In addition to the laughs, the awesome moments, the not-so-awesome moments, and the heart-warming moments, Springfield's dysfunctional yellow-skinned family (and the residents of Springfield at large) is bound to put us into helpless tears every now and then.
- The very first aired episode "Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire". After not getting his Christmas bonus, Homer attempts to cut corners at a cheap supermarket. He then sees Flanders buying lavish gifts for his family and chatting with his son about how this could be "the best Christmas yet". Sad music builds up as Homer gazes at the random junk he just bought his family and sheds a single tear at letting them down. And of him coming clean at the end, which is thankfully turned Heartwarming with the introduction of Santas Little Helper.
- Homer nearly being Driven to Suicide in "Homer's Odyssey" after failing to find a new job.
- "Moaning Lisa": Lisa, who has been depressed for days and finds a friend in Bleeding Gums Murphy, is told by Marge to repress her unhappiness and go out into the world smiling over nothing. When Lisa goes to school, boys being using her to do her homework and Mr. Largo (the music teacher) tells her to play the saxophone the way he wants her to play. Marge gets upset, drags Lisa back in the car, and tells her that she was wrong about being a Stepford Smiler and Lisa should be free to express her emotions, with Lisa finally smiling over the fact that someone now understands her. The saddest part is that Marge was really doing her best, the Stepford Smiler advice was the way she was raised by her own mother, and she doesnt know any better way of dealing with sadness.
- Also, Homer's realization after his nightmare:
Homer: You know Marge, getting old is a terrible thing. I think the saddest day of my life was when I realized I could beat my dad at most things, and Bart experienced that at the age of four.
- Also, Homer's realization after his nightmare:
- When Bart was about to get to bed in "Krusty Gets Busted", the news comes on and reveals that Krusty the Clown was arrested for committing armed robbery at the Kwik-E-Mart, but it was really Sideshow Bob in disguise to frame him. This shocks Bart massively, and after Homer confirms it due to being there (as seen below), he goes to bed in tears.
Bart: (Sobbing) Oh, Krusty, how could you?!?Marge: (As she comforts Bart) I know it's bad. But who knows, maybe it will turn that he was innocent all along.Homer: Earth to Marge, Earth to Marge, I was there. The clown is G-I-L-L-T-Y!note
Krusty doll: You're my best friend!
- After Bart went to his room, he pulls his talking Krusty doll.
Bart: Thanks, Krusty.
Krusty doll: Buy my cereal! (laughs) Buy my cereal! (laughs) I didn't do it!
Bart: I wish I could believe you, Krusty.
- "Bart Gets An F": The part where, after Bart goes through Hell to try and pass his history exam (even giving up having fun on a snow day so he can study), he still fails it. He breaks down crying, telling Krabappel that he actually studied and took the assignment seriously.
Bart: [In tears] No, you don't understand! I really tried this time. I really tried! This is as good as I can do, and I still failed...who am I kidding? I really am a failure.
- For this troper it really shows why the slightly rougher animation style worked so much better - just look at Bart's face as he starts crying. It actually crumples up like people do in real life with Inelegant Blubbering and it makes the scene so emotive given the context.
- Fortunately, it gets better when Bart cites that his failure was similar to one George Washington encountered in his defeat in the Battle of Fort Necessity, and Krabappel raises Bart's grade since he showed her that he did learn something. Then it becomes hilarious when Bart kisses Krabappel, shouts to the world that he finally passed a test, then realizes he kissed his own teacher and spits in disgust.
- From the same episode, Martin discovering that everyone laughs at him.
- Homer losing his hair at the end of Simpson and Delilah. He seemed so happy to have hair for the first time in years, then the promotions and wealth he gained from his looks all slipped through his fingers. It's no accident that he becomes insanely attached to his remaining three strands after that and bursts into tears whenever they're cut or plucked.
- "Bart vs. Thanksgiving" has Homer and Marge lamenting Bart running away and blaming themselves for how they acted toward him.
- Lisa alone in her room blaming herself for Bart running away. On top of that, Bart admitting that he doesnt know why he acts like he does, or why he'd do it again, it just happens. He doesnt set out to be bad, it just comes anyway.
- The season 2 episode "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" because Homer only had 24 hours to live and wanted to do everything he never got a chance to do which include: Having a man-to-man talk with Bart (and teaching him how to shave, with hilarious results), listen to Lisa play her sax (and singing along to "When the Saints Go Marching In"), and enjoy father-son time with Abe. It didn't help when it really looked like he had died in the middle of the night.
- And then, the ending finally manages to actually make you cry happy tears, as Marge does when she finds out that Homer is alive.
- The moment when Homer makes amends with his father and goes out playing with him, and another when he's tucking his kids in for the last time.
- And again when Marge reads Homer the poem she wrote for him.
- The family are at the table with Marge looking at the window hoping Homer would come soon. The kids asks why are they all dressed up and using the fine china, she just says "sometimes it's fun". When they ask why are they waiting for Homer, Marge says, nearly in tears, because they love him and would want to be with him. When Bart asks why are they really waiting for him, Marge is silent and resumes looking outside.
- Homer listening to the Bible on audiotape as he awaits the end. He isnt a very spiritual person, but even he wants to at least try in his last moments.
