Tear Jerker / Peanuts

  • Charlie Brown's failures at something become expected after a while, but when you keep seeing it for decades, and even up to the strip's end, you tend to really feel disappointed.
    • One of the most heartrending examples is one of the simplest – when Charlie Brown is at a bench at lunch all alone and sees the Little Red-Haired Girl and he can't get the nerve to approach her:
      Charlie Brown: It's stupid to just sit here and admire that little red haired girl from a distance. It's stupid not to get up and go over and talk to her.
      [stands up]
      Charlie Brown: It's really stupid! It's just plain stupid; so why I don't I go over and talk to her?
      [sits down in utter personal defeat to the point of tears]
      Charlie Brown: Because I'm stupid.
  • The strip where Peppermint Patty tells Linus how she broke down crying when seeing the Little Red-Haired girl is devastating, especially since that's all that happens in that particular strip; there's no punchline or "smiles-through-the-melancholy" comfort to ease how unhappy she is:
    "I stood in front of that little red-haired girl and I saw how pretty she was... Suddenly I realized why Chuck has always loved her, and I realized that no one would ever love me that way... I started to cry, and I couldn't stop. I made a fool out of myself, but I didn't care! I just looked at her and I cried and cried and cried... I have a big nose and my split-ends have split-ends, and I'll always be funny-looking and I think I’m going to cry again..."
  • Schulz's death.
    • He ended the strip in a proper send-off strip to his newspapers and viewers. It was a coincidence that the last strip went out mere hours after he died, but it's too easy to believe it wasn't. He knew his health was failing anyway so he probably planned the strip at the right time semi-accurately.
      • He might not have realized just how quickly he was fading. Hours before his death, he had spoken on the phone with Bill Meléndez about a new TV special to be called Marbles (this could either refer to Snoopy's eponymous brother or, more likely, the 2006 special He's A Bully, Charlie Brown, which involves a game of marbles), and they planned to meet the next week at Schulz's Santa Rosa studio to hash out the idea further.
    • Here's the last strip. If you had ever been alive and seen a comics page before the year 2000, it should have been enough to bring a tear to your eye. If you had grown up as a fan of the series… Let's just say that five generations of American comic readers all wept from the sheer emotion of it all the day this was published.
    • One interview late in his life was recorded on video and it was played on news channels right after his death. When talking about the characters, he said that Charlie Brown never got to kick that football… and then he repeated it… and then cried. For a minute straight. It shows just how much the characters were really the most important part of the job to him.
    • After his death, more than 50 of the greatest newspaper comics creators at the time got together and agreed to include a Peanuts reference in each of their comics, all timed to appear on the same day. More details can be found here.
    • The last line of Schulz's biography: "Charles Schulz died the night before his final Peanuts strip was published. When Sparky ceased to be a cartoonist, he simply ceased to be."
  • A Boy Named Charlie Brown can be this, knowing that he came so, so close.
  • The Sunday strip that ran one day before the last daily strip. This is the final appearance of Peppermint Patty and Marcie, and it's impossible to not read meaning into the final exchange between them:
    Marcie: Everyone's gone home, sir. You should go home too, it's getting dark.
    Peppermint Patty: We had fun, didn't we, Marcie?
    Marcie: Yes sir, we had fun.
    Peppermint Patty: Nobody shook hands and said "Good game".
    • The last new Sunday strip, which is also Sally's final appearance, has a similar wistfulness. Charlie Brown is cleaning their mailbox for a love letter he knows will never come, when the rain returns…
      Sally: Aren't you going out to get the mail?
      Charlie Brown: Not while it's raining. When it's raining, the only letters you get are the ones that say, "I never want to see you again!"
      Sally: You seem to know a lot about love letters.
      Charlie Brown: If I ever got one, I don't know what I'd do…
  • Lucy's Heel Realization in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
  • The ending of the "Baseball Game" sequence in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, where Charlie Brown writes to his pen pal about the baseball game he lost, only to mournfully write a new letter with a completely different subject while he fights back the tears.
  • Any time Charlie Brown is the victim of bad luck. For example, Charlie Brown not getting any valentines, not getting an egg from the "Easter Beagle", being unfairly blamed for losing the homecoming game, and having his dream girl stolen from him twice (the first time by Linus, the second by Snoopy). It becomes bittersweet when he actually DOES win a motocross race.
  • The occasional references to Peppermint Patty's Missing Mom. A self-described "latchkey kid," she frequently loses sleep waiting for her dad to come home, causing her to zonk out in class. Schulz never specified whether her mother was dead or simply missing from her daughter's life; to a query on why she can't stay with her mother while her father is out of town, she replies with a simple, "I don't have a mother, Marcie!"
  • Most of the strip's storylines put Charlie Brown through the wringer, but a few stand out as exceptionally cruel. One of these is the two-week arc in which the gang, egged on by Linus, decide to throw him a testimonial dinner to show their appreciation for all he does as the manager of their baseball team. When Charlie Brown gets the news (via a phone call from Peppermint Patty), he's so surprised and delighted ("I'm smiling!!!") that he looks, in Sally's words, "like [he] just swallowed a chocolate cake." At the eleventh hour, however, the kids realize they're being hypocritical—they all think he's a terrible manager and player and they can't say otherwise and maintain their integrity. They proceed to call off the dinner moments before it begins, leaving Charlie Brown (in the last panel) besuited and alone at a table, surrounded by balloons and streamers.
    Charlie Brown: I would have enjoyed even a hypocritical dinner.
  • The 1990 TV special Why, Charlie Brown, Why?, which tells the story of a pretty little girl named Janice, who not long after becoming friends with Linus, is diagnosed with leukemia. Linus is especially hit hard as he has gained feelings for Janice, and is scared over whether she will survive her illness. Throughout the show, Janice suffers a number of health setbacks, endures bullying from a classmate (who until he is told to walk a mile in her shoes refuses to understand her illness) and a lack of empathy from Lucy (she "fears" that Janice's illness will spread similar to how the common cold does) and jealousy from her older sister, who is healthy. Eventually, there are tears of joy as Janice returns to school with a full head of hair — she had lost her hair earlier due to chemotherapy — and the long, blonde hair returns in its full health. The special ends there and Janice appearing to be in full health, but as her future is not told it leaves ambiguity and her future to the imagination of the viewer: Either the future is an averted trope with Janice continuing to remain healthy, or a full-effect tearjerker as Janice's illness is terminal and that she and her parents have decided to stop treatment, knowing that death is imminent. Indeed, Janice is a one-time character who is neither seen again nor referred to in future specials.