Tear Jerker: Sesame Street

  • I'll miss you, Mr. Hooper.
    • We'll all miss you, Mr. Hooper...
    • "You're right, Big Bird. It's... It'll never be the same around here without him. But you know something? We can all be very happy that we had the chance to be with him, and to know him, and to love him a lot when he was here."
    • When Big Bird says "Give me one good reason!" and you know that no one can, because there is no good reason. It just is.
    • Big Bird questions why this had to happen, and the only possible answer is both realistic and so very sad: "Because. Just because."
    • What made this scene so realistic, touching and emotional was indeed the genuine emotion shown by the adults as they comfort Big Bird in his realization that, indeed, his beloved Mr. Hooper was never coming back. The scene – done in one take and kept intact – showed that even adults (who fully understand the concept of death) cry and feel very sad when someone close to them dies, and that it is OK to cry, sometimes together, when something sad happens. Rumors have always been that the producer initially envisioned the adults keeping their composure but maintaining their comforting tone with Big Bird, but the original take was the only one done after it was realized the genuine show of emotion made the scene more realistic.
      • While it's unknown how true that rumor is, the first take was the only one they could use. In a 2006 interview Bob McGrath said they tried to do a second take but they only lasted a minute before they broke down.
  • Add to that Big Bird singing "It's Not Easy Being Green" to a recently deceased Jim Henson, and the Muppets win at making hard-hearted hannahs like me cry and cry and cry. The big gut-wrencher is right after he finishes...
    Big Bird: Thank you, Kermit.
    • That song is brought up in this Something Positive that somehow makes me laugh and cry at the very same time.
      • Jim's entire memorial service is this with a few Heartwarming and Funny Moments sprinkled in to make a thing of pure bliss.
    • Worse yet, Robin keeping the other Muppets together by singing "Just One Person" during the tribute the Muppets did as their first show after his death. I lost it when Kermit walked through the door at the end Just... here...
      • I lost it right before that, when, after spending most of the show trying to figure out who Jim Henson was and planning the big production number, Fozzie and the cast find out that Jim Henson is dead when reading fanmail from actual fans. Quite reflective of how one often admires the work but remains unaware of the man behind the work too late.
        Gonzo: But we were just getting to know him!
      • Not to mention two years later, Richard Hunt followed Henson to the grave which makes this scene more heartwenching.
    Scooter: Reading a fanmail Perhaps the substance of Jim Henson's genius was the ability to see wonder far off in crazy directions. And get people to follow him there.
  • The scene where Big Bird tells Snuffy that he has to go away, as he has been convinced by his friends that Snuffy doesn't exist... until he starts wiping away Snuffy's tears, and realizes that Snuffy must be real, as he's crying real tears.
    • This scene gets an emotional Call Back later in Follow That Bird where two children sneak into the tent where Big Bird is being held prisoner and wonder if he's real. Then they see a tear and remark that he must be real. Muppet magic.
    • After shooting the scene, the puppeteers removed their masks to reveal that they were both actually crying.
  • Some of the songs.
    • Well, I'd like to visit the moon...
    • It's not that easy bein' green...
    • This frog has to go his own way...
    • Darling, our marriage is doomed. Here stands your heartbroken groom... "Don't Walk" is a lesser example, but it still counts.
      • "One Way" as well, though it ends on a heartwarming note.
      • From the same album as "One Way" (1977's Signs to be exact), "Please Keep Off The Grass". Marilyn Sokol soars on vocals.
    • I'm a blue bird...from The Movie. Has been determined to be one of the top childhood-destroying moments in all of fiction.
    • A more obscure example: I think that it is wonderful...
    • A lot of the older songs in general can come to be this over time.
  • The "Gift of the Magi" Plot with Ernie, Bert and Mr. Hooper in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.
    • Particularly Bert and Ernie voluntarily bartering away their most prized possessions. You can practically see the internal conflict, and these guys are basically just socks with hands inside them! The Muppeteers are geniuses at conveying emotion without words. Fortunately, Mr. Hooper catches onto what's going on.
  • The 2012 passing of Jerry Nelson, after suffering from emphysema for several years. The Muppet fanbase immediately exploded in grief, and while it wasn't enough to level the death of Neil Armstrong (which happened just two days later) in the general media, the fans cared just enough to post oodles of tribute pictures, videos, etc. many of which can be found here.
    • The show's YouTube channel then proceeded to upload classic sketches featuring characters that Jerry had voiced, as well as a playlist with old and new clips. The main Henson Company did a similar trick, though it was mostly just the playlist with only one new upload (Fraggle Rock's "Petals Of A Rose").
    • And then they made a special tribute episode to Jerry, which Muppet fansite ToughPigs beautifully describes here.
