- Elena and Isabel's parents getting vaporized by Shuriki while Elena watches. Elena is helpless to do anything but run after she witnesses this happen right before her very eyes.
- The pilot episode reveals that it started like any other normal day: Isabel fed the jaquins, Elena attended to her duties as princess, and the King and Queen were returning home before dark for dinner. Elena told Isabel to go clean herself up and went to greet their parents at the palace entrance... only to see Shuriki kill them. And the next thing they knew, Elena never saw Isabel, Esteban, or their grandparents again for the next forty-one years.
- This being a show aimed towards younger viewers, they can't show dead bodies. So instead, the vadisima spell vaporizes the King and Queen. There were no bodies to bury, and it's not likely that Shuriki would've given them a proper burial anyways. A clever way to avoid having Elena's family visit their graves and instead set up an ofrenda too...
- Elena spent the last forty-one years trapped in an amulet, hoping that each wearer would be the one to free her. She never knew if Shuriki had found a way to break Alacazar's protection spell on Isabel and their grandparents, and never knew the fate of Esteban and Avalor. When she sees them again for the first time in the pilot episode, she's heartbroken — Isabel and their grandparents have been turned into a painting and essentially asleep for the past few decades, and Esteban has been forced into being Shuriki's right-hand man.
- Though Esteban seems to be smug about his position as The Dragon, it seems to not quite be the case as the special goes on. When Shuriki wants him to stop a little boy from playing music, he seems to look reluctant about it, yet has it carried out because he knows that doing anything besides follow Shuriki will make things worse.
- Armando asking Esteban how could he not support his own cousin upon her return to take back the throne from Shuriki, with Esteban answering that after everything Shuriki has done to him and his family, he doesn't believe an uprising has a chance against her and angrily tells him that he does not need him to remind him of what happened to his family.
- Elena doesn't recognize an older Esteban until Shuriki smugly tells her who her right-hand man is.Shuriki: And you haven't said "Hello!" to your cousin yet Esteban?
Esteban: [looks away]
Elena: What?! No... this cannot be Esteban!
Shuriki: While you were gone, Esteban aged! And he's on my side!
Elena: Esteban?! You're on her side?
Esteban: Elena, I... I had no choice...
Shuriki: Ha! So you say, Esteban!
- Imagine what was going through Esteban's mind at the time. It seemed like a normal day for a delegation with a couple of things almost not going as planned, but it was otherwise going smoothly. And then he hears a familiar voice and figure from down the hall, and it's his cousin, the long-lost princess of Avalor, like she's back from the dead... and then he's also reminded of all his past deeds including the murder of his aunt and uncle, how Avalor's descent into an authoritarian regime is partly his fault, and how his other cousin and their grandparents are sealed away in a painting that Shuriki unashamably hangs in her throne room.
- Elena hates Shuriki enough for taking everything away from her that she tries using the vadisima spell on her, which says a lot for a Disney Princess heroine on a Disney Junior show.
- Eagle-eyed viewers may notice that in one of Queen Lucia's paintings, she has a blue and yellow sash, just like Esteban in the present day, implying that Esteban kept her sash as a Tragic Keepsake.
- Imagine what poor Rafa and Alacazar had to go through. The day the royal family was overthrown was probably also the last time they ever saw each other. It's entirely possible that Alacazar didn't return to his home to say goodbye to his family so to keep Shuriki from going after them. Alacazar ends up passing away in a land far from his own and Rafa never knew if he was going to come back.
- Rafa didn't learn magic, likely in part because she was scared of learning it with Shuriki, a sorceress that not even her father could defeat, around.
- Rafa was only a child when her father fled.
- The last time Abuelo and Abuela saw Esteban, he was a teenager and they had raised him ever since he was a boy. Now, he's maybe ten plus some years younger than him.
- All There in the Manual states that Esteban's parents died when he was eight.
- According to Word of God, why wasn't Esteban paying his respects with the others at King Raul and Queen Lucia's altar in "A Day to Remember"? He was at his own parents' altar, and he still hasn't gotten over their deaths either. Presumably the same reason why he wasn't in "The Jewel of Maru" or "The Return of El Capitan" either.
- Word of God says that Esteban's mother was Lucia's sister, meaning that Francisco and Luisa lost both their daughters and sons-in-law.
