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Tear Jerker / Moral Orel

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Moral Orel is probably the darkest piece of Western Animation ever made. It deals with a ton of mature themes that even cartoons that pride themselves on how mature their content is will refuse to touch on. Tissue and emergency cuddle preparation is advised.

  • The Christmas Special, where Orel's parents split up. Especially the end: " There's still two minutes left in today. I know you can make this the best Christmas ever. I have faith in you!" Never has a Hope Spot been so depressing.
  • "Love", while one of the "silly" episodes, is about how the town of Moralton convinces Orel to put down his dog, mostly because the town found him annoying. It's a real Kick the Dog moment for much of the cast.
  • "Nature", the two-parter in which the series started to show some stubble, features Clay taking Orel out on a hunting trip, pressuring him to kill an animal, and ultimately getting drunk, crying, and shooting his son in the leg. There's a shot that shows two days passing before Clay comes to and drives Orel home.
    • "Oh God...I hate myself."
    • At one point in the speech Clay gives before shooting Orel, he struggles to remove his belt and accidentally drops his pants, which is the show's Running Gag. He's too drunk to put them back on properly and simply falls down, smashing his tent, curls up in to the fetal position half-naked, and breaks into tears. In front of his own son. It's not Played for Laughs.
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    • The fact that Orel never completely heals from the gunshot wound; he has the limp all his life. This may have been averted if his parents had taken him to a competent doctor, rather than one who would simply keep his mouth shut.
      • Or if Clay hadn't waited two days to drive him to the hospital.
    • There is one line in particular: "It's because you become a bad person when you drink!" Just the way Orel loses his composure, while his voice breaks, visibly on the verge of crying... Carolyn Lawrence's voice acting absolutely nails it. This happens after Clay, desperate for a drink as Orel had shattered the only liquor he'd brought, drinks the rubbing alcohol that would have been far better served helping Orel's injury.
    • "I hate you." The tone in his voice is simply chilling.
  • And then we get to Season 3. Holy shit does it fall into this category; at this point, it barely counts as a comedy series. The season's highlights include:
    • "Dumb", wherein Joe beats his senile father's face in for thinking the mother of his child was dead.
    • "Passing", which is about Clay's Start of Darkness. We learn that his mother coddles him because she had multiple miscarriages due to her excessive drinking and smoking. When Clay fakes suicide as a practical joke, his mother has a heart attack and dies. Clay's father threatens to beat him, but tells him he's not even worth it. From there, Clay associates physical abuse with worth, and constantly reminds him of his dead wife to get attention.
      • This one's made even worse by the fact that his mother convinced herself that God had answered her prayer to "take me and not him". His mother was also the one who ingrained the "Lost Commandments" into him, which he then passes on to Orel.
      • Clay, as a child, deliberately antagonizing his father in order to provoke an abusive response, as it's the only type of attention he can get from him. Set to the tune of "Love, Love, Love" by the Mountain Goats.
        Clay: Not...worth it?
      • Doubly effective as the song comes from The Sunset Tree, an album whose songs are connected by the concept of John Darnielle's own abusive stepfather.
      • Clay's father introduces Clay to "Ol' Gunny", a revolver that, Clay's father explains, has for years been handed down from the head of the Puppington household to the eldest son. Clay's father, disgusted with his son, informs Clay that this is the end of the tradition; there will be no coming-of-age hunting trip for the two. Alone, Clay says to the pistol, "Don't worry, Ol' Gunny. I'll keep the tradition going." Cut to years later, when an aged Clay considers giving Ol' Gunny to his son... but doesn't.
      • It's very possible that Clay's mom constantly coddling and spoiling him played just as much of a role in his descent to the monster he is in the modern day as his father's abusiveness and distance did.
      • "Help" is the other half of Clay's Start of Darkness. It is revealed that Clay actually had the chance to live a normal life, but Bloberta pressured him to turn to alcohol so he'd marry her.
