Heartwarming: Married... with Children
You probably wouldn't expect this show to have heart-warming moments, considering how much Black Comedy and Kafka Comedy it has (it was written as a Take That against the 1980s sitcoms that were warm and wholesome, which is why its original title was, Not The Cosbys). However, there are moments that show that the Bundys do care about each other, despite being miserable and wanting nothing more than to either kill each other or leave and strike out on their own under an assumed identity.
- From "Get the Dodge Out of Hell": When the car wash loses his prized Dodge, Al becomes hell-bent on getting it back, despite the rest of the Bundys wanting to get a new car. At the end of the episode, we see why Al was so determined to get his car back — he keeps a picture of his family in the trunk.
- Which is immediately coupled with the Emmy Bait message: "For Your Emmy Consideration."
- From "So This Is How Sinatra Felt": Jessica Hahnnote made a guest appearance as an amazingly hot "shoe groupie" who was obsessed with Al and wanted nothing more than to have amazing sex with him. Al says no. Repeatedly, but he doesn't understand why. When he tells Peg about it, she says, "It's because you really do love me". His response? "Oh my God, that is it!"
- From "She's Having a Baby: Part 2"note , she brings up how a wave machine can be relaxing for the baby in the womb. But Al had his eyes on a new socket set he saw advertised. Since he only has enough money for one or the other, Peg assumes toward the end that he bought it. Instead, he comes home with the wave machine.
- From "Rites of Passage": Bud's 18th birthday is shaping up to be pathetic. No girls want to spend time with him, his sister gives him a present that mocks him and his Mom is planning a party fit for a six year old, complete with a horse and a clown (the latter of whom turns out to be a psycho who stabs stuffed animals). After Peg, Kelly and Marcy leave the room Al tells Bud how they're really gonna spend his birthday: Al's gonna continue a longstanding Bundy tradition and take Bud to the nudie bar, where Al cheats dancers out of tips and starts a massive bar fight. At the end of the episode, Al and Bud are broke, bruised and battered but have finally had a great father-son moment. Al is especially proud of his boy for how well he fought, including cheating as a Combat Pragmatist by bashing a chair over the head of a guy who offered the "rookie" a free shot.
- After the show had ended, Ed O'Neill (Al) visited on the set where Christina Applegate (Kelly) was filming an episode of Jesse without her knowing, pretending to be someone who opened the door for her in the scene. "Where have you been, young lady?!" The surprise nearly brought Christina to tears.
- When Al and Peg attend their high school reunion in "Married..with Prom Queen", Peg tells Al she lucked out when she married him and asked him if he felt the same way.
Al: Was the go-go dancer in our class?
Al: Then I married the prettiest girl.
- When they celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary in "Sixteen Years and What Do You Get", Al plans to get Peg a very expensive watch, but the kids tell her so Peg goes all out hiring a chef and a violist for the evening, and gets Al a new set of power tools. Unfortunately, this of course means Al can't get the watch, and Peg is angry when he comes home with nothing, and Al in turn is angry when he figures out why he couldn't buy it, and storms off to the garage. The last few minutes of the episode are a long Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other as Al tells Peg what really bothered him was that she thought he didn't try, Peg admits he really must love her if he's stuck by her for 16 years despite how miserable he is, and Al reveals while in the garage he was working on an improvised gift, and used his new tools to install his car's stereo system in hers for her. Right on cue, "their song" comes on, and they dance.
- For all their snarking and snapping at each other, Kelly has at least two big sister moments where she warns Bud of a girl's bad intentions. In "What Goes Around Came Around," Bud doesn't listen and ends up humiliated, but rather than ditching Bud, Kelly takes out her revenge on the girl in question by stripping her down to a towel, chaining her to a wall of lockers with a banner that reads, "DON'T MESS WITH A BUNDY!", and tying the towel to a rope attached to Buck's leash. Kelly then calls Buck to her just as school starts and everyone enters.
- Also during that episode, Al has been invited to speak at the dance to present an award. Instead, he uses to the opportunity to go on a lengthy tirade against marriage. However, after spotting a teacher repeatedly hitting on Peg, Al hits him in the head with the microphone.
- And as the guy collapses, Peg looks up at Al with this utterly adoring, grateful smile. You can just tell she's thinking, "That's my guy."
- At the end of "Radio Free Trumaine", after April dumps the both of them, Bud and Nikolai go off to get a beer as friends.
- In "The Gypsy Cried" at the end, Al and Peggy are singing "I Got You Babe" looking very goofy and happy.
- Then ending of the Season 6 "pregnancy" arc, in "Al Bundy: Shoe Dick." A meta-example: Al wakes up after a season-long dream. As noted elsewhere, Real Life Writes the Plot in that Katey Sagal had been pregnant and the pregnancy was written in, then she had a late-term miscarriage. When Al wakes up and finds out she's not pregnant Peggy comes out of the bathroom and beams at Al. She says "You had $50,000, and yet you still came home to me. That shows you really do love me." They then proceed to banter cutely, and Peg snuggles up to Al, who puts an arm around her. As a viewer, you get the feeling that it's the actors, not just the characters, and Ed O'Neill is showing Katey Sagal some warmth after a very difficult loss.