Dead, interrupted it shouting "Don't celebrate yet!". On the same day, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez died. Obviously unintentional, but really eerie nonetheless.
During The West Wing season 5 finale Leo suffers a major heart attack. 2 years later John Spencer died from a massive heart attack.
Made even harsher by the fact that in the one of the last episodes Spencer appears Josh asks Leo to take a bigger role in the presidential campaign to which Leo responds "You're all trying to kill me." And then within weeks Spencer was dead.
Also, in the two-part season 2 premiere "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen," which is about an assassination attempt, the National Security Advisor notes that they don't know the whereabouts of several international terrorists, including Osama bin Laden. This aired in September of 2000, when Bin Laden was known for implementing several acts of terror, but not as universally known as he would be just one year later.
On Storage Wars there episode of Darrell baiting Mark Balelo into buying a multi-vault causing him to lose money and to go ballistic. Normally, it would be funny but Mark had committed suicide before that episode aired.
Conan did an extended gag about the English nurse who was fooled by an Australian DJ pretending to be the Queen in December 2012. The episode was repeated on Australian television in March 2013, three months after the nurse committed suicide.
Seeing footage of Crowded House drummer Paul Hester on shows such as Rockwiz and his own Hessie's Shed can be painful given that his goofy public persona masked depression that eventually led to suicide.
There was also an episode where a bunch of terrorists rammed a helicopter full of explosives into the Statue of Liberty.
The Sopranos. During Christopher's drug intervention, he counters Tony's criticism of his addiction by decrying Tony's weight and says that he's gonna die of a heart attack by the time he's 50. James Gandolfini died of just that on 19 June 2013, at the age of 51.
Hollyoaks character Amy Barnes had the same name as actress Amy Leigh Barnes, who actually appeared in a minor role in the show, and her domestic violence storyline chillingly echoed the reality of the actress' tragic death.
The Glee Season 3 Boxset has a small extra called 'Saying Goodbye'; it was originally supposed to be a 'goodbye' for the characters who graduated high school, but takes on a new meaning due to Cory Monteith's death from a drug overdose on July 13, 2013.
There is also a scene in the 3rd season where his character Finn is devastated to find out his father was an addict who died of a drug overdose, which is similarly made very difficult to watch since Cory died under similar circumstances.
The first words ever filmed for Glee was the question to Finn when Will blackmails him into joining the glee club: "Want to tell me how long you've had a drug problem?" As if that's not bad enough, that would have been the scene that Cory auditioned with.
In the Babylon 5 episode "And the Sky Full of Stars", Sinclair is tortured and driven mad during an interrogation attempt, including seeing and hearing things that aren't real. At the end of the season, he ends up leaving the station. In 2013, series creator J. Michael Straczynski revealed that Sinclair's actor Michael O'Hare, left the series because he was suffering from severe mental illness (namely schizophrenia). It's hard to watch "Sky Full of Stars" without thinking that it probably contributed to his illness, and in any case had to have been harrowing to film.
Jerry Doyle, who played Michael Garibaldi, got into several severe arguments with O'Hare, mistaking his outbreaks of schizophrenia for unprofessional behavior and prima-donna antics. Their relationship deteriorated to the point that when O'Hare returned to guest star in season three, Doyle refused to be on set with O'Hare and Doyle frequently spoke derogatorily in interviews about "the whackjob". In hindsight, these make Doyle come off as even more of an ass.
In the episode "Walking through Gethsemane", brother Edward comments that he doesn't gamble, as he doesn't consider small sins to be worthwhile. Later in the same episode, it is revealed that brother Edward is a Serial Killer who has been sentenced to "death of personality", essentially to have his mind completely wiped and reconstructed from scratch.
Al Gough's suicide in the FlashForward (2009) episode "The Gift" is incredibly eerie to watch when you consider that his actor Lee Thompson Young did the same on August 19, 2013.
On NCIS, Gibb's reaction to finding out the Man Behind the Man was the father in "See No Evil" may just possibly be the most massive in-universe FridgeTearjerker in history. After seeing another man ready to throw away what he himself would do anything to get back, nobody can fault him for having a crack in his armor.
In a similar vein, Gibbs was asked in "UnSEALed" if he knew what it was like to spend every free moment dreaming of being home with his wife and kids, then come home and find that it was all gone. Gibbs replied that that didn't justify murder. Becomes this when you remember that his wife and daughter were murdered while he was in Iraq during Desert Storm. It's even worse considering that he killed the man responsible.
