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Tear Jerker / Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

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  • The "Death of a Goldfish" episode from 1970 (#1101), and the week-long "Conflict" series intended to help children cope with the Cold War in 1983.
    • A later episode from 1993 also dealt with the subject of death. In the episode, a crestfallen Mr. McFeely finds a dead bird and asks Mister Rogers for a box, so he can bury it at home. If that weren't enough, during the Neighborhood of Make Believe segments, King Friday recalls a pet bird he used to own who died, Henrietta dresses as an old lady much to the dismay of X the Owl, and Daniel wonders if his trucks will die.
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    • On the topic of the Conflict week, special mention has to go to the ending of the Friday episode of the week. Mister Rogers sings Good Feeling as usual, but then instead of leaving then and there, he reflects back on the week by talking about war and peace, then singing a simple song about peace and quiet. Then he ends on "I wish you peace" before displaying a Bible verse note  preaching against war. Especially given the context of the Cold War happening at the time, it really does come off as a heart-wrenching end to one of the darkest weeks of the entire show.
  • Some of the songs in general can come off as either only this, or a mixture of this and Heartwarming. Some examples include "When a Baby Comes to Your House" (mostly sung during the original pre-79 series), "You're Growing", and "Then Your Heart is Full of Love".
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  • The special he made to help children understand and deal with the death of Robert Kennedy. It starts with Daniel Tiger and Lady Aberlin playing with balloons, with Daniel asking if people are like balloons that deflate once their air is all gone. After she answers he asks a new question "What does 'assasination' mean?" Oh, Daniel...
  • Daniel Tiger has several tearjerking moments, but Lady Aberlin always turns them into Heartwarming Moments.
    • An early episode (#109) from 1968 has Daniel making a gift for Mr. McFeely's birthday: a glass with his name on it. He shows it to Lady Aberlin, but accidentally breaks it. His reaction is just heartbreaking; even more so that his crying is played out very realistically. There's almost a full minute with no dialogue, save for the sounds of Daniel's sobs and the soft piano and xylophone music in the background. Fortunately, Lady Aberlin offers to help him make a new one, and even cheers him up by saying that since he practiced with that first glass, the next one he'll make will be even better.
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    • The episode that followed (#110) has Lady Aberlin telling Mr. McFeely the events from yesterday, and the latter looks truly surprised and sympathetic.
    • In episode #1292, after a few episodes of Daniel being excited about his upcoming birthday, Daniel learns that Purple Panda doesn't have a birthday (as he was made and not born.) Since Purple Panda is so sad about it, Daniel gives him his own birthday... but by the next episode, he is sick and crying with remorse because he thinks he can't ever have anymore birthdays. Fortunately Yoshi Ito explains to him that two people can have the same birthday and he starts to feel better, but it's still quite poignant that he was willing to give up something happy for himself rather than let another person be upset.
    • In episodes #1462, Lady Elaine extensively drills the children (Prince Tuesday, Ana Platypus, and Daniel) on getting ready for school. Thanks to her, the following episode (#1463) has a distressed and tearful Daniel under the impression that he can't go to school since he doesn't know everything. Yet again, Lady Aberlin reassures him otherwise.
    • In episode #1509, Lady Aberlin gets caught up in the busy preparations of the Neighborhood picnic, and forgets to pick up Daniel, who she promised to walk with to said picnic. When she finds this out, she immediately rushes to the clock and apologizes to her disappointed friend. The two proceed to have a talk about this as Lady Aberlin recalls a time when her best friend forgot to come to her birthday party. Thankfully, they make up, but Lady Aberlin just looks so distraught, it's hard not to feel sorry for her as well.
    Lady Aberlin: (obviously concerned) Does it make you feel like we aren't really friends?
    Daniel Tiger: Kind of, but... I don't know why... but not really.
    Lady Aberlin: You know we're friends, Daniel.
    Daniel Tiger: Yes, it seems like we just are.
    Lady Aberlin: I'm still so sorry.
    Daniel Tiger: I'm not as sad as I was before. Before you came and talked to me.
    • Poor Daniel is reduced to tears again in episode #1512 after a game of tag with Lady Elaine and her imaginary friends goes wrong. He is upset that everyone runs away from him, even though that's the point of the game. It's one of those moments in which Lady Elaine went a bit too far and it's ESPECIALLY not helped when she seemingly shows No Sympathy, snarking that Daniel can't take a joke. Lady Aberlin convinces the little tiger that he doesn't have to play games that he doesn't want to play.