    • The ending of "Numb" may be the most tearjerking depiction of a failing marriage in the history of television. See for yourself.
      • The rest of the episode is about Bloberta deliberately tearing apart her genitals to seduce a doctor with a gore fetish. Made even darker when the viewer learns the doctor's wife may have died doing the same thing.
      • The ending of "Numb". Clay and Bloberta lie in their respective beds, considering their broken marriage, as the Mountain Goats' "No Children" plays.
    • "Grounded", in which Orel tries to kill himself multiple times in an attempt to meet God. What follows is a near-death dream sequence with some of the most intense imagery ever to appear on Adult Swim, including Church!Orel rocking regular Orel back and forth in his arms, Bartholomew, and even the hunting trip which hadn't even happened yet chronologically. The real tearjerker, though, comes from when Orel tries to tell of what he saw of Heaven, and Clay later whips him for the sake of keeping up the town's religious status quo; with each strike, the image of Oral as a church gradually recedes until it's just a regular church. Clay literally beat Orel's revelation out of him.
      • During Orel's second near-death experience, he finds himself inside an empty church, and begins hearing his beloved dog barking. And then he gets yanked out as he's brought back to life.
        Orel: Bartholomew?, no, wait-wait-wait-wait! Bartholomew!!
    • "Alone", which observes three unrelated victims of sexual abuse alone in their apartments.
      • Nurse Bendy, the town bicycle, is shown to mentally regress to a childlike state, playing house with her teddy bears to cover up the fact that she hates herself for letting men sexually use her. This is made even worse when her "Hubby" bear is knocked from its chair and onto her backside while she was cleaning up a spilled sandwich. This, coupled with his spilling milk on her face in the process, triggers a panic attack at the thought that even her fantasy Husband only wants her for sex.
        Bendy: And thank You kindly for keeping our joyous family together under this one love-filled roof. We all need people who aren't mean to me, or don't act like they only care about doing dirty, awful things to you. We need family because they care that I'm a real person, who has thoughts of... sadness, sometimes, along with happy thoughts, or scared, or alone-ness thoughts. I feel thoughts of emotions, and I need people to know that. So... thank You for keeping this family in good shape. The end, for now, while we eat. Signed, my family! Wow - my eye is really sweating up a storm, here!
      • Miss Sculptham, who is in love with her rapist and, as heavily implied by the bloody coat hanger she keeps aroundnote , aborted the unborn child that was conceived from the rape. It's hinted that she also intentionally lured him in by dyeing her hair brunette, as he "didn't like blondes".
      • And finally there's Miss Censordoll, whose obsession with chicken eggs (as seen in an earlier episode) stems from the fact that her mother had her ovaries surgically removed when she was an infant, which has deluded Miss Censordoll into believing that she is God.
        Censordoll: I was an infant when I had them - I was an infant when you had them removed. So for all intents and purposes, I am immaculate from conception. I am not Holier Than Thou, mother... but I am holier than you.
      • Just to show you how soul-crushingly depressing it is, this was the episode that got the series cancelled.
    • "Help" gives us a brief glimpse of Bloberta's family, and unfortunately, it's not a happy one. Bloberta's mother, Mrs. Hymentact, not only displayed Parental Favoritism towards Bloberta's older sister and younger brother due to them having perfect pitch, but she would also routinely snap and scream at her husband when he so much as tried to get one word in edgewise. As a result, Mr. Hymentact was such a Nervous Wreck that he could only think about trying to make a case for his youngest daughter, and he is never seen without an alcoholic beverage in his hands. While Bloberta did genuinely appreciate the thought, when she told her dad that she loved him, he stiffened and immediately stopped talking again.
