Tear Jerker: The Golden Girls

  • Rose's desperation in 'Job Hunt'. It hits home even more now in these times when many people over 50 find less and less companies willing to hire them.
  • The Mother's Day episode where Rose encounters an elderly woman going home to visit her daughter. It turns out her daughter is dead and she visits her grave every Mother's Day.
    • The fact that Rose poses as her daughter just so that she isn't sent back to the retirement home - just long enough for her to escape the police.
  • The episode where the other girls give Rose a dog for her birthday. Hospital volunteer Rose ends up giving the dog to a man whose wife has just died, which doubles as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
  • The Whole Episode Flashback about celebrating birthdays. Rose celebrates her last birthday in St. Olaf, talking to her late husband Charlie as if he's there, telling him goodbye.[1]
  • "Ebbtide's Revenge," which deals with the death of Sophia's son Phil, is full of heartbreaking moments:
    • Dorothy is chosen to give the eulogy at Phil's funeral. As she does, she breaks down and starts crying as she says that she's angry at him, because this was the last thing in the world she ever wanted to do.
    • Behind the scenes, Estelle Getty became extremely uncomfortable after reading the script, as it called for her to make jokes about Phil's cross-dressing while standing at his casket. Getty actually called the showrunners and told them that she refused to do the scene, insisting that a mother would never act that way. This prompted the scriptwriters to make alterations.
    • The saddest moment of all, though, is the end of the episode. Sophia's relationship with Phil became strained after her married his wife Angela, and she rarely visited him—and her grandchildren—because of their feud. Sophia claims that the source of the argument was the fact that Angela's family never paid her dowry, which turns out to be forty-seven dollars; Angela writes a check to cover the amount, but Sophia still acts snide toward her. Surprisingly, Rose coaxes the real reason for Sophia's anger out of her: it turns out that she was actually deeply ashamed of her son's cross-dressing, and blamed herself for what she considered a "problem." Rose tells her that Phil's tranvestism wasn't anyone's fault, and that it's perfectly OK for Sophia to have loved Phil even though he wasn't "normal."
    Sophia: I did love him. He was my son...my little boy. But every time I saw him, I always asked myself...what I did, what I said, when was the day I did whatever I did to make him the way he was.
    Angela: (moving to embrace Sophia) What he was, Sophia, was a good man.
    Sophia: (completely breaking down) My baby is gone...
  • Also the episode "Not Another Monday" - The conversation between Sophia and her friend Martha, who has been contemplating suicide.
    • As Martha and Sophia talk.
    Martha: No, I want to go. Lydia looked so peaceful. [takes hold of the pills]
    Sophia: [immediately grabs the pills] We're not in this life for peace!
    Martha: You're crying.
    Sophia: No, I'm not, I don't cry.
    Martha: I can see your tears!
    Sophia: And I can see yours, you know what that tells me? You're not as ready to die as you think you are. You still wanna live, kid!
    Martha: Some kid! I don't know what to do.
    Sophia: That's the point. If you're not sure, then you can't change your mind tomorrow. You wanted me to be there for your death. How about letting me be here for your life?
    Martha: Like a friend?
    Sophia: Like a best friend.
    • The end of the episode also qualifies. The girls have been looking after a neighbor's baby, and just before the parents arrive to pick him up, Sophia asks for a few minutes alone with him. She picks up the child and begins talking to him, telling him that while life is going to be difficult, it's always worth living. Seeing a great-grandmother speak to a child who she mostly likely won't live to see grown up is touching, especially when you consider Estelle Getty's later coming down with dementia.
  • "End of the Curse" - Blanche is going through menopause and spirals into a depression at the thought of getting old. The girls take her to see a therapist, where she reveals that getting old absolutely terrifies her. When she talks about sometimes seeing her mother's face instead of her own in the mirror tugs at the heartstrings:
    "You know, sometimes, I look in the mirror, and I see my mother's face. Not all the time, just every now and then, when the lights too bright, or too early in the morning, or late at night, or I look real fast. There it is - my mother's face. Scares me to death [chuckles nervously]. It just scares me to death. I just get so depressed I don't want to get out of bed in the morning...I don't want to get out of bed ever again."
    • Thanks to Fridge Depression, the above gets much worse if you've watched the later episode "Mother's Day", where we find out what happened to Blanche's mother - before her death, she was living in a retirement home with Alzheimer's and had trouble remembering who she even was. This is what getting old means to Blanche, and why the thought of seeing her mother's face instead of her own scares and depresses her so much.
  • Blanche saying goodbye to Big Daddy: "I'm nobody's little girl anymore..."
    • Another from when Blanche says goodbye to Big Daddy: "I don't know if love can help you wherever you are, but if it can, then, honey, you got it."
    • That episode had a number of Tear Jerker moments around Blanche. The last time she speaks to Big Daddy she's more worried about planning a festival and doesn't believe he sounds that sick. When she gets the news of his death, Blanche thinks he's just faking to get attention from her, until she breaks down crying wondering why she didn't go to him. And then, after returning to her childhood home for the funeral, Blanche gets into an argument with her sister Virginia and refuses to go to Big Daddy's funeral out of spite, missing her last chance to say goodbye to him face-to-face.
      • After getting the call about Big Daddy's death, Blanche cheerfully recalls how Big Daddy used to put ketchup on his lima beans before breaking down and sobbing her eyes out.
    Blanche: He always made everything sound... so damn special... oh God, why didn't I go when he called?