- In "The Way We Was", Homer being hopelessly in love with Marge, crying at the prom when she and Artie win prom royalty, and the very end, when Marge picks him up in her car.
Homer: How can the one thing I've ever been sure of be so wrong?!
- Old Money: The final scenes. Throughout the whole episode, we seem glimpses of the retirement home, and how it's run down and almost in shambles. At the end, Grandpa decides the best thing to do with the money he inherited from Bea was to donate everything to his retirement center so they can have money for better living conditions.
- The death of Bea and its immediate aftermath is shattering. Abe loses someone he could genuinely love, and he ostracizes Homer a result, as Homer's disappointing safari trip kept Abe away from the retirement home while Bea died.
Abe: You made me miss the last precious moments of Bea's life! I'll never speak to you again! I HAVE NO SOOOOOON!(A single tear rolls down Homer's cheek)
- From the same episode, the tragic and crushed way Abe says "They may say she died of a burst ventricle, but the truth is she died of a broken heart." With his borderline sobbing tone, even a cheesy line like that becomes tearjerking.
- The death of Bea and its immediate aftermath is shattering. Abe loses someone he could genuinely love, and he ostracizes Homer a result, as Homer's disappointing safari trip kept Abe away from the retirement home while Bea died.
- Four powerful, tiny little words from season 2's "Lisa's Substitute": You Are Lisa Simpson.
- Earlier in the episode, when Ms. Hoover mentions that Mr. Bergstrom didn't follow the lesson plan she'd left and asks Lisa what he taught her, Lisa says, through tears, "He taught me that life was worth living." It can really make you sob, especially if you've had an inspirational teacher of your own...
- This one line from, "O, Brother Where Art Thou?" It sums up all of Homer's feelings in finally finding who he was looking for.
Homer: "Because... I'm your baby brother, Homer."
- This just makes the ending even worse. Homer just wanted to help Herbert, he did exactly what Herbert asked him to do; design a car that an Average Joe American type would want, that would appeal to blue-collar guys like Homer... and the result is an ugly, ugly car that cost a disproportionate fortune to make, leaving Herbert bankrupt. His last words on screen are to venomously spit at Homer that he doesn't have a brother, and you can just see how all of this has crushed Homer.
- "Principal Charming": Skinner crying on the school steps after Patty (out of sisterly love) chooses to reject his marriage proposal.
- "Lisa, It's Your Birthday", for being only a minute long within the episode "Stark Raving Dad", can cause tears of joy out of practically anyone. It's now more depressing than it should be in light of Michael Jackson's death.
- In "Mr. Lisa goes to Washington", Lisa is all set to recite an essay about the birth of America when she sees a congressman taking a bribe and agreeing to level an entire forest. She's so horrified and disillusioned by it that she rips up her essay and runs away in tears.
- "When Flanders Failed," in general. Homer makes a Jerk Ass wish against Flanders, leading to him falling on hard times. Eventually, Homer starts to regret it and tries to give back the stuff he bought in Ned's garage sale, only to find that their house has been repossessed and they're spending the night in their car, building up to one of the most depressing conversations in Simpsons history.
Homer: Flanders, I want to give you your stuff back.Ned: Well, there's no house to put it in, Homer. Not since that nice fellow from the bank— who was only doing his job— came and locked it up.Homer: You're gonna live in your car?Ned: Oh, no. It's just a camp-out tonight then off to my sister's apartment in Capital City. What do you think, kids? The big city. (Kids cheer) Todd, I want to talk to your Uncle Homer. You're head of the car till I get back.Todd: Okay, Dad. Gray skies are gonna clear up! (Everyone in the car starts singing)Ned: Listen to that singing. Those poor fools. (Voice breaking) Homer, I'm ruined.Homer: (Somberly) I know.Ned: At times like these I used to turn to the Bible and find solace but even the Good Book can't help me now.Homer: Why not?Ned: I sold it to you for seven cents. You know, ever since that barbecue nothing's gone right. It's like there's been a curse on me.Homer: (Starts bawling outright) It's all my fault!Ned: (Also in tears) No, it's not!Homer: Yes, it is. (The two of them hug, weeping on each others shoulders)Ned: You tried to warn me about gambling my family's future on some pig in a poke. I didn't listen. Homer, you were a true friend.Homer: No, I was a swine.
- "Lisa's Pony": Lisa giving up the one thing she loves (a pony) after learning that Homer is taking a second job at the Kwik-E-Mart just so he can pay for the upkeep. Even the stern, British stable master was touched (even though she doesn't express it).
Homer: No wonder she hates me. Oohhh, I never even noticed she was alive.
- Also, the fact that Homer really wanted to make up for not getting Lisa's saxophone reed to her in time for the talent show by getting her the one thing she's always wanted (despite Marge's protests) and working himself to near self destruction is tear-inducing in that "That's very noble" way.
- His actions were spearheaded further after watching a home video of Lisa as a baby. He at first smiles at seeing his daughter starting to grow, until he notices he didn't pay attention to any of it. He replicates her disappointed mumble after he moves her out of the way of the TV while takes her first steps, and is in tears by the end of the movie, with him again ignoring her as she starts talking (for extra Fridge sadness, she's saying "Da-da").
