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Tear Jerker / Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

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GOOD. GOD. Where do we begin...

  • The Wofford family, for the dead mother/wife.
  • The Byers family, whose Littlest Cancer Patient died less than three months after the episode aired.
  • The Vardon family, in which both parents were deaf and their younger son was blind and autistic. Their older son was responsible for caring for all three of them. He was fourteen. The conclusion of the show included him receiving a scholarship for college.
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  • The Stott family, whose mother had leukemia and was saved by bone marrow given by a guy that helped out on the project. Their house burned to the point of being unlivable due to the mother's illness. All of the things they of the boys made her a "cancer dragon" that she keeps by her bedside so that it'd eat her cancer.
  • The Kadzis family, whose episode won an award for being "Most Touching" precisely for this reason. The parents of the family had seven children, six of whom were special-needs orphans they adopted from China; one daughter was deaf and another was blind, although the others were doing better following surgeries and treatments. They petitioned for help when the father was diagnosed with stage-four brain cancer. Three days after the family moved into their new home, he died.
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  • The Piestewa family. Not ONLY is it the usual fix-up-a-nice-home-for-some-nice-people sentiment, but then you've got the fact that the Piestewa family consists of the parents and the children of Lori Piestewa, the first woman casualty of the war in Iraq and the first EVER female Native American killed in overseas combat in this country's history. And THEN add that in the fact that Lori Piestewa had been killed in the same ambush in which Jessica Lynch became a POW — and Jessica and Lori had been friends and made a pact to take care of each other's families, so it was Jessica Lynch who nominated the Piestewa family for the show. And THEN add on the fact that the crew decided to not just build a new home for the Piestewas, they also constructed a new Veterans' center on a nearby Navajo reservation, got Sears to donate $300,000 worth of new clothes to all the other families on the reservation, and placed a memorial marker to Piestewa on nearby Piestewa Peak, which had been recently re-named in her honor.
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  • The Imbriani family, who never actually applied for the show. Instead, they were nominated by a lady named Nancy Avila, who had never even met them. Adult daughter Brook Imbriani had donated blood and then bone marrow, which went on to save the life of a little girl named Esmeralda, who suffered from leukemia. The little girl's mother, Nancy, was eager to find and thank the person who donated the bone marrow that saved her baby's life, so she asked the show if they could find this person and give them a home makeover. The whole thing is made all the more amazing because when Ty and the crew went to make the wake-up call to the Imbriani family without the Imbrianis even knowing about it, you could see the surprise in their faces - but by a strange twist of fate, they actually needed the makeover, since their house had recently been hit and badly damaged by a drunk driver. The whole story behind their nomination, however, is kept secret until the end of the show when they see the renovations. Ty then tells Brook that he knows she donated bone marrow, and then comes the reveal of Nancy with her daughter Esmeralda, and the emotion and tears just pour as the women hug, with Nancy thanking Brook for saving her daughter's life, calling Brook an angel.
  • The Walker family's brilliant eleven-year-old son hanged himself because he couldn't put up with profuse and incessant bullying. They were unable to visit their third floor, where the suicide took place, because it just held too many bad memories.
  • The Hill family. Because of the father's PTSD, he couldn't go see his son run track because of the noise.
  • The Cadigan-Scott family: Diane Scott and Mark Cadigan both died within three weeks of each other, leaving their eight children to fend for themselves. The older siblings moved back to the house in Livermore, California to keep the family together, but the house remained way too small. On top of all that, they all had to share one bathroom. As if that weren't tear-inducing enough, the show made a point to mention the parents' bedroom, which had been left untouched by the children, preserved as a shrine. Ty had to let them know that there was no way to save the room from the demolition, and the family was allowed to take as much time as they needed before work began, to gather in the room and spend some last moments.
  • In the final episode of the ABC run, the team built seven homes for seven families in Joplin. Two of the families, the Cogdill family and the Whitely family, had been neighbors before the tornado. Crystal Cogdill lost one of her sons; Crystal Whitely lost her son and one of her daughters. Thang Nquyen came to America after losing everything in Vietnam - then, just before he retired, he lost his home again. Scott Ely and Natalie Gonzalez decided to get married after they survived the tornado. In a big surprise, they were granted a wedding at Walt Disney World. ABC even flew out Gonzalez's oldest son (who was away at college) to walk her down the aisle. Aww!
  • The Sweenson-Lee story is beyond tragic. Vicki and Erik took in their nieces and nephews after their widowed mother, Vicki's sister Teri, and her boyfriend were brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend. The double murder left the children traumatized, with even one of the boys mentioning that hadn't even fully gotten over the death of their father and now they had to deal with their mother's death also. Even worse, the oldest daughter not only witnessed the attack and the death of her mother, but she also witnessed the death of her father in a car accident several years earlier, doubling her trauma.
  • The entire series is comprised of alternating segments of Tear Jerker, Heartwarming Moments, and Funny Moments that seem to also be heartwarming. The result is that the mantra of many families when watching this show became, in essence, "Awwww... *Sniffle* dammit..."
    • Referenced in some of the advertising, in which clips of workers and crew members sniffling were dubbed over with a man's voice saying, "You won't wanna cry... but you're gonna cry."
    • The end of the Parents Television Council's review of the final episode. They were HUGE fans of the show, and they concluded their eulogy of the series with these words: "Thank you, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

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