The end of "The Father, The Son, And The Holy Fonz": Even though Peter's hope of starting a religion based on Fonzi came crashing down, Brian, Peter, and Francis manage to find to find some common ground (a giant Take That against Madonna) Disappointed that his religion failed, Lois tries to comfort Peter by giving him hope that there was a shred of hope that the messages of the Fonz, through his religion, managed to touch someone in a meaningful way. Cut to Francis, where he kneels in prayer in front a picture of Fonz, closes his eyes, and claps his hands in the first few notes of the Happy Days theme song.
Near the end of "Road to Rhode Island", Brian finally finds his mother after being separated from her for 7 dog yearsnote that's nearly 5 human decades!-only to find her dead, stuffed and used as a table. What follows is a perfect example of Even Evil Has Standards being used for pure tenderness- Stewienote who was still his "classic" evil persona at this point and had been a complete bastard to both Brian and Biscuit (Brian's mother) takes some time to respect Brian's wishes by burying his mother, and trying- twice, mind you, as the first one was an awkward attempt, to deliver a heartfelt eulogy to someone that meant nothing to Stewie, and who he had never met in his life, followed by a rather tender speech in attempt to comfort his grieving best friend.
On "Jerome is the New Black", after Quagmire's tirade on why he hates Brian, the final scene of the episode shows Stewie letting a broken-down Brian sleep next to his crib. '
Stewie: Knock, knock.
Brian: Who's there.
Stewie: Your friend, Stewie, and he'll always be there for you
Not to mention Peter apologizing to Jerome for his behavior during the episode, simply because it is delivered in earnest without getting ruined by some joke in the middle of it all (though Jerome does mention that he had sex with Meg and Peter dismisses it).
Stewie gets another, bigger one in "Dog Gone" when he makes the rest of the family think that Brian's dead so he'll see how much they appreciate him.
In "Dial Meg for Murder", Brian stops Meg from robbing Mort Goldman's pharmacy by reading his kind Teen People article he wrote about her. This moment is then ruined by a lame joke, which in itself was a Take That at The Simpsons's tendency ruin heartwarming moments with dumb jokes.
In "Tom Tucker: The Man And His Dream", Lois sees Chris' new girlfriend (who looks exactly like her), cheating on him, she sadly breaks the news to him. Chris then reveals he knows, but wants to date her because if a total trainwreck like Peter can marry a hottie like Lois, he can. Lois then assures him that any woman would be right for him and takes the parental lock off his computer.
The episode "Brian and Stewie" is arguably a crowning episode of heartwarming (once you get past the obligatory poop joke, anyway). It's even made more poignant in that, unlike many other heartwarming or tearjerking episodes that have a joke at the very end, this one does not.
Stewie: I love you. Not in like a 'hey let's have an underpants party' or whatever grownups do when their in love, I mean I love you as one loves another person whom one simply cannot do without. You give my life purpose, and maybe that's enough.
Brian: I love you too, Stewie.
There's also the ending of Barely Legal. After Meg develops an obsessive crush on Brian, Quagmire invites her over to his house, saying that he'll give her "what she needs." When she gets there that night, he lights candles, strips down to his underwear...and gives her a heartwarming talk about how special she's grown up to be, and why she shouldn't be in a hurry to grow up. He then gives her a copy of Shel Silverstein's "The Missing Piece."
Perhaps the biggest one yet occurred at the end of "Road to the North Pole" where, after everyone sees how much their greed has depleted Santa's health, they all agree to limit themselves to asking Santa for one gift each.
Quagmire deciding that while he wanted to keep his daughter, Anna Lee, he decided that she will be much happier with her adopted parents in Quagmire's Baby.
The first season was far more ripe in these. In the first episode "Death Has A Shadow" for example, after being put on trial for tax fraud, a defeated Peter expresses to court that he simply saw the scam as the first opportunity to provide his family with what they deserve, and apologizes rather poignantly for lying to Lois.
The episode "New Kidney in Town" features many, different tearjerking and heartwarming scenes, due to the fact that Brian has to donate a kidney to keep Peter alive, but since dog kidneys are weak, he needs BOTH of them. So yeah, if Brian gives them obviously he will die. Brian is not only okay with it, but he volunteers! He said that the Griffins saved him from dying in the streets and gave him a better life, that he only has 8 more years to live at best, and that he's willing to give that up so the father of the family can have another 40.