- Krusty mournfully revealing that his father never accepted him becoming a clown and hated him for it, in "Like Father, Like Clown."
- "I Married Marge" has a lot of this. Homer tries and fails to get a job and support himself, Marge and their baby (Bart), and the real kicker comes when the baby's things are repossessed. And Marge's wedding ring. The letter Homer leaves behind for Marge is also incredibly sad, reducing Marge to tears (and Lisa in the present), but the last line is really heartbreaking. "You will not see me again until I am a man." Just think about that. Homer doesn't believe he is good enough for Marge or even worthy of being called a man, no matter what he does to try and show it.
- Possible happy tears may be shed when Marge and Homer reunite at the Gulp 'N' Blow, which only happened because Selma felt sorry for Marge. She may have hated Homer, but she still wanted Marge to be happy, even if it was with someone she personally disapproved.
- Homer's line to Bart, Lisa and Maggie at the episode's close is both this and Heartwarming: "You know son, the day you were born, I received the greatest gift a man could have. As the years went by, your mother and I were blessed twice more, and not a day goes by that we don't thank God for all three of you." Awww...
- At the end of the episode "Colonel Homer" after Homer leaves Lurleen Lumpkin, she goes on the TV and sings
Marge: I do.
- His name was Homer, he's quite a man, I tried to kiss him, but Homer ran, Sure wish I could say that I was his, I hope that Marge knows just how lucky she is
- The episode "Bart's Friend Falls in Love" from season three: When Samantha Stanky's strict and overprotective father discovers his daughter and Milhouse kissing in the tree together. Not only does he berate her, but he carries her away, as he tells her that he will place her in an all-girl school and that she will never see Milhouse again. The true stinger occurs when the two cry out each other's names. The music that plays when this happens only makes it that more heartbreaking, as Mr. Stanky angrily slams the car door shut and drives off, while Samantha presses against the window screen.
- But it doesn't end here. Milhouse's depression carries on through the rest of the episode, up until he snaps out of it to beat the crap out of Bart (who tells that he was the one who told Samantha's father about them). The next day, Milhouse and Samantha's brief reunion at her new convent school is cut short when the class bells rings and the girls have to go back in. After sharing one last kiss (in an all-girl Catholic school where the punishment kissing a boy is 50 rosaries, this means a lot), Samantha is never seen or mentioned again, while Milhouse harbors a hopeless crush on Lisa through out the rest of the series.
- Lisa being upset over her appearance in "Lisa the Beauty Queen" will affect those who have had self-esteem issues over their appearance (ditto for the subplot of "Sleeping with the Enemy" where Lisa purposely starves herself so she can lose weight in her butt, then at the end, tells Homer that her body image issues will never be resolved and that she'll still feel bad about the way she looks).
- The ending of "Lisa's First Word", in which Maggie says her first word, "Daddy". For context on why it's heartbreaking: all throughout the story, Bart and Lisa (as babies/toddlers) never called Homer "Dad" or "Daddy" and the one time a Simpson kid does call Homer "Daddy," he misses it (even though the writers on the DVD commentary said that they had to go through a lot of takes to make Elizabeth Taylor's "Daddy" line sound like something a one-year-old child would say and not a 20-year-old seductress perched on the lap of a squirming, blushing man as she's caressing his face and nuzzling his neck).
- Selma feeling sad that she's not mother material after her bad day at Duff Gardens on "Selma's Choice" (even Homer of all people holds her hand in sympathy when she laments that she couldn't care for Bart and Lisa during their disastrous trip), and the ending where she finally gets a "little version" of herself to love and care for — the pet iguana, Jub-Jub (that was originally given to Marge's mom, Jackie, but she tried to stab it with a hat pin.) For all post-classic Simpsons fans: this was before Selma adopted the Chinese baby on season 16's "Goo-Goo Gai Pan"
- "I Love Lisa" is Ralph Wiggum's Crowning Moment of Awesome. After Lisa humiliated him at the Krusty the Klown 29th anniversary special, he prepares to play George Washington for the President's Day show, with Lisa as his Martha. He tosses the valentine she gave him into the fire...and gives the performance of his friggin' life.
Ralph: (as George) Dear wife, if I could take but one treasure with me to the next life, it would be your tender kiss. (He kisses Lisa's hand and "passes on" as she weeps.)Selma: Mmmhmm... now THAT'S a man.
- George's final words:
- "Homer's Triple Bypass": Homer praying to God (before the nurse shushed him and pointed to the "No Praying" sign) to look after Marge and make sure Bart, Lisa, and Maggie grow up right should the worst happen to him.
- Homer coming to the defense of Flanders in "Homer Loves Flanders", after inadvertently causing the townspeople to turn on him. Having just loudly cussed Homer in church, - the climax of spending the episode trying to ward off Homer's new-found admiration. Flanders himself is openly moved and humbled by this unusually tender speech from his neighbor.
- When Smithers helps Mr. Burns write a love letter to Marge's mother, he comes up with something very heartfelt. Mr Burns asks Smithers how he was able to come up with such an amazing love declaration on the spot. Smithers reveals that he wrote the exact same thing for Burns. Heartbroken that Mr Burns doesn't remember (or possibly never even read) his love letter, Smithers runs away in tears.