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries: the episode "Arson & Old Lace"...where an arsonist torches a tall skyscraper, not only trapping Joe Hardy and a small child in an office room, but also trapping Frank Hardy and Nancy Drew in the penthouse, with an unworking elevator & the access stair to the roof welded shut. After helping panicked office workers find the stairs through heavy smoke and flames, Joe shields a child from an explosion with his own body (the explosion blows out a window and a good part of the outer wall), then convinces the child to jump with him out of the window — as the fire has cut off all escape routes. Post-9/11 and the WTC tragedy, this episode is now hard to watch: people on the upper floors of the WTC were not only trapped by the raging fires below them, but couldn't use the access stairs to the roof, as it'd been sealed shut. Many of those jumped to their deaths in an effort to escape the fire. The episode had only been meant as a cheesy ripoff to The Towering Inferno, but still...
Mr. Belvedere: In the episode "Commentary", George loses his sportscaster position for criticizing the National Anthem being played at every sporting event. This controversial debate became relevant again in 2016 when Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem in the NFL, claiming that the anthem has a forgotten racist past.
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Home is Where the Heart Attack Is" has Uncle Phil suffering a heart attack from overindulging on fatty foods. This becomes sadder after James Avery died in December 2013 of complications from open-heart surgery.
Season 7 of CSI had an episode, "Fannysmacking," where Greg was caught by a group of youths, some black, who made a hobby out of casually assaulting tourists. Cornered, Greg kills one of them in self-defense, and is traumatized. It then becomes a running plot for the rest of the season that Greg is put on trial for the killing, with the victim's mother refusing to recognize what her son did and trying to paint Greg as a heartless killer. Following the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident, the whole arc takes on... implications.
In a Season 1 episode, a bombing suspect mentions how he likes to keep souvenirs - putting a souvenir from a bomb at his workplace, up along the likes of souvenirs from Waco and the WTC. While the latter was obviously in reference to the 1993 bombing, the episode itself aired a mere seven months before the infamous 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.
On How I Met Your Mother, one of the final season's episodes was devoted to showing what Tracy (the titular Mother) has been doing all this time, which partly revolves around the tragic death of her fiancé. The episode ends with her mournfully playing a ukulele and tearfully singing "La Vie En Rose" over a montage of all of the regular cast looking lost and bereft. It was already a heartbreaking sequence, but was made ten times worse in the series finale, when it was revealed that Tracy herself is dead and Ted has been telling his children this story as part of mourning her loss.
7th Heaven had the season 4 episode "Talk to Me" where Reverend Eric Camden (played by Stephen Collins) counsels a young girl who was molested. 14 years after the episode was aired, TMZ leaked an audio recording of Collins admitting to now ex-wife Faye Grant that he had molested several underage children decades before. The fallout from the scandal probably destroyed the reputation of the entire series as well, as Eric was portrayed as a caring father and pastor who sought to bring his family together in times of stress. Having an actor who was the opposite of that personality is truly shocking.
Pretty much any scene in which he looks at or touches or thinks about an underage girl is now this trope, especially since he admitted it was true.
At the beginning of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s second season, a brain-damaged Agent Fitz (who is Scottish) is left unable to properly function without his best friend Simmons (who is English). The episode aired shortly after Scotland voted against independence from England.
One early Blue Heelers episode has Dash open a suspicious parcel to find a pig's head, public reaction to a police shooting, and Nick freaks and tears into her because it could have been a bomb. Channel Seven actually reaired the episode on the day the station bombing storyline also ran, which Nick was investigating.
In the Growing Pains 4th season episode "Feet of Clay" Ben meets his favorite rock star Jonathan Keith (a young Brad Pitt) and is disillusioned when he discovers him cheating on his wife. Ben then questions what other celebrities might be unfaithful ...like Bill Cosby. His father reassures him that Cosby would do no such thing, but Ben might have been onto something.
The episode where Commander Mick Brumby returns to Australia, the cast begin singing "Waltzing Matilda" to him as he departs. Not only would that clip be replayed for a memorial segment after Goddard's death, but considering that the song ends with the jolly swagman's suicide, it takes on a new light after actor Trevor Goddard's suicide.
In "People v. SecNav" the United States bombed a hospital that terrorists were firing attacks from. In October of 2015, the real armed forces attacked a hospital.
In a Season 2 episode of Desperate Housewives, Lynette eats a lot of raw bacon on a bet and then asks Tom to get her a bucket, indicating that she is about to be sick. This is nuch harsher if you are aware of Felicity Huffman's struggles with bulimia and realize that she had probably experienced overeating and subsequent vomiting many, many times in her personal life and was probably not thrilled to be reminded of those moments.
In early episodes of The Price Is Right, it was common for female contestants who got their Contestant's Row bid exactly right to retrieve their cash bonus directly from Bob Barker's pocket. Then he was accused of taking liberties with some of the models on the show...