    • Episode #1578 has Daniel wondering if he is a mistake, just because he's not like other tigers. If you really think about it, Daniel is questioning his own existence. Part of the lyrics in the song that follows are especially tearjerking. Thing is, however, this episode actually hits home with many children who had verbally abusive parents, and those kids found peace in the episode. The documentary Won't You Be My Neighbour? twists the knife in the wound, pointing out (as mentioned below) that Rogers struggled with depression his entire life. It likely wasn't just Daniel questioning his existence in that scene.
  • Henrietta Pussycat has also her share of these moments:
    • In episode #53, Henrietta, who wanted to play Goldilocks in the Neighborhood play of Three Bears, cries when X the Owl wants to replace the character with himself as his idol, Benjamin Franklin.
    • In episode #1035, Henrietta gets upset when she accidentally lets go of her balloons during a carnival. She is immediately comforted by Lady Aberlin and Officer Clemmons who both escort her home. The way this scene plays out actually feels very much like parents trying to console a child, and anyone who's ever been in this type of situation can definitely relate.
    • In episode #1170, she is upset because she did not have the opportunity to sing in the opera in the last episode (#1169) and was too shy to ask.
    • Henrietta becomes a major Woobie in the "Jealousy" week (episodes #1176-1180) from 1971, which involved Grandpere's granddaughter, Collette visiting. There were two times in the week which involved Henrietta causing an accident due to her jealousy, which led her to break down and worry about being sent away. With all of the tension she's gone through, it's DEFINITELY a good thing her friends were there to help.
      • In episode #1177, she knocks over Collette's picture, which is, in turn, run over by Mr. McFeely riding his bicycle. In episode #1179, she wishes the cake made for Collette would knock down. (It actually does, but due to a strong gust of wind.)
    • In episode #1216, a tired Henrietta is recovering from both a stomachache and a headache, so she can't attend Mr. Appel's magic show.
    • In episode #1312, Henrietta refuses to join Lady Elaine in cementing the museum wall, not wanting to get her dress dirty. Lady Elaine calls her a sissy and the two get into an argument. After Henrietta storms off, Lady Elaine, feeling bad, wonders if it's wrong to be like herself and she should be more like Henrietta. Handyman Negri convinces her otherwise and in the next episode, he has a similar convincing talk with Henrietta.
    • Episodes #1353 and 1354 deal with a fire breaking out inside Henrietta's house.
  • Even troublesome LADY ELAINE has had her own Pet the Dog moments:
    • In episode #1624, when Neighbor Aber dresses up as a wolf, she briefly gets scared of him when he shows up. She then explains that she doesn't like wolves because someone once called her a big bad wolf.
    • In the second-to-last episode (#1764) before the series finale, Lady Elaine angers King Friday, causing him to shout, "Why must you stick your big nose into everyone's business?" Lady Aberlin later finds Elaine hiding under a quilt and feeling bad about herself until the former reassures her she's perfect the way she is. This causes a tearful Elaine to cry and realize that people don't have nice things to say about her because of vice-versa.
  • Tadpole Frogg feeling sad in episode #1002 about his family moving away to Westwood. He talks with Lady Aberlin about it and even sings a short sad song.
  • In episode #1027, everyone misses King Friday and Queen Saturday while they're away on their honeymoon, but especially Robert Troll with the latter. He just looks so downhearted and near tears that it's hard not to feel sorry for him.
  • Mister Rogers has a minor one himself in episode #1056. At the beginning of the episode, he starts working on a puzzle, but just as he's almost finished, Mr. McFeely rushes in and immediately has to take it back for another delivery. After he leaves, Mister Rogers is clearly annoyed by this, and handles the situation by pounding some clay (leading into "What Do You Do With the Mad That You Feel"). Though not entirely upsetting, it's easy to relate.
    Mister Rogers: "Speedy delivery, speedy delivery"! Rush, rush, rush... I just couldn't do it right when he was rushing me like that. I just couldn't get it right at all...
  • In episode #1100 (the one before the infamous goldfish death episode), Elsie Jean cries heavily when she learns that she and her husband, Dr. Bill Platypus, are being forced by King Friday to move away, just because their baby is going to being hatched before his own.