- In "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song" Skinner, after being fired from Springfield Elementary, stares at the school sobs at the memories of the students. Even sadder is that it convinces him to re-enlist in the army because it was "the only thing besides school that has ever given my life meaning".
- And Maggie Makes Three: Homer quitting his beloved job as a Pin Monkey and going back to the Power Plant. Most heartwrenching is the guys at the alley pitched in and bought Homer a nice jacket as a going away present but the acid rain near the plant dissolved it immediately after he got it.
- In the same episode Bart asks Homer what he does with photos Maggie, since there never seem to be any around the house. Homer responds that he keeps them, "where I needs them the most." The scene then cuts to the reactor where Homer works. Above his workspace is a plaque that reads, "Donít Forget, Youíre Here Forever". Homer has partially covered the letters with pictures of Maggie in such a way that the plaque now reads, "Do It For Her." That's enough to make any dad tear up.
- In "A Star is Burns", there's (the unfortunately named) Pukahontas, the film Barney did about how his alcoholism has ruined his life (even worse when you realize that the season four episode "Mr. Plow" revealed that Barney was a Harvard-bound honors student studying for his SATs until Homer pressured him into trying beer, meaning that Homer ruined his best friend's life). Despite the funny part where he mistakes Lisa's Girls' Scout meeting with an AA meeting, the rest of the film is very depressing and shows a dark side to Barney's alcoholism. Made worse by the fact that the prize Barney recieves is a lifetime supply of Duff Beer.
Barney: "Don't cry for me. I'm already dead..."
- Homer's speech to Lisa before her wedding, in "Lisa's Wedding"
Homer: Little Lisa, Lisa Simpson. You know, I always felt you were the best thing my name ever got attached to. Since the time you learned to pin your own diapers, you've been smarter than me.Lisa: Oh, Dad...Homer: No, no, let me finish. I just want you to know I've always been proud of you. You're my greatest accomplishment and you did it all yourself. You helped me understand my own wife better and taught me to be a better person, but you're also my daughter, and I don't think anybody could have had a better daughter than you...Lisa: Dad, you're babbling.Homer: See? You're still helping me.
- Whether you love or hate Bleeding Gums Murphy, "'Round Springfield" is one of those episodes that would make you cry a lot if you were Lisa. The "Jazz Man" song can also make one burst into tears.
- On "Mother Simpson", the ending image of Homer sitting alone on the boot of his car for hours, well into the night, is possibly the saddest image ever seen (beaten only by the end of Futurama's Jurassic Bark).
- There was also this fact. At that time, Fox started ending shows with split-screen credits with ads for Fox shows playing over it. The Simpsons staff had to fight tooth-and-nail to have the full studio credits play over that beautiful shot — and they got it.
- This exchange between Homer and Marge:
Marge: I just don't think you should get too excited about the woman who abandoned you for 25 years. You could get hurt again.Homer: First, it wasn't 25 years — it was 27 years. And second, she had a very good reason.Marge: Which was...?Homer: [pause] I dunno. I... guess... I was just a horrible son and no mother would want me.Marge: Oh, Homey, come on. You're a sweet, kind, loving man. I'm sure you were a wonderful son!Homer: (unhappy) Then why did she leave me?
- When Mona told the family about when she had to leave and the scene where she gave a sleeping Homer one last kiss on his forehead and walked away saying she'll miss him was just heartbreaking. We flashback to the present, with Homer saying he remembers her kissing him, but thought it was a dream.
- In Marge Be Not Proud, after Bart is caught shoplifting the video game Bonestorm, Marge freezes him out of family activities (such as tucking him in at night; even though Bart never looked forward to it, he immediately feels how crushing it is when she doesn't do it). That alone would qualify, but at the end of the episode, Bart comes in with a mysterious item under his jacket. Marge suspects he's shoplifted again...but Bart went back to the store to take a Christmas portrait of himself (that he actually paid for). Marge is touched and forgives him by giving him his Christmas present, a video game. Although he's internally underwhelmed that it's Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge and not Bonestorm, he's just happy to have her love again and thanks her.
- The entire part where Marge cuts Bart off from all family activities was depressing (except maybe for the part where Bart puts a marshmallow in his cocoa and it turns into a cocoa-soaked loaf that he has to eat with a knife and fork, with Grampa asking him for a slice) for anyone who has felt like his or her parents don't love them anymore.
- The build up to this from Marge's perspective is equally tear jerking. She looks upon her life with Bart and that somehow he managed to slip out of her arms, wondering if her coddling has ruined him.
- The credits scene showing gameplay of Putting Challenge becomes really sweet if you assume it's Bart who's playing. He's so glad Marge is paying attention to him again that he decides to simply play the game Marge bought him instead of complaining.
- "A Fish Called Selma" is very funny but it is also clear that Selma is terribly lonely, willing to go through a sham of marriage just for the appearance of being happy. Troy himself comes across as just as alone and the last glimpse of him sadly watching Selma walk away might be one of the saddest in the show's history. If the shows implication about his sexual inclinations is true (its all but stated that he's sexually attracted to fish), a normal relationship with a real family might be all but impossible for him.
