While it's listed in Hilarious in Hindsight, it could be an example of this as well: in Gurren Lagann, when discussing the logistics of Combining Mecha, Kamina decides that a combination of 16 mechs at once would be a stupid thing to do, since a true combination would require everyone involved to be deeply connected to each other in spirit. In The Movie, not only do they pull that off, but the resulting Super Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is none other than Kamina reincarnated. And it works.
In One Piece, Luffy asking Jimbei to join his crew in the Fishmen arc becomes even more heartwarming when you remember that Jimbei was there to pull Luffy out of his Heroic BSOD after Ace's death. Hence, Luffy already had a Straw Hat with him when the rest of his crew couldn't be there for him.
MEGANEBU! is a madcap comedy about Akira Souma and his perverted fellows in the Glasses Club trying to construct X-Ray glasses to see through women's clothes. Then come the last few minutes of episode 12, where it's revealed that's a lie, and he's trying to construct a pair of glasses that can make his blind brother see again. Really produces the warm-fuzzies when you look back at the previous episodes.
At the start of Rurouni Kenshin Kaoru's implicit acceptance of Kenshin's life as a Manslayer ten years before when she says she doesn't care about his past, while sweet, is largely brushed over. It is only later when Kenshin says goodbye before leaving for Kyoto that it becomes apparent how much that simple statement meant to him and changed his life.
One that was mentioned in Linkara's review ofAction Comics #1: Superman rescuing Lois for the first time and bounding away with her in his arms does indeed become even more adorable now that they're married.
A large part of Grant Morrison's run on Animal Man dealt with the idea of fiction and how fictional characters "exist" in those stories. At one point the book shows a purgatory where all the forgotten and unused comic characters exist in limbo, and one of the characters that is shown is Mr. Freeze, questioning whether or not he'll ever get out of that place. It took about a decade later, but his revival in Batman: The Animated Series cemented him as a major member of Batman's Rogues Gallery.
Also in Comic Book limbo is the Space Canine Patrol Agents, which were though to be there permanently, as no one would care about them. Then in Krypto the Superdog, they returned as the Dog Star Patrol.
In the Katawa Shoujo fanfic, "From Shizune's Perspective," which was released before the full version of the visual novel, Shizune becomes depressed after finding out that Hisao and Misha (the latter of whom she confessed to, but was rejected by) are in a Secret Relationship, but after some time to think and talk with Emi, she realizes that Misha would never sleep with Hisao just to hurt her. A similar event happens in canon in Shizune's route, with Misha essentially in the same position as Shizune.
In This Is Spinal Tap, the experience of making this film actually helped Tony Hendra, who played the manager, get over his suicidal depression.
Space Jam: The producers built Michael Jordan (then retired from basketball) a custom court so he could practice his moves to look good for the movie. He credits this with helping him make his comeback when he un-retired.
In the British film Victim, released in 1961, Dirk Bogarde plays a homosexual barrister who decides to fight criminals blackmailing gay men (blackmailing homosexuals with threats of revealing their true inclination was common in the era when homosexuality was still a crime). Bogarde, who at the time was a major star in British cinema, took a big risk by accepting the lead role in this pro-gay movie, since in Britain in 1961 homosexuality was illegal and carried a significant social stigma. It wasn't common knowledge at the time, but it's been later revealed that Bogarde himself was gay. Seeing Victim with this knowledge, knowing how personally Bogarde must have felt his role, certainly adds an extra level of heartwarming to the movie.
In The Producers (1968 version), there was a scene where Leo agrees with Max to partake in the "creative accounting" idea which was done at night along the Lincoln Fountain (the last scene to be filmed). This is a bit of a send-up of movie cliches Leo says that he wants what happens in the movies followed by the fountain suddenly going off. It's funny and kind of heartwarming, but what makes it even more heartwarming is learning that this was the scene that convinced Gene Wilder to stick with acting.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman says to Commissioner Gordon that anyone can be a hero, even doing something as simple putting a coat around a boy's arms and assuring him that it's not the end of the world. In the film, it was a Call Back to Batman Begins to the flashback where Gordon put a coat on young Bruce and tries to comfort him after his parents were murdered and it was used to tell Gordon who Batman was.
