- A minor example, but damn did the show hammer home the "pets are family too" theme in episode 4 of the first season. Watching a dog die on camera right off the bat is hard, but then comes the Happier Times Montage...
- Even sadder is at the very end of the episode when Junko, the dog's owner, prays to her family and basically tells them not to wait up for her in Heaven . . .
- Episode 12 of Season one begins with a hikikomori, Sawai Akane, who wants to send her teacher to Hell because he kept on trying to get her to go back to school instead of understanding her like her online chat-friend. She eventually does go back to school, though her classmates are whispering behind her back that she should have stayed home, and even writes a happy message to her net-friend... who turns out to be the same teacher. He didn't know who she was, and fortunately, she believes him and they make up. She admits to the teacher that she wrote his name into the Hell Correspondence, and he says he actually WANTS to go to Hell, because his life is so boring and mundane and he can't put up with it anymore. She is hesitant, but eventually, she does do it. On the way to Hell, Enma Ai gives the teacher a What the Hell, Hero?, explaining what'll happen to Akane just because of the teacher's ennui and selfishness. He of course repents and Akane can be heard asking the teacher to wait for her down there. (To add another layer of tragic, their meeting is unlikely, because Hell IS a vast place after all, as Ai herself says in the very next episode.) After the teacher is taken to Hell, Ai asks her grandmother if it's alright for someone to actually wish to go to Hell like it was Heaven...
- In Episode 13:Purgatory Girl, we come across an elderly man by the name of Fukumoto, who, by all means, was a pretty decent guy in his youth, had a rather nice occupation writing and illustrating stories, and very much loved his wife but that all changed when his friend and colleague, Okuchi, raped his wife, the incident leading to her suicide. The incident sent him so far over the edge that he decided to use the Hell Correspondence and took his revenge, leaving him regretful ever since. He then goes on to tell how he tried his hardest to take his mind off of what was to come and he's just so resigned. Typically, Ai doesn't display emotions, no matter how one would slice it but, in this case, once could say that she does, as, through the paintings, she cries for Fukumoto.
Fukumoto: Even after all I've done, you'd still weep for me....
- Episode 14 is miserably depressing. A girl's father dies after finding evidence a popular mayor was colluding with the local mob, and it's covered up as a suicide. Her attempts to force the mayor to admit otherwise get her turned into the local pariah, which is the driving force behind her contacting Enma Ai. Hajime shows up to try and stop her from using the doll, digging up the mayor's side of the story: that he only made concessions to the mob to keep them from tearing down a home for the elderly to turn it into condos, and someone acting on his behalf (but not his orders) may have done the killing. True or not, Hajime almost succeeds in working out a deal between the mayor and the girl, when the mayor's asshole son ruins it all by trying to bribe her off and insulting her father's memory in the process. Driven by despair, she pulls the string, the mayor is sent to hell (expressing his regrets that he can't at least still make the apology to the girl), the home for the elderly is closed without him around to support it, the girl's still a pariah, and nobody gets a happy ending.
- Episode 16 is about a circus where a girl contacted Enma Ai. When Tsugumi and Hajime show up and try to talk to the girl, they find a pampered little princess, the favourite of the director. They have to leave, finding nothing, but then Tsugumi gets another vision about the girl being beaten like she is every day. Hajime, who noticed no marks on the girl he met, realizes they are twins, and they rush back to warn the director... but it's actually the twin that is being taken to Hell. We find out from flashbacks that they used to be close but then one turned on the other to be the favourite, and the one who betrayed her sister claims she did nothing wrong as she just wanted to be her own person instead of one half of a set. In the end, the previously neglected girl becomes the favourite of the director and is seen smiling.
- Episode 17, features an Ill Girl named Nina, who was abandoned to die in a sanatorium. Her memories and her desperate longing for her father who never came back for her turned her doll into a youkai, who, even after her master's death, continues to wait for her "father"'s return. In the end, Ai helps the doll discover the truth, and as her memories return and her illusions fade, the doll disintegrates in Tsugumi's arms.