  • Shortly after Big Daddy passes away, Blanche's "Mammy" (her nanny and best friend from childhood) comes to visit after having left Blanche abruptly and not showing her face for forty years. She asks for Big Daddy's old music box, which was a gift from her, revealing that the two were having an affair. Blanche refuses, demanding an explanation as to why her Mammy had just left her alone. Her Mammy reveals that Big Mommy found out about the affair and furiously kicked Mammy out of the Hollingsworth household, but she was always around for Blanche's life, unseen:
    Mammy: I remember a wedding. Most beautiful young bride I ever did see. The song was Tennessee Waltz. You asked them to play it twice so you could dance with your daddy for as long as possible.
    Blanche: ...how do you know that?
    Mammy: I stood in the back by the caterers, so nobody would see me. You have no idea how much I wanted to just hug you.
  • The final scene of the original series, where the girls say goodbye to Dorothy.
  • The episode "Old Friends" where Sophia makes friends with Alvin on the boardwalk. The final part is funny, sweet, and tear jerking all at the same time:
    Sophia: Hey! Someone's sittin' there!
    • It really becomes a tearjerker when you learn about how Estelle Getty came down with dementia, what Alvin was suffering from in this very episode.
  • In one episode, Sophia learns a friend from Shady Pines named Lilian has been transferred to Sunny Pastures, which Sophia explains is the bottom of the barrel for nursing homes. It turns out she's not exaggerating, although we learn this is because it doesn't have enough funding and the guy who runs Sunny Pastures is trying to do the best he can despite the aggravating bureaucratic procedures it takes to the run the place. Sophia conspires to break Lilian out, and does, but we learn that she's genuinely senile and suffering from either dementia or Alzheimer's. Sophia is running herself ragged taking care of Lilian, until the girls manage to find a better nursing home for her. Dorothy comments that everything worked out okay... but wonders why she doesn't feel better. Blanche mentions something along the lines of "because there are places out there that are worse than Sunny Pastures and Lilian just got lucky."
    • Made even worse in hindsight because Blanche is still right. Especially in Florida, which has a very high retiree population, the state of most nursing homes is closer to Sunny Pastures' example than anyone would like. The lawsuit deluge of recent years has arguably made it worse by driving malpractice insurance costs up even further, and most legislation designed to punish negligence is questionably effective at best.
  • Miles leaving after it's revealed that the criminal he's been hiding from isn't actually dead. He rushes out after he says goodbye, and leaves Rose his Robert Frost poetry book, telling her to think of him when she reads a certain page. She immediately does:
    "And when to the heart of a man, was it ever a less than a treason?/To bow and accept the end of a love, or of a season?"
  • The entire third act of "Brother, Can You Spare That Jacket?" where the girls go to a homeless shelter to find a jacket with a winning lottery ticket in the pocket. While searching, they have various discussions with the homeless, including a woman Sophia knows from Shady Pines, learning that homelessness can affect anyone. When they do manage to find the ticket, they give it to the shelter, thanking the priest in charge for everything.
    • The version of "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime" played while the girls search the shelter, juxtaposed with shots of the residents of the shelter (including a mother and her young children), only adds fuel to the depressing fire.
    • The person in the homeless shelter that Blanche meets. He was staring at her purse, and she quickly snapped at him. He said he was wondering if she had any gum; she apologized and they begin to talk. He tells her he doesn't really belong there; he's actually a sociology student studying the homeless for his doctorate. Blanche warms up to him and mentions how he seems more like her own son than a typical homeless person. Then, he let's the masquerade fall: He already has his doctorate, but he still needs to stay in the shelter because he's an alcoholic. He ends by telling her to be extra careful with her purse, since he didn't really want a piece of gum. Sad enough, but when you think about how now youth unemployment (especially among recent college graduates with little to no job history) is currently twice the national average, it becomes eerily tragic.
  • Even this throwaway joke from the first season: Rose tells her daughter she keeps her will in the cookie jar. It's sweet and sad when you remember that Rose lost her Charlie...
    Rose: Whenever I caught your father in the kitchen, he was always in the cookie jar. This way, he still is!
  • The episode when Rose fears she may have HIV, seeing Rose (who is usually very cheerful and optimistic) feeling hopeless, terrified, and cynical is very sad.
  • When Dorothy announces she is remarrying Stan, Sophia tells her that if she goes through with it she'll cut her out of her life, and Dorothy is very hurt by this.
  • In "Heart Attack," Rose, trying to comfort Dorothy when she thinks that Sophia might be dying, tells the story of how Charlie passed away. At first, it's funny, largely because he had his heart attack while they were making love, and began to argue with Rose about dressing him in a pair of white pants, as it was after Labor Day. But then:
    Dorothy: And...?
    Rose: And...he told me he loved me...and...then it was over. And I put a pair of gray pants on him. And a blue shirt...and a striped tie. (Voice breaking) And he was all dressed when the paramedics got there.
  • Rose's breakdown over not being smart enough to keep up with her boyfriend Miles in 'Dancing In The Dark'.
  • The entirety of the last episode. Two lines from the episode include:
    Sophia: Goodbye, my girls.
    Dorothy: You will always be my sisters.
    • Stan saying goodbye to Dorothy.
    • Sophia actually intending to give Dorothy money.
  • The end of the episode "Mrs. George Devereaux" when Blanche wakes up and reaches her arm to the empty side of the bed, realizing it was All Just a Dream and George is still gone.