    Joe Hennes: I have to admit, I got chills during Telly’s speech near the end, and then again when Chris read The Count’s final message. We all miss Jerry very much, and I like to think of him counting all of the people who care about him, and going on and on into the millions. I would gladly dress like a vampire, wear a fake beard, and claim to be The Count if he needed me. Like The Count in this episode, Jerry is sorely missed when he’s not here. But also like The Count in this episode, his legacy lives on in all of us. There’s a little bit of Jerry in us all, and a little bit of The Count too. I am The Count, you are The Count, and everyone who loved Jerry Nelson is The Count.
  • "I'm So Blue", sung by Big Bird in Follow That Bird. Buckets of tears and a definite need for a hug, even when watched as an adult. Poor Big Bird!
  • Kevin Clash, the performer of Elmo, was accused by a 24-year-old man to have had underage sex with him years ago. Despite the court discovering that the allegations were recanted a day later, this apparently prompted a different man to accuse him of the exact same thing after that. With his personal life getting in the way of Sesame Street's child-friendly message, Kevin Clash retired.
    • Clash was not just Elmo's performer, he also created other characters (such as Hoots the Owl, Baby Natasha and a whole host of additional Muppets). In addition, he was the show's Muppet Captain, a co-writer (being the head writer and director of Elmos World and its Spiritual Successor Elmo: The Musical), a co-producer, co-ordinator of international outreach programs and being responsible for training new Muppeteers. With all those roles gone, a big gaping hole is left in Sesame Street as the show has lost someone greatly responsible for its overall tone and direction - and morale is apparently so low on set that Sesame Workshop has resumed filming Season 44 with a therapist hired to look after the cast and crew. Elmo may have been a divisive character, but if that's not a Tear Jerker to a Sesame fan, old-school or new-school, I don't know what is.
    • In case the tears don't flow freely enough, go watch Being Elmo A Puppeteers Journey on Netflix or hunt it down somewhere. Every detail of his career right up to the incident (as the movie was made just before it) is covered. And how that all came crashing down... My apologies in advance for dehydration.
    • Not to mention that the show's resident Man of a Thousand Voices Jerry Nelson had passed away that August (see above). Sesame Street lost two of its brightest stars within months of each other. On the plus side though, as of 2014 Matt Vogel and Ryan Dillon are doing a fine job taking on Jerry's and Kevin's respective characters, with Dillon becoming the new permanent voice of Elmo.
  • The lyrics to "I Wonder 'Bout the World Up There" become much more poignant when you realize that this was one of Jim Henson's last performances - it was recorded just several months before his untimely passing. By the end of May 1990, Jim wasn't wondering anymore about "the world up there" - he was living it. The song was released eventually, along with several other unreleased songs and old favorites, on the 1991 "Jim Henson: A Sesame Street Celebration" CD.
  • Cookie Monster having a rather sad nightmare on meeting a giant, talking cookie, given the name "The Monster Cookie". As he tells Cookie Monster in his sob story, he used to be a monster, though he had been transformed into a cookie because he was on a cookie-only diet, and regrets that he never had carrots, fish, or bread. After this sad nightmare, Cookie Monster wakes up moaning, "What a dream! Oh, Very sad!" He then approaches a cookie and scolds himself to never eat cookies again, and eats carrots, fish, and bread, and then a cookie afterwards leaving a remark "Well, Maybe sometime a cookie!" The whole sketch is so over-the-top and dependent on the Space Whale Aesop that it's utterly fantastic. Props to Jerry's and Frank's impeccable performances.
    Cookie Monster: What happened next?
    The Monster Cookie: Then me started to break into chocolate chips!
    Cookie Monster: (Gasp) NO!
    The Monster Cookie: Then me brain turned into cream filling!
    Cookie Monster: OH NO!
    The Monster Cookie: Then me leave crumbs, Whenever me walked!
    Cookie Monster: And in other words, You did not exactly picture your health, right?
    The Monster Cookie: Right! And before me knew it, It was too late... Me transformed into a big monster cookie! (starts to cry)
    Cookie Monster: (also crying) It's a catastrophe!!!
  • An in-universe example occurs on one of the game show sketches, The Crying Game Show. In this sketch, host Sonny Friendly tells a contestant a sad story; the contestant that cries the hardest wins the game. Ultimately, the grand prize is Sonny Friendly's own teddy bear - causing Friendly to cry the hardest, thus winning the game. The contestants continue to cry after the announcer blurted that there are no consolation prizes. And all of this is Played for Laughs...
  • A Two-Headed Monster skit (the first in episode #2228) provides another in-universe example, where they're presented with the letters "S" and "AD". As the letters get put together into the word "SAD", they get all emotional. Like any time Muppet characters on this show cries, it straddles the line between funny and touching.
