Yes, even Family Guy has moments that make you want to cry, despite being buried under Comedic Sociopathy. When the theme song says that it has "positively can do all the things that make us laugh and cry," they mean it.
- Family Guy of all shows pulled one off in the episode "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows". First, Brian convinces a shut-in to enjoy the outside world, only to watch as she gets hit by a truck. They then spent her last few moments on Earth imagining what their future would have been like together with a virtual reality helmet. Meanwhile, Peter is forced to release some swallows who have taken up residence in his beard, and to whom he had gotten rather attached. Seth MacFarlane himself said this is one episode that contains "real emotional content".
- In the otherwise hilarious "Road to Germany", the scene where nerdy Jewish Butt-Monkey Mort Goldman, transported back in time to Warsaw in September of 1939, dances happily— the only moment of happiness we've ever seen the character have— with all of his old relatives at a wedding while "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof plays, interspersed with the Nazi invasion. It was as though the writers were acknowledging that even a Black Comedy like Family Guy has to address The Holocaust with at least one moment of solemnity before getting back to Those Wacky Nazis.
- Quagmire's Baby. As one could probably tell, Quagmire gets a doorstep baby from one of the many women he slept with (though an earlier episode -- the first one featuring James Woods -- established that Quagmire knows he has illegitimate children somewhere in the world [including a 20-year-old man in Spain who lives with his mom and twin girls who now work as strippers], so why would be surprised about Anna Lee?). He gets rid of it, but finds himself attached to his child. The episode ends with Quagmire trying to get his baby back, but after observing her adoptive family's joy, decides it would be best to let her go. He still hasn't changed all that much (implying that he might have sex with her when she turns 18), but the moment is still surprisingly poignant.
- The Bird is the Word...
- Brian's efforts to get people to realize animals' lives are as important as those of humans in Dog Gone ending in utter failure.
- The scene pictured at the top occurs when, to prove that the Griffins love Brian, Stewie takes his collar to a bar and burns the bar down while a stray dog wearing the collar is inside. The firefighters are led to believe that the stray's burnt corpse was Brian thanks to the collar and give the news to the Griffins. Though the viewer knows that Brian is perfectly fine, it's still heart-wrenching to see the family's reactions.
- There is also the episode when Brian plans to give up his kidneys to save Peter after Peter's kidneys shut down from drinking a homemade energy drink with kerosene in it. And when Stewie finds out, besides the way he cries, he feels pain because he believes Brian would leave him alone in the world. Plus the scene after Brian first agrees to give up his kidneys and Peter just hugs him tearfully, stroking him silently as Dr. Hartman and a tearful Lois look on.
- In "Seahorse Party" (part two of the Seth MacFarlane hurricane crossover special, featuring The Cleveland Show and American Dad!) Meg's breakdown at her life as a Chew Toy. Especially all the Reason You Suck Speeches she gives to Chris, Lois and Peter about how much of a bunch of jerks they are. Even further is her acceptance at being a Chew Toy to keep the family from falling apart.
- The entire episode "Screams of Silence: The Story of Brenda Q.", but especially Quagmire's speech to his sister at the intervention.
"Brenda, the fact that you are being abused has affected my life in the following ways. The sister that I knew and loved growing up no longer exists. The person I see before me right now is just a punching bag. And I call you "person" and not "woman," because a woman is a strong, beautiful vibrant creature. A woman embraces life, a woman makes choices to make her life better. Sadly, the fact that you are with Jeff proves to me that you have made a choice to make your life worse. (tearing up) I...I want the girl who I grew up with back. I want...I...I want my sister back."
- And this is coming from QUAGMIRE. The same Quagmire who often slips roofies into his date's drinks, steals women's used shoes to satisfy his foot fetish, has a sex doll of Lois hidden in his bedroom that he uses as a Stalker Shrine, and doesn't use protection at all during sex (despite that he has every venereal disease known to man) actually cares about his sister and wants her to get out of being abused by her boyfriend.
- In "Amish Guy", Meg is told by an Amishman to stay away from his son. How does Meg respond? She actually cries. This even angers Peter!
- Followed by her getting pooped on by a horse.
- Then near the end, when Meg and Eli share a final goodbye.
- The episode where Peter gets a stroke and suffers just trying to live his life while his whole left side of his body is paralyzed. It was Peter's fault that he caused the stroke to himself by eating 30 hamburgers in one sitting, but for anyone who has or had a friend or family member suffering from a stroke, Peter's suffering can hit home.
Peter: I hate being all strokey!
- The "Lieutenant Shiny Sides" cutaway in "Meet the Quagmires" is played for slight laughs, but it's enough to tug at the heartstrings of anybody who had a pet they really loved and were in denial when it died.
Peter: (pouring fish food into an overflowing fishbowl) Here you go, Lieutenant Shiny Sides. It's okay, you don't have to eat it now. You're just sleeping. You'll eat it later... You'll eat it later, Lieutenant Shiny Sides! (dissolves into Inelegant Blubbering)
- In "Quagmire And Meg", nobody shows up to Megs 18th birthday party. It's sad because Peter and Lois actually feel sorry for her (even though the later episodes do show Peter and Lois as treating their children like crap — especially Meg, to the point that she may be mentally ill [a couple of episodes reveal that she cuts herself and hears voices in her head]). Lois even told Chris to pay kids from school to come.