- In "Much Apu About Nothing", Apu faces deportation due to being an illegal immigrant. In desperation, he buys a fake ID and tries horribly to act American, only to feel ashamed at rejecting his Indian heritage, and breaks down and cries over being deported. Homer is so shaken he stops his support of the Proposition.
- Pretty much the whole of Lisa's story through "Summer of 4 Ft 2." The hits start coming when her yearbook gets passed around by the other students and no one bothers to sign it, and keep coming through Lisa trying to reinvent herself and gain actual friends, only for Bart to ruin it because he's jealous that Lisa's made friends with the cool kids. The tears get to be joyful when the kids reveal that they still like Lisa and that they've attached all this stuff from the beach to the Simpsons family car so she can remember them when she leaves.
- After his house is destroyed in "Hurricane Neddy", Ned heads into the church at night and pleads with God for a reason as to why he's lost everything. While not exactly a tear-jerker per se, it's arguably one of the show's most powerful quiet moments, in that there's no humor in it at all. It's just a despairing man trying to make sense of events beyond his control.
Ned: Why me, Lord? Where have I gone wrong? I've always been nice to people. I don't drink or dance or swear. I've even kept kosher just to be on the safe side. I've done everything the bible says, even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff! What more can I do? I...I feel like I'm coming apart here! I want to yell out, but I can't just can't dang diddily do dang do damn diddily darn do it! I...I...I...
- The scene where he finally snaps (after the neighbors make a total pig's ear out of rebuilding his house) and shouts everyone down is undeniably funny but also a little scary and a little sad. Ned is being a jerk, true, but none of his accusations are wrong, and the townsfolk are clearly a little ashamed of pushing him over the edge. The worst part is that while most of Neds accusations are true, they came at exactly the wrong moment, when the neighbors only crime was not being good enough, which is hardly their fault. It was just the straw that broke the camels back.
- From "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" where Homer is trying to keep them from killing Poochie off, and he makes a speech: "Hello Itchy. I know we kind of got off on the wrong foot, and that there are a lot of people who don't like me. I know that I can come off as a little proactive sometimes, and for that, I'm sorry. But if you can find a little place in your heart for the little dog no one wanted, I know we can make people laugh, and cry, as we grow old together."
- Which gets blasted down when the episode featuring this speech gets hastily edited to make it look like Poochie was really an alien who returned to his home planet and died on the way back. In fact, that part is more heart-breaking than Homer's speech, as Homer poured his heart and soul into supporting something he liked, but no one else did ("rooting for the underdog," so to speak) and, in the end, it was all in vain.
- "In Grade School Confidential," Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel attend Martin's birthday party, talking about their hobbies (Principal Skinner spends his Saturdays preparing his clothes for the following week; Mrs. Krabappel collects matchbooks from nightclubs). They go silent for a second, and then Principal Skinner asks, in a defeated tone, "Is this what you imagined your life would be, Edna?" Mrs. Krabappel replies, "Yes. But then again, I was a very depressed little girl." It's a beautiful little moment that makes them both seem remarkably human.
- In the same episode, Mrs. Krabappel's farewell speech to her class suddenly got depressing after Marcia Wallace's passing.
- "Lisa's Sax" shows the story of Bart's first day at school, where his kindergarten teacher almost immediately manages to crush his enthusiasm for school with a single sentence ("Added extra clap, not college material"), and the discovery of Lisa's intelligence comes at a meeting with a school psychologist, where Homer declares Bart effectively hopeless, at the age of five. Just seeing Bart being given up on so casually by his first teacher is heartbreaking, but to also see his parents doing the same in favor of giving more of their focus to Lisa, just because he's not some child prodigy...
- Skinner's story in "The Principal And The Pauper" (even though it's heavily criticized for screwing with Skinner's continuity and being a "gimmicky, nonsensical" episode, it does have a lot of heartfelt scenes showing that people do care about Skinner, even the woman whom Skinner calls "Mom").
Real Skinner: You've led quite a life, Tamzarian.Armin Tamzarian: It's your life. I just kept it warm for you.
- The excised lyrics from the original version of "The Garbageman" has these lines:
Milhouse: Who can take my daddy, and my mommy too? Make them get along like moms and dads are supposed to do? The Garbageman? I hope the Garbageman can.Homer: The Garbageman can't, but he's got a giant stack of comics for you.
- The scene in "Bart the Mother", when Bart tells Marge that even though everyone thinks the lizards are monsters, he still loves them. He thinks Marge won't understand, but Marge whispers "run" and then blocks the door so Bart, Chirpy Boy, and Bart, Jr. can escape. Similarly, the scene when Bart accidentally shoots a mother bird with a pellet gun and Marge finds out-
Marge: What's the point, Bart? I punish, and I punish, and I punish, but it never sinks in. So you know what? Do what you want. You wanna play with little hoodlums, fine. Have fun killing things.
- Most mothers wouldn't be particularly proud of their children killing birds, but that was a little too blunt. To flat out give up on Bart like that? Jesus...
- Mind you, this is after ten years of trying to raise her son right, a son who has spent his entire life fighting her every step of the way.