  • In general, any songs about the moon or space are this, helped by the fact that many of them are ballads.
    • The song "If Moon was Cookie," especially towards the end when Cookie Monster realizes that if he ate the moon, there would be no moonlight, and he couldn't look out his window at the moon ever again. Oh, *sniff.* Coupled with the simple, yet effective, instrumentation of the song and it becomes a thing of beauty. Just give it a listen.
    • "The Moon Shines" can have this effect as well, with the beautiful arrangement combined with the slightly Deranged Animation and Jerry Nelson singing in his kid voice.
  • Much of part 2 of the 2001 hurricane arc is this, especially Big Bird's reaction to his nest being blown away from the Hurricane from the previous episode (quoted below). Anyone that lost something cherished in a similar incident - especially their own homes - can definitely relate. There's a reason why all the street scenes from the hurricane week were compiled to help children cope with hurricanes and other disasters (not to mention several reairings after subsequent high-profile hurricanes).
    Big Bird: (Mourning) Oh, Gordon! My Home! My Nest!
    Gordon: Big Bird, It's gonna be alright.
    Big Bird: No, It is not!
    Gordon: You're right. You're right, Big Bird. It's not alright. But it will be all right.
    Big Bird: But what happened to my nest?!?
    Gordon: Well, the wind was too strong it blew it all apart. (As he comforts Big Bird) I'm with you.
  • The episode (made in the wake of the September 11th attacks) where Elmo becomes traumatized after a fire breaks out at Hooper's Store.
    Alan: It's okay. There's nothing to be afraid of. The chief said that the fire is out.
    Elmo: Elmo doesn't care, Alan! Elmo doesn't want to go back into Hooper's Store ever again!
    • Becomes heartwarming when the adults arrange a meeting with real firefighters who tell Elmo that there's nothing to be afraid of. They dedicated their appearance on the show to a comrade who passed away during the attacks.
  • Taking a nod from Mr. Hooper's death, there is a special that dealt with Elmo dealing with the death of his Uncle Jack, from Elmo's father remembering the good times he had with his brother when they were kids to cousin Jesse facing the fact that her father is gone for good. The special, entitled When Families Grieve, was nominated for a primetime Emmy, but lost to the only other nominee, a Nick News special about cancer.
  • The show has a resource kit for families with incarcerated parents. There's a little cartoon film about a girl and her family going to visit her father in prison. It might be the saddest thing in Sesame Street history. Well, one of them anyway.
    It's hard not to be able to touch or hug each other, but Daddy blows me a kiss. I tell him I'll save it for later. Before we know it, it's time to go already.
  • The song "The Ballad of the Sad Cafe" (released on the CD Elmo's Lowdown Hoedown) is an in-universe example, as it describes a cafe where cowboys and cowgirls let out their sadness.
  • On the street scene for episode 2402, the Two-Headed Monster's sobbing in failure at being unable to stop Irvine the grouch's tantrum (which had disrupted the former's lullaby on violin). Maria had said that a grouch baby isn't like a regular baby - Irvine always has a tendency to scream and cry a lot. The whole thing positions itself headlong into Narm Charm. Especially when coupled with Maria's comment on this situation:
    Maria: Now I have got three people crying... or is it two?
  • One of the Ernie and Bert skits features Bert feeling sad out-of-the-blue and to Ernie's confusion. He then proceeds to list the things that make him sad. Bert feels better, but Ernie doesn't by the end of it (First scene on episode #2621).
    • The old sketch where Bert reminds Ernie that he's special can have this effect as well.
  • Effective October 2014, Fran Brill, a fixture of the Muppeteer team since 1970, is retiring from the show. Unlike Kevin Clash, this was not due to a controversy, but rather because she was getting older - having turned 68 just two days before Stephanie D'Abruzzo confirmed Brill's retirement on Twitter - but still, it's hella sad to see yet another Sesame veteran leave the show.
    • The linked article has this to say for Brill:
  • The episode where Big Bird's Transatlantic Equivalent Abelardo comes to visit and they both end up losing each other. They then both sing a song, without realizing they're together.
  • Welcome Home Jerry.
  • Meta example: Jerry Nelson talking about Richard Hunt.
  • Watching a lot of the older (re: 70's-80's) sketches and realizing that most of the Muppeteers in them are gone now... Yes, Muppets live forever but unfortunately, the people below them don't.
  • Christopher Reeve appeared in The Nineties to talk about his wheelchair. Never has a celebrity's Sesame Street Cred been so uniquely moving.
  • Itzhak Perlman's appearance is another guest segment worth putting on this page.
  • Ray Charles singing his arrangement of the show's classic "Bein' Green" on the show.