A key plot point of the episode "Seven the Hard Way" Boy Meets World was a Bad Future where the main characters' relationships were wither strained or outright destroyed. While things worked out for Cory and Topanga, the Sequel Series, Girl Meets World, shows that despite what Eric tried to do, Shawn and Angela still didn't work out and Shawn is a traveling writer who's alone.
When dealing with the Bill Cosby rape allegations on The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore asked "I just have to ask: Why don't we believe these women?" A recent deposition by Cosby had him admit to getting date-rape drugs just for that propose.
The line "They let us out of work early because there was a shooting," from an episode of Inside Amy Schumer becomes a lot darker knowing about the shooting at a showing of Schumer's movie Trainwreck where two people were killed and nine others were injured.
All the scenes with Mike Ehrmantraut and his granddaughter became rather harder to watch after the prequel spinoff Better Call Saul revealed exactly why he's so devoted to her. For one thing, her mother isn't his daughter, but rather, daughter-in-law through his late son Matty.
The second season features Jane Margolis's father, an air traffic controller, suffering from depression, showing up to work obviously unfit, and he causes a mid-air collision with numerous fatalities. In 2015, the clinically depressed pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 deliberately crashed his plane into the side of a mountain in France, killing 150 people, - although the Breaking Bad incident was an accident caused by a depressed air traffic controller, whereas the latter was intentionally done by a pilot.
In Season 1, Joan is helping Peggy move to her new office as a result of her promotion, Joan makes some comments about how people who get what they want won't be happy, basically shaming Peggy for her non-domestic ambitions and for supposedly not caring about her looks the way Joan does. Joan even condescendingly says "I said 'Congratulations' didn't I?" Flash forward towards the end of Season 2: Joan is engaged (and was raped) by her fiancee while a perky Peggy gets a new office where she doesn't have to share with the Xerox machine, Peggy sincerely states she's happy they both got what they wanted while Joan represses any urge to tell Peggy how her relationship sucks.
Season 1 had Betty commenting to Don that she never wanted to become "old and ugly", flash-forward 10 years later and at age 38, Beautiful Betty is informed she has lung cancer and less than a year to live.
Season 6 has shown Betty thinking she has a tumor and dreaming about her death, later meeting an old friend dying from a terminal disease. Then in 7B, she is revealed to have 6 months to a year left in her life after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
Don's drinking is even more uncomfortable when you know that Jon Hamm went to rehab for alcoholism before Season 7B aired.
Gotham aired an episode in which the Riddler plants a bomb in a train station just 12 hours before the Brussels airport and metro bombings of March 22, 2016.
Red Dwarf: The series VII episode begins with Ace Rimmer jumping out of an aeroplane, skyboarding on a crocodile, wiping out a base full of Nazis and rescuing a princess. During the process, he gets shot, and shrugs it off with the phrase "This is my best top, damnit!" to general laughter at the parody of James Bond machismo. Then, over the course of the episode, it becomes a lot less funny as it is revealed that, in order; the real Ace Rimmer died off-screen and has been dead for some time, the current Ace Rimmer is a hard-light hologram, and the bullet he caught damaged a critical component, meaning the holographic Ace is also dying.
The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Gettysburg", a Confederate fanboy is slated to assassinate the first black President of the United States at a 2013 memorial to forever bury the legacy of hateful racism, and is only stopped by a time traveler intervening in an attempt to change his ways. In 2015, a Confederate fanboy stormed a church in Charleston, South Carolina to murder black people during the second administration of the first black President.
The first episode of the short-lived ABC sitcom Thea had a reference by the oldest son in which he fantasized about rescuing Whitney Houston from drowning becomes quite uncomfortably considering how Houston died.
The season 1 episode "Into the Ring" has Wilson Fisk attempt to have Karen Page killed by having a corrupt guard hang her in her cell in a way that looks like a suicide. A few months later, in July 2015, when a Texas woman named Sandra Bland committed suicide in custody, there were allegations of foul play.
In "Condemned", a corrupt ESU sniper on Wilson Fisk's orders guns down a couple of cops, including Detective Blake, who'd become a liability. It can be hard to watch after the 2016 assassination of five Dallas police officers during a protest.
Also from "Into the Ring", Foggy chides Matt for deciding to take up Karen's case, saying "You don't necessarily show the best judgement when beautiful women are involved, Matt." In season 2, we learn the details of Matt's relationship with Elektra, and see what a bad influence she was on him both when they dated in college and in the present day when she returns seeking Matt's assistance in the fight against the Hand. Suddenly, Foggy's line sounds less like a joke and more like concern that Matt is attracted to Karen and will turn out to be cut from the same cloth as Elektra.
Any scene where Claire worries about the legal ramifications of treating Matt in her apartment, after Jessica Jones reveals that she did indeed get evicted over it.