- Pinchy's death in "Lisa Gets An A" is deceptively sad. After spending the episode growing attached to his raised lobster, Homer adopts it and treats it like an equal in the family, even giving it a place on the family table despite vigorous protest from the others. The poor thing even had something of a personality, whimpering and even wagging it's tail like a timid little puppy. Then comes the revelation that Homer accidentally boiled Pinchy to death, after which he decides to finally eat him ("Pinchy would have wanted it that way"), sobbing uncontrollably throughout the entire meal.
- Maude's death, and Flanders' reaction.
- "The Frying Game". While inevitably Homer and Marge were going to survive, the whole episode basically shows their lives gradually going downhill after they are framed for murdering an old lady. The trial process ultimately ends up ruling them both guilty despite their best efforts, they're not even given a lie detector or DNA test and they're both sentenced to death. Homer ends up confessing that he did it in order to spare Marge, who is released. Then it cuts to Homer's execution by electric chair, where Marge vows tearfully that she'll always love him, while Patty and Selma are openly rejoicing. It's a setup, of course, and Homer is let free, but that doesn't make the scene any less heartbreaking.
- "The Blunder Years", Waylon Smithers Sr.'s Heroic Sacrifice of going into a heavily irradiated reactor to shut it down and save the town and his baby son. It parodied the infamous Window Love scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Kahn.
- It's also a rare Pet the Dog moment for Mr. Burns. After Smithers Sr.'s death, he becomes the closest thing Jr. has to a father.
- A bit of Unfortunate Implications though, seeing as Smithers is revealed to be gay for Mr. Burns.
- That last bit was hinted in the same episode to stem from Mr. Burns telling Smithers his father was killed by a tribe of Amazon women.
- Homer revealing that his being a fat slob can be traced back to him getting a lapfull of dead guy, and that he's struggled with necrophobia (pathological and irrational fear/dislike of corpses) ever since.
- It's also a rare Pet the Dog moment for Mr. Burns. After Smithers Sr.'s death, he becomes the closest thing Jr. has to a father.
- "Barting Over" (the alleged 300th episodenote where Bart gets emancipated after Homer admit he blew all of Bart's money that he made as a commercial actor): Bart's absolutely terrified while spending his first night alone in a dumpy apartment. The way he says, "I'm gonna die in my jammies!" when riding the elevator is particularly heartbreaking.
- Speaking of Strong Arms of the Ma, Marge develops extreme agoraphobia after a chance encounter with a mugger. It escalates to the point where she ends up living inside her own basement. Fortunately, she eventually overcomes her fear...but it then goes too far in the other direction once she starts taking steroids.
- "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can". Lisa losing the spelling bee. The look on her face when she realises that she just lost her chance of going to a dream college for nothing is heartbreaking.
- Turns into a heartwarming moment when Springfield still recognizes her as a winner, as the town hasn't had anyone famous since that woman who once dated Charles Grodin.
- In "Moe Baby Blues", Moe decides to commit suicide after being rejected from Springfield Botanical Gardens which is holding the blooming of the Sumatran Century Flower because, in Chief Wiggum's own words, "his feelings have been trampled on so many times that once more won't make any difference" and finding out that even street-dwelling hobos have a better life than him. While preparing to jump off the bridge, he accidentally saves Maggie from falling into the river after flying out of the Simpsons car to a faulty safety lock. The townspeople applaud him and laud him as a hero for this act. Because of this and the adorability of Maggie, his monstrous frown gradually turns into a smile then he says "Heh. Life don't seem so hard no more." It's not ruined by a dumb joke either, it cuts to commercial after the line.
- Mona returns in "My Mother the Carjacker" has three major moments. The first one is when Mona is arrested for using an alias for a federal park and admitting to it and Homer trying to chase after the car to get her back, with the FBI agent constantly braking every few meters just for a laugh. The second one comes after Homer steals the prison bus she's on and Mona stuns him and throws him out of the bus. She then attempts to escape and the bus falls off the side of a cliff and Homer can do nothing but watch. The third part is her funeral and Homer's speech about how at least he can't lose her again and then the casket slides down the hill, Homer then spends the next scene desperately try to find evidence that she's ok and misses it completely.
- "The Wandering Juvie": Bart getting thrown into juvenile hall. Yeah, he did pull a prank to deserve it, but seeing Marge cry as he is being taking away strikes a chord with any parent whose child has been in legal trouble.
- Juvenile hall is pretty rough on Bart, where he is bullied constantly, especially by a girl named Gina. Then we see her alone and crying, and Bart learns that she doesn't have a family.
- "Marge's Son Poisoning" - the scene where Marge is riding through town on her own and she sees a billboard saying "Give Your Mom a Hug Today".
- Seeing the whole town shun Bart over a mistake in a championship baseball game in "The Boys of Bummer" is really harsh. Bart hasn't been the nicest kid but he really didn't deserve to have the town turn against him over such a petty thing. He eventually snaps and almost kills himself during a delusional attempt to save face with the townspeople. Marge manages to talk some reason into everyone but it's still pretty sad to watch the citizens destroy his self-esteem so thoroughly.