Of course it ends with the usual twist: Dr. Hartman winds up giving Peter his kidney instead because it turns out he's a perfect match, thereby saving Brian, and returning hope to the Griffins! Being Dr. Hartman, it turns out he wasn't even sure dogs have kidneys to begin with (they do)!
And the ending, which perfectly sums up the episode in a truly beautiful Meaningful Echo: Chris, after finally making up to Meg for plagiarizing her poem, has decided to not only present it in front of the entire populous of James Woods High, but read it along with Meg. As the camera pans along the audience with very sweet, uplifting music in the background, we can see Doctor Hartman, Peter, Brian, Stewie (who is gently sucking his thumb and tugging at Brian's ear) and Lois looking on with a look of both tenderness, understanding, love, and compassion.
For a Brewie fan, Stewie capturing Brian simply because he wouldn't let him die, and than crying over him (even if it was gross.)
In "There's Something About Paulie," Peter unwittingly has a hit called on Lois, putting her life in danger for half the episode. Near the end of the episode, during the mob boss' daughter's wedding, Lois is about to be killed, but Peter begs The Don for one more favor; to kill him instead of Lois. The Don is touched by the devotion and decides to call the hit off!
Doubling as a Tear Jerker, we got Brian spending Pearl Burton's last moments with her, using the VR goggles from earlier in the episode to give her a simulation of a happy life they could've had before she passes on.
In the season 4 episode "Deep Throats" Meg and Mayor West are in a relationship and when Brian finds out and threatens to go to the press, Mayor West offers to take the fall for both of them (and Mayor West adds that he'll wait to have sex with Meg when she's either 18note The age of consent in most American states, 21note The legal age to drink and purchase alcohol, or 25note the age in most states when you can legally rent a car), which touches Brian enough for him to give up on his plan.
The second half of "Brothers and Sisters" qualifies for this trope. Adam West finally got what he deserved after 10 years of being arguably the most consistently funny character on the show in general. Thank you, Seth.
In "Road To Europe", Lois is worried that Peter doesn't love her anymore after it's revealed she's been lying about being a KISS fan. When she tells Peter this, he tells her that his love for her is too strong for him to be angry and decides to take it upon himself...by going to Denny's.
It was really brief but in the episode "Petergeist" Peter hugs Lois before she goes into the spirit world because Stewie can't find his way out of Meg's ass (It Makes Sense in Context). A little strange because of all the Flanderization of the show at that point but still heartwarming.
The Former Life of Brian: Brian looks up an ex, who reveals that he had a son with her, 13 year old Dylan. He moves in with the Griffins because he was troubled. He was a total bully to the family, and when enough is enough, Brian confronts Dylan and tells him to leave, but then a bag of pot falls out of one of their pockets (the fact that both Brian and Dylan both say, "My pot! ...your pot?!" in unison makes it ambiguous) and the two of them bond while being high. When they break down in tears, that's where it gets heartwarming.
The end of Peter-assment. Sure, it involves Peter having sex with his boss Angela ( well, actually Mort...don't ask) even when he didn't want to, but he does it to prevent her from committing suicide out of shattered self-esteem; he does out out of genuine care for Angela.
In "Seahorse Seashell Party" the whole episode we have Stewie taking care of Brian when he is completely high on psycothropic mushrooms.
In the episode where Joe's son Kevin returns home for Thanksgiving after he was thought to have been dead, it turns out he went AWOL after his unit was attacked with a bomb, naturally Joe is severely disappointed, until Kevin tells Joe that HE was the very reason he made that decision in the first place-the heartwarming parts comes in the flashback when it's revealed that Joe decided not to arrest a man for stealing since he was only trying to feed his family and he gives a speech on how the law isn't always right, and that even though he doesn't agree with Kevin's decision, he'll still look after him.
In Quagmire and Meg, the Family went through so much effort to get Quagmire away from Meg. This may seem like a Yank the Dog's Chain, but we have to remember who Quagmire is here. It was cute seeing Stewie tell Quagmire to leave her alone considering earlier in that episode, he made crude pictures of her sleeping. It shows that despite all the Character Derailment and Flanderization, they still care about Meg.