Jon Bernthal's portrayal of Frank Castle / The Punisher is depicted as a sympathetic figure, returning him to his roots as a generally more noble man, showing the moral standards the comics version of the character largely abandoned, and generally making him a more realistic character one can empathize with. A few months after season 2 came out, Rodrigo Duterte became the President of the Philippines, and throughout his career as a mayor and now as president has been given the nickname "The Punisher" for ordering police to summarily execute anyone remotely suspected of being involved with the drug trade, making him much like the version of the Punisher that this show was steering away from.
Iron Fist (2017) gives a further explanation on the Hand's resurrection technique, revealing that it gradually chips further and further away at a person's humanity and identity each time. With Nobu already completely unaffected by cold at the start of the show, how far gone was he? On the plus side, the later show also confirms that he's dead for good, as cutting off their head makes it permanent.
Jessica Jones: We learn that Reva Connors was the love of Luke Cage's life and he was devastated by her death at the hands of a Kilgrave-controlled Jessica Jones. Every scene with Reva in Jessica Jones becomes much harder to watch after Luke Cage reveals she was complicit in the experiments that went on at Seagate Prison, including the ones that gave Luke his powers.
Luke Cage: Pop mentions in "Code of the Streets" that he had a son he lost connection with, and how over the years, he could have sat down in his chair and he never would have known. It's one of the reasons he tries to play surrogate father to young men like Chico. Pop is killed at the end of the episode, and at his memorial service three episodes later, his son is the first person to give a eulogy, mentioning how he knew where his father was, and he wanted to reach out to him, even tell him about his grandchild, but he never did.
Also from Luke Cage: After seeing The Defenders, Misty got a grand total of one more year with that arm after Claire saved it, precisely because she saved Claire's life.
Too Close for Comfort: In the final season of The Twilight Zone (1959), two different episodes—one depicting a dystopian future, one with an unhappy ending—are explicitly set in 1974. Rod Serling died in 1975.
Kamen Rider Fourze got hit with a few whoppers. Kengo Utahoshi was nicknamed "The King of the Infirmary" because of his mysteriously poor constitution; his actor Ryuki Takahashi announced his retirement due to health reasons. Yuuki Jojima was an oddball outer space Otaku who, in one infamous two-parter, started praying to "rocket gods" in order to pass a test; her actress Fumika Shimizu joined a cult operated by a man who claims to channel the spirits of religious leaders like Jesus, Allah, and the Buddha. What makes matters worse is the fact that both of these events happened in 2017, five years after the show ended; the post-series crossover Movie War Ultimatum was set in that same timeframe and showed both Kengo and Yuuki were doing just fine.
Gossip Girl had Chuck Bass try to rape both Serena and Jenny in the pilot episode. Over a decade later, actor Ed Westwick is accused of rape by three women.
In fact, the entire plotline in the pilot is viewed in a darker light, thanks to the #Me Too movement.
The Lifetime Movie of the WeekAmanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy portrays the title character as a careless, sociopathic party girl who killed somebody in a sex game gone wrong, with her conviction for murder presented as justice delivered. In real life, not only was the real Amanda Knox acquitted four years later, the prosecution that first convicted her was utterly excoriated for the glaring errors it made, most notably the fact that the lead detective believed the murder to be part of a Satanic ritual without any evidence.
A big deal is made of Bob and Midge renewing their vows, which is particularly sweet after they'd fought and argued for so long. And then Midge abruptly leaves him and Donna just two seasons later.
When Hyde took the fall for Jackie buying pot, some of the gang makes cracks about Hyde becoming someone's "girlfriend" in jail. Danny Masterson was fired from The Ranch after allegations that he committed rape arose.
In the final episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Malcolm's parents strong-arm him into turning down a six-figure job right out of high school, forcing him to work through college (since they blew a $10,000 college grant that was meant for him), so he'll appreciate the value of hard work. A couple of years after the finale, the economy tanked and not only did college become more expensive that's only affordable with loans that take years to pay off and good paying jobs hard to get, but many recent grads often find themselves working in low-paying jobs despite having a degree; so Hal and Lois' actions look incredibly stupid and selfish; parents today would be overjoyed not having to worry about putting their kid through college.
In the episode "The Black Dragon", Stonebrake expresses the fear that Miles will get killed as M.A.N.T.I.S. and the episode "The Eyes Beyond" sees future!Stonebreak say Miles died long ago as he himself is dying. As the finale shows, Stonebrake's fears were completely valid.
"The Eyes Beyond" sees an elderly Stonebrake in the year 2026. Roger Rees, who played Stonebreak, wouldn't live to actually see that time, dying in 2015.