Family Guyof 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. This editor found himself shocked at the fact that he was tearing up at an episode of Family Guy. Seth MacFarlane himself said this is the 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.
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.
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 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 fighting.
This speech from "Screams of Silence: The Brenda Q. Story":
"The person I see before me right now is just a punching bag. And I call you "person," not "woman," because a woman is a strong, beautiful vibrant creature. Sadly, the fact that you are with Jeff proves to me that you have made a choice to make your life worse."
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!
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!
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 one where Brian petitions Quahog to legalize marijuana. 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: Guys I'm raising the reward to $50 to anyone who can find James, no questions asked.
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.
Stewie Goes For A Drive: After 12 years of plotting and getting away with murder, there's something just unbearably tearjerking about Stewie's terror about how Lois and Peter will punish him for wrecking Brian's car.
Basically, the treatment of Meg in the later episodes (in the early episodes, Meg was just a generic teenage girl character that wanted to be like the popular kids and hated her family for being embarrassing and not letting her do what the other kids do) 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 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".
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.
Brian's death is even probably one of the saddest moments in the Western Animation history. What's especially saddening is the characters' completely heartbroken reactions; Stewie blames himself for what happened and Peter's eulogy at his funeral brings all the attendees to tears (except Quagmire, who is distracted by his cellphone). Brian may have been a divisive character, but one things's for sure, things are never going to be the same without him.
Brian: You've...you've given me a wonderful life. I love you all. (flatlines)
It does very sad the fact that rarely in cartoons applies death in protagonists or major characters (similar to Kenny's death in "Kenny Dies").
What makes even more heartbreaking is the fact that Brian was the only Stewie's friend that had in his life. If it makes you think about it, it's really, really sad, especially if you watch the "Brian and Stewie" special episode, where Stewie says to Brian that he is the only member of the family which he likes..
Peter and Lois crying and holding hands while watching Brian dying. Yes, Peter, one of the most sociopathic Jerk Asses in the show with Ax-Crazy tendencies, crying genuine tears of sorrow.
And lois, who, in many ways, is even worse than Peter.
Stewie is shaking in Lois's arms right after Brian flatlines.
Absolutely. Especially when you realize early on that Stewie destroyed his time machine, and it's revealed that the prime component needed to rebuild it is now impossible to get, so Brian may indeed be gone for good. Also, Stewie's later confession to the Griffins' new dog Vinnie that, even though he's a perfectly nice dog, he hates how accepting the family is of someone taking Brian's role. As often as Stewie has come off as an evil, grandstanding prick, this is one of those times where you can't help but want to give the little hellion a hug.
You're not supposed to lose your best friend when you're this young. (beat) You're not supposed to lose him ever.
What's even more heartbreaking is Meg's reaction. The ultimate Butt Monkey, of the show, she has no friends, and Brian was one of the only people who shared some moments with her (like trying to get him to find religion). To hammer this point in further, she's the one who asks if Brian's going to be alright, because she has no one else. And after he dies, Meg is sobbing, and, in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming Chris puts his arm around her. That's right, someone actually comforts Meg. Meg is now a Woobie, Up to Eleven.
And Vinny (voiced by Tony Sirico) relating to Stewie about losing his owner, deciding that he and the Griffins were meant to find each other, and volunteering to sleep next to Stewie that night? Fuggedaboutit.