Stewie punching Quagmire's shins and shouting "Stay away from mah sis!" was probably the most hilarious and heartwarming thing ever.
YMMV, but I really like Meg and Eli's relationship in Amish Guy, yes they break up at the end because Eli chose to stay where he thought he belonged, but it wasn't just some worthless excuse to make Meg the Buttmonkey again. He genuinely cared about her and if they weren't from different worlds he would still love her unlike all her other boyfriends. She still ends up brokenhearted, but at least it was because the guy knew they wouldn't work not because she's the show's Butt Monkey.
The end of the White House battle in "Lois Kills Stewie", when Stewie is about to blow Lois' brains out all over the rug in the Oval Office. From out of nowhere Peter shows up and shoots Stewie twice, killing him. Then after he and Lois embrace, Peter reaches out and gently closes Stewie's eyes. Sure it turned out to be only a simulation, but it shows once again the depth of Peter's love for Lois.
In "Barely Legal" even though he was drunk there's that moment when Brian stood up for Meg and told Connie exactly why she sucks before telling Meg that she doesn't deserve all the abuse she gets from people.
Meg in "He's Too Sexy For His Fat" complimenting Chris on the weight he's lost, after Chris has become frustrated because his exercise and diet regimen isn't going well.
While it ended in a way predicted; "Leggo My Meg-O" was probably one of the rarest showings in the newer seasons to prove that the family (other than Brian) love Meg. Even going as far to contact the FBI and Stewie going to save her.
And how Meg wasn't going to be a sex slave, but a bride to an Arabian prince, who is okay if she wants to be his princess or not.
The cutaway with the Hamburger Helper, and the fact that it's oddly played straight.
Peter and Lois trying to get Joe and Bonnie back together at the end of the season finale is also a worthy mention.
Joe: Can you ever forgive me, Bonnie?
Bonnie: It's going to take some time.
Joe: Rest of your life okay?
After Lois sleeps with Bill Clinton in "Bill & Peter's Bogus Journey", Lois concludes that the only way to save their marriage is for Peter to sleep with somebody of his choosing - and that somebody is Lois' mother Babs. And Babs is perfectly willing to go along with it. But at the last minute Peter backs out and runs back to Lois, unwilling to sleep with anyone else.
Carter saying "You're alright, Griffin" to Peter when he makes a awkward response to his question about why he's naked in his house is pretty sweet.
In "Point of Stew", Stewie ends up riding Brian's car from it's tailpipe. During this ride, we see Herbert hanging from the undercarriage of a school bus. After Herbert greets him, Stewie says "Stay away from my brother's butt."
In the same short, he also goes back in time,where he stops Kurt Cobain from killing himself and gives him ice cream.
As creepy as Mr. Herbert is, he gets a moment in "German Guy" that shows a slightly more positive side to him: After saving Chris from former Nazi Mr. Guttentag, Herbert makes it clear that he genuinely DOES care for Chris, and doesn't just want to take advantage of him. Chris then says that he considers Herbert a friend.
The ending to "Fifteen Minutes of Shame.
Meg:(typing) My family has embarrassed me once again. I couldn't be happier.
Which turns into a moment of funny when it's replaced by Stewie complaining that he wants to kill them.
The entire family saving the Fischmans in Into Fat Air
In "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q.", the topic of Domestic Abuse was treated more delicately than the show is usually known for. Quagmire's speech to his sister definitely qualifies as a moment of heartwarming since he's the last person you'd expect a speech about the value of women to come from.
It gets better when you realize that October (when this episode premiered) is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
In "Brian: Portrait of a Dog"
Peter: Hey. My wife's beef-a-roni casserole. Out of this world.
In "Lois Comes Out Of Shell" Peter telling Lois that he loves her just the way she is and dosen't need her to act young all the time.
"Friends Without Benefits" has Chris showing Meg a photo of themselves from years ago and saying that he always kept it to cheer himself up.
Peter's tweet earlier in the episode about Meg going out on a date, and how he wished there was a "slow-down button on this life-thingy".