    • Also, when Dr. Bill wonders why his wife is crying, he asks if the egg has cracked.
  • In episode #1182, X the Owl's wing gets hit by a ball and cries in pain. It's hard to see a character usually so cheery and easygoing, break down in tears.
    • In the following episode (#1183), Corney gets his finger pinched in a machine and (having previously questioned X's crying in the earlier episode) learns it's OK to cry.
  • In episode #1486, Bob Dog, while retrieving a ball for X the Owl, falls and hurts his leg. It's hard to see him in the pain he's in.
  • In episode #1502, Queen Sarah has a similar accident, trying to plant a tree on the Eifel Tower, she falls and hurts her arm. While the others are concerned with getting her to the hospital, she's feeling guilty about not being able to help, and you feel really bad for her.
  • In episode #1224, Daniel is worried about whether or not Bob Dog is a tame animal, so he puts up signs on his clock reading "No Dogs Allowed". Bob Dog is obviously saddened by this at first, but then he manages to convince Daniel otherwise, relieving him from his worries. Though it's a slightly Out-of-Character Moment for kind Daniel, it is understandable, considering his fear from two episodes earlier, in which he accidentally scratched Handyman Negri. That having been said, it's still a pretty hard scene to watch, and poor Bob Dog even remains silent during most of this scene, though he eventually starts talking again as Daniel feels better.
  • Episode #1247 has Mr. McFeely bedridden from exhaustion from his Speedy Delivery Service. Because of this, he decides to slow down on his busy lifestyle (recalling back to his personality from the previous four seasons, in which he was a much more frantic and hurried character). He even recalls how this is affecting his grandchildren, including his granddaughter who refused to sit on his lap, because she felt he was too jumpy.
  • Episode #1274 has Edgar Cooke distressed and exhausted from having to work double time and he tearfully sings his misfortunes. Thankfully, Lady Aberlin arrives on the scene and lets him know of Harriet Cow's arrival to help Donkey Hodie with the farm.
  • Several of the "Opera" episodes have some tear jerking numbers, particularly the "Swan Song", from "Key to Otherland" from #1425, among others. As the song means goodbye, it seems fitting that the chords were used in some of the final episodes in 2001.
  • Episode #1455 from 1975 and the sole week of shows produced in 1976 (#1456-1460) become this when viewed as the finale to the original series:
    • While it's not explicitly stated that these would be the last television visits, the Neighborhood of Make-Believe segment in 1455 ends with everyone heading off to remember past adventures, making reference to events that occurred in previous episodes, and Mr. Rogers subsequently discusses remembering and looking forward in a manner that has an aspect of finality to it.
    • #1456-1460 serves mainly as a bridge between this episode and the beginning of the repeat cycle, with Mr. Rogers and a different regular each show (Mr. McFeely, Betty Aberlin, Joe Negri, Chef Brockett and Francois Clemmons) watching old videotapes of the show in his garage (a set constructed specifically for this week) and explaining some of the Early Installment Weirdness (including the lack of distinction between the "real" neighborhood and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, which was Retconned as the "real" neighbors pretending). There's a wistful quality to many of the scenes with Mr. Rogers and the other actors; again, while not explicitly stating the show is over, each visit is essentially a farewell appearance.
    • Plus, for pre-1979 fans, episode #1459 not only features the very last performance of "Tomorrow", but one of the only times this and "It's Such a Good Feeling" are sung in the same episode together.
      • Fred probably thought at the time that it would indeed be the last episode of the show, given that after this, the show went into a three-year production hiatus. He probably didn’t foresee that production would resume three years later.
  • In episode #1483 (Big Bird's visit), a downhearted Chef Brockett visits Mister Rogers' and recalls his disappointment over a cake decorating contest he didn't win.
  • In the week of episodes #1516-1520, King Friday and Queen Sara leave on a trip without Prince Tuesday. In episode #1519, Prince Tuesday wakes up crying from a nightmare he had about a lost little fish who can't find his mother.
  • It's hard not to feel sorry for Prince Tuesday in episode #1542, when he gets sent to his room by King Friday, for touching the latter's tricycle without permission.