    • "Closeface" shows Stephanie's past experience with the Arms' Length Dance, and it's clear right from the beginning that Kim, the object of Stephanie's affections, did not feel the same way; instead, Kim saw their "relationship" as a fun joke to play on Reverend Putty, and a way to get the attention of her future husband, Karl. Near the end of the episode, Reverend Putty reveals that the reason he was upset that night wasn't because Stephanie was kissing another girl; it was because he could see that Kim was taking advantage of her, and he felt bad for her. Also counts as a Heartwarming Moment, especially since that incident was long before Putty and Stephanie found out they were father and daughter.
    • The ending of "Sundays". Reverend Putty, himself in an awful mood, looks around at the congregation for inspiration for his sermon (entitled "Hope"). The townspeople are all depressed, due to their own lives being in shambles; in desperation, Putty looks for the one person he can rely on to always be cheerful and optimistic: Orel. However, when Putty finds Orel in the crowd, he discovers Orel in a similar state, his leg in a cast due to the hunting accident. Defeated, Putty changes the title of the sermon from "Hope" to "Hopeless".
      • This is turned around completely in the next episode, however. Putty gives a long sermon about how while things may seem hopeless, you should never despair, because God is with you even then and will always look after you. Orel is brought out of his funk and returns to his cheerful ways.
    • "Sacrifice", in which Clay attempts to start a bar fight by spewing misogynistic hate and reminding Doctor Potterswheel about how he accidentally killed his wife. When he only succeeds in driving everyone away from him without a punch being thrown, he breaks down in the empty bar and cries.
      • Considering that Clay as a child associates being abused with attention and worth and his crappy marriage, his attempt to start that bar fight may have been a genuine attempt to gain some affection, something sorely lacking in his own marriage. From that perspective, it's really quite twisted.
      • As creator Dino Stamatopoulos was going through a nasty divorce around the time the episode was made, it's entirely possible that some of his darker thoughts regarding women and fidelity slipped their way into Clay's speech at the end.
      • The ending of "Sacrifice". Having driven all his friends to hating him, Clay spends his time in the bar getting drunk, not going to church, work, or even home to see his family on Easter.
      • Especially sad as Clay misses his (okay, Daniel's) son's first complete sentence.
      Shapey: When I'm thirsty, it feels how I feel when I'm alone.
    • In the episode "Honor", Clay, whom we manically flip between loathing entirely and feeling sorry for, finally snaps and comes out of the closet in front of his entire family, confessing his love to his best friend who coldly rejects him, having come over the course of the episode to realize what a monster Clay is. While it's one of the most heartwarming episodes of the series as far as wrapping everything up (tearjerking in its own right), it serves as the final nail in Clay's coffin. If we can judge by the pictures on the walls of adult!Orel's house, Clay pretty much lives and dies alone and unloved by anybody except out of obligation.
  • Beforel Orel's depiction of Orel losing his rationality in favor of blind faith is profoundly depressing, even if he doesn't end up corrupted by the town's problems.
    • "Grandpa! GOD stopped me! Through you!" "No....."
    • It goes double if the watcher has been raised in a similar corrupt church (and I stress 'church' not religion) or has known someone raised in one. Kinda sinks in how much of a bullet you dodged, doesn't it?
  • Whatever you may feel about Clay, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him in Beforel Orel when he cries in the pub as he realizes that he never touched Bloberta and could never have conceived Shapey with her.
    • Same thing happened to Clay when confronts his father while breaking into tears in front of the latter. Arthur realized how his shunning towards his son resulted. But the true dagger to Arthur's (and the audience's) heart is that Clay refuses to reconcile and tells Orel not to trust Arthur out of spite.
  • Orel and Arthur's relationship becomes Harsher in Hindsight, when you remember that Arthur's abuse towards Clay has warped Clay's mindset to the point of making him think that belting Orel shows how much he loves him. Arthur basically started this whole cycle of toxic father-son relationships without even realizing it, and poor Orel, the very grandson that he genuinely loved and cared for got stuck in it. Imagine what would've happened if this series continued and Orel himself knew about it.
  • Beforel Orel ends with Orel's first belting, at age four. To make it worse, he was so excited to see Clay's study for the first time.

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