- Episode 18 of season 1 is just devastating. A friendless, lonely girl's beloved Welsh Corgies bite a bitter, evil, and very paranoid old woman who proceeds to enslave the girl and holds the dogs hostage; she threatens to kill them if the girl doesn't do what she says. After the hag kills one of her dogs, the girl contacts Hell Correspondence. However, she hesitates, and she is rewarded by having the old woman kill her other dog. It gets even worse. The second dog had just recently given birth. And yes, the puppies are all killed too. That's right, the girl loses her only two friends and any chance of saving their babies, all because she's hesitant to pull the string. She finally does so... after the woman is arrested for the murder of her parents and infant son, whom she killed to avoid having to share her vast fortune.
- Episode 23 of Season 1 is particularly infamous among fans for its ending. The kindly young nurse is sent to hell by some random drug addict on the street, who she'd never seen in her life, and who did it just because he could. Even Ai's assistants are shaken by this.
- The end of the Season 1 finale is part Tear-Jerker, part Heartwarming. To sum up: Tsugumi refuses to send Hajime to hell, despite Ai's attempts to manipulate her with twisted memories of her mother's death. She then proceeds to tell Hajime how happy she was to be with him and go places and do things together, like eating dinner or even watching TV - how she's happy just to have him, even though her mother is gone.
"I miss Mommy. I'll always miss her. But Hajime...Daddy...I'm okay because I have you."
- This exchange becomes even more of a Tear Jerker come Season 3, where we learn from the now-adult Tsugumi that she and her father have drifted apart and lost touch, and that he basically became tired of trying to convince people not to condemn themselves to Hell.
Second Season (Futakomori):
- Episode 11 of Futakomori . A woman wants to adopt a stray cat that's been hanging around her apartment, but a reclusive neighbor begins harassing her, telling her to leave the cat alone. When the harassment becomes too much to bear, (and, after thinking that the neighbor has killed the now-missing cat) the woman sends her neighbor to hell. It's only after entering the reclusive neighbor's apartment that she discovers the cat alive and well and the walls covered with cat photos. The neighbor actually loved the cat, but was too shy to tell the woman that the cat belonged to her. The sadness of this episode comes from realizing that a pet could mean so much to a miserable lonely human being, and that the misunderstanding which ultimately led to two people being sent to Hell, could have probably been cleared up if only the reclusive neighbor had spoken up about owning the cat, instead of turning to threats and harassment.
- Episode 13 ends with one. The man who contracted them was a serial killer who wanted revenge on some guys who just wanted to appear on camera when TV crews were reporting on the accident that resulted on the death of his wife and son, and his daughter entering a coma. Pretty petty, huh? But wait for it. He still has hopes that his daughter will awaken someday (she's been in the coma for five years), but having contracted the Hell Correspondence to take out the last guy, he was resigned to go to hell and atone for his sins. But the catch is: when you go to hell due to using Hell Correspondence, the only thing that grants you access there is having sent your foe there. And nothing else. The murders he committed will be paid another way. And this way is: he's going to jail, with what little life is lhe has left, just as his daughter is awakening from her coma. So, even if he lives longer than his cancer would let him, he'll never see his daughter again. What the old man did is indelible, but still, damn did it touch some heart strings.
- When Hone-Onna goes to Ran in episode 16 to find her dying from being stabbed by the woman who used her. You see a small glimpse into Hone-Onna's back story as she helps the girl enter the woman's name into Hell Correspondence. After the revenge is acted out, she returns to find the girl dead. Hone-Onna gently closes the girl's eyes, telling Wanyuudo and Ren to leave her alone.
- Seconds after the candle with the girl's name has been lit, it burns out...