  • Poor Ana Platypus gets jealous of Prince Tuesday's new bicycle in episode #1569, and cries when her parents can't afford to get her a bike. Dr. Bill reassures her that it's "a matter of money, not a matter of love." This can definitely strike a chord with people who are especially struggling with financial problems.
  • A scene in episode #1591 has a moment that counts as both this and extremely heartwarming. Mr. McFeely delivers Mister Rogers a videotape, which was supposed to show how harmonicas were made. After he leaves, Mister Rogers finds out he received the wrong tape, but being ever so flexible, watches it anyway, which shows how gardening hoses are made. However, a worried Mr. McFeely returns and reveals that a customer who was supposed to receive the gardening hose tape, had reprimanded him for receiving the wrong copy. Anyone who's made a mistake at work and put down by a customer can definitely relate and Mr. McFeely almost looks very torn up, especially when he asks Mister Rogers if he has made any bad deliveries. The rest of the scene with Fred being so understanding is just too precious for words, as he even sings him "You Are Special".
    Mister Rogers: You've certainly made a lot of deliveries for me.
    Mr. McFeely: They haven't been so bad, have they?
    Mister Rogers: Bad? Why, you're so special to me, I don't know what I'd do without you and your Delivery Service.
    Mr. McFeely: But I've made some mistakes for you too.
    Mister Rogers: Well, who hasn't made mistakes in his work?
    Mr. McFeely: Well, I guess we all make mistakes sometimes. But, those people made me feel so bad. I mean, they made me feel so small... not worth anything.
    Mister Rogers: Maybe they were having a hard day too, Mr. McFeely.
  • Mister Rogers' visit with Koko the Gorilla (episode #1727) counts mostly as a Heartwarming moment, but when their visit comes to an end, they just spend time looking at each other, and at one point, Koko looks away, saddened and almost teary-eyed when Mister Rogers has to leave soon.
  • In episode #1748, when King Friday gets angry when Hula Mouse goes missing. In his anger, he breaks the toy that Lady Aberlin had bought. When he leaves, Hula Mouse, Lady Aberlin, and Lady Elaine have a few seconds of stunned silence, and Lady Aberlin almost looks as if she might cry.
    • In the following episode, Lady Aberlin still seems deeply hurt before King Friday tries to apologize.
  • LeVar Burton visiting from Reading Rainbow (episode #1725) and sharing a touching story about fathers ("The Daddy Book" by Ann Morris).
  • A minor one but in episode #1725 (LeVar Burton's visit), his voice breaks for a brief moment while singing the "Good Feeling" song. This actually foreshadows the second-to-last episode of the series (#1764), when this instance occurs again.
  • The final episode premiered less than two weeks before America and the world entered a period where they could have used Mr. Rogers's help more than ever... and he gave it. Doubles as a Heartwarming Moment.
  • In terms of the original music written for the show, The Truth Will Make Me Free, which is about learning to not suppress negative emotions. In episode 1396, Francois Clemmons and John Costa perform a particularly beautiful version of this song that's a Tear Jerker in its own right.
  • When the Twitch Marathon came to its finale, thousands of viewers were united in bidding farewell to Fred Rogers one last time. Tears were shed, and feels were had, as the Twitch Chat pleaded for their TV Dad not to leave, knowing that there wouldn't be a next time for Fred Rogers. Doubles as another Heartwarming Moment, for how much love and appreciation was expressed for all the good that Mister Rogers gave to the world once more. As the show does not acknowledge its own finale, it ends with Mr. Rogers still singing the normal ending song telling us that he'll be back again... which the viewer of course knows isn't true. Which is why the fandom rejoiced when a repeat of the marathon was announced in 2018.
  • The documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? shows how Rogers battled depression later in his life, wondering whether his show actually made any difference in the world. He was particularly shaken by 9/11, as evidenced by the footage included of his filming the PBS spots afterwards and struggling not to cry between takes. This makes his dedication to being so accessible to his fans, and not letting his mask slip in public, even more admirable and heart-rendering.
    • The talk for his memorial is this as well, when the crew discuss having to witness the infamous Westboro Baptist Church doing their typical picketing of his memorial simply because of his tolerance of homosexuality. One of the crew mentioned seeing the children, who looked incredibly miserable, and said that if Fred had been alive to see those poor children forced to do those type of unjust things, he would have been devastated.

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