Also, Brian's advice to Meg at the end of the episode, stating that she will find love one day, but the moment is ruined when he says "even if you becomes some drunk guy's alcohol-hazed hook-up." (though by Family Guy standards, that is considered heartwarming, and Meg already said in an earlier episode that the only way she's going to get a man is if she becomes some drunken guy's last resort).
Though, from a certain perspective, it's still kind of heartwarming: Brian is essentially telling her that, no matter what, there will always be hope for her.
The fact that Quagmire, after everything he said to Brian, was willing to go to his play. Sure, it was for a date, but he even applauded at the end.
Also, Stewie purposely sabotaging his own play so that Brian will be able to enjoy his success.
The end Valentine's Day. EvenMeg, who was able to hit it off with the organ harvester, and he even gave her back her stolen kidney.
Meg and Chris making up at the end of "Chris Cross"
Even though it's typically always Played for Laughs, every time that Peter or one of the others forgets that Joe is handicapped. It speaks volumes about their friendship that they don't even think about it.
Also any time he and Chris get along like actual brothers.
The "Trading Places" example is pretty sweet. As the Griffin's anticipate Meg's cooking, Peter and Lois say it's crap (in short, the usual Meg-bashing). Stewie retorts "Hey man, give her a fucking chance, alright?"''
In the "Point of Stew" segment of "Viewer Mail No. 2", Stewie recognizes that Meg is going to try to kill herself, and he's worried enough that he tries to let the others know.
"Stay away from my brother's butt".
In "You May Now Kiss the... Uh... Guy Who Receives", while Lois makes her feelings about being uncomfortable with gay marriage known and doesn't want Jasper (Brian's cousin) and his boyfriend Ricardo getting married in their backyard, Peter jumps in and defends them saying that he doesn't see the problem with two guys getting married. Just the mere thought that Peter Griffin (who's become known for his various Jerk Ass moments) is perfectly fine with gay marriage is heartwarming alone.
And a bit later, when Lois, after she discovers that her parents' marriage is a total sham, changes her mind about gay marriage and admits to Brian that if two people, be it in any kind of relationship, love each other, they should get married.
In "Love Blactually", after Loretta makes a plea for Cleveland to forgive her for the affair, despite the others' insistence she will never change, he takes up her invitation, upon which he gently lets her down, telling her what they had was special but is now over and he wants nothing more than for her to move on and live a happy life.
Peter apologizing to Lois for acting like a jerk in "Finders Keepers".
Chris throwing away the diamond pinkie ring Peter gave to everyone but Meg and quickly changing the subject to avoid hurting her feelings.
Peter actually pulling over and being concerned when Meg jumps out of the car.
Joe and Bonnie re-uniting at the end of Internal Affairs to Toto's "Africa." Lois and Peter warmly smiling as they make up sells the scene even further.
Joe: Will you ever forgive me?
Bonnie: It's gonna take some time, Joe.
Joe: Is the rest of your life okay?
Peter and his brother Chip making amends at the end of the episode.
"Mr. And Mrs. Stewie" Stewie can create catastrophic events and nuclear detonation just for the hell of it, creating worldwide chaos, but when Penelope tells him to kill Brian, he just can't do it.
Peter mending his relationship with Lois while in Italy in "Bobba-Dee Babba_Dee".
Although many view it as a Downer Ending, the now non-canon "Life of Brian" had plenty of these.
Christmas Guy: Vinnie willingly helps Stewie go back in time to rescue Brian. The fact that they didn't have alot of time together; and only knew of Brian from the supporting cast just shows that, love him or hate him, Vinnie seems to be a genuinely good character.
Let it be note that those last several moments have been retconned—-see below.
Stewie saving Brian from ever being killed. After three of the darkest weeks of the show, fans were just crying with happiness. And Stewie from the future fading away, leaving Brian's death nothing but a What Could Have Been in Brian's memory.
In "Turkey Guys" Peter tells Brian that he deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Brian earlier. Especially touching because any other time he receives such a speech he either blatantly ignores it or lashes out at the person delivering it.
To make it better it's probably the fact that Brian is saying that leads him to accept being ranted at. Lois and Meg have had no luck whatsoever when delivering such tirades at Peter but the fact that he admits Brian was entitled to doing so shows how much their friendship means to him.