- And how was the girl used? First the guy she intended to use Hone-Onna's wara-ningyo on turns out to never have loved her: he only got close to her so she could give him vital information to embezzle loads of money from the account of the girl's boss. But before the girl gets desperate and is about to pull the string, an older woman appears and gives her an idea and opportunity to get back at the guy without the usage of the Hell Correspondence. The plan works, inasmuch as they get the money back, and the woman is adamant on splitting it fifty-fifty... but only so she can try to guilt the girl into keeping up working for her after the guy they tricked commits suicide. When the girl refuses and wants to turn herself in, the woman stabs her, saying she should have either blindly obeyed or never believed her from the start, because people are liars, especially women, and reveals she worked with several other young girls like that, and disposed of them all.
- Episode 17 of Futakomori is one of the saddest episodes of the season. A little girl named Nene contracted Ai to send her mother Honami to Hell because she believes, along with her paternal grandmother, that her mother killed her father. When Nene walks in on Honami in a confrontation with the grandmother in which harsh words about her father are exchanged, Nene runs to a bridge with Honami in pursuit. When Nene takes out the doll and threatens to pull the string and send her mother to Hell, Honami reveals that eleven years ago, she sent her husband to Hell to put an end to the violence and abuse he visited upon them both. She shows her daughter the black fire mark that all contractors with Ai receive when they've sent someone to Hell and then begs Nene not to pull the string — Honami is already going to Hell, but she doesn't want her daughter to share her fate. And then, to keep Nene from damning herself by pulling the string (and despite Ren's best efforts to save her), Honami throws herself off the bridge and into the streets below, meeting her fate with open arms.
- Hone-Onna's backstory, and just about everything about the episode where it's revealed.
- As for the backstory, she was a simple but hard-working girl called Tsuyu making paper balls, who fell in love with the son of a local lord. He swore to elope with her, and she said yes. When they left, however, he sold her to a brothel to be a prostitute A Genius Bonus Bit There, she made a friend and wanted to get that friend out of the brothel and into safety. But when the plan was about to commence, that friend betrayed Tsuyu since the friend had high hopes in a relationship with a rich customer, and thus, she was stabbed, thrown into the river and left to die. Lying there, Tsuyu was approached by several spirits of betrayed women, who entered her body, and made her into Hone-Onna.
- The last episodes for this season is a real avalanche of Tear Jerkers.
Third Season (Mitsuganae):
- Yamawaro's backstory in episode 17 is pretty damn sad. He was born as a mushroom spirit on a mountain, where he lived alone for a long time. When people did encounter him, they were frightened away by his appearance. Eventually, he finds a human family living at the edge of the forest. He finds it strange that there are people who are happy together and continues to watch them. The same year, their only child, Hikaru, goes missing and dies under mysterious circumstances. Many years later, Yamawaro returns to find them as an old couple with the husband researching an elixir of life to prolong his dying wife's life. Yamawaro appears to the wife, pretending to be Hikaru so that she could die happy. The husband immediately realizes that he's not Hikaru, but a supernatural being with the same appearance and asks to grow a fungus reputed to have healing properties in his body. Hikaru agrees, leading to the first form of the elixir which temporarily restores the wife's youth. This leads the wife to send Yamawaro away since she believes that her husband's experiments are endangering him. It also leads her to believe that her husband was the one responsible for Hikaru's death, which he wasn't. As such, she submits his name to the Hell Correspondence and in a tragic twist of fate, receives Yamawaro as the straw doll. Just as her husband completes the final version of the elixir, she pulls the thread even as Yamawaro begs her not to. The husband is sent to Hell and the wife dies right after as their house collapses into the swamp. All this because Yamawaro wanted an old couple to be happy in their final years.
- Mitsuganae Ep 25, Yuzuki's life, the entire thing.
- To wit, she had a happy family as a kid, but then her father, who was a bus driver, got into an accident and died of it, along with several of his passengers. Since the bus company declared the driver to be the one at fault, Yuzuki and her mother had a hard time, and the mother hardly had any job. When the mother got ill, Yuzuki tried to ask for help in vain. Thus, they ended up at the local shrine, hiding in the sanctuary until eventually the mother died. Yuzuki, despaired and alone, went back to their own apartment and died hugging her old teddybear. Seeing and remembering this, the Yuzuki we have been watching all season gives up all fight and accepts her role as the new Hell Girl.