It became even more heartwarming after the tragic Aurora, Colorado theater shooting, when Christian Bale went to visit the victims unannounced, on his own money and time.
Thirteen years before Man of Steel was released, Henry Cavill worked as an extra in the film Proof of Life, which Russell Crowe starred in. During the filming of the movie, Cavill asked Crowe for advice about acting, since he had aspirations of pursuing a full-time career as an actor. A few days after their conversation, he received a box of goodies from Crowe that included a signed picture of him in Gladiator with the words, "Dear Henry: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" written on it. Fast-forward to 2013: Henry Cavill is playing Superman opposite Russell Crowe, who's playing his father and mentor, Jor-El. In fact, Man of Steel is also the first time they've seen each other since that first meeting.
In Men In Black, the reason why K so quickly recruits J into the MIB as well as acting like a surrogate father makes more sense when it's revealed in Men In Black III that K pretty much does consider himself J's surrogate father to make up for accidentally getting J's real father killed.
Star Wars: Luke Skywalker and C-3PO's bond throughout the original trilogy becomes heartwarming when it's revealed in The Phantom Menace that C-3PO was originally built by Luke's father Anakin, making them practically brothers.
Also the involvement of Luke and Leia in the Galactic Civil War in the original trilogy takes on this considering that Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi placed them in hiding in Revenge of the Sith in the hope that in the future, they would be willing to help fight the Empire. When you think of the usual clip montage of the siblings fighting Emperor Palpatine's force with everything they have to the tune of John Williams' score, there's something cheering that how they stepped willingly forward to become that New Hope for the galaxy.
In X2: X-Men United, an imprisoned Magneto warmly greets Professor X with, "Charles Xavier, have you come to rescue me?" As it turns out, Charles did indeed rescue Erik Lehnsherr from drowning in X-Men: First Class, and this is how their friendship began. Despite the danger Erik was in 1962, both men still look back on the memory with some fondness.
Captain Werner Von Ebrennac in the French novel Le Silence de la Mer, which was written during the Nazi occupation, is a polite Francophile who often expresses his hope that World War II will be the last war between France and Germany, and that the two countries may forge a lasting alliance which will be the foundation of a new, peaceful Europe. This is depicted as evidence of his hopeless naivety, but fast forward a few decades...
In the last book of the Protector of the Small quartet, Keladry disobeys direct orders and chooses to rescue her refugees from a vile necromancer in Scanra; several friends also disobey their orders to help her. Apart from the physical dangers of the quest alone, Keladry assumes that she'll be put to death on Traitor's Hill even if she succeeds. Fast-forward a few years and the Provost's Dog trilogy describes how people die on Traitor's Hill in the Tortall Universe—let's just say that if you're beheaded, you got off easy. That Keladry didn't even hesitate to save her people in the face of such a death speaks volumes.
Live Action TV
Game of Thrones: Just like with the novels, one must pay close attention to the small details on the show to fully realize how much Lord Renly Baratheon and Ser Loras Tyrell loved each other, as it goes beyond what was presented in their two intimate scenes together. Even the most die-hard Renly/Loras shipper didn't recognize the significance of the green brocade cloak Renly wore at the jousting match in Season 1 until Loras talks about his dream of marrying a bride in green and gold brocade since he was very young in Season 3—Renly is clearly the "bride" in his imagination. (This makes perfect sense because Loras became Renly's squire in his late childhoood or early adolescence, and he obviously developed feelings for the young Storm Lord during this period, hoping all the while that he could somehow make his wish come true.) It should be noted that Loras pictures Renly as his "wife" at his ideal wedding because not only is it a sly reference to Loras being the partner who "wears the pants" in their relationship, but it more importantly reflects Loras' profound desire to see Renly become a Tyrell and be dressed in the green and gold of his family's sigil. Loras must have shared his fantasy with Renly, and as a romantic gesture, Renly would wear the green cloak to show his love and support for Loras at public events where they cannot openly express their feelings. In Season 2, Renly then takes it up a notch by merging his own stag sigil with Highgarden's colours—Margaery may be his official spouse, but Renly himself now "belongs" to Loras. And as if to make up for the lack of gold embroidery on his green cape, King Renly's crown and armour are made out of gold.