- Still think Esteban is completely evil? Well, "King of the Carnaval" begs to differ. He really does feel bad for betraying his family to Shuriki — it got them killed or sealed away for four decades, after all — and it's a regret he has to live with for the rest of his life.
- Victor's claims of not feeling respected by the people he knew while growing up may or may not be a case of him blowing up things to proportion thanks to self-serving memory or him genuinely lacking self-esteem from lack of respect, but Carla appears to have a genuine Freudian Excuse as to why she acts the way she does: she's been raised by her father her whole life, so she knows nothing else, and because they were always on the move, she never developed a sense of home or friendship towards other people.
- After being turned into malvagos with her father, Carla says she wishes her mama could see this. Word of God states that Carla's mother is still alive, though it's implied that Carla is unaware of this.
- Elena having a PTSD flashback when she sees Shuriki, alive and well, in the palace. She freezes long enough that had Naomi not been there to push her out of the way, Shuriki would've killed her.
- In "Race Through The Realm", Elena is clearly struggling with seeing Shuriki again, repeatedly flashing back to her parent's deaths. Then at the climax Shuriki exploits this to drive her away from the jewel, letting Elena tire herself out desperately trying to catch her until she's too weak to stop her and Fiero from taking the final pieces. Shuriki wins and assembles the scepter, and Elena realizes it's completely her fault.
- Isabel being snubbed and judged for being small in "Blockheads". Elena, Mateo, Naomi, and Gabe tell her that she's too little to play Olaball with them, and when they say that she can play, they don't actually let her—all they do is pass the ball over her head and ignore her when she says "I'm open!" This hurts Isabel so much that she leaves without Elena and her friends noticing, which is difficult to watch. Only after the Coza Kex giving Elena, Naomi, Gabe, and Mateo a taste of their own medicine do they realize how unfairly they treated Isa.
- In "Song of The Sirenas", when Cristobal, Elena's other cousin, betrays her and her family to Shuriki. What made it really hurt for Elena was that he would betray his own family for gold, and did so long, long before Elena came back. During the final scene where Cristobal is about to be taken away by the guards, when he tells Elena that they're family and she responds "you don't even know what that means", is very heartwrenching to watch.
- King Pescoro's whole backstory. He started off continuing the long-standing way of the sirenas to irrationally hate humans and kill them by sinking their ships, but then fell in love with Camila, a human woman he rescued, turning her into a sirena who became his wife. Learning the error of his peoples' ways, he stopped the ship sinkings in order for there to be peace between sirenas and humans. But then, after his toddler daughter was revealed to be able to turn into human form on a family trip to the beach, two humans spot them and assume that the sirenas are trying to lure and drown this "human child", whom they try to "rescue". Pescoro and Camila are able to prevent Marisa from being taken, but the incident convinced Pescoro that no matter what, humans will always see him and his kind as murderous monsters, and that they are beyond forgiveness for their sins. And that's why he insists on isolating sirenas from humans: he doesn't think humans will ever forgive his kind, nor does he believe they even deserve forgiveness.
- In "The Tides of Change", Naomi holds a grudge against the Sirenas and is very reluctant to have a treaty of peace and unity held between them and the Avalorans, because her grandfather died in a sirena attack, long before Naomi could ever meet him. It's a feeling that can hit home for viewers who have never met family members to due to war and conflict with a group that now wants to seek a peaceful relation to help make up for past aggressions.
- In "The Return of El Capitan", we're reminded that Abuelo is an elderly man and that he outlived his friends when he was sealed away in that painting for forty-one years.
- Esteban's story about his parents in "Snow Place Like Home": they died in a storm at sea when he was just a child. And he had attempted to warn them about going out to sea because he had a bad feeling about it, but they didn't listen, which goes a long way at explaining why he desires power and acts like a strict authoritarian so much of the time.
- Carla straining her leg in the blizzard, forcing Victor to have to carry her through it, at great risk to them both. Also qualifies as a Heartwarming moment and - for Victor - an Awesome one.
- In "Movin' On Up", Rafa is suffering from Empty Nest syndrome with Mateo growing up and living in the palace. Like most parents, she is at that time of her life when her kid has to move out when he has a job.
- Esteban crying when Mateo reassures his mom that he'll always love her and Rafa accepting to move out is Played for Laughs, until you realize that he was probably emotional about it because he could never have this experience with his own parents.
Tear Jerker / Elena of Avalor