- And then there is the very subtle instance at the end of the third season. One hopes that somehow, somehow, Tsugumi learns Fate can indeed be denied and that Yuzuki was, in the end, saved ... otherwise her walking away, her last shreds of hope in this bittersweet world finally battered into the dirt and ground away is heartbreaking.
Fourth Season (Yoi no Togi)
- Episode 1 starts like a usual school bullying episode, with the whole class writing crap about one of the girls in a chatroom. Then one of the more popular girls reaches out to the bullied classmate and makes another chatgroup to keep her too occupied to read what the class wrote, inviting a third friend into the chatroom. Turns out the whole bullying began because of a remark the popular classmate made about the main character always apologizing even when there is no need to which annoyed the poplar one. Why she reached out then? Because she honestly thought it would blow over in a few days but it has gone on for months with no signs of stopping and she never meant for it to go that far.
- Episode 2 has a boke and tsukkomi duo devolve into fighting, then making up... but the worst is that one of the girls is suicidal as it turns out and the other sends her to Hell not because she still bears any grudges, but as a Mercy Kill. Even worse, the one who made the deal is planning to join her in Hell shortly. Michiru even refers to it as a suicide pact.
- Episode 3 has a seemingly inescapable situation for two kids: their grandmother, mother, father and big sister are all unbearable, especially together at the dinner table. Then the mother sends the grandmother to hell, which results in the boy calling 3 people who all have grudges against his mother, father and big sister respectively and asking them to make a contract. They decline partly because they had no illusions about what these people were like in the first place and in part because they think the boy is just too cowardly to send one of his relatives. Then the cousin moves in who is an entitled and violent brat who beats the father and mother for them merely suggesting that he move home and he even rapes the younger sister.
- Episode 4 is tough to watch if you have elderly relatives, as it takes place in a nursing home where male staff repeatedly abuse the people living there, including tying one of them (who might be imagining that another old lady is her old classmate but otherwise couldn't hurt a fly and behaves almost like an excitable kid) to her bed. The head of the nursing home almost gets away with it too as for a while the lady who made the deal with Enma Ai (and who wrote down records of the atrocities but buried them) even forgets she made a deal as her mental state worsens. And she was getting along so well with Wanyuudo too...
- The kicker? One of the nurses who really takes the fate of their charges to their heart is Tsugumi. She's doing it because she feels that it's the only way she can use her life to help people, having been unable to stop them from making deals with Ai.
- Episode 5 has Michiru's backstory as one plotline and the fate of a modern family who once took some jerkish brats along in their car as the other.
- The modern plotline describes how the jerkish and irresponsible brats not only refused to fasten their seatbelt but were hanging half outside the car window while mid-travelling, which brought some very obvious consequences for them when the car crashed into the side of the road because one of the kids threw an empty soda can in front of the driver which got stuck under the break pedal. The grieving families of the kids shun the family, one mother even going as far as writing the only surviving child's name into the Hell Correspondence site... but she thankfully doesn't pull the string.
- Michiru's plotline features Michiru's dad doing good deeds for the community, which the landlord doesn't like, so the landlord's son and his buddies lure Michiru to a lake and want to drown her, but the unsteady ground collapses under them and they fall in themselves. Everyone blames Michiru and they turn on the family. They even conspire with the landlords to kidnap the girl and they keep her locked up, no food or water, for ten days in a shed. By the time her family finally finds her, she's half dead, and when the landlords realize they found the girl, they first kill the father in one hit, then lock the mother and Michiru in the shed and set it on fire. Michiru cursed them with her dying breath, which resulted in the whole village burning down, dooming her to take over Enma Ai as Hell Girl.