In Volume 1 of Heroes, Lindermann ends up healing Heidi Petrelli of the paralysis that his men caused in an assassination attempt on Nathan. At first glance, it seems like a ploy to get her to trust him. However, after the events of Volume 3, especially the flashback to the event as well as Lindermann's reaction to the event and his role in "killing" Arthur Petrelli, it seemed to be doing it out of genuine guilt.
An episode of Full House features DJ and Stephanie recounting memories of their mom. Danny tells them that it's very important for them to remember these stories so they can tell them to Michelle someday, since she has no memories of their mom, who died when Michelle was a baby. The scene is heartwarming enough on its own. But now Bob Saget is providing the voice of Future Ted on How I Met Your Mother (albeit uncredited), which makes a big deal about preserving memories so you can pass the stories on to your loved ones someday.
In "The One With the Girl who Hits Joey" Chandler goes overboard and proposes at Monica at the end, even though he isn't ready. They're in the same location and positions they are when the real proposal happens.
A flashback reveals Chandler and Monica almost have sex when he calls her "the most beautiful woman I've ever known [in real life]." In season 5 when they have sex for real what does he say that sparks it? "You're the most beautiful woman in most rooms". Clearly that line works on her.
In Season 1 Chandler offers to get together with Monica and raise a family together if they're both still single at forty. Turns out he doesn't wait until they're forty.
In "The One Where Heckles Dies" Chandler freaks out that his committment phobia will prevent him from finding the one, and he'll be left alone when the others settle down. Flash forward to later seasons, and he has found the one, (she was living across the hall the whole time), and he and Monica are the first to get married (and stay married) and start a family.
"The One With All the Flashbacks" when pre-series Chandler comforts Monica over not having a boyfriend and tells her she'll find someone. Of course, she does find someone: him.
Chandler and Monica's conversation at Ross's wedding in the Season 4 finale. Monica confides her fears that she's "never going to get married" and Chandler responds with: "Who wouldn't want you?". That night they sleep together for the first time and three seasons later, the finale is all about their wedding.
The Doctor Who episode "The Waters of Mars", set in 2059, has a scene in which one of the first Astronauts on Mars, a Russian, video-chats with his brother about said brother's husband's spending habits, with the implication that the same-sex marriage is no big deal in Russia. Given the repression of Gay Rights in Russia we've seen in 2013, it makes the episode's overall theme of humanity rising beyond its' early 21st century crisis and making it to faraway Mars all the more powerful.
In The X-Files season 4 episode "Home", Mulder and Scully discuss genetics and parenthood after investigating the death of a newborn with several genetic disorders. Mulder points out that it's not too late, that all Scully needed to do was find someone with a "spotless genetic make-up and a really high tolerance for being second-guessed" and start having babies. Scully shoots back by asking about his family. Mulder jokes that aside from needing glasses and getting abducted by aliens involved in government conspiracies, the Mulder family "passes genetic muster." Three years later, Scully would ask Mulder to be the father of her child in an IVF attempt (which ultimately failed), and they would go on to have Baby William (assumed naturally).
This conversation can also be seen as Harsher in Hindsight, since it takes place right before Scully learns that she is barren as the result of her abduction in season two, and a year before she loses a child that was conceived from the eggs stolen during the abduction.
"Speechless", by Lady Gaga, is a pretty sad song. However, the knowledge that it did persuade her dad to give up drinking and get the heart surgery he needed makes it this.
Similarly, Martika's Toy Soldiers goes from tear jerker to heartwarming once you learn that not only it was written for a friend who was knee deep into drugs... but that said friend actually went into rehab and got better.
P!nk's "Family Portrait" is a song about how parents constantly fighting affects the children. The song encouraged many kids in troubled homes to speak up to their parents about their feelings.
