- Bill getting utterly humiliated by Jimmy on Halloween. When Jimmy catches Bill trying to go trick-or-treating, he beats the crap out of him while other kids egg him on, forcing Bill to strip out of his costume to escape and run back home crying. It doesn't get better at the end of the episode.
- Really, all the shit Bill puts up with in general, constant bullying from Jimmy, his own father thinking he's a wimp, his sister tormenting him (though this is thankfully dropped eventually), his big brother beating him up and taking his problems out on him, and dealing with constantly being exposed to adult situations he's way too young to handle. He keeps trying to stand up for himself, but it almost never works, because he simply does not have the physical strength to back it up.
- Greg being forced to spend the entirety of season 2 repressing his homosexuality, and the emotional turmoil it clearly puts him through, is mostly played for Black Comedy. Him finally gaining the courage to come out to his oblivious wife Ginny, only for her to tearfully tell him to "stop being silly," is not. At all.
- Although some may have seen it coming with the "downtrodden family" nature of the show, Sue getting her Salad Tosser idea stolen by the CEO of her company still hurts to see after all the work we see her put into it.
- Some of Frank and Sue's arguments can be this, especially the really ugly one they had in "Fight Night".
- When Frank once again explodes at Kevin after opening up about his own abusive father. Normally you'd just roll your eyes at typical Frank rage or laugh at it, but here he GENUINELY tries to be more open with Kevin and pour out his soul, only for it to fall apart because Kevin falls asleep with no real ill intention. It's one of the most heartbreaking instances of Frank losing his temper, since there was hope for a real connection for a moment there.
- Really, the horrible shit Frank had to deal with from his own father as a kid, of which we only hear one story but which would be enough on it's own to fill a lifetime. Frank, for all his yelling and anger problems, is an absolute pussycat compared to what his own father put him through.
- Poor Otto Holtenwasser, an elderly Holocaust survivor who married an American nurse and moved to the U.S after barely surviving the death camps, only to lose his wife as well sometime before the series began. He's a nice man, but the kids of the neighborhood are terrified of him, because of his German accent and believe he's a Nazi war criminal (except Bill and Kevin who think he's a Satanist, having mistaken his Star of David as a Pentagram). He's moved on as best he could, and is an accepted member of the community but often slips into melancholy reminiscing, much to the discomfort of his neighbors.
Otto: [to a photo of his wife] Nobody likes a gloomy Gustav...
- For the first two seasons, Vic doesn't get what Otto really is, and keeps mistaking his sad references for a party animal past (at one point he thinks Otto's camp tattoo is a sex tally). When he's finally told outright, Vic is sympathetic... then immediately tells him that he needs to stop being a downer and move on with his life. Otto reluctantly agrees.
- While watching a home movie filmed during the early 60's, Frank and Sue reminisce about the early days of their family and the good times they had with their neighbors when they first moved in. Younger versions of their current neighbors appear in the film, with one exception, a man who's never been seen by the audience before, but is shown as the life of the party.Sue: Oh yeah, I remember him! He was fun, he always made those great burgers! Whatever happened to him?Frank: He blew his brains out in '64...
- Poignantly, when Sue asks what the guy's name was, Frank realizes he has no idea.
- Frank's father, Big Bill, having a massive Jerkass Realization in the season 4 finale. It causes him to cry after realizing that it's his fault for Frank being so messed up.
- Sue's father in season 4 telling the tale of his first love, Sophie. Sophie's father, through misunderstanding, hit Sophie who fell down the stairs and she died. What really hits hard is that Sue's father still doesn't hate his father, but rather believes that his father did the right thing by stopping him from falling in love with a person he really did love but in reality, the event was abusive and traumatizing, but he can't look at his father like he was the failure. The kicker is that he says he wished he'd done the same thing to Frank.
- Maureen's utter humiliation when the school play is ruined due to her father and grandfather's fighting just as the second half of the play has begun. Prior to that, Frank and Bill seemed to have mended fences with each other after Big Bill gives Frank a hug that he never received as a child. Obviously, Sue (and the audience) worry that it will not last as, in her words, "not everything can be solved with one hug." And just as expected, Frank's resentment at his father for being unable to own up to his mistakes comes up at the worst time possible during the school play's intermission, culminating in Frank punching his elderly father in front of his family and the audience, shocking everyone in the room (including a disgusted Reaction Shot from Bridget, of all people). Maureen is so mortified by it, she runs off the stage in tears. Heartbroken, she refuses to let her father talk to her when he tried to comfort her later that night.
- As horrible as Big Bill was, seeing him struggle to get up after Frank punches him square in the face is still rather pitiful, prompting at least one person to call out Frank for knocking down an old man (which, to be fair, he wouldn't have known the exact situation) and Sue coming to his aid. You can even see his right arm unable to carry him, also serving as a bit of foreshadowing to his eventual fate by the end of the season.
- The way season 4 ends full stop. Frank's new daughter is born and is introduced to the rest of the family. He wants to introduce her to his father whom he finally wants to properly reconcile and just when Frank is introducing her, his father has a heart attack then and there. Frank calls out to him and the episode, and the season, just end...
Tear Jerker / F is for Family