- Most of "He Loves to Fly and He D'Ohs". After Homer saves Mr. Burns from drowning while he tries to pick up a penny in a small water fountain (It Makes Sense in Context), Mr. Burns takes Homer to Chicago on a private jet and after a fantastic night in Chicago, Homer spends most of the episode depressed because he's had one of the greatest experiences of his life and can never do it again. After Marge hires him a life coach who discovers that Homer's at his best when he's bowling and inspires him to always wear his bowling shoes, Homer applies for a Safety Inspector job that would let him fly on a private jet and he fails miserably at getting it and spends his days just sitting at Krusty Burger more depressed than ever before.
- In "Midnight Towboy" we have the following line of dialogue from Marge:
Marge: Oh, Maggie is getting so independent. At least you still need me, sack of potatoes...
- Basically the whole episode of "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind". For the majority of the episode, Homer is under the impression that Marge has cheated on him, that he has assaulted her, and has chosen to forget about it, while Marge and the kids have all left home. We see Homer become gradually more depressed as the episode tolls on, to a point where Homer is almost driven to suicide. It all gets better, of course, but the lead-up is just depressing.
- We also get a parody of an internet video, where Homer takes a picture of himself for 39 years in his flashback. While done for the puns, in the background of some of the scenes, we see Abe and Mona arguing, with the latter leaving, and the former gradually sinking into a depressive state. To add a bit of Fridge Logic, Homer seems oblivious of all of this. Perhaps his obliviousness is his coping method, as we know that his parents have always had a tough marriage from previous and future episodes. Or perhaps I'm just reading too much into this?
- Despite being despised for screwing with show continuity and showing Marge at her most ungrateful (see DethroningMoment.The Simpsons), the scene in the episode That 90's Show where Homer and Marge are dividing up their belongings. Marge brings out a Beanie Baby octopus and says, "Who gets Cutie-pus?" Homer tells her, "I just want a tentacle," He proceeds to pull one off, and all the beans flow out of the octopus as 'Bittersweet Symphony' plays in the background.
- Homer's song "Marjorine" (a take-off of Bush's "Glycerine." The music video is even said to be just like it), to let Marge know he still loves her after she almost leaves him for her professor.
- in Papa Don't Leech, after Lurleen finally reunites with her father after 30 years, we get to see her celebrate with a new song about it. Then we see Royce creeping out of the house with his boots.
Royce Daddy's a deadbeat, he's leaving his daughter again
- Nelson's film in "Any Given Sundance." Much like Barney Gumble's film on "A Star is Burns" about how being an alcoholic has ruined his life, Nelson's film on "Any Given Sundance" shows that living with a negligent mother and not having his father around is the reason why he's a bully:
Nelson: I come to the ocean because only there do my tears seem small.
- "Mona Leaves-A". Homer goes to apologize to his mother for not believing that she's changed her ways and will stick around, only to find that she died of natural causes in the middle of the night. Made all the worst that it aired as a Mother's Day episode (though it could be taken as an Aesop of, "Love your mom, because you'll never know when the day comes when she won't be there.")
- "Eeny Teeny Maya Moe":
Moe: Who'd have thought such a little woman could make me feel so big?
- Not to mention Homer's speech before that:
Homer: You'll remember that somebody loved you once. And somebody could love you again! And that'll make you smile.
- Not to mention Homer's speech before that:
- Bluella the whale's death in The Squirt and the Whale.
- One episode had Lisa learning magic from an older, retired magician. There were two points that were sad: The magician and Lisa are talking about his late wife, and he says this: "The only magic we couldn't make was a child." At the end of the episode, he's huffing ether (as a painkiller) and sees his late wife as she looked in her youth. He says that maybe he's had too much, but as her apparition fades, he (paraphrasing) says: "Aw, the hell with it," takes in more ether so his wife stays, and they dance as a very sweet song plays.
- Bill Plympton's couch gag from "Beware My Cheating Bart", which shows the couch falling for Homer, getting pregnant by him, getting dumped, and forced to strip and whore itself out in order to support the baby couch it had, then nearly commits suicide until Homer rescues it and the baby couch (which is now Maggie's play chair). That couch gag alone was considered more heartbreaking and interesting than the actual episode.
- "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again". Though Bart was borderline sociopathic in his attempts to keep the family vacation from ending (by trying to convince everyone that the world was ending back on land because of a viral pandemic), the fact that he wanted to spend time with his family (and he was willing to do something crazy and criminal just to keep it going) shows that he does love his family underneath his sarcastic, prankster ways. Also, the ending where an elderly Bart looks back on the good times with his family and acknowledges that he did have a good life.
- Lady Gaga telling Moe theres no hope for him and then he gets run over by a train.
- If it helps at all, Moe takes it remarkably well.
- In "To Cur With Love" Abe Simpson reveals how he had to give Homer's beloved dog Bongo away to a farm run by a Lesbian couple when he was six in order to protect him from Mr. Burns whom the dog had bitten protecting Homer. At first the dog doesn't want to leave Homer but Abe gives the new owners Homer's sweater to get him to stay with them. Homer then reveals months after he went to get Bongo back but saw that he was already happy in his new home and was no longer his. Since then he's been unable to get close to dogs including "Santa's Little Helper" because they were "disloyal". Abe then shows Homer a photo Bongo's new owners sent of him sleeping on Homer's old sweatshirt, showing that his dog never stopped loving him.