- Peter killing Quagmire's cat on "Episode 420" note . The cat was one of the few things he loved other than women, and it's shown that he's clearly distraught about his disappearance (he didn't know that his cat was dead until the end when the main story about Brian's marijuana campaign fizzles out).
Quagmire: I'm raising the reward to 50 dollars for any information on James. No questions asked.Peter: (beat) (takes reward from him) I killed your cat. (slams door on him)
- Some scenes from "Brian and Stewie," particularly the revelation that Brian keeps a gun and a bottle of Scotch in his bank vault for when the day comes that he becomes so sick of living that he can have one final drink before he kills himself, and Stewie telling Brian that he's the only person he cares about in this world and he'd be lost if he died.
- Twelve-year-old Camilla Stull, who had fought a three-year battle with leukemia, had her dream of being an actress come true when Drew Barrymore introduced her to Seth MacFarlane and gave her a voice-over role in "Boys Do Cry". She died 13 days before it aired.
- Basically, the treatment of Meg in the later episodes of the show is a major tear jerker. It's pretty depressing how the majority of the world hates you for just being yourself and treats you like crap. Dealing with physical and emotional abuse daily can really hurt your self-esteem and sanity, which is why Meg shows tendencies of mental illness.
- Peter and Lois accidentally destroying Chris' self-esteem in "Space Cadet".
- Also Chris writes an essay about what his teacher does after school, saying that she eats a roll of cookie dough, throws it up and puts doll clothes on a sonogram picture.
- Brian's Break the Haughty moment in "Brian's Play". Brian's play was pedestrian and cheesy, but it was his and one of the few things he's made that other people actually liked. Yeah, him trying to hide that Stewie had real talent just so he could keep his delusions was a big dick move, but a lot of creators can empathize with him. You work and you slave, and even your best just isnt good enough, while others can just pull the damn Mona Lisa out of their ass like its nothing.
- Brian imagining what life could have been like as a puppy if he had gotten to stay with his mother and siblings while listening to Stewie singing Anne Murray's "You Needed Me" in "Chris Cross".
- Actually, it's rather vague about whether it was a Imagine Spot or an actual flashback Brian was having. One thing was for sure: it went well with the song.
- In A Fistful of Meg, after Meg was threatened to be murdered by Mental Mike in a fight, she goes to her mother for help. However, Lois coldly scoffs her for wanting to go to another school saying that it would cost too much, not noticing how she was clearly horrified for her life. Also in this episode, her own friends decided to steer clear of her leaving her alone to face her tormentor.
- Let's not even start talking about "Life of Brian". By now, you've probably seen enough on the internet to know how much of an offender to this trope that episode is.
- HOWEVER...all this it notably retconned Christmas Guy, in which Brian was saved from ever having been killed; since then, his death has been written out of the Family Guy continuity and has become much easier for fans to talk about — mostly in the form of angry protests that Seth MacFarlane toyed with fans' emotions or doesn't have the guts to radically change the show by killing off a main character.
- Let's not forget Vinny being in the theme for two episodes. Either people took it this way, or went into horrified shock over what they'd just seen.
- The episode where Brian is brought back in question has Stewie asking for Santa to bring Brian back for Christmas, as this will be the Griffins' first Christmas without him.
- Vinny's reaction to Stewie weeping for Brian, as he both feels sorry for Stewie and the fact that he'd never truly replace Brian. He even tries later on to emulate what Brian was like just to cheer Stewie up.
- Also, despite their short time together, Stewie saying goodbye to Vinny before leaving to save Brian was pretty sweet.
- From "Meg Stinks!"
- Peter telling Meg that he does love her (despite all the crap and abuse she has to take from him) and doesn't wish that she was never born.
- Peter crying when Meg tells him that she needs to grow up and go to college.
- The flashbacks in "He's Bla-ack!" of Cleveland and Peter's times together, complete with the melancholy rendition of Cleveland's theme song.
- Stewie's meltdown after Peter and Chris break the TV in "Chap Stewie" can be pretty heartbreaking to watch. Until he bites Lois, throws a picture against the wall, and headbutts Meg hard enough to break her nose, that is.
- Really, the second half of "The Simpsons Guy" in general. I'd been looking forward to the "vs." aspect as much as anyone...but the first half? It really naturally felt like the two families were what each other had needed for a very long time.
- The ending from "The Fat Guy Strangler" where Lois's brother Patrick, a serial killer who targets obese men due to childhood trauma, has a breakdown and begs Lois for forgiveness.
Patrick: I have to go back to the asylum, don't I?Lois: Oh Patrick, you're very sick, but you're still my brother, and I love you.
