A staple of the American family-oriented Sitcom, the Golden Moment usually occurs in the last few minutes of the episode, when An Aesop is delivered. After 20+ minutes of hijinks and confusion, Dad sits down with Junior for the following exchange:
Junior: I guess I screwed up, didn't I?
Dad: I guess so.
Junior: None of this would have happened if I hadn't been trying to impress people. I just wanted so much for them to like me.
Dad: Son, anybody who doesn't like you for who you are isn't worth trying to impress.
Junior: Gee, you're right dad. From now on I'll just be myself.
Dad: I'm proud of you, son.They hug and the audience goes, "AWWWWWWWWW." The lesson has been taught. Sentimental Music Cues. Typically, the writers will then try to reduce the saccharine by adding a joke, such as having Junior say, "Dad, how do I get the baked beans out of my pants?" to gales of laughter from both sides of the Fourth Wall. Dead Horse Trope to the fullest. Distinct from Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, which is what this trope aims at but tends to be too formulaic to reach.
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Anime and Manga
- A fresh twist on the Trope occurs every now and again in Oh My Goddess! (which has very apparent Supernatural Dom Com elements to it, despite being a Bishoujo Series). Every time wish-granting goddess Belldandy feels like less of a deity because she behaved jealous or stubborn over Keiichi (her sort-of boyfriend), he's been there to try to cheer Belldandy up, explaining that it's part of a relationship.
Live Action TV
- Occurs with disturbing frequency on Scrubs. Generally occurs in the form of a voice over of JD's thoughts pertaining to the week's episode. Often comes with some cheesy music too.
- Surprisingly, The Odd Couple was often guilty of this. Many episodes, especially early ones, would end with Oscar and Felix each admitting that the problem was the result of their respective sloppiness and pickiness, and reaffirming the importance of their friendship.
- Pick an episode, any episode of Full House.
- Leave It to Beaver tended to end like this.
- Subverted and played for laughs in an episode of Eureka, wherein Carter and his daughter have a moment, complete with sappy music...at which point they demand to know where the music is coming from, and then leave when the AI controlling the house owns up.
- Series.The Facts Of Life owned this trope, playing it so straight they frequently didn't even bother with the lighten-up gag. Or if they did, it came through brave tears.
- Lampshaded in Arrested Development: Michael and George Michael, his son, are making snacks and discussing their plot of that episode. George Michael remarks that he doesn't need his dad to stay out of his life, he's the biggest part of his life. Michael states, refering to the snack they are making, "That's a little cornball, son."
- Vengeful aversion: No hugging, no learning.
- Family Matters had this quite frequently, complete with Full House Music.
- Happy Days has an episode in season one where, after going through gang initiation which involved pulling pranks on a policeman, stealing their principal's toupe, and going to a sockhop in dresses, Potsie and Richie realize that Mr. Cunningham was right—they didn't even like the guys they were trying to impress and should have just been themselves all along. Mr. C then comes in and has a little chat with Richie which ends on a corny joke.
- Averted in the very first episode of The Cosby Show, when Cliff is trying to get to the bottom of Theo's terrible grades and Theo makes a heartfelt plea for understanding, pointing out that while Cliff and Claire are, respectively, a doctor and a lawyer, Theo doesn't love them more or less because of that, and maybe his parents should accept the fact that Theo is just 'a regular person' and love him anyway. As the studio audience begins to 'awww...' Cliff reacts silently for a second, then yells, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard!" and proceeds to tear Theo a new one for not even trying.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fellow vampire slayer Kendra delivers the Aesop of the Two-Part Episode "What's My Line?", that being a Slayer isn't a job, it's what Buffy is. Buffy then goes to hug her...
Kendra: I don't hug.
Buffy: Right. No. Good. Hate hugs.
- Parodied in nearly every episode of Moral Orel, in which Orel learns a twisted Aesop after a beating from his alcoholic father.
- Happens frequently in The Simpsons. One episode Lampshaded it by having guest star Isabel Sanford, acting as a presenter for a television museum, break the Fourth Wall and describe this trope. She goes on to say that they normally put in an extra, jokey scene to dilute the syrupiness. The scene then cuts to a clip of The Beverly Hillbillies.
- Marge unintentionally pointed out the flawed logic behind this trope with the line "Bart, anyone who beats you up for wearing a shirt isn't your friend."
- Also, Homer's "wisdom" tends to be things like "No matter how good you are at something, there's always going to be somebody better" (which Bart distills into "Can't win, don't try") and things to say to get yourself out of trouble, such as "It was like that when I got here."
- Happened in almost every episode of the animated Sabrina: The Animated Series.
- Seth MacFarlane in DVD commentaries has termed this the 'moment of shit', and as such has subverted it quite a few times in Family Guy, usually having the father Peter fail to get the lesson at all and say something inappropriate.
- It's also subverted a lot in American Dad!. To cite one example, in the episode "Haylias", Stan tries to brainwash Hayley so she'll start behaving like he feels a woman should, but a bug in the program causes her to want to kill Stan instead. As Hayley holds him at gunpoint, Stan sees the light and apologizes to Hayley for trying to control her life. She shoots him in the head.
- South Park plays with this a lot. Sometimes it seems to be played almost straight. Other times they make satire out of how seriously the townspeople seem to take it, when it's not a real/decent moral at all.
- "You know, I learned something today..."
- Parodied in The Tick. The titular superhero would often end the episode by declaring "I think we've all learned something today!" and then deliver an aesop that made no sense whatsoever.
- See also: the Wheel of Morality on Animaniacs which was only played straight once: in The Movie, Wakko's Wish.
- Almost THE EXACT exchange of the example, or at least the exact scenario, occurs at the end of A Goofy Movie.
- In the first season of Garfield and Friends, several of the Orson's Farm segments had one of these, usually in song and dance form. The show got rid of them later.
- Parodied on Aqua Teen Hunger Force when Meatwad watches the other characters in a "sitcom with a sci-fi/horror twist" on an apparently cursed television. It comes complete with sitcom-style "Awwwww" from the audience, followed by a lame joke with laugh track. Meatwad appears to be the ideal television watcher, though, declaring "I identify with that!"
- Played completely straight (except for maybe one episode) at the end of most My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episodes. Earlier seasons had it in the form of a "friendship report" written by Twilight Sparkle (and later her friends as well) to Princess Celestia, while Season Four has the cast keeping a diary of what they've learned.
- Interestingly, these come back as plot points on at least two occasions. In "Return of Harmony," Twilight's re-reading of her own friendship reports break her out from her depression and convince her to fight for her friendships. In "Twilight's Kingdom," specific entries in their journal show the mane six how to open the box given to them by the Tree of Harmony.
- Parodied in the Futurama episode "I, Roommate", where Fry and Bender watch a Golden Moment happen on TV, and Leela encourages them to apply the same lesson to their own disagreement. They repeat the same dialogue as on the show word for word... with the roles reversed, so that Bender apologizes even though he was the one being treated unfairly. Regardless, it ends the fight, and Leela ultimately decides to leave well enough alone.
- Played mostly straight however, in "Cold Warriors."