- Love is a Many-Splintered Thing, has Bart once again reuniting with Mary Spunckler (who by the way is his most reacurring love interest not counting Jessica Lovejoy's cameos). They actually hit off a proper relationship, but they break up. Bart is actually told that Mary's the best he could get, and he shouts cynically at Marge. Bart and Homer spend some time at a hotel, where other men are having relationship problems. As a big grand gesture, Bart gets the other men to sing a musical number for their wives and girlfriends. Mary is present but doesn't take Bart back, as she has already moved on to a new boyfriend.
Boyfriend: Everyone has a story, welcome to mine.
- "The Dark Knight Court". The realization that Mr. Burns has a Freudian Excuse as to why he's so evil (his father forbade him from reading comic books and even burned down a comic book publishing company to prove his point), though that's if you believe that Mr. Burns grew up poor, only to be adopted by a loveless, yet rich family a la Charles Foster Kane from Citizen Kane. If you believe that Burns was rich all his life (as seen in "Last Exit to Springfield" and "Burns' Heir") and became Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense because of his wealthy upbringing, then this doesn't count. Either way, the fact that he had a father like that does explain why Mr. Burns is so evil (besides the fact that he runs on pure bile and hate, which will never go away, technically making Mr. Burns immortal).
- In "The Saga of Carl", Carl Carlson seemingly ditches his friends. It is later revealed that he needed the lottery money they won to buy a historical document that he can use to prove the innocence of his adoptive ancestors in Iceland. The sad revelation is that while the Carlsons were revealed to not be cowards like the other Icelandic think, they also turned against their own people and even killed and tortured a few of them.
- In the first episode after Marcia Wallace's passing, "Four Regrettings and a Funeral", the blackboard gag was this.◊
- At the end of "The Man Who Grew Too Much" Ned Flanders has a dream of dancing with Edna Krabappel before awakening to remember how much he misses her, a sentiment shared by a near tearful Nelson.
- To make things even worse, Ned and Nelson say all of this all the while the two look at a photo of Edna on a table, which is right next to a photo of Ned's first deceased wife, Maude (who was killed off when Maggie Roswell quit after the producers refused to increase her pay to cover travel).
- The episode pays a tribute to Marcia Wallace.
- We'll always have the Bongo comics. (With Edna, at least.)
- In "Diggs," Bart makes a new friend who is pretty lonely. This is best demonstrated where, after Diggs breaks his arm, he says he signed his cast with people he wishes would sign it.
- When Bart finds out that Diggs is mentally unstable after thinking he could fly and hurting himself. Bart wants to help him but Marge tells him the mental hospital he's going to isn't a good place for him to go alone and likely won't let him visit.
- The Yellow Badge of Cowardge tells us why Homer loves the 4th of July fireworks festival so much: Because it was the only time he couldn't hear his parents arguing.
- Don Hertzfeldt's couch gag from "Clown in the Dumps" makes a not-so-subtle statement of the show becoming so dependent on shock humor, non sequiturs, and merchandise shilling, it doesn't have as much heart as it did at its peak. Homer in a far-distant, super-deformed future recalls relatively less distant and deformed episodes. The memories show that even as the series became more surreal to keep up with the times, Marge still tried to tell Homer she loved him, the Simpsons still considered themselves "a happy family", and Marge assured Homer that she would never forget him. Homer then sees the latest incarnation of Marge spout non sequiturs, while Bart and Lisa shout broken catchphrases, and Maggie commands viewers to purchase merchandise. The apparent lack of familial love causes Homer to utter a glum "D'oh."
- In "Simpsorama", (the crossover with Futurama), Seymour makes a reappearance. This could bring back sad memories from Futurama's "Jurassic Bark" episode, especially with the music.
- The Simpsons team's tributes to Leonard Nimoy (whose appearances on "Marge vs. The Monorail" and "The Springfield Files" are considered memorable and hilarious moments for the show in its glory days) and Sam Simon (one of the three main executive producers/creators of the show, along with Matt Groening and James L. Brooks) this season.
- Lisa in "Halloween of Horror." At a haunted house she looked forward to, she's scared so much she goes into the fetal position. She becomes so scared, she can't even stand Halloween decorations and holds onto her childhood crutch for most of the episode.
- "Barthood," which really delves deep into Bart's inferiority complex when compared to Lisa. This episode reveals that he felt closest to Abe, which takes a sad turn when it flashforwards to when Bart is 15 and he is talking to Abe's headstone.
- Another example would be when Bart is turning 12. The celeberation is interrupted by yet another one of Lisa's accomplisments and taking attention. Bart then writes Lisa's name on the cake, imlying a good deal of bitterness in regards how his celeberations get overlooked and overshadowed by Lisa.
- A meta example for all those home media completists out there: Al Jean announced in 2015 that, after fourteen years and eighteen seasons (Seasons 1-17, and Season 20), the series would cease production of DVD and Blu-ray sets. There is some good news to this: the DVD and Blu-Ray halt was done to make room for future seasons that can be streamed and downloaded, since more people are taking to the Internet to watch TV shows and movies rather than going to the movies or watching home media or their actual televisions.
- Another meta example: Italian fans were devastated when Tonino Accolla (the Italian dubber of Homer as well as Timon and Eddie Murphy) died after a long illness. Best exemplified by this drawing◊note .