- The whole premise for the show can be quite sad. Adam is almost constantly upsetting people by pointing out their deepest beliefs are based on lies. Forcing them to see a reality that they would really rather not to admit to.
- The very first episode had Adam ruin the idea of charitable giving by pointing out that the most helpful way people can help those in need is to donate money to charity. Telling this to a community center full of people who as Murph put it, came together because they wanted to help those in need in any way they can. Being told that everything they are doing is not only pointless and in many cases harmful to those they want to help upsets everyone so much that a few of them start crying.....before tossing out Adam and his expert in a fit of rage.
- "Adam Ruins Death," from start to finish. To summarize: Emily gets hit by a truck, and spends the entire episode having Adam lecture her about the importance of coming to terms with her imminent mortality. She makes a miraculous recovery, but a moment later, Hayley takes a bad fall and is killed. Adam completely breaks down at Hayley's funeral, admitting to Emily that, even after everything he taught her, he's still afraid to die.
- In "Adam Ruins Animals" it's shown that purebreeding is causing many dogs to be born with birth defects, like the poor bulldog shown in the episode and that feral cats kill off many bird species that are barely able to survive in the wild.
- In "Adam Ruins Immigration" the young girl who had been hopeful about immigration working as an efficient system slowly becomes more and more disillusioned, to the point where she tells her grandmother, who is about to be deported, that they should just leave the U.S. This is heightened by how even Adam notes how down she looks, and the going-to-commercial tune isn't present.
- In "Adam Ruins Weddings" Adam introduces Murph to the idea of "Limerence," the overpowering feeling of romantic love that humans feel for one another at the beginning of a relationship, and the fact that this feeling simply doesn't last forever. Murph, who is deeply in love with Emily, is saddened by the idea that his love for her will fade over time:Murph: (watching Emily dance) But I don't want it to fade.Adam: It might not. But you have to accept the fact that it could.
- Anytime one of Adam's friends or family forcibly push him away despite whatever good intentions he tries. This hits especially hard when Adam's sister lays in to him in the Christmas special after trying to help her get over her need to constantly impress their "traditional" parents.
- If that wasn't bad enough, Adam's response is especially poignant:Adam: You don't have to take the bus. I'm sorry. [teleports Rhea away]Emily: I thought your powers were only for learning.Adam: They are. I just learned something about myself.
- If that wasn't bad enough, Adam's response is especially poignant:
- In "Adam Ruins Science," Adam accidentally breaks the optimism and pluck of a young girl who wants to get into science. She becomes so upset that she takes off her lab coat and tosses it at him, planning to make no project for the school science fair. After a Jerkass Realization, he returns her coat and shows her the alternatives she could do to make science less problematic.
- Kendra's backstory in "Adam Ruins Prison". She had a rough childhood, and to get by she sold drugs. She was convicted and served her time, but due to her arrest, found it hard to support herself, and had to go back to selling drugs and was arrested a second time.
- In "Adam Ruins His Vacation", Adam recounts the deplorable history behind Mount Rushmore. In 1868, the U.S. signed a treaty agreeing that the mountain would belong to the Sioux Nation, only to renege on the agreement a mere six years later once General Custer discovered gold there. In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled this measure unconstitutional and awarded the Sioux Nation over $1 billion in compensation... but to this day, the Sioux have not accepted the money.Melinda: Wait, why don't you take the money?Sioux man: It was never about the money. We just want our land back."
- When Adam ruined salaries, one of the characters was an old man who was only paid 6 dollars a year. The small peeks we get into his life are incredibly depressing.Charles: Asking for a raise is rude.
- The Reanimated History episode on Lawrence of Arabia. All the efforts of Lawrence and king Hussein ultimately led to nothing, as the British and French betrayed them both. What's worse, there is no measure of how much political mess and needless suffering was caused by the careless dividing of the middle east set down by the Sykes-Picot agreement.
Tear Jerker / Adam Ruins Everything