Not to mention "Please Don't Leave Me" when you realize that she and Carey Hart got back together.
Similar example with Nickelback's "Lullaby", if the Youtube comments are any indication, it has saved a lot of people from being Driven to Suicide.
Joni Mitchell's song "Little Green" is about a daughter she gave up for adoption. It's very sad, but Mitchell later reconnected with her as an adult.
Tupac Shakur's declaration in 1995 that "Though it seems heaven sent, we ain't ready to have a black president". Thirteen years later... yes, we were.
Both Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood covered the Bob Dylan song "To Make You Feel My Love" for the 1998 movie Hope Floats. They also recorded "In Another's Eyes" together. They are now married.
Back in 2008, a bumper for Toonami proudly proclaimed "11 years and counting!" Sadly, that year was the year it was cancelled... at first. Toonami was resurrected in 2012 following a Twitter campaign. Looks like we're still counting.
Not one day after announcing his "leave of presence" to watch and review movies he liked in early April 2013, Roger Ebert was overcome by his cancer and went to the big cinema in the sky to watch and review movies he likes for all eternity. It's mainly the tone of his "leave of presence" announcement that makes it fall into this; he may be gone, but he's in a better place, and his presence will still be felt by moviegoers everywhere, with his influence extending to numerous younger critics.
David Arquette winning the WCW World title. Why? Because he donated all the money WCW paid him to the families of Brian Pillman and Droz.
The Wrestlers: Fighting With My Family - the Tear Jerker part where Saraya/Paige says goodbye to her parents at the airport to leave for WWE becomes this with the knowledge that Paige became very popular after she debuted in FCW and was pushed as a star on NXT. Now you know leaving her family was all worth it.
Ditto for Tenille: The Wrestler where Tenille Tayla bursts into tears as the full force of admitting she hadn't expected to get a WWE contract hits her. She is now Emma on NXT and enjoyed a nice surge in popularity in 2013.
It's especially poignant for both women because the two of them were chosen to compete in the match to crown the first NXT Women's Champion (Paige won).
The sad vignette WWE aired during Breast Cancer Awareness month where Layla talks about her mother's passing. It becomes a little more heartwarming with the knowledge that in 2013, Layla would be reunited with her father after nearly 30 years apart.
Several of the people who participated in the making of the Broadway version of The Lion King were black South Africans who had left their country due to persecution. In the musical's original playbill, they expressed their sympathy with Simba, who, like them, was exiled but eventually able to return to his homeland.
In a meta sense, the "Popular" number in Wicked was prophetic. Elphaba is quite popular among fans of the play.
In Mass Effect 3, after a mission in which Primarch Victus' son sacrifices his life to disable a bomb, Tali will speak with Ashley afterward, saying it reminded her of Virmirenote Either Ashley or Kaidan must be sacrificed, and in this case, Kaidan has been. Tali asks how Ashley could accept a teammate dying for her, to which Ashley responds by asking her if she would make the sacrifice herself, then saying that one day it will be her turn and those who sacrificed themselves for her will be watching. This not only showcases Ashley's Character Development after her initial Survivor Guilt, but also is quite comforting to Tali, who suffered the loss of many of her comrades on Freedom's Progress and Haestrom.
In BioShock Infinite when Booker was revived by Elizabeth from drowning, he was calling Anna to Elizabeth, what he doesn't realize is he was referring to Elizabeth to her original name Anna DeWitt.
In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, it's revealed that Nobodies can grow new hearts over time, and it may be possible for others with no hearts to grow one as well (eg: puppets, programs). It's mainly a Harsher in Hindsight for most cases, but it does make the goodbye scene with Tron, a program, near the end of Kingdom Hearts II more heartwarming, considering just before, he suddenly gained emotions, implying a heart.
Late in Lilly's route in Katawa Shoujo, as she is preparing to go to Scotland permanently, she tells Hanako about how they became friends. Lilly says she did not befriend Hanako out of pity, but out of a desire to know more about her, and she considers her a strong person at heart who will be able to take charge of her own life even after Lilly is gone. Lilly's statement becomes even more powerful when you consider that in Hanako's route, Hanako believes that Lilly and Hisao pity her.