- The beginning parts of Brian the Closer is rather heartbreaking to watch and it's the fact that it was animal abuse Played for Laughs, especially with the fact that Peter caused Brian to lose all of his teeth and have his nose completely smashed. Worse yet, Lois', the usual Only Sane Woman, refusal to pay to treat Brian because he's not a human and laughing it off as if it was a joke, even though it was Peter's fault this happened? Dear God! How would you like to be deformed after an accident, be in need of medical help, and have your loved ones do that to you?!
Quagmire: I don't care enough to make fun of you.
- The fact it was QUAGMIRE of all people who helped Brian afterwards takes on a bit of fringe tearjerker and horror. This is Quagmire, the same one who openly said he once HATED Brian, actually doing something his own family refused to do. It's possible that he heard about how Brian lost his teeth and felt disgusted by his friends callousness. The fact that a known pedophile and the same one who once tried to take his life was more helpful than the family that's supposed to love him unconditionally....... And we're supposed to be CHEERING for the Griffins?! No wonder everyone hates them!
- More this troper thinks about it... Quagmire's line takes on a new level.
- It could show that Quagmire's done with the shit done by the Griffins altogether and now is just there to pick up the pieces after every time Peter does something that nearly kills one of his own.
- And yet then Brian goes around and stabs Quagmire in the back. It wouldn't be bad if it was Peter as a revenge ploy.... but this was a guy who helped him when Peter was the one who abused him. Yet he chose the one guy who ACTUALLY had the guts to help him and play him like that... heart wrenching.
- The fact that Joe is a Death Seeker. Although its mainly Played for Laughs (ex. when Peter rigs him to a harness and lifts him off the ground, he thinks that he's ascending to heaven and joyfully exclaims, "I died! I died!"), it's very depressing to know that he'd rather be dead than continue life as a paraplegic.
- The awful bullying/hazing that Joyce Kinney went through in her flashback. Imagine if you wanted to become a cheerleader, only to find yourself blindfolded and with a hot-dog stuck in your mouth and with your pants down on the floor, and with half the school laughing at you, to the point that you start crying.
- In Brokeback Swanson, it is rather heartbreaking that Joe became a quadriplegic after the bull run accident;and to add insult to injury, Bonnie leaves him because she does not want to take care of him.
- Right at the end of the episode Yug Ylimaf, it was slightly heart breaking when the Griffins leave the hospital with the newly born Stewie and Peter asks "Is he smart? Or is he.... like me?".
- In "Love Blactually", after Loretta wants Cleveland back and he gently turns her down, though saying he still loves her:
Loretta: Oh Cleveland, isn't there anything I can do to make you happy?Cleveland: Yes. You can live your life.
- In "Peter's Sister" it revealed that Peter got a jerkass sister name Karen who bullies him WAY worse than what he does to Meg. Karen calld him "Pee-Pee", tells embarrassing stories about him, and what worse is she humiliate him by almost breakimg his arms in her signature wrestling move "The Toxic Shock" which made him stuttered and pee his pants.
- His friends and family especially Meg out of all people feel sorry for Peter (despite how he treated her over the years). What worse is that Peter's parents didn't do anything to stop Karen from picking on Peter in childhood. To really drive it home, some peoples siblings really do treat them like that and then some.
- The very first episode "Death Has A Shadow", though heaped with Early Installment Weirdness, has a surprisingly earnest one from Peter. After he loses his job, and attempts tax benefit fraud to keep a roof over his head, he is sent to court. Lois, more outraged he lied to her than the crime he committed, shuns Peter the whole time, until she hears him cut the act and confess to the judge in remorse:
Peter: Okay, everybody, I feel really bad about what I did. I just... I don't know. I just saw one chance I'd ever have to give my family the things they deserve. I guess I screwed it up. I cheated the government. And worst of all, I lied to my wife. And she deserves better. I'm sorry, honey.
- "Death is a Bitch" has the Griffins (sans a gleeful Stewie) tearfully saying goodbye to Peter when Death comes to claim him.
- "Believe It or Not, Joe's Walking on Air" has Joe getting a swelled head due to a successful leg transplant. It's disheartening to see him pushing aside Peter, Cleveland, Quagmire and even Bonnie, to the point where all four attempt to re-cripple him so he'll stop acting like a jerk.
- "The D in Apartment 23" has Brian being kicked out by his family after making an offensive tweet which caused everyone in Quahog to hate him and his family. To put things in perspective, the fact that he is hated and shunned by everyone, even by his own family, makes this very disheartening.
- Though this is somewhat lessened by the fact that Brian never apologized for what he did, and think's it was just a small joke he did.
- In the episode, Dog Bites Bear, Rupert is violently chewed to pieces as if he were a mere chew toy. Needless to say, when Stewie sees Rupert's remains all strewn about the living room, he does not take Rupert's death well at all. Stewie becomes so mad at Brian, that he decides to end their friendship because of it. What makes it worse is that Brian knew that Rupert was very real to Stewie, he knew how much that stuffed bear meant to the toddler... and he just rips Rupert to shreds, anyway. They have a fight twice over it; once at home and on the mountains. Granted, on the way back to Rhode Island, Brian does buy Stewie a bear that looks exactly like Rupert (of course, Stewie never knew it was a replacement bear.)