Tear Jerker: All in the Family

All in the Family

  • The Season 8 finale "The Stivics Go West" was both a Very Special Episode and a tearjerker, in that it was the final time all four of the show's main stars Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers appeared together as regulars.note  Archie and Mike's final conversation, where Mike thanks Archie for all his support over the years, tells him he loves him, and awkwardly embraces him, is very touching. Shortly thereafter comes an emotional farewell. The final scene has a deeply saddened Archie watch the taxi with his daughter, son-in-law and grandson, Joey, inside drive away. Archie chokes back a sob, a few tears welling up. Edith, who had gone into the kitchen to get Archie a beer, returns to the living room, and sees Archie wiping his eyes. Quickly, she runs back into the kitchen so he doesn't know she's seen him crying, and announces she's bringing him a beer. Archie puts on a braver face when Edith walks in. Edith then sits next to Archie, and they sit, sadly, in the now-silent house.
  • The "Two's a Crowd" episode, where a drunken Archie talks to Mike about his father and reveals where he got his prejudiced views from.
    Mike: My ol' man used to call people the same things as your ol' man. But I always knew he was wrong. So was your ol' man.
    Archie: Don't tell me my father was wrong! Let me tell you somethin'. Your father who made you, wrong? Your father, the breadwinner of the house there, the man who goes out and busts his butt to keep a roof over your head and clothes on your back? You call your father wrong? Hey, hey, your father... Your father, that's the man that comes home bringin' you candy. Your father's the first guy to throw a baseball to you. And take you for walks in the park. Hold you by the hand. My father held me by the hand, oh, he had a hand on him, I tell you. He busted that hand once, and he busted it on me. To teach me to do good. And my father, he'd shove me in the closet for seven hours to teach me to do good, 'cause he loved me. He loved me. Don't be lookin' at me!... Let me tell you somethin'. You're supposed to love your father. Because your father loves you. And how can any man that loves you tell you anything that's wrong?
  • Any episode involving Stephanie worried about having to leave was this. Especially when she tried to come up with excuses as to why she can't go back home to her terrible father yet.
  • Edith alone in the house with a rapist in "Edith's 50th Birthday". Archie ends up interupting them, so the rapist hides in the closet with a gun, telling her that if Edith says anything, he'll shoot the both of them. Watching Edith looking so desperate while Archie prattles on about needing a punchbowl, then when he leaves, she cries for him not to go. Doubles as Nightmare Fuel.
    • At the end of the same scene, Edith, who feels like there is no longer anything she can do to escape, begs her rapist, "Couldn't we do this without kissing?" It seems like a ridiculous request, but the fear and utter despair in her voice is heart-wrenching.
    • The second part of the episode is similarly depressing, but in a different way. Edith goes through a period of post-traumatic stress that paralyzes her to the point of being afraid to leave the house. Seeing the normally cheerful, oblivious Edith so broken by her experience that she can't do anything but obsessively iron pillowcases is horrible. Similarly, watching Gloria desperately try to get through to her—and eventually reach a point where she's so frustrated and overwhelmed by Edith's refusal to cope that she screams "You're not my mother anymore!"—is extremely painful.
  • As the family stays up all night waiting to hear if Archie will be laid off, he remembers how his father was devastated by the Great Depression. "He just kept asking why, and no one could tell him."
  • "Archie's Bitter Pill". It starts with Archie being frustrated that his bar his going nowhere. Then he takes pills from a friend, and starts roaming around town with enthusiasm on how he'll build a chain of bars. But as his energy dies down, he starts breaking up over the imminent failure of his business.
  • During the show's run, Edith ends up befriending a cross-dressing man who goes by the name Beverly. One Christmas, Beverly ends up getting shot and killed (off-screen), the victim of a hate crime. The look on Edith's face when the doctor at the hospital tells her is utterly heartbreaking; even the studio audience reacts. It escalates from there as Edith even starts questioning her religious faith, much to Archie's dismay.
    • This all overlaps with a moment of heartwarming as Archie and Gloria talk about Beverly, and Archie himself remarks that he/she was a decent person who was a good friend to Edith.

Archie Bunker's Place

  • The Season 2 opener "Archie Alone" saw Archie in deep denial over Edith's death (after series star Jean Stapleton decided to leave the show). Eventually frustrated that everyone is talking about it, Archie shouts at the world to go away. He then goes upstairs and sees one of Edith's slippers, before he has his emotional breakdown.
    Archie: It wasn't supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be the first one to go. I always used to kid you about you going first. You know I never meant none of that and that morning when yous was laying there. I was shaking you and yelling at you to go down and fix my breakfast. I didn't know. You had no right to leave me that way, Edith... (Holding the slipper to his face, Archie starts to cry) without giving me just one more chance to say I love you.