Also on Lilly's route, Hisao openly refers to Shizune as his friend on two occasions, once to Lilly, no less. Once you play Shizune's route and see how desperately she has tried to make friends, you can see that this comment has more weight.
In their failure date, The Nostalgia Critic breaking down and asking The Nostalgia Chick if she cares about him. She doesn't answer and they both run off by the end of the episode, but by this point we know he's basically the only guy who she unselfishly cares for.
The Nostalgia Critic released an episode on his review of Scooby-Doo. The episode ended with The Critic playing poker with Rob, 80s Dan, and The Ghost of Christmas Future. While this in itself is a touching moment, it becomes even more heartwarming with Doug's announcement that this was the final regular episode of the show. The Critic also gets a very touching send-off in To Boldly Flee.
Take a look at SadPanda's tribute to Spoony, "Long Live the Spoony One". With the chain of recent events that led to Spoony leaving Channel Awesome, the last verse becomes less like continued praise of Spoony and more like the singer putting his confidence in Spoony for the future.
''Spoony, don't worry, you'll always be funny. You can turn heel or face and never be in disgrace. I'm a fan, I won't lie. And the Spoony One will never die. Keep providing the fun, And for now I think I'm done.
In Spoony's Vlog of Paranormal Activity 2, Spoony starts gushing over the dog in the movie and how much of a good actor it is. Spoony then briefly wishes he had an emotive dog like that, which he would later get a few years later with Oreo.
In the DVD Commentary for the Futurama episode "Anthology of Interest II", when it was still uncertain if the show would stay on, one of the guys talking asked "What if we had a fifth season?"
Similarly, in the commentary for "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" (the last episode before it was cancelled for the first time), one of the commentators jokes at the end "See you on the next DVD!"
The episode dealing with Robosexuality seemed like wishful thinking, in that this analogy for gay marriage becomes legal, but now New York state allows gay marriage in real life.
"New Kidney in Town", an episode of Family Guy, involved Chris plagiarizing a speech about hope from Meg, and getting an interview for it with a local anchor (because the essay won a contest to introduce Barack Obama when he came to town at the end of the episode). Chris says, rather plainly, that he got the essay from an angel. He was speaking more in a religious sense, but think for a second about from where, or rather who, it actually came.
Also another episode, where Stewie goes back in time to the episode where Brian does the "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" dance for Peter, and does it for him instead of Brian. At first Peter is cheered up because you think Stewie did it better. Then you realize that this was the episode where Peter was upset because Stewie was mad at him, so seeing him do that would've cheered Peter up.
In the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "It's Way Ed," the Eds kept falling behind on the latest fads. Edd tries cheering Eddy up by saying fads come in a cycle and that they'd be back in style in ten years. Ten years after that episode aired The Movie ended with the Eds being accepted by the kids of the Cul-De-Sac.
Optimus Primal of Beast Wars said as Dinobot's eulogy "May his spark join the Matrix, the greatest of Cybertron" for his Heroic Sacrifice in Code Of Hero. Years later, when they had the Transformers Hall Of Fame and would induct memorable Cybertronians based on fan votes, with the rest being preselected, Dinobot was one of the choices, and beat out G1 veterans such as Soundwave, Grimlock, Jazz and Shockwave, truly joining the Greatest of Cybertron.
To add to this, he was the first fan-inductee and a massive underdog candidate. The Greatest of Cybertron will be joining him, as well.
In the Recess episode "Buried Treasure" we hear Principal Prickly on the phone with a friend from school. After the events of the movie where we learn how much Prickly misses his childhood, it becomes incredibly heartwarming that he is still in touch with his best friend forty years later.
In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, an early episode called "Griffon the Brushoff" involved Pinkie Pie throwing a party for a bullying griffon, hoping to "turn that frown upside-down". Fast-forward to season two where Pinkie sings a song about how much she honestly and completely loves making people smile and brightening up their days with parties and play.